Showing posts with label book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book. Show all posts

Sunday, November 3, 2019

3 More Tips from a Newbie Self-Publisher

3 Additional Newbie Self-Publisher Tips
From a Fellow Newbie's Experience
In the previous few articles, I reviewed my newbie experiences with self-publishing. Since I've published my third book, and still have some hair left, there's more to share.

Again, I'm not a publishing guru, I'm just sharing tips as I go through the process.

If you've published paperbacks, you understand that your book can then be uploaded in digital format as an eBook.

I started in reverse. My first book was an eBook. After publishing an eBook, I learned to publish paperbacks.

However, once I mastered (yeah right) the ability to publish a paperback, I changed the order I publish books in:

  •  My books are written for Paperback publishing first
  •  Then that same book is uploaded as an eBook

I prefer doing paperback books first. The physical copy is usually more detailed and takes a bit more care in its design.

When doing an eBook, you upload your completed book document to KindleCreate. Again, read this article for a little bit about KindleCreate and eBook preparation.

Three Tips to Pass Along: 

1. Kindle Create - What I learned the Hard Way with the Third Book

If your manuscript/book document has anything in List Format, as an example, 1, 2, 3, etc., when you upload it to KindleCreate, KindleCreate doesn't let you modify Lists. You have to have it exactly as you want it before uploading, or don't use a list format. 

My book had 160 items in List Format. To get around the lists for the eBook version, I typed the numbers in brackets and put them above the typed item. I didn't use the auto-format of 1.2.3. in the toolbar. However, beware; even if you type 1. versus using the word processing numbering format in the toolbar, you still won't be able to modify that list in KindleCreate.

Oh, and the same goes for Tables in KindleCreate: They can't be modified once uploaded to KindleCreate.

Maybe KindleCreate will change these restrictions down the road?

2. Get Your Amazon Author Page Completed

To get started, read the general instructions on the Amazon help page here. It's easy to understand.

I decided to wait until I had three books completed before doing my Author page. However, there's no need to wait. If you only have one book, go for it.

The Author page has five key elements:

  •  Upload your photo, or any photo(s) you prefer for the page
  •  Add your books to the page (easy, automatic process)|
  •  Write a Bio on yourself - Take some time to do this (see the tip below)
  •  Upload any videos you have that relate to you or your books
  •  Add an RSS feed from your blog, or Pinterest or another place that connects to your Business


Regarding the Amazon Bio, don't miss this article, it's filled with excellent tips. It provides guidance on how your Bio should sound, and what you should say. You can follow me on my newly created author page If you prefer a video tutorial on how to complete an Author Page, this one is helpful:




3. The Size of Your Book as it Relates to the Book's Spine

I haven't used a professional graphic artist yet to create covers. For now, Amazon's Cover Creator is still my go-to tool. What I learned with this third book is that size matters. If you would like your book to have written details on the Spine, you need to ensure it's approximately 100 pages. This last book was less, about 65 pages, and thus couldn't have the title on the Spine. 

To avoid this, I'll be keeping most of my books to at least 100 pages. You don't have to if you don't want to, it's up to you.

Here are my article tips to date:


Here's my completed third book, and yep, working on the fourth.

Note: I'm an Amazon Associate
But my Associate ID is not in the above Link





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Confessions of a Newbie Self Publisher

Confessions of a Newbie Self Publisher


To help you dreamers out, I'm writing this review about my experience of self-publishing my first paperback book through Amazon.

First off, I'm absolutely a newbie at this; the piles of pulled-out hair beside my desk rests as evidence. 

I'm going to go point-by-point with some of the major issues I faced during the learning process.

Again, this article isn't meant to come across as all-knowing, because I'm not all-knowing on this subject!

However, I did spend hours, and I do mean hours researching and learning and doing and swearing just to get that first paperback book up on Amazon. So from that perspective, I know a little bit more than I did a month ago.

What was most daunting was learning the technical aspects of getting that book up on Amazon.

You writers out there would probably agree that writing the book is the easy part! A few weeks back, I posted an article on getting a Kindle eBook up and running. You can read about that swearing event here. Again, I'm not a guru!! Just sharing my newbie nightmares.

So here we go, point by point on some of the things I learned about self-publishing a paperback book through Amazon:

1. You Need the Paperback Book Templates from Amazon

First, if you haven't already, sign up for KDP Self-Publishing.

Before you get started, go to the Amazon self-publishing help area to get those templates.

Download them, unzip them, then decide on the size you want your book to be. Choose the Template that reflects the size you want. You need the Template because it has all the borders and guidelines you have to follow when writing. While you're in that help area, watch their videos and read all their tips. Good stuff there.

