Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Rick Mercer Talking to Canadians Book Review

Rick Mercer Talking to Canadians A Memoir is a fun read for anyone who appreciates Mercer's comedic genius.

Rick Mercer's autobiographical book appeared under many a Christmas tree in 2021. I myself gifted it to a number of family members after watching a program on which the 
Ottawa International Writers Festival featured Canadian journalist Linden MacIntyre interviewing Mercer and reviewing Mercer's life so far as depicted between the covers of this book. 

For those who might not know, Rick Mercer is a Canadian celebrity. He is a comedian who had great success on television on shows that included This Hour Has 22 MinutesMade in Canada, Talking to Americans and his biggest success and the program with which my family was most familiar, the Rick Mercer Report. When he eventually ended the Rick Mercer Report after 15 seasons, a question arose. What was Rick Mercer going to do now? 

The answer? He went back to stand up comedy, performing to packed shows wherever he went. That is, until the pandemic arrived. 

CELEBRITY REVIEWS


Mercer had to pivot again and this time his pivot found him writing this book, Rick Mercer Talking to Canadians: A Memoir. For once, Mercer was talking about his own life instead of about the lives of others.  It is an interesting tale, telling the story of his development from that of an unsuccessful student to that of a very successful comedian. 

On Twitter, Canadian author Margaret Atwood, said that the book is a "funny, pitfall-strewn, no-holds-barred memoir from the ranting TV uproarist, edge-walker, envelope-pusher and pot-stirrer who once talked me (Atwood) into impersonating a goalie!" On the Rick Mercer Report, Mercer talked many people into doing things out of their comfort zone.

Policy Magazine called the book "alternately funny, moving and always heartfelt." Touché!

Jann Arden, another Canadian comedian and songwriter, endorsed the book when she said "I laughed so much reading this, I kept waking up my dog in bed. Rick is a determined writer - he never stops pulling you into his stories and he never stops looking for the punchlines in everyday life. He made me realize how funny ordinary things are, how funny and how incredibly interesting. It's heartfelt and honest and generous and edgy - just like Mercer himself. Read it! It's fabulous!" I agree.

My only quibble with the book is that it isn't finished but then again, Mercer isn't finished. Who knows what the next book will have to share.

WHO SHOULD READ RICK MERCER'S MEMOIR? 


For one, anyone who is familiar with Mercer's television programs and comedic abilities will love this book. If you know his work, you will particularly enjoy learning about his background. If you enjoy true stories and autobiographies you will likely enjoy this book. If you have a Canadian connection in particular with Newfoundland and Labrador, you will enjoy it. It is an easy to read, funny book and I do find funny books hard to come by.  They say that writing humor is difficult. Obviously, Rick Mercer does not have that problem. Apparently, the audiobook is particularly enjoyable because Mercer himself reads it. With the audiobook, you will not only 'hear' his way of speaking in the words on the written page but you will literally hear them. Find your copy Rick Mercer's Talking to Canadians of the book on Amazon here

See you
at the book store!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

MORE READING:






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Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers Book Review

Written with humor, Mary Roach's Stiff is an interesting look at the uses of human cadavers past, present and future.

Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers is not for everyone. This book, a non-fiction look into the uses of human cadavers past, present and future, was different than my typical read and will likely be for yours, too. Our book club reviewed it and for some, the subject matter was simply too uncomfortable during a difficult time or even at any time. For others, like myself, it was an interesting endeavor.

The official book description says that the book touches on morality, ethics and spirituality and it does but it is really a look at the science of the uses of the cadaver. With chapter titles like A Head is a Terrible Thing to Waste, Crimes of Anatomy and Life After Death you will learn about surgery performed on the dead, body snatching, human dissection and human decay. You will learn about how the human body has been used to test France's guillotines, how it has been a guest on NASA space shuttles, how it has helped uncover causes of airplane crashes, how it has improved automobile safety and, of course, much more.

Mary Roach's Stiff shares the science of how the human cadaver has been used in the past, present and future. Sometimes gross, sometimes funny, always very interesting.

On the back of the book, Entertainment Weekly calls Stiff  "gross, educational and unexpectedly sidesplitting." I agree. Mostly. This book is at times unnerving, always teaching and told with a great deal of humor though the subject matter keeps it from being exactly what I would call "unexpectedly sidesplitting. I guess it delivers the science in a slightly dark but humorous way.

Morbid Monday calls it a "one-stop book for everything you ever wanted to know - or never wanted to know - about dead bodies." Touché!  There is a lot to think about here. I did find the book tough going at times but I also found it very interesting. I knew nothing about the actual scientific process that allows doctors to transfer organs from a dead body to that of an organ recipient. Do you? If not, you should read this book. The introduction is quite funny, the first chapter is tough but tough it out and see if you find the overall subject interesting if perhaps also "gross."

I recommend this book if you are looking for something outside of your usual fare, if you want to expand your reading subject matter and if you are willing to push you way through some unpleasantness though of course, you could skip any chapters that really disturb you. Each chapter stands alone.

Will you donate your body to science? Should you? Definitely something to think about and Stiff will definitely leave you thinking. Not everyone in my book club read it or cared for it but some like myself did find it quite interesting. If you think you might be one of them, you can find your copy of Stiff here on Amazon.

See you
at the bookstore! 
Brenda 

More Book Reviews:

A list of award winning movie-themed books for your Kindle.

Visit 1970s Walt Disney World via this book of information, pictures and illustrations from the park.

The story of retiree who went looking for something active to do. Eventually she found track and field and went on to became a 90-something year old super star.

Visit St. Petersburg, Russia, via this action-packed Steve Berry book.

How you can sustain wildlife with native plants.

A mother and son's journey from a world gone gray.


Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, A Book Review







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Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Christmas Word Search Book - A New Release


In the October 10th, 2021 article "What to Write in a Birthday Card," I mentioned a new expansion into another area of activity books - Yep, it's Word Search Books.

Since October 2019, my journey into the self-publishing world has been, shall we say, intense. I'm not going to pretend that self-publishing is easy; however, the more research you do and the more books you publish, the easier it gets.

Why Word Search Books?

I've been writing riddles and publishing them in books since 2019 and recently decided that it's time to expand out into another type of activity book. 

The reason for expanding my self-publishing horizons is to have enough topics to reach the initial goal of 100 books published. There's a long way to go! The Christmas Word Search book puts my current publishing total at 11 books.

Another reason for expanding into word search books is that I was looking for fun, activity-driven books. Given the world's never-ending problems, I want to continue contributing to the "light, love, and learning" side of life.

What's The Christmas Word Search Book About?

It's precisely what it states; word search puzzles about Christmas. It's been written with the entire family in mind and is good clean fun for adults and kids. I would say kids over eight years old could tackle some of these puzzles. 

  • Features one puzzle per page
  • Each puzzle covers a separate Christmas related topic
  • The puzzles are large and easy to read
  • Moderately easy for both kids and adults
  • The answers are included at the back
  • There are 60 puzzles in the book
  • There are over 1800 words to find
  • It's available on Amazon

Here's a look at the interior:




More on The Christmas Word Search Book here - Note that it's a gift under $5(us)





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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Reviewing Her Last Breath by Hilary Davidson

Today I'm going to review a book that is set for release on 1st July 2021 which I was able to read prior to release as part of the First Reads for Amazon Prime Readers

Her Last Breath by Hilary Davidson Reviewed


One of the things that made me choose this book to read was in the blurb about it, "On the day of her sister Caroline’s funeral, Deirdre Crawley receives a message her sister wrote before she died: If you’re reading this, I’m already dead." That hook was irresistible for me so I downloaded the book and settled down for what I hoped would be a great read, I have to say I have very mixed feelings about this book. 

I have never heard of the author before so I had no expectations. I actually read the book in one sitting and two of the things I loved about the book were the plot and the way that the pandemic was handled. I mention the pandemic because the book was based in NY and it's the first book I've read where it's even mentioned - it has been done so in a way that is easy to miss, but to me added another dimension and makes me surprised at the biggest failing this book has. 

As I said the plot was great and I would recommend reading it just because I did enjoy the plot, but the characters were another story. They seemed very one-dimensional. Even with a character that wasn't very fleshed out, there were a few things that Diedre said that just didn't seem in line with other things. 

I, personally, think one of the best characters in the book was Theo, the person who Diedre's sister claimed had killed her. If this book was a first draft I would have given it really high marks, but as a completed book it's disappointing. 

I don't usually like to write book reviews that I have mixed feelings about, but this author shows amazing talent. I see so many glimpses in this book that tell me she can write and I truly believe that she could have made these characters more real to me. 

