12 August 2019

Review & Giveaway of Ronaldo: The Phantom Carrot Snatcher, by Maxine Sylvester

Alright, it's my first holiday review of the year! I kid, I kid. Well, sort of anyway. But if you are looking to find a fantastic series to buy for your child, I had the chance to read Ronaldo: The Phantom Carrot Snatcher and it's so charming and adorable with an incredible message for kids.

About the Book:

Prepare to laugh out loud at this fun winter tale of friendship, sledging and flying!

Ronaldo is the top cadet at Flying Academy. He is on course to win the coveted Golden Snowflake medal and break the speed record. After the first of three speed tests, he discovers his carrots have been stolen. Ronaldo and best friend, Rudi, are determined to catch the thief. However, Ronaldo doesn’t have far to look. The culprit is hiding outside his house … and it’ a creature feared by every reindeer – a wolf!

Ronaldo and Rudi are terrified, but the wolf cub, Ernie, is sad and lonely. She has lost her pack, and it’s the coldest winter in two hundred years. Ronaldo agrees to hide the wolf in his bedroom, but he and Rudi must come up with a superhero plan to return Ernie safely home before his parents find out.

Rudi suggests flying around the Forest of Doom and delivering a message to the wolf pack during the second speed test. But it’s dangerous and Ronaldo isn’t onboard with the idea. He desperately wants to break the record, and the plan means jeopardising his chance of becoming the champion.

Will Ronaldo discover the true meaning of friendship or will he succumb to ambition and become the youngest flyer ever to break the speed record?

My Review:

What a charming book! I loved the humor and personality in this book. While it's the second in the series, I didn't feel disconnected at all from the story. I also really liked the moral lesson in the story about friendship and ambition. It's such a touching one for kids - and adults who are kids at heart. The artwork in the book is black and white, but that didn't distract from the book at all. This story just made me feel like I was there and part of this world.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would absolutely recommend it! 

About the Author, Maxine Sylvester

Maxine Sylvester was born in London, England. She grew up with a passion for Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear. She also loved anything Disney and enjoyed drawing the characters. Maxine's love of 'fun' art grew and she had the privilege of being mentored by cartoonist and caricaturist, Steve Chadburn. She completed further studies in children's book illustration with talented artist and illustrator, Jan Nesbitt.
Add this book to your Goodreads list, follow the author on Amazon, follow her on Twitter, and check out her website.

Best of all, I am lucky enough to giveaway a digital copy to THREE of my lucky readers. Enter via Rafflecopter below. Open internationally. Ends 9/2.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

07 August 2019

Interview with Author Steven Max Russo (& win a copy of the book "Thieves")

I am so excited to introduce my readers to the author Steven Max Russo. I'm interviewing him today as well as giving away a copy of his book Thieves. First, here's a bit about the book:

About the Book, Thieves

Esmeralda works for a housecleaning service during the day and as a restaurant hostess at night. Just out of high school, she is the sole support for her mother and two young siblings.

She has drive and ambition. What she doesn't have is money.

She knows of a home in the upscale town of Mendham, NJ, that will be empty for more than a month. The rich people who live there go away the same time every year to spend time at their vacation home. Having cleaned the house, she also knows it contains a fair amount of cash and valuables.

Sitting with Ray, one of her co-workers one night, she casually mentions a "what if" scenario; Ray tells Skooley, a white trash drifter who recently moved to New Jersey from south Florida, and a plan is hatched.

It isn't long before Esmeralda finds herself trapped by both circumstance and greed, forced to try and defend herself against one of her partners in crime, who she quickly discovers is far more dangerous than she ever thought possible.

So, I loved reading on your website how the idea for Thieves came about. Can you recount that for me?

