Thursday, May 20, 2010

reviews, both bitter and sweet

The reviews and ads for summer fiction are starting to roll in. This is the time when an author (me) holds their breath:) Reviews are a bittersweet thing. Some of you here have a habit of reviewing books - maybe a downright passion for reviewing them? Some of you posted amazing ones for TFD. I can't thank you enough for those! Each one was copied and put in my scrapbook (which isn't one of those knock-your-socks-off works of art but an old-fashioned one). I'm afraid I'm not very crafty.

Every reviewer has a different take on a story and it spills over into what they have to say when they finish that last page. Some of the finest things an author can hear include: I hated for this book to end...I felt so attached to the characters they seemed like family...I cried...I fell hard for the hero...Your writing has a beautiful, lyrical quality...I couldn't read another book for days as I just wanted to think about this one and savor it a little longer.

One of my first and favorite reviews for TFD was from a male reader. If you don't think men read historical romance novels, think again:) His review just sizzles. At least for this writer. Some of you wrote reviews that made me cry. No kidding! And I'll never forget them.

My editor once told me that it takes three or more positive reviews to undo one negative review. Another thing I've heard is that glowing reviews are not nearly as informative as negative ones. When readers are unhappy with a book, they tend to say very specific things. If they start saying the same things...OUCH. You may have to take a closer look at your work to see if their criticisms hold merit. But there are also readers who can't be pleased, no matter what. As my pastor said, there is only one Perfect Book and even it gets loads of bad press.

Do you enjoy writing book reviews? Do you only do it for those novels dear to your heart? Is it hard to post honestly when you don't care for a book? Or do you try to find something redeemable in every book you read?

Happy reading (and reviewing)!


  1. Good morning, Laura!

    I do love to review books. OK, maybe I should rephrase that, I love to READ, so I help publishers out by reviewing after I get the book for free. :D

    I hate both reading and writing bad reviews. I recently read a book that I HAD to review and frankly, it wasn't any good IMO. Usually if I don't like a book, I don't review it, but I had to on this one.

    I just hate to think of how discouraging it is to the author, so when I write a review, I try VERY hard to NEVER mention the author. It is their work, but now it is seperate from them and I am judging the BOOK not the AUTHOR.

    I like short, to the point reviews when I am book shopping, so I try to do that with my reviews too.

    OK, you got a novella here! See you later and I look forward to giving an amazing review of CML! :D

  2. Because the appeal of a certain book is so subjective, I will never post a negative review. It could be that book is one another reader will love, and my negative view might scare them off and rob them of that experience. If I don't love a book, I won't write a review unless I'm asked to, and in that case I will do my best to highlight the book's strengths. I figure there are enough people out there on sites like Amazon with no inhibitions about posting what they see as a book's shortcomings, so why add mine? If I felt the overwhelming need to do so, I'd choose to do it in private, directly to the author. But that hasn't yet happened. :)

    Got my CML bookmarks. Thank you! Now, to spread them around....

    Word verification for this post is: scars

    How appropriate. :)

  3. I write reviews. Often, I've agreed to review the book as in influencer. In those cases, my task is to help the author promote her book, so I tell her up front that I won't post a review unless I can give a positive one.

    I realize that just because I don't care for a book doesn't mean others won't. Tastes vary. I wouldn't want to dissuade someone from reading a book just because I didn't like it, so I don't like to post negative reviews for that reason. (Plus, I rarely read them because they can be downright hurtful, and I empathize with the author whose work is being criticized.)

    I used to write long reviews, but I've learned that shorter ones are more likely to be read, so I force myself to be succinct. I don't recap the story since the reader can find that information for herself. Instead, I say what it is I like about the story, being careful not to include any spoilers, of course. As I write, I think of the things that make me want to read a book: connection with the characters, captivating story line, emotional impact, etc., and I include those elements in my reviews.

