How To: Write a Review

Good Morning everyone! This is Cedar, and we’re trying something a little different this morning. See, I defy writerly stereotypes, and I am a morning person. With Kate and Sarah occupied at RavenCon, Dave on the other side of the world, and Amanda needing MOAR coffee, I’m starting the ball rolling, but then later, Amanda gets to have her say.

Yesterday in the comments under my post, lelnet (waves Hi!) made a cogent point about book recommendations. Here’s the relevant part: “4. (From Amazon’s database magic) “These books here were enjoyed by many of the people who also bought those books you already bought”
5. [Same as #2, but from reviewers I trust to be good judges of quality, but not necessarily to have tastes compatible with mine…a set that includes every human being I call a friend except for those 3 in the #2 group, plus everyone in the post rotation here at MGC and a significant fraction of the regular commenters at ATH.]
6. Reviews from people I don’t know either personally or at least through having spent a year or more reading their contributions to the blogosphere.”

And somewhere else, but I’m not finding it quickly, it was pointed out that recommending mediocre books, or bad ones, would make people stop trusting you and tune you out.

So… I’m an author, and obviously, reviews of my own books make me shake in my boots. Enough so that I have asked my First Reader to look at them for me first, and I don’t get to see the really negative ones. But I am also a reviewer and a reader, so I (rarely) write negative reviews. I hate to, and have only ever written two that were all negative, and both of them stressed me.

Most people, I think, would prefer not to write a negative review, and I don’t blame them at all. But finding a balance between honesty and not being unkind is necessary, especially if you know the author.

I’ve also been told, by a fan, that they weren’t going to review my book, even though they loved it, because they didn’t know how to write a review. Which made me sad, because I love rave reviews of my work. They are the best kind of compliments, and as I have compared elsewhere, a fine way for a reader to ‘tip the author’.

When writing a review, you don’t need to go full book critic and summarize the plot with fine litr’ry comparisons to.. whatever. Writing down how the book made you feel, with perhaps some explanation (this book made me happy because I love a good hero to root for…), a comparison to another work if you like (best mil-SF space opera to come along since On Basilisk Station, harks back to early David Weber…) and if you must, a little critique (Could have been fleshed out more, particularly in the action scenes). I belong to a henna artists group that does something that makes me happy – when you put up a picture, they do what they call a ‘sandwich’ which is to say something good, constructive criticism, and then something good again. If you are fully negative, the author/artist is curled up sobbing in the fetal position, and not contemplating your point saying ‘hmm, you could be right.’

Also, my new pet peeve… if you are critiquing an Indie author, don’t take them to task on abstruse grammar points in your review. In fact, unless there’s a typo every page, don’t even mention them. I’ve read some great stories by indies whose copy-editing could have been better. But mentioning it in the review doesn’t help them find an audience. If you must, send them a private (POLITE) message of some kind. Personally, I hire professionals for all my long-form work, so pointing out any perceived editing flaws just makes me raise an eyebrow and wonder if I paid too much and need to find a new editor. Harping on editing just makes you look petty as a reviewer.

If you hit the cogent points, and readers find that you are consistent, and consitently liking things they like, then you will be able to establish that trust lelnet was talking about. I know that for most readers, this isn’t an incentive. Why should you review? Is it for other readers, or for the author themselves?

And now, over to Amanda…

Hey, guys, Amanda here. Now that I’ve had coffee (and, Cedar, there is NEVER enough coffee), I’ll add my two cents to the discussion. Reviews can be both the life’s blood for a writer and the bane of their existence. Good reviews help convince readers to give our work a try. Bad reviews, whether they are valid or not, can drive sales away. Then there are the reviews when you just have to wonder if the so-called reviewer read the same book you read or wrote.

I like Cedar’s “sandwich” analogy and it is something I try to do in my reviews, especially those I do for Amazon. If I’m taking the time to post an Amazon review, it is usually because I want to help spur the author’s sales. That isn’t the place for a full critique of the book. For one thing, most people scan the Amazon reviews. They don’t read them all and they sure don’t read the long ones.

That said, I have given one-star reviews for books so badly written as to be unreadable. I’m not talking about having a few typos or formatting issues. When those reach the level of being bad enough to throw me out of the narrative, I let Amazon know and Amazon will, if it receives enough complaints, will let the author know. No, I’m talking about barely disguised, or no attempt to disguise, someone else’s work as a writer’s own. That is an instant one star review and a report to Amazon or wherever I’ve downloaded the title from.

