Scribbles of the Mind by Elie N. Azar is a poetry book with the main theme of love in its many forms. We see love that overcomes pain and endures in the midst of staggering heartbreak, love of family, love of self, love of friends, forever love, and more. Nature is often used to describe the many facets of love.
I enjoyed every one of these poems. Some of my favorites were The Oath of an Aching Soul, The Love That Hid in the Cracks of Their Home, The Dawn of a Sunset, and Changing Seasons of an Unchanged Love.
I must mention The Sunset Climb, Cracked Smile, and A Melting Fire. These three poems have only one line each, however, each line is very powerful. Authors search for these types of magical words when writing novels. Perhaps that’s next for Elie N. Azar.
I downloaded this book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can borrow it for free. I highly recommend you check it out.
The Kitchen Front is a wonderful book which feels like a World War II based combination of Downton Abbey and the Great British Baking Show. In Fenley Village, England, 1942, Ambrose Hart is reluctantly looking for a radio cohost. His bosses have decided they want a local woman who can help listeners find the best uses for their food rations. A cooking contest begins, and the winner will be Ambrose’s co-host on The Kitchen Front radio show. The four contestants are Audrey, who is trying to raise three sons and wallowing in a mountain of debt, Nell, a kitchen maid who is tired of her poor treatment, Lady Gwendoline Strickland, the haughty grand lady of the manor, who is both Nell’s boss and Audrey’s sister, and Zelda Dupont, an English girl turned London-based French chef who has been forced to cook in a British factory and is not happy about it. As the show progresses, each woman’s life begins to change forever.
I immediately connected with the characters and the story. The “upstairs/downstairs,” “Downton Abbey” type relationship is demonstrated by Lady Gwendoline, Sir Strickland, and their cooks and other staff. The radio show cooking contest reminds me of a World War II radio version of the Great British Baking Show. For the contest, each contestant has to provide a starter, a main dish, and a dessert, all on different episodes of the show. All of the recipes for the contest, plus others mentioned in the story, are included in the book. We are given a window into each contestant’s life, both before and during the contest. Audrey is a grieving war widow. Gwendoline is a neglected wife of a strict and domineering nobleman. Zelda is pregnant and abandoned by the child’s father, and Nell is a young girl who wants to get out of the bonds of service. Interesting tidbits about food and history are included, such as why British sausages are called “bangers,” and how some villagers would run to “Anderson shelters,” to escape the bombings. We even get a little education on World War II era planes. I enjoyed every minute of this book, read it in one day, and will read it again.
If you love cooking and cooking shows, World War II fiction, and strong female characters, you will enjoy this book.
The Kitchen Front will be released on February 23, 2021. I highly recommend it.
I received a free copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Ryan is the author of National Bestseller THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR, THE SPIES OF SHILLING LANE, and THE KITCHEN FRONT. Her writing has featured in Literary Hub, Moms Don’t Have Time to Write, The Daily Mail, The Irish Times, The Express, BBC Online, YOU Magazine, The Simple Things Magazine, and Good Reading Magazine. Previously a book editor with The Economist, DK, and the BBC, she moved from London to Washington, DC after marrying, and she now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two children. Her novels are inspired by her grandmother’s tales of the war in Britain.
Sophie is a wedding expert whose job is to become part of the bridal party and do whatever the family needs, from small errands to full-blown wedding planning. Her most important task is to manage crises that occur during or before the wedding, such as a drunk groom or missing “luxury” port-a-potties. When she is hired to become a bridesmaid for the difficult daughter of a Marchioness, Sophie encounters her biggest challenge yet, and possibly a romance.
“Sophie is a professional bridesmaid.” Just that much of the description of this hilarious British romcom had me hooked, and I had to know more. This is such a fun book. The idea of a professional bridesmaid is intriguing, and the author will have you chuckling with some of the crazy email exchanges Sophie has with clients. We learn a little bit about British nobility, but this is mostly a book about friendship, with a nice little romance to boot. This book takes us from humor to heartbreak and back again, with a lot of wedding hijinks thrown in. You will laugh aloud, and maybe even shed a tear, while reading this delightful book. Fans of romantic comedies, friendship reads, and weddings will enjoy this book.
The Secret Bridesmaid will be released on May 4, 2021.
I received a free copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.
