Monday, June 22, 2015

On This Longest Day



Inside a CT scanner is like being in a space capsule. Col. Chris Hadfield, I thought of you as I held a perfect rigor mortis formation, toes pointed skyward, as if in prayer. The capsule spins within its own orbit, humming to the universe, a song of the electro-magnetic spectrum. I chanted X-ray, gamma-ray, all the way to man-in-the-moon marigold in the color spectrum, the color of enlightenment, noting the red laser beam cross etched across my chest. I'm dissected, scanned and disassembled within minutes, then put back together into wafer-thin slices. Hosanna in the highest. The secret inside passages of my body, from hip to toe is made visible by invisible light. And tangible on the CD the imagist hands me on this first day of summer.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

MoHurley's Amazon Book Reviews 2015


I'm an avid ebook reader and reviewer—mostly escape fiction, most of it not so good. Some of it deplorable. But I consider the process a good honing skill to read and mentally edit books. My cousin said: Why don't you review them too? And so I did. Another tool in the craft toolkit.

Please mosey on over and LIKE some of my reviews. The older ones may be hard to find, buried deep. But the most recent ones should be fairly easy to access.

Click on that Yes button under my review as it boosts my ratings.... I began at 3-point-million something on the reviewers' list, and I am slowly wending my way forward, to 26,578th in line. I'd love to make 25,000th in line. I am (not) a number!

Go to MoHurley's Amazon Reviews If you can't find the review under the book, leave a comment and I think that will take you to the review on the author's page. Confirmed: a shortcut is to click on the comments section under my review and that will take you to the review where you can like it. A friend liked 3 reviews (truthfully I had 249 liked reviews, now I have 251) and my ranking improved. I am 24,762. Thank you Carol!



Murder at the Maples: Cozy Private Investigator Series (Flora Lively Mysteries Book 1)
Murder at the Maples: Cozy Private Investigator Series (Flora Lively Mysteries Book 1)
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Witty cosy murder mystery set in rural ShropshireJune 15, 2015
A delightful cozy mystery tale of young Flora Lively, who inherited her father's flailing moving business. She cares deeply for the well-being the elderly clients she's moved to the Maples Retirement Village in rural Shropshire. Joy, in particular, who has become like a surrogate grandmother, reports back that a childhood enemy had moved in, he's there to do her in, and residents on the Third Floor wing are mysteriously dying off too soon. With the help of her manager, Marshall, Flora uncovers a crime ring, prevents a murder, and despite her bumbling ways, saves the day, and some lives.

A well written, witty, entertaining read, and a good, solid writer. I can almost overlook the fact that Joanne Phillips forgot to capitalize Dad when it was used as a proper noun. I think we will be seeing more of the Flora Lively character.

I was also delighted to find that Joanne Phillips also wrote another purr-fectly silly story, as told from a cat's point of view, Cupid's Way. Check it out.

Red Clover
Red Clover
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Family dynamics vs coming of ageJune 15, 2015
Lee Oliver Winekoop, the youngest child of a wealthy Evansville, Illinois family, doesn't fit in. His father despises him and his distant mother can only run so much interference. He's not at all like his accomplished siblings, and is laden with myriad neroses that threaten to cripple him, including agoraphobia. Much to his father's disgust, the only thing that Lee excels at is karate. Ironically, Lee begins to find his way during a summer internship with eccentric but brilliant plant geneticist Dr. Rad, which leads to Lee finding his life's work, and perhaps ultimately a cure for cancer. When his Uncle Nelson dies, Lee receives a secret inheritance with strings attached. Lee's world is turned upside down and ultimately rights itself again. Many sub-stories and segues add to the complexity of the plot, and all the threads are woven into a brilliant tapestry.

Red Clover is not your run of the mill ebook, it's a real coming-of-age novel, replete with complex characters with complex obstacles to overcome. It's based on a premise of a poem, On the Outside Looking In. it's a story about a boy who overcomes great obstacles to heal himself, and in the process, his journey also heals his family and his friends too. (I do wish author hadn't used the word frig for refrigerator; better to write fridge, as in Fridgidaire.)


French Fried: one man's move to France with too many animals and an identity thief
French Fried: one man's move to France with too many animals and an identity thief
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Witty memoir of British Expats moving to FranceJune 15, 2015
French Fried is a book that languished in my Kindle "to read" slushpile, despite having all the right ingredients to snag me as a reader: horses, south of France, memoir. I don't know why I waited so long, perhaps Peter Mayle is my touchstone. But steampunk novelist Chris Dolley is a funny, tongue-in-cheeky writer, with a lively, engaging style, and the memoir (set in the 1990s), is hugely entertaining. Chris and Shelagh had more than the fair share of harrowing experiences from battling with recalcitrant French authorities, unscrupulous contractors, to stolen passports and identity theft, and being swindled by a nefarious ex-pat, and they survived to tell a right-rolicking tale.

