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Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1)

“Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.

The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.”

What I thought:

Guys. I’m so ridiculously in love with Nevernight. I thought if I’d leave the review for a few weeks it’d be easier to write, with more useful info and less incoherent gushing, but just be warned that there will be gushing. And lots of it.

For the briefest moment, she swore she could see lights at her feet, glittering like diamonds in an ocean of nothing. She felt an emptiness so vast she thought she was falling – down, down into some hungry dark. And then her fingers closed on the dagger’s hilt and she clutched it tight, so cold it almost burned.

She felt the something in the dark around her.

The copper tang of blood.

The pulsing rush of rage.

One of my favourite parts were the footnotes. I know a lot of people don’t enjoy them – if you don’t you can skip them and you won’t miss any necessary details – but I loved them. They added a bit of extra humour (something the book has plenty of), and as someone who likes a world with lots of lore and history I loved the insights, too. Many of them sounded like Kristoff took a brief break in his storytelling to let us in on a secret, or to say something the characters couldn’t, and I adored loved the hell out of that.

My other favourite thing was Mister Kindly, the glorious ghostly not-cat which feeds on Mia’s fear:

The thing called Mister Kindly waited. A patience learned over eons. A silence like the grave. Soon now. Any moment she’d begin to whimper. Whisper for him. What would she dream of tonight? The ones who came to drown her? Her father’s legs kicking, face purpling, guh guh guh? The Philosopher’s Stone and the horrors she’d found within, fourteen years old and lost in the dark?

No matter.

They all tasted the same.

One of my other many favourites (there are just so. many. of them!) was the main character, Mia Covere. She trains at this school for assassins (how cool is that?), learns how to poison people, how to steal their belongings and secrets, but she can’t get herself to stop caring. She’s my ideal heroine – lethal when she needs to be, loyal best friend at all other times – unless, of course, her best friends betray her. But who wouldn’t draw the line at that?

“This place gives much. But it takes much more. They may make her beautiful on the outside, but inside, they aim to shape a horror. So if there is some part of herself that truly matters, hold it close, Mia Corvere. Hold it tight. She should ask herself what she will give to get the things she wants. And what she will keep. For when we feed another to the Maw, we feed it a part of ourselves, also. And soon enough, there is nothing left.”

I also had a soft spot for Chronicler Aelius. He didn’t feature much but you get the feeling that there’s a depth to him the book only hints at. *sigh* Gotta love sublety! And librarians! And the wonderful smell of ancient tomes!

But I’m getting carried away.

Honestly, I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about this book. It has everything I want in a book and far more than I expected when I started. I had a much shorter blurb than the one above and didn’t really know what I was in for, but I love the mature take and strong language throughout. I’m beyond excited for the sequel, and will pre-order it once it’s available – something I don’t do often.

Have you read Nevernight, or do you need more convincing? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

I don’t review books professionally. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Goodreads listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.

For all other book reviews, please take a look here.

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Review: The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman

“Editors always tell novice writers that the first few pages of a manuscript are crucial in the publishing process — and it’s true. If an editor or agent (or reader) loses interest after a page or two, you’ve lost him or her completely, even if the middle of your novel is brilliant and the ending phenomenal. Noah Lukeman, an agent in Manhattan, has taken this advice and created a book that examines just what this means, and I have to tell you, it’s one of the best I’ve read.

I’ve written (and seen published) pretty close to a dozen novels in as many years — some are still to be published and will be out shortly; others are already out of print after four years. But I wish I had read Lukeman’s book, The First Five Pages, when I began writing fiction.

I’m glad I did now. It has helped, immediately. I’m already embarrassed about some of the goofs I made in my writing — and I’ve been revising recent prose with his advice in mind.

First off, Lukeman is a literary agent who once was an editor, and his editorial eye is sharp. If every novelist and short story writer in this country had Lukeman as an editor, we’d have a lot more readable prose out there.

He writes:

Many writers spend the majority of their time devising their plot. What they don’t seem to understand is that if their execution — if their prose — isn’t up to par, their plot may not even be considered.

This bears repeating, because in all the books I’ve read on writing, this is an element that is most often forgotten in the rush to come up with snappy ideas and sharp plot progressions. You can always send a hero on a journey, after all, but if no reader wants to follow him, you’ve wasted your time.

In a tone that can be a bit professorial at times, Lukeman brings what prose is — and how it reads to others — into sharp focus. He deals with dialogue, style, and, most importantly, sound.


How does prose sound?

It must have rhythm, its own kind of music, in order to draw the reader into the fictive dream. Lukeman’s tips and pointers are genuinely helpful, and even important with regard to the sound of the prose itself.

Lukeman also brings in on-target exercises for writers of prose and the wonderful advice for novelists to read poetry — and often.

Those first five pages are crucial, for all concerned. But forget the editor and agent and reader. They are important for you, the writer, because they determine the sharpness of your focus, the completeness of your vision, the confidence you, as a writer, need to plunge into a three- or four- or five-hundred-page story.

The First Five Pages should be on every writer’s shelf. This is the real thing.”

What I thought:

(What is it with theory books and overly long blurbs? You’d think they’d know better.)

The First Five Pages is one of the first theory books on writing I’ve ever read. Because I learnt so much from it I bought my own copy, and since I’m editing my second book now I figured it was the perfect time to read it again!

The blurb isn’t kidding when it hails The First Five Pages as the one book every writer needs to own, or at least read. It goes over every problem your draft could possibly have, shows you why each is a problem through examples, and shows you how you can fix it. It gives you the chance to apply what you learned with end-of-chapter exercises. It also offers small insights into how agents and publishers work, and why they might reject your manuscript. And, more importantly, it shows you how to fix it!

And on top of all that, it’s encouraging:

I have never had a book, story or poem rejected that was not later published. If you know what you are doing, eventually you will run into an editor who knows what he/she is doing. It may take years, but never give up.

