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Monday, January 16, 2017

RootBeer Candy and Other Miracles by Shari Green (Review)


Written in light and lyrical free verse, Shari Green’s warm and wistful novel brings Bailey face to face with both hard and beautiful truths about growing up and growing into her own ability to shape the world.

Book Details:

RootBeer Candy and Other Miracles by Shari Green
PajamaPress
Middle Grade Fiction
Published: Sept 9, 2016
Softcover, 240 pages
Content: G


Book Description:

Eleven-year-old Bailey believes in miracles. She has to; it will take a miracle to keep her warring parents together. This summer they are at a Marriage Counselling camp, leaving Bailey and her little brother Kevin with their estranged grandmother in the island town of Felicity Bay. There, an eccentric deposed minister makes a prophecy that a stranger from the sea will change everything. When Bailey discovers a mermaid-shaped piece of driftwood, she begins to believe that the mermaid is this stranger from the sea. Then, when a dolphin becomes stranded on the beach, Bailey forgets her own troubles and rouses the reluctant locals into action.

Written in light and lyrical free verse, Shari Green’s warm and wistful novel brings Bailey face to face with both hard and beautiful truths about growing up and growing into her own ability to shape the world.

Buy the Book: Amazon.ca  ~  Amazon


My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

This is the first time I read a book in verse and I simply loved it. Although I no longer read middle grade fiction with my kids (they're teens now) I will read a middle grade book from time to time if it catches my interest. This one did right from the start.

With few words and lyrical prose, this richly written tale quickly drew me into 11 year-old Bailey's life. She and her little brother are spending the summer with a kind grandmother they barely know while her parents go through marriage counselling. Their grandmother lives in an island town called Felicity Bay where all the townsfolk know each other and some mysterious things are happening through the prophesies of the town's former minister turned ice-cream salesman.

The setting of the beach and ocean is almost like a character in this novel, reminiscent of my own family's summers at Wildwood. Written in the first person through Bailey's point of view, we get to experience her coming-of-age view of learning the complexities of relationships, from her parents, to mother and daughter and even the townsfolk and each other. Bailey is such a lovely tween. She experiences wonder and touching moments as she forges a friendship with her grandmother and also the neighbouring boy who suffers from cystic fibrosis. She also experiences heartbreak as she tries to figure things out about her fighting parents.

It is a summer in which she will learns things about herself and about her family. She will learn that there are things she cannot change and things she can change and make a difference. I was impressed at how easily the author developed such unforgettable characters using free verse, all while building a great plot with excellent pacing.

I know I would have loved this book as a tween, and I highly recommend it. It's delightful and poignant and one of my favorite books so far of 2017.

Disclosure: Thanks to PajamaPress 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:



Shari Green writes Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. She’s in love with stories and the sea, and can often be found curled up with a good book and a cup of tea, or wandering the beaches near her home on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.

Connect with the Author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Tumblr   






Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Post, Mailbox Monday and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? Jan 16 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.

So it's back to the regular routine, working full time. The house is quiet again and my schedule is filled with activities all month long. Didn't get that much reading done this week.

Mailbox Monday



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.

I received these goodies for review in my mailbox:






Got it free on Kindle:




Bought this one on sale:



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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:

Friday, January 13, 2017

Gilding the Lily by Justine John (Review)


A gripping mystery of jealousy, murder and lies.

Book Details:

Gilding the Lily by Justine John
ISBN: 9781911079750
Published: November 24, 2016
Published by: I_AM Self-Publishing
e-book: 212 pages
Content rating: PG-13

Book Description:

A gripping mystery of jealousy, murder and lies. An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics. Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her… When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits' end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected…


My Review:
Reviewed by Sandra Olshaski


This fast-paced debut novel, a psychological thriller, captured me from the Shakesperean quote, to the introductory words and held my attention to the end. 

 "She looked around her. It was a warm, bright day in September, but there was an unusual wind – a hurricane was forecast. There were many head-stones here, and a few statues. Of angels mainly. Different colours but somehow the same hue. A few trees lined the perimeter fence, some bare, some evergreen. Beyond them the city buzzed – it went on with its day and didn’t notice anyone missing..."

