Friday Face-Off – 15th June 2018

Friday Face-Off – 15th June 2018

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s theme is a cover featuring a rider or riders: ‘Live in the saddle. Die on the hog.’

This week’s book is The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary.

Cover A:

riders1

Cover B:

riders2

Cover C:

riders3

Cover D:

riders4

Cover E:

riders5

And the winner is… COVER A!

This cover had a childlike charm about it. It’s brightly coloured and there is a sense of energy and fun in it.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next weeks’ theme is a book cover featuring a murder scene: ‘Murder most foul, as in the best it is.’

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We Have Lost The Plot by Paul Mathews

We Have Lost The Plot by Paul Mathews

London, 2046. The movie industry is coming to town for the launch of the FAB movie awards. But when British president and former actor Zayn Winner loses a screenplay he’s written that parodies fellow world leaders, all Hollywood hell breaks loose. That’s the cue for long-suffering presidential spokesman Howie Pond to be handed a leading role in the hunt for the missing script.

To add to the movie mayhem, British intelligence identifies a possible plot to sabotage the FABs ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Howie’s secret-agent wife, Britt, is tasked with identifying the plotters and averting a real-life Hollywood disaster.

Along the way, Howie and Britt encounter actors, actresses, movie moguls and more, as they’re both sucked into a story that sees them – and the people around them – lose the plot on more than one occasion.

Will the screenplay be found before Britain is embarrassed on the international stage? Can the plotters be unmasked before the dramatic denouement? Find out, in this latest crazy, comedy adventure from British drama king Paul Mathews!

I purchased a copy of this book for my personal reading.

The self-titled Quite Funny Guy Paul Mathews is back with the fifth outing for hapless presidential spokesman Howie Pond and his long-suffering secret service agent wife Britt. Having already lost the president, the pelicans, the coffee and the chihuahuas Howie has the dubious pleasure of unearthing a missing movie plot. But this isn’t any old plot, but one written by ex-actor of questionable talent and current British President of even more questionable ability, Zayn Winner. A movie plot with so many stereotypes it has the power to upset world leaders everywhere.
39809491As if that isn’t enough of a headache, Britt finds herself trying to uncover an unknown plot from unknown aggressors towards the very first Film Awards of Britain. With little to no information to go on thanks to the ineptitude of her colleague Lorraine Grayson, Britt has a race against time to uncover the plot and foil it before it ever gets off the ground.

Mathews’ fifth outing manages to tick all the boxes that have made the previous four books so entertaining in my view. Twists, turns, hilarity and intrigue abound in We Have Lost the Plot with familiar co-stars returning to support Howie and Britt including President Zayne Winner, First Lady Electra and media man Conor O’Brean, along with a new lineup of colourful figures.

We Have Lost the Plot carries on in a familiar vein as the previous books in the series with a glut of 007 references and in-jokes, classic British self-deprecating humour and plenty of jokes at the expense of the movie business. Britt works with her usual dogged attitude to uncover a plot that could very well derail the very first Film Awards of Britain, while Howie works with his usual displeasure and desire to make it to his next meal to try and locate a potentially explosive film script penned by the less-than-diplomatic President Winner.

I have had the pleasure of reading all of the books in Paul Mathews’ “We Have Lost” series. This latest instalment does not disappoint. The characters are true to form, the story is littered with characteristic humour and is brilliantly written. Five books in and the series is as entertaining as it was from the outset!

My rating:
okaybook

Friday Face-Off – 8th June 2018

Friday Face-Off – 8th June 2018

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s theme is a cover featuring stormy skies: ‘Raining cats and dogs.’

This week’s book is Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

Cover A:

sky1

Cover B:

sky2

Cover C:

sky3

Cover D:

sky4

Cover E:

sky5

Cover F:

sky6

Cover G:

sky7

And the winner is… COVER F!

The art style really catches my eye here. The two lone figures stood upon the hill draw me in, I want to know what they are discussing. And the dark clouds and stark forks of lightening give a moody atmosphere to the whole landscape.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next weeks’ theme is a book cover featuring a rider or riders: ‘Live in the saddle. Die on the hog.’

Friday Face-Off – 1st June 2018

Friday Face-Off – 1st June 2018

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s theme is a cover featuring creeping vines: ‘Clinging and invasive.’

The book I found for this week’s theme is Blood Vines by Erica Spindler.

Cover A:

vines1

Cover B:

vines2

Cover C:

vines3

Cover D:

vines4

Cover E:

vines5

Cover F:

vines6

And the winner is… COVER B!

I love the intense pale white background on this cover. It is almost eerily peaceful. The closed eyes up at the top are ominous. The colour allows the vibrant blood red vine motif layered over the top to really pop.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next weeks’ theme is a book cover featuring a stormy sky: ‘Raining cats and dogs.’

Guest Post – Robert J Barlow

Guest Post – Robert J Barlow

Today’s guest post deals with a subject that has affected me: writers block, and more importantly how to break the block. It is my pleasure to welcome author of The Laughing Man, Robert J Barlow, to Books and Beyond Reviews.
Profile pic

Writers have a lot of different inclinations and areas of expertise and very few of us can claim to have mastered any aspect of the craft. There’s always things we can do more of, or do better, but one of the most significant obstacles we run into is writers block. Every writer gets asked for tips about it and I’m proud to say that this is the one area of what we do in which I can truly consider myself an expert. The one thing I have no shortage of is ways to break the block.

Step 1. Control Your Environment.

