Saturday, October 31, 2015

Featured Book: Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles by Carole P. Roman

Fribbet's gone missing! 

The crew searches for the excitable frog and finally find him troubled and crying in the stern. 

Fribbet is very upset, and it's up to Captain No Beard and the crew to find out what's wrong. 

Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles is another great voyage into problem solving and friendship, as well as an adventurous trip into the imagination. 

Join the Captain No Beard and his friends as they learn the value of sharing our troubles with others and that help is always there when we need it.


About the author:

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 for her first book, award winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. Using an imaginary game she played with her grandson as a base, Captain No Beard was born."Captain No Beard- An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life" has not only been named to Kirkus Best of 2012, it received the Star of Exceptional Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award for 2012. "Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience" Book 2 in the series, received 5 Stars from The ForeWord Review The Clarion Review. Strangers on the High Seas has won second place in the Rebecca's Reads Choice Awards 2013. It has followed with six more books to the series. Motivated by her love of yoga, Roman has written a book that not only teaches four poses, but shows how easy and accessible yoga can be. Her new non fiction series, "If You Were Me and Lived in..." combines her teaching past with her love of exploration and interest in the world around us. The debut book in the series, "If You Were Me and Lived in...Mexico" has won the Pinnacle Award for Best in Children's Non Fiction 2012. France, South Korea, and Norway. Rebecca's Reads has given If You Were Me and Lived in...Norway an honorable mention in the 2013 Choice Awards. If You Were Me and lived in ...France won second place. ForeWord Review has nominated If You Were Me and Lived in...France for best in children's non fiction literature 2013. They will be followed with Kenya, Turkey, India, and Australia. She plans to do Portugal, Greece, and Argentina next year. Writing for children has opened up a whole second act for her. While she is still working in her family business, this has enabled her to share her sense of humor as well as love for history and culture with the audience she adores. Roman lives on Long Island with her husband and near her children.



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Friday, October 30, 2015

Review: Barnyard Kids by Dina Rudick

Would you like to start your child on a journey of self-reliance and love of the outdoors?

A sustainable source of ideas to help your children learn the ins and outs of animal husbandry, Barnyard Kids encourages children to get outside, enjoy nature, and reap the benefits of their hard work.

This fun and creative book by Dina Rudick will guide your family through fun opportunities learning about keeping chickens, milking cows, and rearing sheeps.

It's time to get your little farmhands dirty. Help them grow to be fruitful, self-sufficient, happy, and healthy!



Received for review

Very, very rarely do I come across a truly enjoyable book that I want to force on other people because it was just that good and this is one of those rarities.

Obviously I love animals and I love reading about them so this was just a match made in heaven.  The book is geared towards children but I found it incredibly entertaining and informative myself.  I learned fun tidbits such as:
  • An egg's shell has more than 6,000 tiny holes or pores in it that let the egg breathe
  • Pigs don't sweat
  • Goats are picky eaters and won't eat anything that has fallen on the ground
  • Rabbits can be trained to use a litter box
This is really a wealth of information and provides a remarkably sensitive view into a potentially iffy topics such as raising animals for meat.  Everything from birthing the different varieties of animals to what they eat, how to keep them happy and healthy, and what they produce for their owners (manure, meat, eggs, milk) is covered.  

Overall, this is an incredibly thorough and well written look into the subject of raising animals and would make an excellent read both for country and city kids alike.  It would also make a lovely gift for children who are curious about farm animals.  I highly, highly recommend it.

★★★★★ = Loved It



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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Review: Journey of a Shaman by John Norseman

John Norseman looks back at the incredible journey that led him to become the Ceo of four major companies, travel throughout the world, and eventually become a shaman.

The story begins with his traumatic childhood, which taught him the importance of learning to forgive others and close doors to move forward with confidence.

As you read his story, you'll learn valuable lessons, such as following your heart instead of your head, the importance of walking away from all negativity, and realizing that the only thing stopping you from achieving what you want are the own blocks in your own mind.

Norseman learned from many spiritual healers, teachers, and guides on his journey, and he overcame abuse, rebuilt self-esteem, turned personal weaknesses into strengths, developed right-brain spiritual awareness, and discovered the meaning of love in its spiritual sense.

Join a shaman on a life-changing journey, and discover how dreams and determination can help you achieve the impossible.



Received for review

I wanted to like this, I really did, but I just couldn't.  This was yet another autobiography of a rich dude who thinks he's more enlightened than everyone else because he has so much money that he can just quit his job and live as a Wayne Dyer wannabe.  Yawn.

I frankly couldn't care less about his life as a CEO, or his life after he found his calling of not having to work because he's so loaded.  There were some marginally interesting stories sprinkled throughout the book but overall they left me unsatisfied and didn't make me like the author any better.

Overall, unless you are actually into listening to rich guys tell you what you're doing wrong for not being rich and "enlightened" like they are then I'd give this a pass.  I really cannot recommend it.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay




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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Featured Book: When I Grow Up I Want to Be a Nurse! by Wigu Publishing

When Amber gets injured on the soccer field, she is forced to confront the fears shared by many children—fears of blood, hospitals, and abandonment. 

