Friday, October 25, 2013

Book reviews - the best present you can give any author!

If you have an author in your family or circle of friends and you're wondering what Christmas present to get them, it's simple. There is nothing an author likes better than book reviews. You will certainly have left your glowing 5-star review already, but why not ask your friends to do the same, if they've read the book?

I don't personally celebrate Christmas but do make a humble thing of Yule, with plenty of pagan trappings.

I'm a little unusual, as those who know me will agree, in that I love all reviews, be they 1-star or 5-star. Because whether or not the reader liked your book, they have been moved enough to take the time to leave their comments.

One of my recent favourites was a 1-star with the comment Ehh for Sell the Pig. I had no idea what it meant so I had to look it up in the Urban Dictionary. It seems it's a non-committal sort of word much favoured by Goths. Now I thought Goths were not easily stimulated to do very much, so I was thrilled at the idea that somewhere, in some bedroom, a black-clad teen had gone to all the trouble to log onto Goodreads and leave a comment on my little book.

But of course like any vain author, my favourites are the 5-star reviews and I'm thrilled to say both Sell the Pig and the sequel Is That Billinge Lump have each recently received one from an Amazon Vine reviewer. These people are in the top 1000 reviewers on Amazon. In my case, the lady in question is ranked at 944.

Rhosmynydd Liz had this to say about Sell the Pig: 'By chance, I stumbled upon this incredible book. The title may seem innocuous, but it has a really appropriate meaning to the content. All will be revealed! Not only does "Sell the Pig" by writer, Tottie Limejuice (her inventive pen name), it qualifies the reasons for a removal to France, particularly with an elderly relative and dog in tow (as we are intending to do).It also gives the reader an overview of the planning stages, viewing of properties and various guidelines to dealing with French estate agents, underscoring "buyer beware".

I had previously purchased "retiring to France" and "Living in Rural France" both excellent reference books but no real personality. Tottie Limejuice certainly gives the reader a feel for her own circumstances, many of which we can relate to but also makes a hilarious read out of a serious situation. I even gave the copy to my 91 year old mum-in-law, who will be joining us, and it was great to hear her chuckle and reminisce about her own sister's experiences in a UK residential home - a fate she was terrified of.

No doubts now, as soon as we have sold (when/if) we will be taking a much happier elderly traveller than before. We also picked up on her advice to purchase a RV to travel in comfort for the 1,000 mile trip for not only one mum but two and not one dog, but two!

Even if you are not contemplating crossing the channel, this is a great autobiographical read and please do not forget to buy the sequel of arrival and life in La Belle France. "Is that the Billinge Lump" Is that Billinge Lump?'

And in very short order, the same reviewer read Is That Billinge Lump and had this to say about it: 'Having read Tottie Limejuice's first book about the many reasons why she contemplated and planned a removal to France with brother, elderly mum and elderly dog in tow, I was so anxious to get my hands on the sequel, ordered on the dot of finishing the last page. Thanks to Amazon's Prime delivery system, I did not have long to wait and had my hands on the volume "Is that the Billinge Lump?" the next day and read it that night - I simply could not put it down, it was so good. As we are contemplating a similar venture, complete with mum(s) (yes that is 2!), and dogs (again 2). We are taking Tottie's advice in "Sell the Pig" to purchase an RV to make the 1,000 mile trip in comfort - super advice.

The reasons we are making our move are similar to Tottie's, primarily lack of help with our aging parents and the ensuing medical assistance (or lack of) in the UK. I thought I had done all the preparative reading with the usual culprits advertised in the property mags but found they had missed the real gem. This excellent book not only provides a very personal example of the caring possibilities and medical care in rural France, but also hands on experience and advice. I am now touching base for the necessary medical forms here and know how NOT to behave in confronting the French social services and medical community. These lessons are invaluable. Tottie has her share of problems and I know we will meet some of these so it has put us in good standing to know what to expect. However, the book is so well written, you do not need the excuse of moving to France to read this. It is a stand alone adventure that would make anyone laugh out loud and cry in the chapters recounting her good and bad times. Even if we are lucky enough to sell our smallholding in Wales and make the trip, I will be waiting with baited breath for the next volume.

Both "Sell the Pig" and "Is that the Bllling Lump?" are stand alone novels, while it would be preferable to read both, either novel on its own presents the reader with a completed story. My conscience will not let me reveal the ending but it was so well completed that my hearty congratulations to the author for being able to share with her readers her emotions and the toll they took during her adventures in the UK and France. Sell the Pig (Sell the Pig series) - again, read this and you will weep but laugh and enjoy and like me, seek out the next soon to be published 3rd volume.'