Recommend a book

Why does a book fly or fall?

OK, I want to turn this around. I’ve recommended several books; here, and on Goodreads, Facebook and Amazon. Generally, the response has been positive, but in at least a couple of cases a few people really didn’t like something I liked. Now I know I sometimes like things for obscure reasons – I’m much more analytical since I started writing – I often like books because of the way something is handled rather than the whole package.

So I want to turn it round and ask you if you’d recommend this book to me.Β The name is Diaries of an Urban Panther. Yup, it features a were-panther. Cool.

From what I’ve read so far, it seems much better than the ranking suggests. There are typos and the odd wrong word chosen, but I’ve seen *far* worse.

I should state I have no interest in the publisher, and I’ve had no contact with them or the author (Amanda Arista).

It was published in July 2011, by Avon Impulse.Β It’s categorized in the paranormal romance section and there’s a hot guy.

So, if you’ve read it, or would like to partake in this experiment without reading…

If you read it – does it fly or fall for you? And what do you think of cover/blurb/title/price?
If you just look at the Amazon page and don’t want to read it – what killed it? The cover, the blurb, the title, the category, the price?

For interest only.

Alternatively … make a recommendation for a book I haven’t mentioned that you think would appeal to me or to other folk who read this page …

About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first books are available on Amazon at

17 responses to “Recommend a book”

  1. wiggiemomsi says :

    Dude, you got me with the hot guy comment!

    I will get the book and read it, but my Kindle is so loaded it may be a while. Hot guy … hmmmm … maybe I can put the book at the top of my “to read” list after all!

    Regarding the cover/blurb/title/price: The cover is interesting. I’m just SO tired of shirtless hunks and beautiful girls with tight/skimpy leather attire (yeah, I read a LOT), that the leopard is refreshing. There’s no blurb that I could see, but the title is intriguing. The price is what I’d expect to pay for maybe a second or third book in a new, well-received series. A bit too much for a first book by what appears to be a new-ish author, especially one with editing problems, according to many comments on Amazon. Misspellings and improper grammar can really pull you out of “the zone” when you’re immersed in a good story.

    By the way, Mark, I really like that you recommend different authors and books. Some I’m not interested in after reading the comments on Amazon, but most I’m willing to give a try. So far, though … I like your Bite Back series best of all!

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Aww! Thanks.

      I should, maybe, have put hot guy in quotes, because I’m not entirely sure what makes a male book character hot for readers πŸ™‚ I was quoting the blurb.

      Yes, I like the pussy cat cover. Hunks don’t work for me, but Susan Illene mentioned to me that she went into an office the other day with a fistfull of bookmarks featuring images from one of her shirtless guy photoshoots, and had them torn out of her hands. πŸ™‚

      What I didn’t like about the cover was the yellow Avon Impulse band.

      Title ‘Diary of …’ – to me this felt a little literary, but the great thing was it was different, like the cover.

      Price – yes, I agree with you.

  2. Giselle says :

    Going to try a sample, as seems expensive for first book with typos. The cover apart from the yellow band I like. I would recommend the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews as thoroughly enjoyable with great characters and the developing relationship between Kate and Curran is really interesting.

  3. Mark Henwick says :

    A general point worth noting from both Sharon and Giselle – try before you buy! You should get a pretty good idea from Amazon’s sample whether you’re going to like the book or not.

    I’d probably make an exception for an anti-hero protagonist. Sometimes it takes half the book to warm to them.

  4. Kris says :

    Hi Mark,
    I haven’t read the book so far, but I might. The cover is nice and a bit different from other covers. The yellow band is off putting though (really distracts from the cover) and I miss some visualisation of the urban bit of the title. I mean, the panther could also be walking in the jungle so some houses, cars etc to associate with a city would be nice.
    I tend to buy urban fantasy and don’t mind a bit of romance as long as the rest of the plot is good. I don’t read paranormal romance just for the romance bit, but rather like a good story with a bit of romance or a more less (realistic) hot male thrown in (as I am a woman).

    Book I can recommend (nicked from Ilona Andrews blog, followed up and really enjoyed): Returning my sister’s face and other Far Eastern tales of whimsy and malice by Eugie Foster. Beautiful short stories with an Asian touched. Loved them, and also a lovely cover.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Lol. Thank you Kris, that’s another one on my Kindle. Sigh. The Japanese fox cover is well done (but shouldn’t she have 7 tails?). It felt expensive for an impulse buy, so I moved it into the ‘Research’ budget πŸ™‚

      • Kris says :

        I must admit that I loved the title and the cover. It worked really well to make me curious, and the sample convinced me to buy. Also, it was nicely different from the many urban fantasy covers I look at.

