Not My Typo Thing

Typo, Typography, Font, Design, Art, Type, Style

Consider this an opinion poll – so let me know your thoughts in the comments!

I just finished an audiobook that I REALLY didn’t enjoy, so I’ll confess that I scoured the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads for inspiration for something nice to say about it.

I didn’t find anything to help me on that score…. pretty low ratings all round and even the good reviews seemed to just quote the synopsis or say things that I couldn’t agree with.

What I did find, however, was a lot of criticism that the book was more typo than actual story. For this reason, I’m glad I listened to the audio rather than reading the paper version as I probably wouldn’t have finished it otherwise (though this would have saved a good 7 hours of my life, so maybe not that glad).

What I’d like to know:

If you’re reading a published book, rather than a manuscript, and it’s full of typos and grammatical errors, do you include this in your review or even stop reading the book altogether?

The reason I ask is that someone in the Amazon review section wrote a 1 star review with a fairly reasonable argument, in my opinion. They weren’t being deliberately hurtful but stating facts, one of which being that the book was littered with errors.
Someone, and you have to wonder what their relationship is to the author, wrote a scathing reply to the reviewer along the lines of ‘only a petty reviewer would even mention typos’.

It was a bit meaner than that but that’s the thing I want to address- is it wrong to mention typos if it spoils your enjoyment of a book? Personally, I don’t think so – editing is an important part of publishing a novel, you have to be able to properly communicate the story you want to tell.

That said, I’m not too nitpicky about it. I’ll ignore a handful of typos, or let the author know they’re there if I feel it appropriate but I wouldn’t mention it in a review if it didn’t affect the reading experience.

 

What do you think?

 

Review: Give in to the Feeling by Sarah Zama

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Published by: Smashwords

5 stars

Synopsis:

Chicago 1924

When Susie dances with Blood in Simon’s speakeasy, she discovers there’s a new world beyond the things she owns and the things she’s allowed to do. Blood values her thoughts, her feelings and offers his respect for her as a person.
So different from the luxury Simon has offered her. The exciting club nights and the new freedom of dressing and doing as she pleases.

But Susie’s still Simon’s woman, and he won’t allow her to forget it.

Soon, Susie there might be more than two men fighting over her. As Blood and Simon confront each other, Susie sees the spirit world filter into her world and crack the reality she knows. And when she looks through the shards of the illusion she’s been living, Susie realises making a choice between the two will be more difficult than she has ever imagined.


Goodreads

Smashwords

Sarah Zama


**Thank you to the author for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

As a novella, the only complaint I can possibly come up with in regards to this book has to be the length – it was far too good to end so soon and it broke my heart! All is not lost though, the author assures me that she has some more work on the way.

The book is set in a 1920s Chicago speakeasy, a glamorous and atmospheric setting if ever there was one! Zama sets the scene fantastically and could honestly have just written the whole book just describing the bar to me and I would have lapped it up.

The main character, Susie, is a dancer at the bar and works for a man called Simon. He has given her everything she has today in exchange for her loyalty which she freely gives until the alluring stranger, Blood and his companion walks in one evening. Susie and Blood are immediately drawn to each other but things are never so simple when it’s a case of love at first sight.

As an avid reader of all things supernatural, it’s not often that I come across any mythology or ideas that are new to me but this definitely comes in that category. Though the author doesn’t go into detail about the true nature of the supernatural characters in this book, I’m pretty sure that this will be fully explained in her future works which I will most certainly be picking up.

Lady, Woman, Girl, Vintage, Face, 1920, Female

Sarah Zama is a fresh new talent in this paranormal romance field and definitely someone to watch out for! I would recommend this book for fans of paranormal romance and  1920s jazz theme.

Review: American Quartet (Fiona Fitzgerald Mysteries Book #1) by Warren Adler

Warren-Adler-American-Quartet cover4 stars

Synopsis:

Fiona Fitzgerald Mystery #1: Detective Fiona Fitzgerald is an unlikely force for justice in Washington D.C’s predominantly male police force. As a prominent senator’s daughter and top investigator in the homicide division of the Metropolitan Police Department, Fiona maneuvers between two vastly different worlds, moving quickly from opulent State galas to gritty crime scenes.

Born into the elite social circles of the nation’s capital, and with privileged access to what lurks behind the pristine façade of the political establishment, Fiona is determined to expose the chicanery buried under prim rose bushes and concealed within the highest echelons of the American political aristocracy.


When a string of inexplicable murders rocks the hallowed streets of central D.C., Detective Fitzgerald finds herself charging through the shadows of a mysterious conspiracy. Fiona’s reputation and career blunder, however, through an investigation with no leads. At the brink of her professional demise, an encounter with the eccentric yet charismatic Thaddeus Remington III at his museum-like mansion sends Fiona fluttering through a whirlwind of clues and revelations. Where once the desperate detective rummaged through traceless footsteps of a triple murderer, the key to solving her case is now whispered to her from the bloodstained graves of fallen Presidents.


Fiona stands ready with her unlikely yet determined partner Jefferson at her side. Her finger firmly on the trigger as an assassination plot, decades in the making, is about to change history.

 


 

Goodreads

Amazon


Thank you to Warren Adler and the Warren Adler Book Review Rewards Club for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book isn’t in my usual genre of choice, I tend to restrict my mystery novels to cozies and retro Agatha Christie but this author was highly recommended by a friend of mine with a trustworthy taste in literature so I jumped in line!

I don’t think that this book has been around quite long enough to be considered retro, though it was originally released in 1981 and at times does show its age – for example, the detective is doing some research using encyclopedias and a real life library (can you imagine such a thing?!). Not being familiar with Washington, I can’t be sure if the prejudices demonstrated within the police force in this book are still valid in this day and age or whether there has been a shift in the who-hates-whom dynamic but this doesn’t really effect the impact of the story.

This series follows the work of Fiona Fitzgerald, a female detective in the Washington homicide squad. She experiences so many barriers at work, not least the institutional sexism which got her her job but also keeps her from advancing.
The racial aspect of this story was fascinating as the majority of the police officers were black and less than fond of white officers, this was something I would have liked to read more of and am hopeful will be explored more fully as the series goes on.

Fiona is an interesting character. She has strong characteristics such as intelligence, stubbornness and dedication to her work but she also has a serious weakness when it comes to her taste in men. She accepts creepy neediness and neglect from her lover rather than being on her own, it takes the choice between him and her other love, her work, to open her eyes to his selfishness.

Bruce, said lover, was an absolute arse. I don’t usually take such a visceral dislike to a fictional character but BOY did I hate him. He was selfish and revolting but what made it so much worse was that he knew it and owned it.

Adler’s writing style is wonderful, the murder mystery part was well planned though not that mysterious – we knew who was responsible for the deaths and were taken along for the ride to see Fiona figure it out. What I found particularly fascinating was that this story took place in a world with which I am unfamiliar: Washington and its political intrigue.

 

Capitol, Washington, Dome, Congress, Government, Usa

My favourite part would have to be the world building and what I learnt about American politics and the dynamic within a police force so closely tied to the political system.
My one complaint about this novel was that the peripheral characters became a little confusing, without enough of a background for their identities to properly stick in my mind before moving on then reintroducing them.

If you’re a fan of David Baldacci or House of Cards, I think this is going to be the series for you!

 

 

 

 

What’s the Opposite of Diverse? Mainstream Publishing

One of the main things that I’ve learnt in the past year of book bloggery is that I read a pretty wide range of genres, written almost exclusively by straight, white people.

I haven’t specifically counted but I think there’s a pretty even split between male and female authors because I do enjoy a good paranormal romance where female authors seem to dominate.

My reads come from Twitter, Amazon recommendations, author requests and NetGalley for the most part and I choose my reads based on the cover and description (I never read the author bios because it has no impact on my choice to read a book or not).

What I mean by ‘Diversity’

In this context, I mean authors and characters who aren’t white, straight, cis, able bodied and British/American. I particularly love books from different cultures, featuring traditions that I couldn’t even imagine – I read a lot of fantasy and fiction, I know Middle Earth back to front but I couldn’t tell you about Thai national holidays or wedding traditions in Brazil.

What’s the problem?

The publishing industry employs almost exclusively white people, by all accounts. This has led to a discrepancy in the types of books being published and promoted by the heavy hitters, so the more diverse books seem to never see the light of day. If they’re being published at all, there seems to be a pretty lacklustre approach to promoting them to readers.

I personally feel cheated and a little bit creeped out that somewhere along the line, someone is deciding what kinds of books should be presented to me as a reader. It’s a VERY limited range of books too, so I’d like to offer a very wholehearted ‘fuck you’ to whoever is denying me the chance to choose my own books.

Why it matters

Reading is about learning. I learn something new about the human condition with every book I read, if every character I read about has similar life experiences to me then there’s a limit to what I can learn.

To put it bluntly, while gratuitously quoting Yoda:

Most of us fear what we don’t know and reading helps us to understand things in a nice safe environment (books don’t judge!).

Read the prejudice away!

What we can do about it

This is something that comes up a lot on the BookRiot podcast and what first had me thinking about this issue, first thinking and then grumbling.

There’s not a hell of a lot to be done until the publishing industry stops spoon feeding us whitewashed literature and it looks like that won’t happen until they at least start employing a more diverse workforce.

