Book Review: We Can’t Be Friends: A True Story by Cyndy Drew Etler #BookReview #AuthorInterview #NGEW2018

We Can’t Be Friends: A True Story

by Cyndy Drew Etler

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From Goodreads:

For the readers of GO ASK ALICE, TWEAK, and DEAR NOBODY, Etler details her turbulent readjustment to life at home and high school after spending sixteen months in Straight, Inc. Advertised as a rehab program for troubled teens, in reality, Straight subjected Cyndy and her fellow Straightlings to cultlike brainwashing and bizarre “treatment” methods. Continue reading “Book Review: We Can’t Be Friends: A True Story by Cyndy Drew Etler #BookReview #AuthorInterview #NGEW2018”

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A. McLellan | Book Review | Author Interview | Signed Giveaway Including a $25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card! #HistFic #BookReview #Giveaway #Fiction

HiIn the Shadow of the Hanging Tree

by Michael A. McLellan

From Goodreads:

In 1865 a shadow hovers over the nation: the shadow lingers still…

Born into slavery, Henry’s young life is spent working in tobacco drying sheds on Missouri plantations. Freed at the onset of the Civil War, he’s alone, starving, and on the run from Confederate militiamen.

Five years later, Clara Hanfield, the daughter of a powerful New York shipping magnate, escapes her tyrannical father and travels west in pursuit of John Elliot, the man she loves. John, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was sent to the Dakota Territory where he discovers a government conspiracy to incite an all-out war with the Indians; a war meant to finally eliminate them as an obstacle to the westward expansion.

Henry finds himself caught in the middle.

Aided by Clara, John, and his native ally, Standing Elk, Henry must battle hatred, greed, and the ghosts of his past during this turbulent and troubling time in American history.

Continue reading “In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A. McLellan | Book Review | Author Interview | Signed Giveaway Including a $25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card! #HistFic #BookReview #Giveaway #Fiction”

N. N. Light’s Book of Daily Inspiration – Book Review and Author Interview + Giveaway!

I had the pleasure of reading N.N. Light’s new book N. N. Light’s Book of Daily Inspiration recently. You can read my thoughts on the book and see an interview with the authors below.

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N. N. Light’s Book of Daily Inspiration

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Blurb: “Spread the Light and inspire others to do the same.” — N. N. Light

In 2013, we wrote a mission statement and started the Princess of the Light (POTL) blog. We wanted to test a theory. Could one person (or in our case, one couple) use uplifting words to create change?

The answer is a resounding yes! People from all over the world responded to our short inspirational thoughts of the day, and our following grew. What started out as a few people promoting kindness and goodwill turned into a movement. In every city, there are Light-Bearers making a difference and we want you to join us.

Everyone needs inspiration. It doesn’t matter what spiritual belief you hold dear, you have the Light inside you. Kindness, compassion, empathy, encouragement are all attributes of the Light. In this book, you’ll find a ninety second inspirational thought for each day of the year. You’ll be inspiring people to spread the Light daily with our collection of inspirational thoughts. From giving of yourself to simply smiling, these are easy concepts for anyone to apply!

My Thoughts:

I already follow the authors’ blog Princess of the Light and enjoy the inspirational messages they have to share, so picking up this book to read was a no-brainer. I actually read this book along with another book I’m still reading titled, Think Forward to Thrive and it was a perfect combination. Both books are enlightening and have helped me realize that I have more work to do in my life. It’s far too easy to let the negative thoughts creep in and what I learned is that you are the one who’s in control of how things effect you. You don’t have to waste time with negative thoughts unless you choose to. You don’t have to accept what others say to you as truth. Choose to be happy and seek the truth. You can do anything you put your mind to! Also, why wait for Thanksgiving to have gratitude? Have it every single day! These are the positive messages I want to concentrate on in 2018.

This book essentially reminds me of an inspirational calendar I once had, but it’s so much more. Each daily quote is written along with an experience or story from the authors’ life journeys and I was astonished with how many of the stories applied to myself as if this was my own personal guide. Some of my favorite parts in the book referenced the author’s grandfather which prompted me to think of my own grandfather and the lessons he taught me in life. The inspirational quotes can be a tool to help all people live their best lives in 2018 and beyond. I plan to reread this throughout the year for daily inspiration myself.

Something I plan to do every morning when I wake up this year is to think of something I’m grateful for, whether it be the healthy food I have to eat or the hot shower I take for granite. There are so many things to be thankful for in life and I want to remind myself and my family of these everyday.

Overall, I loved it and I’d recommend it to anyone. Of course, we can all use a little inspiration!

5*****


Find this book on Goodreads and Amazon:

  • Paperback: 546 pages
  • Publisher: Independently published (October 31, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1973171589
  • ISBN-13: 978-1973171584

Author Interview with N.N. Light

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Q: Can you tell readers something interesting about yourself?

A: We’re a husband-wife writing team and we’re huge sports fans. We’ve been big NFL fans since 1985 and we cheer for rival teams. Mr. N roots for the Chicago Bears and Mrs. N is a huge Minnesota Vikings fan. Our teams face each other twice a year and we can get quite competitive. We’ve been known to place a few fun side bets on the game. No money exchanges hands but there’s stakes on the line. *wink*

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Q: Did you enjoy reading as a child? What are some of your childhood favorites?

A: Yes, we were voracious readers as children. While Mr. N was all about adventure, horror and war battles, Mrs. N devoured any fantasy book she could get her hands on. Growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s, we read a lot in school and lived at the library. Books were an escape and still are.

