Magical Beasts – The Enchanted World Series Book Review

The Enchanted World Series by the Editors of Time-Life books is a book set of 21 volumes and I’ve been working to complete my set by purchasing a volume here and there. The volumes have the  year of 1985 and you can see the original commercial for the books with Vincent Price below.

Some of of the volumes are more expensive than others. I recently read Wizards and Witches by Brendan Lehane and you can see that review HERE.

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Magical Beasts by Tristram Potter Coffin is the second book in the Enchanted World Series that I’ve read recently. The book is split into three sections/chapters and covers many different beasts and myths from long ago.

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As you can see above, this volume has some serious cover wear. It has a very vintage smell to it as well. All the volumes have fabric covers.

This magical and mysterious volume contains stories about beasts including the Minotaur, Satyrs, Centaurs, Fomorians, dog-men, flying beasts, and unicorns. The first section covers “Vestiges of the Elder Days” and readers learn about some Greek Mythology here.

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I found the second section titled “Riders of the Wind” more interesting which highlights flying creatures like the Firebird of Russia and other strange creatures that scholars learned about after their travels. It’s interesting how some of these false tales formed. This section covers the manticore, the basilisk, and the peryton to name a few.

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Artwork by John Howe
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Though slain by a mortal warrior’s weapon, the Centaur Chiron gained new life. Through the vault of the heavens he flies as the archer-constellation Sagittarius, his bow forever drawn against the sparkling, venom-bearing Scorpio.
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The mermecolion of Asia having a lion head and an ant body was said to be gentle

Continue reading “Magical Beasts – The Enchanted World Series Book Review”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book

I’m back on track this week and have an awesome smoothie recipe for you! This is one that I’ve been making for years and comes from one of my favorite raw food advocates, Paul Nison. You can find him on Goodreads by clicking HERE. He’s written a handful of books. The one I’ve read is:

The Raw Life: Becoming Natural in an Unnatural World

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-Click the cover to add to Goodreads-

Blurb: This Book will help you learn about health and to achieve your goals. It will simply teach you the way to get the results you desire with the raw food diet. It’s an easy book to understand why and how to eat with simple recipes to help you on your path. Many people who start out on a raw food diet have started with this book. Others who have been eating a raw diet for many years love the interviews in this book with long term raw fooders.


Bahini Smoothie – This is how I make it…

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 Bananas peeled – Frozen Bananas are best!
  • 1/4 cup Tahini
  • 1-2 TB Coconut butter or manna – (flaked coconut works too)
  • 1-2 TB Raw Honey
  • Dash of salt – Himalayan or a salt with minerals preferred
  • Dash of Bee Pollen (optional)
  • 1 TB Barleymax Powder (optional – You can use any ‘green’ powder or fresh greens) I used a tsp of Moringa
  • 1 cup of ice or more depending on how much you want. If you use frozen bananas, you barely need any ice at all.
  • Paul uses a good amount of water, I only use about a half cup or so. I like my smoothies thicker, if you want it thinner, just add more water.

You can watch Paul make the smoothie in this video, or scroll down to see mine…

This will make roughly 40 ounces or so. 


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-Add all the ingredients in the order listed to the blender-

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-Start blending slow and then increase to high speed-

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-Blend until smooth-

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-I added in some chia seeds as well-

-Just be sure to stir the chia seeds in and they’ll become gelatinous-  Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book”

Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books

This week I have four different wordless picture books to share with you that we really enjoyed. Like most, these are all perfect wordless picture books for parent child reading and enjoyment.

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You can read on to see my reviews on each. If  you’d like to view last weeks picture books and learn some benefits to reading wordless books, you can see my previous post HERE. If you’d like to add some of these wonderful books on Goodreads, just click the title.


The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

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Blurb: Illustrated in full color, this is a wordless story. The pictures have “the hazy softness of air in snow.” A little boy rushes out into the wintry day to build a snowman, which comes alive in his dreams that night. The boy invites him home and in return is taken on a flight high above the countryside.

My review

The Snowman is a wonderful wordless book for children. The story starts with a young boy who sees the snow outside and rushes out of his home to build a snowman. As the boy sleeps, the snowman comes alive and is welcomed into the boy’s home to discover what it’s like inside. In return, the snowman will show him his home as well. A dream to be remembered forever.

This book is packed full of sketched illustrations in color. This is a beautiful Christmas book that can be read by all ages and any time of the year.

stars

Check out this short movie based on The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. It’s introduced by David Bowie!


The Giant Seed by Arthur Geisert

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Blurb: In this follow up to the magnificently inventive Ice, Arthur Geisert once again charms us with his porcine world. This time his pigs must get creative when a volcano destroys their home. Fortunately they got busybefore trouble hit by planting a huge mysterious seed, for it’s the seed plus imagination, as well as a good dose of can-do spirit, that save the day! Illustrated with inventive, sensitive, and unusually lovely etchings that seem to come from an old cherished album, The Big Seed is a worthy successor to Geisert’s Ice.

Award-winning children’s book author Arthur Geisert‘s pigs are legendary in the world of children’s books. They carve ice sculptures, teach Roman numerals, create ingenious machines, and get up to all kinds of antics. Did Arthur grow up on a farm? No. He grew up in Los Angeles and claims not to have seen a pig until he was an adult. Trained as a sculptor in college, Geisert learned to etch at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. He has published just about a book a year for the past thirty years and every one of his books has been illustrated with etchings. In 1996 (as well as once previous to that) he won The New York Times Best Illustrated Award. Geisert lives in Bernard, Iowa.

My review

The Giant Seed by Arthur Geisert is a story about a community of pigs that live near a volcano. They are blessed with the arrival of a giant dandelion seed which they decide to plant and grow. Little do they know, this seed that will soon grow into a new plant just might be a life saver for them all.

We loved the author’s adorable pig illustrations. The ending was left wide open which made me think there might be another book to continue the story, but I haven’t found one yet. This is the first book we’ve read by this author and I’m definitely interested in reading more about this pig community. This one strikes up a lot of conversation!

4-stars


Here I Am by Patti Kim – Pictures by Sonia Sanchez

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Blurb: Newly arrived from their faraway homeland, a boy and his family enter into the lights, noise, and traffic of a busy American city in this dazzling wordless picture book. The language is unfamiliar. Food, habits, games, and gestures are puzzling. They boy clings tightly to his special keepsake from home and wonders how he will find his way. How will he once again become the happy, confident kid he used to be? Walk in his shoes as he takes the first tentative steps toward discovering joy in his new world. A poignant and affirming view of the immigrant experience.

Because this book is based on the author’s experience, here is some author information: Patti Kim was born in Pusan, Korea, and immigrated to the United States on Christmas of 1974 with her mother, father, and older sister. At the age of five, she thought she was a writer and scribbled gibberish all over the pages of her mother’s Korean-English dictionary and got in big trouble for it. Her scribbling eventually paid off. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Maryland. She lives with her husband and two daughters who give her plenty to write about every day.

You can visit her blog HERE

My review

Here I Am is a wordless children’s picture book of one incredibly inspiring story of a child’s immigration to the United States.

A child and his family leave their home and move into a busy city in the United States. This is difficult for him and he struggles getting used to his new life in the city. He has a new school, new house, and is surrounded by new people. In his hand he carries a keepsake from his homeland which helps him along the way. He accidentally drops it out of a window and down into the street. He realizes in order to get it back he’s going to have to go outside and explore which might just be the best thing for him.

