Welcome to A Reader’s Review Blog, set up by Caroline Barker and Tina Williams. We hope that you enjoy our site, reviews and posts. We would be delighted if you would follow us and add any comments and feedback. These would be appreciated and replied to. We also have a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AReadersReview and we would love you to join us there by ‘Liking’ our page. If you prefer/use Twitter you can find us @areadersreviewb.
Hi, I’m Caroline Barker, a happily engaged mother of three from the UK. I absolutely love reading and writing and since 2010 I haven’t put a book down. My partner, against my wishes, bought me a ‘vampire’ novel which happened to be Stephenie Meyer’s ‘Twilight’. I advised against this, thinking how unbelievable and unrealistic it would be. However, he’d bought it and so I decided to read it. As you may have already guessed, I loved it. Therefore, I read the series followed by J.R. Ward’s ‘Black Dagger Brotherhood’ series and the Charlaine Harris series of ‘Sookie Stackhouse’. The current series I am reading is Tim O’Rourke’s ‘Keira Hudson’ and it is fantastic.
I do read other genres including thrillers, murder mysteries, true crime, romance, horror etc. Due to this my aim is to review as many novels I am reading, from any genre, and to post them on our blog, in the hope of influencing and aiding readers to choose their next book! Enjoy! I will be very happy to receive any comments you may have. You can e-mail me at email@example.com. Thank you!
Hi, my name is Tina Williams. I am married and living in the UK with my husband and two children. I have been reading books ever since I could make out the written word, devouring fairytales and fables and books by authors ranging from Enid Blyton to CS Lewis at a young age. As a teenager I progressed to reading science fiction and fantasy, including works by Piers Anthony, Tanith Lee, Terry Brooks, Guy Gavriel Kay, Katherine Kerr and Tolkien. I also introduced myself to Mills and Boon romances, ‘bodice rippers’ and works by Jane Austin.
Romance novels are the core of what I love to read today. I especially like the sub genres of historical, fantasy, science-fiction and paranormal romance. I also enjoy erotic romance or dark erotica. My favourite authors are a mixture of those published by the big publishing houses and those who self publish and include: Courtney Milan; Elizabeth Hoyt; JR Ward; Kresley Cole; Charlotte Boyett Compo; Kaitlyn O’Connor; Annabel Joseph; Madeline Hunter. I applaud the recent surge in sub genre books, made easier by e books and self publishing.
I love the way that reading such books transport me into another world, place or time and all without the use of teleport or a time machine! One day I can be on a planet in a distant galaxy and the next I can be in a Regency ballroom, in the Wild West or in league with vampires. I generally prefer books with a HEA, but as I have got older I love to read tales from the dark side and can sometimes be content for a HFN.
I would love to hear from you if you wish to comment on the site or any of my reviews, or just to discuss reading in general. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Reader’s Review Blog has been nominated by Sabrina at The Urban Book Thief for the Liebster Award! Thank you, Sabrina! Bloggers pass on this award to new bloggers if they feel that their blog is worth viewing, but have fewer than 200 followers! This allows bloggers to promote each other in a fun way, which I think is quite cool! To accept the award we must list 11 facts about ourselves, answer 11 questions from the blogger that nominated us and also nominate 11 other new blogs for this amazing award! Hehe! As a little bit of fun, Tina and myself have decided we would both post 11 facts about ourselves and answer the questions from Sabrina! So, without further ado, below you will find the 11 facts about ourselves, answers to The Urban Book Thief’s questions and a list of the 11 blogs that Tina and myself have nominated for the award.
- I never wanted to read a paranormal novel, thinking they were unbelievable. How wrong was I?!
- My favourite subject at school was history.
- I have never had a filling.
- I got my partner into running when we first met, deciding to start jogging. I stopped after a few runs and yet my partner runs 2-3 times a week, runs fun runs and has taken part in marathons, including the London Marathon! Twice!!! He has been doing this for 12 years!
- My favourite colour is blue.
- I enjoy watching the Snooker World Championships and love watching Ronnie O’Sullivan play. He has won the title 4 times now, 3 of which were the years my children were born!
- I used to be an avid music fan of most rock/pop acts and my knowledge was fairly good. I was called a ‘walking encyclopaedia’ at school! These days I am heavily into tv programmes, such as The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, Justified, Hell on Wheels, Breaking Bad, Lie To Me, Scrubs, True Blood, The Walking Dead, Boomtown, Southland and more recently Elementary and Chicago Fire! (To name but a few – there are many, many more!!!)
