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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

TO STAR OR NOT TO STAR?

A writer sent a note asking why, if I was so enthusiastic about Philip Corbett’s new book White Sands I only gave it four stars—when he said—it sounds like a five-star review?

There are many reasons, reader. IMHO only books that can stand the test of time should get five stars. Mr. Corbett’s book may do that. There were a couple of things that rather did put me off, but not enough to change my glowing review. The man is talented. He has style and craftsmanship. All in all, an exciting find. Here is my four-star review:

This is a perfect example of what people mean when they say a book will keep you on the edge of your seat. Literally. There were moments so intense that reading it I nearly tumbled off of the edge of that seat.

Philip Corbett is an excellent writer with a firm grasp of his material; the story of a white boy raised by Navaho after a perilous journey and the death of his father. As the pages turn the reader is thrilled, gripped, startled and rocked by a succession of hair-raising scenes that unspool with an almost cinematic clarity. Mr. Corbett uses an excellent and imaginative device to show us the hero’s memory and how he grows into his own revelations.

In spite of, or maybe because of all of the action packed episodes in the book, there is a poetic warp and wolf to this work; a rhythm that is almost musical, and an exciting use of language. Mr. Corbett gives us lots of detail that in the hands of a lesser wordsmith might be tedious, but here adds all kinds of depth and color.

This is the first of four installments in the life of the boy who by the end of the first volume is a man. I look forward to the second one.

What some writers suspect (and at least for the time being I’m agreeing) is that readers are skipping five star reviews because so many are written by friends and family. Puff-pieces that really don’t help much. There are, in my opinion, books with five-star ratings that should never have even been sprung on an unsuspecting public. These are the ones with five-star and one-star reviews and little in between.

Finally, one other thing. If I cannot in good conscience give an Indy writer at least three stars I do not review at all. That does not apply to books produced by the big commercial houses, which after all give their writers a huge support system that Indies don’t have. If a book is produced by Corporation A, with a lot of hoopla and a back cover littered with glowing quotes by a lot of famous names, and I disagree, one star is my comment to all of that--or two, or maybe three. There is a lot of mediocre work coming out of Corporation A these days.

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My Kindle Books!

*4 Spooky Short Stories
*A Thorn of the Crown
*Paper Cuts
*Timothy Holbrook and the Zombie Curse
*Tomorrow Will Take Care of Itself

Copyright 2011 by Spencer Schankel. All Rights Reserved.