THIS IS NOT MY LIFE: 

Title: THIS IS NOT MY LIFE

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

Author: DIANE SCHOEMPERLEN

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

Length: 351 PAGES   

Publisher: HARPER COLLINS 

Release Date: FEBRUARY 7, 2017

ISBN:  978-1-44343-420-1  

Price:  $24.99 CDN

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

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟   

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

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


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

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

I was intrigued.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Clipping from THE TORONTO STAR



MORE THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK


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

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

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

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

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


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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

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


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



– One of five finalists for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize 

  
 – Mar 02, 2017 – 41 minute video

About this Video: 

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

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


MACLEAN’S MAGAZINE ARTICLE with video interview        

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

Title: GULLY DIRT

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

Author: ROBERT CORAM

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHY, MEMOIR

Length: 266 PAGES

Publisher: FIVE BRIDGES PRESS 

Release Date: JANUARY 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9983820-0-5

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

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


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

Paragraph one and I was hooked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you are: 

A) Easily offended by books that contain swearing or if 

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

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

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

* I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley


MY FAVOURITE QUOTES:


“…mean as uncovered cat shit…”

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

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

“Gully dirt ain’t good for nothing.”


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE    

GOODREADS   

TWITTER   

FACEBOOK      



OTHER BOOKS BY ROBERT CORAM: 

MY AWARDS FROM NETGALLEY

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BERKELEY TO PARIS AND BACK WITH TWO STOPS IN NEW YORK by Lynn Snyder is a moving read. 4 Stars -🌟🌟🌟🌟

Title: BERKELEY TO PARIS AND BACK WITH TWO STOPS IN NEW YORK

Author: LYNN SNYDER

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Genre: MEMOIR, NON-FICTION

Length: 101 PAGES

Publisher: CREATE SPACE

Release Date:

ISBN: 9781530855896

Price: $5.38 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟


* I received a free copy of this book through the 
Goodreads Giveaway program.

Shop Indie Bookstores

Playwright Lynn Snyder had decided to give up looking for love. In fact, she even briefly contemplated moving far away from San Francisco to live out the rest of her life on the edges of the High Sierra mountain range.

Thankfully she realized that idea would be taking things a bit too far.

Not long after making this monumental life decision, she heard an announcement on her favorite classical music radio station regarding personal ads for meeting people with the same interests (this was many years before the invention of online dating.) Lynn decided she wouldn’t mind meeting new people and answered an ad that interested her.

It was the best decision she had ever made. It was how she met and fell in love with Leo, which led to them having twenty years together.

I expected this book to be a chronicle of their lives together and nothing more, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that while it was what I expected, it was also so much more.

Leo is eventually diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease and at this point in the story it could have taken a dramatic and sad turn. The author instead chooses to use his diagnosis as a challenge. It is one that Leo will inevitably lose, but at least they had each other and they were deeply in love.

Lynn Snyder is an intelligent and interesting person who loves to travel and who is extremely self-aware. I love that she is unapologetic and firm in her beliefs – many of which I share.

The scene I found the most compelling takes place at a Huntington’s Support Group.

Jane’s eighty-year-old mother, Marilyn tells us that Jane has started to become violent.” Obviously this poses great problems for Marilyn since she is Jane’s sole caregiver. “She says that when her physician suggested Jane be placed in a nursing home, Jane protested loudly, demanding that she be allowed to commit suicide.” Marilyn is deeply religious and does not believe in suicide and the resident social worker tells her to trick Jane into going into a nursing home. She also points out that suicide is illegal. I agree 100% with Lynn’s response to this conversation and I applaud her for voicing her opinion in such an emotional matter. When she says that suicide is a crime, Lynn says:

 
“I’m well aware of that. But deceiving a mentally unstable person should be and isn’t, which doesn’t mean that we, in this group, should be as unenlightened as our society.”

Lynn leaves the support group – never to return. She realizes that she does not fit in, which, in my opinion, is a good thing.

Lynn also does a credible job of articulating the helplessness and despair that is often felt by those who have to watch a loved one deteriorate, knowing there is nothing they can do to save them. This is my favorite quote from the book:

“I want to help him speak and walk. I want to rub strength into his fingers so that he can play the piano. I love him so much, and it seems incredible that I can’t translate my love into restoring what is rightfully his – speech, mobility, everything that allows him to be who he is.”

