Tag Archives: Goodreads

Innerscape’s 1 star review on Goodreads

I don’t go on Goodreads very often so I was surprised to see two reviews of Innerscape, Episode 1. The first was 4 stars from the wonderful Chris James. The second was…well, see for yourselves:


I know it’s not considered good form to respond to negative reviews, but in the privacy of my blog I’m going to buck the trend and say ‘Thank You!’ to Austin Myers. No one wants to get a 1 star review, but as it’s impossible not to get one sooner or later, I can definitely live with this one.’Slow’ and ‘boring’ is personal preference, and everyone has the right to like what they like, so while I’m disappointed, I’m also immensely relieved that Innerscape wasn’t described as ‘badly written’ and ‘derivative’.

And now, I’m going to take this opportunity to remind people that Innerscape, Episode 2 is only going to be free for one more day so please grab your chance to be bored for free. See this post for details:





An apology to my Goodreads friends

smiley_embarrassedAfter months of neglect, I finally logged into my Goodreads account today and found a heap of friend requests I knew nothing about. 78 of them…

I’ve now approved each and every one, but I still feel dreadful because I hate being rude, and ignoring people is rude in the extreme. Plus I have no idea how long those requests have been pending. So to all my wonderful new friends – I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to respond. 😦

I know it’s no excuse, but I’m terrible at social media in all its forms, except perhaps for my blog, which I love. Hand-on-heart I will attempt to do better in the future.

Thank you Goodreads friends. Big hugs to you all!



Amazon ‘follows’? – when did that happen?

Amazon followOkay, I admit I can be a bit unobservant at times but seriously, when did Amazon make it possible to follow your favourite authors [and have fun doing it]?

I have to assume the Amazon follows happened sometime after the purchase of Goodreads because the concept is like a mashup between how Goodreads allows you to rank your favourite books and Amazon’s own, recommendations.

On the off chance that you haven’t noticed Amazon follows either, here’s how you do it:


  • Login in to Amazon
  • Search for one of your favourite authors
  • Click the big, yellow ‘Follow’ button beneath the author’s photo, and then click on the ‘See more recommended authors’ link:

Amazon follow see more

That link will take you to a window like this:

Amazon follow 3 categories

The recommendations are divided into 3 main categories [not including the ‘starred’ authors right at the top of the page]:

  1. Suggestions Based on Authors You Follow [these are the authors you’ve just followed via the big, yellow button],
  2. Suggested Authors Based on Books You’ve Rated [these are the authors who have written books you’ve rated/reviewed],
  3. Popular Authors on Amazon [these are best selling authors that Amazon is plugging]

As soon as you click ‘follow’ on one of the authors, you are taken to a sub-page where authors similar to that first one are displayed.

One click leads to another, and you suddenly look up to realise you’ve spent close to two hours clicking away and cudgeling your brain for the names of authors from the mists of time.

I cannot lie, I really, really enjoyed myself. 🙂 Not only did I get to go down memory lane with my favourite authors, past and present, but I also found myself jotting down the names of unknown authors [supposedly] similar to one of my favourites. This means I have new avenues to explore and at least the potential of discovering new favourite authors. As an avid reader, I like that.

But Amazon’s follows appear to have a deeper purpose. In fact they probably have a number of deeper purposes. The two I can think of immediately are :

  1. information on reading habits, supplied voluntarily and to great depth, by customers, and
  2. newsletter fodder

Did you notice the heading at the top of the page?

Be the First to Know When Your Favorite Authors Release New Books.

That was not there just for show. I fully expect to receive newsletter recommendations based on every new book being published by every author I have followed. And that is a good thing.

As Indie authors, we are regularly told to build email lists so we can let our fans know what we’re doing, and when we’re bringing out something new.

It’s good advice, but I never have sent out newsletters [and probably never will] because I know what I do with most of those newsletters. Sorry, but unless you are one of my absolute favourite authors, I won’t read your newsletter. There are not enough hours in the day.

My personal time management issues aside, however, I love the idea that Amazon, for it’s own benefit, will do something I am incapable of doing for myself – i.e. spruiking my next novel. Of course that assumes that some of you will -cough- follow me -cough- so Amazon has someone to send a newsletter to….

Anyway, moving right along, it’s a great idea and I’ll certainly be going back to add more follows. I think I’m up to about 71 already, and most of those are straight out of my Kindle and Kindle Fire. My next step will be to go through my bookshelves, pen and paper in hand, writing down the names of all the old authors I’ve missed – Alfred Bester, Asimov, Connie Willis, Dostoyevski, Dickens, George Eliott, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle….