Here are some of Mrs. N’s favorites:

George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater and Florence Atwater

 

Q: Do you enjoy reading now? Who are some of your favorite authors?

A: Yes, books are a huge part of our lives and the focus of our business. We’re literary matchmaker; we couple up readers with outstanding books. We read a variety of genres and have a hard time picking our favorite authors.

 

Q: What have you written so far?

A: N.N. Light’s Book of Daily Inspiration is our fifth published work. We’ve written contemporary romance, young adult paranormal, paranormal romance and love poetry. We don’t write in just one genre but write stories that are meant to inspire and uplift.

 

Q: Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer?

A: Mr. N is a retired chef and is a numismatist for one of the largest coin dealers in Canada. His primary duties include appraising and grading historical coins from around the world.

Mrs. N, after being in the book business for more than twenty years, switched careers and is a social media marketer by trade.

Together, we own and operate a very successful family-run PR firm specializing in books and authors.

 

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A: We love the freedom in expressing our thoughts and our characters’ personal stories in book form for anyone to read.

 

Q: How do you publish and market your books?

A: We self-publish and are proud to do so. It allows us to have complete artistic control, which is stressful sometimes, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We hire professionals for editing, formatting and book cover design but we get the final say on what the end product becomes.

As for marketing, we do the same things we do for our clients. We create buzz and get our name out there. We have a solid reach and our followers love what we write.

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Q: Do you have any advice for others on publishing and marketing?

A: It’s tough being an author and publishing books. It takes a lot of hard work and patience. Yes, patience. Success doesn’t happen overnight, contrary to popular belief. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

Publishing Tip – Make sure the book you publish is as perfect as you can make it. It’s your one chance to grab a reader and if it’s riddled with mistakes and/or has a cheap-looking cover, they’ll never come back. Stake your reputation on everything you publish, and you’ll be fine.

Marketing Tip – Be consistent. Whether it’s on social media or your blog, keep at it. Studies show that a customer needs to see an advertisement eight times before it registers in their brain they need to have it. Why do you think there’s so many fast food commercials on television? They’ve embraced this idea and you should too. Remember, be creative in your advertisements and you’ll get noticed.

 

Q: How much research did you do for this book and how long did it take you to write it?

A: This book was four years in the making. Back in 2013, Mrs. N started writing inspirational thoughts. We never imagined how it would take off and last year, we decided to publish a year’s worth of motivation. So, we combed through all the thoughts and chose only the best ones for this book. The compiling itself took six months, the editing another three months and here it is.

 

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Q: If you could give your readers one piece of inspirational advice about life, what would it be?

A: Spread the Light. Each of us, no matter what we believe, have the Light inside us. We’re all bearers of the Light and have the potential to make a difference. Through kindness, love, understanding and exuding positivity, we can inspire others to do the same.

 

Q: How do you feel about e-books?

A: I used to hate them. I love the feel and even the smell of books, but I need e-books to run our business, so I’ve accepted them.

 

Q: Do you have a favorite quote?

…Writing is something that you can never do as well as it can be done. It is a perpetual challenge and it is more difficult than anything else that I have ever done—so I do it. And it makes me happy when I do it well.”
― Ernest Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway on Writing

Continue reading “N. N. Light’s Book of Daily Inspiration – Book Review and Author Interview + Giveaway!”

Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy – Book Review & Author Interview!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again! We are reading all of our favorite Christmas books and introducing some new ones as well. We had the pleasure of reading Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy over the last few days and I have our official review for you and an interview with the author as well!

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Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy

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Blurb:

Ronaldo is the top flying cadet at the prestigious Reindeer Flying Academy. He dreams of getting his flying license, just like his hero, Vixen.
In this first exciting chapter in the ‘Ronaldo’ series, our hero is faced with his toughest flying test ever – The Endurance Challenge!
Can Ronaldo triumph over mean bully, Dasher, and win the ‘Golden Wings’ medal? Spurred on by Rudi, his quirky, loyal best friend and with a belly full of his favourite carrot pancakes, Ronaldo takes on the challenge of his life!

My Thoughts:

This is the first book of three in the ‘Reindeer flying Academy’ series. I read this with my children in one sitting and we all enjoyed it very much.

Ronaldo is a reindeer who dreams of being just like his hero Vixen–part of the North Pole Reindeer Team. Only the best reindeer will be chosen by Santa for the team. When it comes time for the Endurance Challenge during Saturday’s Flying School, Ronaldo dreams to win. He remembers his grandad’s advice,

“Don’t just think it! Imagine! See it, feel it, believe it!”

Will Ronaldo win the challenge and receive the Golden Wings?

Ronaldo has strong family support and a best friend named Rudi who became one of four favorite characters. Everyone could use a friend like Rudi! Ronaldo is nearly reluctant to heed his families advice at times, but may learn that they’re smarter than he thinks!

I thought this book was very inspiring and appreciated all the important lessons that influence young readers about standing up for yourself, trusting your loved ones, following your dreams, and believing in yourself. The story is well written, cute, and comical. The illustrations are perfect and offer breaks in the reading. When paired with the short chapters, this makes it an easy read for early chapter book readers.

Overall, I personally found this to be an encouraging book for all ages that my children adored. We’re looking forward to reading the other two books including the full-color illustrated edition. 4****

4-stars

 


 

  • Print Length: 109 pages
  • Publisher: Maxine Sylvester; 1 edition (December 16, 2015)
  • Publication Date: December 16, 2015
  • Ages: 5-10
  • Grades: 2-5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read this book for free!


