One-Star Reviews of Classic Novels

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of reading Amazon or Goodreads pages for classic novels, you know that the best part is the pile of angry, incoherent, and/or contradictory one-star reviews. If you don’t want to spend your time trawling through these, check out Tumblr One-Star Book Reviews. I’ve reposted some of the best (i.e., worst) here:

“First of all, the whole thing is almost all dialogue.”

“I found the messages about racism to be quite one-sided.”

“I believe reading is about relaxing and not straining your mind to understand what’s going on”

“If written today this would be seen as fan fiction.”

“You may have seen the movie ‘Troy’ with Brad Pitt as Achilles, but it is quite different than the book.”

“Way too much information about yams”

“Reminded me of Hemingway’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ which I also didn’t like”

“Do you have any feelings, or are you just TOO F******* COOL?”

“Ever since women (deservedly) got the vote, feminists have had to scrounge for stuff to gripe about. Take Ally McBeal, for example.”

“Mr. Beowulf should be required to repeat his nighttime writer’s class at the learning annex.”

“the language is too rich and poetic for my liking”

“i had to read this book for class, so i didn’t really enjoy it at all, however it is a good book.”

Read more at One-Star Book Reviews.

Posted: July 20, 2014

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7 Mistakes That Make Every Writer Look Unprofessional By DiAnn Mills


Every writer wants to be viewed as professional, intelligent, and bestselling. These goals are honorable, worthy, and attainable. But when a writer consistently makes mistakes that label him/her unprofessional, credibility takes a nose dive as well.

Examine the following mistakes. If you are a writer, changes may be on your horizon.

1.  Practicing poor grammar and punctuation

Work smart! Invest in a grammar guide or take a college-level English course. Most publishers use the Chicago Manual of Style. An online help is

2.  Failureto invest time to learn and apply social media

Work smart! Today’s readers are online and active in social media. How can we reach them when we fail to learn how they are spending time and their interests?

3. Condescending remarks posted online about those in the publishing world

Work smart! Not only are critical remarks about others inappropriate and unprofessional, every word written online can be retrieved.

4. Lack of demonstrating sincere concern for readers

Work smart! Take time to discover and meet reader needs. Life is about relationships, and when we are genuinely interested in our followers, they become our friends.

5. Refusal to understand genre and the guidelines

Work smart! Be an expert in your writing niche(s). Know the distinguishing characteristics of your subject matter. A professional writer knows where she fits and strives to meet those criteria.

6. Practicing pride that comes before a fall

Work smart! Rejections and a request to edit make us better writers. Grow a tough skin and understand it’s not about us but about the writing project. Humility molds us into better people.

7.  Neglecting to learn the writing craft

Work smart! A writer may have the gift of communicating through the written word, but unless they commit to learning how to write and practice the techniques, they may never sell. Learning is ongoing, a means of always being at the top of our game. Wrap your writing in emotion—the reader’s, the characters, and your own.

If any of the above 7 items have slipped into your work habits, now is the time to make changes. Your career, relationships, and reputation are on the line.

We all need to be professional. What is a mistake that you’ve seen a writer make?






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The Truth about Separating Kids By Rich Lowry


The latest furor over Trump immigration policy involves the separation of children from parents at the border.

As usual, the outrage obscures more than it illuminates, so it’s worth walking through what’s happening here.

For the longest time, illegal immigration was driven by single males from Mexico. Over the last decade, the flow has shifted to women, children, and family units from Central America. This poses challenges we haven’t confronted before and has made what once were relatively minor wrinkles in the law loom very large.

The Trump administration isn’t changing the rules that pertain to separating an adult from the child. Those remain the same. Separation happens only if officials find that the adult is falsely claiming to be the child’s parent, or is a threat to the child, or is put into criminal proceedings.

It’s the last that is operative here. The past practice had been to give a free pass to an adult who is part of a family unit. The new Trump policy is to prosecute all adults. The idea is to send a signal that we are serious about our laws and to create a deterrent against re-entry. (Illegal entry is a misdemeanor, illegal re-entry a felony.)

When a migrant is prosecuted for illegal entry, he or she is taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals. In no circumstance anywhere in the U.S. do the marshals care for the children of people they take into custody. The child is taken into the custody of HHS, who cares for them at temporary shelters.