It’s an invaluable resource and I urge you to read it, maybe even buy your own copy. It’s not a dry thing you’ll struggle through. It’s easy to read and quite humorous throughout (the latter is a quality my theory books must have if they want to end up on my shelf)!

Have you read Nevernight, or do you need more convincing? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

I don’t review books professionally. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Goodreads listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.

For all other book reviews, please take a look here.

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Everything You Need to Know About Beta Reading – When Do You Assemble Your Squad?

Now that you know how to find your squad, it’s time to look at when to assemble your loyal betas.

I know the tempting thing to do is to ask for betas the moment you finish your first draft. You’re on a high after having typed The End and trust me, I get it (The. Best. Feeling!) – but allow me to convince you that this is not the best moment to call in reinforcements.

I recommend, strongly, that you only call in betas when you yourself can’t figure out what else to change. You’ve done one or two rounds of edits, maybe a critique partner has already gone over your book baby, perhaps your editor has even done a developmental round – and now the whole thing has stopped making sense to you. You know that strange feeling when you read a word over and over again until it looks like it can’t possibly be a word? (Try it, it’s very frustrating.) That’s when you know you’re ready for betas. You’ve done what you can, and now you can’t do any more.

By the time you’ve edited your own work once or twice you’ll know every last shady corner pretty well, so you’re even more likely to gloss over obvious errors.

Chances are you’ll find a thousand things to reword, cut, slash, slaughter, and add when you do your first edit. Make sure all that is done before you ask for betas, so that, by the time they get your draft in their inbox, it’s as close to the final version as it can be!

Your betas should point out where you’ve missed a smudge after you’ve already polished your work. They shouldn’t have to do everything – that’s your job.

Think of it this way: The draft you send your betas should be a draft you are happy with – a draft you’d be happy to publish, even! (except you’re not, you wouldn’t be asking for betas otherwise *ahem*) You essentially test your book on readers, and it’s harder to do that when you know your WIP still needs a lot of work. You want to know how it reads amongst other things; if it’s still riddled with spelling errors by this stage it’ll be harder to enjoy, and you won’t get the most out of your betas.

Your beta readers aren’t your editor. You want them to point out mistakes, but you should still attempt to clear the field before you ask them to diffuse whatever bombs you’ve missed. If you can think of a few things you should change/add/cut/rephrase, please fix those first. Your betas will be grateful!

If you feel that you do need a second opinion before you reach the beta stage, you can always get a critique partner or two. But that’s a topic for another post 🙂

How do YOU know you’re ready for beta readers? If you’re a writer or a beta reader with questions regarding this step, please don’t hesitate to ask (once you’ve helped yourself to tea and biscuits, naturally).

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An Update on Wardens of Archos (There’s an Excerpt, Too!)

My, it’s been a while since I’ve last done a progress update! How have you been? 😀

As usual I’m trying to do a hundred things at once (or it feels like I am, anyway – if anyone knows how to contact Satan, let me know. I’m ready to sign that contract for more hours in my day now.) and to be honest I’m tired and I have no idea how people juggle a full-time day job, raising their children, writing, keeping their partners happy, and maintaining their house so it doesn’t fall apart. It’s sorcery, it must be. (They’ve probably signed that contract… So someone knows how to get in touch… Email. Me.)

What I’m currently trying to juggle are my edits on Wardens of Archos, my part-time day job, editing jobs (by the way, you can officially book me from July! Take a look here for more details.), keeping my cat and partner happy, and ignoring all the housework that needs doing but which I have no time to do. So, if you’re someone who balances everything perfectly without getting tired and/or stressed, please tell me how you do it. I wouldn’t mind some pointers :’)

My familiar is still very involved.

The edits on Wardens of Archos are going well. My editor is doing a developmental edit and guys. It’s gonna be good. I’m loving her suggestions and I’m loving how much it’s improved already. Two critique partners are going over it, too, and I’m doing my own edit at the same time. We’re cutting and adding in (almost) equal measures 😛 I’m adding all comments to my printed version and will apply all changes once I’ve finished going over it. Once that’s done I’ll be ready for betas 😉 However, there’s a lot to do and not much time to do it in, and I don’t want to rush it. I’m also trying not to feel bad about how long it’s taking, but I’d rather have a 3rd draft I’m happy with than one I’ve rushed through and missed a bunch of mistakes.

I’m currently hoping to publish it in August/September, but nobody hold me to that. (Or do, actually!)

By the time I get to Darkened Light it’ll have had a nice long break!

If you’ve signed up for my newsletter you might know that work on the cover for Wardens of Archos has begun! In theory I’ll have a cover reveal and the blurb for you in a few weeks 😉

So, to summarise, everything’s progressing nicely but slowly due to other commitments. I’m dying to see the cover, and I’ve already booked the next slot for the end of September, which is for Darkened Light.

Now, if you’d take a peek to the left, you should see this new shiny option:


You probably know that I’ve been blogging about world building and, more recently, beta reading. On this page you’ll be able to find all posts I’ve published already, in one handy list! That way, if you need specific information, you’ll be able to find it quickly 🙂 It also gives you an idea of what’s yet to come, and includes the collaborative posts I’ve hosted together with other authors.

And to finish off, as promised, here’s an excerpt 😉

“If we wanted to kill you,” said Yoko, “we’d have done so when you arrived.”

Reeve snorted. “You underestimate me, witch. I’m not so easy to kill.”


The lights in the room flickered, the smell of incense gone. Rachael blinked, and between two flickers of the candles Yoko moved right before him, her body encased in blue flames and a dagger at his throat. It drew the smallest sliver of blood.

You are on your guard, Sparrow, and yet I’ve managed to draw blood from your neck. All I had to do was blink.” Yoko stepped away from him, and turned around. Reeve caught himself the moment her back was turned, and threw a dagger at Yoko’s head. It stopped in mid air, halfway between them. “If I wanted you dead, Sparrow, you would have died.” Her smile was as beautiful as it was lethal. “Just think what I could have done had you closed your eyes for one more second.”

