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review 2017-06-24 21:13
Confessional (A Blake Harte Mystery, #2)
Confessional - John A. Ashley,Robert Innes

As I said on my DNF review of the first book in this series, Untouchable, there are good bones here. I feel like this author has a lot of potential but just isn't getting any kind of guidance at all. He clearly doesn't have an editor. Some of the grammatical issues from the first book are improved on - mostly - but many others remain. Many of the character interactions are more or less well done, though the author could use a better grasp on basic human psychology to avoid cliche pitfalls. There wasn't much to the mystery. It's formulaic and predictable. I had the whodunit pegged from the second they showed up on page, and I even had the murder method more or less figured out from the get-go.

I figured foxglove/digitalis sprinkled on the communion wafers; murderer went with hemlock in the communion wine.

(spoiler show)

The ending was filled with all the bad cliches; I was cringing, y'all. I couldn't get up the energy to even be remotely concerned about the welfare of the characters. It was obvious what was going to happen and it was just boring.

 

So yeah, there are good bones here, and if this author can find himself an editor or two who really know what they're doing, I can see him writing some great stories. But as of now, with one DNF and one 2.5 star read, I won't be bothering with any more from this writer.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-12 22:18
Good Idea, Atrocious Execution
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane - Katherine Howe

 

The book has over 500 reviews on Amazon, with a 4.1 star average rating. The five-star ratings account for 41% of those, which is reasonably impressive.  My review isn't going to impact that very much, and that's not my intent.

 

This review will also be filled with spoilers. Consider yourself warned.

 

First major spoiler:  The dog is okay.  Nothing bad happens to him.  There's another spoiler about him later.

 

I finished the book, which is more than I do with many of the books I start.  Many of them don't hold me for two pages.  So there's that.

 

I liked the premise: Academic Connie Goodwin inherits her grandmother's old house in what was Salem Village, Massachusetts and goes on a search for a 300-year-old book with some connection to the Salem Witch Trials. 

 

The writing was competent, if a little heavy on the description.

 

That said, it wasn't long before I began to have problems even as I continued reading.

 

Connie is a young woman, in her early to mid 20s, and she has been in school virtually all her life.  The last few years in grad school have been by choice: she wants to continue to study and earn her PhD.  She doesn't come across, however, as a dedicated scholar.  Once she completes her oral exam and is cleared to begin her dissertation, she seems to forget all her academic training and lose all her scholarly motivation.  Is it because it's summer break?  It shouldn't be, because working on that dissertation should be her single primary focus now if she's truly dedicated to her scholarship.

 

However. . . .

 

She receives word from her mother Grace, a free spirit hippie type living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that the house that had belonged to Connie's grandmother, Sophia, needs to be prepared for sale after sitting vacant for 20 years since Sophia's death.  Since the house is in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and Connie is at Harvard in Cambridge, she is delegated to the task for the summer.  She heads there with her roommate Liz and her dog Arlo.

 

There's no real explanation for why the place wasn't sold when Sophia died or why it's being sold now.

 

It was at their arrival at the house that I lost my willing suspension of disbelief (WSOD).

 

 

The rest of the very lengthy review is at

 

 

https://fearlesslyintelligent.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-physick-book-of-deliverance-dane-by.html

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review 2017-01-18 04:11
Untouchable (Blake Harte Mystery #1) - DNF @ 22%
Untouchable (The Blake Harte Mysteries Book 1) - Robert Innes

I could've muddle through the dry prose, I really could have. It lacked emotion, but it wasn't all telling/no showing. There was an attempt at showing in between all the info-dumping. But there were two things I just could not deal with:

 

1) The domestic abuse angle. It requires finesse and skill to tell this kind of story right, and I just wasn't feeling it here. It was very textbook. Maybe the execution of this plot line gets better as the story progresses, but I didn't have the patience to find out.

 

2) The grammar is terrible. Words are randomly capitalized in the middle of sentences. And Innes consistently, without fail, uses incorrect punctuation in all his dialogue. All of it.

 

"I'm going to the store." She said. - Incorrect.
"I'm going to the store," she said. - Correct.

 

This is Basic English 100.

 

Still, there are good bones here, considering this is the first story by this author. A better editor and some more filling in the corners, and you've got a promising story. It just isn't this story.

 

I can't comment on how the mystery aspect of it unfolds since I didn't get to that part before I gave up.

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review 2016-12-29 02:43
Top Floor
Top Floor - K.C. Faelan

I don't know how a story can be this long and still not really show any of the relationship buildup, but this one somehow manages to do it by skipping weeks of relationship development at a time. One minute, Sean is cleaning up Mr. Deuvaux's foot after he cuts it on a broken glass, the next minute Mr. Deuvaux is hiring Sean as a personal assistant, the next minute they're flirting in a tailor's shop, and so on. Is it really that hard to SHOW the MCs actually getting to know each other on page? And no, all their overly-detailed and long, drawn-out smexy times don't count. At least not for me. If you like lots of sex, you'll probably love this book but I was mostly bored.

