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J.F.Penn "Author of thrillers on the edge" (London, England)

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The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?
The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?
by Seth Godin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art Isn't A Result. It's A Journey., 31 Dec 2012
I was part of Seth's Kickstarter so I bought this early, and reading is has totally fired me up to commit to creating and sharing my own art.

There were many parts of the book that resonated with me, but in combination with Steven Pressfield's Turning Pro, the message is really to pick yourself, and persist at the practice of creation.
"Creating art is a habit, one that we practice daily or hourly until we get good at it ... Art isn't about the rush of victory that comes from being picked. Nor does it involve compliance. Art in the post-industrial age is a lifelong habit, a stepwise process that incrementally allows us to create more art."

This book is useful for writers, but I would also urge parents to read it in order to understand the world your children are growing up in.The industrial world is disappearing. The old world of standardized exams, tick-box education and guaranteed jobs won't be there for much longer, and people need to be creative to survive the future. But more than that, life's too short to spend it doing something that isn't rewarding. So aim to thrive and not just survive.

I spent 13 years as an IT consultant, a miserable cubicle worker, rewarding myself with sugar and alcohol in order to make it through each day. In September 2011, I finally broke out of that old life, and I couldn't be happier. Sure, I have less money now, fewer trappings of (so-called) worldly success, but I am making my art, and this feels like real life.

I know some of you are struggling around the same issues, so as you move into 2013, I would recommend reading "The Icarus Deception" for some inspiration.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 23, 2013 9:03 PM BST


No Witnesses To Nothing
No Witnesses To Nothing
Price: £1.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly detailed and rooted in personal experience, 16 Dec 2012
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Two things strike me about this crime-thriller that make it original and compelling.

(1) The incredible detail that comes from Garry Rodgers' personal experience as a coroner and Mountie. His knowledge oozes from the page and you know the story is rooted in truth. The sense of place is also excellent.

(2) The dialogue and the voices of the characters ring true. There is dialect for some and distinctive slang for others. I loved reading that as it sounds so different from what I am used to in England or even the American slang we hear on TV. It's not overdone though, just tempered enough to sound real and make the characters come alive.

Whether you believe in the soul, or spiritual elements of evil, this is a fascinating thriller. My only issue was that it was too long for me, but then that is a personal reading choice. For those who like to languish in a story, it will definitely satisfy.


APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book
APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book
Price: £6.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great to see the focus on the entrepreneur, 13 Dec 2012
Most books on self-publishing focus on the publishing side of things, but this book does a great job of explaining the entrepreneurial angle as well, which many authors lack (and often have no desire to investigate!)

I particularly liked:
* "artisanal" publishing as reframing the self-publishing stigma as hand-made carefully, with love, instead of mass-produced
* the positive focus on self-publishers/ indie authors as empowered and steering their own ship, determining their own fate - that's the attitude of a start-up and an entrepreneur
* the open-ness and honesty around how hard it is to self-publish an excellent, quality product - this is not a get-rich-quick scheme
* practical tips for how authors can connect to readers - although I thought the focus was on non-fiction primarily (which the authors specialize in, so fair enough!)

I've been self-publishing for 4 years now and I still learned some things from this book, with 90 highlights in my Kindle copy. It's a great primer for newbies but also a refresher for those of us with some experience. There's always more to learn!


The Secret Keeper
The Secret Keeper
Price: £3.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story, great twist ending, 12 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Secret Keeper (Kindle Edition)
Kate's books are characterized by a combination of points of view, timelines and plot twists. I enjoyed the mystery of who Dorothy used to be, and the poignancy of her grown-up daughter searching for the truth of an event that had happened years before.
There's a fantastic twist at the end, which I didn't see it coming, which is always gratifying as a reader.


Write a Bestselling Thriller: Teach Yourself Strategies to Get Your Book Published
Write a Bestselling Thriller: Teach Yourself Strategies to Get Your Book Published
by Matthew Branton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.03

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of writing a thriller, 10 Dec 2012
Disclosure: I received a free copy from the publisher.