My habit as a consumer is to look at how many reviews something has and the breakdown of ratings. If there are several dozen (or more) five star reviews and basically no negative reviews, my BS meter starts going off. Sure, a book can be that good. But usually, there will be someone who will at least give a three star review. Even though Amazon and others have tried to tighten up against sock puppet reviews, they still happen. So, as much as I hate getting mediocre to bad reviews for my work, I know it happens.

I want to add a couple of things to Cedar’s list of what not to do in your Amazon review. Don’t review the price vs the length of the work. I’m sorry but doing that just makes you look bad. Amazon and sites like it tell you how big the download file is. Often the product description will not only give you the size of the file but the estimated page length. Check it before hitting that buy button.

Also, and this is a big hot button for me, don’t start a review with “I haven’t read this book yet but I’m giving it a one star review because. . . “ Yes, I’ve been tempted to do that before. But that isn’t a review. It’s a statement about the author’s political/social/religious/whatever beliefs.

Finally, as an author, don’t respond to negative reviews. Please, I know how precious your baby is and how tempting it is to jump in and try to defend it. But don’t. Just don’t. You will never win. Just chalk it up to someone who doesn’t like you for whatever reason and move on to your next work.

Tossing it back to Cedar or anyone else now. We’ll continue the dialog in the comments section.

71 thoughts on “How To: Write a Review

  1. I don’t write near as many reviews as I probably should, so I tend to only write reviews if the book really stood out to me for some reason (usually positive). I don’t pay a lot of attention to typos (unless there are an extreme amount of glaring ones) and usually dismiss the whole review when someone starts going on about them. For one thing, I have noticed as many typos in traditional published books the last few years as in your run of the mill indie published works, and many more than in the better edited indie books. So I see it as the reviewer looking for something to be negative about. The peeve that has been irritating me, is the current trend of so many authors to end their books on cliffhangers. I know it is a marketing ploy, but it irritates me enough that unless the author is something special I am liable to not buy any more of their books. Leaving loose threads to continue on to the next book in the series is fine, but walking the reader out on a rope bridge and picking up a machete, then writing The End, might cause me to buy the next book in the series, but it is even more likely to cause me to never buy a book in any other series, or any standalone that I think might be the beginning of a series from the author.

    1. I can see why a cliffhanger is something an author would do (I know it is something I will try to never do!) but they had darn sure better deliver with the next book, and that had better happen soon, not 3-4 years from now, or that will be the end of my trust.

      1. Oh yes. I’ve held off on a book for three years now, waiting for the sequel, because of the cliff-hangar ending (I’d been warned by a friend).

  2. I won’t give a negative review. If I know the writer, then it is a comment to the writer in person. One reason being- I’m a lone wolf writer. I do it all so to speak. Someone else is doing the cover for one of my books now, so I’m fudging. However, since I have to judge myself critically, plot-story line- grammar including spelling I find myself catching every little typo and, then vs than, stuff on not just myself but whoever I read. The average reader is not going to catch that and I don’t want to be the person who points it out to them.

    1. I’ve been tempted to give a negative review but I’ve never done it. No, not true, I did on my blog once and that was more like, “Sabrina Jeffries, why????” (because I generally really like her romances,) but never on Amazon. (Oh, second thought, I did fiercely criticize another author’s books on my blog, but I won’t say who it was because it was more of a “yes, she permanently went off the deep end” instead of temporary disappointment or a particular pet peeve stepped on…)

      But I don’t LIKE to do negative reviews and it is most certainly because I’d like to be on the receiving end some day and I always imagine myself the author having to read someone getting all self-important and snarky and mean.

      Also, very good point about what an average reader will “catch” and what they won’t. I think that a good review helps people to match what they like or won’t like without -splaining that the people who might like it are wrong.

    1. ” Another reviewer of my first book was outraged at my description of a fork penetrating the hand of one character. He found it completely unbelievable.”

      Since I recall when I was younger, my mom sticking a fork in my uncle’s arm hard enough that it remained sticking upright on its own (he was attempting to grab her piece of pie, and had been warned, never get between a woman and sugar 😉 ) I find the fact he doesn’t believe it, completely unbelievable.

    2. LOL. Been there and done that, Peter. The first book I published had one review complaining because it was too explicit (too much sex and cussing). Another complained because it wasn’t explicit enough. With both of them, and especially the first, I had to wonder if the reviewers had read the same book I wrote.

