Tag Archives: Goodreads

Mike O’Mary’s The Note Is a Gift | A Review

by: Mike O’Mary
Published: January 1, 2011
Publisher: Dream of Things
Genre: Gift Book
Source: Purchased


Named Best Gift Book of 2011 in the Living Now Book Awards, The Note is a story about the power of appreciation and how a simple note can change a person’s life. At the center of the story is a simple note of appreciation. The story behind that note will break your heart, but by the time you finish reading, your heart will be mended and filled with warmth. The book also includes insight into the importance of showing appreciation, and step-by-step advice on Writing a Heartfelt Note. The powerful and ultimately uplifting message of The Note is that a simple note of appreciation can change a person s life and create positive feelings that ripple outwards and touch an ever-expanding circle of people including all who read this book.

Praise for The Note:

“This is a touching book. After reading it, you feel compelled to pick up pen and paper and really say thank you to someone. At times it’s difficult to put your thoughts on paper, and the author does a great job of breaking it down step-by-step to make you feel less self-conscious while doing so.” –The Sunday Book Review, May 28, 2011

“What a beautiful book! This book inspires you to reach out the old-fashioned way to everyone who has made a difference in your life! It has a place on the bedside table of my guest room.” –Patricia Pickett, Goodreads.com, Nov. 14, 2011

(Synopsis and Praise from Goodreads)

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My Thoughts:

Writing letters and notes has long been a favorite pastime of mine. When I came across The Note, I had to pick it up and read it.

Consisting of only 88 pages The Note is a quick read. Yet in those 88 pages O’Mary shares a story with enormous impact. One so powerful it makes you stop, take stock and think.

A note sent to O’Mary at Christmas one year by his younger sister in which she shares a memory with him becomes the catalyst for The Note. This little book falls into the genre, “gift book.” In and of itself, it is a gift from O’Mary to whomever reads it.

Encouraging the reader to share with others appreciation, gratitude and even love in handwritten notes or your method of choice, O’Mary shows us ways to let people know our feelings. It’s that simple. A word of appreciation, a note of thanks can be life-changing for someone. It was for Mike O’Mary.

If you’ve never been a letter or note writer, O’Mary walks you through how it’s done. Give yourself a gift — read The Note.

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My Recommendation: For everyone,  young and old, male and female, as a gift or for yourself. This could be the difference in how we all relate to each other.

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Meet the Author: 

Mike O'Mary via Goodreads

Mike O’Mary via Goodreads

Mike O’Mary is founder of Dream of Things, which publishes memoirs, anthologies of creative nonfiction, and other books. Mike is series editor for Dream of Things anthologies, including Be There Now, a collection of travel stories from around the world, and Saying Goodbye, an anthology of true stories about how we say goodbye to the people, places and things in our lives.

Mike is also author of The Note and Wise Men and Other Stories, and he has published stories and essays in the Sunday magazines of the Chicago Tribune, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, Baltimore Sun, Cleveland Plain Dealer and Detroit Free Press, and he was a regular commentator on WNIJ – Northern Illinois Public Radio, doing weekly commentaries as part of the local segment of National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” program. He has also written and produced sketch comedy in Chicago.

Mike is a graduate of Knox College (BA in Economics and English-Writing), the University of Montana (MFA in Creative Writing, MA in English Literature), and the Second City Comedy Writing Program. In addition to his creative work, Mike has more than 20 years of experience in corporate communications, producing speeches, annual reports and other executive communications for many leading corporations.

(Source for image and bio via Goodreads)

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How to Review a Book in Eight Easy Steps

Today I’m over at Kathy Pooler’s blog, Memoir Writer’s Journey. Kathy asked me to share with her readers, and mine, what process I follow when reviewing a book. Writing this post didn’t come as easily as reviewing a book does, but I now have down just what I do when I review a book, no matter the genre. So, here goes!


“A good, sympathetic review is always a wonderful surprise.”
Joyce Carol Oates

Loving books and reading them has been a part of who I am since childhood. The only thing that has changed is that now I review books.

When Kathy invited me to talk about how to review a book, I mentally stopped in my tracks. 

How does one explain the process of reviewing a book?

There are many online sites where you can review books — on a blog, at Amazon, Goodreads and other book outlets.

Recently, author Jody Hedlund shared some “creative” reviews of her book, Noble Groom. Take time to look at these — they are interesting and unique. Although I tend to stick to standard reviews, you may find something that is a perfect fit with your blog or a book you’re reading. And one day I may step outside the box. For today, however, I’ll just stick with explaining my standard method.

Come on over to Kathy’s blog to read the rest . . .

Demolishing Ratings and Recommendations

booksBooks are paper bound together by covers
of a variety of materials and images.

Until the review is written . . . and then
the reviewer is expected to “rate” the book by choosing
a certain number of stars.

And thus begins my tale of confusion and woe.

When I set about to segregate my book reviews into a single blog, I began to think about the ways in which Amazon, Goodreads, and other bookish sites want to manipulate reading choices by the use of stars (numbering 1-5) and then providing recommendations for our family, friends and neighbors.

So, I decided to do the same.  I hate it when first I’ve behaved like a copycat, and then it did not work!

Soon I become uncomfortable with deciding which 5-star rating scale to work with.  If I wanted to cross-post a review on my blog to either Amazon or Goodreads, or both, which rating scale was I going to use?  Have you noticed they are NOT the SAME???

Let me share a quick comparison:

  • Amazon’s 5-star rating system, with one being the lowest rating, takes you from I hate it to “I love it” with the other three stars somewhere in the middle; and
  • Goodread’s equal in number system, with the same number being lowest, ranks books from “did not like it to “it was amazing” with an equal number caught in the middle.

Now, I ask you how does this help the person reading the review?  Likely, they have their own translation of the stars system, or they ignore it.

But before I pull the plug and demolish use of stars, ratings and recommendations, I decided to check out Kirkus Reviews to ascertain what, if any, rating system they use.  A single star rating is all that Kirkus gives — and it ranks a book as one of  “exceptional merit.”

Wanting to be certain all bases were covered, I then a look at Story Circle Network, an organization to which I belong and which has a team of reviewers posting reviews frequently.  AHA!  They don’t use a rating system.  I didn’t think so, and I was right.

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, this blog will no longer rate by anyone’s star system and will not give recommendations to specific groups of readers.  The demolition begins . . . 


Click on images for attributions.

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