10 Reasons Your Book Is Not Getting Reviewed (by #BookBloggers) #MondayBlogs #WriterTip

Ten reasons your book is not getting reviewed (by #bookbloggers)

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Do you keep submitting your books to bloggers, but are yet to have them reply with a ‘yes, I’d be happy to review it?’. Book bloggers do get snowed under, and sometimes state on their blogs that they’re currently closed for submissions. What if this is not the case, though, but you still keep getting a ‘thanks, but no thanks’, or no reply at all?

 

Do any of the following apply to you? If so, it might be an idea to have a rethink.

  1. You’ve sent a generic request, without finding out the blogger’s name (forget ‘dear book blogger’!), having a browse around it to see how he/she reviews, and if the blog will take self-published books, or those from independent presses; some don’t.
  2. Your request is badly written, with typos, grammatical or punctuation errors, or it’s too informal. You’re not expected to write a business letter, but cracking jokes/trying to be funny is off-putting.
  3. You haven’t checked out the genres the author prefers. Or you have, and are trying to squash your romance book with a tiny unanswered question into her preferred category of ‘mystery’, etc.
  4. You’ve taken no previous interest in the blog, have never shared or retweeted a post, never read one or commented, not followed the blogger on Twitter (if the blog is promoted via this site), or via WordPress or blogger.
  5. Your blurb is badly written, has errors, is too long, is a rambling synopsis of the plot, is too short, or doesn’t adequately portray the book’s genre.
  6. The ‘Look Inside’ sample that anyone can read on Amazon has errors. Many book bloggers look at this sample first, and even an out of place comma can put some off. If it has actual typos, grammatical errors or spelling mistakes, forget it. Your first page should ‘hook’ the reader in. It’s also a good idea if you leave all the author notes, etc, to the end, so that anyone who looks at the sample can start reading the book itself more or less straight away.
  7. Your other reviews are all very obviously from friends and family – by which I mean all 5*, and all from people who have never reviewed anything else, or only a couple of other products. Most new writers start off by getting friends and family to review, but if they’re all just one or two lines saying that it’s the best book that’s ever been written, it makes you look unprofessional and desperate.
  8. Your cover is a free Amazon standard, or very badly homemade. Of course not everyone can afford professional covers, but you can buy them for as little as £30 these days, if you don’t have the skills to make your own. Not bothering with the cover might give the impression that you’ve skimped on the book itself, too. You’ll probably be able to get away with a substandard cover if the blurb sounds really brilliant, but if your book keeps being rejected, it might be worth thinking about making the investment.
  9. Your review request bigs the book up, and tells of other wonderful reviews and awards. Bragging doesn’t impress; it has the opposite effect. Do the book blogger the honour of allowing him/her to make his/her own judgement.
  10. You have been rude or made bitter comments about other book bloggers online. The internet can be a surprisingly small place, sometimes, and it doesn’t take much to get a bad reputation.

 

Last point:  If someone has taken the time, at your request, to read and write a review, and post it all over social media, have the decency to thank them.  One book blogger told me that about a fifth of the writers she’s reviewed for don’t do this.  Even more staggering, some of them actually ask her to review a subsequent book.  Don’t be one of these people!

If none of those items apply to you, keep trying! If you think a particular book blogger really would be interested in your work, let him/her know why you’ve chosen the blog, and why you think he or she might be interested in your book. Good luck!

10 Things For #BookBloggers To Do During a Thunderstorm @CPhilippou123 @Urbanepub @lilac_hippo

Mad cows and …… no wait, perhaps it’s just me, the mad book blogger, who heads out when the sky is black and the thunder is rumbling.

10 things to do in a thunderstorm 

  1. Attend a book launch preferably before the storm really hits, then you have a new book to read.
  2. Read the book you got at the book launch, who can sleep through all that thunder?
  3. If the power fails, read by torchlight.
  4. Be too scared to get out of bed until the last minute even though you really, really need to pee
  5. Try to pee in the dark, as you are afraid to pull the light switch, hoping the lightening will show you the way, easier for women than men to pee in the dark.
  6. Brave the madness to make sure all your book blogging social networking is “saved” in case the storm knocks out the power.
  7. Consider using the hours you are awake during the storm to mentally draft up a blog post for the next day.
  8. Contact all your friends via social media who might also be awake and have a chat about the storm.
  9. Try putting in your ear phones and listening to music to drown out the noise.
  10. Get a drink and a snack and watch the lightening show.

