Review of Revenge is Sweet by Maria Miller
With the death of Emma, Luke’s world collapsed. After three years without Emma, Luke had become a drunk, lost his job, and had no will to live. Even his home reflects his mental state. Then, while eating, he remembered his promise to Emma, that he’d get revenge on those who had sided with the doctors, refusing to let him take her to an alternative medicine doctor. Finally, revenge pulled him out of his three years of depression. “He could not go on with his future until he had resolved the past.”
Devising a master plan for revenge, Luke starts up a cover business of lawn care, hiring ex-cons for workers. His plan is simple; remove the one thing that everyone in the country is hooked on, that they “can’t” live without. Slowly, his plan begins working, drastically eliminating the quantity available. Like many things during World War II, rationing began, leading to thefts of ration books and black markets. The government officials begin massive investigations, searching for the cause, the why.
Then, a new woman enter’s Luke’s life and he falls in love with her. Luke can’t bring himself to tell her about Emma, keeping it bottled up tightly. Jessica, who works for a law firm, starts digging to uncover Luke’s secret, at first wondering if he is a murderer. Before long, the world is after him and his plot spins wildly out of his control.
As I read the later chapters, I kept saying, “Well, I didn’t see that one coming!” Maria kept me guessing and surprised all the way through the novel. Revenge is Sweet is well written and exciting. My educational background is in science; thus, I found the “plan for revenge” and how Luke carries it out to be unrealistic. But hey, we suspend “belief” in novels, so I give it 5-stars anyway. It will keep you guessing until the last page!
Book Review of The Foolproof Guide to Monetizing Your Blog by Cailin Koy
Blogs can make money by hosting ads from various companies on the blog site. The different models, Cost per click (CPC), cost per action (CPA), and cost per thousand impressions (CPM), are explained in detail, which is particularly instructive if you don’t know how the commercial advertising schemes work, for example those ads that appear at the top of a Google search results listing. In addition, Koy explains just where on your blog pages these ads should be placed and, briefly, how to get them to appear there.
I found one passage particularly relevant. Koy states: “How much advertisers are willing to pay you per one thousand impressions is strongly based on your existing traffic and what marketing gurus refer to as your reach. Reach is defined as the number of unique visitors your site receives per month.” I believe this is a key concept to know well. You must know your blog’s monthly number of views, visits, and unique visitors before you contact companies whose ads you want to obtain.
Some of the many forms ads can take are discussed, along with a listing of them. Particularly valuable, Koy provides a list of the major ad companies and roughly their requirements a blog needs to qualify for their business. In most cases, the monthly traffic is rather large, and thus, Koy presents some entry-level possibilities for the beginning bloggers as well.
The distinction between sponsored posts and guest posts is clear; plus Koy provides a valuable listing of networks to use to hunt for sponsored posts for beginners. Koy has a section on the relatively new method of Related Content as well. Contextual Links, Info Links, and Banner Ads are covered. Commission and Affiliate Links are explained; these are important for new and emerging blogs with “low to no entry requirements,” which work well until your blog site develops a large monthly traffic, allowing you to enter the bigger ad leagues. Then, there are the Paid Social Interactions, where you are paid to promote something on your social media sites.
Koy’s “Name your price” and Media Kits contain how much a blog proposes to charge to run these ads. I would love to have seen some actual numbers here, both for lower traffic and higher traffic blogs, or where one could discover that data.
Being an “ad-hater” myself, I found Koy’s admonition quite relevant: “You need to be careful in choosing what kind of ads to run and how many you’d like to run.”
Why? “You want to build a site your readers can trust in and enjoy for years to come.” And I believe that Koy is dead on: “Your traffic has a considerable impact on your earning potential. Building traffic is all about creating a great site with unique content that attracts visitors.” This is backed up when Koy suggests you always click yourself through the link your advertiser is giving you to ensure the content is related and what your readers might desire, to avoid misleading your readers.
So, if you have a blog and are interested in running ads that make you money or in selling your own products, this is a gem of a book to have and study. It’s loaded with key tips and relevant data to enable you to do just that, make money with your blog. I give it 5 stars and am glad to have it on my ebook-shelf.
