It’s Here! The Eagle Has (Almost) Landed!

Hi Everyone!

Great Jack Higgins reference, right? I went through a period in early adolescence of being *very* into Jack Higgins, whose work, while hardly a shining example of immortal prose, introduced me to high-action international thrillers. Thus begins a tale…

Anyway, *my* particular eagle is Campus Confidential. Most of you are reading this because you got an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of it. So it’s now time for me to beg for reviews. The release date isn’t until May 17, but the book is already up on Amazon just for the purpose of gathering a few reader reviews prior to its official launch. The Amazon.com link is here and the Amazon.co.uk link is here, if you feel moved to drop a couple of lines about the book. Just scroll down to where it says “Review this product,” click on the link, and say what you think. It doesn’t have to be long at all: a sentence or two is fine. And obviously I hope you liked the book, but what we’re looking for here is your honest opinion.

Why, you might be asking yourself, should you bother to leave a review? What’s in it for you?

Well, to be honest, not a super-huge amount. Amazon officially prohibits me from offering any kind of payment or prize other than a free copy of the book to reviewers, so that’s what you got: a free copy of the book. Believe me, I wish I *could* shower all you wonderful people with candy and champagne and cold hard cash, but the ‘Zon has spoken, and the ‘Zon must be obeyed. Blessed be the name of the ‘Zon.

BUT, but, but, but, if you DO leave a review, your karma will get a big boost. As you might recall from my post on “Karma Chameleon” a few weeks ago, Campus Confidential as ultimately all about karma. So by leaving a review, you will be participating in the story in some way, or something like that.

And why would leaving a review give you so much good karma? Well, because reviews are how books get marketed and sold. Not only are reviews a kind of internet-age form of word-of-mouth and social proof, but the promo sites that we authors rely on look at reviews to decide whether or not to accept our books for their newsletters. So we’re constantly going around, cap in hand, trying to scrounge up every spare review we can get.

All this means that I would greatly appreciate any and all reviews that you, my beloved readers, care to provide. And since I’m am a relatively unknown debut author (under this pen name, anyway), you can bet that I will remember with fondness each and every reviewer who takes the time to help me out at this crucial stage in my journey.

Okay, enough. I’m starting to get a little verklempt, so I’ll stop now before I break down entirely. Links to the book’s Amazon page, and to this week’s selection of giveaways, are below.

Campus Confidential on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, and Amazon.au

Giveaways!

International Action Thrillers.png

Check out the International Action Thrillers Giveaway for some Jack Higgins-esque action and adventure!

May-Day's Murder and Mystery Tour

Up the thrills & chills content with the May-Day’s Murder and Mystery Tour!

Mysteries & Thrillers in Exotic Locales

Get away from it all with the Mysteries & Thrillers in Exotic Locales Giveaway!
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“Brilliantly-written and highly entertaining”: What the reviewers are saying about “Campus Confidential” (Plus back story and giveaways)

Hi All! It’s only a month away from the official release date of “Campus Confidential,” and the excitement is starting to build! At least I’m very excited about it. And it looks like other people are starting to get excited too.

As well as giving out Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) to regular readers (e.g., you guys), I’ve also been sending it out for professional reviews–you know, the kind of thing you see in the “Editorial Review” section on a book’s Amazon page. The reviews have started coming in and they’ve been quite positive! So to whet your appetite if you haven’t read the book yet, I thought I’d share them with you today.

campus confidential front cover with baskerville

And if you don’t have the book yet, you can get a free ARC in the Thrillers & Mystery Giveaway going on now.

Here’s the review from The Prairies Book Review:

Brilliantly-written and highly entertaining, a must read…

Campus Confidential introduces the gutsy Doctor Rowena Halley, a new PhD professor who gets a temporary teaching job at poverty wages in New Jersey. While the job doesn’t help her with her quickly dwindling finances, it puts her in the path of some very dangerous people. Stark writes with the self-assurance of a veteran author: her writing is witty with a healthy dose of dark humor, her characterization shines, and the dialogues are unusually clever. The narration flows effortlessly, and readers will find it hard to put the book down once they start reading it. With her easy-flowing narrative and the intelligent prose laced with a tinge of wry humor, Stark proves herself as a superb storyteller. A series to watch for.

And here’s the review from Readers’ Favorite:

Campus Confidential is a suspenseful work of dramatic fiction penned by author Sid Stark. Pairing wry humor with gritty realism and small-stuff drama, our heroine is Rowena Halley, recent recipient of a Ph.D. and a keen teacher of Russian. She accepts a terrible job with the knowledge that any kind of job is difficult to get. In connecting with her new students in New Jersey, life goes from bad to worse pretty swiftly. As if her family dramas weren’t causing trouble enough, Rowena’s own life may actually be in danger, insignificant as it is. The very idealism that helps her get out of bed in the morning could be the cause, and small stakes might be about to turn high in this rollicking college drama.

This was an unusual book in all senses, but it really worked and entertained well as it progressed. Dr. Rowena Halley is an idealistic woman living in a far from perfect world, and that in itself makes her a relatable heroine for readers far and wide who have aspirations beyond the actual reality of living in today’s world. Author Sid Stark plays on these ideals like a master at the keys, painting every moment with wry humor as Rowena’s life goes from low to new low. I found the actual suspense elements to be a tad far-fetched, but it kept the humor going and the farcical nature of the novel is sure to please audiences. Overall, I’d recommend Campus Confidential to readers seeking a quirky new twist on everyday drama.

***

I’m particularly glad that both reviewers picked up on the humor, which is a key feature of the story, even though it deals with “dark” or “serious” themes. One of the things I’ve been going for from the moment I first came up with the idea of the series is a kind of chiaroscuro style, where genuine difficulty and tragedy is juxtaposed with farce. Part of the inspiration was a set of events at my campus last year, in which students died in separate tragic incidents and it was basically hushed up, while the university made a huge fuss, including having counselors from the Wellness Center on standby in case students felt threatened or upset, about an anonymous blog post that criticized it for perpetrating systemic inequality.

To be clear, systemic inequality *is* a big problem there, but that was not the issue: it was the inflammatory nature of the blog post’s speech and the concern that it might make students feel bad. The hushing up of murder (yes, there was a horrifying murder on my campus last year, along with various other student deaths) and the over-the-top response to a slightly inflammatory blog post exemplified a certain strain of ridiculousness in modern academic culture for me. My long-held desire to write a tell-all book about higher education from a faculty member’s perspective crystallized, and soon “Campus Confidential” came pouring out…

I’ll probably write more about that in the future, but in the meantime, I’ll leave you with this week’s selection of giveaways:

Thrillers, Mystery & Suspense

The Thrillers, Mystery & Suspense Giveaway is running this week only. Over 100 free novels, short stories, and previews

Cold War, Hot Books Banner

The Cold War, Hot Books Giveaway has sixteen super-hot spy and suspense stories about the former USSR!

April Fools' Banner

Speaking of humor, check out the April Fools’ Humor Giveaway!

Page Turning Mystery:Thriller

The Page Turning Mystery/Thriller Giveaway has dozens of free full-length books, all free!