Saturday, April 22, 2017

Reviews--love'em or ignore them

It's been a long time since book reviews were posted in newspapers only. I'm not sure they even publish them now--haven't checked since I no longer subscribe to a newspaper--okay, so I just did and a quick check shows they've gone online, too.

Shortly after e-books, which began shortly before the turn of the century (love saying that--it sounds to me like so-o-o long-long ago even though it's only been seventeen years), online review sites popped up. E-books, in general, were dismissed by well-known, established publishers, and e-book authors were not seen as real authors, but it was fairly easy to receive an online review. Even the stories found in e-books were different, often a mishmash of genres--not to say that this wasn't happening somewhat in print, too, but it was a hallmark of e-books novels.

Then technology kept making it easier to read e-books until now you can read them on your phone. 

Within a few years, the e-book industry started to outpace big name NY Publisher's print books in growth. They took notice and decided to embrace the e-book and it became very difficult for small publisher authors and self-published authors to get reviews with on-line review sites. Yet the methods for receiving reviews also grew. It is probably true that the more reviews a book receives, the better it will sell. A new problem evolved, book trolls and extolling reviews where I doubt the reviewer actually read the book, but I've noticed a growing trend of review police. We live in a strange society, but I think it has always been so, I just wasn't as observant or maybe as involved. I'm sure it's a bit of both. However, I seldom read all the reviews, if any, of a book I'm interested in. Usually, it is the blurb given by the author or publisher about the storyline that decides me on yes or no.

I'm lucky to have received positive reviews on my stories but find it has become very difficult to get reviews from review sites. So I do like that most booksellers now allow readers to comment on books, but they've cut into my profits taking a whopping chunk out of the profits for having a book posted on their site. (This developed from print publishing where publishers paid distributors half the book's profits for getting the books into stores around the country.) I can understand they deserve some compensation, but unless you write for the love of writing, don't think you will get rich. A book has to sell thousands of copies to be profitable for the author. I'm not there yet 😊!

So while I like good reviews, I don't go too far out of my way to get them, in other words, I send them to different sites and hope for the best with no expectation. What truly makes my writing worthwhile is receiving an email from a reader of one of my books saying how much the story was enjoyed. I spend most of my efforts on my book covers and on those bylines and marketing blurbs.

I do review books for one on-line site, but generally speaking those books are assigned to me. That is changing, but even if I select the review from books offered, the review is critiqued before being published on the review site. The books I choose to review because I'm interested, I usually purchase, which I think gives me a better investment as an ethical reviewer. I also post some reviews on another site, but I'm very slow posting due to all the other things I have to accomplish, so I review ancient, old, new, and about to be published books. Since I know how difficult it is to write a story, I try to always look for the best aspects of a particular story, trying to mention mildly any potential problems the reader might encounter, and if I cannot give a good review, I don't give a review at all. Preferences in books, genre, and topics are too diverse, and the book I don't like is one another reader loves.

Check out these other blogs for more opinions on this topic.
Marci Baun 

Dr. Bob Rich
Skye Taylor
Beverley Bateman
Victoria Chatham
Helena Fairfax
Rachael Kosinski
A.J. Maguire 
Margaret Fieland
Connie Vines

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Girl Who Knew Too Much -- Amanda Quick

ISBN: 978-0-399-174447-6
May 2017

Burning Cove, California, 1930s

Anna Harris, personal secretary to socialite Helen Spencer, finds her very generous boss murdered in her luxurious bedroom. Helen left a message in her blood on the wall: ‘RUN.’ Anna quickly packs, and pulls out money she has saved from a shoebox in her bedroom closet. More is inside the box than should be there: more money, a small black leather notebook with indecipherable information, and a letter from Helen. The letter again warns Anna to run and never look back. It also instructs her to never give the notebook to anyone, including the FBI. It is her insurance. Anna flees New York. Once she can think straight, she heads for the other side of the country. Four months later she is Irene Glasson, a gossip reporter. At the exclusive Burning Cove Hotel, Irene finds Gloria Maitland, rumored lover of the up-and-coming movie star Nick Tremayne, dead at the bottom of the lap pool in the hotel’s spa. Irene hears someone walking toward her, and fearing for her life, escapes to a more public place. After the police leave, hotel owner Oliver Ward questions her. Irene tells him Gloria chose the time and place to meet, luring Irene with a hot scoop for the gossip rag where Irene works. Irene thinks the scoop might have something to do with Nick Tremayne, and she suspects he murdered Gloria to keep her quiet.

A dangerous trick ended magician-performer Oliver Ward’s career, nearly killing him onstage. To survive, he sank every cent he had into buying the Burning Cove Hotel, a place now known for its luxury, privacy, and security, a place where movie stars and other high-profile guests love to stay. As a magician he learned how to redirect people’s attention and how to read their expressions. He is very good at both talents, but Irene Glasson gives little away. This intrigues him, because he knows she hides secrets.

There are many intriguing characters involved in this mystery. Graham Enright, owner of a New York law firm, tells his son Julian to retrieve the invaluable black notebook no matter what it takes. Julian is as handsome and as charismatic as any movie star, including Nick Tremayne. Nick’s assistant Claudia Picton, Oliver’s uncle Chester, and his friend Luther Pell, also have important roles in the story. Irene is resolute about her investigation because a similar murder killed a fellow reporter, which also seems tied to Nick Tremayne. Soon she is involved in yet another murder, but is the murderer after Anna Harris or Irene Glasson?

This well-done mystery takes the reader back to the period of black-and-white movies, the wild life styles of the famous and rich, and a time with few of today’s instantaneous electronics. It involves one person with two different identities, each persona tied to different murder mysteries. Both Irene and Oliver have dark secrets, both have had to reinvent themselves, and both of them have a general distrust of others. It is an interesting era to visit, with fascinating characters caught in a murderous conundrum, earning THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH a Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10.

Yes, I received an ARC (Advance Review Copy) of this book from
Romance Reviews Today where this review will also be published. I post it here because it is an excellent book, personable characters with past histories and present problems, good mystery and suspense, and romance.