Monday, August 31, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - Aug 31

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

Well, it's here. The end of August and the first day of school. Who thought we would ever see the day our daughter returned to campus? I sure didn't think it would happen this year. They are testing everyone on campus twice a week and have made a tons of adjustments to keep everyone as safe as possible. Let's pray it works.

My schedule is getting hectic again. My calendar has little white space. In some ways, I feel good about it. In others, I've been happy hanging out mostly at home and not exposing myself to unnecessary cooties.

In my reading world, I reviewed the following:

Read review here

Read review here

Read review here

My review of this one will appear on September 9. 

I started this one yesterday. I'm not sure when my review will be posted yet.

I am also about to start this one.

My review for this next one will appear at An Imperfect Christian Mom on September 30.

The next few will appear at The Children's and Teens' Book Connection.

Then I will settle down to read something I want to read for the sake of reading it. Maybe one of these:

How many books did you read last week? Has your reading increased or decreased lately? What is a book you're looking forward to reading?

Friday, August 28, 2020

Book Review: Five Minutes, Mr. Byner! by John Byner with Douglas Wellman

An entertaining and engaging memoir awaits you in Five Minutes, Mr. Byner! Producer-director and author Douglas Wellman helped John Byner bring the story of is life to the world.

What readers find within this book's pages is the story of a young man with a knack for mimicking voices that led him from performing in his family's living room to entertaining his fellow shipmates in the Navy, to New York nightclubs, to The Ed Sullivan Show, and into a variety of television shows and movies throughout the decades.

Fondly recalling Byner from shows throughout my childhood--Get Smart, Hawaii Five-O, The Odd Couple, Soap, and more--I found the story of his life a fabulous way to enjoy the days that have long passed us by.

Accompanied by personal photos and a wonderful foreword by Nathan Lane, if you enjoy celebrity memoirs, you won't want to miss Five Minutes, Mr. Byner!

ISBN-10 : 1608082342
Paperback : 250 pages
ISBN-13 : 978-1608082346
Publisher : WriteLife Publishing; None Edition (August 1, 2020)


Some people call it fate; others call it luck. Whatever you call it, you've probably been somewhere by chance at exactly the right moment and ended up getting a welcome surprise. I had one of those moments early in my career and it changed my life.

My ability to mimic voices opened up some special opportunities for me. Initially it was just a hobby. I entertained family members, school mates, buddies in the navy, and my coworkers in a myriad of blue-collar jobs, and one white-collar one. I had no idea my future would be in the spotlight in night clubs, television, cartoons, movies, variety shows, and a host of other exciting places. And maybe it wouldn't have been except for fate, luck, or whatever you want to call it. My world opened up one night because I happened to be on a little stage in New York at just the right moment. It was an unplanned event. Had it not occurred, I don't know where I'd be today.

I received a copy from the author's publicist. This review contains my honest opinion, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Book Review: Christian Authors Self-Publishing Secrets to What Bestselling Authors Use to Sell More Books by Yeral Ogando

As a Christian author and former virtual book tour coordinator, I know a thing or two about the challenges of promoting a Christian book. When I see books that come out about the topics of marketing and promotion, I like to take a look and see what they are all about and what new information I can glean.

Christian Authors Self-Publishing Secrets to What Bestselling Authors Use to Sell More Books by Yeral Ogando discusses a variety of topics from the expense of hiring a publishing house, the steps to follow in self-publishing, how to get book reviews, and other tips and strategies.

I have two challenges with this book:
  1. Taking advice from someone whose book--and even the title itself--isn't edited properly.
  2. When an author hides an advertisement for his services inside a book.
While there are some helpful tips, in so few pages an author can't hope to cover any topic in depth, so the reader is left with more questions--which Ogando will gladly answer if you email him. He talks about the ways in which a Christian author can get ripped off and overpay for services, but if you reach out to him and his partners, they can save you money on a variety of services a Christian author needs.