And now back to the book launch.

Last evening I went along to The WeySide pub in Guildford (yes the sky was indeed black and the thunder rumbling)  to the book launch of Christina Philippou’s debut novel LOST IN STATIC a gritty tale set in a university. There I met Chris’s book publisher Matthew from Urbane Publications who was happy to talk about the work he does with authors, a genuine great guy I was pleased to hear that he has worked on getting Chris’s book placed in several book stores, Waterstones being one of them.

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I also met a fellow book blogger Neats Wilson from the Haphazardous Hippo blog do go check out her blog, a voracious reader, she described her reading likes as eclectic. @lilac_hippo

Neats

If you missed my review of Lost In Static earlier this week here is a reminder.

Lost In Static is a gritty contemporary drama set in an English university. The main characters are four first year students and we follow their lives from beginning to end of that first year.

Ruby is a tom boy, and a huge football fan, she plays in the uni football team, she’s quiet and insecure at times, but popular.

Juliette is running away from home-life and its restrictions. A chain smoker from a strong religious upbringing, uni gives her an opportunity to push new boundaries.

Callum is the good looking one, but has his own secrets.

Yasmine; cold and callous, ready to use anyone for her greater good and will stop at nothing to get her own way.

As the students meet each other in their shared halls of residence, opinions are formed, friendships made, enemies engaged all with a heavy dose of drinking. Callum likes Ruby, Ruby is friends with Juliette, Yasmine hates Juliette, wants Callum and is jeolous of Ruby.

The book opens with one of these students being taken away in an ambulance after a serious accident. Divisions within the group have been split wide, but why? The story then turns back to the first day of term so that we, the reader, can learn of events which lead to the accident. It is built up in delicious layers where we are drip fed snippets and clues, so we too can build our own opinions.

Each student’s side of the story is cleverly told; Ruby’s narrative includes lots of internal dialogue, emphasising her lack of confidence. Callum tells us his version via e-mails to a secret contact. Juliette uses the fourth wall method of speaking to the reader, while Yasemine’s side is told through well known narrative.

The different POV’s are refreshing and move the story at just the right pace, I enjoyed seeing the slight differences in how events happened with each telling, just like any real-life perception of an event.

An excellent debut novel, showing a great strength of writing and could easily be enjoyed by a wide range of readers, although I wouldn’t recommend reading this just before letting go of your precious offspring for their first year at uni, leave it a couple of weeks at least!

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Matthew, Chris & Rosie

Matthew, Chris & Rosie

Sunday Connection Books We’ve Reviewed This Week Plus Links To The Blogosphere #SundayBlogShare

This week we’ve been reviewing the following:

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Monday – classic American historical fiction My Antonia by Willa Cather

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And Knights Templar historical fiction Daughter Of War by SJA Turney

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Tuesday – women’s fiction The Girl I Used To Know by Faith Hogan

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And family saga Madonna Of The Mountains by Elise Valmorbida

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Wednesday – Terry reviewed Tudor historical fiction Mary: Tudor Princess by Tony Riches

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Thursday – Noelle reviewed crime fiction The Maori Detective by DA Crossman

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Friday – Teri reviewed modern fairy tale The Royal Deal by DG Driver

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And I reviewed thriller Girl Without A Voice by Chris Bridge

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Saturday Judith reviewed thriller Hiding by Jenny M Potts

Plus links to interesting posts from the blogosphere.

Hashtags for new book bloggers

https://catonthebookshelf.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/the-guide-to-twitter-hashtags-for-new-book-bloggers/

A look behind the scenes of a small press publisher

http://www.scifiandscary.com/small-press-interview-crystal-lake-publishing/

How to write better fight scenes

http://www.springhole.net/writing/write-better-action-and-fight-scenes.htm

Being Published – Part 1 The Contract

http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2018/04/being-published-part-1-contracts.html

What is it really like to be an author?

https://ronelthemythmaker.wordpress.com/2018/04/13/what-is-it-really-like-to-be-a-writer-atozchallenge/

Sunday Connection – This Week’s #BookReviews Plus Links To The Blogosphere #SundayBlogShare

This week we’ve been reviewing the following books:

