Monthly Archives: August 2012


Hey everyone,

Sorry for not having posted reviews for a few weeks.

I have been traveling quite a bit and found myself behind on my goals.

I’ve finished reading three new books and simply have not yet penned their reviews.  Apologies to these authors.  My plan is to have them done and posted after the holiday weekend sometime next week.

Thanks for everyone’s understanding!

Book Review: Amazon Categories

Promotion on Amazon – Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers: But That’s Not All They Do

Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Aggie Villanueva
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Young writers are frequently dismayed when they learn simply publishing their work does not result in immediate sales.  Even the best novels will have stagnant sales if readers don’t know about them.  But how does one effectively bring visibility to their work without spending a fortune on marketing?

In “Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers…” author Aggie Villanueva suggests that one of the simplest and most cost-effective (free!) ways is to let someone else do this work for you.  Someone with an enormous database of reader’s buying habits who can perfectly match their preferences with your work.  Who is this powerful benefactor? Amazon of course –  the world’s largest bookseller.  On Amazon, your book’s selling page looks exactly like every other book including today’s bestsellers.  It is the best level playing field there is.  The key to connecting potential readers with your book is Amazon’s “categories” claims Villanueva.

Is your book science fiction for middle grade readers?  Use these categories and put Amazon’s database of reader preferences to work via their various promotional engines (etc. Amazon’s emails to readers informing them of your work).

Amazon’s categorization alone won’t make your book a bestseller but it will greatly increase its visibility to readers interested in your genre.

Villanueva instructs readers on how to effectively choose categories for their books and provides examples for her own work and how she achieve top 10 placement and a number of Amazon categories.

Every author should understand how to leverage Amazon to their advantage and Villanueva provides authors with an introductory resource in “Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers”.

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – Among the Wild

Among the Wild – Gripping Tale of Abuse and Revenge in 1840s Oregon

Author: Carl Pettit
Rating: 4 of 5
Format: Kindle, Paperback

Beaten to the ground, Noah Adair picks himself up from the mud wondering again what he has done to deserve such a punishment from his brutal uncle. But this time is different. Though only a young teenager, the hard life of traveling west in the mid-1800s has made him big and strong and the fear he once had for his uncle is gone. No more abuse. If only his parents hadn’t died leaving himself and his younger brother to suffer under the iron will of his uncle. Fortunately his aunt, unable to have children, has so far protected his younger brother taking him as her own. But when Noah overhears his uncle pay another man to kill him, Noah escapes under nightfall vowing to one day take back his brother and live once more as a family.

Carl Pettit’s “Among the Wild” is a gripping tale of one young boy’s survival against all the odds. Pettit’s narrative and cadence perfectly paint a picture of the hardships his young protagonist must overcome in his journey. I was simultaneously frustrated yet drawn in to a story where this young boy repeatedly finds opportunities for friendship and companionship, but abandons them in order to continue his quest to find his brother. I wanted to know more about these characters but Pettit is smart not to linger too long with them illustrating just how desperate and driven Noah is to finish his calling. I found the ending bittersweet and its twist at first unsatisfying but upon reflection had it ended any other way it would have seemed too contrived. Well done Mr. Pettit.

For those looking for an epic old west epic story, you won’t be disappointed with Among the Wild.

Book Review – Not all out of Love

Not all out of Love – Overcoming Love’s Pain

Author: Jamie Schoffman
Rating: 4 of 5
Format: Kindle, Paperback

Imagine getting to a point in your life where you slice open your arm, inject your body with drain cleaner, and take every pill you have in the house in order to make the pain stop.

Imagine living through such an event and later reinventing yourself to build a successful career and meet the love of your life.

In “Not all out of Love” Jamie Schoffman chronicles his life in Tallahassee Florida where his interest in body building lands him a job at a bar named Chubby’s. There he meets Ali Ple, a bar tub girl selling drinks with her mobile cart. They connect and enter a passionate and fiery relationship but one which eventually ends leading Jamie to make an attempt at taking his own life.

Schoffman does not pull and punches and his memoir is raw, honest, and shows the desperation of a man who literally believed there was nothing left to live for. By all rights, after subjecting his body to such extremes, there is no explanation for why he survived. Perhaps it was to share his experience and demonstrate to others who might contemplate taking their own life, that there is hope and can get better. In fact, I’m certain that even when Jamie’s relationship with Ali was at its best, his new life is substantially more fulfilling than he could have imagined possible. His experience serves as a reminder for all of us that pain passes and time can not only heal all wounds but usher in an even better future.

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – A Talebearer’s Awakeing

A Talebearer’s Awakening – Inkheart meets Harry Potter

Author: H.J. Moe
Rating: 4 of 5
Format: Kindle

Issy Jones felt a familiar pang of nostalgia on her twelfth birthday as she sat in her dad’s study. Yet something was different. It had been twelve years since the car accident, but for some strange reason she felt closer to him now than she had in a long time. Then there were the unexplained changes in her senses. It was as if something had just clicked inside; Issy could hear better, see better (out went her glasses!), and her once clumsy self was suddenly a force to be reckoned with in gym. Issy could have written it off to just simply her maturing body, but when a passage she had written in her journal came to pass in real life, Issy new something much more powerful, something associated with her dad and his death was going on. Little did she know just how right she was and soon Issy and her best friend Michelle are thrust into the world of talebearers on a quest to save their future.

H.J. Moe’s, A Talebearer’s Awakening, is an engaging tale for middle grade readers. Similar to Funke’s Inkheart series, Moe takes the reader on a journey of what it would be like to create worlds by the power of words and storytelling. The strongest aspects of Moe’s work are the action packed chapters involving Issy and her best friend Michelle overcoming either tormenting peers on field trips or the fantastical characters encountered in worlds brought to life by talebearers.

The legend of the talebearers, the use of their tools, and creation of worlds was wonderfully rich and serves as the foundation for greater adventures and while Moe’s characters themselves are not overly complex, middle grade readers will appreciate the book for what it is – a unique and fun read.

After reading this volume, readers will surely be clamoring for more of Issy’s adventures and continuing the lore of the talebearers!

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – Pimp Ur Blog Episode 2

Pimp Ur Blog Episode 2: Increase Search Results with Articles and Feeds – Improve Your Blogs Visibility

Author: Paul Rice and Messie Jessie
Rating: 4 of 5
Format: Kindle, Paperback

Once more authors Paul Rice and Messie Jessie share their tips and experience on how to promote and increase your blogs visibility by employing various SEO techniques.

In this episode, Rice builds on the learning they gained using IMAutomator and the benefits upgrading to IMAutomator Pro provides. Rice is a master at research and experimentation and he shares with readers the different techniques he has tried with this software, how to use the article submission and secondary features provided, and their resulting successes including the number of submissions accepted, the subsequent links created, and how long the links remain active and his tricks to keeping them active longer.
The authors styles are complimentary keeping what could have been a dry recitation of information interesting by injecting in anecdotes of why they write their blogs and why writing about one’s passion is one key to keeping readers coming back.

For those interested in this series, the authors have made their first book’s articles available on the web as a series of blog posts.

With more tips and techniques, blog enthusiasts will again find ways to maximize their exposure in Pimp Ur Blog Episode 2!

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – In Dulce, Distrubed

In Dulce, Disturbed: Great Short Story

Author: Tower Lowe
Rating: 4.5 of 5
Format: Kindle

Following up on a civil rights compliant regarding specialized education for a middle school boy, Cinnamon and her partner Burro Wesote travel to Dulce, New Mexico to investigate. Upon their arrival, however, they learn that the young boy they’ve come to help has gone missing. They also find the area educators to be less than cooperative when it comes to boy blaming him and his family for any issues related to his education. When a beaten body is found in the local cemetery, rumors run rampant that it is the missing boy and Cinnamon vows to get to the bottom of what is really going on in this small northern border town.

Tower Lowe’s, In Dulce, Disturbed, is a short story, but you would never know it by the depths of Lowe’s characters. Remember the early 1990s TV show, Twin Peaks, with its quirky characters, eerie and isolated local, and slightly paranormal bent? There is something reminiscent of that series in Lowe’s work. Consider some of the more interesting characteristics in “Dulce” – the main character’s name is Cinnamon – an unexpected name for a civil rights investigator – and what is the story behind her long lost mother who left her family when Cinnamon was just six? What is the deal with her partner Burro, whose visions are easier for him to manage with the medication? And what is with all the hostility from the locals at the school? All curious characteristics of a short but engaging story that I quickly found myself engrossed in and couldn’t put down.

Great stuff.

I can’t wait for this to be turned into a full blown novel. Watch out David Lynch.

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.