Monthly Archives: March 2013

Friday’s Internet Goodies: The Secret Life of Books Reviews

InternetGoodiesLucy has loved reading all her life. Here is how she describes herself:
I like most genres but I love romance! I’ll be reviewing books, stalking other blogs and taking part in weekly memes which I recently discovered and thoroughly enjoy! Let me know if you’re hosting any that you think I’d be interested in and I’ll check it out 🙂
Lucy’s blog The Secret Life of Books Reviews has a review policy. Here it is:

After being asked to review a book by the author I thought I better set up a Review Policy! I just want to point out that I am not a professional reviewer or writer. I just review books because I love to read and to discover new books. The review will be based on my own personal thoughts and interpretations of the book. I promise to write an honest review including what I liked or disliked about the book. While I do discuss certain aspects of a story that I didn’t like, I never write overly critical reviews. I don’t like to upset an author by trashing something they love. If I really don’t like a book I would prefer to not post a review.

ForgottenBookmarksEach review will have the following components: Photo of the Book Cover, Title, Author, Type of Book, Release Date (if applicable), Summary of the Book, My Personal Review of the Book, A Rating on a 1-5 scale.

The type of books that Lucy likes to review are: Adult Fiction, Romance, Paranormal Romance, Historical Romance,
Erotica, Young Adult, Fantasy, Humorous.

To find Lucy’s site, point your browser at:


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BLOOD & ROSES by Helen Castor

Blood&RosesHardbackBlood&RosePaperbackIf you want a vivid portrayal of England during the Wars of the Roses, you should read this book.

Helen Castor has done a wonderful job of putting the Paston Letters into context, both historical and familial, so that in reading this book it is not only clear what is happening in England during the struggle between various noble families and the King of England, but how this impacted people like the Pastons, who were powerless when England degenerated into chaos, and greedy neighbors seized their lands.

In this readable book, you will meet the Pastons, and enjoy learning about their exploits as their vivid personalities dance off the page. Highly recommended. Five Stars. A bookclub recommendation.

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Monday Craft Tips #10: How much should you write a day?

Many writers recommend that you complete a certain number of words each day to get to the goal of finishing your novel.

I am sure this advice works for many people, but strangely enough it doesn’t work for me.

Instead, I try to carve out two to three hours each day to focus on my writing by using a timer or my iphone. I input the number of hours, set it on my desk, and start working.

I don’t predetermine exactly how much of the manuscript I’m going to cover, because that just seems to focus on quantity at the expense of quality.Instead, I do my time and then stop, knowing that I have really focused on trying to make the novel better.

Do you have any writing tips you’d care to share? If so, feel free to drop a comment in the box below. And have a great week!

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Friday’s Internet Goodies: Books Like Breathing

InternetGoodiesGrace is  25 years old and lives in NYC. She has a Bachelor’s in History and Women and Gender Studies from Pace University and a Master’s in Information and Library Science from Pratt Institute. She describes herself as a “fairly voracious” reader, and hopes eventually to find a job in the publishing industry as an editor or a publicist. Here is the rest of what she has to say about herself:

Most of my “fun” classes in undergrad were English Literature classes. I will read just about anything but I lean more towards romance (all forms…regencies, contemporary, highlander, paranormal, anything…) and YA. I tend to avoid science fiction and mysteries unless it is a very unique book or of particular interest to me. My favorite author of all time is Jane Austen. Her books are my salvation. I read them over and over again. I also love Jane Austen sequels. I have over 100 in my bookshelves and they will all be reviewed here eventually.

Grace accepts  review requests of both print and e-books:

I do accept a very limited number of self-published titles mainly of the romance persuasion. Preference is always given to books in my preferred genres. as well as to authors and publishers I love and have worked with before.
BooksLikeBreathingGrace’s preferred genres are: Romance, especially
  • Historical (esp. Regencies, Highlander, Victorian, Irish, Pirate…anything really)
  • Contemporary
  • Western
  • Paranormal
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Steampunk-Just read my first one and…so good.
  • I have a particular love for romances with particularly bad rakes and rogues. The badder the better.

