Amazon

It’s August – It’s Write An Amazon Review Month! #AugustReviews

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August 2016 is Write An Amazon Review Month! 

On Monday 25th July, book blogger Rosie Amber wrote this post encouraging readers and writers alike to post a short review on Amazon for any book they’ve read and enjoyed ~ following this up, writer Terry Tyler is starting this initiative along with other writer-bloggers including Rosie, Cathy from Between The Lines, Barb Taub, Shelley Wilson and me!

Paper cut of heart on old book

 

The idea is that, during August, everyone who reads this uses their Amazon account to post just one review on one book that they’ve read (but feel free to carry on if you get in the swing!). You don’t even have to have read it recently, it can be any book you’ve read, any time.  The book does not have to have been purchased from Amazon, though if it, your review will show the ‘Verified Purchase’ tag; however, if you download all your books via Kindle Unlimited, as many do these days, they don’t show the VP tag, anyway.

Remember, this isn’t the Times Literary Supplement, it’s Amazon, where ordinary people go to choose their next £1.99 Kindle book.  No one expects you to write a thousand word, in-depth critique; I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to read one short paragraph or a couple of lines saying what an average reader thought of a book, than a long-winded essay about the pros and cons of the various literary techniques used.  Yes, those are welcome too (!), but no more so than a few words saying “I loved this book, I was up reading it until 3am”, or “I loved Jim and Vivien and the dialogue was so realistic”, or whatever!

Why should you write a review?

  • They help book buyers make decisions.  Don’t you read the reviews on Trip Advisor before deciding on a hotel, or any site from which you might buy an item for practical use?  Book reviews are no different.
  • If the book is by a self-published author, or published by an independent press, the writers have to do all their promotion and marketing themselves ~ reviews from the reading public is their one free helping hand.
  • The amount of reviews on Amazon helps a book’s visibility (allegedly).  If you love a writer’s work and want others to do so, too, this is the best possible way of making this happen.
  • It’s your good deed for the day, and will only take five minutes!

 

thank author

 

Off we go, then!  A few more pointers:

  • If you need any help with writing your review, do click on Rosie’s post, above.
  • A review can be as short as one word.
  • You don’t have to put your name to the review, as your Amazon ‘handle’ can be anything you like.
  • No writer expects all their reviews to be 5* and say the book is the best thing ever written; there is a star rating guide on Rosie’s post.
  • Would you like to tell the Twittersphere about your review?  If so, tweet the link to it with the hashtag #AugustReviews ~ and thank you!  Terry will do one blog post a week featuring these links: The #AugustReviews Hall of Fame (thank you, Barb!).

If you have a blog and would like to spread the word about #AugustReviews, please feel free to copy and paste this blog post, provide the link to it, re-blog it, or whatever ~ many thanks, and we hope you will join in to make this idea a success 🙂

 

 

 

‘Round Trip Fare’ by Barb Taub – preorder now available @barbtaub

Round Trip Fare, the newest book in Barb Taub’s Null City series, is now available for preorder from Amazon.

**Although a sequel to Book 1 (One Way Fare), this is the stand alone story of twins Carey and Connor Parker.


 

Round Trip Fare
by Barb Taub

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Available now for pre-order from Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Is it wrong that shooting people is just so much easier than making decisions? Carey wonders— and not for the first time. But the Agency claims this will be an easy one. A quick pickup of a missing teen and she won’t even have to shoot anybody. Probably.

Carey knows superpowers suck, her own included. From childhood she’s only had two options. She can take the Metro train to Null City and a normal life. After one day there, imps become baristas, and hellhounds become poodles. Demons settle down, join the PTA, and worry about their taxes. Or she can master the powers of her warrior gift and fight a war she can’t win, in a world where she never learned how to lose.

And then there is… him. For the past two months, a dark stranger has persistently edged his way onto the mental game board behind her eyelids. Well, whatever trouble he’s selling, Carey Parker is not buying. Her to-do list is already long enough: find her brother and sister, rescue her roommate, save Null City, and castrate her ex-boyfriend. Preferably with a dull-edged garden tool. A rusty one.

She just has a few details to work out first. Her parents have been killed, her brother and sister targeted, and the newest leader of the angels trying to destroy Null City might be the one person she loves most in the world. And her sexy new partner’s gift lets him predict deaths. Hers.


