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4.18.2014

Goldtown Adventures Book 3 and 4 ~ Review



Canyon of Danger
Goldtown Adventures #3
By Susan K. Marlow

With his dad away Jem Coulter is the man of the family for two weeks.  But just as his dad takes a prisoner to Sacramento trouble comes to Goldtown - starting with a wolf!  But Jem is sure he can handle the wolf until he shoots a stranger, loses his horse and Pa's rifle all on the same night.

What's a fella to do?  Well, for starters convince the deputies to do their job and then track down Cooper and find the riders who are stealing the horses in Goldtown.  And he has to get it done before Pa gets back and before Aunt Rose stops him.  And if he needs to go to Blackwater Canyon to do it, Jem is headed there no matter the danger.

Adventure is Jem's passion and the new former Pony Express Rider who's come to Goldtown has stories that will thrill and enthrall Jem, Nathan, and Ellie.  But just who is Rafe and why did he come to Goldtown and more importantly why is he creeping around on Coulter land?  Just another mystery for Jem to solve.

 River of Peril
Goldtown Adventures #4
By Susan K. Marlow


The Coulter family is making a trip to Sacramento.  And though he should be excited, something about this trip just feels wrong to Jem, starting with Pa's behavior.  And when the stagecoach is held up Jem knew he was right to be worried.

Gold for the Union is at stake and Jem, Nathan, and Ellie are about get caught in the Confederates desire to capture the gold.  And the Knights of the Golden Circle aren't about to be outsmarted by anyone.  And Ellie is just the leverage they need the find where the gold is being stored.

Can Jem find Ellie in time or will he lose his sister forever?  Take a trip into the past at the time of the Gold Rush when steamships and stagecoaches were the way to travel.  History comes alive in this book.

These are fun books that are sure to appeal to the middle grade boy in your life. These would also be a great supplement for homeschoolers studying California, the Gold Rush, the Pony Express and the Civil War. What better way to capture the attention of young men than with enjoyable and educational reading?

I was provided with a copy of both of these by Kregel in exchange for my honest review and participation in this blog tour.



About the Series:
It's 1864. The Gold Rush is about over, but there's still plenty of adventure for 12-year-old Jem Coulter. Whether panning for gold with his sister, Ellie, adjusting to Pa's new job as sheriff of rowdy Goldtown, or getting caught in the belly of an old mine, Jem's life is exciting, with plenty of opportunities to learn to trust God.

Be sure to check-out the Goldtown Adventures website here.

4.16.2014

A Sandy Grave ~ Spotlight and Giveaway


The anticipation of summer vacation can put anyone in a great mood with the
excitement of adventures to be had--especially at the beach. But what is a group of
friends to do when they discover mysterious men poaching whale teeth at the beach?

EXCERPT:

The lifeguards had their arms extended and attempted to move the crowd back. The tallest
lifeguard said, “People, please stay back. The authorities will arrive to examine the whale to
determine the cause of death within the hour. The whale must have died at sea and washed
ashore.”

PURCHASE AT:
GUARDIAN ANGEL PUBLISHING:
AMAZON
BARNES AND NOBLE

Title: A Sandy Grave
Author: Donna M. McDine
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Pages: 24
Language: English
Genre: Tween chapterbook
Format: Paperback, hardcover & eBook



Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable
Mentions in the 78th Competitions, Literary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval Recipient Picture Book Early Reader, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book Fiction, and Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Books ~ The Golden Pathway.

Her stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna’s 2013 releases of Powder Monkey and Hockey Agony and the 2014 release of A Sandy Grave will be joined by an additional book to be published by Guardian Angel Publishing, Dee and Deb, Off They Go. She writes, moms and is a personal assistant from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network, and Family Reading Partnership.

Visit Donna online at www.donnamcdine.com or her blog at www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com

Donna McDine is giving you a chance to win a $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card.
Terms & Conditions:
• By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
• One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card
• This giveaway begins March 3 and ends on April 25, 2014.
• Winner will be contacted via email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

4.15.2014

The Author Training Manual ~ Review

The Author Training Manual
By Nina Amir

With the plethora of books and author-wannabees out there you need to find a way to stand out in the crowd and to get your book noticed.  But writing isn't all you need to know - you need to know how to market your work and create a demand for it. You need to hook your audience starting with the editor and the publisher.

