Book Reviews

2 articles tagged as Book Reviews

Ssince Tuesday kicks off my several week blog tour, I thought this article, which I wrote but have not yet published, was timely.  😀

So you have a friend who is published, creating that little bit of alchemy that transforms a writer into an author.  It’s not as easy as you may think, and, in itself, an accomplishment worth celebrating.

So, how do you help them?

First, a caveat.  This article is not meant to make any of you feel guilty.  You’ll see why I say this in a second.  Just the facts, no guilt attached.

When you want to be supportive, but you just ain’t sure.

 

In Which We Realize a Prophet is not a Prophet in their own country.

It is a well-known fact that friends do not read friends books.  Maybe if you give them to them and beg a lot, but mostly, no.  I have a vast circle of friends (which is weird to type because it was not always this way) and I can only think of six of them, off hand, who have read my books on their own.

Think about it, though.  There are a million reasons why you wouldn’t read a friend’s book.  One, it’s kind of hard to take your friend seriously as an author (Hence the title – even Jesus wasn’t taken seriously where he grew up at).  Two, you might hate what they write.  Three, you might not just be much of a reader or have time to sit down. Or you have a limited budget.  Lots and lots of reasons.

So, what can you do that’s free and doesn’t force you to read their stuff?

Download their books when they are up for free.  

Weird, huh?  But when they put their eBooks up for grabs, it’s because we want you to download it.  The more downloads, the more other people might see our book.  The best royalties I ever had was when we gave The Chocolatier’s Wife away for free for a few days.  There’s this alchemy called algorithms (which I will mention again) that helps Amazon sell your books to people.  So download away.

Re tweet, re-blog, repost, re-whatever.

Spreading the word is the best thing.  And if it looks vaguely embarrassing, like it’s actually a book filled with dragon/vampire porn you don’t have to say the book is awesome.  Never say that something is awesome unless you mean it.  You can say any of the following:

“My friend’s book is on sale/published/etc. today…please check it out!”

“This looks fun, check it out!”

I often say, if I have no idea what the contents are like, “This is such a cool cover.  I’ll have to check it out later.”  I say this because I am a sucker for a cool cover, so if I say this, it’s not a lie.

There’s a lot of other things you can say, much better than what I typed.  The point is, if you spread the word on sales, interviews and reviews it really helps.  It’s someone else saying it’s cool.  People will take someone else saying that they should look at a link so much more seriously than if I say it about my own content.

Not that that’s going to stop me.

Go to your local library

A lot of local libraries will have a place where patrons can make a suggestion as to what they should buy.  Do this, because being in a library opens up a whole new world for your author, namely:

  1. If the author wants to do a book club meeting, and they have enough books that people can get through inter library loan, then they can be a guest at a library’s book club gathering.
  2. Exposure to more people.
  3. If a library already has the author’s book, they are more willing to work with said author to do stuff.

So, write down the ISBN, the author name and book title.  ISBN’s can be gotten off Amazon or B&N if you don’t want to ask your friend.

 

Part the Second:

In which you say, “But Cindy, I actually like their book!”

Well, that opens up some more steps for you.  You can do the above with more enthusiasm, and:

Do book reviews

Are you on Good Reads?   Make sure to add it to your shelves (and add anything else they’ve done and mark it as want to read if you’ve not read it…again, free and no strings attached) and review it.

Reviews are not hard.  It needs to be at least one complete sentence.  “Really loved it!” is a complete sentence and does the job.

Don’t go beyond the first half of the book in your review.

Amazon, however, is even more important than Good Reads for a review.  It’s those Algorithms, and the fact that Amazon won’t put your book on the “If you liked this, you might want” ribbon unless it has at least 60 reviews.

Amazon also removes reviews that they think are unfair – i.e. if they think the author’s mother wrote it, or if they think the author got their friends to do it.  So don’t mention that you have a relationship with the person, and only write a review if you feel the work merits it.  While reviews are really important, dishonesty, even with the best intention, can break the system.

Word of Mouth: 

Word of mouth is worth so much.  Mention that you like your friend’s blog, friend them on twitter and retweet something clever.  Any exposure that you can give, as long as it doesn’t peeve off your other friends or make you uncomfortable really will help your friend achieve their dreams.

Presents:  If you like the book, and know someone who you would need to buy a present for, you can always get your friend to sign a book.  I’ve signed books for mothers, girlfriends and sisters.  Signed books are still cool.

And that’s it.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for any support you’ve given me.

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There is nothing usual about the Amazing Arden.  A female illusionist in the 1900s, where such a thing is a rarity, she cuts a man in half every night.

But one night, after the show, a dead man is found.  She flees, and luck, or perhaps fate, throws her into the path of the sheriff of a neighboring town.  Instead of turning her in, Officer Virgil Holt takes her to his own office with the intention of using her capture to prove his usefulness despite a well-hidden, but debilitating wound.

This is, in some ways, the frame in which the real story sits.  During the interrogation, Arden tells the whole of her own story, an unbelievable and complex thing filled with luck, hope, and love.  It is a story about magic, but it is told in a pragmatic, practical light.  The chapters between the slices of Arden’s history are, the some ways, out chance to take a breath as Virgil voices our opinions.  They are tense, because Arden is trying to convince him to let her go free.

I liked both halves of the story.  I’ll admit, it’s not what I expected.  This is not really a mystery to be solved with detective work and forensics.  The reader spends time wondering if she is the killer, the victim, or a madwoman – but the resolution of that is the story she tells, not through sought out evidence.  It is beautifully told, I loved the slice of late 1800’s/early 1900’s history and life, the bits about illusions and how she built her career.  I also enjoyed the interplay between Arden and Virgil – often I am tempted to race through the secondary story, but this was well written and I wanted to read it and see what was happening there.

So, the take away.  This is an excellent historical novel.  The characters and place are drawn extremely well, you feel like you are there.  I really enjoyed it.

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