My View Today

And it is stupid cold. If it weren’t windy, I could be out trying to photograph frozen bubbles. It is snowing heavy enough that it was a challenge to get a pic of my front Maple that wasn’t blurry. I didn’t quite manage it.

Snowy Fall Maple
Snowy Fall Maple

I’m hoping the snow stops soon and gives the streets a chance to melt off because MC drove to school today and he has never driven in snow. It wouldn’t bother me if he were a few short miles from home, but we live really close to the farthest edge of the district, which means a good 20 minute drive on 50+ MPH highways and a few side roads. We did tell him to take the bus home if it was still bad when school lets out. Now we get to see how well he listened.

Oh, and a bit of a brag moment… MC got accepted into his top 2 colleges. We are now in wait and see mode on any scholarships.

It’s The Quiet

Have you ever been sitting around when the power was out and been stunned at how quiet it really is? You only notice how much noise you are surrounded by on a constant basis when that noise is gone.

It has been the lack of those subtle, background noises that has been the thing to trip me up the most since saying goodbye to Izzy the other day. I never expected it because she had always been a really quiet dog, unless she was drinking (anyone who has ever had a dog knows about the extended, repetitive slurp that lasts for ten minutes). She never was one to bark or whine. The most you would get was the occasional whimper when she was dreaming of chasing bunnies.

But yesterday, I noticed all the sounds that should have been there that weren’t. Mostly her nails clicking on the wood or the tile as she walked or shifted her position. She always chose the hard surfaces to lay on, so even something as simple as her moving would get at least a small click of a nail. That absence was so unexpected and shocking because it wasn’t something I ever really noticed or paid attention to.

You would think that as used to the quiet as I am since I’m home by myself the majority of every day that something so small wouldn’t be so noticeable.

WTF Amazon?!

I’m going to start this with the caveat that math and I are not the best of friends. That said, even my puny abilities to work the kinks out of math problems find this beyond screwy.

While I can say the last ad did a lot for me in some intangible ways, I didn’t make a profit off it. The purpose of attempting this finer tuned version was to try and bring back some of those intangible results with the hopes of trying to balance out the profit end of the last ad. When you are talking about the low margin you get with each book sale, you have very little wiggle room when it comes to number of clicks and cost per click before you are dropping quickly into the red for the cost of the ad overall.

Last month’s test ad generated, on average across the span of the ad, an ad associated sale for about every 5.3 clicks. This did fluctuate over time, but I still had what seemed to be regular sales. You can’t see the metrics for how many of those clicks convert to KU reads, but I also had some very regular page reads throughout the entire add. For the purposes of this comparison, I’m not even going to go into the cost of those clicks, because it is that turn over ratio that is blowing my mind at the moment.

My current ad? I’ve now had 27 clicks register so far and I haven’t gotten a single sale. I’ve also only had a single, partial KU read. That’s it. I honestly haven’t a frickin’ clue what is going on, but something definitely isn’t right. It makes it all the more odd in that my click through rate is about the same for both ads.

Anyone that is familiar with statistics can look at the numbers and probably tell you way more than my brief assumptions here, but this isn’t giving me warm feelings towards spending my precious advertising dollars with Amazon. I’ve yet to see how the math works between the two different ads and why I would be seeing such drastic differences when the set up is essentially the same. The only difference is that I focused on the single genre I was getting results in and I am not allowing up bidding, every single other aspect is the same.

I get that there are millions of tiny factors that can play into these statistics, but I cannot manage to twist them enough in my head to make my current numbers make sense. I’m really kind of ticked off and extremely frustrated at the moment.

It also has me really wondering if there is a saturation point that books reach when it comes to sales and readers. Obviously there are only so many readers on the planet, so that seems logical. Are these numbers telling me that I’ve reached my saturation point? If that is the case, then why am I still even getting clicks? That part doesn’t seem to make sense, either. The whole thing is just making my brain hurt.

For all my posts about my ads so far:

Amazon Ad: Round 2
Amazon Book Ad Progress
Indie Author: Thoughts on Kindle Unlimited

Book Review: Another Dead Intern – Joel Spriggs

Author: Joel Spriggs
Book Name: Another Dead Intern
Release Date: October 15, 2019
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Fantasy/Urban/Suspense
Overall SPA: 3 Stars
3 Stars

 

 

Blurb: When Morgan Burns applied for an internship with Hemlock Connal P.I, he thought he’d signed up for coffee runs and printing jobs, not preternatural investigation.

