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The Official "I've Heard 
it All Before" but I'm trying to 
understand life page

It's not what happens to you, but how you react 
to it that matters. ~Epictetus, Greek Philosopher

Hi, I'm sorry you were angry or upset and I want you to know that your concerns
are valid and may be addressed on this page. Please read this page if you
wish to understand reviewing from the perspective of readers and reviewers. 

If your question or concern has not been addressed on this page, please
check back in a week to see if I have listed your concern.

Yes, I've probably heard it all before in the past few years, 
except, your thoughts are important to me. On this page you can read
the Top Ten Concerns I see people have about reviewing...



If you left a negative comment or wonder what one looks like, this is the page for you. I write responses here because often I get “hit and run” e-mails from my site and while I’d enjoy writing back, often the person writing does not allow such a pleasure and neglects to leave me an e-mail address. (This changed in 2008 because I put up an email address instead
of a box in which to write the email.)

So, here are the answers I would have sent back if I had the e-mail address of the person who wrote anonymously. A few of the comments were also left on public forums and I have included the comments and my response because I think both have interest value and it is always good to see the positive and negative aspects of any situation…enjoy J  

But first, I would like to present a list of concerns: 


Learning to use anger is no easy task. Yet the alternative - letting anger use us - 
makes us prisoners  of our own minds. Anger is not the enemy, and we're not 
helpless in the face of it.  It is only an energy - one that, with practice, 
we can harness for our good. ~Mark Epstein MD


The Top Ten Concerns Readers/Authors Have About Reviewers

1. Accuracy – Does the reviewer actually read the material and have enough background to be able to analyze the book. Some reviewers are accused of “reading the book jacket” or “not reading the book” or “getting the character's name wrong.” Now with Amazon's new comments feature, readers can correct reviews in live time and reviewers can edit their review if they have made a mistake. 

2. Conflict of Interest – Did the reviewer receive the product for free? Some people don't realize this is quite normal and see it differently. Professional reviewers often get books for free. 

3. Fairness & Honesty – Is the reviewer able to write a review without attacking the author’s character, life choices or content selection?  This is mostly a concern authors express. Is this reviewer getting people to vote for their reviews or voting for themselves (Amazon doesn't allow this)? This is an issue of honesty. 

Readers mostly express this concern because they want to be able to trust the reviews. Most people are fairly good at figuring this out when it occurs and simply go on to read a more trustworthy review. This is a personal decision since it is almost impossible to prove this is occurring, although Amazon monitors and watches this occur. They have removed reviewers from the ranking system when they have discovered this has occurred. 

4. Critical Analysis – Some readers want to read reviews that take an author to task and some want to read a review promoting the content of a book. This is a very personal decision. Critical reviews can be fun to read if you disliked the book or are looking for reasons not to buy the book, although it can also be a reason to buy because negative or critical reviews can create controversy and that tends to sell items pretty fast. 

5. Star Ratings – I don’t enjoy reviewing books that are 1-2 stars as I rarely can make it through the book without becoming angry myself. So, by reviewing things I love, I have made a lifestyle choice.

Wisdom speaks of another path, a much more fulfilling path and one that brings everyone more happiness. Plus, who wants to spend their life reviewing books they don’t enjoy? It is enough of a challenge to find books that are amazing, in the first place! The joy of reading, for me at least, is in finding “those” types of book. Books that either make the world a better place or affect me on a spiritual level and make me think more deeply about my own life. 

Words can be very powerful and the words you put into your mind or repeat can change your world and even create what happens next. You’d be amazed at how powerful books are in this regard when you read a lot of them.

Note: Companies in general are more open to negative comments because it helps them adapt their products and they sell more in the end. They also don't seem to take the comments as seriously on the emotional level because the blame is spread out through the company and doesn't usually address one person in particular. I've seen companies remove products from the Amazon website, change them for the better and adapt to customer comments. This is one of the main reasons I enjoy reviewing more than books, because I see that it does make a difference in the quality of products we buy. 

6.  Specialization – Does the person reviewing the book have the qualifications to review the book in hand. Do they have enough life experience to understand the content or are they simply making judgments based on their own lack of experience. At times people actually complain if you look like you know how to write a review. This is a very tricky area to even step into because personal experience determines how well you write and many people do read books on how to improve their writing.

