4 Stars for the extraordinary tale of a man who spent 27 years alone in the woods – A new book by MICHAEL FINKEL called THE STRANGER IN THE WOODS 🌟🌟🌟🌟  

Title: THE STRANGER IN THE WOODS      

Subtitle: THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF THE LAST TRUE HERMIT

Author: MICHAEL FINKEL      
Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHY

Length: 203 PAGES  

Publisher: PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Release Date: MARCH 7, 2017   

ISBN: 978-1-101-87568-1  

Price: $25.95 USD / $32.95 CDN

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Photograph of Knight’s camp in the Maine woods. Photo Credit: Maine State Police

DESCRIPTION:  “In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries.”

Photograph of Knight’s camp in the Maine woods. Photo Credit: Maine State Police

“Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life—why did he leave? what did he learn?—as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.”    

MY REVIEW:  

This book is a New York Times Bestseller, and after reading it, I can understand why. The subject matter will draw you in and you will find yourself developing an opinion on the “hermit.” 

Mugshot of Christopher Knight Photo Credit: Maine State Police

I find it fascinating that anyone could just one day decide to walk into the forest with minimal supplies and not come out again for decades.

I am sure that most of us have had the thought that it would be great to get away from it all, but even so, our idea of that “retreat from the world” almost always has a limited time frame. Humans are just not wired to be completely solitary … at least, most of us aren’t. As proof of this, think about jail. When an inmate severely misbehaves, the punishment is solitary confinement, and even the toughest, meanest, most hardened criminals attempt to avoid it. In fact, in 2015, the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna, Austria adopted revised rules banning solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment. The changes are referred to as the “Mandela Rules.”     

Christopher Knight is “the hermit” who this book is about. He is an anomaly to the belief that people need contact with others to survive. 

Christopher stole food and other essential items to help him survive, and created a hidden camp that wasn’t far from civilization and yet, somehow he was able to stay hidden and alone for over twenty years. Author Michael Finkel has done a terrific job of trying to understand the nonunderstandable and readers will be unable to put this book down. 

Photograph of Knight at his camp in the Maine woods. Photo Credit: Maine State Police

This book is very much worth reading, and even though it includes a sketch of Christopher Knight’s camp as well as a sketch of the geographic area of Maine where his camp was located, I was extremely disappointed that the actual photographs taken by police were not included in this book. I would also have liked to have a photograph of Christopher Knight included as well. It is due to the lack of photographs that I am rating THE STRANGER IN THE WOODS as only 4 out of 5 Stars. 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

*** Even though the pictures are not in the physical edition of this book, there are multiple photographs available on Michael Finkel’s website; perhaps they will make it into future editions of this book.***   

Because I was curious as to what Christopher Knight looked like, I searched on YouTube and found this video:    

 

     

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

MICHAEL FINKEL is the author of “The Stranger in the Woods” and “True Story,” which was adapted into a 2015 major motion picture, starring James Franco and Jonah Hill.

He has reported from more than 50 countries and written for National Geographic, GQ, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Magazine.

His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting, The Best American Science and Nature Writing, The Best American Travel Writing, and The Best American Non-Required Reading.  

Michael lives with his wife and three children in western Montana and southern France.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE        

GOODREADS     

TWITTER   

FACEBOOK        

AMAZON              

CHAPTERS          

GOOGLE BOOKS    
Watch the following video for an author interview:

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WHERE ALL LIGHT TENDS TO GO by David Joy – A masterful tale of living in the backwoods and the chance of escape 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

Title: WHERE ALL LIGHT TENDS TO GO

Author: DAVID JOY    
Genre: FICTION  

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Length: 260 PAGES

Publisher: PUTNAM – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE   

Release Date: 2015 

ISBN: 978-0-425-27979-3  

Price:  $16.00 USD / $21.00 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This story is set in the beautiful, and wild Cashiers Mountains in a remote corner of North Carolina.

Jacob McNeely is the son of the meth kingpin of the area. He is not like his father, but because his lastname is McNeely, most of the people in the area have him pegged as a no-good criminal.

All kinds of people inhabit the mountains and many of them can be considered ornery, but Jacob’s father is more than just ornery, he is downright mean. To add to his charm, he is violent, demeaning to women and completely terrifying when someone crosses him.

Jacob describes the area in which he lives by noting; “The Creek was a beautiful place, but it was lawless and always had been. The land was of little use for farming, so the folks who settled way back when were mostly drunkards and thieves. I was generations away from those earliest outlaws, but things like that have a way of staying in the blood.”

Jacob feels like he has no choices in the way his life will turn out. But, as sure as he is that he is stuck in The Creek forever, he is equally sure that his girlfriend is destined for bigger and better things.