 

  • TITLE: Round Trip Fare
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy (okay and there is humor, romance, a sentient train, a great dog, and bunch of other stuff—but Amazon only gives you a couple of words to pick genre, so…)
  • Series: Null City [NOTE: prequel One Way Fare is now available FREE from Barnes & Noble and Kobo, and the kindle version directly from Barb) but this book works as standalone.
  • Release date: 7 April, 2016

Contact & Buy Links

Blog | Facebook | Twitter: @barbtaub | Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK


 

Barb pix 300 dpiBarb Taub:

In halcyon days BC (before children), Barb wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. With the arrival of Child #4, she veered toward the dark side and an HR career. Following a daring daytime escape to England, she’s lived in a medieval castle and a hobbit house with her prince-of-a-guy and the World’s Most Spoiled AussieDog. Now all her days are Saturdays, and she spends them traveling around the world, plus consulting with her daughter on Marvel heroes, Null City, and translating from British to American.


 

Excerpt: ROUND TRIP FARE

Round Trip Fare RWA Contest Finalist 2015Was it wrong that shooting people was so much easier than finishing up the humanities requirements for her criminal justice degree? Carey Parker sipped her coffee and—not for the first time—wondered about herself. But the Agency said this would be an easy one. A quick pickup and she wouldn’t even have to shoot anybody. Probably.

There were two distinct advantages to her corner table at the rear of the self-consciously artistic coffee shop on the edge of Seattle’s eclectic Fremont district. Nobody could see her screen, and—infinitely more important—she had sole possession of the outlet currently charging both iPad and phone. She checked her iPad’s video screen to make sure the blonde teen she was tracking still had no idea she was being studied. Well, okay—studied along with the research materials for Carey’s overdue Humanities 201 essay. “Discuss the relationship of capitalism and patriarchal post constructivist theory. Provide data and cite literature supporting your thesis.” She squinted at the assignment, minimized to parallel the video window, and cringed.

Enlarging the video, Carey automatically evaluated her target. The teenager was a few inches under Carey’s own five-five. But where Carey’s cargo pants and hoodie hid a leanly muscled frame and a surprising number of weapons, the other girl’s designer Goth outfit made the most of her soft curves. Plus that pink streak in the younger girl’s hair was a little too shiny, her dark eyeliner a bit too creamy, while her wannabe goth leather jacket, fitted black T-shirt, and long dark skirt screamed Nordstrom personal shopper and Daddy’s credit card.

A lifetime of training—three years at the Academy, four more in the field—and they send me after Goth-Barbie. Carey sighed. Is it even worth it? But a flash memory—her guardian Harry’s blood-drenched golden hair, the almost-forgotten faces of her murdered parents, her missing brother and sister—stopped her. If she had a prayer of finding Gaby and Connor, she couldn’t afford to give up the all-important info access the Agency jobs provided. And then there was…him. For the past two months, the dark stranger had persistently edged his way onto the mental game board behind her eyelids where her harmonia gift visualized connections only she could view. Whatever trouble Mr. Six-Feet-Plus of arrogance is selling, I’m sure not buying.

“Excuse me. Do you need both outlets?”

Carey looked up to see the blonde standing in front of her, expectantly holding up her power cord. “Yes.” She returned her focus to the iPad screen, ignoring the muttered “bitch” as the girl went over to try her smile on the men two tables over. Her reversed video window showed the younger girl breathlessly thanking the man who leaped to free up an outlet for her. As she leaned over their table, the men’s eyes lit with appreciation for the way she maximized scoop-neck T-shirt, youth, and the best technology the foundations industry had to offer. Guess there’s all kinds of ways to say thank you.

Shrugging, Carey returned to her own essay assignment. Her business partner, Marley, was pushing her to finish the degree that would let them bill the Agency at a higher rate. But at twenty-four Carey felt a generation older than her fellow students. With her erratic hours, she had to take classes offering online options whenever possible, so she was currently sentenced to Humanities 201: Postmodernist Applications for Economic Themes in Literature.

“What took you so long? I’ve been waiting here for ages.”

At the sex-kitten whine, Carey’s eyes flicked back to the little video window to see the other girl pouting up at a new arrival. But her complaints didn’t stop her from giving the young man—a boy, really, although Marley’s data sheet said he was nineteen—a thorough tonsil cleaning. Pulling away, he threw himself into a dramatic slouch across the next chair, giving Carey her first good look at him. He was thin, but more like an adolescent whose slender arms and legs had yet to develop a man’s solid outlines. His pale fallen-angel face sulked behind long hair too carefully slashed and tossed over one eye to be accidental. He looked, Carey thought, beautiful and brooding and more than a little stupid. Score!

Pretending to check her phone, Carey took a quick picture of the boy and texted it along with the address of the coffee shop. It had only been a few days since he’d left home and stopped showing up at his classes or part-time job. Too little time for the police to be concerned, but long enough for his frantic parents to agree to her search fee. Setting the phone aside, she adjusted her video window to give him a critical once-over. But he didn’t seem any more pale or unhealthy than would be explained by devotion to the laptop he was even now pulling out and opening.

