Reviews

Early goodreads reviews for BAD TURN

I’m over the moon that the response so far for the Advance Reader Copies of the next Charlie Fox crime thriller, BAD TURN has been so positive. Here are some quotes from the reviews posted on goodreads. Click here to see the full reviews page, or right-click on any of the images if you’d like to download them to post on social media. Many thanks!

 

Reviews: the How, What, Why, Where and When

There will always be some authors whose work you absolutely adore. As soon as you hear their latest book is available for pre-order, you can’t wait to stake your claim on a copy. You get hold of your book on publication day and lock yourself away to devour it almost non-stop. Woe betides anyone who dares to interrupt you for anything short of the house being on fire.

I know—I’ve been there. With my favourite authors, I love their voice so much I’d read their shopping lists if I could get hold of them without coming across as a creepy stalker type.

And even then it might be worth it…

But when it comes to authors I’ve never read before, I’m always happy to take recommendations. Personal—from people I know and whose reading tastes mirror my own—is always best. But this is no longer always the case.

Why Review?

A survey carried out last year by BrightLocal showed that a staggering 91% of 18-34-year-old consumers now trust online reviews as much as personal word-of-mouth. Not only that but:

  • Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust the product.
  • 86% of consumers read reviews before making a buying decision. (And if you go back to that 18-34-year-old age bracket, the figure rises to 95%.)
  • 57% of consumers will use a business only if it has 4 or more stars.
  • 40% of consumers only take into account reviews written within the past two weeks.

So, if you’ve enjoyed a book and feel other people would, too, why not leave a review to help them not only find it, but have the confidence to give it a try? Your opinion matters, and carries just as much weight with potential readers as a conventional magazine or newspaper review.

Of course, whatever review you leave, it’s got to be an honest one. If you’re reading a series and didn’t enjoy the latest instalment as much as an earlier one, then say so. In fact, having a range of reviews (providing they’re predominantly positive, of course!) sometimes has more clout than only having five-star ones.

Reviews don’t need to be long or involved. They don’t need to examine the structure in great detail, deconstruct the narrative arc, or explore the underlying themes. (Some people enjoy going into this kind of depth, and it’s always fascinating for the author.)

A few sentences saying what you liked about the story and the characters works just fine. All reviews, short and long, help other lovers of books to decide what to read. After all, people read far faster than authors can possibly write, so there is always a desperate need for more fuel to feed the flames.

And reviews really help authors. Not only do they provide encouragement for those days when the words just will not come, but they also nudge sales along and help authors to be able to keep writing the books that you love.

Where Review?

So, would you be prepared to review books you’ve enjoyed on Amazon and goodreads? (Or, if you read on an ePub reader, on Barnes & Noble’s Nook site, or Apple Books, or Kobo?) Or maybe even a few lines on one of the crime-reading groups on Facebook?

If you’re already a regular reviewer, you’ll know exactly what to do, but everyone has to start somewhere, right?

How do I Review?

The first piece of advice I’d offer is always to write your review elsewhere and then copy and paste it into the review box on the appropriate site mentioned below. I know with reviews, or comments on blogs or other online forms, that it’s Sod’s Law, the longer the piece you’ve just written, the greater the likelihood you’ll press the Post button and your hard work will be eaten by the cyber gods, never to be seen again!

So, how to review:

On Amazon, go to the page of the book you want to review, scroll down the page and, on the left-hand side, you’ll find the star symbols and the [Write a customer review] button.

Click or tap the button, which will prompt you to sign in to your Amazon account, if you haven’t already done so. You’ll then get this screen to complete and fill in as you wish.

Goodreads helpfully provide full instructions:

On the book page on Apple Books, alongside the [Details] button is one for [Ratings and Reviews], as shown here for the first of my Lakeland trilogy, DANCING ON THE GRAVE:

Choose the [Ratings and Reviews] option, which gets you to this screen, allowing you to give a star rating. You can just rate a book one to five stars (one being low and five being high) and not leave a review. But, if you do, you’ll be asked to sign in to your account before you can go any further.

Scrolling down the book page on Kobo you’ll get to this section which invites you to share your thoughts and [Write your review].

And Barnes & Noble’s Nook book pages have a very similar option to be found by scrolling down the page to the [Write a review] button.

What kind of things do I say?

If you’ve read lots of book reviews, then you already have a good idea of what’s required. And, if you haven’t, just treat it like writing to a friend to tell him or her about the book you’ve just finished and why you think they ought to read it, too.

The only thing you don’t need to do is explain the premise of the story, as the book description on the page does that. And, please, don’t give away spoilers in the plot. Imagine reading a review of the movie The Sixth Sense, or The Usual Suspects, and it told you the big twist at the end before you’d had a chance to watch it for yourself.

It’s always a good idea to plan and write out your review in advance, so you can copy and paste it into the site. This saves the frustrating experience of having all your careful words disappear in a computer glitch.

  1. Decide the star rating for the book of 1 to maximum 5. This is not an index of quality, simply an indication of how much you personally liked the book.
  2. Think about a short title for your review that sums up what you think of the book.

Then choose a few of the following—or all of them if you want—and write in your own words:

  • whether you liked the book
  • what you liked most (or least)
  • how you felt about the characters
  • if you felt you could relate to them—did they seem like real people?
  • if you felt the story kept you turning the pages
  • if you recommend the book—and, if so, why?

Above all, your review should be honest, from the heart, and help other readers to discover new authors and new stories. And that, in turn, sells more books. So, everybody wins!

It’s perfectly acceptable for you to receive a free ARC so that you can produce your review. In fact, Amazon now requires you to mention this. So, if this has been the case, then at the end of your review, you should simply say: I received a free Advance Reader Copy of this book for review.

That’s it. Hope this has helped you with the What, Why, How and Where of reviewing. That just leaves…

The When

Reviews on goodreads can be added anytime as you work your way through your To Be Read pile. They can be added for books that are not yet published or ones that are on pre-order. Reviews on the retailer sites, like Amazon and Apple, need to go up as soon after publication as possible, to give a book that initial boost.

If you like an author’s work, they would really appreciate you saying a few words about their books. But other readers will appreciate it even more.

This week’s Word of the Week is esprit d’escalier, which can be literally translated as ‘the wit of the staircase’ and means the predicament of thinking of the perfect response too late to use it. It apparently comes from a time when the smartest of Parisian gatherings happened in mansions that had their reception rooms one floor above the ground. Thus to think of a witty retort while on the stairs meant you had already left the party and the moment to use it was past.

‘Sharp has outdone herself’ Randy Overbeck review of FOX HUNTER

It’s always a great thrill to receive a review on one of my books from a fellow author. This one came in a few days ago from US mystery author, Randy Overbeck. He emailed, opening with the words ‘I finished Fox Hunter and really loved it. Your best yet, I think.’

Here’s Randy’s review:

‘I’ve been a fan of thriller writer Zoë Sharp for years and have read several of her books, enjoying every one, especially the Charlie Fox series. Just to name a few, in First Drop, she took her readers on a dizzying roller coaster ride in the middle of an assassination attempt of a teen Charlie is guarding, and in Road Kill readers get strapped in for an electrifying ride atop a few sleek motorcycles when Charlie infiltrates a biker gang, almost becoming road kill herself in the process.

‘But in Fox Hunter, the latest in the series, Sharp has outdone herself. In this twelfth entry, Charlie Fox is sent on a mission to rescue—or apprehend—her old mentor and lover, Sean Meyer, who may have gone off the reservation and tortured and killed a man from their mutual past. A man Charlie has every reason to be glad is dead.

‘Her search takes her from the scorched landscapes of the Iraqi desert and up to the snowy mountains of Bulgaria. Along the way she encounters a Russian hit squad, an Iraqi teen raped and then disfigured and abandoned by her own family, black market antiquities smugglers and a former client, a major crime boss. One aspect that makes Ms. Sharp’s writing so sterling is her ability to transport the reader vividly to the settings of her narratives, whether it be the sights and smells of Disney World in First Drop or the twisting switchbacks of the Irish countryside in Road Kill.

‘In Fox Hunter, the scenes of the desert are real, I swear I could feel the hot sun and the grit of the sand in my face (and it was in the middle of a freezing January). Of course, my teeth practically chattered when I was riding alongside Charlie atop a snowmobile up the frozen slopes to a mountain fortress.

‘Did I mention that Charlie Fox is one tough broad? There’s a reason why Lee Child calls Charlie Fox a female Jack Reacher.

‘If you’ve not yet had a chance to discover this brilliant British writer, you’ve been missing some really great rides. And Fox Hunter would be a great place to start. But so would First Drop or Die Easy or Hard KnocksYou get the picture. By all means, if you want a thriller with a kick-ass heroine, add Zoë Sharp to your list of must reads.’

Randy’s new novel, Blood On The Chesapeake, book one of the Haunted Shores Mysteries series, will be out on April 10th. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon.com and Amazon UK.

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CrimeBookJunkie’s Top Reads of 2018

One of the most enthusiastic receptions I had last year to the new standalone crime thriller, DANCING ON THE GRAVE, was from the fabulous Noelle Holten otherwise known as CrimeBookJunkie. And I’m delighted to have been named as one of her Top Reads 2018.

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Top Reads 2018 @nholten40 #crimefiction #thrillers #WhatToRead #CrimeBookJunkie

Well HOLY SH*TBALLS – what a year it has been for crime fiction! I seriously can’t believe how many fantastic books I had the pleasure of reading this year – some new authors, some old faves – but all were phenomenal for one reason or another. I’ve been so busy this year myself, with work, writing and trying to keep on top of blog tour reads, that I’ve decided to just post the pictures of all the fantabulous books that got under my skin and stuck with me.

You can search for the reviews via my blog, but trust me – they are all worth reading!

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To read the whole of Noelle’s post about her Top Reads of 2018, visit CrimeBookJunkie.

Also, Noelle has her first crime thriller, DEAD INSIDE, coming out in May from Killer Reads/HarperCollins UK. Look out for it!

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For The Sake of The Game: PW review

Nice review in Publishers Weekly for the new Sherlock Holmes anthology, FOR THE SAKE OF THE GAME. I have a Charlie Fox story included, which is my take on the HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, called ‘Hounded’.

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For the Sake of the Game: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon

FTSOTG-front coverEdited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger. Pegasus Crime, $25.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-68177-879-2
King and Klinger’s entertaining fourth Holmes-themed anthology (after 2016’s Echoes of Sherlock Holmes) features well-known authors representing genres ranging from cozy to horror. The 14 selections include a poem, Peter S. Beagle’s “Dr. Watson’s Song,” which provides a deeper look at the doctor’s emotional life, and a comic, William Kotzwinkle and Joe Servello’s “The Case of the Naked Butterfly,” which continues the exploits of insects Inspector Mantis and Dr. Hopper. Fans of the BBC’s Sherlock will appreciate Alan Gordon’s take on Holmes’s relationship with Mycroft in “The Case of the Missing Case.” Reed Farrel Coleman weighs in with one of the more memorable contributions, the metaphysical “A Study in Absence,” in which a book editor asks for help tracing an author using the pseudonym of I.M. Knott. The best light entry is Harley Jane Kozak’s “The Walk-in,” featuring a Sherlockian British intelligence agent, which opens with the tantalizing line “It’s not every day that you walk into your apartment and find that your cat has turned into a dog.” This volume contains something for every fan of the Baker Street sleuth. (Dec.)

Shotsmag review of Dancing On The Grave: highly recommended

This great review for DANCING ON THE GRAVE just appeared on the Shotsmag website, courtesy of Sue Lord. She is another who hopes to see more of Grace and Nick…

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DotG-front-cover-lo-res“This intriguing novel is a departure from Sharp’s acclaimed Charlie Fox thrillers, as this ‘standalone’ narrative has an opening that is as powerful as it is insightful and disturbing.

“Newly qualified Crime Scene Investigator Grace McColl and DC Nick Weston are called out to investigate a shooting. On the first time they meet, they consider that there is something more complicated about this case, something troubling.

“It seems that there is a killer stalking the Lake District; one who carries a Gun.

“Nick Weston’s past has brought him to Cumbria, transferred from London. He is not welcomed by his police colleagues. They are wary of him, as he is an outsider. Grace is also an outsider; committed to her job—she is an intelligent woman who has something to prove, as there is a shadow in her past, one that requires redemption.

“The working relationship and chemistry between Grace and Nick is finely drawn, with excellent characterisation and observation, making the reader ponder if this is the start of a new series.

“The secondary characters are equally well developed including Edith, a lonely, unloved—and in some ways an unlovable teenager; and then there is the deeply troubled Patrick.”

To read the whole review on Shotsmag, click here.

Sue Lord

Sue Lord

 

Dancing On The Grave ends Niki Mackay’s reading slump

I’m delighted to get this review of DANCING ON THE GRAVE from crime writer Niki Mackay, author of the brilliant I, WITNESS. She said, “I haven’t updated my blog for ages, and I haven’t reviewed as I found myself in a bit of a reading slump! This absolute belter from Zoë Sharp put an end to said slump.”

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This story, interestingly, starts with an animal death rather than a human one. A local VIP’s dog no less and this unusual crime is a catalyst straight into the action.

We meet Grace, a diligent CSI collecting evidence, then Detective Nick Weston. They realise early on that the weapon used ought not to have been available and both are determined to get to the bottom of it. A jagged tale of secrets and suspicion builds from this point. They are hindered by the powers-that-be but start to get taken more seriously when someone starts shooting and killing people, and it becomes apparent that the killer is a highly trained sniper.

‘Dancing on the Grave’ is a pacey, well-plotted crime novel with all the twists and red-herrings you would expect from the genre. It has an almost old-fashioned feel to it, and yet everything has a contemporary spin. I think this is achieved not just by the very current issue of shooter crimes, but also by Zoë Sharp’s obvious insight into human psychology and her exploration of themes such as PTSD, loneliness, neglect, and eating disorders.

Read the full review here.

Last stop on the #BlogTour – The Short and The Long of It

Today is the very last stop on the #BlogTour for the latest standalone crime thriller, DANCING ON THE GRAVE. Today I’m the guest of Sean Talbot at Sean’s Book Reviews. Short and sweet…and long. He makes an interesting comment about the length of the book. What are your feelings on the subject? Is there an optimum length for a crime novel, or does it depend on the type?

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This book was good and had a lot of intricacies in (the) plot. I like the main character and think it was well written.

(I was) concerned with only one thing and that’s the length of the book. It seems that more and more books have to be over 400 pages which to me is very long for a crime book. I prefer shorter reads where we get to the meat of the story right away.

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#BlogTour Day13 – LJ Roberts couldn’t put it down

Well, we’ve reached the antepenultimate day of the #BlogTour for DANCING ON THE GRAVE. It’s been a blast so far. And that continued when I read the following opinion from top reviewer LJ Roberts on It Is Purely My Opinion. Yet another call for this standalone to be the first in a new series…

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Dancing on the Grave by Zoë Sharp

First Sentence:  It was a bad day to die…a perfect one to kill.     

Newly-qualified crime scene investigator Grace (McColl) is trying to prove herself after making a disastrous mistake on a previous case. Detective Constable Nick Weston has just been transferred to the Lake District after nearly dying during an investigation in London.  Neither of them can understand why they’ve been called out on a dog having been shot except for the presence of a local (MEP)’s wife. Upon examining the dog, it’s clear the shooter wasn’t the local farmer. But why is there a trained sniper in the area, and who was the real target?

It is difficult to say much about this book without giving away spoilers. My best recommendation is to read it cold without having looked at any information about the plot, impossible as that may be. And so…

An excellent opening is one which compels one to continue reading. Zoë Sharp has accomplished that goal in spades with her new standalone which is a remarkable combination of police procedural and psychological thriller.

Read the rest of the review here.

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#BlogTour Day12 – Judith Baxter “strongly recommends”

Well, we’re on the home straight with the #BlogTour for the new standalone, DANCING ON THE GRAVE, and I’m delighted to be hosted, yet again, by gracious New Zealander, Judith Baxter, on her Books And More Books blog. I also did a Q&A with Judith over on her Growing Younger Each Day blog, on July 18.

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If you have read any of my blog posts in the past, you will be aware that I am a fan of Zoë Sharp and a stalker of Charlie Fox the protagonist in her series. If you haven’t made contact with Charlie, I strongly recommend you do so now.

And now I have been given an advance copy of Zoë’s latest novel, a standalone called Dancing on the Grave.

 “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: ‘Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.’” So says master storyteller, Stephen King.

And the opening line in Dancing on the Grave by Zoë Sharp certainly does this. Her opening line? It is a bad day to die…a perfect one to kill.

Read the full review here.

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