DUMPLING CATS by Sarah Sloyer – An Adorable & Unique Crochet Pattern Book – 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟   

Title: DUMPLING CATS      

Series: CROCHET & COLLECT THEM ALL

Author: SARAH SLOYER    

Genre: CRAFTS & HOBBIES

Length: 96 PAGES

Publisher: DOVER PUBLICATIONS 

Type of Book: EBOOK

Received From: NETGALLEY  

Release Date: JUNE 14, 2017  

ISBN: 9780486813431 (PAPERBACK)

Price: $19.95 USD (PAPERBACK)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟     


DESCRIPTION

“Waffles is a relaxed feline who loves to read, and Cheeks just can’t get enough to eat.”

“These fun-loving characters are just two of the 25 dumpling-shaped crochet cats in this whimsical collection.”

“The cuddly crochet critters were inspired by the Pokémon™-like craze Neko Atsume, a game that enables you to attract cats to your backyard and “collect” them.”

“Each little dumpling has a name and personality points that add up to big fun!”


MY REVIEW:

What a visually stunning crochet pattern book!

There are 96 pages to this book. Yes! 96! That is absolutely amazing. Kudos to author Sarah Sloyer and to Dover Publications for not cutting corners. I have to admit that I am extremely impressed at the gorgeous and very detailed photographs for each of the 25 patterns.

Including the extra touches such as a pet bed, food bowls and even a box since everyone knows cats love boxes. These extra patterns are the icing on top of an already decadent and delicious cake.

I was thrilled to realize that due to the step-by-step detailed instructions and photographs, these crochet patterns can be created by crocheters of any ability; from beginner to expert.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
and I will be recommending it to all my crafty friends and family.

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


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:   

                     SARAH SLOYER studied animation at the School of Visual Arts. She is a former designer at Animation Domination High-Def.

She lives in Pennsylvania. 


To find out more about SARAH SLOYER visit the following links:

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Get free patterns by Sarah or buy additional patterns in her RAVELRY STORE   

Do you read Apocalyptic Fiction? Enjoy Dark Humor? THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU!   A is for Asteroids … Z is for Zombies – A Bedtime Book for the Coming Apocalypse – Written by Paul Lewis – Illustrated by the talented Kenneth Lamug. 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Title: A IS FOR ASTEROIDS … Z IS FOR ZOMBIES   

Subtitle: A BEDTIME BOOK FOR THE COMING APOCALYPSE

Author: PAUL LEWIS    

Illustrator: KENNETH KIT LAMUG      

Genre: FICTION, APOCALYPTIC FICTION, HUMOR

Length: 40 PAGES

Publisher: ANDREWS McMEEL PUBLISHING    

Type of Book: EBOOK    

Received From: NETGALLEY    

Release Date: OCTOBER 10, 2017   

ISBN: 9781449486884

Price: $14.99 USD (Hardcover)   

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟  

DESCRIPTION:  

Are you a fan of dark humor? What about zombies? Are you the type of person who reads everything you can about the Apocalypse?

What about your kids? What do you tell them when they come home from school with questions about the future of our world? 

Well, if you are anything like  author Paul Lewis, you create a faux-children’s book of ABC’s that allows you to list all the ways our civilization might end.

The next step is to find an illustrator that can bring your vision to life. That is where KENNETH KIT LAMUG comes in.

Between the twisted imaginings of Paul Lewis and the equally, if not more twisted illustrations of Kenneth Kit Lamug, what you end up with is an uproariously funny book that is sure to become an instant Bestseller. I for one will be purchasing several hardcover copies for myself and my friends.

The fact that each page of the book is told in sing-song rhyming prose adds to the overall unreal quality of this hilarious book.  

If I had the skills to write a book of this kind, this would be exactly how I would want it to turn out.

What I want to say most, is that I recommend this book as highly as possible. If you do not add it to your must-buy list, then you will be missing out. In fact, I forsee many awards and accolades in this book’s future. Let’s just hope that Paul Lewis receives his rewards before one of his potential apocalyptic scenarios comes to pass.

I give 5 out of 5 Stars for this highly imaginative, highly entertaining, and uproariously funny book. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟   

*I would like to say a special Thank You to Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

PAUL LEWIS is an English professor at Boston College, the president of the Poe Studies Association, and the author of Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict (U Chicago Press).

A fascination with gothic fiction and horror films prepared him to publish “The Funeral Game” in Crazy Magazine while he was in graduate school, coin the word “Frankenfood” at the dawn of the GMO era, and write A Is for Asteroids, Z Is for Zombies.

