Friday, August 31, 2012

Books of Note: August Reads

Here's three book reviews of good books I read this month. Only one of these is rated Five Stars, but the other two were very good as well and I wanted to share them with you since they are not necessarily very popular books but definitely hidden gems!

Montmorency, the man who leads a double life as both a criminal and a gentleman, is back for his most thrilling adventure yet in the final installment of the Montmorency trilogy.

As the nineteenth century draws to a close, war is in the air, and influenza is sweeping the globe. After twenty years as a gentleman, Montmorency is glad to be free of Scarper, his wretched alter-ego. However, when Montmorency's young friend Frank finds himself caught in the middle of a murderous political plot, Montmorency may have no choice but to call upon none other than Scarper for help.

Follow Montmorency, Fox-Selwyn, Dr. Farcett, and a whole new generation of characters on their travels from London to Scotland, Italy and America.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: Wow, as I said in my review of "Montmorency on the Rocks" these books just keep getting better and better and this one definitely did not disappoint. It kept me guessing right to the end, and it took a completely different turn from where I thought it was going to when I first started it. I loved the story line of this one too. Not that the others weren't good, but the intrigue and the plots involving the Italian activists was really interesting because I have never really studied any of that history before. I also liked how the author portrayed them as radicals but yet, the reader could also be sympathetic to their cause even though they tended to go about things in the wrong way.

Characters: As always I loved the regulars: Montmorency, Lord George and Dr. Farcett. I still found Vi annoying, but she's not so annoying I can't stand her either. I really loved the addition of Tom and Frank in here (Vi's son and George's nephew). Frank ended up being one of my favorite characters in this book, and I liked the way he matured through the story and I look forward to seeing more of him in the last book.

Writing Style: I really like the way the author creates stories that are not necessarily action-packed, or at least not what would be considered action-packed in today's society, but yet the story is so very engaging and makes you want to read more. I believe the key is making characters the reader loves so much that we cannot stop reading about these people. The style is also rather classic so that the stories read rather like a Holmes story which only makes them all the better.

Problems/What bothered me: Nothing bothered me, this was a great book, however the ending nearly killed me because I was not expecting that. I'm not going to spoil it though.

Conclusion: 5 stars on this one. It was just so good from start to finish. These are truly amazing books and I hate that it took me so long to get to finally read them!

Recommended Audience: Same as the others, older teens and most likely a good number of adults would enjoy these. And of course any fans of Sherlock Holmes. 

Charlie West has forgotten an entire year in which he was convicted of murder and working with terrorists. He's got to find the answers to deep questions: Who am I? What do I stand for? And how am I going to stay alive?


Thoughts on the Overall Book: First of all, this isn't my normal kind of read, at least not the kind of stuff I have been reading recently, I used to be into the spy thrillers and all that, but this is probably the first contemporary book I have picked up in a long time that hasn't been a time travel novel or some kind of paranormal book. It was just one of those random books one picks from the library to "give it a go" and I'm glad I did because it was a really good book!

Writing Style: The author's style is good, fast paced, engaging and in first person, which is the only way I think this book could have worked properly. The reader could not know anything outside of Charlie's head because otherwise the whole story line would be ruined and I really liked how we were just as much in the dark as Charlie about what was going on in the story. Really good choice for a book like this.

Characters: Charlie is a very good protagonist, and a good narrator. He has a sense of humor, though you don't get a lot of that because of the dark situations that fill most of the book. I loved to see his interaction with his friends in the flashback parts and though you don't get to see his friends a lot, you know what they are like through Charlie and that is another thing the author did really well. I also liked that, while Charlie is a good, just person, he is not overly 'goody-two-shoes'. He just comes across as a strong character who will do what he needs to do if he's forced to, but he's not either looking for trouble, or getting out of it because he is afraid of hurting someone. He's a very good protagonist for a YA novel because he is one who the reader will grow with.

Problems/What bothered me: There was nothing that really bothered me. This is a Christian based book (and no, I don't have a problem with that at all) so they're wasn't anything bad content wise. I also appreciated that nothing was shoved down the reader's throat as can sometimes happen with Christian fiction. There were a couple parts I felt the author might have been putting in his own thoughts and concepts, but they weren't necessarily out of content for Charlie either, so I let it slide. The main theme in this book pretty much is patriotism and staying true to yourself.

Conclusion: Four Stars. It was really good, and I look forward to the next one since it has a major cliff hanger and I am very intrigued to find out what happened to Charlie. One thing I really loved about this book is that the author revealed very little in the first volume so that the reader will want to read more to find out what happened and why Charlie cannot remember a whole year of his life. I also liked how this book kept surprising me. In fact, there were very few moments where I could see where it was going and I love that. I like cliché stories, but I love a book that can keep even me guessing! 

Recommended Audience: This is definitely a guy read and I think any guy from 14 and up would really enjoy it. Girls who like guy reads would enjoy it too, but I found it refreshing that I could actually class this with no contest a guy read seeing as they are very hard to find in YA.

