Welcome to the book blog of writer and creative writing tutor, Diane Paul.

Thanks to the publishers and kind PR people who send me books and releases about their clients' books for review. Press releases and review copies of fiction and non-fiction are always welcome. (No sci-fi, fantasy or erotica please.)

Due to the barrage of requests from self-published authors for reviews, I'm unable to deal with them all, although I'm sometimes drawn to non-fiction for the subject matter. And because I love print books, the smell, the touch of the paper and the sight of the words, I don't have an electronic reader or review e-books.

E-mail to: bookblogforbookworms@keywordeditorial.com for the postal address.

My writing website: http://www.keywordeditorial.com/

Friday, 30 July 2010

NLP: Principles in Practice

Round about 1989, I read a book called Heart of the Mind by Connirae and Steve Andreas. It was about Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and it covered such life crises as having to respond resourcefully to criticism, asserting oneself respectfully, positive motivation, making decisions and dealing with disaster, all essential coping strategies for procrastinating writers. I still have it and dip into it occasionally. NLP expert Lisa Wake, who lives in Yorkshire has just released her latest book on this growing therapy.

A bit about the author

Lisa Wake was a nurse who moved into management before she left the NHS to launch her own business. Awaken Consulting & Training Services Ltd. She helps businesses grow by 'awakening greater possibilities and choice'. Lisa trained to be an NLP trainer and is now a Neuro-Linguistic psychotherapist as well as coach, facilitator, change agent, trainer, supervisor and mentor. In 2007, Lisa was awarded the status of Master Trainer of NLP because of her contributions, which included writing and developing NLP concepts.

Who will read the book?

In this book, Lisa reveals the tools, techniques and mythology behind NLP and the research that underpins it. "The book is designed to be read by a wide range of audiences," she said. "Currently...there are a number of universities offering undergraduate, postgraduate and doctorate programmes that include NLP either wholly or partially. Large organisations in the public and commercial sectors have adopted the principles and practices..." Since 2000, a 'considerable shift' has been noted in the teaching of NLP in management processes as a mainstream topic. "NLP has also been adapted and integrated into psychotherapy practice and is now a mainstream psychotherapy recognised by the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). Educational programmes are littered with some of the tools and techniques of NLP, with NLP being integrated from Government policy level down to grass roots," she said.

What's in it?

In the book, Lisa describes the various techniques, how they work and link back to the overarching theory and principles of NLP. Relevant literature supports or challenges the model. 'Each section then concludes with a recommended exercise to follow and examples of how the technique can be applied across a number of different contexts." Her client list is impressive and includes big business and NHS Trusts.

NLP: Principles in Practice is published by Ecademy Press in the UK. Lisa's website is at http://www.awakenconsulting.co.uk/

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I experienced some difficulty getting into this but once I got past the cryptic colour introduction I discovered it was possibly one of the best books I'd read in a long time. Beautifully written, I remained glued to its every page and at 553pps that was a long read far into the night(s). Holocaust themes are making their mark as older generations are beginning to talk and that's as it should be. Fine detail has been held back for too long. Amazing stories have come from my own friends and family and it seems that hardly anyone I know has been left untouched in some way by the atrocities of the 1940s. This book is realistic and poignant with believable characters and a rivetting plot. It's narrated by Death, who comes to claim his victims and there are lots of them.At the same time, he reveals the sad story of the book thief, 9-year-old Liesel, whose parents are in a concentration camp. Fostered by a German family, she forms a strong spiritual attachment to the Jewish refugee hidden in the cellar, an attachment strengthened by their mutual love for the written word in the books she steals. It isn't a happy story but it's a story about Nazi Germany in 1939 so what more can I say?
Published by Black Swan (2007) Ideal for a book group.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Harry the Cat blogs The Lady

She's gone out, so I thought I'd teach her a lesson for shoving that pill down me this morning. I'm Cocoa, the office cat (aka Harry the Cat). Of course, everyone knows that writing from the point of view of cats, dogs, goldfish and trees is a no-no in the proper writing world but nobody reads her blogs anyway so it doesn't matter. For my first effort, I'll review this magazine in her out-tray called The Lady. Apparently, it's had a revamp. She wrote something for it once I remember, so she's bound to say something nice about the New Look in case she wants to send them something else. She's been reading it since her enforced stay at Miss Wilkinson's School for Gentlewomen in the 1950s, I know that. I don't want to be catty but that model woman in this week's issue doesn't have a whisker on her face and...oops, she's back. Pretend to be sleeping, that always works.

