Category Archives: books

Bad Books of the Week for 3/26/2016

This week’s batch of bad books is truly a waste of internet.
51kWXv--HjL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Best Damn Sex Jokes Ever!: Jokes Free, Jokes for Adults, Jokes 2016, Funny Jokes (Jokes, Jokes for Adults, best jokes 2016, best jokes, jokes 2016) Kindle Edition
by Johnathon Jacobs (Author)

I’ve never encountered a book of any sort that’s quite in this format. It looks huge in the reader but the real contents are pretty small.

The jokes are translated into languages ranging from Afrikaans to Zulu. However there are only 30 different jokes all of which I could find on the internet. Further, the translation is pretty poorly done. For example, if you look at Latin the language is very clearly not Latin. So I assume that a machine translation service was used.

On the whole, the jokes aren’t bad, it’s just that there’s precious little content for any one reader when compared to the size of the file and the price asked. Fairly strong avoid.

51zfHSRITVL._SX496_BO1,204,203,200_I Like to Read Books (Adventures in Everyday Life Book 1) Kindle Edition
by Jason Anderson (Author)

The figure you see on the front cover appears on every page. In fact, that exact same image appears on all 15 pages, unchanged, unmoved but with different backgrounds except that he changes his shirt color from red to green and back again. In the last frame he adopts a slightly different pose as he plays a guitar.

Backgrounds are all clearly inspired by The Simpsons but the only recognizable character which appears is Moe.

I’d be exceptionally disappointed if I had paid money for this little bit of literature.

51KevlBb8IL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Life These Days: With Family And Friends Kindle Edition
by Ronald McClure (Author)

* First off, the concept seems…. well, only interesting to a VERY select group of people. Maybe the author and a few people around him, but let’s give it a fair shot.

* Page 1: A photo of fixing a door. And all the comments from family/friends about said photo. It’s not transcribed mind you, it’s just screen captures of the Facebook posts glued into each page.

* Page 2: “We woke up WHITE! Just thought you’d like to know!” – yeah well, everyone in this book is pretty white, let me tell you.

* Page 3: Photo of an unidentified interior of a building. Can’t tell if it’s a bar or a house. Photos are all black and white and VERY small so even if this was interesting, it wouldn’t be.

* Page 4/5: Merry Christmas greetings, the author and wife in Christmas hats. Lots of one-liner Christmas greetings exchanged.

* A few pages on we get an album of apparent vacation photos. No indication of where they are though. Grand Canyon maybe? Seems like something better posted on Flickr or some sort of… oh, I dunno, photo service?

* Couple pages further… picture of a relative holding a cup of soda in some unidentified diner.

* A few more pages further we are treated to a sampling of a Facebook messenger chat with someone else who is unidentified and his importance is entirely unknown.

OK, enough of that. While I appreciate what a pain in the butt it must have been to put this together, I fail to see the need for this there is in the world. The only people who could be remotely interested in this are already Facebook friends with the author. So while by all means I applaud the desire to capture and document the past, I see absolutely no reason to try to sell copies of it online.

51K5ustjXML._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Memes: Badass Memes Humor Unlimited (Funny Memes) Kindle Edition
by Memes (Author)

Pages and pages of memes that we’ve all seen before.

One picture per page, nothing terribly entertaining though a couple are slightly more entertaining than staring directly into the sun.

41z-pehbUZL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Billionaire Romance: Marrying a Billionaire: (New Adult Romance) Kindle Edition
by jvr publishing (Author)

Wow. Writing is SO poor. I don’t even have to turn from the first page to find a dozen textual issues. Verbatim quotes below:

“Ellie was so desperate to get married a rich man…”

“Joe is her closest friend who secretly in love with her…”

“Is marrying a billionaire man is the only chance for a woman who is desperate…”

“Angry clouds roared in the form of lightening…”

“After waiting for half an hour and no hard to find a ride…”

It doesn’t really matter what the subject matter is; if the writing is THIS poor then all bets are off as far as I’m concerned.