Until that day, we’re going to have to go hunting for these books and a lot of them will be self published with limited advertising reach…. so, that’s a pain in the ass.
If you’re anything like me, the books you read sort of fall in your path online with limited effort on your part but reading books in the ‘diverse’ category takes some actual work.

The things I’ve found lately to get me on the right path are:

Twitter hashtag #DiverseBookBloggers

Blog: Read Diverse Books

Podcast: Get Booked

Goodreads: Diversity in Fantasy and Science Fiction

 

What I’m going to do about it

As a straight white person, the only contribution I think I can make to this battle without being a patronising ass it spend, spend, spend.
I’m going to stop being lazy and if the publishing industry won’t put diverse books in my path, actively seek them out and promote the hell out of them (based on merit of course, positive discrimination doesn’t float my boat either).

 

What do you think we can actively do to change the way things are in the publishing industry, as readers and bloggers?

DNF Review: Don’t Be Such A Scientist by Randy Olson

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Publisher: Island Press

2 stars

Synopsis:

“You think too much!  You mother F@$#%&* think too much!  You’re nothing but an arrogant, pointy headed intellectual — I want you out of my classroom and off the premises in five minutes or I’m calling the police and having you arrested for trespassing.” —Hollywood acting teacher to Randy Olson, former-scientist


After nearly a decade on the defensive, the world of science is about to be restored to its rightful place.  But is the American public really ready for science?  And is the world of science ready for the American public?Scientists wear ragged clothes, forget to comb their hair, and speak in a language that even they don’t understand.  Or so people think. Most scientists don’t care how they are perceived, but in our media-dominated age, style points count.


Enter Randy Olson.  Fifteen years ago, Olson bid farewell to the science world and shipped off to Hollywood ready to change the world. With films like Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus (Tribeca ’06, Showtime) and Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy (Outfest ’08), he has tried to bridge the cultural divide that has too often left science on the outside looking in.


Now, in his first book, Olson, with a Harvard Ph.D. and formerly a tenured professor of marine biology at the University of New Hampshire, recounts the lessons from his own hilarious-and at times humiliating-evolution from science professor to Hollywood filmmaker.  In Don’t Be Such a Scientist, he shares the secrets of talking substance in an age of style. The key, he argues, is to stay true to the facts while tapping into something more primordial, more irrational, and ultimately more human.


In a book enlivened by a profane acting teacher who made Olson realize that “nobody wants to watch you think,” he offers up serious insights and poignant stories. You’ll laugh, you may cry, and as a communicator you’ll certainly learn the importance of not only knowing how to fulfill, but also how to arouse.


 

Goodreads

Amazon


**Thank you to the author and Netgalley for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

I only got 45% through this book so I can only review that much of it – the premise was excellent:

“Scientists are fact driven and poor at communicating, so the majority of their work, no matter how important and world changing, never sees the light of day to receive funding or change the world”

I have an undergrad degree in a biological science so I can say that from my experience, this is largely true. A lot of our lecturers were experts in their fields and were responsible for some major advancements and discoveries…. however, they were as boring as balls to listen to and learn from. Teaching is their deal with the devil to carry on doing the research they love and it comes across that way when you’re sat in front of them with your notebook.

This is all the first 45% of the book had to say. Scientists are boring and they should learn how to communicate better and stop boring people, possibly through the medium of cinema.

At 45% I was overcome with the irony that this author was falling for each and every pitfall he was criticising in his book. There were too many self indulgent anecdotes, far too many words for so basic a principle and my pet hate: repetition of ‘we’ll get to that in Chapter x’ instead of getting to the point right away.

The positives: the point made was spot on – science is responsible for most (if not all?) discoveries which can improve the quality of life on the planet, but it needs a little show biz to let the public and funding bodies know that they exist.

The concept ‘arouse and fulfil’ rang particularly true as a mode of communication, interest your target audience and make them start asking their own questions about your topic, then satisfy their curiosity rather than jamming data down their throats.

I wanted to finish this book but even skimming through the rest would have taken longer than I was prepared to spend to finish it.

 

 

Halfway Hunted (Halfway Witchy book 3) by Terry Maggert

302683285 stars

Synopsis:

Some Prey Bites Back.

Welcome to Halfway; where the waffles are golden, the moon is silver, and magic is just around every corner.
A century old curse is broken, releasing Exit Wainwright, an innocent man trapped alone in time.
Lost and in danger, he enlists Carlie, Gran, and their magic to find the warlock who sentenced him to a hundred years of darkness. The hunter becomes the hunted when Carlie’s spells awaken a cold-blooded killer intent on adding another pelt to their gruesome collection: hers.
But the killer has never been to Halfway before, where there are three unbreakable rules:


1. Don’t complain about the diner’s waffles.
2. Don’t break the laws of magic.
3. Never threaten a witch on her home turf.


