Aim True, My Brothers-An Eddie Barnett FBI Counter-Terror Book 1-Book Review

Aim True, My BrothersTitle: Aim True, My Brothers-An Eddie Barnett FBI Counter-Terror Book 1

Genre: Currently #9 in the Best Seller’s Rank in Kindle Store, Kindle eBooks, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Thrillers, Assassinations

Publisher: William F. Brown

Publication Date: October 2013

Source: Presented by author for review

Aim True, My Brothers – Cover conveys subject

“Aim True, My Brothers” gets a little too close for comfort! The first in an electric and topical Political Action series by William F. Brown, he knows how to get your attention and keep it riveted to the page. This political slash espionage slash terrorist thriller moves the plot through at a frenetic pace. Continue reading “Aim True, My Brothers-An Eddie Barnett FBI Counter-Terror Book 1-Book Review”

Telemachus – a Book Review

Telemachus by Peter GrayTitle: Telemachus by Peter Gray

Genre: Currently #5269 in Best Seller’s Rank in Kindle Store for Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance

Publisher: CreateSpace

Publication Date:  February 2016

Telemachus – Cover – The Red Bird of Prey Becomes Obvious

Telemachus by Peter Gray presents a gripping and emotional tale using the POV from migrating birds. It quickly becomes powerful and profound in its simplicity. Continue reading “Telemachus – a Book Review”

Jackass Letters: Archive Volume 1 – a Book Review

Jackass Letters: Archive Volume 1Title: Jackass Letters: Archive Volume 1

Genre: Currently #1947 in Best Seller’s Rank in Books, Humor & Entertainment, Humor

Publisher: Runamok Books

Publication Date: February 2017

Jackass Letters: Archive Volume 1 – Cover–Where is the Jackass?

This little book is not a novel–no–it’s a collection of letters. (Bathroom reader?)

Is nothing sacred? Apparently not in Christopher L Jorgensen’s world and he’s quick to prove it in his “Jackass Letters: Archive Volume 1.” The book is a collection of letters composed by the author to most everyone you can think of, from corporate heads, to heads of state, as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury, London and His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Italy. Continue reading “Jackass Letters: Archive Volume 1 – a Book Review”

Jubilee-The Heist to Erase Debt – a Book Review

Jubilee-The Heist to Erase DebtTitle: Jubilee – The Heist to Erase Debt by Joseph Preacher

Genre: Currently #1922 in Best Seller’s Rank in Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Crime, Heist

Publisher: JKP

Publication Date:  July 2016

Jubilee-The Heist to Erase Debt – The cover doesn’t adequately convey the subject. However, the title is explained within the book.

This is a debut novel by Joseph Preacher who obviously has some background in code or spent some time in research to examine and explain the technical computer aspects of this book.

Aiming at the soft underbelly of the financial world built on societal debt, these five young friends each with their own tech expertise, score a direct hit. “‘How much debt do you have?’…’You are not a loan!'”

Four guys and the sister of one share their resources and the general lack of enthusiasm for the 9 to 5 routine to reap millions through exciting, well planned and executed cyber attacks. Most are childhood friends who have taken Reggie under their wing utilizing his amazing techno geek powers to hack into even the most sophisticated, multi-layered platform of security systems.

They’ve been having some fun, hitting some ATM’s as well as other financial sources, but matters turn decidedly serious when the protagonist, Roman Hawker, sophisticated braineac and leader of the group, loses his father to suicide in a medical financial fiasco due to the protracted illness of his mother.

The debt created was an insurmountable obstacle that his father deemed no longer worth the fight. Roman is devastated (as well he should be–spoiled brat), and accepts some of the responsibility, but vows to avenge his father and find some way of relieving the burdens of others with the same kind of intractable debt experienced by his father.

The group holds a noble discussion of the far-reaching ramifications of the relief of the world’s crushing debt problems. They collectively but reluctantly agree with Roman that it is a project worth the effort.

The female protagonist has a quiet thing for Roman, but feels he thinks of her as his buddy’s little sister–not a romantic interest–which is not true but smolders on the back burner.

Most of the characters are fleshed out very well, and it doesn’t take long before you hope these bad good guys can actually pull it off. Dialogue is intelligent and natural–the scenes are set very descriptively. It’s nice to be a fly on the wall.

