Halloween Reads for Children #3 – Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman and S.D. Schindler

Every day until Halloween I’ll post one of our favorite children’s reads for the fall and Halloween season which will end with a grand finale on Halloween!

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Today’s pick is:

Big Pumpkin

by Erica SilvermanS.D. Schindler (Illustrator)

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Blurb: The witch has grown the biggest pumpkin ever, and now she wants to make herself a pumpkin pie for Halloween. But the pumpkin is so big she can’t get it off the vine.

It’s so big the ghost can’t move it, either. Neither can the vampire, nor the mummy. It looks as if there’ll be no pumpkin pie for Halloween, until along comes the bat with an idea to save the day.

How can the tiny bat succeed where bigger and strong spooky creatures have failed? You’ll be surprised!

Book Details:

Format: Paperback Publication Date: 9/1/1995 Pages: 32 Reading Level: Age 4 and Up

  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 3
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin; Reprint edition (September 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689801297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689801297

Find on Amazon and Goodreads


My Thoughts:

As soon as we saw this on the Halloween table at Barnes and Noble, we had to grab it. It a book about a witch who grows a giant pumpkin! She plants the seed and watches it grow with plans to make a pumpkin pie, but the pumpkin is so gigantic, she can’t even remove it from the vine. The ghost thinks he can help, then the vampire, then the mummy, but not one of them is strong enough. Will a little bat be the answer? Follow along in the story to see if they can devise a plan as a team and finally enjoy some delicious pumpkin pie and good company.

We loved the story and colorful illustrations which aren’t scary at all. It has the perfect amount of text per page for young readers. It’s great with or without the audio and if you’d like, you can see and hear the book on YouTube. The ending is a wonderful surprise.

My rating on this one is 4****

4-stars


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Shabby Sunday: Witch Poems by Daisy Wallace and Trina Schart Hyman – 1976

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To see all the Shabby Sunday books that I’ve chosen, please click on ‘Shabby Sunday’ under categories.


Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then, I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

Witch Poems

by Daisy Wallace (Editor)Trina Schart Hyman (Illustrator)

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Blurb: Small, tall, nasty, nice, old, and young witches by prominent poets. Eighteen poems about witches by L. Frank Baum, E.E. Cummings, Eleanor Farjeon, and others.

I chose this book because it’s a childhood favorite from 1976 and definitely in shabby shape. My edition is very worn and a previous library book with stickers and markings. This is another book that my dog Winston got to when he was a puppy. He ate the corner and I had to do a duct tape repair on it.


My Thoughts:

This book is one of our favorites to read around Halloween time. There are witch poems from multiple poets including Shakespeare, L.Frank Baum, Myra Cohn Livingston and a few anonymous.

One of our favorites is written by Myra Cohn Livingston. It’s titled “Lazy Witch.”

Lazy Witch

Lazy witch
What’s wrong with you?
Get up and stir your magic brew.
Here’s candlelight to chase the gloom.
Jump up and mount your flying broom
And muster up your charms and spells
And wicked grins and piercing yells.
It’s Halloween! There’s work to do!
Lazy witch,
What’s wrong with you?

–Myra Cohn Livingston

What makes this book so atmospheric are the illustrations. They’re all black and white and remind me of Pam Smy’s illustrations in Thornhill.

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It sets the mood and makes this a perfect book for Halloween. There is actually one semi-nude illustration in the beginning of the book, but the book is labeled for children ages 3 and up. We enjoy all eighteen poems.

My rating on this one is 5-stars.

5 Sterne


Add it on Goodreads or find this edition on Amazon

  • Age Range: 3 and up
  • Hardcover: 30 pages
  • Publisher: Holiday House; First Edition edition (December 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823402819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823402816

 


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Halloween Reads For Children #2 – Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 1-3

Every day until Halloween I’ll post one of our favorite children’s reads for the fall and Halloween season which will end with a grand finale on Halloween!

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Today’s pick is:

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark:

Books 1-3

1- Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: Collected from American Folklore (Scary Stories #1)

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Blurb: This spooky addition to Alvin Schwartz’s popular books on American folklore is filled with tales of eerie horror and dark revenge that will make you jump with fright.

There is a story here for everyone — skeletons with torn and tangled flesh who roam the earth; a ghost who takes revenge on her murderer; and a haunted house where every night a bloody head falls down the chimney.

Stephen Gammell’s splendidly creepy drawings perfectly capture the mood of more than two dozen scary stories — and even scary songs — all just right for reading alone or for telling aloud in the dark. If You Dare!

Find on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Series: Scary Stories Scary Stories
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: HarperColl; 1st edition (January 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0397319266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0397319268

My Thoughts:

This is a great collection of short scary stories for kids to enjoy. It’s a book that I enjoyed as a child and can now share with my own kids. Some of the stories are pretty scary and best for older readers, but a few of them can be read to younger readers as well. There are plenty of traditional ghost stories, retellings and folklore to enjoy. The black and white illustrations add even more eeriness!

A few of our favorites include The White Wolf, The Guests, The Wendigo, The Girl Who Stood on a Grave, and The Attic.

I really enjoyed reading the references in the back of the book which explain the tales and where they originated.

5 Sterne


2- More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Scary Stories #2)

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Blurb: All those who enjoyed shuddering their way through Alvin Schwartz’s first volume of Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark will find a satisfyingly spooky sequel in this new collection of the macabre, the funny, and the fantastic.Is it possible to die — and not know it? What if a person is buried too soon? What happens to a thief foolish enough to rob a corpse, or to a murderer whose victim returns from the grave? Read about these terrifying predicaments as well as what happens when practical jokes produce gruesome consequences and initiations go awry.Stephen Gammell’s splendidly creepy drawings perfectly capture the mood of more than two dozen scary stories — and even a scary song — all just right for reading alone or for telling aloud in the dark. If You Dare!

Find on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Series: Scary Stories Scary Stories
  • Library Binding: 112 pages
  • Publisher: HarperColl (August 21, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0397320825
  • ISBN-13: 978-0397320820

My Thoughts:

Here’s another scary story collection that’s perfect for this time of year. Some of these are downright horrifying, but so much fun.

A few of our favorites are: Something was Wrong, The Cat’s Paw, Ba-Rooom!, which includes the simple sheet music we enjoy playing on the piano, Wonderful Sausage, and One Sunday Morning.

One of my favorite sections in the book contains the sources which explain the tales, adaptations, retellings and even different variations. Some even have a little history with them which explains where these tales were heard and when. The illustrations by Stephen Gammell are perfect and never disappoint!

5 Sterne

Irish Washerman Tune – “Ba-Room”

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The Cat’s Paw

Continue reading “Halloween Reads For Children #2 – Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 1-3”

Halloween Reads For Children #1 – Creepy Pair of Underwear!

Every day until Halloween I’ll post one of our favorite children’s reads for the fall and Halloween season which will end with a grand finale on Halloween!

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Today’s pick is:

Creepy Pair of Underwear!

by Aaron ReynoldsPeter Brown (Illustrator)

 

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Blurb: Jasper Rabbit is NOT a little bunny anymore. He’s not afraid of the dark, and he’s definitely not afraid of something as silly as underwear. But when the lights go out, suddenly his new big rabbit underwear glows in the dark. A ghoulish, greenish glow. If Jasper didn’t know any better he’d say his undies were a little, well, creepy. Jasper’s not scared obviously, he’s just done with creepy underwear. But after trying everything to get rid of them, they keep coming back!

My Thoughts:

We loved Creepy Carrots, so when we saw that Creepy Pair of Underwear came out, we couldn’t resist and had to grab it!

The story begins with Jasper Rabbit as he heads to the store with his mom to pick up some new underwear. He notices a new underwear section featuring creepy underwear and mom agrees that he can purchase them. He’s feeling so grown up and can’t wait to wear them to bed that night.

