Reviewing the situation

One of my sidelines on the Western Daily Press 20 years ago was to write the book reviews. My payment was £15 for 300 words, when the features editor remembered to pay me, plus second choice of the review copies (one of the assistant editors got first choice, and took about half the books, though he didn't write any reviews).

Since then, I've been cynical about book reviews in newspapers. My jaundiced view turned a deeper shade of yellow after Born Brilliant was published, when one reviewer rang me at home to complain that my publishers had just pointed out the embargo date to her – consequently, it wasn't worth writing a review and she had "wasted half a day reading your bloody book!"

Reviews by real readers are quite a different thing. A thoughtful and appreciative notice on Amazon means a great deal. I have had two this week, and it would be false modesty to pretend I hadn't seen them – I was touched and very gratified by them both.

"I work with autistic children," one reader wrote about my memoir, A Real Boy. "This is the first "real" portrayal of autism i have read. It had me laughing out loud. This family should be very proud of themselves for the fantastic approach they have to autism. The love for their wonderful son shines through. I have recommended this book to every one ive spoken to since i finished it."

And another reviewer, writing about A Girl Called Barney, which is fiction, said: "An excellently written book about life with an autistic child. This author has obviously got deep insight, experience and understanding of autistic children. A very easy to read and humorous book with many poignant moments."

My thanks to both these readers for taking the time and the trouble to make such kind comments. It really is appreciated.