I got a chill up my spine with those words that set the stage for the story.

The author has done a superb job of creating a suspenseful atmosphere, with surprising twists and peopled with complex characters, foremost among who is Evelyn, capturing the essence of Evelyn's "strangeness", for example. Even the humble "lily of the valley" flower takes on ominous overtones, adding to the mounting mystery.

I was highly disappointed in the gratuitous expletives and f-bombs peppered throughout the book. Otherwise it’s a well-written tale of jealousy, family dynamics, mystery and murder.

Sandra Olshaski's disclaimer: 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:



Justine John became a full-time writer in her late forties, after a successfully running various businesses in London. Her first novel, Gilding The Lily, is a domestic-noir suspense story. Animal lover Justine lives in the beautiful Surrey Hills with her husband, horses and hounds. Follow her on Twitter @justinecjohn.



Thursday, January 12, 2017

Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey (Review)


Fans of Jane Austen will be delighted by this witty and charming tale. It's a clean read with romance, mystery and humor.

Book Details:

Title: Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey
Category: YA Fiction
Genre: Historical / Romance
Publisher: Swoon Reads (Feiwel and Friends)
Published: April 19, 2016
Trade Paperback, 368 pages
Content rating: G

Book Description:

In Love, Lies and Spies, Cindy Anstey's hilarious homage to Jane Austen, a lady with a penchant for trouble finds a handsome spy much more than merely tolerable.

Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She's much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she's determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish her research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana's traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

Buy the Book:  Amazon



My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Every so often I love to read a good Regency novel and when it's YA historical, all the better. I didn't quite know what to expect from Love, Lies and Spies, and I am pleased to say I loved it. It was very well-written, with witty dialogue, an intelligent heroine who loves bugs (ladybugs to be exact, she actually studies them) and a swoon-worthy gallant spy.

Juliana Telford was sent by her benevolent father to live with her Aunt so that she can be introduced to the ton for her coming out and hopefully find a suitable husband. However, Juliana is not interested in procuring a husband. She, instead, has researched, along with her father, and documented her findings on ladybugs. Now, she hopes that her stay in London will afford her the time to look for a publisher.

Spencer Northam is a spy for the War Office and he meets Juliana during one of his lookout missions. He is taken in by her wit and lack of apologies for being different from the other young ladies. He too in uninterested in marriage, but his mission requires that he stay close to Juliana and her family and friends. How could he resist her guileless charm?

The author captures so well the feel, speech and setting of the Regency period. It was a delightful story that highlighted the fickleness of the beau monde when it came to proper manners and how quickly one's position can change in a society steeped in gossip and frivolous rituals. Juliana stood out because she was unconventional and dared to pursue a passion for entomology, which was considered unladylike, indeed.

Fans of Jane Austen will be delighted by this witty and charming tale. It's a clean read with romance, mystery and humor. I look forward to reading more from this author as I now count her among my favorite! 

Disclosure: Thanks to Raincoast Books 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:



Cindy Anstey spends her time writing and adventuring around the world. She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her backyard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French. Cindy loves history, mystery and... a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel. She currently resides with her husband in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Connect with the author: Website ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

UPLIFT by Natalia Terfa (Book Spotlight & Giveaway)


Today I'm spotlighting a neat little book that has brought comfort to many. A book that uplifts and brings hope. Enter the giveaway to win a copy for you and a friend.

Book Details:

Book Title: Uplift: A Little Book of God's Promises to Give Hope and Uplift Your Soul
Author: Natalia Terfa
Category: Adult Nonfiction, 152 pages
Genre: Inspiration
Publisher: Wise Ink
Release date: Nov 2016
Tour dates: Jan 9 to 20, 2017
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

No matter how old we are, where we live, or what we believe - there are times in everyone's life that cause us to struggle. An it's in those times that we want nothing else but a word of hope and instead are so often surrounded by trite platitudes and false promises.

This is not that.

