Tag Archives: book reviews

Margo Howard takes up New Republic’s anti-Amazon banner, disses Vine club for daring to review her

Author entitlement is a wonderful thing. Just by putting pen to paper, you can be forgiven for child abuse. Stalking. Abusing your readers. Grumpy-catting when you can’t get the recognition and validation you paid for. Especially in your own mind. Apparently it’s all part of that miraculous creative process.

So welcome Margo Howard as today’s star turn in authorial over-self-entitlement. (Is that a word? Sorry, English language, but it sure is an accurate description.) Aided and abetted, as these cases so often are, by a paranoid conspiracy theory – which is given added credence and visibility, in this instance, because it happens to coincide with someone else’s equally unhinged views on that monstrous devourer of all that is good and bright in the world: Amazon.

(Bear in mind, by the way, that Franklin Foer’s New Republic article has been torn to pieces not just by the lunatic fringe self-publishing fanatics, but by the Washington Post, among others. And naturally it’s the New Republic that’s kind enough to give Howard her air time on this issue.)

In her article “Amazon’s Elite Reviewing Club Sabotaged My Book,” Howard claims that the Amazon Vine Community … well … sabotaged her book by conspiring to review it. Badly. Now if as Howard states, she never even heard of the Vine Community prior to this, it’s hard to know how it could have had such a grave impact on the fortunes of her book. And also, since the reviews she mentions were pre-publication, it’s equally hard to know how much its performance could have been impacted by those reviews, with no sudden post-review downwards lurch in the numbers of copies sold. But why let logic get in the way of a good tantrum?

Howard’s not afraid to say that: “I was so distressed about this injustice that I looked up the list of Amazon’s board of directors. Great good luck, I happened to know two of them, so I pestered the one who was a lawyer, feeling all this slamming by the barely literate approached tortious interference.” So hold on: She’s attempting to bring legal pressure to bear on the board of a major book distributor to get bad reviews of her book removed? What exactly is that called?

The Passive Voice, linking to Howard’s article, has picked up a crop of comments from actual Vine reviewers. And as one of the commentators points out, “the Vine reviews are paid for by the publisher.” Oh, and Howard also happens to know a couple of Amazon directors: How does that make her a likely victim of a conspiracy? Jennifer Weiner is not exactly sympathetic either, and seems to be joining a fast-consolidating movement to elect Margo Howard Fairy Queen of the Special Snowflakes Club by acclamation. Elsewhere, she’s already being bracketed with child porn consumption apologist (oops … bestselling author…) John Grisham  and Kathleen Hale in “When Authors Go Off the Deep End.”

Seems like Howard has withered on the Vine. Thanks, New Republic, for helping share her problem so widely. Oh and incidentally, Franklin, she really helps validate your anti-Amazon case. Really really.

Quote of the day: “What happens when The Guardian lets an author gloat about stalking a blogger”

Plagiarism or not, second-hand reporting or not, I can’t do better than to simply repeat and link to the above headline. Here’s The Guardian, defender of free speech and woolly thinking, running in full the ruminations of author Kathleen Hale on how she tracked down the perpetrator of a one-star review of her book – to her real-world address, in person, face to face. Admittedly, The Guardian doesn’t take sides, simply giving the author’s account, without implied endorsement even in the subtitle. But commentators on the story soon did, both for and against.

A good many who weighed in on Kathleen Hale’s side did so on the grounds that bringing justice home to trolls is okay. Maybe so. But a one-star review in a public forum, no matter how biased or vitriolic, is trolling? Since when? Even if what then went on after that first review did stray into the realm of trolling, there’s no sign that Kathleen Hale’s supposed persecutor overstepped the bounds and tried to track Kathleen Hale down offline. Kathleen Hale did so apparently without hesitation. And along the way, she also apparently embraced the conspiracy theory of some Badly Behaving Authors blacklist, which supposedly exposes authors who retaliate against bad reviews to some kind of hate cult. And she doesn’t hesitate to equate her ostensible persecutor with “child molesters and serial killers.”

