Although this book is targeted at young adults and middle-grade readers, I believe that Canadians of all ages will enjoy this short, but informative book about our 9th Prime Minister. 4 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Title: ARTHUR MEIGHEN: A WAY WITH WORDS     

Subtitle: THE STORY OF CANADA’S 9th PRIME MINISTER      

Author: RODERICK BENNS    
Genre: NON-FICTION, MIDDLE-GRADE     

Length: 78 PAGES

Publisher: FIRESIDE PUBLISHING HOUSE     

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: I received a free copy of this book from the Publisher.

Release Date: 2012

ISBN: 9781539538158     

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟  

Although this book is targeted at young adults and middle-grade readers, I believe that Canadians of all ages will enjoy this short, but informative book about our 9th Prime Minister.

Historians called Arthur Meighen  (pronounced Mee-an) ‘arrogant’ a ‘heroic failure’ and the prime minister ‘who might have been’ … Yet in all of Canadian history, Meighen had no equal when it came to public speaking.”

The subject matter of this book is something that could have become a very boring read, but author Roderick Benns includes many funny anecdotes and “cool” facts about Arthur Meighen and his childhood which will help to capture and hold a child’s  (and an adult’s) attention.

For example, when describing what Arthur was like, the author tells us that “…Meighen seemed to have no fashion sense at all and was absent minded whhen it came to everyday things. For instance, he once appeared in the House of Commons still wearing his bedroom slippers.”

I am ashamed to admit that prior to reading this book, I could not have told you who our 9th Prime Minister was, nor would I have reacted at all had someone said the name “Arthur Meighen.” I believe this is probably true of the vast majority of Canadians today (excluding those whose post-secondary education  focused on either politics or Canadian history.) This is a major flaw in our education system.

I give kudos to FIRESIDE PUBLISHING HOUSE for creating not only this book, but also an entire line of Middle-grade books focused on our past Prime Ministers. I am thrilled that because of this patriotic publishing house, our next generation may feel more connected to Canada’s past than the current generation seems to.

This year is Canada’s 150th Birthday which makes it the perfect time to buy these books and to share them with your children. I highly recommend this book and will be reading and reviewing more books in the series very soon.

I rate this book as 4  of 5 Stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

* I received a free copy of this book from the Publisher but this in no way influenced my review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
RODERICK BENNS:

Roderick Benns is an award-winning author and journalist. He is the author of The Mystery of the Moonlight Murder: An Early Adventure of John Diefenbaker and The Legends of Lake on the Mountain: An Early Adventure of John A. Macdonald.

He has interviewed former Prime Ministers of Canada, Ministers, and Senators, and has written for The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and National Post. Roderick is a sought-after speaker on Canada’s history and its Prime Ministers.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE    

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE    

GOODREADS       

TWITTER       

FACEBOOK     

AMAZON     

CHAPTERS     

LINKEDIN    

BOOK BUZZR       

TAKEN by J.C. Valentine plus WIN A Kindle Fire

TAKEN

by J.C. Valentine

Publication Date: April 18, 2017

Genres: Adult, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, Romance, Standalone, Novella

BUY:

 Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2oizyqa

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2nmAl4g

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2mVkY7v

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2oisB8m

B&N: http://bit.ly/2pIVtDq

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2oDB17t

iTunes: http://apple.co/2omunkw

SYNOPSIS:

Love is blind…
Especially when you’ve been abducted.

Caught in the dredges of life, Elise had come to the grudging conclusion that mediocrity was all she’d ever have.

Until a routine shopping trip turns into a deadly affair.

Taken. Two men, one a brute and the other an enigma. A cabin in the woods. One dangerous agenda.

Blindfolded and held captive, Elise’s mundane existence just got a whole lot more interesting. Thrust into the unknown, held prisoner by a man with rough hands and a gentle voice, she’s faced with her own demise while struggling against a growing desire for the unacceptable—her captor.

Will Elise make out with her life—and heart—intact?

goodreads-badge-add-38px

EXCERPT:

What was that she’d said about not having encountered a penis in ages? Well, Elise was getting an up close and personal introduction with Manhandler’s member, and it was rock hard and ready to please, judging by the way it was prodding persistently between her legs as if demanding entry.

