I picked The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary more than six months ago from the airport bookstore and carried it with me during my travels last year. But when I finally started reading it earlier this month, I knew it was a mistake.
Tiffy Moore has just been dumped (again) and wants to move out of Justin’s house ASAP. Despite what her friends say, she has hope that Justin will ask her to take him back. But at the same time, she knows this has happened far too many times, now.
Leon Twomey is a nurse who works night shifts. His brother has been wrongly accused of a robbery and is in jail. Leon needs urgent cash flow to get him acquitted.
And a flatshare made sense for both of them. Leon will use the flat during the day, when Tiffy is at work and vice versa. It sounds perfect in paper,right? What could go wrong?
For starters, emotionally abusive boyfriends, trips in search of a long lost lover, and the work schedule. But how long can they go without meeting forms the rest of The Flatshare.
My initial thoughts
The Flatshare is a well written romance with great characters and witty humor. But what I loved about this book was how it talked about emotional abuse – keeping it real and without being preachy.
I loved Tiffy’s arc especially. Initially she would not even stand a criticizing comment about Justin from her friends. But she slowly understood how he was gaslighting her and had been emotionally abusive and manipulating her. ALL BY HERSELF, with a bit of help from her ever supporting friends. And for once, the male protagonist was not her savior.
Leon was just a perfect sweetheart. He is an introvert who loves helping everyone, even going out of his way to do so. In fact, he spends his free time to help an aged patient to find his family. He is on first name basis with his younger patients who seem to know more about him than himself.
I loved Gerty, Mo and Rachel. And Richie. They were colorful and well developed, making it a treat to read about them.
Things that worked for me
The Flatshare is just more than a romance, even when it has a cute love story in it.
The characters. From Tiffy to Holly, were well written and adorable.
I loved how the emotional abuse was portrayed, without making it all about the guy.
Things that didn’t work for me
I know this is a weak point but the flatshare arrangement without even meeting each other sounds too unrealistic right? Or is it just me? (It was not a deal breaker, though)
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary is a fun romance with British humor that deals with heavy subjects like emotional abuse, gaslighting and friendships. Pick it up if you are a newbie reader or someone trying to get off a slump.
Let us chat
Have you read The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary? What did you think of this one? Can you recommend other British romances that has witty humor Let us talk.
Are you a new reader who wants to kick start the reading habit? Or you may be returning to reading books for pleasure after a long gap? Either way if you are looking for book recommendations, I got you covered.
My criteria for this starter pack for new readers would be books that are
funny and romantic
thrillers and horrors
adapted into Series/movies
Non fiction / self help books
Books to kick start the reading habit
Let us get on with my recommendations, shall we?
1) A Man called Ove by Fredrik Backman
This is one of those heartwarming books that would bring a smile to your cold heart.
Ove is a mean, grumpy and opinionated old man, who looks forward to the day he would join his late wife, Sonja. What happens to this grumpy old man when he unwillingly meets his messy neighbors, forms the rest of the story.
Red, White & Royal Blue is such a cute, sweet and funny LGBTQA romance that will definitely keep your lock down sorrows go away.
The sons of the first families of The USA and the UK hate each other dislike each other and the world knows it. The first families and their PRs decide to intervene and stage a fake Instagram relationship. What starts as a fake friendship between them blossoms into something more.
Satoru and his feral cat Nana, have settled into a comfortable companionship. But Satoru suddenly decides to give away Nana and they embark on a journey to find a suitable home among his friends. Read The Travelling Cat Chronicles to join the duo on their travel through Japan and Satoru’s childhood memories!
The Travelling Cat Chronicles is a feel good book, with a bittersweet ending. Be prepared to cry, laugh and snicker throughout!
Maddy led a very sheltered life all through her life due to her illness. She has never stepped out of her house in years and her mother and her nurse are the only one she interacts with. Them and her book blog. Until a new family moves to their neighborhood.
