Posted in book review, fiction, FYI, Reviews of Smashwords eBooks, TBR, Uncategorized

The Secret Lives Of Senior Readers

For virtual librarians:
Ebook recommendations from my mum
for your older relatives and readers

My mum’s always surprising me. Just the other day, she mentioned she loves reading on her new tablet (her 70th Birthday gift from my Wee Bruv and Kleinsus) and that she now much prefers eBooks to print.

In fact, since the lockdown and mum’s inability to access print from the libraries every week or two, she’s been reading three to four books plus a novella or two every week—yep! Much more than I currently read. So, I thought I’d share some of my mum’s most recommended reads with you in case you’ve also become someone’s virtual librarian. Scroll further for the highly recommended if you’re in a rush as I thought I’d tell you a bit more about my mum and her reading habits first. Or, if you prefer: The Secret Lives Of Senior Readers.

NB: This post contains some affiliate links that keep us eBooks.

First: the technical stuff

Mum’s on android, so I downloaded Lithium from the GooglePlay store for her. She’s had no complaints. I’ve set the background to the one that looks like parchment or a standard paperback page, kept the font as standard black and made the font slightly larger than usual. She uses the grid view with the recently opened showing first. Sometimes, she forgets to scroll down when looking for a new book to read, but that’s okay.
She began reading eBooks on her phone a few years ago, but between the battery drain and having to hold the powerbank while she read sometimes, it wasn’t ideal. Enter Wee Bruv and Kleinsus with the tablet for her birthday. Mum’s in love with her tablet and the fact that she doesn’t need to recharge it so often even though she reads for at least four hours on most days. Also, she can read during loadshedding and not disturb Dad as much, too. Her tablet has Lithium with the same settings and what excited her a lot was the larger page area. We also set the screen brightness to about 40-45% so she doesn’t burn out her retinas and avoids eye-strain. Plus, this saves the battery, too.

Next: where mum gets her books

Short answer, me! This is where I turn into the virtual librarian. To be fair, I’ve had practice since years ago when I used to finish work early on Friday and rush over to our local library to grab an armful of books in 30mins or less. It’s kind of like the same process, only this time it’s all digital and I have one or two steps more.

I usually download books from Smashwords and some other sites that offer free and introductory reads (like Prolific), and sometimes I buy an eBook from an author we enjoyed, as long as it’s available for download as an epub. This isn’t ideal, but mum talks to more readers of her age who are more likely to seek out the print and library versions of the authors she recommends, and once mum loves a book, she loves a book. Besides, we can’t afford to buy all the books we’d like to read.
Mum doesn’t read online so that’s another reason to download the books. Truth be told, mum gets overwhelmed and bored by scrolling through the endless covers and blurbs, sorting through the menus and submenus to find her genres and braving the other hazards of finding books that appeal to her in an online store or library. I don’t mind digging for gems for mum as it’s research and often good reading for me, too! Once I’ve downloaded and run a virus-scan (you can never be too careful), I transfer the eBooks to mum’s device.

Mum’s genres

Mystery, crime, adventure, thriller, romantic suspense and family drama. Sometimes she’ll read a horror (not very often), has long since passed the erotic romance phase, and likes a good humorous story especially if it involves pets and quirky characters. We’re talking about someone who grew up reading Agatha Christie and the classics, got stuck in historical dramas in the ’70s, spent the ’80s and ’90s reading Jackie Collins and Virginia Andrews, fought us for Terry Pratchetts and Alan Dean Fosters while reading Jack Reacher novels and Dick Francis from the word go. Mum’s always moved with the times as long as the stories are good. Now she’s bingeing on eBooks. She doesn’t usually read badly formatted or poorly written books, deleting them quickly. I’ve gotta say I’m really proud of mum’s reading habits 😀

Mum’s recommendations
for 2020

Highly Recommended

Author: Wes Snowden
Mum’s most recent bingeing has been the very enjoyable Wes Snowden. We just ‘discovered’ him this year, and she’s already talking to Big Sis (a big Dick Francis fan) about this author. I’ve read one of his books so far and got so engrossed in it that I stayed up half the night to complete the story.
I believe Wes Snowden’s books are also available in print, so you may want to ask your librarian for them.
One Last Move: This is the story I’ve read, the one that had me up half the night. The characters are warm and quirky, yet relatable. The main character is honest and his predicament not one you often find in a print. This is a gentle suspense with a hint of thriller and romance. All in all, an excellent read by mum’s and my standards.
Other books by Snowden mum’s read:
Snowfall In Venice: a novella
White Swan Wishes: Mum enjoyed this one immensely. She loved the humour. When I have a day or two to spare, I’ll read this next.

