When I worked at the bookstore, one of the most prominent authors on the mystery/suspense/thriller shelf was Ted Dekker. His titles were intriguing. His cover art even more so. So I used part of my Christmas Amazon money (yes, I ask for Amazon gift cards every year) to buy the e-book omnibus edition of his Circle Series. From what I read it was a blend of two stories: a modern thriller story and a futuristic-yet-unwesternized-fantasy story. Cool concept, right? I certainly thought so. I should also mention that Ted Dekker is a Christian Fiction author. I usually don’t read Christian Fiction unless the reviews specifically say that the story is unbiased (aka not preachy). I did my due diligence on Mr Dekker and was satisfied that his books dealt with Good vs Evil. I said, I can live with that. Bring it on, Teddster. One last thing to point out and I’ll get to the rant, I promise. The Circle Series is made up of four books, Red, Black, White, Green. Green is the odd man out because you can read it at the beginning of the series or at the end. Hence, the “circle” concept. Man, this is gonna be good, I thought.
Begin Rant (SPOILER ALERT):
I started with Black. I liked the Thriller side of the story better that the over-beautified Fantasy side, but I still enjoyed the way the main character’s modern life intertwined with the Fantasy side through his dreams, which were really a portal between the two worlds. Not too shabby. I gave it 4* on Goodreads.
Next up was Red. I enjoyed it, but the metaphors and allegorical references to the Old and New Testaments began to be really OBVIOUS. Like elephant in the desert obvious. Like strip mall on Mars obvious. My own personal religious beliefs aside, I felt it was kind of a cop-out. The Bible is full of great stories and all Dekker did was steal from it and change a few things around. But I still gave it 4* on Goodreads.
Then I read White. UGH! Thomas Hunter’s (the main character) wife dies. A year later he’s head-over-heels-in-love-over-the-moon for the daughter of his enemy’s leader. I felt like 80% of the book involved him trying to get to this woman and being all about her and blah, blah, blah. I didn’t sign up for a Romance novel, Ted. You’re killing me. I gave it 3* on Goodreads..
I chose to read Green last. At this point I just wanted the series to be over. (I have this quirk about reading an entire book no matter how unhappy it makes me…and since I was already so invested in the story, I had to finish the damn series.) Vampires. All I have to say is vampires. A character is revealed to be the biblical version of vampires, nephilim, to be specific. I have no problem with vampires. But why now? It was just so random and really didn’t explain anything or further the plot along. It was like good ole Teddy just learned about the nephilim in his travels and was like, “Hey, this series I’m writing is pretty biblical. Let’s add some biblical-ass vampires. Bam!” Oh and there was more of the whole I-can’t-live-without-my-second-wife/first-wife-who? nonsense. Badly wanted to give this 2*, but gave it 3. Might still change it. I’m debating.
In the end I wasted the whole month of February and first week of March reading this series. I even stayed up until damn near 2am one night to finish the damn thing. Because I just couldn’t do it anymore.
Are you confused by the title of this post? Are you confused by the caption next to Colin Powell? Would you be even more confused if you were reading a novel in which an Ivy-educated journalist, who happens to be Black, uses such phrases in his inner monologue? Because that’s what I’m going through right now. I won’t tell you the title or the author, but I will say that I’m enjoying the story so far. Except for the unrealistic and completely ludicrous “slang.” I put “slang” in quotations because, with the exception of several-years-ago-Snoop-Dogg, no one speaks like that. No one seriously uses the terms “Fo’rizzle” and “Fo’shizzy” in replace of “for real.” Especially when they’ve been Harvard educated and write for an illustrious NYC magazine for a living. I’m not saying that the character’s inner monologue should sound like Stephen Hawking or anything, but a simple “Is she for real?” would suffice.
Also, I find it irksome and more than a bit insulting (as a person of mixed race) that the author thought a Black character wouldn’t come across as Black unless they spouted off these incessant “Fo’shizzles” at every turn. By the way, my novel has a Black female character and the only thing that sets her apart as Black is her physical description.
Ya know what I mean? Fo’sheezy. (Ugh, I need to wash my keyboard after this…)
Anyway, speaking of being “hip,” there’s still time to enter to win this totally “happenin” Jordanna East tote bag. It’s roomy, it’s canvas, and it’s got my pretty face on it. If that doesn’t say chic, I don’t know what does. And if doesn’t say chic, draw your best happy face on the other side and wear it backwards. Click here before December 16th.
Do you remember me talking about Jeffrey Stone’s novel, Play Him Again? Good.
