*Blog Tour Review: “A Spell in the Country” by Heide Goody and Iain Grant + Awesome International Giveaway

A Spell In The Country

Today’s blog tour, hosted by Rachel’s Random Resources, has a wonderful giveaway attached to it, but the novel, A Spell in the Country, by Heide Goody and Iain Grant was an unexpected delight to review.

A Spell in the Country master cover - smaller

Dee is a Good Witch but she wonders if she could be a better witch.

She wonders if there’s more to life than Disney movie marathons, eating a whole box of chocolates for dinner and brewing up potions in her bathtub. So when she’s offered a chance to go on a personal development course in the English countryside, she packs her bags, says goodbye to the Shelter for Unloved Animals charity shop and sets a course for self-improvement.

Caroline isn’t just a Good Witch, she’s a fricking awesome witch.

She likes to find the easy path through life: what her good looks can’t get for her, a few magic charms can. But she’s bored of being a waitress and needs something different in her life. So when a one night stand offers her a place on an all-expenses-paid residential course in a big old country house, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

Jenny is a Wicked Witch. She just wishes she wasn’t.

On her fifteenth birthday, she got her first wart, her own imp and a Celine Dion CD. She still has the imp. She also has a barely controllable urge to eat human children which is socially awkward to say the least and not made any easier when a teenager on the run turns to her for help. With gangsters and bent cops on their trail, Jenny needs to find a place outside the city where they can lay low for a while.

For very different reasons, three very different witches end up on the same training course and land in a whole lot of trouble when they discover that there’s a reason why their free country break sounds too good to be true. Foul-mouthed imps, wererats, naked gardeners, tree monsters, ghosts and stampeding donkeys abound in a tale about discovering your inner witch.

Quill Reviews

A Spell in the Country reminded me a bit of The Golden Girls, if they’d been British, witches, and had a foul-mouthed imp following them around (Sophia doesn’t count).

The Golden Girls
Image from Flickr

At times, Jizzimus (the imp), was a little bit too crude for my personal taste, but that was easy to overlook in light of the rest of the story.

The premise of the story was amusing and played out skillfully, with the world building giving a lovely feel for the way witches deal with daily life.

Don’t be fooled by the cartoonish cover. The story is not for children, and unless teenagers have changed drastically since I was a teen (definitely possible), I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone younger than 16. Hell, even at my age there were comments and scenes that had me blushing in mortified horror, mostly instigated by the imp whose tastes tended towards the perverse.

Having said that though, by the end of the book, Jizz had somehow endeared himself to me in spite of his foul mouth, and I found myself thinking that having an imp around might be quite fun. Especially if I can send them out for fudge and chocolate in the middle of the night.

As for the witches; I absolutely adored their individual personalities, their snarky comments to and about each other, and in general, appreciated how their friendships developed.

Dee, Jenny and Caroline are the main characters of course, and I enjoyed their individual personalities, but in this story at least, the side characters stole the show for me.

Norma was a firecracker of note, and my personal favourite; closely followed by Sabrina, whose dialogue I kept reading out loud, trying to get the “Ur” sound right. (If anyone can direct me to a recording of an upper class British, “ur,” I’d appreciate it.)

Having said that, the way the three very different witches came together in the most unlikely manner, left me feeling like I’d known them for years and would happily sit down with them for a cup of tea.

After checking for rats of course.

A Spell in the Country gets four out of five feathers.

Grab your copy on Amazon UK, or Amazon US.


For a change, there are goodies involved in this giveaway! It’s always exciting to get a gift in the mail, especially when it contains fun items like these:

The Witch’s Pamper Package, worth over £100 contains…

  • A lacy gothic bracelet
  • A witch’s hat fascinator
  • A pair of green and black stripy tights
  • A Yankee candle in “Forbidden Apple”
  • A set of wand-shaped makeup brushes
  • A gothic notebook (for spells!)
  • A bookmark featuring a squashed witch (with just the legs sticking out!)
  • A gemstone ring
  • A gorgeous coffin-shaped vegan eyeshadow palette from Lunatick Cosmetic labs (with a bat-shaped mirror!)

Enter here

*I received a free copy of the book from Rachel’s Random Resources in exchange for an honest review.

