Indie April Book Review Wrap Up

Indie April so happened to be my most successful month as an author, book reviewer and blogger. Although I love to just talk about me, the world is a better place when I share the spotlight so during April I also found time to support fellow indie authors by reading and reviewing their stuff. Here’s a rundown of my Indie April reads…

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First up came probably what is the most scared and on edge I have been whilst reading for well, ever and I am proud to say ‘Within the Dark Places’ by Duncan Thompson happened to be a great and terrifying read.

This shorter novel as quoted from my review ‘follows a small group who decide to spend their weekend in a woods with chilling results. From the very beginning there’s a stack of mystery and intrigue as to what exactly is lurking in the shadows which starts to play on the readers imagination more than anything; something which is text book horror and also very effective in a book like this.’ 

If you are looking for a good text book horror scare then I highly recommend this one and the great news is, there’s a sequel, but more on that further down…

‘Original page turning action with a powerful voice that speaks of prophecy, coming of age and warriors’ is how I described my next read Daughter of Kali: Awakening by Shiulie Ghosh.

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This young adult action tale is indeed a journey down the rabbit hole of an original premise that follows the ‘chosen one trope’ of one girl who discovers there is a huge world out there full of demons and warriors who fight them. I very much enjoyed this story and even more so for the linkage to the Hindu faith which intertwines ancient religion and mythology with the modern day; something I haven’t seen before. The good news is this story is a part of a wider trilogy with the sequel that has just dropped!

The author has also recently released some new cover art work which I am happy to share here and of course on my original review.

Indie April became the month of sequels for me as I decided to take on more chills and dark hidesedge of the seat thrills by delving into ‘Where the Darkness Hides’ by Duncan Thompson, a sequel to Within the Dark Places; and although the story did kind of end it cleverly opens up again in the very early stages of what is ‘A sequel and continuation into the shadows’; as quoted from my review

This one is more of a slower build and full of tension leading towards what we know is going to happen. It goes to places that are unexpected and isn’t just a re run of the first story; something which is important for sequels. Overall I enjoyed what is a great companion to a terrifying but highly readable pair of stories.

 

And so sequels became the theme of my April reads as I took on ‘Daughter of Kali: Unholy Alliance’ by Shiulie Ghosh. My decision to read and review the follow on story from Daughter of Kali: Awakening was quite simply a no brainer; firstly I was approached with a free copy by the author in exchange for a review and secondly I enjoyed the first, thirdly the story was still fresh in my mind, so I figured lets do this…

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With the world of Warriors and Demons already established that rabbit hole I previously mentioned opens wider into a great continuation. Much of what is suggested first time round comes to light, with new characters and new challenges for the main character with feisty but likable traits. ‘Kaz’ must continue her journey into this world and as she so powerfully says “I’m not a kid anymore. I’m a Warrior now…”

It’s just as good as the first and seeing as this is a trilogy series it didnt suffer from middle story syndrome in anyway. You can read my full review here

 

And so that wraps up my reading and reviewing efforts for April; a busy month for me as a writer, blogger and life in general. Thanks to everyone for the support and a tip of the cap to all of those who follow and actively go out of their way to make this blog a success!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cemetery House Release Date confirmed

Yep, you read that title right. CEMETERY HOUSE, the sequel to Open Evening has an official release date! There’s a teaster trailer currently making the rounds of the Facebooks so if you see it, remember to give an indie author a hand by liking, sharing and commenting…. 

Seeing as I haven’t blogged in quite a while here’s a rundown of all the recent news from the universe of Lee Hall, procrastination extraordinaire and sometimes word smith…

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Click on me to view the trailer, you know you want to…

September Anniversary Freebie Bonanza!

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Yeah!

