A DIFFERENT POND by Phi Bao is one of the most meaningful children’s books I have ever read. 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

Title: A DIFFERENT POND     

Author: BAO PHI  

Illustrator: THI BUI     

Genre: FICTION, CHILDREN’S FICTION, IMMIGRANT FICTION, MULTICULTURAL FICTION    

Length: 32 PAGES

Publisher: CAPSTONE   

Type of Book: JACKETED PAPER-OVER-BOARD   

Ages: 4 TO 8

Received From: NETGALLEY     

Release Date: AUGUST 2017 

ISBN: 978-1-62370-803-0  

Price: $15.95 U.S. / $19.95 CAN 

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟    

FROM THE BACK COVER:

An unforgettable story about a simple event – a long-ago fishing trip. A young boy wakes early, hours before his father’s long workday begins, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis.

Unlike many anglers, the boy and his father fish for food, not recreation. A successful catch means a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, the boy’s father tells him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam. On these early mornings, the young boy begins the hard work of self discovery. 

MY REVIEW: 

Not only is this book beautifully written and illustrated, but the story within will enchant children while simultaneously evoking a sense of nostalgia in the child’s parents.

Despite the fact that the characters in this gorgeous children’s book are Vietnamese, every child will be able to relate to the main character’s delight in spending time with his father and in the disappointment when he is left behind while his parents go off to work. 

Readers will notice that the father and son are fishing for food, rather than fishing for fun. When they have caught enough fish: 

Dad smiles, his teeth broken and white in the dark, because we have a few fish and he knows we will eat tonight.” 

This line is an opportunity for parents to talk to their children about the immigrant experience and through this discussion, they can help to foster equality and to help eliminate racism in our society. 

Image obtained from http://weneeddiversebooks.org/


It seems trite to say that “Children are our future,” but as cliché as it sounds, it is true.

Books such as this one are important for many reasons. It is important for children of visible minorities to be able to find and read books that show people who look just like them, and that they can relate to. It is equally important that all children are exposed to multicultural books since we live in a multicultural society. 

The illustrations in this book are a cross between a graphic novel and a typical children’s book. This unique illustrative style is the PERFECT accompaniment to the story.  

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 and suggest that all parents, teachers and librarians put this book on their “To Be Purchased list” or that they go ahead and pre-order a copy today. I predict this book will win many awards upon its release. 

*I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

BAO PHI was born in Vietnam and raised in the Phillips neighborhood of South Minneapolis.

He is an author, a poet, a community organizer, and a father.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:  

THI BUI was born in Vietnam and grew up in California and New York. Now all these places are a part of her.

She draws, writes, and teaches. She recently completed her first graphic novel, THE BEST WE COULD DO (Abrams, 2017), which is about her mother and father.

To learn more about this author/illustrator, visit the following links:

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IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE by Leah Weiss is a beautifully written novel set in the Appalachian Mountains – A MUST READ – PRE-ORDER NOW!!!


Title: IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE
Author: LEAH WEISS

Genre: FICTION

Publisher: SOURCEBOOKS LANDMARK

Release Date: AUGUST 8, 2017

ISBN: 9781492647454

Price: $15.99 USD

Type of Book: ARC from Netgalley 

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This is the debut novel written by LEAH WEISS.

Set in the 1970s high in the Appalachian Mountain range sits a small, secluded community struggling to survive and to live their lives as they see fit.

The inhabitant’s lives are not very different from the lives of their ancestors. Down the mountain, people are embracing new technologies and just about everyone has a car, indoor plumbing and telephones are installed in every home. Not so on the mountain. Outhouses are still in use and the mountain folk have no desire for the intrusion that improvements might bring.

In fact, outsiders are treated with scorn and suspicion. Children are taught in a one-room schoolhouse that in theory sounds quaint and idyllic, but in reality is anything but.

Teachers arrive with the best of intentions, but soon run away with their tails tucked between their legs  when they discover the harsh reality of mountain life. Their leaving could also have something to do with the fact that the last teacher’s home mysteriously caught fire in the middle of the night and burned to the ground.

With character names such as Marris, Gladys, Sadie and Otis Blue, the author creates a sense of living in the past. There are too many characters and too many intertwined storylines to mention them here, but Leah Weiss has crafted a complex but believable and haunting tale that will tug at your heartstrings and make you shake your head in both exasperation and disbelief.

IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE is as harsh and unapologetic as the immovable mountains. Leah Weiss has a gift for character building and the people who live on the mountain come alive on every page. Even the way the characters talk comes through as raw and authentic. For example, Sadie’s grandmother Gladys says, “From the start there’s been a film of dingy on my days. I’ve always done woman’s work; man’s work, too. Woke up with work to do, went to bed before it got done … I been chained to an iron life.”

My favourite line in the book was when Gladys says that her friend is as annoying and clingy as chickenshit on shoes.

I rate IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE as 5 out of 5 stars and predict that we will see this book at the top of the Bestseller lists as soon as it is released.  🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


Thank you to 
Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.


MY FAVOURITE QUOTES:


“Only got the clothes on her back and a backbone that won’t bend.”


“Ugly talk follows Roy like fleas on a mangy dog. He’s a spiteful, small-minded man who drinks hard and plays for keeps.”   


“Truth always hurts and it’s extra hard to look at late in life.”


“She’s got lessons to learn, and life’s one bugger of a teacher.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
(In her own words – copied from her website)

Leah Weiss’s roots are deep, simple and southern. 

They started where my mama Lucy was born on a tobacco farm in the flatlands of eastern North Carolina. She was one of fifteen siblings raised without electricity or indoor plumbing. My daddy, a Marine from Cherry Point, saw my mama a handful of times. Then he married her on her eighteenth birthday in 1944. They settled near her family where my sister and I were born in a farming town, where neighborhoods were divided by train tracks and held together by church and traditions.Just about everybody we knew was kin.

When I was ten, we left Carolina and moved to Virginia when my grandpop died. We moved in with Nana, and on the empty lot next door my parents built us a four-room home, sawing, hammering and painting. They were self-sufficient and hardworking people with humble dreams.

In my childhood days, I fell in love with Nancy Drew mystery books. Every spare moment was spent between the covers of those blue books solving crimes and thinking that could be me. If my name was Nancy. If I had a roadster. If I was five years older. I have nineteen of those early Nancy Drew books on my bookshelf. They hooked me on the pull of imagination.

But my world wasn’t Nancy Drew’s world. I took piano lessons that led to a scholarship that took me to Dunbarton College in Washington DC in the second half of the turbulent sixties. Our Nation’s Capital was in chaos over Vietnam, racial strife and women’s equality. Marches and sit-ins were the norm in that time of unrest. A year after college, I married, had a son, taught music, and wrote articles for a magazine. Two decades later, I divorced then took the job of executive assistant to the Headmaster at Virginia Episcopal School that lasted my next twenty-four years.