You might like this short YA romance with a twist you wouldn’t see coming!
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is one of those rare movie adaptation that was as good as the book. The story revolves around Lara Jean, an introvert who writes letters to her crushes to get it out of her system. Unexpectedly those get delivered to all those boys and hilarity ensues.
This Young Adult book and its movie adaptation took everyone by a storm. You will love it if you are looking for a cute romance with teenage angst!
Dimple Shah has ambitious plans for her life and has been accepted to Stanford. But her parents have other plans for her. Dimple ambushed by her parents hates Rishi even before she gets a chance to know him. Does her opinion about Rishi changes after she knows him better?
When Dimple Met Rishi is a cute YA contemporary romance that would make you grin in all the right places.
Dr. Anna Fox’s daily routine includes drinking a lot of wine while being highly medicated, watching retro movies and peeking into her neighbours’ house through their windows.
But when she sees something untoward happening at her neighbors’ she has no grounds to report about it. How she proves that she did not hallucinate and finds out the culprit form the rest of the story in The Woman in the Window.
The Woman in the Window will keep you occupied and might even turn to be unputdownable. With the movie version coming before the end of the year, you might wanna read it already.
Stuck between the two worlds and parents who have different views about their lives, Starr feels an outsider in both places. Starr understands her lives are universes apart and has never had to choose between them – until the fateful night, her unarmed friend Khalil gets shot by a cop in front of her eyes.
Should she remain silent, as her mother and uncle want her to be, and save herself from the wrath of the public and her own peers at school? Or should she put her life in danger, give a voice to the cause that may lead nowhere?
The Hate U Give is essentially a coming of age story in the present American scenario, dealing with racism, bullying and violence. It is inspired by the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, obviously but is much more than that.
It is an honest account of a strong black family that has nothing to do with the gangs or drugs but is put to trial because of their skin colour.
Set in not so distant dystopian future, women have lost all that they won in the recent past, at least partially – the ability to chose what they wore, what they did for life or even handle money. They are forbidden from reading, writing and even speaking freely.
Their existence is based on their functionality – the wives (in charge of the household), the helps (Marthas), the teachers (Aunts), the wombs (Handmaids), the sexual toys ( Jezebels) and the outcasts (Unwoman) are sent to Colonies where they are left to harvest cotton or clean up the radioactive waste.
Offred, our narrator, a handmaid belongs to Fred, who is on her third and final attempt to conceive a child with a government appointed ‘Commander.’
Offred falls for Nick, the Guardian for the commander, a crime that could lead them both to be publicly hung. Was the risk worth taking? Did she learn anything about her family? Read to know more.
The Handmaid’s Tale might be a little hard to get into, yet once you are into it, you can not stop it. You can not read The Handmaid’s Tale as a breeze through the weekend. You can not unsee once you have been to the Republic of Gilead and not relate it to the real world.
The book follows the journeys of a young shepherd boy on his search for ancient treasure. The philosophical theme that ‘the universe conspires to help us achieve things we want’ is well written and shines through.
This simple and brief fable took the world by storm when it came out. The message is still relevant today. And perfect for someone who wants to kick start the reading habit.
What do you think about my choices? Would you recommend these books to someone who wants to start the reading habit? If you are someone who is starting the reading habit just now, let me know what you choose. Let us talk.
Satoru finds a feral cat with a crooked tail resting on his silver van and begins feeding it, regularly. They settle into an understanding that he would get to pet the cat for food. But then, the cat meets with an accident and it is Satoru that nurses him back. One thing leads to another, he adopts the cat and names him Nana, much to the indignation of the cat!
Nana and Satoru settle into a comfortable companionship. After a few years, Satoru decides to give away Nana and they embark on a journey to find a suitable home among his friends. Read The Travelling Cat Chronicles to join the duo on their travel through Japan and Satoru’s childhood memories!