      1. There was sex in the first book? I thought it was the second one. Am I wrong or was the reviewer reviewing the wrong book? I’ve seen that where a person posts a review and if you have already read the book you realize the characters (or possibly even the book title) mentioned in the review are from a different book, not the one they posted it under.

        1. One idiot “reviewed” a Tom Kratman book but his review mentioned bits that didn’t apply to the book he reviewed but to another Kratman book.

          IIRC after somebody commented about the mistake in the review, the review got taken down (either by Amazon or by the idiot).

        2. Bearcat, the very first book — written under the pen name Ellie Ferguson — Wedding Bell Blues. Romantic Suspense with some sex but not much and definitely not erotica.

  3. “Also, and this is a big hot button for me, don’t start a review with “I haven’t read this book yet but I’m giving it a one star review because. . . “

    Not a lot can beat the negative reviews that Ann Coulter was getting on a book that not only wasn’t out yet*, but that she HADN’T FINISHED WRITING yet.

    *I believe Amazon has since changed it so you can no longer review books that are only available for pre-order.

    1. I know. And I know a lot of folks from both sides of the political spectrum tend to give reviews based on the author’s politics etc., and not on the book. That is something I have a problem with, especially if the reviewer hasn’t even bothered to try to read the book in question.

    2. There’s a whole cadre of “Reviewers” out there that specifically target conservative books for 1-star reviews. They can often be enticed to argue in their reviews, and eventually they will admit that they would NEVER read something like the book they reviewed, at which point I impugn their honor and honesty and say that nobody should believe anything they said.

      I swear I’ve seen at least one delete and re-post his review to shed all the comments on it.

      1. I wouldn’t consider Ann Coulter conservative, but those on the left do, and since they would be the ones giving her 1-stars, yep.

          1. Moderate, leaning slightly conservative. She is a big fan of both McConnell and Christy for goodness sake.

  4. As Bearcat, I probably don’t write as many reviews as I should, though I have posted a few. Thank you, BTW, for the “sandwich format” for reviews; I’ll keep it in mind.

    Confession time: I tend to get tripped by typos, mis-used words (lie/lay, for example), hard-to-follow dialog (who is saying what to whom? After four unattributed statements on each side, it’s impossible for me to tell.), and errors of fact (constellations are not physical entities).The bad part, I suppose, is that I tend to point these things out. I’ll try to be more considerate in future, but the ol’ newspaper proof reader tens to come to the fore quite strongly, so no promises.(Yes, I make typographical errors, too.)

    Allow me, however, to make the claim that I have never tried to review a book I hadn’t read. I won’t even post a one-star on those I have hurled against the wall.

    Ben Hartley
    (I write it, I sign it)

    1. Ben, I get tripped up by them too. But I think what Cedar was referring to is how there are some reviewers go out of their way to diss indie and small press published authors for spelling and grammar errors and never say a word about them in traditionally published works. I assume part of that is the bias that traditionally published works are all edited and, therefore, won’t have such problems whereas indie and small press published works aren’t edited so they will be laden with them. Since the basic premise of the assumption about trad published works is wrong, well, that makes it all the more difficult to swallow those sorts of reviews.

      That doesn’t mean I won’t let the author know in a gently worded email if I see a recurrent problem or I won’t report a formatting issue to Amazon. I just won’t usually include it in the review unless the issue is so bad as to make the book unreadable. I will go back and update the review if a new file is uploaded.

      1. Yes, this is what I was referring to, a bias toward coming down on Indie authors like a load of bricks. Now, I will be the first to urge anyone considering publishing on their own to make sure they put out the very best product. But dinking them in a review for grammar (unless it is very bad indeed) and typos is ridiculous. Even worse is grumbling that they need an editor because the pacing wasn’t to your taste. No, that’s not editing, that’s the book didn’t suit you. Geesh.

        1. And those that dink them for grammar, in dialogue, need drug through a prickly pear patch… nekkid.

          1. Absolutely. I’ll expand that as well to the non-dialog parts of the book if it is written first person. Not that I want it to all be in dialect or bad grammar, etc., but there needs to be some to keep the voice right.

