Shelfbuzz Update – January 2019

A quick note…

Hello Shelbuzzers — two things have prevented us from appearing in your in-box in 2019:

  1. Issues with our email provider (finally fixed!)
  2. Changes in the publishing industry

A bit of history…

When Shelfbuzz started — way back in 2012, the indie publishing revolution was just beginning. It was a great time for authors because they didn’t need to submit their manuscripts to publishers and hope they were “chosen.” Authors could go direct and offer their books to readers on Amazon and other online booksellers.

This was great for authors, but for readers, it was kind of a mixed blessing.

All of a sudden, there were a lot more books out there for readers to discover—often at more affordable prices than books from the big publishing houses.

But the quality was uneven…

Some books were rushed out — with lots of typos and in desperate need of editing.

At Shelfbuzz, we saw the need to help readers navigate all these new indie-published books. And we noticed that the best-quality books often had well-designed covers. When an author was serious about his or her craft, he or she invested in a professional cover—as well as professional editing. So a great cover was often (but not always) an indicator that a book was worthy of consideration.

But over the past several years, things have changed.

It’s now easier and cheaper to get a decent book cover. In fact, some designers offer professional covers for under a hundred bucks. That means more authors are putting professional covers on their books and a good cover is no longer the indicator of professionalism and quality as it once was.

Of course, at Shelfbuzz we don’t just judge a book by its cover alone. A few years ago, we developed the Shelfbuzz Score, our own rating system that looks at reviews, price, professionalism, and popularity to help us decide whether to feature the book.

But even using our Shelfbuzz Score, we feel that we’re not doing a good enough job in fulfilling our mission.

So we’ve been working on some changes.

The next step…

We’re shifting to a new weekly email: Shelbuzz Undiscovered Gems that will come out every SundayThese will be hand-picked by our editors using our revamped Shelfbuzz Score that’s even more selective. These books all will have more than a great cover. They will also be among the highest rated books of their genre.

Our mission is to help you find your next great read. That’s why we are focusing on “undiscovered” gems.

Here’s the first Undiscovered Gems email. Please let us know what you think by dropping us a note here.

And thanks again for being a Shelfbuzz subscriber!


Shelbuzz Undiscovered Gems. Best Kindle Ebook Discoveries for the Week of January 27, 2019

Happy Sunday, Shelfbuzzers. Here’s this week’s list of handpicked books. Enjoy!


Indigo by Beverly Jenkins

Genre(s): Romance, Historical

As a child Hester Wyatt escaped slavery, but now the dark skinned beauty is a dedicated member of Michigan’s Underground railroad, offering other runaways a chance at the freedom she has learned to love. When one of her fellow conductors brings her an injured man to hide, Hester doesn’t hesitate… even after she is told about the price on his head. The man in question is the great conductor known as the “Black Daniel” a vital member of the North’s Underground railroad network. But Hester finds him so rude and arrogant, she begins to question her vow to hide him… (more)



The Essay: A Novel by Robin Yocum

Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction

Jimmy Lee Hickam grew up along Red Dog Road, a dead-end strip of gravel and mud buried deep in the bowels of Appalachian Ohio. It is the poorest road, in the poorest county, in the poorest region of the state. To make things worse, the name Hickam is synonymous with trouble. Jimmy Lee hails from a heathen mix of thieves, moonshiners, drunkards, and general anti-socials that for decades have clung to both the hardscrabble hills and the iron bars of every jail cell in the region. This life, Jimmy Lee believes, is his destiny, someday working with his… (more)



Truth or Beard by Penny Reid

Genre(s): Romance, Free

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my! Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why perpetually level-headed Jessica James has been in nave and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her… But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed… (more)



Diffusion by Stan C. Smith

Genre(s): Sci-fi, Thriller, Free

What would you sacrifice to bring to light the greatest discovery in human history? Quentin Darnell was only a boy when his anthropologist parents were overcome by a professional failure so crushing it led to his father’s suicide. Now a schoolteacher, Quentin is looking for answers that can only be found in the wild terrains of Indonesian Papua, where years ago his parents studied an isolated aboriginal tribe. Quentin leads his wife, son, and six students on a field trip to experience Papua’s pristine tropical forests. When their plane tragically crashes in the wilderness, Quentin becomes trapped in a vicious… (more)



The Mystery Box: A Soccer Moms Nightmare by Eva Pohler

Genre(s): Mystery

Soccer mom Yvette Palmer lives an ordinary life in San Antonio, Texas when a box is delivered to her by mistake, and in taking it to its rightful owner — a crotchety neighbor named Mona who shares her back fence — is drawn into a strange and haunting tale. Mona’s ratty robe, mood swings, and secretive behavior all raise red flags, and Yvette is sure someone else is living there despite Mona’s claim to live alone, but Yvette is unable to break away as she listens to how Mona transformed from a young college woman about to be married to the odd… (more)



Loose Ends: A Private Investigator Crime and Suspense Mystery Thriller by D. D. VanDyke

Genre(s): Mystery, Free

When a young girl is kidnapped, street-smart but damaged San Francisco ex-cop California “Cal” Corwin is engaged to find and rescue her before murder raises the stakes. As a straightforward case takes unexpected twists, Cal must quell a growing fear that an anguished mother may never see her child again. With a shadowy crime lord lurking behind every unexpected clue, Cal struggles to tie up loose ends before evil claims its next victim. Loose Ends is the first book in the Cal Corwin P. I. mystery series from D. D. VanDyke. Set against the rich backdrop of the… (more)



The Survivor Chronicles: Book 1, The Upheaval by Erica Stevens

Genre(s): Sci-fi, Horror, Free

The First tremors of the earth were felt at 7:22 EST. Every single person felt the rumbling and experienced the tremors that would forever alter the course of history. Most did not survive. These are the accounts of some of those who did… (more)



Her Hero to Love by Debra Salonen

Genre(s): Romance, Free

During Flynn Bensen’s last wildfire rescue, a woman died despite Flynn’s best efforts to save her. He can’t escape his sense of failure or recurring nightmares, but he can escape to Marietta, Montana, to a new job as the head of Crawford County Search and Rescue. When he meets his scorching hot co-worker on his first day, Flynn feels like he might have just jumped from one wild fire to another that threatens to burn out of control despite his determination to keep a safe distance. Outspoken, direct, and ambitious Kat Robinson isn’t thrilled to have a new boss… (more)



The Sweetest Thing by Lilian Darcy

Genre(s): Romance, Free

Tully Morgan hasn’t been back to Marietta for more than a few brief visits since the night of the 1996 senior prom eighteen years ago, when the chance exposure of a long-held family secret sent her running to her uncle in California in shock. She stood up her date Ren Fletcher that night, and she hasn’t seen him since. Now she’s here for an extended stay, to help take care of her seriously ill mother. It’s an edgy reconciliation, the first time that Tully, Patty and Sugar Morgan have been together since that long ago prom night. Tully has… (more)



The Hardest Ride by Gordon L. Rottman

Genre(s): Western, Free

The Texas-Mexico border, the winter of 1886 — The Great Die Up. A raw rift separates Mexicans and Anglos. A loner cowpoke and a mute Mexican girl fight man and nature to reunite. Out of work cowpoke Bud Eugen comes across Marta, a mute sixteen-year old Mexican girl whose family has been killed by Indians. Bud reluctantly takes her along, even though he’s never had to accommodate another person in his simple life. He’s unable to find anyone willing to take her. In spite of his prejudices, Bud grows to like the spunky girl (and her excellent cooking). Eventually… (more)