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5 Star, 4 Star, 3 Star, How Do I Review and Rate The Books I Read?

I have had folks ask me how I decide what rating to give a book. Some are really really good, and some are somewhat good, and some good, but not my Cup of tea. So that makes this question difficult to answer.

If you follow my facebook page or my blog then you probably know that I give a lot of 5 Star Reviews. I think it’s because I love to read and I do my best to find everything good that I can in a book and its author. But, at the same time, I want to be honest, so therefore I do give out 4 Star and 3 Star Reviews.

I never go lower than a 3 Star and here is the reason why. It’s quite simple actually… it takes talent, creativity, a good grasp of the English language,  and a ton of imagination…. not to mention a strong backbone to put oneself out there for the world to criticize and I am sure my author friends can add a lot more to this list…. But simply put, I can’t do it!

Having said that, why would anybody be downright mean? I recently read a review that gave a book (that I loved by the way) a 1 star! The reviewer actually said, “this book is a mess”! I wanted to ask her how many books she has written and published, but I just shook my head in disbelief. Why people feel the need to be mean is beyond me. I love reading books that border on real life but I also love the fictionalized world. Every so often I will read a review that puts down the author because the events seem a little far fetched. Guess what folks? Its fiction… it’s not real. If you want it all to be real, read non-fiction, it’s as easy as that!

Okay what makes a five star book? One: Description – an example of this! When I am reading I want to be able to feel the wind in my hair, the sun on my face or the cold in my bones! I want to visit the town and meet the people. I also want to see the furniture in the room, the light from the lamps or the darkness on the porch. In other words, I want to be in the scene!  Two: Characters – right from the beginning, I want to get to know the characters, how tall they are, how skinny/fat they are, or perhaps a child so ugly their folks had to tie a porkchop around their neck to get the dog to play with them. 😀 (Just kidding.., no offense intended). By the time I reach the middle of the book, I want to love or strongly dislike the characters. It’s okay to dislike a character, and in no way should it affect the way a book is rated. The character is written a certain way for a reason. And sometimes it is so the reader will dislike him/her. The main point here is to know the character. Three: The plot – I want it to be easy to follow. Consistent, for example not jumping all around so that I can’t tell where we are or who is talking. I read a review recently that rated a book poorly because it was written in different time periods… they said they couldn’t tell from chapter to chapter which period they were in. The funny part is that the author indicated at the beginning of each chapter, whether it was past or present! Really!  The plot has to make sense and come together in the end. Nothing worse then reaching the end and not knowing what happened. You know, like when we learned to write… a beginning, a middle and an ending. Gotta have all three.

I could go on and on but for me, these are the three things that make for a 5 star review! If any of them are missing, the rating becomes a four or a three! Sometimes I will do a comparison, however, not often; authors are all different and I don’t think it’s fair to compare! Especially when they write in different genres.

In closing, let me say this… reviews are important for the success of the author! Don’t review a book you haven’t read! Yes people do that. I have read reviews where the reviewer only read two chapters. Not fair people! Not your cup of tea, fine… if you don’t read… don’t review! If you don’t like it that’s okay, give constructive Criticism or simply say, “not my cup of tea”! I will be honest, I have said that on more than one occasion. It doesn’t mean the book is bad, it just isn’t something I liked!

Just so you know, all of this is just my opinion and lacks any research or fact finding. However, my friend Amy M Reade did a blog post on this very topic…. if you haven’t read it, here’s the link… How To Write a Review. Do go take a peek and read some facts on how an author feels about the topic.

Enjoy, have a wonderful week and don’t forget to:

Live, Love, Laugh and by all means….. READ!

Sharon

 

HERE WE GO AGAIN!

Monday was a wonderful day and I guess I planned it that way! I didn’t want any negative thoughts to enter my mind… Tuesday, not so good! But it’s Valentines day, so I am trying not to think about those nasty negative thoughts that we sometimes allow to overwhelm us!

HERE WE GO AGAIN! 

It’s Mid January and “here we go again!” I am out on one of my fun shopping sprees, I lean to the left and reach for a package on the bottom shelf. “Ouch!” Pain shoots through my ribs like a knife. I sit still for a few minutes and hope that it will go away quickly. Although it lightens up, it doesn’t go away.

I rest through the weekend and then on Monday morning, I send a text message to my oncologist. I tell him what happened on Friday and ask if I should make an appointment with him or my primary care physician.  Since I feel like I pulled a muscle,  He says either one would work. So I make an appointment to see him on Tuesday.

You are probably wondering why I want an appointment with an oncologist when I feel like I pulled a muscle. The answer is easy, the last time I thought I pulled a muscle, I suffered for several months before getting it checked out. As everybody knows, it turned out to be Ovarian Cancer and thus started my 2016 nightmare.

