Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Reviewers' Choice


Reviewers' Choice: Our 2015 Favorites

Reviewers’ Choice

We asked our reviewers to choose favorites from the 2015 indie releases they’d reviewed. These are their responses—the most beloved books among the best we’ve read.

  Rockin’the Boat: 50 Iconic Revolutionaries

Book Cover Jeff Fleischer
Zest Books
Hardcover $13.99 (224pp)

Fleischer shows teens the ancestors of their nonconformist mindset in this informative and humorous historical guide.

Rockin’ the Boat: 50 Iconic Revolutionaries from Joan of Arc to Malcolm X, by Jeff Fleischer, harnesses the rebel spirit of teens in order to slyly teach some history.
The book covers the life and accomplishments of fifty radicals throughout history. Although many have since earned mainstream status, each was an underdog in their time who found serious fault with the status quo. Ordered chronologically, each of the headings features the years and location of the person’s life, and the opponent (empires, institutions, ideas) they railed against. The list features familiar names (George Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.) and those possibly less familiar (Guy Fawkes and Ho Chi Minh).

The strong point of this book is Fleischer’s understanding of his audience; his grasp of history is impressive as well. Teens are tired of textbooks that shelter them from the realities of the world, so he provides controversy and faces brutality, disenfranchisement, and disillusionment head on, giving the facts behind what teens already suspect: history and social change are complicated. Teens also love intriguing facts, so the sidebars are full of them—did you know a Hollywood film company filmed some of Pancho Villa’s battles? Teens will make a clever joke, any time, any place, so the captions have a dash of humor (“Sitting Bull sits bullishly in this portrait from 1885”)—but the more straightforward captions (“Chavez in 1972”) leave teens looking for a punch line.

For focusing on only fifty people, the book has a fairly well rounded scope. It’s slanted toward American history and Western history overall, making it relatable for American teens, but it also provides glimpses into other parts of the world. Nine women and forty-one men leaves a bit to be desired, but that’s more the fault of history and culture than Fleischer’s. He makes a point to offer tough-as-nails heroines like Cleopatra and Harriet Tubman.

The short but insightful chapters balance the attention span and thirst for knowledge of middle-school and high-school learners.

MELISSA WUSKE (May 27, 2015)

Monday, October 26, 2015


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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Book covers - Select- o - Grafix,LLC

Movie reviewer - Meliss Keir - PAN

​ Throw everything you thought you knew about Peter Pan out the window. This installment of the classic book and movie, retells the tale. I’m giving Pan a B+.

​ Pan tells the story behind the boy who becomes the leader of a rag tag group of boys living in Neverland. Peter is left at an orphanage by his mother and then is kidnapped by sky pirates and taken to Neverland. Once in Neverland, Peter is put to work in the mines, toiling daily for pixie dust. Blackbeard, the pirate, needs the dust to extend his life. Peter befriends a man named James Hook (yep, Captain Hook) as the two set off to find Peter’s mother.

​ The cinematography is amazing. Images appear to be a blend of cartoonish and realistic. Bright colors and unique animals abound. One of my favorite images was the use of a burst of bright color when one of Tiger Lily’s tribe dies. 

​ While this tale doesn’t follow the original storyline, there are many nods to the story we’ve come to know and love. Captain Hook is a schemer but also a flirt and while Tiger Lily is a Caucasian girl rather than Native American, her tribe is a mixture of a variety of ethnicities.

​ The fun action and exciting storyline make this a perfect movie for the whole family. Children will love the sword fights and pirate ship battles. Adults will understand the nods towards the original storyline as well as the twist on James Hook’s character. Who knew he wasn’t always a bad guy!

