Book Review by @FTThum – Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang

I am fascinated with strong female characters, real-life or fictitious. So it is no wonder this book caught my attention when it was first published in 2013. Unfortunately with time constraints, it wasn’t until the paperback was released that it found its way into my home. Cixi Title:               Empress Dowager Cixi: the Concubine who Launched Modern China Author:          Jung Chang Publisher:     Vintage Books, London (3 July 2014) ISBN-10:        0099532395 ISBN-13:        9780099532392 Website:         http://www.jungchang.net/ Pages:              Paperback, 528 pages Genre:             Literary Non-Fiction – History    What’s it about? Empress Dowager Cixi was never ‘crowned’ empress. But she was the de facto ruler of China from 1861 to 1908. At the age of 16, Cixi was ‘honoured’ for being selected to be a concubine to the Emperor Xianfeng. At the death of the Emperor, she (then 25 years old) with the official Empress Zhen, “sat behind the throne” of the successor, Cixi’s son, Tongzhi who was then 5 years of age. From that position, literally behind a yellow silk screen, Cixi ruled China. Whilst she has been credited for her efforts bringing China into the modern age, Cixi’s private life remains very much just that – private, partly contributed by the loss of her personal archives during her reign. In contrast, the public life of this formidable woman was subject to a lot conjecture and criticism for she had dared to thwart the traditions of the patriarchal system and perhaps misogynistic culture of the times. And in comparison to the likes of say, Elizabeth I or Josephine Bonarparte or Cleopatra, Cixi’s life has received relatively little attention, and largely demonised. In similar style to her previous bestseller, Wild Swans (1991), Jung Chang has presented the life of Cixi in a matter-of-fact and impassive manner. It would seem there is a concerted effort to be impartial both in language and the events of that era. In this sense, the book allows the readers to come to their own conclusions as to the morality and values of that Chinese era, and in particular, of Cixi, and the different political parties of the time. Factually, there was enough to provide a political context to Cixi’s rule while not inundating the readers with details. In saying this, the simplification of the rich and complex events belie the political and cultural obstacles Cixi must have had to navigate. Note this was a woman who was not ‘educated’ as compared to her male counterparts. Jung’s depiction of Cixi gives a hint of the chameleon – a public persona and a deeply private person, a traditional woman with modern perspectives. It would have been a treat if Jung had canvassed in greater depth the psychological and emotional landscape of this clever woman. I wonder what it was like to live in that era, being within the Imperial Court, and being responsible for China and its progress. A small detail stood out for me – Cixi collaborated/worked closely with Empress Zhen to make the changes required. While astute, decisive, incisive and at times uncompromising, she it would seem did not perceive ‘female competition’. Quite capable of ruthlessness to achieve her ends, Cixi nevertheless sought first to collaborate. Her political astuteness, in maneuvering  for powers besetting China, is rather incredible. She was courageous enough to fight and/or retreat. The book highlights the ingenuity, and political and strategic savviness, of Cixi in wrestling and maintaining power for 47 years. As Charles Denby (an American minister to Beijing during her mid-reign) stated:

At that time, she was universally esteemed by foreigners, and revered by her own people, and was regarded as being one of the greatest characters in history…Under her rule for a quarter of a century China made immense progress.”

This book is worth a read, for it gave great insight to the comings and goings of the intrigue within the Chinese Imperial Court, and the strength and vision of one woman to bring China into the modern age.   Recommendation: LWI Rating:      Realistic Characterization: 4/5      Made Me Think: 3/5      Overall enjoyment: 3.5/5      Readability: 4/5      Recommended: 3/5 Overall Rating: 3.5/5   Buy it at:

Amazon Hardback USD 21.60
  Paperback USD 13.61
  Kindle USD 9.67
Bookdepository Hardback Euro 19.98
  Paperback Euro 10.63
Booktopia Hardback AUD 40.75
  Paperback AUD 23.25

Book Review By: Florence Florence 2      

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#BOOK #REVIEW BY @ColleenChesebro OF “Deception” @mello_elo

Deception

(Image Credit: Amazon)

Title: Deception
Author:  Eloise De Sousa
ISBN-10:  1291547955
ISBN-13:  978-1291547955
http://eloisedesousa.wordpress.com/
Pages:  234
Genre:  Adult Romance, Crime, Suspense

Note: Ms. De Sousa provided me with this book for an honest review and that’s what you will receive here following.

I immediately liked and felt a kinship with Amanda Glenson, and her five year old son, Zachary at the very start of the book. They live in London where she is a legal assistant at a prestigious law firm.  Amanda has a chance encounter with the sexy Alex Edwards, a consulting attorney, at work on Monday morning that left me wanting to see more of where their relationship was headed. Without warning on that fated day, Amanda is forced to confront the past she ran away from years before.

Amanda and Zachary travel to exotic Zimbabwe, the home of her birth, all the while clinging to the hope that the ghosts of her past will finally be laid to rest.  Unaware of Amanda’s history, Alex accompanies them as they are both tasked in assisting with the land sale of a prominent client for the law firm.  I could see right away that Amanda and Alex were drawn to one another, while the mystery behind her previous life unraveled before my eyes.

I was impressed with the delightful descriptions of Zimbabwe that De Sousa liberally scattered throughout her writing.  I was visiting a far off land through her eyes.  It was as if I could smell the heady fragrance of the Jacaranda blossoms she describes in great detail.  Those same details gave me a sense of being part of the story because of the empathy I felt for the characters.  Amanda’s family was a nightmare, and to see her battle through to the bitter end was enlightening to me.

Just when I thought I had the story figured out, De Sousa would drag me back into the suspense by introducing more twists to the plot.  The title, “Deception,” skillfully blends all of those twists and turns into a story that reveals much about learning to accept love and learning how to trust again.  I was genuinely sorry when the story ended.  I wanted more.

I enjoyed the portrayal of the characters, which like in many families, had numerous faults to deal with.  It was the realization that the deepest deceptions are sometimes caused by family that really hit a sensitive nerve in my heart.  Trust is a hard thing to regain after past transgressions and De Sousa handles this message splendidly.

I enjoyed this book and the characters greatly. I am looking forward to a sequel of “Deception” which would recreate the lives of Alex and Amanda in another setting. It would be nice to revisit their relationship under different circumstances.

Deception” is exciting from the start to the finish.  If you enjoy adult romance, mystery, and suspense this book will tug at your heart while reminding you how special true love really is.

Eloise De Sousa

Author: Eloise De Sousa

Ratings                                                             
Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think: 3/5
Overall enjoyment: 4/5
Readability: 5/5
Recommended: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.0

 

Buy it at:  Amazon
Format & Pricing
Paperback:  $8.15 USD
Kindle: $.99 USD
Alternate Purchasing:  : Amazon U.K., Lulu.com

 

Compare to the Ronovan Writes’ review of the book if you like here.

 

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Review of Self-Publishing Steps to Successful Sales by Seumas Gallacher

Self-Publishing Steps to Successful Sales
Self-Publishing Steps to Successful Sales
  • File Size: 620 KB
  • Print Length: 45 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: SGC Publishing (March 27, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00JBL6K80

 

Seumas Gallacher is a writer with a large on-line following. In this book, Mr. Gallacher shares his experiences of self-publishing. From his discovery that this was indeed a possibility, to now having thousands of books sold to his name.

This is not a detailed manual on how to format your book, or how to create you cover. There are plenty of posts, books, etc, that share that type of information. This book offers general advice on the topic, and it is concise and to the point. Moreover, it emphasises the author’s personal experience, that is, of course not fully replicable by anybody else. If you have not read Mr Gallacher’s posts in the various social media, you don’t know how personal his style is. His advice is sound and has to be adapted and transformed by every author. One of the points Mr Gallacher emphasises is the business aspect of writing. Although you might see it as an expression of your inner being or as a need to inform people of something, or as a deep felt vocation, if you plan on making a living out of writing, or trying to, you must approach it professionally as a business, the same you would any other. Of course, your reasons for writing could be others than to make money out of it. In that case you would be well advised to create your own definition of success and not worry too much about rankings or sales, although this book would still provide a useful general guide.

Personally, I found the book clear, easy to follow and a quick read. Mr Seumas’s personal style shines through. I particularly enjoyed the non-internet part of his experience that demonstrates the importance of making connections, knowing the area you work in, and not being shy. Try it. If they say no, you’re no further back that when you started, but if they say yes…the sky could be the limit.

I recommend this book to new authors and also to those who have a number of publications to their name. You might be reassured you’re doing the right things, you might wonder about a change of strategy, and you will enjoy the style of writing and discover plenty about the business. And also a few things about this great and generous author.

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: NA
Made Me Think: 5/5
Overall enjoyment: 5/5
Readability: 5/5
Recommended: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
 

Buy it at:  Amazon
Format & Pricing: Kindle £1.86
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Self-Publishing-Steps-Successful-Seumas-Gallacher-ebook/dp/B00JBL6K80/

 

Thank you all for reading, thanks to Seumas Gallacher for his book, and you know what to do, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

Book Review by @OlgaNM7 of ‘Dead Drop’ by Jesse Miles

Dead Drop by Jesse Miles
Dead Drop by Jesse Miles

Title:  Dead Drop

Author:   Jesse Miles

ISBN: 

 ISBN13:

ASIN: B00NMO1S9I

Published:  Jesse Miles Books (15th September 2014)

Pages:  269

Genre:  Mystery/Thriller/Suspense. Private Investigator.

Dead Drop. A P.I. and Philosopher at home in L.A.

When I read the description of this novel in Net Galley (I obtained a free copy there) the premise sounded interesting. I enjoy mystery, suspense and crime thrillers. For me, the best are a combination of a gripping story and unforgettable characters. With regards to the story, it could be a fascinating and well described setting, or it might take place at an interesting historical moment, or in a peculiar background… And the characters…Real human beings with quirks, conflicts, lives, and voices. A P.I. who gets a job checking a possible case of embezzlement in a huge corporation (that as you can imagine quickly become far more complicated than that) and who also teaches Philosophy sounded promising on both counts.