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When his mom shuts off the light, he notices that the underwear actually glows in the dark. He realizes that they are a little TOO creepy and becomes afraid! Jasper is a big rabbit and convinces himself that he’s not scared, or is he? He tries to hide the creepy underwear with the ghoulish glow in multiple places and even sends them to China, but they keep coming back.

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Follow along in the story and discover if Jasper can find a way to overcome his fear of the creepy pair of underwear.

We loved the illustrations and the story is adorable. Our rating on this one is 5-stars.

5 Sterne

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Throwback Thursday: October 12th – The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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This Week’s Pick

The Butterfly Garden (The Collector Book #1)

by Dot Hutchison

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Blurb: Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding…

My Thoughts:

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison is a captivating thriller. The collector a.k.a. “The Gardner” begins collecting girls and tattooing them with beautiful designs.  His plan is to keep them until they reach a certain age and then make them permanent fixtures in his garden for all to see. The girls know their fate, but it’s a mystery exactly how and when it will come about. Maya is one of those girls, and the brave one. The Gardener sees something special in her and it might be more than he can handle as she devises a plan of her own.

I liked the characters and felt they had good development. Maya is tough and the main character throughout the story as she’s interrogated by the FBI while giving her side of the story. The Gardener isn’t completely understood, but what serial killer is? Here we have a man who’s living a separate life in his fantasy garden, and it works. When reading the book, I had flashbacks to some of my favorites like The Silence of the Lambs and Kiss The Girls. 

I wasn’t sure if I liked the format of the writing, but still remained fairly fascinated with the story. I found it difficult to read at times and even nightmarish, especially when Keely comes into the picture. It’s definitely not a book everyone will enjoy as it contains rape, kidnapping, and other sick and twisted events, although it seemed that some details were spared and it wasn’t overly gory. There were many twists and turns and it didn’t feel predictable at all.

There is a weird twist toward the end, but unfortunately, the ending was too abrupt and I wasn’t thoroughly satisfied with it. I still give this one 5-stars for captivation and a unique story.

This is one of my favorites for 2016.

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: October 12th – The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Sweet Golden Sun Juice – The Roses of May by Dot Hutchison

After last Wednesday’s Breakfast and Book, my week sort of fell apart. This week is much better and I hope everyone else is having a great week too. I’m back with a new book and recipe that I hope you will enjoy.

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Last week I mentioned that I was back to gluten-free again. It’s actually been close to a month now that I’ve not allowed myself to have any baked goods at all. I’m not supposed to have gluten, yet I’ve learned that a little bit won’t kill me, but my problem is moderation. Gluten causes me to have horrible sick feelings and headaches like you wouldn’t believe. So, I’ve pretty much stayed with salads, smoothies, and juices for the past four weeks or so and all is working out well. I’m still eating eggs and nuts too to help keep myself satisfied. My body is refreshed again and I’m feeling quite well.

One of the books I’ve been using is titled Healing Tonics, Juices, and Smoothies which I’ve already introduced to you in a previous Breakfast and a Book post featuring the Funky Monkey Smoothie. I have that smoothie nearly every day and love it so much. If you haven’t tried that smoothie yet, give it a chance because it’s my new favorite smoothie of the year!

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I thought I’d share one more favorite recipe from this book today as I’ll be reviewing it hopefully later today or tomorrow.


The juice recipe I’m sharing today is titled “Sweet Golden Sun” and it’s very delicious.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 inch of fresh turmeric (I’m using fresh dried turmeric)
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1/2 of a pineapple

That’s it! Three ingredients!

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Directions:

Wash and peel all produce. If you’re using fresh turmeric, start with that and juice everything after it. This allows the sweet potato and pineapple to push all that wonderful turmeric goodness out of the juicer and into your cup.

Why do I love this recipe so much? It’s packed full of nutrients and turmeric is a huge anti-inflammatory. This is a great start to your morning and a great cold/flu fighter.

*This can be adapted into a smoothie very easily. Just cook the sweet potato first, then blend everything in the blender. This is a great winter smoothie.*

Here’s what I did:

Wash, chop, and peel. I already had some pineapple in the refrigerator ready to go.

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I’m using some smaller size sweet potatoes. One garnet yam and two Japanese sweet potatoes. Japanese sweet potatoes are my absolute favorite and they’re so sweet.

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I’m using fresh dried turmeric that I dried. It’s so easy to do and I’ll do a post on that soon.

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Put the produce through the juicer alternating with pineapple and sweet potato. Save the dried turmeric for after the juice is complete.

Mix in about 3/4 tsp dried turmeric to your juice.

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Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Sweet Golden Sun Juice – The Roses of May by Dot Hutchison”

Shabby Sunday: Frankenstein by Ian Thorne – Monster Series 1977

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Today is my 8th Shabby Sunday! To see all the Shabby Sunday books that I’ve chosen, please click on ‘Shabby Sunday’ under categories.


Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then, I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


 

Today’s shabby share is:

Frankenstein (Monsters Series)

by Ian Thorne

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The cover on this one features Lon Chaney Jr. as the monster in “Ghost of Frankenstein.”
Blurb: Briefly discusses the origin of the Frankenstein legend and the portrayal of Dr. Frankenstein and his creation in films. Also presents a synopsis of the 1931 film starring Boris Karloff.

I chose this book because it’s a childhood favorite from 1977, my birth year. This entire series is actually quite rare and expensive to build. As of now, I only have two of the entire set which includes King Kong and this Frankenstein book featured here. I’m not even sure how many there are in the set, but so far, these are the titles I’ve located online.

The Blob
Frankenstein
Frankenstein meets wolfman
The Wolfman
King Kong
Mad Scientists
The Creature from the Black Lagoon
Dracula
The Mummy
The Deadly Mantis
It Came from Outer Space
The Murder in the Rue Morgue
The Invisible Man
Godzilla

My Thoughts:

The Frankenstein installment in the “Monsters Series” begins with a fairly complete summary of the very first “Frankenstein” movie from 1910. There are many photos from the original film with captions that explain what’s happening in the picture and also gives the character names. It even explains facts about the original creator of “Frankenstein” –  Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin aka Mary Shelley, and how the story came about.

As the story moves on, readers learn about subsequent Frankenstein movies, the actors who played the roles in the films, and even a little bit about “The Munsters” – one of my favorite shows when I was a kid. It ends with a synopsis of the 1974 TV version “Frankenstein: The True Story.”

Overall, I love this “Monsters Series” edition and I’m happy to have it. My edition is really shabby with markings and stickers as it was a previous library book that I picked up at a sale. I can still remember reading this series in grade school and we always called them “the orange monster books.” I hope to complete the entire set in the future. My rating for this edition is 5-stars.


Add it on Goodreads or find this edition on Amazon

  • Series: Monsters Series
  • Library Binding: 46 pages
  • Publisher: Crestwood House; Library Binding edition (June 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0913940666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0913940662

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The Fall Book Tag!

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I’ve been seeing this tag everywhere and couldn’t wait to do it. This tag was created by Shanah from Bionic Book Worm. All of the graphics used belong to her. I’d like to thank her for creating such a wonderful tag! This is my favorite time of year and I really enjoyed this. Here are some of the blogs I’ve seen recently that have done this tag…

The Introverted Book Nerd

Kristin Kraves Books

Thrice Read

Book Chanted Blog


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The White Raven

by Carrie D. Miller

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I just read this last month and I loved it! It isn’t like any other book I’ve read this year and the story revolves around witches and magick. Perfect for this time of year!


 

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The Kind Worth Killing

by Peter Swanson

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This is a psychological thriller that I really couldn’t figure out until the end and I was fairly shocked by it! I listened to this on audible and it’s one of my favorite books for 2017. I was late on this one.


 

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The Bear and the Nightingale

by Katherine Arden

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I’m going to go with The Bear and the Nightingale. I read this one earlier in the year when it was still wintry outside and it was just perfect. I loved it. Sadly, I didn’t feel the same way with the second installment.