  5. I generally review nonfiction in formats with a hard 250 word cap. So you start with the author’s argument [basic plot], touch on supporting evidence [characters and a major scene or two], what works or doesn’t [ditto], and how it fits in the literature [what other books it resembles or contrasts with]. If there are massive problems, then touch on those, but try and point out what went well, also (say, omitted a well-known and important person or event, but excellent writing style). The same format tends to function for fiction, with a few tweaks.

    I have yet to give a one star, but I would for 1) plagiarism, 2) blatant false advertising [call it sci-fi and it’s historical erotica], 3) so many technical flaws that it’s obvious the person didn’t give a rat’s rump about double checking what they formatted and uploaded. And by that I mean unreadable, not just some typos and one or two formatting bugs.

    1. I find my blog reviews are short – generally about 350 words – and if I take them longer, it’s because I found a rabbit trail to go down! But on Amazon or goodreads I will only use the shorter, more pertinent sections of that review.

  6. One minor thing in addition:
    If there’s an important detail that the author deliberately withholds for over 2/3s of the book, then that detail does not belong in your review.
    Especially if your review is only a paragraph long.

    1. I’d agree with that, with the caveat that it may not apply when the book has a ‘Jar of Tang’ ending. If a story exists only so the writer can pull off a bonehead ‘surprise’ ending by withholding crucial information from the reader, well, I consider it fair game to let the reading public know – spoilers be damned.

      1. Tom, I agree up to a point. I usually won’t point out what the ending is but I will note that the author pulled off either a really extreme case of Mary Sue or did the old cliche of introducing the villain as a character two pages from the end. That’s fair game, imo.

    2. I agree. Or, if you feel you have to note the point, add a snerkers/spoiler disclaimer. Then it becomes read at your own risk.

    1. Cedar took that picture when she was down here for Sarah’s three day writing seminar. The photo includes Taylor Lunsford, Sarah, James Snover, Pam Uphoff and myself. And yes, Cedar dies because I don’t like pictures with me in them 😉

    2. HEHEHE! I’m sooo in trouble… Amanda’s on the far right, Sarah is second from the left. It was breakfast time. What I said about morning person? I think I’m the only one in the group inclined in that fashion!

      1. And the colors are off. Amanda’s shirt was definitely Aggie Maroon, and mine was just a bit different shade of maroon. Not that I don’t like purple, mind you.

  7. There’s actually the kind of negative review I like, where the person reviewing it says they don’t like certain things that are actually the selling point of the book. Gotta love the guy who says “Great action, but there’s too much sex in it,” which brings in all the folks who want sex in their stories….

    1. Yeah, I would take that! Sometimes negative reviews are the opposite of what the reviewer intended, like the one (probably apocryphal) complaining the book was too much like Heinlein. I’d take that one, too…

      1. Not apocryphal: happened recently in a review of Chuck Gannon’s Fire With Fire. While I wouldn’t kill for that kind of negative review, I might lightly maim for one. . .

    2. Or the one I read that complained about a mil-SF book being all fighting and “army stuff”. Yep, they actually stated that “war never solved anything” in their review. There was too much action, without enough character introspection.

      1. “He warred with the racists, but reflected the internal struggle of his own biases.”

        Yeah, that would be a craptastic story that would win me a Hugo.

  8. When I write a review, I’ll say why I did/didn’t like the book. There are some movie reviewers that if they _hate_ the movie, I know that I’ll like it. There are some who like genre that I really dislike (Horror). I’ll try to explain the why’s, and maybe give an example. Being as I’m about to become a first time author, I’m cautious about other “first timers.” My problem is if the characters “ring false,” to me. It’s as if the writer didn’t do, or totally misunderstood any research that was done/not done.
    Back in my early days at a Con, there was a panel on writing. A point that I made, was that too often, writer(s)/directors/etc. make up/pass on totally false info, Whether it’s ignorance, stupidity, or just plain laziness, I don’t know. I stopped watching Helix, because of *4* major flaws, in the first 40 minutes. Flaws that “advanced the plot,” but only the terminally ignorant can miss them.
    All of this brings me to a question. I read a book by a “first time author” that I had real hopes for. The basics were very good, but a character was totally unbelievable, or badly explained. As unbelievable to me, as a Lesbian turning Hetero nymphomaniac.I _will not_ name the author, or book, until I personally talk to them. Most people _probably_ won’t have that disconnect, and I don’t want to crush someone. The problem is that I’ve noticed that a lot of authors simply get religion wrong. Some because they don’t understand it (apparently), others because they want to laugh at it(?).
    So, my question is this. Should I write a column called “Atheists shouldn’t write religious characters?” One thing making me want to do it, is that I’ve seen two authors do a *fantastic* job of writing religious characters. Making it clear that either they really understand religious creatures and people, or they did really good research. I’m not doing it to push me, but to get people to better research. There are Baptist/Lutheran/Roman Catholic/Whatever Orthodox/Jewish/Sikh/Islamic temples everywhere. Nearly all have someone willing to offer advice on character actions.

