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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 2018-02-08 18:46
note to self
Out Of Reach - J.B. Millhollin



Author followed me on Twitter.

Amazon reviews are all 4- and 5-star, several same reviewers, some with no other reviews.  "Twists and turns" abound.

Publisher Fulton Books is a subsidy publisher.

Downloaded only the sample, haven't looked at it yet other than to note that 20% of it is the TOC.

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review 2017-10-20 00:49
Be very, very careful what you wish for
The Serpent Scrolls: Rise of the Immortal Snake (The War with Satan Book 1) - Kenneth Harris

Afterwards, he was immediately executed. It is believed by local scholars that his beaten and burned corpse was decapitated limb by limb and buried in the forgotten grounds of Serpent Cemetery just outside of Kilfield, Massachusetts. Reportedly, his spirit awaits rebirth by 99 souls from his own admission shortly before his death.

Harris, Kenneth . The Serpent Scrolls: Rise of the Immortal Snake (The War with Satan Book 1) . Kindle Edition.

 

Emphasis is mine.  This is from the one-page Introduction.  It is the second or third major grammatical or syntactical error on that short page.

 

Disclosure:  I obtained the Kindle edition of this book on 19 October 2017 when it was offered free and promoted as such on BookLikes.  I have had intermittent communication on BookLikes with the author, but not about this book or about his writing in general.  I am an author of adult fiction and non-fiction.

 

 

The text is absurdly over-written, with four adjectives used where one would be too many. Often, they're misused.

 

Lots of words are misused.

 

He inserted the mouth of a rigid bolt cutter over the bulky wrapped chains and bisected it.

Harris, Kenneth . The Serpent Scrolls: Rise of the Immortal Snake (The War with Satan Book 1) (p. 1). Kindle Edition.

(One does not insert something over something else.  Bolt cutters have blades, jaws, and a neck, but not a mouth.  Chains are plural; it is singular.)

 

 

I don't know if this is supposed to be a morality tale reminding us of God's love or a Young Adult horror story.  If it's supposed to be a combination of the two, I can only roll my eyes.

 

The book needs serious editing.  I'm not being paid to do that.

 

I recommend avoiding this book as if it were a rattlesnake.

 

 

 

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text 2017-09-04 00:23
Reading progress update: I've read 159 out of 247 pages.
Terror in Tower Grove - Samantha Johns

 

This is a really badly written retelling of The Exorcist but with Roman Catholic proselytizing added.

 

 

“The devil is real, Tricia,” he said emphatically.  “He is a pure spirit, who was once an angel.  He has powers—the same powers as angels.  Only he hates humanity and wants to see us suffer agonizing, relentless torture at the hand of his demons for all eternity.  His minions escape hell to torment humans and dwell on the earth for as long as they can before they have to return to that horrid place.  Their numbers have multiplied dramatically over the last hundred years.”

 

“The number of priests being trained as exorcists has been increased.  That is due to all the Satanist cults and interest in the demonology and witchcraft in recent decades.  There are over 8,000 covens just in the fifty states alone.  Pope John Paul II issued new Canon laws requiring  that an exorcist be assigned to every major diocese in the United States.  Exorcisms grew over seven-hundred-and-fifty per cent just between the 1960's and mid-1970's.  I doesn't seem like a coincidence to me that it was then that all the child molestation cases occurred in the Church.  He has infiltrated the church because that is his ultimate goal—to bring down the Catholic Church.    Every year thousands of exorcisms are performed,” he explained, watching her reaction.

Johns, Samantha. Terror in Tower Grove (pp. 159-160).  . Kindle Edition.

 

 

 

 

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text 2017-09-03 23:54
Reading progress update: I've read 129 out of 247 pages.
Terror in Tower Grove - Samantha Johns

“It's true, Tricia,” he said with a sigh, “and if you remember the movie “The Exorcist,” the victim was a pre-teen.  Even in the book version—which was the true story—only it was a boy.”

 

“So, why hasn't Andrea been twisting her head around or puking pea soup at us?” she challenged.

Johns, Samantha. Terror in Tower Grove (p. 129).  . Kindle Edition.

 

 

 

 

My eyes are rolling on the floor . . . . . .

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