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2017 Reading Challenge

Jill Elizabeth has read 2 books toward her goal of 150 books.

Guest Book Review: How Love Wins – The Power of Mindful Kindness by Doug Carnine

I’m pleased to bring you another book review brought to you by my fabulous guest reviewer, Sharon. Today, it’s a self-help title about the power of positivity and the way that actively practicing kindness can help direct your life in a more mindful and nurturing direction… Enjoy!

I love self-help books. I believe a reader can always take away something helpful from them.

The author states a well-known – yet difficult to actualize – truth: a simple action can shape our lives in very complex and far-reaching ways. That action: being kind. Kindness offers a plethora of useful outcomes, yet maintaining an attitude toward life and living that is positive and kind seems unnecessarily difficult a lot of the time. Being mindful in order to experience the myriad benefits of a truly kind life often seems to escape us though. In this lovely book, Dr. Doug Carnine uses the popular 12- Step Process to help us realize a transformation in our own lives so we can obtain and live a more mindful existence. Continue reading Guest Book Review: How Love Wins – The Power of Mindful Kindness by Doug Carnine

Book Review: Hoover by Kenneth Whyte

I love biographies, especially when they are about “private” people in the public eye. This was a much easier task to accomplish in Hoover’s time, but still… Hoover’s name is bandied about for a number of reasons (e.g., Hoovervilles, Hoover Dam), but once I began reading this very detailed and well-written book, I realized how little I actually knew about the man himself. He has tended, I think, to be overshadowed by the significantly difficult times in which he found himself. From his humble and rather severe childhood to his years after the White House, Whyte has done a masterful job at recreating a surprisingly private life in meticulously researched detail.

There is a LOT of information here, and while it is presented in clear language and a solid writing style, it is (as other reviewers have noted) not really for the casual reader… Continue reading Book Review: Hoover by Kenneth Whyte

Book Reviews: The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost and The Case of the Deadly Doppelganger by Lucy Banks

Today I’d like to introduce you to a relatively new series by a very talented author, Lucy Banks. According to the blurb at the back of the books, Dr. Ribero’s Agency of the Supernatural series “unites the realm of the strange with the everyday world. It’s a place where chaotic spirits rub shoulders with businessmen, and nothing is quite as it seems.” I am a big fan of the world-within/behind-the-world genre; I’ve always been intrigued by the idea that there is more to the world than what most people see or perceive, and love to see how authors have played this idea out in fiction. Banks does a nice job creating a hidden world that makes sense, while still maintaining an aura of magic and mystery. Her characters are fun and a great mix of personalities, quirks, and foibles, and the plots are entertaining and engaging. All in all this is a really enjoyable series, and I hope to see many more books to come!

The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost

This was a fun find – I saw it as a kindle deal, but waited to buy it because my To Be Read queue is overwhelming… Then I saw that the sequel was available on NetGalley, requested it, and was approved. Well OBVIOUSLY I had to read the first one before I could read the sequel, so it was bumped out of the “To Buy” list and onto the kindle post haste. I’m so glad I got to it – it was a very fun read. I really love the London (and its surrounding suburbs/exurbs)-has-a-secret-world books – like Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series or Paul Cornell’s London Falling series. There’s something extra magical about London/England as the setting for a world-within-the-world story to me – I don’t know why… Perhaps it’s the history inherent in the city – it’s hard to imagine things NOT being possible there, given all that has happened on those handfuls of kilometers over the centuries. Perhaps it’s the magical feel of the city itself. Or perhaps there are just a lot of very talented British writers. Regardless, I tend to fall in love with the worlds within London, much as I have with London itself.

Banks take on this, while not entirely new, is still plenty original and highly entertaining. The hapless Kester Lanner is a delight – he’s Everyman from his head to his toes (which he can’t entirely see because of a love of comfort food and extra sugar in his tea), and is the perfect foil for the debonair Argentinian Dr. Ribero. The two men’s connection is fun to watch play out; the supporting cast is charming and irritating and sometimes just a little over the top – just like every set of office mates I’ve ever had. The writing is clear and engaging. The story unfolds like a bakery cake box: crumbs, frosting, and all. I rolled my eyes at Kester almost as many times as I wanted to grab him in an all-encompassing hug, but it was all good – he’s deliciously endearing. Just like a crumpled cake, there’s just as much sweetness in the crumbly bits (Kester) as in the display model (Ribero).