Note: Standard size seems to be 6X9 - For my poetry book, I went with 7X10. There are a lot of sizes to choose from.

2. What Word Processing Program Should You Use to Write Your Book?

There's a loaded question. I must have landed on fifty different answers during those google searches from hell.

I don't have the full version of Microsoft Word on my computer, and I wasn't about to frigging buy it.

So I researched alternatives to Word. I found the common ones people use; one is a free download called OpenOffice.org, and the other freebie word processing download I found is LibreOffice.

I've used OpenOffice in business before but based on some of the comments I read from the LibreOffice users, I thought, what the heck, let's try that one.

So to answer the question, you can use Word, OpenOffice, or LibreOffice - maybe there's more? I dunno.

3. What About Writing and Preparing Your Book in Google Documents

That's the first thing I did before even starting the 'technical aspects of what to do after it's typed." I typed the book in Google Docs. At least I had it there for safekeeping until I knew what the heck to do next!

From what I've learned so far, you can type your book directly into your word processing program using the Template from Amazon KDP, of course! Can you skip the google docs part? Well, I still plan to write my books in google docs and then copy and paste them into the word processing program with the book Template.

4. LibreOffice - Using the Amazon Paperback Templates

I have no idea whether you can upload the Amazon paperback templates into Microsoft Word or OpenOffice. However, I'm going out on a limb and saying, yah, of course, you can.

With LibreOffice, the first thing I did was upload the Paperback Template I needed for the size of the book I wanted to do. At that point, it was a matter of learning the LibreOffice program. If you're familiar with word processing programs, you'll probably be able to muddle through. When in doubt, google those questions, that's what I did in spades.

Since my book was already written in Google Docs, I simply copy and pasted it section by section into the template.

LibreOffice: What I Like About it

When you open the program, your books are there, individually listed as nice sizeable Icons. It was fairly easy to learn, but I'm not a pro at it by any stretch of the imagination (yet).

LibreOffice: What I Don't Like About it

Holy Hannah, who designed the Footer Page Count area - YUK! Very difficult to use. Yes, my mouth needed to be washed out with soap a few times. Some of the comments I made (whilst hubby was laughing) "who designed this part of the program! Are they so self-absorbed with their intelligence that they had to make it complicated?."

Other word processing programs have easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy Footer Page Counts, but not LibreOffice! Yes, the table of contents auto-generates and the pages count properly, but it's the number system in the Footer and where the counts start that cause you to drink lots of wine!

Will I use LibreOffice again for my next book? Yep, I learned so much; I don't want to switch now. But I don't have that page count thing in the Footer sorted out yet! And yes, I watched a lot of YouTube videos on it - still not clear.

5. Prettying Up that Book as You're Putting it in the Template

I decided on font styles, headings, and font sizes. From what I read, consistency was important. However, my book is a Poetry Book, so it's different than a novel. A novel, I would imagine, is more straight forward.

I did quite a bit of research on what the best fonts are to use in books, particularly poetry books. After my research, I ended up choosing the Garamond font. I used that font throughout the whole book. I didn't choose it because it was the best for poetry. I preferred the look of it for easy reading on the page.

My paperback poetry book has chapters and sub-chapters, and also a few graphics throughout. So yah, more convoluted to lay it out.

6. How Should the Sections of Your Book Flow and in What Order?

I googled this over and over. You guessed it, different answers from different people. Being that I wrote a Poetry Book, I didn't follow the traditional page designations that a novel would. Here's how I laid out my poetry book:
  •  First Page inside the Book - Title Only

  •  Second Page inside the Book - Title, Sub Title, Author

  •  Third Page inside the Book - Copyright Page (I googled some content and modified it to suit my book). On the copyright page, you'll include your ISBN number - more about that below.

  •  Fourth Page - The Dedication

  •  Fifth Page - A Summary of the Books Contents (that's optional)

  •  Sixth Page - Acknowledgments

  •  Seventh to Eleventh Page - Auto-Generated Table of Contents (my table of contents ended up being 4 pages)

  •  Twelfth Page - A Chapter Page that summarizes the poetry content for Chapter One

  •  Thirteenth Page to page 136 - The content of the book with all chapters in there (I have six chapters)

  •  At the End: About the Author, with sections on 'Why I Decided to Write a Book of Poems' and 'What's Different About This Book of Poems'

  • My Personal Favorite poems are also listed at the end

  • "Thanks for Reading" was next. The gurus say to ask for a review - um, no I didn't do that

  • Closing Message to My Kids

7. Book is Done, Sitting in Your Word Processing Program - What the Heck is Next?

Logging into KDP Publishing is next. Start your engines. 

Select the type of book you're uploading (Kindle eBook or Paperback). 

Go through each of the areas to fill in the information they ask for (this is before any uploads). Honestly, I just watched a lot of tutorials and tips on how to fill everything in. 

Uploading Your Book:

If you're confident that your book is the way you want it, you can upload it. 

However, to upload your book it has to be in a format that's conducive to Amazon's format. LibreOffice extensions are not. After searching out how to do this, I discovered that you can upload the book to amazon in PDF format. (There are other acceptable formats as well). 

In LibreOffice, to get a pdf extension on your file, you simply go to - FILE - EXPORT AS - and CHOOSE PDF. Save it to your computer. Bingo, you're ready for uploading.

Don't worry if you upload the book and you need to change it for some reason - you can overwrite that upload easily if you're not live. Just don't approve it until you're sure. I ended up re-uploading mine a few times as I discovered some errors. I'm sure there are more I missed, being my first time and all.

Note: The Gurus strongly stress hiring a professional editor to check your book for errors. Yah, I didn't do that either. Are they right about that? YES. It's the smart thing to do. Hire a professional. But again, this is Newbie territory I'm in so of course, I'm not listening. Lol. Down the road, yes, that's something I will consider.

8. WAIT! You Need a Book Cover! OMG

Ok. The gurus say, 'get your cover professionally done.' They're right, did I do that, no. Why? Because it was my first book of poems and, well, I had to be the opposite. Plus, I wasn't ready to spend money on that until I felt more confident about what I was doing.

If you're a graphics guru, by using Amazon's KDP Cover Page Templates (you can download those - google search), you can make your own personally designed professional cover. 

There's no way on God's green earth I could possibly do this in a timely fashion. Yes, I tried. More booze. However, I am thinking of hiring a graphics professional down the road for other books I plan to write. 

Oh, I did create my own cover for the eBook version using the online program, Adobe Spark. But that's not useful for actual paperback books that need high-quality digital print.

Inside KDP, there's a Cover Creator Section.

The gurus say, don't use this! So I did the opposite, and for this book, I used it. It's better to hire someone, but I'm not there yet. Play with Cover Creator; you're not obligated to any design until you finally hit save. Even then, you can still change it if you want. You need a high-quality photo of yourself if you're putting it on the back of your book (at least 300 DPI - that was challenging!).

9. ISBN Numbers

Both eBooks and Paperbacks need them. They're different for each book, and every book. Yes, you can ask Amazon to generate one for you. 

The downside to having Amazon generate one for you is that you can only use that particular book with that particular ISBN number for Amazon. In other words, if you're going to offer your book elsewhere, you would have to get your own ISBN number for those.

So you're wondering, how do I get ISBN Numbers? Right?

Canadian ISBN Numbers:

If you're in Canada, you can go here, a Government of Canada page, and register to have the ability to generate ISBN numbers. It could take a few weeks before you're approved. I thought, what the heck, so I registered. 

I used my own self-generated Canadian ISBN number for my eBook Version. Easy. 

However, what I discovered with the Paperback Version is that along with the ISBN Number, the book needs a Digital Code thingy on the back, and I had no idea how to get one of those through my Canadian ISBN account. I'll learn later. 

So for the Paperback Version, I used Amazon's auto-generating ISBN number. Easy. Just be sure that when you get that number from your KDP Account, you put it inside your book on the Copyright page. Best to do that before you actually upload the book.

United States ISBN Numbers:

Since I'm Canadian, I didn't research this very much. However, from what I read, it seems Americans have to pay for those? Don't quote me on that though; I'm not sure. But, again, you can have Amazon auto-generate the numbers for you.

There's more, but that's enough for today.

In closing, my guiding principle while doing this was that famous quote, "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." My goal was to get one done.

I'm already onto my next book (It's not poetry, it's not a novel, oh what could it be?) Just a tad addicting.

I hope this helps other newbies, because wow. :)

Here's what my newbie-book looks like - front and back covers.

Available on Amazon (Note: I'm an Amazon Associate, however
the link under this particular photo does not contain my AssociateID)




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Kristin Hannah’s Home Front Book Review

HOME FRONT is an excellent fictional story by Kristin Hannah. I previously reviewed and loved Hannah’s The Nightingale, which sent me looking for more titles by this author.

It is a relationship story and a war story. It features a husband and wife who seem to be perfectly situated with a wonderful marriage, great careers and lovely children. However, as happens, they have drifted apart and are headed for disaster and when she is sent overseas to Iraq and the rift is almost too much for this family to bear.

This novel presents an interesting role reversal with the mother a helicopter pilot and the man trying to maintain order at home. What happens is dark and dreadful and presents a mountain for this family to surpass.

