Thursday, January 22, 2015

ITGIRL4LIFE! Review and Guest Post

Author: Tamara Branch
Publisher: Heart Project Publishing
Pages: 98
Genre: YA/Self-Esteem
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Writer, artist and speaker, Tamara Branch serves up 40 bite-sized chapters on how to build unshakable self-confidence, honor your life, and shine bright in the world, in ITGIRL4LIFE: How to bring out your special something and so much more. Packed with sage advice, life-changing insights and affirmations to help you soar, ITGIRL4LIFE offers ideas, tools and principles that you can reference and build upon, supporting you in becoming your best. Get ready to fall in love with your own wisdom, beauty and strength.


The Author is also hosting a Rafflecopter Code for $25 iTunes Gift Card Giveaway:
 a Rafflecopter giveaway
My Impressions:  
This was a short read, less than 100 pages, but an exceptional one for the most part. Filled with wisdom, advise and lessons for young girls this quick read will help parents and  family with daughters turn a negative experience into a positive one.

I love books that encourage girls to see their worth and appreciate the unique ways God made each of us. But I disagree with the premise of this book. As a christian I prefer to teach my children and guide them to look towards God for their strength, courage, wisdom, etc., not inwardly. That being said, the basic principals this book lays out are not all bad. The author does offer insight and wisdom in letting girls know they need to investigate their feeling and girls do need to have a strong sense of self-worth. She also touches on helping girls understand their hidden talents and motivations. With that being said if  parents have filled their children with scripture and the will of God over their will,  they could still use the guiding principals the author lays out and tweek them to a focus upward. 

Guest Post: 

It’s all in the NAME: How I came up with the title for my first book
by Tamara Branch

When a prospective reader comes across a title that pops, they want to open up that book, flip through and investigate. Your title is like the first hello, the introduction. You want to make it good. I started writing my first book under the working title, Foundation for Girls — an inspirational handbook on how to build unshakable self-confidence, honor your life and shine bright in the world. I wanted to write a book that reminded girls of their wisdom, beauty and strength. I wrote 40 empowering ideas, tools and principles that would support girls in stepping into their greatness. The working title was spot on for writing purposes because it gave me a strong theme to follow. However, I always knew it was not the IT. I needed a title that resonated with the target audience emotionally, was as clear and concise as a hashtag yet captured the true essence of what book is about.

First let me say that coming up with a great title was not easy. It took a minute. I finished the content and it was time to start brainstorming. I began honing in on my book’s message, and intention. The book was packed with the important foundational principles that we often forget when we are feeling stressed, scattered, or out of balance. I kept  jotting things down. Every brainstorming session brought me closer. This book is chock full of  ideas on what you can do to empower yourself in any given moment. One day while watching one of the entertainment news shows, I finally got it! The reporter said, “The new IT girl is blah, blah blah,” I forget who they were talking about but it was a new Hollywood starlet that made a splash onto the scene. We all know she has about 15 minutes, before she’s off her throne, right?

Anyway, just hearing that phrase sparked a whole train of thought. I started thinking about the ‘it girl’ idea prevalent in Hollywood and how it stems from the notion that certain people are stars. She has IT - that ‘special something’ - that smile, that style, those boobs, those legs, that hair, that particular talent, etc.  This idea has become a part of the psyche of our society. The ‘it girl’, on tv, in films, at school, on the cheerleading team, at work and on the block, shines brighter than the rest. She’s favored and often celebrated for all of her superficial qualities. The celebration doesn’t last long. After her popularity dies down, a new girl is given the ‘it girl’ title and on and on ‘it’ goes. When taken out of context it can be damaging and the unfortunate pervasive message to many girls is that only a few are special, and that specialness is fleeting and based on other people’s judgement.

