Spooks of Random: Unleashed Talk

nolabels-tftsGreetings!  No Labels here.  No, there’s not a book out called Spooks of Random that I’m about to review (although it does sound a bit catchy).  Just taking a small breather to address a few random things which have come my way in the wacky world of reviewing.

Question: In a lot of reviews, you and Mini Truth are very closely in sync when it comes to your thoughts on a book.  Keep it real, Unleashed One!  Are you and Mini Truth the same person?

minitruthbannerMini Truth

Answer: Believe it or not, I have gotten asked that question more than once, despite the fact that Mini Truth’s graphic and my graphic are vastly different.  However, the answer is no.  I’m not pretending to be a Latina that can go from laid back to She hulk in zero to sixty (looking around to see if she’s listening).  Mini Truth is not an African American female who juggles a full time office job, does reviewing, does columnist and editing work while still trying to adjust to married life.  I don’t Catfish, unless I’m cooking some for dinner.  Real talk.

Question: What are some of the most outrageous experiences you’ve had on the administrative side of The Review Board?

Answer: The biggest one which came to mind was someone who was deeply dissatisfied with the review given by two reviewers on my staff.  She got a bit impatient when I didn’t respond to the email in two shakes of a rabbit’s tail, since there is a time differential between my location and the other person’s and proceeded to go on a bit of rant on The Review Board’s Facebook page—even going so far as to accuse one of my reviewers of document tampering and lying.

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TRB understands that a writer is passionate about his or her material, and emotion can cause one to speak out.  Yet there is a fine line between being displeased and insulting one’s integrity and honesty.  The floor was given to the author until the line was crossed, then unfortunately, I exercised my right to ban.  I haven’t had anything that crazy occur since that time but who knows what the future may hold?

Question: What do you think the biggest misconception people have of you as a reviewer?

Answer: Besides thinking that Mini Truth and I are the same person?  Just kidding.  Well there are a few things. 

If I give a critical review, it has been said by some that I’m a bit heartless.  Even my fellow reviewers will tell you that I’m on the more considerate scale when it comes to delivery of “not-so-good” news.  Don’t believe me?  I invite you to check out Mr. Controversy and Mini Truth at times. 

Because I am an author myself, I do the best I can to balance criticism and suggestions for improvement, although a couple of moments it can be somewhat challenging.  What I’ve learned in doing reviews is no matter how gentle one can be with the criticism hammer, there is always going to be a person who gets feelings hurt.  The writing business isn’t for the weak hearted or the thin skinned.  If one wants to really be a success, he has to take the praise with the plummets: in my mind, that’s the only way one can grow.

Question: Back to the administrative side, are there any pet peeves you have in reference to someone a request?

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Answer: If I reveal these, I may sound like a hard ass.  Yet you asked so I will provide…

  • Being asked something in a request that has been covered in the Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Someone scrolling past the Frequently Asked Questions to fill out the contact form, asking “Where can I find the FAQ and guidelines?” (Yes, this has actually happened.)
  • Having a lot of extra information submitted along with the review request (sales sheet, what others have said, circus tricks…well, I over exaggerated the circus tricks thing)—this post will go into details as to my feelings about this; feel free to fast forward to #3 on it.
  • Outside solicitation after I’ve done a review for an author through TRB.  Only exception: I’ve specifically asked for the book or just have it on hand in my Amazon Kindle Reader app.  Sorry the person has to go through the process like everyone else.  Things I do reader wise as part of The Review Board take precedence.
  • Doing a mass email for review requests without changing the name of the person or group.  Some organizations consider one’s request an automatic reject if one can’t keep up with whom you are sending things to.

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The Review Board hasn’t implemented that as of yet, but like I mentioned before, who knows what the future may hold?

Question: What are some things that people who submit work should be doing, even if they are given no time frame on turnaround?

Answer: Speaking for The Review Board only (each spot does things differently), here are a few practices:

  • If there is a change of email address, it would be great to let those you submitted a review request know of the switch.  Reason being, once the review is completed, I tend to reach out via email along with it being Tweeted and Facebooked.  In addition, if the author gets selected as a potential Author Spotlight, email is the way I get in contact with the person.  I cannot always go through extra measures (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads)—it could be misinterpreted as stalker type behavior to some (and I definitely don’t want that drama).  In this situation, the author could miss out on the interview and a chance to share his/her future projects or current promotions.  Therefore, current contact information is crucial.
  • If the work has undergone significant changes (new title, new pseudonym, re-edited), reach out to the reviewer to submit a fresh copy.  Especially in instances of spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes, it can be the difference between a book getting high marks and a book getting mediocre or low marks.

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The reviewer works based off the copy submitted; there’s no way one can know there’s an updated version if the author didn’t keep the organization up to speed.  Nor does the organization have time to track down each and every author, inquiring if there’s updated copies.  Waiting until the review is live and crying “foul” afterward is too late.

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Well, that’s about all the time I have for Randoms today.  I can’t tell you when this opportunity will pop up again because it would defeat the purpose of it being random.

Enjoy the rest of your day!  For those who celebrate it, Happy Halloween.

KARR: Unleashed Speaks on The Hockey Saint

 hockeysaintThe Hockey Saint by Howard Shapiro
Amazon | Amazon Author Page

Genre: Graphic Novel

Note: I received this in paperback from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Greetings!  Unleashed here.  In this installment of the Kindle (more like Paperback) Random Robin, I share my thoughts on The Hockey Saint.

I will start off with the cons.

Cons= none

No, your eyes do not deceive.  I could not find anything that raised a red flag or was a sore thumb on this one.

smiley-7This graphic novel possesses a variety of strengths.

The illustrations were factual, vivid, and absolutely outstanding.  It made me feel as if I was at each and every location.

There were a variety of story lines going on that did not compete with each other but to bring a lot of depth into the characters and their experiences. There is more than meets the eye with Jeremiah Jacobson and Tom Leonard gets a chance to know the man behind all of the fame.

The bits of humor here and there touched my heart. One of my favorite scenes involved the grandmother and the bits of concern she displayed towards Tom when he was slacking in his studies because it reminded me so much of my own grandmother and how much she values education.

Although this book emphasizes hockey, the lessons in this work can apply in other areas of life. A true hero doesn’t need fame to be a saint but a lot of heart and dedication to help those who cannot help themselves. If one does have finances and celebrity, it is all about how one utilizes it, yet at the same token, recognize the inner demons and get help for them. Through their friendship, both Jeremiah and Tom learn better ways to deal with hurts that haunted them in the past.

10starsUnleashed Verdict: 10 out of 10 Stars

With action, humor, valuable lessons and breathtaking visuals, The Hockey Saint is a must read and I am very pleased to have this as a paperback in my library. I highly recommend.

Thanks for checking out the Kindle App (Paperback) Random Robin segment of The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, subscribe, and comment.  Have a terrific day!

Truth Vision Unleashed on ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Adventure

elsbethadventurebook2ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Adventure
Book Two in The Cape Cod Witch Series
by J. Bean Palmer (illustrated by Melanie Therrein)
Amazon | Amazon Author Page

Genre: Children (between 8-12)

Note: This book was submitted by the author in exchange for an honest review.  In addition, if there were any changes to the previous submitted work, TRB was not notified or given any updates.

Greetings!  The Review Board here to share our thoughts on ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Adventure.

Let’s start with Mini Truth’s perspective on ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Adventure.

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ElsBeth is a young witch from Cape Cod, Massachusetts who is learning to practice magic in a responsible way, as well as trying to learn how to be a good girl and a productive member of society. She is in the second grade and is apparently, per her teacher Ms. Finch, the dunce and biggest trouble maker in her class, albeit accidentally as ElsBeth always seems to get caught at the wrong time. She is always getting in big trouble by Mr. Finch. Of course, the class brown-noser, Robert Hillman-Jones, is of no help.

ElsBeth is trying her hardest to do the right thing but has a somewhat explosive temper and sometimes blows up.

The entire 2nd Grade will soon be going on a class trip to the historic city of Boston and ElsBeth’s grandmother is skeptical—over protective, more so—about allowing ElsBeth to join the trip.

Finally, the entire class, including ElsBeth make it to Boston and that’s when the big adventure begins. At this point, a Pirate Ghost, and Arabian Prince and a group of bandits and a boat named the Jolliest Roger join the mix.

My thoughts on this story, unfortunately, are not the best. Mostly, because I felt like the story line had lots of potential, however the execution was completely off in my humble opinion.

You will find my review broken down into bullets and sub-bullets, along with snippets for examples and references.bullet-points-importance-slide

My review will address this book from three different perspectives.

  • As a parent

  • As a teacher

  • As a child of the target age

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I really do not want to get too excessive with my review, or too drawn out for that matter, so I suppose I shall start with the Pros. They sadly were few.

  • I truly enjoyed the illustrations. They were colorful and eye catching.

  • I enjoyed the character of Bartholomew (the Frog/Native American Wampanoag Prince)

  • The attempt at some scholastic lessons throughout the story.

  • The story, while a part of a series, can definitely be read as a stand alone.

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Regrettably, that was it. The rest that I’m about to point out is a vast list of Cons that range from plot holes, to syntax.

  • Whilst the story has been written for a target audience of ages 8 and above, I feel like this particular work is too complicated and too long for an 8 year old.

  1. The length alone is a turn off for any 8 year old. I cannot foresee any 8 year old child delving into this book as it has a length of 120 pages, and due to the fact that there are not enough illustrations in it. Most 8 year olds are in 2nd grade and still trying to read Dr. Seuss. So, let’s be honest here, Dr. Seuss is a series of story books full of pictures and colors, and are also very short, yet most 8 years are still having trouble getting through them.

  2. The story line is too complicated for any 8 year old child, as it has too much going on, and there are too many characters involved.

  • I found that throughout the story there were too many plot holes, things that didn’t make sense, other things that need not be in the story, as well as some things that weren’t completely explained. Finally there was incomplete context.

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Following is an example of an incomplete thought that was left dangling.

ElsBeth was nervous about the upcoming trip, though. Her grandmother usually totally supported her interests, but this time Hannah was reluctant for the little witch to go.

“Too many ghosts and ghouls around that town. Mean spirited, too, most of them,” the older witch added each time the field trip was mentioned.

But it had become difficult for ElsBeth to have any serious discussion at all with her grandmother lately. She was completely preoccupied with all the odd happenings around town.

Here is the problem with the above. The grandmother’s thought was left incomplete, ended with a comma which makes the reader believe that there will be more added to it later, yet the ‘more‘ never comes.

  • Here is an example of an inconsistency.

At the very beginning of the story the narrative relates that ElsBeth doesn’t particularly like to make friends that are boys. However, in the very next sentence it says that she had several friends that are boys that she’d known for a long time. Among them were Robert Hillman-Jones and Johnny Twofeathers.

 

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  • There was also the matter of a 2nd Grader being put on detention. Following is the evidence:

Ms. Finch turned sharply. “Detention, Ms. Thistle. You’ll stay after school for the rest of the week. You lack discipline, young lady!

And I’m just the one to fix that,” the teacher sneered.

Here are my problems with the above.

  1. 2nd Graders, by law, are not allowed to take detention, as they are no more than 7 or 8 years old.

  2. So if firstly, they are not allowed to take detention, then why would the teacher even venture on giving the child detention for an entire week?

  3. Detention is a school rule applied to children of middle school/junior high age and above.

  • Also, the narrative relates that the 2nd grade had Study Hall. Study Hall is a high school subject, not elementary school.

  • The set of the way the book reads and feels like it is more for an audience of middle school/junior high and high school. Mostly because it is related that ElsBeth gets put on detention during math class, which per the context of the story seems more like it’s math period/hour.

All right, so there were the above, which were some of plot holes albeit not all of the ones in the story, as I found many, many more. Now, since I do not want to spend this entire review fixated on plot holes and inconsistencies alone, I shall move forward.

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  • There was also the matter of improper syntax.

1. Too many (and when I say too many, I mean every single page had them) sentences stared with conjunctions. Here are examples of just a few:

Page 12:
But she made up her mind. She really would have to talk with Sylvanas. And get him to answer. Right after dessert! That morning, Grandmother had said they might have maple custard at supper. And with the thought of this tempting treat, all else, for now, was instantly forgotten.

Now, I must be clear and say that this is just one snippet from a single page that was inundated with sentences that started with “But” and “And.”

2. The excessive use of parentheses.
It seemed like every time the author wanted to implement some random, unnecessary information, she’d put it in with parentheses. Here are some examples:

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Page 24:
After dinner ElsBeth completed her homework and her chores. (Even witches have to do chores every day.)

Page 48:
Most of the children looked confused. (Except those destined to be lawyers and politicians — to them this made perfect sense.)

Page 93:
It was a Mexican standoff (whatever that is) to end all standoffs. And for a moment no one moved an inch.
The baby dragon had bumbled its way over to see what all the noise was. (Dragons are terribly curious.)

Page 96:
Mac jumped out of the bus and shimmied up a copper drainpipe, a ceremonial sword gripped between his teeth. (He used this for his Irish sword dancing exhibitions and always kept one hidden, but handy, under the driver’s seat of his bus, in case of emergency.)

Let’s just say that every time the author wanted to implement or interject some arbitrary information parentheses was used, more so in the latter end of the book.

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  • Here we find not only several sentences that start with conjunctions but also a switch between first person narrative and third person.

Page 101:

And Xavier says he’s my cousin! What could he mean? Grandmother won’t talk much about the family. She says it’s still too painful. And what does she mean by that? And Grandmother is all fuddled now. How will I ever understand? The little witch felt tears well up into her eyes. But then she felt attention on her from the front of the bus, and looked up.

  • There was also the excessive use of commas, hyphens—particularly unnecessary ones, and long (also known as EM) dashes.

Here is something that really bothered me. It was that during dialogue one would continually see a conversation started with quotations that ended without, then continued on another line which started with a quotation mark again. This is very confusing because the new line tends to make one’s brain believe that it’s another character speaking. Here is an example:

“I know,” Violet said. “I’ve been thinking quite a lot about it.

“There’s something fishy about our teacher, Mr. Benedict. When I get back, I’m going to talk with Prince Abu and we’ll do some detective work.

“I have the idea Mr. Benedict was somehow in on the kidnapping. I noticed he didn’t look at all surprised when it happened. Almost like he expected it.

“First, I’m going to call the school and tell them he gave me permission to stay overnight with you. And I bet he won’t dare say anything.

“It’s a boarding school, after all, and the last thing they’ll want is to have to tell my parents they lost me for a whole day.

“I don’t think I’m going to be in any trouble at all,” Violet smiled. “I think we might find someone else is.”

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As you can see, that can fool the eye and be very confusing.

  • I feel like it took too long for the actual “adventure” part of the story to start. The entire first quarter of the book is all about ElsBeth, her school and daily life. It almost made me think that there was going to be no ‘adventure’. I thought to myself “What 8 year old kid is going to wait this long for an adventure to being?” None that I know of.

Here are my final thoughts.

When a book is written for children it’s super important that said book have, above all, proper syntax, as every book that a child picks up is a lesson learned in the English language. When a children’s book lacks proper syntax, it’s almost unforgivable, because the point of a children’s book is not only to entertain but to teach.

