Objectivity in book reviews: can you be honest AND objective?

This is a brilliant post by Lynne LeGrow at Fictionophile on book reviews and blogger bashing. A poignant question raised is: Can you write a book review that’s totally devoid of personal preference? I don’t think anyone can write a completely objective book review that doesn’t sound as if they’re dissecting the author’s writing skills. If you’re incensed by blogger bashing, this is a must-read.

Fictionophile

book-review-objectivityThese past few weeks I have read some rather unpleasant comments about book reviewers. Blogger ‘bashing’ seems popular just now.


An example of this blogger bashing:

https://prettymessreading.wordpress.com/…/dear-book-blogge…/

When someone – anyone – calls me or my fellow book bloggers dishonest – then steam starts to come out of my ears.13420806205_766b819771When I give a book 5 stars it is because I love it. I’ve recently given a book 2 stars because it wasn’t to my taste. Everyone’s taste is different. I get most of my books from NetGalley, Edelweiss or directly from publishers. They do not cost me anything, yet I still rate them ALL as according to my enjoyment of them. Why would anyone post anything this hurtful. I do not lie when reviewing books! I do try to be kind, as I know authors invest a lot of emotion, time, and hard work writing. Just because I don’t care for it, there…

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Guest #Author #Luna Saint Claire

Luna Saint ClaireI’m delighted to feature Luna Saint Claire, an author and costume designer who describes herself as an eclectic bohemian. She lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband, a philosophy professor. Luna’s début novel is The Sleeping Serpent.  Purchase it HERE. Welcome, Luna!

 

Tell us a little about yourself.  I recently left a career as a Hollywood costume designer for film and television, and I am currently splitting my time between New York and Los Angeles. My darling husband of a great many years is a philosophy professor and author. I enjoy a variety of musical styles. I was a ballet dancer, so classical music is a big part of my life. My fashion style can best be described as eclectic bohemian, mixing vintage pieces and well-worn jeans. I was adopted as an infant and learned quite early about my Native American heritage, which informs my life and my work.

What is the title and genre of your latest book? Who published it?  The Sleeping Serpent is a woman’s struggle to break an obsessive bond with her yoga master. Published by Compelled Books.

Tell us a little about your book.  Bored with her conventional and circumscribed existence, Luna feels herself becoming invisible. When she meets Nico Romero, a charismatic yoga guru, his attentions awaken her passions and desires. Infatuated, she becomes entangled in Nico’s life as he uses his mesmerizing sexuality to manipulate everyone around him in his pursuit of women, wealth, and celebrity. Immensely erotic and psychologically captivating, it is the story of a woman’s obsession with a spellbinding guru and the struggle to reclaim her life.

Purchase Luna’s books HERE.  
Excerpt

Gazing into his eyes, she descended into a dark green pool of
memories and familiar feelings from long-ago. Again, she heard her name in the foreign tongue Nico was chanting. Tumbling deeper and deeper, she spiraled down a funnel of undulating rivers, fragrant pine trees, and the sweet scent of oranges. She felt a flood of understanding and knowledge—that time no longer existed, and there was no self and no other, they were one. Nico reached over and placed a garland of herbs around her neck, then he wrapped them around her wrists, like bracelets. Stroking her hair, he held the staff above her head while chanting her name, and she descended further into the elliptical galaxy of his eyes—right into his soul.

What inspired you to write it?  I became embroiled in the lives of a The Sleeping Serpentspellbinding yoga guru and his entourage of beautiful, intelligent, successful women in Hollywood. Luckily, I wasn’t in a romantic relationship with him. Yet, he still had influence over me. Nico is a gifted healer but uses his power for the dark side of self-interest—to acquire wealth and fame. Luna believes she can heal him because he has awakened something inside her she thought was lost. He has made her feel that anything is possible.

What inspires you to write in general?  I love the creative process. I have been a dancer, a painter, and costume designer, and now an author. I consider myself a creator and I cherish the introspection that writing offers. Reading other authors’ fiction that is well crafted and thought provoking gives me the motivation. But ideas that come from the universe and poke me in my soul are the inspiration.