Now I think I need some cake – I carried that metaphor pretty far, and it’s clearly because I’m hungry… If you’re not, and I lost you, don’t hold it against the book – pick it up, you won’t be sorry!

The Case of the Deadly Doppelganger
This was a wish book, granted by NetGalley – I came across the first in the series just as I saw that this was available, and rushed to wish for it because I was so intrigued by the first. The serie is a fun regular-guy-learns-there’s-more-to-the-world tale – akin to Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London books, but with its own unique slant, unique cast of characters, and a nice cozy-ish writing style that is thoroughly enjoyable. The books are engaging, with entertaining mysteries and a nicely formulated supernatural underpinning. Kester is a darling bundle of raw nerves and makes for a marvelous foil for Dr. Ribero and his agency – their adventures together blend realistic drama (paying the bills, surviving the death of a parent, competition in business) with just enough almost-over-the-top supernatural drama (possessed paintings, spirits captured in water bottles) to keep things light yet just eerie enough to stay darkly entertaining. It’s a fine balance, and more fun for its tightrope walking!

In this second installment, Kester is finally starting to come to terms with his new-found place in the world – and the supernatural world is, in turn, starting to adjust to his role in it. His character is developing nicely, adjusting to the bizarre reality he has been unceremoniously dropped into the midst of while still maintaining enough of the wide-eyed innocence of his introduction both to the series and the supernatural world that is so endearing. I think there is tremendous opportunity for growth here, and do look forward to seeing where Banks takes things.

My review copy was made available through NetGalley.

Book Review: The Infinite Now by Mindy Tarquini

“The future was too large to fathom, the past too heavy to bear, the present always there and infinite, and none of it had any answers.”

If only this book hadn’t tried to be so many things…

The author is clearly very talented. There were many points in the book where I had to reread the sentences uttered by her characters aloud, because they were so graceful and poignant and spot-on. Unfortunately, those were matched by the sentences I had to reread because I either couldn’t believe they were made or because I had no idea why they were there/what they meant…

This is a story about the “Spanish” influenza pandemic of 1918-19. And about magic. And about immigrants in early twentieth century Philadelphia. And about family. And about women’s rights. And about fear. And about love. And about… Continue reading Book Review: The Infinite Now by Mindy Tarquini

Guest Post: Get a Book. Give a Book. Donates Books to Children in Haiti Courtesy of Authors Shane Trusz and Darryl Frayne

Today’s post is a guest piece to share information about a fantastic program to improve literacy in Haiti. As you read this, one of the lead authors involved in the program – Shane Trusz – is in Haiti, working on the ground to get things running. You can witness his progress and firsthand, by visiting him and co-author Darryl Frayne via any of their social media links, including Facebook, Instagram, and GoodReads for Darryl or GoodReads for Shane. Check the sites out for live feeds and updates, and then check out The Maidstone Chronicles for a great read AND your own chance to help! Promos will be available in December via the series website – – so definitely take a look…

Get a Book. Give a Book.
For every book we sell at list price (print or eBook) we are providing a student workbook to a child in Haiti.

Submitted by Shane Trusz, author of Across the Fourwinds, Book 1 of The Maidstone Chronicles

I often reflect on my time living in Haiti. It’s a complicated part of the world with no easy solutions. My heart breaks because more often than not, the problems seem too big to fix.

One serious issue plaguing the country is the literacy rate. The average literacy rate for Latin America and the Caribbean countries is just over 90%. The literacy rate for for Haitian woman is 57% and for Haitian men it’s 64%. Nearly half the population currently residing in the country will never learn to read. Continue reading Guest Post: Get a Book. Give a Book. Donates Books to Children in Haiti Courtesy of Authors Shane Trusz and Darryl Frayne



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