Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Review for "Top 18 ways to Promote your Music in 2015" By Donavon Parker

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Section of 'Alfred the Saxon King (Disguised as a Minstrel) in the Tent of Guthrum the Dane by Daniel Maclise

Review for “Top 18 Ways to Promote Your Music in 2015” by Donavon Parker

“Top 18 Ways to Promote your Music in 2015” is a quick start guide on how to navigate the huge world of music promotion. Parker specifies in the title it is designed for the year 2015 but many of the tips and advice are about mass social media and online venues which extend beyond 2015.

Alright, let's first deal with the elephant in the room; its 2017 now and I am reviewing a book about the music industry in 2015, don’t worry though as the author has made sure to make this relevant for the next few years by addressing new and up and coming technology. I also have to start off by mentioning to anyone purchasing or thinking of purchasing this book, do not click on the embedded link the author has included to his own website, because it is just ads, annoying page ads and as far as I can tell, any links you can find out there in the web verse all lead to annoying ads. I tried to reconcile this issue with Parker but as of the posting of this review the author has not been able to contact me.

Parker starts by dispelling some long held beliefs about the modern music industry and makes it clear that how artists and bands operated and shot to stardom 10, 15 or 20 years ago doesn’t cut it today; musicians who want to adequately promote themselves have to take full advantage of modern media, and recognize not everyone will become the next big thing, but that acquiring a good fan base is always important. Parker also analyzes cost, time and output, making sure new artists know how much time to spend on particular aspects, and what kind of result they can expect from that, so that artists know what is worth spending time on doing and what is not. The biggest benefits to this book are the links Parker provides, to advertising platforms, free music sources and pretty much anything you could think of. It means of course this book only really works within an online format, but Parker starts off by saying its condensed online format was designed to make the book as cheap as possible to allow anyone to be able to afford it, (hence the lack of a cover page) and who can fault him for that? (In case it doesn’t translate, that was a rhetorical question, of course no one can fault Parker for thinking of struggling artists’ wallets).

My biggest issue with the (very short) book was the tone. Parker used an extremely formal tone throughout, that made the writing feel stuff and stilted. I have zero experience in the music industry, apart from being what Parker refers to as ‘a consumer’ but something that is designed for use in a young person’s game such and music can afford to be a little relaxed, easy going and informal with the reader. Of course that’s not to say that older artists and bands don’t deserve assistance in getting their music out there, or that they don’t need help too, in fact there are times when Parker described social media platforms assuming you have never heard of Facebook or Twitter or how to use them. And really Kudos to Parker for trying to widen his audience for this work, difficult to achieve in 13 pages.

Apart from my inability to stick to a strong schedule and review this on time, I actually really enjoyed the break from the norm. It was concise, to the point and not overly technical, which meant a noob like myself to the ways of the music industry could easily understand what Parker was talking about. Overall though the book had some problems, firstly the fact that it wasn’t really a book, or what I would consider a book, more like a booklet. I understand the authors desire to make it short, to keep it affordable, but perhaps he could do a follow up, or maybe publish a more in depth book for those who want to learn more. Perhaps he could do a series, including books on how to record and refine recorded music, how to produce albums etc. My only advice to Parker if he did like the idea of continuing the advice he gives is not to worry so much about the formality of language, you aren’t speaking to congress, you can relax and let your experience in the industry speak for itself.

To buy this book click here.  

Monday, 9 January 2017

Review for "The Ridealong" by Michaelbrent Collings

The Ridealong by [Collings, Michaelbrent]

The Ridealong by Michaelbrent Collings

The Ridealong by Michaelbrent Collings is a fast paced mystery thriller centered around a cop and his daughter. What started as a simple Ridealong with his teenage daughter quickly spirals into a night of terror and danger for both of them, trying to unravel the mess they have been placed in and uncover a mystery that could blow their worlds apart. The sinister voice at the other end of their radio can either be their salvation or their damnation, but one thing is certain, their lives will never be the same again after this.

I have to start this review with a cry, a plea if you will, to the movie production community at large; PLEASE MAKE THIS INTO A MOVIE. Considering their current penchant for adapting books into movies it wouldn’t be a huge leap to turn their sights to Collings work. This book is one of the few I can honestly describe as ‘gripping’ from start to finish, and then the ending hits you like a ton of bricks and you have to pick yourself up off the floor and wonder how the heck you missed that twist.

Now as amazing as it is, the book isn’t perfect. After the euphoria of the ending has subsided, you are left wondering if the general theme isn’t a bit passé nowadays. Apart from cop mystery dramas lining the shelves of airport bookstores, they do provide a certain guilty pleasure, but here I am talking about the twist, or rather the theme of the twist. Without giving too much away (something I have been told I am terrible about) the twist is something that has been done before (again I cannot mention who shares this particular genre with Collings work without giving the twist away, but trust me, you will know it when you read this). The punch to the gut the twist delivers is real enough, but the effects seem to quickly recede to leave the reader slightly less impressed.