There is so much emotion in those few short sentences and Lynn’s love for Leo shines like a beacon for the rest of us.

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

The one thing that I would have liked to see would have been some photos the couple and possibly some photos of their travels and their homes. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Lynn Snyder was born in Akron, Ohio. After receiving a degree in political science from the University of Michigan, she became a journalist.

She spent time in London, England, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, before moving to Northern California.

It was there that she met her husband, Leo.

In addition to journalism, Snyder has also worked as a playwright, campaign publicity director, and literature teacher.

Visit Lynn Snyder on FACEBOOK    

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CLICK ON THE “SHOP INDIE” LINK TO BUY NOW.

TERROR’S END describes the life, crimes and trial of Canadian Serial Killer – Alan Legere

Title: TERROR’S END

Subtitle: ALLAN LEGERE ON TRIAL

Authors: RICK MacLEAN, ANDRÉ VENOIT and SHAUN WATERS

Type of Book: PAPERBACK

Genre: TRUE CRIME, NON-FICTION, CANADIAN CRIME 

Length: 358 PAGES

Publisher: MCCLELLAND & STEWART INC.  

Release Date: 1992

ISBN: 0-7710-5595-1

Price: $6.99 CDN (IN 1992) 

Rating: 3 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟

Serial killer Allan Legere, who was already in prison for one murder, escaped from custody in May 1989 and killed four more people during a 201-day manhunt. (CBC)


When we think of serial killers, we generally think of them as being a United States problem. ( I apologize to my US based readets, but it is true).

Most people (especially Canadians) would  NOT think of Canada, which is famous all over the world for its friendliness and peaceful nature, as a hotbed of criminal depravity  – a fact that I am immensely proud of being a born and bred Canadian.

Until reading this book, I would have said that there were only two Canadian Serial Killers that I could think of; those being Robert Pickton from British Columbia who murdered prostitutes that he picked up on the streets of Vancouver, British Columbia and the disgusting piece of filth that is Paul Bernardo who definitely deserved the death penalty (if it had been available in Canada.) So, when I began reading this book and learned of Alan Legere I was very surprised.

When I think of New Brunswick and the people who live there, I think of gorgeous scenery, lakes, the ocean, and amazingly courteous and helpful people. I have visited New Brunswick many times and I love it. Even in the cities, people are friendly and accommodating. It is difficult to fathom that a serial killer was born and bred in such a wonderful province. However, that is exactly what happened.

MIRAMICHI REGION, NEW BRUNSWICK – Photo Credit = Don Richard – Obtained from http://www.mightymiramichi.com

Allan Joseph Legere was born and raised in the Miramichi area of New Brunswick. His reign of terror over the people of that area took place in and around 1986. 

One of the mugshots taken of Serial Killer Alan Legere

 This book contains so many spelling and grammatical errors that I feel like the publisher of this book should be ashamed of themselves. I assume that the reason for these errors was that they rushed the book through the publication process in order to get it onto newsstands and into bookstores as quickly as possible so as to take advantage of the public’s intense interest in the case at the time. However, in my opinion, there is simply no excuse for the sheer number of typos and spelling errors. It is RIDICULOUS.

Aside from the errors, the book seems to encompass the complete details of the crimes themselves, as well as what took place in the courtroom.

Official courtroom sketch made during Legere’s trial

Official Jury Sketch from the trial

The authors also managed to adequately convey the feelings of fear that the residents of the Miramichi area felt at the time the crimes were occurring as well as the anger and outrage citizens felt once the horrific details were released.

I also want to mention my disdain for Alan Legere on a personal note. Yes, he killed multiple people, but in my opinion he was / is a cowardly piece of scum. He chose elderly people as easy targets (probably because he knew he might be overpowered by younger, stronger opponents. He even murdered a elderly priest who had never wronged anyone in the ultimate act of cowardice. 

All in all, the book did hold my interest most of the time, but the details were so tediously described in some passages that I felt my attention wandering and set the book down for days on end.


