Interview with Booklover Catlady, Maxine Groves.

Maxine Photo 1Today I’m delighted to welcome Amazon and Goodreads top book reviewer, Maxine Groves, to the blog. Possibly better known by her reviewing name, Booklover Catlady, Maxine devours vast quantities of books whilst also offering publicity and reviewing services to authors. She’s also taking the first steps towards writing her first book. Without further ado, lets begin the interview.

 

 

After working for so long in recruitment and advertising, what made you decide to focus on books?
After a successful career in advertising, copywriting then recruitment, and human resources at senior management level, I injured my lower back very badly in the workplace. Despite extensive treatments and physiotherapy unfortunately my condition cannot be rectified nor is surgery an option. I tried working part time for a year with my back injury as a Job Coach to young adults with disabilities, which I loved, however it got too much for me as other serious health conditions impacted me and I had to resign from the job. I was facing never working again.

During an extended period of bedrest after the first of five surgeries I have had in the last 2.5 years, I started reading avidly to help get me through. This led to reviewing after discovering Goodreads and then on to Amazon reviews. To my surprise, I quickly started to rank highly as a Top Reviewer and Most Popular Reviewer on Goodreads, then Amazon and authors and publishers were contacting me with books to read and review. This was like a dream come true for a bookworm like myself.

A successful horror author contacted me (after another horror author recommended that I review his book) stating that he felt I would be really good at book publicity and could I do some for him? I took this on and it was really successful, at this point I realised that all the work experience and business knowledge I had plus my copywriting and advertising skills meant I could do this for other authors also. I saw a gap in the market for a quality book review service which is what I kicked off with. I am passionate about helping authors achieve their goals.

 

What has been your biggest:
(a) life achievement
(b) book/reviewing achievement?
Oh wow! That is a hard one. I think my greatest life achievement has been consistently rising from the ashes after a lot of very difficult situations in my life and somehow turning difficult times into opportunity. Having physical disabilities, then being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 42 plus chronic pain, was not going to stop me from doing something meaningful with my life. I think of myself as a tenacious survivor.

I am also super proud of my 16 year old son who has Aspergers and ADHD and how far he has come and the self-belief he has instilled in himself. He also believes nothing is a barrier to doing what you love. I run groups on Facebook for adult women with Aspergers and want to leave a legacy of making a difference in the lives of these women as well as all the other Autistic people out there who think they have nothing to offer. They do!

My greatest book related achievement has to be making it into the Top Ten Top Reviewers and Most Popular Reviewers in the UK on a regular basis as well as having some of my reviews featured in the Top 50 most popular reviews on Goodreads. Recently I hit number 94 in the Top 100 globally on Goodreads which just blew me away! I am also extremely proud of being a Top Ranked Reviewer on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk especially as my first book reviews usually read something like “I really loved this book! Highly recommended!”  Continue reading

Book Review of Bloodwalker by L. X. Cain

 

bloodwalkerBook Description:
Lightning flashes. Another child disappears…

When Zorka Circus performs, its big top roars with laughter and cheers, but when it moves on, there are fewer children in the European towns it leaves behind.

Circus Security Chief Rurik suspects a killer hides among the international performers, but they close ranks—they’ve always viewed lightning-scarred Rurik as the monster. Nevertheless, he’s determined to find the culprit and stop them before anyone else dies and the only place he can call home is ripped apart by the murders.

Into Zorka Circus comes the Skomori clan, despised as gravediggers and ghoulish bloodwalkers. A one-day truce allows bloodwalker Sylvie to marry. Instead, she finds a body. Alerting others will defy her clan’s strict rules, break the truce, and leave her an outcast.

When more bodies turn up, the killer’s trail becomes impossible to ignore. Rurik and Sylvie must follow the clues—even if they lead to something unimaginable.

 

Book Extract:
On nearby streets, people left their offices and entered parked cars or waited at the bus stop. If any glance up at the peculiar form crouched on the church parapet, they’d betray no curiosity. That would be impolite – a violation of the keep-to-yourself code that held the country of radically diverse ancestries and cultures together. He’d be written off as trick of the light of maybe an extra gargoyle. The stone monsters sat atop the old facades in Budapest any way. Being mistaken for a monster was nothing new. Rurik was used to it.

