Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Tangled Lights for a Tangled Brain, my review of Tangled Lights and Silent Nights: A Holiday Anthology

I’m one of those weirdos who hates Christmas.  I don’t mean in that Grinchy I’m going to steal everyone’s roast beast and presents way. No. Christmas just gives me a good case of the winter blues.  Part of it is due to messed up holiday memories from my youth, and part of it because it is SOFRIGGINGGRAY here in corn country during the holidays.  So, I’m always looking for a way to make the holidays brighter that doesn’t involve the Hallmark channel and spoonfuls of cookie dough.  I think I’ve found it with Tangled Lights and Silent Nights: A Holiday Anthology.

Usually, holiday anthologies are full of angels, and miracles, and recipes for cranberry sauce framed in stories of long dead, sweet grandmothers.  This one is so different.  It’s not all heartwarming reality.  There is something in this book for everyone.

My favorite story is “Convergence” by Stacey Roberts because it is humor, as it is labeled, but it is also relatable to anyone who felt like they didn’t fit in as a kid. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you are from a “broken home” you will really get this story.

Since my mind tends to go dark at Christmas, I also loved Yuletide Homicide: A Liz Boyle Short Mystery, by Kate Birdsall. I love a good murder mystery, especially one set in Ohio, my current home state.

Those are just my top two favorite stories.  Really, the entire book is great. Tangled Lights and Silent Nights: A Holiday Anthology is one of those books that you will want to read in one sitting with a big Yeti full of coffee, while sitting next to a fire. And given my seasonal and all year depression and anxiety, it helps that all profits go to The Life After—Visions of Hope Project.

Whether you love or hate Christmas and the entire holiday season, which now begins at 11:59pm on October 31, you will love this book.  Buy it now while it’s cheap because once Oprah catches wind of this, and she will, it will be much more expensive.

 

My First Bad Book Review

I just read a really negative review of my YA novel, Misfit Academy. I’m sorry I haven’t paid more attention to my Amazon reviews. I had missed this little Christmas time gem because I was doing all of the other things writers have to do nowadays, like:

  • Pin award winning graphics to Pinerest.
  • Tweet ever so funny yet not offensive things on Twitter every 42 seconds.
  • Build a solid Facebook following of loyal readers.
  • Post cat pictures on Instagram.
  • Write a blog at least once a week, if not more often.
  • Cry while reviewing my blog’s Google Analytics.
  • Create a media kit that attracts sponsors.
  • Still work a day job.
  • Take care of the family by cooking, doing laundry, and everything else.

Anyway, I’m not going to use the reviewer’s real name.   Instead, I will call her A, which is her first initial. Yes, the reviewer is a woman. Who else would be vindictive enough to waste time writing a somewhat lengthy review of a book she hated? A man would toss the book in the trash, or delete it off his Kindle, have a beer and watch TV. So, I will call her A. I want to protect her privacy and I think it’s really funny to call a Canadian A. See what I did there, eh?

Though A’s review was harsh, I did learn some valuable things, and of course I’m going to share them with you all. I hope you are fluent in sarcasm. A isn’t.

My main character did not have a name. I thought I had named him Scott Price, but not according to A, “We follow (no name), a bitter teenager is convinced that the world is working against him. He claims to be a victim of bullying.”

Lesson learned. The next time I write a novel in the first person I should make the character refer to himself in the third person, like Bob Dole, so his name is evident even though the OTHER CHARACTERS talk to him and call him by name. In the case of Misfit Academy, “I, Scott Price, drove to school” would have worked. Noted.

A, if you had not read the book at all, and it sounds like you did more of a skim than a read, you could have learned SCOTT’S name from reading the other reviews. Just sayin’.

I might be schizophrenic. According to A, I grew up in a town that does not exist. Yikes. Here is her evidence, “Although, I’m pretty sure she said it was in Florida, but she keeps referencing Hollywood. So I either I misread (which is possible) or geography is an issue.”

In a panic, thinking my entire childhood and young adulthood was one big hallucination; I did a little Google research. BIG sigh of relief. I found that not only is Hollywood, FL real, but Alabama, Maryland, and South Carolina also have Hollywoods. So, it’s not just California. I can cancel my psychiatrist appointment now.

On a related note, I was both shocked and thrilled to learn there is actually ONE Canadian out there who has never heard of Hollywood, FL. When I was growing up, I could have sworn that the entire country of Canada came to Hollywood every winter. This made parking near the beach a real bitch, which is why SCOTT (THAT IS HIS NAME) complains about Canadians a lot in the book. Almost all residents of beach towns like Hollywood complain about the tourists. They are not racists; they just want parking spaces.

Misfit Academy is not Anime. I would likely give A a bad review, too, as she writes some sort of Anime books. Anime is totally not my genre. My book is realistic fiction, so it is totally not her genre. I’m wondering why she bought it, half-read it, and wrote a review. I’m guessing she either lost a bet or A was drinking and Amazoning.

Teens in Canada are WAY different from American teens. Either A doesn’t get sarcasm at all, OR she was a perfectly kind teen with no doubts, hormones, or mood swings. She never had a bad thought about anyone, and she embraced all nationalities like a United Nations on legs.

Buildings are people, too. A gave me many helpful hints, like the fact that I should have developed the school as a character. She suggested, “The author misses out on developing one of the most important characters of the book, the school.”

Wait. What? You want me to make a building into a person. Either you’re doing more than booze or you are actually a Republican member of the U.S. Congress. This sounds a lot like the whole corporations are people thing.

I have 50 Shades of Punctuation going on. According to A, “Writing wise, there’s plenty of comma abuse, meaning she could have used a period and the writing would have been cleaner and less rambling-like.”

I pictured myself whipping poor, little commas. Then, I realized she was talking about the fact that I use a comma before and in a serial list.  Those are OXFORD commas, A. We use those over here in Murica. OXFORD. Also, here’s a free grammar lesson for you. There is a space in a lot. I noticed you wrote “alot” a lot in your review. That’s not a word. Check out this site for more information on a lot.

Teen boys should behave like eunuchs. Good teen boys do not notice breasts or if a girl is good looking. It is wrong to notice anyone’s looks, and everyone should walk around wearing a blindfold.

According to A, “He’s intensely homophobic and objectifies anything resembling the female sex into two categories: sexually appealing or ugly. As long as you’re hot, a woman’s faults are okay.”  Yep. I have created a monster. Scott Price notices when a woman is attractive. That makes him homophobic somehow, even though one of his best friends is gay. Interesting.

MisfitCoverI’m very thankful that A took the time to write the most scathing review of Misfit Academy to date. Clearly, I have learned A LOT about myself as a writer and a creator of schizophrenic, homophobic racist characters.  If you would like to read her entire review, it is located here. Here is a link to Misfit Academy’s Amazon page. If you have read it, please leave a review. I don’t mind constructive feedback. Just be sure to Google things like “Hollywood, FL” if you are accusing me of being geographically illiterate. Hugs all around.