Book Review: The Seven Keys of Hildegard – Of Love & Betrayal

I finished my last book on my July TBR on August 1st so I was just teensy bit late but I am counting it! This one was called The Seven Keys of Hildegard: Of Love & Betrayal by David Dupuis and is the 2nd book in a series.

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Synopsis: In 1167, a German nun named Hildegard, has seven troubling visions of the end times. In 1958, the new pope, John XXIII, begins his reign and must decide how to make his church relevant in a rapidly changing and increasingly dangerous world of the 1960s and 70s. In this second book of David Dupuis’ thrilling five-part historical-fiction series, the ancient battle lines are drawn. From a convent in Fatima, Portugal, to a hut in Africa, the halls of the Vatican, office towers in New York City to a small town in Canada, the ancient Keys inevitably turn. Through it all, a mother’s devotion to her child and those who protect them are threatened. Can the church and world be saved from political, economic, military and spiritual assassinations? With evil lurking in the halls of power, only two things are certain. Where there is love—there is always betrayal.

Like I have said many times before, historical fiction has never really been my thing. But David’s first book actually intrigued me and gave me a little bit of a liking for the genre. So now in his second book, I can say that the little bit of love is still there as I enjoyed this one too.

I think I liked this one because you already knew a lot of the characters because one of my issues with the first one was that there were a lot of characters to keep track of and it was a bit hard for me to keep up but now that they have been fostered into my mind, this book went a lot smoother. I do think the book could have been a little bit shorter and there were some parts that could have been taken out but I can also see how the author wanted to build anticipation for that big ending.

Some of the relationships seemed a little forced but others were very heartwarming and had me invested. These books deal with family a lot and I do like that about them. Having a caring and supportive family is really nice to see in a book.

I will definitely read the rest of the books in this series when they come out.

Book Rating: 3/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads. This book was published through Friesen Press.

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



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The new Taylor Swift album is here!!!! So what better way to celebrate than to do a book tag around it. Let me know in the comments which song is your favorite off the new album! Check out the video below:

Book Review: Fire On The Island

I read another book by Timothy Jay Smith and I can happily say that I will keep reading his books. This one was called Fire On The Island by Timothy Jay Smith and is actually being released into the world today!

Fire on the Island - Arcade book cover

Synopsis: FIRE ON THE ISLAND is a playful, romantic thriller set in contemporary Greece, with a gay Greek-American FBI agent, who is undercover on the island to investigate a series of mysterious fires. Set against the very real refugee crisis on the beautiful, sun-drenched Greek islands, this novel paints a loving portrait of a community in crisis. As the island residents grapple with declining tourism, poverty, refugees, family feuds, and a perilously damaged church, an arsonist invades their midst.
 
Nick Damigos, the FBI agent, arrives on the island just in time to witness the latest fire and save a beloved truffle-sniffing dog. Hailed as a hero and embraced by the community, Nick finds himself drawn to Takis, a young bartender who becomes his primary suspect, which is a problem because they’re having an affair. Theirs is not the only complicated romance in the community and Takis isn’t the only suspicious character on the island. The priest is an art forger, a young Albanian waiter harbors a secret, the captain of the coast guard station seems to have his own agenda, and the village itself hides a violent history. Nick has to unravel the truth in time to prevent catastrophe, as he comes to terms with his own past trauma. In saving the village, he will go a long way toward saving himself.

Just like his other book, The Fourth Courier, I really enjoyed this one because it feels like it gives you a lesson on culture while portraying a great romantic thriller at the same time. You learn so much about this little village in Greece and the culture surrounding it which is fascinating to me and really made me feel like I was there while this plot progressed.

The characters were are very real and had their own nature to them. The book is told in a bunch of different perspectives of various people that live in this village and I think it was perfectly blended to facilitate one good storyline. It’s like a puzzle that you are slowly putting together and trying to figure out what that end picture will look like and when you finally do, its not what you expected but you still like it none the less.

I enjoyed the fact that it had LGBTQ+ representation in it because I am bisexual and like to see more of that represented in books. I feel like I relate a lot more with the characters. I will admit that there were some parts of this book that got my heart racing a little bit (in the romantic sense).

Overall, I would check out this book if you want to feel like you travelled to a beautiful country and took part in an investigation while actually not even leaving the comfort of your couch.

Book Rating: 4/5

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

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



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I am so grateful to everyone on booktube that has supported me and I wanted to say thank you so so much for helping me get to 1500 subscribers!! I did a Q&A where I answer all your questions (book-related or not) and hopefully, this is as entertaining for you as it was for me to make! Check out the video below:

Book Highlight: Nutmeg Street

Have you heard about Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets, by Sherrill Joseph yet? Check it out and don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom!

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Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries #1)

Expected Publication Date: February 1st, 2020

Genre: MG/ Middle Grade/ Mystery (Ages 9 – 12)

World-famous Egyptologist Dr. Winston Thornsley died suddenly two months ago in disgrace. His widow, Ida Thornsley, remains convinced her husband was falsely accused of stealing an ancient burial urn he discovered in Egypt last summer, but local and federal law enforcement officers are stumped.

Mrs. Thornsley, desperate for answers, calls in her thirteen-year-old neighbors, the Botanic Hill Detectives—twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, Moki Kalani, and Rani Kumar. Their exciting mission? To find the urn and its real thief, bring the criminal to justice, and exonerate Dr. Thornsley so his spotless reputation can be restored.

A roomful of venomous snakes, the poisoned Egyptian pond, and Dragon Pit Man are just a few of the tests awaiting the four tech-savvy teenagers. As the detectives begin to unravel the sinister plot, the mystery takes a dangerous turn. Answers are at their fingertips—if they can only convince their parents to let them solve the case.

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

Uncle Rocky did his best to join the kids on the floor but resorted to an old, overstuffed club chair instead. No sooner had the man gotten settled when Rani’s face changed.

“What’s that?” she said.

Flashing lights were beaming into the attic through the little window and dancing wildly around the room. The group quickly clustered around the opening.

Lanny grabbed the binoculars hanging nearby and trained them on the source. It took some time before the light show stopped interfering with his vision. “It’s Mask Face! On the Quince Street Footbridge!” he shouted, lowering the binoculars.

Lexi yanked them from her brother, taking his neck along with the strap, and aimed them out the window. “You’re right. Eww! It’s creepy,” she replied as goosebumps ran down her arms.

The figure had turned the flashlight onto its mask, creating the illusion of a disembodied head floating across the bridge.

Coming Soon!

Egyptian Secrets, in paperback and eBook, will be available for purchase on Amazon, February 1, 2020!

For your chance to win a digital copy of the book, book swag — a bookmark, a sticker, and a post card, And a $25 Amazon gift card, click the link below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: Prizes mentioned above are available to the U.S. only. A digital copy of Egyptian Secrets will be given away for international entries!

The giveaway will run from November 4th to November 7th. Good luck!

About the Author

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Sherrill Joseph’s debut novel, Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets, had been inside her head for decades. The mystery genre took hold of her as a fifth grader when she discovered Nancy Drew and Phyllis A. Whitney mysteries. Years later, it still hasn’t let go.

After graduating Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a master’s in education, Sherrill spent the next thirty-five years as a K-12 literacy teacher. When she retired from teaching in 2013, the Botanic Hill Detectives and their mysteries finally sprang to life.

Forever inspired by her beautiful students in the San Diego public schools, the author has peopled and themed the Botanic Hill Detectives mysteries with children of various abilities, cultures, and interests. She strongly believes that embracing diversity is the key to a better world.

Sherrill is a native San Diegan where she lives in a ninety-year-old house in a historic neighborhood with her bichon frisé-poodle mix, Jimmy Lambchop. In addition to her dog, the city of San Diego, reading and writing, the author loves her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. She must also include dark chocolate, popcorn, old movies, staircases, the color purple, and daisies. She is a member of SCBWI and the Authors’ Guild and promises many more adventures with the squad to come.

Sherrill Joseph | Newsletter | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Book Blitz Organized By:

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R&R Book Tours


It’s already November! I am being pretty ambitious and will be trying to read 5 books this month. Check out what I will be reading!

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Cover Reveal: Nutmeg Street

A fantastic cover for an exciting upcoming debut novel by author, Sherrill Joseph! Read more about Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets below!

Book Cover-3

Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries #1)

Expected Publication Date: February 1st, 2020

Genre: MG/ Middle Grade/ Mystery (Ages 9 – 12)

World-famous Egyptologist Dr. Winston Thornsley died suddenly two months ago in disgrace. His widow, Ida Thornsley, remains convinced her husband was falsely accused of stealing an ancient burial urn he discovered in Egypt last summer, but local and federal law enforcement officers are stumped.

Mrs. Thornsley, desperate for answers, calls in her thirteen-year-old neighbors, the Botanic Hill Detectives—twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, Moki Kalani, and Rani Kumar. Their exciting mission? To find the urn and its real thief, bring the criminal to justice, and exonerate Dr. Thornsley so his spotless reputation can be restored.

A roomful of venomous snakes, the poisoned Egyptian pond, and Dragon Pit Man are just a few of the tests awaiting the four tech-savvy teenagers. As the detectives begin to unravel the sinister plot, the mystery takes a dangerous turn. Answers are at their fingertips—if they can only convince their parents to let them solve the case.

Add to Goodreads

Sneak Peek

“Here we go again. An aftershock! I’ve been afraid this would happen,” said Dr. Kurtz. She rapidly surveyed the room full of terrariums. “And one of my assistants just called to say he’s found a somewhat hidden but large crack from this morning’s tremor on one of our venomous snake enclosure’s glass panes. It’s a major emergency. Come out with me quickly boys—now! I have to attend to this immediately,” she shouted behind her, as she grabbed her tool bag, yanked open the heavy door, and fled outside and down the breezeway to the enclosure.

Unfortunately, Moki and Lanny weren’t as fast as Dr. Kurtz. The door banged shut in their surprised faces and locked. They were trapped in a windowless room.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the power failed simultaneously, and the room went pitch black. Both boys froze, helplessly surrounded by three walls of venomous snakes they could still hear but no longer see.

Egyptian Secrets, in paperback and eBook, will be available for purchase on Amazon, February 1, 2020!

About the Author

photo01

Sherrill Joseph’s debut novel, Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets, had been inside her head for decades. The mystery genre took hold of her as a fifth grader when she discovered Nancy Drew and Phyllis A. Whitney mysteries. Years later, it still hasn’t let go.

After graduating Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a master’s in education, Sherrill spent the next thirty-five years as a K-12 literacy teacher. When she retired from teaching in 2013, the Botanic Hill Detectives and their mysteries finally sprang to life.

Forever inspired by her beautiful students in the San Diego public schools, the author has peopled and themed the Botanic Hill Detectives mysteries with children of various abilities, cultures, and interests. She strongly believes that embracing diversity is the key to a better world.

Sherrill is a native San Diegan where she lives in a ninety-year-old house in a historic neighborhood with her bichon frisé-poodle mix, Jimmy Lambchop. In addition to her dog, the city of San Diego, reading and writing, the author loves her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. She must also include dark chocolate, popcorn, old movies, staircases, the color purple, and daisies. She is a member of SCBWI and the Authors’ Guild and promises many more adventures with the squad to come.

Sherrill Joseph | Newsletter | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Cover Reveal Organized By:

R&RButto200x200

R&R Book Tours


t’s already November….well tomorrow! I am being pretty ambitious and will be trying to read 5 books this month. Check out what I will be reading!

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Readathon + Giveaway Winner

T-minus 1 week until I am off to Ireland. I am getting very excited and am looking forward to the two weeks off work. I have also been watching a lot of booktube since I started a channel and have been getting into that niche and I heard of this thing called the Harry Potter Readathon.

Essentially, we are training for our OWL’s and have different classes we must take in order to get the magical career or our choice. Naturally, I want to be an Auror so I will be taking 5 different OWL’s to achieve this. In order to take these OWL’s, we need to read a different book that falls under each category for the classes. For example, Herbology is to read a book with a plant on the cover.

I will be releasing a new youtube video highlighting my selections and talking about the readathon more in-depth and what each class requires a.k.a what type of book I need to read for each.

As for the comic book giveaway, I had a tremendous amount of entries and am very thankful for everyone that participated. Congratulations to @mclaughlin_alix !!

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I will be hosting another giveaway at the end of April when I get back from my trip so keep an eye out for that! Have a great weekend everyone and make sure to check out my youtube channel if you haven’t yet…the readathon video is coming soon!


I recently uploaded my Booktube Newbie tag video so check it out below if you are interested. I would love it if you subscribed but that is completely up to you!

Free Delivery on all Calendars at the Book Depository

Life Update: I’m going to Ireland/Scotland

Hey bookworms! Guess what?!?! Well, you probably already know from reading the title of this post but I am going to Ireland and Scotland! I am so excited about this trip and it is so hard to contain that excitement.

The planning stage has begun and I am looking into all the best things to do in both places. *Also trying to travel on a budget but I feel like that might be tough*. If you have been to either of these places and have suggestions on what to do then please leave them down in the comments!

I may be away from the blog during those two weeks as I will be exploring a new place and sipping beers (Guinness) and kissing stones (oh Blarney). So I just thought I would let you know. But this isn’t happening until mid-April so I will still be posting regularly until then.

We ended our giveaway that we were hosting from the author interview we had with Shelby. The winner will receive pdf versions of her poetry books. The winner of this prize is…

Aayushi!!

You can find her on Twitter and Youtube. We will be in touch to let you know you have won and will send you your prizes.


I also released my second video onto book tube yesterday so feel free to watch it here and make sure to like and subscribe if you like it!

Recommended Items on on findings, jewelry beads, gemstone beads, pearls, glass beads, tools ect, .

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

Make your special day sparkle with elegant sophistication.Send your guests home with favors that are tasteful and practical. They will forever remember your wedding thanks to these beautifully designed styles.

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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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.

matt

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.

fixes2

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

Update: I’m moving!

Hey bookworms,

Just a quick little update! I am moving to a new apartment this week so I will be super busy with that and have less time to read!

I know it sucks but I will be back at reading a bunch once I have settled in to my new place. I am working on finishing the book I am currently reading when I get time at night before bed because that is the only free time I seem to have. Also, its my birthday on Monday so that will be a lot of fun!

I hope to get more great book relted content to you soon. I have a new part time reviewer helping out and you should see some of his reviews in the upcoming weeks.

I can’t wait to share pictures of my new place. But that is all for now.

Keep on keeping on my lovely book nerds.

Jetpack