She also likes:

  • Young Adult (mainly paranormal romance)
  • Historical Fiction (limited)
  • Contemporary Fiction
  • Horror(limited)
  • Memoirs/Biography (limited)
  • Chick Lit
  • Cookbooks especially about desserts—I am a baker and will bake and review a recipe from the book with photos.

Grace doesn’t accept:

  • Science fiction
  • Self-help
  • Any type of religious or political book
  • Mysteries or Thrillers
  • Straight fantasy
  • anything “mob” related. It’s just not my schtick and quite frankly, as an Italian-American, I find most of it offensive.

BooksLikeBreathingThe most striking thing about her very detailed policy on books she reviews came in the form of a special note about self-published and Indie authors. Here is what she says:

Note about Self-Published and Indie Authors– I used to review these books as often as traditionally published books but now, given the rather hostile climate, I will accept a very VERY limited amount of self-published books for review because I am not ready to close that door completely…yet. I will accept books within my genres of preference only–there are no exceptions to this. I will also be more cautious about the authors I do accept. The books I currently have will be reviewed. I am just not willing to take the risk of being attacked if I don’t like a book or don’t get to it quick enough. This is a hobby and it should be a fun one but some authors seem to forget that.

It’s too bad that some self-published and indie authors have soiled the nest for the rest of us who are struggling to promote our own books. People who write books should always remember that their work is for public consumption, and be prepared for a certain number of people who are just not going to like what we write. That is life. We all have to accept it, be polite about it, and move on.
To find Grace’s site, point your browser to:

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1938 – HITLER’S GAMBLE by Giles MacDonogh

1938_Hitlers_GambleGiles MacDonogh’s book 1938: HITLER’S GAMBLE was an interesting eye-opening book, which focuses on what happened in Austria to the Viennese Jews after the Anschluss. I found this book interesting precisely because the typical treatment of this material is to focus on what was going on in Berlin, London, Paris and Washington. Mr. MacDonogh makes vivid the plight of the Austrian Jews, who were singled out for bad treatment within days of the Anschluss. Through his vivid writing, I could see myself queueing up for my papers, going from one line to another, only to be turned away because the quotas allowed for Jews to enter other countries was pitifully small.


I cannot imagine how heartbreaking it must have been, both for the Jews who were pleading to be let out of Austria, and the bureaucrats who were forced to turn them down. I highly recommend this book to those of you who are interested primarily in what happened to the Viennese Jews in 1938. Five stars. A bookclub recommendation.

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Monday Craft Tips #9: How to create a rounded character

Did you know that the best way to create a WellRoundedCharacterwell-rounded character is to vary the status of that character from scene to scene? In some scenes give your character a more dominant role, where they call the shots. In other scenes, give that character a role where they have to kow-tow to someone higher up in the pecking order.

Each minor character is in the story to bring out different traits of the main characters. Dimensionality, depth and complexity are all brought out by showing subtle shifts in your character’s status as he interacts with the other players.

Readers will bond with protagonists who have flaws, and so you can show that by putting them in these different situations, where they have to negotiate this dominance issue, and seeing how they react.

Lastly, watch your choice of words. Do NOT have your protagonist quiver, shriek, screech or do anything that conveys a lower status than the antagonist or villain.

As your story builds toward its climax, the status of both your hero and your villain will also rise. Status has more to do with actions than motives, so even though the hero and villain have completely different agendas, you can raise the status of either one by giving him more self-control, courage or determination.

Stillness is power, so if you need to make your villain more imposing, try slowing him down. Show readers that he’s in no hurry to commit his evil deed—he has such high status that he can walk slowly and still catch that person who is trying to escape.

Villains become less frightening when they’re self-congratulatory or cocky. If a villain needs to prove himself, he becomes insecure and his status is lowered. Sadistic, chortling, hand-wringing villains aren’t nearly as unnerving as calm, relentless ones. Finally, let your protagonist enter the final showdown at a disadvantage, because an underdog who overcomes impossible odds is a hero we can believe in.

