I was talking to some friends on Facebook, many of them are reviewers and one or two are just coming into the reviewing world and hearing how daunting it is to put their views on books out there for others to read and pick apart. I have to agree it can be hugely nerve-wracking especially if like myself you jump into the whole blogging thing head first. Which got me thinking that there really isn’t that much information out there for new reviewers, I basically learnt everything I know on my own, it was trial and error and still is! Literally I just jump in and try it, but for those that aren’t as – shall I say; bonkers? – as me, I thought I would share my experience as a reviewer, my thoughts and some tips that I have picked up along the way.
I didn’t find writing and posting the reviews the daunting part of the reviewing process it was sharing them on social media, and still is. I was very reluctant to set up accounts on Twitter and Facebook, in fact it took nearly a year for me to create my Facebook page. I don’t know why, I suspect that it was the thought of putting myself out there and actually socializing with the incredible authors and bloggers. Even now, nearly three years in, I still find sharing my reviews on Facebook quite an intimidating process, there is no reasoning for it. Maybe it’s because I know that once it’s on these huge social sites that the very authors who I have written the reviews for are actually going to see it, yes that is a nail-biting moment and a very liberating one too, as all that hard work you have put into that review is now out there.
What I have learnt though is that as long as you are honest in the reviews and don’t rip the books apart just because you have the power to do so, then authors are really kind about what you have written and hugely supportive. You will soon find that as an honest and respectful reviewer you will start to have authors keep coming back asking you to review their work. I still feel a flush of pride and I feel very humbled that these incredible people reach out to me every time they have a book to be released and now 99% of them have become good friends – but that doesn’t mean that I tailor my reviews to say what they want it to say. No, I am honest to a fault and if there is something I didn’t like, then I will say so.
The authors I have found are hugely supportive of the blogs/reviewers they always go above and beyond to support you, and as if there is something you wish to discuss about the book you are reading or have read I know that they love to chat about it. For example, if you have questions about certain aspects of the book, or something really resonates with you I know they love to hear that feedback. I can definitely recommend chatting with them and asking questions about the book!
- You don’t need a blog to review! – If you’re just starting out don’t feel that you follow everyone and start blogging. A lot of people are just not comfortable with the whole setting up a website and blogging and not having one does not mean that you aren’t a valued member of the reviewing community, because you are! Reviews come in all shapes and sizes. You can review on Goodreads or Amazon only if you wish, post on Facebook or even send an email/letter to the author with what you think of the book. Whatever you’re comfortable with!
- Don’t copy what other reviewers are saying! – That really is the most important tip I can share. YOU have read the book, these are YOUR opinions and thoughts, just because you agree with what friends are saying doesn’t mean you should copy it. Write what YOU think, even if it’s just “This book was brilliant” they are your thoughts and it’s those that are important.
- Don’t rip the books and authors apart! – This is so important! Authors go through a lot to get their work from the imagination to the actual book in your hand and they don’t deserve to be hurt and treated with contempt. Authors are people with feelings and in any other work place nastiness wouldn’t be accepted, so be respectful even if you didn’t enjoy the book, be honest yes, but don’t be hurtful.
- Join groups and follow other reviewers! – This has been by far the best part of reviewing for me, I have met some incredible reviewers, reviewers who have become very good friends. Start off by following other blogs, 99% of all blogs you can follow them by your email they are treasure trove and not to be missed. If you’re on Goodreads start following and friending authors and reviewers, you can chat and comment on their reviews. If you’re on Facebook I can highly recommend joining a group, depending on what genre you read there will be a group for you, a lot of authors have their own groups and street teams so that is worth looking into. I highly recommend The Unlaced Book Club!
- Have fun! – Reviewing is fun, it’s a way to express yourself. Reviewing is not supposed to stressful it’s a wonderful experience, so don’t stress about how long or short a review should be, as I said above it’s what YOU think that matters. Don’t feel pressured to accept a review request just because an author is offering you a free book, if you don’t think you can review it, if it’s not your style or for whatever reason you just don’t want to read that book, then say so.
