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review 2019-10-01 21:36
Reading progress update: I've read 34%. And maybe DNF. At least long-term hold
Significant Others - Sandra Kitt

Disclosure:  I acquired the Open Road Integrated Media 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 romance, contemporary gothic romance, and assorted non-fiction.


Originally published in 1996, this purports to be a contemporary romance novel.  I'm just not finding much romance in it.


Patricia Gilbert is a high school counselor in a Brooklyn public school.  Morgan Braxton is owner and CEO of what I think is something like a vulture capital company, but I'm not sure.  He has a fuck buddy Beverly who I think is a lawyer.  Kent Braxton is his son, age 15, and a student at the school where Patricia works.  Up until recently Kent has been living in Colorado Springs with his mother, who is divorced from his father.  Kent is having some problems in school. 


At 34%, there's no romance between Patricia and Morgan.  Everything is about Kent, his relationship with his father (not very good), his problems in school (academic as well as social), and so on.  There's been much more emphasis on Morgan's sex life with Beverly and his business issues than any interaction between Morgan and Patricia.  They don't even seem to be aware of each other.


The book is well written, but not quite what I'd call polished.  It feels a little rough around the edges in terms of style.  Certain glimmers of brilliance shine through, however: the minor characters of Jerome, Patricia's fellow counselor, and Morgan's secretary are great.  I wish the characterizations of Morgan and Patricia were as wonderful.


Another strong point is the depiction of Kent's difficulties fitting into the urban school environment.  As the child of a white mother and black father, he has major issues, especially with his black schoolmates.  Author Kitt doesn't shy away from this, doesn't pretty-up the language or the rough reality.  I feel more attachment to Kent because I think of romance novels as dealing primarily with emotion, and so far, all the emotion in this book has been depicted through Kent: his loneliness, his bitterness, his anger, his pain.


The book is also almost 25 years old. 


It's not a bad book; it just lacks the passion I look for in a romance novel.

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text 2019-09-13 21:54
I'm feeling uncomfortable

My non-fiction reading is fairly broad, but when it comes to fiction -- and especially romance -- I've not been as diligent about diversity.


I'm therefore making a concerted effort to read more diverse romance stories.  I won't necessarily review them all, because I'm not sure I'm qualified to.  At least not yet.


The one I started a few nights ago is bothering me.  The writing is fine.  The author is prolific and has good reviews. 


I am just completely turned off by the male main character.  He's 17, walks around with a handful of condoms in his pocket, brags about how much he likes sex, refers to his teen-aged girlfriend as his "fuck buddy."  He sets his sexual sights on a 24-year-old woman.


For her part, she doesn't brush him off.  He's physically attractive, so she lets him proceed with his attempted conquest.


I'm not very far into the book but I'm already uncomfortable.  Not because she's older than he is, but because one of them is a minor and the other one doesn't seem to take that into consideration, and because one of them seems to see sexual partners as . . . disposable.


I'm not sure I can set this aside enough to continue reading.  Maybe this author can pull it off over the course of the story, or maybe I should try another of her books.  But this so far as given me a really negative feeling.



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text 2019-09-04 00:16
Halloween Bingo reject - DNF, no stars
Child of the Ghosts (Ghosts, #1) - Jonathan Moeller

Disclosure - I acquired the Kindle edition of this book when it was offered free on Amazon (2014).  I do not know the author nor have I ever communicated with him regarding this book or any other matter.  I am an author of historical romance, contemporary gothic romance, and assorted non-fiction.


The Josh Olson Protocol rides again!


I intended to use this book for the "Ghost Stories" square, but after two pages I gave up.


The writing actually isn't too bad, at least in terms of sentence construction and syntax and so on.  But the formatting is block paragraphs, which I hate and which in my opinion immediately identifies the work as amateurishly self-published.  As soon as I see block paragraphs, I anticipate other errors.


Sure enough, there was a word missing on page one.


"But if you’re meeting with the decimvirs, that means you’re discussing criminal cases, which [you] don’t want to discuss in front of me.”

Moeller, Jonathan. Child of the Ghosts (p. 1). Azure Flame Media, LLC. Kindle Edition.


By page two there was another error, this one of words in switched places.


"I wish I had never borne you! I wish had I never met your father! Get out of my sight!"

Moeller, Jonathan. Child of the Ghosts (p. 2). Azure Flame Media, LLC. Kindle Edition.


Because the book is obviously fantasy, I discounted the misspelling of "decemvirs" as perhaps intentional, but the other errors were obviously not.


The book has received almost 400 reviews on Amazon, and over half of them are 5 stars.  The one- and two-star reviews cite the common occurrences of missing and misplaced words as a sign of poor editing.  Maybe the series (now 19 volumes?) gets better, but comments about how graphic the violence in this book is made me glad I decided not to read further.





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text 2019-08-27 19:48
There's something wrong with me . . . or with someone else
Coven at Callington (The Cauldron Effect #1) - Shereen Vedam

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 regarding this book or any other matter.  I am an author of historical romance, contemporary gothic romance, and assorted non-fiction.


I had selected this from my vast collection of Kindle freebies as one of my Halloween Bingo reads.  I wasn't yet sure which square, but it looked interesting.  When I checked my records, I discovered I purchased this on 25 Dec 2018.  The publication date, according to the Amazon listing, is 4 Sept 2018.  The title page of the Kindle edition claims it is the first edition, published October 2018.


Yet the Amazon page also shows that this book won awards in 2009 and 2011.


I'm not going to look up the author's history to find out what boxed set got her the USA Bestselling title.


After I entered the book in the BL database, I began to read it.  I was stopped immediately by this:



Switzerland, Summer Equinox, June 1454

Vedam, Shereen. Coven at Callington: The Cauldron Effect, Book 1 (p. 1). Shereen Vedam. Kindle Edition.

I went back to the Amazon listing to check the reviews, and I found this:



"It helps that the author is historically correct before the fantasy takes over."


The Prologue consists of a conversation between two polecats (common ferrets).


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review 2019-08-26 22:30
Children of the Sun and Moon: World of Melarandra Book 1
Children of the Sun and Moon (World of Melarandra #1) - P.D. Stewart

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 regarding this book or any other matter.  I am an author of historical romance, contemporary gothic romance, and assorted non-fiction.


This is, sadly, one of those books that proves the Josh Olson Protocol.  I read the opening prophecy -- with its confusing punctuation -- and got the immediate sense that here was writing that didn't know what it was supposed to be doing.  Prophecy is one thing.  Mystical is another.  Gibberish is a third.  You can guess which category the opening fell into.


Prophecy is supposed to . . . prophesy, in some sort of "when, then" sequence.  "When the Moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars."  The quatrains of Nostradamus are less precise and thus open to wider interpretation.  For example:


Near, far the failure of the two great luminaries
Which will occur between April and March.
Oh, what a loss! but two great good-natured ones
By land and sea will relieve all parts.




Though imprecise, the French seer at least makes some sense.  Two great "luminaries" -- perhaps powers? -- will fail in the springtime (or perhaps any time, if we take the calendar from one April to the next March) and great loss.  Of life? of fortune? of power?  Oh, well, we don't know.  But regardless how great the loss, two great entities of good nature will take care of everything.


Even though we don't know exactly what he means or what the prophecy specifically foretells, we understand the meaning of the words, the phrases, the concepts.


Author Stewart's prophecy is far less clear even than Nostradamus.


“In their sixteenth year, the twins sun and moon

shall be separated by betrayal but shall

be found in the light. Only when the night

is restored will the evil be destroyed.

United they will return the night but it

must be done with the power that is sun

and moon or chaos will overpower all.”

Stewart, P. D.. Children of the Sun and Moon (World of Melarandra Book 1) . Unknown. Kindle Edition.


It's just the opening, however, and this sort of thing can be kind of glossed over with the hope that it will make more sense as one reads further into the story.


Sadly, the first paragraph of the book was every bit as badly written as the opening prophecy, and possibly even worse.


The first sentence is third person present tense.


The second sentence is third person past tense.


The third sentence is second person past tense. 


On top of that, the second sentence doesn't make any sense because the syntax is totally fucked up.  Oh, I know what the author is trying to say, but that's not what she said.


Three sentences and I'm quite ready to give up.


I pushed through a grand total of two and a half paragraphs, or two full Kindle pages and that was my limit.  All telling, no showing.  Nothing happens.  I don't know what some of the invented words mean. I dislike mixed invented names with common Earthling names. ("Olrond" and "King Jeremy.")


If I were an acquiring editor, I wouldn't have got past the opening prophecy.  If I were a writing instructor, the red line of "I gave up here; you failed" would be after the third sentence.  I would not have finished the first paragraph.


I could go on, but I'm not getting paid to edit this piece of crap.  No stars.


Postscript:  When I went back to my K4PC app to read something else, I accidentally paged forward three or four pages further into this book.  Now I can add bad formatting to the review.


The text begins with block paragraphs -- no indent, double space between -- then shifts to no double space (no paragraph marking at all), then some sort of random double spacing.


This goes right back to Josh Olson's crucial statement:


It rarely takes more than a page to recognize that you’re in the presence of someone who can write, but it only takes a sentence to know you’re dealing with someone who can’t.


(By the way, here’s a simple way to find out if you’re a writer. If you disagree with that statement, you’re not a writer. Because, you see, writers are also readers.)



If a writer doesn't know what a real book -- real, but not necessarily paper, so don't get me wrong on this -- looks like, they won't produce a real book.  The Children of Sun and Moon doesn't read like a real book and it doesn't even look like a real book. 

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