Also, rationale should be a big element in any book, children’s or otherwise. So, when a story lacks rationality it makes for a very bewildering read.

My thoughts are that if this book were properly edited and some of the inconsistencies, plot holes and randomness were cut, the book would be half its size and therefore much more appealing to children. There is much more that I can say about ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Adventure—from my bane for certain characters, ElsBeth included, to the fundamental entertainment of the story that isn’t really even there. However, I’ll keep it short…

THIS BOOK NEEDS A LOT OF WORK! I don’t care how many awards it’s received.

4 TRB Stars.

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Next we will find out what Nikki sees in the story.

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I wasn’t sure that I was going to enjoy this book at first because I thought that the first paragraph, the opening in fact, was unnecessary and not well written. I preferred the next paragraph with ElsBeth in school, it was more immediate and put us straight into the story, which is about the youngest witch in Cape Cod, who goes on a school trip to Boston against her grandmother’s wishes,because witches come to no good in that city. However the seemingly ordinary trip, turns out to be quite an adventure with pirates and a kidnapped prince, she must save.

She is joined by a whole host of magical creatures, from bats that can talk to musical chipmunks, and fairies, that aim to keep her safe on this strange and often perilous journey.

I loved the illustrations by Melanie Therrien, they really added to the text, were beautifully executed and young readers will adore them I’m sure. Some of the characters are very engaging; I was particularly taken with Professor Badinoff, ElsBeth’s familiar, who helps her to understand math problems in a very entertaining way (me too, if I’m honest). There are elements of history and cultural reference that are neatly intermingled with the plotline and I thought that was a good way to educate young readers without boring them with lesson-type narrative. Another favourite was Sir Percival Parrot; he had a brave yet vulnerable side that made him easy to identify with when the action became perilous. Sylvanas, the oversized cat, who tries to keep order, was a great character too. And of course, the ‘Dreaded Baby Dragon’, who doesn’t love a baby dragon?

Sometimes the point of view shifted too often, and I would have liked to stay with a character a little longer before going onto the next one. Rapid scene changes from chapter to chapter, was also a little off-putting, as again, I wanted to stay with the action rather than go to another location and yet more new characters. I wasn’t too keen on the odd chapter lengths. There didn’t seem to be that much consistency in the word count. Sometimes the chapters would be shortish, then a bit longer, then very short, and I felt this made the narrative somewhat disjointed on occasions. I also felt that it took too long to get into the real adventure part. Maybe J Bean Palmer, was trying to get all the necessary history detail in and this overshadowed the actual action scenes. The final chapter wasn’t great, and a bit disappointing after the marvelous and exciting earlier scenes. Maybe it could just be a little shorter to give impact. The beginning and the ending are what most readers will remember after they have read a book, so they should be the ones that deliver.

 Vision Verdict: 8 TRB Stars

Having said all that, I really enjoyed this book. There were some great descriptions that made you feel as though you were there and living the action. Overall it is well-written and entertaining. I noticed that the book is aimed at 9-12 year olds, but I think the style and simplicity of language and plot line would suit a younger audience. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a good action-packed and informative read, no matter what the age, there is enough content in here to satisfy all who enjoy a good romp.

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Now it is time to get No Labels’ observations:

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Unleashed Speaks

Wow!  Mini Truth was pretty thorough in her thoughts in regards to this story and in quite a few areas I agree.  At times, I will make a few comparisons between the first book and the second book, since I am one of the reviewers who will be immersing in the whole series.  I won’t re-emphasize these following points because they’ve been covered in immense detail:

  • Improper syntax
  • School inconsistency (in reference to detention)

Yet there are still some additional things I would like to point out.

Let’s get started with the pros.

Pros

  • Just like in the first book, I am fanatic about the illustrations.
  • Although I didn’t care for ElsBeth previously, she has redeemed herself somewhat in this book.  She exhibits more maturity, although her temper was a deterrent a few times.
  • Historical references provided a learning experience for children and adults alike.
  • Few bits of humor here and there which.
  • Everywhere one looked, there was conflict.  It is definitely important to keep action at the forefront when marketing to the young.

Cons

  • Where the first book ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Treasure was balanced in length, I think ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Adventure is too lengthy. Although it may not seem like it if an adult is reading this to a youth, if one (within the nine to ten year old range) were to pick it up on his own, then it may prove to be a bit of a challenge to some.

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  • Unless proceeds of this book are going to Ford, Abercrombie & Finch, Nordstrom (singular and not with the ‘s, as shown in the book— thanks, Mr. Controversy) and L.L. Bean, I still haven’t been able to decode why there is so much product placement occurring within this series.  If the author wants to paint out the socioeconomic background of a kid or the parents, there must be a smoother way than this method.  Yet, another part of me feels this ongoing practice does not add any value to the narrative.  In my opinion it detracts and teeters on giving too much emphasis on having expensive things rather than treasuring priceless relationships.
Not quite this many but you get the picture...

Not quite this many but you get the picture…

  • There are way too many characters in this installment.  Although a lot of the named animals are adorable (those were my favorite illustrations) they, along with the names of all the students on the Boston trip, can start meshing together.  The students from the other schools didn’t seem necessary—they served as buffering of the ongoing action.
  • Action can also serve as a pro, and in this situation, a con as well.  For a really young person picking up this book, there is a tremendous amount of drama.  From the plight of ElsBeth’s grandmother and ElsBeth’s development of her powers to the kidnapping of a prince and hunting down the Pirate’s Treasure, where does one focus?
  • The characters are portrayed as being in the second grade yet the dialogue is extremely mature in some spots.
  • More variety and frequency in the graphics: For people who have read the first book, they will notice a repeat in quite a few of the images.  I’m not saying that they should not be repeated because there’s no guarantee that everyone will read the first book.  Yet there has to be a great array of images that relate to the current story as well as the previous one.  Otherwise, they will seem disjointed.  Also, there was a nice moon graphic at the end of some chapters that didn’t repeat for the ending of other chapters.  It would have been beautiful symmetry if the use of it was consistent.

Confession (and this is just an Unleashed quirk)— When a visual of a new character or idea is presented, I like for it to be shown in the closest proximity possible to the text.  In other words, if an animal is mentioned in the narrative, it’s more beneficial for me to see the animal within the next one to two pages.  If the visual isn’t shown until slightly later than that, one risks (especially in a work as fast paced as this one) not being able to remember that illustrations purpose to the story.

Final thoughts/suggestions:

1. One should keep the visual presentation as pristine as possible, since the early tangent of the target audience is still learning proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

2. In a youth’s work that is of a significant length, there has to be layering between illustrations and narrative.

3. Never lose sight on the age of your primary characters, and ensure the dialogue behaves accordingly.

4. Don’t throw in too many characters, particularly if the majority serve minimal to nonexistent purpose in components of the read.  It’s better to have a couple of characters that are stand outs than a mob of blend ins.

5. Watch out for comparisons or current terminology that may not necessarily be youth compatible (such as the Ben Franklin discussion in Chapter 11 and the Mexican standoff reference among the pirate, kids and the kidnappers).

6. Don’t try to throw in too much unnecessary information.  Just because an adult may care about the extras doesn’t mean the target (or younger) audience will.

7. Be careful not to flood the book with too much action, explicitly if it pushes the “Pirate’s Adventure” to the back burner.

Taking all the pros and cons into play, in its current presentation, ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Adventure gets 5.5 TRB Stars.

Adding all of the stars up and dividing by three, ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Adventure receives 6 (5.8 rounded up) out of 10 TRB Stars.

