Book blogs and reviews – the good, the bad and the ugly

Image: Pixabay

Do you like everything you read? The answer for all of us is, of course, no. That would be impossible. If we liked everything we read, we would all be bland, with no opinions. And then no one would be able to distinguish between good, great, really great on the one side and average or not so good on the other side.

Social media has given readers a voice. Book blogs, Amazon, Goodreads are all places we can express our views about the last book we’ve read.

Everyone likes to gush when they love a book. And on what we could call the dark web of book reviews, many readers like to rip a book apart if they didn’t like it. These reviews are often nasty and don’t have much substance. And once posted, they sit out there, attached to the book for all to see. That’s hard on authors, especially new ones.

As readers, we tend to pick books we know we will like. With limited time, why read a book you know you won’t enjoy? But even when we select what we think will be winners, not everything works. As a book blogger, what to do?

  1. I could choose not to review the book.
  2. I could give it a positive review anyway.
  3. I could give it an average rating, point to the good things and let the rating speak for itself.

Option three works a lot for me, but every now and then I have to choose between that and something else: Option four:

  1. I could give it an honest review and explain why, without being harsh.

Yesterday I posted a review and gave it 2 bookmarks. Ouch! I thought about it for a long time. Could I do that? Did it deserve only 2 bookmarks? For me, yes.

If you’re in a book club, you know that very rarely does everyone like the book of the month. In my group, some of our best discussions were about books that some people hated and others loved! We are able to laugh about it and tease each other.

Can you do that on a book blog? I think so. My goal here is to develop a brand so that people who read my blog know my tastes and can choose based on them. We have to have a personality or it isn’t real!

So here is my idea for the future, and I will start with yesterday’s review of Exposed by Lisa Scottoline. If you are a Scottoline fan and want to tell me about her best books and why you like them, I’m inviting you to either make comments below or on the review linked above, or be a guest blogger on Book Club Mom. Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com if you are interested.

Because isn’t it best to reach across the book aisle?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Exposed by Lisa Scottoline

Exposed
by
Lisa Scottoline

Rating:

Simon Pensiera, one of the top sales reps from OpenSpace, the biggest office cubicle manufacturer in the area, has lost his job. After only one month of missing his quota, he’s sure he has been wrongly fired and that his termination is because of his young daughter’s leukemia and the high cost of treatments, including an upcoming bone marrow transplant. His boss, Todd Eddington, is worried about the insurance policy and tells him, “These expenses are going to kill us this quarter. It’s really too much. We can’t keep this up. They’re going to raise our rates.”

In comes Mary DiNunzio, Simon’s childhood friend from South Philly. She’s a lawyer now and has just made partner at Rosato & DiNunzio. There’s no question she’ll take the case, until Bennie Rosato tells her there’s a conflict of interest. OpenSpace is a subsidiary of their biggest client and Bennie isn’t about to jeopardize her relationship with Dumbarton Industries or Nate Lence, the company’s CEO and Bennie’s classmate from law school.

Pretty soon it’s Rosato versus DiNunzio and Mary must decide what to do. Her entire South Philly neighborhood, including a very sick little girl, is counting on her and she must find a way. And then, a shocking murder puts the wrong person in jail and Mary and her partner in danger. Can they solve the murder and fix things for Simon and his little girl, Rachel?

There are several subplots, including Mary’s relationship with the super-aggressive and take-no-prisoners Bennie, who used to be her boss. Both Mary and Bennie have significant others, which spices up the story a bit. Scottoline also describes Rachel’s illness, her treatments and preparation for a bone marrow transplant. Rachel is surrounded by a large, supportive family and neighborhood, which contributes to the author’s feel-good description of family and relationships. Much of the book is set at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and is a worthy shout-out to the great care she receives.

I had not read a Lisa Scottoline book until now. Scottoline has written twenty-nine novels and Exposed is the fifth book in Scottoline’s Rosato & DiNunzio series. The author provides plenty of back story and Exposed can be read as a standalone.

I went in with an open mind, however, I can’t say I enjoyed this book much. It was an easy read, but I found the plot far-fetched, a little boring and the characters stereotypical. In particular, Scottoline’s South Philly characters are over the top, especially her hard-of-hearing father whose dialogue is displayed in ALL CAPS. Scottoline also devotes the first half of the book to a dry legal debate about conflict of interest, so readers need to wait patiently for the action to begin.