 

Author Interview with Maxine Sylvester

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Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

A: I wrote my first book in the Ronaldo series, The Reindeer Flying Academy, three years ago. I followed up with The Phantom Carrot Snatcher one year later, and self-published Rudi’s Birthday Extravaganza a few months ago. Some reviewers for the first book commented that they would have preferred colour illustrations. I liked the suggestion so recently published a second edition of The Reindeer Flying Academy in glorious colour. I think children will love the colour illustrations. The book is a perfect Christmas read.

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Q: What made you decide to write children’s books?

A: I’m still a child myself! I get as excited as a five-year-old every time a new Disney film comes out. My illustrations are inspired by animation. My niece says I am in touch with my inner child. I think it’s an advantage as I naturally write for children.

Q: What are some of your favorite childhood books? (or one favorite)

A: My first reading books were Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne, and Paddington by Michael Bond. As I grew up I read anything by Enid Blyton, The Famous Five and Secret Seven books. I also loved The Railway Children by E. Nesbitt.

Q: What influenced you to write Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy, and are any of your books influenced by your childhood?

A: I have to admit, I stole an idea from A.A. Milne! He wrote about the toys in Christopher Robin’s playroom. I wanted a reason to illustrate so decided to write a short story. I looked around my bedroom, and my favourite toy was a plush reindeer. I took it from there. Some incidents in the book were inspired by my childhood. Ronaldo has a different name to all the other reindeer and gets teased because of it. I was teased about my name. He also has to wear a hideous hat. I had one of those as well. Furry and with pom poms!

Q: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

A: I have written three Ronaldo adventures, but there are four books. Two editions of The Reindeer Flying Academy are available, one has colour illustrations, the other has black and white.

I think my favourite book is the last one, Rudi’s Birthday Extravaganza. The characters are well-developed now, and I had a lot of fun with them. The book still makes me laugh even though I know what’s going to happen. I also have a soft spot for the ending of The Reindeer Flying Academy.

Q: What do you think makes a great children’s book?

A: I think values should be in there, but it’s important not to preach. Children are smart; you never want to talk down to them. I try to get a message across in a fun way. Ronaldo is a good role model for children. He’s kind, conscientious and brave, but never boring. He also has to overcome adversity and I think it’s good for children to see how he handles things. Needless to say, the stories need to be entertaining with lots of laughs and fun illustrations. The Ronaldo books have heart and I hope that children feel they are picking up a friend in a Ronaldo book. You never know what is going on in a child’s life, and books can provide comfort and inspiration.

Q: Do you create all of your own illustrations?

A: Yes, they take longer than the actual writing of the story. I trained in “cartoon art’ and was mentored by British cartoonist/, caricaturist, Steve Chadburn. I did further studies in children’s book illustration with talented artist/illustrator, Jan Nesbitt.

Q: What’s the publishing process been like for you and how do you market your books?

A: As a self-published author on Amazon, it was quite easy; especially as my partner Mark does most of the technical stuff! I am hopeless. He say’s Facebook and Twitter are great tools for reaching people. We have had varying success with promotions. A lot of it is trial and error, seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Q: Do you like to read a lot? If so, who are some of your favorite authors and are there any that heavily influence your writing?

A: I read every night before going to sleep. I read all sorts! I’ve read all of Sidney Sheldon’s books and most of Lee Childs, Jack Reacher series. If ever I feel anxious or wracked with self-doubt, I read Dr. Wayne Dyer. His gentle words always encourage me. I think he’s a must for anyone in this industry!

I loved the Harry Potter books; they were like picking up old friends. I have so much respect for J.K. Rowling. The whole world waited with baited breath for her books and she never disappointed.

I am a total Disney geek and have just finished a book on Walt Disney. What a visionary! Walt Disney has always been my biggest inspiration. I think my stories come from a lifetime of watching Disney movies.

Q: Are you working on anything now and do you have any future projects planned?

A: I have just started writing the fourth book in the Ronaldo series – The Vixen Pederson Workshop. It will be ready by Christmas 2018.

Q: Can we expect more books in this children’s series?

A: Absolutely. I find as one book evolves, ideas for another book come to the surface. Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is limitless!”

I’d like to thank Maxine Sylvester for participating in this interview.

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Continue reading “Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy – Book Review & Author Interview!”

Meet The Reader Series with Mrs. N (N.N. Light)

Hello everyone!

I have a new reader to share with you today. Mrs. N is a friend from Goodreads and a blogging friend that I’ve gotten to know this year.

I’m sorry that I’ve been a little behind on posting this series lately, but my schedule hasn’t been going as planned. I hope you enjoy!

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I’m always looking for friends on Goodreads that have similar tastes. I like learning about new books and discussing them with others, so I decided to experiment with a new idea and thought it would be neat to find readers that I’m friends with on Goodreads and share them with you. Maybe they might be someone you’d like to add too. As I find readers with an interest, I’ll introduce them.


 

Meet the Reader Series

Today’s Featured Reader:

Mrs. N

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Q: Did you enjoy reading as a child? If so, what were some of your favorite books?

A: I loved reading as a child. It started when my parents read to me. Their own love of reading got me excited to read. Every Saturday, I’d go with my mum to the library and we’d spend most of the day reading, discovering new books and checking out as many books as we could carry out to the car. As I grew older, books taught me about life, love, kindness and great adventures.

