- Start by looking at some recommendation sites and work out which ones are closest to your interest. Some good ones are: For Books Sake which specialises in women authors; opening the book.com/which book; bookreporter.com send a regular email with reviews and details from author events such as talks they go to. US oriented but…
- Join GoodReads and then look further at any sites they recommend. In GoodReads you will find a large number of sub-groups which are chatty or specialise in particular genre. You can find friends to discuss books with and also lots of book reviews. Some groups pair you up with a buddy to read a set book with over a month or two and then you can swap ideas.
- If you are confident you can read fairly fast and can write a review of each book you read – then join NetGalley as a reviewer. You will be given free books – as document downloads – some of which as proof copies and thus will have spelling/grammar or formatting mistakes. Ignore all of these and concentrate on the story, style and general quality of the writing in the book. They have some information about how to review a book well also. If you can manage to write good reviews – not necessarily praising the book, but explaining and justifying your comments, and are prepared to post onto Amazon and GoodReads, then you may be auto authorised by some publishers, which means you will always obtain their books. Note: you will not always be given the book you ask for. Check out what the publisher says they want from a reviewer and see how your bio agrees with it.
- Build a reputation as a reviewer, if you want to read free books. Start a WordPress blog that has lots of book reviews on it. Look at other WordPress sites for book reviews and how they do it and what they are reading. You will find lots of people writing about books on WordPress and Tumblr so ensure you look through them as you will find lots of ideas for books for you to read also.
- Try and have a mix of genres when you are reading and try and read some non-fiction as well as fiction (or vice versa of course). Stretch yourself into genres you wouldn’t have first thought of – keep that mind active! You may surprise yourself.
- Don’t force yourself to finish every book you start. Read around 40-50 pages or 1/3 of the book. If you still don’t like it. Put it aside – delete it from your electronic book store but try and think wny you didn’t like it – you an build up a review of pet hates in books that way!
- Join a book club. Physical or Virtual – or more than one. You may hate what people have chosen, but you will be forced to try new things.
- Look at the Bibliotherapist at the School of Life where you can get recommendations for reading for ‘what ails you’.
- Follow authors. Read their blogs and comments.
- Finally. Ensure that you are warm, comfortable, and have your favourite tea/ coffee and biscuits/cake near at hand. Get your cat to sit on your lap and start…
Book Review: [For NetGalley and Brash Books]
Poor Poor Ophelia by Carolyn Weston
“Traditionalist veteran cop Lt. Mike Stone is partnered with Inspector Steve Keller, a young, inexperienced college-educated go-getter in the homicide division of the San Francisco Police Department. The two enjoy a bantering relationship while they hunt down the bad guys..”
Except that this isn’t a summary of the book but of the TV series that was created from the book!
First aired in 1972. Yes 1972.
This another book that has been taken and re-issued by Brash as a digital book, and yet despite it having been written some 40+ years ago has stayed the test of time and you wouldn’t necessarily have realised just how old it was until you looked up the author’s bio.
You might remember the somewhat tinny theme song if you heard it (and are old enough of course!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgPZ81xA_Ao to listen to it and then do look at the actors too… you must surely recognise that rather pitted and jowly face of Karl Malden and the young Michael Douglas.
It ran until 1977, was filmed actually in San Francisco (that makes a change but close to Hollywood of course), there was even a TV movie made, but no episode covered the storyline of Poor Poor Ophelia that I can work out. *
So in this book story there is a lawyer who gets reluctantly involved with the police investigation of a drowned girl to whom he gave a laminated business card, which she was found clutching. It was a very suspicious death as the pathologist Deacon remarked – ‘Deacon was famous for preliminary reports full of what he called ‘details’, and the card being one of these famous details.
The girl lived in a bedsit with a very nosy landlord -‘It’s a crime or something to keep an eye on your property?’ – perhaps a voyeur? And yet the landlord didn’t ask for any proof of identity when a man claiming to be the dead girl’s uncle – a man he had never seen before – came and collected her post after her disappearance – more than once.
The cop looking for her murderer was
‘Depressed by the idea of another air-tight compartment in a society hellbent in separating itself into rival camps…tribalism’
when looking at her set of apartments for singles only.
I liked this book a lot and will give 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.
I have been told by Brash Books that The book *was* filmed as the pilot episode of STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO. Robert Wagner played the attorney!
You can watch the whole thing on YouTube. Here’s the link to the pilot episode.
1. My first book Steady as she Goes is a nautical memoir written about four years deck Apprenticeship from 1957-1961 with Shipping Co named Irish Shipping Ltd. Now this book has sold thousands in paperback all over the world and still sells, but I put in on Kindle Amazon last May and it has taken off and is selling very well.