What really made my blood boil is when the author stated through his site you can get "real reviews from real readers" for as low as $75. Not once does Ogando mention the FREE way to get reviews, like through virtual book tours. In my ten years as an author, I have never paid for a review. He says you can even order weekly or monthly reviews. If this is the way bestselling authors get reviews, good for them. I still need to sleep at night and meet my Maker with a clear conscience. 

I can usually find something positive to say about a book, but any helpful advice in Christian Authors Self-Publishing Secrets to What Bestselling Authors Use to Sell More Books is buried underneath mountains of self-promotion. Thank goodness I didn't pay for this book or I would be screaming for my money back.

Every author is out to sell books. That's understandable. However, I've read other books on self-publishing and promotion that simply share advice, which is what I am looking for if I choose that type of book. If you sell me on your knowledge, then I will be interested enough to buy more of your books in the future. 

I'm truly disappointed, because I wanted to be able to share my praise for a book that would be helpful to Christian authors. I simply didn't find it here.

File Size : 4459 KB
Publication Date : March 7, 2020
Word Wise : Enabled
Print Length : 53 pages
Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
ASIN : B085N626W6

I received a digital copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Monday, August 24, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - Aug 24

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

The second to the last Monday in August has come so quickly. The Lil' Diva is taking a semester off of college since they are going remote, but the Lil' Princess heads back to our local private school next Monday. I guess the extended summer break had to come to an end sometime.

I am reading a few books right now, but still have a bunch to get through.

My review of this book appeared on Friday.

Read the review here.

I also read this new release for my children's book blog. Very cute and funny. My review will appear this week. 

I am almost done with this book. My review will appear on August 28.

My review of this next one will appear August 27.

My review of this one will appear on September 9. I like the unique style of telling a person's story via poetry and prose. 

I read this from my Kindle Unlimited selections. I'm not thinking of starting a new YouTube channel, but I like to read up on timely topics.

Next up are these.

Then I want to catch up on some books I've bought but haven't read yet. I also added this to my Kindle Unlimited collection based upon the author's panel at the NAR Leadership Summit. 

Have you bought or borrowed a book from the library based upon an author's talk? Are you usually happy with your book choice? Have you ever been disappointed?

Friday, August 21, 2020

Book Review: Strong from the Heart by Jon Land

You better get ready, because Caitlin Strong is back!

Strong from the Heart is Jon Land's latest addition to his Caitlin Strong series, and this time it's personal.

The opioid crisis hits home when the son of Caitlin's lover Cort Wesley Masters nearly dies of an overdose. She is also investigating how the residents of a small Texas town all died in one night.

When this fifth generation Texas Ranger realizes both instances are related, she finds herself following a trail to uncover the truth behind a crisis that claimed 75,000 lives in the last year. She doesn't yet know, however, that the same forces have taken over the opiate trade and have even more nefarious goals in mind.

Pitted against a cabal nestled within the highest corridors of power that’s determined to destroy all threats posed to them, Caitlin's latest adventure draws the current crisis, the deaths in a small Texas town, and an amazing story from Texas in the late 1800's into one powerful and exciting conclusion.

I've been reading Land's Caitlin Strong novels for years. This hard-as-nails Texas Ranger gets the job done every time... but it's not usually easy. As with other novels in the series, the current story is woven alongside a story from the past. In this instance, her great-grandfather, Texas Ranger William Ray Strong, is sent to the border town of Camino Pass to transport Pancho Villa to stand trial, but his plans are waylaid when he learns all the town's children have been kidnapped.

Strong from the Heart floats between present and past, drawing the reader deeper into the story with each step. Caitlin is battling some of her own demons in this story and learning to deal with her half-sister Nola on top of everything else going on. She is so profoundly human in Strong from the Heart that you connect with Caitlin in a different way than you might have in the past. Seeing her bring down the bad guys in this one is a great reward.

My favorite series regular remains Colonel Paz. He's this strange blend of gentleness and violence, has a strong sense of reason and repentance, and is truly not a force to be reckoned with. He starts off the story in an unusual role--one which I wish would have turned out differently.

As I mentioned before and in this week's Top Ten Tuesday, the Caitlin Strong series is overdue to be brought to series TV. I hope you're listening, Netflix.

Land's masterful storytelling never ceases to amaze me. As long as he keeps writing Caitlin Strong novels, I will keep reading. Simply put, this is one of the best thrillers you'll ever read.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller

Published by: Forge Books

Publication Date: July 28, 2020

Number of Pages: 368

ISBN: 0765384701 (ISBN13: 9780765384706)

Series: A Caitlin Strong Novel, #11

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads



San Antonio, Texas

Caitlin Strong pushed her way through the gaggle of reporters and bystanders clustered before the barricade set up just inside the lobby of the Canyon Ridge Elementary School building.

“Look,” she heard somebody say, “the Texas Rangers are here!”

She’d focused her attention on the six men wearing black camo pants and windbreakers labeled I-C-E in big letters on the back, glaring at her from the entrance to the school to which they’d clearly been prevented from entering. She pictured several more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents stationed at additional exits in case their quarries tried to make a run for it.

“We didn’t call the Rangers,” snarled a bald man, the name tag he was required to wear reading ORLEANS.

“No, sir,” Caitlin told him, “that would’ve been the school principal. She told Dispatch you’d come here to collect some of her students.”

She let her gaze drift to a windowless black truck that looked like a reconfigured SWAT transport vehicle.

“Just following orders, Ranger. Doing our job just like you.”

“My job is to keep the peace, sir.”

“Ours too, so I’m going to assume you’re going to assist our efforts, given that we’re on the same side here.”

“What side would that be?”

Orleans snarled again, seeming to pump air into a head Caitlin figure might’ve been confused for a basketball. “United States government, ma’am.”

“I work for Texas, sir, and the principal told me all the kids you came for were born on Lone Star soil.”

“That’s for a court to decide.”

“Maybe. And, you’re right, the both of us are here because we’ve got a job to do and I respect that, sir, I truly do. My problem is it’s never right in my mind for adults to involve children in somebody else’s mess.”

Jon Land
Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of fifty-two books, including eleven featuring Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong. The critically acclaimed series has won more than a dozen awards, including the 2019 International Book Award for Best Thriller for Strong as Steel. He also writes the CAPITAL CRIMES series and received the 2019 Rhode Island Authors Legacy Award for his lifetime of literary achievements. A graduate of Brown University, Land lives in Providence, Rhode Island., Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

I received a copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Shelf Control - Aug 19

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves sponsored by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. Here's how to jump on board:
  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • Link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Here is a recent Kindle freebie.

BLURB: All libraries are magical. Some libraries are more magical than others.

For Alex Reed, the world is an awkward place and books are her only escape. But when she is selected by a mysterious library to be its new Keeper she discovers that some books can be a lot of work.

Now Alex must balance her new adventures with the incomparable obstacles of being an anxiety-riddled teenager. All this would be completely doable, if only Hank would do as he was told.

DATE BOUGHT: July 11, 2020

WHY I BOUGHT IT: I like to stay in touch with what is being published in the teen and young adult market. In addition to picture books, I write middle grade novels. Since there is some crossover at the higher end of middle grade, it's important to see what is popular. In addition, magic is a neat element in stories for this age group. I enjoy seeing how it is handled in a variety of books. 

Have you read this book? Do you like magic in novels? 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books that Should be Adapted into Netflix Shows/Movies

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I have to start this week's topic by stating I don't watch a lot of TV or movies. That's changed a bit lately as we have spent more time at home, but I prefer to read than watch anything (with rare exception). Thanks to my Kindle Fire HD 10, however, I have binge watched the entire Fuller House series. Though this might seem odd, I am watching season 1 of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, which aired from 2010-2013. I've always been a fan of Scooby-Doo, so I wanted to check out a more recent adaptation. You can read some of my thoughts at my kid's book blog.

So, on to today's topic. These are my suggestions for Top Ten Books that Should be Adapted into Netflix Shows/Movies. Some of these would be remakes of other shows/movies, but I think modernizing these could gain new audiences.

One of my favorite TV mini-series, The Thorn Birds is overdue for a remake. Proving I don't follow Hollywood at all, I can only guess who would play the main characters. Maybe Chris Hemsworth or Henry Cavill and Anne Hathway or Kiera Knightly. I suggest less focus on Meggie's younger years and moving swiftly into her coming of age and the forbidden love between Meggie and Ralph.

In The Cutting by James Hayman, readers meet Detective Sergeant Michael McCabe, who moved from New York City to Portland, Maine to escape a dark past. Along with his partner, Maggie Savage, McCabe must find a sadistic killer of young, blonde women. McCabe and Savage return in The Chill of the Night, where they must discover who killed a young attorney and dumped her body at the end of the Portland Fish Pier. This would make a great series. Hayman already has six books for inspiration.

The Amish Bishop Mysteries by Vannetta Chapman started with What the Bishop Saw. Henry Lapp rushes to the scene of an out of control fire. He soon learns, however, that this fire is no accident and Vernon Frey is left dead. Not the most liked guy, there is no end of potential suspects. Henry must decide if he will use his God-given gift to set the record straight one someone he knows is innocent is implicated in Vernon's death. 

This is the first of a three-book series, but I think it would make a great regular TV series for cozy mystery lovers that is unique in setting and because of the main character's faith. 

Here is another great book series that would make for a fun TV series or movie. The House on Tradd Street introduces us to Realtor Melanie Middleton. She inherits the house on Tradd Street from a man she recently met, not knowing of the house's malevolent presence. We also meet Jack Trenholm and a cast of other great characters who appear in this series. I think this first book would make a great movie.

As I mentioned in an earlier Top Ten Tuesday, the 1993 TV series, Walker, Texas Ranger is being remade. Due to premier in January 2021, Walker is something I will be looking for. However, I would love to see fifth-generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong make it to Netflix as a series. Author Jon Land has given us 10 books of material to get started. Would be a truly superb series if done right.

The Madhatter's Guide to Chocolate by Rhett DeVane brings us up close and personal into the lives of Hattie Davis, Jake Witherspoon, Aunt Piddie, and all the other folks in Chattahoochee, Florida. Small town secrets always make for some good viewing. 

I know this will sound unusual coming from me, but I really enjoyed what I read of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I'm not usually into futuristic stories, but Cinder captivated me when I read it with the girls. This series would make great movies. 

In my not-so-humble opinion, Jessica Fletcher has been off television for far too long. New books are still being published featuring the former school teacher turned writer and amateur sleuth. Murder, She Wrote is way overdue for a new TV run or a new movie. 

I love everything about Charlotte Hubbard's work, but I feel A Mother's Gift would make for a special kind of movie. Leah Otto has never been comfortable with housework. She prefers to tend to her goats and chickens. Jude Shetler, a widower with three children, likes her non-traditional skills, but she is not prepared for all that goes into being a wife and mother. While struggling to keep their teenage daughters in line and care for a five-year-old who is desperately missing his mother, a new challenge arrives in the form of an abandoned baby on their doorstep. This book was wonderful from beginning to end. It would make a great faith-based TV movie.

One of the things that deters me from watching TV is that every show I enjoy is eventually canceled. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson's Creek had good runs, but Mercy Street and Cedar Cove barely got off the ground before they were pulled. If Netflix found a way to bring Cedar Cove, based upon Debbie Macomber's popular series back to life, I would eagerly watch each episode. 

What do you think of my list? Is there hope for any of these to be picked up? What's on your list?