Kathleen Hale stokes the rhetoric around her actions with such allusions, as well as insisting on how “writing for a living means working in an industry where one’s success or failure hinges on the subjective reactions of an audience” and that there is a “career-destroying phase” of abusive reviewer behavior where they actually try to destroy the author’s career. Apparently this works by baiting the author into damaging responses – and even if that were so, it’s now an open question whether Kathleen Hale has done exactly that. Note, by the way, another personal account by Kathleen Hale here of her revenge attack, while a teenager, on a peer, involving pouring a bottle of hydrogen peroxide over her head. Brave author to admit to this, perhaps. But how does it look as validation for the kind of behavior described in The Guardian article?

Whether or not Kathleen Hale wrote in The Guardian as a personal account of how the internet made her descend into stalkerish behavior, I have no idea, but there’s certainly precious little sign of that in the piece itself. (And if anyone can point this out to me, I’d be grateful.) And many, many commentators, some very respected, have taken it simply as evidence that some authors suffer from such bad cases of over-entitlement and persecution mania that they feel justified in out-stalkering any online critic – and in the process, chilling the entire book reviewing and evaluating community. And furthermore, that many of the public are so hysterically exercised about the issue of cyber-bullying that they cannot tell the difference any more between bullying and fair comment – or even comment that is unfair, but still has to be tolerated in the name of free speech and privacy.

Well, here’s my suggestion. All you readers, why not look up Kathleen Hale’s books on Amazon or Goodreads and give them one-star reviews, with the simple but clear and explicit rubric: “Stalking by authors is not okay.” That might strike everyone as more of the same problem, or online frontier justice, or feeding her persecution complex. But it definitely forms a clear and transparent process for signaling to her, her publishers, and everyone else that … yes, you got the message … stalking by authors is not okay.

Book review: Love Is the Law, by Nick Mamatas, Dark Horse Books

Author, teacher of writing, anthologist, jokester, sometime radical, father-of-adorable-infant and allround nihilistic kid Nick Mamatas has written across genres and voices with wit, zip, and flair through “six and a half novels” and a slew of shorter works. He was even partly responsible for bringing Edge of Tomorrow to our screens by adapting the Japanese original of the story, All You Need Is Kill, into graphic novel form. Love Is the Law is his foray into something like neo-noir or crime fiction, but definitely with a genre-spinning twist that loops in occultism and some urban fantasy as well as far-left politics and gritty recent-historical fiction.

It’s 1989, and “Golden” Dawn Seigler, Long Island punk chick and devotee of Marxism, magick, and masochism, among other social vices, is out to unearth the truth behind the death of her (much older) mentor and fellatee Bernstein, himself a Marxist magus and a man of many mysterious connections, found with a bullet in his brain from a gun held in the wrong hand. She dives in to the morass of Long Island fringe society in her hunt, armed only with a freight of precocious Communism and Crowleyanity, and a barbed tongue (as well as a barbed ring). You can read more about the genesis of the novel in an interview here.

So Love Is the Law is a murder mystery, of sorts, and people do get done to death, in unexpected ways and for unexpected reasons, but there is a whole lot more going on here (including some very good writing). It mixes a great many themes and references deftly, without any of them overpowering the narrative. It’s very much an Eighties novel, but not remotely the big-hair-and-shoulder-pads Eighties that you still see in retro horror movie screenings (or at least, you do if you’re me). Dawn doesn’t feel remotely dated as a protagonist, not least because her Marxism gives her a different spin on the events of 1989 and because Mamatas can drop in numerous sly allusions about how things will evolve – or devolve – later. The prose and the pace is taut, edgy, and lean, with only the occasional longeur when Dawn’s inner monologue grows a little too dense and clotted. She may not always be the most likeable protagonist, but she’s not going to try anyone’s patience, not least with her style of repartee. Nor is such a brief but fast-paced novel going to outstay anyone’s welcome. And things do not end well – but in a noirish novel set in the Eighties, what else do you expect? Recommended.

