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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Bone Up on Puccini and Have an Italian Crime Romp

Book title: Murder in Hand
Series: Alicia Allen Investigates Book Three
Author: Celia Conrad
Website: http://www.aliciaalleninvestigates.com
Where to buy the book: Amazon http://tinyurl.com/njd3bwl
Genre: Crime fiction
ISBN: 9780954623340 (Paperback) Also available in all ebook formats
Publisher: Barcham Books

Reviewed by  Marlan Warren originally for
“Dancing in the Experience Lane” Open Salon Blog

 

"Murder in Hand": Italian Probate, Puccini, & Dead Lawyers


 


Lawyers aren't the most popular people, Miss Allen..."

—Murder in Hand

 
     In her cerebral legal mystery, Murder in Hand, Celia Conrad pulls her feisty London Probate/Estate lawyer heroine, Alicia Allen, deeper into the quagmire world of unscrupulous attorneys, the unfortunates who work with them and their unsuspecting innocent victims. In this third book of the Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy (AAI), Conrad hits her stride as a bona fide puzzle master in the tradition of Agatha Christie. The easy-to-follow plot line keeps readers guessing and the pages turning, while great pleasures lie in Conrad's refusal--or perhaps inability--to write for the lowest common denominator of brain power. Instead she aims for the highest. 

     If you want to roll with Alicia Allen...better bring your A-Game (and some knowledge of the Classics wouldn't hurt).

      Murder in Hand could be enjoyed as a stand-alone book if readers don't mind not knowing the history between the justice-loving attorney Alicia Allen and her adoring cohort Alex Waterford; her investigator friends, Jo and Will; or her cultured elderly neighbor Dorothy. 

     The story takes off when Alicia's Italian American client Fabio confides that he believes someone is trying to kill him. Fabio's family ties span New York, England and Italy/Sicily; and when his sister is killed in the midst of doing some family estate research in Italy, Alicia embarks on a quest to find the killer. 


"I can't leave you alone for a few hours without somebody else being murdered."—Murder in Hand 

 
      As in Books 1 and 2 (A Model Murder and Wilful Murder), Alicia leaps where proverbial angels fear to tread, resisting Alex's concerns for her safety. and soon he is helping her sort the puzzle pieces as the body count goes up (with the neat twist that as they hone in, it is lawyers or their assistants who are now dropping dead). Their relationship has matured into an easy partnership built on love, trust and the potato chip that rhymes with "Tingles." It provides a soothing stability that contrasts with the dark, random world of mayhem they are navigating together.   

 

"I generally advise my clients to make both a British and an Italian Will."Murder in Hand 

 

     All the AAI books turn on classical theater or operatic references or clues. Murder in Hand pays homage to Gianni Schicchi (which Puccini based on Danté's Divine Comedy), a comic opera about a dead man's Will gone wrong, schemers and estate swindlers. And it won't be spoiling too much to divulge that key action takes place in the Italian town that hosts an annual Puccini festival.

     The book's title is a double entendre. British police refer to an investigation in progress as "in hand." And as for the other meaning...well, you'll just have to read the book, won't you?

      (Hint: Bone up on your Puccini!)

 




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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Outdoors, Pennsylvania Make Book a Winner for Goodreads Reviewer

Title: A Season on the Allegheny
Author: Robert T. Hilliard
Author's Website: http://www.facebook.com/ASeasonontheAllegheny
Genre: Nonfiction, Outdoors
ISBN-13: 978-1475201161
Available on Amazon

Reviewer Name: Diane (Goodreads Reviewer)
Reviewer's Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


Even though I'm not a hunter, and I've never been to the Allegheny National Forest, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. OK, part of it is chauvinism: I'm a Pennsylvanian, and the author makes clear the uniqueness of this chunk of Pennsylvania, which makes me proud. I'm also a big fan of public ownership of wilderness lands, having spent many happy vacations camping, hiking, kayaking and canoeing in national and state parks. The merits of the book itself, though, are what I found most appealing. Although much of it is the story of a nine-month season of hunting in the ANF, the author weaves in a great deal of information about the forest, its history, its current uses (recreational and commercial), disputes, and stories of other hunters, both those he hunts with in this season and some from history. 

