Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ain’t No Cure for the Viral WTF

As most of you who are now following this blog can probably imagine it has been a crazy couple of days. Just when I think it is going to calm down something happens that keeps it going. I understand “going viral” from an entirely new perspective now. For the handful of people who followed me previously and haven’t gotten wind of what I’m talking about read the comments on this reviewThe first fifty or so should be enough. A few people posted about it on some internet forums and within a short time word was spreading throughout the internet via twitter, Facebook, forums, emails, and no doubt other avenues I’m not aware of. I thought it would be a good idea to give a run down on several subjects surrounding the entire episode. Many of my friends say I like to bloviate (look it up). Here comes a bunch of that.

Early on Red Adept, the Queen of Kindle reviewers, was kind enough to lend her support. I appreciate that and the many others with the kind comments via the blog, emails, Facebook, and twitter. It seemed many of you intuitively understood what I’m aiming for with this blog and are now following it through the many venues available. I appreciate it and hope you continue to like what I’m doing. Spread the word to your friends. I know, the whole world has done that already. :D

On the subject of Ms. Howett, I’ve already said most of what needed saying in my comments. Many of you pointed out the fallacy in her thinking it was my “fault” if she sent me a bad copy of her book, and many of you understood that despite not being obligated I DID get the newer version. Thanks to those who investigated and pointed out that the current version still had the issues I saw. Some think this was a planned publicity stunt. If so I wasn’t let in on it and question how successful it was. Her sales rank did rise, but I don’t believe this reflects that many sales.

There is a coffee mug some enterprising soul has made available immortalizing one of Ms. Howett’s comments, a youtube video, and write-ups on Slate.Com, and The Guardian website.  The episode made the front page of, and many other mainstream, non-book related websites. I’ve been happy that the commentary about me is generally positive.

One thing that rankles me is those posting 1 star reviews on Amazon, having not read the book at all. Those who read the sample and posted I have mixed feelings about. They at least had some basis for their comments. The technical issues I pointed out are apparent early on. Those who posted without reading at all are – I’d better not use any of the terms I really want. Unethical, rude, and inhumane are some more polite ways to put it. For the record I feel the same about 5 star reviews from friends and family who haven’t read the book or 1 star reviews based on price. I’m happy Amazon has weeded out most of the bogus reviews from Ms. Howett’s book.

I appreciate feedback. Although I hope everyone can see a distinction between a typo or grammar error on a blog and the same in a book, I’m still aiming for error free while realizing I probably won’t hit it any time soon. Pointing out those issues in emails or comments means I can fix it and potentially improve in this area myself. I freely admit I’m not perfect in this area. (I suspect concentrating on use, non-use, and misuse of commas would be the most fruitful area to explore.) Other feedback or suggestions are appreciated as well.

Last, if any of you are interested in “the numbers.” Prior to the Big Bang I was averaging about 50 visits a day. (Visits, not to be confused with page views, which appear to run between 1 and 2 average per visit.) My previous high was just shy of 300 visits last Friday when the negative review post was published. 
Monday I had 52, 000 visits, 194,000 on Tuesday, and as I write this with 4 hours remaining in Wednesday it appears I’ll come close to matching that. The number of followers (twitter, Facebook, and Google Friend Connect) was about 230 and has now climbed to 1,900. Links have been shared on Facebook in excess of 2,000 times and while I have no idea how many tweets have gone out, I would be amazed if the number isn’t many thousands. Not to mention a yet-to-be-determined number of book review submissions that is well north of 100. (If anyone is interested in an unpaid book reviewer position, email BooksAndPals(at)Yahoo(dot)com and tell me about yourself.) Authors and publishers who have submitted this week, I’ll be attempting to make contact over the next several days as I formulate a plan of attack for the crush of electrons in my to-be-read file.

To say it is surreal and a bit overwhelming (in a good way) is an understatement. Thanks again for all your support. I hope everyone will keep coming back. I am optimistic the future of this blog will meet your expectations.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Taking Love in Stride / Donna Fasano

Genre: Romance

Approximate word count: 40-45,000 words

Availability Kindle: YES    Nook: YES   DTB: YES


Donna Fasano has written over thirty novels, most of which were under her pen name, Donna Clayton. The most recent is The Merry-Go-Round. Much of her backlist that had gone out of print is being updated and re-released as eBooks. The first of these, Mountain Laurel, was reviewed here several weeks ago. Taking Love in Stride is the second to receive this treatment. The mother of two grown sons, Fasano lives with her husband and two dogs, Jake and Roo.  For more information, visit the author's web site.


Andrea O’Connor, the track coach at a small private school with a limited budget, needs equipment for her track team. The principal is no help and the school board is unlikely to find money in the budget either. Help arrives from unexpected quarters when Ian Powers, the attractive father of one of her students, offers a donation in exchange for personal coaching. If only Andrea didn’t find him so infuriating.


The romance genre isn’t one I’ve read much. Chick-lit is another matter. I’ve been willingly reading it for years. Six months ago I couldn’t have told you the difference except for the “romance” books I read – yes, I thought chick-lit and romance were the same – I would sometimes find among the non-genre specific titles in my local supermarket’s paperback section.  Those I didn’t read (the actual romance books) were in their own section. By the time I’d noticed the publisher’s imprint was “one of those” the description would already have me hooked.

Lately I’ve read a few of the romance genre and those I’ve read have not been what I had pictured. I thought I’d find cardboard characters, completely implausible or simplistic plots, and, if I was lucky, a bit of titillation. I haven’t, at least not the first two.

I’m still getting used to the conventions and terminology of the genre. As I say in my submission guidelines, as a man I may come at both these genres differently than the target demographic would. Let’s tackle my preconceptions as they pertain to Taking Love in Stride.

We’ll start with characterization. Andrea, the Heroine (“female lead” in the romance genre) is what you might expect of a female track coach. Feisty, prone to snap judgments, and cleans up nice. That works so far. Ian, the Hero (I think you can figure this one out) is attractive, used to being in control, and a single father. A book needs conflict and I’ll bet that from my thumbnail descriptions you can see it coming already. Then we throw in Ian’s dad, who lives with him and watches his granddaughter during Ian’s frequent business trips and we have the major players. Each has a distinct personality and idiosyncrasies that work well moving the plot forward. This is the third book of Fasano’s I’ve read and, in my estimation, characterization is a strong suit. She seems to have an insight into what makes different people tick that translates well to her characters.