The criminal proceedings are exceptionally short, assuming there is no aggravating factor such as a prior illegal entity or another crime. The migrants generally plead guilty, and they are then sentenced to time served, typically all in the same day, although practices vary along the border. After this, they are returned to the custody of ICE.

If the adult then wants to go home, in keeping with the expedited order of removal that is issued as a matter of course, it’s relatively simple. The adult should be reunited quickly with his or her child, and the family returned home as a unit. In this scenario, there’s only a very brief separation.

Where it becomes much more of an issue is if the adult files an asylum claim. In that scenario, the adults are almost certainly going to be detained longer than the government is allowed to hold their children.

That’s because of something called the Flores Consent Decree from 1997. It says that unaccompanied children can be held only 20 days. A ruling by the Ninth Circuit extended this 20-day limit to children who come as part of family units. So even if we want to hold a family unit together, we are forbidden from doing so.

The clock ticking on the time the government can hold a child will almost always run out before an asylum claim is settled. The migrant is allowed ten days to seek an attorney, and there may be continuances or other complications.

This creates the choice of either releasing the adults and children together into the country pending the ajudication of the asylum claim, or holding the adults and releasing the children. If the adult is held, HHS places the child with a responsible party in the U.S., ideally a relative (migrants are likely to have family and friends here).

Even if Flores didn’t exist, the government would be very constrained in how many family units it can accommodate. ICE has only about 3,000 family spaces in shelters. It is also limited in its overall space at the border, which is overwhelmed by the ongoing influx. This means that — whatever the Trump administration would prefer to do — many adults are still swiftly released.

Why try to hold adults at all? First of all, if an asylum-seeker is detained, it means that the claim goes through the process much more quickly, a couple of months or less rather than years. Second, if an adult is released while the claim is pending, the chances of ever finding that person again once he or she is in the country are dicey, to say the least. It is tantamount to allowing the migrant to live here, no matter what the merits of the case.

A few points about all this:

1) Family units can go home quickly. The option that both honors our laws and keeps family units together is a swift return home after prosecution. But immigrant advocates hate it because they want the migrants to stay in the United States. How you view this question will depend a lot on how you view the motivation of the migrants (and how seriously you take our laws and our border).

2) There’s a better way to claim asylum. Every indication is that the migrant flow to the United States is discretionary. It nearly dried up at the beginning of the Trump administration when migrants believed that they had no chance of getting into the United States. Now, it is going in earnest again because the message got out that, despite the rhetoric, the policy at the border hasn’t changed. This strongly suggests that the flow overwhelmingly consists of economic migrants who would prefer to live in the United States, rather than victims of persecution in their home country who have no option but to get out.

Children should not be making this journey that is fraught with peril. But there is now a premium on bringing children because of how we have handled these cases.

Even if a migrant does have a credible fear of persecution, there is a legitimate way to pursue that claim, and it does not involve entering the United States illegally. First, such people should make their asylum claim in the first country where they feel safe, i.e., Mexico or some other country they are traversing to get here. Second, if for some reason they are threatened everywhere but the United States, they should show up at a port of entry and make their claim there rather than crossing the border illegally.

3) There is a significant moral cost to not enforcing the border. There is obviously a moral cost to separating a parent from a child and almost everyone would prefer not to do it. But, under current policy and with the current resources, the only practical alternative is letting family units who show up at the border live in the country for the duration. Not only does this make a mockery of our laws, it creates an incentive for people to keep bringing children with them.

Needless to say, children should not be making this journey that is fraught with peril. But there is now a premium on bringing children because of how we have handled these cases. They are considered chits.

In April, the New York Times reported:

Some migrants have admitted they brought their children not only to remove them from danger in such places as Central America and Africa, but because they believed it would cause the authorities to release them from custody sooner.

Others have admitted to posing falsely with children who are not their own, and Border Patrol officials say that such instances of fraud are increasing.

According to, it is “common to have parents entrust their children to a smuggler as a favor or for profit.”

If someone is determined to come here illegally, the decent and safest thing would be to leave the child at home with a relative and send money back home. Because we favor family units over single adults, we are creating an incentive to do the opposite and use children to cut deals with smugglers.

