‘An English Teacher in Mexico: Memories of a Midlife Career Change’ by Irene Pylypec – Review

A fun and insightful well-written account of adventure and culture…

After turning 50, Irene Pylypec decides to embark on a adventure to Mexico from Canada. The writing style is immediately inviting and delivers a fantastic insight into what its like to take the plunge into the unknown of travelling to a far away place to pursue the ambition of teaching English.

Having read Pylypec’s previous memoir about her travels to London this account carries a different flavour that really homes in on the experience side of what its like to be in Mexico from the living arrangements to the food, places, people, traditions and even the pace that is so different. I particularly enjoyed learning about the different holidays and family orientated culture that Irene found herself apart of in what sounds like a wonderful place to visit with some great hosts.

For anyone looking to enjoy a memoir that serves as fun escapism whilst learning about Mexican culture, this book is certainly the one for you!

5 Stars – Reviews left via Amazon and Goodreads

Every Book I have read in 2021 Pt2

And we’re back for the second part of every book I have read in 2021 and this time I have 22 books to share and recommend! What a ride this year has been and made all the better for the wonderful reads you shall find below…

‘Spook City, U.S.A.: A Shadybrook Community Patrol Novella’ by Drew Purcell

Fun, unconventional easy-to-read comedy that never takes itself too seriously while delivering a good story with plenty of laughs…

4 Stars Full Review

‘Wonder Rush’ by Dan McKeon

An immersive and suspenseful teen spy thriller with some darker edges, a positive message, originality and depth…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Fear Farm No Trespassers’ by S.J. Krandall

‘Immersive page-turning horror stories full of thrills and chills…’

5 Stars Full Review

‘Nevada Noir : A Trilogy of Short Stories’ by David Arrowsmith

A brief but deeply descriptive brush with the dark…

4 Stars Full Review

‘A Few of My Favourite Things’ by A.J. Ross-Etheridge

Fun, honest, thought-provoking poetry guaranteed to put a smile on your face…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Sleeping Beauty and The Cursed Code’ by Emma Jean

Fairy tale and STEM combine for a fun story with an important message…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Evil Eye: A Slasher Story’ by April A. Taylor

An unpredictable fast-paced slasher with plenty of twists and tension as the storm unfolds…

4 Stars Full Review

‘Home’ by Thomas Overlook 

Unique and intriguing. A page-turning tale that’ll take readers down the rabbit hole of what’s there and what isn’t…

4 Stars Full Review

‘The Genius’ Guide to Bad Writing’ by R.T. Slaywood and R.C. Martinez

A refreshing outlook on writing and publishing that’ll make you smile…

5,000 Stars Full Review

‘Everything, Except You’ by Emma Jordan

A feel-good cosy romance story about two passionate souls

5 Stars Full Review

‘We Watch You’ By N.S. Ford 

Cleverly plotted British mystery thriller with darker psychological tones and twists…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Deceit of the Earth – Heavy Metal’ by Henry Cox

A thrilling jet-setting tale of deception stretching further than anyone can imagine…

5 Stars Full Review

‘The Right Thing’ by Kelsey Kupitz

‘An easy-to-read mystery full of intrigue, atmosphere and chills…’

5 Stars Full Review

‘Stars Never Die: A Movie To Die For’ by Walrus

‘Quick, fun and easy to read race against time story with murder mystery vibes…’

3 Stars Full Review

‘How to Market a Book: Overperform in a Crowded Market’ by Ricardo Faye

A comprehensive and valuable guide for any author looking to make a career out of their writing…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Beginner’s Luck’ by M.J. Furtek

‘A breezy action-packed and unpredictable page-turning spy thriller that could go anywhere next…

4 Stars Full Review

‘Fear and Fury’ by Jamie Jackson 

An unconventional and enjoyable superhero tale told with buckets of unique personality…

4 Stars Full Review

‘Dust & Lightning’ by Rebecca Crunden

Page-turning sci-fi action with a revolutionary theme…

5 Stars Full Review

‘The Bad Part of Time’ By Joshua Ingle

A thought provoking time travel caper exploring the themes of life, age and politics…

5 Stars Full Review

Star Child by D.K. Johnson – Review

The truth is out there among the stars and so is the journey to thought-provoking enlightenment

4 Stars Full Review

‘Body In The Waves’ by Kristina Gallo

Heavy themes and issues make for a dark but thrilling tale…

4 Stars Full Review

‘No Rest For The Wicked : Detective Stories’ by Megan Hinde

A collection of intriguing short noir crime stories

4 Stars Full Review

And so that wraps up an incredible year of indie and self published books. Thanks for reading and thank you to these awesome authors for their wonderful words! You can expect another post very soon highlighting my favorite books of 2021. Stay tuned!

