Writing Reviews

June 5, 2019

I read a great deal and fit my reading around the time I devote to writing and promoting my own books.  I review books I have read on my own blog at http://wordpress.peatmore.com.  Most of the books I now read are written by lesser known writers.  As a writer myself, I know a positive review can give a boost to someone’s confidence and even help promote their work.  Most of those I read are talented at what they do and deserve a wider audience.

Writing is a lonely business so the mere fact that it is obvious that your work has been read and somebody has taken the trouble to write about it is a reward in itself.  But a bad review may have the reverse effect in which case the writer must be philosophical about it.  The fact that not everybody is going to like your work is a fact everyone working in creative art is aware of so a few poor reviews amongst many should be expected.  Most authors even those who have become quite famous have had their work rejected at some point, myself included, when trying to follow the traditional path to publication.  Rejection is part of the job.

Many of the books I have reviewed have been written by people I have met and some have been by those I consider as friends.  The question then arises about how objective I should be and the short answer is that I should be objective as possible.  After all, I am reviewing the work not the person who wrote it.  I find that most of what I read turns out to be extremely enjoyable, some not so, so the extent of my enjoyment is reflected in my review.  But if I think that a piece of writing is particularly bad, instead of writing about it, I will point out my concerns privately and don’t publish the review.  This may be considered to be a copout but I know how soul destroying completely negative criticism can be.

I think now is the time for me to share with you the worst review I have received and have pasted it below.

“Utter Disappointment”

Wasted time and money on this crappy short “book”. I wish I paid more attention to the description

This is pretty damming but I assure you that I have received many more excellent reviews – honest.  But you can judge for yourself by checking out my books on my website at www.peatmore.com.

Keith Jahans


Previously posted as Guest Blog for Jagged Edge Reviews on 23 May 2018
at http://klearsreviews.blogspot.com/2018/05/guest-post-keith-jahans.html?m=0

Reviews and Ratings

July 3, 2017

It is essential for any writer who wants to get his or her work taken seriously to get it reviewed and get the review published on a webpage where it can be bought.  Most review sites ask reviewers to rate the books they review and these usually range from 1 star (the lowest rating) to 5stars (the highest).  It is good for the writer’s ego to achieve a large number of 5 star ratings.  This also encourages potential readers to buy and, in the case of sites like Amazon, can help boost its sales ranking.

But a 5 star rating is seldom always possible.  Readers are subjective about what they like to read and an author can never satisfy everybody.  One or two 1 star reviews will always lower a book’s overall ranking, but these should never put the potential reader off reading it.  The ratings are often chosen by the reviewer arbitrarily and a reader should read the reviews from a range of ratings before allowing them to let these influence their choice.

My tendency is to read at least three reviews ranging from the highest star rating to the lowest and then decide for myself if I think that the content of the book might be one that I will enjoy.  But if I have read the author before and like his or her work then this will tend to override the notice I take of the reviews.  More often than not the recommendation of a friend will take president as word of mouth is often the best way that works of real merit are disseminated.  When I finish the book I almost always review it and try to give it as honest a rating as possible.  As a writer-publisher myself, I know that most writers will appreciate this.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press

Book Reviews

October 29, 2012

There are hundreds of books published each month so it is impossible for all of them to be reviewed by a reputable critic.  All authors like their book reviewed but only extracts from the favourable ones get used on the jacket.  There is no doubt that good reviews are good for publicity but it is questionable whether the reader takes much notice of them.

Peatmore Press took great trouble to find reviewers for its first published book, Cogrill’s Mill but it was considered doubtful whether buyers took any notice of these when extracts were printed on the jacket or its website as the reviewers were hardly recognised household names.


Most reviewers at that time expected payment especially if it was required by a specific publication date.  So when successive books were published the Company went ahead and launched them without any glowing tributes to accompany them preferring to rely on word of mouth to help.


After all, it is not what is printed on the jacket or even the beginning of the story or the ending written specifically to grab the readers’ attention that matters; it is the bit in the middle which counts.

Book Review – The Rub by Peter Oram

April 18, 2011

A haunting tale with plenty of atmosphere posing disturbing questions which the reader is required to answer.  The town the protagonist finds himself in is bleak and disturbing and the scenery he passes through is expertly drawn.  The strange people who appear or fail to appear add to the puzzle.  The sense of menace implied by these characters and by the desolate surroundings emphasise the story’s dark tone.  It is a short novel but the underlying questions provide much food for thought and make it well worth the read.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press (http://peatmore.com).

Book Review – Cloak of Magic by S. A. Rule

January 12, 2011

The story follows the fortunes of two men in the mystical land of Shaihen where warlords and magicians rule.  It is the first part of a fantasy series featuring the same characters.  The author has a good feeling for plot development and political intrigue.

Characters are well drawn and are all too human.  Their strengths and frailties are readily apparent.  Kierce, is certainly not an all powerful magician.  He is flawed, vulnerable to temptation and the energy sapping power of his own magic.  His friend, Caras, has a strong sense of duty and provides a strong contrast to the other’s scheming.

The mythical world is nicely painted.  The narrative is believable, able to surprise and keeps the reader enthralled and enchanted right to the end.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press (http://peatmore.com)

Cloak of Magic is published by Authors OnLine Ltd

Book Review – Punching Judy by David James

August 23, 2010

David James has painted a vivid picture of 1950s south London following the lives of Jude, a young woman raised by care homes and Harry, otherwise known as Ape, an aging ex boxing coach.  Jude has a talent for scrapping, a talent which might save her from a life of crime and spells in and out of prison.  Ape can help if she will let him, and if he can survive bouts of drinking and depression.

The story follows their struggle through the underclass of their time.  They could both help each other to survive, and maybe even prosper, but may not realize it.

The story is raw.  You can smell the drab dirty streets, pubs, boarding houses and the blood and sweat of the ring.  It tells of a world of women’s championship boxing, of fixed fights and a chance for the big time.  Judy, ‘The Slugger’, Smith and Apeman Harry O’Riordan are sympathetic characters and we are compelled to know what will happen to them as they move through backstreets inhabited by colourful and grotesque characters.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore press (http://peatmore.com).

Punching Judy is published by Trafford Publishing:   http://www.trafford.com

Book Review – Lane’s End by Julie Round

August 10, 2010

This is a compelling story with a moving central character.  It has a poignant theme showing that no matter how much you strive to succeed in life the motives and actions of others will affect the outcome.

The descriptions of the various forms of bullying Bernard receives are unfortunately very believable and highlight attitudes of many who make no attempt to understand persons less able than themselves.  Those that suffer with learning difficulties are particularly at risk since their problems are not outwardly apparent.  The attitude of some of the social service professions encountered by the family was most disturbing and shows the fallibility of modern day bureaucracies that are there to protect the vulnerable.

The meeting between Katie and Bernard seemed on first reading to be too much of a coincidence but such coincidences do happen and at that point in the story Bernard needed a break.

Bernard’s tale is one of heartache and struggle but shows with help and understanding it is possible to win through.   Much of that help is provided by Zack and Rose, who come across as examples of life’s unsung heroes and heroines.  Without such people it is impossible to see how any of us, let alone the intellectually disadvantaged, can adapt to the everyday stresses of living which is a point that comes across strongly in this thought provoking narrative.

Keith Jahans

Editor, Peatmore Press (http://peatmore.com).

Lane’s End is published by Old Stick Books: http://www.oldstickbooks.co.uk

%d bloggers like this: