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review 2018-09-20 04:49
Review: Jungle Green (The Balcom Dynasty Book 2) by Richard Dee
Jungle Green - Richard Dee

Independently published (6th June 2018)

 

ISBN: 978-1983052606

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis: 

TC is the wonder drug. Manufactured in secrecy on a remote planet at the edge of the galaxy, it makes worlds inhabitable; and Balcom Industrial lots of money. Then, suddenly, the people who need to take it to stay alive start to die! For Layla Balcom, fresh from wresting control of her father’s inheritance from those who would have destroyed it, the news is devastating. Can the drug be flawed? Or is something else going on?  

 

Review:

I very much enjoyed Ribbonworld, the first book in The Balcom Dynasty when I devoured it in virtually one sitting last year, so Jungle Green was an eagerly anticipated read for me. It was a real pleasure to catch up with Miles Goram again, the central character and unlikely hero of Ribbonworld.

 

The story piqued my curiosity from the off, the author laying a trail of breadcrumbs but there's no hand holding and leading you from one clue to the next; some things you need to work out for yourself! The plot is interesting and cast of characters varied and well rounded - some seemingly lovely, others hateful! 

 

Richard Dee has a wonderful way of weaving a way with words, he's a masterful storyteller and I suspect he doesn't even realise this. When I'm reading one of his books, regardless of genre, I'm utterly transfixed and lose all track of time. There could be a monsoon (or anything else) going on outside, I really wouldn't have the faintest idea! I am really pleased to see a prequel is forthcoming, I can't wait to read that! 

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review 2018-08-10 16:36
Teaching responsibility
One Step at a Time - Aharon, Sara Y.,Bryn Pennetti

The following book was kindly sent to me by the author, Sara Y. Aharon, who requested a review. This book will be published on September 1, 2018 and you can check out the author's website or Amazon for more information on purchasing the book.

 

One Step at a Time by Sara Y. Aharon is a picture book which teaches children the value of perseverance and personal growth. Emma is a little girl who loves butterflies so it's lucky that her classroom has one for a pet. However, Emma gets so excited about playing with Belle the Butterfly that she accidentally sets her free. What should she do? Can she ever face her teacher and classmates again?  One Step at a Time demonstrates the advantages of accepting responsibility even when it's uncomfortable (especially then) and how being brave doesn't necessarily mean that you are totally confident that things will go your way. It's a gentle way to visually display the significance of doing the right thing even when you may be afraid. As this is self-published, I think there are a few things that could be done to set it apart and give it a chance against some of its mainstream contemporaries. Adding questions to test comprehension at the back of the book (nothing too daunting) would give the message that this would be a great teaching supplement. Perhaps including a link back to the author's website where additional information about metamorphosis and free downloadable butterfly coloring sheets are available would sweeten the pot even further. [A/N: I give these suggestions based on my own experience reading children's books and recommending them to the parents and teachers in my community. These are definitely hot ticket additions to any book and would make a great selling point. ;-)] It's a cute little story that has a good message. 7/10

 

What's Up Next: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Mary B: An Untold Story of Pride and Prejudice by Katherine J. Chen

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-07-01 01:12
A Rational Arrangement by L. Rowyn
A Rational Arrangement - L. Rowyn

Nikola Striker, the Lord of Fireholt, is being pressured by his parents to marry. They have settled on Wisteria Vasilver for him. The match would probably save his family from financial ruin, but Nik really doesn't want to marry, and Wisteria's looks aren't to his taste in any case. Her personality, though... After Wisteria inadvertently offends his parents, Nik finds himself thinking about her more than he expected. Her tone and facial expression are impossible to read, but her words are refreshingly direct and honest. Shockingly so, sometimes. Nik can't stop thinking about her scandalous marriage contract, which not only covers how many "marital encounters" she expects them to have, but also, intriguingly, indicates that she'd be fine with infidelity as long as all parties are kept informed and behave discreetly.

Nik has been in a secret relationship with Lord Justin Comfrey for years. He cherishes their time together, a welcome break from his duties as one of the Blessed, those who are able to use the Savior's power to help others. Even so, he and Justin don't always have a good handle on each other. Although Nik still doesn't want to marry Wisteria, he finds himself talking with her more and more freely, and wishing he could tell her his biggest secrets.

