PEACE – A fabulous children’s book with an important message RELEASES TODAY!!!

Title: PEACE

Authors: MIRANDA PAUL and BAPTISTE PAUL

Illustrator: ESTELÍ MEZA

Genre: CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Length: 40 PAGES

Publisher: NORTH SOUTH BOOKS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MARCH 2, 2021

ISBN: 9780735844490

Price: $18.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Peace is on purpose. Peace is a choice. Peace lets the smallest of us have a voice.

From a hello and pronouncing your friend’s name correctly to giving more than you take and saying I’m sorry, this simple concept book explores definitions of peace and actions small and big that foster it.

Award-winning authors, Baptiste Paul and Miranda Paul, have teamed up with illustrator Estelí Meza—winner of the ‘A la Orilla del Viento’ the premier Picture Book Contest Award in Mexico—to create an inspiring look at things we can all do to bring peace into our lives and world.

MY REVIEW:

PEACE – The title says it all.

This wonderfully illustrated children’s book is written by the husband and wife social justice team of Baptiste and Miranda Paul.

Baptiste and Miranda Paul

Peace is defined in simple terms that any child will be able to apply to their own lives.

The authors encourage children to demonstrate and seek peace through their own actions. For instance: kids are prompted to be polite and respectful. They are told that peace is giving more than they take which is a mantra that adults and children alike should strive to achieve.

The whimsical illustrations are beautiful and exquisite.

Bold colors are liberally used to draw the eye across the pages.

Each two-page spread is so fantastic they are worthy of being framed and hung in a child’s bedroom or playroom.

I am rating PEACE as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I hope to see copies of this book in houses, libraries and schools around the world.

German version
Spanish version

At the same time as the English language version is being published, so to are the Spanish and German versions.

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

The Authors

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

ABOUT BAPTISTE PAUL:

Baptiste Paul

Baptiste Paul grew up in St. Lucia, where at age seven he propagated a root cutting that still produces breadfruit for his family.

He holds an Environmental Science degree and is the author of The Field, which received multiple starred reviews. He is also the co-author of, I Am Farmer, with Miranda Paul.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://baptistepaul.net

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK  

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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ABOUT AUTHOR MIRANDA PAUL:

Miranda Paul is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books for children, including Little Libraries, Big Heroes, illustrated by John Parra. She is a founding member of the organization We Need Diverse Books, and lives with her family in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.mirandapaul.com 

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

YOUTUBE

AMAZON  

PINTEREST

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Estelí Meza is the Mexican illustrator of Peace, a new book that will be published by NorthSouth Books in March 2021.

In Mexico she has received several awards for her work and is now making her international debut.

To read a fabulous interview with the Illustrator, click HERE.

To learn more about this Illustrator visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://estelimeza.com

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE


WIN, WIN, WIN. The 18 Inclusion-isms You Need to Become a Disability Confident Employer by TED Talker Tova Sherman is available NOW. This book will change your outlook and maybe even change your life…

Back Cover

Title: WIN, WIN, WIN!

Subtitle: The 18 Inclusion-isms You Need to Become a Disability Confident Employer

Author: TOVA SHERMAN

Genre: NON-FICTION, DISABILITY, BUSINESS PRACTICES, INCLUSION, DIVERSITY

Length: 58 PAGES

Publisher: REACHABILITY

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JANUARY 26, 2021

ISBN: 9780981323145

Price: $15.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

TOVA SHERMAN—a TED Speaker and thought leader with more than 25 years of experience in diversity and inclusion—is the award-winning CEO of reachAbility, an organization which provides supportive and accessible programs dedicated to workplace inclusion for anyone facing barriers.

As the winner of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Canada Law Leadership Award, Tova is a highly sought-after resource on the laws and challenges of inclusion within today’s swiftly changing employment landscape.

Upon noticing a gap in the arts community, Tova co-founded the Bluenose Ability Arts and Film Festival (BAAFF) in 2015. BAAFF is a festival dedicated to providing the disability arts community a clear voice. Her personal challenges associated with living on the ADHD Spectrum inform her empathy and commitment to equalizing the playing field for those with physical, cognitive, sensory, and mental disabilities.

I LOVE the title of this page

MY REVIEW:

Perfection. This should be required reading not only for business people, but also for everyone serving in any elected position whether in government or in any other organization.

Because it is a mere 54 pages in length, there is little excuse not to read this book.

Disability is finally being discussed and addressed. Today’s society is slowly beginning to cast off its outdated and uninformed opinions around the topic of disAbility. This book is a perfect first step for businesses and organizations who want to become more inclusive, but don’t know how to go about creating that change.

Written in a clear and concise manner, this guide offers practical ways to immediately put inclusive practices to use in their business or organization.

Each of the eighteen “Inclusion-isms” have on the opposite page a theme specific work of art by a disabled artist. For example:

This is the book that the Disability community has been hoping for.

A 5 Star Rating is deserved – with a caveat – If you are looking to delve deeply into the subjects of inclusion and Disability, this is not that type of book. This is the perfect starter/primer and is intended to supply businesses with actions they can implement immediately.

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

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*

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

TOVA SHERMAN

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

INSTAGRAM – REACHABILITY

LINKEDIN

FACEBOOK 

AMAZON   

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

THE BABYSITTER: My Summers With A Serial Killer by Liza Rodman and Jennifer Jordan – A True Crime Memoir Unlike Any Other

Title: THE BABYSITTER

Subtitle: MY SUMMERS WITH A SERIAL KILLER

Authors: LIZA RODMAN and JENNIFER JORDAN

Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME

Length: 352 PAGES

Publisher: ATRIA BOOKS – A DIVISION OF SIMON AND SCHUSTER CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MARCH 2, 2021

ISBN: 9781982129491 (eBook)

Price: $17.99 CDN (eBook)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

A chilling true story—part memoir, part crime investigation—reminiscent of Ann Rule’s classic The Stranger Beside Me, about a little girl longing for love and how she found friendship with her charismatic babysitter—who was also a vicious serial killer.

Growing up on Cape Cod in the 1960s, Liza Rodman was a lonely little girl. During the summers, while her mother worked days in a local motel and danced most nights in the Provincetown bars, her babysitter—the kind, handsome handyman at the motel where her mother worked—took her and her sister on adventures in his truck. He bought them popsicles and together, they visited his “secret garden” in the Truro woods. To Liza, he was one of the few kind and understanding adults in her life. Everyone thought he was just a “great guy.”