6stars6 out of 10 TRB Stars

Thanks for checking out The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share and subscribe.  Have a terrific day.

The Harmonious Wordsmith of Controversy Unleashed on ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Treasure

elsbethtreasurebook1ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Treasure
Book One in The Cape Cod Witch Series
by J. Bean Palmer
Amazon | Amazon Author Page

Genre: Children’s

Note: This review is based on the copy submitted by the author at the time of intake.

Greetings!  The Review Board here to give our take on ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Treasure by J. Bean Palmer (illustrated by Melanie Therrien).  Before we dive into the reviews, let’s get a peek at the blurb courtesy of Amazon:

Blurb: When Halloween approaches, a never-quite-forgotten pirate’s treasure awakens some serious trouble in the sleepy Cape Cod town. ElsBeth Amelia Thistle, who happens to be the youngest witch on the Cape, and her friend Johnny Twofeathers, chief-to-be of the local Wampanoag tribe — together with a cast of spirited classmates and curious magical creatures (including two troublesome fairies from the old country) — must face off against dangerous outsiders, and the notorious pirate Billy Bowlegs, to restore the balance of past and present, good and evil.

First to share her thoughts, Harmony Kent.

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This is the first book in the Cape Cod Witch Series, and follows ElsBeth and her classmates on their adventures during Halloween. What none of her friends know, though, is that ElsBeth is a witch. This young girl has to find a way to keep her secret, well … a secret, while at the same time attempting to save her friends from danger.

This is a nice length book for children getting into their first ‘chapter’ books. The language is simple, and the story full of fun and light adventure. I adore the illustrations, which are colourful and show the story beautifully.

As a reviewer, I can be a bit of a stickler when it comes to editorial issues, and even more so when this pertains to children’s books. This is because, as well as being for fun, they are also teaching children as they read. To my mind, this makes it even more important that we get the grammar, spelling, and punctuation as correct as we can. So, when I see plenty of introductory clauses without commas following, as well as split infinitives and comma splices, I’m not happy. Add to this, passive writing and delaying the action with lots of “began to/started to” formulations, and filter words, etc., the book is going to lose brownie points from me.

One place in the book contains what I feel is age-inappropriate content. The school principal is ruminating on the fact he will have to “slow down at happy hour over at the Dan’l Webster Inn.” This is a young children’s book! This added nothing to the story from the perspective of its intended audience, and I feel it is out of place. There are also a couple of instances of product placement, which again add nothing to the read, and I feel would be better left out.

Harmony Verdict

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The illustrations get top marks from me. So too does the character and plot development. What prevents me from giving a high score, though, is the need for further editing. With the elimination of the bit about “happy hour”, I feel this is a suitable light and fun read for youngsters. As it stands I offer 6.5 Stars out of 10 TRB Stars.

witchhatdividerNext on her observations, Wordsmith Andi:

WordsmithLogoThe Wordsmith Weighs In

This children’s book was a cute, short read. True to the book’s blurb, ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Treasure is about a little girl named ElsBeth who is in second grade and happens to be a witch, and becomes embroiled in a search for pirate’s treasure gone awry. Evenly-paced and written for a young reader, this story is nonetheless delivered with maturity and great respect for the subject, characters and plot.

ElsBeth is precocious and well liked by her peers, a born leader when the thick of the action sets in. Each of her classmates has a face and a name and a personality to match. Cape Cod is brought to life on the page through the physical descriptions as well as the inclusion of real life history.

Hannah Goodspell, ElsBeth’s grandmother, is an intriguing character. Palmer tells us, through Hannah’s recounting; the old woman is from the Old Country and a witch of renown. She has a rich history only barely touched upon in this story, apparently told in another book. There is an unstated, or perhaps unintentional, mystery concerning why Hannah is raising her granddaughter. The whereabouts of ElsBeth’s parents is never disclosed or explored. I was also somewhat confused on Hannah’s exact age since the story is set in modern time yet Hannah came to the New World with her husband in the time of the Salem Witch Trials.

Despite these vagaries the story not adversely affected, and is steeped in magic and history. This is a tale of courage and commitment to community and friends against adversity, even the magical kind. The addition of artwork depicting the various characters or scenes adds a quaint visual note to appreciate.

I give Elsbeth and the Pirate’s Treasure 9 out of 10 stars.

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Time to add a little Controversy…Mr. Controversy that is.

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J Bean Palmer’s “ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Treasure” revolves around ElsBeth, a second grader who happens to be a witch with A LOT of promise. She is the granddaughter of Hannah Prudence Godspell, a very well-respected witch. ElsBeth learns to adjust and adapt to everyday life: the second grade (WE ALL HAVE BEEN THERE: GUARANTEED). A dream in particular that young ElsBeth had will begin to shape Elsbeth’s life, giving birth to a series of events that’ll test her mettle and legitimacy in the realm of being worthy of the title “Witch.”

BEFORE WE GO ANY FURTHER:

I am a pretty simple person:

I look for Coherence.  I look for Flaws.  I look for detail in ALL works (whether it is Poetry, Stories, etc.).  I LOVE to envision myself at that place in that moment in time.  Most of all, I look for something that I would LOVE to have on my bookshelf; something at which that I can look, and smile brightly because it was THAT DAMN GOOD.

I am EXTREMELY Honest when I review.

If I LIKE your work, I will let you know.

If I do not Like your work…

Not only will I REALLY let you know, I will point out more than three examples, correct your work (based on the examples pointed out by yours truly), and give your work a Low Score based on The Review Board’s Ten-Star System which I Designed.

Also, I am very open-minded and will read anything.

I will quickly trust one or two star reviews OVER three through five star reviews on other websites. Those who have reviewed books THAT LOW are from reviewers who see that the work is not done well, and it prepares me mentally for what to expect from the writer.

My BIGGEST Pet Peeve is when I (or any of The Ladies of TRB) do a review and we are HONEST with our reviews and opinions, the author of the work complains about the review that THEY SOUGHT OUT with us.

I WILL be the first to let One know that YOU looked to us to be Honest; DO NOT complain about the VERY THING that you requested from us.  IF that does happen, your rating WILL drop by Two Stars (by MY HAND) GUARANTEED and I will note it IN BOLD PRINT in the review (whether it is my review, or one of The Ladies of TRB).

 

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I LOVE the illustrations in this story. I like seeing a picture or two in a story from time to time; keeps my attention. The illustration of Elsbeth’s home reminds me of the Halliwell Manor from the show “Charmed”.

Story wise, “ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Treasure” has a Harry Potter feel; it is fine with me! I can envision myself sitting in the classroom with the battle-axe Ms. Finch, can see the lush and full garden that Ms. Hannah Prudence Godspell is tending, Sylvanas the cat, and Bartholomew the bullfrog. The story has promise and potential to gain a large following, and I LOVE THAT about this book.
Screenshot_2014-10-27-15-25-08 Screenshot_2014-10-27-15-25-14Screenshot_2014-10-27-15-25-18Screenshot_2014-10-27-15-25-23Screenshot_2014-10-27-15-25-29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a lot of missed opportunities in regards to Punctuation Marks; misplacement as well as over usages (NOTE: these screen shots are WITHIN the first 10 pages).

 

Screenshot_2014-10-27-15-34-09 Screenshot_2014-10-27-15-34-16 Screenshot_2014-10-27-15-34-21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The thing that caught my attention IMMEDIATELY are sentences beginning with the word “and.” This is a BIG literary No-No, and there are A LOT of sentences that start with the word “and.” This takes away from the story if one who is reading happens to be a stickler for literary excellence.

Paragraphs in this read are used in excess to the point where I had to think, “Are ALL of these paragraphs REALLY necessary?” Those paragraphs could have been greatly condensed for an easier flow in reading.