I have so many books I loved as a child, it’s hard for me to choose. I’ll do a random variety: Encyclopedia Brown Mysteries by Donald Sobol, The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, The Shoe series (Ballet Shoes, Theatre Shoes, Dancing Shoes) by Noel Streatfeild, Anything by Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss.

 

Q: What are some of your favorite books this year or last?

A: I have the extreme pleasure to read books for a living and as such, get to read some incredible books. To garner the status of favorite book of the year, the story, characters and setting have to be so incredible that I cry when it’s over. Three books this year (so far) have that coveted status. They are:

Only a Hero Will Do (The Heart of a Hero Book 1) by Alanna Lucas

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The Life and Times of Ichabod Brooks by Charles E. Yallowitz

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Rule #1 Don’t Be #2 by Daniel Milstein

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All captured my heart in their own way and I highly recommend them.

Q: What are your favorite book genres?

A: Ugh! I really hate this question. I’m a voracious reader and my tastes vary from children’s books to mystery to romance to nonfiction to even erotic romance. My library consists of a lot of romance (all sub-genres), fantasy, mystery, suspense, biographies, sports and motivational books. If I could only choose one genre to read for the rest of my life, I guess I’d choose paranormal romance. I’m a huge romantic at heart and love a happy ending, especially with a little magic thrown in.

Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?

A: Mary Higgins Clark, Jude Deveraux, Jacquie Biggar, Erin R Bedford, Ruth A. Casie, Kelley Armstrong… the list could go on and on.

Q: How many books are on your TBR shelf?

A: Currently? According to Goodreads, it’s 257 but there are so many I need to add that it’s more like 300. I told you I like to read.

Q: What’s an emotional book, or one you won’t forget that you’ve read this year or last?

A: I’d have to say the one book I’ve read this year that’s had the most impact on me personally is Rule #1 Don’t Be #2 by Daniel Milstein (above). It inspired me to continue going after my lofty dreams, no matter what others may think. It gave me the emotional kick in the arse I needed.

Q: Is there a book you really didn’t enjoy this year or last?

A: There have been many and honestly, they’ve all been recommended to me by fellow readers and bestseller lists. I won’t name the one book I read that was so horrible I threw it out the window this Summer. Lol!

Q: What are you reading now?

A: I have sixteen books I’m reading right now, according to Goodreads. Some are for pleasure, like Tangled Up in Tinsel by Candis Terry, and others are for business, like Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups by Andrew Joyce.

Q: They say to never judge a book by its cover, but just how important is the book cover to you?

A: Covers are just as important as the story itself, in my opinion. I’ve been known to pick up quite a few books I normally wouldn’t read because I loved the cover. The cover has to grab the reader, entice them to take a second look and capture the whole story in one frame. It’s hard to get it right but when it does, it’s pure magic.

Q: Do you have a blog? If so, what is the name? 

A: Yes, I have a blog. It’s called POTL Blog: All Things Books, Reading and Publishing and has been around since 2012. I started out with one follower and have grown to a social media reach over forty-five million.

Q: Have you written anything? If not, have you ever thought about writing your own book?

A: Yes, I’m one-half (MR N is the other half) of the award-winning N. N. Light. We’re a husband-wife writing team and we’re about to publish our fifth book. It’s a daily inspirational book called, N.N. Light’s Book of Daily Inspiration and it will be released November 21, 2017. Our other books are romance, paranormal romance, young adult and love poetry.

Q: Which do you enjoy more, ebooks or physical books? How about audiobooks?

A: I used to be a physical book snob but I see the value in e-books and audiobooks. I need e-books for reviewing but for personal use, I much prefer physical books. It’s all in the touch and smell, especially old books. You can’t get that from an e-reader. I don’t listen to audiobooks but I did when I was a manager at a bookstore because my commute was over an hour each way.

Q: Where do the majority of your books come from? (Library, bookstore)

A: My local library is too far away so most of the books I read I get from Amazon or used bookstores. I’m also on Netgalley so I get a lot of ARCs to read from publishers before publication. I swear, I’m a kid in a candy store while perusing Amazon or Netgalley.

 

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Continue reading “Meet The Reader Series with Mrs. N (N.N. Light)”

Blog Tour: Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney – Book Review & Author Interview

I had the pleasure of reading James J. Cudney’s debut novel Watching Glass Shatter last week and what a treat it was! You can read my review of the book below and also check out my interview with this incredible author. You’ll learn more about James J. Cudney as a reader and writer as we discuss the book and also his plans for the future.

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I’ve come to know James through our blog communications and he quickly became an inspiration to me. I follow his blog @ thisismytruthnow and enjoy every post I read from his book reviews to the 365-day challenges. He’s a wonderful writer and I was so excited to learn that he was publishing his first novel. It seems to have happened so quickly and I’m ecstatic to be part of the blog tour! I hope you’ll enjoy reading this post about his new book.

Watching Glass Shatter

by James J. Cudney

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Blurb: The wealthy Glass family lost its patriarch, Benjamin Glass, sooner than expected. Benjamin’s widow, Olivia, and her 5 sons each react to his death in their own way while preparing for the reading of his will. Olivia receives a very unexpected confession from her late husband about one of their sons that could shatter the whole family.

