Real College Admission Essay Prompts From This Year’s Applications #ASMSG #MondayBlogs #IARTG #RRBC

Associate editor at Parade, Seattle native, New York City transplant, and graduate of Northwestern University's school of journalism.

Associate editor at Parade, Seattle native, New York City transplant, and graduate of Northwestern University’s school of journalism.

by VI-AN NGUYEN
@vian_nguyen

Millions of high school seniors around the country are busy penning college admissions essays based on prompts like the thought-provoking ones below, which we pulled from this year’s applications. (In many cases, the prompts below are one of a few options given by the colleges.)

What would you write?

Barnard College
“Pick one woman in history or fiction to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. What would you talk about?”

Common Application
The Common Application is a universal form used by more than 500 American colleges.
“Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?”

Harvard University
“What [would you] want your future college roommate to know about you?

Read JFK’s Surprisingly Short Harvard College Application Essay

Pomona College
“What does freedom mean to you?”

Rhode Island School of Design
“Is there something you love, have to do, can’t stop thinking about? Write about a personal passion or obsession other than visual art or design.”

Texas A&M University
“Describe a circumstance, obstacle or conflict in your life, and the skills and resources you used to resolve it. Did it change you? If so, how?”

United States Naval Academy
“Describe a personal experience you have had which you feel has contributed to your own character development and integrity.”

West Point (United States Military Academy)
“Why will you be successful in working with leaders, peers, and subordinates of a gender, color, ethnicity, and/or religion different from your own?”

Source: Parade
VI-AN NGUYEN
AUGUST 23, 2014

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#BookReview: The Emperor’s Friend: Marshal Jean Lannes by Margaret Scott Chrisawn #ASMSG #RRBC

In her acknowledgements, the author of this book, who is known to me, called this book (quote), “nonfiction on an obscure subject”(end of quote). Indeed, I had never heard of Marshal Jean Lannes before this book came to my attention. As a noncommissioned officer (NCO) in the US Army during the 80’s and 90’s (post-Vietnam era, Cold War soldier), there was no need for me to know about this gentleman.

Margaret also had these words to say about her mentor at the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution at Florida State University, Dr. Donald D. Horward:

(quote) “I thank him for accepting me, a somewhat elderly and opinionated female, as one of his graduate students. He taught me rigorous research skills, the art of critical analysis, and the ability to see two sides, and sometimes three, of each issue. He also made a valiant effort, generally successful, to eradicate all traces of purple prose from my dissertation. The fact that I put it all back in this book, and then some, is not his fault.” (end of quote)

Before I go further, I know it is important to answer the question Margaret has brought up. What is “purple prose“? Of all the definitions I looked at, I like the way Bob Dole put it. Here is his definition of “purple prose”:

Bob Dole: “I’d say that purple prose is a passage that is so needlessly ornate and wordy that it takes away from the meaning of the passage. We all want our writings to be vivid and sometimes it’s just a little too tempting to describe absolutely everything about a scene, halting action and killing comprehension. The more wordy the passage gets, the harder it is to get the point across.” (Source: Yahoo)

Let’s move on to my review. I obtained a free sample to use for this review from Amazon Kindle. I also used a free sample from Google books. The price of this book puts it outside of my purchase ability. This review is voluntary. I wasn’t asked to write this review by the author. I write on my own personal initiative.

Firstly, other reviewers have indicated that the author is a talented and dedicated researcher, but somewhat lacking in other skills. All of this, however, must take a backseat to her ability to present a historically accurate text in a convincing manner. I draw your attention to that fundamental question here. Is this book convincing? To answer, a qualified military opinion is enlightening.

I turn to the written comments of Major Michael A. Boden, an operations observer/controller at the Combat Maneuver and Training Center at Hohenfels Training Area in Germany. Major Boden is a former assistant professor of history at the US. Military Academy. At the time of writing (2003), he was a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and a Ph.D. candidate in history at Vanderbilt University. He served during the Gulf War in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait with the 1st (Tiger) Brigade, 2d Armored Division, and in Kosovo during 2002 as Executive Officer (XO) of the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor.

