5 Super Fast Book Reviews

If you are in a hurry and need to decide if you should read a book, then consider one of these. We have condensed the reviews into simple statements that will help you find your next great read…or not.

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling

Being a huge fan of the original Harry Potter series and having not seen the movie for this screenplay, I was not sure what to expect. The artwork that was included was very well designed and had a cool tie-in with the story, so I really enjoyed that aspect of this book. The story, on the other hand, was very fast and did not seem developed to me. I was glad to get another story in the same world as Harry Potter, but the character of Newt was VERY underdeveloped. The character of Jacob really had personality and felt developed, in comparison to Newt it just didn’t make a lot of sense…after all, Newt is the main character. Overall, it was a good story and I am sure the movie is great too, just don’t expect anything close to the originals

 

Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs

Wow! I have been away from the Peculiar Children series for a while now, having finished them as they were released, so to discover this gem of a book was fantastic. I really enjoyed the majority of the stories and found that the illustrations were perfect, they really matched the stories well. It is not a very long book and is in some ways more of a collectors or fan item, but overall I am glad that this is out in the world! I hope that there will be more to come.

 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

I really liked this book! When it came time to give it a rating, it was no question that I would give it 5 stars! The characters are all very dynamic and keep you interested in the story and their individual well-being. Even the villain characters have such a strong personality that is built with great backstory weaved into the main story that it is hard not to like them for what they are. This author did a fantastic job creating an action packed and intense world that the reader grows to care for. I highly recommend this book.

 

The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman

I highly recommend that you get or listen to the audiobook version of this book, or at least have both. I read about half of this book and listened to the other half. I enjoyed hearing Neil read his own words, they came to life in a way that they didn’t when I simply read them. There were many pieces of writing in this book that I didn’t understand much about, but the ones where I knew what he was talking about were very fun to listen to. I discovered more books to read (when will my TBR ever end?) thanks to Neil’s recommendations and I think it is an admirable thing of him to recommend artist and authors who perhaps don’t get the amount of credit that they should. His words are powerful and carry deep meaning, his personality somehow seeps slowly through the words and onto the pages, and this book leaves a lasting impression.

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 by J.K. Rowling

This book is the script for the new stage play based on the world of Harry Potter. Go into this book knowing that and you will very much enjoy it. I knew that it was written as a script, so I was not disappointed to see how it was written. I always find that dialogue is my favorite part of most all stories, so to have a book of basically nothing but dialogue (and the occasional stage direction / setting info) worked out great for me. It is a fast read compared to some books due to the nature in which it was written. I found my mind filling in bits and pieces of the imagery all by itself due to my previous knowledge of the books and movies. If you’ve ever watched a Harry Potter movie, then your mind will fill in most of the details all by itself. The lack of descriptions was not an issue for me and I don’t think it would be for anyone familiar with the world in which the story is set. It was great to get to check in on some of my favorite character’s lives and gain a whole new perspective on some characters. I found myself really enjoying the two new and most notable characters. I really liked it for what it is and I think everyone who reads it should appreciate it for what it is rather than what they “want” or “expect” it to be.

Library Of Souls by Ransom Riggs Book Review

Library Of Souls by Ransom Riggs Book ReviewLet’s start from the beginning with this book. The first two novels were brilliant and told the in-depth story of Jacob and all of the other brilliant Peculiars. This book was no exception to the greatness that is the writing by Ransom Riggs.

The book cover is terrifying and enchanting all at the same time. Featuring a winged Peculiar that begs the reader to learn more about the story by reading. There were many great points about this book and only a few things that I would have changed. Let’s start with the things that I would have changed.

There were a few times during my reading where I felt that there was too much unnecessary detail and the story was dragging on to reach an over 450 page count. I am not sure why Ransom Riggs felt the need to prolong this story in a way that seemed to sluggishly creep on at times, but it did happen.