 

There was one point after the Big Misunderstanding when Mr. Deuvaux was wondering when Sean became such an important part of his life, and I honestly didn't know how to answer that because we were only ever told a few little things that Sean did for his employer. We never saw that bond form. It felt more like Mr. Deuvaux latched onto Sean because Sean just happened to be standing in the room when Mr. Deuvaux's doctor told him to sober up.

 

Then there's the subplot with the hotel manager Mr. Trant, who is blackmailing his employees if he finds them having dalliances with the hotel clientele, making them steal items for him or he'll fire them and report them to the police. I was hoping that would at least provide some sort of on-page action, but most of that happens off-page too.

 

But hey, at least there's that four-chapter long foreplay and sex scene at the Dionysus Club that would never end. *sigh*

 

It wasn't all bad though. There were a few cute scenes and I liked what we saw of the other hotel staff who were Sean's friends. The period details were well done and there weren't that many grammar errors.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-12-14 05:34
Suspicious minds
The Semper Sonnet - Seth J. Margolis

When Stephanie at Stephanie's Book Reviews reviewed this book, I was intrigued enough to check it out on Amazon.  The Kindle edition was only 99 cents. so I splurged and bought it.

 

Disclosure:  I paid the full retail price for the Kindle edition.  I do not know the author, nor have I ever had any contact with him about this book or any other matter.  I am an author of contemporary gothic and historical romances.

 

This is not really a review, since I've only read a couple chapters and may or may not read any more.  But I'm so disgusted by what I found that I feel compelled to post this information.  As an author, I cannot post it on Amazon; authors are not allowed to post negative comments/reviews.

 

I know virtually nothing about the publisher of this item, Diversion Books of New York City.  They have a website that makes them look professional, and they seem to have a number of authors and titles in their catalogue.  But I personally would never recommend them to anyone, based on my reading of the opening chapters of this book.

 

Editors are supposed to fix errors.  Although editors are human and make mistakes, they shouldn't make big fat obvious ones.

 

 

Screen shot from K4PC

 

 

 

 

Copied text from later in the same chapter:

 

Lee Nicholson would not be wounded. She would not bleed.

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Location 245). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

 

Copied text from the next chapter:

 

“You haven’t been charged with anything, Miss Nichols.”

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Location 292). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

Copied text from later in the next chapter:

 

Where would she go?

“Miss Nichols?”

Detective Lowry was staring at her with something verging on concern.

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Locations 317-318). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

 

 

And later:

 

“Leslie Nichols?”

She turned from her dresser to face one of the plainclothes men sifting through every item in her bedroom.

“I’m known as Lee. Lee Nichols.”

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Locations 365-367). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

 

An error like that is pretty much unforgivable.  I caught it on a first reading late at night when I was tired as hell.

 

Names are important . They are one of the first identifiers of a character.  They can also stop a reader in her tracks if they're wrong or jarring or . . . too familiar.

 

From early in Chapter 1:

 

Her mentor at Columbia, David Eddings, had assured her that it was her looks and not her scholarship that had landed her a spot on the news.

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Locations 224-225). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

 

David Eddings was a well-known author of several best-selling fantasy series.  Coming across an unusual name of a real person like this is a jolt that pulls a reader out of the make-believe world of the novel.  Had the name been Donald Eddings or David Geddings, I would never have noticed it.  But I did notice "David Eddings" and was immediately on alert.

 

When the main character's name changed from "Lee Nicholson" to "Lee Nichols," the importance of the other name doubled.  "Leigh Nichols" is one of the many pseudonyms of another best-selling author, Dean Koontz.

(spoiler show)

 

 

Had this been a self-published book, I probably would have stopped reading at that point and just posted a DNF review.  There were other elements of the plot that bothered me even at less than 4% into the book, but I could have overlooked those if I felt confident of the writing.  But because it was published by a third party, I decided to do a little more research.

 

The first stop was Amazon, to see what the reviews were like.  Oh man, oh man, oh man, here we go again.

 

The Semper Sonnet's dedication:

 

For Jean Naggar

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Location 64). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

 

 From the Amazon page for the book:

 

 

Full transparency my ass.

 

Oh, and that 1 comment?  It's Jean Naggar's link to her own book.  Follow that up and you'll find that Ms. Naggar is a literary agent.  I'd be willing to bet she's Seth Margolis's agent.

 

Full transparency my ass.

 

So now I have a really bad taste in my mouth about this author and this book.  I regret spending even 99 cents on it and putting 35 cents in Margolis's bank account, 7 cents of which probably went to Naggar.

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