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text 2018-01-27 19:50
Hoping to start a discussion: Correct me if I'm wrong. . . . . .

I'm back on the couch with the heating pad, having messed up my back again.  It's not nearly as bad this time as in the past, but I'm going to take it easy for at least a few hours.


Some comments on Twitter this morning got me to thinking about the whole issue of negative book reviews, and I'm not sure if I'm coming at this from the right direction.  I almost dismissed my concerns until I went back and reread Debbie's comment on my earlier review here.


She wrote:


Lots of publicity enterprises making money generating positive reviews that illegally (on U.S. sites) don't disclose were reviewing for the publicity firm, for the author, for the publisher or as an exchange of reviews between authors or group of authors (FTC considers that a service received, I.e., payment the same as a cash fee). Always suspicious when a flurry of 4-5 star reviews are around release dates, promotions, blog tours or other events (or release date of still yet another new edition.


Yes, there are bloggers and semi-professional (getting free books) reviewers who only post positive reviews.  We've been through this before.  There are also the genuine consumers who leave reviews, sometimes honest, sometimes dishonest but kind.  Authors, including Roger Hayden who wrote The Haunting of Saxton Mansion, often leave requests for reviews in the digital books themselves:


As an indie author, Amazon reviews can have a huge impact on my livelihood. So if you enjoyed the story please leave a review letting me and the rest of the digital world know. And if there was anything you found troubling, please email me. Your feedback helps improve my work, and allows me to continue writing stories that will promise to thrill and excite in the future. But be sure to exclude any spoilers.


I would love if you could take a second to leave a review: Click here to leave a review on Amazon!

Hayden, Roger. Ghostly Secrets Super Boxset: A Collection Of Riveting Haunted House Mysteries (Kindle Locations 8053-8059). Kindle Edition.


(I won't comment on the dangling modifier in the opening sentence of the above snippet.  Oh, I guess I just did.  My bad.)


Because of Amazon's policies regarding reviews by other authors -- which are actually in line with FTC restrictions, too -- some of the more knowledgeable people about the quality of the writing are not permitted to express their opinions when the quality falls short. Negative reviews all too often attract reprisals and/or retribution, and thus honesty is discouraged.  A culture has developed of "If you can't leave a positive review, don't leave any at all."


In some cases, it's justified/rationalized/excused by respect for the author's effort.  "Even a badly written book required the writer's time and effort.  I have to respect that."


My question, however, is this:  What obligation does any reader have to refrain from expressing a negative opinion?  And to whom is that obligation owed?


Years ago, I noticed what appeared to be a pattern of bad behavior by one of my son's teachers.  When I spoke to other parents, they agreed that her actions were problematic, but they weren't willing to make a formal complaint. They didn't want to rock the boat or risk retaliation against their children.  The teacher's behavior worsened, to the point that I finally took my concerns to the principal.  I presented evidence of the teacher's blatant favoritism and her constant belittling and harassment of the students who weren't her favorites.  The situation reached a crisis point with the principal (of a K-5 school!) calling me a lying bitch in front of a dozen students, and the teacher exploding in a temper tantrum at me in front of her entire class and most of the students' parents.  Only later did I get an acknowledgement from the principal that yes, I was right and the teacher had shown grossly unfair favoritism.  The problem was going to be addressed, but it was too late for too many students.


Is there some kind of equivalency between poor teaching techniques and poor writing?  Probably not.  So let me take it another notch higher.


Of the more than 150 young women who were sexually abused by Larry Nassar, many reported his behavior over the decades of his abuse.  Decades.  Those young women, some of them really only girls, were either ignored, or not believed, or dismissed.  Many others didn't even know that what he was doing to them was wrong, because no one told them.  Many others said nothing because they knew they wouldn't be believed.  Some even kept silent because they thought they themselves were somehow to blame!  University officials knew, but for their own reasons they, too, chose silence.  The governing body of the gymnastics sport also maintained silence.  We don't yet know who else protected themselves and their own interests through silence, while hundreds of young people suffered.


Is there some kind of equivalency between sexual abuse of children and writing a lousy book?  No, of course not.  But is there some kind of equivalency between the silence with which many people treat the wrongdoing that they see in front of them?


Have we all developed a habit of self-preservation through silence?


"First they came for the _______________, but I said nothing because I was not a _______________."


When a book is badly written, when it has numerous typographical errors and misspellings and grammatical mistakes and factual inaccuracies, when it has gaping plot holes and character inconsistencies and logical impossibilities, what do we accomplish with our silence?  Have we given that author an "A for Effort" trophy without even knowing if she/he made a sincere effort rather than just slapping something together and putting a 99-cent price tag on it?  Are we just giving ourselves the protection of not having to say something bad about someone who has, essentially, done a bad thing?


If you've read through all this so far, I have something to add regarding the book that started it, The Haunting of Saxton Mansion as assembled in the collection Ghostly Secrets Super Boxset. 


I had no intention of reading any more of either Roger Hayden's contribution or any of the other three stories in the set, but I did want to see if Hayden had included a request for reviews at the end of his section.  As I skimmed through the Kindle pages, a few odd words caught my eye here and there, enough that curiosity prompted me to stop and read.


The Haunting of Saxton Mansion is composed of three "books."  As I posted in my review of Book 0, the setting of the mansion itself is not logical and there are errors of fact (the Dom Perignon stuff), along with a lot of generic writing flubs.


But Book 0 opens with Gerald Saxton arriving home; Book 1 opens similarly, but some of the details have changed!


Cypress Creek, Florida

December 22, 1982

The fireplace crackled, casting dancing shadows on the wall. The tree in the corner filled the living room with a scent of fresh pine. Lights of green, red, blue, and orange were wrapped from its top to the base, along with silver tinsel and ornaments hanging from the branches. Christmas music played lightly from the stereo. An open bottle of red wine rested atop the coffee table near the black leather sofa where Gerald Saxton and his wife, Annette, sat, glasses in hand.

Hayden, Roger. Ghostly Secrets Super Boxset: A Collection Of Riveting Haunted House Mysteries (Kindle Locations 2291-2296). Kindle Edition.

Same date as Book 0, same location, same characters.  Okay, so the details regarding the Dom Perignon aren't there, and we've got a more generic red wine, but something didn't feel right as I skimmed across the Kindle pages.


Gerald had purchased their two-story three-bedroom, two-bath Victorian dream house from his father four years prior.


The gated property had a courtyard and fountain, a two-car garage, a large front deck, and even a tennis court. There wasn't a house quite like it for miles--and it was the only home on the narrow dead-end road known as Pennington Drive. Gerald and Annette loved their house and had spared no expense on renovations. The upkeep was, and would always be, a challenge, but that was to be expected with a house over twenty years old.

Hayden, Roger. Ghostly Secrets Super Boxset: A Collection Of Riveting Haunted House Mysteries (Kindle Locations 2299-2303). Kindle Edition.

What the hell?  The details are different!  Now the house is over twenty years old, not twelve!  Is Book 1 a revision of Book 0, or what?


Out of a curiosity that was now spiked with anger, I skipped ahead to Book 2.


Cypress Creek, Florida

December 23, 1982


It was past midnight. The lights were on in the Saxton mansion, an isolated estate at the end of a dead-end street. Shadowed flames from the fireplace danced against the living room wall. Outside, a black BMW sat parked next to the courtyard fountain, where water calmly flowed. A tennis court lay on the left side of the house under heavy shadow, its iron fence barely visible. A two-car garage sat housed on the other side, connected to a long driveway that ran down through the gated entrance.

There was no home quite like the Saxton mansion in the entire neighborhood. Isolated as it was, few ever ventured down Pennington Drive to see it. That night, danger was brewing inside, though nothing looked unusual from outside the gate. It was just another quiet evening in the small town of Cypress Creek, where an evil had descended upon the Saxton family.

The mansion’s elaborate Victorian architectural style included a wood exterior, arched roofs on both sides, and a tiny attic window in the center. The front porch had Christmas lights running along the railing and up the tall white columns that reached to the ceiling. The expansive front yard seemed limitless in its space, while the surrounding forest provided a sense of privacy and tranquility, shielding the mansion from view of the nearby homes that made up the neighborhood. For this reason alone, its seclusion, no one was aware of what was happening until it was too late.

That evening, the Saxtons had received two unexpected visitors. Gerald and Annette Saxton were enjoying the evening together in the living room as their children slept upstairs.

Hayden, Roger. Ghostly Secrets Super Boxset: A Collection Of Riveting Haunted House Mysteries (Kindle Locations 4679-4692). Kindle Edition.


How much of each "Book" is a reiteration of the others?  Is the opening just a summary of what happened in the previous books?  If so, then why are the details different?  How much is a recap, and how much is new material?  Does the reader need to buy/read Book 0 and Book 1, or is the whole story contained complete in Book 2?  I'm not inclined to read any further to find out.  How many of the "reviews" on Amazon of each book are just empty but positive blathering about a product?  I don't know.  (Book 2 has far fewer reviews, but it was only released earlier this month.)


As a writer who truly does put effort into each of my works, I'm appalled that reviewers hold back on bad books.  As a reader in search of good material, I'm frankly disgusted by those who spew out only positives for their own benefit and thereby prove their own indifference to their audience.


The gymnasts deserved a whole lot better.  Don't reviewers owe readers honesty, at a bare minimum?

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review 2018-01-26 15:23
Always Tell the Truth
The Empty Pot - Demi

I love this book for the message! "The Empty Pot", by Demi, is a great story to read when talking about honesty and how always telling the truth is best. In the story, the Emperor is looking for someone to replace him for when he is too old. He gives out seeds to all the children and sends them on their way to plant them and grow their seeds for one year. After a year, Ping, the main character in the story, has tried and tried to get his seeds to grow only to be left with an empty pot. Why didn't his seeds grow? When it was time to meet the Emperor, Ping had to present his empty pot while all the other children had beautiful flowers flowing out of their pots. Ping was upset, but the Emperor chose his pot because the seeds he had given the children were all cooked which mean they would not sprout. This showed Pings honesty and he was chosen as the next in line for the throne. It is always best to tell the truth and be honest about any situation, because honesty will usually keep you out of trouble. Another lesson that could be introduced is how seeds grow and how a cooked seed will not grow. The students could then plant their own seeds to grow in the classroom and watch how they sprout. They could also spent time observing plants and learning parts of a plant. This book could be used in several different ways.


Lexile: 630L

ATOS: 3.8



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review 2017-05-29 18:45
A Kind of Honesty was definitely more than....
A Kind of Honesty: - Lane Hayes,Seth Clayton

...kind of good.


I'm pretty sure that I've already mentioned this but just to refresh things. Rock star stories really are not at the top of my list to read. I don't know why they just never seem to appeal to me...however, as we all know one should 'never say never' because there are exceptions to every rule and the 'A Kind of stories' by Lane Hayes are among those exceptions for me.


Not only are the stories contained in this series beyond good but for me Seth Clayton is the perfect narrator for them.


Tim is the drummer for the rock band Spiral, which this series centers around. While he's been in each book we've really learned very little about him until now. We know he's the drummer and we know he's bisexual and  really that's about all we've learned until now. But 'A Kind of Honesty' changes all that we learn all Tim's secrets with this story and there are a few. 


Carter Hamilton-Temple is a successful financial consultant and a very rich man in his own right. He's also Zeke Gulden's best friend. We met Zeke in previous stories and learned all about Zeke in 'A Kind of Romance'. Carter may have money and the smarts to make money for his clients but what he doesn't seem to have is much luck when it comes to men.  He's had his heart and his trust broken more than once and as luck would have it the men who have done this turned out to be bi, so needless to say when Carter and Tim get together, Tim's already got one strike against him.