Have a wonderful week!


Image is taken from

This piece first appeared in the September newsletter. If you would like to read more such tips, or hear about how my progress on THWARTED QUEEN is going, please sign up for the newsletter by clicking on the appropriate link to the right.

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Friday’s Internet Goodies: Livin’ Life Through Books

InternetGoodiesFelicia is passionate about every thing in life. Here is how she describes herself:

I enjoy reading, mostly YA books, and I love listening to music. I am always trying to find the latest adventure, something new and unique, and something that will change my point of view. Books and music rule my life.

I initially started this blog to start a reading challenge from a different blog I followed that required to have a way to view the reviews. I loved reading and I loved writing, and what better way to combine the two? At first, this blog was just for me, and I never dreamed that anyone would be interested in what I had to say about books. Then the comments started flowing in and the followers started piling on, I thought, ‘Wow! How awesome!’ I’ve seen other blogs, and never thought I could be a book review blogger. But then, the requests started coming in, and I was ecstatic!

Reading and reviewing books is just a hobby that I love and wouldn’t have an awesome group of friends with a great community if it weren’t for the authors and publishers. I love writing and hope to actually complete a novel one day, but that’s a long ways off! If you have the time, feel free to leave a comment, and am always looking forward to hearing your thoughts. 🙂

*In no way do I claim to be a professional book review blogger. This is a hobby for me, and I am not paid in any way except for the books provided from authors and publishers. This also does not sway my opinion of the book. My reviews are all honest, and my own. Thank you.

LivinLifeThroughBooksFelicia is most interested in reading young adults novels, specifically those that are paranormal, horror/ghost stories, romance, dystopian, thriller, contemporary, or psychological. To view her site, point your browser to:

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THE YORKIST AGE by Paul Murray Kendall

TheYorkistAgePaul Murray Kendall’s THE YORKIST AGE is an extremely well-researched book that involves a close reading of the Paston letters as well as wonderful nuggets about food, cleanliness, German traders and various festivals. However, it should be noted that it was first published in 1962, and so much of his incomparable scholarship has been superseded by fifty years of research on this period.


However, if you want a vivid and readable account of England in the years between 1461 and 1485, this would be a good book to start with, beforeCopper-alloy_boar_mount_from_the_Thames_foreshore_(London) going on to read more modern treatments. Four stars.

Images: Dunstable Swan (left) Richard III’s boar (right), livery badges both made in 1400s.TheDunstableSwan

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Monday Craft Tips #8: How to teach your readers without boring them to tears

Have you ever had that feeling that you’re learning an enormous amount about something, but the information is presented so transparently that you hardly notice it?

This is something that many authors aim to do, tell their readers something interesting but in a way that makes it not painful to read. This is particularly true of historical novelists who have to cram massive amounts of historical details into their novels for verisimilitude’s sake, without making it read like a history book.

So how do authors do it? By wedging little pieces of information into the dialogue, like a sandwich. Think of it this way: dialogue, a sliver of information, then more dialogue.

What this means, dear historical novelist, is that most of that hard-won research has to be tossed, or the reader will become bored. But if your goal is to make your novels easy to read (as well as interesting and provocative) then that is what you have to do.

Just another gem I thought I’d pass along to all of you. Have a fabulous week!


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Friday’s Internet Goodies: The Canary Review

InternetGoodiesThe Canary Review is not just a review blog. The people who run it also provide editing services for a fee. They also provide craft tips on Fridays in their “Pitch Slap” series. So what you get with this site is a more professional take on the books they read, if that is what you are looking for.

The tagline to the site is: “We read it so you might not have to”, thus this is NOT a book promotion site. On the other hand, the reviewers do accept submissions from Indie authors as well as those publishing books via legacy publishers.

canarylogo21The Canary Review is most interested in receiving books that are YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, or Romance. They are no longer accepting Literary Fiction or Nonfiction.

To find their site, point your browser to:

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