During her treatment, Amber encounters nurses who help her overcome her fears. 

By discovering the good work nurses do, Amber realizes that not only can she return to the soccer field, but she can also turn to the field of nursing when she grows up—something she never thought she could do!





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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: A World Elsewhere by Sigrid MacRae

The extraordinary love story of an American blueblood and a German aristocrat—and a riveting tale of survival in wartime Germany.

Sigrid MacRae never knew her father, until a trove of letters revealed not only him, but the singular story of her parents’ intercontinental love affair. In Paris in 1927, her mother, Aimée, raised in a wealthy Hartford family, falls in love with a charming, sophisticated Baltic German baron, a penniless exile of the Russian revolution. But the harsh reality of post-WWI Germany is inescapable: a bleak economy and the rise of Hitler quash Heinrich’s diplomatic ambitions, and their struggling family farm north of Berlin drains Aimée’s modest fortune. 

In 1941, Heinrich volunteers for the Russian front and is killed by a sniper. Widowed, living in a country soon at war with her own, Aimée must fend for herself. With home and family in jeopardy, she and her six young children flee the advancing Russian army in an epic journey, back to the country she thought she’d left behind.



Received for review.

Despite the really rather disorienting time jumps this as actually a quite enjoyable read about life in Germany between the wars.

Of course, this isn't really about the experiences of the actual working classes in Germany, but rather that of a rich woman from the US (I am embarrassed that she is from Connecticut as it makes the rest of us in the state look bad) marrying a German aristocrat.  Their "struggles" are not really representative of those of the other 99.9% of the German population at the time.  However, despite that this is a rather engrossing read and certainly informative.

I can't say that I either like or admire Aimee.  Considering the political situation at the time travelling to Germany to marry a man and choosing to remain in such an unstable country seems to me outright selfish and irresponsible.  If you want to put yourself in danger, fine, but once she started having children (ultimately six) she really needed to grow up and think about them instead of her.  Unfortunately, her epiphany didn't come until after the war had already started.  She never would have been put in such situations had she not been a spoiled and inconsiderate brat.  

What frustrates me the most is that Aimee is portrayed as some sort of martyr when she clearly was not.  Her family had plenty of money.  She could have returned to the States at any time yet chose to remain in Germany and whine about her circumstances.  It's her fault that she waited too long to get out.  And it's offensive to compare her experiences to those who wanted to get out of the country but couldn't because they didn't have the means to do so.  She had the means but she was too stupid to take advantage of them.  She created her situation and then refused to take any sort of responsibility for it.

Overall though, this is well written and a story that is an interesting if not particularly enjoyable read.  If you are interested in the time period then this provides a unique perspective on the events.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

Review reposted for paperback release.  Originally posted September 2014.



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Monday, October 26, 2015

Review: The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati

The international bestselling author of Into the Wilderness makes her highly anticipated return with a remarkable epic about two female doctors in nineteenth-century New York and the transcendent power of courage and love…

The year is 1883, and in New York City, it’s a time of dizzying splendor, crushing poverty, and tremendous change. With the gravity-defying Brooklyn Bridge nearly complete and New York in the grips of anti-vice crusader Anthony Comstock, Anna Savard and her cousin Sophie—both graduates of the Woman’s Medical School—treat the city’s most vulnerable, even if doing so may put everything they’ve strived for in jeopardy.

Anna's work has placed her in the path of four children who have lost everything, just as she herself once had. Faced with their helplessness, Anna must make an unexpected choice between holding on to the pain of her past and letting love into her life.

For Sophie, an obstetrician and the orphaned daughter of free people of color, helping a desperate young mother forces her to grapple with the oath she took as a doctor—and thrusts her and Anna into the orbit of Anthony Comstock, a dangerous man who considers himself the enemy of everything indecent and of anyone who dares to defy him.

With its vivid depictions of old New York and its enormously appealing characters, The Gilded Hour is a captivating, emotionally gripping novel that proves Sara Donati is an author at the height of her powers.



ARC received for review.

At first glance the sheer size of this volume at nearly seven hundred pages may seem a bit daunting the story and it's characters draw you in and you find the pages fly by quickly.

I'll admit that I wasn't overly fond of the two main characters, Anna and Sophie, at first but they did grow on me.  I did like Anna a smidge more since she was so forthright and open about things, but they were both solid characters and seemed like they really could have existed in the time period.  They felt like real people rather than female characters created to promote a more feminist view of the era.  Shockingly for historical fiction of this type the male characters were not caricatures and were well rounded in their own right.

Overall, this was an interesting read and it kept me engaged all the way to the rather surprising resolution.  If you are a fan of historical fiction, especially with a focus on independent female characters, then this would be an excellent choice and I certainly recommend it.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It



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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Featured Book: The Great Grammar Book by Marsha Sramek

Grammar books typically suffer from the "ugh" factor; they're a necessary tool for writing, but no one actually enjoys reading them. 

Well, Marsha Sramek's The Great Grammar Book: Mastering Grammar Usage and the Essentials of Composition is not typical. She uses fun facts, news article excerpts, and goofy trivia to demonstrate the principles of grammar. Plus, she vaporizes all that stuffy hot air espoused by the grammar police. Sramek leaves out the quirky, rare, and esoteric grammar usage and focuses on the commonly encountered bulk of real-world writing. 