In addition, editing mistakes, including repetitive phrases, dialogue and physically impossible descriptions, make me feel like this book was cranked out without much polish. I wish I could say I liked this book. I know the author has a huge fan base, but for me, Scottoline is a one and done.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon.

Friday Fiction – A Man and His Phone

Welcome to A Man and His Phone – a weekly series of relationship mishaps!
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Chris stood in the lobby and watched Jane march towards the stairwell. Was that dramatic flip of her long blonde hair as she chattered into her phone directed at him? And if so, what on earth was she telling him? He felt a little stung that she’d seemed to have won their confrontation. He had every right to ask her what she was doing in the lobby of his apartment building, just hours after he’d told her he didn’t want her to come over. Could she possibly have a friend who lived in this same building? Chris thought that was highly unlikely. She would have mentioned it, wouldn’t she? Oh what did he care anyway! Chris wasn’t down in the lobby to worry about Jane. She could do what she wanted. He remembered his purpose. Now, where would that mysterious and oh so intriguing girl he’d met on the eighth floor be? If she’d taken the stairs, surely she’d be down by now…

____

Adrienne sat at the bottom of the third floor steps, away from the door to the second floor hallway. She had righted herself enough to fish out her phone and call Jane, but she could tell she’d need help to get on her feet. She looked down at her ankle. Not pretty, but it didn’t look broken. She’d seen plenty of injuries on the lacrosse field and had suffered a few of her own, though never a broken bone. She was no doctor, but since her ankle looked swollen but otherwise together, with nothing sticking out, she guessed that it was just a bad sprain. I can hope, can’t I? she asked herself. But her back was another issue. Her tailbone was not singing a happy tune. So much for hitting the dance floor at Karma tonight. Adrienne’s frustration was beginning to build. She’d conspired with Jane on a few of her own goose chases, but they’d never resulted in injury. This was ridiculous!

Jane exploded through the bottom of the lobby stairwell door and tore up the one flight to the second floor. “Adrienne!” she exclaimed. “What on earth happened?”

“What do you think happened, Jane? I was racing down the stairs to get to you before Chris reached the lobby, but I slipped.”

“You didn’t try to run down these stairs in those outrageous shoes, did you?”

Jane was looking a little too much like a scolding parent right now and that’s the last look Adrienne had expected. She wasn’t about to admit that she’d tried her old trick of skipping down multiple steps. This was hands down Jane’s fault. And like an unannounced tsunami, a wave of ferocious anger overtook Adrienne. Forget the fact that she was kind of intrigued herself by Chris, and that she never would have met him alone like that or had the chance to flirt, yes, she could admit to herself, flirt with him. Now she was stuck at the bottom of the stairwell with a fat ankle and a backbone that had bounced along too many hard metal steps. “Do you think I’m stupid? Of course not! You’re a crazy person, Jane. I don’t know why I let you talk me into this asinine plan. Get me up and let’s get out of here before Chris finds us.”

Adrienne’s voice echoed through the stairwell and was replaced by the heavy clank and bang of the lobby entrance door opening wide and slamming shut. No time to tell Adrienne that Jane had already seen Chris in the lobby. The sound of climbing footsteps made their own echo as he approached…

Thank you for reading – come back next week!

Click here to catch up with all the episodes of A Man and His Phone.

Copyright © 2018 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

American history, Pilgrim marriages and a Thanksgiving memory

Image: Pixabay

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and, although here in the U.S. we are about to enter one of the busiest times of the year, it’s always good to take time to learn the history of our early American settlers, how the Thanksgiving holiday really came about and remember the important family moments that make contemporary holidays meaningful.


Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

Do you think you know all about the Mayflower? Check out Nathaniel Philbrick’s comprehensive and scholarly account that begins with Mayflower’s voyage in 1620 and ends with the conclusion of King Philip’s War in 1676. These 102 Separatists and Non-Separatists struggled to survive when they arrived in Plymouth and did anything they could to keep from starving or freezing to death. Made up of printers and weavers and other tradesmen, women and children, they were woefully unprepared for the desperate conditions that killed nearly half of them in the first year.


