Book review: Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos: How Italian Women Make the Ordinary Extraordinary by Gabriella Contestabile

Book Details:

Book Title:  Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos: How Italian Women Make the Ordinary Extraordinary by Gabriella Contestabile
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction,  201  pages
Genre: Travel / Arts / Fashion / Self-help
Publisher:  Sumisura Publications
Release date:  November 2017
Format available for review: print & ebook (PDF)
Will send print books out: internationally
Tour dates: April 23 to May 11, 2018
Content Rating: G (No violence. No swear words. No sex scenes.)

Book Description:

Ah, that inimitable Italian style. It’s embedded in an Italian woman’s DNA. Fashion doesn’t define her. She defines herself. She knows an extraordinary life is not about status, money, or achievement. The only mastery it requires is one her heritage has given her, the irrepressible passion to make art of life itself.

Ask an Italian woman where she gets her sense of style and she will tell you it’s not about labels. It’s tethered to humble roots; humanity, community, conscious consumerism, and a profound appreciation for art in all its forms.

Sass, Smarts and Stilettos takes the reader on a journey from the humble hill towns of Abruzzo to the revered fashion capitals of Milan and Rome, into the artisan workshops of Florence, and the humanistic business practices of Luisa Spagnoli, Brunello Cuccinelli, and Alberta Ferretti, from the emergence of Italy’s fashion industry after WWII, to slow food and sustainable fashion initiatives taking root around the world.

Life lessons echo in the words of the author’s mother and grandmother, in the voices of Italian film divas, designers, tastemakers, writers, and artisans across generations, from the first Sala Bianca in Florence to the game changing design ethic of Franca Sozzani, Miuccia Prada, and Donatella Versace.

Learn how to live fully within your own philosophy of living. Say good-bye to mindless consumerism, emotional clutter, and others’ expectations. Create a personal style that fits like a custom blazer by Ferrè and enchants like the colors of a Sicilian sunset. Then go on to craft an extraordinary and empowering life made-to-measure for you alone.

Gabriella Contestabile

Meet the Author:

Gabriella Contestabile is the author of the novel, The Artisan’s Star, and owner of Su Misura (Made to Measure) Journeys; a boutique travel concept for the female traveler who relishes off-the-beaten-track adventures that celebrate the Italian way of life.

​The book/travel initiative has its roots in her pre-writer life as a foreign language teacher, later as Executive Director and Vice President of International Training in a number of global companies (including Estee Lauder, Shiseido, and Prada Beauty) where she would create immersive and unconventional learning experiences in unique settings around the world.

One of her favorite pastimes, wherever she is in the world, is to scout out the best, and most ‘Italian’ espresso in the hood. It requires multiple tastings, but that’s the idea. Gabriella was born in Italy, and raised in Ottawa and New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, her mother, and a furry Shih Tzu named Oreo.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ LinkedIn

REVIEW:
This little book is a delightful combination of memoir, fashion history and practical advice about how to live your life to the fullest and most stylish.  I loved every little chapter – each beginning with a catchy quote.  This book will gently motivate you to be a better you – happier and more fulfilled.
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Here are a few of the tidbits  from the book that I love: (both from the book and cited quotes)
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It’s not about the label.  It’s about the art.
Don’t over-purchase.  When you have less, what you own is precious.
Bad food is never an option.
Travel is the enemy of prejudice, bigotry and small mindedness.
Age is the prison women make for themselves.
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Fashion history has been a passion of mine for many years so I enjoyed the chapters outlining the history of Italian fashion.  I would google the different designers and pour over examples of the clothing they designed.
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All this good advice had me re-think the way I was living, from the food I eat to the clothes I wear.  Of course, I’m not Italian but I am willing to adapt my lifestyle to be more mindful of the way I live and dress. Everyone keeps telling me to get a Vespa … one day who knows?
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Book spotlight: Falling For The Stars: A Stunt Gal’s Tattle Tales by Lisa Loving Dalton

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Book Details:

Book Title:  Falling For The Stars: A Stunt Gal’s Tattle Tales
Author:  Lisa Loving Dalton
Category:  Adult Nonfiction,  224 pages
Genre:  Memoir, Performing Arts
Publisher:  Peak Performance Living
Release date:  Oct 27, 2016
Tour dates:  Nov 21 to Dec 9, 2016
Content Rating:  PG-13 + M

