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Friday, September 23, 2016

Everlasting Lies by Barbara Warren (Review and Giveaway)


Well-written, evocative and scandalous, this novel made me experience a roller-coaster of emotions. It was never boring but did leave me frustrated more times than I can count.

Book Details:

Book Title:  Everlasting Lies by Barbara Warren
Category:  Adult fiction, 296 pages
Genre:  Historical Romance, Women's Fiction
Publisher:  Friesen Press
Release date:  March 2016
Content Rating:  R (For explicit sexual scenes and promiscuity)

Book Description:

Edina Paxton is kissed at twelve, seduced at fourteen and married with child at fifteen. She immediately regrets her marriage to Charles Vernon and is relieved when he leaves to fight in the trenches during WW1. She soon finds love, comfort and sexual satisfaction with Bill, another soldier and the boy who first kissed her.

Charles is invalided out of the army and is sent to India on a hospital ship. There, he becomes a manager of a coalmine in Britain’s Indian Empire, with all the privileges that his position rewards, including sexual favours from female employees. At the end of his army service in 1920 he returns to England to collect his family and return to India, only to be greeted with the news that while he was away Edina was at play. She is pregnant.

Reluctantly, Edina and her three children sail for India with Charles and Edina gives birth to her fourth child while sailing south on the Red Sea. On reaching India Charles finds his Indian mistress is pregnant and Edina finds Charles’s Indian boss to be very attractive. It’s a mutual attraction. Neither Edina nor Charles is a saint.

Piecing together fragments of her grandmother’s remarkable and tragic story, Everlasting Lies is Barbara’s loving tale of the early life of Edina, her grandmother, and Charles, Edina's husband. They both experience the horrors of WW1 and, in hopes of renewing their marriage, start new lives as members of the upper class in Imperial India. 



Buy the Book: Author Website (has links to all retail sites where book is sold)

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Chapters Indigo


My Review
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

This novel, aptly titled Everlasting Lies, is the story of a couple's turbulent marriage from the time they first meet to the years through WWI and their move from England to India.

The story grips the reader from the get-go as we are transported to an early twentieth century mining town in England. Charlie is a complex character who becomes more and more despicable as he discovers his need to satisfy his sexual urges at all costs. His wife Edina turns from an innocent tease to a housewife verbally abused by her promiscuous husband. The war takes Charlie away as he enlists and Edina enjoys taking care of her children, falling in love with a childhood friend and learning about women who are beginning to speak up for their rights.

Despite the fact that I did not like Charles and at times Edina, the author's writing kept me turning the pages. I would have preferred if the plot would have continued to revolve around the era rather than the sexual exploits of this couple. There is very little integrity, if any, among the main characters and, Edina who I had high hopes for becomes no better than her husband in her own infidelities. She is a strong character, however, and does what she believes she must do to survive during an era and a marriage where her station in life as a mother and a woman is not respected.

Well-written, evocative and scandalous, this novel made me experience a roller-coaster of emotions. It was never boring but did leave me frustrated more times than I can count. I was hoping for some morality among one of its main characters to give them depth and a reason for me as a reader to root for them. The author is a good storyteller, however, and I hope she keeps writing historical fiction.

To read more reviews, please visit Barbara Warren's page on iRead Book Tours.

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending me this book for review. I was not told how to rate or review this product.


Meet the Author:


Barbara Warren always has the pedal to the metal. Born in England and educated at a convent, she left school at sixteen and was selling encyclopedias in the roughest part of London at eighteen. She married and emigrated to Canada when she was twenty-three, had three charming daughters, went to university when she was thirty-six and retired from teaching in her mid fifties.

Then she pursued her passion for the arts and for travel. She and her husband rode camels in India, elephants in Nepal and horses in Montana. They hitchhiked in Norway, cycled across Denmark and snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef. Barbara’s paintings grace homes in Canada, USA and Mexico and she designs her own clothes. She spends the winters in Mexico and the summers in the bible belt of southern Alberta.

Her first novel, Everlasting Lies, tells the story of her grandparents’ love affairs with each other and with others. They struggle to survive in the last years of Victorian England and the horrors of WW1 and then start a new life with four children in Imperial India.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Facebook



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Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Drop of Water by Yvonne Williams Casaus (Book Spotlight , Author Interview and Giveaway)


I am thrilled to be featuring Yvonne Williams Casaus' new book on my blog today. As I learned more about her (see my interview below) I discovered we have much in common. If you or someone you know struggles with depression or is concerned about suicide prevention, then this book will be helpful. You can enter to win a copy.

Book Details:

Book Title:  A Drop Of Water: A Spiritual Journey by Yvonne Williams Casaus
Category:  Adult nonfiction, 208 pages
Genre:  Memoir, Spirituality, Self-help, Personal Growth, Grief, Loss, Mental Health, Suicide Prevention
PublisherLaughing At Myself, LLC
Release date:  September 2016
Content Rating:  PG + M (There is no bad language, but author discusses her husband's suicide)

Book Description:

In this extraordinary book, Yvonne reflects upon her past experiences, grief, and losses to find her way back to her spirituality and strength. She bares her soul, yet is able to use water as a lighthearted, uninhibited, and fun way to express how we are all connected. It is a spiritually inspired book about healing, grief, and personal growth.

It becomes a beautiful poetic journey as she discovers her love of water as part of what led her towards her spiritual path. Through her writing she expresses how she found her way through several tremendous losses, including the loss of her husband. In her ability to endure, she found a strength she never knew she had.

This book is for anyone that has ever struggled with depression, grief, or loss of any kind. It is for anyone interested in personal growth and healing. By sharing her personal story she is able to remind us that we are never truly alone. Water connects us all.

Buy the Book: Amazon


My Interview with Yvonne Williams Casaus


LCR: Hi Yvonne! Thank you so much for chatting with us about your ​new book A Drop of Water. In 20 words, can you describe to us what your book is about?

YWC: I share my healing journey as a Suicide Loss Survivor and Therapist to show how we are all connected.


LCR: I read in your bio that you do Play Therapy. As a former Special Care Counsellor myself, I have used this with children with astounding results. The children would disclose private feeling to the puppet I would use but not to me personally. Can you tell us how your experience as a therapist has influenced your own healing?


YWC: Play Therapy is very powerful; speaking through metaphor (play) is a way to express emotions they may not be able to with words. It helps get their defense mechanisms out of the way so true healing can occur. Being a therapist made it very easy to ask for help and know my children and I were going to need support. I knew how important it was to have my children go to therapy and process their feelings. Helping others has helped me heal and grow more than I could have imagined. I learned to have more compassion for myself. We could all learn from very young children. They do not struggle with self esteem and are not afraid to ask for what they need. We all need to learn how to have uninhibited, childlike fun, we all need nurturing, we all need love.


LCR: Your title is catchy and intriguing. Can you tell us how you came up with it?


YWC: I found a connection between my grief, my tears, my healing journey and water. It became a metaphor for my spiritual journey. I realized that we are all connected. It all starts with that one drop. A drop of water, an ocean of water, it is all the same.


LCR: How will readers benefit from reading your book?


YWC: They will learn that they too can use water to overcome those dark and lonesome moments. It will remind them that no matter how lonely they feel they are never alone. I was spiritually inspired to share my healing journey and in the process a lesson came to me. We are all connected, through nature, through spirit, through water. I realized that the messages in these words could help everyone find their way through the darkness. Finding my way out of the murky water helped me discover the real me. I am the drop and I am the ocean. Water connects us all.


LCR: If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is struggling with depression, what would it be?
YWC: If you are struggling with feelings of hopelessness, reach out. Asking for help is a strength.
Remember that no matter how alone or hopeless you feel, you are never alone. We are all connected.  It is hard to remember when we are sad and depressed. We feel so lonely or frozen like ice. We get rigid and cold, but even in ice, we are connected.


I believe that if a person can hold on for just another moment, they can make it for another hour. Then if they can make to another hour, they can hold on for another day. There is always love and encouragement even when we are choosing not to see it.


LCR: If you could travel back in time, where would you go?
  
YWC: That is a hard one. I am a pretty independent woman, and women did not have as many rights as they do now. I had thoughts such as how interesting it might have been to see my parent’s wedding. The Renaissance period has always fascinated me. I love the style of painting and sculpture from that period. I would love to see Italian masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael working on their masterpieces.  


LCR: Can you share what books you've read and loved?


YWC: Like you, I read a variety of genres. I recently read Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, I found myself laughing out loud and loved how she described her experience with depression and anxiety. I have read all The Artist Way books by Julia Cameron. I believe that really allowed me to embrace my creativity. I love Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life, I reference her positive affirmations on a regular basis. However, I must say my guilty pleasure is reading young adult supernatural and paranormal books. It also makes me very happy to see coloring books everywhere and more readily available. I have been recommending coloring books to my clients for years.


LCR: Do you have a project or book you're working on next?

YWC: Yes I am halfway through my next book which is a fictional fantasy dealing with spirituality. It is a young adult book. I work with many adolescents so I was drawn to this genre. I consider this genre one of my guilty pleasures. I have really enjoyed fiction and creating my own fantasy world. I sense some vampires coming.

About the Author:



Yvonne Williams Casaus is a Mom, Wife, Author, Counselor, and Play Therapist. She is an independently licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LPCC), a Registered Play Therapist (RPT), and is certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. She specializes in Depression, Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She has a private practice in New Mexico and has been helping adults, children, adolescents, and families for over eleven years.

Yvonne’s areas of expertise include Depression, Anxiety, Divorce, Panic Attacks, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), Sexual Abuse, Rape, Physical Abuse, Grief, ADHD and other issues. She also specializes in treating traumatized children with issues such as PTSD, Sexual abuse, Physical Abuse, Neglect, Adoption, and Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest  ~ Instagram


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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Flight Club: Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business by Felena Hanson (Spotlight, Author Interview and Giveaway)


Today I am excited to be featuring Felena Hanson and her new book. I launched my own business three years ago and I love supporting organisations and authors who help women fulfil their dreams. Be sure to read my interview with Felena and enter the giveaway to win a copy of the book!


Book Details:

Book Title:  Flight Club: Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business by Felena Hanson
Category:  Adult nonfiction, 198 pages
Genre:  Business
Publisher: Self-published
Release date:  April 2016
Content Rating:  PG + M (Book contains real life examples - infidelity) 

Book Description:

Flight Club is a call to rebel, reinvent, and thrive! The book shares the journey of women who "leaned out" of corporate to launch their dream business.

Felena Hanson, founder of Hera Hub, shares her personal story and rise to entrepreneurship. The book also features the journeys of and advice from six courageous female entrepreneurs: Debby Eubank, Linda O'Keefe, Lorin Beller, Sara Clark-Williams, Deirdre Maloney, and MaryCay Durrant. Each shares an exercise to help you craft your flight path.

The final section of the book includes access to an online platform (www.StepsToStartup.com) which walks you through 17 foundational steps of launching a business. Book buyers will receive three months free access!

This book is for you if ...
You are tired of building someone else's dream
You want to pursue your passion as a career
You are over the corporate politics
You want more control of your time and life
You don't want to build your dream business alone!

Learn more at www.FlightClubBook.com and www.Facebook.com/FlightClubBook

Buy the Book :  Amazon  

Watch the Trailer:




My Interview with Felena Hanson


LCR: Welcome to Library of Clean Reads! If you were to describe your book in 20 words, what would you say?


FH: Flight Club is a call to women who feel “stuck” in their corporate job to “lean out” and launch their own business.  The book is a combination of inspiration and guidance to help them take the leap!


LCR: How are women entrepreneurs different from men entrepreneurs? Or is there no difference?


FH: I truly believes that women, when given a chance, interact differently and are instinctively more collaborative in their approach to business. I felt it was important to create a space for female entrepreneurs that is not only beautiful, comfortable, and feminine, yet also very professional.


Women empowering women is more than just a theory.  In a Kaufman Foundation study (“Are Successful Women Entrepreneurs Different from Men?” May 2010), women rated their professional and business networks as important contributors to success more highly than men did. It was also found that women especially benefit from other types of social support and encouragement beyond business.


Several of the identified gender differences in the study indicate that support and encouragement from key people can especially benefit women in their efforts to found successful companies. Many women feel more comfortable in a female-focused environment and typically get to a point of trust much quicker, especially in a safe, supportive environment like Hera Hub.


LCR: What is your ultimate goal in writing this book?


FH: My goal was to inspire more women to launch their own business.  This can allow them to pursue their passions and be in the driver's seat as it relates to how and when they work.


LCR: What was the best advice you received when you launched your own business?


FH: My grandpa Hanson used to recite the Serenity Prayer, which basically says… "Don't worry about the things you do not control.”  This has served me well to remember that, as it helps me stay focused on what I can achieve and not worry about the opinion of others.


LCR: Where do you see your business in 5 years from now?


I’m on a mission is to support over 20,000 women in the launch and growth of their business by 2020.  I’m achieving this goal through our licensing expansion and the book.  I believe what we're doing will continue to change the face of female entrepreneurship.



Meet the Author:




Felena is a long-time entrepreneur and marketing maven. Her latest venture, Hera Hub, is a spa-inspired shared workspace and community for female entrepreneurs. This as-needed, flexible work and meeting space provides a productive environment for growing businesses. Hera Hub members have access to a professional space to meet with clients and to connect and collaborate with like-minded business owners, thus giving them the support they need to be prosperous. The company has three locations in San Diego, one in Washington DC, and continues to grow nationally via a licensing model. Her goal is to support over 20,000 women in the launch and growth of their business by 2020. Felena and Hera Hub have been featured in Inc Magazine, the BBC News, Forbes, and the New York Times. She is a published author and international speaker. Her book, “Flight Club – Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business” is available on Amazon.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram


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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Death at the Paris Exposition by Frances McNamara (Book Spotlight, Author Interview and Giveaway!)


Today I'm featuring Frances McNamara's latest novel in the Emily Cabot Mystery. I love historical fiction, especially those with strong female protagonists, and was happy to have discovered this author although I have yet to read her novels. Join me in learning more about the Emily Cabot mystery series by reading my interview with Frances McNamara and by entering the giveaway!

Book Details:

Title: Death at the Paris Exposition
Genre: Historical mystery, 276 pages 
Publisher: Allium Press of Chicago
Release date: September 1, 2016 at  
ISBN: 978-0-9967558-3-2 
ebook: 978-0-9967558-4-9 


Book Description:

Amateur sleuth Emily Cabot’s journey once again takes her to a world’s fair—the Paris Exposition of 1900. Chicago socialite Bertha Palmer is named the only female U. S. commissioner to the Exposition and enlists Emily’s services as her secretary. Their visit to the House of Worth for the fitting of a couture gown is interrupted by the theft of Mrs. Palmer’s famous pearl necklace. Before that crime can be solved, several young women meet untimely deaths and a member of the Palmer’s inner circle is accused of the crimes. 

As Emily races to clear the family name she encounters jealous society ladies, American heiresses seeking titled European husbands, and more luscious gowns and priceless jewels. Along the way, she takes refuge from the tumult at the country estate of Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt. In between her work and sleuthing, she is able to share the Art Nouveau delights of the Exposition, and the enduring pleasures of the City of Light, with her husband and their children.


Buy the book: Amazon  ~  Allium Press of Chicago

Interview with Frances McNamara

LCR: Welcome to Library of Clean Reads and congratulations of writing your 6th novel in the Emily Cabot Mystery series! Can you describe this latest release in 20 words or less?

FM: “The 1900 Paris Exposition provides a glittering backdrop for murder, theft, and high fashion” (Publishers Weekly) in Death at the Paris Exposition.

LCR: Why did you choose the Paris Exposition in 1900 as your setting?

FM: I visited Paris a few years ago and realized that, like in Chicago, you can feel the imprint of the people of the late nineteenth century, the “Gilded Age,” on the city. A large part of Paris was torn down and rebuilt by Baron Haussmann in the nineteenth century and I could picture my character, Emily Cabot, on the Champs Elysees, or visiting the Grand Palais. When I discovered that the famous Chicago society woman Bertha Palmer was the only woman commissioner in the U.S. delegation to the 1900 Paris Exposition I decided to have that event be the backdrop for the story. 

A traveling art exhibition on fashion and the Impressionists at the Art Institute of Chicago also inspired me. I was excited to research and include information about the dress designs of the House of Worth and the American Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt, who I’ve always admired. Finally, it occurred to me that since I’d begun the series with Death at the Fair (set at the Columbian Exposition of 1893) I could put the 1900 Paris Exposition in the middle and then aim to end the series at the Century of Progress world’s fair in Chicago in 1933/4. That would give me something to aim for in the overall arc of the series. Also, I love Paris! It is a great city, just as Chicago is.

LCR: I personally appreciate books with strong and intelligent female lead characters in a historical setting. What are the challenges of writing such a character at a time when females were not even allowed to vote?

FM: That’s what really intrigues me about the turn-of-the-century time period. Women were hampered by society and laws but, despite that fact, they began to go out and accomplish amazing things. I dislike portrayals of wimpy women of the time who are victimized by society. I knew there were other women out there taking a stand and doing things and, personally, I’m grateful to them. So, the fun of writing this series is researching real women who did real things and the bringing them back into the light and giving them well-deserved recognition. 

Bertha Palmer is an example of a woman who, in our time, might run for office, as Hillary Clinton has. But in her time, she was able to use her money and social influence to make things happen in her own way. Mary Cassatt is another wonderful example of a significant woman of the time. She came from a wealthy family but turned her back on the expectations of society and supported herself as an artist. There’s a lot to admire about women who bucked the system, or used it to accomplish goals, despite the limitations placed upon them.

LCR: What or who has been an inspiration for your novels?

FM: The city of Chicago itself, and some of the real places you can still visit—like Hull House, the town of Pullman, and even the University of Chicago campus—have all been inspirational to me. My protagonist, Emily Cabot, is roughly based on some women of the time who worked for progressive social change. Forgotten heroes and heroines that I find when I do research provide inspiration— people like Ida B. Wells, Jane Addams, Florence Kelley, Wang Chin Foo, and many others who I hadn’t previously known existed. They’re worth remembering because many things that are good about our present day, and that we take for granted, are things that they had to struggle for.

LCR: If you could travel back in time, where would you go?

FM: Actually, I would not like to travel back and have to live at an earlier time. I guess I think we’ve made progress and if I lived at an earlier time my life would be less comfortable and more restricted. I wouldn’t mind going back for a short visit, and certainly Paris during the 1900 Exposition would be fun. I got to do that a bit by finding lots of pictures that I put on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/fdmcnama/death-at-the-paris-exposition/

And even finding some videos online from the Exposition, like this one:


LCR: What would you like my readers to remember about you?

FM: If they like historical mysteries—especially ones set around the turn of the century—which combine real historical figures with a strong female protagonist, they’ll really enjoy the Emily Cabot Mysteries. Fans of the Laurie R. King and Rhys Bowen mysteries series will find much to like in my books. They can found out more about all of my books at http://alliumpress.com/authors/frances-mcnamara/ and visit my website, https://francesmcnamara.com/.


LCR: What are you working on next?

FM: I’m working on an Emily Cabot mystery set in Chicago in 1909. At that time there were several film studios producing silent movies in Chicago, before they all moved out to Hollywood. Emily and her family are about to leave for a summer at Woods Hole on Cape Cod when she gets a call from her reporter brother, Alden Cabot. There’s been a murder at the Selig Polyscope studios on the north side of Chicago and he needs her help investigating it. There she discovers the astonishing dream factory where moving pictures are being created by a cast of strange and interesting characters.

LCR: Thank you for chatting with me!




About the Author:

Frances McNamara


Frances McNamara grew up in Boston, where her father served as Police Commissioner for ten years. She has degrees from Mount Holyoke and Simmons Colleges, and recently retired from the University of Chicago. She now divides her time between Boston and Cape Cod. She is the author of five other titles in the Emily Cabot Mysteries series, which is set in the 1890s and takes place primarily in Chicago: Death at the Fair, Death at Hull House, Death at Pullman, Death at Woods Hole, and Death at Chinatown. Visit her website Follow her on Facebook Sign up to receive her newsletter Follow Allium Press of Chicago on Twitter | on Facebook


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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

There's Been a Change of Plans by Amy Koko (Review and Giveaway!)


If you are a woman going through mid-life, or a divorce, or in need of a change or a pick-me up, then you will love reading this book.

Book Details:

Book Title: There's Been A Change of Plans, A Memoir About Divorce, Dating and Delinquents in Midlife by Amy Koko
Category: Adult Nonfiction, 175 pages
Genre: memoir
Publisher: Martin Brown
Release date: October 2015
Content Rating: R (for use of profanity, particularly the f-word, no explicit sex though)

Book Description:

Blogger Amy Koko bears her soul in her witty, bittersweet memoir, There's Been A Change of Plans: Divorce, Dating & Delinquents in Mid-life. Expecting a trip to Italy, Koko is blind-sided by her husband’s confession that he’s been putting his shoes under a much younger and prettier woman's bed. After twenty-seven years of marriage and four children, she faces the unimaginable: her life as she knows it is unraveling around her and her family’s future is anything but certain.

In the literary tradition of Nora Ephron's Heartburn and Jenny Lawson's Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Koko’s memoir details her journey from hearing the news that her husband is in love with a blonde, thirty-something Swiss pastry chef to trying everything from thong underwear to a mini-facelift to save her marriage, only to see it die in the parking lot of gas station.

With incredible honesty and humor, Koko takes the reader on a wild ride through the tough, emotional times of starting over through divorce, mid-life, finding a job, and Internet dating, all the while trying to keep her four teenagers out of jail.

There’s been a change of plans, and that’s just the beginning.

Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble


My Review
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

When I picked up this book, I didn't quite know what to expect. I like reading memoirs, particularly those that inspire me. I'm not divorced or dating so would this book appeal to me? The word that struck me in the title is "mid-life". That's what I'm going through right now. So I will tell you right off the bat that I laughed so hard reading this book because, surprisingly, I could relate to so much of what Amy was going through.

I read this book in one day. It's easy to read and Amy writes like she is talking to her best friend. She lays it all bare, no holds barred about the pain and hurt when her husband left her for a younger woman. She is brutally honest and deep inside, as a woman, I was sometimes shocked at what she admitted, but was glad she admitted it, because then one feels less alone, making me think "What? I'm not the only one who's struggling with that?" It made me like her because as open as I am I don't think I could have disclosed what she did. On the other hand, her self-deprecating humor was refreshing. Thank you, girlfriend for making me laugh!

Amy is also Jewish. I have friends who are Jewish (Amy reminds me of one in particular who has the same sense of humor) and I've worked in a Jewish community center so I know that Jews and Italians are so alike. We joke about it. Her incident of going out with Greg the doctor had me in stitches. You'll have to read her memoir to know exactly what I'm talking about. There's nothing boring about this book. It kept my interest throughout and I wished it was longer.  

If you are a woman going through mid-life, or a divorce, or in need of a change or a pick-me up, then you will love reading this book. I must warn you, though, there is a good amount of profanity, especially the f-word in all its formats. Now that I'm done with the book, I'll have to go on over to read her blog because, seriously, laughter is good for you. And Amy gets being a woman who is growing old is a society that glorifies youth and beauty.

Kudos to you, Amy for turning your life around and valuing your worth both as a woman and a mother.

To read more reviews, please visit Amy Koko's page on iRead Book Tours.

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending me this book for review. I was not told how to rate or review this product.


About the Author:



After 27 years of marriage, Amy Koko went into divorce, kicking, screaming, stalking and drunk texting but lived to tell about it. She is the creator of the popular blog Exwifenewlife and a contributor to Huffington Post Divorce as well as Huffington Post Women. Amy lives in St. Petersburg, Florida where she begins each day with a freshly ground cup of good coffee and ends it with a good glass of pinot noir. Or chardonnay. Or a dirty martini. Whatever's handy.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook


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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Time and Regret by M.K. Tod (Review and Giveaway)


Book Details:

Book Title: Time and Regret by M.K. Tod
Category: Adult fiction,  366 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release date: Aug 16, 2016
Content Rating: PG-14 (There is profanity and f-words throughout book, a few explicit sex scenes, and war violence)

Book Description:

When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long-buried family secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determined to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her…

Through her grandfather’s vivid writing and Grace’s own travels, a picture emerges of a man very unlike the one who raised her: one who watched countless friends and loved ones die horrifically in battle; one who lived a life of regret. But her grandfather wasn’t the only one harboring secrets, and the more Grace learns about her family, the less she thinks she can trust them.


Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Time and Regret is a well-written touching story with a dual timeline. Grace Hansen's story takes place in 1991 New York. She is a successful woman who works in marketing for an insurance company and is the mother of two teenage sons and dealing with her recent divorce. She finds a tackle box belonging to her late grandfather in the attic that contains his WWI diaries and a puzzle left for her to solve. This propels her to trace his footsteps by going to all the different towns and places in France where he served.

Time and Regret is also the story of Martin Devlin, Grace's grandfather, who in Feb 1915 enlisted in the war and goes from a young soldier to a grief-stricken hardened colonel after losing most of his friends and platoon on the field. Both stories alternate between chapters and are brought together toward the end as we come to realize that Martin has done something he regrets that he wants his granddaughter to rectify.

I became so immersed in this novel that I read it in two days. I enjoyed both stories but initially found Martin's story somewhat difficult as I felt that I was dropped into the war scenes and strategies and did not have time to get to know the characters. But soon enough, I was racing through the chapters because I was invested and wanted to know how the two stories would merge.

It is a testament to this author's writing skills that she could so easily transition from contemporary life in the sleepy towns of France to that of war-torn France in 1915. I thoroughly enjoyed traveling with Grace as she explored the war memorials in the towns where her grandfather experienced life in a totally different way. On the one hand we have a middle-aged woman at a pivotal point in her life who rediscovers herself and finds love again and on the other hand we have a young soldier living the hellish life month after month of sleeping in muddy trenches with the smell of rotting flesh and the constant sound of shells and gun fire directed at him.

Both stories brought out a variety of emotions in me. The beauty of quiet life in small French towns and the horror of war and the psychological impact it had on the men who fought relentlessly. The mystery of the puzzle that Martin left for Grace added intrigue, adventure and danger. The romance was well done and added spice to Grace's story.

I was so pleased to discover that M.K. Todd is a Canadian author. This is her third novel and I would now love to read her previous books. This book will be listed in my Best Reads of 2016 post. Highly recommended to lovers of historical fiction and women's fiction.

Buy the Book:

You can find it on Amazon.com,  Amazon.caAmazon.co.uk and other Amazon sites as well as Barnes & NobleIndieBound and Indigo (audio book only).

Disclosure: Thanks to the author and France Book Toursf or sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.


About the Author:




Time and Regret is M.K. Tod’s third novel. She began writing in 2005 while living as an expat in Hong Kong. What started as an interest in her grandparents’ lives turned into a full-time occupation writing historical fiction. Her novel Unravelled was awarded Indie Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society.

In addition to writing historical novels, she blogs about reading and writing historical fiction at http://www.awriterofhistory.com, reviews books for the Historical Novel Society and the Washington Independent Review of Books, and has conducted three highly respected reader surveys. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and is the mother of two adult children.

Please visit her website and her blog A Writer of History
Subscribe to her mailing list  or contact her at mktod [at] bell [dot] net

Follow her on Facebook and Twitter  on Goodreads and Pinterest

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Bossy Flossy by Paulette Bogan (Review, Author Interview and Giveaway!)




Book Details:

Book Title: Bossy Flossy by Paulette Bogan
Category: Children's fiction, 32 pages
Genre: children's picture book, social skills, friendship
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Release date: July 2016
Tour dates: Sept 1 to 30, 2016
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

Flossy is the bossiest girl around. She's bossy at home and she's bossy in school. She's bossy to her friends and she's bossy to her cat. Sometimes she's even bossy to her teacher! Flossy doesn't understand why no one will listen to her. One day, Flossy meets Edward, a boy who may be just as bossy as she is. Has Flossy finally met her match?

Buy the Book:  Amazon ~  Barnes and Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Chapters Indigo




Our Review

Reviewed by Laura Fabiani and her son Alessio


As soon as we received this book in the mail, we liked the look of it. A little redhead is on the front cover with a bossy stance. She's on her bed with her stuffed toys and it looks like she means business. I love it! I've taken that same stance when addressing my teen kids. And I'm a redhead! 

But seriously, this is the beauty with kidlit. It can touch both children and adults. So with the catchy title of this book and it's attractive front cover, my son and I dug in. Flossy is a bossy kid. She's also creative and smart but being bossy has consequences. When Flossy meets Edward, another child who is also bossy, she begins to understand what it's like to be bossed around and so does he. They begin to understand that giving consideration to others and their feelings is a good thing.

There were a few reasons why we loved this book. The first is that it had bright illustrations with pages that are filled with bold colors. It's perfect for the subject matter and Flossy's personality. We also liked that the author included inner dialogue in the form of dialogue bubbles. This was brilliant. The sentences are short but to the point making it easy for a young child to quickly pick up on the characters' feelings and to be able to relate.

Even a kid who isn't bossy could relate to Flossy's inner dialogue. What kid hasn't thought, "I'm trying to tell her something. She never listens to me." Just ask your kid. Actually, this book opened up dialogue between my son and I. I love books that do that. A parent can take advantage of Flossy's inner dialogue to ask their child if they've ever felt that way. The answers might be surprising!

Next we noticed that the author includes children of various backgrounds in her school setting. My son picked up on that right away. And having both a boy and a girl who are bossy is good so that any child can relate since being bossy is not a gender-related trait. Finally, we thought it very realistic that during the last scene, sometimes Flossy and Edward revert back to being bossy. No child (or adult) is perfect and even when we learn a good quality we can still struggle throughout our growing years to master it. Parents and educators can help children understand that learning new ways takes time but it's possible and attainable, even if at times we fall back to our old ways.

That last scene was quite funny actually and as a parent I found it touching and adorable. Flossy and Edward are holding hands as they are walking and arguing, and we can see that they've forged a friendship. My son and I recommend this book to parents, grandparents, teachers and educators.

To read more reviews, please visit Paulete Bogan's page on iRead Book Tours.

Disclosure: We received this book in exchange for an honest review. We were not told how to rate or review this book.

Our Interview with Paulette Bogan

Hi Paulette! My 12 year-old son Alessio who still likes to review kidlit, has read Bossy Flossy and we would love to chat with you briefly about your latest book.

Laura & Alessio: We've read tons of children's books and we can see this will be a winner. How did you come up with the story and the title? It's catchy.

I was a bossy child! I have three girls who are all bossy in their own way. I was watching an old home 
video of my oldest daughter, Sophia, when she was about six. She was trying to direct a play starring 
her two little sisters and the dog. Her sisters were having a great time, but not really listening. Sophia 
was very bossy, but also very clear about what she wanted. I could see her innocence and her 
directness, and her frustration in making what she wanted happen. I wanted to create a character 
that felt the same frustration. A character that had a strong personality and knew what she wanted, 
but didn’t always know how to communicate. A character that was bossy! Oh, and my grandfather 
used to call cousin Joan, Flossy!

My daughters when they were little!

Me!

Laura: I noticed you use inner dialogue to show young readers how the characters are feeling. Do you think that this is important in children's lit to validate feelings so that children can relate to the characters?

I talk to myself all the time. Always have. I just assume my characters will as well! I believe whether it’s through expressions, or actions, or inner dialogue it’s important to show how the character is feeling. Kids pick up on it right away!





Laura & Alessio: We noticed you make good use of bold colors in your illustrations. We like that. Did you choose to do this because you felt it would suit the storyline or because that is your trademark?

The colors certainly suit Flossy’s personality and Edward’s! The colors actually just seem to happen. I just had a feeling about how I wanted the book to look. Like in Virgil & Owen, I just felt pale blue and white. Snow and sky everywhere! Bossy Flossy needed to be bright and bold.




Laura: I've always liked strong female characters in books, whether children, YA or adult fiction. Flossy is such a character. How important do you think it is, in kidlit, to create believable characters who are strong?

I agree, Laura. I love strong characters. I think it is very important that authors create characters we can relate to as children, whether they are outspoken, or quiet and shy, as long as they grow and learn within the book. I was Harriet the spy! And I solved mysteries just like Nancy Drew (at least in my imagination I did!).

Alessio: What are your hobbies?

I like to jog, not very fast. I love crossword puzzles, but only easy ones, because I get frustrated very easily. I love to read! I don’t go anywhere without a book. I used to surf, but then I broke my leg. Reading is safer.



Alessio: How do you create your illustrations? Any special techniques?

I’m glad you asked, Alessio! Bossy Flossy is done in a new technique for me. I start out by painting the characters with ink and watercolor on watercolor paper.




Next I cut each character and some other elements out leaving a bit of a white border around them.





Then I use colored paper, and glue stick and collage it all together. The hardest part is cutting all the pieces out. It takes forever!





Laura: What were some of your favorite childhood books?

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene, I had the whole set!


Laura & Alessio: Favorite dessert?

Black and white milkshake from Hoffmann’s Ice Cream at the Jersey Shore! So thick you need a spoon.


  




Laura: If you could travel back in time, where would you go?

I wouldn’t go back. There’s no air conditioning. I’d go forward. I’d love to say, “Beam me up.”


(my wedding invitation)


Laura & Alessio: What would you like readers to take away from your books?
I’d like them to laugh and cuddle, read along, and say, “again!”



Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions!
Thank YOU!


About the Author:



Paulette Bogan admits she was bossy as a child. She is the author and illustrator ofVirgil & Owen, which was chosen as one of Bank Street Best Children's books of the Year 2016, Virgil & Owen Stick Together, which won a Mom's Choice Award Gold Medal for Picture Books, and Lulu The Big Little Chick, which won a Children's Choice Book Award. She lives in New York City with her husband, three daughters, and two dogs. They ALL think she is STILL bossy. But they've never told her to go to her room!

To find out more about Paulette Bogan, download cool activities and to check out new books go to www.paulettebogan.com.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook 



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