When Tim finally ends his relationship with his super-model from hell girlfriend. He decides it's time to explore the other side of his bisexuality and takes himself to a less than glamours gay bar with the intentions of getting laid and as fortune would have it, just about the time he's decided he picked the wrong place to put his plan into action in walks one of the hottest men Tim's set eyes on in a while. Luckily for him that man likes what the sees when he sets eyes on Tim. Mission accomplished after a couple of drinks they head out to a dive hotel and get their groove on. These two men are seriously hot together. They like their sex down and dirty...maybe not quite as dirty as their present surroundings though...


The real surprise comes for both of these men when they are once again brought face to face at a birthday party for a mutual friend. But it's no surprise when both men decide that they want to continue what started in that seedy L.A. hotel room...more down and dirty sex without the strings and hopefully cleaner surroundings.


As they explore their mutual attraction those strings just seem to add themselves. Both Tim and Carter start to find their happiness getting tied to one another and things become complicated pushing each man to his limits, until things explode and Tim is left alone with the realization that if he wants to keep what he's found with Carter, he needs to make some changes sooner than he thinks he's ready to.


I would have to say that when it comes to 'rock star' books this series is definitely at the top of my favorites list. Quite often if I read books that involve the music industry the MCs tend to be country & western performers, which is pretty ironic considering that I'm not really a C&W fan. I've read a couple other rock star series and one or two standalones that I enjoyed but honestly along with the 'Sinners' series by Rhys Ford, this is definitely my other top choice.  


My point being simply put Lane Hayes has done what only a very few authors have accomplished and that's to get me to not only read but thoroughly enjoy and look forward to a rock star series. In the scheme of things not really a big deal to anyone other than me. But from my perspective ...well, quite honestly I'm more than a little impressed.


Add to this the fact that somebody somewhere had the wisdom or just plain good luck to utilize the talents of Seth Clayton for the audio books and  this series for me has been a huge success. 


Listening to Seth Clayton narrate an audio book is a bit of a different experience than  I've come to expect from most narrators. I'm not sure that he really ticks my 'basic audio book' checklist. Although I have no problem in terms of knowing who's speaking and his voices are definitely expressive and consistent...ok, let's just say he hits the mark on these things for me and move on to what really appeals to me...which seems to be his voice in general. There's a comfortable tone to it no matter what character he's portraying. It feels like I'm curled up with a cup of coffee and a good friend who's telling me their story...it's comfortable and inviting.  I just really like his voice and no, it's not in that 'ohmygod, he sounds so hot' way although he does the sexy thing just fine as well.


One of my biggest issues with audiobooks was the fear that my inner 12 year old would run amuck during those intimate moments in a story and spoil things for me and while it has happened on occasion not once during any of these books did that little brat make an appearance and if it was going to happen this would have been the story...because hello!...dirty talk here, in abundance. But if it's done right it's howt!!! hella', hella' hot!!! and if not well...it's just a giggle fest waiting to happen...trust me there were no giggles to be found here, at least not from me. I was too busy fanning myself.


If you're like me and rock star stories aren't really your thing all I can say is check this series out, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised and if you like rock star stories you seriously need these books. These guys are all awesome and hot or maybe they're just awesomely hot...whatever, it works.


Sadly for now I'm 'kind of' out of audio books from this series but book 4 is coming soon and with any luck the audio book will follow without too much delay and Seth Clayton will still be the narrator...sorry, I don't want much...I just want it all. 



An audiobook for 'A Kind of Honesty' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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text 2017-01-27 06:22
Friday reads 1/27 17
The Art of Being Normal: A Novel - Lisa Williamson
Love and First Sight - Josh Sundquist
Honesty - Seth King
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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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