It is for the reasons outlined above that I have chosen to give this book only 3 out of 5 stars. 🌟🌟🌟

To view the YouTube video of Alan Legere – THE MONSTER OF THE MIRAMICHI click on the link below:

  http://youtu.be/mxogJzNr3dM     

CREEPY CRAWLY CROCHET by Megan Kreiner is AWESOME and a must buy for every crocheter from beginner to expert. 5 STARS 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 

Title: CREEPY CRAWLY CROCHET 

Subtitle: 17 CREATURES THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT

Author: MEGAN KREINER   

Genre: NON-FICTION, CRAFTS, CROCHET

Length: 112 PAGES  

Publisher: DOVER PUBLICATIONS

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 21, 2016 

ISBN: 9780486810799 

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

This is a wonderful collection of crochet patterns with detailed instructions and high quality photos.

This is the perfect time of year to buy this book since Halloween is right around the corner. Some of the creatures that are included in this book are:

Boo Boo the Voodoo Doll  

Jack, the Headless Horseman, and his horse

 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  

Carl of the Dead and Daisy, his Zombie Dog and MORE.

This book is suitable for both beginner and intermediate crochet afficianos.


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

I plan to make almost all of the 17 creatures. These creepy characters will make great gifts for science fiction and horror fans and for fans of old horror movies as well as those who love zombie fiction and television shows such as The Walking Dead.

I rate this amazingly fun crochet pattern book as 5 out of 5 stars. 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟  

Buy online at Dover Publications.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Megan Kreiner is an experienced knit and crochet designer. She is the author of several books, and her designs have appeared in many other publications. 

The Long Island native currently lifes in Altadena, California, where she is an animator with DreamWorks. 

To learn more about this author visit the following links: 

OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

GOODREADS   

TWITTER    

FACEBOOK    

GOOGLE    

To receive a free “GUS GUS” pattern click on the photo below. 

BOOK REVIEW of THE CHIBOK GIRLS by Helon Habila 4 out of 5 Stars

chibok-girls-cover

Associate Professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University

Title: THE CHIBOK GIRLS

Subtitle: THE BOKO HARAM KIDNAPPINGS AND ISLAMIST MILITANCY IN NIGERIA

Author: HELON HABILA

Genre: NON-FICTION, POLITICS, TERRORISM  

Length: 128 PAGES  

Publication Date: DECEMBER 5, 2016

ISBN: 9780997126464

Price: $12.99 USD

Publisher: COLUMBIA GLOBAL REPORTS

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars    

 

BOOK DESCRIPTION FROM AMAZON:

On April 14, 2014, 276 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in northern Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram, the world’s deadliest terrorist group. Most were never heard from again. Acclaimed Nigerian novelist Helon Habila, who grew up in northern Nigeria, returned to Chibok and gained intimate access to the families of the kidnapped to offer a devastating account of this tragedy that stunned the world. With compassion and deep understanding of historical context, Habila tells the stories of the girls and the anguish of their parents; chronicles the rise of Boko Haram and the Nigerian government’s inept response; and captures the indifference of the media and the international community whose attention has moved on. Employing a fiction writer’s sensibility and a journalist’s curiosity, THE CHIBOK GIRLS provides poignant portraits of everyday Nigerians whose lives have been transformed by extremist forces. Habila illuminates the long history of colonialism–and unmasks cultural and religious dynamics–that gave rise to the conflicts that have ravaged the region to this day.

 

MY REVIEW:

I am torn as to how to review this book and what rating to give it. The reason for this is that the title; THE CHIBOK GIRLS is misleading. Why do I think it is misleading? Well, if you read the official description you are lead to believe that author Helon Habila has uncovered new information about the kidnapped girls and has maybe even met with some of them therefore providing readers with new information that no one else has been able to uncover. At least, that is what I believed when I began reading this book. He does meet with some of the girls who escaped during the first days of the kidnappings, but these are the same girls whose stories have already been told. After reading the final page I realized that the only new information contained in this book regarding the kidnapped Chibok girls is not about the girls themselves, it is about their families. While I was very interested in the information about the families and how they are handling the knowledge (or lack thereof) of their daughter’s kidnapping, I was also extremely disappointed. I had hoped for more. I had hoped that some new information about the girls had come to light and that maybe there was finally some hope on the horizon for the kidnapped girls and their families.

With that said, this book is exceptionally well written and the author does an outstanding job of describing just who and what Boko Haram is and where they came from. In fact, it is the best book I have ever read on the history of the Boko Haram Terrorist group. Helon Habila has written the history in such a way that readers understand how such a group could possibly gain the number of followers that it has. Readers will also learn the extent of the corruption in the Nigerian government and how and why Nigerian residents have become so completely disillusioned. These parts of the books are utterly fascinating.