Aside from the slow storyline at times and the few needless details, the only other thing that I would have changed was some of the photos. The majority of the photos were absolutely stunning and added so much to this already haunting series, but there were a few of the photos that didn’t fit the story very well and made me think that Ransom just saw a cool photo and forced the story to change a little to incorporate that photo. I didn’t get this feeling as much with the first two books.

Now on to the plethora of things that I LOVED about this book. First of all, the story has a great beginning, middle, and end. Second, the characters only get better and better in this book. If you loved Jacob and Emma before, you are sure to be even more attached to them in this addition to the series because their characters are even better than ever. I also really enjoyed the change in setting. Ransom was somehow able to create a completely and utterly dreadful setting that you can’t help but fall in love with. How is this possible? Excellent story telling, that’s how!

Overall, this book is one of my all time favorite books! No book is perfect, but this one comes pretty close! It took me a while to read, but then again, now that it’s over I wish I had more of it! Ransom Riggs is a very proficient writer and legendary story teller that our generation should be very proud of. I highly recommend this book and without any hesitation I give it a five star rating!

Library Of Souls by Ransom Riggs Book Review

Still Alice by Lisa Genova Book Review

Still Alice by Lisa Genova Book ReviewThis is one of those books that you literally cannot stop reading. The characters are all likable and you feel a connection to this family without even trying to. The story is compelling yet not overly theatrical and exaggerated. It is a very true to life depiction of Alzheimer’s disease.

So often an author will try to express what it is like to go through something, and there will be an obvious disconnect, but not in this novel. I had to remind myself many times that I really didn’t know Alice and her family because she seems that real.

The author Lisa Genova does a fantastic job at depicting what life would be like if you had to go through these same or similar events. The writing style is elegant, but not pretentious. Here is one of my favorite bits of writing from the book:

“The date on the calendar only made everyone feel offended or cheated, aware that it was already spring elsewhere, and there people wore short-sleeve shirts and awoke to the sounds of Robins chirping. Here, the cold and misery showed no signs of relenting, and the only birds Alice heard as they walked to campus were crows.” – From Still Alice pg. 106

This book is honest and that is really all that you can ask for in a book like this. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. Don’t skip this book for any reason whatsoever.

Overcome Shallow Writing

Overcome Shallow Writing Ever tried writing about something and caught a headache when expanding your thoughts and ideas? Ever been called a superficial writer? Have you ever battled strongly with writer’s block? If so, you’ve probably had a share of shallow writing. To my understanding, shallow writing is writing about something without giving out the purpose and exact meaning of the writing. When writing a novel, preface, or introduction, writers tend to give you a snippet and synopsis because they don’t want you (as the reader) to lose interest too quickly. Think about the first time you went swimming. You took the first three steps into the pool and though you saw others swimming in the deep portion of the pool, you stayed in shallow waters. You didn’t want to take the risk of drowning. Writers often feel the same way.

I strongly believe shallow writing comes with the fear of being drowned in criticism and losing a good reputation as an author. The deeper one goes into writing, the more emotion they display. They’re more vulnerable and bound to revealing personal aspects in their lives that they did not intend on revealing to the audience. Shallow writing is a give and take and it all depends on the author’s purpose. Sometimes, shallow writing is a benefit because the intent for writing is to summarize and give a brief description. Other times, shallow writing is inappropriate. Examples would be writing poetry, outlining a plot, and writing an autobiography. Readers expect to visualize pictures and events occurring in their minds. Reading is dull to them when there’s no suspense or nothing worth looking forward to read.

So, how do I overcome shallow writing and how do I get over the fear of my reputation probably being destroyed? The simple answer is you have to take risks. Some readers you will win and some you will lose. Breathe, take chances, and expect positive outcomes! The more you give of your inner self, the greater the impact and influence will be upon you and the piece of writing. Do you like to watch the news? If so, you’ll notice how the news talks more about criminal activity rather than positive things in the community. Many people love hearing drama and dirt and are more prone to accepting you as an authentic writer by ridding out shallow writing. Be authentic, be real, be you, and enjoy writing in a way that satisfies your inner and outer self.