Writing in “Army History Magazine,” (the Professional Bulletin of Army History) in the Summer-Fall 2003 issue, he concluded his book review by saying: (quote)”In the final analysis, this is a study of Jean Lannes, French marshal and advance-guard commander extraordinaire. The focus remains throughout on his personality and leadership style and how Lannes applied himself to and executed his duties as a soldier of France. Chrisawn’s research is excellent, her writing crisp, and her conclusions solid. The text is augmented by a better set of maps than most historical works possess, which only adds to the project. This is an excellent book and should serve as the foundation for any secondary research on Jean Lannes for the foreseeable future.” (end of quote)

I concur with this conclusion, based in part on my own military service of over 14 years, which also afforded me several opportunities to participate in military training exercises at Hohenfels, Vilseck and Grafenwoehr, Germany. To conclude, I provide a compelling anecdote (without purple prose) that captured my attention. It is taken from Chapter 7: Revanche on a Grand Scale: Jena 1806.

“”Lannes reached Paris before Christmas…He did not spend much time in Paris in case Napoleon had plans for him. Instead, he went to Lectoure…Lannes refused the invitations that he received, including one from Napoleon… “Tell the emperor I’ll obey him on the battlefield, but not now-I’m on leave,”… Evidently Napoleon…left hm alone.” (end of quote) Makes you want to know more about Marshal Jean Lannes, “The Emperor’s Friend”, doesn’t it? Get this book if it does…

Reviewed by Thomas Jerome Baker
Author of Boudicca: Her Story

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New #Research Study Explores the Impact of MYPs Social-Emotional Well-Being on Lifelong Success #ibmyp #asmsg


Press release, full study, and research summary available here: http://ow.ly/Ahv0p

New Research Finds IB Middle Years Students to be Self-Aware, Resilient, and Engaged in School
www.ibo.org

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) is a recognized leader in the field of international education, encouraging students to be active learners, well-rounded individuals and engaged world citizens. The International Baccalaureate® (IB) offers four high quality international education programmes to more than one million students in 146 countries.

Findings from exploratory study suggest IB Middle Years Programme has a positive impact on students’ social-emotional well-being.

1 - MYP

Singapore, August 13— Increasing amounts of research continue to support what educators have long recognized: social and emotional health plays a key role in determining students’ social and academic outcomes, not only in schooling but also later in life. In a new study conducted by Flinders University, researchers explored this issue by studying the well-being of students, ages 11-16 in Australia, who were enrolled in the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP), an educational framework in which social emotional learning plays a significant role.

In this particular study, researchers examined students’ social-emotional well-being using three different scales to assess student self-perceptions of their mental health. The researchers found:

- Majority of MYP students are flourishing: Researchers used several different metrics to determine whether students were flourishing—defined as the ability to function effectively and feel good about themselves. Over 50% of students were considered to be flourishing.

- Males in MYP are more likely to have better mental health than females in MYP, particularly in the upper years: Researchers found that males were more likely to flourish and have a positive outlook and a positive emotional state, while females were more likely to languish or have moderate mental health. These findings are consistent with a growing body of research indicating that adolescent females nationally and internationally are reporting more mental health challenges than boys.

- More than half of MYP students have a positive outlook and emotional state: 52% of all MYP students surveyed experience a positive emotional state “quite a lot” or “all of the time.”

- Majority of MYP students have a positive sense of global self-concept, are engaged in self-reflection and feel resilient: 61% of MYP students reported a positive sense of global self-concept “always” or “most of the time”; 75% indicated that they were engaging in self-reflection; just over half of students reported that they felt resilient “often” or “nearly all the time”.

- MYP students are satisfied with school: Most MYP students were found to be happy (approximately 70 percent) and satisfied (approximately 80 percent) with school. The researchers found that most MYP students reported that they enjoyed school (72 percent), enjoyed learning (70 percent), felt supported by their school (71 percent) and had a sense of fellowship at school (80 percent).

Read the research summary; download the research report.

This study is released just as the Middle Years Programme relaunches in September 2014 following an update that enhances its focus on social and emotional outcomes and its enrichment of a concept-driven curriculum that encourages teaching and learning for understanding.

About the IB

Founded in 1968, the International Baccalaureate (IB) is a not-for profit foundation that offers four high quality and challenging education programmes for a worldwide community of schools. For 45 years, IB programmes have gained a reputation for rigour and high academic standards, for preparing students for life in a globalized 21st century, and for helping to develop citizens who will create a better, more peaceful world. Currently, more than one million IB students attend nearly 3,700 schools in 146 countries.