This is a story about starting a new life and overcoming fear of the unknown. We enjoyed all the rich, detailed illustrations and the author’s note at the end.

stars


Continue reading “Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books”

Standing Strong: An Unlikely Sisterhood and the Court Case That Made History by Diane Reeve

Last January I came across this book on Netgalley titled Standing Strong: An Unlikely Sisterhood and the Court Case That Made History by Diane Reeve. It sounded interesting and compelling, so I had to read it. I’d never heard Diane’s story before reading the book. You can see my review below along with some information about the author Diane Reeve.

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Standing Strong by Diane Reeve had me captivated from beginning to end. The story is absolutely amazing, revealing, and well written.

I have to admit, I was so shocked as the story unraveled. It’s truly hard to believe that somebody could have the capabilities to be so destructive and cruel. Phillipe Padieu is that type of person. A monstrous person who simply cannot be trusted. What happens to Diane is a tragedy, but her courage prevails.

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Diane Reeve and Philippe Padieu

I admired that she explained statistics and helpful information in the book. Diane is unbelievably brave and now a prominent AIDS awareness advocate.

stars

I’d like to thank Netgalley, the author, and publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb

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Diane Reeve with her book Standing Strong

Diane Reeve found everything she was looking for in the handsome Frenchman Philippe Padieu. Deeply in love, they spent every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday together at his place or hers . . . that is, until she learned about his Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday women. Continue reading “Standing Strong: An Unlikely Sisterhood and the Court Case That Made History by Diane Reeve”

Some Free Kindle Books Today!

Here are ten FREE kindle books on Amazon right now.

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The first one I’ll mention is the one I started reading today by author Luke Narlee! You can click the cover to pick this up on Amazon!

The Appointment: Lost & Found (Book 1) : Volume 1

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Author Luke P. Narlee returns with another wild and unpredictable tale about the human condition. Only this time, there’s an entire country at stake.

Depression has swept across the nation since the initiation of the Lockdown. The public has been systematically deprived of anything that brings them entertainment, or allows them to express emotion.

When an utterly hopeless Jacob Johansen receives an invitation to attend a mysterious appointment at an anonymous facility, he agrees, considering he has nothing to lose. He takes this opportunity to peel himself away from the drab repetition of the day-to-day routine he’s come to know and reignite a sense of purpose in his life.

Jacob agrees to go forward with a series of tests in which he is immersed in a dream realm that reminds him of the man he was and shows him the potential of the man he could become.

As Jacob engages in his own self-exploration, he is met with the sober realization that his own actions, decisions or avoidances could have a ripple effect, deeper than any dreamer could have fathomed.

From the acclaimed author of Guest Bed comes book one of an epic new series filled with dreams, parallel universes, artificial intelligence, angels, virtual reality, soul mates, and much more…


Here are a few more I found. You can click the covers to find them on Amazon.

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513iucxvOTL.jpg Continue reading “Some Free Kindle Books Today!”

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

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The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson is a psychological thriller that will have you guessing until the end!

Just who are the kind worth killing?

If you haven’t read this book, I recommend skipping my review and blurb. There aren’t any spoilers here, but going in blind is probably the best…

The story starts out with Lily and Ted. The two strangers come together for a game of truth which turns into a plan for murder. Lily has a history and Ted has issues with his wife. Lily jumps in the driver’s seat and one thing leads to another. The two strangers plan an arrangement to wreak havoc, but what will be the outcome?

Of course, I went into this blind and had no clue what I was getting into which is what I recommend to others. EVERYTHING you think you’ve figured out, you haven’t.

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There are some major twists and turns which kept my interest from the beginning to end. The story fully grasped me and didn’t let me go. The absolute only issue I had was the ending which I both loved and hated. Give me MORE!

This is one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read. I picked it up on audible and enjoyed all four narrators. I’d like to thank my friend Basia for recommending it!

stars


Blurb

From the author of the acclaimed The Girl with a Clock for a Heart–hailed by the Washington Post as crime fiction’s best first novel of 2014″–a devious tale of psychological suspense involving sex, deception, and an accidental encounter that leads to murder that is a modern reimagining of Patricia Highsmith’s classic Strangers on a Train.

On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing very intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage that’s going stale and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. Ted and his wife were a mismatch from the start–he the rich businessman, she the artistic free spirit–a contrast that once inflamed their passion, but has now become a cliche.

But their game turns a little darker when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.” After all, some people are the kind worth killing, like a lying, stinking, cheating spouse. . . .

Back in Boston, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they begin to plot Miranda’s demise. But there are a few things about Lily’s past that she hasn’t shared with Ted, namely her experience in the art and craft of murder, a journey that began in her very precocious youth.

Suddenly these co-conspirators are embroiled in a chilling game of cat-and-mouse, one they both cannot survive . . . with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.

Duration: 10 hours, 18 minutes


About the Author

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Peter Swanson is the author of three novels: The Girl With a Clock For a Heart, an LA Times Book Award finalist; The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; and his most recent, Her Every Fear. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine.

You can find him on:

Goodreads |Amazon| Website 

Other Books

Run Rabbit Run by Barbara and Max Rodgers

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Run Rabbit Run is a memoir written by Barbara Rodgers and Max Rodgers. I picked up the eBook on Amazon for $3.99. You can find it by clicking here.

The story is true and discloses a slice of Barbara’s life that can only be described as turbulent. Her life begins with a dysfunctional family and progresses into bad relationships, divorce, greed, and uncontrollable mental illness. She has a beloved twin sister who she confides in until an unforeseen event rips the two apart. You can see Barbara and her sister Mary’s song below.

Lyrics:

It must have been cold there in my shadow,
To never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine, that’s your way.
You always walked a step behind.

So I was the one with all the glory,
While you were the one with all the strength.
A beautiful face without a name for so long.
A beautiful smile to hide the pain.

Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
And everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
For you are the wind beneath my wings.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
But I’ve got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you.

Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
You’re everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle,
For you are the wind beneath my wings.

Did I ever tell you you’re my hero?
You’re everything, everything I wish I could be.
Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle,
For you are the wind beneath my wings,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

Oh, the wind beneath my wings.
You, you, you, you are the wind beneath my wings.
Fly, fly, fly away. You let me fly so high.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.

Fly, fly, fly high against the sky,
So high I almost touch the sky.
Thank you, thank you,
Thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings.

_____________________

The story is emotional, raw and gritty at times. At one point I began wondering why Barbara was making some of the choices she was, but understand that mental illness works this way. It has the capability to control you and takes over your emotions. You start believing that you are worthless along with other horrible thoughts. It can feel impossible to be free from it.

light-1-a.jpgBarbara was dealing with some deep wounds and didn’t have much support, until Max came into the picture. Max was just the person for Barbara and understood her condition. Max’s perseverance helped Barbara to understand that she was loved and not alone. As life moves forward, Barbara begins to change and finally gains control over her mental illness.

It was obvious to me what Barbara was going through. I’ve gone through a similar experience, although not as extreme. It seems like there’s no one on your side and the future appears bleak. I feel that the authors did an excellent job telling their story and the book was written well. I personally liked the story even though it’s hard to apply the word ‘like’ with such an emotional read. I didn’t want to put the book down.

For those who are asking, I would most definitely consider this a Christian book. It’s a compelling story that I would recommend to others who are struggling with mental illness.

