“Are you kidding?” Book Reviews

4dce3343fd0ad1618bbfe2c22f43a293I know it’s inevitable. Every author gets their share of bad reviews. You know, those one-star postings and half-baked opinions of “chosen” readers, indicating that you, as an author, haven’t got a clue how to write a simple phase, how to plot a mystery, or create a believable story. Obviously, we can’t all be as talented as Agatha Christie, John Steinbeck or F. Scott Fitzgerald. We’re simply members of the Homo sapien writing tribe with more than our share of weaknesses, imperfections, and fragile reactions. Quite often, we find ourselves typing non-stop for days on end, allowing trapped emotions and caged creativity to escape in equal portions. We offer ourselves up to the world’s judgment, begging for acceptance—for someone to see the merit of our artistic efforts. But then it happens in an instant, even to the best of us. Critics and wannabe writers take careful aim, releasing venomous words, killing a novel purely for the pleasure of doing so.

I understand that not everyone appreciates the written word and the painstaking effort that goes into fully developing an idea. However, for an author, it’s tedious, time consuming work, and the act of writing can become an obsession in the art of perfection. Every word, scene and character on the page has value, and the ability to bring a story full circle can feel like a miraculous achievement at times. And yet, a single insult has the ability to take down not only an individual’s self-esteem but also their ability to write…at least for the time it takes to recover.

The solution to this madness? I’ve been told the most powerful action you can take to neutralize your brain’s wiring is to prove it wrong.  Your brain fears being cast out of the “qualified” author circle, so calm it by connecting to your personal tribes—family, friends, other struggling writers. See brain? I’m not being thrown to the dingos—I have love, talent and the ability to carry on. Once the brain calms down, you can use reason and logic to center yourself. You can also talk to authors who have drifted in the same boat, bordering on the brink of despair.

Writers, like myself, fall into two groups. Those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review and those who hide their reactions well. Usually, I fall into the second group, holding my breath and looking away until the shock value wears off. But when a new book is released, it becomes a balancing act between elation over great reviews and irrational anger for the vicious ones. Some of Stephen King’s latest novels received up to 500 one-star and two-star reviews on Amazon. Was this done out of spite for his success as an author or simply a way to demonstrate powerful opinions?

Book stores are packed with best sellers that have a lot of bad reviews. Prove it to yourself. Do this: Go to idreambooks.com, the “Rotten Tomatoes” of the book world. They aggregate book reviews from important critics like the New York Times and rank best selling books according to the percentage of good reviews they received. Notice anything? Almost all the best selling books have a significant number of bad reviews. Imagine that.

Now think about this. How much could bad reviews affect sales if they’re all best sellers? I’m not ignoring the aftermath of cruel intention—bad reviews are undesirable. But they’re not necessarily the deal-breakers you think they are. Well, that’s what I continue to tell myself anyway. And even more interesting…bad reviews can actually help sell books.

What do you think of a book that has nothing but five-star reviews? I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit suspicious. Just like restaurant reviews, if you see nothing but 5 stars, I’m thinking the author or restaurant owner got all his friends, family and associates to write the vast number of reviews, delving out glowing praise. In a twisted way, bad reviews give a book legitimacy because their very presence indicate that the good reviews must be genuine. Right?

Well, I have to admit that all this venting has helped a wee bit. The sting of the cursed one-star review has eased a bit, and I’m reminded that the toughest critics are often the worst writers. That’s why they criticize, don’t you think? So now it’s time to laugh, enjoy a glass of wine, and move on until the next zinger comes along, and then maybe I’ll have the commonsense to look away.

Is Self-Harm a Form of Mental Illness?

While writing my latest novel, HIGH FLYING, I wanted to create a complex, self-debasing character that struggles with her past and self-image and, at the same time, recognizes her inability to connect with others. Throughout her adolescence, she longs to be “normal” like other people, but self-harm becomes her vice and the quickest, most effective way to deal with the negativity in her life…until she finds a powerful solution.

In the course of researching this subject, I discovered that cutting is a common form of deliberate self-harm and may co-occur with other self-injurious behaviors such as skin-burning, hair-pulling, and anorexia, and that people who cut themselves often use razors, knives, or other sharp objects. UnknownHowever, cutting is not typically an attempt at suicide or long-term self-harm. Rather, it is an immediate reaction to stress that provides release for the person who cuts. They may accidentally sever a vein or artery, which can be life-threatening, but this behavior is not listed in the DSM-IV as a mental health disorder. Instead, it is related to other impulse control conditions such as pyromania (obsession with fires), kleptomania (persistent stealing), and/or pathological gambling.

