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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Kid Konnection: Sleep Tight Farm by Eugenie Doyle, Illustrated by Becca Stadlander


A captivating exploration of how a family gets a farm ready for the snow of winter, Sleep Tight Farm lyrically connects each growing season to the preparations at the very end of the farm year. 

Book Details:

Sleep Tight Farm: A Farm Prepares for Winter by Eugenie Doyle
Illustrated by Becca Stadlander
Chronicle Books
Published Aug 2, 2016
Hardcover, 36 pages
Ages 5 - 8
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

A captivating exploration of how a family gets a farm ready for the snow of winter, Sleep Tight Farm lyrically connects each growing season to the preparations at the very end of the farm year. This beautiful and informative book paints a fascinating picture of what winter means to the farm year and to the family that shares its seasons, from spring's new growth, summer's heat, and fall's bounty to winter's well-earned rest. All year long the farm has worked to shelter us, feed us, keep us warm, and now it's time to sleep.

Our Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani & Son

Ever since our kids were young, we would take them to the apple orchard / farm in the autumn for apple picking and to the sugar shack (in the woods) in spring for maple syrup. Because we are city folk, I always found this was a good way to introduce the kids to farm life. But I never thought of what farmers need to do as winter approaches. My son and I loved reading about the family in Sleep Tight Farm who put their farm to sleep.

When the harvesting season is over, the strawberry patch needs to be covered in straw, the raspberry bushes are cut down, bales of hay are put around the beehives to protect them from the wind and the farm equipment is stored in the shed. These are just some of the activities done. We liked how the family worked together, the mom, dad and their two kids. 

The children would bid goodnight to the different parts of the farm as they worked to put it to sleep. This creates a great analogy of nature that "sleeps in winter" to reawaken in the spring. There is much to discuss and learn with children in the pages of this book. I learned a few things too! And it makes one appreciate and want to support the local farmers in one's area.

The illustrations work well with the book's topic and for this age range, filling the pages with earth-toned colors, and two-page-spread scenes.


This book is a great teaching tool. It would make a good addition to any home or school library and can be used in the school curriculum to teach young children about science. You can even download a teacher guide with experiments that can be done in class or at home (see link below). Reading about how a farmer protects the farm that is his livelihood and prepares for the next season is well portrayed in Sleep Tight Farm.

Download Teacher Guide

Disclosure: Thanks to Raincoast Books for sending us this book for review. We were not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.


About the Author & Illustrator:

Eugenie Doyle is the author of two novels for young adults and many short stories. She and her family operate The Last Resort Farm, an organic berry, vegetable, and hay farm. She lives in Vermont.

Becca Stadtlander is the illustrator of many children's and young adult publications. She was born and raised in Covington, Kentucky.



Every Saturday, Booking Mama hosts a feature called Kid Konnection—a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, visit Booking Mama.

Friday, December 2, 2016

To Warm a Wintered Heart by Deborah M. Hathaway



Read why unlikely friendships can blossom.

Book Details:

To Warm a Wintered Heart by Deborah M. Hathaway
Draft Horse Publishing
Published: October 19, 2016
Kindle e-book: 273 pages
Content rating: G


Book Description:

After an uneventful season in Bath, Miss Charlotte Rosebury returns home to Warwickshire, looking forward to a visit from her mother’s friend. Their expected guest, Mrs. Worthington, has promised that her son will be accompanying her, and as Charlotte has only ever heard stories of the gentleman who rarely leaves his Yorkshire estate, she is most pleased to meet him. But when her warm welcome is returned with a fierce frown from the handsome man, she cannot help but long to be free of him and his blue-eyed glare. 

Despite his mother’s protests, Mr. Gabriel Worthington had made the decision long ago to remain unmarried, but when he meets Charlotte, doubts about his decision creep into his fearful mind, and he wishes for nothing more than to flee from the woman and never return. For weeks, the two are forced to live within the same home, and though they provoke one another with teasing and stolen glances, an unlikely friendship blossoms between them, a friendship that grows stronger than either of them had expected. Will Gabriel concede to the choices binding his heart, or can Charlotte’s warmth be just the thing to strengthen their love and, at last, end their fears?


My Review:
Reviewed by Sandra Olshaski

This novel is very Jane Austen-esque. The heroine, Charlotte, is a lively, kind, pretty young woman. Enter dour, but tall, dark and handsome, Gabriel Worthington. Mr. Worthington had "a grim countenance…..his jaw twitched with irritation, and his gaze narrowed……" The description reminded me of Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. True to form, there are many marriageable daughters who are attracted to the rich, handsome master of a Yorkshire estate. After many misunderstandings between Charlotte and Gabriel, true love prevails.

The book is well written, the cover beautiful. The author has certainly captured the "feel" of the Regency period in this sweet love story.

Readers of clean regency romance novels won't be disappointed.

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:

 Deborah McBride Hathaway

Deborah M. Hathaway graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor's degree in English and an emphasis in Creative Writing. As a young girl, she watched her first regency romance (Pride and Prejudice, 1940), before devouring Jane Austen’s novels and being captured by all things Regency. After falling madly in love with, and then marrying, her English husband, Deborah traveled to the United Kingdom, spending time in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. While exploring the beauty of the countryside, she received inspiration within cities such as York and Stratford-upon-Avon, the latter being one of her favorite places in the world. She is thrilled to have three novels out and is already working on her next clean romance.