A few weeks back I celebrated the 1 year anniversary of becoming a published author via the arrival of Open Evening. For a few days the E-book of both Open Evening and Darke Blood were available for free (I only intended the first book to be free, so a cock up on my behalf). But either way the reaction was massive, and already I have received new reviews from new readers. And I have to say the numbers of downloads were record breaking for me. A new personal best came on the 23rd of last month with over 600 e-books being downloaded. Of course if you were watching, Open Evening shot up the Occult charts on amazon all the way to Number 1! Awesome right?

Drafting finishes for the Teleporter!

My next book will be a novella/shorter story called the Teleporter, and it is predominantly a super hero comedy with elements that break the fourth wall and has some politically loaded messages. Last month I managed to finish the first draft and will hopefully be looking at a release in the fist half of 2018. You can like the Teleporter’s page right here. 

Editing begins on CHc house

Seeing as I have already decided upon a release date for Cemetery House you can probably guess editing is going spectacularly well. The story is shaping up and will be somewhat of a departure from the first one as much as a continuation. Of course I plan on developing characters and giving answers to the readers along with linking this all in with the Darke Blood universe in which a crossover will follow. If you liked the first one, you will love this one, trust me.

 

All I can really say now is thank you for the continued support, reviews, likes and shares. This whole indie author thing only works if awesome people like you who use their right and left turn indicators help me!! 

 

 

Author Self Interview: Lee Hall pt2

Hello and welcome to the second part of my author self interview series. Today we cover book reviews, the ten year anniversary of the Christ Benoit murder suicide tragedy and a whole host of indie author questions…

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How important do you think book reviews are for an indie author?

Reviews are a doubled edged sword when it comes to books. They are very unique to any other product available on amazon simply because most of the reviews critique or praise the writers efforts. Clothes, electronics or even medications are reviewed for whether they fit or even work. Books really are unique to review as a product.

So do you think people have read a review of Open Evening and then decided to buy it? 

I would like to think so, even though a very small percentage of the people who did buy my first book left a review. So even though I am thankful for the praise and kind words I don’t take reviews massively seriously.

What are you currently reading? and is it important that a writer must also find time to read? 

Dragon Teeth by Michael Critchton and god yes! If you ever want to get better at every element of story telling you must read and then read some more. Our minds are constantly growing and books feed that growth. With reading you take something in as opposed to writing which works the opposite way!

How are you marketing yourself as a writer currently? 

I like to stay relatively active on social media and do try not to just talk about my books. When possible and if I have some material I like to blog. If I have watched a new film or TV show I may review it or maybe even whatever political situation is going on in the world right now. The first rule of selling books is not talking about selling books…

Being an indie writer means that I probably doesn’t pay the bills. So what do you do for a living? 

I work at the very forefront of cutting edge experimental science. My job involves working in the control room of a particle accelerator in Oxfordshire for the STFC. It’s a pretty cool place and there’s always something interesting happening or another challenge arising from science. I started out as an electrician and then moved into engineering which now nods towards physics, pretty cool right?

Feature Question: Lastly this week has seen the 10 year anniversary of the suicide murder case involving WWE wrestler Chris Benoit, what are your thoughts?

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Benoit (right) with his signature flying headbutt

Well where do I start? Back then I was a huge huge WWE fan! I was still a stupid 17 year old kid but even back then wrestling was everything to me. Chris Benoit was and still is to me the pinnacle of what a successful wrestler should be. He worked his way up for years and only really got rewarded later on in his career. I related to the guy because like me he was only 5’8 but he was tougher than anyone in that ring. Seeing him win in the main event of wrestlemania 20 was pretty special then some years later all of that went away.

Back then I used to record the WWE shows on a small vhs combo TV I used to plonk down next to our actual TV. So I had already watched and recorded the Sunday event where Benoit was scheduled to show up and face CM Punk in a championship match. Of course this never happened and obviously the events that unfolded at Benoit’s residence were tragic and horrific. He took his wife and son’s life before committing suicide himself.

