Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Review & $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway: ‘Mind Games,’ by Christine Amsden


MindGames_medMind Games is the much awaited third installment in the new adult mystery series, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. Talented author Christine Amsden keeps delivering a great story filled with interesting characters, romance, mystery, and the paranormal, lots of it.
In this episode, Cassie still doesn’t know why Evan broke her heart two months ago, and the mystery gnaws at her big time. She decides to keep busy and make herself useful at the sheriff’s department. She also meets charismatic mind mage Matthew Blair…much to Evan’s distaste. At the same time, Eagle Rock is teeming with hate from the religious community, a reaction to the recent murder of a much-esteemed pastor’s wife by what the people believe was a sorcerer. The town is about to snap, with tensions between the magical and non-magical communities.
And in the center of all this, is Matthew, whom Cassie finds irresistible. But can she trust him? According to Evan, no way. But then, Evan isn’t the most objective person when it comes to Cassie. Evan and Cassie have a history, as well as a secret connection, that keeps them bound in spite of themselves.
Will Cassie discover the real culprit or culprits behind the pastor’s wife’s murder, as well as the real face behind the anti-magical propaganda and demonstrations? Most importantly, will she wake up and see Matthew for who he really is…and find the courage to face Evan for what he did to her—when she finds out?
I love this series and thoroughly enjoyed this instalment! There’s something about Cassie’s voice that makes her really likable. She has a good heart and is witty, too. But best of all, she is just an ordinary girl next door trying to do her best in spite of everything that happens around her—which is usually pretty remarkable, as is often the case in paranormal stories.
Her relationship with Evan keeps evolving organically and there’s a major revelation in this book about their connection and the secret behind their rival families. Matthew is a great addition to this episode, adding tension with his charismatic personality and inciting sparks of jealousy from Evan. The conflict between the religious and the magical communities is also well done.
Mind Games kept me reading late into the night, wondering what would happen next. If you haven’t read any books in this series before, I urge you to pick up book one first, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. The books are best read in order. You won’t be disappointed.
Purchase links: Amazon / Barnes and Noble
Connect with the author on the web: 
My review was originally published on Blogcritics
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway *The giveaway begins on April 15, 2014 at midnight and ends on July 16, 2014 at midnight.
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Guest post by Nicole L. Albert, MHS LPC Licensed Psychotherapist

I am happy to be part of Barry Rudner's virtual book tour this month. To promote his book, SILENT VOICE, Barry is touring the blogosphere with The National Writing for Children Center. In this guest post, licensed psychotherapist Nicole L. Albert talks about Barry and his book. I hope you'll enjoy the post. Happy reading!

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I am fortunate to be a long time friend of Barry Rudner. We met while vacationing in the Florida Keys more than two decades ago. It has been with enthusiasm and appreciation through the years that followed, to participate in his journey of children's literature. Each and every piece of his work, touched me in the deepest of ways. He addresses so many issues of what is typically never spoken aloud. With each piece of writing, he imparts messages of hope, each and every time, and attends to the struggle while opening the hearts of the reader.

I am a licensed board certified therapist and I work with children, adults and families struggling with a variety of life's issues. His writings touched a chord in me as I would think of people whose lives I came into contact with for a variety of reasons. I knew they would benefit from the insight and pure joy his books would provide.

A good proportion of my client base, are individuals with a wide array of Developmental Disabilities.

One day I called Barry to wish him a Happy Birthday - we exchanged some events of what we had both been doing of late, and I described to him some of the situations that I was challenged with, for individuals and families touched by Autism.

A couple weeks later, I received an email from him asking me to read something - the early drafts of Silent Voice. It was utterly staggering! He had accomplished to put into words, a world that many people know only too well and unfortunately way too few are aware of. Silent Voice was born, along with outstanding illustrations that completely depict the nature of this overwhelming and all consuming challenge.

I am so very proud, to have been part of this journey.

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Title: Silent Voice
Genre: Children's fiction, Family
Author: Barry Rudner
Website: http://www.nickoftime.us
Publisher: Nick of Time Media, Inc.
Purchase link: http://www.nickoftime.us/hardcover-books.php

SUMMARY: A modern day allegory about autism awareness: that the only ought in autism is that we ought not ever give up. Ever.

Barry Rudner has been an author/poet of self-esteem books for children for over thirty years, dealing with universal truths such as, reaching for your dreams, homelessness, undying friendships, disability awareness, always being yourself, autism awareness, hope and utter silliness. He firmly believes that we cannot educate our children unless they feel good about who they are; and ultimately, as they grow up, they will not feel good about themselves unless they educate themselves.

Connect with Barry on the web:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nick-of-Time-Media/507826792667344
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NickOfTimeMedia
Google+: https://plus.google.com/107827469685021155032/posts 


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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Book Review: 'A Sandy Grave,' by Donna McDine



About the Book

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

My thoughts...

I always know I'm in for a good treat when I read a new book by award-winning children's author Donna McDine. She has a talent for spinning tales that are both exciting and educational...and she has done it again with her latest book, A Sandy Grave, about a couple of friends who discover whale poachers at the beach while at their summer vacation. With a touch of mystery, McDine immediately grabs the reader and doesn't let go until the end. While an interesting read that can be enjoyed for the pure fun of reading, this one will also appeal to parents and educators because of is eco-friendly message. A nice addition to any home, school or library shelf. Recommended!

PURCHASE AT:


Title: A Sandy Grave
Author: Donna M. McDine
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Pages: 24
Language: English
Genre: Tween chapterbook
Format: Paperback, hardcover & eBook
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Guest post: "What Messages Do You Receive From Your Dreams?" by Donna McDine, author of 'A Sandy Grave'

I'm thrilled to have award-winning author Donna McDine on my blog today! She's currently touring the blogosphere to promote her latest picture book, A Sandy Grave. Let's give her a warm welcome and don't forget to enter her Rafflecopter giveaway!

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Guest Post:

While working on your latest manuscript do you feel like you are living and breathing your characters? To the point where you can’t get them out of your head, even in your dreams. What do you think your dreams are trying to tell you about your characters? Do you think they are trying to relay specific messages to you to include in your manuscript?

I know the non-writers out there who are reading this may think the above statements are outlandish and should land me in the local psych ward, or at the very least to a therapist’s office. Please know I’m not delusional, in this case I’m practical. As an author, the creation of our characters is personal, and they do indeed become part of us. Making it often times difficult for us to shake our characters’ actions and moods even in the twilight state of sleep.

One particular instance when my dreams began knocking me upside the head about one of my characters was the slave Jenkins I created for my first children’s book, The Golden Pathway. Jenkins originally was created for the Institute of Children’s Literature book course, but for one reason or another I shelved this manuscript. Quite some time passed, and for what I thought was bizarre at first I began dreaming about the Underground Railroad and having dogs chase after me in the dark woods. When I shared this recurring dream with my sister, she was the one that connected the dots and brought up my long shelved manuscript. After her encouragement I “dusted” off this manuscript and resurrected Jenkins and David, hence the birth of The Golden Pathway.

I also had a similar experience with the creation of A Sandy Grave. After reading the news article of a washed up dead whale on a California beach I began dreaming about the ocean repeatedly. This time, I didn’t need anyone to put two and two together. I took my dreams as a positive force to get down to the nitty-gritty of the non-fiction research aspect and then create engaging characters and a storyline to be intertwined into one story.

I encourage you to keep pen, paper, and small flashlight (so you don’t wake your significant other) by your bedside for these often inspiring moments. This way you can write down your dreams immediately upon waking, or for the times you are jolted awake by your characters screaming at you. Don’t ignore these instances, instead grab these creative outcries and use them to your advantage.

I’d enjoy hearing about your experiences with your dreams, whether they are writing related or not.

Mayra, thank you for hosting me during my Pump Up Your Book virtual book tour!

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

EXCERPT:

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

PURCHASE AT:


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

Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions, Literary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval Recipient Picture Book Early Reader, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book Fiction, and Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Books ~ The Golden Pathway.
Her stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna’s 2013 releases of Powder Monkey and Hockey Agony and the 2014 release of A Sandy Grave will be joined by an additional book to be published by Guardian Angel Publishing, Dee and Deb, Off They Go. She writes, moms and is a personal assistant from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network, and Family Reading Partnership. 
Visit Donna online at www.donnamcdine.com or her blog at www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com


Donna McDine is giving you a chance to win a $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card.
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • This giveaway begins March 3 and ends on April 25, 2014.
  • Winner will be contacted via email.
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

On the Spotlight & Review: 'I Am Strong! I Am Smart!' by Fay A. Klingler



ABOUT THE BOOK

Luisa May, known to her family and friends as Lu, loves to play games with her Grandma. When she’s bullied at school, Grandma has a special puzzle for Lu to help her see how valuable she is—no matter what others say, or how much doubt she feels within herself. Soon after, Grandma has to go to the hospital, and Lu finds out Grandma needs help recovering. Then it’s Lu’s turn to help Grandma see how valuable she is—no matter how much doubt she feels within herself. It’s a beautiful parallel for young and old alike, as each age learns from the other.

Written and illustrated with loving hands, this delightful children’s story offers a heartfelt message that unites and bonds generations. From the award-winning pen of Fay A. Klingler, I Am Strong! I Am Smart! provides to women of all ages a reminder of the tremendous gift of “girl power.”

My thoughts:

This is a beautifully written and illustrated book I can whole-heartedly recommend to parents--and especially grandparents--to read with children. It has a vital message: the power of words and self language and the effect it can have on our self esteem. Also, how everything is a matter of perception and how words can only hurt if we allow them to. I Am Strong! I Am Smart! is a sweet, heart-warming story about an 11-year old girl and her grandmother, and how they each help each other at their times of need. A lovely addition to any library shelf. Since the girl in the story is eleven, and there's quite a lot of text, this picture book is geared toward older ages as well. The illustrations are beautiful and perfectly complement the story. Highly recommended!




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Fay A. Klingler, author and illustrator, is an award-winning creative and technical writer, as well as a sought-after motivational speaker for women’s groups. Her expertise includes successful patterns for life, betrayal recovery, and effective grandparenting. Her previous publications include We Are Strong! Mothers and Daughters Stand Together; A Woman’s Power: Threads that Bind Us to God; Shattered: Six Steps from Betrayal to Recovery; Daughters of God, You Have What It Takes; The LDS Grandparents’ Idea Book; My Magnificent Mountain; The Complete Guide to Woman’s Time; Our New Baby; and A Mother’s Journal.

The Klinglers have twelve children and thirty-five grandchildren in their blended family. They reside in Draper, Utah.

Connect with Fay on the Web:


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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Soon from Twilight Times Books: The Luthier's Apprentice (YA dark fantasy)

I'm thrilled to announce that my latest book, The Luthier's Apprentice, featuring 16-year-old violin student/luthier/amateur sleuth Emma Braun, will be out in May 15th (ebook) and August 15th (print).
Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…

When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice.  But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms.

But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma’s family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini?


Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him. And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier’s apprentice…
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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Guest post: "The Story behind Diary of my Real Payne series," by Annie Tipton

My guest today is children's author Annie Tipton. She's here today to talk about the inspiration behind her middle-grade series, Diary of a Real Payne. She's currently touring the blogosphere with the National Writing for Children Center. Please give her a warm welcome!

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I always knew I’d write a book someday. I just didn’t know this is how it would come about.
            I didn’t have a manuscript that I’d been polishing since I first penned it in college. I hadn’t gone through rounds and rounds of rejection letters from agents and publishers. No, what happened was that my boss came up with the concept of a series for 8–12-year-olds staring a lovable character named EJ Payne who lives in a small town but dreams of bigger and better things—Diary of a Real Payne, she called it. (Side note: I guess I can’t chalk the whole thing up entirely to fate. After all, I do work in the editorial department at a book publisher.) And when she pitched the idea in a meeting, I heard myself volunteering to write it. “Give me a chance,” I said. “I would love this opportunity.”
            And she said yes.
            So EJ and the rest of the Payne family started taking shape. And I knew they would be a family that looked a lot like mine: loving parents who “get” their kids; (mostly) good-natured sibling rivalry between EJ and her younger brother, Isaac; a deeply rooted faith that is the foundation on which the family to loves, lives, and grows. From the older sister/younger brother dynamic to the everyday antics of a girl who has such a vivid imagination that sometimes she doesn’t know what’s actually going on right in front of her, the stories are a slice-of-life that sometimes looks a lot like photos from my family albums.
            There’s something so refreshing and so encouraging about a family dynamic that, though not perfect, is good and bursting with love. I know I am blessed to count those things as a part of my upbringing, and it’s an important part of what I hope to leave with readers of the Diary of a Real Payne series.

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Title: Diary of a Real Payne Book 2: Church Camp Chaos
Genre: Fiction – Children / Juvenile
Author: Annie Tipton
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Purchase link: www.barbourbooks.com

ABOUT THE BOOK:  In this second fabulous release in the Diary of a Real Payne series for 8- to 12-year-old girls, young readers will find themselves ROTFL as EJ ismore than ready to be done with Ms. “Picky” Pickerington, CoraLee McCallister, and fourth grade in general. Hello sunshine, hello 11th birthday party, hello free time, hello. . .CAMP! It’s EJ’s first summer to spend an entire week at Camp Christian: friends, swimming, bunk beds, games, campfires, s’mores, hiking, and even a gigantic zip line. In classic EJ form, she dreams up even more fantastic adventures for herself. It’s colossal fun and Church Camp Chaos for EJ fans!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Award-winning author Annie Tipton made up her first story at the ripe old age of two when she asked her mom to write it down for her. (Hey, she was just two—she didn’t know how to make letters yet!) Since then she has read and written many words as a student, newspaper reporter, author, and editor. A native of Wooster, Ohio, Tipton received a bachelor’s degree in Communications at Milligan College in Northeast Tennessee. She currently resides in New Philadelphia, Ohio.

Find the book on Facebook. Watch the trailer
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