Sure. The germ of the idea came to me in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I live in northern New Jersey, away from the coast, and around here we’re just not used to getting hurricanes. The damage was extensive with downed trees and power lines blocking the roads. We had the power out for over a week. Anyway, some friends of ours who live a few towns away were on vacation and they asked my wife and I to look in on their house. It took us over an hour to make what was normally about a ten-minute drive. I had to stop frequently to move trees and rubbish from the road. I had never seen anything like it. It felt like a war zone. When we got to the house, which is much like the home described in the book, I was struck by the thought of just how easy it would be for someone to break into the house. One night I just sat down in front of my computer and began typing. The very first line I wrote was “As a rule, Skooley did not like beaners.” I had no idea for a story at all, but that house just kept gnawing at the back of my brain and so I worked that into the opening scene and from there the story of Esmeralda and Ray and the deranged psychopath Lamar Skooley emerged.

I love those moments where an image won't leave you - that's always when the best ideas come about. You started out writing short stories until you made the decision to write novels. What was that transition like?

This may sound silly, but I’m not sure I actually made a definitive transition. Thieves didn’t start out as a novel so much as a long short story. I have written 3 complete novels to date, but I still mostly think of them as stories, not novels. Each story, start to finish, takes place over just a few days time. Even my writing style seems to lend itself to short chapters, which I feel keeps things moving at a nice pace. Each chapter, to me, often feels like a story unto itself and it seems much easier to write a bunch of short stories than one long novel. The trick is weaving these stories into a cohesive narrative and then coming up with a good ending.

I think of stories as the same way - not short stories, not novels - but stories! Do you consider yourself a “pantser” or a “plotter”? And why?

Well, to date anyway, I’ve been a pantser. As I mentioned above, I usually get one small thing stuck in my head that just keeps nagging at me. I simply can’t get it out of my head until I get something written down and that starts the process. For Thieves, it was the house that I went to check on right after Sandy. For my next novel, The Dead Don't Sleep, it was a day I spent shooting trap with a friend and his uncle from Maine. My friend’s uncle was in the Vietnam War and was supposedly involved in intelligence in some capacity. I never asked what he did during the war, but my imagination got the better of me and Uncle Frank became an aging, resurgent warrior. For my latest novel, the inspiration came from a memory I have from my college days of a guy I once saw walk into a liquor store to buy a bottle of vodka wearing nothing but his underpants. That was what inspired the opening scene of The Debt Collector, only I added a shotgun to go along with the underpants.

To be honest, I wish I were more of a plotter. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stymied while writing my stories not knowing where to go next. I envy people who can get an outline down and then write around that. At least they have a direction. On the other hand, I feel pretty good about what I’ve written so far, so I guess I’ll just keep doing it the way I have been until it doesn’t work for me anymore.

Makes sense to me! You have to do what works for you. What does a typical day of writing look like for you?

For me, writing is about persistence. Some days it’s easy, and some days not so easy. When I’m working on a novel, I try to write something every day. I read somewhere that Stephen King tries to write at least 1500 words a day and I figure if that’s good enough for him, then it’s good enough for me. So that’s my goal. But sometimes I write 300 words and sometimes I write 5,000. The most amazing feeling I’ve had as a writer is when I get really rolling. I’m writing a scene or several scenes that come one after the other and I suddenly stop typing and think I’ve been at it for maybe an hour or so and find that I’ve actually been sitting at my computer typing non-stop for 4 or 5 hours. The writing process is fun and exciting for me because when I write, I actually feel like I am a part of the scene. I’ve been told that I sometimes include too much detail or that scenes are sometimes too graphic. But when I’m writing, I just describe what I see in my head. What I hear and smell and taste and sense. It’s the only way I know how to write. It’s cool because just as reading a book can take you away to someplace different in your head, writing one can do the exact same thing.

What an amazing writing habit you've developed What are you working on next?

My third book titled The Debt Collector is with my new agent, Peter Rubie of FinePrint Literary. It’s the story of young woman named Abigail Barnes who makes her living collecting debts for low-end bookies and loan sharks. She’s pretty, petite – and deadly. She moves to a new town and gets a job collecting for a small-time bookmaker who winds up dead. Soon both the police and the mob are looking for her believing she committed the murder and she has to try and find the true killer before she ends up either in jail or dead herself. It was a fun book to write and I am working on a sequel.