4-stars

Continue reading “Run Rabbit Run by Barbara and Max Rodgers”

Chris Cornell: Thoughts on Suicide & Forgiveness

It’s been a little over a week since I awoke from sleep and learned that one of my favorite singers of all time had passed away. At the time I learned about it, nothing had been concluded on the details of how he died and all I could think about was the fact that he was gone. One of the first thoughts I had when I learned that Chris had died was that he would now be reunited with Andrew Wood, Layne Staley, Kurt Kobain, Scott Weiland, Mike Starr, Shannon Hoon, and others.

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From the left: Scott Weiland, Shannon Hoon, Andrew Wood, Kurt Kobain, Layne Staley, and Mike Starr in the front.

Later on that day it was confirmed that Chris had committed suicide. I think some of the thoughts that people have when losing someone to suicide might be like those posted on the image above. I’ve had some of them myself. I lost my stepmother to drugs when I was a teen. It wasn’t a suicide, but a death caused by carelessness. I was angry over her choices and wondered why she didn’t care to live. It wasn’t until I got older and thought about the pain that she endured on Earth from losing two young brothers and then her parents not long after that finally helped me accept it. She truly never got over their deaths. I was just angry, sad and bitter. I wanted her here and mourned her death probably more than anyone else.

I got to talking with people about Chris and an anonymous person mentioned to me that it was possible that he would not be accepted into heaven because he committed suicide. It’s always been my personal thought that when we die, our soul goes to Heaven. This anonymous person then proceeded to tell me that when people commit suicide they are committing an unforgivable sin and are lost from God forever. As if Chris’s death wasn’t hard enough, this caused me to sob even more.

I was shocked. Could I really be this ignorant about what the Bible says about suicide? I was raised Orthodox and have spent the majority of my life in one Church or another, but I couldn’t say for sure and had no way to refute the statement. I began to ponder about it and started roaming the internet. I was questioning in my head whether Chris was a Christian. It’s no surprise that many of his lyrics highlight a troubled soul and it’s possible that he was tormented with his own thoughts. I do wonder if maybe he was searching for his own answers as he was an open thinker. I then reminded myself of all the songs that helped me believe what was in his heart. Even though I read that he possibly considered himself agnostic, I go back to the songs that give me insight to his beliefs.


Audioslave – Like a Stone

Lyrics:

On a cobweb afternoon
In a room full of emptiness
By a freeway I confess
I was lost in the pages
Of a book full of death
Reading how we’ll die alone
And if we’re good, we’ll lay to rest
Anywhere we want to go
In your house I long to be
Room by room patiently
I’ll wait for you there
Like a stone
I’ll wait for you there
Alone
On my deathbed I will pray
To the gods and the angels
Like a pagan to anyone
Who will take me to heaven
To a place I recall
I was there so long ago
The sky was bruised
The wine was bled
And there you led me on
In your house I long to be
Room by room patiently
I’ll wait for you there
Like a stone
I’ll wait for you there
Alone
Alone
And on I read
Until the day was gone
And I sat in regret
Of all the things I’ve done
For all that I’ve blessed
And all that I’ve wronged
In dreams until my death
I will wander on
In your house I long to be
Room by room patiently
I’ll wait for you there
Like a stone
I’ll wait for you there
Alone
Alone
When I first heard this song it almost seemed as if Chris was speaking directly in this song. What do you think the song means? There are many different thoughts on it. 

Audioslave – I Am The Highway

Lyrics:
Pearls and swine bereft of me
Long and weary my road has been
I was lost in the cities
Alone in the hills
No sorrow or pity for leaving I feel
I am not your rolling wheels
I am the highway
I am not your carpet ride
I am the sky
Friends and liars don’t wait for me
I’ll get on all by myself
I put millions of miles
Under my heels
And still too close to you
I feel
I am not your rolling wheels
I am the highway
I am not your carpet ride
I am the sky
I am not your blowing wind
I am the lightning
I am not your autumn moon
I am the night
The night
I am not your rolling wheels
I am the highway
I am not your carpet ride
I am the sky
I am not your blowing wind
I am the lightning
I am not your autumn moon
I am the night
The night

When I listen to this song it makes me think of a person who is already gone, possibly in heaven, and doesn’t want to return. He’s now everything. What do you think? 

Continue reading “Chris Cornell: Thoughts on Suicide & Forgiveness”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book

Today for breakfast I made chocolate chunk banana nut bread. It’s not a healthy version or anything, but so delicious. It’s nice to have a treat once in a while. Here’s the recipe below if you’re interested in trying it. It turned out perfect!

I started by using a basic recipe that I love in my trusty All Recipes cookbook called “Banana Banana Bread.”

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The recipe above is delicious the way it is, but I modified the recipe today. Here’s what I did. The ingredients are all the same except for:

  • Instead of butter I substituted coconut oil
  • Added a Tablespoon of Raw Honey (optional)
  • 1 tsp of added vanilla extract
  • Added an extra 1/4 cup of flour
  • Added in roughly 3/4 cup nuts (walnuts & almonds)
  • Added in some Hershey’s chocolate chunks. Roughly 1 1/2 full size candy bars chopped up

It turned out very well. Here’s how I put it together:

Mash up the banana. I used my KitchenAid, but you can easily mash them with a fork or other utensil.

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Add in the vanilla, eggs, brown sugar, 1 TB Raw honey (optional), and coconut oil. Mix until combined. Then, add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

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Chop up the chocolate into chunks. Chop the nuts as well by using a processor or by hand. Here’s a tip from Martha Stewart- use two knives and it helps to keep the nuts stable, plus gets the job done faster. Thanks, Martha!

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Add in the nuts and chocolate chunks. Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book”

Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books

I really love reading wordless picture books, especially with children. Children love them and it really sparks their imagination while giving them a break from reading. Here are a few benefits to reading wordless picture books.

Some Benefits to reading Wordless Picture Books

  • helps the reader gain an understanding of story structure
  • develops new vocabulary
  • aids in creative writing expression
  • increases vocabulary skills
  • inspires storytelling
  • helps struggling readers gain confidence
  • helps teach sequencing and narration

In this post I will highlight five wordless picture books that we read this week. You can read my reviews for each one below.


Chalk by Bill Thomson

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Chalk by Bill Thomson is a story about three little girls out and about on a rainy day. They stumble upon a T-rex in a large paved area. The T-rex has a bag in his mouth and the children soon discover that the bag contains an assortment of colored chalk. They decide to draw pictures on the pavement and their drawn pictures begin to come alive! Each child creates their own art on the pavement until another little boy shows up. He decides to draw a gigantic T-rex. Follow along in the story to see if the children can figure out what to do with this giant creation!

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The book illustrations appear animated while the children have lifelike features. The illustrations have the characteristics of creation by digital computer equipment, but they’re not.  Bill Thomson used painting techniques and each illustration is created by hand, using acrylic paint and colored pencils.

stars


Hank Finds An Egg by Rebecca Dudley

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Hank is strolling along the forest floor when he comes upon a little white egg. He’s very curious and begins searching for where the egg came from. After finding that the egg’s home is high in a tree, he must get creative to return the egg to it’s nest. Will Hank succeed?

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I was thoroughly impressed with the illustrations. Each page is a diorama of handmade creations. Rebecca Dudley creates every single item with precise detail. This is one of my favorite wordless picture books this year.

stars


Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole

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Spot, the Cat, is about to embark on an outdoor adventure when he suddenly leaps out his apartment window and into the world. Each page takes the reader on a exploration of the city and Spot is located on each page if you only look. Follow Spot’s journey through a farmer’s market, across a bridge, through a park and beyond as he weaves through the city. Spot’s owner is worried. Will he ever return?

