My first review for Legendary Magic (Relic Hunter Book 3)

LM Image 2E with TextI just got my first review for Legendary Magic and I couldn’t be happier! It made my day! Here it is:

“I have been reading this author since 2012. I absolutely love her books. I feel as though I’ve been brought into the world she is writing about. This most recent book was fantastic. I highly recommend this book for sitting next to the fire drinking a glass of Irish Mist!” written by Taraharp on Amazon.com.

Come on, it’s snowing – don’t you want to sit by the fire with a glass of Irish Mist and escape on a magical adventure? I know you do…

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We used to call them chapters

I have just finished reading YET ANOTHER book without an ending. In order to find out what happens, I have to buy book 2 in the series – and I strongly suspect that will end in a “cliff-hanger” that will be the beginning of book 3. This is the fourth book I have read that really is just the beginning of the next book.

I think these used to be called chapters or even Part II. Now, it seems like more and more people are publishing “books” that are really more “introductions” or “prequels” or “serials”. As an author of a “prequel”, I would like to proclaim loudly that all of my books begin and end. I do not write a “cliff-hanger” ending so the reader is forced to buy the next book just to find out what happened.

In all honesty, of the four “books” (I’m using the term loosely) I read there wasn’t one of them that was good enough for me to care what happens next. I’ll just have to live with unanswered questions because getting to the last page and finding out there isn’t a real ending makes me throw up my hands in disgust and vow to never buy another book by that author. The author has lost my trust and wasted my time – that is not a relationship I want to continue.

There’s a difference between a “series” and “serial fiction” which I interpret to be a marketing ploy. I read series – I’ve even written one – but a marketing ploy to try to get me to buy the next book – not so charming.

The books in my series start and end. The next book might use some of the same characters, but there is a different plot and if you need to know something without reading the first book, I explain what you need to know – I’m not spoiling the plot if you read out of sequence and I’m not making it necessary for you to read all of them. They stand alone. I want you to trust me to take you on a journey and not leave you stranded in the middle of the desert, or ocean, or mountains.

I will post reviews for the “serial fiction” books on Amazon, but I’m not giving them page time on my blog. In the future, I hope other reviewers will post comments that reflect the truth of some of these books – there’s no ending; if you read book one the author leaves you hanging in the hopes of making you buy book two, etc.

What the authors of these works don’t consider is the reader. Someone reads your work in the hope of being taken someplace special and brought home safely feeling like they have been enriched by the time spent with your story. To drop the reader off at the side of the road and wave cheerily as you speed away toward a new destination doesn’t build trust, loyalty or a reader base.

Self Published Blunders

I try to review self-published books on this blog, but in all honesty for every one that I’ve been impressed with, there have been three that have annoyed me so much that I put them in a special folder on my Kindle titled “GAVE UP”.

These books have something in common with each other, and there are a few major errors I want to point out to self published authors. We can’t run with the big dogs if we’re rushing to publish – bringing a traditionally published book to market takes many months at least – years at most. There are edits and beta reads and publicity campaigns. While I admittedly suck at the publicity thing, I do pay attention to editing and I have my books read by many readers before I publish. Here’s how I can tell instantly that a fellow indie has rushed to publishing:

1.) The first chapter is tight, but the subsequent ones shoot off on wild tangents or have random thoughts inserted at odd places. This is a case of too much editing in some spots, and not enough in others. I read 3/4 of a book that I thought was decent and then found a rambling twelve page scene that was inserted to “tie up loose ends”. It was so out of sync with the rest of the book that I read the first line of every paragraph to try to get through it – even that was more trouble than it was worth. The book was excellent – until the tangents started. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought so – Amazon sent me an email that the book had been revised significantly due to editing issues.

2.) Different fonts, line spacing, and margins appear throughout the book. Seriously? Amazon has a preview file that needs to be meticulously checked to avoid this. I hate bad formatting. It’s the easiest thing to fix and it just looks lazy if you don’t do it.

3.) A cast of thousands. It’s distracting when I have to try to remember who everyone is, what their back story is, and how they relate. I shouldn’t need to keep notes to follow the plot.

4.) Plot, sub-plot, sub-sub-plot, under-sub-plot. Again, the reader shouldn’t have to work that hard.

5.) The vast wasteland of extra information. This is the one that really separates traditionally published books from indie books for me. The story’s going along great and suddenly it comes to a grinding halt while everything is explained and the characters get ready for the big finish. I think of it as D-Flailing. The appetizer (point A) is well thought out and makes you want to read the story. Points B-C (B)build some tension and (C)characters. D-Flailing grinds the story to a halt while the author (E) explains everything you need to know but he/she couldn’t fit (F1) into A-C and then you’re off again with a great build up for the (F) finale.

There are other things that I find distracting, but they’re not usually serious enough for me to give up. Numbers 1 and 5 are similar but they occur in different parts of the book and I think they serve two very different purposes. An author who has too much going on in the book takes wild tangents throughout the manuscript. An author who can’t figure out how to connect the tight beginning to the fantastic ending suffers from problem 5.

Over the next few weeks I’ll post pointers about how to fix these problems. Along with a review of a book that I’m currently reading – as long as the book doesn’t flail too much.