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How #Genre “Squeezes” The Life Out Of A Hybrid, Multi-Genre Text #asmsg #t4us #4ftm

Recent book reviews show book reviewers using genre specific conventions and expectations nonjudiciously for multi-genre, nonconventional texts. The overuse of the genre lens to judge hybrid, genre-crossing texts and general fiction can often lead to a frustrating reading experience. This occurs because it is a mismatch between text type on the one hand, expectations and conventions that are narrow and myopic, rigid and unflexible, on the other hand. This is how genre can squeeze the life out of a text that would have otherwise been an enjoyable read were it not forced to “confine its appearance to the conventions of genre.” Below we can see a case study to exemplify where it would be wise to remove the lens of genre and take a fresh look from a different, non-genre perspective.

***The works of Tacitus and Dio are in the public domain. If a book, song, movie, or artwork is in the public domain, then it is not protected by intellectual property laws (copyright, trademark, or patent laws)— which means it’s free for you to use without permission. Finally, in the case of Tolkien, I used the world’s best grammar checker and plagiarism detector, “Grammarly”, to check my text. No matches were found in over 8 Billion web pages. That means due diligence has been done with regards to Tolkien.***

Who was Queen Boudicca? Boudicca was the Warrior Queen of the ancient Iceni tribe. She is arguably England’s first, famous, female ruler. Tacitus, the Roman historian, writing over 30 years after the events he records, tells us she was a loving and devoted wife, obedient yet fully emancipated, loyal to her people, a loving mother, a determined foe, a fierce warrior in battle, and someone who never accepted defeat.

For some, Queen Boudicca will be forever surreal, a legend, a myth, a mystical person created by Tacitus. Others will see her through a practical, more historical lens, as a barbarian, warlike, incapable of peacefully compromising with the Romans for the greater good of all. For some, she will be a ruthless, vengeful, bloodthirsty woman.

Indeed, how much blood must flow when a wrong is committed against your family and your people? The only one who could properly answer this question is the one who has suffered at the hands of the wrongdoer, the oppressor. We have been told the Roman story, the victor. What might the loser’s story be, if it were to be told?

In this book, Boudicca has a voice. She tells her side of the story, alongside the Roman view told by Tacitus. Her voice, in my hands, is just as fictitious as it was in the hands of Tacitus and Dio. Thus, as for genre, it is impossible to make a case for anything other than fiction in the general sense.

Here, I again call your attention to the fact that the works of Tacitus and Dio are in the public domain. Both men have been dead for over a thousand years. Consultation with them was not possible. In the case of Tolkien, this is also true, although his death is much more recent. In writing battlefield speeches however, Tolkien was not the first, nor the last author to do so. The tradition was well established before he came along.

In this case, I used the world’s best grammar checker and plagiarism detector, “Grammarly”, to check my text. No matches with any text written by Tolkien was found in over 8 Billion web pages. That means that unless all of his writing has been removed from the internet, no inappropriate use of Tolkien’s writing has occurred. Due diligence has been done with regards to Tolkien. More importantly, it is well known that words have multiple meanings.

Multiple Meanings?

A text can often be either negative or positive, active or passive, pleasing or displeasing, praise or criticism, depending on how the words are spoken, or the context in which the words are used. This allows each reader to understand this book on their own terms, rather than in the terms of the genre of historical fiction or any other genre. In other words, the reader(s) are free to be entertained by the story, to enjoy the story on its own merits, instead of judging whether or not it conforms to some arbitrary genre category.

For instance, scholars of Tacitus and Dio generally agree that both men used this story as a mechanism to criticise Roman imperialism, from different angles, which accounts for Dio’s story being twice as long as Tacitus. It was Dio, writing much later than Tacitus, who gave us the description of Queen Boudicca in this book that has survived to the present day. How Dio was able to describe Boudicca, when Tacitus couldn’t or wouldn’t describe her, is a mystery to the present day.