The plot isn’t complex like a good mystery or many suspense novels if for no other reason than this book is much shorter – I’m guessing genre conventions for romance dictate a length around half that of many genres. However, the plot is not simplistic. The story is realistic. (We’ve all had bosses like Andrea’s principal and had people we were attracted to and infuriated by, haven’t we?) It’s fun, at least for those of us who are voyeurs – I might feel differently living it. The results, however, are worth it for Andrea and Ian. The “happily ever after” ending is, from what I understand, another genre convention. Letting that slip isn’t a spoiler.

As for titillation, not so much. It turns out that romance novels run from relatively innocent (suitable for teens) all the way to borderline erotica. This one is more warm than hot. However, for a relatively quick read and a chance to laugh at other people’s foibles (possibly much like our own) this book does the trick.


This book was first released on Silhouette Romance (a Harlequin imprint). The author did some updates for the re-release. Language is relatively mild and subject matter appropriate for an older teen.

Format/Typo Issues:

Although I read a pre-release version of this book, I found no significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Monday, March 28, 2011

My Link in Time / S.L. Baum

Genre: YA/Paranormal

Approximate word count: 50-55,000

Availability Kindle: YES    Nook: YES    DTB: Coming Soon


A former high school math teacher, S.L. Baum now works as a substitute elementary school teacher, chauffer for her kids, and novelist. She lives with her family in the Southwestern United States and has set her novels in some favorite vacation destinations. Baum’s first book, A Chance for Charity, was the first in The Immortal Ones series. My Link in Time is book two of the series.


In A Chance for Charity, we met Charity, an “immortal” who, although chronologically a senior citizen, stopped aging at a point where she can pass as a high school senior. That everyone thinks this is what she is raises eyebrows among some Telluride residents as Charity and Link (her mortal and now part vampire boyfriend) plan their wedding. Link struggles with controlling his newly acquired bloodlust as they prepare for Las Vegas nuptials. Surely a no fuss wedding should come off without a hitch, or maybe not.


If you told me before I got my Kindle that soon I’d be reading YA paranormal books and enjoying them, I’d have laughed in your face. Glittery vampires aren’t my thing. But with my Kindle I found myself making a conscious effort in branching out, trying genres I’d avoided in the past. What I found is I did enjoy some of those books I wouldn’t have given a second glance in the bookstore. This series has been among my favorites in this genre. Analyzing why has been an interesting exercise.

My first thought was, “because it’s a light read.” But is it really? Yes, the target audience is less than half my age, but their reading ability isn’t that much different. Maybe it is lighter than books full of adult themes and language? For language, that would be true. However, Charity and her extended family deal with plenty of life and death situations; Much more serious than my typical day. Yet, because these are in the realm of fantasy, I think it’s easy to feel the intensity (a good read needs some conflict) without it feeling as real as a storyline that could actually happen in real life. But unlike the actual fantasy genre paranormal characters are often enough like me and operating in the same world as I am, so I can more easily relate to their stories.

The reasons I like this series, specifically, are easier to nail down. The character of Charity is very likeable. Her unique situation of being “older and wiser” yet having to fit in with the high school crowd is an interesting conflict. The dichotomy between having concerns that are often much different than her apparent peers and sometimes not provides plenty of interesting situations. Link’s adaptation to life as a part vampire living and interacting with a group of other paranormals also makes for a good story and should continue doing so as the series progresses.

With My Link in Time, Baum has taken a situation prone to stress in anyone’s life, a wedding, and cranked up the intensity. Charity and Link experience plenty of conflict while trying to make it to their “fuss free” wedding. It makes for an enjoyable and intense read while still allowing the reader to ignore the “real world.” On some days, that’s the perfect book.


My Link in Time can be read as a standalone book as the key elements of the back-story are covered in the early portions of the book. However, like any series, starting at the beginning can never be wrong.

Format/Typo Issues:

As a beta reader, I read a pre-release copy and am unable to evaluate. However, I notified the author of all typos I found and believe they were corrected prior to release.

Rating: ***** Five stars

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Word on Negative Reviews

In the short time since starting this blog I’ve received multiple emails from authors whose book received a negative review asking, even demanding, that I remove the review. Rather than address them one at a time I decided to address all these situations in this post. Consider it an open letter to both authors whose books have been reviewed or will be in the future, as well as my readers.

I’ll start by saying I don’t give negative reviews lightly. I understand writing a sixty thousand word novel isn’t easy. It is much more than two hundred times tougher than writing a three hundred word review. I’d guess it is easily thousands of times tougher. I get that. I’m not going to dismiss your months or years of hard work without a second thought. I’m not out to torpedo anyone’s budding career as a novelist, nor is a single review from me going to do that.

However, I also have to consider the purpose of a book review. It’s to help readers decide if it is a book they want to buy. The primary purpose isn’t to help the author, publisher, or anyone except the reader. The author would like a positive review and may benefit from it, but that purpose is secondary. For this reason I will not remove a review once it has been posted. Requests to do so will not receive any response.
Doing so would be a disservice to my readers.  I will post it to the other sites as indicated in the submission guidelines page.  Asking or insisting I remove a review is no different than if I demanded an author stop selling their book.

What Gets a Negative Review

Authors and readers should review the Guide to Reviews page to understand what the rankings mean to me. In this I mention that personal taste can influence the star ranking. However, this really only comes into play when a book is borderline between two different rankings. I’ve made a minor change in the Guide to Reviews page to make that clearer. Any book with 3-star ranking or lower has some definite flaws. What and how serious those flaws are will determine the ranking. These might be problems with the story or the characters. It may be a convoluted or difficult way the author has of expressing themself. If so I’ll typically explain what these are so readers can decide, based on their personal preferences, how this should impact their purchasing decision.

These flaws might be technical issues such as typos, grammar, or incorrect word usage. Those types of flaws exist in virtually every book. I’d venture a guess that a sharp eyed reader will find some in this post. I’d be amazed if some couldn’t be found elsewhere on this blog.