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Monday – Barb reviewed fantasy The Jack Of Ruin by Stephen C Merlino

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I reviewed non fiction The Friendship Cure by Kate Leaver

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Tuesday – I reviewed mild thriller The Intruder by P.S Hogan

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Wednesday – Eleanor reviewed historical romance The Viscount And The Vicar’s Daughter by Mimi Matthews

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Thursday – Judith W reviews scifi The Happy Chip by Dennis Meredith

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Friday – Jessie reviewed historical fantasy The Falcon Flies Alone by Gabrielle Mattieu

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Saturday – Alison reviewed family memoir Castles In The Air by Alison Ripley

Plus Links To The Blogosphere

Good advice for pitching your book

https://thisislitblog.com/2018/03/18/authorsgetlit-the-real-reason-your-book-pitch-keeps-getting-rejected/

Modern demands for word-counts in books

http://annerallen.com/2018/03/word-count-guidelines-by-genre/

Drew tackles a common theme among book bloggers

https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/reasons-why-a-blogger-declines-your-review-request-and-doesnt-want-you-on-their-blog-bookbloggers-bookblogger-bloggers-blogger-authors-blogpost/

Can Authors vote on Amazon reviews of their own book?

https://buildbookbuzz.com/vote-on-amazon-reviews/

Help understanding Goodreads bookshelves

http://avalinahsbooks.space/guide-to-goodreads/

 

#NewRelease #Romantic #Crime #Thriller Parallel Lies by @GeorgiaRoseBook #TuesdayBookBlog

Today is release day for Parallel Lies I’m hugely grateful to all the bloggers and reviewers who have been so generous offering their time and space on their blogs.

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Readers get the chance to meet Madeleine for the first time, and here she is…

Book Description

My name is Madeleine, Madeleine Ross. It is a name chosen with thought and because it is classy, and that is what is needed here…

Madeleine Ross has life exactly as she planned it.

Cosy cottage, friendly village, satisfying job.

Company… when she wants it.

It’s an enviable existence for an independent young woman, and one she’s keen to protect.

Enter Daniel – strong, dependable and a danger to everything she’s built. He’s not something she was looking for, but hearts can’t be controlled and maybe, just maybe he might be worth letting into hers.

But, all is not what it seems. Because Madeleine is hiding a lifetime of secrets. Deep secrets.

And they never stay buried for ever.

Her darkest secret returns, like the proverbial bad penny. He is her first love, shadowy, dangerous, the baddest of bad boys. No matter how far she runs, or how well she hides, she can never escape him.

Or her past.

Here he is, on her doorstep, with a proposition she is powerless to resist but which could devastate the future she hoped to have.

Can Madeleine satisfy the old love while keeping the new?

You can’t always get what you want but, desperate to preserve the life she has worked so hard for, Madeleine is willing to risk everything to prove that she can.

Buy Parallel Lies by Clicking Here

Or enter this Giveaway,  Open until September 26th.

A Rafflecopter giveaway

Win paperback copies of A Single Step, Before the Dawn, Thicker than Water and Parallel Lies!_
Plus! Large and small heart covered notebooks, 5 heart decorated Thank You cards, Butlers Milk Chocolate Hearts, Divine Dark Chocolate Hearts, a tin of Lovehearts and a bag of Percy and Penny sweets.

What readers are saying about Parallel Lies:

‘Parallel Lies is an intelligent, entertaining read which I devoured greedily in a few days. If you are looking for a thriller with a dark edge then I can’t recommend this novel highly enough.’ Lindley Reviews

‘I loved this book and read it in just a couple of sessions. The writing is good and the characters, especially Madeleine, are well-drawn. The storyline is original and the level of suspense kept building. A great new book from Georgia Rose, highly recommended.’ Elizabeth Ducie

‘I really enjoyed reading Parallel Lies, a beautifully written mystery with more twists and turns than a rattlesnake. Maddy is not your typical heroine, she comes with all manner of faults and failings. Some you won’t approve of, but you will understand them.’ Anita Dawes

‘If you are any kind of romance reader, or like a light thriller with a bit of drama and a bunch of suspense, you’ve got to get your hands on this book!’ Behind the Willows

I also loved that Maddy is no victim and is clearly a strong character that does not need a man to come save her. She handles her business!’ Ms Circumspect

‘There are a lot of things going on in this book. It is well written and keeps your attention throughout.’ Sassy Redhead Book Reviews

‘Mystery and romance peppered with a lot of attitude, this is a thrill of a read.’ Christina Philippou

‘…it’s a cracking good read, a mixture of mystery and crime with an overlay of romance.’ Judith Barrow

‘This is a book which surprises and intrigues the reader with an unusual but likeable heroine who will win your loyalty. A highly recommended read.’ Lizanne

Thank you to everyone who requested an ARC and for taking the time to read and the trouble to review Parallel Lies. I appreciate all your efforts towards giving my book a good start in life.