Here is the official video book trailer. In this trailer, I think the book is represented in a very light and fluffy manner especially given that divorce and military service are not easy things to deal with.



I believe that this second video, in which Hannah Kristin discusses the book, does a better job of representing the issues faced by the family in Home Front and by families in the same situation.



Hannah calls the book “the best, most emotional book she has ever written” and goes on to say that it is about “love, honor, duty, commitment, sacrifice.” I agree that it was an emotional book. It is RECOMMENDED by me and yes, you will cry. For what it is worth, I preferred the book The Nightingale.

Have you read either book? What did you think?

If you are interested, you can see all of Kristin Hannah’s books including Home Front on Amazon here.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Home Front from Amazon.
See all of Hannah's books on Amazon.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Art of Racing in the Rain Book Review

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein was the latest book for my book club. As usual in the weeks leading up to my book club's meeting, my husband could be heard uttering his usual reminder, "Have you finished the book?" This time, however, he was particularly interested in the book because the main character is a dog named Enzo Ferrari. Yes, Ferrari as in the car.

The story is told from Enzo's perspective. The idea of reading a book from the point of view of a dog might seem weird but it worked. It doesn't actually seem like a dog talking although the narration definitely looks at the world from the Enzo's point of view.

Enzo believes in reincarnation and really wants to be reincarnated as a human being so that he can voice his views (and so that he can have thumbs.) He understands everything that people say and wants to add his thoughts to the conversation.

Did I say that the story is about a race car driver, too? Enzo's master is a driver and Enzo is therefore often immersed in the world of race car driving. Don't let that put you off though. If you are not into race car driving, you will still enjoy this book. Race car driving is simply the world that the characters in this book live in though if you are like me, you might also learn a bit about race car driving. There is never anything wrong with learning about another world.

Enzo is not like other dogs. He is a philosopher and is almost human in a number of ways. He is self-educated with the help of his television and his master, Danny Swift. In the story, Enzo reflects back on his life, the life of the Swift family, on what he has learned about being human and, as the book says, "how life, like racing, is about so much more than simply going fast."

I expected my book club to analyze this book. However, they did not. Instead, they pretty much unanimously agreed that it was a pleasant book and a nice read. Some questioned a few life-changing decisions on the part of the main characters and some including myself particularly enjoyed the comical moments in the book.

So is it recommended? Yes. The Art of Racing in the Rain was a New York Times best seller for many weeks. It is a good story. It is lighthearted though sometimes sad and there are definitely some things between the covers to think about. I think the book is perfect for dog lovers and enjoyable for the rest of us, too.

By the way, the image that I think most reflects what Enzo looks like is at the top of the page. That image just seems to capture Enzo's spirit. You don't have to agree with me on that point but you can see all of the artwork available on the covers of The Art of Racing in the Rain on Amazon by clicking right here. Of course, you can also order yourself a copy of the book at that location, too.

This book is set to become a movie though originally Universal Studios picked up the rights and then did not follow through. However, The Hollywood Reporter says that Walt Disney Studios has picked up the rights so now all we have to do is wait and see what Disney puts together for us. Disney has made a lot of successful dog movies; let's hope they do this one properly.

Have you read The Art of Racing in the Rain? Would you recommend it? What else have you read lately?

See you at the bookstore!

Brenda
Treasures by Brenda

Quick Link:

Order your copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain on Amazon here.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls Book Review

I don't ordinarily open a book review with a negative thought but that is how I felt when I began reading Lauren Graham's 2016 autobiography, Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between.) I was disappointed. The book was not what I expected.

I should have known by ALL THOSE WORDS on the cover.

What did I expect? Well, an ordinary autobiographical book about Lauren Graham's life to date.

What did I get? A book that almost seemed to move as quickly as the dialogue on the Gilmore Girls.

According to Graham, The Gilmore Girls series featured some of the longest scripts in television history. While another television show script might have 50 pages, the Gilmore Girls were known to pack 80 pages of dialogue into their one hour less commercial breaks time slot. Yes, that means they talked almost non-stop. Verbal diarrhea comes to mind. Graham has actually been asked if she can talk normally.

It turned out that I also had a book in my hands that was not overly serious with paragraphs that were frequently disrupted by a witty comment from the author, which I could have done with out. Lauren Graham is a brilliant comedic actor but, at least at first, I would have preferred a more serious approach. I agree with Entertainment Weekly when they said that as an author Graham is "much better in the honest, earnest passages where she’s not trying to entertain us. We like her already!

As Katherine on Women's Post said, it takes a while to get used to Graham's style, which is "conversational and as scattered as a Gilmore Girl." If you are a fan, you will know what that means. If not, well...carry on. Graham befriends you as she jumps from a thought to some song lyrics to a discussion on the telephone. "It’s through this writing style the readers are truly able to get to know Graham." Perhaps that is true.

