THE MOONSTONE GIRLS is destined to be One of the Best Books of 2022 – Pre-order Now to avoid missing out

Title: THE MOONSTONE GIRLS

Author: BROOKE SKIPSTONE

Release Date: FEBRUARY 14, 2022

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, LGBTQ

Number Of Pages: 397

Publisher: SKIPSTONE PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

ISBN: 978-1-73700643-5

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Mount McKinley in Alaska – the name was changed and it is now called Mount Denali – Notice the digging bear on the left side of the photo Photographer Daniel Leifheit

DESCRIPTION:

1968, a seventeen-year-old queer girl traveled to Alaska disguised as a boy.

Tracy should have been a boy. Even her older brother Spencer says so, though he wouldn’t finish the thought with, “And I should have been a girl.”

Though both feel awkward in their own skin, they have to face who they are—queers in the late 60s.

When both are caught with gay partners, their lives and futures are endangered by their homophobic father as their mother struggles to defend them.

While the Vietnam War threatens to take Spencer away, Tracy and her father wage a war of their own, each trying to save the sweet, talented pianist.

At seventeen, Tracy dresses as a boy and leaves her parents in turmoil, with only the slimmest hope of finding peace within herself. She journeys to a girl with a guitar, calling to her from a photo, “Come to Alaska. We’d be great friends.”

Maybe even The MoonStone Girls.

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MY REVIEW:

My first thought after reading THE MOONSTONE GIRLS is that it must be somewhat autobiographical. Author Brooke Skipstone has written with such depth of emotion that it is difficult to believe the story is fictional.

Before I get too far into my review I wanted to be sure to mention just how gorgeous the cover of this book is. It is the perfect blend of colors to bring the 1960s to mind. And, the choice to just use silhouettes is 100% inspired. 5 Stars for the cover. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I love that this #book is set in the late #1960s – an era much different than today’s world. So much was different at that time for anyone who was gay, and as hard as it is to fathom, being gay was considered to be against the laws of both God and men. This just highlights how far LBGTQ rights have come (even though society still has a ways to go.)

I cannot fathom the fear and pain experienced by LGBTQ youth at that time in history, especially for men whose arousal is much harder to hide. In the book, both Tracy and her brother Spencer are queer. The good thing is that they have each other to lean on and they have a mother who loves them just the way they are. This is much more than most #queer #youth had in their lives during that period in #history

This book delves into not just LGBTQ history, but also into the #draft and the #VietnamWar #WomensRights #RockAndRoll and the #SexualRevolution

There are some extremely #emotional scenes in The Moonstone Girls and at one point during reading I was literally in tears. It takes a truly talented #writer to be able to evoke so much #empathy and #emotion in their readers. Kudos to Brooke Skipstone for writing such an important and believable book.

Ultimately, this is a tale about hope and about having the courage to fight back in the best way you can against those who would try to stop you from living life on your own terms. It will encourage readers to never settle for second best and to keep trying until they find a place where they belong and where they can live a life of hope and honesty. It also reminds us that there is a person out there for everyone and that everyone has the right to live a happy life on their own terms.

Tracy is a fiery, take-no-prisoners type of young woman. This is the face she shows to the world, but inside, she is suffering and full of shame. This reminds readers that the persona people present to the world is not always accurate and that everyone has an inner world that is invisible. Never judge a book by its cover is a great lesson and one that we often forget.

Although not specifically stated, I get the feeling that the author also wants readers to think about mental health and to realize the depths of despair that people can feel when forced to live a lie just to be “normal.”

All in all I have to say that this book should be on everyone’s Must Read list for 2022 and although it is labeled as Young Adult fiction, this book will appeal to readers of all ages.

I am rating THE MOONSTONE GIRLS by Brooke Skipstone as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ and I highly recommend this book … just make sure you have a box of tissues nearby when you read it.

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

BELOW IS THE MOONSTONE GIRLS PLAYLIST

https://open.spotify.com/embed?uri=spotify%3Aplaylist%3A3FHQ6I55MRmqkIuFhA2mvD

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brooke Skipstone lives in Alaska, where she watches the mountains change colors with the seasons from her balcony.

Where she feels the constant rush toward winter as the sunlight wanes for six months of the year, seven minutes each day, bringing crushing cold that lingers even as the sun climbs again.