I feel that it must be said that I applaud the courageousness of the author to travel to such an unstable and extremely dangerous part of the world in an attempt to keep the story of the kidnapped girls from Chibok from disappearing into obscurity. The story of the author’s travels are also included in this book and readers will find themselves on the edge of their seats and biting their lips in fear and anticipation as the reader faces very real life-and-death situations on his quest for the truth.

I rate this book as 4 out of 5 Stars and highly recommend it to anyone interested in finding out more about Boko Haram or about what life is currently like for those living in Nigeria. I hope that this book will keep the story of the Chibok girls in the media and maybe even led to some new information about where they may be located.

  • I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

chibok-girls-author-pic

Helon Habila was born in Nigeria and is the author of three novels, Oil on Water, Measuring Time, and Waiting for an Angel. His fiction, poems and short stories have won many honors and awards, including the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Novel (Africa Section), the Virginia Library Foundation’s Fiction Award, and the Windham-Campbell Prize. Habila’s short story, “The Hotel Malogo,” won the Emily Balch Prize. Oil on Water, which deals with environmental pollution in the oil rich Niger Delta, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize (2011), the Orion Book Award (2012), and the PEN/Open Book Award (2012).

He worked in Lagos as a journalist before moving to England in 2002. He co-edited the British Council’s anthology, New Writing 14 and edited The Granta Book of the African Short Story in 2011. He is currently an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University and lives in Virginia with his wife and three children.

 

 

chibok-map-inset-abducted-girls

A Must Read – THE SHIP TO NOWHERE by Rona Arato – COMING OCTOBER 4th, 2016 

Title: THE SHIP TO NOWHERE

Subtitle: ON BOARD THE EXODUS 

Series: THE HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE SERIES FOR YOUNG READERS

Author: RONA ARATO

Type of Book: PAPERBACK

Genre: MIDDLE GRADE CHILDREN’S NON-FICTION (AGES 9 – 13)  

Length: 176 PAGES

Publisher: SECOND STORY PRESS

Release Date: OCTOBER 4, 2016

ISBN: 9781772600186

Price: $14.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟   

* I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

THE SHIP TO NOWHERE is the true story of the voyage of the ship THE EXODUS 1947 from Sète, France to Palestine.

Eleven year old Rachel Fletcher has survived the Holocaust along with her mother and older sister. Sadly, her father was killed along with so many other Jewish people during World War II.

Emancipated from captivity, there are many displaced Jews who no longer feel that they are welcome back to their old lives. Many of them dream of returning to the Jewish Biblical Homeland of Palestine.

The people of Palestine are ready to receive any and all Jewish people who arrive on their shores.

Rachel and what is left of her family decide to join 4500 other Jews aboard the ship THE EXODUS 1947.

“They were going to Eretz Yisroel, the ancestral land of the Jewish people. There, for the first time in their lives, they could live freely and safely as Jews.” 

The conditions aboard the ship are crowded, but the refugees are hopeful of reaching their destination and finally feeling safe and welcome in a new land where they will be allowed to freely and openly practice their religion without fear of persecution.
Told in sparing prose that will appeal to the target readership  (ages 9-13) and filled with actual photographs from the harrowing voyage, this is a book worth buying.

 The photographs bring home the reality of the voyage much more vividly than words could possibly convey.

Middle-grade readers will be able to relate to the tale as it is told from the perspective of an eleven year old child. Adults who have yet heard this story will enjoy this book as well.

This story may seem not to be relevant to today’s world, but due to the ongoing refugee crisis in Syria, this story is exceedingly relevant. Millions of Syrian refugees are fleeing their war-torn homeland in search of a better, safer life for themselves and for their children – much the same as the Jews aboard THE SHIP TO NOWHERE.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 and I highly recommend it to all parents and educators. 

Purchase THE SHIP TO NOWHERE ON INDIGO ONLINE 

Purchase online  

Find out more about this book on GOODREADS  

To listen to the author read an excerpt from her book The Last Train click here.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

RONA ARATO was born in New York and grew up in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in magazines and newspapers in Canada and the United States. Rona is the award-winning author of 20 children’s books including The Last Train, a Holocaust Story.

She taught elementary school in Los Angeles and Toronto, adult creative writing for the Toronto District School Board, and has conducted business writing workshops for profit and non-profit organizations.

From 1994-1998, she was an interviewer for SURVIVORS OF THE SHOA, a Steven Spielberg project that recorded the histories of Holocaust survivors.

Rona Arato lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with her husband, Paul.

To learn more about this author visit her online at the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

GOODREADS   

LIFE WITH BILLY by Brian Vallée is the true story of the horrific abuse suffered by Jane Stafford at the hands of her spouse – 5 Stars 

Title: LIFE WITH BILLY

Author: BRIAN VALLÉE

Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME, CANADIAN BOOKS

Length: 238 PAGES

PUBLISHER: A SEAL BOOK – FROM MCCLELLAND-BANTAM INC.

RELEASE DATE: JULY 1986

ISBN: 0-7704-2239-X

PRICE: $6.99 CDN

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

This book is one I picked up many years ago and has been sitting on a shelf for years. My husband picked it up and read it which prompted me to do the same.

This book was published in 1986 and the version I have is that 1986 book. It reflects the attitudes of that time period and even some of the desvriptive words that are included would NEVER appear in books written nowadays. For example, when describing one of the people who knew Billy Stafford, it says: “Warrington, a black, channels his energies into improving race relations in his province.” No modern author would ever describe a person as “a black” since it sounds derogatory, but in 1986 there was nothing wrong with using those words as descriptors.

In LIFE WITH BILLY, the reader learns early on in the book that Billy Stafford was killed by a shotgun blast and that the “murderer” was his wife, Jane.

As you continue to read, you realize that Jane Stafford was more of a victim than the person she killed.

This is the true story of an abused wife who just could not take another beating and who in desperation and fear did the only thing she could think of to stop the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse once and for all.

The location of the isolated hamlet of Bang’s Falls, Nova Scotia where Jane and Billy lived.

This story is NOT for the faint-of-heart. The descriptions of the abuse Jane suffered are truly horrific and her husband, Billy was a true sadist and in my opinion, was as evil as it is possible to be.

Billy Stafford was a man who was basically a bully and a sadist. He forced Jane to commit many acts of sexual depravity and who abused not only her but their son as well.

One of the police officers who arrested Jane was overheard saying that she deserved a medal. It is my belief that Billy damaged her psyche so severely that she became a shell of a person who was not living – she and her son were merely existing.

This book was published at a time when spousal abuse was treated as a matter between husband and wife and was not a problem that law enforcement wanted any part of. The killing of Billy Stafford shone a spotlight on this issue in Canada and the United States. The media coverage was extensive and battered wives who thought they were alone finally realized that they were not alone at all.


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

PURCHASE “LIFE WITH BILLY” ONLINE 

UNOFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE TO DISCUSS THE BOOK & THE MOVIE   

MORE INFORMATION


WHAT HAPPENED TO JANE AFTER HER TRIAL AND PROBATION ENDED  

1991 – Jane with her new husband on their honeymoon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

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Brian Vallée, 70: ‘Terrific journalist’ was everyone’s best friend

Award-winning journalist and passionate campaigner against domestic violence, Brian Vallée, dies at 70.

Combatting domestic violence was a consuming passion for Brian Vallée. He is seen here at a 2008 book signing for The War on Women, which chronicled cases of women murdered by their male partners, and the failure of the justice system to protect them.

Combatting domestic violence was a consuming passion for Brian Vallée. He is seen here at a 2008 book signing for The War on Women, which chronicled cases of women murdered by their male partners, and the failure of the justice system to protect them.  (COURTESY OF NANCY RAHTZ)  

A tireless voice against domestic violence.

A master of the tourtière meat pie.

But above all else Brian Vallée “was a terrific journalist,” said Ron Base, Vallée’s best friend of 40 years and former colleague at the Star.

“He strongly believed in accuracy. He would go after a story with a doggedness I always found quite remarkable.”

The former Toronto Star reporter died from cancer in St. Michael’s Hospital on Friday morning.

In 10 days THE JOYS OF LIFE by Michelle Hoppe – A hilarious memoir about parenting is being released. Check out my 4 Star Review NOW!!!

