Giant Book Haul

So this weekend started off with a little shopping at Chapters and I went a little crazy. I bought a bunch of books for my giveaways that I like hosting. I have been thinking about the giveaways and how much fun they are to host so I think I will start doing them weekly. This is more of an update post to show you guys the giant pile of books and to also let you know to be prepared for awesomeness! I will be starting a giveaway tomorrow so keep your eyes peeled.

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I’m currently doing a buddy read with Joe Martin for Armada by Ernest Cline and am also reading Lure by Jeff Marschall. Which means there will be 2 more reviews coming at you soon.

I also created a Youtube page where I will start doing video reviews so if you haven’t already, you should g subscribe. I believe I will have my first video up sometime this week. Anyways, talk to you later bookworms!

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There is a new book on the block that I am promoting. This one is called Justice Gone by Nick Lombardi. Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. You can get it here: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1785358766/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s day to everyone out there! Spend today with your loved one and do something special even if that is only watching a show together or just spending some quality time hanging out.

Or if you are single, don’t sweat it. Today is your day to celebrate you and your awesomeness!

This is a short and sweet post but just wanted to let everyone know to enjoy their day regardless of being in a relationship or not. We don’t celebrate ourselves enough and we all deserve it. Stay tuned for a review of the second book in a trilogy I am reading. It will be posted tomorrow :).

Sabon

Book Tour: Finding Myself In Borneo

I have the pleasure of joining this blog tour and doing a brief review of Finding Myself in Borneo by Neill McKee.

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  • Paperback:260 pages
  • Publisher: Nbfs Creations LLC (January 8, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:1732945705
  • ISBN-13:978-1732945708

Amazon Link:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1732945705/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0%20/?tag=wowwomenonwri-20

Synopsis: Finding Myself in Borneo is an honest and buoyant chronicle of a young Canadian man’s adventures during 1968-70 while teaching secondary school as a CUSO volunteer in Sabah, Malaysia (North Borneo). Travel with Neill McKee on his unique journey through vibrant Asian cultures as he learns the craft of teaching, the Malay language, and local customs, and gains many friends in his small community. He climbs the highest peak in Southeast Asia–Mount Kinabalu has a love affair and navigates Borneo’s backwaters to make his first of many documentary films. McKee travels by freighter to Indonesia, where he discovers the scars of that country’s recent genocide, a contrast to his hilarious motorcycle journeys in Sabah with his American Peace Corps buddy. They make a hallucinogenic discovery–North Borneo is, indeed, J. R. R. Tolkien’s famed Middle-Earth of The Lord of the Rings! The enterprising duo establishes the North Borneo Frodo Society, an organization Tolkien joins.

McKee’s second Sabah sojourn and other return trips offer the reader the opportunity to match the early anecdotes to what in fact happened to the land and people who touched his life, and he theirs.

This book was very interesting. It was very cool to feel like you were a part of this man’s travels in Borneo as he discovered new cultures. He is also a Canadian traveler which makes it that much more awesome.

He tells the story in a very enriching way and it is probably because he makes documentary films. He just has that vision to bring a story to life and make it personal at the same time. Did I mention that he writes with such humor you will be laughing while reading (pretty sure I snorted a couple times)!

Neill is quite the adventurous fellow and I would love to sit down with him and discuss his travels over a hot cup of tea but since I can’t, reading his book was the next best thing.

If you have a craving for adventure, go get this book!

About the Author 

Neill McKee Head Shot

Neill McKee is a creative nonfiction writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. McKee, who holds a B.A. Degree from the University of Calgary and a Masters in Communication from Florida State University, lived and worked internationally for 45 years and became an expert in communication for social change. He directed and produced of a number of award-winning documentary films/videos and multi-media initiatives and authored numerous articles and books on development communication. During his international career, McKee worked for Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO), the International Development Ressearch Centre (IDRC), Canada, UNICEF, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; Academy for Educational Development, Washington, D.C. and FHI 360, Washington, D.C. He worked and lived in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda and Russia for a total of 18 years and traveled to over 80 countries on short-term assignments.

Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah is Neill’s first Memoir.

Find Neill Online:

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1839945.Neill_McKee

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MckeeNeill

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/neill-mckee-b9971b65/

Website: https://www.neillmckeeauthor.com/



Blog Tour Dates

Launch Day – January 28th

Neill McKee launches his tour of “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah” with an interview and giveaway at the Muffin!

Tuesday, January 29th@ Selling Books

Learn more about Neill McKee as he is interviewed by Cathy Stucker at Selling Books. You won’t want to miss this insightful interview about McKee and his memoir “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah”.

https://www.sellingbooks.com/

Wednesday, January 30th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto

Crystal Otto couldn’t wait to get her hands on Neill McKee’s memoir about his travels and finding himself! This busy farmer seldom leaves the farm and enjoyed every moment she experienced reading “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah”. Find out more in her book review at Bring on Lemons today!

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Thursday, January 31st@ Breakeven Books

Don’t miss a very honest book review about Neill McKee’s “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah”

https://breakevenbooks.com/

Friday, February 1st @ Fiona Ingram

Fellow author Fiona Ingram reviews the adventures story of Neill McKee’s journey in Sabah and his experiences h in “Finding Myself in Borneo”. Readers won’t be disappointed in Ingram’s review or McKee’s memoir!

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

Monday, February 4th @ Author Anthony Avina

Author Anthony Avina reads and reviews “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah” – by Neill McKee. Readers won’t want to miss this adventurous and soul searching memoir!

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

 Wednesday, February 6th @ The World of My Imagination

Nicole hosts a special feature with author Neill McKee about his memoir “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah”.

https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

Friday, February 8th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples

Fellow memoirist Madeline Sharples hosts Neill McKee today as he pens today’s guest post titled:  Living in and learning about a very different culture”. Find out more about McKee and his memoir “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah”.

http://madelinesharples.com/

Monday, February 11th @ Book Santa Fe with Elizabeth Hansen

Young reader and reviewer Elizabeth Hansen shares her thoughts after reading about Neill McKee’s memoir “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah”.

http://www.booksantafe.info/booksantafeblog

Wednesday, February 13th @ To Write or Not to Write with Sreevarsha

Shreevarsha reviews the insightful memoir “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah” by Neill McKee. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about McKee’s journey.

http://sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.co.at/

Friday, February 15th @ Bring on Lemons with Tricia Schott Baldwin

Avid reader, constant dreamer, and occasional traveler Tricia Schott Baldwin reviews “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah” by Neill McKee. Tricia shares her thoughts with readers at Bring on Lemons – will this be a lemon or sweet sweet lemonade?

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Saturday, February 16th @ World of My Imagination

Nicole discusses “3 Things on a Saturday” with Neill McKee. Learn more about McKee and his memoir “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah”.

https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, February 19th @ Jarry Waxler’s Memoir Revolution

Memoir expert and educator Jerry Waxler pens his review of “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah” by Neill McKee. Readers and memoirists alike won’t want to miss this insightful post and review by Waxler.

https://memorywritersnetwork.com/blog/

Thursday, March 7th @ Kathleen Pooler

Neill McKee finds himself penning today’s guest post “Becoming a memoir writer after retiring from another career.” at Kathleen Pooler’s Memoir Writer’s Journey – don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about McKee and his exciting tale “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah”

https://krpooler.com/

And that wraps up the post about this blog tour! Until next time bookworms.


Sidenote: If you like kids books or have kids in your family that you can read to, you should check out Foiled by Casey Fessler. I am reading it right now and it is a pretty good book for a younger audience. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.ca/Foiled-Carey-Fessler-ebook/dp/B00VU8ICF6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1548903679&sr=8-1&keywords=foiled+carey+fessler

Foiled 172KB

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Book Review​: Treading The Uneven Road

Bookworms! I have the pleasure of sharing another review with you. This one was called Treading The Uneven Road by L.M. Brown and was published by Fomite Press.

Cover of Threading The Uneven Road

Synopsis: The stories in this linked collection are set in a small village in the Northwest of Ireland in the early 1980’s and 90’s. A bypass around the village has rid them of their once busy traffic. The residents feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later.

The collection is not only about the characters need for salvation but it is about a society that is unraveling. In Amends, we hear about the Bishop who has fathered a child. A priest is beckoned by a dying man to be mocked. The world inside and outside the village is changing. In every story, the characters need to make a choice on how they might carry on.

This book was a breath of fresh air. Not only did it satisfy my craving of travel with its beautiful descriptions of Northwest Ireland and the surrounding landscapes, but it also brought on this feeling of “lust” (not sure if this is the right word) to go there and see it for myself.

A lot of times, I won’t read a synopsis and jump right into a book so that I am completely unprepared and surprised by everything. An example would be to watch a movie without seeing the trailer for the non-readers out there. So I was very excited when I realized that all of these short stories were connected to the next and previous stories and the characters were the same in most of them. It was like revealing a little bit more of the townsfolk piece by piece from different viewpoints.