Learn more about Deborah and her writing: 

Website  ~  Goodreads  ~  Facebook   



Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Cities Book: A Journey Through 86 of the World's Greatest Cities by Lonely Planet Kids


The Cities Book is a beautiful book that is visually stimulating and is full of fun, quirky and common facts about 86 cities from all over the world.


Book Details:

The Cities Book: A Journey Through 86 of the World's Greatest Cities
Lonely Planet Kids
Illustrated by Livi Gosling and Tom Woolley
ISBN: 978-1786570192
Hardcover, 212 pages
Ages 8-12
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

Do you know where in the world you can buy drinkable gold; why an 'elephant's foot' is one of the most dangerous objects in the world; or where you might have to swim to school? Discover the answers to these questions and loads more mindblowing facts in The Cities Book, where readers aged 8+ are taken on an incredible world tour through 86 of the world's greatest cities.

Sister title to the bestselling The Travel Book,every page is packed with facts on city living, and gives kids a flavour of what it's like to grow up in each place featured. From food and festivals, to awesome architecture and amazing history - there's something for everyone. A mix of wow photography, beautiful illustrations and hand drawn maps bring each page to life. It's the perfect gift for curious kids everywhere.


Our Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani & Son

I am always on the lookout for books that will attract the attention of my reluctant reader son. He would love to scour through books about animals, the National Geographic Kids Almanac and Quiz books and of course, the Guinness Book of World Records. So when I saw The Cities Book I knew it would be a book he and I would enjoy, and I was right!



First off, The Cities Book is a beautiful book that is visually stimulating. It is a large 9X12 book loaded with pictures and illustrations. Right at the beginning of the book is a two-page spread of the world with the names and locations of the 86 cities featured in the book. So if we looked at Asia, for example, and my eyes fell on the city of Beijing, the page numbers of where to find it is written under its name. This makes it easy to quickly locate a city and read up on it. Apart from this pictorial index, the book has a detailed one in the back of the book.



This book is truly inviting. One can't stop by looking at just a few cities. You want to explore them all. It's a fun book to explore with friends or with your family. It's also a great book for get-togethers, especially if there are people who love to travel in your group. Each city is covered within a 2 or 4 page spread. The photography is eye-popping and the information about each city includes fun facts, quirky facts and common facts about the city. I live in Montreal and learned that my city has 6,500 restaurants, more per square mile than anywhere else in North America. 



The book contains well-known cities, such as Toronto, Rome, Mubai and New York, but also ones I have not heard of such as Thimphu, Ushuaia, and Ulaanbaatar. Along with pictures and illustrations, it has snippets of information about the city, not too much but just enough to get the reader interested in learning about it. We learned a lot of new things! And it made us want to go visit some of these amazing places.

We keep this book on our coffee table in the living room. This book is ideal for homeschooling, and would make a great addition to any home or school library. It stimulates curiosity in young minds about people and their culture, it teaches geography, and its layout is perfect for middle-graders. A truly cool book!

Disclosure: Thanks to Raincoast Books for sending us this book for review. We were not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.


About Lonely Planet Kids:



From the world’s leading travel publisher comes Lonely Planet Kids, a children’s imprint that brings the world to life for young explorers everywhere. We’re kickstarting the travel bug and showing kids just how amazing our planet can be. 

We will inspire and delight curious kids, showing them the rich diversity of people, places and cultures that surrounds us. We pledge to share our enthusiasm and love of the world, our sense of humour and continual fascination for what it is that makes the world we live in the diverse and magnificent place it is. It’s going to be a big adventure! Come explore.

Connect with Lonely Planet Kids: 
Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Driving Miss Crazy by D.J. Van Oss




He's got a car. She's got places to be. If only things were that simple. Join Adrian and Maggie in their adventures.

Book Details:

Driving Miss Crazy by D.J. Van Oss
ISBN: 9780692685730
Published: May 29, 2016
Published by: Blue Penny Press
Trade paperback: 290 pages
Content rating: G

Book Description:

He’s got a car. She’s got places to be. If only things were that simple. Maggie MacNally always falls short, no matter what she does. Whether it’s her career or her love life, nothing ever ends up right, and even as she tries to put her work mishaps and dating missteps behind her to forge a new life in Washington DC, she wonders: is she really heading where she wants to go, or simply following in the family footsteps? But just as she’s considering packing it all in, an out-of-the-blue proposal from her influential grandmother offers her one last chance at success — a chance which puts her in the path of beguiling and mysterious French diplomat, Valery. 

Meanwhile, diplomatic driver and widowed father Adrian Adams isn’t looking to change anything about his life, he just wants to keep his seven-year-old daughter Charlie safe and happy. The last thing on his mind is finding love again – and the last thing he expects is to suddenly lose his job. Luckily, he’s soon got a new assignment, one which brings him face to face with an overworked, stressed-out, but oddly charming Irish girl with a penchant for talking to squirrels: Maggie. It’s not long before Adrian finds himself, unwittingly, falling in love again. Will Maggie seize the life she's always yearned for, or be left with the pieces of yet another broken dream? And will Adrian take a second, crazy chance at love, or just play it safe? And what's with all the squirrels?


