What to Know About Military Honors

Veterans Day: In honor of my Dad who was part of the World War II D-Day invasion.

Thank you, Veterans, for your service and sacrifices.

I honor you and the active duty personnel (and all first responders too) who are serving as I write this.

Once, long ago, just about everyone in the United States had a relative or friend who served in the military.

I don't think that's true now. Perhaps it's because our armed forces are now made up entirely of volunteers.

Not very many people are familiar with the various awards bestowed upon members of the armed forces. Sure, everyone's heard of the Purple Heart and the Medal of Honor, but do you know why they're given? How often their give? What the criteria are for a person to receive one of these or any of the several other medals? I hope this post will enlighten.

What is the highest honor awarded for bravery to a member of the military?

Congressional Medal of Honor
The Congressional Medal of Honor.

There are 3 versions: Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines. Most often, it's given posthumously.

There are 71 living recipients of this award for bravery above and beyond.

A few months ago, President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Honor to David Bellavia, the first living Iraq War recipient.

What are the top military medals awarded?

The Purple Heart is probably best known and is awarded to soldiers who are wounded during battle.

For the United States Army, the Distinguished Service Cross is awarded for extreme acts of heroism for soldiers who act valiantly but don’t quite earn a Medal of Honor.

The Navy Cross is the honor most likely to have been awarded to servicemen present during the Pearl Harbor attack and is identical to the Distinguished Service Cross and carries the same eligibility criteria.

Like the Navy Cross, the Air Force Distinguished Service Cross has the same requirements.

The Silver Star, the third-highest honor awarded to military personnel, is presented to a member of the United States military who exhibits a level of bravery not meeting the criteria for a Medal of Honor or Service Cross.

Who can be buried with full military honors?

Those who are eligible for military funerals and full honors in the United States include: Active duty or Selected Reserve in the U. S. Armed Forces and former active duty or Selected Reserve who departed under conditions other than dishonorable in the U. S. Armed Forces.

What is a 21-gun salute?

At most military funerals, many mistake a 21-gun salute for the 3 volleys fired from their rifles by an honor guard team. The origin of this is from traditional battle ceasefires where each side would clear the dead. The firing of three volleys indicate the dead were cleared and properly cared for.

Who receives a flag at a military funeral?

A U.S. flag is provided, at no cost, to drape over the casket or to accompany the urn of a deceased veteran who served honorably in the military. The flag is given to the next-of-kin after its use during the funeral service.

Who should salute during a military funeral?

Only those who are in the military or are are veterans of the military salute. Civilians do not, but it is proper to place your hat or your hand over your heart during those times.

To view these medals and learn more about them, visit Military Awards for Valor.

Takeaway Truth

We owe our freedom to those who guard it and protect us.

Review: Spitfire

Spitfire, The Plane That Saved the World, is a 2018 documentary, made in commemoration of the Royal Air Force's centenary. It's an amazing history of the Spitfire airplane and the fighter pilots who helped win World War II's Battle of Britain.

Directed by David Fairhead and Anthony Palmer with Music composed by Chris Roe, the Cinematography by John Collins is breathtaking.

Darling Hubby and I once owned our own plane so anything about planes and flying appeals to us, but this documentary is stirring and emotional.

You truly grasp the importance of the contribution made by the outnumbered pilots who flew the Spitfire.

Outnumbered and outgunned by the Nazi air fleet, the pilots of the Spitfire managed to save England.

Charles Dance, most recently known for his role as Tywin Lannister in HBO's Game of Thrones, narrated the documentary.

(Executive Producers were Keith Haviland, Trevor Beattie, Christian Eisenbeiss, Mark Stewart, and Patrick Mills.

Of particular interest in the documentary is Mary Ellis who was a woman pilot in WWII. Like her counterparts in the U.S.A. during WWII, she wasn't allowed to fly combat missions.

Instead Ms. Ellis and all the other women pilots who served during the Second World War, flew the planes from factories to air bases or ferried them as needed from base to base.

Now 100 years old and in good health, Ms. Ellis told of signing her name on the last Spitfire she flew from the factory, just on a whim.

Her signature can still be seen on that plane, one of three that is still flown. The pilot in the documentary asked her to sign it again on camera, and she did.

This documentary is the best kind of history lesson. With actual newsreel footage from the era, the story is told in such a dramatic and personal way that it's gripping and compelling.

We watched Spitfire on Amazon Prime since it was a new release. If you're not a subscriber, you can rent it from Amazon. It's certainly worth the time, and it costs less than a dollar.