    I look forward to reviewing Courting Morrow Little, Laura, because I know I'll have plenty of great things to say about it. My challenge will be limiting myself to just a few. :)

  4. i think this would be one of (if not the) hardest thing about being a writer. Because you put your heart and soul into something, you've gone over it with a fine tooth comb....and then to hear its less than amazing...I would probably need therapy ;)
    (This is coming from a girl who once wrote an awesome story about an amazing local program, only to have the sole response to it be a sour old woman who felt the need to CALL me to point out I'd mixed up affect/effect. I think I'm still scarred ;) )
    ANYHow....coming off that, and from the fact as an artist I really dont want to hear it if you dont like what I do, I try to only write positively. And if there IS something I dont care for in a book, I also try to point out things I do like, so its a balanced critique. I learned that in art class....when we would critique eachother's art work, we always mentioned something positive so that the art students go throw themselves out a window after all that work only to get nitpicks ;)

    And you're bad comment, for me, can undo about a dozen positive ones. They have barbs to them, they just stick with you...

    I cant wait to read the story and the reviews! Its getting close :)

  5. Very interesting questions this morning, Laura.

    I am trying to get better at reviewing books. It's still very much a work in progress though.

    I admit at this stage, I most attempt to write reviews for the books I love. I am very good at using the star ratings at amazon, goodreads, etc. However, I'm not very critical. I've never given a book I've read for pleasure a 1 star rating (books I've had to read for classes in the past though, those might be another story), and I can only remember giving one book a 2 star rating. I suppose I'm someone who finds something redeemable in just about every book I read. On my ratings scale, most books end up a 4. TFD was a 5.

    I have yet to be able to write a review when there was something I really did not like about the book. I've sat here, and worked out in my head what I wanted write. Yet, when started to write, either the words wouldn't come, or it wasn't coming out right.

    BTW, Bella Notte seems to be winning out for my birthday dinner. ;)

  6. I really enjoy reviewing books on my blog. It helps me to really think about the story as a writer and not just a reader who sometimes feels the story more than thinks about it.

    I get nervous because not everyone has the same taste in books as me and what if they read it on my recommendation and don't like it?! Oh, well. As you said, we can't please everyone.

    I don't tend to review books I didn't like. My purpose is to turn my blog readers to great books, so if I can't recommend it, I don't review it.
    Thanks, Laura! Great post:)

  7. I struggle to post honest reviews about Christian fiction. As Christians, we all want to lift one another up, and sometimes I think certain reviews of certain books are sugary sweet...false...because we don't want to hurt our brother's and sister's feelings.

    But I do always try to find something good to say. And, of course, God's word trancends our tastes. If Jesus is threaded into the book, it can't be all bad!

    And you're right about people who can't be pleased. We aren't writing for them, thank goodness!

  8. Hi Laura!

    I have to say that I LOVE to read and when I first got the Internet about a year and a half ago I figured what better way to help share my love of books than by starting a blog where I review books. I have to say that I find it very easy to write reviews especially if I love the book, on the other hand if I don't love the book it's very hard to write about it. I don't want to hurt an author's feelings but at the same time I need to be honest. I try to be respectful of the author and their book because I know how much time and heart goes into the writing process.

    Great post today as always! :-)

    I can't wait for CML!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    XOXO~ Renee

  9. I love reviewing - books, movies, music, you name it and I will review it. :) I started reviewing because I love to read and I'm passionate about spreading the word about books I love. I know I tend to write longer reviews, but right now that's just the way my brain is "wired," I guess. I seem to follow a pattern that I developed when writing book reviews of history texts in college (go figure, hmm?). Of course, reviewing books I really enjoy is easy. When a title's not "my cup of tea" I try to dance the fine line between explaining why I'm rather "lukewarm" about the title but also highlighting why other readers more into that style/genre may enjoy it. If I have any criticism of a title I always strive to balance that by praising strengths or focusing on what I as a reader see as room for potential. BTW, I cannot WAIT to get my hands on a copy of CML!! :)

  10. I like to post reviews only when I feel I have something informative to say OR I really liked the book. I sometimes check to see how many reviews an author has and if it is low I will write one just to give more information on how the book was for me as a reader. Sometimes I will finish reading a book thinking it was absolutely amazing and the book will only have two reviews. The small amount of reviews can be appalling. I actually came to your site today because I just got my CBD Summer Fiction catalog. You got a good review! The CBD catalog was how I found out about your first book. It's an informative little thing.

