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Children's Book Reviews

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Children's Books: Waking up grumpy!

So it's back to school and back to waking up early for my kids. Although they are teens now and love sleeping in, my kids were never early birds but more like night owls, and you guessed it: they wake up grumpy. I loved both of these children's books because they address how to deal with that grumpy person in your life.:-)

Book Details:

Good Morning, Grumple
Written by Victoria Allenby
Illustrated by: Manon Gauthier
Published: April 23, 2017
Published by PajamaPress
Hardcover picture book: 24 pages
For children ages 1-3
Content rating: G

Book Description:

Not every child greets the new day with enthusiasm. Those who don’t are called Grumples, and they must be dealt with carefully. Sing very softly, tickle one pinky toe, kiss the scrunched-up forehead. And then a big hug and a singing rhyme to see in the day. Even Grumples cannot resist.

There are many going-to-bed books, but Good Morning, Grumple is a unique look at the celebration of morning. Manon Gauthier’s endearing collage illustrations capture the love between a mother and child, even in cranky moments. Parents will find Victoria Allenby’s droll story in verse to be a perfect accompaniment to the beginning of the day, and a gentle way to turn their own Grumples into children again.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani & Son

My son and I thought this book was absolutely adorable. And of course, we could both relate! He the grumpy morning kid who needed singing, caresses and hair ruffling before he staggered out of bed, and me trying to come up with gentle ways to wake him up for school.

The book uses rhyming verse as it tells of a mother who awakens her grumpy little one to a new day of sunshine and discovery. It is humorous, delightfully told and fun to read. It celebrates the love between a mother and her child. It makes difficult mornings easier to face. It made my son and I smile as we read it.

The illustrations which were created with paper collage and mixed media seemed almost 3D on some pages. They really popped out of the book. They looked like they've been drawn by a child, however. They were in earth toned colors, mainly browns, black, taupe, tan, beige. My son wasn't crazy about them. He loves art, drawing and coloring, even as a teen, but these child-like drawings by an adult (he would have been okay had they been drawn by a 5 year-old) did not appeal to him.

This book is perfect for little "grumples" who have a hard time getting up in the morning, and a good reminder to be creative and patient for parents whose job it is to make that transition smooth in the morning.

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher for 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:

Victoria Allenby has been writing poetry and stories for as long as she can remember. Her debut picture book, Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That, won the 2014 Preschool Reads Award and was nominated for the 2015 SYRCA Shining Willow Award. She has followed up the success of this debut with the critically acclaimed early reader Timo’s Garden and, in 2016, the lively picture book Rhino Rumpus. Victoria lives in Toronto, Ontario. Victoria’s website

About the Illustrator:

Montreal native Manon Gauthier is a self- taught illustrator and visual artist who studied graphic design and worked in that field for more than fifteen years. She has won several important prizes and nominations for her work, among them, four nominations for the Governor General’s Literary Awards (illustration), Canada’s most prestigious annual literary prize and more recently her illustrations for the book « Mon parc » published at Les √©ditions de l’Isatis have been selected for the prestigious Illustrator’s exibition at the Bologna children’s Book fair 2014.


Book Details:

The Grumpy Crocodile
Written by Nigel Tetley
Illustrated by Simon Goodway
Published: April 1, 2017
Published by The Choir Press
Softcover picture book: 28 pages
For children ages 4-8
Content rating: G

Book Description:

What are the jungle creatures to do about a bad-tempered crocodile who is making their lives a misery because of his constant oversleeping? Find out in this amusing rhyming story for young readers.

My Review:

Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

The Grumpy Crocodile is a fun and amusing tale of a crocodile who makes the lives of the other jungle animals miserable when he oversleeps and wakes up grumpy, hungry and cold. But the animals put their heads together and devise a plan to solve this problem.

The book uses rhyming verse and is full of emotions describing the actions of a ferocious crocodile that is sure to catch the attention of young readers. The croc can be likened to a bully. The other animals are afraid of him but also want to play with him and figure out how to appease him. They use discernment to discover what is making the croc so grouchy and scary, and then work together to help the croc.

Teamwork, friendship and problem-solving are good themes to explore when reading this fun story aloud to children. Oversleeping rather than getting a good and fresh start to the day, is also a good lesson learned. The watercolour illustrations by Simon Goodway are simple and cute and depict the story well. Overall, a fun book with good themes!

Buy the Book:

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for 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:

Since qualifying as a Religious Studies teacher in 1989, Nigel Tetley has worked in a variety of schools, spanning middle and secondary age groups in both the State and independent sectors. At the beginning of his teaching career, he also spent a year in Greece teaching English as a second language. In 2001, he started writing children's poetry at the suggestion of a colleague. Since then he has also written the texts for three carols: 'Alchemy,' 'Snow,' and 'The Way of Paradox.' (Encore Publications, 2006.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Alycat and the Monday Blues by Alysson Foti Bourque (Review and Giveaway!)

