author, book review, reading, writing

Book review: Sarah Y Westmoreland – Najee: A Glimmer of Hope (@SWestAuthor )

Akinia was obsessed with learning, in fact, she had learnt to hack in order to expand the reviewmaterial she had access to. One thing she never discovered though was why she had been left as a nearly new-born baby at the orphanage, nor why the necklace, her only possession aside from a plain blanket, protested anyone’s touch but hers. She never thought herself destined for greatness, so the sudden arrival of the Najee to adopt her came as a surprise. In the blink of an eye she had become a warrior, one who needed training, but a warrior none-the-less, but never could she have imagined the future about to be laid before her. She is the one they have been waiting for, now they must ensure she is ready for the task ahead.

Fans of Star Wars are bounds to love Sarah Y Westmoreland’s Najee: A Glimmer of Hope. As I was reading I saw a heavy influence, it put me in very much in mind of this popular science fiction. The Najee are much like Jedi in the sense they have their own special weapons, training, and a similar master-apprentice hierarchy. Akinia is a strong female protagonist, and despite being only 14, is very mature, reflective, and adaptive. She, along with other main characters, shows great growth and affinity. Allies and friendships form, trust and alliances build, but there is always the threat of something a little darker. Well-written and perfectly paced, this is one story that will keep you hanging on to the very end. Action, adventure, thrills, and chills from start to finish make this an amazing start to what looks to be a gripping and promising series.

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author, book review, reading, writing

Book review: Christine Church – Beyond a Veiled Reflection (@christinechurch )

Meirah was trying, she had studied Scottish culture, those who spoke with accents closest reviewto her own alternative dimension dialect. She had adapted, evolved, all in the name of her love for Dane. But he was conflicted, he loved her, but he loved the new peace he was being granted when intoxicated, the closest to heaven he could imagine being. Peace, women, and sex. He had his vices, brought about by his rock star life, but Meirah too had a weakness she couldn’t shake, where Dane stood, she wished it had been her knight, Sir Kori, a previous incarnation of her lover, and her current state of mind was making the call of human blood almost impossible to ignore. A reflection in the water warns of the return of a danger thought passed, and a betrayal leaves Meirah more vulnerable than ever. Will she come to her senses and see the truth, or will her recent heartbreak leave her open to manipulation?

Beyond a Veiled Reflection is the second book in Christine Church’s Anachronistic Dimensions, urban fantasy series. With clearly labelled alternating perspectives from the main characters, Meirah, Dane, Kaeplan and Caitlyn, it is easy to get insight into their personalities, thinking, and motivations. Nothing is certain, and danger and depravity is paramount. Betrayal, heartache, manipulation, and dangerous revelations will keep you turning the pages of this unique novel. While vampirism is central the author introduces an alternative mythos which I have only seen a handful of times, and has been well implemented with some unique interested alterations. A good read, with some brutal physical and emotional; scenes.

 

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author, book review, reading, writing

Book review: Diana J Febry – Twisted Truth (@DianaJFebry )

Another boring fluff piece for the local rag put Megan on the trail of the story of a reviewlifetime, or at least that was the promise. The idea was to rejuvenate the image of a nursing home, but the staff weren’t the only ones to know of her upcoming visit. Through deception and carefully planned timing, suggestions of foul play are handed to her. Implications of a covered up crime involving people of such standing that the messenger feared there were few places he could turn. The seed of corruption runs deep, and there are those who would do anything to keep their secrets buried. Megan is determined to uncover the truth, but she’s going to need help, not only to uncover the mystery, but also to stay alive.

Twisted Truth by Diana J Febry is a gripping murder mystery that will keep you on your toes. Subplots and events really add to the feel you are part of the setting. Diversions, red herrings, hints, cover ups, and fabricated reports all add to the engagement, drawing you in, making you want to piece together what really happened, is everything as it seems, an innocent accident, or is someone covering up the truth for their own gains? And if so, what exactly are they hiding. Well written, captivating , with well-developed characters, this is a murder mystery you won’t soon forget.

available on Kindle Unlimited

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author, book review, reading, writing

Book review: Johanna Craven – Bridles Lane (@JohannaCraven )

Isaac returned home to find his families’ graves had expanded further, he thought he reviewwas alone, until he heard of his sister, Scarlett, at the children home. He planned to leave her, thinking she would have a better life than he could offer, and yet he took her home. The problem about returning to his father’s land was he also obtained his debts, debts that were to be repaid via smuggling. Scarlett helped where she could, but on the night the dead ship arrives on the beach, things take a turn. Everyone knows a dead ship brings ill fortune, people turn to God and prayers, while Scarlett attempts to shelter the sole survivor, if anyone knew he had lived, his longevity would be limited. Unbeknown to her he has his own agenda, and she is just the person to help her fulfil it.

