Tuesday, 8 January 2019

REVIEW - A Court of Thorns and Roses - a trifle thorny

Date read: 8th January 2019

My rating: 4*

Genre I reckon: NAish fantasy

Buy link: Amazon

Every so often a book/series captures the zeitgeist. The masses flock to it, and it floods social media. tbh, these are the ones I tend to avoid, as they can be over-hyped, and I end up disappointed. But I could ignore this one no longer.

This was my first Sarah J Maas book. I selected this series as it was billed as more NA (with a mature content rating), which I thought would be more my thing. And I was curious to discover what all the fuss was about.

A Court of Thorns & Roses starts off REALLY slowly. And only gets going past the halfway mark, but when it does it gets a LOT more interesting.

So, it's supposed to be a Beauty & The Beast retelling.
Hm, not really, is it? I mean, I can see loosely how there's hints. But a dashing fae in a gold mask isn't exactly a beast. We don't see Tamlin's 'beast' form very much at all.
She hates fae kind, but gets swayed by a pretty face quite easily.

The winter, summer etc. courts in fantasy novels has been a bit overdone. And wars brewing in the fae realm - quelle surprise. But fortunately, this didn't stop me from engaging with the story.

That's the more mundane bits tackled.
What did I love? Rhysand, if I'm being honest. He's by far and above the most interesting character here.

I did like Feyre, although she's a little annoying at times. She's the youngest of her family, but arguably the most dependable, and the one who has fought like a tiger to keep her family from starvation. I do wish she'd stop being frustrated at not being able to paint feelings and smells though!?
Her sisters are brats and her father is worse than useless.

Given the warning, I would've liked slightly more in-depth love scenes. They have really good run-ups, then it's all over a bit quick. And the last one is gratuitous given the circumstances. And a bit more sexual tension building up between them would've been good.

What wins me over is the style. There's great world-building. And there were threads which reeled me in.
I'm really glad I stuck with it, as the second half is delightful.

A good NA with YA tendencies.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Review - Mr Rook's Island - there's trouble in paradise

Date read: 16-18 Dec 2018 (the whole series!)

My rating: 4.5* (overall)

Genre I reckon: spooky, sexy, romance

Buy link: Amazon or boxed set on Amazon UK

Everyone needs an author to turn to when they want a guaranteed good read. Mimi Jean Pamfiloff is one of mine. I love her style. Her heroines are snarky and sassy.

Warning: do yourself a favour and download the boxed set as this is an addictive series.

Mr Rook (book 1)

Stephanie is on the hunt for the killer of her sister - a hunt which is going to cost her dearly.
She goes incognito to the island where her sister died, along with some very excited women who seek pleasure only.
The island is an expensive, exclusive resort where your every fantasy really is catered for.
But the very sexy, mysterious Mr Rook is off limits. Was he the killer?

Now, for an island full of sexual fantasies, this series is oddly not chockablock full of lusty scenes. I knocked a star off because of this.
BUT what you do get is a tantalising tale which slowly unfolds.
The island seems to have a life of its own, and has a strange effect on people.

I read this book in a day, and immediately downloaded book 2 - this is a rare thing for me.

Pawn (book 2):

Have you ever watched a series on TV, where not much happens until right near the end, then it's all systems go and you're left screaming for the next episode? That's kinda how I'd describe this book. It's not meant unkindly. Just this book is more of a slow-burner.

Some very odd things happen. And the tension continues to build.
Having finally their wicked way together, Stephanie then discovers something shocking, and is more determined than ever to uncover this man's secrets. She isn't afraid to delve deep.

As I read this immediately after book 1, the flashback scenes weren't required for me and became annoying. But I appreciate they'd help those who paused for breath between them.

I really liked the development of the weird, wonderful paranormal aspect. Mr Rook becomes more and more mysterious! Is he good or is he very very bad?

And what is the true price to be paid?

Straight onto book 3!

Check (book 3): 

Well, that's much more like it! Action-packed, satisfying end to the series.

Just as poor Stephanie thinks she's coming to terms with all of this nightmare, something else crops up. For pity's sake! This book starts with the fallout of the last revelation in book 2. And boy, is she in trouble.
Problem is, the only man who can help is...compromised? Unavailable?

How much can people sacrifice?

There's some unexpected twists in this book. One in particular that I really didn't see coming.

Overall, Rook's Island is compelling and addictive.
There's some great characters along with some mystery, lust and strange goings on.
Honestly, I preferred this author's Accidentally series - well, y'know, Cimil and a unicorn; need I say more?
But this series is very good nonetheless. I was hooked!

