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Book review – for readers and writers – no.141: Morgen Bailey reviews Bobo by Richard Schiver

Today’s book review of a single short story is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

Bobo by Richard Schiver

Bobo by Richard SchiverSynopsis: Awakening to find herself the victim of a kidnapping, Sarah realizes just how alone she really is. The kidnapper believes her husband will pay handsomely for her safe return, but he doesn’t know about their coming divorce. Help arrives from an unlikely source as Sarah comes face to face with old memories she’s kept hidden even from herself.

This short story is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobo-Richard-Schiver-ebook/dp/B00727UILU and http://www.amazon.com/Bobo-Richard-Schiver-ebook/dp/B00727UILU.

Review

The first sentence is good: ‘The sound came to Sarah like a persistent pounding’, except that it is the first of a two-sentence first paragraph which should be one sentence, and this happens a few times. The following paragraph is then a little repetitive: ‘it became louder, growing in intensity’, although I liked ‘until it filled the emptiness around her’. We then go back in time to her childhood and realise that it was not a great time for her.

When the kidnapper talked about a $2 million ransom, I assumed that Roger, Sarah’s husband, was a highflying businessman, but there is only mention of his humanitarian work, which as far as I’m aware doesn’t pay very well and his profession is never explained, which is a shame.

Another great phrase was ‘The reply was accompanied by a dry chuckle that stirred the short hairs on the nape of her neck’, and poor puppy Ambrose (great name).

There is plenty of eeriness in this short story, as the cover and synopsis would imply, and the description of sounds was excellent.

There are quite a few typos, however, including Mrs Michaels having an’ after Michael (Michael’s) where it shouldn’t, a rogue e in ‘clothe’, and some missing punctuation and incorrectly placed punctuation, and required capitalisation in dialogue.

Conclusion

For many readers, this would be an uninterrupted enjoyable story but for some – myself included – it needed a sweep by an editor for a final polish, especially one who knows the rules of dialogue punctuation, and for that reason only, this story loses a point.

Rating: 4 out of 5

*

Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, Chair of NWG (which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page). She also recently created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.

Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has six others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.

She also helps other authors with an inexpensive freelance editing and critiquing service, and welcomes, and actively helps to promote, guest authors on her blog – see opportunities.

***

If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Related articles:

*** Breaking news! My online creative writing courses are currently just £1 or $1-2 each! ***

You can subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app via Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything (see right-hand vertical menu).

You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping Listvarious short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating. Thank you.

Morgen Bailey Cover montage 2I now run online courses – details on Courses – and for anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.

If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.

 
 

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Book review – for readers and writers – no.140: Morgen Bailey reviews A Very Coco Christmas by Robert Bryndza

Today’s book review of a novella is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Be warned: I’m a tough crowd and the lead time for the former is several months. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

A Very Coco Christmas by Robert Bryndza

A Very Coco ChristmasSynopsis: It’s 1985, and eighteen-year-old Coco is home in London for Christmas after her first term at Aberystwyth University. She has started to write, and fallen hopelessly in love with Daniel Pinchard, a devilishly handsome musician from the wrong side of the river. But Coco’s overbearing mother has other plans and resumes her campaign for Coco to meet and marry the ‘right sort of man’, preferably Kenneth, son of her best friends Adrian and Yvonne Rosebury, who will be joining them for Christmas. As snow falls softly over the city, and Coco tries to juggle a series of hilarious events, the stage is set for a Christmas lunch like no other. With a glorious cast of characters including Daniel’s mother Ethel, sister Meryl – and a turkey called Jean Paul Belmondo…

If you are new to the best selling Coco Pinchard series, fear not, A Very Coco Christmas can also be enjoyed as a stand-alone Christmas treat – and it has zero calories!

This story is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/Very-Coco-Christmas-Pinchard-Book-ebook/dp/B00YVD3U40 and http://www.amazon.com/Very-Coco-Christmas-Pinchard-Book-ebook/dp/B00YVD3U40.

Review

I read the opening chapters of this novella while my other half watched a programme on bad 1970s TV and this felt very apt, albeit a decade apart.

Some of the writing was a little cringing, especially Dai’s reaction to Daniel trying to pay.

In the opening passages, I didn’t warm to the main character, Coco, and when she leaves her handbag on the train, I felt little sympathy for her. I do however when she goes home to visit her parents for Christmas, and an argument ensues. She is treated like a Victorian daughter – the story is set in 1985 rather than 1885. Her father is okay, albeit a bit of a pushover, but her mother is horrible and, for me, spoils the story. It felt like a new version of a Christmas Carol, perhaps this was intentional.

Daniel’s mother is just as horrible (and her accent grating*), and normally I would’ve stopped reading the story at that point but as it was a novella – and I was reading it for review – I continued. *The post-story author biography hints at English not being Robert’s native language which could explain this.

And now for writers…

– with the phrases ‘the sun began to shine’ and ‘Daniel started pulling down some mugs’, neither action is interrupted to so we don’t need either ‘began to’ or ‘started to’. There is also ‘the kettle began to whistle’ and although it is removed from the stove, we still don’t need the ‘began to’. A little later, we have ‘began to scream’, and further on, ‘Dad started to open the bottle…’ which could also go.

– there are twenty-seven ‘Well’s as pauses at the beginning of dialogue… far too many for such a short story and in previous reviews I’ve recommended only having one character say ‘well’ in their dialogue… or better still, chopping all of them. We say ‘well’ but we also say ‘erm’ etc. and don’t put them in our writing. ‘Well’ is useful to show a hesitant character but can – was we see here – easily be overdone.

– try to avoid character names that start with the same letter. Here we initially have Tanya and Tania and I was wondering why the author chose names so similar but it turns out that Tanya is Sara and Tania is Keren but no real explanation is given so it seemed pointless to me. It turns out that Coco is actually called Karen, so have those two names (Karen and Keren) in the same sentence would also be very confusing. As well as a Kenneth – too many Ks – there is also Daniel – the main character’s love interest – and the cafe owner called Dai. If Daniel’s name is shortened it becomes Dan… far too close-looking on the page to Dai.

– ‘A few days ago’ is present tense and should be ‘a few days before’. If you’re writing past tense, time frames should be set in the past e.g. ‘the day before’ instead of ‘yesterday’, ‘five minutes before’ rather than ‘five minutes ago’ etc.

– there is a line where the narrator refers to a girl with black lipstick and bright red hair in a huge spike three-feet high. Although it is clearly exaggerated, it made me stop and wonder, which is not a good thing as it pulled me (the reader) out of the story.

– I didn’t spot too many adverbs or clichés, although there was a ‘he worked his fingers to the bone’ is a classic cliché.

Conclusion

One of the few redeeming features was the turkey, John Paul Belmondo. The autobiography at the end of the story shows that Rob is a prolific author, with two Coco novels, which I hope are far better. The male characters in this novel were far better illustrated than the female characters, so perhaps the author being male is why and I wondered whether Rob’s editor – if he has one – is male too. I don’t feel inspired to read any other of Rob’s writing, which is a shame as it appears that writing is Rob’s full-time profession. The biography also says that he is involved in comedy and the scene with a turkey and Chris are funny but it not enough to redeem the story.

There were various points in the story where I wanted to quit but I kept going. By the time I got to the end of it, I wondered why. It’s not the worst story I’ve ever read, but it’s in the top ten. Looking (after writing this review) at this book’s scores on Amazon.co.uk, 55 people have given it a 5* and only 2 to give it a 1*. I’m a tough crowd and am in the latter category, therefore…

Rating: 1 out of 5

*

Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, Chair of NWG (which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page). She also recently created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.

Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has six others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.

She also helps other authors with an inexpensive freelance editing and critiquing service, and welcomes, and actively helps to promote, guest authors on her blog – see opportunities.

***

If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Related articles:

*** Breaking news! My online creative writing courses are currently just £1 or $1-2 each! ***

You can subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app via Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything (see right-hand vertical menu).

You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping Listvarious short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating. Thank you.

Morgen Bailey Cover montage 2I now run online courses – details on Courses – and for anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.

If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2015 in critique, ebooks, review, short stories, writing

 

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Book review – for readers and writers – no.139: Morgen Bailey reviews The Plane Trip by Roy Teel

Today’s book review of a single short story is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

The Plane Trip by Roy A Teel Jnr

The Plane Trip coverSynopsis: As parents, who hasn’t taken their child on so many firsts? From the first car ride to the first day of school. There is nothing more precarious than taking your son on his first plane trip. This is the story of Jonathan. Dad is a frequent flyer; Mom so-so, and Jonathan… well… he has never been in a jetliner before. Only the imagination of a seven-year-old can turn a routine flight into a laugh out loud journey between the Fifth dimension and Hell, and somewhere in between, father and son bond in a most humorous way.

This short is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00QWD2ZNY and http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QWD2ZNY.

Review (of the eBook via the Kindle’s text-to-speech function)

Written in first person viewpoint, past tense, the story is just nineteen Kindle pages, so this is not going to be a long review.

The synopsis sums up the whole story well, and there really isn’t a lot more to add. The exchanges between father and son are amusing, and the father’s observations of his surroundings are well written.

Regular readers of these reviews will know that I have a bugbear for ‘well’ starting a sentence in dialogue. In this very short short story there are eight. It feels like every time the father speaks to his son, the father starts the sentence with ‘well’.  Perhaps it is something that the author uses himself because it is also in the synopsis!

There are also ‘began to’ and ‘started to’ where they are not needed, eg began to call seat numbers, the plane began to accelerate… where the action is actually happening (rather than being interrupted) so the ticket agent called seat numbers and the plane accelerated would be neater.