This book is an excellent primer to the thriller genre, using some big name authors to help explain the concepts. I particularly enjoyed the breakdown of James Patterson's Roses Are Red which highlighted the techniques of the author and how others can emulate the plotting style.
At heart "a thriller is a mystery which pushes jeopardy to the end of the line", it cranks up the stakes and everything must go wrong for the protagonist who must keep fighting until the end. I found the deeper look at human values interesting and the way in which character should develop, as well as how to create twists within the plot.
A useful book for the thriller writer's toolbox.


The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life (Official UK Edition)
The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life (Official UK Edition)
by Timothy Ferriss
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.17

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic for meta-learning and cooking, 30 Nov 2012
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I'm a long-time Tim Ferriss fan and my life has been changed by all the books, so buying this in print and Kindle format was a no-brainer for me. I'm not disappointed! The meta-learning information is an entire book in itself, and for anyone interested in self-improvement it is a must-read. Breaking skills down into component parts, understanding the aspects that are under-appreciated, understanding stakes. These skills can transform something you want to learn into something achievable in a much shorter time than would have been possible.
I particularly found the 'DiSS' and 'Cafe' principles helpful, as well as the questions for breaking down any language to make learning accessible.
Other gems - the swimming info as I have never been able to crawl, now I have somewhere to start, plus I'm actually going to try cooking some of the dishes, and shopping based on the easy gear sections. Awesome book. One to dip in and out of, but certainly buy for the meta-learning chapters.


Buccaneer- A Dane Maddock Adventure (Dane Maddock Adventures Book 5)
Buccaneer- A Dane Maddock Adventure (Dane Maddock Adventures Book 5)
Price: £2.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fast-paced romp through sunken treasure maps, hidden Templar churches and a secret organization, 22 Nov 2012
David Wood delivers again with a fast-paced romp through sunken treasure maps, hidden Templar churches and a secret organization that wants to resurrect an ancient kingdom. Dane Maddock and his sidekick Bones wisecrack their way through adventure, aided by Angel and Avery, two strong women who bring a romantic spin to this action-adventure chase. I loved the Cornish citadel with dragons guarding it and the echoes of Arthurian legend. Fantastic!


WIRED
WIRED
Price: £4.03

5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put this technothriller down, 21 Nov 2012
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This review is from: WIRED (Kindle Edition)
This is a brilliant, intelligent technothriller that combines a fast-paced plot with philosophy and a touch of quantum physics. As an addict of neuroscience and thrillers, this satisfied me on every reader level and I immediately bought the sequel. David Desh left the special forces after a horrific experience in Iraq but he takes on a mission to find Kira Miller, a suspected terrorist who has discovered a way to enhance intelligence. But when Kira kidnaps David and reveals she is the persecuted one at the centre of a plot, he joins forces with her on a breakneck ride to stop the bad guys and save the world - I love this stuff! There were lots of twists and excellent high stakes moments when I couldn't guess how they would get out of the situation. Recommended for fans of Daniel Suarez Daemon and other great technothrillers.


Two Brothers
Two Brothers
Price: £3.66

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brutal history from an interesting perspective, 15 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Two Brothers (Kindle Edition)
Two boys are born on the same day as the new Nazi party, brought up as twins, although one is born as a Jew and one is adopted into the Jewish family. The book traces their life in parallel to the descent of the German state into genocide. I found this a fascinating take on the experience of the Jews in Berlin, and the characters of Frieda and Wolfgang are particularly good. Some of the book was also confusing, and difficult to believe (no spoilers) but then again, at that time of history, truth was stranger than fiction. The author's note on how his family history sparked the story makes it all the more moving, and I bought this after visiting the mass grave of the Budapest ghetto, so it was particularly resonant. Thanks Ben for a good story that makes you think.


The Knife Man: Blood, Body-snatching and the Birth of Modern Surgery
The Knife Man: Blood, Body-snatching and the Birth of Modern Surgery
Price: £5.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, detailed book about John Hunter, 30 Oct 2012
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After a visit to the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, London, I bought this book and became riveted by Hunter's story. I knew nothing about the history of surgery or how recent our modern health understanding is. The descriptions of the barbaric operations as well as the experiments on living animals are pretty grisly, but the insights are fantastic. Definitely a great read.


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