In those years, I wrote memoirs and fiction whose rules weren’t always clear. I attended writing conferences and workshops, haunted bookstores and studied my favorite authors. I cut my writing teeth on a novel that didn’t sell and a string of short stories that did. Eventually, I found.my writing voice. No surprise, it’s southern and musical and best when read aloud. It is always about people who are self-sufficient and hard working with humble dreams.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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ZENN DIAGRAM by Wendy Brant will pull you in and won’t let you go. A 5 Star Must Read Book!

Title: ZENN DIAGRAM

Author: WENDY BRANT       

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION

Length: 328 PAGES

Publisher: KIDS CAN PRESS 

Release Date: APRIL 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-792-7 Hardcover

List Price: USD $17.95, CAD $18.95

Grades: 9 To 12 / Ages: 14 to 18  

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟   

Unique. Utterly readable, with awesome characters and a guy that teen girls will have crushes on. Zenn is the latest book-boyfriend of choice.

Eva Walker’s life is unlike anyone elses. She is a loner, a math nerd, an orphan and she feels like a freak. Out of all these labels, the most significant one is Eva’s loner status.

You would think the math nerd status would be the reason she was a loner – not so. Eva is a loner by choice. Why? Well, she has a gift (curse?) Anytime Eva touches someone, or even touches someone’s property, such as a cell phone, she immediately knows all about them – including their secrets and their fears.

Now, some may think that this would be an amazing gift to have, but it never turns off. Imagine going on a date and having to listen to the guy’s dirty thoughts about you the entire time you’re with him. Yuck!

The only time that Eva is thankful for this strange ability is when she is tutoring someone in math. She just has to touch their calculator and she knows exactly what they are struggling with. This makes her an excellent tutor. It is through her tutoring that she meets Zenn.

When she is assigned to tutor Zenn Bennett, she is nervous. Who wouldn’t be? Zenn is absolutely gorgeous and he does it without even trying.

When she accidentally touches Zenn’s jacket she is rocked by what she sees. The violence of the vision is like nothing she has ever seen or felt before.

Eva must decide whether or not to confront Zenn and the horrifying vision or whether to keep it to herself and stay safe; but alone.

This novel has so many twists and turns that readers will never be bored and they will not want to put this book down.

There is romance, there is tragedy, there is guilt, remorse, fear and mystery. This book has it all.

Author Wendy Brant has written a young adult novel that will suck you in from the very first chapter. Both her world-building and her character development are top notch.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in a single sitting. I must warn potential readers that once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop, so you should make sure you set aside some time to curl up with this fantastic book.

I rate ZENN DIAGRAM as 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

*Thank you to the author for providing me with a free copy of this book.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: (In Her Own Words):

So my name alone should give you a clue that I graduated from high school when bangs were big and clothes were baggy. I went to Northwestern University and majored in journalism even though I had no desire to be a journalist. I’ve been married to a great guy for a whole drinking-aged person’s life. I’ve got two amazing and yet very different (and very tall) teenage kids. I like crappy food, pinning inspirational quotes on Pinterest, have a tendency to start paragraphs with “anyway”, and I wish I were funnier. I would love to be one of those really, REALLY funny bloggers (like Insane in the Mom-Brain) that makes you pee yourself a little bit. I am only moderately funny. I admit that. It’s one of my great sadnesses in life.

​​I started writing fiction when I was 10, but tried to be practical with the whole journalism thing. Didn’t take. Shortly after college, the fiction-writing desire reared its non-practical head and I’ve been writing ever since.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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A New MUST READ Young Adult novel that will have adult readers fondly thinking about growing up in the 80s. THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is available now!


 
Title: THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS

Author: JASON REKULAK     

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION  (THE 1980s)

Length: 285 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER 

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: SIMON AND SCHUSTER through the Goodreads Giveaway program

Cover Design: WILL STAHLE

Release Date: FEBRUARY 7, 2017

ISBN: 9781501166839

Rating:   5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟     

  

I LOVED THIS BOOK. Although THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is targeted at young adult readers, anyone who, like me, grew up in the 1980s will find this book a trip down memory lane.

Jason Rekulak may be a debut author, but it is obvious that his years working as an editor for Quark Books embued him with an excellent sense of the proper balance between the plot and character development.

Will Marvin and his two best friends are the ultimate underdogs. It’s 1986 and Vanna White is the ultimate girl next door. When the boys learn that she is featured in Playboy magazine, they are determined to get copies.

Will is a nerd. I can relate. I remember taking classes in Basic Code and doing anything on a computer took hours and hours of entering programming code. But, Will loves it. Hos ultimate life goal is to design video games for a living.

Then he meets Mary Zelinsky. She is a computer nerd too. Will is stunned. He had no idea that there were girls who liked computers. Remember – this was the 80s and women were still battling the secretary stereotype.

Can Will get the girl, perfect his video game called The Impossible Fortress, and get his hands on the dirty pictures of Vanna White?

This novel will have adult readers waxing nostalgic for the less complicated days of their youth and both adults and young adults alike will be able to relate to the terror and elation of discovering the opposite sex for the first time.

THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is liberally sprinkled with pop culture references and readers will find themselves digging out their old mixed-tapes.

I absolutely loved this book and I will be recommending it to all my friends. I doubt this is the last we have heard from debut author Jason Rekulak and I, for one, can’t wait to read whatever he comes up with next.

I rate this book with an enthusiastic 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Now, I’m off to my basement to try to find my old Atari system. I can’t wait to play Space Invaders – old school style.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

 

JASON REKULAK was born and raised in New Jersey. He has worked for many years at Quirk Books, where he edits a variety of fiction and non-fiction.

He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two children. THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is his first novel.

To learn more and to play a version of The Impossible Fortress game, visit his website.

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NEWLY RELEASED – THE PROMISE GIRLS by Bestselling Author MARIE BOSTWICK is worthy of a 5 Star Rating – Check out this review to find out why…

Title: THE PROMISE GIRLS   

Author: MARIE BOSTWICK

Genre: FICTION, WOMEN’S FICTION

Length: 352 PAGES

Publisher: KENSINGTON BOOKS  
Release Date: MARCH 28, 2017 

ISBN: 978-1-4967-0921-9 

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Joanie and her little sisters Meg and Avery were paraded across th5e United States in the 80s as children who were supposedly prodigies.