When and what did you first start writing?  A college friend I hadn’t spoken with in years helped me understand that I had become an addict. I never considered my obsession with a person as an addiction. As I researched relationship abuse, I began to comprehend how one becomes compelled and loses themselves in the process. She encouraged me to write the book as a healing device. All the characters, places, and events are fiction but I drew emotionally from my experience to create the characters.

What authors have most influenced you? How and why?  A few authors that come to mind are Isak Dinesen. Her stunning memoir Out of Africa is a work of beauty and sorrow. Everything by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake, Interpreter of Maladies, and Unaccustomed Earth. There is one book, Cold Mountain by James Frazier, whose stunning characters leave you breathless. Another extraordinary stylist I idolize is Ian McEwan (Atonement, Chesil Beach, Comfort of Strangers), and I mustn’t forget to include Cormac McCarthy’s brutal coming of age Border Trilogy. I have always been inspired by Jim Harrison (Legends of the Fall is a favorite) whose style and stories are not unlike Hemingway.

How do you write – outline or free flow?  The Sleeping Serpent was written with an outline. My WIP is being written with a Hero’s Journey arc, but no outline.

What genres do you like to read? For the most part I read Literary Fiction and Memoir.

In what genres do you write?  My debut novel, The Sleeping Serpent, is psychological women’s fiction because it is a woman’s journey to reclaim her life. Women’s Fiction are stories women can talk about, and say, “Hey, I’ve gone through that.” I hope with my story women will learn they are not alone.

Black, Blue, & Purple PainWhere and what time of day do you like to write? Why?  I like to begin just after breakfast. Shut down my phone and Facebook and write all day until I stop and go to the gym. But there are days, like this one, where I am doing an interview instead.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?  I recently hit a wall and I suppose you can call it writer’s block. I read authors that inspire me and hope I am mystically communing with the inspiration gods and calling them to me.

If you have a blog, what subjects do write about?  I don’t have a blog. I do have Tumblr where I post book reviews, interviews, excerpts, and often pieces about relationship abuse and narcissistic personality disorder.

How do you schedule your time between writing and keeping your physical life together?  My husband and I do a lot together and we have some flexible time. For myself, I go to the gym to stay healthy and in shape.

Do you have other publishing credits? If so, what are they?  I am a contributing author in Black, Blue & Purple Pain – a domestic violence anthology.

How and where have you marketed your work?  My book is available worldwide on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, IBookstore, and Kobo. As for marketing, I have done eight interviews and been featured on nearly fifty blogs. I am active in the author/blogger/ reader/reviewer community on Facebook, participate in Facebook events, and do author takeovers on Facebook Blog pages and in groups.

E-book or paper – do you have a preference?  I am probably about 50/50.

What is your current writing project?  My WIP, tentatively titled The Serpent Awakens, is also a psychological spiritual journey. I have been researching the mystical shamans of the Andes as well as the shamans of the Amazon jungle that utilize psychotropic substances such as ayahuasca to heal.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing? Any hobbies?  My husband and I enjoy traveling when time allows. We enjoy hiking as much as we enjoy art gallery hopping. We love cooking (which includes dancing around the living room) almost as much as dining at our favorite restaurants.

What advice would you give a new writer?  I would ask myself why I want to write? If you find it is a necessity that you must write, I believe you will be fulfilled. The esteemed Anne Patchett, whose books never fail, wrote a little memoir titled, Truth and Beauty, about her friendship with Lucy Grealy. In it she writes, “Writing is a job, a talent, but it’s also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.”

What do you wish to say to your readers?  I hope you find my book moves you in unexpected ways. I hope it challenges your views on love and friendship and that you leave it having a greater understanding and even compassion for those afflicted with narcissistic personality disorder, a devastating mental illness. Sociopaths target victims by keenly identifying their vulnerabilities, and playing to their desires. Charming and magnetic, they appear to be perfect—the answer to your prayers. Truth is, they have targeted you.

What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?  I am always honored when a review reads, “Incredibly well written and vividly told!”  “A suspenseful seduction!” or… “Great storytelling with richly written and exposed characters. You won’t forget this book.” It would also be lovely if they put the thought out into the universe, “This would be such a compelling TV series!”

