Writer T. James' Exploration of Words, on the Internet.

Category: Review

Review: Grammarly Premium, Grammar Checker

 Interesting Image of a Very Angry Grandmother‘You’re never going to meet my standards, little boy.’

First, a confession:  in order to write this review, Grammarly Inc. provided me with a free upgrade to a premium account. However, I remain unbiased for three reasons:

  1. When I attempted to use Grammarly Premium over a year ago to help proofread my novel, I gave up on it. I’m only now revisiting the software and it has a lot to prove.
  2. I’m not the kind of person that can be bought with a freebie.
  3. It’s taken me so long to get around to this review, my year’s free upgrade ended halfway through writing it. Luckily, I finished the Premium testing last week, but this review has only been checked by Grammarly Basic. (After reading my prose, you may decide Grammarly Premium is an essential purchase after all.) ;)


As one of its most established players, Grammarly is the Old Dear of the automated grammar checking business and is used by students, legal eagles, and writers. I wanted to find out whether it was impossible to teach the premium edition to suck eggs or whether she’s an awkward ol’baggage only fit to bury. Continue reading

Glowstar, by Matthew Lee Adams – A Review


To be clear, Matthew Adams is a friend of mine, and any readers of this review will have to make their own judgements about its impartiality. For my part, I try to be objective and evaluate everything I read on its own merits. I can be very hard to please—just ask my crit partners.


Alannah Brynne is a Touchstone, a being who endures the burden of raw human emotions gifted to her by the Gatherers. Her only solace lies in her Winnowing, a release from the torment of feelings she bears.

Her devotion to Eamon, a Light Gatherer, cannot overcome her distrust of his kind, nor dispel the bitter loneliness she feels.

One day she meets a human in Central Park, where she went to be alone. Instead, he draws her picture as a Sleeping Beauty, surrounded by thorns . . .

Enticed by a chance to masquerade as a human and liberate herself from her own sense of fate, Alannah develops a secret relationship with the young artist, Liam Griffin. Yet as they grow closer and she realizes Liam is falling for her, she feels torn by her deceptions to him, as well as by her own lingering love for Eamon. Continue reading

Day Of Demons: A Book Review

This week I’ve got a guest post over at the Gothicked Blog. I review the Day of Demons short story anthology, and I thought it was well worth checking out—I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. 

If you’d like to read the review in full, just click the picture below.

(Please note: comments seem to be disabled on the Gothicked blog  , and have been since the post was put up on Saturday. If you have anything you’d like to say about the review or Day of Demons you can pop back here and leave a comment below). 

Children’s Book Review: The World According To August, One Good Friend.

Book Information: 40 pages, Age 6+. Written by Sandra L. Westendorf, illustrations by Tracy Rand. Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

The story is based on a real boy, who has autism, and the trials and tribulations he faces at school, and particularly when he is asked to present a science project to his class. Like all of us he faces obstacles, craves friendship, and seeks to find acceptance from those around him. His story is told here, in a way that is accessible to children. Continue reading

Children’s Book Review: Mikolay and Julia Meet the Fairies.


BOOK Information: 38 pages, Age: 4+. Written by Magda Olchawska, illustrations by Joanna Gniady. For a free download of the ebook, click here.

Mikolay is a boy who, like a young Harry Potter, can do magic, but isn’t supposed to when he is out of school. Always driven to find an adventure, as he plays with his friend Julia he is irresistibly drawn by the voices in the wardrobe. Reluctantly Julia agrees to investigate, and inside they find fairies, who are hiding in there from a monster which is destroying everything in their homeland. There is no way they can ask their Moms, the witches, to help, so using a crystal ball they travel to the fairies’ homeland to try to get rid of the monster.

Once there they find the monster is a machine, driven by humans, set on destroying the forest for the resources they find there. There is only one choice, Mikolay will have to attempt some advanced magic to banish the humans, protect the fairies and the forest. Will he succeed? Will they get home safely? Will they be eaten by the guard dogs? I recommend reading this charming little adventure to find out…

I often feel the best reviewers of children’s books are children, so I decided to read this to my four-year old son to see what he made of it. Not long after the story started so did the questions. What are fairies wings like? Is Mikolay’s school like mine? Are fairies animals? Where do crystal balls come from? What do witches do? Why are the fairies in the wardrobe (before the story explains)?

These were just a few of the questions he asked, which tells me one thing… the story grabbed him, and held his interest to the end. The story flies from one imagining to the next quite quickly, and his imagination took flight along with it.

I wondered before reading if the story was a little old for him, and he didn’t respond to the environmental message it contained, but the characters, events and places really came alive for him. This was also helped by the colourful and stylised pictures, which he really liked, constantly asking to turn the page to see the next one.

"'I love fairies so much. I would so love to touch one,' whispered Julia in excitement when she saw that inside the wardrobe lots of fairies were hiding. 'You can touch me. But please do not touch my wings, they are very fragile,' replied one fairy. 'I’m Farina, the fairy queen,' she introduced herself."


"'Julia, Mikolay, look!' screamed Farina pointing her finger towards the lake from where a group of people with huge dogs emerged."

I think if my son was a little older then the ecological message central to the book, and the ‘Find Out’ family activity suggestions at the end would have got him thinking. As a bedtime story though, it thoroughly engaged him, and he wanted to read it again. My son approves, and a higher recommendation I cannot think of.


NOTE: All images and quotations were included with the kind permission of the author, Magda Olchawska, and remain © Copyright of Mayan Books, 2010.