Wednesday, February 1, 2012

An Open Mind


“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.”

- Terry Pratchett

I read all reviews about books with suspicion. There are too many friends or people worried about hurting an author’s feelings. While I know reviews are subjective, each and every YA book reviewed on blog cannot be a 5.

At the same time, I am wary of hurting author’s feelings—especially friends. If I read a friend’s book that I won’t give a 4 or 5, I don’t give it a rating on Goodreads. I’ve only agreed to review 2 books by authors on my blog because I believed in those books. I’ve done a few unsolicited because I’ve love those books so much. This is such a post!

This problem isn’t limited to friends. I’ve heard agents gushing about two YA books from last year that were all premise, but slow plot.

Another issued I’ve had is because many writers are bypassing the gatekeeper, the sheer volume of books published per year has SOARED. Sometimes the quality of books has suffered. If I’m interested in the premise or author, I’ll download a sample chapter. Sometimes it's clear the big six have backed books with sparkle and no substance. And sometimes I can tell the inexperienced writers from the experienced ones who took the extra effort to hire an editor. And I’ve read self published books that were just as high quality as anything put out by an indie press or the BIG SIX.


Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn is such a book.


She did her homework as evidenced by her blog post HERE.


Here’s the premise:

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can't read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can't be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf's mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she's dragged deep into a hidden underworld of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.


Susan’s premise intrigued me. She already published a book with a small press, so I know she’s an experienced writer. I downloaded her chapter 1. It hooked me. Before I got a chance to buy the book, I won it. It was one of those books that suck you in, like with happened to me with Divergent last year.

At first I was annoyed with Kira. She seemed to let others make decisions for her, but was in a tough situation. How do you confide in people who can have their minds read by others? Keeping a secret is nearly impossible in Kira’s world. There was a love triangle, but this one was different from the typical YA. In a sea of damsels living for their men, Kira is kickass. I liked that Susan Kaye Quinn didn’t make her dystopian set too far into the future. It made the technology and phrases feel authentic. Thoughts, actions, and dialogue were all believable.

My only gripe is that Susan self-published, so she doesn’t have some big publisher making sure this book is in Walmart and has its own display in bookstores everywhere. I want Open Minds to have a BIG audience.

This book had it all – 5 stars.


It's available:

KINDLE

PAPERBACK


118 comments:

  1. I really really REALLY want to read this book! Of course, I just haven't gotten around to it yet. Everything I've heard about this book is positive. I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Jess, I hope you get to read it soon. If you do, please let me know. I'd love to know what you think.

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  2. Good post Theresa. I am the same way with reviews--I hold them with a grain of salt. And, I try to be a positive person and I won't post a bad review about a book thinking that maybe it was just not for me.

    I do appreciate being able to read a few pages of a book (traditionally or online) and that plays a much more powerful role than reviews and the other stuff in driving what I try.

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    1. Slamdunk, I'm much more cautious when I read positive reviews now. So I often read the first chapter and wait for reviews from people who aren't friends to roll in. If everything is 5 stars, it doesn't make sense. The best books in the world don't have all 5 star reviews.

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  3. I have heard amazing things about Susan's book and definitely plan on buying it as soon as I have the cash. Thanks for the review!

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    1. Shelley, you're welcome. In my opinion, the positive reviews are true.

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  4. I really enjoyed Susan's book, too. I know what you mean about the big publishers, but I think Susan is so talented and business savvy that she'll make more money going the Indie route.

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    1. Susan, I think Susan Kaye Quinn feels the same way. According to her blog post, writers shouldn't self publish to get reviews from the big six. I guess it's like starting a blog thinking you'll land a book deal like Julie Powell.

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  5. Thanks for the review! This one is on my TBR list--I'm excited to read it at some point soon!

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    1. Laura, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks for commenting.

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  6. So glad I bought this. I haven't opened it yet, but it's in my pile.

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    1. Miranda, let me know when you read it. I was impressed!

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  7. Yay for a kickass heroine! This one sounds like such a fun read--I'll have to check it out!

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  8. Meredith, I hope you enjoy Open Minds. It's one of my top YA reads of all time.

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  9. That's the thing I find truly weird about writerly blogs. I get to know the blogger BEFORE the book -so I may really like the blogger, read the book and not like the book. But in cases like these I've kept quiet. I always make it a principle to only write reviews of books I really like!

