An author’s take on reviews

Bad Reviews: Do they make or break authors? I’ve recently come across a number of posts by authors on social media feeling hurt by negative reviews. The temptation is to want to hit back, have the reviews removed (not going to happen), or be reassured by others that the reviewer is the enemy which is not the case.  When I received my first one-star review, like so many authors before me, I was devastated. How can someone dismiss my work out of hand when it took months and months to create something decent enough to put out there? It turns out, quite easily in fact because mostly it’s not personal. It was amazing how, in spite of loads of positive reviews, all I could see was that one-star - I read it over and over - it was almost like self-mutilation. Many authors respond in the same way because we are seemingly programmed to focus on the negatives! I have since realised that bad reviews are quite acceptable and the one and two star reviewer is entitled to his/her opinion, after all that’s what the review process is all about. Not only that, but when I got things in perspective, I realised I had arrived as an author. Every author has one-star reviews at some point. The reality is that not everyone is going to like your book. Once an author puts their work out there, its in the public domain and someone, somewhere is not going to like it. Some reviewers will be just plain rude about it.  Since that first low star review, I have developed a thicker skin in terms of reviews but if the reviewer offers any useful nuggets of information as to why they didn’t like the book rather than comments like, ‘utter drivel’, I will…

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The Mitford Murders Review

The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes Having picked this one up at the Derby Book Festival where the author was speaking, I have to say that I loved it, particularly as I like historical fiction and a good cosy murder mystery. There is plenty of content to keep you interested as the story progresses introducing different characters along the way. The setting in the early 1920s, I felt was well researched and the effects that the Great war had on ex soldiers and nurses who were subjected to at that time was true to life. I liked the mix of fact and fiction and how the author brought in the true horrific murder of a war nurse, Florence Nightingale Shore, a murder that took place on a train and one that was never solved. I confess, I knew nothing about the Mitford family, except the link to Chatsworth House of one of them, but am intrigued now to know more about them and the controversy surrounding the family. The story of this book centres mainly around the oldest Mitford sister, Nancy. I also enjoyed the insight into the upstairs, downstairs life of the family which is interesting and continues in the vein of Downton Abbey from that perspective. The main protagonist, Louisa was plausible and her background believable as that of a young woman brought up in poverty during the era. Her love interest, Guy is also a likeable character whose tenacity to solve the murder of the nurse is admirable. I liked the plot and the introduction of red herrings at various points throughout the book that kept one guessing. It wasn't until nearer the end that I guessed whodunnit! I liked the writing style and the humour that was interspersed at various intervals. I would highly recommend it if…

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Book Review Sally

Sally, J. Schlenker Review of Sally by Dawn Brookes 8th April 2018 Although this is written as a novel, it is actually semi-biographical. The author found gaps in the story of this extraordinary lady and opted to fill these gaps with fictional accounts. It is a very interesting piece of family history and American history. Recent interest in family DNA makes the book relevant to now. You have to admire Sally who was born a slave in hard times and the way she deals with abuse and the attitudes of the time. Slaves were treated as white mans property and as such the women often gave birth to mixed race children. This was the case for Sally and her ancestors were surprised to discover that their genealogy went back to this era. I enjoyed this book and it provided an uncomfortable but valuable insight into the darker sides of history. The book was written from two points of view and I found the time changes and perspectives a little bit confusing at times but they were, nevertheless useful perspectives. I was not familiar with this period in American history but it was brought to life through this incredible woman who lived to be 110 which is amazing in itself considering the time she was born into.

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