Blog Prompt: Scheduling or last minute posts?

Book Blogger Hop

Coffee Addicted Writer is having a year long blog hop with weekly book related prompts and I’m looking to take part in as many as possible

Do you answer the Book Blogger Hop questions in advance and have them scheduled or do you write your post the night before or the day of the Book Blogger Hop?

I answer many of them in advance and schedule them for the week of the hop.  This allows me to write a response when I have the inspiration, time and energy to do so, and it also allows me to have a post scheduled so I can work other posts around it.

I am trying to produce posts on a more consistent and regular timeframe, partly so both myself and my readers know where we are. In the short term it has meant a more work than I can to admit, now I know I have plenty of posts scheduled over the next few months to do the other things I should be doing – reading the books I want to review without feeling the need to rush to complete a book and write the review to get it ready. 

I have also noticed that if I dont prep a blog post and then schedule it for a future date, it often doesn’t get completed and posted – I often come back days or weeks later, check out my drafts folder and go “oops!”.

So I schedule as many posts as possible in advance.  What about you?

Book Review: Fatherland by Robert Harris

fatherland
Fatherland by Robert Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s 1964, twenty years after Germany won WWII. Hitler is approaching his 75th birthday. Berlin has been rebuilt on a massive scale. Poland no longer exists. Western Europe has been dissolved into one Economic bloc. Only Switzerland has escaped becoming part of the Reich Empire. Joe Kennedy is the current American president.

Xavier March, a member of the SS after the absorption of the police into the SS, is sent out to investigate a body found in a lake. This pulls him into the high ranks of the German hierarchy during the war, the taking of art, and ultimately the notes of Wanasee, where the Final Solution was discussed and agreed. He finds corruption is rife, triple crosses everywhere and a fanatical belief in the Third Reich (and Hitler) starting with his ex-wife and son. Already disenfranchised with the state of things, it is shattered even more when he comes across an American journalist who gives him another view of things.

As usual, you feel that Harris has done his homework – the whole story with regarding to Wansee and the concentration camps ties with other variations I have of this, the use of the German ranks is impressive (esp if you dont know what they mean!) and the envisioning of what Berlin would have been like had the building plans gone ahead.

Book Review: Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

cranford
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gaskell’s witty and poignant comedy of country-town life, a gently comic picture of life in an English country town in the mid-nineteenth century, Cranford describes the small adventures of Miss Matty and Miss Deborah, two middle-aged spinster sisters striving to live with dignity in reduced circumstances.

Rich with humor and filled with vividly memorable characters, including the dignified Lady Glenmire and the duplicitous showman Signor Brunoni, Cranford is a portrait of kindness, compassion, and hope

A classic book by Gaskill of a small town – almost a village – in rural England, dominated by women of a certain age. Whilst not rich, they are not necessarily poor and they have developed their own ways of presenting themselves to the local community.

The book is narrated by Mary Smith, not a native of Cranford, who makes occasional visits to Miss Mattie (and her older sister Miss Deborah, whilst she is alive), a spinster in her 50s. There is no plot, per se, rather each chapter describing an occurrence in the village and the resident’s reaction to it, which can often be wildly out of proportion to what actually happened.

This is a light and amusing book, which disappointed me slightly when I realised I’d been daft enough to think this was a (Lark Rise to) Candleford book (whoops!), even though I could see a similarity in some of the characters. Looking at some other reviews of this book, it seems I am not mistaken for confusing the two (Cranford/Candleford; both set in the middle of the 19th Century; etc).

Book Review: The Manning Sisters by Debbie Macomber

manningsisters

The Manning Sisters by Debbie Macomber

“The only woman who interests me is you.”–Russ Palmer, rancher

When Taylor Manning accepts a teaching job in Cougar Point, Montana, she discovers that life there is very different from life in Seattle. So are the men She soon notices a handsome, opinionated, stubborn rancher named Russ Palmer, and he notices her. In fact, they more than notice each other…. After only a few months, Taylor’s certain of one thing. Despite their conflicting backgrounds, she’d love to be The Cowboy’s Lady.

“I feel as if I’ve been waiting for you all my life.”

–Cody Franklin, sheriff of Custer County

The first day Christy Manning visits her sister, Taylor, she meets Sheriff Cody Franklin. To Christy’s shock–and Cody’s–they’re immediately attracted to each other. Intensely attracted. There’s a problem, though. Christy’s engaged to someone else, someone back in Seattle. So what’s the solution? See what happens when The Sheriff Takes a Wife…

Two books in one, both originally published in the early 1990s.