The story about Patrick was my favorite. He had a rough encounter that left his relationship with his father very tense (I won’t say what it is, no spoilers here). It made me feel for Patrick and just want him to succeed and be happy. The only downfall to this story is that I wanted more of it. It left me wondering if he would be ok and I just wasn’t ready to leave it at that.

All of these stories were just people being themselves and trying to fit into society or be what society wanted them to be. The feelings were raw and powerful and it came through in the way the author wrote about her characters.

I would recommend this book to anyone that wants intricate storytelling of an Irish village and all the components that make up its inner workings. It wasn’t a “WOW this is amazing” book but more of a subtle “wow I quite enjoyed that”.

Book Rating: 4/5

About the Author
L.M Brown is the author of the novel Debris. Her stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines. She grew up in Sligo, Ireland, but now resides in Massachusetts with her husband, three daughters, a dog and a bearded dragon.

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

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

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Author Interview: Liz Lawler

We had the honor of joining this blog tour for Liz Lawler’s new book I’ll Find You. 

Synopsis: Don’t Wake Up, Liz Lawler’s debut novel, sold over 200,000 copies and was Bonnier Zaffre’s breakout psychological thriller of 2017. I’ll Find You, her second novel, promises to be an even more heart-stopping and electrifying read.
 
This medical thriller breaks away from the traditional domestic sphere and into the fictional Bath Windsor Bridge Hospital. Liz Lawler fantastically uses her own 20-year career as a nurse to instill an authenticity that will truly give you chills. . .
 
Perfect for fans of TM Logan and Leslie Kara, I’ll Find You will keep you guessing until the very last page.

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Author Interview

1. What is your top read of 2018 so far? 

 I read so many books that came out in 2018 and many of them were brilliant, so it is really hard to pick one, but as you asked for my top read I will choose the one which came immediately to mind – Don’t Make A Sound by David Jackson.

 2. What is your favorite book friendship?

 I loved the friendship between Dale and Mr Jingles in The Green Mile. Mr Jingles, a small mouse, gave solace to so many men while they awaited execution. His presence brought light and laughter and hope in a place previously devoid of such feeling. I loved how Dale and Mr Jingles’ relationship united the prison officers and inmates to become guardians of this small creature.

3. What was your most anticipated book release of 2018?

I have still to read The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, which I’m looking forward to enormously. 

 4. How many books are in your TBR Pile?

Well actually I’m beginning to panic as there are only three books presently by my bedside. I like to have at least half a dozen books to choose from in case I suddenly get cut off from the rest of the world. When I go on holiday for seven days I take five books in my luggage and then buy two more at the airport. Just in case….

 5. Who is your favorite author?

 Really hard to answer as I love so many authors and it is a love list that gets bigger as I find new authors to add. But to mention a few: Sebastian Faulks, Harper Lee, Thomas Hardy, John Steinbeck, Emily Bronte and the list goes on…

 6. How did you start writing? 

Quite suddenly and out of the blue, after dropping my children off at school for their first day back after the summer holidays, I found myself sat at my kitchen table writing a story. That was the beginning.

 7. Where is your favorite reading spot?

 In bed when the rest of the house is fast asleep. 

 8. How long have you been an author?

 Since May 2017 when my first book  Don’t Wake Up was published. I’m still very much a newbie.

 9. What do you like about reading?

I cannot imagine my life without reading. When I think about being on a deserted island I take comfort from imagining finding hundreds and hundreds of boxes of books to read to last me forever.

10. If you had to describe yourself in a book title, what would it be?

 Chaos.

And that is the end of our interview! If you have any question that I should ask in my nex interview, comment below! Check out the rest of the blogs on this tour (they are mentioned in the feature image at the top).


If you have children, there is a new book out by Carey Fessler called Foiled that would be right up their alley! You can buy it on Amazon!

Foiled 172KB

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Author Interview: Jonas Salzgeber

Bookies! We have been busy over here at the blog connecting with authors and chatting about their favorite books. We recently posted about Jonas Salzgeber and his new book The Little Book of Stoicism so you should check out that post. But today we will be conducting an author interview with him!

Author-Photo-Jonas-Salzgeber

Jonas Salzgeber is a writer and blogs for a small army of remarkable people at njlifehacks.com. He’s an expert in Stoic philosophy and passionate about self-made dark chocolate and buttered coffee with collagen.


Author Interview

Erik: What was your top read of 2018?

Jonas: Hard to say. There were some I liked a lot. I’d say Aubrey Marcus’ Own the Day, Own Your Life.

Erik: What is your favorite book friendship?

Jonas: It’s either Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss because there are many invaluable tools I want to implement one by one. Or it’s OSHO’s Living on Your Own Terms for mindfulness and inspiration.

Erik: Most anticipated book release of 2019?

Jonas: How to Think Like a Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson. His book Stoicism and the Art of Happiness was a massive help when writing The Little Book of Stoicism.

Erik: How many books are in your TBR Pile?

Jonas: There are seven of them. They are:

  • The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
  • A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh by Penguin Classics
  • The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
  • The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  • Heart of the Mind by Connirae and Steve Andreas
  • Skin in the Game by Nassim Taleb which I’m currently reading.

Erik: Who is your favorite author?

Jonas: It’s a tough call. But I have to go with Mark Manson. I love his writings. I can learn a lot from him.

Erik: How did you start writing?

Jonas: My brother Nils and I started a blog. So I had to start writing 🙂 This was in 2015. Before that, I wrote for university and in my journal.

Erik: Where is your favorite reading spot?

Jonas: Currently it’s the couch in the living room where I live. But I preferred the beach in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, where Nils and I lived for seven months.

Erik: How long have you been an author?

Jonas: The Little Book of Stoicism is my first official book. As said before, I started writing in 2015 and wrote a book called Wake Up on Fire, but that’s not available anymore.

Erik: What do you like about reading?

Jonas: Learning. I believe in getting better every day. Books are my No 1 source of wisdom. I love that I can read in an afternoon what others have been studying for years, or even their whole lifetime.

Erik: If you had to describe yourself in a book title, what would it be?

Jonas: Cool question. Something like that: Try Hard, Struggle, Get Up, Dust it Off, Try Harder, and Repeat.


And that wraps up our interview with Jonas! Stay tuned for more book reviews and blogger news. If you would like to participate in an interview with us at Breakeven Books or if you have any questions you think we should ask, say hello in the comments.

We also started a Patreon page if you would like to support us in our blogging efforts 🙂 Just $2 a month could help us create better content for you guys plus maybe we will be able to get into book tube and video reviews! But completely up to you.

Talk to you soon bookworms.

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Blog Tour: You Started What After 60?

About the Author  

Jane Trowbridge Bertrand is a professor at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. A Maine native, she moved to New Orleans over 40 years ago where she and her husband Bill raised their children, Katy and Jacob. Her recurrent travel to Africa in connection with international family planning work generated many of the frequent flyer miles that made this highpointing pursuit possible.

Jane Bertrand traces her love of hiking back to Girl Scout Camp Natarswi, located at the foot of Katahdin in Maine, the Northern terminus for the Appalachian trail.

After attending college out of state, she would return annually for her two-week sacrosanct vacation in Maine.  Over the years she would continue to climb Katahdin, first with her sisters, later with her own children, and finally with adult friends who shared her love of the mountain.

Yet not until age 60 did it occur to her to expand her annual expedition up Katahdin to a quest to reach the highpoints of the 50 states. When she started this project of “climbing a mountain in every state,” little did she realize that the Highpointers have a Club, Foundation, website, and annual convention.

During most of her adult life, Bertrand stayed in shape by jogging three times a week, but she was no elite athlete. When at age 60 she began her highpointing pursuit, she got off to a lackluster start, achieving only 11 high points in the first six years, and almost all of those were “easy.” As she advanced to her mid-sixties, the race against time begin. Despite minor setbacks with runner’s knee and bunions, she pushed ahead – her interest in highpointing evolving into an obsession and finally an addiction. As she faced mountains of increasing difficulty – that she had unwisely left to the end – she accelerated her exercise routine in hopes of meeting the challenge.

Initially, she assumed that her full-time job at Tulane University, both teaching classes and traveling to Africa in connection with her international family planning work, would be a deterrent to reaching the highest point of every state. Midway through this journey, she realized it was actually a facilitator, as she traveled through different Delta hubs en route to her work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Over the course of this decade-long pursuit, Bertrand recruited over 50 family members, colleagues, and childhood friends to accompany her on this journey. They ranged in age from 4 months to 71 years. Some she hadn’t seen for over 40 years, others she met on the day they highpointed together.