“Get me a coffee?” He didn’t look up from his laptop as he spoke. The girl pouted again but bounced off. Returning with a cup for each of them, she leaned forward to lay a gentle hand on his arm. “Is your poem cycle done yet?” The boy shook his head impatiently, fingers tapping at his laptop’s keyboard. She smiled. “Don’t worry. Now that I’m here, it will go so much better.” He blinked, and shivered. She breathed in and smiled again. His typing increased, his face intent on the screen.

Carey flipped the cover down on her iPad, rewound its power cable as well as the one for her phone, and stored them in their specially padded—okay, armored—case. The Apple people had been incredibly nice about that last bullet incident, but she could just hear Marley explaining, again, how their little company couldn’t afford to keep buying her new iPads. Setting the case into the backpack hanging behind her corner chair, Carey leaned both elbows on the table, peering over the brim of her raised coffee cup. Excellent coffee, she decided. Wonder if they roast it themselves?

Finally the two men, the only other customers in the secluded rear room, stood up and left. She took a final look around at the coffee shop’s rear seating area—one door, no windows or other access—and left to talk to the barista in the front room of the coffee shop. Twenty dollars later, Carey taped a handwritten sign—“Rear room reserved for private meeting”—to the outside of the door. Stepping back inside the room, empty now except for the younger couple, she closed the door behind her and stopped in front of the boy.

“Your mother is worried about you, Will.” His automatic sneer came a fraction too late to cover his stunned expression. Before he could speak, she turned to the girl. “It’s time to go, Leigh Ann.”

“The name is Leannán.”

Carey laughed. “Well, Leannán Sí…” She pronounced each Gaelic syllable with exaggerated care, L’ann-AN Shee. “Since you refuse to honor the Accords Agreement, the Council feels it’s time for you to go to Null City. Let’s go. I have a class this afternoon, and I don’t want to be late again.”

The boy started to stand, trying to look tough, but only managing to achieve the ferocity of a puppy protecting his favorite chew toy. “We don’t have to go anywhere with you. Get your stuff, Leigh Ann. We’re outta here.”

“Actually.” Carey’s voice was quiet. “You’re half right.” Her hand shot out and pressed his stomach. “You don’t need to go with me.” His breath whooshed out, and all three looked down at the tiny needle as she pulled her hand back. A moment later, his legs buckled, and Carey guided his falling body back down to his chair. He slumped there, head hanging awkwardly.

Leigh Ann stared from Will to Carey, eyes round. “Is he…?”

“He’s fine.” Carey turned to the girl and pointed to her corner table. “Sit. And don’t even think about talking.”

Carey checked the boy’s pulse and nodded to herself in relief. As a young witch, her friend Claire’s sleep spells wore off pretty quickly because she had to boil down the spelled water to make it take effect so fast. He’d probably just wake up with a hell of a headache. She arranged his head on his arms as if he was taking a quick nap in front of his laptop. In an afterthought, she picked up his fedora from the floor and pulled it onto his head, hiding his face.

Returning to the scowling girl at her table, she took a small book of forms from her backpack and started filling out the top page.

“You can’t just—” Leigh Ann sputtered.

Without looking up Carey showed her the hand. “What did I tell you not to do?” The girl fidgeted for another minute as Carey frowned at the form in front of her. Finally she looked up. “How old are you again?”

“Nineteen. And I don’t…”

Carey shook a warning finger without looking up. “I hate these Accords forms. You have to make sure you fill in every last blank or those badgers in accounting will hold up your check.” She made a final note, put the notebook away, and pulled out her phone to check the time. “They should be here by now. Must be that damn bridge traffic.”

“Who?”

Carey jerked her head toward the next table. “Sleeping Beauty’s parents. I’ve found it best to collect my fee on the spot. People’s memories tend to…fade…otherwise.”

“Wait.” Leigh Ann sounded indignant. “You were hired to find Will?”

“Nah, he was just a bonus. One of his friends told the Agency that he’d disappeared with a Leannán Sí. I used him to find you because I have an authorized ARC warrant for you.”

“ARC?”

