“It’s your review; to write as you want”. I carried this advice from Rosie Amber (#RBRT) around in my head as I struggled to find a way to put into words what I thought about the first book I’d read and was about to review for her team. I’d never reviewed a book before – or anything, come to think of it.
As a creative writing tutor, I was used to reading essays, stories, poems – but this was different. Five tries later and I decided to break up the parts of the book into sections, as I do for my work: characters, dialogue, settings, points of view, plot etc. A moment of eureka; I didn’t need to tell the story of the book, I could say what I thought were the strong points and what didn’t work for me, because I know any review is subjective, and what I might like or not be so keen on, someone else will always have different thoughts. Writing it that way I could then recommend it to readers who like a book that had a good plot, is character led, told in a certain tense, and so on – or for readers who like particular genres.
One thing I do like with being on the #RBRT team is that if I really can’t get to grips with a book, I’m not expected to finish it; I’ll let Rosie know and that’s the end of the matter. And I don’t give below three stars; I don’t think it’s fair to any writer who has worked hard to produce a book but has probably not used either an editor or a proof-reader. It happens and I always think it’s a shame if the plot/idea is good.
“It’s your review; to write as you want”; something I would say to anyone thinking of joining #RBRT, with the one proviso (which goes unsaid but should be kept in mind) use constructive criticism and be kind. And enjoy the reading. Rosie is approached by many authors of all kinds of genres, eager for the team to review. Their books are put on a list and we can choose the ones we think we might like. I’ve had the chance to read some wonderfully written books of all genres … for free. Although I don’t always manage to review as often as I’d like for Rosie’s Book Review Team, due to other commitments, I’ve loved being a member since I day I joined and I’ve made some brilliant and supportive on-line friends in the team. And Rosie is always there for advice and to steer the ship. What more can one ask?
I invited some of my team members to tell us more about being part of the book reviewing team.
Welcome to Noelle Granger, who also writes book reviews at Sayling Away
Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team has now been up and running for six years! I have been one of her book reviewers for much of that time. At first I only read books in my genre, but I gradually expanded to romance, sci-fi and historical fiction. That last is perhaps what gave me the push necessary to write my recent book about Mary Allerton Cushman, the oldest survivor of the Mayflower voyage.
The goal of Rosie’s book review team (RBRT) has been to spread the word about novels, novellas, short stories and non-fiction from self-published authors and independent publishers – to showcase talent found outside the mainstream publishing world.
I have had the enjoyment of corresponding with many of these authors about their books, making new friends along the way.
I highly recommend joining the team – it will challenge your review skills and introduce you to a wide assortment of genres!
Regular readers of my blog will already know about #RBRT but I have been a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team since… well, I can’t actually remember when I joined, or how, but I suspect it had something to do with Terry Tyler. I think I’d started posting reviews for books I read and it seemed like a natural fit to join the team. And I’ve never regretted it.
I don’t accept review requests on my site, choosing instead to review any book that’s my choice to read, and that I finish. If I can’t finish it I don’t review it as I don’t think that’s fair. I also don’t give below three stars. If I was minded to give below that, I wouldn’t have finished the book, and I think you can see where I am going with that.
I like reviewing to be a positive experience. As we know, no book can please everyone and just because I didn’t like it I don’t want to slam it in case it is someone else’s favourite book ever…
Anyway, what I like with Rosie’s team is that there is no pressure. Authors regularly send their books to Rosie for review. Thankfully Rosie does all the admin (thank you, Rosie!) and they get put on a list. We are all busy, isn’t everyone, so we do what we can. I aim to choose at least one book per month from that list. I also belong to a reading group in my village so with the monthly book there and then one of my own choosing, three is about my limit for a month.
Also by joining this group I have read books in all sorts of genres I would never normally have chosen and thoroughly enjoyed myself doing so, discovering some real gems along the way, so it has broadened my reading experience considerably.
I have become stuck a couple of times, finishing books I perhaps should have stopped reading and then feeling obliged to review when I’m not so sure I can be as positive about them as I’d like. That’s where the support of being a team comes in as Rosie and Terry have always helped me out so that I have been able to give an honest review, as tactfully as possible.
