I don't usually write reviews for children's books here, but I felt this book would be of interest to adult readers.
The DK Biogaphy of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Tanya Lee Stone is very similar to most books written about Wilder's life. The author provides a short introduction that discusses who Wilder was. Then Chapter One opens in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, where Laura Elizabeth Ingalls was born in February 1867. The book provides a very brief discussion about the Ingalls and Quiner clans before Charles and Caroline married, but the majority of the book is about Laura's life (no surprise there).
Stone discusses Pa's wanderlust and the Ingalls family's many journeys by covered wagon, until they finally settled in Dakota Territory in an area that would become known as De Smet, SD.
Chapter Seven introduces Almanzo Wilder, Laura's future husband. The author moves through Laura's years married to Almanzo, discussing the hard times that fell upon them and their decision to leave South Dakota and travel to Missouri.
Stone talks about Rose Wilder and her relationship with her mother more than in some other biographies I have read, which is nice. The rest of the book discusses Laura's writing while helping Almanzo on Rocky Ridge Farm, the beautiful house they built together, her classic Little House books, and the award that now bears Laura's name. The book even touches upon Michael Landon's classic TV show, Little House on the Prairie.
Stone provides a detailed account of Wilder's life. Adult fans won't learn anything new, but it was interesting to see the number of archival photographs. There are familiar ones of the Ingalls and Wilder families, but also pictures of the towns when they lived there and of other people, places and things from the pioneering era. I also like how there were fact boxes included on some of the pages with additional information about The Homestead Act of 1862, the railroad, pioneer teachers and more.
One tiny nitpick from page 115 states The Happy Golden Years, which was published in 1943, was about the early years of Laura and Almanzo's marriage. This book is about their courtship and ends with Laura inspecting her new home after their quick wedding. The First Four Years is about Bessie and Manly's marriage. The author mentions this book on page 119 and correctly states it is about the early years of their marriage. A young reader might be confused by this, especially if they haven't read the Little House books yet.
I was surprised I didn't have this book as part of my Laura Ingalls Wilder collection. I'll have to correct that error soon.
Title: Laura Ingalls Wilder (DK Biography)
Author: Tanya Lee Stone
Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: DK Publishing (March 2, 2009)
I borrowed this book from the local library. I received no monetary compensation for this review.
This is the sixteenth book I've read for the following challenge:
An oyster can’t produce pearls without first suffering with a grain of sand. Each of the authors in Pearls of Wisdom: 30 Inspirational Ideas to Lead Your Best Life Now gives guidance to readers on how to turn their own grains of sand into pearls.
Each chapter contains a new voice and a fresh idea for a positive life change. With eac chapter as diverse as the cast of authors who have come together to create this unique book, there is certain to be an idea to inspire and uplift you.
Pearls of Wisdom contains the greatest ideas of today’s top self-help authors, combining traditional and new techniques, affirmations, theories, meditations and practices to lead readers from the struggles they deal with in their current situations to a higher, enlightened life; not merely an existence.
For anyone who has asked the question;
“am I really living the best possible life I could be?”
Pearls of Wisdom grants the answers for any of life’s questions, straight from the hearts and minds of the masters of self-help themselves.
The Contributing Authors on the Tour
(left-right) Stacy Goforth • Liz Byrne • Susan Barker • Kelle Sutliff • Renee Baribeau • Sheila Pearl • Asia Voight • Tami Gulland • Kelle Sutliff (bottom row) Lisa Merrai- Labon • Siobhan Coulter • Chantal Herman • Marcelle Charrois • Marcelle Charrois • Glenyce Hughes • Stephanie Bennett Vogt • Michelle Manning-Kogler • Susan McMillin • Craig Meriwether • Leslie Gunterson
Stuck, broke and depressed, Craig Meriwether struggled with life for 25 years. Failing to go through with a planned suicide, Craig determined to get out of depression and to turn his life around but faced 2 major challenges, no money and no health insurance. Yet he took massive action anyway, studying, researching and working his way through his self-sabotage, anger and negative thought patterns. Today Craig is recognized as a leading expert in mind mastery, eliminating depression, and creating deep happiness and success; achieving results that last.
After teaching meditation and stress reduction workshops, Craig founded the stress reduction program at the Northern Arizona Medical Center’s Cancer Center. He is also the creator of the Depression 180 and Mind Mastery Blueprint programs, as well as, a featured author in the bestselling book Pearls of Wisdom: 30 Inspirational Ideas to Live your Best Life Now! along with Jack Canfield, Marci Shimoff and Janet Bray Attwood. He currently leads workshops in creating lasting life transformation.
I was raised in San Diego, CA, but I had a funny brain-twist when I first read the question. At first I thought you were asking “where was I when I woke up and decided to take back control of my life” (you know, like when someone’s acting like an idiot and you tell them to “grow up.”)
So to follow along down that brain-twist path I actually grew up a few years ago (mid-life crisis?) when I read a passage from Eat, Pray, Love where Elizabeth Gilbert writes, “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.” For some reason that passage hit me over the head really hard and woke me up.
It literally set me on a path to changing my life.
When did you begin writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing but have been distracted by music for most of my life (both listening and playing) so I never put much time into it. I struggled with depression for a good part of my life and about 4 years ago I made a commitment to get rid of it. After I turned my life around I decided to write down what I had learned and how I went about creating happiness. So I created the Depression 180 Program with all the different scientifically proven methods for eliminating depression that I had researched and learned about. It started off just as a book but as it progressed it’s grown into a wonderful program that also includes audio, cognitive-behavioral exercises, hypnotherapy and interviews with leading experts.
How did you get into this collection of inspiration with folks like Jack Canfield?
The publishers had seen some of my writing and asked me to submit something for consideration. They liked it and were gracious enough to put it in the book.
What is your chapter about?
It’s about how you can use the problems and stress in your life to create massive positive change. How you can actually use the challenges in your life to transform yourself and grow emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
How would you like your readers to think of you?