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The Pumpkin Cookbook

by Edith Stovel

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How about The Pumpkin Cookbook? I just bought this not to long ago and it’s one of my favorite cookbooks this year! It contains tons of recipes using pumpkin. Love Love Love!


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Dark Matter

by Blake Crouch

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It’s hard to pick just one book for this, but I’ll go with Dark Matter. For me, I just couldn’t put this book down and I raced to the finish. It was a pretty crazy ride!


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I definitely can’t just pick one! I have at least ten books that I’m highly anticipating, but I haven’t been able to get to them yet due to current reading responsibilities. These three are literally calling my name from my shelf and I look at them everyday.

Continue reading “The Fall Book Tag!”

Throwback Thursday – October 5th- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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This Week’s Pick

Gone Girl

by Gillian Flynn

 

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Blurb: On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

My Thoughts:

Nick and Amy Dunne are preparing to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary when suddenly, Amy disappears and as the investigation unfolds, it appears that the marriage wasn’t as perfect as it seemed. Others begin to wonder if Nick could be the perpetrator and the book will leave you wondering what really happened to Amy throughout.

I loved this book, and honestly, I couldn’t predict what was going to happen because the plot was completely twisted. I went in completely blind and that’s what I would recommend to everyone else. You will more than likely be shocked. It’s one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read, slow at times, but the story picks up and then you’re in for the ride. To me, the characters were fairly unforgettable!

I admire the way Gillian Flynn writes and I’m looking forward to reading more from this author. I mixed the book and audible for this one and I did enjoy the narration.

My rating on this one is 4 stars.

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You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Paperback: 422 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (April 22, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307588378
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307588371

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday – October 5th- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – The Hearts Invisible Furies – Vitamin C Smoothie

Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope everyone is having a great week so far. Here’s a new recipe and book for this week!

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Last month I had to go back to strictly gluten free and have been making mainly juice and smoothie recipes. Last time I shared the ‘Funky Monkey‘ smoothie, and let me tell you, I’ve had that smoothie nearly every day since! I love it. I can’t say enough about the book where I found this recipe- Healing Tonics, Juices, and Smoothies. This is a five-star book for me and I’ll be reviewing it this week!

So, today’s recipe is one that I’ve made for years and thought I’d share it because some people don’t like banana in their smoothies and this one is bananaless! It’s chock-full of vitamin C which we could all use a hefty dose of this time of year as the colds and flu sweep in. I’ve already heard of a few cases of flu near my home state, so why not be prepared?

The Recipe: Vitamin C Smoothie

1 cup of milk of your choice – I’m using coconut, but almond works great too.
1 cup of strawberries (frozen preferred)
1 cup of pineapple
1 to 2 oranges (a few tbsp of orange juice concentrate work well as a sub)
1 slice of ginger
1 Tbsp of raw honey
Supplements of your choice* See below
1 cup of ice or a little less if you’re using frozen strawberries

Directions:

Put everything in the blender in the order listed. Ice is always last.

Here’s what I did

I didn’t have coconut milk, so I basically just add in dried coconut and water and make my own. I used about a 1/3 cup of coconut. This brand does not contain sulfites which is why I buy it.

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I added the coconut to about a cup of water. I’m not going to blend it yet and will add everything before blending.

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Add everything else in, ending with the frozen ingredients. The pineapple I chopped up includes the core. Don’t kick out the core! It’s a very healthy addition that can be blended. It contains the highest concentration of bromelain, which helps reduce pain and inflammation in the body. The Vitamix has no issues with shredding the core up.

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Use frozen strawberries for a nice thick smoothie. To freeze strawberries, just put them on a cookie tray so they’re all separated and freeze for about 6 hours or so. Then take them out and store them in a bag.

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Also, store the remaining pineapple in the fridge in a jar or other container. I like using glass whenever possible when it comes to storing cut produce.

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Peel the ginger and add.

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Add the honey. I love this Great Lakes brand honey I found at Costco. You know it’s raw when it won’t slip off the spoon.

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I added a few supplements: Lucuma powder, Maca Powder, and Bee Pollen – about a teaspoon each.

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Maca is a superfood and great for regulating hormones. Lucuma is also a superfood powder that’s great at removing inflammation from the body, helps maintain skin health, and promotes physical endurance.

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Bee Pollen – Some people are allergic to this, but I have severe seasonal allergies and I’ve never had any issues with it. It’s so close to being a perfect food as it has all the nutrients that humans need to survive. Here’s what Dr. Axe has to say about Bee Pollen…

“Bee pollen is wonderful for natural allergy relief and is responsible for the many health benefits of raw honey. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids and fatty acids, enzymes, carotenoids and bioflavonoids — making it an antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral agent that strengthens the capillaries, reduces inflammation, stimulates the immune system and lowers cholesterol levels naturally.”

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Blend it up!

You can click on the pictures below.

The smoothie is done in 40 seconds or less!

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This one is very sweet and has a tropical flavor. Delicious!

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Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – The Hearts Invisible Furies – Vitamin C Smoothie”

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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BeFunky Design

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”

Shabby Sunday: A Child’s Garden of Delights – 1987

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Today is my 7th Shabby Sunday! To see all the Shabby Sunday books that I’ve chosen, please click on ‘Shabby Sunday’ under categories.


Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then, I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

A Child’s Garden of Delights

by Bernard McTigue

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Blurb: Eighty-five selections from the collections of the New York Public Library. Includes Mother Goose, “Wind in the Willows,” Pinocchio, fairy tales, Mark Twain, Tolstoy, Blakely, and other treasures.

I chose this book because it’s a childhood favorite from 1987. It seems to be quite rare and not very popular. I think anyone who has children around or who are interested in children’s literature would enjoy this book.


My Thoughts

A Child’s Garden of Delights: Pictures, Poems, and Stories for Children is an anthology of children’s stories and more from the collections of the New York Public Library.

“The Charm of the anonymous early English and American selections proves that in the field of children’s literature there was a genius shared by all its practitioners, from the humblest to the most illustrious. To browse through this collection will be a voyage of discovery for young readers and a happy voyage of rediscovery of beloved favorites for older ones.”

This treasure trove has over 80 stories, poems, fables, and nursery rhymes with original illustrations. The illustrations are a mix of color and black and white. It’s an enchanting book. I love that it begins with selections for the youngest readers and progresses on to more difficult readings for older children.

There are tons of authors and great artists including: Rudyard Kipling, Alexander Calder, Charles Kingsley, Leo Tolstoy, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Nathanial Hawthorne, Clement Clark Moore, Louisa May Alcott, William Blake, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Pushkin, and many more.

Stories include some of our favorites like: Pinocchio, Old Mother Hubbard, Humpty Dumpty, The Elephants Child, The Ugly Little Duck, Millions of Cats, Aesop’s Fables, A Visit from St. Nicholas, The Wolf and the Dog, The Lion and the Puppy, The Selfish Giant, The Woodcutters Dog, and so many more.

I know well that only the rarest kind of best can be good enough for the young. – Walter De La Mare

This is a book I’ll never part with. It’s such a gem. I feel so lucky to have it!

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


 

Add it on Goodreads or find this edition on Amazon

  • Hardcover: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N Abrams; First Edition edition (September 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810907917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810907911

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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: A Child’s Garden of Delights – 1987”

The Book Blogger Test

Happy Friday! I thought I’d do a tag this morning to switch things up a little bit. I found this tag over at ThriceRead and enjoyed reading their answers. Be sure to check out this blog if you haven’t yet for tons of reviews, tags, and discussions.

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Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog
  2. Answer the ten questions asked on this post
  3. Nominate at least five people to do it also
  4. Let your nominees know you nominated them

 


 

Describe your perfect reading spot.

My current favorite reading spot is in my room where it’s dark. I love my cozy chair and have a cool reading light next to it. It’s my favorite place to be, but I would be in heaven to have a reading spot such as this one below!

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Tell us three book confessions.

1. I can’t read while riding in a car. I get car sick really bad.

2. On more than one occasion, I’ve been late making meals for my family due to being engrossed in a good book.

3. I love reading YA and even children’s books.


When was the last time you cried during a book?

I think in July when I read Bernard Jan’s Book A World Without Color.

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How many books are on your bedside table?

About fifteen, but I have a mini-shelf built into it.


What’s your favorite snack to eat while you’re reading?

Right now, I love these coconut clusters that I picked up at Costco. They are so delicious and perfect with a hot cup of tea. Great for reading…

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Name three books you would recommend to Everyone

The Pull and Kick Murder – A good who dun it mystery…

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Until Tuesday – A very important book about a wounded U.S. veteran Luis Carlos Montalvan and his service dog.

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The Hobbit – I’m currently reading this with my 9-year-old and we’re taking our time on it. We love it so much. I think even those who don’t like fantasy that much would still enjoy it.

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Show us a picture of your favorite bookcase on a bookshelf.

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This is my favorite bookshelf because all of my other shelves are a mess and not organized at all. This one isn’t necessarily organized, but the shelves are mostly hardcovers and matched into color groupings. It pleases me to look at it and it’s where I keep my figures and a few other trinkets too.

Describe how much books mean to you in just three words.

Books Mean Everything!

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Continue reading “The Book Blogger Test”

Throwback Thursday – September 28th – A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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This Week’s Pick:

A Little Life

by Hanya Yanagihara

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Blurb: When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.

Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

My Thoughts:

I started A Little Life sometime in January, but had to put it down a few times due to time restrictions on other books. Plus, this book is colossal. It’s a smidge over 700 pages.

I’ll start by saying that I can’t recollect the last time I felt so connected to characters in a story. I was so consumed with the four main characters seeing as how it’s nearly impossible not to fall in love with them, especially Jude and Willem. ♡ They’re so complex, it feels like you’re living the story and you’re associating with all of them. They’re memorable.

I cried a few times, and laughed a few times. The further I read, the more shocked I became, ending with a feeling of devastation. With that said, I thought it was written well and it kept my interest. There were a few times I put it down and walked away, but I had to come back.

I remember the first time I saw “Million Dollar Baby” with Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, and Morgan Freeman. I was sick about that movie for more than a day. In fact, the next day I still felt depressed. Well, that’s exactly how I’m feeling right now. Don’t get me wrong, I loved this book, but it’s going to take me a few days to get over it and I’ll never forget it.

I gave this book 5*****


You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Hardcover: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1St Edition edition (March 10, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385539258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385539258

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday – September 28th – A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara”

Shabby Sunday: Poldark by Winston Graham – 1977

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Today is my 6th Shabby Sunday! To see all the Shabby Sunday books that I’ve chosen, please click on ‘Shabby Sunday’ under categories.


Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then, I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


 

Today’s shabby share is:

Poldark

by Winston Graham

 

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Blurb: A gorgeous new release of the heartwarming and hilarious first novel in the Poldark series, the subject of the landmark BBC series

Ross Poldark is a heartwarming, gripping, and utterly entertaining saga that brings to life an unforgettable cast of characters and one of the greatest love stories of our age.

Ross Poldark returns to Cornwall from war, looking forward to a joyful homecoming with his family and his beloved Elizabeth. But instead he discovers that his father has died, his home is overrun by livestock and drunken servants, and Elizabeth, having believed Ross dead, is now engaged to his cousin. Ross must start over, building a completely new path for his life, one that takes him in exciting and unexpected directions . . .

Thus begins an intricately plotted story spanning loves, lives, and generations. The Poldark series is the masterwork of Winston Graham, who evoked the period and people like only he could, and created a world of rich and poor, loss and love, that readers will not soon forget.

I chose this book because I love the entire saga and my Poldark edition is 40 years old! The actual publication date of Poldark is 1945.


My Thoughts:

It’s 1783, and Ross Poldark is returning home after fighting in the American Revolutionary War. When he arrives he learns that his father is dead, his copper mine is failing, and his sweetheart Elizabeth, whom he loves, is engaged to his cousin Francis. Not only that, but the servants haven’t been keeping up with the estate, and it’s in shambles. His joyful homecoming is crushed and everything is a mess with chickens scattered around in his living room.

 

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Ross plans to get back on his feet again, but his finances are a mess and he struggles to fit back into society. The future is looking fairly grim. He meets a fourteen-year-old girl named Demelza, rescues her from her abusive father, and gives her a job as a kitchen maid at Nampara where he resides. As time moves on, Demelza grows up into a beautiful young woman, their relationship changes, and they get married against everyone’s wishes. There’s hardly a single soul who approves of their marriage and Demelza will have to prove that she’s a worthy wife. Not only does she struggle with society, she struggles with herself because she knows Ross still loves Elizabeth and Demelza is the one who wants to be number one in Ross’s life.

 

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The book is full of memorable characters with Demelza being my favorite. Winston Graham has a way of making the wind, sea, weather, and landscape connect to the feelings of the characters and the imagery of Cornwall pulls you in with all the vivid details.

“He felt he would like one more look at the sea, which even now was licking at the rocks behind the house. He had no sentimental notions about the sea; he had no regard for its dangers or its beauties; to him it was a close acquaintance whose every virtue and failing, every smile and tantrum he had come to understand.” 

The book started off slow for me, but once I got into the story I loved it and couldn’t wait to read the other books in the series. I ended up reading every single book in The Poldark Saga and highly recommend it to all that enjoy reading historical fiction.

 My rating on this is 5*****

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Add it on Goodreads or find this edition on Amazon

You can find many editions of this series on Amazon, eBay, and many other sites.

  • Mass Market Paperback: 347 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Ballantine Books Edition edition (April 12, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345256549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345256546

Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Poldark by Winston Graham – 1977”

Thornhill by Pam Smy – Book Review

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Thornhill

by Pam Smy

Blurb: Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as Ella unravels the mystery of the girl next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2016: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past.

  • Age Range: 10 – 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 – 9
  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (August 29, 2017)
  • ISBN-10: 162672654X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1626726543

My Review:

I’ve been pondering about what to say about this book for days. It took me awhile to see how I felt about the book and I ended up reading it twice. I could feel myself frowning the entire way all the way to the end.

There are two different storylines parallel to each other. The prose is the story of Mary in 1982, while the haunting, interlaced, black and white illustrations are Ella’s story in the present.

Mary is an orphan living at Thornhill in 1982 and is waiting to be adopted. She’s one of the only girls left along with a very mean girl who enjoys tormenting and bullying Mary to the point that Mary remains locked in her room most days.

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She dreads even coming out to eat and spends all of her time in her room making dolls or reading The Secret Garden. Mary’s story is told from her diary pages. I found it emotional and really couldn’t understand why something wasn’t being done to control the behavior of these girls who were treating her wrongly and bullying her. There are spoilers/hints along the way which gives you an idea about the end. I thought that was almost too much.

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Ella’s story is quite different. Told in the present, she’s moved into a house right next door to Thornhill and deals with her own set of problems. Her mother is absent for whatever reason, and her father is busy with work-related engagements, so Ella is left alone most of the time. Thornhill is viewed from right outside her window and she becomes curious when she sees a girl in the garden there, even though Thornhill has been shut down since 1982.  It’s abandoned, but Ella is curious and begins to wonder about the girl she sees from time to time. She begins exploring the garden because, what else is there for her do?

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This is a fairly large book at about 540 pages, but many of the pages are illustrations which make it a fairly quick read. I found the illustrations paired with Mary’s diary haunting and I didn’t want to put it down until I could find out what was going to happen with these two girls. I found the book unique, chilling, and atmospheric, but honestly, I wasn’t happy with parts of the story, especially the unexplained abrupt ending. Overall, it’s good and even though it’s juvenile fiction, it kept me engaged until the end.