You also don’t have to write anything elaborate by way of a review. Mine are not particularly sophisticated or in depth. Not like some that I am in awe of. I simply say how a book made me feel and what I liked about it. It’s easy. Imagine reading a book, enjoying it and wanting to tell your friends about it. I write that.
Plus, we get to use the photo below on our posts to distinguish the team reviews, and we have a cool hashtag to use for sharing, #RBRT.
Nowadays I don’t get to hang out on social media or in the blogging world perhaps as much as I once was able to but my closest online blogging friends are all part of this group and I’m delighted to be able to support them whenever I can in sharing their posts. They are a great group of people, some of whom I’ve met in real life now too, so if you fancy giving book reviewing a go you will find Rosie’s Book Review Team a friendly place to be, and authors will love you for it. Plus, there are, of course, free books! What’s not to like?
Thank you Georgia, it is a pleasure to have you as part of our team.
I have been a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team (#RBRT) for five and a half years, now. I first ‘met’ Rosie online when looking for reviews for my own early books, and through her some of the other bloggers who later became part of the team.
I admit to being wary of making the commitment when I joined the review team, but I’m so glad I did; Rosie has created something so positive for the independently published world (the team deals mainly with the self-published or those published by independents), and I am proud to be a part of it. When I joined, I decided to start my own book review blog – I don’t profess to be a ‘proper’ book blogger as I’m primarily a writer; I don’t take submissions and use it only for reviewing for Rosie and my own reading choices, but it’s something I enjoy doing.
There are two main reasons why I’m so glad I joined the team, equally important. The first is the discovery of some truly excellent books; now and again, you find a real gem, that you want to shout about; so often these are books that are hidden away on Amazon and you would have never discovered, had the author not submitted. Here are a few that made me feel this way (link takes you to my review):
I have always been a reader. I read books at such a fast rate when I was a young girl that my own four library cards were not enough. I used to use my younger sister’s three library cards as well as my own [Cath was not a big reader back then and preferred to visit her friends down the road than read] and I still had to make two trips a week to the local library. That mean I read at least fourteen books a week. I used to ride to the library on my bicycle which my dad fitted wit a basket for my books.
Even back then, I never read the same books as my friends. I read strange books like Fattipuffs and Thinifers by André Maurois, Helter Skelter, the Charles Manson story by Susan Atkins and all the Eva Ibbotson books, which I didn’t think were unusual, but my friends definitely did. I lived in a Catholic community and books about witches, wizards, dark magic, banshees, and other magical creatures were not encouraged. When I was ten, I ran out of books to read in the children’s section of the library, so I resorted to reading my mom’s books behind the couch. My reads included The Shining and Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. My peer group were not reading these books in the fifth and sixth grade.
The result of my unusual and advanced reading tastes was that I never participated in reading groups at school. I was a “lone wolf” reader and was never interested enough in popular peer group reads to change this position.
As an adult I never belonged to book clubs as they seemed to involve more socializing and drinking of wine that discussion of the books I like to read. As a result, I never joined one, so I don’t know if my views are actually fact or not.
When I started to blog, I quickly saw that a lot of readers shared their reviews on-line. There were all sorts of book reviewing groups among blogging groups and on Goodreads where people read the same book and discussed their opinions of the books and the writing style. This interested me and I started following lots of book bloggers and reading lots and lots of book reviews. One book blogger that particularly interested me with her detailed reviews was Olga Nunez. I realized that Olga belonged to an on-line book reviewing club called Rosie’s Book Reviews and was sufficiently interested to find Rosie’s wonderful blog and follow many of her reviewers.
Often, more than one reviewer would read the same book offered to the club and I loved reading the different viewpoints. All the reviewers have a different reviewing style and I learned to look for, and appreciate, different things in books. This has helped my own writing as well as my own book reviewing process. I decided to ask Rosie if I could join her book reviewing team and she graciously added me to her group. I still have rather different tastes in books and read and review a lot of classics, but I do like to read at last one book a month from Rosie’s lovely list. I always look for other reviews of the same book by other team members as I am fascinated to learn what they enjoyed about a book I have read and what they did not enjoy. I have found that certain of the team members share similar tastes to me, so I look out for books they have reviewed and sometimes request them from Rosie.