So far, the group has been able to get in and get out, thinking they have left nothing traceable. They are practiced and coordinate like a well-oiled machine–each doing their job. They have, however, caught the attention of the FBI and behind them the quiet but corrupt secret and deadly governmental agency, who will stop at nothing to stop them. Stealing millions of dollars will get you noticed!

It is fascinating to sit on the shoulder of Reggie, studying the monitor, punching keys, and discussing computerese with Roman. It won’t make me capable of pulling any kind of caper very soon, but is fun to read whether or not you have to suspend some disbelief.

The action begins immediately and the thrilling crime, techno-cyber ride doesn’t slow. What a delightful concept to contemplate! I’d LOVE to wake up and discover I no longer had any medical bills! Wouldn’t you? And with all the cyber hacking going on around us–maybe not so unrealistic!

Bullseye!I was given a copy of this book for an honest review. There are a few edit errors. These should not alter your enjoyment of the book overall. I can recommend to anyone who has ever booted up a computer and considered the possibilities.

Joseph PreacherRosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars

The Author: Joseph Preacher loves writing thought-provoking fiction. He presents a global perspective to his stories as well as a twist in every plot. He is a former Marine and corporate finance guy.  ©2017 Virginia Williams I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!

Of Ashes and Dust – a Book Review

Of Ashes and Dust by Marc GrahamTitle: Of Ashes and Dust by Marc Graham

Genre: Currently #54444 in Best Seller’s Rank in Books, Literature & Fiction, Literary (Historical)

Publisher: Five Star Publishing

Publication Date:  March 2017

Of Ashes and Dust – Cover conveys roughly the subject of the second half of the book.

In this debut novel by Marc Graham, he has created a heart-rending, soul-searching story of a man reflecting on his life as it literally ebbs away.

Of Ashes and Dust follows James (JD, or Jade) Robbins as the son of a poor sharecropper, more comfortable with the Negro slaves in the fields of Arkansas in 1846 than that of his close, but upper class landowners.

Growing into his teen years, he falls hopelessly in love with the daughter of the owner of the land on which his family works, and gives his heart and soul to her, pledging his undying devotion until they are split by the Civil War. He is forced to leave his family and his love, finally changing from a beautiful, passionate young man into a world weary, combat wounded veteran. The emotionally charged descriptions of the Civil War battles stab at the heart and cries with the protagonist, until he is finally mustered out to heal and rejoin his love. But things have tragically changed back home as well.

Graham poignantly paints a deeply ravaged person mourning the loss of his soul mate to another, reducing the reader to helpless tears.

Seeking to leave that grief behind, Jim Robbins finds work and leaves the state with his buddy Dave to join the railroad expansion effort toward the west. He and Dave continue their work toward the Pacific after they successfully join the rails at Promontory Point.

The author provides rich descriptive detail of the struggle laying the rail west with unerring historical accuracy, the interaction and tragedy of confronting native peoples, and the immigrant Chinese working the railroad; human lives deemed expendable. It is out west that Robbins eventually finds another love with whom he believes he can share a mutual passion and life philosophy, but it seems that Robbins is again to be denied an enduring love. Dave forces him to go on and together they sail for Australia to help complete railroad construction there.

The characters are fleshed out so well, you ache to have them somehow survive–where is my “happy ever after?” Jim Robbins is immensely empathetic. The dialogue is so natural; the author might have taken it from civil war reports or newspaper accounts along the way.

This story grabs you by the collar from the beginning, and inexorably builds upon itself until, while you know what is going to happen, don’t know exactly how until the end…and then it’s soul crushing. Sometimes you read a book that stays with you after “the End.” This is one of those.

Bullseye!I was given the book in exchange for an honest review. It is packed with intense sensitivity, love, power, loss, regret, and triumph. Recommended for anyone interested in a book that won’t let you go.

Marc Graham - authorRosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars

The Author: Marc Graham is an “actor, singer, bard, engineer, Freemason, and whisky aficionado.” If he is not actively hiking the Colorado’s Front Range with his wife and dog, he is either on his computer or on the stage. ©2017 Virginia Williams I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!

There is a Difference Between 5 Stars on Amazon vs Goodreads

Goodreads vs Amazon Stars

Back in April 2017, I originally wrote this post regarding the difference in star rating definitions between Goodreads and Amazon. Perhaps little has changed.