I can't wait to see what you come out with next! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview and best of luck with your next book. 

About the Author

Steven Max Russo has spent most of his professional career as an advertising copywriter and agency owner. He got interested in writing fiction after one of his short stories was accepted by an online literary journal in 2013. Then he caught the bug and began writing seriously. The publication of his first novel, Thieves, has garnered praise from renowned crime and thriller authors from around the globe. With a gritty writing style and unique voice, he is quickly winning a legion of new fans. Steve is proud to call New Jersey his home.

Visit the author at http://stevenmaxrussobooks.com.

Readers, enter to win a copy of the book Thieves below via Rafflecopter. Giveaway ends on 8/26. US only.

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27 July 2019

3 Suggestions for a Saturday Night Featuring Author Sue Moorcroft

Happy Saturday night! This is my weekly feature where authors and guests (and sometimes even me) share three suggestions for a Saturday night. This post will include a book suggestion, movie suggestion, and one wild card suggestion, where the guest can suggest whatever they want.

I am excited to have author Sue Moorcroft as my Saturday night guest. She is a Sunday Times and international bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle. She’s won the Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award, the Katie Fforde Bursary and was twice nominated in the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards. Sue’s novels of love and life are currently released by publishing giant HarperCollins in the UK, US and Canada and an array of publishers in other countries.

Her short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses have also appeared around the world.

Born into an army family in Germany, Sue spent much of her childhood in Cyprus and Malta but settled in Northamptonshire, England at the age of ten. An avid reader, she also loves Formula 1, time spent with friends, dance exercise and yoga.

And before we get into Sue's suggestions for Saturday Night, here is a bit about her book A Summer to Remember:

A Summer to Remember sees Clancy Moss escaping from her life, her (ex)fiancé and her business start-up in London to hide out in the tiny seaside village of Nelson's Bar. She's been looking after her cousin Alice's half-share of Roundhouse Row holiday cottages for six years and so she appoints herself the new caretaker there. But then there's Aaron, who owns the other half of the cottages ... last time they met they shared a heated kiss - and then a flaming row after Alice jilted Aaron's brother Lee. Awkward.

Be sure to add this to your GoodReads list or purchase it on Amazon. 

Now, here is Sue with her Saturday Night suggestions: 

Saturday Night Book Suggestion:

The Woman Left Behind by Linda Howard. I listened to this as an audiobook and was absolutely gripped. It's a romantic suspense book about a drone operator in special operations who has to train to work with a team in the field in boot camps. It takes a while for her to be accepted but eventually, when she is and has snared the hot hero, she's left behind on a mission. It's for the greater good but that's no comfort when you're thousands of miles from home with the baddies after you. Awesome storytelling. My emotions were all over the place. I didn't want the story to end ... and yet I did because I wanted to know how the author was going to bring the right ending about.

I've been a fan of Linda Howard for years and think she's under-exposed on this side of the pond. She writes gripping suspense and sizzling romance, which is the kind of combination that carries me away.

Saturday Night Movie Suggestion:

I hardly watch movies but loved Solo, the spin-off from the Star Wars films. I had the brilliant idea of buying the DVD for us all at Christmas. Han Solo was my favourite character in the original trilogy and I wondered how I'd take to him in his younger form, but I loved the whole thing. The action scenes, the CGI, the touches of humour, the droids ... every ingredient of what Star Wars does best is present in this story. I think it went straight to DVD but don't know why. Maybe they thought it was just for die-hard fans of the galaxy far, far away? Alden Ehrenreich made Han Solo his own and, short of a time machine to fit Harrison Ford into the role, I don't think we could have asked for better. And there are wookiees.