Some of the recent books and authors I have read and enjoyed during my time as a Rosie’s book reviewer are as follows:
The Zelda Richardson series (The Vermeer Deception being the most recent book) by Jennifer S. Alderson;
I enjoy being part of Rosie’s team and have discovered some great new authors this way. She had a splendid team of reviewers whose opinions on books I value, including Rosie’s own reviews. If you like to read a wide variety of different genres and authors and like the idea of being part of a book reviewing team, then I would recommend this lovely group.
Thank you Robbie, I enjoy seeing all the different books that team members enjoy.
Those of you who have been following my blog for some time know that I’m a member of this fantastic group of people, and I’m sure you’ll have read many of the reviews I’ve written for the team. And if you use Twitter, you might have come across the team’s tag #RBRT.
Rosie Amber is a British blogger who has been reviewing books for quite a while, and as her popularity grew, and she started getting more and more requests for reviews, she had a brilliant idea. Rather than trying to review all the books she fancied that came her way and having to reject many more, she thought she would coordinate a team of reviewers, from different places, with different backgrounds and interests, and that would allow her to help authors and small publishers to find their perfect readers and would offer readers and reviewers and opportunity to discover new books and authors. (If you want to read her own words about it, here is a guest post she wrote recently on how to avoid blogging burnout). She mediates between the two, ensuring that the books are suitable and comply with certain standards of quality and keeping track of the books each reviewer has agreed to review and reminding them to do it in a timely manner. (That does not mean that reviewers have to review all the books they request. They can opt-out as long as they can offer a reason for it, and Rosie will explain the reasons to the authors. They aren’t always happy, but most understand the rules). She also distributes the review copies, shares the review with the authors, keeps reviewers updated on all the new books that arrive, and publishes all the individual reviews on her blog. If you love reading, I can’t recommend her blog enough.
I joined the team five years ago. I had been reviewing books since shortly after I started publishing my own (in 2012), and I was particularly interested in discovering new independent authors. I reviewed books for an online magazine for a short while, but the books on offer were not always to my liking, and the reviews had to follow a strict format that didn’t particularly suit me. The same happened with another group of reviewers I tried, where the books by some authors seemed to be given priority over others, and we also had to follow a specific format that I didn’t particularly like. Although there were incentives, they didn’t compensate for the lack of freedom.
I came across Rosie’s team through some of the authors and reviewers I followed, and I liked the standard of the reviews I read, the people involved, and the fact that I was only expected to read and review the book, but could follow my own criteria and style when writing the actual review. I get approached by many authors requesting reviews directly, but I like the fact that Rosie checks the requests, so I’m less likely to come across badly edited books, or be faced with authors who expect a good review no matter what. Some people don’t think authors should review books as well, but Rosie has never had a problem with that. On the other hand, the fact that she’s exclusively a reviewer works very well, in my opinion, as there are no grey areas or confusion possible. (And those of us who are authors in the group agreed that we would not submit our books to the group).
Rosie reviews books, of course, but not exclusively those submitted to the group, and we all have our own likes and dislikes. I love the fact that our reviews are shared twice and not only once on our own blog; I’ve met fabulous bloggers and reviewers thanks to Rosie’s blog and the team; and I’ve discovered great books and authors, not only those I’ve chosen from her wonderful list of books but also those reviewed and recommended by some of the other members. Over the years I’ve come to learn which reviewers’ tastes are closer to mine, and there are some whose recommendation would make me pick up books even in genres I wouldn’t normally try. And I can tell you for a fact: when several of us cheer for a book, you can bet anything that it’s a great read!
Rosie and the rest of the team are always thinking of new initiatives to promote books, authors, and reading, and she organises an annual award given to the best books in the different categories, nominated and voted by the members of the team. Recently they’ve come up with an initiative, the #TuesdayBookBlog tag on Twitter, which we use on Tuesdays, and has been adopted by many other reviewers and writers (you’re also invited to join as well, as long as the post you’re sharing is related to books, but it has some quality content and it’s not only promotional).