7. Diversity – Many times people are concerned with this aspect because they don’t think about the “specialization” aspect. A reviewer may only choose to review cookbooks or focus only on novels. For some specializing can also annoy readers and people want to see you as a person with many interests. This is a difficult one to address, but I’ve expanded my interests substantially. I think this is more a concern of authors who want you to review their work, although I’ve had people question me on this subject when they only noticed certain reviews and did not consider looking through a few hundred. It is difficult to see the categories I review because Amazon no longer has the categories and I’ve had to resort listing items in “tag lists” to retain my credibility. :)

But honestly, I review so many things, I think I have too many interests.

8. Reviewing more than Books – This is an idea that at first caused great alarm at the discussion boards. I reviewed a box of Altoid mints and the world ended. Then, people started to review more than just books and even sometimes would listen to music and now and then they felt adventurous and would review something from the kitchen store. While I thought it was great fun to review lots of different things, this did cause a lot of concern for more traditional reviewers.

Now and then, I still see this problem when I get an angry e-mail or comment about something I loved and reviewed. The world is an ever expanding miracle and to me, commenting on a wide variety of items is purely “fun.” So, to insist that I only review one type of book or only focus on music or books is to me very restrictive and that is not a world in which I ever want to live. Believe it or not, I have had to fight for the right to talk about what I love.

9. Taste – A general dislike of someone’s tastes can promote anger. I have seen this expressed in reviews and in comments/e-mails. Generally I assume that if I never like something one person is reviewing, then we have different tastes. That is not a level of “taste,” but more the type of items a person reviews. 

10. Lifestyle Choices – This is a really tricky one because each individual has made choices on how they want to live. This may include religious or moral choices, living situations, sexual preference, limitations in what a person wants to review and has much to do with emotional complexity. 

Sometimes authors will complain if you address a lifestyle choice they have made. Some have said people try to “preach” in the review. I think this is much more of a concern with authors and their right to live their lives in any way they choose. For readers, this can be very enjoyable reading and it does create controversy, conflict and can encourage humor (mostly for the reader, not the author).

So, as you can see, there are many concerns and readers and authors have different concerns.

Reviewing is a balancing act between the reader and author and it is not always easy to please both parties. In the end, you have to please yourself and deal with criticism from both sides.

I hope this has been helpful to you in understanding what a reviewer can go through on a daily basis. This is a lifestyle I have chosen and since I must deal with this all on a daily basis, I’ve made decisions about how I want to live my life.

Addressing negativity is a reality in life. How you address the negativity is essential to your very existence. All too often it is easy to see this conflict in a depressing light, but I feel that trying to remain positive is more healing than being negative. 

When you make a lifestyle choice, you have to also decide how you are going to survive your choice. By deciding to be a positive person, you have taken on an entire world of negativity and that can be overwhelming at first and then beautifully revealing in the end.



Comments that Reveal the Top Ten Concerns

Date Comment was sent: 1/25/2007

Comment: ”I was wondering if you actually have a life?” (Concern 10)

My Answer: As a person in the public eye on a daily basis, I accept e-mails from anyone who wishes to contact me, including those who agree, disagree or seem to question my reality. It is interesting to notice how many people ask me the same questions, which speaks to me of a commonality of perception.

Either people love how I live my life or they think I should become someone else (although they rarely tell me who I should be) and meet some unattainable expectation, of which they don’t reveal.

One of the most recent comments I have been receiving is one that questions whether I have a life.

In my life, short as 42 years can be, I have watched sunsets from beaches in exotic locations like Africa and the Caribbean. Once I almost drowned while swimming in the Cape, at the tip of Africa. It is quite possible that while swimming in African waters I was swimming with sharks although I’ve always been pleased not to have noticed while learning to surf as a child. After living in Africa my parents took us on a trip across American so we could visit friends and relatives. This was an amazing journey and an introduction to many of America’s famous landmarks, with stops in many states. On the way to America we also traveled to Germany, France, Belgium and England. To top it all off, I went back to Germany and France later to travel with a friend from college.

In the more recent past I’ve spent time rafting down rivers in Washington State, skiing, water skiing (although I prefer the former), visiting places in Washington State, like tulip field or mountains and cabins and spas on islands (Whidbey and Orcas).

I’ve savored dinner at the top of the Space Needle as a child and later when I took my nieces out for dinner. I’ve taken ferry rides, shopped in Seattle at the famous Pike Place Market and have taken way too many plane flights between Florida and Washington in this lifetime.

My husband and I enjoy hiking, biking, walking, going away for weekends when he isn’t working and spent our honeymoon in the Caribbean. We enjoy a quiet life of reading and watching movies. He loves golfing and also sometimes spends time working on weekends, which gives me lots of time to read!