Again, due diligence has been done. My meanings were not the same meanings as Tolkien, Tacitus or Dio. Each of these men had their own authorial agenda to pursue, as did I. Finally, you will be left to draw your own conclusion(s) about Queen Boudicca. I hope you enjoy her story…

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Liberating Writing From Genre: A #Writing #Revolution #ASMSG #IAN1

Nowadays, the Self-Published Author (SPA), is at the forefront of a writing revolution that Thomas Kuhn described in 1963 as a, “paradigm shift”. (Source: NCTE) In the past, authors whose books were placed in bookstores had to ensure their writing fit neatly into a specific genre. Why? At the bookstore, the physical book is only going to occupy shelf space on one shelf, in its assigned genre. That means following conventions of the genre in order to meet the physical limitations of the store and reader expectations of the genre.

Nowadays, thanks to developments like Print On Demand (POD) and online book stores, the SPA can cross genre boundaries. Why? In the digital world, there is no physical book shelf to occupy. Therefore, a book can contain elements of multiple genres. My book, “Looking For Catarina“, is an example of a multiple-genre book. It is an example of the kinds of texts that can be produced when writing is liberated from the confines of genre.

Multiple genre books are important, because they respond to a changing world in which we can do new things, write in new ways. It provides a new dimension to the concept of “crossover books”, which appeal to young and old alike. The multi-genre book, rather than appeal to a wide age range, appeals to a wider range of reading tastes. Readers who enjoy a wide variety of books can enjoy the same book. For an example of this, look at the following review headlines:

“A Romantic Visit To Florence”

“Time Travel For The Incurable Romantic”

“Young Love In 1533″

A Short Story Full of Surprises”

“An Enchanting Love Story”

More importantly, the SPA has the freedom to tell the story s/he wants to tell, constrained only by the limits of their imagination. The SPA can write like Salvador Dali painted, freely, uninhibited by the boundaries and conventions and restrictions of any genre. This is a revolution that is currently going on, in which hybrid texts are being produced. Nobody would know where to put these books in a physical bookstore.

These hybrid texts can result in more creative writing and storytelling. This is important because these writers can ultimately appeal to a wider reading audience than before. Yet such writing places demands on reading comprehension that have gone largely unnoticed and unaddressed. For example, a look at book reviews often show book reviewers using genre conventions and expectations to judge hybrid, genre-crossing texts. This is a mismatch between text type and criteria.

It is widely accepted that reading comprehension involves two primary processes: (a) decoding printed text, and (b) understanding language accessed through the process of decoding. Once decoding becomes automatized, reading comprehension is largely dependent upon one’s skills in language comprehension (Catts, Hogan, & Adlof, 2005). Put another way, reading without understanding is the same as not reading at all.

In the end, writing is undergoing a profound, technology-driven, change. This is an enormous paradigm shift that is currently going on. It has created difficulty involved with reading texts that do not conform to the readers’ preconceived notions of genre. This will motivate readers to ultimately let go of old ways of understanding a text and embrace new ways to understand multiple genre, hybrid, border-crossing, boundary-blending text forms that are being produced by many self-published authors around the world.

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5★★★★★ #BookReview: The International Baccalaureate #ASMSG #KindleUnlimited #AmazonPrime

The International Baccalaureate Program
Authored by Thomas Jerome Baker

“An international education must go well beyond the provision of information and is involved in the development of attitudes and values which transcend barriers of race, class, religion, gender or politics.” -International Baccalaureate Organization Subject Guide (1996).

It is my belief that any education that does not unite the nations of the world in a common endeavour is a relic of the past century. A common sense of sharing the responsibility, equally, for the welfare of the planet, globally, is needed more than ever today.

Finally, I can only say one thing: The IB program is a positive way forward for any education system in crisis, any education system that desires quality, any education system that aspires to excellence, any education system that wishes to educate its citizens in the image of the twenty-first century, rather than the past century…

★★★★★ Book Review:

The International Baccalaureate

Excellent Resource & Thought Provoking!!!!
July 20, 2014
By Amazon Customer
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Reading this book reminded me of one of my favorite quote: “Don’t let schooling get in the way of your education.” ~ Mark Twain

When I was 8 years old I remember sitting in my 3rd grade elementary school class very confused and bored out of my mind. I had no clue what the purpose of school was and better yet how it would help me in the future. I grew up in very poor neighborhood; Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York. Schooling was just too much theory and not enough application.