Saturday Night Wild Card Suggestion:

In the 'anything I like category' I'm going to nominate Sky Sports' coverage of Formula 1. I love Formula 1. Although I don't watch much TV I do watch every practice session, every qualifying and race, even if it means watching it on my phone if I'm abroad. On a Saturday we get a practice session and qualifying. It's qualifying that I really enjoy, watching the teams strategising to try and get their driver(s) out onto the track at the optimum moment to either get a slipstream or avoid turbulent air, for the track to be rubbered in, the temperatures to be most favourable to their car's characteristics and the car and tyre set-up to be perfect. And for the driver to be top of his game. The session is divided into three parts with five cars being knocked out in Q1 and Q2, leaving the top ten to slug it out in ten minutes in Q3. Most of all, I love an upset, because then I know we're in for an interesting race the next day.

Sorry if you don't share my love of Formula 1 because I had a bit of a fan moment there.

Thank you Sue! If you want to guest host my "3 Suggestions" for next Saturday night, send me an email to npyles86[at]gmail[dot]com.

25 July 2019

Review of Audio Book, Banged Up Heart, a Memoir by Shirley Melis

 Are you looking for a new book to add to your reading list this summer? Well, you'll definitely want to add this one:

About the book

Banged-Up Heart is an intimate and clear-eyed account of finding love late and losing it early—and of the strength it takes to fall deeply in love a second time, be forced to relinquish that love too soon, and yet choose to love again.

When her husband of thirty years dies suddenly, Shirley Melis is convinced she will never find another man like Joe. Then she meets John, a younger man who tells her during their first conversation that he has lived for many years with a rare but manageable cancer. She is swept off her feet in a whirlwind courtship, and within months, made brave by the early death of a friend’s husband, she asks him to marry her! What follows is a year-long odyssey of travel and a growing erotic and creative partnership— until a mysterious bump on John’s forehead proves to be one of several tumors in his brain and spine.

The nine months that follow are filled with a life-threatening infection, three brain surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. Two years and one week after their wedding, John dies at the age of fifty-nine. More than just a love story or a memoir of mourning, Banged-Up Heart comes down solidly on the side of life. It takes you deep inside an ordinary woman, her deeply felt grief butting up against her desire for more than companionship: passion, sexual fulfillment, and self-realization. It bears eloquent witness to the wild trust it takes to fall madly in love and risk profound loss—a second time. Ultimately, it shows that it is possible to dance with a banged-up heart.

What I Thought

It's truly been a long time since I've tried an audiobook! Mainly because with audible books, it requires me to sit, quiet myself, and listen. Never a bad thing to practice, I say. With Banged Up Heart, I enjoyed this so much. I appreciated the author's honesty. She captured me with vivid descriptions and the raw emotion that was displayed in the book. This book was such an incredible mix of emotions, both heartbreaking and touching and filled with so much love. I really liked the narrator's voice too, which I think really makes a difference with audiobooks.

I highly recommend! 

About the Author

Shirley Melis is a longtime business writer, travel writer, and newspaper columnist who traveled the world interviewing everyone from busboys to heads of international organizations before launching a career in public relations in Washington, D.C. With Banged-Up Heart, she now takes her writing in a new direction, delving deeply into her own personal story of finding love late, losing it early, and discovering the strength to choose to love again. It is a fascinating odyssey, a journey both creative and erotic as Shirley and John work lovingly together to blend their dreams—until a mysterious bump on his forehead starts them on a tragic struggle against the dark hand of fate.

A graduate of Vassar, Shirley Melis has created an intimate memoir bearing eloquent witness to the kind of wild trust that can grow in the heart of an ordinary woman thrust into circumstances that few others must face. Now retired, she lives in

Galisteo, New Mexico.

Purchase your copy on Amazon.com and add to your Goodreads reading list. Purchase the audible version of the book now.

I received a free copy of the audiobook in exchange for my honest review.

22 July 2019

Justice Makes A Killing by Ed Rucker, Book Spotlight & Giveaway

Today I have an exciting book spotlight and giveaway to share with you! It's Justice Makes a Killing by Ed Rucker.

For decades, Ed Rucker was one of the United States' most prominent criminal defense lawyers. His legal thrillers have been praised for their authenticity, as well as gripping suspense. During his career, he represented numerous high profile clients, including John Orr, the greatest serial arsonist in American history, a trial memorialized in Fire Lover, by Joseph Wambaugh; Laurianne Sconce, the matriarch of the Lamb Funeral Home, whose trial that was the subject of the book Ashes, by James Joseph, and Eddie Nash, a prominent nightclub owner, who was portrayed in the film, Boogie Nights. Ed Rucker's second book, Justice Makes a Killing, is available for purchase where books are sold.

A heart-stopping thriller, Justice Makes a Killing finds Rucker’s fictional defense lawyer Bobby Earl facing his most daunting murder case yet, one that involves a beautiful lawyer accused of a passion killing, as well as a conspiracy that might implicate the multi-billion-dollar private prison industry.

Kirkus Reviews calls Justice Makes a Killing, “A thoroughly enjoyable page-turner..... The classic courtroom drama at the heart of this story is perfectly orchestrated, and the seemingly impossible odds make Earl’s masterful handling of evidence, witnesses, opposing counsel, the jury, and the judge wonderfully satisfying to read.”

Purchase a copy from Amazon or buy from your local bookstore. Find more of Ed Rucker's books here.

I am excited to announce that I have two book copies to giveaway to two lucky readers. US only please. Enter via Rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends 8/9.

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08 July 2019

Interview with Deborah L. King, Author of "Glory Bishop" (And Giveaway!)

I am so excited for everyone to read my interview with the incredible author Deborah L. King. First, before the interview, here is a bit about her book Glory Bishop:

Glory Bishop lives her life in pieces. At work and with her friends, she reads novels, speaks her mind, and enjoys slow dances and stolen kisses with her boyfriend, JT. But at home, Glory follows strict rules and second-guesses every step. Though she dreams of going to college and living like a normal teenage girl, her abusive mother has other ideas.

When JT leaves to join the navy, Glory is left alone and heartsick. The preacher’s son, Malcolm Porter, begins to shower her with lavish gifts, and her mother pushes Glory to accept his advances. Glory is torn between waiting for true love with JT or giving in to the overzealous Malcolm.

When a stranger attacks Glory on the street, Malcolm steps in to rescue her, and her interest in him deepens. But the closer she gets to him, the more controlling he becomes. Glory must eventually decide whether to rely on others or to be her own savior.

Read an excerpt here. Or purchase your own copy on Amazon.

What inspired your book Glory Bishop?

Years ago, in a writing class, I wrote a piece about a young woman wrapped in a winter coat on a hot summer day. She was carrying a pair of red high heeled shoes and could be heard mumbling to herself. What she was hearing was her mother's voice in her head berating her for looking like a Jezebel and being seen in a bar. The last line of that piece " ...and that's where the sunrise found her...stripped down to her soul and dancing on the bar..." made me want to know more about the young lady, and how she came to her circumstances.

What an incredible scene that sparked this book! How did this book transform from its first draft to the final draft?

Haha! Glory lost a lot of weight! Originally, the book was 135k words, which is way more than almost any women's fiction manuscript. After editing and tweaks, she's now 100k words. Also, I have a character who sings everything, so I had to take out a whole lotta of song lyrics because of copyright rules. Now she just mentions song titles and hums a lot.

Oh that must have been tough to cut it down so much! The cover is GORGEOUS! Did you have any say in the design?

I wish I could take even a little credit for the cover, but really, my publisher works with incredible designers.

I loved reading about all the careers you desired as a young child and how they manifested in your adulthood! How did each of those experiences shape your writing?

I can't say all of my childhood dreams shaped my writing, but my daughter pointing out that I'd actually accomplished almost everything I ever wanted to do made me realize that I could possibly be an author one day. But...I guess I do draw on those experiences for character interests.

I think that's amazing you do that. Did you do any research for the book? What were you surprised to learn?

I did a fair amount of research since my story is set in the mid-80s. I had to find a lot of music (which I couldn't use because lawyers), and my study of Chicago neighbors and bus routes was quite informative. I was surprised to learn a lot of history about Chicago's west side, and the handling of the AIDS epidemic in its early days. I also got a lot of help from my high school classmates on Facebook.

