Did you know that 99% of the reading public never post a review for a book?
At Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team (six years and going strong!), we often look at ways to encourage more people to review. This autumn, Rosie has planned a Review-A-Book Challenge, with a great list of books to choose from, all free of charge to anyone serious about writing a review for her blog – and possibly joining the review team, if you enjoy the process.
Each day for a week or so, she will feature articles on how to write simple reviews, on choosing a star rating, and many more. The challenge is open to all, from experienced reviewers to those who have never written one. If this has piqued your interest and you would like to take a look at the books on offer, please click here:
I know I don’t usually publish any posts on Wednesday, but I wanted to make sure you heard the news from me and were able to join in the challenge. Don’t delay! (Oh, and you might recognise some of the authors of the books on offer. Just saying).
You might remember that after wishing you a Happy New Year (February 2017 already!) I decided to disappear for a while and try and see what I would do with the blog.
Well, you’ll wonder if I’ve come to any conclusions. I’m afraid not that many. Before I left I had been thinking about coming up with an elaborate schedule sharing a variety of things every day. After having some time to think and realising I enjoyed the freedom of not blogging so regularly (and also of being able to dedicate a bit more time to reading what others were saying), I’ve decided not to do that. I enjoy the interaction blogging allows, but I can get that from blogging less regularly and from commenting on other people’s blogs. I do enjoy writing, but I’m not a great improviser (one of the reasons why I admire people who join in writing challenges but I usually don’t), and I prefer to have a bit more time for my translations and my writing projects. I might eventually use more platforms such as Wattpad that seems less plagued with constant changes of settings and where the emphasis is mostly on the writing (but we’ll see).
I know book reviews are very useful to authors and readers alike, and I love reading and belong to several review groups, so I’ll continue to share reviews. I have quite a few to catch up, but after that, I’ll share as I finish the books and have an occasion. I have many great reads lined up, so I hope you’ll keep visiting for that.
I might do the odd post about other things as my inspiration strikes me or if there’s something that particularly calls to me. Yes, I’ll keep you informed of my own projects as they are ready and I’ll thank you for your support spreading the word and if I have any promotion of my translation work or my books I’ll let you know too.
I’ve taken the chance during this time away to update a bit my old blog at http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com I never deleted it and people keep finding it every so often and following it, although at the moment it consists mostly of links to my new posts in this blog. As it resisted all attempts at terminating it (a bit like my Christmas cactus that was flowering when I arrived back in the UK last Friday although I hadn’t watered it or tended to it since I left on the 30th of October) I’ve decided it deserves to live and I’ll use it to reblog (as I can’t do it here) interesting posts I see. I don’t have the comments open there, but please, feel free to comment on the original post. That will be another way to share content I enjoy. I haven’t changed what it looks like, because to be absolutely honest with you, as much as I enjoy pretty things when I’m reading something I don’t care that much about fancy stuff around it that I sometimes find distracting. (I know a Spanish poet whose blog has hearts dropping from the sky, bubbles going up and down, music playing… I told him I found it impossible to read anything with all that going on and he told me people enjoy it. Well, it’s not me.) And it might be that if I don’t find a better use for this blog, I’ll end up just going back to the old one.
And now, I thought I’d leave you with a couple of trailers for movies I’ve really enjoyed.
La La Land
Thanks for reading and just in case you’ve forgotten, please like, share, comment and click!
I’ve read a few books by Brian Moreland and loved them all but realised I hadn’t shared the review of this one. And in case you need something different, I thought today was the day. I’ve also read recently that the author’s publisher is closing down, so you might want to grab his books whilst you can.
Marty Weaver, an emotionally scarred poet, has been bullied his entire life. When he drives out to the lake to tell an old friend that he’s fallen in love with a girl named Jennifer, Marty encounters three sadistic killers who have some twisted games in store for him. But Marty has dark secrets of his own buried deep inside him. And tonight, when all the pain from the past is triggered, when those secrets are revealed, blood will flow and hell will rise.
I was given a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
I have read several books by Brian Moreland and loved them all.
Darkness Rising is the story of Marty, a young man with a difficult past (his father is a serial killer who killed his mother and six young women and he had to grow up suffering bullying and abuse), who has found in poetry a way to communicate his feelings and to quieten down the darkness inside. He has big plans, goals, and is in love with a young girl, Jennifer, whom he’s been teaching about poetry. Unfortunately, a gang of two young men and a young woman have chosen his favourite spot next to a lake to make snuff movies and dispose of the bodies, and he’s spotted there with terrible consequences. What happens next is only the beginning of the horror for Marty and what he becomes.