What kid (or adult) doesn't experience the Monday blues? Alysson Foti Bourque addresses this in her new book in the Alycat series. Read our review and enter to win one of 5 prize packages!

Book Details:

Book Title: Alycat and the Monday Blues by Alysson Foti Bourque
Illustrations by: Chiara Civati
Category: Children's Fiction, 32 pages
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Publisher: Mascot Books
Release date: Sept 12, 2017
Tour dates: Sept 18 to Oct 6, 2017
Content Rating: G (appropriate for all audiences)

Book Description:

Alycat wakes up with the dreaded Monday Blues and is certain that nothing will go right. But when a mishap sends her astray, she discovers that helping a friend will help her discover her own hidden talent—curing her Monday Blues.

Our Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani & Son

I have two kids and we know all about the Monday Blues. After a fun weekend at home, it's hard to go back to school. My kids are teens now and they still experience the Monday Blues. Both my son and I thought this was a great topic to address in children's literature. He's always experienced anxiety regarding school.

Alycat is adorable. She is worried because she doesn't have a talent for the talent show and this weighs on her mind. But then she helps out another classmate with his talent and she discovers her talent. Music is a big part of a child's life and I'm glad the author incorporated this in the story. Music can uplift one's spirits and most kids can relate to Alycat's problem. The words of the song address this, showing children that what may seem like a bad situation can be turned around.

The illustrations by Chiara Civati are fun and bright. Children who love cats will enjoy the cute faces of the different types of kitties that represent well the different nationalities one may find in a classroom. The song included in the book has a funky blues beat that can be downloaded using the card that comes with the book. We listened to the song and thought it was fun and upbeat, making this a fun addition to the book.

Alycat and the Monday Blues is the second book of a new series that promises to be fun and educational for children. It's a perfect book to add to the library of daycares and early elementary classes.

To read reviews, please visit Alysson Foti Bourque's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:
Watch the book trailer:

Meet the Author:

Alysson Foti Bourque is the author of the Rhyme or ReasonTravel series, and the multi-award winning Alycat series. Alysson received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a law degree from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge. She believes that there is an Alycat in all of us, encouraging our imaginations to guide us through new opportunities and adventures. ​

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

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Ends Oct 14

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Sky Throne by Chris Ledbetter (Review, Author Interview & Giveaway!)

Today, I'm kicking off the tour for Chris Ledbetter's latest fantasy novel. Scroll down to read my review and my interview with the author. And be sure to enter the giveaway to win this book and an Amazon gift card!

Book Details:

Book Title: The Sky Throne by Chris Ledbetter
Category: YA Fiction, 300 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Month 9 Books
Release date: April 18, 2017
Tour dates: Sept 18 to Oct 20, 2017

Content Rating: PG + M (No f-words but there may be some mild profanity, and mild religious expletives such as "damn", "hell" and "Oh God!", some depictions of violence. No drug use or underage drinking. Some semi-mature themes - suggestion of sexual misconduct by certain characters, but not the actual performing of it.)

Book Description:

Duality dwells at every turn, and an adolescent Zeus will learn that all too well when Hyperion attacks his family on Crete.

When the dust settles, his mother is unconscious and his best friend left for dead.

Stacking epic insult upon fatal injury, Zeus discovers the woman who raised him is not his biological mother. But to ensure her safety while she recovers, a heavy-hearted Zeus leaves her behind to seek answers at Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia.

Zeus embarks on a quest to discover who ordered the attack on his home, avenge the death of his friend, and find his birth mother. When some of his new schoolmates vanish, Zeus's quest is turned upside down, and the only way to make things right is to access the power of The Sky Throne, confront a most dangerous enemy, and take his life back.

On his way to becoming king of the Greek gods, Zeus will learn to seize power, neutralize his enemies, and fall in love.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

In 2015, I read Chris Ledbetter's Drawn and loved the unique setting and characters so much they made it on my list of Best YA Reads of 2015. It was a really cool book. What did I think of this latest release?

The story in The Sky Throne is based on Greek mythology, a YA rendition of a young Zeus and his adventures as he attends Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia and discovers who he is. I am familiar with some Greek mythology but reading this book made me research Zeus to learn more about him.

The author introduced a good cast of characters, and initially it was hard to keep them all straight but eventually as the plot unfolds, it became easier to keep track. Including a character list at the beginning of the book would have been helpful since each character also has a nickname. Zeus is young and hot-tempered. He wants to avenge his friend's death and find his birth mother. He lacks maturity and discipline but is courageous and bold. He comes across as a typical teen and is likable for his sense of justice and ability to see the good in others.

