Tag Archives: Reviews

5 Reasons Why You Should Become a Reviewer for Long and Short Reviews

Today’s post is a little off the beaten path when compared to the topics I normally blog about here, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about discussing with my followers for a while now.

First of all, you might be asking yourself what this site is and why I’m telling you about it. Well, Long and Short Reviews is a book reviewing site that I’ve been a huge fan of for many years. They are the most professional, trustworthy, and well-run review site I’ve discovered so far, and I’ve spent countless hours researching this topic.

Long and Short Reviews comes to mind every time one of my author friends talks about their need for more book reviews. There are so many amazing stories out there that really deserve more recognition. One of the best ways for them to be discovered by people who would love them is if reviewers take the time to write about them. The more reviews an author can get, the more chances they have to find their perfect audience.

There Are Many Books to Choose From

Long and Short Reviews receives more requests for reviews than it’s current pool of reviewers can read.

Whether you’d like to read erotica, romance, mysteries, science fiction, paranormal, horror, fantasy, young adult, or children’s stories, there’s something for every reader there.

They have short stories, novellas, and full-length novels in all of these genres, too. The vast majority of the books they have available for review are e-books, so it doesn’t matter what part of the world you’re from. Any reviewer who is comfortable writing in English is encouraged to apply.

Every volunteer reviewer is also free to review from as many or as few genres as they please. Some of them only read one genre while others are known to write reviews from a wide variety of genres. No one is ever assigned a particular story. They are always free to make that decision for themselves.

All of the Reviews Are Honest and Snark-Free

One of the biggest reasons why I like Long and Short Reviews is their policy of only posting honest, snark-free reviews.

If one of the reviewers notices an issue with a story, they aren’t afraid to speak openly about what didn’t work for them and why that part of the plot, character development, pacing, or other aspect of the storyline could use some more development.

Nothing is sugar-coated, but it’s also never snarky. Any criticism a book might receive is always written with the goal of helping the author become a better writer in the future.

The kindness of their reviewers is seen in every review, from the ones that receive the highest possible score to the ones that receive the lowest possible score. I’ve seen multiple examples of authors thanking reviewers there for pointing out the parts of a story that didn’t work for them and explaining their reasons for feeling that way.

It’s a Great Way to Support Authors

As I alluded to above, writing reviews are one of the best ways to support authors. I have a wide circle of friends who are writers, and many of them talk about the difficulties of finding potential fans out there.

Every review that is published increases the chances of someone stumbling across an author they’ve never heard of before but are going to love.

I always read the reviews before I buy a new book or borrow it from the library. Doing this has steered me towards certain titles and away from other ones on many occasions.

Not every story is going to appeal to every reader. By taking the time to type up reviews of the types of books you like, you increase the chances of them being discovered by other potential fans.

Yes, I’m including less-than-stellar reviews here as well. While some criticisms that are objective like not using standard punctuation marks, many other parts of the reviewing process are highly subjective.  One person’s pet peeve in a particular genre might be stuff that another reader doesn’t mind or even really likes.The more reviews a book has, the higher the chances are of it being found by new fans who are in the market for that exact kind of story.

The Community Is Warm and Supportive

The comment sections of the reviews and blog posts on Long and Short Reviews are a wonderful place to browse if you have some free time this week.

I’ve met so many interesting people as a result of spending time on this site.

Some of the authors there have been submitting their books for years. They’ve built up relationships with the reviewers and their readers over that time that occasional spills over into the comments section.

There are also relationships being built in Saturday Seven, the weekly book meme this site created a few weeks ago that you may have noticed I’ve been participating in. It’s going to be a lot of fun to see how that community grows in the future.

You May Discover New Favourite Authors

This is by far the most subjective point on this list.

I obviously can’t promise when it might happen for you or even if it will happen at all. So much depends on what you like to read and what kinds of tales are sent in for possible review in any given month.

With that being said, Long and Short Reviews has many Indie authors and small publishers who are regularly featured there. I’d never heard of most of them before I began following this site.

A few of the authors I first discovered on this site have since been added to my very short list of authors on my I Must Read Everything They Write list.

Given how much of my free time I spend reading and how high my standards are for my must-read list, this is a pretty big compliment. If an author makes it to that list, they’re virtually always bound to stay there for good.

If You’re Interested…

If any of my readers are interested in signing up to become a reviewer, this page has all of the rest of the information you’ll need to apply. Go check them out on Twitter or the book reviews section on Long and Short Reviews to get a feel for the kind of casual, conversational writing style they’re looking for.

Don’t hesitate to speak up if you have any questions. The people who run that site are quite friendly and helpful. Of course, I’m happy to help you out, too!

A Spoiler-Free Review of Alias Grace

“When you are in the middle of a story it isn’t a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It’s only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else.”
― Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace.

The miniseries Alias Grace is based on a Margaret Atwood book by the same name. I will give you a brief, spoiler-free introduction to the storyline before diving into my thoughts on it.