After many years of struggles, I now have a very successful career in corporate America, I’m a successful business owner and bestselling author! I realize that having an entrepreneurial mindset; things had to be practical for me and traditional schooling is everything but practical! I love learning but I have to be honest I was very skeptical about International Bachelaureate system of education, but after giving the book a fair shot and reading it to the end I realize that anyone interesting in making education more practical would love this book.

This book is an excellent resource. The author, Thomas Baker, provides information that is relevant for anyone who is interested in the quality of education. Thomas Baker is non-partisan, he doesn’t take sides a priori. After looking at both sides, he reaches a conclusion that the evidence available clearly indicates that the International Baccalaureate system of education is the best in the world.

Whether you agree or disagree with his assessment of the International Baccalaureate, you are sure to find this book a well informed and well-researched, excellent resource. Baker’s enthusiasm, in the end, is well justified based on the case studies he examines. I highly recommend this book for anyone with an interest in high quality education.

Reviewed by Kevin J Donaldson,
Author of 10 Secrets of the New Rich: How To Join The World’s New Breed Of Millionaires

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IATEFL Chile International Conference: Pecha Kucha & ELT #ASMSG

1 - PK Teachers Workshop

At the recent IATEFL Chile Bi-Annual International Conference, I gave a workshop entitled “Pecha Kucha & ELT: Changing The Classroom“. My slides are below. The workshop was well attended. In fact, conference room 309 was full of teachers 15 minutes before the start of the workshop. By the time the workshop began, the ushers were already turning people away. For those who participated, it was a unique learning experience, as much for me as for them.

Pecha Kucha is a very young presentation technique. It has only been around for little more than a decade now. Yet when I saw my first Pecha Kucha, five years ago, I immediately recognised it as a game changer. It has the potential to be transformative in just about any classroom in which students are being asked to give presentations of some sort.

If we are honest, we wil admit it’s usually a boring affair. Power Point slide after slide is shown, filled with unimaginative text that is read in a monotone drone. Unimaginative images add to the general malaise of the classroom, including special effects that zoom in and out, move up-down-sideways-diagonal and even circular too.

Pecha Kucha changes all of that.

Firstly, its principles are easy to understand and apply. It’s fast, it’s efficient, it’s effective, it’s collaborative, it’s visual, it’s easy to prepare, it’s fun.

However, it does require practice, lots of it, to do this really well.

Practice, oh what a sweet word in the ears of any EFL teacher. Students practicing what they are going to say, again and again, going over their own words, to speak about images they themselves have selected. Volumes of practice, huge quantities of practice, helping the students to achieve the eventual automaticity that is the hallmark of mastery.

Of all the principles of the Pecha Kucha, the most important principle is this: images are powerful. Images convey meaning and emotions. In fact, the whole range of the human experience can be conveyed by images. For example, think of the images left on the walls of caves by cave men. No one needs a cave man to verbalize what you are seeing. You feel it – through your eyes – to your brain – to your emotions. It’s visual storytelling. That’s what the Pecha Kucha is, visual literacy in its purest form…

Finally, I leave you with the image of teachers fully engaged as they collaborate on how they can bring Pecha Kucha into their classrooms. In a room, the smartest person is always the room. Collectively, the combined intelligence of the room will always be superior to the intelligence of any one individual. Using the principle of collaboration, these teachers believe they can go back into their classrooms and make a difference.

As the workshop facilitator, that means I did my job well. We teachers are doing the thing that we do well, collaborate to make our practice stronger. Or, as Stephen Krashen so eloquently put this, we have learned to, “Go To Our Right.”

My workshop presentation slides can be seen and downloaded here for free.

http://es.slideshare.net/profesorbaker/iarefl-chile-2014-pecha-pk

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#5STAR #Book #Review of Susan Tarr’s New Book: “Miranda Bay” #ASMSG

Miranda Bay: “We have passed a mauvais quart d’heure

Miranda Bay” by author Susan Tarr, is incorrectly described as “an uncomfortable, but brief, experience”. On the contrary, we encounter the full emotional range of the human experience. There is humor, and it is comfortable. There is love, and it is long lasting. Susan Tarr has written a novel that can be enjoyed by a wide diversity of readers, male and female, of all ages, from all walks of life. There is sure to be someone in this story who reaches inside you, grabs your heart, and holds you captive for the entire duration of this exquisitely well-written book. I freely admit that the protagonist, Miranda has human qualities that I admire and adore in my own lovely wife.

