Are You a Kindle Unlimited Reader?

Kindle Unlimited Readers and Verified ReviewsI recently learned of a great injustice:  When a Kindle Unlimited subscriber borrows and reads a book and then reviews it on Amazon, that review is not a “verified purchase” review.  It is lumped with the other “unverified” reviews. Now, before anyone jumps in to correct me, I admit that “borrowing” is not the same as “purchasing.”  But you have purchased a membership from Amazon, and they know exactly how many pages of that book you read, because they pay the author according to how many pages you read. If they want to quibble, they could call it a “verified read” or “KU read” or something like that.

Stand up and be counted

If you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, it’s because you are a serious reader. Your opinion of a book is worth hearing! You’re paying for that subscription, and you deserve to have your reviews seen and respected. I encourage you to write to Amazon. Emails and phone calls are helpful, but a real letter is most influential. Do all three, if you like.  Let Amazon know that you want your reviews to be given a mark of authority, like that of the “verified purchaser”.  As I suggested above, they could use “verified reader,”

In the meantime, you can preface your reviews with a statement that you are a Kindle Unlimited reader.  Amazon will still bury your review under all of the “verified” ones,  but it will get seen sometimes, and it will lend authority to your reviews.

Kindle Unlimited is still a good thing

$10 a month for unlimited books, magazines and audiobooks is pretty amazing. No, not everything is in the Kindle Unlimited library, but it is BIG. It’s especially nice for readers of series. Audiobooks? I love audiobooks. By the way… both of my books, Baggage Claim and Snow Angels, are included in the Kindle Unlimited library.

In case you were wondering, authors do get paid for the books you read through Kindle Unlimited.  Amazon pays authors by the page. If you read 10 pages of a book, the author gets paid for 10 pages. They don’t pay for re-reads. Amazon knows everything. It’s pretty scary.

Are you a Kindle Unlimited reader? I encourage you to speak up and let Amazon know that your review deserves to be seen!

Miranda Warning – An Audiobook Review

Miranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert FREE Kindle book and $2 Audible audiobook!I just finished reading Miranda Warning (A Murder in the Mountains – Book One) by Heather Day Gilbert. I thought it would be a straightforward mystery, but it turned out to be a multi-faceted introduction to what I expect will be a long series.

NOTE – This kindle book is FREE on Amazon right now, and when you buy it (for FREE), you can get the audible version for $1.99.  I highly recommend it, and I think you will want to follow up with the next in the series, “Trial by Twelve.”

The author has created a refreshingly original world. I wouldn’t classify the book as “Christian Fiction.” Instead, Ms. Gilbert writes from a Christian worldview, and her setting includes a realistic mix of Christians and nonbelievers in community. None of them are perfect, and they live naturally according to their convictions. The heroine is a unique character. She bears some scars from a dysfunctional childhood, but she went to college, married into a healthy family and doesn’t wallow in angst. As a mother-in-law, I was pleased to see the loving relationship between Tess and Nikki Jo. The politically conservative characters are portrayed as intelligent and sensible instead of rednecks or greedy industrialists. They have guns but aren’t violent. A young boy is allowed to be an ordinary young boy who enjoys his family. An older woman is sometimes lucid and sometimes vague. Tess’s husband, Thomas, is allowed to be grouchy and jealous sometimes without being a bully. He is macho and vulnerable. She is vulnerable, too, but also willful and sometimes intrepid. And she doesn’t hide (too many) things from her husband; she can be foolhardy and she has common sense. On these and several other points, Ms. Gilbert succeeds in breaking free of stereotypes. Refreshing!

There were some inconsistencies that struck me as jarring: Miranda initiated the whole mystery and then became disinterested. The doctor was too accommodating, too fast. Why didn’t Tess have a concealed carry permit? Axel provided insight to Thomas’s character and feelings for Tess, but he seemed extraneous otherwise. He felt like a subplot that never developed, and then he left the country to tie up the loose end. Rosemary’s actions were odd. The friendship with Charlotte happened too quickly and conveniently. The ending felt rushed. And yet, it was still an engrossing story. I wonder if the book was originally much longer and then cut back to meet modern publishing standards.

