Jan 13 2013

Giving Your Own Book A Five Star Rating Is Just Outlandish

Posted by Mathias

Some people have no shame.  I see it all the time with authors who give their own book a “5 star” rating on Goodreads and other, similar sites.

And the worst part about it is that they aren’t even shy about it.  They plop it up there and are almost so proud that they are beaming with joy over their actions.

Does any author really not like their own work?  If they don’t, they why are they publishing it?  It is sort of implied that, when an author publishes a book, they think it is a great story that other people should read.  But to advertise this by giving it a rating in such a bold manner is, frankly, outlandish behaviour that to me borders on narcissism.   Especially when you consider how willing other people are to give even average works five stars whether for free, for a little quid pro quo, or even for money. (more…)

Oct 30 2012

Quick Ways To Lose Valuable Trust

Posted by Mathias

Selling books is just like selling any other product.  First you have to have something to sell.  Then, you have to convince people to buy it.

One way to convince people to buy your book, or any product for that matter, is to establish trust with your potential readers.  Trust is valuable.  It is so valuable, that it should be guarded as though it were the most precious thing in the world.  Give your potential readers a reason to distrust you, and you may find it hard to ever sell another book.  Or, at least sell enough books to make writing worth your time.

There are some really quick ways to loose trust.  But, in our zest to sell our product, we might not even realize that we are doing them.  That is dangerous.  So let’s look at some of the ways we lose our reader’s trust, shall we?

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Jun 20 2012

Why It Is Ok To Dislike A Movie But Not A Book

Posted by Mathias

Ever notice that you can say a bad movie was a bad movie, but you cannot even call a mediocre book mediocre? If you’ve ever posted an opinion online about such things, you certainly have!

It is a weird quirk of the universe I suppose. Talk about how the recent remake of Conan was poor or how John Carter just didn’t do it for you, and you can get a lot of nods of agreement. People might disagree with you, but they don’t get violently angry about it and start calling you names.

But dare to not rate The Hunger Games (the book not the movie) as anything less than five stars or talk about what you found fault with another novel you recently invested time in, not saying you hated it, jus that you didn’t “love” it, and people jump down your throat. (more…)

Jun 18 2012

Submit a book review!

Posted by Mathias

Have you written a review of a fantasy or sci-fi book?  I’m willing to consider publishing it.

PLEASE!  SERIOUS REVIEWS ONLY!  If the write up is nothing except you gushing with repeated OMGS, endless praise for how it the novel was “the best book ever!!!!” or, on the other side of the spectrum, needless bashing, I don’t want it.

What did you like?  What didn’t you like?  What were the strengths?  Were there any weaknesses?  Be honest, not a kiss ass or jack ass.

If you have a blog, twitter account, facebook page, etc I’ll give you a link back to you sites.  Within reason of course.  I’m not going to link to 10 different pages and profiles!  So let’s keep the links back to three or less ok?

I am especially interested in helping to promote independent and self-published authors.

Authors, please don’t review your own books and submit them!  Please!  I’m begging you NOT to do this.  But if you know someone that read it and like it, then by all means encourage them to submit a review to me at [email protected]

I am not promising that I will publish all reviews I recieve, simply soliciting them.  Nor am I saying they will go up within a minute, an hour or even a few days of them hitting my inbox.  What I am saying is that I will consider them if you want to submit them.

And in case anyone is wondering, no, I WON’T hold you to my stringent grading standards for books whereby almost nothing gets five stars.  You can have your own opinion on that matter.

Posted in Book Reviews | 1 Comment
Jun 07 2012

The Deadly Sin Of Not Giving A Book A Five Star Rating

Posted by Mathias

There are seven commonly recognized deadly sins.  They include wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.  But there is also an eighth deadly sin so cardinal that is often over looked.  That sin is daring to say that a book is not “5 star” quality.

Yep, it is true.  Honesty is not looked upon kindly in the world of book reviews.  In that world, glowing, five star praise painting every novel written as the next best thing since Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkein or C.S. Lewis put pen to paper is the order of the day.  If you give a hedged four-star review while heaping praise, you can usually avoid most ofthe inevitable aftermath.  But, dare to give a book three-stars or less and you better be ready for scorn to be heaped upon you and the personal attacks to ensue.

When I said that Ian Irvine’s latest fantasy novel Vengeance, The Tainted Realm Vol 1 was only worth three-stars saying it read “like I was in the middle of a Tuesday night AD&D session” and it was not for anyone with “discriminating tastes in epic fantasy” it was on.  I received angry emails calling me a “worthless piece of s**t” and accusing me of “being jealous that I could never write such a wonderfully contrived novel as Mr. Irvine does time and time again.”  Well, excuse me for having an opinion.  Excuse me for thinking the book was mediocre.

Even when I recently posted my review of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, which I gave four out of five stars, I was not immune from attacks.  While I recommended the book, I also said that some things disappointed me such as the “simplistic prose”, its predictability and the fact that the basic premise was not very original even if the story details themselves were.  That caused fans of the book to unleash upon me because I did not think it was worthy of five star praise like they did.  Again, sorry for having an opinion that you did not like I suppose.  Please note that I did give it four stars.  Geesh!

It is an odd thing to experience, especially as an aspiring writer seeking publication.  One person upset with my review of The Hunger Games whined at me in a long, meandering email, “How would you like it if someone called something you wrote ‘simplistic and predictable’ and did not give it five stars?”  Well, honestly, as long as they are being honest and not vindictive or just a generally ignorant ass?  Then I do not care.  Opinions are, as they say, like butt holes.  Everyone has them.

I’m not one to toss around five-star ratings for anything, least of all books.  I’ve only ever thought that three books I have ever read deserved such an honor: Bram Stokers’s Dracula, C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.  Sorry.  That’s my opinion.  Others have come close, but none has quite hit those heights.

I’m honest.  If you do not like it, don’t visit my site any more.  It is still a free country.

Mar 27 2012

How I Rate Books I Read And Review

Posted by Mathias

Ok, so I get a really snarky email last night from someone that was not at all pleased with my review of Ian Irvine’s latest book Vengeance. I gave that book three of five stars which is a rating of average. But this upset person, obviously a fan of Mr. Irvine’s work, claimed that I gave the book a poor rating.

No, if I had given it none or one stars THAT would have been a poor rating. See, on a five star scale, three is average. That means I thought Vengeance was an average fantasy novel. I gave it that rating because of its many faults which I discussed in the review. To get more than an average review, a story has to really inspire me to give it such a lofty rating. To give you an idea as to what would it take to get higher than three stars? Well, Kristen Britain’s Green Rider got three and a half stars from me and The Alchemist got four stars which is one of the highest ratings I have ever given a story.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, The Executioness, the companion to The Alchemist, rated a fairly miserable two stars in my book.

It takes a lot to get me to rate a story higher than four stars. But three stars does not mean the story was bad. I see on a lot of sites like Amazon with reviews of books with people who are apparently very eager to give clearly mediocre books “five star” praise for some reason. Almost every darn book has a host of praise proclaiming it essentially the greatest story ever written. I usually ignore these glowing reviews by people that have obviously not critically read the story they are reviewing. And logic tells us that not every book can be “five stars”. Yet there are the reviews and averages ranging up in the 4.5+ star range for so many books.

I believe that I give the book a fair shake. Three stars, like I said, is an average representation of literature. The book is neither great nor horrid when it gets such a rating. It means that the author told a story and that story was conveyed in an average fashion. The story did not make me jump for joy nor did it so repulse me that I want to have the memory of having read it surgically removed from my mind. Don’t get upset with me because I did not go gaga for your favorite author’s latest release. If you really think his or her book is five stars and among the best books ever written then more power to you. I just rarely see a book that I would consider elevating to such a lofty standard.

And lest you think otherwise, I don’t even hold my own stories that I am working on among those high standards. I am not that delusional.

Mar 25 2012

Book Review: The Alchemist And The Executioness

Posted by Mathias

Warning! May Contain Spoilers!

The Alchemist And The Executioness is two stories by two authors which share the same world. As such, I have reviewed the two portions of this story separately.

The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Alchemist is a story which follows a beleaguered Alchemist who, after years of failure and financial ruin, discovers a way to destroy the menacing bramble that is plaguing the world and closing in around Khaim.  Magic, forbidden except by those approved of by the local mayor brings bramble, a dangerous plant which poisons those who become entangled by it.  Instead he learns that his invention is going to be used to discover who is violating the ban on magic use using the same principles by which it destroys the terrible plant.

This story is told from a first person perspective and normally I do not like such stories.  However The Alchemist is a delightful read and a surprisingly compelling story with good plot twists which, even though half-expected, are still well incorporated.  The Alchemist is one of those stories that shows you do not need to have action after action after yet more action to have a compelling story.  This story is mostly low key but still well told.

I give The Alchemist four out of five stars and highly recommend it.  The thing I did not like about this story is that I felt it was incomplete and when you read it you will know what I mean.

   

The Executioness By: Tobias S. Buckell

No mincing of words from me on this one. For as much as I loved The Alchemist portion of this story, I absolutely hated The Executioness.   Again, told from a first person point of view, The Executioness exemplifies everything I normally hate about the way these types of stories are told.  The text is droning, like a journal told as it is being written and never gets started while skipping and hoping through the story of Tana as she tries to avenge her boys who are kidnapped by raiders.  The story was just not believable and it was a struggle to complete.

It seemed like there was so little story to tell that the author was compelled to skip forward in leaps and bounds to simply get to the end, and that was anti-climatic to say the least.

I do not recommend The Executioness at all and give it just two out of five stars