Friday, 22 January 2016

The Goodreads Review That Got Away

Firstly, can I say that this blog post is not because I'm a jealous writer. I am all for writers selling books - that's how they make money. In fact, generally, writers are very supportive of one another. I have nothing against self-published authors either. However, as a parent, I was angered how this author targeted his books at children in their primary school. I found it inappropriate.

Maybe I wouldn't have minded if it had been a better book... but it wasn't. My book review below, which was approved by my (now) eleven-year-old, tells it all.

I can't remember if I did post this review on my blog previously, however, as the full review got taken down from Goodreads, probably by the request of the author, I am reposting it here.

I wrote this review because I felt that if schools were allowing this author in to talk to their children, and actually did some research on him (unlike my sons' school... grrrrr....), then hopefully this will be the view of an informative parent.

This is my full review for Bradley Baker and The Curse of Pathylon by David Lawrence Jones:
Finally my son (who is 10, nearly 11) has finished reading this book, having bought it from school in June 2015.

I am not overly impressed how the author sold these books within school – and I stressed this at the time with the staff at the school. He went in “free of charge” to talk about writing, reading, and his books to all the pupils. He basically used targeted marketing on school children. We all know how children work; with a bit of peer pressure from their friends, they all want one. He could have gone in selling a cheap plastic toy – they all would have wanted it!

Based on a school of 400 pupils, if every child bought one book from him that day, he made good sales. I can only hope that this author at least provided the school with a free set of these books for their library so that every child could read them if they chose, for those parents who can’t afford to adhere to this kind of pressure. (But I don’t think he did – even the school had to purchase them.)
My son came out of school that day wanting all four books. As a single mum, I couldn’t justify £28. I told him he could buy one. Thank God I did, because (recently) when I asked my son how he felt about the book, he said, “It’s not as good as he made out, Mummy. It’s a lot slower, and in fact quite boring in places.”

Angered with the pressure put upon me by my son, I did my research prior to allowing my son to buy this book – to be honest, the reason I let him buy it was because I wanted to see the quality of it for myself. I only wish I’d done this research before the school had let the author do his talk.

Please be aware Avocado Publishing has been set up by the author to make it look as if his books are by a publisher. They are not. They are self-published. I even emailed Avocado Publishing to see who their other authors were. I never got a reply.
I have nothing against self-published authors, however in children’s fiction, I do wonder if there is a certain criteria books must meet to get published. And do these particular books meet it?

Looking through this book when my son brought it home, I instantly could see the unprofessionalism of this book. The easiest way is to notice the avoidance of the word “said”.

The characters in Bradley Baker never say anything, they reply, confirm, mumble, exclaim, growl, etc.

This book may have a good story within it. But unfortunately it needs a good edit. It’s 342 pages. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is 224 pages. (Well, my paperback copy is).

My son is an avid reader and loves all the David Walliams books, and I’ve encouraged him to read J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series now. With this book, I’ve had to nag him to finish it. As my son did not enjoy this book, we will not be purchasing another Bradley Baker novel.

By the way, I'm still waiting for a reply from Avocado Publishing....

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