Book Review: For Writing Out Loud

For Writing Out LoudFor Writing Out Loud by J.D. Estrada

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a glowing beacon of positivity! If you watch motivational speakers, this is a great supplement, and if you’re on a positivity journey, this will help you along. It’s full of excellent advice on how to: enjoy the moment, avoid judging yourself (and others!) harshly, appreciate even the most difficult times, keep a smile on your face instead of beating yourself up, and a ton more.

The book has sections that cover a specific topic, and within each section are much smaller sections (replacement for chapters) about more detailed topics within the overall topic. It’s easy to navigate so that you can look up whatever you need a boost in and read away. The small sections are about 2-3 pages on average, and the author has a very casual, relaxed way of writing, almost as if he’s having a chat with you.

If you struggle with negative self image, insecurities, seeing negativity instead of positivity, struggling through “bad days”, this book is a good one for you. Let the author talk you into a happier disposition. He’s good at it!
I’ve been reading this before I go to bed and waking up ready to attack my day. I would even classify this as a daily reader for positivity and motivation, although I usually read a few small sections at a time. I highly recommend grabbing this book and keeping it by your side as your positivity companion. It won’t let you down!

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Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About KevinWe Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book blew me away for several reasons.
1. The writing style. When I first started reading, I found it pretentious and overdone, but actually it was deep within the character’s voice. The whole book is narrated in letter format by Eva, the MC, and this is her voice. Find it aloof? That’s because it is intentionally that way. Even her own husband, Franklin, asks her to restate something in plainer terms, which proves the point that the narration is the character’s true voice. I got used to the language quickly and felt engrossed in the character herself. The style of writing deepens the reader’s connection with Eva, even if you don’t find her sympathetic or likable.

2. Taboo issues. Several times the author hits on issues in relationships and especially in motherhood that people just don’t talk about. Feeling limited by pregnancy, feeling jealous of the attention the baby gets from the husband, feeling neutral or negative about the child overall. These are all things we don’t talk about, that don’t seem…acceptable. In an interview at the end of the audiobook version, Lionel Shriver speaks specifically about this. I highly recommend the audiobook version if for no other reason than to hear the fascinating interview. (The audiobook is fantastic anyway.)

3. Feeling Eva’s feelings. The way the book is written really gets the reader involved in Eva’s life, her innermost thoughts and feelings, and that serves to help us genuinely feel what she’s feeling. I felt so frustrated with Franklin sometimes that it felt like I was frustrated with someone real. I found myself fighting with Franklin on Eva’s behalf. I kept listing reasons why he should pay attention to what she was saying. But the brilliant part is, if you look at it from Franklin’s perspective, you get it (to a degree) as well. The problems in the relationship and the character flaws allow us to feel the layers within their interactions and just how complicated they are.

4. Suspense. Shriver has a way of building suspense that I haven’t experienced often. It’s a little unconventional, to the point that even when I knew what was coming, I felt nervous during the buildup. This is one of those rare books where it’s helpful to know some of what’s coming so you can appreciate all the little hints while you read – and there are a lot of them. There is much to be appreciated in this book, and the seemingly small details are really not so small at all. In fact, most things have major significance, even when it seems like Eva is getting off track, so pay close attention.

5. The ending. I’m not going to spoil anything, but let’s just say it really affected me. It took me off guard, shocked me, and I had to actually get over it. Normally I go back and read the beginning of a book after I finish it, just so I can try to pick up on little things that might have been blindly significant until you reread. I couldn’t start from the beginning again right away. I needed time to recover.

There is so much more to say about this book, I can’t fit it all into a review. It’s 100% worth the time and then some. I highly recommend it to readers and also to writers as a good writing lesson. I learned a lot from it and have ordered the paperback version so I can study it more closely.

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Review: A Light in the Darkness

A Light n the Darkness (The Haszard Narratives)A Light in the Darkness by Kevin E. Hatt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I truly enjoyed this book for all of its many facets – crime, drama, friendship, a touch of romance, intrigue, sparks of humor – all wrapped in quintessential British flavor. Author Kevin Hatt wound the life of Haszard, the main character, around the murder of his friend, his pub-dwelling buddies and his career so well, I felt like I was there with them. The romantic relationship between Haszard and his girlfriend is refreshing and different than many modern relationships and even more so than book and movie relationships. The actions scenes are believable and kept me hooked all the way through. As an American reader, I loved the British colloquialisms and lifestyle.

Things go from bad to worse when a second friend is found murdered; when an unknown assailant chases him and his friend down a deserted road while firing a gun at them; when blackmail enters the picture and threats are issued, and so much more. In the meantime, Haszard has to maintain his jobs, deal with a crazy ex-girlfriend, and try to establish a new relationship while he takes it upon himself to find whoever is responsible for his friends’ deaths.

He vows never to get involved in anything like this again, but we know he can’t stick to that promise because there are more books in the series, and I, for one, am glad. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.

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YouTube Review of Anatomy of a Darkened Heart!

Yesterday, Peter Clark the Writer left a magnificent YouTube review of Anatomy of a Darkened Heart. I’m so excited to share it with you! He even reads some of his favorite passages and lines, and see that in the background? That’s the wallpaper wrapping paper I used to send him his signed paperback. It’s pinned to his board! Coolest guy ever? I think so.

If you’ve read Anatomy of a Darkened Heart or if you’re interested in reading it, please pass on his video! Peter really covers the book and its many facets well. Thanks for watching!

Anatomy of a Darkened Heart Review by Darker Voice!

Yesterday I was blown away by Travis West’s (Darker Voice’s) wonderful words about Anatomy of a Darkened Heart. Travis isn’t a guy who likes any ol’ book or movie, so I was on tenterhooks as I read every word he wrote. Here’s a sample of his review: “The language is melancholy and beautiful, concise but with a Victorian flair that keeps you reading page after page, word after word.”

See Travis’ full opinion here, and if you want to learn more about the man himself, visit him here.

 

Anatomy of a Darkened Heart’s First Video Review!

I got my very first video review from fantastic horror author Rocky Rochford! My favorite suite of his works is the Don’t Turn Around trilogy, which can be found on Amazon as Wait and Bleed. Rocky also writes poetry, romance, and…well, just about everything! He’s quite a dark horse.

Special thanks to Rocky, of course, who read Anatomy of a Darkened Heart twice before giving it 5 stars and publishing his video review!

The Scary Reviews Talks About AoDH

Yesterday I was thrilled to find horror and dark fiction review website The Scary Reviews had posted a review of Anatomy of a Darkened Heart. I have to say, when I found out the wonderful David Spell was reading my book, I was nervous. AoDH is certainly dark, but it isn’t horror. Some people say AoDH creeps them out while others enjoy its darkness with no creep factor. David is a seasoned horror reviewer, so you can imagine my split feelings between excitement at his reading my book and apprehension. What if it simply didn’t hit the mark of being dark enough to satisfy a reader with so many dark fiction books under his belt?

See for yourself why I’m excited about his review.

I’m so fortunate to be featured on David’s new section of his website “Women in Horror”, a project that’s very exciting for us females who want to be recognized for our darkness. Make sure to check out the other ladies who have been and will be featured on David’s site. David’s interview with me will be posted December 15, so stay tuned for that as well! (Update: find the interview here!)