The structure of the book is crisis-driven, or, will the English couple survive the next outrageous onslaught of misfortune? Getting the horses and the lurcher to France, or animals behaving badly. The joys of house-hunting and remodeling. Getting a car, insurance, and a license. Identity theft, parts one and two. Sherlocking it. Getting one's identity back. My only minor complaint is that Chris Dolley's over-the-top writing style offers little respite. Sometimes less is more. British ex-pat, Victoria Twead, who also writes memoirs of relocating to Spain, is a less accomplished writer, but easier to read. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am glad the Dolleys survived their harrowing adventures and lived to tell their tale with grace and aplomb.


Aunt Bessie Assumes (An Isle of Man Cozy Mystery Book 1)
Aunt Bessie Assumes (An Isle of Man Cozy Mystery Book 1)
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable murder mystery set in the Isle of ManJune 15, 2015
Aunt Bessie Assumes is a lively who-done-it murder mystery tale set on the Isle of Man ca. 1998, featuring Aunt Bessie, the village's honorary maiden aunt. Rain or shine, she takes her morning walk, but when she finds a body on sleepy Laxey Beach, things heat up.

This is an insular tale of bumbling police and island-mainland turf wars. Local Constable Hugh Watterson, vs. Inspector Rockwell, Manx CID. It's also a case of locals clashing with those swanky summer visitors "from across" the water. The dead man is summer visitor Daniel Pierce. It's a story of drugs, gold-diggers, infidelity, sibling rivalry, and corruption. One murder begets another murder. The police are stumped. A trap is set to snare the killer, but will Bessie be next?

Aunt Bessie is a dead character resurrected from another series, Island Romance. She wouldn't leave the author Diana Xarissa, alone, and demanded her own story. She's a bit like Miss Marple, only quirkier. A memorable character. A cosy murder mystery series that both entertains and delights. Look for all seven Aunt Bessie series: Aunt Bessie Believes, …Considers, …Decides, …Enjoys, and the forthcoming Aunt Bessie Finds, … Goes. If you're a diehard Aunt Bessie fan, an anthology, Summer Dreams, introduces the first ever Aunt Bessie short story


Valley of Thracians: A Novel of Bulgaria
Valley of Thracians: A Novel of Bulgaria
by Ellis Shuman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.28


5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping tale of kidnapping and smuggling set in BulgariaJune 15, 2015
Historical novel, Valley of Thracians is set in post-communist Bulgaria. Retired English professor Simon Matthews sets out to find his missing adventurous grandson, who is presumed dead. The trail is three years cold and the case is closed. But Simon won't give up. Scott's body was never found. He has a gut feeling Scott is alive. Besides, someone recently logged onto Scott's Skype account, and the laptop was never recovered. Simon Matthews and Thracian scholar Sophia Ivanova team up to hunt for his missing grandson, which leads to uncovering an antiquities smuggling ring run by the Bulgarian Mafia, and murder. Scott's Peace Corps host family offers few clues as to his disappearance. But that's where the trail, though ice-cold, begins.

Simon's story is narrated in traditional third person novel format. But the backstory of Scott Matthews is introduced via emails, and the story of Scoot and Katya during the missing three years, is told in the first person perspective, creating an immediacy set within time present. Which serves to heightens the drama: is Scott alive or not? The gripping conclusion, when all the threads are woven together, is a real page turner.

Unfortunately there are a few silly author errors: "unbridled horses" do on wander across roads. Unfettered, halterless, or loose horses, maybe. But not unbridled. Wrong word. "She beings the slow process of unthawing." Unthawing? I think the author means: "thawing." Unless she's refreezing? Again, wrong word. Other small typos don't interfere with the story. The historical component of the story could serve as a modern travel guide. Ellis Shuman, who lived in Bulgaria in 2009-2010, does an extraordinary job in both telling the tale and setting the scene.


BY EASTERN WINDOWS (Macquarie Series Book 1)
BY EASTERN WINDOWS (Macquarie Series Book 1)
Price: $4.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping account of the Father of AustraliaJune 15, 2015

I didn't realize that By Eastern Windows, by Gretta Curran Browne, was a historical novel based upon a real person, a biography of sorts, as it begins like an 18th century historical romance novel. The story is based on historical documents of soldier and Scotsman from the Isle of Mull, Lachlan Macquarrie, aka the Father of Australia. I knew none of this backstory until I had finished the novel. Irish author Gretta Curran Browne has done a credible job sussing out the life of Lachlan Mcquarrie, and the fact that the story was based on actual facts, explains some of the perceived anomalies and dropped threads in the storyline. Mcquarrie's first wife, Jane Jarvis, a Jean Rhys style Caribbean island girl, is the ward of an unscrupulous brother-in-law, who is a pompous caricature straight out of Dickens. Her mysterious illness and death in Macao is bizarre, to say the least. The second story of Elizabeth Campbell does read like a Regency novel set on the ton. Apparently Browne did not take liberties with the original story to shoehorn it into a fictional model. It's a sweeping epic tale that takes us from the isle of Mull, Scotland, to India, Macao, and Australia. A sequel, The Far Horizon, is set in Australia, followed by Jarvisfield, and The Wayward Son.



Bombshell (Dev Haskell - Private Investigator, Book 4)
Bombshell (Dev Haskell - Private Investigator, Book 4)
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Roller Derby murder mayhemJune 13, 2015
St. Paul PI Dev Haskell is a poor judge of women but a good judge of booze. His date Carol jilts him for a Frenchman, Nicholas. Meanwhile he's hired to protect a visiting roller derby team, The Bombshells. When he is framed for a roller derby queen murder, even his cop buddy, Vice Lieutenant, Aaron LaZelle, and Louie, an alcoholic public defender, about to be debarred, can't bail him out. Detective Manning is out for Dev's head. He thinks he's nailed Dev to the wall this time. Nicholas is a bad penny, and suddenly it's case of crossed cases. When Dev again runs afoul of the law, there's only so much Dev's friends can do to keep him out of trouble this time. Once again Dev has to save himself by solving the crime. Some madcap adventures and romps in and out of the bedroom help to solve this murder mystery.

(There are some typos: martini's, for example. I wasn't keeping track, the book was fast-paced, but I still noted them. Though I enjoyed this book, it felt rushed, less crafted than Faricy's other Dev Haskell books.


Russian Roulette (Dev Haskell - Private Investigator, Book 1)
Russian Roulette (Dev Haskell - Private Investigator, Book 1)
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced bumbling lovable gumshoe readJune 13, 2015
As most of my Kindle library is comprised of free downloads from Amazon, it's eclectic, at best. I prefer soft murder mysteries over bodice rippers, but cosy murder mysteries are sophomoric, and hard boiled action thrillers are usually too violent for my taste. Finding someone edgier than Miss Marple, is a challenge.

Delightfully flawed PI and slovenly boozer, Dev Haskill is an interesting protagonist, and the Mike Faricy series is well written. Faricy is a strong writer and takes care of the reader. A la Ray Chandler, Faricy's characters make bad decisions early, and their consequences inform the story. I didn't realize I had several of Faricy's books already on my Kindle, so as soon as I read one, I galloped onto the next one. Makes it hard to review just one book.

Dev Haskill singlehandedly holds up the corner of the bar with cases of jack Daniel's and Jamison's at a dive called The Spot in St. Paul, when he's not working (and when he's working too); he uses the watering hole as his office. Moe's Diner is his recovery room and office away from home. Dev is hired by a French girl named Kerri to find her sister Nikki. He doesn't have much to go on, a photo of the missing girl with two men—who turned up dead.

Despite being up to his eyeballs in bad decisions, Dev's investigations lead him into the sinister underworld of a Russian Mafia white slavery ring, and a passel of Russians want him silenced. And the St. Paul police force would like to bag him, and pin some felonies on him too. When he runs afoul of a FBI sting, his only buffer is his childhood friend on the force, vice cop Aaron LaZelle, and an alcoholic public defender, about to be debarred. But there's only so much they can do to keep Dev out of trouble. Dev has to save himself by solving the crime with the help of Heidi, his bail bondswoman and sometimes squeeze, and Sunnie, a computer whiz.

This action-driven thriller will keep you turning the pages. Well worth your time to invest in this series. Before you read Russian Roulette, you might want to download a short (back)story, prequel, Twinkle Toes. Up next are Mr. Swirlee (Mr. Softee), Bite Me, Bombshell, Tutti-Frutti,, and Last Shot. Watch for them. They're stand-aloneds and can be read in almost any order. There are eleven books so far in the series, Faricy is a prolific writer.


