CONFESSIONS OF A BOOK REVIEWER
A couple of weeks ago I left a teaser at the end of my ‘Back on Air’ blog. I wrote: ‘I’ve another little gem to disclose, which should materialise in a couple of weeks. Until then, I’ll keep you guessing…’ Well, guess no more. This week my book review of ‘The Judas Scar’ by Amanda Jennings appeared in the Cheltenham Standard, a new weekly newspaper that combines wit with an incisive take on all things Cheltenham. I’m delighted to play my small part but for more personal reasons than you’d think – it’s completely reignited my passion for reading.
To put this into context and in case you’re scratching your head, I’ve always loved stories in whatever form they come, whether it’s through watching film, sitting in a pub listening to a well told tale, or more obviously, through novels. Reading to me is heart and soul, meat and the proverbial drink. Not exactly rocket science you could say – I’d be a very poor novelist if I didn’t enjoy reading – but, and I’m not admitting to a heinous crime, I can’t be the only writer who, at the end of a long working day, is tempted to slump in front of the television or switch off the light rather than getting stuck into the latest thriller, romance, historical yarn or whatever. Give me a few days holiday and I can tear through the pile of books stacking up on either my Kindle or bedside table with relish, but weaving it into my every day can be more problematic. In my guise as an editorial consultant, there is a tendency to feel slightly ‘worded out,’ and the lure of easy viewing is on a par with a lover you keep going back to because you can’t think of a good enough reason to move on.
Reading for the purposes of review has been a revelation. It most fully completes what I do. As a crime writer whose day job is to help others craft their work, I ‘get’ how much it takes to craft a story. I know about the blood, sweat and, sorry guys, tears from first idea to publication. I understand the many decisions a writer takes in the creation of a great plot, how much they give of themselves to fashion that unique voice. When I write a review you won’t catch me being scathing or sycophantic. You will know that I’ve really read the novel, thought about it and will give it my considered opinion. Stories are stories are stories. I make no distinction between genres because the process is the same and I pretty much love them all, although I admit I’m a poor judge of sci-fi and fantasy. This aside, not for me the dashed off, vented spleen and plain nasty review by armchair critics who need to get out more and live a little. Book reviewing should be a privilege as much as a pleasure, and I’m glad to have been given that opportunity.