“Accords Recovery and Capture.” When the girl still looked confused, Carey sighed. “Amateurs. I’m an Accords Warden licensed for paranormal recoveries, and I’m serving an ARC warrant in your name. That reminds me.” She rooted through the pocket of her backpack for the laminated card and set her phone camera to video. Centering the camera view screen on Leigh Ann’s face, she pushed record, and began to read the card. “By the authority of Accords Agency warrant number 110309A57, I charge you, Leigh Ann—” Pausing, she looked over to the form she’d filled out before returning to the card. “—Leigh Ann Shay, a practicing Leannán Sí, to accompany me to the Council Headquarters. If you request a hearing, you are entitled to representation. Otherwise, you are sentenced to five years of Null City residency without an amnesty day. This recovery and your rights are specified in Amendment 3, sections 7-18 of the Accords Agreement of 1998. The current time is 15:57 on March 7, 2011. Carey Parker, Accords Adjunct Warden License 07823 class 3, submitting authorized Accords Recovery and Capture statement.” She turned off the camera and played back the recording. Satisfied, she uploaded it to Agency servers, put her phone and the card back into her backpack, and faced the girl.

Leigh Ann looked uncertain. “Null City?”

Carey looked at her curiously. “You don’t know about the City?”

“Yeah, and I know about the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny too. Come on. You really believe there’s a city you get to on a magic train, and after a day there you become a normal human?”

“Since my family founded it, yeah. I kinda do believe it.” She leaned back in her chair to consider the teenager in front of her. “You could have killed that boy, Leigh Ann. What could be worth his death?”

The girl widened soft blue eyes at her. “I’m a Leannán Sí. He’s a writer, and I would have given him an intense, brilliantly inspired life of creating masterpieces. So what if it would have been a short one? It’s got to be better to go as a blazing star than stay as a…” Her voice trailed off as a snore filtered from beneath the fedora.

“Did you give him a choice? Did you say to him, ‘Will, I’ll be your muse and give you lots of coffee-shop kissing although the actual sex won’t be that great, and there’s the whole die young thing… But you won’t mind because it will all be for your Art’?”

Leigh Ann frowned. “The sex wouldn’t have been that bad.”

Carey snorted. “And actually, that masterpiece he was producing?” She reached over to snag Will’s computer and pulled it around to face Leigh Ann. “First thing I did was put a keystroke tracker onto his laptop. And believe me, reading that drivel was almost as bad as my humanities essay. He copied most of it from last month’s Poetry!Slam online. Here’s what he was actually writing.” She selected Recent Documents on the laptop and opened the top file listed.

The younger girl’s eyes widened. “Fanfiction?” She peered at the screen and looked like she might be sick. “One Direction fanfiction?”

“Nothing wrong with fanfiction.” Carey raised an eyebrow. “We’ve all done it. But Will’s was…” She shuddered. “Really, really bad.” She looked curiously at the younger girl and waved at the snoring boy. “Why did you do it?”

Leigh Ann looked down at her clasped hands. “My parents were killed just before the war ended. When Haven and Gifts signed the Accords in 1995, I was sent to live with my father’s cousins. They had a little apple orchard up on the Olympic Peninsula, and there wasn’t much money. Everyone had to work pretty hard all the time, just to get food to eat and a few clothes. But I knew there was something different inside me. Something that would inspire beauty and genius and glorious creativity.”

Carey stared at her. “Well, that’s an entire pickup truck full of prime-quality manure.”

“Was it the farm?” Leigh Ann frowned. “The orphan bit?

Blackwater – out now!

 ‘How will you protect her from lies? From superstition? How will you protect her when your father comes calling, with threats and accusations? When a mob comes to our door?’

In a time when death is common, life is cheap and superstition rife, anyone can find their world torn apart by gossip and accusations. Can one lonely girl find the love and companionship she craves? Or will her heart lead her into more danger than she can imagine?

Lizzie Prentice, daughter of a cunning woman, is no stranger to scandal. She carries it with her, like the scar on her forehead. Samuel Pendle, her protector since childhood, could hold the key to a normal, safe life. But when Samuel defies his parents, it seems that history is bound to repeat itself and Lizzie’s life is at risk. 

‘Blackwater’, prequel to the historical novel ‘The Black Hours’, follows Lizzie as she strives to escape the same terrible fate her parents suffered; her life thrown into turmoil, and everything she holds dear at stake, but determined to find happiness  in a world of intolerance, cruelty and hate.

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Since publishing ‘The Black Hours’ I have been asked about the story of Maggie and her daughter Elizabeth, and what happened to them before ‘The Black Hours’ begins. I knew their story before I started writing ‘The Black Hours’ of course, and so I have written a prequel, ‘Blackwater.’

‘Blackwater’ is out now and is free to download from the Smashwords site. You can find it here. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t allow independent authors to list books for free, so it is priced at 75p or 0.99c here. I am hoping that Amazon will price match it and that it will soon be free on their site too.

Here is an excerpt to whet your appetite!