Book Description:  

Lisa Loving Dalton spent years working with or stunt doubling for a galaxy of celebrity stars including Madonna, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Katherine Hepburn, Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman, Darryl Hannah, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robin Williams, Robert Downey Jr., Liam Neeson, Cher and more…

Yet, what stands out in her new book Falling For The Stars: A Stunt Gal’s Tattle Tales is the indomitable spirit she assayed, despite the extraordinary price she paid for her stellar career—including misogyny, a miscarriage, and a life-long back injury. And each juicy story she relays in her fascinating chronicle, brings home an important life lesson for the reader—one that she learned the hard way.

Beginning as a naïve, insecure actress, trying to use extra work and stunts as a way into the Hollywood firmament, Dalton rises to become one of the top stunt professionals, ultimately reaping the economic rewards and the ego gratification—while denying her true desire to act full time. Dalton appeared in more than 200 films, television shows and commercials in New York, Hollywood and Texas, including work in Ghostbusters, Money Pit, Crocodile Dundee, Married to the Mob, FX, Legal Eagles, and Splash on the big screen and ER, HBO’s Carnivale, Dr. Quinn and Melrose Place among her many TV credits.

Yet, Falling For The Stars also provides a magical behind-the-scenes look at the stars and moviemaking through the eyes of a woman who went toe-to-toe with the Hollywood elite, or at least walked in their stunt shoes. She knows first-hand the caring and humanity of such luminaries as Streep, Redford and Cher.

Dalton reveals what it took to hang over cliffs, get hit by a moving car, drop from five stories up, dodge a bridge full of speeding cars—and to ignore the Universe’s more gentle prompts that it was time to quit and follow her passion into acting fulltime or teaching acting. The resulting career-ending spinal injury has a story of its own, how she researched medical and alternative paths that form the heart of what she shares with the world today. She is now certified in NLP, Hypnosis, and Neurological Repatterning—ways she learned to heal.

With humor and candor, Dalton inspires the reader to rise above one’s fears and limitations and go for the gusto. In her book, it is very clear that she knows full well that tomorrow is promised to no one and there is no gift greater than the present. And the present is what you make of it by finding the hidden gifts. Today, she helps actors burnish their gifts by performing and teaching acting around the world.

Buy the Book:  Amazon

Watch the trailer:


Lisa Loving Dalton

Meet the Author:

From a bullied, dyslexic, messy, freckle-faced, klutzy pixie, Lisa Loving Dalton grew into a statuesque and skillful stuntwoman, actor, director, teacher, author, filmmaker, leadership and life coach, and ceremonial minister. Always seeking and finding the silver lining, she has made the most of whatever life threw at her. She says, “I spill stuff, trip and drip all of the time so I made a career out of it. My advice: Embrace what is as perfect.”

Dalton appeared in more than 200 films, television shows and commercials in New York, Hollywood and Texas, including work in Ghostbusters, Money Pit, Crocodile Dundee, Married to the Mob, FX, Legal Eagles, and Splash on the big screen and ER, HBO’s Carnivale, Dr. Quinn and Melrose Place among her many TV credits.

Connect with the author:

Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest  ~  Youtube  ~  Instagram

BOOK SPOTLIGHT TOUR SCHEDULE:

Nov 21 – Working Mommy Journal – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 21 – Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine – book spotlight / guest post
Nov 22 – Book Reviews Nature photos and everything in between – book spotlight
Nov 22 – Reading Authors – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 23 – My Life. One Story at a Time. – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Nov 23 – Kimber Leigh Writes – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Nov 23 – Books, Dreams, Life – book spotlight
Nov 24 – A Soccer Mom’s Book Blog – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 24 – Fantastic Feathers  – book spotlight / guest post
Nov 25 – 100 Pages A Day – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Nov 28 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Nov 29 – Library of Clean Reads – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Nov 30 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – book spotlight / giveaway
Dec 1 –  Cheryl’s Book Nook – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Dec 2 – Books for Books – book spotlight
Dec 2 – My Devotional Thoughts – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Dec 5 – Bound 2 Escape – book spotlight / giveaway
Dec 6 – fuonlyknew – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Dec 7 – The Autistic Gamer – book spotlight
Dec 8 – #redhead.with.book – book spotlight / giveaway
Dec 9 – E-News With Jessy – book spotlight

