Book review:The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Callaway


  • ISBN: 9780062391612
  • ISBN 10: 0062391615
  • Imprint: Harper Paperbacks
  • On Sale: 05/31/2016
  • Pages: 384
  • List Price: 19.99 CAD
  • BISAC1: FICTION / Historical

About the Book

The Bronx, 1891. Virginia Loftin, the boldest of four artistic sisters in a family living in genteel poverty, knows what she wants most: to become a celebrated novelist despite her gender, and to marry Charlie, the boy next door and her first love.

When Charlie proposes instead to a woman from a wealthy family, Ginny is devastated; shutting out her family, she holes up and turns their story into fiction, obsessively rewriting a better ending. Though she works with newfound intensity, literary success eludes her—until she attends a salon hosted in her brother’s writer friend John Hopper’s Fifth Avenue mansion. Among painters, musicians, actors, and writers, Ginny returns to herself, even blooming under the handsome, enigmatic John’s increasingly romantic attentions.

Just as she and her siblings have become swept up in the society, though, Charlie throws himself back into her path, and Ginny learns that the salon’s bright lights may be obscuring some dark shadows. Torn between two worlds that aren’t quite as she’d imagined them, Ginny will realize how high the stakes are for her family, her writing, and her chance at love.

Buy the book:  Amazon   Barnes & Noble  Chapters/Indigo   
24-200x300Meet the author:
Joy Callaway’s love of storytelling is a direct result of her parents’ insistence that she read books or write stories instead of watching TV. Her interest in family history was fostered by her relatives’ habit of recounting tales of ancestors’ lives. Joy is a full-time mom and writer. She formerly served as a marketing director for a wealth management company. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and Public Relations from Marshall University and an M.M.C. in Mass Communication from the University of South Carolina. She resides in Charlotte, NC with her husband, John, and her children, Alevia and John.
Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Facebook   Instagram
My first impression upon reading this novel was that it resembled a stage play, with the characters and set changing  with each new chapter.  I felt like I was a “fly on the wall”, observing all the intimate details of the Loftin family as they came to grips with a series of events that could ultimately tear apart the family.
Virginia (or Ginny) is an ambitious, passionate young writer who is intent on making a celebrated name for herself.  Her genteel family is living in severely reduced circumstances.  Her best friend and confidante Charlie is always there for her.  She dreams that together they can write and somehow provide for their families.  However, when Charlie suddenly  and unexpectedly marries another woman to improve his financial situation, Ginny’s world falls apart.  She seeks solace with fellow authors and artists at the home of another writer, John Hopper.  The world she so desperately seeks to satisfy her intellectual cravings inspire her.  She begins to make new friends and connections.  But things aren’t always as they seem.   Then Charlie re-enters the picture.
I really enjoyed reading about the historical aspects of the 1890’s.   Any woman trying to change her circumstances needed a good deal of courage and fortitude to counteract prejudice against women and the unchangeable norms of society at the time.
I found the first part of the book to be a bit slow, but that generally happens when there are so many characters to develop.  At the halfway point, things really started to “heat up” and I had a hard time putting the book down.  Anyone who enjoys reading about authors (both men and men) of the late 19th century will appreciate Joy Callaway’s novel.

Book spotlight: Jesusita by Ronald L. Ruiz


Book Details:

Book Title:  Jesusita by Ronald L. Ruiz
Category:  Adult fiction, 275 pages
Genre:  Literary
Publisher:  Amika Press
Release date:  May 2015
Available for review in:  Print, ebook (mobi for Kindle) other
Will send print books:  USA & Canada
Tour dates:  Nov 2 to 20, 2015
Content Rating:  R  (There are subject matters of physical and sexual abuse in this novel as well as prostitution.)