TeleRead Rating: 4 e-readers out of 5

Virtual Unreality looks virtually imbecilic from the cover on in

This is a book non-review, because it’s in large part a review of a book cover. And I apologize unreservedly to any genuine worth in the contents that I may have traduced – but I won’t hold my breath. Because wouldn’t life be wonderful if every book cover in the world, physical or digital, told you unerringly that its contents were crap?  Plus, if you’re going to try to stoke a moral panic, you’d better make sure you get it right from the off, or you’re likely to wind up looking virtually ridiculous.

Virtual Unreality

I is a writer. I tries to be literate. And grammatic. And syntactical. So when I sees a sentence like “Just because the internet told you so, how do you know it’s true?” on a book cover, I knows that book have a problem. And so do the author, who presumably approved it. Beside the actually syntactic blooper, the blurb writers and designers couldn’t even copies the subtitle accurate. And the editors and marketing execs didn’t noticed.

Admittedly, this is a probably typonese translation of the subtitle of Virtual Unreality: Just Because the Internet Told You, How Do You Know It’s True? by Charles Seife. But I assume, drawing on my long and deep experience of the publishing industry, that there would have been book jacket design meetings, brainstormings, round-robins of emails with PDFs of the cover design, and every other kind of opportunity to pick up on that little betise. (If you don’t know the word, Google it – whatever Charles Seife says.) If that’s the level of care and attention that was paid to something as in-your-face and critical about this book, what does it tell you about the contents?

Then there’s the slight problem of Charles Seife’s Wikipedia entry. Now Wikipedia may have been caught out by intrusive hostile revisions in the past. But clearly something odd is going on when one’s Wikipedia bio kicks off by saying: “His first published book is Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea and is his most well-known book. In one review of this book, someone claims that Seife has contradicting information within the book as well as information that belittles the subject of the book as a whole.” Now if that was incorrect and slanderous, why didn’t Seife or his publisher pick up on this and revise the entry prior to Virtual Unreality‘s appearance? And two of the longest paragraphs in one of the weirdest and most lopsided Wikipedia bios I’ve read in ages are all about Seife’s reviews of specific other books. At the very least, Seife and the Viking publicity department look careless as hell in going to press with the writer’s key bio in this state.

All this suspect bizarrerie didn’t stop the New York Times from running a big and overall positive review of Virtual Unreality, which it lauds as “a talisman we gullible can wield in the hope that we won’t get fooled again.” Oops. This shouldn’t come as a big surprise while the NYT remains about as neutral as Nazi Germany when it comes to Amazon and the internet in general. Or if the NYT chimes in with “one of Mr. Seife’s bedrock themes … the Internet’s dismissal, for good and ill, of the concept of authority.” After all, authority is the NYT‘s stock in trade and value proposition. A pity about their choice of authority figures. But then, if their own journalists and editors remain as careless and clueless about basic syntax and background checking as Mr. Seife’s publishers, wonder any is it?

Book review: The New Black, edited by Richard Thomas, Dark House Press

The New Black from leading indie publisher Dark House Press brings together 20 tales in the burgeoning genre of neo-noir, characterized by Dark House’s materials as “a mixture of horror, crime, fantasy, science fiction, magical realism, the transgressive, and the grotesque all with a literary bent.” That definitely, and accurately, describes the contents of the anthology, and Richard Thomas’ s extremely detailed introduction goes about as far as anyone reasonably can in summarizing the genre’s essential qualities and leading practitioners. It also comes with an evocative foreword, “Eye of the Raven,” from Laird Barron, who could easily wear the neo-noir tag as well, though none of his stories are here.