A young man only at peace when he is at war
Young Halfdan is a slave. He is crafty with a bow and arrow and wise in the ways of the animals, but he can only dream of a warrior's life. That is, until the dark day a Saxon's blows lay his father on his deathbed, and his mother makes a tragic bargain for Halfdan's freedom.
A boy's destiny can come at the most terrible price. Halfdan must suffer a grave loss in order to grasp what he most desires: to train by, to live by, and, if the fates decree it, to die by the force of his sword and the swiftness of his arrow. He is to be a warrior -- a great warrior.
Bloody, furiously paced, heart-wrenching, and unflinching, this is a story of a land where the destinies of boys and men are forged in the heat of battle. Young Halfdan shall come to know the glories of true brotherhood and the unspeakable horrors of true evil. In this first book in a saga teeming with thrilling details of the Viking world, young Halfdan emerges as a new hero . . . a new myth . . . a new legend

Thoughts on the Overall Book: I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I love stories about Vikings, and I loved how this one was very accurate. Mr. Roberts did his research on this quite wonderfully. It was not one of the cliché Viking stories where they are portrayed pretty much as ancient pirates, and the extensive historical note in the back, clearly shows all the research that went into this novel to make it accurate, so my hat off to Judson Roberts!

Characters: I really loved the characters in this. Halfdan was a great main character/narrator. I liked how he was conflicted with his feelings about life in general and the Viking way. It is quite a step to go from thrall to chieftain's son in the course of an evening and his feelings were very real and understandable. I also loved Harald and Sigrid and I loved the brother/sister/brother relationship between the two of them and Halfdan. It was extra lovely because they didn't have to be nice to him at all and yet they took to him as if their social classes hadn't been different all their lives. I also think Toke made a wonderful villain. He's just an evil, hateful person, and surprisingly conniving. In short, a wonderful cast of characters.

Writing Style: The writing has that old feel to it that I love reading when it comes to historical novels, especially ones set during this time period. It wasn't quite up with Rosemary Sutcliff, but it was still good. Halfdan as the narrator in first person really works well for this story, so the reader will, I think, sympathize with him even more since it feels like we are enduring everything with him.

Problems/What bothered me: Nothing really bothered me in this story. It started a but slow with all the stories and stuff that everyone was telling, but it's not so slow that you won't want to read on, and when you do, the story picks up and becomes very hard to put down. Besides, this is the kind of book you really have to know the backstory on before you can fully appreciate the plot.

Conclusion: 4 stars. I really enjoyed this book, and am eager to read the rest of the series. It was a good brother story, a good revenge story and it had lots of raw emotions which I usually enjoy in a book because it's a mark of a very good author to be able to pull them off well.

Recommended Audience: Older teens I would say for some content reasons (there's several places where rape is mentioned because that was just what happened) And I think fans of Rosemary Sutcliff or any Historical Fiction lovers would really like these.

(And Don't forget to follow my book tour for On a Foreign Field by clicking on the banner in the sidebar!)

Friday, August 24, 2012

"On a Foreign Field" Virtual Book Tour

Well, dear readers, I am very excited to announce the schedule for my virtual book tour for "On a Foreign Field". Thanks so much to BK Walker from Virtual Book Tour Cafe for setting this up!

August 27 - Meet & Greet at VBT Cafe' Blog
August 29 - Review & Guest Blogging at A Book Lover's Library (Review
August 31 - Guest Blogging at Cindy Vine's Blog
September 4 - Interviewed at BK Walker Books Etc.
September 6 - Interviewed at Reviews & Interviews
September 10 - Author Fun Facts & Fav Recipe at Writing Innovations E-zine
September 12 - Guest Blogging at Cafe Creations
September 14 - Interviewed at Black Hippie Chick's Take On Books & The World
September 18 - Book Feature & Ebook Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
September 18 - Guest Blogging at Cindy Vine's Blog
September 20 - Guest Blogging at The Bunny's Review

September 22 - Book Feature & Excerpt at YA Reads
September 24 - Review & Guest Blogging at Turning The Pages
September 26 - Interviewed at MK McClintock's Blog
September 28 - Book Feature & Excerpt at Whoopeeyoo
October 2 - Interviewed at A Word Fitly Spoken

Remember, I'll be giving out an Amazon $25 dollar gift card to one randomly drawn person at the end of the tour. Also enter the giveaway for one of three signed and personalized copies of "On a Foreign Field" that you can find on the sidebar -->

I'll also have a short duration during the tour where you can download the ebook for free through Amazon Kindle and Smashwords so keep a look out for that as well!

And don't forget also, that during the tour all my books are discounted, so now's the time to get yourself a copy!

I hope to see you all during the tour, and I hope you will enjoy learning a bit more about my new book and myself as an author!

Slainte, Hazel

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Happy Wallace Day! and Giveaway Announcement

Hello dear readers, I'm terribly sorry I have not posted anything for a while, I've just been so blasted busy with everything! Between getting stuff ready for my book tour, writing interviews for ones I'm hosting for soon, researching for my upcoming books and writing and editing a short story that will be up for sale soon (more on that later) I have not had the time or the inspiration for writing any blog posts but I will change that again very soon!

So first of all, today is Wallace Day, where we celebrate the legacy of one of Scotland's greatest heroes. You can learn a lot more about Wallace here:

August 23rd was the day he was executed in London, so take some time today to honor his memory. Make a Scottish dish for dinner, wear some tartan, watch Braveheart. Or you can go buy a "Team Wallace" t-shirt from my Cafepress store here:

Also I have a giveaway to announce for a copy of my book "Freedom Come All Ye" The lucky winner is-- Melissa Anthony! Congratulations! *applause*

If you did not win the book, I hope you will consider buying a copy, you can do so here: or on Amazon, and remember it's reduced in price right now until the end of my book tour!

Also check out my other Wallace related novel "On a Foreign Field" Which you can find:



Or on Amazon and Amazon Kindle

And don't forget to follow my Virtual Book Tour for "On a Foreign Field" starting next week. I will have the schedule up as soon as I get it. There are still four spots to fill and if you are interested, please sign up on Virtual Book Tour Cafe

Hope everyone has been having a less busy week than I, haha ;) I'll be back soon with more blog posts and a couple author interviews during the next couple months, so check back for that!

Slainte, Hazel

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wallace Day Giveaway!


August 23rd is Wallace Day, where the Scots commemorate the legacy of Scotland's greatest Hero, William Wallace. I honor of Wallace, I'm hosting a giveaway for my YA novel about Wallace as a teenager, "Freedom Come All Ye". Enter by clicking the link on the button in the sidebar! I have one copy to give to the lucky winner and will sign and personalize it to that person. Best of luck! The giveaway will end on the 23rd.

Slainte, Hazel

Friday, August 3, 2012

Impalement Unabridged-- Formatting for Ebook

Some of you might remember my earlier post, "Hanging, Drawing and Quartering: You know, that thing writers do called Editing?" Well, editing is a walk in the part compared to formatting for an ebook. And when I say 'Impalement Unabridged', history buffs, you know what I mean. When I first started self publishing, I thought formatting for the regular hardcopy was bad, but when I set out to make an ebook for "On a Foreign Field" I realized how easy normal formatting was after all! Hopefully, today, I will be able to give all you other indie writers who might be hitting your heads against the wall a little help and insight into how to make your life easier when formatting for your ebook.

First of all, I am against electronic books, but I know a lot of people really love their e-readers, and I'm okay with that! It doesn't mean I'm going to stat using one, but I want to make sure I make all my readers happy, so I bit the bullet and decided to publish my newest novel as an ebook as well as a hardcopy. I didn't realize quite what I was getting myself into when I started, until I put it into the previewer for Amazon Kindle publishing and realized that it was complete junk. Odds Fish!!! So after trying everything I could think of, I finally got smart and went onto Goodreads to ask around and see if I could get any pointers. I really love all the other indie authors on Goodreads; they are always ready to help each other, and it's just nice to know that you will most likely be able to find someone who knows what they are talking about!

So I was directed to Smashwords, and let me tell you, that is a wonderful site. I would recommend anyone who is new to ebook formatting/publishing to get an account on Smashwords. It's free and you make a good cut of the money from it. They also have a wonderful step-by-step download booklet to help you format the ebook. Seriously, I couldn't have done it without that. In truth there are only a few things you really need to remember when getting your book ready for ebook formatting:

(1) Make sure you get rid of all headers/footers and page numbers. Otherwise, you will have weird spots and random numbers showing up through your ebook.

(2) Get rid of section breaks because they make blank spots in the ebook.

(3) Take everything out of the formatting and put it into standard letter size (8 1/2" X 11"), justify it to the left, and put it in 12 pt. type single or 1.5 spaced lines.

(4) This is the tricky part; fixing the indents. If you have had trouble formatting your ebook, you might have noticed the paragraph indents are whacko. This is because you need to get rid of all the tabs. The Smashwords guide explains this better, but what you have to do is set up the paragraph indents in formatting, and delete all the tabs. This can be done easily by using the "replace all" setting (Who does not love this feature???) and just replacing it with a blank. Again, the Smashwords document explains how to do all this.

(5) Lastly, make sure you never have any more than 4 returns between anything. For some reason this messes up the formatting. Even if your ebook runs together when you look at it, this is how it's going to be. I made the mistake of thinking that at ebook was a perfect replica of the hardcopy, just not on paper, but that's not true, because every e-readers sees the file differently and since the reader can format it to the way they want when reading, the font and size will change anyway.

These are just the basic rules, and I highly encourage you to join Smashwords and read their free formatting guide if you are having trouble. Though ebook formatting was totally painful at first, I also think it was a good experience for myself as a self published author to be able to do it for myself. And now I know what I'm doing so it will only be easier the next time around.

Now for some shameless plugging: My ebook version of "On a Foreign Field" is only $2.99 (Reg. $4.99) right now on both Smashwords and Amazon Kindle and is also only $12.00 (Reg. $15.95) in paperback from Createspace and Amazon, so get a copy now!!

Slainte, Hazel