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Book Report on Books I’ve Read

Death Comes E-Calling by Leslie O’Kane (Cozy Mystery)
An e-card designer and mom with two children returns to live in her hometown while her husband works overseas for a year. She receives a mysterious and urgent letter from one of her old teachers asking her to visit. Before she can visit, the elderly woman dies. Was she murdered?
Some nice twists occur that involve the designer’s previous classmates. Returning to your childhood home and reconnecting isn’t always fun.
For a cozy easy bedtime read, I’d give it a 3.0.

Seven Daughters by Jessica Lourey (Paranormal)
A bit slow starting. Deals with long standing grudges between two families in a small town. There is an underlying thread of witchery that makes the story intriguing.
For a witch novel easy bedtime read, I’d give it a 3.3.

Lodestone (Witch Hunt) by Wendy Scott (Paranormal)
This witch story hooked me right away and kept me reading. Sabrina is a likeable young witch who faces challenges far beyond her. The author made this character a complex mix of strong/weak; naive/wise. An enjoyable character. If you like witch stories, you will enjoy this one.
A 5.

Circled by Anne McAneny (Murder mystery)
The death of a young girl, Macy, sets into play a string of tragedies that span more than a decade. Protagonist, Chloe, is an interesting, complex character. The story is a tapestry of past and present with unusual characters that kept me reading.
It may be a little confusing right at first, but even then it hooked me. The ending is surprising and well-done.
A definite 5.

Dear Lorna by L.E. Perez (Lesbian love story)
If you enjoy love stories–as opposed to everyone jumps right into bed/romance/sex stories–you will enjoy this one regardless of your gender preference. A surprising book with a bit of a convoluted beginning, but well worth the effort to continue as it soon becomes clear why the author chose this particular writing style: it brings the story alive.
No sex, no graphic violence, but a feeling of how love can grow, be misunderstood, get all tangled up in our fears, and heal in spite of everything.
I strongly recommend this book. A definite 5.

The Trouble with Dying by Maggie LePage (Paranormal)
Faith is dead, but will she stay dead? With help from her Gran’s ghost, Faith must navigate the world that lies in between life and death. The story is told from a coma/potential ghost perspective which makes it a bit different than most stories like this. A love story with a twist.
A nice 4.

Rating of the books from most to least enjoyed:
1. Dear Lorna
2. Circled
3. Lodestone
4. The Trouble with Dying
5. Seven Daughters
6. Death Comes E-Calling

I don’t rate books below a 3 star. If the book, in my opinion is less than a 3 star read, I avoid rating for several reasons: (Most of the time, I avoid reading it, too!)
a. It may simply be a matter of taste. If I had to rate some books, they would be in the negatives. And, that may not be fair to other readers who might enjoy those books.
b. An author works hard to write a novel. If I truly feel the novel lacks in some areas of craft, I will personally write to that author and detail my issues with her/his book. The author gets a heads-up without getting slammed on Amazon. Unfortunately, there are enough Trolls out there willing to rate books at a one star when they have never even read the book–just bought it so they could be “verified” purchasers then returned it immediately for their money back.

PleaseReview

Though life is busy, please take a few minutes after reading a book, hop over to Amazon and drop a review. Reviews do not have to be complex, detailed monsters–just two lines about something you liked in the story. Amazon also makes it a bit easier by having easy-to-click buttons for things like Characters–Flat, Developed, Complex and so forth. After clicking those, add in your two-lines and give it a star rating and you’re done!
The reasons I specifically mention Amazon:
a. Many advertisers only count reviews posted on Amazon. These advertisers won’t look at a book unless it has a minimum of ten reviews–usually they want more than that–with a total of 4.5 star rating. Without access to advertisers, Indie Authors are hard put to get their books noticed by the reading public.
b. When a book gains 50 reviews on Amazon, the book will begin showing up in several of Amazon’s feeds. These feeds get the book in front of the reading public.

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#Reviews: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

REVIEWS: The Good, Bad, and Ugly
Your opinion counts—especially with Independent Authors AKA #IndieAuthors—those of us who choose to write and to publish our own work. I read every review I receive, and I take them seriously. What the reader says matters to me.
What is even more important for the reader to understand is that reviews and word-of-mouth can make or break an Indie book. We swim, or drown, in an ocean of books. creeping fog on ocean
Between 600,000 and 1 million new books are published every year. With limited advertising budgets and no large house to create “buzz” for us, we have to depend on rankings, especially rankings on Amazon, to have our books placed far enough toward the top of the queue that readers who are randomly searching–say ‘mystery’–will happen upon our books. Two ways to get good rankings on Amazon is to either sell a lot of books every day and/or amass at least twenty-five 4 and 5 star reviews.
Unfortunately, Indie authors also face the terrible monsters of the deep. Beneath the choppy waters of the ocean of books lurk Review Trolls. Here is a rare photo of a Review Troll, note the wide open mouth getting ready to gobble up a Indie Author: Sea Monster Yawning
Review trolls are people who purchase a book, keep it a day or two and then return the book without reading it. That person can now post an Amazon VERIFIED purchase review. The reviews that trolls publish are always meant to wreck an author’s ratings. Like black hat hackers, review trolls are about unnecessary destruction. Their ratings, however, will pull down the ranking of the book that they attack unless that book has enough 4 and 5 star ratings to successfully counterbalance the trolls’ attacks.
With the challenges involved in getting very busy people to write and post reviews and fending off troll attacks, Indie authors face advertisers who won’t even consider their book for their publications and email blasts unless the book has at least ten 4 and 5 star reviews on AMAZON! They don’t count Barnes and Noble or Smashwords reviews. Everyone knows that advertising is one way to get your book in front of a larger audience. Classic chicken and egg situation. Advertising could result in more reviews, but you can’t advertise with the really good advertisers without ten reviews.
You see, a reader’s opinion really does matter, especially to an Indie author. The next time you finish a book, please consider zipping over to Amazon and quickly posting an honest review.
For me, and for many Indie authors who put in incredibly long hours, we thank you!
AMAZON REVIEW EXCERPTS FROM READERS:
STREET HARVEST (SPECIAL CRIMES TEAM, SECOND BOOK. ALL BOOKS IN THIS SERIES CAN BE READ OUT OF SEQUENCE) Pat Rummenie says:
Everyone with a social conscience who also loves a good mystery should read this well written book.
OLD WOMAN GONE (SPECIAL CRIMES TEAM, THIRD BOOK) Amazon Customer says:
The mixture of police procedures and Native American spiritualism are needed to solve the crime and rescue the two women. The author knows the setting well and uses it to enhance the story.
BACKLASH! (SPECIAL CRIMES TEAM, FOURTH BOOK) Coppercreek says:
I love crime novels, and this really hit the spot.
RUN OR DIE (STAND-ALONG MYSTERY/THRILLER) KtHack8 says:
I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a story about life and finding the will to overcome adversity.
RUN OR DIE (STAND-ALONE MYSTERY/THRILLER) Denise Gayl says:
Thought provoking about the injustices of bigotry and racism, and the ray of sunshine that there are people “out there” willing to accept, love, and help others even though their lifestyles are unlike their own. Well done.
HARD ROAD HOME (LITERARY, COMING-OF-AGE) pwindsinspirations says:
This story brought out emotions in me I had hidden away. I, too, was abused and afraid to tell anyone for fear of only making it worse for myself….. I liked how it took me from despair to triumph and the way the writer brought that about.
HARD ROAD HOME (LITERARY, COMING-OF-AGE) Denise Gayl says:
A very good read. As a mother of 2 girls, the subject matter is a bit difficult at times. But, in the end, it shows that young women pitted against adversity through no fault of their own can come back strong and live good lives. Is thought provoking and makes me realize there is much that needs to be done in this society to help young people thrive.
THIS is why I write! Thank you, Readers! YOU are my inspiration!
katrina leavereview

SKETCH OF A MURDER, Special Crimes Team, is FREE. Run over and grab your copy! http://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ

To view my other titles go to: http://www.amazon.com/Aya-Walksfar/e/B00CMVAKKK

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#READERS HOLD THE KEY

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In this brave new world of literature, all the old rules have been tossed aside. #Ebooks have been blamed for this phenomenon, but the ebook revolution is only guilty in that it allowed more books to reach the public. According to Bowker, a respected name in publishing industry, over 3500 books are published each DAY! Currently,there are literally millions of books available.Competition for reader attention is fierce.
So, authors are reinventing the novel. A novel used to be defined as a complete story –with a distinct beginning, middle and end–consisting of seventy thousand words, more or less. In today’s world, novels may have as few as fifty thousand words or they may have over a hundred thousand words; the reader might reach the end of the book only to discover that the last page is a cliff-hanger and the second book–which may not yet be available yet–must be purchased to continue the story without any guarantees that book two will provide a satisfying climax and ending. This type of book is usually not labeled as a ‘cliff-hanger’.
Personally, this is when I am sorely tempted to fling the book at the wall then stomp it for good measure! (Unfortunately, I read a lot of e-books and reading devices do not like being bounced off of walls!)
Serial novels are another device designed to hook a reader. These books have an ending, but the main storyline has not ended–much like a television serial. These books are sometimes labeled as a ‘series’, or less often they are labeled as a ‘serial’.
Book series–not to be confused with books that actually belong to a serial story–are frequently written. With some series–like Kay Hooper’s earlier books in the Bishop series–the individual books can be read as stand-alone novels and/or read out of sequence without compromising enjoyment of the individual or of the series.
As a reader, I enjoy the flexibility this offers. This is reflected in the fact that as a writer my Special Crimes Team series (found at http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar) follows this model–the books can be read out of sequence.
Length and endings are not the only things rapidly changing. Gone are the days when romance novels stop the action at the bedroom doorway and mystery novels hint at the blood and gore, yet leave the details to the reader’s imagination. Scenes containing sex and violence have become increasingly graphic and prolific.
At a romance writer’s conference that I attended this summer, one publisher stated that readers not only wanted more graphic sex scenes, but that they were bored with plain vanilla sex. At one time, writers would have regarded such a statement as bordering on the demand for pornography. Today it is more along the lines of ‘business as usual’.
I read one of a well-known writer’s recent works in which I finally defaulted to skimming pages of the novel because various graphic sex scenes were endlessly repeated with a variety of partners. I never did find an actual storyline, unless the sex was it.
Then there are the novels that grossed a huge profit in very recent times, but have been called by some people in the BDSM community a bad example of true BDSM, but a good example of the glorification of domestic violence. (Actually, the Fifty Shades of Gray series follows the warning signs for the entire cycle of domestic violence. In my other life as a counselor, I referred young women like that to psychologists or therapists who specialized in treating victims of domestic violence.)
As a reader, I find graphic sex and violence that is not intimately tied to furthering the storyline boring, at best. On the other hand, as an author I write novels in which graphic sex and violence occur; however, I work diligently to be sure that those scenes are necessary for the development and movement of the storyline. As a reader, I enjoy novels that adhere to this general rule.
Another striking difference in novels of bygone years and novels of today is the level of profanity. In the past a writer who used “crap!” was considered racy. Nowadays, books contain a large variety of words considered to be profanity.
Again, as a reader, I look for novels where the word types used are congruent with the characters speaking. A rough and tumble detective in a hardcore mystery or crime novel might very well curse while an amateur detective in a cozy mystery might be skating the line by murmuring, “Oh, poo!”
Even in the face of changes that they do not like, readers frequently feel that they have little to no influence on what is written and published. In reality, readers are the key element in a novel’s success.
The reader’s input is mainly measured in four ways: 1. Sales numbers 2. Reader reviews 3. Personal feedback from beta readers and from the general public 4. Word of mouth recommendations.
Of those four methods that measure the reading public’s reactions to a novel, reader reviews and word of mouth recommendations are the most important ones. People browsing to find another book to read will often look for “social proof” that the book is worth their time. Reader reviews and word of mouth recommendations are that “social proof”. Unlike word of mouth recommendations, reader reviews can be directly linked to sales increases. An increase in positive reader reviews will increase the sales of a book.
Because readers,like everyone else in our busy society, have a large number of demands on their time, reviews are sometimes difficult to obtain. As a reader, I will often end my day by sitting down to read for a while before I go to bed. As a voracious reader, it is not unusual for me to read anywhere from five to ten books per week.
Each review requires approximately five minutes to write and post on Amazon or Goodreads–the sites most widely used to find new books. Five minutes doesn’t sound like a lot of time to invest in such a worthy cause, but when time to relax is at a premium it can feel like ‘one more chore’.
In order to combat this feeling, while supporting authors whose work I enjoy, I keep a pad of paper and a pen handy. While I read I jot down notes on the points I liked best about the book. Authors love long, detailed reviews, but a two-sentence review that summarizes what a reader enjoyed most–one reader’s review focused on her enjoyment of the character Grandma Greene in the novel Old Woman Gone(http://www.amazon.com/Woman-Gone-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00OICBEV0). In Backlash (http://www.amazon.com/Backlash-Special-Crimes-Team-Book-ebook/dp/B00W7UJAWA), a woman identified with the struggles faced by several supporting characters–is deeply appreciated (especially if the star rating is four or five! As an author, those reviews make the long hours of writing, editing and rewriting worth every minute spent).
There you have it–with a few minutes of your time you, the reader, decide whether a novel succeeds or fails. In so doing, you ultimately choose everything from the length of future novels to the amount of profanity used to how graphic the scenes containing sex and violence will be written. You are the future of literature.
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT
Do you enjoy:
1. Short novels of less than 200 pages?
2. Do you feel short-changed by a novel that does not contain over two hundred pages?
3. Do you like cliff-hanger endings?
4. Do you buy serial novels, with serials defined much the way television serials–such as Special Victims Unit–are defined?
5. Would you rather have a series of novels connected by the characters, but still able to be read out of sequence as a stand-alone novel?
6. Are you comfortable with graphic sex scenes used in romantic situations during which sex would be a natural progression?
8. Do you feel violence should be depicted graphically in the more hardcore crime and mystery novels, if it is a natural occurrence within the storyline?
9. Are you comfortable with the use of profanity by characters depicted as people who would likely use such language?
10. What would you like to see different in the development of novels?

katrina leavereview

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