Tag Archives: book review

Dobyns Chronicles Review

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I wrote and published Dobyns Chronicles a few years ago but it is always nice to receive good reviews.  I thought today I would share one of those reviews for me. Nothing like feeling good about work you did when it is expressed by someone else in comparison to those reviews that always seem to break your heart a little bit.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving and now Christmas season is upon us. All of you who celebrate the birth of our Savior, have a blessed Christmas.

The Finest Generation – A review of the novel ‘Dobyns Chronicles’

“It is so much simpler to bury reality than it is to dispose of dreams” – Don DeLillo

Author Shirley McLain’s latest novel ‘Dobyns Chronicles’ is a historical fiction loosely based on the life and times of her grandfather Charles Kenly Dobyns. Charles or Charley to those close to him was the eldest son of Kennerly, an American cowboy and Eliza, a Cherokee Indian and was raised in a farm in Red River in Bonham near Northeast Texas. The book chronicles his life story from the late 1800s when he was a young boy in a Texan farm to the mid-1950s when he became a great grandfather in McAlester, Oklahoma. The book paints a moving real-life story about a young man’s resolve dealing with the various tragedies life threw at him while also caring for his two siblings, younger brother David and sister Viola. This novel presents a fascinating look at vintage Americana and will fill your mind with nostalgia about a simpler life led in much simpler times.

Right off the bat, the first thing that you are going to notice and that too barely a couple of pages into the book is the wonderful use of the English language. It has become almost a rarity in mainstream literature to come across such beautiful phrases and prose that make you stop and read a line twice just for the sheer literary pleasure it gives you. The next best thing about this book is the pitch-perfect way in which the author has been able to portray the laid back and lazy times with the back-breaking, difficult and adventure-filled day in an old western town. It is so descriptive that the character’s spirituality, the numerous odd jobs done around the house, cattle drive and horse breaking somehow become second nature to you by the time you are done with the book. And for people of this century where everything is available to them at the touch of a button, this book will be a throwback to our older and harsher times when day to day living meant a constant battle with the various elements of nature.

Blending the fiction seamlessly with the many historical and factual events of the late 18th century and early 19th century, Shirley has made good use of various events like the yellow fever epidemic, the great depression and the absurd tax laws to good effect and has used them strategically at various points in the novel to underline the emotions of her characters in that setting beautifully. The changes happening over time and the various developments too have been captured nicely; case in point is Charley staying at a hotel for the very first time. Shirley also seems to have a knack in getting children’s behavior and their conversations right, the change in tone and content when the conversation moves from a child to an adult is always bang on target.

The entire book will tug at your heartstrings and make you think about your own family, it will also make you reminisce about your childhood as you read about the childhood of the Dobyn kids. And even though your childhood may have been vastly different from theirs, you will still feel a connection to the various commonalities that affect us humans across time and different nationalities. The epilogue and the photographs at the end really get to you and even though a life that you have been witness to from a young age has come to an end, you are in a strange way left with so many memories of this man. And this is because of the way the author has captured these scenes and emotions, by taking you right into the lives and homes of these people instead of merely narrating a story.

Great authors have often talked about the secrets that make a book appeal to audiences everywhere. They stress upon having a standout first chapter to make the readers commit to the book, a good first page that will blow them away and a great first line that will stay etched in their memory forever. If they are right then Shirley’s book has scored a definite ace on all three fronts and has emerged a clear winner.

Product Details

Print Length: 260 pages

Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1499024096

Publisher: Xlibris US (May 23, 2014)

ASIN: B00KNMM46S

Buy Fromhttp://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KNMM46S/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

How Important Are Book Reviews?

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This is a blog about book reviews. I can’t make myself not want to get 5 star reviews. I want my book to be enjoyed when it’s read. That’s bottom line for me.

As an author with five books on Amazon, I have found out from experience that books which do not get reviews slip to the darkest regions of Amazon. I’m there with a couple of my books because I couldn’t get the reviews I needed without paying big bucks.

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This article from Dudley Press gives you more information You can use.

Book reviews make books a known quantity. They decrease the risk to readers that a particular book will be not what they had in mind at all. In fact, book reviews help potential readers become familiar with what a book is about, give them an idea of how they themselves might react to it and determine whether this particular book will be the right book for them right now.

Book reviews save readers time, prepare them for what they will find and offer them a greater chance of connecting with a particular book, even before they read the first page!

Greater Visibility, Greater Chance of Getting Found

Book reviews give books greater visibility and a greater chance of getting found by more readers.

On some websites, books that have more book reviews are more likely to be shown to prospective readers and buyers as compared to books with few or no book reviews.