Leave No Stone Unturned (A Lexie Starr Mystery, Book 1)
Leave No Stone Unturned (A Lexie Starr Mystery, Book 1)
Price: $0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced cosy murder mystery with more depth than most CMMsJune 13, 2015
After a spate of skimming through bad cosy murder mysteries, Leave No Stone Unturned was a delight to read. It's well written, typo free, and not dumbed down like most cosy murder mysteries are (whoever coined a genre cosy murder mystery (CMM) is an oxymoron—we're talking murder here. The CMM sleuth is a bumbling female who, despite her flaws, solves her case).

Protagonist pre-geriatric widower, and volunteer librarian, Lexi Starr becomes a sleuth when she begins to notice that her daughter Wendy's new macho husband Clay Pitt, a cop, is not what he seems, not only is he a moose poacher, he's someone with a hidden past. When Lexi delves into Clay's past, she discovers his first wife was murdered; he may be a potential murderer. Eliza Pitt was found murdered in the Adirondack Mountains? Will Wendy be next?

Lexi plans a long fall trip from Kansas to the Adirondacks ostensibly to take photos of fall colors but plans a secret side trip to Schenectedy, NY, Clay's hometown. Wendy had lost her childhood charm bracelet, and was heartbroken, so Lexi found an online jeweler in South Carolina, who could replace it. Stone Van Patten notices that here's no charm for South Carolina and offers to be her tour guide.

She uses Stone as a pretext to visit someone she met online. A date. Wendy goes ballistic, tables are turned, but Lexi is determined. In a comedy of errors, Stone winds up in Schenectedy and turns out to be an ideal partner in crime. The cold case file turns dark when pieces begin to fall in place, When Wendy is kidnapped, old family secrets rise to haunt the present, and repeat the past. A page turner that will keep you on the edge of your seat.


The Queen Gene
The Queen Gene
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A witty and creative romp that will have you laughing out loudJune 13, 2015
A delightful story about a kooky New York family escaped from the suburbs,to open an arts colony in the Berkshires where everthing goes wrong. it's a story replete with dysfunctional artist tenants, cranky ghosts, pretentious neighbors who thrive on one-up-man-ship style parties, and even more dysfunctional relatives.

The story's witty and well written, the author weaves divergent shorelines well. Memorable characters include protagonist Lucy's New Age mother, narcissistic Anjoli, and her neurotic butt-dialing chihuahua, and other meddling relatives. Despite having perfect health, Anjoli has explored the gamut in alternative healing practices, from spun chakras to eye analysis, offers sage advice. She invests in gay theater and there are some queens in the story—but it doesn't help explain the title, other that everyone's flamboyant. There' Lucy's cousin model Kimmy who takes after Anjoli, Lucy's eternally upbeat aunt Bernice stuck in retirement party mode Florida, and there's more than a nodding reference to Lucy's party-crashing dead relatives, Bernice's sister cranky Rita, and husband George the handyman.


Death by Request (Caribbean Murder Series, Book 11)
Death by Request (Caribbean Murder Series, Book 11)
Price: $6.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Awful writing, interesting, predictable storylineJune 11, 2015
I'm with LadyMax on this one, I like the characters, the setting, and the storyline, but the author's writing and editing skills seen to grow worse over time. The only reason I keep reading this poorly written series is because I want to know the characters' fates. Why, I don't know as the characters are shallow, and predictable as is the plot. It's been a long, boring romance from Cindy's first husband's honeymoon murder to Matteus' proposal. I think I'm done with this series. I can only subject myself to so much bad writing.

Skye's previously released books are so laden with typos and grammatical errors, it's a struggle to read them. I can handle a few errors, but not as many as Skye has let loose onto the ebook realm. Skye's sentences are cloyed with weird linguistic conundrums. She uses weak adverbs/adjectives, wrong prepositions, and repetitiveness. I've taken to highlighting the times she uses "beautiflul/y" nearly 60 times in this novel). Novel # 8 was the worst written ebook, by far.

Sadly Skye's is a slipshod, hack writer who shows no sign of improving. You'd think with 11 books under her belt, there would be some grounds for improvement, but no. I can only conclude that she doesn't seem to care about the reader at all. My only excuse for reading her books is that they were free, I had insomnia and used them as a sleeping aide. If you like simple, shallow romantic novella style murder mysteries, you'll probably like this series.

A Saucy Murder: A Sonoma Wine Country Cozy Mystery
A Saucy Murder: A Sonoma Wine Country Cozy Mystery
Price: $0.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A simple summer readJune 11, 2015
I tend to read novels set in a locale I know well with trepidation, but this book was fun. Sure, I know Blissville well, and could unravel the conflation of various landmarks. But I very nearly didn't read the book because, after the opening paragraphs, the story unfolds with rampant consumerism: name brand clothing used as a means to establish character, and, to boot, the list was more suitable for a 45-something year-old material girl, than a 65-year-old grannie sleuth. Do I need to know Emma's slacks were from Banana Republic. or her shirt was from J. Crew? How does product placement enhance the storyline—is it an infomercial or a novel? It's a classic case of the author indulging in too much telling, and not enough showing. The author needed to use motivation and actions to establish character, not a clothing list. Ugh. Once I wobbled past the triteness, I did enjoy the story, and most of the descriptive scene settings were adequate, but I had pretty much had figured out who the killer was. I like the way the novel is structured so that the murder is solved within a week. The immediacy suited the storyline, keeping it fresh. That said, characters were interesting and engaging. But a deep read, this is not. Unfortunately cosy murder mysteries often leave something to be desired: intellect. If you're in for some mindless escape fiction for the beach or vineyard, then this is your cuppa tea—er, bottle of summer wine.

Ice on the Grapevine (A Hunter Rayne Highway Mystery, Book 2)
Ice on the Grapevine (A Hunter Rayne Highway Mystery, Book 2)
Price: $4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Solid gumshoe noir, a pleasure to readMarch 30, 2015
Another reviewer compared protagonist Hunter Rayne, a retired ex-Mountie-cum-trucker, to Clint Eastwood, but Hunter is more soulful, and does not seek the limelight. He reminds me of Canadian TV detective DaVinci, of DaVinci's Inquest. Hunter is a complex lawman who retired after his RCMP partner committed suicide, and Hunter, haunted by his friend's death, took to the open road as big-rig trucker. Newly divorced, Hunter can barely make ends meet, and his relationship with his kids is shaky, but he's still a detective at heart. When his newlywed trucker friends with a checkered past are framed for murder—a frozen corpse turns up in their refrigerated truck—Hunter lives up to his moniker, and gets his man, or men.

An entertaining procedural police drama replete with several characters who first made an appearance in Donald's debut book in the series, Slow Curve on the Coquihalla. Ice on the Grapevine, is more spare, and less prosaic than Coquihalla, but it fits solidly in the gumshoe genre. Canadian writer R.E. (Ruth) Donald's writing style reflects her deep knowledge of the trucking world. Authorative polished writing, solid, well-crafted characters, great plot twists, pacing, and the prerequisite dangling red herrings make Donald a pleasure to read. And, rest assured, though it's part of a series, it has a solid ending, not a cliffhanger.

A Weapon of Choice (A Sarah Woods Mystery 9)
A Weapon of Choice (A Sarah Woods Mystery 9)
Price: $2.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A quick, easy readMarch 30, 2015
I guess I'm lucky in that I dropped in on this series at Book 9, which several readers have proclaimed as the best one yet. I enjoyed meeting Sarah Woods, and the storyline. A great entertaining read. Rebound boyfriend Max and Sarah, PI in training, and Sarah's mentor PI, Carter are interesting, believable characters. The plot and the writing are solid, it's fast-paced, and entertaining. I couldn't put it down. A quick, easy read.

However, I was distracted by a few silly typos: misplaced apostrophes: “Well, I’m contacting all of Melanie’s friends and relatives and trying to secure alibi’s." Alibis? "Does your aunt know the Dunaway's?" The Dunaway's what? Driveway? Oh, she means the Dunaways, the simple plural Dunaways. A deuce of Dunaways, to be exact.
Proper nouns need capitalization: "She and mom were friends." "...you'd rather talk about dad..." "....the bible." Mom, Dad, Bible, in these contexts, all are proper nouns.
A few pedestrian typo-typos: "...mahoganythat...." SO, DO, etc.
Wrong word: "please, don’t let it out of your site.” Sight. (Sigh, spellcheck wins again.) By Book 9, you'd think that these kinds of typos would have been vetted out. Proofread much? Hence the three-star rating.

TENDER DECEIT (Romantic Suspense Psychological Thriller): The TENDER Series ~ Book 1
TENDER DECEIT (Romantic Suspense Psychological Thriller): The TENDER Series ~ Book 1
Price: $0.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great cliffhanger with no satisfying closureMarch 30, 2015
An enjoyable read, I loved the exotic locale, and the storyline. Tender Deceit is more of a procedural murder mystery than a romance novel. Leah connecting up with a high school sweetheart has all the trappings of a great romance story. It's well written, though I must confess that I began to question the author's veracity toward the end of the story. I understand that H.Y. Hanna wanted to drive wedge between Leah and Taran to heighten and prolong the suspense and expand the storyline, which it did, but I found I was beginning to question the author's motives. An author shouldn't intrude between storyline/plot and characters. If this had been a stand-alone story, I would've given it 4 or 5 stars, but the author deliberately leaves the reader twisting in the wind. I'm not a good serial reader, never was one to queue up to buy the next book just because the cliffhanger left me stranded on a literary slope. I do like closure, otherwise it has a contrary effect on my psyche, making me cranky with the author. Yeah, I do get the marketing ploy that the author wants me to buy the next book in line, but it makes me resentful. I had to skip ahead to read the previews of Hanna's following books in the series in order to get some sense of closure. Still, it was a gripping tale.