Book Review of Go From Blog to Brand in 30 Days by Cailin Koy
This is a must read for anyone who either wants to start a blog or who has one and who wants to make a real go of it. Here is your step-by-step guide to getting your blog branded, well-known, and possibly even making you money. Koy defines all of the relevant key terms and explains each step fully. As a beginning blogger, I followed each logical step with ease. Koy presents both a methodical and a simple series of steps taken over a 30-day period, covering the initial setup of the blog (or modification to existing ones), all the way through to the final success phase. Koy provides a simple worksheet for you to use to get your own blog branding going properly.
My first reaction was just what does blog branding mean? Koy defines this: “A brand is the essence of a company, website, person or anything someone could ever want to market.” “It is a promise to … your readership. It sets the expectation for what readers will get from both your blog and from you in every interaction.” Koy makes the keen distinction between “brand identity,” which is the concept that a brand owner wants their public to embrace, versus the “brand image,” which is how the public actually perceives the brand. The goal is to make these to points of view the same, which you can do if you follow the steps Koy provides.
The book also presents in easy to follow steps how to use social marketing, and to use analytics to obtain actual statistical results. It covers many of the varieties of web traffic “conversion” (Google Analytics) and how to use them to help turn your website traffic into actual income. Koy discusses how to use opportunities to blog on other sites, basics of merchandising, and the promoting of your products or services. No step is overlooked, as far as I can tell.
This is a very readable book that can help you go from an idea into a working, successful blog, one that can also make you money. I give this book 5 stars.
Review of Fire’s Love by Alex E. Carey
This is a tale of the bright, sixteen year old Kira, whose mother and brother died recently and her father leaves her, declaring that she reminds him of her mother and finds it too painful to be around her. Kira finds consolation in a mysterious book in her parents’ belongings and moves in with her dear friend, who recently had a traumatic event that forced her to dive into witchcraft and who now hates Kira. She wisely departs for college, leaving her awful past behind her. What she didn’t know is that there are demons, good and evil, lurking within human disguises and that they are all around her.
Arriving at her new college, she meets and befriends Lowell Hew, a demon known as Ulric, the Wolf, who also has a tormented past. She also meets and falls in love with Pyre, a fire demon with a fiery temperament and one of Lowell’s close friends. At this point, darkness begins falling over Kira. Someone wants her dead. Someone continues to secretly spy on her and her activities at college. Both Lowell and Pyre strive to protect her and to help her discover the mystery behind her parents, her lineage, and this eerie presence threatening her. Slowly, pieces fall into place in this young love romance with Kira providing the ice to cool off the fiery Pyre.
Fire’s Love is an enjoyable read and I give it three stars. It is really refreshing to read a novel that can target all ages from young adults on up, especially in these times where too many novels make use of immorality and abusive language for shock value. I’m looking forward to the sequel.
Review of The Melding of Aeris by D. Wallace Peach
Long ago, this world endured the Burn, a fire that destroyed the lush world so genetically manipulated by man that it threatened to poison all life, hence the Burn. Now recovering, again the unscrupulous have invented a new way to alter human bodies: transfiguration. That is, via special chemicals including the Pathway, one can meld anything onto the human body’s surface, replacing skin and hair for example. But it goes far beyond any sentient reason. The wealthy Worthy graft skin of animals onto themselves, such as snake skins, wolf pelts, and much more. While some animals are raised to supply these needs, others called Skinners kidnap, flay, and kill other humans to obtain the next set of hair or eyes or face that some Worthy just has to “have” on their body.
Worse, children born to these people inherit a merging of the grafts from their parents bodies. The son of one of the most powerful rulers, Aeris, is born a man but whose exterior is that of a monster, and he longs to have human skin. When he turns eighteen, his father gives him his wish, but to Aeris’ horror, his new skin is that of a murdered man. Horrified and appalled at the price he must forever pay, Aeris flees his plush life and joins the rebellion, whose members are mostly other transfigured renegades. Their goal: put an end to this diabolical process.
The tale is replete with tales of evil, of greed that knows no bounds, and of impossible loves. In places, I found it a bit dark for my tastes. Still, it is an exciting read, one that you will find hard to put down until you reach the surprise ending, as I have come to expect from this author. Peach’s endings just never seem to be quite what I anticipate them to be! Yes, another “I didn’t see that one coming!” Here is another 5-star novel from D. Wallace Peach.