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I hope you enjoyed learning more about Luna, her writing, and her books. Please visit her sites, like and share. Thank you so much for stopping by  ❤ 
Luna’s Sites:  Website   Amazon   Facebook   Twitter   Goodreads Pinterest   Instagram   Tumblr   Spotify   

The Bee Talks With… Tina Frisco

I want to thank Bee Halton for the beautiful feature of me and my books on her blog. Bee was born in Germany, lives in Norfolk, England, and is a writer and aspiring beekeeper. Please visit her blog and learn more about this interesting and wonderful woman 💜

The Bee Writes...

tina-4aToday I am honoured to have Tina Frisco answering my pesky questions for writers :-). With no further ado over to Tina:

  1. How would you describe yourself in one paragraph?

I’m a heart-centered person. Some might see me as a bleeding heart, but I’m actually an empath. It took me many years to accept this and many more years to learn how to manage it. I’m still learning. Writing and music are my passion, and they inform my daily life. I walk in nature every day and have a spiritual practice that sustains me. I’m an optimist by nature and tend to seek the positive in everything – especially in challenges, as I see them as opportunities to grow. I’ll face them head on, because I’ve learned that what we choose not to look at is what controls our lives. I work hard at keeping my heart open to all…

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WHEN I AM GONE

A beautiful and moving poem by Patricia Salamone. Speak your heart. Always. And forgo regret 💖

The Writers Desk

When I am gone, will my shadow stay.

Will you see me walking beside your shadow under the moon.

moon

Will the scent from flowers I liked remind you of me.

flowers

Will a gentle breeze across your face feel like a kiss from me.

When you hold an item I gave you will it feel like a hug from me.

When holidays come will I be remembered.

When you dream will I be there, and if I am,

is it really a dream, or could I be visiting you.

Speak to me with love in your voice, hug me whenever you can.

Hold me in your heart, forget about your pride

because tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone and regret lasts a lifetime.

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Meet Guest Author Colleen Chesebro…

Colleen Chesebro is a guest on The Story Reading Ape today, talking about her new book, The Heart Stone Chronicles: The Swamp Fairy. Colleen is a writer, poet, and fairy whisperer. What is a fairy whisperer? Visit Chris’ blog and learn about this unique ability, as well as the symbolism of the number seven, rainbows, and ancient Greek Mythology sprinkled throughout her novel …

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Hi, everyone. Many thanks to Chris for his kind invitation to visit and write on his blog. It is much appreciated and a great honor. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Colleen Chesebro. I am a writer, a poet, and a fairy whisperer…

Yes, I bet a few of you are scratching your head wondering what I am talking about – a fairy whisperer? Let me tell you the story of the greatest experience I have ever had.

While on a walk during a warm, foggy morning in November 2014, I had a close encounter of the fairy kind. At the time, we were living in Pensacola, Florida. I still remember the day, as if it has been carved into my memory; something I will never forget.

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The road I took on my morning walk

As I walked along the road, I heard a…

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Smorgasbord Blog Sitting Special – Author Tina Frisco – Time is an Illusion.

It’s a pleasure to be part of Sally Cronin‘s Blog Sitting Special while she’s off celebrating her birthday with her sisters in England. There will be many more hosts throughout the week, so do stop by and enjoy the variety of posts she has lined up for our edification in her absence 💜

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

blog-sitting

I am delighted that my lovely friend and talented author Tina Frisco leapt into action when I invited writers to blog sit whilst I am away with my two sisters. Tina is hugely supportive of all her blogging friends and in this post she explores our perception of time.

61drzdpa47l-_ux250_About Tina Frisco.

Tina Frisco is an author, singer-songwriter, RN, activist, and student of shamanism. Born in Pennsylvania USA, she attended nursing school in New York and lives in California. She began writing as a young child and received her first guitar at age 14, which launched her passion for music and songwriting. She has performed publicly in many different venues. Her publishing history includes book reviews, essays, articles in the field of medicine, her début novel – PLATEAU, her children’s book – GABBY AND THE QUADS, and her latest novel – VAMPYRIE. She enjoys writing, reading, music, dancing, arts and…

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Guest #Author #Jan Sikes

I’m delighted to feature Jan Sikes on my blog today. Jan is a dear friend and multi-award winning author of five books.