Daisy McDare And The Deadly Legal Affair (Cozy Mystery) (Daisy McDare Cozy Creek Mystery Book 2)
Daisy McDare And The Deadly Legal Affair (Cozy Mystery) (Daisy McDare Cozy Creek Mystery Book 2)
Price: $0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A fluffy read, should be labeled YA fictionMarch 30, 2015
A fluffy murder mystery far removed from any semblance of believability. It's amateurishly written, as if by a high school student, replete with stilted dialogue, the usual silly apostrophe typos, bad grammar, and plain old odd sentences: "Daisy didn’t even realize they made that made pink outfits" Nancy Drew is a more compelling sleuth, with more substance than this one-dimensional sugar-coated protagonist, Daisy McDare. No square meals were ever consumed, but sweets and chocolate cravings take center stage in this novella. Keep your insulin pills handy. What's with the "hot mess" cliché anyway? "The man was an emotional hot mess..." Augh! This little affair reads more like a dog's breakfast than a cozy mystery. Luckily it was a very short read. Save your more articulate hunger for a meatier story.

Poetry Crossing: 50+ Lessons for 50 Years of California Poets in the Schools
Poetry Crossing: 50+ Lessons for 50 Years of California Poets in the Schools
by Susan G. Wooldridge
Edition: Flexibound

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time-tested writing recipes in a handy formatMarch 21, 2015
Poetry Crossing: 50+ Lessons for 50 Years, an anthology of teaching resources, is designed for poets of all ages, and it delivers poetry of diverse styles and literary traditions. Poetry Crossing features model poems by award-winning poets and poets laureate as well as student poems and bilingual resources. It's chock-full of 50-plus tme-tested writing recipes in a handy large 8x11" format ready for copying on Monday morning. I've met several teachers who are using this book and are absolutely loving it. I too use this anthology when I visit classrooms as a CPITS poet.

What's fun for me, though I don't have any poetry recipes in the book, is that several of the poetry lessons are ones I either borrowed from other poets, or developed during the 1980s, and they have been re-envisioned by other CPITS poets, and presented in a new format. Truly a magnificent 50-year collaborative teaching effort in one handy format.

Poetry Crossing was edited by Phyllis Meshalum; not Susan G. Wooldridge, author of Poemcrazy, who wrote the foreword. Contributors with a California connection include former United States Poet Laureate Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, former Ca Poet Laureate Al Young, Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Snyder, David St. John, Ellen Bass, with former and current CPITS poets including Jane Hirshfield, Ca Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, Susan Wooldridge, Francisco Alarcón, and others who have donated their poems. Poetry Crossing makes tangible five decades of CPitS creative writing pedagogy, aimed to stimulate the intellectual curiosity and creative problem-solving skills of today’s students. It belongs up front and center on every poet's and creative writing teacher's bookshelf.

Essential Oils: A proven Guide for Essential Oils and Aromatherapy for Weight Loss, Stress Relief and a better Life: Essential Oils (Essential Oils for Beginners Book 1)
Essential Oils: A proven Guide for Essential Oils and Aromatherapy for Weight Loss, Stress Relief and a better Life: Essential Oils (Essential Oils for Beginners Book 1)
Price: $2.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An infomercial ebook? Don't waste your time. No joy.February 25, 2015
Not particularly useful or well thought out, this ebook reads like an infomercial replete with hotlinks to buy products. It's more like a teaser, the second half of the book is filled with preview chapters for other books, as is the recipe portion of the book. Disappointing, to say the least. Author haphazardly lists essential oils in random configurations, and has not proofread the manuscript. Some oils are capitalized, others are not. Especially lavender, as if it were a girl's name. Sarah Joy can't even get the title sorted out—with random capitalization. Then, there's just the plain wrong words spelled right used. Breathe is used when she meant the word breath. Save your breath, just say no and pass this one by.