Praise has to be given though, to Collings for taking what might be considered a bit of a pedestrian novel theme and giving it new life, throwing in curve balls and delivering the unexpected to his readers. While you may not read the book more than twice, it’s an enjoyable experience and those who dare to start the journey will be left feeling glad they did. 

For more about the author, click here
To buy this book from, click here

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Character Interview with Jonathan from "Enden" by David Kummer

Hi, Jonathan. Tell us a little about yourself? Where do you come from?

I grew up in a small village, with my dad and brother. We were just a couple of miles away from the nearest town, but when the barbarians came and attacked we had to fight. I ended up on my own after that, and if not for the kind knight who discovered me I would probably have died.

Tell us a little about your home, what are your feelings towards home?

My home wasn't always a happy place, because there was lots of arguing between the three of us. My brother, Emmett, was always getting on my nerves, and I disagreed with my father about many things. But even still, I miss it, and I know how good I had everything before.

What motivates you along your journey?

Lots of people have asked me what motivates me to fight, and to go on these war conquests. Ultimately, it comes down to fighting for others. The only way to protect them is to fight for them, so that's what I do to the best of my ability.

How do you see yourself in relation to the rest of the world?

The world is a terrible and cold place, and it seems like all of us are just trying to survive. It's always battles or wars or famine, and so many people have died. But we fight on, and we survive under all of the tyranny and nature that tries to kill us.

What is most important to you in this world?

My friends are the most important, since I no longer have family. There are a few people in particular, but I fight for those poor and dying people who can't defend themselves.

What characteristics do you consider important in a person? What kind of people do you try to

surround yourself with?

I surround myself with people similar to me, but also some that are more even-tempered. They help me to stay level and not get out of control, which can happen.

What do you see for yourself in the future? Where will you be? What kind of person do you

want to become?

I want to make the world a more fair and safe place, and to live out the end of my life in peace and comfort. I don't have any desire to be a king or nobility, as some have asked me. I want more to end quietly and with the people I care about.

Is there a love interest for you back home?

No, not right now. I don't care much about that, and love is only likely to hurt because one of us may die.

How many near-death experiences have you had so far?

Um... a lot. I'm gonna say about 10. It's kind of a weekly thing.

What do you think about war?

It's necessary at times, but only to disperse with evil. I hate war, and those who dream about it don't understand it.

What's your biggest regret?

My brother dying. I don't know if I could have helped him or not, but I just regret losing him.

At the end of the day, who are you really?

I'm one of the people. I'm a normal solider. But I'm also a leader in the Wars of Enden.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Book review: Emails From Heaven by Sam Neumann

Emails from Heaven

This was a unique novel in the sense that while I didn't quite care for the main character, David, the novel ended up not really being about what I thought. David works at a job he doesn't like, but like everyone it's a job and what else is a responsible adult supposed to do? One day he receives an email from his brother...but it can't be from him, because David's brother is dead. That's what I thought the plot would be about. To an extent, it was. It's the catalyst for everything else.

Whether the emails actually come from heaven (a place David doesn't believe in, but his brother did) was not what continued to entice me. It was how dealing with his brother's death changed David. It was obvious he likely hadn't dealt with the loss, not in any serious way at least. But the emails made David do things he wouldn't have done normally. He never would have spoken to the quiet accountant. He never would have asked out the woman way out of his league. He had his place in life, his routine, and that was that.

The relationships David created I found to be real, and awkward (as any good relationship/friendship is), and life-changing for everyone involved. While I still didn't care much for David in the end, I found him to be real at the very least, and as an author myself it's something I strive for. You're not going to like everyone you meet in real life, but if you can understand them as a person, understand where they're coming from then at least that's something. And Neumann accomplished that with David, whether I liked him or not.

I recommend this novel to anyone who needs a kick in the pants to get their life in order, their priorities set up, or just need to finally take that vacation from work and go fishing. It's a reminder to be kind to people for no reason, and really get to know the people around you. You'll find yourself amazed sometimes.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Book Review: Forever Love by Jessica Nelson


It's taken me quite a while to get back into doing reviews. I apologize for the delay. Things get in the way sometimes, but I hope to get back in the game with this review.