BLACKWATER

Chapter 1

 Lizzie could feel the scar under her fingers. It began just below her hairline and stretched in a puckered ridge to the edge of her left eyebrow, the flesh uneven beneath her touch. Although she had rarely seen the scar herself, she knew from the averted eyes of others that it had not much faded; that, even after seven years it still marred her young face, whatever her mother might say. She pulled at a lock of yellow hair now, arranging it over the ruined skin. Her mother was watching from the hearth.

‘Leave it now, Lizzie. We need to go. I know it’s not a long walk to Finchampstead, but I do want to get there early.’

Lizzie turned and tried to smile, though her mother’s words made her heart heavy.

‘I’m ready, Mother.’ She paused, pursing her lips. ‘Although, must we go? It will be so busy. You know how it will be. All those people pushing and shoving at each other to get the best view. It’s horrible.’

Maggie sighed. Walking over to Lizzie, she tucked some loose strands of hair behind the girl’s ear.

‘Lizzie, I know you hate it but we have talked about this. You need to think of those women. Think how afraid they must be today. Stepping out into that jeering and shouting to meet their deaths. And not one look of kindness to fall on their poor heads. Not one bit of comfort. Would you deny them that? We must be there.’

Lizzie nodded, ashamed of her selfishness.

‘I’m sorry. It’s just that I hate the staring. The whispers behind our backs. And I hate to see their suffering.’

‘I know you do, but you know, it’s something you will get used to. If you are to follow me in my work. Don’t be ashamed of what we do. There are many women in these parts grateful to me for their very lives. You know that from the gifts left on the doorstep! Now stop fiddling with your hair. The scar is not as bad as you think it. And besides, if it was twice as big and twice as red, you’d still be the most beautiful girl in Eversley!’

The women stepped out of the cottage into the bright sunlight. It was unseasonably warm and the weather had encouraged plenty of spectators who now thronged the narrow lane despite the early hour, all making their way to the scene of the executions. Lizzie could never understand the fascination of these people for the spectacle of death. Her mother had made her attend executions as soon as she had been old enough, although what age was suitable to witness that horrible sight, Lizzie didn’t know. But Maggie’s reasons for attending were far removed from those of these other early travellers. Lizzie had witnessed it far more often than she cared to remember. The villagers treated these occasions as holidays. They wore their best clothes and thought nothing of bringing their children along, some mere babes in arms. They happily bought refreshments from vendors who did a brisk trade both before and after the executions. There seemed to be no compassion for the poor souls who would be the focus of the spectacle. Lizzie scowled as she was jostled by a large woman, striding along the lane with her children in tow.

‘I can’t understand how they bring their children with them. Or why they come at all for that matter.’

Maggie sighed.

‘Their lives are dull, Lizzie, and this is a bit of excitement.’

Lizzie bristled.

‘The deaths of their neighbours? Of those they have known all their lives? It is bad enough they have accused their friends, without enjoying their murders.’

Maggie gave Lizzie a warning look.

‘Be careful, keep your voice down. You know how it is, we have discussed it often enough. These people are poor, their lives are hard. When things go wrong, as they do so often, they look for someone to blame.’

‘But why blame those who have helped them in the past? The people who have given them cures, helped them when they were desperate?’

Her mother shook her head, her eyes sad. Lizzie knew that Maggie herself had suffered suspicion and persecution all her life.

‘Because they are scared. Because it is easy to turn on those who don’t fit in, who are different.’

Lizzie felt a shiver of fear.

‘Those like us?’

‘You know Lizzie, I have spent my life working with the plants of the earth, using those things that nature has been kind enough to give us, to help us if we only open our eyes and know where to look. And, yes, I have been shunned by some; have even been accused by others of terrible things.’ She paused, a shadow darkening her face. ‘You know it has not been easy. Moving around from place to place.’

Lizzie nodded. They had indeed moved at least five or six times before coming to Eversley when Lizzie was seven. They were lucky to have been able to stay here for as long as they had. In those years, Lizzie had seen the good that Maggie did, witnessed the gratitude of those helped in their most desperate times, and when she had been allowed to assist Maggie in that most wonderful feat of nature, aiding at the births of so many babies, she had known that, despite the danger, the work they did, the work that she would continue, was worthwhile and right. Even when they heard horrible tales of women like them, accused, frightened, tortured and eventually led to their deaths at the noose, she knew that she would carry on Maggie’s work – it was what she was born to do. So now, in the midst of these excited crowds, who would soon cheer as those poor women swung from the ropes, she tried to be brave, tried to ready herself to bring some small comfort to them in their hour of need. For in the back of her mind was the knowledge that one day she might have need of that same fellow feeling, that same small comfort, if suspicion and fear ever came knocking at her door.