In mid-March, I found myself musing about reviews and reviewers. The situation stays much the same: authors need reactions from their readers to thrive. Not just to sell books, but also to know that they’ve been heard (or read). We can’t function in a vacuum. I can’t stress this enough.
It doesn’t take much to post a review. If you read and like a book, it could be essentially natural to acknowledge the fact. If, on the other hand, you didn’t appreciate it, writing about your frustration or anger could be a way to disperse the feeling. Maybe it could give you another insight into what you just read. Why not try it?
Authors would love you for it. A review isn’t a scientific dissertation. It doesn’t have to be long or thorough. But it is an opportunity to say thank-you for an enjoyable time — or point out exactly what marred your experience with the book.
Below, I’ve collected another batch of reviews — in no particular order — for illustration and to give my fellow authors a small boost.
Jenny Ensor, Blind Side
Blind Side is a compelling read.
The plot is tight, and the characters well presented. Jenny Ensor’s debut is well written, intriguing and doesn’t allow the reader to stop until he or she reaches the end.
The love story is gritty and utterly convincing. It is fascinating to follow the main protagonist’s struggle with reality, as well as people, she believes to know. Ensor explores a challenging war situation through the Russian hero. His military persona is balanced with his musicianship, and his determination to survive with his ugly dreams. I especially liked the villain of the piece: top marks for creepiness.
Susan Finlay, The Outsiders: In the Shadows
In the Shadows delivers what readers of cosy mysteries have come to expect. What interests me, personally, is that the main character could be guilty. I almost hoped for that twist, although I realize that it would be going outside the parameter for mystery novels. Susan Findley is a confident author and takes her readers into her universe with believable characters.
RL Sanderson, The Dying Flame
YA fantasy at its best?
A nightmare sets the scene for The Dying Flame. RL Sanderson stirs a witches’ cauldron of forbidden magic, outcast peoples, Mind reading, and its consequences. A priesthood with a strong resemblance to the inquisition holds the reins and suppresses freedom of thought.
The protagonist, Orla, is catapulted out of her comfort zone. In the beginning, she sets out to rescue a beloved sister, but it turns out that her quest will send her further from home and her normal life than she bargained for. Orla is likeable but has everything to learn. The plot is full of action, but one can discuss if there’s a real end to the book. Clearly, as the first part of a series, that’s a strong inducement to wait for the sequel. An enjoyable read.
Rosalind Minett, Intrusion
A boy’s take on the time before and during the first period of WWII
Minett writes a believable boy. Also, a likeable boy. His best character features come to the fore, as life becomes complex. Whether bombs fall, or he must go into provisional billeting, he keeps his ideals and dreams. The narrative moves through London in the pre-war period and beyond, but to get the complete picture one would have to read the entire series. I should certainly like to.
K O’Rourke: A long Thaw
A Thoughtful Narrative
Multiple POW can be difficult to control, but O’Rourke handles it with confidence. A Long Thaw is a narrative about families, about secrets and lies, about guilt and forgiveness. It is a thoughtful presentation of the difficulties every individual can encounter, growing and ripening. I admire the author for her delving into this sensitive area. Recommended as a challenging and ambitious book.
Angelica Rust, The Girl on the Red Pillow
An amazing story dealing with mental challenges
The Girl on the Red Pillow is a rollercoaster read, masterfully set in scene by A Rust. Her inventiveness in confronting the reader with a troubled mind makes the narrative immediate and touching. The story-line is split in two, the main events interspersed with flashbacks, that slowly uncover the true horror confronting the protagonist. A thought-provoking book I can’t recommend enough.
Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I enjoyed it, but I may have read better books. The narrative is built around old and — weird photos, which must have taken time and effort to get together. It has fantastical elements and the narrative has surprising twist and turns. I can’t point out what detracts from its merit. Maybe it is just a sensation of unease that inevitably emerges from a horror story. Is it fair to call it a horror story? (It isn’t normally a genre that attracts me. Anyway, who cares about the genre?) With all this in mind, I must add that there were unexpected moments of beauty and romance, which were deeply touching. All in all, I go along with the concept. The idea is brilliant, and the plot is convincing. Would I read the sequel? I believe I would.
Patrick W Andersen, Second Born
A Different Take on the New Testament?
I can’t say exactly why I found this book difficult to get hooked on. It had all the elements of a sword and sandals narrative. The characters were vivid, the language appealing, and yet I felt aloof. Perhaps it was because I couldn’t get my head around the family setup. You don’t expect Jesus of Nazareth to have an extended family, or indeed, that he partly recruited his followers among his brothers. With James, the eldest brother, being the righteous one — and Jesus the troublemaker, I found myself questioning who the main protagonist was. I kept wondering when the plot would start to take shape. Not that nothing happened: there was action galore. But, it felt like scene setting and back-story for a long time. I suppose the fact that I read on, speaks for the quality of the writing. Eventually, things became clearer and the plot — thickened — about halfway through. Maybe I was at fault, for having faulty expectations. Andersen knows his stuff. He is an apt narrator, but I had trouble with this one. The four stars reflect Anderson’s prose.
© HMH, 2018