Apart from all that, Dead Drop (the meaning of the name is explained in the novel) has elements also of the spy thriller. Jack Salvo, the detective, is in quite a few ways, your typical P.I. The novel is written in the first person and therefore we don’t get much on the way of other people’s point of view as to how Jack comes across to others. He seems popular with the women (although in some cases it is unclear if that might not be due to the attempts of the female characters at getting inside information from him), he knows about everything, he is well conversant with L.A. (I’ve never been there but to my untrained eye, the details seemed convincing), he is self-assured…and he teaches Philosophy and seems to enjoy it. But other than that little detail about him (and a very late brief discussion about his life with one of the female characters who becomes his love interest, Lily) I didn’t get the sense that I learned very much about the character or that he was much more than a collection of all his characteristics (that were neither offensive not particularly endearing, other than his interest in his teaching).

The plot is well developed and combines research, intrigue, action and mystery. Nobody is who they seem to be, and the story takes Jack from the corporate world, through veterans of the French foreign legion (and Philosophy experts to boot), bit actresses, luxury car garages, good old fashioned surveillance, breaking and entering, Swiss bank accounts, murder and bluff and double bluff.

The style of writing is clean, direct, easy to read, and fast-paced and fits in with the story. In summary I enjoyed the book but thought it could gain by developing the main character a bit more. Some of his reactions towards the end of the novel and his love story seem a bit sudden and not completely in keeping with the persona developed throughout the rest. As this is the first of a series of novels it might well be that the background will come more into play in later novels and it might allow the character to grow and become more multidimensional.

A solid story, a good and interesting read, just a notch below the unmissable category.

Ratings:

Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5

Made Me Think: 4/5

Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5

Readability: 4.5/5

Recommended: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4/5

Buy it at:  Amazon (currently only available as e-book)

Format & Pricing:

Paperback: 

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Drop-Jesse-Miles-ebook/dp/B00NMO1S9I/ ($3.99)

Review by:

Olga_Núñez_Miret_author.jpg
Olga Núñez Miret, author, blogger…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

Thanks for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, please like, share, comment, and CLICK! And if you’re a reader, remember to review the books you read. Many thanks!

Book Review by @OlgaNM7 of ‘Some Luck’ by Jane Smiley

Some Luck by Jane Smiley
Some Luck by Jane Smiley

 

Title:  Some Luck

Author:   Jane Smiley

ISBN:  0307700313

 ISBN13: 978-0307700315

ASIN: B00LB89SA8

Published:  9th October 2014 (Mantle) In paper 7th October 2014 (Knopf)

Pages:  416

Genre:  Historical Fiction

There is something very attractive about settling down to read the story of a family and getting to know them for a lengthy period of time, as if they were family friends. In the case of Last Hundred Years Trilogy, of which Some Luck is the first novel, a hundred years, no less.

In an era when people don’t seem to have time for anything and everything must be shorter and faster today than it was yesterday, the promise of space and time to see characters and situations develop feels like a welcome luxury.

Jane Smiley’s new novel that starts with the kernel of a young family living in an Iowan farm, has been described as an epic and it is, not only for its large cast of characters (no big figures, no huge names, just people like you and me), but for its breadth, spread and ambition. Some Luck follows several generations of the same family (and they keep coming) through their lives and that of their country and the world. The novel is marvellously democratic, with no hierarchy of voices or experiences, and the same space is given to a toddler trying to understand the world around him and the functioning of his own body than to somebody drawing their last breath.

Readers get to know the many characters from inside, in a non-judgemental way, as you accompany them through their lives in their own heads, and you might like them and agree with them more or less, but you come to accept them as they are.

The book reminded me of a recent and wonderful movie Boyhood although the novel’s reach is greater but the feeling of peace and reflexivity you experience is similar.

The author’s ability to use brief but descriptive language, and combine it with extremely subjective, stream-of-consciousness passages, and quasi poetic everyday wisdom (and philosophy) creates a beautifully textured patchwork of a novel. If maybe the dimensions of the canvas are smaller, this could be the War and Peace of this generation.

This is a novel that moves at a sedate and calm pace, made of little moments and small steps; in summary, a novel about the things that really make life what it is. Extraordinary in its everydayness. I hope to meet the family (that has become mine as well) again very soon.

Ratings:

Realistic Characterization: 4.5/5

Made Me Think: 4.5/5

Overall enjoyment: 5/5

Readability: 4/5

Recommended: 4.5/5

Overall Rating: 5/5

Buy it at:  Everywhere

Format & Pricing:

Paperback:  http://www.amazon.com/Some-Luck-novel-Jane-Smiley/dp/0307700313/ ($16.95)

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Some-Luck-Jane-Smiley-ebook/dp/B00LB89SA8/ ($11.50)

Review by:

Olga_Núñez_Miret_author.jpg

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

 

If you’ve enjoyed the review, remember to like, share, comment and click. And of course, if you’re a reader, remember to review the books you read. Thanks!