After a strong start to the novel, the action slows a little as we are introduced to the other students at the Academia. There are a few scenes that feel like a high school soap opera, until the action picks up again as the students set out on a quest to look for their missing classmates. I loved how the teens worked together, each with their own distinct character traits and abilities, infusing some comic relief too. Ledbetter has a great way of describing the action and emotional scenes with shapeshifting, dragons, teleporting, fireshooting, energy bending and more! He really made these scenes come alive for me.

The Sky Throne has a satisfying ending but left room for a sequel, which I believe is to be released spring of 2018. I'm looking forward to continuing this saga!

To read reviews, please visit Chris Ledbetter'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.

Buy the Book:

Watch the Trailer: 

Interview with Chris Ledbetter:

LCR: Welcome to Library of Clean Reads, Chris! Can you describe your book in 20 words or less?

CL: This Zeus origin tale re-imagines the Greek gods as teens in a story loosely based on Hesiod’s Theogony.

LCR: What made you want to write a novel with characters from Greek mythology?

CL: I have always loved Greek myths. The very first novel I ever wrote was also based heavily in Greek mythology. But it centered on mortals, and then having the gods intervene, as they were wont to do. In THE SKY THRONE, I sought to tell a story of the deities themselves, bring life to my version of their origins.

LCR: Who is your favorite hero in Greek mythology?

CL: Heracles is definitely my favorite hero. The Twelve Labors are epic!

LCR: What feedback have you received from your readers that has made you happy you wrote this book?

CL: I’ve had readers tell me that they loved some of the secondary characters, and that I really made them come alive on the page. Some friends really loved the way I made the gods relatable. I’ve also had Greek friends of mine tell me that I nailed the descriptions of place and cultural markers.

LCR: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book? The easiest?

CL: The most challenging was definitely the ensemble cast and ensuring that each character was drawn three-dimensionally and that they held their own and carried their own weights.

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

CL: I have two destinations… I’d love to see Ancient Alexandria in Egypt. In particular, I’d visit the Library and the Lighthouse. Secondly, I’d want to visit Ancient Rome at the height of the Roman Empire. I’d want to stroll around the forum and temples and of course attend gladiatorial bouts in the Colosseum.

LCR: What is the funniest (or strangest, or scariest) incident that has ever happened to you?

CL: When I was two years old, I pushed out the screen to a second floor window and fell two floors to the ground.

Also… when I was 7 or 8, I went to a summer wilderness type camp. I was sleeping on the top bunk. All of a sudden the camp counselor was shaking me about the shoulders asking me to get up. I looked around and I was in the middle of the floor. Apparently, I had rolled off the top bunk in my sleep… and remained asleep.

This is probably why I have a fear of heights. Haha.

LCR: Can you share with us some of your favorite authors and what you are currently reading?

CL: I love Laini Taylor, James Dashner, Heather Petty, Tracy Clark, Suzanne Collins, Carrie Ryan, Liz Crowe, Paolo Coelho

I’m currently reading Lightstruck by Liz Crowe. I love her work.

LCR: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me!

Meet the author:

Chris Ledbetter is an award-winning author of short fiction and novels for young adults. “Jason’s Quest,” a short story retelling of the Jason and Medea Greek myth was published in the anthology, Greek Myths Revisited. His first full-length novel, Drawn earned him two awards, Library of Clean Reads Best YA 2015 and Evernight Publishing Readers’ Choice Award Best YA 2015, as well as a USA TODAY “Must Read” recommendation. His second novel, Inked, concludes that duology. The Sky Throne is his newest young adult novel. The second book in the series is set to release in 2018.

He's a proud member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and a strong supporter of the Need for Diverse Books. He now writes and lives in Wilmington, NC with his family, including three cats.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ facebook ~ Pinterest

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Oct 28

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Nomad's Premonition by Georges Benay (Review and Giveaway)

Eric Martin is desperate to forget his past, one that almost cost him his future. Can he put an end to the nightmare?

Book Details:

Book Title: The Nomad's Premonition by Georges Benay
Category: Adult Fiction, 240 pages
Genre: Thriller, mystery/suspense
Publisher: Story Merchant Books
Release date: April 28, 2017
Tour dates: August 14 to September 15, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 (some violence, a couple of swear words - minimal)

Book Description:

Eric Martin is desperate to forget his past, one that almost cost him his future.

Working in Paris as deputy head of a bank's internal security department, Eric notices a high-speed trader's uncanny ability to predict extremely profitable trades. Even though there's nothing illegal about the activity, he knows the trader's success is more than just luck.