Of course, it is helpful and the book makes more sense once you know that the book is meant to be a series of essays.

So...did I like the book?


I did.

Is it recommended?


Yes, it is particularly if you are a fan of the Gilmore Girls and/or Lauren Graham and you approach the book in a less than serious manner. The book deals with Graham's childhood and adulthood through to the remake of the Gilmore Girls and it is interesting.  It is just not particularly serious. The back cover says that this book contains details about Graham's, "awkward growing up years, confusing dating years, fulfilling working years; and what it was like to be asked to play one of my characters again." I think that gives you a sense that this book treats Graham's life in a light manner.

I do like Lauren Graham and I will be checking out her novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe, which is about a young actress trying to make it in New York, a subject about which she definitely has firsthand knowledge. I would also like to revisit the Gilmore Girls series and watch the new movies though with seven seasons and four movies that is a whole lot of viewing! Meanwhile, you can find Talking As Fast as I can and Lauren Graham's other works on Amazon by clicking right here.

If you have read Talking as Fast as Fast as I Can, be sure to let us know what you thought.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of Talking As Fast As I Can here on Amazon. It's available in hardcover, paperback and ebook formats.

Read about Graham's co-star Alexis Bledel in my Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie review.

If you are a big Gilmore Girls fan, you might like to follow the Gilmore Girls News.







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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale Book Review

A friend told me that Kristin Hannah’s novel The Nightingale was an excellent book and it was. Though I know this book is a work of fiction, it does deal with real situations that happened during the time period that France was occupied by Germany in World War II.

I know things that happen in this book happened to real people in France. I have always read books set in this time period. However, what happened in that war is still hard to believe. Truly unbelievable. Despite knowing that people were treated in this manner, I still managed to come away in disbelief saying to my husband things like, "How could anyone treat people the way they did?" and "How did the French people manage to survive in those conditions?" We are not talking about one or two crazy people here, right? We are talking about an 'army' of people mistreating people.

Anyway, in my opinion, Kristin Hannah has crafted a wrenching story with a family and with characters that you will come to love. Yes, you are likely going to shed some tears. Yes, you will be upset by the violence and the cruelty and the sexual situations in this book though I must say that it is far from the worst book that I have read in those matters though perhaps more disturbing because it feels so real.

The Nightingale deals with the contributions made to World War II by women. Unfortunately, those important contributions like the women depicted in this book who joined the French Resistance or who managed despite incredible odds to feed their families, have not been as widely acknowledged or recognised as those of men.

In particular, this book deals with two quite different sisters: One who wants to keep her family safe; the other who is not willing to accept the things that are happening to them. It is a story of courage and survival parts of which were inspired by real women like 19-year old Belgian, Andrée De Jongh, who took considerable risks helping people escape from France.

Here is the book trailer. I do not know if it is official or not but it does give a good idea of the things that happen in this story:



This book is well done and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me and by many others. If you love a book that shares a great story about women’s lives and that is historically based you will enjoy The Nightingale. It is riveting. You will not even notice that it the hardcover book is 440 pages or that the paperback is 600, particularly if you read it as an ebook.

By way of further recommendation, you might take the fact that, according to The New York Times in 2016, this book had sold more than two million copies. This book has drawn both men and women as well as young and old readers. As one who has always been captivated by World War II novels it comes as no surprise to me when the Times stated that people are drawn to them. However, I was interested to learn that this book has drawn a younger generation of readers who perhaps relate to this novel because of how young people were drawn to the French Resistance.

If you are interested in reading The Nightingale, you can find it in all formats including eBook, audiobook and traditional paper book, on Amazon by clicking right here.  I’ve just noticed on the cover that this movie is to become a major motion picture. There is not much information available as I write this other than a rumoured movie release date of 2017, which means that once you have read the book you have a movie to look forward to.

If you like historical fiction, you might also enjoy these reviews on Review This:

Secret Healer by Ellin Carsta, which is set in 14th Century Germany.

The movie The Bridge of Spies, which is set in the cold war.

The One Man by Andrew Gross, which is set in Poland in 1944.

See you
At the book store!
Brenda

Quick Link:

Order your copy of Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale from Amazon.






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes Book Review

Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes Book ReviewIt’s been literally decades since I read a Stephen King novel. I believe that the last one that I read was Misery in 1987, before my grown up children were born. That book was simply too horrible for me. Later, for whatever reason, I watched or tried to watch the movie version of that story and that cinched the deal for me. I have not read a Stephen King book since then and not seen many of his movies either.

That is, until the 2014 book Mr. Mercedes was chosen this year as one of the reads for our book club. Now I am wondering what I have missed in all of the books since 1987 as I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Mercedes. It was not too horror-ible at all though horrible things do happen in the book. However, it is a fast paced crime or detective story rather than a horror story. It is riveting; another book that I could not put down. A race-against-time thriller.

It is very well written with well-developed characters that include a retired police detective and a psychopath.

The police detective is not enjoying his retirement and is pulled back into one of his last, unsolved cases, that of the Mercedes killer.

The psychopath is, as The Globe and Mail says, “one of King’s great creations, twisted and deranged, but cringingly human.” On the outside, he is ordinary and could be one of your neighbours. However, on the inside he has many issues.

What results when the detective and the psychopath collide is a riveting story with two men ‘fighting’ to the end.

Mr. Mercedes is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me and by the Globe and Mail, too, LOL.

It is exciting that I just discovered that Mr. Mercedes is a trilogy so I (we) have two more books to read in the series, including Finders Keepers and End of Watch. I only hope that they live up to Mr. Mercedes.

There is also an AT&T Original mini series that has just started as I write this in August, 2017. I watched the trailer just now on Youtube and cannot decide if I will be watching the program or not. I have prematurely made up my mind that it cannot live up to the excellent book but I will be waiting to see what people think of the mini-series. As always, I recommend reading the book first.

You can learn more about Mr. Mercedes or order your copy of the book from Amazon by clicking here.

According to Wikipedia, Mr. Mercedes is King’s 62nd novel, though only 44 feature his name. He says that this book is based on a real incident in which a woman drove her car into a McDonald’s restaurant.

Will you be reading Mr. Mercedes?

See you at
the book store!
Brenda

Quick Link:

Buy your copy of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes from Amazon.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hallmark's A Century of Caring Book Review



Hallmark's History: Celebrate A Hundred Years With Hallmark


Hallmark: A Century of Caring by Patrick Regan is truly a magnificent book about a company which was shaped by and which helped shape America. It covers everything from the very beginnings of the company with a young man and some picture postcards in a box to the third generation, which runs this company today. This ample-sized coffee table-style book features plenty of interesting information, is packed with amazing photographs and features a bonus DVD with a full length Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, The Magic of Ordinary Days.


Any fan or collector of Hallmark would thoroughly enjoy this beautiful book as would those with a simple curiosity of how Hallmark came to be the company that it is today. On this page, you will find more information about the book and a quick video peek into Hallmark's 100 year history.




The Hallmark family were really the Halls and a hundred years ago, they lived in poverty and tried to eek out a living in a small town in Nebraska. Move forward a hundred years and you find the family has created a once truly unique company. The book, Hallmark: A Century of Caring, tells the story of this American institution and how it came to life because of dedication to hard work, good values and caring for employees and customers.

It features a lovely introduction from poet Maya Angelou and takes you on a trip from Norfolk, Nebraska to Kansas City, Missouri, the town in which Hallmark finally settled. Learn about the company in good times and in bad, with the bad times including both war and depression through which the company continued to grow.

A hundred years after its inception, the company looks forward to a different future. This book celebrates what is an "iconic American company."


Founder


This short video is an interesting one minute of Hallmark history with the company's founder, J.C. Hall.






Contents


Hallmark: A Century of Caring marked Hallmark's 100 years and shares the history of the company including the Hall family and its employees and how they created a brand with world-wide renown. It is broken down into ten sections or chapters, each of which tells how Hallmark was a reflection on what was happening in America at certain time periods, how those events helped Hallmark become what it has become and the effect that Hallmark had on the country. It is a large hardcover book and it is beautiful. The chapters include:

Starting From Scratch (1891-1909)
That Kansas City Spirit (1910-1915)
Building Business and Breaking Ground (1915-1932)
Hanging Tough in Hard Times (1933-1951)
The Power of Association
Coming of Age (1951-1966)
The Hallmark Hall of Fame
The Modernist (1966-1980)
Traditions, Transitions, Expansion and Explorations (1981-2002)
A Second Century, A Third Generation (2002 and Beyond)


Review


Dr. Maya Angelou said, "I have read few biographies that have moved me as much as the Hall family saga."

It comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by buyers and also by me.  There's nothing to object to in this book, in terms of sex and violence anyway, and it is a peek into an iconic American company.

It is my understanding that this book was initially given as a gift to the employees of Hallmark on the company's 100th birthday but that some of these books were also made available through Hallmark Gold Crown stores and Andrews McMeel Publishing. Fortunately for Hallmark fans and collectors, it is now available here from Amazon, too.