Bridles Lane is a historical fiction written by Johanna Craven. Written in the present tense it makes you feel as if you’re there watching history unfold. The characters are believable, three dimensional, each with their own stories and concerns. The plot revolves around the strong-willed Scarlett, as well as a small cast of well-designed characters. The writing is very atmospheric and easily draws the reader into a time of religions, fear, and superstition. This will keep you entertained and engaged beginning to end.

Available on Kindle Unlimited

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Book review: Edward Castle – Unbound Deathlord: Challange (@ECastleWriter )

Jack Thorn, from the moment he entered the game was a thorn in the side of some of the reviewmost powerful characters in Valia. He broke the game, sending the preordained plot off course with his problem-solving skills, quick reactions, and the lessons taught to him by his parents. He entered the game to run from who he was, who he had become. He wanted to escape, to enjoy himself, to conquer the underworld… No wait, that wasn’t his agenda, was it? Amongst a sea of unhelpful, condescending NPC’s this one thought keeps returning to him, but is it even his? In a game where your every thought can be monitored who is to say you can’t also be influenced?

Unbound Deathlord: Challenge is Edward Castle’s creative addition to the LitRPG genre. Packed with action, creative solutions, and some just plain pure dumb luck any fan of the genre is in for a treat. Great descriptions and seamless integration of RPG systems and methods add to this enticing read. You can’t help but root for Jack as he aims to win the Challenge set by the designers, while attempting to drive things his way, by outmanoeuvring, out thinking, and generally just antagonising those who seek to better him. There are some great characters who play well-designed supportive roles as they are dragged along for this intense ride.

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Book review: Eichin Chang-Lim, Flipping (@EichinChangLim )

JonSun knew from the moment he caught a fleeting glimpse of her that his heart bellowed to the reviewmysterious woman in the library. Vigilantly he returned, hoping to catch sight of her again, and when he did, the unimaginable happened. Despite being far beyond his reach, she agreed to go on a date. Her parents wanted her to marry a doctor, but as time went on she had only eyes for him, and was willing to sacrifice a life of comfort, even her family to be with him. Her father had told JonSun he would never be good enough, he was determined to prove him wrong, but knew the life he provided was less than she deserved. But this is not just their tale, and theirs is not the only relationship to watch.

Eichin Chang-Lim writes with an amazing talent and gift. In Flipping she takes the stories of two unconnected families and pulls you into their individual stories, their plights, desperation, and struggles, then brings them together. This isn’t just one story, it’s three, the tale of JonSun and SuAnn, The struggles of the McMeri family, and finally the third tale of Wynson and Christa. Each story Is part of the whole and is a struggle against the odds. The plot is gripping, emotional, heart-wrenching, and most of all believable. The writing and characters are filled with such emotion they bring the story to life. Eichin Chang-Lim has an amazingly polished, concise writing style that will tug at the heartstrings from beginning to end. If you enjoy romance, conflict, struggles, and uplifting tales then this author is the one to watch. If you’re a KU subscriber like myself, you’ll also benefit from being able to grab this brilliant tale for free.

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writing

Book review: Robert Medmenham’s The New Party

The end of the world is upon us. People cower in their homes, holding their loved ones reviewclose as the bombs begin to fall, dreading the inevitable, fearing their death. But there are a few who know how to find escape from this total annihilation, perhaps for a whole lifetime. Years ago VirTim, Virtual Time, was banned. It was a means that could extend a single living second into weeks, months, even years in game depending on how crowded the server was. Those who knew where the few remaining games still hosting this could be found, logged in, and chose how they wanted to spend their end of days. Ryan is one such man, but with busy servers he is forced to choose his low level mage, knowing that a single death will kick him from the system, and he may never get back in. But the game world is not the same place as he left it. It seems the rules have changed.

The New Party is the first instalment in Ryan’s adventure, following his journey as he reacquaints himself with his old character, and seeks to find a means to survive, build a community, and live out his remaining days. It was a fun read, and for a short story I started to get a real feel for the characters and their motivations. Book two is certainly something I will be picking up. These bite sized books make for a perfect bedtime read, and give the promise of a fascinating adventure.

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author, reading, writing

Authors beware: A new danger for KU authors

Hi all,

Anyone who follows me closely will know my book was removed from Amazon for almost a fortnight after they registered some unusual activity. At first I was at a loss. What was it, where had it come from? But since I have learnt a terrifying truth behind Kindle Unlimited, it is one all authors need to be aware of. It is a KU scam that could ruin your career and put your money into fraudsters’ pockets.

In this post I will detail my own experience, in hope you know what to look out for.

I was running a book promotion, a push to generate interest in my first book. After approaching blogs and book promotion sites I began to run a 99cents promotion on Darrienia, which at that time was number one in two of its categories. Book two is coming out at the end of the year and, despite it being a stand alone novel, I was aiming to attract more readers in the hope they would want to read the second book. I did what any author would, attempt to get the message out there. It worked, with the 99cents offer I see an increase in sales, but also an increase in KU activity. Brilliant right? Not really.