Book Review by @RobertHughes05 of “Short Shorts” by @CyrilBussiere

 

51T3hAPiZlL._AA160_
Title: Short Shorts
Author: Cyril L.C. Bussiere
ASIN: B00N534CCG
Published: 28 August 2014 by Cyril L.C. Bussiere
Pages: 28
Genre: Short Adult Stories
Format: Kindle Edition
Price: £0.77 includes VAT & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whisperent
File Size: 1076 KB
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Sold by: Amazon Media
Language: English
Text-to-Speech: Enabled

What the book is about: A collection of nine short stories covering subjects from cybernetic love, to ghosts and vampires to broken hearts and memories. ‘Short Shorts’ is thought-provoking and will make you think about what is really happening in the stories it contains.

Book Highlights: Bussiere has such a way with words that they make you feel you are actually in the story witnessing what is going on.  I felt I was sat in a huge auditorium watching each story unfold in front of me as I read each one. His words carry the reader along smoothly and never once did I have to stop and re-read anything because of any uncertainly of what was going on.  I’ve read the book several times and, each time, I come away with more thoughts of just what is happening in each story.  Some of the stories contain a twist I was never expecting, which is a sign of a great author.

Challenges of the book: I had no challenges reading this book or relating to any of the new characters introduced in each story.  I felt I knew them from the first few lines in, almost as if I had been reading about them for days, rather than the few minutes it took me to read each story.  Some may feel they want to know more about each character and wish the stories had gone on longer but, for me, I was able to imagine what may have happened to each character after finishing each story.  Each of the stories remained on my mind many days after reading the book.

What do you get from it: Love, pain, hurt, emotions, sadness, mystery, loneliness and, most of all, thoughts of what may have happened before and after each story.  I never thought a real mixture of emotions could be found in an entire book containing so few pages.

What I would have changed if anything: I would have loved some of the stories to have gone on a little longer but, I guess, Bussiere could not have then called the book ‘Short Shorts’.  I fell in love with some of the characters created by Bussiere and would dearly love to read more about them, especially the ones featured in the sadder of the stories.  I came away hoping they would eventually find some happiness in life.  Bussiere could certainly, and should consider, writing whole novels containing some of the characters from the stories in this book.

Who Would I recommend this book to?: Anybody who is a real lover of short stories and who likes a wide variation in the stories contained in a book.  It would also appeal to anybody who likes to think more about the characters and their stories, after finishing reading a book.  This is the perfect read for anybody with a busy lifestyle who has little, if any, time for sitting down to read a good book.

Read Cyril’s Lit World Interview here.

Ratings:
Realistic Characterisation: 5/5
Made Me Think: 5/5
Overall enjoyment: 4/5
Readability: 5/5
Recommended: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5

Review By:
Hugh Roberts
hugh_roberts_book_reviewer.jpg

 

 

@RobertHughes05 
hughsviewsandnews.com 

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BOOK REVIEW BY @ColleenChesebro OF “The Recluse Storyteller” @SASSEVN

Recluse Storyteller

(Image Credit: Amazon)

http://mwsasse.com/

Title:  The Recluse Storyteller
Author:  Mark W. Sasse
ISBN:  1492241253
ISBN13: 9781492241256
ASIN:  B00FOBQ464
Published:  October 6, 2013 Kindle Edition
Pages:  239
Genre:  fiction, suspense, drama

When I first met Margaret Pritcher, the recluse storyteller, I was not sure what to think.  At first I thought she was a psychic, or even mentally challenged, because she somehow spiritually channeled deeply buried secrets from some of the apartment dwellers in her building by weaving their stories into her own life.  I was intrigued by her storytelling methods. 

Margaret is an outsider in the world she lives in. A typical recluse, she worked at an online job to support herself.  She only went outside her apartment at night, when she thought she would not run into people she knew.  Her strangeness works for her benefit though, and I felt like I wanted to protect her because of the way she was portrayed. 

Not far into the book, I realized that she could not control when or where these stories came from.  They seemed to flow from her very soul, almost as if she was possessed.  Each of the stories Margaret told seemed to intertwine within each person’s own personal story.  With the reciting of each narrative, Margaret became weaker and weaker as her own life unraveled from her dedication to her story telling. Through the telling of these stories, Margaret and her friends find the wisdom to face their own demons and to accept themselves for the people they had become in this life.

From “Red Hat,” Mr. Cheevers, Mrs. Johnson and her twins Pam and Sam, to the Reverend Davies, and Janice, Margaret’s only living relative, I felt myself drawn into the intertwining threads of their lives and the moments that seemed to define each of them.  The story of the Vietnam Veteran gave me a glimpse into a world torn with war, split second decision making, and remorse at the hand of fate.  I was deeply moved by the journey each character took in the story telling. 

Mark Sasse writes with an unusual narrative, almost akin to stream of consciousness writing, which pairs nicely with Margaret’s personality. At first, I felt like the book was hard to follow.  Nevertheless, I found the characters to be mark_w_sasse.jpgintriguing, and the more I read the more I began to understand how the writing style was all about Margaret and the telling of her stories.

I felt the book emphasized how much we all share together in the realm of humanity.  Just as the lives of the characters in this book intertwined, so do our lives with many other people.  In addition, I felt that each character seemed to have a lesson to learn.  I could see that our lives are just that, a series of events which teach us something about ourselves we did not know to begin with.