The news broke initially with WWE officials not really sure what to do as the truth was still unfolding. So I put in the tape of Monday night Raw to see an empty arena and even stranger a tearful Vince McMahon. The context is previously McMahon died on screen in a story line which due to the events just got dropped. He spoke about what had happened with Chris but not to any detail. At that moment my heart sunk and everything felt distant for some time,  I was even numb perhaps. I knew back then wrestler deaths were common but a top guy like Benoit was a deep wound to the industry.

The three hour show that night displayed Chris Benoit’s best moments and it even contained some interviews of current WWE talent. Some of which were cagey and may could have actually known the circumstances, I remember both John Cena and William Regal holding their cards close to their chests. Little did anyone know this would be the last mention of Chris Benoit on WWE TV ever! They literally deleted him from the history of their company but for good reason.

It’s scary how quick time can go and I cant believe it has been ten years since the Chris Benoit tragedy. WWE changed that day. The investigation revealed Benoit used a lot of steroids, had some bad brain damage and had domestic issues with his wife Nancy. I guess we will never really know what happened over that weekend but my guess is the combination of lots of things caused this.

Soon after in WWE a new drug wellness policy got phased in. The next year they went PG and never looked back, they look after their talent a little more now but that doesn’t ever change what happened 10 years ago.

 

 

Author self interview: Lee Hall

Today see’s the beginning of a new series of posts called ‘Ask the author’. I will be interviewing myself about all things books, writing and being an indie author…

 

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Lee Hall 

How long have you been writing for? 

Since around the age of twelve I started putting together stories on an old window’s 98 computer. Seeing as I’m in my mid to late twenties that’s quite a while…

So it sounds like you’ve known for some time this is what you have always wanted to do. How successful have you been as an indie author? 

Well success as an author or success at anything in life is in the eye of the beholder. In terms of statistics I have sold around 100 copies of my books combined. In terms of money, I haven’t made anything near what people perceive. But then again I am not in this for the money. To have a few people take a selfie of my book and leave a few reviews is enough for me to grant a project successful.

What are you in writing for? 

To immerse people into worlds as I have been as a reader. There is no greater theater than the human mind. Books really do rule and they help the human imagination grow.

You currently have two books published, could you describe the both of them in three words? 

Open Evening – Teenage Terror Chase

Darke Blood – Vampires Witches Identity

What are you currently working on? 

I have been drafting two projects so far this year. The first was just a bit of fun and can be best described as a vanity project, whenever I am in between books I delve into it but I’m not telling you what it is just yet.

The second project I am currently drafting is the sequel to Open Evening! I am 80% through draft one of Cemetery House with a view to publish in 2018! For those who follow me via email I will be looking to send out sample stuff to followers!

Both Open Evening and Darke Blood can both be considered as horror or at least thriller in genre. Is there any other genre’s you would consider writing in the future? 

Hell yeah! I am currently putting together initial plans (in my mind) for a comic book style super hero comedy. This would be a novella or at least a shorter novel, so watch this space!

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Darke Blood and Open Evening by Lee Hall 

 

What advice would you give an aspiring author in terms of marketing a book? 

Start talking about your book now! Tweet, Facebook status and blog the hell out of it. Of course don’t shove it down people’s throats, be cool and subtle. The greatest way to sell a book is via networking and word of mouth. Get people talking online and sharing stuff, a good support network of friends will help to kick things off. You can read more on marketing in my resources section here

 

And that’s the first part of my self interview, thank you for reading and of course if you have a burning question get in contact and I will feature it along with an answer next time!  

What’s next for Lee Hall…

I agree the title of this month’s final blog entry is a little self centered but you have to be that in order to write a blog. It’s all about the me apparently and so my second book release has been and gone, sales are still trickling in bringing it to around 20 units sold so far.

My conclusion right now is yes Darke Blood has been a success for an independent author like me but right now I have done all I can to market the book. Much like Open Evening or any book; real success takes investment of time and along the way I have learned a hell of a lot. And now I even have a back catalogue, groovy right?

So what is next for me? Well as an independent author I mostly have control over what I plan to release and what I want to work on next. The turn around time from finishing a draft to publication is around a year or maybe less depending on the quality of the story and availability of editor/publisher/cover artists.

 “Good ol’ ‘CH'”

Yes for those who are aware of the ending of my first book Open Evening (I wont spoil it, that much), it ended with a nod towards where the story was going to go next. The word Cemetery House in all it’s damning glory was mentioned in the final pages and yes that is what I am currently drafting at the moment! I guess that’s an exclusive scoop, of course I will announce that officially when I am ready. But let’s just say I am around 30,000 words in.

Darke Blood 2?

All I can say is read the first one, then we’ll talk about a sequel! Review it and let people know about it. And yes Darke Blood and Open Evening are connected in a way or two.

A super hero comedy book!

Back in 2015 when I decided to drop the series of books about robots in the future I came to a proverbial fork in the road, I was either going to write Open Evening or try having a go at a comic book style hero story. At the time I had more story to go on with Open Evening and so I wrote it, over the last few years I have gathered some ideas of how to make this potential super hero book work, so watch this space.

Acting? No I was just asleep..

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I have been taking a break as of lately in terms of all things stage, and by that I mean all things Iver Heath Drama Club. My efforts were needed towards Darke Blood and IHDC’s current production nodded heavily towards giving their youthful demographic a chance with some big roles for their up and coming show Peter Pan! So naturally I thought it was appropriate to step back for a while and maybe recharge a little.

Right now I have every intention to return to the stage for auditions in the late summer for the next IHDC pantomine show; I hope I still have something relevant to offer in my forever hopefulness of getting a larger role this year, we shall see.

Iver Heath Drama Club presents Peter Pan tickets available now online! Support local live entertainment! 

 

And remember every writer needs reviews for their work, if you have read either of my books, be cool and leave a review!

And here are a few highlights of social media from the week… Click on them and they take you places!

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Publication Day! Darke Blood out now!

The day is finally here! My second book Darke Blood is officially out now! The selfies already started earlier this week after I kicked off proceedings on Instagram where I can happily say we have already broke records with the amount of likes it recieved.

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That many likes for something without a cat, food or cleavage…

And that is all I want out of this book, growth and evolution. A few more sales and few more likes than last time will make me a happy independently published author.   Above all more reviews on Amazon and hopefully Goodreads will grant this project a success, so please if you read my work leave a review!

I must take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support towards Darke Blood, this was indeed the hardest story I have ever struggled to tell and seeing the whole thing come together with your support has been fantastic. Being a two time author makes this all seem like I am more than just a lucky one off guy who published one book, plus it gives readers a back catalogue to delve into if they like my work.

If you like Darke Blood and survive the ride,  the twists and the turns then I guarantee you will be a reader of my stuff for years to come. This one really tests the boundaries for the reader as well as tell an atmospheric psychological story of redemption and identity. And yeah there are vampires, witches and some connections to Open Evening!

This hasn’t been a sole effort and I must thank my editor and publisher Nicky from Satin Publishing for helping me so much develop this story into what was an initial draft all the way to polished published book. Darke Blood went through many minor and major changes throughout the drafting and editing process. My next thank you goes to Design for Writers , they simply gave this book an identity by creating a fantastic looking cover. I was really stumped as to what I wanted this one to look like so Design for Writers saved me in that sense and the outcome is a world class looking cover.

All there is left for to say is thank you everyone, I have achieved my dream once again and now it’s over to you to help me find some success with it. Let’s start a new selfie movement with Darke Blood and remember your shares, likes and comments are what generates buzz about this, and will ultimately decide its success!

Happy publication Day!

And heres the direct link to the book…

My second book cover… Revealed

OKAY EVERYONE HERE IT IS….

THE COVER OF DARKE BLOOD IN ALL IT’S GLORY…

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ARE YOU READY??

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Andrew and Rebecca from Design for Writers have put in some fantastic work with this cover and I think we can all agree it looks awesome! 