Title: THE JOYS OF LIFE 

Series: THIS AUTHOR’S LIFE: BOOK ONE

Author: MICHELLE HOPPE 

Type of Book: EBOOK

Genre: HUMOR, PARENTING

Length: 124 PAGES

Cover Artist: VALERIE TIBBS of TIBBS DESIGN 

Publisher: BOOK BOUTIQUES   

Release Date: AUGUST 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-944003-49-4

Price: $ 3.99 USD
Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 


* I received a free Advance Review Copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“In 1995, my husband and I uprooted our three children, much to their disgust, and moved them to the state of Washington. Our oldest daughter, Nicole, age 13, was convinced we’d lost our minds and ruined her life. The middle child, also a daughter Renae, age 11, was at least open to the possibility that things might be okay as long as she got her own room in the new house. The youngest, a son James, age 3, didn’t really express his feelings in full sentences, he just wanted the front seat for the drive to our new home.”

Thus begins THE JOYS OF LIFE. This first paragraph had me smiling and immediately nodding my head. Anyone who has ever had a thirteen year old child knows how dramatic everything seems to them at that age. Author Michelle Hoppe has nailed the reactions of each of the three age groups perfectly. And just like that, I was hooked.

The author states that “It is [her] hope that by sharing these stories, people will see that humor can be found in most of the oy veys life dishes out; and if not, at least you can enjoy [hers]”

The author then goes on to talk about events that have happened in her everyday life. She writes about moments with her husband, son, granddaughter, daughters and even her son-in-law.
Somehow she is able to see the humor in almost every situation, even if it is often in hindsight.

What I loved most about this book is that I can totally relate to many of the scenarios she describes. In fact, if I wasn’t 100% sure that she doesn’t know me or my husband, I would wonder if she has been spying on my life. (Not really, but many moments in her life mirror my own).

For example, while shopping for a new mattress she “… got into a conversation with [her] mother about which of the beds would be best for sex. The color of the salesman’s cheeks set off the blue of his eyes very nicely.” This made me laugh as I could easily envision the shock the salesman felt.

This book is full of more and more humorous moments. It will put a smile on the face of every reader. This is a GOOD THING. This world can definitely do with more laughter because, after all,  as the saying goes, LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE.

It is for this reason that I rate this book as 4 out of 5 Stars.

I almost forgot to mention how much I like the cover of this book. The Mom juggling a bunch of things at once is both humorous and true-to-life. Every Mom will be able to relate to the illustration by Valerie Tibbs of Tibbs Design. 
 

This book is set to be released on Thursday, August 25th, 2016
which is less than two weeks away. I suggest adding that date to your calendar along with a reminder to be sure to pick-up a copy of this ebook as soon as it is available for sale.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

 

Michelle Hoppe first discovered a love of writing in a high school creative writing class and has been putting fingers to keyboard ever since. From romantic comedy and chic lit to paranormal and contemporary, her novels tend to be hot, sexy, erotic romances with a few twists and turns. She also writes poetry as well as this book which is based on her crazy life.

She lives in a quiet little town on the coast of Washington with a beautiful beach close by.

Visit the author online at any of the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE    

GOODREADS   

TWITTER   

FACEBOOK   

GOOGLE +   

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR: 

Valerie Tibbs is a military veteran and aspiring writer who currently works as a network administrator by day and who owns and operates Tibbs Design and Consulting. 

To learn more about Illustrator Valerie Tibbs visit her online at any of the following links: 

OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

TWITTER 

FACEBOOK 

PINTEREST 

THE JOY OF NURSING by JULIANA ADAMS is a fascinating look inside the real world of nursing. 4 Stars.

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Title: THE JOY OF NURSING: RECLAIMING OUR NOBILITY

Author: JULIANA ADAMS, BSN, MSN, MA

Type of Book: Softcover

Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir, Inspirational, Health Care, Nursing, Management

Length: 239 pages

Release Date: May 1, 2016

Publisher: Steamboat Springs Publishing

ISBN: 978-0-9972003-0-0 (Softcover)
ISBN: 978-0-9972003-2-4 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-0-9972003-1-7 (EBook)

Cover Price: $19.95 USD (Softcover)

Cover Painting: Kimberly Conrad

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟 

* I received a free copy of this book from Angelle Barbazon of JKS COMMUNICATIONS in exchange for an honest review.