Interestingly enough, this book is based on a real Canadian murder case from the 1840s. Grace Marks, a young Irish servant, was charged with murdering her master, Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper, Nancy MontgomeryJames McDermott, a stable hand on Mr. Kinnear’s farm, was also charged with their murders.

He was hung for that crime, and Grace was committed to an asylum in part because she always claimed that she didn’t remember key parts of the day that Thomas and Nancy were murdered.

Many years later, a young doctor named Simon Jordan was hired to try to get to the bottom of what really happened by a well-do-to group of people who were convinced that Grace was innocent and hoped to see her freed from that institution.

The links above will introduce you to the rest of the cast and share photographs of them, although I should warn you that some of their character descriptions contain mild spoilers. This was especially true for Nancy Montgomery. As interesting as the secondary characters were, though, Grace was the star of this show and therefore who I’m going to be focusing on in this post.

Grace’s timid personality was what first drew me into the book when I read it many years ago. She was afraid to do anything that might be misconstrued in any way, especially if it had to do with improper interactions with people from higher social classes. This personality trait continued even decades after her trial when most of the folks who wanted her to  be hanged for her alleged crimes the way James had been were no longer capable of harming her. That was fascinating and at the same time quite sad to me.

I can’t say too much else about Grace’s backstory without venturing into spoiler territory, but I can tell you that she was a desperately poor immigrant from a despised culture who came to North America with her family in search of a better life when she was a teenager.


“People dressed in a certain kind of clothing are never wrong. Also they never fart.”
― Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace

Last spring, The Handmaid’s Tale showed audiences what the future could be like for women. Alias Grace explored what  poor, working class, and otherwise low-status women living in Canada and the United States in the 1840s and 1850s were up against every time they went to work, or took a walk down the street, or simply tried to exist while being female.

While there were certainly elements of the plot that could be interpreted as paranormal, the core story was steeped in the bitter truth about what the “good old days” were really like for anyone who wasn’t wealthy and powerful. This was even more true for girls and women like Grace whose gender made them extremely vulnerable to any unscrupulous person who crossed their path. They could be – and often were – abused in many terrible ways without the men who harmed them ever facing any consequences for their actions.

When this happened, it was always assumed to be the woman’s fault. There was no room for shades of grey in that debate . This coloured Grace’s story in many ways, from how hesitant she was to share certain memories to how willing the people around her were to take her words at face value.

If you have a narrator who has been socially conditioned to strictly repress certain things through threats of violence or the permanent loss of any type of employment that isn’t prostitution, how do you know that she isn’t only telling you what you want to hear in order to protect herself? Likewise, how do you know that the wealthy and powerful characters haven’t also distorted the truth to suit their wishes?

While society has changed a lot over the last 160 years, these questions are still relevant to us today. As I neared the end of this series and began to read multiple news stories about various famous men who have been accused of abusing the people who worked for or beside them, I couldn’t help but to compare the things some people say about the accusers in 2017 to what they would have said in the mid-1800s:

She’s a liar.

She was asking for it.

It’s her fault. 

She should have known better.

As much as western society has evolved into a kinder, gentler, and more just place since the mid-1800s, some things haven’t changed much at all.

Keep this in mind as you watch this show, especially the violent moments that would be easy to judge from a twenty-first century perspective. So many of these scenarios have been repeated over and over again throughout history. Only recently have there been any attempts at all to correct them, and humanity is still feebly stumbling over many of those corrections. To the extent that black-and-white answers exist at all, they are not easy to find in or apply to Grace’s world because of how unethical the justice system was there to begin with.

No, this does not mean I’m condoning the murders of Thomas and Nancy. I have never and will never cheer for the death of anyone, but I do want to warn my readers that this isn’t the kind of show that wraps everything up neatly for the audience.

No one was completely good – or evil – in this universe. There were moments of pure kindness in characters who otherwise made my skin crawl and dark streaks in characters who were otherwise virtuous.


Was Grace Really a Murderer?

“If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.”
― Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace

One of the biggest reasons why I loved this mini-series so much had to do with how thoroughly it explored this question from every angle it could from the first episode to the last one.

Viewers who believe she was guilty can find plenty of evidence to support their claims.

Viewers who believe she was innocent can find plenty of evidence to support their claims.

Viewers who believe other explanations, ranging from the paranormal to the psychological, can find plenty of evidence for their claims as well.

I had a strong opinion about what happened when I began watching part 1. By the time I finished part 6, my mind had changed at least three or four different times as new evidence was brought to light and possible contradictions to previous evidence was revealed to the audience.

This is the kind of storytelling that keeps me coming back for more. When I rewatch this series again this winter, I have no doubt that my mind will change yet again.

Once you’ve seen this show, I’d be happy to discuss specific details of the case with anyone reading this who would like to know what I ultimately decided about Grace’s culpability. It was difficult to write this section without giving away hints about how it ended or what I decided, but I couldn’t discuss Alias Grace without acknowledging the most pressing question in the storyline.