January Reviews: 19 Fabulous Novels #amreading #amreviewing

  • What Have I been reading and reviewing in January?

19 Books! I’ve had a wonderful January. I’m sure I have broken some kind of record; I’ve never read so many books in one month in my life, and I’ve enjoyed them all thoroughly. This may have been due to the fact that I’ve been in bed a good few days with the flu, and enjoyed many cosy evenings reading by the fireplace, whatever the reason, I feel very inspired!

I’ve experienced passion, adventure, crime, love, fear, terror, madness, heartbreak, loss, forgiveness, distress, happiness, and laughter. I’ve travelled to the Scottish Highlands, an idyllic Irish island, The English countryside and London, Maine, New York, Boston, US small towns, an enigmatic lake in US, the wilds of Alaska.

So, I’ve had plenty of fun!

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  • The books I didn’t review.

I’ve read and reviewed 19 books. I’ve also started many others, but didn’t get past the ‘look inside’ pages, because I didn’t enjoy reading, so I didn’t finish, and therefore didn’t review.

I don’t review the books I dislike, for two reasons:

1) I didn’t finish them, so it seems unfair, who knows if the book improved?  Perhaps I wasn’t in the mood for that type of book on that particular day?

2) I don’t like sending negative messages into the world. What’s the point?

You may say ‘to warn readers’. Readers can read blurbs and 10% of the book for free, so in less than five or ten minutes, they’ll know if they want to buy it or not.

I’m not on a crusade to save readers, they are perfectly capable of saving themselves!

My aim is to point out the positive aspects of the books I enjoy, hoping that others will enjoy them, too, and I’m also supporting other authors.

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  • Why do I read?

1- To Unwind. A cup of tea or glass of wine depending on the day, and a book I enjoy is a wonderful end to a busy or boring day.

2- To Learn. I read to observe how other writers write. I check out everything! From formal aspects such as the blurb, the acknowledgements, whether the chapters have names or numbers, or both, to linguistic and literary aspects such as the use of dialogue tags, adverbs, prologue or epilogue, characterisation, plot development. I usually highlight along the way, so I go back and have a look later. It’s easy to do with the kindle app.

3- To Research. I read to try to understand why I (and other readers) enjoy reading the books I/they read. What makes a book compelling? It’s like an assignment. The best way to learn to write is not necessarily to read books on writing, it’s to read books critically and with an observant and open mind. I’m not only reading, I’m also learning to write, which is an ongoing process. And believe me, every single page I read teaches me something about my own writing process.

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Going back to my reviews. There are far too many reviews to include in one post, so I’m going to be posting them over various days and weeks.

This is a peek of the reviews I’ll be posting:

The retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in the Scottish Highlands, two erotic romances, a disturbing tale of horror and madness, two romantic comedies, a sweet Christmas themed love story, a courtroom thriller, an Intense romantic trilogy set in Manhattan, an action packed romance set in Alaska, A disturbing psychological drama set in the UK, a contemporary family drama set in an American small town, A heartwarming love story of two families who have suffered loss through cancer, a romantic family drama set in Ireland, Crime fiction set in Maine, A historical romance set in Edwardian England, a sweet and humorous office romance, two thriller suspense novels.

Here are two of my favourite this month:

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I’m penning mostly shorter, more concise and quicker reviews, because I need more time for reading and my own writing, and I believe they’re more helpful to readers and authors.

In some cases, I’ll be including short author spotlights or interviews, with my review.

If you’re very impatient and want to read my reviews straight away, my reviews are all here on amazon 

They’re also posted to my Facebook page Lucy Shares Lovely Books, where I let readers know what I’m reading, what I’m reviewing, and news about book promotions.

What have you been reading in January?

One-Star Reviews, Again… #IWSG

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This post was written as part of the IWSG monthly, first Wednesday of the month, posts.

All authors need reviews, preferably positive ones, but independent authors, like me, need them more than traditionally published authors.

I need reviews for reassurance and recognition.