4) Congress can fix this. Congress can change the rules so the Flores consent decree will no longer apply, and it can appropriate more money for family shelters at the border. This is an obvious thing to do that would eliminate the tension between enforcing our laws and keeping family units together. The Trump administration is throwing as many resources as it can at the border to expedite the process, and it desperately wants the Flores consent decree reversed. Despite some mixed messages, if the administration had its druthers, family units would be kept together and their cases settled quickly.

The missing piece here is Congress, but little outrage will be directed at it, and probably nothing will be done. And so our perverse system will remain in place and the crisis at the border will rumble on.

Posted May 28, 2018



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Some Thoughts on the Reading of Books By Al Mohler

Posted:January 2, 2014

I cannot really remember when I did not love to read books. I do know that I was very eager to learn to read, and that I quickly found myself immersed in the world of books and literature. It may have been a seduction of sorts, and the Christian disciple must always be on guard to guide the eyes to books worthy of a disciple’s attention—and there are so many.

As Solomon warned, “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecc 12:12). There is no way to read everything, and not everything deserves to be read. I say that in order to confront the notion that anyone, anywhere, can master all that could be read with profit. I read a great deal, and a large portion of my waking hours are devoted to reading. Devotional reading for spiritual profit is an important part of the day, and that begins with the reading of Scripture. In terms of timing, I am somewhat unorthodox. My best time for spending time in the Word is late at night, when all is calm and quiet and I am mentally alert and awake. That is not the case when I first get up in the mornings, when I struggle to find each word on the page (or anything else, for that matter).

In the course of any given week, I will read several books. I know how much I thrive on this learning and the intellectual stimulation I get from reading. As my wife and family would be first to tell you, I can read almost anytime, anywhere, under almost any kind of conditions. I have a book with me virtually all the time, and have been known to snatch a few moments for reading at stop lights. No, I do not read while driving (though I must admit that it has been a temptation at times). I took books to high school athletic events when I played in the band. (Heap coals of scorn and nerdliness here). I remember the books; do you remember the games?

A few initial suggestions:

1. Maintain regular reading projects. I strategize my reading in six main categories: Theology, Biblical Studies, Church Life, History, Cultural Studies, and Literature. I have some project from each of these categories going at all times. I collect and gather books for each project and read them over a determined period of time. This helps to discipline my reading, and it also keeps me working across several disciplines.

2. Work through major sections of Scripture. I am just completing an expository series, preaching verse by verse through the book of Romans. I have preached and taught several books of the Bible in recent years, and I plan my reading to stay ahead. I am turning next to Matthew, so I am gathering and reading ahead—not yet planning specific messages, but reading to gain as much as possible from worthy works on the first gospel. I am constantly reading works in biblical theology as well as exegetical studies.

3. Read all the titles written by some authors. Choose carefully here, but identify some authors whose books demand your attention. Read all they have written and watch their minds at work and their thought in development. No author can complete his thoughts in one book, no matter how large.

4. Get some big sets and read them through. Yes, invest in the works of Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, and others. Set a project for yourself to read through the entire set and give yourself time. You will be surprised how far you will get in less time than you think.

5. Allow yourself some fun reading, and learn how to enjoy reading by reading enjoyable books. I like books across the fields of literature, but I really love to read historical biographies and historical works in general. In addition, I really enjoy quality fiction and worthy works of literature. As a boy, I probably discovered my love for reading in these categories of books. I allow some time each day, when possible, for such reading. It doesn’t have to be much. Stay in touch with the thrill.

6. Write in your books; mark them up and make them yours. Books are to be read and used, not collected and coddled. (Make an exception here for those rare antiquarian books that are treasured for their antiquity. Mark not thy pen on the ancient page, and highlight not upon the manuscript.) Invent your own system or borrow from another, but learn to have a conversation with the book, pen in hand.

I would write more for this post, but I must go read. More later. For now: Tolle lege!


I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me at Follow regular updates on Twitter at

This article was originally published at Together for the Gospel on January 25, 2006.

R. Albert Mohler Jr. signature
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What is Historical Fiction? By Peter Leavell

Before you dip your feather quill into ink and press the tip against the parchment, know the definition of Historical Fiction.


If you don’t, you’ve no mission statement to give shape to the entire work. For example, if you’re writing an epic that takes place in ancient Rome and a time traveler pulls out his cell phone to record the murder of Julius Caesar, you can unroll the scroll that contains the definition and see if the time traveler belongs there.

So, what is Historical Fiction? Geoffrey Trease, who wrote 113 novels about a century ago, claimed HF is a subject written ‘outside the time of living memory.’

Historic Novel Society tries to keep it simple—written “in the past, before the author’s lifetime and experience.” Or, more definitive, any novel written at least fifty years after the events described (which is 1968—yowza), or by an individualwho was not alive at the time of those events, writing from a research perspective. Alternate histories, time-slip novels, historical fantasies, and multiple-period novels are all accepted by HNS.

Still others maintain that HF is a label of incredible distinction and should be used with great dignity. The tag Historical Fiction should be applied to those books where a deliberate attempt has been made to recreate the past.

What does this mean for you? You are not answerable to anyone but your conscience. Why? Because HF itself is the embodiment of disagreement. The term Historical Fiction is a contradiction. Historical. Fiction. HF Seeks accuracy and illusion.

Seriously? Yes.

So, how do I approach HF? What is my definition when I start penning a work of genius? Here’s what I tell myself.

Peter, cut through the fog of perception and come as close to the historic truth as possible. If you deviate, deviate with a purpose in mind. Because historians ask what happened and why did it happen that way? You ask, what was it like?

Your definition of HF will determine the kind of HF you write, and thus produce a work that will help us not learn history, but live it. Take great pains to confirm your definition of HF in your mind as you work, and you’ll help solidify the past in your reader’s mind.

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history and currently enrolled in the University’s English Lit Graduate program, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best award for First-Time Author. A novelist, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband and father, Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter’s books, research, and family adventures at
Posted:June 11, 2018
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The Duke and This Day In History


Image result for picture of john wayne



On this day in 1979, John Wayne, an iconic American film actor famous for starring in countless westerns, dies at age 72 after battling cancer for more than a decade.

The actor was born Marion Morrison on May 26, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa, and moved as a child to Glendale, California. A football star at Glendale High School, he attended the University of Southern California on a scholarship but dropped out after two years. After finding work as a movie studio laborer, Wayne befriended director John Ford, then a rising talent. His first acting jobs were bit parts in which he was credited as Duke Morrison, a childhood nickname derived from the name of his beloved pet dog.

Wayne’s first starring role came in 1930 with The Big Trail, a film directed by his college buddy Raoul Walsh. It was during this time that Marion Morrison became “John Wayne,” when director Walsh didn’t think Marion was a good name for an actor playing a tough western hero. Despite the lead actor’s new name, however, the movie flopped. Throughout the 1930s, Wayne made dozens of mediocre westerns, sometimes churning out two movies a week. In them, he played various rough-and-tumble characters and occasionally appeared as “Singing Sandy,” a musical cowpoke a la Roy Rogers.

In 1939, Wayne finally had his breakthrough when his old friend John Ford cast him as Ringo Kid in the Oscar-winning Stagecoach. Wayne went on to play larger-than-life heroes in dozens of movies and came to symbolize a type of rugged, strong, straight-shooting American man. John Ford directed Wayne in some of his best-known films, including Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Rio Grande (1950), The Quiet Man (1952) and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (1962).

Off-screen, Wayne came to be known for his conservative political views. He produced, directed and starred in The Alamo (1960) and The Green Berets (1968), both of which reflected his patriotic, conservative leanings. In 1969, he won an Oscar for his role as a drunken, one-eyed federal marshal named Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. Wayne’s last film was The Shootist (1976), in which he played a legendary gunslinger dying of cancer. The role had particular meaning, as the actor was fighting the disease in real life.

During four decades of acting, Wayne, with his trademark drawl and good looks, appeared in over 250 films. He was married three times and had seven children.



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Ten Fiction Books I Want to Read This Summer





8.The Golden Vial (Legends of the Realm Book #3) by [Locke, Thomas]


7.A Flight of Arrows: A Novel (The Pathfinders) by [Benton, Lori]


6.The Mark of the King by [Green, Jocelyn]

5.Shadow of Devil's Tower (Dakota Sunrise series Book 2) by [Leavell, Peter]


4.Miranda Warning (A Murder in the Mountains Book 1) by [Gilbert, Heather Day]


3.The Target (Will Robie Book 3) by [Baldacci, David]



The Kremlin Conspiracy by [Rosenberg, Joel C.]








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