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WWW Wednesday 19th April 2017

This meme is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. A similar meme, This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost and Found.

Why not join in? Just answer the following three questions in a post and then put a link to that post in the comments over at Taking on a World of Words.

WWW Wednesday

This meme will be categorised together with my book reviews. All links will get you to the book’s Goodreads listing, as always 🙂

Prepare yourselves, friends, this is a big one!


What I’m currently reading

On Writing

I’ve made two previous attempts to read this when I borrowed it from my library. Both times it was requested by a student almost right away, so I didn’t make much progress either time. I eventually just bought my own copy, and now I’m flying through it.

It’s my favourite book on the subject. It’s hilarious, honest – often brutally so, like when he talks about his addiction to drugs – and I’m learning so much I’m taking notes all the time. If you’re a writer and haven’t read this yet I urge you to give it a space on your bookshelf. Buying this rather than borrowing it was one of the best things I did for myself, and I just know I’ll come back to it every time I need a boost of motivation, or a little encouragement.


Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in the vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 – and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.

There is a reason why Stephen King is one of the bestselling writers in the world, ever. Described in the Guardian as ‘the most remarkable storyteller in modern American literature’, Stephen King writes books that draw you in and are impossible to put down.

Remember to Love Me

This is my second read by Becky Wright (my review of my first read, The Manningtree Account, publishes here tomorrow) and again she’s introducing me to a genre I’m not familiar with! I don’t read many romance novels, and I don’t think I’ve read any time-slip novels at all unless you count my other read by her, but this book combines the two really well. It’s a celebration of family with the warmth of Christmas sprinkled over it, so it’d make a great Christmas read! I’m a third through it now and I’m excited to see how the story is going to develop from here.


Annabelle yearns for nothing more than motherhood. Losing her own mother in child birth at the tender age of four; a gaping hole has grown in the pit of her belly with the desire to nurture a child. Her sole purpose, she values its significance and her duty to provide an heir to devoted husband Richard Hardwick, successor to a wealthy landowning family. But motherhood may not be as she once hoped, as fate deals her a cruel hand, leaving her with a life-changing dilemma.
Her younger sister Emily, vibrant and full of zest is engaged to the dashing Lance Corporal James Wright, jubilant with thoughts of the future she imagines nothing but wedded bliss on the horizon. But as a new century dawns, darkness falls, as the Boer War gains strength James is deployed to South Africa, leaving his new bride alone with an uncertain future. As melancholy festers, Emily escapes the rural confines of Bury St Edmunds to stay with Aunt Anna by the sea, where she languishes in nature’s rough vast beauty. As the distance stretches between the sisters, so too does the life-thread of family.

April has spent her solitary childhood in the pretty Norfolk village of Winterton-on-Sea, surrounded by its quiet lanes and circular pastel holiday cottages; a child flourishing in its rural beauty and thriving off the natural elements of sandy dunes and buffering waves. But now, after leaving University and as her 21st birthday approaches, April finds herself relocating closer to her Grandmother Sarah, to her mother’s childhood home of Bury St Edmunds; a market town in the heart of the Suffolk countryside. Her parents open their longed-for antique shop, and although April is eager to assist with the busy Christmas rush, she aches for something else; a missing puzzle-piece. She looks to Sarah for guidance and direction, struggling to adjust, in her heart, pining for her sea-side home; she takes solace in the extraordinary bond she shares with her grandmother.
April’s feelings of uncertainty amplify as she steps over the threshold of her ancestral home; an early Victorian townhouse at the heart of the historic town, where time has stopped in its tracks, pristine and perfectly antiquated. In a visit to the attic late one afternoon, she discovers more than just dusty tea chests and old suitcases. She encounters an ancestor that has remained, a beautiful ghostly apparition whispering secrets in the shadows.

As the weeks follow and Christmas arrives, April is confronted with strange visions and dreams; memories of a lost, long buried time, of grave secrets, of sisterly love, romance and family loyalties that stretch beyond even love’s limits. April is thrown into turmoil, living moments in two eras, experiencing love and loss in both. With the help of Annabelle’s diary, she begins to unravel the mysteries of her ancestor’s history as her own destiny falls into place. Piecing together snippets of another life, giving peace back to the house and laying ghosts to rest; she unfolds the mystery of her family’s Supernatural Legacy.


What I recently finished reading

The Slow Regard of Silent Things

While this had none of the things every book on writing ever will tell you a book should have – no dialogue, no character development, and no action, to name a few – it had everything it needed in just the right measures. It was delicate, it was whimsical, and I loved the insight into the mind of my favourite character. It’s a lovely little thing, just like Auri, and I recommend you read it if you’ve read The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear first, and if you’ve adored Auri. Otherwise this might just be a little too odd for you.


The Slow Regard of Silent Things is set at The University, where the brightest minds work to unravel the mysteries of enlightened sciences, such as artificing and alchemy. Auri, a former student (and a secondary but influential character from Rothfuss’s earlier novels) now lives alone beneath the sprawling campus in a maze of ancient and abandoned passageways. There in The Underthing, she feels her powers and learns to see the truths that science—and her former classmates—have overlooked


This book was awesome. Period. <3

My review will follow next week (I hoped if I waited a few weeks it’d be more useful information and less uncontrolled gushing, but I’m not sure that’ll be the case), and as always it’ll be up on Goodreads first. Hopefully today. *ahem* *makes more tea* *signs contract with the devil to have more hours in the day*


Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.

The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.

The First Five Pages

As much as I enjoyed this and recommend this to everyone who wants to write or is already writing, I’m glad to be done with it, too. I don’t usually take this long over one book, especially one so short, so I’m relieved you won’t need to see it again in two weeks! 😛

My review will be up next week Thursday, just before my review for Nevernight will go up.


