Self-Published Saturday: June 5, 2021

This is my weekly feature in which I highlight a great self-published book. Below is my review of Jalopy by Wes Verde, set in 1928. As always, if you decide to read this very well-written book, be sure to leave a review. Reviews are so important to self-published authors.

#BOOK REVIEW

Etta and her father are all that are left of their once large and thriving family, as illness and tragedy have visited them often. It is 1928, and they are struggling to meet a huge tax burden on their failing farm. Etta goes into town to sell eggs every day, and on the way back she often walks to a secret, hidden place she has found in the countryside. Resting in that place is an old, abandoned jalopy, and Etta often sits in the broken-down jalopy, opens a map she found in the car, and dreams of places she wants to go.

Art, even at over 6 feet, is in the smallest of all of his brothers, and they are all towered over by their strict, controlling father. Art’s father is a very successful and well-to-do salesman of refrigerator units. He spends his days on sales calls trying to convince business owners to switch from ice houses to electric refrigeration. Art’s mother is controlling in her own way and has arranged a marriage for Art. Art is not enthusiastic about any of this, but has learned not to rock the boat. He is going along with everything, and spends his days on uncomfortable sales calls with his father. In his his free time, he is avoiding his new fiancee. Then a night out with his brothers ends with Art sleeping it off in Etta’s barn.

This is a captivating novel that draws you into Etta’s world immediately, starting with the gorgeous book cover. The author does a good job of depicting the drudgery and fear involved in barely scraping by with the tax man looming. The class division in the town between the locals and the part-time, wealthy lakeside resort visitors is well portrayed. Etta is an endearing protagonist, and you will begin rooting for her immediately as she finds herself in more than one life-threatening circumstance. Art’s situation of being bullied in his own family is also well written, and I found myself wanting to knock some heads together on his behalf. 

My only criticism is that the book ended rather abruptly, followed by an epilogue that was set five years later and basically explained how everything turned out. I would rather have been shown what happened than told in an epilogue. That being said, this is a beautiful, endearing novel that will transport you to a time when life was hard, loss was prevalent, and love, if you could find it, was cherished.

This book is available on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free. I highly recommend you check it out.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wes Verde

Wes is an engineer by trade, a busybody by habit, and a lifelong Jersey boy.

Writing has been a hobby in one form or another since 2006 when he started drawing 3-panel comics. When he is not putting words down, he is picking them up; the “to-read” pile only seems to grow larger.

A fan of nature, he spends as much time outside as possible

BUY JALOPY ON AMAZON

WES VERDE’S WEBSITE

MY AMAZON REVIEW (HELPFUL VOTES APPRECIATED)

Self-Published Saturday: May 29, 2021

Once again, it’s time to feature a great self-published book. I really enjoy this feature because it helps independent authors with the monumental task of promoting their books. If you decide to read this book, please write a review and post it on Amazon, Goodreads, and other sites where you talk about books. This helps authors so much. I can’t stress that enough. Your review makes a difference.

Today’s book is the first in a series that captivated me from the beginning, The Hamelin Stoop series by Robert B. Sloan. In fact, I have been known to drop everything and ignore my giant TBR list in order to read the next installment. See the review below.

BOOK REVIEW: THE EAGLE, THE CAVE, AND THE FOOTBRIDGE

Hamelin Stoop is an exciting young adult/middle grade fantasy adventure series in the vein of the Chronicles of Narnia and even Harry Potter.

In The Eagle, The Cave, and The Footbridge, Hamelin’s mother Johnnie is on the run from evil trackers, so she places him, still a little baby, on the stoop of an orphanage in a tomato box. One of the only legible words in the note she left was “Hamelin,” and since he was found on the stoop, he was named Hamelin Stoop by the orphanage staff.

Upset and frustrated, Hamelin runs away from the orphanage when he is 8 years old. That’s when strange things begin happening. He is drawn to a cave by a talking eagle, and then he begins to learn more about his parents and his true purpose. There is a related story about three princesses in another land as Sloan begins to weave this tale together.

This is a “good vs. evil” adventure series which drew me in immediately, and I am always excited to see the next book. This book has everything–talking creatures, evil overlords, distant lands, and lost princesses. So far, there are three books, and I’m anxiously awaiting the fourth. I see definite nods to C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, which is always a good thing. I would recommend this to anyone over 10 years old who enjoys fantasy, adventure, and good vs. evil stories.  As C.S. Lewis said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” And this is a great children’s story that will be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

I received a free digital copy from Booksirens. My opinions are voluntary and are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Robert B. Sloan is President of Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas. He is also a former President of Baylor University. Dr. Sloan and his wife Sue have seven adult children and more than 20 young grandchildren. He is an author, communicator, educator, and leader—all hats he has worn many times for a variety of reasons. These four areas represent life experiences that have provided him and his family with many memories. It is in the experiences of life that memories are made and lives are shaped.

Robert Sloan has a passion for Christian higher education and the spiritual formation of young people for the glory of God, which can be seen in both his professional and personal life.

Dr. Sloan’s Website

FASCINATING Article by Dr. Sloan About Why He Wrote The Hamelin Stoop Series

BUY BOOK 1: THE EAGLE, THE CAVE, AND THE FOOTBRIDGE

BUY BOOK 2: THE LOST PRINCESS AND THE JEWEL OF PERILUNA

BUY BOOK 3: THE RING OF TRUTH

*If you are a Kindle Unlimited Subscriber, you can borrow all three books for free.

Self Published Saturday: May 8, 2021

Here is another edition of my weekly feature, Self-Published Saturday. Self-Published authors need our support. If you like the book I’ve chosen this week and decide to buy it, please share the link with your friends and put a review up on Amazon. It’s so important for these authors.

The book I’m highlighting this week is The Milk Wagon by Michael Hewes. Enjoy.

#BOOK REVIEW: THE MILK WAGON

The Milk Wagon is a fantastic thriller set in the 80’s, much of it revolving around a group of high school boys. As an 80’s high schooler myself, this was a wonderful walk down memory lane. This book has the 80’s high school mentality exactly right, and transported me back there as the movies we watched, the cars we drove, and the way we thought were so accurately described. 

This novel was perfectly woven together as both an 80’s book and a crime/murder thriller. There were many twists and turns, and although I am usually pretty good at guessing the “bad guy,” i was totally wrong this time. The fact that this book was not predictable impressed me. 

The characters are so well done, especially the 80s high school kids, that I was sad when it ended. That’s how you tell a great book. You don’t want it to end.

If you love crime thrillers, if you loved the 80s, or if you just love a well written book, check this one out.

I received a free copy of this book from Michael Hewes and BooksGoSocial via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Hewes

Michael Hewes earned his undergraduate degree from University of Southern Mississippi and his law degree from Ole Miss.

A retired JAG officer, Hewes currently practices law in Gulfport, Mississippi, where he lives with his wife and their three sons, two dogs, and one cat.

Link to The Milk Wagon on Amazon: 

Link to other work by Michael Hewes: 

Link to my Goodreads review 

Link to my Amazon Review (Helpful Votes Appreciated)

Self-Published Saturday – May 1, 2021 (Weekly Series)

Below are three books from some great self-published authors for my new weekly feature, Self-Published Saturday. This is a chance for you to meet some wonderful authors and check out their work. Self-published authors need your support. If you decide to buy any of these books today, please be sure and leave a review on Amazon. Reviews are so important to self-published authors.

The first two books I want to highlight today are self-published books that I’ve reviewed before. I will introduce you to the author and provide links to buy the book. There will also be a link to my previous review. The third self-published book is my latest review.

My first book to highlight is Once Upon a Rhyme by Antony L. Saragas.

Once upon a rhyme is a heartfelt story based on true events. Dylan or “Oskie” has experienced great loss even prior to the recent passing of his father, Hollis, who was also his long-time baseball coach.  This loss has made him hesitate to move forward, especially in love.  While cleaning out his father’s belongings, Oskie finds a book of poems written by his father.  As he begins to read them, memories come flooding back and he truly sees the importance of his father’s words.   