You will have to read this novel to discover if one of them escapes or if they both do, or if, in the end, neither of them are destined to leave the clutches of their pasts.

The language that author David Joy uses in this book is beautifully written prose that somehow continuously has the ability to strike a chord with his readers.

It doesn’t matter what it is that author David Joy describes, he does it with such vividness that the reader is instantly able to form a picture in his or her mind. For example, when writing about the paint in the jail, he describes it as follows:

“The concrete was painted a warm kind of gray, something not so depressing as snow clouds but more of a gray like an old woman’s perm.”

If David Joy can make the description of the crappy, gray paint in a jail cell into something I actually quote in my review, than as far as I am concerned, he has some serious writing chops.

The characters come alive through David Joy’s skillful writing and even though the vast majority of those who read this book will have nothing in common with them, readers will find themselves hoping for a happy ending for the two lovers.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 and recommend it to those readers who enjoyed “Hillbilly Elegy” or who are fans of character driven fiction that seems so real that even after the final page, a small part of you will wonder if these are actually true events rather than fiction.

Critically acclaimed author David Joy, whose debut,Where All Light Tends To Go, was hailed as “a savagely moving novel that will likely become an important addition to the great body of Southern literature” (The Huffington Post), returns to the mountains of North Carolina for his second novel, a powerful story about the inescapable weight of the past.

The Weight Of This World is set for release on March 7, 2017 from Putnam Books and I am very much looking forward to reading it.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

David Joy is the author of the Edgar nominated novel Where All Light Tends To Go (Putnam, 2015), as well as the novelsThe Weight Of This World(Putnam, 2017) and The Line That Held Us(Putnam, TBD). He is also the author of the memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman’s Journey (Bright Mountain Books, 2011), which was a finalist for the Reed Environmental Writing Award and the Ragan Old North State Award.
His work is represented by Julia Kenny of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency, with film rights by Dana Spector at Paradigm.

Joy is the recipient of an artist fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council. His writing has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, and has been nominated for awards such as the Pushcart Prize. His latest short stories and essays have appeared in The Good Men Project, Still: The Journal, and The Pisgah Review.

Joy lives in Webster, North Carolina. For a full curriculum vitae click here

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE    

GOODREADS    

TWITTER    

FACEBOOK    

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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE   
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TRAPPED IN ICE by Canadian Author Eric Walters – A 5 Star YA Historical Fiction Thriller based on a true story. A MUST READ.

Title: TRAPPED IN ICE

Author: ERIC WALTERS 

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION, CANADIAN FICTION

Length: 225 PAGES

Publisher: PUFFIN CANADA – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE 

Release Date: 1997

ISBN: 978-1-77049-994-2 (Softcover)

Price: $12.99 CDN ($8.91 on the Chapters.ca website)   

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I sometimes wonder why we don’t learn more Canadian history in high school. I am 100% sure that if TRAPPED IN ICE was read in history class, not one student would complain of boredom.

ERIC WALTERS has taken the tale of the 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition and fictionalized it into a tale that everyone should read.

It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of historical fiction or not, this book will draw you in and you will find it nearly impossible to put down.

Thirteen year old Helen lost her father and her home all within the span of a single year. Her mother accepted a job as a seamstress on the Canadian Arctic Expedition and arranged for Helen and her younger brother to join the expedition as well.

Up until this trip, Helen has only ever experienced adventure through the many books she has read. What should have been a moderately scary trip becomes a nightmare when the ocean unexpectedly freezes over early. This catches everyone on board The Karluk by surprise, even the experienced and tough Captain Robert Bartlett. The ship becomes locked in the ice with no chance of a thaw for many months.

Actual photo of the Karluk stuck in the ice in 1913

In fact, it is likely that the ship will sink before the ice thaws enough for it to be released. What follows is a true tale of the ship’s Captain, crew and passengers and their terrifying trek across the ice flow to try to reach land.

Photo of Captain Robert Bartlett at home in Newfoundland before leaving for the 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition

Readers will find themselves drawn into this harrowing tale of how Helen and the others push themselves beyond human endurance based solely on their will to survive.

This book is not very long, it consists of only 225 pages and readers will become so swept up in the story that they will want to read it in a single day.

I love the fact that author Eric Walters has chosen to bring to light a part of Canadian history that is largely unknown and I hope that he continues to write more books like this one.


I rate TRAPPED IN ICE as 5 out of 5 Stars and I highly recommend this book to all readers aged ten and older. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

To learn more about The 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition and it’s true story click here

TRAPPED IN ICE won the 1999 Silver Birch Award. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

It all began in 1993 when Eric was teaching a Grade 5 class.  His students were reluctant readers and writers and Eric began to write to encourage them to become more involved in literature.  His first novel, Stand Your Ground, was created for this class.  It is set in the school where Eric was teaching, Vista Heights Public School, and some of the features of the community of Streetsville and many of the names of his students were incorporated into the story.

