Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Codename Lazarus by @APMartin51 #WW2 #Spy #Thriller

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Codename Lazarus by A P Martin

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CODENAME LAZARUS by A P Martin

4 out of 5 stars

This is a spy story set in England and Germany during Hitler’s rise to power and the first year of the Second World War.  John King, a history lecturer, is invited to become an undercover agent, and, despite the realisation of how dangerous and lonely his life will become, he agrees.

What I liked about this book

  • The author clearly knows his subject inside out and, I would imagine, has a great interest in it, as opposed to just having done the research required to produce this novel; you can tell the difference.  I feel that A P Martin has an innate understanding of the era itself, and the people who lived within it.
  • The section before the war, when agent King witnesses the ‘gathering storm’ of Nazi Germany, is excellent, and SS man Joachim Brandt’s witnessing of Dunkirk, from the point of view of a German spy, is outstanding.  I loved these two parts.
  • I thought the plot was well thought out, generally, and it kept me interested throughout.
  • The understated communication between King and his controller, Pym, was most believeable.  The characterisation of Pym and Brandt was particularly good, as was that of misguided informant Abigail Stevenson; Brandt’s duplicitous relationship with her was executed very well, as was Brandt’s developing character, as he grows from patriot to confirmed Nazi.  There’s a key scene were he slaughters some POWs, which triggers him off; it’s so well done.
  • The build up to the war, with the growing danger in Germany, the differing attitudes to Hitler, and the many theories about his intentions, was fascinating, and gave such insight into how that time must have been for different people across both countries.

What I was not so sure about 

  • I found some elements early in the book less than convincing; at the beginning, King is with his friends in Germany in 1933, and everyone speaks in perfectly formed sentences, giving just the right amount of information to the reader; the conversation didn’t seem real.
  • I wasn’t convinced by the romance with Greta; I found their Christmas together in 1938 not a last idyllic, romantic few days before the war, but a mildly interesting account of activities.  Greta never came across to me as a living, flesh and blood woman. However, it was no worse than the depiction of women by some well-known writers of this genre, Jeffrey Archer to name but one.
  • I would urge Mr Martin to seek out a proofreader who knows how to punctuate ~ there are scores of missing or incorrectly placed commas, and the curious placing of quotations marks around proper nouns (eg, ‘Lords Cricket Ground’).  I didn’t find any spelling mistakes or typos, though.
  • The ending.  The book just stopped.  The main conflict of the plot is resolved, and satisfactorily, but it seemed almost as though the author had forgotten that minor story threads needed resolution, too.  I turned the page expecting another chapter, or at least an epilogue, but that was that.

This book has much to commend it, hence the four stars; the parts I liked, I liked very much indeed, but I feel it needs a bit of ‘sorting out’ by a really good editor, perhaps a trimming down and removing of mundane detail, to make it the first class novel it deserves to be.  I think lovers of ‘old school’ sort of spy stories will love it.

Book Description

Spring 1938: Great Britain is facing potentially lethal threats: the looming war with Germany; the fear that her Secret Service has been penetrated by Nazi agents and the existence of hundreds of British citizens, who are keen to pass information to her enemies.

John King, a young academic, is approached by his Oxbridge mentor to participate in a stunning deception that would frustrate Britain’s enemies. As King struggles to come to terms with the demands of his mission, he must learn to survive in a dangerous and lonely ‘no man’s land’, whilst remaining one step ahead of those in hot pursuit.

Adapted from a true story, ‘Codename Lazarus’ takes the reader on a journey from the dark heart of Hitler’s Germany, across the snowy peaks of Switzerland to the horrors of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the London Blitz, before reaching a thrilling and decisive conclusion, from which none of those present emerges unscathed.

About the author

A.P. Martin

I was born and spent my entire working life in the North West of England, where I taught at school, college and university levels. I became Head of Department of Social Sciences at a University, specialising in the study of social inequality, social mobility and sport. During my academic career I published many sociological studies on these themes.

Since taking early retirement, I have really enjoyed immersing myself in reading and writing fiction. I feel that most historical fiction benefits from a connection to something that actually happened, so when I wrote my first book, Codename Lazarus, I took a little known true story and used it as a framework for an exciting thriller.