What every reason you choose to start reviewing, remember that above all you are doing this FOR YOU! I find reviewing hugely liberating, in a world where real life is structured and at times trying and complex, there is hardships and at times struggles. But being able to sit down and share my thoughts to the world has at times really kept me grounded and it keeps me focused on what I need to do in my real life.
Reviewing is fun, it gives me the chance to be creative with words and above all I get to read some incredible books, meet some equally incredible people. It is something that I cannot recommend enough, it is a pure joy and something that I can see myself doing for years to come.
I hope my few tips have been useful in some way, have fun and good luck!
I have decided that I am going to start a new series of guest post’s, it’s called “Nothing but Romance” and it is going to be exactly that, an whole range of posts about Romance. Romance itself is such a diverse topic it can cover so many different angles, and you can enjoy romance in so many different forms everything from reading, listening to music and watching films and TV shows. Then there is how romance makes us feel and how romance is so important to have just a sprinkle of romance in our lives. We really don’t celebrate and talk about romance enough, and how it can be so beneficial for us so this is what my Nothing but Romance series is about.
So ‘Nothing but Romance’ is open for all that love Romance and you are a Reader/Reviewer or Author then this is open for you. All posts will be added to the Nothing but Romance page, for everyone to read and enjoy and maybe be inspired by.
The Guidelines – or lack of them!
- You must be a Reader/Reviewer or Writer (or apart of that community, in someway) with an interest in Romance.
- The post must be about Romance – here are just a few examples; Why you read/write romance, Why romance is important for us, What we can learn from romance, What we do to keep romance alive….You get the idea, but it’s up to you.
- Along side your post, I will add a little spotlight on you so this will be a bit of a bio about who you are, links to where people can follow your review/learn about your work and profile picture – just so people can see who you are. (If you could provide these, that would be great)
- The post will be yours to write about what ever you like about romance – yes, I am giving you free reign – as long as it’s not disrespectful, derogatory or abusive and if I feel it is, your post WILL NOT BE POSTED!!
- I will read everything before posting, so nothing will get past me!
If you are an author and you are interested in participating in this new series, you are all welcome. You don’t have to have already been featured on Chicks, Rogues and Scandals to participate, as this new venture isn’t associated with my reviewing.
If you are interested in me reviewing your work then please read my Reviewing Policy first.
I am really excited about how this new project is going to go and what I am going to learn from it, my aim is to have a post out a month dependant on how many requests I get.
It’s that time of year again where I look back through the year and pick out my favourite books that I have featured on Chicks, Rogues and Scandals, it has been especially hard this time to pick my favourite’s as this year has been full of the most amazing books you can imagine. I have found new author’s that are now go to authors for their genre, new style books and series’ it has been an amazing year of reading. I have ditched my usual formula of best Hero/Heroine/Plot but I have still got a book of the Year – right at the bottom of the post. There are others books that I have loved this year, but if I kept adding books it would end up being my top 50 – I have already added more then I intended, as I only intended on doing my top ten, but there were some books that I couldn’t possibly leave off. So, in no particular order here are my favourite Books of 2017 followed by my Book of the Year!
14 Best Books of the Year; 2017
Echo in the Wind by Regan Walker
Echo in the Wind is a beautifully written story, its thrilling and exciting but yet the love story is so tender. Jeán Donèt really steals every scene he is featured in. He is a hero who can make any woman swoon with just a smouldering look, he is an enigmatic and suave individual who has a breath-taking Gaelic confidence and charisma. A heroine, who is not a wilting wallflower she is a vibrant and strong-willed, independent woman who has her own beliefs and views on the world and she isn’t afraid of voicing them. Together these two are a force to be reckoned with, but they compliment each other too. There isn’t anything about this that I don’t like!
The Viking Warriors Bride by Harper St George
This is so sexually charged, the chemistry between Vidar and Gwendolyn is red hot, any hotter and your eyes would smoke with just reading it, they are made of the same stuff. I love when they start getting to know each other, there is a real spark between them and the respect he shows her is sweet and uplifting. As always the writing is strong and articulated as we have come to expect from St. George. When I read an historical I like the historic detailing within the story and St George doesn’t disappoint, she has got it all spot on, everything is crystalized and explained to a high degree from the smells of our characters to the actual Viking marriage ceremony – which I found absolutely enchanting, the trading of the swords is a beautiful ritual.