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Reviews: Smartbrain (Penchant Series Book 1) by G. F. Smith

51a-zv-JbCL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_As is often the case, I received this book for the purposes of review. Despite that immense kindness, I give my candid thoughts below.

The summary on this one is tough because it evolves quite a bit as it goes on. It starts out mildly creepy techno thriller and ends somewhere completely different with all manner of action bits. I won’t give you much more detail than that to avoid spoilers.

So to the positive, our author is a reasonably good writer. His prose is measured, well constructed and easily consumed. His characters are real and vividly described and you do begin to feel for them. Mr. Smith’s creativity is also obvious as he puts his characters through a dizzying gauntlet of situations and one is left with a sort of whiplash once all is revealed.

The negatives, however, left me gasping in annoyance at the end. This book is exceptionally long and not because of the complexity of what’s going on. His description of events and situations is almost Dickensian in scope but with none of the quaintness of the old classics. One eventually has to skim in self-defense and at the end of a couple pages finds that nothing much has really been missed. Further, the book changes gears dramatically at 37% through (based on my Kindle’s reckoning) and it takes a long time to figure out what’s real and what’s not. This is, I suspect, part of the author’s intent, to keep us a bit confused as readers, but it’s a major distraction in a book that has a lot of difficulty holding the attention of its reader.

Further, some of the book’s most obvious points are in need of a close examination. The cover alone made me fear for the quality of the book and it took considerable reading time to assuage those fears. Unfortunately, the author’s choice of proper nouns is overly simplistic and almost young adult so they add a major distraction. The name of the device, for example: Smartbrain seems like something from a 60s B-movie. Add to that names like Vectren, Athena and ‘Brain Computer Interface’ and the tone of the whole book seems to be in a bit of conflict about whether it’s trying to be mid-20th century or more modern.

In summary, I think the author has a solid foundation for this story but it just tries to go too many places at once and takes far too long to get there. I packaged away my incredulity during the first third of book only to have it all spill out repeatedly in the last two-thirds and have to be packed away again. As much story as actually resides between these pages it could be half the length and cause me much less impulse to sigh, “What? You mean there’s MORE!?!??!” and consider hurling my Kindle across the room and taking a belt of whiskey. To quote Emperor Joseph II, there are simply too many notes… or something along those lines.

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Carrion Jonathan R. Rose

As is often the case, I received this book free for the purpose of review. Despite that kindness I give my absolutely candid thoughts below.

The nutshell summary on this book is that it follows a single zomboid individual as he travels through the remains of a great metropolitan city appeasing his insatiable appetite for human flesh.

To the positive, the book is one of the most profoundly grim pieces of writing I’ve come across in a few years. The author has painted us a desolation that is unforgiving and an antagonist who does anything and everything to slake his thirst for blood. Rose’s descriptions are vivid, evocative and detailed. Also, unusual for a book of this sort the text is fairly clean with only a handful of editing errors.

To the negative, even with all the grim detail, the story fails to create real emotion because it is, often almost cartoonish. No matter how vividly described, a situation that is not sufficiently realistic will tend to sap away the tension needed to build a real crescendo. In this case, so many plot issues such as the “monster’s” perpetually broken ankle that doesn’t really seem to do much to slow him down and the complete ineptness of his adversaries keep breaking up the pace of the story. Add to that the distraction of the author’s odd choice of metaphors at times and what could be ticklishly horrifying turns into something much less.

Further, I’m not entirely sure I found the author’s point in this book beyond merely playing with gratuitous violence. The anti-hero plods through the story devouring the populace but I didn’t really see any overarching point to the thing aside from a very generic good versus evil theme.

In summary, the author’s work has tremendous potential and for a first novel this one is exceptional but still fails to come into full flower as a novel. It has many great elements for those who adore an unabashed blood and guts fest but those with more complex appetites will find themselves still rather hungry.

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The Paved Road by Michael Cavanaugh

As is often the case I received this book free in exchange for a review. Despite that kindness I’m absolutely candid about it below as I believe readers (and authors) only really benefit from honesty, not baseless praise.

