Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Left in the Dark" by Lynn Tincher

Emphasis shifts from Paige to Junna and from mind reading to demonic possession in Left in the Dark, the second installment in Lynn Tincher's Mind Bending series. The relationship between the newly reunited sisters is explored in greater depth as they continue to explore their psychic abilities. Their bond is strengthened as they work to save two children in danger.

Junna dreams of Hannah, a troubled girl who is exhibiting strange behavior. Hannah is terrified after being scratched by a shadow figure in the night. Yet she demonstrates a strong mental power by attempting to strangle Randy - a mind reader and her legal guardian, without the use of her hands. The contradiction between her overwhelming fear and her menacing strength has Randy at his wit's end.

When Randy's connects with Junna through her dreams, she arrives on his doorstep with Paige in tow and instantly forms a connection with Hannah. Paige decides to invite Randy and Hannah to her home for Christmas in the hope that together the three of them can help the girl.

But Paige is having trouble coming to terms with her psychic tendencies. As she tries to find a missing boy, she feels mentally blocked. As her relationship with Jay progresses, she fears that he is not truly accepting her new found abilities. She does not want to rush into marriage and is afraid that Jay is planning to propose on Christmas.

Yet Paige achieves a breakthrough when she is able to find the kidnapped boy. But her triumph is short-lived when Hannah's arrival quickly turns violent. Paige, Junna and Randy turn to their FBI contact, Agent Riggs. He calls in an exorcist named Evan. Junna is immediately attracted to Evan but her insecurity keeps her from making a move.

During the exorcism, things get intense when Hannah begins growling and a masculine voice comes from her unmoving lips. When Paige makes eye contact with the girl, she is transported to a psychic realm and encounters a familiar adversary. It is up to Junna and Randy to enter this dimension to save Paige and rid Hannah of her tormentor.

The conclusion offers a glimpse into the plot line of the third book as the roles of Paige, Junna and Randy are defined in a far reaching way. Does death really bring an end to a psychic's abilities? Does the quest for revenge live on?

In terms of plot, Tincher ups her game in the sequel. She masterfully weaves the interactions of the main characters while introducing new faces into the mix. The relationship of Paige and Jay is put to the test. While the interior life of Junna is more fully explored. The introduction of Randy and Evan into Junna's life foreshadows a possible love triangle.

The overuse of certain characteristics is a drawback. Paige's obsession with the amount of cream and sugar in her coffee is overstated and she spends too much time in the bathtub/shower. For upcoming editions, presenting the characters in new ways is required.

Overall, Tincher delivers in the sequel and leaves the reader eagerly anticipating the third.

Left in the Dark by Lynn Tincher is available for $11.95 at Amazon.com and BlackWyrm.com.

A complimentary review copy was provided by BlackWyrm Publishing.

Also by Lynn Tincher: Afterthoughts

Enter to win a FREE copy of Afterthoughts and Left in the Dark by leaving a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on February 15, 2010.

Congratulations to our winner: GRGenius!

"Afterthoughts" by Lynn Tincher

When perusing a thriller, readers are expected to suspend their disbelief. Circumstances that are improbable in reality are readily accepted in a fictitious world where anything is possible. Such is the case in Lynn Tincher's Afterthoughts, the first installment in her Mind Bending suspense series. The main character, Paige Aldridge, is put through the wringer. Surviving a torturous kidnapping isn't enough. Three of her family members succumb to murder or suicide within days of each other. To top it off, she begins to experience violent mental flashbacks. Her life is thrown into a state of total upheaval.

How does she cope? With the help of a good man, of course. There's David, the frequently absent boyfriend. And then there's Jay, the ever dependable co-worker. As Jay steps in to comfort Paige, his feelings for her take a romantic turn. He doesn't want to take advantage of her vulnerability, but the anguish of his undisclosed attraction leaves him unraveled.

Paige is unsure of everything. She is a complete mess. While reeling from a set of tragic events, she is in a purely emotional state. Employed as a police detective, her rational, analytical side is not displayed because her mind is being manipulated by an outside force. Tincher introduces the concept of the collective conscious, an inner dimension composed of thoughts and dreams. It is Paige's kidnapper who begins bombarding her mind with imagery of murder. His psychic aptitude is strong enough to enter her mind at will. There is only one person who can help Paige – her long lost sister, Junna. The family's psychic abilities take center stage as the novel reaches a page-turning conclusion.

Overall, this is a quick and easy read that explores the power of mind manipulation.

Afterthoughts by Lynn Tincher is available for $11.95 at Amazon.com and BlackWyrm.com.

A complimentary review copy was provided by BlackWyrm Publishing.

Enter to win a FREE copy of Afterthoughts and Left in the Dark by leaving a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on February 15, 2010.

Congratulations to our winner: GRGenius!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Silent Girl" by Tricia Dower

Hamlet's Gertrude. The Taming of the Shrew's Katherina. Othello's Desdemona. The trials and tribulations of Shakespeare's immortal muses provide the narrative thread that weaves together a collection of eight short stories by Tricia Dower. The timeless nature of the Bard's female protagonists blends seamlessly into the contemporary feel of Silent Girl.

It is a modern masterpiece. Inanna Publications and Education, Inc. is to be commended for promoting the work of such a gifted writer. The publisher receives support from the Canada Council for the Arts and The Calgary Foundation for recognizing emerging talent. Dower's work is certainly deserving of the spotlight.

Each story has the power to stand alone, yet together their cohesiveness makes an all-encompassing statement on what it's like to be a woman regardless of age, location or race. Dower's fluid imagination is masterfully captured in the flawless technique of her prose. The substance of her ideas is expressed in a style that is both page-turning and thought-provoking.

I have done nothing but in the care of the / Of thee, my dear one, my daughter.
— Prospero to Miranda in The Tempest

Not Meant to Know depicts Linda, an 11-year-old girl in 1950s New Jersey who inadvertently learns about the facts of life from the troubling actions of those around her. The promiscuous defiance of her best friend. The unexpected death of a neighborhood recluse. The secret in her father's coat pocket. The innocence of her childhood is lost over the course of a summer.

This world to me is like a lasting storm.
— Marina in Pericles

Silent Girl is the headliner of the collection. The chaos of the 2004 Asian tsunami upends the life of Matsi, the title character. She is a Canadian citizen of Asian heritage vacationing in Thailand when the giant wave carries her mother away. The Wong family promises to bring Matsi home with them to Canada while her father remains to continue the search. However, the Wongs sell Matsi into the illegal sex trade. Her captors believe she is a native Thai citizen, and by remaining silent she withholds her true identity. As she clings to survival in a child prostitution ring in New Orleans, she
finds herself in the midst of Hurricane Katrina.

I see a woman may be made a fool / If she had not the spirit to resist.
— Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew

Kesh Kumay means "chasing the kiss." Dower was inspired to write this story by the documentary The Kidnapped Brides based on the rural tradition in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan. The main character Kyal is a university student who returns to her family's primitive existence. A man is chosen for her to marry, but unwittingly she finds he is of an open-minded nature. Beneath the surface of the male dominated environment, women like her grandmother hold more power than Kyal's modern sensibilities take into account.

I, that please some, try all.
— Time as Chorus in The Winter's Tale

Deep Dark Waves turns gender stereotypes about violence on their head. Sona's husband disappears with the couple's newborn daughter. As details of their married life emerge, it is revealed that she wanted her husband to physically assault her. Utterly desperate to break out of her emotional numbness, she cares little for the guilt she inflicted on her husband.

Emilia: O, who hath done this deed?
Desdemona: Nobody; I myself.
Othello

Nobody; I Myself delves into the topic of interracial marriage. An African-American husband returns home broken from a tour of duty in Vietnam. His Caucasian wife sacrifices everything to help him emerge from the abyss of his post-traumatic stress.

All that lives must die / Passing through nature to eternity.
— Gertrude in Hamlet

Passing Through relates how a son feels betrayed when his mother takes up with his uncle after his father's death. The conflict upends the fate of the family farm. The anguish of the son is told through the eyes of the mother.

Love sought is good, but given unsought is better.
— Olivia to Viola in Twelfth Night

Cocktails with Charles depicts the relationship of Mira and Angel, two single women who are trying to make ends meet. As a mother of two young boys, Angel is contemplating marrying a man she doesn't love in order to provide her children with financial stability. Mira implores her friend not to give into such a marriage and tries to convince her that the two of them are better off shifting for themselves.

I sprang not / more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child / than in first seeing he had proved himself a man
— Volumnia in Coriolanus

The Snow People: 30-46 AGM is a futuristic tale of a community of albinos, The Snows, oppressed by a more technologically savvy society, The Rainbows. With man's destruction of the environment, coastal flooding leaves a sparse amount of land for the remaining population. Hope seems lost until the teenage boy, Akin, receives a prophetic dream that might lead to the salvation of The Snows.

Overall, this collection is a tour de force from an author employing Shakespearean characters as a springboard for illustrating the condition of modern women.

Silent Girl by Tricia Dower is available for $22.95 at SPD.com and TriciaDower.com.

A complimentary review copy was provided by Tricia Dower.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Crack'd Up: Crackhead Tales of Addiction & Recovery" by Sheryl Johnson

Sheryl Johnson is the real deal. Crack addicts are a tricky lot. They can zone out for days at a time, but when the urge strikes they hunt their next hit with an unshakable focus. It makes sense that if they were going to take advice, it would come from one of their own. Someone who has felt the desperation of being on her hands and knees combing through the carpet for remaining grains. She represents in the flesh that change is possible.

Crack'd Up is written in the language of the street. It's not meant to be grammatically correct. The book's style provides a sense of familiarity for its intended audience. For readers not immersed in the drug culture, Johnson provides a glossary of common slang terms.

She offers personal details from her own struggle against dependency. However, the majority of the book is an anonymous retelling of the stories of other addicts she encountered. By enlarging the scope of the narrative, she does the personal nature of addiction justice. Addicts from every walk of life will be able to recognize themselves in these pages.

On a personal note, I admire Johnson's accomplishments. I can only imagine the strength required to remain clean. But I feel she finds the will by reaching out to others. It can't be easy offering counsel to those who can easily expose her to the world she has left behind. She's right on the front lines visiting group homes and prisons. By relating her own story, she shows that quitting is possible. And not only that, but a creative outlet is available. Through Critter Care Publications, she is dedicated to promoting the works of recovering author-addicts.

Overall, this is a book that a crack addict looking to stay clean would trust.

Crack'd Up: Crackhead Tales of Addiction & Recovery by Sheryl Johnson is available for $16.99 at Amazon.com and CritterCarePublications2.com.

A complimentary review copy was provided by Sheryl Johnson.

Enter to win a FREE copy of Crack'd Up: Crackhead Tales of Addiction & Recovery by leaving a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on February 1, 2010.

Congratulations to our winner: Amy K. Nichols!

Monday, January 11, 2010

"The Turbo Turtle: Trend Following for the Foreign Exchange Market" by Andras M. Nagy

I am not a financial guru, and most of The Turbo Turtle went right over my head. But if you are looking to learn an exclusive trading method, Andras M. Nagy will teach you. His trading credentials include Wall Street and the Chicago Board of Trade. Now he is sharing the secrets of Turtle Trading with the average, small time investor.

Turtle Trading centers around the Foreign Exchange (Forex or FX) Market composed of $1.5 trillion of the world's currencies. It operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To enter the game, an investor needs to go through a broker.

It's a long term strategy. A few big trades make up the bulk of the profits and many small trades make up the losses. Even successful traders only make winning trades 50% of the time. If traders deplete their capital to the point that they can no longer trade effectively, then they will never know what could have been. If traders are unable to survive in the markets on a short term basis, then they will not be around when opportunities to make money arise in the long term.

Making money is a by-product of following the Turtle Trading rules. Let the profits run. Cut losses short. Have a high percentage of winning trades. Pick the right stock. Ignore a losing trade if it followed a written trading plan. Risk no more than 1-2% of funds on any position. Increase position size when making a profit; decrease position size when losses mount.

Winning traders can only profit to the extent that other traders are willing to lose. Losing traders fund the profits of the winning traders. The key is risk control. If traders control their risks and run their profits, they can position themselves to make more money in the long term. During more volatile periods, traders trade fewer shares. During less volatile periods, they trade more shares. They protect profit as well as initial capital to trade effectively.

Short term systems will never allow traders to be in a trend long enough to achieve large profits. Traders may end up with small losses, but they'll also have small profits. Added together, numerous small losses equal a big loss. Turtle Trading is based on the fact that human beings are not psychologically equipped to interact profitably with the markets. When money is involved, psychological pulls interfere with objectivity. As a result, human beings who have money on the line tend to take their losses too late and their profits too soon.

Turtle Traders rely on mechanical trading systems that run on a longer time frame of several weeks or months. They stick with the system and do not change it on a whim. They never add money to losing positions and they mechanically add to winning positions.

Intelligent traders are not in the business to make a bundle on each and every trade. They try to maximize their winning trades, but they do this by holding onto winners throughout trends, not by making huge bets because they are confident in their own forecasting abilities.

Overall, this is a book for active traders on the Foreign Exchange Market looking for new strategies.

The Turbo Turtle by Andras M. Nagy is available for $24.95 at Amazon.com and TheTurboTurtle.com.

A complimentary review copy was provided by Andras M. Nagy.

Also by Andras M. Nagy: The Public Domain Publishing Bible

Enter to win a FREE copy of The Turbo Turtle by leaving a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on February 1, 2010.

Congratulations to our winner: Barrie Summy!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"The Public Domain Publishing Bible" by Andras M. Nagy

Andras M. Nagy is a self-proclaimed gambler. The enterprise described in his book The Public Domain Publishing Bible is not to be undertaken by the faint at heart.

Public domain titles contain initial publication dates before 1923. According to U.S. copyright law, anyone can republish these titles for profit. Nagy stresses that it is imperative to add original content to these works in terms of illustrations, footnotes, introductory material, covers, etc. Otherwise, you will be competing with numerous versions of these titles republished without modification. He states that sometimes Amazon.com will not even pick up your version if you merely republish the text as is.

The field is also littered with what Nagy calls "copyright bullies." These individuals claim that they own the copyright to a public domain title. Their claim is invalid, but they will attempt to intimidate you by suggesting legal action. In the very least, their aim is to get you to cease publishing the work. Nagy urges you to stand your ground and demand proof of ownership. Personally, I don't know if I would want to run into potential legal problems. Nagy recommends hiring the U.S. Copyright Office to investigate the copyright status of a title before publishing it. It is a financial drawback at $150 an hour.

To make money Nagy uses print-on-demand (POD). If he has the only in-print version of a public domain title, he uses Ingram's Lightning Source to take advantage of the wholesaler's extensive distribution network. If he's competing against other republished versions, Amazon's CreateSpace has lower set-up fees. He recommends using free software applications such as Scribus, Open Office and Gimp to cut start-up costs. Nagy also discusses book scanning for those not interested in typesetting
. Optical character recognition (OPR) scans the entire physical book allowing text to be directly inputted into a word processing program. You can hire a book scanning service or invest in the equipment to create your own scans.

Nagy goes on to explain publicity tactics for promoting your public domain catalog. His main focus is on creating a web site that is search engine optimized (SEO). He explains off-the-page SEO techniques such as blogger reviews, directory submissions and article & press release distribution. On-the-page efforts entail an ALT tag for every image, keywords in page titles and anchor tags for inbound links.

At times, Nagy drifts away from his subject when he writes about creating a screenplay or the IndieBound movement. These sections would have been better off as appendices instead of breaking up the narrative.

Nagy's 10 basic rules for public domain publishing are:

1. Be selective in what you publish
2. Add creative modifications
3. Sell wholesale
4. Republishing titles as is use CreateSpace
5. Do your own set-up & design
6. Use reasonable freelancers for what you can't do
7. Take a long term view
8. Learn to work with Amazon & Lightning Source
9. Work with independent bookstores
10. Write what you know. Stick to fields you like.

Overall, this is a comprehensive guide on how to republish public domain titles with a realm of useful resources and pertinent web sites.

The Public Domain Publishing Bible by Andras M. Nagy is available for $14.95 at Amazon.com and ThePublicDomainBible.com.

A complimentary review copy was provided by Andras M. Nagy.