Find a quiet place, find a pen or pencil (your choice), grab some tissues, have a cup of coffee, and allow yourself to open up! Get rid of shallow writing and give your reader(s) the extraordinary!

Status Quo for Indie Authors

Status Quo for Indie Authors What’s an Indie author? The word “indie” comes from the root word individual. An Indie author is an individual author who has self-published a book without help from other entities. A lot of people may find this to be uncommon, but it’s not at all. Hundreds of years ago, every author had to go through a press in order to get noticed and published. Times change, people change. Today, media and technology is advertising a lot of Indie authors and supporting them through countless interviews and book blurbs. So, what’s the status quo, Carl? It’s been predicted by many researchers that Indie authors will become more prevalent and presses will become nonexistent by 2020. Yeah, 2020! Perfect vision, perfect writing! Why? The root reason is Indie authors are taking the time to learn all of the loops in getting a book published. Recently, I wrote a blog post about Book Publishing 101. Myself, as well as others, have had these experiences and going through a press for an agent and/or editor becomes unnecessary. Many presses of today do not publish certain books because of their content, theme, and the notion of them not making an abundant of purchases. It’s vital for Indie authors to understand how to manuever through the hidden fees they encounter. To conclude, Indie authors must build up a network of readers and writers, as well as doing freebies to draw a bigger audience. The bigger your network, the more successful you become in advertising your book!

Book Publishing 101

Book Publishing 1011. Grammar & Editing – As you are constructing your book, make sure you do a Spell Check on the final manuscript. Check the sentence fragments and word tense. Make sure your document has 1-inch margins (Top, Bottom, Left, and Right). Set your manuscript size to the book size you desire (i.e. 5×7, 6×10, 8×10).

2. ISBN – In order to effectively market your book without being rejected from bookstores and online agents, you will need to purchase an ISBN. Bowker ISBN Agency handles the regulation of ISBNs. If you decide to purchase one through them, it will cost $125. Book publishers may offer you a discounted rate. If so, take the advantage.

3. Copyrights – No author is prone or vulnerable to theft. Protect your works by registering your claim/title with the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, D.C. You can purchase your copyright for $35 online through ECO or by printing out the forms under their local repository. Inside your book, do include a copyright page informing readers of copyright protection and infringement if they decide to steal your works.

4. Book Binding – The type of binding you choice for your book is very important. If you decide to choose paperback plastic cover, the cost will be cheaper. However, there is an advantage to hardcover. The binding doesn’t rip the pages and the book doesn’t become damaged by water, sunlight, or dust. Some authors choose to add the dust jacket inside and this also protects the pages inside of the book. One has to keep in mind that books are shipped and you never know what the machines could do to your books if they are plastic covers.

5. Cover Images – The front and back cover of your book is worth a thousand! Just one look could give the reader the wrong look. Personally, I choose to pick images that deal with the morale and main idea of the book. Get creative with your cover images and not have them plain. Make your book so appealing that when a person scrolls down the aisle, they stop to look at your book.

6. Wording on Back Cover – Many interested readers want a synopsis of your book and it’s important that you persuade them with the things written on the back. Place some testimonials of your book on the back cover and main quotes that are enticing.

7. Number of Pages – When I first started writing books, I did not take this into consideration. The amount of pages draws readers as well as repels them. If your book is too huge, a person may disregard it because of their busy schedule. Adversely, a person may enjoy a book of small amount of pages because they can read it in one setting. If you write poetry, consider the format of your book. Should it be done in volumes and collections? If you write fiction and creative stories, should they be split into characters or segregated by topical categories? Should there be a plot with suspense or a dry-cut informative message from the story?

8. Marketing – You are never in the business just to publish a book! You’re in the business to market your book! It’s an accomplishment to publish your book and receive the self-satisfaction of doing so. Yet, you want to sell your book and make royalties. You want money for your hard work and labor! It’s an expectation for authors and readers are also aware. Get into the habit of marketing your book and requesting your readers to rate and review it. Ratings and reviews carry the author a long way and establishes a fine connection between buying a book of worth and a plain old book.

