Luke Gracias shares his experience as an author using NetGalley. I review for NetGalley and have had the pleasure (OK, it’s scary too) of reading his novel, and I can recommend it. I’ll share a more detailed review soon, although you can find my review in NetGalley already.
Thanks so much for his words about the quality of the reviews (not to blow my own trumpet, but I definitely check the reviews there before deciding on the books).
Background This is a summary of my NetGalley experience as a self-published debut author, which I believe may be of assistance to other self-publishing authors and may also be of interest to NetGal…
As you know, on Fridays I bring you guest authors and new books. Sometimes I keep reading and commenting on people’s blogs (and vice versa) and I’m convinced I’ve talked about the author’s books, and then realise that’s not the case. That happened to me with Peter Wells (and his blog Counting Ducks). We read and comment on each other’s posts, and I even remembered having read reviews about his book, but I had yet to feature him. Well, finally, here he is.
Peter Wells, who has lived by the maxim, “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same” has had a life, working in the corporate, financial and self-employed worlds, and in his spare time has enjoyed adventures on a number of continents and sailing over several seas. His writing is inspired by his working and traveling life, and the people he has met through them. He now lives just south of London and is the proud father of three daughters.
Having spent his childhood in a barren emotional wasteland overseen by a father who valued order above feeling, Bill finally meets a woman who leads him to a place he can call home. Arriving in the small coastal town in England with his new wife, he finds that he is quickly assimilated into her community and extended family. With his somewhat murky past behind him, he forges a new life within a solid, caring community and discovers what being valued means. As it happens, his wife appears to be overly interested in “organizing” everything and everyone around her, including her young cousin who is the apple of her father’s eye. Within the garden of Eden Bill knows he can show no interest in this apple called Misty. He knows the price of doing so, and the value of what he now enjoys. Will that be enough to protect him from desire? Luck is with him: she has no interest in him. But what if circumstances where to change and she looked at her world and him with new eyes. Would he cling to common sense? With the hand of a surgeon, Peter Wells gently probes the thoughts of the mundane to seek those corners that still long for adventure. Those bits and pieces of each of us that gaze out on the world and find something to settle on and wonder… Tenderly touching the wounded, lonely parts of his character’s hearts, Peter gently leads them to a destiny they never could have imagined on their own. When an Obsession knocks on the doors of your Paradise, should they remain closed?
Peter Wells cannot be described as merely an accomplished breakout novelist. In his first book, as well as in his very popular blog, he has proven himself to be the most subtle of humorists, a most astute observer of human emotion and behavior, and the kind of philosopher I simply can’t get enough of.
This novel gets inside the minds and hearts of a cadre of characters that you won’t soon forget. Why? Because they are us–real, quirky, flawed, complex, dreamers, well-intended, unsure, conflicted, and presented with difficult situations through which they must navigate. Sound familiar? It should! It’s called life. And it’s messy. Peter captures how these people deal with their challenges in a way that only he can. It’s as if he has special spectacles through which he can see into a person’s (fictional or not) psyche. And he does it with a wit that I, as a humorist, envy.
As a writer, I know it’s best to show not tell. Let me give you a few snippets of Peter’s laser-like wit that cuts to the heart of his characters:
Of Misty, the object of much consternation, he tells us: “Through no fault of her own, she was more than averagely pretty, and this had made her a prize for those not necessarily interested in marriage.”
Of the protagonist’s (Bill’s) wife and mother-in-law complaining about their husbands: “Grumbling at low volume was their normality. Mother and daughter now joyously celebrating a common burden: men with no imagination.”
Of Bill’s (Peter’s) insightfulness: “Secrecy is often the strategy of the socially awkward or shy.” I very much related to that observation!
I could go on, but won’t. I don’t want to give away the many gems in this novel, which is a veritable treasure chest of jewels.
At the heart of it is the basic human dilemma: do you settle for a good enough safe life or do you risk it all for the fantasy dangling before you? Peter takes us on the ride with characters who grapple with the choices they make and the consequences of their choices. And what a ride it is.
Don’t make us wait too long, Peter, for another book. Until then, I remain a loyal follower of your blog on WordPress.
The Man Who Missed the Boat by Peter Wells
It should have been an ordinary Saturday morning. A short walk down his street to give a piano lesson at the home of a family he knew well. As it turned out, he knew them rather better than was good for him.
How much trouble can a well-intentioned piano teacher land in? Simon Baxter discovers that being “well-meaning” is sometimes not enough to protect you from the chaos in other people’s lives. Even an excessive sense of “good manners” can be disastrous in the wrong circumstances. Under pressure the unorganised desires kept strictly deep inside us can surface and bring chaos to the lives of ourselves and anyone near us.
Will our untrained hero make it safely across the river of life or, like so many of us, get swept up by the current of events towards an unplanned adventure?
In the sudden change from “Not being loved enough” to “Being loved too much, and by more than one women,” Simon finds out more about himself than he would like. Can he choose wisely, and live with the consequences?
In this, his second novel, Peter Wells continues to cast his gentle but penetrating light on those foibles and weaknesses which lie beneath the exterior of the apparently most ordered lives. Those hidden character traits which can, in the right circumstances, surface and toss their owner, and anyone around him or her, most unpleasantly.
