My Fragile Heart – A Bad Book Review – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by John Peragine

As the date of the launch of my novel, Max and the Spice Thieves, approaches I have been seeking and receiving reviews. Every time I see a new one in the mailbox, I cringe a little before opening it. I brace for the worst and hope for the best.

There is a certain amount of courage that is needed to send your “baby” out into the world, not only to be read but to be judged. On purpose, no less.

Before I was a full-time writer, I was a symphony musician. Since I was a boy, I played the flute and had many years of lessons and education. By the time it was performance time, I would have rehearsed with the orchestra for two or three weeks. As I sat down, I still worried about missing a cue or hitting a wrong note. As the piccolo player, there was no hiding in the orchestra. If I played at the wrong time or missed a passage, it was very obvious. 99.99 percent of the time, I played well, but it did little to help me reduce my stress for the next performance.

Sending a book out, and having someone read it, is my live performance. When I finished a piece with the orchestra, the conductor motioned with his hand, I stood up, and there was applause. When I type “The End,” there is no such applause or feedback, and so reviews take the place of the applause.

How To Protect Yourself

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Book Review – Frankly, My Dear by Don Manssenzio – From the Peatmore News Blog

This was a pleasant surprise to start my morning:

I have a particular fondness for private detective novels, particularly those set in the USA and this one proved to be no exception.  The detectives involved here are clearly a close knit family.  All seemed to be involved in this story to some extent, including the detective’s dog, but the chief protagonists are the private detective, Frank Rozzani and his lawyer partner, Jonesy.

The plot is a twist on the normal narrative for this type of story, in that the detectives are asked to represent a man who has been accused of abusing his girlfriend.  All the characters are believable, especially the villains.  Rossani and Jonesey are accomplished jazz musicians and a little of the action revolves around their music and the club where they play.  I am not familiar with the music titles or the work of the artists referred to in the novel but the author is clearly a Jazz aficionado.

The pace is fast moving with a number of twists and turns which is a prerequisite of the genre.  I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Keith Jahans

Published DSM Publications as
an ebook, paperback and audiobook

Check out the original post HERE

Warriors: The Forgotten Warrior (Omen Of The Stars 5) By Erin Hunter – From Rachel Poli’s Blog

Book Revew: Warriors: The Forgotten Warrior | Omen of the Stars | Erin Hunter | Book Blogger | Blogging | Reading Books |


With a divided StarClan driving a treacherous rift between the four warrior Clans, the spirits of the Dark Forest are gaining strength. Ivypool’s role as a spy becomes more dangerous with each passing day, and Dovewing is haunted by nightmares about the mountains.
Then an outsider appears in ThunderClan’s midst, spreading discord and pushing the Clans farther apart. As tensions mount and Clanmates turn against one another, the warrior cats will be forced to choose whose word they can trust–before it’s too late.

My Review:

Book Cover |

The book cover matches the rest of the series. It highlights a cat who’s important to the current book and series as a whole. I had guessed who the cat was on the front cover, even though that cat is no longer listed as one of the characters.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

The First Review Is In for Blood Match

blood match front coverWell, it’s release day. It’s been over a year since I released my last book and I’m a bit rusty. The initial review is in, however, and it seems that the book is off to a good start.

1st review

This is encouraging. The book has been finished for a while and, when I did a final edit after the beta and advance readers were done, I thought it looked okay.

If you haven’t picked up a copy, you can find it on Amazon by clicking HERE

Here is a blurb about the book:

You can check out the trailer on my YouTube channel by clicking HERE.

Intelligence analyst Jake Balrich boards his Monday morning flight, as he has so many times, for routine field work. When the plane lands, a passenger fails to wake up. Jake soon realizes that the death was not accidental and is part of a murderous plot that will have Jake running for his life as he struggles with an unknown enemy that seems to guess his every move.

Blood Match is a thriller that examines the desire for gaining power with little regard for the human lives that are affected.

Follow Jake Balrich, as he enlists the help of Commander Brad Rafferty, to take down an enemy more powerful and dangerous than the United States has ever faced.


Book Review – The Hat by C.S. Boyack

The HatGoodreads Synopsis:

Lizzie St. Laurent is dealing with many of the struggles of young life. She lost her grandmother, and her living arrangements. Her new roommate abandoned her, and she’s working multiple jobs just to keep her head above water.

She inherits an old hat from her grandmother’s estate, but it belonged to her grandfather. This is no ordinary hat, but a being from an alternate dimension. One with special powers.

Lizzie and the hat don’t exactly hit it off right away, but when her best friend’s newborn is kidnapped by a ring of baby traffickers, Lizzie turns to the hat for help. This leads her deep into her family history and a world she’s never known.

Lizzie gives up everything to rescue the babies. She loses her jobs, and may wind up in jail before it’s over. Along the way, she and the hat may have a new way of making ends meet.

Humorous and fun, The Hat is novella length. Wonderful escapism for an afternoon.

My Review:

I so enjoy reading anything written by C.S. Boyack. He has a talent for merging historical, supernatural, mystery and humorous genre elements in his writing. These elements are then woven into a seamless story that carries the reader late into the night saying, “Just one more chapter”.

The Hat is no exception to this. Think Thelma and Louise where Thelma is a landscaping waitress named Lizzie and Louise is a hat. It’s not just any kind of hat, however. It’s powers are magical, but also useful.

Told from the perspective of 20-something Lizzie, Boyack excels at telling the reader what she is experiencing with a sense of humor that masks underlying fluctuations between confidence and fear. Lizzie’s character is engaging, but so is that of the hat. Not since J.K. Rowling brought us the sorting hat in the Harry Potter series has a hat been so entertaining.

Boyack’s incarnation of the hat, however, has many talents. I won’t spoil the plot elements of the story here, but I will  say, If you read this novella, you will not be disappointed by any aspect of it except that it is over so quickly.

Boyack mentions that Lizzie and her hat companion might be worth bringing back at the end of the book in his notes. I second that thought enthusiastically.

So, a tip of the cap to C.S. Boyack for The Hat. I truly believe that his work is on the verge of discovery from a much larger reader market.

Review – John Howell’s Circumstances of Childhood

Circumstances of Childhood final front

Goodreads Blurb:

When a former pro football star and broadcaster, now a Wall Street maven is accused of insider trading, will he be able to prove his innocence and expose those who are guilty?

Greg and his boyhood pal dreamed of big success in professional football and then later in business. Greg was the only one to live the dream. Now the founder of an investment fund Greg is faced with a routine audit finding by the SEC. The audit points to irregularities and all the tracks lead to Greg. The justice department hits him with an indictment of 23 counts of fraud, money laundering, and insider trading. His firm goes bust, and Greg is on his own.

His best friend knows he is innocent but has been ordered under penalty of eternal damnation not to help.

If you enjoy stories of riches to rags, redemption, brotherly love, and a little of the paranormal, Circumstance of Childhood will keep you riveted.

My Review:

If John Grisham, Dean Koontz, and Dan Brown got together and decided to collaborate on a book, Circumstances of Childhood would be  the result. The book has three distinct components that John Howell blends together seamlessly.

First, there is the friendship that blossoms out of tragedy between Greg and Keith. This part of the book is reminiscent of John Grisham’s YA Theodore Boone series or Stephen King’s The Body (inspiration for the movie, Stand By Me). The book then transitions into more of a Dean Koontz vibe with some other-worldly interaction that is very poignant and fascinating. It then transitions into a fast-paced courtroom drama ala Grisham. This part of the book had me on the edge of my seat. This is then followed by some Dan Brown type computer forensics and good old-fashioned hacking intermingled with more spiritual aspects.

This is a well-rounded book that compelled me to write an email to John while sitting in the Atlanta airport reading the book to tell him I was enjoying it. I look forward to John’s next effort. This was a worthy follow-up to his John J. Cannon trilogy.

You can get more details on the book from John’s Fiction Favorites site.

Review – Panama by C.S. Boyack

23524386Goodreads Blurb:

Ethan and Coop are sent to the construction zone along the Panama Canal. They have some experience with strange phenomenon, but nothing prepared them for this.

They are faced with civil war, Carlist pretenders to the thrones of France and Spain, an invading Spanish army, and another from Hell itself. They’ll be lucky to survive, let alone take care of anything while they’re down there.

This story is based upon the construction of the canal, Panamanian independence, international cooperation, and a few celebrity cameos. Even the magic takes on an international flavor.

Ghosts and Voodoo are one thing, but they have no idea what waits along the isthmus.

My Review:

Taking historical fiction, paranormal, and steampunk and mixing them together in a book sounds ambitious. It is ambitious, but C.S. Boyack does it well and the result is an engaging page turner. I say this as someone who is not a fan of the genres mentioned, but I am a fan of this book.

