Category Archives: book review

Three Books at Once

No, this isn’t some kind of multiple-book book review.  This is an ungodly silly claim that I can actually read three books at once.  Silly, but true.

Now I don’t claim to be a three-armed mutant with six eyes or anything.  And I am relatively sure I only have one brain.  But, remember, I was a school teacher who could successfully maintain a lesson thread through discussions that were supposed to be about a story by Mark Twain, but ventured off to the left into whether or not donuts were really invented by a guy who piloted a ship and stuck his pastries on the handles of the ships’ wheel, thus making the first donut holes, and then got briefly lost in the woods of a discussion about whether or not there were pirates on the Mississippi River, and who Jean Lafitte really was, and why he was not the barefoot pirate who stole Cap’n Crunch’s cereal, but finally got to the point of what the story was really trying to say.  (How’s that for mastery of the compound sentence?)  (Oh, so you could better?  Really?  You were in my class once, weren’t you.)  I am quite capable of tracking more than one plot at the same time.  And I am not slavishly devoted to finishing one book before I pick up the next.

I like reading things the way I eat a Sunday dinner… a little meatloaf is followed by a fork-full of mashed potatoes, then back to meat, and some green peas after that…  until the whole plate is clean.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is the meatloaf.  I have read it before, just as I have probably had more meatloaf in my Iowegian/Texican  lifetime than any other meat dish.  It’s pretty much a middle-America thing.  And Treasure Island is the second book I ever read.  So you can understand how easy a re-read would be.  I am reading it mostly while I am sitting in the high school parking lot waiting to pick up the Princess after school is out.

fbofw1Lynn Johnston’s For Better or Worse is also an old friend.  I used to read it in the newspaper practically every day.  I watched those kids grow up and have adventures almost as if they were members of my own family.  So the mashed potatoes part of the meal is easy to digest too.

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So that brings me to the green peas.  Green peas are good for you.  They are filled with niacin and folic acid and other green stuff that makes you healthier, even though when the green peas get mashed a bit and mix together with the potatoes, they look like boogers, and when you are a kid, you really can’t be sure.  Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter wrote this book The Long War together.  And while I love everything Terry Pratchett does, including the book he wrote with Neil Gaiman, I am having a hard time getting into this one.  Parts of it seem disjointed and hard to follow, at least at the beginning.  It takes work to choke down some of it.  Peas and potatoes and boogers, you know.

But this isn’t the first time I have ever read multiple books at the same time.  In fact, I don’t remember the last time I finished a book and the next one wasn’t at least halfway finished too.  So it can be done.  Even by sane people.

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The Literate but Illogical Introvert (Part 2)

I claim to be a literate individual. But, of course, before they let you teach English Language Arts to seventh graders, you have to prove it. They want you to prove you can handle a classroom, and not only can read and write, but can teach seventh graders to do it too… at least to a minimum competency level. After all, the English language in the hands of a hormonal personality-bomb otherwise known as a seventh grade boy or a seventh grade girl, it is a potential weapon of mass destruction.

I set out to become more than merely competently literate in high school. Even then, I wanted to read all the best books ever written and learn to write like that too. In fact, I set myself a quest when I was a junior in high school taking Mr. Sorum’s version of the novel-reading class set out by the Iowa State Board of Education’s curriculum guide as The Modern Novel, a quest to find and read the greatest novel ever written. I started in that class with Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.