I’d like to instill in people that it is possible to turn your life around and create deep happiness no matter where you are starting from. I would like to be a person who creates a spark and fans the flames so that people will be able to make massive change in their lives. I don’t offer quick fixes or magic fairy dust to create transformation but I want people to know that if they’re willing to commit, take action and have persistence then they will turn their lives around and live in deep happiness. So how would I’d like people to think of me: that I give hope.
What is your "signature niche"?
Showing people how to eliminate depression, anger and automatic negative thoughts.
What is your most central and compelling "pearl of wisdom"?
The idea that changed my life was this: the person you are now, the person who got you to where you are today, CANNOT be the person who takes you to where you want to be. Simple, and…well…fairly obvious really. But when I heard this, or more to the point, when I understood this, my life turned around and I started creating massive success in my life. When I understood how my emotional set point was sabotaging my success I was able to turn my life around.
The life you have today is due to the actions you took, or did not take, yesterday. And if you remain the same person, doing the same things, you will keep getting the same results. If you want something different tomorrow, you will have to become someone different today. Simple, but not so easy.
I’m putting the finishing touches on The Depression 180 Program then I’ll be doing live trainings.
Is there anything you would like to add?
It’s my belief that happiness is your birthright but over the years, whether through chronic disappointments or heavy traumatic events, some of us lose sight of how to be happy. That’s what happened to me. We may catch some happiness here or there for short time but we end up settling back down into feeling numb or even despair.
People just want to feel good. 1 in 10 Americans are taking antidepressants. That means 30 million Americans alone are spending billions of dollars a year trying to create happiness. I’m not big on soaking your brain in pharmaceuticals and I don’t think there is a one-pill-solves-all approach to ending depression and creating happiness. It takes work and effort but the reward of a life lived in happiness and peace is so worth it. (To get the real story on what antidepressants can do to you I put up a real eye-opening free audio download at www.Depression180.com called Do Antidepressants Cause Depression, Violence and Suicide?)
People can turn their lives around. It does take commitment, effort and action but everyone can do it. If I could leave people with just one idea it would be this: remember that you are phenomenal…and act accordingly.
David gathered 5 smooth stones to meet and defeat Goliath. What did these stones represent and how can you use them to feat the Goliaths in your own personal quests? Ms. Virginia Bean will show you how.
Travel with her on her own personal journey. See what she does. Learn how she grows. Discover what she becomes.
Conquering your Goliaths—A Parable of the Five Stones is for anyone desiring to travel beyond mediocrity, pain and fear. Learn of the great power within you, a power given to you from God, a power that must ultimately be unleashed to conquer the Goliaths in your own life. Come to an even deeper understanding of God and what he wants for you. Come…
6 Ways to Market Your Book with Little or No Money
By Kathryn Jones
Marketing. Yes, it takes courage, ingenuity and money. But if you do it right, respecting those who help you, your book marketing will find its own way with little cash outflow.
Here are some dime store ideas that have helped me market my own books:
• Start with some postcards. One side of the postcard has your book cover, on the other side is a synopsis of your book and contact information. I have business cards too, but I like postcards because more information can be put on the card and a postcard is much harder to lose.
• Get some book reviews. There are many book reviewers online, and most of them will read your book via PDF. That means that you’re not putting out money for a copy of your book and paying for mailing fees. If a reviewer says that they only take hard copies of books, ask if they would mind taking a PDF of yours. Because my book, Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones, was only 104 pages, I was able to convince most reviewers that my book would be no trouble to read on the Kindle. To search for reviewers, plug in “book reviewers” or “book bloggers” in your search engine. Also check blogs for a listing of blogs the reviewer reads.
• Guest Blog. Yes, that’s what I’m doing now. Search sites by putting “guest blog” into the search engine. Look over the sites and blogs that come up and choose to write for those sites that fit in with your book or include a subject that you have knowledge about. Query with a short note describing your book and where it’s sold. Mention that you’d like to guest blog.
• Find free advertising. Dee’s Reading Room is a great place to start. To search, plug “free book advertising” into your search.
• Use social media to get the word out. Social media doesn’t cost you a cent, and you can let others following you know when your book will be out, when you have book reviews posted, when and where you’ll be doing book signings, etc. Social media is a real winner and is a MUST for promoting your book. I use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
• Speak at events. FREE if you have to. Try book groups, writing conferences, and non-profit organizations that fit with your book’s theme. Share your love of writing and sell your books at the end of the event.
Book Marketing becomes an inexpensive process, one filled with ingenuity and courage, once you decide to do all you can to market your book. Purchasing Conquering Your Goliaths at:
Kathryn has been a published writer since 1987. She has published various newspaper stories, magazine articles, essays and short stories for teens and adults. She is the author of: A River of Stones, a young adult fiction novel dealing with divorce published in 2002, and Conquering your Goliaths—A Parable of the Five Stones, a Christian novel published in January of 2012. Her newest creation, a Conquering your Goliaths—Guidebook, was published February of 2012.
A chilling , twisted story unfolds in Best Seller by Timothy B. Sagges.
Writer Richard Rossi has long dreamed of getting his manuscript published. When his next door neighbor says she can show it to someone she knows, he's more than thrilled. Richard soon signs a contract to see the book published--with a few changes.
Publisher Seth Volos sure seems to know what he's doing. Soon Richard's book hits the top of every bestsellers list in America. He travels the country promoting it, until he begins to notice a horrifying pattern develop amongst his fans. Sometimes obtaining your dreams comes with unexpected consequences.
With Best Seller, director and playwright Timothy B. Sagges delivers a horrifying thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat. A masterfully told story blends together with carefully crafted characters to provide a page-turning read you won't be able to put down. The ending is surprising and superbly handled. Stephen King fans would enjoy this one. I look forward to more from this talented author.
Just in time for the release of The Hunger Games movie, comes an unauthorized guide from award-winning author, Valerie Estelle Frankel.
Katniss the Cattailprovides fans of Suzanne Collins's series a detailed look into the names and symbols found in all three books: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay.
From Alma Coin to York, from bows and arrows to Snake, and a thorough discussion of Katniss, Peeta and Gale, this book provides historical and literary background information on everyone and everything you could imagine from the books. Civil War admirals, Roman leaders, Persian kings and those made famous by Shakespeare's plays fill its pages. You'll soon discover the characters of Panem mean a lot more than their odd-sounding names.
