Self-Help Book Rec’s

If in doubt there’s probably a self-help book out there for it and so this post is dedicated to some of the self-help books I highly recommend. From writing craft to the finer details of marketing to even changing the way we think, let us dive in.

‘Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing’ By Catherine Ryan Howard

If there was one book that paved the way for this blog’s very existence, it would be this guide by Catherine Ryan Howard who has since gone on to have massive success with her writing – I’m talking six figure publishing deal kind of success, and my journey was inspired by Self-Printed which is a guide for both authors and bloggers. The writing style is fun and its a great insight into what it takes to self publish.

‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’ – Stephen King

Say what you like about probably the greatest American story-teller of a generation and seemingly it appears to be the fashion to not like him in some circles but Stephen King has put together a fantastic guide that is both craft and practical based. I’d say that anyone who is looking to get more from their writing should invest in this one, its not even that long for a King book, so win win.

Break Them All!!: A Modern Era Awakening! by DRTao

Keeping to the theme of shorter guides, ‘Break Them All’ refers to unlocking the potential of your own mind by overcoming things such as ego and ambition in a positive sense to be a better person. Easy to read and also intelligent, this different but great guide is well worth a look.

‘Lazy Creativity: The Art of Owning Your Creativity’ by Kyle Bernier

I discovered this guide via Reedsy Discovery and ‘Lazy Creativity’ kind of normalises the fact that its okay to be lazy in your creative endeavours. Its detailed and covers many different types of creativity from the view of an artist who is also therapist. It certainly opened my eyes.

‘Amazon Keywords for Books: How to Use Keywords for Better Discovery on Amazon’ by Dale L. Roberts

Another Reedsy Discovery find and it’s an incredible eye opening resource for those published via Amazon – most reading this are and this book focuses on the power of Amazon’s search bar/key word optimization. This is just the tip of a big iceberg that deep dives into how the world’s biggest book retailer functions. Highly recommended.

‘The Art & Business of Writing: A Practical Guide to the Writing Life’ by Chris Jones

Chris Jones lays out his tenured journey in the writing industry while generously passing on his wisdom in an easy-to-read guide full of resources that will either help or reassure the modern writer or both. Many other guides suffer from over informing or throwing way too much at once to the reader but here we get a fine balance between just the right amount of information and a tone that is friendly and consistent.

And so that wraps up my self-help book rec’s. Thank you for reading!

‘An English Teacher in Mexico: Memories of a Midlife Career Change’ by Irene Pylypec – Review

A fun and insightful well-written account of adventure and culture…

After turning 50, Irene Pylypec decides to embark on a adventure to Mexico from Canada. The writing style is immediately inviting and delivers a fantastic insight into what its like to take the plunge into the unknown of travelling to a far away place to pursue the ambition of teaching English.

Having read Pylypec’s previous memoir about her travels to London this account carries a different flavour that really homes in on the experience side of what its like to be in Mexico from the living arrangements to the food, places, people, traditions and even the pace that is so different. I particularly enjoyed learning about the different holidays and family orientated culture that Irene found herself apart of in what sounds like a wonderful place to visit with some great hosts.

For anyone looking to enjoy a memoir that serves as fun escapism whilst learning about Mexican culture, this book is certainly the one for you!

5 Stars – Reviews left via Amazon and Goodreads

Indie Book Rec’s : Non-Fiction/Memoirs

In celebration of #indieApril over on Twitter and because there are some wonderful indie books out there, I’ve put together a series of posts recommending some awesome works I have read over the years.

This post is dedicated to the genres of Non-Fiction and Memoirs so here are some books I highly recommend:

‘Break Them All!!: A Modern Era Awakening!’ by DRTao

A unique mind opening insight into breaking the shells that govern our existence…

Full Review

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‘Amazon Keywords for Books: How to Use Keywords for Better Discovery on Amazon’ by Dale L. Roberts 

Essential reading for marketing books effectively while gaining a better understanding of Amazon key words and beyond..

Full Review

‘The Art of Reading: How Reading Can Help You Become a Better, More Productive Writer’ by J.D. Cunegan

A relatable and open guide about reading to improve your writing…

Full Review

‘A Squatter in London’ by Irene Pylypec

An enjoyable well written memoir about a young lady who embarks on a travelling adventure…

Full Review

squatter in ldn

‘From Voiceless to Vocal’ by Danielle Larsen

Candid, brave and ultimately inspirational…

Full Review

‘Born in Stockport – Grew up in the Royal Navy: Book One’ by Maurice Perkins

An entertaining and gritty series of real life tales told with charm…

Full Review

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to use #indieApril over on Twitter to show your support for indie authors and their awesome works!