Where the burst of life during summer is urgent under twenty-four-hour daylight, lush and decadent. Where fish swim hundreds of miles up rivers past bear claws and nets and wheels and lines of rubber-clad combat fishers, arriving humped and ragged, dying as they spawn.

Where danger from the land and its animals exhilarates the senses, forcing her to appreciate the difference between life and death. Where the edge between is sometimes too alluring.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

GOODREADS

AMAZON  

#NetGalley #AmiesBookReviews #BookReview #tbr #BookReviewer  #ReadAndReview #bibliophile #bookstagram #bookstagrammers #AuthorsOfInstagram #author #NewBook #MustRead #BookNerd #book #books #reading #yalit #ya #instagramhub #YoungAdultFiction
#TheMoonstoneGirls #BrookeSkipstone #LGBTQ #DiverseBooks #1968 #Vietnam #DraftCards #Equity #Equality #LoveIsLove

YAKS CAN DO YOGA! BOOK BLITZ TODAY!!! – A #Fabulous #kidlit #childrensbook about #mindfulness and #yoga with #adorable #animal #illustrations (aimed at ages 3-11)

Title: YAKS CAN DO YOGA!

Author: Snezana Danilovic

Illustrator: Sandy Thornton 

BOOK BLOG TOUR COMING SOON

DESCRIPTION:

Yoga makes children happy, healthy and strong!

But if you are a clumsy yak, with wobbly hooves, who has never done yoga before, it can be tricky. Join Yak in her first Happy Panda class and see how she discovers the power and playfulness of yoga.

Eight yoga poses and their benefits are clearly explained and illustrated at the back of the book so young children can easily do them at home or in the classroom.

Yoga is for everyone! Adorable, engaging characters and humorous story draw in young children and get them hooked on yoga, creating healthy mind-body habits to last a lifetime.

Mindfulness and meditation are lots and fun! The story’s humorous, creative visualisation exercises tap into young children’s innate imagination, facilitating a deeper understanding of their emotions and developing confidence and resilience.

Author and experienced children’s yoga teacher Snezana Danilovic and illustrator Sandy Thornton team up to create the Happy Panda Children’s Yoga picture book series of heart-warming stories full of gentle humour, aimed at encouraging even very young children to get hooked on yoga. Parents, teachers and educators don’t need to be experienced yogis – they can learn and enjoy yoga alongside young readers, too!

YAKS CAN DO YOGA! IS THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES.

Buy Link:

https://amzn.to/3hcuv3s

https://youtu.be/kbVLkGePXNY

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Snezana Danilovic is a children’s author and an experienced children’s yoga teacher.

Her mission is to bring yoga to children through her passion for storytelling.

She has spent the last 30 years writing and working in theatre and children’s TV, creating an array of characters for pre-school and early years.

Snezana lives in Windsor with her husband, two children and a hamster.

She loves hugging trees and her house is full of balloons and musical instruments!

To learn more about this Author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

TWITTER  

INSTAGRAM

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Sandy Thornton is a picture book maker with over 20 years experience in early years creative play, running her own children’s art & craft classes, whilst providing creative ideas and content for children’s TV, including Cbeebies Mr Maker. From an early age, Sandy snipped, sketched, glued and stapled her own little books and magazines, influenced at the time by Herge’s Tintin and Jansson’s Moomins. Sandy lives in North London, with her family, their dog Winston and cat Rocky.

To learn more about this Illustrator visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

FACEBOOK

YOUTUBE

BOOK BLITZ ORGANIZED BY:

UNSILENCED: A Teacher’s Year of Battles, Breakthroughs and Life-Changing Lessons at Belchertown State School by HOWARD C. SHANE is an unforgettable and compelling story of finding hope and inspiration in the most unlikely of places – THE MOST IMPORTANT MEMOIR YOU WILL READ IN 2021 – 5+ STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: UNSILENCED

Subtitle: A Teacher’s Year of Battles, Breakthroughs, and Life-Changing Lessons at Belchertown State School 

Author: HOWARD C. SHANE   

Genre: NON-FICTION, DISABILITIES, HISTORY, MEMOIRS, DISCRIMINATION

Length: 254 PAGES

Publisher: BROOKES PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: NOVEMBER 1, 2021

ISBN: 9781681255156

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

https://m.facebook.com/watch/?v=898640163601782&_rdr

DESCRIPTION:

The year is 1969, and fresh-out-of-college smart-aleck Howard Shane has just landed his first teaching job—at Belchertown State School, a bleak institution where people with disabilities endure endless days of silence, tedium, and neglect.

Howard is stunned by the conditions at Belchertown and the challenges of his new job, but as he gets to know his diverse, endearing, and intelligent students, he becomes consumed with a mission: to unlock their communication skills and help them reach their full potential. Pitting his youthful idealism and passion against the rigidity of a rule-bound administrator, Howard battles his way to small joys and victories with his students—and, along the way, learns just as much as he teaches.

A stirring and spellbinding memoir from internationally renowned AAC expert Howard Shane (Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School), Unsilenced is a candid look at a pivotal era in disability history and a deeply personal account of how all human beings can flourish when we care for each other and fight for change.

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MY REVIEW:

“It began in 1969, at a school with a name that’s repellent to modern ears: ‘Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded.’ Located in the sleepy town of Belchertown, Massachusetts, it was a grim institution where children with a wide range of disabilities were warehoused for nearly a century. At that time, parents of children with disabilities had few alternatives when it came to raising and educating their children.”

This fantastic memoir is an important addition to the history of people with disabilities. This is a story that MUST be told.

A scan of a 35mm slide taken of one of the dorms at BSS likely in the late 1970s.

Howard Shane was only 22 when he took a teaching position at the Belchertown State School. Much has been written about the institutions where “disabled” people were warehoused in the past. However, this book is completely unlike any other.

Ruth Sienkewicz-Mercer – Born in Northampton, MA, Ruth suffered a severe bout of encephalitis at five weeks old and at 13 months was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Ruth was admitted to Belchertown as a teen and spent the next 8 years in a bed on a ward for schizophrenics. In 1969, Ruth was introduced to a new teacher, Howard Shane, who, with the help of the physical therapist, created the first alternative communication device that allowed Ruth to communicate more widely. By then, the nurses on the ward had already figured out that Ruth communicated using eye movements and facial expressions.

Institutions such as the Belchertown State School were not places of learning as one would expect from the name. It’s full name says much about the commonly held attitudes of the time: The Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded. These were NOT places where hope or inspiration could be found. Instead, the residents were taught either only the basics of self-care, or were taught nothing at all.

Residents (patients) were often left with little or no access to external stimuli and had little access to educational materials.

When Howard Shane arrived to begin his teaching position, he had no idea that it would shape his entire future.

With A and K Building demolished, the worst conditions could be found in the other two large scale residential buildings: G Building and the Infirmary shown here where residents far outnumbered staff and there was little day to day activity on the wards to enrich the residents’ time there. The residents of the infirmary rarely left their beds unless it was to spend time on mats that were spread out on the floor. From Instagram.

Determined to actually educate his students, who were the most severely physically disabled residents of the “school,” Howard devised a way for the non-verbal students to actually communicate. This invention changed the lives of his students in untold ways.

In the early 1940s the residents attended the Belchertown fair and enjoyed riding the carousel so much that the administration decided to purchase one for the school. In 1948 they purchased a c. 1912 Stein & Goldstein Carousel from Forest Lake Park in Palmer. Obtained from the Belchertown State School Friends on Instagram

His dedication to actually educating his students caused him to butt heads with the administration continuously. His views were seen as radical and his goals for his students were seen as unrealistic and a waste of time.

This book will grab your attention and is 100% unputdownable. Readers will find themselves rooting, not only for Howard Shane, but also for the students in his unconventional classroom.

This book is important. We need to remember the past and how people with disabilities were viewed and treated. This knowledge is essential so that society is never allowed to slip back into believing the uneducated views of the past.

I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone who believes that every person, despite their physical and mental disabilities, are important and deserve the chance to be happy and to live a fulfilling life.

I am very much hoping that Dr. Howard Shane decides to write a follow up to this memoir. I would be extremely interested in hearing more about his career and the devices he helped to create. In my view, Howard C. Shane is an exceptional human being and his life and work need to be celebrated.

I rate this book as 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I will be eagerly awaiting the next volume of his memoirs.
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*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

* Hear an Excerpt Read by Howard Shane, Ph.D. here: 

https://products.brookespublishing.com/Unsilenced-P1285.aspx

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From: AsylumProjects.org

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Howard Shane, Ph.D.,is an associate professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Center for Communication Enhancement and the Autism Language Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

He has designed more than a dozen computer applications used widely by persons with disabilities and holds two U.S. patents.