The story, like the previous novels written by Moreland I had read, is written with a great sense of suspense, and very visually. One can imagine the movie that could be made from the book (although sometimes it’s best not too, like when describing the artwork Marty’s father creates). This novel is more than a horror story, and it includes beautiful passages about art, the effects of creativity, first love, and redemption. Despite the extreme violence (and even the descriptions of the evil beings are lyrical and vividly accomplished), this is a coming of age and a young adult story, and an inspirational one too. Perhaps the moral of the story would not be to everybody’s taste, but the message is ultimately positive. Marty talks about going through purgatory and… he might have a point.
I like my horror stories to end up in a horrifying manner but couldn’t help and root for Marty, who goes a long way and works hard to be the best he can and to prove that one can fight against fate and blood.
This is not a conventional horror story but I’d recommend it to people who like beautifully written dark fiction, stories about the nature of creativity and art, and do not fear treading where others wouldn’t dare.
Shortlisted for two Davitt Awards – Best Adult and Best Debut
‘A plot-twisting page-turner… I was completely gripped’ — Emma Healey, author of Elizabeth is Missing
‘A thrilling read that will have you on the edge of your seat’ — BuzzFeed
‘Keeps the reader guessing to the very last page’ — Lisa Hall, author of Between You and Me
Forensic psychiatrist Natalie King works with victims and perpetrators of violent crime. She rides a Ducati a size too big and wears a tank top a size too small. Likes men but doesn’t want to keep one. And really needs to stay on her medication.
Now she’s being stalked. Could it be a hostile former patient? Or someone connected with a current case?
Natalie doesn’t know. And with another missing child case on her desk, the time for answers is running out.
Thanks to Net Galley and to Legend Press for providing me with a free copy of this book.
When I first read the description of the book, I thought this was the book for me. I do read in a variety of genres, I am a psychiatrist and I worked in forensic psychiatry (although in the UK, not in Australia like the protagonist) for a number of years. I also write and have a psychiatrist as one of my characters, so I was interested in this novel, not only as a reader but also as a writer.
As I read the novel I realised that perhaps I wasn’t the best person to give feedback on it, as although I enjoyed the descriptions and discussions of mental health matters that are one of the pillars of the book, I was not in a position to comment on how somebody who wasn’t familiar with the material, would find it (although from the comments I’ve read, it seems people enjoy it and don’t find it difficult or too detailed).
The novel is told in the third person from the point of view of Nicole, a young female psychiatrist who works in a forensic setting, both in a hospital and also sees outpatients in her own practice. She only works with female patients, and has her own mental health problems (she is bipolar, and regularly sees a therapist, currently only for supervision, Declan, who functions as the voice of reason, although unfortunately he isn’t always given the full information). Nicole identifies herself closely with some of her patients and finds it difficult not to get over-involved (after all, she had also been an inpatient, and had a difficult childhood, like many of the women she works with). That causes quite a few of the complex situations she sees herself in, although perhaps also makes her get ‘results’, albeit at a high personal cost.
Nicole is not a model of professionality or a model patient either. Sometimes she doesn’t take her medication, she mixes it with alcohol, and she struggles with issues of confidentiality. She does not get on well with the Professor who is the star psychiatrist in the department where she works, and she has her own morality that might clash with accepted standards(she does not want long-term romantic relationships, but sex with a married man, even one she knows due to work, is OK). She is also not the wisest and tries to convince herself that she is not scared and does not need anybody when she gets evidence that she’s being stalked. And if you think of psychiatrist as bookish and boring, Nicole is none of that. She plays in a band, rides a big motorbike and favours leather gear.
A couple of warnings: there is sex in the novel, although not explicit and too descriptive, but if you don’t like sexual language, there is some. From the point of view of the plot, it helps demonstrate that Nicole’s impulsivity spreads to many areas of her life, illustrates her high mood at one point, and at the end, it helps us get a better picture of what her true priorities are. The second warning is about the main subject of the book. The author works in postnatal mental health, and the patients Nicole works with and the cases being investigated pertain to infanticides or child murders, and also to paedophilia and sexual abuse, and although not gory, the psychological descriptions ring true and might be difficult to read if you are especially sensitive to those themes. It is not a light or feel-good book, that’s a fact.
