Update: Teaching College

So as many of you know, I am now teaching at Canadore College as a professor for the Appreciation of Media Design course. I never thought way back when I was in the Graphic Design program that I would ever be up at the front doing the actual teaching. But alas, here I am.

It has been taking a lot of my time as I have to lesson plan for each week and my books are feeling lonely (at least I think they are). On top of this, I still have my full-time job as a web developer and decided to do indoor volleyball for the autumn and winter season.

I am still doing my best to read as much as possible so have faith book bloggers, I will be adding more reviews soon. I am currently reading Fat Girl on a Plane by Kelly deVos and am about half way through.

How do you get through week by week with so much to do? Comment below what helps you stay organized? Maybe I could pick up some tips or stargies from you!

Talk soon bookworms!

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Guest Post: How to Make Your Books Both Enjoyable and Educational

This is a guest post by author Fiona Ingram as part of her book blog tour.

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Teachers and parents welcome with open arms books that help kids enjoy reading, immerse them in a wonderful new world and encourage them to want to learn more about the subject or topics covered in the story. The hardest part of writing fiction that involves facts, history, mythology, geography and the details that my middle-grade adventures involve is knowing what to put in and what to leave out.

My first middle-grade book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, is set in Egypt. Although I actually went to Egypt with my mom and my two nephews (who later became the templates for my young heroes), going to a place and writing about it are very different. I think Egypt was even more daunting than I imagined because so much has been written about the country, its history, and its culture that I felt under enormous pressure to check, double check, and check again (just in case) all my facts. There are also conflicting opinions of experts so one must be careful whose opinion one chooses.

I confess I overwrote the rough drafts of the first manuscript. There was so much information that I ended up almost drowning in it. It seems a shame that hours of research goes into looking up facts that will make perhaps only a brief mention in the chapter concerned. However, there is no point in inundating readers with lots of information. After careful thought, I realized that all I should include was what the young heroes needed to know as the plot unfolded. Details should be carefully and subtly woven into the story, always being an integral part of what the heroes need to know to move along in their adventure.

So, after the excitement of Egypt, what came next? The next book in my adventure series The Chronicles of the Stone takes place in Scotland, where the heroes are in search of the Second Stone of Power. The title is The Search for the Stone of Excalibur and that should be enough of a clue for fans to see where the story is heading. I had already spent a few amazing weeks in Scotland, researching old castles. Ask me anything about castles … with or without drawbridges, moats, portcullises, battlements … you name it, I visited it.

Finally, I settled upon the fabulous, fairytale setting of Dunrobin Castle, for me
an exquisite vision, as the setting for Book Two. Interviews with experts are a real boon. Leila, our fantastic guide in Egypt, was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge on the country. Contrary to what one might think, travel guides (the official ones) in any country, have a vast amount of knowledge on their subject. It came as no surprise to find that Leila had a university degree!

In Book 3: The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper, set in Mexico, the young heroes must play an ancient form of a ball game, the Mesoamerican ball game, to survive. I was fortunate enough to find an expert on the subject whose advice and book were invaluable. Again, so much has been written on this topic, as well as the ancient cultures of the Maya and the Aztecs—that feature in the story—that I really had to pare down the details to just what was integral to the plot and to the young heroes’ survival. Dialogue is a great way to include details that are necessary and having characters exchange information makes the detail realistic and interesting. I try to include storytelling by characters to share information. In all my books there are old stories or legends that make an appearance and add to the mystery. Told as a story within the main story makes it interesting for young readers. This could also lead on to further activities—for example, the students might enjoy acting out scenes from the stories, or even undertake their own research to find out if and how the fictional version deviates from the known facts.

Stories within the main story are a must. This gives an added depth and introduces cultural elements that are so unusual for young readers in a modern, media-driven and technologically saturated world. Within each of my books, the young heroes are told old stories, either legends or myths or in the case of Book 2: The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, the old ghost stories surrounding the castle. What a lovely experience, with delicious shivers going up and down their spines! In Book 3: The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper, the young heroes hear some important stories about the ancient Aztec and Maya gods, and when their adventures are finally over, they tell the story of their exploits to the villagers seated around the campfire, perhaps creating their own legends in a way.