Here’s the blurb he provided me in his email (Number 5 in yesterday’s list of guidelines):
It’s the Roaring Twenties but silence remains golden for Hollywood. Sound is expensive. Only two studios have installed sound equipment. Matt Hudson, the preferred bootlegger of the film industry, wants to produce a talking picture but neither sound studio will lease him their facilities. After Hud’s oldest friend, con man Danny Kincaid, dupes a gangster who controls a small movie studio into buying a bogus sound device, the gangster gets wise and Danny ends up dead. To settle the score, Hud runs another con to play the gangster again. A con that will either avenge Danny and land Hud a studio, or get him killed.
A fascinating bit of historical fiction! Taking place during the days of Prohibition, Play Him Again follows “bootlegger to the stars” Matthew Hudson, Hud to his friends, in his efforts to seek vengeance for his friend’s murder as well as introduce “talkies” to a reluctant Hollywood. This novel is the perfect blend of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire laced with old Hollywood. There were no historical gaffes, which pleased me greatly. Cars, guns, situations, etc all rang true for the time period. The background research needed for the setting must have been challenging, but worth the effort. The facts about Hollywood in its infancy and the bootlegging industry were truly captivating. What struck me most was the dialogue. Some of the best I’ve ever read in that it never came off forced, contrived, or “cardboard.” My only complaint would be in regards to the nautical lingo. I was a bit lost. But, overall, an excellent novel and I really look forward to the next in the series. (*I received a free copy of this e-book in exchange for my honest review.*) Rating: JJJJJ
I recently received a tiny spate of book review requests. I was so excited that fellow authors/artists would even give a fluffy chicken’s rump what I thought about their work. But I quickly realized that there is a proper way to ask for a review, and a not so proper way to ask for a review. Of the three requests I received, one was ideal, which I’ll be focusing on here, contrasting it with the not so ideal requests. So, here are seven guidelines that I think should be adhered to when requesting a review.
Email me. As opposed to sending me a direct message via my Facebook author page. Lame.
Address me with my real first name (Ava). As opposed to my pen name (Jordanna).
Familiarize yourself with me, my reviews, my blog, and my WIP. Treat me like a person, dammit. As opposed to something like, “I don’t know if you review music, but…” Yes, that happened.
Connect what you’ve learned about me to why you think I’ll like your book. As opposed to claiming your book is listed as a “You may also like…” under the books I’ve already reviewed on Amazon. Especially when that isn’t true.
Tell me what your novel is about. As opposed to copy and pasting a link that directs me to the blurb on Amazon so I can read it there.
Offer a free copy of your book. As opposed to, well, not offering a free copy of your book.
Thank me in advance for my time. Because it’s the decent, pleasant thing to do. Geez.
Now, I was going to include the review I wrote for Play Him Again, by Jeffrey Stone, right here in this post. Stone also penned that fabuloso review request and he’s just a pretty swell fella. But since I enjoyed his book so much, I’m going to give it its own post. A super special Saturday post. Look for it tomorrow. Because tomorrow’s Saturday. Duh.
You know how people can watch violence against humans all day long but if someone kicks a puppy it’s a capital offense? I’m sort of guilty of this myself. I love action movies and Law & Order SVU, but if someone shoots a guard dog or a horse gets hit with a arrow meant for its rider, a teensy tiny part of my soul cringes. This happens in books, too. You know what else I see a lot of? People being more sensitive to violence against women, moreso than violence against men. Personally, I cringe for both sexes if the assault is particularly cruel and unusual.
Case in point? Russell Blake’s Fatal Exchange. It’s his first novel, and it’s about a female bike messenger who becomes entangled in an elaborate conterfeiting scheme meant to deplete the value of the US dollar while a select few make millions. If that wasn’t enough to deal with, there’s also a serial killer running around targeting female bike messengers in NYC. What a bummer for her, right? Anyway, I enjoyed the book. It was kind of like reading a Quentin Tarantino movie. Eventually I’ll add my thoughts to the Books I’ve Read In Bed page.
So, before I downloaded the book, I read some of the reviews. One review stuck out. It was a 2-star review that started off with this sentence:
“The amount of space and words dedicated to extreme violence against women was somewhat surprising to me.”
Now, I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone, but the serial killer does cut off the breasts and scalps of his victims, as well as cut out their eyes. That’s rough, fair enough. But it’s not described in detail. It’s mentioned when the victims’ bodies are found, that’s all. Here’s what I thought was amusing: there are no less than half a dozen MEN that get gruesomely tortured in this book. I’m talking ice picks through their eyes, certain reproductive organs removed inhumanely, faces melted off with boiling oil, etc. I mean, WAY more “space and words” were “dedicated” to these acts of violence against men. And this woman mentions it absolutely nowhere in her review.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I often gripe about negative reviews, from people who didn’t finish the book. There I’ll be, skimming through books on my Kindle Fire -because apparently having over 500 books on there already is not enough- and almost every title that sparks my interest has at least a few 1-star reviews. So I filter by those and read them, just out of curiousity. Also, people who write positive reviews may not know enough about writing to complain about typos, structure, characterization, etc, so reading the 1-star reviews is sometimes helpful. Sometimes. Other times I read something like this:
I usually finish what I start. It was just something ingrained in me by my parents. Having said this, I have to say this is the first Kindle book I didn’t finish. It started well then there was a subplot that the author felt the need to include and it just didn’t make sense with the main plot and who the hell was Sandy anyway? It was just a disgrace. Don’t waste your time.