The Best Books I Have Read in 2021

As the year draws to a close I have saved the best until last. Although I appreciate every author and their wonderful works that got me through 2021 this post is dedicated to the books that stood out to me.

‘From Voiceless to Vocal’ by Danielle Larsen

Having read this memoir all the way back in February it has remained with me since for being a brave, candid and incredibly well written account by Danielle Larsen. Mental health and escaping abuse are the central themes while also being subjects that might not be talked about as much as they should – this book isn’t afraid to go there with the path it carves in order to get that point across. Its ultimately inspiring and gives hope even to those who seemingly have so much stacked against them.

Quote from my review:no matter how many chips are down you can always come back, there’s always hope and survival is probably the greatest gift we have.

‘Nocturnal Salvation’ by Villimey Mist 

Part 3 of the ‘Nocturnal’ vampire series is both the concluding pay off and a display of how far Villimey Mist has come as an author. Her craft unfolds throughout the series and much like the story peaks in this one. If you are looking for a modern and sometimes gory take on vampires, then this book and wider series is for you.

Quote from my review: ‘There are dramatic turns and even shocking moments that’ll keep those pages turning before a resolve that is both satisfying and even a little emotional.’

‘Josef The Writer’s Cat’ by Ellen Khodakivska

This story comes from a unique perspective and that being a writer’s cat. Its a brilliantly executed tale of one cat’s journey and how he see’s the world while also being a reminder of how important animals and pets are in the family. Ellen Khodakivska delivers a book that will appeal to many different ages and especially those who write.

Quote from my review: ‘We do sometimes take things for granted in life and this story reminds us that pets are such an instrumental part of it while they also have a life too.’

‘Life of Maggot’ by Paul Jameson

Paul Jameson delivers another masterful vision of literature through a unique style that favours deep description and classic style language. This book is very much laid out like lyrics from a song in what is a story about the end of time and told through the eyes of ‘Maggot’ as chaos unfolds. This is escapism in its finest possible form.

Quote from my review: ‘No matter what bad is happening there is always hope and ultimately there is some light to be found somewhere.’

‘Born in Stockport – Grew up in the Royal Navy: Book One’ by Maurice Perkins

Charming, funny and full of variety, Maurice Perkins or Moz as he is known tells a wonderful life story of childhood antics and then joining the navy. In between there are some great moments that bring a lot of enjoyment to an awesome candid memoir.

Quote from my review: ‘From a youth spent being a ‘scallywag’ getting into all kinds of trouble to finding success in the Royal Navy – his journey is both inspiring and full of lessons that are valuable for anyone…’

‘Wonder Rush’ by Dan McKeon

Dan McKeon delivers an awesome tale of one teen assassin that has always followed orders and fulfilled her mission no matter what name she is given and then events make her think about the morality of everything she stands for. What follows is a coming of age morality check journey that is both enjoyable and easy to read.

Quote from my review: ‘You can give a person all the assassin training in the world and try to engineer out all human elements but they are still human.’

‘Sleeping Beauty and The Cursed Code’ by Emma Jean

Emma Jean has combined two concepts that I have a lot of time and passion for, that being STEM and Fairy Tales. All Fairy Tales have a deeper important message and this one carries that while also encouraging younger readers to take an interest in STEM subjects. Sleeping Beauty is brought into the 21st century and this adaptation excellent.

Quote from my review: ‘With some fun moments along the way and plenty of awesome tech, magic, original concepts and a good old fashioned good versus evil story this one is guaranteed to bring enjoyment to younger and older readers.’

‘Everything, Except You’ by Emma Jordan

It can be hard to find a really good slow burning romance and while that’s just my taste in love stories Emma Jordan hits all the right notes in this one. With a little drama and plenty of feel-good vibes along with a little cosiness, I really enjoyed this tale.

Quote from my review: ‘A well-executed story about two people and their lives that are made better for finding each other and the way in which they discover a love for each other…’

‘We Watch You’ By N.S. Ford

With dark tones and missing person vibes, N.S. Ford tells a tale that takes readers down the rabbit hole of the unexpected as three friends try to decipher a mystery that consumes their lives. The journey is eventful and culminates after a multi-layered puzzle for a plot that pulled me in all the way to an unpredictable perhaps even haunting ending.

Quote from my review: ‘The darker moments carry impact and overall there is some real power in this story that continually goes to unexpected places and even strange places.’