Dealing With Bad Reviews

Let’s face it, eventually every author is going to have to swallow the medicine that is a bad review. Whether it be a low rating without an explanation to a full on dismantling of a book someone probably should have just put down. Over many years I’ve experienced every kind of review, from the ‘abandoned’ to the snarky ‘let’s try and be funnier than the book’ to even scathing borderline abuse. I have even received constructive criticism that I’ve then used to correct a typo or potential error so its not all bad and ‘bad’ may just be a stance.

Disclaimer: I will say now first and foremost that any reviewer no matter their opinion, as long as it is not abusive, is entitled to say what they feel about a book freely. This post is not an attempt to bash anyone that has left a less than favourable review for my work or anyone else’s. This post is designed to help fellow authors cope with bad reviews. I have to include this disclaimer because this subject might be perceived as ‘spicy’ and if I don’t, my Goodreads ratings will go even lower…

Its not a nice feeling when someone leaves a bad review for our work. It can straight up hurt and that’s more than okay because our books are a labour of love, time and effort. For someone to say negative things about it can feel like a personal attack and leave an author spinning for days while also questioning themselves. Feeling bad and every other emotion that comes with a bad review is totally normal. Remember that.

Ahead are hopefully some pointers and a few truths that will help any wordsmith deal with the inevitable because for every author receiving a glowing review, there will be another receiving the opposite.

1. Be Aware…

This is aimed for newer authors and has a bunch of inputs, but after publishing that book, your writing is no longer just a hobby and your presence on social media is now one of a public figure. Whether you like that or not is kind of irrelevant because being published puts you in the public domain. This means that as an author you now stand in the spotlight inside a glass house. Anyone can throw stones at you, and if you give them a reason to, they will, trust me. You see that disclaimer up there, yeah I put that in to cover my ass in case someone gets precious and decides to defend anyone who has ever left a bad review – your actions online can draw unwanted negativity sometimes, even if your intentions were good.

What do I mean by this? Social media and the internet can be a volatile place and now you have a book out there, it is vulnerable also. Because of that, its time to consider your conduct online. Me; I have a pretty comfortable seat on the fence in most of my social media endeavours and I make every effort to be inclusive, decent and supportive. This will go a long way to preventing certain stones being thrown and I would even go as far as saying some negative reviews are simply a reaction to something you may have said online. That’s why I have that comfortable seat and I tend not to react to any major news subjects or any polarising political situations – these things will always be happening and providing an escape from them works for me.

Of course there are many great causes out there that authors have every right to stand for but remember social media can be a volatile place where someone might not agree with you all the time so be mindful and be aware.

2. They are Inevitable…

While being aware and conducting yourself in a certain way are great preventative measures, bad reviews unfortunately are inevitable. If your work sells enough it will be discovered by someone who doesn’t like it. Any author who has been around a while and sold a bunch of books will tell you this. So think of it as a baptism. Your writing has done enough to at least stir a reaction, even if it is not so great and you are now part of the club!

3. Is it Worth the Time?

Time for me is valuable. I can get a lot done with my time, from social media posts, blog posts, editing to even exercise so ask yourself if the review is worth your time? Those star ratings without an explanation – there isn’t really much to digest there so why spend time thinking about it?

I’m quite selective when it comes to where I read the reviews I receive. Goodreads is a place where I only focus on the statistics and not really the content of the reviews. Amazon is way more important to me so I tend to read the reviews I get on there. Even then if the review is negative with zero constructive feedback I’ll tend to just move on.