About the author

Georgia Rose is a writer and the author of the romantic and suspenseful Grayson Trilogy books: A Single Step, Before the Dawn and Thicker than Water. A short story, The Joker, based on a favourite character from the series followed and is free to download from Amazon.

Her fourth novel, Parallel Lies, a standalone, encompasses crime along with Georgia’s usual blending of genre.

Georgia’s background in countryside living, riding, instructing and working with horses has provided the knowledge needed for some of her storylines; the others are a product of her overactive imagination!

Passionate about horses if she wasn’t reading Enid Blyton she would be reading horse fiction and non-fiction. She has been involved with horses throughout her life, both riding and teaching and still holds out hope that one day she will asked to be part of the jousting team at Warwick Castle.

Her busy life is set in a tranquil part of rural Cambridgeshire in the UK where she lives with her much neglected husband and dog. Their son, currently at university, comes and goes and their daughter, having delighted them all for long enough, has eventually moved out, got married, and is discovering the joys of being all grown up and having a mortgage!

*****

Thank you for opportunity to launch Parallel Lies here, Rosie, it has been a pleasure to visit.

A Good Win and a Big Thank You #BloggersBash #MondayBlogs

To all our readers and supporters

As many of you will know, the recent Bloggers Bash award ceremony took place in London, with many bloggers attending, even from far flung places outside the UK.  I was unable to be there in person, but kept an eye on the proceedings via Twitter and videos kindly posted by the organisers, Sacha, Hugh and others.  I’m delighted to announce that Rosie Amber blog won third place in the Best Book Blog award!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who nominated and voted for us, and helped to spread the word about the awards.  Also, review team member Shelley won second place for her own blog in ‘Most Inspiring’, and Barb won fourth place-that-was-nearly-third in ‘Funniest’.  This is all terrific recognition for our team.

Noelle Granger and Shelley Wilson #RBRT team members at the Bash

Since I started this blog some years back, just because I wanted to write about the books I enjoy, it’s grown bigger than I ever could have imagined, and I now have a team of around thirty reviewers.  We take books from self-publishers, small independents and larger publishers alike, and there’s a place on our submissions list for almost all genres.  I believe the success of the blog is down to the support of its readers, the hard work of me and my team, and the fact that our reviews are always honest and genuine; although we don’t offer a guaranteed 4 and 5* review service, I think that our readers and the vast majority of authors who submit appreciate the value of this.  I must also thank some of my team members who supply useful posts to help writers and other bloggers, on my Wednesday Wing feature.

Members of the #RBRT review team: Terry, Alison, Cathy, Me and Barb. Cathy and Barb were also nominated for Bash awards.

So another big thank you to the organisers of the Bloggers Bash, to everyone who has supported us, recently and in the past, and I hope we can continue to provide a great service to avid readers, authors and bloggers everywhere!

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Sinclair by @juliaherdman Georgian #HistFic #fridayreads

Today’s Second Team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Sinclair by Julia Herdman

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Sinclair, Tales of Tooley Street Vol. 1 by Julia Herdman is historical fiction and a twisting love story set in Georgian England, a setting I’ve come to enjoy from the mysteries written by William Savage. The author did not disappoint with this first outing, and I look forward to more from her.

Sinclair begins with two disparate story lines. Edinburgh surgeon, James Sinclair, is leaving England as well as his beloved, a woman he feels is out of his reach in society, to make his fortune with the East India Company. As a surgeon, Sinclair was educated in a medical school in Edinburgh, learning to perform surgeries, and trained in obstetrics. The ship on which he sails runs into a ferocious storm and founders on the English coast. Only he and Captain Frank Greenwood, who is overseeing a company of British soldiers deployed to India, survive the shipwreck. Both return to London shaken and adrift in their lives, both needing to find a way to support themselves.

