Books and Me

My Top Read of 2017

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I have read so many great books this year and singling out just one has been torture. The book I recount vividly and found it hard to tear myself away from to get on with day to day life was…

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah. J. Maas

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Find my review: here.

I plan to continue with the series in 2018. My expectations are extremely high, and I have heard some brilliant things.


Content belongs to K.J.Chapman

 

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Guest Post

Guest Post: Kayla Krantz on Overcoming Self Doubt.

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I hope everyone who celebrates has had a fantastic Christmas and not worked too hard over the festive period. Writerly Bookish Stuff has been quiet for a few days, but is now back with a bang. I have the pleasure of hosting author, Kayla Krantz, and she is here to discuss that dreaded self doubt and how to overcome it.

Over to you, Kayla…


Overcoming Self-Doubt

Doubt—a writer’s greatest enemy. At one time, every writer (even the greats), have doubted their ability to wield a pen and create something worth reading.

Don’t believe me? Check this quote from Stephen King:

“I’m afraid of failing at whatever story I’m writing—that it won’t come up for me, or that I won’t be able to finish it.” ~Stephen King, Rolling Stone Interview (2014)

So, what can you do?

First and foremost, accept that you’re going to have those doubts and acknowledge the fact that you ARE a writer. Even if you haven’t been published. From the moment you pick up a pen, you’re a writer…even if you just write for yourself! If it makes you happy, then it’s worth the wiggle of discomfort that it may give you.

For all the books that I’ve written, I still feel self-doubt almost every time I launch a new book. When I’m waiting to hear back from my betas, I literally hold my breath when a new email comes in with feedback. The very first book I launched back in 2016, Dead by Morning, was my pride and joy. I had a lot of fun writing it and didn’t really begin to worry about it until editing came. Re-reading the content, I began to wonder how people would perceive it and if I should release it out into the world. Even to this day I still have doubts about the story and whether someone else could’ve written it better. It’s a thought I wrestle with every time the book receives a review of less than three stars but I keep it out in the world because I poured my heart into it.

Self-doubt is a sign of a good writer! When people have just a hint of doubt, they’re more likely to reach out and get advice and support. This leads to stronger and better stories in the end and possibly more networking opportunities for the writer. Writers who are over-confident have a tendency to believe their story is perfect from the first draft and that they won’t have to work on revisions—these are often the stories that need the most work.

When you pick up a pen and feel that self-doubt creep in, push it to the back of your mind and write! Every writer will have their lows where they wonder if their story is good enough to go out into the world and it is! Will it be perfect at first? Of course not, but that’s what revision and supportive friends are for! There are a number of fantastic writing sources online geared to help you perfect your manuscript.

And guess what?

All the people in these groups have struggled with self-doubt of their own so they understand exactly where you’re coming from. Sometimes, connecting with people who understand your feelings on that deep of a level can be the perfect way to help you overcome it as well.

You might think that meeting certain goals such as getting a number of reviews, being traditionally published, or winning an award may give you more confidence. And it might. For a while at least. But that self-doubt will begin to creep back in and you’ll go through the same cycle all over again. For a writer, it’s just the nature of the beast.

The number one cure to self-doubt is to write and keep writing! Write your heart out and use that self-doubt to pour all your emotions and vulnerable pieces of yourself into your characters, your world. The more of yourself you put into your work, the more realistic it will be after all.

Never let your self-doubt bring you away from writing. If you have an idea, put it down on paper no matter what the little voice in the back of your head says.

In the end, it will be worth it. I promise!


14006736Proud author of Dead by Morning, fascinated by the dark and macabre. Stephen King is her all time inspiration mixed in with a little bit of Eminem. When she began writing, she started in horror but it somehow drifted into thriller. She loves the 1988 movie Heathers. She was born and raised in Michigan but traveled across the country to where she currently resides in Texas.

