Category Archives: Book reviews

Alana Woods’ book reviews: SELF PUBLISH TO A WORLD OF READERS by Jason Matthews

When I was new to e-publishing Jason Matthews’ earlier guides were an invaluable help. So when I learned he had a new one out and that it contained mostly new information I was immediately interested and bought it.


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Self publish to a world of readers

It was the title that grabbed my attention—Self publish … with Amazon, Apple, Google and other major retailers—because to date I’ve remained exclusively with Amazon but always wondered what was entailed to go with the others.

Now I know.

A misconception I’ve held is that Smashwords is a retailer, like Amazon. It isn’t. It’s so much more. It’s a distributor as well, and distributes to all the major retailers. So by publishing with Smashwords you’re simultaneously publishing with Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo etc. This was a big learning curve for me. As was how to go about it.

In this guide Matthews leads us through all aspects of publishing. There’s a lot on promoting, blogging, and the benefits of figuring out what you want to do and starting it early.

There is also valuable information about, but not limited to, print publishing, cover design, editing including beta readers, and getting reviews.

And then there are the step-by-step instructions for formatting books in line with the requirements of the various retailers. As I’ve said, these are the sections that were of most interest to me.

I imagine this will quickly become one of the must-have guides for anyone serious about publishing, promoting and marketing their own books.

SELF PUBLISH TO A WORLD OF READERS on Amazon

Read my November 2013 interview with Jason Matthews

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Alana Woods’ book reviews: ASSASSINATION OF A DIGNITARY by Carolyn Arnold

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Assassination of a dignitary

Raymond Hunter, a retired Mafia assassin, has been living a quiet life for fifteen years with his adored wife Brenda, daughter and son, when the son of his old boss comes calling, wanting one last job done. Ray’s in no position to refuse when his family is threatened.

What ensues is gripping, gritty and compelling suspense. The police are on Ray’s trail almost from the start, the FBI becomes involved and a Mafia internal power play draws them all in.

I can’t remember the last time I read a story in which I found myself rooting for the assassin, but in this one I did.

The author’s knowledge of crime and weaponry adds to the atmospherics as does the writing style. I’ll say it again: gritty.

The reason I’ve given it a four star rating rather than a five is because Ray’s wife and daughter get a minimal point of view airing. I think the story would have benefitted from either staying exclusively with the main characters or giving the women in his life more page space.

There was just one more deficiency for me. Towards the end of the story Brenda’s past and a possible part in the crime is alluded to without being explained. It left me wondering. If there is to be a sequel, then I understand, because it may be explained at some point. If there isn’t a sequel, then it’s left me hanging.

Assassination of a dignitary on Amazon

Read my interview with Carolyn Arnold

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Alana Woods’ book reviews: NO MORE MULBERRIES by Mary Smith

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No More Mulberries

We dive into the life of Scottish born and raised Margaret as she lives with her Afghan second husband Iqbal, a doctor, and two young children in Afghanistan.

The story jumps back and forth between the present and the past in which she met and fell in love with her first husband. Margaret has changed her name to Miriam and gradually throughout the story we discover her history as well as those of her two husbands.

This is a beautifully told story that will remain in your thoughts after you’ve finished reading. There’s conflict both on the social landscape level as well as the personal. There’s doubt and mistrust because of the conflicting cultural issues, but there’s also love, kindness and inclusiveness shown to Miriam. She becomes immersed in the life of Iqbal’s village partly because she’s a midwife and sets up a clinic for the village women.

The story is rich in imagery. Horrible things happen in Afghanistan, as they do everywhere else of course, but the miseries caused by families compelled to ‘save face’ are difficult if not impossible to understand by anyone not raised in such a culture.

I found myself musing that the author must have firsthand knowledge of Afghanistan and life there. There’s just too much detail, in my opinion, for it not to be from personal experience. I was curious enough to check out her website and discovered she had spent ten years in Pakistan and Afghanistan as a health worker.

I spent two very pleasant afternoons reading this book and would have been happy to keep reading if it had been longer.

No more mulberries on Amazon US   |   Amazon UK

Read my interview with Mary Smith

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Alana Woods’ book reviews: BOOTIE & THE BEAST by Falguni Kothari

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Bootie & the beast

It’s many years since I felt the urge to pick up a Mills & Boon novel because there are a lot of books I’d choose over a formulaic romance, which is what these books have to be in my understanding.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself enjoying this one. I’d received a paperback copy as a gift so felt it would have been churlish not to read it. It’s good when you can get back to the giver with an honestly-felt ‘thank you’.

The storyline follows the standard scenario of misunderstandings keeping a couple apart and unable to reveal their true feelings for each other. I won’t add spoilers by saying any more about the plot, except to say that it’s about two expatriate Indians, one a globe-trotting super-star model.

There’s more than a hint of the exotic (for me at least, as I don’t know a great deal about Indian culture) which added interest in the form of different cultural mores and the thinking of the characters. I thought of Bollywood, even though I’ve never watched a Bollywood film!

The writing and language were imaginative and the story arc was satisfying, as was characterisation and descriptions. I was sufficiently immersed to easily conjure images. The dialogue was like eavesdropping on real conversations, which is the ultimate accolade, in my opinion, for dialogue.

All in all a terrific read.

BOOTIE AND THE BEAST on Amazon

Take this link to my interview with FALGUNI KOTHARI

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