If you like suspenseful thrillers do I still think you'd enjoy the plot lines of this book, but if you are more into sinking your teeth into the characters then you may want to pass. I will definitely be happy to read this author again though as I did see a lot of promise in the pages. 

I should clarify it's not that I disliked the characters, I reviewed a book called Girls Night Out where I really didn't like the characters, but they definitely seemed real to me. In this particular book it's that I couldn't envisage these characters as being real. When I read a book I can almost see things happening in my mind like I'm watching a movie - this time the characters wouldn't appear clearly for me.




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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Story of Walt Disney World Book Review

The Story of Walt Disney World: A book review of the 1971 souvenir book, which features pictures, information and illustrations of the park when it first opened.

Walt Disney World enthusiasts are always wanting to learn more about one of the world's most famous destinations.  This book, The Story of Walt Disney World, is a big square paperback book with 50 pages of information, lots of photographs and even a few colorful illustrations from the park. The first page has the date of October 25, 1971. I believe it was probably released as a souvenir to celebrate the opening of the theme park, which occurred on October 1, 1971.

The first page includes a dedication taken from the plaque in Town Square on Main Street at Walt Disney World by Roy Disney O. Disney that reads, "Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney...and to the talents, the dedication and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney's dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring Joy and Inspiration and New Knowledge to all who come to this happy place...a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn together."  If you have experienced the park, you know that Disney delivered on those promises. Millions and millions of people have visited, enjoyed and created many fond memories of time spent at the park. 

This vintage book offers a look at what the park offered and looked like when it first opened and even includes a map from the year 1971. A lot has changed since then! 

The Story of Walt Disney World would make a wonderful gift idea for those who have fond memories of visiting the park in the past or for those who are interested in the history of the park. You will find The Story of Walt Disney World on eBay by clicking right here.

See you
on eBay!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

More Disney:

Grab a sketch-themed 20th Anniversary Toy Story coffee mug.

The Story of Walt Disney World: Discover things about the park when it was first opened!




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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Homeplace Saga Books Reviewed


The Homeplace Saga Books Reviewed

Author William Leverne Smith has Integrated his deep passion for genealogy study and family history into the Homeplace Saga series of books. He has created this fictional community and brings the characters to life in this four-book series.

Back to the Homeplace

Murder by the Homeplace

The Homeplace Revisited

Christmas at the Homeplace

Back to the Homeplace

The book begins in February of 1987, just after Mildred Bevins has passed away. The funeral and the unusual terms of the will of Frank and Mildred Bevins bring all four children and their families back to the family farm, The Homeplace.

The farm is located in Oak Springs Missouri in the Ozark Mountains and has been in the family for over 150 years. Bart Bevins is especially concerned about the terms of the will, as he is the only one who stayed in Oak Springs to run the family farm. 

You will meet and come to know each member of the Bevins family. Learn about their different backgrounds, their family secrets, and see how each of them struggles to hold onto their share of the family legacy. All while dealing with their own family secrets and problems.


Murder by the Homeplace

This is a short story that begins one week after the end of “Back to the Homeplace” A body is found on the Bevins property. This brings some of the secondary characters from the first novel to the main characters in this short story.  Introducing Penny Nixon a part-time reporter for the local newspaper. Penny springs into action and begins a series of interviews hoping for a story when the body is found. Penny is warned by her father who is also the editor of the newspaper to keep it to a human-interest story and do not get too involved. You will see how dangerously close that she comes to interviewing the real killer.


The Homeplace Revisited

The family saga continues, now in 1996 nine years later. The family has survived so much conflict, but there is more to come. 

Learn how the grandchildren of Frank and Mildred Bevins carry on, side by side with their parents to run the family business now known as the“The Bevins Trust”.

 How they continue the family legacy and continue to build Oak Springs into a thriving small community of family and friends. 

Christmas at the Homeplace

Continued in 1996 Karen (Bevins) Winslow the oldest daughter of Frank and Mildred is expecting all of her children to return home to Oak Springs for Christmas. Will they all make it? Find out, along with some other surprises that may change the inner workings of the family business “The Bevins Trust”. This one was special to me, as I finished reading it on Christmas Eve.

For me, these four books were a wonderful read, as I have a big family myself. Oak Springs and the characters in these books were so real to me; it was like I lived there and knew every one of them.

This series of books takes you on a journey with the Bevins family,  starting in February of 1987 and ending in December of 1996.