My initial thoughts
I LOVED THIS BOOK – there I said it! It might made me laugh. Had me heartbroken. Once I even got frowned upon for letting out a chuckle while on the treadmill at the gym. Despite having guessed the climax, I was not prepared for it. I didn’t want the book to end but I am glad it ended the way it did.
Our cat Nana, is feisty, snarky and funny as a cat can be (sorry, Garfield). There are multiple POVs but I obviously, loved Nana’s version the best. His overconfident attitude and voice was how I imagined how pets to be like. Great work with the translation. I was able to feel how South East Asian the story was, yet could relate to it, cat lover or not.
Things that worked for me
The easy writing style hooked me right from the beginning.
It has a perfect balance between funny and heart breaking.
The book didn’t feel like a translated work at all, and kudos to the translator!
Things that didn’t work for me
The plot is pretty predictable and don’t look for anything “intense”.
The Travelling Cat Chronicles is a feel good book, with a bittersweet ending. Be prepared to cry, laugh and snicker throughout!
Let us chat
Have you read this one? Have you read any other pet related books? If so which one would you recommend? Let us talk.
If you like these posts, you might take a look at our previous trips to France, Italy, Finland and Philippines here. Join us on our arm chair travels!
Hi there everyone!! My name is Maureen and I’m a Book Blogger on Maureen’s Books. I’m 29 years old, and I life with my husband and baby girl in the Netherlands. Next to being a Book Blogger, I’m a Nurse in a teaching hospital.
Thank you Gayathri for inviting me to share my country with you and your friends here at ElgeeWrites. I think it’s a great idea to share our different countries with each other. Especially since there are so many prejudices out there that just aren’t true. The things I read and hear about The Netherlands, or also sometimes called Holland, for example.
We all wear wooden shoes, ride our bicycles every day, we are all very tall and have used drugs at least once! Well.. Let me help you all out of that dream. I’ve only worn wooden shoes once for a picture when I was little, I haven’t used my bicycle in at least a year and half, I’m only 163 cm (I think that’s about 5 ft 3) and I have never used any sort of drugs.
Here in the Netherland we definitely do have our very own traditions. For one we celebrate Kings Day (here called Koningsdag) every year on April 27th. It’s a national holiday here. On this day we celebrate our King’s birthday (and before him it was called Queens day) with all kinds of parties throughout the country.
Children wake up early to sell stuff on little markets, and there is music and food everywhere. There are also many little book stalls, so for us bookish people it’s also a great day Everyone is dressed in Orange (because the Dutch Royal Family is from the House of Orange-Nassau), there are Dutch flags everywhere and it’s just a very fun day. In fact it’s my favorite holiday next to Christmas. I love it!
Also a fun fact: every day on Kings Day the King and his family visit a town here in the Netherlands and celebrate the day in that town and its people. It’s also shown on television.
Another sort of tradition here in the Netherlands is football and ice skating. It’s kind of a big thing around here. Especially football, although we haven’t been very good at it lately! Every time there is European Championship or a World Championship we all go a little crazy. Every supermarket is promoting football by making some kind of silly souvenir. And the streets are even a lot quieter when there is a big game playing.
Here in the Netherlands we eat stuff from every part of the world. Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, Italian, French.. you name it and we eat something from that cuisine at least once a month. But we do have some stuff that is really ‘Dutch’.
And my favorite is definitely called stamppot. Stamppot is basically mashed potatoes with some kind of vegetable. Two of my favorite stamppots are ‘Boerenkool’, mashed potatoes with kale, and ‘andijviestamppot, mashed potatoes with endive. I can eat that every single day. Unfortunately my husband doesn’t like it so much, so I don’t eat it much.
Another really dutch thing are Bitterballen. And boy are they taste. Bitterballen are deep fried crispy meatballs. And I don’t think they are really healthy for your, so I don’t eat them a lot. But during summer I love eating Bitterballen while drinking a glass of wine on a nice terrace. Yummy.