  11. Hmmmm I should add that I do know that guys read books even romance on occassion! I found this cool site a few weeks back and it's proof that guys read LOL! ;-)

    Now we just gotta find that guy who read The Frontiersman's Daughter and post it! :-P

    XOXO~ Renee

  12. Laura,

    Since I just started blogging recently, I just sort of dove in to the world of book reviews. :) So far the books I have actually written reviews for are books I have mainly enjoyed...but I try to give my honest opinion as much as possible.

    It makes me think of what I learned from an English teacher in high school: we were supposed to give compliment sandwiches when critiquing others' work. That means you write a compliment, then you share something that should be changed or improved (or two things, etc.), and then you end with another compliment.

    In the same way, I hope I can review in such a way as to say what I enjoyed about it, but also say what I personally didn't like.

    To be honest, though, some of my own books recently that I decided not to finish for now, I knew I couldn't post reviews on. I have to make sure I finish the book first! And unless it is a book that was purposefully sent to me in order to review, I don't always feel the need to finish a book if I don't like it. But maybe sometimes, if there was good reason not to finish it, I could share that, too...

    Well, sorry to ramble! I hope I get a chance to review Courting Morrow Little! I'm sure if I was blogging when I read The Frontiersman's Daughter, I would have had a lot of nice things to say about your book! :)


  13. Laura, if there's a good review of CML out there somewhere, could you post a link to it? Did I miss a link somewhere?

  14. I remembered something after I left my comment: I actually did review a couple of books before I started blogging, but those were books that I requested from the authors because I knew I would love them and I wanted so very much to read them! :)


  15. I only review books I love---Except for the fact that I get some from the publisher for free that I have to review and I don't always love them. I wrote one recently in which I just wrote a synopsis of the book and didn't put any of my own opinion in it. I thought it was mind-numbingly boring, but I didn't want to say it. Especially because I recognized it as a book others would truly love.

    Several years ago I really blasted an author on a review site about the subject matter of her book. If I could go back and change it, I would. I've learned to be a kinder, gentler reviewer.

    I got my bookmarks today for CML! I'm going to talk to the owner of my local bookstore and see if I can leave them on her counter as an advertisement. I'm pretty sure that after I order a couple copies she will make sure to have some copies on the shelves.

  16. Reviews are funny things, aren't they? If I read a book all the way through, I can usually find a redeeming quality in it.

    I totally understand crying when a book is over. TFD was one such book, and lately, Janice Thompson's contemporary series "Weddings by Bella" made me cry when I got to the end of the last book.

    THAT kind of crying over a book - that it's the end, rather than that something heart-wrenching has happened, which I tend to avoid like the plague (I know, I'm a pansy) - is crying I enjoy. It just means I loved the book and the characters so much that it's like losing a good friend.

    I have a feeling I'll feel the same way about Morrow Little!

  17. Such helpful thoughts, Casey. I know they'll benefit us all. I think it's so neat that you're a blog tour reviewer. That is a relatively new concept, I think, that has really taken off. I, too, like short, to the point reviews unless they're about my books and then I want the reviewer to be as longwinded as possible - lol! You made an especially important point about not judging the author but the book. GREAT! I know several authors whose books I don't read as they're just not my area of interest but I like them very much as people.

    You are too wise for your years, young lady:) If I could have been half that savvy! Now look who's writing a novella...

  18. Scars, indeed, Lori. Negative reviews can do that. How different are the positive ones! Words really can be like death or sweeter than honey, like Scripture says. You are so right about reading being so subjective. That's one of the more frustrating things about getting published. Your work has to appeal to the right editor at the right time, etc. One might pass and another jump and ask for a full. I was hammered by one editor right before my pub picked up TFD and loved it.

    Highlighting the books strengths is something I try to do, too. And I never post negative reivews either, knowing a book I pan will be well loved by another. Thanks for your thoughts. They always add so much!