Where to find Kayla and her books:

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon

Blog

Book Reviews, Books and Me

July to December Reads Round Up

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How is it the end of 2017? I feel this way at the end of every passing year. Time keeps slipping away from us.  I like to look back over my reads for the year, and despite the year flying by, some of the reviews feel so long ago. I view the amount of books I have read as an accomplishment.

I have participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge again this year. I somehow managed to hit my 80 book target. Whoop Whoop! 2018’s target will be considerably less due to a hectic year ahead.

If you’d like to check out my reads from Jan-Jun 2017 and have a gander at some of my reviews, you can do so right here.

Here is a round up of my reads from Jul-Dec 2017. Some absolute favourites in there. Keep your eyes peeled for my top read of 2017 post coming soon.

  1. The Hollows (Part#1 Graphic Novel) by Amanda Hocking & Tony Lee 3/5: Review.
  2. Alive at Sunset by Kayla Krantz 3/5: Review.
  3. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson 4/5: Review.
  4. Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff 4/5: Review.
  5. A Sea Change by Veronica Henry 3/5: Review.
  6. Love is Blind by Kathy Lette 2.5/5: Review.
  7. After the Love: Victor by Brianna West 5/5: Review.
  8. Black-Eyed Devils by Catrin Collier 5/5: Review.
  9. A Shining in the Shadows by Beverley Lee 5/5: Review.
  10. I Still Love You by Jane Lark 2/5: Review.
  11. Never Too Late by J.C. Laird 2.5: Review.
  12. The God Machine by Various Authors 3/5: Review.
  13. Hell Fire by Drew Avera 4/5: Review.
  14. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab 4.5/5: Review.
  15. Time Walker by Justin Stanchfield 3/5: Review.
  16. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon 5/5: Review.
  17. Nightmare Waiting & Other Dark Stories by Glenn McGoldrick 2/5: Not reviewed on blog.
  18. After Dark by Mikey Campling 3/5: Review.
  19. Out of the Shadows by Dana Fraedrich 4.5/5: Review.
  20. Wardens of Archos by Sarina Langer 4.5/5: Review.
  21. Three Men and a Maybe by Katey Lovell 4/5: Review.
  22. The Apple Orchard by Veronica Henry 3.5/5: Review.
  23. Hawaiian Heartbreak by Libby Cole 3.5/5: Review.
  24. The Manningtree Account by Becky Wright 4.5/5: Review.
  25. Rising by Brian Rella 3/5: Review.
  26. Finn by Liz Meldon 5/5: Review.
  27. A Beginner’s Guide to Christmas by Jennifer Joyce 3/5: Review.
  28. The Man Who Loved Christmas by Alice Valdal 2/5: Not reviewed on blog.
  29. Christmas for Stories by Various Authors 3/5: Review.
  30. Santa Baby, I want a  Bad Boy for Christmas by Justine Elvira 3/5: Review.
  31. A White Hot Christmas by Adrianne James 3/5: Review.
  32. 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep 4/5: Review.
  33. Heralding by Faith Rivens 5/5: Review.
  34. Silver Bells by C.J. Hunt 5/5: Review. 
  35. Tipsy by C.J. Hunt 5/5: Review.
  36. A Mother’s Day by Kaira Rouda 2/5: Not reviewed on blog.
  37. A Christmas in New York by Holly Greene 2/5: Not reviewed on blog.
  38. Girl on a Plane by Miriam Moss 4/5: Review.
  39. The Unexpected Gift by Nicole Casey 3/5: Review.
  40. Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher 5/5: Review.
  41. Anna and the Swallow Man by 3.5/5: Review.
  42. The Sheep Pig by Dick King Smith 4/5: Review.

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Book Reviews, Books and Me

December Reads Round Up

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6tag_031217-205617Tipsy by C.J. Hunt

Full Review: Tipsy.

I gave this book 5/5. Yes, I am new to Hunt’s work, but I know I won’t be disappointed when I pick up one of her novellas. Tipsy was no different. Believable characters with realistic relationship dynamics. I’m buying book three for a New Year read.

A Mother’s Day by Kaira Rouda

(Not reviewed on this blog. Rating on Goodreads.)