After attending Woldingham School in Surrey, Katy Birchall went to the University of Manchester where she studied English Literature and Linguistics before gaining a Master’s degree in Post-1900 Literature, Theories and Cultures.
Katy is the author of the side-splittingly funny The It Girl: Superstar Geek, The It Girl: Team Awkward and The It Girl: Don’t Tell the Bridesmaid. Her series, Secrets of a Teenage Heiress, was released in 2018.
Katy won the 24/7 Theatre Festival Award for Most Promising New Comedy Writer with her very serious play about a ninja monkey at a dinner party. Her pet labradors are the loves of her life, she is mildly obsessed with Jane Austen and one day she hopes to wake up as an elf in The Lord of the Rings.
R&R Book Tours is a great service that helps authors find Bloggers and Bookstagrammers to review their books. Their business is booming, and as a result, they are looking for both Bloggers and Bookstagrammers to review ARCs. The ARCs come in epub, mobi, PDF, and sometimes print format. You only review books you are interested in, and they offer many different genres.
If you are interested, contact Shannon at email@example.com. I have been reviewing for them for several months, and they are friendly and helpful, and always answer questions right away. There are lots of great books available, and because they’ve gotten so popular and do such a good job, they need more of us to review them. You can also check them out at the link in the photo above if you are interested.
I started doing Netgalley book reviews in October of 2019 and I’ve been reviewing off and on on Goodreads since about 2014. I’ve put up about 220 reviews on Netgalley and almost 400 on Goodreads. I have learned some things that may be helpful, especially to new or Indie authors. These observations are just my opinion based on what I’ve seen after 200 plus reviews, but I hope they can be of help to authors. Please let me know your opinions or additional hints in the comments below
THE COVER MATTERS:
I have seen great books with obviously homemade covers. One cover I saw looked like it was home-drawn in pencil, and the erasures were visible. This is a shame because the book was great and I gave it five stars. When a reader is scrolling through millions of books on Kindle or Kindle Unlimited, the cover needs to stand out. Above is my opinion of an eye-catching cover. It’s interesting, colorful, and it gives you an idea of what to expect in the book. This would stop my scrolling and make me want to check the book out. A poor cover is not going to draw anyone to your book, and it is more than likely that very few people will see it. In my opinion, a professional graphic artist/designer is needed and should be part of your marketing budget. Nowadays, not only is a great cover very important, but many authors are adding animated covers and book trailers. Here is a great article on how to animate your own book cover: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2021/01/18/how-to-animate-your-book-cover/
A noticeable cover is necessary and can pay for itself eventually in added sales.
2. KINDLE UNLIMITED:
There are some advantages to using Kindle Unlimited, especially if you are a new or self-published author. Millions of readers have the opportunity to borrow your book for free. Some of them will hopefully post reviews, and then you can make the decision as to when to take it off KU and start charging for it later. The biggest advantage I’ve noticed for myself as a reviewer is that since I have Kindle Unlimited, I can pick your book up for free on my own without having to receive a free copy from you. For those who aren’t aware, if a reviewer receives a free copy of a book for review, they are required by law to say that they received a free copy, who they received it from, and add the fact that their review is voluntary. Amazon has recently been blocking reviews of books received directly from the author, so I don’t usually accept books directly from the author anymore. I prefer they come from a third party such as Netgalley, Booksirens, or other sites, or an agent or publisher, or I get them myself on Kindle Unlimited if they are available.
3. GET ON SOCIAL MEDIA NOW:
I’ve reviewed books for several new authors who have little to no social media following. If you’re reading this and you have plans to write a book, get on social media now. Start a blog and get on Goodreads, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites, and start making connections now. Don’t wait until your book is done to try and get a following. I saw an author post recently that they were turned down by an agent because they did not have a large enough social media following. Start taking care of that now. When I started, I had no idea how to create a blog, but about 30 minutes on Youtube was enough of an education to get started on WordPress, and I’m still learning. #Bookstagram on Instagram is a big deal. As I type this, there are 56 million posts on Instagram with the #Bookstagram hashtag. That’s a lot of visibility. Twitter has a large writing community as well. There are thousands of book review blogs on WordPress, including mine. Join us and review books while you share your life, your other hobbies, and your writing progress, and get some followers before you publish. Get your followers to fall in love with your book even before you publish it. One of my favorite authors, Jodi Taylor, started out as self published (at the age of 60), created a huge Facebook following, and is now a best-selling author with a major publisher. If video is your thing or you have a natural gift for speaking, start a Youtube channel or a podcast. The most important thing is to GET OUT THERE NOW. Don’t wait until your book is finished. *I’ve just read elsewhere that this is a sensitive topic, and I don’t mean to upset anyone, but this is the age of social media and as an indie author, you will need to market your own books, and having a social media following will help.