As the story is written in first person viewpoint, we are learning the facts as the main character learned them. However, he mentions that the air stewardess has come to offer him drinks, then a few moments later seems surprised that she has come to take his order.

Conclusion

It is an entertaining short short story. I downloaded it for free back in December 2014. It is currently (December 2015) $2 or £1.29 which I feel is far too expensive, even for a publisher published story (although the cover looks very amateurly made), and possibly why my review is the first given on Amazon.co.uk.

Rating: 2 out of 5

*

Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page) and has created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.

Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has nine others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.

She also helps other authors with an inexpensive freelance editing and critiquing service, and welcomes, and actively helps to promote, guest authors on her blog – see opportunities.

***

If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Related articles:

*** Breaking news! My online creative writing courses are currently just £1 or $1-2 each! ***

You can subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app via Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything (see right-hand vertical menu).

You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping Listvarious short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating. Thank you.

Morgen Bailey Cover montage 2I now run online courses – details on Courses – and for anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.

If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2015 in critique, ebooks, short stories, writing

 

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Book review – for readers and writers – no.137: Morgen Bailey reviews Trouble on the Heath by Terry Jones

Today’s book review of a crime novella is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

Trouble on the Heath by Terry Jones

Trouble on the HeathSynopsis: A comedy of Russian gangsters, town planners and a dog called Nigel. Malcolm Thomas is not happy. A view he loves is about to be blocked by an ugly building. He decides to take action and organises a protest. Then things go badly wrong and Malcolm finds himself running for his life. Along the way, he gets mixed up with depressed town planners, violent gangsters, and a kidnapped concert pianist. Malcolm starts to wonder if objecting to the building was such a good idea when he finds himself upside down with a gun in his mouth.

This novella is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008HHYN9W.

Review of the paperback:

A mere 104 pages, it is designed for “an avid reader who wants a quick fix or if you haven’t picked up a book since school”. This author is Terry Jones from Monty Python, and given the synopsis it is bound to be funny (He had me at a dog called Nigel).

– After Malcolm spots the planning notice, he calls an emergency meeting, which is hilarious.

– It is a very English story, especially with named characters such as Trevor and Cynthia. Lady Chesney is superbly portrayed and I love her view of Malcolm and his cheap suit and Liverpool accent, struggling to believe that he is a professor.

– We then meet the brilliant Russian, the evil Emperor, here miss understand the intentions of the residents association and plots – from his eye and fortress (very pretty 19th century house) to bring it down.

Thereafter comes a proliferation of peaks and troughs to form a true comedy of errors.

And now for writers…

Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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The Parcel Project (a free collaborative novella!)

colourful-gifts 909705 (resized 2 - small)‘The Parcel’ is an eighteen-chapter 26,000-word collaborative novella (free) eBook written by attendees of the 2015 winter-term ‘Creative Writing – Intermediate’ ten-week class hosted by co-contributor Morgen Bailey.

The authors wrote their chapters while knowing only the size, weight and destination address of the parcel, together with the chapters’ starting and ending locations – chosen by the authors themselves (some of whom have other books available on Smashwords). They could choose their own characters – the lead of which entitle each chapter – and plot.

Morgen then collated the stories and made minor edits to turn each chapter into a cohesive novella before designing the cover and upload the finished package today, Monday 30th November, hours ahead of the tenth and final session of the course so all the contributing attendees left the course as published authors!

It is available (free!) on Smashwords and will soon be available on iTunes, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Oyster, OverDrive (which Smashwords describes as the world’s largest library ebook platform serving 20,000+ libraries), Baker & Taylor, Gardners Books, and Inktera (formerly called Page Foundry).

It is available for free, and all the authors hope that you enjoy reading this novella and that it feels seamless to you.

We would love to know what you think and invite you to email Morgen at morgen@morgenbailey.com who will pass your comments on to the relevant authors. We would also be very grateful if you left a review as an encouragement for others to read the novella. Further details (inc. a list of the contributing authors) on this blog’s The Parcel Project 2015 page.

Please do leave a comment (below or on the PP2015 page), especially after you’ve read the novella and hopefully before too long you’ll be able to read those left by other visitors. Thank you for those of you who will go off and download this eBook – your support is much appreciated. Oh, I did I mention that it’s free? :)

 

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Dark Tidings – free eBook til 30th Nov

Dark Tidings by Ken Magee is free for five days…

DT front cover finalA young thief and a has-been wizard await execution in the darkness of a medieval dungeon. Only a miracle can save them – a miracle in the form of an ancient spell which the wizard has stolen from the most powerful and evil men on the planet; men who will stop at nothing to get it back. Throw in a pinch of time travel and an Internet genius, and the disaster can only get worse.

Dark Tidings is the first book of the spellbinding ‘Ancient magic meets the Internet’ trilogy and it’s FREE until 30 November 2015 via http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00O5FF4S4http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00O5FF4S4 etc.

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2015 in ebooks, novels

 

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