About the Authors

A Spell In The Country - Iain and Heide by Pete C b+wHeide Goody is the stupid one in the writing partnership and Iain Grant is the sensible one. Together, they are the authors of seven novels, two short story collections and a novella.

The ‘Clovenhoof’ series (in which Satan loses his job and has to move to Birmingham) has recently been optioned by a Hollywood production company. Their latest novel, Oddjobs 2: this time it’s personnel, was published in August 2017.

Heide and Iain are both married, but not to each other.

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Clovenhoof-Books-285544508177333/

Website: http://www.pigeonparkpress.com/

Twitter: @HeideGoody and @IainMGrant

*Blog Tour Review: “Living in the Past” by Jane Lovering


Living In The Past.png

I’m thrilled to be closing off a blog tour hosted by Rachel’s Random Resources, this time with a book review of Living in the Past, by Jane Lovering, published by Choc-Lit.


Do you ever wish you could turn back time?

Grace Nicholls has a few reasons for wanting to turn back the clock … although an archaeological dig at a Bronze Age settlement on the Yorkshire moors is not what she had in mind. But encouraged by her best friend Tabitha, that’s exactly where she finds herself.

Professor Duncan McDonald is the site director and his earnest pursuit of digging up the past makes him appear distant and unreachable. But when a woman on the site goes missing, it seems that his own past might be coming back to haunt him once again.

As they dig deeper, Duncan and Grace get more than they bargained for – and come to realise that the past is much closer than either of them ever imagined …

Quill Reviews

Living in the Past is a lovely story about grief and healing from loss, as well as the impact we have on other people’s lives, often without realising it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the humour woven throughout the story, often giggling out loud at the wordplay between the characters.

For a change, the romantic hero in the story was actually not a complete jerk to begin with, and even when Duncan was being a bit “crabbit” as he referred to himself, he actually wasn’t running anyone down or being condescending.

Grace Nicholls, as the leading lady, was a bit of an odd one. On the one hand, I could understand and sympathise with her grief. On the other, the way she expected everyone who cared about her, to leave her alone to wallow in misery, was mildly painful. Her understanding and acceptance of Duncan’s past and the way it impacted on his present was lovely.

Tabitha and Millie, as supporting characters, were absolutely delightful, although I was a bit bewildered by Grace not sharing her experience with Tabitha, when they’d been friends for so long and she’d relied on her so heavily during her grieving process. The pair of them sort of just dropped out of sight once the relationship between Duncan and Grace established itself, and that was mildly disappointing.

The interludes in the past were wonderful, and I loved seeing Hen’s story unfold, though the reality of who she was, wasn’t hard to guess, so don’t expect too much of a mystery. I enjoyed the way Lovering dealt with time travel, how it all came together at the end, and that everything was neatly wrapped up. It almost felt like there should have been a bow wrapped round the final page.

All in all, Living in the Past dealt with some difficult topics in a poignant and hopeful manner, and it richly deserves its rating of four out of five feathers.

Grab your copy here.


*I received a free copy of the book from Rachel’s Random Resources in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Jane Lovering with booksJane was born in Devon and now lives in Yorkshire. She has five children, four cats and two dogs of variable sanity. She works in a local supermarket and also teaches creative writing. Jane is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and has a first-class honours degree in creative writing.

Jane writes comedies which are often described as ‘quirky’. Her debut, Please don’t stop the music, won the 2012 Romantic Novel of the Year and the Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year Awards from the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Jane’s novels include: Please don’t stop the music, Star Struck, Hubble Bubble, Vampire State of Mind, Falling Apart, How I Wonder What You Are, I Don’t Want to Talk About It, Can’t Buy Me Love, Little Teashop of Horrors and Living in the Past.

Social Media Links:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/janelovering

Website – http://www.janelovering.co.uk/

*Blog Tour Review: “Hiding” by Jenny Morton Potts

I’m joining you again for another blog tour hosted by Rachel’s Random Resources, this time with a blog review of Hiding, by Jenny Morton Potts.

hiding cover


A gripping psychological thriller with chilling twists, from a unique new voice.

Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.

This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens?

Quill Reviews

I’m honestly not really sure how I feel about Hiding.