But there was one thing she didn’t know; their babysitter was a serial killer.

Some of his victims were buried—in pieces—right there, in his garden in the woods. Though Tony Costa’s gruesome case made screaming headlines in 1969 and beyond, Liza never made the connection between her friendly babysitter and the infamous killer of numerous women, including four in Massachusetts, until decades later.

Haunted by nightmares and horrified by what she learned, Liza became obsessed with the case. Now, she and cowriter Jennifer Jordan reveal the chilling and unforgettable true story of a charming but brutal psychopath through the eyes of a young girl who once called him her friend.

TONY COSTA – Picture Obtained from Wikipedia

MY REVIEW:

Chilling. Horrifying. Almost Unbelievable. Terrifying.

I cannot imagine how the author must have felt when she learned that the man who babysat her and her sister when they were young was actually a notorious serial killer. YIKES!!!

Now, as an adult, Liza is obsessed with learning all the details she was unaware of as a child. It is little wonder she was plagued by nightmares for years.

The point of view makes this true crime tale unlike any other and readers will be unable to put the book down.

Not only does this book delve into the crimes and Liza’s tie to them – including a trip to what turned out later to be his personal secret graveyard, it also explores how a child neglected by her family needed someone to pay attention to her. It also highlights just how different life was in the 1960s and how innocent people were back then.

A five out of five star rating is well deserved. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Releasing on March 2nd, 2021 THE BABYSITTER can be pre-ordered now.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photograph by Joel Benjamin

ARTICLE ABOUT SERIAL KILLER TONY COSTA – Written by Kurt Vonnegut

THE ART OF DYING – A multiple award winning Horror novel that will have you sleeping with the lights on for a very long time ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Five Stars out of Five

Title: THE ART OF DYING

Series: A RAY HANLEY CRIME THRILLER BOOK 1

Author: DERIK CAVIGNANO

Genre: FICTION, THRILLERS & MYSTERIES, HORROR

Length:  322 PAGES

Publisher: DARK CORNERS PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 20, 2019

ISBN: 9781733873307 (Paperback)

Price: $12.99 USD (Paperback)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

A CRIME THRILLER REMINISCENT OF THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS AND THE DEPARTED.

When the bizarre death of a mob foot soldier sparks an escalating war between Boston’s Irish and Italian mafia, Detective Ray Hanley’s relentless search for the truth uncovers evidence of a serial killer obsessed with the art of human suffering.

As the body count rises, Detective Hanley must navigate a minefield of crime families, dirty politicians, and crooked cops, while matching wits with a deranged serial killer.

But temptation, betrayal, and death threaten to derail the investigation… and justice doesn’t come without a price.

MY REVIEW:

The Granite Rail Quarries hadn’t been used to mine granite since the ’60s. Since then, the sheer cliffs and onyx waters made it a favorite dumping ground for stolen cars, shipping carts and, of course, the occasional body.”

THE ART OF DYING begs to be made into a movie. When and if a movie is made based on this book, it will be an instant Blockbuster. With the visual aspect of the killer’s crimes, and the book’s exceptional detail, it almost seems as if this book was written with a future movie script in mind.

I tried to think of books or other authors that I might be able to compare to THE ART OF DYING and the book that instantly came to mind was “Silence of the Lambs” by Thomas Harris. That bestselling book has a creepiness factor that is often missing in contemporary horror novels. That “creepiness factor” is amped way up in THE ART OF DYING which makes it an unforgettable reading experience.

In fact, in trying to think of  additional comparisons, I was transported back to the first time I read “CARRIE” by Stephen King. The unexpected element of “Carrie” was probably the most haunting. In this, “The Art of Dying” actually surpasses “Carrie.”

THE ART OF DYING is not just a scary book. It is much more than that. Horror is definitely the appropriate genre for this book. However, I do not want to mislead potential readers. This is NOT a Gore-Fest. (Although there are some extremely grisly details where the story demands them.) It is a meticulously plotted thriller and mystery and is a study in the intricacies of the depravity that can exist within the human mind.

The plot is fast-paced and will keep your heart racing throughout. The characters are dynamic and terrifying in equal measure and readers will be happy to know that they have not seen the last of Detective Ray Hanley.

This is a book that readers will remember for a very long time. However, if you are at all squeamish, you should probably pass on reading this book.

Scroll to the bottom of this post for an exclusive look at one of the scenes of the book.

Once I started reading “The Art of Dying” I was unable to put it down. It hooked me instantaneously and, even more importantly, it held my fascination right to the final page.

I recently discovered that Author Derik Cavignano is hard at work on the next book starring Detective Ray Hanley and I am hoping to snag an early copy.

I rate this book as 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Derik Cavignano is an award-winning author who writes character-driven stories in a variety of genres, including horror, sci-fi, and crime.

His novel, Colony of the Lost, was a 2016 Silver Falchion Award Finalist for best horror, and The Art of Dying: A Ray Hanley Crime Thriller was the 2019 American Fiction Awards Winner in the Horror: General category.

A native of Boston, Derik currently lives in Florida with his wife, two children, and an angry cat who won’t stop biting him.

The Art of Dying was released on September 20, 2019.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK – THE AUTHOR

FACEBOOK – JKS COMMUNICATIONS  

TWITTER    

AMAZON

LOOKING FOR NORMAL by Award Winning Canadian Author KAREN HARMON is available NOW. This memoir will touch your heart and will stay with you long after the final page

Title: LOOKING FOR NORMAL  

Author: KAREN HARMON  

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, HISTORY, CANADIANA

Length: 268 PAGES

Publisher: TELLWELL PUBLISHING

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: 2018

ISBN: 978-0228802532 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-0228802525 (Softcover)

Price: $23.00 CDN (Hardcover)
Price: $18.00 CDN (Softcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦

DESCRIPTION:

It’s been said that we cannot choose our family members, but what do you do when the drama they bring becomes more than you want to deal with?

You hop on the train that will take you to the land of promise, an alluring place across the mountains, called British Columbia.

