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review 2018-04-04 22:10
Envy
Envy - Anna Godbersen

Oh ffs. DNF at 230 pages.

 

I. Am. Done.

 

I loved the first 2 books in this series but this one makes my eyes want to bleed. Henry is like a mindless ping pong ball that only thinks with his little ping pong dick. Penelope is so evil it is hard to believe she is a real character. Carolina's selfishness knows no bounds. She loved Will enough to lose her job and plan to run away, but when she finds out he's dead, oh well. "I'm rich now. Fuck you." No, fuck you, Lina, you stuck up maid who seems to have forgotten you are living a lie. My God, I only read these for Elizabeth and Will. And Will died which crushed my soul. WHY DO THE GOOD ONES GET KILLED OFF?! So now this book series is just Penelope and Diana playing tennis with Henry while Elizabeth doesn't know she's pregnant with Will's baby and Lina is just a sneeze away from total, justified social ruin. Fml. I'm going to read something that doesn't make me want to stab myself in the ear with a pencil.

 

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review 2018-03-31 02:48
Over-priced junk- Do not want to read.
Deadly Deceit - Rose M. Brate

A friend who is a big fan of youth sports recently made an effort to help a young man achieve his expressed goal of a college scholarship. Letters were written, phone calls were made.  An independent coach was engaged to offer a private skills assessment.  Specialized training was arranged, as well as participation in limited-enrollment clinics.  This friend spent a small amount of his own cash, but solicited others to make donations. Most of the friend's contribution was time and the value of many years' connections in the youth sports arena.

 

After all this, the young athlete blew it off.  He skipped training sessions, and even dismissed a tutor hired to help him bring up his academic grades.  No scholarships were ever offered; the potential college athlete dropped out of high school two months before graduation.

 

The friend was devastated at first, then outraged.  He couldn't understand how this young man could fail to be appreciative that so many people were willing to help him get the scholarship he himself said he wanted.

 

"Now you know how I feel every time I've offered to help a writer improve their writing and then been stabbed in the back for it."

 

We do this sort of thing out of the goodness of our hearts, in a sense.  I enjoy writing and I enjoy reading good writing, so there's a sense that other writers would want the same thing.  Furthermore, there's a desire to raise the quality of writing in general, especially in these days of digital self-publishing.  My friend, who was an athlete in his own youth, wanted to bring this young man the same sense of accomplishment and achievement.

 

But the return on the emotional investment ends up being a total loss, and it's depressing and discouraging.  There's some consolation to be taken from the fact that it doesn't happen just in the writing game, but it's not much.

 

Deadly Deceit by Rose M. Brate is not a promising young athlete.  Nor is it a promising self-published novel. 

 

Here's the Amazon Kindle listing, the first thing the potential reader sees:

 

 

The $6.99 Kindle price is a bit high, but maybe the author has enough sales and recognition to justify it.  I'm not sure what the book's Kindle Unlimited pages are, because the spacing seems a bit expanded, generating more pages than the word count might otherwise warrant.  Supposedly Amazon has a way to balance this, but if Brate's 304-page "book" brings in the average Kindle Unlimited royalty, that payment should be around $3.00 per copy read.  Royalties on the $6.99 sales price would be approximately $4.50. 

 

None of it, of course, makes that "head-over-heals" typo any less glaring.

 

I downloaded the free sample.  I had no great expectations, with all apologies to Mr. Dickens.

 

There's no front matter, a flashing neon sign that this is an author-published project.  My expectations dropped a little lower.

 

The blurb on Amazon was about Jack and Abby Morrison; that's not how the book opens.

 

 

So, who is this story about?  The Morrisons or this detective?

 

At this point, I as a reader and as a reviewer -- a merciless one -- knew that whatever qualities the story might have were deeply buried under lackluster and possibly just plain bad writing.  Invoking the Josh Olson protocol, I proceeded without hesitation.

 

Let's look at that opening page under a magnifying glass:

 

Detective DeMarko ducked beneath the yellow police tape surrounding the twelve-story building of Morrison Advertising. The entire block had been closed off, since it was an official crime scene. Squad cars lined the block, drawing the unwanted attention of anyone within a two-block radius. She stood with her hands on her hips, taking in the scene as her partner, Jasper Reiner, approached, bitching about the weather.

 

“It’s a scorcher, boss,” Reiner complained, wiping the sweat from his brow.

 

“It is that,” DeMarko confirmed, heading toward the uniformed officer maintaining order.

Brate, Rose M (2017-11-13T22:58:59). Deadly Deceit (Kindle Locations 30-35). Kindle Edition.

We start with Detective DeMarko, who is not further identified.  No first name, no physical description, so we don't even know if this official is male or female or whatever.  Is this clever?  Is it intentional?  Is it sloppy writing?  Hold that thought.

 

The yellow police tape automatically tells us this is a crime scene; the observation in the latter part of the second sentence is unnecessary.  It's certainly not clever; it's sloppy.

 

What about the first part of that sentence?  The yellow tape surrounds the building, but "the block" had been closed off.  How large is the block?  What's used to close it off?  Vehicles?  Police officers?

 

The third sentence gives some more information: police vehicles are lining "the block."  We still don't know if these vehicles are sealing off the area, just that they're there.

 

They're drawing "unwanted" attention.  Unwanted by whom?  And why is that attention unwanted?

 

And why is it important that they draw unwanted attention from anyone in a "two-block" radius?  (Think about how awkward that is, since radius implies a circle, presumably centered on the tape-surrounded building, which would itself block at least part of that circle.  Words have meaning.)