Editors always tell novice writers that the first few pages of a manuscript are crucial in the publishing process — and it’s true. If an editor or agent (or reader) loses interest after a page or two, you’ve lost him or her completely, even if the middle of your novel is brilliant and the ending phenomenal. Noah Lukeman, an agent in Manhattan, has taken this advice and created a book that examines just what this means, and I have to tell you, it’s one of the best I’ve read. Continue reading

All the Birds in the Sky

Unfortunately this didn’t work for me. It’s very rare that I don’t finish a book, but this is now the second book I gave up on. The idea was so intriguing, and there were some brilliant, poignant moments, but the execution led it down. The writing was amateurish for the most part, and I couldn’t connect with the characters at all even though I felt I actually had a fair bit in common with Patricia. There was a lot of “This happened, then this happened, he reacted this way so she said this, and then they went their separate ways’ going on, which got old for me fast. According to reviews this really falls apart in the second half, and since, in my opinion, it already didn’t have things together in the first half I decided to stop. Which I hate doing. But we just weren’t meant to be.


Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together—to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the Apocalypse.


What I think I’ll read next


I’ve heard a lot of good things about this and I’m excited to finally discover this series for myself. It sounds like a mixture of all my favourite genres so I can’t wait to dive in!


Izzy is on the fast track to nowhere. Being ordinary really blew sometimes. That’s until she meets Lucas–a man that’s unlike anyone she’s ever met. Mostly because he isn’t actually a man. He is a supernatural creature that proclaims to police the Light and Dark in order to protect humans.

And Izzy–well–she isn’t the human she thought she was. She is actually a supernatural being as well. And now Lucas is going to do everything in his power to find out what she is and protect her from the Dark lurking around the corner.

Awakening follows Izzy as she navigates this new world of demons, vampires, angels, and many other supernatural creatures. Recruited by the Promiscus Guardians and partnering with the most brooding and devilishly handsome man she’s every met, Lucas, Izzy is suddenly knee-deep up crap creek. Discover the secret behind her power and why it’s such a commodity in her Awakening.

or possibly…

The King

I read the prequel The Fool (you can read my review here) earlier this year and have been looking forward to The King ever since. I’m torn between this and Awakening for my next read, but it will definitely be one or the other, likely followed by whichever one I don’t read first.


Not all vampire hunters dress in head-to-toe leather and sit on rooftops overlooking a gritty vampire-ridden city. Meet Delia Roberts. At twenty-six, she’s a mid-level hunter with the Harriswood League, and, despite her best efforts, isn’t scaling the hunter hierarchy anytime soon.

Months earlier, desperate to prove herself, Delia snuck into an exclusive vampire masquerade, only to wind up with a bite on her neck courtesy of clan leader and gorgeous vampire Claude Grimm. Fearful of the League’s punishment for succumbing to a bloodsucker’s charms, Delia does what she can to hide the bite and pretends the night never happened.

These days, however, Claude is determined to win her over, insisting the spark they felt that fateful night is worth pursuing. As Delia tries to ignore her steadily growing feelings for the enemy and fend off a mounting quarter-life crisis, vampire clan tensions worsen around the quiet city of Harriswood, bringing with them a danger unlike any the League has ever seen.

One that might change the course of history for good.


Have you read any of these and would like to chat about it? I look forward to hearing from you if you do – just leave a comment below and we can get this book club started!

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How do You Market Your Book Once It’s Published? 11 Authors Share Their Secrets!

Just the word ‘marketing’ sends nervous shivers down the backs of many authors. It’s something you know you need to do – something really quite vital to your book’s success – but chances are you’re putting it off. You might be procrastinating because you have no idea where to start, because you don’t think of yourself as a marketing strategist but a creative, because it seems intimidating, or because any number of different reasons, but either way – it’s not getting done, is it?

Don’t worry, we don’t blame you. When you’re new to this writing thing you have so much to think about – How do you publish your book? Do you need an editor? What are beta readers and why does everyone say you need them? – that marketing likely takes a step back. Marketing happens after your book is out, right? Why worry about it before you approve your book on Amazon when there is everything else to do?

I know. I, and every author below (or ever), have been in the same place at one point. But the truth is that marketing happens at just about every stage of your bookish career – certainly after you’ve published your book (*high five!*), but also before you get to that stage.

So what can you do? Where do you start? The eleven authors below are here to help you with just that! Marketing is daunting, and chances are it always will be, but hopefully after reading this post you’ll feel a little more confident, and maybe even see the fun side! (I promise you, it exists if you know where to look.)

My personal recommendation is social media. Create a blog, sign up for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – whichever works best for you – before your book is out, and start mentioning here and there that you’re a writer with a book in the works. I can’t stress how wonderful the writing community is. I know signing up and declaring you’re a writer can be pretty scary, but I promise you we’ll catch you and welcome you with cookies and kittens (and tea/coffee, naturally). You’ll be glad you’ve joined, trust me. The sooner you can do this, the better. Your release day may seem like a long way off when you’ve only just finished your first draft, but that’s precisely why that’s the ideal time to start promoting. Think of it this way – if you wait until your book is out, no one will know it exists on release day. But if you create a blog, post regularly, and have at least a small but intrigued social media following by release day, then those are people who do know about your book! There may not be many if it’s your first book, but a few are better than none.

There’s only one thing you need to be on social media, and that’s yourself. Make sure your posts are genuine, avoid posting nothing but “My book is awesome! You have to read it NOW!”, and you’ll find your people (sometimes refered to as your tribe) in no time!