Dr. Shane has received Honors of the Association Distinction and is a fellow of the American Speech and Hearing Association.

He is the recipient of the Goldenson Award for Innovations in Technology from the United Cerebral Palsy Association and has authored numerous papers and chapters on severe speech impairment, lectured throughout the world on the topic, and produced numerous computer innovations enjoyed by persons with complex communication disorders.

https://images.app.goo.gl/WfN2yAadxXCmtzgi8

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

WIKIPEDIA

BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

BROOKES is the premier publisher of practical, research-based resources that support children’s healthy development and boost the learning and success of all people, with and without disabilities. We partner with pioneers and fresh voices to inspire readers and provide them with the tools needed to help all learners achieve academic success and work toward a bright future.

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

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PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE BELCHERTOWN STATE SCHOOL:

Photograph obtained from http://www.asylumprojects.org
This photo shows dinner being served in one of the women’s buildings at the Belchertown State School in the late 1920s or early 1930s. Food was prepared for residents at a central kitchen and delivered to the various dormitories.
Note the Buster Brown haircuts on most of the women–the preferred style because it was said to be easier for the staff to do than anything else. (Photo courtesy of the Clapp Memorial Library)
In this 1972 photo, empty beds at the Belchertown State School are pictured. James Shanks reported in his 1970 expose on the conditions at Belchertown State School where men slept in large barracks, beds touching head to foot, with only a narrow twelve-inch aisle separating rows. Sometimes residents had to climb over one another to get to and from their beds. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Albertson/CORBIS)

The Following Photos and Links have nothing to do with Dr. Howard Shane’s memoir. They are included here as additional content I found interesting:

INFORMATION ON THE BELCHERTOWN STATE SCHOOL

From: The ATLAS OBSCURA WEBSITE

THE BELCHERTOWN STATE SCHOOL FOR THE FEEBLE-MINDED was founded in 1922.

The 845 acre campus comprising some 57 buildings must be called scenic, if nothing else—the Holyoke Range is visible from the campus, and many of the original structures were old farmhouse cottages (five farms were purchased to build the school).

After its establishment, the school became the only institution for developmentally disabled children in Western Massachusetts. Conditions deteriorated over the next few decades. Wards were overcrowded and attendants overworked. As a result, patients were often left to soak for hours in their own excrement. Sometimes, handicapped patients had their teeth removed to facilitate feeding.

In 1992, the school was finally closed after decades of reported human rights violations. In 1994, the campus was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, the buildings are all boarded up. Graffiti and vandalism are rampant. Many of the ward rooms have been destroyed. Weather has also done its fair share of damage. The buildings have asbestos and, while possible to walk in, aren’t structurally sound.

However relics remain of the old school. One room in a large dormitory building still has plastic mats nailed to the walls—a padded cell. Large recreational rooms on either side of the dormitory halls get the most sun. The light is fractured by old-fashioned wheelchairs. In the basement of one building, a piano is lying on its back like a sleeping horse.

And, while the town of Belchertown may have forgotten this nasty piece of its history in the few decades since the state school was closed, it is possible the former residents still remember. In an upper floor, a note was scrawled on the floor, on top of which were human feces. “We were here. Now we’re gone,” it read. “Clean this place up. It’s a mess!”

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

The grounds are conveniently located right behind the Belchertown Police Department. There are No Trespassing signs, and the local paper reports trespassers being arrested on a weekly basis.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you might find the following links interesting:

ARTICLE: Abandoned New England: Photos from inside the old Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded by Matt Hester, Freelance Photographer on MASSLIVE website

Book: Crimes Against Humanity: A Historical Perspective. It was written by Benjamin Ricci, who sent his six-year-old son Bobby to live there not knowing what the conditions were like, and who was involved in the initial 1972 lawsuit.

Another book with vivid descriptions of Belchertown is Ruth Sienkiewicz-Mercer’s I Raise My Eyes to Say Yes. She was a resident of the school in the 1960s and 1970s. Ruth was one of Howard Shane’s students.

BOOK: THE BOYS AND GIRLS OF BELCHERTOWN by Robert Hornick

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. ***

*

*

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

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