Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Dark Winds Rising by Mark Noce

Dark Winds Rising by Mark Noce. St. Martin’s Press, December 2017.

DarkWindRising_FBCover_onsaleFinally, finally, the wait is over! You can–if you haven’t already–get a copy of Dark Winds Rising, the second in the epic historical series about a Welsh queen who stepped into her power in order to help her people.

The first book in the series is Between Two Fires. That work shows Queen Branwen’s strength of intellect and the strength of her heart as she accepts that the man she married is not her true love.

Now, in Dark Winds Rising, she must face the Queen of the Picts when raiders land on the shores of Wales. A mysterious assassin intent on killing her young son haunts her trail as she moves between different areas. The leaders of various areas would rather maintain their petty feuds with each other than join forces against the enemy, so the queen has her hands full.

Oh, and by the way, she’s pregnant. Provides a whole new angle on that modern mom thing, right? Even though sometimes young kids make it feel like Pictish raiders are marauding through your home!

Well, Queen Branwen never shirks her duty to her people or her country. Although taking her son with her on the road exposes them both to additional dangers, the assassin leaves her no choice.

The scenes in camp between her and her husband, Artagan, are some of the best in this book. They show the real dynamics between men and women during the medieval times while providing Branwen with enough room to move in her own direction.Dark Winds Rising

 

Plus, the touching moments with the family are heightened outside stone walls. Readers participate in very warm and moving interactions between parents and children. And yet the tension never gives way, which of course gives those intimate scenes all the more impact.

This second title in the series is pitch perfect from front to back. You won’t a single place where you lose interest or where you feel lost. You will be thoroughly immersed in Branwen’s world, her time, and the rugged beauty of Wales.

 

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Perfect Gift for a Special Teacher

Essential Knowledge for Teachers: Truths to Energize, Excite, and Engage Today’s Teachers by Barbara D. Culp
Rowman & Littlefield
978-1-4758-3132-0

Culp TeachersThrough Writer’s Resource, I helped this author bring this idea into the world. So I know firsthand that this is a perfect gift idea for that special teacher!

Educators build the future of our world by nurturing one mind at a time. If you want to say thanks in a really thoughtful way, give a copy of Essential Knowledge for Teachers by Barbara Culp to the teachers in your school.

This book was selected as a finalist in the Education/Academic category of the 2017 Best Books Awards by the American Book Fest. Something like 2,000 entries were received, so this book rose to the top percentile in order to be classified as a finalist.

It’s such a great gift, you might buy more than one for each of your children’s teachers, or for more than one teacher you want to thank. So, try Jet.com because when you buy two, you get a dollar off the price of each!

Here’s a link to the book on the publisher’s website.

If you have Amazon prime, it’s available for free shipping here.

And for folks who don’t have a local indie bookstore to order it from, here it is at Target.

 

Cutest Dual-language Picture Book!

English-Spanish Hardcover resizedJuvenile author Wendy Gilhula has sent me a copy of her debut work. Pika Bunny and the Thunderstorm has some of the sweetest illustrations I’ve seen in a long time!

Gilhula and I worked together some years ago on prose and poetry she had written. The ideas she had just would not let her go. One of them was a series of stories about a bunny named Pika.

Pika Bunny explores the world and illustrates the most touching elements of the parent-child relationship. After Gilhula put her ideas down on paper, she found a publisher who wanted not just one of the works, but several.

Today she is celebrating because Pika Bunny has found life in several formats. The debut story is available in paperback and hardbound versions. There are also English-only and Spanish-English editions, for a total of four versions!

When I received my copy, I reread the story that had demanded the author’s time and focus. Pika Bunny is frightened by a thunderstorm. Then he learns all the good things about rain and thunder. Pika Bunny triumphs over his fear!

PikaBedWashFrom the first page, I really was taken in by the illustrations. Adrianna Allegretti is the illustrator here.

Like most children’s books, the illustrations stay focused on the characters. In a few places, however, Allegretti opts to draw only the storm or other elements of nature.

The combination of the characters in nature, in their cozy interior spaces, and the ones that allow nature to roam free across the page lend this work a particular feeling readers will love.

One of the coolest things about Pika Bunny is that the work is available in a dual-language version. The story is told in Spanish and English, with the same text running in both languages on the same page.

The work has been nominated for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s (SCBWI’s) Golden Kite Award. 

Of special note is the dedication in the front of the book. Gilhula thanks a number of individuals, all by listing their first names and the first initial of their last name. These are all kids who were her beta readers!

She wanted to honor the contributions of these dedicated fans. And here she has, while also preserving their identities and therefore their safety.

Want more of this cuteness and sweet words? Tune in next week for an interview with author Wendy Gilhula!

Another Great Deal for Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance Thriller

Last week, I told you about a great preorder deal from Kim Petersen. Now I want to let you know that you can get another book from the same author for a great price.

This one, usually $3.99, has “steamy scenes and dark themes.” Grab it now at this great lower price! It’s called Millie’s Angel. Here’s the description:

Betrayal is always the last place you expect.

When her mother decides to leave, Millie’s life is turned upside down as she faces life with a father who has a mysterious dark pallor shrouding his countenance. Millie grows up relying on her own strength and the comfort that comes from a friend and a romantic connection that has her heart smitten.
As she struggles to make sense of life, Millie discovers her growing thirst for love while learning to overcome the adversity that plagues her family.
When Millie discovers the dark secrets surrounding her birth, she realises the unthinkable acts of her father, and finds herself battling between love and hatred while finding a sense of balance through a powerful bond with an angel.
When her mother contacts her a decade later, Millie visits with her just in time to realise her own angelic gift, when she finds she is not alone in discovering her mother’s whereabouts. With evil lurking between the cracks in her family, the appearance of Millie’s gift – a phenomenon that will heal and shine brighter than she could ever have imagined – changes her family’s perspectives and the direction of their lives forever.

And here’s the link to the discounted ebook.

 

Free Sample and Slashed Preorder and Launch Price on Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance Thriller

A&D coverI’ve just come across a great deal for all you urban fantasy and paranormal romance thriller fans. This is the latest from Kim Petersen, who has several novels out already. That’s great because once you’ve seen this one, you can binge read all her books!

Angels & Vixens has it all: a brother lost in dreams, a budding romance, and the reappearance of old troubles with a black witch conjuring for the dark side.

Here’s the description:

Her love has no limits.
His vengeance knows no bounds.

With her brother Ace dangerously lurking in her dreams, Millie finds herself captive in a delicately woven love-triangle between past desires and her faithful fiance. When she finally decides to follow the path which beckons her heart, Ace and his black witch lover sweep into town; leaving a poisonous trail of death and vengeance in their wake.
Millie’s life blackens as her brother’s vendetta becomes her reality and she is drawn into a savage game where the stakes are higher than she could have ever imagined. Can she save her brother from the evil that clutches his heart before he is lost to her forever?  And will the men in her life learn to accept her truths?

Now, if you’re like me, you want to read a bit to make sure the book is for you. So, the author has provided samples from the beginning here.

Stay tuned for another great deal from this author posting on Sep 25. Mark your calendars!

 

 

 

Books for Back to School Needs!

Culp Parents

Here are six fantastic books just in time for your back-to-school needs. If you’re a parent or a student, Dr. Barbara Culp has written books specifically for your needs. Teachers, principals and superintendents of public and private schools–and anyone interested in understanding how schools work so that you can help your kids achieve the best academic results–can dive into a lot of wisdom in books targeting their needs.

The series of six books, published by Rowman & Littlefield, distills forty years of experience into practical, affordable tips. By mining her broad educational background, Dr. Culp provides support, inspiration, and empowerment.

This series is a true “must read” for aspiring, new, and seasoned educational professionals, parents, and students. Rich with real-world examples, each title contains user-friendly tips that lead to solutions, resolutions, and effective action.

  • Essential Knowledge for Teachers: Truths to Energize, Excite, and Engage Today’s Teachers keeps professionals focused and relevant in today’s changing educational landscape. 
  • Trusted Knowledge for Parents: Tips to Prepare, Position, and Empower Today’s Parents provides clarity, inspiration and support for raising compassionate, respectful, and productive children.
  • Choice Knowledge for Students: Words to Empower, Enliven, and Enrich Your Life enhances the confidence, maturity, and motivation that drives success.
  • Vintage Knowledge for Principals: Keys to Enrich, Encourage, and Empower School Leaders and Empowering Today’s Principals provides authoritative solutions, resolutions, and actions for school leaders.
  • Culp StudentsThe Art of Appraisal: Effective Tools and Streamlined Process to Boost Teacher Performance distills the evaluation process into a structured, step-by-step system developed by Dr. Culp.
  • Key Knowledge for Success: Solutions to Augment, Fortify, and Support Today’s Superintendents provides simple and effective knowledge that will supercharge district success.

Stay tuned because next week, I’ll have an interview with Dr. Culp. She’ll tell us more about her writing process, and provide exclusive tips for authors and readers!

Book Review: Federal Prison Handbook by Christopher Zoukis

Book Review for Federal Prison Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Surviving the Federal Bureau of Prisons by Christopher Zoukis.

Published by Middle Street Publishing, January 2017.

Hands down, this is the single most useful and informative book you’ll ever find on what it’s really like inside the federal prison system. Not only is it packed with information, it’s written in the personal voice of a prison rights activist who is currently serving time at a federal facility.

Author and advocate Christopher Zoukis is an incredibly prolific writer. He regularly appears on Huffington Post, New York Daily News, and Prison Legal News. He’s able to break down the bewildering volume of rules, regulations and details so that anyone—a convict new to the federal system, their family and friends, and even individuals who’ve been in for years—can learn everything they need to know to survive behind bars.

In addition to providing a nearly encyclopedic review of the official regulations, Zoukis tells readers what others won’t: how to navigate prison culture. Family members and friends discover exactly what their loved ones are going through along with different ways they can help. Personal anecdotes and the stories of other inmates make Federal Prison Handbook an intimate, honest, and compelling read.

Tomorrow, an interview with Zoukis will be posted. As an award-winning author who has been honored by the PEN America Center, he has a lot of tips to offer other writers of fiction and nonfiction. Meanwhile, link here for his website and here for the Federal Prison Handbook.