Their mother, Minerva Promise, had designer engineered them in the UK as test-tube babies before the technology was even available in the United States. A few years later, Minerva then wrote and released a book called THE PROMISE GIRLS, which trumpeted the fact that she was the  mother of three artistic prodigies. Minerva’s book argued that nature and nurture both play equally important roles in fostering genius.

Minerva was a single mother who carefully chose the sperm donors for her children based on what she wanted. And she wanted prodigies – one in art, one in music and one in writing.

Now, twenty years later the Promise Girls have no contact with their mother and do NOT want any. But Minerva has her sights set on the girls participating in a documentary and plans to ride on the girl’s coat-tails once again.

This book is character driven. Marie Bostwick has a gift for creating characters who are so believable and so realistic that as you read the book, you find yourself forgetting that they are not real. In fact, it is impossible not to begin to care for the Promise girls and to hope for them to find happiness and success.

It is not just the characters themselves that will draw readers in. The story is excellent and utterly believable. The events in this book could easily have happened to any family.

So, the characters are amazing, the story believable and compelling – that is all you need, right? Wrong! Added to all the great things I have already mentioned, I need to add that there is much more to this book. Family dynamics, a mystery to wonder about, a past to discover,  romance, tragedy, and emotionally charged scenes all combine to create an extraordinary book that I believe will become a Bestseller.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free advance copy of this book. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 


(Biography and picture copied from http://www.mariebostwick.com)

On the path to becoming a novelist, Marie Bostwick worked in the bean fields of Oregon, sang and danced in musical productions, acted in TV commercials, taught religion to deaf children, ran an event-planning business, worked as the scheduler for a U.S. Senator and directed women’s ministries for a large church.

But as diverse and enriching as these experiences were, it was a conversation with a stranger back in 1994 that pointed Marie toward her true calling.

Then the mother to three active young sons, Marie went on a much-needed vacation to a resort with some girlfriends. While there, she decided to attend a writer’s workshop, “not from any desire to become a writer,” she said, “but as a way to avoid playing tennis with my friends. I’m hopelessly unathletic.” At the end of the week the instructor approached her, and thinking she was a professional writer, asked what she’d published.

“I just laughed. I told him that I was a mom, and the only thing I wrote was grocery lists.” The instructor insisted that whether Marie knew it or not, she was a writer. Marie thanked him for the compliment, saying she wasn’t a writer, just someone who hadn’t fired her imaginary friends when she grew up. “Then he leaned toward me and said, ‘Well, what do you think writers are?’ That got my attention. I think I realized then that he was onto something, that my secret identity had finally been unmasked.”

The signs were there from an early age. A voracious reader by the age of three, Marie said one of her first literary endeavors was a screenplay she wrote for “Camelot” before she was old enough to attend public school. The musical was a favorite of Marie’s, and, not having seen the movie, she wrote her own story to go with the music she’d heard on her grandmother’s record player. In high school, Marie wrote short stories and “a lot of sad, self-absorbed teenage poetry,” which earned her the school English award.

Born in Eugene, Oregon, the youngest of four sisters experienced a life of comfort in her early years, then financial hardships after her parents’ divorce. But childhood summers spent working in the fields taught her industry and the dignity of good, hard work. They also provided the insight into the hearts and minds of small communities, the settings for her novels.

Marie dedicated four years to writing FIELDS OF GOLD. Published in 2005 by Kensington Books, FIELDS OF GOLD was a finalist for the prestigious Oklahoma Book Award and for RT BOOKclub magazine’s Best Historical Saga Award. RIVER’S EDGE won the Golden Quill Award, was a finalist for a National Readers’ Choice Award and was an alternate selection of the Literary Guild. Her novellas, A HIGH-KICKING CHRISTMAS and THE PRESENTS OF ANGELS, which were included, respectively, in the holiday anthologies COMFORT AND JOY and SNOW ANGELS, appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.

Drawing on her lifelong love of quilting and themes of special relevance to modern women, Marie’s Cobbled Court Quilt series has gained a dedicated following among quilters as well as those who’ve never threaded and needle and don’t plan to try. The first book in the series, A SINGLE THREAD, published in 2008, is now in its sixteenth printing. That book, as well the third book in the series, A THREAD SO THIN, were included in Reader’s Digest Select Editions. A THREAD OF TRUTH (2009) was named an “Indie Next Notable” book by the members of the Independent Bookseller’s Association. TIES THAT BIND has been nominated as Best Mainstream Novel of 2012 by RT BOOK Reviews Magazine. In 2014, Marie was recognized for Career Achievement in Mainstream Novels award by the same organization.

Marie enjoys volunteering to help others. When she was twenty-five, she became the first president of a new chapter of Habitat for Humanity in Georgia. When living in Mexico, she served as the volunteer director of development for Manos de Ayuda (Helping Hands), a medical mission to the poor. She continues to volunteer her time to various church and community organizations today and was proud to serve a three-year term on the board of the Quilt Alliance.

“It feels like the rest of my life and experiences were the lessons that I had to master so I could do this thing I was truly meant to do,” Marie said, adding, “I can’t imagine being anything but a writer.”

Marie lives in Oregon with Brad, her husband of thirty-five years. When not writing, she enjoys quilting, reading, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and especially playing with her grandsons. Marie travels extensively, speaking at libraries, bookstores, quilt guilds, and at quilt shows. She has been a featured speaker at the Paducah Quilt Festival and the Houston International Quilt Festival and has given keynote addresses at both the Florida Writers Association and La Jolla Writers conferences.

To find out more about this amazingly talented and prolific author, visit the following links: 

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  

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CHAPTERS      

THIS IS NOT MY LIFE: 

Title: THIS IS NOT MY LIFE

Subtitle: A MEMOIR OF LOVE, PRISON, AND OTHER COMPLICATIONS    

Author: DIANE SCHOEMPERLEN

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHY, MEMOIR, CANADIAN NON-FICTION

Length: 351 PAGES   

Publisher: HARPER COLLINS 

Release Date: FEBRUARY 7, 2017

ISBN:  978-1-44343-420-1  

Price:  $24.99 CDN

How I Received This Book: This book was one I purchased for myself at CHAPTERS

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟   

Any memoir that begins with the words this one does is bound to be both interesting and shocking. Author Diane Schoemperlen is NOT the type of woman who I pictured as one that would fall in love with a man in prison – especially one who had been convicted of murder. I’m not sure who I thought of as the type to fall for a prisoner, I just know that a well-known author and journalist would be the furthest choice from my mind.

Diane’s memoir begins in 2006 with the following sentence:


“It is safe to say that never once in my life had I dreamed of being in bed with a convicted killer, let alone one with his teeth in a margarine container in the kitchen, his mother in the next room, and the word HI! tattooed in tiny blue letters on his penis.”