I honestly read Forever Love quite a while ago but never actually wrote a review for it. Usually I start writing as I'm reading because it's fresh in my mind but this time I struggled. This is not a terrible book, don't get me wrong. But I didn't find anything particularly special about it. I enjoyed the theme of the novel the best. The idea of forgiveness, and accepting others and their past resonates with me and I'm sure it will for other readers. Having this apply to a relationship with God is vital, too. I enjoyed Joe as a character. I was happy to see an imperfect past, and family. I think that's missing in many Christian novels. Maggie, while spunky, just got on my nerves. Near the end, Joe did too. His constant comments about his ex, and and Maggie getting visibly upset went on for too long. Most of that could have been taken out without affecting the plot or outcome.

Maggie would have been a bit better if we saw a bit more development. Her development seemed to happen when she came to Christ. Yes, accepting Joe and the relationship can be seen as a big step for her, but it wasn't as satisfying as it should have been.

Overall, it was an enjoyable and simple read. With a bit more to it (like truly flushing out the issues with Maggie and her family) I think it could be even better.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Review for "Comrades We" by A. Louise Olson

Comrades We

Comrades We” by A. Louise Olson is a fantasy drama about a groups of young friends and their abilities. In the world of this book, Olson has melded fantasy, magic and human dramas together to tell the story of 7 young people growing up and discovering their place in the world while shouldering great responsibility and learning about relationships. The Kingdom of Yaidanain is the primary location of this story, an empire that seems to be on the brink of something no one can understand, but they find an ally in the newly appointed Greatmage, who must also learn about his new power and what lies before him. His friends are always at his side however, and ready to support him and each other as they begin a quest that spans this series.

We learn a lot about this world, about the provinces, the languages and customs of the various kingdoms, as well as about the main characters. As these young strangers are introduced they all become fast friends and find themselves responsible for much more than their studies at the Academy of Yaidanain. It is clear this was designed as an introduction to the rest of the series, laying the foundation for what the reader needs to know to understand adventures in future books.

This book was great; it was fun and enjoyable, without too much complexity to it. But as I find often with some independently published books I found it way too short. Now normally my complaint is because there is so much left unsaid, so much more that could have been created and because I love the book and the story I want more, however in this case it was less about my enjoyment and more about solid story structure. We learn about the kingdom of Yaidanain, and that there are other kingdoms, but we have very little understanding of how they interact, or don’t interact with each other. We meet characters so briefly and are expected to form strong attachments to them. In the same vein we witness the deaths of characters we barely know and are supposed to be emotional about this. At 170 pages this felt exactly like a roller coaster; you are initially plunged off the edge into a deep drop and encounter many twists and turns, and then just as you feel like you are getting to grips with the ride it’s over and you have to get off. While I could see the bones of a great series in this book, it would have read much better if Olson had taken more time with it and eased the reader into the world more slowly. To put it into perspective in 170 pages we are taken through approximately 4 or 5 years of the lives of the main characters, where they study and build relationships with others, and sometimes end relationships. Imagine if the Harry Potter series of books was condensed into 170 pages, how much would you feel like you were riding in the Indy 500? With so little writing space I have to wonder how much Olson felt restricted in her writing, felt that details about the environments or descriptions of people had to be cut in order to cram in all the plot points of this book.

That being said I am impressed that Olsons’ writing style clearly didn’t suffer because of the short length. She has some impressive writing chops and it was a delight to experience them. The way she organically takes the reader on a tour of the Academy buildings when a new student enters the mix, rather than try to stuff it into the beginning when we first encounter the building was a smooth as a professional. The nature of the relationship between humans and gods was intriguing and the brief glimpses of this left me sufficiently intrigued to learn more.

Olson has the bones of an excellent and far reaching series on her hands, and with some patience and care could be on the verge of an enduring world. My only advice to her would be to take things slowly, don’t pigeonhole yourself or feel like you have to restrict yourself to a particular number of books or a particular length of book. You are the master of this world and this story is yours, you have so many options and so much you can create that the sky is the limit here. You have the talent behind you now all you have to do is show the world what you can really do!

For more about the author click here
To buy the book from Amazon click here

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Cover Reveal for Enden by David Kummer


Displaying ENDENB1COVER.jpg

They have grown strong in the shadows, the kingdom of Oldon. The land is void of hope and of strength against them. The human kingdoms grow corrupt everyday, so that the lines between good and evil are slurred.

One young man from a small village in the valley could change all of that. He fights with the passion of a warrior and the luck of a magician. And when the barbarians force him out of his home, the journey begins.

Trained by a knight, shadowed with secrets, and against the kingdom he once called home, Jonathan is an outcast, a rebel. But more than anything, he is a leader.

Enden is a world filled with wars, famine, sieges, torture, and death. But the greatest battle of all is to survive. Only one thing is certain. Something is rising, in the distance near the edge of the world where forgotten secrets brew. Something has risen. And it is coming.It is coming.

Enden comes out January 1st, buy it here