    1. Sounds like an interesting idea for an article. Unfortunately, I suspect that the people who really need to read it will not “buy what you have to say”. [Frown]

      Case in point, on another site there was a discussion about “practical skills” for colonization. One individual make a comment about the New England colonies being founded by “religious fanatics” and “of course” they lacked “practical skills”. [Frown]

  9. Unless a book is so far, far down Execrable Lane that the kindest thing I can do for the author and any possible readers is to give it an honest review (a serious pan) closing with, “And please, for the love of all that is holy, do not write another word. Ever,” I prefer to skip leaving seriously negative reviews. When I do leave a negative (on balance) review, I try manfully (sometimes with great pain and superhuman effort, sometimes with great hope–and desire!–for a better job next time) to give some balance with praise of the good things the author brought to my time reading the work.

    Ordinarily, though, I much prefer to review only those books I think the writer has done at least a workmanlike job with and that proofreaders and editors have given evidence of at least basic literacy in proofing and editing. More often, I prefer to review books that well deserve 4 and 5 star ratings.

    That means that, out of the seven or eight books I read each week (one or two will be non-fiction), I submit about about one or two book reviews a month on Amazon. MAYBE once or twice a year I’ll pan a book that should NEVER have seen the light of day, but the other 18 or more reviews I’ll submit will embody reading recommendations (along with a few encouraging–I hope–words to authors, from time to time, about problems they could correct in future work). Yeh, picky and opinionated, but it’s MY money writers want, and good value in return is not too much to ask, now is it? Common example from poorly written books: writers who expect to get paid for their work had DAMNED well better learn to use a dictionary. . . *grumble, grumble gripe, complain. . . * 😉

    My preferred format: praise for specific aspects of the work X2 or 4, then criticism of issues to be addressed in future work, if any are serious enough to comment on, closed by more praise of specifics. I enjoy reviews like that, mainly because it means I was very sorry to see the end of the book in review. Often, I’ll pick one of these books up immediately after writing a review and re-read it. Sad that there are so few in proportion to the drek and that (for good reason) authors of well-written books cannot write quickly enough to satisfy me. 🙂

    1. (Replying to myself. . . ‘s’all right. Not really talking to myself. It’s just that one of the other voices in my head wants its say, too.)

      I’ve noticed a consistent warning sign in “Indie” authors’ preface comments. If the writer praises “beta readers” or a “professional editor” then almost invariably the book will be littered with grammar/spelling/word misusage (yes, I do mean that in the sense of “unjust treatment”–serious abuse of the English language!) errors and plot/characterization/descriptive narrative problems that any literate proofreader or editor would have fixed. Not just called to the writer’s attention, no: problems so egregious any literate proofer or editor would simply have FIXED them, since the writer very obviously would not understand the problems to begin with. *sigh* Bad sign. Really. An almost perfect predictor of bad writing. Just sayin’. (Worst one was some poor guy who thanked his “professional editor” for making such a huge difference in the FOURTH EDITION of a monumentally badly-written thing. Words fail me. I could not even pen a “Run away! Run away!” review of that book. *sigh*)

        1. No, Cedar, I’ve not read anything by you, yet. Thanks for asking. Just looked you up at Amazon. Would “Vulcan’s Kittens” be a good place to start? (It came up first in the Amazon search.) Looks like it _might_ be classified “YA”. Notaproblem. My wife’s a K-8 librarian and I do read some YA to review strictly for her, though not as a steady diet. (It gives her a break to read other lit.)

          Good YA, I enjoy, since the criteria for a good story is the same no matter what the target readership. Ah, rather than wait for your answer to my question, I think I’ll just buy it and read it anyway. Mmmmk?


          1. It is a YA novel, and yes, I paid an editor to go over it, so if that’s your do-not-buy button, consider it pressed. No need to buy before you try – use the preview link on Amazon to see if it’s any good before you part with your money.

