Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review of 'Annie Crow Knoll: Sunrise' by Gail Priest

Annie Crow Knoll-Sunrise is the story of a place where people come to restore their spirits, heal their pain and reclaim their lives.

Annie is a determined young woman who is left to run her family's property after the death of her parents. Managing fourteen summer cottages with only the help of a family friend, she struggles to survive on her own. When she meets Drew, a young college professor, Annie thinks she's finally found a love she can trust.

But years of conflict and pain destroy their bond and leave Annie alone again, unless she can find lasting peace and passion in the most unlikely arms.

In this family saga, love, loss and history twine together the people whose lives are changed by Annie's determination and the magic of her knoll nestled along the head-waters of the Chesapeake Bay.  

**My thoughts**

'Annie Crow Knoll' is one of those family sagas that leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling in your stomach as you join the main character along her journey. We first meet Annie as a headstrong nine year-old, peddling her bicycle off the end of the dock. Immediately we know that she has no fear and a mind of her own. These qualities can get her into trouble when she is a little kid, but serve her well throughout her life. She has a tenacious desire to fight for what is hers and she wants. She also has a heart of gold that softens the edge of that stubborn streak, and makes people love her more.

Annie loses her parents way too young and is thrust into a grown-up world that she isn't quite ready to undertake. Yet, she is able to do so with grace and that ever-present determination. Her clients have watched her grow up and are rooting for her. Her best friend from childhood is dedicated to her. She also has a confident mystique that is attractive to many men through her life. These men cause a rollercoaster of feelings in her life, but she is able to take what they throw at her with maturity, and without the drama that some women would display.

Annie is known as Annie Crow, because she has a pet crow that she takes everywhere with her. The crow is a creature that represents fearlessness and determination, insight and intelligence, mischief and magic. The balance of these characteristics is a perfect description of Annie, making the crow the best spirit animal to be a part of her life. Her relationship with the crow is one that haunts her and others in her community for the entire book, and helps to make her story come full circle.

The descriptions of the knoll make your feel like you are right there experiencing her oasis with her. I found myself wanting to dive into the book, to see the magic for myself. It also made me flash back to summers as a kid, when I would get a weekend away with family.

I thought this book was well-written, though the story arc was somewhat predictable. Even though you pretty much knew where it was headed, you still wanted to read on for the minute details that make this story a unique version of a common tale. You root for her success and wish her happiness in her life. When she does find her happy ending, you want to continue the story. But that is going to have to wait for the sequel.    


Gail Priest lives in New Jersey and summers in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay with her husband and their cockatiel. In addition to writing novels, plays and screenplays, she teaches and directs in a high school performing arts program. She loves theatre, reading, birding and being out in nature

Follow Gail Priest on Facebook / Blog / Literary Addicts / Goodreads


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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Crowdfunding Videos Are Often Over- and Under-Emphasized by Devin D. Thorpe

Devin D. Thorpe returns to Uplifting Reads, this time to talk to us about making videos for your Crowdfunding efforts, to help you continue to make your mark on the world.

Crowdfunding videos are an important part of any crowdfunding campaign. My new book, Crowdfunding for Social Good, explains both why the video is the most important thing you post on your crowdfunding page and why the video is not the most important part of your campaign.

The video is the most compelling way you have to connect with the crowd and share your story. You need to motivate the crowd to action by creating a narrative that explains what you hope to accomplish and what threatens it. Then you’ll want to explain how the crowd can help by supporting your campaign.

It is important for you to be authentic in your video. That means, in part, that you need to appear in your video. You want people to connect with you. Video has a unique ability to help people feel like they know you without ever meeting you. You can add power to your video by incorporating images and clips related to your cause so that the crowd not only connects with you but also with your mission.

On the other hand, it is worth noting that many other things combine to be much more important to the success of your campaign. You have to start before you start, that is you have to start raising the money before you launch your campaign. Getting bloggers and media to pay attention to your campaign is also important. Ultimately, your campaign’s success will depend more on things other than the video. Don’t skip it, but don’t waste too much time and resources preparing it.

Learn more about these and other tips for crowdfunding success in Crowdfunding for Social Good.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Review of 'Temptation (Temptation #1)' by Karen Ann Hopkins


Book 1 in the Temptation series

Your heart misleads you.

That’s what my friends and family say.

But I love Noah.

And he loves me.

We met and fell in love in the sleepy farming community of Meadowview, while we rode our horses together through the grassy fields and in those moments in each other’s arms.

It should be ROSE & NOAH forever, easy.

But it won’t be.

Because he’s Amish.

And I’m not.

**My thoughts**

I love Amish fiction. I especially love the romances involved in Amish fiction. I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one, because the description is so intriguing!

I was thrown off in the beginning, because I am used to reading Beverly Lewis. Her way of presenting the Amish and their voice is quite different from how Karen Ann Hopkins portrayed them in this book. To me, Noah often seemed very much like any typical high school guy that Rose would run into at school or in the community. Hormones were raging, causing them to take actions that are considered highly inappropriate in the Amish community, such as a lot of making out. Sometimes, the words that he used were definitely very contemporary and not at all what you would expect form an Amish teen. I was also thrown off by the lack of Pennsylvania Dutch thrown into conversations among the Amish people. However, if I was new to reading Amish fiction, and especially at the YA level, this would have made him a little easier to relate to. Once I got used to his contemporary English way of speaking, I was able to better focus on the story.

I think that Karen hit on a lot of the ideals of the Amish community, their beliefs and customs. I loved the explanations of how this community worked and felt like I learned something new about some Amish customs. While fundamentally they are the same, different groups have slightly different beliefs and customs. This community was described as being closer to where I grew up, but not where most of the novels I have read take place.

Some of Noah's ideas were tough for me to swallow. I am a fiercely independent woman and would have a hard time with a man dictating to me what I can do and whom I can see. But that is a part of his culture. What seems old-fashioned to us is completely natural for them. I could appreciate Rose's struggle with many of these. I often found myself wondering what I would do if I were in her shoes. Could I ever love someone enough to succumb to those rules?

On the other hand, Rose's English world is a lot for Noah to swallow. Women are much more independent. People are educated longer and much freer with their thoughts and actions. It's overwhelming to someone who has been relatively sheltered his whole life. He isn't prepared for life with the Englischers.

The star-crossed love between the two reminded me a bit of Romeo and Juliet. Just like that famous couple, these two fall madly in love with each other at first sight, despite being so young. It's like they were meant to be together. They don't know how to live without each other, yet have a hard time being together. They come from two totally different worlds. Their parents, friends, and families do not approve. They are extremely young to have such intense feelings, but that does happen sometimes. Trying to be together is going to require a major sacrifice on their parts. But which way of living is the right way? They can't maintain a relationship with one foot firmly planted in each world. Someone is going to have to give up his or her way of living and adapt to something completely foreign. Can two people this young be able to make such dramatic life changes in order to make this relationship work?

I'm not sure which direction I want them to go. I don't know if the answer is for Noah to give up his Amish ways and try to make it as an Englishman. I don't know if it is right for Rose to give up her family and dancing and independence to become Amish. I'm not going to tell you which path these two end up taking. This is the first book in the series, so their roller coaster ride is only just getting started. They may have to backtrack and take a different route in the next book. I can't wait to read the next book to find out where they are going, and will want to finish the series, too!

Book links


I received a complimentary ecopy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, August 12, 2013

'Crowdfunding for Social Good: Financing Your Mark on the World' by Devin D. Thorpe Book Tour Blast

Crowdfunding for Social Good: Financing Your Mark on the World

by Devin D. Thorpe Over the last year of writing my Forbes blog, I have had the opportunity to really dig deeply into the world of crowdfunding. I’ve just completed my first draft of my new book, Crowdfunding for Social Good: Financing Your Mark on the World.

The book is a guide to successful crowdfunding for people who want to change the world.

The book is not a sequel to my book, Your Mark On The World, but it is written in the same spirit. I’ve studied a dozens of successful crowdfunding campaigns, interviewing the people behind them to learn their secrets for success.

Devin's Book, Your Mark on the World, was downloaded over 75,000 times and reached the #19 spot on Amazon's free book list--among all free books. It remains on the top 50 free nonfiction books at Amazon.

Available in Paperback

About Devin:

Devin D. Thorpe thinks he is the luckiest person alive. After being “let go” from the best job he’d ever had—as the Chief Financial Officer of the multinational food and beverage company MonaVie—he and his wife ended up living in China for a year where he wrote Your Mark On The World and embarked on the career he’d always wanted yet hadn’t dared dream.

Now, as an author, a popular guest speaker and Forbes contributor, Devin is devoted full time to championing social good. His current life isn’t much like his past.

As an entrepreneur, Devin ran—at separate times—a boutique investment banking firm and a small mortgage company. He served as the Treasurer for the multinational vitamin manufacturer USANA Health Sciences years before becoming CFO for MonaVie. Over his career he led or advised on the successful completion of $500 million in transactions. Devin squeezed in two brief stints in government, including two years working for Jake Garn on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee Staff and another year working for an independent state agency called USTAR, where he helped foster technology entrepreneurship during Governor Jon Huntsman’s administration.

Devin is proud to have graduated from the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business, which recognized him as a Distinguished Alum in 2006. He also earned an MBA at Cornell University where he ran the student newspaper, Cornell Business.

Today, Devin channels the idealism of his youth with the loving support of his wife, Gail. Their son Dayton is a PhD candidate in Physics at UC Berkeley (and Devin rarely misses an opportunity to mention that).

Connect with Devin:
Twitter: @devindthorpe
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Friday, August 9, 2013

'This Reckless & Unreasonable Love' by Kayley J. Higgins

This Reckless & Unreasonable Love
By- Kayley J. Higgins
Published By- SideStreet Cookie Publishing

Esmeralda Grant, or Esme as her friends know her, has spent all of high school waiting to get out of her house and live with her boyfriend Peter Campbell. Away from her drug addict mother and her abusive alcoholic boyfriend. Away from the hopeless life she’s lead. Then her world suddenly changes.  

Esme and Peter go see a local band play one Saturday night and the last song they play changes her. The band sings about Someone Who loves her, no matter what she’s done, and Who will always love her.  

As she learns more, she changes and so does everything and everyone around her. She loses friends and gains new ones. She begins to really care for herself and the life growing in her body. Her life is turned upside down but the new Constant in her life pushes her to become the woman she was designed to be. She holds on to the only thing pulling her out of the darkness, into the light: This Reckless & Unreasonable Love.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

'Popsicle Goes to Church' by Cristal Baker

Hello, my name is Cristal Baker, with faith forming an important part of my life, writing a story about God in a way that reaches little ones is the paramount reason behind the book. I wanted to tell children a story about God in a way they can relate to. I have written, 'Popsicle Goes To Church', a Christian children's picture book which teaches young children about God and Faith PRINCIPLES in a cute and fun way, that will captivate their imagination and have them asking, “Can we Go to Church Like Popsicle?”

It is the delightfully illustrated story of a puppy and a five-year-old girl as they both overcome the illness by faith.

Book links