For me it was also a very intriguing look at the interrelationships between hunters, the damage caused by over-large deer populations, and the ability of the forest to maintain itself, as well as glimpses of the science behind the Forest Service's interventions and attempts to strengthen the health of the forests, rivers, marshlands, etc. It gave me greater respect for hunters, and a compelling desire to spend some time in the Forest, myself. This one's a keeper!

 
About the Author:
Robert Hilliard has written numerous feature articles for magazines such as Upland Almanac, Pennsylvania Wildlife, Pittsburgh History Magazine, ESPNOutdoors.com, Ohio Game and Fish, and Pennsylvania Game and Fish. Hilliard was also a contributing author for the 2000 book Rivers of Destiny.
 

You can follow Rob on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ASeasonontheAllegheny , Google+ at plus.google.com/+RobertHilliard , or on Twitter @RobHilliard_66


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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Creative Stock Advice Rated "A Keeper"

Title: Dual Momentum InvestingSubtitle: An Innovative Strategy for Higher Returns with Lower Risk
Author: Gary Antonacci
Author website: http://www.gary-antonacci.com
Nonfiction: Investing>Stocks
ISBN 10: 0071849440
ISBN 13: 978-0071849449
Book publisher: McGraw-Hill

Reviewed by Brenda Jubin for originally for Reading the Markets blog

In 2012 Gary Antonacci won the Wagner Award for his paper “Risk Premia Harvesting Through Dual Momentum”; the year before he was the runner-up with “Optimal Momentum Investing.” Now, with Dual Momentum Investing (McGraw-Hill) he has given the investing world a first-rate book-length analysis of the two kinds of momentum and how to combine them to beat the market.

For those who think momentum investing is “so 90’s,” Wesley Gray, coauthor of Quantitative Value, sets them straight. In his laudatory preface to the book he quotes Eugene Fama, who, despite the apparent challenge to his efficient market hypothesis, admitted that “momentum is pervasive.” But why is it pervasive, and how can investors capture the momentum anomaly?

Antonacci focuses on the second question but does address the first in a short chapter “Rational and Not-So-Rational Explanations of Momentum.” Let me start there. The rational explanation for why momentum works is that “high momentum profits are compensation for assuming greater amounts of risk.” The “not-so-rational” explanation is that “investors behave unexpectedly and irrationally in systematic and predictable ways.” (p. 36) In a nutshell, “herding/anchoring/ confirmation bias and the disposition effect complement each other and can lead to a unified, behaviorally based concept of momentum-inducing behavior.” (p. 43) If behavioral finance is more or less correct, “momentum lets us profit from human behavioral biases instead of being subject to them in adverse ways.” (p. 44)

All well and good, the reader might say. But we are all familiar with the adage that the trend is your friend--until it ends. How can the investor profit from momentum instead of being swept away by it?

Antonacci has thoroughly researched this question. Most important, he distinguishes between relative and absolute momentum. Relative strength “compares an asset to its peers in order to predict future performance. In academic research, relative momentum is often the same as cross-sectional momentum, which involves sectioning a universe of individual assets into equal segments and comparing the performance of the strongest segments (‘winners’) to the performance of the weakest (‘losers’).” By contrast, when viewed on an absolute or longitudinal basis, “an asset’s own past predicts its future.” (p. 84) Absolute momentum is “a bet on the continuing serial correlation of returns, or, in cowboy terms, absolute momentum says, ‘A horse is easiest to ride in the direction it’s already going.’” (p. 85)

The major weakness of relative momentum investing is that “relative strength does little to reduce downside exposure. Relative momentum may even increase downside volatility.” (p. 84) Absolute momentum, by contrast, not only provides greater downside portfolio protection than relative momentum; it even provides more downside protection than low volatility portfolios do “while preserving more upside market potential. It can also do this without the tracking error, sector concentration, and high turnover issues associated with low volatility portfolios.” (p. 88)

Antonacci’s recommendation is a deceptively simple one: “use absolute and relative together in order to gain the advantages of both. The way we do that is by first using relative momentum to select the best-performing asset over the preceding 12 months. We then apply absolute momentum as a trend-following filter by seeing if the excess return of our selected asset has been positive or negative over the preceding year. If it has been positive, that means its trend is up and we proceed to use that asset. If our asset’s excess return over the past year has been negative, then its trend is down and we invest instead in short- to intermediate-term fixed-income instruments until the trend turns positive.” (p. 89)

This is a dynamic approach to asset allocation, using only stocks and bonds for reasons that the author explains. The model (Global Equity Momentum--GEM) switches between the S&P 500 and the ACWI ex-U.S. based on relative strength momentum and uses aggregate bonds as a safe haven during bear markets based on absolute momentum signals taken from the S&P 500.

Between 1974 and 2013 GEM had an annual return of 17.43%, which soundly trumped relative momentum (14.41%), absolute momentum (12.66%), ACWI (8.85%) and ACWI + AGG (8.59%). Its annual Sharpe ratio was 0.87, in contrast to 0.52, 0.57, 0.22, and 0.28. And its maximum drawdown was 22.72%, as opposed to 53.06%, 23.76%, 60.21%, and 45.74%. “GEM benefited from absolute momentum in 1982, 2001, and 2009, when relative momentum offered no advantage over the market. On the other hand, GEM benefited most from relative momentum in 1986 through 1988 and 2004 through 2007 when stocks were strong and absolute momentum provided no advantage over the market.” (p. 105)

Although GEM is a simple long-term model, it is powerful. Antonacci’s extensive research and his clear-headed thinking have led to a book that every investor should read. The academically oriented reader will be grateful for his occasional excursions into the weeds, his carefully laid-out data, and his lengthy bibliography. The practically oriented investor will find a road map for moving ahead and staying out of really big trouble. And those who enjoy an infusion of humor will laugh at his mini-essay “All Aboard!” that wraps up the main text of book. This one’s a keeper!
MORE ON THE AUTHOR
Gary Antonacci is a portfolio management consultant and award-winning writer. Learn more at  http://optimalmomentum.com


 
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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Barbara Venkataraman Leaves You Smiling

“A Trip to the Hardware Store & Other Calamities”
 By Barbara Venkataraman

Genre: Humor
ASIN: B00IO94GAY
Author's blog: www.barbaravenkataraman.blogspot.com
Published on Amazon
Reviewed with five stars

Reviewed by Brad Teare originally for Amazon


This is a collection of humorous stories akin to Erma Bombeck to which the author will be oft compared. Some of the stories were laugh-out-loud funny. I especially enjoyed Lazybones and Gadget. Writing comedy is really hard and I take my hat off to any author who can do it well. I listened to the Audible book audio and I really liked the narrator. Her voice is similar to Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars). Her voice has a young, perky timbre that is easy to listen to and apropos for humorous writing.

The only reason I deduct a star is I didn't think the first two stories were the best and I felt the collection was marred by them being first. It's a slight gripe I know but if I were editor I would have started with Lazybones which was very insightful as well as funny. But that bit about being a waitress and the customer wanting the omelet pie (I don't want to spoil anything) was hilarious. I think I will add a star just for that episode alone. So five stars it is!

 
 
ABOUT THE BOOK
 
Winner of the "Indie Book of the Day" award and Honorable Mention for nonfiction humor in the "Readers' Favorite" Contest. At 8,000 words, this collection of humorous essays explores such quirky topics as: disastrous home repairs, ("A Trip to the Hardware Store"), an unfortunate dinner party ("Dinner is Served"), the truth about lazy people ("Lazy Bones"), the weird life of a debt collector ("Your Account is Past Due") and obsessions with gadgets ("Gadget Girl"). Other essays examine how surreal the aging process is ("Where Did the Time Go?"), why you shouldn't judge a person by their job ("Beyond Belief"), and how to complicate simple transactions ("High Finance"). Like the author's first work, "I'm Not Talking About You, Of Course...," these essays will give your spirit a lift and leave you smiling.


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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New Fantasy Features New World Mythologies

Title: The Obsidian Mirror
Author: K.D. Keenan
Authors website: http://theobsidianmirror.net/
Genre: Urban fantasy
ISBN: 978-1-940820-16-3
Name of reviewer: Linda M. Duyanovich

Publisher: AEC Stellar Publishing
Reviewer's rating: 5 stars
Purchase on Amazon



Format: Paperback
“The Obsidian Mirror” is an urban fantasy based on New World mythologies and legends. It’s an action-packed page-turner, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are plenty of tense moments and some really evil bad guys, but it’s all enlivened by the author’s ability to weave humor throughout the drama.
I enjoyed the well-rounded characters—especially Fred, who’s a mannegishi (sort of a Native American leprechaun). Fred’s a greedy, irresponsible little thief, but you’ll wind up loving his brand of goofy innocence. Chaco, another supernatural character, is another of my favorites. Chaco is kind of a lech, but he’s so cheerful and good-natured that he never offends.
The action mostly takes place in modern-day Silicon Valley, and at the heart of the story is how an evil Aztec/Mayan god takes advantage of modern technology to execute his dark plans. For those familiar with Silicon Valley or Northern California, you will recognize the locale and the culture of the Valley. If you aren’t familiar with this area, take my word for it—the local color is dead-on accurate.
There’s a friendship that forms among three secondary female characters that I particularly enjoyed. None of the three are acquainted before the story begins, but as it unfolds, they form a sort of sisterhood that I found very appealing. I found myself believing in their role in the story and cheering them on.
I truly enjoyed reading this book. It has basically everything I love in a story: characters I care about, action, drama and humor, all tied up with creative storytelling that has enough unexpected twists and turns to keep me interested—and make me genuinely sorry when the story ends. I hope there’s a sequel."


  


MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
You can reach K.D. Keenan at kdkeenan@theobsidianmirror.net and learn more about her at:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1sA84Iv
Website & Blog: http://bit.ly/Obsid
Facebook: http://bit.ly/fbObsid
Twitter: @silverbough
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22039676-the-obsidian-mirror
Noveltunity: http://www.noveltunity.com/profile/Mannegishi
Google+: Google.com/+KathyKeenan
 
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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Santa's List for a Better Writing Career?


Midwest Review’s Top Books for Writers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In an article in his newsletter, Jim Cox, founding guru of the Midwest Review, included his suggested titles for writers and I'm flattered (and glad) to be one of them.  At this season I think of it as his gift list for writers. Just think! A holiday gift that could lead to a better writing career in 2015.
Cox said, "There are a lot of excellent how to instruction manuals and guides available to the novice publisher and the newly self-published author on what has been termed 'guerilla marketing' strategies offering a wealth of tips, tricks, techniques, and strategies for those of limited financial means. You will find them reviewed and listed at:


 
"There you will find such informative and "every author/publisher should read this" titles like:

"1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer
52 Ways To Sell More Books! by Penny C. Sansevieri
The Author's Guide To Publishing And Marketing by Tim Ward & John Hunt
Book Marketing De-Mystified by Bruce Batchelor
Book Promotion Made Easy by Eric Gelb
Brilliant PR by Cathy Bussey
The Complete Guide To Book Publicity by Jodee Blanco
The Economical Guide To Self-Publishing by Linda F. Radke
The Frugal Book Promoter: 2nd Edition, by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Grass Roots Book Marketing by Rusty Fischer
Grassroots Marketing For Authors And Publishers by Shel Horowitz
Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World by Shel Horowitz
Grumpy's Guide To Global Marketing For Books by Carolyn Mordecai
Maverick Marketing by Lisa Messenger & Mel Carswell
Maximum Exposure Marketing System by Tami DePalma & Kim Dushinski
Mosquito Marketing for Authors by Michelle Dunn
Musings Of An Online Bookseller by John Landahl
Online Book Marketing by Lorraine Phillips
Publicize Your Book! by Jacqueline Deval
Publishing For Profit by Thomas Woll
Red Hot Internet Publicity by Penny C. Sansevieri
Sell More Books! by J. Steve Miller & Cherie K. Miller
Sell Your Book Like Wildfire by Rob Eager
Selling Books as Premiums & Incentives by Marilyn & Tom Ross
The Selling Of An Author by Bruce E. Mowday
Simple Guide to Marketing Your Book, by Mark Ortman
The Step-by-Step Guide to Self-Publishing for Profit! by C. Pinherio & Nick Russell
Why, When, Where, & How To Write, Publish, Market, & Sell Your Book by Bill Thurwanger
Write, Publish & Market Your Book by Patrika Vaughn
You Can Market Your Book by Carmen Leal

"There are a lot more titles where these came from. I take a justifiable pride in the Midwest Book Review web site as having the largest writing/publishing bibliography data bases in all the world!"

Naturally, I thought I'd pass his suggestions on to you. I always say, "One book on the writing and marketing of books is never enough." 
 
You can subscribe to Jim's newsletter at http://www.midwestbookreview.com.  I love it.


 You'll also find my personal list of helpful books for writers in the Appendix of The Frugal Editor, 2nd Edition.

 
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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Holly Fox Vellekoop Reviews Self-Help Book from Valerie Allen

Title: Beyond the Inkblots: Confusion to Harmony
Author: Valerie Allen
Author's Web site: www.ValerieAllenWriter
Non-fiction: Psychology>Self Help>Motivational
ISBN 10: 1478146117
ISBN 13: 978 1478146117
Purchase at Amazon.com
Format: book, ebook, large print, and audio



"A book of simple truths about the psychology of everyday living; where we are in life, how we got here, and what we want to do next. It focuses on personal responsibility for our words and behavior, our choices and decisions."


Reviewed By Holly Fox Vellekoop, MSN, Author originally for Amazon 5 Star Review

Like learning from a sage and a good friend

Reading Dr. Allen's book is much like learning from a sage and/or having coffee with a good friend who provides practical advice and a much-needed dose of reality on topics which all of us must face in life. In these changing times, many young people and adults alike have no one to turn to for the wisdom the author imparts in this book. As Dr. Allen so aptly writes in the 'Introduction,' "This book is meant as a journey with musings about life's big questions. It is a place to begin a search and rescue mission for your true self." Read it once, read it twice, then read it again and heed the advice. Be sure to buy "Beyond the Inkblots" for your siblings, grandchildren, friends and anyone else whom you believe would enjoy a good read while gaining direction and self-discovery.

About the Author: 

Dr. Valerie Allen, psychologist, author, and speaker is an experienced writer in many genres. For several years she wrote a weekly newspaper column, Family Matters. Many of her articles have been published in parenting magazines. She has written two children's books for ages 7 - 12. She also writes fiction, non-fiction, and short stories. Her contemporary novels focus on families dealing with a child in peril. She is a popular author of numerous short stories centered on  facing that "moment of truth"  within our relationships.  Reach her at
  ValerieAllenWriter.com , and  Facebook.com/Valerie.Allen.520 
Her books include:  
 
 Beyond the Inkblots: Confusion to Harmony
Write Publish Sell!
Summer School for Smarties
Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends
Amazing Grace
Sins of the Father
Suffer the Little Children
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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.