As he starts his new job, Morgan learns about the unseen and blended landscape of magic. Soon he finds himself meeting grungy pixies, mixing with fairy royals, and the annoyingly bad musical talents of a half demon. Morgan has to also face the fact that Hemlock’s last three interns met painful ends.

Morgan must quickly adapt to his broadening world to keep the two things he needs most: a paycheck and his life. Hemlock has to keep her wits about her and watch that she doesn’t end up with yet another dead intern.

When a friend comes to her about random Bostonians start losing their memories, Hemlock tries to find a paying customer. The only one willing to entertain her unnatural explanations is the head of the Irish mob, Bobbi Cotter. Cotter wants to find out why one of her top hitmen has lost his memory, and why one of his planned executions was just carried out by a fifteen year old cheerleader.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 3/5 Stars
Peeve Factor: 2.5/5 Stars
World Building: 3/5 Stars

Personal Opinion: 3/5 Stars

The foundation and plot of this story are both really good. I would have given this a higher rating, but it is a little rough around the edges and I kept running into issues that pulled me out of the story.

One of the bigger ones I was never able to quite pinpoint and say “this is an editing issue” or “this is a stylistic thing” because I just could not tell for sure. There are a lot of places where the phrasing of a sentence felt off. Either a word was missing, an additional word that didn’t feel like it belonged was included, or the word choice was off a bit (I saw all three at different points, multiple times throughout the book). Whether this is a stylistic thing or just something that got overlooked during editing, it kept forcing me to stop and reread sections which broke up the flow of the story.

I’ve never been a huge fan of character perspectives that flip at random without distinct cues letting the reader know there is a change. This is very much a personal preference, but it added to the difficulty I had staying in the flow of the story. The characters all felt as though they had similar personalities and voices with very little to distinguish one from another. When you have that perspective swap mixed in, even more effort needs to be made to stay immersed in the story.

Another issue that isn’t a huge deal to the overall story, but is a huge peeve of mine was the swapping of character names. I only noticed this in one small section, but I again was forced to stop and reread, even go back and refresh my memory on the stated names to make sure I wasn’t confused.

The world, while interesting at first glance, lacked a certain distinction. I was never certain how the world worked exactly, especially with regards to how common the knowledge and acceptance of magic and magical beings were to the non-magical sections of society. There were some conflicting scenes on this, so I was never sure if everyone knew or if the magical side was supposed to be hidden. The presentation of the fae breaks from most traditional presentations I’ve seen, though still a little on the vague side in detail. This could be a very good thing or not depending on the type of reader.

The ending was a little abrupt and it felt like some of the side/supporting pieces to the story didn’t get completely fleshed out or resolved. I prefer to have more of those types of things cleanly tied up.

Overall, this fell onto the okay side of good for me.

*I received a copy of this book from the author. Opinions stated are honest and my own.

 

 

Book Review: Crossing the Line – Joy Slaughter

Author: Joy Slaughter
Book Name: Crossing the Line
Release Date: November 4, 2019
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/Women’s Fiction
Overall SPA: 3.5 Stars
3.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Sergeant Nathan Thompson lost his leg in Afghanistan. Megan hides a secret. When they are assigned as a paramedic team, tensions flare—Nathan thinks Megan is a condescending know it all, and Megan resents a partner who might not be able to offer 100%. As they respond to calls their mutual respect grows. Then Nathan notices bruises on Megan’s arms, and her excuses don’t add up. The next life Nathan must save may be that of his own partner—if only she’ll let him

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 3.5/5 Stars
Believability: 3.5/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 4/5 Stars

I really enjoyed all the various medical scenarios in this one. They were a nice balance of being technical without going over my head or falling into instruction manual zone with too much explanation.

There is a romantic thread through this that runs along side Megan’s personal struggles. Those two threads combined have about the same amount of page space as the medical threads, making the focus of this story lean a little heavier on the medical side.

While I really enjoyed Nathan’s character, I felt like Megan’s personality was just a little fuzzy around the edges, making it hard to pin her down as a character. It wasn’t major, but enough to make me think certain situations or responses didn’t quite fit well or make sense for her.

For readers that need the heads up, there are some big trigger issues in this book. Subjects like domestic abuse, emotional abuse, rape, cheating, and suicide get page time and a couple of scenes may be disturbing.

This falls into the romance genre, but is very light on the steam for those that prefer that side of romance.

*I received a copy of this book from the author. Opinions stated are honest and my own.

 

Book Review: The Other Daughter – Shalini Boland

Author: Shalini Boland
Book Name: The Other Daughter
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Overall SPA: 3 Stars
3 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Nine years ago her daughter was taken. And now she’s back.