But, no one believes him. Armed only with a handful of data and a powerful instinct, Eric searches for the mysterious trader on his own. He suspects that a predictive algorithm has fallen into the wrong hands.

Eric sets off for Istanbul to find answers promised to him by an informant. He finds an unlikely ally in Interpol agent Stephanie Brule. With Interpol wanting him back in Paris and out of the way, Eric's quest is also hampered by the sudden appearance of his ex-lover, a boss he's not sure he can trust, and a terrorist who always seems one step ahead.

Will Eric put an end, once and for all, to the nightmare that began when he accepted a job that was too good to be true? Or will his need for revenge and justice lead him deeper into a treacherous world he has no way of escaping?

Buy the Book: 

My Review:
Reviewed by Sandra Olshaski

This is the follow-up to Nomad on the Run and although it can be read as a stand-alone book, I was glad that I had been introduced to the characters and the plot in that book.

Three years have passed and protagonist Eric Martin is a sad, broken man. He barely escaped with his life fleeing Kurdish terrorists, losing friends and loved-ones in the process. Eric is no longer the confident man we saw in book one. Life has changed for him. He is unsettled – "the fear of not ever getting back his sense of self had suppressed his zest for life." The reader now finds him in Paris, still in banking, but this time in the internal security department. When he becomes aware of unusual trading that unfailingly profits a mysterious trader, he sets out to investigate.

Once again he is trapped in a crisis, becoming an unwilling action hero. Eric's fear is that the trader is using the predictive algorithm software described in the first book to disrupt financial stability. That search takes him from Paris to the Cote d'Azur, to Istanbul to the underground cities of Cappadocia in Turkey. Exotic to say the least. The descriptions of Istanbul, the Blue Mosque and the Bosporus made me want to visit.

Each character in this book is complex and hiding secrets. His once-trusted boss, Alain Petit, is not who he seems to be. His one ally is Stephanie Brule, an Interpol agent.

The Nomad's Premonition is more than a fast-paced action novel. The author obviously is well acquainted with and understands complex international financial dealings and he writes convincingly of the exotic places Eric visits. Obviously, he is very familiar with all of it. The plot-line is true to life in our modern world, from corrupt wheeling and dealing to international terrorism. It's authentic. This is basically a clean read, with the exception of a few expletives.

I believe the author left a cliff-hanger so I'm looking forward to the next creative, exciting installment.

To read more reviews, please visit Georges Benay's page on iRead Book Tours.

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for 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:

Georges Benay
Georges Benay is a former international banker who is now working as a Toronto-based writer and award-winning photographer. He is the author of two novels, including The Nomad's Premonition and a collection of short stories. His award winning pictures have been featured in several magazines and book covers.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Photography Website ~ Twitter

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Sept 23

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Blackout by Lawrence Johnson Sr. (Book Spotlight & Audiobook Giveaway!)

Today I'm kicking off Lawrence Johnson's latest thriller that's also been released in audiobook. So if you love audiobooks, be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win one of 4 Audible audiobooks!

Book Details:

Book Title: Blackout by Lawrence Johnson Sr.
​Category: Adult Fiction; 126 pages
​Genre: Mystery, Crime, Detective
Publisher: Self-published
Release date: March 2011
Tour dates: Sept 11 to 22, 2017
Content Rating: PG

Audiobook Details:

Release Date:07-13-17
Publisher: Lawrence Johnson Sr.
Written by: Lawrence Johnson Sr.
Narrated by: Alistair Dryburgh
Length: 4 hrs and 9 mins
Series: Alexander Steele Mysteries, Book 1
Unabridged Audiobook

Book Description:

Alexander Steele is a private detective turned night club owner in the city of Philadelphia. Steele and his longtime girlfriend Shakia's plans for him to retire are derailed when his cousin brings him an encrypted travel drive. The drive is opened by Steele's hacker friend Stan. A few days earlier every transformer in Canada had been shut down by the terrorist. The drive in Steele's possession gave details as to how the event would happen. What made it even more frightening was that the documents on the drive were created 3 months before the actual event; Steele finds himself drawn into the well-crafted mind games of a madman known as Chameleon an American terrorist.

His goal is to shut down the country by collapsing the economy of the United States. From the snow cover streets of Montreal to the tropical beaches of Nassau Steele follows a trail of clues and dead bodies. As he gathers more puzzle pieces Steele inches closer hoping to reveal and thwart the plot to bring down the U S government. He finds himself narrowly surviving constant attempts on his life. The dramatic face-off between Steele and Chameleon takes place in downtown Philadelphia. How will it end? Find out in Blackout, now on Audible.

Buy the Book:

​Watch the Trailer:

Meet the Author:

Born and raised in the city of Brotherly Love I have been writing for nearly 10 years. I am the author of the 2012 scifi novel Escape 2 Earth. In early 2009 I completed the second installment in the the Escape 2 Earth trilogy called Return 2 Earth also several short stories including a fantasy story titled Dimensions in Time and a sci fi story titled Planet of Doom.

In 2011 I completed my first detective novel called Blackout. Before writing Escape 2 Earth I began putting together a collection of inspirational and motivational quotes titled Observations from the Edge of Society. I am currently working on the final book in the Escape 2 Earth series called Earth 2, Redemption which will be completed in 2017.

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

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Ends Sept 30

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sunday Post, Mailbox Monday and It's Monday What Are You Reading? Sept 11 Edition

Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

It's still hard to believe that 16 years ago the twin towers fell...September is a crazy month for me with too many things scheduled. Thank goodness I'm reading some good books.

Mailbox Monday Edition

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.

My mailbox!
For review:

Life Long by Ronald L. Ruiz
Another good literary fiction by a brilliant author.

Play Like a Girl by Ellie Roscher
I love books that broaden my viewpoint of the world, especially social issues.

Alycat and the Monday Blues by Alysson Foti Bourque
Cats and music? Yeah...I'm in.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organise yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

What I read and/or featured last week:

Stop by and enter my giveaways!

Also posted on the right sidebar.

Hope you all have a great reading week.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Watcher (Book #1 Watcher Series) by AJ Eversley (Review & Giveaway!)

AJ Eversley's debut novel in the Watcher series is a strong start to an exciting dystopian series that promises to be a thrilling trilogy. Read my review and make sure to enter the giveaway to win books, swag and a $15 Amazon gift card!

Book Details:

Book Title: Watcher - Book One in the Watcher Series by AJ Eversley
Category: YA Fiction, 300 pages
Genre: Scifi Dystopian
Publisher: Self-published
Release date: March, 2017
Tour dates: Sept 4 to 29, 2017
Content Rating: PG (​No swearing or explicit sex scenes...there are kissing or romantic scenes that are considered PG. The word Hell or Damn is used only a few times.)

Book Description:

"I knew I was not alone. They would never leave until every last one of us was gone." Sawyer Russo has sworn to protect humanity, and as a Watcher she’s done just that. But the Bots and Carbons that took her city are evolving, and they start picking the Watchers off one by one. One last rescue mission will change everything. When someone betrays them, the line between friend and foe is no longer easily drawn. Sawyer made a vow, and she will fulfill it, even if it means ending the person who deceived them, no matter who it might be. It all comes down to one choice... Who can she save? And who does she have to let go?

Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

AJ Eversley's debut novel in the Watcher series is a strong start to an exciting dystopian series that promises to be a thrilling trilogy. I was pulled in right from the first page as we are introduced to Sawyer, a toughened 17 year-old girl trained as a Watcher to protect humanity from the Bots and Carbons that have taken over her city. But things are changing for the worst and Sawyer discovers the truth about what the enemy is truly after even as she gets caught up with Kenzie, a boy with a mysterious past.

I was truly impressed that this is Eversley's first novel. She succeeds in creating a dystopian world, strong compelling characters with complex issues and a plot that is well executed. Sawyer is one kick-ass girl with a big heart that is shielded because of her traumatic experience of losing both parents at a young age. Kenzie is less transparent, with more mystery surrounding him. Together, they propel the story forward and add a touch of romance to their seemingly doomed existence.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel with its unpredictable storyline, rich action and likable characters. And I also loved that it's a clean read. Yes, there is fighting and killing (mainly of non-humans), but the scenes are not gory. The ending left me wanting to read the second book Carbon right away. So look out for my review on Sept 21. In addition, the author has two novellas titled Kenzie and Max that tell the backstory of these two characters. They are currently free on Amazon and other retailers, and I just downloaded my copies. I'm invested in this trilogy, written by this Canadian author with talent.

If you like dystopian novels, you will definitely enjoy this one. This one is an Indie gem!

To read more reviews, please visit AJ Eversley'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.
Buy the Book:

Watch the Trailer:

Meet the Author:

AJ Eversley is the author of the WATCHER series. A true north Canadian girl, AJ currently lives in Central Alberta with her husband and dog. When she’s not writing, she can be found binge watching Harry Potter, quoting various movies in every day conversation, and eating copious amounts of candy.

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

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Ends Oct 7

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Overwhelmed Writer Rescue by Colleen M. Story (Review, Author Interview & Giveaway!)

The minute I saw the title of this book I knew I wanted to read it. I've been trying to write my second book but with owning my own business and raising two teens, life is hectic to say the least. Well, this one is a must-read for writers and chock-full of useful advice and tips. Check out my review and fun interview with the author. Want to win a copy? Enter the giveaway below.

Book Details:

Book Title: Overwhelmed Writer Rescue: Boost Productivity, Improve Time Management, and Replenish the Creator Within
Author: Colleen M. Story
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 280 pages
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: Midchannel Press
Release date: Sept 3, 2017
Tour dates: Sept 4 to 15, 2017
Content Rating: G

Book Description:


Do you feel like you’re always behind? Do less important tasks frequently flood your schedule and sink your creative motivation? Are you frustrated and out of touch with your inner artist?

After 20 years experience in the writing industry, author Colleen M. Story extends a lifeline to pull you out of the sinking swamp of “busyness” and back into the flourishing creative life you deserve.

Today’s demands on writers and other creative artists are overwhelming. Not only must you produce the work you love, but build and maintain a platform and market your finished products to the world—all while holding down a day job and/or caring for a family.

You teeter on the edge. What waits on the other side are burnout, exhaustion, and a complete loss of creative motivation.

"Overwhelmed Writer Rescue" provides practical, personalized solutions to help beginning and experienced writers and other creative artists escape the tyranny of the to-do list to nurture the genius within. You’ll find ways to boost productivity, improve time management, and restore your sanity while gaining insight into your unique creative nature and what it needs to thrive.

Ultimately, you’ll discover what may be holding you back from experiencing the true joy that a creative life can bring.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

The minute I saw the title of this book I knew I wanted to read it. I've been trying to write my second book but with owning my own business and raising two teens, life is hectic to say the least. Although this book is written primarily with the writer in mind, the advice and tips are useful to any person or creative artist who wants to embark on a creative project and "reconnect with the joy of the creative process". In my case, the author has succeeded in doing this, and doing it well. I felt motivated and inspired as I read this self-help book.

The book is divided into 4 parts. The introduction helps one to understand time wasters and what can rob of us of making full use of our creativity. The second part is all about how to increase our productivity with most of the advice useful to anyone. In part 3, the author tackles what she calls saboteurs, 7 things that can get in the way of our motivation, those unconscious things like perfectionism (my problem) and self-doubt. And finally, in the fourth part, the author continues to help us not give up even when we fail.

This book is chock-full of information. I had to read it in bits so that I could assimilate the info and put it into practice. I realized early on that the information and exercises were extremely useful in boosting my current work productivity and managing my work and personal time better. I'm happy to say that I was already implementing some of the useful advice, but I learned quite a bit too. I especially loved the chapter on training the brain to focus better and faster. I've practiced the concept of chunking but this chapter really brought the benefits to light.

I appreciated that the author backed up her info by including studies, stats and references which is included in the back of the book. She also quotes other books on the same topic. Clearly, the author has done her research. I have a background in psychology and loved learning this info.  I am truly impressed with this book. It is well-written, comprehensive and above all, very practical and useful for writers and anyone who wants to make better use of their time and energy.

Overwhelmed Writer Rescue is the must-read guide for writers, creative artists and anyone who is determined to accomplish their dreams. It is one of the best resource books I've read on this topic, and I highly recommend it to anyone who dreams of writing a book, starting their creative project or just managing their time better. A keeper on my bookshelf, this book will continue to motivate and inspire me as I dip into it again and again.

To read reviews, please visit Colleen M. Story'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.

My Interview with Colleen M. Story:

LCR: Hi Colleen, welcome to Library of Clean Reads! I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to read and review a second book by you. I loved Loreena's Gift, which I read last year, and as a writer myself, I was very excited by your new nonfiction book Overwhelmed Writer Rescue. Can you describe your book in 20 words or less?

CMS: Thanks, Laura! Very kind of you to mention my last novel, and I’m so glad you liked it. The book in a few words: Boost productivity, improve time management, and restore your sanity while gaining insight into your unique creative nature and what it needs to thrive.

LCR: What makes your book for writers different from other writer resource books currently on the market?

CMS: There are a lot of writing books out there that focus on things like plot, characterization, and setting, all facets of the writing craft that we need to learn. There are also many that talk about creativity, and self-publishing, and marketing.

But I felt there was a huge gap in addressing a writer’s struggle to find time, energy, and motivation for her craft in a world that is moving faster and faster every day. We all have so much to do, and we’re finding it more and more difficult to come up with the time and mental focus that’s required to produce our creative work. On top of that, many of us are dealing with productivity saboteurs like self-doubt, workaholism, and perfectionism, and we don’t even realize how much they inhibit our progress.

Overwhelmed Writer Rescue is a resource that helps writers and other creative artists to get back on track, find new balance in their lives, and learn how to get around their own demons so they can get the work done. I see it as a sort of in-home coach that gets writers past distractions and overbooked schedules so they can truly focus on their creative priorities.

LCR: What do you hope to accomplish with this new book?

I want to help writers and other creative artists restore themselves to themselves. Since I started my blog, Writing and Wellness, back in 2014, I’ve found that my readers were really stressed. Not only were they struggling to find time to write, but they were having a hard time balancing writing with marketing, and writing with child rearing, and writing with caregiving, and writing with the day job.

All these other things in our lives can take us away from our creative selves. And that not only slows our progress on our creative projects, but it hurts us as individuals, because it makes it less likely we’ll reach our full potential.

We’re all here to give the very best of ourselves, and those who have a creative calling owe it to themselves and those around them to answer that calling to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, that can be extremely difficult in today’s world. My hope is that the book offers a helping hand as well as a needed push to inspire creatives to fashion a life that will allow their talents to blossom.

LCR: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

CMS: This book actually came quite easily, as far as the writing goes. I had been studying and researching the concepts for a couple years, so when I finally started to put them together the words flowed pretty quickly.

The research interests me, too, so I didn’t find that aspect difficult. Probably the hardest part was coming up with a title that I thought would speak to readers and adequately encompass what I was trying to do with the book. It took me months and lots of back and forth, but I’m happy with the final result.

LCR: If you were to give writers one piece of advice what would it be?

CMS: Realize that you are called to write for a reason, and that it probably has more to do with fulfilling your own potential and becoming the best person you can be than it does with selling a lot of books or making a lot of money.

Writing or any other creative art, if we pursue it wholeheartedly, requires a lot from us, and in the return we learn a ton. We grow and we stretch and we become until all of a sudden we look back and go, “Wow, I didn’t really expect I’d do all that!” It can help us expand in ways we never expected, and I think that’s the most beautiful part of it.

LCR: Any funny, strange or embarrassing moments you've experienced as a writer that you want to share?

CMS: I took my mom on a trip from Iowa to California, partially to research my new novel, and partially just to spend some quality time. It was amusing to see the look on her face whenever I wanted to go somewhere a little offbeat. I had already drafted the novel, so I had some locations in particular that I wanted to check out. One was a caf√© that looked like a run-down trailer with a parking lot full of Harleys—suffice to say my mom was a little hesitant to go in there! But the food was awesome and the people super friendly so it all worked out great.

Then I took her to a hospital and insisted we go inside so I could see what it was like, as I had a scene that was going to take place there. We both felt like criminals sneaking around the halls, but we made it to the top floor where we were greeted with some great views overlooking the city. Still, my mom breathed a sigh of relief when we left.

The biggest challenge came when I needed to research a casino in Reno. Drifting through as looky-loos wasn’t a problem, but we were told in strict terms there were to be no pictures taken in the gambling section. There were even signs up warning against it. But I desperately wanted a picture of the blackjack table, where I planned another scene.

I tried to “hang around” without looking too suspicious, burning the scene into my memory, but the dealer started to glare at me. Just as I was moving on I heard a soft click behind me. My mom managed to take a couple shots totally undetected! I don’t know how she did it, but we emerged victorious feeling like two undercover journalists researching a dangerous murder mystery or something. I wouldn’t recommend anyone else try this, but as they say, researching a book is fun!

LCR: Any future projects you want to share?

CMS: I’m working on my next novel, entitled The Beached Ones. I’ve been working on it for a few years now. It’s the most difficult project I’ve tackled so far, but it has an important place in my heart, so I’m pushing forward and hope to have a finished project next year.

I’m also already thinking about my next non-fiction book, but I’ve promised myself that I’ll finish the novel first!

LCR: Here's a fun one: If you could travel back in time, where would you go?

CMS: That’s a tough one for me, as I tend to look forward much more than I look back, but the first thing that springs to mind is that I’d like to go back to a time when my grandma was alive. She was an Irish lady who lived in a farmhouse in upper state New York, and since I grew up in Colorado, I got to see her only about once every year. The trips my family made back there were full of adventure, and the time we spent together was magical in many ways.

I experienced a lot of firsts at Grandma’s house—my first sighting of lightning bugs, my first homemade raft, my first time getting lost in a forest, my first discovery of a remote family cemetery, and even my first date. I’d love to experience one of those trips again, and just sit down and share a meal or play a game of cards with Grandma. That would be really cool.

LCR: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me!

CMS: Thank you, Laura! I so appreciate your amazing book tours, and your overall experience and expertise. You’re a treasured resource for writers!

Buy the Book:

About the Author:

Colleen M. Story has worked in the creative writing industry for over twenty years. Her novels include "Loreena’s Gift," an Idaho Author Awards first place winner, New Apple Solo Medalist winner, Foreword Reviews INDIES Book of the Year Awards winner, Reader Views award finalist, and Best Book Awards finalist; and "Rise of the Sidenah," a North American Book Awards winner and New Apple Book Awards Official Selection.

As a health writer, she’s authored thousands of articles for publications like "Healthline" and "Women’s Health;" worked with high-profile clients like Gerber Baby Products and Kellogg’s; and ghostwritten books on back pain, nutrition, and cancer recovery. She finds most rewarding her work as a motivational speaker and workshop leader, where she helps writers remove mental and emotional blocks and tap into their unique creative powers.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness (, a motivational site helping writers and other creative artists maintain their physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being throughout their careers. Sign up for your free weekly email containing tips for living your best creative life at: www.writingandwellness/newsletter.

To find more information on Colleen and her work, please see her website or follow her on Twitter. She loves to hear from readers—feel free to use the “contact” form on either her website or Writing and Wellness to get in touch with her.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter

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Monday, September 4, 2017

Journey's End: Death, Dying and the End of Life by Victoria Brewster & Julie Saeger Nierenberg (Book Spotlight, Author Interview & Giveaway)

Today, I'm kicking off the tour for an important book. Death is not a topic we prefer to discuss but it's an important subject to talk about to help dignify the dying process and help with grieving. Check out my interview with the authors and enter to win a copy today.

Book Details:

Book Title: Journey's End: Death, Dying and the End of Life
Authors: Victoria Brewster & Julie Saeger Nierenberg
​Category: Adult Non-Fiction; 558 pages
​Genre: Resource/Educational
Publisher: Xlibris
Release date: July 20, 2017
Tour dates: Sept 4 to 22, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M

Book Description:

In Journey's End, we write about death, dying, and end of life issues. We attempt to define and describe these real-life circumstances, and we discuss ways to proactively deal with them. Multiple personal and professional perspectives provide valuable insights.

What is dying like for dying persons, for loved ones, and for those who lend support in the process? Each experience will have unique qualities. Everyone dies in his own way, on his own schedule. While we explore the dying process, we make no assumptions about how any particular death will unfold.

Grief and bereavement support, training tools, and educational resources are included.

Interview with the Authors:

LCR: Victoria and Julie, welcome to Library of Clean Reads! We love to showcase good nonfiction books, especially those that we feel are needed in our society. What was your purpose in writing this book?

VK & JSN: Our purpose in writing this book is it does not exist. There is no other book like it on the market. There are many books that cover various topics about death, dying, end of life, grief, bereavement, hospice, palliative care, but from one angle or perspective.

This book covers so many perspectives in one book and at 500 pages is a very comprehensive book.

LCR: How did you collaborate to write this book together?
VB & JSN: Victoria met Julie while reviewing the book Julie wrote about the experience of her father dying; Daddy this is it: Being-with My Dying Dad.

Julie and Victoria realized they had common interests and a common path to bring the topic of death and dying into a more acceptable and accepted perspective. Both had experienced death from both personal and professional avenues and were comfortable to discuss and write a book about the topic.

LCR: How is your book different from other books on the subject of death and dying?
VB & JSN: We looked in book stores, online, did a lot of research and noticed there was no one comprehensive book about death and dying. Journey’s End has multiple personal, professional, and societal perspectives. There are many quotes and resources to serve as tools on the subject related to death and dying education, professional training, and grief and bereavement support.

LCR: What is the best advice you can give to family members when it comes to facing or preparing for the end of life?

VB & JSN: Have discussions. Be open and honest with one another. Plan as much as possible; wills, advance care directives. Think about what you would want if you were to be diagnosed with a serious illness or disease. Do you want a funeral? Do you want a celebration of life ceremony before so you can hear what your friends and family would say about you? Do you want a typical funeral and burial? Do you want to be cremated? Who will pay for this?

LCR: Any more future projects together?

Yes! We have already begun book 2 as we call it which will focus on death and dying from cultural, ethnic, and religious perspectives. We are aiming for a Summer 2018 publication.

LCR: That sounds like another important book. Thanks for your hard work in writing books about topics that need to be discussed.

Meet the Authors:

Victoria has a master of social work degree. She has worked as a case manager with older adults for the past seventeen years and as a group facilitator. Her past work experience was as a therapist with children and families, and as a case manager for adults with mental health issues. She just launched a consulting business, NorthernMSW to focus on end of life issues, planning, training, and advocacy, along with memoir writing and life legacy writing.

Julie was inspired equally by her professional backgrounds as a biomedical researcher and long time educator. Julie values open and lively discussions based on interview and research findings, trends in health and wellness, and exciting new modalities of treatment and professional education. She believes it will be through such discussions that we will create new and more satisfying cultural paradigms within which we may live all the days of our lives with dignity and quality of care.

Connect with the authors:  Website ~ Facebook ~ LinkedIn

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