Frankel also provides information on "Allusions to Literature and Life," discussing dystopia, history, Greek and Roman mythology and reality TV. The final pages of the book include a list of names by origin and the districts and their products.
This is a superb book for any lover of The Hunger Games series. It would also be an excellent resource for writers, showing the importance of carefully considering the names of their characters. Be warned, however, this book contains many spoilers, so it's a good idea to finish the series before reading it.
Blood: The New Red begins at an after party where Mickey, and ex-adult movie star turned supermodel, is aligning himself with one of the top Designers of Seventh Avenue. While trying to land a job on the runway Mickey is thrown into the center of a scene where sex is often the motivation, the wine is served by year, and cocaine is back in full force. Juanita, Mickey’s girlfriend is having difficulties staying sober, fully clothed, and off of her famous boyfriend.
Mickey goes to work for Fashion icon Paul Johnson, one of the two top Designers in NYC. The other is Sandy Johnson, another Designer who will stop at nothing including murder to guarantee victory. A runway exhibition has been scheduled for the two to compete in and find out who truly is the best Johnson. Mickey will be Paul’s top model, and Sandy has found a homeless person nicknamed Kung Fu Master to show his line.
In addition to getting his new line in place, Paul Johnson is also buying chain saws, the louder the better, to put the special in this special event.
Did you know that you can’t be sentenced to prison if actively seeking help at a mental facility? Paul Johnson knows this.
Somewhere between the girls, counting Vicodin pills, and show preparation Mickey has grown a conscience and no longer likes what he sees. He believes (and his psychiatrist agrees) that he has the power to change what’s happening around him.
Read an excerpt!
Always look like a rock star. This is the number one secret on how to be famous. I’m wearing chains, lots of chains. Eye shadow, lots of eye shadow. I wouldn’t say my pants are tight, but then again, my balls might disagree with you at the moment.
I’m standing on the second level of the Grand Hotel, overlooking the bar area. My manager tells me this is where I need to be standing. In five minutes I will move across the room and stand next to a long mirror where one of the Hiltons will walk by and notice my reflection. A photographer will be close by and be sure to get the picture. This mirror has been placed here for this sole purpose. My manager tells me not to stare at the mirror. If you asked me to list my weaknesses, this may be my number one fault.
DJ Shingles, the newest (which means hottest) DJ, is playing on a middle level between the first and second floors. There is barely enough room for him let alone the overflowing ashtray and oversized stocking cap. Rumor has it this is his last show, despite this being his first. There is talk that he is moving into production and will be working with a major player in the hip hop industry, depending on who is hot at the time. DJ Shingles is wearing an Armani black button-down shirt with the sleeves ripped off. Very last year, but this is more a statement than a miscalculation on his part. Last season is the new season.
My manager signals for me to make my way across toward the mirror. A reporter from GQ is following me and asking me questions about who I’m going to sign with and whether or not my past will affect my future. I get her number, tell her I’ll call her later, and then blow her off as I approach the mirror. Always leak your press, never tell. This is secret number three on how to be famous.
Four widescreen televisions are fastened to the wall behind the bar. All are showing TMZ. An orange haired girl wearing a Betsey Johnson dress sees me staring at the television sets. She walks over and whispers in my ear, “It’s the new CNN.”
A waiter carrying a tray of wine from 1980 is walking by. Every 15 minutes another waiter, another tray, another year will walk by. Welcome to the world of fashion parties. Ten percent content, ninety percent presentation.
A man who goes by the name Dontay hands me a coffee cup that is full of scotch. My manager tells me to sip it and not cheers anyone. Any buzz that insinuates I’ve been in rehab and have put my porn career in the past is good press and can only help my modeling career. As scheduled, I’m approached by someone with the last name Hilton.
The Hilton is wearing a blouse that is considered the color Ocean, the new blue, but since Aquamarine blue was in fact the new blue for last season and last season is in this season, no one should be caught dead in Ocean. Unless of course she is being ironic. If so, she will have to mention this to at least three people during the course of the evening.
“Mickey, you’re back! I mean, uh…” Hilton looks at the coffee cup. “Welcome back!” She tips her coffee cup to me.
I glance around at the guest list, wondering who has the most juice at the party, but am distracted by the waiter walking through with wines from 1990.
“Good year for cabernets,” Hilton says, then grabs her blouse. “Last season is the new season, huh? Fuck that.” She laughs and looks fidgety as lights pop around us. At one point Hilton puts her arm around me and kisses me on the cheek. FLASH. Mission accomplished.
“I miss you, Mickey. We should get together sometime, you know, have a cup of coffee, fuck, or something.”
Sure, I tell her and then she leaves because she has a rule about spending over forty hours a week on the Lower East Side and this season many Fashion Week parties have been in LES, the new SoHo.
According to my manager, I need to make my way to a reserved table next to the bar where Paul Johnson is sitting. My manager also says to ignore the temptation of champagne. I have a job to do tonight.
When I approach, Paul gets up from his table and gives me a hug. “Welcome back, Mick. We’ve missed you.” I tell Paul great show and congratulations on the new line, then look at the table and see they are all drinking 1986 chardonnay and there’s a small mountain of cocaine in the center of the table. Paul looks at my cup and asks me if I need another coffee and I tell him I’m okay and then he proceeds to introduce me to the guests at his table, which include Lindsay Lohan, Jay Z, John Stamos, and four models I’ve never met but have bumped into during my previous job. One is a brunette with piercing blue eyes that I may have even shot a scene with but am not positive since I never saw much of her face. I pull out a pack of Camel non-filtered cigarettes and light one up. Paul asks me to join them. My manager agrees, so I grab a seat. The brunette tells me I look familiar, John Stamos says the same, and I grab a random razor from the ashtray and cut a line for myself.
Paul follows my lead, does a line and then lifts his head. There are still remnants of powder on his nose, but judging from his smile, he doesn’t care. “Mickey, I want you to be my feature model, and I want to use you for my next project. What do you say?”
No one has ever turned down an offer from Paul Johnson, one of the top two designers in New York City. I consider saying no, just to make history, but my manager doesn’t agree with this decision, so I put some cocaine on the razor blade and turn toward the brunette. On cue she lowers her dress, revealing her left nipple. I dump the coke onto the top of her left breast, move in, and snort it. She giggles and then says, “Now I remember you.”
I excuse myself from the table because my manager has me scheduled to bump into Sandy Johnson near the men’s restroom in three minutes. On my way to my spot, Dontay walks past and hands me a full coffee cup and slips me the number of John Stamos, “Just in case,” he says.
Sandy exits the bathroom with his fly unzipped, hand in hand with Stan, his boy toy for the night, laughing and then flagging down a waiter holding a sign: 2002. My manager has strategically placed me between Sandy and the waiter so Sandy notices me and walks over. “Mickey! My God, you look fabulous!” Sandy gives me half-hug and cups my buttocks, then mentions that he has heard a lot of rumors involving me and the porn industry. I just laugh and tell him there’s nothing wrong with franchising my body.
“Amen to that.” Sandy turns to Stan and tells him to fetch him a glass of 2002 because he needs to talk business. Sandy surveys the scene and leans in to me. “Fabulous, isn’t it?” I nod and then Sandy says, “Just murderous!”
Sandy moves next to me and puts his arm around my shoulder. “Did you see my show today?” It was great and congratulations I tell him but am cut off as he tries to say something, pauses, then finally says, “So I see you were talking with Paul.”
I take a drink of Johnnie Walker and then say, “Yeah, actually he just offered me a job.”
Sandy grabs his heart. “Oh, the betrayal! I think I’m going to faint.” Stan appears out of nowhere with a chair for Sandy to sit down in and hands him a glass of wine. Sandy takes a drink and agrees that it is indeed 2002 and this seems to settle him. “Mickey, baby, we go way back. Your first runway, I believe. Honey, you need to come work for me, not that…” Sandy flickers over toward Paul, “beast!”
My manager tells me that I need to step outside because Juanita, my girl, can’t get inside because she refuses to wear shoes and has just put out a joint on the bouncer’s arm.
I tell Sandy thank you, and he says he’ll be in touch. I lean into his ear and let him know his pants are unzipped and he says, “I know, it’s the new sign.”
I finish my cup of scotch and walk outside where Juanita is not only not wearing shoes but is also not wearing any pants, only a light purple Versace thong. The bouncer notices me and tells me that he doesn’t have a problem with the thong, but there’s a policy regarding the shoes. I let him know I understand and then buy a gram of cocaine off of him. I put Juanita in my limo and give her the gram to keep her busy. “I need to go inside and finish some business. I’ll be right back,” I tell her but she doesn’t hear a word, already ripping open the gram and cutting three lines. “Thanks baby!” I hear her yell as I shut the door.
Back inside, my manager wants me to be on the right side of the bar because the glow from the light accentuates my features best. I look over and see Paul Johnson telling a story that I’m guessing involves a Hollywood movie star, too much champagne, and no panties while he decides which two models he is going to take home tonight. On the other side, Sandy Johnson is whispering into the ear of Stan and undoubtedly outing many of the stars here tonight. Presently, in between sips of three-hundred-dollar glasses of wine, they are pointing at Andy Garcia and nodding.
Paul Johnson versus Sandy Johnson, the two top designers in the city, fighting for the top spot. Fashion Designer of the Year. Earlier today Paul introduced a new line of furs despite the protest of PETA outside their tents at Bryant Park. At the end of the show Paul had all of his models come out onto the stage wearing nothing but fur and had a man with a wiry mustache throw goat blood all over all of them as Paul screamed, “It’s the new red!”
Meanwhile, across the park, Sandy Johnson displayed his new men’s line on the runway by having his male models hold the garments as they strutted naked and hard. Rumor has it there was no “fluffer” required. Sandy Johnson can be hands-on when required.
Both shows received standing ovations. The debate over which show was better continues. Paul versus Sandy, good versus evil, although in this case it is not clear who is playing which role. There was talk at one point that for Paul’s next line, Eternal, a model would be executed on the runway.
As I light a Camel, my manager notifies me that Paul is approaching. “Mickey, be in my office first thing tomorrow.” When Paul says tomorrow, he means 8AM tomorrow.
Too quick for even my manager to notice, Sandy comes up and asks me if I’m seeing anyone and I mention Juanita, which leads to a disappointed face and he tells me to stop by in the morning to discuss working for him. When Sandy says tomorrow morning, he means never.
My manager is noncommittal but pleased. We have accomplished our goal for the night. I glance over at Paul Johnson, then over at Sandy Johnson, the two kings, bitter rivals and not related. Simply known around the city as The Johnsons.
Walking out of the Grand, I look over at my limo. The window is rolled down and Juanita appears to have passed out. I walk over to my driver and tell him to take her home. As I turn back toward the club there is a TMZ camera in my face. “Mickey! Mickey! Who are you going with?” I light a Camel, remove my aviators, and look into the camera. “I’m going with Johnson! You can use that!” FLASH.
I reach into my pocket and grab the number of the GQ reporter and call her. We agree to meet at Lucky Sevens at Rivington and Stanton.
After we talk, she sends me a text message that reads: CAN’T WAIT TO GET MY LIPS AROUND YOU.
I go back to the doorway of the Grand (where I can hear “Mama Said Knock You Out” over the speakers), score another gram, stop off in the bathroom for a line, and then catch a cab to Lucky Sevens. In the cab the song “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis is playing. I cut a line and offer it up to the cab driver, who can’t snort it fast enough. I do a line and sit back, smiling.
Act like you’ve lived this moment a hundred times over. This is the forty-third secret on how to be famous.
Praise for other books by Grant includes:
"Stuck somewhere between J.D. Salinger, Chuck Palahniuk and Bret Easton Ellis, author David S. Grant delves into the life of a modern misanthrope whose drug usage would make Hunter S. Thompson envious. Grant's laid-back style makes the misadventures of Jeremy and his drug addled buddies an easy pill to swallow. David S. Grant is an author to watch.” —Stefan Halley, Pop Syndicate
“Grant writes like an artist paints. There is a lot left to interpretation. Is this book for everyone? No. It is for those who truly understand the artistic side to writing.” —Stephanie Rollins (Emotionless Souls)
“Moments of suspense mixed with off-the-wall humor make Hollywood Ending a smile-inducing, feel-good read that you simply can’t miss—and that makes David S. Grant an author to keep an eye on.” —Margaret Marr, Nights and Weekends
David S. Grant is the author of ten books including Corporate Porn, Bleach|Blackout, Hollywood Ending, and Rock Stars. His latest novel, Blood: The New Red, is now available. David lives and writes his weekly rock, travel, and NBA columns from New York City. For more information go to http://www.davidsgrant.com Twitter: @david_s_grant
Fifty-year-old actor, director and playwright, Tim Sagges has been tormented by a series of recurring night terrors since 1967, long before there was a name for such a curse. It is only recently that he has found the courage to formulate some of these visions into works of literature. In an effort to purge himself of the unrelenting horror of his dreams, he has created Best Seller, the first in a series of nightmares exorcised from his mind and onto the page.
In an act of desperation for fame and wealth, our aspiring writer agrees to allow the “publisher” to make some changes to the story, The Keeper of the Key. As always, the Devil is in the details. The changes that are made to the story add a certain edginess to what had been intended to be a children’s story, ala Harry Potter.
Nationwide, children embrace the book. They seem to inhale every word, so much so that they become the characters in the story, ala Never Ending Story. Here’s the rub...the story, The Keeper of the Key, does not have a happy ending.
Are you asking yourself, what happens to the legions of the book’s fans? So do the FBI and the CDC.
What inspired you to write it?
As trite as it sounds, a really bad dream.
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
Amazon.com, BN.com, BestSeller-Book.com
What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?
To commemorate the centenary of the Titanic disaster, Amanda Grange's Titanic Affair has been reissued in e-book format with a new cover. I didn't know that when I decided to download it, but I love the concept of easy reissues created by digital books.
BLURB: Emilia Cavendish is given a first class ticket on board Titanic and sets out to start a new life with her godmother. The first few days aboard the world-famous 'unsinkable' liner are everything she hoped for as she enjoys the unaccustomed luxuries of the fabulous ship. She makes new friends amongst her fellow passengers - not least the darkly handsome, if somewhat overbearing, Carl Latimer. But when Titanic hits the iceberg, Emilia finds herself in danger from an old enemy on board, and as she struggles to escape him, Titanic starts to sink. . .
COVER: If I hadn't discovered this is the reissue of a hardcover, I might not have thought as much about the cover art as I am. I love this new one, but it is vastly different from the original seen below. The new cover adds a more feminine air and focuses on the main character, Emilia Cavendish, whereas the original capitalizes on the adventurous aspects of the storyline. Perhaps the original cover appealed to a larger audience than the new one. I'm thinking mostly women will be captured by the pale colors and delicate accents.
FIRST CHAPTER: The opening of this book finds Emilia Cavendish packing for her journey and quickly escaping her apartment with the help of her landlady, Mrs. Wichwood. She is pursued by Mr. Barker, who is the hired henchman of the wealthy Mr. Montmerency. After giving Barker the slip, Emilia is thrilled for the Titanic to pull away from the dock, with her safe on board. Her troubles are far from over, however, when she runs into another wealthy man who is used to getting his way, Carl Latimer.
KEEP READING: Absolutely. Grange has set up a suspense-filled story with this opening chapter. Smartly, she doesn't reveal why Emilia is being pursued yet, making the reader want to continue to the next chapter and hopefully find out. With this young woman, eager to start her new life, the author also helps to capture the excitement of the day when Titanic launched its maiden--and only--voyage. With the fate of the Titanic already known, the reader is impatient to discover how Emilia will deal with the ship hitting the iceberg. And since the blurb indicates that perhaps someone boarded the ship without Emilia's knowledge, she is certain this won't be a slow read. I know I can't wait to finish it.
File Size: 386 KB
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
I downloaded a free Kindle version of this book for my reading pleasure. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.
Valerie Stocking was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, and wrote her first short story when she was five. When she was eight, she won a short story contest in Jack and Jill Magazine. She wrote her first play at the age of ten. In 1966, when she was twelve, she and her mother moved to a small town in Florida where they lived for a year. During this time, Valerie experienced difficulties with the public school system, tried a Seventh Day Adventist school briefly, and then dropped out altogether. It was her experiences during this year that inspired The Promised Land. Later, she would finish high school, graduate from college and earn a Master’s degree in Cinema Studies from NYU.
For nearly 30 years, she wrote and edited in various capacities, including copywriting, newspaper articles, and short stories. She wrote nearly 20 full-length and one act plays over a ten year period, which have been performed throughout the U.S. and Canada. She edited books for audio, abridging over 100 novels in a 6-year period. In 2010, she published her first novel, A Touch of Murder, which is the first of what will become the Samantha Kern mystery series. It was nominated for a Global eBook Award in 2011 for Best Mystery.
Valerie lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her dog and cat, and is working on her next novel.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure! I was born in Waterbury Connecticut more years ago than I care to reveal. I’ve been an avid writer and reader from an early age. For more than 30 years, I’ve been involved with all different kinds of writing, and love it all! When did you begin writing?
When I was 5. My mother was a writer, and I used to read what she wrote on the sly. I was captivated with the idea of telling a story, so I dictated one called “Princess Blue Eyes” which my father dutifully took down. He seemed genuinely interested in it, and kept wanting to know what was going to happen next. I loved that I could hold somebody’s attention by telling stories. I was hooked! Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?
I write mostly during the day, although once in a while I get inspiration late at night and get up out of bed to write notes or a synopsis. What is this book about? The Promised Land is a coming of age story about an adolescent girl’s forbidden friendship with a biracial boy in a small Florida town in 1966.
What inspired you to write it?
I spent a memorable year in a small Florida town when I was 12. A lot happened to me that year, and I wanted to write about it, but I also wanted to address the racial tensions that were ongoing at that time. So I mixed fact with fiction, and that led to The Promised Land. Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?
I am not a member of a critique group at the moment. I have people whom I trust will be honest with me, and who are very experienced and capable critics. They read my work when I’m initially done with it and can’t figure out where to go next. Also, editors I’ve worked with have provided invaluable feedback. Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?
No, and no. I prefer self-publishing. Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
The easiest way is to go to Amazon and type my name in the search bar under “Books.” Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
My website is www.valeriestocking.com. I publish a blog twice weekly. Mondays is a potpourri of subjects, ranging from 1960’s Memories to Ghost Stories to a Writer’s Journal. Thursdays I am serializing a Samantha Kern mystery called Color Me Dead. What is up next for you?
Next is the sequel to my first Samantha Kern mystery, A Touch of Murder. The new one is called, Seen of the Crime. I have it done in draft form, but it still needs quite a bit of work. Then, I’m going to write a paranormal suspense novel. After that, either another Samantha Kern, or the sequel to The Promised Land. Is there anything you would like to add?
It’s been a pleasure being here. Thanks for having me!
Rozsa Gaston is an author who writes serious books on playful matters. She is the author of Paris Adieu, Dogsitters, Budapest Romance, Lyric, Running from Love and the soon to be released Paris Adieu sequel, Black is Not a Color Unless Worn By a Blonde. Rozsa studied European intellectual history at Yale, and then received her master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia. In between Rozsa worked as a singer/pianist all over the world. She currently lives in Connecticut with her family.
I always wanted to be someone else when I was a child. I was raised by my grandparents as an only child, and I always wanted to have brothers and sisters and a father and mother around. I think a lot of readers may relate to those unfulfilled longings.
Where did you grow up?
West Hartford, Connecticut.
What is your fondest childhood memory?
Sitting out on the back patio in the summertime with my grandmother, looking at the sun go down over Avon Mountain while sipping black cows. I wrote a short story about it -- "Black Cows at Sunset."
When did you begin writing?
Eight years ago in July, our daughter received a diagnosis of a permanent condition. I couldn't process it. That August I holed up in our study for the entire month and wrote my first book, Mystique. I was hooked on writing after that.
Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?
I'm like Balzac in my writing habits. He used to write everyday from seven to eleven am then break to go out to a cafe for lunch, then spend the rest of the day doing other things.
I write from eight am to one pm, Mondays through Fridays. I'd love to go out to a cafe afterward, where I could sip a cappucino while editing my work. I just can't find any cafes in my neighborhood to go out to. It's probably just as well, since I have an eleven-year-old, a two-year-old, a husband and a dog to keep me busy when I'm not writing.
What is this book about?
Paris Adieu is a coming of age tale of self-discovery and self-acceptance.
The book has two themes: 1) how to be comfortable in your own skin and 2) how to fake it till you make it.
Paris Adieu's heroine, Ava Fodor, is clueless about both at the start of the book. By the end, she's figured out a thing or two - thanks to the insights living in Paris has given her. Ava studies French women, French food, French attitude - while French men study her. By the final chapters of Paris Adieu, she's more or less transformed herself into the woman she wants to be. And if she hasn't entirely, at least she's learned how to fake it till she makes it.
What inspired you to write it?
The inspiration for Paris Adieu is the plump, frizzy-haired nineteen-year-old girl I once was, who went to Paris as an au pair and discovered I didn't need to be anything other than who I was to be fabulous. Okay, I'm still working on it... If you're working on being fabulous too, read my book.
Who is your favorite author?
Françoise Sagan really bowled me over with Bonjour Tristesse. I'd love to hate her since she wrote it when she was seventeen, but I'm too busy learning from her for her spare, elegant prose style.
Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?
My agent is Sharon Belcastro of Belcastro Agency and she is one fabulous chica who has her finger on the pulse of what readers want and where the publishing industry is heading. Check her out on the Belcastro Agency Facebook Page.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?
I have two pieces of advice I'd like to share.
Never stop writing. Write because you love to write, because you can't live without writing. The more you write, the more your writing will improve.
Don't be afraid to offer the same message again and again. If it's a good one, people will want to hear it again and again. Messages on forgiveness, sacrificial love, revenge, ambition, passion, loss, desire don't get old. Readers will always be interested if they're delivered in readable, well-crafted prose.
What is up next for you?
I'm hard at work on Paris Adieu's sequel, Black is Not a Color ... Unless Worn by a Blonde. It's the story of Ava's relationship with her father, who has a heart attack soon after she returns to New York from Paris. Caring for him consumes her, putting the brakes on her budding romance with Pierre, the Frenchman she has met at the end of Paris Adieu. There's another more important man in her life whom she needs to figure out first.
Zsolt Fodor is a Hungarian poet fond of saying crazy, cryptic things such as "black is not a color unless worn by a blonde." No one understands him, foremost of all, his daughter. Ava learns how to accept, love, and care for the man who fathered, but didn't raise her. It's a struggle, but with the help of friends she's made at her new job at the United Nations - a few Serbs and a Romanian - she begins to understand something of her father's own fractured background and the difficulties he has endured as an immigrant in New York City. By learning to love and forgive her father, Ava learns how to look at men in a new light. But is it too late to find Pierre again? I can't wait to finish the story and find out myself, so I can share it with my readers.
Open the pages of Little Did I Knowby Mitchell Maxwell and discover an engaging historical coming of age novel that is rich in description.
When Sam August finds an advertisement in the local paper about an historic theater for rent in Plymouth, MA, the wheels in his mind start turning. Along with his college friends, JB, Secunda, James and Elliot, they decide to create a summer theater program like no one has ever seen. Of course, Sam didn't count on Dr. Anderson Barrows, owner of the Priscilla Beach Theatre being a thorn in his side. He also didn't count on meeting Veronica, who sets his heart to racing. But maybe Sam is the promised one. Perhaps everything he touches can turn to gold.
From the first page of this titillating novel, Maxwell weaves a story of summer musical theater on a grand scale. His prose is filled with rich descriptions, sports references, and plenty of sex, drugs, and profanity. Sam is a strong and engaging narrator. It's 1976 and he's graduated from college and looking for the next best thing. His friends are eager to support his endeavors, so they go along for the ride. The reader follows them through ups and downs, fun-filled nights and argumentative days where super sized egos threaten to bring the house crashing down.
I had a few challenges with this novel. The first was the editing. Missing opening or closing quotes and missing words were frequent enough that I found it distracting. While there is tons of conflict, everything seems to turn up rosy for Sam. With a speech or a carefully written letter, he's able to turn around his enemies and convince his colleagues to play just like Joe DiMaggio. The overuse of the F-word drove me crazy. Everyone said it and they said it often. It might not be unrealistic, but it was too overdone for me.
Overall, it was an enjoyable novel, and I'm glad I read it. I would look for more books from this author in the future.
Title: Little Did I Know
Author: Mitchell Maxwell
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Prospecta Press; First Edition edition (September 27, 2011)
SRP: $25.00 (also available for Kindle)
I received a free copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.
This is the thirteenth book I've read for the following challenge:
It is the eighth book I've read for the following challenge:
Some news makes you feel older than others. I remember using our set of Encyclopaedia Britannica for research papers in school. Libraries still have copies of them; though I wonder when the last time is one has been cracked open.
Today it was announced that Encyclopaedia Britannica is halting the sale of its print edition after 244 years and moving to solely online content.
Is this a surprising move?
No, but it just one more thing that shows we're becoming a digital world. It also indicates the publishing world continues to change at the speed of light.
Do I think paperbacks and hardcovers will go the way of the dinosaur?
Not anytime soon. Three or four generations down the road maybe, but right now printed books are still a necessary commodity.
When's the last time you perfomed research using a printed encyclopedia? Do your children rely solely on online content for research? Will this latest move make libraries seem obsolete?
BLURB: Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement. That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut.
Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry.
COVER: Like I said before, I thought this one was neat. In addition to walking on the wall, I like the summer look to the young lady, especially her shoes. The "Sister-to-Sister" emblem is a nice touch.
FIRST CHAPTER: Joan Sanderson is working her job at the furniture store when she receives a phone call from her mother. Gram's obsessive-compulsive behavior is at it again and it's driving Joan's mother insane. Joan lives with her mother and Gram, so she's used to these conversations. A young couple arrives to temporarily distract her, but her sister Allie soon calls to read her the riot act for hanging up on their mother. Her day goes from bad to worse when she runs into her ex (nicely named Roger the Rat) while on lunch break.
KEEP READING: Definitely. I love Smith's style. She's created an interesting and sympathetic character in Joan, a woman who wants more out of life than she has, and one who watches while her sisters live lives she wishes she had. I really want to see how her story turns out.
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 1799 KB
Publisher: Revell (February 1, 2008)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Current price FREE
I downloaded a free copy for my Kindle. I received no monetary compensation for this review.
I love books. Why else would I be blogging about them--at numerous sites? I've learned to appreciate the written word, and how challenging it can be to craft a book that someone else will enjoy. I fail at it miserably more often than not. I struggle with plot, showing versus telling, and character development.
While it's definitely more fun to read a book that totally captivates you, even those books you don't care for can teach you something.
You get a feel for what works in a book and what doesn't. I recently read a book where there was tons of conflict, but everything turned up rosy for the protagonist in the end. Each time he was presented with a challenge, he met it. Whose life is actually like that?
You learn the importance of good editing. Self-publishing gets a bad rap for this, but typographical errors, grammar errors, and inconsistencies can plague any manuscript. I once read a book by a New York Times best selling author where the protagonist used his belt to escape after he had been kidnapped. Not a bad idea, if the kidnappers hadn't confiscated the belt at the end of the last chapter.
I'm known for occasionally stepping outside my comfort zone when it comes to genres. It's rare I enjoy science-fiction or fantasy, but I've read a few books in those genres. I can appreciate good writing, no matter what genre it is.
You learn to appreciate readers. I've read books whose back cover blurbs had little to do with the actual story or embellished the book's contents. Writers have an unspoken contract with the reader that what they say is in the book should be there. If you can't honestly tell a reader what's inside, why should they buy your book?
I haven't enjoyed every book I've reviewed at my blogs. Overall, however, I have been satisfied. I can honestly say, though, that even if I didn't care for a book, I always learned something from it.
BLURB: RUN THE RACE WITH FREEDOM. The Christian life is supposed to be like a race--a race we run freely, unhindered by the burdens of this life. But often, the baggage we carry holds us back. It deprives us of our freedom in Christ and makes the race seem strenuous and futile. No matter what your age, circumstance, or spiritual maturity, Cynthia Heald will help you identify and lay aside the burdens that can make you feel "stuck," including past hurt and loss, poor self-image, approval-seeking, busyness, doubt and fear, and unhealthy influences.
COVER: Simple, yet elegant. It follows the same design as other books in the best selling Becoming A Woman of series. I love the font they use for the title.
FIRST CHAPTER: Because I've never read any books in this series, I started with the beginning, which means I read the suggestions for using this Bible study, and the Preface. The Preface shares a touching story of a woman who felt no matter how much she loved God and wanted to do His will, something was holding her back from experiencing joy of freedom in Christ.
Chapter One is titled, "Laying Aside Hindrances: Running with Freedom." This first chapter is set up as Bible verses, famous quotes, questions, and exercises. Along the way, the author talks about how God has delivered us from, "the law of sin and death. and from the tyranny of self." Readers are asked to explore Romans 6:15-23 to find out what our part in experiencing freedom is. She talks about fixing our eyes on Jesus. This is followed by the Author's Reflection and Your Reflection, where you are asked to write down your thoughts in response to two questions. Before ending, the reader is provided with a Suggested Scripture Memory ver, in this case it is Hebrews 12:1.
KEEP READING: Yes. I downloaded this book for a specific reason. Though I am not unhappy in my life, I still struggle to give up control to God. In addition, I feel my miserable childhood is an obstacle to me as a woman of God, a wife and mother. I fall back on bad habits displayed by my parents. In all fairness, they didn't have the greatest childhoods either, but the cycle needs to end so that my girls can grow up, happy, healthy, and confident. While I don't believe one book--outside of the Bible--can be responsible for a transformation, my hope is that I will gain the tools I need to move forward.
I like Heald's comforting and encouraging style, and the chapters are short enough that I can make it through them one at a time without impacting my regular schedule too much.
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 1004 KB
Publisher: NavPress; New Edition edition (June 29, 2005)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
I downloaded a Kindle version of this book when it was free. I received no monetary compensation to provide this review.
In Nuclear Romance, a debut novel by New York journalist and writer Abby Luby, the tragic death of a 7-year-old girl – after swimming at a beach across from a nuclear power plant – sets off a chain of events that involve a sports journalist, an anti-nuclear activist, a grieving mother and her son. A young woman reporter falls prey to a callous plant executive whose job depends on keeping the multi-billion dollar nuclear corporation viable. Set in the US Northeast, the terrifying story that unravels the cause of the girl’s death coincides with growing local anti-nuclear sentiment. The tension escalates after highly radioactive steam escapes from the plant, forcing a mass evacuation.
This novel grips readers’ imaginations with the tension and fear that surround many of today’s nuclear power plants, especially powerful in the aftermath of Japan’s recent and still unfolding nuclear disaster.
Abby Luby is a freelance journalist who, for over ten years, has covered nuclear power, particularly issues surrounding the Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York. Her articles have appeared in The New York Daily News, The Villager, The Westchester Guardian, The Real Deal, SolveClimateNews, The North County News and the Record Review. She also writes for the Poughkeepsie Journal, The Stamford Advocate/Greenwich Time, Valley Table Magazine, Roll Magazine, Hearst publications HealthyLivingCT, Living@HomeCT covering news, art, food and health. She teaches writing and literature at Marist College.
I love a good mystery. It's no wonder when I receive notice of a list of free mysteries for my Kindle, I download more than I should. It would not surprise me to find over half of the books on my Kindle are in this genre.
BLURB: Haley Farrell is taking a chance on herself. After receiving her interior design certificate, she quits her job at the local furniture store and decides to open her own interior decorating business. But with all the advantages of her new career-meeting new people, and decorating new and old homes-comes a huge pitfall. Her new job allows her access into her clients' homes and their lives . . . but also their deaths.
When Haley's mentor, Marge Norwalk, is murdered, Haley becomes the prime suspect. Armed only with the confidence that Marge instilled in her, Haley sets out to find the real murderer. But as she sets forth, she has no idea what twists and turns will bring her face-to-face with her long-hidden past.
COVER: Love it. Though I think the woman on the cover is a bit smaller than the person I read about in the first chapter, the layout definitely alludes to the occupation of the main character--interior designer Haley Farell. The woman looking behind her could symbolize the past Haley is running from or looking back at a killer. The one thing it doesn't portray at all is that it's a Christian cozy mystery.
FIRST CHAPTER: We meet Haley Farell at the auction of the Gerrity mansion. Her mentor, Marge Norwalk is supporting her decision to leave a job at a furniture store to start her own interior design business, Decorating $ense. Hoping to land a job working for Noreen Daventry to redecorate the Gerrity mansion once the rich woman's bid is (hopefully) accepted to purchase the home, she offers advice on what items from the house Noreen should bid on. When Marge doesn't return from lunch break, Haley helps in the search, which ends with a gruesome discovery.
KEEP READING: Maybe. A murder coming at the end of the first chapter definitely makes you want to read more, but is that enough to keep going? The opening isn't bad, but I wish it were a bit different. There are several characters introduced in this chapter: seven, in addition to mentions of a few other people in town. The reader also discovers a good deal of information quickly. Haley is a pastor's child, who also happens to own a brown belt in martial arts. She quit her job at the furniture store to open up her own interior design business at the encouragement of Marge and some of the other church ladies. Her mother is deceased and there is a mountain of bills to conquer. With Haley begging the ancient floors not to give way and a mention of her healthy frame, it seems she might not be the most petite girl.
The reader is also treated to back story on some of the characters present at the auction. It's a very busy chapter. Not overwhelming, but busy. The only indication that this is a Christian novel is the Bible verse that precedes the first chapter and the fact that the main character is a pastor's daughter. I might read another chapter to see how it goes.
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 1423 KB
Publisher: Revell (September 1, 2005)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Currently listed as FREE.
I downloaded a free copy of this book to my Kindle. I received no monetary compensation for this review.
Sister Madeleine, a cloistered nun at St. Winifred's, emerges from seclusion when she receives word that Howard Barley, a former comrade and global publishing tycoon, has died under strange and grisly circumstances. And he's not the only one. Several of her former comrades and friends have been murdered.
Madeleine and her young postulant, Roberta, take up residence on Barley's estate, Milkwood Hall, which has been bequeathed to Madeleine, along with the rest of his fortune. The women soon find themselves in extreme danger. Odd noises, disappearing rooms, mysterious messages and more, force Madeleine to rely on skills she thought she had left behind, so that she can capture a killer before she becomes his next victim.
In many ways Force of Habit is a superb book. The main character is unique. The author has a talent for pulling his reader into the story and keeping her engaged. It's funny, but it's also an action-packed story with tons of twists and turns.
The book needed an editor to polish it a bit, but it didn't distract much from the story. What disappointed me was the ending. Now, it seems this is the first book of a planned series, so I am willing to give an author leeway in creating an ending that will encourage readers to pick up the next book, but I don't care for loose ends. Books in a series, especially mysteries, are usually self-contained so they provide a satisfying reading experience. Some readers might not mind this style. I felt frustrated that I was left hanging after spending my time reading the book.
If you enjoy quirky, unique, humorous mysteries, you'll want to give Force of Habit by Cash Peters a try.
Title: Force of Habit
Author: Cash Peters
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 1003 KB
Publisher: Penner Inc (December 2, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Currently only 99 cents!
I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation of any kind to provide this review.
This is the twelfth book I've read for the following challenge:
It is the seventh book I've read for the following challenge:
It is the fourth book I've read for the following challenge:
It is the second book I've read for the following challenge: