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Friday, May 22, 2015

Interview with an Amazon Reviewer (Douglas Meeks)


Blog Tour:


Joanna Guidoccio - Why I Love Heroes with Titles

And Sandra Dailey - How I Name My Characters

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I have a special reader interview for everyone this month...I grilled an Amazon reviewer! Okay, so grilled isn’t the right word. But Douglas Meeks did agree to be interviewed while reading and reviewing quite a few books, so lets all give him a hearty welcome!


1. Hi Douglas, how did you become an Amazon Reviewer?

It kind of happened by accident, I would leave a review every now and then (my first Amazon review was 1997 of the CD Captain Beyond). Then once I started reading Paranormal Romance (PNR) and Urban Fantasy (UF) for some reason people started reading my reviews and voting them as helpful. My rating fluctuates but today I am around Top Reviewer 260 and a Goodreads Top 1% Reviewer.

2. What do you like most about being an Amazon Reviewer? And what do you like least?

I enjoy being able to share my opinions and try to give good solid reasons for my ratings (yes I fail at times) and to be honest it helped identify me to authors and publishers when I was begging for ARCs a few years ago (I get TOO many now LOL). The thing I hate about Amazon (other than the VINE Program) are trolls that seem to be able to run wild and downvote reviews for no reason. I have some of my best reviews buried due to a few trolls (or possibly other reviewers with ghost accounts).

3. That would aggravate me too. Who is your favorite author and why?

Why don’t I just give you my first born male child, at least that would not make any author mad at me. J  Seriously, I read over 200 books a year and to actually say any one of them was my “favorite” would be impossible. I can say that a few of the authors that constantly get 5 Star reviews from me are Ilona Andrews, Grace Draven, Elizabeth Hunter, Faith Hunter and Anne Bishop (and yes there are many more)

4. That's a lot of books! What book can you read over and over again?

The thing with being a reviewer is you really don’t have time to reread books and really the best ones stick with me and don’t require a reread BUT there are three exceptions to that rule:  Written in Red by Anne Bishop (possibly the finest UF novel ever written IMHO) – Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes (have read this over a dozen times and it still chokes me up) – The High Crusade by Poul Anderson (reread too many times to count, many people can’t suspend their belief system enough to really enjoy this madcap tale of adventure). First published in book form in 1960 by Doubleday, it has been published in (at least) 1968, 1983, 1991 (by the SFBC and again by Baen Books), 2003, and most recently in 2010 (it has its own Wiki page).

Image found HERE.
5. I'm going to have to add those three to my TBR list. Do you judge a book by its cover?

I really don’t but a professional cover helps and an obvious amateurish cover does detract.  Note to authors:  It is worth the money to get a professional cover artist.

6. Who is your favorite fictional character?

Again, I can’t name one BUT at the risk of upsetting some of my author friends I can name a few that I am sure I have left somebody important out:

Kate Daniel (you might as well add Curran since they come as a package) and they are just the ultimate couple and Ilona Andrews makes their stories unforgettable.

Jane Yellowrock by Faith Hunter who is the do it all, ultimate kick ass heroine. Be afraid, be very afraid!

Gin Blanco by Jennifer Estep – The most deadly of the bunch in many ways and NEVER try to harm one of her friends, it seems to be fatal in almost every instance.

I love Diana Rowland’s heroines, she took 2 everyday people and then made them  more than they ever thought they might be (even if she had to make one of them a zombie).

Skinwalker by Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock series)
Image found HERE.

7. Those are some awesome characters! Which author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

I have many authors I love and only one that I hate/detest (no I won’t tell you here) but only one author seems to be driving me crazy recently and that is Kristen Painter who writes amazing stories and just as I am being sucked into a subplot the book ends and you have to wait on the next one, pure evil!

8. As a writer, I love to do that. ;) Growing up, what was your favorite children’s book?

The Wizard of Oz books by L. Frank Baum, I remember being so excited when I went to the library and saw that there were 14 books and not just one.

9. Currently, what is your favorite book or series?

Too many to name, I am dying for the next book by Grace Draven to follow-up Radiance, I may have to hunt Elizabeth Hunter down to get a copy of The Secret. I mean 2 YEARS I have waited. I am reading the whole Watchers series by Lilith Saintcrow at present. The best romance I have read in years (forever?) was The Kraken King by Meljean Brook, I just finished Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop and WOW .. OK, I better stop now.