4. Is it Constructive?

Speaking of feedback, does the review help you in any way? Anyone can claim to be an editor if they spot a simple typo or even a spelling error. Even pro published books have those. US and UK spelling does differ sometimes and some reviewers won’t be aware of that. If there is something constructive you can get from the review then to me its really a positive one in disguise – remember sometimes the truth can hurt and we are all human so mistakes happen.

5. What’s the Value?

I’m going to confide in you here while also stating that I appreciate everyone who has made the effort to review my work but I can count on just one hand the amount of reviews that shaped my future works or had any real constructive feedback and for this I consider myself lucky. This is the case with positive reviews also and while we all love a compliment, what does that actually provide us with? Speaking truthfully, there is normally zero personal value in a review – good or bad they help sell future books and sometimes they need to be looked at just that way because…

6. A Rating is a Rating…

Above all, even if the review is down right insulting, a rating is a rating and proof of readership. Someone out there in that vast busy world of constant content found your book. Good or bad if they were thoughtful enough to rate it, then somewhere deep down there was something in that book which meant something to them.

Side note: If the review is abusive or even a personal attack, you might have grounds to report it and get it taken down. I’ve done this before.

If you were to purchase my self help guide book for indie authors and bloggers you’ll find there is a whole section dedicated to reviews and dealing with them.

7. Can You Spin it?

Some years ago, one of my newly released books received a low rating that kind of came out of nowhere. I forget the name of the book blogger but I confided in my social media following and managed to spin that review into a bunch of sales and positive reviews from some friends in the writing community. As long as you are decent, it’s okay to confide in your following, they might swing in to help you.

Final Thought

It will feel better tomorrow and much like that struggle for reviews you feel sometimes, the best thing to do in order to cope is to focus your energy elsewhere. Of course its okay to vent but do it with tact and confide in others because you’ll be surprised by how many bad review stories authors have. Use this post as a reference to when the inevitable happens and of course vent below if you wish because this will always be a safe space for creatives. How do you deal with bad reviews?

Thanks for reading. This post originally premiered on Patreon where all of my guides are available to Patrons first before they make their way onto here. For information on my Patreon which aims to guide and help fellow creatives click here.

Sharing Recent Reviews: September 2021

September 2021 is turning out to be one of the most successful months ever for book reviews and to celebrate I’m sharing the best ones. Reviews are a hard thing to get and so this post is dedicated to the awesome folks who left them for my works recently.

Thank you to Megan for this wonderful review of Open Evening which has just celebrated 5 years of being published.

This is the latest of at least 140 new reviews The Teleporter has received this year. Thank you Mr Morton.

My short but powerful ghost story is starting to become an authors favourite in recent times. Thank you Dan!

In fact ‘Ghost’ has done exceptionally well this month to capture two reviews. Spooky season is coming and this book is prefect for it. Thank you for the kind words Vicky!

Seeing as it has only been a matter of months since ‘CCC’ dropped it’s nearly up to 20 ratings – that’s personal best stuff right there – thank you kind kindle customer!

Thank you to Eve for one of the most wonderful reviews I have ever received. To recieve feedback like this is stuff of dreams and let me extend that thank you to anyone else who has rated my work in recent times. Book reviews/ratings are so difficult to get, so after your next read, remember to leave one!

Camera Equipment, Software, and Other Essential Tools to Launch Your Own Book Review Channel

Every so often a new wave of content creators emerges to satisfy a specific demographic. One of the most recent examples is the “BookTube” community. After all, the value of honest book reviews remains high in an age where it can be difficult to find valuable and trustworthy opinions amid paid ads. In fact, such is the demand for reviews that the aforementioned BookTube scene has amassed a large subset of creators and viewers, which according to Google, even increased by 40% over a single year.

Examples of YouTuber book lovers who have gained a lot of popularity, are Christine Riccio, Ariel Bisset, and Cindy Pham who’ve gained millions of views across their videos. With the growing success of these creators, more people are starting to join this community daily. If you’re one of those thinking of becoming a BookTuber yourself, here are the essential tools you’ll need.

Microphone

A good recording microphone will be important since your content relies on a “chat” format. You want your viewers to hear crisp audio with appropriate volume. Having a good mic can also block out any background noise (like passing cars or pets) and lessen any echoes.

There are various kinds of microphones available, and understanding the science behind them can help you pick which type best suits you. Dynamic mics like the Shure SM7B are popular because they use electromagnet effects that make them great for vocal pick-up. That said, a lot of podcasters also like using condenser mics like the Blue Yeti because they respond to higher frequencies better. This means they’re more sensitive and pick up more nuances. If you’ve never used a mic before, it may also help to use pop filters to help “clean” the audio.

Filming gear

When deciding on a camera to buy, remember not to just opt for the priciest model. Instead, choose a model that has features and settings pre-installed to lessen the guesswork on your end. Thankfully, there is a vast selection of cameras out there with these built-in features, like 5-axis image stabilization. This will reduce any shakiness or unfocused blurs that can affect the watchability of your videos.



If you’re the type that simply wants a clear picture, decent battery life, and a model that you can shoot both stills and video with little need for manual adjustments, consider mirrorless digital cameras like the Sony Alpha a7R. It’s compact, can hit 4K, and already previews exposure and contrast before you shoot. So, you can be sure your recording will look good.

Lighting equipment

Effective lighting ensures that your audience sees you clearly, and that helps them feel more engaged. That said, you may want to eventually put in the coin for umbrella and softbox lights, but you could easily start with a good pair of ring lights. These can provide light for you and any item that you want to pull focus on in your videos, especially if you’re not filming dynamically and are just in one spot. Many ring lights also have brightness settings, which you’ll want to play with to find the intensity you prefer. Because as much as viewers don’t like too many shadows, they don’t want to watch anything too blown out, either.

Video editing software

Finally, you’ll want easy-to-use and efficient software to edit your videos before you post them. There are a ton of options out there, so you’ll want to consider your budget and how intensive you need the features to be. Both Windows and Apple already have free video editing programs (Video Editor and iMovie, respectively) in their OS if you just need basic cuts and transitions.

If you require more post-edit capabilities without eating up your PC’s resources, some of the most popular software suites include Adobe Premiere Elements, Autodesk, and AVS Video Editor. These require a little more familiarity with editing software. However, they can result in more dynamic and exact end results. Alternatively, you can go for free video editing options, such as OpenShot, VideoPad, and VSDC. Like the paid programs, these also offer a wide range of features and are available for most OS variants.

After all is said and done, don’t forget that aside from these tools, what can set your content apart is your passion and sincerity. By combining this practical equipment with a voracious appetite for reading and community, you should be all set to go forth on your hero’s journey to BookTube.

A Year of Reedsy Discovery Reads

Time flies when you’re reading books and I’ve been reading a lot of them in recent times. Last year Reedsy Discovery; a platform for reviewing indie books approached me to be a reviewer. Of course I jumped at the opportunity and it that time I have discovered some gems, and so here they are…

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is reedsy.png

‘American Blasphemer’ by By John Gillen

4 Stars

A masterful labour of modern honesty, told through the lens of a lonesome soul trying to figure out this world and life…’ 

Full Review

‘The Sawyer Shepherd Chronicles: Rites of Passage’ by Chad Lehrmann

3 Stars

A twisting unpredictable creature feature set in a small town with a big secret…

Full Review

‘The Dreamophile’s Diary’ by Shazrina

4 Stars

A descriptive collection of tales that capture the very essence of dreams from surrealism to their deeper metaphoric meaning…

Full Review

‘Senescence’ by Denver Scott

5 Stars

One giant leap into the future of humankind via the cosmos through the vessel of science that makes for a fascinating read!

Full Review

‘Noxious’ by Bruce Knapp

4 Stars

An enjoyable yet sinister tale of the macabre that’ll keep you turning pages…

Full Review

‘Fly Fearless & Fear Less: Eliminate your Fear of Flying with Knowledge!’ By Peter Brandt

4 Stars

A concise, insightful and reassuring read that’ll help you cope with the irrational fear of flying…

Full Review

‘Big Noise’ by J.P. Biddlecome

3 Stars

A tale that walks the fine line between survival and madness through solitude

Full Review

‘A Diary in the Age of Water’ by Nina Munteanu

5 Stars

A truly important once in a generation read that flows like a wild river right through your imagination and heart...’

