Due to the author losing her mind, posting a libel blog post and responding many of the authors on twitter who shared my review from Triberr or my blog by calling them names and getting all huffy. Naomi Blackborn responded in a post: To Review or Not Review: It shouldn’t be a question on her blog The AUthor CEO. I have had a lot of thing said about me and even my husband stepped in and responded with this post: Prepare for your work to be destroyed #IndiePub. Am I butthurt? Nope just disappointed and totally understanding why so many of you guys will NOT review indie writers. I am this close to being done except for the writers whose work and behavior has already been proven as professional. The following review is only 1/3 of what I wrote. There are so many other problems with the book I did not include, such as her inability to research and her bigotry as well as her irresponsibility to writing a book FOR Young adults which would get most teachers fired if they used it as required reading. (picture a description of sexual abuse of a five year old and contrived sounding abuse which focused on the extreme). She screamed PTSD, she screamed THIS IS MY STORY.. well FINE... this is MY REVIEW, suck it up buttercup! ALSO go read my hubbies post, I guarantee many authors and reviewers will like it, especially since the man is not a reviewer but an actual indie artist.
You know what you say after eating that banana split? “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!” Well guys, I can’t believe I read the whole thing.
The following review are my opinion. It was unsolicited except for the random reading of the tweet from the author, which I did not respond too.
So take a deep breath, perhaps crack open a bottle of wine or pour some Irish Cream in your coffee because you will need it.
As I have mentioned before, grammar is not my strong point. I struggle to place the comma right and commonly find myself putting in a serial comma in one sentence and in the next not bothering. I was taught not to in elementary school and in college I was ripped a new one when I did not. Because of this, I usually give it a pass unless it is so glaringly bad I have to say something. Within the first 10 minute of reading I felt nauseated, and had to put the book down because there was a virtual vomiting of commas or semi-colons or nothing at all I seriously had head nausea. But I, again, gave the author the benefit of the doubt and chalked it up to the recent death of my Kuerig. I slammed a couple of bad cups of instant coffee, took a couple of Tums and gave it another go… Wow, there really are no more words. Still I pushed on through.
The book takes place in the fall of ’87 in a small Midwestern town. Bum **** Egypt Indiana to quote the author. I graduated in 1985, went to Washington State University and studied Journalism through 1987 and was heavily involved in the music scene from my junior high years through the birth of my son in 89. I hung with skateboarders, drove to Seattle and like the protagonist, Kiera, dug through the records in the U-district. The 90′s grunge musicians were in high school and had yet to play in front of the mosh pits. I hung out with many of them in fact. Heck, Dave Krusen and I had a very interesting and tenacious friendship throughout my high school career and I have some of the original photos of Outrigger somewhere on black and white negatives at my parents. I say all this because the book is saturated in musical references, so the music is not something that is lost on me, especially from the 80’s. However there is nostalgia and then there is self-service.
Before I get into that, I think I should address some of the technical things which didn’t just jump out at me, but inspired me to take a bullet for you guys.
Let’s start with the technical issues. I promise I will not nitpick. One of the 101 There are several mistakes writers make. Any Creative Writing 201 class will tell you the watch out for some of the following (all of which she makes the mistakes of falling into the trap of):
**Lack of Editing.
**Too Much Irrelevant Detail.
**No Attention to Language.
**Absence of Imagery and Reliance on Cliches.
**No Sense of Place.
**No Shape or Structure
**Poor Dialogue Skills
**Lack of Technical Knowledge.
I won't cover all of these. It is to bad but it is common in first time writers. Let’s address the lack of editing and lack of technical knowledge first. Again, I am sure this review is riddled with my own technical mistakes. I could never edit my own work. Hence why you need professional editing. Not just someone who hangs an “editor shingle” up, but has been proven by the actual piece of work, to be a true editor.
The opening sentence should have been an indicator to me:
“Red pen slashes a bloody trail all over the journal that lands in front of me.”
If I was wielding a red pen myself it would be corrected with:
“Red marks slash a bloody trail over the journal that lands in front of me.”
After reading the first four chapters I went back to re-read what I had read just in case it was me. Truthfully at this point I *was* just going to give up and write a DNF review. (BTW I read the WHOLE BOOK) After re-reading and seeing for myself why I actually felt physically ill, I found the lack of or mistakenly used commas to be the dirty little culprit, and not the bad coffee. There are over twenty-four mistakes which I will not bother to even post which include but are not even close to being limited to attribution style clauses, independent clauses needing or not needing commas and the lack of hyphens. One that bothers me horrifically are the made up slang. I am reminded by my wonderful partner that this could be a sub-culture I was unaware of. Even with that in mind you think could find some kind of etymology of the word hillbullies that is not a weird esoteric movie reference from 2009. I am not even from Indiana but if I ever called one of my Hoosier family members (yes Grandma and Gramps were from Indiana) or any of my friends a Hillbully I would probably lose a friend. I shared the following example with one of them tonight when I asked her if she had ever heard of this slang term. (Which it seems to be not paying attention to language).