LOOKING FOR NORMAL is the account of two people, each struggling to leave the desperate and dysfunctional circumstances of their  lives, to establish themselves in a completely different environment and a new location.

This is a sometimes humorous, sometimes sobering, yet always intriguing true story of family drama, and love found in the midst of heartache, addiction, and mental illness.

It takes readers through the Depression Era of the 1930s, on through the War and Post-War years of the 1940s and ’50s, to the Free Love of the 1960s and ’70s.

Against all odds, Vincent and Frances find each other in the land of promise, and begin the adventure of creating a new, better family experience:  one filled with laughter, hope, and undying love.

They discover that family is not far behind, and through each new episode of dysfunction, they create a lasting legacy of strength, hope, and love within their own children.

This is a heartwarming true story that encourages readers to look on the lighter side of life, to enjoy all that life brings, and to treasure family regardless of what struggles may come.

MY REVIEW:

I have had the benefit of “talking” to the author and she informed me that the original idea behind this book was to create a book that detailed her parent’s lives so her children would be able to feel like they knew them. It is a wonderful idea and I love that Karen decided two things:

1. To not sugarcoat her telling of the lives of her parents,
and
2. To share their story with the world.

Too often when telling others about our parents, or even those who came before them, we edit out the warts of their lives. It is human nature to want people to like us, and somehow that seems to extend to our ancestors as well. No one wants to admit that the blood that flows through our veins or that the DNA in our makeup has any taint to it at all. But, humans are never completely good, or completely bad. And, just because our ancestor did something or had an illness, does not mean that we have the same illness or even the same tendencies.

In LOOKING FOR NORMAL, we learn that Karen’s Grandparents and parents were not perfect (whose were?) We also learn that her parents were determined to create better lives for themselves and to break the family cycle of unhappiness.

The story begins with the following:

“Frances hated her mother. She was taught by the nuns that it was not “Biblical” to hate. So, she decided to leave her mother and the Catholic Church in one fell swoop. Both forces in her life had deceived and criticized her. In Frances’s eyes, both were hypocritical.”

Now, if reading that short paragraph does not entice you to want to read more, well then, you must not have an inquisitive bone in your body. For me, that very first paragraph had we wanting to know more.

Why does Frances hate her mother? What would make someone go to the extreme of saying they hated their mother? What terrible thing or things had she done to Frances? And, why did she hate the church? What had they done to be hypocritical? What did they criticize her about?

So, on I read and what I discovered was a compelling tale which began with Frances (the author’s mother) at the train station in 1941 waiting to catch a train to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

“Frances took one last look at her family. Standing on the platform with them, she felt adventurous and defiant, with no fear of the unknown as she bravely embarked on this journey towards her future… She was physically and mentally abandoning this town, her family, and all the narrow-minded, crazy people in it.”

The courage to pick up and move to a city she had never seen, and to do it as a woman alone, was almost unheard of in 1941. That she did this at a time in history when women were viewed as property of their fathers or husbands, says multitudes about her character and fierce determination.

I do not want to give away too much of the story, so suffice it to say that every reader who picks up this book will be rooting for Frances to find love and understanding.

In addition to being a fascinating story, LOOKING FOR NORMAL also transports readers into the past. This book allows us to glimpse what life was like for ordinary people during the last few generations. It is a true gift to read a true story such as this which is set not in the United States, but right here in Canada.

I enjoyed this book immensely and was thrilled to have the next book in the “series” already on hand so that I could continue to follow the history of the author.

I rate LOOKING FOR NORMAL as 5 out of 5 Enthusiastic Stars.

I will be posting my review of the second book – WHERE IS MY HAPPY ENDING? in the next day or two.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Karen Harmon is an author born in North Vancouver, British Columbia, where she resides today.

Educated and employed as a Special Needs Teaching Assistant for the School District of West Vancouver, Karen can also be found teaching a variety of exercise classes as a BCRPA fitness instructor in both North and West Vancouver. Karen takes health, family and fitness seriously but can find humour in almost any situation.

As a mother of three adult children Jessica, Emma and Mackenzie, Karen shares her co-parenting with her husband Paul of twenty-three years.

Karen is passionate about reaching out to the marginalized people in
her community through health and fitness. Her main hobby has been cycling with her “bike trip friends” yearly since 1993 all over British Columbia and parts of the United States.

On social media, Karen has over 8,000 followers and has travelled to Belgium, Germany, Holland, Paris, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia to host events and speak to her many supporters.

She offers an
inspirational message of hope and how to find a successful balance
with family, friends, education, work and play.

Karen is currently accepting invitations for speaking engagements and writing festivals.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON  

LINKEDIN

CHAPTERS / INDIGO BOOKS

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https://www.doogood.online/karen-harmon?fbclid=IwAR15x8L7oBCJ86-ZQFZfGXjaQc2JvB6Nh7514MVxs-z3begUgunlDHH-kXo

NEW RELEASE – WHY IS MOMMY CRYING? by I. Cori Baill & illustrated by Heather Bell

Title: WHY IS MOMMY CRYING?

Subtitle: Explaining Early Pregnancy Loss to Young Children 

Author: I. CORI BAILL, MD 

Illustrator: HEATHER BELL

Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION, PARENTING AND FAMILIES

Length: 34 PAGES

Publisher: GREENLEAF BOOK GROUP

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JANUARY 19, 2021

ISBN: 9781632993779

Price: $11.95 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

DESCRIPTION:

One is often at a loss how to engage with those in grief, whether adult or child. Because miscarriage affects about a third of pregnancies, most readers likely know someone who has experienced this sadness.

This beautifully illustrated, inclusive, nondenominational picture book helps recipients of every age know that the door is open, and a caring person is on the other side. Written by an experienced physician, Why is Mommy Crying? comforts in the context of family and the larger universe. Young ones are also helped in navigating their fears.

The young protagonist, Max, uses his imagination, and accompanied by his stuffed animal, Mink, begins to understand what has made his mother sad. His imagery and ideas offer a gentle springboard to discuss with children and the adults who love them the broader concepts surrounding grief and recovery.

MY REVIEW:

My first thought when I saw this book was that it was very important and a necessary addition to children’s libraries everywhere. After reading I still think it is wonderful that there is a book available for parents to read to their kids if the parents experience the loss of a pregnancy.

