A few weeks ago I won a free copy of Charlotte Phillip's new novella Your Room or Mine on a Twitter giveaway by new digital-first imprint Harper Impulse. I was really pleased - until it dawned on me that they weren't just giving it away to be lovely and generous, but that of course they wanted reviews.
For someone who claims to know a little bit about marketing I can be quite remarkably dim sometimes!
Now, I love Charlotte's style, championed her through NV11 and adored her first M&B title Secrets of the Rich and Famous so was pretty sure I was going to love this one too (and I did. It's a lovely, bubbly read. A sweet, sexy short well worth a read) so that wasn't the problem. The problem is more that I don't often do reviews because, if push comes to shove, I'm not sure I can be impartial when it come to people I know.
It's true that I have publicised a few books on here. And it is also true that some are published by friends, the majority of them real life friends. If I did dislike their work would I publicly admit it? Of course not. Luckily this dilemma hasn't arisen yet (honest!). I didn't tell you to rush out and buy Donna Douglas' Nightingale Girls series because we used to work together and are regularly asked to leave restaurants because they would really like to go home now, but because she brings the 1930s and her huge cast of characters to life beautifully. So beautifully that I have been begging for hints about What Happens Next. She won't tell me.
Nor do I enthusiastically retweet and add to all the praise deservedly heaped on Pamela Hartshorne for Time's Echo as a thanks for all her patience and help and for always joining me in 'just one more glass'. It really is a fantastic, spine chilling book. According to my mother: 'The best book of last year, even better than Song of Achilles'. Which is high praise indeed because she loved Song of Achilles.
I genuinely loved every book mentioned on this blog. But the day will come when I am less than enthusiastic about a book written by someone I like and I don't want to be in the position of either writing a dishonest review or letting them know that. So this is why I stay away from reviewing, fab as it would be to get loads of ARCs and to be courted by publishers for my influential views *dreams*.
But to show that I am an honest reviewer here are some thoughts that I have had recently on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory a book that obviously I adore as a Children's Classic but have a few character driven problems with (especially point number one) that have been bugging me for over thirty years:
1. If Grandpa Jo is fit enough to go around the factory with Charlie why has he spent the last ten years or so in bed? Surely he could have helped his poor, hardworking, burdened son and daughter in law by tending an allotment or working part time rather than consuming cabbage soup and staying in bed? The same goes for Grandma Josephina, Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina. They can't all be that infirm!
2. No matter how amazing the chocolate is shouldn't the town boycott Wonka's products as he has contributed to the sluggish economy by firing his workers and importing slave labour? Uncut need to do some picketing.
3. Which brings me to Augustus Gloop. A victim of Wonka's products. He would probably be a better person to takeover than Charlie, he obviously adores chocolate. Although he would need some hygiene training first. And a Health and Safety course. In fact the whole factory needs a Health and Safety audit pronto.
4. Verruca Salt; a victim of her upbringing. We all have the potential to be a Verruca Salt. Nowadays she would have a reality show and no one would bat an eyelid if she ordered a £1 million crystal bathtub. Actually, that isn't true. I would. I would bat and judge. But most people wouldn't.