My rating is 4.5****

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Continue reading “Thornhill by Pam Smy – Book Review”

Throwback Thursday – September 21st – Panther in the Sun by John Comfort

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

throwback-thursday

This week’s Pick is…

Panther in the Sun

by John Comfort

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Blurb…

“An enjoyable read . . . renders an anxious excitement as the undeserved hardships of a single American family unfold. . . . Truly, a story with a viewpoint and tradition not often told: that of the American Indian.”
–Chief Hatcher of the Waccamaw Tribe

After tragedy tears apart a Native American family, a father must endure harsh and unjust consequences and fight to find his children. We follow the separated lives of the father and his two sons as they make their way in an unforgiving and hostile world.

Panther in the Sun is a powerful story of courage, love, determination, and reconciliation.

John Comfort has drawn much inspiration from his grandfather, George Riser, whose ancestrally-diverse background includes Oglala Lakota Sioux bloodlines. George was an orphan, he endured great hardship during the Great Depression, and he fought as an elite Frogman in the island campaign of World War II.


My Review:

Panther in the Sun by John Comfort is a truly powerful story about a Native American (Panther in the Sun) and his family. Many events take place and they’re not predictable. The story is very fast paced and a brisk read. It’s full of suspense and surprises. I can truly see this turned into a movie.

I had many emotions while reading the book and found it extremely impelling. This is the kind of book you sit down to read, and you don’t get back up for a really long time! You start to read and then remain because the story is that engaging.

I love the cover, writing style, and storyline. I loved it from beginning to end and I’m hoping for another book!

Thanks to the author, John Comfort, for sharing a copy with me.

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You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: bookgenesis press (October 4, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0996947043
  • ISBN-13: 978-0996947046

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday – September 21st – Panther in the Sun by John Comfort”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Funky Monkey Cacao Smoothie – Paw Tracks in the Moonlight by Denis O’Connor

Happy Wednesday! I have a new book to share this week along with a newly discovered delicious smoothie!

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This recipe comes from a book I’ll be reviewing later on. So far, the book is amazing and I’ve enjoyed a few recipes which will be keepers. If you’d like to add this book, you can find it on Goodreads, Amazon, and many other retailers. Mine is the hardcover edition.

Healing Tonics, Juices, and Smoothies

100+ Elixirs to Nurture Body and Soul

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Find it on Goodreads and Amazon


I decided to make this Funky Monkey smoothie because I absolutely love Cacao!

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For those of you who don’t already know, cacao beans are fully raw cocoa beans. It’s the purest form of chocolate that you can consume and it’s delicious! It’s truly one of my favorite raw foods. We are using the nibs and powder in this recipe.

The Ingredients:

1 cup mylk (how it’s spelled in the book)

1 1/2 frozen bananas

1 Tbsp raw cacao powder

2 Tbsp almond butter

1 Tbsp Raw Honey or other liquid sweeteners

1 Tbsp raw cacao nibs

Here’s a picture of the ingredients and directions:

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Here’s what I did:

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I added in my soaked almonds for the milk and the frozen banana.

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I added in the cacao powder. I can’t give you a brand because my label is gone, but there are many brands online. I picked mine up from a health food store.

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I added in the almond butter.

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I just found this new raw honey at Costco. Great price!

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Blend it up well.

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Then, I added in the nibs and blended for just a few seconds to crunch them up a bit. You want the smoothie to be a little chunky. Here’s the brand I use.

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Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Funky Monkey Cacao Smoothie – Paw Tracks in the Moonlight by Denis O’Connor”

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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BeFunky Design

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”

Shabby Sunday: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – 1991

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Today is my 5th Shabby Sunday! To see all the Shabby Sunday books that I’ve chosen, please click on ‘Shabby Sunday’ under categories.


Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then, I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


 

Today’s shabby share is:

Outlander

by Diana Gabaldon

1991

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I chose this book because believe it or not, it was written in 1991 – 26 years ago! My copy is the first edition from 1991. I love the cover.

Blurb: Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another…

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life …and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

My Thoughts:

Claire Randall is a nurse living in Scotland with Frank, her husband, just after the end of World War II. Frank is absorbed in studying his family tree and tracking one of his ancestors named “Black Jack” Randall. Claire has an interest in Botany and studies plants along with their healing factors.

One day, Claire comes across a stone circle called Craigh na Dun.

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While there, she discovers a plant and can’t stop thinking about it. She comes back another day to collect the plant near the stones and hears one of the stones scream. One after another, they all scream. Something strange is happening and Claire wakes up in Scotland, but in 1743. She witnesses men in kilts and a man that looks like Frank but isn’t. Quickly, Claire is taken away by a band of Scotsmen and this is where she meets Jamie, a man she’ll soon have to marry if she wants to survive.

 

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Claire and Jamie from the series on STARZ

 

This was an outstanding book that kept me entertained throughout. I was completely immersed in this story from start to finish. I loved Claire and Jamie’s smart, yet stubborn characters and enjoyed the formation of their relationship. All the characters had good development with some that I loved and some that I hated, but most were unforgettable. The pacing was perfect and never once did I want to stop reading, except for the few parts I found a tad difficult to read.

Some consider this a romance novel, but I think of it more as historical fiction. It does have a good amount of romance, but so much more than that. I’m not a history buff, but it seems that Diana Gabaldon has really done her research with this series and has spun a tale that can’t be forgotten.

My rating on this one is 5-stars.

5 Sterne


 

Add it on Goodreads or find this edition on Amazon

You can find many editions of this series on Amazon, eBay, and many other sites.

This edition is:

  • Hardcover: 627 pages
  • 1991 Delacorte Press – Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing
  • ISBN 0-385-30230-4

Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – 1991”

#Blog Tour #Book Review – The Spell of the Horse by Pam Billinge

I was very lucky to be able to participate in the blog tour for The Spell of the Horse, a book written by Pam Billinge. This blog tour is organized by Blackbird Digital Books.

 

The Spell of the Horse by Pam Billinge

Stories of Healing and Personal Transformation with Nature’s Finest Teachers

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Blurb:

The ability of the horse to sense emotion, energy and spirit is way beyond what most of the human world realises. A must-read for those wishing to understand the spiritual connection between horses and humans.

When Pam’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she began to notice the way her horse responded to her emotional turmoil. Thus began an exploration into the spiritual relationship between horses and humans and their infinite capacity to help us heal. Building on her remarkable discoveries, Pam began her pioneering work as a horse-led coach and therapist. By sharing her own path to redemption through personal tragedy, and other stories of healing inspired by the incredible interactions she has observed between horse and human, Pam puts forward her uplifting insights about the true nature of the horse, setting out some simple principles to help the reader transcend life’s challenges.

Discover the lessons which horse behaviour have taught the author about

* managing anxiety
* surviving bereavement
* letting go of fear and finding courage to live with joy and purpose
* listening to inner wisdom without over thinking dilemmas, allowing the right things to happen in life without force

This memoir will appeal to fans of The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, The Wild Other by Clover Stroud and H is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald. Pam Billinge is a body psychotherapy professional and leadership coach at the top of her game in the UK field of horse-led therapy.


My Thoughts:

I’ve been a horse owner for part of my life and have always found the relationship between horse and human to be something very special. After reading this book, I understand even more how horses can sense our emotions because we are transparent and they react to them in many different ways. I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression in the past and I’ve discovered first hand how animals, including horses, can assist us in many ways. They are there for us in our time of need and can help us discover our true self. They have the power to help us heal.

“My body and soul were moving to a different rhythm. The self-pity had gone. My vitality was back. I was thankful for every breath I took in this incredible world. I was under the spell, the spell of the Horse. Healing had commenced.”