I immensely enjoyed this book and the style that it was written in.  Mark Sasse’s attention to detail made Margaret and the cast of characters realistic in my eyes.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is searching for the answers and meaning in everyday life. 

 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 5/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 5/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5
 

Buy it at:  Amazon
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $9.89 New
Kindle: Free

 

Colleen Chesebro

Colleen_Silver_Threading

 

 

 

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Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of “The Scent of Lilacs” @AnnHGabhart

Scent of Lilacs(Image credit: Amazon)

www.annhgabhart.com

Title:  The Scent of Lilacs (The Heart of Hollyhill #1)
Author:  Ann H. Gabhart
ISBN: 978-0800730802
ASIN:  B007TV0OMM
Published:  May 1st 2005 by Revell (first published January 1st 2005)
Pages:  352
Genre:  Christian/Historical Fiction, Women’s fiction

What the book is about:  At 13 years old, Jocie Brooke learns the true meaning of faith and the love of family when her sister Tabitha, suddenly returns after fleeing their home in Hollyhill, Kentucky with their mother many years ago.  It is 1964, and Jocie’s divorced father, preacher David Brooke, and his Great Aunt Love, strive to care for Jocie with kindness and affection.  Aunt Love struggles to keep her senility in check, as the family struggles with a past that threatens to engulf them.  All is not what it seems in this quiet small town, as deep secrets surface to lead the family on a quest that leads them to many unforeseen truths.

Book Highlights:  As the secrets of the past come to light, it was a joy for me to watch the inner workings of a faith based family deal with the realities of their past choices, good and bad.  All the characters were realistic and believable in the way they dealt with their emotions while their lives unraveled around them. It was easy to empathize with the trials the family endured through the years.  I found myself drawn to the characters and the story. I did not want the book to end.  I was ecstatic to learn that this book is part of a series by Ann Gabhart.

Challenges of the book:  I had no challenges with the characters within the story.  The Christian elements in the book were tasteful and authentic.  Ann Gabhart channels her own knowledge of small town life centered on a strong Christian church element making the characters realistic and credible.  These characters could be your neighbors.

What do you get from it:  Love, family, and faith combined can conquer the troubles of the world.

What I would change if anything:  Ann Gabhart is a true story teller.  Her work stands alone and needs no changes.

Who would I recommend this book to?  I would recommend this book to all women, young and old.  There is knowledge about life, love, and forgiveness which should be passed on to all generations so that others gain an insight on how to deal with the tribulations that life sometimes holds for all of us.

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 5/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 5/5
Readability: 5/5
Recommended: 5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5

 

Buy it at:  Amazon
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $12.98 New
Kindle: Free

Review By:
Colleen Cheseboro
 
silverthreading.com

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LitWorldInterviews wants you as a Book Reviewer.

Lit Word Interviews is looking for volunteer Book Reviewers.

Do you already have your own site and want to post here as well?

Do you love books and read and read and think you have what it takes to give an honest and informative Book Review?

 

We’re looking for reviewers in all genres.

We don’t want to be a one genre place. As long as the Book Review is honest and professionally done, great. We have a basic way we would like them done as far as keeping an LWI scoring system in place but over all, your words, your thoughts, your opinions.

 

One of the mottos here is “Read a Book, Write a Review.” What that means is sharing reviews on sites like Amazon to help authors. Yes, I know if you give them 1 star you might not want to share, but a good review should be shared for certain, as long as it is an honest one. Also GoodReads is a great place to share.

A review on one of the sales sites does not need to be a detailed one like here at LWI.

 

What do you review?

Books you’ve read. At times a book might be offered to LWI to review, if so it may be offered to one of the Book Review team if Ronovan cannot review it himself. Reviews may be done on popular Best Seller Authors or Indie Authors who are just starting out. As long as the books are available to the public and the reviews are professionally done, they are good to go.

 

How do you become a Book Reviewer at LWI?

Email to ronovanwrites (at) gmail (dot) com your;

  • Genre interests
  • Any links to previous reviews you have done
  • Any links to current websites you have or work on (facebook as well, if you use it for book reviewing)

We are looking at all genres and thus know we may need as many as three or so reviewers for our Book Team. If there are really great people responding then we won’t put a number on it. It may be that you submit your review to the email above and it will be posted for you.

 

An example of a Book Review I have done here on the site with the rating system. I’ve done a couple of different styles but giving a reader the truth can give them your excitement or lack there of.  The areas in the review are a good structure, but you need to have your own voice as a reviewer. As I said before, stay professional. But professional does not mean no personality.

 

 

Much Respect

Ronovan

Ron_LWI

 

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How to Write a Book Review.

How to Write a Book Review

One of my Mottos here at Lit World Interviews is ‘Read a Book, Write a Review’. Nice idea, huh? How do you write a review? Scary thought, isn’t it?

Trust me, it wasn’t easy my first time, and not my best. I was afraid I would say something wrong and perhaps dissuade someone from buying a book.

