Author Archives: By Sarah McDaniels

Best Fiction Books like Mario Puzo’s The Godfather

A cinematic masterpiece which has gained incredibly lasting pop culture appeal, The Godfather originated as a best-selling novel. Written in 1969, Mario Puzo’s fascinating crime story continues to capture the imagination of movie-goers and readers alike; so much so, many are always looking for similar novels which feature fascinating characters and intense plotlines. Below, you’ll find three of the best fiction books which are similar to Mario Puzo’s award-winning mob epic.

An Expert’s Picks

Our in-house books and publishing expert has singled out three particular novels in her Amazon.com list of the best fiction books similar to the Godfather. Not only are these novels very well-written, they center on exciting stories and deep, interesting characters.

The Last Don

Also written by Puzo, The Last Don is based on the mafia; however, there’s a fascinating parallel plotline centered on Hollywood corruption. (On sale at Amazon.com for $7.99)

  • McGinty says: “If you want a book like The Godfather, read one written by its author.”

The Hell that Followed

Much like Puzo’s mob epic, this particular novel features some deep, original villains which will live in the minds of readers long after they’ve moved on to other stories. Available in five parts at Amazon.com, this is one of the best fiction books for people who enjoy crime stories.

  • McGinty says: “This is an exceptional novel for anyone; but it’s especially ideal for readers who love Puzo.”

The Day of the Jackal

Voted one of the best crime fiction novels ever, Frederick Forsyth’s doesn’t feature the same type of criminal activity as The Godfather; however, it’s very similar in tone. Available at Amazon.com for ten bucks, The Day of the Jackal is a great choice for anyone who appreciates a good classic.

  • McGinty says: “This isn’t exactly like Puzo; however, it’s close in all the right ways.”

Best Ebooks Download for Breaking Bad Fans

Breaking Bad (photo by popculturegeek.com)

A suspenseful and entertaining television series, Breaking Bad has attracted numerous fans, thanks to its gritty, intense nature. If you’re a fan of AMC’s award-winning TV drama, you’re sure to enjoy the following three novels.

Similar in Many Ways

Our in-house books and publishing expert, Lois McGinty has compiled an Amazon.com ebooks download list of the best fiction novels for Breaking Bad fans. Each of these books feature similar characters, plotlines and tones. They’re also centered on criminal activity.

The Hell that Followed

When five small-town law enforcers steal money from a notorious drug lord, all hell breaks loose. Now, each man must cooperate with a cold, strange villain or face certain death. Based in part on a true story, this Amazon.com ebooks download is available in five chilling parts, with each currently on sale for only .99 cents.

  • McGinty says: “This is one of the top three books I read in 2012. The intense, frightening plot and well-written dialog are perfect for anyone who loves Breaking Bad.”

The Last Don

Famous for creating The Godfather, Mario Puzo also crafted some other amazing crime fiction novels. The Last Don features some fascinating characters who specialize in violence.

  • McGinty says: “As with AMC’s award-winning crime drama, The Last Don features villains who attract your loyalty. Just as you root for Brian Cranston’s Walter White, even though he’s become a notorious meth-lord; you root for Puzo’s villainous characters who kill at will, yet somehow draw your affection nonetheless.”

No Country for Old Men

Cormac McCarthy’s exceptional novel was made into an Academy Award winning film; however, the book version holds information that never made it onto the big screen.

  • McGinty says: “This is a fantastic read for anyone who enjoys the tense scenes in BB. Anton Chigurh is one of the most memorable villains in literary history; and there’s a lot more about him the McCarthy’s book.”

3 Cool New Gadgets that Are Blowing Minds

Advancing technology has set the stage for some incredible new gadgets that make life easier, more convenient and a lot of fun. If you think your latest smartphone app is something special, wait until you see how three cool new gadgets are giving consumers and creators the opportunity to utilize their minds in ways many never thought possible.