If you want to catch up with me on social media, glance over to the left-hand side – you’ve got all my links right there 😉

But let’s hear from the other eleven authors, shall we? (My thanks to all of you again for stopping by and sharing your insights <3 )

Nadia L. King, Author of Jenna’s Truth

A surprise that came with becoming a writer is the need for public speaking. When my debut book was published last year, I was most surprised by how much public speaking I needed to undertake. As writers, we often prefer to stay in the worlds we create in our heads. This isn’t always possible. We have to become adept at public speaking. No matter how shy you are, you will have public speaking engagements. The greater the public’s exposure to your book and to you, the more likely readers will ‘buy-in’ to your book. So get ready for radio and TV interviews, library talks, and school visits. You can have the fanciest, most sophisticated author website on the planet, but nothing beats the human touch. If we are truly to connect with our readers, we will need to speak to them and more often than not, this will require us to speak publicly.

Speaking engagements in Australia are paid and minimum rates are set by the Australian Society of Authors. Let schools and public libraries know you are available for talks by personally contacting them and providing details of what you cover in your talks and the audience you target. Remember, exposure is a powerful tool so use it when opportunities arise. So dear friends, get ready, feel the fear and do it anyway. Your book asks it of you.

 You can find Nadia on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Anna B. Madrise, Author of The Hatter’s Wife

Book marketing in today’s day and age, has become a business in and of itself. There are whole websites, presentations, and companies, slated towards the “how-to’s” an author should follow to market their book. What they don’t tell you, is whether you are self-pub, tradish, or hybrid, you – the author – are going to be doing a good deal amount of your own marketing, on your own.

My first tip? Start with one social media site and get really good at using it. Be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest (yes there are authors who are doing fabulous on Pinterest!) pick one, and learn EVERYTHING you can about how to use that social media site as a place to market your books.

My second tip? Schedule time each week that you set aside to actually “do” the marketing of your book. Don’t try to pile it on top of writing days or research days, it will only overwhelm and frustrate you. It needs to be treated with the same importance as when you sit down to work on your manuscripts. In some cases, after your book is published, it starts to become more important because finding your audience, that will read your work, is the foundation to your author business.

Finally, enjoy the process. You became a writer/author for a reason. Don’t be afraid to showcase all your hard work to the world. Go in with a positive attitude and you will be rewarded much the same, in return.

You can find Anna on her website, InstagramTwitterFacebook, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Michael Chrobak, Author of Brother Thomas and the Guardians of Zion and Where Angels Dwell

Marketing starts before a book is released. It doesn’t matter how much you are going to spend advertising, if your potential readers aren’t attracted to it, they aren’t going to buy. Period. So, what do you need? First, a well-designed cover. Unless you’re a talented artist, don’t create your own cover. It will look self-published, and in this business, that’s bad. If your budget is limited, spend most of it on a good cover. Also – edit, edit, edit. Spelling, grammar mistakes, or timeline discrepancies give the reader the impression you don’t care. They might buy your first book, but they most likely won’t get the next.

Once it’s released, social media will be your best friend. It’s free, so use it. Try to build your follower base to at least 500 to 1000 before you release. And please, don’t make every post or tweet about your book. Let them see your personality. The more they think you’re someone they could hang out with, the more willing they are to not only read your books, but give you reviews as well. Reviews are what sell your books to the rest of the world. So treat your followers with respect, and be personal. I only post about my book when I have something to share. Updates on new releases, promotions or sales, new cover reveals, etc. I also recommend having a blog and writing about anything but your books. It gives your fans something to read while they wait for the sequel.

You can find Michael on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Becky Wright, Author of The Manningtree Account and Remember to Love Me

Cultivating self-belief is one of the most daunting tasks as an Independent Author, but, inevitably, one of the first to master. Your story, your words, your thoughts are of course personal; therefore marketing your book is also promoting you.

The obvious place to start is with your loyal friends and family, but regards to onward marketing, think local. It’s important in the early stages to establish a readership, a following, a core group of readers who will eagerly ‘read & rave’ about your work. Once your book is in the hands of a reader, it becomes theirs; it now, no longer belongs solely to you. This is your greatest connection and tool.

Create an eye-catching Press Release, you will find numerous templates online. Think punchy and to the point – ‘who, what, when and why’. This is your press tool. Check out your local newspapers & magazines for spotlight features, book reviews and entertainment features. These are invaluable, some may jump at the chance of a local interest editorial, some may ask for an advertorial – you pay for a small advert and they give you a read up, creating a win-win situation.

All forms of media whether traditional print, or online social are a truly valuable source. Once mastered, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram will be your best buddies. But be caution, your time is precious, you are a writer, so make sure you dedicate time for writing.

You can find Becky on her website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

RK Ride, Author of the Stella series

To be honest, the least favourite part of my publishing journey has to be marketing! But, I quickly realised that if I wanted people to enjoy the story I’d created, I had to get my head around the fact that I needed to let readers know my book was out there.  And one way I discovered to accomplish that, was not through ‘selling’ but through ‘connecting’.  Connecting with not only potential readers, but with fellow authors too. As authors, we are not in competition with each other. When you consider how many books a voracious reader can devour in a year, compared to how many books one author can write, it makes a whole lot of sense to collaborate with and support other authors.

A common medium to connect with others is through Social Media, and while it is a fabulous medium, it can also be a huge time suck. Early on in my marketing journey, I spent a lot of time on social media, but I found that my time spent was often grossly disproportionate to the amount of sales made. Now I focus my time and attention on growing my email list so that I can connect with my followers on a much more personal, one to one basis via a monthly newsletter, while still support my colleagues by having an Author Interview section in my mail out.

You can find Rhonda on her website, Facebook, and Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

K.J. Chapman, author of the EVO Nation series and Thrown to the Blue

Indie authors are self-reliant on every publishing detail no matter how big or small. One aspect, and one of the most important, is marketing. Getting your book seen and reviewed will take up just as much time as the writing did in the first place.