You’ve heard people talk about the KISS method of things. Keep it Simple Sweetie. For me I at times like to say Keep it Short Stupid, but stupid is like a profanity word around here and it really isn’t a nice word, but I was using it for myself. My having just explained all of that shows you WHY I use that definition at times, right?

Let’s give Keep it Simple Sweetie a shot.

But first;

Why Should You Write a Review?

The more reviews a book gets the better it is seen or listed on sites like Amazon. Even if you buy a book at local store, go to a site and write a review. It only takes a few minutes. Some Authors give away books and it would be kind of nice to simply write a review to help out. Free book, why not a review, right?

Okay, back to the Review Writing.

One thing above allBe Honest. This does not mean that if you hated the book that you go in and write a rant. It means you go in and give a few reasons why you didn’t like the book. Preferably intelligent reasons, or at least expressed in an intelligent manner. You don’t have to be vicious. In truth, many people will disregard your review if you are just completely one way or the other in your writing. If you are totally raving over the book, then people might look and think that you are a friend of the author or you are just too nice. If you are totally negative, people will just think you have issues. You need to give reasons.

Yes, I write reviews for friends if I have the book, but I make sure I am honest when I write them. I don’t always give the highest rating.

Even when giving 5 out of 5 stars I say why, and even give areas I would improve upon. I’ve never come across the perfect novel. Why? Because we all have our own opinions. But you don’t have to have read a perfect book to give a 5 out of 5 stars rating. If you enjoyed the book that much, then you enjoyed the book that much. That’s the real purpose of a book.

How do I write my reviews?

I like to use the sandwich method. I like to start off positive, the could have been better parts or what I would have liked parts in the middle, and then end it with something tasty as well.

Recently I did a review of a book where I started off by explaining that even though I didn’t think the book would be my kind of read, I gave it a chance and liked it. That I had let my stereotype thoughts of what a Romance of its kind was supposed to be like. I admitted I was wrong.

I gave details, that were not revealing of the full story itself in as far as giving away too much, to show I had read the book, and then gave reasons I enjoyed the writing style of the book.

Then I went into some things I would have liked to have seen such as the use of certain characters more, or the length of scenes. For this particular book there was very little to complain about. And in all honesty considering it was not my ‘kind’ of book, I was surprised. The writing was that good. I’ve spoken to the Author since reading the novel and she said, thank you but you have to remember, that is like the fifth revision you are reading, it didn’t start out that good. Encouragement for this future best selling Author, I must say. (Meaning me.)

Finally I ended with why I liked the book overall and whether or not it would make me want to read more either by the author or hope for another book in a series of the same characters.

I also gave a reason for my star rating.

A review can be as long or short as you want it to be. But it should be helpful.

The Parts of the Review

  • Show you actually read the book and why you liked or did not like the writing style
  • Were there things you would have liked to have seen differently, more of, less of
  • What did you like about the book as far as content of the story, any connections to characters, message of the book, would you read more by the author
  • Explain the reason for the rating (Optional)

Yes, if you just completely disliked the book, you might not be able to use the sandwich method, but remember to stay professional and use the review to help not only other possible readers but to also give feedback to the authors. They do read them and they want to know how to improve. They KNOW they are not perfect.

One last thing is to lable/title your review in the given field. Something that reflects your feel for the book and why you liked it.

You can read my Amazon Review here.

And as always, remember . . .

Read a Book, Write a Review.

Much Respect

Ronovan

Ron_LWI

2014 © Copyright-All rights reserved by litworldinterviews.wordpress.com

Book review by @FTThum – The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz

I had read this book when it was first published in 2013. The second print was released in January 2014.  It is a book to share, a book that will change your perspectives which is why I have chosen to review it for my first post in LitWorldInterviews.

Though trained in therapy, this review is written not from the perspective of a therapist but rather that of a reader who happens to be a therapist.

Title:               The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find OurselvesThe Examined Life
Author:          Stephen Grosz
Publisher:     Chatto & Windus (3 Jan 2013)
ISBN-10:        070118535X
ISBN-13:        978-0701185350
Website:         http://www.stephengrosz.com/usa//
Pages: Hardback, 240 pages
Genre: Literary Non-Fiction – Psychology

What’s it about?

The Examined Life is a collection of essays based on Stephen Grosz’ case histories of his work as a psychoanalyst. In Grosz’ words, it is a book about ‘change and loss’.

Grosz’ art in story-telling is apparent. The human-ness of each client, and the interaction between he and his clients cannot help but make the reader realise all of us share common experiences such as pain and  suffering in our living, and we are creative and versatile of ways to protect ourselves by whichever means possible.

In telling these stories, Grosz manages to enlighten the reader to the hidden meanings of his clients’ lives. There are the ‘facts’ obvious to all, and then his narratives which distil the motivations leading to a depth of understanding of the human psyche.

