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text 2018-06-24 22:44
A Baroness of Honor - a dishonorable compilation - DNF, no stars
A Baroness of Honor - Emily Meier A Baroness of Honor - Emily Meier

Disclosure: I obtained the Kindle edition of this book when it was offered free on Amazon.  I do not know the author nor have I had any communication with her about this book or any other matter.  I am an author of historical and contemporary romances and non-fiction.

 

The lead story, A Baroness of Honor, is but one of fifteen or so stories stuffed into this Kindle edition.  It ends at around 8% of the pages.

 

The rest of the book is recycled stories of similar or even shorter length, and none of those I sampled are Regencies.  Most, in fact, are Amish romances, which I have no interest at all in reading.  Many of these stories are set up as the featured lead title for other compilations by this author, and most are shuffled through the compilations as filler.

 

I have reported this book and several of the author's other titles to Amazon's "Content Quality" department as they appear to be in violation of Kindle Direct Publishing's Terms of Service regarding "Disappointing Content."

 

On top of all that, it's not even well written.  There's a summary provided that makes almost no sense at all.  Our baroness is the middle daughter of a earl -- so how did she get this baroness title?  The earl is killed in battle -- peers didn't usually join the military. So her widowed mother marries her off -- were there no sons to inherit the title? -- and then her new husband and HIS father are killed, leaving our baroness to handle a huge estate.  Um, where are all the male heirs???

 

The book is written in the form of a diary, and there are huge sections without paragraphs.  It's very difficult to get past the first few pages, which is about as far as I got.  It begins when Lavinia, the future(?) baroness is fourteen years old in 1809. On the day after her fourteenth birthday she is informed that she will be attending a ball in London.  Um, no.  That was the point at which I stopped reading completely.

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review 2018-06-23 23:19
Love Mystery by Pamela Styles -- DNF
Love Mystery - Pamela Styles

Disclosure:  I obtained the Kindle edition of this book when it was offered free on Amazon.  I do not know the author nor have I ever had any communication with her about this book or any other matter.  I am an author of historical and contemporary romances and non-fiction.

 

This is one of those books that you think maybe has some potential, but the execution just wrings every last drop of hope out.

 

All it took was a paragraph.  The first paragraph.

 

A sheep was gnawing on the corner of my coat. I snatched the fabric away, causing the animal to retreat, startled. I looked up, following her direction of travel. She had re-joined her flock on the hillside where I sat looking out, allowing rain to fall on my face, plastering long, wet, gray hair to my skin. I was struggling to breathe and closed my eyes intending to rest, just for a moment…

Styles, Pamela. Love Mystery (Love Magic Book 2) (Kindle Locations 15-19). Kindle Edition.

 

Gnawing.  Causing.  Following.  Looking.  Allowing.  Plastering.  Struggling.  Intending.

 

This kind of over-reliance on present participles is the mark of an amateur writer.  Perhaps one who hasn't done a lot of reading herself.  Perhaps one who hasn't had a good critique group to help her through the process of developing a prose style.

 

Regardless the reason, it makes for a disappointing reading experience. And it only gets worse in succeeding paragraphs.

 

That disappointment is intensified with clumsy repetitions.  "Pounding" appears three times in the next couple of paragraphs.   Or this:

 

This was not the best start to my eighteenth birthday. I could hear movement outside my bedroom, surely my mother, come to rouse me to celebrate. She knocked on the door.

 

“Alexis,” she called to me through the door.

Styles, Pamela. Love Mystery (Love Magic Book 2) (Kindle Locations 23-24). Kindle Edition.

 

There's no need to write "through the door." It's just extra words that don't add anything.

 

But here's the thing that pulled me completely out of the story, far more than just the unpolished writing.

 

There's the cover, first.

 

 

 

I post it here because they get changed so frequently on Amazon. Lovely young woman, flowers, soft colors.

 

Then the opening section of the book is titled "Alexis."

 

Then the opening scene depicts a person in the rain, with long wet gray hair, which suggests that the person is a woman.

 

But in fact, "Alexis" is a young man!

 

I had already built up a mental image, based on the cover art, of Alexis as a young woman.  Even though I'd only invested the few minutes necessary to get through two or three pages, the magic was completely broken when I learned my mental image had to be completely redrawn.

 

Shelly Lowenkopf, in his 1982 article for The Writer magazine "Creating the Rejection-Resistant Novel," says a writer only has three pages at the very most to capture a reader's attention.  I was barely three Kindle pages into this book when my attention was completely thrown out of the book, not only by the weak writing but now by the false mental image I had created based on the clues the writer had left.  That was enough for me to DNF.

 

Those problems were enough, but they weren't the end of my reasons.

 

The book is supposedly set in 1869 in the U.S., but the celebration of Samhain seemed  out of place with that era and location.  I could have bought it if the author had given me some kind of context. 

