Monday, 24 July 2017

How to Write a Book Review

with Marilyn Forsyth

Image courtesy of Giphy

All writers know the critical importance of reader reviews to the discoverability and potential purchase of our books. The more reviews we get, the better for us 😉.
(Although, having said that, I’m reminded of an author friend of mine who had a review written about her mystery thriller in which the reviewer named the killer! It took her weeks to have the review pulled. What a disaster!)

Anyway, back to the blog…

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Why is it that asking for reviews can be like asking for an arm or a leg? Could it be because readers are simply unsure of how to go about actually writing a review?

If that's the case, here are some suggestions that might help (don't feel you have to use them all!):

1) Before you start writing, imagine that you are describing the book to a friend who has asked your opinion on it. Your friend will want to know not just what the book is about, but why you liked/didn’t like it and, importantly, why.

2) Mention the author in the first few sentences, then give a taste of the plot in general terms (no spoilers, plot twists or endings, please 😉). If it’s part of a series, you can mention it.

3) Say what you liked about the book. Here are some questions to
get you started:
Image courtesy of Pixabay
  • Was the story believable?
  • Did you enjoy the author’s style?
  • Did you find the main characters credible/likable/relatable?
  • Did the author make the setting come to life?
  • Did the book keep you turning the pages?
  • Did you laugh, cry, want to keep reading past the end?

Image courtesy of

4) Anything that didn’t work for you about the book?
  • Characters TSTL (too stupid to live)? 
  • Frustrating ending? (Don’t give it away.)
  • Trope didn’t do it for you? (Be fair. If you don’t like the trope, why read the book?)
  • Story could have done with better editing?

5) Summarise your personal response to the book.
  • Would you recommend it?
  • Who should read it? (Fans of comedy, YA, historical romance, etc)
  • Any authors or series it could be compared to?

Image courtesy of Pixabay

6) Rate the book. (Even if you just give a book a rating, it helps.)

Readers always want to know what other readers think of books. A good review focuses not so much on the plot of the book but on the reviewer’s thoughts and feelings about the story and the author’s ability to tell it. By providing an honest review you can not only unite readers with books they can love, but also help authors to get their books noticed.

Go on! Do it! Write that review!

Image courtesy of Giphy

*Follow the link to find Cassandra Samuels’ excellent post on how to physically get your book review up on a site:

As a reader, what encourages you to leave a review? As an author, have you struggled to get reviews? Any suggestions?

Love to Love getting a new kitchen. This is my thirty-year-old one; I'm going with black and white for the new one. I'll post a pic when it's done.

Love to Laugh at reruns of The Vicar of Dibley. Gotta love Dawn French.
Love to Learn by doing workshops. I recently attended a one-day self-publishing workshop, organized by our writing group, with the fabulous Cathleen Ross. I learned so much! Who knew it was so easy??

Monday, 17 July 2017

Author Spotlight: Alli Sinclair

The focus of this month's Author Spotlight is the gorgeous Alli Sinclair. She's a favourite of ours here on the Breathless Blog, having written several guest posts for us. (After you've read the interview, scroll all the way down to find a special offer to celebrate Alli's latest release.)
Welcome Alli!

What are you currently reading?

Image courtesy of IMDB

I usually have two books on the go – one non-fiction and one fiction. Currently I’m reading Mae West’s biography which is really amazing. Mae West did a lot for asserting the rights of women being paid fairly in Hollywood and her life story is intriguing. I’m also reading The Little Breton Bistro by Nina George. This is the second book of Nina’s and I am absolutely loving it. Her characters have a lot of depth, are all very different to each other, and the storyline is captivating. I can’t wait to read more of her books!

What is the premise of your latest book?

Beneath the Parisian Skies is a sweeping saga about love, truth, grief and passion — and what it takes to fulfil a dream. Australian Lily Johannson goes to Paris to make amends with her turbulent past but the only way she can move forward is to unravel a one-hundred-year-old mystery about the Ballets Russes. She enlists the help of a dashing Frenchman, of course, and along the way Lily discovers who she really is and what she wants in life—especially with love.

With Bohemian Paris, classic French and Russian artistry woven into the story, Beneath the Parisian Skies takes readers on an emotional and cultural journey. Readers can enjoy the experience of travelling through beautiful Paris from the comfort of their armchair—no passport required!

Are you a plotter, pantser or somewhere in between?