I was a total newbie to anything self-publishing when I released my first book. I started marketing after publication and have since learnt that I made my life hard. Networking and building up your social media presence is vital, especially before publication. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and a website/blog are just some of the key marketing platforms to build up a target audience, open avenues for beta and ARC readers, and to garner a solid group of fans who will support your work, read and review, share, repost, host you on their own blogs etc.

One part of successful marketing are visuals to use on these various social media platforms. You can hire professionals to create your promos, Facebook banners etc. Or you can create your own as and when you need them. Here are some links to websites that allow you to create free promos and/or edit images for this purpose: (this website has a fantastic array of free tools to make book covers, Instagram posts, Twitter banners, and much more.) (this website allows you to edit images, add text, change eye colour, hair colour etc. Useful for editing free-stock pictures.) (this website offers numerous images released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0.

I hope this has helped writers looking at going down the indie publishing route. It can be a long, tiring slog, but it gets your work out there and under your terms.

You can find Kayleigh on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Beverley Lee, Author of the Gabriel Davenport Trilogy

Marketing is an unruly beast as there isn’t an established rule book. But what does work may surprise you. It doesn’t involve spending money, just time. Support other writers. Cheer on all of their successes and be there on the bad days. The writing community is tight knit, they will do the same for you, and their readers may become your readers, which, in turn, will open up another new line of readership for you. It’s only by supporting others that we grow stronger as a whole.

If you do decide that advertising in a book promotion newsletter is for you, do your research on which are the best fit for your genre. Find out how many subscribers they have and what their newsletter actually looks like. Is it professional? (Some aren’t!) You will need to schedule well in advance though if you want to tie in your promotion with any others you are running. Some do book up months in advance so you need a marketing plan. Run a few campaigns and log your sales, rebook with the ones that give you the best return. You probably won’t even break even with the cost, but what it will do is to boost your book further up the rankings so that more people will see it. Keeping your book visible is one of the most important things that you can do.

You can find Beverley on her website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Ellen Read, Author of The Dragon Sleeps

After so many months writing a book, editing and publishing it, I then had to sell it. This is the most difficult of all.  I have worked in publicity/marketing in the performing arts, and although I think this was of some help, books are so very different. I researched and read everything I could find on how to go about selling my books. To start with, I had a website built. Then I started building an online presence. I started a writer’s page on Facebook and I joined Instagram and Goodreads. Instagram, in particular, was a revelation. I did not expect to find a book/writer/reader community there. Goodreads is also a great way to communicate with other authors and readers. A blog followed, although at first I wasn’t certain what I wanted to say. If you are selling your books on Amazon, as most Indie authors are, Amazon gives you an author page in US, UK, France and Germany, but not Australia and being Australian, I wish they did. However, there will always be some negatives. The thing is to work with are the positives. Author signings are a good way to get your book out there too. Sometimes I wonder how to fit in writing but it’s necessary to build followers.

You can find Ellen on her blog, website, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads, and Amazon.

G. R. Thomas, Author of The A’vean Chronicles

Visibility. This is the key word to demonstrate best practice book marketing. This is achievable three ways.

Social media. Used regularly, it is an effective platform to promote your book whether it be the cover, reviews or quotes, release dates and special promos.

Interaction. Be available to engage with readers and other authors to build relationships and trust. This promotes interest in your work as well as a sense of feeling like there’s a connection between the author and reader. We all know how exciting it is if we get a like from our favourite authors.

Book signings. There’s nothing like face to face interaction for you to draw a reader in and become memorable to them. Face to face signings have been the single most successful means for me in terms of sales, return customers and increase in social media following.

You can find Grace on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

A. Morgan, Author of The Siblings

As an independent author, it is key to market the story right. Some pay for companies to do this for them, or like me, prefer the cheap and easy route by doing it myself.

For those looking to do it themselves, here is a few things to consider:

– Blog it. If you have a blog, get your story familiar with your followers by posting key information, excerpts, teasers, novel aesthetics or anything else you can think of by shouting loudest.

– Tweet it. Twitter along with its hashtags help many indie authors get their work out in the big bad world. Be it via #BookBoost, #indieauthors or the simple #amwriting, many people get the chance to see it. But be careful, filling up your timeline with nothing but self promotion, it can put a lot off followers off.

– I do not use it myself currently but Instagram seems to be a popular place to leave teasers.

Also, remember what type of readers you are looking to attract. If you’re trying to sell romance to a site popular with hardcore horror readers, you may not get the reaction you desire. The internet is a beautiful place and I know next time around, I will strive to do much more in advance. Leaving things to the last minute is not ideal. Scout hashtag games, bloggers willing to read advance copies and don’t be afraid to give away some for free.

Good luck with your journey and be prepared.

You can find Alan on his blog, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Melinda Devine, Author of Gina’s Diaries

Marketing. If I had to label this word, a sticker reading ‘A necessary evil’ would be slapped upon it.

When I began writing my debut novel Gina’s Diaries, I had no idea about marketing, let alone having to market my own book and myself as an author. I mean, really? Isn’t being an author just sitting and writing and releasing book after book? The answer: no. Especially for an Indie author.

To sell my book and myself, I needed to let everyone know we existed and to do that, I had to accept marketing was just as important as the book itself.

I have found two platforms which I’m comfortable with: Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook has worked for me in letting my friends and family know about my books, where they can purchase them, giving updates on my WIP and if I’m doing any book events or anything locally.

Instagram has been fabulous in reaching a far wider audience but in also allowing me to connect with authors and readers alike. I’ve held a couple of giveaways, placed my book on sale, attempted a few teasers and learnt an abundance of marketing ideas from the ever supportive author/bookstagram community.

I may see marketing as a necessary evil at the moment but that’s only because I’m still learning how to do it. One day it will just be a necessity and then, when I’ve successfully mastered it, marketing will be a breeze!

You can find Melinda on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

How do YOU market your books? What works best for you? Grab a cookie, make a tea/coffee, and let’s chat!

