HOW TO BLOG LIKE A PRO by Linda B. Collins – BOOK REVIEW

HOW TO BLOG LIKE A PRO
By Linda B. Collins
Genre: Non-Fiction, How-To

* I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review.*

I had high hopes for this book. Since my blog is only a few months old I am very interested in making it more appealing to my current and potential followers.

I was put off this book right from the introduction. It is hard to take someone’s advice seriously when what they have written comes across as amateurish. An introduction is just that. It is the reader’s first impression of not only the author, but of the expected content of their book.

The introduction seems to me like it was written by someone whose first language is not english. That in itself is not a bad thing, but without a competent editor and/or proofreader it comes across as amateurish. This is not the impression an author should want to make. If you are writing a book about blogging “like a pro” then what you write should come across as professional.

For example, the author writes:

“It’s true that the more you read, the more you write better and the more you write the more you write the better.”

This is atrocious grammar. It should read: ” It is true that the more you read, the better your writing will be.” This sounds much more professional and actually makes sense.

This is just one example of many.

Another example:

“Blogging is an amazing experience to discover yourself, know new things about yourself, know about the skills you have and you never know you have.”

My response to that sentence can be summed up best with one word: Yikes!

It should read:

“Blogging can be an amazing experience of self-discovery. Through blogging you will learn more about yourself and perhaps even discover skills that you never knew you possessed.”

There are other problems with this book that need improvement as well.

The author has a horrible habit of using “smilies” such as “:D” this is just ridiculous and again comes across as childish and unprofessional.

The author writes that “… trough many trails and errors I finally started blogging.” I have to assume that she meant to say “Through (not trough) many trials (not trails) and errors I finally started blogging.”

It is errors and typos such as those I have pointed out that will turn readers away from this book. It is impossible to take advice from someone who did not take the time to proofread their product before offering it to the public.

I never want to give an author a low rating on a book. It takes quite a bit of time and effort to write and publish a book. I respect all authors and even when I feel compelled to give a low rating for the sake of honesty, I still applaud the author for their efforts.

There are some valid points and how to’s in this book, and with some polishing, editing and proof reading this book will receive better ratings in the future. In it’s current incarnation I can only rate it as 1 out of 5 stars.

THE LAST RUNAWAY by Tracy Chevalier – AUDIOBOOK REVIEW

THE LAST RUNAWAY
By: Tracy Chevalier

I listened to the unabridged audiobook of “The Last Runaway”.

The year is 1850 and Honor Bright, a Quaker girl from England arrives in America with her sister after a sea crossing spent in misery from sea-sickness.

They have travelled to America where Honor’s sister is to wed a Quaker man in Ohio. However, shortly after arriving in America Honor’s sister contracts yellow fever and dies. Honor is now all alone in a strange land. She is forced to rely on the kindness of strangers to help her reach her new home. She is not even sure if she will still be welcome since it was her sister who was to be married, not Honor.

Honor is a talented seamstress and quilt maker and upon arrival in Ohio she meets a woman named Belle who owns a Milliner’s shop. Recognizing Honor’s talent with a sewing needle, Belle immediately puts Honor to work sewing bonnets and hats. Honor stays with Belle for several days while waiting for her sister’s fiancé to arrive to take her to her new home. During that time she meets Belle’s brother, Donovan.

Donovan is a slave-catcher and he is a handsome devil. Honor cannot help but feel attracted to him, even though as a Quaker she opposes slavery and must marry a fellow Quaker.

After moving to Faithwell, Ohio and staying with her sister’s ex-fiance for several weeks, she realizes that she cannot live with him indefinitely. She meets and marries a local farmer named Jack Haymaker.

Somehow along the way she gets involved with the Underground Railroad. She believes it is her duty to help any runaway slave that needs assistance. However, with the “Fugitive Slave Act” becoming law, her family could be fined or even imprisoned for helping runaway slaves. This presents a moral dilemma. Does she follow her conscious and heart or does she give in the wishes of her in-laws.

This book is a fascinating look at the life of a Quaker, newly arrived to America, and how she settles into her new life in a strange land.

Even though this is a fiction novel the author has thoroughly researched the era and the setting. This research is evident in the multitude of small details and make listening to this audiobook more enjoyable and fascinating.

The author has done an admirable job of writing details of the ingrained prejudices of the time period.

The Quakers of the time had a policy of opposing any and all forms of slavery. But, in practice some Quakers would rather turn a blind eye than offer assistance to runaway slaves. It is this dilemma that is central to Honor’s story.

This book is fascinating and complex. It examines many issues that faced the early settlers of America and the difficulties and challenges they faced when trying to carve a life for themselves out of a land that did not always want to cooperate.

I rate this audiobook as 5 out of 5 stars. Anyone who is interested in American history or in historical fiction will enjoy this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tracy Chevalier is the author of “The Girl With The Pearl Earring.”

To learn more about the author visit http://www.tchevalier.com

An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund – BOOK REVIEW

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AN UNCERTAIN CHOICE
By: Jody Hedlund

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance

Publication Date: March 3, 2015

* I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

The year is 1390. Lady Rosemarie Montfort is one month away from her eighteenth birthday. Her parents died four years earlier and upon their death she learned that they had made a sacred vow that stated she must enter the convent upon turning eighteen.

On her eighteenth birthday she would also take on full leadership of running the lands she had inherited from her parents. For the past four years she had been running the lands with the help and guidance of Abbot Francis Michael. She was more than ready to do away with his assistance since they often disagreed, especially when it came to her determination to be a kind, compassionate and generous ruler. He did not like that she spent so much money assisting the poor and that she forbade the sheriff from torturing criminals.

With only a month to go before entering a life of celibacy in the convent Rosemarie has accepted her fate. However, a visit from a dear family friend may change everything. He has discovered that there is an exception to the vow. If Lady Rosemarie is able to find true love and marry before her birthday, she will be released fron the vow. To that end, he has brought his three most noble and trust-worthy knights with him. He proposes that the three men spend the month vying for her affection in the hope that she will fall in love with one of them.

A month to find true love? It seems impossible. Or is it?

This is a fun read. What young woman could resist the attentions of three handsome young knights? The fact that all three are trying to win her heart makes it seem like a medieval version of the television show The Bachelorette.

This book would be the perfect March Break beach read. It’s light subject matter and romantic theme make it the ultimate vacation book. Maybe it will even inspire those vacationing readers to take a chance on a holiday romance. Who knows, they may even find their own true love.

I rate this book as 4 out of 5 stars.

To learn more about this author visit http://www.jodyhedlund.com

 

 

DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN by Elizabeth Fixmer – BOOK REVIEW

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DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN
By: Elizabeth Fixmer

Publication Date: March 1, 2015

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

* I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

I have always had a strange fixation with cults and cult-like religions such as the polygamist ex-Mormon sects from Utah. The television show that was popular a few years ago called “Big Love” was a show I watched religiously (pun intended) every week. It was fascinating to me that the women on that show saw nothing wrong with the way they chose to live. Because I have no particular belief system it boggles my mind what some people can be convinced to believe.

Cults have been around for a long time and there are quite a few groups that are active in the United States to this day.

This book may be fiction, but it highlights an issue that is very much a part of the lives of thousands of Americans every day. Children raised in these isolated communities know nothing else. If they are taught to believe in a specific set of principles by their parents, they have no reason to question whether these practices are right or wrong. They quite simply do not know that they have a choice.

In “Down From The Mountain” the story begins with fourteen year old Eva attending church. The culture of fear in which she lives is evident from the very first paragraph.

“I try not to stare at the discipline paddle that hangs on the wall near the bare table we use as an altar. Fourteen swats if I mess up the Bible passage. One swat for every year of age.”

Right away the reader must ask themselves what kind of church has a discipline paddle beside the altar? I know that in Ontario, Canada where I live, it is illegal to hit a child. If a child were “paddled” in church the police would be called and child abuse charges would be laid.

Eva has been taught to believe that God talks to Reverend Ezekiel and “has given him the job of shepherding us to keep us pure.” The Reverend gives out rewards and punishments to keep his followers on “the righteous path.”

Eva and her friends Annie and Jacob live in a closed community surrounded by an electric fence. They belong to a group that call themselves “Righteous Path.” They refer to everyone who is not part of their group as “heathens.” They believe that only 444 people will survive Armageddon and go to Heaven and that they are among the chosen few.

Eva and her mother joined the community when Eva was only four years old. When they joined her mother sold their home and belongings and turned over all the money to Reverend Ezekiel. This is common practice for cults. It keeps the cults coffers full and because the members no longer have money or possessions of their own, they are reliant on the leader for everything.

Eva knows that she must follow all the rules set out by Reverend Ezekiel. These include not showing too much pride, keeping her heart pure, not being selfish, not wearing jewelry, being demure, not speaking to the heathens, etc. Basically she must be pure in thought and deed.

Eva loves school. Even if they only have a few textbooks and most of the information in them has been blacked out to avoid them learning worldly ways, Eva craves knowledge. They used to have a few novels including the first Narnia book, which Eva adored, but Ezekiel burned them all as being inappropriate. He believes that girls only need to learn to read so that they can read the bible.

The problem arises when Ezekiel calls Eva into his office and announces that she is almost a woman. He has already married every woman on the compound and they rotate which of them spends the night in his trailer. Eva is terrified that he will want to marry her too. Thankfully it isn’t marriage that he wants to talk to her about … Yet. He assigns her to make jewelry to sell at a local flea market to the heathens.

When Eva gets a look at what the outside world is really like, she begins to have questions. How can all the nice people she meets be agents of Satan? Is it so bad to come up with ways to make more money for the group? Why is it wrong for her to want to read books? Is the outside world really evil? And most of all, she begins to question whether or not she believes Ezekiel is right about God and heaven.

This book illustrates the brainwashing and the culture of fear that cult children grow up with. I believe that it is important that books like this are written, published and marketed to young adults. They need to know that sometimes evil comes in the guise of a Prophet or Priest. This book will open the eyes of many who read it who were not aware that cults like this exist in our modern society.

I give this book a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. It is a quick but dramatic read.

To learn more about this author go to http://www.elizabethfixmer.com

ANOMALY by Tonya Kuyper – BOOK REVIEW

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ANOMALY
By: Tonya Kuper (Debut author)

Genre: Young Adult
Version of Book: Paperback
Length: 284 pages

ANOMALY is author, Tonya Kuyper’s debut novel.

Josie’s birthday already sucks, and it’s only noon. Her boyfriend breaks up with her because she won’t “put out.” Her father is off somewhere on business and she hasn’t talked to him in months and she just found out that the summer internship she had been counting on has fallen through. All in all her seventeenth birthday seriously sucks.

Two teenagers pull into the school parking lot riding motorcycles. She is intrigued and silently wishes that when the lead rider takes off his helmet that he will look like her dream guy. No sooner than she makes the wish, she experiences a brief, but intense migraine. To her surprise, when the helmet is removed, he looks EXACTLY how she hoped he would; right down to the tattoo peeking out of his sleeve.

His name is Reid Wentworth and he is there to secretly keep Josie safe. It is also his job to shatter Josie’s world. He knows all about her. In fact, he knows more about her than Josie knows about herself.

Josie is looked at by her classmates as a “nerd”. She readily admits to being different, and even a bit nerdy, but as far as she is concerned, she is not a nerd. She prefers to be called a “dork” – thank you very much.

When weird things start happening to her, Josie learns that her world is nothing like she thought it was. Josie also learns that she is special. She is capable of amazing things. She is able to “Push” objects into existence.

Reid tells her that there are people looking for her and that if they find her they will not hesitate to kill her and her entire family.

Josie and Reid must complete a special mission and stay alive, all while being hunted by a powerful organization.

ANOMALY is so well written and thoroughly thought out that readers will be shocked to discover that this is author Tonya Kuyper’s first book. Judging by ANOMALY, this author has a great future ahead of her. I am now a fan!

This book actually made me laugh out loud a few times. Tonya Kuper writes some terrific one-liners such as: “I felt like I was wearing Princess Leia’s buns at a Star Trek convention.” Those who aren’t Sci-Fi fans may not get the joke, but for those of us who are, this is a great joke.

Despite the moments of hilarity, this book has a wonderfully written dramatic side and is not only a science fiction/ adventure story but also a tale of coming-of-age.

This book is the first in a series. I hope the next book is released soon. Too bad I can’t just “Push” a copy for myself right now!
I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tonya Kuyper earned an MS in Reading Education. It was during her education when she fell in love with the Young Adult genre. She is now a married Mom with two boys and lives in Nebraska.

To learn more about this author, visit her online at http://www.tonyakuyper.com

To read more of my reviews, visit my blog at https://amiesbookreviews.wordpress.com

Favorite Quotes:

“She reminded me of Tinkerbell – sassy and cute until you pissed her off.”

“This ass with the action-figure hair was breaking up with me – on my birthday!”