Takeaway Truth

The film is exciting and character-driven as much as it is a history of a remarkable aircraft. Definitely watch it. You'll be amazed at the plane, and the men and women who won the Battle of Britain.

Thursday3Some: 3 Ways to Protect Your Vision

Image by skeeze,  from Pixabay
Today I had an eye exam. My vision is of the utmost importance to me—just as yours is to you, I'm sure.

Because the leading causes of blindness and low vision are age-related diseases such as macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, I thought I'd pass along 3 tips about protecting your vision as you age.

Unfortunately, most of us tend to ignore our health, including our vision, and don't take note of subtle signals that something is wrong or different.

1. The very first thing you should do is know your family's health history.

Does anyone in your family suffer from diabetes, artery diseases, or have a history of high blood pressure? If so, then that increases your risk for vision problems. Be sure to have regular physical exams for diabetes and high blood pressure as well as an annual vision exam.

Untreated, diabetes and high blood pressure can lead to vision loss from diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and eye strokes which occur when arteries or veins in the retina are blocked. Eye strokes cause vision loss. The severity of the loss depends on the extent and location of the blockages and loss of blood flow. Your eye also may suffer damage when vital structures such as the retina and optic nerve are cut off from nutrients and oxygen flowing through your blood.

2. Always look for warning signs of changes in your vision.

If you notice changes in your vision, like double vision, hazy vision, or difficulty seeing in low light conditions, contact your eye doctor.

Safety goggles
There are other eye conditions that have the potential to develop into serious eye problems, such as red eyes, flashes of light, "floaters," eye pain, and swelling.

3. Practice the same good health habits that benefit your entire body.

Always wear Safety Goggles like the ones shown at right, fit over prescription glasses, and they're not expensive. Make wearing safety goggles a practice when working with tools or chemicals.

Don't smoke. It's bad for so many aspects of your health including your eyes.

Eat a diet high in vegetables, fruits, antioxidants, and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids benefit your eyes too.

Exercise frequently, like brisk walking, and wear sunglasses with UV filters.

Safety Glasses
If you target shoot, eye protection for the gun range is also affordable. No legitimate gun range will allow you to target shoot without safety glasses. Darling Hubby and I have the Safety Glasses shown at left.

It's better to have your own safety glasses than to wear the ones provided by the range because they don't fit that well, they're dirty, and heaven knows how many germs are on them. *LOL*

Takeaway Truth

Do all you can to protect your vision.

Don't Trust Cell Phone Calller ID

Did you know there are apps like (I'm not going to name them) for iPhone and Android that allow a user to fake their cell phone identity?

Even worse, these apps  are sold on the Apple and Android app stores.

Unbelievable? Yes, but it's true. These apps were created for legitimate uses such as police shielding their identity or a salesman for a national company who wants to appear locally-based.

Of course, crooks grabbed hold of this immediately. It works like this. You download the app, enter the number you want to call then put in the number you want to appear on the recipient's caller ID. That fake number could be someone's bank, a credit card company, the IRS, Medicare, or any number that might seem legit.

The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 makes it legal to spoof caller ID unless the intent is to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value. Proving that is as difficult as you can imagine.


Beware of any phone call you receive that claims to be a company you might do business with. Never give any information to anyone who calls even if the Caller ID is a name you recognize. Tell them you'll call back then do so with a number you obtain from the back of your credit card or a number you know is correct.

Takeaway Truth

There are more fakes, scams, and crooks out there than you can possibly imagine. Beware and take care.

Time Travel: Aqua Net

Empty Can for Purchase
Last night at dinner, Darling Hubby and I found were listening to Pandora. A Dusty Springfield song was playing, and the album cover was shown. Hubby said, "How much hairspray do you think was used on her hairstyle?"

I laughed. "They probably used Aqua Net so it wouldn't take much at all."

Hubby told me about his first job as a teenager. He worked at a grocery store where the old mechanical price-stamping tool was used. He said if a price of a product changed, they would just spray Aqua Net on the old inked price and use a rag to wipe off the ink then re-stamp it.

I laughed, but that made me wonder who and how hairspray was invented. I thought it had been invented to replace the hairnets food workers were required to wear.

Curiosity aroused, I looked it up. I was wrong!

History Lesson: Hairspray

During the 1940's, the aerosol process and an aerosol spray can received patents. During WWII, the aerosol cans were used as a dispenser insecticides.