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This is very similar to a Look and Find book in that you have to search for Spot on each page. All the illustrations are black and white and Spot is somewhere new each time. Children will spend a little time finding him as some pages are more difficult than others with trick illustrations added in. It’s a great book for conversation and children love it. I think it’s great for parent-child reading.

stars


Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

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Flashlight by Lizi Boyd is a wordless picture book highlighting a journey through the dark. A child has his flashlight and will make new discoveries in the dark while camping in the forest. There’s a lot to discover in nature if you’ll only take the time to look.

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We enjoyed the dark illustrations with the hidden objects in the stream of the light beam. The boy finds all sorts of night-time creatures, plants, trees, insects and streams which offers insight to everything that’s going on in the dark of night. Children will learn that nighttime offers the opportunity to discover nocturnal creatures while getting a calm feel of nature. This is a perfect bedtime book.

4-stars Continue reading “Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books”

Lessons from Grandpa #1

My grandfather was a very prominent figure in my life as I was growing up. He was a teacher, school principal, and father to five children. Everyday I learned something from him whether it be something I should eat, something I should do, how I should act, or how I should think. He always had something interesting to say.

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Me and GP just before my baptism

My grandfather was a serious conservative. He lived by the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and if it is, just put some duct tape on it!” I’m not even joking. Have you seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and witnessed how Toula’s father would put Windex on everything? Well, that’s my grandfather, except with him it was simply, “Put some duct tape on it.”

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I remember one day he came home from the golf course and when he pulled up in the driveway, his car was missing the driver’s side mirror. I asked him what happened and he told me, “I think I sideswiped a truck.” I couldn’t believe it and I know that if he had that mirror in his hand, he’d be duct taping it back on.

Another repair was on his left boot. He had visited a doctor for hip pain and learned that one of his legs was longer than the other. He brainstormed about how he could fix the issue without having to wear a brace of some sort. He wound up making a platform for the bottom of his boot and duct taped it on. Voila! When the zipper broke on one of his other shoes, he taped that too. He would put duct tape on vacuum hoses, tools, shoes, furniture, and even books. He didn’t care what anyone thought either. When I was a kid I thought it was silly. Now that I’m older, I love that he was like that and wish that I could be more carefree about what people think.

The one duct taped object that I have from my grandfather is his Bible. He read his Bible every day. Once the binding started to break down, he fixed it so that he could use it for many years to come.  It’s a large print and fairly big Bible. Here’s a picture of it here with his tape repairs.

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Continue reading “Lessons from Grandpa #1”

The Summoned King by Dave Neuendorf

My Review:

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The Summoned King by Dave Neuendorf is a fantasy story about a 17 year old student named James, mostly referred to as Jim, who falls asleep in a library and wakes up in another world. He’s been chosen by Maynard the Wizard and is expected to be the new king of Kalymbria.

I truthfully enjoyed Jim’s character. What’s not to like about him? He’s smart, confident, considerate, and seems to be completely comfortable even though he’s been transplanted into another world, Kalymbria. Much of the story centers around James settling in as king, getting to know Julia-his soon to be wife, and devising a plan to fix Kalymbria. I enjoyed the interaction between James and Julia and found it interesting the way they expeditiously clicked. The book contains a little bit of everything including science and Christianity, although not too much for those not interested in those elements.

This is a very smooth and simple read that’s perfect for young adults. Even without an abundance of action, I thought it was wonderful and I actually admired that there wasn’t any explicit content which makes it perfect for younger readers. I believe the second book will have much more action especially with the conclusion of The Summoned King. I’ve heard that the second book is releasing soon and I’m looking forward to reading it.

I’d like to thank the author for granting me a complimentary copy of this book.

3.5 stars rounded up to 4****

4-stars Continue reading “The Summoned King by Dave Neuendorf”

A Tale Dark & Grimm (#1) by Adam Gidwitz

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My review

I have a thing for fairy tales, especially Hansel and Gretel. So when I saw A Tale Dark and Grimm at the library a few weeks ago, I couldn’t hesitate. I needed to read this book.

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Firstly, I thought the story was incredibly creative. It’s like the classic Hansel and Gretel  except in addition to the witch, they deal with many other scary beings and they move through different fairy tales. They decide they must choose their own fate and they’re trying to locate caretakers that aren’t dangerous and brutal toward them. In a nutshell, they’re trying to stay alive. In between certain tales and sections we have a narrator that lightens the mood and warns before something violent is about to happen. I liked that, but at times it was also distracting.

Secondly, is this seriously Juvenile Fiction for 3rd grade+? It seems way to gruesome for 3rd graders to be reading, but in a way the story is fairly simple which makes me have a love hate relationship with it as far as the reading level. I would put this into the 5-6th grade level, but not 3rd grade and that’s based solely on the content. The author is covering Grimm’s fairy tales here with added twists and I don’t necessarily feel that readers should be spared on the details, but maybe this should be listed for an older audience. It’s fairly sadistic at times. I’d say for younger readers it’s best to read with an adult.

Overall rating on this one is:

4-stars


Blurb

In this mischievous and utterly original debut, Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm-inspired tales. As readers follow the siblings through a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind (and beyond) the bread crumbs, edible houses, and outwitted witches.

Fairy tales have never been more irreverent or subversive as Hansel and Gretel learn to take charge of their destinies and become the clever architects of their own happily ever after.

Continue reading “A Tale Dark & Grimm (#1) by Adam Gidwitz”

The Dead Inside by Cyndy Drew Etler – Straight, Inc.

I picked up The Dead Inside from Netgalley a few months ago and it took me some time to get to it. I’m glad to have read it and you can see my review below. To see the Q&A with Cyndy Etler, please click HERE.

The Dead Inside by Cyndy Drew Etler

My review

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This review may contain some spoilers…

The Dead Inside is a compelling memoir written by the author Cyndy Drew Etler. Cyndy was a troubled teen in the 80’s who had some experiences that aren’t all that uncommon. She was making wrong choices while trying to find her place in the world. She spends some of her time smoking weed and drinking alcohol with her friends, until she finally runs away from home because she just can’t take her family anymore, especially her step-dad, Jacque. There were things going on in that house that no child should ever have to succumb to. After making the decision to enter Foster Care, Cyndy finally has some peace. She’s able to still see her friends, have a safe environment and doesn’t have to deal with the turmoil from home. It’s not long after that, at the age of 14, her mother decides to throw her into a drug rehabilitation for throwaway kids who are deemed out of control. Cyndy is told that she is under evaluation for three days and she’s counting down the minutes to when she can leave and she’ll do whatever it takes, including lying. Straight, Inc. will now be Cyndy’s home for 16 months.

The story itself is unbelievable. I had a very hard time reading parts of the book that describe the physical and mental abuse these kids are exposed to in this program. They are basically in this building with a load of other drug users who have been sent there for the same reason and are used against each other. I can’t believe that it went on for so long and these kids had to endure it. They were locked down and not allowed to have any interaction with the outside world for a very long time. It’s violent and almost seems like torture at times. As I continued reading, I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen to Cyndy. Would she ever escape? Will her mother ever realize her and her husband are the majority of the problems here? Will Cyndy be able to endure this treatment without losing it and causing herself to be set back?