4. THINK ABOUT BLOGGING TOURS:
There are several tour companies out there who will put your new book content out on many blogs that agree to be “hosts,” so that all of the blog’s subscribers get to see your cover, a description, and anything else you want, including reviews and book trailers. They are a great way to spread the news about your book. I have done several promos for R&R Book Tours and RABT Book Tours, but there are many others.
A lot of people know about Netgalley, but Booksirens is another service that will provide reviewers for your book, and from what I hear it’s less expensive than some of the others. Please correct me in the comments if I’m wrong about that. They also provide very detailed statistics for each reviewer so the author can know more about the person who is reviewing their book. My statistics are shared if you click on the widget below:
6. BETA READERS:
Some authors enlist some volunteer beta readers to help them do initial reviews of their drafts. This can be helpful in finding typos and providing initial reactions to the book. If you have created a social media following, getting volunteer beta readers will be easy.
PLEASE LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON THESE TOPICS AND ANY OTHER HELPFUL HINTS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION.
See my previous review of Loving Modigliani below. I really enjoyed this one! Loving Modigliani is on sale starting Feb 14th through February 17th on Amazon. The ebook price has been reduced to $3.99. It’s a great time to pick up your copy(Amazon Link). As you can see from my raving review below, I highly recommend you check this out. I’ve joined another blog tour to help promote this great book. The tour schedule is:
Loving Modigliani is one of those books that is so good that I don’t feel my review will do it justice. It is so good that I stopped halfway through and bought it in print version because I only had an electronic copy. I always keep print copies of my favorite books. It is so good that I didn’t want to put it down, and I was sad when it was finished. It made me realize that if I ever write a book I need to demand this type of excellence in my own work. I even created a new Category on this blog, Diamond Level Reads, for books that are beyond special. Below is my humble attempt at a review and my bow to an accomplished author, Linda Lappin, who has woven together a remarkable piece of fiction based on real events.
It is Paris, 1920. It is also Jeanne Hébuterne’s day of death, 48 hours after her common-law husband, Amedeo Modigliani, died of meningitis. Modigliani was an early 20th Century artist of post impressionist inspired portraits and nudes who died basically destitute, but became famous years later. As the book begins, we meet Hébuterne on the street where her body lies after she fell or jumped, despondent and hugely pregnant, out of a window. We follow her spirit to a wheelbarrow rumbling through the streets of 1920’s Paris, which is described in such detail that we feel we are there. We watch along with Hébuterne’s spirit as her belongings are stolen, including her diary, a bangle, and a family portrait. We flash back with her to her life with Modigliani and her own growth as an artist. We cheer her as she struggles to move forward and begins to search the afterlife for her beloved “Modi.”
In a separate timeline in the 1980s, an art student stumbles upon some long hidden secrets and is given a window into the life of Jeanne Hébuterne. What will she do with this information and who will try to stop her?
This is an amazing historical novel with sub-genres of fantasy, mystery, and the paranormal. It is a tribute to the art world of Paris, specifically the post-impressionist era of the early 1900s. Linda Lappin’s ability to describe the sights, sounds, and smells of 1920’s Paris transports us there immediately. Her portrayal of the art and artists of that time is meticulously researched. Her ability to create a work that seamlessly binds together history, mystery, fantasy, and the paranormal is awe-inspiring. Her characters are so real you can see them, feel them, love them, and hate them. Lappin’s description of Hébuterne’s afterlife is full of unexpected turns, pitfalls, and surprises with huge nods to the art world. The realities of Jeanne’s life with Modigliani are shown to us, from infidelity to drunkenness to abuse and neglect, but above all we are shown Jeanne’s all-consuming love for this man, so well described in this book. Lappin shares the spirit and talent of Jeanne Hébuterne in so many ways, through her art, her music, and her steadfast determination and willingness to buck the rules of society. I wish I could speak more of the last line of the book without giving out any spoilers, but it is a perfect ending, tying everything together.