- For the last 3 years, until very recently, I was attending my friends Zumba classes 2-3 times a week. During some of these classes when I was needed I would take to the stage myself and help guide the class with some of the moves through the tracks! Very embarrassing and nerve-racking but great fun!!!
- At my first high school Sports Day I won the 400m race for my team, competing against some really great cross country runners! I am not a sporty person and so I am quite proud of that one! Couldn’t do it again though! Hehe!!
- After being the second from last out of my class to learn how to swim, I am determined to encourage my kids to learn, or to take part in other sports of their choice, to help with their confidence, self-esteem and socialising just as much as the physical exercise and well-being! I am very proud to say my 8 yr old daughter has achieved her 1km in swimming and practising for her lifesaver badge!
- My favourite actor has got to be Clint Eastwood. As well as his westerns, such as A Fistful of Dollars, and his action cop thrillers, such as Dirty Harry, I was brought up watching him in Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can! From High Plains Drifter to Gran Torino, from Play Misty For Me to The Rookie he’s just fantastic!
- I like watching historical re-enactments, knights in shining (or tarnished) armour being my favourite.
- In researching my family history I have found many surprising facts, such as some Irish ancestry, criminal ancestors and an MP.
- I proposed to my husband in a leap year, after making sure that he had drunk enough El Presidente cocktail to sink a ship. I am normally quite shy and retiring, but I wanted to be sure of success!
- I am a liberal minded parent – my two girls rule the roost. I am banking on the fact that they will keep me in luxury in my retirement, as some research has found that this is the best way to foster genius. My excuse for lack of discipline!
- My fave holiday destination ever was my visit the US touring the San Francisco and then going inland to take in the many national parks.
- My star sign is Sagittarius. I was once heavily into astrology and cast my own natal chart.
- I nearly always prefer the book to the film.
- I believe in a superior being, but I think that it is more likely to be female than male.
- I believe that there are other sentient beings out there in space watching us and I have a secret wish to be abducted by a handsome alien and whisked off to the stars.
- I will often annoy my family by singing very loudly to the original soundtrack of War of the Worlds.
- I am not a feminist and prefer to celebrate the differences between the sexes.
Below are mine and Tina’s answers to The Urban Book Thief’s questions:-
Qu 1. Chicken or the egg – choose!
Tina: The egg – if only because it has got to hatch out of something!
Caroline: The egg definitely, as the chicken could possibly be a cross-breed.
Qu 2. How did you come up with the name of your blog?
Tina: I can’t claim any credit for this one – it was Caroline’s excellent idea!
Caroline: I thought it was simple, to the point and I always like alliteration!!
Qu 3. Which one of your posts/book reviews was the most fun to write?
Tina: Evi Rabi’s Gringa: In the Clutches of a Ruthless Drug Lord.
Caroline: Vampire Seeker by Tim O’Rourke. I wrote it with a great deal of passion as I loved the book. It is one of my favourites!
Qu 4. What did you eat for breakfast today?
Tina: Chopped apple and natural yoghurt.
Caroline: Coco Pops
Qu 5. Where are all the baby pigeons?
Tina: I think they must hatch fully grown as I’ve never seen a baby one, although we get lots of adult pigeons in our garden. Perhaps they have been abducted by aliens and returned to Earth fully grown to spy on us?
Caroline: Maybe the baby pigeons age quickly so we never get to see them as babies. Or maybe they are invisible and can only appear when fully grown. This needs to be investigated!!!
Qu 6. What are you reading right now?
Tina: Borderland Beauty, a medieval romance, by Samantha Holt.
Caroline: Charades by Ann Logan.
Qu 7. Which book character do you simply love the most?
Tina: Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series. If you have read it you will know why!
Caroline: I quite like Harry from Vampire Seeker right now!
Qu 8. Which is your favourite book series?
Tina: JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. The series just gets better and better and her vamps are HOT.
Caroline: Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward. This dark series focuses on all characters, each with their own characteristics, and the whole plot is packed with everything you could wish for.
Qu 9. Ninjas or Pirates – Choose!
Tina: Ninjas – I have always wanted the ability to dodge the raindrops as I hate the rain.
Caroline: Pirates for me as they seem to be naughty, crafty, cheeky and great characters. When I think of the word ‘pirate’ it reminds me of Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow. Ninja reminds me of the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ with theit great big rubber outfits! Hehe!
Qu 10. If you could have a supernatural power what would it be?
Tina: To shapeshift so that I could take on the appearance of someone else – just think of the fun getting access to places usually verboten and seeing or hearing what goes on! Either that or an invisibility cloak!