The second story line begins in a Yorkshire farmhouse, where John Leadam and his mother, Charlotte, are mourning the sudden death of Christopher Leadam, a surgeon at Guy’s Hospital in London who, together with his wife, ran an apothecary on Tooley Street. Apothecaries at that time were not legal practitioners of medicine but had the drugs to treat people who could not afford a physician. Charlotte, as a woman, could not continue to run the apothecary without the onsite presence of a physician. John was his father’s apprentice, hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps. Now their lives are also adrift. Charlotte has no idea how she will support herself and her son, other than moving back into her parents’ upper class home. She dreads being married off by her mother, who disapproves of her deceased husband, to a wealthy, older man.

Gradually the lives of Charlotte, John, and Sinclair begin to interweave, brought together by Charlotte’s brother-in-law, who happens to be Sinclair’s lawyer. The book is interesting on many different levels: the plight of women and their utter dependence on men in Georgian society; the practice of medicine at the time; social customs; and the growing attraction between Charlotte and Sinclair and their off-again, on-again relationship. The author does not shirk from some of the more distasteful details of Sinclair’s dalliances nor the results of typically unprotected sex: disease, pregnancy and death.

There are many colorful characters to draw the reader, and the author does a perfect job making them memorable. The historical background is wonderfully detailed, as is the medical scene in London, evidence of the author’s interest in the medicine of the time. There are love affairs with twists and turns, villains and saviors, passion and politics – in short, everything needed for a great read.

The author was inspired to begin writing The Tales of Tooley Street series by a real family of apothecary surgeons, the Leadams, who lived and worked in London there from the late 18th century to the mid- 19th century.

I highly recommend this book: five stars.

Book Description

Edinburgh surgeon, James Sinclair is prepared to give up his family and the woman he loves to make his fortune with East India Company but when things don’t go to plan he is forced to start his life anew. Returning to London Sinclair finds himself torn between the love of two women – the young and attractive widow Charlotte Leadam the owner of the Tooley Street apothecary shop and the vivacious and clever Iona McNeal.
Thus begins the Tales of Tooley Street, a heart-warming and gripping saga about a family of apothecary surgeons in 18th century London. Set against the corruption and greed of the East India Company and the development of the medical profession in Georgian London this story of love and friendship has a cast of characters that will imprint themselves onto your heart forever.

About the author

Julia Herdman

Julia Herdman studied history at the University of Kent in Canterbury where she focused on medieval and early modern history reading the Roman classics, Norse sagas and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Now her interest and inspiration is the development of the urban middle class in Georgian Britain, particularly the development of the medical profession in Edinburgh and London. Writing about the things nice girls shouldn’t mention in polite conversation – politics, religion, sex and money is her passion. Her books are steeped in period detail and focus on family, friendship and love. At the heart of every story there is always a powerful and compelling romance.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

#Last Day To Vote We’ve been nominated for a Best Book Blogger in the 2017 BloggersBash awards and we need your votes. Please vote here (Best Book Blogger)

Thank you.

http://sachablack.co.uk/2017/05/18/2017-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-voting-open-bloggersbash-bloggersbash/

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Spirit Of Lost Angels by @LizaPerrat #HistFic #wwwblogs

Today’s second team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Spirit Of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat

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SPIRIT OF LOST ANGELS by Liza Perrat

4.5 out of 5 stars

Spirit of Lost Angels is Liza Perrat’s debut novel, and revolves around Victoire Charpentier, a peasant living in the village of Lucie-sur-Vionne.  It is linked to the later book, Blood Rose Angel, by the bone angel talisman passed down through generations.  This first novel in the trilogy takes place in the years leading up to the French Revolution.

Victoire’s life is one of tragic events indeed, as she loses those she loves to accident, illness, the danger and politics of the times, and at the careless hands of the nobility.  Cast into a brutal Parisian prison, she meets the notorious Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Remy who inspires within her the fire of revolution; I liked the inclusion of a real-life character in this work of fiction.  All the way through the book I appreciated the amount of research that has gone into writing this novel ~ such an entertaining way to fill in the gaps in my education.  I enjoyed reading about the lives of the rural peasants in the beginning of the book, and comparing this with the medieval life in Lucie, four hundred years earlier, in Blood Rose Angel.

Throughout the book, the gaping chasm between the lives of the poor and those of the ludicrously self-indulgent aristocracy is always evident; it was most interesting to read the thoughts of the time about the general lot of women, and, as in the medieval story, the restrictions due to social mores and religious belief/superstition.  Victoire lives many lives in her short one, and I was pleased to see return to Lucie, and reunite with the family she had longed for, for so many years, and to see wrongs overturned.

Showing the history of a country via the changes in one village over a period of six hundred years is such a great idea, and I now look forward to reading the third book in the trilogy, Wolfsangel, which is set during World War Two.

Book Description

Her mother executed for witchcraft, her father dead at the hand of a noble, Victoire Charpentier vows to rise above her poor peasant roots.

Forced to leave her village of Lucie-sur-Vionne for domestic work in Paris, Victoire suffers gruesome abuse under the ancien régime. Can she muster the bravery and skill to join the revolutionary force gripping France, and overthrow the corrupt, diabolical aristocracy?

Spirit of Lost Angels traces the journey of a bone angel talisman passed down through generations. The women of L’Auberge des Anges face tragedy and betrayal in a world where their gift can be their curse.

Amidst the tumult of revolutionary France, this is a story of courage, hope and love.

About the author

Liza Perrat

Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years.
When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her family for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.
Since completing a creative writing course ten years ago, several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine, France Today and The Good Life France.

Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in the French historical “The Bone Angel” series set against a backdrop of rural France during the French Revolution. The second in the series, Wolfsangel, set during the WWII Nazi Occupation of France, was published in October, 2013. The third, Blood Rose Angel, set during the 14th century Black Plague years was published in November, 2015.
Friends, Family and Other Strangers is a collection of humorous, horrific and entertaining short stories set in Australia.
Liza is a founding member of the Author Collective, Triskele Books and regularly reviews books for Bookmuse.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

#HotNews We’ve been nominated for a Best Book Blogger in the 2017 BloggersBash awards and we need your votes. Please vote here (Best Book Blogger)

Thank you.

http://sachablack.co.uk/2017/05/18/2017-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-voting-open-bloggersbash-bloggersbash/

 

 

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Practicing Normal by @CaraAchterberg #WomensFiction #wwwblogs

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs at http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg

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My review:

I was given a copy of this book as a gift and I freely chose to review it.

Tolstoi’s probably best-known quote: All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way fits perfectly this novel. As a psychiatrist, ‘normal’ is one of those terms that we always seem to come back to, even if it is impossible to define. It seems that normal is always what other people are, never us. Perhaps, as it is discussed in the novel in reference to Autism and Asperger’s, which are conditions that fall within a spectrum, the same is true for normality. It is not an on or off thing. Perhaps we all belong to some point within the spectrum, but we’d be hard pushed to find many people whom we’d all agree were ‘normal’, at least if we got to know them well.

The novel introduces us to the Turners, who live a reasonably comfortable life within a theoretically idyllic neighbourhood. Once we scratch a bit under the surface, we find: Jenna, the sixteen year old daughter, who is not a goth but likes to shave her hair, dye it in interesting colours, collects piercings and is an ace at breaking into neighbours’ houses (courtesy of her father’s job in a security company). Kate, her mother, is forever busy caring for everybody but herself. She has to look after her mother, Mildred, who might be dementing, or perhaps not, and who lives alone, never leaves the house and talks to her birds. She also has to look after JT, her son, with an Asperger’s diagnosis, who cycles through periods of obsession with different topics (ER Medicine, Fire-fighting…), has tantrums if his routine is disturbed, cannot read people’s expressions or understand their feelings, but is a genius at Maths and has an incredible memory. She also runs around the rest of the household and is always worried about her husband, Everett, who cheated on her once (that she knows of). The chapters alternate the first-person narrations of Jenna (who somehow becomes friendly with the rich, handsome and all-around nice neighbour, Wells, who isn’t, after all, the stereotypical jock), and Kate (whose sister, Evelyn, has made contact with their father, Frank, who left them when they were young children, and believes their mother has been lying to them) allowing the reader to better grasp, not only the secrets they all keep from each other, but also the different ways the same events can be interpreted and seen. Everett’s narration (also in the first person) joins later, giving us hints of more secrets to come, allowing us a more rounded picture and offering us a male perspective.