During  my doctors appointment we decide that it probably is just a pulled muscle, but, let’s check it out to make sure. Off to the radiologist for a CTScan. Drinking that chalky shake is always my favorite thing to do first thing in the morning. Not to mention another day of getting that awful dye out of my body! NOT!

The following week, we get the results from the CTScan, and unfortunately we see  some small nodules and now we need to have a biopsy to confirm. The doctor who performed the biopsy was so very cute and he has the nerve to have a beautiful head of curly hair. I ask if he could share, but no, he gets to keep his curls, darn!

Valentine’s Day:   Off we go to the doctor for the results! I bring Amie along with me, because once my ears hear that awful word, you know the one that starts with a C… The next part of the conversation is just a lot of  blah blah blah!

My wonderful doctor, and yes, I do love him, doesn’t look so good! After a little chitchat he tells us that our suspicion that the cancer has returned has been confirmed. It has been less than six months since my last chemo treatment; this means the treatment did not work.

So, in my thoughts I say, what’s next? Good question, I tell myself, as doc continues to talk about all the trial drugs they are using for cancer patients and although there is no cure, the more trials we perform, the closer we get to finding out what works, for the not so near future that is. (Sorry about that run on sentence.)

So, what’s the prognosis I don’t ask…. because you and I already know that only God can answer that question. It could be a month, six months, a year, five years… who knows… But,  this I do know, I am not going to sit around and wait! I am going to live each day as if there won’t be another…  that doesn’t mean I am going to go crazy or anything; it just means that I will continue reading and listening to my books. I will continue supporting my favorite authors, I will binge watch some of my favorite tv shows, and listen to my favorite music; and I love going out to dinner… will do that too! Oh oh oh, and although I probably won’t have a lot to say, I plan to continue writing my blog! 😀

So let’s end this post on a good note! Let me show you my indoor garden! I currently have 3 plants… well, two plants and some tulips! Here they are!

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This is a Philodendron; I love them because they are very hard to kill! And they are pretty too! The little turtle on the left, Dana made it for me for Valentine’s Day, isn’t it adorable? And that pretty little girl on the right, that would be Madelynn! Isn’t she precious?
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You’re  gonna love this! I don’t have a clue as to what this is called! The tag said foliage; LOL… okay then… why did I buy it? Because the tag also said it had been known to change bad moods into good ones! How about that? And I thought it was pretty too! Hard to see in this pic, but that’s Dana peeking through the foliage with a great big toothless smile! 😀
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My tulips; aren’t they lovely? Amie brought them home for me one day just because! She didn’t say just because, I did, it’s one of my favorite sayings. It gives the reader a blank slate! Just fill in the blank with whatever kind thought you would like.

So, that’s all for today, and in closing, I hope that everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! And as always, don’t forget to Live, Love, Laugh and by all means… Read!

Sharon

It’s Release Day!

And it’s here!

Reade and Write

Good Tuesday morning! When I started working on The House on Candlewick Lane a million years ago (at least it seems that way), it felt like February 7, 2017, would never arrive. But here it is, and I’m thrilled to have the book out in the world!

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For those readers who may not be familiar with what the book is about, here’s the Amazon teaser, along with the link to purchase the book if you’re interested:

“It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Greer Dobbins’ daughter has been kidnapped—and spirited across the Atlantic to a hiding place in Scotland. Greer will do anything to find her, but the streets of Edinburgh hide a thousand secrets—including some she’d rather not face.

Art historian Dr. Greer Dobbins thought her ex-husband, Neill, had his gambling addiction under control. But in fact he was spiraling deeper and deeper into debt. When a group of shady…

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Featured Author – Amy Reade

Coming soon!

Just 4 My Books

As part of the Mystery Authors International group, (#MysteryAI), each month I’m going to feature one of our members and share some of their books, links and maybe even an insight into their writing life.

Amy Reade is the first to take the spotlight, with her latest novel, to be released on February 7th,  The House on Candlewick Lane. amy-reade

USA Today bestselling author Amy M. Reade is a recovering lawyer living in southern New Jersey. The House on Candlewick Lane is the first of The Malice Novels, Amy’s gothic suspense series set in the United Kingdom. The second book in the series, Highland Peril, will be released in the fall of 2017. She is currently at work on the third book. Amy is also the author of Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of Hanging Jade, all standalones. She loves reading, cooking…

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Goodbye January, Hello February

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Did anyone else see January as a very long month? I know I did. There seemed to be lots of everybody’s not so favorite day, Monday! There were 5 in January. Not to worry though, we won’t see 5 Monday’s again until May. 😳

So how did I do on my 2017 goals and resolutions…

One: Lose 20 pounds…. for the month of January… epic fail! It was a tough month, and desserts called my name every time I turned around. Hopefully February will be kinder.