The author places news blurbs at the beginning of every chapter. I enjoyed reading what was in the news on that day. So the reader has a little history lesson.

A quote from the author William Leverne Smith: “May everyone have a homeplace, if only in your mind.”

Find more Book Reviews here: ReviewThisBooks.com




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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Canada Reads Book List 2021

Canada Reads Book List 2021

Every year Canada's Broadcasting Corporation or CBC as it is more commonly known, releases a short list of five Canadian books. It's a battle of the books competition in which the five books are brought forward by five Canadian celebrities and in March they come together over five days to debate the merits of the books eliminating one each day. On the final day, a winner is proclaimed the book that we should all read. 

I thought I would give you a brief review of the Canada Reads program and the books that were nominated this year. It was interesting to learn a bit about each of the books and consider adding them to my reading list. Obviously since I have not read them, I cannot personally vouch for them though I can give you a brief description, share the official Canada Reads book trailers, and, at the end, tell you the name of this year's winner.  I might help to know that these books have often been nominated for other literary awards.

Here we go, the nominated books for 2021 under the theme 'One Book to Transport Us'.


BUTTER HONEY PIG BREAD BY FRANCESCA EKWUYASI 

Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

Butter Honey Pig Bread transports the reader from Lagos to London to Halifax. It is the story of three generations of women from Nigeria, a mother and her estranged twin daughters. The mother "believes that she is an Ogbanje, or an Abiku, a non-human spirit that plagues a family with misfortune by being born and then dying in childhood to cause a human mother misery. She has made the unnatural choice of staying alive to love her human family but lives in fear of the consequences of her decision." This book is about food and family and forgiveness, about choices and consequences, and about friendship and faith. 

Rated 4.3 out of 5 by Amazon readers and 4.4 out of 5 by Goodreads readers. 

Writing on The Suburban author Meredith says that this book "ended up being her personal favourite to win the 2021 competition. It was a book that she simply didn’t want to put down and a story that she didn’t want to end."

Here's the official Canada Reads book trailer:




TWO TREES MAKE A FOREST: IN SEARCH OF MY FAMILY'S PAST AMONG TAIWAN'S MOUNTAINS AND COASTS 

Two Trees Make a Forest: In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts

Two Trees Make a Forest transports the reader to Taiwan and is a book about memory, love, and landscape, about finding a home, about the distance between people and places and how they meet. 

The author uncovers letters written by her immigrant grandfather that take her from Canada to her ancestral home in Taiwan where she searches for her grandfather's story while learning about the land that he grew up on. She hikes and bikes and swims. She learns about the mountains and the flatlands, the flora and the fauna. She discovers the similarities between natural stories and human stories that created her family and this island. The book is about the world of nature but it also looks at the colonial exploration of Taiwan. It "encompasses history, travel, nature, and memoir."

Rated 4.1 out of 5 by Amazon readers and 3.6 out of 5 by Goodreads readers.

The reviewer on Bomb says, that this book is "A remarkable exercise in careful attention, be it to the nuances of language, the turns of colonial history, or a grandfather’s difficult-to-read handwriting, Two Trees Makes A Forest is a moving treatise on how to look closely and see truthfully, even as the fog rolls in."

Here's the official Canada Reads book trailer:




THE MIDNIGHT BARGAIN BY C.L. POLK

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

The Midnight Bargain transports the reader to Regency England. It is a fantasy novel set in a world that looks like Regency England where women must give up their ability to perform magic when they get married. Obviously, this means that you have something else to think about when you are a mighty sorceress and aspire to be the best female magician. In this book the main character wants to be come a full Magus and continue pursuing magic like men do but her family needs her to be a debutante during Bargaining Season and marry to save them financially. She finds the key to becoming a Magus but it is twisted up with the brother of a handsome, compassionate, wealthy man. The question becomes, will she become a Magus and ruin her family or will she marry the man she loves and give up her magic and identity? 

Rated 4.3 out of 5 by Amazon readers and 4.2 out of 5 by Goodreads readers.

Colleen Mondor on Locus says, "The witty exchanges are indeed sparkling and the verbal cuts are of the sharpest varieties. Polk is so clearly in her element that readers will be carried away by the sheer radiance of her smartly crafted prose and, like me, sorely miss Beatrice when they make that final and satisfying turn of the page."

Here's the official Canada Reads trailer for The Midnight Bargain:




HENCH BY NATALIE ZINA WALSCHOTS 

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

Hench transports the reader to the world of superheroes and villains. As a young woman working as a temporary office employee, she finds a great job as a hench. Howver, things go wrong, the hero leaves her injured and she gets laid off. Using her internet prowess, she finds out that what happened to her is not unique and when she shares her story, she no longer feels powerless. She discovers that the differences between good and evil may boil down to marketing, which she knows how to manipulate. When she is once again employed, albeit this time to one of the worst villains out there, she discovers she could save the world. 

This book is a novel of love and betrayal and revenge and redemption. It is a look at the cost of justice via "a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror, and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics." 

The readers on Amazon gave this book a 4.5 out of 5 and the readers at Goodreads gave it a 4.15 out of 5.

In the promotional information about the book, Seanan McGuire says "Hench is fast, furious, compelling and angry as hell." On NPR, Jessica P. Wick says, "Although the author tackles serious issues like how women are treated in the workplace, or how friendships might splinter under the weight of fear, Hench is steeped in the glorious campiness of Golden and Silver Age superheroes. There are lava guns! Mind control devices! Costumes! Lairs! Supercars! Awe! Names like Doc Proton, the Accelerator, the Tidal Four, Electric Eel, the Cassowary, the Auditor. It's fun. It's emotional. It feels like a friend. But it's not comforting. I think it might be terribly honest, and I honestly can't wait to see what Natalie Zina Walschots does next with the genre."

Here's the official book trailer for Hench:




JOHNNY APPLESEED BY JOSHUA WHITEHEAD 


Johnny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead

Johnny Appleseed takes us to the world of an Indian glitter princess. Our main character is trying to forge a life off of the reserve in the big city and becomes a cybersex worker in order to survive. He has to go back to the 'rez' and his former world for the funeral of his stepfather. What follows are seven days. Seven days full of stories that include "love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition and heartbreaking recollection of his beloved grandmother." As he readies to return home, he figures out how to put together his life in this look at "First Nations life which is full of grit, glitter, and dreams."

Amazon reviewers give Johnny Appleseed a 4.3 out of 5 and reviewers on Goodreads, a 4.1 out of 5.

The Globe and Mail says, "Despite its often serious subject matter, Jonny Appleseed is a very funny book, in the same way that Indigenous people themselves are often very funny despite our traumas. In that way, reading this book felt to me like home. Every line felt like being back on Six Nations, laughing with my family, even though I was in my apartment in Brantford. With its fluid structure and timelines, Jonny Appleseed creates a dream-like reading experience – and with a narrator as wise, funny and loveable as Jonny, it’s the sort of dream you don’t want to wake up from."

Here's the official book trailer for Johnny Appleseed:




AND THE WINNER IS...


After five sessions of debate that you can watch on CBC by clicking right here, the panel voted Johnny Appleseed as the winner. In my mind, though I have yet to read any of these books and they may not all appeal to everyone, these books are all winners in their own ways.  

Here is the highlights reel from the five debates. It gives a further insight into each of the books, into the passion behind the individual presenting the book and into the varied and interesting stories written within.



That's it. The 2021 Canada Reads book list. There are a bunch of books here that I would never have picked randomly but some of the storylines and some of the reviews from other individuals have left me thinking that I might read them. How about you? Are there any books on this list that you find intriguing? Any that you have read?

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

QUICK LINKS:



CBC's Canada Reads Book List 2021






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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Her Silent Knight (Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair Book 1) Reviewed

Her Silent Knight Book
Did you know that it is recorded that the Thames River has frozen over 24 times?  Seven of those times, the ice was solid enough that they held a Frost Fair in London.  

The celebrated Frost Fair of 1683-84 featured multiple activities including horse races, football, bowling, ice skating, sledding and more. Vendor booths were set up to sell souvenirs, food and refreshments. Londoner's clearly knew how to quickly make a rare occurrence into a fun festival for all.  

In 1814 (the last Frost Fair), an elephant was led across the ice. Reminiscent of previous frost fairs, there was dancing, ice skating and of course, vendors.  It lasted only 4 days before the ice broke up and several people drowned.

The very real historical Frost Fair of 1814 is the setting of the entire "Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair" series.  This series provides a wonderful look back into history, as well as some really awesome romantic stories. 

First in the series is "Her Silent Knight". It was such a captivating book, that I read it in one night.  Yes, it was nearly 4 am before I went to sleep, but it was worth it!  I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet story.