I am currently writing my second spy story, which also takes as its inspiration a fascinating, yet almost unknown episode from the Second World War.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT BLIND SIDE by @Jennie_Ensor #London setting #Thriller

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Blind Side by Jennie Ensore

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BLIND SIDE by Jennie Ensor

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team

This is the debut novel from Jennie Ensor, and it’s one of which she should be proud. Set in mid-noughties London, it’s a fairly standard spurned-lover-as-stalker plot, but with a lot more to it.  Middle class marketing exec Georgie only ever wanted to be friends with Julian, but when she starts a relationship with Russian immigrant Nikolai, she discovers that she never really knew Julian at all.  Alongside this storyline is the dark shadow of terrorism relating to the London bombings of the time – and Georgie’s growing fears that Nikolai might be involved.

I admit to being slightly underwhelmed by the beginning; both dialogue and narrative are rather bland, with opportunities for more ‘colour’ missed, and, when Georgie succumbs to sex with Julian after a drunken evening, I never got the impression that she was drunk; I actually forgot she was meant to be.  Happily, the pace and intrigue stepped up very quickly, and I began to really enjoy it.  I thought Julian was revolting from the outset, and I didn’t begin to warm to Georgie until later on; Nikolai, on the other hand, was lovely.  The characterisation was very good all the way through. I cared what happened to the two main characters, which is all important.  

The novel is extremely well structured, planned and edited.  I particularly liked that the backstory about both Georgie and Nikolai appeared in dribs and drabs, all the way through, which kept my interest.  There aren’t many surprises, but certainly enough suspense to call this book a thriller, albeit quite a low-key one.  But it’s a love story, more than anything, I think.  It’s intelligently written, with much background about the war in Chechnya and Nikolai’s experiences, which were shockingly fascinating and made the book so much more than just a stalker story.

I was glad that Georgie was not portrayed as a victim, though I found it unrealistic that she didn’t guess, immediately, that Julian was behind threats to Nikolai, too (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s fairly obvious!).  The only other bit that niggled me was minor – Georgie displays a shock-horror attitude when her lover suggests they go camping together, and is, apparently, ignorant of all such practices.  Yet she’s supposed to be a keen, fairly long distance hiker… 

The ending was pleasing, though the odd surprise or revelation wouldn’t have gone amiss; the last few chapters were little more than a wrapping up.  I’d say that Ms Ensor is a talented writer, for sure, and I enjoyed this book.  I felt that it could have done with a little bit more spark, but it’s very well written, and a fine debut.

Book Description

Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable? 
London, five months before 7/7. Georgie, a young woman wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, gives in and agrees to sleep with close friend Julian. She’s shocked when Julian reveals he’s loved her for a long time. 
But Georgie can’t resist her attraction to Nikolai, a Russian former soldier she meets in a pub. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her. 
Then London is attacked… 
Blind Side explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears. 

About the author

Jennie Ensor

Jennie Ensor is a Londoner descended from a long line of Irish folk. She has worked as a freelance journalist, covering topics from forced marriages to the fate of Aboriginal Australians living on land contaminated by British nuclear testing. 
Ms E lives in London with her husband and their cuddle-loving, sofa-hogging terrier. When not chasing the dog or dreaming of setting off on an unfeasibly long journey with a Kindleful of books, she writes novels, short stories and poetry (published under another name). Her second novel, to be finished in 2017 with any luck, is a dark and unsettling psychological drama.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT DIDN’T GET FRAZZLED by David Z Hirsch #Medical #Comedy #wwwblogs

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Didn’t Get Frazzled by David Z Hirsch

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DIDN’T GET FRAZZLED by David Z Hirsch

3.5 stars

The debut novel from this author, who uses a pen name, Didn’t Get Frazzled is about a few years in the life of Seth, a graduate medical student in New York.  The novel intersperses darkly humorous scenes during Seth’s training, with the ongoing drama of his personal life.  It’s intelligently written, well put together, amusing in parts, and I thought the dialogue and the characterisation good (Seth’s girlfriend, April, is particularly so; dreary as hell, and takes herself far, far too seriously).  The contrast between hospital and personal life is well balanced, each giving more weight to the other.  The banter in the practical classes is believable, and it’s clear that the author knows exactly what he’s talking about, all the way through it – nothing like writing what you know!

So why only 3.5 stars? The reason that I haven’t given it the 4 that most of the book merits is that I almost abandoned it three times.  I nearly decided it was a ‘no’ during the first chapter, which I assumed to be written from experiences of the author’s own.  You know when someone tells you about something funny that happened to them, and it sort of trails off with them saying, “Oh well, I suppose you had to be there.”?  That’s what this felt like; a bunch of ‘in’ jokes.  I could see how funny it should have been but it just … wasn’t.   Another time was during the description of an intimate examination of an obese woman.  It wasn’t daringly warts-and-all, it was just disgusting.  I actually closed my Kindle and opened my laptop to write my decline-to-review email, but then I thought, no, I’ve already spent a few hours reading this.

I found the parts about Seth’s personal life the most interesting to read, very well done, but I wonder if the in-hospital sections might contain too much medical info, etc, for your average reader; I did find myself glazing over by about half way through.  And it is, at times, really quite revolting.  But other bits are very good.  I’m in two minds about it; I would imagine that if you’re a medical student, you will LOVE it!

Book Description

A rousing, provocative novel about four years in the life of an intrepid young medical student, set in the grueling world of an elite NYC medical school.

“…the best fictional portrayal of med school since ER.” — BlueInk Review (starred review)

Medical student Seth Levine faces escalating stress and gallows humor as he struggles with the collapse of his romantic relationships and all preconceived notions of what it means to be a doctor. It doesn’t take long before he realizes not getting frazzled is the least of his problems.

Seth encounters a student so arrogant he boasts that he’ll eat any cadaver part he can’t name, an instructor so dedicated she tests the student’s ability to perform a gynecological exam on herself, and a woman so captivating that Seth will do whatever it takes to make her laugh, including regale her with a story about a diagnostic squabble over an erection.

Didn’t Get Frazzled captures with distressing accuracy the gauntlet idealistic college grads must face to secure an MD and, against the odds, come out of it a better human being.

 

About the author

David Z Hirsch grew up on the steppes of Nebraska peddling Kool-Aid off I-129 until saving up enough cash for medical school. After graduation, he moved to Pyongyang to teach pre-med classes at Kim Il-sung University. He soon fell out of favor and was imprisoned at Kaechon where he traded medical favors for soup and toilet paper until he made a daring escape across the border. 

Dr. Hirsch subsisted for the next three years by foraging gooseberries and licking the dew off spiny toads. This led to a burst of creativity, and he wrote the first draft of Didn’t Get Frazzled on bark peeled off a dying Manchurian Ash tree. Ultimately discovered in a semi-feral state by the China Coast Guard flotilla from Liaoning, Dr. Hirsch returned to the United States sixty pounds lighter but more inspired than ever.

David Z Hirsch is a pen name, so absolutely nothing in the above paragraphs are true. This is not lying, you see. It’s fiction. Many well-regarded sources insist that these are two distinct things. The actual guy who wrote this novel is a practicing physician in Maryland. His life story is considerably more prosaic, but in his head he lives a fascinating, fascinating life.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT HENRY by @tonyriches Early #Tudor #HistFic #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Henry by Tony Riches

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HENRY by Tony Riches

4.5 out of 5 stars

I reviewed this as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team, via an ARC, but I’m a big fan of this author so I would have bought it anyway. I adored the second part of the Tudor Trilogy, Jasper, and was looking forward to this last part.

I love Plantagenet and Tudor history, but Henry VII is one of the characters I knew less about; I’ve always thought of him, I suppose, as a not very interesting link between the wars of York and Lancaster, and the great era of the eighth Henry and Good Queen Bess.  This book showed, though, that the uniting of the two houses to end the Wars of the Roses, after Henry defeated Richard III at Bosworth and married Elizabeth of York, was far from the end of the story.  He then had to deal with kingship itself, something that his mother, Margaret Beaufort, had always assured him was his right, though he was not one who sailed gallantly into such a role.  His reign was beset by troubles with the Yorkist rebels, imposters like Perkin Warbeck, the Cornish rebellion, financial difficulties, and tragedy within his own family, with the deaths of children Edmund and Katherine and, of course, Prince Arthur ~ which gave way to the reign of the most famous of all English kings, Henry VIII.

