Why give a book five stars?


I usually read with my Kindle although occasionally I still read paper books.

Sometimes I use the Kindle app on my iPad. I  often post comments about books I’ve read on the Amazon book page and on Goodreads but only for books that I think deserve four or five stars.

I expect that any ebook I’m going to read will be correctly formatted and if it isn’t I don’t download it. I expect that the ebook will have been rigorously proof read and if it hasn’t then I don’t download it either.

It’s easy to tell if the ebook is of a good technical standard if you read a few pages of the free sample.

I always read the free sample of an ebook before downloading so now rarely start reading an ebook I don’t enjoy. And if I’m not enjoying reading it, I stop. Life’s too short to spend time reading books that are not compelling – apart from War and Peace which I’ve been trying to read for years and am determined to finish one day.

And that’s my main reason for five stars: compelling.














and credible.

In other words:

I had difficulty putting the book down to go and do other things;

I kept thinking about the book while I was away from it;

I continued to think about the book once I’d finished reading it.

A four star book will have the same technical high standard and also be a good read but it won’t have that wow! factor which keeps the book buzzing in the reader’s mind when the Kindle is switched off.

I’ve read lots of excellent novels, short stories and novellas by self-published writers.

Certainly in the first months of owning a Kindle (back in early 2012) I downloaded some books that weren’t presented well enough and several that didn’t appeal to my reading tastes particularly when I was carried away by the large numbers of books being offered for free. However, I’ve rarely paid for an ebook that I haven’t gone on to finish and enjoy reading. And the technical standard of self-published ebooks now is as good as traditionally published books. In fact, some trad published back catalogue books are very poor in terms of formatting and don’t justify their often over-inflated prices.

It’s worth remembering that ebooks are subject to VAT at 20% in the UK compared with print books which are zero rated.

0% VAT for print books is right but it should be the same for ebooks. When you’re buying an ebook it’s worth knocking off the VAT and you’ll probably find what good value for money some of them are.

All my Amazon reviews are on my profile page and here are direct links to my 10 most recent five star books.

Whisperings and Wonderings: The Grumblings of a Gargoyle
by Lynn Gerrard
Link: http://amzn.eu/fppHGR0

A Surprise for Maureen
by Jonathan Hill
Link: http://amzn.eu/4Zzl1DO

Patient Zero: Post-Apocalyptic Short Stories
by Terry Tyler
Link: http://amzn.eu/8CFlAy0

Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy Since 1938, Ninth Revised Edition
by Stephen E. Ambrose et al.
Link: http://amzn.eu/aFBXKDb

The Vanishing Game
by William Boyd
Link: http://amzn.eu/9rujJiC

The Malice of Angels: Esme Quentin Mystery
by Wendy Percival
Link: http://amzn.eu/4mUow7E

The Labyrinthine Journey (Servant of the Gods Book 2)
by Luciana Cavallaro
Link: http://amzn.eu/cuASeii

Parallel Lies
by Georgia Rose
Link: http://amzn.eu/6WexvGc

Girl in the Castle: a girl, a castle, a ghost – fall in love with a highlander
by Lizzie Lamb
Link: http://amzn.eu/9SB1HBq

Baby Dear: a gripping psychological thriller
by Linda Huber
Link: http://amzn.eu/11kg97z

Thanks for reading my blog today.

You might also like my Book of the Day at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com/ with details of a free Kindle download.





Do you read ebooks or paper?


We were talking to a friend the other day who doesn’t read ebooks.

He got quite heated in defence of paper. He seemed to think it was an either / or question. Which it isn’t.

We read ebooks and we read paper books.

However, here are some good reasons to include ebooks in your options if you don’t read them already.

You can read a free sample of any book you’re interested in before you commit to paying for it or investing your time in it. The sample is a lot longer than the number of pages you would probably be able to read for free in a book shop. Although, of course, if you’ve still got access to a public library you can read the whole book for free. That’s assuming the library has the title you’re interested in on their shelves.

With an ebook you can make the font size bigger so you won’t need reading glasses any more.

An ereader is light and easy to carry around. It will hold hundreds of books and is fantastic when you go away visiting or on holiday as there are no restrictions on the amount of books you can take with you.

The battery on my Kindle lasts for about fifteen hours if you turn off the wifi and it’s easy to re-charge quickly.

There’s an integral dictionary in the Kindle which is easy to use and very convenient.

One of the great thing about ebooks is that new ones are always available.

Not only can you download them from your favourite ebook retailer at all hours of day and night and on every day of the year but you don’t have to wait for a re-print of a runaway bestseller either.

One night we watched the third episode of BBC4’s Bright Lights, Brilliant Minds: A Tale of Three Cities written and presented by the uber-cool, stunningly articulate Dr. James Fox. The final city to be explored was New York in 1951: Marlon Brando, Jackson Pollock, Thelonious Monk and Jack Kerouac featuring prominently in the programme which ended at 10pm. We were talking about the programme for about half an hour before acknowledging that neither of us had read Kerouac’s apparent masterpiece On the Road. A couple of clicks later we were being mesmerised by the opening sentences and an Amazon One-Click after that and we were both in possession of the book. And were well on the way to putting right a great omission in our joint literary education.

If you don’t want to buy a Kindle or other ereader, you can get a free Kindle app for your iPad, phone, laptop or whichever device you have. There are more details about this in You don’t need a Kindle to read Kindle books on my Cabbage and Semolina Blog with some great quotes about ebooks.

Whether you read ebooks, paper books or both you might be interested in some of the facts in Do you still read fiction?

Thanks for reading my blog today.

You might also like Literary Chocolate!


Book of the Day at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com/ with details of a free Kindle download.



April Bookshelf

tablet books hands

Here’s my reading list for April.

Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift

The plot of this rather short novel takes place on March 30th 1924. This is Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday as it was known then.

Jane Fairchild is an orphan and a housemaid. Like all other housemaids in that age of large scale domestic service, Jane is given the day off to go and visit her mother. How will she occupy her time when she has no mother to visit?

Beginning with an intimate assignation but with broad hints of what the future holds for Jane, this is the story of her life encapsulated on that fateful day in March.

I found the novel slow to start and had to re-read the first chapter to get into it. But once started, I didn’t put it down again until it was finished. The writing is so succinct and vivid. Remarkably  good and very moving, particularly the subtle exploration of the emotional  impact of bereavement in WW1.

Long Spoon by Kath Middleton

I’ve read nearly all Kath Middleton’s books and was delighted to find she’d released a new title. Long Spoon takes the reader into student life and the desire of two friends, Ed and Paul, to make loads of money. Their plan is to sell a home-made legal high to their friends and other students for a grossly inflated price. Ed becomes carried away with what they might accomplish although Paul is the person in the firing line when things get out of hand.

There are some underlying serious aspects to the novel but these are explored without dragging the book down. I particularly enjoyed the way the author leads the reader to think the novel is heading in one direction then suddenly throws a spanner in the works and goes off in another. This keeps the book light and lively and makes for a most entertaining read.

Fur Coat and No Knickers by Adrienne Vaughan

This collection of short stories has so many twists on the notion of a love story: an older couple meet while a beautifully described solitary swan reflects their emerging romance; a one-sided telephone conversation is amusing and edgy; so much emotion packed into one lemon bag; a woman meets a man in a bar and her ultimate ruination; a so-called married man sends poor Eva to a tragic end; a theatrical agent is stitched up by his best friend; a lonely woman is helped to find something positive in her marriage by an ageing father; and a young woman finds out that all was not as it seemed in her early life.

My favourites were:
A Seed of Doubt
A man whose wife has died goes on a weekend bereavement course. He is struggling to come to terms with his loss as he believes his wife was unfaithful. Help and a solution come from an unexpected source and the moral of the story is one from which many might benefit.
A Visit at Christmas
I mean it: I had tears in my eyes at the end of this story.
Fur Coat and No Knickers
Just so much fun! A woman who is a snob and a traditionalist turns out to be living a life of pretence.

There’s such a great variety and depth of feeling in these short stories which makes the whole collection a pleasure to read.

Pattern of Shadows by Judith Barrow

Pattern of Shadows is a wonderful story set in the latter days of World War Two somewhere in the north of England. Mary Howarth is a nurse who is part of a medical team given the unenviable task of caring for sick and injured prisoners of war at the prison camp hospital.

Mary starts a relationship with one of the guards at the camp, Frank Shuttleworth. The relationship proves difficult for Mary but Frank is persistent. Meanwhile, Mary’s home life is far from easy and she finds solace in her work. As the novel evolves Mary’s life becomes increasingly fraught and complicated. To say more would be to give away an extremely well constructed plot which explores some challenging issues of the day.

The novel is well researched and the sense of time and place is established securely. The author has created a group of characters who are very real and the dialogue and interactions between them are a strength of the writing. The romance element of the novel has a degree of predictability but when the concluding chapter is reached there is a sense of relief that what was anticipated has occurred.

Pattern of Shadows is the first part of a trilogy and it’s going to be fascinating to see what happens next.

The Prime Suspect Cases by Lynda La Plante

We enjoyed the recent TV drama series Prime Suspect 1973 and I downloaded the three original Prime Suspect cases onto my Kindle for a bargain price of 99p. I’ve only had time to read the opening of the first case but as the price for the collection has returned to £9.99, I’m glad I downloaded it when I did.

The Britain I Want by Emanuel Shinwell

As the 2017 General Election approaches, I’ve been dipping again into The Britain I Want by Emanuel Shinwell first published in 1943. The book is now out of print but I inherited a copy from my dad many years ago and read it twice. Unfortunately, it was stored in our garage and we were plagued by a mice infestation and the book had to be thrown away. Eventually, I tracked down a second hand copy complete with war-time economy compliance accreditation and now keep it on a very safe bookshelf.

Here’s a flavour of the book:

We pride ourselves in being the highest products of the biological scheme. We stand in something not far removed from awe at the achievements of our kind in science, philosophy, the arts, high moral conduct and sublime courage. Yet, so far, it has apparently been impossible for us to devise a method of living based on social justice and the right of everyone who does useful work in the community to something more than a drab scale of living, chaotic movements of the crazy barometer of employment and souring insecurity.

If you liked Ken Loach’s Spirit of 45 you’ll find this book fascinating but it might take some tracking down.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe

Alan Sillitoe, who died in 2010, left school at fourteen and worked in various factories until becoming an air traffic control assistant with the Ministry of Aircraft Production in 1945. After leaving the RAF he went to live in France and in 1958 Saturday Night and Sunday Morning was published. I read the book for the first time in 1966 and I’ve read it several times since.

The book has become a cult classic of working class life in post-war Nottingham. It’s the story of rebellious factory worker Arthur Seaton who works all day at a lathe leaving him with energy to spare in the evenings. Arthur is a hard-drinking, hard-fighting hooligan who knows what he wants and is determined to get it.

His affairs with a couple of married women are the stuff of local gossip but then one evening he meets a young woman and things start to get complicated.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is such a readable book and the 1960 film, starring Albert Finney, captures its spirit completely. But as Sillitoe wrote the screenplay that’s hardly surprising. This never-to-be-forgotten clip shows a few minutes from the opening scenes of the film.

Thanks for visiting my blog today.

Hope your Saturday night was enjoyable and your Sunday morning is going well!

Today’s book promo
#London #1970s #newspapers #love
When a romance becomes too serious,
Julia poses an all important question.