Posted in Reading and Reviewing

A Book Review or A Personal Taste

Untitled DesignBook reviews are a complexity when trying to decipher if one wants to believe the reviews in researching whether to buy a book.

Recently I received a one-star review on one of my books that usually gets a four or five-star review on Amazon and Goodreads and Barnes and Noble. I read the choice review: This book must be written for 8-year-olds. They would likely get exhausted reading the same sentences over and over again. No real character development at all and Granny is boring.

I don’t have a hard time with a low star review if I feel a reviewer is fair.  I decided this review probably was fair because I chose to go further and research the person that left this little tidbit. The other books they reviewed were nothing like my cozy mystery. Most were a matter-of-fact or serious crime and mystery books. It was obvious to me that my writing style and choice of the genre were not something this reader would like. They titled the review “Don’t know why I finished this.” Frankly, I didn’t know why they did neither.

It differed from a recent five-star review: Granny is a senior citizen who still has a lot of life left in her, and she works undercover for the police, thwarting thieves. She’s a pure dee mess! How anyone could not like this book is beyond me, I’ve bought the series. I really like Granny!

If you look back through this reviewers books you will see that she enjoys the genre of cozy mysteries. So it would make sense she would like Granny.

If you are a reader or a consumer that reads the reviews so you can make a choice about a purchase then I would ask you to dig a little further. We as mystery writers are always looking for clues and you can join us in that pursuit when you read reviews.

Read more than one review and then check into the history of the reviewer. Are they leaving a review because the subject matter is just not their cup of tea and that is a reason they did or didn’t like it? Or are they leaving a review because they are fairly judging a product on its content and design or workability and not personal prejudice because of their taste?

I am not a sports fan. I would not be a good person to leave a review for a sports book no matter how well written. If I were leaving a fair review I would have to state that I am not interested in the subject and that my view was skewered by that fact.  If I felt it was poorly written but a good subject I would state that but I would also have to ask myself when I am leaving that review if I was being fair. Perhaps I wasn’t understanding the genre or the language of sports. The kind thing for me to do would be to leave no review at all because I probably could not view it with an unbiased eye.

As authors reviews can make or break us. We know we can’t always receive brilliant reviews but we ask our readers to be fair and kind. Authors have feelings too and we do follow our reviews and take into consideration constructive criticism to make our writing better for our readers. We love our readers.

I will say this about both my series of books, the Fuchsia Series and The Brilliant Series. The review in the second paragraph states there any character development in the book Because I write with the series in mind my characters develop over the series of books.

If you are patient while visiting Fuchsia you will find why Granny is the cantankerous person she is. What happened in her life and what personal hurtful experiences shaped how she acts. You will meet her family and the things that were kept hidden.

The same with Jezabelle and the characters from Brilliant Minnesota. What happened in Jezabelle’s youth that she didn’t marry the love of her life? Why is Phoebe rich and ditzy. What about her past is she hiding? Or Mr. Warbler and his secret that no one knows. All this is revealed over the series.

They are both filled with humor when addressing those subjects because in life if we don’t laugh during some of our sorrow it would take us under. My characters use humor to traverse life and the mysteries of their communities.

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When we talk about reviews, what we are really talking about is just a market report – it’s like reading about the new Lexus. You have to know what the guy writing the review cares about to understand his take. Does he like sports cars, or does he like Bentleys?

Mike Nichols
Read more quotes at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/mikenichol615423.html

 

Posted in Guest Authors, Reading and Reviewing

Meet Author Mary Koppel

I would like to welcome Author Mary Koppel to my Mysterious Musings Blog. Mary is new with Cozy Cat Press with her new book Volunteer To Die. Let’s welcome Mary and find out some interesting facts about her. Welcome, Mary.

Please share a little insight as to who Mary Koppel is?

Mary E. Koppel is an Episcopal priest, mommy, and a lover of travel, reading, and adventure. I really enjoy meeting people and listening to their stories. I also love to make people laugh because I love laughing.

What was the first thing you ever wrote that made you think perhaps you would like to be a writer?

When I was in high school, in my senior year, I wrote an essay for a poetry project in Dr. Hood’s English class. I had worked really hard on the project, but I felt pretty good about what I had written. Dr. Hood actually read it to the class. I think that was the turning point for me. I realized that if I put the effort in, I could write. It would take a few more years for me to put into practice what I learned and start writing regularly and then put myself out there.

What tweaks your creativity?

My creativity is tweaked by sunny days and flowers. When I read a really good book or watch a great movie, I am inspired to create.

Tell us about your latest book.

In my latest mystery, Denise Reed is an unemployed youth minister with too much time on her hands and driving her mother crazy in New Orleans. Her confidence is shot and she needs a push to get out of this unemployment funk. Through a chance encounter at Riverview, a luxury retirement home, she stumbles across the mysterious death of an aide at Riverview and a rash of small thefts there.