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Book review: The Stages of Grace: Life and Love in the Face of Alzheimer’s by Connie Ruben

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Book Details:

Book Title:  The Stages of Grace: Life and Love in the Face of Alzheimer’s by Connie Ruben
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction,   149 pages
Genre: Memoir, drama
Publisher:   Xlibres
Release date:  July 2015
Format available for review:  Print and ebook (PDF)
Will send print books to: USA & Canada
Tour dates: Nov 21 to Dec 9, 2016
Content Rating: PG (There are a couple of swear words such as “asshole” but no F words)

Book Description:

This book was written out of a desire to share with others who have loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease what I have experience as Grace’ caregiver and friend. I wanted to capture the emotions, the expected and the unexpected issues, the painful times as well as the humorous and loving moments that Grace and I have shared as a result of this disease. This is not mean to be a handbook for dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, but I hope that by sharing my feelings and experiences, readers may recognize they are not alone on this particular journey.

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Amazon.ca

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Meet the Author:

Connie Ruben is an entrepreneur with well developed management skills. She has run several large companies, and prides herself on empowering others to work to their full potential. Connie also has an intimate knowledge of the challenges and joys of caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease, as her mother-in-law Grace was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s disease in 2003. While Connie still struggles to balance her work life and home life, her understanding of this disease has made it easier for her to negotiate the demands of being a caregiver, as well as a wife, mother, and employer. She has written this book in order to share the insights she has gained as Grace’s primary caregiver and friend. Most importantly, Connie wants this book to assure others that caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be enjoyable, life-affirming, and emotionally significant.

Connect with the author: Website 

REVIEW:
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I had the opportunity to meet Connie at the 2015 Book Expo in New York and that is where I first saw her book about her life with Grace.
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Connie first meets Grace through Grace’s son (and her future husband) and immediately forms a very close and loving friendship with this lively and caring lady.
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Years later, in 2003 Grace receives a  diagnosis of advanced Alzheimer’s disease.  Connie is thrown into despair and confusion.  Grace has been her pillar, a mother figure and a close friend and the fear of watching Grace lose her ability to communicate and care for herself frightens Connie.   Connie’s relationship with Grace changes from that of a friend to primary caregiver and through trial and error and often humourous situations, she learns that despite the frustration and helplessness she feels, there are still plenty of unexpected happy and funny moments they share together.
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What I learned from Connie and Grace’s story is that in some situations, unpredictability and loss of control might leave us feeling helpless and frustrated.  We can’t do everything by ourselves so by accepting assistance and support we are able to navigate through unsure waters with more confidence.  Although not a guide to treating Alzheimer’s patients, this account gives us insight into some of the situations we may encounter with a patient suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
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SPOTLIGHT TOUR: A Drop Of Water: A Spiritual Journey by Yvonne Williams Casaus

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Book Details:

Book Title:  A Drop Of Water: A Spiritual Journey by Yvonne Williams Casaus
Category:  Adult nonfiction, 208 pages
Genre:  Memoir, Spirituality, Self-help, Personal Growth, Grief, Loss, Mental Health, Suicide Prevention
Publisher: Laughing At Myself, LLC
Release date:  September 2016
Tour dates:  Sept 19 to Oct 7, 2016
Content Rating:  PG + M (There is no bad language, but author discusses her husband’s suicide)

Book Description:

In this extraordinary book, Yvonne reflects upon her past experiences, grief, and losses to find her way back to her spirituality and strength. She bares her soul, yet is able to use water as a lighthearted, uninhibited, and fun way to express how we are all connected. It is a spiritually inspired book about healing, grief, and personal growth.

It becomes a beautiful poetic journey as she discovers her love of water as part of what led her towards her spiritual path. Through her writing she expresses how she found her way through several tremendous losses, including the loss of her husband. In her ability to endure, she found a strength she never knew she had.

This book is for anyone that has ever struggled with depression, grief, or loss of any kind. It is for anyone interested in personal growth and healing. By sharing her personal story she is able to remind us that we are never truly alone. Water connects us all.

Buy the Book:   Amazon

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Meet the Author:

Yvonne Williams Casaus is a Mom, Wife, Author, Counselor, and Play Therapist. She is an independently licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LPCC), a Registered Play Therapist (RPT), and is certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. She specializes in Depression, Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She has a private practice in New Mexico and has been helping adults, children, adolescents, and families for over eleven years.

Yvonne’s areas of expertise include Depression, Anxiety, Divorce, Panic Attacks, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), Sexual Abuse, Rape, Physical Abuse, Grief, ADHD and other issues. She also specializes in treating traumatized children with issues such as PTSD, Sexual abuse, Physical Abuse, Neglect, Adoption, and Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Connect with the author:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest  ~ Instagram

TOUR SCHEDULE:

Sept 19 – Working Mommy Journal – book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 19 – Reading Authors – book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 20 – Book reviews nature photos and everything in between – book spotlight
Sept 20 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sept 21 – Divas With A Purpose – book spotlight / guest post
Sept 21 – Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine – book spotlight / guest post
Sept 22 – Library of Clean Reads – book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 23 – Corinne Rodrigues – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sept 23 – Northernmsw – book spotlight / author interview
Sept 26 – Books, Dreams, Life – book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 26 – Books for Books – book spotlight
Sept 27 – Sylv all about books and film – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sept 28 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sept 29 – Collecting Moments – book spotlight
Sept 30 – Deal Sharing Aunt – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 3 –     Collecting Moments – guest post
Oct 4 –     #redhead.with.book – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 5 –     The Autistic Gamer – book spotlight
Oct 6 –     Bound 2 Escape – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 7 –     Health is Our Key – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway

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Book review: Shouting from the Summits by Kala Ramachandran

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  • Publisher:  Clink Street Publishing
  • Date released:  September 13, 2016
  • Format:  Paperback, ebook
  • Genre:  Memoir, biography, non-fiction
  • Pages:  83

Book Description:

‘Living proof that a stammer need not hold you back’. Leys Geddes Kala Ramachandran struggled with a stammer and it became so debilitating, she thought it would be with her her whole life. But then she embraced mountaineering. And finally found her voice. This is her story. ‘It is a given we will have obstacles in life, some of us from the very beginning. Kala’s story is one of perseverance; of overcoming; of hope. The world she grew up in didn’t include Asian women who climbed mountains. Now it does thanks to Kala never letting go of her dream.’ Warren Macdonald

Buy the book:   Amazon

See the video interview with Kala:

Kala Ramachandran, Authoright author published by Clink Street Publishing from Authoright on Vimeo.

REVIEW:  

As you can see from the accompanying video, Kala Ramachandran was fiercely determined to prove both to herself and her family that she could achieve anything she wanted.  Kala suffered from a speech impediment (stuttering) from a young age and as a result, became very shy and withdrawn.  However, she was a keen student and excelled in her studies.

One day, during a geography lesson, her father told her about a Japanese lady, Junko Tabei, who was the first woman to climb Mount Everest.  Kala’s search for purpose in life and love for mountaineering began at that moment.

The book is written in Kala’s own words and because  Kala is self-taught when it comes to the English language, the language in the book is somewhat rudimentary.  However, as I read through her story, I felt like I was listening to a conversation from Kala herself and could easily follow along.

Although not a mountaineer myself, I have had the opportunity to visit Everest base camp and feel happiest when I can catch a glimpse of “my” mountains every day. Kala’s story caught my attention right away because I also have a degree in speech therapy which included helping those who stutter.  Her perseverance and willingness to leave her comfort zone are truly commendable.

Authoright5

Book review: Ganga Jamuna by Sunita Lad Bhamray

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  • Publisher: Kitaab International Pte Ltd (2016)
  • Paperback:  150 pages
  • Genre:  Memoir

ABOUT THE BOOK:  A zealous single mother must travel from her home in Nepal to Singapore in order to access healthcare that  may save her conjoined twins, in this empowering novel of love and survival based on a true story.

Abani has so far lived a life of quiet resolve. Admired by strangers for her striking beauty and soft-spoken demeanour, she has pressed on without complaint through the challenges life has thrown at her growing up in a poor family. After she learns she is pregnant with conjoined twins, though, she faces an even greater challenge, with the only hope she has of saving her children being a brand new surgery performed in a hospital in Singapore. With only the few supplies she can carry and the advice and assistance of her friends, she begins the trek across the continent on a quest to protect her unborn children.

Bhamray was inspired by the true story of Sandhya Shreshtha, a woman forced to make the same journey to Singapore from Nepal after giving birth to conjoined twins for the intervening medical care that was necessary to have a chance at saving their lives. After the experimental surgery, the woman and her children were able to return home with a new lease on life and the chance at happiness. Upon finishing the novel, Bhamray still wasn’t satisfied and so helped start a crowdfunding campaign to raise awareness for the family and funds for much-need reconstructive surgeries.

Ganga Jamuna by Sunita Lad Bhamray is an inspiring tale of perseverance in the face of life’s obstacles and a reminder of how powerful a force friendship can be during the most trying times in each of our lives. At times both heart-breaking and uplifting, it is a novel that will empower and motivate readers to never give in to the unfortunate circumstances they find themselves in and always power through.

BUY THE BOOK:    Amazon    

sunita-ladMEET THE AUTHOR:

Sunita Lad Bhamray is an author and educator living in Singapore with her husband and two children. After earning her graduate degree and enjoying a long and rewarding career teaching internationally, Lad Bhamray now devotes her time to writing. Ganga Jamuna is her third book; her first, Triumphs on the Turf, released in 2011, was about horse racing in India. It was followed by Grandma Lim’s Persimmons, a storybook for children, in 2013. Ganga Jamuna by Sunita Lad Bhamray (published by Kitaab International 8th April, 2016) is available to buy from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and can be ordered from all good bookstores.

Website     Facebook

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Book spotlight: Coins in the Fountain: A Memoir of Rome by Judith Works

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Book Details:

Book Title:  Coins in the Fountain: A Memoir of Rome by Judith Works
Category:  Adult non-fiction, 283 pages
Genre:  Memoir / Travel Memoir
Publisher:  Booktrope
Release date:  January 2016
Tour dates:  February 29 to March 18, 2016
Content Rating:  PG

Book Description:

Innocents Abroad collide with La Dolce Vita when the author and her husband arrive in the ancient city of Rome fresh from the depths of Oregon. While the author endeavored to learn the folkways of the United Nations, her husband tangled with unfamiliar vegetables in a valiant effort to learn to cook Italian-style. In between, they attended weddings, enjoyed a close-up with the pope, tried their hands at grape harvesting, and savored country weekends where the ancient Etruscans still seemed to be lurking. Along the way they made many unforgettable friends including the countess with a butt-reducing machine and a count who served as a model for naked statues of horsemen in his youth.

But not everything was wine and wonders. Dogs in the doctor’s exam room, neighbors in the apartment in the middle of the night, an auto accident with the military police, a dangerous fall in the subway, too many interactions with an excitable landlord, snakes and unexploded bombs on a golf course, and a sinking sailboat, all added more seasoning to the spaghetti sauce of their life.

Their story begins with a month trying to sleep on a cold marble floor wondering why they came to Rome. It ends with a hopeful toss of coins in the Trevi Fountain to ensure their return to the Eternal City for visits. Ten years of pasta, vino, and the sweet life weren’t enough.

Part memoir, part travelogue, Coins in the Fountain will amuse and intrigue you with the stories of food, friends, and the adventures of a couple who ran away to join the circus (the Circus Maximus, that is).

Buy the book:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   iTunes   Amazon.UK

City of Illusions:   Amazon

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 Meet the author:

Life was routine until the author decided to get a law degree. Then a chance meeting led her to run away to the Circus (Maximus) – actually to the United Nations office next door – where she worked as an attorney in the HR department and entered the world of expat life in Rome.Her publishing credits include a memoir about ten years in Italy titled Coins in the Fountain, a novel about expats in Rome, City of Illusions, and flash fiction in literary magazines. She continues to travel in her spare time, having fitted in over 100 countries. And when she is in Rome, she always tosses a coin in the Trevi Fountain to ensure another visit.
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Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Facebook   Pinterest   Instagram  Blog

GUEST POST:

What three books would I want if I was stuck on a desert island?

Of course The Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare come to mind and I would not want to be without them, and I confess I’ve never read the entire text of either. Stuck alone on an island doesn’t sound good and I know I’d be taking plenty of breaks to scan the sky and sea for potential rescuers. But if there weren’t any in sight, I’d use the time to read and contemplate the genius of the words inscribed by unknown ancients and an obscure playwright about whom little is known. But when I’d finished the first two books, I’d want to turn to the third and modern work that I’d take with me to read on my island. (My luggage would be very heavy.)

And since this is a fantasy, I’m going to cheat and say the Neapolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante would be read as one book. I can do this because the four books follow the same two characters as they move through their childhood and adult lives on different paths. Ferrante’s novels, which take place in the last half of the 20th century, center on two women, their friendships, their loves and rivalries, all set against the turmoil of those years when feminism and political protest began to play a part in woman’s lives. And for me, a fan of all things Italian, I love that the stories take place in Naples, that city of sin and salvation, crime and beauty. But even if the stories were set elsewhere, I think the characters are not  prisoners of their time and space and speak to all contemporary women in the West, stuck on islands or not.

And another thing: my fantasy includes an easy chair and reading light along with the unlimited supply of coconuts for food and a palm tree for shade like in the cartoons. (I’ll use a scrap of dried seaweed for a bookmark.) Now, where is that island?

BOOK SPOTLIGHT TOUR SCHEDULE:

Feb 29 –     Words And Peace – guest post / giveaway
Feb 29 –     #redhead.with.book – guest post / giveaway
March 1 –   Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine – guest post
March 1 –   Notes From Verona – author interview
March 2 –   Working Mommy Journal – giveaway
March 2 –   Rockin’ Book Reviews – guest post / giveaway
March 3 –   Library of Clean Reads – giveaway
​March 3 –   Essentially Italian – giveaway
March 4 –   Heidi’s Wanderings – guest post
March 7 –   A Holland Reads – author interview / giveaway
March 7 –   Olio by Marilyn – author interview / giveaway
March 8 –   A Mama’s Corner of the World – guest post
March 9 –   Svetlana’s Reads and Views – author interview
March 10 – The Cheshire Cat’s Looking Glass – giveaway
March 11 – T’s Stuff – author interview / giveaway
March 14 – Ali – The Dragon Slayer – guest post / giveaway
March 15 – Corinne Rodrigues – author interview / giveaway
March 16 – 3 Partners in Shopping Nana, Mommy , + Sissy, Too ! – giveaway
March 17 – Deal Sharing Aunt – author interview / giveaway
March 18 – Tropical 7107 Islands – author interview

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Book review: Fleeing the Hijab, A Jewish Woman’s Escape from Iran by Sima Goel

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Book Details:

Book Title:  Fleeing the Hijab, A Jewish Woman’s Escape from Iran by Sima Goel
Category:  Adult non-fiction, 362 pages
Genre:  Memoir
Publisher:  Decarie Square Wellness Centre, Sima Goel
Release date:  March 2015
Available for review in:  ebook, (ePub or gifted Kindle)
Tour dates:  Dec 7 – 18, 2015
Content Rating:  PG-13 + M

Book Description:

A true account of Sima Goel, the Iranian teenager who crossed the most dangerous desert in the world rather than accept the restrictions of life in Iran of the early 1980s. Her quest for freedom is a thrilling, timely inspiration for people longing to create a life of meaning. It was the last straw!

The Ayatollah Khomeini had decreed that all women in Iran must wear the hijab, whether they were Muslim, Jewish, Christian, or Baha’i. Thirteen-year-old Sima had gone out into the streets of Shiraz to demonstrate for freedom under the Shah’s oppressive rule, and now that he had fled the country, this was the result: a new regime, and a much more repressive rule. The changes Khomeini’s regime forced on the population were totally incompatible with Sima’s ambitions and sense of personal freedom. Blacklisted by her school, unable to continue her studies, mourning the murders of innocent family members and friends, and forced to wear the hijab, she realized she had to leave her beloved birthplace and find a country where she could be free to follow her dreams.

Fleeing the Hijab is a vivid portrait of a dangerous journey made by two teenaged girls through the Iranian desert to Pakistan, where, as homeless refugees, they struggled desperately to find some way to escape to the West. It is a story that needs to be heard and remembered.

