Book Reviews

Book reviews are essential for both readers and authors alike. 

For the reader, book reviews save time, energy, and reduce risks. Book reviews give potential readers the chance to become familiar with what a book is about before investing their time and money into getting a copy for themselves. Through book reviews, readers also have the opportunity to become a part of the author's world by providing their intake and input on their favorite works of literature. 

For authors, book reviews increase awareness, sales, and visibility. Often, books with greater reviews have a higher chance of being read. Through book reviews, an author's work is also shared with a wider audience, giving the author an opportunity to influence a whole new group of people.

My Book Rating System

 

5 Stars – Absolutely flawless and intriguing. I don’t understand why this isn’t on every bookshelf everywhere.

4 Stars – The book has either mass appeal or cult appeal. Very few flaws and the premise of the story, characters and plot are extremely good. I’d recommend you to my family and friends.

3 Stars – Very much worth the read. I found the story intriguing and entertaining, but I also saw issues with structure and flow. I’d still recommend you to my friends and family.

2 Stars – You have a promising story, but it’s also filled with plot holes, dropped plots, cliches and reads like a second draft.

1 Star – Shows promise, needs a developmental editor. Wasn’t ready for publication.

No Mention of Stars – I couldn’t decide where the book belonged on the rating system, but I thought it was still good enough to receive a review. You have an audience somewhere, but it probably wasn’t me, and any star rating I would have given it would not precisely fit it.  My estimated rating may have also been vastly lower than what you've already recieved, and I was unwilling to put a rating in that would ding you.

Where You can Expect Your Book Review

You can expect your book review to be posted in the book reviews on this website.  The benefit to having your book posted on this website is that it will also feed into my Twitter feed with an image of your book cover until I read and review the next book, which could be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Reviews may also be posted to Goodreads, depending on the rating I gave it.  Amazon reviews are a whole different beast.  In order to post an Amazon review, I'd need a copy of the ebook from Amazon.  This is because Amazon is extremely strict about their reviews.  The best way to get an Amazon review is via one of your organic readers, not necesarily a book reviewer. And trust me, I understand the importance of Amazon book reviews.  I wish I had more of them.  With that being said, I encourage you to send me an epub or a .mobi version of your book to review, not a prepaid Amazon ebook link.  All book review requests can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by contacting me on Twitter.

Dream of a Lifetime is a Good Solid 3 Star Book. It is a memoir of a gentleman who spent 10 years living in the Amazon with only sporadic trips back to the US. For that alone and reading about his personal experiences and the hazards of his journey, it is worth the read. It’s definitely a real account of a very interesting journey and time in this author’s life. I understand exactly why he wrote it and why it needed to be written. After all, who gets to have this experience. It really is the adventure of a lifetime, and perfect for those who want to read about the beginnings of the Yacumamma Lodge.

Dream of a Lifetime: Ten Years in the Upper Amazon by Norman Walters is a tale of adventure and refinding yourself and your sense of adventure after trying to fit in with the “norm”.  The bulk of the memoir takes place between 1992 and 2002, and when the author left the states, he was 44. Norman Walters grew up in the 1960s and 70s, graduating high school in 1967 in Indiana with his best friend graduating in 1969, which is where this memoir more or less starts.  There is some back and forth flip-flop between now and then in the first few chapters.  The author has an extremely unique voice that exemplifies the era in which he grew up.  You'll notice a lot of 1960s and 70s lingo and slang. There is an overabundance of parenthesis in this memoir that can be somewhat redundant and rambly.  However, given the era of the author, this may simply be his voice and a true way to represent the way he speaks and tells stories.  

In the front of this book, we learn the author is escaping an undesirable (10-year?) marriage when his best friend calls him after three years and asks if he wants to help him start a retreat in the Amazon jungle, specifically the Yacumamma Lodge, which still exists today

Obviously, Norman says yes and proceeds to prepare for the trip, which doesn't go smoothly, but they make it down to their desired location.  Along the way, they are almost robbed and forced to give bribes to police, but they get to see a plethora of naked and semi-naked women and drink and generally have a good time until they nearly down in the Amazon river during a torrential downpour. Obviously, they survive, or we wouldn’t have this book.

What follows is a very detailed account of the successes and near catastrophic failures of building the Yacumamma Lodge and turning it into a successful eco-tourist attraction.  Readers get to relive the experiences of Norman Walters from wondering how everyone already knew what he wanted to purchase to his many trips to Ari's (A diner-type establishment) and up and down the Amazon river as well an an accurate account of all the people he met and the good, life-long friends he made.

To sum it up, this book is extremely entertaining and worth the read to spite the time-sequence flip-flopping and periodic sections of over-description.  It’s also something to read if you want to know the beginnings of the Yacumamma Lodge by someone who helped develop and build it from the ground up.

I do want to say that it's simply amazing the amount of detail the author remembers from his time living in the Amazon and starting an eco-retreat.  I certainly do not remember my 1992 through 2002 in nearly as much detail, and I'm pretty sure I took less pills and hallucinogens and didn't imbibe nearly as much as the author.

 

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If you love pictures of interesting places and architectural details and fiction written in first person, you'll love B.F. Spath's new metaphysical and visionary fiction novel, The Sun Temple.  Set in New York City, the main character finds himself miserable, paranoid, alone and poor with little hope of escape.

 

 

The Sun Temple is best described in B.F Spath's own words:

A man is trapped in a dark and miserable NYC tenement, crippled by fears, isolation, and poverty. He has one thing going for him: he is a visionary! He escapes daily to Battery Park and the euphoria of life under the sun.By night he explores vast and opulent cities that extend as far as his imagination will take them. But when his energies wane, the great cities crumble and evaporate as he sinks back into squalor, despair, and darkness. 

The first person perspective of this work gives it a very interpersonal feel as if you were reading the thoughts and feelings of one of your closest friends after you stole their personal diary out of the back of their underwear drawer and stealthily took it home to read by flashlight in your darkened room.

One of The Sun temple’s strongest abilities is that it embodies the private hopelessness that we all feel in the deepest recesses of our beings, and you get to see this character deal with this is a very personal way. Not only do you get to read it, you can almost feel it in your own soul as you connect with the words, thoughts, feelings and actions of the main character.

It wraps up with only the vaguest sensation of hope. The main character isn’t completely whipped, but you can tell that he isn’t entirely free either.

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Under the Dome

 

I’m going to start off by saying every writer should read this book. It’s told from a mostly omnipresent point of view, which is great when you have multiple characters that you want the audience to see in detail. I’m very good at this, but most writers aren’t. My skill came from years and years of on-line role-playing where I had to switch characters and points of view within a matter of minutes. 

It’s also good because this looks to be a primary example of a book that was planned beforehand. I would almost bet money that he wrote the Synopsis, outline and character lists beforehand. Stephen King even says this in his author notes at the end of the book. He’s had the idea since 1976 (I was -1 in 1976). He was waiting for technology to catch up to him.

This is an Author Driven book. It is not a character driven book. Keep that in mind when you’re reading it. There’s a lot of summary, flashbacks, briefings, and Author “push”…

It is fantastic for what it is. Very few Authors can pull this off with any kind of success. With that being said, read it as something to learn from and remember all those writing books you’ve read. All the suggestions and examples and thoughts in those writing books is going to solidify and clarify in your mind after you finish reading this.

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BrandShamansLife Successfully/Brand Shamans provides book reviews for most genres.  They also have book review packages starting at $200 for blog reviews and Goodreads Reviews. (Their $200 package is for finding book reviewers for your book.  They do not pay reviewers or accept money for the actual book reviews)

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