Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Book Review of Honeysuckle Season

Greenhouse

In this book we are introduced to Libby a young women who has many recent struggles and an unknown future.


Summary of Book


Libby is a young woman who has just gone through several miscarriages, a painful divorce and the death of her father.  Since she is at a true crossroads in her life she decides to return to her roots in Bluestone, Virginia.  Here she moves into her father's home and begins a career as a wedding photographer.

She is asked to photograph a wedding at the historic Woodmont estates.  This is a place she remembers going to as a child with her mother.  The place brings back memories and after the wedding the owner Elaine Grant asks her help in getting the place ready for special events.  Elaine has also asked a young widower, Colton Reese to help in the restoration of a greenhouse on the estate.

The greenhouse was once the scene of many community gatherings.  It was built as a wedding gift for Elaine's grandmother and was at one time a beautiful and magical place.  The years have not been kind to the place and it is overgrown with honeysuckle vines and lots of weeds.  The greenhouse is said to be haunted and it hides secrets from years gone by.

It has been months since her father's death and Libby is now ready to start going through some of his things.  When she does, a letter she finds in his desk will bring to light long buried secrets with ties to the Woodmont estate.  

The author, Mary Ellen Taylor, weaves a wonderful story of love and loss, secrets and forgiveness, and a wonderful hope for the future.  Along the way you meet interesting characters and become caught up in their lives.

My Thoughts on the Book


I liked this book from the very beginning and was delighted with the way the author introduced the characters.  There was a hint of the secret throughout the book but I really didn't catch on till near the end.  This made it a real page turner.  The characters were lifelike and I took a real interest in their lives.  This would be a great book for book club discussions.

Other Books by This Author


Mary Ellen Taylor is an award winning author of Winters Cottage and Spring House and several other women's literature books.  She also writes under the name Mary Burton as a New York Times best selling suspense novelist.




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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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Catherine Cookson Riley Book Review

Catherine Cookson Riley (1998) Book Review

Many years ago, I parted with most of my Catherine Cookson books, retaining only the few that I had not read, like the one shown here called Riley. It had been decades since I had picked up any of Cookson's books but I remember fondly having loved the stories, which are set in the 19th century in and around what was then at least a heavily industrialized area of northeast England called Tyneside. 

With the arrival in 2020 of the virus that would lock down most of the world, I set to reading through some of my old piles of books and hence returned to the works of Catherine Cookson via this novel, Riley. 


IS RILEY RECOMMENDED?

Riley was indeed very good and it did not in any way fail my memories of Cookson’s books. It is the story of a young lad with no direction who was surely bound for trouble but was indirectly 'rescued’ by a few heated comments from a caring teacher. The result of those comments was a tumultuous but successful life on the stage and marriage to a woman 20 years his elder. 

Riley is Highly Recommended by me for anyone who loves historical fiction.


THE AUTHOR

Author Catherine Cookson, despite being from an extremely poor, working class home in Tyneside, England, went on to become one of the richest women in Britain. More importantly in my mind at least, she also went on to become Britain’s most read author in the mid-1990s and remains on the list of the twenty most read British novelists. She wrote a remarkable two books a year in many years and, when she died in 1998, she left behind 103 novels and a fortune for charity. 


ROMANCE OR HISTORICAL FICTION?

Catherine Cookson's novels were often categorized as romance despite the fact that, as Cookson said herself, there was nothing romantic about the times or the situations in her books. Her stories offered up more than historical romance and are extremely well done in terms of depicting a time period in history, which would surely make them qualify as historical fiction today. 

I do not want to stop with recommending Riley, however. I want to make my post a call for people to pick up Catherine Cookson’s books whether they knew her before they arrived here on this page or not. It doesn’t matter which book you start with whether it be Riley or another, they are all sure to please. Just be careful if you start with a series like Mary Ann Shaughnessy, Tilly Trotter or the Bailey Chronicles that you pick the first one.  You will find Riley on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links

Buy Riley on Amazon.
Catherine Cookson’s Life 
Discover the new, used and vintage books in my eBay store by clicking here but be warned that unfortunately there are no Catherine Cookson novels!
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn reviewed. 
Fast Girls by Elise Hooper reviewed. 








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 10, 2020

Review of Across the Winding River

Across the Winding River was another one of those books I couldn't put down once I started reading it.  The author did a wonderful job of intertwining a story from World War II Germany and present day San Diego.  When Beth is helping her father go through his WWII mementos she discovers a photo of him and a mysterious women in Germany who is obviously pregnant. Who is this woman and what if any part did she play in her father's life. 

Link to Book through Amazon


                                                                    

Main Characters

  • Max-  Max is a dentist, who served as a medic in World War II.  He met several German resistance members whom he helped whenever he could.
  • Beth-  Max's daughter.  We meet her in the present day after her mother has died and she is taking care of her invalid father.  She wants to spend as much time as she can with him and engages him in talking about his time in the war.
  • Johanna- We first meet Johanna just before the war when Hitler is just starting to rise to power.  Johanna and her family have been able to hide the fact that she is one quarter Jewish through a grandfather who has since passed away.
  • Harald- Harald is a professor who marries Johanna.  During the war he is  pressed into service for a cause he does not believe in.
  • Margarethe (Metta) - Metta is a younger sister who marries a strict Nazi, before she realizes his true character.  She sneaks away whenever she can to work for the resistance.
  • Ansel- Ansel is Metta's husband and a very cruel person who is loyal to the Nazi cause.
  • Jonas and Heide- They belong to the German resistance.  When Jonas is wounded, Metta meets an American medic in the forest and brings him to help Jonas.