I liked how Tony Riches has shown us the man behind the sombre portrait, and I warmed to his Henry Tudor very much.  Even though some of his problems were of his own making, he seemed like an honest, self-aware, realistic person, rather humble, and very much like his mother ~ the ‘Beaufort Steel’ is much in evidence, though to my mind it skipped a generation, and didn’t come out again until Henry’s granddaughter, Elizabeth, was on the throne.  Riches writes so well, and I read this book in almost one sitting.  So interesting, of course, to read about the young Henry VIII, and I had forgotten the difficulties that came with his desire to marry Catherine of Aragon, his brother’s widow.  I couldn’t help thinking that, given the events some twenty-odd years later, it might have not been meant to be.

Henry’s story is not as thrilling as Jasper’s, but this is a fine end to a superbly researched and well-written trilogy, one I would recommend to anyone with an interest in this period of history.  And don’t forget to read the Author’s Note!

Book Description

Bosworth 1485: After victory against King Richard III, Henry Tudor becomes King of England. Rebels and pretenders plot to seize his throne. The barons resent his plans to curb their power and he wonders who he can trust. He hopes to unite Lancaster and York through marriage to the beautiful Elizabeth of York. 

With help from his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, he learns to keep a fragile peace. He chooses a Spanish Princess, Catherine of Aragon, as a wife for his son Prince Arthur. His daughters will marry the King of Scotland and the son of the Emperor of Rome. It seems his prayers are answered, then disaster strikes and Henry must ensure the future of the Tudors. 

About the author

Tony Riches

Tony Riches is a full time author from Pembrokeshire, West Wales, an area full of inspiration for his writing. After several successful non-fiction books, Tony turned to novel writing and wrote ‘Queen Sacrifice’, set in 10th century Wales, followed by ‘The Shell’, a thriller set in present day Kenya.

His real interest is in the history of the fifteenth century, and now his focus is on writing historical fiction about the lives of key figures of the period. Best known for his Tudor Trilogy, Tony’s other international best sellers include ‘Warwick ~ The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses’ and ‘The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham’. In his spare time Tony enjoys sailing and sea kayaking. 

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT EXPOSURE by @RoseEdmunds Financial #Thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Exposure by Rose Edmunds

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EXPOSURE by Rose Edmunds

4 out of 5 stars

This is the standalone sequel to Concealment, which I read two years ago; I have the worst memory in the world, so Exposure read as a one-off to me.  Thus, I can confirm that you don’t need to read Concealment first, though of course it’s always helpful ~ and I think it might be equally as interesting to read it afterwards.

I’d describe this novel as half way between a financial and a psychological thriller.  Occasionally the financial terminology went over my head, but it’s written in such a way that I got the gist.  One thing I did like very much was the way the novel was structured; there are lots of point of view and situation changes at just the right time, it’s extremely well-edited, with plenty of dangling, suspenseful threads at the ends of chapters to make you think, “I wonder what’s going to happen there….?”  The whole novel is dialogue-led; there is little narrative, and the pace never lets up.  Murder, deception, financial fraud, international skullduggery toxic relationships ~ it has all the ingredients of a popular page-turner.

Rose Edmunds’ Amy shows clever characterisation; she is bound to cause definite reactions amongst those who read her.  The daughter of a hoarder, she grew up with all sorts of psychological problems that led her to being exceptionally ambitious and obsessed with the material, and the outward show of success.  In the last book, circumstances came together to make all this come crashing down, and Exposure deals with the new, more self-aware Amy who is still trying to deal with the remnants of the old.  She’s not particularly likeable; she knows it’s nasty and superficial of her to judge a female colleague on being (horrors!) 20 lbs overweight and wearing the ‘wrong’ clothes, but she can’t help it.  She’s unsympathetic to the woman whose husband was in love with her – she tries to overcome the self-destructive within her, but always struggles.  Her complex character makes for some interesting relationship dynamics, indeed, and we learn more about her backstory in this book, too. 

My favourite character was financial blogger Toby Marchpole ~ I was most interested in his wife, an old schoolfriend of Amy’s, and their marriage.  I also enjoyed Amy’s observations about the dreadful Pedley, her boss for part of the book (when she goes undercover…. I’ll leave you to find out about that!).

It’s a well thought out plot, and I’m sure readers of smart, fast-paced contemporary thrillers will enjoy it very much ~ there’s certainly no opportunity to get bored!

