Book Review – How to Get Good Reviews on Amazon by Theo Rogers

How to Get Good Reviews on Amazon: A Guide for Independent Authors and SellersHow to Get Good Reviews on Amazon: A Guide for Independent Authors and Sellers by Theo Rogers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this quick but satisfying read, Theo Rogers gives some very useful insight into the rules and mindsets of the Amazon reviewer culture. He demonstrates many of the pitfalls that too many fall into when soliciting reviews.

I can vouch for the fact this this author practices what he preaches. My review is a result of his following his own guidelines.

I have enjoyed gaining a better understanding of amazon reviewing and and newly enthused about my own reviews. Even better than that, I feel much more equipped to handle this aspect of promotion in the future when I am a published author.

Anybody who is interested in marketing a book should definitely read this one.

(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

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Book Review – Structuring You Novel by K.M. Weiland

Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding StoryStructuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story by K.M. Weiland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The discovery of story structure was extremely eye-opening to me. In ‘Structuring Your Novel’ K.M Weiland gives you the tools that you need to craft a story from idea to manuscript. She covers the subject in detail, providing a multitude of real-world examples at every step along the way. Weiland then proceeds to detail scene structure what was equally eye-opening for me. If story structure gives you the tools to create your overview, then scene structure shows you how to put each nut and bolt in place. Finally we delve down to the sentence level to help us flesh out our scenes.

If I were to recommend just one book on writing to any aspiring author it would be this one. In its pages you will find the lessons that every writer needs to learn. My own writing has improved dramatically from these lessons. I give this book my highest recommendation to anyone who wants to know how stories are put together.

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Book Review – A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr

A Cast of Stones (The Staff and the Sword, #1)A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story centers around a very unlikely hero. Eroll is a drunk. His life consists of earning enough coin to spend his nights in the ale barrel. When he is unexpectedly thrust into a dangerous game of crown and church politics he is forced to rise above his weaknesses and become a new man.

I loved the protagonist of this book. We spend the entire story deep in his point of view, which makes him immediately sympathetic, despite his many flaws. Seeing his growth and transformation is a lot of fun.

The book features a very Christian-like religion. The similarity was clearly intentional and nicely done. The “magic system” of the book was closely linked into the theology of the world and draws inspiration from Christian spirituality. I enjoyed learning more about it as details were gradually let out through the progression of the book.

A Cast of Stones features strong characters who I grew attached to, and a thrilling plot. The book ties up its immediate conflicts but leaves plenty of room for sequels. I look forward to reading more in this world.

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Game Review Video – Broken Age (Double Fine) by Tim Schaffer

In today’s episode of Stories I talk about the Double-Fine adventure game Broken Age.

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Book Review – The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

The War of the WorldsThe War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An absolute classic of science fiction. We take alien invasion stories for granted these days, but when people read The War of the Worlds for the first time, they were experiencing something absolutely new. It is impressive to think that this book was written in the nineteenth century.

There is a lot of action in this book, and the description gave me vivid pictures in my head. I really did enjoy the clash of alien technology in Victorian England. I’d actually like to see a movie adaptation that keeps the story in its original setting.

The big weakness I found in this book was the characters. All the characters in this book, including the protagonist, were blobs. Only the most insignificant characters even had names. We would care much more deeply about the plight of these people if we knew more about them.

The ending might be described as deus ex machina (in a very literal sense) but it was well foreshadowed so I didn’t have a problem with it. Actually I really enjoyed the end of the book.

The edition I read included an introduction by Orson Scott Card, which really opened my eyes to the themes of the book, and made me think as I read the novel.

All in all a great sci-fi story that deserves its place as a classic and forefather of all alien invasion stories.

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Australia Day Book and Movie Recommendations

Yesterday was Australia Day. My family celebrated by creating a series of videos where we recommend Australian books and movies over a BBQ lunch. Our kids get in on the act with their own recommendations as well.

Part 1 is on my channel:

Part 2 is on my wife’s channel.

Happy Australia Day!

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Book Review: S by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

S.S. by J.J. Abrams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a clever idea. What J.J. Abrams accomplished for film with Cloverfield, he accomplishes in book form with S. This is much more than a book, it is an experience. It makes you a part of the story. The reader is essentially a character who has discovered this book full of annotations between two people.

The novel Ship of Thesus is interesting, but the real story is in the annotations. This is the story of Jen and Eric as they study this book together, and uncover its dangerous secrets. It is also the story of V.M Stracka and F.X. Caldeira. There is mystery, intrigue danger and romance.

I don’t think this is the kind of book that you can fully appreciate with just one reading. There is a lot to take in here. I suspect there is plenty to discover which I have not yet uncovered.

J.J Abrams is a lover of non-linear story-telling, and this book certainly makes use of this. The colour of the pen used in annotations makes it clear what point in time the conversations are taking place. The hand-writing makes it clear which character is writing. An alternative way to read this book would be to each all the early annotations, then go back and read the next level of annotations etc.

If you’re looking for something different that pulls you into its own world then you’ll love S.

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Video Review – Amish Vampires in Space by Kerry Nietz

Today I kick off Season 2 of my youTube show Stories. In this first episode I talk about Amish Vampires in Space by Kerry Nietz.

This book is a serious science fiction drama that looks at what happens when vastly different cultures are forced together in the depths of space.

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Book Review – Whole Pieces (7 Hours) by Ronnie Kendig

Whole Pieces (7 Hours #5)Whole Pieces by Ronie Kendig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great instalment in the 7 Hours series. In addition to bringing her trademark military story to the series, Ronnie Kendig gives it a little twist as the protagonist, Hawk, steals Thomas Constant’s watch, allowing him some additional control over his changes to the timestream, or does it? This book had a nicely satisfying ending.

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Consolidation, Nooble & Agents Who CARE—What’s Ahead for 2014 in Publishing

So 2014 has arrived. I stumbled upon an interesting article this morning. Kristen Lamb gives some fascinating predictions for the publishing world in 2014. Definitely worth a read.

Consolidation, Nooble & Agents Who CARE—What's Ahead for 2014 in Publishing.

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