My Thought on the Book

I really loved the book.  It was easy to read and clearly marked whether you were in the present day or the World War II era.  Each chapter completed a section on one of the times.  There were several side stories on Beth, that endeared her to me.  She was a very likable character as was her father Max.  I found myself really routing for them and hoping they could solve the mystery that had lasted for over 50 years.



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, July 26, 2020

12 Step Summary of Preparation Tips for Creating a Niche Book Series

Preparation Tips for Creating a Book Series

In October of 2019, I decided it was time to tackle one item on my bucket list: To publish a book featuring a collection of my personally written poems.

I've written several articles on my experience as a newbie self-publisher. Here's my most recent article that talks about Glossy versus Matte Finish Book Covers.

In the beginning, self-publishing wasn't easy! In fact, it took perseverance, patience, and a bit of holy water followed by soap to wash my mouth out with!

Creating My Series of Riddle Books

Once the poetry book was under my belt, I decided to create a series of Riddle Books. I have this crazy knack for writing riddles, so I decided to use this quirky ability for books.

My driving force for writing riddle books is to create something light, fun, and distracting. It turns out 2020 needs a lot of that!

I started with one book, then decided to create a series under the same topic. I'll keep adding to this series until my mind runs out of ideas.

To date, I've written and self-published four riddle books. I've just completed the content for Riddle Book number five, Halloween Riddles, which is scheduled to be published in August 2020. I also have a sixth riddle book halfway completed but don't have a date planned for that release yet.

Although I'm not a guru-self-publisher, I'd like to share my own process for creating a series of books for a niche. Note that as of this date, I've self-published via Amazon's Self-Publishing platform; however, I plan to expand to other writing platforms in a few months. I'll write about that learning process later.

Note: These are summary tips. I didn't delve into the detail of each. The tips are meant to give you a mental picture of the entire thought process before you dive into the process. In other words, things to consider if you're truly serious about your endeavor.

My Personal Twelve-Step Summary Guide to Creating Your Own Niche Series of Self-Published Books:
  1. Choose a topic for your series of books.
  2. Write and self-publish your book in both eBook and Paperback format. 
  3. Don't rush, take it one book at a time and don't limit yourself to a specific number of books.
  4. Decide if the format for each book will be the same: For example number of chapters, introductions, closing pages, and structure.
  5. Be willing to change your covers several times in the beginning if needed - I did this a lot.
  6. Create a website that reflects your book's topic.
  7. Design and decide upon a Logo for your series.
  8. Create a business Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter page for your book's topic.
  9. Create engaging posts about your book's topic on these social media business accounts.
  10. Create a video that speaks about who you are and put that video on your website and your social media accounts.
  11. Include your social media links and website links at the back of your ebooks and paperback books. Be sure to follow Amazon's rules on links in eBooks.
  12. Create and set-up your Amazon Author page - be sure to link to your website's RSS feed to your Author Page so that the new posts on your websites are updated automatically to your author page. 

Here's a Four eBook Series of My Riddle Books

Amazon automatically created an eBook Series for me. In other words, I didn't have to create the amazon page that offered my eBooks as a series. They put two and two together and created the page. However, for a paperback series, I'll have to assemble that offer to the public myself. I'll let you know how that goes - I still have to learn how to do it!

My About Me Video

Here's the video I created for my Website and Social Media Websites. It's intentionally not 'guru-professional.' My goal was to introduce myself to my followers - to be real - to be who I am, nothing more. There are several video services you can use online, I used Animoto.


Again, these tips are meant as an overview to help you consider the big picture before you start writing your book series.

Happy Creating!


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, July 9, 2020

Review of The Lending Library

The Lending Library by Alice Fogelson is a delightful story about a teacher's love for books and how she helps the community when the town library is temporarily closed.  I found the book when it was one of the Amazon Prime monthly First Read books.  I love that feature on Amazon because it has introduced me to so many interesting books and authors.


Summary of the Book

The book is about a confirmed bibliophile and frustrated artist, Dodie Fairisle, who moves from New York city to a small Connecticut town where she teaches art in the elementary school.

When the Chatsworth town library is found to have asbestos it is forced to close indefinately.  Dodie is so frustrated for herself and the town that she decides to create a lending library in the sunroom of her home.

Dodie is very committed to making the library a success and she uses her skills as a baker providing treats and her love of books to recommend books for each person who comes into the lending library.

One person that comes regularly to the library is a construction worker named Shep Jamison.  Shep is very handsome and Dodie spends a lot of time picking out books that she feels Shep would like.

The first part of the book is setting up the library and the people that Dodie meets.  The second part of the book becomes bogged down with many side stories, including love interests of friends, death of a friend, adoption processes and Dodie's stressed out desire to become a mother.

My Thoughts on the Book

I picked up this book at a time when I was looking for something lighter to read.  The book, for the most part filled that need.   I particularly  enjoyed the parts about Dodie and her work with the library. I also enjoyed the interesting cast of characters, including Dodie's friends and the people that frequented the library.

 There were times though in the second half where the story became a bit intense and perhaps unbelievable.  Even so, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.

Find the Book 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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Sunday, June 28, 2020

Matte or Glossy Covers on a Self Published Book? Which One To Choose?