Always a big follower of The Lady, I thought I'd leave it a while to settle before I decided whether to continue buying it after all these years. On the downside, I think probably the worst change has been the addition of an office dog's column...disbelief, shock, horror on this one. It's a dog...dogs can't write...hello? Penny Smith though is always a pleasure to read, no matter where and her sense of humour makes up for it. In general, I think I'd like to see stronger themes come out of the articles, for most of them don't tell me anything new or impart any information I could think 'wow' about, even (and especially) from the big names. What is the point of interviewing Julie Andrews just to tell readers how nice she is, as if we didn't know. So what's new? The old Lady articles used to inform and educate. I remember reading about Suzanne Lenglen and thinking wow, that's really interesting. (Suzanne who?) Quite - go look up a back copy. Forgotten achievers of the past had another 15 minutes of fame and topics we took for granted had an airing, like the history of tea. Why would readers of a certain age want to read about a young model person, especially when the adverts specialise in retirement homes and electric stairlifts? Twiggy perhaps (congratulations on that one) or whatever happened to Jean Shrimpton or Barbara Goalen. I know, yes, who? And another thing - have you noticed how often free product plugs creep into the articles, especially book titles (good heavens, what am I saying?) The difference is that that is the purpose of this blogsite. When the adverts become more entertaining than the articles, it's time...who's walked across my laptop with dirty feet?
Just dealing with the forensics

Beryl Bainbridge First Time Author Prize

Do book prizes sometimes make you wonder exactly what it was that caught the judges' imaginations because it sure as anything doesn't catch yours? Now's your chance to have a say for yourself for The People's Book Prize is voted for by the public and the first winner of the Beryl Bainbridge Prize for a First Time Author is 27-year-old Adam Perrott, author of children's book Eerie Deirdre Darkly. Unfortunately, Patron of the prize, Dame Beryl Bainbridge, died only three weeks before the presentation in London last week. Adam is carer to his two children, aged 3 and 7 months and says he is 'just daddy to them,' and they weren't aware he had become an award-winning author. His book was a smash hit when it came out in 2009 and sold its first print run in eight weeks. It's a comedy about a little girl and features monsters, hotel inspectors, talking tarantulas and a one-eyed octopus called Barbara. It is now available as a free audio download at http://www.eeriedeirdredarkly.com/ Adam's second book is currently being edited and will be out next year. If you want to know more about The People's Book Prize, log onto http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/

Monday, 26 July 2010

Deafness and Hearing Loss - The Essential Guide by Juliet England

Need2Know Books, an imprint of Forward Press have just brought out this particular guide but they have a whole stable of them on a variety of hot topics and they are becoming v fashionable (but then I would say that as an N2K author wouldn't I?). Oddly the cover of this particular one features two women signing, dressed in brightly coloured, patterned frocks, one woman wearing dangling earrings - all the things I was told to avoid when doing deaf awareness training, as they can be so distracting. The author, Juliet England is a writer with a severe hearing loss, so she writes from experience. Juliet explains the different types and degrees of deafness and the help and aids available from communication techniques to cochlear implants and more. The deaf world is little known to those of us with hearing but we could become a part of it at any time, so it's fascinating to learn about the ways in which it could affect every aspect of our lives. The book is clearly written with step-by-step explanations. This is an easy to read, informative guide to hearing loss and how to cope with it in a hearing world. The case studies are particularly useful. It's available from bookshops or direct from Need2Know in Peterborough and you can see the full range at http://www.need2knowbooks.co.uk/ The ADHD guide is particularly enlightening, especially for people who believe it doesn't exist and more particularly because I wrote it. Plug...plug...why not, you only live once and if you have IBS or are stressed out from next door's barking mutt or trying to juggle the baby with the board room, you will find instant help from the guide to Stress. And if you're an expert on a specific health topic and have a way with words, why not contact Need2Know - they're on the lookout for topic authors.

The Messenger by Daniel Silva

Published by Penguin Books (2006), if you're a follower of Silva's books, this is one of the Gabriel Allon Thriller series. It was lent by a friend, so it's not my usual cup of tea. Allon is an art restorer and secret Israeli spy, who blows his cover in this book. He's delegated to keep an eye on American art expert and beauty (of course), Sarah Bancroft, recruited by Israeli Intelligence to infiltrate an evil cell of Al-Qaeda terrorists, whose financial backing comes from the Saudis (infiltrators of everything). The terrorists attack the Vatican at the start and finish with the between story dedicated to Messenger Sarah's jet-setting life with the wealthy Zizi, ace villain. It's pacey, slick and action-packed. It's also well-researched on both sides' surveillance systems but tough on the poor Messenger who gets slapped around so much and whose personal relationship with Allon never materialises; the woman who does captivate the professional killer remains a shadowy figure in the background and was set up to be there for him when he emerged. I didn't really care about the gun types used but doubtless some readers would relish such attention to detail and it did feel like chunks of two separate stories in a circular structure. Most shocking was the publisher's sloppiness in the amount of literals in the text, something that would never have passed muster in Allen Lane's day. Silva, who lives in Washington DC has written 13 books, 10 in the Allon Series. The Washingtonian compares him to Greene and LeCarre. What do you think?