Self-harm can also be a symptom of borderline personality (BPD), as well as factitious disorders, which occur when a person fakes an illness or believes he or she has a disease they haven’t truly contracted. People who cut themselves may also suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other stress-related conditions.

Outpatient therapy using a variety of methods, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy, can be highly effective at teaching people more effective skills for coping with stress. However, unless treated, cutting is a behavior that tends to escalate, resulting in  more severe and frequent cutting over time. People who have been cutting for an extended period of time may require inpatient treatment, which involves group therapy, individual therapy, and when necessary, psychotropic medication to help mitigate the psychological factors that contribute to cutting.

Often therapy for treating this disorder involves redirection–a sort of reprograming mechanism, for dealing with stressful situations. This might involve various forms of self-expressive art, tennis, boxing, or other activities as a means for releasing pent-up emotions, tension and anxiety. Support, compassion and understanding by friends, family members and anyone aware of this condition is also very important. Society as a whole needs to understand that anyone who has a history of cutting or other obsessive disorders is fully capable of leading a healthy, normal life, if given the chance to do so.

Twisted Threads Book Trailer

I’m thrilled by the tremendous success I’ve received for my new TWISTED THREADS book trailer, created by Film 14. The views I’ve had on my Facebook page alone have exceeded more than 42,000 since it was posted in late November. If this was any indication on my book sales, I would be a best seller right now. 🙂

December 2017 Book Review Challenge

During the month of December, I agreed to participate in a book and review swapping experience within a Goodreads group, which definitely encouraged me to read more, especially when it came to new authors. As a result, here are the books I read and posted reviews for on Amazon.com and Goodreads, which you might or might not agree with:

36361882Let me start with SILENT JUSTICE by Brian Roberts. This high-energy book has an interesting, diabolical cast of characters and provides a great voice for the imagination of debut author, Brian Roberts. Crime and corruption run rampant and Lead Detective Robert Jenkins has his hands full in this action-packed novel set in the underbelly of South Central L.A., and no one appears to be safe or unaffected by the dealings of ungoverned gangs. The President needs to bring an end to all the violence or lose his shot at a second term in office. But no one can foresee the powder keg about to erupt and the aftermath that results. RATED 5 out of 5 STARS

35647170Next, THEIR GREEK KEY by Pamela Harstad. I love reading about complex romantic relationships that are destine to fail but don’t. This is a fun, compelling read with interesting characters and a well-thought out plot that pulled me in immediately. Will keep an eye out for more books by this talented author! RATED 5 out of 5 STARS

 

Then, THE CHAOS OF CHANGE by J.T. Riggen. Wow! Never thought I’d ever read a political thriller, 36136183as I hate worrying about gloom and doom and the future of this country, which many of us trouble over on a daily basis. But I have to admit, once I started ready this crazy amazing book, I couldn’t put it down. The plot is well thought out, the characters are complex and real, and the tension is racketed to a breaking point. The author obviously spent a great deal of time researching this story because it shows on every page and in every word. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an explosive story! RATED 5 out of 5 STARS

36466825On to THE FINAL REALITY by Stephen Martino. Usually I’m not a huge fan of doom’s day sci-fi stories, but I have to admit Martino captured my attention and held onto it in this intriguing, action-packed story – pitting good against evil with the future of the world at stake. I haven’t read the other books in this series but found the Final Reality easy to follow with its rotating points of view, complex characters, and stirring plot…and this Indiana Jones-like adventure is definitely strong enough to stand alone. RATED 5 out of 5 STARS

*I’m beginning to see a pattern here. (Happy face)

36398669GOOD DOING EVIL by Wilde Blue Sky. Although this spy/terrorist thriller is one of the shortest book I’ve ever read, it was none the less intriguing due to the fact that the main character is dull, insignificant and an extremely unlikely hero. His battle against the evil forces he contends with was entertaining and unexpected, keeping my interest from beginning to end. Kudos to the author! RATED 4 Stars out of 5

 

36152319Followed by BEHIND FRENEMY LINES by Cele Pedersen Smith. I was pulled into this story immediately and had a hard time putting it down. Galaxy and Lee were complex characters and proved intriguing in the area of romance and as mystery solving agents. There were some light moments and plenty of twists and turns in the cleverly conceived plot. I highly recommend Behind Frenemy Lines to anyone who loves action-packed romantic suspense and look forward to reading more books by this author. RATED 4 out of 5 STARS

35615310Finally, BUBBLEGUM by Sari Taurez. I’m a huge fan of unlikely heroines and complex evil villains that you love to hate and grow to respect, and Sari Taurez delivers them in a BIG way in this cleverly-crafted book. It’s jam-packed with interesting, diverse characters, and I found this novel unbelievably fun to read! It honestly kept me up all night with its twists and turns and high octane action. The cliff-hanging end was ingenuous and makes it possible for Taurez to continue her disturbing, spell-casting drama that readers are sure to enjoy. To sum it all up in a few words, this is a crazy over-the-top ride! RATED 4 out of 5 STARS

36215108I also promised to give THE RIP by Andy Ben a look-see this week and will report on my findings very soon!