Judging by this collection, children and childhood – or childhood innocence challenged or offered as contrast to dark developments – plays a significant part in neo-noir. The first four tales all feature either parent-child relationships or child protagonists, or both (though to my mind, the best childhood story in the book is Micaela Morrissette’s creepy take on the imaginary friend motif, “The Familiars”). Otherwise, the proportion of actual dark in the tales varies, and some of the most touching are not the ones with the most overtly fantastical or horrific content – take, for instance, Craig Davidson’s boxing story “Rust and Bone,” or Richard Lange’s tale of unexpected grace under extreme pressure, “Fuzzyland.” Nor are all of them necessarily gloomy or unsettling – Roy Kesey’s “Instituto” is one that succeeds with a slightly gentler tone. But of course, most are.

Which brings me to my problem with this collection – inconsistent quality. Some of the tales stick to you like glue: others don’t. This could be a fault of the variety and range of the stories, but I don’t think so. Maybe by trying to stretch the genre too wide, Thomas pulled in too disparate a clutch, but I think the problem is less one of focus than of consistency. Plus, judging by this collection, neo-noir doesn’t seem to be a genre that travels very far across U.S. borders – perhaps just about over the Rio Grande, but only rarely any further.

Anyway, that said, this could be purely a question of personal taste. And the best stories here are very good indeed, and you couldn’t go far wrong as a comprehensive introduction to neo-noir.

TeleRead Rating: 3.5 e-readers out of 5

Biblionasium: Where kids write book reviews

BiblionasiumDigital Book World has a great write-up about Biblionasium, a site I have not heard about until now which describes itself as a ‘Goodreads for Kids.’ They previously got around the whole ‘social media websites and children under 13′ privacy issues by limiting their young user’s review-writing options to selecting pre-fab options from a drop-down menu. But in response to requests from teachers and librarians, they have now opened up true review-writing abilities for users of all ages.

The write-up points out that the site does restrict these posting abilities so that parents and educators can pre-determine where this stuff gets shared. But it also remarks that kids really do listen to feedback from other kids when selecting their reading materials. Anecdotally, I can attest to this. One of the Grade 2 classrooms in my school has a bulletin board where students can post recommendations for other kids in the class. They have to list the name of the person they recommend it for, title of the book, the author and a reason why they are suggesting it. Some of the comments are surprisingly thoughtful. A sampling:

‘ Because you liked ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ and this book is sort of like that one.’

‘ Because you like fairies and this book has fairies in it.’

‘ You liked another book this author wrote so you might like this one too.’

‘ This book has pictures about dinosaurs, but also information about lots of dinosaurs.’

It was touchingly sweet; the kids were not merely suggesting books they liked, they were thinking about their friend’s personalities and interests, and really evaluating why that friend might like a particular title.

So, what about the privacy issue? To me, that is a non-starter. I think part of our role as technology educators is to teach them how to use social media responsibly; it’s there, and it’s futile to pretend it’s not. If we want to raise future adults who don’t bully authors on Facebook or post compromising photographs of their friends on Facebook, we have to start somewhere. A site like this, which offers structured and monitored options, is a good way to introduce children to posting online—and to develop a love of reading and some writing and literacy skills to boot. Bring it on, I say!

Review: French Reader Series by Yves Thibault

french reader seriesI found a great little series on the Kindle store that I think will really help me in my quest to read more French this year. I consider myself a high intermediate in reading (my spoken French is much more fluent) and while I can muddle through with a real book competently if somewhat slowly, I think my ability to improve via lessons has peaked. At this point, I will only improve via practice, practice practice!

Enter this great little series. Each book features three short stories written in modern, colloquial French. The stories are chunked so that English translations are interspersed between the paragraphs, rather than via appendix at the end (as the Delphi Classics people do) or via hyper-linked footnote. This means that on a screen the size of an iPad, you can see both the French and English versions on the same page!