Angel Comes to the Devils Keep by Regina Jeffers
This is highly enjoyable read, the romance between Angelica and Hunt simmers and sizzles nicely, Ms Jeffers has done a lovely job at building up their relationship from when Hunt gets injured right to the end, you never know in which direction their story is going to take as there is so much that stands in their way. Yet, that connection that they share, that Hunt has especially, is tender and loving and at times you are just as agonised as he is. I really like how Jeffers has mixes a romance novel with a murder, kidnapping an espionage thriller, I found it exciting, romantic and one that I highly recommend.
The Unexpected Countess by Laurie Benson
This is great read, there is the perfect amount of romance and adventure with a huge, fabulous twist that is so unexpected. The Unexpected Countess is a huge success, a thrilling jaunt with an original plot. It is just so good! Benson has really out done herself with Hart and Sarah she has done such a great job with them, especially Hart who is a seriously great man to get to know I like Benson’s work her fun and charming personality just oozes off the page. But what I particularly like about her writing is that you get a real feeling of a writer who loves what she does, she puts her heart and soul into her work, her warmth is so palpable, her work is comforting as well as thrilling which I find so rare.
The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews
Now I loved this book, I do love my heroes to be trouble and vulnerable and wanting a strong women to help them back to happiness and this is just that, this is truly breath-taking and I loved every single moment of it, the plot is gorgeously written. The simplicity of the story is what gives it real back bone, there isn’t twists turns at every corner so you lose track of the initial story. The Lost Letter is a beautiful, romantic and emotionally shattering, as the writing is so well-defined that you feel every emotion and I just love it to bits. For me this is one of those books that you keep on the bookshelf for ever, you will read and re-read it and you will never tire of Sylvia and Sebastian’s love story.
Besieged and Betrothed by Jenni Fletcher
What a terrific read, I will apologise for the amount of gushing I will most likely be doing about this book, but I have so much to say about it. Jenni Fletcher has real out done herself with this, it is such a compelling and highly charged romance that grips you from that very first page where our bulking, tank of a hero spots the fiery haired, tomboy on the battlements. I was literally hooked, and I was eager to finish and yet when I did turn the last page it was a sobering moment as that was it, done. I could’ve read this again as soon as I had finished. It’s fun, witty and at times heart-breaking, and fabulously engrossing. I just love it.
The Lions Embrace by Marie Laval
The Lions Embrace follows on from Angel Heart in the last book we met Marie-Ange and Hugo Saintclair who are the parents of our hero in this one; Lucas Saintclair and oh, my word what a man! He is simply delectable! Lava’s talent at entwining history of area and the cultures and languages, with a thrilling game of cat and mouse plus the tantalizing love story is faultless. She sprinkles The Lions Embrace with her customary Gaelic charm and she enhances your reading with detailing the sights, aromas and culture of each area we visit during the book and it enhances the reading experience. You become transported to this hot, dusty and dangerous place and it is utterly exhilarating.
The Knights Scarred Maiden by Nicole Locke
I love this, this is absolutely superb! It sticks with you and gets under your skin, but in a very good way you become absorbed in their dark and dangerous world. I have read Historical Romances that has stuck with me long after finishing the book, but this is right up there with some of the best books I have read. It’s beautiful, heart wrenching and you get tingles while reading it. I do genuinely love this book, the plot is fast, complex and thrilling. Rhain and Helissent take you on this sensual, nerve wrecking journey as they find their feet and try to survive and move on with their lives.