Pam Billinge has written a book about her own journey to heal and achieve happiness. She writes about her experiences with horses and horse therapy. While struggling herself, she works with people who are having problems in their lives and the horse, in turn, helps them discover what’s wrong. Horses respond to their emotions and after working with them, they begin to ask themselves what they need to change in their own life trajectories and why things are the way they are with their family, relationships, career, or life in general.

I found The Spell of the Horse emotional at times, especially when it seemed that the author’s life was in a downward spiral. The book contains some of the author’s experience with challenging relationships, tragedy, love, death, and mourning. Some of my favorite parts in the book involved the discovery.

“Our spirit, our essence, is about being. It is the life that pulses and ripples within us. It is what is left when the heart beats no more. It is something that is sensed, and something of the senses. It is something which resonates, which vibrates. It is a silent music, and the emotions and feelings that animate us during life are the notes, the chords, and the crescendos of that symphony.”

The Spell of the Horse can be cherished by those who work with horses or enjoy horses in general, but it can also help anyone discover that healing is real. Readers will discover how others have changed their direction in life and have become happier people because of it. They’ve taken control, and all because of the spell of the horse.

My rating is:

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Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Blackbird Digital Books (September 18, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0995473552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0995473553

About the Author:

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The first horses which Pam became fascinated by were ridden by the mounted policemen she would see passing her childhood home in Liverpool on the way to supervise football matches. Little did she know, then, how these magnificent creatures would influence her adult life, not only supporting her through a number of personal tragedies, but also leading to her pioneering work in horse-led psychotherapy and coaching.

In her first book, The Spell of the Horse, Pam shares her memoir and other stories inspired by the incredible interactions she has observed between horse and human. Thus she reveals the true nature of the horse whilst delivering some simple principles to help the reader transcend life’s challenges to live with purpose, self-belief and joy.

Find Pam Billinge on:

Facebook | Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Continue reading “#Blog Tour #Book Review – The Spell of the Horse by Pam Billinge”

Throwback Thursday – September 14th -The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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This week’s Pick is…

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel 

by Louise Murphy

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Blurb: In the last months of the Nazi occupation of Poland, two children are left by their father and stepmother to find safety in a dense forest. Because their real names will reveal their Jewishness, they are renamed “Hansel” and “Gretel.” They wander in the woods until they are taken in by Magda, an eccentric and stubborn old woman called “witch” by the nearby villagers. Magda is determined to save them, even as a German officer arrives in the village with his own plans for the children. Combining classic themes of fairy tales and war literature, this haunting novel of journey and survival, of redemption and memory, powerfully depicts how war is experienced by families and especially by children, and tells a resonant, riveting story.

My thoughts…

It’s nearly the end of the Nazi occupation of Poland and a father must abandon his children near a forest so that they can search for safety from the Germans. On the journey, they meet Magda, the so-called village witch. Magda is willing to risk her life and others to keep the children safe.

“The wheel turns. Blue above, green below, we wonder a long way, but love is what the cup of our soul contains when we leave the world and the flesh. This we will drink forever. I know. I am Magna. I am the witch.”

Hansel and Gretel has been a favorite fairy tale since childhood. It was most definitely one of the scariest. The way the author has taken the fairy tale, re-imagined it, and paired it with the evil nightmare of WWII is fascinating. The story feels so authentic. It’s incredible to me how the author has a way of keeping to the original story of Hansel and Gretel throughout, consistently hovering around elements true to the original fairy tale.

The story itself is dark and twisted and highlights the true evil doing against the Jewish, Gypsies, and dissidents during WWII. It was nothing like what I expected. I had an idea of the plot, but there’s so much more to the story. Parts of the story were so hard to get through, but I loved the characters especially Magda, Nelka, Telek, Hansel, and Gretel. Magna was surely my most prized character. The beautiful prose and specific elements reminded me of The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, which is one of my favorite books of 2017.

There are discussion questions and an interview with the author at the conclusion which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m not sure why it’s listed as having 320 pages. My book has 297 plus a few more for interview and discussion.

This book gets 5-stars from me…

5 Sterne


 

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Paperback: 297 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; First Edition edition (July 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142003077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142003077

 

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Continue reading “Throwback Thursday – September 14th -The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy”

Shabby Sunday: The Tall Book of Mother Goose – 1942

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Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then, I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

The Tall Book of Mother Goose

by Feodor Rojankovsky (Illustrator)

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I’ve had this book since I was very young and can still remember climbing up on the couch to read it with my grandfather. It was published in 1942 and was a part of the school library where my grandfather worked as a teacher and principal. The book was even used by my mother and her siblings. It’s now a part of my home library.

There are over 100 nursery rhymes in this book. Some of my favorites are “The House That Jack Built,” “Old Mother Hubbard,” and “Old King Cole.” My absolute favorite in the entire book is “Sing a Song of Sixpence.”

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My grandfather wouldn’t just read this one, he would sing it. We didn’t even have to be reading the book; we would dance around singing it. It’s a wonderful memory and I’m happy to have this book to share with my kids.

Some of the illustrations are in color and some in black and white. The book is definitely tall at about 12 inches. This 1942 edition is about 120 pages.

My rating is 5-stars.

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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: The Tall Book of Mother Goose – 1942”

The White Raven by Carrie D. Miller – Author Interview + Book Review

Recently I read The White Raven by Carrie D. Miller. You can read my book review and the interview I did with the author below.

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The White Raven

by Carrie D. Miller

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Blurb: In her thirteenth life, Aven has settled into the now witchcraft-friendly Salem where she has found true happiness and friendship, maybe even love. Despite her contentment, the truth of Aven’s existence haunts her. When she dies, her Spirit is forced from the Veil to live again in the body of a stranger.

Does the elusive white raven, who has shadowed Aven through each of her lives, hold the secret to her release–or is it the cause?

To make matters worse, an unrelenting, twisted evil from Aven’s past lurks closely behind her. Sustained by his hatred of the witch, he won’t give up until she’s paid for what she did to him.

When the truth of Aven’s connection to the white raven is revealed, it is more horrifying than she could ever have imagined.

Her freedom will come at a terrible price. And even then, will she truly be free?

  • Paperback: 410 pages
  • Publisher: FiveFold Press; First edition (April 28, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1947024019
  • ISBN-13: 978-1947024014

My Review:

Aven is living the happiest life she’s ever had, and she’s had twelve others before. She lives with memories from her past lives and unfortunately her deaths too, including the remembrance of her murderer-Morris Stiles.

“This is the happiest I’ve ever been. I have been through so much pain and suffering in my previous lives, but here I feel like I’ve finally found a place where I belong and can thrive. When the recurring dread and despair that this life will end too soon creep into my mind, I pack them back down tightly. I’ve set aside all thoughts of my curse for now. I will make this a good life.”

Aven’s been cursed to continue living on Earth no matter how many times she dies. In this life, she’s settled down in Salem and owns a little shop where she does readings and sells magickal items. She has Jo- her very close and supportive friend who accepts her for who she is and has true power herself, Cal- a man who’s just come into the picture and might be just what Aven needs, and the white raven- who seems to follow her wherever she goes, but she cannot see it.

“He’s always around you, you know,” she says absently, looking off behind me again. “I know.” I don’t turn around; he won’t be there. “But he never shows himself. This has been going on for several lifetimes. I think almost all of them.” I can’t remember a time when the bird wasn’t there.”

Everything seems to be perfect until suddenly something haunts Aven from her past. Will she overcome it? How will she ever break this curse of living over and over again?

This book is written well and I thought the character development was perfect. The characters are memorable and I must say, Aven ended up being my favorite character in the book. She’s so strong-minded and doesn’t let anything stop her from using her magick. She has a strong and important message to be who YOU want to be. I loved Maggie – her canine companion, Jo, and Sylvia as well. I cherished all the details, descriptions and imagery that really pull you in and make you feel like you’re living the story. The author managed to add a little bit of everything here–romance, magick, jealousy, friendship, evil, and love. This is the perfect book to read this time of year, especially with all the magick and Halloween elements. I’m hopeful there’s going to be a sequel and I’ll definitely be reading it if there is!

5 Sterne

You can find The White Raven on Goodreads and Amazon

 


 

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Q&A With Carrie D. Miller

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Can you tell readers something interesting about yourself?

Many people have commented on how authentic the magick feels in The White Raven. Well, truth be told, that’s because I really am a witch. 🙂

Have you always wanted to be an author?

As far back as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a published author.

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

I loved to read. And before I could read, I loved my mother reading to me before I went to sleep.

My favorite as a kid was C.S. Lewis. I read the Chronicles of Narnia over and over.

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

I still love to read. Some of my favorites are James Rollins, the Preston & Child writing duo, and Marie Brennan.

Are there any authors that have inspired your writing?

My tastes change all the time and I take away a little something from every author I read. Who has affected me more recently is Paula Brackston (The Silver Witch, The Witch’s Daughter). Her writing style is like a song in my head.

What have you written so far?

I’ve written many stories over the decades but only completed and published one, The White Raven.

What are some of your writing tactics? Do you outline?

I am a planner! I outline, research, and spreadsheet or diagram as much as I can about the story. I create character dossiers, also. The outline for TWR was 18 pages. I don’t treat the outline as gospel, though. I use it mostly as a guideline. If my writing veers off in other directions, I go with it. I scraped many pages of TWR’s outline because I loved the different directions it went.

Do you do all your own editing?

While I do revise and edit as much as I can, I know what my limitations are. I hire professionals for that kind of stuff.

Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do? 

A year and a half ago, I quit my ‘day job’ to become a full-time writer. I was a vice president of a software company, and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I decided that it was time to take the leap, to take a shot at the dream I’ve had since I was a kid. I have zero regrets.

What do you love most about writing?

I love seeing the story build and grow. I love seeing the characters come alive, watching their unique personalities and behaviors take shape. I love the tingling feeling, the excitement flitting around in my chest as an amazing scene flies out of my fingers.

How do you publish and market your books?

I decided early on that I would self-publish. I am a bit of a control freak, so it made sense for me to go that route in the beginning. I initially published exclusively on Amazon, but in July I expanded to everywhere else – Nook, iTunes, Kobo, etc. I’m running ads on Amazon and Kobo right now.

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

One word: RESEARCH. Don’t just do things blindly. Don’t wing it. Research, research,
research. Follow and observe what other authors are doing, read articles on best practices and the mistakes made by others, and ask questions. That will save you heartache, headaches, and embarrassment in the future. And for heaven’s sake, don’t create your own book cover or rely on only your own editing skills. Hire professionals!

What do you consider literary success?

I have discovered that my definition of literary success has a few levels. My initial success was that I actually published a book! Now that people are buying it and giving it great reviews, that’s a whole new level of success to me. The way that feels in my heart, knowing that people are sitting down on their couches or curled up in their beds with my book in their hands, giving me their precious time, gives me such a feeling of success that I couldn’t have imagined before. My next success will be when I can make my car payment without having to dip into my savings. 😀

What made you decide to write this book?

The creation of this book sprang out of frustration. At the time, years ago, I couldn’t find any books featuring witches that weren’t annoyingly cliche or that didn’t perpetuate the Hollywood or Christian stereotype. I wanted to write the kind of book that I wanted to read. Since then, I’ve discovered several authors that pen wonderful stories featuring witches and magick that I just love, so I’m very happy with the shift that’s taken place over the years.

Can you tell us about the covers for The White Raven and who designed them?

The original book cover was designed by an artist, Helen Lloyd (http://www.helenlloyd.com), from England who specializes in animals. I had seen an amazing pencil drawing of a crow and knew she would be the one to bring Ren to life. I kept the original cover for about 3 months.

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After doing some more research on how book covers should be done, I decided to go a different route with it. The new design was done by Damonza (http://www.damonza.com) and I’m thrilled with it.

Are you working on anything now and what are your future writing plans?

I’m 23k words into a story involving copper pennies, dead criminals, a bad guy wanting to do bad things involving demons, an old woman’s spirit held in a cracked crystal ball, and twin red-headed sisters who know nothing about magick but have to stop the bad guy from doing bad things with his own spell book they can’t read. It’s set mostly in modern-day Prague and Boston but will venture back into the 1930s. I foresee these sisters becoming a series. Two or three books, I think.

Do you think your writing will remain in the fantasy genre?

Probably but I do have a science fiction idea in my head. Maybe one day I’ll resurrect the high fantasy I started 15+ years ago. I even created a world map. It’s pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

Is Halloween a special time for you and an inspiration for writing this magickal book with Halloween elements?

I absolutely love Halloween. Not just because it’s my birthday either. If I could dress in costume all the time and have my home decorated for Halloween all year long and not be looked at like a crazy person, I would totally do it.

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Do you have a special connection with Salem or have you visited there?

I’ve visited it twice. Once because I was in Boston on business and the second time as research for the book.

How much research did you do for The White Raven and how long did it take you to write it?

As they say, write what you know! I didn’t do that much research for the witchcraft aspects of the book. I am a witch myself, so I knew much of this already. I needed help from my sisters in the Craft when it came to the past life rituals, of which I knew nothing, and the selection of a stone to shield energy. And I’m not very good with auras so I researched online what colors are associated with deep negative emotions. Although I had been to Salem before, I went back there to specifically research the area for the book. All-in-all, it took me about 3 months to write the whole thing, minus the few chapters I’d written over the years, which got mostly rewritten.

Is there a book trailer for The White Raven or do you intend on making one?

I’ve considered it but no, it’s not in my plan. It’s a costly endeavor, especially since I want movie-quality awesomeness.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

The hardest part by far to write was the first sex scene, no pun intended. I ended up having to google how to do it! How much detail do I go into? How far do I go? What euphemisms do I use without sounding corny? I think that first one was rewritten three or four times, thanks to the help of my editor.

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I loved the ending and have to ask, will there be a sequel to The White Raven and when can we expect it?

There will absolutely be a sequel. I hope to get it out sometime in late 2018.

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

Honestly, I had the ending written years ago. I never had any other thoughts on how else it could end. It simply had to end like it did. As for what was edited out, the original manuscript was over 115k words. The final was about 107k. With the guidance of my amazing editor, she helped me streamline scenes and cull bits that did nothing to move the story along or build out a character.

If The White Raven were adapted into a movie, who would you see playing the main characters?

I see Eva Green as Aven, maybe even Kate Beckinsale or Charlize Theron.

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Eva Green

 

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Kate Beckinsale

 

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Charlize Theron

Cal is absolutely Viggo Mortensen.

 

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Viggo Mortensen

Continue reading “The White Raven by Carrie D. Miller – Author Interview + Book Review”

The Lost Boys Vol.1 by Tim Seeley

The Lost Boys Vol.1

by Tim Seeley

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Blurb: In this follow-up to the 1987 cult classic film, horror masters Tim Seeley and Scott Godlewski wade into the bloody, badass world of California vampires for an all-new tale of thrills, chills, and good old-fashioned heart-staking action in THE LOST BOYS VOL. 1!

Welcome to scenic Santa Carla, California. Great beaches. Colorful characters. Killer nightlife. And, of course, all the damn vampires.

The Emerson brothers (Sam and Michael) and the Frog brothers (Edgar and Alan) learned that last part the hard way–these underage slayers took on the vampire master Max and his pack of punked-out minions, and drove a stake right through their plans to suck Santa Carla dry. After scraping the undead goo off their shoes, they figured everything was back to normal.

But now there are new vamps in town.

A coven of female undead called the Blood Belles has moved in, and they’ve targeted Sam, Michael, the Frog Brothers, and every other vampire hunter in Santa Carla for bloody vengeance.