‘Deceit of the Earth – Heavy Metal’ by Henry Cox

Having enjoyed the first ‘Deceit’ book by Henry Cox I was intrigued to see where he would go next and with this story I was immersed into the world of rare earth metals and how they dictate the future of our technology while also being a bargaining chip in military politics. This thoughtful story takes readers back in time and fuses fact to fiction flawlessly. If you like Crichton or Dan Brown then you’ll enjoy this one.

Quote from my review: ‘From military aircraft to world geography, the delivery of his knowledge and imagination merging makes everything believable and the final verdict may even be out of this world.’  

‘The Right Thing’ by Kelsey Kupitz

Kelsey Kupitz tells a page-turning easy-to-read story about a past trauma that finds itself returning for ‘Astrid’ who has struggled with it for most of her adult life. Now she must face that past and what follows are chilling mysterious tones with a little dose of the unexpected.

Quote from my review: ‘Atmosphere, originality and intrigue take the reader to the depths of the unexpected with some great twists at the end because ‘everyone has a secret’.’

Dust & Lightning by Rebecca Crunden

Futuristic world building combined with societal concepts that echo our own reality are two things that are right up my alley and so when I saw Rebecca Crunden had made this free to download I jumped at the opportunity. You may know Rebecca and the awesome support she shows authors via her Indie Book Spotlight account on Twitter and I really enjoyed this thrilling spy type story that takes readers across worlds.

Quote from my review: ‘There are plenty of messages and themes throughout with many pointing towards revolution and the nature of humanity.’

‘Born in Stockport – Grew up in the Royal Navy: Book One’ by Maurice Perkins – Review

An entertaining and gritty series of real life tales told with charm…

Maurice Perkins delivers a memoir that is full of charm, fun and tales of experience that covers the years of his childhood to being a young man in the royal navy. Each chapter is full of fun encounters relayed in a way that confides in the reader as if you were sitting opposite Mr Perkins while he shares them; from a youth spent being a ‘scallywag’ getting into all kinds of trouble to finding success in the Royal Navy – his journey is both inspiring and full of lessons that are valuable for anyone. The terminology is fun and many of the Navy cantered stories are insightful while also being entertaining.

Of course much of these recollections are of a time gone by like the many scraps he’s had which are highlighted with a dusting of humour and just the right amount grit. Not once did I feel like there was a dull moment and the many tales flow into one another well which keeps pages turning in what is a fun journey and only part one. I’ll definitely be reading the next part soon.

4 Stars – Fun, gritty and a journey full of charm.

Guest Post: My Personal Journey as a Writer by Danielle Larsen

Introducing Danielle Larsen who shares an insight into her journey as a writer.

I never really thought of myself as a writer. Even now, with a published book, it’s still something I struggle with. I think it’s because I’ve always had this image in my head of what a writer is “supposed to be.” I picture Charles Dickens or Jane Austen sitting by candlelight hunched over pages and pages of handwritten stories. I see Jo March from Little Women feverishly writing into the night until her hand cramps up. I never thought that simply writing about myself was enough to consider me a writer.

Looking back, writing has always been part of my life, but it probably wasn’t in the way that most of my peers came to it. I was the teenager with endless journals and diaries, pouring my heart and thoughts into pages but struggled with writing assignments in school. If there was an opportunity for an alternate assignment that didn’t involve writing a paper, that’s what I was going to do.

When I was in college, my school had a habit of “personal reflection essays.” At the end of each semester, you had to write a paper for almost every single class reflecting on your journey and time in that class. Writing these small essays got me into the habit of looking inward and really putting my thoughts into something coherent. I fully believe this is what eventually led to my current blog, The Mindful Fight, which has been up and running for about a year and a half now.

But writing a memoir, even though people had told me that I should, wasn’t really anything that I thought I’d ever be able to accomplish. While writing any kind of book is a never-ending process of revisions, edits, and late-night writing sessions, when it comes to memoir writing you have to look so deep within yourself that the process itself is extremely exhausting. I knew that writing about my own story, which involves domestic abuse, would be something that would take a lot of strength and courage.

Even as I started writing, though, I doubted myself. The stories and words were pouring out of me, but diving into things that I’d long since buried was extremely difficult. I was finding that if a story was in my head ready to be written that I had to get it down or I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I spent many nights writing until the crack of dawn because of this. The process of tapping into these memories was exhausting enough, and I was burning the candle at both ends.

It’s been 6 months since my book came out and, if I knew then what I know now, I would have taken my time. I would have paced myself instead of subjecting myself to a constant flow of difficult memories. I had friends telling me to, but I simply couldn’t stop writing. This sounds like a good thing, but in hindsight it actually made the process harder. I would write a difficult story and then jump right into the next one. Then I would go back a few days later to reread it and it was like a severe form of immersion therapy: being constantly throw into the deep end hoping that I would swim.