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

What Are Trigger Warnings? ~ Should I put a trigger warning on my book?

OMG, am I about to offend someone? Quick, put a trigger warning on it! 😲

Alright, calm down.
First, let us look at two different types of triggers.

Emotional Triggers

Someone may make a joke, but to you it hurts and can affect you, making you feel off-kilter.
You question whether the person making the joke respects you or not.

Feelings brought up can include:

  • A sense of rejection
  • Being left/singled out
  • Disapproval

~ basically you feel inferior in some way

Reactions to this can include:

  • Withdrawal
  • Anger
  • Self-medication (drugs/alcohol/food etc.) 
  • Compliance
These are normal human reactions, and are often associated with things from your own past. It is your reaction based on previous experience, and not the fault of the person making the joke, which to everyone else is harmless. 
This does not mean in any way it is your fault either. It's just one of those less pleasant experiences of life. Good news is, there's coping mechanisms and people trained to help you with this. 

Emotional triggers are not what trigger warnings are about, as we cannot feasibly all foresee how every single person is going to react. We all have the potential to associate an infinite number of innocuous things with a negative reaction. 

Psychological Triggers

These go way beyond our feelings being trampled on (which is unpleasant enough, right?). These are so much more. 

These types of triggers can be set of with a particular sound, smell or sight which are associated with a trauma, and often cause flashbacks. Often used in conjunction with PTSD (and other anxiety conditions) , and commonly (but not exclusively) include post-war/combat soldiers and survivors of sexual abuse. 

Flashbacks are no laughing matter. They have oddly become more common since movies started. And it is a bit like watching a film, only this is the 3D, fully immersive kind. Your brain throws you right back into the traumatic event, and you relive it as if you were there. It is terrifying, debilitating and to be avoided. It is deeply traumatic in itself. 

These are the folk we need/want to protect, right? 
We do not want to drive anyone to despair. 
In all fairness to them, a little word of caution so there's no nasty surprises is a simple courtesy which can save severe pain and suffering. 

It serves as a warning for them to put their coping strategies in place and/or choose not to read a book they will find too difficult to cope with. 
By the way, they may well choose to read your book anyway. With the correct coping strategies in place, it may help them face/overcome their issue/s. 
What we are doing is offering them the information so they may make an informed decision. 
Trigger warnings give people the power of control and choice.

So, if your book (especially if it's unexpected) contains scenes of:
  • Violence/war
  • Sexual/physical abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Oppressive language
  • Self-harm
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicide
...please put a trigger warning under the blurb to save long-term psychological damage.
It just makes sense, doesn't it? 

No, you do not need a trigger warning if there's something such as a cliffhanger. 
Get a grip!! 
If book 1 in a series does not say, "And they lived happily ever after. The end." it is NOT going to inflict long-term psychological damage. It will not cause flashbacks. It might just cause mild annoyance/aggravation. 

Please learn this important difference. 

There are people with actual debilitating problems (hopefully seeking professional assistance to come to terms with their trauma).

Demanding trigger warnings for things which cause disgruntlement helps no-one. 

To help you further, the dictionary definition of trauma:

  1. 1.
    a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.

    "a personal trauma like the death of a child"

  2. 1a. mass noun Emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury, which may lead to long-term neurosis.
    ‘the event is relived with all the accompanying trauma’
  3. 2.
    physical injury.

    "rupture of the diaphragm caused by blunt trauma"
    "the gallstone can be extracted without unnecessary trauma to the liver"

~ basically events outside the ordinary, expected human experience
~ experience which involves actual or threatened death or severe injury (of self or others)
~ involves overwhelming fear, helplessness and/or horror 

This has been a public service blog post, brought to you with concern for mental well-being.  
It is meant to inform and educate, not to criticise or belittle. 
My aim is to help authors decide whether or not to include a trigger warning under their book description, and the reasons why. 
And to bring a little perspective to the confusion that exists out there. 

Always with love and light,

If you are affected by the contents of this blog please do seek help. 
There are so many people, trained, willing and ready to take your call. Don't be alone. 
Thank you.

Monday, 3 December 2018

A quick catch up from TL Clark

Sorry I've been quiet lately.
November was a challenging month for many reasons, including my SAD kicking in, battles with Facebook AND Amazon (as so many seem to have had to do recently), and germs trying to attack me.

Hopefully the worst of all that is now behind me.