Two: Exercise daily… ahhh, this one wasn’t so bad, although I missed a few days and can’t lift the weights that I wanted to… I did meet my daily step goal the majority of days!

Three: My reading goal of 50-75 books….. Underway, I read five books this month and enjoyed them all. See my previous blog posting for a review of Coal River by Ellen Marie Wiseman.

Four: Get back to writing my blog…. Yay, I am doing it! If anyone has a particular topic they want me to look at and blog about, let me know.

And Five: Remember and practice one of my favorite quotes, Live, Love, Laugh And READ… Hmmmm, , I can’t say that I failed at this, but I didn’t do as good a job as I had hoped. Will work harder in February!

Goodbye January and hello February… let’s hope for a great month for everybody and hopefully not too cold for my northern friends!

As we enter and move through February don’t forget to:

Live, Love, Laugh and by all means READ!

Sharon

 

 

 

 

Review Time: Featuring Coal River by Ellen MarieWiseman

Do you love Historical Fiction? This is one of the genres that I started reading after I retired. And, I love it. I guess what I really like most about it is that it usually contains some truth. Either the topic being discussed or the setting, and sometimes real people. Not to mention that reading about history is fun especially with added fiction.

I will let Amazon tell you  a little about Ellen and a little about the book. Then I will add my review because… well just because…. it is my blog after all. 🙂

About the Author:

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Ellen Marie Wiseman was born and raised in Three Mile Bay, a tiny hamlet in Northern New York. Ellen lives on the shores of Lake Ontario with her husband, two spoiled Shih-tzus, and a rescued yellow lab. She loves to cook, travel, garden, watch movies and spend time with her children and grandchildren.

For more information about Ellen, please visit http://www.ellenmariewiseman.com.

And I will add that this area of upstate New York is absolutely gorgeous. I am not particularly fond of the winters up there, but the Spring, Summer and Fall can’t be beat. (says the somewhat partial New York Army Mom.)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

In this vibrant new historical novel, the acclaimed author of The Plum Tree and What She Left Behind explores one young woman’s determination to put an end to child labor in a Pennsylvania mining town. . .

As a child, Emma Malloy left isolated Coal River, Pennsylvania, vowing never to return. Now, orphaned and penniless at nineteen, she accepts a train ticket from her aunt and uncle and travels back to the rough-hewn community. Treated like a servant by her relatives, Emma works for free in the company store. There, miners and their impoverished families must pay inflated prices for food, clothing, and tools, while those who owe money are turned away to starve.

Most heartrending of all are the breaker boys Emma sees around the village–young children who toil all day sorting coal amid treacherous machinery. Their soot-stained faces remind Emma of the little brother she lost long ago, and she begins leaving stolen food on families’ doorsteps, and marking the miners’ bills as paid.

Though Emma’s actions draw ire from the mine owner and police captain, they lead to an alliance with a charismatic miner who offers to help her expose the truth. And as the lines blur between what is legal and what is just, Emma must risk everything to follow her conscience.

An emotional, compelling novel that rings with authenticity–Coal River is a deft and honest portrait of resilience in the face of hardship, and of the simple acts of courage that can change everything.

My Review:

One of the things I look for in a novel is description; I want to feel the characters, feel the setting, and most of all feel the story. In doing so, I feel like I know the author. No matter what the topic, a good author shows themselves in what they write! Coal River is one of those beautifully written stories.

As Ellen describes the area and the characters, I could actually feel the dirt on their feet and the black coal on their faces, not to mention the cuts and bruises on their bodies.

I can’t even imagine the lives that the miners and their families lived. With little food, clothing and coal to heat their homes, they got up every morning and went to work. The women stayed home as their husbands and children, as young as 5/6, went off to the very unsafe mines to work 10 hours every day! The stress of  whether or not they would return each night had to have been unbearable.

Once I got to the midpoint of the book, there was no putting it down. Page after page, I just wanted to see what happened next.

I noticed a few reviewers didn’t like the romance in the story! Well Gosh;  Emma is 19 years old, of course there needs to be some romance! It was written well and certainly wasn’t overdone.

And then there was the ending! I never saw it coming, but I loved it! If you want to read a good Historical Fiction with a few twists and an unexpected ending, then this is a book for you.  I highly recommend Coal River, and I am looking forward to reading more from Ellen Marie Wiseman. My rating, definitely 5 Stars… 

p.s. Along the way Emma does a few things that aren’t legal… I couldn’t help but to think about Robin Hood as I was reading. 🙂

I received this book while attending an online facebook party… Thank you Ellen for sending it to me, I really enjoyed reading and reviewing it.

 

As Always, don’t forget to:

LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH and by All Means, READ!

Sharon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adult Coloring–Fun AND Good for You!

For those who like to color, there are benefits!

Reade and Write

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I wrote a post today for Novel Spaces, where I post on the 22nd of each month. The post is all about adult coloring and it’s benefits for your mind and spirit. You can check it out here.

