How about a review or two (or three)?
Amazon recently changed its review policy so that fake reviews, or reviews in which someone raves about a book they’ve never read or product they’ve never used, more difficult to post. It is a policy designed to protect the reader / buyer (a good thing!) however, one of the side effects of their more stringent rules is it is now more difficult for independent authors increase their book’s exposure.
Why is that?
Reviews matter, not just to other potential readers, but to marketing services and other press. Many sites won’t let an author even pay for an ad unless a book has achieved a certain quantity of ratings with an average star rating of 3.5 or higher. So tougher rules and more hoops potential reviewers have to go through mean greater difficulty for authors to gain the necessary number of reviews needed to play in the market’s big leagues.
The Fair & Foul received a few new positive reviews recently (thank you!) and knowing how very difficult it can be to gain these, I thought I would express my gratitude for those who have given me a chance by paying it forward and sharing some reviews of a few books I’ve read recently that might not be on your radar.
So without further ado
Descent by Kristina Stanley (genre: mystery)
In Descent, author Kristina Stanley introduces readers to Kalin, HR manager at Stone Mountain Sky resort as well as several other individuals who either support or participate on an aspiring Olympic racing ski team. Before long Kalin finds herself promoted to Director and is placed in charge of human resources as well as security, a role that forces her to utilize her people reading skills to solve a different sort of problem. If that weren’t challenge enough, her boss expects results immediately. Specifically, the name of the person responsible for the death of one of the competitive skiers.
Told through several points of views, nearly every character is given a potential motive for the crime with clues scattered throughout. I found myself rooting for Kalin, not only to solve the mystery but also to succeed professionally as a director (the fact she has two different colored eyes like I do was a bonus). It is obvious that Ms. Stanley is very familiar with life at a resort her tale not only entertained me but also educated me on the world of competitive skiing.
This cozy mystery also includes romance, overly confident exes, small town gossip, animal lovers, and the great outdoors. Those who require high-speed chases, cloaks, daggers, or other gun play in their mysteries may be disappointed. As I am not one of those people, I found the book to be engaging and have since read the sequel, which I also recommend.
Oak and Mist by Helen Jones (genre: YA fantasy)
I knew going into this story that it was about a young girl who enters a fairy-like realm, however, what I didn’t expect was the author’s style of writing which was as delicate and beautiful as the magical world she’d created.
Helen Jones has written a modern YA fantasy adventure and yet reads like a something you might expect from David and Leigh Eddings. There are all the elements I’ve grown to expect in the genre, which may or may not be a good thing depending on taste: a love triangle, cunning dark creatures, altruistic beings of the light, prophecy, lost heirs, and hidden artifacts of power, but the beautiful prose makes is what really sets it apart from other recent additions to the genre.
There were certain plot elements that confounded me such as the point of a family heirloom that burns the owner when danger is near but can be rendered useless with a simple touch or exactly how the artifacts of power are expected to work, but I am confident that these questions will be answered in later books. All in all, this is a very promising start to the series.
Unhappenings by Edward Aubry (genre: Science Fiction)
I picked up this book before going on vacation, which proved to be great timing on my part as I wasn’t able to put it down.
The protagonist, Nigel Walden, is a fairly average guy, except for one small problem: things keep unhappening to him. It is a term he uses to describe the phenomena in which his memories don’t line up with the memories of those around him. He copes as best he can, accepting that he simply can’t form attachments with anyone or anything until the day he meets a woman asking for his help who not only knows all about his condition asking but seems to know more than she is telling about his future.
The author uses extremely short chapters to tell the story, which can be a bit of a distraction but does serve to keep the pages turning and the plot twists as Nigel learns more about the cause behind his affliction.
This is science fiction in the same vein as The Butterfly Effect or the show Timeless and is a story as much about fate as it is about unforeseen consequences.
Update from last week: For those who read my post from last week, Hurricane Matthew did stop by for a visit, bringing with it several inches of rain as well as strong gusts. We experienced mild damage and had swamp-like conditions temporarily develop in the yard, but were otherwise unharmed. Thank you to all who reached out to express your concern. I am truly touched. My thoughts, however, remain with those who were not as fortunate as I was.