Another excellent idea for authors whose books contain facts and relevant information is to include an appendix, either a young readers’ guide (which I do) or even just a glossary of unfamiliar words. Parents can then encourage their kids to read this to enhance their enjoyment of the story, achieve a greater understanding of the environment and atmosphere of the events, and teachers can use it to inspire further research. Contrary to popular opinion, kids love to learn, be it new words or new facts and/or details. Books that inspire the desire in kids to learn more deserve a top place on every bookshelf.

You can find Fiona at –
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/secretofthesacredscarab/
Website: www.chroniclesofthestone.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/FionaRobyn
Author Site: http://www.FionaIngram.com
Blog: http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2868182.Fiona_Ingram


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Book Review: Blood Will Out

New book review! This one is called Blood Will Out by Jo Treggiari and it was a thrill ride. There were a lot of mixed reviews on this one which surprised me. I finished it about a month ago but just got around to posting it. I have been crazy busy.

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Synopsis: Ari Sullivan is alive–for now. She wakes at the bottom of a cistern, confused, injured and alone, with only the shadowy recollection of a low-pitched voice and a gloved hand. No one can hear her screams. And the person who put her there is coming back. The killer is planning a gruesome masterpiece, a fairytale tableau of innocence and blood, meticulously designed.

Until now, Ari was happy to spend her days pining for handsome, recent-arrival Stroud Bellows, fantasizing about their two-point-four-kids-future together. Safe in her small hometown of Dempsey Hollow. But now her community has turned very dangerous — and Ari may not be the only intended victim.

Told in alternating perspectives of predator and prey, Blood Will Out is a gripping and terrifying read.

I had an advanced ARC of this book which I finally read when I had some offtime. The book is published now and in stores all over. It was cool to see it on the shelf when I was taking a stroll through book heaven.

I really loved this book. It starts with the main character trapped in a cistern and just keeps the suspense coming. I pictured myself in this situation and I give props to Ari because she is a beast for everything that she goes through. It was easy to relate with her because she is a swimmer/lifeguard and we both love the smell of chlorine (I have so many lifeguard sweaters that I have lost count).

I don’t see how this book only got a mediocre rating on Goodreads. I thought it was so good. It was a story full of layers that kept slowly unraveling as you went. I thought I knew who the killer was and changed my mind 3 different times to still be surprised at the end.

Jesse was a character I related with. He was the creepy dude that was kind of just did his own thing and was just a blip in the main characters life. A shadow that is there but not seen. Lynn was really fun too. She just stood up for herself and what she believed in and didn’t let anyone tell her otherwise. She and Ari have a strong bond and a friendship that you know will last.

SPOILER (Skip this part if you intend to read it)

I can’t believe it was the librarian! I would never have guessed it would be her in a million years. I had a small inkling that it was going to be a woman because the flashbacks of the killer’s memories made it sound like it was a boy and I figured the author wanted to throw us off the trail. But the librarian?! I thought it was Stroud and then I thought it was Lynn up until the very end when the big reveal showed it was the librarian and then all the pieces fell into place and it all made sense. The fact that she got away and moved on to the next town added that extra level of creepy which is just too good! Unfinished business for the killer 😛 muahahaha

I would recommend this book to anyone that wants a suspenseful, intense, action-packed adventure that will scare you to your core. It actually made me feel like I was watching a scary movie in my head when I was reading this masterpiece. Haters can hate but this book was phenomenal! Enjoy it bookworms. Seriously, buy this book! You will love it. Or get scared but it will be worth the thrill.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can find this book on Amazon and in Chapters stores as you can see above 🙂


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Book Review: Betrayal of Justice

Book Review Friday!! Oh wait, I don’t think that is a thing….well now it is. This one was called Betrayal of Justice by Mark Bello (if you remember, my last review was for Mark’s other book Betrayal of Faith). I enjoyed some cider while I read this one on the backyard patio.