25 FREE Audible copies of “Poetic Expressions”

Hey There! It’s that time again! Hope each of you are enjoying your National Poetry Month and enjoyed Tax Day yesterday! Today, I have a new offer for you.

It’s a first come, first serve basis! I give away 25 downloadable Audible copies of my first book written, “Poetic Expressions”. Adam Meggs is a famous auditor and has voiced this book for you to listen to rather than read. Instructions and discount codes are included below.

1. Visit http://www.audible.com/at/redeem

2. Enter the download code into the “Redeem Your Promotional Code” field
and click “Redeem”.

3. If you’re not an Audible customer, you’ll need to create a new Audible.com account. Don’t worry, you can use your Amazon account to do this.

4. Follow the instructions. You’ll have 1 credit applied to your account.

5. Go to my book’s listing and add the book “Poetic Expressions” to your cart. When you check out, you will see a free credit applied to your book.

Discount Codes:
7M8LCWD3SYJWU – PL6C5K5KYNSQL – TMEF8J3M5X8NQ – 8X55X6M727XHA – KG6YSGQ9RTHBR – FW6UWHSDYS3H9 – N2KU6QESJLZYS – F22U2MWUCRZPF – 74C8SCLCC9UH6 – 2MP7Q723FNFTQ – 2EB2RUKZ2UY7W – 3BCNMKRCMEE5B – 6E52PG5GEGLQS – 686H7X4A9E65K – JCHT7EBJPLWTW – UJ9KN97MRFELT – MXJPBEHXC3626 – A68SN44C4C9LM – E29GREPATKQSM – ZS9KTN4FQBANT – KEW69PZ9F69NE – BU6MTFCDHCPJS – SFKN6XBHWJ4Q7 – T6QWWRDYWXH5B – N2JP5PWTB3GXL

FREE Marketing Channels for Authors

FREE Marketing Channels for AuthorsI strongly believe one of the top failures for new, emerging authors is the marketing techniques they use in promoting their book. Typically, many authors purchase press kits with their publisher to help get their book recognized. Press kits are a good start point, but one should not fully rely on them. When I wrote my first three books, I did not use a press kit. I did “personal marketing.” Personal marketing and know how to do it well causes your book to be globally and locally recognized. I want to share some of the tactics and tools I have personally used in promoting my books. I also had help designing a website from Web Chimpy, they did a great job.

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing gives an author the opportunity to convert the manuscript of their book into an e-Book version. If you’re an author that is limited on funds, this is your first source for marketing. Try to sell your book electronically and see how well it goes. If you make good ebook sales, begin transitioning into print copies through Amazon Marketplace.

Amazon Advantage Program

Amazon Advantage Program offers the opportunity for authors to send in print copies of their book to the warehouse. It’s imperative that I state you should make sure you send the exact amount of print copies you requested in your purchase order. When you submit your purchase order, Amazon will give you a shipping label and packaging label to make sure the correct personnel receives your book.

Personal Author Website

No matter what genre of writing you choose to pursue, every author needs a personal website that displays their book and how to go about purchasing it. Preferably, use your name as the web domain. If it’s not available, use the title of your book. Start with a .com domain and then search for available domains, if these options are not available.

Do not overdo your website. My very first website I created had too much information on it. The basic components should consist of an intro/welcome to your site, the author’s bio (keep it brief), the marketing outlets that have your book(s) available for purchase, and a way readers and visitors can contact you for more information. It’s imperative to have an email address correspondent to your website. For instance, my email is carl@carlmckever.com. If you feel your works will be huge, it’s wise to set up separate email addresses for each entity. Entities could be copyrights, book purchases, book reviews, ratings, interviews, endorsement letters, and author appearances (bookings).

Google SEO/ Google Analytics

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. I didn’t take advantage of Google Analytics or SEO until I wrote my fourth book. This software, patented by Google, shows you the location of the visitors on your website. You can get hit counts, web statistics, and pull up reports for your website. SEO is setup in your website within your metatags, to help Google easily locate your website. When someone searches your name on Google, your website should be the first link to show up.

Google Authorship

After your author website is established and you have SEO generated in the background, you can enroll into Google Authorship. This tool simply verifies your rights as an author and places your name to the right when someone searches for you. In order to use this, you have to embed code, from Google, into a website that includes your name as an author. You can even do this for newspaper articles, blogs, and journal entries.

FREE Marketing Channels for AuthorsNOOK Press

NOOK Press is an online self-publishing tool created by Barnes & Noble. The online software allows you to upload your manuscript and book cover, and then sell it as an email on a NOOK device. Barnes & Noble is just as reputable as Amazon and I encourage every author to use both platforms. I see many authors on Kindle and not on NOOK; as if NOOK is phasing away.

Amazon Author Central

Amazon Author Central is a platform that allows authors to create a profile and claim their books already being sold on Amazon. With Amazon Central, you can set up your upcoming events, embed an RSS feed or blog, upload pictures of yourself, and display videos about you and/or your book(s).

Amazon AudioBook Exchange (ACX)

Audiobooks are becoming a new thing in today’s publishing era. Once your books are available for sale on either Kindle or print, you can get an auditor to record your book. Royalties and contracts are setup and those that cannot read or see your book, can listen to your book through Audible.

Goodreads

When I first joined Goodreads, I freaked out because I didn’t understand why I could not create an author page. Before establishing an author page, you must recommend, read, and rate so many books. You begin by searching for your book. If Goodreads does not pull up anything, a button will appear that says “manually add my book(s)”. As I began to get ratings and reviews on my book, I added friends and joined different communities. This opened up my understanding and I began setting up critique groups, writing blog posts, include my works of writing, and uploading pictures.

One great feature, as a Goodreads author, I encourage is book giveaways. Setting up quizzes and trivia on your book sounds great, but to gain exposure you have to give away something for free. Even if you give away 1 copy, you can gain a lot of readers. When I did my first book giveaway, I only gave away 1 free copy of my book. The amount of contestants I had was 992 at the closeout. Take advantage of the giveaways.

LibraryThing

LibraryThing is a cataloging platform where librarians catalog books in their library and books of interest. You can still create an author page, upload photo(s), and contribute to the Common Knowledge placed on your books. Your readings and events can be added on LibraryThing and to find people of similar interest, you can join the Hobnob with Authors group.

Twitter/FaceBook/GooglePlus

All three of these social media platforms are free. If you have written multiple works, I suggest only creating one author page and displaying all of your works there. If you are concerned with privacy, block unwanted users and set your profile to private. Keep in mind that a private profile is harder to find than a public one.

Distraction-Free Writing: How to Handle Distractions

Distraction-Free Writing- How to Handle DistractionsI’m making it a habit to write daily; that is, whatever comes to mind. A person can write for years and become good at it. Yet, they suffer with distractions. Writers are not exempt from distractions. Every writer has a personal life outside of writing and they too, have to deal with this. It agitates me madly when I’m trying to write down my thoughts and a train passes by my place of stay. My neighbors, sometimes, family will play loud music or constantly knock on my door. Better yet, the phone seems to never stop ringing. No one is calling about something important and you think, “Couldn’t this wait until a later time?” Writing in a world filled with distractions is very difficult. It takes a lot of skill and technique to get beyond it. Today, I want to share some techniques with you that I think could help you as a writer, author, novelist, poet, lyricist, or whatever form of writing you enjoy doing.

My first tip is staying focused. Writing is considered a goal. There’s an end and a finish to it. You pick up your pen or pencil, apply it to paper, and then let your thoughts ride. The minute I notice a distraction, I speak to my inner self and remind myself to keep going. You can’t quit till you cross the finish line and feel satisfied with your writing piece.

The second tip I have to offer is taking a break. What! Are you sure? Yes, I am sure. You have to give your brain and thought process a break after a certain amount of hours. My rule of thumb is every four hours. During your break, leave your current setting and find a new atmosphere. Find a spot that’s calm and relaxing, such as a park. Remember to bring a notebook and something to write with. Don’t make it an intention to write because this is a break, remember? I am asking you to bring a notebook because you can run into something that intrigues you. I call this the test of the wills. Thoughts come and go, and you cannot expect your brain to remember the ones coming at you rapidly.

Distraction-Free Writing- How to Handle DistractionsThe third tip is finding the perfect timeframe. This is very difficult, though it sounds easy. Some writers have to write late at night when everyone in the house is sleep and all personal errands are done for the day. Other writers prefer to write in wee morning hours before any chaos hits the day. I have even seen some writers write in the middle of the day, during their lunch breaks from work, and at certain times designated for writing.

I want you all to succeed in your writing. The very last tip I have to offer is grabbing a cup of coffee or tea. Drinking something hot stimulates the mind and pushes you to continue writing down your thoughts when distractions are near. Please do not flatter yourself into thinking that you will not have to deal with distractions when you write. Distractions come in many forms; down to the sound of forceful wind. It’s how you handle them and how well you use emotional intelligence to balance your attitude about the distractions.

Good luck and promote “distraction-free writing” wherever you go!

 

How to Write a Book Review

How to Write a Book ReviewBeing a book reviewer for the last two weeks and having many of my books reviewed by others, I tend to see a lot of commonality in reviews. Mistakes, gestures, and things that are just inappropriate for a book review. It is one thing to tell someone that their book is great and others should read it. It’s practically a cliché at this point. Reviewers have to make prospective readers thirsty and energized in interest to the point where they want to purchase the book. Book reviews have the same flavor and sensitivity as a sales pitch.

How do I write a book review? Where do I start? How long should it be? Common questions with various answers! I only speak, in this blog post, from personal experiences as a book reviewer. When you begin writing a book review, start off thanking the author for their publication. You can include if you won the book through a giveaway, but know that this is a necessary evil. After being complimentary, start addressing the overall design of the book. What feeling did you get when you looked at the front cover? Does the title give off the main idea? Are the designs on the front and back covers an act of symbolism? Does the small wording on the back cover heighten your interest to open the book? These are the things prospective readers want to know.

The next portion of your book review should address the grammar and punctuation. Yes, something not often placed in reviews. It’s imperative that you get someone else to check your grammar and punctuation. Go through an editor or agent, if you have to. You’ve read the book. So, did you have to stop and almost stutter because the fragments were not revised properly in the sentences? Did the author wean off topic for a long time without reeling you back into his/her main purpose? Prospective readers and book reviewers look for the author’s purpose, focus, and moral in every story. At this point, you can begin considering the format and layout of the book. Was the table of contents outlined correctly? Were page numbers included? Was the book entirely too long with unnecessary information in chapters? Was the font and alignment of each page hard to conceptualize? Think about this when writing your book review.

How to Write a Book ReviewThese pieces to a book review are great, but the most crucial and last component of the book review should be recommendations. Make the sales pitch! State the type of audience who should be reading the book and address any internal/external feelings they may run into. Is the book full of adventure and suspense? Is it religious? Are profane words and derogatory remarks made in the book? Why is this so important? The prospective reader wants to know if they’re the right audience! For instance, I’m a poet and when I read reviews for poetry books, I want to know if the books are centered on the same themes I write about and read about. If I was a counselor and the book is full of adventure, but doesn’t hold a dramatic event requiring counseling for someone, this may not be the book for me. Make your recommendations and state why such audiences are the right candidates.

In closing, have fun with your book reviews! Don’t make it into an assignment or required duty. Don’t treat it as some book report or an exhausting activity one does when they finish a book. Write your review while you’re in a happy mode and when you think and concentrate about the interesting pieces of the book. Even if the book is terrible, don’t come right out and say, “this is the worse book to buy.” Mention the author’s weaknesses and give suggestions on how they could become strengths. Don’t tear down your author publicly, but address horrible matters through private communications.

Good luck and I look forward to seeing some of your book reviews out there!