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review 2017-11-13 01:03
Book Review: Black Swan Rising
Black Swan Rising - Lee Carroll

Book: Black Swan Rising


Author: Lee Carroll


Genre: Fiction/Supernatural/Fantasy


Summary: When New York City jewelry designer Garet James stumbles into a strange antiques shop in her neighborhood, her life is turned upside down. John Dee, the enigmatic shopkeeper, asks her to open a vintage silver box for a generous sum of money. Oddly, the symbol of a swan on the box exactly matches the ring given to Garet by her deceased mother. Garet can't believe this eerie coincidence until she opens the box and otherworldly things start happening. . . . When she investigates, Garet learns that she has been pulled into a prophecy that is hundreds of years old. Opening the box has unleashed an evil force onto the streets of Manhattan. Gradually, Garet pieces together her true identity - one that her deceased mother desperately tried to protect her from. Generations of women in Garet's family, including her beloved mother, suffered and died at the hands of the prevailing evil. Does Garet possess the power to defeat this devastating force? On her journey, she will meet fey folk who walk unnoticed among the humans and a sexy vampire who also happens to be a hedge fund manager who she can't stop thinking about. Can Garet trust anyone to guide her? The fairies reveal a desire to overpower mere humans, and the seductive vampire has the power to steal the life from her body. Using her newfound powers and sharp wit, Garet will muster everything she's got to shut down the evil taking over her friends, family, New York City, and the world. - Tor, 2010.

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text 2017-11-04 19:47
Reading progress update: I've read 51 out of 189 pages.
Voice of Our Shadow - Jonathan Carroll

enjoyable and saddening (in an enjoyable way) so far. and, who knew!: lots of it takes place in Vienna, Austria, right when I'm planning to watch The Third Man again...

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text 2017-10-25 19:14
Follow-up to Over Priced at $0.00 -- How the scam worked
Promised to an Earl: Arranged Marriage Historical Romance (Victorian Historical Romance) - Joyce Carroll

Disclosure:  I obtained the Kindle edition of this book when it was offered free on 6 January 2016.  I do not know the author nor have I ever had any communication with her about this book or any other matter.  I am an author of adult fiction and general interest non-fiction.




Thanks to comments by Darth Pony and Alexandra's Adventures in Books to my original "Over Priced at $0.00,"  I did some further research on how the scammers have operated to screw over readers -- and writers! -- via the Kindle Unlimited program.  Because I already had this item purchased and downloaded, it provides perfect material for analysis.


As you can see from the above screen shot (taken today), this item is now listed at $0.99 and is not available for Kindle Unlimited reading.  The lone Amazon review is a one-star warning not to buy the book.


According to the product information, this "book" is now 37 pages long.



Here's how the scam worked.


When Kindle Unlimited began, authors were paid the full royalty on any KU book the reader turned 10% of the pages.  This quickly proved too easy to scam, so the process was changed.  Authors were then paid a set amount per page turned (whether actually read or not).  It was still easy to pad books by double or triple spacing, leaving blank pages between chapters, and so on.  At that point Amazon came up with Kindle Edition Normalized Pages ("KENP"), which basically amounts to counting pages by equivalent words.  The current approximation is ~187 words per page, and the current royalty payment is ~$0.005 (one half cent) per KENP.


What the scammers did was to bundle dozens (literally dozens) of these short books/stories into a single volume, slap a cover and title on it, and publish it via Kindle Direct Publishing and enroll it in the KU program.  One book, of course, wouldn't be enough to rake in lots of royalties, so they took the same dozens of stories, shuffled the order, and republished them in other collections.  With new covers and new titles, they looked like another whole product, even though they weren't.


(I have some more of these in my Kindle collection and I'll try to locate and post more screen shots later.)


Once the reader was enticed to download the book via KU, she encountered various enticements, such as this:



Yes, "at the very end of this Book."  But, look at the number at the very bottom of this page:  116459. 


By comparison, Marsha Canham's full-length historical romance Bound by the Heart only yields 6801 "locations."  (These are not actual pages; I'm not sure exactly what measurement is used.)



A single click to the end of 116,459 brought the scammers 17 times the KU royalty that a full-length novel by a real author would have brought.  If the reader found out the material was crappy, she didn't much care, because it came "free" with her monthly KU subscription.  There really wasn't much incentive to leave a negative review, and it would only have taken more of her time, which she may have already considered wasted.  Why waste more on a negative review?


Whether "Joyce Carroll" really is a New York Times bestselling author remains to be discovered.  She may have been one of those who sold a big bunch of books in a collection for $0.99 and ended up on some list.  Again, it's a scam.


Now, are readers hurt by this?  Well, they are if they spend good money on this crap.  I confess I haven't actually looked at the "Promised to an Earl" story yet, but the others I looked at were pretty poor fare.  Still, most KU readers probably only look at the time they spent on books they otherwise wouldn't have read, because there's no actual money involved for them.


Authors, however, are directly impacted.


The KU pool is determined by Amazon each month, and it is then divided amongst the participating books by those KENPs actually turned.  To give you an idea of how that works out, my book The Looking-Glass Portrait is listed at 391 pages on Kindle; Marsha Canham's book is listed at 406, so pretty darn close to equal.  LGP is calculated to have 827 KENPs.  So this scam book "Promised to an Earl" generated roughly $68.00 in royalties each time someone clicked on that link to take them to the end of the book for a freebie.


Sixty-eight dollars.


That $68.00 was pulled out of the pool of funds available to the authors who actually wrote books and lent them via Kindle Unlimited.


And we don't know how many of these scam books were actually listed.


Here's the review I did of one, however, along with one page from the text to show spacing and the location amount on the bottom.



Apparently Amazon has tried to rein in some of these scam books.  I don't know if The Second Sister has been trimmed down so it doesn't add up the KENPs; I'll check later.


But, friends and fellow readers, this is just another reason why negative reviews are important.  This is why we can't just shrug our shoulders and say "There's nothing I can do about it."  These tactics are wrong.  They hurt real authors, and they hurt real readers by depriving them of the well-written books real authors are putting out there.


Deal with it, Anne Rice. Deal with it.



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review 2017-09-10 17:31
Through the Woods - Emily Carroll


I was a little disappointed in this one, I already knew/heard some version of the stories before. I kept wondering if I had read the book before because I thought this was original content. 


Our Neighbor's House

I've heard this one before, so I knew it was a little out there ending. 


A Lady's Hands Are Cold

Did my grotesque horror heart well and had some creep factor to it. The ending though didn't satisfy. 


His Face All Red

Was so disappointed the scenes were cut before the gore could really get started. I had to remind my slasher movie loving self that this was supposed to be for the kiddos. Again, the ending had me side-eyeing. 


My Friend Janna

This one was the creepiest to me.


The Nesting Place

My favorite even though I've heard the story before.

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review 2017-09-01 15:26
Holy Moly The Colors
Through the Woods - Emily Carroll

I am reading this for "In The Dark, Dark Woods": Through the Woods by Emily Carroll.  


Besides the woods on the cover of the book two of the stories that I've read have the woods depicted in the panels.


This was brilliant. I loved all the stories, writing, and the panels were awesome. And I also scared myself so badly at one point I put this way and kept jumping at shadows. 


"An Introduction" sets the mood for this collection.  Why I started reading this in the dark with only the TV flickering I will never know.


"Our Neighbor's House" what a grim story. The slowly building tension to this one was great. Of course I had guesses about the neighbor.


"A Lady's Hands Are Cold" another take on the Bluebeard legend. Really enjoyed this. The song repeated throughout the panels became more and more sinister. 


"His Face All Red" I thought this was smartly done. We have a man who is wary of his brother, and we find out why. I kept waiting for something to leap out of the panel.


"My Friend Janna" a very good story. Reminded me a bit of the trouble the women had in that movie Ouija board. 


"The Nesting Place" a young woman doesn't take warnings to stay out of the woods seriously enough.


"In Conclusion" another take of Little Red Riding Hood.


The other stories in this collection besides "A Lady's Hands are Cold" and "In Conclusion" I am not sure of the original fairy tale or folk lore they came from.


I really enjoyed the writing, and the flow from story to story. I have to say the colors really popped and reading this on my Kindle was great because the way that the Kindle was set up was once you double tap the panel and enlarged it, you would get to see the full panel and then it would focus in on the different parts that you should read. So it was kind of like watching a cartoon, a silent cartoon which was giving me the willies the whole time. See below for some of the panels.




Definitely going to check out more works by this author!



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