  

Since his first novel Eric has exploded on the children’s and young adult scene.  Over the following years he has published over 94 more novels and picture books with more than ten scheduled for the coming years.

These novels have been enthusiastically received by children and young adults and critically acclaimed by teachers, reviewers and parents.  Eric’s novels have won more than 100 awards including eleven separate children’s choice awards. 

He is the only three time winner of both the Ontario Library Association Silver Birch and Red Maple Awards – in which over 250,000 students participate and vote the winner.  In November 2013 he received the prestigious Children’s Africana Book Award – Best Book for young children – for his book The Matatu.  This American award was presented to Eric in a ceremony at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

 https://youtu.be/yheY6Lut3iU   

Eric’s novels are now available in places as far award as New Zealand, Australia, India and Nepal and have been translated into more than a dozen languages including French, German, Japanese, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish and Portuguese.

Eric has presented to more than 1,500,000 students across North America and internationally in Japan and Germany.  His presentations blend drama, storytelling, audience participation and interaction.  He presents to students from K – Grade 12 as well as adult groups and keynote speeches.

 June 2013 Eric became ‘Dr. Walters’ when he was granted the honorary degree of Literarum Doctorem by Wilfred Laurier University.  He gave the address to graduating  B.Ed., B.A. students in the spring convocation.

Eric, along with his wife Anita, and Ruth and Henry Kyatha, are the co-founders of The Creation of Hope which provides for over 400 orphans and disadvantaged children throughout the Mbooni District of Kenya.

100% of money donated by schools goes directly to serve and through the website these schools are shown – school by school, dollar by dollar, item by item – how their donations are spent.

Eric is the father of three (Christina – born 1985, Nicholas – born 1988, and Julia – born 1992) and he and his wife live in Mississauga with their two dogs – Lola and Winnie the Poodle.  In his free time (what little of it he has) he walks, hikes, and plans his next adventure.  He spends time every summer in Kenya at his orphanage.

To learn more about Eric and his phenomenal books visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE    

GOODREADS    

TWITTER          

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EMAIL: ericwaltersauthor@gmail.com   

 

A truly exceptional read that will both break your heart and lift your spirits 5 Stars go to THE BITTER SIDE OF SWEET by Tara Sullivan

 

bittersideofsweet_coc73b11-copy

Title: THE BITTER SIDE OF SWEET

Author: TARA SULLIVAN

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Length: 320 pages

Release Date: February 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-17307-3

Publisher: PENGUIN GROUP Penguin Young Readers Group, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

  • I received a free copy of this book from the Publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

THE BITTER SIDE OF SWEET is the perfect title for this novel as the story within will both break your heart and lift your spirits. Sounds impossible, right? Well, I swear it is true.

Tara Sullivan has crafted characters that will settle themselves deeply into your heart and mind and that will stay with you long after you finish reading this incredible tale of bravery, determination,

The story begins on a cocoa farm in the remote farm region of the Ivory Coast (in Africa, for those of us who are geographically challenged.) It is on this farm that readers are introduced to fifteen-year-old Amadou and his eight-year-old brother Seydou.

africa_map_20040308

We discover that the brothers are originally from Mali and that two years earlier they left their home in search of work and the opportunity to eat on a regular basis. Their family worked hard on their small farm, but drought made them unable to grow enough food to feed the entire family. The brothers had heard of school, but no one they know has ever been able to afford to attend.

Amadou and Seydou were “hired” by some men to work on a cocoa farm and were taken deep into the interior of the Ivory Coast. It was only after they arrived that the brothers realized they had been duped and would not be receiving any pay for the work they were to do. In fact, they were told that they owed the farmer money for what he had to pay the driver who had sold the boys to him and that they would have to stay and work at the farm until their debt was paid. So, in fact, they were NOT workers, they were SLAVES. Quickly they learned that if they did not work hard enough or fast enough to satisfy the farmers, they would be brutally beaten.

children-and-chocolate-the-sweet-industry-s-bitter-side_strict_xxl

Children and chocolate: The sweet industry’s bitter side  By Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn, 30-Jan-2014 NGOs say human trafficking and child labor remain deep-seated problems of the cocoa industry as a Nestlé, ADM and Cargill court case stirs up old supply chain concerns.