And Elise was one sick pup, because, after managing to fall asleep then waking up to the feel of it wedged between her thighs, coupled with the hardness and warmth of her captor firmly wrapped around her, she had become wetter than the Niagara Falls.

This was what happened when you went without proper male attention for too long. Clearly, her body was looking for love in all the wrong places. Holy crap! She needed to get her head screwed on straight. Nothing about her sudden and growing desire was okay. Not a damn thing.

She wasn’t sure how long she laid there, feeling the gentle throb of his cock against her buttocks, his soft breath tickling her ear, sweating from the immense heat of his body against hers—he was like an inferno!—and keeping track of the thump of his heart pounding against her back. Thanks to her lack of sight, Elise only knew sensations, and they were more than enough to send her thoughts spiraling down a rabbit hole she had no business exploring.

So when the door slammed open and Driver burst in, Elise was both terrified and relieved.

“Rise and shine!” Driver shouted at the same time Manhandler yanked Elise beneath him, covering her body with his, and roared, “What the fuck! I could have shot you, you motherfucker!”

“You’re not that trigger happy,” Driver said confidently.

Elise heard the distinct metallic click of what she assumed to be the hammer being reset—on a gun!—beside her ear.

“You’re damn lucky for that,” Manhandler snarled. “You dumb fuck.”

“Got your heart pumping. You’ve been needing to get more cardio in anyway. Get rid of those love handles.”

Manhandler growled his irritation. “Get out before I put a bullet in your ass.”

“Need a few minutes alone with the missus?”

It was then Elise became highly aware of exactly where Manhandler was positioned. Or more specifically, how. And judging by how Manhandler stiffened, his whole body going rock steady, she knew he’d realized it too.

“It’s not what it looks like.”

“Hey, I’m not saying anything. You wanna shit where you eat? Fine by me. Just don’t let it go to your head. Well, the one that counts anyway. We might have to shoot her later.” With that little gem of advice, Driver closed the door, whistling a cheery little tune as he went.

Elise, though highly disturbed, was also keenly aware of the man on top of her. His body was everywhere, so much wider and heavier than her own…and it felt amazing. Even more amazing was the hard ridge of his cock pressed right up tight against her cleft, which wouldn’t have been an issue at all had she not inadvertently opened her legs when he’d rolled on top of her, creating the perfect cradle for his hips to rest in.

And without her sight, all she could do was lie there and focus on what was going on below the waist.

“Well, this is an interesting turn of events,” Manhandler said with a casual flair that Elise found admirable, considering she was beginning to experience heart palpitations.

“Why are you on top of me?” she demanded to know, her tone fraught with irritation.

“Don’t get so defensive, buttercup. I’m not the one who spread his legs like butter.”

She gasped, affronted. “You’re the one who climbed on top of me!”

“To protect you!”

“From your egotistical asshat friend!”

“I was half asleep. I didn’t know who the hell it was,” he hissed back. Then, with a grunt, he shoved away from her. The bedsprings squawked loudly as he sprang to his feet. “You act as if I stripped you down to your panties and tried to get inside you.”

God, just those words were enough to make Elise shiver. And not in a bad way. Not at all.

Apparently, her silence was enough to give him pause. “Wait…is that what you’re pissed about?”

“What?” she asked through clenched teeth. She already knew where this was going, because she was thinking it too.

“That’s it, isn’t it?” There was a smugness to his tone that she didn’t appreciate one bit. He came closer again, and she could feel him looming over her. “You liked me on top of you.”

“No, I didn’t.” Rolling away from the sound of his voice, Elise’s feet found the floor and she popped up, wanting desperately to run away but not knowing where to go without removing the blindfold, which could very well be a death sentence.

Manhandler came up behind her, his smug attitude full-watt. “Yeah, you did. You wanted the D. Just admit it.” She felt his heat a second before she felt his lips beside her ear. In a low, gruff voice laced with desire, he said, “If you wanted it, all you had to do was ask, buttercup.”

ABOUT J.C. VALENTINE

J.C. Valentine is the USA Today and International bestselling author of the Night Calls and Wayward Fighters Series and the Forbidden Trilogy. Her vivid imagination and love of words and romance had her penning her own romance stories from an early age, which, despite being poorly edited and written longhand, she forced friends and family members to read. No, she isn’t sorry.

Living in the Northwest, she has three amazing children and far too many pets. Among the many hats she wears, J.C. is an entrepreneur. Having graduated with honors, she holds a Bachelor’s in English and when she isn’t writing, you can find her editing for fellow authors.

Sign up for J.C.’s newsletter and never miss a thing! http://bit.ly/1KxXWWB

WebsiteTwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle+Amazon Author PageGoodreads

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/classic/3e4b22e/main.html

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

National Jewish Books Award Winner – ON BLACKBERRY HILL by Rachel Mann examines the mother-daughter connection in a unique way. 

Title: ON BLACKBERRY HILL 

Author: RACHEL MANN 

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, JEWISH FICTION, WOMEN’S FICTION, INDIE FICTION

Length: 194 PAGES

Publisher: SELF-PUBLISHED

Release Date: 2016

ISBN: 9781535262910

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Awards Won: National Jewish Book Award Winner      


 

Reena has no desire to spend her last summer before high school at her cousin’s Jewish residential summer camp far away from her life in the city. She may be Jewish, but living with her non-practicing father means that she does not feel a deep devotion to her dead mother’s faith.

When her father announces that he is leaving the city for the entire summer, Reena’s fate is sealed. Whether she likes it or not, and she really does NOT, she will be living at the camp in Upstate New York until her father returns. Reena will have her cousin with her at camp, but they barely tolerate each other, so that won’t make much difference.

Twenty years earlier, her mother had attended that same camp, but her mother died when Reena was a baby, so it’s not as if Reena knows anything about Naomi’s time at camp.

This book is written in two different time periods and from two different perspectives. It tells not only the tale of Reena’s time at camp, but also the story of her mother, Naomi’s time at that same camp approximately twenty years earlier.

How do the two stories intertwine? You will need to read this book to find out, and you will not be disappointed.

Rachel Mann has penned a moving story that goes beyond the Jewish faith. Yes, the characters are Jewish, but that is only a small part of who they are. This book won the National Jewish Book Award, but again, the “Jewish” part of that award is only a small part. Rachel Mann won the award on the merit of the story.

I love how Rachel Mann seemlessly transitions between Naomi’s past and Reena’s present. The fact that Naomi died when Reena was just a baby means that Reena knows almost nothing about her mother. Sure, her father mentions her from time to time, but he really doesn’t tell her much and Reena is desperate to find some way to connect with the mother she never knew. Camp Tova just might be that place.

Author Rachel Mann has a bright future ahead. She has a gift for getting to the heart of the story and to create characters with depth.

This multi-generational story depicts how the choices we make can effect the future of not just ourselves, but of our family and friends as well. 

I rate ON BLACKBERRY HILL as 4 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 


Rachel Mann is the author of the young adult novel, ON BLACKBERRY HILL, winner of the 2016 National Jewish Book Award for Young Adult Literature, and the play CLASS MOTHER, nominated for best play at the Winterfest Theater Festival 2016. Her theatrical work has been seen at Forward Theater Company in Madison, WI, Ensemble Studio Theatre’s First Brew, Naked Angels Tuesdays at 9, The PlayGround Experiment, and InViolet Theater in NYC. Her writing has been published and performed at The Forward, Kveller, Liars’ League NYC, Manhattan Lit Crawl, and The Fish Anthology (UK). She graduated from the Novel Studio course at City University London, as well as from Columbia (BA) and NYU (MA). She lives in NYC with her husband and three daughters.