After the war, the beauty industry saw the potential for using an aerosol can to dispense a fixative spray to keep hair in place. The first to package a product which was a sticky, hard, resin-based spray, was Chase Products in 1948.

Two years later, Helene Curtis labeled an aerosol product for hair as "hair spray," and their product, Spray Net, became enormously successful.

Aqua Net came along in the 1950s, but I couldn't pin down the actual date. However, by the 1960s, Aqua Net was a staple on every girl and woman's vanity.

With the long hair trend of the 1970s, the popularity of Aqua Net waned but saw a resurgence with the big hair trend of the 1980s.

By then, Aqua Net was owned by Fabergé who sold it to Unilever in 1989. From then to 1992,  Aqua Net was involved in a product safety lawsuit, Nowak v. Faberge USA, that ended up legal textbooks.

In 2006, Unilever sold Aqua Net to Lornamead, Inc. which started a rebranding campaign that referenced the product's history and changed the design to resemble the original.

Other Uses for Aqua Net

Besides the use my husband related, Aqua Net has been used in other ways, such as:
  • a fixative in microbiology, in staining procedures
  • a fixative for charcoal or pastel artworks
  • to reduce slippage of pointe shoe ribbons for ballerinas
  • as a solvent for un-gluing hair extensions
  • as a stain remover for makeup
  • as an insect killer
  • as a propellant in potato cannons
  • for increasing print adhesion in 3D Printing.
Takeaway Truth

Even though Aqua Net is still sold, it doesn't hit the most popular lists. Still, there are women who love it and won't use anything else. Brand loyalty triumphs.

Women who love it, swear by it. It's labeled weather-proof without clumping or leaving flakes in your hair. In fact, you can buy Aqua Net from Amazon.

(Joan is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.)

Monday Magic: How to Use iPhone Voice Memos App

Recently I decided to make use of the odd moments here and there throughout the day by recording ideas for my work in progress.

Once upon a time, I carried a hand-held recorder for this purpose. That's pretty much obsolete now.

Instead, I decided to use a cell phone app for this. Naturally, I wondered what the best iPhone app was.

Turns out, the Voice Memos app that comes with an iPhone is actually one of the best to use. You can record voice memos on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. You can also edit your recording and even share it too.

The Voice Memos app uses the built-in microphone on your cell phone or other device to record. For my purpose, that's just fine. If you want a higher-quality stereo recording, you can use an external stereo microphone.

I was actually amazed at how useful this app became when I started using it. Now, when I think of a task that must be done, a birthday card that must be sent, or an item to add to the grocery list, I just make a Voice Memo.

iPhone's Voice Memos Icon
How To Record Using iPhone Voice Memos App
  1. Open the Voice Memos app or ask Siri to open it.
  2. To record, tap or click the red circle record button. To stop, tap the stop button.
  3. When you tap the stop button, your memo is saved automatically with your current location if you have that selected in Settings. If that's disable, it titles it as New Recording 1, etc.
All recorded memos are available on every device that's signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID. Just turn on Voice Memos in the iCloud settings of each device.

After you record a voice memo, you can edit it.

How to Edit a Voice Memo Recording

After you record a voice memo, it's easy to replace a section, trim the recording, or delete part of it.

To Replace a Section of a Voice Memo
  1. Tap the memo that you want to edit. Tap the icon with three blue dots, then tap Edit Recording.
  2. Swipe the waveform left or right until the blue playhead is positioned at the beginning of the part that you want to replace.
  3. Tap Replace to re-record over the existing memo.
  4. Tap the pause button when you finish recording.
  5. Tap Done to save.
Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay_Pexels.jpg
To Trim From Beginning or End of a Memo
  1. Tap the memo that you want to trim.
  2. Tap the icon with three blue dots, then tap Edit Recording.
  3. Tap. Yellow handles with arrows appear on each end of the memo in the lower recording graph.
  4. To trim from the beginning, drag the yellow arrow on the left to where you want the memo to begin.
  5. To trim from the end, drag the yellow arrow on the right to where you want the memo to end.
  6. Tap Trim.
  7. Tap Save.
  8. If you're finished editing the memo, tap Done.
To Delete Part of a Memo
  1. Tap the memo that you want to trim.
  2. Tap the icon with three blue dots, then tap Edit Recording.
  3. Tap. Yellow handles with arrows appear on each end of the memo in the lower recording graph.
  4. Drag the left and right yellow arrows so that they surround the part of the memo that you want to delete.
  5. Tap Delete.
  6. Tap Save.
  7. If you're finished editing the memo, tap Done.
Share a Voice Memo

