Sunday, December 31, 2017

MoHurley's Amazon Book Reviews 2017

Dear Ones,

Thank you for stopping by and reading my ebook reviews. I am primarily interested in women's fiction and the well-crafted murder mystery genre. I delve into historical fiction, and cozy mysteries, sometimes even alpha make action adventure series, but I am no fan of chick-lit Regency bodice rippers, nor am I a fan of sugary cupcake who-dun-its, though I will read them if there's nothing else to read.

I am also not a horror fan (though I occasionally read Willow Rose, despite her awful writing style), nor am I a big sci-fi fan (having read the best of the genre when I was young). But I like an occasional time-travel story, such as Sara Woodbury's After Cilmeri Series series. She does her medieval Welsh homework. And yes, I read all the Outlander series when they came out.

Freebooksy, BookBub, and The eReader Cafe are my main sources of free books. OHFB is another good source. So I rarely need to buy books ( I download 2-5 books a day; most books languish unread), but when I discover an author I like, I tend to buy everything they've ever written. Otherwise, I tend to review the first book in a series—which should be strong, and well written, but is often flabby and full of conundrums—as it's often the author's first book. 

So, I also try to read the sequels as well, or download the boxed sets, when they become available—to give the author another chance. Such is the case with Wayne Stinnett. I really hated his first book, and was willing to write him off, but when I read the first three books boxed in a set, the story flowed, his writing (syntax and sentence structure) improved, there were fewer typos. He hit his stride, and had found his voice as a writer by book three, so I reversed my initial decision.

I began writing Amazon Reviews in 2013 after reading a Kindle ebook that was so awful, I was distraught. My cousin suggested, rather than screeching about it, that I write an Amazon Review. And so I did. I'm into it well over a hundred reviews, total. My goal is a minimum of 25 reviews per year. I don't always make it. I am woefully behind this year...

Unfortunately many Amazon book reviews are nothing more than a popularity contest. "I liked it/didn't like it" is not a review—it's an empty response that has little, or no merit. It takes me considerable time and thought to write (and rewrite, AND rewrite) reviews. I don't take the process lightly.

And authors, I do note those pesky typos in my reviews. Too many typos, or sloppy writing garners a minus star in an otherwise perfect five-star review for a well-crafted story with solid characters. Hey, free copy editing here! 

If there's a typo in the author's bio, or story synopsis, I won't even bother downloading it. What's the point? It is my hope, that after reading my reviews, that the authors will improve their craft, correct their typos, and upload revised books so that we all benefit. 

My ad-hoc book reviews generally begin with an internal argument I have going with the author as I'm reading. Slovenly writing, and too many typos throw me out of the story. Then, I begin to flag those typos with the Kindle notes feature. That often becomes the basis of my review. But I certainly don't review only books laden with typos. With a select few books (I read far more books than I write reviews of), some inner dialogue develops, and I begin writing. I never know what book, or when.

It's almost impossible to Google search my individual reviews on Amazon (why I began reposting them here). But I found that I could add Customer reviews, MoHurley's review of (and add book title), I can access some of my reviews. If you go to the author's review page, there is now a search window to find customer reviews. I'm MoHurley. But it doesn't seem to work.

Please click on the popularity meter button at the bottom of my reviews: was the review helpful (or not). Unfortunately, negative reviews also garner negative points. My Amazon rating plunges. So LIKE some of my reviews. Amazon's all about Like. And if you leave me comments too, I will respond. Ta!

My older reviews are buried deep within my Amazon public reviews. I'm up to 12 pages' worth. So I include the direct links whenever possible here as well. Go to Amazon, MoHurley's Amazon Reviews click on the comments section under my review and that will take you to the review where you can like it. Or not.

On Blogger, I move my collected year's worth of Amazon reviews to December 31, each year. An end-of-year housekeeping event. Here they are listed by year.

I sometimes repost condensed versions of my reviews on GoodReads, but I don't think anyone actually ever reads them. I've only garnered three Likes in two years.

MoHurley's Amazon Book Reviews 2016
MoHurley's Amazon Book Reviews 2015
My Amazon Book Reviews 2014
My Amazon Book Reviews 2013

Mo's Amazon Book Reviews 2017 (in progress)

Fallen Series: A Jesse McDermitt Bundle (Caribbean Adventure Series Book 0)
Action-packed military series set in the Florida Keys, August 22, 2017
Because the first book's always free, I tend to review the first book in a series—which should be strong, and well written, but is often flabby and full of conundrums—as it's usually the author's first book. I try to read the sequels as well, before I review an author, to give the author another chance. Such is the case with Wayne Stinnett.

Despite rave reviews from authors whose work I admire, Jinx Schwartz, and Steven Becker, I really hated Stinnett's first book, and was willing to write him off. Sentence structure was so stilted, I often couldn't finish a paragraph. The second book still didn't sway me either, but when I read the first three books together, in a boxed set, the storyline flowed. Stinnett's writing (syntax and sentence structure) improved, there were fewer typos. He hit his stride, and had found his writer's voice by the end of book three, so I've reversed my initial decision. (I'm now reading Fallen Mangrove, book five).

I didn't expect to like the protagonist, retired marine, Jesse McDermott, or all the hoorah violence. I am not fond of the military/action figure genre, gratuitous guns and violence, doomsday plots, yet this series works. You wind up caring for Jesse, but a lot of the supporting characters die off early and often. So, don't get too attached. Jesse seems to have a hard time keeping his girlfriends out of harm's way, too much collateral damage. Stinnett has a way of drawing the reader in, to make you feel privy to the inner workings (and closed doors) of the military world.

The Kindle notes I had made on Stinnett's first two books, did not save to the iPad format. But I noted the usual common noun/proper noun conundrum Dad vs. lower case dad; missing apostrophes: Brinks truck should be Brink's; "modified boxers" is different than a modified boxer's pose. Just sayin'.

Wrong words: to broach is not a brooch. Rope vs. rode. But hauling in 50 feet of rode is a pretty surreal road. It's better to use embedded vs. imbedded (an alternate, archaic spelling). Satin isn't sheer. Silk often is. Weak verbs: avoid the word "get" whenever possible. The sun was starting to get lower in the sky. Why not say: The sun was sinking lower in the sky? But I see improvement with every novel. So, I'll stick with the series.

There are ten books in the Jesse McDermott Caribbean Adventure Series, plus a spinoff series. Fallen Out was a prequel, written after Fallen Palm, Fallen Hunter, and Fallen Pride (4), and serves as a better introduction to the series than the original book one. Since most authors never list their serial books in order, the rest of the series is as follows: Fallen Mangrove (5), Fallen King, Fallen Honor, Fallen Tide, Fallen Angel, and Fallen Hero (10). Then the spinoff Charity Styles series begins with Merciless Charity. And with that, I'll leave you. Over and out.

No Place to Die (Murder in the Keys-Book #1)
Amateurish writing and plot ruins this book, August 22, 2017
Material girl Olivia and hot Todd run off to Key West for a romantic getaway. Instead of getting engaged, Todd winds up dead. She's the only suspect. Enter two bizarre dysfunctional families, corrupt business partners, ex-girlfriends bent on revenge, and an author who can't wrangle her storyline.

Add shallow repetitive sentences, improbable, and implausible events: no Miranda Act was read to Olivia, hospitals are careful about patient confidentiality. And odd turns of phrase (walked into the horse's mouth), weak verbs and nouns bolstered up with a plethora of superlatives, adverbs and adjectives. It's enough to murder the senses.

And then there's veracity of location. One reader noted that: "some of the story makes me wonder if the author has ever been there [Key West] herself." I had the very same thought when I read her Caribbean "Death By" series. It seems like she's writing her scenes by way of proxy with Google Maps and Yelp, doesn't it?

Sadly Skye's not a new writer, but an old hack. What I don't get is why she persists in her slovenly writing habits. You'd think that with so many books under her belt (more than a dozen), she'd either learn to craft a decent sentence, or at least keep her facts straight. Usually she's a good storyteller, and I like the locations, but her writing style is otherwise an insult to readers. I won't mention the epic plot fail in the closet.

Suffice to day, this book is even worse than any of Jaden Skye's 12 previous "Death By..." series. Poor plot, poor character development (Olivia's an idiot), weak sentence structure, poor vocabulary. There are far too many implausible events for the reader's suspension of disbelief to kick in. Deus et Machina resolves the storyline. Her writing is otherwise an insult to readers. Don't bother.

(I wrote a long, indepth review of this book only to have Amazon crash it as I was adding the title. I don't think I can resurrect it, but I was able to save one lone paragraph in the buffer. So this will have to do, as I've spent far too much time on it. Cut my losses.)

Great storyline, garbled writing, July 23, 2017
Author John Malloy spins an imaginative yarn, and often has a touch of the poet about him in his descriptive phrases and metaphors in An Auld Bed in Havana, but the sheer plenitude of typographical and syntactical errors in the novel, plunders the storyline. It's too much work to second-guess what the author intended in this clumsily written story. By Chapter 4, I was seething, and nearly gave up by Chapter 6, but I usually finish novels, no matter how painful the writing might be.