I firmly believe that information is power which is why I chose to read and review this children’s book.

When Max wakes up in the middle of the night, he grabs his stuffed animal (named Mink) and decides to go to his parents’ bedroom. On his way there, he sees his mother in a different room and she is crying.

Curious and worried, Max asks his mother of she has an “owwie” and offers to get her a Band-Aid. His mother says: “No son, I don’t need a Band-Aid. It’s not that kind of owwie.” Max hops up on his Mom’s lap and asks how she had gotten an owwie.

The mother’s response is where this book will lose many of its potential readership. I am a Canadian and as such, am very proud of our multicultural environment. Maybe I am just oversensitive to books that exclude large segments of the population.

Once religious beliefs are introduced into a children’s book, any potential reader whose beliefs are different from those expressed in the book, will be turned off and will not be interested in purchasing that book. I believe this is the case with WHY IS MOMMY CRYING? However, the Christian segment of the population may be even more interested in this book because it talks about God, so maybe this will balance out.

Although this book does not identify with any specific sect, it is clearly intended for Christian households. In my opinion, this is a shame. I believe that a message of love and understanding could easily have been incorporated without mentioning God.

The mother tells Max that “Sometimes a baby returns to be with God.” She further explains that; “God will take care of our baby.” 

The illustrations are fabulous and I like the fact that the mother and father seem to be an interracial couple. The mother is white and the father has brown skin. It is important to have books that reflect the diversity in today’s world. So, kudos for that.

However, because the author is a doctor and therefore (in my mind) a person of science, I was not expecting this book to contain references to God. I expected a more scientific, but still age appropriate, explanation as to why Max’s mother was sad and why the pregnancy ended. I was very disappointed that this was not the case. 

The author does include a list of “Additional Resources” at the end of the book which offer organization names and websites where more information about grief and grieving can be found. I think this is a great idea to include in the book.

I rate this book as 3.5 out of 5 Stars which I am rounding up to 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

Dr. I Cori Baill – Author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. I. Cori Baill earned her medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in New Brunswick, NJ. Following graduation from medical school, she completed her residency training in Gynecology and Obstetrics at The Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, MD. She then served for three years in the US Public Health Service achieving the rank of Lt. Commander, and in July, 1990 was awarded the United States Public Health Service Achievement Medal.

Dr. I Cori Baill – Author

Dr. Baill is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology by the American Board of Obstetricis and Gynecology. She is a Fellow of the American College of Obstitricians and Gynecologists and is a Certified Menopause Practitioner by the North American Menopause Society. During her medical career of over 30 years, she has been affiliated with Planned Parenthood serving on the National Medical Committee, and as a regional and local Medical Director.  She is currently an advisor, laboratory director, and Florida State House physician liaison for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, our regional affiliate. Dr. Baill is the founder of The Menopause Center in Orlando, FL, where she served as medical director for 12 years.

Dr. Baill has been affiliated with the UCF College of Medicine since its founding, serving as a curriculum advisor, and admissions interviewer. She formally joined the faculty in 2015, and is now an Associate Professor. Dr. Baill holds numerous committee positions, including for UCF College of Medicine Admissions, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and North American Menopause Society.

She is a reviewer for American Family Physician and Bellevue Literary Review.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

LINKEDIN 

AMAZON  

GOOGLE BOOKS   

A beautiful illustration by Heather Bell

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Illustrator Heather Bell

Heather Bell whole-heartedly believes that hidden within our everyday lives is a secret realm glimpsed through books, music, and children’s laughter.

Holding a BFA in Painting from the Kansas City Art Institute, she is a member of SCBWI, a participant in the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge, a Children’s Book Academy graduate, and a mommy.

When not illustrating and writing, she searches out story ideas as an undercover school bus driver.

Heather Bell is an author/illustrator represented by Kaitlyn Sanchez at Olswanger Literary Agency.

To learn more about this Illustrator visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE:
https://heatherbellbooks.com

INSTAGRAM

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

ETSY

SOCIETY6

Another gorgeous illustration created by Heather Bell

PEACE – A Children’s Book by Baptiste Paul & Miranda Paul and illustrated by the fantastic Estelí Meza is available for pre-order now

Title: PEACE

Authors: MIRANDA PAUL and BAPTISTE PAUL

Illustrator: ESTELÍ MEZA

Genre: CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Length: 40 PAGES

Publisher: NORTH SOUTH BOOKS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MARCH 2, 2021

ISBN: 9780735844490

Price: $18.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Peace is on purpose. Peace is a choice. Peace lets the smallest of us have a voice.

From a hello and pronouncing your friend’s name correctly to giving more than you take and saying I’m sorry, this simple concept book explores definitions of peace and actions small and big that foster it.

Award-winning authors, Baptiste Paul and Miranda Paul, have teamed up with illustrator Estelí Meza—winner of the ‘A la Orilla del Viento’ the premier Picture Book Contest Award in Mexico—to create an inspiring look at things we can all do to bring peace into our lives and world.

MY REVIEW:

PEACE – The title says it all.

This wonderfully illustrated children’s book is written by the husband and wife social justice team of Baptiste and Miranda Paul.

Baptiste and Miranda Paul

Peace is defined in simple terms that any child will be able to apply to their own lives.

The authors encourage children to demonstrate and seek peace through their own actions. For instance: kids are prompted to be polite and respectful. They are told that peace is giving more than they take which is a mantra that adults and children alike should strive to achieve.

The whimsical illustrations are beautiful and exquisite. Bold colors are liberally used to draw the eye across the pages. Each two-page spread is so fantastic they are worthy of being framed and hung in a child’s bedroom or playroom.

I am rating PEACE as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I hope to see copies of this book in houses, libraries and schools around the world.

German version
Spanish version

At the same time as the English language version is being published, so to are the Spanish and German versions.

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

The Authors

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

ABOUT BAPTISTE PAUL:

Baptiste Paul

Baptiste Paul grew up in St. Lucia, where at age seven he propagated a root cutting that still produces breadfruit for his family.

He holds an Environmental Science degree and is the author of The Field, which received multiple starred reviews. He is also the co-author of, I Am Farmer, with Miranda Paul.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://baptistepaul.net

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK  

INSTAGRAM

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AMAZON

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ABOUT AUTHOR MIRANDA PAUL:

Miranda Paul is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books for children, including Little Libraries, Big Heroes, illustrated by John Parra. She is a founding member of the organization We Need Diverse Books, and lives with her family in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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http://www.mirandapaul.com 

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ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Estelí Meza is the Mexican illustrator of Peace, a new book that will be published by NorthSouth Books in March 2021.

In Mexico she has received several awards for her work and is now making her international debut.

To read a fabulous interview with the Illustrator, click HERE.

To learn more about this Illustrator visit the following links:

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http://estelimeza.com

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THE SUICIDE HOUSE by Charlie Donlea is one of the best Thrillers I have ever read – On a scale of 1 to 10, this book is a 12

When two students are horrifically murdered just outside the grounds of their exclusive prep school, Rory sets out to solve the case and tracks her efforts by recording a podcast (which you can listen to here or below). See the stunning cover and read on for an exclusive excerpt.  – From BookPage

The Suicide House 

Charlie Donlea’s brilliant investigator Rory Moore returns in The Suicide House, which was published July  28, 2020 by Kensington Books. Order NOW.

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Title: THE SUICIDE HOUSE

Author: CHARLIE DONLEA

Genre: FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS

Length: 368 PAGES

Publisher: KENSINGTON BOOKS     

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JULY 28, 2020

ISBN: 9781496727152

Price: $26.00 (Hardcover)

Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

A chilling murder in a prestigious prep school is at the heart of this riveting new novel from acclaimed author Charlie Donlea, featuring forensic reconstructionist Rory Moore and her psychologist partner, Lane Phillips.

Inside the walls of Indiana’s elite Westmont Preparatory High School, expectations run high and rules are strictly enforced. But in the woods beyond the manicured campus and playing fields sits an abandoned boarding house that is infamous among Westmont’s students as a late-night hangout. Here, only one rule applies: don’t let your candle go out—unless you want the Man in the Mirror to find you. . . .

One year ago, two students were killed there in a grisly slaughter. The case has since become the focus of a hit podcast, The Suicide House. Though a teacher was convicted of the murders, mysteries and questions remain. The most urgent among them is why so many students who survived that horrific night have returned to the boarding house—to kill themselves.

Rory, an expert in reconstructing cold cases, is working on The Suicide House podcast with Lane, recreating the night of the killings in order to find answers that have eluded the school, the town, and the police. But the more they learn about the troubled students, the chillingly stoic culprit, and a dangerous game gone tragically wrong, the more convinced they become that something sinister is still happening. Inside Westmont Prep, the game hasn’t ended. It thrives on secrecy and silence. And for its players, there may be no way to win—or to survive….

MY REVIEW:

With the current popularity of True Crime podcasts, THE SUICIDE HOUSE is 100% believable.

Who the heck is Charlie Donlea? Why have I not heard about this incredibly talented author? I have been cheated. I feel like a Putz. What book reviewer worth her salt has missed this author?

Ok. Sorry about that. I was having a moment…

For some reason I had not heard of, nor read, any of Charlie Donlea’s books before discovering THE SUICIDE HOUSE on #NetGalley.

THE SUICIDE HOUSE was released this past July and it is FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC.

Want an edge of your seat thriller that is IMPOSSIBLE to put down? The Suicide House is exactly that.

Fast paced and ever changing, this book will have you thinking you know the answer, but I guarantee you’ll be wrong. The lead characters are as unique as the crime itself. Flawed and full of anxiety, Rory Moore struggles with mental illness which is both a blessing and a curse. It is her OCD attention to detail that makes her such a phenomenal Forensic Reconstructionist. She sees things others miss.

In the summer of 2019, two teenagers being initiated into the secret society that is rumored to exist at their elite High School boarding school, wind up dead. One of those teens ends up impaled on a wrought iron fence, the other lying in a pool of his own blood not too far away from the other body.

A once respected teacher is charged with the grisly murders in an open and shut case.

The boarding school wants nothing more than to put the unpleasant incident behind them and to move forward in their role of churning out model citizens. However, a popular television host has brought renewed interest in the murders by hosting a podcast that has quickly garnered a massive audience.

Brought in by the podcast’s network, Psychology and Serial Killer expert Lane Phillips and his partner Rory Moore, a Forensic Reconstructionist and cold case solving phenom are brought in to hopefully look at the crime with fresh eyes.

Will they find anything new? And if they do, what exactly can be done about it?

Readers will be drawn in right from the first page. I finished the book in a single weekend and read long into the night.

The pacing of this book is sheer perfection. I still can’t believe I hadn’t heard of this Author. I can’t wait to get my hands on his other titles.

I love to be surprised by a plot. Too often I can predict exactly what is going to happen, but that was NOT the case for THE SUICIDE HOUSE.

The characters are so well described that I felt like they were real people. They will be remembered long after you finish reading this book. I am excited to read more books starring the character of Rory Moore.

In addition to the book being absolutely fantastic, there is a multiple episode podcast that has been created as an extra bonus for readers. This podcast is a must listen.

There is no rating less than 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ that would be fair to assign to THE SUICIDE HOUSE. In fact, if it was possible to give a higher rating, I would do so.

I am now a bonafide Charlie Donlea fan and will be reading anything of his that I can get my hands on.

LISTEN TO THE SUICIDE HOUSE PODCAST   

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


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Charlie Donlea is the critically acclaimed, USA Today and Indiebound
bestselling author of Summit Lake, The Girl Who Was Taken, Don’t Believe It, Some Choose Darkness and The Suicide House.

Praised for his “soaring pace, plot twists” (Bookpage) and talent for writing an ending that “makes your jaw drop” (The New York Times Book Review).

Donlea has been called, by Publishers Weekly a “bold new writer…on his way to becoming a major figure in the world of suspense.”

He was born and raised in Chicago, where he continues to live with his wife and two children.

An avid golfer and baseball fan, he spends a part of each year fishing with his father in the far reaches of Canada, where the roads end and lakes are accessible only by floatplane.

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

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THE SAVAGE INSTINCT by M.M. DeLUCA is Historical Fiction at it’s Best. See why here…

Title: THE SAVAGE INSTINCT  

Author: MARJORIE DeLUCA

Genre: FICTIONAL, HISTORICAL FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS, CANADIAN AUTHOR

Length: 300 PAGES

Publisher: INKSHARES

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MARCH 16, 2021

ISBN: 9781947848672

Price: $18.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Learn more about Mary Ann Cotton on the Murderpedia site.