10. What would you like to know about the authors you enjoy reading the most?

The one thing they can’t really tell me “How do you come up with these stories from nowhere?”


Hyper Round:



1.    Ebooks or Print books?  ebooks

2.    Movie Adaptations: Yay or Nay? Nay – most suck bigtime

3.    Favorite reading spot? In front of my computer
4.    Favorite reading snack? Goldfish crackers, no concentration required.




Reviewer Bio:

Well after spending a lifetime working in or with the military I finally had made enough to sit back and do as much (or as little) as I wanted to and since I had always been an avid reader the jump to making it one of my major pastimes was easy.  I have traveled all over the world, been to the top of the Eiffel Tower and to the Devil’s Anvil in Saudi Arabia, been on top of the highest mountain in the Middle East and the lowest in the USA. 

No complaints here, I have read many different genres over the years but stumbled into Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy after many years of reading mostly books in the Fantasy genre.  Found out I liked books that did not spend pages and chapters telling the color of grass and the feel of a rock, I wanted a good story about people of action and feeling that did not always end up in some tragedy.  I have been married (somehow) for 30+ years and have 3 daughters and one son (who is presently in the Mideast working for the military, runs in the family).

In my spare time other than reading and doing those myriad tasks that come with living in a house, I spend a bit of time honing my weapon skills.  I always felt that people should be able to defend themselves but people that did not take the time to get skilled in weapons were a danger to people around them.  I go to the range and take my daughters most of the time (and my son if he is in country) so they do not fall into that category of victims who did not know how to defend themselves with a weapon.

Reviewer Links:


Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Douglas! Happy Reading and Reviewing! :)


QUESTIONS: Have you ever read The High Crusade or any of the books/authors Douglas mentioned? Do you write reviews on Amazon?


64 comments:

  1. Wow, that's about 3x the number of books I read in a year and I haven't read any of those authors.

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    1. Isn't that awesome? And I haven't read any of those authors either. When I do these interviews I realize I'm not as read as I thought I was.

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  2. Interesting. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into Douglas' world. I post reviews from time to time, and certainly agree with his assessment of stinking reviewer trolls!

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    1. Reviewer trolls need to get a new hobby.

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  3. Great interview Douglas. I haven't read any of the books �� mentioned but will add them to my TBR list.

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    1. I'm adding a bunch of those books to my TBR list too.

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  4. Its really nice this interview, picked up a few things. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Wow, that is a ton of books to read in a year. And yeah the trolls suck, you get people overseas who create 40,000 amazon accounts and then get hired to downvote reviews

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    1. That's horrible. And what's the purpose? I really don't get it. It's a shame that people can be so cruel to each other over a review.

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  6. Well I hope I am not posting this 3 times but for an update , just finished Eighth Grave After Dark and my head still is spinning from all the stuff that happened, may be the most "WTF just happened??" moments in any book in a long time LOL

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A3NVB6HKMUH2NM/

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    1. Nope, this only went through once. You're good.

      I love WTF moments! ;)

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  7. Well, now I have a bunch of books to add to my TBR list. Jeez! 200 books a year! I'm lucky is I get 50 (in fact, last year I think I only read 27, but I'm already two ahead of that this year - it's been a good reading year so far). I think just reading and reviewing books all day sounds like an awesome job.

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    1. This year I'm trying to read 75 books and I'm afraid I won't meet that goal.

      That does sound like an awesome job!

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  8. I haven't written any reviews, but this is an exceptional interview!!

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    1. You should write reviews for books you like, Dixie. The authors appreciate it. Even if it's a couple of sentences long to say why you liked the book, it counts and it matters. :)

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  9. This was a fun interview to read. He is very prolific in his reviews and reading boooks! I will occasionally leave a review; I'm trying to get better at remembering to do so. I do like that "satisfaction" when I get notice from Amazon that I review I had written helps another person decide to get the book or not. I'm also trying to remember to leave reviews about restaurants, hotels, etc., that we visit, both the good and the bad :)

    betty

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    1. Reviews are so help. Not just for the authors who need them but for the readers who look at the reviews to help them decide if that want to read a book or not.

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  10. Yep. I'm one of the Amazon Vine Voice Reviewers. It's hard keeping up with all the review requests while trying to do my own writing! 200 books a year is a lot!

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    1. I don't know how you do it, Sherry.

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  11. That's so awesome. I'm hoping to make it into the top 1000 reviewers one day. I in the top 4000 right now. I do write reviews but not just on books. Right now I get a lot of products for free or at a discount so I write reviews for those and for the books I read.