(FROM THE BOOK) - You see, in Indiana if you were to request Earl Grey tea, you would be met with a blank stare followed by, “What in tarnation are you askin’ fer?”. It isn’t like the entire state is a bunch of fat, stupid redneck hillbullies. It’s just the majority. You try and find a cluster of people who aren’t gun-toting, truck-driving, country-music-listening, rude, “yew ain’t frum here ar yew”, ignorant hillbullies in Indiana. I dare you. That’s why there are so many trucks with the bumper stickers that say “Kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out.” - (“Nothing in Particular” 128-129) -
Desiree DeOrto a Indiana Hoosier and author of The Divinity Stone Series responded with, and I quote, “WHAT. THE. ****. O.O” she went on to say a lot more, but we agreed to be above it and so she asked me to share this:
“‘As an AUTHOR who lives in Southern Indiana, has went to college for Animation and Psychology and is raising my children here I would have to say that your representation of what the people of Indiana are is absolutely horrifying, uncouth, and immoral.’"
All I wanted to know is if anyone had heard the slang term of hillbullies. Again, don’t take my word or Leanne’s, read the Amazon sample at the bottom. This also is an example of no sense of place and poor dialogue skills.
I seriously had to shove my cover whore deep back in the closet (much like Keira the protagonist did as a child with her stereo-typical little brother and her contrived image of an abusive father). Speaking of abuse, the original synopsis mentions it but her new one does not. This is sold as a young adult read (see her genre listing from Goodreads and her own wording in the synopsis). Believe me I do not want to discount the abuse the protagonist suffers from, but it is all over the place and so violent I would feel criminal letting a child read this. There is no real consequences to the abuse which happen, it is one desperate loss after another. Even in the end (which there really is not one, but apparently this is a series read) Kiera has no real closer. I have whiplash from shaking my head so much. Child abuse happens to over 20% of the children in America, it is a serious subject matter. Believe me, for someone who is a domestic abuse victim the violence in this had me shaking and crying at times. Her use of present perfect tense did bring you into the book. This is where that half star comes from. But it does not stop (spoiler coming and possible trigger), Kiera has the nightmares come together and remembers at about 60% that her father sexually molested her at the age of five. Again whiplash and my jaw is a bit sore from hanging open so much ridiculous situations and the overall complete contrived feel of the book.
Wait, what about the self-serving comment you ask?
BIG sigh and another … “****. Me. Running.”
If you spend all your time telling a story and proving your prowess in something like.. ohhhh 80′s industrial and punk bands you totally are going to lose your audience. We are not going to even be bothered to become involved with the characters (Which though I felt for Kiera and saw a little bit of development for the most part they were very flat and two-dimensional). You are only self-serving and being overbearingly excessive…(deep sigh). The truth is you are doing it for yourself, you want everyone to see how clever and knowledgeable you are. But (shaking my fist passionately), you cannot create a fictional book on reference alone! Things maybe happening within the pages of this book but it is overwhelmingly a minority. Sure this is a shout-out to the misfits, such as I was but I wanted so bad to find something redeemable. The violence and contrived abuse situations and characters were there, (oh and yes you can experience violence and your writing can still sound contrived) but it was over the top. I know it was a message but because of this self-serving choice of stuffing the novel with all these names of bands, just as the chick-lit gals with their brand-dropping, it cost the point and message of the narrative for at least the first 30% of the book and even when it let up to be replaced by Kiera being almost killed by her father and all the other horrific things it was lost for the rest of the book. Because so much of it happened in the begining, most folks (non-masochists) probably have given up before hand.
The book is so full of pop-culture references across the span of the 80’s my head was spinning (no shape or structure and relying on clichés) and yes my coffee had been drank. I ended up spending two hours discussing the first 15% of this book with my partner, Geoff. Being a professional musician Goeff is a Jedi Music Master and I’m just a mere Padawan. However, I still know enough to become perplexed at not only the choking amount of musical references this book drowns in but the combination of it all. It is worse than reading some of the chick flick I have read which throws around Prada and Jimmy Choo till you are ready to throw up and still have no clue what you are reading, (which truthfully I felt like doing after the first 10 pages). Think of how a Prada-whore would feel if they saw you walking down the street in your worn out Levi jeans and this years latest Shiny Leather Point-Toe Pumps (which, by the way, I am drooling over)!
Can I go on? Probably but frankly I don’t want to waste anymore of my time on this.
So about that bullet? Yeah, took it, am still awake past my bed time writing this review. I want to leave you with a final thought I learned from an award winning editor. Once you think your story is perfect, walk away from it for at least a week. You can take all the beta tips you want, you can have someone who is a best-selling author help you edit, such as this author had, and take a clinic and say it is perfect. You can have the best intentions… and a week or even a decade later you will find glaring mistakes. They will leap out at you like snarling KY Hillbullies. (I finally found out what a hillbully is, apparently it is a bull terrier breed, that cute dog on Little Rascals Dog and the Target ads).