The author’s creativity and skill were displayed in the two parallel story lines that linked all of the characters. Rose’s story unfolded slowly, changing our perceptions of each character with every installment. THAT was superbly written.

Trial by Twelve - by Heather Day Gilbert


Trial by Twelve, the second book in this series, features the same characters two years later and is more of a murder mystery than this one. I look forward to reading it soon!




I had purchased Miranda Warning in kindle form and was already reading it when the author approached me with an offer of a free audiobook in exchange for an honest review.  It was nice to have both formats. The reader did a very good job, but of the two formats, I preferred the text book.  The first-person, present tense style sounds a little dreamy and “stream of consciousness” when it’s read aloud.

There are quite a few female characters in the book, and the reader was consistent and distinct in each voice. She had to create separate young and old voices for three of the characters, since there are separate timeline passages, and she did great with that. She also did the child’s voice quite well. The Appalachian dialect was just right – not overdone. 

This kindle book is FREE right now on Amazon, and the Miranda Warning audiobook is only $1.99.  That’s $2 for 8 1/2 hours of entertainment!!

Bite Size Book Reviews

I’m not feeling romantic this week. When I am stressed, instead of reaching for something lighthearted, I usually pick up a mystery or (slightly)romantic suspense novel. We moved two weeks ago, unexpectedly, and I listened to audiobooks while I worked on packing and cleaning.  When in Rome is an old favorite, and I always enjoy Kristen Heitzmann, but the others were new to me.

Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris is a FREE KINDLE BOOK! (Price may change without notice, but it’s free right now!)

We are starting to settle into our new home – did I mention that it is an apartment in a Tudor castle? – but I’m still not ready to snuggle up with a romance. Expect more murder and violence next week…

When in Rome by Ngaio Marsh - Classic Detective Fiction, reviewed by Cathe SwansonWhen in Rome, audiobook by Ngaio Marsh, read by Nadia May

Retro Read! This classic detective story from 1969 is an old favorite. Ms. Marsh writes so clearly that the reader experiences the story more like a movie than a book. She researched Rome, its history and its legal system for this tale of blackmail and drug smuggling. Her characters are varied, each drawn with realistic attitudes and behaviors, and each has his or her own motive for murder.




Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris - FREE kindle book as of 4/14/2016



Dangerous Passage, kindle book by Lisa Harris

This book was different in that the romantic relationship is already in place at the start of the story, and the hero is a medical examiner, which places him in the criminal investigation field without having him be a police officer. The complexities of the heroine’s family life added depth to this story of human trafficking. The author has set the stage for a series, and I look forward to reading the others.



The Edge of Recall by Kristen Heitzmann


The Edge of Recall, audiobook by Kristen Heitzmann, read by Katherine Kellgrenn

Kristen Heitzmann writes complex stories, and this is no exception. The heroine is still living with unresolved trauma, which makes her a bit frustrating, but the hero and his sidekick are enjoyable. The plot is – as always in Ms. Heitzmann’s books – original and well-researched. I learned a lot about labyrinths! The ending seemed rushed and too “pat” for such a rich story.



The Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn


The Patmos Deception, audiobook by Davis Bunn, read by Rich Orlow

Good writing, great setting, unique characters, cultural and political authenticity, intriguing history… that made up for the fact that the plot was a little confusing and the ending was not quite an ending. I wondered if Bunn might be setting us up for a sequel. More suspense than romance – just the way I like my books.  I do recommend it.



and now for something completely different…

Opening Moves by Steven JamesOpening Moves, audiobook by Steven James, read by Richard Ferrone

I picked this one up because my library had it listed as Christian fiction and it’s the prequel to a long suspense/thriller series. I am always looking for new authors and series.  It freaked me out. Cannibalism, torture, mutilation, violence – with descriptions of the emotions experienced by the villain and the victim as they happened.  I regret reading it. BUT – I understand the rest of the series isn’t as gruesome. The author has good writing skills, so if you enjoy this genre, give it a shot. It’s not Christian fiction, but there was very little to object to (aside from the brutality, sadism, etc.)