Prior to revealing the secret to her children, Olivia must figure out which boy Ben refers to in the confession he left her in his will. While the family attorney searches for the mysterious Rowena Hector whom Ben says holds the answers, Olivia asks her sons to each spend a week with her as she isn’t ready to let go of the past. When Olivia visits her sons, she quickly learns that each one has been keeping his own secret from her. Olivia never expected her remaining years would be so complex and life-altering, but she will not rest until her family is reunited after Ben’s untimely death.

We all need family. We all want to fit in. We’re all a mix of quirky personalities. Will Olivia be able to fix them or will the whole family implode? What will she do when she discovers the son behind Ben’s secret? Check out this ensemble cast where each family member’s perspective is center stage, discovering along the way who might feel the biggest impact from all the secrets. Welcome to being an honorary member of the Glass family.

My Review:

Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney is one of the best books I’ve read in 2017. It’s a debut novel about a family with secrets. These secrets have the potential to tear the family apart.

The matriarch of the family is Olivia. Her husband Ben, the patriarch, has just died unexpectedly and she is left with their five grown sons, their families, and her sister Diane. She’s also left with a secret from Ben regarding one of their sons. Olivia decides to take some time to spend which each of the boys and in doing so, she discovers that each and every one of them has their own little secrets they’ve been hiding.

I was sucked into this story as soon as I started reading it. A worry that I had was that with all the characters in the book, I would get confused and lost because each of the sons have their own family members as well, but not once did I have an issue with it. The characters are so well detailed and described. After reading about each one, I felt that I knew this family and they all felt so realistic to me. I think overall my favorite character was Diane, but as the story moved on, it became Olivia. In the beginning, I almost couldn’t stand Olivia, but she begins to change. As she discovers so many new things about her sons and their spouses, she starts to realize that she’s too much of a control freak and needs to let people make their own decisions. I loved this transformation, although it may not have been complete, she becomes more understanding, more kind, and less judgmental which I admired. The boys…where can I start? Each one is unique in their own way. I loved all of them, but my favorite son was Ethan. I had issues with Zach and a certain situation between him, Teddy and his wife, but it came together in the end which was unexpected. I couldn’t wait to find out whether the Glass family would heal or simply fall apart. I was literally astonished by this book because it has many twists and turns. You just won’t know unless you read it from beginning to end.

I enjoyed the writing and the plot was unique to me. I thought the book was put together perfectly. Readers know that it takes more than just a good writer to offer a great book and everyone has their own opinions on this. Some say they need to be captivated and that the characters need good development. Others say they really want to ‘think’ or be taken on an adventure, but a good book to me is one that makes you feel, and this book did that for me. I had a myriad of emotions. I laughed, cried, jumped for joy, and got angry at times throughout the book. It’s truly heart-wrenching at times! I can’t remember the last time I was this emotionally involved with characters. It’s definitely been a while!

As far as the end, I liked it, but I expected something different. I wasn’t sure if I was happy with Olivia’s choices, or Rowena’s choice for that matter, but it turned out that I was pleased with it.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I’d recommend this book to anyone. What a ride. I can’t wait for the next book! Every star for Watching Glass Shatter!

5 Sterne

 


You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 24, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1978233434
  • ISBN-13: 978-1978233430

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Continue reading “Blog Tour: Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney – Book Review & Author Interview”

The Frightened Little Flower Bud by Renée Paule and Godfrey R. Hewitt – Book Review and Author Interviews

I had the pleasure of reading The Frightened Little Flower Bud last month, a children’s book by Renée Paule and Godfrey R. Hewitt. Below, you can see my thoughts on the book and also read the interviews with  Renée and Godfrey.

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The Frightened Little Flower Bud

by Renée Paule (Author/Illustrator)G.R. Hewitt(Author/Illustrator)

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Blurb: The story begins with a seed landing in a pretty garden where it begins to grow and eventually forms a little flower bud. But, the little flower bud becomes frightened of things she ‘hears on the wind’; such as the sun that might scorch her petals, the rain that might spoil them, the wind that might blow them away – so the flower doesn’t want to bloom. However, all flowers must bloom, and as the little flower bud opens her petals she overcomes her fears one by one.

The more we think about our fears, the more they overwhelm us. This book teaches children (of all ages) that fear is just a feeling that holds them back from living their lives to the full.

To add to the fun and develop observational skills there’s a ‘Did You See’ activity page at the back with objects from the book that children may not have noticed whilst reading it. There are also some simple questions that can be asked of children, encouraging them to think about what they’ve read. The skill level required is ‘easy’.

My Thoughts:

The story is about a little flower bud who is afraid to bloom because of the rumors she’s heard “on the wind” about how she might be scorched by the sun, drenched by the rain, blown by the wind, and stung by bees. She also worries if she’ll be good enough and asks herself, “Will I be beautiful like the other flowers?” As time moves on and she continues to change, everything that she worried about becomes a thing of the past and she blooms into a beautiful flower until it’s time for her to pass on her seeds for new flowers the following season.

The book’s crucial message couldn’t have come at a better time. In this day and age, our children are becoming more influenced by their peers, the media, and even family. Passing some of our own negative fears and beliefs to our children is also possible as we ourselves, at times, are dealing with our own set of stresses and negative emotions. The story reminds us that we don’t need to harbor these negative thoughts at all. By the time I got to the end of the book, I realized this has to be one of the best children’s books I’ve read with powerful messages for all ages. What were some of the messages we took away from the book? Don’t ever be afraid because of something you hear. No matter what somebody else says, don’t let it get in the way of your goals and live your life to the fullest. Most importantly, be yourself!