If you'd like to share your voice memo with a friend or save it to a second location, do this.
  1. Tap a memo in the list.
  2. Tap the icon with three blue dots.
  3. Then tap Share.
  4. Choose a way to share, such as Messages or a social media app. Or save your memo to another location with an option like iCloud Drive or Mail.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
To Delete a Voice Memo
  1. Tap or click to select the memo that you want to delete.
  2. Tap the Trash Can icon.
Takeaway Truth

If you have an iPhone, use this handy app. You may be amazed at how useful it is.

Best Epitaphs Ever

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

I've been thinking of epitaphs lately. Weird, huh?

People don't seem to write epitaphs on their tombstones much it seems. Just name, dates, and maybe "Beloved Mother" or something similar.

I have a book of famous last lines and thought I'd share a few with you.

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield got the last laugh. "There goes the neighborhood."

Mathematician Ludolph van Ceulen was the first person to calculate the value of pi to 35 decimal places. So, it’s fitting that he would request it to be inscribed on his tombstone. His epitaph is pi to 36 places, "3.14159265358979323846264338327950288."

Outlaw Jesse James, famous for his bank robbery sprees including one that led to a $10,000 reward for his capture, was shot in the back of the head on April 3, 1882. Jesse James was unarmed and adjusting a picture hanging on his wall. The killer, Bob Ford, and his brother, Charley, were pardoned for killing Jesse James. However, the public viewed them as cowards as did the outlaw's mother who composed the epitaph on his tombstone. "Murdered by a traitor and coward whose name is not worthy to appear here."

Actress Bette Davis fought her way up in an industry, step by step. Her epitaph? "She did it the hard way."

Billy Wilder, a writer, filmmaker, producer, and artist, went with a chuckle, "I'm a writer, but then, nobody's perfect."

Old West gunfighter Robert Clay Allison who killed quite a few men has his philosphy on his tombstone. "He never killed a man that did not need killing."

William Shakespeare has this inscribed on his tomb, "Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare / To dig the dust enclosed here. /
Blessed be the man that spares these stones, /And cursed be he that moves my bones."

Pulitzer prize winning author Studs Terkel: "Curiosity did not kill this cat."

Cowboy Russell Larsen wrote his own. "Two things I love most,good horses and beautiful women. And when I die, I hope they tan this old hide of mine and make it into a ladies riding saddle, so I can rest in peace between the two things I love most."

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay
Ordinary P With Extraordinary Epitaphs

Droll: "I told you I was sick."

Funny: "Here lies an atheist. All dressed up with no place to go." Also, for John Yeast: "Here lies JOHN YEAST. Pardon me for not rising."

Wry: "Damn, it’s dark down here."

Sweet: "I will sleep in peace until you come to me."

Romantic: "I’ll see you on the other side of the stars."

Takeaway Truth

Mel Blanc voiced the most famous cartoon characters in history, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig. His epitaph? "That's all, folks."

Review: When You're the Only Cop in Town

https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-6_PH-cCxVE4/WlFLMez-pyI/AAAAAAAAM7Q/EPEWtfba16M1zM3Rit91NLD5vRMdFww6ACLcBGAs/s200/SW_Review_Desk-Collage.jpgI write a couple of series that feature a small town cop as hero. The first of these was Last Christmas, Book 1 of Small Town Texas Romance.

The most recent is Stuck on the Naughty List, Book 1 of Capitola Palace Dance Hall.

My nephew was a cop in a small town so I have a special fondness for these intrepid heroes behind the badge.

After conversations with my newphew and copious online research online about the difficulties and advantages of being a small town law enforcement officer, I read a couple of books on the subject too.

My favorite book on the subject was When You're the Only Cop in Town by Jack Berry and Debra Dixon.

Many of you may be familiar with the name Debra Dixon. She's a popular romance/women's fiction author, the publisher of Bell BridgeBooks, and the author of several nonfiction books too.

From the Product Description

An indispensable guide to facts, procedures, and the how-to’s of small town law enforcement by Jack Berry whose law enforcement spanned 30 years from a Deputy in a big city county to the last 17 years as the chief of police in a small town. He also happens to be the father of Debra Dixon, author of GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict.