​ But if you are going in expecting this story to remain true to the original, you will be sorely disappointed. Leave your preconceived notions at the door and enjoy a family friendly movie!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Hearts of Braden

The Hearts of Braden is a series written by 8 authors about a not so sleepy little town in Iowa. The first book releases Oct 6th, second Oct 30th and every two weeks until the new year.
They will be guests on blog Talk Radio -October 13 -9PM EST 8 PM CST
World Of Ink Network 
Triple B. Baking Co.-Book One by Michel Prince Released October 6, 2015
Merryn Sota and Austin Larsen have known loss. Merryn ran until she couldn't any more, Austin retreated into himself. But sweets aren't the only thing cooking at Braden's new bakery. Can two people who run to avoid the hurt that comes with love slow down enough to see that not all treats come out of an oven?
The Heartbreaker - Book Two by Tricia Andersen Released October 30, 2015
Every day in Braden is the same for town librarian Lily Dixon. That is until MMA fighter Reese Cooper walks back into her life, forced home to rehabilitate from a devastating injury in the octagon. His kisses, his touch are far better than any fantasy she's ever had. Is she willing to risk everything when her preacher father finds out about her love affair with the town bad boy? And what will happen when Reese returns to Vegas and leaves her alone in Braden?
Book Three by Kim Dahl Releasing November 3rd, 2015
Sam’s last clue to his sister’s disappearance is Braden Iowa. But its three years old. Lola McBride finds him after an attack in the woods. Someone has make it clear they don’t want him asking questions. What happened to his sister and who is trying to hide the answers he seeks? Can he find the truth?
Secrets and Lies - Book Four by Susanne Matthews, Released November 17, 2015
DEA agent Emily Shepherd is after the Chef, a faceless crystal meth cook responsible for the deaths of her husband and unborn child. Braden, Iowa, a town in turmoil thanks to a killer tornado, is the perfect place for the Chef to set up shop. But identifying her quarry won’t be easy. The town is full of strangers and the school's attractive principal, Jackson Harris, could be at the center of it all.
Heart Nectar - Book Five by Davee Jones, Release date December 1, 2015
Best friends, Nixie Bieber and Mindie Larsen, opened a small winery with the hopes to become a leading producer of Midwestern wine. Acquiring the funds to expand their promising operation hinges on the cooperation of brothers, George and Charles Stansfield. Sexy and powerful, these twin brothers bring more than the girls bargained for from a simple business deal.
No Love Lost - Book Six by Troy Storm, Release date December 15, 2015.
Recovering from horrendous deployments in the Mid-east, local boy Ches has hooked up with dark-skinned Josey, who has become a respected businessman in Braden and is the rock on which Ches is building his life. A well-meaning but clueless social worker storms into the picture, but Maddy clues in quickly when she realizes she has awakened a whole new set of possibilities that is anything but black and white in the incredibly sexy trio.
Heart Song-Book Seven by Molly Daniels, Release Date December 29, 2015
Broadway pianist Shana Worthington rushes home to help run her family's hotel while her father recupperates from a stroke.  When she reunites with her high school sweetheart, will the sparks of desire burst into something more?
Current rock star Aiden Kross sees Shana's potential as a songwriter.  Will Shana's career again overrule her heart?
Love vs fame.  Which will she choose?
Ring of Truth - Book Eight by Sherry Gloag, Release date January 2016
How can one ring become embroiled in a catalogue of lies, theft, broken promises, unrealistic demands and--love?
Noelle McBride vows to walk away from her inheritance when she learns the ring her mother promised would be hers now comes with strings...no, more like ropes, attached.
Reed Tanner is within a whisker of recoveriing the ring stolen from his Grandma until he learns about the conditions that will guarantee its return to his family.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Black Mass - Movie Reviewer

Johnny Depp is scary as Whitey Bulger in Black Mass but it’s not enough to make this movie a blockbuster. I’m giving it a B-.

James “Whitey” Bulger grew up on the streets of South Boston and made a name for himself as a thug. After a stint in Alcatraz, he sets out to hit the big time as a leader of the Irish Mafia in Boston. With the help of the FBI, his killing spree becomes legendary.

Black Mass comes across as a documentary, detailing the rise and fall of James Bulger. Johnny Depp is almost unrecognizable with the bald patch and blue eyes but it’s the stillness, the obsessive control that shows his depth of getting into the mind and personality of this killer. It might garner him a few award nods.