The book can be read by children entirely on their own, but really strikes up good conversation and for younger children, I believe it’s best read with an adult. It’s very thought-provoking and children will begin to think about some of their own fears. I think school teachers can incorporate this into their curriculum as well. My children who are ages four, six, nine, and eleven, all enjoyed it and even my 17-year-old enjoyed discussing it with us.

We thoroughly admired the bright, colorful, and detailed illustrations. These illustrations give us a nice sense of nature which is something many of us have lost touch with as our lives have become electronic and sometimes disconnected from Earth. There’s even a section for young readers to go back throughout the book with a ‘look and find’ list of animals and children will learn about a what type of flower the frightened flower bud is.

I appreciated the addition of the authors’ notes in the back of the book where you can read about the authors’ thoughts on the book and also learn a little bit about them. I’m so pleased to have this added to my home library and believe this book should be in every school and library so that all can enjoy it, not just children, as it’s a book for all ages!

My rating for this book is 5*****

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You can find this book on Goodreads and Amazon. There are two different spellings. Find the British spelling book HERE and the American spelling HERE.

  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: RPG Publishing; American Spelling edition (September 27, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0993509843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0993509841

A few illustrations from the book:

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Did you enjoy reading as a child? What are some of your childhood favorites?

Renée I never read much as a child – I found the task tedious and preferred to remain with my own thoughts.

Godfrey I enjoyed reading Enid Blyton amongst others. My favourite children’s books have always been ‘The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame and ‘Winnie the Pooh’ by A. A. Milne.


What influenced you to write this book?

Renée Like with most people, the idea just popped into my head and Godfrey and I developed it from there. There are some beautiful places to see in Co. Leitrim and lots of flowers coming and going. The symbology is always clear (life is a cycle).

Godfrey I was invited to co-write and illustrate it – so I thought ‘Why not?’


What was the hardest part about writing this book?

Renée – As you know, I usually write for adults so had to start thinking about how a child would receive this book and whether or not the ‘bees’ or ‘dying’ image would scare them.

After speaking to teachers, we were reminded of the horrors that our children read all the time – such as ‘The Three Little Pigs’ and ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ – so what we were tackling was mild in comparison.

Godfrey– Knowing when it was finished and needed no more tweaking.


How long did it take you to write it?

Renée – It took six months to get it just the way we wanted it – the illustrations are intricate.


What message would you like people to take away from The Frightened Little Flower Bud?

Renée – Never be afraid of anything, particularly your own thoughts.

Godfrey– Things are never as bad as they appear to be.


What do you think makes a great children’s book?

Renée One that can reach them and encourage them to think for themselves – better still, a book that encourages them to think for themselves and leaves them feeling happier than they were before.

Godfrey– One that children can get lost in – the return to reality is a disappointment. One that stays with you all day and you look forward to getting back to reading it. One that leaves you with a great sense of loss when you turn the last page.


Was anything edited out and did you have alternate endings for the book?

Renée – An image of a mole was removed because we wanted to keep the book Irish and there are no moles in Ireland – we replaced it with a rabbit.

Godfrey– There was no possible alternative ending.

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Who designed the illustrations and cover?

Renée – we worked on the illustrations together. Godfrey did most of the landscapes but also helped me with expressions and ideas. We work very well together. Godfrey designed the cover.


Do you have future plans to write more children’s books and can we expect more illustrations?

Renée – Yes … saying no more at this stage. I am, however, also working on another adult’s book so time is precious right now.


Do you have any favorite children’s book authors and do any influence your writing?

Renée – We’re influenced by everything we read whether we want to be or not.

Godfrey– As I said above, I always loved Enid Blyton’s books – also Roald Dahl, Kenneth Grahame, Philip Pullman and others too numerous to mention.


How do you publish and market your books?

Renée – We are taking it into garden centres, schools and book shops – and anywhere else we can think of – and pushing it ourselves. It’s a hard slog and why time is precious right now. This book was rejected by 16 odd publishers and also by distributors, even though they enjoyed reading it. We still have a lot to do.


Do you have any advice for others on publishing and marketing?

Renée – Never give up. Never take ‘No’ for an answer. If you believe in what you’re doing don’t allow others to reject it in your own mind.

Godfrey– I agree with Renée. It’s also important to have your book edited. If you self-publish be prepared to work hard and get your book known – there’s a lot of competition!


Do you have anything else you’d like to add?

Renée and Godfrey – Thanks for the chance to talk about our book. We had a lot of fun putting it together.

I’d like to thank Renée and Godfrey for taking the time to complete this Q&A.

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Continue reading “The Frightened Little Flower Bud by Renée Paule and Godfrey R. Hewitt – Book Review and Author Interviews”

The Unicorn in the Barn by Jacqueline K. Ogburn – Book Review and Author Interview

Last month, we took a trip to Barnes and Noble and picked up The Unicorn in the Barn. We were instantly attracted to the title, cover, and blurb. I had the pleasure of reading The Unicorn in the Barn with my younger children and you can see my review and author interview with Jacqueline K. Ogburn below.