With a little help from a new friend, she takes a job at Riverview, embarks on her investigation and slowly regains her confidence.

What is the favorite thing about your main character?

I love Denise. My favorite thing about her is that sees so much humor around her. She is smart and kind. She wishes she was a Victoria Secret model, but who wants to eat that much celery?

What is your characters most serious flaw?

Denise doubts her skills, and yet she has so much to offer. I foresee her building up her confidence as the series continues.

What makes you smile?

My daughter makes me smile. She is at a glorious age, filled with really cute observations and cuddles.

What makes you mad/sad?

I feel mad/sad when I witness people being mistreated. I wonder why it is difficult for humans to be decent with each other.

Writers get discouraged at times. Have you ever been discouraged and what do you do about it?

I have been discouraged about my writing. In fact, for many years I was discouraged and did not write much more than in my journal. I learned the best thing one can do to work through discouragement with writing is to continue writing. Not every bit of writing is good, but writing builds upon writing.

What advice would you give to new authors or those dreaming of becoming an author?

I think that those dreaming of becoming an author and new authors should read, read, read and write, write, write. I wrote regularly in my journal. I also wrote for about 4 years on a blog with a friend before I had the confidence to write a book.

What are you working on now?

I have just started the second Denise Reed Mystery and I am also writing a novel of romantic suspense. This summer should be a lot of fun.

Did I forget to ask anything you would like us to know?

Gosh, I feel like you have asked me such wonderful questions. Thank you!

I like to end my interviews with an author’s favorite quote. What is yours?

My favorite author’s quotation is from Maya Angelou’s “Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now.” The quotation is: “Living well is an art that can be developed: a love of life and ability to take great pleasure from small offerings and assurance that the world owes you nothing and that every gift is exactly that, a gift.”

Volunteer to Die: A Denise Reed Mystery

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Denise Reed is over-educated, unemployed, and about to drive her mother crazy. Denise (and her daughter Emily) has been hiding out at her mother’s home in New Orleans, pretending to job hunt while feeling sorry for herself. One Tuesday she volunteers with her mother at the exclusive independent living facility, Riverview. At Riverview, Denise meets Louise Butler and learns about the mysterious death of an aide, Tina Moore and a rash of small thefts.

Only a few weeks before, the young aide reported a theft at Riverview and within 24 hours she was dead. Was it an accident? Or something more? Is someone really stealing at Riverview? With encouragement from Louise, Denise takes a job at Riverview and begins to investigate the thefts and Tina’s accident. Before she knows it, Denise is Tai Chi-ing her way out of her unemployment funk, crushing on a Jason Statham look-alike named Jason, and avoiding a pimple-faced thug. Will she be able to sort out who she can trust? Or will she end up like Tina Moore?

My Review

This is a great start for a new author. What better place to find mystery than in a nursing home? The main character is likable and believable. Didn’t we all drive our mother’s crazy at one time or another? When Denise teams up with one of the residents to solve the crime, look for anything to happen. I look forward to his author’s next book.

You can find Mary at:

Her blog

Twitter

Make sure you take the time to comment and I will give away an e-copy of her book later this week.

Thank you Mary for visiting us.

 

Posted in Guest Authors

Meet Author Al Boyer

I am very happy to have Author, Al Boyer on my blog today. His new series came out this year with his first book Death at the Presidents Church. Let’s get acquainted with Al Boyer.

Author Interview Allen Boyer

Please share a little insight as to who Allen Boyer is?

I’m a father of three children, which makes it a bit of a challenge to find time to write.  However, I am blessed to work with two different publishers as a writer, so I’ve been very fortunate with my books.  My current publisher is Cozy Cat Press.

What was the first thing you ever wrote that made you think perhaps you would like to be a writer?

In college, I had a short story published in a national magazine.  I was the only student in our English Department to get published at that level.  I think that’s when I realized I was pretty good at writing.

What tweaks your creativity?

Instrumental music helps with the writing process.  I can listen to the same piece for days if it helps me write some pages.  Also, people watching helps me to formulate some ideas for characters when I’m working on a book.

Tell us about your latest book.

Death at the Presidents Church just came out earlier this year.  I wanted to start a new mystery series since I’ve been working on another cozy mystery series for the last few years.  This book follows two sisters in Washington D.C.  They are long time socialites who have lived in the city for more than seventy years.  They are well connected and have met congressmen, senators and even presidents over the years.  So I thought it would be interesting to take these two ladies and give them a reason to get caught up in the death of a homeless person near their church.  It is through their social connections that their investigation leads them to some surprising discoveries about the victim and his connection to one of Washington’s most influential families.