You need to know what your book is about and why it will appeal to others.  After all if you don't know the appeal of your book how is anyone else to know.  The Author Training Manual will help you determine this and more.

Even if you aren't interested in publishing a book The Author Training Manual is an intriguing look at the work involved in bringing a book from spark of inspiration to the reader.  The various roads to self-publishing and traditional publishing are explained and compared. Book lovers will find this an enlightening book and writers will turn to this book as their good-to-guide as they prepare their book for the market.  Even established writers will  be able to take something away with this Manual.

Prepare to write as you never have before, perhaps the next Best Seller is about to be yours with the right planning and marketing.  One never knows...

I was provided a copy of this book in conjunction with this PUYB blog tour in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Nina Amir, the Inspiration to Creation Coach and author of How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual, transforms writers into authors. She inspires people from all walks of life to create books that positively impact readers and to develop careers as authors, achieve their goals, and fulfill their potential. Nina is a sought-after nonfiction developmental editor, proposal consultant, and author, book, blog-to-book, blog, and results coach. Some of her clients have gone on to sell 300,000+ copies of their books and to land deals with major publishing houses. She writes four blogs, has self-published 12 books and is the founder of National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge.

You can find all of Nina’s blogs by visiting her main website, www.ninaamir.com.

Connect and Socialize!


About the Book:

Anyone can publish a book and become an “author,” but if you want to become a successful author with a profitable publishing career, you need a clear, step-by-step guide to help you develop book ideas that sell. In The Author Training Manual, expert editor and book coach Nina Amir reveals the exact process successful authors have used to create business plans and proposals for their books and teaches you how to view your ideas through the eyes of acquisition

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, plan to traditionally publish or self-publish, The Author Training Manual provides you with the tools you need to achieve your goals and become the author publishers and readers want. Inside you’ll find concrete steps, evaluations, sample business plans, in-depth training activities, editor and agent commentaries, and much more – all designed to help you stand out, from the slush pile to the shelf.
Purchase your copy:

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads 
by clicking HERE
Title: The Author Training Manual
Author: Nina Amir
Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books
Pages: 256
Genre: Nonfiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Book Excerpt:
Millions of aspiring authors around the world dream of self-publishing or traditionally publishing a successful book. If you’ve picked up this book, you likely share that dream.

Today, almost any writer can change his or her status from aspiring to published author.

More ways exist to self-publish a book than ever before, which means you have many options should you choose to go that route. You’ll find it harder to change your status from aspiring to published author if you want to be traditionally published, but it’s not impossible. You just need to convince a publishing company to produce your book for you by following the steps presented in this book.

No matter which path to publication you choose, the most difficult task before you involves creating a book that sells. According to Publishers Weekly, the average book sells three thousand copies in its lifetime—not per year. The publishing industry deems a book “success- ful” when it sells large numbers of copies—usually many more than three thousand copies per year. Bestsellers, for example, outsell other books in their categories.

Since you are reading this book, I’m going to assume from this point forward that you want to produce a book that sells an above-average number of copies per year or reaches bestseller status. That means you want to be a successful author by publishing industry standards, so keep the average books sales noted earlier mind as you work through this process.

Many aspiring authors think all they need to produce a successful book is an outstanding idea, a sound story structure, and a well-crafted manuscript. Indeed, these elements sometimes suffice, but more often creating a bestseller or a book with above-average sales involves much more.

In particular, it takes a certain type of attitude. I call this an Author Attitude.

The Cold, Hard Facts of the Publishing Industry

To develop Author Attitude, you must make yourself aware of the cold, hard facts about the publishing industry. These facts are meant to help you understand the difference between simply becoming an author and succeeding as an author.

While the number of books published each year increases—Bowker projected a staggering four thousand books per day were published in 2011—the number of people and publishers who buy them decreases annually. That means the marketplace has become increasingly competitive, making it harder to find readers and publishers. Yet, out of a U.S. population of 317,132,631 people (as of November 2013), 81 percent still want to write a book, according to The New York Times.

Many writers produce manuscripts or books only to discover later that their creations aren’t viable. After spending months or years writing and honing their craft, these authors then suffer great heartbreak and disappointment when they discover traditional publishers don’t want to publish their manuscripts or readers don’t want to purchase their self-published books. Maybe the writing isn’t up to par, or the book isn’t unique or helpful to readers; the author might not have a “platform,” promotion plan, or expertise in the subject area, among many other things. Platform is visibility, authority, and engagement with your book’s target audience that gives you influences in that market.