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The Unicorn in the Barn

by Jacqueline K. Ogburn, and Rebecca Green (Illustrations)

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   For years people have claimed to see a mysterious white deer in the woods around Chinaberry Creek. It always gets away.
One evening, Eric Harper thinks he spots it. But a deer doesn’t have a coat that shimmers like a pearl. And a deer certainly isn’t born with an ivory horn curling from its forehead.
When Eric discovers the unicorn is hurt and being taken care of by the vet next door and her daughter, Allegra, his life is transformed.
A tender tale of love, loss, and the connections we make, The Unicorn in the Barn shows us that sometimes ordinary life takes extraordinary turns. – Goodreads

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 My Review

Have you ever seen a Unicorn? Eric has, and now his life may be changed forever.

Eric’s grandmother isn’t well and has been put into a nursing home. Her house is now being occupied by someone new, a girl named Allegra, and her mother, a veterinarian. One day, Eric stumbles upon Allegra pounding in a “No Trespassing” sign on the tree where his treehouse resides: his favorite place to be. They don’t seem to like each other, but Eric doesn’t know yet that Allegra may not be as awful as she seems.

As Eric spends more time around the woods and farmhouse, he begins to discover magical creatures, including a white and glowing animal he first thinks is a pony. Soon, he realizes this beautiful pony-like animal is a unicorn: the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. He soon observes that she’s living in the old barn near the farmhouse which has been converted into a vet practice by Allegra’s mother. The unicorn was meant to remain a secret, but Eric is inquisitive and must find out everything he can about this magnificent creature.

We absolutely loved all the magical creatures in the book, especially Moonpearl, the majestic unicorn. The talking animals reminded us of another favorite children’s story-Charlotte’s Web. The human characters are memorable and even though it’s an imaginary story, it felt real. The relationship between Eric and his grandmother is heartwarming and we admired how Eric and Allegra’s friendship developed over time.

There were a few events in the book that we needed to stop and discuss that dealt with loss and mourning and not everything unfolded the way we wanted it to. Overall, this story was beautiful and something I would’ve loved reading as a child. We fell in love with all of the illustrations and found ourselves wanting more. My kids did enjoy it and I’m happy to have it as part of our home library.

My rating on this book is 5*****

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You can find this book on Goodreads and Amazon as well as many other bookstores.

  • Age Range: 10 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 – 7
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (July 4, 2017)
  • ISBN-10: 054476112X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0544761124

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Author Interview with Jacqueline K. Ogburn

 

Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

A: I didn’t really start calling myself a writer until after about my third picture book. By then I began to believe it was something I was good at, not just a fluke. I had always written things – poetry, journals, letters – starting when I was around 8 or 9.

Q: What made you decide to write children’s books?

A: My path was a bit unusual. I had moved to New York City in my early 20s because I wanted to work in book publishing. My first job was in children’s books, and it made me remember how I fell in love with reading. I wrote my first picture book when I misunderstood a book title. I thought it was The Noise Lullaby, but it turned out to be The Norse Lullaby. Not nearly as intriguing a title, so I wrote a manuscript to go along with the incorrect one.

 

Q: What is your favorite childhood book?

A: Lots of favorites: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and A Wrinkle in Time, also Harriet the Spy and It’s Like This, Cat were some I read and reread. Looking at that list, it is not surprising I moved to New York City. I also loved Black Beauty and Bambi, both which had very sad and harsh scenes. And lots of fairy tales, mostly the one from the Grimm Brothers. I hated most of the Hans Christian Anderson stories. I especially loathed The Little Match Girl. His stories seemed so cruel.

Q: Have you always enjoyed writing? 

A: Like many people, I started with poetry. I like playing with the rhythms and how intricate they could be. Writing a poem can be like solving a puzzle, finding how the pieces fit.

Q: What influenced you to write The Unicorn in the Barn and are any of your books influenced by your childhood?

A: My daughter sparked the idea, when she mentioned that unicorns might be hard for a vet to treat. The setting of the story is based on the farm in North Carolina near Charlotte where my grandmother and my mother grew up, and my uncle still lives. I tried to give it a Southern feel, but not in a stereotypical way.

My book The Jukebox Man was based on my grandfather, who had jukeboxes and pool tables at bars and restaurants throughout North Carolina. The illustrator, James Ransome, also used my house in one of the pictures.

Q: How does writing make you feel and does it come easy for you?

A: I hate starting a piece. Starting is so hard, trying to find a way in. Those first fewwriting-center-1024x692.jpg sentences set up so much. Once I get past that, it is very absorbing. Picture books are so short that I can usually write a full draft in a day or two. I can hold the whole picture book in my head while I research and work out the plot or the structure.

Novels are hard because they have so much middle. Some many possible blind alleys and it seems to magically expand. Or you get stuck and aren’t sure how to keep it building towards the end.

Q: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

A: That’s like asking who is your favorite child. I love them all. I have published 10 picture books and one middle-grade novel. I love The Reptile Ball because it was a collection of poems. The Magic Nesting Doll was an original fairy tale. The Bake Shop Ghost because it is about cakes and a cranky ghost. Also because I got to write a musical based on it and see it performed, and it was made into a short film, which I got to see being made.

Q: What makes a great children’s book?

A: It’s easier to say what makes a bad one – a didactic approach, condescending tone, sugary sweet sentimentality, not respecting that children are people, stories that rote, routine and boring.

Q: Why don’t you illustrate your own books and what’s the process like for finding illustrators?