Christmas in New York by Holly Greene

(Not reviewed on this blog. Rating on Goodreads.)

Girl on a Plane by Miriam Moss

6tag_071217-121147Full Review: Girl on the Plane.

I gave this book 4/5. An interesting recount of a hijacking through the eyes of a fifteen year old, travelling alone to boarding school. Full of surreal moments that keep the pages turning, and even a glimpse into the lives of the Palestinian guerillas.

The Unexpected Gift by Nicole Casey

6tag_111217-072240Full Review: The Unexpected Gift

I gave this book 3/5. A short story that can be read in one sitting. The love interests were suited to one another, but the whole easily swayed nun storyline felt a little contrived. There was conclusion, but I wanted to know a little more to feel satisfied as a reader.

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher

6tag_151217-150230Full Review: The Christmasaurus.

I gave this book 5/5. A wonderful Christmas tale full of Christmas magic, wonder, and dino-awesomeness. It is great to see wheelchair users represented in such brilliant characters. My daughter is a huge fan of Fletcher, and this book has cemented him as one of her favourite authors.

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

6tag_191217-114202Full Review: Anna and the Swallow Man.

I gave this book 3/5. I’m still not sure what I make of the narrative. The ending didn’t satisfy me as a reader. Savit’s prose is poetic, and the Swallow Man’s language of ‘Road’ was intriguing and understandable to young Anna.

The Sheep-Pig by Dick King Smith

6tag_221217-135642Full Review:

I gave this book 4/5. Rereading a childhood classic to my daughter is always a new adventure. She thoroughly enjoyed the story, and there were some tears along the way. An insightful glimpse into farm life and the world of sheep herding.

 


Content belongs to K.J. Chapman

 

 

Book Reviews, Books and Me, Indie Book Advent

Review: The Sheep Pig by Dick King Smith

book-review

The Sheep Pig by Dick King Smith 4/5

6tag_221217-135642When Babe arrives at Hogget Farm, Mrs. Hogget’s thoughts turn to sizzling bacon and juicy pork chops–until he reveals a surprising talent for sheepherding, that is. Before long, Babe is handling Farmer Hogget’s flock better than any sheepdog ever could. Babe is so good, in fact, that the farmer enters him into the Grand Challenge Sheepdog Trials. Will it take a miracle for Babe to win?

Review:

One of the joys of having children is re-reading your old favourites to them. My daughter’s copy of The Sheep Pig is, in fact, my copy from childhood.

Re-reading as an adult helps you see the themes and morals in the story that you may have missed as a child. The underlying theme of this book is that you can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do if you set your mind to it. Also, manners go a long way. Babe wanted to work sheep, so he learnt , listened, and worked hard. He also treated the sheep as his equals. This is an important message for impressionable, young minds.

There are a few truthful, raw moments dotted in the otherwise joyous narrative. When Ma died, my daughter broke her heart, and straight after, Babe was seconds from being executed. I forgot how the narrative went a little dark in that moment, and although upset, my daughter wanted me to continue. Life and death are fairly common themes in children’s literature now, and The Sheep Pig handles the truth of farm life brilliantly. We are not a family of vegetarians, and reminding my daughter of this helped her see the truth in where her food actually comes from and what happens from farm to plate.

In summary, a quick re-read that touched on some important issues.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

Book Reviews, Books and Me

Review: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

book-review

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit 3/5

6tag_191217-114202Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.

And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.

The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.

Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.

Review:

Anna’s story starts in Krakow in WW2 when her father doesn’t come back to collect her from her neighbour. Anna waits for him, but she knows something is wrong. When she meets Swallow Man, she attaches herself to the only adult who seems to care enough to teach her to survive her new life.

Savit’s way with words is poetic to say the least. The way he creates the Swallow Man’s tongue, known as ‘road’, is quite something. He speaks easily to young Anna in a way she can understand. I must get a younger person’s opinion on this book to see how well they fared with the round about explanations.