Ding, Ding Ding! After my ponderings, I had the perfect title for my book and it expressed exactly what was in my heart. ITGIRL4LIFE: How to bring out your special something and so much more, came to me fast and furious, along with a definition. “An ITGIRL4LIFE is a girl who loves herself, is authentic, takes charge and makes a difference. She has IT. IT is the GREATNESS she was born with.”  That was IT! The message of the book is that you have IT already. It’s your job to tap into IT and live your life to the fullest and here is a blueprint to help guide you to bringing out your specialness so you can create an amazing life for yourself. I was pleased.

Knowing your book’s core message is the key to finding your perfect title. It’s never one thing that gets you there. It’s the combination of all your efforts, being open to the magical whispers around you and your own clarity about the who, what, and why of your masterpiece.

About the Author:
Tamara has worked as a professional model and actor for almost two decades. She strutted down the runway for designers Calvin Klein, Donna Karen and Christian Dior, acted in a few independent films, co-hosted PBS New York’s education series, “What’s up in Technology” and appeared T.V. commercials and print ads for Levi’s, Old Navy, Hershey’s, Colgate, Kellogg’s Special K, Revlon, Hanes, Nike and many others. A Penn State alumnus and lifelong student of personal development, Tamara is deeply passionate about uplifting the human spirit.

After graduating from Institute for Integrative Nutrition, studying under Deepak Chopra, Dr. Andrew Weil and some of the top health and wellness experts in the world, she was inspired to raise the bar on her own ‘self care’ and support others in living more vibrantly. She is an abstract artist and teaches a dynamic dance class, where she gets to fuse her varied background, having trained in everything from jazz, ballet and modern to Afro-Caribbean and Salsa.

Tamara was recently asked to become a Female Visionary Author guest blogger for The Brave Heart Women Global Community.  She’s a SAG/AFTRA member since 1998, a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is represented by Abrams Artists Agency.
Tamara currently lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband of seven years and offers ITGIRL4LIFE workshops to assist girls on their self empowerment journey.

For More Information
**Disclosure** This book was sent to me free of charge for my honest review from Pump Up Your Book.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I, James (The Eternity Series Book 2)

Product Details
File Size: 2242 KB
Print Length: 285 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1927867312
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Eternity4Popsicle Publishing (September 16, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

My Impressions
This book was a little hard for me to get into, but it quickly picked up in a couple of chapters.  The only real issue I had with then book was the author did not always provide clear and concise character transitions which at times left me confused. Other than that relatively small issue I enjoyed the book. 

The book moved along nicely and wonderful imagery throughout. Amazing character development and plot that made you feel transported into the lives of each character. I loved James. He was dependable,  loyal, strong and an upright man. 

For a book that took a while to hook me in, I was sad to see it end. 

For More Information

  • I, James is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Book Excerpt:

It required two days of marching to get to what I’d learned was a plantation, which was in the middle of nowhere.  When we finally arrived at our destination, I considered how memorable my last 16 months had been since I was removed from a prince’s life.  Yes, they were memorable.  And even though I had a pouch full of coin hidden inside my drawers, I was now a slave on a plantation in Africa.


Mike Hartner is giving away one $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway begins November 3 and ends January 30.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on Monday, February 2.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


  a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author
Mike Hartner was born in Miami in 1965. He's traveled much of the continental United States. He has several years post secondary education, and experience teaching and tutoring young adults. Hartner has owned and run a computer firm for more than twenty-five years. He now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife and child. They share the neighborhood and their son with his maternal grandparents.

From the Author
I, James is the second in a series of books in a saga which will span continents and time to arrive in present day North America. Each in the series will be connected, though that connection may not be obvious for several more books. It's almost like looking at a menorah (sic). Many lines, seemingly individual, connect to center at different points. 

For More Information


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

In Deep and In Deeper by Kella McKinnon, Contemporary Romance


“I never thought it would go this far… that a man with such terrible secrets would steal my heart and make me want him so much, when his life of danger and lies should have made me want nothing more than to turn and run. I understood him, you see. I knew that beneath all of that money and power, and yes… violence, was a man in desperate need of love. So desperate that he took from me something I wasn’t ready to give: my

Brielle Dalton thought the few months in Vegas she needed to finish her dissertation would also be a chance to have some fun before ‘real life’ took over. But she never counted on meeting Cristos Vicario, the irresistible but troubled owner of the Adagio casino. The attraction was instant and all-consuming, but in the beginning neither knew that their lives had crossed before, and the result had been nothing short of tragedy. By the time Brielle discovers who Cristos really is, and what he has done in a reckless attempt to keep her, it’s too late. She’s already in too deep.
 My Impressions:
Wow, these two books were brillant. Sexy, honest, snarky and on fire. I easily read both books back to back, but they work well as stand alones too. 
The author does an amazing job blending lust, love, desires, and needs of both characters without making the books raunchy. 

Both Brielle and Cristos have past hurts, dysfunctions and relationship I 
issues that they have to work through if they want to make their relationship work. In the process both have to learn forgiveness and trust. 

Two great books that were filled with twits and turn that kept me engages and wanting more.

Prizes for the tour are as follows:
• One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card.
• One randomly chosen host will receive a $25 Amazon/ gift card.

Monday, January 19, 2015


Title: P.O.W.ER
Author: Lisa A. Kremer
Publisher: Word Hermit Press
Pages: 291
Genre: YA Speculative Feminist Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

What would happen if women and girls joined their unique abilities together to change the world? In a world where access to the written word is reserved to men, Andra BetScrivener has been able to read and write ever since she was a little girl without anyone teaching her. She must keep her abilities a secret in the country of New North, or she could lose her hands, her eyes or her life. In fact, the only paths offered to her–and all young women–are to either marry or enter the government-run Women’s Training Program, where she’ll be taught “feminine” arts like drawing, painting, and homemaking.

On her seventeenth birthday, Andra discovers that her abilities extend beyond reading. She can write events to life. As she begins to explore her new ability, she must take care not to jeopardize her father’s job as head scrivener at the Ministry. Despite her efforts to keep her powers hidden, she comes to the attention of both the government and a rebel group, who each desire to use Andra for their own goals. At the same time, she begins to meet other gifted women who have never dared use their unique powers. With the help of her friends Brian and Lauren—who has the ability to read minds—Andra must find a way to unite the power of women to create change.

When one side manipulates Andra’s words into killing someone, and the other threatens her father’s life and her own freedom, Andra decides to use her writing to empower others to stop governmental oppression. But in a society ruled by lies, cruelty, and inequality her journey will not be easy or safe. For each book sold, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to causes that support women and children around the world.  

My Impressions: 

 This was a very interesting book with a great theme running throughout.  The power we have Inside us is only llimited when we refuse to act. Andra's discovery has the power to change not only her life but the lives of generations, but she has to have the courage and strength to act. 

This book was a great reminder that we are all created with unique and individual talents and gifts that we should embrace instead of hiding them away. Change only comes when someone has the courage to start the process and stay the course! 

This was a fast read,  but powerful and thought provoking. Filled with strong characters,  great plot, mystery, suspense and poweful emotions.  Easy to recommend for young girls and women alike who need the reminder of our own abilitybto change the world.

About the Author:
Lisa A. Kramer has spent her life learning, creating, and exploring the world through theatre, writing, traveling and collaborating as an educator. She has lived in nine states and two countries (including Japan). She holds a PhD in Theatre for Youth, an MFA in Theatre Directing, and a BA in English Language & Literature and Theatre. She has published non-fiction articles in journals specializing on Theatre for Young Audiences, as well articles aimed at young people for Listen Magazine. In addition to young adult novels, she has ventured into the world of short stories, and has stories for adults in several of the Theme-Thology series published by and available on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo. When not writing, Lisa shares her love of the arts and the power of story as co-founder of heArtful Theatre Company and as adjunct faculty at various colleges and universities. She also spends time enjoying New England with her husband, daughter, and two dogs from her home base in central Massachusetts.

Her latest book is the YA speculative feminist fiction, P.O.W.ER.

