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

Review of Tanners Dell by Sarah England.

My current work in progress is a step away from the Ben Whittle series. It’s a supernatural thriller written in the first person. I’ve been reading more of the same genre recently, and Tanners Dell by Sarah England stands out from the crowd.

Tanner's DellBook Description:
A Darkly Disturbing Occult Horror Novel.
Following the hypnosis of violently disturbed psychiatric patient, Ruby Dean, an unholy dark force was unleashed on the medical staff who tried to help her. Now only one of the original team remains – Ward Sister, Becky.
Despite her fiancé, D.I. Ross, being unconscious and many of her colleagues either dead or critically ill, Becky is determined to rescue Ruby’s twelve year old daughter from a similar fate to her mother. But no one asking questions in the desolate mining village Ruby descends from ever comes to a good end. And as the diabolical history of the area is gradually revealed, it seems the evil invoked is now both real and contagious. Don’t turn the lights out yet!

Extract:
At that moment a cloud floated across the surface of the moon and he looked up. Was there ever such a haunting sight? A breeze sighed into the back of his neck and a flurry of leaves rustled around the porch door.
He frowned, his attention was suddenly drawn to a line of yews at the far end of the graveyard. Was there someone there or was it his imagination? A lit cigarette? A spark of red? He narrowed his eyes, peering harder into the gloom. No, it was just his wild imagination. He blinked and shook his head. He was spooked, that was all – how silly – imagining a dark shape standing there; a man in a long black coat with a black dog on a chain, the dog with red eyes. How silly. How very Rosemary’s Baby. . .Those films – The Exorcist and The Omen – they’d scared him witless as a boy and they scared him witless now. 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

Book review of Exclusion Zone by J. M Hewitt

Exclusion ZoneBook Description:

On 26th April 1986, reactor four exploded at the factory in Pripyat, Chernobyl.

At the same time teenager Afia Bello vanished from her home without a trace. The damage from the nuclear fallout is examined over the following weeks, months and years by Afia’s younger sister Sissy, as she unwittingly uncovers clues relating to her sister’s disappearance, and the secret life that Afia kept hidden from her family. In the summer of 2015 Private Detective Alex Harvey is hired to investigate the disappearances that have been occurring within the exclusion zone. He can think of only one person to bring along with him to help; Ukrainian national Elian Gould. Elian – who was adopted at birth – has her own reasons for accepting the job; namely to search for her own family history which has always been a mystery to her. But the remaining citizens of Chernobyl are hiding their own secrets and with a darker force at work, the missing person’s case suddenly turns into something much more serious.

Exclusion Zone is a gripping thriller that will keep readers hooked to the last page.

Extract:
A man clutching a shirt to his face rushes past and I reach out and grab him.
“What has happened?” I ask
He slows to a stop and sags against me. I push him upright and he teeters for a moment before dropping to his knees. The shirt falls to the ground and I stare at his blooded face. I pick up his shirt and press it into his hands, silently willing him to cover up the macabre mask that used to be his face. He flaps the material at me and I lurch away from the drops of blood. He tries to get up, stumbles back to the ground and crawls away from me.
As I walk onwards I see more men like him. They line the road, dazed and bleeding. The closer I get to the building the worse off they seem. At the gate to the factory there is a man sitting in the road. He claws at his face, his mouth stretched in a silent scream. He does not see me approach as he is too busy trying to hold the skin onto his face. Muscle, skin and bloody tissue slips through his fingers.
I am aware that my balance has gone, I am light headed and I drop to my knees and pull myself backwards away from the gate. Now I am too dazed, just like the men who litter the road around me.
Last year, I thought what I witnessed between Afia and Niko was the worst thing I could ever see. Now I know I was wrong. That carnal act, although brutal and violating was life. This, what I see before now, this is death. Continue reading