If proper use of capitalization, quotation marks, and apostrophes has you pulling your hair out; if you need some little trick to help you remember whether to use "lie" or "lay;" or if you mistakenly think a lengthy sentence is the same thing as a run-on sentence, you will benefit from The Great Grammar Book. Sramek makes grammar and writing less intimidating. The book opens with a 100-question, diagnostic grammar test (with answer key) to help readers discern their grammar weaknesses. 

Of the book's twelve chapters, only three deal with parts of speech. The remaining chapters focus on common errors, usage, and double negatives, in addition to the areas mentioned above. Near the end of the book, a practical guide to better writing called "Successful Writing Strategies" addresses wordiness, unclear pronoun references, and meaningless phrases. 

Especially important to students is the advice on writing essays, research papers, and works of literary criticism. Sramek even includes a how-to on business letter writing. Every chapter in the book offers exercises and reviews, each with its own particular answer key, for self-study.



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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Featured Book: Kevin James and the Red Duck Musical Theater

Discrimination, Diversity, Music humorously presented in the Wild West of 1877. Kapowzaa!

Kevin James and the Red Duck Musical Theater begins in 1806, introducing us to the odd but wealthy James Family. Third-generation Ducky James and his wife, Red, emigrate from England to Connecticut, and have a son, Kevin James, who has inherited great musical talent and incredibly fast hands. As he grows, he learns music and dance, and studies theater in New York with the famous Paris LaBlue.

In 1877, hoping to pursue a musical career, Kevin must first travel to San Francisco to expand the family business. In his journey across the country, Kevin falls in love with the beautiful black Algonquin, Charlevoix, who is also traveling to San Francisco where she will study medicine to become a doctor like her African-born father. 


Kevin battles outlaws and gunslingers, choreographs the unification dance at an Indian powwow, and tries to write songs and script for the musical that keeps playing in his head. Among the diverse cast of characters Kevin encounters is Pistol Lalalala, a famous Canadian female outlaw sporting a handlebar mustache; a singing dentist who can't sing a lick; and Penny Copper, a grizzled old ranch owner who offers advice and encouragement. Kevin hires two cross-dressing Mississippi River trappers to guide him across Missouri through Indian country, and at the Chickasaw Indian powwow, he befriends a lonely powwow coordinator who joins the group heading west.

In California, Kevin dreams of opening the Red Duck Musical Theater, the first musical theater in San Francisco-but first he must face an evil character from his past in order to protect his friends and save the great city of San Francisco.

Kevin James and the Red Duck Musical Theater is an amusing, funny and sometimes laugh-out-loud debut novel, packed with adventure and featuring an unlikely hero who quietly teaches us all a lesson in acceptance. Quack!



About the author:

J. Cain Keener is a businessman and writer. He and his wife, Nancy, live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.



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Friday, October 23, 2015

Review: The Best of Enemies by Jen Lancaster

Bridesmaids meets Big Little Lies in a novel told from the alternating perspectives of two women who define the term frenemies—from New York Times bestselling author Jen Lancaster.

Jacqueline Jordan knows conflict. A fearless journalist, she’s spent the past decade embedded in the world’s hot spots, writing about the fall of nations and the rise of despots. But if you were to inquire about who topped Jack’s enemy list, she’d not hesitate to answer: Kitty Carricoe.

Kitty reigns supreme over the world of carpools and minivans. A SAHM, she spends her days caring for her dentist husband and three towheaded children, running the PTA, and hiding vegetables in deceptively delicious packed lunches.

Kitty and Jack haven’t a single thing in common—except for Sarabeth Chandler, their mutual bestie. Sarabeth and Jack can be tomboys with the best of them, while Sarabeth can get her girly-girl on with Kitty. In fact, the three of them were college friends until the notorious incident when Jack accidentally hooked up with Kitty’s boyfriend…

Yet both women drop everything and rush to Sarabeth’s side when they get the call that her fabulously wealthy husband has perished in a suspicious plane crash. To solve the mystery surrounding his death, Jack and Kitty must bury the hatchet and hit the road for a trip that just may bring them together—if it doesn’t kill them first.



Received for review.

If there is a rule in books it's that Jen Lancaster simply cannot write anything bad and one must immediately simply snap up any new book written by her - which, of course, I did with this, her latest release.

I immediately fell in love with the characters - well, Kitty more than Jack and Sarabeth - and the story.  Its brilliant mix of Chick Lit, mystery, and humor made for a simply delightful read.  It was smart, funny, and really quite touching at several points.  I unashamedly admit that I devoured it in a single day.

Whether you're already a dedicated fan of the author or just looking for something fabulous to read this is the answer.  You really cannot go wrong with it on any level.  I certainly highly, highly recommend it.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review: Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard

On August 9, 1945, three days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, a small port city on Japan’s southernmost island. An estimated 74,000 people died within the first five months, and another 75,000 were injured.