For More Information

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Stand-Book 2 in the Charlotte Marshall Series

Title: Stand (2nd book in the series)
Author: Becky Johnson
Publisher: Becky Johnson
Pages: 160
Genre: Mystery Suspense
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Purchase:at AMAZON
Nine months ago Charlotte Marshall survived a nightmare when she was hunted by a sadistic killer. Now routine, ritual, and a vigorous self-defense schedule barely keep the fear at bay.

Desperate to move on Charlotte finds hope in volunteering with FindMe, an organization dedicated to finding missing people and helping their families. Her first case ends up being more than she bargained for, and she soon learns that a little hope can be a dangerous thing.

While Charlotte unravels a mystery, an old enemy circles waiting for just the right moment to strike. Charlotte will have to choose to stand and fight, or to give in to the fear that waits for her.

My Impressions: 

This is the 2nd book in the Charlotte Marshall series I have read and I am loving it! The characters are full of life. I adore Charlotte. She is spunky, fierce, dependable and a go getter. Despite all life has thrown her way, she still wants to fight for others to bring them peace and closure. Skeet is a hoot! I think he had to be favorite character of them all.  

The book is narratoratedby our main protagonist, Charlotte Marshall 9 months after the first bookRun ends.Struggling to keep her life from falling apart aftter her ordeal with Pheares, Charlotte has put into place safety measure of every kind to make her feel secure. With the help of Skeet, Moeshe, Jack and her dog Max she fights through the demons that have held her cavtive for far too long, but just around the corner, llurking in the shadows, her greatest obstacle is waiting for her.

This whole series has been a great read. Full of mystery, intrigue, suspense, love, and finding ones self in the midst of chaos. Cannot recommend highly enough as a stand alone and series.

Book Excerpt:

My own scream woke me.

Zero to sixty in less than a second. One second I was sound asleep, and the

next I was bolt upright in bed with the sound of my scream still echoing across

the bedroom. My heart thundered in my chest, and my panting breaths sounded

loud in the silence. My shaking hands gripped the blanket in tight fists. Kitty

looked up at me from her cozy spot at the end of the bed. Yellow eyes blinked.

Then she meowed in sympathy and dropped her calico head back down onto

her paws. She used to love sleeping curled right up against me. But my regular

nightmares disrupted her. Unfortunately nightmares are not an uncommon

occurrence. I have suffered from them ever since Lawrence Pheares.

Nine months ago I faced a monster, a murderer responsible for the deaths

of twenty-three innocent girls. At night he haunts me. Sometimes the dreams

are a reenactment of the events. I see Pheares choking me. Or I remember

Jack and Pheares fighting. Sometimes the nightmares are filled with images

of my lost girls. I watch helpless as Emily runs from a mad man. I cannot save

her. The worst ones though, the dreams that make it impossible for me to go

back to sleep, are the ones like the nightmare I just woke up from. They leave

me with a jumble of images and tangled feelings. Nothing concrete that makes

sense. When I wake up screaming, I am overwhelmed with terror. That’s the

only feeling or sense I get from these dreams, bone deep fear.

According to my therapist I am suffering from PTSD. Simple letters for a

life that is changed by trauma. Nine months ago I had lived the nightmare. It

all began so simply. I was doing research for my next novel when I stumbled

onto a serial killer and twenty-three girls who were abducted, raped, tortured,

murdered, and then thrown away. When I found the killer, he found me. I

almost didn’t survive. In the end I beat Lawrence Pheares, but in doing so I was

forever changed.

Without conscious thought, my hand reached over to cover the E tattooed

on the inside of my right arm, a daily reminder of what I had survived and a

tribute to those innocent girls who did not.

In the months since I discovered evidence of a serial killer and my life

became entwined with those lost girls who were heartlessly killed by a

madman, I had become a different person, scared of my own shadow. At first it

wasn’t so bad. I was still cruising on adrenaline. Now every day is a battle.

When I let myself really think about it, thoughts of Georgia frighten me the

most. I never learned from Pheares what role she played in the killings, but I

knew in my heart that she had one. Pheares was dead. But I knew Georgia was

still out there. There was no evidence of this, but my gut told me different. I

knew she was alive. I could feel her watching me.

I looked over at my bedside clock. It was four forty-three in the morning.

There was no point in trying to go back to sleep. My body was slick with sweat

and the hands I ran over my face shook. Max, my black Pit Bull mix, looked at

me from his spot beside my bed. His ears were perked. Brown eyes focused on

me. He looked ready to get up with me or go back to sleep, depending on my

next move. These days Max rarely leaves my side. He is a good friend.

I swung my legs over and sat on the edge of the bed. A few deep breaths

later my heart was no longer racing, and I was ready to get up.

I start every morning with yoga. It is one of my therapies. Sometimes I

think if I don’t do the little things like yoga, running, and journaling, I will

plunge into a well of terror that will dominate me. So every morning, no

matter what, I make myself stick to my routine, as though that alone will

save me. That morning my poses were a little shaky from my nightmare, but I

made it through them. Mountain pose. Forward bend. Down dog. I could feel

myself steadying. Warrior two. Down dog. Tree pose. I finished with two sun

salutations then stood in mountain pose just breathing.

Max knows my new pattern. When my routine was finished he was ready

to go. He leaned his big body against me and gave that look dog owners

everywhere know – outside please.

I will admit I am afraid of becoming agoraphobic. It would be so easy. But I

make myself go outside. If I didn’t, I think I could live a very content and safe

life, never leaving the safety of my home. But that would mean that Pheares

won. I can’t let him win. So, every day I force myself to venture outdoors. I

stand outside and consider it a small victory in the midst of many battles. Max


I grabbed Max’s leash from the hall closet and layered on warm winter

gear. Coat, gloves, hat, boots. December in New Jersey is cold. It was so early

that it was dark outside and very still. It had already been a rough icy winter.

There were several inches of snow on the ground. I paused at my front door,

Max waited patiently on his leash beside me. A few deep breaths, and I was

able to convince myself to open the door.

My last home burned down, part of the drama I endured nine months ago

with Pheares. He burned my home and destroyed everything I owned. He

took so much from me, but at the end I was still standing. After a brief stay

in a temporary condo, courtesy of my agent, my new home is comfortably

located in a quiet development with lots of space between the houses and a big

fenced backyard for Max. The small two story home has a nice open floor plan

downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs. It backs up to trees and a lake, so it is


It feels like too much quiet sometimes, but I like it.

The only nice thing about taking Max outside in the winter is that he is as

happy to move quickly and get back inside as I am. He is not a fan of the cold.

My breath left cold puffs of fog in the air and I shifted in place to stay warm.

It was eerily quiet out, still too early for most of the world to be stirring. As I

waited for Max to finish his business, headlights flashed over my front door. A

car turned the corner onto my street. I tensed. As it rolled closer I recognized

the logo of the security company hired to patrol my neighborhood. It was one

of things that attracted me to this development. I was looking for a sense of

security, wanting to feel safe. It hasn’t worked, but I gave the security car a

wave as it slowly moved past my house. Looks like Carl. I had made a point to

know every guard that patrolled. I know everyone who is a help or a possible

threat in my fragile world.

Max finished his business, shivered from the chilly air, and whined to go

back inside. We ran toward the door. After the cold the first wave of warmth

was almost too much. I didn’t really relax until I heard the locks click. I was

glad to be out of the cold and the dark. I always breathe a little easier when I

am safely locked inside my home.

I striped off all the winter gear I had piled on and put them back in their

respective places in the hall closet.

After a shower to wash away the sweat from my nightmare and yoga, and

then a bowl of Cheerios, I felt almost ready to face the day.