Resonating with the twinkle-eyed wit of Mark Twain and with the compassionate insight into the human condition reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway, Peter Wells presents his readers with a most engaging and delightful look at the twists of fate in the otherwise ordinary lives of the many characters who populate his latest book.
We get to know Simon (the kind hearted, often confused protagonist), Ruth (the jilted wife in an uneventful marriage), Giles (the regretful cheating husband whose former predictable life continues to spiral out of control), Amy (Ruth and Giles’ teenage daughter seeking stability from Simon, her piano teacher), Sadie (the wealthy woman who finds Simon’s brand of innocence quite alluring), Bobbie (an impetuous, heartless young woman who uses Giles for her own entertainment and crime spree), and Herman Melville (yes, that’s right, a frumpy man whose wife left him and who longs for Ruth’s attention).
When I say, “we get to know” these people, I truly mean it. We learn as much about these people as clergy learn about their confessors or therapists learn about their clients. We know their innermost thoughts and feelings because Peter takes us into their minds, hearts and souls. I was so awestruck at Peter’s ability to get inside each character so completely that I often stopped and reread passages of his prose.
Peter is able to seamlessly pop in and out of each character’s point of view by being the omniscient narrator of this story of a Simon, a simple piano teacher who stumbles into the family drama of one of his pupils. As the quintessential storyteller, he engages us by adding his own observations and cues us to pay attention to certain elements of the story and not to others, telling us what is important and what is “for another time.
Thanks to Peter Wells for his books, thanks to Lorna for her reviews, thanks to all of you for reading, and you know what to do, like, share, comment and CLICK!
Today I bring you a review and a bilingual post. I realised that I was taking part in a blog tour tomorrow and I didn’t want to go overboard with posts, and as I had read a novel available in English and Spanish and I had some news related to it, I thought I’d do a bilingual post sharing my review. Enrique Laso is a Spanish author I met a while back through social media and several groups of authors I know.
The Blue Crimes by Enrique Laso. An intriguing case and even more intriguing investigator.
The Blue Crimes is the first book in Enrique Laso’s collection of Ethan Bush Thrillers. Ethan Bush is a young FBI agent, one of the most promising, top of his Psychology class at Stanford and self-assured, or so he seems. He arrives to Jefferson County fresh from solving a serial murder case in Detroit and expectations are running high.
The story is told in first person from the point of view of Bush, and that is one of the most interesting aspects of the novel. If the actual procedural investigation, the process of solving the murders of two young girls that are very similar in details to a murder committed 17 years ago is gripping (and I particularly enjoyed the setting in small town America, with the prejudices and the difficulty understanding and fitting into the mentality of the place that it brings to the big city investigators), I found the insight into Ethan Bush’s mind even more interesting. Why?
Well, he is an intelligent man. He knows it and he’s reminded of that by quite a few of the characters he comes into contact with (sometimes in great contrast with some of the witnesses they come across). His intelligence does not always help him, though. Characters who are far less intelligent than him (the sheriff, local investigators, even his mother…) contribute greatly to the success of his mission. He acknowledges and admires the morality of some people (Jim Worth, a solid character that would make his perfect side-kick and foil, and I hope we’ll come across him again in the series), but he’s not squeaky-clean and has no qualms crossing the line of the ethically correct when he thinks it’s necessary to solve a case (not strictly for his own benefit). He has weaknesses that include his irresistible attraction to Vera, one of the witnesses, but also a suspect. He is somewhat obsessive in his methodology and has to be in control of everything, to the point of preferring keeping handwritten notebooks (in Moleskin, that become his trademark) as he does not like to be dependent on technology that could let him down. And during the book, he becomes as obsessed with running as he is with everything else, to the point of putting off the questioning of suspects to not disturb his running schedule. Running means more to him than the simple exercise, but we only become aware of this later on. (By the way, I am aware that the author is a runner himself and he has written non-fiction books about it so this would add to the interest for those who are keen runners.) Despite Ethan’s constant analysing everything and thinking non-stop (to the point of getting severe headaches although they could well be psychosomatic), he is not the most self-aware of characters, and keeps missing clues and hiding stuff because of his own unresolved issues. But those issues are what make him fascinating.
Ethan Bush is not the most likeable hero and has many flaws, and that is a plus for me. He is a man searching for explanations, about the case and about himself. And he never gives up. He’ll go as far as he has to, whatever that might cost him.
I’m not sure how challenging you’ll find the book if you’re one of these people whose main enjoyment is working out who the guilty party is (I did guess who it was early on, but I kept wondering if I was right) but if you enjoy complex characters, a solid story and interesting dynamics, I think this series could keep us guessing for a long time.
I interviewed Enrique for Lit World Interviews. Here is the link to that interview.
The news I mentioned was that I am going to be translating the second novel in the series. So I’m very excited about it! Check the first one out and I’ll keep you posted on the second (that in Spanish has been a best-seller for weeks even before its release).