    Anyway!! Yay for Susan Kaye Quinn!! All the best with her book!!

    Take care
    x

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  10. Old Kitty, the same has happened with me. Sometimes a genuine heart, and clever or informative blog doesn't translate into hundreds of pages of fiction. And then there are writers I care about who don't write in genres I read.

    But if an author is established and I don't know him or her, I'll write honest reviews. I've got several three stars and lower on Goodreads.

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  11. I'm like you, Theresa. I don't think all bloggers books are 5 stars, or sometimes even 4, so if not, then I don't review it. I've become more cautious about this lately, because if we're not honest, and can't stand honesty in our behalf, what do the ratings mean?

    This book, though - Open Minds. I've already decided that this is a book I want to read, after reading the sample (I always read samples and am reluctant if there isn't one.) I also know from Susan's first book that she's an excellent writer, and so....

    Great endorsement, Theresa. Thanks!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

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  12. Ann, I couldn't agree more. We're on the same wavelength. It's like we can read each other's minds...

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  13. I'm reading this now :) This is an excellent review! :)

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    1. Len, thank you. Let me know what you think when you finish. I think Open Minds is a polished, interesting book. Right now I'm reading a book from a small press. I'm over halfway through and have found 4 typos already!

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  14. Terry Prachett has such a great way of putting things.

    That book sounds about my speed even though I'm not much of a YA reader. I'll have to check it out. Thanks.

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  15. Thanks for the great review. It's definitely hard with friends' books. I personally don't put a book on Goodreads if I don't think it's 4. I agree that not all are 5 and what people like is subjective. I hope I get to Open Minds because it sounds great.

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    1. Natalie, I hope you get to Open Minds too! I'll put 1-3 star reviews on Goodreads, but usually if it's an established author and not a friend.

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  16. I keep hearing about this book, I must check it out. Thanks for the recommendation, Theresa.

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  17. Glynis, you're welcome. I hope you get to read it.

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  18. Excellent write-up, Theresa, and I couldn't agree more. I really loved this story (and Divergent, too!). Susan did a fabulous job!! :-)

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    1. Shannon, I want Open Minds to get just as many readers as Divergent!

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  19. I'm going to read this book. Thanks for reminding me to check it out.

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    1. Michael, I'm glad you're going to read Open Minds. I hope you like it. Let me know!

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  20. I'd feel bad about giving a bad review because I know so much is down to personal taste - I prefer to say if I liked it (or not) rather than saying it's good or bad.

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    1. Patsy, that is true. Every book out there has readers who didn't like it. But on places like Goodreads, I can find reviewers who have the same tastes in books that I do. It helps me avoid reading chapter 1 and thinking it's amazing only to find out the rest of the book didn't measure up. And when I've had problems with a book, I like finding other readers who felt the same way. When I ignore the 5 star reviews and see where people had problems, they tend to be the same problems.

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  21. Very good review, and the book looks interesting too. I think the idea of a teenage character with mind control abilities is intriguing, especially because I haven't really seen that kind of thing written about before.
    As far as reviews go, I do read them, but I also often read the book even if it gets a bad review, just so I can see for myself what it's like. On the other hand, if I go on Amazon to browse and see a book with several bad reviews in a row, that's obviously a sign.

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    1. Neurotic Workaholic, I agree with you. I don't read a book that has bad reviews, but if there are a bunch of there's some glaring thing that everyone is complaining about, I'll pass.

      I also thought it was a different kind of story.

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  22. I keep seeing good reviews for Open Minds. I went ahead and purchased it. Thanks for the download link.

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    1. Medeia, you're welcome. I hope you enjoy it. I'll look for your review on your blog.

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  23. Wow, five stars! Now that is saying a lot! Appreciate the info and your candor about your review process and policy.

    Have a great weekend!

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  24. Karen, thanks. I want people to know it's not an inflated rating.

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  25. Totally agree! It's definitely 5-star worthy. A great read!

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    1. Talli, glad to hear from another person who has read Open Minds. Susan just finished the rough draft of the 2nd book. I can't wait to read it!

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  26. I am going to put it on my tbr list!
    Reviews are a tricky thing, I have to keep in mind that for the most part it's all a matter of taste.

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    1. Coleen, I agree reviews are subjective. I'm glad they've been democratized at places like Amazon and Goodreads so we can find more reviews.

