Monday, May 30, 2016
It's been a strange week, three doctors visits and arrangement for two cataract surgeries later in the year.That's one of the reasons I'm not reading much; too many meds that cloud my mind; and, work.
There is a new Baryon ready and it will consist of Harriett's reviews only. It's my attempt at paying tribute to her memory and how much she is missed.
The following are a couple of articles written about her that some of you might have missed. he first is from the Wall Street Journal and the second is from Time when she was called one of the People of the year.
A Novel Heroine
Meet Harriet Klausner, Amazon.com's most prolific reviewer.
BY JOANNE KAUFMAN
Tuesday, March 29, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST
Harriet Klausner read four books yesterday. Frankly, this was no big whoop for Ms. Klausner. The only days she doesn't read four books are the days she reads five. Her peregrinations through the printed word are charted in the critiques she posts on Amazon.com--she's been voted its No. 1 reviewer--and other online book sites.
Reviewing on Amazon isn't a singular achievement. The site welcomes all those eager to tap into their inner Orville Prescott, often posting multiple reviews of a single book. All that's required is literacy, a point of view--and, of course, adherence to the Amazon's stern fiats about profanity, spiteful remarks, and injudicious blabbing about crucial plot points.
Still, in terms of productivity (8,649 reviews as of mid-March) and the ability to turn out what the site calls helpful information, Ms. Klausner is in a league of her own.
More than 53,000 Amazon visitors have given a thumbs up to commentary like "the fast-paced story line contains intriguing heroes battling with one another as much as with their common foes." That was Ms. Klausner on the thriller "No Man's Dog" by Jon A. Jackson. "Exhilarating British police procedural" was her word on "Flesh Wounds" by John Lawton. "Daniel's Veil" by R.H. Stavis, meanwhile, was deemed "a fascinating and enthralling paranormal tale."
It would be overstating things to suggest that Ms. Klausner, 53, has never met a book she didn't like. It would be more on the money to say she's of the "if you don't have anything nice to write, don't write anything at all" school of literary criticism. "If a book doesn't hold my interest by page 50 I'll stop reading, which is one of the reasons I give a lot of good ratings," says Ms. Klausner, whose voice suggests she's taken more than a few nips of helium. "And why review a book to give it a low rating or to tear it apart? Nothing in that."
But rest assured she can cut the motor on her enthusiasm when necessary. "I give Ralph McInerny, the author of the 'Father Dowling' mysteries, a low rating and tell why I can't stand the books," says Ms. Klausner, who's contributed reviews to Amazon since 2000. "It's basically the same story over and over."
She has the same "been there, read that" problem with Cassie Edwards, a scribe of Native American romances. "It's either a half-breed Indian male or a full-breed Indian male and a white virgin," sighs Ms. Klausner, running down the essential plot of titles like "Savage Joy," "Savage Devotion," "Savage innocence," "Savage Hope," "Savage Courage" and "Savage Torment." "She gets kidnapped, returns to white society, then comes back to Native American society to be with her lover, who ends up as her husband.
"Her books individually are good," adds Ms. Klausner. "If she wrote five of them they would be great, but if you write 75 or 80, which she's written . . . enough is enough.
"I have one basic criterion: A book should entertain me and take me away from the rest of the world."
A recent day's entertainment comprised "The Hidden Quest," a fantasy by New Zealand-born author Alma Alexander; a novel Ms. Klausner describes as "a Christian legal thriller" by Randy Alexander ("I forget the title, but the book was very good"); "Hitler's Peace," a thriller by Phillip Kerr about Germany trying to negotiate a peace in 1943, and a mystery by Nevada Barr. "I can't remember that title either. Just look it up on Amazon." Aha: "Hard Truth."
As may be clear by now, Ms. Klausner's taste runs to fantasy, chick-lit romance--particularly the paranormal and supernatural variety--horror and science fiction. Pet authors include Laurell K. Hamilton, Jan Burke, Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz and particularly Patricia Cornwell. "I need a lot of variety. There's never enough for me to read," says Ms. Klausner, who has zero truck with poetry, westerns ("You put on a cowboy hat, place the story in the wild west and you have a police procedural") or nonfiction ("unless it's a subject I'm really into. Otherwise it's too time-consuming.")
