12 August 2017

August Break

I'm sad to say  that Discovering Diamonds will be hibernating - but pleased to say - only for August!
I'm off on a short holiday....

but I have scheduled some articles, some 'did you miss' items of interest and a few other odds and ends, so do keep calling in from time to time. (Why not subscribe so you never miss out on a good read? Fill in the form - top left on the side bar!)

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Looking Ahead

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There are going to be a few changes to Discovering Diamonds from the 1st of September (when normal service will be resumed!), mainly because running the site is taking up rather a lot of my time, but we will still be reviewing lots of fantastic books so don't worry on that score!

The changes will be:
  • No reviews or posts at the weekend.
  • Providing I have the articles, our Guest Spot and Reader's Voice will now be posted Mid-Month on the 15th of each month
  • Book of the Month will be posted on the last day of each month
  • Cover of the Month  will be posted on the first day of the month (starting again on 1st October for the September Reviews
Apart from that, things stay the same for now!

See you in September!

click here to return to the top of this 'Bookshelf'  - and browse the top menu bar where you will find several interesting articles. 

Or why not go back to our first review and then scroll through some of the wonderful books

(why not subscribe so you never miss out on a good read? Fill in the form - top left on the side bar!)

7 August 2017

Through a Reviewer's Eyes

Reviewer Richard Tearle talks about....


Purely on a whim, I applied, via Social Media, to a plea for reviewers of  books of historical fiction. Having always enjoyed reading about characters of history, I thought, well, why not? I soon found myself caught up not only in the stories that others had created, but the hoary problem facing all Independent (Indie) writers. Like many, I had assumed that Indie Publishing was either something akin to Vanity Publishing or books that weren't good enough for mainstream publishers. 

How wrong I was!

True, many such authors have had the humiliation of rejection, but publishers are busy people with schedules months, if not years, in advance. They can't take everything, no matter how good it may prove later to be.

Thanks to Helen Hollick (author of two books about late Anglo Saxon England, an Arthurian trilogy and the wonderful Sea Witch Voyages) who is the founder of the Indie section of this review blog, Discovering Diamonds, I was given some basic guidelines on how to judge a book – with or without a decent cover.  Back then, Helen managed a different indie review section, but came up with the idea for her own site when she parted company with the group. I plagued her quite relentlessly when I was unsure about a style, a story or other points of order. So, I was learning how to read a book at the ripe old age of, well, retired, shall we say. Because of this status, I had plenty of time on my hands.

From the beginning it was a learning curve – I enjoyed the book, but was it a great one? I likened it to Nadia Comenici, the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 – if you give a perfect score, how do you score something later which turns out to be better? So I read – or rather – wrote – between the (guide)lines and added my own rules.

I would always consider that the author had spent blood, sweat and tears in producing their baby – often financing and publicising it themselves. Therefore every effort should be made by me to honour that commitment from the author by being fair. If a book simply wasn't good enough – in my judgement – then I should state why but in a constructive manner. If, on the other hand, a book was really well written, with a good story and strong characters, should I rush into things and automatically recommend it for 'Book of the Month' (with the possibility of also becoming Book of the Year) or stop it just short of that declaring it as 'thoroughly recommended'? 

To distinguish, I try to find anything that might be wrong – an uninteresting cover (or one that obscures any blurb or other information), were there any typos, grammatical errors, basic formatting (any of the above in excess would be an automatic rejection – them's the rules) or any plot lines that simply did not add up. If it meets all the criteria so far, then I try and visualise it on the shelves of W.H.Smith or Waterstones: would it stand well in the company of established and more famous authors?

Impartiality is a vital watchword. Just because I happen to love tales of Vikings, Anglo Saxons or the later Plantagenets doesn't give me licence to give an automatic 'rave review'. Similarly, the Georgian period, Hanovarians generally as well as many other periods of history, whether British or other, which hold no interest for me mean that I cannot simply dismiss the book as 'boring'. I am reviewing the standard of writing, presentation and storytelling, not my personal preferences.

It can be hard sometimes. Nothing wrong with it, but just not captivating. The writer hasn't found his or her voice. And if I have to give it a poor review, it is not me who might get it in the neck from an outraged author, but Helen. [HH: note - all rude e-mails are automatically deleted!] Having said that, I have read some terrific books and, over the several years that I have been doing this, the standard is definitely improving. Out of some 150 books I have received for review, I think I have failed to finish only a few– and all for legitimate reasons.

There are good things, though. Through reviewing I have made many friends who are authors and whose books I have reviewed favourably. And though it is unpaid, what better way to spend one's time than reading?

Richard Tearle
DDRevs Senior Reviewer

If anyone is able to accept e-books (e-pub or mobi)
 and would like to become an #DDRevs Reviewer
please contact me HERE
(I am on vacation for a few weeks but your email will be answered asap)