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Review: A Shining in the Shadows by Beverley Lee (Gabriel Davenport, #2) (ARC)

“Gabriel Davenport has been remade from darkness. Now, he must adapt to survive .

In a small seaside town, Gabriel’s maker unwittingly takes his wards into the throes of a deadly new game. There are rumblings on The Bloodvyne, the mental web of linked vampire consciousness. Whispers about a cleansing, about the ruling council hunting vampires with impure blood.

Gabriel finds himself thrust into a new nightmare, where the hunter becomes the hunted. When his maker is taken, he must battle to untangle the mystifying clues laid out in an uncovered labyrinth to find the only creature strong enough to fight against those that hunt his new-found family.

Gaze long into the darkness, and you’ll find old vampire foes out for revenge, new ones with their own agenda, and a witch who holds the key. But just who is the monster in the middle?”

What I thought:

I was really chuffed to be on Beverley’s ARC squad <3 Having devoured her debut novel last year I was really excited to get my hands on the sequel.

And it delivered! Book 2 was every bit as thrilling, with new plot twists and new fascinating developments – and, of course, new cliffhangers setting up Book 3 – but no spoilers there 😉

Come to me, she whispered, and the fireflies in her eyes took flight.

The focus at the beginning is on Clove’s little group; however, previous POVs still made plenty of appearances, too, which gave a brilliant overview over (almost) everything that’s going on. I especially loved Moth’s and Teal’s POVs. Both boys really came into their own in this sequel and it was great to see just how much they developed over the course of the story.

There were also a few new characters who brought with them an interesting look into vampire politics!

I shuddered, the sensation running down my spine like the edge of a fingernail. My vision blurred and I blinked back tears, but I wasn’t sure if I was crying for what I had lost or what I had found.

Speaking of Moth and Teal, their character development was a personal highlight. We already knew a few things about them from Book 1, but this time we really got to know them and I loved watching them cope with all the new developments throughout. They are two very different boys who added a lot of depths to the plot. There were some fascinating facts about Teal which were revealed slowly as the plot progressed, and seeing Moth slowly open up was wonderful. For most of the book all I wanted was for Moth and Gabriel to get together and adopt Teal, because they’d make such a beautiful family! <3 Honestly, I can’t think of one character in Lee’s books I don’t like.

The writing was another highlight. Lee’s style is beautiful, and I found more quotes than I usually do – hence why I’ve chosen to include three rather than the usual two.

Something shifted deep inside him. Moth wasn’t prepared to lose another brother. If they went down, they would all do it together.

There ‘s everything to love about A Shining in the Shadows, and I can’t think of one aspect I didn’t enjoy. If you’re looking for a gothic urban fantasy with demons, vampires, and ancient magic (and why wouldn’t you? That sounds awesome!) I can’t recommend this book enough. It has everything you could want, and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end.

Have you read A Shining in the Shadows, or do you need more convincing? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

I don’t review books professionally. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Goodreads listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.

For all other book reviews, please take a look here.

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Everything You Need to Know About Beta Reading – How Do You Find Your Squad?

Welcome to the new series, friends! 🙂 This one is all about beta reading. If you’ve missed anything in my series about world building, or if you’d like to remind yourself of a couple of points, you can now find all posts neatly listed here 😉

Knowing how to be a good beta reader and what to ask for if you’re the writer is useful and all, but how do you actually find beta readers? It’s a question I’ve been asked several times since I’ve started this blog, so I thought it was the perfect topic to start with!

Ask on your blog

This was the most effective way for me. I asked here, and you answered! I had far more responses than I expected to receive, so this worked very well for me. You can take a look at my post here if you’d like to get a better idea of what I did:

I recommend you ask on your blog for another reason, too: The people who follow your blog are more likely to be interested in your progress than Twitter followers, for example, where most people follow someone without really thinking about it. Therefore, if you ask on your blog or website you’re more likely to get the word to people who are genuinely interested in your books, and actually want to help. I don’t need to spell out for you why that’s a good thing. And it brings me to my next point, too:

Ask in your newsletter

Now, I understand if you’re new to this blogging and writing thing you likely haven’t gone all out right away. That’s okay. These are suggestions, after all, and you don’t have to run with all of them! So don’t worry if you don’t have a newsletter.

If you do have one, however, I recommend that you use it to build your squad. Our inboxes are sacred; we don’t subscribe to someone’s mailing list unless we’re really, really interested. So, if you ask for beta readers via your newsletter, you can be sure that the people who open it actually care.

Ask on social media

Social media can be excellent for getting the word out to as many people as possible as soon as possible. However, please be advised that a lot of people who follow you on social media won’t actually be interested in your books. Similar to giveaways, a lot of people might reply and follow you until they realise that they didn’t make it (which is okay, by the way – you can’t make everyone who volunteers a beta reader, that’d be insane, but I’ll come to that in a moment).

Therefore, if you’re going to ask on social media, I’d advise you only do it in conjunction with your blog. You could set up some simple guidelines, so you can be sure that the people who respond are definitely interested and know what you need from them.

Ask on specific websites

Now, I admit, I haven’t actually tried this. I know there are several sites which specialise in getting beta readers and writers together, but because I haven’t tried it I can’t recommend any. I do, however, know a few writers who have done this with mixed results. Some betas you get are excellent. Others read one chapter or get halfway through your manuscript and then drop out, often without a word.

So ask on beta specific websites at your own risk. They can work out great, or you might waste a couple of months without receiving any input.

Who should you take?

Having a squad of writers definitely has its advantages, but don’t forget that you’re not writing solely for other writers. You also want input from people who don’t obsess over grammar rules and theory books; you know, readers. It’s a good idea to have a mixture of the two, across all age groups, of both genders. Someone who wouldn’t normally read the genre you write can be just as valuable as a whole-life fan. Someone who loves your genre might get lost in the story and not notice smaller mistakes as a result. Someone who wouldn’t usually pick up a book like yours, on the other hand, might be more focused on spelling and grammar.