I’m insecure, because no ‘big name’ agent or publisher has accepted my work, and I need ‘other’ readers and writers to believe in me, because I don’t write for myself, I write for others, so what others say means a lot to me.

I’ve already written a post about getting negative reviews here, so I won’t repeat myself, but what I will say is that readers are entitled to dislike my book. Some may not enjoy the plot, others may hate my characters, and some more may cringe at my writing style. I have to live with that. I can live with that.

I have 2 one-star reviews for book 1, All Hallows at Eyre Hall. I’m not happy with either of them, but I understand that once an artist’s work is released to the world, it belongs to the audience, readers, or viewers, etc., and they can say what they like.

I do find consolation in my 34 4 and 5 star reviews, and the knowledge that bad reviews happen to everyone, including classic authors such as Henry Miller, Margaret Atwood, Ernest Hemingway, Vonnegut, Margaret Mitchel, and a few more, read on… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/23/bad-reviews-classics_n_6527638.html

But what happens when you get a one star review because the reader wanted a paperback and discovers she’s bought an ebook? And instead of returning it to amazon, she asks you, the author to return it?

I know authors aren’t supposed to reply, but I did. I told her how to get a refund from Amazon. If she does get the refund, which I’ll never know, what happens to the review? Will anyone (the reader /amazon) bother to remove it? Can you ask Amazon to remove it? Will they remove it?

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Probably not. The chances are a bad review will stick with you forever.

The only way to counteract one-star reviews is by getting honest positive reviews.

Sometimes people read your novel, enjoy it, they even tell you they liked it, but there’s no review. Readers are reading hundreds of my pages on KDP (I know because Amazon informs authors every day of the pages readers are reading, and we get paid accordingly), and I’m selling a few copies almost every day. So, why don’t readers write reviews?

I often ask ‘readers’ about this, and they’re usually either unused to writing reviews, or worried about writing an ‘unprofessional’ review. If they knew how much it meant to the author, just to write a few words of praise, I’m sure they’d all write reviews.

I tell everyone I know to write reviews of everything they read, but many of them, who are avid readers, have never written a public review.

I’m sure everyone who reads this post writes reviews, but how can we convince everyone who reads to write a review? Any ideas?

Check out what other insecure writers are saying here.

Writers as Reviewers

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Today’s insecurity is related to reviewing. Should I review every book I read or only those I enjoyed and would therefore recommend? Should writers review other writers publicly at all?

Most writers are avid readers, and some are also reviewers. It seems logical for writers who are readers to review the books they read, but is it always a good idea?

I must admit, I never used to review the books I read on Amazon, and I’ve been a regular amazon kindle and paperback customer for years. I used to think reviewing was for experts, until I started publishing myself, and realized how useful it is for other readers and helpful for authors, so I started reviewing many of the books I read from that moment onwards. At first, I thought it was a great idea, everyone wins.

Over a year later, with over 50 reviews on Amazon.com, and at least the same number on my blog, I’m not so sure it’s a good idea any more. I’m always kind when I review, because I know what an author has gone through in order to write and publish a book, but that doesn’t mean I’m not honest. On the other hand, if I don’t like the book, or think it needs more work, I sometimes tell the author privately, if I think the information can be useful, but I normally don’t review it publicly.

I’m convinced that my opinion will always be biased and therefore unjust. Why? Because although I have a solid linguistic and literary academic background, my opinion is not valuable enough to cause a negative effect on anyone’s ratings or self-confidence, after all, I may be wrong, since part of my opinion is linked to personal tastes and preferences.

There are some interesting articles on the topic:

http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/ethics-of-reviewing/ Discusses the ethics of reviewing books by authors we know.

http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/why-indie-authors-should-give-honest-reviews-as-readers/ Discusses the negative results of giving negative reviews.

http://barbtaub.com/2015/05/23/should-writers-be-reviewers/ An interesting and recent discussion on the topic of negative reviews.

So, what do you think? Should writers write positive and negative reviews? Should we review at all? Or should we just write? I’m not sure any more…

This post is part of Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly Blog Hop. Follow the link to have a look at some of the other posts and/or join in.