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Book Master

I'm a reader, author and reviewer. I read horror, the paranormal and mystery

Selah's Sweet Dream

Selah's Sweet Dream - Susan Count
Selah's Sweet Dream tells the story of Selah's dream; to own a horse and to, take her dream, further to be an equestrian superstar. However, there are barriers that she must overcome to make this dream come true.

The first thing that struck me about this novel is the beautiful cover art and illustrations. This would be one book I would love to own in print. It would look so good on my bookshelf and on those of the many horse mad teenagers out there.

Selah, our young protagonist, is determined and, also very sweet. Susan Count writes in a style that fits perfectly with the genre. The storyline has plenty of twists and turns which makes the book a great little adventure for younger kids to read. The author evidently has plenty of knowledge of horses which results in the book becoming a good learning resource for children of the same age. I mean, who couldn't love to read about a nice girl whose dreams match your own?

I loved Selah's Sweet Dream and I would be delighted to read more from Susan Count, even if the book wasn't about horses.

2016 Weird & Wacky Holiday Marketing Guide: Your business calendar of marketing ideas

2016 Weird & Wacky Holiday Marketing Guide: Your business calendar of marketing ideas - Ginger Marks This book is so in-depth, I couldn't begin to imagine just how long it took Ginger Marks to research and write. In marketing, you may have come across advice to use holidays such as these to market your product. It is no different in book marketing.

It is a very useful reference to own if your book's theme can fit into a given public holiday. I wish I could make use of it! My books never seem to fit in with anything. The holidays are listed by month and day, which can make searching through it a bit laborious and time-consuming. I'm wondering if it would make things easier if the holidays could have been listed by genre. Would that have made it easier to look for a reference to your book's theme? I suppose you could look each month up as they come to see if it's relevant to you. Most of the holidays and dates are so obscure that, I expect, many people wouldn't be aware that they even exist.

Examples of non-traditional holidays you can find in this guide are Cuckoo Dancing Week in January, For Pete's Sake Day in February and Electric Razor Day in March. I'd be curious to know if anyone has written books that fitted into these! Maybe there is a different meaning to them and they are not all literal. The book also lists the usual, well-known holidays such as Christmas and Easter.

Overall, I think it's a book that could prove handy if you have some spare time or you want to write something incorporating a holiday listed. Then, there is no excuse for not finding at least some inspiration!

Trail of Secrets

Trail of Secrets - Laura Wolfe Trail of Secrets by Laura Wolfe follows Brynlei as she solves the mystery of missing girl, Caroline Watson. The story all takes place at Foxwoode Riding Academy, a prestigious riding school. Whilst training and enjoying a 3 week stay, she becomes mixed up with the case of the missing girl.

It feels extremely weird when you see alot of yourself in a character written in a book. So, in a way, you’re compelled to finish the story in one sitting. Her love of horses only strengthens this view. As you tend to do when you reading something you know a lot about, you find yourself checking facts about that subject. Saying that I agreed with everything bar one fact! That will give the reader something to look for. I liked the story; it combines two of my favourite genres. I loved it, too, when an unlikeable character ended up on her backside.

The ending was not as I expected which is good (I don’t tend to read synopsis’ thoroughly when I review a book.) The characters are believable but I didn't root for any of them, particularly. But, to be fair, I don’t tend to do that anyway. There are one or two errors in the book; they’re small enough to ignore, however. In conclusion, Trail of Secrets is a great little tale for teenagers. Go try it.

The Flies

The Flies - Ju Ephraime The Flies by Ju Ephraime is a tale of a frightening nature. Flies are annoying little bugs at the best of times. Not to mention that disgusting thing that they do with their food. But, can you imagine being possessed by one?

Jamie Bradshaw hears footsteps and banging from things that she cannot see. It has become so bad that she has resorted to living in the basement where the spirits don't visit. They're behaving themselves, to a degree, at the moment; so, are they really there or are they just in her imagination? No one else seem to see them.

So, it's now that the flies make their entrance. Up until that point, the rest of the scene is set; a lone, disabled woman whose fears are magnified each day that she lives as a recluse in her basement. The appearance of these infuriating insects are the beginning of the end for Ms Bradshaw; this is the point where I feel the story starts to become much stronger.

However, could the reader have been left to discover what the intention (possession: as told in the introduction) of the flies were? I think it would have made this story that much more chilling to read. Maybe less telling and more showing would have increased the chill factor, too. Saying that, overall, I quite liked Flies. The storyline is definitely more interesting than some of the usual horror that I have read. Also a majority of the story can be read, say, over a lunch break, leaving the conclusion left to be read at a later time. That is, if you can't wait that long!

Midnight's Gate: Short Stories: Volume 2 Mike Driver

Midnight's Gate: Short Stories: Volume 2 Mike Driver - Mike Driver Midnight’s Gate by Mike Driver is a collection of short stories that have been published in several horror magazines at one time or another. The tales within are a mix of spooky, paranormal events and a frightening display of the human psyche. If ‘The Informer’ doesn't get to you, then ‘Now Wash Your Hands’ definitely will.

Yes, I had my favourites and some of the stories were stronger than the others. But, if that wasn't the case then Midnight’s Gate wouldn't have worked as a collection. I did feel that the story, ‘The Mistletoe Kiss (A Hard-Boiled Bliss Mystery),’ wasn't truly connected to the rest of them, however. But, maybe it needed to be there just to keep the reader on his/her toes!

I have to admit, also, to getting ‘lost’ whilst reading a couple of the stories. I think that this was due to the fact that a definite hook was missing. I had to read those stories again just to be sure I understood where they were going.

There is no theme to the tales but, to be quite honest, I like it when there isn't rhyme or reason to something. Stories can be written just for magazine submissions and, as such, would all have different guidelines. It helps to prevent things from becoming too boring as well.

A collection such as this must still ‘fit’ together and the author has definitely achieved this. Well worth a read for all horror fans.

Prince of Nightmares

Prince of Nightmares - John McNee Prince of Darkness by John McNee revolves around a haunted hotel: Ballador Country House Hotel. It is located in one of the most remotest areas of Scotland and it has a reputation to uphold.

Victor Teversham’s wife, Josie, committed suicide and for a parting gift she booked a vacation for him in that very hotel. Charming girl. Malevolent nightmares of gruesome proportions would force sane people to run to the hills, but, amazingly, Victor chooses to stay on and face the demons head on. His wife had seen something in him long before she’d even entered the world.

John McNee is a truly great writer, capable of scaring the living daylights out of even the seasoned of horror fans. Graphic descriptions, an imagination of pure evil and a talent for perfect prose, Prince of Darkness, is just what you may be looking for to welcome the New Year in with.

Although I favour horror at a different end of the scale, I could still get enjoyment out of this book. The characters were varied and multifaceted, the setting is in good old UK, and the book itself is of a good length. John McNee has taught me just what is required to become a successful horror writer.

Game Play

Game Play - Tina Collins Reviewed By Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite

Game Play by Tina Collins is a collection of short erotic stories that will boggle your mind. The people who read my reviews know that I am a total romance nut case, so a chance to read a collection of steamy stories was heaven for me. But I was in for a surprise. These stories are more than just romance, boy meets girl, girl meets boy, they fall in love, they do the horizontal hump and they live happily ever after. Each and every story is different and offers a different face of romance.

Every single story is unique and many of them will surprise you. I, for one, was not expecting “A Forgotten Love” to end like this. It was strange, yet unusual and interesting. And boy, was “Dying Embers” a great surprise. Some of these stories have to do with BDSM or a type of BDSM and, surprisingly, it did not make me squeamish because I try my level best to avoid that genre.

Each story had its own setting and each of them had its atmosphere. There is a sense of freedom in them, even though some of them are not what we call happy endings. These stories are dark, different, and very entertaining. Regardless to say, they had my attention and I love this about the book. These stories are short and snappy. The dialogues are crisp, to the point, and very invigorating. If you are looking for something heart pounding and sizzling, this is for you.

Sinister Secrets

Sinister Secrets - Robert Joseph Sinister Secrets by Robert Joseph is very much like the novel, Outbreak by Robin Cook. Yes, Outbreak was about Ebola and Sinister Secrets is dealing with a whole new type of virus. However, there are elements of similarity such as a short incubation period, short period of time between diagnosis and death (a pretty nasty one, too) and the introduction of the virus via primates.

But, the cure isn’t about creating a vaccine for this virus but developing a tonic made from a plant. This makes Robert Joseph’s novel entirely different to other novels in the same ilk. I find it hard not to keep thinking the virus in Sinister Secrets, as Ebola. Then, of course, I start comparing the facts in the novel with what we know already about the disease. So, I had to make sure I remembered that Robert Joseph’s virus is fictional (I hope!). I liked the novel; it’s not just about an outbreak of an unknown virus but the corruption and stupidity surrounding its release.

I did find one little discrepancy in the facts but it could easily be passed over without affecting the story. It read, to me, like the virus was already ‘recognised’ before it was officially studied, categorised and subsequently named. At that moment in the book, very little was known about what caused the few deaths that had occurred. So, I was a little unsure as to whether the error was really one or not.

Don’t let this little thing, though, spoil the book for you. It’s a terrific read with plenty of action taking place on the sidelines.

White Horse in Winter

White Horse in Winter - Franci McMahon White Horse in Winter by Franci McMahon ticked all the right boxes for me regarding genre. I love horse, mysteries and have a thing for enjoying LGBT.

An unusual mixture, you might think. Yet, it works quite well. The crime is murder (of a horse and its owner.) No professional investigators here; just amatuer sleuthing at its best.

To begin with, I found the relationship dynamics of the 3 main characters, a bit confusing. Long distance relationships, homophobia and serious trust issues all take their place in Franci McMahon's novel. In that respect, it's very true of today. It's shameful that there is homophobia still around, for example.

White Horse In Winter, is the second book in a series. So I've come a little late to the party. Would it have made it more enjoyable? Perhaps and it would explain why I felt just a touch confused to begin with.

The question is: Does this book stand up okay on its own? I would say, yes. It doesn't take long to catch up with things at all. Description in some areas could have been better but then our readers just may not see things the way we do. Creatives are not called 'odd' for nothing :)

Whilst homophobia is part of this novel, I got a little annoyed with the characters mainly sticking to 'their own'. That would give credence to the fact that maybe there is something to be ashamed of. With regards to the murder, motive is a strong factor here rather than a 'serial killer' type crime. Discovering the reasons behind this crime turned out to be more interesting than figuring out who the culprit was.

I enjoyed White Horse In Winter but I would have enjoyed it a lot more, if I'd read the one before: Night Mare.

Deadly Determination

Deadly Determination - Ian   Jackson Deadly Determination by I.D. Jackson is a police procedural set in Liverpool, UK. The fact that is set in the UK will please many crime-loving Brits.

It's also good to hear of a British author on the climb towards major success. Fans of I.D. Jackson would already have read Dead Charming prior to this novel. They won't be disappointed.

This second offering is equally as good with plenty of action within the first chapter. A murder, a court case and an introduction to members of Karen Bellows' confusing family. How can she possibly be a loving, supporting partner to her pregnant girlfriend? She just is.

The characters are well faceted and you find yourself, subconsciously, finding elements that you, yourself, can relate to. You feel you have no choice but root for the character in question; someone to sympathise with and/or even admire. For example, D.S. Strand is one third of D.I. Karen Bellows team, the frankly spoken lead investigator assigned to the case.

Strand has little going for him and he has placed himself in an impossible situation; his associations with unsavoury individuals in the criminal world is impacting on his private life as well as his career. But, is there an excuse for his behaviour? Is he treated unfairly? That is one thing you can decide.

Deadly Determination is definitely a novel to consider, especially if you are looking for characters that could easily be residents of Liverpool, today.

Active Patience: A Simple Guide to Productive Writing

Active Patience: A Simple Guide to Productive Writing - N.C Harley, Sydney Smith I'm not usually a fan of self-help books meaning that I don't buy them. However, I was taken aback with Active Patience, A Simple Guide to Productive Writing. N.C Harley had my thoughts and difficulties just spot on. In fact, it could have been written by me.

It's not a long book; I finished it in two sittings but it didn't need to be. Any longer and the message and advice would have been lost along with my interest.

If you are a writer, like me, who has struggled with the practical side of writing then I believe you could get something from this. You could read it, implement the ideas and then put it away and forget about it. The book, though, isn't meant to be used in this way.

This is a guide that will keep you on track providing you keep re-reading sections of it. As it is short, the specific sections/chapters are easily found. Remind yourself of just what you need to do to accomplish your dreams as a writer every day or even every week. Does N.C Harley preach? I don't think so; it didn't feel that way to me. Believe me, I've had my fair share of lectures! Must be the child in me.

It's a straightforward, concise and encouraging self-help book that will be your mentor for some time.

After the Horses: A Dan Sharp Mystery

After the Horses: A Dan Sharp Mystery - Jeffrey Round I do love a mystery and After the Horses is an excellent example. It is literally dripping with suspense and not a book you'll find easy to put down. If you didn't have to eat, sleep, work and do the necessary ablutions including the unmentionables, then you would obviously have a free rein to just savour.

The novel is set in the gay community and focuses on cops, lawyers and accountants all in a tightly woven net of corruption. There is also an offshoot for the lead character to deal with on a personal level. All this combines to create a plot that ticks all the right boxes with regards to required elements of a good book. There is also plenty of descriptive text about Toronto, where the novel is set, to really get you immersed in the life and world of Dan Sharp (Private Investigator.)

It would be easy to think, by reading the synopsis and reviews, that there must be too much going on in the one story. But Jeffrey Round has expertly constructed it to be manageable for his readers without losing the momentum. After the Horses is intended to be part of a series so there is plenty to look forward to; Dan Sharp may just be on the case again.

It's so easy to be too cliche and repetitive writing reviews; the same phrases and descriptive words tend to come up time and time again. I'm loathe to be that way with After the Horses. It's worth so much more than that.

Dead Certainty: A contemporary horse racing mystery (A Harry Radcliffe Mystery)

Dead Certainty: A contemporary horse racing mystery (A Harry Radcliffe Mystery) - Glenis Wilson Mysteries and intrigue come thick and fast in the world of racing. Dead Certainty by Glenis Wilson is another addition to this catalogue. The novel could have been written by the likes of Dick Francis (or his wife) as it exhibits the same style of writing. Another similarity is the fact that mystery also surrounds the society of racing, here too.

I'm not complaining about how Ms Wilson has written Dead Certainty but I'm not liking the racing theme. Many critics could see this as piggy-backing on the success of a best-selling author which would be a shame. The author should be viewed as someone new and exciting in their own right. Constant references to another best-selling writer in its reviews isn't really what any author wants to see. Another worrying thing for me, is that I was actually getting extremely confused in my head between Dead Certainty and Tip Off, a John Francome novel. Yes, yet another series of horse racing mysteries...

Perhaps this was due to the fact that I had only finished the latter novel recently; a matter of a few weeks. But, whatever the reason, this is not the desired reaction from your readers that you should be aiming for. Your book should be the one that sticks in people's minds. It should make a mark. Unfortunately, for Ms Wilson, Dick Francis' Bolt is the only book that does that for me in this particular genre.

Even though I am a lover of horses and mysteries, I often tend to avoid reading books just like these, anyway. I have an idea that the subject of racing is a contributory factor here. I'm just not liking it. There are so many other equine disciplines out there that it is a waste of an extensive market just to stick to one or two.

I can't fault the remaining aspects of the novel, though. Good development of characters with a variety of personalities and personal difficulties. Maybe, something to offset the lack of variety in the book's theme? Aside from everything I have said, this is a good book to read, plenty of action and you can't help root for the poor protagonist who seems to get it in the neck frequently. He appears to have more luck caring for his disabled sister than he does himself.

Good read.

To Win Her Favor (A Belle Meade Plantation Novel)

To Win Her Favor (A Belle Meade Plantation Novel) - Tamera Alexander To Win Her Favor, is set within the racing fraternity; Maggie Linden has one goal in mind: her thoroughbred mare, Bourbon Belle, must become champion of the Drayton Stakes. Cullen McGrath, an Irish man, however, wants nothing to do with racing but must be involved in the sport to win the heart of Maggie. He is fulfilling the agreement he has with his future father-in-law, to marry the daughter and to take on the farm.

Already in the first few chapters, there is conflict, drive, determination, intrigue and a fair amount of feistiness. That magnetism between the two main characters of both hate and passion at the same time, remind me a little of the structure of the Mills and Boon's library. In those books this was tedious and it soon became predictable and samey. As Ms Alexander is a new author to me, I don't know if this is the usual pattern of her novels, but, even if it does, it works well here.

The first word that popped into my head whilst reading To Win Her Favor, was 'Master.' Words such as this do not come very often to me, especially in relation to a book or story but, for this novel, it is fitting. Master, is a word I use to a describe Tamera Alexander's book, with regards to the style, the competency as a writer and the skill used to write dialogue and description. It far surpasses many of the books I have read over the years.

The novel is a Christian one and, as such, has attracted some negative reviews with reference to the sex scenes. However, there are varying degrees of levels within faith as with anything in life and so these particular scenes may be considered offensive to some but not others. This differing of opinion should not take away what the novel undoubtedly has: class

The sex scenes are within the confines of a marriage between two loving adults, and, because of that, should not be seen as gratuitous, or unnecessary. Are the sex scenes the main focus? No, they are not. Would the novel be fine for a young adult to read? Yes, absolutely. Did I enjoy this novel? Almost certainly! What is there not to love?

To Win Her Favor is marketed as a historical Christian romance, and that is exactly what it is.

A Horse for Kate (Horses and Friends)

A Horse for Kate (Horses and Friends) - Miralee Ferrell A Horse for Kate is story about a girl, Kate, as depicted on the cover, who longs to own a horse. This is many a girl's dream; mine included, I'm sure. Fate and circumstances dictate whether you or I fulfill this dream. As it does for Kate.

I have to admire Kate for her persistence. Also for her parents' patience with her demands. I would have received a definite, 'No.' End of. Still, it didn't stop me dreaming.

Kate is a twelve year old, coming up thirteen, girl with a surprising knowledge of horses in some areas. In others, she is lacking which didn't quite tally up with the knowledge she does hold. For example, in Spokane, the book is set in the United States, she regularly helped out at the local stables including taking riding lessons. But, now in Odell, Oregon, she manages to get a job helping out a stables near by. Nothing amiss here, but then it turns out, she doesn't know how to muck a stable out. She also has a definite aversion to anything 'mucky'. As a horse lover, everything about horses, I absolutely love! Soiled bedding included. There's a certain smell to it and it doesn't smell like poo as we know it. There are no chores.

Then, along comes her birthday. The hope that she receives a horse continues. What she does receive is a saddle. I just knew it was going to be somehow. But, the trouble with saddles is that they have to fit you and, more importantly, the horse. Neither of which can be foreseen. A saddle as a gift is rarely given impromptu in the UK, unless it is for a known horse measured specifically for it.

What I liked about A Horse for Kate, is that Miralee Ferrell, touches upon the subject of disability, namely Autism. And does so with sensitivity. From what I know of Autism, Kate's brother, Pete, exhibits some of the known characteristics of the condition. I'm delighted that horses and disability have come together. So, refreshing and touching.

Kate, I'm not so sure of as a character. She doesn't behave spoilt but I'm not loving her much, either. Her, friend, Tori is weaker than Kate but is not afraid to try to combat her fear of horses. She has resolve, that much I can say. If anything, I probably liked her more simply because she displays emotions that could make a novel more exciting.

In summary, A Horse for Kate, makes for good reading for children. It's worthwhile if just for the realism it portrays in a couple of the characters. The ones I consider the most important.

Horse Tales for the Soul, Vol 1

Horse Tales for the Soul, Vol 1 - Bonnie Marlewski-Probert Horse Tales for the Soul is written in a similar vein to the Chicken Soup series. But, there is a marked difference between the two. I have never been tempted to read any of the Chicken Soup books simply because they just didn't call out to me. Horse Tales for the Soul, however, did just that. Of course, another stark difference is that the Chicken Soup books do not feature that many horses.

I believe that they are missing out on a huge market; horses are one of the most popular animals to own as a pet across the world. They are often not thought of as livestock and are considered to be part of the family. This book just proves how close people and their equines really are, without a doubt.

Bonnie Marlewski-Probert describes her series of books as 'stories that will touch your soul, warm your heart and make you smile.' This is exactly what happens when you read the first book in the series. The stories are written by well-known equestrians as well as other horse lovers from around the world. It was amazing to discover just how moving some of these tales were. It also proves that you don't need to be a professional writer to be able to convey what you feel deep within successfully.

No one can ever say that animals, whether they are fish, insect or mammals, do not feel physical pain, compassion, loyalty or mental distress. These remarkable stories of horses prove that they are intelligent; attuned to their surroundings and able to solve problems just as well as any human. I'm looking forward to reading Volume two in this delightful collection.