The Magic Of Ordinary Days


The Magic of Ordinary Days caught me off guard. That is, I found it in the back of this book and put it in the DVD player when I was expecting to putter around and get a few other jobs done. Unfortunately, that was not the case as I was quickly absorbed into this beautiful story of a man who takes in a woman from a faraway town in order to have a wife and provide a stable home for both the woman and her unborn child.

When I looked at the Amazon customer reviews, I discovered that I was not the only one who enjoyed this movie. If you enjoy Hallmark movies, you will, no doubt, enjoy this one and, if you buy the book Hallmark: A Century of Caring, you receive a free copy of this excellent movie, too.


You can order your copy of Hallmark's A Century of Caring by clicking right here.

How has Hallmark touched your life?


See you at the bookstore!
Brenda




More Hallmark Reading


Christmas in Conway (2013) 
Remember Sunday (2013)


Author's Note: Originally published elsewhere in 2010.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ken Follett’s The Century Trilogy Books Reviewed

Ken Follett’s The Century Trilogy Books Reviewed
I am thoroughly enjoying Ken Follett’s the Century Trilogy and totally unable to put it down.

The three books are based on what happened in world history between the years of 1911 and 2008. Those story lines include the Russian Revolution, the suffrage movement, the rise of Nazi Germany, World War II, the atomic age, the Cold War, civil rights, assassinations, mass political movements, Vietnam, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, presidential impeachment, revolution, rock and roll and of course both good and bad from all of those time periods.

To tell this story, Follett skillfully weaved together generations of five families from America, Russia, Germany, England and Wales.

I picked up the first book, FALL OF GIANTS, as a good long read for our recent Panama Canal cruise and I have been steadily working my way through the series for a couple of months. I am often pulled away kicking and screaming from books in order to turn my attention to an “assigned” book club book. Leaving the second book, WINTER OF THE WORLD, for a grumpy old geezer in A MAN CALLED OVE was downright difficult although worthwhile in the end.

Currently, I have had to put the third book, EDGE OF ETERNITY, down to read LEAN IN, a book about women, work, and the will to lead, which is not compulsive reading for me and definitely not middle-of-the-night when-you-cannot-sleep reading.

Ken Follett FALL OF GIANTS Century Trilogy 1

Ken Follett Winter of the World Century Trilogy 2

Ken Follett Edge of Eternity Century Trilogy 3

Anyway, in case you cannot tell from my enthusiasm, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Ken Follett’s Century trilogy. I caution that as a world history book it definitely has violence and it also has sexual content. However, I believe that most of the violence and some of the sexual content was required to tell this realistic story.

The three-book series contains 2,991 pages and each book is encyclopedic in length so for ease of reading I highly recommend purchasing it as an eBook or if not an eBook, then as a paperback book. We own the hardcover version and each I just weighed them and discovered that each one weighs an average of just over 3 pounds. They are heavy. Ordinarily, I prefer to read physical books because I spend much of my working life using a computer but in this case because of the sheer weight of these books I really, truly preferred to read them on my cellphone.

You can find the Century Trilogy in hardcover, paperback and electronic versions on Amazon by clicking right here. I looked for and with some difficulty eventually found a boxed set both in paperback and hardcover editions. You can find the gift sets here. I believe that this series would make an absolutely brilliant gift idea for anyone male or female who likes a good historical novel. Of course, gifting the first volume alone would be a good idea, too.

Is there a movie? No, there is not and Follett himself says in this Washington Post interview, that if they were to make a mini-series that it would be the longest mini-series ever made, that it would be very expensive to make at least partly because he would not allow it to be done cheaply and that a mini-series was therefore, not likely to happen.

Have you read Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy? Are there any other Follett books that you have read, thoroughly loved and would recommend to us?

See you at the bookstore!

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Link:

Buy Ken Follett's Century Trilogy books on Amazon.












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Monday, August 15, 2016

Two Mid-Atlantic Women Writers

Photo by Dawn Rae
There are two women authors that I read on a regular basis. These two women live and write the Mid-Atlantic life. While I have been an avid reader since the time I learned to read, I had not read either of these authors until I moved to the east coast a decade or so ago. I want to share what I know about these two talented women so you will be able to decide if they are your cup of tea too. This is my review of Tawni O'Dell and Nora Roberts.

I read a wide variety of styles and genres. I read every day and the main reason I love to read is for the escape. I want a story that takes me away to the theater in my mind. A scene that the author creates so vividly that I can imagine it with ease. As though I am also in that kitchen, walking near that river, or running from that bad guy. I need characters real enough to feel familiar - as though they are neighbors or family.  As though I am privy to their secrets because I am a part of their lives. I want to suddenly laugh, cry, or yell. Both of these authors take me away to those other worlds and to that place of escape.


Author Tawni O'Dell - Pennsylvania


If I remember correctly, I discovered Back Roads by Tawni O'Dell during one of my wanderings through a local stick and mortar book store some years ago. I read the book and related to it so much that I had to read everything she has published since.

Ms. O'Dell describes herself  -


"My roots: I'm half Pennsylvania redneck and half southern white trash. Growing up, I never really fit in. I always thought I was a freak because I liked books and living animals." 

Her books are set in Pennsylvania, in coal mining communities. While I've never lived in coal mining areas, I do know people similar to the characters she writes about. I love her characters and the way she handles very tough and raw topics. I would describe her writing stark, dark, and humorous. You giggle when you least expect it, right in the middle of some really tough situation.

When describing her writing, others use words such as: raw, tense, captivating, touching, titilating, and unique. I agree. After reading her books, and I have read all of them except the most recent, I feel as though I know what life in coal mining community might be like.


Back Roads - An Unforgettable Debut Novel



Back Roads is Tawni O'Dell's debut novel. The setting is Pennsylvania mining country. Ms. O'Dell tells us the story of nineteen year old Harley Altmyer. He is an angry, unlucky, and did I mention angry young man who is left to raise his younger siblings. This in not a story for the faint of heart. Harley had reason to be angry, and it is unlikely you will forget this story about a dysfunctional family. I will never forget the thoughts Harley had during one of his sessions with his therapist. As someone who works with children, over the years I had already imagined that some of my clients have had very similar thoughts during our meetings.  Thank you Ms. O'Dell for taking me for an unforgettable ride down a dark, bumpy, and frightening dirt road to the Altmyer home.


Back Roads
Note:  If you like to read a book before the movie comes out, you'll want to read this soon. According to Tawni O'Dells website, this Oprah Book Club's pick is "soon to be a film".

Author Nora Roberts - Maryland


Nora Roberts.  I thought she was strictly a romance writer. Old school romance isn't my thing.  Based on my assumptions about romances, I had never picked up one of her books. After moving to Maryland, someone either told me that she writes more than romance or they just handed me one of her books. I can't recall exactly how I came to read these romantic thriller stories, but I was hooked from that moment on.

What can I possibly say about Ms. Roberts that hasn't already been said?  My guess is that, if you are an avid reader, you've at least heard of her and probably have read her. She is a book writing machine who began her writing career when she was snowed in at home with her young children. I love the story of how she began. 

In an interview with BookBrowse she says: 

"The blizzard of '79 hit in February, and I was stuck in the house with two small children. Any mother out there knows what it is to weep bitter tears when the radio announces that there will be no morning kindergarten" .... "I'd never thought about writing as a career. I thought everyone made up stories in their heads. But after days of being trapped by the blizzard, I was tired of playing Candy Land and was desperate for some sort of release."

It was then she took pen to paper and immediately fell in love with the process of writing. 

I love both her characters and her story lines.  With many other authors, I like either their character development or the plot movement, but often I don't enjoy both equally.  I do with Ms. Robert's writing. Both the characters and the story stick with me - often for years later. 


The Witness - A Story of Good Versus Evil and a Woman's Will to Live


With 200+ books, there is likely something for everyone to choose from. I prefer the stories that mix romance with suspense. I want my hugs and kisses to be mixed in with evil people lurking in bushes and bouts of self-defense. I want my romance to be about strong women who are busy doing their own thing, standing on their own two feet, before becoming weak in the knees with love and lust.

The Witness is one such story, and much more. A young lady, who reminds me VERY much of some of the spectrum kids I've worked with over the years, witnesses one violent crime after another. She is able to escape alive but spends the remainder of her life running and hiding.  Because she is brilliant and has certain skills, she is able to stay a step ahead of those who want her dead - despite having no family (who says only step-mothers are evil?) or friends to help her.  Years later, she begins to experience the possibilities of love and home. Just as she begins to have a desire to put down roots, evil finds her again.


The Witness



Related Links:


Tawni O'dell - Read more about Ms. Odell, her books, news, and upcoming releases and events on her website.

Nora Roberts - Read more about Ms. Roberts, her books, upcoming releases, and events on her website. 

Inn Boonsboro - Boonsboro is a small town that I had driven through on one of my long, winding "Sunday Drives" when I first moved to Maryland. The surrounding area is gorgeous countryside - dotted with interesting small towns. I was surprised to learn that Nora Roberts and her husband own the Inn Boonsboro. Her husband owns the bookstore next to the Inn - Turn The Page bookstore. Someday, I will stop and stay in Boonsboro, rather than just drive though. Perhaps, I will re-read The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy while I'm there. 


A Few More Favorite Books:




Fragile Beasts

Northern Lights

The Search





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