Caroline: I was going to say to read minds but I’m not sure. I would love to be a vampire for a while though!!
Qu 11. What’s black and white and red all over?
Tina: A newspaper with the measles.
Caroline: A zebra with a suntan.
Now for our 11 nominees for the Leibster Award:-
If the nominees above would like to take part, they too would need to list 11 facts about themselves, answer our 11 questions from below and nominate 11 other new blogs (with fewer than 200 followers) as well as ask them 11 questions. Our 11 questions for the nominees above are as follows:-
- What inspired you to begin a blog?
- What is your favourite book genre?
- Where is your favourite place in the world?
- If you could be an animal, which animal would you be?
- Which animal scares you the most?
- Which musical instrument would you love to play?
- Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?
- Who is your most favourite author?
- What is your favourite meal?
- If you could be a tv/film comedy character of your choice, who would you be?
- If you were to write a book, which genre would best describe it?
Many many thanks to Sarah Colliver, author, blogger and keen photographer for our nomination for the super ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD which we are both delighted to accept. You can find Sarah’s blog, where you can read about her inspirational Peggy Rodman Series and her poetry and look at her beautiful photographs of the Forest of Dean at:
Without further ado here are our 7 nominees for the ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD:
7 RANDOM FACTS about Tina and Caroline who blog on areadersreviewblog:
1) Although currently mistress of all I survey at home – the cooker, the vacuum, the refrigerator, the ironing and the cleaning and not forgetting the children, in the dim and distant past I played at other things. These included working in the NHS, local government and the Fire Service. My favourite jobs were those where I worked in area regeneration and produced policies to combat poverty and social exclusion.
2) I have been friends with Caroline since I worked alongside her in the Fire Service.
3) I prefer tea to coffee and I am a very tactile person (see Caroline’s Random Fact no 3).
4) I adore reading, especially romance books, from sweet to erotic, in every sub genre imaginable. I sometimes read erotica.
5) Guests at my wedding were encouraged to be ‘hands on’ and to participate in the entertainment. We had two musicians who played medieval music, were attired in medieval costumes and who compelled guests to throw themselves fully into the dance of the ‘Amorous Pea’, which they claimed was all the rage at the French court. It was only later when we looked at the wedding video that we realised that some guests were less than enthusiastic!
6) I prefer white wine to red, as if I drink red wine I peak too early and am prone to falling over or revealing mine and everyone else’s darkest secrets.
7) I am scared of heights.
1) I was named after a Status Quo song.
2) I absolutely love the sitcom ‘Scrubs’ – so much so that I had pink pyjamas similar to the scrubs that they wear on the show (just by chance) and I really wanted a real stethoscope to go with them so I could pretend to be Sarah Chalke’s character, ‘Elliot’!
3) Have known Tina for 13 years, worked with her, rented a home from her, had children at similar times as her, created this blog with her – all after Tina recommending to our boss to take me on for a job after an interview in which she found out I had sold some fluffy diaries!!!
4) I loved writing as a teenager, I made up lyrics in the styles that I thought were similar to Celine Dion and Blur. My favourite piece of writing is an intro I wrote for a biography on the music band Oasis. I thought of a great title too. Now I just need to write the remainder of the book!!!
5) I used to want to knit. However, I couldn’t place the stitches over the needle to begin with and once I got going my knitting always ended up with holes throughout!
6) When I was about 9 or 10 I broke a pane of glass from my school’s greenhouse thinking that the door opened outwards (when actually it slid across). I pushed the glass and it fell and smashed. Oooops!
7) At the turn of my 18th birthday I met my amazing guy, began a new job within the Fire Service, embarking on a lifelong friendship with Tina, and I went on my first weeks holiday! Great times!
Thank you to everyone for reading this and we look forward to continuing to have fun and meeting others through the awesome world of blogging!
If you would like to accept this award, post about it and pass it on to others, here are the rules: 1. Add the ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD image to your post. 2. Share seven things about you. 3. Pass the award on to seven nominees. 4. Thank the person who nominated you. 5. Inform the nominees by posting on their blogs.
Tina and Caroline 🙂
Author, Saylor Storm’s interview questions for Caroline Barker of A Reader’s Review Blog, with regard to book blogging, in return for the blog tour for Sue’s Seduction!
How did you begin blogging?
After reading paperbacks quite heavily over 2010 and 2011, I decided to keep track of my reads, and later my opinions, on Goodreads – purely for personal reasons. When I bought my first Kindle I became a little obsessed in downloading some of the free reads by self-published authors, one of them being Tim O’Rourke. I became engrossed in his Keira Hudson series, and to my surprise, he had ‘liked’ some of my reviews of his work on Goodreads. After reading his early books of the series he suggested that I set up a book blog. As well as the suggestion from Tim, my close friend, Tina Williams (now co-blogger) and I used to meet up weekly and discuss our reads. Between us we thought a blog would be a great idea – we could keep tabs of all our reads and preferences as well as assist authors to promote their work. We did some research on book blogging and in October 2012, very late one evening, I decided to take the plunge and A Reader’s Review Blog was born!
Do you have a special time to blog or how is your day structured?
Most of my blogging is done late at night and in the early hours. I have three young children, my youngest still at home for the best part of the week, and therefore I do tend to juggle my time. I usually spend the daytimes corresponding with authors, publishers, bloggers etc, and also making many to-do lists. Whilst my youngest is at nursery, and during evenings, I spend my time reading. Even once I have scheduled posts, I retire to bed at 2 or 3am with my Kindle in hand to read before I drop off!
What motivates you?
First and foremost are probably the authors/publishers that request reviews. Once I have agreed to review their work I would hate to let them down. It can easily go unnoticed just how much time and effort it takes to write, and even though I do not currently write myself, I can imagine. And even once the book is written, it is a completely different task to promote it. I would then have to say the great stories themselves – I feel that people miss out on so many wonderful and brilliant characters and storylines. Reading a book is so much more than just watching a movie sometimes. As a reader you can visualize and interpret most for yourself and live in that book for a few days, opposed to just 2hrs with a movie. I also belive that Tina and myself motivate each other. Every time we meet up we both have new characters to talk about and share our take on different outcomes and maybe what we would have liked to have read, or simply go off on a tangent and create even more fantasy-like ideas!
Why do you blog?
See questions 1 and 3. We always hope we can introduce readers to something different to try and read, or something more within their favorite genres. At the same time, it is supporting authors and helping to promote some great reads. And, I enjoy keeping a log of what I like to read, my thoughts and what I will be reading. I like the idea of bringing authors and readers together and we have made some fantastic friends in doing so. It also provides another sense of purpose, as I am a stay-at-home mum currently, and blogging also allows me to express my feelings in regard to the books I am reading.
How do you use Facebook?
We use our Facebook page to link to posts we have added to our blog, to communicate with authors and readers and to help promote other author/publisher Facebook pages and their posts/works/books.
What challenges have you set for yourself?
Maybe the biggest challenge that I have certainly set for myself is the ever-growing reading list I have. I do hate to turn authors down (in regards ro review requests), however we have had to have a break of adding more to our lists until they have become a little lighter. I like to spend time focusing on one book at a time so that the author has my undivided attention. However, I have realized this is almost impossible. I also set a certain number of books that I like to read within that year with the Goodreads challenge.
Are you a brand?
I suppose one could associate us as being a brand as we do provide a service, we do have a distinctive logo (design Dark One, Shutterstock Images) and we have recently designed our business cards. However, the term brand hasn’t been one that has entered my mind. Maybe at a later date this may change.
What do you read, and how do you read it?
I like to read books from almost any genre. I like to adapt as some reads can be quite heavy, whilst some are light and refreshing. I think its good to have a change and it broadens my mind further. I like to read paperbacks and mobi (Kindle) copies. Paperbacks are more of a daytime/evening read for me, whilst I can read a Kindle any time, anywhere and even in bed with the lights turned off! I have read a paperback in the day, whilst reading my Kindle at night in the past. I can differentiate between the two books in this way. The Kindle, being compact, certainly helps if you are expecting to be in waiting rooms, or are a passenger on a long journey. I dislike reading pdf’s as they never look quite right on the Kindle, and my laptop can give me headaches if I stare for too long. Lucky I have a pdf converter to mobi!
What are you grateful for?
In life, I am grateful for my wonderful family and friends. I consider myself extremely lucky to have close people around and they are very supportive. In terms of blogging, I am always grateful for the books we receive in return for our reviews. I also appreciate it very much when authors respond positively and share our links. We have made some amazing author/blogger/reader friends along the way and for this I am also very grateful.
What are you good at?
It is always for me to answer this one. I have never been very good at praising myself up. I like to think that I have an open mind and can empathize with situations. I love writing my reviews about the characters and the inter-relationships they have – probably moreso than the main storyline. I am a people person, even though it can take me some time to open up. I enjoy finding out what drives people. I also like to ensure that I reply to people, whether it be texts, e- mails, Facebook/Twitter comments. When writing reviews I do like to be honest, but at the same time (if it happens to be a story that I find difficult to read) I like to be fair and try to choose the good and the bad points to make a well-rounded review.