On one hand, I really loved the psychological thriller aspect of the story. It was very well played out, and I appreciated the revelations as they played out.

On the other, I struggled with the narrative style; and particularly the nature of Rebecca, and indeed, her whole family life. It struck me as oddly bizarre, and a lot of the time, I found myself wondering if Rebecca was actually going to end up as the killer herself.

I suppose that with the secrets that were ultimately revealed, and the true reasons why the Brown children had to live with their grandparents, and the fractured reality of their lives, Hiding did a very good job of displaying that to the full, from the very beginning.

Truthfully, I found myself more inclined to appreciate Keller’s story, and his degeneration into a psychopathic killer, which obviously had me wondering whether I wasn’t better suited for the psych ward than a blog tour.

I liked the twist at the end, but felt it possibly needed more closure, but also: how on earth do you heal a lifetime of deception and depravity in just a few pages? Perhaps just as Hiding did; by leaving it to the reader’s imaginations to see where the characters’ lives take them.

Hiding gets four out of five feathers.

Grab your copy here.

International Giveaway:

Enter the giveaway to win one of three e-copies of Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts.

*I received a free copy of the book from Rachel’s Random Resources in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Hiding - jennyJenny is a novelist, screenplay writer and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realised she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with family.

She tries not to take herself too seriously.

Social Media Links –

Website – www.jennymortonpotts.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/jmortonpotts

Facebook – www.facebook/jennymortonpotts



*Blog Tour Review: “The Betrayal” by Anne Allen


The Betrayal Banner

Two book reviews in one day? Yes, folks. I’m that good.

(Also, I may have forgotten to make sure I hadn’t already booked a blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources, when I signed up for these, and may I just say how glad I am that I got to review both these amazing books?)

The Betrayal by Anne Allen is just… I don’t even know where to begin.

The Betrayal Cover LARGE EBOOK (1)


Treachery and theft lead to death – and love

1940 – Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…

1942 – Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return.

1945 – Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.

2011 – Nigel and his twin Fiona buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…

Searching for the true owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother’s ghost to rest?

Who betrayed Leo?

Who knew about the stolen Renoir?

And are they prepared to kill – again?

Quill Reviews


When I read the blurb of The Betrayal before signing up to review it, I was hesitant. My previous forays into reading historical novels set during WWII have been disappointing.

Fortunately, I also like challenging my reading zones, so I decided, what the heck?

Man, am I glad I did. Allen had me turning page after gloriously written page until four in the morning! And not just because I had a deadline to finish it by!

The book reads as a standalone, so don’t let the fact that it’s the sixth book in the series put you off. The only way I knew it was part of a series was because of the cover (and it said so at the end.)

Allen’s characters, from Fiona, to Leo and his wife Teresa, to Nigel, who’s not quite corporeal anymore, are all deeply human, and wonderfully written.

The transitions between past and present are perfect, and the revelations that come, one after the other through the course of the book, tying Leo’s story into Fiona and Nigel’s, were so well depicted that through most of the story I was either on the brink of tears or on tenterhooks waiting for Nigel’s killer to attack Fiona.

The themes of grief, betrayal and ultimately, healing, were dealt with so well; and the elements of mysticism and what I fondly term “woowah stuff” were so relatable because they were just an accepted part of daily life for Fiona and her friends.

The romance which weaves through the tale builds slowly, and Allen is careful to ensure that it doesn’t detract from the true story, which is actually Leo’s. Fiona’s life is just the medium through which it is so wonderfully told.

Throw in art, spiritualism, a bit of romance, horses, beautiful houses, healthy relationships and amazing food descriptions in just the right amounts, and you’ve got a recipe for a novel that I will probably be buying in hard-copy because it was just that good.

The Betrayal gets a rare, and well-deserved, five out of five feathers.

If you like stories that challenge your perceptions of life, death, and human nature, you’ll love The Betrayal. Grab your copy here


Enter the giveaway to win a signed copy of The Betrayal by Anne Allen.

*I received a free copy of the book from Rachel’s Random Resources in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Iphoto for email

Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children, and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby.  Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.

By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist, but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, six having been published and the seventh, The Inheritance, is due out in 2018.