Although we sure have many restaurants, and we have the major fast food joints like McDonalds and KFC, I rarely eat there. I mostly cook dinner at home every day. It’s much cheaper, I enjoy cooking and eating out is more special if you don’t do it a lot, I think.
A Typical Day in the Netherlands
How does a typical day in the Netherlands look? Well, the first thing that comes to my mind is rainy and cold. Although the weather has gotten warmer these last view years, it still rains a lot here, and it doesn’t get very warm. A rain coat is definitely not a luxury around here.
Another thing that came to mind was traffic jams. We are a small country, but we have a lot of citizens. So the roads are often very busy, and there are a lot of traffic jams. Unfortunately traffic jams are a daily hassle for me. I go to work by car every day, and I stand in a traffic jam almost every single day. Blegh..
Like I said before, there are many stereotypes about Dutch people. It’s been said that we Dutch people are high on drugs a lot, since soft drug is legalized here. Well, although I would be able to get marihuana easily around here, I have never used it and don’t plan on using it ever. I honestly don’t think any of my friends and family use drugs regularly.
I think the fact it’s legal here, makes it uninteresting for a lot of people. So it’s nothing big here. The Dutch ‘drugs’ stereotype is used a lot in movies and tv series and I really hate that. Just as with the red light district in Amsterdam. Come on.. It’s one street that doesn’t mean we have prostitutes everywhere!! I also don’t think every American is like Trump. Just don’t judge! 🙂
Another stereotype about us is that we are ‘cheap’ around here. Well, I guess that’s probably true. If we can get something for free we’ll get it. Supermarkets and stores advertise with sales almost all the time and giving tips to waiters and mailmen etc. isn’t something that’s common here.
The last stereotype I hear a lot about Dutch people is that we are direct. And that one is also true I think. We don’t beat around the bush and we aren’t very hysterical people. For example when I see people going crazy wild about a famous person on TV, I know for sure it’s not here. They are just people like us right? And the funny meme here also proves it.. And yes, this is actually true!!
I have been reading books in English from when I was twelve years old. So I honestly don’t know much about Dutch authors and books. Obviously I hear stuff about Dutch Authors and books on TV and on the radio but I haven’t read many. I have read some Dutch children’s books while growing up, and I still own them.
My favorite Dutch Childrens books are written by Carrie Slee. Her books are mostly based on teens and a lot of her books are made into movies. I also loved the books by Paul van Loon. His books are more ‘scary’ and I adored them growing up.
Our National Language
Here in the Netherlands we speak Dutch, or as we call it Nederlands. Dutch, not Deutsch!! Deutsch is the national language of Germany. And although apparently our languages are very much alike.. I can understand it a little but definitely can’t speak it. Danish is also a little like Dutch. Some words are the same, but I also can’t speak a word Danish.
There are a lot of words in Dutch that are almost the same in English. For example:
Tomato = Tomaat
Apple = Appel
Pear = Peer
Banana = Banaan
And, I had to look this one up, we have one word that has no translation in English. It’s ‘gezellig’, And it’s a word we use a lot. This is what’s being said about our word ‘gezellig’:
Situations can begezellig, as can people and places – it’s an adjective, the noun beinggezelligheid. If something isgezellig, it is familiar, warm, friendly, cozy, and jovial. For example, enjoying a cozy dinner with old-friends in one of your favorite, quaint, little restaurants with some tasty food and wine isgezellig; being in a meeting at work is notgezellig!
Some important Dutch words and sentences for us bookish people are:
Bookstore = Boekenwinkel
Reading = Lezen
Where can I find the nearest Bookstore? = Waar kan ik de dichtstbijzijnde boekenwinkel vinden?
Do you sell “…” = Verkoopt u ook “..”
But one thing we Dutch people are mostly very good at is speaking English. Not everyone speaks or writes it fluently but most people can speak English pretty well. So if you come to visit and don’t speak any Dutch? No worries, we can understand you.