The final steps are approaching for the publication of my second book but there is still so much to do. As we get closer to publication day on the 25th I will be organizing a Facebook event to gather everyone for an online launch. Your likes, shares and comments are what will make this book a success and I have to thank you all for the continued following and support.

Any big news from now on will first break via my email list, so sign up today via email (box up in the top right corner) and you will be the first to get stuff (this includes free books/material). 

Rock and roll man…

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A guide to getting published: Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of A guide to getting published….

 

So to recap from part 1; by now you should have answered the initial questions of wanting to be a writer, are you the right ‘person’ and very importantly are you dedicated to endure this journey?

These wont be questions you can answer over night and of course what comes next will also take some time. Social media has many platforms in which a writer can delve into and explore. I started with Facebook and twitter, then I created a blog some few years later. At this point I have only been on Instagram for a fraction of that time.

But during all of this you can and should be writing. It will be lonely and quiet and you wont have news to share every day. 95% of my writing life is spent with just me and words.

Eventually after a lot of dedication and time you can do it, because I did, you will face those two synonymous words; ‘THE END’

Everything up to the point of having ready material to show the world is protected by a curtain I call theory. ‘I’m going to be a published author, uh in theory’ is what you have probably said to yourself at this point but now you have some work to show for it and hence the plot thickens…

This time for me (August 2015) I was ready to make a huge decision. Before this date I was a book writing machine. In three years I had churned out not only my first book with several edits and drafts, but the two sequels all of which were related to that initial first idea I had back when I was 12 on that rainy day with the windows 98 PC. This is where I really learned my craft and developed a style which coincided with my process. I learned to become a writer. 

Book 1 had been through several rounds of submissions to various ‘big time’ and ‘smaller time’ standard publishers and literary agents. All of this received no success. Three years of starting a blog, launching Facebook/twitter and building a following was being blocked by the people whom I wanted to like my work the most, the literary industry. Now they weren’t personally blocking my success they probably didn’t even have much idea I was writing them as like many writers their work ends up on the ‘slush pile’.

Hence comes the fork in the road for you…

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Yes, I went there…

Your masterpiece is written and now you are asking google how to get published. You find yourself here maybe and read a few other people’s well earned experience. Right now the world perceives there to be two main ways to find your book into print.

‘Traditional’ – This involves sending your manuscript out to masses of literary agents and waiting. Then wait some more and receive a rejection letter maybe up to or over a year later. Or if you are really really really really lucky. And I’m talking 1 in a JK Rowling billion you’ll be offered representation by an agent who will then pitch your book to a big time publisher.

To begin with this is the route I envisioned to take. But I never got to the representation offer. There are many reasons why rejections happen, firstly agents and publishers really want the very best and are swamped with submissions every day so you have more chance of being accidentally discovered from a slush pile. Not suggesting your book isn’t the best, but it is a humbling reality check trust me.

A lot of places are picky and take first impressions as an opportunity to reject E.g. If you don’t present to them with a  ‘standard’ covering letter or they want more than just a sample such as a synopsis. To be honest why would I write a story about my story, which is essentially what a synopsis is.

They are just doing their job and finding the very best is just that.

This isn’t the route I have taken but good luck if you do try this route to begin with. I recommend you do just for perspective.

 Self Publishing/Independent Publishing – So back to August 2015 and after sending out over 100 submissions I had finally accepted that it was time to try something new. Albert Einstein did define insanity by doing the same thing over and expecting different results.

The stories which I desperately tried to get published were sealed away via USB mass storage and a new journey began. This was no easy decision mind but if I really wanted this it was a liberating and difficult decision I had to make. I needed to do this if I wanted to arrive in publishing and so I turned a corner

My focus was for a new stand-alone story based upon some notes I wrote after a vivid dream I had when I was 14. The choice to do this meant if this project wasn’t a real success then I have no real loss other than my pride and I’ve experienced publishing!

Quickly Open Evening was born and I was going to get this one published by an independent publisher I had my eye on for a little while.