      1. I have to disagree with you on a couple of levels. The first is that thanking editors and beta readers is not an indie-only characteristics. I’ve seen any number of traditionally published authors do so. I also know traditionally published authors who hire editors before they send their novels to their house editors because they know their work won’t be edited. It’s a fallacy right now to think that editing at most major houses is what it used to be. Too many editors have been let go and too many interns are being used to do the job the professional editors used to do.

        While I’m not trying to discount your experiences but rather I am saying you are over-simplifying it.

        1. Indeed, ” thanking editors and beta readers is not an indie-only characteristic,” and the trend for lower quality proofreading/editing has hit a lot of trad-pub houses as well. My comment was, I think, pointed, but perhaps clarification is in order. In an overwhelming number of cases, Indie or self-pub authors who have thanked their proofreaders/editors in preface material have simply been kind enough to warn me of the problems ahead. Are there exceptions? Yes! Of course there are! But the exceptions merely prove the rule (and yes, I used that correctly).

          BTW, Amanda, even your casual, not-for-pay writing I have read here and occasionally over at Sarah Hoyt’s place is of consistently better quality (I’d say for casual writing very, very good quality; certainly it’s better than MY casual writing) than the “writers” I refer to in the comment above. There certainly are many good “Indie” authors, but the percentage of good-to-drek in what is actually _published_ as “Indie” work is probably very close to the ratio usually found in old-style slush piles in fairly good publishing houses of yore. JMO based on a linited data set. (I’ve obviously not read EVERY “Indie” book ever published.) I have finally–after well over a half a century of prolific reading–started NOT finishing books I have started. (Still finish more than one a day, between this, that, and ‘tother in TRW, but maybe that’s just still too much reading.)

          Oh, throwing another thing out that maybe someone will find offensive enough to make a false accusation of trolling about: I’ve begun rejecting even trying to read books based on Amazon 4/5-star reviews written by subliterates. If it appeals to someone who can’t write a simple declarative sentence, then it’s probably not for me. There are other metrics, but that one stands out. I’d rather read a 2-3 star book half-panned by someone literate enough to note its deficiencies but still ALSO note whatever worth it may have. *shrugs* YMMV, of course, and rightly so, but that’s what makes horse races.

          1. You were trolling. Just not toxic trolling. My apologies for being snappy, but I was tired, in the middle of pouring myself into a publishing project, and didn’t appreciate the poking at a part of my process I ‘don’t’ have control over. See, when you hire someone, you take it on faith they know what they are doing. By the time we get to that stage, as an author, we’ve looked at the manuscript for so long our brain is playing tricks, filling in words that aren’t there, and making mental shortcuts read like they are perfectly reasonable. So an outside set of eyes is vital.

            PS: there is no correcting typos in wordpress, I’m afraid!

            1. Some see trolling where only honesty exists. Eisegesis is in the eyes of the beholder, Cedar. *shrugs* Doesn’t bother me; not my problem.

              BTW, I decided to start “Vulcan’s Kittens” a wee bit ago (had errands, a lawn to mow and two other books to finish first). It’s going well as far as 1/3 of the way through. Kudos! Early on, it was especially refreshing to see a rare instance of “misnomer” used correctly. *heh* So very rare nowadays. . . so refreshing.

            2. BTW, Cedar, on my own lil WordPress blog, I do correct typos in comments for folks who ask. Admin privileges are good for something, after all. But then, it’s no problem when one of my two semi-regular, occasional commenters asks. *heh* (Yeh, it’s just a place for the Voices in My Head to have a platform. It keeps them more or less in line. Nothing to see there. Just move along. *heh*)

              Still, I recognize that correcting my MobileIrritationTypos isn’t your responsibility. I can live with that. Feel free to return a hearty, “Not my problem.” Fair enough. 🙂

                1. Exactly. As I said, I only do it when asked, and with the very, very small traffic my lil “just for my personal sanity” blog has, it’s no burden. Here? It’d be venturing into “Lovecraft starves to death” territory.

                  BTW, after my “gardening chores” I picked “Vulcan’s Kittens” back up. Just ook another break to start cooking dinner and will finish it after the meal, but I have to say it is going on my “Highly Recommended” list for my wife to acquire for her libraries. Heck, the “survival skills” vignettes alone will sell this book as “real” to kids here in America’s Third World County™ (many of whom–even older grade school kids–take off every year during deer season to hunt with Dad. . . or Mom). The characters all seem more genuine than other (sort of) similar YA books. Riordan’s popular YA novels–also reviewed for my wife, for more reasons than just quality of writing/story/etc.–defenses against some land mines re: some parents/pubschool politics MUST be prepared for in advance. . . *sigh* Anywho, picking up lost train of thought, his characters never seemed as genuine as the characters in this book do to me.

