#AmReading – The Whispering Room by Dean Koontz

#AmReading - The Whispering Room by Dean Koontz

Welcome to my #AmReading feature! I am highlighting an author and their book currently visible in the “Fair Weather” widget celebrating blue skies, following seas, and my Goodreads (currently reading) list.

This week I am presenting Dean Koontz and his book The Whispering Room. I received an ARC from the publisher, Bantam, and NetGalley. The book will be released on November 21, 2017. Amazon classifies the novel as literary fiction and a mystery, thriller & suspense, and is 528 pages. Even so, I see where some advanced readers flew through it in one sitting. (I’m not one of those.)

I will be presenting my review shortly, but in the meantime (from Amazon), here is the

Book Blurb:

“No time to delay. Do what you were born to do. Fame will be yours when you do this.” These are the words that ring in the mind of mild-mannered, beloved schoolteacher Cora Gundersun—just before she takes her own life, and many others’, in a shocking act of carnage. When the disturbing contents of her secret journal are discovered, it seems certain that she must have been insane. But Jane Hawk knows better. In the wake of her husband’s inexplicable suicide—and the equally mysterious deaths of scores of other exemplary individuals—Jane picks up the trail of a secret cabal of powerful players who think themselves above the law and beyond punishment. But the ruthless people bent on hijacking America’s future for their own monstrous ends never banked on a highly trained FBI agent willing to go rogue—and become the nation’s most wanted fugitive—in order to derail their insidious plans to gain absolute power with a terrifying technological breakthrough. Driven by love for her lost husband and by fear for the five-year-old son she has sent into hiding, Jane Hawk has become an unstoppable predator. Those she is hunting will have nowhere to run when her shadow falls across them.

Author:

(Amazon) Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirits of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.

I might also note that Goodreads has his average rating pegged at 3.91. Remember Goodreads ratings generally run slightly lower because of their own interpretation of star ratings, which is not the same as those of Amazon. Out of 2,054,464 ratings, he’s garnered 77,801 reviews and his books have been shelved over three million times. I figure that at around 3.8%. It’s difficult even for him to get reviews, huh?!)

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

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!

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!