A: While I like to draw, I haven’t developed that talent. There are so many incredible artists out there, and I have been lucky in the ones who had illustrated my books. I don’t find the illustrators, the publisher does that, because they give a separate contract to the artist. I usually discuss the style of art the story needs with the publisher. Lots of artists have turned down my stories, for all sorts of reason – they didn’t like it, didn’t fit their schedule, etc. Once I met an illustrator years after he turned down my story. He did wonderful, realistic illustrations of children that were beautiful and intense. He remembered my story. He explained that he didn’t do it because the action took place inside, and he hated drawing interiors. He loved illustrating outdoor scenes.

 

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Illustrations from The Unicorn in the Barn by Rebecca Green

 

Q: What’s the publishing process been like for you and how do you market your books?

A: I have been very lucky in my publishing career. I don’t have an agent, but have worked with several editors at three different houses. I have had several books rejected, and probably don’t market those enough. I do some online marketing for my published, but that is changing so rapidly that it is hard to keep up. I do some school visits, but I have a day job, so I’m not a true road warrior.

Q: Do you like to read a lot? If so, who are some of your favorite authors and are there any that heavily influence your writing?2839.jpg

A: I read constantly. I’m the type of person who reads the cereal box if there is nothing else around. For picture books, Margaret Mahy was an influence – she is very funny and whimsical and playful with language. For a novel, The Bridge to Terabithia was an influence.

Q: When it comes to writing, what tools do you use?

A: Pen for poetry, computer for prose.

Q: How long did it take you to write The Unicorn in the Barn?

A: More years than it should have – about 10. I didn’t work on it consistently. I would put it away for months at a time, then find myself thinking about the characters and work on it until I got stuck again.

Q: What was the most difficult part of writing this book?

A: The middle kept growing, that there were more things I realized I needed to put in that weren’t part of the original outline.

Q: Will there be any other books regarding Moonpearl or the characters in this book in the future?

A: I have some chapters of a sequel, told from Allegra’s point of view. The main magical creature is a griffin, because I love the hybrid of lion and eagle.

Q: How did you come up with the character names in the book and are any characters or events based on anything true?

A: My daughter who gave me the spark, her middle name is Harper, so I used that for Eric’s family name. I did research by volunteering at the Piedmont Wildlife Center, so some of the details about the clinic are drawn from that, and the farm is based on the one where my grandmother and mother grew up.

Q: I appreciated that the book dealt with some harder topics like aging, death, and mourning which can be difficult for children to cope with. Did you make any major edits to the book or have other endings for the story?

A: I changed an important scene. Originally Eric tried to take the unicorn to his grandmother and Moonpearl ran away after being frightened by a car. My editor and husband thought it made Eric seem too selfish and unsympathetic. So I had to change a lot and ended up with the wampus cat.

If you tell a story about a hospital or a doctor, about healing, then death is always a possibility. I called a friend crying once, because I realized I needed to include the death of an animal if it was going to be a fantasy grounded in reality.

Being the parent or grandparent of a children’s book protagonist is risky business – they die off at an alarming rate. The loss of a grandparent or a pet are frequently a child’s first experience of death, and the initial setting I created made them almost inevitable. I tried to do it in a way that was emotionally true, but not crushing. To show that these things can be faced, especially with help.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?images.jpg

A: Read a lot, and be persistent. Dr. Seuss was famously rejected over 30 times before he found a publisher for his first book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street.

Q: Do you have any advice for parents who are dealing with struggling readers?

A: That is a bit outside my expertise, but modeling reading is one. Anything that appeals to an interest they have, don’t worry about if it’s “good” just something that they want to figure out. Reading out loud, just as sharing, not as pressure.

Q: Are you working on anything now and do you have any future projects planned?

A: The possible sequels and I have an idea for a series, maybe a bit younger than this.

Q: What else do you like to do outside of writing?

A: I live in Durham, North Carolina, which is now a foodie town. I like to cook and eat well. I grow herbs and flowers and tomatoes, because not even the farmer’s market has tomatoes as good as the ones in your own backyard.

I’d like to thank Jacqueline K. Ogburn for her time in completing this interview.

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Continue reading “The Unicorn in the Barn by Jacqueline K. Ogburn – Book Review and Author Interview”

Meet The Reader with Anthony Jones

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I’m always looking for friends on Goodreads that have similar tastes. I like learning about new books and discussing them with others, so I decided to experiment with a new idea and thought it would be neat to find readers that I’m friends with on Goodreads and share them with you. Maybe they might be someone you’d like to add too. As I find readers with an interest, I’ll introduce them.


Meet the Reader Series

Today’s Featured Reader:

Anthony Jones

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(Click the covers to add on Goodreads)

Did you enjoy reading as a child? If so, what were some of your favorite books?

I started reading more as a teen but always enjoyed books. In the olden days, when TV’s were black and white and the only channels were CBS, ABC, NBC and PBS, and before such things as video games, many of us kids would gather at each other’s home for what was commonly referred to as story time. Neighborhood moms would take turns reading to the kids. Here is where I fell in love with stories. Some of my favorites were:

Mark Twain’s, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

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and The Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Wilder.

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What are some of your favorite books this year or last?

This year, some of the books that made my favorites list include:

American Gods by Neal Gaiman

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The Stand by Stephen King

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Everything’s Eventual  by Stephen King

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Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hurnard Hannah

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In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A. McLellan

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What are your favorite book genres?

I love most fiction, specifically, Fantasy Adventure, Post-Apocalyptic, Thriller, and select Mystery. That is not to say I don’t also love some true stories if written in a well entertaining way. Such books would include An Innocent Man, by John Grisham, and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.

 

Continue reading “Meet The Reader with Anthony Jones”