To define an indie publisher can be a little subjective as its classed as self publishing. I wanted to find someone who would edit, format and upload my stuff to amazon via their operation so it’s hardly a ‘self’ activity. But I would be paying for the services provided.

Finding a publisher

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Check out my review of Satin Publishing here!

I had come across Satin Publishing whilst networking and generally being an author with an online presence. Never underestimate the power of networking or even exchanging ‘likes’ over Facebook. Always be nice, courteous and of course helpful because you never know when you might need someone who offers a service. Having looked at the work Satin produced, to me they seemed like the perfect choice to give Open Evening a home. Soon enough I made contact with Satin’s own Nicky Fitzmaurice and she was happily to publish my book!

After that journey of trying to get my last book published ‘traditionally’ I quickly asked myself why didn’t I try this sooner?

The package with Satin Publishing included editing, formatting and uploading to amazon and kindle. So this was actually happening!

There are numerous independent publishers out there looking for first time authors and to me Satin Publishing was a perfect place for me to begin this journey. They had a decent number of followers on social media and looked all around professional. The work they had previously published was a good mix of genre which convinced me to contact them.

As much as I knew they were going to be great to work with this is a leap of faith (of sorts) and that’s something all authors have to take if they want publication.

I could have just asked Nicky to edit and format the book but the deal also included uploading and sorting out all the nuts and bolts that comes with getting the whole thing up on amazon.

I had researched prior and knew exactly what I wanted; Open Evening to be published and available on amazon via print on demand paperback and e-book!

Let’s just break that down – My book is available to anyone who can order it via amazon in two different formats

  1. Paperback – via a print on demand service. This means when one is ordered one is printed and dispatched so there is no need for me to store them. If I wanted to send a copy overseas I can via amazon and it saves me mailing it as they print and package it locally.
  2. E-book – An electronic version readable on most e book readers such as Kindle.

Agreements were made and a quote was sent out. We quickly arranged a publication date and then I got busy social media-ing. What I needed next was a cover for Open Evening and an artist to make one….

Next time on A guide to getting published…..

The Publication Process

That concludes part 2 of A guide to getting published! Stay tuned for part 3 of A guide to getting published. I will explain how it all formed into what you can see below…. I will also speak of how much you need to spend, and I will even give you a basic step by step guide.

 

 

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My book is officially launched!

My social media world has been running wild this past week and hopefully by now all eyes are on my debut novel OPEN EVENING!

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You can grab yourself a copy here, either in freshly printed paper back or via e-book!!

‘Embrace the unexpected’ as the story unfolds around a high school where one kid believes he doesn’t fit in, soon enough his instinct becomes truth and a fight for survival begins! OPEN EVENING is currently the only paperback in the top 20 ‘occult’ chart!

The support and response I have seen so far has been absolutely amazing and I would like to thank all those who have got themselves a copy. Don’t forget to leave a review and let me know what you think. It’s been an amazing journey to finally reach publication and below are some of the highlights from this past week!

If you grab yourself a copy don’t forget to take an #openevening #selfie and tell the world about my debut book!

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My Big Book Giveaway Competition

The world is just days away from the official launch of my first book OPEN EVENING! 

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It’s time you embraced the unexpected and joined me on this incredible journey to publication in just under a weeks time!

So in my attempts to get as many eyes on the product as possible I am running a book give away competition.

I, Lee Hall have two freshly printed paperback copies to give away. They will be signed and addressed to the two lucky winners who will be notified on the 28th of September 2016 (the day before the book is officially released).

How to enter

All you have to do is the following….

  1. Like my Facebook page
  2. Click attending on my official ‘Open Evening launch event’ on Facebook 
  3. Share the Open Evening launch event

Optionally and I will take this into account, you could even use the hashtag #openevening whilst sharing the event. Also feel free to share the event on other social media sites. The more you do the more chance I will choose you (don’t work too hard though)!

Good luck and I very much look forward to signing the books!