Frog gives Vokhtah 1.5 out of 4

Some weeks back, I sent Vokhtah off to a reviewer called Frog. I’d found Frog on Goodreads, and was impressed with his reviews. In fact, I was so impressed with one of those reviews I bought the book and really loved it. So I respected Frog’s reviews before sending Vokhtah off, and I still do.

Frog’s review talks quite a bit about the world building in Vokhtah, and that made me happy. The fact that Frog couldn’t get into my characters at all made me sad, but I can understand why he made no emotional connection to them or with them. Every criticism he levels against the excessive otherness of Vokhtah is true, and I truly appreciate those of you who soldiered on through Vokhtah regardless.


I knew all this before I published Vokhtah. It was one reason why I decided to go straight to self-publishing in the first place. Vokhtah is not very accessible, I admit it. Maybe one day I’ll write a watered down story about Vokhtah and its people from the perspective of an outsider, and that story may be more accessible, but it will be a story about that outsider, that human being, and that is not the story I want to write. Not yet, at least.

I’d like to thank Frog formally for a reasoned, scrupulously fair review. No writer wants to get a 1.5 ‘star’ review, but if one is necessary then let it be like this one :




Ghost in the Machine – by C.E. Kilgore

I’ve just posted this review on Goodreads to complete my commitment to R4R [read-for-review] the book. I’ve agonized over this review and I don’t think I’ll be doing any more R4R’s. I’ve turned comments off.

Ghost in the Machine – Goodreads review – 3/5

Expectations can have a profound effect on how someone reacts to a story. When I volunteered to R4R [Read-for-Review] Ghost in the Machine by C.E.Kilgore, I vaguely knew it would be a science fiction romance, but I expected the science fiction to be the main focus of the story. When it became obvious the romantic element would dominate, I was disappointed. When I read the first erotic scene I felt uneasy because I don’t really like erotica.

So from my personal point of view, there went one star. I need to stress how very personal that was though. Someone more familiar with the sub-genre would probably be disappointed if the focus had been on the science fiction instead of the romance.

And that brings me to the science fiction elements of the story. I was expecting deep world building and C.E.Kilgore did not disappoint. The political, social and historical elements were well thought out, and I enjoyed them. The actual science however was a little jarring.

Even assuming a technology thousands of times more advanced than our own, why would you have a port hole in a space ship? Quite apart from the fact it would be the weakest point in the integrity of the hull – shields or no shields – what function would it serve when for most of the time, there would be absolutely nothing to see?

Another small jarring moment was the fact that the crew did not stand 24 hour watches. I understand the ship AI was capable of running the ship on autopilot, but when pirates and other hostiles are ‘possible’, I would expect someone to be on watch at all times.

Unfortunately, the most jarring science fiction element was one of the main characters – Ethan.

Ethan is a tall, blue Mecha. A mechanical man. A self-aware automaton with an outer covering of ‘flesh’ that is anatomically correct, up to and including the genitals. Those genitals are not just for show, they are fully functioning.

So far, I can accept Ethan without any problems. What I cannot accept is that Ethan, however advanced he may be, would be exactly the same as a human being. My point here is the word ‘same’.

Ethan is portrayed as a special kind of Mecha who has some kind of psychic aura. I have to assume this aura is what makes it possible for him to feel all the things a human male would feel, including sexual arousal, tenderness, lust, jealousy and love. In essence, Ethan is a big blue man with arrested emotional development who learns to love thanks to his relationship with a good woman.

I have no intention of exploring that Romantic trope, but I would like to point out that human males made of blood, bone and a full set of functioning DNA can lack empathy. Some of them turn into psychopaths.

Now let’s look at Ethan. He is basically a machine run by an AI that is aware, and conscious of its own existence. But that does not make it human, and it certainly does not guarantee empathy. Psychopaths are human, but they do not have empathy. Yet this self-aware machine is supposed to be capable of all the better human emotions – such as love.

In a human being, electrical signals travel from the nerves to synapses in the brain. Picture a whole heap of roads that all meet on the shores of a lake. To get that signal across the lake you need a boat[s]. If the signal is very strong, a big boat made of chemicals/hormones will ferry the signal across the lake to multiple roads on the other side. If the signal is weak, the boat will be small and may only take the signal across to one or two roads. [This is an analogy only. The exact process is rather different but explaining it would take volumes]. As the signal passes from synapse to synapse it either gets stronger or weaker.