Buy the book:  Amazon   Barnes & Noble  Chapters/Indigo

Sima Goel author pic

Meet the author:   

Iranian-born Sima Goel has always had compassion for those who suffer. Her instinctive need to speak out against oppression ultimately resulted in unwanted attention from the authorities, which led her to flee her beloved Shiraz and eventually to Montreal.

Sima Goel is a self-made woman. Her journey to freedom, recounted in her memoir, Fleeing the Hijab, A Jewish Woman’s Escape from Iran, reflects her belief that, without freedom of choice, life is worthless. She is a strong advocate for the disenfranchised and the rights of all, specifically the rights of women. With the publication of her book, Sima has fulfilled the promise she once made to herself: to speak out and share her truth that freedom is the most precious commodity of all.

Wellness chiropractor, health advocate, inspiring author and an in-demand speaker, Dr. Goel considers her most important role to be that of mother to her two teenage boys, and wife to her beloved husband.

Connect with the author:   Website ~  Twitter ~  Facebook

REVIEW:
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What an incredible story!  Sima’s story draws you in right away as she develops the complex relationships within her family.  She describes what life is like for a Jewish family living in Iran, from the food and traditions and essentially what life was like for a child growing up in Iran during the time when the  Shah was in power.  Sima is a curious and somewhat headstrong child who loves school and exploring nature.  As the government flees and the Ayatollah Khomeini comes into power we see how people are forced to accept new restrictions under the threat and penalty of imprisonment and death.  Women are forced to wear the hijab and then the chador, something that Sima vehemently denounces.  Her outspokeness places her in danger and the events that follow will keep you on the edge of your seat.
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This was not only a memoir, it was a history lesson as well.  As I read the book, there were quite a few terms and expressions that I was not familiar with so I would go back and forth and do research in the internet for pictures and explanations.  For example, women only had one hand free when they wore the chador as they needed one hand to hold it in place, thus limiting their movements.
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What I noticed at the beginning of Sima’s book is the huge cast of characters and wondered how I was going to keep them all straight but the book was written in such a way that I understood who everyone was.  This was a real page turner and I found my heart racing as Sima recounted her story.
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I would highly recommend this book.  It is both interesting and filled with spine-tingling excitement!
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Enter the giveaway!

Book review: This is not a Love Story by Judy Brown

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  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (July 28, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316400726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316400725

A razor-sharp, hilarious, and poignant memoir about growing up in the closed world of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

The third of six children in a family that harks back to a gloried Hassidic dynasty, Judy Brown grew up with the legacy of centuries of religious teaching, and the faith and lore that sustained her people for generations.

But her carefully constructed world begins to crumble when her “crazy” brother Nachum returns home after a year in Israel living with relatives. Though supposedly “cured,” he is still prone to retreating into his own mind or erupting in wordless rages. The adults’ inability to make him better – or even to give his affliction a name – forces Judy to ask larger questions: If God could perform miracles for her sainted ancestors, why can’t He cure Nachum? And what of the other stories her family treasured?

Judy starts to negotiate with God, swinging from holy tenets to absurdly hilarious conclusions faster than a Talmudic scholar: she goes on a fast to nab coveted earrings; she fights with her siblings at the dinner table for the ultimate badge of honor (“Who will survive the next Holocaust?”); and she adamantly defends her family’s reputation when, scandalously, her parents are accused of having fallen in love—which is absolutely not what pious people do.

For all its brutal honesty about this insular community, This is Not a Love Story is ultimately a story of a family like so many others, whose fierce love for each other and devotion to their faith pulled them through the darkest time in their lives.

Buy the book:    Amazon   Barnes & Noble

judy2About the author:    Judy Brown (pen name, Eishes Chayil) was raised in a world of Chassidic schools, synagogues, and summer camps and is a direct descendant of some of the major founders and leaders in the Chassidic world. She received her MFA from Bar Ilan University in Israel, and has been a writer of both Jewish fiction and non-fiction for over 10 years. She lives in New York City with her three children.

In 2010 her novel “Hush” was published under the pseudonym Eishes Chayil. Written through the voice of a child, Hush tells the haunting story of sexual abuse and suicide within the cloistered enclave of the ultra-Orthodox community in Brooklyn. Due to the sensitive nature of the subject she chose to publish the book anonymously.

