Friday, December 30, 2011

Moonlight and Oranges by Elise Stephens

Release Date: November 2011

Moonlight and Oranges is Stephens' debut novel about a modern-day romance based on Greek mythology's very own Cupid and Psyche.

Beautiful, 20-something Lorona Connelly attends a raving Halloween party with her best friend, but feels instantly out of place outside of her usually sheltered and bookish environment. Shortly after arriving to the party, Lorona is confronted by sexy ladies' man Kestrin Feather, who feels mysteriously compelled to protect this fragile, bookish girl from a throng of seemingly vindictive party-goers. After sharing a vodka screwdriver, Lorona and Kestrin kiss, and sparks fly.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Best Reads of 2011

Here it is...*drumroll*...a complete list of the best books I read during the year 2011!

Although most of them were not published this year, I am honored to have stumbled upon these amazing books that I highly recommend to readers and book-lovers everywhere.

Click on the links for each book to read the book review in its entirety.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (2009)
Intelligently written with a combination of history and fantasy, Howe's debut about a family legacy of witchcraft will make you wish the novel never ends.


Black and White by Dani Shapiro (2007)
One of the most intimate writers I've ever known, Shapiro will have you in tears - even if you cannot relate to its devastating subject matter of estranged family.


Roasting in Hell's Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay (2007)
An honest and humble autobiography by one of the most renowned chefs in the world, Gordon Ramsay's memoir will most likely inspire you to quit your dreadful job and pursue your true passion.


Altar of Bones by Philip Carter (2011)
An intriguing suspense novel that will have you hooked from the get-go, Altar of Bones touches on one of the most notorious conspiracy theories of all time.


The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst (2010)
One of the most creative writers I've ever come across, Parkhurst will stun you with her beautiful verse in this novel about a haunted author who desperately tries to rekindle a relationship with her famous son.


Catfish Alley by Lynne Bryant (2011)
Bryant's debut novel explores racism and segregation in 1930s and present-day Mississippi, unfolding a mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. Keep a box of tissues nearby.


The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (2009)
Always tons of controversy where Dan Brown is concerned, but let's face it: he's entertaining. In the style of The Da Vinci Code and the National Treasure movie franchise, The Lost Symbol is set in the United States and explores the intriguing field of noetics.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bayou Bodyguard by Jana DeLeon

Released: July 2011

Bayou Bodyguard is a follow-up to DeLeon's The Secret of Cypriere Bayou (March 2011). DeLeon is currently contributing to Harlequin's Intrigue series.

Justine Chatry has been hired to research a collection of historical documents and journals to pinpoint the location of valuable emeralds that have been hidden for years at laMalediction, a vacant mansion nestled deep in Louisiana bayou country. Assigned to accompany Justine for the duration of her project is a bodyguard named Brian Marcentel, an incredibly sexy and alluring man whom Justine has recognized from her traumatizing childhood. Determined to keep their connection secret should Brian learn of her true motive for accepting the project at laMalediction, Justine riskily attempts to uncover the truth about her family's legacy, despite the violent events that continue to transpire around her. With danger surrounding Justine and Brian, the pair must also confront and deal with the undeniable chemistry and attraction between them that spices up their adventure together.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve

Release Date: October 2005

A Wedding in December is by esteemed novelist Anita Shreve, also the author of The Pilot's Wife (1998).

During the December of 2001 after the World Trade Center event, a group of old high school friends reunite for the first time in decades to attend a wedding between 2 of their classmates. Over the course of a weekend, we learn about the internal struggles within a few of the troubled adults; especially those affected most by the death of their beloved classmate who died years ago shortly before their high school graduation. By the end of the weekend, each character has experienced a revelation of their own that helps them to have a better perspective on their lives.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Joy to the World: A Victorian Christmas by Hart, Grossman and Dunhill

Release Date: January 1990

Joy to the World is what I like to call a coffee-table book, and is more or less a scrapbook filled with Victorian artwork, images, and antique collectibles, and accompanied by text that outlines the history of Christmas.

As seen in the photo snapshot above, the cover of Joy to the World as well as the similar content inside is aesthetically pleasing to the eye for those with an interest in Victorian paraphernalia or scrapbooking. From a reading standpoint however, the text in the book that outlines the history of Christmas is dry and reads too much like a textbook to be remotely engaging.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Spongebob Squarepants: Christmas with Krabby Klaws by Erica David and Heather Martinez

Released: October 2010

Author Erica David has written numerous children's books based on the Nickelodeon television series' "Spongebob Squarepants" and "Go, Diego, Go." Christmas with Krabby Klaws is illustrated by Heather Martinez, who has illustrated numerous other Spongebob Squarepants children's books.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lady of the Glen by Jennifer Roberson

Released: April 1996

Jennifer Roberson's Lady of the Glen (originally titled Glen of Sorrows) is an historical novel about the Massacre of Glencoe, which occurred in the Scottish Highlands in the year 1692. Roberson is best known for her numerous fantasy novels in addition to few historical-fiction novels.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Released: August 2010

Mockingjay is the 3rd and final book in Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy. This series has easily been the most enjoyable I've read in all of 2011, and definitely one of the best Young Adult series I've ever read. Ever!

Having survived 2 rounds of Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen has seriously angered President Snow and the rest of the Capitol in becoming the "Mockingjay," or the face of the rebellion against the Capitol. As Katniss escapes to District 13, which is literally the underground district that has been kept secret from all other districts, she is again faced with the challenge of learning who she can and cannot trust within the rogue district. After all, District 13 is comprised of individuals who once served the Capitol, among other stragglers from some of the other districts. On top of all this, Katniss is faced with a brainwashed Peeta, whom President Snow has sent to District 13 on a mission to kill Katniss.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Cat in the Hat Beginner Book Dictionary by Dr. Seuss and P.D. Eastman

Released: August 1964

This Dr. Seuss The Cat in the Hat Beginner Book Dictionary is a funny, ridiculous, effective learning guide for toddlers and young children attempting to learn the alphabet and begin reading. The book contains a total of 1350 common words such as "apple" and "dinner," and nonsensical words such as "kerchoo" (which is, apparently, a sneeze in 1964).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Stir of Bones by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Released: September 2003

A Stir of Bones is a prequel to Nina Kiriki Hoffman's novels entitled, A Red Heart of Memories (1999) and Past the Size of Dreaming (2001).

Set in the early 1980s, A Stir of Bones is about Susan, a young girl in middle school whose life is dictated by her strict and violent father, who abuses Susan's mother when Susan does anything that upsets her father. To stay out of her house as much as possible, Susan takes on school projects and visits the library often; when one day she overhears a group of kids her own age talking about a haunted house. Intrigued, Susan introduces herself to the group and joins them on their secret excursions to the haunted house. When Susan enters "House" (which is the name Susan assigns to the doting house that seems connected to her), she meets Nathan, a ghost of a young man that inhabits House whom she forms an adoring relationship with. In short, A Stir of Bones tells the story of a young girl willing to hide from her own, frightening family, to instead make her home with the ghostly apparition of Nathan and their House.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Death of a Dreamer by M.C. Beaton

Released: February 2006

Death of a Dreamer is the 22nd book in M.C. Beaton's Hamish MacBeth cozy mystery series.

After a long, cold, and icy winter in Scotland's Highlands, Lochdubh's local police constable, Hamish MacBeth calls on a new local resident named Effie Garrard to see how she has fared throughout the season. Upon visiting Effie, Hamish believes her to be delusional and a bit crazy; especially when she becomes obsessive and claims that the new local painter and womanizer named Jock Fleming has asked her to be his wife. Days later, Effie is found dead on a hillside with the remnants of poison in her system, so Hamish begins to interrogate all the potential murderers. With the help of Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, Hamish's former fiance and current friend, Hamish eventually uncovers the identity of Effie's murderer.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Released: September 2009

Catching Fire is the 2nd book in the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games series is a widely-known phenomenon that has recently been contracted for development into a movie franchise.

By strategic and (unpredictably) emotional means, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have won the Hunger Games for their District; however, both of the famed tributes are under the careful, watchful eye of the Capitol's president, Mr. Snow. After all, Katniss and Peeta have mocked the Capitol and President Snow by "cheating" the Hunger Games and BOTH coming home alive -- accomplished by giving their viewers in the Capitol and in every District the impression they are madly in love with each other.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern
Released: September 2008

Thanks for the Memories is the fifth novel by bestselling author Cecelia Ahern. I've been working my way through all of Ahern's novels since I read P.S. I Love You years ago, and they have all been amazing!

In short, Thanks for the Memories is about a lonely woman who connects with a lonely man as a result of a blood transfusion.

Joyce Conway has recently experienced a terrible accident that caused her to lose her unborn baby. While in the hospital following her accident, Joyce was given a blood transfusion from an unknown blood donor.

Shortly after returning home from the hospital, Joyce manages to split up with her husband in the midst of stress and grief. She then begins to "remember" random extensive knowledge about history and architecture - subjects that were unfamiliar to her before her accident. In addition to her impressive, yet baffling encyclopediac knowledge, Joyce begins to have memories about people, places, and experiences she's never had.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Remember Me by Christopher Pike

Released: 1989

Christopher Pike is the author of nearly 100 books, most of which are written for teens and young adults. His first novel, Slumber Party, was published in 1985, and Pike has been cranking out numerous fun and terrifying novels ever since.

Remember Me is the story of Shari Cooper, a young woman who wakes up dead the morning after a party. Shari, along with her friends and family, think she may have committed suicide by jumping out of a building. Shari strolls around town like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense (and a Haley Joel Osment because yes, she can see other dead people!) and watches her family mourn her death in an all-too disturbing and realistic manner, which, if you're a child or a teenager reading this book, will influence and affect you for years to come.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

Released: 1981, 1984, 1991

If you are looking for the perfect, scariest, creepiest Halloween read, no horror novel will ever top the creepiness factor of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series written by Alvin Schwartz.

Alvin Schwartz's collections of short stories have been banned in the United States because they have been deemed satanic, horrific, and entirely too disturbing for children. If you've ever picked up one of Schwartz's books, you may understand why uptight, anti-fun-police citizens have wanted the books banished. After all, the book's illustrations are downright bone-chilling and just might give you nightmares, but only if you've never been exposed to any of the crime shows aired on basic network television, have never visited a circus, or have never experienced a busy shopping day at Walmart alongside the most scariest, trashiest people of the world.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What Came First by Carol Snow

Released: October 2011

If you read What Came First, it's unlikely you'll forget it anytime soon. It's the first novel I have ever read in which I absolutely hated and despised all the main characters; yet the plot was so haphazard and intricate all at the same time that I couldn't help but stay glued to its pages.

What Came First is centered around the lives of three women with one young, lackluster, Californian surfer man between them all named Eric Fergus.

Friday, August 5, 2011

In Search of the Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault

Released: July 2011

With a shared love for the paranormal, pre-teens Nora and Charlotte spend every afternoon obsessing over the supernatural with their babysitter, 16-year-old Rose. One day, Rose eerily disappears while walking home and ironically, Nora is the last person to see her alive. Nora and Charlotte use their vivid imaginations to conjure reasons for Rose's disappearance, thinking it may have something to do with alien abduction or some type of otherworldly entity. Using their paranormal Time-Life books as guides, the two girls try to locate Rose by using magic spells and holding seances. After years have passed and Nora and Charlotte are adults comfortable in their own separate lives, the remains of Rose are discovered and Nora is inexplicably pulled back to her hometown. Nora soon realizes that when viewing the disappearance from an adult perspective, she may have known what really happened to Rose all along.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith

Released: April 2010

The Double Comfort Safari Club is the 11th book in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith featuring female Botswana detectives Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi.

In this novel, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi once again have their fair share of seemingly normal, innocent mysteries to solve. The duo must locate a safari guide held in high regard by a late American guest who has left him a steep legacy, as well as investigate the husband of a local woman who suspects he is cheating, when it is actually more likely that she is the deceiving party in their relationship. Sprinkled with the usual anecdotes on living and leading a decent life in the style of Botswana, McCall Smith provides another cozy experience that will make you feel thankful and count your own blessings.

Friday, July 15, 2011

How to Set a Price for Your Self-Published E-Book

Congratulations! So you've made the smart decision of self-publishing your e-book, and now all you have to do is come up with the right price to sell it for. You don't want to sell your e-book for too low a price; yet you don't want to scare potential buyers off from setting too high a price.

Whatever price you designate, keep in mind that going the e-book route will allow you to keep the majority, if not 100% of your profits. Generally, if you had gone the print route with a publishing company, you would have earned about $0.64 for each $8 paperback sold, $0.75 for each $13 trade paperback sold, and $2.50 for each $25 hardcover book sold. You would have to sell an EXORBITANT amount of copies to earn a respectable profit that you deserve.

Here are important points to consider if you're at the stage of setting a price for your e-book. Use these tips to designate a price that is comfortable for you!

1) Use the psychological pricing method. Experts say you should always end your price in the numbers 5, 7, 8, or 9 because they are the most visually and mentally appealing. Stay away from the numbers 0 or 1 because they are the least appealing.

2) Determine the value of your e-book. Put yourself in the buyer's shoes when measuring the value. A perfect example is pricing an e-book that explains how to start a llama farm business. Imagine the time you would have to invest in researching how to even begin to start a llama farm business, but you can buy the e-book that explains the process and breaks it down into a simple step-by-step procedure for $8.97. Wouldn't it be a relief and much easier just to spend $8.97 and learn everything you need to know versus spending hours on research? It's best to measure the value of your e-book when setting a price.

3) Set a price within the impulse-buy threshold. People will usually make purchases based on emotion first and rationality second. Impulse-buy prices are usually set between $1.99 and $4.99. Some authors believe that buyers may not read impulse-buys and setting too low of a price may deter people from actually reading the e-book after being purchased. These are points to consider when setting your price within the impulse-buy threshold.

4) Compare your e-book to others in its genre or competitors. Take a look around the web and see what other self-publishers are charging for their e-books. Take note of their sales numbers and strategies to get a good idea. Stay away from e-books through publishers because their prices are usually grossly inflated. Remember -- since you're a self-publisher, no price you choose is set in stone! Perform tests and change your pricing later on if you feel it's too high or too low.

Are you a self-publisher with any best practices for determining e-book prices? Have you learned anything new about e-book pricing? Share it with us!
      How to Price eBooks for the Kindle: A Pocket Pricing Guide for Authors and Publishers to Maximize Sales and Royalties with the New 70 Percent Royalty Option    How To Really Sell EBooks    How to Market and Sell Your eBook - Everything You Need to Know to Make Money with ePublishing

Monday, July 11, 2011

Die Trying by Lee Child

Released: January 1998

Die Trying is the second novel in Lee Child's series featuring Jack Reacher, former member of the United States Army Special Forces and the most bad-ass wanderer and hero of present-day suspense novels.

Speak of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; Jack Reacher is wandering the streets of Chicago when his chivalry takes over to prevent a woman in crutches from falling down. Seconds later, Reacher and the woman are kidnapped at gunpoint and thrown in the trunk of a car. Reacher soon learns that the woman, Holly Johnson, is actually an FBI agent with a prominent father and that she is being held ransom at the hands of a militia group with nutsy views and demands. On the brink of being murdered, Reacher must fight back to save his own life and the lives of other innocents.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

How to Get an ISBN Number for Your Book

Obtaining an ISBN number is a smart business decision if you're self-publishing your book, and applies to both e-books and print books. From a profitability standpoint, ISBN numbers will allow nearly every online and brick-and-mortar book-selling venue to order and sell your book; plus it helps you, the publisher, to be identified easily for contact purposes if buyers want to order your book. While having an ISBN is not currently a legal requirement, it IS required by most booksellers.

Fortunately, getting an ISBN number is quite easy, so don't be overwhelmed when you learn you need to have one. It will definitely benefit you in the long run!

The U.S. ISBN Agency at Bowker is currently the official source of ISBN numbers in the United States, however there are some authorized agents that offer special services catering specifically to self-publishing authors.

Here are the steps you can take to obtain an ISBN number for your new book if you are located in the United States.

1) Visit to get started. On the right, click on the large button that says "Get your ISBN today!" to proceed.

2) Click on the "buy now" button next to the option for purchasing a single ISBN.

3) Click on the "checkout" button below the shopping cart that displays your product description.

4) Click on the "New Bowker customer" button to create an account.

5) Type your information into the required fields. You will be asked to provide your name, physical address and email address as well as a username and password for the Bowker website. After reviewing the registration terms, click on the "I Accept - Create my Account" button to proceed. You will then receive a confirmation email that completes your registration.

6) Log into your account and finalize your ISBN purchase. After your registration is complete, you will have the option to click on the shopping cart icon in the upper-right corner and enter your payment information.

7) Enter your book's information to have it added to the Bowker database. After you have paid for your ISBN number, click on the "My Account" link toward the top of the website, then click on the ISBN number you just purchased to bring up the title form. The following page will allow you to enter your book's details and information; such as the title, the cover image, the description, the selling price and much more. When you have finished, scroll back to the top of the page and click on the "Save" button to finish.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Released: February 2005

Uglies is the first of four novels in the "Uglies" saga by Scott Westerfeld.

In 15-year-old Tally Youngblood's futuristic dystopian world, she is known as an "Ugly". When teenagers turn sixteen, they undergo complex plastic surgeries to become "Pretties", turning them all into mega-beautiful supermodel people whose job is to do nothing but party and get along with one another. Racial and social issues are no longer a problem, and everyone is perpetually happy for the rest of their lives.