While Amazon declined to comment specifically on Ms. Klausner to avoid the appearance of showcasing one particular reviewer, others in publishing were less demure. "I'm sure there are people who go online and think, 'I wonder what Harriet has to say about this book,' " notes Knopf publicity director Nicholas Latimer. He sends Ms. Klausner every fiction title his house publishes "because I'd like her to weigh in. There are authors she covers that don't get covered by a lot of major review outlets because of space limitations. Harriet's their champion."
It's not that Ms. Klausner is immune to the charms--and plot turns--of marquee names like Ms. Roberts and Ms. Cornwell, but "you'll see that I often review lesser-known names. Some of those authors are just as good as John Grisham," she says. "It's just that they don't have a publicity machine behind them. That's the whole purpose of my doing this on Amazon. It's a way of bringing writers to the attention of audiences who wouldn't otherwise buy their books. That's the whole purpose of my doing this on Amazon," continues Ms. Klausner, whose sole remuneration is the thanks of newly enlightened readers (they sometimes send appreciative e-mails) and grateful authors (they sometimes send promotional bookmarks).
More tangible compensation comes from Ms. Klausner's book reviews for periodicals like Affaire de Coeur and I Love a Mystery, the online 'zine Baryon, and from her work as an advance reader for the Doubleday Book Club. "It's like magic when you find that gem of a great new author," says Ms. Klausner, who claims she saw gold in a then-unknown Tess Gerritsen, now a perennial on bestseller lists. "People say I have influence over book sales, but I don't see it. If I thought about it, I would get nervous."
The elder of two children, Ms. Klausner grew up in the Bronx. Her father worked for the publisher McGraw-Hill, a bonanza posting for a young bookworm. "I got a lot of free books. I was very lucky," says Ms. Klausner, who worked her way through series like Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames with dispatch.
A master's degree in library science seemed like nothing short of manifest destiny. Subsequent gigs in bookstores catering to fans of horror and science fiction, and stewardship of various library newsletters, were good prep work for Amazon, a connection Ms. Klausner made simply because "it seemed like a good idea. I need to review."
On more than one occasion, she says, publishers have approached her to push the envelope--to write a novel of her own. "I think it's sweet as can be that they ask. It's just not something I could do."
Daily, books come by the cartload to Ms. Klausner's Atlanta home, putting her at odds with the mailman, the UPS delivery guy and her husband, Stan, a business analyst for the Army. "He says we have to get rid of some," says Ms. Klausner, who stacks the overflow on the kitchen table and in a shed out back--and makes covert online purchases of new favorites like legal-thriller author Christine McGuire. "But don't tell my husband."
Friends encourage her to get a hobby, to develop some new interests. One pal recently gave her a combination VCR-DVD player with the directive to "go to a new venue." "It was a great present," says Ms. Klausner. "It's still in the box."
Ms. Kaufman covers arts and entertainment for The Wall Street Journal.
By LEV GROSSMAN Saturday, Dec. 16, 2006
Without the web, Harriet Klausner would be just an ordinary human being with an extraordinary talent. Instead she is one of the world's most prolific and influential book reviewers. At 54, Klausner, a former librarian from Georgia, has posted more book reviews on Amazon.com than any other user—12,896, as of this writing, almost twice as many as her nearest competitor. That's a book a day for 35 years.
Klausner isn't paid to do this. She's just, as she puts it, "a freaky kind of speed-reader." In elementary school, her teacher was shocked when Klausner handed in a 31⁄2-hour reading-comprehension test in less than an hour. Now she goes through four to six books a day. "It's incomprehensible to me that most people read only one book a week," she says. "I don't understand how anyone can read that slow." All TIME 100 Best Novels
Klausner is part of a quiet revolution in the way American taste gets made. The influence of newspaper and magazine critics is on the wane. People don't care to be lectured by professionals on what they should read or listen to or see. They're increasingly likely to pay attention to amateur online reviewers, bloggers and Amazon critics like Klausner. Online critics have a kind of just-plain-folks authenticity that the professionals just can't match. They're not fancy. They don't have an agenda. They just read for fun, the way you do. Publishers treat Klausner as a pro, sending her free books—50 a week—in hopes of getting her attention. Like any other good critic, Klausner has her share of enemies. "Harriet, please get a life," someone begged her on a message board, "and leave us poor Amazon customers alone."
Klausner is a bookworm, but she's no snob. She likes genre fiction: romance, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, horror. One of Klausner's lifetime goals—as yet unfulfilled—is to read every vampire book ever published. "I love vampires and werewolves and demons," she says. "Maybe I like being spooked." Maybe she's a little bit superhuman herself.
—Reported by Jeremy Caplan and Kathleen Kingsbury/New York, Susan Jakes/Beijing, Jeffrey Ressner/Los Angeles, Grant Rosenberg/Paris and Bryan Walsh/Seoul
Friday, May 27, 2016
I'm about six months behind on getting Baryon out. Checking with Pete on it.
VA visit on Monday - shrink changed my meds - PTSD getting worse. Fitted for new diabetic shoes and getting appointments for cataract surgery on both eyes. Hopefully, this will allow me to start reading moree with out so much trouble.
It's hell to get old and physically unable to do things.
OH, by the way, Elvis is not dead, he's at the VA waiting for his appointment.
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Op-Ed: How the VA devalues veterans By Cody McGregor Friday, May 13th 2016 As seen in the Dallas Morning News.
Op-Ed: How the VA devalues veterans
By Cody McGregor
Friday, May 13th 2016
As seen in the Dallas Morning News.
If you’ve fought to protect this country, you probably couldn’t be faulted for thinking this country isn’t quite as willing to do the same for you. After two full years, we’re still discovering shocking facts about how badly the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs lets down those who need care. Recently published reports confirm that VA medical centers throughout Texas — including here in Fort Worth — used inappropriate scheduling practices that left veterans waiting too long for the treatments they needed.
Veterans’ biggest concern with the VA is whether it can be trusted with their lives. The short answer is no. This organization has fought to hide the truth and protect its image, even if it means letting veterans suffer and die.
And this is an ongoing trend in the way our country treats its heroes. Whether it’s unreliable, unaccountable healthcare or crippling debt that weakens the very national security we fought for, veterans’ sacrifices are constantly devalued.
After veterans died in Phoenix due to being put on secret waiting lists by the local VA center, similar allegations surfaced across the country. Yet internal investigations regarding how this happened are only just now being released to the public.
And that’s no thanks to the VA. It took Freedom of Information Act requests to get the VA to cough up their findings. That’s hardly the level of transparency veterans deserve, given the enormity of the VA’s failure.
The investigations confirm what we already knew: inappropriate scheduling practices were commonplace. The Fort Worth report by the VA Inspector Generals Office, for example, quotes staff who say that disregarding veterans’ desired appointment date was just “how things were done.”
As a consequence, veterans suffered.
Worse yet, an independent government watchdog is investigating the VA on the grounds that the investigations conducted in Texas by the VA Inspector General’s were “deficient and unreasonable.” In other words, there’s probably more tragedy buried beneath the surface.
It doesn’t take an extensive investigation, however, to show how badly VA care is deteriorating. One report conducted by independent consultants MITRE and Rand shows that care by VA hospitals is care mired in bureaucracy and inefficiency. And another government watchdog revealed last month that new VA patients nationwide now wait up to 71 days to see doctors.
As we’ve seen, quality and reliability in veterans’ care have deteriorated despite growth in the VA’s budget by roughly two-thirds since President Barack Obama’s first year in office. The VA is contributing to a rise in debt and wasteful or inefficient government spending.