I found this useful. I still get tripped up sometimes on the long compound verb tenses, and both my Kobo Glo and my Kindle tablet app do too. They translate the verb back to its infinitive, which I usually can figure out, instead of the tense, which is usually what I am not quite sure about. Having the English translation of the whole phrase is a crutch that is still helpful to me. I am hoping these books will help me grow out of that!

At about 3 bucks apiece, I felt the books were maybe a tiny bit over-priced given their brevity. A handful of freebies were in the range of 20-25 pages. But the books really are a useful little gimmick, and if I take my time and work through them thoroughly, I can probably make one last at least a week.

I’d also like to see a website where I could buy the whole lot of them in a bundle, but a Google search didn’t turn one up. So I guess we’ll see how long it takes me to work through the free ones. After that, I may have to violate my no-spending ban and pick up the rest of these. This is admittedly a niche ebook. But if it is YOUR niche, you’ll appreciate these books a lot.

UK snark awards celebrate Hatchet Job of the Year for harshest reviews

In a welcome sign that snark survives this side of the Herring Pond, UK book-lovers’ site The Omnivore has announced its latest Hatchet Job of the Year Award shortlist “for the writer of the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past twelve months.” And there are some wonderfully brutal, unsympathetic, attacks in line for the final award, which will be presented in early February, with the grand prize of “a year’s supply of potted shrimp.”

The Omnivore’s own manifesto for the Awards makes for some very interesting reading – not least for what it defends. “Newspaper book pages are on borrowed time. Readership is dwindling, review space is shrinking, reviewers are paid half what they were twenty years ago. The professional critic has yet to draw his last breath, but there’s no mistaking the death rattle,” it declares. “The chief cause of this sorry situation is, of course, the decline in newspaper readership. But plummeting circulation just makes it even more urgent for literary pages to prove they’re still relevant.” And also, as expected, “Hatchet Job of the Year is a crusade against dullness, deference and lazy thinking.”

Frederich Raphael, interestingly, both gives and gets in the Awards. Dismissed by Craig Brown in the Mail on Sunday as a writer “who peaked in the Seventies” and who celebrates ” a roll-call that begins with R for Raphael and ends, a little abruptly, with R for Raphael,” he himself disses beautifully in the Times Literary Supplement on John le Carré for his “mixed clichés, idiosyncratic phrases … and witless dialogue.”

My personal favorite is A.A. Gill in the Sunday Times on Morrissey’s autobiography: “laughably overwrought and overwritten, a litany of retrospective hurt and score-settling that reads like a cross between Madonna and Catherine Cookson … sometimes risible but mostly dull … There are many pop autobiographies that shouldn’t be written. Some to protect the unwary reader, and some to protect the author. In Morrissey’s case, he has managed both.” There’s some payback for all the whiny maudlin self-pitying songs he made me sit through.

The snark is alive and well and living in Soho, it seems. And all these hatchet jobs are guaranteed to be more entertaining and stimulating than the books they cover. Harsh.

Climate ebook titled ‘Cli-Fidelity’ exposes dangers of nuclear power grids

cli-fidelityAcross the Pond, in the UK, British novelist Peter Romilly recently released his second novel with a climate theme, this one titled [easyazon-link asin=”B00H7F33PA” locale=”us”]Cli-Fidelity[/easyazon-link]— and the punning title is worth the price of admission alone. It’s on Kindle and ready to read, he told me in a recent email.

While his first novel, titled 500 Parts Per Million, was about the dangers of climate change and global warming, and we’ve now reached the 400 PPM mark in regard to parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mother Earth, Cli-Fidelity is a cautionary tale about a nuclear reactor that’s underwater, tethered to the sea bed.

“It’s a tale of climate instability, a world where four people try to survive whatever the extreme weather throws at them,” Romilly said.