The nutshell on this one is pretty well summed up in the book’s description. It follows a young man as he grows into adulthood carrying a torch for one particular girl and … well, I won’t spoil anything just know that there’s a boy and a torch. You get the idea.

To the positive, the writing is straightforward, forthright and easily gobbled down. The narrative is linear and can consumed in one sitting as long as you don’t drink anything that induces you go to to the bathroom halfway through. Our narrator is honest about his feelings and evolves nicely throughout the story as he realizes the value of the relationships he enjoys with his friends. The brief military interlude is well-placed and adds nicely to the overall flow of the story even if it doesn’t ring out in a particularly lifelike way.

To the negative, the text is rife with problems. The spelling is solid but at times the wrong word entirely is used and it does have a bit of a jarring effect. In fact, at the time of this writing, the description of the book on Amazon even has an issue in the verbiage. This is a consistent problem but only a minor distraction except in a few specific areas.

Also, while the story drips with sincerity, it comes across as a bit flat. At its heart, this book seems to be a story about the inner life of a relationship much more than it is anything that’s going on outside of it. It is entirely possible to make a successful novel without any real notable outward events but the author has to provide intricate internal mental details as a substitute to make the whole thing really satisfying. Instead, the author seems to be in a hurry and skims over the parts that could make this a deep study in the way two people think and interact over a lifetime. I’d suggest that the author might look at his own feelings during this time in more detail and also get his friend to add her side of the story. I could easily imagine this as a novel in which we see his and hers viewpoints alternating throughout the book and giving us some real insight into how both characters are thinking.

In summary, I think this is a good rough draft of exactly half a book. There’s a good story to be told here and I think the author could do well to develop it further into something that readers can really sink their teeth into.


Rob Slaven
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Review of Hearing Thoughts by Anthony Diffley

As is often the case I received this book free for the purposes of review but I’m absolutely candid about it below because potential buyers deserve to know what it is they’re about to pay money for.

The nutshell on this novel is pretty well summed up by the back cover. Normally I would consider it a spoiler to reveal so much about the plot but since it IS on the back… Essentially, a high-power attorney is kidnapped by aliens and now can hear other people’s thoughts. Thus the title. Not exactly massively original really.

In most cases I try to frame a book by its positives and its negatives. In this case though I can’t really find anything even remotely positive to say about it. The story is trite and has been already been explored by dozens of other authors. The writing is deplorable and the dialog reminds me of a conversation you might hear in a Dick and Jane novel. I guffawed aloud when grown men started talking about their “tummies” and many of the scenes defy any knowledge of how the adult world works. It reminds me strongly of the videos you see in which a small child describes what they think their parents do all day at work.

In summary, while I always hate to take it to new authors with such vigor I can’t be party to anyone actually considering paying money for this. I’d encourage Mr. Diffley to keep at it and try a different idea with a new copy editor because the one you have has failed you terribly.

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the life-changing magic of tidying up – Chapter 3 Notes

What follows in this blog entry is my summary and thoughts on the self-help book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo.   My notes should in no way be construed as a replacement for the book and if you want to know more you are encouraged to purchase the original work and have a look for yourself.

Chapter 3 – Tidying by category works like magic

Clothes

As previously stated, you have to get all your clothes out and pile them on the floor to gain a proper perspective.  Then sort them into subcategories: Tops, bottoms, jackets and suits, socks, underwear, bags, accessories, clothes for specific events and shoes.

For each item, do the “does it bring me joy?” test.  If it doesn’t, pitch it.  Anything you forget about after trying to get everything in one room automatically gets thrown out too.  Also, no clothing should be downgraded  to lounge-wear.  If it’s not good enough to wear out then pitch it unless it’s specifically designed to be lounge-wear.

When storing clothes, fold them. Don’t hang them unless they would be “happier” on hangers: suits, jackets.  Hang like things together with heavy items on the left (heavy = longer clothes, heavy material, dark colors) and light items on the right.