Two-and-a-half-year-old Holly is playing happily in a pink plastic playhouse, while her mother Rachel sips coffee and chats with a friend nearby. It should be an ordinary day for all of them. But, in the blink of an eye, it turns into every family’s worst nightmare.

Holly is taken by a stranger and never found.

Nine years later, Rachel is living a quiet life in Dorset. She’s tried to keep things together since the traumatic day when she lost her eldest daughter. She has a new family, a loving partner and her secrets are locked away in her painful past.

Until one afternoon when Rachel meets a new school parent Kate and her teenage daughter Bella. Rachel’s world is instantly turned upside down – she’s seen Bella before. She’d recognise that face anywhere – it’s her missing child.

And she will stop at nothing to get her back…

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 3/5 Stars
Believability: 3/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 3/5 Stars

Even with my category breakdowns, I’m having a hard time rating this. Please note that the little bit I mention may be considered a mild spoiler, though I’m trying to be as vague as possible.

I struggled through the bulk of this book with the main character’s actions and choices in the circumstances as they were presented. So much of it just never rang true or as believable or realistic to me. If I had to rate this as it stood before the plot wraps up at the end of the book, this would have been incredibly low because of those issues.

The ending turned it all around. Things finally begin to work as you get to understand why those were issues, but I didn’t get genuinely invested until that point. It was difficult to keep wanting to read that far without just giving up on the story as being on the ridiculous side. I could almost give category ratings to the beginning of the book and the end of the book because of how I felt about the different parts.

I am glad I stuck with it because, in the end the story was interesting. It was frustrating to get there, but it was good.

*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. Opinions stated are honest and my own.

 

 

On My TBR – November 2019 Edition

I didn’t get to all my books on my list last month. I made the mistake of loading up too much on the really heavy reads and needed more of a break in between. I read more than what was on the list, though I didn’t review them all. That was part of the break I needed. I’m trying to leave a bit more padding for that this month.


NetGalley ARCs:
The Other Daughter
The Other Daughter

The Other Daughter
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: November 5
(Currently Reading)

 

 


Library:
Lost You
Lost You

Lost You
Genre: Mystery/Psychological Thriller

 

 

 

The Shape of Night
The Shape of Night

The Shape of Night
Genre: Mystery/Suspense

 

 

 

Don't You Forget About Me
Don’t You Forget About Me

Don’t You Forget About Me
Genre: Contemporary/Romance

 

 

 

 


Indie Book Reviews:
Another Dead Intern
Another Dead Intern

Another Dead Intern
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy

 

 

 

Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line

Crossing the Line
Genre: Romance
Release Date: November 4th

 

 

 

 


KU/Open Reads (No Due Date)
Blood Echo
Blood Echo

Blood Echo (Burning Girl Book #2)
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/SciFi

 

 

Crab Dip & Filling

This is probably one of my family’s favorite recipes. When I make it, it never lasts long and I can never seem to make enough to satisfy everyone.

It is also a recipe that is kind of all me. It is extremely versatile and can be modified for all kinds of other things and came into being in part because of how crazy picky I am when it comes to food. I have used a version of this that added some bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in my stuffed mushrooms. I’ve used a similar version in a stuffed chicken breast. One version used just the addition of Parmesan as a filling for omelets. The base of this is also the base for my tuna salad (replacing the crab with tuna and adding a couple of other things).

Crab Dip: Ingredients
Crab Dip: Ingredients

Up until today, I didn’t actually have a recipe for this. I’ve always just done what I often do and thrown it together based on how it looked and tasted. For the most part, this is really hard to mess up, unless you add too much of the garlic or the lemon juice. Even then, if you have more cream cheese, you can just add more of that and it fixes things.

Crab Dip

8 oz.  Cream Cheese – Softened
1 T  Lemon Juice
2 T  Water
1/4 tsp. plus 1/8 tsp.  Garlic Salt
6 to 8 oz.  Crab Meat (imitation is perfectly fine)
*Green Onion – Optional (I do not use)

Mix together cream cheese, lemon juice, water and garlic salt until well combined (I use a fork, but be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl to fully incorporate all the cream cheese). Cut crab into smaller pieces and then blend together with fork. If mix is still too thick for your preferences, add a little more water. Flavors get stronger as they set and is better after sitting in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

I have always made this based on taste as I go. The numbers above are pretty spot on, but feel free to adjust to your preference. If you don’t want the added salt, use a granulated garlic instead. The recipe I modified to get this calls for green onions as well, but picky me can’t stand them and never use them. This is a pretty thick dip, but you can make this thinner if you prefer. Just add a little more water or even milk until you get the consistency you want.