Book Description:  

Jesusita is the story of immigrants—legal and illegal—trying to survive in California in the years after World War II. Jesusita, alone and impoverished, struggles to keep her four young children together. Though she finds support from Padre Montes at St. Teresa’s Catholic Church, her faith won’t solve her problems, especially those with her daughter, Paulina. Far from home, Filipino laborers are denied by law any contact with white women. Angie, the young daughter of an illiterate and unmarried mother, knows only one way to make money. And Felix, abandoned by his mother and separated from his only brother, is placed in a foster home on an isolated ranch. The interrelated lives of these people provide a complex, sometimes violent, and often tragic image of American poverty within the nation’s postwar boom.

Buy the book:    Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble

Praise for the work of Ronald L. Ruiz:

“The sparse, simple prose lets the story tell itself… The supporting characters are briefly but fully drawn… Few readers will be able to forget the chilling experiences of a forlorn hero who’s destined to take his place next to Bigger Thomas (of Richard Wright’s Native Son) in the honor roll of seminal characters in American literature.”

–Publishers Weekly (featured review) on Happy Birthday Jesús

Ronald L. Ruiz author pic

Meet the author:

After reading Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment at the age of 17, I knew I wanted to be a writer. But I knew nothing about the craft. My first novel, Happy Birthday Jesús, was published 36 years later. Surprisingly, it received good reviews

For many years, I was a criminal defense attorney and at the end of my career a prosecutor, but I always managed to find time to write. What I saw and experienced during those years often serves as a basis for my writing. For me, learning how to write has been a long, continuous and, at times, torturous process.

Now retired, I try to write every day and I feel fortunate that I have found something in writing that sustains me. I’m glad I persevered during all those years of rejection. More than anything, writing about what I see and experience in life has given me a sense of worth.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Facebook


Nov 2 –   Corinne Rodrigues – review / giveaway
Nov 3 –   Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine – review / guest post
Nov 4 –   Working Mommy Journal – review / giveaway
Nov 5 –   misty103 @ HubPages – review
Nov 6 –   Cheryl’s Book Nook – review / giveaway
Nov 9 –   Bound 4 Escape – review / giveaway
Nov 10 – Svetlana’s Reads and Views – review
Nov 11 – The World As I See It – review / giveaway
Nov 12 – The Autistic Gamer – review
Nov 12 – T’s Stuff – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Nov 13 – Life as Leels – review
Nov 16 – Puddletown Reviews – review
Nov 17 – Nighttime Reading Center – review / author interview / giveaway
Nov 18 – Library of Clean Reads – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Nov 19 – – book spotlight
Nov 20 – The Bookish Angel – review / guest post / giveaway


Book review: Port of No Return by Michelle Saftich


Book Details:

Book Title: Port of No Return by Michelle Saftich
Category:  Adult Fiction, 238 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Published: July 2015
Available in:  Print
Will send books: International
Tour dates:  Oct 12 to 23, 2015
Content Rating:  PG-13

Book Description:

Contessa and Ettore Saforo awake to a normal day in war-stricken, occupied
Italy. By the end of the day, their house is in ruins and they must seek shelter and protection wherever they can. But the turbulent politics of 1944 refuses to let them be.

As Tito and his Yugoslav Army threaten their German-held town of Fiume, Ettore finds himself running for his life, knowing that neither side is forgiving of those who have assisted the enemy. His wife and children must also flee the meagre life their town can offer, searching for a better life as displaced persons.

Ettore and Contessa’s battle to find each other, and the struggle of their family and friends to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of a devastating war, provide a rich and varied account of Italian migration to Australia after World War II.

What can you do when you have nowhere left to call home? Port of No Return considers this question and more in a novel that is full of action, pain and laughter — a journey you will want to see through to the very end.

Buy the book:    Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Chapters/Indigo    

3677393Meet the author: Michelle Saftich is a first-time author who resides in Brisbane, Australia.  She holds a Bachelor of Business/Communications Degree, majoring in journalism, from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).For the past 20 years, she has worked in communications, including print journalism, sub-editing, communications management and media relations. She is married with two children.

