Book Review: The Ambassador Of What

Bookworms! I am super excited to share this review of The Ambassador Of What by Adrian Michael Kelly. This book was sent to me by an amazing publishing company called ECW Press as part of a blog collaboration I reached out to them about doing.

Publishers Weekly recognizes ECW Press as one of the most diversified independent publishers in North America. ECW Press has published close to 1,000 books that are distributed throughout the English-speaking world and translated into dozens of languages.

Synopsis: Slogging through the miles of a city marathon, an eleven-year-old boy encounters small miracles; about to marry one of her patients in a home for the elderly, a nurse asks her estranged son to come to the wedding and give her away; home from university, a young man has Christmas dinner with his hard-up dad in a bistro behind a rural gas bar. Men and boys and maleness, money and its lack, the long haunt of childhood, marriage and divorce — these lie at the heart of The Ambassador of What. Driven by an ear for how we talk, how we feel, how we fail, and how we love, these are tough and tender stories that take hold, and linger.

Honestly, this book was brilliant. It was so real and showed the sides of a family in all their great times and all their struggles. No family is ever perfect and it was refreshing to see that portrayed in these storylines.

The book was completely set in Canada (primarily Ontario) which I loved because this is where I live. I am in North Bay but the book referenced Toronto, Kingston, Sudbury and then other small towns in Ontario. Books that are set in my home country always resonate with me. It’s amazing to have attention being drawn to your home; the place where you have grown and created stories and memories in your lifetime.

It isn’t too long either so it keeps you interested from start to finish. The last part was about a father and son going fishing and it was so similar to how I used to go fishing with my dad. They had the same mannerisms in their preparation for the daily catch and what bait they used (frogs on a hook). I was not a fan of the impaling of frogs on a hook as I was a kid and felt bad for the frogs so I tended to use other styles of bait or the old classic worm and a bobble lure. I felt like I was reading my memory straight out of my brain. Then I had a dream about fishing that night that was so vivid, I felt very nostalgic the next day. A book that can bring out this feeling and emotion in me is one you don’t forget so quickly.

Overall, I would suggest picking up this book for a quick, entertaining read that will bring you back to your roots.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy this book on ECW Press and find it on Amazon and Goodreads!

Sidenote: I am running a fundraiser for our local Food Bank in North Bay to raise money and make sure that families will have something to eat over the holidays. You can donate at this link:

https://www.facebook.com/donate/2243695192532823/?fundraiser_source=external_url

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

Buy Now

Book Review: Push On – My Walk to Recovery on the Appalachian Trail

Chris Connors has hit us up with another review for the blog! This one is called Push On: My Walk to Recovery on the Appalachian Trail by Niki Rellon.

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[note: this is a review of the first edition. After I submitted this review, I was forwarded an updated copy of the book in which the new formatting makes for a better reading experience; see notes at the end]

This is a 285-page book about extreme athlete Niki Rellon’s struggle to recover from a horrific accident in Montezuma Canyon, Utah that left her with a missing leg and daily pain. It chronicles her struggle to overcome the doctors’ pessimistic prognosis (she should learn to get used to a wheelchair), her injuries, her pain medication dependency, and her own despair (how was a restless nomadic athlete supposed to adapt to a desk job? Spoiler alert: she didn’t, but you’ll have to read it to find out where her adventures took her—aside from the trail, that is).

“A diamond in the rough” probably sums up this book—and perhaps the author—which has some rough edges that hides its value. A rough diamond can look quite unremarkable, but shows its true value when much of it has been cut away and polished.

The book starts well, but it seems the editor did not see much of the book. There are some mild editing problems in the beginning: three foreshadowing sentences in two pages, a few awkward sentences “I’d never even heard of Paradox Sports, but they’d heard my story from a base jumper who’d been at the same time in that Hospital in Grand Junction I’d been there”, and sentences that belaboured the obvious. One humorous spelling mistake about her brother’s wedding produced a great euphemism I’ll be using now. “Every time I posted something on Facebook about a breakdown, they [her parents]got more and more nervous about me making it to Germany in time for my brothers weeding.

By the middle it was similar to a high-school diary with stream of conscious from present day to past with no coherent narrative, what parties she attended, books and movies read and seen, restaurants visited, and interjections about who was a jerk, who was a creep, who was an angel (angels outnumber creeps and jerks, which itself is uplifting).

The Appalachian Trail part of the book starts on page 122, then there are numerous detours back in time to earlier events, as well as numerous social forays at stopping points along the trail or while she was waiting for infections in her leg to heal or prosthetic repairs. We are treated to what life as an active athlete is like before and after the accident. The detours, though, do not seem to relate to the main narrative, but are more random connections—she sees a dog, she remembers her own childhood’s dog.

One’s heart goes out to Rellon. For example, Rellon gave the nurse her height and weight in metric. The nurse hadn’t even heard of metric. Rellon felt like she’d walked into a Third-World hospital. One can only imagine how she felt upon discovering she was at the mercy of a nurse who had managed to graduate without even being aware of the metric system. What else doesn’t she know? This level of incompetence is stunning—even nurses in Third World hospitals know the metric system as only the US, along with Liberia and Myanamar, still use the antiquated imperial system.

The book is littered with inspirational quotes (I view inspirational quotes the same way Rellon views shrinks—her term, not mine) that are randomly salted throughout chapters without obvious relevance to the topic at hand. They were written in 14-point Algerian font with reddish letters, which jarred me out of the flow that was present in the early chapters. I started skipping over quotes the same way I skip over ads on webpages. Perhaps they’d work better at the top of each new chapter, or if they were placed in an inset box where they fit the topic under discussion.

Another big item that distracted from the narrative were the pictures. They’d been resized without regard for proportions (holding the Shift key down while dragging at the corner of the picture will keep the original proportion while you change the size). As well, faces were marred with bad photoshopping. It is good to value someone’s privacy, but permission to use their faces could be obtained from good friends or Facebook friends; the rest could be gently blurred or pixelated.

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Eventually, I had to start skipping over the pictures as I found them cumulatively disturbing. I did not find the pictures of her infected stump disturbing though, just missing faces—other readers’ mileage may vary.

faces

Missing faces are always creepy.

This book is more like a biography as only about half of the book takes place on the trail. An editor would have her change the title to reflect this. Or, an editor would keep the title but have her use the trail as a skeleton for the rest of the story. For example, the book begins with the accident. Later, there is a trail story where she almost dies from hypothermia and gale force winds that knocked her off her feet. This story is told beginning to end which leads to no real suspense. Now, suppose the book opens with that story, talks about how she tries to huddle into a wet sleeping bag thinking, “How did I get here, in the middle of a storm on a mountain, far from help, just months after I was told I’d have to use a wheelchair for most of my life?”—then cut away to the accident, leaving us wondering how she got out of the trail predicament. It’d keep people reading to find out what happened next.

The flawed delivery should not take away from Rellon’s message though. The accident was horrible—rocks always seemed more unforgiving in eastern Utah—and her determination to push on, to recover, to prove the naysayers wrong is motivational.

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Unforgiving rocks. Photo by CC

There is so much potential in this book to be far better. It is an inspirational story, and with some cutting, some polishing, it could easily become the diamond that is already there.

Addendum to the newer edition—now with some polishing.

The new edition’s interior layout looks great. They’ve changed from Cambria font to MinionPro, altered the information and look of the headers, gone from blocky-looking paragraphs to smoother paragraph transitions that let the eye flow naturally along without jumping across white spaces between paragraphs. This appears to be the work of NZGraphics and Nick Zelinger, according to the front piece.

The pictures are higher resolution, and some of the distortion has been corrected too. Compare the two editions below—the one on the left is the updated version.

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Night-and-day difference. Kudos to whoever did this (Nick of NZGraphics.com, and Niki and Jeremy?)

The quotes are also formatted with DancingScript (I think) and delineated with lines above and below the quote. I wouldn’t have thought that technique would be effective, but as I read through parts of the book again the quotes no longer jarred me out of my reading rhythm. In both pictures note the changes in paragraph layout to the more eye-pleasing updated version.

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Quote formatting made a world of difference in presentation and reading

I didn’t see any editing of the words or sentences themselves—I was happy to see her brother was still going to be weeded—but I only compared small sections. Still, even without grammar and typo corrections, the book is greatly improved just by these changes alone; they also added a shark photograph at the end—you can never go wrong with a shark photograph (says the completely unbiased biologist)—well done, folks. A vast improvement, quite reader-friendly, and shows more of the diamond that was hidden.

Book Rating: 3.5/5 stars

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format to read and give an honest review.

Kobo Canada

Time To Refresh Blog Tour: 7 Ways to Build Your Personal Author Brand

We joined up with a bunch of amazing book bloggers for the Time To Refresh Blog Tour!

BOOK IMAGE Time to Refresh (1)

Book summary

What happens when some part of your life comes to a screeching halt?

Time to Refresh: A 21- Day Devotional to Renew Your Mind After Being Laid Off, Fired or Sidelined, highlights Karen Brown Tyson’s journey through the Bible following one of three layoffs in her life.

Watch how God leads one woman on a 21-day journey through the Bible and teaches her how to G.L.O.W.— gratitude, listen, observe and witness.

Print Length: 68 pages

Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help

Publisher: Constant Communicators

ISBN: 978-0692170489

Time to Refresh is available to purchase on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

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About the Author

For the past 25 years, Karen Brown Tyson worked for Fortune 500 companies in the fast food, pharmaceutical, and telecommunication industries. Today, Karen is the founder of Constant Communicators, a lifestyle business that helps people improve their business writing skills. Time to Refresh:  A 21-Day Devotional to Renew Your Mind After Being Laid Off, Fired or Sidelined was released in August 2018.  Karen lives in North Carolina with her husband and son.