Ultimately, the security veterans fought to protect is threatened by our nation’s massive debt. Earlier this year the national debt reached a record $19 trillion, which former defense officials adamantly warn will “undermine our economic growth, our military strength, and our global leadership.”
If the VA treated every one of its patients like the heroes we are, it would be worth every penny. But that’s far from the case.
One reason this happens is because Americans have assumed politicians will fix these problems on their own. That’s clearly not occurring. There’s no room for complacency—we must make sure those in power know that the poor treatment of veterans is the issue of our time.
Cody McGregor is a former army sniper and the national outreach director for Concerned Veterans for America.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Now on sale! FINAL FLIGHT, set in the same world as The Clockwork Dagger and The Clockwork Crown, by bestselling author Beth Cato, who Publishers Weekly called “an author to watch
Full of magic, mystery, and romance, the Steampunk-themed FINAL FLIGHT is sure to resonate with fans across the board. This book contains charming, accessible fantasy with some of the same elements that fans have come to know and love from Cato’s Clockwork books.
Another breathtaking short story from the author of The Clockwork Dagger and The Clockwork Crown, set in the same world…
Captain Hue hoped he was rid of his troubles once Octavia Leander and Alonzo Garrett disembarked from his airship Argus. But he was quickly proved wrong when his ship was commandeered by Caskentian soldiers. He is ordered on a covert and deadly mission by the smarmy Julius Corrado, an elite Clockwork Dagger.
Now Captain Hue must start a mutiny to regain control of his airship, which means putting his entire crew at risk-including his teenage son Sheridan. As the weather worsens and time runs out, it’ll take incredible bravery to bring the Argus down….perhaps for good.
Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair outside of Phoenix, Arizona. She is the author of The Clockwork Dagger and The Clockwork Crown. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham. You can follow her on Twitter @bethcato.
About the Book:
FINAL FLIGHT by Beth Cato
Harper Voyager Impulse, $3.99
Monday, May 2, 2016
Captain Lincoln Suh died on a Wednesday. And things only got harder from there.
Snatched out of special operations and thrown headfirst into a secretive new unit, Lincoln finds himself as the team leader for the 519th Applied Intelligence Group, better known as the Outriders. And his first day on the job brings a mission with the highest possible stakes.
A dangerously cunning woman who most assuredly should be dead has seemingly returned. And her plans aren’t just devastating, they might be unstoppable.Outriders
How do you defeat a hidden enemy when you can’t let them know they’ve been discovered?
You send in the Outriders.
Praise for Outriders:
“This book should have come with a warning – Attention! Once started this book cannot be put down. An amazing blending of military action & SF. I have rarely encountered a book that I HAD to finish; it kept me up all night. But it was worth it.”
– A Book Drunkard
About the author:
Jay is a narrative designer, author, and screenwriter by trade. He started working in the video game industry in 1998, and has been writing professionally for over a decade. Currently employed as Senior Narrative Designer at Red Storm Entertainment, he’s spent around eight years writing and designing for Tom Clancy’s award-winning Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six franchises.
A contributing author to the book Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing, Jay has lectured at conferences, colleges, and universities, on topics ranging from basic creative writing skills to advanced material specific to the video game industry.
You can find him online at his website as well as on Twitter.
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Sometimes, one must become the unimaginable…
Cécile and Tristan have accomplished the impossible, but their greatest challenge remains: defeating the evil that they have unleashed upon the world.
As they scramble for a way to protect the people of the Isle and liberate the trolls from their tyrant king, Cécile and Tristan must battle those who’d see them dead. To win, they will risk everything… and everyone. But it might not be enough. Both Cécile and Tristan have debts, and they will be forced to pay them at a cost far greater than they had ever imagined.
Everything is at stake, in the heart-stopping conclusion to the acclaimed Malediction Trilogy.
Praise for Warrior Witch:
“Warrior Witch IS the ending that this amazing series deserves. The ending that completely destroys you and then fixes you. The ending that your heart will never forget.”
– The Reader and The Chef
About the author:
Danielle was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance.
But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.
Danielle can be found on her blog or on Twitter.