That is the question, matte or glossy?

Let me start off by admitting that I'm not a self-publishing guru! The entire self-publishing process has been self taught.

In 2019 I made a decision to tackle a bucket list item; publish my personally written life's collection of poetry. Since then, and to this date, via Amazon Self-Publishing (KDP), I've self-published a total of seven books, and am in the middle of writing my eighth and ninth book.

I've written multiple times about the learning curve to self-publishing. I have to admit it wasn't easy. However, now that I have a few books under my belt, I'm learning more about the nuanced details that make a difference in a book's appearance and presentation.

As an example, I learned how to create professional-looking book covers, and have changed my covers multiple times to what they are as of this date. I actually made another slight modification to one of them again today! I'm planning on stopping these changes soon - Nah, probably not lol - but hopefully I'll get the covers to a place where I'm completely satisfied! Building book covers from scratch is tough at first, but after you get the hang of it, it's a ton of fun and very addictive!

A Matte or Glossy Finish on the Cover of Your Self-Published Book - Which Should You Choose?

I googled the crap out of this. Watched videos - you know, the usual stuff we do when we have questions. However, I didn't get a suitable answer. So, when I published the first editions of each book, I decided to go with a matte finish for the covers.

Guess what? For my books, a glossy finish is much nicer and more practical. So, I'm in the process of changing them all to glossy. I'll do all future books in a glossy cover format from now forward.

Why a Glossy Cover Works for This Genre of Books

I write riddle books, books about sayings for cards, and of course, a poetry book. I haven't written, nor plan to write novels. Novel covers may be better in a matte finish, but honestly, I can't give you advice on that.

For Activity Books (Like My Riddle Books & Saying Books and Poetry Books), Here's Why I Believe a Glossy Cover is Best
  1. These types of books are picked up and put down often, and a glossy cover is more durable. The matte cover actually ended up with smudged fingerprints on it from too much handling. 
  2. They look way more professional with glossy covers! My husband put it this way - he said, 'the matte finish made it look like it was purchased at the dollar store, and a glossy finish gives it a bookstore feel' - Yikes!
  3. A glossy cover feels nicer to hold in your hands (a personal thing)
  4. The shiny cover helps the colors to pop more. With fun activity books, the colors are essential, so yah ... glossy all the way for that reason alone.
  5. The matte finish looks more like a school book, the glossy finish gives it an 'author feel.'
The Cellphone Photos of the Books Below Don't Really Capture the Difference Between Matte and Glossy However There is A Big Difference:


Both of These Riddle Books Have a GLOSSY COVER
 #STUMPED - A Party Game

The Book on the Left is a MATTE Finish
The Book on the Right is a GLOSSY Finish
Boredom Buster Riddles - #Stumped Volume 4

The final vote of approval came from my adult kids and my husband, they all agreed that the glossy covers were superior to the matte covers. Sorry matte.

My Non-Guru Self-Publishing Journey in Articles:
1. How to get started on that eBook you've been meaning to do for decades
2. Confessions of a Newbie Self-Publisher
3. 5 Helpful Tools from a Newbie Self-Publisher
4. 3 More Tips from a Newbie Self-Publisher


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, June 10, 2020

Father's Day Gift Ideas That Won't Break the Bank!

It's a great time to start thinking about Father's Day.


Although many of us have not been able to get together with family like we have in the past, it's no reason to forget Father's Day which is coming up shortly!  

June 21st is the third Sunday and the one dedicated to those men who have the honor of being the Father or Father Figure in our lives.  Just so you know, this can also include Grandfathers, Uncles and Step Dads  as well.



Dads can be really hard to buy for!  (Moms tend to be easier, chocolates and flowers every year works.)  Not so much for Dad!  Tools and Dad stuff tends to be more expensive somehow!  But check below and see some really inexpensive alternatives!

10 Great Gift Ideas for Dads


  1. Family Manicure Kit, not just for the ladies anymore.  
  2. Car Stickers (some are really funny, like this one) But there are many others that can work for your Dad!
  3.  iPad Protector (there are many to choose from but this is an Amazon Choice with 5 star rating)
  4. Father's Day T-Shirts (this one says it all, but there are many more to choose from)
  5. Fisherman or Hunter Dads (great tools to use while out in the wilderness)
  6. For the musical Dad, Guitar Picks (sing me a song)
  7. A Special Key Ring 
  8. A Special Book
  9. B.B.Q. Tools
  10. Man's Apron
This list is Dad Approved by both my other half and my son (who happens to be Dad to 3 children).  They looked it over and each of them without being asked said they would love any one of the items in this list!   

 
  



Now these are great gifts for dads on their special day, but there are so many more things that Dad would love to have and might not indulge himself with.

If you need some help trying to figure out what to get your Dad for Father's Day,  ask yourself some questions...........


If Dad loves to read, there are hundreds of books available from Amazon or your favorite book retailer, like Chapters.

Does Dad love taking pictures?  How about a new Camera Strap with a bonus, you can read about it here!  Sylvester Mouse Cynthia found a great way to make this even better.

Does Dad love to build?  How about a new tool or a magazine with all kinds of neat ideas that Dad could try to make?

Does Dad like to run, walk or exercise in general?  Maybe a pair of Nordic Walking Sticks would be the ideal gift.

Is your Dad a sports fanatic, then there are literally hundreds of items big and small that would make a lovely Father's Day gift.  Pick your team and off you go!