As a freelance writer, Lewis has published op-ed and humor pieces in leading newspapers.

To learn more visit the following links:

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ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR: 

Kenneth Lamug is an author/illustrator based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

As a child, he made comics and books from scraps of used copy paper. Then, stopped drawing for the longest time when his entire family moved to the US from the Philippines.

He finally got back to his creative roots and has been having loads of fun making books and comics for all-ages.

Kenneth’s debut picture book “A Box Story” won the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, Literary Classics, Pinnacle Awards and the National Indie Excellence Book Awards.

 In 2014, he launched a Kickstarter campaign which funded the all-ages graphic adventure book, “The Tall Tales of Talbot Toluca.” 

His most recent books include the macabre children’s fairytale, “The Stumps of Flattop Hill” (One Peace Books) and the parenting parody book, “HURTS LIKE A MOTHER” (Doubleday).

Kenneth is a husband, and father of three rabble rousing boys.


AWARDS KENNETH LAMUG HAS WON: 

2016 SCBWI National Postcard Contest Winner   

* 2016 Children’s Book Academy Golden Ticket Winner

* 2016 Literary Classics (The Stumps of Flattop Hill)  

2014 Moonbeam Children’s Awards Graphic Novel (Talbot Toluca Quest For The Ore Crystals)

* 2014 National Indie Excellence Awards (Talbot Toluca Quest For The Ore Crystals)

* 2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards (A Box Story)  

* 2012 Literary Classics Seal of Approval (A Box Story)  

* 2012 Nation Indie Excellence Awards Finalist (A Box Story)

* 2012 Pinnacle Awards (A Box Story)

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

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STARBORN by Lucy Hounsom may just be one of the best YA Fantasy books to be published in the past few years. A 5 Star Read that will appeal to everyone 16 and up.

Title: STARBORN     

Series: THE WORLDMAKER TRILOGY: BOOK ONE    

Author: LUCY HOUNSOM 

Genre: FANTASY FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, NEW RELEASE /COMING SOON 

Length: 544 PAGES

Publisher: TOR – An Imprint of MACMILLAN PUBLISHERS LTD    
Type of Book: EBOOK

Received From: NETGALLEY   

Release Date: AUGUST 24TH, 2019 

ISBN: 978-1-4472-6845-1 (Hardcover)   

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟    

MY REVIEW:     

Firstly, I need to address the title of this book. If you are the type of person to judge a book by its cover, (everyone does this at least to some degree) you will miss out on a phenomenal book. The cover and title tend to make potential readers think this book will be about outer space and will be a sci-fi novel, however, this is not the case. Starborn is a perfect example of fantasy fiction at its finest.

I literally devoured this book. The characters are so vividly described that a picture of each of them immediately formed in my mind. Not only that, but each character has a fully imagined history that further fleshes out their believability.

This is the first book in the WorldMaker trilogy and even though this book hasn’t been released in North America yet, I am already wishing that I could get my hands on the next book in the series. I believe not only that this book is destined to become a Bestseller, but that it will also be optioned for it’s film rights.

This story has just the right amount of betrayal and dedication, fantasy, magic, history, romance, frustration,  ingenuity and truly astounding world-building which all combine to create a surefire winning combination.

Not since the Harry Potter series, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hunger Games trilogy have I encountered an author with the ability to so seamlessly craft a complex epic tale of right and wrong, of good and evil and with the ability to build an entire world from nothing but their own imagination. The name of Lucy Hounsom will soon be on the lips of North American readers and publishers all over the continent, and rightly so. 

I highly recommend this book to both youth and to adults who love epic adventure stories.

This book will grab your attention from the first page and it will not let go. It is because of its ability to entrance the reader and because of the author’s incredible world-building, that I have no choice but to rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟  

My recommendation is to mark your calendars for August 24th and grab your copy right away since this amazing book is bound to sell out quickly.

* A special Thank You to Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (In Her Own Words):   

* obtained from her website
* Author Photos by LOU ABERCROMBIE

I live in the hilly, red shores of the Jurassic Coast. It’s a beautiful, mysterious part of the country (U.K.), steeped in myth and folklore. And so unsurprisingly, it’s a perfect place in which to make up stories.

In the vein of most writers, I’ve been making up stories for a long time. I grew up in the tamer neighbourhood of the Thames Valley, where I used to think I’d be an actor. I attended theatre school for six years, worked professionally on stage and screen and took an awful lot of dancing exams. That changed when I hit 15. I was writing a novel (like most normal teenagers), and quite randomly thought: wouldn’t it be cool to do this all the time?  