DESCRIPTION:

In the lineage of Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace, The Savage Instinct is the chilling story of one woman’s struggle for her sanity, set against the backdrop of the arrest and trial of Mary Ann Cotton, England’s first female serial killer.

England, 1873.

Clara Blackstone has just been released after one year in a private asylum for the insane. Clara has two goals: to reunite with her husband, Henry, and to never—ever—return to the asylum. As she enters Durham, Clara finds her carriage surrounded by a mob gathered to witness the imprisonment of Mary Ann Cotton—England’s first female serial killer—accused of poisoning nearly twenty people, including her husbands and children.

Clara soon finds the oppressive confinement of her marriage no less terrifying than the white-tiled walls of Hoxton. And as she grows increasingly suspicious of Henry’s intentions, her fascination with Cotton grows. Soon, Cotton is not just a notorious figure from the headlines, but an unlikely confidante, mentor—and perhaps accomplice—in Clara’s struggle to protect her money, her freedom and her life.

MY REVIEW:

“I became acquainted with madness at the age of twenty-six. During that same year, I met the accused murderer Mary Ann Cotton and learned that the evil ones amongst us are not confined to the filthy alleyways of the poor. They mingle freely in the polished parlours of the middle classes and the gilded ballrooms of the wealthy.”

If that first paragraph did not grab your attention, well, maybe you are just a bit mad yourself. 

Set in England in the year 1873, readers learn that Clara Blackstone has spent the past year in one of the many insane asylums that operated in England during those years.

My baby was limp. I’d strained to pull myself up from the fog of ether to hear its cry above the doctor’s mumbling. Silence… They told me it was a stillbirth, but I barely heard them beneath the sound of my own screams.”

Clara’s mental illness? Well, today we know it as postpartum depression exacerbated by the fact that her baby was stillborn, but in 1873, she was simply labeled as “insane.” 

During her year of torturous treatment in the asylum, her husband moved them from London to the city of Durham. It was on her way from the asylum to their new home that their carriage was caught up in a crowd.

The crowd was trying to lay eyes on a woman being led from the courthouse to her transport to the jail. A chant arose:

Mary Ann Cotton, Mary Ann Cotton.
The rope will break yer neck.
And yer’ll be dead and buried and   rotten.”

Clara and her husband eventually arrive at their new home and Clara vows to herself that she will never do anything that could result in her being returned to the hell of the asylum.

That day should have been the start of a new life for Clara, but as readers learn, there are things about her husband that arouse Clara’s suspicions.

When Clara begins doing charity work at the woman’s prison, she is set on a trajectory she could never have seen coming. Readers will not want to put this book down and will find themselves rooting for Clara and possibly even beginning to view multiple murderess Mary Ann Cotton with a dose of sympathy and maybe even a hint of respect.

Along with this wonderful work of historical fiction is a look at the barbaric treatment of “patients” in asylums during that period in history. The author has clearly done her research and exposes many of the horrific “treatments” women were forced to endure. She also includes the fact that many women were shipped off to insane asylums based solely on the testimony of their husbands. So, if a man wanted to take up with a younger woman, all he had to do was say that his wife was hysterical and off the wife went to a life filled with torture and despair. Unfortunately, it is now well known that this happened far too frequently. 

THE SAVAGE INSTINCT is a superb work of historical fiction intertwined with historic facts. Author, Marjorie DeLuca seamlessly weaves her story around the enigmatic figure of the all too real, female serial killer Mary Ann Cotton. I thoroughly enjoyed her take on this historic figure.

Also, the story’s protagonist is 100% believable. Clara Blackstone could easily have been a real person. Her imprisonment in two separate insane asylums proved lifealtering (and not in a positive way.) How her husband treats her once she is released shows the attitudes of the time. Mental illness was seen as a personal failing and not an “illness” at all. Unfortunately, many people still view mental health issues that way today.

At a couple places in the story, I thought I knew exactly what was going to happen next. Both times I discovered (to my delight) that I was wrong. I love it when a plot does not become predictable.

I rate THE SAVAGE INSTINCT as a solid 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I will be keeping an eye on this author’s future endeavors.

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of #TheSavageInstinct ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Marjorie DeLuca spent her childhood in the ancient cathedral city of Durham in North-Eastern England.

She attended the University of London, became a teacher, and then immigrated to Canada where she lives with her husband, two children and a crazy dog named Bella. There she also studied writing under her mentor, Pulitzer Prize winning author, Carol Shields.

Though she loves writing sci-fi for teens, she’s also just completed two historical novels due out in the next few months.

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

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Recently called “the future of publishing” by The Wall Street Journal, Inkshares is a book publisher that uses a crowdfunding model instead of agents and acquisitions editors to decide what to publish.

Their community of readers can pre-order a book project on Inkshares.com, and if the project hits its funding limit, Inkshares brings the book to life by providing editorial services, design, production, national distribution, and marketing.

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

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https://www.inkshares.com

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MORE BOOKS BY M.M. DeLUCA:

MARY ANN COTTON
Another newspaper photo of Serial Poisoner Mary Ann Cotton

HE CAME IN WITH IT – AUDIOBOOK REVIEW Authored by Miriam Feldman and narrated by the talented voice actress Ann Richardson will grab you by the feels and never let you go…

Title: HE CAME IN WITH IT

Subtitle: A Portrait of Motherhood and Madness

Author: MIRIAM FELDMAN

Narrator: ANN RICHARDSON

Genre: NON-FICTION, MEMOIR, MENTAL HEALTH, SCHIZOPHRENIA, PARENTING

Length: 11 HOURS and 4 MINUTES

Publisher: DREAMSCAPE MEDIA

Type of Book: AUDIOBOOK

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JULY 21, 2020

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Self-portrait by Nicholas O’Rourke, age sixteen.

DESCRIPTION:

In an idyllic Los Angeles neighborhood, where generations of families enjoy deep roots in old homes, the O’Rourke family fits right in. Miriam and Craig are both artists and their four children carry on the legacy.