The book is written very well and it doesn’t sound like there are many details spared. I did wonder throughout the story just exactly how bad was Cyndy as a teen? It seemed like all of her problems were stemming from her treatment at home and the lack of love from her mother. I was very happy that there was an epilogue included in the back which explains these programs and how they were eventually shut down, but at the same time shocked at how, in a way, they worked. The kids were basically brainwashed.

This is not an easy read or for the faint of heart. It’s extremely revealing, raw and horrifying at times and I wanted to get up and do something about it. I wanted to help Cyndy. It’s no surprise that she ended up in the career she has chosen and I commend her for her bravery in taking a very negative human experience and turning it into a lifetime career in helping others.

Thanks to Netgalley and the author for sharing this book with me in exchange for an honest review.

4-stars


Blurb

For readers of Girl Interrupted and Tweak, Cyndy Etler’s gripping memoir gives readers a glimpse into the harrowing reality of her sixteen months in the notorious “tough love” program the ACLU called “a concentration camp for throwaway kids.”

I never was a badass. Or a slut, a junkie, a stoner, like they told me I was. I was just a kid looking for something good, something that felt like love. I was a wannabe in a Levi’s jean jacket. Anybody could see that. Except my mother. And the professionals at Straight.

From the outside, Straight Inc. was a drug rehab. But on the inside it was…well, it was something else.

All Cyndy wanted was to be loved and accepted. By age fourteen, she had escaped from her violent home, only to be reported as a runaway and sent to a “drug rehabilitation” facility that changed her world.

To the public, Straight Inc. was a place of recovery. But behind closed doors, the program used bizarre and intimidating methods to “treat” its patients. In her raw and fearless memoir, Cyndy Etler recounts her sixteen months in the living nightmare that Straight Inc. considered “healing.” Continue reading “The Dead Inside by Cyndy Drew Etler – Straight, Inc.”

This Week’s Children’s Book Favorites

This week I came across some great children’s books and can’t wait to share them with you. You can see all of my reviews below. If you want to add them on Goodreads, just click the cover.

The Bear Report

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This is such a cool book that teaches kids about polar bears in a fun way. It reminded me so much of The Polar Bear by Jenni Desmond.

Sophie has to do a book report on polar bears and all she can come up with is that they’re big, mean, and they eat things. After a visit with a real polar bear who takes her on a journey through its habitat, she learns much more.

The illustrations are amazing and the story is engaging and educational.

stars


The Secret Life of a Snowflake: An Up-Close Look at the Art and Science of Snowflakes

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The Secret Life of a Snowflake has to be one of the most beautiful children’s science books I’ve seen. The author, Dr. Kenneth Libbrecht, is a professor of physics and studies crystals. Not only does the book contain many photographs of Dr. Libbrecht’s snowflake finding’s, it also teaches facts about them. Many of these facts I never knew as an adult which makes this a book for everyone. Some of them include:

-Why is snow the color white?
-How are snowflakes made?
-Why are they all so different?
-Why do snowflakes all have 6 branches?

The author even covers the different states of water, clouds, the birth of a snowflake, and provides a pattern for cutting your own paper snowflake.

This is a wonderful book that would be perfect for applying in a science curriculum for kids. If you simply can’t wait to read this book, you can visit his website at www.snowcrystals.com. Here you will find countless photos of close-up snowflakes. Simply Amazing.

stars


Dormouse Dreams

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Dormouse Dreams is a children’s book about a little dormouse who is hibernating for the winter. There are so many things happening out in the snow. The fox will ski, the chickadees chitter, and the snow piles high, but the little dormouse is fast asleep. He dreams of adventures with his little dormouse friend, but will she ever arrive?

Fairly short sentences and an easy read makes this book perfect for younger readers. It works well as a read aloud book too. We loved the illustrations most.

4-stars Continue reading “This Week’s Children’s Book Favorites”

Special Saturday Smoothie! – Dreamscicle

After making this smoothie I have to share it with everyone. I know I already posted on Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book with a healthy Orange Julius style smoothie recipe, but this one is very close to an Orange Julius, in fact, the only fruit included is oranges. It’s still healthy, even without the greens…

The taste is similar to Orange Creamsicle. Have you guys had one of these before?

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They’re delicious. It’s an orange and vanilla flavored combination. Creamsicle = ice cream and Dreamsicle = ice milk.

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Playing around with different ingredients in your smoothies is so much fun. It’s hard to mess up a smoothie and you can add in pretty much whatever fruits you want. Maybe you might like this one?

Orange Dreamsicle Smoothie

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond milk (any milk works- *see note below)
  • 4-5 oranges – for a sweeter smoothie, remove the pith
  • Scant tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of Raw Honey (Use more or less depending on sweetness desired)
  • Stevia if needed
  • 1-2 cups of ice ( for a fuller flavored smoothie use less ice, or none at all. I always like mine cold, so I use ice)

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Pack the blender in the order given. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

With high speed blenders and even standard blenders it’s important to be sure that your ice is at the top with liquid at the bottom. This results in less use of the tamper stick.  Continue reading “Special Saturday Smoothie! – Dreamscicle”

Friday’s Cheap or FREE eBooks!

Hey everyone.  I thought I’d announce some FREE or cheap eBooks today. These are all on Amazon and highly rated 4**** or more. Maybe there are a few you’d like? Most of these are free. Only a few are .99 cents!

Just click the cover you’re interested in…

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51VmgCM8ZmL._SX260_.jpg   51ml2vt0AFL.jpg   51PzyKgidML.jpg Continue reading “Friday’s Cheap or FREE eBooks!”

The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

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My review

The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve is a novel of fiction that takes place around the disastrous fire that ravaged Maine’s coast in 1947. This is the first book I’ve read by this author. I listened to this on audible and enjoyed the narrator, Suzanne Elite Freeman.

May contain a mild spoiler…

The main character, Grace Holland, is suffering with a less than mediocre marriage with little to no attention from her husband, Gene. She enjoys her children, but really craves love and desire. A blazing fire heads toward the town and she must escape the area with her two children. All she has is her best friend as her husband Gene has left with the fire brigade to help control the fires.

As time moves on, Grace’s husband is still missing and she must make a new life to care for her kids. She moves into her mother-in-laws house and finds some belongings to help get her feet on the ground and enjoys a new found job. Her mom is there and other characters come into the story, including a new love, but the story still remains quite bland. I appreciated that Grace was making a new life and enjoying new freedoms, but there wasn’t enough going on to keep me interested. Even with the added twists, I found my mind wondering throughout the story.

It’s possible the main issue with the book for me were the characters. All of them were flat and never really developed which made the story uninteresting for me. I really wanted more development with Aiden and less information about Graces job with the doc.

It seems like a good story, but just wasn’t a fave and wound up in the okay range for me.
I do think the author writes very well and I’m still looking forward to reading some of her other books.