All Amadou cares about is protecting his younger brother. He obviously does not like the circumstances he has found himself in, but since he does not see any way out, he is resigned to it. The one time the brothers tried to escape, they were caught and instead of punishing Amadou, the overseers forced him to watch while they beat his brother bloody with chains. Seydou was only six at the time of the beating. From that day on, Amadou did his best to protect his brother and himself from more beatings.

Every day seems the same to Amadou and he has almost lost all hope of ever seeing his family again. That is, until one day when a new “worker” is delivered to the farm under unusual circumstances. Then, everything changed…….

I do not want to give any more spoilers for this book, so I will leave the details of the rest of the story out of this review. I will however, say that Amadou and Seydou are in for one heck of an adventure,

This is a story that highlights both the good and the horrible things that human beings do to one another.

When the average person thinks about slavery, we think about the past – back to a time when African-Americans were owned by white plantation owners in the Southern United States. What should instead come to mind is the fact that sadly, slavery still exists in our modern world.

Hand in hand with the issue of forced child labour is the issue of poverty. Seydou and Amadou grew up in a poor farming village in Mali and while they are fictional characters, there are literally thousands of children in identical situations today. For those of us that live in North America, the kind of poverty that Amadou and Seydou were born into is almost unimaginable. The closest most of us will get to seeing it is when we see television commercials showing starving children and even then, most people tend to look away.

THE BITTER SIDE OF SWEET brings these issues to light while also telling an absolutely fantastic story filled with action, adventure, love, hope and highlights the power within all of us to figure out how to make our lives better. The tale itself is fast-paced and readers will find themselves riveted to the page and fully invested in the outcome of the brother’s adventures. I cannot say enough good things about this book.

I also want to assure potential readers that although this book is billed as a Young Adult novel, it is written beautifully and will appeal to readers of all ages.

I rate this book with the highest possible rating I can give which is 5 out of 5 stars.

My advice?

BUY THIS BOOK!

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

bittersideofsweet-author-pic-tara-sullivan

 

*Author information was copied from her website www.tarasullivanbooks.com

Tara was born in Calcutta and spent her childhood and early adolescence moving around South America and the Caribbean with her parents who were international aid workers. Not only did this mean that many dinner table conversations centered around issues of international justice and poverty alleviation, but it was awkwardly normal for me to stick out like a sore thumb on the playground, at a birthday party, or on the bus.

Though she spoke Spanish like a native and felt more comfortable in Bolivia than holding her American passport, she was always seen as the outsider. When the UV rays from the hole in the ozone over the Andes badly damaged Tara’s eyes, her family was forced to leave what had always felt like home and move to the United States. Having never lived stateside before, Tara stepped off the plane at the age of 14 and started 9th grade the very next morning at a high school in rural Virginia.

Thus began her adventures in the United States. After high school she attended the University of Virginia, followed by a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Minnesota where she worked in refugee resettlement and interpreted at a prenatal clinic for indigent women.

Tara completed graduate school in Indiana before moving to Massachusetts in 2008. She currently teaches Spanish at Burlington High School and lives just outside of Boston with her husband, children, and a big furry mutt.

Learning to make "ugali" during my research trip to Tanzania for GOLDEN BOY.

Back in 2009, when she came across a news story about the kidnapping, mutilation, and murder of African albinos for use as good luck talismans, she was struck by the topic on multiple levels. The grown-up in her, the one that studied for a dual Masters in Non-Profit Management and International Studies and worked with village micro-finance and refugee resettlement programs, wanted to publicize this human rights tragedy. The kid in her, the one who had to hide from the sun and could never blend into a crowd, wanted to tell a story about what it must feel like to be a kid who has those problems in the extreme.

It was then that she sat down and started to write GOLDEN BOY. And the rest, as they say, is history…

To learn more about Tara and her writing visit any (or all) of the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER 

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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

 

bittersideofsweet-author-in-haiti-research-trip

  • The above picture is of the author in Haiti while researching cocoa farms.

 

INSPIRATIONAL AND FUN AT THE SAME TIME – 4 STARS for OPEN WHEN… by Karen Salmansohn 

Title: OPEN WHEN 

Subtitle: LETTERS TO LIFT YOUR SPIRITS   

Author: KAREN SALMANSOHN

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Genre: INSPIRATIONAL, SELF-HELP

Length:  24 PAGES

Publisher: TEN SPEED PRESS 

Release Date: MARCH 7, 2017

ISBN: 9781607749646

Price: $14.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟


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


MY REVIEW
:

“Sometimes the first step to forgiveness is understanding that the other person is an IDIOT.”

I love that quote and it is oh-so-true.

OPEN WHEN is a cute book with whimsical graphics that will appeal to a wide variety of readers.

Karen Salmansohn is a “Happiness Expert” and she has created this book to help people boost their spirits.

This a collection of 25 notes that readers can open at the appropriate time; such as “Open When you’re feeling stressed out” or “Open when you need courage.” If readers do this they will then read a letter that will help them to boost their happiness quotient within the context of that particular situation. 

The only thing that I would change about this book is that I would have liked it be longer. I rate this book as 4 out of 5 stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟   

You can pre-order this book now by clicking HERE:  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
 

“Karen Salmansohn is the founder of NotSalmon – as well as a best selling author and award winning designer – with over 1 million books sold – and over 1 million fans on Facebook. She is committed to inspiring people to live a life they love – no matter how much “you gotta be freaking kidding me!” life throws at you!Below is the story of Karen’s personal journey – a zig-zagger of a journey – with many obstacles to swerve around and peaks and valleys to travel up and through – which brought her to why she loves writing and designing inspirational books and products.”

On the author’s website it states that it is about “Self-Help for those who wouldn’t be caught dead doing self-help.”

To learn more about Karen Salmansohn visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE   

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YOUTUBE      

FIFTEEN LANES by S.J. Laidlaw will capture and hold your attention from the first page to the last. 5 Stars!

Title: FIFTEEN LANES 

Author: S.J. LAIDLAW

Genre: FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION

Length: 304 pages

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Price: $21.99 CDN / $17.99 USD

Publisher: TUNDRA BOOKS

ISBN: 978-1101917800

Release Date: April 5, 2016

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


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

Heart-wrenching, illuminating, beautiful and horrific in equal measure. This book is simply brilliant.

Set in the city of Mumbai, this is the story of two young women who live within a few miles of each other, but whose lives are worlds apart.

Noor has spent the entirety of her young life living with her mother in a brothel in the heart of the FIFTEEN LANES that comprise Mumbai’s red light district. She is fated to soon follow her mother into the business of prostitution. If she is to have any hope of escaping that fate, she will need to act soon. But, she is devadasi which means that, as the eldest daughter, she is fated to follow in her mother’s footsteps. As far as Indian culture is concerned, she has no say and absolutely no choice in the matter.

Photo obtained from tr4f.wordpress.com

Meanwhile, on the other side of the same city lives fifteen year old Grace. As the daughter of the CEO of one of India’s largest banks, Grace has been brought up with every privilege money can buy. She has never visited the slums that are located so close to her luxury apartment complex. In fact, in her blissful teenage ignorance, she is not even aware that places such as Noor’s home exist.
Author S.J. Laidlaw has crafted an engrossing tale in which a series of events occur that lead Noor and Grace to cross paths and in doing so their lives become inextricably entwined.

I am loathe to give away too much of the plot while writing this review, so I will refrain from writing any more details. However, this is a book that lends itself to discussion. In fact, I would highly recommend this to any and all book clubs.

Some people might wonder if an Canadian-American author could possibly write authentically about life in the red light district of Mumbai and I admit that I wondered the same thing myself. However, upon reading the Author’s Note at the end of the book as well as reading S.J. Laidlaw’s biography, I no longer doubt her credentials. She is, in fact, uniquely qualified to author a book on this subject.

S.J. Laidlaw is not your typical author. She does not sit at home in her comfortable North American home and imagine what life in foreign locales might be like. She is as far from that typical stereotype as it is possible to be.

In fact, she “… first started volunteering with sex workers’ daughters in Kamathipura, the largest red-light district in Asia, in March of 2013.” In the “Author’s Note” at the end of the book, she says that even though she had previously received training in working with sexual violence victims, she “… wasn’t entirely prepared for the level of violence and degradation [that the girls were] routinely exposed to.”

The quote that I agreed with and that affected me the most was when the author stated: “More disheartening still is the extent to which a large portion of society has turned its back on them. Time and again [the author has] heard stories of girls being shunned, even asked to leave school, when it was found out their mothers were sex workers – no matter that the vast majority of their mothers had been trafficked into the life and were victims themselves.”

To me (and to most North Americans) this kind of apathy and acceptance of horrific acts is almost inconceivable. This book, although fiction, opened my eyes. I hope that it does the same for everyone who reads it.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars. Once you start reading, you will be unable to put it down. Even though the subject matter is bleak at times, it is ultimately a story of strength and hope and it deserves to be read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Born in Philadelphia, S.J. Laidlaw spent most of her childhood in Toronto. After completing an undergraduate degree in English, she ventured to Africa as a volunteer teacher. There she discovered that her students needed as much guidance and support outside the classroom as in it, so after three years, she returned to Canada to complete a graduate degree in clinical social work. 

