The Portrait by Antoine Laurain

  • Publisher:  Gallic Books
  • Date of publication:  June 26, 2017
  • Pages:  144
  • Genre:  Literary fiction / humour

SYNOPSIS:

A collector unearths the find of a lifetime: an eighteenth-century portrait of a man uncannily like him.  While wandering through a Paris auction house, avid collector Pierre-François Chaumont is stunned to discover the eighteenth-century portrait of an unknown man who looks just like him.  Much to his delight, Chaumont’s bid for the work is successful, but back at home his jaded wife and circle of friends are unable to see the resemblance.  Chaumont remains convinced of it, and as he researches into the painting’s history, he is presented with the opportunity to abandon his tedious existence and walk into a brand new life.

BUY THE BOOK:    AMAZON.CA    AMAZON.COM    BARNES & NOBLE    WEBSITE

MEET THE AUTHOR:  Antoine Laurain was born in Paris and is a journalist, antiques collector and the author of five novels. The President’s Hat, a charming fable set in the Mitterrand years, was awarded the Prix Landerneau Découvertes and the Prix Relay in 2012 and is published in English by Gallic.

It was a Waterstones Book Club book and ABA Indies Introduce pick in 2013. Antoine was chosen to represent France at European Literature Night 2014.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:    GOODREADS  

REVIEW:

Antoine Laurain has written a provocative and uncanny novella that takes place in Paris. The story revolves around a collector, an obsessive collector whose passion began as a child when he decided to start a rubber eraser collection.  Pierre-Francois Chaumont is a lawyer is devoted to surrounding himself with beautiful objects. His obsession has landed him in trouble with his wife so he’s on the straight and narrow. Until he sees the portrait.  The face is his own.

This story has a  very different feel from the other novels the author has written.  Whereas the stories such as “The Red Notebook” and “The President’s Hat” were good natured and lively, this tale is a tad darker with a hint something that is possibly otherworldly.

A good book to bring with you as you enjoy a cappuccino at your favourite cafe.

Book review: The Elephant of Frimley by Nicholas Rawls

 

  • The Elephant of Frimley by Nicholas Rawls
  • Publisher:  Clink Street Publishing
  • Publication date:  April 25th, 2017
  • Genre:  children’s fiction
  • Pages:  48

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Two sisters and an elephant embark on an exciting adventure in this charming illustrated children’s book.

After the discovery of an elephant in their back garden, sisters Hannah and Emily make it their adventurous mission to return it back home.

Originally written as a bedtime story for his two daughters, and beautifully illustrated by Louise Jewell, The Elephant of Frimley is a delightful and fun read that parents, primary school teachers and extended families will enjoy sharing with young children.

Buy the book:   Amazon UK

Meet the author:  

Retired and happily living in Farnborough, Surrey, Nicholas Rawls enjoys spending time chatting on-line with his grandson and five adult children who are scattered across the world. When he’s not writing poetry and children’s verse he can be found pursuing his other interests —from antique fountain pen restoration to stamp collection, amateur astronomy and learning to play the banjo.

REVIEW:

What a delightful little rhyming story!  A sweet story about a lost elephant and two cheeky girls.  I adored the funny rhymes!  I have used this book to teach poetry to my young students who are learning English.

Book review: Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club

  • Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club by Jane Evans (illustrated by Ruth Mutch)
  • Publisher:  Your Stories Matter
  • Published:  January 2017
  • Genre:  Children’s fiction (ages 7-9)
  • Pages:  184

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Vera McLuckie hates school. Mainly because she struggles with stuff the other kids find easy. Oh, and because she keeps getting into trouble for doing what she is really good at. Daydreaming.

So when Vera gets the chance to show just how extraordinary she is, will she dare take on the coolest, smartest girl in the whole of Acorn Bank Primary?

But it goes deeper. Whilst not named in the book explicitly, the three main characters exhibit dyspraxic, dyslexic and autistic (Asperger’s Syndrome) tendencies respectively. So the story can be used by parents and teachers as a catalyst for discussing what it is like to have a specific learning difficulty. In schools, teachers can use the book on a one-to-one, group or class basis to help raise awareness and improve well-being.

Book Background

Both author and illustrator are keen to raise awareness of specific learning difficulties in a way accessible to children. The illustrator is herself autistic.

Buy the book:  Amazon

Meet the author:

Jane Evans lives in Edinburgh, UK with her husband, daughter, cat and six fish. Although she has had many different jobs over the years, she keeps coming back to her first love, writing. ‘Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club’ is her first book, written with kids in mind who sometimes find things a bit tricky.

Ruth Mutch is a young artist, living in Glasgow with her rather lazy cat Phoebe. She is autistic and has a post graduate qualification in autism as well as a Primary Educational Studies degree and an HND in interactive media. She has a lot of experience of autistic children. Mutch has done various illustrations for autism awareness including an e-learning course but this is her first venture into illustrating a children’s fiction book which she is very excited about!

Connect with the author:   Goodreads   Twitter   Facebook

REVIEW:

I could soooo relate to this book.  I myself have a learning disability and remember staying after class with a teacher yelling at me because I couldn’t understand the basic concepts of letters and numbers.  I suspect I passed math in high school just so that my math teacher didn’t have to see me anymore.  Add to that the fact that I have difficulty seeing letters / objects in boxes, well – you get the picture.

In Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club we are introduced to three lovable characters who, despite their learning difficulties, become the best of friends. They help each other with their homework at Vera’s grandmother’s bookstore.

Vera is a daydreamer and a very creative one at that.  Which means that she often isn’t able to remember or complete her school work in class.  She also doesn’t like loud noises.

Max has a hard time understanding the way that other people talked and what they really meant when they said things.  He doesn’t like to be touched and notices everything!  The cool thing is, he really rocks at math!

Harry finds writing and spelling hard and she hates to read because the words just dance around on the page.  Vera and Harry help Max write about his feelings.

What I really admired about this book is that it is written in the Dyslexie font, which is a typeface for people with dyslexia.  The illustrations were drawn by Ruth Mutch, who is herself autistic.   There is also an mission in the back of the book to unlock a code word.  Is that cool or what?

A friendly and encouraging book for all those children who think they don’t fit in because they are different.

ABOUT YOUR STORIES MATTER:

About Your Stories Matter: Based in Kendal, Cumbria Paul Johnson is the founder of Your Stories Matter and the parent publishing company Explainer HQ —which provides creative video, audio, animation and print to the business and education sector. All Your Stories Matters titles are published in paperback and are available to order from online retailers including amazon.co.uk.

For more information please visit: https://www.yourstoriesmatter.org and follow on Twitter @ysm_books

Book review: The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle

  • The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle
  • Publisher:  Your Stories Matter
  • Genre:  children (ages 6-8 years)
  • Published: January 31, 2017
  • Author:   Beth Montgomery
  • Pages:  36 (softcover)

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Azzie doesn’t really like school. If she could spend every day drawing, painting and making stuff, things would be great. But she can’t. The teachers make her do other stuff. This nearly always means she has to read from the board, a worksheet or a text book. The trouble is, she really really struggles to read letters, words and numbers. This makes her feel stupid. But she knows she isn’t. If only she could tell someone …

This book has been written from the point of view of a child who feels misunderstood. She finds it very difficult to read, which makes school life a struggle. She feels stupid, even though she is clever and creative. She gets told off for messing around, when the truth is she can’t do what is asked of her because she has a specific learning difficulty.

This illustrated book helps parents, teachers, and other adults who support children, have a non-threatening discussion about dyslexia with children of primary school age. Children find it easier to relate to, and discuss, the character in the story rather than have all the attention focused on them.

Using the book as a catalyst for discussion, adults can use the illustrated story at home or in school with children who have dyslexia, or exhibit dyslexic tendencies. Teachers can use the book to help classmates better understand their peers who may struggle reading. Similarly, parents can use the book to help children better understand family members.

This book was written and illustrated by someone who is herself dyslexic, and is based on her own life. She wanted to do something to help children who, years later, are still facing the same lack of understanding in school.

Buy the book:  Amazon   

MEET THE AUTHOR:  Elizabeth Montgomery lives in Nottinghamshire, England. She studied a BA in Design at Leicester’s De Montfort University, going on to complete an MA in writing at Nottingham University. Montgomery pursued various careers, including teaching, working for the Prince’s Trust and designing bespoke shoes for celebrities, before finally becoming a registered nurse. She wrote the Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle to help children and adults accept the unique abilities of being dyslexic, instead of being made to feel bad and stupid.

Website  

Book Objectives

This book has been written from the point of view of a child who feels misunderstood. She finds it very difficult to read, which makes school life a struggle. She feels stupid, even though she is clever and creative. She gets told off for messing around, when the truth is she can’t do what is asked of her because she has a specific learning difficulty.

This illustrated book helps parents, teachers, and other adults who support children, have a non-threatening discussion about dyslexia with children of primary school age. Children find it easier to relate to, and discuss, the character in the story rather than have all the attention focused on them.

Using the book as a catalyst for discussion, adults can use the illustrated story at home or in school with children who have dyslexia, or exhibit dyslexic tendencies. Teachers can use the book to help classmates better understand their peers who may struggle reading. Similarly, parents can use the book to help children better understand family members.

Book Background

This book was written and illustrated by someone who is herself dyslexic, and is based on her own life. She wanted to do something to help children who, years later, are still facing the same lack of understanding in school.

As with all of its books, the publisher – Your Stories Matter – aims to help people know they are not alone with what makes them different. If a young person or adult can relate to a story, it gives them hope and encourages them to share their concerns. The publisher aims to provide free teaching resources for all of its books that can be used in schools, to help improve understanding and celebrate differences.

REVIEW:

What a delightful book!  The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle is about a little girl who is smart, creative and who tries very hard to read.  But she can’t read.  No matter how hard she tries, she can’t remember how to pronounce a word she has already read on the same page.  She says:  “I can see the letters just fine, but I see them differently to everyone else”.

Azzie has Dyslexia.  But it’s ok.  With a little extra help she can learn to read at her own pace.

Beth Montgomery provides an informative introduction about neurodiverse children and their neurological conditions.  These children are often misunderstood, which exacerbates the stress they already feel when they cannot learn as quickly as other children.  The author explains that there are many “positives” to being “wired differently” and that we should champion and celebrate these differences with the children in our care.

I have a degree in speech therapy and work one-on-one with children four days a week.  This book has helped me to identify those children who are experiencing the same struggle and frustration as Azzie.  This book would be an excellent addition to any pre-school library or paediatrician’s office.

ABOUT YOUR STORIES MATTER:

About Your Stories Matter: Based in Kendal, Cumbria Paul Johnson is the founder of Your Stories Matter and the parent publishing company Explainer HQ —which provides creative video, audio, animation and print to the business and education sector. All Your Stories Matters titles are published in paperback and are available to order from online retailers including amazon.co.uk.

For more information please visit: https://www.yourstoriesmatter.org and follow on Twitter @ysm_books

Book review: The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

  • Title:  The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
  • Published:  March 28, 2017
  • Publisher:  William Morrow
  • Pages:  368
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction

DESCRIPTION:

Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding.

Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.

First Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naive Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resister’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.

As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.

Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.

BUY THE BOOK:  Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Harper Collins

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Jessica Shattuck is the award-winning author of The Hazards of Good Breeding, which was a New York Times Notable Book and finalist for the PEN/Winship Award, and Perfect Life. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, New Yorker, Glamour, Mother Jones, Wired, and The Believer, among other publications. A graduate of Harvard University, she received her MFA from Columbia University. She lives with her husband and three children in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Connect with the author:   Website   Facebook   Twitter

REVIEW:

Wow, where do I even start?  This is a book that really makes you think about how the response of the German people to Hitler’s rise to power affected the lives of millions of innocent people. We see WWII through the eyes of three very different German women and how they chose or chose not to see the injustices and brutality perpetrated against fellow Germans as well as those from other countries.  Each of these women suffered terribly during the war and their experience gives us a unique perspective of what a German living at that time may have experienced.

Marianne:  the wife of a resister from a privileged background.  Firm in her conviction that Hitler should be stopped at all costs.

Benita:  a beautiful young woman, married to another resister, yet ignorant of her husband’s plot to assassinate the Fuhrer.

Ania:  a mother with two sons, liberated from a camp at the end of the second world war.

These three women barely survived the the war.  They are brought together by Marianne who promised her late husband that she would protect the widows of resisters. The chapters in this book fly back and forth to each woman’s past both before and during the war.  Slowly we are able to put together the pieces of their lives, their sorrows as well as the guilt they deal with as they try to rebuild their lives and those of their children.   This book provides us with a series of moral issues that each and every one of us must take a personal stand for now, for, if the past repeats itself, we may be as lost as those who did not resist the holocaust.

Book review: Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay!

  • Published:  March 28, 2017
  • Publisher:  Harper Collins Canada
  • Pages:  560
  • Genre:  General fiction

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  

In present-day Boston, Nina Revskaya, once a great star of the Russian ballet, has decided to auction her jewellery collection and donate the proceeds to the Boston Ballet Foundation. It is a mysterious gesture that has piqued the interest of two particular individuals: a rising associate director at the auction house, Drew Brooks, who seeks to unravel the provenance of the pieces; and a professor and Russian translator at the nearby university, Grigori Solodin, who believes the jewels might hold the key to his past.

The stakes are raised when an anonymous individual donates a necklace that perfectly matches the bracelet and earrings in Nina’s collection, claiming the pieces belong together. It is this donation that will bring Drew and Grigori together in unexpected ways to uncover the story behind Nina’s fabulous jewels—a bounty said to have been smuggled out of Stalinist Russia when she defected from the country in the early 1950s.

It was there, in Russia, that Nina first learned to dance, fell in love with the handsome poet Viktor Elsin, and struggled with the choice to pursue her craft or begin a family. Nina and her circle of free-thinking artist friends lived in constant fear of Stalin’s disapproval, of arrest and torture by the secret police for unpatriotic behaviour and so-called crimes against the state. Yet when their circle was broken by just such an arrest, a devastating misunderstanding parted the four friends and lovers forever.

BUY THE BOOK:   HarperCollins | Amazon

MEET THE AUTHOR:  Daphne Kalotay is the author of the award-winning novel Russian Winter, which has been published in twenty languages, and the fiction collection Calamity and Other Stories. She has received fellowships from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo, and has taught at Boston University, Skidmore College, Grub Street, and Middlebury College. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Connect with the author:  Website – Facebook – Goodreads

REVIEW:

Russian Winter is a Dr. Zhivago-esque blend of fiction and history.  There are several storylines blending together in this book with Nina, a young Russian ballerina as our principal player.  She is now living in Boston and has decided to auction off the jewels she received as gifts while she was living in the Soviet Union.

Grigori Solodin, an immigrant Russian professor in Boston is haunted by artifacts in a purse he received from his parents.  He is unable to determine their provenance until he learns of the auction of Nina Revskaya’s jewels.

Nina grows up in Stalinist Russia and is chosen to work for the Bolshoi Ballet. As she makes her way to becoming the principal dancer, she must choose between what comes first in her life, the Bolshoi Ballet or those she loves.

During the 1950’s in Stalinist Russia it is impossible to trust anyone, and with Nina this mistrust includes her family and friends.   Intrigue, informers and fear are the background to this story.   Despite the political environment, Nina falls in love with a handsome poet, Viktor Elsin.  As artists, however, they are not free to pursue their own passions, they belong to Stalin.

I was concerned that I a very short time frame in which to read this 500+ page book for review. The pages flew!  The author left clues throughout the book and so it was fairly easy to guess what would happen.  However, I was not prepared for the gut-wrenching revelations toward the end of the book. This is a keeper!

 

Book review: Success With Stress by Jae Ellard

Book Details:

Book Title:   Success With Stress by Jae Ellard
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction, 102 pages
Genre:  Self-help
Publisher:  Simple Intentions
Release date:  March 31, 2011
Format available for review:  Print
Will send print books:  Internationally
Tour dates: April 10 to May 5, 2017
Content Rating: G (This is an all ages book designed to create awareness and manage stress)

Book Description:

Believe it or not, stress isn’t all bad; in fact, it’s an important part of the natural world. Stress helps us survive as a species – because of that we want the ability to be stressed. That said, being able to manage stress with greater success is the difference between surviving and THRIVING. Success with Stress explores five simple ideas to spark your personal power to change the level, duration, and frequency of the stress in your life. With workplace stress being linked to quality of life, health, and workplace morale, this is a must-read for any team looking to improve morale and individuals looking to improve their quality of life.

Buy the Book:  Amazon

Add to Goodreads

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About the Author:

Jae Ellard is an author and expert on behaviors that cause imbalance, disengagement and distraction. After years in senior communication roles crafting content for executives, Jae collapsed from stress-related adrenal fatigue. This life-altering experience propelled her to research human behavior, neuroscience, mindfulness, and organizational relationship systems. In 2008, Jae founded Simple Intentions and developed the Mindful Life™ Program to generate intentional conversations to disrupt patterns and create awareness, accountability and action at team and individual levels. Jae has taught the skill of awareness in more than 50 countries to thousands of employees at multinational corporations such as Microsoft, Amazon and Expedia.

Jae is a columnist on workplace awareness for Mindful Magazine, as well as the author of 7 books on the topic. She contributes to the Healthy Living section on Huffington Post as well as the Simple Intentions blog. In 2013, she founded Seattle Wisdom, a community organization working to create and support conscious conversations in professional spaces in the Pacific Northwest. Jae has a master’s degree in Communication Management from Colorado State University and a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Communication from Metropolitan State College of Denver. She holds certificates in co-active coaching and organizational relationship systems coaching.

Connect with Jae:  Website ~ Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~ LinkedIn

REVIEW:  
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This is the second book from Jae Ellard’s series of self-help books that I have had a chance to read and review.  I enjoyed her first book “The Five Truths About Work-Life Balance”  and was interested to read another one in the series.
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She begins with defining what stress is and that most kinds of stress can be traced to issues concerning not communicating properly with others as well as not respecting our personal boundaries.  She then gives a bit of a scientific background on how the chemicals in our brain and body react to different types of stress.
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A subheading “5 Strategies for Success with Stress” gives practical advice on how to accept the elements in your life that are truly causing you stress and how to deal with them.  We also learn how eliminating multitasking can decrease our stress level.
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A small, easy-to-read book with a lot of practical suggestions.  Just a quick note, the quote on page 67:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is not an old adage.  It is found in the Bible in Luke 6:31 ““Also, just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them” (NWT).  I found it paradoxical that the book uses  both the theory of evolution in the beginning of the book as well as a Biblical quote as a basis for her advice.
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Book review: Dishing Up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis

About Dishing Up the Dirt

Hardcover:  304 pages
Publisher:  Harper Wave (March 14, 2017)

Andrea Bemis, the creator of the popular farm-to-table blog Dishing Up the Dirt builds on her success with this beautiful, simple, seasonally driven cookbook, featuring more than 100 inventive and delicious whole-foods recipes and dozens of color photographs.

For Andrea Bemis, who owns and runs a six-acre organic farm with her husband outside of Portland, Oregon, dinners are inspired by what is grown in the soil and picked by hand. In Dishing Up the Dirt, Andrea offers 100 authentic farm-to-table recipes, arranged by season, including:

Spring: Honey Roasted Strawberry Muffins, Lamb Lettuce Wraps with Mint Yogurt Sauce, Spring Harvest Pizza with Mint & Pea Pesto, Kohlrabi and Chickpea Salad

Summer: Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Biscuits, Roasted Ratatouille Toast, Kohlrabi Fritters with Garlic Herb Cashew Cream Sauce, Farmers Market Burgers with Mustard Greens Pesto

Fall: Farm Girl Veggie Bowls, Butternut Molasses Muffins, Early Autumn Moroccan Stew, Collard Green Slaw with Bacon Gremolata

Winter: Rutabaga Home Fries with Smokey Cashew Sauce, Hoisin Glazed Brussels Sprouts, Country Girl Old Fashioned Cocktails, Tumbleweed Farm Winter Panzanella

Andrea’s recipes focus on using whole, locally-sourced foods incorporating the philosophy of eating as close to the land as possible. While many recipes are naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegetarian, many others include elemental ingredients like bread, cheese, eggs, meat, and sweeteners, which are incorporated in new and inventive ways.

In short essays throughout the book, Andrea also presents an honest glimpse of life on Tumbleweed Farm – the real life of a farmer, not the shabby-chic fantasy often portrayed – offering fascinating and frequently entertaining details about where the food on our dinner tables comes from. With stunning food photography as well as intimate portraits of farm life, Dishing Up the Dirt allows anyone to be a seasonal foodie and an armchair farmer.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Andrea Bemis

Andrea is the writer, recipe developer, and photographer behind the food blog DishingUp TheDirt.com. Her recipes and Tumbleweed Farm have been featured in publications such as the New York Times, Well and Good NYC, and Eating Well Magazine. She lives on her farm in Oregon with her husband and dog.

Connect with Andrea on Instagram and Facebook.

REVIEW:

I’ve just finished reading through Andrea’s cookbook and can’t remember the last time I enjoyed reading a cookbook this much.

It was really interesting to read about what led Andrea and her husband, Taylor to where they are now as organic farmers on their six-acre farm in rural Oregon.  Andrea had never farmed or gardened (and she admits that hadn’t been much of a cook either) but the first two years of their married life together consisted of working on a sixty-acre organic vegetable farm in Massachusetts.  She began experimenting with new vegetables she had never seen before.  She grew to love her work in the kitchen.  She began sharing her recipes on a blog which “suddenly, had begun to attract a readership that extended beyond my parents”.

I carefully read through all the recipes in the book, eager to find something that I hadn’t seen before.  I began bookmarking the recipes that I am dying to try.  Here is a (preliminary ) list that caught my attention: (watch that drooling now…)

  • Honey Roasted Strawberry Muffins
  • Chicken & chickpea pesto summer salad
  • Brussel sprouts with toasted hazelnuts, lemon & parmesan
  • Honey & Cardamom whipped sweet potatoes
  • Butternut squash kale salad with maple-bourbon dressing
  • Sweet potato tart with hazelnut oat crust

Many of the recipes are gluten-free or sweetened by honey.  I didn’t realize that you could grill scallions and romaine lettuce.  Some of the unusual flavour combinations are intriguing.

I really enjoyed the  photographs of “their life on their farm” as well as the different dishes featured in this book.  Their informative website contains background information as well as recipes for many different vegetables.  As a former farm girl, I will live vicariously through this book.

Book review: Xenogeneic: First Contact by Lance Erlick

Book Details:

Book Title:   Xenogeneic: First Contact by Lance Erlick
Category:  Adult Fiction,   300 pages
Genre:  Sci-fi Thriller
Publisher:   Finlee Augare Books
Release date:  March 2017
Format available for review:  print and ebook (mobi, ePub)
Will send print books for review to:  USA
Tour dates:  March 13 to April 7, 2017
Content Rating: PG + M (This book is rated PG+M because of mature subject. No explicit sex.)

Book Description:

Xenogeneic is a science fiction thriller about first contact with an alien race that lost their civil war and wants to take over Earth.

Dr. Elena Pyetrov’s father vanished in space 18 years ago while searching for extraterrestrial life. As an aerospace engineer, Elena travels into space to search for answers and continue his work. Her ship is pulled off course and crashes. She suspects extraterrestrial interference.

The alien Knoonk lost their civil war in a distant star system and fled to Earth’s neighborhood to hide and regroup. They seek a new home—Earth. Unable to live in Earth’s toxic environment, the aliens kidnap and use humans to genetically modify their species to adapt.

Surviving the crash, Elena and her shipmates are transported to a closed cave system where the Knoonk monitor and control everything. Elena tries to make a connection with her hosts and find ways to work together, but Knoonk leaders rebuff her and force the humans to submit as slaves. The aliens use illusions, distractions, and social experiments to learn from their hostages and keep them off balance. Resistance by captive humans brings swift punishment to break the human spirit.

While Elena continues to look for ways to cooperate with the Knoonk, it becomes apparent that there can be no compromise. The Knoonk want to capture Earth for their species. It is winner take all. With time running out, Elena must dig deep to uncover the alien plan and find a way to stop them before the human race faces enslavement and extinction.

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Add to Goodreads

Lance Erlick

Meet the Author:

Lance Erlick writes science fiction thrillers for young adult and adult readers. He is the author of The Rebel Within, The Rebel Trap, and Rebels Divided, three books in the Rebel series. In those stories, he explores the consequences of Annabelle Scott following her conscience. He authored the Regina Shen series–Resilience, Vigilance, Defiance, and Endurance. This series takes place after abrupt climate change leads to the Great Collapse and a new society under the World Federation. His latest novel is Xenogeneic: First Contact about encounters with an alien race aiming to take over Earth.

Connect with the Author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest  

REVIEW:
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I  have to admit that I’m a sci-fi fan and do enjoy a good space opera.  The plot from Xenogeneic begins on earth with Elena Pyetrov planning a manned space flight to space.  While en route her craft is hijacked and her crew and passengers taken hostage on an unknown planet.  This is where Space 1999 meets Planet of the Apes.
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The plot had my head spinning.  I really struggled to keep track of the different characters.  There was constant head-banging repetition and that really made the book drag.  The language was YA or lower (although labelled adult fiction) and I was aghast when there were mature scenes interspersed throughout the book because I always felt that the book was written for a younger audience.
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To be honest, although this book drove me crazy, there is enough in the plot to keep you reading to the end.  The author has a lot of imagination and if you are a B movie enthusiast, you will enjoy this story.
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Book review: How to Find Your Dream Dog by Dixie Tenny

Book Details:

Book Title:   How to Find Your Dream Dog by Dixie Tenny
Category:  Adult Non Fiction,   139 pages
Genre:  Pets & Animal Care
Publisher:   Authors Unite
Release date:  October 2016
Format available for review:  print and ebook (PDF)
Will send print books for review to:  USA & Canada
Tour dates: Feb 27 to March 31, 2017
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

Bringing a new dog into the household should be one of life’s happiest events. The process always starts with excitement and high expectations. Too often, though, it ends in disappointment. The new puppy wakes everyone three times a night, gnaws on furniture, piddles everywhere, knocks the children down. The new adolescent dog is too wild. The new adult dog growls at your neighbors. And where did all this dog hair come from?

Most people spend hours researching a new mattress, days researching a new car, and weeks researching a new home or job. Yet for a new dog, a companion for the next 10-15 years, the most they do is visit the nearest shelter or pet shop and buy whatever looks cute and appealing. It’s no wonder they end up disappointed.

Whether you are looking for a purebred puppy or a charming mixed-breed, the type of dog you bring into your home matters. A quiet owner will struggle to keep up with a high-energy labrador mix, for instance, while an active outdoor family will be impatient with a snoozy bulldog. And finding the right kind of dog means becoming the right kind of owner—a task that takes some forethought and planning.

How To Find Your Dream Dog is here to fix the disconnect of dog ownership. It walks you step-by-step through the process of choosing the right type of dog for you—not only exploring the canine qualities that can determine your perfect puppy, adolescent, or adult dog, but also assessing your lifestyle to make sure you’re a good match for the dog, too. The book also looks at good (and bad) sources for finding healthy and sound pet dogs, gives guidelines for evaluating individual puppies, and warns of some red flags to watch out for during your dog search. With this guidebook in hand, you can be confident that the next puppy or dog you bring home will be the right companion and friend for you for the rest of its days.

​Dixie Tenny is a Certified Training Partner with the Karen Pryor Academy of Animal Training and Behavior. During her 30+ years spent working with people and their pets, she has seen again and again how mismatches between dog and owner can create “behavior problems” that never would have happened if the right dog had been matched to the right owner in the first place. She wrote this book to help puppy buyers and dog adopters start out on the best possible foot with their new pet dogs, and stay on that path for years to come.

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Add on Goodreads

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Meet the Author:

Dixie Tenny has been helping people and their dogs find each other and form successful partnerships since the early 1980s. She founded two rescue organizations: Purebred Dog Rescue of Saint Louis in 1984, and Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue, Inc. in 1987. Dixie was the Director of Training for the Greater St. Louis Training Club, Inc., for five years, creating classes and overseeing the work of 40 head and assistant trainers. In 2003 she and another experienced trainer created Dogs Unleashed, LLC. They traveled to clients’ homes and worked with behavior and training issues.
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Dixie’s professional credentials include trainer certifications from the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior, and the Association for Pet Dog Trainers. Dixie formed her own business, Human-Animal Learning Opportunities, LLC (HALO) in 2013. HALO hosts continuing education seminars for dog trainers.
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Dixie has lived with a wide range of dogs over the years including mixed breeds, Australian Shepherds, Welsh and Cairn terriers, and more. While in Seattle, Dixie raised a labrador puppy for Canine Companions for Independence, Inc. (CCI). Currently Dixie lives with a Beauceron and an elderly Papillon, as well as four cats. When not doing things related to animals, she reads widely, enjoys the company of her three grown children, follows baseball and English Premier League football, and travels the world.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Facebook

REVIEW:
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After having lived with dogs most of my life, I wondered what I would learn from Dixie’s book. Everything.  This book should be given to everyone who is considering bringing a dog into their family.  How would I describe this book? Tough love.  That’s really what you need when you are about to make a decision that may affect your life (and that of your family’s) for more than a decade.
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Often we spend more time researching a car or a kitchen appliance than we do before bringing home a pet.  This book is so full of sound advice.
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For example, how much time do you have to spend every day with your new puppy?  See page 42
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Do you want a dog that will run with you or a lap dog?  Watch out for those energy levels!  See page 54
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Should you buy a puppy from a pet store?  See page 76
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This book will give you the confidence to look for a dog that is best suited to your lifestyle.  It will also help you avoid the pitfalls of falling for a puppy that may grow up to be different from your expectations.
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Dixie’s book should be made available to all public libraries and vet clinics.  It is easy to read, even for young children and provides a list of useful resources at the end of the book.  I highly recommend this to everyone who is looking for a new furry companion!
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