3-stars

Blurb

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER
From the New York Times best-selling author of The Weight of Water and The Pilot’s Wife (an Oprah’s Book Club selection): an exquisitely suspenseful new novel about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event and its devastating aftermath–based on the true story of the largest fire in Maine’s history
In October 1947, after a summer long drought, fires break out all along the Maine coast from Bar Harbor to Kittery and are soon racing out of control from town to village. Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her husband, Gene, joins the volunteer firefighters. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie’s two young children, Grace watches helplessly as their houses burn to the ground, the flames finally forcing them all into the ocean as a last resort. The women spend the night frantically protecting their children, and in the morning find their lives forever changed: homeless, penniless, awaiting news of their husbands’ fate, and left to face an uncertain future in a town that no longer exists. In the midst of this devastating loss, Grace discovers glorious new freedoms–joys and triumphs she could never have expected her narrow life with Gene could contain–and her spirit soars. And then the unthinkable happens–and Grace’s bravery is tested as never before.
Continue reading “The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve”

In Memory of Chris Cornell

I was shocked and saddened this morning to hear on the news that one of my favorite singers of all time, Chris Cornell, has passed away at the age of 52. One of the original architects that formed the grunge movement has been taken and has now joined other artists such as Andrew Wood, Layne Staley, Scott Weiland, Shannon Hoon, Kurt Kobain, and Mike Starr. It’s going to take me forever to get over this one…

This post may be a little choppy…

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Chris was the lead singer of Soundgarden, Audioslave and also Temple of the Dog, an album created in remembrance to Andrew Wood. He had a powerful and defining voice. Here’s a video of “Fell On Black Days.”

Lyrics

Whatsoever I’ve feared has come to life
Whatsoever I’ve fought off became my life
Just when everyday seemed to greet me with a smile
Sunspots have faded and now I’m doing time
Now I’m doing time
‘Cause I fell on black days
I fell on black days

Whomsoever I’ve cured, I’ve sickened now
And whomsoever I’ve cradled, I’ve put you down
I’m a search light soul they say
But I can’t see it in the night

I’m only faking when I get it right
When I get it right

‘Cause I fell on black days
I fell on black days

How would I know
That this could be my fate?
How would I know
That this could be my fate? Yeah

Uh, uh, uh
Uh, uh, uh
Uh, uh, uh

So what you wanted to see good
Has made you blind
And what you wanted to be yours
Has made it mine

Don’t you lock up something
That you wanted to see fly
Hands are for shaking
No, not tying, no, not tying

I sure don’t mind a change
I sure don’t mind a change
Yeah, I sure don’t mind, sure don’t mind a change
I sure don’t mind a change

‘Cause I fell on black days
I fell on black days

How would I know
That this could be my fate?
How would I know
That this could be my fate?

How would I know
That this could be my fate?
How would I know
That this could be my fate?

I sure don’t mind a change


Recently I read Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge , a book about the grunge movement. I learned a lot about Chris that I didn’t know in this book. You can read my original post HERE.

Also, my original post on Temple of the Dog is HERE.

and my recent music haul featuring Temple of the Dog is HERE.

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Here are two great songs…

Show Me How to Live by Audioslave

Lyrics
And with the early dawn
Moving right along
I couldn’t buy and eyeful of sleep
And in the aching night under satellites
I was not received
Built with stolen parts
A telephone in my heart
Someone get me a priest
To put my mind to bed
This ringing in my head
Is this a cure or is this a disease
Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me life
Now show me how to live
Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me life
Now show me how to live
And in the after birth
On the quiet earth
Let the stains remind you
You thought you made a man
You better think again
Before my role defines you
Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me life
Now show me how to live
Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me life
Now show me how to live
And in your waiting hands
I will land
And roll out of my skin
And in your final hours I will stand
Ready to begin
Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me life
Now show me how to live
Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me life
Now show me how to live
Show me how to live

Burden in My Hand by Soundgarden

Lyrics

Follow me into the desert
As thirsty as you are
Crack a smile and cut your mouth
And drown in alcohol
‘Cause down below the truth is lying
Beneath the riverbed
So quench yourself and drink the water
That flows below her head

Oh no there she goes
Out in the sunshine the sun is mine

I shot my love today would you cry for me
I lost my head again would you lie for me
I left her in the sand just a burden in my hand
I lost my head again would you cry for me

Close your eyes and bow your head
I need a little sympathy
‘Cause fear is strong and love’s for everyone
Who isn’t me
So kill your health and kill yourself
And kill everything you love
And if you live you can fall to pieces
And suffer with my ghost
Just a burden in my hand
Just an anchor on my heart
Just a tumor in my head
And I’m in the dark

So follow me into the desert
As desperate as you are
Where the moon is glued to a picture of heaven
And all the little pigs have God


The one song that always gets to me, every time I hear it. This is one of the first grunge songs that I learned on my guitar and I would play it repeatedly. This one has probably been posted on my blog three times. It’s my favorite ever and also features Eddie Vedder, singer of Pearl Jam.

Hungar Strike – Temple of the Dog

Lyrics
I don’t mind stealing bread
From the mouth of decadence
But I can’t feed on the powerless
When my cup’s already over-filled
But it’s on the table.
The fire’s cooking.
And they’re farming babies
While the slaves are all working.
Blood is on the table.
The mouths are choking
And I’m going hungry
I’m going hungry [Repeat: x3]

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Chris Cornell with Andrew Wood

Together again…

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Rest in peace, Chris. I’ll never forget you…

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Disaster Falls by Stéphane Gerson

I picked up Disaster Falls on Netgalley this past January. You can see my review below as well as some information about the author.

Blurb

29942511On a day like any other, on a rafting trip down Utah’s Green River, Stéphane Gerson’s eight-year-old son, Owen, drowned in a spot known as Disaster Falls. That same night, as darkness fell, Stéphane huddled in a tent with his wife, Alison, and their older son, Julian, trying to understand what seemed inconceivable. “It’s just the three of us now,” Alison said over the sounds of a light rain and, nearby, the rushing river. “We cannot do it alone. We have to stick together.”

Disaster Falls chronicles the aftermath of that day and their shared determination to stay true to Alison’s resolution. Gerson captures the different ways of grieving that threatened to isolate each of them in their post-Owen worlds and then, with beautiful specificity, shows how he and Alison preserved and reconfigured their marriage from within. Blending family history (including the “good death” of his father, which offers a very different perspective on mortality) and the natural history of the river, he provides an expansive, unflinching meditation on loss, our responsibilities toward our children, and the stories we tell ourselves in the wake of traumatic events.

Slowly, inexorably, Gerson writes his way back to Owen, straight to the singularity that cleaved his life into before and after, creating a portrait of grief iridescent in its fullness, and unexpectedly consoling.

My review

Disaster Falls is a tragic story about loss, grieving, and healing. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.

I found myself crying throughout the book and the story felt so real to me. Everything they endured can be felt as the words feel as though they’re just pouring out of him. As a parent, I think the emotions are so strong because you put yourself in their shoes, and glimpse the agony and terror they live with.

I almost wished the story was told in chronological order, but it makes sense in the end.

3.5*** 3-stars

Thanks to Netgalley and the author for a copy in exchange for an honest review.



Continue reading “Disaster Falls by Stéphane Gerson”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book

This morning’s breakfast is a simple smoothie called “The Green Monster.” This is similar to the Vita-mix version taste wise and you’ve probably sampled if you visit Costco during the demonstrations for Vita-mix blenders. It’s a very easy way to get your greens because spinach has such a mild flavor and paired with the oranges-you can’t even taste it.

One of my first jobs as a teen was working at an Orange Julius restaurant. I loved working there and enjoyed most of the smoothies on the menu. The standard Orange Julius was one of my favorites. This smoothie is similar depending on how much sweetness you add to it. Orange Julius uses processed sugar and powder compounds in their smoothies. This is a much healthier option using all fresh ingredients!

This Green Monster has a ton of orange flavor and makes about 4 servings. When replacing a meal, I usually drink close to 32 ounces.

