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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 2018-06-22 04:19
2.7 Out Of 5 STARS for me on this one...
Wake of Vultures - Lila Bowen

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~BOOK BLURB~

Wake Of Vultures

Lila Bowen

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Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She's a half-breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don't call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is, until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood and he turns to black sand.

 

And just like that, Nettie can see.

 

But her newfound sight is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn't understand what's under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding—at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead her to find her true kin . . . if the monsters along the way don't kill her first. 

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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This felt like it was trying too hard to be about as many relevant topics as it could, and for me personally, I think it just came off as overtly chaotic.  It started out good, I was feeling the alternate old west world she had created…then it just became crude and uncomfortable.  Then there were the supernatural elements, seriously it had everything from Vampires to Chupacabra's, with several more in between, too many really…but  hey, there are plenty of readers out there who liked this.  With that being said…its overall message about not being afraid to be yourself is the best thing about this book, and it's the reason I rated as high as I did.

 

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

~MY RATING~

2.7STARS - GRADE=C-

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 3/5

Main Characters~ 2.5/5

Secondary Characters~ 2/5

The Feels~ 2/5

Pacing~ 3/5

Addictiveness~ 2/5

Theme or Tone~ 3/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 3.5/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 4/5

Originality~ 4/5

Ending~ 3/5  Cliffhanger~ "to be continued"

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Book Cover~ Very cool

Narration~ 3 by Robin Miles…I don't think she was bad, she just didn't work for me.

Series~ The Shadow #1

Setting~ Old West

Source~ Audiobook (Library)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

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review 2018-06-21 20:52
Little Big Love - Katy Regan

This was an adorable story of ten year old Zac who is overweight and bullied and just wants to know why his dad left him.

Juliet, his single mother, tries to do her best for her very intelligent and imaginative son. However, the family has secrets that involve Zac's dad and only one person can get to the bottom of that secret.

Mick is the grandfather who sees a whole new world through his grandson's eyes and also holds a terrible secret.

Absolutely delightful read that I thoroughly enjoyed!!

Thanks to Berkley Publishing and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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review 2018-06-21 20:32
The Love Letter - Rachel Hauck

This is actually two stories. One is present day and the other deals with the screenwriter's 6 greats grandfather during the war for independence from England. It's a love story and a sad story all in one.

The present day deals with the relationship between the screenwriter and an actress who had only ever died in all her films. Her one big hope is to live to the end of the film.

I absolutely loved this book. I did guess Chloe's part in the history, but still that didn't stop me from really liking this book. I even shed a tear or two at the end.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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text 2018-06-21 13:48
Reading List Alert!
How to Read a Poem: And Fall in Love with Poetry - Duke University,Edward Hirsch

I have been obsessed with reading lists ever since I was a kid. All the Newberry winners on a bookmark? Yes, please. "100 Essential Novels?" Sign me up.

 

I'm much more critical of reading lists these days, now that I have read more widely and studied literature for so many years. But that's part of the fun. (Don't get me started on PBS's "Great American Read" thing. Seriously. What's going on there? Never mind. Another post. 

 

I read Edward Hirsch's "How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love With Poetry" recently, in anticipation of seeing him read at the Northwoods Writers Conference in Bemidji, MN. It was last night - he was wonderful - witty, self-depricating, erudite. Wonderful. 

 

I recommend the whole book unreservedly, but the first essay, "Message in a Bottle," I'm sure will stand as a classic statement about poetry in and of itself. 

 

Now, to get to the point: The book closes with the 24-page "A Reading List and the Pleasure of the Catalog." Having read this book, and other Hirsch volumes, I know he's both a scholar and an artist. I was afraid, even at my age and stage of self-education, that I'd be out of the conversation.

 

I am so satisfied to say that yes, I found many books on Hirsch's list that I have read. Thank goodness. I'm "in the conversation," as we used to say in graduate school. Of course, there are hundreds of volumes on Hirsch's list I haven't read - so off to the library! 

 

-cg

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