Book Description

City high-flyer Amy has crashed and burned. Fresh out of rehab and with her career in tatters, the sudden death of an old friend propels her into an illicit undercover fraud investigation. 
But Amy’s in way over her head. The assignment quickly turns sour, pitching her into a nightmare where no one can be trusted and nothing is what it seems. 
In mortal danger, and with enemies old and new conspiring against her, Amy’s resilience is tested to the limit as she strives to defeat them and rebuild her life.

About the author

Rose Edmunds

For more than 20 years, Rose Edmunds almost passed as normal, working undercover in several well-known financial firms in London while quietly gathering material for her novels.

Since jumping off the corporate hamster wheel Rose now writes thrillers with a strong ethical theme. Her writing draws heavily on her considerable insight into business world and in particular the uncomfortable conflict between capitalism and humanity. 

Rose’s debut thriller, Never Say Sorry, was about a Big Pharma conspiracy to suppress a cancer cure. Since then, she has been working on the Crazy Amy thriller series—an ambitious project which will follow the brilliant but unstable Amy Robinson on her journey from senior finance executive to who knows where…

You can find out more by checking out Rose’s website at www.roseedmunds.co.uk or on Facebook at Rose Edmunds – Author Page. Via the website, you can also join the Crazy Amy VIP Fan Club, for exclusive access to free bonus Crazy Amy short stories and other exciting offers. There is also a closed Facebook group for club members.

Rose lives in Brighton with her husband David.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT THE SILENT KOOKABURRA by @LizaPerrat #TuesdayBookBlog #Thriller

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat

The Silent Kookaburra by [Perrat, Liza]

THE SILENT KOOKABURRA by Liza Perrat

5 stars

Every so often I find a real gem in the review team submission list, and this was one of them.  I thoroughly enjoyed it; Liza Perrat is an excellent writer.

The story takes place in the early 1970s in a quiet town in New South Wales called Wollongong, and is narrated by eleven year old Tanya, who lives with her alcoholic but not unlikable father, Dobson, her disturbed mother, Eleanor, who has miscarried many children, and her grandmother, Nanna Purvis.  It’s sad, tragic and funny, all at the same time.  Behind the story of everyday life lurks the shadow of child abuse, madness and murder, but these are dealt with so cleverly that the book doesn’t seem particularly dark.  If you can imagine that.

Eleanor finally manages to carry a child to term and Tanya is sure their family life will improve, but events take several turns for the worse, and she has to deal with great uncertainty about her future.  I wouldn’t have thought I’d like a whole novel written from the point of view of such a young girl, but one reads so much between the lines as Tanya reveals more to the reader than she understands herself.  Danger and intrigue is added by the appearance of the mysterious, seedy Uncle Blackie, the various nosy neighbours, the girls who tease Tanya for being fat, and her Italian friend Angela’s are-they-drug-dealers-or-aren’t-they family.

On the verge of adolescence, Tanya veers between excitement about becoming a woman, and comfort eating her way through her disintegrating family life.  One question remains in her mind, and is still there at the end of the book, an epilogue that takes place forty years later.

The characterisation in this book is brilliant.  Nanna Purvis is hilarious, a real old Aussie matriarch, and the atmosphere of the family’s slightly backward way of life of 45 years ago is so well portrayed.  I notice from the Author’s Note that Liza Perrat lived in Wollongong, and there are many popular culture references to the time, including items of food that Ms Perrat must have eaten back then, but, unlike other books in which this occurs, I didn’t find it contrived, or as if it was a deliberate strategy to press nostalgia buttons.  It worked (I particularly liked Nanny Purvis and her Iced VoVos).

It’s really, really good.  You won’t be disappointed.

Book Description

All eleven-year-old Tanya Randall wants is a happy family. But Mum does nothing besides housework, Dad’s always down the pub and Nanna Purvis moans at everyone except her dog. Then Shelley arrives –– the miracle baby who fuses the Randall family in love for their little gumnut blossom.

Tanya’s life gets even better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had. He tells her she’s beautiful and could be a model. Her family refuses to talk about him. But that’s okay, it’s their little secret.

Then one blistering summer day tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web. 

Embracing the social changes of 1970s Australia, against a backdrop of native fauna and flora, The Silent Kookaburra is a haunting exploration of the blessings, curses and tyranny of memory. 

Unsettling psychological suspense blending the intensity of Wally Lamb with the atmosphere of Peter James, this story will get under your skin.

About the author

An image posted by the author.