Writing a memoir, no matter the subject, is something extremely personal and unless you’ve done it, it’s hard to explain how difficult it really is. Many people see memoir writing as self-indulgent and I simply don’t think that’s fair. It’s a weird thing to say, “Hey, this book is about me,” and hope that people will read it, but we wouldn’t tell our stories if we didn’t think they were worth telling. My story isn’t unique at all, but many abuse survivors never find their voice. I was able to find the strength to tell my story and my hope is that it can help others in similar situations find theirs. That’s why I called my book From Voiceless To Vocal because I went from being silenced to speaking out in the ultimate way.

As I sit here, with my book on a shelf over my head, it’s still hard to think of myself as a writer. Most of my peers are fiction writers and a lot of the time I feel as though I’m on the outside looking in within the writing community. It’s hard to consider yourself a writer when those around you are promoting their multi-book series and you have a 140 page book about your own life. But at the end of the day, I am a writer. I’m a published author regardless of what exists between those pages and even if I never sell another copy, I’ll always have that.

My advice to anyone struggling with their identity as a writer is to not compare yourself to your peers. Trust me, I know how difficult that is, but we’re all struggling with the same things. Even if you never publish a book or you have 20 by the time you’re finished, simply writing things and committing yourself to the page, regardless of whether others see it or not, makes you a writer.

Maybe some will disagree with that, but that’s part of being a writer too. Not everyone is going to love everything you have to say… but say it anyway. If you have a story you want to tell, tell it. Write the stories that you want to write because you love them and don’t worry about what might happen down the line. It might live in your computer forever or maybe you’ll become a bestseller, but you’ll know that you put those words down and that alone should make you proud.

Danielle’s inspirational memoir ‘From Voiceless to Vocal’ is available now and you can find out more information here.

Click on the book below to see my recent review and be sure to check out her website The Mindful Fight here.

‘From Voiceless to Vocal’ by Danielle Larsen – Review

Candid, brave and ultimately inspirational…

While many of the subjects in this memoir aren’t easy to talk about, Danielle Larsen delivers her story flawlessly and highlights the moments and events of a journey that makes for a gripping read. In this day and age the subject of mental health needs to be talked about more and this book does that. Being wrongly diagnosed at a young age ultimately paves the way for Larsen’s struggles while the main bulk of the story focuses on her being in a relationship with an abusive controlling partner. For much of the time it’s frustrating to see the abuse that unfolds – why can’t she just leave? Unfortunately it’s a little more complex than that and part of the journey is understanding that it’s hard to leave sometimes and breaking those shackles is difficult when the circumstances of gaslighting and emotional abuse are present.

“Normal does not have to mean good or comfortable, but simply what one gets used to…”

This book acts as guide in some senses to spread awareness while also informing others. The narration style feels natural and relays every moment with dignity and there are some moments when you cannot help but feel for a person who has been through so much – a lot of it wasn’t even her fault and you just want her to succeed in the end. There are even some brighter moments later on which highlight finding inspiration from musical theatre and how we all need to find something for emotional release. For Danielle Larson to share a memoir like this it’s incredibly brave and ultimately inspirational because the message is no matter how many chips are down you can always come back, there’s always hope and survival is probably the greatest gift we have.

5 Stars – A gripping and touching well-written read that bravely shares so much. Reviews left via Amazon and Goodreads.

A Squatter in London by Irene Pylypec – Review

An enjoyable well written memoir about a young lady who embarks on a travelling adventure…

squatter in ldn

I found myself completely immersed in what is a diary style account of Irene Pylypec’s travels from Canada to the U.K in the 70’s. Although she spends some of her time travelling around the country her residence in London is the focus as she lives a free spirited life of squatting while experiencing everything there is to experience of the times.

In this account she befriends many colourful characters who are in the same situation; young and trying to figure out life in a multi cultural capital. The whole essence of her experiences, the sights, the sounds, the tastes and the people are captured perfectly in what is a fantastic story of highs and lows for a young person trying to survive and figure out life.

Having lived and worked in London during my youth I was reminded by this story of what it is like and the city even back then was a lively place full of people from near enough everywhere; this is also very well documented and includes Irene befriending the Irish contingent during a very testing time for their country. The story pretty much touches on everything that happened during the era such as politics, films, culture and especially the housing crisis which is why there were so many squatters.

What I enjoyed the most about this book was the intertwining of history to real life experiences all of which is delivered in a personal and thoroughly readable story. It’s a fun roller coaster of a journey about people, places and life experience that also serves as a great advert for travelling and meeting people.

 

5 Stars