Upcoming Book and Reading Holidays

There are quite a few special days dedicated to reading coming up in 2014. Here are a few of the national ones we celebrate:
  • Digital Learning Day - February 5, 2014
    From DigitalLearningDay.org:
  • "Digital Learning Day is about giving every child the opportunity to learn in a robust digital environment everyday, with the goal of success in college and a career. We urge you to make a difference with digital learning in America's schools and take the pledge to support the effective use of technology to improve education for all students."
  • Freedom of Information Day - March 16, 2014
    From FirstAmendmentCenter.org:
"National FOI Day is an annual, daylong program of speaking and discussion by specialists in various aspects of freedom of information."
  • School Library Month - April 2014, 2014
    From the American Association of School Librarians (ala.org):
"School Library Month (SLM) is the American Association of School Librarians' (AASL) celebration of school librarians and their programs. Every April school librarians are encouraged to create activities to help their school and local community celebrate the essential role that strong school library programs play in a student's educational career."
  • National Drop Everything and Read Day -"D.E.A.R. Day" - April 12, 2014
    From DropEverythingandRead.com:
    "D.E.A.R. stands for “Drop Everything and Read,” a national month-long celebration of reading designed to remind folks of all ages to make reading a priority activity in their lives."
  • National Library Week - April 13-19, 2014
    From ala.org:
    "Celebrate National Library Week 2014 with the theme, 'Lives change @ your library'." 
    World Book Night - April 23, 2014
    From the ala.org:
"WORLD BOOK NIGHT is a celebration of literacy by publishers, bookstores, libraries and individuals who love books and reading. On WORLD BOOK NIGHT – Wednesday, April 23, 2014 -- 25,000 “book givers” will each give away 20 copies of a specially-printed, not-for-resale WBN edition of book they have read and loved (from a list of 30 titles selected by librarians and booksellers) to complete strangers – people who may never have owned a book of their own." Fun!
  • Library Card Sign-up Month - September 2014
    From AtYourLibrary.org:
"[During this month] the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries all across the country are celebrating the value of getting a library card."
  • Banned Books Week - September 21-27, 2014
    From BannedBooksWeek.org:
"Banned Books Week is the national book community's annual celebration of the freedom to read. Hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events."
  • Picture Book Month - November 2014
    From PictureBookMonth.com:
"Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book during the month of November. Every day in November, there is a new post from a picture book champion explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important."

Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

Book blurb:
The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.
I liked this book, I really did, but the problem with series is that they sometimes end at awful times, such as this book. But that is the end and I'll start at the beginning.

The book is set in 1838, where women in society were considered property. Finding herself in a desperate situation at 17, Julia is easily manipulated. The mystery that surrounds Mr. Macy, a man who ends up her husband, was fun to read, and I wish I had all the books to finish the story at one sitting. People in Victorian society were easily judged, and I found reading this book (and others in this time period) not so forgiving of others.

Julia never speaks up or voices her opinion. She practically goes along with whatever she is told. It may sound frustrating now, but in the early 1800s, what was a girl to do in her situation: not much else. The story is a Gothic romance, and Dotta's writing style flows easily from scene to scene. Her descriptions of what life was like back then was great. I enjoyed the many layers that she writes about, and I will look for the other books as they come out.

Book Information:
Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.

Lichgates: Book One of the Grimoire Saga by S.M. Boyce

Book Trailer:
Kara Magari is about to discover a beautiful world full of terrifying things—Ourea.
Kara, a college student still reeling from her mother’s recent death, has no idea the hidden world of Ourea even exists until a freak storm traps her in a sunken library. With no way out, she opens an ancient book of magic called the Grimoire and unwittingly becomes its master, which means Kara now wields the cursed book’s untamed power. Discovered by Ourea's royalty, she becomes an unwilling pawn in a generations-old conflict—a war intensified by her arrival. In this world of chilling creatures and betrayal, Kara shouldn’t trust anyone… but she’s being hunted and can’t survive on her own. She drops her guard when Braeden, a native soldier with a dark secret, vows to keep her safe. And though she doesn’t know it, her growing attraction to him may just be her undoing.
For twelve years, Braeden Drakonin has lived a lie. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. Though he begins to care for this human girl, there is something he wants more. He wants the Grimoire.
Welcome to Ourea, where only the cunning survive.
Book One of the Grimoire Saga starts out fast enough: Kara, seeking solitude after the death of her mother, enjoys hiking in the wilderness alone. Being in the outdoors is what they did together and nature soothes her. Her hike quickly turns her world upside down as she discovers a secret passage through the Lichgates. Literally into another world.

Little does she know that what she has now become, a Vagabond and ruler of a powerful book, is something that her supposed guardian has been searching for - for twelve years. I loved this story. The author transported me into another world, and I felt I was with Kara. And while I really liked Kara and her very quick thinking at times, I so felt for Braeden and his incomplete journey to the Grimoire.

Lichgates was fast paced and well-written for a fantasy tale. It is difficult to describe another world but Boyce does it smoothly. This is a series, and Lichgates is book one. There are four books in the series: Lichgates; Treason; Heritage (soon to be published); and Illusion (anticipated in 2014). If all the books bring the characters to life as the first one, this will be a great series to collect.

Book Information:
Disclosure book was provided by the author and any opinions are my own. This book was part of an ABG Reads Author Services Book Tour.

The Book Publisher's Toolkit

Book Trailer:
If you are a self-published author who wants to sell more books, a new publisher looking for ways to market your content without breaking the bank, or a growing publisher searching for the latest tools to take your business to the next level, then "The Book Publishers Toolkit: 10 Practical Pointers for Independent and Self Publishers Volume 1," will bring you the hands-on tools and techniques needed to navigate an industry where the only constant is perpetual change.
Whether you want to jump-start your marketing efforts, expand your social media outreach, get how-to ebook tips and much more, you’ll find hands-on tools in these pages. Written by a wide variety of talented professionals who generously donate their time, energy and expertise to IBPA, the not-for-profit Independent Book Publishers Association, each piece originally appeared in the "Independent," IBPA’s monthly member magazine.
Publishing industry experts who contributed to this work are Kate Bandos, Kimberley Edwards, Joel Friedlander, Steve Gillen, Abigail Goben, Tanya Hall, Brian Jud, Stacey Miller, Kathleen Welton, and David Wogahn.
The experts putting this book or 'toolkit' together - just worked on what really matters in the world of book publishing. Rather than it being a how to guide to step by step publishing, it is a series of articles relating to the world.

The 10 article titles: Getting and Using Awards; Tapping Into Twitter Expertise; Let's Hear It for the Long Tail; Acquiring the Right Rights: Will Your Contract Keep Up with the Markets for Your Books; A Librarian Talks About Choosing Books to Buy; Build a Powerful Platform with a Simple Brand Audit; Marketing Plans for First Books; Why Authors Hate Social Networking, and How to Get Them to Promote Books Online Anyway; Growing Connections That Count; and E-book Conversions: Ten Pointers to Ensure Reader Enjoyment (and Minimize Ebook Returns).

As the titles suggest, just about everything is covered in a tips and tools sort of way. Hearing about the different authors firsthand account of writing situations made it much more valuable than if this were simply a do-it-yourself guide.

Book Information:
Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.

Giuliano Hazan's Thirty Minute Pasta: 100 Quick and Easy Recipes

Thirty Minute Pasta by Giuliano Hazan has a little bit of everything related to pastas, not just recipes. Contents include The Many Shapes of Pastas where he details different pastas, both flour and water and egg pastas, and suggests best pairings for them: tagliatelle for Bolognese Sauce; bucatini for robust sauces; fusilli and rigatoni for chunky sauces; cavatappi for soups; and spahettini for simple, savory sauces.
Read the full review of Giuliano Hazan's Thirty Minute Pasta, and try the recipe for Spaghetti with a Savory Tomato Sauce (Spaghetti alla Puttanesca) on The CookBook Papers


Miss Chatterley Part I: Hungry by Logan Belle

As with other Belle's work, the characters are well-defined and likable. Even the guy who has long lost interest in his supposed life partner. Connie Chatterley uproots her life to move across the country with her long term boyfriend, Cliff, for a business opportunity. It seems he is a tech genius focused on his business and the possibility to change their lives forever financially. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost as the more effort he puts into the business, the less he puts in his relationship with Connie. Eventually, it is as though Cliff treats Connie as if she wasn't there.

Read the full review of Miss Chatterley Part I: Hungry on Hot Enough Books.

Wonderful Palindrome on the Jobs of Translators

Wonderful palindrome on the jobs of translators - but you must watch the whole thing to get the full message. One of best palindromes I've heard and I love the reader's voice, too.

Banned Books Week

Great infographic on the top 10 banned or challenged classics.

Banned Books Infographic from Book-Pal.com
Presented By BookPal

American Tuna: The Rise and Fall of an Improbable Food by Andrew F. Smith

Americans have had a long love affair with tuna, and American Tuna by Andrew F. Smith is just as good for a sociology read as a history one. With interweaving facts, interesting trivia bits, and historical recipes, he turns the facts he finds into a fun if cautionary tale of the tuna canning industry.

Our love for tuna is evidenced with the longevity of such recipes as tuna melts, tuna noodle casserole, tuna salad (including Nicoise), and others. It wasn't always that way. Tuna had to be sold to consumers as early catches. Tuna was originally caught for fish oil or fertilizer, but once food came into the mix, fishing soon became out of control and conservation was an issue.

The famous Tuna Club of Avalon:
[Their] main interest was to promote the sportsmanlike approach to saltwater fishing with rods and reels in hopes of stopping the massive slaughter of fish along the coast of Southern California by sportfishermen who caught thousands of fish with hand lines, only to toss them overboard.

Tuna Recipes and Advertising

There is a history of advertising with recipe booklets. How advertisers used (and still use) collections of recipes to promote their brands is interesting. Since tuna was new in the early 1900s, they had to be creative to get consumers, mainly housewives, 'into' their product. Instead of creating something new, they often simply tweaked recipes using this new product.
The goal of early tuna recipes was to add tuna or replace another fish or meat ingredient with tuna in existing recipes.
The first known publishing of the famous creamed tuna is found in the The Los Angeles Tuna Company's Panama Brand Tuna recipe booklet. Since tuna manufacturer's had little space to advertise a recipe they started the practice of printing them on the inside of the labels. Celebrated chefs, such as Jean Vulpat of the Hotel del Coronado, started using tuna in their menus.

From Trendy to Mainstay

Canned tuna became a cheap staple in households from WWI to the 1920s. The tuna casserole made its appearance in the 1930s and by the 1950s was a national comfort food. Because of the increased interest in tuna, consumer demand skyrocketed. Smith details what went on 'behind the scenes' so that factories and the fishing industry could meet consumer demand. He backs up his findings with a long bibliography so you can further your research (a good quarter of the book is 'notes.').

A great read for anyone with an interest in either the fishing industry, or historical recipes. He adds a few in the book to try.

Book Information:
Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.

Canal House Cooking Volume 4: Farm Markets and Gardens by Hamilton and Hirsheimer

Canal House Cooking Volume 4: Farm Markets and Gardens

The 4th volume of The Canal House Cooking recipe collections (seasonal cooking publications) is filled with fresh-sounding recipes and fresh-looking photographs. Canal House Cooking Volume No. 4: Farm Markets and Gardens incorporates the best produce from the different seasons and turns them into inviting recipes.

Read the full review and try the recipe for the anchovy-laced tomato butter on The Cookbook Papers cookbook review blog.

Enjoy :)

Let's Get Digital by David Gaughran

If you are interested in self-publishing and publishing digital versions of your book, David Graughran's book Let's Get Digital (available on Smashwords, and on his website) is an excellent primer necessary in starting out. A little background on David Graughran: he is a short story writer, and considered by some an expert in the field of self-publishing e-books. His blog contains all things digital-publishing, and all of his books are only available via e-book format, so if you are looking for a trade book publication to pack in your tote, you won't find one from this writer. What you will find from his blog is simply all things related to digital publishing and ways to get there from start to finish, which is the subject of Let's Get Digital.

The book has three main parts: Part One: Digital Revolution; Part Two: Digital Self-Publishing; and Part Three: Success Stories. The Appendixes at the back contain resources and info about the author.

Let's Get Digital Chapters and Overview

The first part of the book is for anyone still deciding on whether to go the route of e-publishing. Part One is The Digital Revolution, and Graughran lists out his reason author's should consider self-publishing. Writer's have full control (and absolute responsibility) of the editing if it is self-published, and have to go through the same steps as any printed book as far as getting it to 'print.' Formatting, editing, and marketing are all still needed. He makes good cases on why a writer should self-publish, and provides examples on how the market is changing to support his theories.

The royalties part is surprising to anyone to who has picked up a book at a bookstore for the list price and thinks the author is getting rich by that sale alone. It is very surprising to realize that once the retailer, publisher, and agent get their cut of the book, very little is actually left for the writer, the one who did all the work in the first place writing it. With an e-book, little overhead is needed (shipping/storage/printing). Now that traditional publishers are beginning to take note of this, more and more print publishers are offering e-books to their customers, but keeping all the profits that would otherwise go to overhead. With self-publishing digital versions of your book, everything (profit) is yours to keep.

Part Two goes into the digital self-publishing nitty-gritty itself. Whether you are just getting into this form of writing, or have self-published already, his steps are insightful and you will learn something new from his discoveries through his steps.

Gaughran's Steps to Self-Publishing:
  • Write Your Story
  • Design Your Cover
  • Edit Your Story
  • Format Your Story
  • Uploading and Pricing
  • Blogging and Websites
  • Social Networking
  • Reviews
  • Competitions, Discounts, Giveaways and Blog Tours
  • What Happens When Your Sales Just Stop?
Success Stories and Examples

The last part is the most interesting as it lists success stories from 33 different writers who have shared their experiences and success with self-publishing, all in their own words. The sharing of their stories is important as it brings the case that self-publishing possibilities isn't just one writer's (the author of Let's Get Digital) opinion, it is real life experiences that other's share on their journeys.

In all, Let's Get Digital a really great read for anyone who is just starting out or for those who have a low opinion of self-published digital works. The self-published e-book you just passed over for the glossy print offered from a giant publisher could be written by a person not running the rat race of agents/publishing houses and instead making a comfortable life doing what they love: writing. The stories of Michael Hicks, Beth Orsoff, Sibel Hodge, Terri Reid, Stacey Wallace Benefiel, and others back it up.

Book Information:
  • Let's Get Digital: How to Self-Publish, And Why You Should; by David Gaughran
  • Arriba Arriba Books, 2011

500 Silver Jewelry Designs: The Powerful Allure of a Precious Metal

For anyone who wears silver jewelry, or has created jewelry out of silver, you know how utilitarian yet beautiful it is. The color of silver can be worn up or down, dressy or casual, with lots of colored gems or beads or all by itself. If you are interested in designing silver pieces or viewing some truly terrific designs, 500 Silver Jewelry Designs would certainly give ideas.

Read the full review of 500 Silver Jewelry Designs on Sew Now This.

Surviving Your Serengeti: 7 Skills to Master Business & Live

Stefan Swanepoel helps readers identify which unique skills they possess through a fable that takes place in the African Serengeti. The fable revolves around the personal struggles of Sean and Ashley, a married couple who come to Africa and meet others who are struggling just as they are, but in different ways.

Through exploring the surrounding landscape, witnessing the great migration of animals, and listening to a guide and friend's insights on animals, each person on safari discovers their unique strengths or skills related to one of seven animals:
  • Wildebeest: Endurance
  • Lion: Strategy
  • Crocodile: Enterprising
  • Cheetah: Efficiency
  • Giraffe: Grace
  • Mongoose: Risk Taking
  • Elephant: Communication
A skills summary at the end of each chapter gives insight on how to utilize the skill sets of each, and how to maximize the skill in everyday life and in business. A unique book on how to identify a skill set, it also offers tips on how to identify which one you are.

I liked that it shows obstacles for some traits, and how to overcome them. The fictional story set in the heart of Africa doesn't make the book seem like a business goals or personal growth book, and makes the skillsets more tangible with examples. Recommended reading for both personal and business use in developing skillsets.

Book Information:
  • Surviving Your Serengeti: 7 Skills to Master Business and Live; by Stefan Swanepoel
  • John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2011
  • ISBN13: 9780470947807
  • Hardcover, jacket; 176 pages

Disclosure: This book was provided by the author and any opinions are my own.



The Hour That Matters Most by Les and Lesie Parrott

If getting the family together for a dinner meal seems next to impossible, apparently you're not alone. Les & Leslie Parrott's new book The Hour That Matters Most (2011, ISBN13 9781414337449) shows that while it is hard to do with everyone's schedule in different directions, it can really help the family unit.

According to the authors, dinnertime is the one time that brings the family together through conversation and a meal. But they also state that the 'hour that matters most' doesn't have to be dinner - it's a meal where the entire family can sit down with each other, hopefully on a regular basis. An example in the book was where a busy family shared breakfast together each morning since the evenings were so harried.

The Hour That Matters Most gives practical advice for busy parents to use, with meal suggestions and recipes. The home-dinner team of Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna of Dream Dinners contributed to dinner help and how to plan for it. All the authors point out that eating together is more important than the actual food being served, or even the time of day it is served at. It's about bonding with the family. For those who are busy, it's a great book to help with structuring and a meal with conversation tips, etiquette guidelines, and how to encourage kids to listen, and how to identify conflict triggers at the dinner table.

Book Information:
  • The Hour That Matters Most: The Suprising Power of the Family Meal; by Les and Leslie Parrot, with Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna
  • Tyndale House Publishers
  • ISBN13: 9781414337449
  • Softcover, 180 pages
Disclosure: This book was provided to me from Tyndale House Publishers. Any opinions are my own.

Wrestling with the Devil by Lex Luger

Book Trailer:
Lex Luger, wrestling megasensation and three-time world heavyweight champion, ruled the ring for years as “The Total Package.” Whether he was making a dramatic entrance from a helicopter, defeating champ Hulk Hogan, or sculpting a near-perfect physique, Lex was on top of his game. Yet backstage, he was wrestling with addictions to sex, drugs, and alcohol—things he clung to even when his mistress died suddenly of a drug overdose and Lex went to jail. There, Lex faced the truth: he was losing the fight for his life. And still awaiting him was his most brutal opponent yet, when the wrestling champ found himself helplessly paralyzed from the neck down. In Wrestling with the Devil, Lex Luger reveals never-before-told stories from his career, his struggle with personal demons, and how, through unexpected faith, grace, and redemption, he overcame all odds to fight the only battle that really matters.
This is a sad and moving account by Lex Luger himself. His ability to turn his life around was remarkable and I was moved by how brutally honest he was with his addictions and indiscretions. And how he convinced himself of all the things that were so wrong for him were right.

In Luther's book, he describes how easy it is in the beginning to lie to yourself about what you really want out of life, and telling yourself you're the greatest thing in the world. He removed himself from those most important, his wife and children. Only when he lost everything, literally, did he find the strength to trust and love himself.

Great read for anyone looking for a good redemption story. Although he lost a lot along the way to find his fulfillment.

The publisher is offering a free book. Below is the entry form.
The giveaway has ended and the winner has been notified. Thanks!

Book Information:
Author Info:

Lex Luger is a former pro football player and world champion wrestler. His meteoric rise in the ring masked a self-destructive and relentless drive for fame and fortune fueled by money, possessions, and addiction. Only divine intervention saved him from himself. Since his spiritual awakening in 2006, Lex now cautions others on the dangers of wrong decisions and encourages people to make positive life choices.

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.