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 husband and three children for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.
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 and France Today.

Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in the 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 German Occupation of France, was published in October, 2013. The third in the series, Blood Rose Angel, set during the 14th century Black Plague years was published in November, 2015.

The Silent Kookaburra, a dark psychological suspense novel set in 1970s Australia, was published in November, 2016.

Friends, Family and Other Strangers From Downunder is a collection of 14 humorous, horrific and entertaining short stories set in Australia, for readers everywhere.

Liza is a co-founder and member of Triskele Books, an independent writers’ collective with a commitment to quality and a strong sense of place, and also reviews books for Bookmuse.

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#Bookblogger bashing: in the end, you’re only hurting yourself #MondayBlogs

Today I’m hosting a post written by Terry Tyler which I feel strongly about aswell.

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#Bookblogger bashing: in the end, you’re only hurting yourself.

I’ve read a few posts lately about book bloggers being bullied or ‘trolled’ by writers for whom they have received bad reviews, or whose books they have rejected.  For more on this, here’s a heartrending post from The Happy Meerkat, and an associated one on Fictionophile about whether or not reviews should be objective or personal opinion, amongst other things.

Like 99% of the rest of the online writer/reader/blogger/reviewer community, I’m appalled that bloggers who give up their time to read books by total strangers, for no payment, are receiving such harassment.

I write this from the point of view of a writer, and a book reviewer.  Although my own book review blog is mostly for my own reading choices, I’m also a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team. There are 20-30 of us, who select books from those submitted by authors and publishers.  If we’ve reviewed the book (and we sometimes decline after reading a section), we then deliver the results to Rosie for inclusion on her blog.

On the submission guidelines, Rosie clearly states that we don’t provide a 5* only book review service, and that we pride ourselves on being honest, unbiased, balanced and constructive.  If we were to give only praise for every book submitted, the blog would be a) dishonest and b) therefore not worth reading.  Yet still she’s had to deal with complaints from writers who haven’t received the glowing recommendations for which they’d hoped. Some ask her not to post them, despite the hours of (unpaid) work that have gone into considering the submission, reading the book and posting the reviews.

Book bloggers are a gift to the self-published or indie press published author.  They do what they do simply for the love of reading/blogging/the book world.  They should not be given a hard time because they do not give a wholehearted, 5* thumbs up to what they’ve read.  Since being on Rosie’s team, I’ve heard of reviewers being accused of personal grudges against the author, lack of understanding of the author’s apparent brilliance, snobbery, and even not reading the book. A couple of years ago, one writer was extraordinarily rude, on Goodreads, about Rosie’s 3* review.  He slagged her off in public. She didn’t owe him anything.  He wasn’t paying her for her time.  He submitted his book for an honest review, which he received.  All he did was make himself look like an egotistical idiot.  Less than positive reactions are a fact of life for a writer. All reviews bring the book to the attention of the public and add to its ‘visibility’ on Amazon.

To book blogger bashers everywhere: have you ever watched The X Factor, or American Idol, or any of those shows?  You know the mediocre singer who can’t cope with the fact that he isn’t good enough to make it through to the next round, and is abusive towards the judges?  That’s what you look like when you harass book bloggers who don’t tell you what a wonderful writer you are.

The book blogger community is close and supportive.  If you start throwing your toys out of your pram every time you get a 1, 2 or 3* review, you’re likely to get a bad reputation.

Reading Soft edge

(Please note: in the following section, I’ve referred to the book blogger as ‘she’, rather than ‘he/she’, for simplicity).

If a book blogger rejects your submission it might be for any of these reasons:

  • You have sent a generic request rather than looking at the blog to see if your book is suitable.
  • You have come across as demanding, or unprofessional, or not even bothered to find out her name.
  • She has a busy life and does not have the time to read it right now.
  • Her to-read list is ten miles long already.
  • She not interested in your particular genre.
  • She has read the blurb, and the subject matter of your book doesn’t appeal to her.
  • She has read the blurb and considers it badly written.
  • She’s read the ‘look inside’ sample on Amazon and does not consider the writing to be of the standard she wishes to review.

All these elements can be summed up by this: she doesn’t want to read your book.  That’s okay.  She’s not obliged to.

If a book blogger accepts your book, but gives it a less than positive review, it’s for this reason only:

  • She didn’t think it was very good.

