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 Castles in the Air by Alison Ripley Cubitt and Molly Ripley

CITAAn eight-year-old child witnesses her mother’s secret, and knows that from that moment life will never be the same.

After Molly, her mother, dies. Alison uses her legacy to make a film about Molly’s relationship with a man she had known since she was a teenager. What hold did this man have over her mother? And what other secrets was her mother hiding?

Castles in the Air follows the life of Molly Ripley through the eyes of her daughter Alison. From Molly’s childhood in colonial Hong Kong and Malaya; wartime adventures as a rookie office girl in the far east outpost of Bletchley Park then as a young nurse in the city; tangled romance and marriage… to her challenging middle-age when demons from the past seem set to overwhelm her.

 

Extract:

One reason Don and Cissy had been against sending Molly to school so far away was that they spent their working lives listening to and intercepting messages sent by the Japanese naval fleet. Privy to this classfied information, they were convinced that a war with Japan was inevitable. In December 1941, just as Molly was sitting her School Certificate, the school girls heard some ominous news on the radio:
We were all greatly encouraged when we heard of the arrival of the mighty battleship, Prince of Wales and cruiser Repulse and all thought they would soon ‘sort out’ the Japanese. Then we heard on the news that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbour on December 2nd 1941, thus drawing the Americans into the conflict – to be followed by air raids on Singapore. Most of the children not taking School Certificate had been sent back to their homes.
December 2nd was, in fact, the date that Prince of Wales and Repulse arrived at the Singapore Naval Base with great fanfare. The attack on Pearl Harbour took place 7th December, 8th December in Malaya, at the same time as the first Japanese bombing raid on Singapore. It was 4am in Singapore when Don and Ciss were woken by the air raid sirens. Their worst fears had come to pass. Their darling Molly was hundreds of miles away. All they could do was pray she would get home safely, but as a former Royal Marine, Don would have known only too well what perfect cover a remote jungle region could provide for an advancing Japanese land invasion.

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

This week in the blogs – Changes to the Amazon review system

amazon-reviews

Amazon have recently put in place some changes to it’s review system on Amazon.com. A variety of blog posts discussing what the changes mean to both readers and authors have caught my eye. I thought I’d share them with you.

The Bowes Library Corner
Author K. T. Bowes says in her recent post “Well, poor Christoph Fischer can testify he still doesn’t know why his 1700 legitimate reviews of other people’s work were removed, or why he was banned from reviewing on Amazon again. The only thing it can be, is that he was deemed to ‘know’ all 1700 authors. He looks like a social, fun kinda guy but really? One of the reviews they removed was for my novel and much as I’d like to, I’ve never met him, had coffee with him or even private messaged with him. There’s a whole lot of ocean between him and me, which presumably Amazon don’t deem to be a significant obstacle.”
     Her post raises many important questions and highlights how authors are having reviews of their published works removed and being banned from leaving reviews because Amazon believe they know the other authors whose books they are reviewing. But what do they deem as ‘knowing’ someone? They don’t give any explanations. Continue reading

Book Review – Fragile Cord by Emma Salisbury

1Fragile 

 

How far would you go to hide the truth?

A small boy lies drowned in the bottom of a bath
His mother is found with a noose around her neck…

The local community is in shock.

 

 

Prologue

Tracey Kavanah stroked her swollen belly absentmindedly as she reached for the drawing Kyle proudly held up for her inspection. It was three thirty on an uncomfortably hot day and the infant inside her shifted lethargically; the playground was full of red-faced mothers with excitable offspring and the sound of happy chatter reverberated around the red brick walls.
She swallowed hard as she studied Kyle’s picture, her hands began to shake uncontrollably as an uneasy, anxious feeling worked its way through her chest. She could hear her heart pounding, the thump, thump thump increasing its crescendo until it drowned out the babble from the children around her and startled her unborn child.
Her troubled gaze slid to the beaming face of her ruddy-cheeked son and in that moment she knew she must kill him.  Continue reading