What would you most like to learn on your own?
Well, I would probably need some help along the way, but in terms of the blog, I would love to be able to display more graphics and artwork. I am not so arty and also not too good when it comes to web design. These are two areas I would love to learn. I also think that later on, when my little one is older, I would love to learn to write a novel myself and going through the self-publishing process.
Who inspires you?
Inspirations in the author world have to be Enid Blyton, Tim O’Rourke and J.R. Ward (amongst many others).These authors keep momentum, build strong characters for their audiences to love and create action and adventure superbly. I am also a huge fan of TV and movies. I am a fan of John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles). I love the characters and how they react towards one another – how they affect each other’s lives and the emotions involved. Shane Black (screenwriter – Lethal Weapon) is also another favorite. I always appreciate two strong characters forming a bond like no other, even if they are from opposite backgrounds. And, again, the action, adventure and even comedic value is brilliant. Not only that, but there is the tragic element of character Riggs having just lost his wife, and his whole attitude comes across as though he has just given up. Many of his colleagues feel he is mad and not up for the job (he’s a detective for those unfamiliar with the movie). And yet, he still goes to all lengths to ensure his partner’s safety and the safety of the public. Another one of my inspirations is Kurt Sutter (creator of tv series, Sons of Anarchy and writer on The Shield). I think Sutter is an absolutely amazing writer for the screen and never ceases to shock the audience at the same time as build up the drama from strength to strength.
What have you done to earn money?
In terms of A Reader’s Review Blog, we do not currently earn any money. Tina and myself volunteer our services for the sheer love of reading, reviewing and creating some great relationships with our authors and fans. It is possible that at a later date we may try different avenues in which earning may be a part but for now we are a non-profitable service.
Where is the line between truth and fiction?
Interesting question. I don’t feel there is a line. It’s kind of a grey area. Many fictional works have been based on fact, whether it be loosely or not. Authors may even add elements of their own experiences in there. Plus, in reality there have been some amazing events take place that you simply would never have imagined to write about and that can completely baffle people.
How productive and organized are you?
Depending on how much I have on in my private life does depend on how productive and organized I am with the blog. I am a stickler for writing lists and use these regularly to organize my reviews and posts for the blog, and even correspondence. I do have to use my time as and when I can. Therefore, it is quite common for me to have a quiet week and then reel many posts out in a short space of time – I do this sometimes as when my mind is 100% focused on the blog I can be like an express train and just keep on typing. However, as we have begun to schedule blog tours and similar posts over the past year or so, I am beginning to schedule my posts around these and prepare for them in advance much more than I used to. Tina and myself work closely to ensure we can accommodate as many authors posts as possible and we do try to work around each other. This way the blog is continuously busy and a high volume of posts and messages are sent out, making out for an interesting blog and hopefully something for everyone.
When have you ever failed at something? What happened as a result?
I feel lucky to say that I don’t feel that I have failed at much – but please don’t mistake this for arrogance. Maybe it is my approach that makes me feel this way. If I don’t quite reach something that I hoped I would, I will persevere and continue to try. Sometimes I decide to go down a different path by either trying in a different manner or trying something different altogether. Sometimes one failure can lead to other opportunities and it always is a great learning curve that makes us stronger – even if we don’t feel like this at the time.
How full is your glass?
Usually around two thirds! I do feel positive most of the time and will try to work my way through negative periods. There are, of course, days when I don’t feel quite so positive but I see these as short phases and tend to overcome them reasonably quickly. It always helps to have an incredible other half and some fantastic friends to talk my troubles out with. That is usually the best medicine – as long as I don’t feel alone I feel I can get through most things.
What do you want out of life?
As simple as it sounds, happiness. It would also be nice to explore the big, wide world, however I am a homely person and like to settle when I am familiar with my surroundings. Although, I do tend to surprise people sometimes with my more adventurous side.
What will make you feel successful?
If my children grow up to be the best they can be, that will make me feel successful. I feel successful every time I receive a positive comment with regard to our blog or a review I have written. It would be amazing to write my own book one day and maybe have a few good reviews and some sales. But that is a dream for now. Another avenue I have considered is training to become a counselor. If I made that, I would feel like I had achieved something great as I do like to help people, especially with their outlook.
What makes you happy?
My better half and my children make me happy. Knowing that they are all doing okay is the be all and end all. But it’s also nice to have a snuggle on the sofa with a cup of tea, either watching some great TV or reading a fab book. A simple life really.
Thank you! Caroline Barker, A Reader’s Review Blog