Book reviews also help amplify your book’s reach among book clubs, bookstores, blogging communities and other opportunities to gain attention from new readers.

For an author, book reviews can open doors to new and bigger audiences.

More Sales

Have you ever heard the phrase “Success begets success?” Or the term “social proof?” Books that have a lot of book reviews appear to be popular books. It’s human nature for people to be curious about what looks popular and want to check it out for themselves. As a result, a good number of book reviews can help lead to a snowball effect of book sales.

In other words, the presence of book reviews can help validate the worthiness of a book and establish who the book’s audience is. Then once validated, other similar people are much more likely to want to join their peers and buy that same book.

Knowing this, some authors try to game the system by outright buying or inventing book reviews. But that’s not a good approach at all. Don’t do it. It’s not right and you’re better than that.

Soliciting real reviews from real people can help you as an authors achieve more sales in a completely ethical way.

A Writer's Path

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A few days ago, this articlecame out on Consumerist.com. If you don’t want to click over and read it right this second, allow me to summarize: there are companies that sell five-star reviews to authors, and Amazon is suing these companies.

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What Does A Publisher Do? Part 4

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publisher Here is the last installment in this blog series. I hope I have provided information that you can understand and use as needed.

Marketing departments issue all kinds of catalogs to promote books—ones you see and ones you won’t unless you’re a librarian or a bookseller. The trade catalog is a publisher’s principal tool for making sales to bookstores. Like countries that have only two seasons, wet and dry, most of scholarly publishing divides its year in half. (Some larger houses now issue three catalogs; their weather is more complicated.) Publishers with two trade catalogs bring out one per season. The fall season usually begins in September and continues through the winter. The spring season begins in February or March, and continues through the summer. Books to be announced in a catalog must be securely in place at the publishing house up to a year ahead. The book you hope to have published in September will be announced in a catalog printed the previous spring; the copy for your book will be written during the winter. It isn’t uncommon for a house to expect the manuscript to be delivered and through its review and revision process a year prior to publication date. Certain kinds of books can’t be well published in certain months. Scholarly publishers avoid launching serious trade books in December, since the outstanding study of world famine won’t compete with holiday fare (unsold copies will be returned to the publisher before the tinsel is swept away). It’s most desirable to stock textbooks by January or February, since teachers will need to see examination copies in the spring to order texts for fall classes.

Have a blog? Share the news with your devotees. To marketing and publicity also falls the task of arranging author tours. If an author tour conjures up images of red carpets, limousines, and chilled champagne, think again. A scholarly author on tour may be staying in friends’ guest rooms, speaking in near-empty bookstores, and certainly wondering if there aren’t easier ways of selling books. And yet most authors are delighted by the request to make appearances. After all, it means that the publisher thinks this is a book that can reach beyond a core readership.

An author tour can take various forms. Two weeks of travel, flights from city to city, an author appearance every day, twice a day if possible. The phone-in radio show in the morning, the mall bookstore in the afternoon, the campus speaking engagement just before dinner, a quick stop to sign a pile of copies at the campus bookstore, where your book has the prime window display. All this takes the author’s time, and can cost the publisher a tidy sum. At the other end of the scale, the tour might be rather less elaborate. (Do you know anyone in Chicago who could put you up? Do you mind driving there?) If you are publishing a book with a very small house, there may simply not be a budget for any sort of touring. Many scholars overcome the limitations of their publishers’ budgets by using their own speaking engagements as book promotion opportunities. If you’re going to give a lecture anyway, contact your publisher well in advance to see if a book event might be scheduled around it.
The cheapest way to promote a book is to have the author pitch it to a willing audience. Lecturing at the community center on images of aging in Western art? Your publisher can easily run off a simple promotional flier with order form attached, ship you a stack of them, and have you place them strategically at your lecture venue. Medium-size and larger academic houses will usually select one or more authors in a season for special promotion. Publishers often make their choice on the basis of three factors:

the book can sell in quantity in bookstores;
the book can be reviewed in newspapers, not simply journals;
the author is presentable.
Some books can be successful without ever selling a single copy in a bookstore. These are textbooks—if you’ve written one, don’t expect to tour. Your publisher will send you on tour only if bookstores think you’ll draw a crowd. If bookstores are behind you, chances are your book has enough appeal to garner reviews in the media.

“Will I be getting a party?” asks an author breathlessly, having just turned in his overdue manuscript on the history of childhood illnesses. Publishers throw parties reluctantly. Parties make authors feel good—to which your publisher won’t object—but the publishing business is primarily about getting books sold. Unless you can deliver the movers and shakers of the media, or of your academic discipline, your publisher’s marketing budget is better spent on advertising and direct mail than on renting a restaurant for catered snacks and dancing. Of course, it might be nice to have a little do for your close friends on campus. Think warm white wine in plastic cups in the faculty lounge. Next question.