 

The Cowboy’s Lady

Taylor moves to a small town as their new teacher, hoping for a little peace and quiet as she mends her broken heart. It’s all different to what she’s used to as a city girl – they dont take Amex, there’s no cell phones or pizza delivery service. Somehow she gets involved with a cowboy who reminds her too much of her father in his stubborn, male chauvinistic ways. Somehow they fall in love with each other, and end up doing a “quicky” wedding in Reno, much to her family’s disapproval

 

The Sheriff takes a Wife

Christy is Taylor’s sister and has barely had time to unpack before Taylor goes into labour. She has two weeks vacation, and uses it to not only keep an eye on her sister, but meet up with her brother in law’s best friend Cody. They are attracted to each other and there is one unfortunate issue – Christy is engaged to the appropriate but boring James,  who her parents approve of, but she is not in love with.  Returning home from her 2 weeks away, her parents present her with a horrible situation and she struggles to extricate herself from it, without upsetting her family – especially after Taylor’s quicky marriage the year before

Both books reflect the times they were written in – no cell phones, no internet, and none of that sex-before-marriage malarkey.  Neither are the best romance novels I’ve read, but then again, not the worst.

Blog prompt: Read a book because of the hype?

Book Blogger Hop

Coffee Addicted Writer is having a year long blog hop with weekly book related prompts and I’m looking to take part in as many as possible

 So would you read a book just because of the hype?

That would be a definate “no”. I dont read because of media hype (see “50 shades of grey”) or because a book has simply been short or long listed on someone’s book prize (e.g. Man Booker etc). I pick up books I like the sound of and that I think I would enjoy. I have picked up some books that have ended up on one or more of the lists, but that is because I’ve liked the sound of them and not the other way arond.

I find I am invariably disappointed with the ones that are subject to social media hype – I read the Bridget Jones books after the 1st film came out and wondered what the fuss was about, and certainly wont be reading the new one. “50 shades” only got any exposure because it was a woman writing for the one hand brigade and you could read it in publicon an ebook *without anyone noticing* (unless you’re the type of person who blushes). There’s no guarentee that the book is well written or editied, and not full of spelling mistakes.

So what about you? Would you read a book because of the hype?

Blog Prompt: What is the best book marketing tool?

Book Blogger Hop

Coffee Addicted Writer is having a year long blog hop with weekly book related prompts and I’m looking to take part in as many as possible

What do you think is the best book marketing tool? Blog, facebook, twitter, pinterest, or goodreads?

I get to hear about books from a variety of sources. I dont use pinterest (so that’s clearly not a good source of marketing to me), and I follow few publishers or authors on facebook, so that’s not a good source either.

I pick up a few (but not many) books on Goodreads, and only since I’ve been following certain groups on the site.

I have had more success with the Early Reviewers group on Libraything and so I am more aware of certain writers after receiving books from there.

The primary, and therefore best marketing tool for me is Twitter, where I get to interact with authors and publishers. The secondary source for me is my (this) blog which provides an email route for contact with me.

That’s what I think – what works for you?

Book Review: City of Ice by John Farrow

cityiceCity of Ice by John Farrow

A college kid in a Santa Claus suit is tortured, murdered, and left hanging from a meat hook on Christmas Eve – a gift intended for one particular cop. This debut thriller set in bone-chilling midwinter Montreal features one of the most compelling new heroes to emerge in crime fiction: Sergeant-Detective Emile Cinq-Mars. A brilliant logician, an eccentric who follows his own rules, this old-style cop is beleaguered by the virulent crime wave that has engulfed his city. While political uncertainty over separatism has damaged Montreal’s social and economic life, organized crime has been quick to take advantage. The Russian Mafia, rival motorcycle gangs, and infiltrators from the CIA are engaged in violent turf wars, while the police force – teeming with corruption – struggles to keep the city safe. Even Cinq-Mars, whose stunning arrests have made him a local hero, appears to have been compromised. How has he managed to penetrate Montreal’s criminal elite? Who are his informants and how do they acquire their vast knowledge? And who is the young female American operative he seems so desperate to save from the clutches of the mob?

 Crosses, double-crosses and triple-crosses in Montral, where the Hells Angels and the Mafia are teaming up with the Russians to carve up the underworld whilst betraying each other. Meanwhile Cinq-Mars from City police is working almost on his own and to his own version of the rules to control the investigation of various murders. He has to juggle corruption from within, dirty cops, CIA infiltrating the Hells Angels, betrayals and negotiations on all sides, whilst getting older.

I had difficulty with Cinq-Marns, and part of it was the author’s way of referring to him – throughout the book his moniker changed, from the familiar “Emile”, through Cinq-Mars right up to Sergeant-Detective Cinq Mars. It was as if the author either went through waves of linking/being comfortable with his creation, to not knowing/linking him very much (similar to Cornwell suddenly changing from “Kay” to “Scarpetta” part way through her series).