Her Silent Knight Synopsis

 Her Silent Knight: A Christmas Regency Romance (Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair Book 1)Check PriceSelina Ellis becomes secretly engaged to Noah Skinner, a solicitor who is below her social status. Mr. Skinner would never be considered an acceptable suitor for Selina, especially by her own mother.  But, Selina doesn't care!  She believes she is in love with Mr. Skinner and when he proposes marriage at the Frost Fair, Selina agrees to marry him, even if it means they would be required to elope.  

The couples embrace is witnessed by a childhood friend that Selina hasn't seen in years. When Sir Edmund Sharp recognizes the two people hugging each other, he knows he must find a way to save Selina from the man with a scandalous reputation.  She is young, naive, and clearly unaware of Mr. Skinner's "manipulations". What Sir Edmund cannot immediately figure out is why Mr. Skinner would pursue a lady with no inheritance. Upon her father's death, their home and money was entailed to a distant relative since Mr. Ellis has no sons.  That left Selina and her mother living on a meager stipend.

Sir Edmund agrees to keep Selina's secret if she will make sure he is invited to spend the Christmastide (the 12 days of Christmas) in her home. The request makes sense because his grandmother recently died and he has no other family in London. Selina's mother had always adored Edmund, plus she saw him as the perfect suitor for Selina. Therefore, securing an invitation for Christmastide was not difficult at all.

Now, Sir Edmund only has to figure out how to separate Selina from Mr. Skinner.  That won't be as easy as Sir Edmund had originally thought since Mr. Skinner has possession of Edmund's grandmothers will. Skinner is willing to do whatever is necessary to keep Sir Edmund from interfering in his relationship with Selina.




 

"Her Silent Knight" is a sweet story of love, chivalry, and childhood loyalties embedded in an enchanting historical fiction, set in the fantastic short-lived Frost Fair on the Thames River in London.  It is the first book in the Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair series shown below.

All but one of these authors are new to me.  I love that when it happens in a co-op series!

 

 Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair (5 Book Series)Check Price



House of Sylvestermouse




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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

James Patterson's The Christmas Mystery Book Review and Book List

James Patterson The Christmas Mystery Book Review

Christmas 2020 was not going to be the best Christmas ever and so I went looking for a Christmas-themed book that wasn't romantic in nature or particularly Hallmark in style though don't get me wrong, I enjoy Hallmark Christmas movies. A little bit of romance would have been okay but that should not be central to the story.

I wound up searching for some of my favorite writers, looking to see if they had written any Christmas stories but striving to avoid jumping into the middle of an established series. I found a few when I searched for James Patterson. Five to be exact and here is the list:

THE CHRISTMAS WEDDING


First, there was The Christmas Wedding by Patterson and Richard DiLallo. It was suitably Christmas-y but seemed at first glance to be way too romantic to meet my needs at the moment. I would, however, like to read it some day.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, ALEX CROSS


Second up was Merry Christmas, Alex Cross, which sounds good. However, it is number 19 in a series of 28 books featuring Detective Alex Cross. I have read some of that series and am reminded to go back and read more but picking up number 19 because it was Christmas in theme would have been, at least in my mind, wrong.

THE 19TH CHRISTMAS


Third was the 19th Christmas by Patterson and Maxine Paetro. It is book 19 of a 21 book series featuring the Women's Murder Club. I'd love to read the series sometime so starting with book 19, even if it is a Christmas story, would have been as I said a moment ago, wrong.

THE CANDIES SAVE CHRISTMAS


Fourth and really an outlier was The Candies Save Christmas. It was definitely not what I was looking for though the idea of the book actually made me smile. It sounds like an sweet book though one aimed at a slightly different age group than I represent. "No sugar, no fat. C’mon, take a look! The best Candies ever . . . Candies in a book!" In a children's board book that premise seems somewhat adult but in any case it was not what I was looking for.

THE CHRISTMAS MYSTERY


Finally, I stumbled on The Christmas Mystery: A Detective Luc Moncrief Mystery by Patterson and Richard DiLallo. It turned out to be a part of a series, too, but this time it is the middle of a three story series of short novels or 'bookshots' as Patterson calls them.

Since I was having a bit of a time finding a Christmas-themed book that appealed to me, I decided that a bookshot, which is intended to be devoured in a few hours and supposed to be un-put-downable, was what I was going to read. So I did.