I found the first person narrations served well the topic, and the voices of the three narrators were very distinct and fitted in well with their characters. Although personally, I can’t say I liked Everett very much, no characters are despicable and all of them love their family and each other, even if they might go about it the wrong way. Jenna’s strong hostility towards her father is easy to understand, not only because he cheated on her mother (and is still doing it after promising not to) but because she had idealised him when she was a child and he’s shattered that illusion. She is clever, challenging and reckless but with a great heart (she doesn’t care for rules or conventions but has no bad intentions) and her romance will bring warm memories to all readers who are still young at heart. Kate is a woman who is always at the service of others and makes big efforts to ignore what she feels she can’t cope with, even if it means living a lie. But she learns that she is stronger than she thinks and grows during the novel. She also gets to understand that her dreams of romantic love are unrealistic, and we feel optimistic for her at the end. Everett is a man who lost his way (it seems) when he left his job as a policeman. Now, to feel better about himself he’ll do almost anything, not caring what the consequences for himself and others might be, and he always puts his needs before those of the rest of his family. He does not understand his children but he loves them and tries to do what he thinks is best, within limits. JT is a wonderful character, well-drawn and realistic in terms of the behaviours he exhibits and his relationship with Kate, Jenna and the rest of the family is heart-warming and has the ring of truth.

There are many secrets, some that come from a long time back and some much more recent, and the narrative is good at revealing them slowly, even if we might strongly suspect some of them, partly because we have access to the thoughts of several the characters (as they don’t communicate with each other that well). There are also many love stories and many different kinds of love that are explored. Ultimately, love must be about more than just saying the words and looking into each other’s eyes. It isn’t something we should feel automatically entitled to; it has to be proven and worked on, as Cassey, a friend of Jenna and later Kate, explains.

The secondary characters are also interesting, mostly sympathetic (with the exception of Wells’s family, and Evelyn, who comes across as self-centered and domineering) but not drawn in as much psychological detail as the members of the family, but they are far from unidimensional. I really liked Cassey, the hospice nurse who understands all the females of the family and helps them without asking anything in return, and Phil, a good man who, like Wells, disproves Mildred’s generalisations about men. Mildred, the grandmother, can be at once annoying and endearing, but eventually, we get to understand her a bit better, even if we might not necessarily agree with her actions. I also loved the animals, especially Marco.

This is a well-written book, where plot and characterisation go hand in hand, that offers good psychological insights into the nature of family relationships and the games members of a family play with each other. It also will make readers think about what love means and will remind them of the risks of keeping secrets, not only from others but also from ourselves. The narration flows well and once you get to know the characters it’s difficult to stop reading and you feel bereft when you come to the end as they’ve become part of the family. A great read.

I couldn’t leave you without sharing a few of the sentences I highlighted.

Never break more than one law at a time.

Kate talking about JT, her son, with Asperger’s: but I focus on what JT can do, not what he can’t.

Kate again, wondering about her son’s inability to read other people’s expressions and know what they’re feeling or thinking:

Maybe it would be easier to sail through life unaware of the emotions of the people around you.

And Jenna, on one of her typical (and oh, so accurate, sorry gentlemen) pearls of wisdom (although this one she keeps to herself):

If men didn’t have penises, they’d probably be a lot smarter.

Book Description

The houses in Pine Estates are beautiful McMansions filled with high-achieving parents, children on the fast track to top colleges, all of the comforts of modern living, and the best security systems money can buy. Welcome to normal upper-middle-class suburbia. The Turners know in their hearts that they’re anything but normal. Jenna is a high-schooler dressed in black who is fascinated with breaking into her neighbors’ homes, security systems be damned. Everett genuinely believes he loves his wife . . . he just loves having a continuing stream of mistresses more. JT is a genius kid with Asperger’s who moves from one obsession to the next. And Kate tries to manage her family, manage her mother (who lives down the street), and avoid wondering why her life is passing her by. And now everything is changing for them. Jenna suddenly finds herself in a boy-next-door romance she never could have predicted. Everett’s secrets are beginning to unravel on him. JT is getting his first taste of success at navigating the world. And Kate is facing truths about her husband, her mother, and her father that she might have preferred not to face. Life on Pine Road has never been more challenging for the Turners. That’s what happens when you’re practicing normal. Combining her trademark combination of wit, insight, and tremendous empathy for her characters, Cara Sue Achterberg has written a novel that is at once familiar and startlingly fresh.