But that fit too easily into the “Modern Novel” thing since it was written in the 60’s and I was reading it in the 70’s. I had to be more illogical than that. So, I also found a book on the Scholastic Book Order form called The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy and read that. It was not exactly a modern novel having been written in the 1870’s and was actually a 96-year-old book when I read it. And it was a tragic love story where everybody ends up married to the wrong person and true love was thwarted up until the chapter where there are multiple drownings. I, of course, fell in love with the Reddleman, Diggory Venn (Reddlemen go from farm to farm dipping sheep in the reddle to kill ticks and fleas) who is covered head to toe in red dye from dipping sheep. He is the humble soul who loves the good girl that the bad man wants to marry even though he’s actually in love with the bad woman who wants to marry Clym Yoebright (the returning native of the title) for his family fortune so she can escape the hated heath country. I realized from the first chapter onward that I was supposed to identify with Clym as the main character. But, illogical introvert that I am (and that Diggory also is) I had to identify with the humble Mr. Venn. And guess what? Diggory not only saves Clym from drowning as he lets the bad man and the bad woman visit Neptune the hard way, he also gets to marry the good girl in the end.

Goofy choice for a great book, right? But it is a great book. It is about people who love drama in their lives and live for the wrong things in life getting what they probably deserve while the plodders and reddlemen get the real rewards in the end. Victorian hooberglob, sure… but good hooberglob with vivid characters, an oppressive setting, and a darkly comic look at love, repressed love, evil love, and just plain love in the end.

But I couldn’t go on thinking forever that The Return of the Native was the best novel ever written. I would go on to read some very good Hemingway, some x-rated Heinlein, and a couple of dog stories before I finished that class. (I definitely read more novels than anyone else in that class as most of them were making their book reports from the blurbs on the back of the book and the part they hide inside the front cover rather than actually reading a whole book.)

But then, as a freshman in college, I was introduced to Saul Bellow.

Good god! Why had they been keeping this writer a secret from me?

Humboldt’s Gift was the book we read and discussed in class. It was written the year before we read it and it both won Bellow a Pulitzer and helped him win the Novel Prize for Literature the year after I read and studied it. It is the story of a friendship between writers. The narrator, Charlie Citrine and the Humboldt poet from the title get to know each other in a friendship that spans the decades between the 1930’s and the middle of the 1970’s. But it also convinced me that most great writers and the books they write that become great books are totally obsessed with sex and death. Charlie is mourning in the story about his latest divorce, his new love that his last love is keeping him separated from, the death in an airplane crash of his love before the lady he just divorced, and his own obsession with his own death.

Yes, sex and death. Lesson learned about great books.

And I learned all those lessons again in a book I found at the university book store by Bellow and read on my own. Henderson the Rain King is about a rich and socially powerful man who is seeking the meaning of life and totally dissatisfied with everything he has discovered so far.

He goes on a trip to Africa complete with guide and tourist group only to take off on his own when he gets there, hiring a native guide, visiting a native village, lifting a gigantic stone statue of a god, and accidentally becoming the official Rain King of the Wirari tribe. He then goes into a long period of philosophical discussion with the tribal king, pokes around at learning the meaning of life from an African point of view, and then goes on a lion hunt with the king wherein the king is killed by the lion, making Henderson the new king, the next step up from tribal Rain King.

And then there was William Faulkner.

Yes, the drunken postal clerk who wrote some of what may be the best novels ever written.

Make that some of the best super-wordy novels ever written, long paragraphs and all.

I have read more Faulkner than just The Sound and the Fury. But this is the first Faulkner I read as part of an American Literature class in grad school.

The title of this book is based on the Shakespeare quote from MacBeth’s soliloquy. “…It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury… signifying nothing.” So, this writer can poke fun at himself.

The three main characters of the book, the Compson brothers, are three very different viewpoint characters that take the swirling toilet bowl of stream-of-consciousness narratives about life in Mississippi and show us how meaningless and pointless our lives are. Benjy is the mentally handicapped brother who barely understands anything about the world around him. Jason is the hot-headed brother working in a farm-supply store and constantly fuming about money and class struggles. Quentin is the lucky brother who gets to go to college and mess up his life on a bigger stage than the other two. Caddy is the sister that all three talk and think about, especially when it comes to the tragedy of what actually happens to her. Everything is one big joke to Faulkner, as demonstrated by the scene in the end of the story where Jason (symbolizing Fury) is beating the snot out of his loudly squalling brother Benjy (the Sound.) It almost seems like the entire story is one big set-up for that one final sight-gag.