She’s not being snobbish, or vindictive, and she’s not too stupid to understand your art, she just didn’t like it much, for the reasons stated.  Most book bloggers assess with a combination of objectivity and personal opinion.  If more than two reviewers say the book has unrealistic dialogue, or cardboard characters, or an unfeasible plot, or it’s too long, or it needs editing, or proofreading, it’s likely that they’ve got a point.  Deal with it. Learn from it.

But, most of all, don’t give the book blogger a hard time for pointing it out. It’s arrogant, it’s nasty, and, in the long run, the only person who will suffer is YOU.

 

 

 

Did I Meet You In 2016? A Year in Review #NewYearsEve #WeekendBlogShare

Hello Lovely Readers – Did we meet in 2016?

On this New Year’s Eve: My 2016 year in review

I think many folks will be looking back at 2016 and wondering what it all meant to them. I’ve handpicked some of the highlights for me.

meet-ups

In April I had a planned meet up in Glasgow with Barb Taub, Cathy Ryan and Alison Williams. These lovely ladies are all part of my review team. Barb is an author and her blog posts are just the best to entertain you. Cathy is a book reviewer and her book reviews are extremely popular, check out her blog here. Alison is an author and editor, check out her rates and recommendations from satisfied customers.

In June I went to the Bloggers Bash in London and met lots of faces from social media. Sacha Black, Ali Isaac, Hugh Roberts and Geoff Le Pard are the bash organisers. It was the second year of this event and if you can get to London easily and want to meet a variety of bloggers and network, this annual event is a great opportunity. Next year’s date is June 10th, more details here. I chatted with Shelley Wilson, Christina Philippou, Mary Smith, Lucy Mitchell (Blondewritemore), Sarah Hardy and Suzi from Suzi Speaks, the founder of #SundayBlogShare.

Shelley is a very inspirational blogger and author, splitting her work between fantasy and non-fiction self help. I’m thrilled that she will be running a four week guest series on ways to motivate yourself here on the blog every Wednesday this January.

In August had I an enforced two weeks off as I was required to do jury service, not something I wanted to attend, but you can’t wriggle out of it very easily these days. However is was interesting to see how the system works, how strict it all felt and how sad that the case I had, ever came to court. On a positive note, whilst in Guildford I made a renewed contact with Christina Philippou and this lead to me attending her book launch in September.

At Christina’s book launch for her debut novel (Lost In Static), I met Neats from the Haphazardous Hippo ( lilac Hippo) a book blogger who lives near by and we met Chris’ publisher Matthew from Urbane Publications. This is small up and coming publisher check it out here.

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My links with Chris and Neats took me to a Blogger/author meet up in London. Event organisers; Kim Nash @kimthebookworm and Holly Martin @hollymartin00  run these events alternating between London and Birmingham. This was a fun afternoon with a mix of authors and book bloggers all chatting in a relaxed atmosphere. I particularly enjoyed chatting to; Author Jessica Norrie, Book bloggers Susan Hampson, Anne Williams and  Jo Robertson, authors Barbara Copperthwait,  Jan Brigden and Steven Hayward

Another day I met book reviewer Liz Lloyd for an Autumn walk around a local village.

Late November Neats invited me to a book launch. We spent a Saturday afternoon in Farnham meeting author Kristen Bailey as she launched book #2 of her contemporary women’s fiction  “Second Helpings”. We also networked and by chance met another Urban Publication’s author Shirley Golden.

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December saw me heading to Leicester to meet Lizzie Lamb, June Kearns, Adrienne Vaughan, Margaret Cullingford and several other members at their monthly RNA meeting. Lizzie, June, Adrienne and Margaret are also know an the New Romantics Four. With me came author, reviewer and Twitter Queen Terry Tyler, Cathy Ryan, Shelley Wilson, and Proofreader Julia Gibbs. It was great to meet Terry’s sister Julia, who was recently on the TV quiz show Pointless. If you need recommended help with copy editing or proofreading do check out her site here.  In the evening we met with authors Mark Barry and Georgia Rose. Mark runs workshops in schools encouraging reluctant readers to pick up books and Georgia has been a guest speaker for Mark, she also runs her own self publishing workshops.

The 2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge tells me I’ve read 175 books this year, however I’ve also beta read 4 books and have read others which aren’t yet on Goodreads, this bumps the number up a little.