Today, many readers simply cannot find most books. Bowker reported that in 2011, three million books were published in the United States. Marketing expert and bestselling author Seth Godin predicted that fifteen million ISBN numbers were purchased in 2012. If all of those ISBN numbers were used, it is possible that at least as many books were published that same year. That’s a lot of books for readers to sift through when deciding to make a purchase. It’s easy for yours to get lost among them all.

Not only that, if your book is traditionally published, it stands less than a one percent chance of being stocked in an actual brick-and-mortar bookstore, according to Berrett- Koehler Publishers. Self-published books almost never make it onto bookstore shelves. And if your book is not in brick-and-mortar bookstores, you miss another chance for readers to discover you or your book.

Even authors like Godin, with fourteen bestselling books, including Permission Marketing and Tribes, normally get only one or two copies of their books into each physical bookstore. In fact, Godin conducted a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign for his newest book, The Icarus Deception, primarily to prove to publishers that his books should be promoted inside bookstores. Even his publisher needed proof that booksellers should carry large quantities of his books and display them prominently. If a successful author like Godin has trouble getting books into a bookstore, you can imagine how hard this task proves for the average traditionally published author.

Once you get your book into either physical or online stores, you have to find ways to get it noticed. You have to ensure its cover makes readers feel they must not leave the store without it. The average nonfiction book sells 250 copies per year, reports Publishers Weekly—and nonfiction outsells fiction, so we can assume the average novel sells fewer copies per year. Taking into account the cost of editing and design, that’s hardly enough for any traditional publisher or self-publisher to earn back the cost of producing and promoting a printed book, let alone make much money. (Average yearly e-book sales are about the same as print book sales, possibly just a tad higher. According to novelist Mike Cooper, the average Amazon e- book author earns under $300 per year.)

With these facts in mind, it’s no wonder that along the way some writers discover they aren’t cut out to produce successful books—ones that do sell to lots of readers and to publishers. They might discover this after they’ve self-published or traditionally published their books or maybe while they are trying to publish them (or even while exploring their options). Maybe they are unwilling to learn the necessary tasks, they can’t or don’t want to hire someone to help them do those tasks, or they simply don’t want to compete in the industry or the marketplace. Maybe they have other commitments, like family or a “real” job. So these writers may decide they feel comfortable writing books that sell a below-average number of copies.

Others decide the path to publication is just too long and arduous. They leave their dreams of becoming authors behind and choose different paths. They give up.

Then there are the aspiring writers left wondering how—despite the above facts, their situations, and the often harsh and competitive publishing industry environment—they can change their status from aspiring to successful published author. They are not put off by the obstacles in the facts presented or by what life has thrown their way. Full of optimism, they cling to something else they have heard: “Now is the best time in history to become an author.” They are willing to do whatever it takes to produce a salable book and to publish and promote it until it sells well. They are determined, persistent, and perseverant. In fact, they have the essential characteristic of successful authors: an Author Attitude.

I hope you have it, too.

If you aren’t sure whether you have this attitude, no worries. This manual, and the training process it includes, will teach you how to develop an Author Attitude.

Of course, some writers have this attitude naturally; most, I believe, have worked at developing it. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen come to mind. They received over 140 rejections prior to getting Chicken Soup for the Soul accepted by Health Communications. The book has sold over 200 million copies due to the authors’ commitment to promoting the book in every way possible—including sending free copies to the sequestered jurors serving on the nationally broadcast first O.J. Simpson murder trial. The jurors were then pictured on national television carrying the books! The authors promoted the book in five ways every single day after its release. Now that is Author Attitude.

4.13.2014

Reapers ~ Review

Reapers
By Bryan Davis

Without Reapers the dead are trapped on earth, something is keeping them from moving on to the afterlife.  They wander in a state of confusion looking for those they have lost.

Reapers are a select group of people who have been trained to gather the souls of the dead and the dying, providing transport to the Gateway.  For the last 3 years Phoenix has been a Reaper collecting the souls within his district.  But Phoenix has been smuggling contraband to the poor, hoping to stave off death another day.  But someone has discovered Phoenix's secret - the only question is who knows?

Phoenix has come to the attention of the Gatekeeper and the Resistance and finds himself caught between these factions.  But why a teenage Reaper with just 3 years of service would be of importance has Phoenix baffled.  And of even greater concern anyone who means anything to him suddenly becomes leverage against him.