Author: Camilla Monk
The Spotless Series: I got the box-set for my birthday after thoroughly enjoying Spotless (the first book) as freebie and vowed to read the rest as soon as I could afford it. Mum and I read the series almost simultaneously, so not much work got done over those few days. We had convos around: Which book are you on now? When does March come in again? Did you reach that bit where Island finds out about the bad guy?
Spotless the series has all the elements mum loves: mystery, adventure, action, romance, quirky characters, humour…
Mum’s itching to read Book 5 as much as I am. Maybe for Christmas…

Author: Cecilia Peartree
Death At The Happiness Club: This one mum recommends to senior citizens looking for an enjoyable mystery. It’s part of a series so I’ll keep an eye out for more.

Author: Lizzy Lewis
Cake And Calamity: An easy mystery read that’s worth the time, says mum.

Author: Peggy Webb
The Rules Of Engagement: Another book recommended by mum to other seniors. I believe it’s a romance mystery.

Author: Iris Chacon
Finding Miranda: I read this first and told mum she should read it next. She did. It wasn’t her usual reading, but the quirky, characters and unusual plot and general humor also won her over. I highly recommend this, and mum would recommend it to those who enjoy Carl Hiaasen with less sweary words.

Graham Wilson
This Aussie author was the first that mum read on her screen—one who got her bingeing his thriller/crime series. I haven’t read his stories yet, but they pretty much have mum glued to her screen. She tried recommending him to one of her senior friends who’s still stuck on print and was sad she couldn’t share another good author with a fellow reader of taste.

Recommended

Eric Douglas
Cayman Cowboys: Mum particularly enjoyed the setting and the scuba-diving adventure aspects. I did try reading this and found it a little too slow at the beginning for me, so some patience required in getting to the heart of the story for this one, perhaps.

Sally Berneathy
Death By Chocolate:Mum and I both enjoyed the twists and turns in this mystery. Perfect for a long-weekend or Sunday read.

Connie Shelton
Sweet Masterpiece: Another solid mystery/crime/foodie story that had both of us hooked. An added bonus for me was the focus on art.

And that’s all we have for you, folks! Happy reading to you and the senior members in your family!

Posted in book review, fiction, FYI, Reviews of Smashwords eBooks, TBR

TBR Love: September 2019

Just the one review, and some very exciting news about Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores!

Some Very Exciting News!

Want access to positive and thought-provoking speculative fiction? Not to mention exclusive tarot reads no-one else gets…and a free personal reading for that particular question that’s been bugging you.
I have your solution from $2 a month! 😀

Little Known, Highly Recommended

Spotelss by Camilla Monk from Smashwords.com

Spotless (Series #1) (romance, suspense, humor, action)
Camilla MonkA woman named Island (I know, I know) is kidnapped by a hitman with a serious (and I mean serious!) OCD problem. They’re both strangely weird people, who form a strange, but satisfying bond under various intense and upsetting circumstances involving interesting locations, bullets, blood, and various psychos.

Imagine the movie series The Transporter meets Meg Cabot’s romances meets some really great characterisation and plotting…without holes, or its slip showing at embarrassing places, or resorting to predictability or illogical plot-contortions just to keep one cinematic scene intact… I couldn’t stop reading it. It’s fun. It’s brilliant. It’s not for those who love plots-by-numbers types. I can’t wait to read the next one! But I have to. Because work.

Quest for the wholly pale 0 calories
Posted in fiction, Reviews of Smashwords eBooks, Uncategorized

Harcourt’s Mountain by Elaine Dodge

Book Review: Harcourt’s Mountain
Author: Elaine Dodge
Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Romance
Format: novel

I won this eBook in a contest.

In brief:

Harcourt’s Mountain reads like a good frontier mini-series complete with a damaged mountain man; a sensible, sweet heroine; and a supporting cast of colourful characters with generous hearts or dastardly intentions.

The Whole story:

I was surprised to win this eBook. I was even more surprised to find myself thoroughly savouring and enjoying it; surprised because while I often enjoy historical fiction and romance fiction, I don’t often enjoy them together – unless it’s a Judith Merkle Riley or M.M. Kaye. So bravo to Elaine Dodge for this greatly satisfying novel.

Harcourt’s Mountain is set during the gold rush in British Columbia when brides could be bought at auctions, mountains could be won in poker games, and sailors could be press-ganged into sailing around the horn of South America.
Luke Harcourt, ex-navy and now apple-tree grower, buys Hope Booker at a bride auction. Unlike most brides, Hope can’t remember how or why she was on the bride-ship, and only knows that she doesn’t belong there. Unlike most buyers, Luke only buys Hope’s freedom out of pity and to save her life. Time eventually sees the thorny and kind-hearted Luke fall madly for the gentle, spirited Hope. Yet just when it seems their happiness is set to stay, their love is tested in a most arduous way.

What I loved about this story:

The setting is so rich. It was easy for me to dive right into the story again as I read it through my lunchtimes. Dodge’s exploration of the harsh frontier life, especially of the ‘brides’ and their fates was, at times, shocking. But, at the same time, it was these very details and observations which elevates this story, in my opinion.
Hope and Luke make a sweet couple who earn each other’s trust and love in believable ways.

And the supporting characters are all stars! From the Lees with their care of their friends to Mr Samson and his livery, from Adam and his clan to (my favourite) Wolf, the wolf-dog; they all bring a depth to the story and make Harcourt’s Mountain a place you’d want to visit.
The villains are varied, too, with predictable and satisfying motivations.

And Elaine Dodge does great research which makes for great scenes in her story – the mark of a good historical novel.

What I thought could be better:

There are some plot twists which seem a little too contrived. In particular, I thought Hope’s ex-fiance turning up in Silver Birch, of all places, was just a little bit of a stretch. Fortunately, this didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story.

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

British Columbia, during the gold rush, was dangerous place for a lady. The Nlaka’pamux have/had a fishing festival, and the wealth of a mountain isn’t always in its minerals or timber.

Rating: 5/5

Recommended to: lovers of:  the movie Gunless, historical frontier stories, and Dr Quinn.

Website       Goodreads       Smashwords   

Posted in Reviews of Smashwords eBooks, Uncategorized

Santa’s Secret

Yesterday morning was great! Smashwords informed me that someone (my secret Santa!) had written a review of my one and only Christmas story, Dear Santa—A Love Wish!

It’s always wonderful when someone takes the time to review my books and stories, especially so when it’s favourable, more so when you haven’t gone, “Pretty please, with sprinkles on top, review my book.”:)

It’s as good a gift as any, that you can give a writer friend (unless you want to give them a new computer).

Curious as to how he found my eBook (so few actually do, unless I say, “Pretty please…”), I did a little bit of internet sleuthing and discovered that he is, in fact, someone in this very blogging community! Someone who is very inspired by the season.

So, I just wanted to thank my secret Santa, and wish him a wonderful, magical Christmas (with sprinkles on top).

And while I’m at it, I thought I’d spread the good cheer and wish you a very happy and special holiday season too 🙂

Happy Holidays 2

Posted in Design and inspirational books, nonfiction, Reviews of Smashwords eBooks, Tips and Hacks, Uncategorized

Become An Exceptional Designer: Effective Colour Selection For You And Your Client by James Dean

m_James Dean Colour SmashwordsTitle: Become An Exceptional Designer: Effective Colour Selection For You And Your Client
Author: James Dean
Rating: 90-95%

This is an unsolicited review of a Smashwords epub download. This is merely my very subjective opinion, and should be regarded as such.