Y ahora, en español. Quería aprovechar que he leído una novela que está disponible en inglés y español (y que he leído en las dos versiones) para compartir un post bilingüe (ya que mañana participo en un blog tour). Y tengo noticias, que compartiré después de la reseña.
Los crímenes azules de Enrique Laso. Un caso con mucha intriga y un investigador aún más intrigante.
Los crímenes azules es el primer libro en la colección de thrillers protagonizados por Ethan Bush y escritos por Enrique Laso. Ethan Bush es un joven agente del FBI, uno de los más prometedores, el número uno de su clase de Psicología en Standford, y muy seguro de sí mismo, o eso parece. Llega al condado de Jefferson cuando acaba de resolver un asesinato en serie en Detroit y se espera mucho de él.
La historia está narrada en primera persona desde el punto de vista de Bush, y ese es uno de los aspectos más interesantes de la novela. Si la investigación en sí y el proceso de resolver los asesinatos de dos chicas jóvenes que se parecen mucho a un asesinato cometido hace 17 años es fascinante (y a mí me gustó en particular el que la historia se desarrollara en una pequeña población americana, lo que conlleva observar los prejuicios de los investigadores de la gran ciudad a los que se les hace difícil integrarse y entender la mentalidad de los habitantes), yo encontré las revelaciones de los procesos mentales de Ethan Bush mucho más interesantes. ¿Por qué?
Bueno, Ethan es un hombre inteligente. Él lo sabe y se lo recuerdan muchos de los personajes (y no todos los testigos son tan inteligentes como él ni de lejos). Su inteligencia no siempre le es de gran ayuda. Personajes que son bastante menos inteligentes que él (el sheriff, la policía local, incluso su propia madre… ) hacen contribuciones importantes al éxito de la misión. Él reconoce y admira la moralidad de algunas personas (especialmente Jim Worth, un carácter muy sólido y que podría convertirse en su mano derecha y su conciencia, y confío en que nos lo encontremos más adelante en la serie), pero no es intachable y no duda a la hora de cruzar la línea de lo éticamente correcto si cree que es necesario para resolver el caso (y no estrictamente en beneficio propio). Tiene sus debilidades, incluyendo la atracción irresistible que siente por Vera, una de las testigos, pero también una sospechosa. Es algo obsesivo en sus métodos y tiene que tenerlo todo bajo control, hasta el punto de preferir escribir notas en un cuaderno (Moleskin, que se convierte en su marca personal) porque no le gusta tener que depender de la tecnología ya que podría fallarle. Y durante el libro se obsesiona con volver a correr, hasta el punto de retrasar el interrogatorio de un sospechoso para no tener que cambiar su programa de entrenamiento. Correr significa para él mucho más que simplemente hacer ejercicio, aunque solo nos damos cuenta de ello más adelante. (Por cierto, sé que el autor es un corredor avezado y ha escrito libros sobre el tema así que eso podría hacerlo aún más interesante para gente a le que le guste correr.) A pesar de que Ethan está constantemente analizándolo todo y no para de pensar (lo que le lleva a sufrir severos dolores de cabeza, aunque también es probable que sean psicosomáticos), no se conoce muy bien a sí mismo, y se le escapan pistas y se oculta detalles debido a sus propios problemas sin resolver. Pero esos problemas son los que lo hacen fascinante.
Ethan Bush no es un héroe de atractivo irresistible y tiene muchas imperfecciones, y eso es un punto a su favor, en mi opinión. Es un hombre a la búsqueda de soluciones, para el caso y para sus propios problemas. Y nunca abandona. Irá tan lejos como haga falta, le cueste lo que le cueste.
No sé si los lectores que disfrutan especialmente del reto de averiguar quién es el culpable lo encontrarán a la medida de sus talentos (yo sospeché quién lo era bastante temprano, aunque la novela me hizo dudar muchas veces) pero si disfrutáis de personajes complicados con relaciones interesantes y una historia bien escrita, creo que esta serie tiene el potencial de engancharnos y mantenernos en vilo por mucho tiempo.
¿Y mis noticias? Pues que voy a traducir la segunda novela en la serie (publicada el 7 de Noviembre) Los cadáveres no sueñan al inglés. La novela lleva varias semanas en las listas de best-sellers, y eso es antes de su publicación, así que tengo muchas ganas. Os mantendré informados.
Thank you to Enrique Laso for his book, thank you all for reading, and please, like, share, comment and CLICK!
Gracias a Enrique Laso por su novela, gracias a vosotros por leer, y por favor, dadle al me gusta, comentad, compartid y haced CLIC!
As you know, I love to read and review books and other things (movies, plays…). Although I read and watch things in very different genres (and I have a penchant for the unclassifiable, I must admit, both in my work and in that of others), and I love horror, and don’t flinch at gore or hard scenes or topics, sometimes one just fancies something gentle, that will leave us with a smile on our face and our heart, and a sigh of contentment, rather than making our blood pressure go up and leave us thinking about how awful the world can be.
I’m lucky enough, through Net Galley, to catch glimpses of books before they go on sale to the general public, and that was the case with this book, that will be officially published on the 18th of June but is available for pre-order.