Can Carlie solve an ancient crime, defeat a ruthless killer and save the love of her life from a vampire’s curse without burning the waffles?
Come hunt with Carlie, and answer the call of the wild.

 


Goodreads

Amazon


I love Carlie as a character and watching her grow as the series goes on is a real pleasure.

She’s grown a lot since the last book, she’s had her heart broken and lived the past year without the love of her life. I feel that this is a coming of age story in the making, Carlie and her Gran protect the town of Halfway from supernatural powers that seek to harm the residents. Carlie is becoming more independent as her powers grow and we can’t forget that her grandmother won’t be with her forever.  Eventually she will be the guardian of Halfway on her own, which is an interesting prospect.

My favourite thing about this book has to be Maggert’s writing style, he injects wit and an outstanding vocabulary into everything he writes. He gives Carlie a vibrant personality which also helps her cover up the real pain she’s been feeling since the loss of her giant Viking honeynbun, Wulfric, to the dark side.

‘He’s have to watch his back. Squirrels are sneaky. And mean. Basically, they’re adorable terrorists.’

Without giving away too much of the mystery, there are some nefarious Brits going around killing shapeshifters and storing their pelts. I’ve read of this premise in a few different books but it really strikes a chord with me every time.
As a species, we really are a bunch of bastards and if shapeshifters really did exist and I just know that there would be people who would hunt them for sport and provide some kind of bullshit argument as to why it was ok.

This book has seen Carlie grow in her power and make some very difficult choices about sacrifice and morality, for better or worse she has made her choices and there will be repercussions. The ending of this book is left on a bit of a cliffhanger regarding Carlie’s future but the author assures me that he’s working on the next installment so I’m hopeful I won’t lose my mind in the interval!

 

 

 

 

Review: Nina Is Not O.K. by Shappi Khorsandi

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Published by Ebury Press

5 stars

Synopsis:

Nina does not have a drinking problem. She likes a drink, sure. But what 17-year-old doesn’t?

Nina’s mum isn’t so sure. But she’s busy with her new husband and five year old Katie. And Nina’s almost an adult after all.

And if Nina sometimes wakes up with little memory of what happened the night before , then her friends are all too happy to fill in the blanks. Nina’s drunken exploits are the stuff of college legend.

But then one dark Sunday morning, even her friends can’t help piece together Saturday night. All Nina feels is a deep sense of shame, that something very bad has happened to her…


 

Goodreads

Amazon


**Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and author for a complimentary copy of this title in exchange for an honest review**

Well f* me, this was a good book. It was funny, heartbreaking, devastating and so very, very real.

Nina is a fantastic main character. She’s a likable girl with problems she isn’t equipped to deal with, she’s very self aware and recognises when she’s acting like a brat or behaving in a self destructive manner, even if she can’t stop herself. Not least, she recognises that her growing drinking problem is a survival mechanism which is the reason it spirals out of control so quickly over the course of her school term.

Shappi Khorsandi deals with such a range serious and taboo subjects with delicacy, subtlety and a wry humour which keeps this book out of the realms of the traumatic. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but this book covers loss, substance abuse, emotionally abusive relationships and all manner of domestic horrors that we all know happen but never discuss.

One of the most touching parts of this book is Nina’s relationship with her little 5 year old sister, Katie. She loves her little sister with all her heart and no matter how low she gets, her sister is the one thing that keeps her going – this is the kind of reality in life that doesn’t always make its way into books.

Nina’s drinking takes a more serious turn after she finds herself being kicked out of a nightclub while …. erm ….. going down on a bloke by the bar. She doesn’t remember much of that night after that point but she knows that she’s crossed a line, after that point she loses control and ends up seeking treatment when she realises quite how far she’s gone. The treatment involves rehab and AA meetings, where she meets other people with similar problems but it doesn’t become one of those tragedy porn scenarios where we indulge in reading about other people’s troubles, which really earned my respect.

Nina has had a crap time of things and is expected to manage her own life now she’s almost an adult but she deals with it all with a great sense of humour and capability when she’s sober. She’s wise beyond her years and is going to grow up to be an amazing woman, this book is about hoping she survives her way to that point.
Despite being a work of fiction, this feels unbelievably real and worked its way under my skin. I feel like I know Nina personally and her suffering had me in tears, even if she couldn’t even feel her own pain at the time.

The writing style is refreshing, funny and very easy to read. It’s visceral and  packs a hell of a punch: when Nina receives a nasty text message from one of her friends, I felt physically ill. I’m definitely keeping my eyes open for more work from Khorsandi, she’s on my watch list now!

I would recommend this book to anyone with eyeballs, especially older teens but I suppose I should warn you that it comes with some pretty traumatic subject matter, including sexual assault.