Archive for the ‘3 star’ Category

Fell in Love with a Band: The Story of The White Stripes
By:  Chris Handyside
Paperback, 226 pages
ISBN13: 9780312336189

Overall: 3 out of 5 stars
The main reason I read this book and the main reason that it was bumped up to 3 stars is because I am a completely biased White Strips fan. To me, Jack White is a rock god. Other than a handful of people, all living musicians shall bow down before this living legend. Reading the story of Jack’s evolution to stardom was extremely entertaining, but admittedly, only because I am such a huge fan. See the thing is, Jack is a product of nothing but extremely hard work and dedication. There is no crazy Hollywood story, no drama, nothing. Jack played, and continues to play, whenever, wherever, however he can. He is a machine, never stopping, and seeking constant improvement.
Jack’s dedication seemingly began from birth, as he listened to his older siblings jam out on an almost daily basis. His upbringing played a huge role in who Jack has become. The Detroit home that he was raised in, not only blared out the sounds of his siblings playing, but placed Jack in an environment of isolation. That isolation, from being in the racial and cultural minority, allowed Jack to focus on his own person and not be distracted by the trappings of society. When you listen to Jack play today, despite his huge popularity, you can still hear that boy playing alone with his instrument, oblivious to the world and its judgements. The best part of Fell in Love with a Band was its ability to convey the world in which Jack came from.
It was additionally very cool to find some unknown musical treasures that Jack participated in.
Creativity: 1 out of 5 stars
It certainly does not take much creativity to write a story about a legendary figure. The investigation into Jack’s world is told through factual information and from those around Jack and Meg White. The words of Jack and Meg are sorely missing.
Characters: 2 out of 5 stars
Chris Handyside had to do a lot of work to catch up with all of the characters that grew up knowing Jack and Meg, but the inability to get their first hand input was a big hindrance on the complete picture.
Spelling and Grammar: 4 out of 5 stars
Nothing that I noticed, but not like I was blown away by its perfection or eloquence.
Execution: 3 out of 5 stars
If not a fan of The White Stripes to begin with, I believe this would be quite dry and maybe boring. But if a fan, there are some stories that further endear you to both Jack and Meg.
The unbelievable luck that follows Jack, like when there was a manufacturing SNAFU that led to the last minute vinyls being made as red and white swirls, really?!
The love that he and his fans share, like when Jack lost a rare (because cheap and weird) guitar and a fan tracked one down and replaced it for him, giving it as a gift at a concert.
Some stories from Jack and Meg’s friends growing up.
All in all, I have to say it again, if you are a fan of The White Stripes, you will enjoy it, if not, probably not.

The Pyramid Legacy
By: Clive Eaton
Paperback, 356 pages Published June 20th 2012 by CreateSpace
ISBN13: 9781477531037