Google Glass

This amazing eyewear can do almost anything a smartphone can do, including provide access to the World Wide Web for answers to almost any question. Even more amazing, Glass can generate visual displays that augment reality. Don’t know where you are? Ask this amazing piece of Google technology for directions and arrows will appear atop the ground before your very eyes. Don’t know the meaning of an Italian word? Ask Glass and it will speak the meaning right into your ears. Completely hands free, Google’s intuitive augmented reality eyewear also lets you easily take videos and snap pictures, which you can send to any person, regardless of their location on the planet.

Mindflex

Mattel’s mind-boggling mental acuity game lets opponents control tangible objects using just their minds. Competitors place sensors on their foreheads and earlobes, allowing Mindflex to sense brainwaves which it interprets as directions. Strong concentration skills force a floating sphere in the direction of your opponent, who tries to push it in your direction using only his or her mind. It may sound like something from the future; however, this incredible “toy” is already available at local department stores.

eBook Downloads

To the dismay of the publishing houses, e-Readers are quickly changing the way consumers get their books. Additionally, these gadgets have been a godsend to authors, who are now able to use self-publishing platforms to get their novels in front of readers. According to RJ Lawrence who distributes his eBooks download through Amazon.com, this technology has been hugely beneficial to both readers and authors.

“Some of the old guards in the publishing profession say that self-publishing hurts readers by letting low-quality material into the marketplace,” he said. “In the past, agents and publishers acted as filters that supposedly worked to keep bad writers and bad stories off bookstore shelves. In reality, however, I think we can all agree that there were plenty of bad books available to readers long before self-publishing came about. In the end, readers are perfectly capable of keeping bad writing at bay on their own through basic word of mouth and ratings systems.”

Crime Fiction Popularity Low, Despite TV Success

Cast of Breaking Bad (photo by CennoxX)

These days, television crime dramas have struck a positive chord with the viewing public, with several network and cable series ranking high in the Nielsen ratings. That said, despite the success of shows, such as AMC’s Breaking Bad, CBS’s Person of Interest and the seemingly ever-present CSI off-shoots, crime fiction books remain shockingly unpopular amongst readers. Typically, when one genre finds fortunate via a particular medium; it also reaches similar success elsewhere. Unfortunately for those who make a career out of writing these types of novels, this just isn’t the case anymore.

Demographic Discrepancies

Currently, criminal-oriented novels rank well below other books genres, such as romance, science fiction and mystery. On the other hand, when television introduces a show featuring criminal activity, it almost always seems to find instant success. Years ago, a book such as Silence of the Lambs might have little trouble finding readership. These days, things have changed for a variety of reasons. According to RJ Lawrence whose crime fiction books sell sparingly at Amazon, some of the blame belongs to demographic differences.

“A television show such as Breaking Bad is more likely to find success, because an awful lot of viewers are male,” he said. “On the other hand, fewer and fewer men are reading these days. While numerous women may enjoy a good crime drama; the vast majority would prefer something light and romantic. As reader demographics shift in the female direction, these books are finding more success.”

Another Theory

Stressful lifestyles may also be pushing readers away from intense books that focus on criminal activity. According to our in-house books and publishing expert, Lois McGinty, the modern reader is more interested in light escapism when compared to readers of the past.

“Nowadays, people are under a lot of financial stress,” she said. “The news is filled with stories of violence that make people anxious and afraid. At the end of a long day, people are less inclined to read about a killer. Instead, many prefer to enter a world of fantasy, unlike the one they must endure on a daily basis.”

Still a Demand

Despite the floundering popularity of crime genre books, some authors have still found success. Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo sold millions of copies and was adapted into a motion picture. Likewise, although it didn’t set sales records, Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men became so popular, famed directors Joel and Ethan Coen adapted it into a film that won the Academy Award for best picture.

Still, there’s no doubting  this niche has seen better days. That said, according to Lawrence, this fact shouldn’t serve to push writers toward more popular genres.

