Tag Archives: reviews

Life is full of challenges

… And I’ve found a new one.

Having enjoyed my Alphabet Challenge tremendously, I’ve found myself a new challenge to keep me focused on my reading for the next twelve weeks.

Today marks the start of my Shattered Worlds challenge. My new book, The Clockwork War, is one of the YA novels in Shattered Worlds, which became a USA Today bestseller last week (yippee!). The collection will be exclusive to Amazon (and Kindle Unlimited) for the next ninety days, and I’ve set myself the challenge of reading and reviewing one of the books each week that it’s out.

(Please note, I’ll be reviewing here and on the Paisley Piranha blog, not on Amazon itself, because I’m a contributing author to the set and impartiality and terms and conditions, blah, blah.)

I have already read one of the other stories. I started with Cortney Pearson’s The Perilous In-Between, because that was the other steampunk story in the collection and I wanted to read her take on the genre. Check out my review on the Paisley Piranha blog, but in short: it’s deliciously glorious.

So, I’m moving on to the apocalypse. Check back next week to see what I’ve made of Rebecca Rode’s Richard’s Story.

My free reading challenge: I bought a book

When I started my free reading challenge, I knew it was going to be difficult, so I gave myself some let-outs.

This week I used my joker to buy a book from an author I’ve read a free book from in order to help with their launch.

Like one – Love the next

A couple of weeks ago I read Kelly St Clare’s Fantasy of Frost (free in a giveaway). A high fantasy YA novel, I thoroughly enjoyed it. So when I discovered she had a sci-fi/dystopian novel due out 30th August, The Retreat, I wanted to support her launch. I asked for and got a review copy and loved The Retreat even more than I had Fantasy of Frost.

Cover of Kelly St Clare's The Retreat
Click for the preview

Pay with a review

So, all’s well so far, and I could just have stuck to my free reading challenge and “paid” with a review (which I have, check it out on the Paisley Piranha site).

Amazon are at it again

But I’ve also seen a lot this week about Amazon doing yet another purge of anything they consider less-than-ethical reviews, which always seems to mean removing reviews from legitimate independent authors, while leaving them to help spam-bot rip-off merchants.

Now, I know we authors get very exercised about vanishing reviews (they are – fortunately or unfortunately – very important), but as a reader I’m pretty cross about it, too. If I take the time to read a book, then further time and effort to arrange my thoughts about that book into a review, I don’t think it’s acceptable for Amazon to arbitrarily decide my review isn’t valid (especially since it’s evaluated by software, not a human being: way to wind up a human – make a machine more important than them!)

The value of ‘verified’

So, I bought a copy on the basis that a review from a “Verified Purchase” would be less liable to interference from the ‘Zon (and because I really wanted to support this 5-star read).

And now I’m scratching my head, wondering how come a dislike of Amazon’s practices means I’ve made an additional purchase with them…

Get on with it!

I’m an impatient reader. I think I’ve mentioned this before – if you haven’t captured me in the first couple of paragraphs I’m off: too many books and far too little time.

Which means I love the sampling feature of ebooks – I can have a quick read on-line, or download the start of several books and look through at leisure to decide which I want to pursue and which I’m going to discard.

Now, either this manner of decision-making sets me apart from the majority of book-buyers, or people who format ebooks haven’t allied their job with the purchasing experience. I’m finding ebooks seem to be increasingly prone to throwing a surfeit of irrelevant stuff into the start of a book – acknowledgements, review quotations, author biographies and other books by the same writer or published by the same publisher. Now these are all fine – BUT NOT BEFORE I’VE READ THE BOOK.

Once I’ve read the book and been captivated by your style and storytelling I’d love to get to know you by discovering you live on the side of a mountain with a dog called Wookie, so named not because of its hairiness, but because its woof is spookily reminiscent of Chewbacca’s vocalisations (oh, now, wouldn’t that be cool?); after I’ve enjoyed your story I’d be delighted to discover that it came about indirectly because of a bet placed between you and your best friend, Biff, to learn and recite alphabetically the names of all the islands within the British Isles; and once I know I like your writing I definitely want to know what else you’ve written so I can download it straight away.

Before I’ve read the book, though, all that stuff is just wasting my time – I don’t care about your dog or your best friend, and it’s just presumptuous to suggest I read something else of yours before I’ve even started this one.

At the start I like a brief blurb/synopsis (useful for when I’ve loaded up my ereader and can’t quite remember which story goes with which title), and then I want to start reading the book. Everything else that isn’t story is an interruption – and hands up anyone who likes having a good story interrupted?