Review of Myths of the Mirror by D. Wallace Peach
As I began reading, it reminded me of The Dragon Riders of Pern that I read and enjoyed so very many years ago. Here in the Myths of the Mirror, in the Old Way, dragons invite humans to ride them bareback in a blending of nature, a harmony of man and dragon. However, in the village of Taran Leigh, greedy governors only interested in “coin,” have undone all this, and as the author says, “They imprisoned the winged dragons of in the black cells of a stone lair. Tormented by spine and spur the once peaceful creatures howl.” Yes, brutality and savagery now reigns, all for the sake of the greedy and not for the villagers.
The story revolves around two young people, Terasa and Conall, who struggle to find their own myths, their own paths through life, though there are additional memorable characters who are critical to the myth story. Part of Terasa’s task is to uncover the secret mysteries of her past, her father, while Conall initially becomes part of the dragon riders of the lair, replete in all its brutality and savage mistreatment of the noble dragons. More of the plot, I won’t reveal, but I do love happy endings. (Hint.)
The tale is very well told. I enjoyed how slowly all of the many pieces of the puzzle were revealed, forming a whole. Note, this is not one of those highly action-filled novels, rather the author is carefully crafting an entire world for our pleasure.
The author has an amazing command of the written word. Every paragraph is filled with highly descriptive words, painting a fascinating world for your imagination to grasp; lush and rich descriptions abound. Reading this novel is like staring at one of those incredibly detailed and realistic Renaissance paintings or, if you prefer, listening to a fabulous Romantic era symphony of sound. Rich and lush hardly begin to describe the author’s writing style. It is like sipping fine wine with every paragraph. This is not a novel to race through, but to savor the marvelously and carefully crafted scenes as they appear. Yes, the story is captivating; the characters, realistic, but I found the poetic imagery breathtaking. I give it my 5-star rating, for this is one novel that you will want to read and imagine…
Book Review of Chronicles of the Marauder Book 1 by A. G. Moye
I was intrigued by the initial setup. This story might easily take place just a few years from now! Neil wins “the largest lottery jackpot in American history allowing him to fulfill his lifelong dream of going to space.” Using his newfound funds to help finance his dream, he builds a ship to go to the stars on a ten year mission of exploration, hoping to answer the question: Do aliens exist? Due to circumstances beyond his control, sixty-eight percent the crew are females, an idea I found quite interesting. An ex-Naval officer, Janice, is the Commander, and Boris, the inventor of the new drive that takes them faster than light, initially attempts to under-mining Neil’s authority as Captain.
To the author’s credit, there isn’t any “slow action” chapter in the novel! He paints a realistic picture of the crew adjusting to their new lives onboard the ship, as they work out the kinks of the new spaceship. I found this portion of the novel quite “believable,” requiring no stretch of imagination — a good solid reality. Further, I found the character development to be done extremely well. They are not shallow face-cards, but believable, real people, a compliment to the author’s skill.
When the new Boritin space drive is fired up, it works, moving them faster than light, but in so doing, it takes them so far away that they cannot recognize any star patterns and are lost. Undaunted, they begin to explore and discover they have arrived close to an alien debris field, the remnants of a gigantic space battle involving several different species of aliens.
Aliens. I am always keenly interested in how other authors envision and present alien species. I’m not about to spoil this aspect for you, but I will say I was surprised by the originality of the author’s aliens. True, they pose a huge problem for Neil and the crew. What I truly enjoyed was the initial stark contrast between the alien civilizations and our own. I was surprised and amused to discover humanity’s positive aspects, such as love, compassion, and unwillingness to murder, rubbing off on a few of the aliens. The book ends in a cliff-hanger so be prepared to read the second in the series.
The originality, the character development, the realism, the plot and the action sequences are all good.
In the earlier e-book edition, the copy editing was extremely poor. Because of non-standard and sometimes incorrect or lack of punctuation, sentence fragments not part of someone’s speech, participial phrases modifying the wrong target, and more, the text then was very difficult to read. Often, I had to reread a paragraph several times to attempt to decipher what the author intended.
Important note: This is a new e-book printing and the author has made a drastic improvement in all these categories! While some of these still exist, they no longer impede reading this exciting novel. Thus, I give it a four-star rating.
I received a free copy of the earlier printing and the revised printing in exchange for my honest review.
Book Review of Super Teacher’s Six Success Steps: Winning Teaching Methods with Active Brain Based Learning and Teaching by Jason Stanley Ph.D.
This is the second book in the series and is designed to show how the principles are actually applied in school classroom settings from Kindergarten through high school and beyond. It’s not a theory-based book but a practical guide on how to actually implement the six steps. While there is no scientific study of this system, the results from using this method obtained in the pilot school are not only exceptional but also very dramatic!
This book is valuable for new teachers as well as veterans in that it gives new practical ways to overcome student boredom, to motivate students, and to enhance their long term retention of “facts.” By using these techniques, the students will become an active part of the classroom learning environment instead of passive listeners.
The book covers the six key steps of the Active Brain-based Learning And Teaching (ABBLAT) method. Key to the process is changing the state of the student to reduce boredom and to actively engage them in the learning/teaching process. The book is a practical guide demonstrating just how to actually carry out these six steps in the classroom. Thus, it is filled with examples that are simple to follow.
At several points, reference is made to the first book in this series, which provides the theoretical background and the basis for this method. One does not need to have read the first book in order to fully grasp the methods in this second in the series. When needed, such key underlying data are presented. The case study and results are fully discussed at the end of the book, along with two helpful appendices for those who wish to implement some of the techniques.
The writing style is highly personal with rhetorical questions designed to involve the reader at every step in the process. It is anything but formal writing or that of a college textbook, which makes this book an easy read for anyone. One caution: I found the writing style frequently reminded me of one of those slick, TV Infomercial super-salesmen.
I give this book a 5-star rating because, in my own opinion, if early education teachers even used a portion of this system, the students would benefit greatly from it.
Book Review of Dreamers by Ted Farrar
Dreamers by Ted Farrar. I have to say, the very beginning of this book is definitely different and disturbing. But by the end of Chapter 1, we see just why it is this way. In the first chapter, the lead character, Wilson Cole, is “living” a nightmare. His dreaming has, as it has with several other people, taken him into “Limbo,” neither Heaven nor Hell, but a way stop between the two. Bizarre, hideous, viciously cruel, sadistic – this world is gruesome and vividly described by the author. There, Cole witnesses a powerful “entity” known as Greensprite viciously murder another dreamer. The “demon” tells Cole that he is going to kill all these special dreamers, like himself. He wakes up.
We then learn that he has been a volunteer at the Dream Institute for some months, long with many others, of which twenty have “special” dreams similar to his own, namely visiting Limbo. When he returns to his home, an assassin attempts to murder him, but fails. And here is where it become a very fascinating read and really takes off.
Cole possesses some form of supernatural powers, in that he can by thought alone materialize various physical items, such as a ray gun. When the police arrive to investigate, they find bullet holes but no slugs. Now the murders begin to pile up. Jim, who was running the dream experiments, is killed, and Cole becomes prime suspect number one. As more and more of these dreamers and others turn up dead and the police investigate, Cole continues to be their top suspect, but he has no idea who is behind the murders. Necessity forces him to do his own investigation to find out who this supernatural killer is, along with just how does one defend against it and even stop this murderer before he can kill again.
Warning: Cole is not a character that I could identify with or even like as a person. He’s a societal scumbag, uncouth, drunken, self-centered, crass, loser who is on public dole, wholly unlikeable for many, I would suspect. Nevertheless, Cole as a character is very well done, a very believable but disgusting person. This is meant to be part horror story and it certainly is that.
That said, the story is an excellent one, well-thought out, with a surprise ending that I definitely did not see coming!
Much of story revolves around the Leeds police investigation into all these murders, rather like a murder mystery novel. I really enjoyed Inspector Alex Gumbold, who reminded me of Inspector Morse! What I found very realistic was the police incompetence of upper management, often obstructing Gumbold’s excellent detective work. I’ve seen such corruption in other institutions more times than I’d care to.
If you can survive the Prelude and first chapter, the rest of the book flows along very well. The pace of action is nicely done. I particularly liked the many references to rock bands scattered throughout. Now that I’ve finished it and have absorbed the surprise ending, I can honestly say that I missed those musical clues. Hindsight is perfect! The story is fascinating and provocative, a good read.
For British readers, I give this book a 4-star rating and encourage you to get past that first chapter. However, for US readers, you will need both a British Idioms and British Slang dictionary! Nearly every page is filled with English vernacular, some of which are almost indecipherable without looking them up. No, I’m not talking about boot (trunk) or petrol (gas), but owt and buggered, and even a US one, gollywog. (Look them up.) Because of the heavy use of “British-ism’s”, for normal US readers, I give it a 3-star rating, unless you are well versed in British idioms and slang, which makes this book a tough read for those of us on this side of the “pond.” Even so, it is still well worth reading for US readers, for the plot and action are well done.