A week later my book was no longer for sale. Confused I logged onto my KDP account but couldn’t access the bookshelf and the ‘Contact Us’ button wasn’t working. After hours of trying to find a way to contact Amazon KDP, posting on the forums asking for help, I remembered having raised a query with them. I found it and clicked ‘no’ on the did we solve your problem link and finally, I was able to send them an email. But the information I got back was concerning.

“We are reaching out to you because we have detected that borrows for your books are originating from systematically generated accounts… As a result of the irregular borrow activity, we have removed your books from the KDP store and are terminating your KDP account and your KDP Agreement effective immediately. We will issue a negative adjustment to any outstanding royalty payments.”
Wow. I looked at my reports and saw the steady stream of KU reads still present, rising and falling over the days as would be expected. But the words ‘systematically generated accounts’ raised concern. I asked for clarification but believe my email went unseen. I email again, detailing all the third-party promotions and sites I have been using in case one of them did something untoward. Days later I receive an email back to say they are investigating and will get back to me within 7 business days. So I wait. I wait and I wait, all the time fearing the worst. Amazon wipe all my KU page reads and obviously as above keep all my sale royalties too. But I didn’t care about this, I still don’t. I was never writing for the money. I had a story that I needed to tell and my entire writing future was on the line.

When royalty payment day came I had still heard nothing. But then something strange happened. I get a phone call from my bank. Someone has charged £100s worth of iTunes to my account.

Alarm bells are obviously ringing.

Back in February I was the victim of identity fraud, but not the kind you see on TV. This person rang my bank pretending to be me but failed the security checks. They did however have my account number, sort code, name, address, mobile number, and date of birth. The bank was great, they contacted Action Fraud and Cifas. I also paid to register with Cifas and a credit reference agency. I got my credit checks password protected and a note on my account stating I have no intention to apply for any loans or credit cards. The next day a letter comes through, someone has tried to open a savings account in my name. I call this bank and alert them to fraud. Next a letter comes from Three about the mobile phone and contract I am trying to take out via their web-store. But because I am now registered as having been a victim of identity theft they are contacting me to ensure the application is legitimate. I call them and once again advise it isn’t genuine. Then nothing. the bank are monitoring my account, I cant have credit checks run without being asked for a password, and silence seems to fall once more. I thought I was safe safe. I was wrong.

The day of this month’s royalty payment comes and £100s are requested from my bank.

My bank were great. I was given new details and the transactions were voided. Then it occurred to me, given the timing surely this was more than a coincidence. What if this odd activity against my book wasn’t a result of the promotions but someone trying to ensure there was money in my account for them to take? I contact Amazon and update them on the events. I ask if their investigation has yielded any information I can pass on to ActionFraud and Cifas and I advise them of the bank’s actions. Suddenly things are held in a different light. I have fraud reference codes and a targeted attack on my bank on the day the payments would have cleared. Amazon take this new information on board and agree to reinstate my account.

Even now I am unsure if the person who attempted to steal my identity in February is the same person who did this, but one thing is certain, it has opened a whole new page on fraud and nearly ruined my writing career in the process.

You may be reading this thinking someone got their hands on my bank statements, or I am careless with my information. Believe me, I am not. Before I switched to paperless statements all bank statements went through a zigzag shredder. Anything with my name and address on gets shredded, even junk mail. The only people who had my bank details were companies I used for direct debits, Amazon, my mobile provider, and of course Paypal. So perhaps I was not careful with my online activity. I like everyone these days have multiple antivirus/ anti-malware tools, ones which protect real time, ones which prevent trojans, adware, flash cookies, malware, etc.  My bank even provide their online banking customers with free software that guards against keylogging and protects the sites you select. By giving them the code from their software they were able to confirm that my computer was not compromised.

The moral of this story is simple. If you see activity in your KU which is against the normal figures contact Amazon immediately, and keep an eye on your bank for small transactions you are unfamiliar with, someone could be testing the water. Don’t assume you’re getting interest in your book, even if you are running a promotion, or pushing KU. It is better to contact them first with concerns rather than suddenly not be allowed to sell with them and then have to prove you have no knowledge of events.

This experience has really opened my eyes. The things that were done I had never dreamed possible, especially with Amazon’s IP tracking. After all, they always know who and where you are. I still don’t know how it was pulled off, and I imagine I never will. I only hope that either the fraud teams, or Amazon catch up to them. The events are too closely linked not to be connected, so whether this is a new fraud specifically targeting authors, or someone exploiting existing victims after researching them further, one thing is clear, they knew me. They knew I was an author and found a means to exploit it for their own gains and very nearly ruined me in the process.

Personally, I have asked if Amazon will remove my book from KU before the end of the 90 day contract considering what has happened. KU was a great idea, but my fear of this happening again is still too real and I am not sure I can ever trust it again.

I hope this information reaches far and wide, it is something we all must be aware of. Who knows how many people have already been targeted, and how their techniques will adapt in the future.

Thank you for reading.

If you are interested in my book, it is back on Amazon, still at 99cents, and can be found here

If you have found this information useful please share the post, this is something all authors with their work on KU need to be aware of.