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. The ‘Zon as in the all-powerful, ever-present, far-reaching Amazon. Well, I tried another review, and it was accepted yesterday, so I guess I’m back in their good graces.:-) Thanks for commenting, Rami!

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    1. That would be the sensible thing to do, Sue. I’m a little hesitant to do that because Goodreads is owned by Amazon, the very company I’m whining about. I am seriously thinking about signing up over there, though.

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  1. Priscilla, these are great reviews! I do book reviews and post on Amazon, Facebook groups, Goodreads groups, and Instagram. You are right that many authors don’t get the attention or reviews needed. I’ve not thought of sending my reviews to other sites or magazines. What is the ‘Zon magazine? Can you provide a link please? Thanks so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the kind words about my reviews, Paula.:-) The ‘Zon is simply the all-powerful, ever-present, far-reaching Amazon. (I was irritated and didn’t want to type the full name.) I found out today that I can also leave reviews on Lulu.com for self-published authors who sell through that site. I just picked up Robbie Cheadle’s While the Bombs Fell from Lulu.:-)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. For no reason at all i had 10 reviews pulled from their site last weekend. I complained and they did eventually reinstate but its terrible for the authors who are relying on these reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought the reviews were fair and don’t see how they could violate terms of service. All I can say is, there’s more than one place to post reviews!

    If you have contact with these authors, it might be good to drop a note that the reviews are on your blog. They still might want to post “I got a review” on their own blogs or websites.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ll occasionally have one rejected – for what reason I’ve never figured out – and it gives me the option of resubmitting it. I did, but have no idea if it was accepted. It’s all a mystery with ‘Zon.

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  5. I have absolutely no idea why your reviews were rejected. It makes no sense to me at all, and I read them carefully to see if I could figure it out. Hmm. Zilch, nada. That sucks for the authors, but you did your part, and it was kind of you to share them here.

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    1. Thanks, Diana.:-) I totally agree with a business’s right to set their rules, and if I violated them, my reviews should have been rejected. It’s just that I can’t figure out what rule I broke, and they can’t say (understandably, if they don’t have enough human employees to look into everything), and THAT’s frustrating! I’m glad you chimed in!

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      1. That is frustrating. I recently had two youtube videos taken down due to copyright violations for music (which I have the licensing receipts for!). I couldn’t even find a way to send an email. I think you’re right that they’re too big to accommodate the peasants. 😀 😀

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  6. Hi Priscilla – thanks for sharing these reviews here. I didn’t know that reviews could be rejected. That’s so weird – I saw nothing in your reviews that would lead to that. I almost never leave reviews on Amazon, unless it’s an indie author I want to support. I sometimes leave reviews on Goodreads, though, but of course Amazon owns Goodreads. Maybe they are less strict there…

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    1. I knew Amazon owned Goodreads, so I hadn’t considered that the review guidelines may be less strict there. Amazon accepted a couple of new reviews from me in the past two days, so maybe whatever glitch there was (or whatever rule I broke) is all cleared up now. Thanks for commenting, Barbara!

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      1. That’s really strange. I tried to look at my Amazon reviewer profile today and could not find it. I used to be able to see a ranking and all the reviews I wrote. Not sure what happened to them or maybe they are just moving away from that.

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  7. I’m so glad you ended up sharing them here! As I was reading that I was hoping you would. But sorry you weren’t quite sure which violation you had made. Maye it was just a glitch in the system and you had bad timing to submit right as it was occurring. Either way, great reviews! Glad you were able to share them somewhere! AND glad your next review was accepted!

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    1. I’m also thinking it was some kind of glitch. I really can’t spot anything bad in my reviews unless using the word “subscription” was a red flag. In the next review that was accepted, I didn’t use that word, so maybe! It sure was frustrating not knowing what specific rule I broke! Thanks for chiming in, Courtney.:-)

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      1. OH! I bet that might be a trigger word! But do you know if you’ve ever used it before and had a review accepted? Also, as I thought more about all this, two other things came to mind: (1) I didn’t even know Amazon ever rejected reviews! (2) I forgot to mention when I first read your title I thought “Zon” was some sort of sci fi literary mag or something. It took me until I started reading the comments to “get it.” lol

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        1. Yes, I have used “subscription” in a review before, but never three days in a row, so that might have something to do with it. Or not! Again, Amazon never explained which guideline rule I broke. Haha, yeah, I was irritated and didn’t want to type the full Amazon name.:-) (I’m over it now.)

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  8. Great reviews, and I can’t see what they’d found to object. The system has many glitches, and in my case, I post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.es (Spain, that is where I live now), and for some reason, sometimes they publish them in some and reject them in others, although it is exactly the same review. They insist that their rules are different on each site, but that is not true. I’ve read them. I suspect the automated system they use has quite a few glitches, and some of the words they programme into it might get jumbled up every so often. No matter what the content of the book is, sometimes you cannot even mention some of the topics the book is about, because they don’t accept them in a review, although they might be mentioned in the description. I try to remember not to include quotes either (although you didn’t) just in case. I’ve had some reinstated after complaining, but it is a frustrating process. I have never (to the best of my knowledge) had a review rejected on Goodreads, but that is more of a reader’s site (in theory, at least), so it is a bit free for all. I recommend caution if you think of using it as an author, though, as some groups detest interference if they feel you’re trying to do self-promotion.
    Thanks for including the reviews here. I don’t read a lot of fantasy either, but like your recommendations.

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    1. How interesting that you’ve had the same review accepted at one Amazon and rejected at another. I have confidence that glitches will go away with time as the computer reading software improves. (It’s kind of frustrating in the meantime.) Thanks for the kind words about my reviews, Olga, and thanks for commenting.:-)

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  9. I am so sorry they kept rejecting your reviews and wouldn’t explain why! That is incredibly frustrating. But it is so nice for the authors that you have reviewed them on your blog regardless. The first novel sounds really nice, and I like the sound of the character development for Ilona and how over time she changes and becomes less naïve within their relationship. The second short story sounds daunting and suspenseful. And then the final one sounds cleverly structured to best keep the reader guessing for as long as possible.

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    1. I’m just glad Amazon is accepting my latest reviews. It sure is puzzling as to why my reviews were rejected. You are so right about the third story . . . cleverly structured, good story. Thanks for commenting, Olivia-Savannah.:-)

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  10. Priscilla, thank you so much for your kind review and the mention of my blog. I’ve signed up for yours. It is a beautiful site which I intend to explore more fully. Glad the Giant allowed recent reviews. We may never know the whys of their rejections. Your photo of the moon is amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

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