My Review

Reviewed by Sandra Olshaski


This is a delightful story filled with humour, fun, love and family. Adrian Adams, a widower, is raising a 7-year-old girl, Charlie, on his own, following the death of his beloved wife. He's a diplomatic driver. Maggie MacNally is the granddaughter of an influential Irish woman who offers her a job at the Irish embassy in Washington, helping to organize a huge fundraising gala. Interesting things start to happen when Adrian becomes Maggie's driver.

I appreciate the skill with which the author developed the characters. I liked Adrian and Charlie immediately. Maggie didn’t grab me at first. I found her shallow and irritating, but, by the end of the story I was rooting for her. My favourite character is Charlie, Adrian's adorable, spunky daughter.

Good novels have a bad guy and in this case the author created an excellent villain. Despite his elegant, sophisticated ways, I was suspicious of him from the outset. Nobody can be that perfect! In Adrian's words, "he looks like he just swallowed a pompous cat who just swallowed a sour mouse."

This debut novel is a skillfully-written, fast-paced romantic comedy. The author does not resort to sexual content to hold the reader's attention. It's easy to read with creative twists and turns that held my interest until the end. Bravo Mr. Van Oss!

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 book.


About the author:


D. J. Van Oss writes sweet and sunny romantic comedies with an emphasis on second chances; kind of like the book version of finding an extra packet of icing for your fresh cinnamon roll.


When not writing you can find him working in the yard, walking the dog, or staying up too late watching BBC mysteries while eating honey peanut butter straight out of the jar.

He lives in the country suburbs of Iowa with his wife and three step-daughters. His writing partner is Jack, a pretty-boy golden retriever who grunts when you rub his ears.

If you visit his website at www.djvanoss.com you can sign up to get his new releases for only 99 cents, as well as exclusive books, short stories, and other bonuses.
                    




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Falling for the Stars by Lisa Loving Dalton (Book Spotlight, Author Interview & Giveaway!)


I'm really exciting to be spotlighting Lisa Loving Dalton's new book which made it as a #1 Bestseller on Amazon soon after it was released. Who is Lisa? She is an actress, a stunt woman who doubled for and worked with celebrity stars such as Cher, Meryl Streep, Katherine Hepburn, Sean Connery and many more. She has been in over 200 films and has now written her behind-the-scenes tell-all memoir.

Check out my interview with her and be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy of her book and other goodies. And if you are thinking of becoming an actor, she gives great advice. Just scroll down and see what she says. Surprisingly acting is not just about talent.


Book Details:

Book Title: Falling For The Stars: A Stunt Gal's Tattle Tales
Author: Lisa Loving Dalton
Category: Adult Nonfiction, 224 pages
Genre: Memoir, Performing Arts
Publisher: Peak Performance Living
Release date: Oct 27, 2016
Tour dates: Nov 21 to Dec 9, 2016
Content Rating: PG-13 + M

Book Description:


AMAZON #1 BESTSELLER!

This Behind-the-Scenes Tell-All About Doubling for Celebrity Superstars Also Reveals the Compelling Life Story of an Insecure Hollywood Arrival Who Rises to the Top of Her Field, But Pays a Hefty Price.
  • Addiction
  • Chauvinism  
  • Big Egos collide with the surprising kindness of superstars.
Discover the magic and the tragic stories of many great films & TV shows through the eyes of a stuntwoman. Dalton reveals what it took to hang over cliffs, get hit by a moving car, drop from five stories up, dodge an avenue full of speeding cars--and to ignore the Universe's more gentle prompts that it was time to quit and follow her passion into acting full-time or teaching acting. 
The resulting career-ending spinal injury has a story of its own, how she researched medical and alternative paths that form the heart of what she shares with the world today. "What stands out in this book is the indomitable spirit the author has, despite the extraordinary price she paid for her stellar career--including misogyny, a miscarriage, and a life-long back injury. And each juicy story she relays in her fascinating chronicle, brings home an important life lesson for the reader--one that she learned the hard way.
  • Stunt Gal Lisa Dalton tattles about humorous and harrowing tales culled from over 200 films, television shows and commercials including 
  • Ghostbusters 
  • Money Pit
  • Crocodile Dundee
  • Married to the Mob
  • FX 
  • Legal Eagles
  • The Last Dragon
  • Saturday Night Live  
  • Splash
  • The Highlander
  • World According To Garp
Working with or doubling such superstars as Meryl Streep, Cher, Madonna, Grace Jones, Robert Redford, Katherine Hepburn, Sean Connery, Tom Hanks, Chevy Chase, Robin Williams, Ed O'Neill, Michelle Pfeiffer and more.

Visit the Book's Page for more info

Buy the Book: Amazon

Watch the trailer:







My Interview with Lisa Loving Dalton:

LCR: Can you describe your book in 20 words or less?


LLD: A stuntwoman tattles about Superstars and Blockbusters – the good, bad, scary, fun, and painful – along with the life lessons learned.

LCR: What was the most difficult stunt job you ever did?

LLD: I think the most difficult stunt I ever did was a simulated motorcycle crash. I was a passenger on a motorcycle that was supposed to crash head on into a guardrail. The motorcycle was rigged on a mechanism kind of like a mechanical bull. An air pump was supposed to kick the backend of the bike ninety degrees up as the front tire dipped. My driver and I were to launch over the handlebars into pads. Well, the air pump didn’t have enough force so instead of bucking like the bronco is should have, it only went about forty-five degrees. The driver was able to use the handlebars to launch himself clear, but I crashed right into the bars, ending up with deep bruised across my thighs.