 

ElsBeth1 ElsBeth2 Elsbeth3

Aside from this, there are three words printed on the above ElsBeth book covers:

“Award Winning Series.”

Thanks to our fellow TRB reviewer Mini Truth, she has pointed me to a site showing a list of Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Winners, which include Elsbeth.

HOWEVER…

Bronze Medal

Book 3, “ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties,” won the Moonbeam Bronze Medal for pre-teen fiction for 2014.

 

Books 1 and 2 ONLY RECEIVED an Honorable Mention as shown on this Screenshot AND shown on the Cape Cod Witch Announcements webpage.

ElsBeth Award List

 

Honorable Mention on the Wise Geek website defines the term as “merely a name given to a distinction that may or may not be awarded at the end of a contest, exhibition, or competition. The definition implies that it is a distinction given to a entry worthy of mention, but not warranting top prize or first place. Depending on the rules and regulation of a given competition or contest, this may be the same as third to fifth place or may be part of an award given to a collective number of participants who rate the distinction.”
On eHow’s website, Honorable Mention is defined as “Events ranging from art exhibitions to sports contests and state fairs sometimes award prizes for achievements, accomplishments or excellence. While the top prizes may be ranked as first or second place, an entrant that narrowly missed out on one of the key prizes is sometimes granted an honorable mention. This means that the presented work is worth attention and honor, but did not quite rank highly enough according to the judgment criteria.”
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines Honorable mention as, “an award or special praise given to someone who has done something extremely well but who has not won any of the official prizes.”

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Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards give awards on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medal system. It would STRONGLY stand to reason that Honorable Mention would begin at Fourth Place.

To go one step further, I emailed Mr. Jim Barnes earlier this afternoon (October 27, 2014), Editor and Awards Director at Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, and this was his response as to Honorable Mentions (NOTE: Open Image in New Tab to see emailed response clearly):

Jim Barnes email

To me, DESPITE Honorable Mention being described as an award on several sites, it is not an award TO AN EXTENT.

In simpler terms and in MY VIEW, if a book DID NOT garner the Gold, Silver, or Bronze Medal, then it IS NOT an Award Winner.

If people want to get mad at me because I researched AND inquired about an award system AS WELL AS confirm it with the Editor and Awards Director of said award system (in this case, Mr. Jim Barnes), then by all means, be my guest. Your response to what was discovered WILL let us all know how you are facing AND handling this Adversity.

Allow me to clarify:

In NO WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM did I call anyone the “L” word (“L” word being “Liar” as it pertains to the award(s) received). If I did, PLEASE point out the EXACT sentence in my review where I called someone that horrible word.

 

Source: familyfeud

6 out of 10 stars

“ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Treasure” could be bit of a gauntlet read for those who are easily distracted by grammatical errors. More eyes on this book for that particular reason would have raised its score as well as its enjoyability. Other than that, you all should give this book a chance and see for yourself why I say it has potential, and can gain a following.

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Last but not least, Unleashed Speaks.

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Confession: I am a bit of a kid at heart so when a children’s book comes my way, I look forward to indulging in the pages.  When the target audience is from age eight and up, there are particular things I look for:

  • Illustrations
  • Plot holes
  • Pacing that keeps a young person’s interest
  • Proper syntax (spelling, grammar, punctuation)
  • Interesting characters
  • Just enough or if there’s a lot of information, adds and not distracts from the story

I’ll try to be as brief as I can, however, I can make no promises.

Pros

Illustrations: The illustrator did a fantastic job.  A few of my favorite drawings was of Sylvanas (the cat), Bartholomew (the frog), and Billy (the pirate).  The amount of bright colors definitely served to attract attention.  The cover was a great combination of colors as well but bordered on being a little too busy.

Pacing: The pacing of the first installment of the series was reasonable.  Not too slow but it’s not what one would call action at every turn either.

Tidy Plot: There were no plot holes that I could pick up on which could cause confusion for the reader.

Resolution: The resolution was not one that was a cliffhanger.  Therefore, one could probably read the second and third installment of the Cape Cod Witch series without thinking he/she has missed anything.  In other words, it is terrific that ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Treasure can stand on its own.

Cons

Lack of a likable main character: In a children’s book, I feel that one of the most likable characters should be the main character. Unfortunately I found the main character ElsBeth to be a bit of a brat.  Although her cat Sylvanas was the main one causing the mischief, the fact that ElsBeth found it a little funny slightly mirrors a “mean girl” mentality.  The supporting cast (ElsBeth’s grandmother, Bartholomew the bat, and the seal, for example) were a lot more appealing.

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Proper visual presentation: In my opinion, books for young people should not only be fun but also serve to teach as well.  One major component of proper teaching is to ensure that the rules of grammar and punctuation are followed.  There were numerous times where such rules were violated.

(1) Use of conjunctions to start sentences.  Although the rule has been relaxed slightly in this regard over the  years, I am not a fan of seeing sentences starting with conjunctions, like “and” or “but”.  On almost every page, this crime was committed.  A child should be taught the proper way to use words before taking it upon him or herself to break the rule.

(2) The weird use of quotation marks. In this book, I found several passages where there were strange usage of quotation marks.  The following example will mimic what I’ve seen.

Andrew continued, “The lady wanted to give me a gift.
“It looked too expensive for my tastes.
“Therefore, I had to decline.”

For me, this structure is confusing because on the next line, it could be interpreted that another person is speaking instead of knowing that it is the same person.  Also, it makes one think that the author just left off quotation marks.  It’s better to follow the rules as it pertains to quotation marks rather than this unorthodox method.

Andrew continued, “The lady wanted to give me a gift.  It looked too expensive for my tastes. Therefore, I had to decline.”

(3) Abundance of hyphenated words: There were quite a few words that were hyphenated that didn’t need them at all.

Vocabulary: If a young child (in the 8-9 year old range) was reading this book for him (or her) self, some of the language may be a little too advanced for comprehension.

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Mention of Name Brands: Does the author have a contract with L.L. Bean?  Don’t get me wrong; they have good outdoor stuff.  I just couldn’t understand why name brands were mentioned in this particular work. Most in the target age group do not really care about these distinctions, particular those who are close to the age of the main character, who is seven.

Too much extra and off kilter information:  In some spots, there was information that didn’t add anything to the narrative, like ElsBeth wanting to get her vegetable garden spell perfect, the “Happy Hour” inference, and Mr. Sparks’ “meltdown” (the latter two I feel aren’t age appropriate).  At least, I wouldn’t want my child interrupting the reading to ask the definitions of “Happy Hour” and “meltdown”.

Overall Verdict: 6.5 out of 10 Stars.

ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Treasure has great potential.  I like the element of teamwork in the story and the history incorporated as it pertains to Cape Cod.  However, I feel like the book is suffering an identity crisis.  In some places, it truly reads elementary school while in others, mannerisms and dialogue mimic junior high/high school.  There has to be balance in presentation between an adult reading this work to the child, and the youth deciding to read this work alone.  If some of these inconsistencies are worked out, along with some further editing, a higher ranking would have definitely been obtainable.

Now let’s take all the scores and divide it by the number of reviewers:

7stars

Overall, ElsBeth and the Pirate’s Treasure gets 7 out of 10 TRB Stars.

Thanks for checking out The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, and subscribe.  Have a great day!

Unleashed Speaks on Hell in a Cell (2014)

HIAC-Poster

Greetings! No Labels here to share my thoughts on Hell in a Cell 2014.  Before I get started, I want to share Mr. Controversy’s as well as my own predictions as to who would win the following matches.

Ziggler vs. Cesaro for the Intercontinental Championship (2 out of 3 falls):
Mr. Controversy: Ziggler (will go all three falls)
Unleashed: Ziggler (have a feeling it will only go two)

Why Ziggler? I think WWE missed out on the opportunity to push Cesaro properly after Wrestlemania.  If they are to truly redeem themselves for this mess up, it’s better to do it at Survivor Series, which is still considered one of the top four–although the concept has become watered down.  For that reason, I don’t think they will let Cesaro have this win.

Nikki Bella vs. Brie Bella (The loser has to be the winner’s servant for thirty days; if the loser fails to comply then she will have to quit)
Mr. Controversy: Nikki
Unleashed: Nikki

Why Nikki? Frankly, I don’t give a horse’s rump about this feud.  If it had been capitalized just right at Summer Slam, then I would be interested.  The only way to have this whole feud mean something is for Nikki to win it, although I will be snoozing through the promos for this.

The Usos vs. Gold & Stardust for the WWE Tag Team Championship
Mr. Controversy: Gold and Stardust
Unleashed: Gold and Stardust

Why the “Dust” brothers? I really like seeing the belts on them.  Although Cody was going through a slump solo wise, he is doing well as being the “Riddler” like Stardust.  Goldust is in fantastic shape and looks just as good (or even better) than he did when he debuted in the mid 1990’s.

Cena vs. Orton (the winner goes on to face Brock Lesnar for the Championship)–1st HIAC Main Event
Mr. Controversy: Orton (wild card pick)
Unleashed: Orton

Why Orton? (1) I’m tired of the Cena vs. Lesnar feud. (2) It would be interesting to see if Orton can beat Lesnar, especially with Seth still holding the briefcase–adding more fuel to the Alpha male bickering between Orton and Rollins.

Sheamus vs. Miz (United States title match)
Mr. Controversy: The Miz
Unleashed: Sheamus (after last minute deliberation)

Why Sheamus? I was almost convinced to go with the Miz, not because I really particular like him but because I’m wondering if WWE is going to change Sheamus’ character.  Yet the episode of Smackdown prior to the PPV had me do some more thinking, and once I saw the pre show I decided to stick with Sheamus.  The duo of Miz and Damien Mizdow is too hilarious and I just have a hunch if WWE decided to put the belt on Miz right then, it would be a matter of time before Damien decided he gets more cheers (which is true) than the so called “main event” Miz, which would cause a feud when Damien is starting to catch fire again.  I think that should be a bit more important than the attempt to switch Sheamus back to a heel.

AJ Lee vs. Paige (Divas Championship)
Mr. Controversy: Paige
Unleashed: AJ (don’t really care but just to be different)

Why AJ? Until WWE can figure out what exactly they are doing with Paige, I would rather they just keep it on AJ. I’m so tired of seeing which crazy chic can outdo the other crazy chic with Alicia Fox being a pawn between the two.

Big Show vs. Rusev
Mr. Controversy: Rusev
Unleashed: Rusev

Why Rusev? For two reasons: (1) To keep Rusev’s character looking strong, even when he’s close to being defeated and (2) Every time Big Show looks strong prior to a pay-per-view, he tends to end up losing at the PPV.  It’s just his M.O.

Ambrose vs. Rollins (2nd HIAC Main Event)
Mr. Controversy: Rollins
Unleashed: Rollins

Why Rollins? Ever since Mr. “Best for Business” has put the MITB contract in Seth Rollins hands, I’ll admit: I’m not convinced.  Rollins has to keep on cheating to get the win, so as much as I want this to be clean, Rollins hasn’t let us down yet in trickery.  Besides, I don’t want one of the hottest feuds going to end.  Not saying that an Ambrose win would do that but it will take out some of the fizzle.

nolabels-tftsI’m going to do this review a bit differently.  First, I’m going to tell everyone what this review is not getting.

It’s not getting a one because there were some matches that I deem must see.

However, it’s not getting a five either because there are pivotal matches where WWE Creative definitely dropped the ball.

So will Hell in a Cell 2014 get a 2, 3, 4 or somewhere in between?  Let’s find out.

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Matches I thought really stood out and kept me looking at Hell in a Cell, despite not being too enthused when the matches were first announced:

Ziggler v Cesaro1. Ziggler vs. Cesaro (2 out of 3 falls IC Title)
These two gentleman work very well together as it pertains to endurance, speed and strength.  They each had an answer for each others’ moves and there was never a dull moment.  The only flaws would be that it didn’t go longer or stretch to a third fall.  The winner ended up being Ziggler but this shouldn’t shut Cesaro out of the hunt.  If anything, he’ll get another chance at Survivor Series where he should reign victorious; however, if he doesn’t, then I really question (even more than I normally do) where WWE is investing their time and energy.

Cena v Orton2. Cena vs. Orton (right to face Brock Lesnar for Championship)
The last couple of times these two faced each other, it has been a bit boring.  However, this time was different–not because of Cena but because of the performance of Randy Orton.  The most beautiful move ever was when Orton countered the AA with the RKO.  Randy hadn’t been that impressive in a while.  You will see this match brought up a little bit later on as well, but I don’t want to reveal just yet as to why.

Ambrose v Rollins3. Ambrose vs. Rollins
Not necessarily the beginning, because it almost looked like we were in for some type of forfeit type -ish when there was going to be a stretcher roll-out.  Not in particular the ending either, which will be discussed a bit later on.  However the filling in the middle made for wonderful viewing, especially the antics from the side of the cell.

Honorable Mentions:

Usos v Dusts1. The Usos vs. Gold and Stardust
The reason why I’ve put them here is because I think they are growing a little weary of facing each other–not as must fizzle here as in their previous showings.  I do applaud how the move Goldust applied to secure the win for the team.

Big Show v Rusev2. Big Show vs. Rusev
The match was a pretty decent one and similar to when Rusev faced Mark Henry, one almost thought Rusev was going to lose the undefeated streak.  I do wonder if Mark Henry really came down there to support or to provide distraction just to make sure Big Show didn’t accomplish something that he failed to do.  Perhaps I’m nostalgic for the heel Mark Henry.

Not worth a lot of ink

Brie v NikkiAs far as the Divas matches, they shouldn’t have even been on the PPV.  This whole Bella rivalry is ridiculous (Nikki was victorious); the whole AJ/Paige spiel is played out (AJ retained the title).

AJ v PaigeI don’t like how they are using Alicia; if anything, she should have been the one going against AJ for the title.  This is about as much ink as I’m willing to invest on both.

YMCAStunt double steals the show (Laugh effect)
In the Sheamus vs. Miz match, I couldn’t stay focused on the match.  I was more focused on Damien, to be quite honest.  After Sheamus’ retained his title, for a few giggles, Sheamus would toy with Miz’s body and Sandow (excuse me Mizdow) would do the exact same thing as Miz.  It was quite a hoot!  Damien is the only reason I even tolerate watching a Miz match; usually I tend to do something else to occupy my time when Miz is on the screen.

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Chef Ramsay WTFSorry folks but the following WWE Creative drops were worth the Ramsey graphic:

1. The ending to the 2nd Main Event: Ambrose vs. Rollins

Dean WTFWhen the Ambrose vs. Rollins match started, I was about to throw my sock at the TV because stretchers came out, and both Rollins and Ambrose were about to get wheeled to the back.  However, the Lunatic Fringe would not be stopped from opening some Whoop Ass on Rollins.  Back and forth the match went with incredible antics in the ring and around the cell.  Then, it went dark.  Was there a power outage?  Then, all types of strange, repetitious chanting while it was dark, followed by the above image.  Then…

WTF of the Night“Spider Man… Spider Man… does what ever a…” (Wait, what in the ?)