Social Media Links

Website: www.anneallen.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Anne-Allen-Author-176883759173475/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnneAllen21

*Blog Tour Review: “Nature of the Witch” by Helen T. Norwood

Nature of the Witch

I’m so excited to be part of this blog tour for Nature of the Witch by Helen T. Norwood.

Hosted by Rachel’s Random Resources, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into when I agreed to review this novel.

Let me just say, the blurb doesn’t do the story justice.

Nature Of The Witch AMAZON LARGE

Many years ago, magic prevailed in Britain. It was a time when chosen women followed a path forged by Mother Nature herself; a time of witchcraft, of the brotherhood of the Gwithiaz and of the terrifying Creatures.

This has all passed from memory a long time ago. But now, magic has returned. Kiera is the first witch the world has seen in centuries, while Jack must learn the ways of the Gwithiaz. They must not only master their crafts, but also overcome their differences and work together if they are to survive the dark enemy that lurks in the shadows.

In the rugged Cornish landscape where it first began, the two face the dreaded Kasadow: an ancient evil that has awakened and is ready to destroy them, and their magic, once and for all.

Quill Reviews

Nature of the Witch began with a prologue, which read a lot like a history lesson with some make-believe elements thrown it. It was a bit disconcerting, and I remember wondering if I was going to be able to enjoy the novel if that was the start of it.

And then the real story began in 1994, from the perspective of Jack, who learns he is a member of the Gwithiaz in a rather alarming manner.

Crazy old mentor? Check! Discovering he’s a member of a supernatural group of immortals? Check! Deciding he’s crazier than the old man for believing him? You betcha!

With both Jack and Kiera, Norwood kept their skepticism drawn out for as long as she possibly could, until they were presented with undeniable proof of who they really were.

In Jack’s case, it took twenty-odd years, but I really appreciated the fact that he didn’t suddenly become a magical warrior with instant downloads of warrior skills. He was found by his mentor twenty years before Kiera came into her abilities, and he spent that time training every day with Kitto.

As for Kiera, by the end of the book, she still hadn’t mastered all her powers, which again, was actually a pleasant change from the usual “instant perfection” normally encountered in tales like this.

I was mildly irritated by Kiera’s attitude at points through the story; she sometimes struck me as a spoilt brat, who really needed a wake-up call that the world didn’t revolve around her and her “woe is me, my daddy died and my life sucks” moments.

At least, it irritated me until  I realised it was because I saw myself in her, and recognised the process of grief she was going through and how much it literally does suck and make it so hard to function.

Another win for Norwood: things weren’t suddenly made right when Kiera came into her abilities. If anything, it complicated them and there were times during the story when I was actually talking out loud to Kiera. Okay, so I was yelling at her for being an idiot.

There were little things that bothered me throughout, but I’m an extremely nitpicky reader, so I’m not even going to bring them up as relevant to anyone except me.

The ending! There’s an epilogue. It’s awesome. I want more.

Basically, for a fantasy novel that deals with witches and Kasadow and Gwithiaz in the modern world, Nature of the Witch blew my mind. I am so looking forward to the rest of the series!

Nature of the Witch gets four out of five feathers.

A fantasy that’s firmly set in reality, with characters and a plot that will pull you into the world and leave you wanting more. Grab your copy here


Enter the giveaway to win a signed copy of Nature of the Witch by Helen T. Norwood.

*I received a free copy of the book from Rachel’s Random Resources in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Nature of the Witch - Author Pic

Helen lives in the UK with her husband, two children and one diva-like cat called Tiger. Helen, like many others, was captivated in her childhood by books from the likes of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton and any books which took her to new worlds and showed her places of magic and mystery. She has enjoyed writing and creating her own magical worlds from a young age. She is currently writing the second book in the ‘Nature of the Witch’ trilogy which will be out soon.

Find her on Twitter or Goodreads.


Double Cover Reveal – A Falling Friend, A Forsaken Friend – Sue Featherstone & Susan Pape

Two covers in one day? You guessed it!

Thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to be part of this! There’s a giveaway at the end!

A Falling Friend

There are two sides to every friendship.

After spending her twenties sailing the globe, making love on fine white sand, and thinking only of today, Teri Meyer returns to Yorkshire – and back into the life of childhood friend Lee. Plus, there’s the new job, new man – or three – and the guaranteed lump sum of a bursary for her academic research piece on the way. Life is first-rate.

What could possibly go wrong?

Going out on a limb to get best friend Teri a job at the same university seemed like a great idea. But it doesn’t take long for Lee Harper to notice a pattern. Teri seems to attract trouble, or maybe she creates it, and Lee can see exactly where things are spiralling – downwards. But Teri’s not the sort to heed a warning, so Lee has no choice but to stand by and watch.

And besides, she has her own life to straighten out.

For fans of BRIDGET JONES, this ‘witty’ chick lit has been described as a ‘rollicking good read’ and is the first in the FRIENDS trilogy following the lives of two thirty-something women, who, despite their close friendship, don’t always see eye-to-eye.

The Cover

AFF cover


A Falling Friend is available to purchase on Amazon UK, Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.

A Forsaken Friend

AFF2 Cover

No-one said friendship was easy.

Things can’t get much worse for Teri Meyer. If losing her job at the university and the regular allowance from her dad’s factory isn’t bad enough, now her ex-best friend has gone and stolen her ex-husband! Well, to hell with them all. A few weeks in the countryside at her brother’s smallholding should do the trick – and the gorgeous and god-like neighbour might help.

But then there’s Declan, not to mention Duck’s Arse back in Yorkshire…

It’s not as if Lee Harper set out to fall in love with her best friend’s ex-husband. But, for once, her love life is looking up – except for all the elephants in the room, not to mention Mammy’s opinion on her dating a twice-divorced man. Perhaps things aren’t as rosy as she first thought. And now with one family crisis after another, Lee’s juggling more roles – and emotions – than she ever imagined.

Maybe sharing her life with a man wasn’t such a grand idea.

The FRIENDS trilogy continues in this heartwarming and hilarious hoot as two best friends navigate men, careers, family and rock bottom in this brilliant sequel to A FALLING FRIEND.

A Forsaken Friend is available to purchase on Amazon UK, and Amazon US.

About the Authors

Sue Author Pic

Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines, and in public relations.

More recently they have worked in higher education, teaching journalism – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity University.

The pair, who have been friends for 25 years, wrote two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (both published by Sage).

Their debut novel, A Falling Friend, published by Lakewater Press, has been followed by a second book, A Forsaken Friend, in their Friends trilogy.

Sue, who is married with two grown-up daughters, loves reading, writing and Nordic walking in the beautiful countryside near her Yorkshire home.

Susan is married and lives in a village near Leeds, and, when not writing, loves walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales. She is also a member of a local ukulele orchestra.

They blog about books at https://bookloversbooklist.com/

You can find both Sue and Susan on Twitter: @SueF_Writer and @wordfocus


One winner will receive an e-book of A Falling Friend and an e-ARC of A Forsaken Friend as well as wine voucher!

Go here to enter!


Positive-negative book reviews: What are they, and how do they help you?

As I delve into the world of book reviewing, I’ve been noticing a trend among authors to get rather despondent if reviewers give their books less than four stars on the rating scale.

As an author myself, I can completely relate to wanting everyone to absolutely love my books, but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.

As an editor and reviewer, I can tell you right now that a positive-negative review is far better on the rating scale than a besotted and raving five star review will ever be (at least where other prospective readers are concerned).

First off, what is a positive-negative review?

This is a review that garners three or fewer stars on the rating scale, but; and this is important, still ends the review with positive feedback for the author.

When writing a positive-negative review – I really need to come up with a shorter name for that… PNr? That works. Now, where was I?

When writing a PNr, the reviewer will typically start with a list of “don’t likes” or, negatives. Some of these may be personal preferences, others will be technical such as editing mistakes. Whatever it is about the book that put the reader off, will be listed first.

To end the PNr, the reviewer will focus on aspects she did like. Whether it’s a relationship between characters, the humour in the writing, or even the style of writing, these are the characteristics that will balance the review from being negative, to being positive-negative.

A review that’s written in this format, is really helpful to both authors and readers, in spite of the sting that can come with the critiques and lower rating.

Why are positive-negative reviews good for authors?

A PNr gives a balanced perspective of a story that some critical readers will often overlook if reviews are too positive.

The Writing Cooperative states:

[Customers] will usually first note the number of total reviews — as a gauge of popularity — and then look at the average rating, and then possibly browse the content of the reviews. If they do, they normally read (more likely scan) one or two of them. And if they are like most people, they skip the positive ones and read a negative one first, before going back to a positive one (if they even do that).

A PNr; in this case, is really beneficial based on this trend, because if your rating is low, but the review ends on a positive note, readers are more likely to be willing to give your book a chance to let them decide for themselves.

Gigi Griffis posted the results of a really great survey on her blog, which states:

As for what we’re looking for in those reviews…mentions of typos and bad grammar are (by far) the thing most likely to put us off (self-published authors take note: hiring a copy editor is well worth it). A dragging middle (25%), unbelievable plot line (21%), ending people hated (21%), and unlikeable main character (20%) were also significant detractors. And 16% of respondents said they don’t want to buy a book with a cliffhanger ending.

A quick caveat: PNrs should not dip below three stars unless the book is literally a hot mess of poor grammar, atrocious spelling and terrible formatting that make it painful to read.

As Neal Wooten states in this article for Huffington Post:

If a book is well-written and well-edited, it should never get less than a three-star review. Just because you were not able to tell what the story was about from the book description, or if the story didn’t appeal to you as much as other books, is no reason to give a professional book a one or two-star review. That’s just petty. Stories are subjective, and just because it didn’t appeal to you doesn’t mean it won’t appeal to someone else. Explain in your review why you didn’t like the story. That’s what reviews are for.

Not only that, but PNrs often offer some really useful feedback, which, if you’re serious about improving as a writer, you may be able to implement in future projects. Obviously, take this with the DIWTTTSOM pinch of salt (Do I Want To Tell Their Story Or Mine?).

Why are positive-negative reviews good for readers?

As a reader with very limited time on my hands to read a book just for the sake of reading it, I love PNrs.

I will very seldom buy a book that only has positive, rave reviews. I’m a critical reader, and deliberately avoid the best-sellers list, seeking out indie authors and self-published books in an effort to support writers who are doing what I aim to do. In cases like this, I admit to assuming (wrongfully, I would hope), that if the smattering of reviews are all four stars or more, they’re written by friends and family who are supporting the author.

Unless those reviews are exceptionally well-written, I’m more likely to be wary of buying a book that only has positive feedback.

As a disclaimer, there are readers who claim to only read books with 4+ ratings on the bestsellers list. If there’s a lower review in there, they’ll bypass the book entirely. In my opinion, this is grossly unfair to new, or little known authors, as they’re the ones you’re skipping by judging books on these criteria. It’s also incredibly limiting to your ability to read widely, but that’s a rant for another day.

Why are positive-negative reviews good for reviewers?

As a reviewer, part of what you’re trying to cultivate (I may be wrong, here) is an ability to think critically about a story.

Rating books based on your personal opinion is all well and good, as long as you recognise that your review is subjective.

PNrs allow you to take a step back from your emotions, review both positive and negative features of the book for a reader who may not necessarily share all your opinions, and then give a rating that is still true to your preferences.

Not only does writing a review like this give you the advantage of considering all the options, but it also allows you to provide a far more satisfying five star review for the books that truly earn it.

As Wooten’s article states:

A five-star review should be for a book that has everything: good writing, good editing, and a story that makes you want to read it again and tell your friends about. Some people are too generous, which is generally not a bad trait to have in life. But I’ve looked at all the reviews of some reviewers to find that they’ve given a five-star review to all 30 books they’ve read. And while it’s very polite, it doesn’t serve the purpose for potential new readers. Seriously, nobody could be that lucky.

To summarise, reviewers generally really want to like every book they read. We don’t like criticising books for the sake of it; and if we do give a PNr, please acknowledge it for the advantages it carries, and the time it took to write.

For examples of some PNrs I wrote, take a look at this review, and this one.

As a reader, what sort of reviews make you sit up and take note of a book? I’d love to know your thoughts on PNrs: do you find them useful, or would you prefer rave reviews?