LCR: Can you share a short anecdote of a kind gesture toward you by a well-known actor you worked with?

LLD: I was working with Meryl Streep on a movie called Still Of The Night. While we were chatting in the makeup room, I was asked by production to do a stunt. They tried to convince me to do it as an extra instead of on a stunt contract. I was embarrassed that they were doing this in front of Meryl and took the conversation outside. Eventually, I got the contract and did the stunt.

When I finished, Meryl had already gone home for the day. I was bummed at not getting to say goodbye. As I was leaving, the makeup artist caught me and told me that Meryl made sure I had my contract before she left. I was deeply moved. Meryl Streep, along with Cher, who also stepped up on my behalf, are my favorite stars I have worked with.

LCR: Your advice to budding actors?

LLD: I love offering wisdom to up and coming artists. Here are seven points for budding actors:
  • Train in Michael Chekhov’s Acting Technique because it prepares you emotionally, physically and psychologically to achieve peak performances in a healthy way.
  • NEVER allow any teachers, directors or fellow actors to abuse you. You deserve to respect yourself for loving this art and you must demand that same respect from all others.
  • Cultivate your relationships to all of the arts as they feed each other. Great Acting is like music and sports, like painting and sculpting.
  • It’s not who YOU know, it is who knows you and LIKES you. So, if you live your life fully, with appreciation for your art, and if you go the extra mile for others, with kindness, professionalism and build strong skill sets, you will work.
  • Talent is the least important ingredient to success. Knowing what you truly want, engaging self-discipline and staying focused are more important than whether you have “it.”
  • If you LOVE doing this, then you have it and should do it, whether it is in community theatre, churches, or professionally. The world needs great healthy actors to inspire them.
  • Acting is among the oldest professions in humanity, found carved into the caves. It uplifts, educates and unites the tribe. It defends more causes than any lawyer. It heals more than doctors do. Five minutes appreciating your performance gives the audience a six-hour immune system boost. So be proud of your love of acting and train like an athlete of thoughts, feelings, and desires.
LCR: How is teaching different from acting?

LLD: Teaching for me requires tuning into each student and opening their hearts and minds to growth. In classes, I am constantly looking to support and encourage the whole group to elevate each other.

As an actor, I am looking first and foremost, to tell a good story. To do that, I need to connect to the larger whole. In film, where everything is broken into small chunks, sometimes you don’t even meet the other actors except for at your rehearsal just before you shoot. So it takes a lot of detective work to figure out how to fit into the style of the story and play the “part” of the whole story convincingly.

LCR: Can you share a life lesson learned from your career as a stunt gal?

LLD: I think the most important life lesson I learned was to listen to the signs the universe is sending you. I truly believe I knew that I had overstayed my welcome in the stunt industry. But I was so caught in the ego, income, and fun that I just didn’t want to walk away. Then, I crashed into a cliff and literally couldn’t walk anywhere, much less away. So, please listen to the signs the universe gives you and don’t be afraid to change your whole world and identity when your true pathway calls.

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

LLD: I would go back about three thousand years to the Temple of Isis in Egypt. I would speak with the high priests and priestesses about their spiritual initiation practice. I have always been fascinated by that period.

LCR: Thank you so much Lisa for chatting with me about your career!


Meet the Author:




From a bullied, dyslexic, messy, freckle-faced, klutzy pixie, Lisa Loving Dalton grew into a statuesque and skillful stuntwoman, actor, director, teacher, author, filmmaker, leadership and life coach, and ceremonial minister. Always seeking and finding the silver lining, she has made the most of whatever life threw at her. She says, “I spill stuff, trip and drip all of the time so I made a career out of it. My advice: Embrace what is as perfect.”

Dalton appeared in more than 200 films, television shows and commercials in New York, Hollywood and Texas, including work in Ghostbusters, Money Pit, Crocodile Dundee, Married to the Mob, FX, Legal Eagles, and Splash on the big screen and ER, HBO’s Carnivale, Dr. Quinn and Melrose Place among her many TV credits.

Connect with the author:

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Youtube ~ Instagram


Enter the Giveaway!


Grand Prize Package: one winner will receive:
1) a paperback copy of Falling For the Stars by Lisa Loving Dalton with autographed Last Dragon Pic
2) a paperback copy of A Balancing Act by Emmanuelle Chaulet
3) an e-copy of Murder of Talent
4) a 30-min video chat with author

2nd and 3rd Prize Packages: 2 winners will each get:
1) a Kindle copy of Falling for the Stars by Lisa Loving Dalton with an autographed Last Dragon pic
2) a paperback copy of A Balancing Act by Emmanuelle Chaulet
3) an e-copy of Murder of Talent

USA only
Giveaway ends Dec 17

Monday, November 28, 2016

David Travels to the Past (Review and Giveaway!)



Book Details:

Book Title: David Travels to the Past by María José Mosquera Beceiro and Gonzalo Martínez de Antoñana
​Category: Middle-grade Nonfiction, 72 pages
Genre: Educative graphic novel
Publisher: Saure
Release date: August 2016
Tour dates: Nov 14 to Dec 2, 2016
Content Rating: G (Graphic novel written by educational experts.)

Book Description:

David is a young and restless apprentice painter who wants to know everything about painting. His intelligent teacher, the Master Messina, invents a way of transporting David through time to prehistory. They go there looking for the origins of art, but once they are there nothing will be as they thought.

In a second adventure they travel towards the unknown art of Mesopotamia. This time they won´t go alone. The sympathetic and intelligent Angela will travel to the past with them bringing her particular point of view.


My Review
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani 

As a kid, I used to love reading graphic novels (or comic novels as we used to call them in the 80s). So when I came across this book for young teens that is meant to be educational too, I was thrilled to read it. The publisher Editorial Saure is based in Spain and they publish a whole collection of graphic novels for teens that deal with social issues and focus on artistic, cultural and educational topics.

David Travels to the Past is actually a series and there are two books in this one. The first one is The Rock Painters: Art of the Upper Paleolithic Period. In this first story we are introduced to David, an art student under the tutelage of Master Messina. To help David understand his art lessons, Master Messina take David into his studio office and through hypnosis  they both go back into the past to the Paleolithic Period where they meet a prehistoric nomad tribe of hunters. They follow their day to day lives and learn about how hard their lives are from hunting buffalo for food and women giving birth even as they are traveling. They explore the caves and learn about how these tribes painted images depicting their livelihood.

I found it interesting and satisfying to see that Master Messina acknowledged that there were many things about this time period that are an enigma and still unknown and a mystery to historians. He made the statement that even if art history is little understood it can still be admired. How true!

The second book is The Babylonians: The Art of Mesopotamia. This time David, Master Messina and his niece Angela are transported back in time to Babylon during the reign of King Assurbanipal of Assyria. I enjoyed this book because I have studied the history of the Assyrians and so I was familiar with their culture and art. In this story David and Angela are given the mission of finding the origin of Mesopotamian art.

I think that this series is great for introducing kids to art history. The author does not shy away from using proper names to describe the art time period, techniques and tools, which is good. The illustrations are appropriate and fun for the target audience of the book, which I would say is middle-grade to early teen. There are funny moments throughout the stories for comic relief and David's facial expressions and manner are typical of boys in his age range.

I noted two words that I did not expect in this series: "damn" and "where the hell". In some parts of North America these are considered profanity and it would be best not to include them in an educational series for kids. Also, I did not like that there was a séance scene in which one of the children goes into a trance and is used as a medium.

Apart from these issues, I think that introducing kids to art history through a graphic novel is a great way to spark their interest. The illustrations are very well done. They are colorful and vivid, accurately bringing to life the time period depicted. There are goofy scenes and comical moments that make this series fun and perfect for both boys and girls. 

To read more reviews, please visit the book's page on iRead Book Tours.

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


​UK: Amazon ~ Kindle

Australia: Fishpond ~ Booktopia ~ Kindle



María José is a teacher. She won international illustrations awards.


Gonzalo has a degree in art history. He works in museums and as a tourist guide.

Connect with them: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest


Enter the Giveaway!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mailbox Monday and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? Nov 28 Edition



Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia who now blogs at To Be Continued. It 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 cannot believe that this Thursday will begin the last month of 2016! It seems like every year, time goes by faster. My month of November has been so crazy busy, but I'm enjoying discovering new books.

Another great mailbox with a mix of fiction and non-fiction.


The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman (AUDIOBOOK)

As Paris teeters on the edge of the German occupation, a young Frenchwoman closes the door to her late grandmother's treasure-filled apartment, unsure if she'll ever return.

An elusive courtesan, Marthe de Florian had cultivated a life of art and beauty, casting out all recollections of her impoverished childhood in the dark alleys of Montmartre. With Europe on the brink of war, she shares her story with her granddaughter, Solange Beaugiron, using her prized possessions to reveal her innermost secrets. Most striking of all are a beautiful string of pearls and a magnificent portrait of Marthe painted by the Italian artist Giovanni Boldini. As Marthe's tale unfolds, like velvet itself, stitched with its own shadow and light, it helps to guide Solange on her own path.

Inspired by the true account of an abandoned Parisian apartment, Alyson Richman brings to life Solange, the young woman forced to leave her fabled grandmother's legacy behind to save all that she loves.


The Golden Sun by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

From the beloved author of Secret Daughter comes a moving new novel of a young man at the crossroads of life.

Anil is the cherished son of a large family in rural India. As the eldest boy, he is expected to inherit the role of leader of his clan and arbiter of its disputes, dispensing wisdom and good advice. Leena is his closest companion, a fiercely brave girl who loves nothing more than the wild terrain where they live and her close-knit family. As childhood friends, they are inseparable – but as adulthood approaches, they grow apart.

Anil is the first person in his family to leave India, the first to attend college, the first to become a doctor. Half a world away in Dallas, Texas, he is caught up in his new life, experiencing all the freedoms and temptations of American culture: he tastes alcohol for the first time, falls in love, and learns firsthand about his adopted country’s alluring, dangerous contradictions. Though his work in a gritty urban hospital is grueling, Anil is determined to carve out his own life in America.

At home, Leena dreams of marriage, a strong and true love like the one shared by her parents, and leaves her beloved home to join her new husband’s family in a distant village.

Then things start to go wrong: Anil makes a medical mistake with tragic results, his first love begins to fray and a devastating event makes him question his worth as a doctor and as a friend.

On a visit home, Anil rekindles a friendship with the woman who seems to understand him better than anyone else. But their relationship is complicated by a fateful decision made years earlier. As the two old friends try to understand their feelings toward each other, they must also finally find a way to balance responsibility with freedom and loyalty with love.



Of Stillness and Storm by Michèle Phoenix

“I felt torn between two worlds. Each with its own mystery. One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing.”

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing.

At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.

Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.


Clara Humble and the Not-So-Super Powers by Anna Humphrey

Clara Humble may seem like your average fourth-grader who doesn’t look before she leaps, but she has a secret: she thinks she might have superpowers. Which is convenient, because things aren’t going so well for Clara. Students from rival R. R. Reginald are moving into her school for the term, and Clara’s favorite neighbor, Momo, is moving to a faraway retirement home.

Together with her best friend, Bradley, the winsome and overconfident Clara becomes convinced that her knack for making liquids spill, overhearing her parents’ conversations, communicating with her pet chinchilla, and maybe even mind-controlling teachers could be used to put a stop to these injustices. Sure, these “powers” may not be as impressive as built-in Wi-Fi or the ability to barf data clouds—both hacks possessed by @Cat, the bionic superhero of the comic book series Clara is creating—but they’re Clara’s best bet.

Told in Clara’s clever, funny, and strikingly authentic voice, this novel kicks off a new series by inviting readers into this memorable character’s inventive mind to share in her misadventures. Annotated with Clara’s comic sketches, it’s a fast-paced read with a spot-on perspective of life as a 10-year-old that kids will surely relate to.

Killing It: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Keeping Your Head Without Losing Your Heart by Sheryl O'Loughlin

The former CEO of Clif Bar, Co-founder of Plum, and serial entrepreneur offers insights about launching and growing a business while maintaining a fulfilled life in this practical guide filled with hard-won advice culled from the author’s own sometimes dark, raw experiences. With a foreword by Steve Blank.

Aspiring entrepreneurs are told that to launch a business, you must go all in, devoting every resource and moment to making it work. But following this advice comes at an enormous personal cost: divorce, addiction, even suicide. It means sacrificing the intangibles that make life worth living.

Sheryl O’Loughlin knows there is a better way. In Killing It, she shares the wisdom she’s gained from her successful experiences launching a company from the ground up (Plum), running two fast-growing companies (Clif Bar and REBBL), and mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs (Stanford University). She tells it like it is: If you don’t invest in your wellbeing, your business will not succeed, nor will you.

Sheryl knows firsthand the difficulty of balancing the needs of her growing family with her physical and mental health, while managing other work and life challenges. In this warm, honest, and wise handbook, she gives you the essentials for killing it in business—without killing the rest of your life.

Filled with real-life examples and anecdotes, Killing It addresses common questions including:
  • How do you prepare your significant other for your business venture?
  • How do you time launching and growing your business with the ebb and flow of family life?
  • How do you find joy in the day-to-day?
  • How do you maintain meaningful, supportive friendships?
  • How do you walk away and start again?
The ultimate life and business course, Killing It gives entrepreneurs the tools they need to start their enterprise and thrive—both in the office and at home.


Forever Painless: End Chronic Pain and Reclaim Your Life in 30 Minutes a Day by Miranda Esmonde-White

End chronic pain—for good—with this practical guide from the PBS personality behind Classical Stretch and author of the New York Times bestseller Aging Backwards.

Chronic pain is the most common cause of long-term disability in the United States. Twenty percent of American adults accept back spasms, throbbing joints, arthritis aches, and other physical pain as an inevitable consequence of aging, illness, or injury. But the human body is not meant to endure chronic pain. Miranda Esmonde-White has spent decades helping professional athletes, ballet dancers, and Olympians overcome potentially career-ending injuries and guiding MS patients and cancer survivors toward pain-free mobility. Now, in Forever Painless, she shows everyone how to heal their aching bodies and live pain free.

The root of nearly all pain is movement—or lack thereof. We need to move our bodies to refresh, nourish, and revitalize our cells. Without physical activity, our cells become stagnant and decay, accelerating the aging process and causing pain. People who suffer chronic pain often become sedentary, afraid that movement and activity will make things worse, when just the opposite is true: movement is essential to healing. In Forever Painless, Miranda provides detailed instructions for gentle exercise designed to ease discomfort in the feet and ankles, knees, hips, back, and neck—allowing anyone to live happier, healthier, and pain-free no matter their age.






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, November 25, 2016

Interview with Connie Ruben



On Wednesday, I posted my review of Connie Ruben's memoir, The Stages of Grace, a touching and reflective narrative on what it was like for her to transition from friend to caregiver and how she had to come to terms with what it means when someone you love is attained with Alzheimer's disease.



Having worked with seniors with Alzheimer's I can say that Connie's story is filled with honesty and gems of wisdom. I asked Connie for an interview and I'd like to share it with you. Be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy of this beautiful book!


My interview with Connie Ruben


LCR: Can you describe your book in 20 words or less.

CR: A story of love and acceptance in the face of Alzheimers.

LC: I have a special interest in your book because for 4 years I worked in developing and implementing day programs for seniors with Alzheimer's. How important do you feel it is for seniors to participate in such activities outside the house?

CR: I feel this could be beneficial for the person with Alzheimer’s in the early stages of the disease. Even though the person with Alzheimer’s might not remember the day before or even the morning of, they have a purpose in that moment and it’s in that moment they live and appreciate. As the stages progress, it is more important for the caregivers to have these programs.