There’s really no characters to connect with in this story and that’s what makes this movie hard to love. You come away with a better understanding of James Bulger and his team, but you’re not sorry for the choices they made. Everyone was fodder if they got in his way or went against him. I found myself admiring his cunning at using others for his own benefit (such as the FBI), but hated that he used everyone in his life…his brother, friends…and no one was safe from his retribution. He gives new meaning to cold-blooded killer.

Benedict Cumberbatch did an amazing job as James’s younger brother who was an important figure in Boston’s government. The question of how much his influence kept Whitey safe, was never really answered. I don’t think we will really know. But he wasn’t the only big name…Dakota Johnson and Kevin Bacon also had wonderful performances.

Black Mass would make a wonderful drinking game movie, since there’s so many F bombs that you would be smashed in the first fifteen minutes of the film. The numerous cold-blooded assassinations make this a movie not for the faint of heart.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Getting Books In Libraries



If you're a self-published author who is trying to promote your book and get it into bookstores, why not try getting it into a library first? Libraries are great marketing tools - they enable people to read your book and tell other people about it, making it more well-known and easier to eventually sell to bookstores.


  1. 1
    Ensure that your book is high quality. Many people are wary of self-published books because they believe that they are low quality. Make sure that your book is formatted and has been carefully edited. Also, choose your bindings carefully, as libraries generally won't stock books with that are comb bound, spiral bound, or saddle stitched (stapled). It's a good idea to call your local library and ask them what their requirements are. Ensure that the cover makes the book look professional and interesting, as many people do judge a book by its cover.
  2. 2
    Promote your book. Start promoting your book before contacting libraries to get the word out and show that you're serious. Create a website or blog for your book, and make sure it looks professional.
  3. 3
    Be professional. Find out who the acquisitions librarian is (the librarian who purchases books for the library or branch), and call her, email her, or set up a brief meeting with her to ask about donating some copies of your books. Don't just put your book in the donations bin or hand it to a random librarian at the check out counter - chances are it will end up in a book sale that way. Be polite, professional, and respectful. Consider giving her a copy to look over if she seems unsure about your book.
  4. 4
    Be prepared to donate a few copies. Libraries are usually non-profit organizations, and as such, they like donations. However, most libraries will require you to donate more than one copy of your book, as it costs money to catalogue it and is only worth their time and money if there's more than one copy in their library. Some libraries have special systems or sections in the library specifically for self-published local authors, so enquire about that.
  5. 5
    Get a review. In order to not only get the attention of the not only the librarians, but the general public, get your book reviewed. Try to land a review from Library Journal, CHOICE, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, or Kirkus Reviews. There are also programs that will send flyers about your book to local libraries for a fee.
  6. 6
    Ask others to request your book. Libraries usually take requests seriously, so it's a great way to get them to put your book on the shelves. Ask some friends and family members to request your book. Be careful that you don't have them submit dozens of spam-like requests for your book; librarians can tell which requests are fake and which are legitimate, and they won't be happy if you waste their time with fake requests.
  7. 7
    Continue marketing your book. Once you get the book on the library shelves, your battle isn't necessarily over. Libraries will usually weed out books if they don't circulate well to free up shelf space for books that will. Make sure to promote your book as much as possible to ensure that people want to take it out.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


melissa_keir: The Man From Uncle Bromance #moviereview

The Man from Uncle is as much of a bromance as a spy action movie! I give it an A-. Based on the 1960’s TV show of the same name, This Man from Uncle provides us the background of how the two unlikely allies find themselves working together.

UNCLE feels like an early James Bond movie with an extra secret agent. In fact, the original TV show had Ian Fleming’s blessing. He gave Napoleon Solo, his name which was based off a character from Goldfinger.

With eye-candy galore- Cavill as Solo – the American CIA agent and Hammer as Ilyra –the Russian KGB agent, UNCLE appeals to women who love their witty banter along with their sexy men. These two throw punches and punchlines back and forth throughout the movie in a dance of romance as they learn to like…or at least respect each other.

For the men, the women aren’t to be outdone. The evil Victoria screams ice queen or at least Paris Hilton with her expensive wardrobe and cool demeanor. But it’s Gaby, the daughter of the kidnapped scientist that steals the movie. She’s both cocky yet innocent and smolders with Hammer. The heat between them sizzles up the screen.

While the focus is on saving the world from nuclear weapons, Cavill and Hammer entertain, whether trying to one-up each other or wise-cracking with a straight face. The clothes and the cars provide the perfect backdrop for the nostalgic trip back in time to the 1960’s. The only downfall of the movie is the soundtrack…not enough 1960’s music to enjoy. If you’re giving us all the rest of the 1960’s…we’d love some music too!

Fans of witty high-brow comedy and exciting spy action will enjoy The Man From Uncle, no matter their age.

Also…not after credits scene but keep eyes peeled for some fun…David Beckham has a cameo!

I often feel like Johnny Storm at night since menopause…Flame On! If you laughed at that, you probably would enjoy my wisecracks more than the Fantastic 4 reboot. I’m giving it a C- as in see it at home! Don’t spend your $$.

Fantastic 4 tells the story of Reed Richards, brainiac and geek who along with his good friend, Ben Grimm, create a small transporter to another dimension. Capturing the notice of Dr. Storm, Reed goes to work with Dr. Storm, his adoptive daughter- Sue, his fast driving son- Johnny and a reluctant Victor Doom to create a larger transporter. When the four guys (Reed drags Ben into the shenanigans) decide to be the first on this new world, something goes horribly wrong and gives everyone a unique superpower.

First, this movie didn’t feel like a Marvel movie. No Stan Lee cameo. No after credit sneak peek. The audience when I was there called it an “epic fail” that the ending credits were just that…the end. And while the movie seems to follow the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic series’ storyline about the creation of the Fantastic 4, there were enough changes to upset fans. 

Secondly, Marvel isn’t known for its compelling roles for women. But in Fantastic 4, Sue Storm spends most of her time in a literal bubble protecting others rather than doing any fighting of her own. In this storyline, she only gets her powers when the ship returning from the other planet explodes and she’s in the room. 

Thirdly (and I’ll make it my finally because I could go on and on), Fantastic 4 is a morose movie. Everyone is sad, down, depressed (except maybe Johnny). Reed feels that he’s let everyone down. Ben is mad at Reed. Sue is only interested in telling her brother how to act and trying to prove she’s smart. The families in this movie are dysfunctional bordering on abusive. No one is happy to have these new powers. No one wants to do anything good with them (except maybe Johnny who has a danger addiction). Some of the gaping storyline holes could have provided us with some more upbeat moments or even clarity but according to the director… “…the studio sabotaged the movie.”

Whether or not the studio did…we are subjected to another remake that really doesn’t show us anything new or interesting. How many times are the movie studios going to remake movies just because they were “fun” shows of our youth?? When will they realize that we like new concepts and new movies?? I know it won’t be this year, since we have a Point Break remake and a live action Jem and the Holograms coming soon.

First thing to do before seeing Vacation is to take yourself out of the mindset that this is a reboot of the old Chevy Chase Vacation. As said in the movie- This vacation stands on its own merit. I give it an A.

The laughs begin with the opening credits. It plays like bad vacation photos. These are heartbreaking…in that people actually were on those vacations! Don’t forget to stay for the ending images of the Griswold’s own vacation photos! But you may want to cover your children’s eyes.

This Vacation movie does pay homage to the original in some unique ways from the same song to photos of the Griswolds on vacation in the other movies (Just don’t look too close at the kids in those photos since different actors played them in many of the movies), even to having the old car and Rusty’s parents show up! However, this movie’s humor is raunchier and entirely its own. No repeats there!

From swimming in human waste to Thor’s junk, Rusty Griswold’s trip to recreate his favorite childhood vacation is one mistake after another. Ed Helms plays Rusty much like he did the straight man in the Hangover movies, while Christina Applegate steals the movie with her eye rolling, beer chugging, and weary mother routine. Been there, done that!

There are plenty of cameos by some pretty popular TV and movie stars but it’s the message of what it takes to be a family (in good and bad times) that comes through loud and clear. The movie just may have you thinking about taking a little family road trip of your own.