Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Insider's View on Book Reviews

When Christine asked me to do a post on Book Reviews, I was stunned! What can I say, I’m a complete novice! Then I decided to bring HM&B multi published author Christina Hollis with me and get her views on it as well.

Luckily, it’s not that tough to write book reviews once you hit your reviewing stride. It may take a while to figure out your style, but once you have it, you have it.

Here are the points I try to hit in most reviews, I start by grounding my review with a synopsis. In a way, I offer my own version of a back cover teaser. I want the reader to know what’s going on, who the key players are and what is at stake before I dive deep into analyzing the writing style or the deeper meaning.

Don’t spoil the excitement for future readers by giving away the ending. How many times has a book or movie been ruined for you by a mouthy friend or sibling? If I find it’s impossible to talk about the book without divulging all of the details, I come up with an alternate review style by asking some insightful questions while at the same time whetting readers’ appetite for that particular book!

Overly negative or unconditionally positive reviews suck. They just do. Why bash a writer by attacking her on a public forum (especially when you know how time-consuming and emotionally wrought the entire process is)? Alternately, over-enthusiasm may also come across as bias. “What does this reviewer have to gain?” A reader may ask. I make it a practice to only review books that I like, which means I may sometimes sway to the over zealous side of things. Providing my interpretation of the book’s synopsis definitely provides some balance.

But on the other hand, I try to focus on the positive and fail to discuss areas that don’t work. I don’t lie; just with a little creative thinking, I’m able to figure out a way to provide an honest review.

Christina Hollis is a bestselling author of romantic fiction. She was born in Somerset, England and met her husband on a blind date. After moving to Gloucestershire, Christina produced many articles and photographs for national magazines, mainly about life in the country.

 In 1990 her first full length novel, Knight’s Pawn, was published by Harlequin Mills and Boon under the pen name Polly Forrester. During a career break to raise her family, she wrote award-winning short stories. Then in 2007 her first Mills and Boon Modern Romance, The Italian Billionaire’s Virgin was published. Since then, her books have appeared in lists of best sellers all over the world.

‘As well as romantic conflict, I like my books to capture the countryside in all its moods,’ she says. ‘Reading romance is my idea of luxury - it’s the chance to escape from the pressures of everyday life for a while.’

Let’s see what Christina has to say:
“Many months go by between an author getting the germ of an idea and the day when their book if finally published and released for distribution. By that time we've lived closely with our characters for a long time. Dispatching books for reviews is almost like sending a child out into the world. You can only hope that other people will love them as much as you do!

Reviews are a great way to attract new readers, and I like Nas' approach. There's no point in a reviewer highlighting where they consider an author has gone wrong - when a book is already on sale it's far too late to do anything about it. Speaking as a reader, I'd much rather be guided toward a book that sounds good and that I'd like to read, rather than hear about its shortcomings which, after all, are subjective. Everyone's opinion is different and we're all entitled to our own views.

I also think reviews are vital. Word of mouth is one of the most important tools in the business of bringing enjoyment to the widest possible audience. I’ve lost count of the number of books I’ve fallen in love with after a personal recommendation.

Feedback from readers is indispensable for an author, too. Everyone loves good reviews but criticism - as long as it’s constructive - is useful too.”

Christina's latest release:


Now duty is his only mistress!

For notorious playboy Prince Lysander Kahani, playtime is over…Left with a country to run, he draws the line at playing nanny to his orphaned nephew!

Instead he sends for a professional. But one glance at buttoned-up Alyssa Dene and Lysander’s wicked side re-emerges! Wary of his scandalous reputation, Alyssa tries to keep her distance – but Lysander draws her like a moth to a flame.

Lysander is fighting a battle between public duty and private desire, but he is determined to make Alyssa a royal offer she won’t refuse…
Weight Of The Crown, available at:
Amazon                           Amazon UK                   Mills & Boon
Christina Hollis on the WEB!
Website             Twitter        Facebook        Blog     Tumbler       

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why a Book is Better Than a Kindle or a Nook

Unlike most of the tech-savvy people I know, I just can't get excited about e-readers.  Don't get me wrong, I love technology.  I use an iPad, smart phone, Facebook, Twitter and Pandora. But, I come from a long line of book-reading nerds that believe a book is meant to be held and smelled.  I frequent the library for the tactile satisfaction of picking a book off the shelf and flipping through the pages. 
I can't get cozy with a hard piece of plastic that I have to plug in.  I have tried to read a book in my iPad, and I hated every second of it. It took me forever to get through the book, which I also ended up hating because it all felt cold and sterile. 
I know you are thinking I am crazy, but I have come up with 5 reasons that a book is better than a Kindle or Nook.
1. The smell and feel of a book can't be digitally recreated
At least not yet.  I enjoy holding a book in my hands and turning each page.  I can turn down a page or write a note in the margin to remember next time I read the book. That paper smell just relaxes me, and lets me know it's time to sit down and read. Soon people may walk into a library and wonder what the funky smell is, and I have news for you, it's the BOOKS!
2. You can't share your Kindle with your friends.
At least not without parting with your e-reader while a friend reads the book you are "loaning" to them. I know some services let you borrow books, like at a library, but so far I haven't found a great solution for this problem. I regularly read something and pass it on to a friend and get books from my friends in this same fashion. 
3. I read a book to get away from the computer screen
With an e-reader you are stuck staring at a screen.  I work in a job where I look at the computer most of the day.  I like to come home from work, and grab a book to get me away from the harsh computer screen. Not to mention all the other technology we deal with regularly like TVs and iPads. I've seen the Kindle digital ink, and it's not bad, but it still feels like tech in my hands. Sometimes I just need a visual break from all the screens in my life, and I go to the pages of a book to get it.
4. Used book stores are a huge part of my life.
I do buy new books too, but I frequent the used book stores and trade in my books and buy others.  Without books in our world these places would not exist at all.  Sure it's convenient to download a book and lighter to carry, but there is just something about shopping in the store for a book that gets me excited to read it. Another thing I love about the used book store is I can get a book for 1-3 bucks, and with an e-reader the prices are usually not that good.
5. With a book I know where I am at.
A Kindle gives you a visual representation (like a progress bar) and a percentage of how far you are in the book. A Nook has the page number in the upper right hand corner, but since you can change the font and size, the total number of pages will change. So page 87 of 242 is the same as page 96 of 267, or in Kindle speak, 36%. I don't want to do math, I just want to read!
We can agree to disagree on this if you think I am way off. I would love it if I could learn to read on an e-reader, but for now I will continue to be a book lover.  And that means I will keep holding, smelling and turning actual pages as long as I can.
About the author: Elli is an avid skier and tennis player who enjoys writing in her spare time for – home of <a href="http:/">CenturyLink Internet</a>.