That interplay of electrical and chemical elements is a huge part of what makes us human, makes us feel. Electrical impulses alone do not get the job done.

So right from the start I could not accept that Ethan was, to all intents and purposes, a man. Sadly that made the love story fall flat for me. As the romance between Ethan and Orynn [the female protagonist] is essentially the plot in book 1, Ghost in the Machine just didn’t have the wow factor for me. That said, the ending of the book hinted at a stronger, and for me, far more interesting plot evolving over the rest of the series.

Finally a word about the writing itself. On the whole, the author writes well, and by the second half of the book the prose was strong and created vivid images. But. ‘May’ instead of ‘might’ consistently jarred me out of the story. ‘Might’ is the past tense of ‘may’, so if the story is written in the past tense, which it is, ‘might’ is the correct word to use. A small point, I know, but it kept jerking me out of the story.

Overall, Ghost in the Machine was an enjoyable debut novel, with signs that later books in the series would be stronger in terms of plot. It did not, however, meet my expectations of a science fiction story with an element of romance. That said, someone with different expectations should find it very enjoyable.

[I should point out that I am a 60 year old female who has been reading classic science fiction for 40 years].

The Lazaretto – a Goodreads R4R

I posted this review on Goodreads, on a thread devoted to R4R [Read-for-Review] where readers receive a free copy of a novel in exchange for a review.

The novel I chose to review was The Lazaretto, a science fiction thriller by Jason Phillip Reeser. I began by being apprehensive – what would I do if the novel was a stinker? – and ended up being impressed.  See what you think.

* * *

The first thing I noticed about The Lazaretto was its size. At 2,650KB, it is a big ebook. Luckily I adore big books. Once I become seduced by a world or setting, I never want to leave, and I was seduced by the Lazaretto.

Imagine a moon with a breathable atmosphere where it rains a lot, and the clouds never part to allow the sun to shine through.  I cannot think of anything more physically bleak. Now imagine a city on this moon, a city built for the sole purpose of quarantining travellers passing through to other worlds. In such a city, fear of contagion would underlie all social interactions, amongst both travellers and permanent residents. In such a city, people do not shake hands.

But the Lazaretto is more than just a quarantine station, it is also a prison without walls where the sick languish until they die. You see, the only purpose of the Lazaretto is to stop contagion from spreading. Finding cures is not part of the protocol.

As readers, we are introduced to the Lazaretto through the eyes of Gregor Lepov, a private investigator looking for a missing person last seen living and working in the city. Lepov is an interesting character, but he is only one of the main characters populating the story, and that is both one of the strengths and weaknesses of the novel.  All of the main characters are well drawn, but none of them captivated me, except perhaps for the villain of the piece – The Collector.

Having so many main characters also had the effect of slowing the pace.  And that is really the only criticism I would level at The Lazaretto – the story just moves a little too slowly.

In essence, the plot revolves around a number of mysterious deaths that are classified as murders, but leave the police baffled as to means and motive.  Finding the ‘murderer’ involves the coming together of a number of disparate characters and story arcs, including that of Gregor Lepov.

All of these characters and story arcs contain a piece of the puzzle, and how they are woven together is both organic and very clever. But it does happen slowly.

In some ways, the structure of The Lazaretto reminds me of Tad William’s Otherland. As in Otherland, the story revolves around an ensemble cast, rather than just one or two main characters. Unlike Otherland, however, The Lazaretto is not a series, and so has had to compromise between the needs of the individual story arcs and the plot.

As with any compromise, something has to give, and in the case of The Lazaretto, the pace suffered. But only a little. Overall, my enjoyment factor was very high, and I found myself thinking about the world and its culture long after I finished reading. For me, that is always indicative of a very good story.

I should also mention that the writing is excellent. This is a mature novel by a very good writer. I would recommend it to anyone who craves something more than just a quick read and light entertainment.

I’ve just had a ‘duh’ moment.

You know how sometimes your left hand doesn’t seem to know what your right hand is doing? And then something happens, and you go ‘Duh, I have two hands, why don’t I use them?’

Well, I’ve just had one of those moment, and it has to do with marketing.

I discovered I had two hands when I read this post by Catherine Caffeinated, and realised that social media is just word of mouth on a grand scale.

Now that simple concept may be obvious to you, but I it wasn’t obvious to me. I saw word of mouth as the only real way of achieving success, yes, but I dismissed social media as nothing but advertising.