Enjoy a writer’s feast of the funny, the odd, and he mundane. Find out what you need to know and what it’s really like on the mean streets of Small Town, U.S.A.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51X56io1gUL.jpgMy Opinion

The book is factual and great entertainment. I've hung out with sheriff's deputies and big city cops, and the war stories they tell run the gamut from day to day boredom to the weird to the hysterically funny. Every day is a different day.

This book is like sitting down with a cop and listening to him tell what it's like with umpteen bosses from the mayor to the city council to the citizens. Chief Berry reveals his secrets of holding a firm line and still being likable by most of the people in town. In fact, I'd say his calling was to be a policeman and serve a community. His life is a perfect example of what a cop should be.

Police academies would do well to make this book required reading for recruits so they'd know being human and using common sense and good judgment are just as important--maybe more important-- as strapping on a gun and making everyone conform to the letter of the law.

The book was so enjoyable I found myself reading passages aloud to my husband who eventually took the book from me and read it all before handing it back to me.

Excellent book from the standpoint of information and the readability. Get it!

Takeaway Truth

If you want a feel for what it's like to police a small town, even with constantly changing technology, read When You're the Only Cop in Town by Jack Berry and Debra Dixon. You'll enjoy the heck out of it, and learn a lot too.

How to Write an Online Book Review

I loved that book, but how do I review it?
Authors are always saying to readers, "If you like a book, please leave a short review."

We say this and ask for reviews because they're very important to an author's career. Good reviews help others find our books.

Many readers would like to do this, especially when they love a book, but, like the reader in the picture at left, they may not know what to say and/or how to say it.

Not to worry. I'm here to help. That's why I post this how-to review blog every quarter. I want to help those who are just venturing into review territory.

I want to remove the anxiety and the fear factor from the process. Trust me. Just read this, and you'll be able to post reviews like a pro. Feel free to pass this post link on to others.

Reviewing: a Learned Skill

Writing a book review is a learned skill, and it's really quite easy to learn.

Most people think writing a review is the same as writing a book report they may have been forced to do in elementary school.  Nope. Not even close.

Some may think it's like the traditional reviews they read in the NY Times book section or in magazines. Wrong again.

The online book review is like having a conversation with your best friend about a book you just read. They're completely different from...

Traditional Reviews

In the past, the formal book review was required by any serious book reviewer. The formal review usually followed this protocol:

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Name; 1st edition (date)
ISBN: number
Book Size: Format, i.e., Trade Paperback

The Review itself (usually a page or two telling the salient points of the book's plot, the theme, the characters, and then a discussion of what the book got right and what it lacked)

You'll still see formal book reviews, but the review most people are familiar with in today's world is the reader review or user review as seen online.

Let's face it, the world is a lot less formal. Most formalities seem to have gone the way of daily milk delivery and newspaper subscriptions.

Today's Reader Reviews

Many reader and/or user reviews are thoughtful and helpful. Unfortunately, many are like snarky cocktail party chatter. Some are so downright mean you think all the Mean Girls of the world got together for a party.

I think there are many reasons why readers shun the review process. Here are a few that might apply:
  • they liked the book but they are aware of the nastiness that some reader reviewers heap on those with dissenting opinions
  • they did not like the book but the author has a huge following and they're afraid loyal supporters will subject them to some of the same nastiness
  • they don't want to hurt the author's feelings
  • they don't know what to say
  • they don't know how to say it and they're concerned they don't have the necessary writing skills
I'm sure there are many other reasons, but I think the above are the most obvious. At least, I get emails from readers who love my books, but they never post a review even when I ask them to leave a few sentences about their reading experience.

This post is for the average book-loving reader:
  • who is new to the review process
  • who may not know exactly what to say or how to say it
  • who is wary of attacks from readers with different opinions
  • who don't see why they should take time to do this.

How To Say What You Think

If your friend next door dropped by to visit you and saw a book, she'd probably ask: "What do you think of that book?"

You'd answer by telling her briefly what the book was about and what you liked about it or didn't like.

That's exactly what you should do in an online reader review.

In a friendly conversational style, as if you were telling a friend about it, write what you liked and what you didn't like.

Step by Step Book Review

1. Make notes.

In a computer document—MS Word, WordPerfect, or whatever is your preference— answer these questions. What was the book about? Did the story pull you in immediately or was it a slow build? Did you like the main characters? Were they people you'd like to know? Did it end in a satisfying way? What was your emotional response at the end of the book? Would you read something else written by that author?

You don't need to summarize the book. That's already been done in the Product Description on the book's webpage. If you feel you must give a synopsis, use the gist of the Product Description.

