Book review – for readers and writers – no.134: Morgen Bailey reviews Not a Star by Nick Hornby

Today’s book review of a novella is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. I am booked up months in advance though. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know. If you would like help with your writing, do take a look at my online creative writing courses are currently half price.

Not a Star by Nick Hornby

Not a starSynopsis: It’s bad enough for a mother to discover that her son is a porn star, even worse when the nosy neighbours new first. When Lynn sees her son Mark in an adult film, she is forced to ask many difficult questions. How well does she know her son? Where did he get his obvious talent? And how will she tell his father? There are some things a mother should never know…

This novella is available via or

I’ve taken a photo of the cover I had as the ones online are quite boring by comparison! This was an ‘Open Door’ Shortlist book which “are selected to appeal not only to emergent readers but to anyone wanting a quick, powerful and fast-paced read. Was this book one of those? Read on to find out…

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Book review – for readers and writers – no.133: Morgen Bailey reviews A Twisted Bard’s Tale by Selena Kitt

Today’s book review of a single short story is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. I am booked up months in advance though. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

A Twisted Bard’s Tale by Selena Kitt

A Twisted Bard's TaleSynopsis: Did you ever wonder what started the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues? Check out this naughty version of Romeo and Juliet — you’ll be surprised and delighted by this twisted Bard’s tale!

This eBook is available via and

Review (of the eBook via my Kindle’s text-to-speech function)

I’ve had this on my Kindle for a while and was looking forward to reading this story, not because I am a fan of Shakespeare (which I’m not – sorry if you are), but because I did Romeo and Juliet at school and wanted to see this take on it.

Other than the dialogue which felt authentic, the story itself is fairly modern, which I liked.

What happened throughout this story, which is hinted at in the warning at the beginning of the book, was a surprise indeed and I can see how it could have led to the events that we are all familiar with.

Apart from the love scenes, some of which were very Fifty Shades of Grey, it was well written.

And now for writers:

– Be careful with nouns. In this story we have, ‘The Lady Montague had come dressed for an outing – her long gown sweeping the floor, her full breasts pressed up as an offering in a tightly laced bodice. Their hands found one another…’ although the reader will know that their refers to the two women, because the author has just mentioned breasts (a noun), technically it could mean the breasts’ hands!

– I have mentioned this a few times in these reviews… in most cases there is no need to write ‘began to’ or ‘started to’ when something or someone is doing something, i.e. ‘began to unfasten’, ‘began to sink’, ‘began to lift’ when the action isn’t interrupted.


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Author Spotlight no.106 – Barbara Barth

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and sixth, is of Barbara Barth.

Barbara Barth is an author, antique dealer, and dog whisperer. She lives with six rescue dogs from her local animal shelters.

Her business card reads “Writer With Dogs”. It is a title she wears proudly.  She launched a one-issue online dog magazine dedicated to animal rescue and vintage dog art Dec 2010. Her book launch was a fundraiser for Animal Action Rescue with all proceeds donated to the group.

Barbara credits dogs as part of her healing process after her husband died four years ago. Her memoir “The Unfaithful Widow” follows her first year as a widow in a series of essays that include a vintage Corvette, bad dates leading to good things, the best group of girlfriends, and a bevy of dogs. Her memoir placed as a finalist in the 2011 USA Best Book Awards.

Barth recently closed her small antique shop but still sells collectibles from an antique mall in a small southern town close to her home. She promotes other writers with a writing guild, critique group, and an online Book Talk site.

A member of the Dog Writers Association of America, and an online blogger for Lifetime Television’s The Balancing Act, you will find Barbara writing most days at her computer surrounded by a group of lazy pups napping nearby.

And now from the author herself:

I’ve always been a storyteller. In fact, many of my friends thought I should be a stand up comic. The problem is, while I am funny in small groups, I lack the confidence to stand in front of a crowd and talk. Writing takes care of that problem for me!

After my husband died, I found myself sending horrible e-mails to friends at god-awful hours late at night. Then I’d turn on music and relax. Within an hour, I’d send a follow-up e-mail saying, “never mind”.

I decided to channel that sadness and energy into writing. What started out as a way to clear my mind became a way of life. I found I loved writing.

After the initial outpouring of emotion, I had to pull my story together to make it readable. I had much to learn.

“Does the period go inside or outside the quotation marks?” I didn’t have a clue. As a reader I never paid attention to structure. I was not an English major. I did my research and soon became armed and dangerous to continue.

A New York Times Best Seller Author critiqued the beginning of my book at a writer’s conference.

“Barbara, you’ve killed your husband off three times in twenty pages. No one will care. They want to know what you are doing now. Why did you start to date so soon?”

I was crushed and embarrassed. When I read her notes later, I realized she liked my writing. It clicked in my head what she meant. I knew how to pull my story together.

My memoir “The Unfaithful Widow” turned out to be a funny book full of all the things I never thought I’d do again. No subject is taboo. It is a series of essays pulled together under the single theme of finding joy again.

I am currently working on my widow sequel, but widow won’t be in the title. I do want to share all the goodness that has followed my first year and how I have found a creative niche for myself.

If I can do it, you can do it. That is my message. Except, do it your way. We each are different in how we deal with life.

I still buy and sell antiques. It is hard to find a white space on my wall for all the vintage art. I rarely go on second dates. I need to loose weight. I am a dog hoarder. I write about these simple things on many women’s sites.

“My life is an open book.” That quote applies to me.

At a recent book club meeting I was asked, “Aren’t you afraid someone will talk about you?” I do write under my own name.

I laughed. “No. I’ve already said it all myself!”

There is a great freedom in sharing your heart with others if you are true to what you believe. I write from the heart and am grateful my audience enjoys my tall tales on life.

You can find more about Barbara and her writing via…

Author web: http://www.barbarabarth.netDog MagazineAmazon on paperback, also available on KindleHelen Ross Writes review from AustraliaBook Talk Blog for authors and interesting writing sitesLifetime Television The Balancing Act blog site. Readers can contact me directly: and on Facebook.


The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with erotica author Elizabeth Cage – the four hundred and forty-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.