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Roastmaster (A Coffee Novel)
Roastmaster (A Coffee Novel)
Price: $3.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A very abstract book, July 18, 2014
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a non-reciprocal review.
(There will be spoilers).

I'll have to admit, the style of this novel wasn't quite for me, though it might work for other people. If you read the beginning and enjoy it, you'll probably enjoy the rest of the book.

The changing of tenses was jarring for me. Not only did chapters switch from past tense to present tense, but then there would also be a spattering of "this would happen, that would happen" thrown in there. Sometimes we'd start a chapter with Capri sitting around in present tense and suddenly be talking about something she did last week/month/year. I get what the author was going for with "Capri" being the current story and "John Mallory" being the story from the past, but I wish the tenses had been kept the same.

If this book were a piece of art, I'd say it's an "abstract painting". Sometimes things make sense in it, and other times it has the most bizarre descriptions of what's going on. With how often Machu was described as having a big round head like the moon I could have easily pictured moon from Majora's Mask sitting atop his neck.

There were odd things like, "She looked up as if she saw a morpho blue butterfly" (just an example based on my memory, it might not be written exactly like that). It left me wondering if there's a specific way people are supposed to look when they see a morpho blue butterfly. At parts it was very confusing.

In much the same way, sometimes the dialogue was very strange and it would be hard to imagine people actually talking like that.

That said, that doesn't mean this is a bad book. There's definitely an interesting story there. John Mallory's transition from American life to life in Costa Rica was done pretty well. I was actually convinced she didn't want to leave by the end. A lot of the characters are likeable, and they weren't stuck in a state of "having to do everything right" or "having to do everything wrong". Everyone was all over the place in doing right and wrong.

My best suggestion would be to read a preview and see if it's a style you like, because it keeps the same style throughout.


Life, Everlasting
Life, Everlasting
Price: $3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Touching story, July 5, 2014
This review is from: Life, Everlasting (Kindle Edition)
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a non-reciprocal review.
(There will be spoilers).

After finishing the book, I have to say Theresa and Gino make the story for me. Peter is all right. I felt like a lot of his stuff was just there, although there is some payoff at the end.

But Theresa and Gino are great characters. They feel real, and the way they handle their son's death is portrayed very well. How they treat and feel about each other is realistic, too. They feel like a couple who has been apart much of their life, and who are trying to adjust to living together. While they don't hate each other or anything, they do have some resentments over their choices. And even though they're detached from each other there is still a hint of something there.

I liked when Theresa worried that Gino would get upset if she spent money on herself, and being pleasantly surprised when he seemed okay with it. Gino seemed like the type who didn't talk a lot but he still wanted to support her.

There were parts that offered too many details. For example, discussions about whether to go to X restaurant or Y restaurant. I also never felt like I really knew much about their family in the afterlife. They were mostly a bunch of names for me, while I did get some impressions of the people who were still living.

But overall, I found Theresa and Gino to be great, deep characters going through an incredibly hard situation. I really wanted them to be okay in the end because they both seemed like they deserved it. I liked how they could be detached, but neither was ever portrayed as being horribly wrong or something - they just made some different life choices that the other didn't agree with.

For example, Gino serving in the military for so long, which kept him away from his family. On the other hand, Theresa constantly letting people mooch off of her and giving away their money. Neither was a bad person but you could understand why they would get irritated.

It's a touching book. I'd recommend it for anyone who is looking for a somewhat sad story of a family dealing with the grief of a lost son.


Kindle Publishing To Make $14K+ Per Month & Build Your Own Kindle Empire Without Having To Write One SINGLE Word
Kindle Publishing To Make $14K+ Per Month & Build Your Own Kindle Empire Without Having To Write One SINGLE Word
Price: $3.47

38 of 57 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Big problems, June 24, 2014
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a non-reciprocal review.

One of the first things I noticed about this book was the formatting. The pages all bleed into each other, so the first chapter immediately bleeds into the second chapter, etc. There's also weird spacing after a lot of stuff, as if someone hit return to space it out instead of using page breaks. It's not the first time I've read an indie book that has done this, but I never really mentioned it before. The reason I bring it up this time is because this is a book about creating kindle books, so I expect it to look good.

The table of contents is a mess. There's big paragraphs in it, as well as tons of links with "(Untitled)".

Right at the beginning there's some images proving that the author earns as much as the book proclaims.
I was a little confused because all of the books the author has available are under $4. So, let's be generous and say he was making $2 per book sold. He'd have to sell about 7,000 books a month to make the $14,000.
I noticed his books on their rankings seem to be on average somewhere around #90,000 to #100,000, which means he's selling a few copies, but based on my experience I'd expect them to rank a lot higher if he's selling that many. I don't know, it seemed off to me.

It did feel repetitive and like there was a lot of unneeded information. It started off with explaining what a kindle is. The problem with that is that if someone is reading the ebook - likely on a kindle or similar device - they probably don't need to be told what it is. Likewise, if someone is reading a book about successfully publishing on the kindle, they probably don't need pages and pages about something like "Why kindles are popular".
It reminded me a bit of a forensic book I once bought that decided that it was necessary to provide the reader with definitions to things like 'murderer'.

Then I noticed that in the few pages I'd read it felt like I'd seen some of the same things more than once.

Example:
At 6%:
"If you try to publish in the traditional way, then you might have to wait for months and years to get your manuscript approved and to get a good deal in publishing the book. In the world of publishing, the more you wait, the more money you lose."

At 10%:
"One of the biggest advantages of Kindle publishing lies in the fact that you will not have to be at the mercy of publishing houses to get your book published. This is a huge benefit as losing time is equal to losing money in the publishing world."

At 91%:
"The biggest advantage of Kindle publishing lies in the fact that you will not have to be at the mercy of publishing houses to get your book published. So you do not lose unnecessary time and money over such publishing efforts."

That's right. I may have even missed one or two, but this is a short book and there's three examples of it repeating the exact same thing, sometimes almost word for word. It repeats A LOT.

At 19% there's a big list of 'example articles' which are then repeated on the very next page.

I also found it odd that at 12% there's a graph demonstrating why it's a good idea to write romance ebooks, because people prefer their romances as ebooks. Why? Because at the bottom of the list was cookbooks, where people vastly prefered those to be printed over ebook versions. And the author is saying that he sells so many ebooks, and almost all of the ebooks he has available are about cooking.
When he gets to talking about cookbooks, he puts up a list of places to take recipes from. Not just the text, but the images, too. People own the rights to their work, so I can't agree with taking it. The images, as well. Someone took that image and someone owns the right to that image, you can't just take it and profit off of it. The people who create that work deserve credit and pay for their work.
I can say that if I was reading a book and saw someone using images I had commissioned for my book, I would not be happy.

There were also errors:
"...I am going to show you publishing hot bestseller books and I have break that method..."

"At this point, you should have book with you."

At one point it threw this out:
"Don't put a bunch of PLR stuff together."

But the book didn't mention PLR or what it was earlier.

A lot of times the book just tells you to go somewhere else, like this:

"If you want formatting tips, it's available on amazon.com."

This book is FULL of lists of links that could probably easily be found online.

Also, it showed more examples later on in the book of the author's success. The problem? The author blacks out all of the parts that would show what book it is. I could easily snap a screenshot of a bestseller, cover the ASIN, and pretend that I'm the #1 bestseller. I have no idea why the author would hide this information if they had books that were bestsellers.

I have a lot of major problems with this book. Of course, encouraging theft and plagiarism is at the top. It's formatted poorly, has a lot of errors (poor grammar/missing commas or periods/etc) and encourages a lot of copying and pasting of other people's work. This book was published on Jun 6, 2014. It has 63 5-star reviews (Jun 24, 2014). Need I say more about that? This book pads out its few pages by repeating a lot of the same things over and over.

As a matter of fact, take a look at this: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J19FBR8/ref=pdp_new_dp_review

Compare it with this book's page: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU7OLXA/ref=pdp_new_dp_review

Look a little familiar? Looks like the author published essentially the same thing twice.

All of this got me wondering, so I did a little more research.
So here we go:
From this book: "The Ninja Secret That Will Allow You To Create Bestselling Kindle Books Without Having To Lift A Finger"
Look what I found over here (http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Buster-Formula-Publishers-Success-ebook/dp/B00JUAJSNQ): "The ninja tactic that will allow you to create bestselling kindle books without having to lift a finger."

From this book: "He has opened doors again to his Kindle 1-on-1 Coaching Class for a very limited time for $100 per hour. Muhammad will be raise the price to $1000 per hour once he get 5 students."
Over here ( http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Money-Mastery-Publishing-Revealed-ebook/dp/B00DVWSR40 ): "It not only works for myself, but the many other people that have been through this program. People have paid me over $1800 ($300/hour) to learn this information from me through 1-on-1 coaching on my blog, ..."

This book: "Take action today and buy this book so you can start making passive income online through my Kindle publishing method for a limited time discount."
Other book: "If you want to learn how to make passive income online from Amazon Kindle Publishing, then you absolutely cannot miss out on downloading this book!"

This book: "Simply click the "buy" button on this page and you'll easily be able to read this book from your computer, Kindle device, tablet or smart phone."
Other book: "Simply click the "buy" button on this page and you'll easily be able to read Kindle Money Mastery from your computer, Kindle device, tablet or smart phone."

It even offers a bonus video just like the other book.

So, there's more than a little bit about this book that's suspect. I'm sorry, I couldn't rate this more than 1 star.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2014 11:07 PM PDT


Moonlight
Moonlight
Price: $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice, quick romance, May 26, 2014
This review is from: Moonlight (Kindle Edition)
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a non-reciprocal review.
(This review will contain spoilers).

I usually don't comment on the covers, but I will mention I like this cover. I'm a sucker for art.

This is a short but sweet book. Because of its length, I'd say the story revolves more around a concept than developing characters. We fly through certain portions of their lives, being told a lot about what happens rather than shown. If you're looking for a quick, interesting take on a tragic love story that's fine. It's a pretty sweet, innocent love story with an ending that is up for interpretation.

The narration is stilted but I believe that's done purposefully, to make it sound like it was translated from Japanese. I read Japanese translations all the time so it didn't really bother me. The dialogue sounded more like a historical manga than a modern one to me, but I don't pick up a lot of romances so it could just be modeled after a genre I don't follow.

Honestly, the author could probably take this exact same story and flesh it out into something much bigger. As I mentioned, we get told a lot, so it would be easy to expand on parts and spend a lot more time with the characters. The overall story is pretty solid, and it's a good concept.

It would be a good book for someone to pick up if they're looking for a quick, romantic read and don't mind some sad twists.


Tackling the Imago
Tackling the Imago
by Anyer Feanix
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.69
8 used & new from $11.68

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, May 25, 2014
This review is from: Tackling the Imago (Paperback)
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a non-reciprocal review.
(This review will contain spoilers).

This was a very interesting book. Written somewhat like a diary, it follows the story of Gina as she studies English.
I think it's a great exploration of someone's psyche. There's not too much hand-holding - Gina does analyze herself quite a bit, but it's not done in an unnatural way. She mentions events in her life that have led her to be self-deprecating and desperate for attention. It all makes sense, and in many ways Gina is very relatable. It's easy to feel for her and root for her.

As a main character, Gina can be amusing and 'quirky', but isn't quirky in a way that feels forced. She expresses a lot of personal thoughts that most people probably have at times, from naughty fantasies to introspection. She can be very humorous and sometimes looks back at her own thoughts and gags when she was being overly melodramatic.

Likewise, her 'romance' with D is a breath of fresh air compared to most books. I've read a lot of books where the romance can be boiled down to, "I saw him and he was hot, so we're in love". In this book a lot of characters take jabs at D's looks. With the way Gina describes him compared to the way others describe him, you could see a fairly normal looking guy who is attractive to her, and the attraction doesn't necessarily stem from his looks. She gets a lot of praise from him and they spend time dueling with their wits, to the amusement of both.
A real chemistry is developed between them and built up over the entire span of the book. They both felt like people instead of caricatures who existed to fill a romance quota.

One of the strangest things about this book that I both disliked but understood was the word choices. This book has a bad case of what some would call "thesaurus abuse". It can take a reader out of a book because it sounds stunted and unnatural, and if you don't happen to know all the obscure words you either lose the meaning or have to pause to look it up.
Unlike most cases, this actually makes sense for this particular book. The story revolves around characters who are learning English as a second language, and the person writing the entries to 'practice her English' mentions things like memorizing words from the dictionary. Someone learning from a dictionary wouldn't know which words people actually use. Having studied a second language, I can understand that well. Memorizing dialogue or vocabulary doesn't give you much insight to how people actually speak.

Still, it happens so much that it's distracting.
For one example, Gina used a word that I've never heard anyone say or write before, "simulacrum". I was curious, "Are people tossing this word about and I just missed it somehow?", so I looked it up. Google brought up half a million hits. Every single link on the first page was to dictionaries or articles explaining what the word means. Not a single one was people naturally using it in their writing. Other word choices get similar results. "Apotropaic", "desideratum", "potvaliancy"... some with far less results than the first example. Every word you've never heard of has been dug up from obscurity to make a brief cameo.

The writing style left me confused sometimes. Just as an example of how some parts might be written: Gina might be sitting next to D, go into a metaphorical paragraph about insects or something, and then the next paragraph she'd be running away while 'pulling her clothes back on'. And I'd be left wondering, "Wait, when did the clothes come off?"

There were also times when the book lingered on something when I was ready to move on. If Gina was anxious about a test I could understand that, but I didn't necessarily want to read several pages about it.

Overall, it was a good read with a lot of depth to it. It's a good book to pick up if you're looking for something different.


Source of the River
Source of the River
Price: $3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good fantasy read, May 10, 2014
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a non-reciprocal review.
(This review will contain spoilers).

This was an overall enjoyable story. I liked the majority of the characters. I think Kaiya stuck out the most for me.

I was surprised the main characters didn't meet up with the antagonist longer than they did. The part where they cross paths was actually very short, and the rest of the book is essentially telling two different stories: one story where the protagonists are trying to solve a problem and another where the antagonist is trying to gain power. I can see this is building up to a larger battle in future volumes.

Sometimes the story over explained things.

"The nighttime air in the mountains was cool despite it being early summer. She pulled her cloak a bit closer to her skin, but the chill she felt had more to do with her nerves than the weather. She could sense the magic emitting from deep inside the cave and felt compelled to investigate."

There's nothing wrong with the paragraph, but we already know the information provided by the last sentence. We've been told it several times by this point and it doesn't elaborate on how chilly the air is, so the last sentence could be removed entirely.
Sometimes it feels like the author wants to make sure she got a certain point across and repeats things like that. This can take away the 'punch' behind some lines, though, because sometimes being succinct is better.

""She has no cause to harm them now," Kaiya argued. "She must be stopped, peacefully or not." Her words were true. She would go to any length to prevent another dwarf's death. She could not bear the sight of another devastated family."

Like the previous example, we've already been told that Kaiya would do anything to stop this, so it doesn't need repeated. Imagine if this paragraph was shortened down to this:

""She has no cause to harm them now," Kaiya argued. "She must be stopped, peacefully or not.""

Let her own words speak for her. Then the power of what she's saying isn't dulled by exposition, and the conversation is less spaced out. Or what about this:

""She has no cause to harm them now." Kaiya's eyes lingered on the mourning family. "She must be stopped, peacefully or not.""

In other words, there doesn't need to be as much hand-holding.

It certainly wasn't enough to take away from my enjoyment of the story. I can understand why the author did it, but I think it's something she can look at when she continues writing.

The love stories also didn't work for me. I didn't dislike the characters. It's just that they didn't know each other for very long, so when they were struggling with being apart it felt a bit forced. If it was something more like, "She was worried about their safety" rather than "She couldn't bear to be apart from him" it would have worked better for me. They'd only just met so it would have taken a lot more to convince me that they were sick with love.
And it wasn't that there wasn't anything for them to love about each other, but it came off more as "She's pretty, I love her" and vice versa.

I did like the parents in the book. For the brief time River's dad was around I liked him. I think Darvil is probably one of the more interesting characters in the book. He both expresses a differing opinion and plays a supportive role.

I liked the setup of the dwarven village. There's only a few places the book concentrated on, and they're established well.
The writing is very clean and clear. I never found myself confused by anything that was going on.

This is a good read for people who like fantasy, and I can see the next volume(s) building up to a bigger conflict.


Draykon (The Draykon Series Book 1)
Draykon (The Draykon Series Book 1)
Price: $0.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun fantasy read, April 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There will be spoilers in this review.

I wasn't positive what to expect when I began Draykon. Right away there is a map of the fantasy world, and different areas of the world seem to have different versions of day and night. In some places, it's always day. In others, it's always night. And in yet others days and nights come and go like normal.

I liked many of the characters. Eva was good. She was strong, but not impervious to mistakes. I found her attitude towards Vale and marriage refreshing. In many books it's "true love within five minutes" or "they hate each other but really it's true love" and other cliches. In contrast, Eva and Vale were companions. She didn't feel strongly about wanting to marry him, but she didn't complain either. She became engaged because she felt it was the right thing to do for logical reasons, and she and Vale had a comradery. Perhaps it wasn't romantic but it was nice to see a couple who were trying to decide what to do with their lives and not necessarily knowing. They treated each other well and had respect for each other.

The world created for the book is nice as well. It's expansive and consistent. I actually think this is the type of book that would benefit greatly from artwork because I wasn't always sure what everything looked like, and there was quite a bit of stuff. Things like pictures of Llandry's home and of the small animals would have been great.

I'd say the downside for me was Llandry herself. It's not that I particularly hated her - she was all right. I liked that she was a jeweler and had a passion for it.
It was more her anxiety that got to me. Everything she did or experienced she was anxious about. She was a nervous wreck 24/7. It's possible to do this with a character and be fine, but it got in the way for me in this story because her experiences didn't have the excitement of everyone else'. While Eva, Tren and the others were off battling wills with dangerous beasts, Llandry was barely able to handle a friendly stranger visiting her home. It made me want to spend more time with Eva and people who were actively doing something.
Also, in contrast with Eva and Vale's relationship, Llandry brought some cliches to the table. For example, she obviously liked Devary, and when Devary met with a another woman he was amiable with she and Llandry had to be at odds. This sort of thing happens all the time in movies and stories. I much prefered Eva's relationship.
Even when Eva and Tren became close, it was over a period of time and after going through a lot together, so I prefered both of her relationships to Llandry's.

The story was good, though. It was colorful and highly imaginative, and it's obvious a lot of thought went into it. It would be a great read for people who love fantasy.


Vampire Romance: Life with an Alpha Vampire
Vampire Romance: Life with an Alpha Vampire
Price: $2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs editing., April 20, 2014
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a non-reciprocal review.
(This review will contain spoilers).

"Vampire Romance", if I were to describe it briefly, is essentially a pornographic short story, which I don't have a problem with. I enjoy stuff like this once in awhile.

I think the main issue is that it reads like the rough draft to a story. There were a lot of errors. Sometimes there would be several sentences with missing words on the same page, and there were a lot of places that needed commas/apostrophes/quotes that were missing.

For example:
"Hannah knew the broken leg."
instead of
"Hannah knew it was a broken leg."

There were parts that could have worked great if they were revised. For example:
"The punctures look like nasty snake bites from a giant snake."

As it is, the sentence is repetitive.

For what the story is trying to be it could work fine if it was fixed up. I don't mind Hannah as a character, though I'm not fond of her relationship with Jake. At least she realizes it's abusive and horrible.
A lot of the sex is, oddly, skipped over. A lot of the story is also told instead of shown. I don't always mind this, especially when it's such a short story, but there's only a few scenes centering around the brothel that we really see much of.

Like I said before, I think the best way I can describe this is to say it's like a rough draft. I'd give about a 2.5 right now.


Time Shifters: Episode One of the Chronicles of the Harekaiian
Time Shifters: Episode One of the Chronicles of the Harekaiian
Price: $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting take on time travel, April 4, 2014
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a non-reciprocal review.
(This review will contain spoilers).

Time Shifters is a fairly short story. It does a pretty good job of pulling the reader into its world, where, for Akalya, shifting around through time and space is completely normal.

She and others like her blend into the background as they go through life, but someone is starting to kidnap them, and she decides she should do something to save them.

Akalya is a pretty strong character. I like that she's a fairly old character, and I also like that she definitely had strong opinions about what she liked. I didn't feel like she was a blank slate.

She's pretty realistic in her motivations. On one hand, she doesn't really know the other Harekaiian all that well. But she feels compelled to save them - not because she has some superb sense of justice, but there's a layer of problems facing her. One of the captives is someone she's familiar with and wants to help. She's also worried about the fact that her people are being kidnapped, and she could be next. There's also a smaller sense of not wanting to turn her back on them. All of her feelings about it are very understandable.

The way she uses her powers to solve problems is interesting. She has a great advantage over others, but she's not invincible, and she doesn't know what tricks the enemy is using.

It was a fun read. It did drag at parts where things got over-described. For example, using her powers makes her hungry and she often stops to eat in the book, but I didn't need to know exactly what she was eating every time. Sometimes she made mental commentary - like comparing shakes in the late 60's to modern shakes. Other times it was just a list of food.
I think the other weak spot was when she was with Marcus. We get told more about the time they spent together and don't get shown too much of it, so the connection we're supposed to believe they formed during their talk wasn't as strong as it could have been. I also got a little lost in how he got to where he was. She teleported him back in time, and had him bring her food in another place, but after he brought her food what happened to him?
In the spot where it's initially described, he kisses her, brings her food, and then is sort of forgotten in the narrative. It doesn't say he leaves or vanishes or anything. It's like the book just forgot he was there, and the Akalya travels through time on her own. So wouldn't he have still been left in that time? I got a bit lost at that part.

It was a nice start for a series though, with a strong lead and an interesting plot.


Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (The Guardians)
Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (The Guardians)
by William Joyce
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.41
98 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A whimsical tale, April 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I picked up this book because I heard about it after the "Rise of the Guardians" movie came out.

First, I'd like to mention how nice the presentation for this book is. It looks beautiful, and it has nice inside art, too. It's one of the better looking books I've seen.

The way it's written makes me think of a person sitting in a chair, telling a story to a bunch of people around them. It took me a little while to get into it. It definitely has its own, unique style.

It's very whimsical and there's a lot of humor in the writing (for example, North, the character, making a compass that points to himself).

It was enjoyable. The characters were likable, and it had a certain feel to its world. It was "Earth" and yet full of magic and everything seemed to have intelligent - whether a beam of light from the moon or an insect.

It had a fairytale like charm, where it could spout out anything as existing in this world and the explanation is "because". It didn't worry about trying to explain the science behind things. For instance, a little girl is tossed high enough to reach the clouds, and lands safely because she's caught. Obviously she's still be a pancake, but this is the sort of story where cows can jump over moons or trees can come to life and it's not questioned.

I did enjoy it and plan on getting the next book sometime.

I also appreciate that while, obviously, this wasn't the end of the series, the book did have its own end. This particular adventure finished instead of stopping a story somewhere in the middle and asking people to buy the next book.


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