Wednesday, May 20, 2015


I've blogged about reviews before, but I'm doing it again. Some people say they never read reviews. That's unfortunate because reviews serve several useful purposes. They're a means of discovering what is new in the book market. They save money by giving readers a glimpse of both the subject matter and the quality of a book so people can make an informed decision concerning purchasing the book. They alert readers to a favorite author's newest release, they serve as a heads up concerning objectionable language, the presence of explicit sex or violence, and alert buyers to the general price of the book and sometimes to where the book can be purchased and in which formats it's available. 

Reviews are generally written with readers in mind, but authors can benefit from thoughtful reviews as well. A review will usually point out areas where the novel excels and in which areas it could be improved. 

Many readers like to share their enjoyment of a book on sites such as face book, Amazon or their own blogs. This is great and a benefit to both readers and writers. Unfortunately there are trolls writing reviews as well as legitimate readers and reviewers. These people get some kind of sick pleasure out of trashing books or poking fun of them. On the other hand I know a reviewer who gives every book five stars and a glowing review no matter what, which isn't helpful either. 

Here are a few suggestions for readers reading reviews. First, be aware of the difference between reviewers who write for a legitimate publication and those who just slap comments on a social page. Professional reviewers may not be as kind as your mom, but will usually give a pretty fair idea of what to expect from a book you may be considering.  Keep a list of bloggers, social page writers, and friends you can depend on to give honest critiques of the books they read. Ignore the rest. 

And here's a little advice for writers. Don't argue with a review. No matter how awful and unfair you feel a review may be it's best to ignore a bad review except to use it to improve the next book if any of the criticism is valid. It's okay to use positive reviews to promote your book, but be sure to credit the review author and the publication. Don't assume your book didn't get reviewed because the reviewer didn't like it. Reviewers receive huge numbers of books and there are many reasons for not reviewing a particular  one; such as already reviewed book or books on that topic recently, reviewed too many books by that particular author in too short a time, doesn't fit the particular publication's policy criteria, etc. 

For nearly fourteen years I've been reviewing adult level LDS novels for Meridian Magazine, a job I love. From a personal point of view, I find LDS authors are getting better and better and I thoroughly enjoy reading most of the books sent to me for consideration. There are some books, even though written by an LDS author, I don't review such as horror, occult, sexually explicit, profanity laced, or books critical of LDS doctrine. I also don't review children's or young adult novels. I do review books from established LDS presses, new publishers, national press, and self publishers in paper format or kindle e-reader format. Both marketing managers and authors are welcome to send books to me for possible review. (Contact me by instant messenger to get my mailing address.)   

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Not "Where's Waldo?" but "Where's Lynn?"

That's a legitimate question since I have missed my last two times blogging. Where have I been? All across America and with family! My first missed deadline we were entertaining hubby's sister and her husband from Idaho for a few days. It always amazes me that having company for only a few days can so totally disrupt the daily schedule it takes over a week to catch up on everything!

Then I did something I've never done before. One of my granddaughters was graduating from Southern Utah University the 1st of May and her family is living in South Carolina. This daughter, Nikki, simply cannot fly - motion sickness you wouldn't believe and anxiety attacks as soon as she enters the cabin. So she flew her husband and younger two daughters to Utah from South Carolina and decided to drive across country herself. I have another daughter in Louisiana Nikki asked to go with her, but wasn't sure it was actually going to happen, so she asked if I'd like to fly out and drive back West with her. This was a unique opportunity to spend one on one time with a daughter that is always hugely busy with her family and usually across country somewhere so I jumped at the chance.

As it turned out, the Louisiana daughter, Lorraine, was able to make it, so I was blessed to cross America with two daughters that I normally don't get to spend a lot of time with.

But we had a series of small miracles before we ever reached Louisiana that were incredibly testimony strengthening. Nikki and I left South Carolina Sunday afternoon after their church and choir practice and drove 5 hours to Montgomery, Alabama. The next morning I spelled her at driving and was three hours into our second day on the road when the engine warning light came on. She grabbed the manual and read a couple of minor things it could be so we decide to continue. We'd been traveling through rural parts of Alabama with only very small towns, but as the problems began, we entered Mobile, Alabama - the largest city we'd seen since leaving Montgomery at 6:00 a.m. Miracle #1.

We passed the first exit planning to continue our drive when the engine suddenly chuged and I immediately pulled off at the second exit to find a service station. Nothing in site - we are in an industrial area. I drove slowly around the block while the car is chugging. I pulled into a parking lot and we checked the two things the manual suggested. Neither is the problem. Nikki located an auto parts store on her smart phone just a block away - but it is up a hill and the car won't go up that hill.

Miracle #2: Let me set the scene for you: We pulled onto a four lane road with lots of traffic. There is a median all along the highway except for the very place we pulled onto the road. The light behind us turned red and the light on the other side of the road was also red so we were able to quickly abort the planned uphill climb and coast across all four lanes of traffic and down into a little area with a faded auto shop sign. It turned out that was closed but a German auto shop was there. However, their German instruments would not read her car's information.

Miracle #3: The man points across the street where we've just come from. Back there, around a corner is an auto shop and he says the man there can probably help us.

Miracle #4: The car actually makes it up the incline back onto the four lane road and traffic is once again stopped both directions so we are able to cross all lanes and make it the one short block to the auto shop. The very nice man hooks up his computer to the engine and reports that spark plugs 1 and 4 are not firing. He can fix it - and he can have us on the road in about 2 hours if he can get the parts.

Nikki and I walked a way down the street to a Waffle House and had brunch. In the meantime, we are messaging with Lorraine in Louisiana. There is a tropical storm with torrential rains and thunder and lightning and high winds that have downed trees on the interstate as well as all over the area. We are preparing to drive right into it. Of course, we are praying like crazy for the car to be fixed and the weather to be tempered. We don't have days or even hours to delay this trip as we need to be in Utah Thursday at noon.

Miracle #5: When we return to the auto shop, the very nice man has shelved all his other work, put aside all his customers that are waiting and has fixed our car - six new spark plugs, a coil, and only charged us $300. There were little cards all over his walls thanking him for being so honest and helpful to many travelers in need. We added to that collection!!!

Miracle #6: While we had been riding out the rain storm in Mobile and waiting for the car to be fixed, the storm in Louisiana blew itself out and all we encountered in the next few hours were drenching rains that could be handled at 35 miles per hour. (Oh, that we had some of that moisture in California!!)

The remainder of our trip was uneventful but very pleasant as we continued on to St. George for the graduation. We enjoyed celebrating Rachel's summa cum laude laurels with family and friends. My husband drove from California and met us there and friends and relatives from Las Vegas (where Nikki and her family had lived for four years previously) came to celebrate with us.

Saturday night Glenn and I drove north to Highland and stayed with his sister and her husband and visited into the night. Sunday morning I met with my three sisters and their husbands and we spent the day catching up. One sister came from Michigan and the other two are from Idaho. It was the only time we could get together this year so we used every minute to enjoy each other.

Monday morning we all met again for breakfast at Kneaders - we don't have them in California!:(  One sister and her husband attended the Payson Temple Open House with us and Glenn's sister and some of her family. What an exquisitely beautiful temple. Glenn's parents and grandparents were from Payson area so it was a special time for us.

Then without changing clothes or stopping for anything, we headed back to California. This Gramma had babysitting to do beginning Tuesday so we made the journey as quickly as possible. Thank heaven for all the heavenly help and miracles we received along the way - and thank heaven for family! We treasure those special times we can be together, and it's amazing that the sacrifices of time and money and effort just fade into the background when we can be with those we love.

And that's where Lynn has been!