Within the pages of The Christmas Mystery, I was introduced to Detective Luc Moncrief. Moncrief is from France but is solving crime in New York City, which is a bonus for me. I visited New York City last year and loved it. Revisiting the city through a book, a puzzle or a movie is a fun outing of sorts in this time of staying home and staying safe. 

In the first section of this book, Detective Moncrief and his partner hunt for art thieves who have stolen priceless pieces of art on Park Avenue. The second section takes them to France providing yet another chance for the reader to partake in some armchair travel. The cases in this 160-page book are simpler than you would find in a full-fledged crime novel and were solved fairly easily. 

James Patterson Christmas Mystery Book Review List

WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?


The Christmas Mystery was far, far from James Patterson's best work and the reviews on Amazon are lukewarm. It was a simple, easy read with a hint of Christmas, lots of shopping and some humor.  It was not as exciting or as well developed as a full novel but I think that should be expected of a shorter book. The book suited my needs at the moment and I would recommend it for someone looking for exactly that - a simple story that they could breeze through fairly quickly. 

Find your copy of all three of the Detective Luc Moncrief bookshots on Amazon by clicking right here. You will find all three from the series available individually or as a set and yes, they are available in your favorite format be that paperback, Kindle or audiobook.

What Christmas books are you cozying up with this year?

See you at 
the book store!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

P.S. The next book I picked up was Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan. It was totally a love story though I did not see that coming. I was hooked by the promise of yet another book set in New York City and missed that the pages were going to be filled with romance. It was good with a lot of humor and lots of tension, including sexual suspense and eventually actual sex between the two main characters. Learn more about Miracle on 5th Avenue on Amazon by clicking here.

More James Patterson Reading:

James Patterson's The Golf Trilogy Reviewed.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Sunday, November 8, 2020

Basic Tips I Learned on My Self-Publishing Journey

Self-Publishing Tips for Newbies

Let me start by saying that I'm NOT a self-publishing guru. I'm just a work-from-home-self-taught woman who decided to jump in and tackle some of those dreams left dying on the table.

I've written quite a bit here on ReviewThisReviews about self-publishing books. You'll find a list of the links below.

To date, I've self-published eight books and am currently writing the ninth. 

The topic of the books are Riddles, Poetry, and Sayings for Cards. Currently, I'm focussed on building a series of Riddle Books. There are five riddle books in the series and the sixth should be published in one to two months.

A General Overview of What to Do When You Self-Publish (According to my Personal Journey)


Note: To date, I've only published via Amazon's KDP self-publishing platform

  • Amazon Author Page: Once you've published your book, complete a detailed page about yourself on Amazon's Author Central Page. Here's Amazon's author central page for the USA. When publishing my books, I had to create author central pages for the UK and USA separately. Perhaps, Amazon will amalgamate things at some point, so we only have to do it once. Here's the UK author central page in case you need it.

  • Amazon Author Page Photo: Decide whether your Author Central page will feature a Logo or your personal photo. At first, I put up my logo but changed it to my personal photo. I prefer to emphasize that I'm just a regular person, not a 'big company.' 

  • Build a Website that Relates to Your Books: If you've never built a website or can't, you can hire someone or just build a blog related to your books. I've built websites (I'm not a website building guru either!), so I was able to create a website to coincide with my Riddle Books. You can take a look at my StumpedRiddles.com website here. Think about how you want people to navigate your site before you build it; write it out, give it a lot of thought. The ease at which people can work their way through your website is important. The top navigation bar on my riddles website features these tabs: Home, Riddles, Answers, Riddle Books, About/Contact. Within those headings are subheadings. Don't forget to include all the legal jargon you need on the site.

  • Facebook Business Page: Build a business Facebook page that features a Shop with your books. It takes a little learning, and you need a certain amount of products before you can build a shop. I chose to link my books back to each of their product pages on my website; that way, when you publish your book on multiple platforms (not just Amazon), you don't have to worry about changing links - since each product/book will direct back to your own product page on your own site.

  • Social Media Main Photo & URL Names: Create social media pages for your business/books. Decide whether you want to use your logo or your personal photo. I decided to use my Riddles logo for my social media pages, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. However, I created a Promo-Video and included that video at or near the top of each social media site: It features my personal photo and personal story. You'll have to choose your social media URL based on what's available; I wasn't able to get "Riddles" - it was taken. However, I choose URL's that were close: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

  • Promo-Video: Create your promo video using your favorite video platform. I used Animoto. If your book/business dictates it, I would suggest being personal while describing your books' purpose. You can take a look at the promo video I created here.

