Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Gift Box Reviews

You might remember that a while ago I ordered a few Gift Box Subscriptions, as testers for Grand Prizes in author events. Now that they've arrived, I can better tell which are worth the money and what gifts are worth paying more for.

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My Geek Box

For this one, you can buy back-dated boxes through PayPal, but not the subscription boxes. For that you'll need a credit card. Since I don't like paying for subscriptions through cards, I bought the back dated box, from Christmas 2015.

Inside the Secret Santa Box: Ghost Rider Keyring, Rubiks Cube Coasters, Sonic Stationery Set, Villains in a Can sound horn, Mobile Phone Joystick. There was also a Transformers mug, but I gave that to my dad.


Cost: £12.10 (includes postage)

Other cost options are:
£17.99 for an auto-renew monthly subscription
£12.99 Breaking Bad Box
£22.99 Star Wars Box
£8.99 Secret Santa Box
£12.99 Mystery Past Box
£12.99 Afterlife Box
£19.99 Welcome Box

Review:
This box would be great if you had kids. I mean, each box is relatively cheap, especially compared to Geek Fuel. And you can choose between 5-7 items in your box, which can alter the price. However, the things I received were all YA rated and aimed at kids - stationary etc.
I do like that you can choose extra one-off boxes, with a set theme. This suits me better than the mystery boxes.

★★☆☆


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Prudence and the Crow

Prudence and Crow is different. As a book-box website, you can get an awesome set of gifts: a vintage paperback, a book bag, bookplates, a bookmark and surprises. All in a handy box that will come through your letterbox. And they accept PayPal, which I love. You can buy a one off box or a subscription.

This was what came inside mine:


Cost: £12 for a one off purchase.

These are other cost options:
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Review:


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I also ordered from : Geek Fuel : which wasn't included in my previous list.

Geek Fuel

Geek Fuel is a little like My Geek Box, but with a difference. All subscription boxes are available through PayPal. But, because it's dollars, it's trickier to explain, cost wise.

Here's what was inside my box (February's Surprise Box): Retro Magazine x2, Chimichangas T-Shirt, Firefly Winter Hat, Deadpool keyring, GeekFuel Magnet, Candies in a Tub, Free Phone Game, Geek Fuel magazine.


Cost: $29.90 / £21.32

Other Costs:

Review:
Although coming from the US, the box didn't take much more than one or two weeks more to arrive, which was great. I also think the box is more "adult" orientated than My Geek Box, which supplied quite childish items.
For me, the items in this box were more recent and well worth the money.

★★★☆


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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Book Recommendation: Dragons in our Midst, by Bryan Davis

Dragons in Our Midst series, by Bryan Davis

Book 1 – Raising Dragons

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Blurb

A boy learns of his dragon past; a girl has known hers for years. They combine their faith, courage, and love to overcome an evil slayer who seeks to bring an end to dragon heritage, forever.

The kids at school call Billy "Dragon Breath" for good reason. His breath is bad! It isn't the normal, morning-mouth bad; it's the hot-as-fire, "don't-you-dare-get-near-me" bad. Trouble erupts when his hot breath sets off the fire sprinklers in the boys' restroom in school, and his parents learn that they've kept their secret for too long.

Billy finally discovers the secret. His father was once a dragon! Now that's a piece of news a guy doesn't deal with every day! Billy feels betrayed, alien, lost. When the dragon slayer traps him on a cold mountaintop in West Virginia, Billy learns to battle with weapons of steel and spirit while relying on a power he doesn't understand, a power that helps him learn to trust again.

Bonnie, an orphan, tries to find a home, someone to love her, even though she feels like a freak because of a body feature that she calls a deformity. But this unusual feature becomes a life-saving attribute as she discovers that her love for others and her faith in a creator hold the answers she's looking for.

Buy Links

AmazonUSA         Amazon UK            Barnes and Noble         Kobo
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Book 2 – The Candlestone

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Blurb

The first book, Raising Dragons, plunged two teenagers, Billy Bannister and Bonnie Silver, into mind-boggling mysteries, life or death pursuits, and deadly sword-to-sword battles.    In The Candlestone, a mysterious book leads Billy into mortal combat with a powerful dragon slayer. Separated from his friends and finding his dragon traits useless against this enemy, he has to rely on new weapons, a sword and shield he cannot even see.    A scientist lures Bonnie to his laboratory with amazing news—her mother is still alive! And he should know; he’s her father. He has learned the secret of long life—dragon blood, and he wants Bonnie to help him with his experiments. But first he must send her to retrieve her mother from the candlestone, that strange, paralyzing gem that absorbs light and with it the strength of dragons and their offspring.    The candlestone is also a prison that imprisons people who have been transformed into light energy by Excalibur, King Arthur’s great sword. When Bonnie enters the stone, she learns that many disembodied souls have fallen prey to the gem’s powers, but no one has ever escaped. Her only hope is for Billy to overcome the dragon slayer and find a way into the candlestone, and, more importantly, a way out.    Billy and Bonnie face their greatest fears, and they learn to use their strengths, both innate and newly found, as they battle powerful enemies, ancient fiends from times long past, and the horrors of the blackest of prisons, captivity with the walls of unearthly darkness, the crystalline tomb of the candlestone.

Buy Links

AmazonUSA         Amazon UK            Barnes and Noble         Kobo
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Book 3 – Circles of Seven

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Blurb

The first book, Raising Dragons, plunged two teenagers, Billy Bannister and Bonnie Silver, into mind-boggling mysteries, life or death pursuits, and deadly sword-to-sword battles.
In the second book, The Candlestone, Billy is led into mortal combat with a powerful dragon slayer. Separated from his friends and finding his dragon traits useless against this enemy, he has to rely on new weapons, a sword and shield he cannot even see.
    Now in Circles of Seven, using their dragon traits and the wisdom they gained through their earlier adventures, Billy and Bonnie explore a multi-dimensional domain of evil. In this realm, they navigate seven perilous worlds, each one manifested in a circular plane of existence that leads them deeper into the domain of a powerful enemy.
The seventh circle holds a group of prisoners, captives of the evil mistress of the circles, and Billy has to find a way to set them free and give them new life. When tragedy strikes along the way, Billy has to face the most difficult decision of his life, whether to forsake Bonnie to rescue the prisoners or to find a way to save her, his best friend in the world.
Filled with action, danger, and suspense, Circles of Seven is sure to keep readers in their seats, following Billy and Bonnie to the exciting conclusion.

Buy Links

AmazonUSA         Amazon UK            Barnes and Noble         Kobo
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Book 4 – Tears of a Dragon

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Blurb

Victory in the Circles of Seven came at a great cost to Billy Bannister and Bonnie Silver. A vicious evil was unleashed on the earth that only the dragons can defeat. With Billy’s father, the great Clefspeare, missing, Billy and Bonnie must lead the dragons into war against the Watchers—demonic beings as old as the earth itself. Masters at the art of deception, the Watchers use the deadliest of weapons against mankind. A remnant of wise humans, the friends of the dragons, unite in the struggle against the Watchers. With heart-stopping action, the final battle between dragons and their enemies comes to a climax. But in order to win the war, at least one of the dragons must die.
    As the story ends, Billy and Bonnie are faced with the greatest decision of their lives. Will they keep the dragon traits that have cost them so much danger and heartache, or will they turn to normal human life and end the slayers’ lust for their blood forever.

Buy Links

AmazonUSA         Amazon UK            Barnes and Noble         Kobo

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Bryan Davis

Bryan Davis

Author Bio:

Bryan Davis is the author of the best-selling Dragons in Our Midst and Oracles of Fire series, contemporary/fantasy blends for young people. He has two books coming out this spring, Last of the Nephilim, the third book in the Oracles of Fire series, and Beyond the Reflection’s Edge, the first book in the new Echoes from the Edge series.

Bryan is also the author of several other works including The Image of a Father (AMG) and Spit and Polish for Husbands (AMG), and four books in the Arch Books series: The Story of Jesus’ Baptism and Temptation, The Day Jesus Died, The Story of the Empty Tomb, and Jacob’s Dream. Bryan lives in Western Tennessee, Florida with his wife, Susie, and their children. Bryan and Susie have homeschooled their four girls and three boys. 

Bryan was born in 1958 and grew up in the eastern U.S. From the time he taught himself how to read before school age, through his seminary years and beyond, he has demonstrated a passion for the written word, reading and writing in many disciplines and genres, including fantasy, theology, fiction, devotionals, poetry, and humor.

Author Links:

Website          Twitter          Facebook         Goodreads

Friday, March 18, 2016

Book Blast: The Twistedly True Guardian Tale, by Stephanie Greenhalgh


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Blurb

In the small town of Woodsville, Ruby Hood is settling into her role as Guardian of the Wood. In the blink of an eye, her monumental high school graduation comes and goes without her attendance. There are too many other things on her mind.Her mom, Christine Wood, has just returned from caring for Ruby's ill grandmother. Kent Wolf finally gets released from the hospital and Kayla Wolf is desperate to make amends, while Dylan Hunter works to hone his Huntsman skills. Everything seems like it’s going to work itself out, until Ivy Snow shows up on Ruby’s front porch with an RV filled with seven dwarfs.
As a new darkness casts a shadow over Woodsville, Ruby is unsure where to turn when turmoil erupts in the Wood, and finds herself aligned with an unusual cast of characters. As Guardian of the Wood, Ruby worries that she can’t save everyone, but what if she is the one who needs saving?

This is the second book in the Ruby Hood Series by Stephanie Greenhalgh.


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Excerpt

Back at the cabin…through the mirror…
Ruby gasped when the mirror gurgled and bubbled, then a smoky fog filled the large oval. Stepping in closer, she began to make out an outline beneath the haze. When the outline became clear, she stifled a scream with her hand. Her cabin shimmied into view, giving her a bird’s eye view of her own living room. Knox, Dylan, Liam, and Jared were all sitting around the coffee table, poring over papers. Books littered the floor and a map hung on the wall.
A soft knock on the door startled Ruby, even standing in her old room at her mother’s house. Who could be knocking on her door today? Right now?
Ruby watched as Dylan jumped up. He peered through the window, shrugged and flung the door wide open. A little old woman stood on the porch, covered in a dark gray cloak, carrying a basket of ruby red apples.
When she looked up to meet Dylan’s gaze, his eyes darkened. Horror struck as he realized the danger a minute too late. Ruby had no choice but to watch the scene unfold before her eyes.

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Buy links


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Youtube


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Promo Rules on FB - How to Make Me Skip Your Post

Maybe it's just me, but when I see a post about books on Facebook, there are a few NO-NO's that will turn me away, before I even see what the book is called, who its by or what it's about.
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1 - these fancy schmansy posts with hearts and flowers for about four lines, e.g.
*´¨)
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•`  
or this ⭐.•°°•.✫🎶 ღ˚ •。* 🎶.•°˚ ˚
And, no, I'm not joking. I've seen these exact things. To me, it's an eyesore and I skip past them, because it makes my head spin.

2 - OMG! OMG! Like, I just read the most awesome book!
No, you didn't. You were probably gifted the book, asked to post about it or whatever. And, if not, then I'm assuming you were. Why? Because people don't start every single post with OMG! ten million times. And yes, I've seen this too. There's one book blog I used to follow that has this exact problem for EVERY post, about a book review. Now I just skip reading it.

3 - *crickets* Literally, no words.
A sales poster, with no words, no "hey, I thought I'd just drop this by" or "this is my latest book, I'd love for you to check it out" etc. Nothing. Not a word. The same goes for teasers. Unless it's Teaser Tuesday, then I like to see text along with my posters, to get an idea of where I can buy the book, who the author is and what it's about.

4 - When I see one book promo'd in 15 groups a day, often more than 3 times in each group, by a mass-market street team that don't communicate with each other. If you have a street team, make sure you delegate the groups they can post to and don't let them spam groups with similar/same posts about your book. It makes you look like a spammer, even though you're probably not.
And, again, I've seen this happen. Once, it was 5 posts by 5 different people, who all had the same poster, text and were very clearly on the Author's street team. Now, like I said, it may not be the author's fault, but if you want to have a successful street team, pay attention to what they're posting and - if you see a problem - as them to remove the duplicate posts. Not only is it fair to the other authors who are being hidden by posts for your books, but it's also fair to the admins who HATE repeat posts like that with a passion. Not doing anything about it, when you know it's a problem, is a sure fire way of being banned from that group or reported for spam.

5 - DO NOT beg and plead for people to buy your book to get it into the #1 spot. Especially DO NOT say that you deserve it. DO NOT let your street team use this pleading instead, insisting that you "worked hard for it" or "deserve it". Guess what? So do a lot of other people.
Fun fact - when my last book came out, A Royal Craving, I was so close to getting a #1 spot in Amazon DE and Amazon CA, until another author's street team flooded FB with this kind of desperate post - "They really deserve that #1 spot". And, guess what? They got it. At my expense. Now, I'm not one to blame the author, but it was clear they knew about it (and no, I'm not naming names), and they did nothing. In fact, they shared the posts, creating even more of a problem.
My book was my first to ever really get me recognised in the M/M community, to get my work talked about between readers and it was a huge thing for me, to get so close to a #1 spot with it. This other author is huge and has has that little orange flag a dozen times. I had it once, for 3 minutes, a long time ago. It had taken me 4 days to get my book properly out there and noticed, so close to that #1 spot. It took this author 1 day of blast posting to get it.
I'm not the only person who had a book out at that time, so this isn't just about me. It's about being fair to the other authors that you maybe don't know exist. It's also being fair to your readers, some of who will instantly shut off when they see a hundred and one posts about the same book. So be smart and be fair. You're not the only author out there.

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Personally, I can tolerate 1, 2 and 3, by simply ignoring them. But 4 and 5 made me sad, disappointed and angry. 4 and 5 are the signs of an author who doesn't care about their readers or their fellow writers. This is a tough business as it is, but if you want to get noticed, don't step on those that might have helped you get to the top and certainly don't expect them to help you, after stepping on them.
I said it before, sometimes the street teams get over eager. This is why I don't have one, because you can't control them like you can control your own promotions. If I'm the only one promoting my books, I know where, when and how I'm representing myself. I also know that I'm not spamming anyone or using emotional blackmail to get my books out there.
I want to do this the right way. To let the readers decide who deserves the limelight and who they'll be recommending to their friends. This author and street team that flooded FB with a desperate bid for #1 got what they wanted. They also had 3 members and the author being reported by group admins for spam. The author was blocked from promoting their own work for a week, which - sadly - only wound their street team into a whirlwind of outrage and anger, sharing the book in even more places, with less care for other people.
But if you spam groups, readers and fill people's timelines on FB with your own work, so that nothing else is seen, expect to pay the consequences. Expect readers to get fed up of seeing your book cover everywhere and having your teasers thrown in their faces.
Be smart and be fair. I can't say it enough. When you're promoting your book, remember that there are a million other people out there, working as hard as you are, as deserving as you are, all fighting for the right to be seen. Sure, they're competition, but this business is hard enough without us turning on each other.
Stand together.
Support each other.
Share other author's, when you can.
Recommend great books you've read.
Be sparing with your promo's.

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They say it takes 8 times for someone to remember something. So 8 mentions of your book will probably get your stuck in someone's head. That doesn't mean it all has to be done in one place, on one day. Spread it out, over a week or a fortnight, share in 1-2 groups at a time. Or, better yet, offer up free copies to eager readers and let THEM be the ones to show off your work.
Whatever you decide to do, think before you act. Ask for help. Help others. Do whatever you think is right.
Just remember that we're all in this together.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Novel Related Etsy Gifts

Etsy is a brilliant place to get gifts. No matter what you're looking for, you'll usually find it there, in some form or another. Some of the best gifts are the book related ones. You can get everything from Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter to Jane Austen and so much more.

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Etsy 1

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Etsy 2

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Etsy 3

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etsy 4

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Etsy 5

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Etsy 12

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Book Exposure: Crystal the Christmas Angel, by Theresa Oliver




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All of the angels in Heaven are preparing for a big event, and Crystal, a little angel, wants to be a part of it. But the more she tries, the more the angels tell her that she is just too little. That is, until God himself gives her the biggest, most important task of all ... going with the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, and bringing God's greatest gift to the world. But can Crystal do what God asks? Journey with Crystal as she discovers that God sometimes chooses the most unlikely for the greatest tasks. Crystal also discovers that you are never too little to do great things. You just need to believe and never give up.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Gift Box Subscriptions

Whether you're just a fan of books or looking for an unusual gift for a friend, there are some awesome sites available that will send a box of book/geek goodness to your door. Here are some of my favourite:

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My Geek Box

For this one, you can buy back-dated boxes through PayPal, but not the subscription boxes. For that you'll need a credit card. Inside each box, you'll get a variety of geek related items. Here are a few already on offer:

 
(This was February's offer)

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(Limited Edition 'Breaking Bad' Box)

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Prudence and the Crow

Prudence and Crow is different. As a book-box website, you can get an awesome set of gifts: a vintage paperback, a book bag, bookplates, a bookmark and surprises. All in a handy box that will come through your letterbox. And they accept PayPal, which I love. You can buy a one off box or a subscription.

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Lit-Cube

This box of goodies is a surprise in a big box. You'll get a "theme" of books and book related swag in one shipment, but you'll never know what's inside until you open it. They don't do genre themes, only themes like shown below. You can buy a one month box or a subscription. At the moment, it's only available in the US and Canada, but I have it on good authority that they're going to roll out International shipping this year, hopefully by April.


(the March box, which you would order in February)

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Author Colouring Books - Part 1

All my life, I've been a creative person. Not just with writing, but reading and art. I used to love doing Paint by Numbers, which was a great activity to help me with my nerve damage. My hands shook quite a lot, when it got worse, so that had to stop. So I turned to jigsaw puzzles - not tiny little ones, but big massive 1000 or more pieces that took weeks. But, then my nerve damage for bad again and I'd end up in a mess or with unfinished pieces - or a mountain of finished jigsaw that had nowhere to go.

A great new thing that is compact, easy to use and can be carried around with you, are Adult Colouring Books. All the rage now, it's easier to find something that appeals to you. From movie related - Harry Potter etc - to elaborate designs or animals, there's a little something for everyone.

Here are a few that I really like:

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Millie Marotta's Wild Savannah


The Book People        Amazon UK           Amazon US              WHSmith              Barnes & Noble

£3.99                          £3.99                           $10.41                         £6.99                         $10.46

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Millie Marotta's Animal Kingdom Deluxe Edition

Millie Marotta's Animal Kingdom Deluxe Edition - Hardback - 9781849943291 - Millie Marotta

The Book People       Amazon UK          Amazon US              WHSmith             Barnes & Noble

£12.49                          £12.49                           $24.24                         £16.25                         $24.11

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Art for Mindfulness: Winter Wonderland

Art for Mindfulness: Winter Wonderland - Paperback - 9780007949212 - Lizzie Harper

The Book People       Amazon UK          Amazon US             WHSmith              Barnes & Noble
£3.99                          £6.94                           $27.99                         £6.99                         Unknown
(for 2 book set)

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Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest - Paperback - 9781780674872 - Johanna Basford

The Book People       Amazon UK          Amazon US              WHSmith              Barnes & Noble

£7.96                          £4.99                           $9.78                         £6.97                         $9.95

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The Official Harry Potter Colouring Book

The Official Harry Potter Colouring Book - Paperback - 9781783705481 - Warner Brothers

The Book People        Amazon UK           Amazon US              WHSmith              Barnes & Noble

£4.99                          £4.99                           $9.59                         £6.99                         $9.78

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Prices correct as of writing: 6th February, 2016