Buy the book on Amazon.

My full review of Once Upon A Rhyme is here.

My second book to highlight is The Siege of An Loc by Hien T. Nguyen.

The Siege of An Loc is the story of the defense of An Loc in 1972 during the Vietnam War. It is also a love story between a South Vietnamese soldier, Trung, and Ly, a student, daughter of a rubber plantation owner. As Trung struggles to defend his country, he finds himself falling for the beautiful Ly, but do they have a chance for happiness in the midst of war? We also see the evil of communism especially personified in one of the characters, and two brothers are reunited, one from North Vietnam and one from South Vietnam.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nguyễn Trọng Hiền is originally from Vietnam. In the United States, he is known as Hien Nguyen, or Hien T. Nguyen.  He also uses the name Neihtn online. Neihtn is his Vietnamese first name (Hien)  and initials, spelled backward. Why backward? One reason is to indicate that he now lives on the opposite side of the world from where he was born and spent over two decades of his life.

Hein wrote his first book,  Village Teacher at night and on weekends over four years while he worked a full-time job. He is now retired and spends his time writing and taking photographs of birds, wildlife, flowers and landscapes. He posts the photos on his blog,  Village Teacher.  He published his second novel, The Siege of An Loc, in 2020

The Siege of An Loc can be borrowed for free on Amazon by Kindle Unlimited Subscribers, or purchased outright.

BUY THE SIEGE OF AN LOC ON AMAZON

My full review of The Siege of An Loc is here.

My Third book to highlight is 7 Attitudes of the Helping Heart

My third self-published book to highlight today is also a new review for me. It is a nonfiction book called 7 Attitudes of the Helping Heart by John Christopher Frame.

BOOK REVIEW

I don’t know if all of you have seen extreme poverty or not, but it is eye-opening to behold. I grew up in the suburbs of Cincinnati, and although I’ve seen people struggling, I did not really see abject poverty until my husband was stationed with the Air Force in the country of Panama. There I saw crowds of people living on the streets, sleeping on the ground by night and washing car windows and begging in the streets by day. I was going to college then and passed them every day on my way to school. It really opened my heart to the struggling of others.

7 Attitudes of the Helping Heart introduces you to people in circumstances of poverty and tells you their stories. It also offers guidance on developing your own “helping heart.” The author, John Christopher Frame, goes on to explore the emotions and attitudes most needed by Christians when helping the poor. He takes a closer look at hope, compassion, empathy, gratitude, humility, generosity, and holiness and provides real-life anecdotes from people in situations of need.

This book is well written and will help anyone interested in improving not just charitable giving, but their everyday relationships with others .

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Christopher Frame is an author and a faculty member at an online university. He has lived internationally and holds a PhD from the University of Oxford. Publishers Weekly stated his first book, Homeless at Harvard: Finding Faith and Friendship on the Streets of Harvard Square, was “touching, and well worth the read…” John’s passion is combining his interests in theology and social concerns to help Christians become more aware of global issues so they can better live out their faith. He loves traveling on the cheap, visiting outdoor markets, balcony gardening, and working in quirky cafés in his neighborhood. He also enjoys spending time with his wife, whom he met while buying a carpet at a souvenir shop in Istanbul, Turkey. Connect with him at http://www.johnchristopherframe.com.

7 Attitudes of the Helping Heart can be purchased on Kindle for only 99 cents!

Buy 7 Attitudes of the Helping Heart on Amazon.

Just a reminder to be sure and leave a review if you choose to purchase any of these three amazing self-published books.

Self Published Saturday

I’m starting a new feature every Saturday. I will share a review of a self-published book to help Indie authors. I have read some amazing self-published books, and I am happy to help you discover them too. Self-published authors not only have to write their books, they have to arrange for cover design, editing, marketing, and more. They have to do it all. I am happy to help these authors by promoting their books here. If you would like to request a review of your self-published book, just click the Review Requests link on the home page (top right).

My first share will be a review I did a couple of weeks ago of an amazing book by Gail Meath, a wonderful self-published author. Agustina De Aragon is about a captivating real-life woman who fought against Napoleon in the early 1800s. She is sometimes known as the “Spanish Joan of Arc.” Please enjoy my review below and support this self-published author. Links to buy this book are included at the end of the review. This book is only $2.99 on Kindle right now.

Gail Meath brings a legend to life in this beautiful historical romance/thriller based on the life of Agustina Raimunda Maria Saragossa, or Agustina de Aragón, also known as “The Spanish Joan of Arc.” We learn the true story of Agustina’s heroic acts during the First Siege of Zaragosa, her life as a soldier and prisoner, and her romance with her beloved Juan Roca. Set in Barcelona and then Zaragosa, and other points in Spain, we meet Agustina as a girl and then follow her into womanhood, motherhood, and war.

The author’s meticulous research into the life and customs of early 1800s Spain is obvious, as Agustina’s world comes alive. The reader will feel as if they are there, visiting the marketplace and working alongside Agustina in her father’s bladesmith shop. The love story between Agustina and Roca is very well done, and their passion and dedication to each other are painted across every page. 

When danger arrives in the form of the Napoleon-led French Army, we can see the bloody battles and the savagery of the enemy, as well as the bravery of the Spanish people, as they fight off onslaught after onslaught. The terrible price of war is shown again and again, and the reader will weep along with Agustina as she faces unspeakable loss. The author’s knowledge of the topic is impressive, and I learned so much about Napoleon’s attacks on and eventual takeover of Spain. Although Agustina is famous for her acts during the First Siege of Zaragosa, she was also a mother, soldier, and prisoner of war, and it all comes alive in this novel. The ending is absolutely intriguing, and not to be missed.

I require two things from historical fiction. The first is that I be transported to the time and place being described. There is no question I felt transported to marketplaces, battlefields, and even prison in this fantastic novel. The second is that I learn something, and this book introduced me to Agustina herself, and then taught me much about the Napoleonic wars.

Agustina De Aragón introduces us to a compelling real-life legend, takes us into her world, and shows us the realities of war. It is a must read for fans of strong female characters. If you have never heard of Agustina, this book will introduce you in an unforgettable way.

LINK TO BUY AUGUSTINA DE ARAGON

LINK TO MY AMAZON REVIEW (HELPFUL VOTES APPRECIATED)

LINK TO MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR GAIL MEATH

An Interview with Gail Meath, Author of Agustina de Aragón. Book Review and Book Trailer Included.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Gail Meath

Today I’m excited to share with you a wonderful and candid interview with Gail Meath, author of Agustina de Aragón, which is set in Spain during the Napoleonic wars in the early 1800s.  It will be released tomorrow. My review and the book trailer are below.

Bonnie:  Hi Gail.  It is so great to finally meet you.  Tell the readers a little bit about yourself:  

Gail:  I’m from upstate NY by Lake Ontario.  I grew up here.  I have two grown children and two grandchildren, ages 9 and 6.   I started writing in high school and discovered that I was a really good writer.  I wasn’t a very good student except when there was an essay question.  Whether I knew the answer or not, I could flub my way through any essay question and get a good grade.  I was really proud of that as a kid.  

Bonnie:  How did you get into writing historical fiction?

Gail:   I started writing and doing historical research mainly as therapy.  My first marriage was not good and I was unhappy.  I dove into historical research  and writing as a way to escape. I could go to these faraway places through my writing and write about strong female characters because I did not feel strong myself at the time.   I was married 23 years.  I wrote my first seven novels during that marriage, and then stopped writing for ten years.   It was after my second marriage, and with strong encouragement from my  husband, that I decided to publish my first seven novels. Before that I had never shared them with anyone.  And recently I wrote my newest book,  Agustina de Aragón, the first novel I had written in ten years.

Bonnie:  Could you give the readers a short synopsis of Agustina de Aragón?    

Gail:  Agustina was a peasant girl in Barcelona, Spain, whose father was a bladesmith.  She was very interested in the beginnings of the war between Napoleon-led France and Britain.  She hung around the military base, not to find a husband as some girls did, but to find out more about the war.  As she gained more knowledge of the military,  she began to feel the Spanish soldiers were inadequate.  She met Juan Roca, also a soldier, and they fell in love.  When Napoleon invaded Spain, Agustina and Roca both got very involved in the resistance, and Agustina herself rallied the soldiers to fight.  She was a remarkable woman who became a soldier in her own right and literally turned the war around.  

Bonnie:  Your well-researched novels have led me to think that you must have been a history teacher or a historian at some point.  Am I right?   

Gail:  No, I am an accountant.  I have an accounting degree and my own business, but I am winding the business down and will focus even more on writing.  I feel my organizational skills developed in the accounting business have really helped my research.  I keep detailed files for all my books, and that comes from my business background.     But I always loved to write, and it came easily to me.  My father was an artist.  I was never artistically talented in that way, but I found joy and purpose in writing.  He always said to find your passion, and writing is my passion.

Bonnie:  Your books that I have read, Countess Jacqueline and Agustina de Aragón,  are about very strong women from real life who had roles that were not typical of their times.  They are also women who are not as well known as other historical figures.  Are these themes you want to continue in subsequent books?

Gail:  Yes.  For me to write, it has to be something that I can also learn and will hold my interest.  I look for lesser known historical figures  who I can research, and the research is a very important part of my process. I also want to talk about the heroes.  My heroes are strong, but not macho.  They are confident, but not arrogant.  They are partners, but not dominant over the heroines.  This is something that is very important to me, and also comes out of being in a bad first marriage.

Bonnie:  What are you working on now?

Gail:   I’m writing a murder mystery which is more lighthearted and kind of fun, and set in 1920s New York.  I have also started a Civil War novel.  The murder mystery will be published next.

Bonnie:  What does your writing day look like:? 

Gail:  I mainly write on a desktop computer, but I will take a laptop outside by the pool.  I usually write and research all day, starting at 5 a.m.  However, I take plenty of breaks to see my grandchildren, who live right around the corner.

Bonnie: Do you have any hobbies when you’re not writing or researching?

Gail: I’m a HUGE New York Yankees fan and have a room full of their paraphernalia.

Bonnie: Who are your favorite players?

Gail: My favorite Yankees players are Andy Petit and Derek Jeter. My absolute favorite pitcher of all time wasn’t a Yankee for long.  Randy Johnson (the Big Unit, he was called), pitched from 1988-2009, mostly for the Seattle Mariners, but he was a Yankee briefly at the end of his career. 

Bonnie: Do you have any advice for new and aspiring writers?

Gail:  I would advise anyone who wants to write to get going.  Don’t make any excuses and write every day.  Also, do not be afraid to share your writing with the world.  I never showed anyone my first seven books for years.  I kept them to myself and I regret that. 

Bonnie:  Gail, that is great advice, and it was something I needed to hear as an aspiring writer.  It was so great to talk to you.  I really enjoyed Agustina de Aragón, and I can’t wait to read your next book.

BOOK REVIEW

Gail Meath brings a legend to life in this beautiful historical romance/thriller based on the life of Agustina Raimunda Maria Saragossa, or Agustina de Aragón, also known as “The Spanish Joan of Arc.” We learn the true story of Agustina’s heroic acts during the First Siege of Zaragosa, her life as a soldier and prisoner, and her romance with her beloved Juan Roca. Set in Barcelona and then Zaragosa, and other points in Spain, we meet Agustina as a girl and then follow her into womanhood, motherhood, and war.

The author’s meticulous research into the life and customs of early 1800s Spain is obvious, as Agustina’s world comes alive. The reader will feel as if they are there, visiting the marketplace and working alongside Agustina in her father’s bladesmith shop. The love story between Agustina and Roca is very well done, and their passion and dedication to each other are painted across every page. 

