For Readers

Putting the Grit into Girl Power: Five Thrilling Female Heroes

By: Hidden Gems | Posted on August 14, 2018

From Atomic Blonde to the new Star Wars movies, it seems like everybody is crying out for strong female characters – but not all female heroes are created equal. Here are five books series with a thrilling female lead – all of which are also great reads. In 2017, the movie Wonder Woman exploded into movie theaters, and columns across the Internet were penned proclaiming: “Finally! A female action star!” Those of us of a certain age remember previous female action heroes, though – like Sigourney Weaver in Aliens or Linda Hamilton in Terminator. Nobody seemed to make a big deal about the fearless Ellen Ripley being female, or Sarah Connor being the ultimate overprotective mama bear – and I think modern female-focused movies and books have a lot to learn from these older characters. Representation is important, and it’s fantastic that more movies and book series are being created… Read More >

Five Unsettling Books Like ‘The Outsider’

By: Hidden Gems | Posted on August 7, 2018

This May, Stephen King rewarded fans with yet another creepy tale of chilling suspense with The Outsider. If you’re a fan of unexpected tales of horror, here are five more highly-recommended reads to keep you on the edge of your seat. Stephen King has come a long way. Once described as “America’s Schlockmeister,” in 2015 he was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Obama, proving that the nation’s tastes have evolved; and people have finally realized what a startling talent King truly is. There’s no other writer quite like him; weaving creepy tales full of unexpected twists, described with beautifully visceral language and dialogue that brings every page to life. With The Outsider, King has done it once again – presenting the grim and grisly reality of a shocking crime, and then peeling back the layers of narrative to reveal that everything is even more terrifying and messed… Read More >

Why Do People Give Romance Such a Hard Time?

By: Ginger | Posted on August 1, 2018

For decades, the romance genre has been the butt of innumerable jokes – but it continues to be the biggest genre in publishing, and generates over $1 billion in sales every year. Is it time we looked at this much-maligned genre with a more discerning eye? If you’re remotely interested in reading romance books, you might have heard about #Cockygate – the latest big scandal to hit publishing earlier this year. The details have been covered enough that we don’t need to rehash it all again, but a lot of the resulting discussion in the media focused on the broader subject of the romance genre in general, and even romance readers themselves. It’s that focus that is worthy of further discussion. Because what was written and said about the genre and romance readers in particular wasn’t very flattering. By and large, most authors who write romance novels, and most readers who devour them,… Read More >

How Amazon Democratized Book Reviews

By: Ginger | Posted on July 25, 2018

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program revolutionized the publishing industry – allowing anybody with a laptop to follow their dreams of becoming a writer. In the same vein, Amazon also revolutionized book reviews; taking the power of showcasing (or bashing) a book out of the hands of an editorial elite and letting anybody have their say. It’s one of the best things to ever happen to publishing – and here’s why. Before I became a whatever-the-hell-I-am-now, I tried my hand at many different careers. My first job was scrubbing foxhounds at the local county hunt, and since then I’ve also tried garden shed installation, radio sales, copy-writing and bar tending – all with various degrees of success (my Sapphire Martini is world-class, by the way.) When I first moved to America, I got a very curious job reviewing erotic books for a now-defunct online newspaper The Sex Herald, and this was… Read More >

Super Spy Summer Reading for Teens

By: Ginger | Posted on July 13, 2018

If you want to make sure your teens are keeping up with their reading, here are five super-spy themed series that will leave them shaken and stirred. Summer is often a tough time for parents, as kids and teens can be off school for two months or more. Unfortunately, most parents with jobs don’t enjoy that same benefit – and it’s a challenge to balance fun family activities with keeping the house in order. Throw in the pressure of making sure kids stay on top of their schooling and a lot of parents are practically at the breaking point! One great way to make sure kids keep up with their reading is to introduce them to a book series they simply can’t put down. Recent young adult sagas like The Hunger Games, the Twilight saga and the Divergent trilogy have kept kids addicted to reading – and there are plenty more equally… Read More >

The Good and Bad of Amazon’s $50 Review Rule

By: Hidden Gems | Posted on July 10, 2018

Way back in 2017, Amazon introduced a requirement that anyone leaving a review on the site had to have spent at least $50 at the store with an actual credit or debit card. Over time, that policy has evolved to become even more restrictive. While we understand and even applaud the intent behind the policy, questions remain about whether or not it has really made a difference in improving the situation it was designed to fix.   And even more importantly, is it worth the cost to the real customers affected by it. The Current $50 Review Rule While the original rule was that customers have spent $50 in total on their account before being able to leave an Amazon review, it has since become more restrictive.  According to the community guidelines page, a customer can only write a review if they’ve spent $50 over the last 12 months (that… Read More >

Five More Realistic Sci-Fi Books Like Artemis

By: Ginger | Posted on July 4, 2018

Recently I was in New York City with my two boys, and we got to see a fantastic installation commemorating the Audible launch of Artemis, by Andy Weir – the man who wrote the iconic book (and later movie) The Martian. Seeing real-life representations of items from the book – like the ‘Gunk’ which is a home-grown food source derived from algae, or the round air-filled bubbles that tourists visited the Apollo 11 landing site in – really brought the vivid realism of the book to life; and demonstrated how Weir had once again “scienced the heck out of” crafting his tale. Weir’s style of storytelling is often described as ‘science fact’ rather than science fiction, because it’s so well researched. No joke – I even attended a screening of The Martian with a former NASA engineer who’d designed one of the experiments sent to Mars on Viking 1. He… Read More >

The Case for Reading More Often, and Buying More Books

By: Tracy Stanley | Posted on June 22, 2018

Anyone in the book industry knows how tough it is these days to get people to buy more books and spend more time reading. Books have a lot of competition, and it’s not just from traditional things like movies or television. The internet has brought a whole host of new distractions, like streaming video and music or interactive online communities. But author Tracy Stanley is here to remind us that it’s up to us to make the case that there is still a lot of value in books and, compared to many other indulgences, they can be downright bargains. It’s tough. We all know how challenging it is to find readers and to entice them to pay a few dollars for hours of learning and enjoyment. Reading is one of the best investments people can make of their time and money. We know this, but how can we pass the… Read More >

For the Record, eBooks ARE ‘real books’

By: Hidden Gems | Posted on June 19, 2018

It’s time to put to rest the misnomer that eBooks aren’t ‘real books.’ It’s an outdated and offensive view and whenever someone uses it as an argument, it tells us far more about that person then it does about whatever book they’re referring to. As you may be aware, every day Hidden Gems Books sends out hundreds of free digital copies of books, on behalf of the authors themselves, to our subscribers. The hope is that most of them will read the book and then leave an honest review, which in turn helps the author get the word out about their book. It’s the whole premise of our ARC program, and we have so many authors and books to send out that we’re always looking for new readers to join our ranks. The program isn’t for everyone, of course, and that’s completely understandable. However, there is one objection to joining… Read More >

The Magic of Music and Storytelling

By: Rebecca E. Neely | Posted on June 15, 2018

There is a lot of overlap between music and books, both being rich and powerful forms of storytelling. It’s not often that we really stop and think about how closely they’re intertwined, and how one can be used to enhance or improve the other. Rebecca Neely is an author that has been affected by music her whole life, and is here to tell us about how she now uses it to help inspire her work as a novelist.  Since the beginning of time, people the world over have embraced and celebrated the phenomenon of music in all its diverse forms. In turn, it embodies the essence of people by encompassing, reflecting, recording and communicating their diverse heritage, traditions, cultures, customs, races, ethnicities, languages and religions. Even geography, climate, economics and the use of technology contributes to the creation, artistry and performance of music. Indeed, as a whole it’s not only… Read More >