And that’s probably in short what I can tell you about our small country of The Netherlands. Who knows maybe some of you get to visit our pretty little country one day?! And to end things in Dutch:
‘Dankjewel Gayathri voor deze leuke kans.’(Thank you, Gayathri for this fun opportunity.)
Thank you Maureen!
Thanks Maureen for your time and sharing with us a glimpse of your Dutch life. You can contact here through her blog and social accounts.
As an indie author it is critical to choose the best cover for your book. This we have Rob discussing about this topic with us.
Say hello to Rob!
Rob Keeley was born in Wirral, Merseyside, UK. Writing his first story aged seven, his first short play aged eleven and first being published at fifteen, he wrote for several magazines before his first book for children, The Alien in the Garage and Other Stories, was published in 2011.
He has since written two more collections of children’s stories, one of which, The Dinner Club and Other Stories, was longlisted for the International Rubery Book Award. He has now published all five novels in his Spirits series, the first of which, Childish Spirits, gained him a Distinction for his MA in Creative Writing before being longlisted for the Bath Children’s Novel Award and nominated for the People’s Book Prize in 2015.
He has recently studied Screenwriting and Filmmaking, has been a judge for the IGGY and Litro Young Writers’ Prize and is a Patron of the Children’s Media Foundation. His books have been used in schools, libraries and at literary festivals and he is in demand for his author workshops, which one teacher even described as “inspirational”!
Let’s get on with it shall we?
“Never judge a book by its cover”. That has to be up there with “The camera never lies” as one of those old adages that doesn’t really stand up to close scrutiny. Everyone judges a book by its cover, metaphorically and in the literal (and literary) sense.
When readers shop for books, whether in bricks and mortar bookshops or online, the first thing that catches the eye is the front cover. Even if it’s a book or series title they know, they’ll be relying on the cover to entice them, to draw them in, to promise a thrilling reading journey, destination unknown.
And if you need proof, look at those empty boxes on websites where the cover isn’t available yet or hasn’t yet been uploaded. How bland and uninviting do those book entries look? Which is why it’s so important for every author, and especially the indie author in creative control of their book, to get the cover right.
It’s not easy, for the indie author. We can be completely on our own, uploading our books directly to the Internet, with only limited numbers of templates or fonts at our disposal. Even those of us who work with a designer or an indie publishing company – and there are some brilliant, talented ones out there – can’t necessarily afford (or access) an illustrator and have to work with what software options are available.
Of all my books for children, only my picture book My Favourite People has so far had the luxury of an illustrator. My novels and short story collections all made use of stock photos from the Net, which have to be bought and licensed by the author or by the designer acting on their behalf. And finding the right picture to illustrate your work isn’t always easy.
I discovered this with The Dinner Club and Other Stories, when I spent a whole afternoon looking at stock photos of fish and chips, in order to find one that reflected a child’s home dinner with his grandmother. And what did everyone, but everyone (even the judges who longlisted it for an award!) later say to me? It looks like a cookbook! Young readers thought otherwise, however – as will be seen below.
So we have to work within our budgets, and with whatever we can get. But perhaps this forces us to be all the more creative. It can even feed back into the text of our books. With The (Fairly) Magic Show I changed the card found by a child in the title story from the King of Clubs to the King of Spades, simply because we’d found a brilliant photo of a pile of cards with this on top.
Sometimes a talented designer can change an ordinary stock photo into something magical and memorable. The graveyard of The Spirit of London became this, simply by adding a sunlight effect. On High Spirits, the one that won the award by the way, we changed a stock Grim Reaper hooded spirit into the Doppelganger of the book simply by adding some smoke and a few energy beams to reflect the climax of the novel.
The imagination is the only barrier to being creative with what we have. Ask any child who builds entire worlds from building bricks or cardboard boxes. And in my case, they’re my readers.
