Book Reviews

Bout of Books August 2022 #bookreviews #readathon #BoutOfBooks

All the books I read last week during the #BoutOfBooks readathon, because I could. I decided to tackle my TBR again with this challenge, focusing again on my non-fiction shelf. You can check out my social posts about this on Instagram.

About the Book

Influenced by her cultural roots and with a creative gift for healthy recipe development, Taline Gabrielian is passionate about food, health and family. She uses whole, unprocessed ingredients to produce plant-based, vegan recipes that are packed with a powerhouse of goodness. Founder of Hippie Lane, which has a growing international following on social media, Taline is fast becoming a foodie rock star. Her first book features breakfasts the family will love: exciting and innovative lunches, nourishing snacks, power salads with gorgeous creamy dressings, beautiful bliss bowls, weekend meal inspiration, dinners for week nights and date nights and the most amazing sweet treats. Taline’s food is delicious, easy to make and inventive; she takes nutritious eating to a whole new level of feel-good sophistication.

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

I love the philosophy. But, the essential ingredients are prohibitively expensive (at least in my country: I can buy the ingredients for a whole week’s (healthy) dinners for the price of a kilogram almond flour).

The breakfasts don’t really work for me as I don’t like to start my day with sweet things unless it’s just plain seasonal fruit.

I do like the vegie burrito (delicious!) and roasted cinnamon pumpkin soup (made it with butternut instead of the recommended pumpkin type).

I like how different flavour combinations and ingredients are combined and am inspired to try new things in the kitchen.

4 unicorn star rating

About the Book

Do you have a manuscript to revise? Could you use a little help?

Award-winning author Janice Hardy (and founder of the popular writing site, Fiction University) takes you step-by-step through the novel revision process. She’ll show you how to analyze your draft, spot any problems or weak areas, and how to fix those problems.

With clear and easy-to-understand examples, Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft offers eleven self-guided workshops that target some of the toughest aspects of writing. It will help you:

Develop a strong and effective revision plan
Analyze your manuscript to find its strengths and weaknesses
Spot common red flag words for problem areas (such as told prose)
Determine the best way to revise a scene, plot, character, or novel
Fix problems holding your novel back

Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft starts every workshop with an analysis and offers multiple revision options in that area. You choose the options that best fit your writing process. Learn how to:

Develop weak characters into strong ones
Strengthen plots and subplots
Flesh out your world or setting
Control your novel’s pacing to keep readers hooked
BONUS Workshop: How to salvage half-finished manuscripts

Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft is an easy-to-follow guide to revising your manuscript and crafting a strong finished draft.

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

I absolutely love this. It’s the way I usually revise, but with the permission to do so and some tips to make it even better. I know, needing permission to revise in a specific way sounds odd, but I’ve listened to how others do it and it made it sound like I was adding unnecessary work after the novel is done – but Janice encourages my note-taking, highlighters and flags, which makes me excited for my next revision project. And I’ll consult this book whenever I need advice.

A must-have in every author’s library.

5 unicorn star rating

About the Book

Craft Elder and author Raven Grimassi has revised and expanded his indispensable reference work, the award-winning Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft. The first book of its kind to be written by a practicing Witch, this guide presents Wicca/Witchcraft as a spiritual path, connecting religious concepts and spirituality to both a historical background and modern practice.

With a wealth of information on European folklore and Western Occultism, and material relevant to any tradition, you can use this book to research any aspect of the Craft, including:

Theology: Pantheons, Wiccan Rede, Three-Fold Law History: Craft roots and influence Places: Historical and sacred sites Verses, rites, and invocations Ritual objects and tools Influential Witches: Past and present The Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft also contains a glossary of terminology; book references; Craft web sites, organizations, and magazines; magickal alphabets, runes, correspondences, symbols; and 300 illustrations. 

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

“This encyclopedia is designed for modern Wiccans/Witches and deals with topics pertinent to their practices and beliefs. It is also intended to be a research text and a book for anyone who wishes to understand the modern beliefs and practices within Wicca/Witchcraft, as well as their origins.”

And the book delivers. I like that the author used various sources, including historical texts and legends from more than one culture, to give a proper overview of everything covered in this book.

A great resource for fantasy writers such as myself to stay away from stereotypes when writing about witches. I’ll consult it regularly while writing my next series.