In Brief:

This is a great colour resource from James Dean, not just for interior designers, but for all designers. I found it useful as it reminded me of colour theories and sets I had forgotten.

The Whole Story:

Based on a series of lectures for a course, it’s great for students and as an afternoon read for designers who need a little brushing up on aspects of colour.

Written in well presented chapters, this eBook covers the basics of colour and colour mixing, with a nice chapter on the psychology of colour too. Colour wheels and an explanation of the Munsell System make practical colour applications easy to understand, while short summaries on colour theories by the masters adds a nice touch.

I would have preferred more graphics and photos, but that may be because I like pretty things 🙂

What I learned?

I learned that lighter colours like yellow have more shades than tints while darker, colours like red, have more tints than shades; which probably accounts for why I dislike using much red in my designs:)

My favourite chapter was on the psychology of colour which included some fun facts to pique my trivia nerd interest.

Rating: 90-95% less 5% because I like my pretty pictures.
Recommended to: Students studying design, artists, designers and the perpetually curious

About the author:

James Dean is a architect with a passion for design and constructing unique architecture.
Smashwords Profile
Author Website

Posted in nonfiction, Outdoors, Reviews of Smashwords eBooks, Tips and Hacks, Uncategorized

REview: Camping Hacks from a Diva! by Lynn Sable

 

m_Lynn Sable I hate Camping SmashwordsTitle: Camping Hacks from a Diva! I Hate Camping But I Love Glamping!
Author: Lynn Sable
Rating: 100%

This is an unsolicited review of a Smashwords epub download. This is merely my very subjective opinion, and should be regarded as such.

In Brief:

I hate camping, myself, but love being out in nature and the odd (short) hike, so I loved, loved, loved this eBook with all Lynn Sable’s very doable hacks, from making foil packs to ‘taking care of business’ with a pop-up room and solar shower.

The Whole Story:

Written in a very conversational, easy tone, this is a quick fun, useful read. Lynn Sable takes you from the bare basics: preparing food (including dessert) to turning your tent into a 5-star retreat space. There are easy recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, a bug spray recipe, options on equipment and some top secret hacks on lighting and making your own firestarters.

What I learned?

News hacks to apply not just to camping, glamping and being outdoors, but for power outages too. There’s a ton of equipment out there to make camping trips really comfortable for the whole family.

Rating: 100%
Recommended to: campers, glampers and everyone who is thinking of spending some time outdoors in summer—or Australia.

About the Author:

Lynn Sable loves traveling and the outdoors. She’s also written a YA thriller/suspense Oh No You Didn’t.
Smashwords Profile
Read an interview with Lynn

Posted in nonfiction, Reviews of Smashwords eBooks, Uncategorized

REview: Tough Love for Beloved Free eBook Readers by Den Warren

Warren Den Tough Love Ebook ReadersTitle: Tough Love for Beloved Free Ebook Readers
Author: Den Warren
Rating: 70-80%

This is an unsolicited review of a Smashwords download.

In Brief:

This short, sharp, expressive rant of an Indie Self-publishing Author voices what every author (including myself) thinks, from time to time, but is too afraid to say; complete with cute love/hate marketing gimmick 😀

The Whole Story:

We writers love our readers, maybe not as much as we love our dogs or cats, but we’d miss our readers almost as much; so I admired Den Warren’s honest rant and analogy, which I believe took a lot of courage, and maybe a glass or two of whiskey:-D

Mostly well said, but at times shifting into I-still-need-this-bunch-on-my-side, this ranting article gives both writers and readers much to think about.

What I learned?

Every writer goes through the whole lack-of-feedback-from-free-downloaders hell. I should really leave a review for all those books I’ve downloaded, especially from Smashwords. After all, I’d like the same done for all my books.

Rating: 70-80% for honesty, bringing a voice to those who should know better, and making me smile.

Recommended to: Free eBook downloaders, Free eBook writers, those researching the pitfalls of being either.

About Den Warren:

Den Warren writes sci-fi and superhero fiction.
Smashwords Profile:
Author Website: https://denwarren.wordpress.com/

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