For starters, the author confuses your for you're, and their for there, and they're. Compound words are often split into two words: lap top, Face book, make shift, master piece, under ware (underwear). Wrong words: sown for sewn, thrust for trust; quite for quiet; in route for enroute. Bambino is Italian, not Spanish. Or wrong prepositions. Or random apostrophes: Caymen's, canvas's, and canvases in the same paragraph.

Odd sentences often have random placeholder words: "The surround around the lock having been..." or "I'll need a lot of know...." or "He took a swift sharp look of his eyes as he turned his head away..." or, "a pants," or "the "splendor of sexual carousel." Multiple sentences are cobbled together without benefit of comma or period, make for some surreal reading.

At first I assumed the odd speech acts had to do with the author's attempt at capturing dialect, but it isn't so, because we were priviy to the interior monologues to all the central characters, including the protagonist, Cormack, from Ireland, his love interest, Kathie. Kathie is a Cuban English professor, who uses odd English phrases, then uses ye, or describes herself as horny.

This novel reads like a first draft, not yet ready for publication; in need of both deep editing to iron out the storyline, and a cadre of copy-editors to make it palatable.

Honeymoon For One (Honeymoon Series Book 1)
Pedantic, repetitive, unimaginative cliffhanger, June 24, 2017
Pedantic, repetitive, unimaginative, clumsy writing makes this novella a mind-numbingly boring read. Characters are shallow and inane. And they psychoanalyze their every shallow move and thought. Writing itself is shallow. Typos. Wrong words. The sentences and scenes are not fleshed out. It reads like a draft or a synopsis. Nothing much happens. Author endlessly repeats herself, in case we have reader's amnesia and are incapable of carrying an idea down the road two pages later. Her writing is superficial, it stays on the surface. Locale was great. The cliffhanger element forces you to read Book Two preview just to get closure on the first story. I finished the story with gritted teeth. Irritated by the writer, and then insulted by the cliffhanger. Horrid. I will not be buying anything from this author, and am nuking it from my library as soon as I post this review.

Every Little Kiss (Kissed by the Bay Book 1)
Half drenched story, January 1, 2017
When Wendy Watts' grandmother died, she left Wendy a controlling interest in the Blue Moon Inn, with a codicil, that she had to sell the inn after running it for a month with her brother Brian. Wendy, a realtor in Sacramento, fled Blue Moon Bay, and hadn't been home in nine years. There was family karma to work through. Her free spirited parents had left Wendy and Brian on the grandmother's doorstep at the inn. Wendy reconnects with old friends, then meets Mr. Hot on the beach, who secretly wants to buy the inn and turn it into a high-rise hotel.

The plot and weaving of a mythic story about finding love by the bay worked well in this novel set in Half Moon, I mean Blue Moon Bay. It was campy to recognize the locale, I once helped friends sell jewelry at the Pumpkin Festival. But I wasn't sure of the author's intent to disguise Half Moon Bay, because she wanted it to sound like a beer brand?

I was stymied by the author's apparent lack of vocabulary and inability to write beyond the obvious cliché. Wendy's brother Brian (and father) had emerald green eyes. Did the author really need to use this cliché twice in one chapter? Within a dozen pages? Too much flabby language. The overuse of hot, smoking hot, hotter, hottie, hotness, ad nauseum. Get a new word already. I was sick of hearing about about the hotness of Mr. Hottie's hot bum. (If I use asp, I'll get censored by Amazon...)

Then there are the illogical bits: the protagonist is drenched (kissed by the bay) and she and Mr. Hot are going for an evening stroll? Brrr. The lovestory hinges on the realization of a folktale written by one of Wendy's ancestors... California wasn't explored by Yanks until the 1850s, or settled until the 1900s. Not exactly ancestor material.

Typos: the word realtor is not capitalized. And hippie is the correct spelling, not a hippy-fly-by-night, unless those were really large hips passing in the night. And there were more....

In this case you can judge this book by its daft cover of a model in a hot pink dress blowing a kiss. Another lost opportunity. A picture of the cove, done in blues, would've added to the story.

I sent this review in before midnight, as I was trying to get 25 review posted in 2016, and it didn't post until Jan 1... Amazon is terribly slow at times.

MoHurley's Amazon Book Reviews 2016
MoHurley's Amazon Book Reviews 2015
My Amazon Book Reviews 2014
My Amazon Book Reviews 2013

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