Sometimes Dad's are just happy with a nice card.  You can make or buy one that will suit your Dad to a "T".  


Father's Day is the  21st of June this year.  Don't let the day go by without some lovely acknowledgement for all the things Dads do every day of the year.









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, April 23, 2020

The Huntress Book Review

The Huntress Book Review
Told in three narratives, Kate Quinn's book, The Huntress, dives into Nazi-era Soviet Union and post-war Boston. It follows the post-war efforts of a small company whose purpose is hunting for and bringing to justice war criminals.

The main characters include Ian, a proper British journalist who was on the ground in Europe during the war and who turns postwar away from journalism to the task of finding war criminals. His purpose becomes a bit clouded by vengeance when he searches for the elusive target for whom this book is titled. That is, the Huntress who ruthlessly lured and killed men, women and children.

The second character is Nina, a woman who grew up dirt-poor and savage in Siberia. As an adult she becomes a pilot for the Soviet Union and a member of the all-female Night Witch bomber regiment who, during her time on the ground during the war, has an encounter with the Huntress.

Finally, we have Jordan, an ambitious teenager who lives with her father and sister in Boston. She wants to become a photographer and to break out of the societal requirement for a woman of the times that says she must get married, settle down and have children.

In the end, all are brought together by the Huntress.

THE HUNTRESS OFFICIAL BOOK TRAILER


Here’s a peek via the official book trailer from publisher Williams Morrow:




REVIEWS


Readers on Goodreads gave The Huntress a 4.27 out of 5 stars and 91 percent of Amazon readers gave it a 4- or 5-star rating. That’s pretty good.

On the back cover, Booklist says that this book is “An impressive historical novel sure to harness WWIIi-fiction fans’ attention.” I agree.

The Washington Post calls this book a “compulsively readable historical novel” and says that it is a “powerful novel about unusual women facing sometimes insurmountable odds with grace, grit, love and tenacity.” I agree.

WHO SHOULD READ THE HUNTRESS?


Fans of World War II fiction, which by the way comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me, will enjoy this book. In particular, if you would like a look into the hunt for war criminals, Russian folklore and the lesser-known world of the Night Witches, you will want to pick this book up. If you enjoyed Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network or Heather Morris’ The Tattooist of Auschwitz you will want to read this book. It quickly becomes a thriller and a page turner demonstrating how war changes people and the costs of seeking justice.

You should know that this book has numerous adult themes, which is what you naturally comes with a book about war crimes. Those themes include abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol use, war and sex.

Do be aware that there are numerous books called the Huntress. Don't make the mistake that a friend of mine made and read the wrong one. You can find your copy of Kate Quinn’s The Huntress on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

QUICK LINKS:

Buy your copy of The Huntress on Amazon.
The Ragged Edge of Night Book Review.
Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale Book Review.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Movie Review.









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, March 11, 2020

Where the Crawdads Sing Book Review


For those who love to travel, the current global atmosphere fraught as it is with many concerns, may be keeping you at home and make a strong case for sitting back and enjoying some armchair travel. If you are interested in a trip to North Carolina’s remote marshlands, you might want to pick up the bestselling novel Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Before I read this book, North Carolina was not on my list of places that I would like to see. Now it is. I thoroughly enjoyed the book though it started off a bit oddly, at least for me. I had just finished reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which was an excellent book crafted with simple, straightforward language. When I picked Where the Crawdads Sing up, the language seemed overly flowery with text like, “water flows into the sky”, “clammy forests” and “the marsh’s moist breath.” It was not long, however, before I was whisked away to fictional Barkley Cove in North Carolina and wrapped up in the lives of the main characters.

THE STORY


The story? Well, simply put it is that of a girl’s marsh life from the ages of 6 to 25 both with her family and then abandoned by her family, of how she grows up barefoot and wild and, despite sparse interactions with other people, of how she manages to educate herself in her remote environment. It is rich with details about marsh life in North Carolina. It is a coming-of-age tale and it is also one of romance and murder, alternating between the years of 1952 and 1969. The author herself says that the book is about loneliness.

IS IT A TRUE STORY?


Is Where the Crawdads Sing a true story? Not really though Elle magazine says that the story has "striking echoes" to the author’s life in Africa with conservationist former husband, Mark Owens, both of who were linked to the unsolved 1995 murder of an African poacher though the couple has denied anything to do with the murder and no charges have ever been filed.

IS IT RECOMMENDED?


Perhaps somewhat unexpectedly the book, which is Owen's first work of fiction, quickly became a hugely successful book.

The Guardian says that “Surprise bestsellers are often works that relate to the times. Though set in the 1950s and 1960s, this book is, in its treatment of racial and social division and the fragile complexities of nature, obviously relevant to contemporary politics and ecology. But these themes reach a huge audience though the writer’s old-fashioned talents for compelling character, plotting and landscape description.”

Actor Reese Witherspoon, who picked Where the Crawdads Sing  as a book for her book club, helped it build momentum and is quoted in Town and Country magazine as having said, "I can’t even express how much I love this book…There is so much to her story…and it takes place in the breathtaking backdrop of the South. I didn’t want this story to end!"

A whopping eighty-six percent of Amazon readers gave it a 5 star review. It is a New York Times number one bestseller, it has been on that best seller list for 78 weeks and it has sold over 1.5 million copies.

Those are, in my opinion, a whole lot of reasons to check out for yourself the book Where the Crawdads Sing. The majority of readers have loved this book and it comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. You can find your copy on Amazon by clicking right here and if you enjoy it, be sure to watch for Witherspoon's movie version of the story.

See you
At the bookstore!

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

QUICK LINKS:


Buy your copy of Where the Crawdads Sing here on Amazon.
Read Dawn Rae's review of Where the Crawdads Sing.









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 27, 2019

5 Helpful Tools from a Newbie Self-Publisher

5 Helpful Tools Discovered by a Newbie Self-Publisher

In the past two weeks, I've talked about lessons learned as a newbie self-publisher. My first attempt was an eBook and the second a Paperback. Like I said in those articles, I'm not a guru! I'm learning the ropes and sharing the climb.

Was it easy, no way! I can honestly say I'm lacking sleep, and this so-called brain of mine has been reduced to mush. But I love the feeling: You know when you've overcome something and earned a sense of moving forward.

In this article, I'd like to share some of the convenient tools I've found online to help you with your own self-publishing journey. I spent a lot of time researching various aspects of the writing and publishing process and have saved my favorite tips and tools for future projects.

Here are five handy tools/tips I discovered along the way:

1. Choosing a Title for Your Books

I'll start by saying that my titles aren't genius. Lol, but as most of you know, a title is vital. My second book is all about fun, it's a party riddle gamebook. Yah, I know, who writes riddles, right? It's a crazy freaking knack that I have, go figure?

I wanted to create interest with my title and have the title say precisely what the book was about, and what the book could be used for.

I researched some of the most potent action words for marketing and tripped on several helpful articles. The article I ended up saving for future reference was "277 Action Words to Supercharge Your Writing."

2. Kindleprenuer - Be Sure to Check it Out

Kindleprenuer is filled with handy writing tidbits. It's written in a straightforward format, and the tips are easy to implement. They also suggest useful tools to help you along your learning process.

Don't miss their article on 'How to Title a Book,' it's worth your time!

3. Title Generators - These are Handy

A title generator auto-generates suggested title ideas based on your entry. I'll admit, the title for my latest book didn't come from a title generator; however, the title generator did inspire my final decision for the title.

This title generator is a ton of fun and a little addictive! Go ahead and put in the details and see the choices it spits out. It's also a recommended tool by Kindleprenuer.

Here's another helpful title generator. As I mentioned above, it did inspire the title creation process.

4. Setting Up Your Amazon Author Central Page

Since I only have two books published, I haven't set my page up yet. However, you guessed it, I've researched the topic already.

When you're ready, check out this article on how to set your Author Page up, it's helpful.

5. Choosing Your Subtitles - Bold, Clear, and Specific

No, I didn't come up with that criteria. It's part of the excellent advice you'll get from Kindleprenuer. I mentioned them above. They also offer a helpful article on 'how to select a subtitle that sells'.

______________________

Here were my challenges:
  •  It's a riddle book
  •  The book is designed and suggested as a fun game for parties
  •  The riddles are geared towards teens and adults (all clean of course)
  •  I needed a branded name to use on future riddle books
As I researched naming my book, I had quite the challenge trying to get these points established on the cover: A party game book, a riddle book, for teens and adults as well as finding space for an action word.

Here's what I decided:
  •  "A Party Game" stated at the top since that's the point of the book
  •  #Stumped is my branded name that will be on future riddle books
  •  'Instant Party Riddles for Teens and Adults" is the sub-title
  •  The word "Instant" is my action word
  •  The back of the book features an actual riddle 
I'm not saying my choices are the right ones, or that they can't be improved. In fact, I may change the cover down the road. What I learned is that the process for choosing a title, sub-title, and design is time-consuming and crucial to the overall final product.

That's enough for today on my journey into self-publishing, here's my second book. There's an eBook version as well, but it's in the approval stage. It should be showing in a day or so. 

Oh, and yes, I've started the third book: It's not poetry, it's not a riddle book, it's not a novel, oh what could it be?

Here's book number two. Available on Amazon.
Note: I'm an Amazon Associate, but the above link
does not have my Associate ID in it.




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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Ian Rankin's Black and Blue Book Review

Eighth in the series, Black and Blue: is An Inspector Rebus Novel by Ian Rankin. Find my review here.
Interesting the number of covers Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue has had. I am surprised though I know that different book formats come with different covers. This book, however, seems to have had a lot of different looks. I suppose that is what happens to a successful book as it gains some age.

Of course, once you have a book in your hand, it matters not a whit what the cover looks like though the cover may have helped that book find its way into your hands in the first place. In this case, what it looks like did not matter because this book is one of the books that will be discussed in the late fall class I am taking in Ottawa through Carleton University’s Learning in Retirement program called Classics of Detective Fiction: From the 1960s to Today.

Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue is a fictional detective story, written  in 1997 and based firmly in the Scotland of the 1990s. In her class notes, our instructor Stefani Nielson calls the book “post-Christie,” “British realism noir” and she says that it features a “working class anti-hero.”

I did not know what was meant by that last term, anti-hero, so I googled it and Wikipedia shares that “An antihero is a main character in a story who lacks conventional heroic qualities and attributes such as idealism, courage and morality.” Inspector Rebus is a hard-working, hardened police officer and former SAS officer now coping in self-destruct mode with what life has thrown at him. He is anti-social and struggles with relationships. He is a drinking man with sometimes questionable scruples who is determined to get the job done regardless of who is in the way.

The Story


Black and Blue finds our anti-hero unofficially working four cases at the same time. Among the four, two stand out. He is searching for a mass murderer nicknamed Bible John on a cold case from the 1960s and 1970s and he is searching for a copycat murderer who has been nicknamed Bible Johnny. Set in Scotland, the author helps us visit his Scotland from the comfort of our arm chairs. Our travels will include time in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Shetland and even the oilfields in the North Sea.

It is a long book at more than 550 pages but it is action packed so if you love to read, that should cause you no issues. If you read the book, you will become heavily invested in the main character and consumed by the desire to know who is responsible for the crimes committed and if and how they are all connected.

Is this a good time to tell you that Black and Blue is the eighth in a series of books about Inspector Rebus? It is my first Ian Rankin novel because I am reading it in preparation for my class. In normal circumstances, I would have picked book one as a starting point.

Who Will Like This Book?


Anyone who likes a well-crafted detective novel and does not mind the world that a police officer travels in. This book definitely has violence but it is far from the worst I have ever read and, of course, it has a police officer who drinks, smokes and cuts corners.

Reviews


Goodreads says, “Written with Ian Rankin's signature wit, style and intricacy, Black and Blue is a novel of uncommon and unforgettable intrigue.” The readers who write the reviews on the website rate this book 4.08 out of 5. One of those readers says, “Now this is how you write a really good crime novel!

On his blog, Simon McDonald says, “…this book is one of the author’s best… more than awhodunit, it is a searing commentary on mid-nineties Scotland, told so palatably, so relentlessly…

Personally, I have really enjoyed this novel and meeting Inspector Rebus. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me if you enjoy crime detective fiction. I will definitely have to go back to the start of the series, which is where, I imagine, you will start if you decide you would like to travel in Inspector Rebus's world. You can find all of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels on Amazon quickly by clicking right here.

Ian Rankin's Rebus The Definitive DVD Collection

Interesting Facts


This book is considered an important story in Tartan Noir, which is genre in crime fiction written by Scottish writers and set in Scotland. Wikipedia says that Tartan Noir has roots in Scottish literature but adapts elements from other writers like era-specific American crime writers and European crime writers.

The title of the book, Black and Blue, relates to the Rolling Stones album of the same name, it relates to the state we often find our anti-hero in and it relates to the oil fields and the policeman of this story.

The Dancing Pigs, the successful punk music band featured in this book, were recreated from an unsuccessful band that the author played in for a year as a 19-year old. Rankin enjoyed making the band successful in his book. Who could resist? I think I would have done the same.

You may also have seen a mini-series called Ian Rankin's Rebus about the character that aired in 2000. Find it on Amazon here.

Be sure to come back and let us know how you enjoy any of Ian Rankin's books and, if you have seen the mini-series, we would love to hear that, too.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Black and Blue on Amazon.
Find Ian Rankin's Rebus The Definitive DVD Collection on Amazon.








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Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax Book Review

The Vinyl Detective Book Review

The Vinyl Detective Series: Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel


Yes, vinyl is trendy. If you are not sure what I mean by vinyl you likely will recognize the old school terms for record albums and LPs. If you don't know what a record or an LP is, you likely recognized vinyl right away. I would bet that whichever term you use to refer to “a thin plastic disk that carries recorded sound in grooves” tells us a bit about your age.

Yes, the detective in this book seeks and finds records. I'm not sure if that is his official profession though he is not employed at any other task and is chronically broke but vinyl is definitely where his knowledge lies and a way for him to make a living or at least, earn some money.

Finally, yes, some vinyl is worth seeking and reselling. A lot of it has no value but a quick search of eBay sold items as seen if you click here will reveal that some are very valuable. The result I see on eBay as I write this post shows that almost 500,000 vinyl records have been sold though I am sorry I cannot tell you in what time frame that was. The results show a first impression Motley Crue Too Fast For Love album and a Japanese Pink Floyd album each selling for almost $5,000.

I am a reseller and yes, therein at least partially lies my interest in the subject matter of this book. I do look for vinyl to resell though I know little about the subject and have sold only a very few records. After receiving a turntable at Christmas in order to play our existing collection of vintage vinyl records, I now find myself looking for vinyl that I find interesting and that I would like to own and occasionally, I add something obscure to my pile with the hopes that it will be valuable. Only a couple of times have I returned home with a record that we already own (oops) and no, I have not found a record that is valuable yet.

The back of this book says that the author, Andrew Cartmel, lives in London with “too much vinyl and just enough cats” but I have no idea if the records and the extensive back story in this book are actually real, rare and valuable or if the whole thing is fictional.  There is, however, a lot to be learned about records and the related paraphernalia in this book. Do note, as the book points out, that we don't say vinyls.

What's Dead Wax?


Just in case you are wondering, Dead Wax is the area on a record that is left blank after the music or playable area and before the paper label. Apparently, the dead wax can have important information and, in the case of this book, messages. I did not know that there was a term for this space though of course it makes sense.

What's Offensive in the Book? 


There is sex, drugs and rock and roll between the covers but not in a particularly offensive manner. Oh and yes, there is murder some of which is not nice but then when is murder ever nice? Anyway, I did not find most of it particularly gruesome or gory. Moments were fleeting and skipped past quickly.  There were a few shocks when the murders happened.

Did I Like the Book? Do I Recommend it?


Yes, I liked the book though I disliked parts. I did not like the way one relationship dissolved and was immediately replaced by another and then that situation dissolved and was immediately replaced by another again though I was heartbroken at moments for the main character and wonder what heartaches await him in the next novel.

The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax was very readable and an interesting treasure hunt for a series of very rare jazz records. It was a peek into the dedication of a true vinyl enthusiast and his network and knowledge. This detective certainly knows how to search for and find vinyl records and yes, I do recommend this book.

Who Will Like This Book? 


Anyone who likes a detective novel with a set of unusual characters should like this book as well as anyone who is curious about the world of vinyl or who is interested in reselling. Bonus, if you love cats, the cute pair in this book loves to be petted under the chin. “They do. They do. Under the chin. Yes, that’s right. Under the chin.”

What Are The Names of The Other Books in the Series?


Up next? There are four more books in this series featuring The Vinyl Detective called The Run-Out Groove, Victory Disc, Flip Back and Murder Swing. Click here to find your copy of the first book, The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax on Amazon.


See you at the bookstore!
(Or maybe at the crates of records
at the next tag sale wearing your
crate-digging shoes.)
Brenda
Treasures by Brenda


Quick Links:

Buy The Vinyl Detective on Amazon.
Check out the vinyl I have in my eBay store!






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Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Finishing School Book Review

The Finishing School Book Review
I enjoyed Joanna Goodman's The Home for Unwanted Girls enough to seek out and read this book, The Finishing School. At first I did not really understand what Goodman meant by 'finishing school.' Of course, once I discovered that the book was about events in a boarding school I realized that I should have understood. Since then, some friends have told me that they understand the term finishing school while others have drawn a blank when I told them the title of this book.

Anyway, The Finishing School is the story of a group of children and the adventures and tragedies that befall them at school and of their lives afterward. It is the story of families that shipped their children off to school and sometimes left them to be mostly raised by strangers in a strange country. It is the story of how a private school sought to protect its reputation by failing to properly investigate a number of serious incidents.

The narrative of the story flips easily back and forth between the modern day and the late 1990s and is set both at a fictional boarding school called Lycée Internationale Suisse in Switzerland and in Canada. Haunted by them, one of the girls returns to Switzerland as a young woman to uncover the truth about the events that unfolded during her time there.

It turns out that the story is much more complicated than that of the single incident that brings the young woman back to Switzerland and as it unfolds you will find yourself hoping that this is a totally fictional story though, of course, you know that events like those that unfolded at this school have happened and do happen in real life.

The author says that the story is based on her own real life experiences at a boarding school when she was 17 years old. She says that, like the main character in this novel, she was a fish out of water. She was a middle class student surrounded by children of the wealthy, a group that included members of royal families and children of international superstars. She also says that the stories in the book came from real ‘secrets and scandals’ that happened in the year she was there. As a matter of fact, she says that her real life best friend at boarding school was in the same situation as the best friend of the main character in this novel. The author explains that she used the events of that year to create this story of “entitlement, of the power of beauty and status, and of the relentless pursuit of approval that afflicts even the wealthy.” She says that this “book is inspired by real people and events, but is (mostly) fiction.” If you want to learn more about the author’s life as relates to this story, you can find her interview here.

There are some plot twists in this story, one large one that had me wondering if I had missed something or misread something. I guess it jarred a bit and, to be honest, that twist almost put me off reading this book but I did not put it down and yes, I would recommend this book. It a mystery about relationships both of the family and friendship variety and about the life of the wealthy and the world of the boarding school. It deals with pregnancy, both unwanted and wanted.  It definitely has some unpleasantness in it but it is handled well, especially in how the victims come forward in a way that seems particularly timely.

If you read The Finishing School, be sure to come back and let us know what you think. You can find your copy on Amazon right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Order your copy of The Finishing School from Amazon here.
Find a list of questions for your book club meeting here. 
Find my review of The Home for Unwanted Girls here.

Book Details:

Title: The Finishing School
Author: Joanna Goodman
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Page Count: 352
Format: Available in Kindle, audiobook, paperback and audio CD formats.
ISBN-10: 0062465589
ISBN-13: 978-0062465580





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Sunday, June 2, 2019

Elizabeth Taylor Book Reviews: A List

A Selection of Elizabeth Taylor Books


The editor of Vanity Fair is quoted as saying, "Try to imagine a star who combines the talent of a Meryl Streep with the beauty of a Nicole Kidman, the sensuality of a Penelope Cruz, and the notoriety of a Lindsay Lohan. Magnify that a hundredfold, and you're still only halfway to Elizabeth Taylor." He's absolutely right, of course, and it is no wonder we want to read and learn more about the life and times of Elizabeth Taylor.

Since almost the beginning of her career, there have been a number of books available for those who are curious and want to learn more about Taylor's life and her career as one of the most beautiful and popular actors in the world but, with the passing of this legendary actress in 2011, publishers raced to release a new selection of books and magazines covering her entire life. Some publishers chose simply to update books that had already been published by adding information about the final years of her life. A cheat of sorts but at least it makes books that fall in that category more complete.

On this page, you will find a selection of those books, biographical and otherwise, about the beautiful and talented Elizabeth Taylor. If you are interested in reading more, I know you will find a great choice on this page.