When I asked him how he came about choosing the winning title for his novel, Romilly said: “I thought long and hard about the book title, and kept coming back to the idea of having ‘cli’ (for climate) in it, because a major theme of the book is about trying to preserve climate stability. But I couldn’t think of anything suitable, then one day I thought of the following progression from the new literary genre called ‘cli-fi.’ So I settled on hi-fi, or hi-fidelity (as in sound quality), and felt that using ‘cli-fidelity’ (as in staying faithful to the goal of climate stability) would work well.”

In fact, the idea for the title is explained in the first chapter one by one of the main characters, a French professor, who says to some dinner guests one night: “Project Cli-Fidelite has been an outstanding success, and it’s helped France produce cheap, reliable energy and stay faithful to our policy of stabilizing the climate. Nuclear power generation emits no carbon dioxide, so no global warming. How many countries can say that?”

But not everyone believes the professor is going down the right road on this. Read the novel to find out how it ends.

The title is great title for a book, and sure to catch some media attention as well. Novels with punning titles can either work well or fall flat on their covers. Among my finds online I spotted:

[easyazon-link asin=”B002VNFN8I” locale=”us”]First Among Sequels[/easyazon-link]
by Jasper Fforde

[easyazon-link asin=”B006KDTLX8″ locale=”us”]We’ll Always Have Parrots[/easyazon-link]
by Donna Andrews

[easyazon-link asin=”B002WJM55K” locale=”us”]Sticks & Scones[/easyazon-link]
by Diane Mott Davidson

For more punning titles

Book Review: Undead & Unbound

Undead & Unbound: Unexpected Tales From Beyond the Grave, put together by the horror and dark fiction authors and serial anthologists Brian M. Sammons and David Conyers, is anything but your usual grab-bag of selfies from the zombie apocalypse that fill the horror aisles these days. No surprise when it comes from Chaosium Inc., a publishing house that won its stripes producing rulebooks for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game before expanding further into horror fiction. The various revenants and walkers in these 19 tales include some of the most outre and genuinely disturbing I’ve encountered lately, though inevitably one or two are more … ahem … pedestrian.

Not the actual zombie stories in this book, however, especially “A Personal Apocalypse” by Mercedes M. Yardley and “Romero 2.0″ by the anthologists, both of which pack their homage to the genre in alongside a really upsetting take on the now-customary zombie horror tropes. “In the House of Millions of Years” by John Goodrich explores the afterlife Egyptian style in ways The Mummy would scarcely dare dream of. Robert Neilson’s “Marionettes” is not exactly about the living dead but a living death that will linger long after the last page has been read. Frankenstein and his monster put in an appearance twice, though not in ways you would be used to. And Scott David Aniolowski’s “Mother Blood” introduces a creature you would probably rather have never learned about. There is some graveyard humor among the terror, but quite enough genuine horror for any ghoulish taste, no matter how gorged on dark things.

“We have strived for the new and the different and hopefully, shown that no matter how old the bones, new life can be found in them,” write the anthologists in their introduction. I’d say they succeeded.

Check it out for yourself: [easyazon-link asin=”1568823681″ locale=”us”]Undead & Unbound: Unexpected Tales From Beyond the Grave[/easyazon-link]

Wife of Amazon founder reviews “The Everything Store”

everything store

Editors Note: Both Susan Lulgjuraj and Joanna Cabot submitted stories on this topic, but each had a slightly different approach, so we’ll run them both. Be curious what you all think.

It turns not everyone is a fan.

Certainly Brad Stone has learned that this week when the BusinessWeek senior writer’s book was reviewed on Amazon by Mrs. Bezos herself.

The New York Times caught the review for “The Everything Store,” a book on Amazon and founder Jeff Bezos. MacKenzie Bezos titled her one-star review “I wanted to like this book,” but she obviously didn’t.