Discovering the truth about the Gateway and the Gatekeeper is imperative, but whom can he trust?  Several fellow Reapers are willing to aid Phoenix in his mission, but can he trust them?  And how can he determine the truth?

This is an intense and riveting story that just captures your attention, much as a Reaper collects a soul - it pulls you in.  And I really, really want to read book 2 to find out what happens next.  What is the truth about the Gateway?  Have the Reapers been mislead about the true purpose of their soul collection?  Or is the Resistance the true deceiver?  And the Gatekeeper is really creepy, but who is he?

Anyone who has read Bryan Davis's previous books won't be disappointed, unless you want dragons.  Fans of Jill Williamson's Safe Lands series or Krista McGee's Anomaly series will want to pick up this series as well.

I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for my honest review.  

About Reapers:

Reapers is a dystopian tale with a supernatural twist. Taking place in a futuristic, urban setting, this first book in a planned trilogy will appeal to readers of The Hunger Games and similar fast-paced stories for young adults. Along with a blend of real life and imagination, it delivers action, danger, and suspense through the adventures of three teenagers - Phoenix, Singapore, and Shanghai - Reapers who collect the souls of the dying or already dead and transport them to the Gateway where they will travel to their final destination … or so they are told.

Down and Dead in Dixie ~ Review

Down and Dead in Dixie
By Vicki Hinze

Down and Dead in Dixie is the first book in the Down and Dead, Inc. series.  And this is quite the series debut.

Daisy Grant's life has been anything but easy and it just got a whole lot more complicated.  After witnessing a murder Daisy needs to die fast or she will be murdered.  So what's a girl to do?  Well, in Daisy's case botching up your own death is a good place to start.

With the police, FBI, and the mafia all looking for her Daisy needs to disappear fast and protect those she most cares about.  Daisy's not use to dying so she may take a couple times to get it right.  But when you're being hunted you don't get second chances to die right.

Daisy's neighbor Lester is just too much and the more he's in the book the wackier and more endearing he becomes.  Though Daisy has been alone all her life, she surprisingly finds herself not so alone as she thought herself.

If this book is any indication of this series and its direction it should be a very entertaining diversion for a long weekend or a warm summer afternoon.  I really hope to read more Down and Dead stories with Daisy/Lily/Rose and Mark/Matthew.  Read the book and you'll get it.

I was provided  a copy of this book by the author through BookFun.org/TBCN in exchange for honest review.


About the Book:
To live, sometimes ya gotta die! Daisy Grant is in a heap of trouble. She stumbles into a mob turf war and now somebody wants her dead. Daisy may be small-town to the bone, not at all the kind of woman to deal with the Southern Mafia, but she knows how to get creative fast!

Enters the way-too-attractive Mark Jensen… He didn’t mean to rescue anybody, and he certainly didn’t mean to go on the run because of a stubborn, sassy woman. Soon they are up to their ears in so many wacky characters they don’t know who’s on their side. Daisy and Mark decide that to live, sometimes ya gotta die. And sometimes to die right takes . . . practice.

Clean Read: This book is suitable for most readers.

Below the Surface ~ Review

Below the Surface
A Code of Silence Book
By Tim Shoemaker
Fear can be buried...
but that doesn't mean it's dead

This is the last summer before High School and Cooper just wants to hang out with his friends and enjoy it, but something won't let him. Something is Below the Surface of the water and this something is scaring Cooper.  The question is what exactly is down there?

When Cooper, Gordy, and Hiro think they witness a crime, a series of events is set into motion and the past and all its fears begin stalking them.  Cooper, Gordy, and Lunk want to ignore Hiro's concerns but Hiro is usually right.  And she isn't convinced that a murder wasn't committed. Something doesn't add up and she's is determined to discover the truth even if it means going out on her own.  

Someone is determined to keep them from discovering the truth, even if it means silencing them forever.  And he does mean forever...

Below the Surface is the third book in the Code of Silence trilogy.  You don't have to read the first two books to enjoy this book, but you will know about past experiences that are mentioned in this book.  And these past experiences have a direct bearing on the fears Cooper, Gordy, Lunk and Hiro are burying.  This summer will prove just how strong their bonds of friendship are.