Find your best writing environment and rebuild it, it’s simple but not easy. Think back to the times you were really in the groove, what environmental factors did they have in common? Are you a desk person? A chair person? A bed person? Once you’ve established the facts you might even be able to make substitutes. If you write better at night because of no distractions you can go incommunicado for a few hours during the day, it might help.

Do you like music while you write? There are playlists out there for whatever mood you need. Do you need quiet? Noise cancelling headphones are expensive but available. Controlling environmental factors is the best way to build the mood.

Step 2 Remember your Platitudes

I know platitudes and quotes sound cheesy, but they do really help. Collect some things that smart people have said that you need to hear. Whether it’s Hemmingway’s ‘the first draft of anything is s**t’ or ‘fix it in editing’ or even Gaiman’s ‘you just keep writing the words until the story you want to tell is told, it’s that easy and that hard’. Having the right words available at the right time can get you past your insecurities hesitations and issues. Yeah it won’t absolutely fix the problems, that’s a slower process that requires real introspection, but it can get you through a bad moment.

Step 3 The Daily Grind

Writing isn’t something than can wait. There’s always going to be a good reason not to write, and other things you have to do and that is the easiest way to run out of time in the day and end up doing nothing. Whether you need to write first in the morning or before bed, schedule a time and stick to it without excuse or exception.

If nothing else, you have to write at least something every day, even if it’s an hour of staring at a screen writing about how you don’t want to be doing this you still have to do it. It’s the best way to get up the hill.

Step 4 Take a Break to do Something Else

Yes I know this sounds like it exactly contradicts what I just said, like everything else this has to be applied with intelligence. This isn’t an excuse to spend a week messing around ‘looking for inspiration’

I’m talking about taking ten minutes to get up and go for a walk, listen to music, have a coffee/cigarette/donut/whatever else. The trick is to keep it at the minimum break length to help, so you don’t waste time.

I would recommend a day as the maximum, go to the zoo, or see friends, or whatever, and then come home and get back to writing. Just don’t let it get in the way of the ‘one a day’ rule.

Risky Move 1 Switch Projects

It might be helpful to jump from one project to another for a while, while it might mess with your enthusiasm it might also give you a chance to get back into the habit of writing, which you can bring back into your main work.

It might also help to have a ‘reward story’ that you can write for fun, once you’ve made some progress on your long term project.

Risky Move 2 Skip Ahead

This is not advisable if there’s any other way to do this, start with all the other options, then use this if you need it but it can occasionally be useful to skip ahead to a cool part, to one of the things you really look forward to writing. Whether it’s the emotional confrontation, the twist, or the big fight scene writing a bit of what you enjoy most can help you get through the connecting parts.

Be warned, that can interfere with finishing the book long term, running out of cool parts to write can make the slog much harder, so again, only do it if you have to.

MOST IMPORTANTLY

Remember why you love it.

This is my best advice, sometimes we get so lost in the difficulties and minutia of writing that we forget why we do it. We do this because we love it, because for some of us it’s the est part of our bad days and it makes our good days better. Remember what you love about the world, about the haracters, about the story that you want to share with the world. Take a moment to be happy that this is something you can do, something you enjoy, and remember why you value it.

Bindings & Spines by R. M. Ridley

Bindings & Spines by R. M. Ridley

A fifteen year old boy sees it as his duty to rid Edinburgh of the scum that prey on the innocent people of the city. He finds that to punish the guilty he must first face fear,loss and betrayal.

He will soon discover things aren’t always as they seem, and there are other people who have uses for a young killer as well as bigger forces at play.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

Bindings & Spines brings together two genre of books that I am very much a fan of; those being fantasy and mystery. More accurately it follows the urban fantasy genre. R. M. Ridley’s work is the second full-length novel in his White Dragon Black series following private investigator and magical practitioner Jonathan Alvey.
33226908In this world, the use of magic often draws on the life energy of the practitioner. This slowly eats away at their being. As a promise to a close friend, we meet Alvey suffering the withdrawal effects of going cold turkey from magic. A routine case seems to fall his way: a simple tail to prove extramarital activities. Unfortunately for Jonathan, nothing turns out quite so simply.

Aside from dealing with a particularly unpleasant gnome-like infestation in his office, the case itself is anything but what it seems to be. What unfolds is a tale of deceit, jealousy and subterfuge; an attempt to defraud someone of their inheritance. On top of all of his other trials and his ever-changing withdrawal symptoms, the town of New Hades is also suffering from the failed attempts of an aspiring necromancer that Jonathan Alvey is tasked with resolving.

Ridley’s urban fantasy is a fantastic ride with a somewhat dark sense of humour. I loved the character of Jonathan Alvey. He is undeniably damaged and knows it, but will do his best to please those he cares about and to protect those who cannot defend themselves. The world woven throughout the book is grimy and dirty with an underlying threat. So well created it feels alive. And I cannot help but picture the character of Alvey as the version of John Constantine from DC Legends of Tomorrow (actor Matt Ryan) as I read the book. I hope to discover more Alvey stories in the future from Ridley.

My rating:
goodread

Friday Face-Off – 25th May 2018

Friday Face-Off – 25th May 2018

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s theme is a cover featuring footsteps: ‘Trip trap, trip trap, trip trap.’

This week I have chosen The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints by M.V. Carey.

Cover A:

footprint1

Cover B:

footprint2

Cover C:

footprint3

Cover D:

footprint4

Cover E:

footprint5

Cover F:

footprint6

And the winner is… COVER F!

This cover has an almost Enid Blytonesque vibe about it, with the vibrant colours and artwork style. I like the way the footsteps are depicted, not just flaming but as something altogether supernatural.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next weeks’ theme is a book cover featuring vines: “clinging and invasive.”