Overall 3 out of 5 stars

I received the Kindle version of The Pyramid Legacy from Clive Easton for a review request. But, I am very good at avoiding any preference because of Mr. Eaton’s generosity.
The Pyramid Legacy as title sends an impression of an ancient Egypt story, which could not be further from the truth. The pyramids are the beginning of a science fiction adventure.
Creativity 3 out of 5 stars
I am fair and tough in my critics, while the idea was good behind The Pyramid Legacy, it was not revolutionary by any means, it was average, thus 3 stars. Mr. Eaton does very well in blending archeology, mystery, science fiction, and a bit of a love story. Each of the elements were stories we have heard before but sewn together into one story.
Characters 4 out of 5 stars
Mr. Eaton did an outstanding job of making his characters believable and dialogue was generally good. The protagonist, Ben Anderson, is the best character in the novel, he grows nicely and remains true to his fundamental personality. There is a group of secondary characters that are also well done, Harry, the General, Evans, and a few more fit nicely into the story. The minor characters are okay at best, not much effort was put into them, which is generally the case with any author because we just don’t care about them, there are objects used to progress the plot. My big problem with the characters in with the second main character, Sam. While writing my novel, Eliot, I spent time learning about writing fundamentals and it is highly annoying how Sam completely changes her fundamental personality. I have no problem with characters growing, but they cannot inexplicably completely change who they are. Sam is known for her professionalism but just as she is achieving her dream, she completely loses all professionalism out of nowhere.
Spelling and Grammar 3 out of 5 stars
I am unsure if Mr. Eaton did the editing in this himself. If he did, trust me, I understand how difficult it is, I did my own editing as and eventually just had to settle with what I had, perfection is tough. The Pyramid Legacy is nowhere near perfect and I am not buying that much effort was put into editing. There are quite a few grammatical errors and fundamental sentence structure that does not make sense. When there are only a handful in a novel, I try to write them all down to help the author, but I gave up in this book because I would have never gotten through it. I will say that if I wasn’t particularly looking for such things, I probably would not have noticed. The things I am talking about are such as:
The World Wide Web is referred to as “infamous” with no explanation as to why, what the heck makes the world-wide web infamous?
…bone-shaking drive couldn’t shake it loose. – I do not like the same word so close to one another, I would prefer, the bone-jarring drive couldn’t shake it lose, or the bone-shaking drive couldn’t knock it lose.
Taxi halted abruptly outside his hotel. – It sounds like outside came abruptly, should read, the taxi abruptly halted outside of his hotel.
Things like that, which are not killer, but a little annoying.
Execution 3 out of 5 stars
Starting with the good, it is important to note that I enjoyed The Pyramid Legacy, it was a good adventure. I enjoy science fiction but do not generally write science fiction. Recently, I read the Dean Kootz book, Writing Popular Fiction, and in that book there is a section on the basics of science fiction writing. When I reviewed A.I. Apocalypse by William Hertling,  I felt it was a complete disaster in its violations of the basics of writing science fiction. A.I. Apocalypse stands as an example of how not to implement future technology in a novel. Conversely, The Pyramid Legacy stands as an example of exactly how to properly implement future technology. The future technology is believable and expertly utilized. The mPC (micro PC) is perfect in name and function, it utilized the laser projected keyboard, which is available now but is not utilized popularly. The idea that it becomes accepted as common  is perfect. The use of anti-matter as a future fuel source, the next generation of exploratory robots, space hibernation technology, moon outposts are more are believable and genuine feeling.
Now, the bad. There were two plot line flaws that were highly irritating. The big one tempted me to knock this down to 2 stars for Execution and even Overall, until I factored in how much I did enjoy the story.
1. Why does the internet not exist anymore because of a simple virus. The internet as we know it is gone in The Pyramid Legacy because of a viral attack. I understand the net being down for a while because of this but it just does not make sense that a software attack would destroy the internet. There was no hardware damage explained, so it wouldn’t take long at all to get everything back up and running.
2.  The pursuing of the murder on the ship does not make any sense at all, I mean none whatsoever. The mission was top-secret and everything about the mission was held in secret, absolutely no one was to know about it. It was even discussed how it was a surprise that government let the mission participants return to the regular world because the secret was so closely guarded. Then they go and prosecute the onboard murder of someone who would have been sentenced to death anyway, threatened the life of the crew and jeopardized the mission. The prosecution resulted in lawyers knowing about the mission and even a jury! That’s just silly. Then what reason would the murderer have for keeping the mission secret? Dumb, dumb, really dumb plot flaw.
If any writer is considering near future technology, it would not hurt them to read The Pyramid Legacy and see how Mr. Eaton did it right. Other than that, it was an enjoyable story and I believe the Mr. Eaton will make a very good book with some fine tuning. This would make a cool movie too.
Michael A. Wood Jr.

Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator By: Ryan Holiday
Hardcover, 288 pages Published July 19th 2012 by Portfolio Hardcover
ISBN13: 9781591845539

Overall 3 out of 5 stars

My system is set up to review fiction novels, so I will have to adapt a bit. I received this copy of Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator in a giveaway, which I have been having some good luck with lately, enough to have a hard time keeping up on reviewing them. I received a signed copy, so I guess I feel pretty cool right now.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with this book that I am giving it 3 stars, it simply did not entertain me enough to warrant higher, or lower. Ryan Holiday built most of his reputation and education working in public relations with Tucker Max, author of I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, and for American Apparel. Holiday tells some of the behind the scenes stories of “news” stories that have grabbed the spotlight in recent years. This behind the scenes look includes how he has manipulated the system to grab positive attention for his employers and fend of negative attention, as well as how the world of blogging is flawed in its fundamental structure.