Full Review

‘Awake’ by Andrew Palmer

4 Stars

An original techno-psychological thriller that captures the essence and surrealism of dreams with a sinister edge…

Full Review

‘Amazon Keywords for Books: How to Use Keywords for Better Discovery on Amazon’ by Dale L. Roberts

5 Stars

Essential reading for marketing books effectively while gaining a better understanding of Amazon key words and beyond..

Full Review

‘Deadly Odds’ by Allen Wyler

4 Stars

He’s in deep with the big fishes and the odds are hardly in his favour…

Full Review

‘Raven Woman’s Tavern’ by Laura Koerber

4 Stars

There were many things the people of Warrentown didn’t know about Raven…

Full Review

‘Sex, Violence, Mars’ by Walrus

4 Stars

A short but fun sci-fi story with great world building, action and some laughs…

Full Review

‘Operation: Palmetto’ by R.T. Breach

3 Stars

‘The chase is on for one man on a mission to prove his worth and the stakes are high…’

Full Review

‘Spook City, U.S.A.: A Shadybrook Community Patrol Novella’ by Drew Purcell

4 Stars

‘un, unconventional easy-to-read comedy that never takes itself too seriously while delivering a good story with plenty of laughs…

Full Review

‘Wonder Rush’ by Dan McKeon 

5 Stars

An immersive and suspenseful teen spy thriller with some darker edges, a positive message, originality and depth…

Full Review

There are some fantastic indie books on this list that were indeed awesome discoveries. Reviewing books has become the central pillar to my blogging and authoring brand and without it I would never have connected with so many awesome creators. Some of these books made me laugh, made me think, informed and inspired while most importantly they got me through the past year. You can find me over on Reedsy Discovery here.

Thanks for reading!

Book Reviews: Some Quick Tips

The struggle for book reviews is real and while I put together a much longer guide about that struggle here are some quick tips to get more of them and how to deal with said struggle…

Leave a message in the front and back of your book to tell readers that reviews are important – this is obvious but sometimes overlooked. Many readers including me once upon a time never thought of leaving a review for a book. Remind your audience.

Fill that gap elsewhere by reviewing other authors works. You probably know how it feels to struggle for reviews so helping the industry will eventually help you. Plus reading, that’s supposed to fun right? But seriously, if you do help a few authors they might be inclined to return the favour but don’t expect it. Above all you’ll earn some trust and maybe even make a friend or two. Book reviews are partly the reason for my social media success.

Think about some book promotion or advertising because a lack of reviews is probably due to low distribution/visibility/sales. Theory would suggest that more sales equals more reviews… There are a stack of ways to advertise your book and I tend to use book promo sites every so often. The higher end sites also have higher end readers who review. More about those sites here

Shout about it in a few different ways because communication is key just like the first tip. On social media talk about the importance of reviews and then when you do get a good review share it and say how much you appreciate it. Make a thread on Twitter or put a review billboard together like this one…

Give incentives to reviewers because sweets for the sweet… from sending a reviewer a signed book to saying thanks to even giving them a shout-out or putting their review quote on the cover of a future release – these things provide some incentive for reviewers to share their thoughts.

Organise a pre-release and offer copies of your book to readers on the condition they review it on publication. If your self-published this will be easier, but basically offer your final manuscript to readers to review it early.

Try to compartmentalise the feeling of that struggle because it will never really go away and take it from me, my comedy ‘The Teleporter’ has over 130 reviews and I’m always wanting more because the chase is endless. I also have seven books published so if I spent every hour of every day worrying about the struggle I would get nowhere. My advice is to work on other things. Write that next book or blog post. Be busy and it won’t even cross your mind because that struggle is a state of mind.

Appreciate that it is really hard not just for you but for everyone published because it really is hard to get reviews. My debut book that dropped back in 2016 has 34 reviews and has sold thousands of copies. You are not alone.

Approach a book blogger because many of them are always looking for something new to read. Of course check out their blog and see if your work fits within their taste. Try to be personable in your approach. As a standard, offer a book blogger a free e copy for that review and be sure to read their submissions policy if they have one.

Talk about it with other authors because my Twitter DM’s, comments section on here and my Patreon are always open for any author in need. Reach out to one another because together our struggles are smaller, especially when we talk about it.

Time, above all is your friend here. Good things in writing take time and reviews take a lot of time to collect for a book which will be around a lot longer than all of us. Remember that. Most of these tips are long game style methods. Be in it for that journey.

Thanks for reading, this post is just a preview of another I have planned soon over on my Patreon which is my latest venture and a place where I intend to help more authors with coaching and future guides. If you sign up to one of my tiers you’ll get a free copy of my self help book Consistent Creative Content which has a whole section dedicated to reviews. Peace out, rock and roll man!

BookTube Review of Consistent Creative Content

Very recently on here I mentioned that authors and bloggers should give themselves more credit for what they have achieved. Many of us are out there every day trying to make today better than yesterday and this can cloud our judgement a little to how much we have achieved on this path. To me, its incredibly important to thank those who have supported my efforts because the majority of my success is because of that support.

The concept of authors or creatives supporting each other is something I wholeheartedly believe this world needs more of and you’ll find that is the core message in most of my endeavours on social media. Authors are united by their struggle to find reviews for their works and so when I see another author showing support I am more than happy to showcase that. For this post I would like to share a very recent review of my most recent release Consistent Creative Content by fellow author Ellen Khodakivska.

You might have seen me reblog the written review by Ellen but she has also created a Booktube video review of the book – this is something nobody else has ever done for my work. Her kind words and the effort she has made to create a video is something I very much appreciate and that work deserves to be recognised. You shall find the link to Ellen’s review by clicking on the Tweet below along with a few more things.

If you have recently followed this blog or left a review for one of my works, thank you.

Ellen’s YouTube/BookTube Page

A recent review of Ellen’s book ‘Josef the Writer’s Cat’

Ellen’s website

You can buy Consistent Creative Content here

Weekly Ramble #103

The stats are the greatest they have ever been for this blog. This month for the first time we broke the 2000 view barrier. Driven by consistent creative content and a loyal readership (you) this Hall of Information is reaching greater and greater heights by the day. Its almost like things are aligning all of a sudden although it has taken a long time to reach this point.

Any worthwhile venture takes time and this blog’s eventual success has proven that. From the initial launch all the way back in 2014 to the many different steps its taken. All of this has been governed by innovation and by that I mean the sheer will to find new ideas that work in reaching readers. Offering book reviews turned a corner although that took at least a year to establish any level of notoriety – only recently have I had to close submissions. And now the next step is upon us.

You can expect even more diverse content as a new era unfolds for this Hall of Information because more and more guest writers are submitting excerpts and articles. We are at a point now where the next two weeks of guest spots are fully booked which tells me we are doing something right. The best way a blog can grow is to produce more content and content that is diverse. I am now outsourcing some of it because only one man can write so much. In the next few weeks you’ll be seeing posts that will hopefully elevate the creators and keep you entertained. My aspiration for the future is to create a network of blogging where more and more writers contribute while also benefiting from the exposure of this blog’s following which is constantly growing. This has been further galvanised by an engaged and responsive Twitter following and I hoping to bring that here.

At the very forefront of this blog is book reviews and author support. That will continue because it is the centre pillar of everything to me only now it will be accompanied by a lot more content that hopes to help others further and inspire readers. We are always looking for new ways to entertain and inform the awesome supporters of this blog and so that next step beckons!

Submissions are still open for guest posts which has now been extended to sharing excerpts of books. Got an awesome first page or a memorable scene? We are happy to feature it here in front of an awesome growing audience. Head on over to the submissions page for more information.

Guest Book Reviews and Articles wanted!

The Hall of Information blog is officially opening it’s doors for guest book reviews and articles from fellow wordsmiths. Are you an author looking to showcase a review of a book but don’t have a platform to share it on? Have you written an article about your writing journey and want to publish it in front of an audience? This blog has over 700 followers and is always looking for new things to read!

This blog is built upon supporting others and if you have a review of a fellow author’s book or an article we will happily promote it and you on here.

A new section has been added to the menu bar and it’s dedicated to anyone who want’s to submit something as a guest. You’ll find specific submission guidelines and a contact form. Specifically we are looking for indie book reviews and reviews of books published by smaller presses.

After pitching this idea via Twitter it was relatively well recieved and so here I am. If you have an indie book review or article, we want to hear from you! Do reach out via the Submit a Book Review/Article Section.