Carole P. Roman Speaks about Reviewing

Carole’s Comments on Reviews:

I started reviewing books on a whim. Books were an integral part life in our home. Both my mother and grandmother were avid readers. I read anything I could get my hands on and then would sit with them to discuss the book. My mother was my reading partner until she passed. After she had died, I found a certain loneliness in reading as I had no one to discuss the books. It was more of a personal experience. It never occurred to me to join a book club or even read reviews online.
I never noticed the reviews on Amazon when I bought a book. Book purchases were based on subject or genre. It wasn’t until I looked on Amazon to see the reaction of readers to my own books that I realized the value of a review.
The impact of reading other people’s reviews crystalized – they were a valuable tool in helping a consumer decide whether a book would interest them.
After a trip through my personal library, I tried to pick books I felt comfortable to review. There were so many old friends that kept me company or made the world’s worries disappear for the few hours. It was hard to pick which ones I wanted to share.
At first, I wondered if anyone would read what I had to say. Once that first review was posted, I noticed my rankings were somewhere in the millions. I realized my reviews would not have much impact. I posted as much as I could. They began to add up, as did the helpful votes.
I began reading other prolific reviewers, learning what worked and garnered the most helpful hits.

Writing a review is a big responsibility.

Some people enjoy trashing a book, pointing out all the things they didn’t enjoy. Liking a book is subjective, it is rooted in personal taste and preferences.
When reviewers write things like ‘this book was horrible- don’t buy it,’  it sounds judgmental. Just because one person may not like a book, doesn’t mean another might enjoy it.
A lot has to do with genre, style, and the mood the person is in at the time.
I have shifted genres throughout the years, loving it at one point and disliking it intensely the next year.

Knowing that author put their heart and soul into the book, it’s only right to leave a fair review.

The lowest score I will give a book is three stars, and if it can’t make even that grade, for me, I simply won’t review it. I wouldn’t want to be the cause that influences a buyer not to try it.
The result of these efforts has been astonishing. I have become a Top Reviewer on many of Amazon’s of the sites. The reviews have gained momentum, resulting in steady spots in two magazines featuring my reviews.
Publishers have written asking for reviews before books are published.
More importantly than that, reading books written by indies has helped the careers of people with slim budgets who can’t afford to advertise.
Reading and reviewing indies is like lending a helping hand to struggling writers who are trying to bring their work to the public, without much help or support.
There are some delightful books out there, many of them would be lost in the sea of all the other books being published.

Indie authors don’t have it easy.

They have trouble promoting and marketing their books. Partnering with my social media consultant, Julie Gerber, we decided to write about our experiences as authors. Navigating Indieworld has yielded a new blog radio show with the same name, as well as a new magazine called Indie Author’s Monthly.
Reviewing is fun. I think of writing reviews as practice. If you can please an audience with these small blurbs and develop a following, can a best-selling book be far behind?

A Little More about Carole P. Roman:

Carole P. Roman is the award-winning author of the Captain No Beard series. Both Captain No Beard-An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate’s Life and Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis have received the Kirkus Star of Exceptional Merit. The first book in the series was named to Kirkus Reviews Best 2012. Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis has been named to Kirkus Reviews Best of 2015. Each book in the series has won numerous awards including the NABE Pinnacle Award, IAN Award, Moonbeam Award 2014, National Indie Excellence Award Finalist, Shelf Media Outstanding Series Award, ForeWord Review Five Star and Finalist in the Book of the Year, and Reader’s Views Children’s Book of the Year 2013. Roman is also the author of the award-winning non-fiction culture series If You Were Me and Lived in… that explores customs and cultures around the world. She has co-authored a self-help book, Navigating Indieworld A Beginners Guide to Self-Publishing and Marketing. Carole is now circling the media stage as she has taken off with two radio shows on PodFire Radio (Let’s Say Hello To Our Neighbors and Navigating Indieworld) and is starting a new magazine called Indie Author’s Monthly on Magzter.com. She lives on Long Island with her husband and near her children and grandchildren.