To learn even more about the talented Rachel Mann, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE       

GOODREADS   

TWITTER        

FACEBOOK    

INSTAGRAM       

AMAZON     

JEWISH BOOK COUNCIL    

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:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE     

GOODREADS      

FACEBOOK        

AMAZON    

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:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE    

TUMBLR      

GOODREADS     

INSTAGRAM     

TWITTER    

THE NIB   

GOOGLE BOOKS   

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:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE   

GOODREADS    

FACEBOOK   

INSTAGRAM        

AMAZON     

CHAPTERS       

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:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  

GOODREADS      

TWITTER         

FACEBOOK     

INSTAGRAM   

AMAZON.CA     

AMAZON.COM               

CHAPTERS/INDIGO         

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE         

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.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

GOODREADS   

TWITTER 

FACEBOOK   

INSTAGRAM   

AMAZON    

CHAPTERS    

      

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  

GOODREADS     

TWITTER     

FACEBOOK  

INSTAGRAM   

PINTEREST     

BOOKBUB     

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        

HILLBILLY ELEGY by J.D.Vance is a brilliantly written memoir that is unputdownable  – Check it out… 

Title: HILLBILLY ELEGY  

Subtitle: A MEMOIR OF A FAMILY AND CULTURE IN CRISIS   

Author: J.D. VANCE     

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHY, SOCIAL COMMENTARY  

Length: 257 PAGES

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Publisher: HARPER COLLINS   

Release Date: JUNE 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-230054-6

Price: $27.99 USD / $34.99 CDN

Rating: 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS🌟🌟🌟🌟

There are a plethora of books being written and published that focus on minorities and the struggles they have had to endure both in the past as well as today. But, there is one minority group that seems to have been completely neglected – that group consists of poor white people.

The word “Hillbilly” in this book refers to poor, white people whose ancestral roots come from the Appalachian Mountain region.

This book is in no way a treatise of what every “Hillbilly” family is like. It is a memoir of one man’s family, how he grew up, and how he was able to break the cycle of addiction and poverty that stalked his family tree. He professes to have “escaped” the fate of many of his friends through education.

J.D. Vance also writes about how most of the people in his community lost jobs when manufacturing moved out of the area. This is why it is sometimes referred to as the Rust Belt. 

The author, at times, portrays “hillbillies” as a lot of lazy, law-breaking lowlifes who think the world owes them a living. This may be true of some of these families, but I have a hard time believing that it applies to the majority.

I have to admit that I was fascinated by details of the author’s tales of his childhood and by the various members of his extended family. These people, especially his crazy (and violent)  uncles almost seem too clichéd to be real. His mother is portrayed as an addict who cared little for her children and much of J.D.’s emotional pain seems to trace directly back to her and to her actions.

There are so many shocking and seemingly crazy anecdotes included in this book that at times they seem too insane to be true.

Despite the abuses and the flagrant disrespect for the law, two admirable traits shone through all of J.D. Vance’s stories, and those qualities are; the theme of family loyalty and the sense of community. His family may have been poor, but if they were able to help out a community member in trouble, they would.

The one character who is central to the story is J.D.’s grandmother – or MAMAW (pronounced maam-awe) as she is known. Readers will find themselves drawn to her and despite her rough and tough demeanour, her love for J.D. shines through and becomes a beacon for him to follow when making life choices, even though her own life choices included killing a man.

This is a picture of Mamaw in her younger days.

I enjoyed reading this memoir and I am glad that the author escaped the poverty of his youth and embraced upward mobility. He has since become a successful lawyer (and now a successful author.)

If you want a glimpse into a world that most “outsiders’ never see, then this is the book for you. *** I must warn potential readers that this book does include stories that are NOT suitable for children under the age of sixteen. ***

I rate HILLBILLY ELEGY as 4.5 out of 5 Stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟 

 

 

//www.c-span.org/video/standalone/?419678-4

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

J.D. Vance grew up in the Rust Belt city of Middletown, Ohio, and the Appalachian town of Jackson, Kentucky.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school and served in Iraq.

A graduate of the Ohio State University and Yale Law School, he has contributed to the National Review and is a principal at a leading Silicon Valley investment firm.

Vance lives in San Francisco with his wife and two dogs.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE     

GOODREADS     

TWITTER AUTHOR ACCOUNT      

TWITTER BOOK ACCOUNT     

FACEBOOK    

AMAZON   

CHAPTERS        

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE     

J.D. and his beloved Mamaw

The author with his dogs