How many do you want?

The more betas you have, the more opinions you’re going to get. In small numbers that’s a great thing – if one beta hates chapter four or Billy’s character development but the other five betas love it, you’ve likely got nothing to worry about. But do you know what happens when you have twelve betas? You get twelve opinions, some of them very different, and you’ll end up not knowing what to do. Does it really help you to know that three people hated Jianna, one person sort of disliked her, five people were indifferent but didn’t want her to die exactly, and the other three adored the ground she sways on? What do you do with that information? All it tells you is that some people love her and others don’t, but you probably already guessed that before you sent your book out to betas. After all, the same is true for everything we create.

But you don’t want too few betas, either. Imagine having two betas. One hates Charlie, the other doesn’t comment. Does that mean that Charlie is unlikable? Does it mean you have to cut her?

So how many betas should you have? Personally I recommend four to seven, but seven might already be pushing it. The best thing to do is to experiment, and see what works best for you. Too many opinions will quickly become overwhelming, but too few and you won’t learn anything. I’d say start with five, and if you then feel that you’re not receiving enough input you can always recruit a few more.

To summarise:

Having strangers read your book is the way to go, but knowing that you can trust people is a good thing, too. I know plenty of people on social media, for example, who I’m not that close to that I’d call us best friends exactly, but who I know would stick to their word and do a good job. Don’t just recruit your best friends who read all the time and your parents. They don’t make good beta readers unless they can be absolutely, brutally, honest with you, and most of your friends won’t want to do that. If you do recruit one or two friends, make sure you still recruit enough other betas to ensure complete honesty.

Asking here on CookieBreak worked best for me and I will ask in my newsletter, too, when the times comes (in a few weeks… stay sharp, friends). I will ask on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as well, but I will lead people back here so I can explain my conditions properly and in detail.

In two weeks we’ll look at when the right time to ask for betas is, but before that 11 authors share their best marketing tips here next week! An Easter gift from us, to you 😉

How do you ask for betas? Have you gone over a website, and what’s your experience? (Recommendations welcome!) More importantly, do you have any more questions? 🙂 Make a tea, grab a cookie, and let’s chat!

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Review: Crescent Moon by James Fahy (Phoebe Harkness, #2)

“What do you do when your world is turned upside down?

When you discover your father had a direct hand in the genocide of much of the world’s human population?

Phoebe Harkness’ life has changed forever. Thirty years after a cataclysmic world war that eviscerated one third of the human population, a new sub-species of vampire-like drones has set its teeth to the survivors of humanity.

They’re not the only ones: ‘Genetic Others’ such as vampires, werewolves and more roam the streets of New Oxford, trying – and sometimes failing – to live peacefully amongst humankind.

But that is all about to change.

A spate of serial killings have occurred, rocking the already fragile ecosystem of New Oxford.

Brutal murders and mutilation are now commonplace.

Phoebe must get to work. She is named as liaison between the Genetic Others and the Cabal, the ruling order of the walled city.

She must negotiate with the Tribals, a subset of werewolves cast aside by the cultural hegemony of the Cabal.

But before she can make any progress with the Tribal leader, Kane, she learns of more murders – and three missing students. And Kane’s daughter is among the missing…

One of the victims leaves a message in blood: ‘Crescent Moon’.

Now Phoebe must act urgently with the help of Kane and her former paramour, vampire Allesandro to track down the culprit of these horrific killings.

But who is conducting all of these strange happenings behind the scenes?

And what does it have to do with the Crescent Moon…?

Crescent Moon is the gripping second instalment of the urban gothic Phoebe Harkness series. It follows the young doctor as she stalks through the corrupt dystopia of New Oxford.”

What I thought:

I won’t lie, Phoebe’s sarcasm was the number one thing I looked forward to 😀

I’d never considered, before trying this ambassador lark, what a delicate and dangerous balance we struck between the different GO factions and the humans of the city. And behind it all, patient and hungry outside our walls, just waiting for our brave new civilisation to fail and collapse, were the countless multitudes of the Pale.

In the first book of this series Fahy introduced the vampires of New Oxford, but the focus in Crescent Moon is on the Tribals – a race similar to werewolves but not restricted to wolves. Tribals come in all shapes – wolves, bears, panthers – and they are large. Large as in easily-towering-over-anyone-normal-human-height large. So Phoebe’s in for a treat! I was especially curious about the Tribals after Book 1, so this was interesting for both of us. Although I, at least, was in no danger of being torn to shreds unlike Phoebe.

Throughout the book, tensions between the human movement and the Genetic Others supporters grow as both seem to head towards civil war. It’s a bit like watching water heat in a sauce pan until it eventually boils over (just, you know, you could totally stop the water by taking it off the heat). Neither side is willing to step down or compromise, and so tensions grow. While the situation doesn’t truly escalate, I worry about where it’s headed in the next book.

After months of non-contact, erotic and surreal dreams and waking hallucinations of the man notwithstanding, I was apparently off to meet with Allesandro again, Clan Master of St Giles, at the behest of the tribal Leader. This was bound to end well.

I fervently wished I was back in the lab with the diseased corpse.

One of my favourite parts were the scenes were Phoebe got to leaf through the bloody Voynich manuscript. I admit to mild strong jealousy.

Now, as much as I enjoyed the plot, I have to admit that the heavy use of adverbs was grinding on me. I don’t mind an adverb here and there as long as it adds something, but unfortunately this book was littered with them and it affected my enjoyment more than a little. If they bug you as much as they bugged me, do what I did and ignore them. It took a bit of practice but it helped.

If you’re looking for a gothic urban fantasy then I recommend this series! The first book is Hell’s Teeth, so you’ll want to start there 😉


Have you read Crescent Moon, or would you like to? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

I don’t review books professionally. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Goodreads listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.

For all other book reviews, please take a look here.