In the recent past I’ve worked in a grocery store, tutored at Learning Centers, worked as a part-time nanny in the summer, worked as a personal chef and edited manuscripts for authors who travel the world.

I still find time to do the laundry, clean my own house, cook for my husband, pet the cats, take the cats for walks, exercise, take long baths, shop, go on picnics, and watch lots of movies. I also build my own website and work on a variety of projects, including woodworking, knitting and playful photography that sometimes ends up at my site.

I have since figured out that when someone says you don’t have a life and I try to explain that really I have done most of what I wanted to do in life, how can you impress that type of person? Would jumping into an active volcano and jumping out alive (like Lavagirl) impress them?

Would it help to know that I attained a master’s degree within two summers? That I paid my way through college by cleaning houses and
babysitting, not to mention paying for plane flights to and from my job and college throughout the year.

Would it help to know that I accept books from authors who can’t get reviews from major review publications because they don’t accept
books from self-published authors? I consider this type of activity time well spent because to be honest, a book could change a life. I am very thankful
to all the reviewers who also helped me find books I now consider to be life changing in my own existence.

It is true, I don’t have kids, but does that mean I don’t have a life? You would be amazed at how much time two cats can demand. I also spend time making sure I'm writing people back who have concerns and questions. This takes up time and so, technically, your comments are making me have a more interesting life. 

When you consider what a life really is, what is the definition of a “real life?”

When I look out at the world, I see lives lived in a diverse and beautiful way. Each person encountering their own mission in life, taking on a burden or expressing a joy. How you live your life is an especially personal decision, whether it is thrust upon you by fate or it is a life you have purposely created in order to enhance your own happiness.

Does a writer not have a life because they don’t sing opera?
Would a painter be happier as a carpenter?
Would a construction worker rather be inside in an office?
Would a secretary be happier scuba diving?

What is a life?

My father used to say a life was the vapor on the top of a coffee cup that appears and then quickly disappears. Life is short and to me life should be lived in the way that makes you happy.

To me, life is:

A place where you learn valuable lessons for survival. This includes the areas of spirituality, intellectual pursuits and physical endurance. Life to me feels very much like an obstacle course in which you become emotionally stronger, more able to handle the pain of people who are struggling to grow spiritually (just as you are) and who must come face to face with their own fears.

To me, life is best lived with a positive attitude, as much as you are able. Disappointments will arrive and you may struggle with your emotions. In such a case, you breathe in the pain of the person who is in pain and then you breathe out love. I have been amazed at how healed I feel personally when I practice this form of meditation.

To me, having a life means being happy and satisfied with your own spiritual progress or your ability to face challenges and overcome obstacles.

So, what does it mean to you when you say “Do you have a life?” That question is something to consider very carefully, because what you are really asking is: “What makes you happy?”

That may be completely opposite from the vision you have for your own life. So, the next time you wonder if someone has a life, ask yourself a deeper question and then stand in their shoes for five minutes.

Consider that what they are doing may actually make them happy and perhaps, just perhaps…it makes other people happy too.


Part 2: ...there is no way that you can possibly read, see, listen, taste etc etc all the things you review. (Concern 1 and 8)

I tend to have many interests, some of which can be done at the same time.

Often I am cooking something in the oven (I figured out how to cook fish with vegetables in foil which saves me so much time) while reviewing a book or reading a book while watching a movie.

I’ve been known to do three things at once or more, listening to music while reading a book and watching a fireplace DVD or knitting, reading and listening to music at the same time. Now and then my mind works especially fast. I can hardly write all I’m thinking and can read two, three or four or more books in one day. I speed read “naturally” (something I had to learn to do while in college) and can absorb information
fairly fast and comment on what I’ve read fairly quickly. I type super fast because of all the years I’ve been typing reviews.

If you do three things at once, you can write way more reviews because your experience is then filled with many more ideas about which to write. Most of the day is spent reading, seeing, listening, tasting and so by the end of the day, or the next morning, I have something to talk about.

I find that reading in the bath while using bath products, trying out new items from my “spa girl” tag list is a fun thing to do in the morning and as a woman, I think my interest in health and beauty offers me a lot more to discuss.

So on any given day you could find me reviewing lollipops, a movie I enjoyed, a book I just read and maybe the ingredients from a recipe I was testing for a book. It is just a matter of keeping busy and you’d be amazed at how much you can write about when you have been writing about what you are experiencing for over 10 years.