Elizabeth Taylor Eight Remarkable Stories From The Pages of Vanity Fair

Elizabeth Taylor A Loving Tribute

Eight Remarkable Stories From The Pages of Vanity Fair


About Hollywood's most beautiful, most controversial star, this book, which has the full title of The Best of Vanity Fair ELIZABETH TAYLOR: Eight Remarkable Stories About Hollywood’s Most Beautiful, Most Controversial Star, is available only as an ebook.  One way to beat the rush to bring new publications to market is to create an ebook like this one. This book features an introduction by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, stories by Dominick Dunne, George Hamilton and Sam Kashner and two new articles by David Kamp and Gwen Davis. It also contains a series of photographs by Firooz Zahedi, Douglas Kirkland and Helmut Newton, a biographical time line and a filmography of Elizabeth Taylor's films. A great resource for anyone who wants to learn a bit more about Elizabeth Taylor. Find it on Amazon by clicking here.

A Loving Tribute by Cindy De La Hozis


From 1942 until 2011, we were in love with Taylor's beauty, her movies and her lifestyle. Elizabeth Taylor: A Loving Tribute by Cindy De La Hozis, a 128-page book, reminds us WHY we have loved Elizabeth Taylor for more than 75 years. Find it here on Amazon.

People Magazine Tribute to Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor Her Life In Style by Susan Kelly

People Magazine’s Special Edition Hardcover Book


People Magazine's hardcover memorial book is a tribute to Elizabeth Taylor. "Now that was a star: Eight marriages. Three Oscars. Scandals, drama and diamonds galore, glittering from Hollywood to Rome, Acapulco and the French Riviera." It is full of photographs and stories and shares images and information starting with her appearance at the age of 12 in National Velvet, through her crazy years with Richard Burton to the legend and businesswoman she was in the end. Find it on Amazon here.

Her Life In Style by Susan Kelly


Elizabeth Taylor: Her Life In Style by Susan Kelly is a photographic record, with commentary, about Taylor's fashion style on and off of the movie screen. It includes her Hollywood gowns, her jewelry and her beauty, which really needed no adornment. She was one of the most popular movie stars in the world and the world watched her personal style evolve from starlet all the way through to the activist that she was in her later years. Find it here on Amazon.

Elizabeth Taylor A Passion for Life Joseph Papa

The Most Beautiful Woman in the World: The Obsessions, Passions and Courage of Elizabeth Taylor

A Passion for Life: The Wit and Wisdom of a Legend by Joseph Papa


Elizabeth Taylor, A Passion for Life: The Wit and Wisdom of a Legend by Joseph Papa is an anthology which includes Taylor's own thoughts about her life, including her childhood, career, love, motherhood and so much more. It shares the determined but generous personality of a legendary woman. Find it here on Amazon.

The Most Beautiful Woman in the World: Obsessions, Passions, and Courage by Ellis Amburn


The Most Beautiful Woman in the World: The Obsessions, Passions, and Courage of Elizabeth Taylor by Ellis Amburn is one of the most steamy Hollywood works in recent memory. Amburn put together a page-turning chronicle of Taylor's life based upon the huge number of public interviews, autobiographies and gossip columns that accompanied the actress throughout her very public life. It is a tour of her romantic life slanted to her reputation (as coined by Oscar Levant) as "the other woman of the year." Find it here on Amazon.

The Queen of the Silver Screen: Elizabeth Taylor

Queen of the Silver Screen by Ian Lloyd


Elizabeth Taylor: Queen of the Silver Screen By Ian Lloyd was released on June 9, 2011. Lloyd writes for Hello Magazine and he wrote Carlton's An Invitation to the Royal Wedding and covered Taylor’s visits to Britain. This book follows her life including her beauty and acting skills, her love of jewelry and lifestyle, and her seven husbands. Find it on Amazon by clicking here.

My Love Affair with Jewelry by Elizabeth Taylor

My Love Affair with Jewelry by Elizabeth Taylor


This is a lovely, large book packed full of illustrations of Taylor's jewelry and written by the celebrity herself in her own very readable words. It is a beautiful coffee table book, one that I thoroughly enjoyed and can HIGHLY RECOMMEND. You can read more about this book in my complete review by clicking right here or find it on Amazon by clicking here.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo By Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo By Taylor Jenkins Reid is a fictionalized story not really about Elizabeth Taylor but certainly with similarities. If you are looking for a novel packed with Hollywood goings on, you might like to check out this book. You can read my complete review of this book here.

Autographed Elizabeth Taylor Books


For a fan, I cannot imagine anything better than the opportunity to own a book that was autographed by Elizabeth Taylor and the only way that I have of tracking down an autographed copy of one of her books is via eBay. You can see the signed book options currently available on eBay by clicking right here.

Are YOU a Taylor fan? Do you enjoy Elizabeth Taylor's movies? Have you read any of these books? Any others about the actress that you would recommend?

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

More Reading:


The Best Elizabeth Taylor Movies
Elizabeth Taylor was definitely an icon. Living from 1932 to 2011, she only recently left us but, because of her amazing beauty, talent and incredibly long career, she left us with some very memorable movies. This page is dedicated to the BEST...

Meet Elizabeth (Liz) Taylor: A Brief Biography
How would YOU summarize the life of someone as amazing as Elizabeth Taylor? Would you use words like beautiful and talented? If so, you would just be scratching the surface of what made Liz Taylor special. I just stumbled across a lovely video...






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