The different women Nicole works with and their different families, mirror one another and at times it might be difficult to extricate the smaller characters and differentiate between them even if you’re playing close attention, but the main characters’ psychological makeup rings true, and there are masterful descriptions of symptoms of mental illness, like those Nicole experiences when she’s going high. I could also identify professionally with the issues Nicole has with the difficult interface between being a psychiatrist to her patients, and also having to take into account that they are (or might be) criminals and might represent a risk to others. She struggles with issues of confidentiality and risk, and that is one of the true complexities of forensic psychiatry.
The plot is complex and twists and turns, making the reader share with the protagonist in her doubts about diagnosis, guilty parties, about her stalker, and even about her personal relationships.
I recommend it to readers with a particular interest in mental health and psychological thrillers, who are not unduly concerned about sex or child abuse and murder in their books, and who enjoy complex characterisations and plots.
The end of the year is approaching quickly and I was trying to work out how best use the blogging days left. I have accumulated a lot of book reviews that I’d like to share before the end of the year, in case you’re looking for books to either purchase for others or to help with the festive season. Yes, I’m one of those people who finds all the Ho-Ho-Hos a bit too much at times. Trying to catch up on all of them might mean to either share several in one post (but I don’t want to tax people’s patience), blogging more often (we have the patience issue again), not featuring new books (unless I’ve read them too) or… Perhaps I’ll see what I come up with and join books by genre. I have at least one Christmassy book I want to share close to the date too. Well, we’ll see.
I know I’ve been talking, on and off, about the next book in my Escaping Psychiatry series. I’m only waiting now for some work on the paper cover to get finished (I’ve decided to publish the novel with the prequel as extra content in the paperback version). But no matter that, I’m set on publishing it before the end of the year, paper version ready or not. As it’s not very Christmassy, I’m thinking about trying to make it coincide with the time between Christmas and New Year. I haven’t decided if I’m going to make it available as a pre-order or not (other than knowing everything is there, it won’t make any difference, and in my case it hasn’t worked as a promotional strategy before).
I thought I’d remind you of the book:
Escaping Psychiatry 2. The Case of the Swapped Bodies
A woman shot dead. No enemies, no motive, only a story about how she swapped bodies with another woman found on her computer. The other woman in the story, the owner of the swapped body, goes into labour and won’t talk.
When FBI Agent Dave Dean asks psychiatrist/writer Mary Miller for her assistance, she doesn’t know that The Case of the Swapped Bodies is not the only mystery in Port Haven. A hit and run, an armed robbery gone wrong and questions about family traditions, priorities and legacies come into play and complicate matters. The line between fact and fiction is more tenuous than anybody realised and suspense is on the menu.
This is the third book in the Escaping Psychiatry series and it poses new challenges for Mary Miller. And not all the challenges are professional ones. How do you carry on when you’ve survived the unthinkable?
Here is the blurb:
In Port Haven, and idyllic small town in California, a career woman appears shot dead in her own apartment, a pregnant mother of three who won’t/can’t talk is the main suspect in the murder and the only evidence is a suspenseful story about swapped bodies found on the victim’s computer.
In this psychological thriller, psychiatrist and writer Mary Miller, a recent survivor of a rape and attempted murder, gets to collaborate for the first time with the FBI agents who saved her. Agent Dave Dean, her would-be suitor, is not himself. The sheriff’s men aren’t cooperating. And the case is like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. Will Mary manage to see beyond the lies and fiction?
I have shared a couple of the chapters here before, but if you prefer you can also check them in Wattpad.
Thanks to you all for reading and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK if you fancy.
The idea is that, from August 1st, everyone who reads this uses their Amazon account to post just one review on one book that they’ve read (but feel free to carry on if you get in the swing!). You don’t even have to have read it recently, it can be any book you’ve read, any time. The book does not have to have been purchased from Amazon, though if it is you get the ‘Verified Purchase’ tag on it; however, if you download all your books via Kindle Unlimited, as many do these days, they don’t show the VP tag, anyway.
Remember, this isn’t the Times Literary Supplement, it’s Amazon, where ordinary people go to choose their next £1.99 Kindle book. No one expects you to write a thousand word, in-depth critique; I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to read one short paragraph or a couple of lines saying what an average reader thought of a book, than a long-winded essay about the pros and cons of the various literary techniques used. Yes, those are welcome too (!), but no more so than a few words saying “I loved this book, I was up reading it until 3am”, or “I loved Jim and Vivien and the dialogue was so realistic”, or whatever!