Guest Post – Noelle Granger “A Little History of Pilgrim Husbands and Wives”

ushistoryimages.com

Noelle Granger, author of the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series, has some great ideas for her first historical novel, based on the early Plimoth Colony. In this guest post, Noelle talks about her idea and about the history of Pilgrim marriages.


Thanksgiving Memories When You’re Small

When you are little, the large holiday picture is not yet in view. The small memories make the biggest impressions. One of mine is sitting on my mother’s lap at the Thanksgiving table and playing with her gold bracelet.


What are your Thanksgiving traditions and special memories?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Club Mom’s Power Rankings – Top 10 Favorite Books!

So a few years ago, I picked out and posted my top ten all-time favorite books, but I never ranked them, except for my #1 favorite.

Today, I made my decisions and put them in order and you can see their rankings here on my new YouTube channel, Book Club Mom’s Book Talk:

I hope you’ll take a look and consider subscribing. I’m still figuring things out over there, so forgive me for my mistakes!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

 

Who’s That Indie Author? Alethea Kehas

Author name:  Alethea Kehas

Genre:  Fantasy & Memoir

Books:  The Labyrinth, book 1 in Warriors of Light series & A Girl Named Truth, a memoir

 

When did you begin your writing career?  I was mostly a closet writer (with a few published pieces) before I went back to school to get my MFA in creative writing about a decade ago.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  I suppose a little of both. I let the inner guide lead as much as possible and with my fantasy series I don’t know what’s going to happen until I write it.

What’s your working style – morning or late-night writer?  I’m fortunate to work mostly from home as a healer and yoga instructor, so I write whenever I have the time and motivation.

Do you work at a computer or write long-hand?  Computer. I have horrendous handwriting and can type much faster than I can write by long-hand.

What gets those words flowing, coffee or tea?  Tea, definitely tea. I love tea.

Favorite book:  Impossible to say. As a young girl, my favorite books were by L.M. Montgomery, in particular her Anne of Green Gables series. In adolescence, I fell in love with The Catcher in the Rye, in college, the romantic poets, especially Keats. Now, it’s really any well written book with a good message.

Favorite movie:  Another tough one. I’m honestly not sure I have a favorite movie. Can I go with a TV series? I absolutely love the Avatar series. I think they’re absolutely brilliant and probably helped inspired my Warriors of Light series.

Favorite musician:  Deva Premal

Website and social media links:  website: aletheakehas.com
Facebook: @InnerTruthHealing and @AletheaKehasAuthor
Twitter: @AletheaKehas
Instagram: truthheals and warriorsoflightclub
Pinterest: Aletheakehas


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Commonwealth
by
Ann Patchett

Rating:

Here’s a great family saga that begins in the 1960s with six kids from two different families, the Cousins and the Keatings, thrown together because of an affair, a divorce and then a marriage. As the four parents establish their new lives, the kids are left to figure things out for themselves. Two sisters live with their mother and stepfather in Virginia and the four children from the other family are based with their mother in California during the school year. The step-siblings spend summers in Virginia, largely unsupervised and, while much of what they do is just kids’ stuff, they also take risks and use their own means to control their hyperactive youngest brother, Albie.

Until one summer when tragedy changes everything. The children, now adolescents, and their parents must carry on and Commonwealth is the story about how they do that. About halfway through the book, readers learn more about Franny Keating, who begins a relationship with a famous author, Leo Posen. And the story then becomes something new, showing the impact of this relationship on the rest of the Cousins and Keatings.

To describe what happens next would spoil the story, as the step-siblings manage their adult lives and their parents adjust to changes in their own relationships. Despite the large number of characters, Patchett shows how each of the unique and flawed personalities circle through anger, separation and illness.

While some readers may not enjoy the complicated dynamic within these families, I loved it, although I did take notes of the characters and their relationships. For readers who enjoy family sagas, Commonwealth is a terrific look inside the messy lives of a large and slapped together family. And Patchett’s clever way of telling a story within a story is the reader’s reward for keeping careful track of her characters.

This is my third Ann Patchett book and I love her writing style. Her books have completely different settings, characters and story lines, underscoring how versatile Patchett’s writing is. I read and loved Bel Canto many years ago and more recently read State of Wonder (read my review here).

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Looking for indie authors – is that you?

We all know how hard it is to write and promote yourself. How many writers are also book publicists? Even if you are both, do you have time to do both? Probably not. That’s where Book Club Mom comes in.