Um, hey nimrod, do you know why the plot elements didn’t make sense and you didn’t know who Sandy was? BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T FINISH THE BOOK, JERK!
So, for those who don’t see the shame in writing a review for a book you haven’t finished reading, please refer to the following list:
Shoes. You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes, NOT wear them, then return them because they made your feet hurt.
Air Conditioners. You wouldn’t buy an air conditioner, NOT crank it to the maximum setting on a hot day, then return it because it didn’t properly cool your living space.
Diet Pills. You wouldn’t buy a bottle of diet pills, NOT take them for the requisite 30 days, then ask about their money-back-guarantee. This can also be applied to the 87% of infomercial products that claim you’ll see results in a specified period of time.
Restaurants. You wouldn’t order a steak, NOT finish it, then pull out your cell phone and use your Yelp app to complain that you’re still hungry.
Hospitals. You wouldn’t go to the Emergency Room, NOT wait for your diagnosis/treatment, then sue the hospital for malpractice.
Sports. Would you go to a ball game, NOT stay past the first quarter/period/inning, then say it was a terrible game?
Salon. Would you go to get your nails done, NOT wait for the final coat of polish to be applied, then complain about chipped nails?
TV. Would you complain there’s nothing to watch when you have NOT browsed through all the channels?
Frozen Pizzas. Would you put a frozen pizza in the oven, NOT bake it for 22 minutes, then get upset when it’s cold in the middle?
Movies. Would you walk out of a theater in the middle of the movie? You would? So would I, but I would NOT write a review about how horrible the movie was!!! And that’s my point. Can you think of any other examples?
I’m currently reading the last book in a series recommended to me by a friend who shares some of the same reading interests as me. I say “some” of the same reading interests because some of what he reads either would make me laugh when it was meant to make me cry or it would bore me to eleven pieces. Sorry Donald, to each their own dear. Anyway, I wasn’t going to disclose the author at first, but I’m not saying anything overtly negative (in fact, I’m enjoying the series very much), so here goes. I’m reading the Pine Deep Series (Ghost Road Blues, Dead Man’s Song, & Bad Moon Rising) by the quite well known Jonathan Maberry. I’ll post full reviews on my Books I’ve Read In Bedpage as soon as I finish reading the last book, but for right now I want to talk about something else that’s troubling me: TYPOS.
I read a lot of Indie books and sadly they contain more than their fair share of typos because a lot of new authors are A. Super eager to get their work out there and B. Super broke and can’t afford an editor. But Mr Maberry is not an Indie Author. His books have won awards and stuff. He has a publisher. A pretty big one (Pinnacle Books via Kensington Publishing). Yet, throughout the series I found misspelled and missing words. What gives, Maberry?
Get this: it’s not his fault. To my surprise, when I was facebooking with my friend who recommended the series (because facebooking is the new phone call/email/text message), he mentioned that he read the books in paperback and didn’t recall any typos. Why should I take his word for it, you ask? Umm, only because he’s currently penning a non-fiction book on how to write better, that’s why. I would imagine that a person setting out to help writers write better would remember phantom words and grievous misspellings. So am I to believe that during the process of digitizing a novel, typos just appear out of thin, digital air? Has anyone else heard of or encountered this? I’ll tell you one thing, if — I’m sorry, WHEN–I self-publish my novel, if I get one fricking review that cries foul over typos that aren’t in my manuscript or in the print version of the book, heads will roll ladies and gents. Heads. Will. Roll.
**I wish I could say heads will roll if you guys don’t follow me on Twitter & Facebook, but I don’t have that kind of reach. But feel free to follow me anyway.**
Hello there faithful followers and scared newcomers! (Don’t be scared, I don’t even curse on here. Unless you count “frick.”)For those of you that follow this blog, you may have noticed I didn’t post a Jerks & Irks installment this past Monday. (Newcomers can click here to catch up on all those good times) That would be because here in the good ole US of A, it was Memorial Day. There are NO Jerks on Memorial Day, just hard-working, brave individuals who leave their loved ones behind to fight for our country. The only irksome thing is some people’s inability to see Memorial Day as anything other than a reason for a long weekend to hang out at BBQ’s and beaches and buy a big, blue washing machine on sale at Sears.
Alas (more people should use “Alas” in everyday conversation, don’t you think? Alas, we have plenty of Oreos and no milk…), there will always be people like that on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, and on 9/11 Day when that inevitably becomes a holiday. But in an effort to not make this a complete Debbie Downer post, here is an Amazon book review I came across over the weekend that had me doubled over with the giggles. I don’t know if the reviewer is being sincere or facetious, but it’s great:
“In what is going to be the Odyssey of the 21st century, Scott Middlemist tells the epic of a man trying to recover parts of his soul. The book was an amazing experience and I literally could not put it down until I had finished reading every single word between the covers. After finishing the book, I realized that I had grown a lustrous, thick beard that was the envy of lumberjacks all across the Pacific Nothwest. My testosterone levels had tripled during my 18 hours of literary fascination and after letting out a throaty roar, vixens from all across the land flocked to me and fed me peeled grapes. “Since reading this book, I have become a lot more popular with the women of the world and I have never had to spend a Friday night on my own. I would also like to extend thanks for my new, thick beard (if you do grow a beard from reading this book I would recommend using Mane n Tail to ensure that it keeps its shine and hue). I can also bench press 250 lbs now which always comes in handy throughout my day. “Thank you for all you have done for me Mr. Scott Middlemist. Please write a sequel for everyone out there delving into the deep corners of your mind. You are my hero.”
In case you are inspired to grow a beard in preparation for the hoard of grape-feeding vixens, the book is called Jigsaw Soul by Scott Middlemist. I downloaded the book based on the summary (andthisreview, let’s be honest), and probably won’t get to read it for months. However, when I do get around to it, I can guarantee my review won’t be anywhere near as entertaining.
Disclaimer: If she doesn’t ring your doorbell within minutes of you reading “Jigsaw Soul,” don’t blame me, I didn’t write the review. K, thanks.
Writers need to read and readers need to write reviews for writers. It’s a lovely little symbiotic relationship. It also means everybody’s a critic. Even me! But I’m not that bad, I promise. So check out the newest addition to my blog, the review page entitled Books I’ve Read In Bed. I’ve added about the half of the books I’ve read so far this year, with the rest to be added later this week. Let me know what you think of my rating system and be sure to leave book recommendations in the comments section.
With that, I’ll leave you with this comic that made me chuckle because I often say I read something quickly, overnight, in 24 hours, etc.
Its rainy and damp outside. I’m still in bed, Kindle Fire in hand, and I’ve found a book cover/title that caught my eye. I click on it. It meets my criteria for length (I hate it when a book doesn’t tell you its a novella or a short story and I get bamboozled into paying $2.99 for 87 pages, which only technically translates into 2.2 hours of actual reading time). I peruse the reviews, they’re glowing for the most part. Except one. One freaking JERK out of 152 reviewers has decided that this particular book isn’t worth four shiny stars on Amazon. I click on this one review against my better judgement: its not like this one JERK is actually a literary genius and knows something about reading that the rest of us mere morons do not. But alas, after reading the acerbic little diatribe, this JERK just simply doesn’t like and/or usually doesn”t read the genre this book falls under. Ugh! I can’t explain how often this happens.
JERK REVIEWER A: “I’m a super manly man. I didn’t understand why “The Glitter Pony,” a YA paranormal romance, didn’t have more gunplay and car chases and international intrigue. What a waste. This book sucks.”
JERK REVIEWER B: ”Seeing a commercial for The Walking Dead gives me nightmares but I decided to read “Zombie Lore and Gore” anyway. Boy, was this book terrible! What was the author thinking with all that bloody and disgusting imagery? Ugh, no thank you!”
You know what all this reminds me of? My brief bartending stint at a New Orleans themed restaurant in Philly. People would order Sazeracs because they had heard of them somewhere in their lives and were trying to be cool. They ignored the fact that the drink includes whiskey and a licorice-flavored liquor, then they would snootily push the drink back over the bar towards me because they didn’t like it. They blamed ME! They would whisper to themselves that if they had ordered the drink in New Orleans it would taste better. Despite the fact that I was trained how to make it by a person who was FROM NEW ORLEANS for crying out Mardi Gras!!! Agghh!
But I digress…The point is, feel free to leave your comfort zone, but don’t blame the new zone for its entire existence just because it’s not to your liking. You big, stupid, IRKSOME JERK.
Disclaimer: To the best of my knowledge, the above examples are not excerpts of actual reviews and the sentiments expressed are not in reference to actual book titles. Please don’t sue me.I have nothing. Except a facebook and a twitter. Feel free to hit the “Like” and “Follow” buttons.