How these kinds of things impact one of my reviews depends on the type and number of errors. Yes, I’m actually keeping track, to a point. I’m not a professional proofreader or copyeditor. If I’m not sure, I don’t count it. Chances of not counting something as an error that should be are much higher than the opposite. If there are a very small number of errors, up to about seven in a typical novel, I’ll indicate this in the format/typo issues area of the review with something like, “no significant issues.” More than that, but under around twenty I’ll say, “a small number of errors.” If there are less than twenty, this is the only place these errors will be mentioned. If you wonder why I mention them at all it’s because the complaint I hear about Indie authors the most is that their books are full of these kinds of errors. My experience is that most aren’t, and only readers with an extremely low tolerance would take issue with so few such issues.

Errors beyond this amount are when they may start impacting the reading experience. My note in the format/typo issues section will indicate how serious the issue is. If the errors detract from the reading experience it will be mentioned in the analysis section.

But everyone else says my book is great

Everyone and I disagree. It happens.

I’ve seen two star reviews for books I’d give four or five stars. I’ve seen one star reviews on books considered “classics of literature.” If 9 out of 10 disinterested reviewers love your book then what I think shouldn’t matter. If all your family and friends love the book and give it a great review, the same thing goes, if you’re sure they will tell you the truth.

However, before discounting my opinion entirely you might be doing yourself a favor to understand why I didn’t like it. Is it a matter of difference in taste or did you push the publish button before your book was ready? If spelling, grammar, and typographical errors were enough to influence my ranking it is almost surely the latter.


As an avid reader, I think we’re living in an exciting time. The opportunity to experience a variety of voices, different subject matter in fiction, and to find quality reading off the beaten path is greater than ever before. This is why I focus on indie authors. However, being an indie author doesn’t mean a free pass for those things that are objective and clearly wrong. If you’re an author planning to submit your book for review and can’t live with the consequences based on what I’ve said in this post and the submission guidelines, possibly you should reconsider.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

3/17 / Mary Pat Hyland

Genre: Humor

Approximate word count: 55-60,000 words

Availability Kindle: YES    Nook: NO    DTB: YES


A former graphic artist and journalist (her column was carried in more than ninety papers across the US) Mary Pat Hyland lives in upstate New York. She published two novels prior to this one, The Cyber Miracles and its sequel, A Sudden Gift of Fate.


Four Irish traditional musicians get trapped in rural New York the week before St. Patrick’s Day.


Murphy was Irish. It seems fitting that his law would apply so well to the characters of 3/17. In what is described as a “loose parody of Dante’s Inferno,” Irish Trad Band Slí na Fírinne (which means “path of truth”) go on their first American tour in upstate New York. Before reaching their first gig they slide off the road in a snowstorm – an accident that might have been prevented if they had paid attention to their seemingly possessed GPS. From there, it only gets worse.

What follows is a nightmare that gets progressively worse. Missed gigs, cultural clashes – especially with those who think they understand Irish culture, and plenty of gigs from hell (none of which were those originally booked). Although almost anyone capable of laughing at Murphy gone amok should enjoy 3/17, it should especially ring true for musicians, or anyone who has observed artistic types trying to put food on the table.


You’ll find a lot of Gaeilge words (the Irish language) used. For some, like eejit, the meaning might be obvious. Some you’ll figure out from context. For all, the handy lexicon in the back is available to help.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four stars

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Trophy Hunter / J.M. Zambrano

Genre: Thriller/Suspense

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

Availability Kindle: YES   Nook: YES    DTB: NO


As with many of the better indie authors, J.M. Zambrano has been writing for years, perfecting her craft while working a day job. This included a short stint as a deputy sheriff for Los Angeles County and as a CPA. She now lives in Colorado and has one additional novel, Pool of Lies, also available for your Kindle. For more information, visit her website.


When attorney Diana Martin becomes involved in a child custody case, she discovers not everything is as it seems. A family of hunters has secrets they would rather stay hidden, and one person who has taken the hunt beyond anything imaginable.


The main characters, Diana Martin and her investigator friend Jessica, are well defined - likeable, yet flawed enough to seem real. Martin has demons of her own that she must overcome as she peels away layer upon layer of secrets and deceit.

When a story takes places in a specific place, Denver and an unnamed town in the mountains of Colorado in this case, getting the details right are important. Zambrano does that. From the little things, like street names and the feel of certain neighborhoods, to the critical, such as the insular nature of small mountain towns, Zambrano’s portrayal rings true.

In a thriller characterization and other story elements matter, but are secondary to the plot. Luckily, The Trophy Hunter delivers in this area too. The twists and turns keep you guessing until the end with an intense climax you won’t see coming.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four stars

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The G-ZONE 3/22/2011

I did another segment on the G-ZONE today that focused on book recommendations.  You can listen to it here.  The books discussed were:

Thin Blood, by Australian Vicki Tyley. This mystery was one of the top sellers among all books (paper and eBooks) on Amazon last year.

The Book, by M. Clifford – set in the future where all reading is on government controlled eReaders. Has shades of 1984 with “Big Brother” type government control and censorship as in Fahrenheit 451.

John Yunker’s The Tourist Trail, an Eco-terrorist thriller.

I also discussed a couple authors whose books were formerly traditionally published as paper books and are now being republished as eBooks at bargain prices.

Rebecca Forster’s Witness Series are legal thrillers. One book in the series is Silent Witness.

Donna Fasano is a romance author with more than 3.5 million books sold in her career. She is republishing many of these written under her pen name of Donna Clayton, the first available is Mountain Laurel.

Anomaly / Thea Atkinson

Genre: Literary Fiction

Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words

Availability Kindle: YES    Nook: YES    DTB: NO


Thea Atkinson makes her home in Nova Scotia. She has been writing since she was twelve and has four other books in addition to Anomaly available for your Kindle. For more information, visit her blog.


Born with male organs and named Robert by his parents, J (her preferred name) is a female trapped in the body of a man. Yes, he (make that she) is conflicted. Not only with himself, which leads to self-destructive behavior, but also with much of the world.


I’m going to cheat and start with a quote snatched out of the From the Author section on Amazon because it describes the heart of this book so well.

When I first began writing this book and realized that my main character was a trans person, I got really nervous. What did I know about transgender? I even remember saying to my daughter, "Why would my muse give me a transgender character to work with?"

The deeper I got into the writing, the more I realized that it was about the human condition. It was about bias and prejudice and the need for society to put labels on things that we don't understand. It just so happened that my character was transgender. The same as if my character just happened to be a man and as an author I'm a woman.