MacKenzie Bezos points to a mistake early in the book and then continues:

If this were an isolated example, it might not matter, but it’s not. Everywhere I can fact check from personal knowledge, I find way too many inaccuracies, and unfortunately that casts doubt over every episode in the book. Like two other reviewers here, Jonathan Leblang and Rick Dalzell, I have firsthand knowledge of many of the events. I worked for Jeff at D. E. Shaw, I was there when he wrote the business plan, and I worked with him and many others represented in the converted garage, the basement warehouse closet, the barbecue-scented offices, the Christmas-rush distribution centers, and the door-desk filled conference rooms in the early years of Amazon’s history. Jeff and I have been married for 20 years.

When I read the book (you can find my review here), I had the reaction that many people were going to finish this book with the same viewpoint as entering it. This book wasn’t going to change minds, and I don’t think it was meant to do that either. Specifically, I wrote: “point of view matters when it comes to Amazon.”

I don’t doubt in this case, it’s any different.

I actually didn’t feel that Stone tried to paint Bezos or Amazon in one light or another. I felt he took facts and anecdotes, relayed them to allow the reader to make their own decisions. That’s also the mindset I took while reading the book.

I certainly feel for MacKenzie Bezos. This is a man she has been with for more than 20 years. If you read things you know not to be true and also read things that don’t make your husband look good, you are going to naturally respond to that criticism. I thought her review was written well and she made good points that only someone in her position can make.

Getting facts wrong in a non-fiction story is a problem. People read non-fiction to get the story on a specific topic. In this case, Stone interviewed 300 people (although not Bezos himself) to tell the Amazon story up until now. The thought is he at least got something right.

I would like hear Jeff Bezos’ reaction next. Although, he may not have one anytime soon – or ever.

The New York Times had comment from Stone’s publisher:

Reagan Arthur, the publisher of Little, Brown, said in an email that Mr. Stone’s book was “scrupulously sourced and reported.” “’The Everything Store’ has been reviewed widely and praised for its even-handedness,” she said.

When Traditional Publishing Disappoints

This weekend, I read the final volume in a trilogy I had been reading throughout the year. I had been prepared for the disappointing ending by the groundswell of online rage about this book—the ending was a bit of a surprise, and not a pleasant one—so my response was a bit of a muted one. But my friends at GoodeReader were not as subdued, and their review was downright scathing.

But in her review, Mercy Pilkington makes a point that I thought was an interesting one. Overlooking for a moment the content of this particular book itself, she remarks that the sheer time it takes traditionally publishing to get a book to come to market can work against it: “In the time I’ve waited since first falling in love with Tris and Four and rooting for the factions and factionless alike, I’ve found twenty other authors that I like better, and just as many story lines and compelling characters to keep me entertained.”

I have noted in my own past reviews that the digital content trend has made me profoundly less patient than I used to be, so I see where she is coming from on this. I have 200 ebooks on my Kobo right now waiting to be read, and 10 times that many in my Calibre library. Project Gutenberg, Smashwords and Humble Bundle can all download directly to my Dropbox folder. I will never run out of books. So, if I am reading something and it isn’t working for me, it’s a lot easier than it used to be to bail on it.

In fact, that’s why I pretty much stopped writing reviews in the first place. I used to think I was doing some kind of public service by pointing readers toward the good books and warning them away from the bad ones. But now? Well, warning someone away from a bad one means I have to read it too. And I am just not interested in doing that anymore. Life is too short to read bad books. And with so many good ones available to me with the tap of a button, why should I have to? If I don’t like it, delete and next!

I did persevere and finish Veronica Roth’s much-maligned Allegiant because it was a trilogy, I had read the other two already, and I wanted to see how it ended. But the reviews are all true. The writing isn’t stellar, the plot is a little ponderous, the non-gloomy moments are few and far between and the ending is…disappointing. If this had been book 1 on the series—or even book 2—I would have bailed and moved on.

Editor’s Note: Just in case you’d like to test this yourself: [easyazon-link asin=”B00BD99JMW” locale=”us”]Allegiant (Divergent Trilogy)[/easyazon-link]