This book was written by JULIANA ADAMS who has dedicated over 50 (yes, 50) years of her life to nursing and taking care of patients.

In her introduction she states: “Much of what nurses do remains unclear to those outside the profession… This book… is intended for those considering becoming a nurse and nurses presently practicing who may have become disillusioned along the way.”

Although I am neither a nurse, nor an aspiring nurse, I still think this book has value in it for myself as well as for other adults.

I have (unfortunately) had dealings with hospitals and nurses on multiple occasions both as a patient myself, and as a concerned loved one.

I have dealt with nurses from a variety of specialties and departments and I can personally attest to the fact that the majority of caregiving in any hospital is done by the nurses, NOT the doctors.

Reading this book reminded me of how helpless I felt while sitting at my husband’s bedside while he was in a coma battling for his life. It was not the doctor’s in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) that patiently explained the numerous tubes and drains attached to my husband’s body. It was not a doctor that offered me comfort or encouragement. It was the nurses.

“In the most helpless moments of our lives, we must truly rely upon the kindness of strangers.” – Daniel F. Chambliss (Author)

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I cannot imagine the stresses placed upon nurses on a daily basis and I truly believe that having word “nobility” in the title of this book is appropriate. I believe that nursing truly is a noble profession and one that is often underpaid and under appreciated. According to the author: “Nobility is a word that you don’t hear that often today in regards to many professions.” She is correct.

In her 50 years of experience, Juliana has accumulated a vast array of knowledge as well as many stories and anecdotes. She is acutely aware that nurses can become overwhelmed by the politics and the lack of resources that they face on a daily basis.

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I believe that this book is an important one, since it reminds people that while there are discouraging moments in any profession, there are also moments of amazement and unparalleled kindness and connection. This is especially true in the nursing profession.

Imagine having to change a homeless person’s clothes that are so grime covered that the smell alone would repel most people, then having to clean up after a baby with the flu and having to do all this with a smile on your face. Then, imagine that mere minutes later, you are needed to hold the hand of an elderly patient as their spirit leaves their body and they pass on in death. The emotional  (and physical) toll must be almost more than one person can bear. Most people (myself included) would not be able to do these things day in and day out.

The stories in this book are sometimes sad, sometimes happy, and always awe-inspiring. They remind the reader of the importance of nursing and nurses to the patients they serve and to the health care system as a whole.

Without nurses our health care system would collapse. Juliana Adams does a wonderful job of reminding readers just how important nurses are. I love the chapter titles she chose. Each one is unique and most made me smile. For example, chapter two’s title is “It All Started with a Lie to a Nun and chapter five’s title is “Oops, Maybe I Wasn’t as Smart as I Thought I Was.”

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This book should be required reading for all current and aspiring nurses. I believe it should be added to the nursing student’s syllabus so that they can learn from Juliana’s many years of experience.

I also firmly believe that this book will appeal to many other people as well. It is a fascinating glimpse into the inner world of real nursing (not the sanitized view of nurses that we all see on television.)

If you know anyone who is a nurse or who is going into nursing, you need to buy them a copy of this book.

Poignant and thought-provoking. This is an excellent read.

For the reasons listed above I rate this book as 4 out of 5 stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The only reason that I did not rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars is that it contains a few proof-reading and editing errors that I found distracting.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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JULIANA ADAMS, BSN, MSN, MA is part of a unique number of nurses who have dedicated more than a half a century to the care of patients… and to the advancement of the nursing profession. She remains actively engaged in how nursing care is delivered.

She is an author, speaker and film maker. In 2012, she produced a documentary film, Exposure, Reclaiming the Nobility of Nursing. The focus of her film began by highlighting the excitement of the nurses working in the inner-city emergency room that Eugene Richard’s made famous by his controversial book, The Knife and Gun Club. Where the film ended … what it exposed … led her to further explore her own journey of moving from novice to expert.

Juliana divides her time between Englewood, Colorado and Steamboat Springs, Colorado. She and her husband, along with pets left by their two children who are pursuing their own admirable dreams, have chosen to work in their respective fields, for many years to come.

To learn more about Juliana Adams, she can be reached by email at JulianaAdamsInc@gmail.com or visit her online at the following links:

OFFICIAL AUTHOR WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

LINKED IN 

TWITTER 

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Purchase your copy of THE JOY OF NURSING here

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