Obviously, Ms. Susan Tarr is an excellent wordsmith. She clearly understands both human nature and the power of words. For example, in the fifth century B.C., the Greek philosopher Democritus taught that “word is a shadow of deed.” Plato said the same thing, only negatively, “False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.”

The biblical letter of James tells us that those who can master their tongues can master anything. And Shakespeare warned, “In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt / But, being season’d with a gracious voice, / Obscures the show of evil?”

Susan brilliantly weaves Shakespeare’s warning into the flow of her narrative at a very critical moment in court. (Source: The Merchant of Venice) The protagonist, Miranda, is very fortunate to have such brilliant rhetoric used in her behalf.

What should these words, this rhetoric do? It should present a case or a story that allows listeners to see anew, to gain a fresh perspective on the matter at hand. Miranda’s lawyer is a brilliant speaker, but will his words be persuasive, with everything hanging in the balance? Will he be successful? It all depends on how you judge success.

(Quote) How strong yet fragile is the human condition…if we are encouraged we grow, if we are bullied we soon perish in spirit… “…because he implies that he holds the weapon of monetary power over her head, the total ruin of her business, her biggest dream…she believes she’s in no position to argue…-” (end of quote) Miranda, at the end of the day, is in dire straits, tense circumstances.

In sum, each reader who reads this book will find something here to inspire us. We wil find someone to admire, someone to adore. We will find someone to care about, and yes, we will also find somebody to hate. We will laugh and we will cry. We will hold our breath as Miranda goes to court, hoping that she will find a way to hang on to her dream, Miranda Bay. And as we close the final page on this beautiful novel, we come to fully realize what is the most important thing of all…and nothing else matters…on the shores of Miranda Bay…

I give this book my full, complete, and total approval. Get one copy for yourself, one for your best friend, and one for a Christmas present for someone you love. This book will make an excellent summer read, and a thoughtful Christmas gift. What about me? I was fortunate to receive a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Reviewed by Thomas Jerome Baker
Author of I Live In Chile

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#Book #Review of Boudicca: #HerStory by Lilian Roberts #ASMSG #Bookreviews

The purpose of this post is to share recent reviews I have received for one of my books, entitled, “Boudicca: Her Story“, (in Kindle format, available from Amazon) and “Boudicca: Warrior Queen” (in paperback format, available from Createspace). Same story, same author, two different formats.

For your reading convenience, you choose the format that you like. Nowadays, many people still prefer to read their books in the old way, turning the pages, smelling the aroma of the story, using the senses to get a “feel” for the story that enhances the reading experience. Despite predictions to the contrary, the paperback has not become obsolete. It remains ubiquitous in our reading culture.

This short story recently was Number 4 on the Amazon Best Seller list for short stories. The list is updated on an hourly basis, so it is a moment of glory, and then the moment is gone. :-) Anyway, now on to the review I would like to share with you.

**

5.0 out of 5 stars
WONDERFUL READ!!!!, July 12, 2014
By Lilian Roberts (Atlanta)

This review is from: Boudicca: Her Story

Lilian Roberts - Atlanta

I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. I am a history buff and I have read a lot of books about western civilization. However I was utterly surprised to find that I had never heard of Boudicca, the first Queen of England. The more I got into the story the more I fell in love with this amazing, woman.

What a remarkable individual! Her drive, her courage, her commitment to her beliefs and her people left me astonished. When her husband the king passed away in AD 60 she found herself facing one of the largest empires in those days the Romans. They were greedy and always looking to take over lands and fortune from others to expend and prosper in the most despicable way. In this story they zeroed on Boudicca’s fortune. It was stunning as to how she decided she was not going to let them destroy her life.

Thomas Baker did an amazing job in presenting the story in the most authenticated way possible. The book is very well written and the plot easy to follow. The author provides a wonderful mixture of emotions that keep you eager to turn the pages. This was an amazing way for me to learn a part of history I had totally missed, and l loved it.

The book is a combination of actual facts and fantasy that gives the story a wonderful touch of the author’s imagination. Boudicca’s feelings of hurt and anger, while trying to take revenge against the Romans for violating her daughter were heartfelt. As a mother I feel I would have gone to the ends of the earth just as she did to right a wrong against my family. This is the kind of thing that would make a human being utterly fearless.