Atkinson succeeded in communicating all of those things. The cliché about walking in someone else’s shoes applies as well. Her portrayal of J is both sympathetic and, for those who have ever had someone think less of them because of being different, potentially eye opening. Anomaly is not a book I would have been likely to read on my own, despite it coming close to issues that I care about. Yet, I can’t help but think I’m a better person for having done so.

Anomaly is also an excellent example of why the rise of Indie publishing we’re experiencing is a good thing. I find it hard to picture this book attracting a contract with a traditional publisher. Not because the writing or the story isn’t good enough, they are. But because of marketing reasons. How would we position it? Who’s the audience? Can we sell enough? This book deserves an audience and you owe it to yourself to read it.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of typos, although not frequent enough or of the type to distract from the story.

Rating: ***** Five stars

Monday, March 21, 2011

Color Me Grey / J. C. Phelps

Genre: Action-Adventure/Spy Thriller

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

Availability Kindle: YES    Nook: YES    DTB: YES


Author J.C. Phelps has written three books in The Alex Stanton Chronicles (Color Me Grey is the first). She lives and writes in South Dakota. For more visit her blog.


A petite twenty-something tomboy with an unconventional upbringing and a yearning for adventure, Alexis Stanton is bored with her life. So she quits her job and starts the search for something more exciting. A strange and ambiguous help wanted ad might be the answer. Then again, it might be more than she bargained for.


I started reading Color Me Grey late one night as I was supposed to be falling asleep. This was a mistake. I liked the character of Alexis immediately. Despite her unconventional and privileged upbringing (which could easily have had the opposite effect) she had an attitude and style I loved. She has a passion to experience life that most of us lack. She is always thirsting for knowledge, a quality very few people have. One thing that really stuck with me, since it hit close to home, was when Alexis said:

Reading is a habit of mine, not a hobby, but a habit. It seems I just can’t get enough. I will read anything.

Perhaps some of you can relate. I know I did.

The characters, including Alexis, are “larger than life.” Their adventures are beyond what you’d expect from real life, yet aren’t as over-the-top as you might find in a James Bond type novel.

If this sort of adventure-thriller is your sort of read, Color Me Grey might be the perfect read, although Alexis is a different kind of hero than you might have experienced before.

The only caution I have is Phelps writing style, at least in this book, is very narrative driven. One friend described it as stream-of-consciousness, although I’m not sure that description is quite right. But if you’re looking for lots of dialog, you won’t find it, if for no other reason than many of the characters tend to be close-lipped, letting their actions talk for them. If you’re not sure, read the sample. If your reaction is anything like mine, that will be more than enough to hook you. Just don’t start reading if you should be sleeping, or risk paying the consequences the next morning as I did.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of typos that should not affect your reading enjoyment.

Rating: ***** Five stars

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Take / Mike Dennis

Genre: Crime Fiction/Noir

Approximate word count: 50-55,000

Availability Kindle: YES    Nook: YES    DTB: YES


One thing is obvious about Mike Dennis, he isn’t afraid of risk. He spent thirty years working as a professional musician, despite what many people think this a vocation in which very few manage to make a living. He threw that away, moving last year from Key West to Las Vegas to become a professional poker player, what successful long-time poker pros describe as “a hard way to make an easy living.” Writing on the side seems relatively risk free. Previously he has had multiple short stories published in anthologies.


Bookie Eddie Ryan finds himself in a hole after taking one-sided action on a sure thing that turned out not so sure. A loan shark bails Eddie out, but he can’t make the weekly payment. A friend’s brilliant idea that will pull him out of the hole forever goes bad and Ryan’s on the run, avoiding another hole that’s six-feet deep with his name on top.


Descriptions of The Take describe it as noir (also known as black fiction). I always have to look up the word noir when I see it used. I have a sense what it means, but can’t put it into words without prodding. According to Wikipedia, the website that knows everything, noir is a subset of “hardboiled fiction” (think Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, or more recently Robert Parker and Walter Mosley). The noir subset differs mainly in that the protagonist is typically not a detective, as is usually the case with a hardboiled novel, and tends to be self-destructive. Elmore Leonard is an example of a contemporary bestseller writing in this literary style.

From the synopsis above, it should be apparent that Eddie Ryan is a self-destructive protagonist. I’ll often not find this type of character sympatric, yet Eddie was different. He took a bit of a gamble, let’s call it a risk instead, just as any businessperson might. All his actions after that are a matter of doing what he thinks he must to survive.

Eddie’s adventures will keep you on edge as he struggles to survive as you both try to decide whom he should trust. Whether he will escape and what price Eddie will have to pay is unclear until the end. Fan’s of Elmore Leonard should find Mike Dennis an author worth watching – and worth reading.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** 4 Stars

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Falling Star / Philip Chen

Genre: Thriller / Suspense

Approximate word count: 95-100,00 words

Availability Kindle: YES    Nook: YES    DTB: YES


Born in China, Philip Chen came to the US as a young child. After receiving a Master of Science degree from Stanford University, he worked as an ocean research engineer, helping develop methods of exploring the sea as far as 20,000 feet deep. He later earned his law degree from the University of Minnesota and has worked in a variety of fields including trial attorney and investment banker.


Four mysterious, yet obviously manmade, objects are discovered in the deep sea bracketing the coast of the US. What are they? How did they get there? Did they come from outer space or were they put there by an enemy of the US? Are they dangerous? For almost thirty years a secret military operation secretly studies and monitors the objects. Then they begin to come to life.


In Falling Star, Philip Chen spins a great yarn in this thriller combining science and cold war political intrigue. The plot is complex spanning many years and a wide range of settings. While the cast of characters is large, the major characters are all well drawn and likeable, with unique personalities and characteristics that makes keeping them straight easy. Aloysius “Mike” Liu, one of the few characters featured throughout most of the book has a life story surprising like Chen’s.

With a complex plot that touches on many technical areas, Chen appears to have done his research. The science, politics, geography and other technical subjects appear realistic. Although fiction, nothing about his story is something you’ll say, “That couldn’t have possibly happened.”

This attention to detail is both a strength and the source of my only two complaints. The first is a propensity to repeat a detail that matters, but isn’t critical. An example is, Mike and Ellen went into the surprisingly small Situation Room of CSAC. Television monitors lined one wall of the remarkably small room. That the room is small is a detail that matters. It adds color, helping the reader imagine what the author pictures. It isn’t a detail that requires repeating.

The other idiosyncrasy that sometimes got in the way of the story is painting a picture with too much specific detail. Take this description of an investment banker’s office. Beside the large mahogany desk and leather chair, the office had a comfortable leather sofa and armchair, mahogany coffee table, dark Chippendale side chairs, and expensive oriental lamps. Rather than inventory the office furnishings this could have been accomplished with something like, “The office was expensively furnished in dark wood and leather by Chippendale.”

Despite the occasional bump from these writing tics, I found Falling Star an enjoyable read. The story line is both original and at credible enough to make you think it might have really happened.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four stars

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Greek Seaman / Jacqueline Howett

Genre: Suspense/Literary Fiction

Approximate word count: 55-60,000 words

Availability Kindle: YES    Nook: YES    DTB: NO


Born and educated in London, England, author Jacqueline Howett now lives in the US. She is also a painter (some of her work can be viewed on her blog) and previously published a short story, The Secret Passion of Twins, and a book of poetry, Amorphous Angelic, both are available for your Kindle.  For more information visit her blog.


An eighteen year-old newlywed finds herself on a romantic adventure when she goes to sea with her sailor husband on a large cargo ship. However, the ship owner and captain have plans that could disrupt her wedded bliss.

Only Tues., Weds., Thurs., Site-Wide Red Alert Sale from Midnight to 3AM!


If you read The Greek Seaman from the start until you click next page for the last time I think you’ll find the story compelling and interesting. The culture shock felt by the newlywed bride, Katy, who finds herself far from her native England, living on a cargo ship with her seaman husband Don is a good story in itself. Katy adapting to this all male environment with a crew of mixed nationality, most non-English speaking, is compelling. Whether Katy and Don will survive the criminal conspiracies the ship owner and captain have planned is yet another conflict that should keep a reader in suspense to the end.

However, odds of making that final click are slim. One reason is the spelling and grammar errors, which come so quickly that, especially in the first several chapters, it’s difficult to get into the book without being jarred back to reality as you attempt unraveling what the author meant. At times, you’ll be engrossed in the story when you’ll run across a flowery description of the emotions Katy is feeling about her situation or her husband. These are numerous and sometimes very good. Chances are one of these sections originally pulled you so deeply into Katy’s world. Then you’ll run into one that doesn’t work and get derailed again. Reading shouldn’t be that hard.

Wolfgang's Vault - Deal of the Week

Format/Typo Issues:

Numerous proofing, typo, and grammar issues.

Rating: ** Two stars

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Life … With No Breaks / Nick Spalding

Genre: Humor/Memoir

Approximate word count: 55,000-60,000 words for main book. Also includes a glossary of British terminology and a bonus short story.

Availability Kindle: YES    Nook: YES   DTB: NO


Nick Spalding is a copywriter for a marketing company and lives in the South of England. He suffers from insomnia, has an irrational fear of sponges, and is very proud of certain of his physical attributes. Spalding has a blog, Spalding’s Racket, that promotes books from other indie authors.


While lying in bed one morning Nick Spalding had a brainstorm. He should sit down and pound out the book he knew was in him somewhere. His twist was doing it in a single sitting. That evening he sat down with no idea what he would write about - thirty hours later he headed for bed. After some editing and proofing, Spalding unleashed Life … With No Breaks on an unsuspecting world.


I admit, when I first heard the concept behind this book I was skeptical. I’ve heard too many stories of novelists who are finally seeing a modicum of success after years of trying. Most have a drawer full of unpublished manuscripts not even they think are any good. What were the odds of this one being worthwhile?

Turns out I was missing some pertinent information. Spalding has spent plenty of time trying and failing. An included bonus short story is one of the first he ever wrote, cleaned up as much as possible. He’s the first to admit it is still quite bad and I suspect it was included as evidence of some kind. He’s also made his living for several years as a copywriter. Cranking out words is no problem.

Spalding still needed a story. He works that out in the first part of the book, eventually falling into writing about the subject he knows more about than anyone else, the life of Nick Spalding.

I have a theory that everyone has a life that is interesting if you pick the right parts to talk about and tell the story well. (That’s the excuse all us old farts use for forcing you to listen to our back-in-the-day stories.) Spalding picks and chooses well, telling his story in a humorous, self-depreciating tone and a stream of consciousness style. (Those who hear this and experience flashbacks of being forced to read Faulkner or James Joyce in school, don’t panic. It’s okay.) Much of Spalding’s life story is funny. Much of it is his version on the experiences we’ve all had. It turns out my theory was right. Spalding’s life is interesting – at least the way he tells it


Life … With No Breaks contains UK spelling and many British expressions. A helpful glossary in the back will clue you in to the meanings of the latter if needed.

Format/Typo Issues:

I found a small number of typos and other proofing errors.

Rating: **** Four stars

Monday, March 14, 2011

The G-ZONE 3/14/2011

I survived my debut on The G-ZONE, a BlogTalk Radio show with Giovani Gelati.  After each show I'll be posting links to any books or other products I discussed in my segment.  If we touch on other information I'll also sometimes have links to blogs, news articles, etc for more on the subject.

To listen to the show go here.  The beginning of the hour is an excellent discussion with Stephen Jay Schwartz, author of the novels Boulevard and Beat.  This first time was a brief introduction to me and how I came to own a Kindle.  Also mentioned was the first of a series of digital shorts published by show sponsor Trestle Press, The Commissary by CG Scafidi.  My next show is this Thursday, March 17, at 6 PM Eastern where I'll have some book recommendations along with more Kindle discussion.

A Gnome Problem / Michael Crane

Genre: Comedic Fiction

Approximate word count: 8-8,500 words

Availability Kindle: YES   Nook: NO   DTB: NO


A graduate of Columbia College Chicago in Fiction Writing, Michael Crane’s specialty is the short story. Often these are what Crane describes as “slice of life.” Stories about real people (or at least seemingly real) with the kinds of issues real people have. His short story collection, In Decline
, reviewed here about a month ago was of this type. He’s also contributed these type stories to a few anthologies.

Recently he’s also found another niche. I’ll call it dark humor. Look at them as a bit scary and slightly whacky nightmares come to life. First, two short collections of drabbles (flash fiction of exactly 100 words each) in Lessons I and the sequel, Lessons II. (Look here for reviews of these sometime in the future.) This latest release which sneaks into novelette length (several hundred words too long to be classified a short story) is more of this dark humor.


Pat’s having a bad day. Last night he broke up with his girlfriend, maybe for the last time. Now his buddy Spencer calls claiming he’s being attacked by gnomes. Obviously, Spencer has a problem. Is it drugs? Has he gone off the deep end? Regardless of the reason, Pat is a good friend - so he drags himself out of bed, downs a Red Bull to wake up, and heads over to Spencer’s house to help.


While I love Michael Crane’s “slice of life” stories, his dark humor pieces are oodles of fun. The premise seems ridiculous on its face. What could be more innocent than a little garden gnome? With the current craze for the paranormal in books, who is to say that garden gnomes coming to life are any less likely than werewolves or glittery vampires showing up on your doorstep?

It’s this tension between what Pat knows has to be true, gnomes don’t come to life - compared to what Spencer and eventually Pat are experiencing, that make story so fun. What is going on? Is this a bad, yet realistic dream? How will it be resolved? It is all just a little twisted and demented, perfect for a fast, fun read. You’ll never look at gnomes the same.


If you’re extremely sensitive to language, you’ll find a handful or two of words you might not like. Fucking Gnomes can bring that out in a guy.

Format/Typo Issues:

As a beta reader I received a pre-publication version of the book and cannot evaluate formatting and typos of the final release version. The author was notified of all typos I found and is believed to have fixed them prior to release.

Rating: **** Four stars

Winner of Faustine gym bag giveaway.

The winner of the Faustine gym bag is Karen, who posted a comment on the review on March 8th.  Please contact me at BooksAndPals(at)yahoo(dot)com to arrange delivery of your prize.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Beginning next Monday, March 14th, BigAl will be appearing on The G-ZONE, a BlogTalk radio show, in a recurring segment called Indie Watch.  Approximately once a week BigAl and host Giovanni Gelati will discuss the latest in the eReader world with a focus on Indie authors.  Recent shows on The G-ZONE have included bestselling author guests (Steve Berry, Irene Hannon, author/publisher Aaron Patterson) and a roundtable discussion on the future of the eBook.

Between now and Monday listen to past episodes of The G-ZONE (see link on the right) and consider listening live to Saturday's very special show which I'll let Giovanni describe below:

Gelati’s Scoop, The G-ZONE , Trestle Press & an Improvised Digital Short Story !

Sounds like the beginning of something from a quiz show doesn’t it? No it isn’t, but if you weren’t just listening in on our Blogtalk Radio Show The G-ZONE that had Steve Berry and David Morrell as guests, you may have missed the announcement I just made. That announcement is that we are trying to do something different this Saturday. What is that you say? Here is the concept and hopefully how we will execute the idea:

-We (by that I mean Trestle Press my blogtalk radio sponsor and myself) are going to try to use a lot of our resources to carry off an improvised digital short story within a span of hours.

- To do this we are going to be given a person, place and a thing by the guests of our blogtalk show Friday evening. I will post that on the Giovanni Gelati social media and off we go. Who are we?

-We will be using a number of authors from Trestle Press in a variety of different functions. The story itself will be written by four different authors covering half the world. The story will be lead off by Laurie Bowler (Across the City Series) in England. She is the author of many vampire/paranormal/romance novels and digital short stories. She will hand it off to B.R. Stateham ( Death of a Young Lieutenant & Call Me Smitty), he is in Texas; his genre is historical thriller fiction as well as dark suspense digital short stories and sci/fi. CQ Scafidi (Time Couriers & The Commissary) in New Orleans takes over from there, geopolitical thrillers and conspiracy are his strong suit. The anchor of the story is Thomas White (Justice Rules); he is the author of a detective, police procedural, action novel.

- Four authors, four different genres.

-Each portion of the story after editing will be posted on the Gelati Scoop blog and The Novel Spot.

-The final piece by Thomas White will not. But wait, you can still get it and find out how it ends.

-At 3pm on my blogtalk radio show The G-ZONE, Tom Sumner( All I Wanted Was a Haircut!), Big Daddy Abel( Open Mic), and myself will read the story in its entirety on air. This will create an audio version of it that will be in our archives that you can access at any time 24/7 from a variety of platforms: computer, smartphone, iPad,etc.

-Cover art will be made by me and put up on Facebook to await your comments.

-The story will be published on Amazon, Smashwords… as soon as it has been edited.

-To wrap this up: In a matter of hours we will create, edit, blog, publish and make an audio version of a story. Sound like fun? Why not be a part of it and leave comments on the blog, on Facebook with the cover art, or on the blogtalk show.

Is this a one and done deal? &%$ NO! This is the tip of the iceberg for us, just the beginning. Trestle Press is a very progressive, cutting edge, full service publisher. When I approached them with the idea they said , “Sounds intense, when can we do it; let’s roll!”. We plan on doing this on a regular basis. Why not? It is too much fun to just plan and the authors are totally amped up to show their readers and hopefully a ton of new readers just what they can do in a about 1,000 words. Imagine taking three things, a person, place and thing and not just crafting a story from that but working with and connecting to another author’s work. Different authors, different genres, four different voices, in a nice, neat little package that can be read AND listened to from just about anywhere, at any time. That was the idea I was holding onto. Join us this Saturday @ Gelati’s Scoop blog, The Novel Spot (why not join; the badge is on my blog), The G-ZONE, Amazon, Smashwords…….

Hey, are you an author? Do you think you might want to have some fun doing this, the improved digital short story? Get with me and let’s see what we can do together. Fun is fun, right?

Faustine Gym Bag Giveaway

Imogen Rose, author of Faustine, one of the books reviewed this past week, has offered a gym bag (pictured above) to one of our lucky readers.

The winner will be determined by random selection of all entries. There are four ways to enter and you can enter multiple times using multiple methods.

Leave a comment on the review of Faustine. Feel free to comment on the book or review, but saying as little as “enter me in the drawing” is enough. Those who post anonymously will need to leave a name in order to uniquely identify them.

Follow BooksAndPals on twitter, Facebook, or Google Friend Connect. (See the convenient buttons on the right for each.) Those who start following by multiple methods will be entered multiple times.

Entries will be accepted until 10:00 AM Eastern time on Sunday, March 13 2011. The winner will be notified via a blog post the following day, March 1, with instructions for claiming the prize. Members of BooksAndPals immediate family or winners of previous drawings are not eligible.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The October Five / Mobashar Qureshi

Genre: Thriller/Suspense

Approximate word count: 65-70,000

Availability Kindle: YES   Nook: YES   DTB: YES


Born in Nigeria, Mobashar Qureshi later lived in Pakistan and now lives in Toronto, Canada. He graduated with a degree in economics from the University of Toronto. He was named one of the “ten rising Canadian mystery writers to watch” by Quill & Quire Magazine in 2007.  For more information visit the author's website.


A Plumber, an Electrician, a Caretaker, a Locksmith and a Butcher. Why do they secretly meet every week?

Karl Whaler, a detective for the Chicago Police, is investigating a brutal murder. Then another murder happens that appears related, yet nothing ties the two victims together. Who is doing this and why?


Some might call this book a mystery. I’m inclined not to because whodunit, the key element in a typical mystery, is apparent early in the book. Yet there is still plenty of mystery. The questions of why the murders were committed, will the police catch the culprits, even whether the reader wants the murderers caught are unanswered questions - mysteries in a way. Then, near the end, some additional mysteries crop up.

The above is a part of what I liked about this book. It is also an example of what I was thinking of when I discuss indie authors in the “why Indies” page of this blog. Something that is different from the typical formula and takes risks is much more likely found among Indies. What this book does differently is take a couple different formulas and combines elements from each. In most books who you should root for is obvious. It might be the criminal trying to pull off the bank robbery or it might be the detective trying to catch him. In The October Five, it isn’t clear. The author doesn’t try swaying the reader toward any of the choices, nor while reading, did I ever decide. The ending has no clear winner either although there are some definite losers. Yet, somehow, the ending was still satisfying. Maybe because real life is seldom clear cut and unambiguous either.


I try to mention in this area when a UK or Aussie author uses spelling or expressions that is correct for their native country. I consider these comments neutral since different people react differently to this situation. For me these are typically a positive because they add color (or colour in this case) to the story. It reminds me that the story is taking place somewhere other than the US. Others might find this disconcerting. By making the reader aware they can decide based on their tastes whether this matters or not.

You may wonder why this long discussion. It’s because The October Five doesn’t fit the typical situation. First, the author lives in Canada where typically UK spelling is used, but the setting for the book is Chicago. It appears Qureshi mostly used US spelling conventions, however, some UK spelling variations snuck in. His also used US measurements (feet, pounds, miles, etc) which, given the characters are from Chicago, is correct. However, there is at least one instance where a character thinks in kilometres (with that spelling) rather than miles. These situations are very few and shouldn’t affect your reading pleasure too much; however, it is slightly jarring when you stumble onto these.

Format/Typo Issues:

I spotted very few typos or proofreading issues.

Rating: **** Four star

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Perfect Wedding / Sibel Hodge

Genre: Chick-lit/Romantic Comedy

Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words

Availability Kindle: YES   Nook: YES   DTB: YES


Splitting her time between the UK and North Cyprus, Sibel Hodge works as a fitness instructor and massage therapist. In addition to her novels, Hodge writes articles on health and fitness. Her other novels are Fourteen Days Later and The Fashion Police.  For more information visit the author's website.


Helen Grey is jetting off to the Mediterranean for her “pre-honeymoon” followed by “the perfect wedding.” Soon she’ll have it all, a handsome husband and an exciting new life in Cyprus. If only the world would cooperate with her plans


I found the main character, Helen, an endearing, yet at times frustrating (even infuriating) character. She’s a smart and successful woman, yet she continually makes shortsighted and obviously incorrect decisions. In addition, her luck is so terrible that even somewhat harmless thing still backfire. Helen and her fiancé haven’t made it on their plane in the first chapter before security is detaining them as suspected terrorists due to a couple practical jokes gone wrong.

The other main characters also add spice to the story. Helen’s fiancé, Kaleem, alternates between a foil for Helen’s questionable actions and a partner in crime. Kaleem’s uncle appears to be a Mediterranean Redneck, but eventually showed I’d underestimated him. Kaleem’s parents are sick in their hotel room most of the book, yet provide an ongoing joke regarding the number of condoms they’re using. We’ve got a few villains, some friends of the couple-to-be, and even some celebrities round out what would be described as an ensemble cast were this a TV show.

After the airport episode, things continue going downhill for Helen. There is mystery, suspense, a touch of terror, and plenty of chances to shake your head and laugh while saying, “Helen, what are you thinking?”

How you’ll react to My Perfect Wedding is largely dependent on your sense of humor. If you prefer something sly and subtle that sneaks up on you this might sometimes seem too over-the-top. For many of us, it’s full of laughs.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: **** Four stars

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Adventures of Whatley Tupper / Rudolf Kerkhoven & Daniel Pitts

Genre: Comedic Fiction

Approximate word count: 90-95,000 if all variations read.

Availability Kindle: YES   Nook: NO   DTB: NO


Rudolf Kerhoven is a Canadian, born in the Yukon he gravitated south until he finally thawed out in Vancouver, BC. Kerhoven has one other novel, The Year We Finally Solved Everything. For more information, visit the author’s blog.

Co-author Daniel Pitts is an enigma. A cipher. A mysterious author with no apparent (at least not obvious) internet presence or biographical information that Google knows about. Sure, I could try asking his co-author about him, but prefer he maintain his mysteriousness.

Not enough? Fine. It has been reported (in the “About the Authors” section of the book – good luck finding it) that Pitts “lives in a fortress of solitude overlooking the Canadian Rocky Mountains.” That will have to be enough.


“Whatley Tupper is an A-grade janitor at a B-grade university about to become entwined in C-grade fiction!”

What Whatley does and how it turns out is up to you. Several times during the story, at the point where Whatley has a major (or minor) decision to make you get to choose for him. Depending on your choices, the story will change. There are more than 100 different choices and 37 different endings possible.


The concept is simple enough, a “choose your own adventure” book for adults. Is this great literature, the next Hemmingway, Dickens, or Fitzgerald? Of course not. Is the plot, actually any of the many potential plots, a fantastic story? No, not really – at least none that I found.

But all these questions miss the point. What Whatley Tupper aims to be is fun (it is). Funny (that too). One review I saw called it a guilty pleasure, a description I can’t argue with either. It’s strange, ridiculous, and downright weird at times (if you pick the right – or is that wrong – choice). If you don’t like how it turns out, just try again. For a bunch of laughs and a ton of fun Whatley Tupper may the perfect choice.