Bite Size Book Reviews

I have some kindle freebies in this week’s list!   (Correct as of this article. Check the price before ordering)

It’s an even more eclectic collection than usual, with settings in first century Rome, 1880 New York City, turn-of-the-21st-century Egypt, and pre-civil war Missouri as well as modern American settings.  Audiobook, kindle and paperback!


chasing the lion1. Chasing the Lion, audiobook by Nancy Kimball

**This reader is one of the best I have ever heard. The audio version is a finalist in the 2015 Audiobook Publisher’s Association Audio awards in the Inspy/Faith-Based Fiction category**

The Christianity in this book is a primary theme.  It’s set in 35AD, when Christianity was serious business. The romance was developed gradually and naturally. Again, faith played a pivotal role in all of the book’s relationships. The violence was horrific at times, but it was appropriate to the setting of the book, as were the attitudes toward slavery and (very minor) descriptions of sexual behaviors.

This was a long audiobook – 15 hours! – but definitely worth listening to.


edge of light2. The Edge of Light, kindle, by Ann Shorey

This was an interesting antebellum novel set in Missouri, among slaveholding middle-class tradesmen. We often see slavery associated with wealthy landowners, so this was a fresh and insightful portrayal of the culture. The heroine is a believable character, and I liked the way her understanding of slavery and humanity changed near the end of the book. That was a skillful transition.




hazardous duty3. Hazardous Duty, audiobook by Christy Barritt

FREE and buy the audio version for $1.99

The first in a series about a crime scene cleaner, this book was fun and entertaining. The heroine’s attitudes about her career, education, and life-in-general seem natural. I enjoyed her persistence as she tried to participate in the investigation of the crime but was repeatedly ignored or thwarted. The mystery was solved at the end of the story, but the relationships left me looking forward to the rest of the Squeaky Clean series.



gentleman of her dreams4. Gentleman of Her Dreams, kindle by Jen Turano


This sweet little novella is a companion novel to “A Change of Fortune” from the “Ladies of Distinction” series. It’s a fun, silly short story, full of entertaining incidents, misunderstandings and conversation between the hero and heroine. The hero returned from overseas to find his old friend is as engaging and willful as she was when he left two years ago. It’s an intriguing introduction to the full-length novels in this series!



woman of fortune5. A Woman of Fortune, kindle by Kellie Coates Gilbert

This novel was different from anything I have read lately. The main characters are a husband and wife who share genuine affection; even when we realize that the husband is a criminal and has put his wife in a terrible situation, we have no doubt that he loves her and his children. The reader regrets his crimes but hopes for a happy ending for the family. The character of the younger son who steps up to be a strong help to his mother is particularly appealing.



laughter of dead kings6. The Laughter of Dead Kings, paperback by Elizabeth Peters

This is the final book in the Vicki Bliss series. That makes me sad, in a way, but I am glad the author got it all wrapped up before she died. Her real name was Barbara Mertz, and she held a PhD in Egyptology, so the two Vicki Bliss books set in Egypt seem to have more creative plots. Vicki hasn’t changed significantly from the first book. Her relationship with the hero is stabilized, and she has learned to respect her boss – finally! – but her character never developed any depth. This novel would be hard to enjoy as a stand-alone book, because it doesn’t give much background about the characters. It has fun links to the Amelia Peabody series by the same author, but if you ARE familiar with that series, there is no mystery. Overall, the ending of the Vicki Bliss series was satisfactory. I will miss Ms. Peters. Her books have been a blessing to me for 25 years. Note – this book is not written by a Christian author and the characters are not Christians. There is no description of sexual behavior, but you know it’s happened. The language is not terrible, but neither is it perfectly clean.