Carole’s Links:

Audiobook Reviews: Swept Up by Kayla Dawn Thomas

Introduction:

I don’t generally read romance so I can’t compare it to tons of other books. That said, I thought it was pretty good.

Summary:

This is a complicated book. Webster Baker and Kara Deleray meet in a very unusual way and their relationship stays cool, then rocky for a while.

Additional Comments:

– The beginning could be seen as the adventures of Web picks up the pieces of Kara. Every couple meets some way. Web almost runs over Kara with his street sweeper. The introduction of Web takes quite a bit but it’s worth it.
– Kara’s relationship with Darren didn’t exactly put her in a flattering light. Some people are probably going to have issues with her being a professor and him being a grad student.
– Romance isn’t a genre I necessarily gravitate to. That said, I’d categorize it as mild/medium heat level. It wouldn’t land on a “clean” fiction list, but the physical side of the relationship is handled with care.

– I didn’t care for the way Kara’s family was portrayed, (ie. that Christian = judgmental) but there are mitigating circumstances explained later in the story. She was a realistically flawed character.
– A plot point or two could be considered the “expected unexpected” but it works here. You’ll probably find yourself rooting for the couple.

Pros:

– The author includes some pretty heavy-hitting topics. (Alcoholism, need for love/acceptance, mental illness and it’s effects on family, etc.) All of these are also handled with relative grace.
– The main character’s struggle with alcohol is genuine, but I personally got annoyed at her a few times. This tells me that the author has some skill at creating realistic characters. Web’s a little too saint-like to be realistic, but I think that’s fitting. He’s not quite knight-in-shining-armor status, but he’s up there.
– I heard the audiobook. The narrator wasn’t my favorite, but she does a hands-down awesome job at male voices. (It might be the best I’ve ever heard from a female narrator.)
– My favorite scene by far is at the cowboy bar.

Conclusion:

Kara and Web’s journey together is a worthwhile one to watch if you enjoy romance stories.

 

Special Offer:

If you want the audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge. Note, this will not be featured on the main list but it is available in the Matchmaker Program.

If you’re an author with an audiobook you’d like featured on the weekly list, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

For a limited time, I’m offering a fantasy book to anybody who supports Audiobook Edge.

2016 Movie Mini-Reviews

*Note: I’m an Amazon reviewer, I’m just used to a 5 star system*

*The dates I saw the movie are in parentheses.*

*As usual, I don’t own any of the images. I got them via google searches.*

As much as possible, I will try to keep these mini-reviews spoiler-free, but no firm promises. Most of these films have long-since left theaters and been picked apart every which way by critics and movie lovers alike.

tfa-lego

Star Wars Ep VII: The Force Awakens

(1/2; 1/5; 1/12; 1/19; 1/26; 2/2; 2/16; 2/22; 2/29; 3/7/16)
5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: A Stormtrooper and a scavenger team up with an adorable orange droid to bring the Rebellion vital information. Judging by the amount of times I saw this movie in theaters, I’d say I loved it. It’s kid-friendly. Yes, it’s very reminiscent of Star Wars Ep IV: A New Hope, but in good ways. The new characters: Rey, Finn, BB-8, Poe Dameron, and Kylo Ren are largely hits. The comic relief is handled with a deft hand. There’s a struggle and both a tired Rebellion and New Order ready to deal each other what death blows they can.

 zootopia

Zootopia

(3/15/16)
3.5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: A bunny cop takes on stereotypes to expose an evil plot to set Zootopian society on its ear. It’s a solidly good movie, but there seemed to be hidden agendas that were about as subtle as a neon sign. I typically try to overlook such things and just sit back and enjoy, but this movie sort of kept throwing it in your face. It’s not a bad message, but I go to the movies for entertainment not moral postulating.

 bm v superm.jpg

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

(4/1/16)
3/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: Batman and Superman are pitted against each other by someone with a twisted mind. It’s okay. I honestly don’t remember all that much about it. I enjoyed it while in the theater, but I didn’t run home to Batman or Superman toys, not that I’d do that anyway.

