Rejected Reviews

Image of lunar eclipse

Hello readers! Three of my recent review submissions to the almighty ’Zon were rejected. I feel especially bad about the review for Cecilia Pulliam’s fantasy novel Plighted because Pulliam is such a sweet person. Her thoughtful, faith-filled blog posts fill me with hope. She’s a good writer, and her book only has one review.

My review for David Watkins’ Rhitta Gawr (from my favorite horror book series, argh!) was also rejected. AND my review for the talented wordsmith Tyler Jones’ The Dark Side of the Room was rejected.

I studied the ’Zon guidelines to make sure I hadn’t violated any rules in my reviews. (At first I thought using the word climactic was the reason my review got rejected, but no.) I dutifully followed their instructions for appeal. Their response didn’t help me understand why my reviews were rejected. The only thing they told me (via email) is I violated guidelines, and I’m not allowed to submit another review for these books since I’ve already been rejected for violating guidelines. Frustrating and not helpful!

Today I present the reviews that the ‘Zon rejected. I feel like the authors have been cheated out of a review on a big platform, but I hope by putting them on my website it’ll still help.

Plighted by Cecilia Pulliam
In Pulliam’s high fantasy novel, smart, and kind Ilona agrees to marry an older, retired war hero named Elgar. But Elgar has a secret concerning their marriage and subsequent journey from Ilona’s homeland.

I appreciated that Pulliam introduced the characters and the locations slowly. Sometimes with fantasy names it takes a while to remember the unusual spellings and keep everyone straight. In Plighted, I had no trouble at all.

Ilona is naïve but learns fast, and she’s brave. Sometimes I was frustrated with her; sometimes I felt sorry for her. But she’s a character worth cheering on. I liked Elgar. He’s stoic and unapproachable, at least at first, but he’s also respectful and has wisdom we can use in our own lives: “Let’s not borrow problems.”

As the story unfolds, both Ilona and the reader learn about her powerful gifts and how important she is to the peoples and their land. Elgar’s secret and Ilona’s mission become clear during their travels. Stakes rise. Dangerous creatures close in. It’s all rather exciting.

I also liked that the (clean) romance element of the story develops slowly and is believable. And some of the species in Ilona and Elgar’s world communicate telepathically, but Pulliam handles it well without making the story too fantastical or using the communication as a plot copout.

The climactic ending is so tense and emotional that I cried. Then Pulliam includes a sweet epilogue for a pillowy-soft landing.

Ilona’s journey in this book can be seen as an allegory for spiritual growth, trusting that God knows our way even if we can’t see the path.

My only complaint is that there are too many similar scenes/encounters in the middle during Ilona and her companions’ journey. So I took off half a star. But fantasy is not my normal reading genre, so fantasy fans may not share my complaint.

Overall, this is a sweet, exciting story with creative creatures and a lovely but dangerous world. Kudos to Pulliam. 4.5 stars.

I read Plighted through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.


Rhitta Gawr by David Watkins
This is number 73 in the Short Sharp Shocks! series. In Watkins’ novelette, Quin and Philip travel to Northern Wales for an adventurous getaway. They underestimate the local legend when they go hiking at night.

Seren, the alluring bar tender, has the two men wrapped around her little finger. I kept wanted to tell Quin and Philip, “No, don’t go hiking with her!” The dread is thick. The ending is satisfying (not necessarily a happy ending, because it’s horror).

Great fun, fast read, five stars.

I read this story through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.


The Dark Side of the Room by Tyler Jones
Elderly Betsy is a resident of a rundown apartment building. There is a dark side of her living room. Is it her failing eyesight, or has that side of the room actually gotten darker, perhaps hiding something in the shadows?

PROS:
Somehow Jones’ gentle prose and simple metaphors create sharp, memorable images. The reader knows exactly what Betsy’s apartment looks like, how her cats act, and how her neighbors behave. It’s a pleasure to read.

I like the way Jones describes other characters by showing the reader how Betsy sees them. The whole first third of the book I was thinking how I definitely didn’t like her landlord, Al, and he doesn’t even show up in any scenes until 41 percent of the way through the book.