2. Read over what you wrote.

Keep it simply. Does it convey what you really felt about the book? Is it in an easy conversational style as if you were telling a friend about the book?

3. Check for grammar.

If you wrote it in one of the most common document apps, it's easy to spell check and grammar check.

4. Open a tab in your browser and navigate to the book's webpage.

For example, if you bought the book on Amazon, go to the Amazon page for the book.

5. Copy and paste your review.

Once on the book's Amazon webpage, go back to your document and copy it. Then back to the book's webpage, scroll down until you see Write a Customer Review. Click that. When the form opens, paste your review into the space allotted.

When you're finished, you always have the chance to preview what you wrote in case you'd like to change something.

Points to Remember

1. Give it the number of stars that reflect how you felt. I've read reviews that raved about a book, but the reviewer gave it only 3 stars. 3 = average.

A sentence or two about why you liked the book is always good. What about it appealed to you?

Example: If you were posting a review of Gone With the Wind, you might say: "I liked this novel because it's set on a plantation in Georgia as the North and South are on the brink of war, and I love books set during the Civil War."

Or, you might say: "The heroine of this book is Scarlett O'Hara, a spoiled, headstrong young woman, and I like the kind of conflict created by women like that." Or, you might say: "I like to read anything that is historically based and well-researched."

If you didn't like the book, say so. Then explain why.

Example using the same book: "I didn't care for this book because I could not identify with the arrogant woman who manipulated and used everyone around her." Or, "I don't like books set in that historical era, and I abhor unrealistic books about slavery."

That's a fair statement because it explains why you didn't like it, but at the same time, your review doesn't personally attack the author or demean him or her for having created such a character/book.

2. Never include “spoilers,” elements of the book that are to be surprises. Chances are the author worked hard to keep something secret until near the end. Don't spoil her efforts by revealing those secrets.

3. Your review should be about the book as it is written, not about how you think it should have been written.

4. Do not allow your personal prejudices or attitudes about the author, the premise of the book, the theme of the book, the manner in which it was published, or anything else not related to the writing to intrude in your review.

If you normally do not read romance, but you received a free romance novel, and you didn't like it because it had sex scenes in it or whatever, then do not review it. A review should not reflect your personal likes and dislikes. Make it a policy to review books that reflect your reading taste.

Please don't ever make personal remarks about the author, i.e. anyone would have to be a moron to write a book like this. Or, the author must be a pervert to write sex stuff like this.

5. Summarize your thoughts about the book and feel free to make recommendations such as, "if you like southern humor, you'll love this book."

6. Always be respectful of the author and his or her time and effort. This doesn't mean suppress your true opinion.

It does mean to present your opinion in a respectful, professional manner as if you were talking in person to the author.

Why? Because no author sets out to write a bad book. Sometimes all the elements just don't come together. Besides, what you dislike may be what another reader adores.

7. Give other readers a chance to make up their minds for themselves.

Example: "While this book was well-researched and smoothly written, it just wasn't my cup of tea, but someone who loves brash heroines would probably find it compelling."

To paraphrase what Danielle Steele once said about reviews: "Writing a book, getting it published, and getting bad reviews is like making a beautiful cake and someone comes along and sits on it."

Be diplomatic and kind in your review even if you did not like the book. That's probably how you would be if you were talking to the author in person.

Always Take The High Road

If you post reviews, and someone makes a comment on it, for instance, This person is an idiot if he thinks this is a good book. (Or a bad book.) Don't answer back.

You are not required to defend your opinion or to answer any detractors. You have the right to your opinion and the right to state it publicly.

For every person who disagrees with you, there is at least one (probably a lot more) who will agree.

A fight can't start without 2 combatants so simply ignore any negative comments.

What Authors Think

Believe it or not, writers try to learn from their reviews. If a thoughtful review mentions something the author is doing particularly well, she'll do more of it. Good reviews boost an author during the long process of writing another book.

If it mentions something the author failed at, she'll try to improve. Bad reviews may bring her down, but if they contain some insight, then they too are valuable.

Be responsible. Be objective. Be polite.

I think a lot of the acid-tinged reviews I see wouldn't be posted if someone had to say all that to the author's face and/or would have to sign their real name to the review.

Takeaway Truth

Please keep in mind that no one ever sets out to write a bad book. Authors know that not everyone will like their "baby," but they expect literary criticism to be handled in an objective, friendly way.