The author describes herself as a folding fanatic and the description made me think of Sheldon Cooper with his very specific folding tools and technique.  Folded items should be stored on edge so they can all be seen at once when opening the drawer.  The act of folding should be one of care and love.  Don’t ball or tie socks.  They should be folded neatly and respectfully and stood on edge.

The general theme for clothes seems to be to minimize as much as possible, fold with extreme neatness and make sure you give your clothes the proper love and attention that they deserve.  Those socks do a pretty hard job when jammed between your foot and your shoe, after all, so they deserve a break.

Books

All books should be stacked on the floor and broken into subcategories:  General, practical, visual and magazines.  Again, touch each one and decide if it’s going to bring you joy.

General traps to avoid:

  • Nobody every rereads anything.  So if you expect to reread it, forget it.
  • If it’s never been read before, pitch it.  You’ll never feel more passionately about a book then immediately after you buy it so if you’ve not read it yet, pitch it.
  • Papers not of future verifiable usefulness, pitch.  This includes class notes, pay statements, appliance manuals and just about everything that you don’t have to take immediate action on.
  • Empty boxes for items you use should be pitched.  No practical purpose ever.

For Misc items from CDs to makeup and kitchen gadgets, apply the same rules.  One category at a time and one item at a time apply the ‘joy’ test.

Don’t get attached to things just because they’re gifts.  If it’s not currently giving you joy, pitch it no matter where you got it.

Mementos

These have the toughest emotional attachment, so they’re hardest to part with but the same test should apply.  Don’t send your old college stuff back to mom and dad and make the mess their problem.  Unless it gives you current joy then pitch it.  It’s not going to somehow become more important in five more years.

Photos get the individual joy test.  Every single picture, one by one, should be assessed and anything failing the test goes in the bin.

In general, the theme seems to be to pound home the same basic strategy.  The author indicates that you’ll know you’re done intuitively when things just “click” for you and you find you have the correct amount of stuff to fit your own desires and lifestyle.


Series Guide

View back-to-back on the YouTube Playlist
Chapter 1 – Why can’t I keep my house in order?
Chapter 2 – Finish discarding first
Chapter 3 – Tidying by category works like magic
Chapter 4 – Storing your things to make your life shine
Chapter 5 – The magic of tidying dramatically transforms your life

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Book Reviews: Lady of the Dead: Night World Series by Gretchen S. B.

As is often the case I received this book in exchange for an honest review but despite that kindness my candid thoughts appear below.

The nutshell-no-spoilers-summary on this one is tough because it spans several genres that don’t typically tend to cohabitate between the covers of a single book. It’s part crime drama, part action adventure and part John Edwards psychic fiction. One book features the undead, gritty cops, fierce warriors, werecreatures, immortals and spirits all in the backdrop of modern day Northwest America.

On the positive side, the author certainly isn’t afraid to mix things up. She’s brought together a lot of otherwise dissonant strings and isn’t afraid to weave them together in new and creative ways. There’s a lot of creativity evident in this book and the writer’s textual style isn’t half bad and is fairly devoid of typos and textual errors.

Sadly, the negative side gives the positive a run for its money. The overarching story is weak and the author introduces so many various characters and new types of creatures in her book that it seems forced. One barely wraps one’s mind around one group of people before another one is introduced and then either included for the duration or suddenly dropped. It’s as if the author tried to force several longer books into one shorter one. The whole story lacks patience and pacing is barely readable. The only way I managed to force myself to the end was hope that all the creative energy would somehow pay off. It didn’t.

The author skims over so much at such a high level that I thought for a long time I was reading a YA novel. That was until I got to the EXTREMELY graphic sex scenes at which point any misunderstanding about that point was entirely lost. The author’s only real attempt during the story to add any level of detail to any interaction is in those scenes of copulation.

In summary, I can’t recommend this book to anyone but there is hope for the author. Given a bit more time and patience Gretchen could go far but this one particular example of her work is pretty poor.

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