Tag Archives: 2-star reviews

Move or Die: Paranormal Ghost Stories

51ikOIWfyYL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_As usual I didn’t pay anything for this book but I’ll still be abundantly blunt below.

The nutshell on this one is that it’s a collection of four short stories (about 25 minutes total reading time) that focus on the rather grizzly paranormal. You’ve got some zombies, a poltergeist and an impish carnivorous spirit.

To the positive, the author covers a wide range of villains and portrays them very well. The book is solidly written and the stories move along at an extremely rapid pace.

To the negative, the whole thing lacks depth. Considering the reading time the price on Amazon is outrageously high. These are less stories than the are very small vignettes into particularly gruesome situations. It’s as if they were dashed off in a day and sent to publication. They’re so short that there’s no time for any real tension to build for the reader.

In summary, there’s potential for this author but this particular collection seems a bit small to be sold on its own.

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Book Reviews: Married to the Military by Terry L. Rollins

As is so often the case I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. Despite that immense kindness I give my candid thoughts below.

The book is a collection of easily digested vignettes featuring, unsurprisingly, the wives of those who serve our country every single day. Topics range from the joys of birth to the tragedy of death. Pretty much exactly what you would expect given the title.

On the positive side, the book certainly does tug at your heartstrings. Though fictional, I suspect that much of what is written here is pulled directly or at least adapted from real life. The sacrifices that these women make every single day is not to be dismissed or forgotten and Rollins portrays their struggles in an emotional style that makes it simultaneously easy to read and hard to forget.

To the negative, it is worth mentioning that the book is written from a heavily female point of view which makes it a sure winner with wives and mothers everywhere. That said, the male gender may have a bit of trouble empathizing because of this. That’s not to say that it’s impossible but potential gift givers should be aware of this possibility. Also, I found myself disappointed that the author had to ‘create’ these women rather than drawing more biographically on actual wives in the military. While I’m certain that the women in the stories represent their demographic wonderfully, something is always lost from the fictionalization of a story that could be just as well done and probably contain much of the same content when you can say that this person actually does exist. Readers love to imagine that the characters they’re reading about are real people and this book just barely misses that mark.

In summary, this book is an obvious choice for any woman and particularly one who has some connection with the U.S. military or, honestly, any military in the world. Men will have less of a connection to it but it might help them see more clearly just what the struggles are that their wives go through every day.

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Book Reviews: Grizwall’s out,and he is telling his side of the story (**)

As usual I received this book free in exchange for a review. Also as usual I will be absolutely candid about it in spite of the kind consideration of a free book delivered unto mine doorstep.

Amazon describes the book this way, blurby goodness follows:

Grizwall is a collection of short interconnected stories that share the adventures of a dog who experienced many things in his amazing life. From bears and porcupines to helicopters, planes, and torrential rains.These are a few of his adventures I have tried to share in an entertaining way, the stories are true, except….Grizwall didn’t really talk.

The wilds of beautiful British Columbia the setting we follow Grizwall from Vancouver Island to the far North on one adventure after another. So sit back and enjoy the ride Grizwall always did.

With commentary from Grizwall himself the stories are meant to entertain and hopefully amuse.Take care,enjoy.25% of every purchase donated to the S.P.C.A. on behalf of Grizwall. For ages 8 to 108>

The nutshell view of this book is that it’s a parallel dual memoir of a man and his dog. The man’s thoughts appear interleaved with those presumed thoughts of his dog as they muck about in the wilds of Canada having all manner of rather random adventures.

On the positive side, this is a book with quite a bit of heart. It’s advertised as a tribute to a boon companion now passed on. Like all dog owners Grizwall has felt the joys of having a dog and the sorrows of suddenly not having a dog and he pours his heart and his memories into this book with great candor and openness.

Unfortunately, all the candor and openness in the world cannot compensate for the poor execution of this book. It is rife with typos and misused words and completely lacks professionalism. Like many of its ilk it is in need of a good sound editing both for grammar and for content. The rambling and sometimes poor text aside, the pictures included in the book are also in need of attention. Each time before the dog in the story speaks his picture appears in the margins. Very sadly the way the picture is cropped makes it look as if the dog is in some sort of pain or twisted into a very uncomfortable position. The effect is rather unsettling.

In summary, the author has a good idea but has simply failed to execute on it. This is, at best, the rough draft for a book that needs several more weeks of attention before it is sufficiently polished and deserving of sale to the general populous.

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Book Reviews: Chains by Bobbie Sue Nicholson (**)

CaptureFor once I picked up this book on purpose rather than receiving it free in exchange for a review. It seemed a reasonable choice from among all those books available because, like the author, I spent some time at “Perdue” (as the author spells it in her biography) though I prefer the more traditional spelling of Purdue.

The best way I can sum up the writing style of this author is to quote directly from her editorial blurb for the book on Amazon because this short paragraph reflects closely the entirety of the contents of the book:

After graduating from Denver University, with a degree in Art Education, I attended Indiana State University for my master’s degree. Having earned two degrees in 5 years, I begin teaching and continued to take classes. I now have a lifetime teaching license in Indiana. I have taught Art at all grade levels from Kindergarten to College. I’m married and still living in Indiana. We have two sons who lived nearby. I wrote my first story when I was in grade school. My mother was the only one kindness to read it. My children were in grade school before I started to write seriously. I took a writing class from Perdue University. My stories are a joy to write. The characters can form to my winds and wishes.

Like the bio quoted above, the text of this book is riddled with grammatical and spelling errors and at times borders on incomprehensible. As I’ve said of so many books in the past, this one needs the devoted attention of a good editor. The frequent transposition of the number 1 and the letter l make me think this book was transcribed electronically from typewritten pages and never even spell-checked or read over to make sure it was correct. Lastly in the vein of formatting, the narrative switches points of view violently without so much as a blank line to indicate it. This leaves the reader wondering what’s going on and forced to go back and re-read whole pages before coming to the conclusion that one section has ended and another begun.

As for the plot, it consists of a story told by an aging grandmother to her curious grandson. Unfortunately, the story is rather flat and predictable and has that rather typical quality of only being truly interesting in the event that you know the person telling the story. It is a frequent and persistent truism that most stories told around the dinner table among family are not usually interesting enough for the general populous to consume and enjoy. This story falls into the rather cliche category of “had to be there”.

In summary, the author has obviously paid a great deal of attention to certain aspects of this book but has failed utterly to compose a coherent and readable work. Perhaps with a bit of care and attention to the textual components the story would be brought to light more effectively but in its current form it contains very little to recommend it unless you happen to have some personal connection to the events portrayed by this novel.

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Books: 30 Quotes for Powerful Living (**) May be worth a quick look for free but I wouldn’t spend money on it

As usual I received this book free in exchange for a review. Also as usual I give my absolutely candid thoughts below.

In a nutshell this book is exactly what you’d expect in such a thing. It’s 70 pages long in total and has 22 pages of introduction, about the author, table of contents, mysterious blank pages and an explanation of what he’s trying to accomplish. Following that you have 34 pages of quotes and the author’s explanation of those quotes and what they might mean to you. The rest consists of a pair of appendices that list various truisms about how to be happier.

To the positive, I admire what the author is trying to do here. He’s presented in this book in a spirit of helpfulness and has really put his heart into the endeavor. Pradeep really is trying to be a positive influence on the lives of his readers and it shows in his spirited approach to the topic.

On the negative, the text is badly in need of revision. The spelling is acceptable but grammar and word usage are clumsy and incorrect much of the time. The book is also heavily padded with blank pages and unnecessary background information. This one could be tightened up to about half its current size. From a content perspective, there’s not really a lot of new information here and what is new comes from such notables as Taylor Swift and Whitney Houston. I’m not personally convinced they belong in a book of quotes along with Henry Ford and the Buddha.

In summary, it may be worth a quick look for free but I wouldn’t spend money on it.

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Children’s Book: Princess Annalise and The Fat Dragon – (2/5)

As usual I didn’t pay for this book but instead received it free in exchange for a review, this time from LibraryThing. Also as usual I leave my scrupulously honest opinions below.

So, I’ll take a chance and just go all-out spoilers on this one because if you’re reading this review you’re probably not in a whole lot of suspense anyway. Long story short, princess finds a dragon who’s fat and can’t breath fire so he’s an outcast. So the nice princess puts the dragon on a work-out routine to shed all that unwanted “blubber” and get into shape so that the other dragons will like him.