I also don’t watch much TV, in fact, we currently don’t have cable – my husband’s choice. If you consider how much time most people spend watching TV – then you imagined what else you could do with that time, then you may be able to understand how I am able to do so much in such a short amount of time.  


Date Comment was sent: 1/19/2007


The Comment: "3668 reviews, all of them ***** (five stars)?!"
(Concern 5) 

My Answer: To be completely honest, I do review items that are 3 and 4 stars, just I tend to enjoy reviewing items I love and I consider things I like or love to be 5 stars. If I love the item even more than 5 stars, sometimes I mention that it is a 100 star product.

Extra: Collection of Outstanding Electronic Music: 4 stars
100 Best-Loved Poems - 4 stars
Zhena's Gypsy Tea: Gypsy Love - 3 stars
The Servant Leadership Course on CD - 3 stars
Lotto Berk Method Hip Hugger Abs - 3 stars 


Date: 1/11/2007

The Comment:

”I see that you are a top 10 reviewer. It's very interesting that a top ten reviewer on Amazon has little to say about music overall. I see that most of you reviews are based upon female musicians, and while I am a liberal, and usually support feminist views, and love many female artists, it is sad for me to see such a feminist stance on music, a subject in which I am very passionate about. I almost bought an album, but checked you profile first, and saw that a large majority of your 5 star ratings are pointed toward female musicians." ~ C. (Concern 6 and 7)

My Answer:

I review "so many things," a lot of my music reviews are buried under 100s of other reviews. It is a pity that amazon doesn't still have that lovely category system where you would see all my music reviews at once. 

Everyone has their own cycle of learning and taste varies so dramatically. Check out my top 40 list, top 10 list and keep looking for more of my music reviews. 

I have reviewed  John Lennon, Jai Uttal, Jesse Cook, James Brown, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Yo-Yo Ma, David Lanz, U2, Sting, Nick Drake, Magnet, Death Cab for Cutie, Moby, Manheim Steamroller, Joshua Bell, Ronan Ynan, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Ray Lamontagne, Joshua Radin, Snow Patrol, B-Tribe, Postal Service, Frank Sinatra, The Idan Raichel Project, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Thievery Corporation, David Sylvan, AIR, Josh Groban, Daniel Powter, David Gilmour, Najee, Steven Halpern, Low Millions, Ulrich Schnauss, Faithless, Vangelis, Tom Petty, Deep Dish, Lanterna, Keane, The Beatles, Will Downing, Nawang Khechog, Beck and Coldplay. 

You may enjoy the vocals on 1 Giant Leap and African Dream. I love Michael Stipe's voice. 

After looking at my own musical tastes, I may be favoring men. :) I'll try to remain balanced, but I do love anything that touches the heart or leaves me excited about life and open to possibility. 

So much of what we enjoy is based solely on our own experience and everyone's experience is so vastly different. The beauty of Amazon is in finding a kindred soul and then discovering an entire new world of products/books/music to enjoy. I think it is unrealistic to think that you will meet more than a few of those types of soul mates in this lifetime. 

Thanx for your thoughts, 


The Same Comment in Three Different Ways

Comment: Seems to have been written by the PR person from the company. (Concern 3)

My Answer:

Wow, thanx I didn't know the review was that good. lol I'm honored
to think I could write a PR piece but unfortunately I am not associated
with the company. I write independent reviews for free and at my leisure. 
This is a hobby. Thanx for the laugh.


Comment: Is this an ad by someone who works for Gaiam? Did you really have to write 850 words to review an exercise DVD? Really? (Concern 3)

My Answer:

A few years ago and for quite some time I did write longer review because it seemed I had more to say. Now I do write shorter reviews in general. No, I do not work for Gaiam but they do have a lot of DVDs I enjoy. As far as I can tell it is acceptable to write anything up to a 1,000 word review. You can simply use your self-control to only read short reviews. I'm amazed at how many people complain about long reviews and don't realize that they could just read the short ones. Is that so difficult to do? I hope you find some of my shorter reviews more enjoyable.


Comment: You work for Leonidas' chocolates, don't you?? I had the impression that I was in a salesroom somewhere while reading your review!! You should be a little more discrete..........after all, there was quite a ruckas when Ann Rice got caught red handed reviewing her own book.........lol (Concern 3)

My Answer:

Your idea is not original. In my exuberance over various products I've been accused of the same thing numerous times. I've heard it all before. I've
been ordering chocolates from Leonidas for years and they are the best in the world. Instead of accusing people of things you know nothing
about why don't you order the chocolates and write a review. Perhaps then I could read your thoughts on the chocolates instead
of your mistaken opinion on the review.