You can find Karen at –

Personal Website – www.karenbrowntyson.com 

Blog: https://karenbrowntyson.com/blog-2-feed/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KBTWrites 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Write-to-Inspire-385353048666490/


Without further ado, here is Karen’s article:

7 Ways to Build Your Personal Author Brand

Let me guess…

You are busy writing your book.  Or maybe you’re working on an article for Forbes or Inc. magazine.  Your writing career is finally taking off but you are always looking for ways to connect with potential readers.

Now you need to focus your attention on something just as important as your writing.

Your personal brand.

You have been so busy writing you haven’t thought about marketing your work, let alone building a personal brand.  And before you object, yes, you need a personal brand.  Why?  Because a brand is anything that separates one product from another.  Your personal brand as a writer will let people know who you are, what you stand for and what you write about.

Below are seven ideas on how to build your personal brand.  One thing to remember:  There is no one way to do this.  What works for one writer may not work for another writer. Focus on what works for you.  Be authentic and stay true to yourself.

Social Media

Using social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedIn might connect you with your audience.   Before you tweet, post or like anything, determine the messages you will post and how often.  Create a simple strategy on how you will use social media.  Test different social media platforms and select two. Don’t build your brand on all platforms.

Content platforms

Consider posting content or chapters from your book on content platforms like Medium and Thrive Global. Drive readers to your website or landing page through links in your content.

Landing pages

A landing page is a single web page used to promote one topic or product.  With a landing page, you can sell your book, offer free giveaways like an ebook or course and build an email distribution list. If you don’t have a website, landing pages are a great way to connect with your audience.  Include a link to your landing page in your social media messages and articles.

Website

A website allows you to highlight several aspects of your writing — books, blog, workshops, speaking engagement dates, products, reviews, etc.  A website is good for sharing your work with potential literary agents and event planners looking for speakers for an event. A word of caution:  Keep your website updated with new information.  Create a plan for how you will manage your website including an editorial calendar if you are planning to have a blog.

Blog

A blog allows you to expose current and new readers to your writing. Use your blog to position yourself as a thought-leader with experience related to various topics. Make a list of topics you plan to write about regularly.  Create an editorial calendar outlining when you will cover each topic. Test how readers react to each blog post.

Guest posts

Writing content for other blogs is a good way to meet new readers and build your brand.  Pitch story ideas to bloggers who share your interests.  Include a link to your website or landing page in your guest blog post.

Podcast

Blogging and guest blogging take time.  If you are working on your next book, you may find it hard to write more content for a blog.  If so, consider starting a podcast where you interview guests about topics important to you and your readers.  You can post the transcript from the podcast on your website.


Here is the entire list of the blog tour dates:

November 26th @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and stop by the Muffin blog where you can read an interview with author Karen Brown Tyson and enter to win a copy of her book Time to Refresh.
muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

November 29th @ Bookworm Blog
Be sure to stop by Anjanette’s blog where you can read Karen Brown Tyson’s guest post on managing career, home, and ministry.
bookworm66.wordpress.com

November 29th @ The Frugalista Mom
Visit Rozelyn’s blog where you can read her review of Karen Brown Tyson’s book Time to Refresh.
http://thefrugalistamom.com/

November 30th @ Amateur Twin Mom
Visit Jonelle’s blog to read what she has to say about Karen Brown Tyson’s book Time to Refresh.
https://www.amateurtwinmom.com

December 3rd @ Beverley A Baird Blog
Visit Beverley’s blog where Karen Brown Tyson talks about how to improve your writing life.
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

December 5th @ Break Even Books
Stop by Erik’s blog where you can read Karen Brown Tyson’s blog post about how to build your personal brand.
https://breakevenbooks.com/

December 5th @  Jill Sheets Blog
Stop by Jill’s blog today where you can read Karen Brown Tyson’s blog post about how to improve your writing life.
https://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

December 6th @ Beverley A Baird Blog
Visit Beverley’s blog again where she shares her thoughts about Karen Brown Tyson’s book Time to Refresh.
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

December 7th @ Bookworm Blog
Visit Anjanette’s blog again where she interviews author Karen Brown Tyson about her book Time to Refresh.
bookworm66.wordpress.com

December 8th @ A Storybook World
Visit Deirdra’s blog where you can read Karen Brown Tyson’s blog post about fearless writing.
http://www.astorybookworld.com/

December 9th @ Reducing Overload
Stop by Peggy’s blog to read author Karen Brown Tyson’s post about journaling and stress management.
http://reducingoverload.com/

December 13th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey
Visit Kathleen’s blog where you can read Karen Brown Tyson’s blog post about fearless writing.
https://krpooler.com/

December 13th @ M.C. Walker’s Blog
Visit M.C. Walker’s blog where she interviews author Karen Brown Tyson about her and her book Time to Refresh.
https://seeminoltawrite.com/

December 14th @ Strength 4 Spouses
Visit Wendi’s blog where you can read Karen Brown Tyson’s blog post about having faith during difficult times.
https://strength4spouses.blog/

December 15th @ Jessica’s Reading Room
Visit Jessica’s blog where you can read her thoughts on Karen Brown Tyson’s book Time to Refresh.
http://jessicasreadingroom.com

December 16th @ 12 Books
Visit Louise’s blog where she shares her opinion on Karen Brown Tyson’s book Time to Refresh.
http://www.12books.co.uk/

December 18th @ Look to the Western Sky
Visit Margo’s blog where you can read Karen Brown Tyson’s blog post about parenting.
https://www.margoldill.com/

December 20th @ Strength 4 Spouses
Visit Wendi’s blog again where you can read her opinion about Karen Brown Tyson’s book Time to Refresh.
https://strength4spouses.blog/

December 20th @ The Faerie Review
Visit Lily Shadowlyn’s blog where you can read Karen Brown Tyson’s blog post about journaling.
http://www.thefaeriereview.com/

December 21st @ The World of My Imagination
Visit Nicole’s blog where she shares her thoughts about Karen Brown Tyson’s book Time to Refresh.
http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

December 23rd @ Look to the Western Sky
Be sure to stop by Margo’s blog again where you find out what she had to say about Karen Brown Tyson’s book Time to Refresh.
https://www.margoldill.com/

December 23rd @ Coffee with Lacey
Visit Lacey’s blog where you can read Karen Brown Tyson’s blog post about journaling.
http://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com

 December 24th @ Coffee with Lacey
Stop by Lacey’s blog again where she reviews Karen Brown Tyson’s book Time to Refresh.
http://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com

December 27th @ The Frugalista Mom
Be sure to visit Rozelyn’s blog again where you can read Karen Brown Tyson’s blog post about change management.
http://thefrugalistamom.com/


Deals of the Week: new deals every week, online only!

Guest Post: Exercise the brain and jog your inspiration

We joined up with another group of amazing bloggers to be a part of their blog tour. The tour is for All Eyes on Alexandra by Anna Levine.

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Book summary

 In All Eyes on Alexandra, young Alexandra Crane is terrible at following her family in their flying Vee. She can’t help it that the world is so full of interesting distracting sights! When it’s time for the Cranes to migrate to Israel’s Hula Valley for the winter, Alexandra is excited but her family is worried. Will Alexandra stay with the group, and what happens if a dangerous situation should arise? Might Alexandra—and the rest of the flock—discover that a bad follower can sometimes make a great leader?

Based on the true story of Israel’s annual crane migration.

Print Length: 32 Pages

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Publisher: Kar-Ben Pub

ISBN-10: 1512444391

ISBN-13: 978-1512444391

All Eyes on Alexandra is available to purchase on AmazonBarnes and NobleTarget and Thrift Books.

About the Author

Author photo

Anna Levine is an award-winning children’s book author. Like Alexandra Crane, the character in her latest picture book, she loves to explore new worlds. Born in Canada, Anna has lived in the US and Europe.  She now lives in Israel, where she writes and teaches.

You can find Anna Levine online at —

Author website: http://www.annalevine.org/

Twitter: @LevineAnna 

Instagram: @booksfromanna 

About the Illustrator

artist

 Chiara Pasqualotto was born in Padua, in northern Italy, currently teaches illustration and drawing classes to children and adults, in particular in Padua during the summer at the Scuola Internazionale di Comics and in Rome. Since 2008 she’s been living in Rome and working with illustration professionally: her first picture book, Mine, All Mine! was published in 2009 by Boxer Books (UK), since then she published with Oxford University Press, Giunti, Terranuova and some American publishers (Paraclete Press, Tyndale, LearningAZ, Kar-Ben Publisher).

You can find Chiara Pasqualotto online at –

Artist website: https://romeartweek.com/en/artists/?id=1495&ida=1004

Blog: http://chiarapasqualotto.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clairepaspage/

And now a guest post that Anna wrote for us!

Exercise the brain and jog your inspiration.

Like Alexandra, the character in my book, I move around a lot. I was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada grew up in Montreal, Quebec, lived in California for four years, Verona, Italy for one year and now live in Israel. When it comes to being inspired, for me there’s no better way than seeing new countries, living as a local (in Verona, where they don’t buy vegetables in bulk, I learned to buy lettuce by the leaf) tasting, listening and soaking up the atmosphere of new places.

But what happens when life interferes and you can’t just take off? That’s when I always come back to my favorite quote by Marcel Proust (author of Swann’s Way also known as Remembrance of Things Past) “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.” At times we become so blinded to the familiar that we don’t see the beauty and uniqueness in the world we live. Here are some tricks I use to jog my imagination when I need inspiration.

#1. Leave the car at home. Take the bus, the train, the subway or metro. When you’re out and about take note of faces, fashions and unusual gestures. Listen to the mix of languages and dialects.

#2. Enjoy coffee from your favorite café, but from time to time try a new one. I love my neighborhood coffee shop, (which borders on a cemetery and is a very quiet space to work), but spicing up my cappuccino at a different cafe is sometimes exactly what I need to get a new perspective on a character or chapter of my manuscript.

#3. Walk. Bike. Ski. Skate. Jog. If it worked for the philosopher Henry Thoreau, who said that ‘the moment my legs began to move, the thoughts came,’ it’s worth a try. When I’m stuck on a plot development or annoyed with a character who isn’t listening to me, I get out of my chair and either take a long walk around the neighborhood or get on my bike. Writers spend a lot of time in their heads (and in our seats), we need to get up, move around and interact in order to be inspired and see our world (and our manuscripts) from a new perspective.

Blog Tour Dates


December 3rd @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Make sure you visit WOW’s blog today and read an interview with the author and enter for a chance to win a copy of the book All Eyes on Alexandra.

muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com


December 5th @ Cassandra’s Writing World

Visit Cassandra’s blog where she shares her thoughts about Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://cassandra-mywritingworld.blogspot.com/

December 5th @ Break Even Books

Visit Erik’s blog where you can read Anna Levine’s guest post about how to jog your inspiration.

https://breakevenbooks.com/

December 7th @ Coffee with Lacey

Grab some coffee and visit Lacey’s blog where you can read her review of Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com


December 8th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony Avina’s blog today where he joins in the fun of celebrating and shares information about Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 8th @ Christy’s Cozy Corners

Visit Christy’s blog and cozy up while you read her review of Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://christyscozycorners.com/

December 9th @ Coffee with Lacey

Visit Lacey’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s guest post about designing your ideal writing spot.

http://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com

December 9th @ Christy’s Cozy Corner

Visit Christy’s blog where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about how she decided to use crane’s in her story.

https://christyscozycorners.com/
December 10th @ Thoughts in Progress

Visit Pamela’s blog where you can read Anna Levine’s guest post about how authors use anthropomorphic animals.

http://masoncanyon.blogspot.com/

December 11th @ Read. Write. Sparkle. Coffee.

Make sure you visit Jeanie’s blog today and read her thoughts about Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://www.readwritesparklecoffee.com/
December 12th @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Visit Anthony Avina’s blog where he interviews Anna Levine, author of All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 13th @ Read. Write. Sparkle. Coffee.

Make sure you visit Jeanie’s blog today and read Anna Levine’s guest post about building a theme day around a picture book.

http://www.readwritesparklecoffee.com/

December 13th @ Oh for the Hook of a Book

Visit Erin’s blog where she shares her thoughts on Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

www.hookofabook.wordpress.com

December 15th @ A Storybook World

Visit Deirdra’s blog where she features Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra in a spotlight post.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

December 17th @ World of My Imagination

Stop by Nicole’s blog today where you can read her review of Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

December 19th @ Cassandra’s Writing World

Visit Cassandra’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about naming your characters.

https://cassandra-mywritingworld.blogspot.com

December 19th @ Linda’s Blog

Make sure you visit Linda’s blog today where you can read her thoughts about Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://www.lindaleekane.com/blog

December 20th @ Word Magic: All About Books 

Visit Fiona’s blog where you can read her review of Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

December 21st @ Bring on Lemons

Make sure you grab some lemonade and stop by Crystal’s blog today where she reviews Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

December 27th @ Linda’s Blog

Visit Linda’s blog again where you can read her interview with author Anna Levine.

https://www.lindaleekane.com/blog


December 28th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Visit Beverley’s blog today you can read her review of Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/
December 31st @ Strength 4 Spouses

Visit Wendi’s blog and read Anna Levine’s guest post on learning about families and different cultures.

https://strength4spouses.blog/
January 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit author Anthony Avina’s blog where he shares his thoughts about Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra. 

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

January 3rd @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Visit Beverley’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about getting into the head of your middle-grade characters.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

January 4th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit author Anthony Avina’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about using fiction to write non-fiction.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

January 7th @ Strength 4 Spouses Blog

Visit Wendi’s blog again where you can read her thoughts about the book All Eyes on Alexandra by Anna Levine.

https://strength4spouses.blog/

Kobo Canada

Book Review: Factfulness – Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World

Sara sent me a great review of a book she read. It wasn’t on our TBR but it was her little side project and clearly, she loved this book. Take a look at her review below.

*Sidenote: If you are looking for Christmas presents for someone, Sara makes these adorable little craft creatures. Check out her Etsy Shop to see what she has. I know the Potterheads will love her little creations.*

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Synopsis: When asked simple questions about global trends—what percentage of the world’s population live in poverty; why the world’s population is increasing; how many girls finish school—we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess teachers, journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers.

In Factfulness, Professor of International Health and global TED phenomenon Hans Rosling, together with his two long-time collaborators, Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens. They reveal the ten instincts that distort our perspective—from our tendency to divide the world into two camps (usually some version of us and them) to the way we consume media (where fear rules) to how we perceive progress (believing that most things are getting worse).

Our problem is that we don’t know what we don’t know, and even our guesses are informed by unconscious and predictable biases.

It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think. That doesn’t mean there aren’t real concerns. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.

Inspiring and revelatory, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Factfulness is an urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world and empower you to respond to the crises and opportunities of the future.

I think the best summary of this book is one of the final paragraphs in the book:
“I don’t tell you not to worry. I tell you to worry about the right things. I don’t tell you to look away from the news or to ignore the activists’ calls to action. I tell you to ignore the noise, but keep an eye on the big global risks. I don’t tell you not to be afraid. I tell you to stay coolheaded and support the global collaborations we need to reduce these risks. Control your urgency instinct. Control all your dramatic instincts. Be less stressed by the imaginary problems of an overdramatic world, and more alert to the real problems and how to solve them.”

This book is amazing. Everyone should read it – and I don’t ever even read non-fiction!
This book explains why the world is better off than we think, and what some of our major misperceptions are. The impressive thing, though, is that this is explained in an entertaining, and easy to understand way. It’s a quick, easy read, that thoroughly and simply explains major misperceptions we ALL have about the world, and where our focus actually should be – while still being backed up by plenty of easy-to-follow evidence.

Seriously. Read this book. It’s an easy read and helps you realize that things aren’t as bad as we think, and where we should actually be directing our efforts to improve the world. Read this book. Buy this book for someone.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was an extra read that Sara took on to for a fun side project. It was not asked of her to review it. She just chose to.


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Book Review: Suffering Ends When Awakening Begins

SO I heard you were looking for another book review. Surprise! I have one right here 🙂 This one is called Suffering Ends When The Awakening Begins by Robert Crown.

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Synopsis: How Does a Child’s Life Change When His Mother Tries to Murder Him? It’s one of the most profound betrayals imaginable, and it can follow the victim into adulthood, into all he does with his life, tainting his sense of self and his relationships with others. How does a man’s life change when he discovers that with his thoughts, his imagination, and his ability to listen to his higher self, he has the power to overcome the devastating events of his past and build a new life and a family?

This book was a true story about the author’s life and all the hardships he endured while growing up. The first chapter had me captivated from the very first line as it starts off with his mom almost killing him as a child. The worst part was that she was trying to do it intentionally! I felt like I was reading a script from CSI where they examined a crime scene and kind of put together what happened before the victims became the victims. I honestly feel like I would be very messed up for the rest of my life if this happened to me. So kudos to the author for turning out ok after that.

I kept reading and thinking, “wow this guy can’t catch a break”. There were so many circumstances in his life that just didn’t work out for him. The pros were that this author had me reading constantly. I was so intrigued and captivated by his life that I didn’t want to put the book down. He has a good message at the end of the book that is worth reading it for.

The cons were that there were some small spelling mistakes. Not a crazy amount, but just enough to bug me. Luckily they were spread out so it was easy to pass off.

*Update: Apparently I had an earlier version of the book before the revisions so these little spelling mistakes have been corrected.*

Overall, I would recommend this book if you want an inspiring story about a guy that managed to turn his life around after hitting rock bottom.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and give it a rating on Goodreads!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format to read and give an honest review.


There is also another book on the block that you should check out if you haven’t heard of it yet. It is called Addicted To Hate by Lucia Mann and it is a great one! You can find it on Amazon or on her website: www.luciamann.com!

 

Addicted to Hate - Front Cover

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The Pros and Cons of Using a Pen Name

We have a great post for you by Cindy Fazzi! She is the author of My MacArthur and she wrote a helpful article about the pros and cons of using a pen name. Without further ado, here it is:

After using a pen name in two traditionally published romance novels, my literary historical novel, My MacArthur, got published under my real name. It’s a dream come true, but it also posed a big challenge in marketing and branding. Let me share with you the lowdown on using a pseudonym versus one’s real name as a novelist.

Advantages of a Pen Name

You can write in different genres. When I wrote my first romance novel in 2013, I used a pseudonym—Vina Arno—to separate it from my other works. In the publishing world, there exists a line between genre (such as romance) and literary. I was afraid my non-romance novels would not be acquired by traditional publishers unless I separate them from my genre work. Also, the separation is beneficial in terms of targeting readers; the audiences are different for romance and literary fiction.

On Nov. 1, 2018, my first “serious” novel, My MacArthur, was published by an award-winning small press. It’s a fictionalized account of General Douglas MacArthur’s interracial, May-December love affair with Isabel Rosario Cooper, a Filipino actress, in the 1930s. Its publication came just months after my second romance novel, Finder Keeper of My Heart, was published by another publisher.

