Category Archives: My Reviews

Saving Annabelle

Saving_AnnabelleThere is a new story available at Kindle just in time to fill the virtual stocking on your young reader’s Kindle device. Don’t have young readers? This story makes a wonderful gift to yourself for an extraordinary holiday read. Don’t miss out on Mary Cunningham’s newest Max and Maddie (Christmas) Adventure. Saving Annabelle is a delight to read.

Saving Annabelle

“Nothing says Christmas like uncovering your tree and dragging it up the basement stairs.”

Thoughts like this leave Maddie shaking her head about her family’s pre-decorated, artificial monstrosity.

When an invitation from another friend leads Maddie, and her best friend, Max, on a trip to an abandoned farm, to find a real tree, they end up back in time, smack-dab in the middle of the Civil War. When they discover a lost girl named Annabelle, Christmas takes on a whole new meaning.

Digital Photo Restoration by Deborah Collin (Review)

Digital Photo Restoration: What to Do and How to Do ItDigital Photo Restoration: What to Do and How to Do It by Deborah Collin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another excellent resource from Deborah Collin. This time, she is giving us the inside scoop on how to deal with photos and images when working on genealogy or any other projects. One of the biggest problems I have run across is figuring out how to restore old images that I have rescued from some evil box. In the past, I have tinkered, but could never quite figure out exactly how to make the outcome worth all the time I had invested in the image.

Ms. Collin gives solid and practical instructions on exactly what to do. I do not follow instructions well, but hers were clear enough that I actually understood them. Her insight into various graphic programs is excellent. I have learned of several new programs that just might save me from more gray hair.

As usual, Deborah Collin has written a book that is good enough to be worthwhile and still simple enoough for anyone to use. I especially like a writer who doesn’t feel the need to talk down to readers. I always feel like she is talking “to me” as she explains things and that makes learning easier.

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Tracing Your European Roots

Tracing_European_RootsTracing Your European Roots
By W. Daniel Quillen

I just finished reading this book and I can’t tell you how much it is going to help me. I have just begun researching my German ancestors and I was quite afraid of how I was going to figure it all out. W. Daniel Quillen’s book gave me exactly what I needed to get the ball rolling.I have read several of his other books on genealogy and as was the case with them, I found a wealth of solid usable information with enough humor and interesting facts about his family to keep me from getting bored.

One thing I have discovered about Mr. Quillen’s books is that once you’ve read one, you find all kinds of reasons to read the others. I have almost the entire set now and I refer back to them frequently when I need a refresher or a tip. ANother great thing about this series of books is that Quillen uses his actual experiences and results to make points and clarify sticky issues.

Tracing your Eurpoean Roots is an excellent guide for stepping out of the comfort zone (once again) and searching out those relatives from far off places.

Genealogy expert W. Daniel Quillen offers valuable tools and resources for anyone tracing their European ancestors.

The United States is largely a nation populated by people of European roots, and many do-it-yourself genealogists find themselves in need of scouring European records to find their ancestors. New to this edition is a section on tracing your Scottish ancestors. This volume of Quillen’s Essentials of Genealogy shows readers how to do their own research to uncover their European ancestry. This book will cover the following topics: · Where to find European records · How to access European records · How to use the Internet to help you in your search · Pitfalls and issues in obtaining European records · Research tips for England, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, and other European nations.

The Cloning of Solomon Hays: A Beginner’s Guide to Genealogy

Collins-Cloning

Click Cover to BUY for Kindle!

I wasn’t sure what to think when I decided to read this book. I have been tracing my roots for a very long time and I don’t seem to be learning anything. At least I wasn’t. I was also frustrated with books claiming to be help guides, but only touch on the most basic things and mostly irrelevant.

Since buying this book I have added an entire branch to my tree that had previously been tormenting me with its elusiveness.

Ms. Collins opened up doors for me regarding things I should have known, but didn’t. Her down to earth style of writing is more like having a pleasant conversation with her than reading a book. She gives you the facts, then backs it up with practical experience. She explains important things in a manner that any beginning tree climber can understand and offers useful information for people who have been at it for a while but need more guidance.

I didn’t find any slow spots and I even figured out how to highlight and bookmark on my Kindle so I could refer back to things. I think the best thing about this book is that it made learning fun and it had earned its retail price before I even got half way through.

I strongly encourage newbies and even others like me who have some skill under their belt, but need to fine tune it, to add this book to their library. I have read several other books on this subject that were so dry I could not even finish them. But this is going in my book log of favorites right along with my W. Daniel Quillen titles.

Thank you, Ms. Collins for a delightfully educational guidebook.

Color me a bad writer! Really?

Just found this little gem on the Internet. Good thing I have thick skin.

One-Quote Review: Thief of Hearts by Karen L. Syed

Posted on April 14, 2012 by 
Title: Thief of Hearts
Author: Karen L. Syed
Genre(s): Historical, Short Story
Publisher: Echelon Press, February 2012
Purchase: Amazon, free
Quick blurb: TSTL heroine + angsty kidnapper = amateur mess.
Grade: D
The difference between her present dilemma and what always miraculously happens in her dreams made her sad, and a little frightened.