What is the favorite thing about your main character?

What I like about Charlotte Dupree is that she is based on a good friend of mine who passed away many years ago.  She was also named Charlotte and even though she looked like a sweet grandmother, she had worked in the House of Representatives.  She was tough as nails and wouldn’t mince words on her political views.  I thought it was an interesting combination of looking grandmotherly but being tenacious and being a Washington insider.  The Dupree sisters would be the first to say they aren’t the smartest, but they know how to find information and they never give up when they want to find the truth.

What is your characters most serious flaw?

Charlotte and Ruth have a soft spot in their hearts for Mezzo, a cat that they’ve spoiled rotten.  I’m afraid they would let that cat do almost anything.

Is this a series and if you have another series how is this one different?

This is the first book in the Dupree Sisters Mystery Series.  I’m writing the second book at the moment and I’m afraid to say that poor Mezzo will get some competition from another cat that the sisters will take in.

While this series takes place in the nation’s capital, my other series I’ve been working on takes place at a retirement home in rural Pennsylvania.  The series is called the Bess Bullock Retirement Home Series and it has sold very well.  There are five books in the series.  I would best describe Bess Bullock as a sweeter version of Miss Marple in how they both use their powers of observation on the people around them.

What makes you smile?

My youngest son has some interesting thoughts that make me smile.  He’s in third grade so he has an interesting way of looking at life…that sometimes makes me laugh.  If you’ve ever hung around nine-year-olds, you know how they are.

What makes you mad/sad?

Losing my mom a couple years ago was probably the hardest thing.  She was a painter, so I credit her for my “creativity” genes.

Writers get discouraged at times. Have you ever been discouraged and what do you do about it?  

I’ve been lucky to never have writer’s block.  I really subscribe to the idea of writing down the bones of the story.  That first drafts won’t be perfect.  Just get it down, warts and all.  I know some writers want everything to be perfect the first time they write a story, but perfection can lead to writer’s block, in my opinion.

What advice would you give to new authors or those dreaming of becoming an author?

Writing is subjective.  What will work for you might not work for someone else.  For example, some writers like to outline every detail of a story and stick to it.  Other writers will let the story take on a life of its own and lead them to an ending they didn’t plan.  Everyone is different as a writer, so just use an approach that works for you.

What are you working on now?

Book 2 in the Dupree Sisters, which I’m hoping will be done late this year.  Also, outlining another Bess Bullock story.

Did I forget to ask anything you would like us to know?

I was reading a review about one of my Bess Bullock novels.  One reviewer was looking for more humor in this particular book and then went on to cite your Fuchsia Minnesota Mystery Series as a better choice.  That made me laugh.  Small world.

I like to end my interviews with an author’s favorite quote. What is yours?

James Joyce is my favorite writer.  The way he uses language inspires me.  A quote he gave that I think is a good road map for developing characters is:  “Mistakes are the portal of discovery.” That really is true for my fictional characters.

More about Al

Death at the Presidents Church

They have met many presidents. They are politically well connected. They were born and raised in the social circles of Washington D.C. So why have Charlotte and Ruth Dupree taken such an interest in the death of a homeless man? Drawing from their experiences with former presidents, along with their usual charm, the Dupree Sisters find themselves navigating through a labyrinth of Washington luncheons, social events, and gossip to uncover the facts behind a death that most people would overlook. Join the Dupree Sisters as they use their persistence and good manners to learn the truth behind The Death at Presidents Church.

 

 

 

You can find Al at Alan Boyer, An Author’s Blog

Make sure take the time to comment to win a Kindle copy of Death At The Presidents Church. And while you are at it follow this blog and sign up for my newsletter. Have a beautiful day.

Posted in Guest Authors

Meet Author Abby Vandiver

 

I am excited to spotlight Author Abby Vandiver on my new blog today. I am in the midst of reading Bed and Breakfast Bedlam, book one in the Logan Dickerson mysteries, and I am loving it. I will be purchasing the rest. I love funny, quirky characters and Abby’s characters remind me of Granny and Jezabelle in my series of books. Abby is a cozy writer and I would highly recommend her books. What makes her visit exciting is that she is introducing her sixth installment of this series, South Seas Shenanigans. I have to read fast to catch up. Welcome, Abby.

 

Author Abby Vandiver

 

It’s the sixth installment of an Amazon #1 Best Selling cozy mystery series by Author Abby Vandiver! South Seas Shenanigans continues the adventures of amateur sleuths, Logan Dickerson, archaeologist, and Vivienne Pennywell, aka, Miss Vivee – a five-foot-nothing, ninety-something Voodoo herbalist. 