First, the blurb:
The readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
Sara is 28 and has never been outside Sweden – except in the (many) books she reads. When her elderly penfriend Amy invites her to come and visit her in Broken Wheel, Iowa, Sara decides it’s time. But when she arrives, there’s a twist waiting for her – Amy has died. Finding herself utterly alone in a dead woman’s house in the middle of nowhere was not the holiday Sara had in mind.
But Sara discovers she is not exactly alone. For here in this town so broken it’s almost beyond repair are all the people she’s come to know through Amy’s letters: poor George, fierce Grace, buttoned-up Caroline and Amy’s guarded nephew Tom.
Sara quickly realises that Broken Wheel is in desperate need of some adventure, a dose of self-help and perhaps a little romance, too. In short, this is a town in need of a bookshop.
Here, my review:
A dream of a book for all book lovers
Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an advance copy of this book that was a bestseller in its original Swedish.
What a wonderful book! If like me, you love books, you find time spent reading always rewarding, and would love to live in a library or a bookshop, this is your book.
Sara, the protagonist, who has always found company, consolation, friendship and support in books, takes a leap of faith and when the bookshop where she works closes down, she accepts the invitation of her pen-pal and fellow book lover, Amy. She goes to spend two month with Amy in Broken Wheel, Iowa. Unfortunately, things don’t go according to plan, but when she is adopted by the whole village, she comes up with a scheme to repay them in kind, by sharing the magic and power of books.
The transformation of Sara and the town are what drives the narrative, and the assorted characters (some more recognisable than others) become humanised by their contact with Sara and her books. So much so that they can’t let her go and will do anything to keep her with them.
I enjoyed Amy’s epistles that help us imagine the missing character, the sad characters (like George and John), the riotous ones (Andy, Grace), wonderful Caroline, the love interest… Well, everybody.
This isn’t a book of mysteries and intrigues. There are no major surprises and the plot meanders along gently inviting us to share in the characters’ adventures, where nothing drastic or earth shattering happens, just life as usual.
I loved the bookshop, and Sara’s classification system, and I’d like to work there and move to Broken Wheel. Because a book about books can’t be wrong.
Through Amazon Prime I have access to movies, TV series, etc, directly streamed to the TV (if you have it connected to the internet, that is) or to the Kindle or wherever. And I found a movie from 2010 I hadn’t seen, by Rob Reiner, called Flipped that had a similar effect. A gentle movie, good for family viewers, set in the late 1950s. I haven’t read the original book, but now I’m quite curious about it. The critics didn’t seem to like it very much, although viewers were kinder. OK, it’s no Stand By Me, not many movies are, but it is a kind movie, for all the family, mostly about children, their families, and I particularly enjoyed watching John Mahoney (from Frasier fame) portrayal as the grandad, and thought Anthony Edwards played with considerable restraint a truly unsympathetic character.
Just in case you feel curious, here is the link to IMDB:
You’ll remember a couple of weeks ago I published a post on reviews (by the way, many thanks for all the comments. It was one of the most dynamic posts I’ve published and I enjoyed the discussion it created). As I mentioned, apart from just reading for the blog and posting the reviews in a variety of sites, I do reviews for BTS e-magazine (click on the widget at the bottom of the post to go to the current number if you enjoy reading about new books and checking reviews) and although the actual reviews belong to the magazine, I like to share some of the books if I think you might enjoy them.
I’ve read some pretty heavy books recently and I don’t know you, but I like to combine light reads with heavier stuff. I reviewed these two books for the magazine, both by female authors, that I enjoyed and were like a breath of fresh air. I’ll give you a taster and you can see what you think:
The Contract by Violet L. Ryan
Orphaned Grace Barnett receives many proposals because her property has a dependable year-round water supply. She agrees to marry Jacob Cooper, the stranger from the ranch next door who claims he’ll never fall in love. They’ll have only a straightforward contract.
Jilted two years before, Jake doesn’t trust women. He wants water rights, heirs, and a peaceful home. He expects the boyish girl next door to provide these without the messiness of emotions. When he sees her walk down the aisle, dressed as a woman, clean, and lovely, an inner struggle begins. Two strangers learning to live together in a house filled with emotional conflict and family intrigue will test their ability to cope and hinder chances to fall in love.
One paragraph from my review to give you an idea of what I thought:
With arch-villains, scheming ex-loves and relatives, handsome cowboys, formidable women, sexy Native-Americans and plenty of action, what the characters lack in psychological depth and consistency, they make up for in the sheer variety of misunderstandings and adventures they get involved in.
It reminded me of ‘The Little House of the Prairie’ and it made me smile.
I loved the heroine who is innocent but resourceful and I think you’ll like her too. And the rest of the characters added to the mix.
The author has written quite a few books and she sounds like someone I’d like to meet. Just check her page here:
On quite a different note, setting and everything, but again written by another formidable female author (Australian in this case), I read:
See You In Hell (Mel Goes to Hell. Book 2)
A devilishly hot CEO. The angelic new office temp. A match made in Heaven or Hell?
Melody Angel takes a job as a temp at the HELL Corporation. Surrounded by eternal bureaucracy gone mad, demons who love making life miserable, and dying for a decent coffee, it may take a miracle for Mel’s mission to succeed. She must find out what evil plans Lucifer and his minions have in store and stop them, using any means necessary.