I stood facing the mirror wearing a pair of yoga pants and a sports bra,

my other daily ritual. I took stock of my body and its changes. Same long light

blonde hair pulled back into a sensible ponytail, same dark blue eyes and

overbite. The differences from nine months ago are obvious. I’ve lost over

twenty-five pounds. Anything less than a hundred and twenty on my frame

is too skinny. I was too skinny. The dark circles under my eyes were almost

permanent. The biggest change though is my eyes. I used to be innocent,

innocent to murder and cruelty. I’m not anymore. My eyes now are old. The

changes were obvious. However, they were not all negative. I was strong. My

arms had muscles they never had before. I was tough, inside and out. Looking

at my reflection I repeated the same positive mantra I said every morning. You

are strong. You are a survivor. Then I finished getting dressed and drove into


About the Author:
Books are Becky Johnson’s passion and always have been. She used to get in trouble in school for reading during class!

Becky has Master’s degrees in social work and history, and for her day job she is a social worker. In her writing she tries to answer a question that is important to both social work and history:  Why? She always wants to know why people do the things they do or feel the way they feel.

When not reading or writing she enjoys yoga, cooking, and makes a pretty mean chili!

Her latest books of the Charlotte Marchall Mysteries series are Run and Stand.

For More Information

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Run-Book 1

Title: Run (1st book in the series)
Author: Becky Johnson
Publisher: Becky Johnson
Pages: 160
Genre: Mystery Suspense
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Purchase: Amazon

A decades old mystery and a deadly game of cat and mouse will change Charlotte Marshall forever.

Charlotte has a good life: friends, family, a successful career. Her perfect life is destroyed when research for a book and a connection from her past plunges her into the middle of her worst nightmare.

On the run, with no one to trust, Charlotte begins to unravel the work of a sadistic murderer. Afraid and alone, she will learn the meaning of trust and just when to run.

My Impressions:
Simply an amazing start to what is going to be an amazing series. Charlotte Marshal is strong, witty, fierce and capable. I loved reading about her and Jack. 

Action packed, mysterious, and gripping story that sucks you in and transports you into the tragic world of Charlotte and Jack and the very warped mind of Pheares and his companion. 

Easy book and series to recommend for anyone that loves a good mystery filled action and an intriguing plot.

Book Excerpt:

It’s ironic really, the chain of events that led me here, kneeling in the dirt

with a gun to my head.

My tale of woe, if I can be so bold as to call it that, started innocently

enough. It started with spelling words and dinner.


As a student I was smart but a horrible speller. (Dyslexia will do that to

you.) In order to get me through my spelling test every week, my mother, who

naturally was a school teacher, worked with me every night on my spelling

words. While I sat at the table working on my spelling, she watched the news

and made dinner. It would not be an understatement to say it was the least

favorite part of my day. I would sit at the kitchen table wanting to be outside

or really just about anywhere else, and write out my words for the week ten

times each, then in a sentence, then test myself with flashcards.

Certain, certain, certain. I am certain I do not want to be doing this.

However, however, however. However, I don’t have a choice...

“Earlier today, police in Cherry Hill responded to a call from local kids at the


Balance, balance, balance. What sentence could I use for balance...? The seal

balanced a ball on his nose. Stupid but it would work.

“...the body of an unidentified female adolescent was discovered...”

My attention was caught. Spelling words forgotten.

“...sources say the victim was raped and tortured before she was murdered.

Her body was mutilated. Police are asking that anyone...”

What? The words of the newscaster left me feeling unsettled. I knew

something bad had happened; for the first time, the world was scary. I knew

enough to put that together, but the why left me shaken. Why would someone

kill a girl?

“I don’t get it, Mom, what happened?”

Once my mom realized I was talking about the news, the TV was turned off

and I was redirected back to my spelling words. I bent back over my spelling

words while my mind whirled. I knew there was something different about this

story. The unknown girl stuck in my head.

About the Author:

Books are Becky Johnson’s passion and always have been. She used to get in trouble in school for reading during class!

Becky has Master’s degrees in social work and history, and for her day job she is a social worker. In her writing she tries to answer a question that is important to both social work and history:  Why? She always wants to know why people do the things they do or feel the way they feel.
When not reading or writing she enjoys yoga, cooking, and makes a pretty mean chili!

Her latest books of the Charlotte Marshall Mysteries series are Run and Stand.

For More Information