Fans of this series have enjoyed the unusual, rarely heard causes of death that only Miss Vivee and her new husband can recognize, and this one doesn’t disappoint! Sail away on a Fijian paradise vacation with Logan, Miss Vivee and Mac as they suffer the shenanigans of a prankster, dance the Meke, and solve an untimely death. Oh, wait! Did I say “a” death? Make that two! Can you guess whodunit?

Additionally, Abby is offering a boxed set of the first three books in the series. Both South Seas Shenanigans and the Logan Dickerson Cozy Mystery Boxed Set are set to be released March 29, 2017. Meanwhile, Abby had only planned to write one more book in the series, but in listening to her fans, she has decided to continue writing the series a little longer. Check out her website for more information.

Cozy Mystery Boxed Set

 

 A little more about the Author:

Through her various occupations, Abby discovered her love of writing. She’d always been told she had a gift for telling stories, combining the two, she became an author.

Her debut novel, the mystery/sci-fi, In the Beginning, Book I in the Mars Origin “I” Series was an Amazon #1 bestseller. It was written on a whim, packed away, and rediscovered some twelve years later. After publishing it in 2013, Abby decided to make writing a full-time endeavor. She’s penned a slew of novels since then and has even more in her head. Although she writes mostly mystery, she’s written a historical/women’s fiction novel. It was co-written with author and friend, Kathryn Dionne under the pen name Kathryn Longino. Currently, she is working on her first cozy mystery series. There will be at least five in the series, three, Bed & Breakfast Bedlam, Coastal Cottage Calamity, and Maya Mound Mayhem have already been published and are Amazon international bestsellers.

Abby, a former lawyer, and college professor, has a bachelor’s degree in Economics, a master’s in Public Administration, and a Juris Doctor. A lifetime resident of Cleveland, Ohio, Abby spends all of her time writing and enjoying her wonderful grandchildren.

 

Posted in Guest Authors, Uncategorized

Meet Author, Abby Vandiver

Abby1I am excited to spotlight Author Abby Vandiver on my new blog today. I am in the midst of reading Bed and Breakfast Bedlam, book one in the Logan Dickerson mysteries, and I am loving it. I will be purchasing the rest. I love funny, quirky characters and Abby’s characters remind me of Granny and Jezabelle in my series of books. Abby is a cozy writer and I would highly recommend her books. What makes her visit exciting is that she is introducing her sixth installment of this series, South Seas Shenanigans. I have to read fast to catch up. Welcome, Abby.

Author Abby Vandiver
South Seas Shenanigans CoverIt’s the sixth installment of an Amazon #1 Best Selling cozy mystery series by Author Abby Vandiver! South Seas Shenanigans continues the adventures of amateur sleuths, Logan Dickerson, archaeologist, and Vivienne Pennywell, aka, Miss Vivee – a five-foot-nothing, ninety-something Voodoo herbalist.

Fans of this series have enjoyed the unusual, rarely heard causes of death that only Miss Vivee and her new husband can recognize, and this one doesn’t disappoint! Sail away on a Fijian paradise vacation with Logan, Miss Vivee and Mac as they suffer the shenanigans of a prankster, dance the Meke, and solve an untimely death. Oh, wait! Did I say “a” death? Make that two! Can you guess whodunit?

Additionally, Abby is offering a boxed set of the first three books in the series. Both South Seas Shenanigans and the Logan Dickerson Cozy Mystery Boxed Set are set to be released March 29, 2017. Meanwhile, Abby had only planned to write one more book in the series, but in listening to her fans, she has decided to continue writing the series a little longer. Check out her website for more information.

Cozy Mystery Boxed Set AmazonOrder Now

 

A little more about the Author:

Through her various occupations, Abby discovered her love of writing. She’d always been told she had a gift for telling stories, combining the two, she became an author.

Her debut novel, the mystery/sci-fi, In the Beginning, Book I in the Mars Origin “I” Series was an Amazon #1 bestseller. It was written on a whim, packed away, and rediscovered some twelve years later. After publishing it in 2013, Abby decided to make writing a full-time endeavor. She’s penned a slew of novels since then and has even more in her head. Although she writes mostly mystery, she’s written a historical/women’s fiction novel. It was co-written with author and friend, Kathryn Dionne under the pen name Kathryn Longino. Currently she is working on her first cozy mystery series. There will be at least five in the series, three, Bed & Breakfast Bedlam, Coastal Cottage Calamity, and Maya Mound Mayhem have already been published and are Amazon international bestsellers.

Abby, a former lawyer and college professor, has a bachelor’s degree in Economics, a master’s in Public Administration, and a Juris Doctor. A lifetime resident of Cleveland, Ohio, Abby spends all of her time writing and enjoying her wonderful grandchildren.

Amazon Author Page