I’ve always loved books, perhaps because my parents read so much to us as children. Dad favoured classics like The Day of the Triffids andHothouse, which – though possibly a bit advanced for under 10s – exposed us both to a multitude of words. (Yes, my sister’s a writer too). But the books that really stayed with me were J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

I am irrevocably drawn to fantasy. As an unsociable teenage misfit, I read mountains of it. Growing up, some of my favourite writers were Robin Hobb, the three Terrys (Brooks, Goodkind and Pratchett), Robert Jordan, Patricia A. McKillip, Ursula Le Guin, David Eddings and Alan Garner. J. K. Rowling holds a special place in my heart for all those summer evenings I spent re-reading Harry Potter, wishing for adventures at Hogwarts.

That first novel still exists on my hard drive, quietly embarrassing me, but despite its flaws, I’m glad I wrote it. Working on the principle that if you’ve done something once, you can do it again, I studied creative writing at university for four years in the hope that I’d be better prepared the second time around. Creating something as vast and complex as a novel is fun, terrifying, exciting, torturous and pretty much every emotion in between. 

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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4 Stars for the Speculative fiction short story LEVIATHAN by SAUL TANPEPPER. 

Title: LEVIATHAN – A SHORT STORY 

Author: SAUL TANPEPPER  

Genre: SPECULATIVE FICTION

Length: 31 PAGES

Publisher: BRINESTONE PRESS

Type of Book: EBOOK

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: FEBRUARY 11, 2017

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟


OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION:


Earth is dying.

On a barren, windless shore of a dead sea, two people, a father and his child, eke out a meager existence. They eat what little they can find. They are tormented by memories and tales of what the world once was.

Then, on a day no different than the thousands of others they have lived, the child hears the ghostly call of a sea creature presumed extinct for decades. Was it real? Or was it the last gasp of planet nearing death?

Leviathan is a short, dark, and haunting post-apocalyptic story (6500 words) written in stream-of-consciousness. Fans of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which inspired this story, will recognize similarities.


Appropriate for readers of all ages. 


CHECK OUT THE TRAILER: 


MY REVIEW
:

As the world nears its end, a father and his child are tormented by the ghostly call of a sea creature presumed extinct for decades.

Is it the last gasp of a dying planet? Or a reason to hope?

This is an thought-provoking and extremely interesting story. It may have been short, but it packed a punch. It is worth reading.

I rate LEVIATHAN as 4 out of 5 Stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Saul Tanpepper is the speculative fiction pen name for Ken J. Howe, a retired PhD molecular biologist and biotech entrepreneur who writes full time in multiple genres. The pen name honors the memory of his high school buddy, who passed away at age 27. “Salt and Pepper” was a favorite epithet, given the author’s premature graying.

After a childhood in a small town in Upstate New York, he entered the U.S. Army and was trained as a combat medic. He did a tour in West Germany before the wall came down, working as both a medic in an armored infantry unit in Mannheim and a hospital attendant in Frankfurt. After returning Stateside, he did a tour as a trauma specialist in the emergency room at Walter Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, and at Lawrence General Hospital in Massachusetts.

He attended university in Santa Barbara, CA, majoring in biology and creative studies while working as a medical assistant. He studied molecular biology and genetics as a graduate student, then completed his post-doctoral fellowship at Berkeley.
Prior to entering the work force, he and his wife spent six months traveling through the Middle East and Africa, logging over 50,000 miles in a refurbished garbage truck.

He spent 10 years in biotech, working his way from bench scientist to Director of R&D and site manager of a major pharma company. He then formed his own company, Collabria BioSciences, and was VP of R&D of another startup.

He retired from the business in 2011 to write and publish full time. Under his real name, he writes literary young adult, middle grade, and children’s picture books. As Saul Tanpepper, he writes and publishes speculative fiction (scifi, horror, fantasy).

​He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, children, and many pets and farm animals.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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BY EMAIL: Send email to: 
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MORE BOOKS BY SAUL TANPEPPER: 



THICKER THAN WATER by LEXIE CONYNGHAM – New Release and Blog Tour 

Title: THICKER THAN WATER   

Author: LEXIE CONYNGHAM 

Genre: HISTORICAL CRIME FICTION 

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION: 

When young Walter finds a dead body along with the dead fish in his tutor’s fishpond, he knows he should tell his old master, Charles Murray of Letho. The dead man leaves a pretty wife and child and a broken string quartet, but someone must have profited by his death – could it be the avenger from his past as his widow fears, or is it someone from closer at hand? St. Andrews is once again the setting for a murder mystery, and a puzzle that Murray must solve before the murderer strikes again.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Lexie Conyngham has been publishing the Murray of Letho historical crime novels since 2011, but writing them for much longer.