The police presence and general alarm would be greater if they knew it was actually four children missing, not just one.

A little girl taken from a park in Northern Italy. A boy taken from a playground in Slovenia. A girl taken from an abandoned Slovenian train station a week later. And now a girl from Budapest. Continue reading

Interview with Tracy Fenton, the founder of THE Book Club.

TBC Header

You might be asking ‘who is Tracy Fenton?’ Well she is founder of THE Book Club on Facebook. This is a secret group that can’t be found via searching. The only way you can gain access is to be invited by an existing member. Tracy set the group up after becoming tired of the spamming and bad atmosphere of other groups that were too big to be moderated properly. After almost two years the group has become influential for authors and publishers – who often offer exclusive ARC copies of books to club members! The group is made up of a combination of authors and readers and has a really positive, supportive atmosphere.

So, I have asked Tracy (with no ‘e’ –  it’s important to remember that if you’re invited to join the group!) some questions so we can find out more about her, her reading preferences and how she reacts to meeting her favourite authors. Here’s what she said:

Tracy book What was the first book you read that made an impact on you?
Too many books to mention – however Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes was probably the first psychological thriller I had read and experienced some intense emotions including fear, dread and terror that it changed my entire reading tastes as prior to that book I was more of a chick-lit/rom-com type of girl. The Wronged Sons by John Marrs also had a profound effect on me. It was the first time I had ever been compelled to contact an author and tell him how much I loved his book. I messaged him via Goodreads and didn’t actually expect a reply and when he replied almost instantly telling me how important it was to hear from readers, my entire attitude to reading changed and I realised that authors were “human” too and needed love and support and encouragement.

Since setting up TBC, what has been your proudest ‘book’ achievement?
Again too many to mention. My first acknowledgement in a book, being a named character in a book, raising £10k for Cancer Research through our Charity Book Auction. Being contacted by authors asking for “my” opinion… really? Why me? Being contacted by members who tell me how much TBC has changed their reading habits and sometimes their lives.

Tracy with Peter James In a previous interview with #CrimeBookJunkie Noelle Holten, you say that you were a very shy child. Which author have you been the most shy or nervous about meeting?
I would have to say either Peter James (pictured with Tracy, right) or Lee Childs. I am a huge fan of both authors and meeting them at Harrogate last year was almost like an “out of body experience”. However, both Peter and Lee were absolutely wonderful and it was a pleasure and an honour to be able to meet them, have a chat and take some photos. Continue reading

My Top 10 Reads of 2015

As this is my last post of 2015, I thought I’d use it to share my top ten reads of the year. I’ve chosen one to receive a Special Mention and one is my Top Recommended Book of the Year. So, in no particular order:

 

1 CCooksonTo Be a Lady: The Story of Catherine Cookson
by Cliff Goodwin.

Book Description:
A biography of the bestselling author and northern cultural icon, Catherine Cookson. Following her story from her birth as illegitimate daughter of a South Shields woman who became an alcoholic in later life, through her career as a laundry worker, to her current star status, this work features interviews with the subject and original research, and reveals a great deal of fresh information.

Catherine Cookson is one of my favourite authors. I’ve read many of her books and own many of the film adaptations on DVD. The depth of detail in the research is amazing and it was nice to have snippets of interviews with Catherine throughout this book. I read it in April and you can find my 5* review here on Goodreads.

 

his kidnappers shoesHis Kidnapper’s Shoes by Maggie James

Book Description:
Daniel Bateman is one angry man. He’s just discovered a devastating truth; the woman who calls herself his mother is really his kidnapper. Snatched from his birth family when he was four years old, Daniel’s always been tormented with vague memories from his former life. When he is confronted with a second shattering revelation, his life falls apart; booze and casual sex help numb the pain.