When danger arrives in the form of the Napoleon-led French Army, we can see the bloody battles and the savagery of the enemy, as well as the bravery of the Spanish people, as they fight off onslaught after onslaught. The terrible price of war is shown again and again, and the reader will weep along with Agustina as she faces unspeakable loss. The author’s knowledge of the topic is impressive, and I learned so much about Napoleon’s attacks on and eventual takeover of Spain. Although Agustina is famous for her acts during the First Siege of Zaragosa, she was also a mother, soldier, and prisoner of war, and it all comes alive in this novel. The ending is absolutely intriguing, and not to be missed.

I require two things from historical fiction. The first is that I be transported to the time and place being described. There is no question I felt transported to marketplaces, battlefields, and even prison in this fantastic novel. The second is that I learn something, and this book introduced me to Agustina herself, and then taught me much about the Napoleonic wars.

Agustina De Aragón introduces us to a compelling real-life legend, takes us into her world, and shows us the realities of war. It is a must read for fans of strong female characters. If you have never heard of Agustina, this book will introduce you in an unforgettable way.

LINK TO BUY AGUSTINA DE ARAGÓN (Released April 16, 2021). READ A GREAT NOVEL FOR ONLY $2.99.

MY AMAZON REVIEW (Helpful Votes Appreciated If You Are So Inclined)

BOOK TRAILER

CHECK OUT SOME OF GAIL MEATH’S OTHER WORKS: These are great books available on Kindle Unlimited.

COUNTESS JACQUELINE

FIRE BLOSSOM

FATEFUL STRANGERS

FIND GAIL MEATH ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Instagram

Book Review: The Devil Whispered

In the near future United States, Retired Special Forces Commander Jacobi Slate is investigating a brutal murder committed by his former boss, Admiral Ben Oaksley, who has admittedly killed his beloved wife, Mary. As Slate’s investigation continues and more strange murders occur, he begins to suspect that this is tied to his past and that someone in the background is pulling the strings.

This is a thrilling cyberpunk detective noir story with well developed characters and an intriguing premise. It shows a future America even more enmeshed in technology and describes what could be the results of that. I liked the first-person detective noir approach as told through the eyes of a veteran of many wars. This is not your traditional detective noir, as there is a strong female main character, Risa, who definitely proved herself tougher than any of the others, even our protagonist. As indicative of the noir genre, the lines between right and wrong are blurred and the protagonist is well meaning but flawed. The cyberpunk element is crucial as we see technology becoming more and more enmeshed into human life. This is an action-packed novel with revelations that are eye-opening and thought provoking.

I would recommend this to any fans of the the cyberpunk and detective noir genres.

This was another great book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can borrow it for free. It is also available to purchase outright for only 99 cents at the link below.

BUY THE DEVIL WHISPERED ON AMAZON

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shawn Starkweather

Shawn lives in Massachusetts with his wife and the handful of childhood stuffed animals that they’ve been unable to part ways with, even despite the awkward situation in which it occasionally puts their house guests. He wields a coveted Associates of Liberal Arts degree from Greenfield Community College in an overly enthusiastic, flailing manner, and puts it to work writing both fantasy and science fiction stories. Using subliminal codes and hidden messaging carefully placed throughout his books, he plans to captivate the minds of his readers and insidiously manipulate them into purchasing subsequent releases. 

As a novelist, musician, graphic designer, and a purveyor of fine games, Shawn is often confused about exactly who he is when he wakes up in the morning. It’s been said (by him) that perhaps he embodies all of these things so equally that a singular definition could not comprehensively impart a satisfactory description. With your support, and a sufficient demand for more novels, he secretly hopes that he’ll have no choice but to formally acknowledge the prevailing label of ‘author’ and spend the rest of his days providing a sense of wonder and adventure to everyone who helped him solidify his nebulous identity.

Shawn’s Website

Book Review: The Siege of An Loc

UPDATE: I have updated this review to add another half star in accordance with my new ratings system. This is captivating and well-researched historical fiction about the Vietnam War.

The Siege of An Loc is the story of the defense of An Loc in 1972 during the Vietnam War. It is also a love story between a South Vietnamese soldier, Trung, and Ly, a student, daughter of a rubber plantation owner. As Trung struggles to defend his country, he finds himself falling for the beautiful Ly, but do they have a chance for happiness in the midst of war? We also see the evil of communism especially personified in one of the characters, and two brothers are reunited, one from North Vietnam and one from South Vietnam.

I learned so much about the Vietnam War from this book. When I was in grade school and high school in the U.S. in the 70s and 80s, they didn’t teach us much about it. I just knew my uncle died in this war at the age of 20, and I really didn’t even know why he was there. When we would ask in the mid-70s, we were told nobody liked to talk about it. But now the author, Nguyen Trong Hien, has answered a lot of the questions. I love the fact that we see inside the war from the perspective of a South Vietnamese soldier instead of the American perspective. And we learn of the atrocities of Communism and how it takes over and annihilates a culture.

Some small constructive criticism: This is both a romance and a history book, and sometimes it felt as if we left the romance and entered a very detailed history book with little transition. However, the history is important for the reader to know, and the characters were interesting and well developed. The ending of the book was left open for our characters, and I wasn’t sure what happened to them after South Vietnam fell. I hope there will be a sequel.

I received a free paperback copy of this book from the author. I also downloaded a digital copy on Kindle Unlimited, where members can read books at no additional cost. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Link to The Siege of An Loc on Amazon

Link to Nguyen Trong Hien’s Amazing Blog.

Link to my Goodreads Review

Link to my review on Amazon

Once Upon a Rhyme

Dylan or “Oskie” has experienced great loss even prior to the recent passing of his father, Hollis, who was also his long-time coach.  This loss has made him hesitate to move forward, especially in love.  While cleaning out his father’s belongings, Oskie finds a book of poems written by his father.  As he begins to read them, memories come flooding back and he truly sees the importance of his father’s words.   Linda, his best friend’s Mom, also figures in the story and gives him a great example to follow. As a remarkable week passes and Dylan studies his father’s words, he learns three lessons that help him make sense of it all.

This is a heart-touching story about memories shared, lives lost, and the love that remains afterwards. It reminds us that memories can be so good that they hurt, and that it’s better to feel the hurt than shut out the memories.  I really connected with the character Linda, who lost her son to suicide.   She makes me think of a woman I personally know who lost her entire family, including her children, and yet she just radiates love, because she knows the secret.  Love is it.  It’s the only thing we take with us and the only thing that keeps growing after we die.

There are also two great adoptions in this story. Dylan’s son “Turbo” has already been adopted, and another adoption story begins to unfold. Coaching and sports figure heavily in this story as well. Dylan has followed in his father’s footsteps as a coach.

My only criticism is, in my opinion, there were too many nicknames for a fairly short story and I wasn’t fond of some of the nicknames.  I would advise readers to check the glossary of nicknames in the front of the book in order to avoid confusion.  However, that being said, this is a heartfelt story of love, loss, and lessons learned.   I would recommend it to all.  You can buy this story on Amazon for only 99 cents.  

I received a free gift copy from the author.  My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.  

BUY ONCE UPON A RHYME ON AMAZON

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CHECK OUT THE AVERAGE MAN’S ADVENTURE PODCAST BY THE AUTHOR TONY SARAGAS

MY AMAZON REVIEW (HELPFUL VOTES APPRECIATED)

For New And Indie Authors: Helpful Information I’ve Learned While Reviewing Books So Far

I started doing Netgalley book reviews in October of 2019 and I’ve been reviewing off and on on Goodreads since about 2014. I’ve put up about 220 reviews on Netgalley and almost 400 on Goodreads. I have learned some things that may be helpful, especially to new or Indie authors. These observations are just my opinion based on what I’ve seen after 200 plus reviews, but I hope they can be of help to authors. Please let me know your opinions or additional hints in the comments below

  1. THE COVER MATTERS:
A Great Cover

I have seen great books with obviously homemade covers. One cover I saw looked like it was home-drawn in pencil, and the erasures were visible. This is a shame because the book was great and I gave it five stars. When a reader is scrolling through millions of books on Kindle or Kindle Unlimited, the cover needs to stand out. Above is my opinion of an eye-catching cover. It’s interesting, colorful, and it gives you an idea of what to expect in the book. This would stop my scrolling and make me want to check the book out. A poor cover is not going to draw anyone to your book, and it is more than likely that very few people will see it. In my opinion, a professional graphic artist/designer is needed and should be part of your marketing budget. Nowadays, not only is a great cover very important, but many authors are adding animated covers and book trailers. Here is a great article on how to animate your own book cover: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2021/01/18/how-to-animate-your-book-cover/

A noticeable cover is necessary and can pay for itself eventually in added sales.

2. KINDLE UNLIMITED:

There are some advantages to using Kindle Unlimited, especially if you are a new or self-published author. Millions of readers have the opportunity to borrow your book for free. Some of them will hopefully post reviews, and then you can make the decision as to when to take it off KU and start charging for it later. The biggest advantage I’ve noticed for myself as a reviewer is that since I have Kindle Unlimited, I can pick your book up for free on my own without having to receive a free copy from you. For those who aren’t aware, if a reviewer receives a free copy of a book for review, they are required by law to say that they received a free copy, who they received it from, and add the fact that their review is voluntary. Amazon has recently been blocking reviews of books received directly from the author, so I don’t usually accept books directly from the author anymore. I prefer they come from a third party such as Netgalley, Booksirens, or other sites, or an agent or publisher, or I get them myself on Kindle Unlimited if they are available.

3. GET ON SOCIAL MEDIA NOW:

I’ve reviewed books for several new authors who have little to no social media following. If you’re reading this and you have plans to write a book, get on social media now. Start a blog and get on Goodreads, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites, and start making connections now. Don’t wait until your book is done to try and get a following. I saw an author post recently that they were turned down by an agent because they did not have a large enough social media following. Start taking care of that now. When I started, I had no idea how to create a blog, but about 30 minutes on Youtube was enough of an education to get started on WordPress, and I’m still learning. #Bookstagram on Instagram is a big deal. As I type this, there are 56 million posts on Instagram with the #Bookstagram hashtag. That’s a lot of visibility. Twitter has a large writing community as well. There are thousands of book review blogs on WordPress, including mine. Join us and review books while you share your life, your other hobbies, and your writing progress, and get some followers before you publish. Get your followers to fall in love with your book even before you publish it. One of my favorite authors, Jodi Taylor, started out as self published (at the age of 60), created a huge Facebook following, and is now a best-selling author with a major publisher. If video is your thing or you have a natural gift for speaking, start a Youtube channel or a podcast. The most important thing is to GET OUT THERE NOW. Don’t wait until your book is finished. *I’ve just read elsewhere that this is a sensitive topic, and I don’t mean to upset anyone, but this is the age of social media and as an indie author, you will need to market your own books, and having a social media following will help.

4. THINK ABOUT BLOGGING TOURS:

There are several tour companies out there who will put your new book content out on many blogs that agree to be “hosts,” so that all of the blog’s subscribers get to see your cover, a description, and anything else you want, including reviews and book trailers. They are a great way to spread the news about your book. I have done several promos for R&R Book Tours and RABT Book Tours, but there are many others.

5. BOOKSIRENS:

A lot of people know about Netgalley, but Booksirens is another service that will provide reviewers for your book, and from what I hear it’s less expensive than some of the others. Please correct me in the comments if I’m wrong about that. They also provide very detailed statistics for each reviewer so the author can know more about the person who is reviewing their book. My statistics are shared if you click on the widget below:

Bonnie's Profile

6. BETA READERS:

Some authors enlist some volunteer beta readers to help them do initial reviews of their drafts. This can be helpful in finding typos and providing initial reactions to the book. If you have created a social media following, getting volunteer beta readers will be easy.

PLEASE LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON THESE TOPICS AND ANY OTHER HELPFUL HINTS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION.