Review Roundup: 1/08

Last year I was invited to join Amazon Vine, the online behemoth’s slick new marketing program that enables publishers (and other companies) to provide free review copies of their books (and other products) for a group of Amazon-selected reviewers, pretty much ensuring a lot of independent user reviews for the participating products. The program lets reviewers select up to 2 products from a pretty varied list each month, and you cannot have more than 2 unreviewed products at any time, so while there’s no guarantees (or requirements) that the reviews will be positive, the setup ensures that the products are actually getting some buzz for the effort from “influential” users.

I’ve been casually reviewing things on Amazon since 2000, breaking into the top 5,000 a year or two ago — which is where I was when I got the invitation — and am currently ranked #3,872 for my 103 reviews and the 782 helpful votes they’ve received.

So far, I’ve reviewed four books through the Vine program — two very good and two not at all — all but one of which I chose primarily on the basis of the marketing copy and/or subject matter:

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips (2 stars)
Sitcom approach ruins intriguing premise

Lush Life: A Novel by Richard Price (5 stars)
Vibrant, compelling read

Hundred in the Hand by Joseph M. Marshall III (4 stars)
Excellent, despite a couple of missteps

Franklin the Fly by R.O. Blechman (2 stars)
Pretty pictures can’t save too slight story

Annoyingly, the Vine reviews aren’t included on my review page; they’re currently only viewable on the respective product pages, so I’ve linked to each one directly. If you ever shop at Amazon, click on through, read the reviews and give me a “helpful” rating if you see fit.

For a quick laugh, be sure to check out my first Amazon review, for the movie Slam: “0 – 10? Not even close!

PS: For some blow-snot-out-of-your-nose-funny reviews, check out the JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank.

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