The quote in Nick’s drawing seems to be a hybrid of one attributed to Albert Einstein, and another to Goethe. I am not sure which is correct. I chose it for the blog because it was so prescient, he drew the picture long before we knew what was happening quietly within him.” -Miriam Feldman

When their teenage son, Nick, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, a tumultuous decade ensues in which the family careens permanently off the conventional course.

Like the ten Biblical plagues, they are hit by one catastrophe after another, violence, evictions, arrests, a suicide attempt, a near-drowning…even cancer and a brain tumor…play against the backdrop of a wild teenage bacchanal of artmaking and drugs. With no time for hand-wringing, Miriam advances, convinced she can fix everything, while a devastated Craig retreats to their property in rural Washington State as home becomes a battlefield.

Photograph from Miriam Feldman’s Facebook Page

It is while cleaning out a closet, that Miriam discovers a cache of drawings and journals written by Nick throughout his spiral into schizophrenia. She begins a solitary forensic journey into the lonely labyrinth of his mind.

This is the story of how mental illness unspools an entire family. As Miriam fights to reclaim her son from the ruthless, invisible enemy, we are given an unflinching view into a world few could imagine.

It exposes the shocking shortfalls of our mental health system, the destructive impact of stigma, shame and isolation, and, finally, the falsity of the notion of a perfect family.

We do not stigmatize people with cancer, so why do we do it to those with mental illness. Neither the cancer patient, nor the mentally ill have control over contracting their illnesses.

Throughout the book, it is the family’s ability to find humor in the absurdities of this life that saves them. It is a parable that illustrates the true definition of a good life, allowing for the blemishes and mistakes that are part of the universal human condition.

One of Miriam’s paintings

HE CAME IN WITH IT is the legacy of, and for, her son Nick.

MY REVIEW:

Miriam and Craig seem to have it all. Fulfilling and rewarding careers as successful artists, four amazing kids and a beautiful home in a great area of L.A. Their lives are blessed … at least, that was how it seemed until suddenly their son, their beautiful, artistic, intelligent and sociable son, Nick, started behaving strangely.

Thus began a multi-year odyssey into the world of mental illness and the search for someone, anyone, who could help Nick, and the rest of the family cope with his Schizophrenia.

In HE CAME IN WITH IT, Nick’s mother Miriam, learns just how terribly flawed the U.S. Mental Health system is, and  how profoundly the lives of not just Nick, but the rest of his siblings are irrevocably changed by his new reality.

While Miriam tries to maintain her successful art and mural painting career with its exclusive clientele,  Nick’s behavior rapidly worsens and it soon becomes apparent that Nick’s suffering will not end anytime soon (if ever.)

Once when talking with a friend, Miriam admitted to having a brief fantasy of driving herself and Nick off a cliff together. “The swath of maternal pretending fell away. We sat with the truth of what it means to be a mother.”

I was thoroughly drawn into her story. I too have a son with mental illness (bi-polar, not Schizophrenia) and I empathize with her struggles. At one point she mentions how difficult it is “To see the unspooling of your son’s mind, like fine wire….” A statement loaded with so much emotion.

Although we live in separate countries (Miriam in the United States and I in Canada) I see many parallels and similarities in our lives.

A touching and real view into the life of a mother, a family, and a country and how a single person’s mental illness touches the lives of all those around them. It is not always pretty (in fact it rarely is) but in the midst of anguish there are moments of redemption that are just enough to keep hope alive.

I listened to HE CAME IN WITH IT as an audiobook and I highly recommend this as the way to experience Miriam and Nick’s story. Narrator Ann Richardson is a phenomenal talent. Her pacing is sheer perfection and the way she emotes will have readers feeling as if it is the author herself speaking. Her narration rates a ten out of ten and it is easy to see why she continuously wins awards for her voice.

I rate HE CAME IN WITH IT – the Audiobook – as a solid 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I highly recommend this memoir to anyone who wants to learn more about the realities of loving someone who is profoundly mentally ill through no fault of their own.

Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of #HeCameInWithIt

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Miriam Feldman

Miriam Feldman is an artist, writer, and mental health activist who splits her time between her Los Angeles atelier and her farm in rural Washington state.

Miriam and her husband Craig

She has been married to her husband Craig O’Rourke, also a successful artist, for 34 years and they have four adult children.

Nick

Their 33- year-old son, Nick, has schizophrenia.

With an MFA in painting from Otis Art Institute, Miriam founded Demar Feldman Studios, Inc., a wildly successful mural and decorative art company, in 1988. With a clientele of business and entertainment elite in Los Angeles and abroad, her work can be found everywhere from Wolfgang Puck’s Spago Beverly Hills to Jay Leno’s Beverly Hills home. Her work has been commissioned by William Shatner, Faye Dunaway and Patricia Heaton, among others. DFS’s work has been published in Elle Décor, Architectural Digest, Harper’s Bazaar, and People Magazine.

At the same time, Miriam built a strong career as a fine artist. She is represented by Hamilton Galleries in Santa Monica, CA and has a long list of collectors including Tony Shalhoub and Samuel L. Jackson.

From the author’s Facebook page

When Nick was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2004, Miriam became an activist and a writer. With first-hand knowledge of the woeful state of our mental health system, she decided to be an advocate for those who have no voice.

She serves on the advisory board of Bring Change 2 Mind, Glenn Close’s organization, and writes a monthly blog for the website bringchange2mind.

Miriam is active in leadership at NAMI Washington and her story is featured on the cover of their current national newsletter.

She is a frequent guest on mental health podcasts and is active on Instagram where she is building a community of family and loved ones dealing with mental illness.

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

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Narrator Ann Richardson

ABOUT THE NARRATOR:

Overview:

  • Excellent home studio (with a snazy AT4047); I’ve recorded in it for Audible, Bee, Blackstone, Christian Audio, Deyan Audio, Dreamscape, Harper, Oasis, Tantor and more.
  • Speaks conversational Swedish.
  • Excels at non-fiction (several Earphones Awards) but also delights in fiction.
  • Adept at several accents, children’s voices, male/female dialog.
  • Originally from Nebraska, has broad knowledge base including all things Midwestern, rural, 4-H, fishing, hunting, wildlife management, horse stuff…
  • Now residing in Northern California and enjoys long-distance running, wine tasting, local history and all kinds of touristy-fun things.