Now, if that sentence does not make you want to read more, then, this review is probably not for you either.

I was intrigued.

What would an educated and highly intelligent woman find attractive about a convicted killer? What the heck was wrong in her life that she would see prison as a viable dating venue? How could she ever feel safe around him?

Diane met Shane at a soup kitchen where they both volunteered. He was still incarcerated, but he was allowed out while escorted by a nun to work at the soup kitchen. No one, Diane least of all, had any idea what his crime had been or how long he had been in jail. In fact, at first, she thought he was just another volunteer.

Eventually Diane and the rest of the volunteers learned the reason he was in prison. Diane describes the moment like this:


“This was when we finally learned why he’d ended up in prison in the first place and that he’d been there for almost thirty years. Now we understood that in the language of tattoos, the tear-drop below his left eye meant he had killed someone. Now we knew he was serving a life sentence for second-degree murder. Whatever initial alarm we might have felt about this was tempered by the fact that it had happened so long ago and that he had become an essential and popular part of the kitchen crew. We saw him as a person who had paid his debt to society and deserved a second chance.”

This blows me away. I cannot say for sure what my reaction would have been, but I doubt that learning Shane had killed someone is something that I would have been able to overlook. But, that is the exact reason why I wanted to read this book. Well, that and the fact that author Diane Schoemperlen is not only Canadian, but she and I live in the same province (Ontario) and our homes are only a three hour drive apart.

I found this memoir to be compelling reading. Diane does not shy away from difficult topics. She opens the readers eyes to what life is like for those incarcerated in Canada’s prisons and how these prisoners become institutionalized. What I had never considered before was how the loved ones of these inmates end up institutionalized as well.

Yes, this book contains details about the often ridiculous world that is Canada Corrections, but it is ultimately a story about the desire for love and acceptance and to the lengths people will go in their quest to achieve those feelings and the seemingly bizarre choices they make that they normally would not. 

Diane Schoemperlen’s memoir is beautifully written and well thought out. Since it is written after the relationship ended I do however believe that she has glossed over many of the events. But I also believe that she did not do so with the intention of deceiving readers, rather because, in her own mind, she didn’t want to sensationalize her fear. It is human nature to downplay fear-filled moments after the fact – I believe this is an unconscience psychological defense mechanism. 

Clipping from THE TORONTO STAR



MORE THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK


*** Caution – This section may contain spoilers ***

I have done some research and I believe I know exactly who “Shane” is and if I am right, he committed multiple murders, multiple prison escapes and multiple robberies. However, whether he killed one person or three people, he is still a murderer who was sentenced to life in prison. I also do not believe the bit about his “teardrop tattoo.” I think this was included to throw off those who might be curious as to “Shane’s” actual identity. 

Despite the sentence of life in prison, somehow “Shane” is now allowed to live and work amongst the rest of us. WHY?

Personally, I used to naively believe that when someone was sentenced to life in prison, that they would actually remain in prison until they died. SILLY ME!!! I guess I should have known better. I could probably rant for many, many more paragraphs about why I think it is wrong to allow murderers to be free to walk the streets of my home  province, but I will refrain from doing so here in my review of THIS IS NOT MY LIFE by reknowned author Diane Schoemperlen.

Suffice it to say that Diane’s book/memoir is a MUST READ. This is true not only for those who love a good read, but also for everyone who has even a passing interest in Canada’s jail system and what I perceive to be its fallibility (which should be every Canadian of voting age.)


I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Diane Schoemperlen is the Governor General’s Award winning author of twelve works of fiction and non-fiction, most recently By the Book: Stories and Pictures, a collection illustrated with her own full-colour collages, which was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. She is a recipient of the Marian Engel Award from the Writers’ Trust of Canada.


ACCOLADES, MEDIA AND PRIZES won by “THIS IS NOT MY LIFE” 



– One of five finalists for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize 

  
 – Mar 02, 2017 – 41 minute video

About this Video: 

Three memoirs and two biographies are nominated for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize. Max Eisen writes about surviving Auschwitz; Matti Friedman recounts his combat experience in Lebanon in the mid-1990s; Ross King examines Claude Monet’s fascination with painting water lilies; Marc Raboy reveals Guglielmo Marconi as a global communications pioneer; and Diane Schoemperlen remembers her six-year relationship with a convicted murderer. The Agenda welcomes the five non-fiction finalists to discuss what impelled them to write their books.

Dianne Schoemperlen’s book has been nominated as part of the #ygkChallenge    


MACLEAN’S MAGAZINE ARTICLE with video interview        

BEAUTY of the BEAST by Rachel L. Demeter RELEASE BLITZ & GIVEAWAY – NOW LIVE 

Beauty of the Beast

by Rachel L. Demeter

Fairy Tale Retellings, #1

Publication Date: March 15, 2017

Genres: Historical Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling, Gothic Romance, Adult


🌹 Special $2.99 sale price through March 19th 🌹

🌹 Buy 🌹


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🌹 Book Blurb 🌹

Experience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist.

A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST

Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.

A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE

Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…

Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice.

Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

Disclaimer: This is an edgy retelling of the classic fairy tale. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

🎬 Book Trailer 🎬

🌹 Excerpt 🌹

~ Isabelle bravely takes her papa’s place ~

Quite a while later, as Isabelle relaxed and soaked in the hearth’s warmth, she found herself nodding off to sleep.

Her mind detached from the stress of the past few days and receded to another time and place. She recalled her journeys with Papa when she’d been little more than a girl. All the villages they’d passed through; all the faces they’d seen. She thought of reading fairy tales beneath a bejeweled sky, of leaning against a mountain of crates as Papa pointed out the constellations and their eternal stories—

Rattling seized her attention and ruptured her thoughts. She peered at Papa, who was carefully examining his teacup. Not with his sightless eyes, of course—but with wandering fingertips. The same impressive coat of arms engraved the fine proclaim; Papa ran his weathered fingers over its surface, clearly in awe of the raised gold decorations and studded gems. The thing must have cost a small fortune. Indeed, she’d never beheld such finery. Even the wares Papa had once sold paled in comparison. The faded brim of his top hat hung low and covered his glassy eyes.

Then her mouth went dry as he slipped the teacup inside his coat.

Has he gone mad—or simply grown that desperate? It was completely unlike Papa to steal. How could he—and after being shown hospitality?

Her outcry startled him. He half leapt from the chair—and Isabelle watched in horror as the teacup tumbled out from the coat. It rattled and rolled onto the stone ground, shattering into a million pieces.