Your publisher may budget anywhere from fifty to several hundred “free and review” copies of your book. These are copies on which you will receive no royalties because they’ll be given away or used in promotion.

Books are given away to people who may review the book or in other ways do the book some good. A publisher with a book hot off the presses will want to get it as quickly as possible into the hands of the most powerful people in the field. The publisher who has just brought out a book on the ethical treatment of animals may want Peter Singer, for example, to have a copy as early as possible, in the hopes that Professor Singer will (a) like the book and spread the word; and (b) respond eagerly if a book review editor contacts him about reviewing it.

It’s important to remember that book reviews are assigned by book review editors (at newspapers, at magazines, at journals). Since almost anyone could plausibly be a book reviewer, publishers have become hard-nosed about sending out review copies to unknown persons. Your publisher will have an A-list of preferred review sites, and will automatically get copies of your book to the people at these publications and organizations. If your best friend Louise wants to review the book but isn’t a book reviewer, don’t be insulted if your publisher won’t send her a free copy. Louise should try contacting a journal where she might review the book. Chances are your publisher has already put that journal on the A-list and a copy of your book is waiting, alongside hundreds of others, in the office of the journal’s book review editor. If not, have that journal send your publisher a request—on letterhead

Remember that promotional copies are not about promoting you. Or about your promotion at State U. Don’t expect your publisher to send a copy of your book to your dean or to Betty who typed the manuscript. These are your responsibilities. Your contract will stipulate a number of copies given to you at no cost. Beyond that, you’ll be expected to pay for further copies of your own book. (But at least you’ll get an author’s discount.)

Take a look at my new YouTube video and let me know what you think about it. Have a blessed day.

In the Land of Invisible Women

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Once I started reading this book I couldn’t stop.  I was totally fascinated with the pre 9-11 look at what an American Muslim doctor felt and witnessed as she spent two years in Saudi Arabia. Before Dr. Ahmed visited Saudi she thought she would easily fit into the Muslim lifestyle of Saudi Arabia. She had no idea what she was going to face during her time in Saudi.
If you want greater insight into both the Muslim religion and the Saudi woman’s world, I would recommend this book. I gave it five stars for content. It is an excellent story to read.

I have to say this book opened my eyes to a world that I knew nothing about. Over the years I’d heard stories about the plight of the Saudi woman and looked at the pictures in the National Geographic when an article was done, but I really didn’t pay attention.  I thought about working at this hospital that Dr. Ahmed speaks of in her book. I thank God I didn’t go through with it.  They would have had me out of the country by sunup the next morning. I don’t like bigotry, antisemitism, or hatred for my country.

The Muslim religion believes in the same God as Christians do. I’ve lived long enough now to know that there is good and bad in both.  Put into the hands of extremists, either can be turned into something it was not intended to be.

I am happy to say that the plight of the Saudi woman is changing according to Dr. Ahmed.  If you get the opportunity I would highly recommend this book by Dr. Qanta Ahmed.

More Ideas for Blogs

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The second day of a new year and here I am at the computer, keeping my New Year resolution to blog every day.  A couple of posts ago I posted the review of Steven Aitchison’s book “100 Ways to Find Ideas For Your Blog Posts”.  One of his recommendations was to review books.  Blog the review and give the unvarnished truth about what you have read.

I’m going to be totally self-serving today, and ask you to consider reading my new book “The Tower.”  It is a mystery with lots of twists and turns.  Samantha Jensen is kidnapped from outside her home in Tulsa Oklahoma finds herself without memory in “The Tower.”  Sam’s twin- brother Allan operates a company, IDEA  (International Diagnostic

EThe kidnapping, smuggling betrayal and murder, take you around the world.  It is also a story of love and devotion, as well as retribution for crimes committed.  You learn tidbits about the countries traveled.

This was a book which was fun for me to write.  I love travel and adventure and I got put myself everywhere my characters where.

To end my self-serving section of this blog, you can go to http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_24?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the+tower+shirley+mclain&sprefix=the+tower+shirley+mclain and take a look at my book.

What ever book you read and review keep it authentic.  According to Steven Atichison, you will find that once your blog gets known you will be approached by authors who give you their books for free in return for a review.  It’s ok to have a review once in a while, but if you’re going to do this make it a balanced review and don’t sell it to make money.  Review the book as if you were giving a detailed report to a friend, warts and all.

The paragraph above was directly out of his book.  It’s easy to read and understand.  I think reviewing books will give all of us avid book readers a new outlet.  It would be even nicer if the books are given to you.  That is a win-win situation, the way I see it.