I think part of the reason the kids got into trouble is because they really needed more adult supervision/interaction. They got into the biggest messes when there were no adults around and the fact that they didn't tell their parents the whole truth of what was going on was the issue.  The statement about silence being golden is so not true when there are problems.  And underlying fears were something that they needed to talk about, as was evidenced when Cooper's dad was with the boys.

I really enjoyed this book and the intensity and excitement level really held my attention.  I did not want to put it down until the very end.  And I have to say I was a little disappointed to learn that this is the last book
(well a lot disappointed if you must know).  These books should appeal to middle grade readers and even young adults who enjoy realistic heart-pounding fiction. 

I was provided a copy of this book through the BookLook blogger program in exchange for my honest review.


Book Description

In the third book in the Code of Silence series, a coming-of-age story that both boys and girls will enjoy, from prolific author and speaker Tim Shoemaker.
Buried fears don’t stay buried for long. Something is wrong with Cooper. He doesn’t understand it, and he won’t admit it, but after surviving the trauma of abduction, Cooper is plagued by a deep fear he can’t control. A vacation aboard the restored Getaway with his friends is just what he needs. No drama, no mysteries, just fun, relaxation, and a few well-planned pranks. But trouble follows this crew, and the idea of a carefree vacation soon disappears along with a missing woman. The police think she drowned, but Hiro has her own suspicions and starts investigating, while Cooper keeps busy and hides behind his practical jokes. But fear has a way of rising. A prank gone wrong, a dark water dive, and the four friends find more than they bargained for - just below the surface.

4.12.2014

What Follows After ~ Review

What Follows After
By Dan Walsh

When Colt Harrison decides he's had enough - he didn't realize just how painful it would be.  His parents have been living a lie, forcing Colt and his younger brother Timmy to live it with them.  But Colt's plan to force the truth to come out go wrong and Timmy along with the rest of the family may pay the price.

But as the Harrison's world crumbles around them, an even greater threat is looming over the entire country and even the world as the United States and Russia threaten World War III.  As the nation hangs on every word spoken by President Kennedy, one family waits to hear anything about their missing 6 year old son.  But Timmy has gotten lost in a world on the brink of war - until a church full of hard working people decides to be on the look-out for Timmy and his abductor.

The crisis at home brings to light what is wrong within the Harrison family, but the question is is it too late to fix what is and has been broken?  What is sad is this is so often the case within families - something is wrong and yet our pride refuses to admit the truth.  We hide what is wrong instead of confronting it and fixing it.  That is what I like about Dan Walsh's books he portrays real life and real life can be messy.  And What Follows After is no exception, but with as is the case with all of Dan's books there is hope.  And the hope Dan offers is something that we can all put to use in our own lives and families.

Having heard people over the years talk about the Cuban Missile this is the first book I've ever read that is set during this period.  So this was also an enlightening book to read as it brought the realities of this period of unrest and fear to light in a way that brought it home, unlike most history text books.  So even though this book is being marketed as contemporary fiction, I think it could easily fall into the historical subcategory as well.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher Revell in exchange for my honest review.

In 1962, life was simple, the world made sense, and all families were happy.
And when they weren't, everyone knew you were supposed to pretend.

For the past year, Scott and Gina Harrison have been living a lie. While they show up at family get-togethers in the same car, they've actually been separated for over a year. To keep up the charade, they've even instructed their sons, Colt and Timmy, to lie--to their grandparents, their teachers, and their friends.

Colt, for one, has had enough, so he hatches a plan. He and his little brother will run away from their Florida home, head for their aunt's house in Georgia, and refuse to come home until their parents get back together. But when things go terribly, terribly wrong, Scott and Gina must come to grips with years of neglect and mistrust in order to recover their beloved sons, their love for one another, and their marriage.

In this emotional story, bestselling author Dan Walsh takes you on a journey to rediscover the things that matter most in life--love, truth, and family. With profound insight into the heart of a hurting child, he reminds us that a time will come to look back on hard times and smile, because we'll know that what follows after . . . is not what we expected at all.

"Dan is an artist and his canvas is the novel, where he uses different colors and hues of words to create a masterpiece. What Follows After is a story that will surely touch your heart and soul."--John M. WillsNew York Journal of Books
Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of several books, including The Unfinished GiftThe Discovery, and The Reunion, as well as The Dance and The Promise with Gary Smalley. He has won three Carol awards, and three of his novels were finalists for RT Book Reviews Inspirational Book of the Year (2011-2013). Dan lives with his wife in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel. Visit www.danwalshbooks.com for more.