The Last Gamble by Anabelle Bryant
This is the third instalment of “The Bastards of London Series” and I do think this is the best one yet. I have been really looking forward to reading this one, after meeting the dark and shadowy Luke Reece in the previous book’s he intrigued me. I wanted to know his story, his past and what in the hell his happening with his lost son and Bryant doesn’t disappoint. This series caught my attention from day one and it’s gone from strength to strength, Bryant has yet again created an entertaining, thrilling and sensuously attractive story. The thing that does set this one apart from the others has to be Luke, we have had snippets of this shadowy man’s turmoil in the previous two books “The Den of Iniquity” and “Into The Hall of Vice” and to finally get to see his story unfold and see his Happy Ever After is very satisfying
No Rest for the Wicked by Cora Lee
No Rest For The Wicked is apart of the “Heart of a Hero” series and it is a series I am looking forward to reading more of. The chemistry between out estranged couple is heated, the tension just ripples as well as the distrust for each other. This is fast, fun and exciting a fabulous read. I do really like this, it is smart, sexy and so well written but the more than that it makes you think. It is really lovely watching as these two get to know each other all over again and as their defences lower and they get closer and closer. They are both very reluctant to reveal their hearts, so it’s quite sweet when they finally do.
lord Hunter’s Cinderella Heiress by Lara Temple
This is book one in this new series; The Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies Series by the highly talented Lara Temple, and one that I have been looking forward to reading. But nothing prepared me for the huge emotion that surges through you as you read it. I know that Temple has said that this series is her baby, this is a personal story for her and you can really understand as you are reading it just how much of herself she has put into this. I have always liked her work but this really resonates with me, this touched a cord with me more than any other book I have read before, you can feel Temple’s heart and soul running through this, it is very emotional and it packs a real punch and it stays with you long after the last page.
The Crown Spire by Catherine Curzon & Willow Winsham
On first meeting their highway men our ladies fall for their irresistable and roguish charm in a heartbeat, not unsurprising really! They are saved and taken to an inn where they meet the cheeky, charming Innkeeper Ed Hogan and the shy, gentlemanly Doctor James Dillingham. There is something irresistable and provoking about these two handsome Scotsmen, not to mention something very familiar, could it be that Alice and Beth may have met these two rogues before? I love this, the chemistry between both our couples is rich and sensual and very sexy, like all Historical Romance fan’s I do particularly like a good rogue and The Crown spire doesn’t disappoint, in fact we are spoilt as there are two highway men to get to know and adore. It’s going into the super market and getting a two for one deal. Curzon and Winsham have created two strong and charming heroes, that you are bound to fall for.
A Warriner to Rescue Her by Virginia Heath
Ms Snow is was a new to me author and I can say this is simply stunning, there is pure and honest anguish which oozes of the page, It’s raw and immensely real to the era and really shows what life in the Victorian era was like for regular, working-class people. It’s so realistic, it’s like you are in the work house and mill alongside Emma, and you are experiencing her turmoil and suffering. It is gloriously detailed and graphic, some may think that for a historical romance it is too graphic of their suffering, but for me that is what makes an historical. This is how they should be, it has real meat on the bone. I can absolutely say for certain that Ms Snow is going to go very far in this genre, her way with language and fact is mesmerizing. If you’re like me and you like grittier, brutally honest and very real historical where the romance is hard fought for genuinely deserved, than this is the book for you.
So Chicks, Rogues and Scandals all time Book of the Year, 2017 is…
The Captains Disgraced Lady by Catherine Tinley
Tinley has captured the mixed emotions of Waterloo war is mesmerizing. You feel the sadness and despondency of the men and the civilians. Those chapters that cover the battle are superb, the detailing of what was going on and how everyone was coping and the actual battle scenes where Harry is in hand to hand combat is brutal and engrossing. This is atmospheric and so beautifully written and from reading this, I do think Tinley has a gift for capturing those little nuances in human thought and feeling and placing on the page. I had been looking forward to this story and it was so much more than I expected, you’ve probably guessed by my gushing how much I love this book and that I cannot recommend this enough, this is a must read! If you like your charming yet fragile heroes, feisty independent heroines all brought together with a stonking good plot and tied off with some beautiful romantic scenes and moments then this is the book for you.
So there you have my favourite books of 2017, have you read any of them and if so what you think? I’d love to know what your favourite’s have been from the past year.