Comment: It would have been more helpful if you just wrote a BRIEF review... I don't want to read a lengthy synopsis every time I seek a book review. It's just too time consuming. (A new concern lately)

My Answer:

This may sound obvious, but why are you spending so much of your precious time writing about it too?
It sounds like you should just use your self-control and abstain from reading long reviews.


Date Comment was sent: 9/21/2009

Comment: "Who cares, you have way too much free time on your hands." (Concern 10)

Comment left on a review of passionfruit pulp - something I use in recipes


My Answer:  

I see you also spend quite a bit of free time reviewing but keep your reviews pithy. :)

My original goal when reviewing was to review everything in my house that could be reviewed. I spend a few hours
every day reviewing something so it is more of a hobby.

How much free time is too much? Define your terms. I don't consider two to three hours a day as too much time. This review probably took less than
five minutes to write because it is a recipe from my cookbook: Seasoned with Love. I really enjoy
creating recipes and sharing them with the world.

Perhaps you could read some of my more serious reviews and consider them for comment. You just
happened to pick something that you are not really interested in. I can't guess why you did but it seems
to be the case. To me this product is very important in my life and also reminds me of my childhood. I even
make a cake with passionfruit. So to one person the review may be totally irrelevant and to another it
reminds them of a childhood memory.

I wish you well and hope you will read some of
my other reviews which might be of more
interest to you. 


Date Comment was sent: 10/1/2009

Comment: "i think you should go to book rehab. cause i think you are a reading addict. SERIOUSLY." (Concern 10)


My Answer:  

Thank you for the laugh. Before I started reviewing I had been
in college for what seemed like forever and had to read so many
books that I felt I'd never read another book again. After taking
a few years off from reading anything I started to find books I really
enjoyed reading and began reading as a hobby around April 3, 2000.
It is easy to read a book in a couple of days or even in one day.
So what you are seeing is actually a hobby but some might consider
it an addiction. I don't have cable TV but watch movies from Netflix so
I do other things to entertain myself besides reading. I also love
to cook (I create recipes for my site) and to go for walks so
I feel my life is in some ways balanced. At least if this is an
addiction I'm not hurting anyone. It keeps me busy and makes
me happy. I also review a lot for new authors which makes
them happy too. If you stopped watching TV (if you do) then
you would find so many more hours in the day in which to
read. I do admit to having an amazon addiction because I
like to visit the site at least once a day. 


Date Comment was sent: 1/14/2010

Comment: ”Leonidas chocolates are waxy, even if they are Belgian. Godiva is worse. Fran's Chocolates, based in Seattle, makes acceptable chocolates.” (Concern 8)

My Answer: I still think Leonidas has the best
chocolates even though I make a lot of chocolates myself
these days. 


Date Comment was sent: 1/14/2010

I said at a forum: "I find the negative reviews helpful before I begin a book."


"I don't mean this in a hurtful way, but isn't that hypocritical? As a customer, you find negative reviews helpful (I do, too), but you aren't willing to write some yourself for the benefit of everyone else? None of your almost four thousand reviews are 1- or 2-star, but I bet some of your readers would appreciate being warned about the turkeys.” (Concern 5)

My Answer: This has been covered in another discussion. People react very strongly to the fact that I don't usually post one- and two-star reviews. I have done so in the past but normally they reflect anger and I don't like that side of myself. To be honest, there are already enough negative reviews so I don't really need to contribute anymore to the pile. I've also been harassed by authors when I've posted a negative review and it was no fun in the park. When I spread joy and love I feel much better about life. Negative reviews weigh heavily on my soul so I now choose not to write them. I do think for other people it is cathartic. For me, it has the opposite effect. So I've really just made a lifestyle choice. Also, because of my site name people expect me to write positive reviews. How "seasoned with love" can you be when you write something negative. Now and then I do find a book I love with some negatives and I do mention that in the review. Normally those are the three-star reviews. So I'm not completely positive in those reviews.





What we think creates our life. ~Dr. Wayne Dyer




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A Prayer for Your Happiness...


The Issue of Anger and Positive Thinking

Things to Do When You are Feeling Blue

The Problem of Anger - Turning emotions
into healing instead of using them as destructive forces

Positive Thinking    Emotional Healing

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