Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Most Beautiful Trolls: On Reviews.

Johh Bauer, 1915.

Louis Shalako

'Look at them, troll mother said. Look at my sons! You won't find more beautiful trolls on this side of the moon.' > John Bauer.

Sample Reviews for Heaven Is Too Far Away.

A great and epic read.

An awesome, epic read. I wasn't so sure if it was a work of fiction because What I felt so real. What a ride.... enjoyed every page. Great book. > Barry Burch.

One of the best books I’ve ever read.

First of all, let me restate the title of this review: This is by far one of the best books I've ever read. The story is great, the technical aspects of it (flying, gunnery, etc) can be held up next to the many WWI flying memoirs I've read, and I haven't loved a literary character this much since Bernard Cornwell introduced me to Richard Sharpe (there are a lot of similarities between the two).

The writing style is that of a memoir, written in the first person from the point of view of what I imagine is a much older WIll Tucker reflecting back on his days in the RFC. The writing is so well done I could almost picture listening to Tucker telling his old flying stories. The plot and his irreverent commentary are seamlessly entwined together and the result is an absolute joy to read and immensely quotable. As for the plot, I thought it seemed a little far fetched at first (assassinating the Red Baron?) but Shalako made it work and well.

All-in-all, any enthusiast of the Great War and WWI aviation in particular should give this book a read. You won't be disappointed and for the price, what have you got to lose? I'm already reading it a second time and it's just as good. > M.J. Thomas


as long as you don't read it as factual this is an entertaining read with the first half being more entertaining than the later chapters which drag somewhat. > Lee Whitfort.

I agree with your comments regarding the use of the modern idiom and the shaky style. Somewhat entertaining but could probably profit from the use of a competent proof reader. > John Cameron.

Okay, here are some sample reviews for The Handbag’s Tale.

A purse is found next to a dead man in an alley. He had been at a party with drugs, gambling, sex, and alcohol. There a many suspects - but which one? This very short (31 pages) book follows two police detectives as they piece together the facts. A lot of story in a little book with a surprise ending. > Quanita’s Reviews.


A murder is committed in a Paris alley. This is just the latest of eleven reported over the previous three weeks. This time the victim is a well known and universally liked banker with one fatal shot between the eyes. This tale is presumably set during the dawning years of the twentieth century. Forensic science is in its infancy and large city crimes are solved by interrogation and luck. As lead detective Gilles Maintenon interviews an avalanche of humanity, slowly a picture comes into focus. Like a French Sherlock Holmes, he shifts through the witness statements, picking out bits and determining the facts from fiction. The brevity of the story and the search for a red haired woman (I’ve always been partial to redheads) keep me ponderously reading on. This story would have probably rated higher by me if more attention was given to details. It reads like a summery and doesn’t add anything to really grab the reader’s attention. Like a play, the narrative is divided erroneously (as each section has multiple settings) into three scenes. I will use a quote from the book that nicely sums up this author and his works: “Prior history is the best indicator of future behavior.” I must say that the redhead was eventually found so let me end this review on a positive note (with another quote from the book): “No honest effort is ever wasted.” > Thom Swennes

Here are a whole slew of Goodreadsreviews and ratings with no additional comments.

In the case of Heaven Is Too Far Away, the reviews seem to contradict each other. When I read the first review, my initial impression was of a troll review, using a bit of reverse psychology as it seems very unlikely that a first book by an unknown author could really be ‘one of the best books I’ve ever read.’ That, I think, is the benefit of multiple reviews. The truth probably lies somewhere in between two extremes.

In the case of The Handbag’s Tale, the first two reviews I ever got in my life, were lovely, four-star reviews by people who clearly enjoyed the book. They seemed knowledgeable, and appreciated the fact that there was some experimental aspect to the story.

Then, one day I opened up Goodreads or Amazon, I forget which, and saw a whole slew of one-star reviews, where it appeared the reader had purposefully set out to slam an author they knew nothing about, made sure to point out they hadn’t actually read the book, etc. (In other words, trolls. – ed.)

I can honestly say that my blood ran cold. My body tingled all over, it sort of flashes over you in that adrenalin-rush. The fight-or-flight instincts are fully aroused in that moment.

As authors, we all know the facts. The best thing to do with troll reviews is to ignore them. And of course, that’s very hard to do.

The worst thing is the sense of psychological rape, that sense of absolute powerlessness.

We know there’s nothing we can do about it.

The real fear of course, is that the same people will keep coming back, and make a real science of hounding you, and slamming your books. We all hope to be successful, and we all hope to make money. We see this as having a real impact on other potential readers. The real trolls want to scare you away. They want you to be paranoid or something. The funny thing is, after a few years, they’ve moved onto someone else. I still get readers. I had three novels and one novella out at that time. It really does feel like the end of the world. Hell, fourteen novels later, I’m still not sure if I can really write or not. It’s not like some of us have massive sales numbers to back up any claims or simply to give us confidence.

Five years ago, I had no reviews at all. Not a one.

Perhaps that is the difference.

Now we have dozens, maybe even scores of reviews. We still get less-than-glowing reviews. Every so often, a troll stops in and pisses on our gate. Every so often, someone takes the time out of their busy day to give us an honest opinion of the book.

The simple fact is that 99.9 % of readers never review a book in their lives. Those that do often confuse it with a book report from elementary school. The best reviews excerpt memorable passages from a book. In the case of criticisms, the reviewers really ought to give an example, but again, they’re not professional readers. They’re just people giving a quick thirty seconds out of their day for whatever reason. Without amateur reviews, I probably still wouldn’t have any reviews at all.

We may never get a professional magazine review in our lives, and that's probably the case with the majority of independent authors writing today.

We learn quite a bit about books and reading and readers when we get reviews. It’s important to listen to them, and to try and understand from their perspective what we did right or wrong, without letting it cripple or embitter us.

It goes with the territory, and it is best to remain philosophical. We will basically manage our own attitudes and perceptions, and let them manage theirs.

It's their dime, after all. As far as this writer is concerned, the trolls are beautiful people.


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