Since then, she has worked as a counselor in many countries and led workshops for parents and educators on raising and working with third-culture children. Her first book, An Infidel in Paradise, won the IODE Violet Downey Book Award, and her second book, The Voice inside My Head, was chosen as a 2015 CLA Young Adult Book Honour Book and has been shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award (winner to be announced). When she is not writing, S.J. Laidlaw currently volunteers at a night shelter for the children of sex workers in Mumbai. Visit her website at www.sjlaidlaw.com 

The author currently lives in Mumbai, India. 

5 Absolutely Horrified Stars for THE HATCHING by Ezekiel Boone – An Utterly Terrifying Read that will justify a fear of spiders for the rest of your life.

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TItle: THE HATCHING

Series: THE HATCHING – BOOK ONE

Author: EZEKIEL BOONE

Type of Book: Hardcover

Genre: Fiction, Horror

Length: 330 Pages

Release Date: JULY 5, 2016

Publisher: RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

ISBN: 978-0-345-81648-1

PRICE: $29.95 CAN (Hardcover)

RATING: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

* I received a free copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program. Reviews are not required, but they are usually appreciated.

image

MY REVIEW:

ARE YOU SCARED OF SPIDERS?

If you aren’t scared of spiders before reading this book, you will be once you reach the final page.

Personally, spiders scare the crap out of me. Yes, I admit it. I have a case of arachniphobia.

Speaking of “Arachniphobia,” When I read the first chapter of this book I was reminded of the movie from 1990,  starring Jeff Daniels and John Goodman called ARACHNIPHOBIA. I was actually worried that this might end up being an updated version of the same storyline. But, I needn’t have been concerned. While both the movie and this book both center around spiders, this is WAY different and much more terrifying.

I read quite a bit of Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, and prior to reading THE HATCHING, I thought I had read about every possible way that modern civilization could be brought to it’s knees. The Hatching proved that I was dead-wrong.

I loved this book even while cringing and recoiling in both revulsion and terror at the subject matter.

Do you love a good scare? Do you enjoy Horror stories? If so, then you MUST add Ezekiel Boone’s novel to your bookshelf ASAP.

If you don’t find yourself checking all the dark corners of your house and under your bed for spiders after reading this book, I will be tremendously surprised.  I knew there was a reason that I dislike spiders and Ezekiel Boone has made me realize that those people who used to think my arachniphobia was silly, well, those people aren’t saying its such a silly fear after reading this book.

This book is one that will definitely have people talking. You don’t want to be the only one around the water cooler that hasn’t read THE HATCHING. If you do not read this book, you will be missing out. 

I rate The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone as 5 out of 5 Stars. 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

The fact that this is only the first book in a planned series has me wishing that Book Two – SKITTER was already available. However, since I do need to sleep sometime, it is probably good to give my terror levels time to get back to normal before I continue on to the next part of this series.

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AN INTERESTING SIDE-NOTE:

Prior to reading THE HATCHING, I had never heard of the “Nasca Lines” in Peru. These lines are mentioned in the book and I wasn’t sure if they were a creation of the author’s imagination or if they were real. An internet search provided me with the answer. They are real!

Don’t know what the Nasca Lines are? Click here for pictures and more information. I have now added seeing these Lines to my Bucket List. I find them absolutely fascinating and I can’t wait to research them further.

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WATCH THE TRAILERS:

 https://youtu.be/QhaQYliQ6qg

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Photo By Laurie Willick

EZEKIEL BOONE is a Canadian writer who currently lives in upstate New York with his wife and children.

THE HATCHING is Zeke’s first thriller and the first book in the series, with SKITTER coming in 2017.

THE HATCHING series has sold in twelve countries and nine languages, and has been optioned for the screen. When not writing thrillers, Zeke writes acclaimed literary fiction under a different name. Along with a healthy respect for spiders, Zeke has two poorly behaved dogs and enjoys the outdoors.

To find out more about this author visit:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

THE HATCHING OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK
 
TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

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GREAT by Glen Gretzky & Lauri Holmes Lives Up To It’s Title!!!

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Title: GREAT

Author: GLEN GRETZKY and LAURI HOLOMIS

Illustrator: KEVIN SYLVESTER

Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION, SPORTS, INSPIRATIONAL, AGES 4-8

Length: 32 pages

Publisher: PUFFIN – An Imprint of PENGUIN CANADA BOOKS INC.

ISBN (Print Book) 978-0-670-06990-3

ISBN (EBook) 978-0-14-319494-1

Price: $16.99 HARDCOVER

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 13, 2016

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The second I set eyes on this book, I knew that I had to have it. Being both Canadian and the mother of two boys means that hockey is in my blood. Plus, no self-respecting Canadian parent would pass up the opportunity to purchase a children’s book that is not only about hockey, but also conveys a very important lesson for both kids and their parents.