The reader is also acutely aware the therapy process occurs within the confines of a therapist’s room, and the accounts told by the clients are rarely verified or corroborated.  As a therapist, I am aware therapeutic ‘conversations’ are about honouring the client’s perspectives, not seeking ‘universal truths’. So the reader is left with stories of people as seen through the eyes of a highly experienced psychoanalyst and poignant narratives which prompt the reader to reflect on humanity.  Take for example, the young man diagnosed as HIV positive who had spent some 3 years of his therapy sessions with Grosz mostly sleeping because it is there that he felt safe and thus could rest. That was a place of healing. Now reconsider the judgment we have of the benefits or the necessity or the efficacy of those sessions.

This book is inspirational, thought provoking and highly entertaining.  Most importantly, by the absence of technical jargon, it is accessible to all and not just those interested in or within the field of psychology.

The essays illuminate and clarify the process of psychoanalysis – the conversations in therapy and the skills of listening, talking and being present with clients – without advocating for this specific technique or method.

I recommend this most certainly to readers curious about the complexities of human mind and behaviour.

Perhaps Grosz said it best:

        “The philosopher Simone Weil describes how two prisoners in adjoining cells learn, over a very long period of time, to talk to each other by tapping on the wall. ‘The wall is the thing which separates them, but it is also their mean o communication,’ she writes. ‘Every separation is a link.’

        This book is about that wall. It’s about our desire to talk, to understand and be understood. It’s also about listening to each other, not just the words but the gaps in between. … It’s something that is a part of our everyday lives – we tap, we listen.”

Enjoy!
LWI Rating:

Realistic Characterization: N/A
Made Me Think: 3/5
Overall enjoyment: 4/5
Readability: 5/5
Recommended: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Hardback $19.05 USD
  Paperback $12.30 USD
  Kindle $9.06 USD
Bookdepository Hardback €17.50 Euro
  Paperback €9.82 Euro
Booktopia Hardback $31.50 AUD
  Paperback $16.50 AUD

My Review of The Blue Diamond by @PSBartlett.

One thing to tell you about me and the rest of us here at LitWorldInterviews (LWI) is we are going to be honest, even about our own family and by family that includes the LWI Team members. Why, because if we’re not then we might as well not even be doing this at all.

 

If you’ve read the recent announcements here at LWI, then you know award winning author PS Bartlett has joined our team. You also know her latest novel, The Blue Diamond: The Razor’s Edge was released this past Friday.

I read the book.

BD_Poster_w_diamond

I will say here and now that a Historical Adventure Romance was not exactly on my radar, even though I have actually written Romance in the past year and am working on revisions and all of that as I get feedback. But still, I’m a guy, right? Romance? And then the cover? I loved the cover but it just looked so . . . so . . . ROMANCE!

 

 

 

Yeah, my bad.

I’m an idiot. I admit it. Think about it. I have written Adventure novels. I have written Romance novels. I have written novels with Historical elements in them, I am a certified History teacher after all. So you would have thought this would have been something I would have read with no problem. Two Pirate Captains meet and the adventure begins and thoughts and worlds begin to be questioned.

 

I mean you have Pirates, Adventure and a lot more, why would I not want to read it?

 

Yeah, my stereotype manly man side peeked out and tried to show itself.

 

I started reading it and right from the start it wasn’t what I had expected. The more I read the more I liked it. Being a former History teacher I definitely enjoyed the history aspects, which were not in your face. They were there for no other reason than a backdrop to enhance the story. That is one thing I appreciated about the novel. Some people make some historical thing THE reason for the book. Not in this one. I’m not saying a historical thing cannot be the point of a book, but it can be over done.

I also appreciated that Bartlett handled the romance scenes with what I think was an eye to all readers. In my own novels, yes novels, the Romance I am doing is a Trilogy, I am concerned about what I call the ‘scenes’, if you know what I mean. Bartlett handled these with taste and oddly, as I think about it, she lets your imagination do a lot of the work.

 Was the book perfect?

There were some passages between face to face scenes that I could have seen just a little shorter as I got farther into the book. As I said in my Amazon Review, I think this might be partly because toward the end of the book I was ready for more of the action and seeing what was going to happen next.

I at first wondered about the character displayed by Ivory Shepard and her cousins. Ivory “Razor” Shepard is the pirate captain of a ship that is attacked and sunk. The aftermath is where we enter the story. Her cousins are also women pirates. But the truth is they could very well be based on actual women pirates that operated in the Caribbean, one of which particularly comes to mind.

Even if there was no historical basis for a female pirate, Bartlett does handle how Ivory becomes captain well. I do wonder about the final action that makes her captaincy possible, but it is a believable and not fantastical idea. It is just something I might have wanted to see handled in a slightly different way, yet I do understand why it happened the way it did.

What did I really like?

I enjoyed the character of Maddox “Blacksnake” Carbonale a lot. He is a slightly typical Romantic Hero lead type, but with a few extra layers of development added. I’m not one for the typical. Bartlett made Carbonale believable in many ways and as the story progresses you understand more and more.

The supporting cast, which in reality is more than that, was developed well and was given enough attention for you to care about them. There were no unnecessary characters thrown in. There are a few surprises along the way that I enjoyed, and one that I caught onto just in time before a reveal. Bartlett definitely can tell a story and give you just enough to tell you all you need to know if you pay attention.

So what’s the score?

I gave The Blue Diamond: The Razor’s Edge 5 out of 5 stars at Amazon. I give it the same here. Why? I didn’t find the scenes overdone or unnecessary. The plot was excellent. The story was great. And it kept me wanting to read. I also liked the balance of the three genre elements. Historical enough to be scenery, Adventure enough to keep me wanting more, and Romance enough to make it believable and real. And one other big reason for a 5-I want to read the next book in the series. And isn’t that a sign of a successful piece of writing?

 

Since this is a ‘family’ member I reviewed and somewhat said there were some improvement areas, I do hope to see you again at LWI. If not, Bartlett knows where she buried the body.

Remember

Read a Book, Write a Review!

I did!

Much Respect

Ron_LWI

 

 

Ronovan

@RonovanWritesfollowmeonbloglovin

2014 © Copyright-All rights reserved by litworldinterviews.wordpress.com

Read a Book, Write a Review.

Read a Book, Write a Review.

That’s my new slogan here at LWI.

What many people don’t realize is, reviews have an impact on Amazon and other sites in how a book might show up and of course the more reviews the better chance of a book being purchased.

I’ll have something more about how to write a good review at another point. But really, just write an honest and helpful review for a possible reader. Write what you would be looking for if you were wanting to know about the book, without giving away the story of course. I had to throw that in there because you know some people might give away all the details.

 

Expect to see “Read a Book, Write a Review” a lot.

Much Respect

Ron_LWI

 

 

 

Ronovanfollowmeonbloglovin

 

 

2014 © Copyright-All rights reserved by litworldinterviews.wordpress.com

One decision can be a life changer: Book Review of The Convenience of Lies by @KCastilloBooks

Title: The Convenience of Lies
Author: Kimberly Castillo
ISBN-13: 978-9527114476
ISBN-10: 9527114470
Website:  http://www.kacastillo.blogspot.com/
Pages: 242
Genre: Young Adult (YA) Romance/Suspense/Drama

It’s 2013 and Mackenzie begins a letter to her old friend Kira. It’s 10 years after the events that changed their lives. The book then begins with new girl in town, Mackenzie and local girl, Kira as best friends forever, and then there is Ramon, a crush and ex-boyfriend in a small California town. The three send us on a trip of real teen life and feelings mixed with some unexpected surprises along the way with a group of vandals and thieves thrown in who make their attacks personal. Who has it in for these three friends?  This story is told in an authentic teenage voice as Mackenzie Fairbanks recalls that particular summer before her senior year in high school.

The book flows well taking the reader  from one chapter to the next. It is an absorbing  read, well written not only in story but in structure and grammar as well. The author conveys vivid emotions and dialogue throughout the book, with captivating prose for example, scenes describing a character’s intoxication and the resulting actions that are spot on. I like the fact you don’t notice the writing. You are in the story and there are no odd moments where you wonder what is that word doing there.

The emotional content within the book is realistic and appropriate as scenes transition well.  The emotional jolt near the end is handled exactly right, as one would expect such a situation to be in real life. The emotional moments throughout the book are presented in an amazingly genuine teen/coming of age point of view.

The story keeps ones attention and you want to see what happens and to whom.

Was I surprised by events in the book? Not entirely as the author provided sufficient clues for the discerning reader to figure things out.

Just to let those who might purchase this as a gift without reading it first, there is some profanity used, but we are talking about teens. Some teens of certain environments grow up using certain language while others do it to be cool. I believe the author handled this well as she doesn’t have every character do it, an excellent job in my opinion. And to be honest, if there hadn’t been any profanity it would not have been an authentic book.

You are inside the main characters head a lot, but that’s to be expected in the type of story being told. This is a diary type of story. The only time I really had any problems with it was in the very beginning where things were being set up for us to know what is going on. Once past that first chapter or two of setting things up, the story takes off and you are ready to go.

Reading The Convenience of Lies shows you what is possible inside the life of teens. And I do mean what is truly possible. Having been a teacher and youth pastor I know what can happen. The reader will identify or recognize the struggles teenagers encounter in their world, how they perceive themselves, and that lessons have to be learned in their own time no matter how painful they may be or who they may hurt. Do you lose a best friend, a crush, a dream?

Read The Convenience of Lies by Kimberly Castillo and experience a slice of teenagers’ world through what happens to Mackenzie and her friends.

The elements about where McKenzie is as an adult and how she got to that point are things you need to think about as you read the book. The Convenience of Lies is more than you think if  you know what to look for going in.

If I were to categorize the book it would be difficult to say. Young Adult? Yes. Marital Issues? Yes. Although not a category. Domestic Abuse? Yes. That can be defined in many different ways so don’t jump to a conclusion there.

Ratings:

Realistic Characterization: 5K.A. Castillo/5

Made Me Think: 3.5/5

Overall enjoyment: 3.5/5

Readability: 4/5

Recommended: 4/5

Ovearall Rating: 4

Buy it at: Amazon

Format & Pricing:

Paperback: 10.46 USD

Kindle: 2.99 USD

Author Kimberly Castillo

kimberly_castillo_author.jpgFollow on Twitter

 

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