About the author

Cara Sue Achterberg

Cara Sue Achterberg is a blogger and novelist who lives on a hillside farm in South Central, Pennsylvania.

Cara’s novels, I’m Not Her (August 2015, The Story Plant) and Girls’ Weekend (May 2016, Story Plant) are both works of women’s fiction. Her upcoming novel, Practicing Normal, will be published June 2017 by The Story Plant.

Cara is also the author of Live Intentionally, a nonfiction book based on ten years of trying to shop, cook, eat, and live intentionally with kids in tow. It’s a guidebook for the organic life.

Cara is a prolific blogger and currently posts on four (count ’em!) sites which can all be accessed through her website, CaraWrites.com.

Cara teaches creative writing and her essays and articles have been published in numerous anthologies, national magazines, websites, and blogs, in addition to local media. 

Cara grew up in Hockessin, Delaware (and still considers Delaware the best state of all). 

Cara is passionate about organic food, clean air, productive gardens, uncluttered lives, and real relationships. She is also passionate about adopting rescue dogs and currently fosters dogs and puppies for the all-breed rescue, Operation Paws for Homes.

Cara’s next project is a memoir about fostering her first fifty dogs. 

When not writing or weeding (which can sometimes be one and the same), Cara enjoys running, hiking, reading, visiting Virginia wineries, and trying not to fall off her favorite horse, True. 

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Cleaved by @SueColetta1 #Thriller #TuesdayBookBlog @Tirgearr

Today’s second team review is from Anita, she blogs here http://jenanita01.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Anita has been reading Cleaved by Sue Coletta

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Reviewer’s note: Cleaved … such an old fashioned emotive word and one used to great effect in this story.

This crime thriller opens with a gripping prologue. A woman is trapped inside a steel drum, terrified for her life. You are instantly there with her, experiencing every gruesome and terrifying moment as she tries to escape.

Somewhere in the Lake Region of New England, a ruthless killer is on the prowl. He needs to kill Sage Quintano, the author wife of the Sheriff, Niko Quintano, but his reason is not clear.

Someone starts to follow Sage, tormenting her with a nursery rhyme and then her world starts to fall apart. I loved the way the chapters alternated sometimes, as the two women in the story, Sage and her husbands female deputy, Frankie Campanelli take turns to build the tension and the story, and you couldn’t have two more different women than these.

I thought the plot and storyline were expertly handled, for despite all the confusing clues I couldn’t  tell the guilty from the innocent. The dialogue was handled well, with arguments strongly portrayed and believable. The tension builds gradually, almost painfully so. I read somewhere that the author actually experienced being inside a steel drum, for the sake of realism, I hope!

The interaction with the Quintano dogs, Colt and Ruger, was rather special too, the scene where Sage and the dogs comfort one another was really moving.

I would have preferred an English vocabulary, as some of the terms used were unfamiliar to me. And I’m not sure about the over description of the maggots!

I will be reading Marred, the first book in this series, as I know I will enjoy that one too, and I can find out what happened to Sage’s sister…

Book Description

Author Sage Quintano writes about crime. Her husband Niko investigates it. Together they make an unstoppable team. But no one counted on a twisted serial killer, who stalks their sleepy community, uproots their happy home, and splits the threads that bonds their family unit.
Darkness swallows the Quintanos whole–ensnared by a ruthless killer out for blood. Why he focused on Sage remains a mystery, but he won’t stop till she dies like the others.
Women impaled by deer antlers, bodies encased in oil drums, nursery rhymes, and the Suicide King. What connects these cryptic clues? For Sage and Niko, the truth may be more terrifying than they ever imagined.

About the author

Sue Coletta

Member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers, Sue Coletta is an award-winning, multi-published author in numerous anthologies, and her forensics articles have appeared in InSinC Quarterly.

In addition to her popular crime resource blog, Sue’s a radio host—check out “Partners In Crime” on Writestream Radio Network, Blog Talk Radio—the communications manager for the Serial Killer Project and Forensic Science and founder of #ACrimeChat on Twitter.

Sue lives with her husband in New Hampshire, surrounded by the sultry sounds of nature.

You can learn more about Sue and her books at: www.suecoletta.com

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