Overall, i thought this to be a  reasonable book, lot of strings to be pulled together, a modicum of violence.

 

Book Review: China Governess by Margery Allingham

chinagovernnessThe China Governess by Margery Allingham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Timothy Kinnit, rich, handsome, well-bred, learns on the eve of his elopement, that he was adopted. When Timothy becomes the chief suspect in a housebreaking and later a suspicious death, his fiancée enlists the help of Albert Campion.

One of the later Campion stories, that features not so much Campion and even less Lugg (who barely gets a speaking part in it all)

Set about 20 years after WWII and Timothy, about to elope with his fiancee, finds out that he was adopted and the man he thought was his father isnt. Meanwhile, in a slum part of London that was bombed out during the war, a new start is threatened by a model flat being trashed by an unknown assailant.

Everything comes together, pulling together the fall out from the Blitz and the confusion of evacuation, blackmail, murder, and alcoholics.

Not the best Campion book, (too much focus on the other characters in the book to allow Campion to come through) and not my favourite – the fact that it took over a week to complete what is quite a short book shows this.

 

Book Review: Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes

youremineUntil You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes

Until You’re Mine tells the story of Claudia who seems to have the perfect life. She’s heavily pregnant with a much wanted baby; she has a loving husband, and a beautiful home. And then Zoe steps into her life. Zoe has come to help Claudia when her baby arrives. But there’s something about Zoe that Claudia doesn’t like. Or trust. And when she finds Zoe in her room going through her most personal possessions, Claudia’s anxiety turns to real fear.

Received a free copy from Library Of Birmingham as part of their Big City Read, in exchange for a review. The Author’s website is here

This story is told in multiple, female voices – two first person (Claudia and Zoe), one third person (Lorraine, the police detective). There’s plenty to keep the reader guessing, as the pregnant Claudia hires Zoe to help be a nanny to her twin step-sons as Claudia’s Navy husband returns to sea, and her due date comes nearer.   It seems Zoe is not all she seems, and everyone is hiding secrets.

Meanwhile Lorraine and her police detective husband are working the murder of one pregnant woman and the near fatal attack of another near-term woman, as it seems that there is nothing some people will do for a baby of their own.

Since saying much more will be entering this post into the Spoiler zone, I’ll try to say no more on the subject.  There is an exploration of motherhood – those who cant have children but want one, those who can but dont deserve them, those who have them but whose children never end up as planned, looking after someone else’s children.

The choice of the multiple voices was good, not only from preventing the reader from getting bored, but allowing the dénouement to be clouded, but fast until the climax. Because of the subject matter, and some of the scenes covered in the book, this is not for everyone, but worth it for those who are able to get through it.

Blog Prompt: What qualifies a book as good or bad?

Book Blogger Hop

Coffee Addicted Writer is having a year long blog hop with weekly book related prompts and I’m looking to take part in as many as possible

 To you, what qualifies a book as good or bad? Are some books objectively better than others, or is it purely a matter of opinion?

What qualifies a book as good?

Majority of the time I think it’s a matter of opinion.  Some people adore Wuthering Heights and think it’s the best book ever written.  I’ve read it several times over the years, hoping it would be much better this time, but still come away thinking it’s highly overwrought and not worth the hype.  It’s a good book but certainly not the best book ever written. In the end it boils down to: decent story, written well and in such a way you want to finish it, and with 3 dimensional characters.  I’ve read 200 page books that have gone on too long and 1000 page books where I’ve felt bereft at the end and wanted more immediately.

What qualifies a book as bad?

Meanwhile Wuthering Heights also not a bad book.  These are the ones that are badly written, badly edited or badly printed/formatted.  Where the writer has no idea how to build up a sustained narrative; not leave the book riddled with plot holes; where the resolution is achieved through the introduction of a character, object or situation presented in the last chapter.

Where neither the editor or the author has spotted the spelling mistakes or changes in tense in the middle of a sentence (few people can do a change in narrative within a chapter – and fewer can do it within the same paragraph – and if you haven’t done it before….you’re not one of them).

I’ve read ebooks where the formatting of the book has been so poor that it’s taken me ages to work out that it’s been told in multiple viewpoints – unfortunately, the “voices” of the characters were not different enough for me to determine who was narrating at that point – a reader shouldnt need the name of a character at the top of a chapter for them to know who is talking at that point.  The story had potential – and I might have been able to finish, but I was over half way through before I worked out who was who, by which time I couldnt be bothered to take it to the end.

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