With all communication, the fundamental question to ask yourself is: who is my target audience? And going on from that, what do they want to see, read or hear? With my novels and short stories, I always visualise the intelligent 9-12 year old, reading a book at school or home, or having it read to them, wanting to be informed, inspired, but above all, entertained!
And therefore, the cover has to reflect this, being as colourful, exciting and intriguing as possible. It’s not a bad ground rule for novels for adults, either. The image should complement the title and reinforce it, while both perhaps pose questions that the reader will want answered. Anything and everything to make them want to read.
Sometimes the meaning of the cover and its image won’t become clear until the book is read – as with the ruined world on the cover of The Sword of the Spirit, or the door on The Alien in the Garage. And an added complication these days is that the cover has to be easily adaptable to different formats – paperback, ebook or audiobook. Childish Spirits, the first Spirits novel, is currently being recorded as an audiobook, which has meant reformatting its cover from portrait to square – the shape traditionally used for CDs.
As we’ve seen, we can start with the everyday and make something extraordinary out of it. Sometimes the reaction from the young reader can surprise even the author. The Dinner Club, following its “cookbook” criticisms, went on to inspire reluctant readers I worked with at one school to create their own Dinner Club, with the help of their teachers, in which they were granted an early lunch, ate fish and chips and discussed books and their writing. A cover image did that. Not even the book – its cover. This shows the importance of getting the cover right and tailoring it to its target audience.
Children’s authors should also remember that it isn’t necessarily about doing a “wacky” or “kiddie” cover. I’ve had criticisms – from adults, always from adults – that my covers look “too grown up”. Childish Spirits was one such novel, with its spooky abandoned nursery and ghostly portrait, yet in one school workshop a group of children solemnly claimed they could see extra ghosts in the doorway and next to the curtain. (Have a look. Can you?)
None of them seemed to think that this book wasn’t for them. And all of them were engaged and stimulated as readers by what they saw. No one ever said that children’s books were just for children, either. It’s worth remembering that Harry Potter was published with children’s and adult covers – and that it’s adults who are frequently the buyers of children’s literature.
How do we design a good cover?
I’m sure that whole books could be devoted to this alone, but here are a few pointers I’ve picked up along the way:
Keep your target audience in mind constantly. What do they want to see – and read?
Basic background colour is important. You know your text better than anyone – what “colour” is it? A dark fantasy story could call for black. A light-hearted romance might benefit from white. White can also be sinister – especially if some blood appears. Children are attracted by bright colours. And so on.
Choose the best possible image from the best source available on your budget. It should be something that captures the essence of your story and/or characters, perhaps obviously, perhaps less so until the book is read.
Choose a font that reflects the style of your story, its title and what your audience wants to see. A computerised, businesslike font might look good on a business studies book but less so on your middle-grade fantasy novel.
Lay everything out clearly, attractively and don’t clutter your front cover.
If you have review quotes from previous books, or an advance review for this one, try and get at least one quote on the cover, if this can be done comfortably without cluttering. Give the source, and make it clear which book it refers to – e.g. “On High Spirits:”. And of course, make sure you’re authorised to reproduce this material! Check with the reviewer if there’s any doubt. Reviews might show up better on printed covers than electronic-only. And if you can’t fit a review on the printed front cover – there’s always the back!
The finished front cover should ideally be adaptable to different formats and media. You might get the chance at paperback, ebook and audiobook – as I now have. A good designer can advise you here.
So, a suitably intriguing and attention-grabbing cover can engage the reader, young or old. It simply has to be right for the story, for the characters, and above all, for your audience. And once you get them past the cover? Then you, as the author, can work your magic.
If you have something to add to Rob’s story, drop a comment here or send him a word of thanks on the social media. Both of us would love that.Also, if you are interested in writing a guest post for the independent publishing community, write to me right away. I am still accepting guest post submissions.
Let us chat
As a reader, what kinda covers put you off a book? As an author, what are the things that you look out when you chose your book cover? Tell us about your experience with choosing your book covers. Let us talk.