What am I going to do next year? Perhaps I’ll meet you. I plan to go out and meet lots more authors and bloggers, nothing beats a face to face meeting.

I’d like to wish all my readers and reviewers a very Happy New Year.

Here are useful Twitter handles of people I’ve met this year.

@barbtaub

@CathyRy

@AlisonW_Editor

@sacha_black

@aliisaac_

@HughRoberts05

@geofflepard

@ShelleyWilson72

@CPhilippou123

@urbanepub

@marysmithwriter

@Blondewritemore

@sarahhardy681

@suzie81blog

@lilac_hippo

@KimTheBookworm

@hollymartin00

@jessica_Norrie

@susanhampsom57

@Williams13Anne

@jocatrobinson

@BCopperthwait

@JanBrigden

@stevieboyh

@LizanneLloyd

@baileyforce6

@shirl1001

@lizzie_lamb

@june_kearns

@adrienneauthor

@CullingfordMags

@newromantics4

@TerryTyler4

@ProofreadJulia

@GreenWizard62

@GeorgiaRoseBook

@rosieamber1

Stepping Out From Behind the blogging computer #wwwblogs

Stepping out from behind the blogging computer

Our group

Our group

What does it take to dig a book blogger out from behind their computer? About as much effort as it does to dig out an author!

In a bid to step out of my book reviewing bubble, I’ve been pushing myself to go out and meet new bloggers and authors, and I’ve been inviting along several others, too.

Our latest road trip was to Leicester to meet with the ladies from the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA). Joining them at their monthly meeting in the Belmont Hotel, we were made to feel very welcome by Lizzie Lamb and our hosts. From my book review team came: Terry Tyler, Cathy Ryan and Shelley Wilson, and Terry’s sister Julia (Proofreader Julia) asked if she could come too. We also managed to get Georgia Rose and Mark Barry to meet us in the afternoon.

Speaking to people face to face that you’ve only met virtually is wonderful, and being able to talk about all things bookish is even greater; it gives a depth to your friendship. Yes, it’s networking, but it doesn’t feel like work when you’re having fun.

There were five of us who stayed the night, but even twenty four hours wasn’t long enough to talk about all the books in the world, so we’ll be planning another trip soon. I have ambitions for 2017, perhaps, to head to Wales and the North East, plus have a meet up closer to home in the South or London.

Big thanks to Terry for the photos, you can read her own post about our trip here do click through it is a brilliant post.

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#NewRelease THE DEVIL YOU KNOW by @TerryTyler4 #Thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

The Devil You KnowThe Devil You Know by Terry Tyler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Devil You Know is a thriller in a fictitious town in Lincolnshire, England. The book opens with the murder of a young woman by an unknown man. The story-line revolves round the possible perpetrator of a mounting series of murders. I like this author’s style of writing so I jumped at the chance to read an ARC of this book as she takes her writing and her readers on a bold move with this genre.

After the opening scene, events turn back to a year earlier, 2015. We are introduced to key characters who all discover that those close to them have valid suspicious actions which make them all capable of being the one the police are after. Juliet’s husband is a bully and regularly goes out late at night claiming it’s for business meetings. Steve’s friend Dan, is the spitting image of the e-fit photo of the man the police suspect. Tamsin’s liked colleague Jake Fallon for ages and when they finally get together she wants more than a one night stand. But why is Jake giving her the brush off and avoiding her? Maisie’s Mum has a new boyfriend, but just how loyal is he? Dorothy’s routine loving son Orlando, starts staying out late and not attending club meetings he’s always been to.

The plot is character driven, building the layers in delicious anticipation with plenty of red herrings which had me mentally accusing the most obscure characters of the deadly deed, then just when I had convinced myself I’d solved the case a new piece of evidence was dropped into the story-line and off my thoughts went on another tangent. My mind doesn’t work methodically like a police detective, and when the body count began to grow I needed to eagerly read on as I pointed my accusing finger at yet another character.

By the end I wanted to have a cuppa and a chat to Dorothy, who seemed a little lonely and I found Juliet very intriguing, which just shows that even with a dark genre, readers can still empathise with really well written characters. The last fifth of the book had some marvellous twists and complimented the different approach to thriller writing that made this a superb read.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com also available free from Kindle Unlimited

View all my reviews on Goodreads