Monday, December 2, 2019

#BookReview - RetireSMART!

RetireSMART!: How to Plan for a Tax-Free Retirement

By: Mark Anthony Grimaldi
Publisher: Page Publishing
Publication Date: July 2019
ISBN: 978-1644628911
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: November 29, 2019
A highly regarded expert in the field of money management, Mark Anthony Grimaldi, shares his insider knowledge of markets, investments, and retirement in this practical guide.
Grimaldi begins by debunking the notion that a 401K is the ultimate retirement blessing; in fact, he asserts here, it was “designed for Uncle Sam’s ‘financial’ gain.” He asks readers to open and clear their minds and follow his advice on investing for retirement. Examining the hidden costs of standard 401K plans, he clearly demonstrates that taxation regulations embedded in the system comprise one of the largest factors preventing a secure, comfortable retirement. 
Grimaldi’s book is dramatic, with all the relevant data leading to an “act three” climax in which he simply and boldly states his three-part Action Plan: 1) Stop contributing to 401K plans, and instead, utilize an after tax account, explained in his narrative; 2) Get out of debt – most of us owe for cars, houses, vacations and credit card buying, and paying these down – to zero - is one of the best “investments” we can make; 3) Save by using the formula, “your age divided by three.” The author offers an easily understandable model for this third requirement: divide your age by 3, and take that percentage as a rate of savings on your total income. For someone aged 25 earning $50,000 per year, the savings amount using this formula comes to what seems a reasonable amount, $347.00 per month. He also offers basic rules that delineate the means to take advantage of tax deduction regulations, which can play a critical role in what one’s heirs will inherit.
In this well-organized how-to, Grimaldi - chief economist for the NO-LOAD Sector Rotation Fund (NAVFX) - combines both down-to-earth examples - such as the contrast in investing strategies between a “Mrs. Smart” and a “Mr. Uninformed” – with rigidly accurate fiscal data that may require a bit of study among some of his less financially adept readers. But the basic logic is there for all to see. In laying out his guidelines, he considers the needs of three generations of Americans: Boomers, Millennials and Gen X. Each group has different perspectives and different long-term prospects for investment and each has lived through different financial eras in America. 
Quill says: Grimaldi’s colorful, fact-dense manual can be a handy carry-along for financial planning encounters. Reading his wise words would benefit all forward-looking Americans, assuring them that they have a right to anticipate a smooth transition from the stress of working life to the rewards of retirement years.

#BookReview - Do You Like Trains? @thegingerbreadtrain

Do You Like Trains?

By: Ann Tarpley Francesco
Illustrated by: Rebecca Solow
Publisher: Locomotion Press
Publication Date: January 2020
ISBN: 978-0999291931
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: November 2019
Do you like trains? Would you like to go for a train ride? Trains are so fun, so pretty, so cool. And in the delightful new book, Do You like Trains?, an adorable squirrel does his best to convince his new friend, Racoon, that trains are about the most fantastic things you will ever see.
On the very first page we meet Squirrel, a fluffy, and very happy, little rodent. And the reason he is so happy? Because he has a toy train engine in his hand and it’s time to play! “I love trains everywhere I go!” he exclaims. But will his excitement over “everything train,” be shared by others? 
As Squirrel plays with his toy train, and moves it along the track, he notices Racoon, a new friend, who is off to the side playing with a bunch of colorful blocks. Racoon seems perfectly happy with his blocks and isn’t really interested in the train. Is that possible? How can Racoon not like trains?
Squirrel decides it’s up to him to show Racoon all the wonders of trains and he certainly does a grand job of describing all the various things trains can do:
There’s hoppers, boxcars,
and the caboose!
And best of all the cowcatchers
That push aside cattle and moose.
And yet, even with all the wonderful things about trains that Squirrel describes, Racoon is still not convinced that trains are all that fascinating. Maybe he’ll continue playing with his blocks. Will Squirrel ever be able to persuade Racoon that trains are worth investigating?
Told in lively rhyme that keeps the story moving along, Do You Like Trains? will undoubtedly appeal to young readers who love trains. But it's also quite likely to be a favorite with children who may not have considered trains to be as fascinating as Squirrel insists they are. But the little squirrel's enthusiasm is contagious and youngsters will certainly be drawn to his character and it just might pique their curiosity. A review of this book would not be complete without mentioning the wonderful artwork by Rebecca Solow that decorates each page. The animal characters are adorable, the colors bright, and they truly add much to the story. 
Quill says: Do You Like Trains? is an entertaining, spirited tale full of fun rhymes about the awesomeness of trains. How can a child resist such a story?
For more information on Do You Like Trains?, please visit the author's website at:

#BookReview - Nian, The Chinese New Year Dragon

Nian, The Chinese New Year Dragon

By: Virginia Loh-Hagan
Illustrated by: Timothy Banks
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: December 2019
ISBN: 978-1585364138
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: December 1, 2019
Nian, The Chinese New Year Dragon is loosely based on a Chinese legend that explains the origins of Chinese New Year traditions. In this, author Virginia Loh-Hagan's version, a young girl by the name of Mei (pronounced "May") must outwit the evil dragon if her village is to survive.
Mei hated spring. In fact, her whole village hated spring. Why? Because every spring, Nian, the dragon who slept in a mountain under the sea, would wake up and head to the village in search of food. And he'd eat everything, or everyone, he came upon. 
One night, a warrior came to Mei in a dream and said that it was up to her to stop the dragon. He gave her his magic cane, and said she had fifteen days to stop the beast or he would be free forever. Could Mei stop the dragon?
When the villagers heard the roar of Nian, they all went running. Mei's mother called to her, telling her to get the animals and hide in the barn. At the last minute, however, Mei realized she had left the warrior's cane in the house. She ran to get it, but before she could get back to the barn, Nian appeared. He roared, showed his sharp teeth and it looked like Mei might be the dragon's next meal. Would Mei be able to save herself, and the village, as well as defeat Nian?
Nian, The Chinese New Year Dragon is a fabulous story that had me hooked on the first page. I have no doubt that young readers will love following along with Mei to see what will happen to her and the dragon. In the story, Mei first outwits the dragon by making loud noises, but then he returns with cotton in his ears. Each time Mei comes up with an idea and defeats the dragon, the evil beast comes back. Children will stay latched to the pages to see if Mei can finally defeat Nian. The whole story also ties in very nicely to the traditions of the Chinese New Year - endnotes explain the origins of the legend and how the author came up with her version. The illustrations were perfect for this title, where the colors really play a part in the story, with dark colors of the dragon in sharp contrast to the bold reds that play an important role in defeating Nian.
Quill says: Nian, The Chinese New Year Dragon is a fantastically fun story that will engage young readers as they follow along with Mei to see if she can outwit the dragon that has been terrorizing her village.

#BookReview - Tracking Game

Tracking Game: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery
By: Margaret Mizushima
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publicatino Date: November 2019
ISBN: 978-1643851358
Reviewed by: Gina Montanha
Review Date: November 29, 2019
Deputy Mattie Cobb and her date, Cole Walker, are enjoying the Celebration of Summer dance in their small town of Timber Creek. Just when they are getting quite cozy, an explosive boom nearby calls them away from their rendezvous. They discover a burning van and the dead body of local outfitter Nate Fletcher. As if that wasn’t gruesome enough, further investigation reveals the true cause of death to be gunshot wounds. To make matters worse, Cole’s best friend Garrett Hartman had tried to rescue Nate and his life was now hanging by a thread.
Timber Creek may be a small town, but there’s no shortage of murder suspects here. Nate was married to Kasey Redman, whose parents owned a great deal of land in town - land that they may be in danger of losing. Kasey’s protective brother Tyler was never fond of Nate and her friend Wilson Nichol has been carrying a torch for Kasey since childhood. Then there’s the suspicious pair of men from out-of-town, who were supposed to go on a hunting trip with Nate the very weekend he turned up dead.
As Mattie and her best friend and canine partner Robo further examine the details surrounding Nate’s death, they uncover more than they bargained for. Before they’re able to make too much headway on the case, another man gets shot. But when Mattie and Robo rush out to the scene, they are threatened by a dangerous and menacing animal.
At the core of this murder mystery are two beautiful relationships. The first one is between a couple whose friendship blossoms into a beautiful romance. Both Mattie and Cole have complicated pasts, but they discover it’s worth the effort to help each other manage their pain and regrets. Then there’s the sweet, yet stern connection between Mattie and Robo, a master and her highly skilled police dog, each of who are willing to give their lives to protect the other. 
I really enjoyed trying to solve the crimes in Tracking Game, only to find out I had been duped. Very clever plot twists kept my interest and were sure to surprise me in the end. As an animal lover, I truly appreciated the canine characters that were intertwined in the story and the human connections they shared. The author has an obvious knowledge and understanding of these bonds.
Quill says: Tracking Game is stimulating & exciting, keeping you guessing at every turn. That combined with the tender moments shared between man, woman and dog, make this a very well-rounded mystery indeed!

#BookPromotion on a Budget

Book Promotion on a Budget - Tips for a Beginner Writer

Writing and publishing your own book is such an exciting experience. However, many writers, amidst the excitement, fail to realize that they're responsible for promoting their own book - leaving it to the last minute.

Don't worry, it's not as hard as it looks. It takes a bit of persistence, but there are so many ways that you can promote your book, with little to no money at all.

Here are our top tips on promoting your book.

The internet saves the day
With social media and websites, the internet is single-handedly the greatest thing for promotion on a budget. Create a website that has all the selection of your work, an "about me" section and a contact page. 

Social media is an absolutely perfect way to promote your book...for free. Share your release date out, post teasers and start to build up a following. You could reach so many people. Don’t forget to utilize the “stories" options.

Making friends with other authors, publishers or, basically everybody else, is a traditional, faultless way to spread the word about anything.

Kindly ask anybody who may be interested/has influence over your target audience, if they would share the news about your book around. This kind of promotion really does work. Plus, you would do the same for another author, right?

Start in advance
We suggest starting the promotion at least 6 months before its release date. This includes all the networking, teasers, website building, social media marketing and everything else you could possibly think of.

If you build up the release date, gain people's interest and release snippets every now and then, your promotional efforts have a chance to really work.

Just don't leave it until the very last minute. Leave surprise releases to Beyoncé.
Remember, be super visible and active on social media. Not everything you post has to be related to your book, just remind people that you're still there.


Content marketing
Content marketing includes things like blogs, videos, and graphics. Before the release date of your book, start to post other things around the internet.

This could be via guest posting or on your own blog. Use SEO techniques and, depending on your budget, use paid adverts to bring you higher up on those search results.

"You want people to gain an interest in your work, your writing, and your book. Content marketing will do this." — Amanda Sparks, digital marketer and author of Top Down Writer.

Engage with your readers
After your book has been released, make sure to engage with those who have bought your book. Ask them to leave reviews, share the book on social media or even create a challenge.

“Starting a hashtag on Instagram is always a great idea, especially if your readers post the book with that hashtag, they'll be entered into a competition. Whichever way you decide to do it, having a relationship with your readers will also help future book sales,” says Hellen Lewis, social media marketer at Best Writers Canada. 

Collaborate with influencers
Find somebody who has quite a big following (with your specific target audience) and ask them to help you out in exchange for money or some other services. This is a proven way to really elevate book sales.

Influencer marketing is booming right now, and if you’ve ever contemplated the idea of working with one — the time is now. Influencers are getting more and more attention from the general public, and their market reach is growing by the day. 


Write your own press releases
You are a writer, why not write your own press release and send it to various news sites? Look for local news, regional, popular blogs, niche name it.

At the end of the day, your book (no matter how amazing it is) won't promote itself. By putting in a tiny bit of effort, a few social media posts and some samples you could have a successful promo campaign.

Mailing lists
There are free options and paid options, whichever you choose, just make sure you have one. Writers pretty much rely on mailing lists, especially for those last few weeks before the release date.

"Build up your emails through your websites, blogs, social media, and networking endeavors. Don't forget to add options to share anything in the email you send." — Sarah Allen, a marketing communication manager at

A budget doesn't matter when you have the motivation and passion. Having a large budget on book promotion isn’t mandatory. The internet provides us with a myriad of useful platforms that will make book promotion straightforward and inexpensive. 

Author’s bio. Daniela McVicker is a contributor to TopWritersReview. She has a master's degree in English Literature, and she is truly passionate about learning foreign languages and teaching. Daniela works with the students helping them to reveal the writing talent and find one true calling.