Come on! The Foreward is written by “The Great One” himself – Wayne Gretzky. In it he states: “I am very proud of this book and the message it gives to kids. Our Foundation’s Mission Statement is about helping to equip kids for life and that begins at home. Let’s ensure our kids have the encouragement, love and support they need to grow up to be strong and confidant adults. Every child should know that they’re Great.”

What an awesome message! And, it is a message that I agree with 100%.

Most fans of Wayne Gretzky are aware that his father – Walter Gretzky dedicated himself to making his son into both the hockey player and the man that he grew up to be. GREAT is inspired by Walter Gretzky.

In the story a boy named Taylor is excited to have made the hockey team of his dreams. He is going to be playing with Wayne – a kid who everyone is already calling “The Great One”.

The coach is Walter (Wally) Gretzky. Taylor is so nervous to be on such a great team that he doesn’t play very well.

Taylor wants to be the star of the game and when he hogs the puck rather than passing, his team loses. He tells Coach Wally that he knows the loss was his fault and that he thinks he should quit.

Coach Wally’s response is the perfect one. He is the kind of coach that every child deserves to have and Taylor ends up learning lessons not just about hockey, but also about life.

The illustrations in this book are PERFECT. The cartoon showing Taylor leaving for an early morning practice while his bleary-eyed Mom looks on reminded me so much of my own time as a Hockey Mom. Another illustration showing Taylor shooting pucks at a battered garage door made me laugh out loud in remembrance. Throughout the entire book are illustrations that any hockey parent and their child will love. I rate the illustrations as 5 out of 5 stars.

In fact, I enjoyed GREAT so much that I rate the entire book as 5 out of 5 stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This book is set to be released on September 13, 2016 – just in time for hockey season. It would also make a great Christmas gift for any hockey fan (regardless of their age.)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

GLEN GRETZKY:

GLEN GRETZKY is the Executive Director of the Wayne Gretzky Foundation, which raises money to help children and families across Canada and the United States. Glen is also the Brand Manager for Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and continues to be involved in community events and fundraising. He lives in Brantford, Ontario

LAURI HOLOMIS:

LAURI HOLOMIS has worked with the Gretzky Family and the Wayne Gretzky Foundation for many years. She continues to work in the sports world and is passionate about teaching kids confidence. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her husband, Ryan, and son, Wyatt. The author lives in Toronto, Ontario.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

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KEVIN SYLVESTER  is an illustrator, writer and broadcaster based in Toronto. His series, The Neil Flambe capers, is now out and loads of fun (according to him).

Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders won the 2011 Silver Birch award for Fiction. Neil Flambe and the Aztec Abduction was runner-up in 2012. Neil Flambe and the Crusader’s Curse is up for the 2013 Silver Birch. Kevin’s picture book Splinters was nominated for the 2012 Blue Spruce! Cathy Rondina’s and I won the Silver Birch for Non-Fiction in 2012 for Don’t Touch that Toad. My book Gold Medal for Weird won the 2009 Silver Birch for Non-Fiction.

Kevin has also been a broadcaster with CBC Radio in Canada for years and years (although he is originally from Western New York). Kevin is willing to have people contact him with any questions or comments. His email address is:  atsylvesterartwork@gmail.com.

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Photos and illustrations were all obtained through Kevin Sylvester’s website.

LEAVING LUCY PEAR by Anna Solomon – UPCOMING NEW RELEASE Historical Fiction earns 5 Stars

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Title: LEAVING LUCY PEAR

Author: ANNA SOLOMON

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction

Length: 315 PAGES

Publisher: VIKING

ISBN: 978-1-594-63265-5

Price: $26.00 ($35.00 CAN)

Release Date: JULY 26, 2016

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

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

NEW RELEASE

It’s 1917 and a young and unmarried Beatrice Haven has snuck out of the house with a bundle in her arms.

Within that bundle lies her squirming infant daughter. The daughter she was supposed to give up on the very day of her birth. The secretly beloved daughter that she cannot allow to be raised by the awful woman who runs the Jewish orphanage.

Instead, Beatrice has a plan.  It is risky and bold, but Beatrice (whom everyone calls ‘Bea’) wants her child to have a chance at happiness. So, she lays her baby girl under a pear tree and waits.

Her plan works. The baby is claimed by another woman and Bea is free to continue on her life’s path without the stigma and encumbrance of a child born out of wedlock. 

Ten years later a series of coincidences end with Bea reuniting with Emma Murphy, the Irish Catholic woman who took in her abandoned daughter all those years ago.

The characters in LEAVING LUCY PEAR are so vividly described that the reader could easily believe that she was watching a movie rather than reading a book.

