Having set up a copywriting consultancy and banging on a fair old bit about the importance of clear communication, solid strategy and forward thinking in business, Marilyn felt obliged to put her money where her mouth was. So she wrote the Little Black Business Book series.
She subsequently found herself working on several book projects with different clients and felt, the least she could do, was gain scars and the t-shirt for herself. Hence Relatively Strange, which came out at the end of 2013, followed by the sequel, Even Stranger in 2016. Her new novel Witch Dust is a stand alone.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Full Text: I love interesting characters and this book is full of them. Upfront though, I will say that I had not realized this was a 2nd book in a series. Even though there's recapping here and there, I think I would have enjoyed it better having finished the first book first. There's simply too many places where plot elements from the first book appear relevant to the current point in this story. So go get the first book and read it now. As it says in the synopsis, Stella has an unusual talent that tends to be more trouble than it's worth. At this point in her life (the second book), she's done with the getting by lifestyle. And starts her own business. With the unsolicited help of her 88 year old grandmother. One of the aforementioned interesting characters. It's a service business. Simply, need help doing something? She will help you. Whether it's driving a kid to work, helping with secretarial work, or finding something. She's there to help! One of the things I liked about this book that others might not, there's more than one "conflict" in the book. Most times there's a single event that drives the plot. This one has about three if I recall correctly. It was a very enjoyable read and now I must go find the first book and catch up! And mark Marilyn Messick as an author to watch for the next chapter in Stella's world. Thank you to the publisher for the free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
by Megan Dodson
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Full Text: This is book two in this new series and, although there is a bit of a catch-up to be found at the start as well as a few joggers throughout the book, it really is best to have read the first book before starting this one as there is a whole lot of character development and backstory that, if known, will enhance the reading experience of this one. And, it's a great book in itself so why not! So, we pick up Stella pretty much where we left her at the end of book one. She has mostly left the Strange behind her apart from a few dalliances when necessary (some of which are rather amusing) and we follow her through a succession of "interesting" jobs until, one day, at a family gathering, she drops the bombshell that she intends to start her own business. A kind of "helping hands" agency and, to Stella's surprise, Aunt Kitty supports her. Not only that, she also decides that she will be Stella's assistant to boot! All ticks along quite nicely until, one day, who should turn up at the office but Glory with Ed in tow. Stella thought (hoped) she had left those days behind her. What does Glory want this time? Will Stella agree to help? Does she even have a choice? Is that box firmly on the shelf or can Stella bear to open it once again and if she does it this one time, where will it end? As the book goes on, we find out that Stella is more than capable of getting herself into a pickle without any help from Glory et al, and my heart was literally in my mouth several times as I was reading. As with the previous book, there are some wonderful one-liners, often taking me back down memory lane (to Friday at five to five for one!) and with some of the action being very high octane, I was very thankful for these periods of respite and light relief. I did get some strange looks from my brother whilst I was reading cos I have to admit to giggling on more than a couple of occasions! This author really does know how to balance a book with regard to a reader's emotional turmoil! As with the author's first book, this one is filled to the brim with wonderful characters. Nasty or nice, they are all very well described and fleshed out. Very easy to emote with / relate to which I do need in a good read. I especially loved Kat the dog. If Stella ever feels she can't take care of her any more, I'd love to have her in my family! And Stella, oh Stella, I really love her. There are characters that you warm to immediately and really wish they were real and Stella is definitely in my top five. I'd love to have a coffee and a cake with her and get to know her properly! I found this book incredibly hard to put down, I read it from start to finish in less than a day. I got a bit grumpy at times when life made me stop to do something boring but necessary and all I really wanted to do was get right back to Stella's world, back to the action, the adventure, the scary bits! If you want something a little different for your next read, a book filled with delightful characters acting out a storyline that is both heart warming and harrowing, funny at times with a bit of Strange thrown in for good measure then this could be the series for you. Me, I really can't wait to see what Stella gets up to next. I hope the author writes quick! I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
by Kath Brinck
4 out of 5 stars
This is a great book and I found it very hard to put down once I started it but I do recommend that you read the first book in the series before this one.
by Natasha Edwards
Even Stranger is the sequel to Relatively Strange and in my opinion is Even Better! We meet Stella 7 years on from where we left her and she's trying to build a business and live a "normal" life. With the author's deadpan humour and observational wit, I read this book with a huge smile on my face eagerly following Stella through her various exploits. A truly fabulous series which I hope has at least one more book to come as I need to know what happens next. 5 stars.
by Tracy Fenton
A regular feature and fiction writer for national magazines when her children were small; Marilyn set up her first business, selling toys, books and party goods - initially from home - before opening first one shop then another.
When she sold the shops, she moved into the travel market, focusing on accommodation in New England, USA. Her niche Advisory, Planning and Booking Service - sourcing unique hotels, country inns and B&Bs – flourished and she concurrently set up a publishing company, producing an annual, full-colour Accommodation Guide.
The success of the service and the guide led to speaking invitations at industry conferences across the U.S. and a place on the board of various professional bodies. Her accommodation guide was eventually bought out by Thomas Cook Publishing.
In 2007 she set up Create Communication, a copywriting consultancy, to help businesses shape their messages to optimum effect. She now spends her time writing website texts; press releases and leaflets as well as creating business strategies and working on book publishing projects with clients.