Henry Wood: Edge of Understanding (Henry Wood Detective series Book 4)
Henry Wood: Edge of Understanding (Henry Wood Detective series Book 4)
Price: $5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wrong book, right cover: Amazon please update correct versionJanuary 20, 2015
I ordered and downloaded, but didn't receive "Henry Wood: Edge of Understanding". Beneath this cover, I received a different novel by the same author: "Underwood, Scotch and Wry". But I already own "Underwood, Scotch and Wry". I like Henry Wood novels, but this is irritating. You really can't judge this book by its cover when it's the wrong cover, or wrong innards, in this case. If you received the wrong copy from Amazon, contact Brian Meeks at ecocandleriel@gmail.com, and he'll send you the correct version.

Dear Amazon,

Amazon was supposed to push the correct version Brian Meeks' book, "Henry Wood: Edge of Understanding" to everyone who downloaded the wrong version last August.

Sleuthing through comments attached to other one-star reviews, I discovered that some 40,000 of us received the wrong book due to a massive e-gearhead error on the author's part, (a case of mistaken cover identity), which has caused him a massive publishing nightmare.

Apparently Amazon promised Brian Meeks to "push" the corrected version to us. Hasn't happened some five months later. Well, it didn't happen. What gives, Amazon?

TG, Brian Meeks offered to replace this version with the correct copy. I contacted the author directly, and so, am good. I now have the correct version. But, Amazon has done a grave disservice to the author Brian Meeks by not following through with everyone who downloaded it, by giving them the correct version. This has hurt his sales, and a chance to further promote his book, which in turn negatively impacts Amazon sales.

Mr. Meeks assures me that most of his readers did eventually receive the correct version but, for some reason, I did not. I suspect there are many other readers in a similar situation--as Mr. Meeks has 15 negative one-star reviews and nearly all of them mention that the wrong book was received. But they did not write to Amazon to complain. I am complaining on behalf of those other readers.

Amazon, please push the corrected version of book to Brian Meeks' readers ASAP. He is an intelligent and erudite writer, and deserves your full support to correct this error. As it is, there's far too much amateur writing that passes for literature on Amazon. Meeks is a keeper.

FWIW, due to the extenuating circumstances surrounding this SNAFU, I've upgraded this from a one-star to a four-star review, based on the sample (though there were some small typos.) I will add a detailed review later, when I've had a chance to read the entire book.


The Ruby Brooch (Time Travel Romance) (The Celtic Brooch Series Book 1)
The Ruby Brooch (Time Travel Romance) (The Celtic Brooch Series Book 1)
Price: $4.99

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative storyline, possessive apostrophe mayhemJanuary 12, 2015
I enjoyed the premise of The Ruby Brooch (Time Travel Romance)--it's both imaginative and inventive--but the mechanics of Logan's writing leave something to be desired. The overall writing was awkward, and her vocabulary was simplistic and littered with too many poorly crafted similes.

The basic idea of the book was interesting, but it needs serious revision. The time travel aspect was too over the top and not believable.The characters are flat romance stereotypes. Not enough accurate historical detail. And the iPhone, iPod time travel thing was too weird and contrived for words. Suspension of disbelief, much? The end of the book drags on as well.

Logan's use of possessive noun/genitive is unnecessary in at least 90% of her sentences. I've noticed that this seems to be a trend in Kindle books in general. Is it software that's prompting all these weird sentence structures, or merely a lack of writing skill? Fergawdsakes, Dear Author, in future stories, please don't use another possessive noun apostrophe (-'s) in a sentence unless you have to.

Not only is the unnecessary punctuation awkward, it literally breaks the narrative flow. Makes me stop dead every time and rephrase the sentence. The reader shouldn't have to revise the writer's sentences in her head. Reading requires a suspension of disbelief, and if the reader is thrown out of the story because of ambiguous phrases and uneven punctuation, it's hard to overcome the limitations. Cardinal rule: Take care of the reader.

Logan wrote: on a chair's spindly rear legs
Suggest: on the spindly rear legs of the chair

Logan wrote: Reading the paper's recitation was unnecessary.
Suggest:Reading the recitation in the paper was unnecessary.

One may assume I'm being overly nit-picky, or a cranky reader (I am) but these errors listed above are ALL on page 1.

Logan wrote: escorted the bride's widowed aunt
Now, this one is necessary.

Cullen walked in his grandsire's shoes.
ditto

the line above the marketing manager's manicured nail.
ditto

I was the farm's mistress.
shaky, but passable.

Logan wrote: She climbed up on the wagon's bench seat
Logan wrote: she wore her pencils' graphite tips to nubs.
Logan wrote: in the busy dining room's front corner
really? AWK!
Suggest: in the front corner of the busy dining room

Logan wrote: As a little girl, Kit's father's toolbox, full of wooden...
Augh!

The author's attempt to support two possessive nouns in a row has created an odd sentence. Better to use two sentences.
OR
When Kit was little, she was fascinated by her father's toolbox full of wooden handles worn smooth and shaped to his grip.

Hopefully these random examples illustrate my point--there are many more, especially toward the end of the book.

Misplaced punctuation I can handle--sometimes. But if it requires a reread to grasp the meaning, then it needs to be fixed.

"...with a famous poet, he knew (comma) Grace McCoy..." Ya need the comma.

It's worth it to take one's writing to the next level. And with very little effort. At least Logan knows the difference between it is and its. I think I only spotted one inappropriate it's. I would've given The Ruby Brooch a 4-star rating but there's far too much clumsy writing for it to merit a higher score.

Note bene: while weeding out old email drafts, I found these notes for a review from 6/9/13, long before I began to write reviews for Amazon. I may rework it at some point. Or not.



Child of the Mist (These Highland Hills, Book 1)


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting storyJanuary 11, 2015
Child of the Mist, set in 1565, in the Scottish Highlands, where widower Niall Campbell, still mourning for his dead wife, and young Anne MacGregor, a midwife and healer, are pledged in order to bring peace between the feuding clans. But it was hardly love at first sight, and a traitor in the midst, tries to disrupt the families' attempts at a peace treaty and clan alliance. There's also a potential love triangle that raises the tension and strains the relationship to breaking. Supporting characters are interesting and memorable. Morgan paints the backdrop well.

The story begins slow, and it does have a Christian theme, but it doesn't kick into overdrive until the end. My rationale is that during the 16th century, the characters would be motivated by faith in action and deed. Alas, it's a story light on historical facts, and utilizing Christian rhetoric to move the storyline, never works. Deux ex machina. If you're into Christian lit with an inspirational overlay, it will disappoint. If you're not fond of Christian lit, it will disappoint. There's a lot of linguistic lip-service, but the protagonists behave like lusty Harlequin romance characters. I suspect that a Christian overlay was added to the story later. A revisionist pastiche that does not seamlessly move the story.

The plot weighs heavily on the central characters inability to choose love, or each other, so they sit on the fence of indecision, and argue throughout the novel. The author's use of colloquial language woven with modern speech acts sometimes makes for a hard read. The plot's predictable and the story may be trying to cover too many genre bases at once: historical, romantic, Christian, etc., I enjoyed reading it, but Outlander, it's not. According to other reviews, this first book is the weakest one in These Highland Hills trilogy. Wings of Morning, and A Fire Within have drawn more positive reviews.



3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful tale told from a child's perspectiveJanuary 11, 2015
A Pony for Christmas is a delightful quick read as told from a six-year-old's perspective. Wonderful story, and characters. Because it's a short story, or novella, there's an economy of language, and characters aren't as fleshed out, but the story holds. Suzy believes that if she is very good, Santa will bring her a pony, despite all odds to the contrary. Sort of a "build it and they will come" theme, to steal a metaphor from Field of Dreams. Sometimes magic happens. I didn't realize that that the novella was written by Bev Petersen, an author I admire. Bev rode the racetrack circuit in Alberta, she knows her horses, and has a keen eye for detail. But in this story, she's outdone herself, and the tale will linger, long after you've put the book down. Kudus. It will tug at your heartstrings. A hard copy to any horse crazy little girl would make a fine Christmas or birthday gift.




3.0 out of 5 stars Better edited than Skye's other booksJanuary 11, 2015
Perhaps Jaden Skye is finally listening to the Amazon reviews as this book was not as fraught with appalling typos as her other books. Skye is a decent storyteller, and dialogue is a strength. Unfortunately Book 8 was also loaded with typos, which prompted my first review. The books published later than this one are not necessarily edited.

I understand it's a hassle to re-upload a corrected manuscript to Amazon, so many authors don't bother. But Skye's previously released books are so laden with typos and grammatical errors, it's a struggle to read them. I can handle a few errors, but not as many as Skye has let loose onto the ebook realm. So, it's still buyer beware.

However, this particular edition seems to be fairly blemish free. Amazon will refund ebooks that you don't like, so I suggest that if you do download one of the unedited novels, demand a refund. Perhaps Skye will get the message and revamp them all.

Since the author is recycling a storyline and basic plot over and over again, the real story is about the protagonist. Death by Honeymon, the first in the series, is free, but loaded with errors. Characters are flat, but it's often a lively, shallow read. Escape fiction, each story is set on different Caribbean islands.





I reposted the first 50 Amazon reviews on my blog, but then I keep going back and revising them and then I can't remember which review to update. So these may be slightly different that what's up on the Amazon page.


My Amazon Book Reviews 2014