Synopsis: High-profile attorney Zachary Blake returns in this action-packed legal and political thriller, representing a desperate client who tried to solve a crime, only to find herself charged with murder.

A new president, determined to “make America pure again,” is elected and inaugurated and a white nationalist, inspired by the new president’s hateful rhetoric, firebombs a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan. After Arya Khan, a young Muslim woman, believes that the local police are not serious about solving the crime, she does some investigating of her own. Arya identifies a suspect and follows him, only to become a witness to his brutal murder after police find her standing over the body, holding a bloody knife. When Arya is arrested for the murder, she and her family turn to Zachary Blake.

Blake races against time to prove her innocence before the police complete their investigation. At the same time, a white supremacist group tries to cover up any connection to the crime and the new president seeks to use the case to jumpstart his Muslim deportation effort.

This was the second legal thriller I have read and I have to say I am really being drawn into the genre. Mark Bello continues to keep me entertained with his character of Zachary Blake. In fact, almost all the characters from the first book made an appearance in this one.

There was a very obvious villain which was the new president of the United States. He was essentially Trump ( I am fairly certain the author created this character based on Trump) and made all the same promises during his campaign. The white supremacist groups wanted to help this president achieve his goals by carrying out some of them on their own. One being the firebombing of a Muslim mosque.

The main character is Arya Khan. She gets herself in quite a mess when she tries to follow the potential suspect of the firebombing to his home and witnesses him being murdered by another white supremacist. She goes to help him and gets caught by the police hovering over his dead body. Enter Zachary Blake to save the day by representing her in court.

The novel takes some intense turns and has quite a finale. I was loving all the technical law terms again. It feels like I learn the process of the judicial court system as I read this book :).

I was very fond of the theme of the book which was inclusivity. Basically, it was anti-Trump and stating that we should treat each other equally because we are all mankind and life is better without discrimination. I fully support this notion and will get behind a book that fights back against bigotry.

The only con I would have for this book was that Arya was spelled “Ayra” a couple times at the beginning of the book so at first, I had no idea if her name was Arya or Ayra. But after Chapter 2, she was called Arya the rest of the book so it settled itself out.

Overall, it was a great book that was captivating from start to finish. I won’t say anything about the outcome of Arya’s case so that you can read it and find out for yourself!

What are your thoughts on legal thrillers? Have you read this genre before? If not, I think you should try it out 🙂

Book Rating: 4/5

You can find the book on Amazon!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me in physical format by the author to read and give an honest review.


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Book Review & Giveaway: Rats, Mice and Other Things You Can Take To The Bank

I finished another book guys! I did it. I read a lot 😀

This one was called Rats, Mice and Other Things You Can Take to the Bank by Leslie Handler. If you read the blog regularly, then you would have seen my post on the book highlight.

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Synopsis: Part memoir, part essay collection, Rats, Mice, and Other Things You Can’t Take to the Bank is written with both wit and charm. It will take you on a ride from finding a mouse in the house to the mortgage crisis, from a smile to a chuckle and from a few tears to the feeling of being wrapped in a blanket sipping a warm cup of cocoa on a cold winter’s day. Handler offers a rich, touching, heartfelt and reflective read that will leave the reader with an indelible uplifting spirit.

I really enjoyed this book. Reading this book was like sitting down with a good friend and chatting about life while having a coffee. It reminded me of the nice warm evenings spent in playing games and spending time with family.

Leslie speaks about her life and all the things she has encountered such as battling cancer, raising a family (more than just children, lots of pets), how she met the love of her life and how to cope with trends and technology among other things. All of her writing is very humorous and I found myself laughing a lot. She has a lot of good advice and it comes at you with a comforting motherly tone.

I would recommend this book to give yourself a boost in your mood. It will have you smiling in no time as you relate to more than one funny instance that we have all dealt with just like Leslie.

And you have the option to win it! She sent me two copies so I am hosting a giveaway! Click on the link below to enter and a winner will be drawn on May 31st!

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Alright well thats it for now. Talk to you later Bookworms and goodluck with the giveaway! I hope you win …..yes you.

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