“Even the most seasoned publishing expert can’t predict what books will do well,” he said. “Authors are always better served writing about subjects they feel passionate about. Then they have to let the chips fall where they may.”

OrangeBidz Scam or Unfair Penny Auction Reviews?

orange-bidz

Bidding fee auction websites have taken the Internet by a storm, with many getting rich at the expense of unwitting consumers. On the other hand, some sites have earned partial endorsements from the Better Business Bureau, a reputable consumer advocate that assigns ratings to companies based on customer complaint volume. One penny auction named Orange Bidz has received numerous online complaints. If you’re worried about a potential OrangeBidz scam, you should know the following.

High Risk, High Reward

According to both the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau, most people tend to lose money when they participate at penny auctions. That said, many consumers enjoy risking their money at these sites, because they view it as a form of high risk, high reward entertainment. If you get a rush competing for discount electronics and store gift cards, bidding fees auctions might be for you; on the other hand, if you are looking to score consistent discounts, you’ll be better off shopping at site that offer deals from local vendors, such as Groupon or LivingSocial.

Is OrangeBidz a Scam?

The FTC and BBB warn that many penny auction websites use automated bots or “shills” to make fake bids on behalf of the websites, themselves. Intended to cheat consumers, this deceptive strategy can drive up prices and prolong auctions. There are numerous negative OrangeBidz reviews accusing the company of using such tactics. While it’s not known whether these accusations are true; Orange Bidz does not use any sort of third-party monitoring system to ensure that each bid is made by users and not company employees or computer bots.

On the other hand, the BBB recently gave QuiBids an A- rating after it contracted with Grant Thornton to audit the company’s business practices, ensuring that no bots were used to cheat its users.

What Consumers Should Know

There is no direct evidence that OrangeBidz.com uses shills to cheat its customers; however, if you are worried about a potential Orange Bidz scam, there are other places to spend your money. Currently Orange Bidz is not rated by the BBB. On the other hand, many penny auction websites are. Before spending your hard-earned money, you’d be well-advised to check the BBB’s ratings to see if a particular bidding fee auction website has received a disturbing amount of complaints.

Hard to Win Penny Auctions: Consumer Reports

win-penny-auctions

Bidding fee auctions have become popular with consumers looking to compete with other users for the right to purchase bargain merchandise. Unfortunately, a recent investigation by Consumer Reports revealed that most people find it hard to win penny auctions, thanks to a variety of reasons.

The Nature of the Game

According to Consumer Reports, bidding fee auctions are difficult to win, because they are set up that way. In order to place a bid, users must pay cash. What’s more, every single time an auction receives a new bid; more time is added to the auction, allowing more users to get involved. Many sites now also offer automatic bidding options which will make bids on behalf of users until the auction reaches a certain price. This can make it that much more difficult for consumers to win penny auctions, especially since automated bids are made by computers which never tire out.

Shady Tactics

Recently, the Federal Trade Commission warned consumers that many companies utilize automated bidding software to make bids on behalf of the companies, themselves. Often referred to as “bots” or “shills,” this software is typically used to lengthen auctions and drive up prices.

Recently, QuiBids voluntarily underwent a third-party audit which determined the company did not use such tactics; however, few companies have followed suit. In response to a recent feature focusing on negative SkoreIt reviews, KingofHowTo.com was contacted by the company’s CEO Joe Crivello, who asserted that his company did not use shills or bots to cheat its customers. That said, Crivello admits his company has not undergone any sort of third-party audit, leaving consumers to guess whether SkoreIt does in fact operate fairly.

What Consumers Should Know

Although Consumer Reports warns that most people do not win penny auctions; it does have some tips consumers can use to keep from getting ripped off. According to the magazine, users should think of bidding fee auctions as a form of entertainment and always be prepared to lose money. They should also only bid at sites that offer tips and advice, unlimited refunds and provide “buy-now” features. The consumer advocate also encourages users to research each company using a Google search and reports from the Better Business Bureau.

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