Published on the seventieth anniversary of the bombing, Nagasaki takes readers from the morning of the bombing to the city today, telling the first-hand experiences of five survivors, all of whom were teenagers at the time of the devastation. Susan Southard has spent years interviewing hibakusha (“bomb-affected people”) and researching the physical, emotional, and social challenges of post-atomic life. She weaves together dramatic eyewitness accounts with searing analysis of the policies of censorship and denial that colored much of what was reported about the bombing both in the United States and Japan.

A gripping narrative of human resilience, Nagasaki will help shape public discussion and debate over one of the most controversial wartime acts in history.



Received for review.

Anyone with even a basic knowledge of history knows about Nagasaki and the devastation caused there by the atomic bombing but I hadn't really seen any sort of personal accounts of the events until I read this.

While I didn't necessarily agree with the author on most, if not all, of her assertions, including the morality of the bombings (her main theme seemed to be that Americans are evil - which is ironic considering she is an American - etc.), she clearly did a great deal of research into the topic and the lives of the people affected.  The level of detail alone made this an intriguing read.  She really delved into their lives and their challenges and discussed their concerns about life post-bombing.  Everything from shelter to medical conditions was detailed thoroughly.  The author also included many photographs of not only the damage to the city, but several graphic images of patients with burns across their bodies which are not for the faint of heart.

Overall, while the author's attitude had me gritting my teeth at several points, the information presented was genuinely interesting and the book left me with a better understanding of the aftermath of the bombings.  I wouldn't rush out to buy this, but if you are interested in the topic this is certainly a solid choice.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It



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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Featured Book: Dust to Dust by John Hudson

The year is 1826 and Thomas Jefferson has just died. His beloved Monticello bustles with activity as funeral plans are swiftly organized for his burial in the family cemetery.

Fast forward to 2026. A group of researchers specializing in regeneration technology have found success after years of work and significant investment. Dr. Pat Alexander, head researcher at BioGen, announces to the assembled group of board members/investors that the regeneration of a circus chimpanzee, which died in a runaway circus wagon accident in 1926, has met with success: The animal is alive and well. Discussion turns to the final step in the researchers' plan-to bring back a human being-and after careful elimination, the candidates are whittled down to one name: Thomas Jefferson.

So begins this powerful debut novel-a book that examines human ambition gone wrong and chronicles the miraculous "rebirth" of the nation's third president, his struggles to assimilate, and the world's collective amazement at the science behind this feat. The American government swiftly becomes part of the oversight of the technology, and the 48th president personally introduces Jefferson to the 21st century. But with a lethal flaw in the researchers' technology, the world's unbridled excitement quickly erodes, leading to a destructive conclusion for all involved.

Fortunes evaporate, beliefs are challenged, careers are ruined, and lives are lost in Dust to Dust.



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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Review: Flawd by Emily-Anne Rigal

When you look in the mirror and only see your flaws, it can be hard to be your best self.

FLAWD is your new cheerleader—an energetic guide to seeing your flaws as the doorway to something more.

Through dynamic stories and advice from teens and celebrities around the world, FLAWD will help you to:
  • SEE yourself as perfectly imperfect.
  • TREAT life as playfully as possible.
  • THINK about what really matters.
  • EMBRACE all that makes you, YOU.
  • UNDERSTAND influence and how to use it.
  • KNOW you can be part of a flawd and powerful transformation.
Even though we exist in a culture that thrives on bullying us into believing we're never good enough as we are, FLAWD affirms that you are good enough, ready enough and important enough to be a flawd light in the world.

Are you ready to become fearless with your flaws and change the world by being yourself? Then FLAWD is the book for you.




Received for review.

This was such a cute little book and certainly a fast read.  It's a great idea for the target audience of teens, and perhaps (to a lesser degree) for adults as well.

I really liked the formatting and extensive use of graphic as well as fun fonts and colors which made the book quite enjoyable to read.  The friendly feel of it draws you in immediately.

The message itself - that everyone is flawed and that you should accept yourself despite your flaws - is a positive one, but can be rather difficult to actually implement in real life.  Yes, it's lovely you that you know you have flaws but to force yourself to feel that you're fabulous anyway just seems a bit too simplistic and wandering into Bridget Jones territory.

Overall, the book is a pleasant read and may work for some, but it is not a cure-all and should not be taken as such.  I certainly recommend it to those teens who are looking for something light and uplifting to possibly improve their lives.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It



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Monday, October 19, 2015

Review: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff

Summer 1941

Young Adelia Montforte flees fascist Italy for America, where she is whisked away to the shore by her well-meaning aunt and uncle. Here, she meets and falls for Charlie Connally, the eldest of the four Irish-Catholic boys next door. But all hopes for a future together are soon throttled by the war and a tragedy that hits much closer to home.

Grief-stricken, Addie flees—first to Washington and then to war-torn London—and finds a position at a prestigious newspaper, as well as a chance to redeem lost time, lost family…and lost love. But the past always nips at her heels, demanding to be reckoned with. And in a final, fateful choice, Addie discovers that the way home may be a path she never suspected.



Received for review.

I love Pam Jenoff and each time I open one of her books I know I'm in for a wonderful time.  This was, of course, no exception.

As always, this is not all rainbows and unicorns.  It's an emotional journey that leaves you alternately smiling and tearing up - and then smiling through your tears.  It's a beautifully written story about a woman who you genuinely care about and want to be happy.

While the ending was ultimately bittersweet I was quite pleased with the way the author detailed Addie's thoughts throughout.  I really saw experiences from her viewpoint and that helped me to understand, if not completely agree with, her choices.

Overall, this was another excellent read by a very talented author and I'm quite glad that I had the chance to experience it.  I certainly highly recommend it to those who enjoy period fiction.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Featured Book: Desperate Farm by Charles C. Anderson

Hold onto your seat for the fourth installment of The Farm series, the continuing saga of the Carlsons-a uniquely talented family who live on a 4,000-acre former plantation in central Virginia.

The intrepid Carlson family is once again drawn into defending the U.S. from those determined to traffic in nuclear warhead components on American soil.

While the gifted eighteen-year-old twins, Jack and Ava Carlson, attempt to rebuild shattered relationships with their first loves, Nate and Tory Bondurant, ex-Navy SEAL Andy Carlson and his wife Lindsey-a former CIA operative-enlist family friend Orvel Fletcher to investigate an unexpected legacy of Nate and Tory's grandfather, a known ex-KGB agent who sold old Soviet warheads to Iranians eight years before.

Several explosive encounters later, the Carlsons, Orvel, and the Bondurants seem to have successfully dealt with all threats-until a dual kidnapping leads to devastating discoveries, new heartbreak, and a desperate fight to the death.

With suspense, intrigue, romance, and humor, Desperate Farm is yet another winner in the thrilling saga of The Farm.




About the author:

Dr. Anderson is a retired Naval officer, an emergency physician, and a weapons specialist. He is an expert on Colonial Virginia, the Civil War, and limestone caves, all key subjects in this series. The plantation depicted has been his family's home since 1743. The initial book in the series, The Farm, was awarded the 2013 Readers View Reviewers Choice Award and the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award. The second and third books, Nuclear Farm and Blue Farm, were released in early 2014. Visit the author's website at www.amazon.com/author/thrillerguy.



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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Featured Book: If You Were Me and Lived in Hungary by Carole P. Roman

Welcome to Hungary! 

Join Carole P. Roman and learn about this beautiful country in Central Europe.

Packed with colorful illustrations, children will learn about the sights, currency, food, and even a few Hungarian words.


About the author:

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 for her first book, award winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. Using an imaginary game she played with her grandson as a base, Captain No Beard was born."Captain No Beard- An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life" has not only been named to Kirkus Best of 2012, it received the Star of Exceptional Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award for 2012. "Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience" Book 2 in the series, received 5 Stars from The ForeWord Review The Clarion Review. Strangers on the High Seas has won second place in the Rebecca's Reads Choice Awards 2013. It has followed with six more books to the series. Motivated by her love of yoga, Roman has written a book that not only teaches four poses, but shows how easy and accessible yoga can be. Her new non fiction series, "If You Were Me and Lived in..." combines her teaching past with her love of exploration and interest in the world around us. The debut book in the series, "If You Were Me and Lived in...Mexico" has won the Pinnacle Award for Best in Children's Non Fiction 2012. France, South Korea, and Norway. Rebecca's Reads has given If You Were Me and Lived in...Norway an honorable mention in the 2013 Choice Awards. If You Were Me and lived in ...France won second place. ForeWord Review has nominated If You Were Me and Lived in...France for best in children's non fiction literature 2013. They will be followed with Kenya, Turkey, India, and Australia. She plans to do Portugal, Greece, and Argentina next year. Writing for children has opened up a whole second act for her. While she is still working in her family business, this has enabled her to share her sense of humor as well as love for history and culture with the audience she adores. Roman lives on Long Island with her husband and near her children.


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Friday, October 16, 2015

Review: Infuse by Eric Prum and Josh Williams

Authors Eric Prum and Josh Williams’ passion for infusing oils, spirits and waters began one summer nearly a decade ago when the two first made peach-infused bourbon. They were awestruck. The seemingly simple process of adding fresh, local peaches to a Mason jar of Kentucky Bourbon, and infusing the mixture for a handful of weeks had somehow resulted in something so much greater than the sum of its parts.

In Infuse the authors share not only their favorite infusion recipes, but also how to use them in food and cocktails, like a spicy chili oil added to a grilled pizza bianca or a hot toddy spiked with the peach bourbon that started it all years ago. With more than 50 recipes for infusing oils, spirits and waters, Infuse provides instructions, quick tips and plenty of inspiration for how you can make delicious infusions part of your everyday.



Received for review.

I adore cookbooks and can never pass one by without taking a look, especially one with such a beautifully simplistic cover as this, and I'm so glad this one caught my eye.

I have, of course, heard of infusing various liquids before but there really hasn't been a guide to it that details the process in an easy to understand (and easy to accomplish) way.  This is that missing book.

The book thoroughly details just what you need to infuse various oils, spirits, and water to create mouth watering results that you can give as gifts or keep yourself and use in a myriad of ways in the presented recipes.  Recipes for everything from Garlic Confit Oil to Cranberry Rum to Salted Lime Syrup ensures there is an infusion to please every palate.  As a coffee fan I personally look forward to enjoying both the Coffee Liqueur and the Hanoi Cold Brew.

