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How to Read My Reviews

All of my book reviews conform to a standard format and rating system, outlined here.

Book Title - The title of the book.
(Series) - If the book is part of a series, trilogy, or other larger universe, its location in that series is noted here.
Author(s) or Editor(s) - The person or persons responsible for writing the book. If there are two authors, the book is classified under the first one listed on the cover. If it is an anthology, the editor appears here. I also include illustrators for picture books.
Publisher - The publisher who printed (or distributed, in the cae of eBooks) the version reviewed. Older books sometimes appear under various publishers as rights change hands.
Genre - Nonfiction or Fiction, followed by the subgenre (fantasy, mystery, art, etc.) A YA indicates the book is a Children's/Young Adult title. (Some books seem to vary, depending on the bookstore; if I'm not sure, I'll add a YA? to show that I've seen it in Young Adult and in Adult sections.)
Rating - I use a 5-star system: 5 is "supremely excellent," and 1 is "mind-melting agony." A + indicates a half-star.
Amazon Link - If available, I'll provide a link to Amazon, so you can investigate further (and perhaps purchase your own copy.)

DESCRIPTION - A spoiler-free summary of the book's premise.
I also note if it's an eBook-exclusive title (not available in printed form) or a Kindle-exclusive title (only available on Amazon.)

REVIEW - Here, I review the book, trying to explain how I arrived at my rating. I go to reasonable lengths to avoid spoiling the plotline, just in case you want to give the book a try yourself. (Spoilers may be inevitable in series, unfortunately, but I do try.)

You might also enjoy:
Here, I link to other books (and occasionally DVDs or other products) which you might be interested in.

SAMPLE REVIEW: (Note: This is a made-up book!)
Average Joe and the Grey Day
(The Average Saga, Book 1)
A. U. Thor
Dead Tree Books
Fiction, YA Fantasy
****

DESCRIPTION:Joe Smith is an average high school freshman, living an average American life in average suburban California. Even his name is aggressively average. One weekend, he sees the school outcast, "Runty" Ruth, being chased by a group of strange teens into the dark old cave just outside town. Joe doesn't think much of it until Ruth doesn't show up for school on Monday... a day which dawns unusually grey. Over the week, the world around him grows somehow duller and duller - though Joe's the only one who seems to notice how the very color and life seems to be draining away from everything. Much as he'd like to go back to his ordinary life, he can't shake the feeling that something's amiss, and Ruth's disappearance somehow is involved. Finally, he decides to look for Ruth, just to set his mind at ease.
The moment he steps into the cavern, his average life is over. He's swept into Faraway, a fantastic world plagued by the spreading grey shadow of the demon Oblivius, who devours both life and death and leaves behind ashen wastes. "Average" may have got him by before, but it's going to take something quite a bit more if Joe hopes to survive, let alone escape.

REVIEW: This book kicks off the celebrated "Average Saga," which mocks the recent rash of cookie-cutter fantasy series while ironically becoming one itself. It starts out slowly, setting up Joe's ordinary life and giving hints to "Runty" Ruth's peculiarities in ways that make her uniqueness glaring to us readers. For instance, her slim build and insistence on wearing a big, ear-covering hat even in gym class would tip most people off to the fact that she may not be entirely human, but not Joe. Then again, his oblivious nature isn't too far off from today's society; like many kids I see, he spends most of his time in his own world, a cell phone on his ear and his mind only half on whatever he's supposed to be doing. Just when I was about to give up on Joe, he finally steps into the cave, and the story starts picking up. At first, he nearly has a panic attack when he realizes that his old faithful iPhone is so much deadweight (melted deadweight at that - evidently, Apple didn't test their products for resistance to dragon sneezes.) Once he realizes that there's more to life than texting, he comes into his own and becomes a hero worth reading about. The humor tends to be heavy handed, but once in a while generates a genuine laugh. I found the ending abrupt, even considering the fact that it's the start of a series. I also thought more could've come of the baby dragon subplot, which had surprising elements of depth beneath the superficial sillyness; from the looks of things, the rest of the series, not unlike Harry Potter, will grow successively darker and deeper as Joe heads further into the wilds of Faraway. All in all, this was a fun read, and should entertain its target audience.

You might also enjoy:
This Book isn't Real (Justin X. Ample, Nonfiction - A fascinating look at people who read reviews of imaginary books)
Tales of the Nonexistent (Notta Realbooke, YA Fiction - A teen heroine discovers that she and her world are mere figments of someone else's imagination)
Joe and the Legend of Faraway: The Average Saga (2010 movie DVD that also doesn't exist)

About Me

I'm a lazy beast, roughly resembling a human being, who happens to read books and own a website. Those are my only qualifications; I have no college education, nor do I work for a newspaper or publisher. (I do work for the local library, but hardly in a trained capacity.) My philosophy is that I shouldn't need to be told how to enjoy a book, no matter how old or popular or profound it may be; I either like it or dislike it, and in my reviews I attempt to explain why. My favored genre is fantasy, though depending on my mood and budget I'll try pretty much anything. Despite the fact that I'm an adult, I also find myself drawn to YA books, if only because I'm reasonably certain they won't degenerate into gorefests or orgies or Meaning of the Universe dissertations.

If you are an author and would like me to review your book, please contact me at the e-mail address below and I'll do my best to obtain a copy and review it. For eBooks, I own both a Kindle (eInk screen) and a Nook HD tablet (color.) I have a budget to consider, so I may or may not be able to get your book in a timely manner. Naturally, I cannot guarantee a good rating; I call them as I read them.

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