I really appreciate what the author is trying to get at here, but the moral of this story really comes across to me as: “Change who you are so that people will like you.” That is really not the message that you want to send to children who might be a bit on the heavy side (or any other side for that matter). Beyond that, the text is rather disjointed and the art work is OK but suffers from poor layout on the Kindle.

In summary, I’m not letting any child of mine read this. Yikes.

— UPDATE —

I received a request from the author via email:

Thanks for reviewing my book: Princess Annalise and The Fat Dragon. I am sorry if you are thinking the moral of the story is: “Change who you are so that people will like you.” When I wrote the book I never thought comparing the fat dragon with the fat kid. I just thought the fat dragon getting skinny is funny but I never ever thought about comparing to a fat kid. So I really appreciate if you would like to change your review about my book.

My response:

Hi Olivia,

Firstly, I understand your concern and I don’t think that it was your intent to compare the fat dragon with fat children. The problem is that it’s not really about your intent in this case so much as the message that other people will receive when reading your book. Kids at a young age don’t make that distinction between talking animals or dragons and themselves.

If you show this book to a child with a weight problem, they’re probably going to feel bad and think that in order to be liked by anyone else, they too have to lose the “blubber” as you put it in the book. Similarly, if you show it to a child without a weight problem, they’re going to see every overweight person as someone who needs to lose weight. I’m not debating obesity but I would not want such a message put in front of my child because it’s OK for people to be who they are and they don’t need to change themselves so they will be liked.

Other reviewers may disagree and I welcome the discussion but I’m not going to change my review because of what you intended to write. I can’t review your book based on your intent. I have to review it based on the words on the page and how I think they may strike a reader. In this case, I don’t think this is a positive message so I cannot give it a positive review as a book to be read to young children.

I’m sure that must be a disappointment but I have to be honest with the people who shop on Amazon and give my honest opinion.


So what say you? Go visit the review on Amazon and make your voice heard!

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Negotiate Your (freelancing) Income to Six Figures – Possibly good information wrapped in terrible writing (2/5)

As usual I didn’t pay for this book but instead received it for free in exchange for a review. True to that promise, I give my scrupulously honest opinions below.

So the description of the book doesn’t give an outline or table of contents, so I’ll do that for it.

Section I – Introduction – 10% – Why do you need this book, lots of personal tidbits from the author, promotion of other products by the same author.

Section II – General Knowledge – 20% – Definition of terms, basics of negotiation

Section III – Negotiating Skills – 15% – Description of various strategies for negotiations and how to use them correctly and pitfalls to avoid.

Section IV – Applications of negotiating skills in niche writing – 25% – Basically, what to negotiate for with the skills from section III. Compensation, time off, kill fees, etc

Section V – Potential mistakes, dishonest negotiators and other associated problems – 10% – What do do if things go wrong and how to tell when they’re going wrong.

Section VI – Case studies – 15% – A set of really vanilla examples of negotiations.

Section VII – Selective resources – 5% – Basically just random tips.

Hopefully that all adds up to 100%. Looking at that, it would seem this is a very well-rounded book that covers a lot of the bases and on the surface you would be right. It has a lot of very good information in it. The part that made it lose so much esteem in my eyes was the writing itself.

Firstly, on this point, the writing is so soft and airy and almost bubbly that it borders on unprofessional. Further, it seems at times that the writer is a non-native speaker of the English language and things come out a bit garbled. I’ll present a few examples to illustrate my point and you, my own humble readers, can judge for yourself. The items below are direct quotes from the book and are checked scrupulously for accuracy. Please note too that these are just the problems that leap out at me in a quick skimming of the text. They are not exhaustive but merely representative.

[Addressing the reader directly]

“You are one of the few creative people who will succeed in business and in personal life and turn everything you touch into gold.”

[Addressing the reader directly]

“You are a special person with an inspirational personality…”

[Typos, spelling and grammar problems abound]

“… the healthy compromise involves one party giving up his/her interests in one area in order to gain interests in another area, and visa versa”

“… will even prefer to lose rather than preventing his counterpart to solve his problems…”

“… if possible they like to ‘put their head in a sand’…”

“If your counterpart able to trust you…”

“Do not sign anything that you yourself are not clear about it’s meanning”

I won’t go on because I don’t want it to seem that I’m picking on the author but clearly this book needs some additional work. It seems like a great idea and may convey some critical information but it falls well short of professional at this time. If you buy a copy, do so with the knowledge that you’re going to have to wade through some pretty spotty writing.


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