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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated
2018

Find Your Next Crime Novel with CrimeBookJunkie

Crimebookjunkie.co.uk is a riveting blog that will keep you entertained and engaged as you learn which crime books are worth your time. Noelle Holten, who runs the site, creates honest and captivating reviews about a large variety of crime novels.

CrimeBookJunkie reviews only crime novels that Noelle (or one of her guest reviewers) enjoyed reading and would recommend to her readers. She keeps her reviews positive and offers only constructive criticism when necessary. Although she will no longer give "star" ratings after February 2018, she clarifies that she reviews only books that she considers between three and five stars. Reviews posted on the site before February 5, 2018 still include her (or her guest reviewers') star ratings.

Noelle worked as a senior probation officer for more than 17 years, so she is very familiar with the criminal justice system and applies that knowledge when reviewing. She exhibits personal knowledge about believability in the criminal system and the various personality types that are frequently represented in the justice system and crime books. As a reader and a writer, I found her assessments of character development really informative and helpful. Noelle's writing style is casual and playful, and she addresses her readers as if we already know each other in real life. Her lighthearted humor comes through in her writing and is quite endearing. Here is a perfect example of her unique voice from her review of Liars by Frances Vick: It is deliciously devious, twisted and grabs you by the cahonies before kicking you to the curb! You can find an example of her expert use of constructive and kind criticism in her review of Silent Victim by Caroline Mitchell: As an author, Caroline really knows how to create characters that get under our skin, whether we love them or loathe them, they stay with us. I thought the ending was wrapped up a little too quickly for my liking but that works sometimes…maybe it's because I just wanted more!

In addition to her feisty written voice, Noelle is also dedicated to her readers and provides a response on virtually every comment that readers post on the blog. This is a time-consuming task, but it shows that she really is invested in her readers and cares about their opinions.

Noelle's dedication to the genre and to her blog is evident on every page within the site. As a result, crimebookjunkie.co.uk is a standout blog that has caught the attention of many people within the blogosphere and has won multiple awards.

CrimeBookJunkie features guest reviewers as well, which you can find mixed in with the rest of Noelle's reviews. Noelle's regular guest reviewer Claire Knight stopped reviewing as of January 2018, when she moved on to start her own review site. Noelle's generous and caring personality shines in her farewell to Claire, and you can tell that she was a wonderful mentor who truly wants the best for those working with her. Claire contributed numerous solid and valuable reviews over the course of two years; those reviews will continue to be available within the Guest Reviews section.

Since Claire's departure, BookAddictShaun is currently the most frequent guest reviewer and offers a more serious and introspective look into the books reviewed. I really appreciated and enjoyed his analysis of the risks involved with making our lives available (and stalkable) via social media in his review of The Photographer by Craig Roberston. Although BookAddictShaun offers more in-depth insights on the topics covered within the books he reviews, he maintains Noelle's refreshing policy of keeping reviews positive and providing any negative comments in a constructive manner. An example of Shaun's constructive criticism can be found in his review of The Photographer: I found the ending left me wanting more, but perhaps because no precedent has really been set it was kind of left a little bit open-ended but I would have liked a few more chapters concluding the story. That said the closing chapters in particular were some of the strongest and most emotional in the whole story.

Another important aspect of the reviews on the site is that they do not contain spoilers. Although Noelle and her guest reviewers discuss the books' strengths and weaknesses and delve into character development and plot twists, they take care not to accidentally step into spoiler territory that would ruin the book for blog readers.

The site features a separate heading for guest reviews, but there are no current guest reviews available on that section of the site. It appears she has just formed a partnership with a new guest reviewer known as "Scottydog", so keep an eye on this page to see exciting reviews from this featured reviewer.

The primary source for new information on the site can be found within Reviews, Interviews & Stuff. In addition to reviews and interviews, Noelle posts current news and information from the literary world, including book fairs and literary agent information on this page.

A sidebar titled "Review Categories" which is located about halfway down on the right-hand side of the site offers an alphabetized list of the site's topics for quick and easy navigation. I found many fascinating links within this sidebar. The second link entitled Author Interviews takes you to a page with at least twenty different interviews, which are interesting and informative. Noelle's energetic and familiar tone must be contagious because the authors she interviews respond with funny and unique answers. For example, one of my favorite responses was from Jonothan Cullinane, author of Red Herring.

Noelle asked, If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

His response: Ask. My. Wife.

Crime book writers interested in submitting their books for review can do so on the site, although Noelle warns that she is currently swamped with books to review and is currently not taking on new books; she may pass them along to guest reviewers. Under Review Policy, she explains her book preferences and provides instructions for submitting review requests (hint: do not use the comment feature to request a review). You can either email her directly with your information for the review or you can fill out the form on the right-hand side of the page about halfway down, just under the banners for the multiple awards the site has won. You will need to provide only your first and last name, your email address, and whatever comments you feel are necessary. She does provide a disclaimer that if you do not hear a response within two weeks, then you can assume that she will not be reviewing your book. As with all other comments on the site, she responds with kindness to comments requesting that she review books and she reminds them of the proper submission method.

The site also hosts occasional giveaways, which any reader interested in crime books should bookmark and check regularly! Most of the giveaways include books that are signed by the author, but last year she even hosted a CrimeBookJunkie giveaway that included an awesome miniature bookcase necklace, a CrimeBookJunkie notebook, and a magnetic bookmark. To enter the giveaways, readers merely have to comment on the giveaway post and include their name and where they live. Not all giveaways are available internationally; since Noelle is based in England, some giveaways are open only to UK readers. However, it is worth checking because she offers international giveaways whenever she can.

CrimeBookJunkie also offers excerpts from crime novels to give readers a glimpse inside some of the reviewed books. The excerpts are frequently featured as a stop along a book's blog tour, and crimebookjunkie.co.uk seems to be on the blog tour for many of the premier crime books, so you can hope to see either a thorough review or an excerpt (maybe even both!) for the best crime books on the market.

The site offers cover reveals for upcoming novels as well. Noelle usually includes a book review as part of the cover reveal, and she enjoys the suspense of making her readers wait until she has properly introduced the author, provided a synopsis of the book, and written a thorough book review before revealing the exciting graphics of the cover. Although they say you can't judge a book by its cover, the cover reveals featured on the site definitely make you want to pick up a copy and read the book behind the cover.

The site is also a terrific resource for finding out about literary events and crime book events in England. Noelle is located there, so most of the events she promotes take place in and around England.

The best way to stay engaged and to make sure you do not miss any news from the crime book world is to sign up for updates on the right-hand side of the site. Simply enter your name and email, and you will receive CrimeBookJunkie post notifications in your inbox whenever there is a new post on the site. Any crime writers or readers should head over to the site immediately to sign up for the newsletter and spend some time in Noelle Holten's delightful little corner of the Internet.

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