Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Recipient of Honest Scrap Award

I received the Honest Scrap Award from Freda Mans over at Freda's Voice who does such a fantastic job spreading the word far and wide about the best book giveaways on the web.  And a special thanks to Freda for always commenting on the posts here at Tribute Books Reviews and Giveaways.

Rules:
- Tell 10 things about yourself
- Award to 10 special bloggers

About Nicole:
1. I am a Virgo.
2. I am 5'4".
3. The first thing I do when I wake up is read.
4. I love summer and wish it would last all year.
5. I'm a dog lover.
6. I relate to kids and the elderly.
7. I usually read a magazine cover to cover.
8. I love giving away books.
9. I admire independent bookstores.
10. I read the newspaper everyday.

Awarded To:
1. http://turning-the-clock-back.blogspot.com/
2. http://www.tommielyn.com/apps/blog/
3. http://historicalnovelreview.blogspot.com/
4. http://thecryptocapersseries.blogspot.com/
5. http://thebookresort.blogspot.com/
6. http://smsbookreviews.blogspot.com/
7. http://insatiablereaders.blogspot.com/
8. http://readingforsanity.blogspot.com/
9. http://www.pageturnersblog.com/
10. http://novelspotlight.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cindy Bradford "Promises Kept" Review & Giveaway

Promises Kept is a fairy tale for adult women. Cindy Bradford entrances with the love story of Faith and Tyler. For any doubters who think romance is dead, this book will reclaim their belief in dreams fulfilled. The chapters relating to their relationship are filled with details that will make ladies sigh.

The narrative encompasses a split personality. The first half deals with a court case involving a pedophile priest. Faith's father was one of the victims and Faith is an attorney on the side of the prosecution. Tyler is a fellow attorney who is assisting her on the case. From the moment the two lay eyes on each other, things quickly heat up.

The trial rapidly reaches its conclusion and the couple starts preparing for a Christmas wedding. This is where Bradford leaves law and order behind and transports the reader to Tuscan villas and secluded cabins in the wilderness. Fantasy is readily indulged on the page.

Tyler is the quintessential leading man - and he is meant to be. No man can live up to this depiction. He serves as a vehicle of escape from unfaithful boyfriends, distant husbands, unrequited love. He is too good to be true, but that doesn't stop women from hoping deep down that he could be.

Readers will fall in love with him along with Faith. He remodels an old house with his own hands. He takes Faith with him to pick out a puppy. He asks Faith to marry him within weeks of meeting her. He gets along great with her family. He is not threatened by her successful career. He says things like, "I could look at you forever" and "I've never seen you be anything but good at whatever you do." He's extremely tidy and helps with the housework including landscaping the entire lawn. He's thrilled when Faith goes off the pill. He has a love of good food and takes Faith to a number of delectable restaurants. He likes to go Christmas shopping. 

Things take a turn when Faith has trouble getting pregnant. At first, she thinks it's her, but an unforeseen development occurs when Tyler discloses the results of a recent medical exam. The young couple undergoes a tragedy of epic proportions. The emotion Bradford evokes is touchingly poignant. It leaves the reader wondering if is it better to have love and lost than to have never loved at all.
Overall, this is a great book to turn to when you need your faith in love to be restored.



Promises Kept by Cindy Bradford is available for $17.99 at Amazon.com and at DocCBradford.com.

A complimentary review copy was provided by
Promo 101 - Virtual Blog Tours with Nikki Leigh.

Enter to win a FREE copy of Promises Kept.  

(1) Become our Facebook fan. 
(2) Leave a comment with your email address.

A winner will be chosen on May 31, 2010.

Congratulations to our winner: Edna!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Kathi Macias "More than Conquerors" Review & Giveaway

For a person of faith, coming to terms with the bad behavior of a close family member is the hardest cross to bear. In Kathi Macias' More than Conquerors, the message of never giving up on those you love is driven home. The setting is a double-sided Mexico - the drug violence of a tourist-centric Tijuana and the isolated primitive conditions of the Mayan rainforest. However, the interior journey of the Rodriguez family frames the narrative based on evangelical Christianity.

Alberto abandoned his wife and young children for an American woman. Years later, he lay dying in a hospital across the border - alone. His son, Hector is a pastor for a small Mexican church. Refusing to abandon hope, Hector continues to plead with his father to atone for his sins while there is still time. Yet, Alberto time and again frustrates his son by stubbornly refusing to accept God's saving power.

Meanwhile, his wife, Virginia, is living in a state of poverty - by choice. Serving as a missionary in the remote village of San Juan Chamula, she is teaching the native women to read with her Bible serving as their only textbook. However, superstition and fear of the modern world still run rampant among those wishing to cling to the lifestyle of their Mayan ancestors. When Virginia utters verse 37 from the Book of Romans, "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" - she unknowingly announces herself as the enemy. The villagers view the word conqueror as a veiled threat. From that moment on, Virginia is no longer safe.

There are several subplots running through the story that bear mentioning. An American named Marty comes to stay with Hector's family. He is a recent bible college graduate unsure of what to do with his life. Instead of Hector providing guidance, it is his virginal sister-in-law, Susana, who helps Marty find his way.

The unrestrained brutality of the Mexican drug culture is shockingly portrayed when a grandson contemplates killing his own grandmother for overhearing an incriminating conversation. As a country falls to the rule of the drug lords, anarchy descends even into the heart of a family. Yet, the grandmother aware of her impending fate persists in praying for the salvation of her grandson.

By putting multiple faces on the issues currently facing Mexico, Macias draws the reader into the social conditions south of the border. There is violence, poverty and squalor, but there is also hope, faith and charity. But above all, the redeeming quality of a family's unconditional love is portrayed as a universal message.

Macias' use of Spanish is a bit jarring. She uses one word immediately followed my its English translation like, "I want to have time to stop at la iglesia, the church..." or "He called out, 'Quien es? Who is it?'" Introducing a second language into the manuscript reads like a high school student's paper for an introductory Spanish class. Macias is a better writer than that, and the awkward insertion of random terms does not jive with her level of proficiency. 

The story could have been told in 100 fewer pages. The action stalls at points and the mental musings of characters get repetitive. Some characters are unnecessary such as the introduction of Marty's mother and the excessive detail given to the plight of young girl who becomes a new member of Hector's church. The majority of the story takes place in Tijuana. More time devoted to San Juan Chamula would have evened out the focus.
Overall, the violence of current-day Mexico is given a human dimension with a Christian emphasis.



More Than Conquerors by Kathi Macias is available for $14.99 at Amazon.com and at KathiMacias.com.

A complimentary review copy was provided by Pump Up Your Book Promotion.


Also by Kathi Macias: No Greater Love


Enter to win a FREE copy of More Than Conquerors.  

(1) Become our Facebook fan. 
(2) Leave a comment with your email address.

A winner will be chosen on May 31, 2010.

Congratulations to our winner: Stephanie Gaffney!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mark St. Germain & April Willy "Three Cups" Review & Giveaway

How to handle money is a lesson worth learning - even at a young age. Three Cups by Mark St. Germain and illustrated by April Willy is a great introduction into personal finance for children who are starting to receive an allowance. The cups represent three ways to employ money - saving, spending and donating to charity. 

The artwork has a Norman Rockwell vibe with a 1950s flair. The story is told from a first person point of view with the narrator looking back on his childhood. The expressions on the young boy's face are realistically captured. When he receives the three cups on his fifth birthday, his eyes portray disappointment. He asks, "Is this my present?" However, after his parents explain the purpose of each cup, his outlook begins to brighten when he imagines the adventures that will come when he realizes the potential of what this new knowledge can bring.

Along the way, he learns about earning interest on his savings by visiting the bank with his mother and little sister. He feels the pride of being able to pay for his own baseball glove when the amount in his spending cup accumulates. He generously uses the funds in his charity cup to purchase eight cans of soup for his school's food drive then delivers them to a family in need.

The story continues as the narrator secures his first job mowing lawns all the way to high school graduation when he uses his savings to help pay for college. The financial lessons are carried across a lifetime. The book comes full circle when the narrator gives his own son three cups for his fifth birthday. It concludes with a Parent's Guide of 10 activities so that the message of the book can readily be applied to real life situations.
Overall, it is never too early to learn how to save, spend and give to charity.



Three Cups by Mark St. Germain & April Willy is available for $10.00 at Amazon.com and at 3cupsbook.com.

A complimentary review copy was provided by
Confessions of an Overworked Mom.

Enter to win a FREE copy of Three Cups.  

(1) Become our Facebook fan. 
(2) Leave a comment with your email address.

A winner will be chosen on May 31, 2010.

Congratulations to our winner: Nancye!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Kenny Luck "Thumbing Through Thoreau: A Book of Quotations by Henry David Thoreau" Giveaway

On July 4, 1845, when Henry David Thoreau moved into his cabin on the shores of Walden Pond, he was probably unaware that his abode in the woods, and the impact and influence of that endeavor, would forever echo through time.

Thoreau was an uncompromising idealist; an ardent maverick who criticized his fellow man. He urged that men and women ought to live more simply, and more deliberately. “The mass of men,” he famously wrote, “lead lives of quite desperation.”

Yet the scope of Thoreau’s message is much wider than social criticism. He speaks of spiritual transcendence in Nature and the unbounded potential of the individual. Thoreau is a dreamer and he speaks to dreamers. In a word, shun dogmatism and demagoguery; see beyond the immediate conventional religious explanations to reap a higher understanding.

In our commodified contemporary American society, with the rise of religious intolerance and fundamentalism, materialism and mass consumerism, Thoreau’s message is needed now more than ever. 

Author Kenny Luck has thumbed through Thoreau’s voluminous journals, correspondences and other publications to make this the most comprehensive collection of Thoreau aphorisms available. 

Illustrators Jay Luke and Ren Adams lend their talents to artistically interpret Thoreau's vision. Each quote is accompanied by an original drawing. 

Overall, a collaboration of three individuals breathes new life into the immortal words of Henry David Thoreau.



Thumbing Through Thoreau: A Book of Quotations by Henry David Thoreau by Kenny Luck is available for $24.95 at Amazon.com and at ThumbingThroughThoreau.com.

A complimentary review copy was provided by Tribute Books.


Enter to win a FREE copy of Thumbing Through Thoreau: A Book of Quotations by Henry David Thoreau.  

Email info@tribute-books.com for a free eBook to review.

(1) Blog about the book including an Amazon buy link.
(2) Leave a comment with a link to your blog post.

A winner will be chosen on May 31, 2010.

Unfortunately, there was no qualified winner for this giveaway.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bodacious Blogging Book Reviewers Award

Thank you to Gina at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers for giving Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways the Bodacious Blogging Book Reviewers Award. And we are passing it on. The rules are:

If you are given this award you must first accept it by leaving a comment on the post you were nominated on. Then copy and paste the post and add it to your own blog. Make a list of the last 5 books you read and pass the award on to 5 other bloggers (no backsies!). Please also identify the blog from which you got the award and don't forget to tell them they have a blog award!

Given to each of you for all your "bodacious" posts and the frequency with which you update your site.  Never a dull moment on any of these great blogs, be sure to check them out!

This award is presented to the following who are tasked with passing it forward:

Simply Stacie
Confessions of an Overworked Mom
The Book Connection
Come Meet AusJenny
Mommy Reads Too Much

My Last 5 Books Read
Three Cups by Mark St. Germain & April Willy
More Than Conquerors by Kathi Macias
Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith
Story of a Disastrous Internet Romance by Svetlana Repina
Nu-Del: Daughter of the Forest by Ray Shoop


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Steve Hockensmith "Dawn of the Dreadfuls" - Review & Giveaway







The absurdity of melding the paranormal with the beloved characters of Jane Austen is an unexpected mix. In the prequel to the best-selling Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Steve Hockensmith relies more on his own creative impulses in Dawn of the Dreadfuls instead of heavily borrowing from the immortal classic. However, the end result is a horrendous conglomeration of The Karate Kid, Frankenstein, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Masterpiece Theatre.

The comic book style antics begin with the town apothecary rising during his funeral and the discovery of a missing seamstress's  reanimated corpse in a nearby lake. Mr. Bennet - whose first name turns out to be Oscar - is a veteran of the zombie wars of yore. He grudgingly realizes it is time to train his daughters in the deadful arts. Their instruction is soon usurped by the dashing Master Hawksworth who puts the girls through their paces in the martial arts transforming them into warriors. His strict facade is only pierced by his admiration for the innate courage of Elizabeth Bennet.

Lydia and Kitty at age eleven and twelve differ little from their later incarnations. Even at a young age, they show a propensity to giggle and fawn over any handsome man they encounter. Mary is more fully realized showing a stout heart and developing unrequited feelings for their new master. Jane is bland and over-trusting in Meryton's reigning noble, Lord Lumpley. Employed as his bodyguard, the repulsive coward gets more than he bargains for when he fixes his lecherous eye on her.

While feeling physically drawn to Master Hawksworth, it is the absent-minded Dr. Keckilpenny who actually saves Elizabeth from an unmentionable. The good doctor captures a zombie in order to use science and rational thought to reawaken its humanity. Elizabeth is enthralled by the workings of his mind, yet she questions his detachment from reality.

The elder women are given more depth and range than most of the Bennet sisters. Mrs. Bennet is reunited with her first love, the now fully amputated Captain Cannon, who was forced to leave her in their youth in order to subdue a zombie outbreak. The still infatuated soldier pledges his love for Mrs. Bennet - to of all people - Mr. Bennet. The lovestruck captain proclaims his intent to finally marry Mrs. Bennet should her husband succumb to the jaws of an unmentionable. 

But the biggest surprise is the warrior background of Lady Catherine de Burgh who is viewed as a national heroine throughout all of England for her renown against the undead. Her prowess is held in high esteem and the Bennet sisters strive to attain her level of greatness. It is Lady Catherine who plays a pivotal role upon the climatic siege of Lord Lumpley's Netherfield ball by thousands of zombies ravenous for their glutenous fill of human brains. 

The novel contains over a dozen illustrations by Patrick Arrasmith highlighting pivotal scenes containing the putrefied flesh and deformed countenances of the unmentionables. The Bennet sisters arrayed in practical, simplistic Grecian inspired frocks are shown wielding swords, knives and pistols. One noticeable omission is the lack of an artistic representation of Master Hawksworth whose English gentleman meets Asian warrior demeanor garners much feminine ardor.

Overall, fans of Jane Austen should be warned this version of Regency England is more guts and gore than romance and wit.



Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith is available for $12.99 at Amazon.com and at QuirkClassics.com.

A complimentary review copy was provided by Quirk Classics.


Enter to win a FREE copy of Dawn of the Dreadfuls, a FREE pack of 30 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies postcards and a FREE Pride and Prejudice and Zombies journal.
(1) Leave a comment below along with your email address & (2) become a (public) Google follower of this blog (widget found on our blog's right sidebar).

A winner will be chosen on May 15, 2010.

Congratulations to our winner: MBreakfield!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Read our blog spotlight at Simple Stacie

Simply Stacie is kind enough to offer an ongoing promotion featuring different blogs. On May 2, she highlighted Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways. Click the link to see what blogs I like and why I got into blogging in the first place.
http://stacievaughansblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/blog-spotlight-tribute-books.html

Thanks,
Nicole

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Svetlana Repina "Story of a Disastrous Internet Romance" - Review & Giveaway

Authors who share unusual life stories usually provide a treat for a reader. They provide an insider's look into a world not experienced by many. Svetlana Repina recounts the horrors of being a mail-order bride. Leaving her native Russia for the Long Island suburbs was supposed to be a step up. Instead, she becomes entangled in the web of a professional criminal. In Stories of a Disastrous Internet Romance, Repina relives the ordeal under the name Natalia as she takes the reader step by step through the destruction of her naivete.

While working for a British time share company catering to the new Russian mafia, Natalia connects with a fellow Russian woman who publishes profiles in a mail-order bride catalog. Natalia is bored with Russia and feels that she must escape the poverty and endless supply of cheating, alcoholic men whose only positive attribute is surviving their tour of duty in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, she immediately attracts the interest of Carlos, an "entrepreneurial" American looking for a wife to add a woman's touch to his newly purchased home. 

Natalia falls hook, line and sinker for Carlos' charm. After numerous phone calls and video messages, Carlos comes to Russia to marry her. He arrives presenting a large diamond engagement ring. Despite occasional flashes of his temper and her family's lukewarm acceptance, Natalia marries Carlos.

The fairy tale abruptly ends when she arrives in America. Carlos does not have his own house. Instead, he is the definition of a "mama's boy" still living with his parents and sister. The newlyweds take up residence in the basement. Natalia is distraught learning that she can go nowhere without supervision and her phone calls home are limited to a few words. 

The main purpose of the marriage for Carlos is Natalia's persona as a white woman. He uses her identity to apply for loans backed by the endorsement of her signature given under duress. Setting up a counterfeit workshop in the midst of their home, Carlos' main employment is identity theft initially funded by his wife's good name. 

The secondary aspect of the nuptials is providing his mother with a grandchild. Carlos gets his wish when he impregnates Natalia practically upon her arrival. He constantly threatens her that if she ever tried to leave him, he would make sure that she would never see their child again. For a woman in a strange country living with foreign customs, Carlos holds the trump card. He knows he has her right where he wants her.

To make matters worse, Carlos takes a mistress who inserts herself into their lives acting as if she is a part of the family. At her wits end, Natalia finally is able to make a friend with her neighbor, Maryanne. The older woman provides Natalia with a much-needed source of support. 

Things take a turn when detectives arrive at the door when Natalia is home alone. She takes a leap of faith and lets them in. Natalia through tears tells them her sad tale. They are the only Americans she informs about her plight besides Maryanne. One detective, Greg, takes an interest in her and urges her to leave Carlos. He assures her that she will be protected.

With Maryanne's urging, she takes the risk and leaves the house along with her son. They make their way first to a safe house for battered women, then to a Russian friend's house in Georgia and finally back to Russia. Reunited with her family, Natalia begins to feel an unexpected longing for the United States. She decides to return partly to make a fresh start and partly to testify in Carlos' upcoming trial. The door is left open for part two of this real life drama.

Repina really gives the reader a look at what it was like being 20-years-old living in mid-1990s Russia. What qualified as her only excitement was her sister sewing an outfit copied from a fashion magazine. Employment was sporadic. The building of a Christian Orthodox church was a jolt for a girl brought up under God-less Communism. The wealth of the "New Russians" was a slap in the face for those who chose to earn an honest living. America was seen as a Mecca constantly calling devotees to her shores. Natalia fell under the siren's call.

Co-written with Steve Fortosis, the writing style is mediocre, but the story is strong enough to keep a reader turning the pages. The choice of cover graphic does not mesh with the book's theme and is too blah for such a riveting tale. The ending puts a halt to the forward momentum, and it is a detriment to the story that notice of a sequel is not given at the conclusion leaving the reader feeling unsatisfied.

Overall, taking a big risk results in a dreamer turning into a pragmatist.



Story of a Disastrous Internet Romance by Svetlana Repina is available for $14.99 at Amazon.com and at SvetlanaRepina.com.

A complimentary review copy was provided by Svetlana Repina.


Enter to win a FREE copy of Story of a Disastrous Internet Romance.
(1) Leave a comment below along with your email address & (2) become a (public) Google follower of this blog (widget found on our blog's right sidebar).

A winner will be chosen on May 15, 2010.

Congratulations to our winner: Pamela Keener!

Ray Shoop "Nu-Del: Daughter of the Forest" - Review & Giveaway

Imagine a pristine world out of the realm of Avatar peopled by creatures from Where The Wild Things Are and you have a glimpse into the mental imagery of Ray Shoop in his sci-fi work, Nu-Del: Daughter of the Forest. Humans are outgrowing their space station homes. They are on an active search to discover unoccupied planets for resettlement. When Laura's family arrives at a prospective site, they fail to realize that they are not alone.

The Dumeasets, a rebel gang of subterranean beings, dig their way to the surface killing the men and kidnapping the women - including Laura's pregnant mother, Arlene. These proceedings are not unusual since the Dumeasets have been inflicting similar treatment on the planet's other native people, the Fumalsets.

During the attack, Laura wanders away from the settlement getting lost in the forest. A group of Fumalsets led by Cordac take Laura into their tribe. Cordac's wife, Sel, treats Laura like a daughter and teaches her about the herbs and plants of her medicinal trade. However, Cordac is jealous of the new arrival, but will not go against his wife.

Laura is renamed Nu-Del which means "daughter of the forest." She develops a main role in the camp due to her ability to read minds. She is able to telepathically hear the approach of a Dumeaset raid and warn the Fumalsets.

In the meantime, Arlene is promoted to the number one position in the Dumeasets' harem. The leader, Ram, takes a liking to this woman from another world. However, when she is forced to deliver her baby without assistance, the child arrives stillborn. She sinks into a deep depression that only abates when she receives word that another of her kind is living with the Fumalsets. Arlene is determined to do whatever it takes to find her long-lost daughter.

The Dumeasets also adjust their strategy throwing Laura off her game. The Fumalsets begin to think she is crying wolf and refuse to abide her warnings. The Dumeasets surface inflicting damage on their encampment. Cordac, Sel and Laura survive, but Laura leaves her adoptive parents and goes to live with Transoni, a male who lost his wife to the kidnappers. She feels Cordac will never accept her and that she can be of more assistance to Transoni and his children.

The story comes to an abrupt end. Will Arlene reunite with Laura? Will Transoni rescue his wife from the Dumeasets? Will Ram make good on his threat to kidnap Laura? The door is open to a sequel.

Shoop excels at providing the interior dialogue of his characters, especially Cordac as he tries to come to terms with the conflicting emotions he has for Laura. He creates a picturesque world of lush forests and deep, dark caverns. The cover image is a surprising invitation to a sci-fi novel, but it piques the reader's interest to pick up the book to see what it is about. Is it a Native American story? Is it a nature publication?

Overall, creatures bring nature to the forefront of an alien world.

Nu-Del: Daughter of the Forest by Ray Shoop is available for $15.00 at Amazon.com and at RayShoop.com.

A complimentary review copy was provided by Ray Shoop.


Enter to win a FREE copy of Nu-Del: Daughter of the Forest.
(1) Leave a comment below along with your email address & (2) become a (public) Google follower of this blog (widget found on our blog's right sidebar).

A winner will be chosen on May 15, 2010.

Congratulations to our winner: Atypical Girl!