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    1. I know you'll make it there, Mary! I love your reviews. Keep it up! :)

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  12. Very interesting interview! I don't usually write reviews, except when I read a blogger buddy's book. :)

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    1. Writing reviews for blogger buddies is great. Especially since we usually have less readers and fewer reviews than more established authors.

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  13. As a footnote, the hottest reviews I have at the moment are for Dark Heir by Faith hunter and the review I wrote for my new Dyson (which I did just as a spur of the moment thing). you never know what will appeal to people.

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R3FKDBZEO8YQM6/

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    1. Thanks for the footnote and the link! :)

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  14. I have to admit, most of those books I've never read. However, I have read Flowers for Algernon and it's my all time favourite book. I've read it about five times. it's just awesome!

    Great interview!

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    1. I don't think any movie could ever capture that book, they made a good movie but it could not capture the feeling of that book as you watched his entries and knew what was happening

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    2. I agree. I found the film, ok. That was about it. Nothing like reading his aktual jurnal entrys.

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    3. It seems these books are "hidden" gems. I'm interested in them all now thanks to Doug. And so are several comments, so that's a major plus for the authors he highlighted. :)

      I've never seen the movie for Flowers of Algernon...although it does sound familiar...so I won't be able to contribute to this conversation. :(

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    4. LOL, nice touch there Jeffrey

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  15. AARRRGGG! The reason I stay so far behind on my reviews is I very seldom (pronounced NEVER) say no to free books. Macmillan just offered me the whole new trilogy from Lori Handeland (loved her Creature books) and of cource I took them, well duh! Free books, free GOOD books I assume (insert excuse from list)

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    1. Free books can be everyone's downfall! Readers love them (who doesn't love free books?), but they make our reading lists longer and longer. I've snatched up a bunch of free eBooks and now I have a Kindle app bursting with eBooks that I need to read.

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  16. Great interview, Chrys! Nice to meet you Douglas. I loved Flowers For Algernon and did a presentation for English class in high school on that one. I haven't read any of the other (contemporary) authors you've mentioned so I will definitely check those out! Good Reads is such a great site for avid readers and authors alike. Have a good weekend guys!!

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    1. Goodreads is my favorite place to be as an author and reader. :)

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  17. I've heard good things about FLowers for Algernon, and it seems I'd better get to it soon! It's excellent hearing from Douglas and his love for UF. I do leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, more often on the latter. And I like reading reviews before deciding on a purchase.

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    1. I'm one of those readers who don't read reviews before I purchase. I do the silly thing and read them when I'm writing my review to see if my experience was the same. :)

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  18. I think I was a Top 500 reviewer at one point, but my rank slipped a lot since I stopped reviewing so frequently. I really need to consistently return to reviewing things.

    My biggest pet peeve about Amazon reviews are the folks who give "not helpful" votes because you didn't confirm their bias. I've seen so many honest, well-written reviews (not just mine) getting voted down simply because they didn't give 5 stars and squee all over the book. I'm not going to pretend I loved the massively overrated Book Thief or Ernest Hemingway simply because popular opinion feels differently. I also hate when people leave comments to try to convince you your own personal reaction and opinions are wrong. I actually had an even worse opinion of a book I gave 3 stars to after a friend of the author left some long comment talking about how it was strongly based on her life and circle of friends in the Sixties. The author put way too much of herself and her real-life friends into that book, instead of creating more original characters and storylines.

    Another big pet peeve are the people who leave 1-star reviews because they couldn't be bothered to read the product description before ordering, a third-party seller screwed them, the spine was bent, the box was empty, the CD was broken, someone stole their credit card to order the book for a child.

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    1. I agree, Carrie-Anne. Everyone had their own opinion and no one should "vote down" someone's opinion just because it's not the same as yours. Now if the reviewer was especially cruel and for no reason at all, or ranks a book with 1 star for a stupid reason (like you mentioned), then yes I'll down vote it.

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  19. Nice to hear about a reviewer. I had not heard of those books, but I'll have to check them out. I don't write reviews on Amazon or anywhere. It's really hard to do. I applaud those that do it well.

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    1. I wish you would, Liz. I know those of us who know you would love a review from you if you read our books and like them. :)

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  20. so cool, I leave reviews sometimes but never knew anyone who did it like this!! I haven't read those books but I will now--also, goldfish crackers FTW. :)

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    1. It's surprising that not many people do it. It makes you wonder how many reviews a book could have if everyone who reads it reviews it.

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  21. He's very dedicated! I really need to leave more reviews, but sometimes I go straight from one book into another and forget to review the previous one. I didn't know many of his favourite authors, but their books sound good.

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    1. I write a review while I'm reading the book so I don't forget anything. :)

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  22. Talk about being able to enjoy life now. This is wonderful to read so many books. Have there been any books that just made your eyes roll into the back of your head and you couldn't finish? Are there any books out there that are best sellers but you wonder why (Shade of Beige??) Great interview

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    1. I have had several DNF (Did Not Finish) but I usually don't leave 1-2 Star reviews since it IS a matter of opinion unless it seems that nobody is warning people about a really bad book.

      Radiance by Grace Draven and Written In Red by Anne Bishop are two of the finest things I have read in the last year. I always caveat these type statements because ANY Kate Daniels book by Ilona Andrews is 5 Star but you pretty much have to start at book 1 and pull yourself through the first 3 books and then you are hooked for life (too many people have had this same experience for it just to be only my opinion, confusing world but by the end of book 3 you are selling drugs to get the money to buy the next book)

      50 Shades is a complete mystery to me, poorly written, story that should subtract IQ points LOL ....... BUT that is MY opinion and obviously it is a minority opinion but the success of those books boggles the imagination.

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    2. 50 Shades is curious. I personally didn't think it was horrendously written or as amazing as so many claim. There were a few plot points that I liked, but I don't know why they are as big as they are.

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  23. Great interview, Chrys. I’ve read some of Douglas’s reviews, and they’re terrific. He says exactly what he likes and what he doesn’t without synopsizing the entire book (drives me nuts that so many reviewers do that). I occasionally write reviews, and it takes a lot of thought an effort. Kudos to Doug.

    VR Barkowski

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    1. I also hate it when reviewers synopsis the whole book in a review. When I review, I give a set up for the story and thing talk about my experience as a reader.

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  24. That stinks about the trolls. I kind of came late to reviewing, so I don't know if I'll ever make a top list. ;) It was great learning about Douglas.

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    1. I think, in time, you will Medeia. You read a ton of books every week. You put my reading to shame! ;)

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  25. Cool interview! He sounds like my kind of reviewer and refreshingly down-to-earth. I occasionally leave reviews when I have the time, since I don't think it's right to simply whip up a review. I haven't read the books Douglas mentioned but he's sure made me want to!

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    1. You're right. It's better to want to write a review than to whip one up just because you "have" to.

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  26. I had an article posted on a website that has a lot of trolls...one of the commenters disagreed with what I wrote. She spent hours posting nasty comments (I wasn't even responding--I was completely absent) and finally got herself so riled up, she went over to my book and left a nasty review. She'd never read the book...she was just mad and wanted to hurt me somehow. I'm SO glad for legitimate professional reviewers who take it seriously and help make the review system more authentic. If not for them, I fear what would become of Amazon's review feature...

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    1. This is a link to my most popular review ever, read the comments section (be assured several Not Helpful votes came along with some of those comments

      http://www.amazon.com/review/R1ANVB1243ROI/.

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  27. HI Chrys. What a great interview. No, I don't recall reading any of Douglas' faves. Not my favourite genre. I've done many Amazon reviews but got sick of the trolls Douglas mentioned. Now I just review on goodreads unless an author asks me to drop it elsewhere as well.

    You go live on my blog in 6 hours from now. Looking forward to it.

    Denise :-)

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    1. Those trolls are terrible! Goodreads is a fun place to review, though. I always post my reviews there first.

      Thank you, Denise! You did an awesome job with my guest post and that picture. I love it! :D

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  28. I loved this interview. So interesting to see things from a reviewer's point of view.

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    1. Thanks, Misha! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

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  29. I am moved to write reviews if I really loved the book. I try to stay away from writing negative reviews as much as possible, so if I hated a book, I generally won't review it.

    Interesting interview! Thanks for sharing it.

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  30. I am the same way. I've never written a one or two star review.

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    1. While I could count the 2 Star reviews I have written on 1 hand (no 1 Star that I recall), this is my goal as a reviewer, it is a 1 Star review on Goodreads but it is probably more entertaining than the book. I read it about 10 times a year and always wonder "Will I ever write a review that people will love this much ". Read it and you will see why LOL

      https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/355772527

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    2. That review is epic! Hands down the best 1 star review ever written.

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