Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Dusty Pages Review: The Doll Factory

London. 1850. The Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park, and among the crowd watching the spectacle, two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment - forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning. 
When Iris is asked to model for pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly her world begins to expand, to become a place of art and love.
But Silas has thought of only one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening.... 


I'd seen a lot of people talking about this book and I got it on a summer read offer from iTunes. The reviews have been mixed in my opinion and my review is a little mixed itself.

I loved the idea, of a young Victorian lady being stalked in the style of a modern thriller, though this element came and went along side a love story. Imagine the era, where if someone were to vanish it would be a lot harder to track them down. There was no social media. No find my phone apps. The police not as it is today, no forensics or databases. It made the stalking of Silas all the more sinister.

You do sort of feel sorry for him at first, that he's not as intelligent as he makes out to be, of poor education and background, who makes up fantasies of conversations he's had with people and convinces himself that they were utterly real. That is until his past starts to unravel in his mind and the significance of the mice are apparent.

I like Iris as a character, her passion, her want to defy the social constraints placed on her by her family, bucking it all first to be an artists model and then an artist herself. Louis was an interesting man, with his painting, his french poetry and his pet Wombat. One of my favourite characters was the urchin Alby, who all he wanted in the world was to be able to save enough to buy himself some real teeth and I cried for him.

However, there are certain elements in the book that make my opinion of it flip. There are several long letters from the characters to each other, or from people we don't meet to the characters which fill in the gaps of what is going on around the characters that they cannot be aware of in any other fashion because they are not all seeing. These letter although often tying one section of prose to the other, were rather stilted and jotted in here and there will not pattern to it.

Also the ending fell flat to me. There is some attempt to display character resolution in yet another letter describing a painting, no doubt finished after the ordeal that is the main focus of the last part of the book, but it answers little of the questions raised. Also you learn nothing of what happens to Silas. I always like to know the bad guy gets his just desserts, but the ending does not really touch on this. The last 20 minutes of the book turned out to be an interview with the author - which I must admit I turned off because I was so disappointed that, that was it - all she wrote.

I give it

Monday, 26 August 2019

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

...Christina Weigand

1. Tell me about your book, Twelve Pillars Bundle: 3 in 1 YA Fantasy, and where you got your inspiration for it?

Palace of the Twelve Pillars

Palace of the Three Crosses

Sanctuary of the Nine Dragons

This trilogy started as a stand-alone book about a boy who wakes up one morning and discovers he is a prince and wizard. I was taking a writing course and this is the idea that the instructor and I chose to follow up on. When I finished this book Aaron’s Revenge, I realized that it wasn’t the complete story. I wanted to know more about how Aaron came to be in the place where he discovered the prince and wizard fact. I wanted the backstory. Sometime during this process of realizing things I discovered Joachim and Brandan and the fact that besides Aaron, this story was theirs to tell. So the trilogy was born. One more fun fact is Aaron’s Revenge ended up being an excerpt from Sanctuary of Nine Dragons.

2. If your book was made into a film, who would you like to see play the lead?

15 year old Joachim would be played Finn Wolfhard with the older Joachim by Tom Hiddleston

15 year old Brandan would be played by William Moseley and the older Brandan by Chris Hemsworth.

Alan Rickman would have been perfect for Waldrom.

3. Which do you use more often, dictionary or thesaurus?

I would have to say Thesaurus. I’m always looking for a different word to get my ideas across.

4. What genre do you write in and what draws you into this genre?

Young Adult and Middle grade fantasy. The first thing that draws me to it is the dragons. That being said, fantasy gives me the opportunity to create new worlds where I make the rules. Although I have to keep things close to what we as humans understand I can stretch them to the story. Magic, dragons, prince and princesses, medieval worlds all feed my fantasies.

5. Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

I like to think I have the reigns, but then my characters would raise a ruckus. One time I had them go on strike because I wasn’t writing the story that they thought I should be writing. They only came around when I threw out my ideas and listened to them.

6. Mountains or the beach?


7. Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages a day?

No I don’t. No matter how many times I have tried to hold myself to that kind of schedule, I ultimately fail.

8. Have you written any other books that are not published? Do you intend to publish them?

I have several books in progress and many ideas brewing in the background. My intent would be to finish them and publish them.

9. Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Not completely. I think every character has a little bit of me and the people I know, but no character is completely based on a real person

10. What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?

Probably the Mantions, Princess Gudrun and King Shigeo.

Twin princes Joachim and Brandan come of age and are thrust into adulthood as they enter a world torn apart by war, kidnapping and betrayal.

As the twins are crowned Kings of Mahorg and Crato, and wed to powerful women, each will deal with the loss of their parents in his own unique way. The choices each makes will set their world on a cataclysmic course that only loss and sacrifice can deter.

Is their love and faith strong enough to see Joachim and Brandan through the veil of evil blanketing the land, or will it fail and be left to their children to save?


About Christina

Christina Weigand’s a writer, wife, and mother of three grown children and a teenage daughter. She is also Nana to five granddaughters. She lives with her husband and youngest daughter in Pennsylvania after a short sabbatical in the lovely state of Washington. She has three published YA Christian Fantasy novels; Palace of the Twelve Pillars: Book One, Palace of the Three Crosses: Book Two and Sanctuary of Nine Dragons: Book Three. She also has a woman’s Bible study Women of the Bible: A Study published. Recently the first two books in a MG Fantasy series were published, Sir E. Robert Smythe and the School Bully and Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Lost Detective with the remaining four to be published over the next two years. Through her writing she strives to share the Word of God and help people young and old to realize the love and mercy He has for everyone.

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Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Dusty Pages Review: Manifest

Not a book this week (I’m working on having something read for next week, fingers crossed 🤞) but a TV show.

A while ago, probably end the of last year, there was this ten minute trailer doing the rounds for a new show in the states. It started off very normal but soon crossed over into intriguing. Let me set the scene. It starts in a Caribbean airport, a family is waiting for their flight home when a attendant announces that the flight has been over sold and for compensation they will give $400 dollars to anyone who volunteers to switch to a later flight. A family - a elderly couple, their daughter, their son  - his wife and twins make a choice. Half go home on the first flight, half the second. The son and his son as well as the sister stay behind for the second flight. The second flight hits turbulence and comes in to land, diverted to another strip, to find their flight has been missing for five years. End trailer.

Five years for their families but only one short flight for them, they haven’t aged a day and this is super poignant with the twins as the boy is still ten but his twin sister is now almost 16. Add on top of that that some of the passengers are experiencing “callings” voices or visions driving them to help people.

All episodes are available to download in one chunk on Sky and I ploughed through them. I could not stop. The plot draws you in and it ends with a cliff hanger. If that’s not enough to get you to check it out, then look at the man candy in this show in the form of Josh Dallas (Once upon a time) as Ben Stone and J. R Rameriez (Arrow, Jessica Jones) as Detective Jared Vasquez.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Cover Reveal

With the second Cera Raine now available in audio (buy links below), I've been working hard to get the third and final installment finished. The last book I hope will bring Cera's story to a close in a way that satisfies the reader.

The third installment is entitled As Right as Rain, it should be out Winter 2019 & the cover is below

The Cera Raine Series now available on audio

A Chance of Rain (Book 1)


When it Rains, it Pours (Book 2)


Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Dusty Pages Review: Cassanova

You get what you pay for…

It’s my thirtieth birthday. It’s also Valentine’s Day. I’m not sure which one sucks most.

My best friend, Sarah, begged me to go out with her and her husband for dinner, but I’m not in the mood for celebration. I’ve worked hard all day, run for an hour, and now I plan to spend the evening alone playing video games and eating a whole tub of cookie dough ice cream.

But when I get home, I discover a man sitting on the carpet in the corridor outside my penthouse apartment.

He’s tall, gorgeous, wearing an expensive suit, and carrying the biggest bouquet of red roses I’ve ever seen.

He also has a huge red bow tied around his waist.

“I’m from Casanovas,” he says.

Hmm. That sounds vaguely familiar...

He gestures at the bow, and his smile turns mischievous. “Sarah says Happy Birthday.”

Oh. My. God.

I've had this sitting on my Kindle since January. It's rare for me to read a straight forward romance without anything supernatural or murdery added in. It's mainly because I find them incredibly predictable. Boy meets girl, girl and boy fall for each other, one of them screws up and then despite all of it they come back together for their happily ever after.

Its the same for this, but its extremely well written which makes the story very enjoyable. I did start reading it on the app on my phone while waiting for my car to go through its M.O.T but quickly had to stop because I was pretty sure my face was getting hot and red and would completely give away the sort of book I was reading. The sex is good. Frequent but not repetitive and it feels like the main character - Elise - is going through something real and I felt for her a great deal - mostly because I myself am a bit of a shut in and a loner.

Nikau made me think strongly of Jason Momoa, though perhaps a little neater around the edges. He has a great deal of depth to his character too, so he's not just a handsome face.

Although the author makes a point at the end of the book that there are several related stories who's characters appear in this book, I felt Casanova stands on its own and you don't need to have read them to appreciate what this book has to offer and I'm not sure any of these characters feature heavily enough in Elise and Nikau's story to garner my interest to read more about them.