Connect with the author:   Website    Facebook    Twitter

Port of No Return is the author’s father’s story about their family’s struggle to flee their beloved city of Fiume, Italy.  Historical in nature, Michelle’s book acknowledges the hundreds of thousands of people who were displaced throughout Europe during WWII, and that many Italians were forcibily removed by the Yugoslavs.
Ettore and Contessa, along with Nonna and their young children must survive hardships and food rationing during the German occupation of their town, Fiume.  Partisan rebels add violence and uncertainty into their already tenuous living situation.  Forced to find refuge when their home is bombed, they seek help from friends outside the city.  The sequence of events that follows affects both Ettore and Contessa as well as the family that takes them in.  The chaos and violence of war is balanced with the kindness and and courage of both friends and strangers they meet as they struggle to keep alive.  Families and couples are separated as they flee for their lives, never knowing when or where they will meet up again.
Apart from a few modern expressions which didn’t seem to fit the writing style of this historical story, the storytelling flowed pretty easily, despite the fact that there were so many characters.  There were several plot twists and tense moments which kept me on the edge of my seat.
This book is a good match for those who are interested in Italian history.

Book review: No Poverty Between the Sheets by Pauline Kiely


Book Details:
Book Title:  No Poverty Between the Sheets by Pauline Kiely
Category: Adult non-fiction, 258 pages
Genre:  Memoir
Publisher:  A Passionate Pen
Published:  March 2012
Available in: Print and e-book (mobi for Kindle), PDF
Will send books:  Canada and USA
Tour dates:  August 10 to 28, 2015
Content Rating: PG-13 Mature
Book Description:
This book documents the strong ties that bind generations together. When the author poses the question to her Irish Granny, “If you were so poor why did you have ten children?” Says she, “To be certain, there was no poverty between the sheets!” This sassy saga of a large family that is half Irish and half French Canadian captures hilarious voices and comical antics of a vibrant family that is cloaked in love. A horse theme and song lyrics are neatly knitted throughout the layers of generations.
Meet the Author:

1013529Pauline Kiely has been an avid student of Creative Writing her entire life. This author has consistently taken various courses and workshops offered at University of Toronto and Trent Universities. A year long memoir course with Susan Reynolds brought out this witty honest voice that shoots straight from the hip aiming for the heart.

Connect with the author:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook



This rockin’ memoir tells the story of a French Canadian girl who marries an Irish gent. Their story includes their children, their extended family (the French Connection) , their friends, travels and pets.  We read of their dreams,  disappointments and the love they had for their family.  It’s a crazy reality show in a book!  Pauline describes her family like this:

“My parents are like two sticks of dynamite, and I’m their mixed-up kid!”
The expressions Pauline uses are priceless and you can’t help but admire a girl who had a crush on Davy Jones from the TV show “The Monkees”.

The book is filled with funny quotes as well as serious expressions such as:

“Work is serious but doesn’t have to be miserable.  If you enjoy what they are doing and see positive results, what more can you ask for?  Life isn’t a bed of roses.  Life is what you make it, kid!”   There are plenty of photos throughout the book.  Be sure to catch Granny Kiely’s outrageous remarks!  A fun read!

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Book review: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain



  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (July 28, 2015)


Paula McLain, author of the phenomenal bestseller The Paris Wife, now returns with her keenly anticipated new novel, transporting readers to colonial Kenya in the 1920s. Circling the Sun brings to life a fearless and captivating woman—Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who as Isak Dinesen wrote the classic memoir Out of Africa.

Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships.

Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly.

Set against the majestic landscape of early-twentieth-century Africa, McLain’s powerful tale reveals the extraordinary adventures of a woman before her time, the exhilaration of freedom and its cost, and the tenacity of the human spirit.



author_photoPaula McLain was born in Fresno, California in 1965. After being abandoned by both parents, she and her two sisters became wards of the California Court System, moving in and out of various foster homes for the next fourteen years. When she aged out of the system, she supported herself by working as a nurses aid in a convalescent hospital, a pizza delivery girl, an auto-plant worker, a cocktail waitress–before discovering she could (and very much wanted to) write. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996.

She is the author of The Paris Wife, a New York Times and international bestseller, which has been published in thirty-four languages. The recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, the Cleveland Arts Prize, the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, she is also the author of two collections of poetry; a memoir,Like Family, Growing up in Other People’s Houses; and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She lives with her family in Cleveland.


I almost felt like I needed to brush the dust off my clothes as I put down this book. The beautiful descriptions of Kenya and life in the bush and the spunkiness of a young girl raised on a horse ranch in the African countryside drew me into the storyline. The story piqued my curiosity about the true life story of Beryl Markham. I intend to read more about this incredible woman whose fierce independence and determination won her the title of first woman horse trainer and first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1936.

The characters were well-developed and although the storyline flew along through several decades, I was never confused.

A good read for those who love both history, romance and adventure.

Book review: Quicksand by Gigi Pandian

Author Gigi Pandian

A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery

(cozy mystery)

Release date: March 10, 2015
at Henery Press
280 pages

ISBN: 9781941962275



A thousand-year-old secret room. A sultan’s stolen treasure. A missing French priest. And an invitation to Paris to rekindle an old flame!

Historian Jaya Jones finds herself on the wrong side of the law during an art heist at the Louvre. To redeem herself, she follows clues from an illuminated manuscript that lead from the cobblestone streets of Paris to the quicksand-surrounded fortress of Mont Saint-Michel. With the help of enigmatic Lane Peters and a 90-year-old stage magician, Jaya delves into Franceís colonial past in India to clear her name and catch a killer.



 Gigi PandianUSA Today bestselling author Gigi Pandian
is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico
and the southern tip of India.
After being dragged around the world during her childhood,
she tried to escape her fate when she left a PhD program for art school.
But adventurous academics wouldnít stay out of her head.
Thus was born the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series
(Artifact, Pirate Vishnu, and Quicksand).
Gigi’s debut mystery novel was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant
and named a ìBest of 2012 Debut Novel by Suspense Magazine.
Her short fiction has been short-listed for Agatha and Macavity awards,
and she also writes the new Accidental Alchemist mystery series.
She takes photos of gargoyles wherever she goes, and posts them on her Gargoyle Girl blog.

Visit her website. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter

Subscribe to her newsletter

Visit her Gargoyle photography blog:

Buy the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Itunes | Google Play


You can enter the global giveaway here
or on any other book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
they are listed in the entry form below


Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

Global giveaway open internationally:
1 winner will receive a print copy of the 3 books in the

Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries Series

plus a beautiful set of recipe cards matching the 3 books!
Yes, you got that right:
1 winner will win the 3 books + recipe cards!



Quicksand banner


This is the first book I’ve read by Gigi Pandian and found it to be so much fun! It is #3 in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery but can easily be read as a stand-alone. I plan to go back and read the first two novels in the series.

Jaya Jones receives a mysterious letter and airline ticket to Paris from a former love interest who she hasn’t heard from in months.  She is torn between her new teaching assignment and pursuing the mystery of the French occupation in India.  What she doesn’t expect is the danger that awaits her!

It was a fast-paced Indiana-Jones style story that kept me glued to the pages. It’s a clean cozy mystery with plenty of excitement, romance and intriguing characters. I love history, especially anything about India and France and found the subject to be interesting and educational. I really liked Jaya’s character as a historian (I like smart female leads). The writing style was friendly and personal and I could really relate with what Jaya was thinking. Plenty of plot twists keep you interested until the end of the book.

This series would make a great TV series!

Book review: Life Outside the Box by Marilyn R. Wilson


Book Description:
Real Stories about Real People to Entertain, Inspire and Challenge You.