I enjoy the ever-changing list of books available, the sense of belonging to a wonderful team and working together to encourage others to discover great books, the companionship and regular updates by other members, the sense of joint purpose, the joy at seeing how many authors keep coming back with their new books, and I also regularly refer authors whose books I’m sure other members of the team will enjoy, even if they aren’t for me. Knowing that Rosie and her team are there and have my back is a great feeling and makes me feel happy, especially in times of crisis, when nothing seems certain or secure. It’s been six years, but I hope we’ll celebrate many more anniversaries, and we’ll keep sharing many more reviews. (Oh, and of course, we also post the reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and the favourite sites of each reviewer).
And, now, if you’ve liked how the team sounds, make sure to check Rosie’s blog (I know she’s very modest, so I won’t go into all the awards she’s been nominated for or anything like that). We’re always happy to discover new authors (this is the page with all the details), and we always welcome reviewers (you can find out more here), so, what are you waiting for?
We look forward to hearing from you and you’ll be warmly welcomed!
Thanks to Rosie and all the members of her team for those five wonderful years, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click and visit, always keep smiling and keep safe!
I’ve just been reminded that Rosie’s Book Review Team is six years old! That means BetweenTheLines is also six years old. I joined the team a few months after I began my blog and am still enjoying the experience. Rosie does a great job coordinating everything and many books have come my way that I probably would have missed otherwise, and more than a few authors have become firm favourites, such as Terry Tyler, Carol Hedges, Adrienne Vaughan, Liza Perrat…the list goes on.
One book in particular, The Cunning Woman’s Cup by Sue Hewitt, which I enjoyed immensely and is one I’ve read more than once, sent me on search to find the stone circle in the story. It was a trek to find the Duddo Stones but it was worth it for the atmosphere and the view.
I enjoy following series and there are several murder/mystery ones I’ve enjoyed including The Victorian Detectives by Carol Hedges, Madame Tulip cosy mysteries by David Ahern and Inspector de Silva Mysteries by Harriet Steel.
Not only that, several of us have become ‘real life’ friends and meet up every so often, which is fantastic. Long may it last!
It was 2014, and the world was small enough for me to pop over to any place I wanted to go: Madrid, Paris, Moscow, Venice and Florence, Scottish islands, rural India and London glitter. I even squeezed in a quick trip back to the States that year. All I had to do was buy a ticket and head to the next place I dreamed of. And I did a LOT of dreaming.
When I wasn’t traveling, I was writing blog posts. I started the blog because I needed to be a writer. So I wrote a book and plenty of clever people said novelists need blogs to provide shiny PR for their books. It should, they said, be full of content about books and writing as a process, and… and… And you know what? Talking about the process of writing is not only boring, but the only people who’d read it are other writers, not always potential buyers readers.
So I started writing about other people’s books. And I started reading other people’s book blogs. There was one in particular, written by Rosie Amber, that grabbed my attention. I did some reviews for her Book Review Challenge. I admired her style and her creativity. Basically, I wanted to be her when my blog grew up.
So when Rosie asked me to be part of her book review team, I thought it sounded easy, and fun, and a great way to get free books. But I didn’t realize I’d get so very much more. We’d just moved to Glasgow, where I didn’t know a soul. But through Rosie I met an entire community of bloggers and readers. We chatted online, read each other’s posts, and blogged our book reviews.
In the years since then, I’ve reviewed over 70 books as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team, while my fellow team members reviewed hundreds more. And a wonderful, unexpected thing happened. Rosie’s bloggers turned from an online group into a team. We chatted, met up, shared our stories. We became friends.
Then the coronavirus hit and the world hit the “off” switch.
But there is one thing that hasn’t changed. Books. My online friends are still there, my book friends are still waiting to meet me, my old favorites are waiting for another read.
And there are new friends waiting too. Wouldn’t you like to be part of Rosie’s team? You won’t need a facemask, you won’t have to worry about social distancing. But you will get to read some great free books, and better still, you’ll get to be part of a team. You’ll get to be friends.
Hanging out with members of Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT