Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Diverse Reads on my Blog #17

Diverse Reads on my Blog #17

Well things have been either bad or good in this soap opera of real life coming from the White House. Both bad and good news have made appearances, yet we are still okay as well as alive. I have also started to prepare for my USA Literary Trip, which means I'll be visiting all 50 states through books by reading Don't know Much About History as well as a A Different Mirror by Ronald Takaki which will give me a different view of history. Anyways, enjoy the summer!

Blast from the Past

My German soldier by Bette Greene

The summer that Patty Bergen turns twelve is a summer that will haunt her forever. When her small hometown in Arkansas becomes the site of a camp housing German prisoners during World War II, Patty learns what it means to open her heart. Even though she's Jewish, she begins to see a prison escapee, Anton, not as a Nazi- but as a lonely, frightened young man with feelings not unlike her own, who understands and appreciates her in a way her parents never will. And Patty is willing to risk losing family, friends- even her freedom- for what has quickly become the most important part of her life.

Why Its Diverse: The story was written by a Jewish author with Jewish characters who live in the South during WWII and covers the issues of racism, family and where we come from.

Blast from the Past: Allies of Diversity

People of the Fire by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear

It is a time of fire. A small band of pioneers struggle valiantly to keep their ancestors' dreams alive in an unforgiving, drought-stricken land. Driven by the promise of an awesome vision, a heroic young dreamer and a fearless woman warrior unite to lead their people to a magnificent destiny.

A towering epic filled with tragedy and triumph, courage and conflict, People of the Fire is the second compelling novel novel in a majestic new saga of America's first peoples.

What Diversity it has: This is a story about Native Americans about more than 5,000 years ago on the North American continent, and it has Native American heroes.

The White Pearl by Kate Furnivall

Malaya, 1941. Connie Thornton [her last name in the novel is Hadley]. plays her role as a dutiful wife and mother without complaint. She is among the fortunate after all-the British rubber plantation owners reaping the benefits of the colonial life. But Connie feels as though she is oppressed, crippled by boredom, sweltering heat, a loveless marriage. . .

Then, in December, the Japanese invade. Connie and her family flee, sailing south on their yacht toward Singapore, where the British are certain to stand firm against the Japanese. En route, in the company of friends, they learn that Singapore is already under siege. Tensions mount, tempers flare, and the yacht's inhabitants are driven by fear.

Increasingly desperate and short of food, they are taken over by a pirate craft and its Malayan crew making their perilous way from island to island. When a fighter plane crashes into the sea, they rescue its Japanese pilot. For Connie, that's when everything changes. In the suffocating confines of the boat with her life upended, Connie discovers a new kind of freedom and a new, dangerous, exhilarating love.

What Diversity it has: The story takes place in 1940s in Malaya and also had a hint of Asian male/white female relationship (albeit it failed) as well as some closeted homosexual men.

The Seventh Stone by Nancy Freedman

A young man dies a hero in the Pacific in the closing months of World War II. His name is Noboru. His mission: that of a Kamikaze pilot. It is his lasting legacy that shadows this magnificent multi-generational saga spanning fifty years of war and peace- from Japan's grim wartime defeat to its stunning economic world triumph today.

Nancy Freedman, bestselling author of the unforgettable Mrs Mike, has written her crowning achievement in this richly textured novel about three generations of a Japanese family whose story crosses all cultural boundaries and geographical borders between East and West. At its heart is Momoko, Noboru's young widow, whose personal metamorphosis mirrors the changing face of Japan itself. Her courage and spirit are put to the test as she strives to rebuild her life in a society which denies all power to her sex. She is a mother who watches her young son Akio grow into a man she increasingly fears. His vast power is all the more dangerous for his being so brilliant; he is all the more shameful for his willingness to betray his mother sacred secret. Akio, fueled by revenge and twisted patriotism, builds a global business juggernaut to regain honor for his country so that Japan may finally conquer with economic might what it long ago failed to do with military force. As her son persists in waging a war long over, Momoko holds fast to the traditional values of Japan, finding their modern day application in an ever-changing world.

 Ten years in the making, The Seventh Stone is a majestic novel of historic scope that expertly intertwines one woman's story within the larger story of a family, a culture, and a tradition. The result is a mesmerizing novel peopled with characters to treasure and a stunning portrait of a rich, enigmatic culture where a feudal past collides with an onrushing future.

What Diversity it has: This is a story of Japan from 1940s up until 1990s? or so, and it has Japanese characters.

Sons by Pearl Buck

Second in the trilogy that began with The Good Earth, Buck's classic and starkly real tale of sons rising against their honored fathers tells of the bitter struggle to the death between the old and the new in China. Revolutions sweep the vast nation, leaving destruction and death in their wake, yet also promising emancipation to China's oppressed millions who are groping for a way to survive in a modern age.

What Diversity it has: The story takes place in China and is about Wang Lung's three sons as well as their ambitions and whether or not they have succeeded.

What I am Reading Now:

Doom, Gloom and the Pursuit of the Sun by Antoine F. Gnintedem

The town is famous in the region for its chronic stillness…Consequently, every ambitious person who grows up there eventually leaves in search of better opportunities.

Life in Mbengwi, Cameroon, is not easy for Austin—or for anyone else. While growing up, he bears witness to the worst parts of life and the cruelties of human nature. These things keep his homeland trapped in a cycle of misery and suffering. In a country overrun by poverty, death, unrest, and corruption, he sees no future for himself. The only way to escape the cycle is to flee to a place Austin believes to be free of all these troubles, a place where he hopes his dreams will come true: the United States of America.

However, when Austin arrives in this supposed promised land, he is met with a crushing revelation. He finds America to be rife with all the same problems he thought he’d escaped, merely in different forms. Rather than give in to disappointment, he decides to combat these obstacles with a firm resolve. Before long, though, these obstacles threaten to overwhelm him. This realization prompts Austin to rethink how he sees the world and the challenges it throws at him.