  19. Keli, You are such a blessing. I hope Morrow is review-worthy for you. Love your optimism. I really look forward to being an influencer for you in future.

    You're so wise to be up front about not posting if you feel you can't do so honestly or postively. That is professional and kind.

    Not mentioning spoilers is also very important. I have unwisely read reviews before clicking the buy button at Amazon only to feel I've read the book already! Staying away from negative reviews is such a good idea, too.

    You've provided much food for thought. I feel wiser already:)

  20. Heather, You really know what this is like from a journalism perspective. I find the way you were taught to critique art fascinating. So smart to give the positives along with the negative. If you can only applaud the fact that the artist got paint on the brush and made it to the canvas - well, that's a plus! It would be for me as I can't scribble a stick!

    Yes, an author puts heart and soul into a book and it's a long, long love affair with many revisions and bumps along the way. Rocky and emotional. When it is finally out there, it does hurt terribly to have it torn down in even the slightest way. I've heard of authors who quit writing based on reviews. That is very sad to me.

    Thanks so much for commenting so thoughtfully. You have such good insights as both an artist and writer!

  21. YAY, Michelle!! Pasta is winning over pizza:) Wish I could join you. Even the atmosphere is delicious at Bella Notte. Even those little mints at the last. I'll be thinking of you this weekend!

    I've done the same thing about posting about a book that bothered me on some level. I just can't do it. That is better than posting negatively, I think. I'm always amazed at the range of comments on good reads about the same book. Some love, some are ho hum, and some are quite put out that they ever picked it up. Which gets back to the subjective part...

    Bless you and happy birthday once again!

  22. Kristen, That's a great rule of thumb - if you don't like it or feel you can recc. it, you don't review it. Well said. Also, I find it interesting that you find it helps better your writing when you review books. I've been hearing a lot about that lately in writing circles. That's what I tried to do with Maid to Match. I read Dee's first book, A Bride Most Begrudging, when it first came out several years ago. But only as a reader for the enjoyment. This time I read her latest with a reviewer's eye. A very different experience! And one that will help my own writing.

    Thanks a bunch, Kristen. Can't wait for your next review your way:)

  23. Love that, Britt - God's work transcends our tastes. Well said!

    I agree that oftentimes we hover on dishonesty for fear of offending. I struggle with that myself. As an author I've really had to go round and round about endorsements for my own books. I don't seek them because I don't want to put someone in a position where they have to sugarcoat something or be false. You won't find any endorsements on the back cover of CML. Some authors love them. Personally I often find them misleading.

    Hope your writing is going very well. You do have a way with words:)

  24. Ruth, So glad you chimed in here. I will say that you are the first person I go to about a review of any book or movie I'm interested in because you give such a balanced and meaty dissertation:) I LOVE your longer reviews because you are so good at them and provide such unusual insights - like you are the author or producer and live in the head of the character!! You haven't steered me wrong yet:)

    Your passion for books comes through and that is so very important. Without passion everything would be lifeless, in shades of grey. Need to get over to your blog again! Bless you.

  25. Renee, I'm amazed that you have only been online such a short time. You've made so many connections! I'm so thankful to be one of them. Your link to hot guys reading books made me laugh out loud. Can't you just see one of them holding a copy of Morrow in her hot pink dress:)?! Somehow Lael was a little less threatening in homespun.

    BTW, the male reviewer is over at Borders. You may read it and scratch your head and wonder why I was so thrilled. But it is the WAY he wrote about it that touched me. TFD really reached him. He understood what I was trying to do. Plus he's a history-loving, jazz-listening, politic-following, 35-40 something male who I admire immensely for even picking up a book with that kind of cover!

    Thanks so much, Renee. XOXO to you!

  26. Adge, I'm so glad to know how you found TFD in the first place. That is the great mystery for writers. Often we hear from readers but forget to ask or they don't tell how they found our book. I find knowing that so helpful and interesting.

    CBD is the best catalog around for Christian retail. They have an amazing fiction editor (had a radio interview with her last summer) and she is so passionate about books and her faith. It's a privilege to even be in their catalog.

