Online Book Club – Write Reviews for Free Books and Get Paid #amreading #amwriting

Free Books for Reviews – The Online Book Club Review Program

Forums for Book and eBook Lovers

I’ve been a member of the Online Book Club forums, forums.onlinebookclub.org, for several months now, and it’s been a great way to see books I might never otherwise hear about. People in the forums talk about books of all types, but the main focus is on ebooks, especially those released through programs like Kindle Direct Publishing. Online Book Club has a mailing list which features new releases from authors in the forums. Many of these books are offered absolutely free, while others can be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. All books have been vetted and reviewed by a team of reviewers – and you can join the team!

Reviewers Get Paid, but it’s no day job…

As they say, the main draw for reviewers has always been the exchange of books for reviews. No one goes into this expecting to get rich or anything! As a serious writer, however, I need to read, so this program appeals to me as a way to get some pocket change while I keep up with what independent authors like me are writing. If you are a writer yourself, or you just like to read a lot, this is a chance for you to get a bit of money for something you already do. So if you don’t read very much already – you won’t get much out of this.

As a new reviewer, you can probably expect not to get paid at first. You still get free books, and your review will be featured to members of the forums. By participating in the forums and reviewing as often as you can, you can expect to get better opportunities for reviews as you go. Once you do get paid, you can expect between $5 – $60 per review.

Myself, I only read through 1 or 2 books every month. I listen to many more on audio – I have an hour long drive to work, and I like to use that time, darn it! However, I am reading, and I will use this review program not so much for the money, but for a chance to keep up with current writing trends and to network with other authors.

This program seems worthwhile if you also need motivation to keep reading, or if you already read a lot.

First Impressions – Fade to Black by Tim McBain & L.T. Vargus

Awake in the Dark

Howdy! I’ve got a First Impression here. I’m looking at Fade to Black today because one of the authors contacted me and asked me to. Yeah, I do that kind of thing, when I can.

At the Amazon page for the Awake in the Dark series, I read the first chapters of Fade to Black by Tim McBain & L.T. Vargus.

It starts off with:

Any minute now a hooded man will come barreling out of nowhere and kill me.
So that sucks.
I know this because it has happened six times before. I wake up in this alley, hung from a post by a piece of rope lashed to one ankle, tied in a hangman’s knot. After several minutes of work, I pry my bonds free, and about thirty seconds after I hit the ground, this guy in a black hooded robe gives me a pretty bad case of death.

So that gives a pretty good idea of the “voice” of this work – witty, sardonic, and dark all mingled nicely. It’s a funny read with a quick pace, making for nice easy reading. The narrative is a little raw at times – I thought it could have been a bit crisper. There are few too many adjectives and adverbs for my critical eye, but the style can be justified as the main character’s storytelling. I thought some lines were trying too hard to be witty, but overall I appreciated the humour.

The story starts with a nicely intense sequence with Jeff Grobnagger running from someone trying to kill him. The reader learns that Jeff has run down this datrk alley before and has been killed already, six times before! The reader then finds out that Jeff passed out from a seizure while in a grocery store and had the dream or vision of his own grizzly death. Jeff is helped by Glenn, another customer at the store. Jeff, refusing to take an ambulance, instead accepts a ride to Glenn’s home.  Glenn thinks that Jeff’s seizures are a form of astral projection, and Glenn reveals that his missing daughter was involved with groups interested in magic and the occult.

This all happens in the first 2 chapters, so it’s a lot. I appreciate the fast pace, however I really thought it odd that Glenn reveals so much right away. It was a bit of a stretch to go from “I’ll help this guy who passed out” to “I’ll take him home” and then to “I’ll tell him everything about my missing daughter”. Sure, it gets the exposition out of the way quickly and gets the story going, but I would have appreciated a little more justification. (I have to admit – this might be part of the humour going straight over my head…)

Thanks to the fast pace and humour, this is a series I’ll definitely try out. At the very least, I’ll check out the first book in the series – it’s less than $1 for Kindle.