That is awesome you did that in-depth research. I saw in an interview it took you 25 years to write this book. Why did you stop and why did you go back?

I stopped writing because life happened. Work, marriage, children, caregiving, etc. Then one day, a friend told me about the Writer's Institute, a conference in Madison, WI held by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At the time I was working on a memoir, but at the conference, characters from Glory Bishop started coming to me. With my friend's and my Aunt's encouragement, I picked up the story again and started seriously listening and telling Glory's story.

What advice do you have for writers who desire to return to a book they haven't finished?

I know it's cliche, but just do it. If what you're writing is not flowing, write a different part of the story. If you're not feeling the characters, write character descriptions. You'd be surprised what you can learn about your characters or world when you try to describe them.

I love that advice! How did your approach in writing this book change when you went back to it?

When I went back to it, I had a plan. I had characters that had dreams and goals and I took my time and wrote out timelines and maps and recipes. I approached it like I thought a professional writer would. I took my writing seriously for real for the first time.

What was your process in finding a publisher?
Hoo boy! First, I listened to my instructors and followed their advice. I finished the book and had it professionally edited and proofread. I sent query letters to agents, with the hope of just getting them to read the first couple of pages. I used a site called Query Tracker to keep up with my queries and responses. All told, I got 99 rejections. I'd say 90% of my queries were tossed without reading any of the pages just because of my story's word count, so I didn't take any of the rejection personally. I was running out a patience a little when I started querying publishers directly. Red Adept Publishing was one of them. My word count wasn't a problem for them, and the acquisition editor loved my story. When I got the call that my story was accepted, I was useless for a couple of days.

I'll bet! My heart broke when I read you lost many of your handwritten stories and essays! As a hand-writer myself, I can relate to how hard it is to keep track of all of those. What is your writing method now? Do you still hand write? How do you keep track of everything?

I no longer hand write. I use Google Docs, and store everything on Google Drive, which is synced to folders on my computer. That way, I can truly access my work anywhere without fear of losing my place or file corruption.

I do the same thing! So, I read that you loved to cook! So if you could recommend any recipe that readers should make that goes well with your book, what would you recommend?

In the book, Glory makes a pot roast, and I describe her recipe...it's pretty easy and uses a crock pot.

"She watched her mother savoring the pot roast and brightened a little. Glory had learned to cook it from her dad when she was nine—cut meat up in big hunks, add onion-soup mix and mushroom-soup mix, and chop the vegetables kind of big. The time they’d had a snow day last year and she let JT in after her mother left for work, he’d liked it, too." Glory also likes to make 1-2-3 butter cookies. 1 part butter, 2 parts sugar, and 3 parts flour. Mix together 'til dough forms. Roll into balls and press down with 3 fingers, then bake til the edges are brown."

Now I want to try that myself! Thank you so much for this interview and best of luck to you with your book!

I'm also happy to announce that I get to giveaway a copy of the book to one lucky reader! It will be a e-book copy of Deborah L. King's book Glory Bishop. Enter via Rafflecopter below. Open internationally. Giveaway ends July 31st.

Book trigger warnings for language, sex, scenes of physical and emotional abuse... Can't wait for the giveaway to be over to read this book? Make sure you purchase a copy on Amazon.com and make sure you add this book to Goodreads. Be sure to visit the author's webpage to also follow along her journey.

About the Author, Deborah L. King

Growing up, Deborah King wanted to be a cook, a teacher, a model, an artist, a photographer, and an author. To date, she has cooked for or catered several receptions; taught Sunday School, led Girl Scout troops, and been a corporate trainer for a retail chain. As a young adult, she modeled in boutique fashion shows. She now works as a freelance graphic artist and photographer; and with the publication of her debut novel Glory Bishop, Deborah King is officially an author.

Deborah lives in Illinois with her husband and two youngest children; and according to her daughter, she has “literally aced her life!”

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03 July 2019

Heal Your Self with Journaling Power by Mari L. McCarthy [Book Review]

I was so excited to be part of and put together this blog tour for Mari L. McCarthy's book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power. Be sure to stop by the WOW blog and read an interview with Mari!

I was exposed to the powers of journaling thanks to my Mom who really influenced me to journal and write down my thoughts. I got my first journal when I was ten and have been journaling off and on since. Ironically, by the time I had the chance to read and review Mari's book, I haven't been journaling as much. So this came at the perfect time.

First, here is a bit about the book:

Mari L. McCarthy’s international bestselling book, Journaling Power, started a movement. Now, Heal Your Self with Journaling Power is igniting a revolution!

You’ll discover the life-changing magic of journaling through moving personal stories told by just some of the thousands of people who have tapped into the proven therapeutic power of expressive writing. 

These are people just like you, and their challenges are the same ones you have. 

Heal Your Self with Journaling Power reveals the inner strength and grace that comes with living your life in the present from the inside out. It will help you transform your life and… 

● Manifest everything your desire 

● Fill you with uplifting positive energy 

● Put you on a path to better health and wellness 

● Give you the inspiration and motivation to live your best life 

● Show you how to use journaling to solve your most pressing problems 

The only right way to journal is YOUR way. Just grab a pen and paper and do it!

My Thoughts

Mari's book is nothing short of inspiring! I loved reading the experiences people had with journaling and it inspired me to get back into my own. Packed with testimonies from people who have seen their lives transformed by journaling, this will inspire you to rethink your own health issues. I believe with all my heart that body, mind, and spirit are all connected and journaling allows you to unleash stress and the things you carry around in your soul and just lets it all out.

What I also really like about Mari's book is that it provides prompts along the way. This is great if you've been away from journaling for a while and need some help with what to focus on.

Heal Your Self with Journaling Power is now available to purchase on Amazon.com, Kobo.com, Barnes and Noble and also on Mari's website CreateWriteNow.com (where you can get a signed copy).
I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

02 July 2019

Rain Town by Andy Donaldson [Book Review & Giveaway]

I have to say I am a sucker for a good cover and a charming story. Reading Rain Town reminds me that heroes come in all shapes and sizes and ages and you can surely be a hero in your own town and in your own life.

Here's a bit about the book:

Sidney Rain is an ordinary man with an ordinary job in an ordinary town. Except for the fact that sometimes at night he dresses up as a superhero and heads out living his fantasy. But he’s putting on weight, about to lose his job and he’s generally not feeling particularly super at all. 

Stanley Rain is Sidney’s 12 year old son. He’s an ordinary boy with ordinary friends at an ordinary school. But that school is being taken over by a local entrepreneur and is changing for the worst. And Stanley is not going to let that happen without a fight. 

When a mysterious theft takes place, Stanley and his friends will need to turn detective to help save their school. And after being fired at work by his new boss, Sidney will need his friends to help save his soul.

My Review

This book was so charming. I enjoyed Sidney Rain's character, who is a bit out of touch with people, but surely means well. As for his son, Stanley, he's also a delightful character, and his interactions with his friends felt so real to me. I thought the author did an excellent job introducing me to this city and I truly fell in love with the characters in this book. I was glad to read it and I highly recommend it to someone who wants to escape into Stanley and Sidney's world while laughing along the way!  

Be sure to add this book to your GoodReads list and purchase it on Amazon.com.

I am also excited that I get to giveaway a copy of this book to one lucky reader! Open internationally (note: reader may receive an e-book depending upon location). Giveaway ends on 7/24.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

27 June 2019

Papa's Shoes by Madeline Sharples [Book Review]

I am so excited to share with you this latest book Papa's Shoes by Madeline Sharples. It's part of the WOW! Women on Writing blog tour happening now and I'm so honored to be part of this tour. First, be sure that you visit the tour page and read an interview with the author! 

About the Book

Papa’s Shoes: A Polish shoemaker and his family settle in small-town America is a work of fiction about immigration with a feminist and historical bent. At 99,968 words, Papa’s Shoes is a stand-alone novel with series potential.

Ira Schuman is determined to move his family out of their Polish shtetl to the hope and opportunities he’s heard about in America. But along the way he faces the death of three of his four sons, a wife who does not have the same aspirations as his, and the birth of a daughter, Ava, conceived to make up for the loss of his boys. Ava grows up to be smart, beautiful, and very independent.

Besides having a feisty relationship with her overly-protective mother, Ava falls for the college man who directs her high school senior class play. With the news that she wants to marry a non-Jewish man, Ira realizes that his plan to assimilate in the new world has backfired. Should the young couple marry, he must decide whether to banish his daughter from his family or welcome them with open arms. Even though he won’t attend their wedding, he makes her a pair a wedding shoes. In his mind, the shoes are simply a gift, not a peace offering.

My Review

Oh, this was such a wonderful book. I thought the author captured the time period so well and really brought me close to what it must've felt like for someone to be new to America and trying to assimilate and get comfortable. The family relationships were done so well and the Yiddish terms used throughout the book just added to the experience of feeling close to this family. Honestly, the ending of the book enticed me to want to know more about what happens in this family and I hope there is a part two! 

Papa's Shoes by Madeline Sharples is available in print and as an ebook on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

About the Author: 

Madeline has worked most of her professional life as a technical writer, grant writer, and proposal process manager. She began writing poetry, essays, and creative non-fiction when her oldest son, Paul, was diagnosed as manic depressive. She continued writing as a way to heal since his death by suicide in 1999. Madeline’s memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, first released on Mother’s Day 2011 in hard cover, is about living with her son’s bipolar disorder and surviving his suicide. Her publisher, Dream of Things, launched a paperback edition in July 2012 and an eBook in August 2012.

Madeline also co-edited Volumes 1 and 2 of The Great American Poetry Show, a poetry anthology, and wrote the poems for two books of photography, The Emerging Goddess and Intimacy (Paul Blieden, photographer). Besides having many poems published in print and online magazines, writes regularly for Naturally Savvy, and occasionally for PsychAliveOpen to Hope, and Journeys Through Grief and The Huffington Post.

Find Madeline Online:
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I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Want to read great books like this one? Send me an email to nicole[at]wow-womenonwriting.com to find out when we are launching a new blog tour.

12 June 2019

Recursion by Blake Crouch [Book Review]

So not too long ago, I had the chance to review Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. In fact, if you haven't heard of it, go check out my review - I LOVED it. 

Author Blake Crouch is back again, this time with a book called Recursion. I had mixed feelings about the book, but wow - what a ride.

Here's a bit about the book:

Memory makes reality. That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.

Neuroscientist Helena Smith already understands the power of memory. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent.

As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.

But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?

What I Thought:

Okay, so if you read Dark Matter, I'm wondering if you struggled with the beginning like I did. Honestly, for the first 30 pages, I thought I knew what was going on and it stalled me on finishing this book. Then, I picked it back up, mostly to fulfill my review commitment and was so shocked at the turn it took. This was absolutely a thriller and it makes you think about reality and time and memories in a new way. However, there are elements similar to Dark Matter, but not quite the same. I know, I'm being vague, but I'm being vague on purpose. 

Overall, I'm a huge fan of themes about alternative universes and time travel and all that. And this book did have some of those elements. I liked the characters Helena Smith and Barry Sutton. Both were strongly developed. 

My issue? Darn this book was dark. I mean seriously, if you aren't in a great mood or place in your life right now, put this one on your TBR for a sunnier time in your life. I mean, I'll give one thing away - the book does end a tad more positively than you might think. Another aspect I struggled with was how complicated it was. Yikes. I mean this is no beach read unless you like complicated books for the beach (no judgment if you do).

If I was going to compare the two, I would say that I enjoyed Dark Matter more. It was more enjoyable and not as complicated and less doom and gloom. Yet, once I got past the first 30 pages of Recursion, I was roped in and couldn't let go. So it is a very exciting, captivating thriller that challenged me a lot.

Four out of five stars for me! 

I received a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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