I’m definitely a tweenie. I do love to plot as I can’t start a story without knowing the basic storyline and who my characters are, but as my work contains lots of historical facts, I sometimes discover new information as I’m writing and that can take the plot in a different direction. I also have characters barge their way onto the page and I let them stay there as long as they serve a purpose. It’s often quite intriguing what they bring to the story and sometimes their role is pivotal and I had no idea until they appeared out of nowhere!

What is the last photo you took on your phone?

It was of my daughter who received a bunch of flowers from a dear friend in England. My daughter played soccer with a fractured foot (we didn’t know it was fractured at the time) and my friend in England was super impressed (he loves soccer) and his daughter wanted to give my daughter a get well hug. So to save the expense of a plane ticket, my friend and his family sent flowers. I do have the most caring and lovely friends. I’m so lucky!

Image courtesy of Pixabay
What do you love to love?

Love to see people reaching for the dreams and, even better, achieving them.

What do you love to laugh at?

When my hubby and kids and I find a joke so funny that we’re all laughing hysterically then someone snorts and we all laugh at each other laughing—pure joy.

What do you love to learn about?

I love to learn about strong women who have taken on the world, despite the odds, and followed their passion regardless. They are such wonderful role models for people in all stages of life and the more we talk about these amazing women, the more inspired people will be to follow their own paths and inspire others.


Alli Sinclair is a multi award-winning author of books that combine travel, mystery, and romance. An adventurer at heart, Alli has climbed some of the world’s highest mountains and immersed herself in an array of exotic destinations, cultures, and languages. Alli’s stories capture the romance and thrill of exploring new destinations and cultures that also take readers on a journey of discovery.

Alli volunteers as an author role model with Books in Homes, promoting literacy and reading amongst young Australians.

Alli can be found at .

Alli can be found at



Instagram: alli_sinclair






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Alli has written a free e-novella that is the prequel to Beneath the Parisian Skies. To download it, use any of the following links:

Monday, 10 July 2017

Miranda's Musings about Irish Meanderings...

Darlings, I've just had the most fabulous holiday in Ireland. Yes, I can see you're green with envy, and I would be too if I was you! Actually, the whole of Ireland is emerald green because it rains every day. Your brolly and raincoat become your new BFFs there. I saw castles and libraries (those magnificent old books!), learned about Vikings and Celts, famines, the 1916 Easter Uprising and The Troubles, blundered through two film sets, and heard lots of stories - and some might even have been true. I enjoyed terrific dancing and singing, drank Guinness, ate potatoes (they taste far better in Ireland) and saw so much incredible scenery my eyes and heart went into overload.

The Dark Hedges, Ballymoney, a
Game of Thrones scene for
'The King's Highway'.

I did a literary tour, so drenched myself with literature from Irish greats such as James Joyce, Seamus Heaney, Patrick Kavanagh, Lady Gregory, WB Yeats, CS Lewis, Oliver Goldsmith, Maria Edgeworth, Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, JM Synge, the delightful Maeve Binchy - the list goes on and on... At times, as when mired in the fat bio of Patrick Kavanagh, I wondered why on earth I was doing this. But it paid off tremendously. I appreciated Ireland a million times more because of the reading.

However, darlings, I do adore coming back to romance. It is my go-to genre, the one I love and will always come back to between big, fat classics and all other genres. So imagine my delight to discover this pretty green gem at the exchange bookcase at my Dublin hotel:

Image credit:

I literally pounced on it and then discovered all four authors have signed it. Wow! WOW! I was going to read it and leave it there for the next romance addict, we are many after all, but somehow this little treasure made its way home with me. Whoever left it has my undying love and thanks.

When you travel, do you immerse yourself in the stories of the area? Do you trawl the local bookshops and drool and wish your weight limit was 100kg and you could buy it all? I certainly did, and all the others in the group were also irresistibly lured. Some desperately hoped their carry ons would never be weighed because they were full of books and probably weighed as much as the plane itself. Some tossed out toiletries and clothes (I'm not making this up) to squeeze in

Charlie Byrne's Bookshop, Galway, a treasure trove of new and used books
with rooms that went on and on... I spent most of a heavenly afternoon here.

Since I've come home I've read four more Irish stories; I can't seem to stop and I've loved them all. But the romances are elbowing their way back in and I'm loving them too.

What you do on holidays? Put your feet up with a romance? Read local authors to get the 'local flavour' before and during? Download them then and there onto your Kindle and launch in? Write down every new book you discover and plan to read it when you get home?

Can't wait to hear from you!


Love from Miranda xxx

Love to Love:     All things Irish. Seriously.
Love to Laugh:  At the Irish blarney. My bus driver told the best jokes.
Love to Learn:   Irish history. I was staggered at how much I didn't know.