Scammers Break The Kindle Store

I was unaware of this way that scammers are gaming the Kindle Store, and especially Kindle Unlimited, but I certainly have become aware of how utterly worthless product reviews on Amazon have become.

So many items (including books) are filled with barely-disguised paid reviews, sometimes dozens with as few as one or two words changed. I no longer feel safe buying a product on Amazon based on a rating or reviews without extensive research, and I NEVER buy or even borrow (through KU) a book without checking it against Goodreads, where sometimes the ratings are wildly different, even with a high number of reviews and ratings on both sites.

The marketplaces of the internet rely heavily on a certain level of trust, particularly when we can’t see and handle a product in person before committing to it, and if that trust is betrayed, those markets will implode.

David Gaughran

On Friday, a book jumped to the #1 spot on Amazon, out of nowhere; it quickly became obvious that the author had used a clickfarm to gatecrash the charts.

The Kindle Store is officially broken.

This is not the first time this has happened and Amazon’s continued inaction is increasingly baffling. Last Sunday, a clickfarmed title also hit #1 in the Kindle Store. And Amazon took no action.

Over the last six weeks, one particularly brazen author has put four separate titles in the Top 10, and Amazon did nothing whatsoever. There are many such examples.

I wrote at the start of June about how scammers were taking over Amazon’s free charts. That post led to a phone conversation with KDP’s Executive Customer Relations.

Repeated assurances were given that the entire leadership team at Amazon was taking the scammer problem very seriously indeed. But it was also stressed that the…

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Crossing No Man’s Land: Why I’ve Waited My Whole Life For Wonder Woman

Even if movies and/or superhero films are of no interest to you, give this a read. I’ve read plenty of reviews of the Wonder Woman, but Heidi is one of my favorite authors, and I feel like she captured something at once beautiful and painful (mostly regarding it taking this long for a film like this to exist) about her experience of seeing it.

Because of the TS I can’t go see movies in a theater, but I’m going to try and find a drive-in so I can see it on the big screen.

The Amazon Iowan

This blog will contain spoilers. It also has GIFs. If that is a problem for you, here is a link to an image-free version.


I have waited my entire life for the Wonder Woman movie.

I didn’t read the comics, and I only somewhat saw the television show, even though I was the right age and generation to have grown up watching it. I suspect something else was on during the time she aired and I was overruled, not allowed to see. I didn’t have a huge draw to her at the time, though, so I didn’t push. I was highly aware of Wonder Woman, though. I always knew who she was. Like Princess Leia in Star Wars, in the world of super heroes, Wonder Woman was the girl. There was only one. Oh, there were others, sort of, but she was the one, the best one, the…

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.@TheMarySue Casually Smears Romance: Twitter and I Respond

I am a huge romance fan, and particularly adore the work of Heidi Cullinan. This well-cited take down of The Mary Sue’s poorly thought out screed against the genre is a must-read for fans of literature, romance, or actual research.

The Amazon Iowan

Today we’ll unpack an article from The Mary Sue. “Tropes of Love: Gender Roles in Romance.” Sounds like a wonderful topic. We need more discussion of romance, and gender roles, and tropes are the best! Let’s go.

“I’ve always felt a strange fascination with romance novels. There’s no genre that the general public will associate with bad books faster than romance, with their bawdy covers and superficial plotlines. Of course, that’s an enormous generalization.”

Yes. That’s quite a generalization. It’s also disrespectful, it’s perpetuating an insulting stereotype, and it’s demeaning. Wow. Awkward start. But do go on.

In truth, romance has its good and bad books just like any other genre. Some are brilliant and some will make you feel ill. But there is something special to be said about bad romance novels: they illustrate gender roles better than any other form of media. It’s the books where the…

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Stand Up, Straight Christians, It’s Time For You To Come Out Of The Closet.

I’m obviously not Christian, but I do have a horse or two in this race. For starters, I’m weary of seeing my LGBTQ siblings who *are* (or more often, *were*) Christian suffer terrible emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical abuse in the name of Jesus Christ. It’s even an obstacle sometimes as a polytheist pagan in my interactions with folks who follow Christ, as decades of being told by the Christian media that I’m a disgusting, horrible person, whose quest for equality will lead to the down fall of society – and Jesus says so, has left me with an impression that the Christian god and messiah is a hateful, vengeful being who offers hope only to those that fit into a narrow category of existence. That’s such a radical difference in perspective from that of many of the Christians that I know personally that it is hard sometimes to find common theological ground on which to have a discussion. It’s like the opposite of the (probably apocryphal) Gandhi quote: I loath the Christ that I’ve been shown, but quite like some Christians, who are as the saying goes, quite unlike their Christ.

But leaving all of that aside, I’m hoping that more LGBTQ affirming Christians will “come out” so to speak, simply because as a person of faith, I’m dead tired of being painted with their brush. I was raised in an LGBTQ affirming faith, and I belong to a *different* LGBTQ affirming faith, yet simply by virtue of being a religious gay person I’m assumed to be self-hating and/or contributing to a system of oppression, because so many LGBTQ people’s ONLY understanding of religion and faith is that to be a person of faith is to be filled with vileness and hatred towards LGBTQ people. That’s been their experience, both of their milk religion of Christianity, and of how faith is portrayed in American public life by the outspoken Christians whose faith is inseparable from both political activism and their hate of anyone who is different from themselves.

john pavlovitz

Key in Lock


“I’ve been a Christian my entire life, and I’ve never been able to ask these questions, because I feared how I’d be treated in my church. Reading your writing today gave me permission to push back, to start conversations, and to ask for better answers than I’d been given.”
– A reader

I can’t tell you how many times over the past few months that I’ve read a variation of these same exhausted, religion-weary words from people all over the world, from every denomination, every theological tradition, and every church setting.

And though the language and the story and the circumstances may change slightly from person to person, one idea has surfaced over and over and over again; a familiar melody reprised nearly every single day: permission.

Straight Christians, many of whom have spent the entirety of their faith lives unable to address the nagging, persistent, terrifying questions about the way the Church and her theology has laid waste to the LGBT…

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