5 unicorn star rating

About the Book

From one of the world’s most beloved and bestselling authors, a terrifically useful and readable guide to the problems of the English language most commonly encountered by editors and writers.

What is the singular form of graffiti? From what mythological figure is the word “tantalize” derived? One of the English language’s most skilled writers guides us all toward precise, mistake-free usage. Covering spelling, capitalization, plurals, hyphens, abbreviations, and foreign names and phrases, Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors will be an indispensable companion for all who care enough about our language not to maul, misuse, or contort it.

As Bill Bryson notes, “English is a dazzlingly idiosyncratic tongue, full of quirks and irregularities that often seem willfully at odds with logic and common sense.” This dictionary is an essential guide to the wonderfully disordered thing that is the English language. 

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

Personally, I prefer my own notebook of peculiar spellings in my writing and my thesaurus, three dictionaries and common sense (and ProWritingAid) when editing and proofing my work, but each their own.

This book is basically the author’s notebook of things he has to look up regularly and now shared with others. Not for me, but others might find it useful.

3 unicorn star rating

About the Book

The classic guide to copywriting, now in an entirely updated third edition
This is a book for everyone who writes or approves copy: copywriters, account executives, creative directors, freelance writers, advertising managers . . . even entrepreneurs and brand managers. It reveals dozens of copywriting techniques that can help you write ads, commercials, and direct mail that are clear, persuasive, and get more attention–and sell more products.
Among the tips revealed are
• eight headlines that work–and how to use them
• eleven ways to make your copy more readable
• fifteen ways to open a sales letter
• the nine characteristics of successful print ads
• how to build a successful freelance copywriting practice
• fifteen techniques to ensure your e-mail marketing message
is opened
This thoroughly revised third edition includes all new essential information for mastering copywriting in the Internet era, including advice on Web- and e-mail-based copywriting, multimedia presentations, and Internet research and source documentation, as well as updated resources. Now more indispensable than ever, The Copywriter’s Handbook remains the ultimate guide for people who write or work with copy.

“I don’t know a single copywriter whose work would not be improved by reading this book.” –David Ogilvy

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

An informative book on how to write copy that sells – something every indie author needs to know to sell their books effectively. Some things (like the email marketing and writing for the web) I already knew how to do, but other things were new and I learned a lot. Highly recommended, even if some of the tech tips are outdated.

4 unicorn star rating

About the Book

The all-inclusive guide for novel writers

If you’re serious about making your fiction vibrant, engaging, and marketable, you’ve found the right book. The Breakout Novelist gives you the craft and business know-how you need to make your book stand out.

Inside, veteran agent Donald Maass brings together the most innovative and practical information from his workshops and previous books to lead you through every aspect of setting your novel apart from the rest. Maass shares examples from contemporary writers across all genres to equip you with the strategies great writers use to craft great fiction – from core fiction-writing elements like character, setting, description, and plot, to more advanced techniques including point of view, voice, and suspense. Plus, you’ll find over 70 practical exercises to help you move your writing from blah to breakout.

You’ll also learn from Maass’ experiences over more than three decades in the publishing industry. Get straight talk from an insider about agents, contracts, how the industry is changing, and how to be the kind of author who builds a successful career book after book.

Get the best of Maass’ expertise and instruction in one easy-to-use reference.

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

Part one is basically a recap of “Writing the Breakout Novel”.

Part two is more thoroughly covered in the Revise Your Novel series by Janice Hardy.

It’s good, but if you’ve read these other books (like I have), it’s not imparting new advice.

And part three is supposed to be about having an author career, but it’s all about how traditional publishing works and that self-publishing isn’t a viable career choice. Say that to the many six and seven figure indie authors out there…

This book suffers from being written in 2010 as it doesn’t look at the broader publishing world and still talks about the Big Six publishers (they are down to four) and that self-publishing isn’t feasible (paranormal romance is almost exclusively the domain of indie authors).

The book also suffers from being a rehash of “Writing the Breakout Novel” and “The Emotional Craft of Fiction” by the same author.

Read only if you haven’t read the other books mentioned in this review and you are okay writing and publishing like it’s 2010.

2 unicorn star rating

About the Book

You just read your manuscript and discovered that your characters nod like marionettes in every chapter. When they’re not nodding, they roll their eyes.

Time to slash the Pinocchio strings and turn them into real people. Award-winning author Kathy Steinemann provides the tools. She cuts through the so-called rules and offers simple solutions.

Too many repetitions of “little”? There’s a cure for that. Do you rely on “very” too often? There’s a cure for that too. You’ll find the remedies in this book’s dispensary.

Should you ever use anything other than “said” to attribute dialogue? Are exclamation points taboo? The answers might surprise you.

Learn how to harness body language, purge hackneyed adjectives, and draw on the environment for ambience. No more wooden characters. You’ll transform them into believable personalities that your readers will learn to love. Or hate.

Get in the driver’s seat, relax, and enjoy your journey—with Kathy Steinemann’s book as your GPS.

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

A treasure trove! I wish more writers would use this resource.

“If you overdo the cursing, your work will come off like the amusing tirade of an angry adolescent.”

The author shows how some words are overused, weakening story, and how to fix it.

A must-have in every writer’s library.

5 unicorn star rating

About the Book

Why do you write? Perhaps you’re penning a memoir, fantasy, or romance. Maybe you’re writing a sci-fi series or creative nonfiction novel.

At the receiving end will be readers who demand clarity. If you confuse them, you lose them. Learn how to capture their attention and keep them engaged. Discover when to bend or break the so-called “rules” and motivate everyone to finish “just one more chapter.”

• Explore ways to create convincing dialogue without resorting to distracting dialect, pauses, or ill-placed exposition.

• Conquer words and phrases that propagate like a virus.

• Find answers to the following questions:

– Is it ever alright to use “alright”?
– What is the correct order for stacked modifiers?
– Why should you avoid filter words?
– How can you reduce word bloat?
– Are adverbs really as villainous as many insist?
– What about semicolons, present tense, and head-hopping?
– What is contractionitis? How can it be cured?

• Learn how to:

– Minimize repetition of words such as “but” and “because.”
– Decrease reliance on crutch words.
– Reduce word bloat.
– Maximize action beats.

This book is a must-have for all writers, from amateur to professional, fiction to nonfiction.

Sprinkled throughout, you’ll find exercises and examples with ideas for story prompts. Snap ’em up at will, and …

… write on.

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

Another treasure trove writers should absolutely make use of.

5 unicorn star rating

About the Book

Is marketing sucking the joy out of your writing life?

Do you wish you could spend more time writing and less time selling? Do you suffer from platform paranoia or social marketing madness? Are you stressed because you can’t keep up with the latest marketing gimmicks and perpetual-motion author-entrepreneurs?

Here’s good news: Marketing For Writers Who Hate Marketing will show you how to have the kind of writing life you long for by dispelling the marketing myths that weigh you down. You’ll learn what works best, what doesn’t, and how a few simple strategies are all you need to get the most out of your marketing efforts.

Marketing For Writers Who Hate Marketing will help you prioritize your marketing so you can concentrate on the handful of tools that are most effective, and eliminate the worry that you’re never doing enough. It will teach you:

• The #1 most effective marketing tool … one you already love!

• How to maximize the all-important first impression your book makes on a browser.

• How to turn browsers into readers.

• How to turn readers into fans.

• Pricing as a strategic marketing tool.

• How to grow and nurture an email list.

• All the time-sucking practices you can avoid so you’re free to write!

• And more.

Whether your are self-publishing or working with a traditional publisher –– or both –– you need to know how to market smart. This book will show you how.

Check it out on Goodreads.

My Review

A quick look at what you should do (author pages, email list, website) and what should be avoided (blogging, podcasting, blog tours, getting reviews) as one gives obvious results and the other is a time suck.

Though there are obvious good advice here – stuff one could learn more of and with looking at both sides from the Creative Penn podcast and the Self-Publishing Show podcast – it is marred by the author’s assertion that this works and this doesn’t and that’s that. Personally, I’ve found that blogging and podcasting about the right stuff, and getting reviews (usually accompanied by a blog tour) grows my email list and sells books.

It does talk about the book package that gets people to buy and read your book (cover, blurb, title, price, look inside pages) and how to maximise these to your benefit.

A good primer on marketing, but one should read more books on the subject to get a holistic view.

3 unicorn star rating

Do you enjoy readathons? Have you read any of these books?

*FYI, my reviews are my honest opinion and if something bothers me, I tell it straight. How else will anything change? My opinions are based on being a voracious reader and book buyer, not an attack on the author.*

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