A lot of what Holiday reveals about the underbelly of internet media is shocking to say the least. It’s not as if we don’t know how it works, but when Holiday lays it all out so you can easily see the cause and effect, you will be left with no desire to ever read an internet blog again. This subject was quite interesting to me because, being an aspiring author without a publisher or literary agent, I need to find a way to get my work out there on my own. I was hopeful that maybe there was some dark magic to be revealed in Holiday’s writing, but sadly not for me. I even tried one of Holiday’s techniques without any success, no that it did not work in his world, but these are not universal tactics.

It would be grand if Holiday ended this on a positive note, but he couldn’t even if he wanted to. No matter how much he reveals, the internet world of page views and advertising will keep us all being feed gossip, lies, and half truths as long as people keep clicking on the headline, and they will.

Creativity 3 out of 5 stars

Again, it’s not has if Holiday had to come up with a gripping fiction plot, he is just telling his version of some events that he has been a part of. It is like my police leadership guides, you really can’t give me creativity points for writing about what I do for a living, can you?

Characters N/A

Spelling and Grammar 4 out of 5 stars

Some of the normal run on sentences or confusing sections that had to be re-read but certainly nothing distracting like some books I have read that are so bad, you just start looking for the errors instead of reading.

Execution 3 out of 5 stars

Holiday worked with what he had. Ironically, just like he talks about in the book pertaining to people simply not being very interested in fact based news that is supported by evidence, he subject just isn’t sensational enough for me to get all giddy about. That is quite a sad truth that Holiday repeatedly comes back to in the book and I give 3 out of 5 stars to support his beliefs. Holiday often repeats himself in the book and I assume that is because he believes in what he is saying and really wants to make people understand.

I enjoyed Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator as I think anyone that is into social media, blogs, self-promotion, advertising, conspiracies, et cetera would also enjoy giving this a read, maybe in ebook or something though, I can’t see forking over hardback money for this.

*** Advance Reader’s Copy ***
Portlandtown: A Tale of the Oregon Wyldes
By: Ron Deborde

Overall: 3 out of 5 Stars
*** Please not that this novel is not due out until October 2012 and I am reviewing an advance reader’s copy that could be slightly altered.

Based upon the cover art and the description that this was a “western a la Stephen King’s Dark Tower…” I pretty much had a good idea of what the novel would feel like and what you imagine is pretty accurate.
Years ago, a mysterious and powerful criminal was put down by Joseph Wylde and his father-in-law, the former U.S. Marshall. The criminal was known as the Hanged Man. The Hanged Man possessed a powerful book of black magic and a cursed revolver, which were the sources of his power. The black magic falls into the wrong hands and the Hanged Man is resurrected.

The Hanged Man seeks to redeem his former power and exact revenge on those who put him down. I do not want to give away any spoilers, so I will leave it at that.

Creativity: 3 stars

The basic premise to the story had pieces of things we have all seen before, but they are interesting and I did not feel as though I was reading something that I had before.

Spelling and Grammar: 5 stars

Considering that I was reviewing an advance copy, I was looking particularly hard at finding errors. I really had a hard time finding any. There were two minor finds, that I am not even sure were errors. The spelling, grammar, and formatting were absolutely outstanding.

Execution: 2 stars

Here is where I had my problems with Portlandtown. I felt as though there were too many characters, so it was almost impossible to connect too much with any of the characters. Joseph Wylde’s children, Kick and Maddie, were extremely interesting and I really wish that they would have ended up the heroes. The Hanged Man was also a very interesting character and I really wanted to know more of him and his tale.

There were many other characters in which so much time was spent with, I thought they would be more integral to the story, but they ended up largely irrelevant.

Page Turning: 4 stars

I definitely kept turning the pages because the buildup to the climax was very good. The problem wasn’t being interested, the problem was with where it concluded. I was left wanting so much more, maybe that was intentional because a prequel is a strong possibility with this. The Wylde’s were the heroes, but the Hanged Man is who I was interested in.

Overall: 3 stars

Very much a good premise and there was a great story here, but it was drowned out by the uninteresting characters. I cannot say that I recommend the book to fans of this genre (because you have already read better books like this), but for those that have not read much from this genre, I certainly can.

Michael A. Wood Jr.
“The Critical Critic”