Adult adventure means “not kids.” Don’t read too much into the “adult” tag. Although there are a few sexual situations those I found were tamer than a typical bestseller and many YA books.

Kerhoven and the mysterious Mr. Pitts are co-authoring another choose your own adventure book, The Redemption of Mr. Sturlubok, with a planned release of April 30, 2011.

Format/Typo Issues:

I found a very small number typos. For a book of this type, formatting along with a table of contents (normally not much use in fiction) is critical. The formatting and table of contents is top notch. Everything works as it should.

Rating: **** Four stars

Monday, March 7, 2011

How I Learned to Love the Walrus / Beth Orsoff

Genre: Chick Lit

Approximate net words: 90-95,000 words

Availability Kindle: YES   Nook: YES   DTB: NO


By day, Beth Orsoff is an entertainment lawyer. But she only went to law school because her parents told her they didn’t pay for four years of college so she could become a professional lifeguard, even if the job did come with health insurance. Always a movie fan, she decided to move to Los Angeles and enroll in USC Law School. Now, when she's not representing movie stars or writing books about them, she spends time with her husband, an author and avid movie fan too. She has two other books available for your Kindle. Romantically Challenged and Honeymoon for One.  For more information visit the author's website.


When Los Angeles publicist Sydney Green agrees to help Blake McKinley, a movie star on the rise and her sometimes boyfriend, produce a documentary for the Save the Walrus foundation she has no idea what she’s gotten herself into. Getting her boss to allow it is tough enough. But a month in rural Alaska is farther from Hollywood than she ever dreamed.


At its heart, How I Learned to Love the Walrus is good chick lit. Sydney Green is a self-absorbed publicist with a "thing" for the wrong man - Blake, an actor who is also her top client. Sydney would do almost anything to help Blake who is only too happy to take advantage when it suits him. A typical chick lit plot would have Sydney's relationship with Blake resolve itself somehow. Blake would see the error of his ways or Mr. Right would somehow step into the breach.

What sets Walrus apart and elevates it beyond just good is that how (or even if) Sydney's relationship problems are resolved isn't the story. Instead, Sydney learns life lessons. Maybe she isn't the most important person in the world. Is it possible that by making the world a better place she'll end up a better and happier person herself?

Format/Typo Issues:

There were no significant typos, editing, or formatting issues.

Ranking: ***** 5 Stars

Friday, March 4, 2011

Carl Melcher Goes to Vietnam / Paul Clayton

Genre: Literary Fiction

Approximate word count: 65-70,000

Availability Kindle: YES     Nook: YES    DTB: YES


In 1995 Calling Crow, Paul Clayton’s first published book landed in the bookstores. This was the first of three historical fiction books on the Spanish Conquest of Florida. Yet, despite this success, he continued trying to find a home for his first novel based on his experiences as a soldier in Vietnam, written 20 years prior. It was a story he wanted people to read. Finally, he succeeded when St. Martin’s Press offered a contract and released the book in 2004. He’s since written another book, White Seed, another historical fiction. Carl Melcher is an example of a book gone out of print and now finding a second life through an author going the indie route after publication rights have reverted. Read the full account of Paul Clayton’s quest to see Carl Melcher published on the author’s website.


A coming-of-age novel of the 60s generation, Carl Melcher is a young Philadelphian, drafted after college doesn’t work out for him.


Tons of novels have been written about war. It seems like half of Hemingway’s oeuvre qualifies. Catch-22 and Ron Kovic’s Born on the Fourth of July are two classics. Some glorify war while others illustrate its absurdity.

Carl Melcher is one that shows the absurdity, but takes a more subtle approach than the over-the-top satire of Catch-22. Sometimes contrast can illustrate an idea better than repetition. Rather than continually showing the absurd, as Heller did in Catch-22, Clayton shows the contrasts. Many days Melcher is bored, working in the camp in the Vietnam jungle with no imminent danger. Even while on patrol it is usually a whole lot of no action. Yet the threat is always there and the sheer terror when attacked shows why war changes a soldier. Melcher’s changes are gradual – some good, some not, and some hard to judge – yet over the course of the novel the amount of change is immense.

It seems to me that Melcher’s experiences are probably more true to what the typical soldier in Vietnam actually experienced than most other Vietnam War novels. This makes its message both more powerful and more credible.

Format/Typo Issues:

I found no significant issues

Rating: **** Four stars

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Time Traveller’s Decision / Kelvin O’Ralph

Genre: YA/Science Fiction

Approximate word count: 35-40,000

Availability Kindle: YES   Nook: NO    DTB: NO


Kelvin O’Ralph is currently a student at a university in England. For more information visit his website.


Lucas Taylor is a university student, studying Computer Science, who is also an aspiring novelist, looking for that elusive first publishing contract. He dates sporadically (still holding out hope of reconnecting with his first love). Then he discovers a gift he has, the ability to time travel. Will this ability help or hurt? Only time will tell. (This book was originally called Lucas Taylor: the time traveler.)


The typos, grammar errors, and incorrect word usage render this book almost unreadable. In the first twenty-five percent of the book I found in excess of fifty instances. The remainder was no better. These errors ranged from pluralizing incorrectly (“Lucas and his sister were working as part-time staffs in McDonald’s …”) to using the wrong word (suite instead of suit, cooperate instead of corporate) to sentences that made very little sense at all (“Well, my future self did she requested”).

Even if typo, grammar, and word usage were fixed, there are other issues. For example constantly telling us things we don’t need to know. A case in point is this:

Sophie smiled, and began eating her food. She then remembered that she did not ask about his day. She placed her fork on the chips, and looked at him.

“How was your day?” asked Sophie.

Do we need to know she’d forgotten and then realized she hadn’t asked about his day? Doesn’t her asking imply that? Does her fork matter?

Finally, we should discuss the story. The basic story, boiled down to 25 words or less, could be called a cliché - not so good - or it could be called an archetype - no problem. Boy wants to succeed. Boy wants girl. Boy gets both, but makes mistakes along the way. The question of cliché or archetype depends on execution. Are the characters interesting? Are the variations to the basic story unique, believable, and compelling? For me the answers were no, no, no and no.


The author lives in the UK, uses UK spelling and slang.

Format/Typo Issues:

Numerous typos and misspellings as mentioned in the appraisal section.

Rating: * 1 star