Overall, this is an excellent resource and is certainly a must have for anyone interested in the subject.  It would also make a lovely gift for a foodie.  I certainly highly, highly recommend it.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review: From Afar by Frank Scozzari

For centuries, poets have argued that unrequited love is love in its strongest form.

From Afar is a timeless tale of Morgan Stanfield’s search for love in the far northern city of Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Leaving the warm climate of Santa Barbara, he embarks on a four-day odyssey where he encounters a Russian beauty, a prostitute, a wise old babushka, an American chauvinist, intellectuals, the Russian mafia, and the ‘face’ of love, and comes to know how love from a distance can be more captivating than love close on hand.





Received for review.

I wanted to like this more than I did.  It had an interesting premise but was mildly entertaining at best.  The conversational tone of the writing was easy to read and made you feel as if you were listening to a friend tell about their traveling tales but it left a bit to be desired.  The transitions were awkward and everything just felt a bit stilted and generally off.  I really couldn't find it in myself to really care about the people or events.

Overall, while the stories were vaguely interesting the writing style left a bit to be desired and this ended up being rather disappointing.  I really cannot recommend it.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Featured Book: If You Were Me and Lived in Scotland by Carole P. Roman

Carole P. Roman is taking students to Northern Europe again and this time it’s to visit Scotland.

You’ll learn about the fascinating architecture that was inspired by ancient Greece and Rome.

Whether your name is Ian, Connor, or Malcolm, you’ll follow along and visit Loch Ness and hope to get a sighting of its famous occupant, Nessie.

Perhaps you’ll try haggis or tatie scones and finish your meal with a clootie.

Children are loving this award winning series! It has created a whole generation of armchair travelers that are thrilled to learn about cultures and customs from around the globe.

Join Carole P. Roman and discover the world!



About the author:

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 for her first book, award winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. Using an imaginary game she played with her grandson as a base, Captain No Beard was born."Captain No Beard- An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life" has not only been named to Kirkus Best of 2012, it received the Star of Exceptional Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award for 2012. "Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience" Book 2 in the series, received 5 Stars from The ForeWord Review The Clarion Review. Strangers on the High Seas has won second place in the Rebecca's Reads Choice Awards 2013. It has followed with six more books to the series. Motivated by her love of yoga, Roman has written a book that not only teaches four poses, but shows how easy and accessible yoga can be. Her new non fiction series, "If You Were Me and Lived in..." combines her teaching past with her love of exploration and interest in the world around us. The debut book in the series, "If You Were Me and Lived in...Mexico" has won the Pinnacle Award for Best in Children's Non Fiction 2012. France, South Korea, and Norway. Rebecca's Reads has given If You Were Me and Lived in...Norway an honorable mention in the 2013 Choice Awards. If You Were Me and lived in ...France won second place. ForeWord Review has nominated If You Were Me and Lived in...France for best in children's non fiction literature 2013. They will be followed with Kenya, Turkey, India, and Australia. She plans to do Portugal, Greece, and Argentina next year. Writing for children has opened up a whole second act for her. While she is still working in her family business, this has enabled her to share her sense of humor as well as love for history and culture with the audience she adores. Roman lives on Long Island with her husband and near her children.


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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Review: Why Homer Matters by Adam Nicolson

Adam Nicolson sees the Iliad and the Odyssey as the foundation myths of Greek--and our--consciousness, collapsing the passage of 4,000 years and making the distant past of the Mediterranean world as immediate to us as the events of our own time.

Why Homer Matters is a magical journey of discovery across wide stretches of the past, sewn together by the poems themselves and their metaphors of life and trouble. Homer's poems occupy, as Adam Nicolson writes "a third space" in the way we relate to the past: not as memory, which lasts no more than three generations, nor as the objective accounts of history, but as epic, invented after memory but before history, poetry which aims "to bind the wounds that time inflicts."

The Homeric poems are among the oldest stories we have, drawing on deep roots in the Eurasian steppes beyond the Black Sea?, but emerging at a time around 2000 B.C. when the people who would become the Greeks came south and both clashed and fused with the more sophisticated inhabitants of the Eastern Mediterranean.

The poems, which ask the eternal questions about the individual and the community, honor and service, love and war, tell us how we became who we are.



Received for review.

I'll admit that my initial reaction to this was "Does Homer matter?" since I was never a big fan when I was forced to study the Iliad and Odyssey in school.  Sure, his stories were okay, but they weren't really great.  However, after reading this I have developed a newfound respect for the man not only as an author but as a person.

The author takes an incredibly complex and potentially yawn worthy topic and makes it interesting for the casual reader.  This is certainly not light reading, but it does not come across as bone try textbook material either.  The author really makes you see Homer's world as he did - full of complex people and relationships, gorgeous art, and brutal battle.  He brings the ancient world to life and gives you a new appreciation for the people who lived in it.

If you are at all interested in learning more about Homer and his world this is most likely the best book to guide you on your journey.  I highly, highly recommend it.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Monday, October 12, 2015

Featured Book: If You Were Me and Lived in Australia by Carole P. Roman

Former social studies teacher Carole P. Roman has penned a new addition in her exiting explorations of foreign cultures and customs with “If You Were Me and Lived in … Australia".

In her years as a teacher, parent and grandparent, Roman noticed that there were few, if any, books about other cultures for young children. Roman has remedied the deficit and now introduces the new Australia installment in a series that educates kids, parents and teachers, alike.

Roman recognizes that children love to discover the differences and similarities of other people and places in far-off lands. In this series, she describes details that kids can relate to. Tailored to children from 3-to-8-years old, her writing is simple but does not talk down to youngsters.

Among the topics that are introduced in this journey to Australia are the unusual indigenous animals, the extraordinary Great Barrier Reef, the currency, the beloved game of cricket and the national holiday, Australia Day, as well as the special nicknames people have for one another and the curious taste sensation, Vegemite.



About the author:

A former social studies teacher, award-winning author Carole P. Roman has added a new book to her cultural education series titled "If You Were Me and Lived in … Australia." Other books in the series have featured France, South Korea and Turkey, and the book about Mexico was awarded the National Association of Book Entrepreneurs Pinnacle Award for Best in Children’s Interest in 2012. Roman loves to learn about many places, but there's no place like home and family in Long Island, N.Y.



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Review: A Royal Experiment by Janice Hadlow

The surprising, deliciously dramatic, and ultimately heartbreaking story of King George III's radical pursuit of happiness in his private life with Queen Charlotte and their 15 children

In the U.S., Britain's George III, the protagonist of A Royal Experiment, is known as the king from whom Americans won their independence and as "the mad king," but in Janice Hadlow's groundbreaking and entertaining new biography, he is another character altogether--compelling and relatable.

He was the first of Britain's three Hanoverian kings to be born in England, the first to identify as native of the nation he ruled. But this was far from the only difference between him and his predecessors. Neither of the previous Georges was faithful to his wife, nor to his mistresses. Both hated their own sons. And, overall, their children were angry, jealous, and disaffected schemers, whose palace shenanigans kick off Hadlow's juicy narrative and also made their lives unhappy ones.

Pained by his childhood amid this cruel and feuding family, George came to the throne aspiring to be a new kind of king--a force for moral good. And to be that new kind of king, he had to be a new kind of man. Against his irresistibly awful family background--of brutal royal intrigue, infidelity, and betrayal--George fervently pursued a radical domestic dream: he would have a faithful marriage and raise loving, educated, and resilient children.

The struggle of King George--along with his wife, Queen Charlotte, and their 15 children--to pursue a passion for family will surprise history buffs and delight a broad swath of biography readers and royal watchers.



Received for review.

While admittedly not light reading with 700 pages of closely printed, tiny text this is incredibly educational.  With discussions ranging from the politics of the time (most notably the independence of the United States) to his (surprisingly) happy home life to his mysterious illness in late life this provides a new view of King George III as a man and a king.

It must be stated that the author has a distinctly textbook style to her writing which makes the book a less than entertaining read.  While the topics are interesting the presentation is lacking, sucking any sort of joy from the reading experience.  Some sort of espresso drink will most likely be required while reading to keep the reader conscious.

Overall, this is a very well researched, educational book that is certain to increase your knowledge of the topic in a perhaps not entirely enjoyable way.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It



Sunday, October 11, 2015

Featured Book: Peace by Tsem Rinpoche

Peace begins here, right where we are. Far from being a distant concept, inner and outer peace can be created at every moment, in every conversation, and with our every action. 

In this compilation of short teachings, Tsem Rinpoche brings us back to the basics of what it means to create peace and lasting harmony within ourselves and with the people around us. He reveals surprising truths, offers us refreshing new perspectives, and gives us practical solutions for dealing with daily situations. 

With this book, you will gain the tools to increase the happiness in your life and overcome the hurdles. You will also learn how to foster strong, joyous relationships with others, fight your demons, and enhance your own positive potential in everything you do. Ultimately, you will discover that, just like the book you are now holding, peace is entirely in your hands.



About the author:

Beloved for his unconventional, contemporary approach to Dharma, His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche brings more than 2,500 years of Buddhist wisdom and teachings to the modern spiritual seeker by connecting ancient worlds with new people, cultures, attitudes, and lifestyles. He is a tulku, a reincarnate lama of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, as confirmed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is also the founder and spiritual guide of the Kechara House Buddhist Association in Malaysia. Rinpoche shares largely progressive teaching methods, which use elements as diverse as Madonna's music, sacred sutras, feeding the homeless, and caring for animals to convey authentic Buddhist teachings. He has very active followings online with more than 180,000 Facebook fans and 2,000,000 views on his YouTube channel. Be inspired by H.E. Tsem Rinpoche's work and life at www.tsemrinpoche.com.



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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Featured Book: My Bike Tour in France Remembered by Wayne Slingluff

In 1968, a college junior hates school, thinks he wants to be an artist, and is resigned to being drafted for the Vietnam War once he graduates.

That summer, Wayne bicycles alone over 2000 kilometers in France, staying in hostels and campgrounds on a shoestring budget.