Bertrand initially ruled out any mountain that would involve technical climbing requiring a harness, rope, ice axe, or helmet. But as the remaining mountains on her list increased in difficulty, she had no choice but to bite the bullet and harness up.  Her story describes the exhilaration and sense of accomplishment of pushing harder and reaching further than she expected possible. Yet it also recounts the humbling experience of getting lost more than once and dragging down the final miles, even after successfully summiting one of the hardest mountains – with every muscle in her body screaming “this is why 69-year olds should not be climbing Mt. Hood.”

Jane Bertrand received her B.A. (French) from Brown University in 1971, her PhD (Sociology) from the University of Chicago in 1976, and her MBA from Tulane University in 2001, Bertrand has lived in New Orleans, Louisiana with her husband Bill Bertrand (also a Tulane professor, affectionately known as the “Cajun Chef”), where they raised their two children, Katy and Jacob. She has come to love her adopted city: the jazz, the food, the beauty of Spanish moss and tropical plants. She is also a member of the all-female Krewe of Muses, a group that parades every year during Mardi Gras.

Find Jane Online:

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1785116.Jane_T_Bertrand?from_search=true

Twitter:  @JaneBertrand8

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

Website:  https://www.janebertrand.com/


Blog Tour Dates

Launch Day – 1/7 -Jane T. Bertrand launches her tour of “You Started WHAT After 60? Highpointing Across America”

Tuesday, January 8th @ Fiona Ingram

Fellow author Fiona Ingram reviews the adventures story of Jane T. Bertrand’s experiences highpointing across America in “You Started WHAT After 60?”. Readers won’t be disappointed in Ingram’s review or Bertrand’s memoir!
http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, January 9th @ BOL w/Crystal Otto

Crystal Otto couldn’t wait to get her hands on Jane T. Bertrand’s story about highpointing across America! This busy farmer seldom leaves the farm and enjoyed every moment she experienced reading “You Started WHAT After 60?”. Find out more in her book review at Bring on Lemons today!
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Thursday, January 10th @ Selling Books with Cathy Stucker

Learn more about Jane T. Bertrand as she is interviewed by Cathy Stucker at Selling Books. You won’t want to miss this insightful interview about Bertrand and her memoir “You Started What After 60? Highpointing Across America”. https://www.sellingbooks.com/ 

Friday, January 11th @ Breakeven Books

Don’t miss a very honest book review about Jane T. Bertrand’s “You Started WHAT After 60? Highpointing Across America”.
https://breakevenbooks.com/

Monday, January 14th @ Look to the Western Sky with Margo Dill

Author, Editor, and Reviewer Margo Dill shares her thoughts after reading the inspiring memoir “You Started WHAT After 60?” by Jane T. Bertrand.
http://margoldill.com/ 

Wednesday, January 16th @ Author Anthony Avina

Description:Author Anthony Avina reads and reviews “You Started WHAT After 60?” – by Jane T. Bertrand. Readers won’t want to miss this adventurous memoir about highpointing across America.
https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

Friday, January 18th @ BOL w/Michelle DelPonte

Michelle DelPonte offers her point of view after reading “You Started WHAT After 60?” by Jane T. Bertrand. Find out what this Wisconsin wife, mother, and autism advocate has to say about Bertrand’s recount of her adventures!
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, January 22nd @ Book Santa Fe w/Elizabeth Hansen

Description:Young reader and reviewer Elizabeth Hansen shares her thoughts after reading about Jane T. Bertrand’s adventures in “You Started WHAT After 60? Highpointing Across America”
http://www.booksantafe.info/booksantafeblog

Thursday, January 24th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples

Description:Fellow memoirist Madeline Sharples shares her review of “You Started WHAT After 60?” by Jane T. Bertrand. Readers at Choices will be thrilled by Bertrand’s adventures in highpointing across America!
http://madelinesharples.com/

Wednesday, January 30th @ To Write or Not to Write with Sreevarsha

Sreevarsha reviews the inspirational book “You Started WHAT After 60?” by Jane T. Bertrand. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about Bertrand’s adventure highpointing across America later in life.
http://sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.co.at/

Tuesday, February 5th @ World of My Imagination with Nicole Pyles

Description:Nicole reviews and shares her thoughts after reading the thrilling account of Jane T. Bertrand’s adventures in highpointing across America in “You Started WHAT After 60?”. Join readers at World of My Imagination and find out more about this great read and inspirational author!
https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

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Book Review: The Suitcase and The Jar

I had the pleasure of reviewing a book called The Suitcase and The Jar by Becky Livingston. This book was sent to me by a publishing company called Caitlin Press. They are based out of British Columbia and were excited to do this collaboration with me when I approached them back in late October. Sara joined me and read this one as well so we will have 2 reviews below (one from me and one from her).

Synopsis: When a brain tumor takes the life of Becky Livingston’s twenty-three-year-old daughter Rachel, her life takes an unconventional turn. Rachel, an avid traveler, had one wish: to keep exploring the world.

So, for twenty-six months Livingston travels — untethered and alone — to Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, India, England, Ireland, and North America, coast to coast. In her suitcase: Rachel’s ashes, heavy but compact. As she gradually merges her daughter’s remains with the elements, Livingston learns how to forge a new sense of belonging in an unfamiliar world.

Is it reckless for a fifty-three-year-old mother to quit her job and set off overseas with no agenda or timeline? Is such a journey squandering a life, or saving it?

Sara’s Review: This book is a memoir of a mother who has lost one of her daughters. She travels the world by house-sitting internationally, and she has brought a jar of her daughter’s ashes with her to leave in the places she finds beautiful. Throughout the book, Livingston reveals, through memories, her daughter’s life and death, as well as how she begins to attempt to piece her life back together after the loss.

This book was a very intriguing read, at first, as the writing is so brilliantly done that it is very easy to understand and empathize the author’s loss. I enjoyed the way we were both observing the loss as well as reading about poignant memories of her daughter before her death. As we learn about and grow with the author as she begins to feel like she can move on, I was particularly intrigued by the realizations and personal growth that was achieved and expressed. The writing in this novel does an excellent job of articulating something as inarticulate as an extreme loss, especially the loss of a child too young.

Through Livingston’s journey of acceptance both before and after her daughter’s death, it is so easy to feel her pain and understand all her feelings and reactions. I really enjoyed being able to experience something like this in such a beautiful and well-composed way, especially as it is a memoir rather than fiction.

Eventually, unfortunately, the book begins to feel like you’ve read it before, in that near the last quarter of the book it seems as though all the feelings have been adequately expressed, and it begins to feel repetitive. Though still beautifully written, you begin to feel like Livingston is just restating what she has already written in slightly changed ways. Although I can’t quite complain about a “character” in a non-fiction book, there were times when I had trouble understanding what comes off as selfishness from the author. Although she suffered the terrible loss of her daughter, she has another daughter whom she completely leaves and loses touch with during her journey, and evidently was too distracted by her sick daughter to ever be close to her second daughter even before the death.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this book. It was well constructed, I enjoyed the style and the writing, I was able to fully empathize with the author, and the story was beautiful and sad and meaningful. I only wish that it had been about 50 pages more succinct, and then I think that I would be more apt to recommend this book to others.

Sara’s Book Rating: 4/5

My Review: I can honestly say that I have never read a book like this before. It was very unique to see the perspective of the mother throughout her daughter’s slow decline from her brain tumor. Grief can play so many roles in one’s life and Becky had to deal with the loss of her fiance and the loss of her daughter to the same type of tumor. She explains how she dealt with this grief in many different ways and how there is no shelf life for the feeling of loss when someone you spend your life raising dies before you do.

What inspired me was the nomad lifestyle she took on to explore and distribute some of her daughter’s ashes in places all over the world. It helped her in her grieving process and it was a way to fulfill Rachel’s love of traveling in a way she never could. I wish I could go travel the world like Becky did (not under the same circumstances but to be able to see the many amazing places and destinations this world has to offer).

I find at some parts of the book, it gets a bit repetitive but this could be to illustrate the same routine that Becky had to go through while being a mother caring for family members that were terminally ill.

Overall, it was an enlightening book about a mother’s journey to figure out what life has to offer after losing what was most important to her.

My Book Rating: 3.5/5

You can get this book directly from the publisher on Caitlin Press or you can buy it on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

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

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Christmas Season

It has been a flurry over here at Breakeven Books. We are getting prepared for the holiday season and are busy buying Christmas gifts, baking goodies and finishing up all the projects of the year.

And the best part about the holidays?! More time to read 🙂 I already have a list of 3 books I want to try and finish over the holidays. But I will still be saving time to do the regular Christmas traditions with the family such as driving around looking at Christmas lights with a thermos of cider, listening to Christmas music, and watching Christmas movies (especially It’s A Wonderful Life on December 24th).

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I also get a week off of my full-time job so that is nice. Nothing like a little R&R over the holidays.

Does your family have any holiday traditions that you partake in each year? What are they? Tell me in the comments below 🙂

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays bookworms.

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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. 

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