The reason I wrote tis book is of course because its a true story. Now my recent book The Atlas Murders has a strong nautical theme and as such I called on my sea going experience as a master mariner and sea going experience.
My recent book which is going out free tomorrow 15th Dec -19th Dec. An auld Bed in Havana is a romance and thriller with a part set on a yacht in the Caribbean.
2. I think about a topic for maybe months and when I decide to write about it I take notes from relevant books and papers and first hand experience as I like to visit a place before I write about it, and the people there.
3. When I start writing I keep researching and could leave the story for days while I walk and think how to proceed with a particular topic or character, I seldom change a plot or character’s action once I have written it.
3. The sources I use are from the hundreds of books I’ve read and past experiences and last but not often the internet. I jot down lines from old books and special Authors I like eg. Nevil Shute, Alastair Mc Clean, Denis Wheatley, Nicholas Monsarrat, I could go on and on but I keep notes and special quotes and use them in different sentences and meanings than the original, I suppose it’s plagiarism of sorts.
4. I would never go directly to the police for information or help as I’d prefer to conjure up my own plots and twists, I would try to make sure I gave the police their due respect in any way I would involve them.
5. I published my first book and had it refused a number of times, I now have my own publishing Co. Reginald Press and do my own publishing now. I would recommend self publishing or getting in touch with a small publisher like me who would help with editing and publish at a very nominal fee, distributing would be a major part that a new author would have to consider and explore.
6. I do not earn enough money from published work and as such it is only a hobby, if it happened some book took off and made some real money it would be a welcome bonus, all our dreams?
7. I would advise aspiring writers to follow their dreams as we all have some and life would be very dull without them. Try to get published without having to outlay too much cash and work hard at promoting your work. No one knows where the next big block buster can come from so all young people keep trying.
Dunn’s Conundrum by Stan Lee
A conundrum is a puzzle, a mystery, a problem to be solved and I am real puzzle fiend – this is why I love mystery novels and spy and crime fiction. I like to work who did it. But here the character Dunn is trying work out just who is the Doctor? The spy in their midst? And there is a lovely twist on this we find at the end.
Now I really loved this book, my first 5 star of the year – and I don’t give them out lightly. It is right in my field of expertise and research – information and knowledge management and the contradictions and issues that are raised by them. The book eloquently shows that there is a tremendous difference between the two, and in the end, as knowledge is informed by intuition and leaps into the unknown that then demonstrates new linkages and understanding, it shows that you cannot just rely on information. Intuition, is also linked to that ‘gut’ feeling , and now that we know that humans have a mini brain in their stomachs, (see http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/10/26/the-brain-gut-connection-for-mental-well-being/ and https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201110/your-backup-brain) we can be better sure that when our stomachs indicate we may be doing something wrong, then we may well be doing something wrong!
I was slightly confused when reading it as it did seem a little dated in parts and then getting to the end, I found out that not only did the author die in 1997 but that the book was written in 1985 (I found an original review of the book form 1984! https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/stall-lee/dunns-conundrum/). Interesting how such scenarios, if well written, can stand the test of time. Update the technology a little and what might be the difference? I suspect that as time has moved on we actually empathise more with the scenario then they did then when such computer links seemed very implausible. After all the personal computer was in its infancy in 1984/5 and we certainly had not yet thought of information management as a main business tool.
There were some very interesting quotes that I would like to put in here as I found them amusing or illustrative or otherwise significant of the writing style or content:
‘Ives was a design-center American: hew was within all tolerances. Medium height, medium weight, not handsome, not ugly, a white Anglo-Saxon Catholic who didn’t practice but had a daughter doing time in an ashram.’
‘Dunn had considered hiring a novelist for the job. They were born undercover agents. Voyeurs, secretly making notes.’
‘Nobody knew everything, which cut off countless possibilities for cross-fertilisation. And prevented any kind of sensible control.’
‘We inevitably think of information, data, facts, as inherently good. An asset. Something positive in our lives… information gathering permitted the advance of civilisation….some information is clearly negative…..negative information is that which, immediately upon acquitting, causes the recipient to know less than he did before…that which subtracts from one’s store of knowledge and wisdom…’
‘…You’re never going to understand the world. Know why? Because you’re ignoring everything that doesn’t fit.’
Now garbage is also interesting. Because, of course, what you throw away does say a lot about you. Especially today when we are urged to recycle so much. Although if you allow for a compost bin you will get a very limited view of what we eat. It also only works for single-occupancy households, not flats, as if you all share the same dustbins (UK word here) who know just who throw away the whiskey bottles? But in the scenario posited here in the book, they were monitoring single occupancy houses and presumably the servants had separate bins.