Get inspired to step out of your box and into a world full of potential. From the corporate world, to the arts, to working with the disenfranchised – the message is clear. There is no such thing as a normal way to live your life and no one right solution to any problem. Selected from amongst over 100 interviews, the stories shared here open a window on the journeys of seven women and three men who have charted their own path, including Ruthie Davis – top U.S. luxury shoe designer and the winner of the 2014 AAFA Footwear Designer of the Year award – and Geir Ness whose perfume is a staple in Nordstrom, Disney World and on Disney Cruise Lines. Enjoy a glimpse behind the scenes into the unique ways these individuals chose to deal with life’s challenges and how they define success in their careers.

Buy the Book:

Influence Publishing Website
Barnes & Nobles
Indigo Chapters


Meet the Author:
Marilyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for interviewing. It all began in 2006 when the she answered a Craigslist ad from a NY magazine asking for story submissions. Two were accepted. The first live interview was life changing and Wilson has never looked back. With over 150 interviews now behind her, the love of interviewing is still as strong as ever. Whether through a random encounter on the New York subway or via a “one-on-one” interview with an internationally recognized artist, the goal is the same—to share the unique journeys of inspiring individuals.In 2007, this goal led the author to co-launch a successful, innovative magazine focused on professionals working in the fashion industry, paired with photography and illustrations by local artists. Now on staff at Raine Magazine (NY/Miami/LA), as well as freelancing for other publications, Wilson has taken her passion to a new audience with the release of her first book.
Connect with Marilyn:  Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter



“How do you define success? There is no secret. Just do and be brave.” Often we equate personal success with money, fame and personal possessions. The biographies of the men and women in this book prove otherwise.

I read with interest the different journeys each one took to achieve their personal goals. What was the catalyst or spark that inspired each individual? For some, like Ruthie Davis it possibly began with her first pair of red patent leather Mary Janes. Ruthie later became an acclaimed shoe designer. For Geir Ness, the time spent outdoors hiking in the mountains led him to create his parfume “Laila”, a scent reminiscent of wildflowers. Shane Koyczan was bullied as a child. His love of reading and film later on inspired him to write poetry.

Every one of these talented individuals had their own personal struggle to contend with, lack of money, no backers, the loss their company as well as the death of someone they loved. However, sheer determination, gutsiness, mistakes and hard work soon put them at the top of their respective fields. What is common, though, to almost all of these entrepreneurs, is the open-heartedness and generosity they extended toward those less fortunate. Their dedication to helping others proved to be the greatest sign of their success.

As I read through this book I found myself researching each person on the internet as I needed to put a face to the name. I had never heard of any of these people and am glad to have read Marilyn Wilson’s book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to pursue their passion or become an entrepreneur.

Marilyn summed up the purpose of her book as follows: “By choosing to embrace your mission, and let it lead you where it may, life becomes a daring and, dare I say, an exciting adventure!”

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Book review: The Debt of Tamar by Nicole Dweck


Book Synopsis:

Bestselling author Nicole Dweck brings to life one of history’s greatest yet overlooked stories of love and resilience.

In 2002, thirty-two-year-old Selim Osman, the last descendant of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, flees Istanbul for New York. In a twist of fate he meets Hannah, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and an artist striving to understand a father she barely knows. Unaware the connection they share goes back centuries, the two feel an immediate pull to one another. But as their story intertwines with that of their ancestors, the heroic but ultimately tragic decision that bound two families centuries ago ripples into the future, threatening to tear Hannah and Selim apart.

From a 16th-century harem to a seaside village in the Holy Land, from Nazi-occupied Paris to modern-day Manhattan, Nicole Dweck’s The Debt of Tamar weaves a spellbinding tapestry of love, history, and fate that will enchant readers from the very first page.

Buy the book:   Amazon     Barnes & Noble

Link to my review in The Jewish Voice 

About the author:

Nicole Dweck hd8f0b3_da3e4f98261f40c5b764ac27c550a320.jpg_srz_p_357_238_75_22_0.50_1.20_0olds a BA in Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Global Affairs from NYU. When The Debt of Tamar, her debut novel, was self-published, it was a USA Today bestseller and received honorable mention in Writer’s Digest’s Self-Published Book Awards. She lives in New York City with her husband and their son.

Connect with the author:    Website     Facebook


As I finished reading the last page of The Debt of Tamar, I had goosebumps.  A good story will draw you in and touch you emotionally and this book did exactly that.  Nicole’s poetic and descriptive writing transports you directly into the scenes of her characters.  You become a personal spectactor in her story.  Her narratives are simply beautiful.

The storyline begins in 1544 in Portugal with Dona Antonia, Jose and Reyna. Fearing for their lives, they must flee the Inquisition.  Their story then picks up in Istanbul where their lives become intertwined with the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.  After an interval of 400 years, the thread of the story emerges in Paris, France and later returns to Istanbul. You are curious as to exactly how the storylines of the two families, one Jewish and one Muslim will finally meet and bring a debt or release to a final close.

One of my favourite passages in the book:

Through it all, the very same sun and moon and stars never wavered, never once failed to rise and fall and shine their light upon the world.  And though mankind itself had run amok, the universe never once collapsed in on itself.

As a history buff, I enjoy good historical fiction.  Nicole ranks along some of my other favourite authors such as Indu Sundaresan.  I look forward to reading more of Nicole’s work in the future.


Book Review: Guy Erma & the Son of Empire by Sally Ann Melia


Book Description:

The story starts with a boy:
“I don’t want to go, mum.”
“You must…”
How long can a mother regret the last words to her son?

This story is a space opera adventure and a kidnap thriller… A young prince is kidnapped, a galactic Empire in peril for the Prince has fallen into the hands of the ruthless yet charismatic Chart Segat, a populist politician, he is also head of the crack space warriors: the Dome Elite.

Teodor’s mother, Regent Sayginn of Freyne 2 will use every resource at her disposal: military might, security surveillance, battle cyborgs and insider intelligence to find her son. She will call on the Valvanchi, the telepathic shape shifting aliens to free him … The only question is can they get to the Prince in time?
Meanwhile in the shadow of the Dome, living a life of desperate poverty is another boy: 13-year-old Guy Erma. His only dream is to join the Dome Elite, and the only way he can do that is by ‘doing whatever Chart Segat says. ’ Whatever he says!’

A tightly plotted thriller, Guy Erma and the Son of Empire is a complex space opera with a cracking science fiction storyline, told with verve and pace.

The book will delight those who love • Science Fiction • Space Operas • Star Wars style Adventures • Galactic Empire stories • Young Adult Science Fiction • Young Adult Space Opera • Young Adult Thrillers • Young Adult Action Adventure

And is inspired by the works of • George Lucas • JJ Abrams • Steven Spielberg • J R R Tolkien • Frank Herbert • Iain M Banks • Peter F Hamilton


Meet the Author:  The author was born in Wallasey, England, in 1964, and moved to the South of France when she was eleven. She spent her teenage years living in the cosmopolitan city state of Monaco and became immersed in its many languages and cultures. An English girl in a French school, for three hours each week she would sit at the back of the class as her colleagues learnt English. To pass the time, she wrote stories. This led to a lifetime of writing novels, scripts, stories and articles.In her working life, Sally writes marketing communications and manages large international websites.In 2010, Sally joined the Hogs Back Writers, a club located on the outskirts of Guildford, and she set about turning an old manuscript into this novel: Guy Erma and the Son of Empire. Sally currently lives in Farnham, and she is married with two children.

Connect with Sally:  Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Pinterest

Buy the book:  Amazon   Barns & Noble


I’m new to the sci-fi genre and didn’t know what to expect when I began to read this story. The storyline immediately pulled me in but I became temporarily confused when two other story lines began to develop. I hung in there because I could see that the characters were being developed.