Jan Sikes

Find Jan’s books here and here.

With the publication of each book, Jan also releases a CD of original songs appropriate to the story’s time period, because “the stories revolve and evolve around a passion for music.”

Jan lost her husband, friend, and soulmate in 2009. Her novels are “true stories about the journey of two people moving through adversity in order to grow and learn to become better humans.”

Featured below are a back cover blurb and short synopsis of two of Jan’s books, along with my review of the first.

Home At Last

HOME AT LAST

Back Cover Blurb

With empty pockets and a heart full of dreams Luke Stone leaves behind the nightmare of fifteen long years in Leavenworth prison, not giving it a backward glance.

Eyes firmly on the future, he boards a Greyhound bus bound for Texas…for freedom…for the one who holds his heart. The unjust conviction no longer matters and revenge haunts him no more. Darlina Flowers, the woman who takes his breath away, waits ahead and with her by his side, nothing can stop him.

He is headed HOME AT LAST.

Short Synopsis

When Luke Stone gains freedom from prison, he heads home to Texas, to family and to the woman he loves. Though his pockets are empty, his heart is full – full of hopes, dreams and plans. He knows it won’t be easy starting over with nothing, but he believes in the power of positive thinking and hard work.

Darlina Flowers has spent her entire adult life waiting to be Mrs. Luke Stone. She’s never been more ready than now to welcome Luke home, into her arms and into her bed.

Trying to carve out a new life for their little family proves to be a challenge. At times Darlina wonders if she’s strong enough to be the woman Luke needs.

Together, they face extreme hardships from poverty to a near fatal heart-attack. None of it is easy, but their love is mighty.

My review Jan Sikes CD

One of the elements that makes Jan Sikes’ novels compelling is that they’re autobiographical. I was so moved by her second book, The Convict and the Rose, that I knew the third book would prove equally poignant.

Luke Stone is finally released after spending 15 grueling years behind bars for something he didn’t do. Darlina Flowers meets him at the bus station, filled with anticipation and hope for the life together that was denied them when Luke was imprisoned. With little money and no home of their own, their deep and resolute love determines to imbue their lives — and the lives of Darlina’s 2 young daughters — with joy and meaning.

Austerity greets them head-on, but Luke and Darlina never fail to ride the waves with conviction. They remain focused on carving out a better future and seldom look back on past obstacles or tragedies. Damaged and awkward family relationships in need of renewal are handled with warmth, hope, determination, and a sprinkling of raw veracity. When problems threaten to sabotage their happiness or undermine their stability, their solid love for one another always helps them prevail. The adversity they’re forced to deal with would crush a less immutable nature. But Luke and Darlina’s firm resolve, tenacity, and enduring love see them through the hard times as well as embellish the joyful times.

This review might read like that of a fairy tale, but the characters depicted are real people, and this is their story. It’s both tragic and triumphant. It exhibits the depth the human spirit can reach in order to not only survive, but also thrive. It exemplifies the long-held truth that believing makes it so. Energy follows thought. And Luke and Darlina show us how to manifest our heart’s desire.

'Til Death Do Us Part

TIL DEATH DO US PART 

Back Cover Blurb

Over the course of Luke Stone’s life, he’s been everything from a simple farm boy to a singing star, from a convict to a family man.

Only one woman has managed to keep his out-of-kilter world on track. When Darlina Flowers danced her way into his heart so many years ago, he never dreamed she’d stick by him through the best and worst.

He should be satisfied. Yet, the lifelong dream he harbors deep in his heart – the dream of making music again – won’t let him rest. He grabs at one more chance to prove that he still has what it takes.

But, Luke’s body is failing him and he faces catastrophic changes that might end more than his re-born music career; they may end his life. He’s more determined than ever to provide for his family and share the music in his heart with them and the world in the days he has left.

In the dead of night when the world is silent and still, the forlorn hoot of an owl, his spirit animal, sends a warning up his spine too strong to ignore.

Will fate allow him to sing his last song?

Short SynopsisJan Sikes CD

Things for Luke and Darlina finally start to get a little easier. Luke is writing and performing music again and this time, Darlina is participating with him. He’s even going into the studio to record a new CD. And just when it looks like he will have a shot at another music career, he suffers a leg amputation and winds up in a wheel chair.

But, Luke doesn’t let anything keep him down. He and Darlina continue to find ways to make lemons out of lemonade. Together they are writing songs and pitching them everywhere they can. Luke opens a music store and begins to teach students to play guitar.

Luke is compelled to leave behind a legacy for Darlina and for his family. He won’t let anything stop him…until it does.

***

Join Luke and Darlina on an emotional and powerful tale of the life they build together and feel inspired at their determination to wring the most out of every minute they are given. Love is an elixir like none other and they find there is an endless supply in their hearts, even in death.

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I hope you enjoyed learning more about Jan and her books. Please visit her sites, like and share. Thank you so much for stopping by  ❤ 
Jan’s Sites:  Website  Blog  Twitter  Facebook  Pinterest  Amazon  

 

I threw a little teaspoon

The imagery in this short poem is exquisite. Visit Kate McClelland‘s blog and let your imagination run wild . . . or balance on the toss of a spoon . . . whichever is your pleasure  🙂

Kate McClelland

I threw a little teaspoon

I threw a little teaspoon into the kitchen sink.
It landed in a cereal bowl that bobbed on the surface of the hot soapy water
It lay there like the Lady of Shalott in her dying throes
I saw that little teaspoon
Floating in a sea of suds in perpetuity.
Then I saw myself adrift in a boat on a blue lake far away
With mountains, trees wild flowers and untamed creatures for company
And I suddenly envied the spoon

spoon-644559__340

Kate McClelland c 2017

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EDITING 101: 25 – Style Guides for Fiction…

Susan Uttendorfsky is a guest on The Story Reading Ape, bringing us Part 25 of her Editing 101 series: Style Guides for Fiction. Even though The Gregg Reference Manual is typically for business, I’ve used it for decades and find it an invaluable resource. Susan lists several other editing guides that you might find helpful. Bottom line: If self-editing, a style manual is a necessity!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Originally posted as the Dun Writin’—Now Whut? series on this blog, EDITING 101 is a weekly refresher series for some of you and brand new for others.

Courtesy of Adirondack Editing

Style Guides for Fiction

In order to make the English language (or any language) consistent, style guides and manuals have been developed to use certain consistent rules or standards. Most industries or professions have their own style manual, so that all materials written for that industry are of the same standard. This not only includes punctuation, but also capitalization and grammar.

For instance, all newspaper articles in the US are written using AP (Associated Press) style. For business, there’s The Gregg Reference Manual, and for web publishing, there’s the The Yahoo! Style Guide. Each of these style guides has different rules, and someone writing for those industries must follow those rules.

If you’re working for the United States government, it has…

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When I Am Not Enough… Guest Post by Tina Frisco…

Thank you to Chris The Story Reading Ape for his enduring support of authors. I’m so pleased to have another guest post featured on his outstanding blog 💚

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

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Image courtesy of Lucie Stastkova

Throughout our lives, we hear ourselves say:  ‘I’m not that good!’  ‘I’ll never make it.’  ‘I wish I could write that well.’  ‘If only I had said. . .’

Words are powerful. Energy follows thought. The words we speak to ourselves drive our subconscious minds. Diminishing thoughts tell the subconscious we are not enough.

The subconscious mind is self-serving. Its mission is to fulfill our every desire, and it sets in motion the means by which to do so. It takes our words at face value and strives to manifest what they represent. It assumes that what we think and say is what we hope and dream.

How often have we heard ourselves utter, ‘Did I say that’? Unless we’re channeling spirit, the mouth speaks what the subconscious mind thinks. If thought rests in the conscious mind, we are aware of it and can choose whether or not to give it a…

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