Since Neither Here nor There is my first published book, this is the first time I’ve taken an interest in reviews as a writer. As a reader, I’ve skimmed through reviews to get an idea of whether I might be interested in a book. As a writer, reviews of my book become a lot more significant. They can vastly influence sales, and I want my book to sell because I want to become known as an author, I want people to enjoy reading it and to think about the issues raised in it and I want to make some money (although my expectations are realistic).

So what do I want from a review? Well, it’s always nice to be praised, as long as the praise seems honest. But no book can be liked unequivocally by all readers. There will always be some who find something negative, be it the genre, the writing style, the plot, the characters, the level of editing.

NeitherHereNorThereCover

Even as I was writing Neither Here nor There, it was clear to me that readers who hold certain religious beliefs would have specifc problems with it. Esty, my heroine, is in the process of leaving one community for another. Clearly those who belong or are close to the community she is leaving will have problems with the story, despite the fact that I did my best to be fair to both.

I’m sure there will be readers who have different problems with the novel, and I think all those problems should be reflected in the reviews. That’s why I’m pleased to have received my first non-five-star review, and why I hope there will be more.

Although five-star reviews are welcome, too. More than welcome!

~*~*~*~*~

Here are the reviews so far:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is well-written and kept me turning the pages to find out what would happen next. Esty, the main character, is very well-drawn and I was with her all the way as she struggles to establish her identity in a world which is new and puzzling to her. This novel achieves the often difficult balance of raising thought-provoking questions while, at the same time, providing an entertaining and satisfying read. The result is a poignant love story and more than that. I would definitely recommend it.

*

I read this lovely book almost in one sitting (well, reclining, actually, since I was in bed). I was drawn in from the first sentence. Esty has spent all her 19 years in the strictly orthodox haredi community in Jerusalem but decides to leave it and her parents and many siblings. The decision is difficult and Esty is unprepared for what she will find on the secular side of the fence. The character of Esty is well-drawn and the author conveys very convincingly the anguish of being an outsider. This is a fluently-written, heart-warming story.

*

started reading miriam drori’s book NEITHER HERE NOR THERE and can’t put it down…love the characters…the writing and the story…her first-hand knowledge of the settings make them very real…a good book!

*

A sweet, enjoyable romance that does a good job of portraying the angst of first love, especially when one is somewhat socially awkward and unsure of oneself. Many of us have been there and can identify with the hero and heroine. I have to admit that as an Orthodox Jew I had a problem with one of the dominant themes of the novel—Estee’s leaving her closed Orthodox community for secular “freedom”. I credit the author with trying to be even-handed, rather than taking sides, but must caution that some literary license was used in portraying Estee’s family’s community.

*

This is a beautifully-written book, with believable characters and a very real sense of place (both in Jerusalem and London). Esty’s dilemma (torn between her loyalty to her family and her strong desire to follow her own path in life) is perfectly portrayed in a very readable and accessible way. Highly recommended.

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On 5th November, I was lucky enough to win a copy of Berlin, a new volume in the City-Lit series of Oxygen Books via Me And My Big Mouth, otherwise known as Scott Pack.

I’d like to blame the post (mail) for my tardiness, but actually the book arrived quite quickly and it’s taken me until now to finish it. My excuse? Well, this is no novel. At no point did I feel compelled to continue reading to find out what happens next. It’s also not a book of short stories, in which the satisfaction of the conclusion of one story provides the impetus to start the next. And yet, I found plenty to interest me.

The book is a series of extracts that describe or take place in Berlin, a city with a varied and fascinating history. The extracts, chosen by editors Heather Reyes and Katy Derbyshire, are all excellently written and provide vivid insights into this city that I’ve never seen, but have certainly heard about.

My first memory was when, as a young child, I received a postcard from my brother. It showed a photo of the border and a sign that began with “WARNING” in large letters. At the time, I didn’t know about Jerusalem, where I now live and its similar border stopping Jews from visiting the Western Wall just as East Germans – East Berliners in particular – were forbidden to visit their family and friends in the West.

For me, the most interesting parts of the book tell of the times before, during and after the Second World War, as well as life in the German Democratic Republic. I read these sections with fascination and also learned some interesting facts. Heinrich Heine predicted the burning of books, of which his own books fell victim. In the GDR, there was one Stasi agent or informer for every sixty-three people.

There are typos, but not many, and none that I couldn’t fathom.

In short, this is one of (in the words of The Bookseller), “An inviting new series of travel guides which collects some of the best writing on European cities to give a real flavour of the place,” and it’s definitely worth a read.