There is certainly a difference between most of the major book retailers (and I’ve since taken note of the star rating definitions in Barnes & Noble as well as Kobo). As I’m sure you’ve no doubt noticed if you’ve ever moused over the stars on Amazon and Goodreads–there is a difference in the star ratings between the two. Are you one who thinks the star rating is equivalent to personal perception? Or have you read and understood the star definitions of both? I’ve run up against this before, debating what to do; set my star ratings the same on both websites–or change to more closely indicate my objective opinion on each.

A Goodreads five star indicates you thought the book “amazing.” I don’t consider that the same as, “I love it.” So what is the difference between the two? Note the graphic above.

Goodreads

Star Rating

1  Did not like it

2  It was okay

3  I liked it

4  I really liked it

5  It was amazing

Amazon

Star Rating

1  I hate it

2  I don’t like it

3  It’s okay

4  I like it

5  I love it

Really, neither of the two asks your opinion regarding the plotting, dialogue, characterization, grammar, or level of typos. It’s a matter of how much you liked the book–what did you like–what did you dislike. Perhaps that makes sense considering the reading levels of the average reader.

Does the average reviewer actually use the website assigned stars or simply judge based on the use of their own system?

In a 2015 study by McGill University, it was found that Amazon has higher average ratings compared to Goodreads and Goodreads users gave four stars more often than Amazon users (36.26%). That translation bears exactly how I would interpret the meaning behind the stars of those two websites as well. How many times does a conscientious book reviewer look for a compromise and assign a half point–4.5 stars, but are then forced to round up or down–well, THAT’s subjective then, not objective!

They maintain, therefore, that the Goodreads ratings fall in the range of 3 to 4 stars while Amazon ratings fall between 4 and 5 stars. Their argument extends to a higher average for some genres (i.e., biographies) on Amazon than are found on Goodreads. Makes sense if you consider Goodreads basically shifts one point lower, making only one a negative, one a neutral, and three more positive. That makes your four-star rating on Goodreads equivalent to Amazon five.

Their additional argument extends further in the propensity of Amazon reviewers to help “sell” the book, whereon Goodreads tends to more journalistic attributes, concentrating on the book’s content.

Also surprising, the study found that Amazon reviews tend to be a greater length, which flies in the face of that which I was taught–keep it short on Amazon–expand on the description on Goodreads–and just have fun with it on your own website. Indeed, I’ve been asked to keep my reviews short on Amazon to allow for more visible reviews on the landing page.

Kristen Twardowski in her recent WordPress post, “What to do with Goodreads,” says “Goodreads is the largest book review website on the internet.” She goes on to cite April 2017 statistics that show over 55 million members wrote an astounding 50 million reviews.  (And you thought your book was being buried on Amazon!) A quick search on Amazon shows print title totals vary, although if we use Amazon best sellers rank numbers, there are over 13 million–and over 800,000 ebook titles.

Amazon gobbled up Goodreads in March 2013. There have been a number of arguments regarding the star ratings disparity since then. Wikipedia noted, “Some authors, however, believe the purchase means that the “best place to discuss books is joining up with the best place to buy books.”

The updates to the Kindle app requesting a star rating at the end of the book you are reading begs an additional argument. If you hit the star rating link without consideration of the rating definition differences and the site links to Amazon as well as Goodreads, in my mind, the ratings become skewed.

I like the breakdown that Greg Zimmerman showed on his blog post appearing in June 2011 in which he whittled it down further: 4 and 5 stars==liked it, 3 stars=neutral, and 1 and 2 stars=don’t like it. He then compares Amazon stats to Goodreads stats and in the end concluded there’s a good reason for Goodreads reviews being lower. There continues to be skepticism for Amazon reviews on many of the forums, which agrees with my own perception and that I posted here. Two of my favorite reads this year (reviewed on this blog) with 15 or more ratings in GR’s also reflect McGill’s consensus.

The Fifteenth of JuneThe Fifteenth of June

Amazon – 15 ratings (average 4.7) 94% 4 stars or better

Goodreads – 24 ratings (average 4.0) 80% 4 stars or better

So Much Owed-#1 Amazon BestsellerSo Much Owed

Amazon – 268 ratings (average 4.7) – 94% 4 stars or better

Goodreads – 616 ratings (average 4.29) 86% 4 stars or better

There is credibility with Goodreads reviews. As a reader, have you performed review searches on Goodreads? Did you find they closely followed your own opinions? Did you compare the two? Judging by the number of review requests I receive, it would appear authors are still seeking strong Amazon authentication. I get it–lots of five stars on your Amazon book helps to spread the word (not so much the algorithm, which is based on sales). I hope you feel good about your Goodreads reviews and continue to press for Amazon reviews as well. Do you search for reviews before you purchase?