Thanks for visiting!

Until next time,

Amy

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Choose To Be Kind or Not!

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So I had a very enjoyable outing and I of course I ran into a couple of crazies out there! LOL! The first one honked his horn at the light because I took less than 30 seconds to make my turn! I prayed that God would give him a little more patience! Then, on my way home I stopped at a red light and the truck behind me drove into the rut to my right and took off like a crazy person! Maybe he didn’t know that the law states that you make a full stop, check for oncoming traffic and than proceed to make your turn! In about a minute I was right behind him! Silly boy! I prayed for him too!

Now the good stuff… a very kind lady was in front of me at Michael’s Craft Store, and she turned to me and said, “I am sorry, this is gonna take a few minutes” and I smiled and said that’s ok… I had my walker with me just in case I needed to sit down.. then she looked down and said, your boot is untied, may I please tie it for you so you don’t fall! For that I was very grateful, unless I am sitting, I can’t tie it! Then she turned to the clerk and said, please cancel what you are doing and ring this lady up so she can get home! Even though I said no no no, she did it! We chatted while the clerk rang me up and I told her I was going to make Valentines cards with my granddaughters. She got all excited and told me that she was a third grade teacher before she retired. She said of all the holidays including Christmas, this was the kids favorite. They loved exchanging those little valentines, and believe me, she said, they read every line.

As an aside to my story here, I’ll throw this in… In previous years I created a design and they copied it. This year, I bought a bunch of stuff and I am gonna let them create their own designs. It should be interesting to see what they come up with. I will have to post some pics when they finish!

That, my friends,  was a very pleasant outing at one of my favorite stores. But, that is not the end of my story. I stopped on the way home to pick up a drink and while I was walking toward the register (with several people in front of me), a second clerk opened her register and motioned for a man to come forward, he turned to me and said, you go ma’am. and I said, “no, no, you were here first” he smiled and said, “I am in no hurry, it will only take an extra minute.” So true an extra minute…. what’s a minute in a lifetime, I thought to myself. I smiled and thanked him and we both went on our way.

So, four people, two in a mad rush, and two showing kindness… You decide; take that extra minute to be kind or rush through your life as if every minute you delay will cost you something.

In my mind, the choice is very simple….. what I have learned over the years is that kindness goes a long way.. If you smile at someone today, I guarantee you will get a smile back… in the meantime, Don’t forget to:

Live, Love, Laugh and by all means Read!

Until next time!

Sharon

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Quick Look at 2016 and Let’s Move On to 2017

Unless I have new readers, I don’t think I have to tell anyone that 2016 was not my best year! Writing about it is undoubtedly very difficult!

Having been diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer just before Christmas in 2015, I began to prepare for what I knew would be a very long and difficult year for my family, my friends, and me. Actually, if I am going to be honest here, I planned for 6 months of difficulty, because I really didn’t expect to be here beyond June 2016! No, that wasn’t my doctor giving me a prognosis, that was all me trying to read God’s mind! Alas, he had other plans!

I am not going to write a play by play of the 9 months of treatments, pain and all that went on during that time, I will just say that it was not fun! And yes, I whined a lot!

So now I will skip to September; my last chemo treatment was definitely successful ! Lots of partying going on, well not really partying but definitely a lot of smiling! And on October 12 I received the good news that I was cancer free!!!! A day I will remember for a long time!

It’s actually Christmas Eve as I write this and I am still smiling! I am so grateful for the gift of life and I want to thank so many people! My many doctors for the skills that they work so hard to learn. So many nurses that I met at the doctors offices, the infusion clinic and the hospital. The compassion that they share is beyond incredible. An even bigger thank you to My family and friends, without all of you I would not be writing this today! I was listening to Delilah on the radio the other night and she was telling us to get off the computer and get out and about with real people!!! Well I am here to say she is wrong about that. I thank Facebook for allowing me to keep in contact with many folks that I would not have been able to during this very difficult time. Prayer travels far and if you allow it to, a hug can be felt clear across the country! For that, I am thankful.

I didn’t set any resolutions for 2016, but I decided I would definitely set some for 2017. Here they are!

1) I want to lose 20 pounds! That doesn’t seem like much but it will be difficult since I like to eat.

2) Exercise daily. That’s a tough one, but I will think positive.

3) Read 50-75 books. This should not be hard since it is what I love to do!

4) Get back to writing my blog!!! If not weekly,  Then biweekly.

5) last but certainly not least… remember and practice one of my favorite quotes, Live, Love, Laugh And READ!

That’s it for 2016, and  as I welcome 2017, please join me as I wish my family and friends a very Happy and Healthy New Year! Let’s make 2017 a year to remember! READY, SET, GO!

And don’t forget… to… Live, Love, Laugh And READ!

Sharon

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