Here’s the recipe:

1/2 cup almond milk

3 oranges peeled – Use only 2 oranges if you want it thicker

2 handfuls of spinach ( If you want to use kale, that’s fine too, but much stronger flavor)

Stevia to taste

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

At least 1 cup of ice

(an option is also to add in a frozen banana.)

Tips:

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The easiest way to prepare the oranges for the blender is to cut off both ends and use a sharp knife to cut along the outside of the orange leaving as much pith (white) as you can. You’ll lose the top pith, but there’s plenty on the sides.

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Why?

  • When you remove pith, you’re taking away 30% of the fiber.
  • It’s loaded with antioxidants (amazing cancer fighters.)
  • Vitamin C- by including the pith, you’ll double the vitamin C in the smoothie.

 

20170517_073219.jpg Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book”

Tea for Tuesday – Pukka

I love tea and especially like to drink it when I’m reading. I consider myself sort of a tea freak. Today’s tea is made by Pukka which is an organic tea company that I found a few years ago. So far I’ve loved all of their teas. My absolute favorite is called “Love.” In case you’re wondering how to pronounce Pukka in American English, it’s pronounced with a short u as in puck.

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Here’s some information about this tea from www.Pukkaherbs.com

A tea that embodies nature’s gift of FairWild flowers that will love you every step of the way. A tender touch of rose fills your heart. The soft embrace of chamomile and lavender soothe your soul. A tea made with love, dedicated to love and called Love.  How lovely is that? But drinking a cup of Love tea has more to it than just the blissful taste – find out the story behind this incredible tea by reading this article below.

One of the great things about Pukka Planet is its ability to tell some of the stories behind the teas. Even more so because we have many authors on this site and when a story is a little personal and the subject of that story a little bashful, we can go right ahead and tell it instead. 

Love tea, with it’s beautiful pink and gold design and intoxicating but delicate blend of organic rose, chamomile, elderflower and lavender also carries with it a story of love.

You might think that Sebastian shuts himself away in some laboratory – forever testing and boiling in a sea of scientific instruments. Well he does do a little of that. But much of the time he spends in his incredible herb garden and his kitchen. Trying out different herbal blends until he finds exactly the right combination. It’s why every Pukka tea is indeed made with love. But the Love tea? That’s a slightly different matter.

Because Sebastian made it specifically as a gift to win over his lovely partner, now wife, Suze Pole. So it is a tea, made with love, dedicated to love and called Love. How lovely is that?

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Why I love this tea:

  • It’s organic
  • I love the herb mix which tastes amazing
  • It’s calming, but doesn’t make me tired
  • It’s caffeine free
  • It’s Healthy!

Continue reading “Tea for Tuesday – Pukka”

Carol Buckley’s Elephant Stories

I few months ago I read a book about Tarra the elephant and the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. I recently read two more books by Carol Buckley and one of them covers Tarra’s life before she was sent to the Elephant Sanctuary. The other discusses a different elephant’s journey. You can see my reviews for both books below. If you’d like to see the original post on Tarra and Bella, you can click HERE.

Travels with Tarra by Carol Buckley:

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My review

Carol Buckley is the founder of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. In this book she talks about Tarra, the Asian elephant who was brought to America in 1974. Tarra was purchased to live at a tire store and the owner specifically purchased her in hope of increased sales. It was sad reading just the first page of this book because you start to realize the horror of a baby elephant being torn away from its mother in the wild and the loss of security that Tarra will now experience.

The story takes us through Tarra’s journey and how Carol Buckley meets her for the very first time. She instantly had an interest in Tarra and became a permanent fixture in Tarra’s cage. Carol began studying her and wanted to know everything about her. Children will learn about how Tarra learned how to skate, how Carol begins training her, and how she becomes part of the circus making her famous. Readers will also learn about Tarra’s relationships that she had with other elephants and dogs before her arrival at the Elephant Sanctuary.

The photography in this book is amazing and insightful. I learned so much more about Tarra that I never knew before. She had many  experiences and relationships in her life.  I would recommend this book to anyone who has a love for elephants or just want to know more about Tarra.

This book does have a series of links and information for classroom use.

stars

Here’s a video of Tarra at the Elephant Sanctuary. She can really make some different sounds!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsHz2v2Bi9U Continue reading “Carol Buckley’s Elephant Stories”

The Policewoman by Justin W.M. Roberts

The Policewoman by Justin W.M. Roberts

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My review

This rating was updated December 15th due to the new revision.

Warning: This review may contain spoilers…

The Policewoman by Justin W.M. Roberts is a thrilling story taking place in 2026 about an Indonesian policewoman who transfers temporarily into a special forces/Interpol team to investigate and take down an Irish drug cartel. This cartel has managed to set up narcotics manufacturing in multiple places including Indonesia, Ireland and England. The drug cartel’s core consists of ex-soldiers from the British Army and they’ll do whatever they want in order to prevail. The author certainly doesn’t spare on the brutal details.

The book starts out with Sarah and her family. The reader gets a pretty good feel that she comes from a good family and has a strong relationship with her little sister, Cindy, and her brother, Tony, who works a similar job. She’s transferring to a new team and much of the beginning covers the relationships she’s building with her new teammates, mainly Michael. I have to say that I absolutely loved the chemistry between Sarah and Michael. I admired that the author managed to incorporate some romance into all the military/police drama going on here. I also appreciated the description of all the added training Sarah must undergo and the way they all have to watch their backs and each other. You get a strong sense of the importance of ‘team’ which I love.

There’s a ton of action in this story! I haven’t read a book this active since Dark Matter. I was a bit overwhelmed with the amount of characters, acronyms, special teams, regiments, squadrons, company’s and weaponry, but you don’t really need to concern yourself with all of them in order to enjoy the story and follow along without getting lost. The glossary in the back has a list of all of them that you can easily flip to if need be.

The character development was spot-on for me. It really helped that the author used real life actors, actresses, and singers to describe some of the main characters to help the reader get a visual of what they look like. I enjoyed the majority of the good characters while hating the bad ones. I literally wanted Niall to burn for what he had done to people, but the revenge wasn’t as strong as I expected when it came time for him. I also had a few issues with Sarah’s character. What’s not to like about Sarah, really? She’s beautiful, intelligent, strong, and pretty much bad-to-the-bone. What almost spoiled that for me was the fact that she knew she was and practically every male in the story is doting over her which seemed a little extreme. It made her character feel a little unrelatable at times. A few times in the story I wasn’t pleased with the way Sarah treated Michael in regards to his looks. As the story moves along, Sarah’s character becomes better understood and you start to realize just how much she genuinely loves Michael.

Conclusion: The ending didn’t totally please me, but I didn’t hate it either. Overall, it was written amazingly well with a few unexpected twists and turns. The detail and extensive military knowledge the author has is incredible and the dialogue is impeccable. This isn’t a genre that I normally rush to pick up, but I enjoyed it as the author included a little bit of everything here. Anyone who enjoy’s military/police crime books will undoubtedly LOVE this book and I can see this story turned into a movie or even a TV series. If that were the case, I’d love to see Michelle Rodriguez play Sarah as I think she fits the personality, but maybe not the looks described.

If there’s another book, I’m reading it! 5*****

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Continue reading “The Policewoman by Justin W.M. Roberts”

The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth

The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth

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My review

This review may contain spoilers…

I discovered this book on Audible and had a free credit, so I added it. This is the first book I’ve read by Sally Hepworth. I normally like books like this as they sort of remind me of Lifetime movies. I knew it was going to be an emotional ride after reading the blurb.

