A couple more rave reviews for “Home”

I’ll stop this soon. I promise. Here’s one 5-star review:

This is book 3 in the Portal series. It is readable as a stand alone novel, however it will be less confusing and more enjoyable if you read Portal and Terra (books 1 and 2) first. This is a good addition. Where it really shines is the multiverse. Lots of fiction tries to tackle the whole multiverse thing, but few do it well. This book does it well. Makes it well worth the read. The plot and characters are also well written and interesting. They aren’t why I would pick up the book, but they carry it. Great addition.

And here’s another:

This is such a fun story overall that it is very hard to not find yourself completely immersed with the feeling that you are literally walking alongside the characters themselves. “Home” may sound like it is yet another “futuristic” story that is like so many out there, but this one is really so different and so well-written that you will find yourself not wanting to put this one down. It is a great read that will leave you wanting so much more. I really hope to find myself reading some more of these stories, I couldn’t have hoped for anything more than what “Home” gave me.

If you still don’t want to read it, I’m not sure what I can do to convince you…

First reviews of “Home”

This one is titled “A Fun and Grand Adventure”:

This story is so much fun! I love historical stories and getting to explore places of the past. This book takes it a step further and has created alternate histories that our hero, Larry, can visit through a power to make portals. In this book, Larry is in ancient Rome, trying to save Affron who has disappeared from Terra. The story is just complex enough to keep it interesting, but I never got confused. While I really enjoyed Elysium and the mysteries that it held, my favorite part of this book was the relationship between Larry and his best friend Palta, forced apart during the book their bid was interesting and full of depth. The story is fun, action-filled, and really interesting. I loved the alternate world that Richard Bowker has created. I would definitely recommend this book.

And here’s one titled “Super Entertaining”:

It seems like authors and audiences are obsessed with futuristic tales with alternate worlds colliding or fighting for power; I began HOME a bit skeptical, thinking there would be no original premise. I was utterly wrong.

The multi-universe created by Richard Bowker is just marvelous. In the story, Larry our hero has a unique power that allows him to “jump” from universe through universe via a portal. After attempting to follow and save a priest with whom he shares this gift, he needs to leave his soul mate Palta behind.

I struggled a bit at the beginning, connecting the dots –lots of names to learn- and figuring out who was whom; once I got accustomed to the names and terms, I enjoyed the book much more. I love the pondering question, that brought some self-reflection on humanity: where is home?

So, um, what are you waiting for?

Free ebooks in return for reviews: Some results

It’s becoming harder to get customer reviews for books nowadays.  That’s probably related to the general downturn in the ebook market.  Here I mentioned a program, run by my epublisher, to give away ebooks in return for honest reviews.  Once you sign up, you start getting a weekly eZine containing a list of books you can download for free.  Download a book, read it, and leave a review.

This model seems to be OK with Amazon, which has cracked down on some aspects of the customer review racket.  It appears to be a requirement to state that you got the book for free in return for an honest review.

Anyway, the approach is working for my novel Where All the Ladders Start.  Most reviews are pretty terse, like this one:

I received this book for an honest review. I loved this book. The plot and characters were amazing.

Well, what more do you need to say?  But wait!  It turns out that Laura Furuta has more to say!  Namely:

When I first started reading this story I was not really sure what to expect. I read the description and was thinking it was just another mystery book. I was wrong! This is a story about a P. I. who works in an America that has been changed. Not only that, also there are forces at work that are determined to see he fails with his latest case. I really enjoyed the story from the first chapter to the very ending page. It has the right combination of mystery and plot to keep you guessing. The characters also really shine as well. The main characters are very well written and even some of the secondary ones you will remember and love. This is one book that I recommend if you love mysteries. It will keep you guessing. I received a copy of this book from eBook Discovery in exchange for an honest review.

Even better!  Now all I need is a few more sales . . .

Here’s the cover, in case you forgot what the thing looks like:

Ladders cover final jpeg

Amazon is purging book reviews again

This made news a few years ago.  The difference this time is now Amazon apparently may purge reviews from someone an author “knows” online.

Yes, you read that right. This can be someone who has friended you on Facebook, followed you on Twitter, or has done business with you in a way that’s detectable to the Amazon review police….

Amazon spokespeople say that anybody who knows the author might “benefit financially” from the book’s sales, and financial beneficiaries have always been forbidden to review. (I wish I knew how to benefit financially when one of my 873 Facebook friends has a bestseller, but I’m obviously not working this right.)

So how do they determine if you “know” an author, anyway?

They’re not telling.