Thomas Baker provided an amazing story that kept me glued to the pages. When I arrived at the end of the story I found myself wanting to read more. He makes his characters come alive in the reader’s mind and that was very intriguing to me. Boudicca was a woman so filled with courage, she would give everything including her life to make things right. This is a very powerful story that I would recommend to any person that loves history and is interested in values, integrity, and passion for doing the right thing.

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#Very #Impressive #Work: A Book Review #ASMSG

Like all indie authors, I receive feedback from readers in the form of book reviews. Many authors say that the reviews that mean the most are the critical ones. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about the reviews that say things like: “I was disappointed. This writer sucks.” I wish I were making that up, but most of the writers I know have had their fair share of reviews like that. Those kinds of reviews are senseless, and they hurt, no matter how used to such mistreatment of your efforts as a writer you may become. There simply is no way to protect yourself. Your writing is truly a part of who you are. It is inseperable from your psyche.

What I’m getting at is that reviews are a vehicle for personal growth. When a writer reads a review, it is immediately evident whether or not the reviewer has made a genuine effort to give constructive feedback. We live in a time in which technology is so advanced that if a reviewer makes a clear and compelling case in the form of criticism, the writer can make a change and have that change appear in his/her book within 24 hours. The key of course, is good feedback.

Here is an example review I recently received on a short story of mine called, “Boudicca: Her Story“. The story reached number 4 on the Amazon Best-Seller List for short stories. Anyway, the book review was written by a reviewer who calls himself/herself “Happy”. “Happy” is from Missouri. Anyway, here is the review:

(Quote) “I could have gotten this information on WikiLeaks. I like history and historical fiction. This book was a disappointment. Don’t waste your money.” (end of quote)
Source: Boudicca: Her Story by T. Jerome Baker

Yes, that is everything. It is not an excerpt, not an extract from a larger piece of writing. That’s the full book review, complete. That’s everything. As you can imagine, the review does not give me the slightest bit of information related to what changes I could possibly consider making to the book in order to improve its quality. I can do nothing to improve the reading experience of future readers. Nothing is possible with such a review.

On the other hand, writers also receive good reviews too. To be honest, as time goes by you gain unique insights into what your readers like, expect, or want to read. Over time, readers identify authors whose writing style they enjoy. It is not rare for authors to have dozens, even hundreds of positive reviews. To put this another way, nobody buys a Volkswagen when they want a Mercedes. Yes, from time to time readers will give a new author an opportunity. But such a chance is rarely a shot in the dark. The reader has a good idea that they will likely be pleased with what the writer has to offer.

I want to pivot here and turn to a review that has made my day. It is a positive review. The reviewer makes genuine comments which show a great deal of thought and insight went into the writing of the review. If you will compare the two reviews, the negative review above, and the positive review below, there can be little doubt about which review has the greater value…

Very Impressive Work

M. Medler "Ella" (UK)

M. Medler “Ella” (UK)

Ok, so I approached this book with about as much respect as your average teenager would your grandma’s set of false teeth. What is the point, I wondered, of writing a book about writing book reviews? As if there weren’t enough tutorials online, or hints and pointers on every site. Don’t be personal, control your emotions, stay objective, focus on the good parts of a book, mention what segment of the market would enjoy it, yadda, yadda, yadda. I’m a reviewer, too, I published hundreds of book reviews. I know all that.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the level of intelligence and intuition with which this book is written, nor did I expect the absolute honesty with which the content is presented – all done so smoothly, and with such effortless tact, that you’ll be halfway through the book before you even realize you got there. You get explanations, links, comparisons, pointers – everything you need to get you walking down the right track – offered in an easy-follow, entertaining voice full of wisdom.

I expect every reader will take away only those words they agree with, but if you consider yourself a serious reviewer, or maybe are just starting out with a mind to make book reviewing a possible career, or even if all you are looking for is a technique to help you formulate and present your opinions, you need to read this book. It will give you the tools for writing not just a review, but a useful evaluation that will help the prospective reader, and the author alike.

Very impressive work, well deserving of 5 stars. I simply couldn’t pass the chance to write this review.

** Thank you very much Ella, for your generosity, your wisdom, and your time. Best regards, Thomas Jerome Baker

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