Daniel knows one thing for sure. He’ll never be able to forgive his kidnapper. Never. Because of her, he’s been denied his dream of becoming an artist. More importantly, he’d have grown up with a mother he could love instead of one he can barely tolerate. And the shadow of his controlling stepfather wouldn’t have darkened his life.

Furious, his life in pieces, Daniel needs the answer to just one question. Why did Laura Bateman kidnap him?

He’s not sure he’ll ever find out. The woman now under arrest for his kidnap twenty-two years ago isn’t talking. Laura Bateman doesn’t believe a crime has been committed; to her, stealing Daniel seemed her only option at the time. Until she receives Daniel’s forgiveness, something he’s sworn she’ll never get, Laura’s staying silent as to what really happened all those years ago.

There’s a saying that you have to walk a mile in someone’s shoes before judging them. Will Daniel ever be ready to step into Laura Bateman’s shoes?

A tense novel of psychological suspense, His Kidnapper’s Shoes weaves one man’s quest for his identity with one woman’s need to heal her troubled past.

This is the first of four stand alone full length novels written by Maggie James. I read it in early April and then went on to read Maggie’s other three novels. If you are a fan of tense psychological suspense and complex characters, then I’d recommend this book. It got 5* from me and you can read my review of it on Goodreads

 

1faithpeterjamesFaith by Peter James

Book Description:
Ross Ransome is at the top of his profession; one of the most successful, and certainly one of the richest, plastic surgeons in the business. Such a man would expect his wife to be perfect – and why not? After all, he has spent enough hours in surgery to get her that way.

But when his wife falls ill she turns her back on conventional medicine, and her arid marriage, and seeks help from the world of alternative medicine and a charismatic therapist who promises not just medical salvation.

For Ransome, this is the ultimate betrayal. It defies logic, and Ross Ransome is a profoundly logical man. Logically, he can see no reason why any man should have his wife when he can’t. It’s all completely rational…

I am a fan of Peter James novels and this one didn’t disappoint. If you like your antagonist to have a little back story where you can find out why he’s like he is, then you’ll enjoy unraveling the ‘logic’ of Ross in this book. I read Faith in May and my 5* review is here.

Continue reading

Book Review – Wrong Place by M. A. Comley

1wrong place

 

DI Sally Parker has a serial killer on her patch. One thing that sets this killer apart from the others she’s hunted before: his willingness to leave DNA at each of the crime scenes. It’s up to Sally and her partner DS Jack Blackman to find out why before the body count rises to double figures.

 

 

 

Extract

Sally Cringed. “Are you Brenda’s sister?”
“Yes, at least I was.” Darla broke down in tears.
Sally and Jack glanced at each other and shook their heads. It was never easy telling a person that a loved one had passed over, let alone been murdered. Sally waited for a few minutes before she placed a hand over the woman’s and asked is she was okay.
“Not really. Would you be? What happened?”
“It’s difficult to tell right now. We were called out to the crime scene, and discovered you sister’s body.”
“In a church?” Darla frowned.
“Actually, she was found outside, in the graveyard.”
“Shit! How did she die?”
Sally swallowed hard. “I’m not going to lie to you. Her naked body was found propped up against a gravestone.”
Darla stared at her open-mouthed for a few seconds, then she found her voice again. “Was she raped?”
Sally nodded. “I’m sorry. There’s no other way to say it. If it’s any consolation, the suspect left valuable DNA at the scene. We’re hopeful that will lead to his capture soon.”
“He did? Then why aren’t you out there, going after him? Sorry, dumb question.”
“Not at all. A logical one under the circumstances. We have to inform the next of kin before we can begin our investigation.”
“I see. Do you have a suspect in mind? Any witnesses?”
Sally shock her head. “Not yet. Can I ask when you last saw your sister?”
“Just before her shift last night. I came home from the office at five thirty. We passed on the stairs, as she had to get to work before her shift started at six.”
“Does your sister have a boyfriend?
“No. she’s not the type to settle down with one person. Umm… that sounded bad, didn’t it?”
“Not at all” Given Sally’s own experiences with men, she totally understood why women wouldn’t want to start a permanent relationship with a man in today’s world. Continue reading