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Reviews

Tori Eldridge on the Heart of Modern Action Thrillers

Crime thriller author, Tori Eldridge wrote this thought-provoking piece for Crime Reads. I was delighed to be mentioned:

“Most action writers are men, but it doesn’t mean women can’t write high action or realistic combat. Taylor Stevens (LIAR’S LEGACY) and Zoë Sharp (BAD TURN) have proven themselves with every book with the Vanessa Michael Monroe and Jack and Jill series for Stevens and the long-running Charlie Fox series for Sharp.”

‘I’ve always enjoyed action-packed thrillers, intriguing crime fiction, and complex mysteries, but I also enjoy cultural nuance, immersive settings, and deep relationships, more frequently found in literary, historical, or women’s fiction. When I set out to write The Ninja Daughter, I decided to write the book I wanted to read.

‘I wasn’t thinking about fitting into or busting out of a genre: I wanted to write a story about a Chinese-Norwegian modern-day ninja with complex family issues and a mission to protect. I wanted to set my story in a city that could serve as a microcosm for national, social issues and a macrocosm for my character’s own cultural diversity. I wanted to tell a gritty, urban tale; and I wanted it to be action-packed and entertaining.

‘So how does a debut author tackle such a lofty goal? This one read the works of those who succeeded before her—not just with ninja, but with high-tech science, fringe medicine, professional sports, and serious social issues. Great writers tell stories that inform, entertain, and keep the pace. These were the stories I wanted to read.’

Read the rest of Tori’s great article over on Crime Reads.

Female Heroes Are Fighting Back – Andy Martin writes in The Independent

I’m over the moon to have been one of the three female thriller authors interviewed for an article by Dr Andy Martin in The IndependentAndy Martin is the guy who shadowed Lee Child for his book REACHER SAID NOTHING, about the making of Lee’s Reacher thriller, MAKE ME. (Fascinating book, by the way. I have it on my shelf.) Andy has now done a second book about following Lee through the next book and movie, WITH CHILD. (I just ordered it!)

So, it was no surprise that Andy was going to get his teeth into the subject of female thriller protagonists and their authors in a thorough and thought-provoking way. He’s looked at the background and characters of myself, Steph Broadribb and Alex Callister.

Today’s female heroes are fighting back and sticking it to their male counterparts

Telling men to behave nicely hasn’t worked…so a trio of authors has created a new breed of literary hero: women who are prepared to hit back. Andy Martin talks to the writers

Photo: The Independent (Eve Watling)

Here is a brutal biological fact, the fruit of some evolutionary asymmetry: statistically speaking, men are bigger, heavier, and more muscular than women. They can run faster and they hit harder. So there is a crucial question in the post-#MeToo era that is yet to be properly answered: Can a woman fight back against a man and win? And the “fighting back” here is completely non-metaphorical. In a straight physical encounter between a man and a woman, can the woman ever hope to come out on top? The whole history of patriarchy is predicated on the assumption that the answer is no. There is a vast tradition of sexual violence that says, no way! But there are strong voices out there that say otherwise.

With the domestic abuse bill going through parliament, and “coercive control” now officially illegal, it feels like more than ever the right time for a new generation of hardcore female role models who aren’t just going to lie down or take it on the chin or turn the cheek any more. Think of Big Little Lies: wouldn’t it have been better for all concerned if Celeste had seriously kicked Perry’s arse for him? Broken his jaw or given him a black eye? And maybe Jane could have fought him off – or tasered him – instead of getting raped?

“You’re a woman,” snarls the serial murderer and rapist. “Women are weak, stupid, vain… I showed them who was in control… You think you’re equal to a man, but you never will be… You’ll scream and you’ll beg me to stop just like all the rest.”

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” retorts Charlie Fox.

Read the whole of this article at The Independent.

BAD TURN Blog Tour – Day10 – Crime Book Junkie adores Charlie Fox

Today is the finale of the Blog Tour for BAD TURN. Day 10. Thank you for sticking with me this far. Today I’m honoured to have the book reviewed by the fabulous Noelle Holten of Crime Book Junkie. Noelle is a best-selling author in her own right, so it’s a little bit like asking a professional builder to give their opinion on the work you’ve carried out on your own house…

Set mainly in New Jersey in the US, Charlie Fox is back and takes the reader on an adventure filled with fear, control, protection, anger, payback, manipulation, power, corruption and a search for the truth…but there is so much more!

Hells BLOODY Bells! With an explosive opening that instantly grabs the reader, Bad Turn will have you racing through the pages! The premise of this novel was intriguing and I loved how the reader learns a little bit more about Charlie Fox’s backstory which is then sprinkled throughout the novel—teasing you to carry on if you want to know more. Full of suspense and tension, the author once again has nailed it—a brilliant narrative and action packed read—it was like watching a movie in my mind! Superb!

I absolutely ADORE Charlie Fox—and you see a little bit more of a vulnerable side to her in this novel which makes you like her even more! Charlie is doing what she does best and accidentally uncovers a sinister ploy to kidnap a wealthy woman—the wife of an arms dealer. If she was hoping for the quiet life while house-sitting, she should have known better…after all, she IS Charlie Fox!  Determined as ever to see the job to the end, she comes up against some of the toughest characters, but they are no match for Ms Fox!

Read the whole of this review on Crime Book Junkie.

BAD TURN Blog Tour – Day8 – Jen loves a good thriller

Today is Day 8 of the Blog Tour for BAD TURN, and today is another review stop, this time with the excellent Jen Lucas of Jen Med’s Book Reviews. And wow, what a great review! I’m thrilled by her take on the character and the story.

Today it is my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for the thirteenth Charlie Fox nove from Zoë Sharp, Bad Turn. My thanks to Ayo Onatade for inviting me to take part and to the author for providing an advance copy for review.

My Thoughts

Oh how I do love a good action/thriller story, and one with a strong female lead is always an added bonus. Charlie Fox has to rate up there as one of those brilliant characters I can’t wait to hear more about. She is strong, determined, principled, sometimes helped along by a little luck, but more often than not saved by her own quick thinking and ultimate skill. I may have been late to the party, but I’m enjoying catching up. So when I heard that there was a new book on the horizon, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. And what a book it is.

Everything has changed for Charlie and when we meet up with her again she is down on her luck. Out of a job, she is living the . relative quiet life as a house sitter. Quiet that is, until she happens upon an ambush in the middle of nowhere and finds herself caught up in an unexpected gun fight. One thing leads to another and Charlie’s quick thinking and fast action leads to a job offer that she cannot afford to turn down. But nothing is quite as it seems with either Charlie, or the woman she is employed to protect and what follows is a mixture of mystery, action and high tension thrills that kept me hooked from the start to the finish of the book.

I really love the character of Charlie Fox. Author Zoë Sharp has created such a believable and, ultimately, likeable character that you absolutely want to go on an adventure with her. She is not infallible, capable of making the same mistakes as any other woman on the planet, especially when it comes to her feelings, but she is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to her skills in protection and defence. You can tell the author’s own experience, training and research has been put to perfect use here, giving you just enough explanation to put you, as the reader, in the heart of the action, but not so much as to bore you with the detail. It makes the action sequences more thrilling. Heightens the tension as you can practically feel every blow, hear the ticking of the cogs as Charlie works out how she is going to get out of the mess she is invariably in.

Read the whole of the review over on Jen Med’s Book Reviews.

BAD TURN Blog Tour – Day7 – Karen Cole Highly Recommends!

My Day 7 stop on the Blog Tour following the publication of the thirteenth Charlie Fox crime thriller, BAD TURN last week, is with the splendid Karen Cole at Hair Past A Freckle. Karen read the book to review for today’s post. I always wait for the verdict with bated breath…

I think it’s safe to say she quite liked it!

I’m thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for Bad Turn today, many thanks to Zoë Sharp and to Ayoola Onatade from for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

I loved the previous Charlie Fox story, Fox Hunter and have been eagerly awaiting her return in Bad Turn. This is the thirteenth book in the series but Zoë Sharp certainly hasn’t let her protagonist stagnate and I was looking forward to discovering what she would be up to this time around.

At the start of the book she has reached a crossroads in her career having quit her job in close protection with Armstrong-Meyer. Unfortunately the position also came with an apartment—and her former boss, Parker Armstrong had rubber-stamped her Green Card and firearms licence. Having been essentially blacklisted from the world of close protection, she is house—and cat—sitting in rural New Jersey. However, trouble has a habit of finding Charlie and when she becomes involved in the attempted kidnapping of Helena Kincaid, the wife of billionaire arms dealer, Eric, she quickly realises she has little choice but to accept the position she is offered working with the Kincaids as Helena’s protection.

It soon transpires that although the world of arms dealers is a shady one, the major players had at least reached an agreement to not involve their loved ones in their dealings. Therefore, the foiled ambush on Helena could trigger a war between some very dangerous people. Helena’s response to her new bodyguard is intriguing and not what I expected at all. After a terrifying encounter which resulted in bloodshed on both sides, it would have been understandable for her to be grateful for the reassurance of a highly trained companion but the situation with Mrs Kincaid isn’t that straightforward. At first she isn’t a particularly likeable character but revelations about her upbringing and her past experiences help to explain her attitude and I thought the relationship between the two women was absolutely fascinating.

Read the rest of Karen’s review on Hair Past A Freckle.

BAD TURN Blog Tour Day3 – Liz Loves Books

Day 3 on the BAD TURN Blog Tour is hosted by the delightful Liz of Liz Loves Books.

LizLovesBooks-banner

Today takes the form of a review. Here’s Liz’s verdict on BAD TURN:

“Another pacy thriller from Zoë Sharp—there’s been a few feisty yet realistic heroines popping up in books and long may it last but Charlie Fox set the standard and is keeping it high 13 books later.

This was brilliantly addictive, chock full of action without losing coherence of story and with some unpredictable twists and turns along the way.

Charlie Fox is such a great main protagonist, clearly defined and engaging and every book flies by, page turning quality in every one. I love that you are never quite sure where they will end up.

Really excellent thrillers. Recommended.”

Read the full post over on Liz Loves Books.

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.