Ann has been narrating since 2008, from her state of the art, in-home recording booth. She has been awarded three AudioFile Magazine’s Earphones Awards, and has also been a multi-time finalist for the Society of Voice Arts Awards (2016, 2017, 2018).

Connecting with the story and characters is of paramount importance to Ann, and whether narrating professionally or volunteering her narration services for those with print disabilities, she breathes life into the text with a fierce devotion to authenticity.

Ann’s clients include: Audible, Blackstone Audio, Beacon Press, Bee Audio, Christian Audio, Deyan Audio, DreamScape Audio, Oasis Audio, Harper Audio, Mosaic Audio, PostHypnotic Press, Penguin Random House, Recorded Books, Tantor, and several independent authors.

Ann is an active member of both the Audio Publisher Association and World-Voices Organization.  She gives presentations to author groups on how to make an audiobook, and for two years, was a columnist for InD’tale Magazine, writing all about audiobooks, narrators, and the audiobook industry.

What does Ann enjoy when she’s not narrating?  Running half-marathons, wine-tasting, playing with her giant drooly dogs, visiting her father’s homeland of Sweden, painting, sculpting, amateur photography, and is currently writing her second novel.

To learn more about this Narrator, visit the following links:

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Ok

WHAT IS NAMI?

NAMI can be found online at http://www.nami.org

WHAT IS SCHIZOPHRENIA?

According to NAMI, Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others.

It is a complex, long-term medical illness. The exact prevalence of schizophrenia is difficult to measure, but estimates range from 0.25% to 0.64% of U.S. adults. Although schizophrenia can occur at any age, the average age of onset tends to be in the late teens to the early 20s for men, and the late 20s to early 30s for women. It is uncommon for schizophrenia to be diagnosed in a person younger than 12 or older than 40. It is possible to live well with schizophrenia.

Symptoms

It can be difficult to diagnose schizophrenia in teens. This is because the first signs can include a change of friends, a drop in grades, sleep problems, and irritability—common and nonspecific adolescent behavior. Other factors include isolating oneself and withdrawing from others, an increase in unusual thoughts and suspicions, and a family history of psychosis. In young people who develop schizophrenia, this stage of the disorder is called the “prodromal” period.

With any condition, it’s essential to get a comprehensive medical evaluation in order to obtain the best diagnosis. For a diagnosis of schizophrenia, some of the following symptoms are present in the context of reduced functioning for a least 6 months:

Hallucinations. These include a person hearing voices, seeing things, or smelling things others can’t perceive. The hallucination is very real to the person experiencing it, and it may be very confusing for a loved one to witness. The voices in the hallucination can be critical or threatening. Voices may involve people that are known or unknown to the person hearing them.

Delusions. These are false beliefs that don’t change even when the person who holds them is presented with new ideas or facts. People who have delusions often also have problems concentrating, confused thinking, or the sense that their thoughts are blocked.

Negative symptoms are ones that diminish a person’s abilities. Negative symptoms often include being emotionally flat or speaking in a dull, disconnected way. People with the negative symptoms may be unable to start or follow through with activities, show little interest in life, or sustain relationships. Negative symptoms are sometimes confused with clinical depression.

Cognitive issues/disorganized thinking. People with the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia often struggle to remember things, organize their thoughts or complete tasks. Commonly, people with schizophrenia have anosognosiaor “lack of insight.” This means the person is unaware that he has the illness, which can make treating or working with him much more challenging.

Causes

Research suggests that schizophrenia may have several possible causes:

  • Genetics. Schizophrenia isn’t caused by just one genetic variation, but a complex interplay of genetics and environmental influences. Heredity does play a strong role—your likelihood of developing schizophrenia is more than six times higher if you have a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, with the disorder
  • Environment. Exposure to viruses or malnutrition before birth, particularly in the first and second trimesters has been shown to increase the risk of schizophrenia. Recent research also suggests a relationship between autoimmune disorders and the development of psychosis. 
  • Brain chemistry. Problems with certain brain chemicals, including neurotransmitters called dopamine and glutamate, may contribute to schizophrenia. Neurotransmitters allow brain cells to communicate with each other. Networks of neurons are likely involved as well.
  • Substance use. Some studies have suggested that taking mind-altering drugs during teen years and young adulthood can increase the risk of schizophrenia. A growing body of evidence indicates that smoking marijuana increases the risk of psychotic incidents and the risk of ongoing psychotic experiences. The younger and more frequent the use, the greater the risk.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing schizophrenia is not easy. Sometimes using drugs, such as methamphetamines or LSD, can cause a person to have schizophrenia-like symptoms. The difficulty of diagnosing this illness is compounded by the fact that many people who are diagnosed do not believe they have it. Lack of awareness is a common symptom of people diagnosed with schizophrenia and greatly complicates treatment.

While there is no single physical or lab test that can diagnosis schizophrenia, a health care provider who evaluates the symptoms and the course of a person’s illness over six months can help ensure a correct diagnosis. The health care provider must rule out other factors such as brain tumors, possible medical conditions and other psychiatric diagnoses, such as bipolar disorder.

To be diagnosed with schizophrenia, a person must have two or more of the following symptoms occurring persistently in the context of reduced functioning:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized speech
  • Disorganized or catatonic behavior
  • Negative symptoms

Delusions or hallucinations alone can often be enough to lead to a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Identifying it as early as possible greatly improves a person’s chances of managing the illness, reducing psychotic episodes, and recovering. People who receive good care during their first psychotic episode are admitted to the hospital less often, and may require less time to control symptoms than those who don’t receive immediate help. The literature on the role of medicines early in treatment is evolving, but we do know that psychotherapy is essential.

People can describe symptoms in a variety of ways. How a person describes symptoms often depends on the cultural lens she is looking through. African Americans and Latinos are more likely to be misdiagnosed, potentially due to differing cultural perspectives or structural barriers. Any person who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia should try to work with a health care professional that understands his or her cultural background and shares the same expectations for treatment.

Treatment

There is no cure for schizophrenia, but it can be treated and managed in several ways.

Related Conditions

People with schizophrenia may have additional illnesses. These may include:

Successfully treating schizohprenia almost always improves these related illnesses. And successful treatment of substance misuse, PTSD or OCD usually improves the symptoms of schizophrenia.