My personal rules for historical novels, regardless of sub-genre, is that they must transport me to that time and place. Loving Modigliani did this instantly. They must also teach me something, and I learned so much about the 1900s Paris art scene that I am interested in exploring it further.
Although I was given a free digital copy via Netgalley, I also bought a print copy on Amazon. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
About the Author:
Prize-winning novelist Linda Lappin is the author of four novels: The Etruscan (Wynkin de Worde, 2004), Katherine’s Wish (Wordcraft , 2008), Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery (Pleasureboat Studio, 2013), and The Soul of Place (Travelers Tales, 2015). Signatures in Stone won the Daphne DuMaurier Award for best mystery of 2013. The Soul of Place won the gold medal in the Nautilus Awards in the Creativity category.
Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet both find themselves guests of the Kendall Family at a month-long house party in a grand estate in Derbyshire. Elizabeth is implored to attend by her cousin Rose Kendall, and Darcy is a friend of Rose’s husband Nicholas. Darcy is immediately captivated by Elizabeth, but knows he is expected to marry a woman of greater means. When a murder occurs on a neighboring estate, and then one of the Kendall’s guests is attacked, the evidence appears stacked against Mr. Darcy. Will Elizabeth listen to the murmurings against Mr. Darcy, or will she rally to his side?
This is a compelling take on Pride and Prejudice, combining the classic love story with a murder mystery in a new and different setting. Not all of the original characters make an appearance in this variation, but the characters presented are interesting and well developed. This is not a typical Pride and Prejudice variation, but the attraction between Elizabeth and Darcy is palpable, and the conflict between them is well done. The addition of the murder mystery takes this variation to a new level. Miller has an amazing ability to create a fascinating but horrifying villain and provides a back story for the murderer that is chilling and captivating.
Fans of both historical romance and mysteries will enjoy this new take on a time-honored love story.
I downloaded this book on Kindle Unlimited, where KU subscribers can borrow the book for free.
Kelly Miller is a native Californian and Anglophile, who made her first visit to England in 2019. When not pondering a plot point or a turn of phrase, she can be found playing the piano (although like Elizabeth Bennet, she is errant when it comes to practicing), singing, and walking her dogs. Kelly Miller resides in Silicon Valley with her husband, daughter, and their many pets. A Constant Love is her fourth book published by Meryton Press. The first three are novels: Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley, a Pride and Prejudice Regency romantic sequel with a touch of fantasy; Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match, a Pride and Prejudice Regency romantic variation; and Accusing Mr. Darcy, a Pride and Prejudice Regency romantic mystery. Kelly’s blog page is found at http://kellymiller.merytonpress.com, her Twitter handle is @kellyrei007, Instagram: http://kelly.miller.author, and she is on Facebook: http://facebook.Author.Kelly.Miller
Kelly has a new novella that has just been released. It is called A Consuming Love: A Pride and Prejudice Variation. The Amazon Description is below:
The methodical world of rich, proud Fitzwilliam Darcy is in chaos: a country lady of modest origins has utterly captivated him.
The knowledge that Elizabeth Bennet is an unsuitable match fails to diminish Darcy’s fascination for her, nor does his self-imposed distance from the lady hinder her ability to intrude upon his thoughts at all hours of the day. What can solve his dilemma?
When circumstances compel Darcy’s return to Hertfordshire in assistance of his friend Mr. Bingley, he must confront his unfathomable attraction to Miss Elizabeth.
In this “Pride & Prejudice” Regency novella, one afternoon spent in company with Miss Elizabeth Bennet is enough to make an indelible and life-altering impression upon Darcy, setting him on a rocky course towards the fulfillment of his desires. Will Darcy attain happiness, or will his ingrained pride be his downfall?
A Consuming Love is only $3.99 on Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited subscribers can borrow it for free. Link
This is a book promo only. I haven’t read it, but check out the book trailer! It looks good. Links to buy are below.
Welcome to the blog tour for Father & Sun by Ross Victory! Read on for more details!Father & SunPublication Date: December 20th, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Some say family is everything. Some say family are just people we’re assigned to at birth.