I have to say, I considered all of these books as potentially the best novel ever written. But none of these were the final choice. And the four books that I intended to add to this discussion weren’t the final choice either, so I had no trouble editing them out as this essay is way too long already. But the fact that I read and loved these books is basically proof that the reading part of being literate I have down. I’ll bet, if you have read this far, that you haven’t read any of these classics. But I don’t bet money. And you probably didn’t even read this far into a big-windy essay like this one. It doesn’t matter. These books exist. I love them. And I am glad I made them part of my little introverted and totally perverted world.

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Bad, Bad Mickey

My writing has generated some bad reviews of late. Things I am not sure have very much validity, but are a part of public opinion you have to learn to live with. I recognize as an experienced public school teacher, there are always going to be people who automatically hate you for no reason, and will be motivated enough to find a reason, and even get you fired if they can.

The critics are not going to get me fired in this case, since I am a retired school teacher and no longer teaching. And I live on a pension, not the money I make on my novels (currently between $2.50 and $5.00 a month) so getting them banned from Amazon has no financial consequences.

My book The Baby Werewolf got a two-star review from a lady who claimed to have worked in publishing and editing. She said she hated to give a bad review, but my book was so unprofessional and bad that she had no choice but to recommend that nobody else ever reads it. She said it had too much telling rather than showing, an unprofessional cover, and a story that doesn’t have a coherent plot.

But she also says that my book, a horror comedy, is too creepy. And she qualifies that in that she thinks it’s creepy in ways that a horror story shouldn’t be creepy. She objects to humor involving Sherry Cobble, the nudist character. She says that she has no problem with the idea of nudism, just the way I use it.

So, I think, what it boils down to is she is not so much shaming the novel for being a bad novel, but she is saying that I, as the author, am either too stupid to effectively write a novel like this, or that I am a bad person with evil motives for writing a novel like this. So, she got me! Curses! Foiled again!

I do take note of the fact that this novel has also gotten glowing reviews from some other readers. So, I guess my evil plan worked on them. Whatever that evil plan was supposed to gain me, it must be working more often than it is foiled.

That happened again this week with my novel The Wizard in His Keep. It is due to get a two-star review via Pubby review exchange. I don’t know what the reviewer has found so offensive and wrong about my book, but it must be pretty serious in that Amazon has not yet approved that review after almost a week.

I have a fair amount of confidence as a writer. I have written things that won awards from editors. I have made the final round of judging in a novel-writing contest twice in the last decade. Whatever bad thing they are going to throw at me next, I can take it. There are no writers, even the great ones, that don’t get at least some unfair criticism. It can really hurt when the bad review is one of only eight total reviews. And bad reviews can make me depressed. But, I promise it won’t kill me.

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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

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Some books come along telling a story that has to be taken seriously in ways that don’t make sense in any normal way.  The Alchemist is one of those books.

What is an alchemist, after all?

An alchemist uses the medieval forms of the art of chemistry to transmute things, one thing becoming another thing.

Coelho in this book is himself an alchemist of ideas.  He uses this book to transmute one idea into another until he digs deep enough into the pile of ideas to finally transmute words into wisdom.

There is a great deal of wisdom in this book, and I can actually share some of it here without spoiling the story.

Here are a few gemstones of wisdom from the Alchemist’s treasure chest;

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting…” (p.13)

“It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary; only wise men are able to understand them.” (p.17)

“All things are one.  And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”  (p.24)

“And when he had gone only a short distance, he realized that, while they were erecting the stall, one of them had spoken Arabic and the other Spanish.    And they had understood each other perfectly well.  There must be a language that doesn’t depend on words, the boy thought.” (p.45)

All of these quotes from the book, as you can see, come from the first third of the book.  There are many more treasures to be found in this book.  I should not share them with you here.  Just as the main character of the story learns, you have to do the work for yourself.  But this book is not only an enjoyable read, but a map for how you can execute your own journey towards your “Personal Legend”.  In fact, you may find that the book tells you not only how to go about making a dream come true, but, if you are already on that journey successfully, it tells you what things you are already doing right.