I give it

Monday, 12 August 2019

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

...Laura Johnson

1. Tell me about your book, Homeschool, My Grandchildren, & Me, and where you got your inspiration for it?

My book is about my family’s journey down a new and exciting pathway of learning through Homeschool. I was inspired by my 4 Grandchildren. They had been through so much trauma the past year, due to having been abandoned by their Mother. They settled down, banded together, bonded with me and their Father, and exceled in Homeschool.

2. Did you learn anything from writing this book? If so what was it?

I learned that Homeschool can bring families closer together and no matter what anyone says, is a great alternative to public school. We may not be able to control guns and bullying, but we can control where our children go to school.

3. What is the longest you’ve gone without writing?

Since I started writing in May of 2018, I have gone only one month without writing and that was due to having cancer surgery.

4. Which do you use more often, dictionary or thesaurus?

Fortunately there is spell check, so I use a Thesaurus more than I use a dictionary.

5. You’ve just been kidnapped and the people from the last TV Show/Movie you watched have to save you. Who is it?

Hawaii Five 0 squad.

6. What motivates you to succeed as a writer?

My motivation is my audience. I didn’t really start writing to succeed, I just wanted to help others. I kept getting asked how I started as an audiobook narrator, so I wrote about to help others get started. Then I decided that there would be an audience for my Homeschool book, so I wrote about our journey. Then I wrote a recipe book of our favourite family Southern recipes to honour my Mother’s and Grandmother’s memory. From the reviews, I have gotten, I have succeed in helping others and that makes me happy.

7. Would you rather explore a new planet, or the deepest parts of the ocean? Why?

A new planet. I am terrified of drowning and I don’t swim.

8. What genre do you write in and what draws you into this genre?

I write non-fiction, because I really do not have enough of an imagination to make up stories.

9. Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages a day?

No, I just write what I think will be enough information for whatever subject I chose.

10. Do you think the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Absolutely! First impressions are extremely important in buying anything and the cover is the first thing the prospective buyer sees.

11. What do you find are the most effective way of marketing your book?

I am still struggling with marketing. I am watching webinars and reading everything I can get my hands on to help me market. I believe being interviewed on blogs like yours will be a great marketing tool. I also join various social media FB groups who allow me to post links to my books. I have a Linkedin and Twitter account and use those for marketing.

12. What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

I try not to take bad reviews to heart. I realize I cannot write to please everyone, so I use reviews as a learning experience. If the review reveals something I can improve on, then I write it down or print it out as a reminder for the next book. Of course, I love good reviews. What author doesn’t?

13. Do you think giving away books for free works and why? I think it does help to some extent.

Being new, I haven’t done it yet, but am planning to with my Homeschool book. It can certainly increase your email list, expand you fan base, and helps get reviews, whether good or bad.

14. Have you written any other books that are not published? Do you intend to publish them?

Right now I am working on a book about how to turn making gift baskets from a hobby to a professional and successful business. This was commission by a publisher, so yes, it will be published.

15. Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

I hope that my books will help those of you who have purchased and read any of my books and make a difference in your lives. It is my intention to make your path a little easier by giving you the knowledge I have gained throughout my lifetime.

If your family is new to the homeschooling lifestyle, or you are on the fence, trying to decide if the lifestyle is for you and your family. then this book will help. I have written about the learning pathway my family is taking on the new, exciting, and fulling journey of homeschooling. I am a grandmother, who is homeschooling her 4 grandchildren. I had the idea that maybe I could help others save time researching, and make their transition to homeschooling, a little easier. I have included questions and answers for parents, legal requirements, resources for online schools and curriculum, budgeting, time management, pros and cons of homeschooling, and of course, loads of free stuff available for homeschoolers. I touched briefly on various aspects of homeschooling that you should be aware of. This book does not, by any means, cover the entire scope of a homeschool lifestyle. However, I hope I have given my readers enough information to start their family on a new, exciting, and fulfilling educational learning pathway. I truly believe homeschooling builds a stronger family relationship, gives children real-life skills not found in public school, gives special needs children more learning flexibility, and most importantly, at least to our family, keeps the children safe and secure in their own home. No bullying. No guns. I hope I have accomplished my goal of giving you enough information to keep or start, your family on a new and exciting learning pathway.

About Laura

Laura Johnson is a Southern lady from the great state of Texas. She lived in Florida for over 30 years and now resides in NJ. Laura was a professional vocalist for 30+ years, traveling up and down the East coast from Florida to Maine as a vocalist with a dinner and dance band. Now she spends her time as an audiobook narrator/producer and newly self-published author. Laura loves to read, cook, and spend time with her son and 4 grandchildren.

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