It’ll take every trick in the brothers’ monster-killing book to stop these bloodsuckers from unleashing an entire army of the damned. And they’ll need help from an unexpected source–a certain shirtless sax-playing savior known only as the Believer!

Do you still believe? Collects #1-6.

  • Series: Lost Boys
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Vertigo (August 15, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401271456
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401271459

Find this on Goodreads and Amazon


My Review:

As soon as I saw this, I had to pick it up. I went straight to Amazon and bought it. Being a child of the 80s, “The Lost Boys” was one of my favorite movies. I couldn’t wait to read this.

The story starts out right after the end of the first movie with a little short recap and David had just been defeated along with Max and the rest of the clan. Sam is working at Fantasy World Comics and having a discussion with a customer.

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Sam

All is good in Santa Carla, or is it?

The Frog brothers are still practicing their vampire hunting skills along with Grandpa Emerson. Now, there’s a whole new breed of female vampires called the Blood Belles on the loose and they’re looking to kill every vampire hunter in sight.

Can the Frog brothers stop the bloodsuckers before they take over Santa Carla for good?

All the main characters are present in this graphic novel including Sam, Michael, Lucy, Grandpa Emerson, The Frog Brothers, Star, Laddie and a few other surprise characters as well. I thought the graphics were pretty good, my only complaint was that they don’t look as real as the true movie characters like they do on the cover.

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Michael and Star

My favorite character is the awesome Tim Cappello! I’m sure all you fans remember this beefy sax player from the movie, right? He has a significant part in the story. I was pleased with his addition. You can see the original music video for “I Still Believe” from “The Lost Boys” movie below to refresh your memory.

Overall, I’m glad I read it and even had a few laughs. It was nostalgic and I enjoyed revisiting all of my favorite characters from the original movie. The story kept me interested and the graphics were pleasing. This is a good sequel to the movie. It does contain some harsh language and it’s probably best for older teens+

I’ll rate this one 4****

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Continue reading “The Lost Boys Vol.1 by Tim Seeley”

Throwback Thursday – September 7th – The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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-This week’s Pick-

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 the blurb. There aren’t any big 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.

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! 5*****

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  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 18 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Audible.com Release Date: February 10, 2015
  • Whispersync for Voice: Ready
  • Language: English

You can find this on Amazon and Goodreads

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday – September 7th – The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – The Spell of the Horse – Vegan Breakfast Cookies

Hello, everyone! I caught up on most of my reading and made it back this week with a new book and recipe to share with you this morning.

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The recipe I’m sharing is a basic breakfast cookie recipe that I modified to make gluten free. These are delicious, healthy, and so easy to grab on busy mornings. They’re honestly wonderful any time of the day. I have to credit TheMinimalistBaker for this basic recipe even though I modified it. You can see the original unmodified recipe Here.

Ingredients (modified for gluten free +) – Makes about 18

  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour (coconut, arrowroot)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 Tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 Tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tbsp lightly chopped walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free semisweet or dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C).
  2. In a large bowl or mixer, mash the bananas, almond butter, pumpkin puree, oil, and honey until it’s a fairly smooth batter. A mixer works perfectly.
  3. Stir in vanilla, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  4. Add oats, almond meal, and flour. Mix well.
  5. Add chocolate chips, cranberries, and walnuts. Stir until well combined.
  6. Drop cookies by large scoop size on a baking sheet and press down slightly to flatten.
  7. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the cookies are slightly golden brown.
  8. Rest on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Store in an air-tight container to keep fresh for up to 5 days.

Here’s how I made them: I doubled the recipe…

I make my own almond meal. In the processor, it’s so easy. Add in your almonds. About a cup or so.

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Process on high until a meal has formed. It takes about 1 minute.

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This is what I love about this Cuisinart processor. You can use the two top plastic inserts and the full processor remains clean.

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Another tip is to buy your nuts in bulk and keep them in the freezer. Then you’ll always have them when you need them. I just store mine in gallon freezer bags.

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Chop up about 3-4 Tbsp of Walnuts

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I’m using this local nut butter company in Michigan. This stuff is delicious, or you can make your own in the processor the same way you do the meal. It just takes about 12-15 minutes to make. If you have a Vitamix, you can make nut butters in that as well.

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Add in your honey, bananas, pumpkin, and coconut oil. If you’re using a mixer like a Kitchenaid, you don’t need to mash the bananas first.

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Whip it up for a minute until everything is blended and smooth.

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 Add in the vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix it well.

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Now we’re going to add in the flour. I went gluten free on this recipe using a 50/50 mix of arrowroot and coconut flour. Add it in the bowl.

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Coconut flour is very fibrous and can be tricky. Doing a 50/50 mix with another gluten free flour does the trick.

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We’re going to add the flours in the bowl with our almond meal and oats.

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Mix it in good.

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The last ingredients are dark/dairy free chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and walnuts. Mix that up and we’re ready to form the cookies.

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I’m using a regular ice cream scoop to make the cookies very large.

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Evenly space them, press them a little flat, and bake for about 17 minutes.

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These are so delicious.

Crispy on the outside while soft on the inside.

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They are so moist and aren’t dry at all!

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With these breakfast cookies, I’m having a favorite tea by Pukka called “Womankind.” The cranberry, rose, and vanilla flavor goes well with these cookies. If you’d like to see my previous post on brewing perfect tea, click HERE.

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Hope you enjoy!

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Continue for this week’s book!

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – The Spell of the Horse – Vegan Breakfast Cookies”

Award: Sunshine Blogger Award #4

I was recently tagged by Misty@MistysBookSpace for the Sunshine Blogger Award. I’d like to thank her for nominating me! Please check out Misty’s blog for challenges, wrap-ups, book reviews, awards, tags, and more!

What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.

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How Does It Work:

  • Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or on your blog

 

Misty’s Questions:

Q: If you had to choose, would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf? (Yes I am stealing this question from Irena because I am curious about what others would choose.)

A: Oh, that’s easy! Vampire of course!

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Q: What is your favorite kind of bookish merch?

A: I love bookmarks and bags mostly!

Q: If you could only be active on one social media site which would you choose?

A: Hands down -Goodreads!

Q: Do you have any pets? If so I would love to see some pictures of them.

A: I do have many pets. Here are some pictures…

 

Cynder Rae and Mr. Winston

 

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Q: What is your least favorite book of 2017 so far?

A: I’m beating the dead horse with this one, but The Happiest Mommy You Know.

Q: Who is your all time favorite author?

A: Totally unfair! I can’t pick just one. One of them is Jodi Picoult.

Q: Do you have any auto buy authors besides your favorite author?

A: Hmm, I mainly go with favorite authors unless it’s a series I’m reading. If it’s someone that I know that’s written another book, I’ll buy it.

Q: What is your biggest bookish pet peeve?

A: Book abuse. I can’t stand to see new books mistreated. I can deal with vintage books that have wear from the shelf and torn dust jackets because it’s to be expected, but not caring for new books is a big one.

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Q: How many books are on your physical TBR pile?

A: You really don’t want to know. On Goodreads, I’m pushing 10,000. At home, with what I have on my shelves, it’s probably 200 or so…

Q: What is your all time favorite movie?

A: It’s so hard to choose just one. I’ll go with Gladiator. I love everything about that movie and the soundtrack is beautiful. Russell Crowe, Richard Harris, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Neilsen, and Djimon Hounsou are all favorites. Here’s a summary of the movie that does have spoilers and it’s also fairly gory. I’ve never grown tired of this song with Lisa Gerrard. Every time I hear her voice, I’m captivated. You can hear the entire song during this recap of the movie.

Q: Villains or Heros? (Yes I kind of took this from Irena as well sorry she made me curious.)

A: I feel like you really have to like both, right? I always love a good hero though.

Continue for the nominees and questions…

Continue reading “Award: Sunshine Blogger Award #4”