I’m all for taking down reviews that are fake or paid for in some way (even by the promise of a free book).  But that seems, er, excessive.  The modern method of book marketing involves authors having an online presence–via a blog, Twitter, Facebook….  You’re supposed to find “friends” out there.  Why penalize someone who finds them?

If the purge ever reaches me,  I don’t think it will have much effect.  The vast majority of the reviews my books have received have been from complete strangers . . . I think.  But I don’t really know, since a user can follow my blog with one name and review one of my novels with another.  Can Amazon figure this out?

Yeah, I suppose it can.

Two legs to darkclaw and weasel

That’s the title of a five-star review of Dover Beach on Barnes & Noble.  Here is the text of the review:

He kicks darckclaw into a tree and takes weasel to my house result twelve.

I dunno.  Somehow, this review did not make me all tingly and proud.  Those of you who are familiar with Dover Beach  will recall that it contains no weasels, and probably very few trees.

My publisher says I should respond to all my customer reviews, but I can’t figure out how to respond to Barnes & Noble reviews.  If I could respond, what should I say?

Thanks for the insightful comments!  Somehow, you have intuited deeper truths about my novel than even I have heretofore recognized.  For that, I will be forever grateful!

Does that work?  By the way, I Googled Darkclaw and found out that he is a character in Brian Jacques’s Redwall books, which my kids liked once upon a time.  I never thought they went anywhere, but I wasn’t a kid when I read them.

Meanwhile, here’s a review from Amazon that does make me tingly and proud.  It’s entitled “I won’t bore you with praise…”:

This is an incredibly good book. Clearly, the absolute best post apocalyptic detective novel I’ve ever read. I want more, Richard Bowker. More!

That’s more like it.  On the other hand, I was unaware that there are more post-apocalyptic detective novels out there.  That’s a little discouraging.  I thought I had cornered the market!

Authors are hard to please.

Is it just me, or are Nook customer reviews somewhat lacking?

. . . at least, compared to Amazon review.

That “Free Fridays” publicity got a lot of people downloading Dover Beach.  And some of them apparently have more free time on their hands than I do, because they’ve already left reviews.  Some are reasonably well written, but then there’s this sort of one-star review:

DO NOT EVER LEND LendMe BOOKS TO NON- EXISTIENT PEOPLE!!!!!! NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER DO THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!

(I left out about 50 exclamation points.)

The good news is that only three of out of 73 people (currently) found this review helpful.  The bad news is that there are three people out there who found this review helpful.

Here is a one-star review that I’m actually OK with:

This was a weird book. It started out almost as if missing half of it or it was part 2 in a series. You just felt lost like they were talking about things that happened and you werent a part of it. There was no explanation for anything, while the premise might have been good, a little more explanation would have made this book much better. As is, it sucked. Woild not recommend at all. Terrible.

Somewhere on this blog I’ve probably mentioned that I made a conscious decision not to give the backstory of the war in whose aftermath this story takes place.  The war happened in someone else’s world; these characters inhabit another world altogether.  If that doesn’t work for a reader, my apologies. If you’re a Free Fridays reader, all you’ve lost is your time.

At least I can get some consolation from this.

A few thoughts about “Telegraph Avenue”

Telegraph Avenue is Michael Chabon’s latest novel.  I’ve read two others by him: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and the entertaining but less interesting serial novel Gentlemen of the Road.  He is an astonishing writer.  Quit reading this stupid post and download one of his books.

That said, I didn’t like Telegraph Avenue as much as The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, which I thought was utterly brilliant.  It’s about black and Jewish folks just getting by in the Oakland of 2004.  Two men run a marginally profitable used record store threatened by a superstore that may be built nearby.  Their wives are midwives struggling to keep their practice going in the face of opposition from hospitals who don’t want them doing home births.  All the characters are wonderfully comic and sympathetic.  Their lives are described in rich detail.  I don’t know how Chabon does it.

Still, at 465 pages the book feels overstuffed and somewhat exhausting.  While I willingly gave myself up to the strange alternate universe of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, I wasn’t especially interested in the extensive, loving descriptions of 70s black music and films that is central to the book.  Your mileage may vary.

A couple of other points:

Telegraph Avenue is best read on an ebook reader with a built-in dictionary. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself looking up a lot of words — Chabon’s range of vocabulary is spectacular.  I’m not a foodie, so I don’t feel too bad not knowing lavash and turmeric.  But I figure I should have known a lot of his other words — clabber and selvage, for example.  I know ’em now.

Finally this was the first book I’ve come across where the author credited the hardware and software used to create it: “This novel was written using Scrivener on Macintosh computers.”  Modern times.