Book Blogging Reviews

My Chestnut Reading Tree

“For me, to get all the stars in my review ratings a book has to do one of two things -be totally unputdownable or to surprise the hell out of me!! Ravens Gathering has the enviable honour of doing BOTH of those things!”

“I couldn’t put this book down!”

“I saw all the clues but had missed them big time and I was left speechless…”

“This author has one brilliantly warped imagination!!”

“I absolutely loved Ravens Gathering and am desperate to see if the village will be revisited by the author in any future books.”

“I loved chapter 14 in part 4 so much I had to reread it – such an evocative observation”

Book Lovers’ Booklist

“Such a mixed bag shouldn’t work – surely it’s against the rules to blend genres so thoroughly?

Perhaps, but Ravens Gathering is a page-turning read because the writing grounds the reader in reality.”

“…there are some nasty mind-control things going on that had echoes of John Wyndham’s classic sci-fi tale The Midwich Cuckoos.”

“…Cumming handles it with a restraint that allows the reader to accept the unbelievable as entirely credible.”

Echoes of the Pen

“A dark and thrilling debut novel…”

“…an ambitious and well written book…”

Drake Morgan

“Small town, hidden secrets is a well-trod path. But Cumming’s narrative and creative elements elevate this beyond the usual.”

“His characters are well-developed and complex.”

“As the ravens gather, we feel the town slowly tearing at the seams as secrets won’t lie buried.”

“…the writing is excellent…”

MJ Mallon Author

“The bad guy is about as horrible, wicked and debauched a villain as you can get.”

“This is a very complicated story that remains in your psyche for some time afterwards.”

“Definitely an author to watch out for – a well written, confident debut.”


“It’s not fear he arouses in Tanya – but that’s a whole other thread of the story, and so well done.”

“…you won’t want to put the book down before it ends (and I speak from experience).

“This isn’t a book for the faint-hearted…”

“My reading hasn’t always been on the lighter side – in my younger days I did have a flirtation with early Stephen King, Dean Koontz, James Herbert.  Had they lived in Nottinghamshire, this is a book any of them could have written, and been proud of.”

Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo

“…the story is neither trite nor predictable.”

“…the reader is kept guessing at the secrets and skeletons in the family closet.”

“…tension is allowed to build, quietly but steadily…”

“It is believable…and all the more effective for that.”

Suffolk Scribblings

“A great, creepy thriller”

“…everything has an air of authenticity about it.”

“While the writing style is straightforward, Cumming likes to play tricks on his readers…”

By The Letter Book Reviews

“It was quite creepy when (the ravens) started to gather and unlike the characters, I would not have been hanging around!”

“…a build up of tension waiting to find out exactly what it is. When you do find out it is certainly worth the wait.”

“Definitely one for readers who like the darker genres.”

Goodreads Reviews

“The plot is complex and twisted…”

“The opening was something we can all understand, having childhood nightmares.”

“I enjoyed Ravens Gathering. It`s village setting was brilliantly bang on reality.”

“…being a mom I don’t have a lot of spare time…but was half-way through and just couldn’t stop after that.”

“Setting off with an understated but ever present tension and sense of doom I felt exciting unease from the start…”

“The twists and turns had me stop and think a few times, with a “Oh my god,” whisper.”

“…the writing is very intense and creates suspense worthy of a Hitchcock screenplay.”

“This is a gripping and well plotted novel that should gain popularity amongst fans of the genre.

“…a dark and creepy piece of horror and mystery writing.”

“Loved the ending…love how the author kept you wanting to read more and more. LOVE THE BOOK!!!”


Amazon Reviews

“I was hooked from the very outset and really didn’t know where the author was going to take me next.”

“…it made me uncomfortable (in a good way).”

“The intricate plot is laid out smoothly, building momentum for the ultimate horrors awaiting the residents of a small village.”

“Excellent, read in 24 hours start to finish…”

“This is a cracker of a story of ordinary people with dark secrets and how they distort their lives.”

“…you can picture every scene and the characters in them.”

“I enjoyed every turn of the page and if there had been any more tension woven into the narrative I would have had to read it standing up.”

“Great characters make this story come to life, leaving the reader with goosebumps!”

“…a brilliant example of treading across genres with an explosion of tension erupting from psychological thriller and downright horror.”

“An interesting insight into human emotions and their ramifications.”

“I found myself drawn in…”

“Ravens Gathering got me hooked from the very beginning, really great to have a British writer writing in this genre…”

“It is rare that a book brings up goose bumps but the early scene with the tractor, broad daylight yet evil everywhere, set a tone that continued.”

“…I never felt far away from evil.”

“Make sure you have lots of time as you will not want to put this book down!”

“I was engrossed from start to finish.”

“I have read this genre for a long time and to find something so new and unique was great.”

“…he creates a sense of vulnerability and fear…”

“Loved the detailed description of the characters, really perceptive writing made it easy to connect with them all.”

“Definitely got me out of my comfort zone, in more ways than one.”

“I found it creepy (which is hard to do) yet I couldn’t put it down.”

“…very few books keep me reading ’til 3:30 in the morning, but this one did!”

“I don’t want to reveal the twist, and ruin the surprise for others.”

“I could not put this book down.”

“…I was so intrigued I finished the last third of the book in one sitting.”

Reviews and How to Write Them

Reviews alone aren’t going to tell you how good or bad a book is… More importantly, they don’t tell you how you will feel about it, because what you want from a book might be very different from what a reviewer wants. Nevertheless, like theatre and movie reviews, they do provide some insights that can be useful.

From an author’s perspective, they also give an indication of how their book is being received. On the basis that tastes vary, there are bound to be some reviewers who don’t like what you’ve written, so that indication isn’t always accepted with a song in the heart. Nevertheless, as writers we can learn something from each review.

In this age where Amazon is (sadly) so fundamentally important to the sale of books, the number of reviews on their site is of value in purely commercial terms. The information provided about how this works is very vague and – knowing Amazon – will change on a weekly basis anyway. What is clear, though, is that the number of reviews a book has will affect the algorithms (I know, it’s heart-pumping stuff!) that dictate how well your book is promoted. In short, the more reviews there are, the more promotion it’ll get.

The opportunity to leave a review is more widespread than it’s ever been, whether that’s for a product purchased or a holiday. But not everyone is comfortable with the idea of writing one. What do you put in it, for a start? And how long should it be?

If you are thinking about leaving a review for any book and you aren’t sure where to start, here are a few tips:

  • Know where you can go to leave book reviews. If the book has been produced through a publisher, they will often have their own websites where a review can be left. The more commonly used sites for leaving reviews are Amazon and Goodreads. In some instances, you can leave reviews on Waterstones’ website as well, so that’s another option. (Do bear in mind that you don’t have to use just one site. Once you’ve written your review, you can cut and paste the same review to as many of the websites as you feel are appropriate for you.) For ease, I have provided links to all of the relevant sites for my books at the bottom of the page
  • No review has to be an epic, so if you feel like you can only say that you enjoyed the book, just do that. Even a one-liner should be gratefully received by an author.
  • If you feel like you can add more, please do. Anyone reading reviews to help them decide whether to buy or not, will appreciate some indications of your reading experience. Perhaps a starting point will be what it was you enjoyed the most about the book – e.g. plot, character(s), setting, genre. It might even have been a particular scene.
  • It may be that you want to say more but can’t recall anything specific – particularly if you’re planning to review a book you read some time ago. If that’s the case, there’s no harm in jogging your memory by reading other reviews that have been left. But that’s all you should get from reading them – still write down your own experience in your own words.
  • For additional guidance, I’ve included here a link to a book blogger’s website. She put together some useful templates to help get new reviewers started.

You’ll note I’ve not tended to focus on negative aspects of a book when giving a review. That doesn’t mean to say I don’t want them or that you shouldn’t do them, but it is my personal preference after reading a book. If it was that bad, I’d rather just not review it. There’s nothing to be gained by hurting the author’s feelings, and a lack of reviews will probably be telling enough to prospective readers.

Review sites for Ravens Gathering (click on each link):
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