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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Iceland Trip

I know I said I would post about this when I got back from my trip but I have been so busy with catching up at work and I went to Escapade Music Festival last weekend so there hasn’t been much time to write. But I have finally found some time to sit down and write a post about how amazing my trip was.

First off, we flew with WOW air to Iceland. The flight didn’t cost that much which was good but the plane had a weird smell to it (reminded me of pee) and the seats were very cramped (although they always are for me since I am 6’6). On the return flight home, the guy beside me was chugging beers when the flight attendants weren’t looking and then trying to hide the empty cans all over the place. I’m sure WOW air can be a good experience, we just didn’t have the best one with them. Nonetheless, we didn’t let this get in the way of our trip!

We arrived in Iceland at around 5am and went to pick up our car rental. We rented with Green Motion and got a little Mazda to drive around the country. The rules were very amusing for their rentals. We had insurance that covered for sandstorms because apparently, that is a big thing over there. The #1 rule was to not hit a sheep or goat. They are the equivalent to our deer here in Canada. I just want to say that I did not hit any animals although I did have to stop because there was a herd of sheep crossing the street. We had a staredown and I feel like the sheep blinked first so HA.

Then at 7 am, we went to the Blue Lagoon to enjoy the geothermal spa. It was so warm and we got a drink + mud mask with our admission. We spent a solid 2 hours just chilling in the giant geothermal pools and saunas. It was my first experience at a spa and I think it was great.

After that, we decided to explore the city of Rekyavik. It is beautiful and they have some really cool murals and churches.

There was a little gem of a museum that we visited too. Now, this museum was pretty special because it was a “penis museum“. It featured all different types of animal penises including whales, giraffes, zebras, elk, mice, etc.

We stayed in Airbnb’s for our entire trip because we could pay in CAD instead of Icelandic Krona. Some of them were good and some were just ok. Our favorite one was the first one we stayed in our first night. The host was so nice and got us to drink the pure Icelandic water. She also fed us some little baklava cakes which I kept accidentally calling balaclavas.

On our second day, we went snorkeling in the Sulfra fissure! This was my highlight of the trip. The water was super clear and you could see all the way down to the bottom. It was pretty cold and my hands went numb but it was so worth it. Our dive guide even let me free dive in the lagoon at the end of our snorkeling tour.

I drove a lot during this trip. I can actually officially say I have driven around an entire country. All of the landscapes were incredible and there were waterfalls everywhere you went.

We went all the way to the other side of the island to go whale watching in Husavik. I was very happy with this because we saw so many humpback whales. I had previously done whale watching in Nova Scotia and we never saw anything so this was a step up. The night before this, we stayed in a hostel because it was the only accommodations that we could afford and it was an interesting experience, to say the least. Our room was basically a little 9×9 box with and an open roof. Surprisingly, we slept pretty well. The Husavik harbor was a real sight.

I took a lot of scenery pictures along the way. We saw some glaciers, icebergs, and their famous black sand beaches while driving along the coastline.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The only thing I would say is that Iceland is very expensive because they have to import all their food in so be careful when eating out. Also, gas can be a pain in the ass to figure out. We bought prepaid cards to use the gas machines because they were giving us a lot of trouble.

But I strongly recommend visiting this beautiful country. You will not regret it.

 

 

Blogger Update: I’m going to Iceland!!!

Hey bookworms!

So I won’t be posting for about a week and a bit as I am going on vacation to Iceland :). I am so excited about this trip. I will be gone from June 8th to June 14th.

There are so many activities planned for this trip. We are renting a car and driving around the entire island. I will be bringing a GoPro on the trip to video document all the cool scenery we see and activities we do.

One of the activities I am excited about is The Blue Lagoon.

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It is a giant geothermal spa! We already booked our spot to go here for our first day in Iceland. It comes with a mud mask and complimentary drink! Now that is one way to start off a trip 😛

It is my first time flying with WOW Air so I will have to let you know how that goes. They have super cheap prices for flights but they charge you extra for your bags and there is no meal included unless you pay for it. I’m not too happy about that but the flights were pretty cheap so I can’t really complain.

Later on in the trip, we are planning on checking out the famous waterfalls and black sand beaches in Iceland. Once we get to Husavik (which is on the opposite side of the island we land on), we are planning to go on a whale watching excursion.

Rounding the end of our trip, we will be Snorkelling in the Silfra Fissure. Silfra is a fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates in Thingvellir National Park. The rift was formed in 1789 by the earthquakes accompanying the divergent movement of the two tectonic plates. The diving and snorkeling site at Silfra is right where the two continents meet and drift apart about 2 cm per year. Silfra is the only place in the world where you can dive or snorkel directly in a crack between two tectonic plates.

I am super excited to do this!! I even bought contacts and am getting used to wearing them so that I can see underwater with a mask on 😛

I have been using the Iceland Rough Guides book to get ready for my trip and will be taking it with me in case I need anything or need help on the road. I love this company and try to buy all my travel books form them as they are so informative and make planning trips a breeze.

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Overall, this trip is going to be a blast and I am just excited to do lots of sightseeing and exploring. We are using Airbnb for all of our accommodations during the trip and booking them on the fly as we travel around the island. It is very budget friendly and makes it easier for us. This way we can buy food at a grocery store and then cook it at our airbnb’s because the food is very pricey in Iceland! If you wish to use Airbnb, you can use my discount code to get $40 off your first stay! It also gives me a little credit to use on Airbnb everytime someone does this so it helps out with my travels. Thanks in advance if you use the code. You can access that here:

www.airbnb.ca/c/emcmanus31

That’s all for now but I will be showing you guys all the cool photos and maybe a video from my trip when I am back! Of course, I will be reading on the plane and during downtime so there will be some book reviews coming the following week too!

Talk to you later bookworms 🙂


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