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The Surprise of Sudden Glowing Reviews

I returned from my trip to Iowa to attend my mother’s funeral to find a Twitter friend has given me a few glowing reviews on books I was not expecting to earn any reviews at all with.

Gerardo Cisneros is a nudist from Twitter who not only reads and enjoys my nudist-related stories, but my other books, including YA novels as well.

Gerardo Cisneros-S.@gcs_nudista Nudist since 1996, founding and former Board Member of the Federación Nudista de México, A.C.; AANR member since 2000. #NormalisingNaturism#NormalizingNaturism

He retweets my Twitter blatherings and promotions and does a lot to help promote my work. The review on Catch a Falling Star was really unexpected. That book, still under contract with I-Universe, is over-priced even in e-book form. Gerardo does a better job of promoting my work than the I-Universe publicists that I had to pay for their work ever did.

Amazingly he even read these two books in their proper sequence, a thing no one else has ever done despite a few of my books having sequels and companion books.

He even read and reviewed the messy first novel I ever completed while still being a teacher in deep South Texas.

Horatio T. Dogg, Super Sleuth is the novella I most recently published.

I write novels because it allows me to deal with the deepest, darkest things in my life. I have trauma as a sexual assault victim from my childhood. I have lost loved ones. I have been a long-time teacher of middle-school-aged kids. Some of whom I grew to love deeply with only the most proper of teacher-child connections possible. I have lost some kids that I loved to violence, accidents, suicide, and one to AIDS. I have been on the dark doorstep of suicidal thoughts more than once myself. I have been broke and broken and bankrupt and mortified. And all of that makes me write novels with humor, imagination, poignance, and love. I have labored hard to turn darkness into light.

And it all becomes worth it when I connect with a reader and give them something of myself that brings a smile to their face. Or a truly heartfelt tear to their eye, because that can be a beautiful, artful thing too.

Gerardo CIsneros, Ted Bun, and other Twitter nudists have done more to fulfill my purpose in life than even my other literary Twitter friends and publishing acquaintances. I am blessed with wonderful readers.

https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Beyer/e/B00DL1X14C/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

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In Praise of Louis L’Amour

L'AmourBantam50Aniv

This man was my Grandpa Aldrich’s favorite author.  Grandpa had ridden the range in the Dakotas in the 1920’s and early 30’s.  He was basically an Iowa farmer for his whole life, but he rode horseback on the plains just long enough to become addicted vicariously to the life L’Amour so vividly describes in his many western novels.

Grandpa read every Louis L’Amour book the Rowan library had.  He read a few more besides.  And I have no idea how many he read twice, three times, or more.  For the last decade of his life, he did very little sleeping, being used to two hours of actual sleep a night, and spending the rest of the time reading westerns while he rested.

This reading addiction is not only one that I understand, but share.  I, too, love the westerns, the heroes, the manly and poetic prose, and the sheer story-telling ability of Louis L’Amour.  I have not yet read every single book he wrote while he was alive.  But I am working on it.

Recently I reread the book The Daybreakers, a critical cog in the story-cycle of the Sackett family.  Here is my review from Goodreads of the third time I read this book.

Goodreads

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The Daybreakers 
by

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Michael Beyer‘s review

Jul 01, 2018  ·  edit
it was amazing


This book is as much a hero’s journey as Star Wars. In some ways it is more complex. And in many ways it is a better story.
Louis L’Amour is a master storyteller. He created the narrator hero, Tyrel Sackett, as a young Luke Skywalker. His natural Force abilities are those qualities which make him a competent Westerner and a powerful gunfighter. His brother Orrin Sackett takes the Han Solo role from rogue pilot to New Mexico Sheriff and eventual congressman. Jonathan Pritts is the evil Emperor. He wants to take over the Mexican land grant belonging to the Alvarado family (Princess Leiah’s family on Alderaan). (Drusilla Alvarado is the Princess Leiah character). Ironically, Tom Sunday is a reverse Darth Vader. He befriends Tye, teaches him to read and how to be a good cattleman. And then he later turns on the Sackett family because of a wrong he feels from Orrin. The confrontation between Tye and his dark-side father figure is inevitable.
The writer abilities I see in the author deserve a much more detailed analysis than I can write here, but I loved this great American novel and strongly recommend it.

We have lost Louis L’Amour.  He will never write another book.  Which gives me a chance to read everything he wrote.  But he writes so well, and is such an important part of American literature, that is only the smallest of consolations.

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The Rules for Reviews

I just got the first review for the last book I’ve published. Cissy Moonskipper’s Travels, book #20, a science fiction novella, has actually been read and evaluated by somebody who wasn’t me. I am tickled blue to get a good review. I don’t see any reason mentioned why it was given four stars and not five. But four is a good review, and I am not totally convinced that I am the second coming of Saul Bellow… not totally convinced. Maybe I shouldn’t be arbitrarily lumped into the same star-category as Faulkner and Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Mark Twain. But I have noticed that a lot of not-so-great reviews are heavily influenced in their judgements by whatever the first reviewer said, and the number of stars they bedazzled me with.

As an Indie author with self-published books, I realize the importance of having people read and respond to your books. Especially when you can’t get a beta-reader you know to look at a manuscript before publication. My sisters don’t read my novels even after I publish them (and give them a gift copy and ask them specifically to read them.) And my wife is a fellow English teacher, so she wants to dissolve the book conversations into arguments about spelling and usage and points where my ideas diverge from her fundamentalist religious beliefs. So, I rely on strangers, some of them apparently semi-literate but highly opinionated, to tell me how they received my books. My source of validation for what I spend so much time doing is dependent wholly upon Amazon, Goodreads, and Pubby reviews. (Pubby is an authors’ review exchange where I earn reviews from other authors in return for my own books being reviewed by them through giving them the best reviews I can muster on their sometimes brilliant but often awful works of literature.)

It is all a matter of opinions. I give them my onions. They give me theirs. And, no, that isn’t a spelling or word-choice error in spite of what my wife probably is going to tell you when she tracks you down for reading this article.

The thing about putting Onions in the stew of reviews, is the way they can easily overpower the entire flavor. You must have a recipe, rules for the use of Onions in the stew.

I honestly don’t expect every reviewer to follow the recipe I use. That’s why I offer these rules only as a guide to how I do a book review.

Rule #1

I always look to give the book the best possible rating I can justify giving it. Therefore, there will always be a reason or multiple reasons given for how I rate the book.

Rule #2

Spelling errors or other minor proofreading or editing errors don’t lower the rating unless they make critical parts or lines in the book incomprehensible. (A five-star book may have such errors noted in the review even if it is otherwise perfect.)

Rule #3

I will not reveal important plot points or cause any spoilers to appear in the review, though I will talk about character-creation, world-building, inconsistencies of plot or character development, or other factors the author got wrong which mess up reader comprehension or basic interest in the story.

Rule #4

Comments are limited to praise or constructive criticisms. I have no wish to ruin the author’s perception of himself or herself even if they are literally a bad writer. Books too foul to do that with, I simply do not review. (And, unfortunately some of those do exist.)

I wish every “honest” reviewer would use these same rules. But they don’t. One Pubby reviewer reviewed my book Recipes for Gingerbread Children, a book about an old German woman who survived the Holocaust and dealt with it by telling fairy stories to children in Iowa in the 1970’s, and said about it, “This book has some really great recipes.”

The bum earned points for a five-star review on a book he not only didn’t read, he didn’t even look at the description on the Amazon page he had to go to to leave a review. Amazon has since removed that review.

  • Here’s what a good fiction book has to do to get a five-star review from me;
  • The lead sentences and paragraphs need to grab my attention, and hold it by telling me who this story is about, what they want or are pursuing, and what they fear most will halt them or harm them.
  • The characters have to be well-developed. I must like them even if they are bad people in some ways, and it is up to the author to make me like them.
  • The story must be well-paced, moving me forward through it because I want to read it, not because I have to read it. Surprises that make sense help. But the story can’t become boring.
  • The ending must be satisfying in some way. It can leave me hanging, but there has to be an identifiable conclusion. The book needs to feel like it has reached an end.

The reality behind all this blathering about rules I will never get all reviewers to adhere to is that I, as a retired English teacher, am not only a teacher, I am a writing teacher. I will be one even after I die and become a ghost writer. So, deal with it.

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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

71000

Some books come along telling a story that has to be taken seriously in ways that don’t make sense in any normal way.  The Alchemist is one of those books.

What is an alchemist, after all?

An alchemist uses the medieval forms of the art of chemistry to transmute things, one thing becoming another thing.

Coelho in this book is himself an alchemist of ideas.  He uses this book to transmute one idea into another until he digs deep enough into the pile of ideas to finally transmute words into wisdom.

There is a great deal of wisdom in this book, and I can actually share some of it here without spoiling the story.

Here are a few gemstones of wisdom from the Alchemist’s treasure chest;

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting…” (p.13)

“It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary; only wise men are able to understand them.” (p.17)

“All things are one.  And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”  (p.24)

“And when he had gone only a short distance, he realized that, while they were erecting the stall, one of them had spoken Arabic and the other Spanish.    And they had understood each other perfectly well.  There must be a language that doesn’t depend on words, the boy thought.” (p.45)

All of these quotes from the book, as you can see, come from the first third of the book.  There are many more treasures to be found in this book.  I should not share them with you here.  Just as the main character of the story learns, you have to do the work for yourself.  But this book is not only an enjoyable read, but a map for how you can execute your own journey towards your “Personal Legend”.  In fact, you may find that the book tells you not only how to go about making a dream come true, but, if you are already on that journey successfully, it tells you what things you are already doing right.

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Father’s Violin (a Pubby review)

One of the most important functions of the Pubby review exchange and other similar review groups is to give some readership to new and deserving books. Especially now during this time of self-published books by the millions, we need to have a way to winnow out the wheat from the chaff. And believe me, there is a lot of chaff out there. (I know that I have warned you before that if I say, “Believe me” in an essay, I am probably lying. But I have read and can testify to some horribly bad and stunningly terrible works of fiction out there. And some of those authors believe their horrible stories are actually great works of art.) And in the Indie Book Industry now, there is a dire need for gate-keeping. Particularly, there is a dire need for someone to identify the good books hidden in the piles of the… um, other stuff.

Father’s Violin is an excellent book needing to be discovered by the reading world. It is a young adult novel that, having worked with young readers for most of four decades, I can guarantee you will appeal to the more intelligent and empathetic readers among them. There is an About the Book section at the end that specifically ties the events of the book to factual accounts of events in Berlin during and immediately after World War II.

Here’s the actual review I posted on Goodreads and Amazon for Pubby;

This is a very moving piece of Young Adult literature. It does make me a little uncomfortable by using a narrative done entirely in the present tense even though it uses numerous flashbacks, but it does a masterful job of painting a picture for the reader of the tragic lives led by orphans in the aftermath of World War II Germany. The setting is well-researched and brings out accurate details like the Nazis’ kidnapping of Aryan-looking children to be raised as future Nazis. But the thing that won my heart was the scene where Hertz plays Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major in the ruined theater on his father’s violin. This is masterful storytelling with vivid characters that you have to root for even when they are forced to experience terrible things. A really great book. You must read it.