A gloved hand broke through the darkness, quicker than a lightning strike. The hooded figure emerged from the shadows and seized Papa by his cravat. His other hand clasped a branch of flickering candles. The illumination flashed across the dark folds of his cloak, soaking him in a pool of light.

“Stealing from me, are you? Breaking my family’s keepsakes?” A sharp jerk forced Papa to his feet. The rough movement sent the top hat tumbling from his head and onto the stone floor. Papa’s waxen features melted into an expression of horror and confusion.

Her heart pounding, Isabelle lunged forward and frantically cried out, “Let him alone! It was an accident. Don’t you see that you’re frightening him?”

“Good.” The simple declaration threw Isabelle into stunned silence. Papa called out for her as the man strode from the sitting room, his solid legs eating up the ground in swift, decisive strides. Mon Dieu, he was physically dragging Papa through the castle.

This isn’t happening. It cannot be…

“Stop it! Stop it now—you monster!” Isabelle picked up her skirts and frantically chased after them. Parts of the castle were dark and unkempt, causing her to trip several times over wayward pieces of furniture. Her heart violently pounded in her ears. The man moved impressively fast; between his agile stride and sweeping cloak, he almost appeared to float through the corridors. Plopping onto the stone floor, his dog gave up trying to keep pace. Dust motes rose and fell in midair like ashes, obscuring her vision. She followed the branch’s illumination, watching as the candlelight threw prisms along the walls and floor.

“Please, monsieur. Have mercy, I beg you! He didn’t know any better. He’s not in his right mind. He would never—”

“No one steals from me.” His low voice echoed in the darkness, steady as a war drum.

Isabelle felt herself descending. She ducked as she crossed a low archway, where she was met with a steep flight of stairs. A mouth into Hell. The ceiling lurked unusually low and was strung with cobwebs. Isabelle hiked up her skirts, which were now a filthy mess, and raced down the decayed steps. The hooded figure kept a swift pace while she desperately pursued Papa’s frightened cries.

Plagued by the darkness, Isabelle tripped and crashed down the stone steps. Pain cascaded through her body, knocking the breath from her lungs. Her skinned knees and elbows throbbed, her heart pounded, her head burned. She spared a moment to catch her breath as she struggled to her feet and resumed her vain quest. Papa’s muffled pleas and the sound of slamming bars ripped at her very soul.

The dank dungeon was nearly black. She slowed her pace, moving toward a beam of light at the far end. Rats the size of kittens scurried across the stone floor and filled the darkness with their terrible squeaking. Her heart thudding, Isabelle rushed through the maze of cells, following Papa’s voice and that flickering light. Chains and crude-looking objects littered the ground—torture devices from a past age, she realized with a shudder.

She found them.

Papa was grasping the rusted bars; disoriented and frightened, he was murmuring incoherent pleas. Tears fell from his sightless eyes, though Isabelle knew he fought to restrain them. The branch of candles sat in front of the cell, its wavering light illuminating his terrified expression.

“Forgive me. I have wronged you when you showed my daughter and me hospitality and mercy. Please, monsieur!”

The man towered before him, silent and still. His long arms remaining crossed, he stood with his lean torso straighter than a broadsword. His hood was drawn back, though Isabelle couldn’t see his face from her angle.

“Papa, I’m here,” she said beneath the weight of a strained breath.

“I-Isabelle?”

Not sparing a moment, she dashed over to the cell—and the man slowly rotated into sight.

Except he resembled more of a beast than any man she’d ever seen.

Isabelle clamped both hands over her mouth and forced her eyes away. The sight burned—and the inferno in his gaze only kindled that fire.

Half of his face looked monstrously twisted; charred mounds of puckered flesh distorted the features beyond any recognition, draining him of all traces of humanity. Those heaps of burned, leather-like skin gleamed and glistened in the candlelight. His hairline receded on the left side of his face and slanted high above a shriveled ear.

Under the severe scarring, his age was more or less indistinguishable—though Isabelle guessed he wasn’t a day under thirty-five.

But his eyes were breathtaking. Two brilliant sapphires. There was also a great sadness and anger in those eyes, as if he’d suffered more than his share of original sin. Alas, as she gazed into his eyes, all she saw was blue ice—an endless, arctic landscape of cold desolation.

The man turned away, appearing greatly affected by her stare, and hastily rearranged the hood. His scarred hands trembled as he smoothed down the cloak’s thick folds.

“Release him,” she demanded. “He didn’t mean any harm. I—”

“No one meddles with my family’s possessions. He can rot down here as my prisoner. He ought to count himself fortunate that I haven’t taken his hand.”

“Your prisoner? This… this is a mistake! You must believe me. He’d never—”

A deep, husky chuckle cut through her plea. “Even so.”

“Please. Just let him out.”

“It’s too late for that.” Those words seemed to speak volumes. He exhaled a long breath, and Isabelle watched as it unfurled against the darkness in a cloud.

Silence.

“Why… why are you so angry? Why must you be so hateful? So cruel?”

“If I let him go,” he said at length, “what can you offer in return?” Isabelle couldn’t find her tongue. She wandered directly in front of the cell, almost in a lucid trance, and clasped the cold bars. Papa was huddled in the corner now, coughing and shivering. Guilt, unlike anything she’d known before, pulsated through her.

I’m to blame for this. And if Papa stays here, he’ll die well within a fortnight, likely much sooner…

“Get out of my sight.” The man’s voice jarred Isabelle from her inward stupor. She turned to him and stepped forward, raising her chin at a defiant angle.

I am not so easily broken or frightened.

I am a survivor.

She scanned her empty, dank surroundings: the cold stone walls, sweeping cobwebs, and blazing branch of candles. Despair encased her. Stark emptiness. She dared to step closer while a faint trace of pity bloomed inside her heart.

They stood centimeters apart. Heat radiated from the man’s body, surrounding her, immersing her. Isabelle vainly searched for softness him, but only a dark, embittered spirit reached her. She stared up at his towering frame and gestured for him to bow forward. He hesitated, then did as she commanded. Her hands shook, damn her, as she peeled back his hood and met that piercing gaze again.

Half of his face was handsome—devastatingly so. In her twenty-two years of life, she’d never beheld such haunting beauty.

Jet‑black waves, rich and flowing, framed the chiseled lines of his startling features. Stubble peppered the strong curve of his jawline and shadowed a smooth, sculpted cheekbone. The right side of his face was striking, beautiful—a stark contrast to its wrecked counterpart. And within those patrician angles and intense eyes, she encountered his humanity.

His was a face of inconsistencies. Complex. Damaged. Predatory. And more than a bit intriguing.

“I will stay with you,” she heard herself whisper. “In my father’s place.”

“Isabelle—no! I forbid it!”

The man folded long, strong arms across his broad chest. His gaze crawled down her face and settled on the rise of her breasts—planting directly on her silver cross.

“I demand he’s seen by the finest of physicians.”

“Isabelle! Listen to me! I’m an old man. I’m dying. I—”

The man’s dark, strangely erotic voice cut through the cellar, and his eyes whipped back to her own with a startling force. “As my mistress.”

“What?”

“You must stay here as my mistress. For as long as I demand. Perhaps forever.”

Forever.

The word rang with a note of finality.

“Please, Isabelle! I beg you. Don’t do this!”

How could I endure it?

“Do as I say and your father shall safely return home.” He waved his cloaked arms with a magician’s delicate grace. “Your father—whatever family you may have—shall want for nothing. A house, clothing, anything they require. You only need to say the word. Your father will be under my protection—under the care of nurses and physicians—until his last breath.”

Isabelle briefly recalled what—and who—was waiting for her back in Ruillé. This fate wouldn’t be much worse. This desolate castle could serve as the perfect hideout. Papa would live in France, free from Raphael’s clutches and in the hands of the world’s greatest physicians…

“How… how can I trust you?” And does he even have the wealth to uphold such a promise?

“You cannot.”

She had faith Papa would send help once his health recovered. Or she’d find a way out, means of escape. In the interim, she would survive this grim castle and whatever horrors it concealed.

Papa would not. The castle would crush him beneath its dark heel in a matter of days.

Isabelle glanced at Papa again, then stared into the man’s brilliant eyes. There, lurking within those expressive depths, she found the softness she’d pursued minutes before.  

She sucked in her breath and nodded her agreement.

“It is done.” The man swept backward. “He’s to remain down here till first light. Then our agreement shall be carried out. In the meantime, I will bring blankets and food—”

“But it’s so cold! He—”

“Stole from me while he was a guest in my castle.”

He would not compromise. That much was certain.

“I demand to stay with him.”

“As you please.” He unlocked the cell. “Beyond the dungeon lies a labyrinth. Try to escape, and you’ll be lost forever.”

He tapped the wall with his booted heel. It swiveled, spun, and rotated, sweeping her captor to the other side…

🌹 Excerpt 🌹

~ Adam gives Isabelle his library ~

“Close your eyes, ma belle.”

Strong hands cupped either side of her face. She felt as Adam’s thumbs tentatively brushed back and forth, stroking her cheeks in reverent caresses. Isabelle shut her eyes and slipped beneath his spell… leaned closer in the darkness until they stood heartbeat to heartbeat. The warmth of his breaths teased her hairline, bringing with them a minty scent. His thumbs descended to just below her chin. She lowered her face… felt a featherlight kiss land on her brow. It happened so subtly and gently—Isabelle wasn’t sure whether she’d imagined it.

She was allowing herself to feel too much. A stab of guilt penetrated her chest as her thoughts crept inward. Yet instincts told her to trust in her gut—to allow her heart to speak over her tumultuous thoughts. So she shoved away her guilt and allowed herself to simply feel.

Pounding footfalls echoed in the room, attesting to its sheer size. Isabelle waited in anticipation under the veil of darkness, her small hands knotted in Stranger’s wiry coat. The steady beat of Adam’s boots floated away from her. A loud whipping noise and a burst of light illuminated the room as he tugged a heavy damask curtain aside.

“Open your eyes, Isabelle.”

She did as he commanded. Shafts of sunlight tore inside, dancing across the marble floor in blaring prisms—though the darkness still obstructed the room’s contents. Isabelle’s imagination soared as she fantasized about what lay in those clotted shadows. Pale light fringed Adam’s formidable shape, contrasting his silhouette against the dim atmosphere.

He paused in front of the opened window and folded both arms behind his ramrod-straight back. Isabelle gazed at the line of his body, unable to tear her eyes away. Indeed, light from the window set him aglow, shrouding him in a cloak of gold. He wore black trousers and a white silk shirt, which fluttered lightly when he moved. Over the past several days, he’d made a habit of abandoning the cloak and hood. Isabelle had become accustomed to the mismatched sides of his face; where she once felt horror and revulsion, she now tingled with curiosity and budding admiration. Alas, the only true revulsion that remained was the memory of that night…

Adam was an undeniably prideful man, and she knew he’d only scorn her pity. Even his stance exuded a sense of importance and authority. Strange, how he was so often shy and almost childlike; then, as if by a flip of a coin, he’d turn regal, confident. It was as though he was battling two separate halves… as if an intricate part of himself kept fighting to emerge.

Not unlike the two contrasting sides of his face, Isabelle mused.

For a suspended moment, he stood in front of the conservatory window, his scarred hands planted on his lean hips as he surveyed the distant gardens. Then he crossed the room, his footfalls amplified by the medallion flooring, and thrust open another curtain.

Whoosh. Light flooded the space and chased away the shadows, and the room’s contents were ushered into view.

Isabelle nearly lost her breath at the sight.

It was a beautiful library—the most stunning sight she’d ever beheld. Ornate, intricately carved shelves towered against the painted walls and reached for a gilded ceiling. A baroque chandelier hung in the heart of the room; its crystals sparkled like diamonds as they drank in morning’s light. Isabelle fought to temper her racing heart as she gaped at the sweeping shelves. An intimate reading nook lined a curved window; lush pillows decorated the chaise, and a brass candelabra towered beside it.

In all her life, she’d never seen so many books. There were far too many to count. Too many books to read in one lifetime. Isabelle couldn’t help but think of the little storekeeper from Ruillé’s bookshop; she imagined his astonishment, how his bushy white brows would rise at the sight of Adam’s vast library. He’d run his wrinkled fingertips over the bindings and spines, reverently caressing each one. Her heart twisted with nostalgia at the thought of her former home. Once Raphael had entered her life, however, Ruillé had transformed into a prison.

This castle should have been just that. A jail cell. Yet she’d never felt more free than in that moment.

The library was larger than her whole cottage; several book-filled rooms connected to it, each one built with floor-to-ceiling shelves. Three sliding ladders were nestled against the circular walls, soaring to the very top of the domed ceiling.

She spun on her heels, twirling in place—watching as the immense collection flurried by in a fantastic mosaic of colorful spines and intricate woodwork.

Her eyes planted on Adam, who stood in front of the large row of glowing, arched windows. His arms were still folded behind his body, his sleek back straighter than an arrow. She couldn’t find her voice, couldn’t move forward, although she ached to reach out and embrace his solid body.

How would it feel to be enveloped inside that commanding strength?

A devastating smile spread across his misshapen features and cut her thought short. He ran a shaky hand through his hair, which was highlighted by the sun’s rays, and then hesitantly strode toward her. His boots rapped against the floor, and the sound swelled through the library. Stranger barked as he approached, the loud noise echoing in the room and jarring Isabelle from her trance.

“Do… do you like it?”

Finally he stood before her, silent and still. Isabelle inhaled a long breath, then laid her palm on the left side of his face. Her fingertips danced over the raised ridges and welts, the reddish scars and shriveled ear. His eyes shuttered closed, and she felt a shudder rake through his tense body.

“Yes. I love it.” And I’m starting to fall in love with you, too…

 

🌹 Meet the Author 🌹

Rachel L. Demeter lives in the beautiful hills of Anaheim, California with Teddy, her goofy lowland sheepdog, and her high school sweetheart of fourteen years. She enjoys writing poignant romances that challenge the reader’s emotions and explore the redeeming power of love.

Imagining dynamic worlds and characters has been Rachel’s passion for longer than she can remember. Before learning how to read or write, she would dictate stories while her mother would record them for her. She holds a special affinity for the tortured hero and unconventional romances. Whether crafting the protagonist or antagonist, she ensures every character is given a soul.

Rachel endeavors to defy conventions by blending elements of romance, suspense, and horror. Some themes her stories never stray too far from: forbidden romance, soul mates, the power of love to redeem, mend all wounds, and triumph over darkness.

Her dream is to move readers and leave an emotional impact through her words.

Don’t be a stranger! Rachel loves to connect and interact with her readers:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Newsletter | Amazon Author Profile | Instagram

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LILA and the CROW by Gabrielle Grimard is a 5 Star feast for the eyes and the heart – Children’s Fiction at its finest 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


Title: LILA AND THE CROW    

Author: GABRIELLE GRIMARD  
Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION, CANADIAN FICTION, BULLYING, PREJUDICE

Length: 32 PAGES  

Publisher: ANNICK PRESS    
Release Date: OCTOBER 11, 2016 

ISBN: 9781554518586  

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟  

I think this children’s book has been released at a time when our world really needs to absorb and to believe in the message it contains. We need to embrace the diversity that makes North America so special and it is especially important that we teach our children love rather than hate and tolerance rather than judgement.

In this story Lila experiences both discrimination and bullying based solely on her appearance.  Unfortunately, this is often what happens in real life and the children who are targeted are often unsure as to how to deal with it. This is also true of Lila.

Although Lila’s race is never specifically mentioned, it is clear to me that her ancestry is aboriginal and  this story is a fable in the style of all aboriginal tales going back hundreds of years. As with those tales of old, this story features an animal who is central to the plot.

When Lila’s family moves to a new town, she is excited about meeting and making new friends when school begins. However, her hopes are shattered when on her first day of school when a boy points at her and shouts: “A crow! A crow! The new girl’s hair is black like a crow!” On her way home she is upset and barely notices the crow that tries to get her attention.

The next day she covers her hair, thinking this will stop the bullying. However, the boy points at her dark skin and taunts her about that instead. When she covers her face, he makes fun of her dark eyes. From that day on, Lila hides under a turtleneck, dark glasses, and a hat, but the taunting and bullying continue.

Every day on her way home, she sees a crow who seems to want to tell her something. Lila ignores the bird and even throws rocks at it, but it won’t go away.

Meanwhile, the great autumn festival is coming up soon. While the other kids prepare their costumes, Lila is sadder and lonelier than ever.

At her lowest point of despair, she has a magical encounter with the crow who opens Lila’s eyes to the beauty of being different. This gives Lila the courage to proudly embrace her true self. And the kids at school learn a powerful lesson.

We, as parents and as members of a diverse society sometimes need to be reminded that words can hurt and that our children are vulnerable. We need to teach our children to judge people not on their religion or on the colour of their skin, but rather on their character and on their actions. This book will open their eyes and reinforces the beauty of diversity.

I love the message contained within this book and I believe it is important.


I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 and I think every parent, every school, and every library should own a copy of this book.


Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.

   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

After studying Fine Arts at Concordia University, Art Education at the University of Quebec in Montreal, and a few years as a painter and muralist on the island of Montreal, Gabrielle  took a more solid direction towards youth-illustration with the birth of her son in 2001.

In recent years, she has mainly been involved with publishing geared towards a youth audience, educational publishing and a bit of advertising as well.

She has worked with several Quebec publishers, including Dominiqueet Cie., Imagine,la Bagnole and HMH.

She has also worked with such Canadian publishers as Orca Books and AnnickPress. Since 2007, she has worked with Painted-Words which is a New York-based agency for Illustrators. This opportunity has given her access to the U.S. and British markets within the children’s publishing industry.

If her style remains traditional, it is mostly full of poetry. She loves being able to translate through drawing the world in which she wants to live.

She loves working light, and different levels and patterns. To create an album, her research work  involves various media and it’s a process that she loves, but her favourite aspect will always  be colour. She uses mainly watercolours, gouache and oil, which she combines together on watercolour-cardboard. She likes watercolour for its lightness, gouache for its intensity of colours, and oil for the depth it offers within which I delve with happiness every time. In all, I add a touch of wooden pencil for the details which fly in the wind.

 To find out more about this wonderful author/illustrator visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE     

GOODREADS      

FACEBOOK      

PINTEREST          

AMAZON      

CHAPTERS    

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE    

PAINTED WORDS LITERARY AGENCY   

5 STARS for NEW YORK CITY MONSTERS Search-And-Find Board Book by Anne Paradis. ADORABLE!!! 

Title: NEW YORK CITY MONSTERS  

Series: Monsters Search-and-Find Books         

Author: ANNE PARADIS      

Illustrator: LUCILE DANIS DROUOT 

Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION, TRAVEL, ACTIVITY BOOKS, BOARD BOOKS 

Length: 22 BOARD BOOK PAGES

Publisher: CHOUETTE PUBLISHING    

Release Date: MAY 16, 2017

ISBN: 9782924734025

Price: $9.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The setting is New York City, and hiding amongst the city’s important landmarks are monsters. The goal is to find all the monsters hiding at each location. The author has included the number of monsters to be found on each layout which is a bonus for both children and their parents. This way they know they didn’t miss any.

This book is beautifully illustrated and the bright colours are sure to grab any child’s attention.

 I am 100% sure that children will fall in love with the cute little monsters hiding all over New York City.

It doesn’t matter where you live, this book is still guaranteed to be a hit. Of course, for residents and visitors to New York City it provides even more fun as they can visit all the locations shown in the book.

Adults will also have fun finding the monsters (even if they don’t admit it.)