                  Thanks for spurring me to read one of your books. This has been a pleasure! (Yeh, yeh, but now I HAVE to take keyboard in hand and click out a review, don’t I? *heh*)

                  Oh, yes, there have been some issues I’d have addressed in the text, but 1.) none of them have really _detracted_ from the charm of the book and 2.) it’s not you; it’s me. I don’t like where contemporary style has become accepting of some things in fiction, but again, it’s not you; it’s me. Absolutely no flaws worth mentioning in a review or detracting points/stars for. It’s turned out to be one of those books I will enjoy rating. Again, TYVM.

                  1. You are most welcome, and I appreciate you giving it a chance. I grew up with a wonderful privilege: I had parents who let me take dog, horse, and go… if I was going to spend the night out, I had to let them know (and usually camping was a family activity) but now, I look back and am eternally grateful.

                    1. “I had parents who let me take dog, horse, and go… ” Not quite for me (too many chores, etc.–and yes, small livestock was part of it; Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail were DELICIOUS), but different generation and MUCH more freedom than is common today. More during summers with grandparents (the opening grabbed me for that alone *heh*), LOADS camping with paternal grandfather. Yeh, I could tell that a lot of the outdoor scenes were absolutely authentic.

                      I think my review’s up. It’s another rare one where I don’t even mention the typos, missing verbs, etc., because the important elements of the story were strong enough to ignore that stuff.

                      Ya done good. (For whatever worth that has for you.) Now, get back to work. Write some more so I can give you more of my money, mmmK? *heh*

                    2. For what it is worth, Trickster Noir is up in the Nook Store. [Very Big Grin]

                    3. Oh, great. *sigh* Picked up Pixie Noir and The Eternity Symbiote, and now there’s another one to force me to raid my piggy bank? Oh, all right, then. . . *grumble, grumble, gripe, complain* 😉 But they’ll have to go to the back of the queue this time. (Already started a couple of other books, and I no longer handle reading more than 2 or 3 at once very well).

                      Thanks for taking my money. *sigh*

                      (Yeh, we readers suffer for art’s sake, too. Sorta. 🙂 But it hurts soooooo good. . . )

                    4. And unfortunately the title page in the Kindle edition is screwed up, anyways I don’t think you mean it to read “Trickste” on one page and then “r Noir” on the next.

                    5. Not sure if you figured it out or not, I have the Amazon edition I bought last night. It didn’t bother me, I don’t even usually look at the Title Page, except that is the first page that pops up when I opened the book. Just figured it was something you would want to fix.

                      If I ever have a daughter I am thinking of naming her Belladona, maybe it will help warn the young whippersnappers off. 😉

  10. I’ve left a few 5-star reviews in my life, much fewer 4-star ones, and a handful of 1-star reviews (each time wishing, either out loud or not, that the system allowed 0-stars as an option…indeed, if I don’t hate something enough to wish I could give it _negative_ stars, I’ll keep my bad review to myself). For me, a 1-star review goes to the literary equivalent of a widely-praised and popular restaurant that gave me food poisoning. (Also, on yelp, to an actual widely-praised and popular local restaurant that actually did give me food poisoning…but we’re talking about books here.)

    It should be noted that the first one-star review I ever gave to a book was to one whose author is not only more or less aligned with myself politically, but is a moderately-famous blogger, whose beliefs needed (and still do) far more representation than they have, and whose (free for the taking) contribution to the world’s supply of useful non-fiction is prodigious, ongoing, and much appreciated by a large population of readers which includes myself. But he’s a _horrible_ novelist, and _somebody_ needed to step up, back away from the range war among the political factions in the Amazon review database, and point out that even if you think the emperor’s a nice guy and that recent his tax policy reforms have been of immense benefit to the middle class, he’s _still buck naked_.

    But honestly, I only write a review (whether good or bad) when I think there’s something I have to say that isn’t already being said by somebody else. (Including the example above, where it came down to “awesome guy…too bad everything _good_ he writes is free, and everything he charges for is bloody awful”.)

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