A historian and part-time teacher in North-East Scotland, she is also much involved in knitting, gardening and practical archaeology (that is, recreating things people did in the past.)

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BLOG TOUR HOSTED BY: 

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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.

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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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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: 

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CHAPTERS      

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.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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OTHER BOOKS BY ROBERT CORAM: 

MY AWARDS FROM NETGALLEY

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An Amazing Book Coming Soon – THE LAURAS by Sara Taylor 5 out of 5 Stars just is not enough – LOVED THIS BOOK 

Title:  THE LAURAS   

Author: SARA TAYLOR

Genre: FICTION, LGBTQ

Publisher: CROWN PUBLISHING, HOGARTH  

Release Date:  AUGUST 1, 2017  

EDITION: HARDCOVER

ISBN: 9780451496850

Price: $26.00 (USD)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟    

Wow! I have just finished reading the final page of THE LAURAS and I can already tell you that this book is going to be on my list of the BEST BOOKS OF 2017.

Although this book will not be officially released until August, I urge everyone that reads this review to put the date on your calendar and not to miss out.

This is one of those extremely rare books that is worth standing in line for  – at midnight, on the eve of its release. Yes, IT IS THAT GOOD.

THE LAURAS is a tale that will take readers on a journey of dual-discovery. It is a tale of a mother and child who set out on a cross country trip during which the mother makes multiple interesting side-trips.

These trips could last a day, a month, or even several months. They could be boring (in Alex’s opinion), they could be strange, and sometimes they were even downright terrifying.

Alex is a child (less due to her age, and more due to her limited life experience) when this story begins, but as the cross-country Odyssey continues Alex grows into a young adult. Thanks to the fact that Alex is the narrator, readers are brought along on Alex’s unique journey into the perils and delights of becoming the person who was always meant to be. And, trust me – this is a coming of age story unlike any other.

I wish there was a way to give more than 5 out of 5 stars, because this book is a masterpiece of fiction and I have no doubt that it will win many awards and will end up on Bestseller Lists everywhere. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

THE CHARACTERS:

How do I describe Alex’s mother? It’s a dilemma, but perhaps I will let Alex  describe her since that expanation will be so much better than mine.

“Ma’s mood had perked up; I could see the happy on her face and the weight was rolling off her shoulders like stones … and it looked like she might start singing at any moment. If she’d been the kind of person that sang. Really, she’d be more likely to start spontaneously handing around shots of tequila as an expression of happiness, but singing sounds better.”

Some people might think that having a Mom like that would be fun – and maybe it would be; for a little while, anyway. But, a parent is meant to take care of their child, not act like a child herself.

Alex is a conundrum wrapped in an enigma. When the reader learns more and more about Alex’s life and personality, it is impossible not to root for this interesting and inscrutable character. Readers will find themselves second guessing what they think they know about Alex and this mystery remains until the very end of the book.

MORE

This would be a terrific book to feature in a Book Club setting since there is just so much in it that readers will want to talk about.

I also think that this book just might have some people questioning their own stances on many issues. I would love to say more here, but I refuse to ruin this story for anyone.

FAVORITE QUOTE:
“But I didn’t have the child’s blind trust in the omnipotence of parents anymore: I had eaten the apple, knew that Ma was no different from me, that she probably didn’t know what to do right now anymore than I would, that her only advantage was a rapidly narrowing gulf of experience.”

IN CONCLUSION:

ADD THIS BOOK TO YOUR TBR (TO BE READ) LIST AND MARK AUGUST 1st, 2017 ON YOUR CALENDAR. You will be glad you did.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

SARA TAYLOR is a product of Virginia and the homeschooling movement. She traded her health for a BFA from Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia, and her sanity for an MA in Prose Fiction from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England.

Following the MA her supervisor refused to let her leave, so she remains as a PhD candidate at the UEA where she researches censorship, writes fiction, and is occasionally entrusted with the teaching of undergraduates.

 She spends an unprecedented amount of time on delayed trains between Norwich and her husband’s house in Reading, and tends to get lost, rained on, and chased by cows with unsettling frequency.

Her short fiction has been published electronically and in print in The Fiddlehead, The Fog Horn, and Granta, among other places. Her novels are published by William Heinemann in the UK, Hogarth in the US, and Bond Street Books in Canada.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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BLOG 

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Read an interview with Sara Taylor HERE.