The book starts out with Alice, a mom of a teenage daughter named Zoe. Zoe has social anxiety disorder and up until this moment it’s pretty much been her and her mom-No dad involved. There’s no other family besides Alice’s alcoholic brother, Paul, who hasn’t even been in their lives. Alice now learns that she has stage 3 ovarian cancer and is being told by her doctor that she’s going to need some help getting through this. At this point, I was hooked into the story. I couldn’t help but be pulled into it. As a mom and coming from a family full of cancer, this is a nightmare. It’s something I can’t imagine having to go through. Of course the first thought in your mind is, “Who is going to care for my child?” With Alice, her first thought was, “How is Zoe going to handle this?”

As denial kicks in, Alice moves forward with her surgery and the story moves on to the other characters including Kate, Alice’s nurse, and Sonya the hospital social worker. At first I didn’t like Sonya’s character and wasn’t happy with what she was doing with her own life and the controls she was putting on Zoe, but it gets better as the story moves on. With Alice’s condition including Zoe’s extreme anxiety issues, Kate and Sonya are all they have to help. It’s certain that somehow or in some way these characters are going to come together.

I was happy with the few twists the author put in, one that was completely unexpected but didn’t really amount to much with Zoe’s dad. It still added depth to the story.

I managed to make it through the majority of the story without bawling my eyes out. I’m pretty sure I was spared from about 75% of the emotion in the book because I listened to the audio rather than read the book. The narrator, Barrie Kreinik, was amazing and she did a wonderful job toggling between character voices.

Overall, I’m going to rate it 4****. I felt like the ending came fairly quickly and I was hoping the author would’ve elaborated on the characters live’s into the future, especially Zoe. This is certainly a heart-wrenching story about love, courage, and the strength it takes to overcome our worst fears.

4-stars Continue reading “The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth”

FREE Personality Test

A while back my friend Stephan on Goodreads brought his personality type to my attention. He has a rare personality type and I wanted to know more about what mine would be. I had never done one of these more specific tests and was fairly shocked at my results. It turns out that my personality is not very common (making up only 3% of the population) and after doing this test I understand a little more about myself and the way I am with people and life in general. You can do the test yourself here:

www.16personalities.com

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It’s a series of 50+ multiple choice questions. You have to answer honestly in order to get your accurate personality type. I did a test on another website which gave me similar results, but this website here seems to get more in depth. It’s free to find your type, but to get in depth advice on navigating through life with your personality, you have to upgrade to a premium profile. I haven’t done that and don’t intend to. The information given is enough to help you understand why you are the way you are and I found it very helpful. It’s interesting!

Once you complete the test you’ll get this information:

I’m sharing some of my results below…Keep in mind, you get way more information than this. This is just my introduction that discusses my personality type.


LOGICIAN PERSONALITY (INTP, -A/-T)

(Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, Perceiving) -T=Turbulent

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.

Albert Einstein

The Logician personality type is fairly rare, making up only three percent of the population, which is definitely a good thing for them, as there’s nothing they’d be more unhappy about than being “common”. Logicians pride themselves on their inventiveness and creativity, their unique perspective and vigorous intellect. Usually known as the philosopher, the architect, or the dreamy professor, Logicians have been responsible for many scientific discoveries throughout history.

The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living

Logicians are known for their brilliant theories and unrelenting logic – in fact, they are considered the most logically precise of all the personality types.

They love patterns, and spotting discrepancies between statements could almost be described as a hobby, making it a bad idea to lie to a Logician. This makes it ironic that Logicians’ word should always be taken with a grain of salt – it’s not that they are dishonest, but people with the Logician personality type tend to share thoughts that are not fully developed, using others as a sounding board for ideas and theories in a debate against themselves rather than as actual conversation partners.

This may make them appear unreliable, but in reality no one is more enthusiastic and capable of spotting a problem, drilling through the endless factors and details that encompass the issue and developing a unique and viable solution than Logicians – just don’t expect punctual progress reports. People who share the Logician personality type aren’t interested in practical, day-to-day activities and maintenance, but when they find an environment where their creative genius and potential can be expressed, there is no limit to the time and energy Logicians will expend in developing an insightful and unbiased solution.

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Wisdom Begins in Wonder

Continue reading “FREE Personality Test”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book

Today’s breakfast was simple and comparable to last week’s Breakfast and a Book in that I had strawberries again. :/ It’s common for me to have strawberries on Wednesdays because I pick up my local organic produce boxes on Tuesdays. I’ll try to make it more interesting next week, but today I do have a smoothie recipe for you!

Did you ever have those ice cream pops when you were a kid that tasted like pudding, but were a mix of chocolate and banana? They’re like these:

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Well that’s what this smoothie tastes like. It’s also a fairly healthy smoothie! You can either drink this smoothie, or you can freeze it into popsicle molds for summer. They are so good. We like these silicone type molds here on Amazon. Kids love these and in turn you can feel good that you’re giving them something healthy!

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Ingredients in this order:

1 cup almond milk (or 3/4 cup water and a handful of almonds)

5 bananas – preferably frozen but NOT required (line them up on a cookie sheet and freeze for 8 hours, then put them into a plastic bag)

2 heaping Tablespoons of cocoa powder

Stevia to taste

A large handful of ice (if you’re using frozen bananas, you don’t need much ice at all.)

Optional – If you have Blend it Up powder, a scoop of it is great in this smoothie. You can find it here or at Costco – https://www.blenditup.com/ It’s expensive, but worth every penny…

Load it all in the blender in this order… If using a Vitamix as pictured start on low and gradually move to the highest power and blend until smooth.

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I don’t like it super sweet so I normally use 2 packets of stevia. This recipe makes enough for roughly 4 people.

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I love my Vitamix and use it for so many recipes, even soup. If you want to get into smoothies I highly recommend the Vitamix or Blentec blender. I’ve had many blenders and the Vitamix is NUMBER 1 hands down. I know what’s good for one person isn’t necessarily good for another, but that DOESN’T apply here. Get a Vitamix! I’ll have a post soon on smoothies and equipment that I use.

20170510_085529.jpg Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book”

Reading and Reviewing Complimentary Copies from Authors

I’ve been thinking a lot here lately about reviewing books that are gifted from authors. When I started blogging and reviewing on Goodreads, I started getting a good amount of free copies of books from authors. Not only that, I read for Netgalley, and I’m consistently reviewing books that were gifted in one way or another.

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I noticed last year on Amazon that reviews were being removed if they had any mention of a book or product being given in exchange for a review. You can read about it here.

Many times on Goodreads you will see this on book reviews,

“Thank you to Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.” 

-or something like what I use-

“I’d like to thank the author for sharing a complimentary copy of this book with me.” 

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So, my question today is simple. Is adding a “Thanks” to the author and stating that you got a book for free a negative thing to do on a book review and do you think that it makes the review seem less legit? 

Some people will say “yes” and tell you that it looks bad because in their mind they are thinking that somehow it’s skewed the review into the more positive range. Other people say that it’s a requirement – that you should always thank the author or publisher and be courteous.

I’ve noticed recently that when an author reads another author’s book, they don’t commonly thank the author at all. Could it be that they feel this looks bad? Is that why they don’t include that information on their review?

What are your thoughts on this? Please feel free to comment below…

Continue reading “Reading and Reviewing Complimentary Copies from Authors”