Book Reviews: The Good and Bad Apples

April L. Blanding
AKA Vogue!


So, you’ve finally finished your manuscript (congrats!), have decided on a publisher or have chosen to self-publish and are looking for your first shot at marketing your product. Aside from social media, which is the quickest outlet to reach an audience, you learn that the next most common marketing tip out there is to send your book to reviewers.

Yes, this means that you will be providing a free retail copy of your book, gifting an ebook or even sending a PDF file to book lovers across America and beyond. Then, you start, “the wait.” The wait is the waiting period from when the book reviewer gets your book, reads it and then finally posts their review. This process can take months, but there is no greater feeling then when you see a four star or five star review on your newly published novel. Even, a three star review, if written professionally with constructive criticism can become one of your favorite book reviews.

Nevertheless, there are always bad apples with good apples. These are the book reviews that you did not solicit; the ones that are written unprofessionally, with rude and uncouth remarks that make you question the sanity of these individuals. You know these reviews, you’ve read these reviews and perhaps, you may have even written one. Maybe, these reviews were not left on your book, but you have seen them.

These reviews feature comments such as, “I’m seriously getting fed up with these authors,” “I’m a big fan, I can’t believe you wrote this bad book,” “Don’t waste your money on this book, wait until it’s in the library,” or even, “If I could throw this book out of the window and run over it 5 million times then I would.”

The worst book review that I have come across is not even a legitimate book review. An Amazon user gave a book a 1-star review simply because the book was only available on Kindle. This review prompted me to take a look at Amazon’s guidelines for Customer Reviews. Reviews as such should not be featured on any author’s product.

However, when you are the author, how do you deal with these reviews? Quite naturally, we may want to contact the person and give them a piece of our mind. Still, our feelings have been hurt and our brand has been slightly tarnished. Personally, I believe that the best way to overcome the burn is to vent, get it out of your system and move on. Sometimes, we give so much attention to the negative that we lose sight of the positive. Remember this, every wound heals over time.

Nevertheless, what I would like for readers who leave the “bad apples” to understand is this: The author (s) who wrote the book you are reading is human. We are not invincible and we are not superhuman. Just like you, we laugh, we cry, we get mad, we get nervous, we make mistakes, we learn from our errors and in a nutshell- we have feelings. Take a second and think about what you are posting before you hit submit. This does not mean that you can’t voice your opinion, but there is a line between constructive criticism and being cruel.

For all of you authors out there, keep your head up, keep writing and keep working towards your goal. No one can stop, but you!

The Ace of
by Vogue

Since his release from prison, Brookstone’s most notorious drug lord, Jay Santiago, has been hard at work rebuilding his life and empire. With two businesses under his belt and one in the making, Jay is readily known as one of New York’s elite men. 

While the root of his financial status lies in the newly rebuilt Santiago cartel, Jay is determined to expand his wealth. After reconnecting with an old comrade, he believes that he has found the one thing that could increase his fortune and allow him to leave behind the dangers of his criminal enterprise for good. 

However, as Jay’s new business venture begins to come to fruition, he quickly learns that the one material object that he loves the most could lead to his biggest downfall yet.

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Author April L. Blanding/ Vogue
Vogue is the author of Diamonds in the Rough and Diamonds Are Forever. A native of Greenville, South Carolina, she is a graduate of Winthrop University, possessing a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and is a proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Vogue currently resides in Rock Hill, South Carolina. 
Excerpts from The Ace of Diamonds
Carmen stared out the window as Kane’s Jeep backed
out of the driveway. She wanted to  call him to come back, but she knew
that he wouldn’t. While they had cleared the air on one issue, another one had
surfaced. This one, though, she couldn’t fix. She was nine months pregnant and
Nyla was coming regardless of how Kane felt. He might not have liked the idea,
but he knew when they renewed their vows that she was pregnant. He seemed okay
with it then, but obviously the whole thing was an act.
When his car disappeared out of the gates, Carmen
began to think that her marriage wasn’t going to survive. If Kane was running
out now then she knew it would be worse when Nyla came. Jay would be around
more than ever and she would be forced to communicate with him. There might
even be times when he had to come to the house. The distance between her and
Kane would only grow.
Carmen pulled the curtains closed as she made her
way back to the bed. She sat down, and tried to fight back her tears. She and
Kane had been fine until Jay’s lawsuit, which sent them spiraling back into a
place that neither one of them wanted to be. Carmen wanted to come up with an
answer to fix everything, but she couldn’t. Softly crying, she did the only
thing she knew how; she prayed to God for guidance and strength. She told
herself that this would be the last time she would allow Kane to leave. After
tonight, she would put her foot down. If she wanted to 
save her marriage, she had to act like it, now or

Diamonds in the Rough by Vogue

Carmen Davenport is living the American dream. Born with a silver spoon in her mouth, she has anything that a twenty-one year old college student would want. This includes one of the most lucrative clothing companies in New York. The only thing missing is love until she lays eyes on Jay Santiago, a Puerto Rican drug lord. Almost instantly, Carmen begins to fall for him. After securing the rights to her inheritance, Carmen soon learns that Flame, Inc. is headed towards a downward spiral. Too ambitious to allow her dream to go down the drain, Carmen begins pulling at all lifelines to save her company. Putting aside everything she’s ever believed in, Carmen soon finds herself entangled in a web of lies, betrayal, and crime.
Vogue is the pseudonym of April L. Blanding, a 2007 graduate of Winthrop University, possessing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work. She is originally from Greenville, SC, but resides in Rock Hill, SC. Diamonds in the Rough is her debut novel while Diamonds are Forever is the second instalment. She was named as author of the month (June) by Angelique The Novelist and BK Walker. Currently, Vogue is working on the fourth book in the series, Black Diamonds.
I asked Vogue a few questions:
1. What inspired you to write?
I became inspired to write after reading a few of urban fiction/street lit novels that were absent of a female character that I could relate to. Mostly in the genre, the lead female character is born in a hard environment without a positive support system. Wanting to read something different, I decided to take matters into my own hand and pen a new kind of urban fiction novel.
2. How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
Right now I have about eight. I am on the verge of submitting The Ace of Diamonds (Part III of The Diamonds Collection) to my publisher so hopefully then I will have seven.
3. How did you find your publisher?
I was searching around on the Internet for different publishing companies and link led to another. I can’t remember the exact way I found the company, but I’m just glad I did!
4. How do you juggle a writing schedule?
I’ve created a daily schedule for myself that allows time for writing. Sometimes my writing process is interrupted, but when this happens, I try to still squeeze in some time even if it is only twenty minutes.
5. What’s the best/worse part of being a writer?
The best part of being writer is receiving the positive feedback from readers. You never know who is reading your work and it makes the day go faster when you receive that one email message from a total stranger who fell in love with your writing. The worst part of being a writer is dealing with the harsh reality of the business. It can be discouraging at times because of the stereotype of the small publishers but I’ve leaned to keep trucking thoughout the madness.
6. What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
There really isn’t a set time during the day that is the most productive. I write when the inspiration comes.
7. Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
Most of my projects are outlined in my head first and then becomes notes on paper. Once an entire novel is outlined, I then began writing the book on my laptop. With a ten book series, I have to keep up with ages, births, death etc so it is important that I make notes of everything along the way.
8. What/who do you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from everywhere. It could be from a song, music video, or even a conversation. Recently, I was inspired by Drake’s new music video “Find You Love,” to switch the setting on a portion of Diamonds N’ Roses (Book Five of he Diamond Collection) to the Bahamas or Jamaica.
9. Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write, such as a word count?
I don’t have a goal as far as word count, but I like my novels to range between 350-400 pages. However, when it is formatted for print, it definitely exceeds this number.
10. Are you a published or a self published author and how do you come up with your cover art?
I am a published author. I came up with my cover art based off the main hightlights of the novel. I use stock photography that I feel represents the novel. I am credited with the cover concept of my debut novel and have recently came up with the concept for my second (Diamonds are Forever – Book Two of The Diamond Collection).
11. What are you working on now that you can talk about?
Currently, I am planning my book release party, which is set to be held on July 29th in Fort Mill, SC. I am also rewriting and editing Black Diamonds (Book Four of The Diamond Collection).
12. How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
I’ve only received one rejection letter, which was for my third novel, The Ace of Diamonds. I didn’t get the full effect of being rejected because I had two novels accepted when I first submitted them. I took the rejection as a learning experience. It gave me feedback on what my readers potentially want to see in the series and encouraged me to stetch my imagination more than what I had.
13. What’s your advice about getting an agent?
As an author without an agent, there is not much advice that I can give. I have looked into different literary agents, but that was before stubbling upon Passionate Writer Publishing. My knowledge in terms of literary agents is very limited.
14. Do you have a critique partner?
Yes, my critique partner is one of my sorority sisters who wants to be a book reviewer. However, since the release of Diamonds in the Rough, I have had numerous offers from friends who want to be my critique partner.
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