Now that’s A LOT of reading!!

Kaylin

RT Review for Banished Threads

  • BANISHED THREADS
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Kaylin McFarren
  • 4 stars
  • HOT

USReview Book Image

Readers will get quite a thrill from McFarren’s latest Threads novel! Chase and Rachel are back in this fast-paced romantic suspense, based in an art gallery in England. It’s full of family drama, stolen art, kidnapping and even more exciting sex between the globe-trotting couple. The story moves along at a brisk pace with plenty of peripheral characters to keep things interesting.

SUMMARY: Treasure hunters Rachel Lyons and Chase Cohen sail to London looking to secure her uncle’s blessing for their upcoming nuptials. Pregnant, Rachel is starting to have second thoughts about the future. Those doubts take a back seat when they arrive in England and priceless artwork is stolen from Rachel’s uncle’s art gallery. The drama skyrockets once her uncle’s granddaughter is kidnapped and Rachel and Chase are dragged into a dangerous, life-threatening quagmire. (CreativeEdgePublishing, Mar., 259 pp., $9.95)

Susan Roberts, Romantic Times Review Source

Book Reviewers Wanted

A lone figure stood in the estuary lookout nestled in the trees above the North Sea on the Holderness Coast, waiting with restless anticipation as Gwen Gallagher approached the cliff’s edge. A quick adjustment to the night- vision binoculars allowed the watcher a closer view of the twenty-eight-year-old secretary as she savored the last autumn sunset she would ever see. The crisp, cool air picked up speed, leaving her long black hair sailing like a ghostly pirate’s flag behind her. It lifted the hem of her black skirt slightly, exposing her white, shapely legs and black suede booties to the wintry elements. Her blue eyes sparkled as they swept across the landscape, appraising the beauty surrounding them. She raised her chin toward the darkening sky and smiled, obviously believing the note she had received, inviting her here, had come from her married lover.

As Gwen moved even closer to the edge, the watcher took a deep breath. All that remained between this ludicrous woman and the vividly blue ocean was two meters of solid rock. From the lookout vantage point, there was barely enough light to confirm that she was staring down at the tossing sands and churning water, mesmerized by the early evening breeze. All it would take was one push, and she would feel the rush of wind through her hair and see the crystal-blue sea one last time as she slammed headlong into the jagged rocks.

Interested in reading my latest release and providing your honest to goodness review? Much-anticipated Banished Threads  the third book in my Threads series, featuring treasure hunters and adventure seekers Rachel Lyons and Chase Cohen, will be coming to Amazon, B&N and independent book stores this spring (Creative Edge Publishing LLC, March 20, 2016). If you’d like to receive an advance copy, please let me know and I’ll try my best to accommodate the hosts of review sites willing to spread the word.

USReview Book Image

Book Summary: While vacationing at the Cumberforge Manor in Bellwood, England, Rachel and Chase attend an elegant dinner party hosted by her uncle, Paul Lyons, and his aristocratic wife, Sara. Before the evening ends, a priceless collection of Morris Graves’ paintings are stolen from her uncle’s popular gallery, throwing all suspicion onto his wife’s troubled granddaughter Sloan, and turning Rachel and Chase into crime-stopping sleuths. Determined to clear Sloan’s name and, in the process, win Paul’s favor, Chase scours the countryside looking for answers. In his absence, the police accuse Rachel’s uncle of an unsolved murder and secrets surrounding her grandmother’s death and the deaths of Sara’s former husbands turn his wife into the most likely suspect.

With the true villains hell-bent on destroying Paul and his family, solving both crimes while ensuring her uncle’s freedom not only endangers Rachel’s life but that of her unborn child. Will Chase save them before the kidnappers enact their revenge or will the ultimate price be paid, as predicted by a vagabond fortuneteller?

Read the book to find to out! Send your request for Banished Threads to Kaylin@kaylinmcfaren.com.

Thank you!

New, Hard-hitting Reviews for Severed Threads!

I’m very excited about the latest editorial reviews I’ve received for Severed Threads and thought I would take a moment to share them. 