Wow, writing my own summary for this book was...not easy. Since it may not be that clear in either my summary or the author's, this is a poly romance. The story takes ages to get to that point - for a while it looks like a complicated love triangle involving Wisteria and Nik, Nik and Justin, and eventually Wisteria and Justin.

I bought this because it sounded like it would focus on character relationships rather than on how often and in how many ways the characters could have sex. When I first started reading it, I thought it was delightful. Wisteria and Nik's conversations were fun, and Wisteria's marriage contract sketched out a way for the romance to happen without anyone having to cheat on anyone else, or so I thought.

Unfortunately, this still managed to have cheating in it. Wisteria married one of the men and found out about their relationship not because her husband told her, but because she found them about to have sex (or actually in the process of having sex? I can't remember and don't care to hunt the scene down). Luckily for them, she'd been having fantasies about them having sex together and thought this discovery was hot. I guess the marriage contract didn't matter that much. They soon invited her to have a threesome with them, she was delighted to accept, and the book wrapped up in a way that left everyone happy.

On the whole, the romance in this just didn't work for me. I'd have been on board with Wisteria and Nik, or even Wisteria and Justin, although Justin didn't seem like the marrying type. Nik and Justin were, however, an absolutely awful couple. Justin frequently inadvertently hurt Nik and Nik didn't seem to be comfortable with talking to him about it. Whenever he did try to talk about it, Justin didn't understand. Justin also lost a lot of points with me after his horrible behavior towards one of the riding cats (large, talking, intelligent cats that the humans in this world hire for riding and other purposes, since there don't seem to be any horses). And his behavior right after

Nik tried to break things off with him

(spoiler show)

was an insult to both Nik and Wisteria, even though he didn't take things as far as he could have.

In the end, despite what the author clearly wanted readers to think, Justin came off looking like the guy Wisteria and Nik wanted to have around for sex. His relationship with Wisteria was a little better than his relationship with Nik, but by the time I got to the book's "happy" ending I just wanted him out of their lives, for all their sakes.

In general, A Rational Arrangement was a lot longer than it needed to be. I feel like this would have been a much better and more focused work (and maybe more obviously a poly romance, rather than a love triangle) if the author had cut out maybe 200 pages. As it was, it took ages for Wisteria and Justin to meet, and the storyline involving the little girl, Sharone, went on for so long that it started to feel like pointless filler.

I was also very unhappy with the way the book's tone drastically shifted a little over halfway through. The bulk of the book was regency-ish dances, parties, and conversations (and an occasional explicit sex scene involving Nik and Justin). Then, suddenly, there was a very graphically violent scene in which one of the three main characters was tortured - which, by the way, happened at about the same time that the other two characters went off to make out and strip each other naked. The way the aftermath was handled bugged me as well. It felt like the character's PTSD was just a plot device designed to move things forward in the proper way. Once it had accomplished what it was supposed to, it was magically done away with (literal magical healing) and never really brought up again.

Unfortunately, this wasn't nearly as good as I'd hoped it would be. If I continue on with this series, it'll be because I bought the sequel when it first came out. In my defense, it was on sale and I really did think I was going to love these characters and this world. At least the next work in the series is a collection of novellas rather than yet another badly bloated novel.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2018-06-10 06:44
Do targeted email blasts generate sustained book sales?
Do targeted email blasts generate sustained book sales?
 
In the ongoing quest to find effective marketing tools for my nine novels and two plays, I've compiled a list of over two hundred email addresses of those who have expressed some interest in my books. Sending them an email has become part of every book launch.
 
My email blasts consist of three themed emails space two weeks apart. Each one offers the coupon code for a free e-book edition of the novel.
 
The response of my last blast was: opened 20%; clicked 6%; reviews 2
 
Many sites provide a similar service for a fee. For $25.00, Free Kindle Books http://fkbt.com/for-authors/ will include your book in a daily post to 750,000 addresses of which they claim 100,000 take action or about 13%. Take action does not mean buy, read or review your book.
 
Is this a good way to market a new release? Will it enhance sales of my backlist? How to tell?
 
Why not take a look at the results another author, Matt Manochio http://www.mattmanochio.com got from email blasts.
 
In his 2015 blog entitled Lessons in Advertising my Ebook, Manochio meticulously documented his experience http://www.mattmanochio.com
 
 
I have no idea how I came upon this information, but it is a caution that once you post on the internet, it never goes away.
 
To summarize, he used fourteen sites, spent $500 and sold approximately 1100 books @ 99¢. After the publisher's cut (he wasn't self-published), he concluded he broke even.
 
He also got some amazing short-term results with his book hitting #411 on the paid Kindle list and single-digit ranking in its respective genre. These numbers, however, were not sustained and currently, the book he was promoting is on the Amazon Best Sellers ranking at #2,012,826
 
If you deeply discount your book and send it to hundreds of thousands of people, some are going to open it, some even read it.
 
It's what happens after that's important. Does this investment enhance sales of your backlist at the regular price?
 
In Manochio's case did this happen?
 
Looking at the author's website and considering what he's written since, and where his books currently rank I'd say no, though it does sound like he had a hell of an exciting ride for a couple of weeks.
 
Will I consider email blasts in the future for my books keeping in mind that some of my novels may not be eligible on some sites since they don't have the required number of reviews or may not be considered to have a professional cover?
 
Maybe. In some cases, it's less expensive than sending a paperback edition of your book to a reviewer. The real payoff, however, won't be a blip in ranking, but rather if the book they got cheap was good enough to encourage them to buy one of my other titles at full price.
 
Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.
 
Some Email blast sites:
 
 
 
 
Free Kindle Books and Tips http://fkbt.com/for-authors/
 
Digital Books Today https://digitalbooktoday.com/
 
 
 
 
 
 
Facebook
 
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review 2018-03-31 02:48
Over-priced junk- Do not want to read.
Deadly Deceit - Rose M. Brate

A friend who is a big fan of youth sports recently made an effort to help a young man achieve his expressed goal of a college scholarship. Letters were written, phone calls were made.  An independent coach was engaged to offer a private skills assessment.  Specialized training was arranged, as well as participation in limited-enrollment clinics.  This friend spent a small amount of his own cash, but solicited others to make donations. Most of the friend's contribution was time and the value of many years' connections in the youth sports arena.

 

After all this, the young athlete blew it off.  He skipped training sessions, and even dismissed a tutor hired to help him bring up his academic grades.  No scholarships were ever offered; the potential college athlete dropped out of high school two months before graduation.

 

The friend was devastated at first, then outraged.  He couldn't understand how this young man could fail to be appreciative that so many people were willing to help him get the scholarship he himself said he wanted.

 

"Now you know how I feel every time I've offered to help a writer improve their writing and then been stabbed in the back for it."

 

We do this sort of thing out of the goodness of our hearts, in a sense.  I enjoy writing and I enjoy reading good writing, so there's a sense that other writers would want the same thing.  Furthermore, there's a desire to raise the quality of writing in general, especially in these days of digital self-publishing.  My friend, who was an athlete in his own youth, wanted to bring this young man the same sense of accomplishment and achievement.

 

But the return on the emotional investment ends up being a total loss, and it's depressing and discouraging.  There's some consolation to be taken from the fact that it doesn't happen just in the writing game, but it's not much.

 

Deadly Deceit by Rose M. Brate is not a promising young athlete.  Nor is it a promising self-published novel. 

 

Here's the Amazon Kindle listing, the first thing the potential reader sees:

 

 

The $6.99 Kindle price is a bit high, but maybe the author has enough sales and recognition to justify it.  I'm not sure what the book's Kindle Unlimited pages are, because the spacing seems a bit expanded, generating more pages than the word count might otherwise warrant.  Supposedly Amazon has a way to balance this, but if Brate's 304-page "book" brings in the average Kindle Unlimited royalty, that payment should be around $3.00 per copy read.  Royalties on the $6.99 sales price would be approximately $4.50. 

 

None of it, of course, makes that "head-over-heals" typo any less glaring.

 

I downloaded the free sample.  I had no great expectations, with all apologies to Mr. Dickens.

 

There's no front matter, a flashing neon sign that this is an author-published project.  My expectations dropped a little lower.

 

The blurb on Amazon was about Jack and Abby Morrison; that's not how the book opens.

 

 

So, who is this story about?  The Morrisons or this detective?

 

At this point, I as a reader and as a reviewer -- a merciless one -- knew that whatever qualities the story might have were deeply buried under lackluster and possibly just plain bad writing.  Invoking the Josh Olson protocol, I proceeded without hesitation.

 

Let's look at that opening page under a magnifying glass:

 

Detective DeMarko ducked beneath the yellow police tape surrounding the twelve-story building of Morrison Advertising. The entire block had been closed off, since it was an official crime scene. Squad cars lined the block, drawing the unwanted attention of anyone within a two-block radius. She stood with her hands on her hips, taking in the scene as her partner, Jasper Reiner, approached, bitching about the weather.

 

“It’s a scorcher, boss,” Reiner complained, wiping the sweat from his brow.

 

“It is that,” DeMarko confirmed, heading toward the uniformed officer maintaining order.

Brate, Rose M (2017-11-13T22:58:59). Deadly Deceit (Kindle Locations 30-35). Kindle Edition.

We start with Detective DeMarko, who is not further identified.  No first name, no physical description, so we don't even know if this official is male or female or whatever.  Is this clever?  Is it intentional?  Is it sloppy writing?  Hold that thought.

 

The yellow police tape automatically tells us this is a crime scene; the observation in the latter part of the second sentence is unnecessary.  It's certainly not clever; it's sloppy.

 

What about the first part of that sentence?  The yellow tape surrounds the building, but "the block" had been closed off.  How large is the block?  What's used to close it off?  Vehicles?  Police officers?

 

The third sentence gives some more information: police vehicles are lining "the block."  We still don't know if these vehicles are sealing off the area, just that they're there.

 

They're drawing "unwanted" attention.  Unwanted by whom?  And why is that attention unwanted?

 

And why is it important that they draw unwanted attention from anyone in a "two-block" radius?  (Think about how awkward that is, since radius implies a circle, presumably centered on the tape-surrounded building, which would itself block at least part of that circle.  Words have meaning.)

 

Now comes the big jolt:  "She stood with her hands on her hips."

 

Aha!  So, is our detective a woman?  If we didn't already suspect that, or have an image of a woman in our reader's imagination, we've been stopped cold while we alter that mental image.  The first sentence with no description of DeMarko is probably intentional, but it may not be quite so clever, because it has forced the reader to reassess the vision created by the opening words.  It has pulled the reader out of the story, when instead that opening should drag the reader in, further and further with every word.

 

There are four sentences in the opening paragraph.  Three of those sentences contain present participial phrases; one of them contains two.  This is lazy, sloppy, unpolished writing.

 

Do most readers care?  The honest answer has to be, "No, most don't care.  Most don't notice.  Most don't know enough to notice."

 

By the end of the first paragraph, we know that Detective DeMarko is a woman, but we don't know her first name.  We do, however, know her partner's first and last name.  We also know that he's bitching about the weather.  Author Brate has clearly told us what Reiner is doing.

 

Even though she has already told us Reiner is complaining about the weather, the very next sentence repeats the information.  That participial phrase "bitching about the weather" is telling, and it's completely unnecessary when the author shows the same information in Reiner's dialogue.

 

But Reiner calls DeMarko "boss," even though he's been identified as DeMarko's partner, not her subordinate.  After the very first sentence left DeMarko's gender unknown, now the relationship between her and Reiner is uncertain.

 

The next sentence, which is the last on the first page of my Kindle sample, contains DeMarko's confirmation of Reiner's statement . . . and two more participial phrases.

 

This is just plain lousy writing.  It's crap.  Is there s good story under all those present participles?  Maybe, but I don't care.  I'm not going to wade through any more of this garbage.

 

There's no direct return for me on this investment of time.  I didn't expect any.  If someone reads this and benefits, then it's all to the good.  If a writer learns to check her sentences for repetitions of present participles, if a reader learns to distinguish between good writing and bad, that's the very most I can hope for.  The exercise in analysis, of taking apart a couple of paragraphs per the Josh Olson protocol, is my way of getting five cents on the dollar of my own investment elsewhere.

 

EDITED TO ADD:

 

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