Now in our flats we have different bins. Blue, grey and green. The green covers the garden and also food waste that cannot be home composted including meat and bones. The Council takes this composts in their machines which go to very high heat and produce wonderful very strong material that you need to adjust 3 parts soil to 1 pat compost otherwise the plants will burn. The blue is for recycling and the grey for general rubbish. All 4 flats use the same bins so that would definitely confuse any Garbageman.
So this book is basically a Hawks Vs Doves story with political connivance and convenience thrown in. And as stated in the book, the Hawks in the US can always tell a good story to try and convince John Doe.
Divorced, Desperate and Delicious by Christie Craig
In this book it mentions that the mother AND grandmother had both been married some 6 times – or were about to embark on their sixth marriage. Which made me think. Just what was the divorce rate like in the US? And was 6 marriages a very unusual sum? Or not?
So I trolled the trusty internet and found the various government databases such as the census and looked up the US divorce rates. It made interesting reading, so I am adding some tables below.
Firstly – the divorce rate for the very first marriage that anyone has is now over 40%.
- The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%
- The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%
- The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%
So by the time you come to your 3rd marriage it really is hope over evidence bearing in mind that over 70% end in a further divorce!
I then thought well, just who are these people who marry more than once. Turns out that they – perhaps o surprise considering – were older rather than younger people. According to the census (http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p70-125.pdf), the percentage of people being married 3 or more times is at age 18 to 19 years – 0; 20 to 24 years – 0; 25 to 29 years – 0; 30 to 34 years 0.8; 35 to 39 years 1.9; 40 to 49 years 3.8; 50 to 59 years 5.9; 60 to 69 years 6.2; 70 years and over 4.4%.
And yet the census publication also states that marriages are most susceptible to divorce in the early years and after 5 years, approximately 10 percent of first marriages overall had ended in divorce. How quickly do people remarry? In 2009, first marriages which ended in divorce lasted a median of 8 years for men and women overall. The median time from marriage to separation was shorter—about 7 years. Half of the men and women in all of the races and Hispanic-origin groups who remarried after divorcing from their first marriage did so within about 4 years.
Here are some very interesting statistics that show you where, if you don’t want to get divorced, where you should live. And that yes, the figures also show, that once past that dangerous 5 year marker, the older you are now, the more likely you are to stay married for longer. Take the 10th anniversary. If you married between 1960 and 64 you had a 93% chance of reaching this goal, whereas if you married between 1990-94 (the worst record) you had only an 87.1% of reaching this goal in your first marriage.
Divorce Statistics in America for Marriage
|State with the lowest divorce rate||Massachusetts (2.4 per 1,000 population)|
|State with the highest divorce rate||Nevada (9.1 per 1,000 population)|
|Percentage of US population that is divorced||10%|
|Mean age at first divorce||For Males: 30.5 yrs.
For Females: 29 yrs.
|Median age at second divorce||For Males: 39.3 yrs.
For Females: 37 yrs.
|Median number of years people wait to remarry after their first divorce||For Males: 3.3 yrs.
For Females: 3.1 yrs.
|Average length of divorce proceedings||1 year.|
Bearing all this in mind we still find that some women in the
US never marry and more only marry the once.
- Never married – 27.2%
- Married once – 57.5%
- Married twice – 12.1%
- Married 3+ times – 3.2%
So this book is the first in a series about divorced women and their lives after divorce. They are ‘desperate’ because they want to date again and are scarred by their divorces and first marriages. They also, some of them at least, have really cute dogs and then they get involved with really sexy policemen.
I must say that I find policemen in uniforms are much higher on the sexy scale than plain clothes. I have met several just recently here in the UK and they are uniformly tall (but then I am very short) with nice broad shoulders. They look really hunky and are charming and with a good sense of humour too – at least those whom I’ve met and not all young either – the Superintendant was well over 40… So I get why they might like them – I guess under-cover cops have that added essence of danger due to their circumstances. But plain clothes – well they could be anybody. Except that policemen, like firemen, need to keep fit – or should if they want to pass their physical exams – and at least when young, have a good physique with nice muscles.
Delicious of course refers to what the men think of the women – the new men in their lives that is – and of course, these are not really you and me with all our faults but they have good skin, nice curves and pretty faces at the very least. Our fantasy of what we might look like – sigh…
I checked out the author’s blog – just to find out about her daughter’s feet and she looks a fun person – just as her books are a fun read. Not serious, and great to read when you are having a duvet day! 4 stars and I’ll read some more in due course – when my ‘to read’ pile gets a little smaller…