LCR: What is the best advice you would give to someone who is caring for a person with Alzheimer's?

CR: By far my advice is to take the time to formally and intimately grieve the loss of the loved one as they knew him/her. Only then can you truly accept the person who is there and be open to letting that person be who THEY need to be in the moment THEY need to be it. Its really a fact that can apply to any caretaker/loved one. Accept and allow life to happen. There can be so much joy. If you are constantly depressed by their behavior, then you will be as depressed by your own.

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

CR: I absolutely love when people call this book a love story between Grace and I. Nothing could make me happier.

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

CR: This is a funny question as people who know me have heard me say so many times that I would like to go back in time to meet Elvis Presley. I tell myself, and others of course, that I would make him appreciate his life and he would clean up his act and he would still be with us today.. In this scenario of course, he falls in love with me and we live happily ever after….

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

CR: Years ago, Peter, Grace and I were out at the coast for a vacation. Peter wanted to swim across the channel to the little island nearby and asked me if I would stay close to him in the dingy in case a boat came by. Grace watched from shore as he swam and I guarded him from the dingy. The only problem was that I had never driven the dingy before and was not so good with the controls and the ability to steer it in the direction I needed it to go. 

As Peter seemed to be doing alright, I decided to go off to one side and just practice the steering. I looked over and saw that he was getting close to shore so knew I needed to get the dingy back to his location. As I came close to him, I realized I had slowed down so much I did not have control of steering it left or right, thus, I was going to go right over top of him. I started yelling but he could not hear me. I was terrified I was going to run him over and the motor would kill him. I took one of the oars and began frantically hitting the water around the dingy in attempt to get his attention. 

Finally it worked and Peter turned around in the water just as the oar was coming down on his head. He thought I had lost my mind and when he was able to get next to the dingy and saw that I was crying hysterically, he softened enough to ask me what was going on. I, through my tears and sobs, told him I was afraid I was going to run him over and kill him.. He started laughing when he realized that the only other alternative I could come up with was hitting him over the head with the oar.

LCR: On my goodness, this incident had me laughing so hard! Thank you for sharing a part of your life with me and my readers. 


About Connie Ruben

Connie Ruben is an entrepreneur with well developed management skills. She has run several large companies, and prides herself on empowering others to work to their full potential. Connie also has an intimate knowledge of the challenges and joys of caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease, as her mother-in-law Grace was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s disease in 2003. While Connie still struggles to balance her work life and home life, her understanding of this disease has made it easier for her to negotiate the demands of being a caregiver, as well as a wife, mother, and employer. She has written this book in order to share the insights she has gained as Grace’s primary caregiver and friend. Most importantly, Connie wants this book to assure others that caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be enjoyable, life-affirming, and emotionally significant.

Connect with the author: Website


Enter the Giveaway!


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Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Breedling & The City in the Garden by Kimberlee Ann Bastian (Review & Giveaway!)


A well-written atmospheric debut with great imagery that boasts a memorable cast of characters. And with a gorgeous cover too!

Book Details:

Book Title: The Breedling and the City in the Garden (The Element Odysseys Book 1)by Kimberlee Ann Bastian
Category: YA fiction, 280 pages
Genre: Historical Fantasy; is also intended for Adult (18+) readers
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Release date: September 20, 2016
Tour dates: Oct 31 to Dec 9, 2016
Content Rating: PG-13 This book is rated PG-13 for time period slag (no F*words), violence and mature themes associated with the historic time period such as smoking, drinking, gambling, and death (no sexual scenes).

Book Description:

Absolute obedience, servitude, neutrality.

These were the laws that once governed Bartholomew, an immortal soulcatcher, until one ill-fated night when he was forced to make a choice: rebel against his masters or reveal an ancient, dangerous secret.

He chose defiance.

Imprisoned for centuries as punishment for his decision, Bartholomew wastes away—until he creates an opportunity to escape. By a stroke of chance, Bartholomew finds himself in the human world and soon learns that breaking his bonds does not come without a price. Cut off from the grace that once ruled him, he must discover a new magic in 1930s Chicago.

Armed with only a cryptic message to give him direction, Bartholomew desperately tries to resume the mission he had started so long ago. Relying on the unlikely guidance of the streetwise orphan Charlie Reese, Bartholomew must navigate the depressed streets of the City in the Garden. But in order to solve this riddle, he must first discover if choice and fate are one in the same.

​Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Author Website


My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

First, I want to say how much I love this book cover. And it suits the story very well. I was eager to dig into a story that takes place in a dual world, one of fantasy and the other 1930s Chicago. The story starts off strong as we are introduced to otherworldly characters that set the stage for suspense and action. Bartholomew, a soulcatcher and a breedling makes his escape from his world into Eden, as earth is referred to in this story. He was imprisoned for centuries for not revealing a dangerous secret.

Bartholomew ends up in 1930s Chicago and is discovered in an upper floor of an orphanage at the onset of a terrible disaster. Charlie, a 17 year-old orphan takes him under his wing and Bartholomew as well as the reader discover historical Chicago together as both begin their adventure. I was impressed at how well the author brings this historical setting to life and I could so easily see this as a movie. I love historical fiction and so I loved this setting.

Bartholomew is on a mission as was well established at the onset of the book and I was eagerly anticipating the discovery of what this would lead to. But the search is slow as we are bogged down by some mundane scenes and dialogue that did not advance the plot. There are a lot of characters from the fantasy world that are referenced but never developed so I was left wondering how they were connected to the story.

Charlie is a great character, beautifully developed, strong, kind and smart. We become attached to him as he experiences great loss and we can't help but root for him. Bartholomew is still a mystery, an old soul in a teen body. He is almost broken from his past imprisonment and anguished from keeping his secret. He comes across as naive even though he is ancient and we have yet to discover what his secret is and how exactly this affects Charlie.

This is a promising start to the Element Odysseys books that would have benefited from a better world-building in the fantasy part. The book is well-written, has great imagery, is atmospheric and boasts a good cast of memorable characters. I enjoyed the storytelling, but felt the plot could have been stronger. The ending leaves us with many unanswered questions that I hope will be answered in Book 2.

To read more reviews, please visit Kimberlee Ann Bastian'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:


Kimberlee Ann Bastian has a unique love affair with American nostalgia, mythology, and endless possibilities. This melting pot of elements is what prompted the creation of her epic ELEMENT ODYSSEYS series, starting with the reboot of her debut novel now titled THE BREEDLING AND THE CITY IN THE GARDEN.

When she is not in her writer's room, working her current "day job", or consuming other literary worlds, she enjoys hiking and cycling around the bluffs of your Southeastern MN home and catching up on her favorite pop culture. ​

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


Enter the Giveaway!

Prizes:
  • 8 winners will each get a print or ebook copy of The Breedling & The City in the Garden (print open to USA & Can / ebook open Int’l)
  • 1 winner will get the Chicago Swag Box (USA only) Prize contains: Jay’s Potato Chips, Wrigleys Gum, mug, a book on history of Chicago (Then and Now), a magnet and a few other items
  • Ends Dec 17



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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Stages of Grace: Life and Love in the Face of Alzheimer's by Connie Ruben (Review & Giveaway)


The book cover with that beautiful pic of the author with her mother-in-law told me this was going to be a special book and I was right!

Book Details:

Book Title: The Stages of Grace: Life and Love in the Face of Alzheimer's by Connie Ruben
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 149 pages
Genre: Memoir, drama
Publisher: Xlibres
Release date: July 2015
Tour dates: Nov 21 to Dec 9, 2016
Content Rating: PG (There are a couple of swear words such as "asshole" but no F words)

Book Description:

This book was written out of a desire to share with others who have loved ones with Alzheimer's disease what I have experienced as Grace' caregiver and friend. I wanted to capture the emotions, the expected and the unexpected issues, the painful times as well as the humorous and loving moments that Grace and I have shared as a result of this disease. This is not mean to be a handbook for dealing with Alzheimer's disease, but I hope that by sharing my feelings and experiences, readers may recognize they are not alone on this particular journey.

Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Amazon.ca

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Two years ago I was working in a community center as a Special care Counsellor, creating programs and activities for a Day Program for seniors with Alzheimer's disease. I did that for 4 years and loved my interaction with these seniors who taught me so much about compassion and humour. When I came across The Stages of Grace, I just knew I wanted to read it. The book cover with that beautiful pic of the author with her mother-in-law told me this was going to be a special book and I was right!

Even though Alzheimer's is one of the most difficult diseases both for the patient and the immediate family, and the author is honest and forthright about all the different emotions, fears and mistakes she made as she struggled to understand and deal with this disease, the book is beautiful and inspiring. It is a memoir about how Connie Ruben became the caregiver to her close friend and mother-in-law Grace. Through flashbacks, reflections and anecdotes of events and incidents, Connie brings to life her heartwarming friendship with a woman who she immediately loved from the moment she met her. Grace would become the mother Connie needed.

Reading this book was easy and enjoyable because it flowed well and I quickly became invested in Connie's recounting of her story. As someone familiar with the behaviours and symptoms associated with Alzheimer's I can attest that this book will be comforting for someone dealing with a parent or friend who has this illness. Connie, through examples of what she experienced with Grace, brings out with creative narrative how she dealt with the very difficult moments and situations and the lessons she learned.

I found so many gems of wisdom in this book. With intelligence and grace, Connie reflects on hindsight, insight, adaptability, negotiation, fallibility, acceptance and finally learning to live in the moment. It was truly a satisfying read.

In essence, this memoir is a tribute to Connie's love for her friend Grace. It is a touching account, heartbreaking at moments, delightful, sad, funny and faith-strengthening in the power of love. I think every person with ageing parents should read this book. Highly recommended!

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

To read more reviews, please visit Connie Ruben's page on iRead Book Tours.


About the Author:



Connie Ruben is an entrepreneur with well developed management skills. She has run several large companies, and prides herself on empowering others to work to their full potential. Connie also has an intimate knowledge of the challenges and joys of caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease, as her mother-in-law Grace was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s disease in 2003. While Connie still struggles to balance her work life and home life, her understanding of this disease has made it easier for her to negotiate the demands of being a caregiver, as well as a wife, mother, and employer. She has written this book in order to share the insights she has gained as Grace’s primary caregiver and friend. Most importantly, Connie wants this book to assure others that caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be enjoyable, life-affirming, and emotionally significant.

Connect with the author: Website


Enter the Giveaway!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


 
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