Trey Amana, a forty-something, hardworking father of two, discovered his dad’s death five years ago on the day after Christmas. Although Trey has grieved and prioritized his health, holiday music and decorations trigger painful memories. To take the final step toward healing the loss while saving extra cash for his holiday-obsessed kids, Trey decides to close his late father’s storage unit once and for all.
Trey discovers a journal written during his father’s college years. His dad, Art, reveals an outrageous family secret driving Trey into a wormhole of suspicions. With family members en-route to Trey’s home, Trey is burdened by the need for answers while somehow producing a hospitable Christmas.
Father & Sun explores how secrets and well-meaning motivations from the past can have a counteractive generational impact.
Father & Sun contemplates life in the shadows or life standing on the Sun (owning one’s truth), speaking to the passing of the torch from father to son, what it means to be honorable, and the spiritual, emotional, and mental effect on heirs.
Available on Amazon!About the Author
Ross Victory is a singer/songwriter turned author from Southern California. After the back to back loss of his father and brother, Ross dove into self-discovery and healing practices, which reignited his passion for writing and music production. Ross uses his unique voice and social intersections to inspire and entertain listeners and readers through Urban Adult Contemporary music, and literature, with a focus on non-fiction and thematic novelettes and short stories.
Poppy Redfern and the Fatal Flyers is the second book in the “A Woman of World War II” mystery series by Tessa Arlen. Although it is the second in a series, it can be read as a standalone. It is 1942 and Poppy, employed by the London Crown Film Unit as a scriptwriter during the war, is sent to work on location at an airfield. The film she is working on is about the Air Transport Auxiliary pilots, or “Attagirls.” This amazing group of female pilots flew many different types of planes and transported them to airfields all over Britain during World War II. Sometimes these transports occurred during severe weather conditions. Poppy begins to work on the film and starts to get to know this intriguing group of talented and professional female pilots. When two “Attagirls” are killed in accidents during seemingly routine flights, Poppy and her boyfriend Griff begin to investigate.
This was such an interesting read, especially since I had never heard of the “Attagirls.” The history of these brave women is fascinating, and the author provides more facts about them in a historical note at the end of the book. The murder mystery is well done, with many twists, turns, and red herrings. The villain is not easy to figure out, so the reader is surprised at the end. The characters are compelling and well developed. Our heroine, Poppy, proves to be a witty and clever sleuth. Her relationship with her boyfriend Griff is complicated at times, but that just makes it more interesting. This is a great combination of World War II historical fiction and cozy mystery. I would recommend this book to fans of both genres.
Tessa Arlen is the author of the critically acclaimed Lady Montfort mystery series—Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman was a finalist for the 2016 Agatha Award Best First Novel. She is also the author of Poppy Redfern: A Woman of World War II mystery series. And the author of the historical fiction: In Royal Service to the Queen.
Tessa lives in the Southwest with her family and two corgis where she gardens in summer and writes in winter.
Comes The War by Ed Ruggero is Book 2 in the Eddie Harkins series. It is April 1944, and the allies are preparing to invade France. Lieutenant Eddie Harkins is in England and is on orders to join the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) when an American civilian employee is murdered. Eddie finds himself in charge of the investigation, but his superiors settle on a suspect very quickly. Ordered to close the case, but doubting the guilt of the accused, Eddie continues his investigation. He is aided by his driver, Private Pamela Lowell, a smart and resourceful ally.
This was a fascinating look at the Allied forces in WWII England in 1944 prior to D-Day. It combines a fictional murder investigation with actual World War II history in a compelling way. The political fights between the commanding generals and the “air” vs.”ground” war philosophy are intriguing. It contradicts some of the history books on the effectiveness of the air campaign during the war. It speaks of Major General James Doolittle, whose bombing raids may have caused thousands of unnecessary deaths with no real strategic wins. I also learned that General Dwight D. Eisenhower was so upset by the pushback from the Army Air Force and Royal Air Force generals against his plans that he threatened to quit his command and return to the United States just a few months before D-Day. I have read many books set in World War II, but this one really made me want to read more about the strategic military history of the day.
The characters are well developed, and the murder mystery and investigation are interesting and engaging, with many twists and turns. I would recommend this book both to fans of World War II history and fans of crime/thriller fiction.
I received a free copy of this book from MacMillan/Tor-Forge via Netgalley for Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary.
Comes The War was released February 9th, 2021. The link to buy is below.