Not all social media, of course. I love my blog, so it doesn’t count as advertising, but Twitter? Facebook? Goodreads? The truth is I don’t love those media.  Why should I waste valuable writing time on something that is just <<cue evil music>> advertising? Especially when it doesn’t seem to work anyway…

I doubt my ‘duh’ moment will increase my presence on either Twitter or Facebook, however it will increase the time I spend on Goodreads. Why? Because I love talking about books with people who share my passions. The only thing that has kept me away from Goodreads in the past has been my dislike of the user interface. It really is horribly clunky.

So there you have it – my personal moment of revelation. If you’ve been like me, and avoiding social media like an STD, please read this eye-opening article.

Happy Monday!


Vokhtah reviews growing. Can I get any happier?

Yesterday I was down in the dumps because I was obsessing about getting my photo taken. Today I am literally floating up near the ceiling somewhere! I now have 6 reviews of Vokhtah up on Amazon, and each and everyone of them likes the story!

One of the reviews I requested from Jonathon B, a very nice guy who reviews Indie science fiction. The second is from a complete stranger called MrW. The two reviews are very different but I think I’ll frame them both! See for yourselves. [I’ve cut and pasted straight from Amazon].

Review by Jonathon B

In Vokhtah, the author gives us a rich and satisfying tapestry of a world: alien, strange, and gratifying. This is not a particularly easy read, one in which you skim while half-watching tv or munching on a sandwich. The book deserves the reader’s full attention so that all the nuances and details are caught and absorbed.

On the surface, this book tells the tale of two races, possibly a lot closer related than most of them would like to admit. The Vokh are the supposed rulers of the planet; strong, fierce, and driven, fighting with one another to gain status and holdings. The iVokh serve them, from running their holdings to managing their health to running the economy to serving as basic drudges. Yet the Guild of Healers serve as a sort of governor on the Vokh, surreptitiously killing any Vokh they label as abominations.

When one Blue, (one of the three factions of the Guild of Healers) disagrees with the specifics of a decision to kill a particular Vokh, he embarks on a dangerous journey in an attempt to maneuver the situation to uphold the decree, yet in a manner that the Vokh do not become aware of the guild’s machinations.

One problem I have with too many books dealing with other forms of intelligent life is that they tend to be overly anthropomorphized. They are merely humans in otherworld bodies. The Vokh and iVokh most certainly do not fall into this trap. They are decidedly “not-human,” yet the author is able to paint such a detailed picture that we are able to understand them, their motives, their ways of thinking. Within the framework of the author’s universe, there is logic and reasonability. It all makes sense.

The detail into which the author delves is simply a joy to behold. The author’s imagination is quite obviously prodigious, but then the ability to transfer that imagination into the written word is impressive. Equally impressive are the descriptive passages of action and even simple settings. I was able to see the author’s vision quite clearly in my mind.

All told, I really enjoyed this book. I enthusiastically recommend it.

(Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book with a request for a review.)

Review by Mr.W [4 stars]

I can’t figure out these creatures. Evening on this planet is a hermaphrodite. However, one you’re past the bugs, the story is incredible. I would give it five stars if I could get a handle on the super weird creatures in this story. If you like Sci-Fi and weird creatures you will want to probably marry this author. Other Sci-Fi fans, just enjoy this great story.

Rainy day maintenance

The heatwave has ended with a downpour and everyone is happy except for the poor alpacas who are soaked and miserable. In honour of the cooler weather I decided to learn how to use WordPress a little better. My home page now has the following changes :

– Uploaded an image of the Vokhtah calendar. It may look like a pretty patchwork quilt but it literally took days of trial and error on a graphics program to get it right. The calendar shows one cycle [year] in the life of the planet as it orbits the G2 star [Takh] of the binary system. I’m no astronomer so working out the light and dark [day and night] cycles has been hell. Thankfully I now have a reference for the seasons as well as a much better idea of what the Vokh and iVokh would see when they venture out of their eyries during different parts of the cycle. Phew!

– I added a Links widget to the home page so I could provide easy access to my [ new ] favourite  authors. There are only three so far but all three have added new dimensions to my reading and I would recommend them to anyone who loves good writing in any genre [or no genre at all!].

– tidied up a few bits and pieces – such as making the title of the Goodreads widget a bit clearer. Now all I have to do is find the time to update Goodreads with reviews and books read…. -sigh- no wick for the rested.

I’ll try and post something a little more interesting tomorrow but for now I really, really need another coffee…

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