Adding trouble and temptation to Mel’s job is Luce Iblis, the damnably hot CEO, who has set his smouldering eyes on the new office angel and he’s determined to claim her, body and soul.
Can ultimate evil and angelic perfection escape a limbo of desire and find a paradise of their own?
A tiny taste of what’s in store:
“Do you know how long you’ve made me wait?” Luce lifted his chin. “Close the door.”
Mel turned and kicked the door shut with the sole of one shoe. The click of it closing coincided with her eyes meeting Luce’s once more.
“Now strip and get your arse on the desk,” Luce instructed.
Mel stared at him. He couldn’t be serious, could he?
“Every other girl in this building knows how to do as she’s told. Do you know how many girls I’ve had on this desk? You should consider yourself lucky. The last one I had in here was so quick getting undressed that I managed to give her a full fifteen minutes of my time. At this rate, you’ll be lucky to have five.”
Mel became transfixed by the timber desktop. “Did you wipe it clean afterwards?”
“What?” Luce’s face reddened.
Mel Goes to Hell series
This is the second book in the Mel Goes to Hell series, which includes:
Welcome to Hell (#1) – FREE
See You in Hell (#2)
Mel Goes to Hell (#3)
To Hell and Back (#4)
The Holiday From Hell (#5) (to be released 26 March 2015)
This book I must tell you I thoroughly enjoyed. Despite what you might think, it is not erotica (it’s not high in my list of priorities and unless I’m really interested in the book I’ll avoid books where that’s the main focus) and no descriptive sex, although it is sexy (but you might disagree). What I don’t think you’ll disagree on is that it’s a good read and fun.
This is the beginning of my review:
If like me, you’ve also imagined hell as a bureaucratic nightmare where political correctness and paperwork are masters and your boss is Lucifer himself, you should read this novel. Imagine a world where Hell is in charge of most branches of the public sector.
There is romance, a fantastic angel at the centre of the book, and the cast of characters reminded me of Greek gods, as angels and demons are very human and recognisable, and by the end of it…Oh well, you go on and read it.
And, extremely good news. If you want to try the first short story in the series, this one is free:
Welcome to Hell (Mel Goes to Hell Book 1)
“Good morning. Welcome to HELL.”
Mel hates job interviews – and this one’s shaping up to be the interview from Hell.
From the grumpy receptionist to the disturbingly demonic interview panel and the sleazy CEO, it seems landing her first job is the least of Mel’s worries.
Can she make it out of the office alive without selling her soul?
A tiny taste of what’s in store:
Lilith opened the door, waiting for Mel to leave first. Mel did so, almost running into a man in a dark suit.
His coffee splashed high, yet he caught most of it in his cup. Not a spot landed on Mel – just one on the man’s shoe. “Damn,” he swore, swiping at it with a black handkerchief that appeared almost instantly in his hand. As he rose from his crouch, he took in Mel’s attire, from her toes to her raised eyebrows.
He summoned a smile that clashed with the stormy expression in his eyes. “I don’t believe I’ve seen you in the office before and I make it a point to know all of my staff intimately.” He handed the dripping cup to Mel’s haughty interviewer, who took it without a murmur, even as some of the coffee slopped onto Lilith’s shoes.
He held out his hand to shake Mel’s. “Luce Iblis, CEO of the HELL Corporation.”
Mel gave him her fingers, in such a way that he couldn’t crush them in his firm handshake.
“I’m Mel,” she began.
“This is her first time here. She’s being interviewed for a position here at Health, Environment, Life and Lands Corporation – as my executive officer,” Lilith said.
Luce’s eyes stared hungrily at Mel as she lowered her gaze. “Is that so? I suspect I’ll be seeing a lot more of you very soon, then. I look forward to welcoming you to HELL.”
When I finished the previous one I wanted to start reading this one but unfortunately my Kindle hadn’t downloaded it properly (only to the Cloud) and I had no connection where I was at the time. And then I started reading another book so… But I must say I found the other one therapeutic.
I’ve read and heard a variety of arguments on the subject or reviews. Much advice to authors focuses on the need to obtain reviews, on how important they are, on professional reviews (yes, because scandals apart, there are places, Kirkus reviews to name one of the best known, for example, that provide reviews for money, but we’re talking about honest, unbiased reviews, so as an author you might be in the weird situation of paying to get something bad said about you…hey, one can get that for free!), on bloggers who provide reviews, on methods to try and get reviews even before the book is finished (the famous ARC or ‘advance review copy’) as sales seem somehow linked to reviews. (It’s a bit of a catch 22 situations. Like trying to get a job on something you’ve never worked on before. Employers want experience and recommendations but you can’t get experience unless you get a first job on the field. Welcome to this world. Psychiatry is easy by comparison). Even if you’re trying to give your book for free, if you want to advertise it in certain sites, you need to have a number of five star reviews…(and in some cases pay a fair amount, like with Bookbub. Yes, dear readers, you have to pay to advertise that your book is for free. I told you psychiatry was easier in comparison).