I also like the way Jones hides what is really happening. Is Betsy going senile? The bizarre events could just be her brain short circuiting. Is there something paranormal going on? Maybe deceased loved ones are haunting her. Or is there an infestation of rats wreaking havoc? The mysterious cause of the bizarre events in Betsy’s apartment building kept me turning pages.

CONS:
As for any negatives, sensitive readers may find some scenes too brutal or gross. I actually gagged during one scene. And most of the story isn’t high-action. It’s more character-driven, not a negative for me, but readers’ mileage may vary.

OVERALL:
I really enjoyed this dark story (even the gross parts). Five big stars.

“Along the Shadow,” a related novelette, is included in the “extended edition” of this book. I think The Dark Side of the Room is better, but “Along the Shadow” is also a fun read.

I read The Dark Side of the Room through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

p.s. After about 10 days, the ’Zon accepted a new review from me, so I guess I’m back in their good graces.
p.p.s. Today’s feature image is the lunar eclipse on the 19th of November, 2021, looking from our back yard toward the Blue Ridge Mountains. The moon was a big, orange beauty!

101 thoughts on “Rejected Reviews

  1. How strange. I’ve read through your reviews a few times and can’t see any reason why they would be rejected. In fact, I’ve just downloaded Gitta Fawr as I have an interest in Welsh legends (and Snowdon is just fifty miles from home). I think if they are going to reject reviews, they need to come up with valid reasons, not just that you violated guidelines. I wonder if the reviews are scanned automatically and because you stated that you’d read them through your Kindle Unlimited subscription, it thought you were advertising? See the link for someone else who got banned –
    View at Medium.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting that you noted the KU sentence. I actually started putting those in there so that Amz wouldn’t get suspicious. A KU read doesn’t register as “verified purchase,” but I thought a KU read would be more legitimate. Hmm, maybe it does sound suspicious . . . but they’re ebooks so . . . oh, I dunno!

      I read Ms. Chang’s article. She posted a lot of reviews, and I do read a lot, so maybe my reviews on back-to-back days flagged me. Thanks for sharing the link, Eileen!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I read this post with interest. One point they noted was ‘receiving products in exchange for a review’. But Amazon does that! I am a Vine Reviewer which means they give me free products. They don’t force me to review them (they used to, years ago) but I suspect if I didn’t, they’d drop me.

      Odd.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I just had a review rejected and others in the past. My theory is that reviews are run through a computer program, right? No one actually reads them. They search for certain words or phrases that they don’t like and that gets you a rejection. I’ve had a couple of reviews where I left a swear word in and that did it. But others that were clean and still got rejected! Maybe the word “God” in the first review? Who knows, its sort of ridiculous!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I thought about “God,” too, but in a fantasy book, there are certainly many gods. Or is it because I capitalized God? But then theological books talk about God, so their reviews would, too. I’m scratching my head! It is good to know, Tammy, that someone like you (with intelligent, thoughtful reviews) also got rejected because I’m thinking the rejections are more of a glitch than something more nefarious.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. These are great reviews! I don’t understand Amazon’s policy at all at times! I’ve had a couple rejected lately too and its especially frustrating when they are indie titles as its denying authors of much needed support!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had two in a row rejected and I haven’t posted a review since. And the ‘resubmit review’ button was gray. Like yours, I could find nothing that violated their rules and they didn’t respond to my emails. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jacqui, my ‘ears’ pricked up when I read this comment as your are a Vine reviewer so I thought you’d be okay. I was invited to join that programme but didn’t ever get around to it. I have only had one review rejected and I used the description explosive diarrhea and I believe it was that which triggered the rejection. I had posted two other reviews on the same day and those were both accepted.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. They offer amazing free products. I got overhead fans recently which I love.

        ‘Explosive diarrhea’–colorful. Memorable. But maybe they want whitewashed. I know any number of efriends have told me they tried to post reviews of my books and they never showed up.

        I wish there was a reasonable alternative to Amazon. I do shop as often as possible at Walmart. They’re pretty close to the convenience, but not with books.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. The resubmit button didn’t work on my rejected reviews, either. Amz didn’t reply to my emails, either. I was able to chat with customer service though, and then they followed up with an email saying I couldn’t resubmit. I’ll joint your sigh: Sigh.:-)

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    1. Heehee, that’s because you’re such a creative person, Teagan. I felt a little singled out, but after hearing other reviewers’ stories, I feel a little better. I think it must be some kind of computer problem since computers can’t read very well in context. Hey, congratulations on the brand new Dead of Winter Journey 11!

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  5. Great reviews, Priscilla, and I don’t see anything wrong with them. I wonder if it was the sentence about the KU subscription! Go figure.

    I have to be careful how I word my Net Galley reviews. Amazon used to want the “I received a free copy in exchange…” disclaimer, but no more. I do write, “Thanks to Net Galley and (publisher name) for an advanced reader copy.”

    Amazon’s email response to my rejected review didn’t yield any answers, but they did suggest resubmitting without the content that violate their guidelines. They didn’t tell me what it was, but Harmony was able to help me figure it out.

    One more thought (and you may have already done this) is to post the reviews to Goodreads and BookBub if the books are listed there.

    And lastly, beautiful photo of the moon! You know how I like full moons! Unfortunately, I slept through the eclipse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m going to start taking out the word “subscription” to see if that helps. My very latest review, the one they did accept, was an outright purchase instead of a KU read. It’s nice that Amz let you resubmit your review. They wouldn’t let me. (Haha, maybe whatever my violation was it was TERRIBLE!)

      I do know you love full moons, Joan. I would have slept through this one, too, but my sweet, amateur astronomer hubster woke me up to see it.:-)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. How frustrating to be told that the reviews violate guidelines, but not specifically how. I’m envisioning a horror story involving a virus imbedded in a review that exits the screener’s computer and gives them a stomach flu.

    I love the moon photo!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Priscilla, Amazon has only rejected one of my reviews, see my comment to Jacqui above, but I spend a fortune on Amazon and I thought that might be why I never have issues. That is from a purchaser perspective. As a writer, Amazon has treated me quite shabbily. Many of my ebooks have been removed and I have no way of finding out why or how to get them back on Amazon. 45 reviews for While the Bombs Fell were removed and I have no idea why. It was overnight. I am now removing all my children’s book from Amazon and putting them into an international children’s literary association instead. It was never my aim to make money from those books but rather to create a love of reading in children. My paperbacks are also shockingly expensive on Amazon as they add a massive markup. It is very upsetting for writers but there are other platforms for reviews and I post mine to Goodreads and Bookbub if I remember. I also blog them and post to the publisher’s platform if there is one and Lulu.com if the books are available there. I know a lot of authors (all non – US) who won’t list their books on on Amazon any more because of all the hassles.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It is very odd. My publisher thinks it is to do with the whole ebook price fixing story that came to a head last year, but I don’t know. Anyhow, they are all available from Lulu.com and TSL publications at better pricing too. Anne, my publisher, is a gem and gets good postage prices to the USA for some of my regular readers. Life is never easy, but difficulties must be overcome. There is no other way, is there?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Not knowing exactly why your ebooks were removed or how to get them back on must be infuriating. Thanks for the Lulu tip. I admit that I forget to look at Lulu for books. Well, now I know exactly where to leave my eventual review for While the Bombs Fell.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Crystal.:-) The camera is just my husband’s cell phone (he took the pic), but it’s up against the eyepiece of a “grab-and-go” (small, portable) telescope. The hardest part was for him to stop shivering long enough to hold the phone still! A cold front came through that night, and it was cold out!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t see any reason why your reviews were rejected, Priscilla. I have one book where they keep pulling reviews too. They can be so frustrating to try to get an answer from. Sorry! I did find a book to add to my TBR list though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Odd about your book’s reviews. That seems to be a whole different aspect of Amz’s process. But I am thrilled you found a book to put on your TBR, so at least my reviews posted here helped a little. I’m glad you stopped by, Denise.:-)

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  9. I’m so sorry that some of your reviews got rejected! That’s really frustrating because your simply sharing your opinion and that can really make or break a purchase for prospective readers. So unfair. Keep fighting the machine!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m in agreement with your readers on this. “WTF?” 🙂 Good reviews. I’m not reading much of anything these days. When I get downtime it’s easier on my tired brain to watch a video. That’s me being honest. But your reviews are always so well done, I would read these books. I really wood. would. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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