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Pubby Reviews

I know that today is supposed to be about novel writing. But once the book is published, the author has to promote it in hopes that it gets read, especially by literate people. Pubby is a review-exchange service that allows you to review other authors’ works in exchange for points that you can then spend on getting books reviewed by other Pubby-participating authors. Sometimes the result is not so good. There are authors out there who really need to go school more before publishing their vanity projects. And some may be capable writers who are really terrible reviewers. But it can also work well. https://app.pubby.co/

Here is an example of a review I did for Pubby and posted both on Goodreads and Amazon;

The Epic Book of World War II Heroes

by Chili Mac Books I really liked it, 4 of 5 stars

This is a well-researched and very entertaining book. The narrator has a voice that seems very authentic and soldier-like. I would give it five stars except for the fact that it needs some serious editing. The author warns us from the start that the language could seem crude, but that is part of being authentic. It is the grammatical errors, confusion of pronouns and their antecedents, incorrect word choice, and metaphors that run too long that make the book hard to understand at key moments in the action. A good editor could turn this book into an excellent high-interest book for middle-school students, especially boys who are otherwise reluctant readers.

So, here is the review I got for Sing Sad Songs with the points I had earned for my reviews. SS1967 apparently uses a number instead of his/her real name.

Top reviews from the United States (Amazon)

SS19675.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Narrative on The Power of Being Unafraid to Feel Your Emotions, Even the Difficult Ones

Reviewed in the United States on May 28, 2021Verified Purchase

Sing Sad Songs, despite the sad narrative elements, is really a book about the celebration of feeling your emotions. It’s about discovering the freedom, and love that is waiting on the other of feeling difficult emotions, despite how hard it might be. The main character, comes from a past of true tragedy, and loss. In order to navigate the emotional waters in front of him, he transmutes his feelings into songs expressing the specific emotions he encounters. It is these songs that not only help pave the way to a new life for him, but help him find resolution within himself about his past, and how he wants to live his life.

The pros are very descriptive, and the story almost reads like a song itself in how it meanders, and explores moods in different settings. A beautiful book for parents unafraid of exploring the reality of difficult emotions with their kids.

Here’s another Pubby review I did on a very short novella, or possibly even short story by C.S. Jones, Overload

Michael Beyer5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!

Reviewed in the United States on May 27, 2021Verified Purchase

This short story is like a punch in the gut. It hits hard with considerable force. The author’s command of detail, carefully crafted paragraphs so well done they come across as effortless, and well-built psychological tension all give this short story a power that is rare even among great works of literature. There is a stark realism to this story that suggests either extensive research or personal experience. I am impressed. I recommend.

This review was on Amazon only because, apparently, Goodreads doesn’t allow short stories to count as books, while Amazon allows scads of them.

Here’s the second most recent review from a Pubby reviewer, this time on my novel, The Baby Werewolf. Laura uses her first name only on her reviews.

Laura5.0 out of 5 stars succeeds on multiple levels

Reviewed in the United States on May 24, 2021Verified Purchase

I really liked this strange little novel. It is a very fast read, but also layered so it would be as good the second time through as the first. There’s an entertaining mix of reality, fantasy and the often off-kilter perspective of an inexperienced teen. The writing is well edited and proofed, the pacing is tight and effective, and the characters endearing.

This review of Pubby and how it is working for me really focusses on the positives. There are negatives too. You have only 4 days to review a book. And we are not all speed readers. Some reviews are done only on the first half of the book And some reviewers don’t read the book at all. They fake a review based on the prior-existing reviews. Some can’t even do that well. The verified purchase notation on the review means you had to pay $1 to $5 for the Kindle e-book. That, over time, makes for loads of expense to the reviewer. And you don’t make back what you put into that. Verified Purchase reviews count more than regular responses. If you get a bad one, it hurts your average even more than a good one helps it.

All in all, I have enjoyed participating in Pubby. But it is work. And it is definitely expensive in time, effort, and money.

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