    "Appalling" is such a great word when describing the lack of reviews for really amazing books. It always makes me sad when I go to a site and there are few reviews or no reviews, too. Thank you for having a heart for authors who are left out. It doesn't always mean their work was lacking.

    Have a wonderful time perusing that CBD catalog. I hope I get mine soon:)

  27. Amber, The compliment sandwich concept is cool! As a former English teacher, I really like that and wish I'd done that. Kind of like Heather's art critiques.

    You have such an attractive, interesting blog I'm surprised that you're a beginner! I hope you enjoy it and keep going. It really is an amazing tool. And such a blessing for so many. I think what I like about reviewer blogs like yours is that every one has unique and different insights about books.

    There are so many blogs and so many readers but you may be the only one who reaches a particular person. And you may never know it because many are shy about leaving comments.

    So glad you enjoyed TFD. Hope you like Morrow just as much!

  28. Hi Lori, No reviews yet that I know of - just the CBD one so far. I'm awaiting Library Journal and some others but don't know when. I may not read reviews this go round but if you find one you like I'd love to know:)

  29. Mary, That's such a good idea about giving some bookmarks to bookstore owners to leave on the counter. Wish I'd thought of that:) Someone suggested taking them to church libraries, too, which I am going to do here. Bless you for that!!

    I know as an avid reader you are bound to come across books you don't care for. But how great that you've found a way to post about them and not discourage other readers - by just providing a synopsis, etc. I wonder if other bloggers who just provide back cover copy on some books instead of personal reviews feel the same? It's a very gracious way of handling things.

    Thanks so much, Mary, for everything.

  30. We Kentuckians must be pansies, Regina, because I'm the same way:) I really shy away from unhappy endings, etc. I can't write one as an author, either. I cried when I wrote Captain Jack out of TFD! I still don't think I'm over it. He's the reason I wrote CML. But no spoilers here:)

    I've heard so many good things about Janice's Weddings by Bella series. She has a great blog, too. I especially liked her latest post.

    Bless you and please soak up some of that Kentucky sunshine for me!

  31. Lynn Squire just posted on this today, too. Unless a fiction writer is acting as a paid (fiction) critic I am thinking it is not a good plan to post a negative review. However, with nonfiction, factual material, I think other professionals in that field are expecting their peers to give an objective appraisal, including negative findings.

  32. Laura,
    I love The Frontiersman's Daughter.
    You kept the story interesting. I did not want to put the book down and would loved to have read more. I am looking forward to your next book. Thank you for a wonderful book.

  33. Okay, before I type another word… I GOT THE BOOKMARKS!!!!! Oh Laura, THANK YOU, THANK YOU they are BEAUITFUL!!! Gosh, I can’t THANK YOU enough for taking the time to send them to me and I will treasure them ALWAYS!! I actually just got “A Tailor-Made Bride” in the mail today too and now I have a GORGEOUS bookmark to use in it ;)

    I’m embarrassed to say that I’m fairly new at writing book reviews and have only written a couple so far. I’ve done more “blog comment posting” than actual “bookstore website reviewing” ;) I’ve also emailed a lot of authors too. I find it more personal that way and I can treat them more like a friend rather than a student to be graded (I’m only 24, what do I know anyway? LOL). But I do want to start writing more reviews. And I’m DEFINETLY going to write a review for Morrow!! :)

    As far as posting a review for a book I didn’t care for… I just can’t do it! Goodness, if the roles were reversed I’d be devastated! I personally don’t take criticism very well, especially when I put my heart and soul into something. A quote by Tamera Alexander, (and you know that girl is downright quotable!) will forever echo in my mind, “Words, once spoken, can mend a broken life…or cripple it.” I wholeheartedly agree. I would HATE to discourage an author who has put their ALL into a book. It’s their baby! Goodness, I mine as well call them a lousy parent! So, if I don’t like it, well… I’m pleading the fifth ;)

    "Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad." (Proverbs 12:25)

    Amanda Stanley

  34. Carrie, Thank you for making the distinction here between fiction and nonfiction. As a psychologist, you know how important it is to be honest and factual in terms of professional writing. It truly is a whole different game. I will have to look up Lynn Squire as sounds interesting.