 

The context is provided in the Amazon listing description, but we all know that books get withdrawn or descriptions changed, and they don't accompany the book files to the reading device.  The description also clearly states that Alexis is male.  But reading the book on my Kindle, without access to the original listing, I had no way of knowing that.

 

All in all, it was a very disappointing experience, and I'm not inclined to read any further.  This lengthy review is to give other readers a full explanation of my analysis.  I'm sure there are people who won't like that I wrote more than I read, but that's just too bad.

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review 2018-06-03 21:13
Red Dirt Heart 3
Red Dirt Heart 3 - N.R. Walker

Charlie and Travis are back again with Ma, George and their pet wombat, Nugget. For those of you who don't know, like me, wombats are kind of mini-pig/gopher-looking things:

 

 

Also, they're illegal to own as pets, so it's a little weird that didn't become an issue in one of the subplots in this book.

 

Oh, and they have square poop. Why wasn't this brought up? Of all the things Travis doesn't seem to know about, despite growing up on a Texas ranch, that would be the thing that should've caused a comment but didn't.

 

Anyway, I'm off topic.

 

This is a culmination of Charlie's part of the story, and it was nice to see him coming fully out of his shell, learning to communicate with those around him and rely on them. He's got a lot on his plate, but he's really settled into his skin and if he had one more challenge to face, it was learning to stand on his own. While Travis might have helped him to open up, he didn't bring out anything in Charlie that wasn't already there. There was a teensy bit of Big Misunderstanding there that felt on the contrived side that I don't think was even necessary to get Charlie to where he ended up, but eh. YMMV.

 

The family drama was...unexplained to say the least.

Why did Charlie's dad tell his mom to get rid of her pregnancy? That part was never explained. They already had one kid, after all, so what would've been wrong with having a second one?

(spoiler show)

That part really needed to be more fleshed out. As it stands right now, the answer seems to boil down to "just cuz." Still, it gave Charlie another part of himself to come to terms with and grow from, and that was neat.

 

This did start off a little slowly, since Charlie had to feed Nugget every other paragraph, which got repetitive fast. It ended strong though, so despite the fact that the editing is actually getting worse with each installment, this one still gets a four-star rating.

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text 2018-06-03 18:33
The Lion Tamer By Dahlia Donovan 99 cents!
The Lion Tamer (The Sin Bin #6) - Claire Smith,Hot Tree Editing,Dahlia Donovan

Gray Baird’s to-do list for the year includes starting a restaurant, claiming his submissive, and keeping his nosy friends out of his business. He has his work seriously cut out for him.

Scottie Monk prides himself on bullying his way through problems—and sometimes even people. His life is spiralling out of his control, but he refuses to break. The last thing he expects is to find peace in the confines of submission.

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review 2018-05-20 00:48
Man & Monster (The Savage Land #2)
Man & Monster (The Savage Land: Book 2) - Michael Jensen

It was great (I guess?) getting back to Hugh's Lick, which is still as much a stain on the frontier as it was in the first book. I hoped that we would get to see John, Palmer and Gwennie again, and we do. Even though they're not the MCs here, we still see plenty of them as they help Cold-Hearted Cole, new to the frontier and not having a good time of it. Wendigos trying to devour you can be such party-poopers, ya know. ;)

 

I really liked Pakim (I don't remember if he was in the first book or not) and the relationship that developed between him and Cole was often humorous and sweet, even while Cole was fighting his feelings. There was some good sexual tension there too, just don't expect any mind-blowing sex scenes.

 

I didn't feel as engaged in this book as I did with Man & Monster. Cole isn't as engaging a POV character as John was, for starters. Cole is purposely closed off for various reasons, and while we do get to see flashes of who he is underneath the cold-hearted persona, it's not quite enough for me to care about him as a character. Then there's the really bad horror movie aspect of the book that involves the monster/wendigo that's terrorizing Hugh's Lick. 1) The majority of these settlers deserve to be eaten, and 2) it was like reading the equivalent of "running up the stairs in the dark" for two hundred pages. The pacing felt off, if not downright slow, and the characters barely even paid any attention to the warnings or advice they got. I also figured out pretty quick who at least one of the wendigos was going to be. The editing also could've been better.

 

Thankfully, once the show - or the characters - finally get on the road and get to doing something not phenomenally stupid, the action was pretty well-written, if just as over the top as you'd get from any blockbuster movie. 

 

It was good, and fun, but I think going through and trimming out about twenty pages would've helped a lot.

 

I do think when authors take liberties with historical figures, they really should make an author's note on their research and what they decided to change about that person for the sake of their story. So there's that.

 

In closing:

 

"Oh, the Lord is good to me.
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need:
The sun and the rain and the apple seed;
The Lord is good to me."

 

Bet y'all haven't thought of that one in a hot minute.  I know I haven't. ;)

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