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International Business Expansion: A Step-by-Step Guide to Launch Your Company into Other Countries

Anthony Gioeli. Over and Above, $21.95 trade paper (244p) ISBN 978-0-9890-9174-9

Gioeli, an entrepreneur who has plenty of experience with multinational corporations, shares his vast knowledge on how and why to take a company global. Citing predictions that the U.S. share of the global economy will decline over the next two decades, he argues that international trade is the key to remaining competitive and viable. More importantly, Gioeli states that a company of any size can become a multinational. This step-by-step guide starts with analyzing potential markets and ends with planning to maintain growth. The author covers assessing a market’s size and the importance of understanding a different country’s economy, infrastructure, regulations, and employment and taxation policies. He also advises readers to create a graph or “competitive matrix” of the “competitive landscape” into which their company will have to fit. In addition, Gioeli covers managing cash flow, customizing products and services according to local demands, and networking in an unfamiliar country. Each chapter closes with a short but useful list of “Key Lessons.” To those hoping to not only stay competitive but grow, Gioeli makes it clear that international expansion is not a luxury but a mandate, and doable with the right guidance. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 04/24/2015 | Details & Permalink

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True North: Tice’s Story

Mark Alan Leslie. Mark Alan Leslie, $12.95 trade paper (196p) ISBN 978-1-62890-602-8

Journalist and consultant Leslie (Midnight Rider for the Morning Star) delves into the obstacles runaway slaves encountered prior to the Civil War. Nineteen-year-old Tice was born and raised on a plantation near Maysville, Ky. His mother is dead and his father sold by the time a stranger hints that he is willing to help Tice escape to freedom. When the opportunity arises, Tice makes it across the Ohio River and is soon guided by members of the Underground Railroad. Because of the Fugitive Slave Law, getting north does not mean freedom, and Mason, the plantation foreman, relentlessly tracks Tice. Leslie vividly describes the plight of runaway slaves, noting differences between biblical slavery and its 19th-century version. He includes a smattering of historical figures, Henry David Thoreau and Hannibal Hamlin among them, in his fictional cast of characters and details notable stops along the Underground Railroad. Tice exhibits a deep religious confidence that will endear him to readers of inspirational literature. While the main plot is a work of fiction, the well-researched historical elements make it believable and even, at times, educational. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 04/24/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Protecting Caroline

Susan Stoker. Susan Stoker, $3.99 e-book (232p) ISBN 978-0-9907388-0-0

Stoker’s bland, short novel consists of story sequences that never cohere into a satisfactory work. Matthew “Wolf” Steel and his team of five other Navy SEALs are traveling on a commercial airline on a break from their missions. Wolf’s seatmate, chemist Caroline, detects drugs in the beverages served to the passengers; she warns Wolf, who manages to foil a plot to hijack the plane, but her actions draw the attention of the terrorists’ allies on the ground. When they come after her, Wolf and his team ride to her rescue, despite their only perfunctory (but intense) previous interactions. Stoker’s writing is at its best when she describes the characters’ emotions for one another, but those nuggets are not enough to redeem the overall low quality of the prose, pacing, and structure. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 04/24/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Starblind

D.T. Dyllin. Tik Tok, $2.99 e-book (298p) ISBN 978-1-941126-37-0

Dyllin (E-Day) hits all the right notes in this light SF romance, building a universe full of politics and battle while fanning the flames of passion. Captain Jane, a genetic hybrid who can withstand fire, embraces her human side, using her bounty-hunting prizes to support a collection of period clothing and historic foods that remind her of destroyed Earth. Her all-female, all-alien crewmates on the Pittsburgh think she takes too many chances by going after Class 4 targets—those with unpredictable abilities—but the United Galactic Federation of Stars (UGFS) pays too well for her to pass them up. Her latest bounty, Ash, is like nothing she’s ever chased before, and his heat calls to an unknown part of her DNA like no other creature in the universe can. Ash understands what Jane is, but refuses to let her catch him until she understands why the UGFS is out to silence both of them, along with entire species who threaten its control. Fans of both paranormal romance and space opera will find this a refreshing mix of the two. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 04/24/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Artificial Absolutes

Mary Fan. Red Adept, $5.99 e-book (376p) ISBN 978-1-940215-03-7

In this thrilling science fiction–adventure series launch, Fan (Tell Me My Name) introduces a society where interstellar travel is an everyday reality, computers infiltrate every aspect of human life, and the forbidden technology of artificial intelligence may be closer than most people suspect. When Jane Colt accidentally witnesses the kidnapping of her best friend, Adam, she calls on her big brother, Devin, hoping he’ll believe her even when all the records say that there’s no way she saw what she claims. Soon the two of them are on the run, targeted by what seems to be a vast and powerful conspiracy that is determined to see them silenced. From the outer colonies known as the Fringe to the depths of the Internet, these siblings face danger at every turn, recruit allies among the underworld, and strive to save themselves, Adam, and civilization. Jane and Devin go to desperate lengths to help each other, and the fast-paced action is balanced by thoughtful meditations on what it means to be human. Readers will zip through this exciting story and immediately hunt down the sequels. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 04/24/2015 | Details & Permalink

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A Star Called Lucky

Bapsy Jain. Vook, $11.99 trade paper (246p) ISBN 978-1-63295424-4

In this amiable sequel to 2009’s Lucky Everyday, Lucky Boyce—accountant and intuitive sleuth—is yanked from her work for the New York State Department of Corrections (where she teaches yoga to inmates) by powerful and ambitious Clevis Coleman, director of the U.S. Global Wellness Council. With her background knowledge of Mumbai and her expertise with the powerful computer searching tool Bloodhound, Coleman thinks she’s ideally suited to find Lobsang Telok, a London-trained Tibetan doctor who possesses a magic mushroom that can purportedly cure almost anything. Lobsang is believed to be hiding in one of Mumbai’s most notorious slums. Coleman’s means and motives are far from altruistic, and Lucky needs help from some unlikely sources, including teenage neighbor Collette Skyles, PETA activist Usko Tahti, and her Indian friends. Jain’s characters do a lot of musing about life, death, and morality as Lucky decides to do what she must to warn Lobsang in this simplistic novel. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 04/24/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Blue Sun, Yellow Sky

Jamie Jo Hoang. Jamie Hoang, $9.99 trade paper (316p) ISBN 978-1-63443-371-6

Aubrey is a painter on the cusp of success when she receives a life-changing diagnosis: very soon, she will be completely blind. She’s still reeling from the news when she runs into Jeff, an old friend, at a gallery opening featuring her paintings and accepts his spontaneous invitation to travel the world and see its wonders before it’s too late. The journey, which follows the pair through Jordan, India, China, Brazil, and Peru, is believable in its attention to detail—from children’s games to Peruvian porters’ footwear to the details of the facade of the Taj Mahal—but it remains somehow flat, providing information about each setting without bringing it to life. Likewise, Aubrey’s crisis—as a visual artist who is losing her sight—is described, and its psychology explored, but with an emotional distance that might leave readers feeling more like uninvolved observers than intimates: Aubrey mentions that she is grieving and afraid, though she shows few signs of actually having those feelings. Despite the distance, those who are reading for Aubrey and Jeff’s journey will find a memorable adventure. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 04/24/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Grunge Gods and Graveyards

Kimberly G. Giarratano. Red Adept (redadeptpublishing.com), $5.99 e-book (303p) ASIN B00KPBSGA0

Part ghost story, part mystery, this atmospheric piece set in 1996 combines teen angst with small-town dynamics and a touch of urban legend. High school senior Lainey Bloom is in mourning for Danny Obregon, the boy she loved, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident over the summer. She’s also contending with bullies (including Danny’s ex), an unsympathetic school administration, and a perpetually busy widower father. While Lainey’s life spirals into confusion, Danny’s ghost appears, asking her to help figure out who killed him. As they investigate Danny’s death, romance continues to bloom between girl and ghost, and they discover that the truth is almost fatally complicated. Giarratano makes a solid debut, though she takes a kitchen sink approach to her plotting and worldbuilding: Lainey’s life takes on the qualities of a soap opera, with everything going wrong at home, at school, with her friends, and so on. What proves overwhelming for the protagonist risks feeling excessive for readers. Nevertheless, the mix of murder mystery and supernatural love story makes this an entertaining if unfocused read. Ages 14–up. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 04/24/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Healing Ruby

Jennifer Westall. Jennifer Westall, $3.99 e-book (369p) ASIN B00O3GRNF2

Coming of age in Depression-era Alabama is fraught with pitfalls for Ruby Graves in the opener of Westall’s (Love’s Providence) Healing Ruby series. Ruby is a typical young woman of her time, but then tragedy strikes her family repeatedly, much like the biblical figure Job. In the wake of those tragedies comes a new understanding of her faith, and more questions than she can ever find answers to, among them mysteries in her family’s past. Plot strands are teased out slowly and answers revealed as the story progresses, and the novel builds to a satisfying climax followed by a gentle push toward the next installment. Woven with scriptural references that and brutally frank regarding the treatment of people in the 1930s South, Westall’s story also sounds notes of hope and faith that balance her portrayal. Insight into history and race relations enrich a textured narrative. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 01/09/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Third Daughter

Susan Kaye Quinn. Susan Kaye Quinn, $12.99 trade paper (346p) ISBN 978-1-4937-7477-7

Romance and intrigue collide in the fluffy, entertaining first installment of Quinn’s Dharian Affairs steampunk trilogy. As the third daughter of the Queen of Dharia, 17-year-old Aniri has the opportunity to marry for love. However, she agrees to an arranged marriage with Prince Malik of neighboring Jungali after he makes an impassioned plea for peace—and her mother presents a calculated need for a spy amongst the Jungali. Far from home, Aniri must find the evidence needed to prevent war, even as she maintains the pretense of romance with her betrothed. As danger mounts, so do the lies, deceptions, and mysteries. The feisty, resourceful princess leaps into and out of trouble with grace and style. Quinn (the Mindjack trilogy) could have done much more with the alternate East Indian setting, which feels mostly like window dressing, but steampunk fans will appreciate the airships, swordfights, illicit romance, fantastical technology, desperate escapes, last-minute rescues, and breathtaking scenery, all pulled together by a genuine sense of fun. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 01/09/2015 | Details & Permalink

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