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.

‘Blachart’ by Christina Engela – Review

Enjoyable action-packed original space sci-fi

Christina Engela delivers with this action packed tale that introduces the Galaxii series; an expansive world of Imperial space fleets, distant planets, space pirates and beyond. Utilizing her unique, fun and strong narration style we meet ‘Mykl d’Angelo’ who serves firstly as a mystery man seemingly marooned alone in space until the authorities take him in and learn he is trustworthy. His brutal back story becomes apparent and as a reader you naturally side with him. Whether it be for his quick witted one liner’s or ability to deal with most situations and seemingly get out of them; the Imperial space fleet soon employ d’Angelo. He even reconnects with an old flame in the form of ‘Ripley Jones’ who vouches for him.

The real threat in Engela’s deep space Galaxii universe and much like many of her other books are the Corsairs – a mystery group of pirate types who appear to ravage any civilisation they can. Soon enough d’Angelo’s rescuing ship comes across another vessel manned by them and so the action, drama and deception begins. In order to fully intercept the Corsair world, they must align with an unexpected ally.

While this tale is wholly original there are some fun references throughout from old school weaponry, pirate slang terms and even a hilarious fast food reference. From shootouts to car chases this book has everything fans of sci fi action could want. It’s imaginative, highly readable and fun much like many of Christina Engela’s works which I highly recommend!

5 Stars – A cracking read. Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon. Thank you to the author for providing a copy to review.

Spooky Season Book Recommendations 2

What’s better than one post dedicated to spooky season book recommendations? Two posts dedicated to to spooky season book recommendations, so come with me on another journey showcasing some reads that are perfect for Halloween…

“Something happened tonight, I don’t know what. Something that ripped the veil between the Chicago of the living and the Chicago of the dead…” 

Undertown: A Novella by [K. Noel Moore]

You should know by now that here at the Hall of Information we love a good novella and this one fuses history with some serious ghostly spookiness. The prohibition era meets the supernatural as K.Noel Moore tells a story that’s readable in just a few sittings and will make for one of those perfect reads for Halloween.

A slow burning tale that twists into the deep shadowy darkness of the unexpected…’

Blood of the Sixth by [K. R. Rowe]

There’s a lot going on under the surface of a story which sits within the realms of gritty urban horror, mystery and witchcraft. While it is a complex story it’s also very well executed by K.R. Rowe. The whole layout of the book from short sharp chapter length, to characters all the way to general story has been well thought out and makes for some perfect spooktober reading. Be warned this one’s a little brutal – I’m kind of numbed to that sort of thing…

Be careful with dreams, they may come true….

Most of us can relate to the struggle of fitting in at school and Kristina Gallo has used that as inspiration to tell this story with a supernatural edge that guarantees to satisfy. It’s a shorter read but still manages to entertain. This one I recommend for Halloween but the other works of Kristina I highly recommend also! You can check out a recent Hall of Information interview with her here.

Page turning space sci-fi full of chills and fun from beginning to end…

I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy space science fiction quite a lot and my go-to author of that genre is Christina Engela who once again provides another awesome series but this one contains some chilling but fun spills that begins with ‘Dust’. The ‘Panic! Horror in Space’ series is well worth a look for some awesome Halloween spooky goodness.

Did you expect any less than a little shameless self promotion? Let’s face it, you’re gonna get that on here but with good reason because my 5th book ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ is FREE on Halloween! This memoir style account relays the story of one lonely soul who connects with another not of this mortality. It’s short, powerful and most probably an important moment for me as the milestone 5th book mark was crossed with it – apparently after releasing that number of books things start to happen and well something good has been happening since on here… What if the greatest love story was also a ghost story?

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

A small town, an ancient monster and some history to boot – let’s face it that concept is right up my alley and ‘Rites of Passage’ makes for some decent wintery/Halloween reading. An ensemble of characters band together to fight evil on several fronts with some action and a few twists along the way. I first reviewed this one over on Reedsy Discovery

A modern vampire story that takes the reader on a journey of twists and turns…

Nocturnal blood

Good and original vampire stories are hard to find but Villimey Mist is leading the charge with her gory but always enjoyable ‘Nocturnal’ series that begins with Nocturnal Blood. We see a young lady thrown into the world of vampires while also suffering from debilitating anxiety and OCD. She must endure a journey into what is just the tip of the ice cap as there is more to come from this series which will get the third book next year.

And so that wraps up part 2. Wishing you all a spooky Halloween and see ya’ll in the next one!

Weekly Writing Inspiration #14

It’s Friday again and so with that in mind let us celebrate with some moderate to light humour in the form of partially inspirational but always fun memes…

The nap is and always will be an institution for me…

I feel as if only certain generations will get this one…

YouTube are really grinding my gears at the moment with the double advertising and then being torpedoed with built in sponsors….

Isn’t that all of us? And if you didn’t get the memo, wear a mask!

2020 has been a pretty awesome voyage of discovery in both reading and getting to know some of you. Long may this continue…

Inspirational writing moment of the week comes from this wonderful review posted by awesome blogger and big time supporter of my stuff Nicole from Mullen Crafts – a blog that you totally should follow and support, go now….

I reckon the trick is to not have a day off. I don’t think there has been a day where I haven’t been doing something bloggy or writer for a long time…

Okay I went there, but it’s true, damn true…

Well I don’t think it gets better than a duck in a hat so that is where I shall hang my hat and finish this here post. Thanks for tuning in, see you in the next one!