Review of The City of Refuge by Diana M. Wilder

I have long had a fascination with Ancient Egypt and have read not only scholarly material, but many historical fiction novels about that time.  The City of Refuge is a well written tale of what might have been, filled with character that could have existed, and set in a city that has long fascinated archaeologists and others because of the odd, murky, and mysterious reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten and his abandoned city.  The names of the characters can be a bit confusing in the beginning, possibly because my Western eyes are simply not accustomed to them, but maybe it is because in the very beginning you are given very little to identify the names with characters…either way, it passes after the first few chapters and you are familiar enough with the characters to easily follow the story.

There’s a ring of authenticity to the characters and dialogue in the story, and that lends credibility it.  Because there are not distracting inaccuracies you can get absorbed from the very beginning and stay with it.  There really aren’t any slow spots in this book and although I spent most of the book thinking “oh, I know exactly where you’re going with this” there were still a few surprises in store when the author laid the entire sub-plot bare in a well crafted speech.  (I hope that’s not a spoiler – but I’d want to know if the ends were tied up in nice little bows, and they were!)

I read the author’s note and thought Ms. Wilder covered her story perspective brilliantly and it was satisfying when it could have been frustrating (you’ll have to read it for yourself to find out…I thought it was great!), and it showed how well crafted the story was.  Ms. Wilder managed to display her knowledge throughout the story in a manner few indie authors of her genre can – the novel is neither trite nor overly contrived and I found it thoroughly enjoyable.

Review of Bridesmaid Lotto (McMaster the Disaster) by Rachel Astor


I was looking for a little light reading and stumbled across this little gem on Amazon.com.  The premise sounded good so I bought it figuring for a rainy day read it would be a few fun hours.  I loved this book and didn’t put it down unless I absolutely had to.  Josie McMaster is a wonderfully written character who manages to give the reader “yeah, been there; done that” cringe-worthy moments and then she carries on with such style, grace, and humor that you can’t help but fall in love with her.  The supporting cast is equally great and the plot is fun, light, and every girl’s fantasy (big society wedding, rich & famous moments, etc.).  It is well written and humorous and you’ll flip pages (or press the button  on your e-reader quickly) just to find out what happens next.  It’s not a book full of existential dilemmas and it won’t leave you soul-searching, but at the end you’ll hope that when confronted with a crisis you will handle it with the same down-to-earth perseverance that Josie would.  I would recommend this be read in your favorite fuzzy pajamas with a cup of hot cocoa on a rainy day – it would be a day well spent.

Review of Dangerous Talents by Frankie Robertson


As I’ve posted before, I’ve been reading a lot of Indie fiction – yet maybe you’ve been wondering why there aren’t many reviews posted on my site…well, I’m not recommending anything that I’m not absolutely in love with – and I love, love, love Frankie Robertson’s book Dangerous Talents.   The story unfolds quickly with an incident that changes Celia’s (our heroine’s) life.  From the get-go, the story unwinds with believable, interesting characters that you will both recognize and find strangely unfamiliar.  Woven throughout this tale is Norse Mythology and Legend (I’m not telling you how, you’ll have to read it to find out) and it’s masterfully done with well written dialogue and artfully crafted scenes that let you glimpse the inner lives of the characters.  The motives are clear, the scenes fluid, and all of the loose ends are neatly tied up in nice little packages with pretty ribbons that leave you completely satisfied and gratified.  I highly recommend this book for a wide variety of reasons – memorable characters, a strong plot, nice blend of myths/legends and contemporary characters and (naturally) a liberal dose of magic and a villain that keeps you on the edge.   LOVED it – and will definitely read the next book Forbidden Talents – as soon as I read the other books that are on my kindle!

Moon Dance by J.R. Rain

I just finished this book and had to post a quick review on it.  A blend of supernatural mystery and humor makes this a great read.  Samantha Moon is smart, funny, and independent – with a bit of justifiable anger mixed in.  I liked her spirit and the fact that on more than one occasion she made me cringe.  I cringed because I knew what she was going to do and as bad as I thought the outcome might be I really wanted her to do it anyway – those situations made me root for her!  The supporting cast of this book is filled with likeable characters who provide another layer of mystery to an already well-crafted tale.  I really liked this book and look forward to reading the others in the series.

Bad Metal 01: Wrecked by Robert Black

Robert Black

http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Metal-01-Wrecked-ebook/dp/B007GEYHKW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336195475&sr=8-1

This is one of the first indie books I’ve read, and I was pleasantly surprised by it.  I admit, I picked it up because I ran across a post by the author requesting feedback and I thought “what the heck, I’ll give it a read – if I don’t like it, I won’t finish it and nobody will ever know.”  Well, I liked it – I read it in a day (it’s really more of a novella than a novel) and although I don’t usually jump into science fiction, I really enjoyed this story.

The characters are well-developed and the author does a good job of “showing, not telling”.  The scenes are quick-paced and the plot is clean without a lot of back story or side issues which helps the story to move right along.

I’m not really into robots, but this was well done and character driven with a plausible story line that didn’t frustrate me with improbability or lengthy explanations (okay, there was one that I could have done without, but it didn’t take me out of the story enough to really even notice it beyond the first two sentences).

If you like science fiction and are looking for a quick, enjoyable read, check this one out.