This small book was written to be something different: to uplift those who need it, to bring grace and love and light to the darkest times, and to be a voice of hope in the world where hope is often at a premium.

Read it yourself and be uplifted, or gift it to someone going through dark days.
We all need a little hope in difficult times. This is just a place to start.

​Buy the Book: Amazon 


About the Author:


Natalia Terfa is a pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. She is passionate about grace, yoga, and reading. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and daughter - the love of her life.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter for Book ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Jan 28

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Let's Hug: 15 Hugs for Beginners by Efrat Shoham (Review & Giveaway!)



Today I am spotlighting two delightful books by Efrat Shoham. I loved this latest release from her about hugging. Scroll down to read my review of it and then check out her other book about dinosaurs and be sure to enter the giveaway!

Book Details:

Book Title: Let's Hug: 15 Hugs for Beginners
Author: Efrat Shoham
Illustrator: Yuval Israeli
​Category: Children's non-fiction, 36 pages
Genre: Parenting & Relationships / Humor
Publisher: The Pink Camel
Release date: December 6, 2016
Tour dates: Jan 2 - 20, 2017
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

There must be over a millions ways to say "I love you" or "I care about you", but with a single hug, even without words, you can simply feel it. This book is for toddlers, and encourages children and adults alike to try out all possible types of hugs. It's everyone's gain.

It took seconds for the sweet testers who accompanied the writing of this book to adopt these 15 ways of showing love, to give and receive it. And our testers are not alone. Recent studies reveal that Oxitocin, the most fun hormone available, also known as the Love Hormone, is released into our bodies when we hug.

Hugs are proven to have a generally positive healing and relaxing effect, since they increase calm and happiness, reinforce our self esteem, and support our sense of connection to those who are close to us. If you'd like to validate these studies, go ahead and hug.

This book was beautifully illustrated by Yuval Israeli, and it's the second creative collaboration between Yuval Israeli and Efrat Shoham.

Buy the Book: Amazon


My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Are you a hugger? I know I am. So I loved this delightful book that shows parents, children and just about anyone many different ways to hug. I am proud to say I have done them all in the course of my life.

The setup of the pages is perfect for this book. On the left page are two little creatures with a dialogue bubble who comment on the hug being shown on the right page. Their commentary is cute and funny. The illustrations are also cute, simple pastel-colored drawings of animals or creatures hugging each other. There is the Sandwich Hug, which my son still likes to do between my hubby and I, the Catch Hug, which my kids loved when they were tots, and of course the Bear Hug, which my dad is great at giving.

Hugs are so good for us and I think they are underestimated. This children's book celebrates hugging, which I know can sometimes be missing in the lives of seniors or children in wheelchairs. The more we hug, the more we become used to it. Have you hugged your children today, even your grown ones? What about your hubby, ageing parent, or friend? Although this is a children's book, it can be enjoyed by anyone who reads it. A perfect addition to any library.

Disclosure: I purchased a Kindle copy of this book. I was not told how to rate or review this product.


I also want to spotlight Efrat Shoham's previous title, another delightful book that uses dinosaurs to celebrate the differences among us.


Book Details:

Book Title: The Unusualasauruses: 15 Playful Dinosaurs
Author: Efrat Shoham
Illustrator: Lilach Ramati
​Category: Children's non-fiction, 35 pages
Genre: Parenting & Relationships / Education & Teaching
Publisher: The Pink Camel
Release date: October 28, 2016
Tour dates: Jan 2 - 20, 2017
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

Ages and ages ago, many different kinds of dinosaurs roamed our planet. Some were as large as whales, while others were the size of small dogs. Some were plant-eaters, while some ate other animals. Some had very long necks and tails, while others were tiny. Some had horns. Some had wings and could fly.

Despite all of these many variations, they were all part of the dinosaur family. And, as is often the case with family, they shared many common features.

No one has ever never whatsoever seen a live dinosaur or spoken to one of them. So, what if dinosaurs could really talk, or smile, cry, dream, dance, play and joke?

To answer all of these questions, all you have to do is become an Imaginesaurus, and meet the Unusualasauruses.

This book is aimed at children aged 4 to 120. It introduces the readers to different types of personalities, characters, and skills and thus helps us to spot them at a glance.

This book was beautifully illustrated by Lilach Ramati.

Buy the Book: Amazon


About the Author:



Efrat Shoham is an Israeli writer and independent publisher (The Pink Camel).

Shoham grew up in a small agricultural village in Israel. Her father was a farmer and her mother – a teacher and librarian. She lives with her family in Tel Aviv, on a small street lined with eucalyptus, mulberry and loquat trees, where 3 rabbits from the nearby kindergarten run wild.

She thinks and believes that curiosity, imagination, humor, green fields, fresh mango or avocado and pink camels are some of the keys to a good and happy life.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Facebook


About the Illustrator of Let's Hug


Yuval Israeli

"I grew up in a kibbutz in the north of Israel and for years I live in Tel Aviv with Roy and our cat "tsimuki". I studied design and illustration at "Vital" the school of visual arts, which reunited later with "Shenkar".

I also learned classical painting in the "station studio".

I always paint pop icons and characters which affected me, and I also always paint portraits of friends. Besides, I always enjoyed painting all kinds of creatures from my imagination". ​


About the Illustrator of The Unusualasauruses


Lilach Ramati

"I majored in visual communication in Holon Institute of Technology. I studied Interactive, but eventually my final project was an illustrated book. Today I work as a designer in games company".


Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Jan 28

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, January 9, 2017

The Skeleton Code by Alla Campanella and Ken Massey (Review)



Book Details:

Book Title: The Skeleton Code: A Satirical Guide to Secret Keeping
Authors: Ken Massey & Alla Campanella
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 205 pages
Genre: Self-Help, Satire
Publisher: Morgan James
Release date: November 2016
Tour dates: Jan 9 to 27, 2016
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

​Skeletons. We all have them hidden away, usually in an overcrowded and unsecure closet where they are likely to rattle loose. As prisoners, their prime directive is to break their shackles and haunt our happiness.

Alla Campanella and Ken Massey have discovered and interviewed many of these free and feral skeletons and the people who didn’t guard them well. Their true stories and raw realities are found in these pages. You will laugh at many, cringe at some, be in awe of others, disbelieve a few, and be challenged by all.

The Skeleton Code is a satirical and humorous look at the many ways we protect our public personas by closeting our personal secrets. The satire helps us wade into the dark and difficult waters of that famous river called Denial.

You can use the facetious strategies of The Code to maximize a self-deluding way of life, but Alla and Ken hope you will look into this mirror and discover The Skeleton Cure, which is a life of deeper self-honesty and transparency.

Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble


My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

With a background in psychology, I'm always curious about human behaviour. What makes us do things we don't want others to know about and then try to hide them and hope nobody ever discovers them? What if we have a dark secret, especially one since childhood, a skeleton in the closet we want to keep hidden? It was some of these questions that prompted me to read this book.

While I read a lot of non-fiction, it's the first time I read a self-help book that is mostly satirical in nature. In other words, most of the book pokes fun at the lengths people go to in trying to keep the skeletons in their closets from being discovered. In chapters 10 and 11--the last two chapters or what the authors refer to as the second section of the book--the authors shift from satire to straight talk. This part for me was what I was waiting for as I read the book. I found it helpful and wished there had been more of it.

For example, how do you divulge a secret to those that have been injured by your secret? Is there a difference between discretion and secret keeping? I don't think many people think about how they can possibly heal from having kept such secrets because the fear factor is huge, but this book is hopeful and stresses how honesty and openness can remove the physical and emotional toll of carrying such a burden.

So although I can appreciate humor and satire, I would have preferred that it was interspersed with the serious straight talk, instead of overtaking the book. I have to admit, though, it was a unique way to introduce the topic of secret keeping and all it implications. Really, the things people do to keep their secrets hidden can be hilarious if not sad.

The Skeleton Code is a humorous and interesting dissection of human behaviour and an encouraging look at the journey that can free one of the emotional burdens of secrets. It can help many to move forward into a truer way of living.

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


Ken Massey talking about The Skeleton Code to WTVR CBS 6 News. This is a great interview summarizing the book well.






​About the authors:



Ken Massey is a public speaker, author, humorist and minister enjoying the second and truer half of life. He holds two graduate theological degrees and is trained as a life coach, conflict manager and transition specialist. He enjoys golf, and traveling, but finds his greatest fulfillment helping other people discover their true worth as human beings. Ken, a native Texan, loves the beauty and the people of North Carolina, where he and Alla reside.


Alla Campanella, after traveling throughout the world, has lived in the US since 1992. A longtime student of the arts and humanities, she enjoys her work as an artist and photographer. Alla was inspired to write this book because she heard so many personal and painful secrets from her clients about their failures and foibles and wanted them to face these realities rather than hide from them.

Connect with them: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook



Sunday, January 8, 2017

Sunday Post, Mailbox Monday and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? Jan 9 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.

My kids are finally going back to school on Tuesday. It was great to have a laid-back two weeks of late mornings, brunches, sleep-overs and late nights watching movies, but I'm itching to get back to my regular routine. It's hard to work from home with teens taking over the house! :-D

My tour company iRead Book Tours is celebrating its 3 Year Anniversary! Come celebrate with us. We have an awesome giveaway too.


Mailbox Monday



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.

I received these goodies for review in my mailbox:






I bought this on sale for $1.99:




Got it free on Kindle:



I bought these audiobooks with some credits I had accumulated on Audiobooks.com:


 





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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.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Highwayman of Cordovia by Linda Weaver Clarke (Review)



In the country of Cordovia the fight for justice continues.

Book Details:

The Highwayman of Cordovia (The Rebel Series Book 2) by Linda Weaver Clarke
Red Mountain Shadows Publishing
ISBN: 9781539935001
Published: November 6, 2016
Ebook: 248 pages
Content rating: G

Book Description:

Centuries ago, valiant men and courageous women engaged in daring adventures as they helped their fellow man. In the country of Cordovia, the people enjoy their new-found liberty, but all is not well. A group of powerful men plan to take over the small country and replace the leader with a king.

With the help of a bold highwayman and a pastor’s daughter, they try to save their country from being taken over by a power-hungry leader. As they strive to stop the Kingmen and thwart their plans, Christine finds herself falling in love with Austin Knight. The only problem with their relationship is that she thinks he is her knight in shining armor instead of a highwayman. If she finds out his trade, what will her reaction be? As a pastor’s daughter, will love override her values?


My Review:
Reviewed by Sandra Olshaski

I enjoyed this second book in the Rebel of Cordovia series with Austin Knight and Christine Griffiths as the main characters. Austin is the proverbial tall, dark and handsome hero, while Christine is a strong, independent, no nonsense, and multi-tasking pastor's daughter. She is a journalist exposing corruption in the government. Both of them are interested in justice for all in their country of Cordovia and have a growing interest in each other.

Some of the characters from the first book appear again, so we get to catch up with developments in their lives.

The story is a fight for right and justice that moves along quickly. There is intrigue, kidnapping and at the heart of it all a tender love story.

The author's notes about women journalists in history, plus the history of the waltz adds interesting tidbits to this historical romance. The author has a wonderful way of creating strong, independent women characters in all her books.

I wholeheartedly recommend this clean read.

Sandra Olshaski's 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:



Linda Weaver Clarke is from Color Country, which is located in southern Utah. Its a beautiful area full of red mountains, which sits like an oasis in the middle of the desert. She has travelled throughout the United States, teaching people to write their family history. She is the mother of six daughters and has several grandchildren. Linda is the author of several historical romances, a mystery/suspense series, a children's book, a cozy mystery series, and a period romance series. All her books are family friendly. Visit www.lindaweaverclarke.com.


Celebrate with us! Win $50 or a free virtual book tour!

Celebrate with us! Win $50 or a free virtual book tour!
Giveaway ends Feb 4
 
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