The tale centers around two federal marshals, enlisted by the larger-than-life Teddy Roosevelt, to facilitate the construction of the Panama Canal by using their respective abilities.

The characters in this book are engaging and colorful in their unique ways. The backdrop and gadgetry in the story reminded me of the Wild, Wild West television show, one of my childhood favorites.

This is the fifth C.S. Boyack book that I have read and I am amazed at the depth of the writing in various genres. The writing is solid in all of them. The biggest compliment that I can give is that Boyack’s books make me forget about the genre or mixture of genres and I become invested in the characters and the story.

I highly recommend that you give this book, and others by C.S. Boyack, a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Anatomy of a Bad Review


Thumb up and down buttons

I’ve been blessed. I’ve written a number of books. I’ve been very fortunate. Readers that I don’t know have given my work reviews that have, in the vast majority, earned four or five stars.

That’s why, when I receive a bad review, I like to study it and figure out if there is something I can learn to improve my work.

Let Me Be Frank - CoverWhen I signed onto the Amazon author’s site, I saw this review for my second book, Let Me Be Frank:

bad review

I’ve redacted the name in this review. I didn’t want to make this post about the person who submitted the review, I wanted to make it a teaching moment.

First, I looked at the review. It’s titled ‘Boring’ and starts out with the words ‘too slow’. This is valid criticism for a book and sometimes, in a detective novel, the pacing can be a bit slow as the protagonist follows up on leads. Then, as I read further, the reader states that ‘…nothing remotely interesting happens’. Again, this could be valid based on this reader’s opinion. The next part is telling. the reader finishes with ‘I read up to 25% and all I got was chit-chat over and over’.

I went into the kindle app and saw at what point the reader abandoned hope of further action. Ironically, at 26% there is a gun battle with a character being killed. The reader was right that there was a lot of chit-chat (dialogue) in the book to that point as my protagonist (Frank Rozzani) and his partner (Jonesy) traveled the Gulf Coast looking for clues.

I’m sorry I lost this reader at that point. Detective novels are often a slow burn as evidence is laid out for the reader and they attempt to figure out who committed the crime along with the characters.

I decided to delve into this reviewers record with other books. What I found was interesting.

  • My book was one of many (the majority) of those that were reviewed that received 1-2 stars.
  • The reviewer read at least two series numbering 4-5 books each and gave every book in the series 1 or 2 stars. Why read three to four more books in a series if you didn’t like the first one?
  • When I did find a book that was given a five-star review, it was a book that received 30% of its reviews at a score of three stars or less and 60% at four stars or less.

So, what did I learn from this review. Nothing. The reader only read a small portion of the book and then gave feedback that I would consider valid for the genre. This reader missed out on the action that was just around the corner.

For a book that has received 92% of its reviews in the 4-5 star range, I give this review zero stars.

So, how about you? How do you handle reviews like this?

Review – The Enhanced League by C.S. Boyack

35626135Goodreads Synopsis:

The Enhanced league is a collection of short stories and anthems centered around a year in a fictional baseball league. It has a slight science fiction background. This league has a lot more pomp than you might be used to, and nobody seems to care if the players use performance enhancing drugs.

Stories involve existing heroes, up and comers, and falling stars. While there are the obvious stories that take place on the field of play, there are also human interest stories that take place around the baseball gyrations. These stories involve scouting, trades, ruthless business decisions, and even relationships.
Craig 25

My Review:

This book of short stories and snippets was an enjoyable read. I flew from Jacksonville to Chicago and, factoring in the Atlanta weather delays, I read the entire book on my trip. The pages flew by as if they were on steroids.

The theme of the book revolves around a fictional baseball league where anything goes in terms of steroids and technology. Boyack is masterful at weaving tales around this league from the point of view of a washed up conventional baseball player that gets a second chance, a group of female umpires and their struggles with gaining credibility despite exploitation in the league.

The thing that struck me the most was the author’s ability to write effective action during the baseball games. He had me on the edge of my seat pulling for the teams and players as I read his accounts of the games. Baseball is not the most action-packed sport, but the exciting moments are without parallel. I suspect that C.S. Boyack is a fan of the game as he narrated the snippets of action with loving detail.

This book reads like a loosely stitched together novel more than a collection of short stories. Throughout the book, Boyack pulls the stitching tighter and tighter until it all makes sense.

It was a great read that I was sorry to see end so quickly.

You can check out this book and more through C.S. Boyack’s blog HERE.