I wrote 15,000 words of my Regency romance last month, bring the total to 65k words so far. There's progress being made. Please bear with me. I'm trying so hard to finish draft 1 soon.

There's now a fab video banner at the head of my Facebook page.
New business cards have been designed and delivered.
I'm trying to arrange some public appearances (ongoing).
'Help for the Holidays' Facebook event was held this weekend (lots of organisation involved!).
My Christmas tree is now up (muchly happiness has been brought in by this).

And Love Bites Harder (part 2 of the Darkness & Light Duology) is now available in papaerback:
~ On Amazon (should be linked to my ebook soon)
~ And the Waterstones website

If you're missing me, don't forget you can always stay up-to-date via my Instagram and Facebook pages.

Once this book's done I'll be creating a Regency information blog post.
I've had to look up so much, despite being a massive Jane Austen fan, and having read many historical romances! So, I'm going to plonk it all in one place; share the knowledge.

Also, all my books are available on all platforms (due to the volatile nature of Amazon).
You can check them out via Books2Read (which takes you to your preferred store), but they are still on Amazon too (no panic).

OK, back to the writeuming!

I hope you're faring well.

Always in love and light,

Saturday, 3 November 2018

REVIEW - Companion of Darkness - is dark indeed

Date read: 22nd October 2018

My rating: 5*

Genre I reckon: YA;dark fantasy

Buy link: Amazon

As you're on my blog, you may well be familiar with Love Bites, my paranormal romance. You know I'm a sucker for fantasy. So, how could I resist?

This book is YA, but it's not a sugary sweet tale by any stretch of the imagination.
Jesaela, the poor faerie, is thrown into the clutches of the evil Lyssa. But is she really as awful as she appears?

Enter into this magickal world, full of dragons and fantasy beings.
But beware; who is friend and who is foe?

I love the means of travel, especially the portals. And the characters have depth and come to life with full force.
I don't want to say who my favourites are, in case of spoilers. There's some clever twists in this tale.

The author has woven the terrific world of Teralia with expert hands. I can see, smell and feel it all.
And dammit; I want more. NOW! Hopefully the next book won't be too far away.

NB - there are some (not overly detailed) scenes of torture in this book.
But if you enjoy a good fantasy tale (no matter how far above the age of YA you are), then give this a read. You won't regret it.
Because; dragons! :)

Friday, 2 November 2018

Interview With an Author - Closing Thoughts

A huge thank you to all authors who took time out of their busy schedule to respond to my interview - you are all totally awesome πŸ’—
Let's all give them a massive round of applause, folks:

Please do make sure you go back and read them all, and follow them on your preferred social media (links at the bottom of each interview). 

Thanks also to the wonderful readers and bloggers who have followed this interview series.
If you would like to see more interviews in the future, please leave a comment here. 

So, what have we learned? 

My observations:

πŸ’­ Writing is hard! 
Yeah, no surprise there. But we ALL go through times of strife. 
It can be solitary, furstrating, gut wrenching, BUT we love it! 
As hard as it can be, we are all passionate about sharing our books. 

πŸ’­ No matter how many millions of books you sell, you're still grateful for a spotlight. 
We love interacting with our readers and will grab the opportunity to do so when we can. 
(*everybody wave to each other*) 

πŸ’­ Writers support writers. 
Those just starting and those who have reached dizzying heights; we all appreciate the hard work involved. 
We want each other to succeed as we appreciate how much we put into our creations.

πŸ’­ We are all readers. 
Writers love to read too, and will do so as much as possible. 

πŸ’­ Given the chance, the preferred uniform of an author is pj's. 😁
One can sit in the same position for many hours; we have to be comfy! 
Our writing spots are our little creative nests, wherever they happen to be.

πŸ’­ We are never too big to take advice. 
Life is all about lessons, and we are forever learning. 
Read, write and carry on - kinda the basis of all the advice we love! 

πŸ’­ Huh, NOT all writers drink coffee. Who knew?! πŸ˜•
But many of us DO use it as writer's fuel, so it's not fully debunked. 

πŸ’­ So, readers; come say hello to us. Read our books, leave a review, follow us on social media. We appreciate you more than you can ever know. 
Writers; support one another. Whatever breed you are, we are all the same species...writer!

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Interview With an Author - Number 10 - Amanda Prowse (last but by no means least)

Author Bio
Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author who has published twenty novels in dozens of languages. 
Her recent chart topping No.1 titles 'What Have I Done?', 'Perfect Daughter' and 'My Husband's Wife' have sold millions of copies around the world.