Other things I’ve learned from looking in to this:

  • Having a dirt cheap or free first book in your series is really effective
  • Never be afraid to contact bloggers / authors and ask them to check out your free sample
  • Make sure you have a free sample that rocks

Check out the Awake in the Dark Series on Amazon:

L.T. Vargus can be found at ltvargus.com

Tim McBain can be found on Twitter, @RealTimMcBain

First Impressions – Conviction by M. Howalt

My attention turns to Conviction, another serial on Jukepop

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The author, M. Howalt, frequently replies to posts here (Hi! Always a pleasure to see you here!), so how could I not?

I’m now somewhere in the 5th installment of Conviction, and this post is about why you’ll want to check more of it out after the first chapter.

This story establishes a mood and a character very quickly, with the protagonist Iliya Radov trying to recover his memory in a horrible jail cell. As his cell is described, there are great little lines like “The paint and the plaster of his mind were crumbling, and it would be only a matter of time before he broke” that get the reader into this man’s head. At the end a bit of hope, a man who knows Iliya, and whom Illiya seems to have some fractured memory of. What does this man want? Illyia is an ‘Infantry Assault Wizard’? Such tantalizing clues!

It’s a lot to take in, but I think most readers will be drawn in by exactly that! I’ve kept on reading because of the mysteries and the simple narrative that navigates them quickly. That’s why I encourage you, dear reader, to check this out. Be sure to post your thoughts – let me know if you enjoyed Conviction as well!

First Impressions – Flocked by Ryan Watt

Hello everyone!

It’s high time I made another content post, even if it is a short one.

As a writer on Jukepop and Inkshares, I’m discovering new works all the time as I write my own. I’ll be using posts like this one to give my first impressions of new works that I discover – like my earlier reviews, but quicker and aimed at getting readers interested in discovering new authors.

If you want your serial featured here, just send me a message. I am always looking for new reads!


 

Today’s First Impression — “Flocked” by Ryan Watt.

At time of writing, this story has … wait, let me check … whoa, 77 chapters! Oh, and it’s one of 3 stories maintained by this author!

In the first chapter, the reader gets an introduction to the fairytale world shared by Heroes of the Fabled Age (which may also get a First Impression writeup later on). Right from the start there’s a very fairytale  setup, with princesses, curses, and an honourable quest. We learn that Cyril, intrepid member of the Guild of Feathers, has taken the King’s challenge to resolve the strange curse on his beloved daughters. Cyril, however, is not a typical knight in armour – he has his own curse to live with.

The prose is fairly sharp – I think the writing was cared for and well-edited. From the start, I get the impression of a world that follows some of the fairytale conventions, and yet hides twists and nuances behind the familiar. There’s a clear sense of mystery – more than enough to get me interested in reading the next chapter and beyond.

Flocked will go on my Jukepop bookshelf, and I think it should be on yours too. Go check it out!


 

 

Oh yeah, Far Flung. It’s coming! I’m working on the 5th part now – I think 2 entries per month will be my comfortable output for this tale.

Quick Review – Lyncia by J.A. Waters

It’s been too long since I’ve done a review.

Time to remedy that!

I’ll do a shorter style of review from now on – I’m working hard on Far Flung and a story for the Busan Writing Group! Far Flung will update on Back to the Future Day, and the first draft of my BWG story is due a week later on October 28.

Okay, so, Lyncia by J. A. Waters:

I’ll base this review solely off Chapter 1.

The Good:

Characterization and worldbuilding come quickly into the piece, as the narrator describes a sparring session. His emotions come through easily in the prose, allowing the reader to quickly get into the action. While this is going on, background information is woven in naturally, allowing a glimpse at the grand scope of things to come.

The Could-be-better:

I shouldn’t say too much after just the beginning. There is a bit much information – I felt like there were a few too many names or facts to take in right at first. However, it is the beginning, so a bit of infodump is necessary.

My takeaway:

A solid start, and a fascinating lead-in to what promises to be an epic fantasy. I tried to give a similar sense of the wonder and scale of Far Flung in its opening – time will tell how well I succeeded.

The author has a wiki devoted to keeping characters and places straight, and he has even generated maps with detailed geographical details. I also noted many, many replies to the feedback given to his story.

I’ve been in touch with the author, actually, and I will very soon post answers to a few questions I asked about undertaking such a serial story. Until then, take your hoverboard and chill out with some Pepsi Perfect at Cafe 80’s!

Friday Review – Chapter 1 & 2 of Quetzalcoatl by Joan Albright (Jukepop)

Back to Jukepop again! I’m conducting research into the serials that are popular, making sure that what I submit will fit in well.

This weeks story is a promising sci-fi serial called Quetzalcoatl.

The Good

From the start, it’s clear that this story is familiar yet different. We’ve got a cruise ship in space, like a lot of old-school sci-fi, yet it’s clearly not dominated by American culture and ideals. As multicultural as Star Trek always was, it could never quite shake its distinctly American roots – and nor could so much of the other sci-fi it inspired. Quetzalcoatl avoids the problem right off by making it crystal clear where this ship and crew is from – the name Quetzalcoatl is a Meso-American deity, and the ship in the story is named Peru.

Another factor I really like is the gradual buildup – the story takes its time to establish a setting, yet it doesn’t take too long to reach the first crisis. On the way to that crisis, the details of the cruise ship and the lives of those on it gradually come out in slow, natural ways. I already appreciate the characters and the setting, and the slow attention to detail had me hooked by the end of the second chapter.

The Could-be-Better

I understand that this story, unlike the last one I reviewed, is not yet published, and is still undergoing editing. I agree with one criticism on the Jukepop page about this paragraph:

It was often difficult for first-time passengers to orient themselves to the outward push of the ship’s artificial gravity, especially on the outermost decks of the flattened sphere, where observation windows made up much of the flooring. More confusing was the way the force became weaker the further one went from the core, as opposed to the centrifuge-based gravity employed by less advanced spacecraft. Eva had been on board so long that she no longer thought of it as strange.

Around this paragraph, the reader is seeing the character Eva and her thoughts, but here, a bit of an external point-of-view seeps into the narrative. A consistent POV that focuses on what Eva sees and thinks would improve it greatly.

My Takeaway

After only 2 short chapters, the story is already intriguing and has interesting characters. The slow buildup and natural pacing really shine, ensuring that readers will want more.


The serial-in-progress Quetzalcoatl can be found at jukepop.com/home/read/8806.

Joan Albright can be found at www.joanalbright.net.

Friday Review – Chapter 1 of Rise by Brian Guthrie

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With my Canada trip well and truly over, it’s time to get back to the reviews.

First, a little backstory as to why I’ve settled on today’s choice. I’ve had my eye on Jukepop for a while now, and I am currently working away on a submission for a serial on their site. Jukepop seems like a good place to start with a continuing serial of stories – at the very least, they seem to be a place to gather a decent audience and a community of readers and reviewers.

I start my serious  investigation into Jukepop by picking one of the most popular stories. Many have already commented on this, but I’ll toss in my 2 cents, along with my usual look at what I, as an author, can learn from it.

Rise: Tears, Chapter 1 – Paper

The unedited version, before its publication, can still be seen on Jukepop.com.

The preview on the book’s Amazon page provides the first chapter for free. I am basing this review on the finished Amazon version of the first chapter.

This story caught my eye immediately with the first line from its blurb – “On a shattered world protected from the cold of space by a water shield, the people are dependent on Ancient technology to survive.” What a neat hook! It promises a world different than ours, and yet this story begins with the very mundane and known – paper, of all things.

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