“In this romantic suspense novel, a woman and her ex fight to recover a mysterious relic from a wrecked ship—and maybe salvage their relationship along the way.

The last person Rachel Lyons, marine biologist turned foundation executive, wants to see is her former love interest, Chase Cohen. He was working with her father, Sam, as an ocean salvager until Sam’s death in a diving accident, after which Chase disappeared with no more than a scribbled note. Even when a museum director begs Rachel to help finish the business Sam and Chase started and recover an important relic, she declines. But when her brother is kidnapped by drug dealers and held for ransom, Rachel agrees to lend her father’s boat to the task of exploring a 400-year-old ship. It’s said to contain gold, porcelain and the “Heart of the Dragon”—a gift from an emperor’s beautiful concubine to her illicit lover. According to legend, the concubine’s ghost still protects it. As Rachel and Chase work to bring up treasure from the sunken ship, they must fight off dangers, uncover secrets and confront their mutual rekindled passion. McFarren (Flaherty’s Crossing, 2010) offers an exciting, romantic adventure story that’s anchored by well-researched, authentic technical details of boats, scuba diving, salvage law, Chinese history and underwater archaeology.

Watching the characters thoughtfully do their jobs makes them more appealing to the reader and heightens the novel’s boldly erotic love scenes; Chase and Rachel are more than just beautiful bodies. (It’s irksome, though, when Chase treats Rachel like a child, at one point having a crew member send her to bed and doping her against her knowledge when he wants her to rest.) McFarren’s varied cast—from professors to gangsters to salty dogs—feels well rounded; despite a few ethnic clichés, like the Native American “warrior” and a hard-drinking, lusty Irishman, she toys with expectations more than once. Some odd word choices and unfortunate mistakes show that the book could use an editor’s hand, but with plenty at stake, erotic chemistry, dastardly villains, a lost relic, an unusual setting and a touch of the supernatural, this indie novel could stand on any romance publisher’s shelf. The full package of thrills and romance.” • KIRKUS REVIEW

****1/2

“Chase Cohen and Sam Lyons went diving together searching salvage for the elusive riches that come with the perfect find. When Chase realized Sam had not come back up from the dive, he went looking for him. Sam did not make it and Chase, filled with guilt, had to tell Sam’s daughter Rachel.

Years later, Rachel was discussing business with Dr. Ying, the museum director, when Chase interrupted. She was furious and declared that the foundation she worked for would not fund any projects that involved Chase. With the combination of Rachel’s brother, who was in trouble up to his ears, Dr. Ying’s manipulations, and Rachel’s unquenchable need to mend the past, she was had no choice but to search for the Heart of the Dragon.
Dive right in; the water is full of danger, intrigue, and passion. This treasure‑hunting jewel of a story will hold the reader captive to the very last page.” • LAUREN CALDER, Affaire de Coeur magazine

“Sometimes it is only when you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders that you really see what it is you want and what it is you are missing out of life. Such is the epiphany that Rachel Lyons comes to in the ever-suspenseful Severed Threads. Kaylin McFarren’s novel takes the reader through twists and turns as the story navigates romance and adventure, murder and mystery. With a central theme of guilt and deception, throughout all the action of the book, the reader sees the redemption of several of the characters; lessons are learned and bridges are built and crossed.

Believing herself to be the reason for her father’s death, Rachel has withdrawn from the world and the life she once knew to play it safe. With her last words to him replaying over and over in her head, playing it safe still wasn’t bringing her much happiness. She is stuck on this track until an old flame comes back into the picture, with tales of sunken treasure and undersea adventure. Forced into taking part in his quest because of the kidnapping of her brother, who has himself created a world of chaos after the passing of his father, Rachel sets out on a journey to discover hidden secrets, buried treasure, and herself. Throw in a little paranormal activity, curses and ghosts and such, and some strong sexual attractions, and the book will keep you on the edge of your toes throughout.

With so many plot turns and the many characters’ underlying stories, this novel is a true treasure unto itself. As a reader, I couldn’t put the book down because I constantly wanted to know what was going to happen next. Many of the ups and downs were not obvious, and I enjoyed the surprise as each revelation was made. The characters are extremely complex but real, and I found myself being very involved in their thoughts and actions. I felt for each character, questioned their reasoning and cheered them on.

It is easy to see through reading this book that McFarren familiarized herself with the information she was presenting in her book. The time and information she put into the history and the undersea world lent depth to the book and helped to present a very genuine story. I enjoy nothing more than a well-researched, thought provoking read, and Severed Threads definitely found itself in that category for me.” • SUZANNE GATTIS, Pacific Book Review