I give this book 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Anne Paradis is the new publisher of Chouette Publishing.

She is the author of Caillou: Little Artist, Caillou: Search and Count, and Caillou: My Body and many more Caillou books.

Visit CHOUETTE PUBLISHING to learn more.


ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

To learn more about this amazing illustrator visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE    

GOODREADS   

TWITTER   

LINKEDIN    

FACEBOOK   

AMAZON    

NEW RELEASE — GULLY DIRT: A MEMOIR by Robert Coram will make you laugh, it will make you cry and you won’t want to put it down. 

Title: GULLY DIRT

Subtitle: On Exposing the Klan, Raising a Hog, and Escaping the South: A Memoir

Author: ROBERT CORAM

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHY, MEMOIR

Length: 266 PAGES

Publisher: FIVE BRIDGES PRESS 

Release Date: JANUARY 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9983820-0-5

Price: $15.99 (Softcover on Amazon)
Price: $6.05 (EBOOK on Amazon)

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


“A lot of romantic claptrap has been written about the South. I was born in rural Georgia and grew up there during the 1950s, and I never saw the romance. All I ever saw were people who were as mean as uncovered cat shit, people who took pride in being on the losing side of just about everything, people who could quote the Bible one minute and go into a violent rage the next.”    

Paragraph one and I was hooked.

This is a pull-no-punches memoir that does not shy away from the ugly truths about growing up dirt poor in the South in the 1950s. 

GULLY DIRT is cleverly written and filled with vignettes of his pre-teen and teen years beginning at the age of 12.  Robert Coram has achieved an excellent balance between humor and drama and readers will swing between wanting to laugh and wanting to cry.

Growing up in the deep South in a tiny town, Robert dreamed of escaping his retired military father and the blatant favoritism of Robert’s younger brother. He may have despised his father, but like all boys on the cusp of adulthood, he both needed and craved his father’s love and attention.

Author Robert Coram describes his birthplace as “… a place that has always been separate from the rest of the world.” The stories in this book prove that to be true.

Because Robert grew up in the 1950s, he grew up in a time that is completely foreign to how we live today. His hometown of Edison had its own prejudices and they held onto them as tightly as possible.

I read this book in a 24 hour period because I did not want to put it down. Some of the phrases the characters say in the novel will make you chuckle audibly. For example, saying that he was as “…mean as uncovered cat shit…” I mean, really, who talks like this? The answer is that in the 50s, that is exactly how the residents of Robert’s town spoke.

If you are: 

A) Easily offended by books that contain swearing or if 

B) you are offended by the word “nigger” then you might want to skip this book. However, the only reason the “n” word is used in the book is because that was what Robert’s parents called black people and so he called them the same. It is historically accurate speech and it is not meant to be offensive. 

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟    

If you are interested in an authentic accounting of growing up in the deep South with an overbearing and uncaring father and yet somehow turning out normal, then this is a must read. 

* I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley


MY FAVOURITE QUOTES:


“…mean as uncovered cat shit…”

“This land, this place, this searing furnace, marks its children more indelibly and more visibly than does any other part of America.”

“Once this land was sea bottom. But not even the ocean liked this place …”

“Gully dirt ain’t good for nothing.”


“…that August I discovered the MAGIC of books, how words on a page could bring tears to my eyes or fill my heart to overflowing.”

“That summer I learned that the contents of a book could resonate in the heart and linger in the memory.”


“I realized at some subliminal level that a book is more than pages covered with printed words. A book is a package of wonder, a container of bliss, a vale of emotion, an unexploded bomb. A book can not only draw the reader into a new world and toward new friends but also separate him from the old world and old friends.”

“One book can change a person’s life. A library can change the world.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robert Coram’s career as a writer began in Edison, GA, a town of about 1200 located deep in the southwestern part of the state. Edison is a farming town. Most young people leave as soon as possible. Coram is the only person from Edison ever to become a writer.

Coram was hired as a reporter for The Atlanta Journal when he was a sophomore in college. Like many who suddenly discover their life’s work, he was enthusiastic and prolific. He was a general assignment reporter & also wrote features, book reviews, travel stories, & aviation stories. He covered the civil rights movement in Atlanta during the 1960s and he wrote freelance articles for the Atlanta Magazine, for aviation publications, and for national magazines.   

For several years Coram wrote for McGraw-Hill publications out of the Atlanta bureau. He covered the early days of the environmental movement and he covered the civil war in Biafra.

Coram spent four years as a staff writer for Atlanta Magazine. Then he moved to Cumberland Island, an island off the Georgia coast. The first year he was a house sitter & the second year he was a ranger for the National Park Service. Thus, he is one of the few writers who also has been a federal officer. During his two years on Cumberland he wrote for Sports Illustrated and did several travel pieces for the Sunday New York Times.

He returned to Atlanta in the mid-1970s and resumed his freelance career. He wrote a media column, the first in Atlanta, for the weekly Atlanta Gazette.

A piece he wrote for Esquire in 1976 was the first piece about narcotics trafficking in a national magazine. The latter part of the 1970s he traveled extensively in Colombia, Jamaica, the Turks & Caicos Islands, the Bahamas, and south Florida, writing about narcotics trafficking.

These articles resulted in his being asked to become a reporter for The Atlanta Constitution. The first year he received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for his stories about drug smuggling. The second year he covered the war in El Salvador. He received another Pulitzer Prize nomination for a series of articles that stopped the National Park Service from developing Cumberland Island. The third year he was fired by a new assistant managing editor who said Coram’s interviewing techniques were too aggressive.

Coram now had the unique distinction of having been fired from both The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. The two papers later merged, so his feat can never be duplicated.

While he was at the paper he became a part-time instructor at Emory University and taught writing courses there for 12 years.

He also resumed his freelancing and, at the same time, began writing books. He wrote five books before he published his first one. The five were not proposals nor were they a few chapters; they were 400-page manuscripts. That they were not published he considers proof God is sometimes merciful toward the reading public.

Signet published his “Narcs” series. These three books were based on his experiences writing about drug smuggling. Then came four police novels based in Atlanta. Woven among the novels were three non-fiction books: an investigative book about Antigua, a book about an Irish woman who works in Saigon with street children, and a fishing book for National Geographic.

As the 1990s drew near the end, Coram looked back over his books. He said that writing 10 books in 10 years was both good and bad: good in that it showed a certain professionalism, bad in that rarely are lasting books written at such a speed.

Today Coram lives in Atlanta with his wife, business owner Jeannine Addams, president of J. Addams & Partners, a public relations company.

When Coram is not writing, he is fly fishing on the Georgia coast.

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