He views ancient countryside, visits cities and towns for several days each and observes in amazement the depth of history, beauty of art, and ways of life.

He converses frequently with other European "jeunesse," all filled with questions and hopes of social reform in that revolutionary year.

He worries about his own life, what he should do, and what he might want to accomplish.

I tell his story to my grandson as I remember it, and consider how those lessons influenced my later outlooks and desires.

A series of adventures with meditations on meaning, beauty, art and history occur across northern, western, and southern France. Adolescents, those who remember being young, and anyone who likes the travelogues of Mark Twain should enjoy these stories.



About the author:

Wayne Slingluff is a retired software engineer who lives with his wife of almost forty years on Long Island. Although he no longer paints, he continues to observe the world "as an artist." He believes his long-ago trip to France was one of the most important steps in his development of a productive and happy life.



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Friday, October 9, 2015

Featured Book: Jane Austen's Guide to Thrift by Kathleen Anderson and Susan Jones




About the book:


Embrace your inner Jane and find a new way of life in thrift!

Jane Austen knew that wealth and grandeur had little to do with happiness, and that fashionable new dresses and reticules to impress Mr. Darcy simply were not the path to fulfillment—especially when one accrues debt in the process. It’s as true today as it was then . . .

Whether you have a fortune or not, you’re well advised to make the most of your income—and save for your future. Now, using the timeless wisdom and example of Jane Austen’s memorable heroines, this book offers everything the modern lady needs to know about:

*Clever investing

*Keeping up appearances on a budget

*Giving and receiving graciously

*Finding treasures at flea markets and church rummage sales

*Planning a party that only looks extravagant

*And more

Jane Austen’s Guide to Thrift shows how to make your circumstances significantly less reduced, and how to live a life of elegent economy and joyful generosity—whether you’ve as much as Emma Woodhouse or as little as Miss Bates.



About the authors:

Kathleen Anderson and Susan Jones have published essays in Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal and numerous other academic and creative journals. They are both professors of English and members of the Jane Austen Society of North America.



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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Featured Book: Wanted: Eight Critical Skills You Need to Succeed by Charles Cranston Jett


About the book:
WANTED: Eight Critical Skills You Need to Succeed Achieving success for yourself and your children has never been more difficult in this highly competitive world. WANTED: Eight Critical Skills You Need to Succeed reveals the eight critical skills needed to do just that. Based on extensive research of real-world hiring practices, the book, by corporate expert Charles Cranston Jett, challenges you to ask yourself: • What skills make people successful in their careers? • How do these skills fit into my personal career management strategy? • What can I do to cultivate these skills? • How are these skills taught in our schools, if at all? • How is the mastery of these skills measured? • What skills do I need to contribute to my company’s success? • How can I determine the critical skills for my company? WANTED: Eight Critical Skills You Need to Succeed answers these questions for individuals pursuing career success, as well as students seeking the tools they need to be competitive in the real world, business leaders looking to build a talented team, and teachers preparing students for real-world productivity and success. The easy-to-follow guide clearly defines how to develop critical thinking, communication, production, information, analysis, interpersonal, time management and continued education skills.

About the author:
Mr. Jett is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and the Harvard Graduate School of Business. He served in the United States Naval Nuclear Submarine Force where he created the nuclear attack submarine (SSN) predeployment training program for covert submarine operations, the tactical doctrine for the nuclear submarine electronic surveillance system (AN/WLR-6), and is the creator of the geographic plot (Geo Plot) for covert tracking of Soviet submarines from the SSN platform. He has had 15 years experience in the management consulting and executive recruiting world where he participated in strategic planning, marketing, and organizational development engagements, and CEO and Board of Directors searches. He has worked with corporate organizations in the area of critical skills identification and skill profiling to assist them in their corporate development programs as well as enabling them to target specific skill profiles for recruitment for entry level management positions. He created the career management tool known as the "Doom Loop" which has become popularized as a highly useful tool for anticipating and addressing various "career crises" as well as enabling organizations and executive search professionals to assess the skill capabilities, potentials, and current situations of individuals in corporate environments. He is the author of several publications including the magazine articles "Whatever Happened to Corporate Loyalty?" and "Critical Skills and the CEO" - both of which were published by Chief Executive Magazine and have become widely popular articles in the reprint world. He is also the author of two new books: "Wanted: Critical Skills!!" and "Career Crises and the Doom Loop." He is an accomplished speaker on the subject of Critical Skills having been featured by many of the nation's top business schools (Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Northwestern, Chicago, Michigan, etc.) and the American Psychological Association. He focused on skill development at the high school level and was featured in the US Department of Labor's publication, "Teaching the SCANS Competencies" which was distributed nationwide. To facilitate high schools' and training organizations' ability to create and manage work-based learning programs to teach critical skills and the SCANS competencies, he created the software management tool known as "Coop2000®" and served as a national school-to-work technical assistance provider as well as a national workforce investment act technical assistance provider. He is the author of WANTED: Eight Critical Skills You Need To Succeed, The Doom Loop, and Field Studies - all published by OutskirtsPress.

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Featured Book: Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson


About the book:
When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it. 

In the irreverent Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.


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