There are many other writers who have done the same thing. Mystery writer Agatha Christie wrote romance novels under the pseudonym, Mary Westmacott. Vampire genre writer Anne Rice wrote erotic novels under the pen names Anne Rampling and A.N. Roquelaure.

You can remain anonymous and maintain privacy. Best-selling writers like J.K. Rowling and Elena Ferrante use pen names to be able to write in peace. It worked for a while. Perhaps they were both too famous to remain anonymous. People eventually discovered that Robert Gailbreath was Rowling’s pseudonym for her thrillers. Meanwhile, an Italian journalist revealed that Elena Ferrante was really the translator Anita Raja, though she has not admitted it.

You can start over. When authors fail to sell enough books, they sometimes need to reinvent themselves using a pen name. It happened to Melanie Benjamin, the author of the historical novel, “The Aviator’s Wife,” whose real name is Melanie Hauser. She openly acknowledged that she adopted a pseudonym because her first novels (chick lit), published under her real name, were unsuccessful. The new name gave her a clean slate.

Disadvantages of a Pen Name

It’s a hassle. Adopting a pen name is like changing your last name after getting married. You have to get a new social security card, driver’s license, and passport, and change your name on bank accounts and credit cards. With a pen name, you don’t have to change documents, but you need to establish your new persona in terms of bylines, website, and social media accounts. Needless to say, it requires a lot of patience.

It’s confusing. During the publication of my first romance novel, I communicated with my editor and other staffers at my publishing house using my real name, but all of my documents were marked according to my pen name. On some email lists for authors, my pen name was used.

That was a minor headache compared with the pang of identity crisis I felt when I created an author’s page on Goodreads, Amazon.com, and Facebook. Maintaining multiple accounts using different names requiring slightly different biographies is confusing and inconvenient.

It’s a lot of work. It’s difficult to build name recognition. With a pen name, you have to do it more than once, depending on how many pseudonyms you use. For the past three years, I’ve been building my pen name. With the publication of My MacArthur, I have to do it all over again using my real name.

If you’re thinking of using a pseudonym, be sure to weigh all the pros and cons. Don’t take it lightly because it’s going to affect your journey as a writer.

 

About the Author
Cindy Fazzi is a Filipino-American writer and former Associated Press reporter. She has worked as a journalist in the Philippines, Taiwan, and the United States. My MacArthur, published by Sand Hill Review Press, is her literary debut. She writes romance novels under the pen name Vina Arno. Her first romance book, In His Corner, was published by Lyrical Press in 2015. Her second romance novel, Finder Keeper of My Heart, was published by Painted Hearts Publishing
in 2018. Her short stories have been published in Snake Nation Review, Copperfield Review, and SN Review.

You can find Cindy at –

Author Website: https://www.cindyfazzi.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CindyFazzi
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cindyfazzi/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cindy-Fazzi-779654065440439/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/862157.Cindy_Fazzi
GooglePlus: https://plus.google.com/+CindyFazzi/about

Blog Tour Dates

November 5th @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Stop by Women on Writing’s blog and read an interview with the author Cindy Fazzi and enter to win a copy of the book My MacArthur.
http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

November 6th @ Coffee with Lacey
Get your coffee and stop by Lacey’s blog where she shares her thoughts on the book My
MacArthur.
http://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com/

November 7th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog
Stop by Beverley’s blog and find out what she thought about Cindy Fazzi’s book My
MacArthur. This book is sure to entice historical fiction readers everywhere!
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

November 8th @ The Frugalista Mom
Stop by Rozelyn’s blog and catch her thoughts on the historical fiction book My MacArthur.
https://thefrugalistamom.com/

November 9th @ The Frozen Mind
Grab a blanket and stop by the blog The Frozen Mind and read their thoughts on the incredible historical fiction book My MacArthur.
https://thefrozenmind.com/

November 11th @ Bring on Lemons
If life hands you lemons, read a book! Come by Crystal’s blog Bring on Lemons and find out what she had to say about the book My MacArthur.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

November 13th @ Mommy Daze: Say What??
Want to know what this mom had to say about the book? Stop by Ashley’s blog and read her thoughts on the historical fiction book My MacArthur.
https://adayinthelifeofmom.com/

November 16th @ Amanda’s Diaries
Find out what Amanda had to say about Cindy Fazzi’s historical fiction book My MacArthur in her review today.
https://amandadiaries.com/

November 16th @ Chapters Through Life
Stop by Danielle’s blog where she spotlight’s Cindy Fazzi’s book My MacArthur.
https://chaptersthroughlife.blogspot.com/

November 19th @ Madeline Sharples Blog
Be sure to catch today’s post over at Madeline’s blog author Cindy Fazzi shares her tips for writing fiction about a famous person.
http://madelinesharples.com/

November 20th @ Let Us Talk of Many Things
Visit today’s blog where you can catch Cindy Fazzi’s post on overcoming prejudices against romance writers.
https://ofhistoryandkings.blogspot.com/

November 21st @ Mam’s Rants and Reviews
Stop by Shan’s blog where she shares her thoughts on the historical fiction book My MacArthur.
https://shanelliswilliams.com/

November 25th @ The World of My Imagination
Catch Nicole’s review of the book My MacArthur and find out what she had to say about this fantastic book.
http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

November 26th @ Break Even Books
Stop by the Break Even Books blog and read Cindy Fazzi’s article on the pros and cons of using a pen name.
https://breakevenbooks.com/

November 28th @ Charmed Book Haven Reviews
Visit Cayce’s blog and check out her thoughts on the book My MacArthur by Cindy Fazzi.
https://charmedbookhavenreviews.wordpress.com/

November 29th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey
Start your journey today at Kathleen’s blog Memoir Writer’s Journey where author Cindy Fazzi talks about the challenges of writing different genres.
https://krpooler.com/

November 30th @ Joyful Antidotes Blog
Want a joyful way to start your day? Stop by Joy’s blog where she reviews the incredible
historical fiction book My MacArthur.
https://joyfulantidotes.com/

November 30th @ The Uncorked Librarian
Make sure you stop by Christine’s blog and read what she thinks about the book My MacArthur.
https://theuncorkedlibrarian.com

December 1st @ Charmed Book Haven Reviews
Visit Cacye’s blog again and read her interview with author Cindy Fazzi.
https://charmedbookhavenreviews.wordpress.com/

December 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog
Start your morning out right by reading Anthony Avina’s review of the book My MacArthur.
https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

December 2rd @ 2 Turn the Page Book Reviews
Visit Renee’s blog when she reviews Cindy Fazzi’s book My MacArthur and interviews the author.
https://2turnthepagebookreviews.blogspot.com/

Enjoy the rest of the blog tour everyone!


There is also another book on the block that you should check out if you haven’t heard of it yet. It is called Addicted To Hate by Lucia Mann and it is a great one! You can find it on Amazon or on her website: www.luciamann.com!

Addicted to Hate - Front Cover


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Book Review: The Long Body That Connects Us All

Another book review to scratch off the list. This one was called The Long Body That Connects Us All by Rich Marcello.

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Book Synopsis: Provocative and profound, Rich Marcello’s poems are compact but expansive, filled with music as seductive as their ideas, and focused mostly on how to be a good man. This is a collection of deep passion and wisdom for fathers, husbands, and sons, but also for mothers, wives, and daughters, many who began with a longing for the things they were taught to desire by their forefathers, only to later discover a different path, one lit by loss and welcoming of the vulnerable, one made of the long body that connects us all.

As far as poetry goes, this one was pretty good. It had a lot of nature in it but also played on family, relationships, and hardships. As I was reading, I found that a lot of the passages had me reflecting on my interactions in the past with those I had loved and lost. It warmed my heart to read things like this and as I have probably said before, the beauty of poetry is that everyone can take a different meaning away from it. It works on a personal level and is interpreted in different context with every reader or performer (if you go to poetry readings).

Overall, I rather enjoyed this one and would suggest it. It is a very quick read at only about 60 pages so give it a shot.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format to read and give an honest review.

I am hosting a giveaway for the next week! If you’re interested in winning some Star Wars Magnetic Bookmarks, an Iron Man coaster, and some fun stickers, then click the link below!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/5760930a5/?


There is also another book on the block that you should check out if you haven’t heard of it yet. It is called Addicted To Hate by Lucia Mann and it is a great one! You can find it on Amazon or on her website: www.luciamann.com!

Addicted to Hate - Front Cover


Early Access Black Friday (ends Nov 20)

RIP Stan Lee

I know this post is a little late but I just wanted to express my sadness for the loss of Stan Lee. This man was a legend and an inspiration to all. He created most of the comics that I loved and adored as I grew up (still love them to this day). He is the reason I got into drawing and art in general. I have one of his drawing guidebooks that I used to practice with as a kid. You could say that it is because of him that I went to school for Graphic Design and am working in the design field.

His memory will live on in all of his beautiful creations and the stories to come in the Marvel universe. We owe it to him to continue to read comicbooks and to believe in ourselves because we can do anything we put our mind to.

PS. In honor of Stan, use the link below to get 15% off your purchase at Indigo Chapters.

15% off with HERO15 (ends Nov 15)

October Giveaway Winner

October has come to an end and we had a long month with lots of entries into our giveaway. Thanks to everyone for sharing the post and keeping up to date with us! Without further ado, the winner of the October giveaway is…

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Jordan Dunn

I will get in touch with you Jordan to get shipping details ( I used to have it but you moved).

On a side note, what did everyone dress up for on Halloween (that is if you dressed up)?

I will be hosting a new giveaway about halfway through November and you won’t want to miss this one if you are a Marvel fan 🙂

We also have some great blog tours coming up that we will be a part of so keep posted. Have an awesome rest of your day bookworms!


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