It made me a little nauseous.

Bad review, bad person?

There is a discussion going on in one of the groups I belong to and my opinion on the subject seems quite different than that of many others participating. I have responded there several times, but I felt that it would be best if I moved my opinion off the group, so I wouldn’t just be keeping the argument going. The topic of discussion is whether or not 1 or 2 star reviews should be posted publicly, especially by other authors.

3-Star review

Many say no, because it is mean and humiliating. Okay, but my question is, if an author doesn’t want people to review their books honestly, should we really be worried about their feelings getting hurt? Of course we should, but there is the whole point that when you put yourself and your work out in the public and ask people what they think, you had better have thick enough skin to accept all the answers. It is unrealistic to think everyone will like your book.

I have been criticized repeatedly over the years for a 1-star review I posted of THE LOVELY BONES. Okay, I posted the review publicly so everyone has a right to point out their agreement or disagreement. So be it. Does it make me a bad person because I did not like this book and said so publicly? I didn’t rag on the author, I was not malicious or hurtful. I was honest in my opinion.

My review of The Lovely Bones

I have to admit to reading this book because of all the fuss. Everyone raved about how wonderful it was and so beautifully written, etc. I was very disappointed.

I found the voice of the main character to be contrived and out of character. I hated hearing the story being told by a child in an adult voice. It took away a lot of the emotional impact for me.

I think this could have been much better.

I think it is quite to the point and professional. No one has to like it, it is my opinion.

2-Star Review

Why would you bother to post a review of a book you read and then not be honest? The point of reviews is to help other readers have a better knowledge of what that book is about and what other readers think of it. What happens to the industry if everyone who reads a book either posts a positive review or no review at all, even if they did not like the book and had solid reasons for the dislike? The industry would become a shallow popularity contest…oh wait, it already has. I am furious when I buy a book that has gotten 25 5-star reviews claiming it to be the best book ever and then when I read it I discover that it is poorly edited, poorly constructed, dipping with multitudes of plotholes, and just plain bad. I feel cheated and mislead by each and every person who failed to point out even one of the problems. Now, I am the first to agree that even a poorly written book can be exciting and engaging, I have read many.  I simply tell fellow readers how much I loved the story, but to be prepared for lots of editorial issues. Honest, not cruel. But I certainly would not give it a 5-star review, even if I knew the author.

Bottom line is, a review is intended to serve a specific purpose, if the reviewers cannot be honest, then why bother, it just makes things icky for the rest of us.

One last note. This is for all you authors out there. If you are not willing to give an honest review and STAND BEHIND IT (this means posting it, whether good or bad) then do us all a favor and don’t review books by friends and other authors you know. This is just my personal request/opinion.

I would love to know what you all think of this, whether you agree with me or not. Please don’t hesitate to share your comments, this is a no judgment zone.

Open Letter to Amazon.com

Re: Amazon Reviews

Dear Mr. Bezos, et al,

I would like to take this opportunity to implore you to reconsider your decision to remove a number of reviews from your web site. I fully acknowledge that you, as the business, have a right to do as you see fit with your company. I would however, like to point out a few things to you regarding this new enforcement of a policy we were unaware existed.

By disallowing authors from posting reviews for books written by other authors, you are eliminating a huge venue for the promotion of the books you sell. As I am sure you are aware, for decades, publishing houses have relied on the “blurbs” of other authors to promote their books. This is common practice and should not play a role in the financial considerations of the “blurbing” author.

I hope you will reconsider your stance that authors are in competition with one another. This goes without saying, but with a few exceptions, authors have learned to co-exist peacefully without raking each other over the coals and trying to ruin one another.

Your determination that an author stands to gain financially in some manner when offering a review of another author’s book is simply befuddling. It’s a big industry and we deserve more credit than to be lumped in with the corporate moguls who are only in it for the money, no matter the cost to those they tromp on. I gain nothing by reviewing a book by Nora Roberts, except perhaps the knowledge that if I loved her latest book and say so, someone else will see my review on your site and buy that book to read.

I would also like to point out that there are by far more effective ways to handle some of the problems you have surely run up against in your review process. Instead of alienating us, why not incorporate some new aspects into the submission process. I would think that by allowing the reviewer to clearly state their relationship to the book (for example, a series of choices with radio buttons indicating this information):

  • Reader
  • Author
  • Publisher
  • Editor
  • Bookseller
  • Librarian

Other readers and potential consumers can decide on their own whether a certain review merits their consideration. I feel compelled to tell you that so many authors feel abused by Amazon.com with this enforcement of the “no competition review” rule. As it stands now, you are not only alienating publishers, editors, and authors, but also booksellers, as they are the ones who truly stand to gain financially by posting favorable or over-exaggerated reviews. How will you weed out their reviews?

On behalf of multi-purpose readers worldwide, please reconsider your actions and give some thought to simply allowing people to say how they feel, no matter who they are.

With respect,
Karen Syed
Multi-purpose reader