        However, I first picked up SoH because of a recommendation on some obscure forum (cough, I think it was a Connie Suttle forum) and looked it up on the b&w Kindle so the cover wasn’t it – it was the sample and description that made me curious enough to buy.

        Personally I think all the covers of the oversexed men and women are boring now, and I am glad you didn’t take that route with Amber. I like to get a feel for the protagonists with the covers and your covers work for me. πŸ™‚

        Also a nice book but a dreadful cover that could give you the wrong idea about the book is Master of Crows by Grace Draven. It is also a love story, but the cover suggests cheesy love story and it’s much better than that.

      • Mark Henwick says :

        I am delighted to hear someone recommended me on a Connie Suttle forum! I’ve got her first book, but haven’t read it yet. She writes quickly and her series seem very popular.

        On covers, you may have seen that there’s a guy who parodies UF & SF covers which feature women – he does this by dressing up and posing in the same way as the cover. Gross! I was determined not to give him anything to work with πŸ™‚

        Other than that, I thought how Amber would want herself portrayed! The model (Maria Askew) loves the covers except for HT, where I wanted to accentuate a brooding threat of violence and just ended up with a face with shadows – my least favorite cover.

        I put Master of Crows on my wish list. The cover is spectacularly *not* for me.

        I’ve read the first few pages of the Eugie Foster, and I like it. I’m looking forward to reading it when I have the time.

  5. larry paroubek says :

    Agreement on the yellow “Avon Impulse” detracting from the cover’s impact. The choice of title/author colors and type-size is also unappealing — yellow & orange isn’t that interesting, and the type-size (and placement) detracts from the panther’s impact. (She) does a bit better with her 2nd & 3rd book covers, but still over-sizes the type, and the covers really don’t provide much of a story introduction…

    The initial price-point appears to have been $4.99, given that one reviewer “wants her $5.00” back.
    I note that on both Kindle app & B&W Kindle, the first review, written soon after the book’s offering, is a “one star”, mentioning many grammar & typo problems, and several additional reviewers state continuity issues.

    I also note that her first book received only 22 reviews, her second 15, and her 3rd 13. It would seem that those that enjoyed reading the first book read the entire series, but that it picked up no additional readers.

    Her books seem sizable (400+ pages, though page-size depends on many factors), and would normally be seen as a value, so something else is limiting her sales. I see that HarperCollins also simultaneously published as a mass market paperback, and that she has many more reviews on Goodreads, also with rapidly declining book review numbers – 201, 107, 71.

    I’ll try a sample when time permits…

    • wiggiemomsi says :

      Wow, Larry, you are really precise when you investigate a book. Very impressive!

    • larry paroubek says :

      The sample from the initial book was reasonably good, though the author perhaps overused descriptive writing, passive voice, and some alliteration. The sample also didn’t provide a good idea of the book’s rhythm and pace, or series scope. I did appreciate the author’s primary POV introduction, as “scrambled Violet”…

      However, reading samples from books 2 & 3 showed a more juvenile and fragmented writing style, enough so that I merely scanned rather than read them. The author used a “Dear Diary” device to summarize what had gone before — not all that effective. The backbone of the series scope appeared to be a prophecy involving Violet, and additional supernaturals such as fairies and elementals were introduced…
      If the author’s writing style had changed within the first book to resemble the style shown in (her) 2nd & 3rd books, I can see numerous reasons for reader disinterest…

  6. elkwood says :

    I went ahead and read all 3 and its Ok. Its a bit more of what i call a fluff book then i normally care for. I tolerated the 1st book and skimmed most of the 2nd book. Read the 3rd book The biggest thing i took away from the books is that the authors world building is weak. .

    Think ill try Storm Rise by Skye Knizley next.

    U might like the Sensor Novels by Susan ILLene

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Skye Knizley looks an interesting setting – I added the first to my wish list.
      Thanks for the feedback on Diaries. I’ve read a bit more and it does feel a little light – powers come easily, danger is a bit unfocused. I’ll give a fuller review later on this thread.

  7. Mark Henwick says :

    Okay, I’ve finished Urban Panther. Nothing wrong with the book. There are a few too many typos. The action is light and the emphasis on romance, which is fine, but not my choice. As with many romance-biased novels, the action suffers (from my reading point of view); her best friend has been kidnapped and the world may be about to end (which only she can stop), but she’s just gotta bed this hot guy right now. The writing’s good, the characters are fine and worldbuilding is okay. If you like the emphasis on romance, I’d definitely recommend it to you.

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