    Speaking of fiction critics, have you ever heard of the elusive Harriet Klausner? She often shows up as a reviewer for CBA titles but there is some debate in literary circles as to whether or not she actually exists:) I was hoping she'd do a review on TFD on Amazon which is where her reviews are found. No such luck:) Thanks so much for commenting here. You always have a fresh perspective!

  35. Amanda, I read the comments before fixing supper tonight and thought, "Oh no, where's Amanda?!" So you're my dessert tonight (everybody else is having chocolate cake)! Thanks for staying up late and commenting:)

    That quote by Tamera Alexander is so memorable and so true. I'm going to copy it and keep close. And I'm so glad to see the Proverb here about the same. Thank you for both!

    Books really are like babies. In fact, I can't wait to hold the finished copy of CML in my hands! I haven't seen the back cover yet - that's always a surprise - as is the spine sometimes. And I love seeing the dedication... Oh my, I could go on and on and on.

    So thrilled you like the bookmarks. If anyone runs out and wants more, I will gladly send. If you haven't gotten yours yet, they are coming. I'm doing mailing in batches to keep mailing costs down.

    Enjoy TMB, Amanda! The cover is so pretty! I have it in my stack right here, too.

  36. Shirley, I can't thank you enough for commenting here and giving me such wonderful words to end my evening online. They really have made my heart glad, as Proverbs says. Bless you for that!

    I'm so glad you liked Lael and Ian and their story. I miss them and wish I could just be a reader again and enjoy their story from that perspective again. Hoping you enjoy Morrow's story just as much.

    Please come back by. Hope you have a blessed evening!

  37. I wouldn't say I have ever reviewed a book but I definately do have an opinion when I read one...some are good and some not but like you said you can't please everyone all the time,
    Be watching my blog for my give away in the next few days and of course another sale to make payment to vet...had to take Bianca today for her yearly shots and exam but now everything should be O K until November...hard to get ahead when you have to have Revolution for 4 dogs every month...maybe I should try and write about raising 9 kids and then going through it with pets as empty nesters :)

  38. Laura, thanks so much for your feedback - that means a lot coming from a wordsmith like you. :)

  39. Love this topic, Laura.

    I started writing book reviews for my church newsletter when I realized that people from our church weren't frequenting our church library. When I asked people "why not," the general answer was that "Christian" books lacked the depth & complexity of secular novels. Being an avid reader, I knew there was some truth in that, but I also knew there was a gold mine of undiscovered books & authors. By reviewing my personal favorites, I was able to introduce a new world of reading to those who should be the Christian writer's target market.

    So, now I will only write reviews of books I perceive as being 5 star (which are few), books that say something beyond the story, books I want to own, stories I could read multiple times. I don't need a happy ending, but I do want some message of hope.

    Ironically, when I read reviews, I generally avoid the 4 & 5 star reviews as they are all about praise, whereas the 1,2, & 3 star reviews sometimes have substance. It's easier for me to decide whether I'm going to read a book based on a meatier review. I don't let the subjectivity of the reviewer sway me.

    Hope that makes sense. :)

  40. I actually do like writing reviews, but they are more for my benefit than anyone else's. I started keeping a "best reads" blog as a reading journal of the books I LOVE. My comments help me, an aspiring writer, focus on what worked in each book. I think reading and journaling about what I read helps me hone my craft.

    I have eclectic tastes -- though I pretty much have to have romance in there somewhere. LOL. And I feel like I can see strengths in most everything I read. That's what I review about.

    Since January I have read 54 books from cover to cover. 47 of them made it onto my bests reads (2010) blog. Seven of them weren't up to muster for one reason or another and I didn't include them (though I keep a private log of what I felt went wrong in the book, because I can learn from that as well). I would never give them a negative review...I don't feel that is my place as a reader. I just know what works for me...and what doesn't.

    I just started to post reader reviews on and am screwing up my courage to try Now that you've said it takes three or more positive reviews to undo one negative one, I'll be more diligent in posting reviews wherever I can. I feel like that's one way I can support my favourite authors, and a publishing industry that has brought me such uplifting enjoyment.

  41. Brenda, You are such a breath of fresh air. You've addressed something I've struggled with for many years and why I mostly read outside the CBA. You have, within the last few months, alerted me to some very fine authors I've overlooked within the CBA. They offer beauty and substance, depth and truth in their work - and a very satisfying reading experience. There is such a need for what you're doing. I'm thankful that your scope is broader than simply your church and that you share your reading finds on your blog. That is a ministry in itself.

    Thank you so much for taking time to share here. It really benefits and blesses us all.

  42. Kav, I really appreciate your thoughtful, upbeat attitude about reviewing, always keeping the author in mind and giving back to the industry in heartfelt ways, etc.

    I so enjoy your blog - it is one of the best kept secrets in cyberland:)Since you are such a prolific reader, you tend to review everything I end up reading. WOW - 54 books since the start of the year is quite a feat! I read way more research than fiction but wish I could accomplish even half that number!

    So glad you're reviewing more on CBD and Amazon. I encourage everyone to follow suit and post about books they love. It really is fun to write reviews and other readers really appreciate them. Authors, too:)

  43. Ruth, You are so welcome. And thank you for calling me a wordsmith. I like that!

  44. Nancy, Thanks for the heads-up about your blog:) I think you should seriously consider writing your memoirs with all that you've experienced. Or at the very least magazine articles! But I've told you that before...

    Bless you and happy crafting and reading to you!

  45. Laura,

    "You have, within the last few months, alerted me to some very fine authors I've overlooked within the CBA. They offer beauty and substance, depth and truth in their work - and a very satisfying reading experience."

    Ooh. Who are the authors you've recently discovered?

  46. Hi Laura,
    Got my CML bookmarks in the mail today! Thanks so much. I'm still using the ones you sent from Frontiersman's Daughter a while ago. I'm not up on blogging, etc. so I'm not sure I'm doing this right. I cannot wait for Amazon to ship CML, which I pre-ordered. Is there a way I can just email you? Susan Snodgrass

  47. Hi Susan, So glad you got the bookmarks! Thanks so much for getting in touch here. And yes, please email me at or I'm thrilled you pre-ordered CML! Bless you bunches:)

  48. Lori,
    Good question! Click on Spire Reviews in my blog roll and you'll go to Brenda's blog and see some books even you have overlooked:) Now your TBR pile will topple, for sure!

  49. Lori, Forgot to mention Brenda's "Authors who dare to write different" list. I've never been more thrilled to make a list in my life:) You'll see it on her blog page, left.

  50. The mints are good, but I really loved the candy Bella Notte had before the mints. There were Italian fruit candies, about the size of the eraser on a pencil. They were hard, but once you sucked on them for a while, they became chewy. They've had the mints since at least 2008 though.

    I am so intrigued that you wrote CML because of Captain Jack. I'm getting very anxious to read it now.

  51. To review or not to review, that is the question _ LOL!

    Well, you know I review books, Laura. I love doing it as my desire is to promote quality fiction and its authors. It has changed my reading experience though so every now and then I love picking up a book I have bought or one I've already read, to just enjoy reading for reading's sake and not be thinking about a review.

    As for positive and negative reviews. If I have nothing good to say, I won't write a review but I will let the publisher know why I am not reviewing it. I have an obligation to my readers to write reviews with integrity so if there is something that I personally didn't like or feel fit with the story I will say that. That being said, I love reading all genres and more often than not find a lot of things I enjoy about a story.

    Okay, enough from me ;-)

  52. Are you pulling our collective legs about a Harriet Klausner? What does she do - randomly write rave reviews and no one can find her? Is she an writing urban legend? BTW fresh meant smart aleck where I grew up, and that sounds about right. Ha!

  53. Collective legs, indeed, Carrie:) Like that! She might be an urban legend but SOMEBODY is posting all her reivews. There are some Harriet wannabees on the web but she is quite elusive. According to Wikipedia, she was ranked #1 reviewer on Amazon till recently when they changed their system. Apparantly, she's posted some 21,000 reviews. And not all of them are positive. Interesting, huh? You just never know when she's going to strike next!

  54. Rel, I'm thrilled to see you here! You have such a ministry with reviews and not only within Australia. Your presence is felt in many ways here in the USA. Long before I was published, I knew about you and was reading your reviews. But I still can't figure out how you can also be an attorney, mom, and all the rest:)

    You said something very important - you review with integrity. Don't forget passion:) Your reviews are really quality and I've gone on to read a book because of them more than once. Also, the CBA relies heavily on your endorsements and reviews. I am sending you copies of the Baker catalog pages and the Romance Sells catalog pages that have you in them (along with some bookmarks).

    It's a privilege to have you take time to stop here. That just delights me. Bless you and you read and review and all you do!

  55. Sorry about the typo, Rel. Can you tell it's early morning and I have 4 teenage boys in my house?

    Maybe they will bring back those little candies - they do sound better:) Tomorrow is your big day. I am praying sunshine for you, some good books, and a heaping helping of pasta!

    Hmmm, maybe I should have dedicated CML to Captain Jack? He really was my inspiration for writing it. I'm intrigued you're intrigued:)

  56. Hey Michelle! LOL, I think I know what Italian candies you’re talking about?! :) They are called Chipurnoi Puntini! And they’re kinda like Italian jujubes :) I’ve never been to Bella Notte (I live in Rhode Island and I don’t think we have one up here?) but in our capital city there’s a place called Federal Hill- Rhode Island’s “little Italy” ;) and there are A LOT of wonderful Italian restaurants up there!! After dinner they too give you these little candies and we just loved them :) You can get them on Amazon- we love them so much we often order them from there! I think if you type Puntini into the search bar on Amazon it should take you right to them. Don’t laugh, we don’t drink I swear, but our favorite flavor is the “zambuca” ones, but the fruity ones are good too :)

    Amanda Stanley

  57. Gosh, I gave that whole shpeel about the candies and forgot to say Happy Birthday! I tell ya, sometimes I can't think and blink at the same time :)


    Amanda Stanley

  58. Amanda, FUN to know the name of that irresistible Italian candy - only I don't think I'll ever be able to pronounce it:) If you're ever near a Bella Notte, please go, though it sounds like you have a wealth of Italian restaurants of your own. I didn't know until recently that you could order food/candy and things like that on Amazon. I thought you could only order books - lol:) Seriously, my head is in the sand sometimes. I know Michelle will appreciate the birthday wishes. That is so thoughtful of you. You're next:)

  59. Oh, thank you so much Amanda!!! You've made my day. I had never thought of looking for them on amazon. I might order some next month. I wonder how long it would take me to eat a pound of them, lol. Not to mention how many would be in a pound.

    Bella Notte's actually just local. So if you're ever in horse country, you definitely want to stop by! Here's the restaurant's website

    Thanks for the birthday wishes, Amanda!

  60. Hi Laura, hmmm, I think reading book reviews helps me decide what book I would like to read. I've never written one, just word of mouth to a friend, etc. I'm not sure I would be very good at it either, lol!
    Some books surprise you...they may be difficult to start, or "get into" because of the flow, or they just don't seem that interesting from chapter one, but I usually make myself read on because someone has taken the time to write it, and that is an art/skill I appreciate.
    And most of the time, I'm glad I did!...finish reading the book, that is, :)

  61. Suzanne, Like you, I often find it hard to get into a book as some first chapters just don't grab you, but I try to always stay with a book for the reasons you mentioned. The least of which is that it is somebody's baby:) Thanks so much for looking forward to Morrow. Not too much longer now. Your name is in the hat!

  62. Laura - thank you for your kind words! I appreciate them greatly.

    It is easy to write good reviews when you have great material to work with and TFD was certainly that :) Like everybody else, I can''t wait to read Morrow's story and post the character spotlight.