Who’s That Indie Author is a regular feature on Book Club Mom. It’s a free and easy way to promote yourself and your books and, at the same time, allow readers to know a little bit about you. Because we want to know how you got started, when you write and whether you prefer coffee over tea!

Who’s That Indie Author is also a great way to meet other writers and book lovers as they check out your profile, leave comments and share your information on social media.

After you submit your information, Book Club Mom will publish your profile on WordPress, Twitter and Facebook, the way to go when you want to get people to know you.

For more information, email Book Club Mom at bvitelli2009@gmail.com. I’ve prepared a brand new set of questions that are sure to get people interested!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Friday Fiction – A Man and His Phone

Welcome to A Man and His Phone – a weekly series of relationship mishaps!
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Adrienne knew she was in trouble the moment she launched herself from the third floor landing. Three seconds of airborne athletics ended as her right heel landed, not flat on the step, but too far out, just catching the edge of the third step. So much for muscle memory. How long had it been since she’d tried this trick? Her arms flew up and back and she had just enough time to recognize her stupidity before she landed hard on her back and bumped even harder to the bottom of the stairs.

I’m an idiot! she announced and had anyone heard her, they would have agreed. By some miracle, she hadn’t hurt her head. That’s the one good thing, she decided. But her backside was screaming in pain and her right ankle was already swelling to an abnormal size.

_____

The elevator pinged just as Jane positioned herself front and center to the opening doors. Jane was the type, so driven in whatever task was at hand, that she blocked out the goings on around her. And tonight she was so determined to make something happen, that as soon as the doors opened, she charged into the elevator, smashing directly into Chris.

“Whoa!” exclaimed Chris. “What are you doing here, Jane?” Oblivious to the extent that a woman on the hunt would go, Chris had no idea that he was the subject of a stakeout and that Jane’s partner was the lovely woman he had met on the eighth floor. Chris’s mood took a turn. Seconds earlier, the promise of something exciting was only a few floors away. His sole object in riding the elevator was to find this unnamed interest, and now he had the clingy Jane to deal with.

Jane was a planner in so many ways. She had wanted to see Chris tonight and she had tried to make plans with him. He was slippery, but she had merely altered her plans to accommodate his resistance. But her decision to come out from behind the rubber tree was fueled by a fatalistic adrenaline. Now, face to face with the subject, she had no plan.

“Uh, Chris! Hi! I thought you were going out already. I came here to see my friend, but, ha ha! I didn’t think I’d see you too!”

Jane had no hopes of Chris buying such a lame story, but the words had just spewed out of her. Sometimes quantity is better than quality, right? Now, while Chris digested her nonsense response, she had a couple seconds to work herself out of this tangle.

Oh, technology: sometimes your friend, sometimes your enemy, but always in your life. Jane’s iPhone was her crucial social connection and, much to her friends’ annoyance, she insisted on setting her ringtone and notifications to an unacceptable volume. Earlier that night, Adrienne had given her grief about the ringtone volume. “Your phone is driving me crazy, Jane. How old are you, fifty? If you don’t change those settings, I’m going to do it for you!”

“Oh, stop, Adrienne,” Jane had replied. “I need to know if Chris is trying to reach me. And besides, would you want me to miss one of your calls?”

Timing was everything and for once, Jane was right about her phone. Just as Chris demanded an explanation, her device broke out into a threatening sequence of alarming tones. Jane looked at her screen. Adrienne. “It’s my friend,” she announced. “I have to go.” She swiped the screen, turned on her heels and, with a newfound nonchalance, Jane raised her arm and gave Chris a backwards wave as she greeted her caller. “Hey, where are you?’ she asked.

Thank you for reading – come back next week!

Click here to catch up with all the episodes of A Man and His Phone.

Copyright © 2018 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 

Something new for Book Club Mom – Book Talk on YouTube!

Hi Everyone,

I’m trying something new, a supplement to this blog, because it’s never good to get too comfortable with the status quo, right?

So today I launched a YouTube channel and posted my first bookish video. I’ll be posting once a week and hope you’ll take a look here:

It’s a little longer than what I hope to post in the future, so if you get bored, remember that I’ll be cutting my next post by a minute or two!

I hope you’ll consider subscribing to my channel!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!