A year after the book was released, Judy revealed her identity as the author in an article for The Huffington Post.  Threats from within the community, and the murder of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky at the hands of another Orthodox Jew in Boro Park, sparked her disclosure. Judy’s distinctive background and experiences give her writing a unique voice worth listening to, one whose outrage never obscures her perspective or her humor.

Connect with the author:   Website   Facebook

REVIEW:

What immediately came to mind while reading this book is how similar it felt to another story – To Kill a Mockingbird.  Judy, as an eight year old, tries to explain why her brother is “crazy”.  She draws upon a wild imagination as well as teachings from her religious beliefs to try to come to terms with what is happening to her family because of her brother.

I was curious as to why the book was entitled “This is not a love story“. Falling in love with a future spouse was not considered acceptable in the Chassidic community and the author, as a child, constantly worried that this was the reason her family was cursed with a crazy brother.   She was worried that her father “liked” her mother too much, and that her mother “liked” her son (the author’s brother) too much as she was unwilling to send him to an institution.  The concept of love was foreign to her. However, as the story progresses, we see how much love this family truly had toward each other as they struggled to care for each other, especially when things come to a climax when her brother becomes uncontrollable.

I waited a long time before I could read this book and once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down.  The storytelling was colourful and I really felt like I was in the head of an eight year old.  This little memoir continues on for several years and as Judy grows up she learns the true meaning of love and no longer feels threatened by it.

I highly recommend this fascinating book.

Book spotlight: 1969 and Then Some by Robert Wintner

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Book Details:

Book Title: 1969 and Then Some by Robert Wintner
Category:  Adult non-fiction,  215 pages
Publisher:  Yucca Publishing
Genre:  Memoir
Release date:  February 2015
Available for review in:  print, mobi (for Kindle), audiobook
Will send books:  USA & Canada
Tour dates:  Nov 9 – 27, 2015
Content Rating: PG-13

Book Description:

1969 & Then Some is a memoir of the 60s and the influence of those years over the decades that followed. Romance, psychedelic insight and motorcycling evolve with the narrator maturity, such as it is, and non-compromise on morality and the undying spirit of adventure in nature.

While the 60s is often discounted or as ephemeral—as a social aberration—1969 & Then Some offers keen insight to lingering values that cannot be separated from significant segments of the most significant population group alive today, the baby boomers, many of whom still hold sway in key areas of social and cultural evolution.

Buy the book here:   Amazon

Robert Wintner author pic

Meet the author:

Robert Wintner lives and works on Maui with his wife Anita, seven cats and Cookie the dog, who came in emaciated at 14 pounds, unable to stand. Cookie at 60 pounds raises a ruckus on the beach or in the living room in her continuing drive to make the world a happier place. The entire family eats well, stays fit and enjoys good health under blue skies.

Connect with the author:    Website    Facebook

Tour Schedule:

Nov 9 –   #redhead.with.book – review of Brainstorm / giveaway
Nov 10 – Kimberly’s Bookshelf – review of 1969 and Then Some
Nov 11 – Dab of Darkness – audiobook review of Brainstorm / author interview / giveaway
Nov 12 – Olio By Marilyn – review of Brainstorm
Nov 12 – Library of Clean Reads – review of Brainstorm / giveaway
Nov 13 – The World As I See It – review of Brainstorm
Nov 16 – Worth Getting in Bed For – review of Brainstorm / giveaway
Nov 17 – Dab of Darkness – review of 1969 and Then Some / giveaway
Nov 18 – Room With Books – review of Brainstorm / giveaway
Nov 19 – #redhead.with book – book spotlight of 1969 and Then Some / giveaway
Nov 19 – Deal Sharing Aunt – review of 1969 and Then Some / giveaway
Nov 20 – Worth Getting in Bed For –  review of 1969 and Then Some
Nov 20 – The Avid Readers Blog – review of Brainstorm / author interview
Nov 23 – Olio By Marilyn – review of 1969 and Then Some
Nov 24 – Deal Sharing Aunt – review of Brainstorm / giveaway
Nov 24 – Amazon Reviewer – Review of Brainstorm
Nov 25 – Room With Books – review of 1969 and Then Some / giveaway
Nov 25 – Maddie & Books – audiobook review of Brainstorm / giveaway
Nov 26 – Essentially Italian – review of 1969 and Then Some / giveaway

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