More recently I also read a post by an author (Angel Sefer) whose take on author reviews is quite similar to mine. Some people feel authors shouldn’t review other authors because they might be biased, or be doing it as an exchange with other authors and therefore their reviews won’t be “honest” (whatever definition of that you might choose. I think the term is very elastic these days and has been deconstructed beyond recognition). A writer and reader recently told me that readers might not take it kindly if they think that authors’ recommendation are not sincere and we’re recommending bad work, I guess making a very similar point. Amazon seems to think that authors should not review other writers in their same gender as it would be unfair competition (it seems they take the view that we’ll try and stab each other in the back).
I’m a reader. I’ve read since I learned how to, and it is one of my most enduring loves. Live always feels better with a book (or an e-reader full of books these days) in my hands. I have a BA and a PhD in American Literature and I’m used to writing about books and love it. Commenting on books and reviewing them afterwards enhances the experience for me. I’m not that bothered about the number of stars (in the case of Amazon, their only guidance is that 5 stars means ‘I love it’, 4 ‘I like it’, 3 ‘It’s OK’, 2 ‘I don’t like it’ and 1 ‘I hate it’. It doesn’t say that you should only give 5 stars to the best book you’ve ever read, because then you would have to choose one of the books you’ve read in all your life, and even make a judgement on the books you might read int he future, and if you think about other products, because Amazon as we know sells everything or pretty close, when would you give 5 stars to other products? If you get it quickly, it works well, and it does what it’s supposed to do. Or would you expect a TV to make you breakfast, or an iron to tell you the news?) I’m more interested in explaining the things that made the book enjoyable, distinctive and special for me. I’m fully aware that people have different tastes and by highlighting different aspects of the books I think others might get a better idea if they’d like the book or not. For example, I’m not that enamoured of very long descriptions of people, places and clothes, but I can admire and acknowledge the skills of some authors writing them and I know some people love them. They are not bad, they’re just not what I’d choose. But I’m not the person writing the book and I know how hard it is to write, edit and correct time and again a book. Yes, I might like an idea and think of other ways of writing the same story, but I’m neither the author nor the editor, so I wouldn’t base my judgement on what I’d do instead. That’s not my task as a reviewer. Authors deserve respect.
I review books for an online magazine and as part of the instructions we get is that we have to follow guidelines and if we don’t like a book we must give it a low score. Luckily, so far it hasn’t happened.
I also take part in book blogs. The usual understanding, if you agree to provide reviews, is that if you feel your review is going to be under 3 stars you should abstain from publishing it during the time of the tour but are free to do so afterwards. It sounds reasonable to me, and of course you’re not obliged to take part. (By the way, blogs taking part in blog tours are not paid for taking part, although if you agree to review you’re sent a copy of the book in advance. And usually get thanked by the organiser and the author.That is it.) I’ll confess in one occasion I withdrew from a blog tour. I didn’t think the book deserved less than 3 stars, but I didn’t enjoy it and couldn’t think of something fair to the book I could write. The book and I were simply not a good fit. And no, I won’t tell you what book it was. It’s doing quite well and evidently many people think differently from me. I’m pleased for the author.
My personal take on the matter is that it would be a waste and silly not to write reviews just because I happen to write too. I don’t think one can be a writer if one is not a reader. I will try and write thought-out reviews that I hope can give others an indication of what they might or might not like in a book, whatever my personal take on it. If I don’t like a book and think that I would give it a very low score, I would not post a review. I would post a bad review of a product that I felt would endanger somebody or was a fraud or a rip-off, but books take a lot more work than the money they charge for them, and my personal taste is by no means the be all and end all.
Thanks for reading, sorry for the sermon, and please, tell me what you think, like, share, and comment if you feel like it. The links take you to my pages in some of the sites as an example and because… one never knows!
As you’ll remember last week I brought you some of the books I had reviewed recently that I though you might find inspiring if you were looking for something to buy for your nearest and dearest (and of course, who’s nearest and dearest than your good selves?). As I’m a writer and an avid reader, I’ve always loved to have books as presents, so…
I started reviewing for BTS-e Magazine a few months back. The deal is that the reviews belong to the magazine although we can share bits of them and links. I’ve read now a few books and thought that although I wasn’t going to share the reviews (or only a bite-sound of it) you might find something interesting there. I’m also sharing the description of the books for more info.
Here is the link to the magazine where there are many more reviews (you can also click on the button down for up-to-date numbers of the magazine). Some of my reviews will be still pending, so consider this a preview:
Deep within the Canadian wilderness, people have been disappearing for over a century. There is a place the locals call “the Devil’s Woods”, but to speak of it will only bring the devil to your door. It is a place so evil that even animals avoid it.
When their father’s expedition team goes missing, Kyle Elkheart and his brother and sister return to the abandoned Cree Indian reservation where they were born. Kyle can see ghosts that haunt the woods surrounding the village—and they seem to be trying to warn him. The search for their father will lead Kyle and his siblings to the dark heart of the legendary forest, where their mission will quickly become a fight for survival.
Written in a direct style, with vivid descriptions that make you live the action, psychologically complex characters you get to care for and a good rhythm that never lets you off the hook.
And I did like it so much that I repeated with another one of the author’s books:
Beneath the city of Boston, evil is gathering.
Journalist Daniel Finley is determined to save the impoverished of the world. But the abandoned part of humanity has a dark side too. While living under a bridge with the homeless for six months, Daniel witnessed something terrifying. Something that nearly cost him his sanity.
Now, two years later, he’s published a book that exposes a deadly underground cult and its charismatic leader. And Daniel fears the vagrants are after him because of it. At the same time, his father is being terrorized by vicious mobsters. As he desperately tries to help his father, Daniel gets caught up in the middle of a war between the Irish-American mafia and a deranged cult of homeless people who are preparing to shed blood on the streets of Boston.
This is seriously scary read (and I love my horror!). Don’t say I didn’t warn you and come crying back to me!
Here a brief snippet of my review:
The story is shorter and tighter, graphically rendered and truly terrifying. Prepared to be scared.
If you like thrillers that keep you guessing:
*** SECOND PLACE WINNER in the suspense category of the 2014 INTERNATIONAL DIGITAL AWARDS ***
It’s always wonderful to be noticed … or is it?
To those around her, Maggie Callaghan appears to have the perfect life…a handsome husband, three beautiful children, and her own business. But beneath her thin veneer lies a dark past and self-doubts. When evidence of her husband’s infidelity surfaces, Maggie leases a cottage on the Maine coast and prepares for her inevitable divorce. But a serial killer is on the hunt–and he’s marked Maggie as his next victim. Now her beachside retreat is the focus of an undercover FBI investigation targeting the murderer who’s left a trail of bodies across two states. As lies and secrets are revealed, Maggie realizes her life depends on knowing who’s protecting her–and who’s got her in his sights.
I must admit this books wrongfooted me from the very beginning. It is written in a very intriguing way, and it goes to show how point of view can be put to excellent use.
A brief extract from my review:
Red herrings, confusing clues and creepy guys with secret identities will keep you guessing throughout. A gripping read.
And, if you need something gentle and relaxed for all ages try this romance:
A NEXT DOOR Category Romance
How can one small town cause Betsey Jones such big problems?
Betsey Jones has one simple desire: to spend a peaceful summer in her hometown of Milford Falls, Michigan, while she decides what to do with the rest of her life. But Betsey hadn’t figured on being blackmailed into competing in the Miss Firecracker contest, mentoring a teen who didn’t want a faux big sister or coming face to face with Quentin Hayes, the cocky jock from her high school years.
Quent knew his editor wasn’t happy with him, but he never expected to be banished to Milford Falls to report on a beauty pageant as punishment. Once there he realizes his past wasn’t quite as he remembered it, Betsey is far different than the usual beauty queen wannabe and that everything he’s always wanted may not be what he really needs.
Although it’s set during the summer, I think it might be the ticket for Christmas when sometimes things can get quite stressful. No big surprises, just a gentle ride, full of characters you’d like to have as neighbours in real life.
Comfortable as an old pair of slippers….It will make you smile but it won’t rock your world.
I hope you might find something of interest to yourself or one of your loved ones. But don’t worry, I’ll keep bringing you more ideas and suggestions on Fridays.
Thanks to all the authors who’ve worked so hard to bring us these awesome books, and thanks to you for reading. And you know the drill: like, share, comment and CLICK!
Ah, and as a bonus, you’ll have noticed Sally Cronin kindly featured one of my selected carols in one of her posts in the series of the 12 days of Christmas. When reading the comments I remembered this parody of the 12 days of Christmas by Frank Kelly (Father Jack in the series Father Ted). I had to share. It always makes me howl with laughter. Do click!
As you know I’m a bit busy writing but I promised you I would try and keep bringing you new books.
Today I bring you the newest work by an author who has visited us before (and I’ve had the pleasure of reading one of his novels and have more of his on my list), Christoph Fischer.
His new book, Conditions is receiving plenty of attention, and you’ll soon realise why:
When Charles and Tony’s mother dies the estranged brothers must struggle to pick up the pieces, particularly so given that one of them is mentally challenged and the other bitter about his place within the family.
The conflict is drawn out over materialistic issues, but there are other underlying problems which go to the heart of what it means to be part of a family which, in one way or another. has cast one aside.
Prejudice, misconceptions and the human condition in all forms feature in this contemporary drama revolving around a group of people who attend the subsequent funeral at the British South Coast.
Meet flamboyant gardener Charles, loner Simon, selfless psychic Elaine, narcissistic body-builder Edgar, Martha and her version of unconditional love and many others as they try to deal with the event and its aftermath.
I wanted to share some of the reviews (all 5 stars) of the book, but they were all so detailed and so heartfelt that I didn’t manage to choose and I thought the fairest thing would be for you to go and see.
I’m sharing a couple of Christoph’s blogs also, as he shares the work of other writers and he’s an avid reader (so you’ll get plenty of reviews). And pay attention to the second blog, as Christoph is talking about the characters of his book, so you’ll get much more information…
Thanks so much to Christoph Fischer for his visit, thanks to you all for reading, and you know the drill, like, share, comment and of course, don’t forget to CLICK!
Oh, Ronovan of Ronovan Writes fame has kindly agreed to having me as one more of his team working towards encouraging indie writers and helping promote their work at Literary World Interviews.
As I’m writing, writing, writing, I haven’t had much chance to create a lot of original content (other than the said writing), but as I keep reading I’ve managed to post a couple of reviews there and I leave you the links here (I debated reblogging but reblogs get me quite confused and I’d rather you visit the site directly, as there’s a lot of great content there).
Today I’m pleased to take part in the Blog Tour for a great novel by author Amy Metz Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction. I truly enjoyed the novel and I’m including my review later on. I leave you some details about the author and the book first. Ah, and don’t miss the chance to take part in the Giveaway.
About the author Amy Metz is the mother of two sons and is a former first grade teacher. When not actively engaged in writing or enjoying her family, Amy can usually be found with a mixing spoon, camera, or book in her hands. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky and can be found at:
Murder & Mayhem In Goose Pimple Junction by Amy Metz
Over one month on Amazon Best sellers lists Murder & Mayhem In Goose Pimple Junction is a humorous southern mystery that will keep you laughing and guessing until the very end.
Tess Tremaine starts a new life in the colorful town of Goose Pimple Junction thinking she’s moved to a quiet little burg. Curiosity leads her to look into a seventy-five-year-old murder, and suddenly she’s learning the foreign language of southern speak, resisting her attraction to local celebrity Jackson Wright, and dealing with more mayhem than she can handle.
A bank robbery, murder, and family tragedy from the 1930s are pieces of the mystery, which Tess attempts to solve. As she gets close to the truth, she encounters danger, mystery, a lot of southern charm, and a new temptation for which she’s not sure she’s ready. Amazon Best seller lists:
Top 100 in Books & Kindle Women Sleuths
Top 100 in Books & Kindle Mystery
Top 100 in Author ranking Books & Kindle Mystery
Rated 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon from 125 reviews
“The author has created a cast of characters that are quirky and lovable. Their southern charm, crazy antics and hysterical dialogue will keep you in stitches.”
–Kathleen Anderson, Jersey Girls Book Reviews
“This book will soon be a favorite for all southerners. Very rarely do you find an author who can respectively capture the essence of the south and that quaint southern charm, but Amy Metz has done just that.”–Jennifer, of Southern Belle
“Enticed by a mystery, riveted to the swoon-worthy romance and tickled by the “countrified” life, I was thoroughly entertained on all levels.”–Carmen Pacheo, The Reading Cafe Book trailer:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vIbieSgVjk
Publisher: Southern Ink Press
Kindle and Paperback: 256 pages
Word count: 93,000
Genre: Mystery, humor
Available from: online stores such as amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com (see links below)
Review of ‘Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction’ by Amy Metz. Cosy mysteries, writers, plenty of humour and Southern flavour.
When I read the title and the description of Amy Metz’s ‘Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction’ I knew I had to read it. And I’m sure if I’d gone by a place with a name such as Goose Pimple Junction I would have felt compelled to visit it. And the place and the book were worth the visit.
There are novels where you might enjoy the story and the plot (it might be a clever or complicated one, one that makes you think, takes you to fascinating places you’ve never been or teaches you new things), but maybe you don’t connect with any of the characters. There are books where you feel as if you knew the characters and they could be your best friends, but the story is neither here nor there (you just hope to visit them again when something more interesting is happening), there are books that are wonderful flights of fancy you might follow or not… There are books that seem to have a bit of all in the right amount, and you can’t think of anything else that could make them any better. And there are the books that seem to fit in perfectly with the type of reading you need right at that moment.
‘Murder & Mayhem’ was the type of book that fitted perfectly with what I wanted and needed at the time. Life was a bit too serious for me, and the novel gave me a good laugh. I kept looking forward to Pickles’s T-shirts, to the trips to the dinner to try and guess what the orders would sound like, and to the fantastic conversations, and pratfalls. It has mystery and an interesting story that kept my thoughts engaged (and took me away from some not so nice topics), but not so complicated that it made it impossible not to lose track. It also expands through several generations and follows the families and events that have made the place and the people what it is. It has a gentle love story where the protagonists are writers of a certain age and with backstories but both the salt of the earth (what woman would not love Jack, and Tess is also irresistible), it has unforgettable 4th of July celebrations, strange family liaisons, food, dogs…
Author Amy Metz manages to juggle all the balls and doesn’t let them drop. She keeps the pace of the story, turning from past to present, mixing local flavour with mystery and shady dealings, and creates realistic characters that keep surprising you by refusing to be caricatures or one-phrase jokes. The novel is a good old-fashioned mystery, a great romance, a fun book (without nastiness or bile) and it will leave you with a smile on your face.
If you’re looking for gritty, realistic and bloody crime books, you dislike local character, or expect heavy sex scenes; this will not be your book. But if you’re looking for a fun book, that will keep you reading, laughing and thinking, and will take you away from your day to day life, do not hesitate and read this book. I know I’ve already booked a space for the whole series in my Kindle.