Review of ‘A Special’s Love’ 2/5 stars

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/548239979

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I received this free book from a read to review group and was not compensated in any way for my honest opinion.

Let me preface my review by stating that I really, really dislike leaving negative reviews. Really. I wanted to like this one more. As an author, I appreciate difficulties of the creative process vs. the editing process, how much time it takes to became I strong writer. I also know how much authors want others to love their work, but need honest opinions. It’s a fine line to walk. Every positive review sends me over the moon, while every negative one still bruises me a bit. Though I do my best to learn from each one. Often a well-written negative review is worth ten positive ones.

This is my attempt to be worth gold to this author who was kind enough to allow me to read her work for free.

PROS:

1) She has a good grasp of basic plot points and building of story tension.

2) A unique name for her psychic powers

3) A good attempt to create likable, mildly flawed characters within the real world.

4) An enticing cover- strong human elements with a nice ethereal glow to hint at the subject matter.

5) An interesting twist on the title “A Special’s Love” vs. “A Special Love”. Don’t think I didn’t notice. :o)

CONS:

1) First Chapter starts off in first person past tense, remaining chapters 2-30 are third person present tense– though this doesn’t technically break any rules (because there are very few rules in creative writing) it’s incredibly jarring to the reader. I was all WTH? and had to stop and get back into the flow again. Completely unnecessary switch.

2) Initially, she refers to Brianna and her female family members as ‘specials’ then in later chapters they are ‘SPECIALS’ then back again to ‘specials’. Hmm… continuation problem. Which is it? Unless ‘SPECIALS’ is an acronym for something, or you just have to make the word especially special, then you should use ‘Special’ and stick with that.

3) Numerous grammar errors throughout every chapter. Following examples are not intended to embarrass, but to assist the author in locating and correcting said errors.

He sighed and said “thank you, black is fine.” Should be -“He sighed and said, “Thank you, black is fine.” (the comma before black technically should either be a period or a semi-colon, but normal people speak faster than that, so in this case a comma works great.

Here goes nothing Brianna thought to herself. Should be either, ‘Here goes nothing,’ Brianna thought to herself. Or Here goes nothing, Brianna thought to herself. (italics would be in book) or if you really want to be high speed, low drag–Here goes nothing, Brianna thought. (the herself is implied… where else would she be thinking it?)

Slater was shocked. “I have been working on this case trying to bring peace to this family and bring their son home dead or alive. Should be– Slater was shocked. “I have been working on this case, trying to bring peace to this family and bring their son home, dead or alive.” (Or …bring their son home-dead or alive.”)

Wiping tears from her eyes “Maxwell says that he wants Should be–Wiping tears from her eyes, she said, “Maxwell says that he wants[…]” Or if you want to get less wordy… “Wiping tears away, she said, “Maxwell says he wants […] –Because where else would tears be coming from (and that first part is a fragment) and you can eliminate 80% of that/just/had/was/were/has… etc. These are words of passive writing not active.

5)Numerous cliches- ‘hot and bothered’, ‘pale as a ghost’, ‘men in white jackets’ (which was used several times), these are just the few I wrote down.

6) Redundancy, wordiness, grammar error and telling not showing – “Brianna noticed Kyle was back in the room. She was trying to see if everything was okay she got a feeling that it wasn’t. “Everything okay?”
Should be either a semi-colon or a period between ‘okay’ and ‘she’

Above example shows all four- redundancy- We’re told Brianna notices Kyle and is trying to see if everything is okay. Then we’re told this again when Brianna asks if everything is okay.

Wordiness- Brianna notices Kyle is back in the room. So many words when author could’ve just said Kyle was back in the room.

Telling not showing- Again, we’re told what’s happening, but not shown any of the character’s reactions or emotions. This makes it almost impossible for readers to connect to the characters. It also makes the scene set up boring.

Rewrite example– Wringing his hands, Kyle walked into the room. Brianna set aside her book and sat up straight. “Is everything okay?” she asked.

This is an example of showing not telling in active voice without redundancy. Showing Kyle’s tension and Brianna’s immediate sense that something was not okay, prompting her to ask her question. It eliminates all of the above problems and sets up a tense scene while also engaging the reader with a hook of ‘what’s wrong?”

second scene rewrite–Wringing his hands, Kyle walked into the room. Brianna glanced up from her book, then continued reading. “What’s wrong now?” she asked.

See and feel the difference of the second showing set up? And all without extra dialogue tags of ‘she said halfheartedly’ ‘she said anxiously’.

7) Head hopping- Several scenes jump back and forth between relating one character’s emotions/thoughts, then the next paragraph relates a different character’s emotions/thoughts. Yet this is third person limited, not third person omniscient. In third person limited, you have to stick with one character’s emotions/thoughts, their POV, at a time unless you make specific scene or chapter switches. It can get very confusing for the reader to flip back and forth without warning.

I can go on, but the upshot is this author has a talent for storytelling and I hope she continues writing. I also hope she takes some more creative writing classes, or reads several serious books on the subject, gains better editors and… oh yeah… keeps writing. It’s known that an author’s first million words aren’t good. Their second million are so-so to decent. Their third million are getting good to really good to maybe even great.

So you’ve got to keep writing and learning and writing and learning. :o)

Thank you for allowing me to read your book, and I hope my intensive (and probably painful to read) review helps you. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I am always willing to discuss writing with authors and readers.

Happy reading and writing!Image

 


2 thoughts on “Review of ‘A Special’s Love’ 2/5 stars

  1. I like you guidelines on reviewing books. I like the pro and con. Your system of pointing out the elements of the story you like and that need attend is very helpful. Good review.

    Like

    1. Thanks! It’s more from an author’s perspective than a reader’s, but when I read to review I tend to be more critical from the ground up. Just like I would be of my own work. It’s tough to read as the original author, but I try to write it professionally and dispassionately. I never intend to hurt feelings, but to inform and help if possible.

      Like

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