Bea’s daughter’s name is Lucy. Lucy is quite the character. She’s headstrong, she contains a vast intellect that is well above that if her peers. And Lucy has plans of her own.

Taking place in the town of Cape Ann, Massachusetts in the early 1920s, readers are in for a treat. Author Anna Solomon has obviously vigorously researched the time period as well as the location’s geography. I am not a historian by any means, but the story and its setting seemed authentic and entirely plausible to me.

Readers are in for a fictional historic tale that will make them laugh, make them cry and in fact, at times, will have readers experiencing every emotion in between. LEAVING LUCY PEAR will stay with readers long after the book has been shelved. I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“He had told her she could leave, her last night, to make it easier for her. He had never regretted that. Yet he missed her. He doubted he would live long enough to stop missing her.”

“…even after all these years, he cannot tell if she is actually unstable, or just very sad.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Photo: © Beowulf Sheehan

ANNA SOLOMON is the author of “The Little Bride” and a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in many publications including “The New York Times Magazine,” “One Story,” “Ploughs hares,” “Slate,” and MORE.

She previously worked as a journalist for National Public Radio. She was born and raised in Gloucester, Massachusetts and now lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two children.

5 Stars for OVERSCHEDULED ANDREW by Ashley Spires – BOOK REVIEW

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Title: Over-Scheduled Andrew

Author: Ashley Spires

Illustrator: Ashley Spires

Type of Book: Hardcover

Price: $19.99 CDN

Release Date: January 12, 2016

Length: 32 pages

ISBN: 978-1-77049-484-8

Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Self-Help

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars *****

 

MY REVIEW:

Andrew loves putting on plays so he decides to join the drama club at school. Determined to make his performance the best it can be, he joins the debate club to practice his public speaking. He signs up for dance and karate to help with his coordination. Then he’s asked to play for the tennis team and edit the school newspaper. Before long he’s learning to play the bagpipes, attending Spanish classes and joining the French film club. Suddenly Andrew doesn’t have time for anything or anyone else, not even his best friend Edie. And he definitely doesn’t have time to sleep.

It astounds me how over-scheduled kids in today’s world seem to be. OVER-SCHEDULED ANDREW highlights the perils of this rampant practice. While this is a children’s book and has gorgeous illustrations and is written in the simple prose that will appeal to young children, it contains a lesson, not only for the children, but for their parents as well.

Andrew signs up for more and more activities and the reasons that he signs up are admirable, but as his schedule becomes more and more full, he becomes more and more exhausted. Andrew finds himself not only tired, but also confused. He no longer has time to simply be a kid or to play with his best friend. Sadly, this happens to many, many children today.

Proof of this is easy to see. Go to any subdivision on a beautiful, sunny day and look around. When I was a child (in the 70s and early 80s) that subdivision would have been full of children outside playing with friends, riding their bikes, etc. Now, that subdivision looks like an adult-living community where no children actually reside. The kids all seem to be inside their houses; either watching television or playing video games. As far as I am concerned this is an epidemic.

Of course, as parents, we want the best for our children. I believe that is as true today as it was in the past, but unfortunately many parents have fallen into the trap of over-scheduling. They want to offer their children every opportunity and so they sign them up for every activity possible. This can actually have a negative impact on the child rather than the positive impact which was the original intent.

I absolutely LOVE the illustrations in this book. Andrew is a bird and his best friend, Edie, is a deer, but the illustrations are stylized perfectly. Each illustrated scene shows just enough detail to be relevant to the wording on that page, and does not contain distracting elements. The balance between detail and simplicity is simply superb. The illustrations also contain the perfect amount of humor.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars and I highly recommend it for children between the ages of 3 and 7. I recommend that all parents read this book no matter how old their children are since it contains a simple message that all parents should heed.

Purchase this book online at the following retailers:

Amazon.ca

Chapters-Indigo Books

McNally-Robinson Books

Amazon.com

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: (Illustration obtained from www.ashleyspires.com)

Ashley Spires Author Illustration

Ashley Spires is the author and illustrator of numerous funny books for children including The Most Magnificent Thing and the Binky the Space Cat series.She was born and raised in BC with eight cats and a dog.

After spending some time living in Toronto and Saskatoon, she has returned to the BC life, living in Ladner with three cats, one dog and a man. When she is not running or bike riding or over-scheduling herself, she makes children’s books, many of which have won numerous awards, including Ontario’s Silver Birch Express, the Atlantic Province’s Hackmatack, Saskatchewan’s Shining Willow and BC’s Chocolate Lily Award.

Visit Ashley at her website www.ashleyspires.com or follow her on twitter: @ashleyspires