Pages: 119 out of 197

My Mother's Son by David Hirshberg (for Fresh Fiction)

In the spirit of Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America and Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay comes My Mother's Son, the meticulously-crafted debut novel from David Hirshberg. The story is told by a radio raconteur revisiting his past in post-World War II Boston, the playground and battleground for two brothers whose lives are transformed by discoveries they never could have imagined. From the opening line of the book, “When you’re a kid, they don’t always tell you the truth,” the stage is set for this riveting coming-of-age story that plays out against the backdrop of the Korean War, the aftermath of the Holocaust, the polio epidemic, the relocation of a baseball team, and the shenanigans of politicians and businessmen. Hirshberg deftly weaves together events, characters, and clues and creates a rich tapestry of betrayal, persecution, death, loyalty, and unconditional love that resonates with today’s America.

Pages: 194 out of 354

Future Reviews: 

The Art of Keeping Secrets-Rachael Johns (One of the supporting characters is transgender, but I'm not sure yet how the author plans on using him; either as a comic relief or to learn valuable lessons from, for Fresh Fiction)

Some Secrets Weren't Meant to Be Kept...

They started out as the "misfit moms"--the trio of less-than-conventional parents at their sons' tony private school. They've shared everything. Or so they thought. Now, on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to New York City, they'll sightsee, they'll shop, they'll catch a few Broadway shows. They'll tell all...

After seventeen years as a single parent, Neve will reveal a past sin that could destroy her relationship with her son. Emma will uncover the roots of her exhaustion and divulge the inappropriate feelings she has for her boss. And Flick--who knows a little about crafting a flawless exterior--will share the shocking truth that lies beneath the veneer of her perfect marriage.

When the tight hold they've each kept on their secrets for years begins to slip, they must face the truth. Even if the truth will forever alter the course of their friendship and their lives.

My Sister's Bones by Nuala Ellwood (main characters suffers from PTSD, while another is alcoholic, for Fresh Fiction)

In the vein of Fiona Barton's The Widow and Renée Knight's Disclaimer, a psychological thriller about a war reporter who returns to her childhood home after her mother's death but becomes convinced that all is not well in the house next door—but is what she’s seeing real or a symptom of the trauma she suffered in Syria?

The One Person You Should Trust Is Lying to You…

Kate has spent fifteen years bringing global injustice home: as a decorated war reporter, she’s always in a place of conflict, writing about ordinary people in unimaginable situations. When her mother dies, Kate returns home from Syria for the funeral. But an incident with a young Syrian boy haunts her dreams, and when Kate sees a boy in the garden of the house next door—a house inhabited by an Iraqi refugee who claims her husband is away and she has no children—Kate becomes convinced that something is very wrong.

As she struggles to separate her memories of Syria from the quiet town in which she grew up—and also to reconcile her memories of a traumatic childhood with her sister’s insistence that all was not as Kate remembers—she begins to wonder what is actually true…and what is just in her mind.

In this gripping, timely debut, Nuala Ellwood brings us an unforgettable damaged character, a haunting , humanizing look at the Syrian conflict, and a deeply harrowing psychological thriller that readers won’t be able to put down.

The Girls by Emma Cline

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman

The Spirit Catches you and you fall down explores the clash between a small county hospital in California and a refugee family from laos over the care of Lia Lee, a Hmong child diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Lia's parents and her doctors both wanted what was best for Lia, but the lack of understanding between them led to tragedy. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Non-fiction, Anne Fadiman's compassionate account of this cultural impasse is literary journalism at its finest.

Night by Elie Wiesel

Night is Elie Wiesel's masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie's wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author's original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man's capacity for inhumanity to man.

Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be

Dawn by Elie Wisel

Elisha is a young Jewish man, a Holocaust survivor, and an Israeli freedom fighter in British-controlled Palestine; John Dawson is the captured English officer he will murder at dawn in retribution for the British execution of a fellow freedom fighter. The night-long wait for morning and death provides Dawn, Elie Wiesel's ever more timely novel, with its harrowingly taut, hour-by-hour narrative. Caught between the manifold horrors of the past and the troubling dilemmas of the present, Elisha wrestles with guilt, ghosts, and ultimately God as he waits for the appointed hour and his act of assassination. Dawn is an eloquent meditation on the compromises, justifications, and sacrifices that human beings make when they murder other human beings.

Day (The Accident) by Elie Wiesel

"Not since Albert Camus has there been such an eloquent spokesman for man." --The New York Times Book Review

The publication of Day restores Elie Wiesel's original title to the novel initially published in English as The Accident and clearly establishes it as the powerful conclusion to the author's classic trilogy of Holocaust literature, which includes his memoir Night and novel Dawn. "In Night it is the ‘I' who speaks," writes Wiesel. "In the other two, it is the ‘I' who listens and questions."

In its opening paragraphs, a successful journalist and Holocaust survivor steps off a New York City curb and into the path of an oncoming taxi. Consequently, most of Wiesel's masterful portrayal of one man's exploration of the historical tragedy that befell him, his family, and his people transpires in the thoughts, daydreams, and memories of the novel's narrator. Torn between choosing life or death, Day again and again returns to the guiding questions that inform Wiesel's trilogy: the meaning and worth of surviving the annihilation of a race, the effects of the Holocaust upon the modern character of the Jewish people, and the loss of one's religious faith in the face of mass murder and human extermination.

One half from the East by Nadia Hashimi

Internationally bestselling author Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for young readers is an emotional, beautiful, and riveting coming-of-age journey to modern-day Afghanistan that explores life as a bacha posh—a preteen girl dressed as a boy.

Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune.

Her father lost one of his legs in a bomb explosion, forcing the family to move from their home city of Kabul to a small village, where life is very different and Obayda’s father almost never leaves his room.

One day, Obayda’s aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of her sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh.

Now Obayda is Obayd.

Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. The two of them can explore the village on their own, climbing trees, playing sports, and more.

But their transformation won’t last forever—unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Henrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. Cells descended from her may weigh more than 50M metric tons.

HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.

The journey starts in the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s, her small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo. Today are stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, East Baltimore children and grandchildren live in obscurity, see no profits, and feel violated. The dark history of experimentation on African Americans helped lead to the birth of bioethics, and legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet by Jamie Ford

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history - the internment of American-Japanese families during World War II - Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us about forgiveness and the power of the human heart.

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice–words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

The Carrion Birds by Urban Waite

Set in a small town in the Southwest, a soulful work of literary noir rife with violence, vengeance, and contrition from a fresh voice in fiction-the author of the highly acclaimed The Terror of Living

Life hasn't worked out the way Ray Lamar planned. A widower and father who has made some tragic mistakes, he's got one good thing going for him: he's calm, cool, and efficient under pressure, usually with a gun in his hand. A useful skill to have when you're paid to hurt people who stand in your boss's way.

But Ray isn't sure he wants to be that man anymore. He wants to go home to Coronado, New Mexico, to see the twelve-year-old son he hopes will recognize him. He wants to make a new life far from the violence of the last ten years. One last job will take him there. All he has to do is steal a rival's stash. Simple, easy, clean.

Ray knows there's no such thing as easy, and sure enough, the first day ends in a catastrophic mess. Now, the runners who have always moved quietly through this idyllic desert town on the Mexican border want answers. And revenge. Short on time, with no one to trust but himself, Ray must come up with a clever plan or Coronado's newly appointed lady sheriff will have a vicious bloodbath on her hands.

Relentlessly paced and beautifully orchestrated, with refreshingly real, vulnerable, and very human characters and a vivid sense of place, The Carrion Birds is an unsettling and indelible work of literary noir in the tradition of Cormac McCarthy, Elmore Leonard, and Dennis Lehane.

Eternal Life by Dara Horn

Rachel is a woman with a problem: she can’t die. Her recent troubles—widowhood, a failing business, an unemployed middle-aged son—are only the latest in a litany spanning dozens of countries, scores of marriages, and hundreds of children. In the 2,000 years since she made a spiritual bargain to save the life of her first son back in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, she’s tried everything to free herself, and only one other person in the world understands: a man she once loved passionately, who has been stalking her through the centuries, convinced they belong together forever.

But as the twenty-first century begins and her children and grandchildren—consumed with immortality in their own ways, from the frontiers of digital currency to genetic engineering—develop new technologies that could change her fate and theirs, Rachel knows she must find a way out.

Gripping, hilarious, and profoundly moving, Eternal Life celebrates the bonds between generations, the power of faith, the purpose of death, and the reasons for being alive.

5 Books I am planning on tackling this year:

Love, and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford

A powerful novel about an orphan boy who is raffled off at Seattle’s 1909 World Fair, and the friends who teach him what it really means to have a family, from the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Inspired by a true story, this is the unforgettable story of a young boy named Ernest, set during the 1909 Seattle world’s fair called the Alaska Yukon Pacific Expo. It is a time when the magical wonders of technology on display at the expo future seems limitless. But for Ernest, a half-Chinese orphan who found his way to America through a last desperate act of his beloved mother, every door is closed. A charity student at a boarding school, he has never really had a place to call home. Then one day, his wealthy sponsor announces that if a home is what he wants, then that is what he will have: Ernest will be offered as a prize in the daily raffle at the fair, advertised as “Healthy boy to a good home for the winning ticket holder.” The woman who “wins” him is the madam of a notorious brothel who was famous for educating her girls. He becomes a houseboy in her brothel and is befriended by the daughter of the madam, as well as a Japanese girl who works in the kitchen. The friendship and love between these three form the first real family Ernest has ever known.

Pages: 304

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America, about a once-in-a-lifetime friendship between two girls who are driven apart but never stop trying to find one another again.

When Poornima first meets Savitha, she feels something she thought she lost for good when her mother died: hope. Poornima's father hires Savitha to work one of their sari looms, and the two girls are quickly drawn to one another. Savitha is even more impoverished than Poornima, but she is full of passion and energy. She shows Poornima how to find beauty in a bolt of indigo cloth, a bowl of yogurt rice and bananas, the warmth of friendship. Suddenly their Indian village doesn't feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond the arranged marriage her father is desperate to lock down for her. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend again. Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India's underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face relentless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within them.

In breathtaking prose, Shobha Rao tackles the most urgent issues facing women today: domestic abuse, human trafficking, immigration, and feminism. At once a propulsive page-turner and a heart-wrenching meditation on friendship, Rao's debut novel is a literary tour de force.

Pages: 307

Israela by Batya Casper

In my heart, I call to their mothers, 'Take your sons to your houses. Bind them to your chairs; gag them, blindfold them if necessary until they grow calm. Then teach them, for they have forgotten, about peace, about the blessed life, about a future-a present-without pain.' Beneath their prayers, in their morning cups of coffee, beneath their love-making and their child-rearing, and in their sorrow, especially in their sorrow when burying their dead, I hear the simmering of heating souls; I smell the charge of armies, of lives exploding uselessly into smithereens. I sit in mourning over a disaster still to come. In Israel, the lives of three women interweave with the story of their country. Ratiba, an Israeli journalist, turns her back on her heritage to marry an Israeli Arab. Her sister Orit, an actor, lives alone and longs for her lost sister. Elisheva is a nurse who dedicates her life to the wounded and the dying. As their lives unfold, the three women find themselves facing choices they would never have envisioned. This is a story of secrets and alienation, yet also of hope and heroism. It is about Arabs who save Jews from disaster and Jews who heal Arabs. It is the story of everyday people torn and desperately searching for the right path. Here, the ancient pulsates in present time and the biblical holds prominence with the secular. Beneath this modern-day drama unfolds the story of a land and its people, revealing the historical trajectory of two peoples, victims and perpetrators of a biblical curse 'This perceptive, poignant novel offers a fresh and essential outlook on Israel. With memorable characters and an abundance of drama, Israela is gripping reading.' - Lou Aronica, New York Times bestselling author

Pages: 365

A Different Mirror; A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki

"A Different Mirror" is a dramatic new retelling of our nation's history, a powerful larger narrative of the many different peoples who together compose the United States of America. In a lively account filled with the stories and voices of people previously left out of the historical canon, Ronald Takaki offers a fresh perspective - a "re-visioning" - of our nation's past.

Pages: 428

Forgotten Reflections by Young-Im Lee

In the current international climate where North Korea takes center stage, “Forgotten Reflections” weaves an inspirational tale of family, lost memories, folklore and an unforgotten history, spanning three generations as South Korea rises from the ashes.


1945. Rice fields seem endless in a quaint farming village of South Korea, yet Iseul the villagers have been starving for as long as they can remember. Their Japanese colonizers have taken every last grain with them as they are finally forced out of the Peninsula. In the newly independent Korea, Iseul and Jung-Soo dream of what their future might bring. Yet, war is on the horizon, and Iseul has fallen for an alleged North Korean communist spy.

Men are conscripted and rice is taken to feed the growing army as the Peninsula is thrust into an international war that would determine if the strategic region will become communist or democratic. With nothing but the news of death and hunger awaiting the village of women, children and the aged, Iseul musters up whatever hope she has left to bring the village together to make paper. Soon, the village once known for its rice, becomes famous for its paper, becoming a beacon of hope for their battle-worn soldiers awaiting letters from their loved ones.

Yet spies and communists continue to roam South Korea, turning neighbors and families against one another. For years, Jung-Soo has been suspicious of his father’s allegiances. With a series of mysterious revelations about his father, Jung-Soo is forced to choose between his tainted communist past, and the future he hopes to have with Iseul after the war.

Pages: 476

G1008 Book Review of The Dan diaries by D.D. Marx

Name of Book: The Dan Diaries

Author: D.D. Marx

ISBN: 978-0-9972481-7-3

Publisher:self published

Part of a Series: The Beyond Series

Type of book: Afterlife, modern times, relationship, friendship, coming together, destiny, fate, death, guardian angels, belief

Year it was published: 2018


Dan Sullivan was the best friend of Olivia Henry when his life was taken in a tragic car accident. Shocked to be on the other side, Dan navigates his way by learning his new role in eternal life. His first assignment is as Olivia’s guardian angel. He has the crucial role of guiding her to her pre-defined destiny. Dan’s death throws Olivia into a tail-spin which causes her to veer way off course. He understands the enormity of the challenge when he hears the mechanism by which he can communicate. He’s only allowed to use signs and symbols to get her attention and cannot interfere with her free-will.

Every time he thinks he’s close, something throws her off track. He’s forced to start over by convincing her to trust in their enduring, unbreakable bond. Olivia can feel Dan’s presence but is still reluctant to believe the messages he’s sending. She is fearful of falling in love again at the risk of losing another soulmate. Can Dan persuade her to trust in his love from afar so she can finally receive the happiness she truly deserves?


Main characters include Dan, Olivia, Finn as well as Frank and Jake, although Frank and Jake would fall more into secondary characters. Dan is best described as carefree and a ladies' man who respects boundaries and who is also loyal and is determined to give Olivia good life when he dies. (His death happens in the first chapter...) He loves giving nicknames to his friends. Olivia is both open but at the same time afraid of moving on. Just like in previous books, she is principled and capable of standing up for herself as well as for others. Finn is Olivia's boyfriend and is a talented chef who inspired Olivia to follow her dreams. Unfortunately not much information is given about Frank and Jake, but just like Dan they are determined to help their charges succeed.


Friendship lasts through life and death


The story is in first person narrative from Dan's point of view. At first I felt as if I was getting questions answered because the story is pretty detailed and Dan frequently commented or interjected. However, as the story went on, Dan appeared to be in the story less and less, in particular when it came to building the world and forging the new friendships he has with Jake and Frank. Also, a few things about Frank were kind of ignored in my opinion. However, quite a number of times the story did end up giving me goosebumps and I was disappointed to have it end. I really would have liked to see Dan go forward in his heavenly life.

Author Information:
(From the website)

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble
Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

D.D. Marx is a contemporary romantic fiction writer and blogger. Marx is a graduate of the University of Dayton, as well as the Second City program in Chicago, where she currently resides. A proud aunt and self-described hopeless romantic, Marx has always had a knack for humorous and engaging storytelling. Her pen name is a dedication to her beloved friend Dan, who continues to guide and inspire her in her daily life.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinteres

From the summary as well as beginning of the story, I expected it to be a story about Dan. That is, I knew that Olivia "Hank" Henry and Finn will be touched, but I thought there would be more of a story of heaven instead of rehashing of Olivia's and Finn's relationship. I also was disappointed that Mary "Frank" Frances wasn't given a whole lot of attention. I expected for the story to have more focus on Dan, Frank as well as Jake who have formed a pretty fascinating trio and I would have loved to see more focus and growth of their friendship. Instead, pretty much 85 percent of the book rehashed Olivia's and Finn's relationship. Just like in her previous three books, D.D. Marx heavily focuses on friendships, and along with that focus, the characters all have distinct voices as well as personalities. I am a bit disappointed that the ending of the story seemed to be abrupt in my opinion, but I am happy to have been given another dimension to Olivia's world.

This is for iRead Book Tour


May 14 - Library of Clean Reads - book spotlight / giveaway
May 15 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
May 16 - Cindy's Love of Books - review / giveaway
May 17 - Cheryl's Book Nook - review / giveaway
May 18 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
May 18 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review
May 21 - TFaulc Book Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
May 22 - Kristin’s Novel Café - review / giveaway
May 23 - Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin' - review
May 24 - Two Points of Interest - review / giveaway
May 28 - Paulette's Papers - book spotlight / giveaway
May 29 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review /
May 30 - T's Stuff - book spotlight / interview / giveaway
May 30 - Book Lover in Florida - review / giveaway
June 1 - Haddie's Haven - review / giveaway
June 4 - Bound 4 Escape - review / giveaway
June 5 - The Writing Studio - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
June 6 - Nighttime Reading Center - review / giveaway
June 8 - Jessica Cassidy - review / interview / giveaway
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Friday, May 25, 2018

G1018 Book Review of The Sugarhouse Blues by Mariah Stewart

Name of Book: The Sugarhouse Blues

Author: Mariah Stewart

ISBN: 978-1-5011-4492-9

Publisher: Gallery Books

Part of a Series: Hudson Sisters Series

Type of book: Pennsylvania Hidden Falls, renovation, roles, sisterhood, healing, secrets, abuse, appearances, art, plans, relationships between women, slow romance, dogs, mayor, popularity, small town summer celebrations

Year it was published: 2018


Mariah Stewart's second novel in the Hudson Sisters series...

Allie, Des, and Cara, each having her own reasons for wanting a share of their father's estate, meet in the grand Victorian home in which he grew up, only to be greeted by another secret he purposely hid from them: his sister Bonnie. The women reluctantly band together to take on Fritz's challenge, working with a local contractor to begin the renovations financed by an account Fritz had set up for the task. While the restoration appears to go smoothly at first, it soon becomes apparent that the work will be more extensive than originally thought, and Des, elected to handle the money, needs to find ways to stretch out the remaining savings while searching for new sources of funding.

As strangers linked only by their DNA try to become a family, the Hudson sisters also try to come to terms with the father they only thought they knew. In the process, each woman discovers her own capacity for understanding, forgiveness, love, and the true meaning of family.


The main characters include Desdemona "Des" Hudson, who happens to be passionate about rescuing doggies (even establishing a rescue shelter for dogs back in her state of Montana) and who also is determined to do what she can towards the theater's renovation. She and Allie and have a very distant relationship, and very often Des is hesistant and doesn't really trust Allie's ideas. Des also tends to keep things to herself and hasn't really shared a positive sisterhood with Allie when growing up. Des is in charge of finances for the theater. Unfortunately the reader learns very little about Cara in this book, although she is frequently seen. For me Allie is probably the more fascinating sister. Allie continues to be prickly and seems to take enjoyment in tormenting a local "sheriff". Allie also suffers from uncertainty and low self esteem and is a mother to a daughter named Nikki. There is of course Bonnie "Aunt Barney," the sisters' aunt who is passionate about her car and is also slowly making changes in her house and life. Male main characters include Seth Macleod who is extremely popular and isn't someone Des would like to be with due to him being bald, a mayor, and tattooed as well as having a motorbike. Despite his appearance, Seth is extremely dedicated to the town and to his friends and family. There is also Ben, the local law enforcement that Allie seems to enjoy tormenting. He is not very creative with pet names and is very dedicated to his job. Cara's beau, Joe, is there but he didn't take up the limelight that Des and Seth have shared.


It's possible to heal and find a place to belong


The story is in third person narrative from Des's point of view, although from time to time Allie also jumps in. While reading THE LAST CHANCE MATINEE will make THE SUGARHOUSE BLUES richer, it's not required, and the book stands wonderfully on its own. The characters are multifaceted and become very easy to fall in love with, especially the doggies that dare to steal mine heart. The romance is built slowly through actions and time and isn't forced; the chemistry is believable, and I found myself rooting for the hero. There is also human aspect to the characters in that they are more than just women and their multiple roles and personalities are deftly explored throughout the pages be it motherhood or sisterhood. There is also a lot of focus on the relationships the sisters have one with one another, especially the focus is on Allie and Des, which is what I liked, and how each sister has to make peace with herself and one another.

Author Information:
(From the back of the book)

Mariah Stewart is an award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel. Visit her website at MariahStewart.com, like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AuthorMariahStewart, and follow her on Instagram @Mariah_Stewart_Books.


This is my 7th Mariah Stewart novel, and I still have trouble figuring out how she writes one winner after another! Ever since my reading of her previous Hudson Sisters Novel, THE LAST CHANCE MATINEE, which introduces the reader to the three sisters, I have been counting down the days to dive once more into the beautiful and complex world of Hidden Falls, Pennsylvania. THE SUGARHOUSE BLUES focuses on Desdemona "Des" Hudson, a loner who is more passionate about rescuing dogs and who has trouble opening herself up to other people. In a true Mariah Stewart style, the focus is far more on activities and relationships between the sisters and their aunt, and the romance builds slowly and is focused more on dating and getting to know one another rather than anything sexual. (There aren't any sexual scenes in the book by the way.) Unfortunately some of the mysteries from the previous books aren't really resolved in my opinion, but that's okay. The beauty of Mariah Stewart's books is that each mystery and interaction is like finding a decadent and perfect dessert where its safe to indulge without worrying about the bathroom scales.

This was given for a review

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

G1002 belief; what it means to believe and why our convictions are so compelling

Title of the book: belief; what it means to believe and why our convictions are so compelling

Author: James e Alcock

Publisher: Prometheus Books

Publishing Date: 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63388-403-8


An expert on the psychology of belief examines how our thoughts and feelings, actions and reactions, respond not to the world as it actually is but to the world as we believe it to be.

This book explores the psychology of belief - how beliefs are formed, how they are influenced both by internal factors, such as perception, memory, reason, emotion, and prior beliefs, as well as external factors, such as experience, identification with a group, social pressure, and manipulation. It also reveals how vulnerable beliefs are to error, and how they can be held with great confidence even when factually false.

The author, a social psychologist who specializes in the psychology of belief, elucidates how the brain and nervous system function to create the perceptions, memories, and emotions that shape belief. He explains how and why distorted perceptions, false memories, and inappropriate emotional reactions that sometimes lead us to embrace false beliefs are natural products of mental functioning. He also shows why it is so difficult to change our beliefs when they collide with contradictions.

Covering a wide range -- from self-perception and the perceived validity of everyday experience to paranormal, religious, and even fatal beliefs--the book demonstrates how crucial beliefs are to molding our experience and why they have such a powerful hold on our behavior.

Author Info:
(From the book)

James E. Alcock, PhD, is professor of psychology at York University in Toronto and the author of many books, book chapters, and articles on social psychology and the psychology of belief, most recently An Introduction to Social Psychology (With Stan Sadava.) He is also a registered clinical psychologist who works in private practice. He is on the executive council of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and on the editorial board of Skeptical Inquirer. His previous work includes a special research project on paraspsychology for the National Academy of Sciences.

Personal Opinion:

Awhile ago, I attempted to read Plato's The Republic, which I enjoyed a little, but because at the time I didn't feel ready, I decided not to keep reading the story. The Republic covered justice and how justice became entangled in small as well as major details. This book is a bit similar in that; the author takes a simple word, belief, but he stretches out into a 500 page topic that dares to leave no stone un-turned in the quest of trying to understand why we are the way we are. While highly informative and entertaining, I will mention that the author does tend to dismiss the idea of supernatural/paranormal occurrences, that is he does explain what they are as well as the beliefs, but if they happen supernaturally is often dismissed. The writing is tailored to an everyday reader rather than an academic and if one finds psychology fascinating or is looking for a quick refresher of how minds work or is curious about various beliefs that human beings hold, then this is an excellent book to get.

This was given for an honest review

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Monday, May 14, 2018

Book Spotlight for Eyes Don't lie by Crystal Dawn Mason

Book Details:

Book Title: Eyes Don't Lie: You Can't Hide by Crystal Dawn Mason

Category: Adult Fiction, 142 pages

Genre: Suspense / Thriller

Publisher: self-published

Release date: Oct 11, 2017

Tour dates: April 30 to May 18, 2018

Content Rating: PG

Book Description:

Curly-haired brunettes with blue eyes are the only women that seem to capture Keith’s attention. But is it really their appearance that attracts him or something sinister? Keith, a broken soul, who’s battling between good and evil, goes about his days trying to fight his evil urges. But because of a demonic stronghold, in most instances good loses the battle to evil.

Affected by the pain and hurt of his childhood, he now seeks out the love he didn’t receive as a child. But when he doesn’t get it, there’s retribution to pay…and what a sad day it is for those curly-haired brunettes with blue eyes who fail to make the mark. But things take a turn when he meets a grocery store cashier who has the ability to see evil through his eyes. McKenzie is able to connect dots, interfering with Keith’s destructive path – a path that could lead him to prison or even the grave.

Buy the Book:

About the Author:

Crystal Dawn Mason started writing books of poetry, then transitioned into narrative writing. Becoming a writer was not a goal as she began her studies as a psychology major at Indiana University Purdue University of Indianapolis. It wasn't until she had a bad experience that she stumbled upon her natural ability to create stories. And this discovery started her down a newfound path of purpose. While working, she found another niche in the education field, which led her to pursue a teaching degree. Thus, she is now pursuing a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies to become an elementary teacher. She enjoys working with children, and her goal, outside of teaching, is to continue writing stories that are inspiring and entertaining for her readers.

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

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends May 26, 2018
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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Book Spotlight Degrees of Love by Lisa Slabach

Book Details:

Book Title: Degrees of Love: A Novel by Lisa Slabach

Category: Adult Fiction, 344 pages

Genre: Women's Fiction

Publisher: Bookbaby

Release date: Dec 1, 2017

Tour dates: May 1 to 18, 2018

Content Rating: PG-13 + M (Adult themes including infidelity, occasional F-word, non-explicit sex scenes)

​Book Description:

At thirty-six, Susan Sinclair has it all. She's just been promoted to Senior Vice President of Mobile Banking at her firm, a prestigious position bringing fresh creative challenges and a hefty salary increase. Like the shiny new BMW in the driveway of the Silicon Valley home she shares with her husband, Matt, and their two beautiful boys, Susan exudes confidence and style.

Yet despite her success in juggling the roles of wife, mother, and businesswoman, Susan struggles with a secret dissatisfaction. Matt's work in cutting-edge computer research pays less than her job, and with each advance in her career, he has grown more distant. But Matt refuses to admit there is a problem, and Susan forces herself to play along, determined to give her boys the close-knit family life she never had.

Then she meets her new boss, Reese Kirkpatrick. Working and traveling together, she and Reese become a crackerjack team, but little by little, pleasure mixes with business. For the first time in a long time—maybe ever—Susan feels seen and appreciated for who she is. Certain she would never allow their friendship to cross the line, Susan lets herself stray dangerously close to the edge.

​A moment of weakness changes everything. Now, unable to stomach the façade her marriage has become yet unwilling to decimate her family by moving forward with Reese, Susan faces a choice that could cost her everything—including her children . . . but possibly bring her more than she can dream.

Praise for Degrees of Love:

​"Slabach crafts a relatable, heartbreakingly real story that will no doubt resonate with those at a similar station in life: women who love their families yet yearn for just a little more—to feel wanted rather than needed, to feel passion rather than complacency. In engaging prose and through skillful storytelling, Slabach captivates with an all-too-familiar story that raises questions with no easy answers."

- Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

"This does not read like a debut author’s book. Slabach shows herself to be adept at portraying the complex emotions of the human condition. Her characters live and breathe on the page in a way that every author strives for, but few actually manage. Susan’s struggles ring true, and the way she handles everything makes her a very likable and relatable character."

- Sarah Perry, San Francisco Book Review, 5 Stars

"Profound, heart wrenching and very emotional, it is hard to believe that Degrees of Love is a debut novel by Lisa Slabach. This is one of the best novels I have read this year."

- Rabia Tanveer, Readers' Favorite

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author:

Degrees of Love is Lisa Slabach’s debut novel. She is currently working on her third full-length manuscript and a collection of short stories inspired by her experiences growing up in a small farm community in Washington’s Yakima Valley. In addition to writing, Lisa works for a Fortune 500 Company, leading a sales team in the financial industry. She currently resides in Northern California with her husband and has two daughters, who are both pursuing careers in film. In her free time, she enjoys drinking wine with friends and cooking in her pink kitchen.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends May 24, 2018

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

FF6. Book Review of The samurai of Seville by John J Healey

Name of Book: The samurai of Seville

Author: John J Healey

ISBN:  9781628727845

Publisher: Arcade

Year it was published: 2017


A sumptuous novel inspired by one of history’s most intriguing forgotten chapters—the arrival of Japanese Samurai on the shores of Europe.

In 1614, twenty-two Samurai warriors and a group of tradesmen from Japan sailed to Spain, where they initiated one of the most intriguing cultural exchanges in history. They were received with pomp and circumstance, first by King Philip III and later by Pope Paul V. They were the first Japanese to visit Europe and they caused a sensation. They remained for two years and then most of the party returned to Japan; however, six of the Samurai stayed behind, settling in a small fishing village close to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, where their descendants live to this day.

Healey imbues this tale of the meeting of East and West with uncommon emotional and intellectual intensity and a rich sense of place. He explores the dueling mentalities of two cultures through a singular romance; the sophisticated, restrained warrior culture of Japan and the baroque sensibilities of Renaissance Spain, dark and obsessed with ethnic cleansing. What one culture lives with absolute normality is experienced as exotic from the outsider’s eye. Everyone is seen as strange at first and then—with growing familiarity—is revealed as being more similar than originally perceived, but with the added value of enduring idiosyncrasies.

The story told in this novel is an essential and timeless one about the discoveries and conflicts that arise from the forging of relationships across borders, both geographical and cultural.

Link for Review

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G976 Book Review of Ecstasy by Mary Sharratt

Name of Book: Ecstasy

Author: Mary Sharratt

ISBN: 978-0-544-80089-2

Publisher: HMH Books

Type of book: Gustav Mahler, Alma Schindler-Mahler, affairs, passion, ecstasy, music, composing, motherhood, marriage, older male/younger female pairing, 1899-1900s, denying talent and gifts, travel, genius husband, survival

Year it was published: 2018


In the glittering hotbed of turn-of-the-twentieth-century Vienna, one woman’s life would define and defy an era

Gustav Klimt gave Alma her first kiss. Gustav Mahler fell in love with her at first sight and proposed only a few weeks later. Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius abandoned all reason to pursue her. Poet and novelist Franz Werfel described her as “one of the very few magical women that exist.” But who was this woman who brought these most eminent of men to their knees? In Ecstasy, Mary Sharratt finally gives one of the most controversial and complex women of her time the center stage.

Coming of age in the midst of a creative and cultural whirlwind, young, beautiful Alma Schindler yearns to make her mark as a composer. A brand-new era of possibility for women is dawning and she is determined to make the most of it. But Alma loses her heart to the great composer Gustav Mahler, nearly twenty years her senior. He demands that she give up her music as a condition for their marriage. Torn by her love and in awe of his genius, how will she remain true to herself and her artistic passion?

Part cautionary tale, part triumph of the feminist spirit, Ecstasy reveals the true Alma Mahler: composer, author, daughter, sister, mother, wife, lover, and muse.


Main characters include Alma Schindler Mahler, a beautiful and talented young woman who desires to become a composer in a time when few occupations are open to women. She is best described as beautiful, passionate and loyal to those she loves, whether or not they deserve it. She is also very passionate about sharing her own gift with the world. Gustav Mahler ultimately wins Alma's heart and he is far older than she, a Jew who became a Catholic as well as someone who is talented with composing but at the same time extremely clueless when it comes to Alma's needs and human relationships. There are other characters in the story such as Alma's mother and her sister, as well as various friends that flit in and out of  their lives, but I feel that they are not as visible as Alma and Gustav are.


A woman has dozens of roles, its impossible to disobey the call of the gift


The story is written in third person narrative from Alma's point of view and it covers 1899 up to 1910 or so, basically the time that Alma becomes (briefly) enamored with Gustav Klimt to the time her marriage to Gustav Mahler is over, and it takes place in Vienna. I knew very little about Vienna at the turn of the century and was delighted to see it prior to WWII. The story is also linear and doesn't begin in media res. (Start at the beginning.) The characters, the plot are all well done and well covered and the author has a good balance between getting a reader curious to know what will happen next to Alma and doesn't overshare on the details. For those who are new to historical fiction and are looking something different from WWII novels, but are too afraid of being overwhelmed this will be an ideal read.

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)

About the Author

MARY SHARRATT is an American writer who has lived in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, for the past seven years. The author of the critically acclaimed novels Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva, and The Vanishing Point, Sharratt is also the co-editor of the subversive fiction anthology Bitch Lit, a celebration of female antiheroes, strong women who break all the rules.

Her novels include Summit Avenue, The Real Minera, The Vanishing Point, The Daughters of Witching Hill, Illuminations, and The Dark Lady’s Mask.

For more information, please visit Mary Sharratt’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


In a good way, I don't know where to start in praising the book. I have previously read the author's other novel, THE DARK LADY'S MASK, which is about Shakespeare's muse, and her life, where the author teased between a respectable life versus affair, and life of passions versus boredom. In ECSTASY, she delves much deeper into that line, invoking and sculpting a woman so lifelike to people of today as she struggles with all too daily life of  child-rearing, having a husband who is clueless to her needs and understanding her as both a person and a woman. As I found myself reading the novel, I found myself becoming enamored of Alma and of her predicament, as well as how close her predicament hits too close to home in some instances. I also admired Alma for her restraint in life and how much she has sacrificed to help her husband, Gustav, become great. As sad as it sounds, while a lot has changed when it comes to women and their position, one main aspect that hasn't changed is marriage and childbirth and how beyond that women are rarely seen as anything but mothers and wives in even today's society. Also, I love the cover and find it extremely gorgeous. 

This is for HFVBT

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, April 10
Review at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, April 11
Feature at Passages to the Past

Thursday, April 12
Review at Bookfever
Review at Unabridged Chick

Friday, April 13
Interview at Unabridged Chick
Review at View From the Birdhouse

Saturday, April 14
Review at Clarissa Reads it All

Monday, April 16
Review at Cup of Sensibility

Tuesday, April 17
Review at Based on a True Story

Wednesday, April 18
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, April 19
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, April 20
Review at Linda’s Book Obsession

Sunday, April 22
Review at Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings

Monday, April 23
Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Tuesday, April 24
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, April 25
Review at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, April 26
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Friday, April 27
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, April 30
Review at Caryn, the Book Whisperer

Tuesday, May 1
Review at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, May 3
Interview at The Writing Desk

Monday, May 7
Review at What Cathy Read Next

Wednesday, May 9
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, May 10
Review at Writing the Renaissance

Friday, May 11
Interview at Writing the Renaissance

Monday, May 14
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, May 16
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, May 17
Review at Nicole Evelina

Friday, May 18
Interview at Nicole Evelina

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Monday, May 7, 2018

G999. Sass, Smarts and Stilettos; how Italian women make the ordinary, extraordinary

Title of the book: Sass, Smarts and Stilettos; how Italian women make the ordinary, extraordinary

Author: Gabriella Contestabile

Publisher: Sumisura Publications

Publishing Date: 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9960585-2-0


How do Italian women turn the ordinary into extraordinary? Why do their lives seem less complicated, but more complete and alluring?

Discover what's behind this seductive ethos of effortless chic, and how to live an extraordinary and stylish life, 'all' italiana'.

Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos is not just a celebration of Italian women, but of all women; of their innate ability to think outside the box, to make magic from mayhem, and to have a wild good time doing it.

Author Info:
(From Italy Book Tours)

Buy the Book:

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Chapters Indigo ~ Kobo
Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

Gabriella Contestabile is the author of the novel, The Artisan’s Star, and owner of Su Misura (Made to Measure) Journeys; a boutique travel concept for the female traveler who relishes off-the-beaten-track adventures that celebrate the Italian way of life.

​The book/travel initiative has its roots in her pre-writer life as a foreign language teacher, later as Executive Director and Vice President of International Training in a number of global companies (including Estee Lauder, Shiseido, and Prada Beauty) where she would create immersive and unconventional learning experiences in unique settings around the world.

One of her favorite pastimes, wherever she is in the world, is to scout out the best, and most ‘Italian’ espresso in the hood. It requires multiple tastings, but that’s the idea. Gabriella was born in Italy, and raised in Ottawa and New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, her mother, and a furry Shih Tzu named Oreo.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ LinkedIn

Personal Opinion:

Part guide, part autobiography, this is a good read for readers who are seeking to know the secret of why Italian women know how to have it together. Along the read, the book weaves a fascinating and immediate history of why Italy is a force to be reckoned with be it food to fashion. Although my ancestry is Eastern European, I found myself impressed with how she portrays Italian women and I imagine that the book has very important messages, especially for these times when connections are encouraged.

This is for Italy Book Tours


April 23 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
April 23 - Writers and Authors - book spotlight / guest post
​April 24 - Essentially Italian - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
April 24 - Olio by Marilyn - review / author interview / giveaway
April 25 - Two Points of Interest - review / giveaway
April 26 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
April 27 - Cheryl's Book Nook - review / giveaway
April 30 - #redhead.with.book - review / giveaway
May 2 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
May 2 - The Book Maiden - review
May 3 - Suko's Notebook - review
May 4 - Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - review
May 7 - Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - author interview
May 7 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
May 8 - Thoughts on This 'n That - review / author interview
May 9 - Ishiee's Book Blog - review / author interview / giveaway
May 10 - Teabags and Happenstance - review / author interview
May 11 - Jessica Cassidy - review / author interview / giveaway
May 11 - 30-something Travel - review / giveaway
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Book Spotlight for Ralphie, Always Loved by Andrea Yerramilli

Book Details:

Book Title: Ralphie, Always Loved by Andrea Yerramilli

Illustrated by: Samantha Van Riet

Category: Children's Fiction, 32 pages

Genre: Children's Picture Book

Publisher: About Something Good, LLC

Release date: October 28, 2017

Tour dates: April 9 to May 4, 2018

Content Rating: G

Book Description:

This is the story of the life, love, and adventures of a beloved family dog, and how he delighted and touched his family and everyone he met.

Ralphie was born with a heart on his belly.

He loves food, his family, his friends, his neighbors.

He loves pretty much everything and everyone.

And they love him back.

And that's how it is all through his life.

Read the book and fall in love with him too.

Rambunctious and hyperactive, Ralphie had already been returned to the animal shelter three times, but when Andrea and her husband adopted him and gave him a loving home where he was understood, accepted, and taught, he learned fast. As Ralphie's human family grew, so did his capacity for love and the ways he could express it. He remained a loving and beloved family member who touched the hearts of the whole neighborhood until he was ready to say goodbye at the grand-old age of sixteen. Ralphie, Always Loved will remind you of all that is good, and reaffirm your belief in love's power to uplift and transform.

Follow the tour by visiting Andrea Yerramilli's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author:

Andrea has always been an avid reader and that jumpstarted her imagination at a very early age. In fact she escaped to the Land of Make Believe more often than her mother liked.

She is a former marketing professional who is a mom to kids both with and without fur. Andrea says that it helps to have one foot planted firmly in reality while the other is foot loose and fancy-free in Imagination Land. She enjoys the best of both worlds.

In 2013, Andrea and her husband started About Something Good (ASG) as a vehicle to curate, inspire and share goodness in the world. In a world where negative images flood the media, and words like “hate” get tossed around so easily, Andrea felt she needed a space that encouraged and focused on the words like “love” and the beauty that is life.

Andrea is committed to finding the good in everything and believes: that a sense of belonging to someone's heart is what makes us feel complete, that kindness goes a long way, and that keeping your mind and heart open can help when things happen that you don't understand.

Andrea lives in New Jersey with her husband and children.

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

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends May 12, 2018

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