I enjoyed the book, but I didn’t love it. At times, I wondered where the story was actually going. As a reader, we only know as much as Anna knows. She is incredibly naive in many ways, and worldly in others. I’m confident this POV would appeal to a young teen more. Again, I really want a younger person’s opinion on this book to see how it varies from mine.

The ending was abrupt and unsatisfying. I’m not entirely sure what to make of this story, and its rare that I say that.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

EVO Ghost, new release

EVO Ghost Release Day News

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I am thrilled to announce that EVO Ghost has an official release date…

March 1st 2018

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This also means that you can preorder your copy from Amazon: preorder link. However, I will be doing an ARC reviewer call out in the New Year.

In the meantime, get EVO Ghost on your Goodreads want to read lists: EVO Ghost on Goodreads.


Content belongs to K.J. Chapman

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Crimbo Book Shout Out #3

Copy of book review

Have you been waiting patiently for the final Crimbo book shout out and giveaway? Of course you have! The winner of last week’s Cass Michaels giveaway was Laura Carter. Congratulations!


This week’s Crimbo book shout out is for a Christmas horror book, Merry Murder by Angel Gelique…

33555243Poor Paul McKenna. He just wants to enjoy the holidays. But with an obstinate teen-aged daughter, Heather, and an unreasonable wife who enables her, Paul is anything but jolly. Heather has her heart set on getting the latest cell phone for Christmas. The only problem is Paul can’t find one within the acceptable price range. He simply refuses to fall victim to holiday price-gouging. He has every intention of buying the phone weeks after Christmas when it’s half the price. Surely, Heather will understand…right?

In this tale of vengeance, a well-intentioned father will find that sometimes it’s better to appease an incorrigible teen daughter—no matter the cost—rather than incur her wrath.

Would you like a chance to win an e-copy of Merry Murder? All you have to do is share Angel Gelique’s Amazon page via any social media platform and paste a copy of the link to your post in the comments below to be entered. You can also enter by sharing the post from my Instagram feed. You can find more information here.

You can find Angel Gelique and her books here:

Amazon

Goodreads

Webpage


Content belongs to K.J.Chapman

Book Reviews, Books and Me

Review: The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher

book-review

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher 5/5

6tag_151217-150230.jpgThe Christmasaurus is a story about a boy named William Trundle, and a dinosaur, the Christmasaurus. It’s about how they meet one Christmas Eve and have a magical adventure. It’s about friendship and families, sleigh bells and Santa, singing elves and flying reindeer, music and magic. It’s about discovering your heart’s true desire, and learning that the impossible might just be possible.

Review:

As I type this, I have a 7 year old giving input over my shoulder. I read this novel to her every night for the past few weeks, and can honestly say that it was a huge hit. It is full of Christmas magic and wonder, and in true Tom Fletcher style, lots of dino-awesomeness.

I’m a huge fan of the main character. William Trundle is a wheelchair user, and it’s awesome that such characters are represented in children’s literature. Bullying and its effects is also highlighted.

My daughter says it is not only an amazing book, but the best book she has ever read. That’s quite the testament to Fletcher’s storytelling skills. It is a book that is meant to be read out loud, and there is a plot twist that had both of us gawping at each other.

In summary, read this book to your kids!


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

 

 

Guest Post

Guest Post: Phil Price on How to Pen Darkness

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Today’s guest post comes from horror author, Phil Price. Phil has joined me today to discuss all things horror. Give yourselves five minutes with a cup of tea, and join us for some tried and tested tips on penning horror stories. Perhaps don’t turn off the lights…

Over to you, Phil.


How to Pen Darkness

Of all the various genres out there, horror is the one that excites me the most. As a reader, you want to be able to connect with the author’s story, hoping that the words conveyed spark your imagination. Other genres do this too. A good romance may bring a tear to your eye, or a fantasy yarn may ignite your imagination. However, horror is a genre that preys on your senses. To lie in bed at night, pulling the duvet up to your neck, checking the window for unseen ghouls, is not an easy feat. Plus, there are many types of horror out there. Serial killers, men in masks, vampires, demons, and ghosts, are but a few of the things that lurk in our imaginations as horror.

So, how do you write it? Tough question. I have written three horror books, centred on vampires. The market is flooded with these mysterious creatures at the moment, as it should be. Nothing should get the horror juices flowing like a good, old fashioned vampire. From Count Dracula, to Mr Barlow, for me, that is what horror is all about. Conveying that subject onto a page is the tricky part. Words on a page are just that, words. Turning the words into a scene that will draw the reader in, is no mean feat.

Many of my readers have given me different feedback. Some, said the stories terrified them. Others said they were not scary in the shocking, jump-out-of-your-seat scary sense. More of a creeping dread that settles over you whilst reading. I, like many horror authors, have taken their inspiration from the great Mr King. He has cornered the market on what scares you. Vampires, killer clowns, haunted hotels, apocalyptic worlds – King has done it all. And many of these stories have come from his own experiences. With this in mind, that is what I try to do, weave a tale from what scares me, what excites me, and what will make readers want to indulge themselves into my world.

Setting the scene is always the most important part. It’s very easy to type, “The killer came around the corner and his knife was big and menacing.” Great. There is a killer out there with a big knife, looking to harm us. Does it ignite your senses? Hell no! The environment needs to be just right to convey the fear that the reader yearns for.

So, if you said:

‘The corridor was a darkened funnel, littered with boxes and bodies. A fluorescent bulb, flickered sporadically, throwing shadows along the low-slung space. An over-powering stench coated Tim’s throat, thick and cloying, making him want to wretch. Making him want to run. A noise in the darkness raised gooseflesh on his arms, the hairs on the back of his neck prickling to attention as the noise came again. Far off, a low shuffle of heavy feet, drifted towards him, the edges of the corridor seeming to darken further. A silhouette appeared around the far corner, dark and brooding. As the light pulsed once more, it caught the edge of the object in the figures hand. Shimmering briefly as it ran along the serrated edges of the blood stained knife.’

Now, many readers might not find that scary. However, some may. It should pull the reader in further, almost placing them in the corridor with the next victim. And that’s what I would say to anyone about to start their own horror story. The person reading your book, needs to be in your book. When they are at work, or at the shops, they need to be thinking about the next chapter, hurrying back home to get the next slice of the pie.

I would also say, be brave, be creative. Don’t hold back at all. Think about what scared you as a kid and spill those emotions into your work. Others will identify with it. I hope this has been insightful. I hope above all, that you are reaching for your laptop, inspired to get cracking on the next big thing….

Good luck.


20479607_10155653386104703_7123091821070616518_nPhil Price was born in Sutton Coldfield in 1974. He lived in various places until his family settled in Rednal, Birmingham in 1979. Growing up with and older brother and sister he always flirted with reading as there were always books lying on shelves around the house. Then in 1997 he embarked on a travel expedition that took him from Greece to Thailand, via East and Southern Africa. Sitting in dusty bus stations in Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi gave him the opportunity to ignite his imagination fully. Since those far-off days, he has never been without a book to read.

He toyed with the idea of writing a book in 2009. After writing a few short stories he caught a whiff of an idea in his head. It grew and grew in 2010 until he had enough to begin. Marriage and two children came along, with the story being moved to the back burner for periods of time. However, during those periods of writing inactivity, the story continued to evolve until it just needed to be written down.

The book was littered with places that had influenced Phil’s life. From the Lickey Hills in Birmingham, to the Amatola Mountains in South Africa with other locations, in-between and far beyond. The book was finished sometime in 2014 and was left on his computer, until a chance conversation with an author friend made Phil take the bold step to publish his story, Unknown. Unknown was re-published in 2017, as part of The Forsaken Series. The Turning is to follow on from Unknown, with a third book currently in post-production.

Where to find Phil and his books:

Facebook Author Page

Facebook Street Team

Twitter

Unknown Book One

The Turning Book Two


For use of content featured in this post, contact the author, Phil Price.