Why should you write a review?
They help book buyers make decisions. Don’t you read the reviews on Trip Advisor before deciding on a hotel, or any site from which you might buy an item for practical use? Book reviews are no different.
If the book is by a self-published author, or published by an independent press, the writers have to do all their promotion and marketing themselves ~ reviews from the reading public is their one free helping hand.
The amount of reviews on Amazon helps a book’s visibility (allegedly). If you love a writer’s work and want others to do so, too, this is the best possible way of making this happen.
It’s your good deed for the day, and will only take five minutes!
Off we go, then! A few more pointers:
If you need any help with writing your review, do click on Rosie’s post, above.
A review can be as short as one word. The shortest one I have is just two 🙂
You don’t have to put your name to the review, as your Amazon ‘handle’ can be anything you like.
No writer expects all their reviews to be 5* and say the book is the best thing ever written; there is a star rating guide on Rosie’s post.
Would you like to tell the Twittersphere about your review? If so, tweet the link to it with the hashtag #AugustReviews ~ and thank you! I will do one blog post a week featuring these links: The #AugustReviews Hall of Fame (thank you, Barb!).
And just in case you’d like some examples of things you could say in reviews, this post about #AugustReviewshas plenty of suggestions. Come and check it!
If you have a blog and would like to spread the word about #AugustReviews, please feel free to copy and paste this blog post, provide the link to it, re-blog it, or whatever ~ many thanks, and I hope you will join in to make this idea a success 🙂
Thanks for reading and please, share, like, comment, CLICK and REVIEW! Ah, and remember, share your Amazon review (as we want to make sure people know you don’t need to be a blogger or share your reviews in a blog to write a review!)
I anticipate I’m going to have a few incredibly busy reading weeks ahead (I’m helping with the selection process for the Historical Fiction M. M. Bennetts Award) and I’m also going to be busy preparing for my first book fair (check the post by fabulous author Christoph Fischer who explains everything about the Llandeillo Book Fair here and you can also visit the Facebook pageof the event) so I’m not sure what my blog is going to be like (as I had promised I’d be recovering some of the old posts from my previous WordPress site that didn’t manage to survive the move, there will be some of that for sure) but I count on your patience and support as usual. I might share a bit more of my WIP (while I try to work out what the cover should look like. Thanks for the suggestions!), share some reviews as far as I can (I don’t want to disrupt the award process, although I’ll let you know the results), keep looking for ideas and feedback on my non-fiction project… We shall see.
But, as I’ve accumulated a few reviews I thought that would make an interesting post. The three authors I bring you today have visited my blog before. They are women of substance, who blog, research, help their fellow authors, and write wonderfully, and although I’m sure you know them all, if you don’t, for their works you’ll know them…
Enough blah, blah. Here they come:
The Dolan Girls by S. R. Mallery.
Set in Nebraska during the 1800s, whorehouse madams, ladies of the night, a schoolmarm, a Pinkerton detective, a Shakespeare-quoting old coot, brutal outlaws, and a horse-wrangler fill out the cast of characters. Add to the mix are colorful descriptions of an 1856 land rush, Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show, Annie Oakley, bank/train robberies, small town local politics, and of course, romance. Two, in fact!
Body of review:
I was given a free copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve read two of S. R. Mallery’s books before and I’ve always admired her ease in creating stories emotionally real and characters we care for set in historical eras and around historical events that add dimension and depth to the narration. Most of her stories centre on female protagonists and we experience through them the travails and challenges these women had to face in different times in history, be it because of their class, race, gender, profession or their situation.
Cora and Minnie, the young girls arrived from Ireland with their parents, who plan to get some land in Nebraska but fail, end up alone and living in a brothel after tragedy strikes. Madam Ana treats them like her daughters and the brothel becomes their home and later their business. Cora’s love story is ruined by a terrible event, a baddie with no redeeming qualities (Wes’) rapes her and impregnates her, and she doesn’t trust men again. She focuses her life on the business and her family, and wants to ensure that her daughter will be respected and safe, even against her wishes.
The three Dolan girls, Cora, Minnie and Ellie embody different models of womanhood: Cora worries about society’s views and being respected, and is straight-laced and serious. Minnie is free, unconventional and only worries about doing what’s right and fun, no matter what anybody else might think. Ellie loves education, learning, and is passionate about enlightening the population and not taking no for an answer. Despite their differences, they all have in common their strength, their perseverance, and their determination to live life their own way, no matter what polite society might think.
Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill and Lola Montez make significant appearances and add to the historical interest but their appearance is not an exercise in hero worshiping. The author blends beautifully historical detail, language and décor without dumping information or appearing to quote from a textbook.
The bandits’ train-raid and later arrival at South Benton, Buffalo Bill’s first show, and the Pinkerton detective agency and their work add a good dose of adventure and make it a page turner even for people who wouldn’t consider reading a standard romantic novel.
The male protagonists are heroic but understanding and not overbearing. Their behaviour seemed to me somewhat idealised but well within the conventions of the genre.
The Dolan Girls shows us that winning the West wasn’t only a man’s endeavour, that not all immigrants were the same (Irish not being welcome with open arms), that gender violence is not new, and that women can be strong together.
In sum, a great read and a must for people who love historical romances. Ah, and don’t worry about the ending. You’ll love it!
The Challenge (The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles) by Kim Iverson Headlee. The real challenge is to know what you’re fighting for.
The gauntlet is thrown. One must die. Refusal is not an option.
Arthur the high king of Breatein has fallen captive of a longtime enemy, the Saxon warrior-princess, Camilla, who lusts to avenge the death of her betrothed at Gyan’s hands and will stop at nothing, even the black arts, to achieve her goal. Because Gyan and Arthur have grown estranged, she fears that Arthur may side with Camilla and make her his new queen.
Now Gyan must face all her demons – public as well as private.
The Challenge is a part of Kim Headlee’s The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles and although it is the first story of the series I’ve read, that does not impede its enjoyment. It is a short story set in the world of the Arthurian legends and although it mixes fantasy elements (not that there are no fantasy elements in the story we’re all familiar with) it does refer back to older stories and traditions. Considering its length, the story packs an incredible amount of detail, not only of the action and fight itself (with vivid descriptions of weapons and gear), but also of the relationships of the queen, Gyan, with her men, of her feelings about her people and her kingdom, and also of her mental state at the time. She confronts a rival with supernatural strength, but more important than that she also has to fight her doubts about her relationship with the King. And although I’m not going to give you any spoilers, I can tell you that the ending won’t disappoint.
If you fancy a short read, full of action, with a good mix of historical detail and fantasy, and a superb strong female lead, I strongly recommend it.
At the moment of preparing this post it’s FREE so check it out!
And last by not least…
Tales from the Garden by Sally Cronin. Enchanting stories in a magical garden
Tales from the Garden reveals the secrets that are hidden beneath hedges and trees. You will discover what really happens at night as you sleep unaware in your bed. Stone statues and those hidden worlds within the earth are about to share their stories. The guardians who have kept the sanctuary safe for over fifty years will allow you to peek behind the scenes of this magical place. They will take you on a journey through time and expand your horizons as they transport you to the land of fairies, butterflies and lost souls who have found a home here.
Fairy Stories for children of all ages from five to ninety-five that will change the way you look at your garden forever.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
I follow Sally Cronin’s Smorgasboard blog and know she writes on a variety of themes, from the non-fictional: nutritional and health advice, features and reviews about books and writing, advice on marketing and blogging, and also fictional writing. After reading some of the stories she had shared on-line I had to read this book. And the description is correct. These are fairy stories for children of all ages. The characters are the stone sculptures in the garden and their adventures contain in equal parts warmth, pathos, magic and fantasy. We have animals escaping from hunting dogs, impossible love stories between humans and fairies, orchestras made up of the most varied characters, and a wonderful dedication to the author’s mother and her gardens. You will go through a variety of emotions and always feel better and more positive by the end of each story. The book will leave you smiling and that’s something that cannot be said of many books (or things) these days.
The writing is fluid, perfectly suited to the themes and you get the sense that you’ve been taken into the confidence of the characters and have become an honorary inhabitant of this wonderful garden. The pictures —all from the author and her family’s gardens— that illustrate the book help make the reader feel even more at home.
Recommended to any readers who need a bit of magic and wonder in their lives.
Sally, who has a blog everybody should follow, no matter what your interest, also has her own publishing company and you might want to access this and her other books directly. Just in case, this is the link to her books in her blog.
Thanks to the three authors for their varied and fantastic books, thanks to all of you for reading and don’t forget to like, share, comment, CLICK, and of course, if you read, REVIEW!
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