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I’m feeling all types of ways about this one:

  • Why in the name of Gerber Baby Food would you bring Bray into this match? Interesting promos be damned! Now there’s going to be interruption into Dean tearing some more into Seth because now Dean will want to get revenge on Bray for getting involved in the match.  This takes attention off the hottest feud going towards starting another storyline.
  • Yes, I’ve been one of the top people saying that WWE has been dropping the ball with Bray lately.  I didn’t like how they shifted his momentum after he went head to head with John Cena.  However, I don’t think this is the right time to insert him.  Why have him beef with Ambrose? Is he going to job to Ambrose?  Why can’t he just get his new stable set up (the Ascension) and go from there?  What is the point of this?
  • This is the one feud NO ONE is tired of, yet WWE wants to act like we are tired of it.  WWE, you’re not listening to the true WWE fans or the universe but listening to upper management who no longer has any idea how to keep the product interesting.
  • This wasn’t innovative and must see; it was STUPID!  I cringe to see how WWE creative is going to twist how Bray feels justified in going after Ambrose, and if it turns out that Bray is play D, E… or whatever of the Authority, then I’m going to need a drink must stronger than Dr. Pepper.

2. The ending to the first main event: Orton vs. Cena

Remember where I said that Orton looked mad impressive against Cena inside of the cage?  That was true.  What sucked hairy balls was the ending: Super Cena overcomes all odds, after getting his carcass handed to him dang near the entire match, and wins.

drwhoconfusedApparently, WWE really thinks we want to see Cena vs. Orton a third time?  Well I don’t.  Before I get into the why, let’s do a recap:

  • On the first showing (aka Summer Slam), Brock Lesnar delivered 16 German souplexes and 2 F5’s.  I don’t like the man but I had to give Lesnar his duckets on that massacre because that wasn’t even a wrestling match.

Yet… not even a whole week goes by (aka Smackdown taping on Tuesday) when John Cena appears.

Why in the name of hot chocolate with whip cream can’t John Cena sell a beat down?  I thought he was going to be couple of weeks, but seriously?  Smackdown taping?

  • Then, John Cena, feeling butt hurt over his beat down, calls for his rematch right away at Night of Champions–to even the score.  Okay, times two: he has to redeem himself; I get it.  Yet at Night of Champions, they get Seth Rollins all in the mix, causing controversy as to whether Cena is the “uncrowned champion” at this point.

So Cena, still butt hurt, gets himself in the fray of chasing after Rollins because he feels Rollins cost him the victory.  But wait?  That interrupts the whole purpose of Dean getting his hands on Rollins, so now Cena and Dean are at each others’ throats because Cena needs to stay relevant.

It Doesn't MatterYet in reality, Cena will always be relevant because he is Vince’s chosen one, year after year.  It doesn’t matter whether he has the belt or not, so to me, it made no sense for Cena to be a part of a classic feud like Ambrose and Rollins. 

  • Then, HHH (one of the few decisions he had which was good for business) decides to let the Cena vs. Ambrose match for the right to face Seth Rollins happen on Raw, as opposed to the PPV.
  • The next decision (which was hmm for business) was whoever lost that match to go against Orton, which lead us to Cena vs. Orton again, followed by the title shot stipulation.

Perhaps the added title stipulation should have been the kicker that Cena was going to win it, yet other things were going on where I wasn’t one hundred percent sure.  Randy was getting back into the zone where he was getting his RKO on.  He and Seth can’t see eye-to-eye.  If Orton was to get the shot at Brock and go on to win the title, it sets up the wonderful battle for power with Rollins and Orton.  In essence, it was a wild card pick but one a person could not fault myself (or Mr. Controversy) for having, given the events.

And then, Cena won.

vincewhat

Cena vs. Lesnar times three does not interest me because:

(1) If Cena can bounce back from the 1st beat down in two days, there is nothing Lesnar can do to that man to convince me that the third time around, he will still have the title.  It’s almost a guarantee that on the third outing, Cena is going to get the belt.

(2) WWE Creative had a prime moment to capitalize on the controversy generated after the 2nd outing, but after Seth Rollins did a “my bad” when Paul Heyman confronted him, instead of expanding on the whole scenario, it turned into a “I forgive you but next time…” type play.

(3) With all of this talk of Brock Lesnar possibly returning to UFC, I don’t expect him to do UFC and hold on to the WWE title.  He has to give one up, and the writing looks to be in Cena’s favor.

So again, why should I be excited? (just saying)

blackdividerSo how did Mr. Controversy and I do on our predictions?

Mr. Controversy: 5 Correct
Unleashed: 7 Correct

Okay it is the moment of truth.  What have I decided to give Hell in a Cell 2014?

3stars3 out of 5 Stars
via TRB Rating Scale (non-book)

It’s going to be a strange time heading into Survivor Series.  I just know what I’m tired of, and quite a bit of what I’m tired of is getting put on replay just in a different month and at a different arena.

Thanks for checking out The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share and subscribe.  Have a terrific day.

 

The Wordsmith of Truth on Where is Heaven?

whereisheavenWhere is Heaven? by Phil Bowie
Amazon | Amazon Author Page

Note: This book was submitted by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Greetings!  The Review Board here to give our thoughts on Where is Heaven? by Phil Bowie.  Before we proceed, let’s present the blurb vis Amazon:

A near-death experience turned out to be inspirational for author Phil Bowie. A firm believer in God but a long-time skeptic concerning the believability and practices of humankind’s many organized religions, he has gathered a lifetime of experiences, proven facts, and conclusions from the best and brightest minds on the planet in the writing of this book. If you’ve ever doubted what you’ve been taught about religion and the Bible, this book will give you true, fact-based answers that you can firmly believe. Among other insights, it will tell you where heaven really is.

Now to provide her take, Wordsmith Andi:

WordsmithLogoThe Wordsmith Weighs In

I’ve never read a book before that seemed to be tailor written for me. Or maybe I just never realized there were other skeptical believers out there that had the same questions I did and do. Apparently Phil Bowie did have that realization and he’s given us all a book to be proud of.

I grew up in a family that wasn’t particularly religious. I remember being a Jehovah’s Witness as a child; there are still clear impressions of the kingdom hall and the orange chairs we used to sit on (or that I would get down on the floor and crawl around under). For one reason or other both of my parents were cast out of the congregation through something known as “dis-fellowship”. This happened around my tenth birthday, or so I think, because I don’t remember celebrating any holiday until I was ten years old.

As I grew older I went to church with my grandmother on the Sunday morning of our occasional weekend visit, but I was always stuck in with the Sunday school kids who were all kids I didn’t know. As an introvert, being thrust into that kind of social setting was probably the most awkward of all so I never absorbed much from any of the lessons and if I did it was always to question the logic – or apparent lack thereof – and be met with scorn. So eventually I just shut up.

I’ve always felt, like Bowie, that there was some divine power at work but the Bible and my ideas of spirituality, over years of sampling from different churches and religions, have never met up with success. So imagine my elation when I was handed this book with a request to review it.

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Phil Bowie writes with the ease and flair of a well-educated and informed old-timer sitting on his porch telling stories to his children and older grandchildren, explaining his thoughts and feelings about God, Heaven, organized religion and the Bible with unabashed candidness. His factual accuracy adds an element of much needed realism in what is otherwise a pretty abstract concept the world has spent thousands of years wrestling with, warring over, and contemplating.