The three stories begin to blend together and we have an intriguing and exciting adventure. There is Guy, an orphan but very talented student whose desire is to join the Dome Elite. There is also Karl Valvanchi, a Zaracan warrior and shape-shifter from Sas Daron and finally Prince Regent Theodor from Freyne 2, whose empire is under threat. The manner in which these three characters are brought together shows depth and, although there were a lot of details, with time they added to the richness of the plot.

I enjoyed the book because it was exciting, fast paced and an intelligent read. It was written for young adults but any mature person would certainly enjoy it. I look forward to the next installment!

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Book review: Going Against the Grain – Italian Style! A Gluten-Free Life Guide and Recipe Book for Staying Healthy and Eating Amazingly by Nuccia Ardagna


About the book:  This two-part book is a vital adjunct to any home attempting to be gluten-free. The first part guides you through early diagnosis and is an essential guide for any beginner diagnosed with celiac disease or some form of gluten sensitivity. You will learn how to identify symptoms of the disease, how celiac disease is diagnosed, and the consequences if left untreated. It will help you to understand how to read labels and how to manage your gluten-free home in a shared environment. It outlines practical advice for parents of children with celiac disease as well as tips for eating out and dealing with social settings such as special occasions or when traveling. Honorary foreword provided by renowned Dr. Peter HR Green, MD – Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.

Growing up authentically Sicilian, Nuccia Ardagna thought that getting rid of gluten meant giving up her favorite traditional foods, but that could not be further from the truth! Nuccia combines her passion for eating amazingly Italian with her new dietary needs to bring you scrumptious, traditional Italian (and Sicilian) recipes. From simple, classic appetizers to decadent desserts you thought you could never enjoy, every recipe is easy-to-follow and offers beautiful full-color pictures throughout. You can feel confident about entertaining guests and family with these mouth-watering recipes. You can eat healthier, feel better, and truly enjoy living gluten-free while never having to sacrifice great taste! In this book, Nuccia not only shares her personal story with celiac disease but also the recipes she grew up with at home and uses to entertain guests. Look for the bonus section at the end of the book along with a section dedicated to her favorite links and resources.

We hope you enjoy the book and find it helpful in your journey.

23072Meet the Author:  Nuccia Ardagna loves to travel to the place of her roots: SICILIA! Being Sicilian, she grew up with mamma, nonna and all her zie learning all the tricks of the trade and creating DELICIOUS Italian food from scratch. When diagnosed with celiac disease she was forced to learn new habits and, now, after trial and error and experimenting, wants to share her exquisite culinary creations with you. She IS a true Italian to the core.

Connect with Nuccia:  Website  ~  Twitter

Buy the book:   Amazon


I looked forward to reading this cookbook by Nuccia because I am gluten intolerant and am always looking for new ways to improve my diet.
She begins with her own story about how she was diagnosed with celiac’s disease and the measures both she and her family took to adjust to a new lifestyle that would help her feel better and heal. There is a section entitled “what is celiac disease?, what are the symptoms?, can celiac disease lead to other health problems and when will I start to feel better?”

She outlines how to read food labels, how to avoid cross-contamination, and how to travel and keep to your diet. There is a section on other names for wheat and/or other forms of grains that must be avoided which I found to be extremely useful. For those who suffer from celiac disease, it also contains a chapter on how to avoid cross-contamination when dining out.

Part 2 of this book contains the different Italian recipes that anyone who cannot tolerate gluten can add to their repetoire. I liked the way the different recipes were on different coloured pages. There were plenty of photographs of both the individual recipes as well as Nuccia and her family.

As a visual artist the only (not really important) issue I had with the book was that the photo editing rendered some of the photos to be very dark with a very high contrast. I personally prefer photographs of food to be “true-to-life” so that I can compare what I make with what the recipe should look like.

The resource section is a valuable source of links to websites related to the different organizations, travel resources, and food and restaurants that all sell gluten-free products.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Italian food and wants to enjoy gluten-free cooking.