©2017 Virginia Williams I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!

Global Observation of World Book Day–Read Much?

 

Amazon celebrated World Book Day on April 20
Picture from Amazon Kindle Prime Landing Page

This year, World Book Day is being observed on Sunday, April 23rd. Amazon Kindle Prime has a beautiful landing page, commemorating the day with pictures and an invitation to join in the global celebration of “reading, authors, and books.” On April 20th, Seattle promoted a “Global Free Library, author readings, and book inspired activities.”

 

This is truly a global event; however, the UK and Ireland seem to take it one step further by providing World Book Day costumes for children.  

Originally organized by UNESCO on April 23rd, 1995, the annual event primarily promotes reading and publishing. Of course, there is a strong emphasis as well on the importance of protecting copyrighted material. Last year there were 250 separate events on four continents by more than 100 countries.

#LovetoReadThe 20th anniversary of World Book Day is celebrated by sharing why you #LovetoRead. Share your stories on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  It’s not too late to set up your own Goodreads Reading Challenge. (I’ve had to reduce my reading challenge to 65 books this year–I’m writing more.)

Reading empowers you through intellectual growth and activates imagination. Reading is major relaxation, a quiet moment to yourself; the ultimate stress reliever.

Love to Read, but don’t have a book at the moment? No problem! Just check out my Review list! I read across most genres and probably have a recommendation for you–just ask. Oh, and don’t forget the books by Stanley McShane, especially if you are into Historical Fiction! ©2017 Virginia Williams (Picture of woman reading by Canva free pics.)I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!

Premade Book Covers–Your Design on Tap

Sons of the Sea-A Tale of the Old Grimsby Fishermen

With so many authors looking for a change of their covers lately, I’ve looked at my own and wondered if they should be updated as well. For the most part, I was satisfied with them, and I know that a good cover helps sell. But are these book covers eye-catching; do they invite closer inspection of the book? Cocos Island Treasure Continue reading “Premade Book Covers–Your Design on Tap”

Which Side of the Oxford Comma War Are You On?

Oxford CommaThe Oxford University Press sparked a war back in 1892 that continues to this day with as many on both sides of the line protesting their side as the right one.

The Oxford comma (also referred to as a serial comma, or even the Harvard comma) is that “comma before the conjunction at the end of a list.” The Oxford University Press style guidelines touched off the conflict back when Horace Hart, controller of the University Press, organized a set of rules for the Oxford Press employees.

While the anti-comma faction would eliminate the second comma, the pro-comma faction would add it, sure that it provides clarity. The “pro’s” are more commonly found in the U.S. (I wouldn’t be without mine!) Only journalists forced to use the AP style generally omit it, but that was originally a bid to save space! The anti-comma people hold sovereignty in the U.K., except, of course, for Oxford University–go figure.

Why all the fuss over bell, book, and candle? Aren’t we invoking the Oxford comma for purposes of clarity?  Click to Tweet

And doesn’t that really promote consistency of comma use? Apparently not in some scholars eyes. The article by Warren Clement to The Globe and Mail noted this example: “She invited her father, a tuba player and several ballerinas. It is clear that she invited her father, the musician and the ballerinas.(?Is it?) Now insert the Oxford comma: She invited her father, a tuba player, and several ballerinas. Suddenly the father has become a tuba player.(Really?)

Hmmm…You say to-may-to and I say to-mah-to…

And we’ve been at this 125 years? So I’ll submit to you one final argument illustrated in riveting detail that you may or may not have seen before: “We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin.” I rest my case.

Illustration-Oxford comma
Illustration by AE Ferg-Offered by Stephen Tall

 

I’ll stick to my Oxfords, but I’d be interested to know if you do. Do we have a majority? ©2017 Virginia Williams I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!

Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated-a Review

Growth and Change are Highly OverratedTitle: Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated by Tom Starita

Genre: Currently rated Best Sellers Rank #5022 in Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Humor & Satire, General Humor

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, LLC

Publication Date: December 2016

Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated – I did not like the cover; cannot read the author’s name

Protagonist Lucas James is a middle child and an over-the-top narcissist. His whole world revolves around his becoming a major musical god. Truth be told, he’ll tell you up front, his music, his songs, his next gig will always be #1 on his mind, in his thoughts, and his only real drive in life. Continue reading “Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated-a Review”