Crab Dip: Mixing
Crab Dip: Mixing

I have tried a couple of different types of crab and prefer either real crab or the flake style imitation crab. Most other types tend to do something weird to the texture of this and it just isn’t as good. Using a fork to mix it in to the cream cheese also helps to break the crab down into smaller pieces yet keeps them big enough that you know you are getting crab when you get a bite.

When making just the dip, I almost always serve and eat it with Wheat Thins. I’ve tried several other kinds of crackers and they work, but again, they just aren’t the same. The Wheat Thins seem to be a perfect pair to this.

Anymore when making this, I’ll make sort of a modified triple batch using 3 blocks of cream cheese and two 8 ounce packages of the crab. It makes the ratio a little less crab to the cream cheese, but it also goes farther. I do it this way to ensure I get at least enough to have some left over because the kids go nuts over this and snack on it for a couple of days. I also really LOVE getting to have an omelet with some of what they leave me.

I have done so many things with this recipe and it always goes over exceptionally well.

Crab Dip
Crab Dip

*This was so fun to type up. I can’t tell you how many times I had to go back and fix the word “crab”. I don’t think anyone wants crap dip.

Happy Halloween

For the first time since my kids were tiny, Halloween feels so different and I just don’t have the motivation to do everything I have for years. I’m not doing the garage this year. I’m not dressing up this year. I barely got up the energy to do a pumpkin (mine’s on the left), though it was only BG and I carving this year. The weather is so NOT helping. Upper 20s and snow do not put me in the mind of Halloween.

Snow on Maple Leaves
Snow on Maple Leaves

I’m still doing my best to make it fun for my kids, but they are teenagers so it just isn’t the same. Their idea of fun is for me to make a bunch of awesome finger foods and spend the night grazing, so that’s what I’m going to do. I think BG is going to dress up and answer the door. She was a little disappointed we weren’t doing the garage, but she understands. It is a lot of work to put in when kids aren’t going to show up. The new construction has changed how kids go through the neighborhood and we got skipped last year even though kids know we put on a great show. She did say last night that it was probably a good idea we didn’t do it when she saw that we were going to be lucky to hit 30 today.

Like so many things, our Halloween tradition is changing to fit how we are changing. I hate it from the standpoint that I have always adored Halloween and have always gone all out. I’m also really kind of glad to not have a crap ton of stuff to do. I can just sit back and relax for once.

Book Review: Shattered Bonds, Jane Yellowrock- Book #13

Author: Faith Hunter
Book Name: Shattered Bonds
Release Date: October 29, 2019
Series: Jane Yellowrock
Order: #13
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal/Urban
Overall SPA: 4.5 Stars
4.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Jane Yellowrock is a shapeshifting skinwalker, and vampire killer-for-hire, but her last battle with an ancient arcane enemy has brought her low. She seeks retreat in the Appalachian Mountains to grieve the loss of her friends, and to heal–or to die–from the disease brought on by her magic.

But malevolent elements in the paranormal community still seek to destroy Jane, and the younger Son of Darkness stalks her, even into the safety of the hills. With nowhere to run and her body failing, the rogue-vampire hunter and her inner Beast must discover a way to defeat this new threat, and find a form that gives her a chance to fight another day.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 5/5 Stars
Series Continuity/Expectations: 4/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 5/5 Stars

So much happened and changed by the end of Dark Queen, I really wasn’t certain what to expect with this book, especially with the not quite a cliffhanger you got at the end of that one. I did expect that issue to be addressed or at least mentioned pretty quickly in this one, but it takes a bit for it to come up, which left me wondering if that event was somehow getting changed.

This felt different than most any of the other JY books. You still get some great shift scenes. You get a good amount of Beast time. You still get a few battle scenes. You still get a few scenes of Jane connecting with her people. But… those all seem to have the edges dulled a bit because, to a large extent, she has to take more of a backseat in this one. She doesn’t get to be the full on badass all the time which shifts the overall tone and feel of this book.

This does tie off a couple of the loose threads introduced in the last book, but you are again left wondering where the series is going to go next. One big thread is glanced across and cannot possibly be all we see for the end of that thread. A whole lot happens along the side of what happens in this book. Things that are introduced through brief conversations, but are left wide open by the last page. You are definitely left with the feeling that there is a lot more yet to come.

As always, the biggest downside is that there is a last page and too big of a time gap in which I have to wait for the next book.