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  27. Love that quote by terry pratchett. Thanks for this review, Theresa. I'll have to add one more book to my ever expanding TBR list.!

    Happy weekend!
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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    1. Nutschell, my pile is ever expanding as well. Hard not to keep adding with all these good books out there!

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  28. I've seen this one around. Looks like I'm going to have to check it out. :)

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  29. Sarah, download the first chapter and see what you think.

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  30. Excellent review! I love this book and like to see it get publicity and good reviews. Glad you liked it. :)

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  31. Carol, it's good to see word get out. Someone commented on my review on Goodreads and said it motivated her to buy it.

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  32. A LOT of people seem to love this book. It sounds awesome!

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  33. I read about this book someplace else the other day. I'd say it's off to a good start. I love the cover.

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  34. Carol, I think Susan is off to a good start too. She certainly figured out to get a lot of well-deserved buzz.

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  35. I'm not really into dystopia but I'll keep an "open mind." :) Have a nice weekend.

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    1. LR, her last book was contemporary fiction, which I tend not read compared with book that have paranormal elements. So this one was better for me.

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  36. This book is so dang AWESOME! I love Sue and she writes so WELL! What a great review, girlfriend. (Shake my head at all those 5's on Goodreads too) *wink*

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    1. Robyn, I've noticed on Goodreads that nearly every book on the planet has a range from about 3.7 to 4.3 once those friends aren't the only reviewers.

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  37. thanks for the review! this moves up on my tbr list

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    1. Tara, I hope you enjoy it when you get Open Minds and read it.

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    1. Jemi I'm glad it's had so many readers already!

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  39. It's reviews like yours that hold a lot more weight than the ones that simply laud everyone. Thanks Theresa. This one is already on my TBR list but it's going much closer to the top now!

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    1. Lydia, I'm glad you trust my review. My TBR pile is huge, so I'm waiting for an excuse to go on a buying spree.

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  40. I thought the book was great, too. I can't wait for the sequel.

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    1. Stina, I can't wait for the sequel either. Susan just finished the rough draft.

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  41. Great review, Theresa. I completely agree with your preface, too. I've got a very long list of friends' books to read...

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  42. Deniz, thank you. My list is longer than my pile of books I haven't read sitting on my shelf. And that's saying something!

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  43. I've read good things about this book on other sites! The premise alone makes me want to read it. Thanks for the honest review. :)

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  44. Janet, I thought it was an original premise too. Glad you liked the review!

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  45. Hey Theresa,

    I'm not a fan of YA, although my opinion *is* changing due to my blogging habits and this review is an example of a book I would never have picked up, so thanks for helping to broaden my horizons :)

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  46. Mark, there are genres I hardly read as well. If you ever want any YA recommendations that fit your interest, let me know.

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  47. I LOVED this book! It is worth all the good reviews and high ratings people are giving it. And it was one of those high-quality self-pubbed books where I thought, this could easily have been published by one of the "big six".

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  48. Rachel, exactly! This was like Divergent. I hope Open MInds keeps selling and eventually makes it onto the NYT Bestseller List.

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  49. Excellent read. I too self published and yes it is very hard to get off the ground.

    Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment. I finally accepted yesterday that all hope on my part is gone hence the poem.
    My son knows where I am .....my door and heart is forever open unlike his.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Yvonne, I could feel your mourning in the poem. I wish you the best.

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  50. Great post. My sentiments exactly! I read and gave Open Minds five stars because the author and book were well deserving. Other times I have not bothered to write a review or finish a book because I didn't have it in me to give a poor review. i do let the author know through an email though.

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    1. Stephen, thanks. I still like books that are 3 stars, but I don't know if the authors do unless they expressly say so. Several authors have said they'd prefer a variety of reviews so readers are more likely to trust them. Better to err on the side of caution.

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  51. I totally agree, Theresa. Reviews are tricky when you're also a writer and in many cases a friend of the person who wrote the book.

    Glad Susan's book was so good you had to give it a super review.

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    1. Cleemckenzie, as I just said to Stephen above, a lot of times I've liked a book, but haven't loved it. I think 3 stars is a solid rating, but I don't want to offend an author I know unless they expressly say they won't be offended.

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  52. Hooray!!! I felt the same way--about her being with a traditional publisher. It's a super story. And the sugar on the top = Susan is such a great person. LOVE her.

    But this book is awesome! I hope she has big success with this one~

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    1. LTM, you're right, Susan is a great person. I wish her success because of who she is + her great book.

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    1. Lbdiamond, I'm glad so many people have read it. I'm preaching to the choir!

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  54. I agree with so much of what you said. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings so I generally only put positive reviews on my blog and on Goodreads. I have such a long list of books to read, that I don't get to things as quickly as I'd like. I read the sample of this and loved it, but I'm currently reading only MG because that's what I'm writing at the moment. I will go back to Open Minds because it deserves to be read. More power to Susan for doing this herself and with such a quality product!

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    1. Vicki, I go through phases of what I read too. My TBR pile is so long, but I was curious. Since I write mostly YA it was totally justified!

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  55. I haven't read it, but I do know what you mean about not wanting to endorse books that are all shadow and no substance.

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    1. JL Campbell, I love how you put it--all shadow and no substance.

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  56. I've read this book and agree it can stand toe-to-toe with any traditional YA book. She did an amazing job and created a product that anyone who is SPing should strive to match! :)

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    1. Angela, all we can do is hope that it catches on and gets as much readership as a traditionally published popular YA book.

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  57. That book is on my TBR list due to all the rave reviews I've been reading. Now that I have a kindle, I find it a lot easier to read blogger buddiess' books! (now to find the time to chip away at that long TBR list!!!)

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    1. Kelly, when you chip away at that list and get to Susan's book, let me know what you think.

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  58. So good to know! I have Susan's book on my Kindle but haven't had a chance to read it yet. Thanks for the review! <3

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    1. Jackee, I hope you enjoy Open Minds. When you get to it, let me know what you think.

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  59. Susan seems every bit as savvy as her character; I'm sure she'll get a lot of sales. I don't read YA normally, but I'm thinking I'll buy this one. I like Susan from her blog, and this review sways me to give it a read.

    .......dhole

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    1. Donna, if you don't normally read YA, this is a good one to pick up.

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  60. It is so hard to trust reviews, but I know I can trust yours.

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    1. Missed Periods, thank you. My feeling is reviews shouldn't be like politics. Just because I write a favorable review, I wouldn't expect the same from Susan for me. That is, if someday I have a whole book to myself that people can actually buy.

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  61. Thanks for the review of Susan's book. I have it on my Kindle but have still yet to read it!

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    1. JC, when you get to Open Minds, let me know what you think.

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  62. Your thoughts on publishing really put things into perspective. Nice. Anyway, with a review like that, I'm really looking forward to reading Susan's book, too.

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    1. Samantha, thank you. It would be nice if nobody felt burned by a book they've bought because of fake praise, right?

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  63. The sample is on my e-reader too. I've heard many great things and she is a great lady, so WIN WIN!

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  64. Thanks for the review, Theresa! I haven't read this one yet, but I've heard a lot about it and it sounds fantastic.

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    1. Susan, the book was as good as the hook. Sadly, that doesn't always happen.

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  65. Great review, Theresa. I agree that Open Minds deserves a great review. I would have given it a six-star rating if I could. I can't wait for the next two books in this trilogy to come out. I think word of mouth is going to make this a best seller.

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    1. LynNerdKelley, I'm happy you're so enthusiastic about the book.

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  66. Hi Theresa! I wanted to let you know that I shared your story today in my parenting post. The pic of Little Theresa is a big hit! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us!

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    1. LynNerdKelley, thanks so much for sharing my story. I shared it on Facebook. I'll send more people when I have a general post up next week.

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  67. I read the first chapter and was hooked too!!! It's on my list to read next. I am SOOOOOOO thrilled for Susan and I agree, my only disappointment is that she doesn't have big backing to get a display up in Walmart and other big stores. But we are her backing and word of mouth will get it done.

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  68. Margo, yes, we can use our word of mouth and boost her book sales and hope Open Minds gets the attention it deserves.

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  69. This book may not be in the bookstores but it sounds like word is getting around about its awesomeness! That's great you loved it.

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  70. Jennifer, I'm glad word is getting around and hope it keeps translating into book sales.

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  71. I LOVED that book! And I'm happy to see it getting recognized!

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  72. Terry, everyone who had read the book is positive about it. Great to hear!

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