  • Your Tag Line and Book Purpose: If you're able to establish a "purpose" for your books, create a consistent tag-line that describes your purpose and includes that tag line on your social media, website, and books. The tag-line I came up with is "Turn the World Off With a Smile." It's a twisted variation of a lyric line in the Mary Tyler Moore theme song. I know, I'm aging myself! That lyric was "she can turn the world on with her smile." Given the craziness of the world today, I decided my riddles are created for the distinct purpose of helping people to "turn the world OFF with a smile."
Here are some additional articles I've written relating to self-publishing - Again, I'm not a guru, just learning as I go!

As I learn more, I'll add more articles here on ReviewThisReviews. My next learning journey will be how to self-publish on platforms other than Amazon. That should be challenging.

Here's the first riddle book I created - I went through several cover designs before finally deciding on this one:

#StumpedRiddles - Riddle Book
#Stumped - Riddle Book - First Volume






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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Heather Morris' Cilka's Journey, A Book Review

Heather Morris' Cilka's Journey, A Book Review

Following the very successful novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz, comes Heather Morris' 2019 book, Cilka's Journey. Yes, it is a sequel of sorts to the first book though it definitely stands alone. 

Frankly, this book is another dark look into a horrible time in man's history. That's to be expected based on the subject of the novel. Initially, I did not care for how the story flipped back and forth between the main character's time in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in Germany and in her time in the Vorkuta Gulag Labor Camp in Russia but I quickly managed to overcome the darkness and the style and be absorbed by the very real characters in the story.

Cilka was sent to Birkenau when she was taken from her home at the age of 16 simply because she was Jewish and young and healthy and able to work. When Birkenau was liberated, she was tried and sent to the Siberian labor camp for having slept with the enemy. For her crime, she received a sentence of 15 years of hard labor. 

Whether the beautiful 16 year old really had any choice about whether to sleep with the enemy or not is debatable but the book is about her journey through and survival of both facilities. I don't need to say how unpleasant that situation was and I will not reveal how it ended.  Here's the official book trailer:


 


This second video is from the author and discusses albeit briefly the connection between this book and her first, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. 

Warning, this next video has LOTS OF SPOILERS but it does do a good job of telling you about the story.



FICTION OR NON-FICTION?

If you watched the preceding video, you know the answer to this question. Cilka's Journey is a fictional account of the true-life story of Cecília Kováčová. 

Of course, the story is filled out with details the author cannot really know but in large part it is said that the book is based on the conditions and situations people including Cilka found themselves living in at those two facilities. 

Descendants, however, declare the story to be outrageous calling it "lurid and titillating." They say that this is not the way Cilka shared her story to them.

The author defends the book saying that it is based on first-hand testimony given by people she interviewed and the experiences of women who were subjected to the life in those camps. She says, "It is a novel and does not represent the entire facts of Cilka's life." You can read more about the controversy here on The Guardian

In another interview with ABC, the author defends the disputed fact that women were used sexually in the camps and sums up with, "If it's all the same to you I think I'll go with their testimonies because they were there."


Heather Morris' Cilka's Journey Book Review


IS IT RECOMMENDED?

Yes, this book is HIGHLY RECOMMEND by me. The book has an average 4.39 stars on Goodreads and 92 percent of the reviewers on Amazon gave the book a five-star rating.

WARNINGS

Well, I feel that writing a warning about the unpleasant reading that comes in a book set in Nazi Germany and a Siberian Labor Camp in the 1940s is almost unnecessary I will say that this book deals with sex, starvation, murder.  The main character's work in the Labor Camp finds the reader face to face with terrible workplace accidents. It is definitely not nice but it is present and it is an intricate part of the story.  Plus, of course, there is the controversy of just how true this story really is.

WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK

Anyone who has an interest in historical fiction will enjoy the book, with consideration to the warnings given above. Anyone who read The Tattooist of Auschwitz and liked it will enjoy this book. As author Heather Morris says in the second video shown above, you should enjoy this book "not for the horror and evil that is included but for the humanity and the compassion and the love and the hope." I agree.

You can find your copy of Cilka's Journey on Amazon by clicking right here. Be sure to come back and let us know what you think of the book.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

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