 Jungle bk.jpg

The Jungle Book

(4/19/16)
4/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: A boy raised by wolves makes dangerous enemies simply by being human. A beautiful return to a classic cartoon. I kind of think I liked the cartoon version a bit better, but this stays true to much of that classic.

hm winter's war.jpg

The Huntsman: Winter’s War

(4/26/16)
3.5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: The Huntsman returns to battle the Ice Queen. I’m probably in the minority here in actually liking this movie. It’s not a super-deep thinker. The fight scenes are decent. The comic relief falls a little flat, but overall, it’s a worthy follow up to The Huntsman. Fantasy movies are almost as hard as video game movies to get right. (Unless it’s Harry Potter, then it’ll make money anyway.)

civil war.jpg

Captain America: Civil War

(5/10; 5/17/16)
4.5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: Captain America and crew are sharply divided when the world turns against heroes and a council hands down some pretty strict oversight rules. Although not as good as the first, it’s an interesting sequel. Marvel does a nice job of weaving in a large cast of beloved characters and making them relevant. The action sequences are great and the plot has a few layers.

id-resurgence

Independence Day: Resurgence

(7/2/16)
3.5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: The aliens Earth sent packing 25 years ago are back with a vengeance. Suffers from being a sequel, but stays true to the original in key ways. Cast is very good. The mythology expands a little. Not sure it made enough movie for them to attempt making it a trilogy, but it took a few decades to get a sequel so you never know.

secret-life

The Secret Life of Pets

(7/16/16)

3.5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: Privileged animal companions end up in quite a scrap when they become lost in NYC. I appreciate this more having seen it while actually in New York City. Entertaining but not memorable. For some reason (maybe I’m just old??), the new animated films don’t have quite the sticking power with me as the old school ones. I think Frozen is the last one I can think of that really stuck out as fantastic.

moana 

Moana (12/27/16)

4/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: A chieftain’s daughter embarks on a grand adventure to write some mythical proportion wrongs brought about by one demi-god’s misdeed generations ago. Amusing. Beautiful. The songs are lovely but not the sort you’ll find yourself humming in the shower. The comic relief is a tad forced but it works. The chicken is hilarious.

RO title.jpg 

Rogue One (12/16; 12/17; 12/19; 12/30/16)

5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: A band of Rebels go on a desperate mission to give the galaxy hope once again. I have determined to make this the last movie I see of 2016, so I’ll include it last even though that means some of this will be out of order. Somewhat unfairly, I think people are naturally going to compare this to The Force Awakens and find Rogue One slightly wanting. While in a straight up duel between the two I might be tempted to side with TFA too, the comparison’s not exactly fair. The movies fulfill different purposes. TFA expands on Star Wars mythology and gives the Star Wars fans hope that our beloved saga will continue on in steady hands with Disney at the helm. Rogue One is a backstory. It tells a tale we’ve long known had to be out there and answers some deep, burning questions that could crop up during Ep IV: A New Hope. I don’t think it will have as long of a run in theaters as TFA because it’s really a film aimed at the massive amounts of adult fans. TFA fulfills that role (aimed at fans) as well as has a general audience appeal. Rogue One is way more violent. That said, I loved it. I loved it differently than I did TFA, but once again, I will be spending quite a few afternoons in theaters immersed in a galaxy far, far away.

Conclusion:

It’s been a pretty good year for movies. What’d you think?

What movies in 2017 are you looking forward to?
Of course, I’m interested in the new Star Wars movie, but I’m also sort of interested in Hidden Figures, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Logan, Lego Batman, and The Boss Baby (though I’m not sure about seeing that one in theaters).