I appreciated his in-depth examination of the root of organized religion, its purpose and affect on society from ancient to modern times. Laying bare the mysticism and exposing the juxtaposition of a wrathful, vengeful, punishing God with a merciful, loving, unconditionally loving God by taking an objective look at many of the stories and books of the Bible, Bowie questions the merits in taking the Bible literally given all the scientific knowledge we now have at our disposal. Is there a “real” Heaven or Hell and where are they if they do? How does prayer work? How do evolution and creationism science co-exist? Why do we refer only to Darwin’s theory of evolution instead of the Darwin-Wallace theory of evolution? Bowie covers all of these topics with admirable aplomb, and sometimes even through light humor to prove the ridiculousness of a particular point.

Taking things a step further, Bowie begs us to consider what influence blind faith accomplishes and what it means for the future of our planet and survival of our species. Having professed to living through several decades, Bowie attests to how society’s values and morals have changed over the years and gives us an honest picture of what the future holds if we do not hold ourselves in check, not by strict adherence to outdated traditions but rather by harnessing our innate goodness – that divine spark that exists with each of us and compels us to achieve greatness, and to preserve our Eden, planet Earth. Exploring topics such as population control, global warming, space travel and the implications of confirmed extraterrestrial life, Bowie draws distinct connections between religion’s potential effects and influence on survival of our species both ill and to the good, many of which were astounding and alarming, each based in irrefutable fact.

I want to thank Phil Bowie for taking the time to thoroughly research each of his many subjects and for the writing of this book. He answered a great many questions I had, and tuned me into a great many more than I never knew I should be asking. This is a book that will stay with me in thought, and be referred back to again and again whenever I find myself engaged in any sort of intellectual conversation or debate on this subject.

A definite “would recommend”, I give Where is Heaven? a maximum rating of 10 stars.

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Now, let’s see what Mini Truth has to say.

minitruthbannerTruthful Takes

There is so much I need to and want to say about “Where is Heaven?” that I honestly haven’t the remotest idea of where to start.

That being said, I suppose the best tactic would be to start at the beginning; that being the blurb.

Like any reader, before diving into a book or opting to purchase one an individual looks at the cover first (the cover was nice—an eye peeking through the universe—pretty cool) and then the person reads the blurb. Here it is, once again:

A near-death experience proved inspirational for Phil Bowie. A firm believer in God but a long-time skeptic concerning the believability and practices of the world’s major organized religions, he has gathered a lifetime of experiences, proven facts, and conclusions from the best and brightest minds on the planet in the writing of this book. If you’ve ever doubted what you’ve been taught about religion and the Bible, this book will give you true, fact-based answers you can firmly believe. Among other insights, it will tell you where heaven really is.

WHAT A MISLEADING BLURB!

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However, today I’m going to do things a little bit differently than I usually would. Today, for efficiency purposes, I’ll tell you about my overall thoughts on the book first, then dive into the pros (not that there were many) and cons.

Back to what I was saying above.

When one reads the blurb the first thing that comes to mind is that this story will be a type of biography. One that would take the reader on an adventure to ultimately discover where heaven is. As, due to the title and the blurb, that is what’s most clear.

Well, let me tell you folks, that ISN’T the deal at all! Not even close.

In the introduction the author sort of reiterates what is said in the blurb, and in the first chapter the author dives a tad into his Christian upbringing. THAT along with many 3 or so more memories, were thrown here and there throughout the book, was ALL that there was in regards to any type of biography. THAT was it! This took up approximately (tops) 10 pages of a 340 page book.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking to yourself, “Wow. So if that is all there is about the author’s personal experience, then surely the rest of the book explains where heaven is. Because, honestly, what else can it be?”

Oh, my beloved reader, how wrong you are.

Let me go ahead and tell you what it’s not

It’s NOT what you thought at all.

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An enormous percentage of the book was religion bashing. Yup, you got that right… the author went out of his way to trash all forms of organized religion, and took a keen pleasure in insulting Judeo Christian/Catholic/Western Christian beliefs. The irony is that in the bit that he speaks of his Christian upbringing, he narrates about it in such a fond tone, as if they were the best memories he’s ever had. There is also the fact that the author tells us time and time again how strong his faith in God is (Wait until you find out what this is all about!).

Had it been anything like me, who had a terrible experience in my Christian upbringing, I might’ve said, “Well, I can kind of see where he’s coming from.” but that wasn’t the case at all.

The other parts of the book consisted of religious politics, current news, science lessons, technobabble and literary lessons.

Some of the things that were completely unnecessary in this book were the constant veering off on tangents of miscellaneous things like Dante’s Inferno, the God Particle (also known as the Higgs Boson), the astronomy lessons, the religious & political mumbo jumbo, and so much more. No seriously, the author would constantly change direction and deviate onto things that just made absolutely no sense—babbling on for pages and pages.

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Now here is where the book REALLY kills me…

I was only at about a quarter of the book when the author tells us where is believes heaven is.

The answer?

In the memories we leave behind of ourselves. In the hearts and minds of others. Essentially, we live eternally in the hearts and minds of our loved ones and the people we impact in this world. THAT is supposedly heaven.

After the author relates where his opinion of heaven lies, he opts to tell us where he believes hell is.

The answer?

On earth.

The next thing was telling the reader who God really is.

The answer?

The Higgs Boson (The God Particle).

Reader, I’m sorry to say it, but I HATE, HATE, HATED THIS BOOK! And, I’ll tell you why. What most people do not know about me is that I am an avid student of anything mythological, biblical, historical and scientific. Therefore, I know just about everything there is to know about religion and how history and science affects many religious beliefs. Due to this I was able to judge this book by utilizing my profound knowledge of such things. I’ll tell you this, as a science buff I hated it… as a history admirer I hated it… as a biblical enthusiast I hated it… and as a history fan I hated it. There was NOTHING I liked or enjoyed about this book whatsoever.

Not even l when I tried to rationalize the fact that this was supposed to be his, quote-unquote, “personal experience with God.”

People, you’re reading the review of a fellow skeptic, and a even as that, I hated it.

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PRO:

  • The spelling was good.

CONS:

  • It is truly a damn shame, when the first thing you notice about a book is the never-ending, run on sentences. Before you pick this book up, be sure to prepare yourself for a race. It’s EXHAUSTING! Some sentences were up to 1 and 2 paragraphs long! I kid you not. I have pictures to prove it.
  • Then there was the “And-a-topia.” I noticed right off the bat the incredible amount of “ands” in the writing. Some sentences having even up to 7. Due to this, curiosity took over, and I really wanted to know exactly how many there were throughout the book, so I searched them. 3,729 ‘Ands’ in a single book! (insert wide eyes gasp here) Whaaaaat??

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  • Tons of odd sentence structure. Things that seem off in some sentences.
  • Bizarre placement of certain phrases and comments. Like, for example, on one page the author is writing about some more religion bashing, then suddenly says that he is going through the book for edits at that very moment and noticed something else interesting on the news. And the sentence that immediately follows is that he’s doing yet another overview on the book and noticed an additional thing on the news. Below you’ll see the page.

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  • The writing is the epitome of “preachy writing”. It almost feels like the author is trying to impose his beliefs on everyone. Very presumptuous.
  • There were times when the author seemed to think he was being funny as there were a few one-liners here and there. He wasn’t.
  • For such an adamantly professed believer in God, I find it strange that this author preaches throughout the book like Billy Freaking Graham about random religious crap, then says that heaven is in our heads, hell is on earth, and God is a cell. I mean, really, what’s the freaking point in believing in God at all if that’s the case?! I’m just saying!

Guys, I could seriously go on for days about the faults in this book, but I think I’ve said enough. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. Well, maybe my worst enemy if I wanted to be mean. (giggling)

3 TRB Stars.

Now taking the two ratings and divided by two, The Review Board gives Where is Heaven? 6.5 out of 10 TRB Stars.

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