 

Now comes the big jolt:  "She stood with her hands on her hips."

 

Aha!  So, is our detective a woman?  If we didn't already suspect that, or have an image of a woman in our reader's imagination, we've been stopped cold while we alter that mental image.  The first sentence with no description of DeMarko is probably intentional, but it may not be quite so clever, because it has forced the reader to reassess the vision created by the opening words.  It has pulled the reader out of the story, when instead that opening should drag the reader in, further and further with every word.

 

There are four sentences in the opening paragraph.  Three of those sentences contain present participial phrases; one of them contains two.  This is lazy, sloppy, unpolished writing.

 

Do most readers care?  The honest answer has to be, "No, most don't care.  Most don't notice.  Most don't know enough to notice."

 

By the end of the first paragraph, we know that Detective DeMarko is a woman, but we don't know her first name.  We do, however, know her partner's first and last name.  We also know that he's bitching about the weather.  Author Brate has clearly told us what Reiner is doing.

 

Even though she has already told us Reiner is complaining about the weather, the very next sentence repeats the information.  That participial phrase "bitching about the weather" is telling, and it's completely unnecessary when the author shows the same information in Reiner's dialogue.

 

But Reiner calls DeMarko "boss," even though he's been identified as DeMarko's partner, not her subordinate.  After the very first sentence left DeMarko's gender unknown, now the relationship between her and Reiner is uncertain.

 

The next sentence, which is the last on the first page of my Kindle sample, contains DeMarko's confirmation of Reiner's statement . . . and two more participial phrases.

 

This is just plain lousy writing.  It's crap.  Is there s good story under all those present participles?  Maybe, but I don't care.  I'm not going to wade through any more of this garbage.

 

There's no direct return for me on this investment of time.  I didn't expect any.  If someone reads this and benefits, then it's all to the good.  If a writer learns to check her sentences for repetitions of present participles, if a reader learns to distinguish between good writing and bad, that's the very most I can hope for.  The exercise in analysis, of taking apart a couple of paragraphs per the Josh Olson protocol, is my way of getting five cents on the dollar of my own investment elsewhere.

 

EDITED TO ADD:

 

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text 2018-03-08 21:10
Stupid Things (Some) Authors Say

As seen in a discussion regarding if authors should read reviews for their books, and if those reviews are "feedback" for the author:

 

"...why an author should even have a place on which readers can post reviews, if the author isn't supposed to look at them..."

 

I don't know if this author knows something I don't - that there are authors who have set up places for readers to post reviews, or if she is under the impression that GoodReads and Amazon (which is what we're discussing) are sites authors have set up for readers to post reviews.

 

Either way, I'm shaking my head.

 

Isn't it so nice of those authors to provide areas for us little readers to share our opinions of their books?  For author "feedback" no doubt. ;)

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text 2018-03-06 02:01
Stupid Beyond Help

So, an author posted this somewhere in the bowels of GoodReads yesterday:

 

"I feel the same. Amazon is extremely controlling about who can post a review. A very good friend of mine bought a paperback copy and has tried posting her review multiple times, but Amazon keeps booting it off. For some reason they think she's not a verified purchaser so they won't allow the review to post. And good luck on trying to contact them. You'd have better luck trying to get a sunburn on Antarctica than to get anyone to understand what you're trying to ask them."

 
So, I took a deep breath and responded:
 
'Amazon doesn't require people to be verified purchasers in order to post reviews. So that is not the reason her review is not being allowed to be posted.

They do not allow friends and family of an author to post reviews, for reasons I think are pretty obvious. That would be why her review is not being allowed to be posted.

I do not consider this prohibition by Amazon "extremely controlling" in the least. I consider it reasonable, understandable, and I'm quite thankful for it.'
 
I also posted this:
 
 
Her response today? You're all gonna love this:
 
"Amazon has no idea she's my friend, and yes, they do only post verified purchases. They don't care if it's your friend, grandmother, aunt or a perfect stranger as long as their system verifies the purchase was made with a credit card bearing the same name."
 
Sigh.

 

And in another conversation a different author stated this:

 

"For perspective, I am aware of many many indy authors who solicit almost all their reviews from relatives and Facebook friends. That's far more misleading than an RF reviewer posting one review. All this appears to be somewhat the nature of self-publishing for better or worse."

 

Believe me, there are still many authors out there thinking like this.  Thankfully they're mostly very small potatoes, but they're all chatting each other up about how this sort of thing is perfectly fine, and there are more out there than you may see.  Of course thankfully they're still a minority, or at least only a minority is dumb enough to say things like this in public.

 

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text 2018-02-25 21:15
Clean Up on Aisle Five!

Remember that author pal of Ms. Vidal's, who joined in to attempt to get the attention of a reviewer's employer and making accusations against him?

 

If you don't, you can read about it here: Another Author Joins in the Fun.

 

Well, I am pleased to report that particular author as of today is no longer a GoodReads Author.

 

Good Riddance. 

 

It had been noticed a few days ago that the offending comment of hers posted to Ms. Vidal's blog and FB page had been removed.  Presumably she'd gotten an inkling it had gotten her into some hot water.  Just as Vidal had deleted her blog post targeting reviewers right before she also lost her GR Author status.

 

A third author has joined in the fun, harassing Ms. M. on one of her reviews.  After careful research it's been determined this author has been rating/reviewing the same books from two different GoodReads accounts.  Most are his own books, but a couple are books written by his pals.  He also has posted ratings of some of his books under more than one format.

 

This all has been reported to GoodReads.  Hopefully they'll get that mess cleaned up soon as well.

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