Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

Book Review: Hearing his Whispers: A Journey Through Cancer and Divorce by Lauren Miller

I enjoy reading inspirational books. Hearing His Whispers by Lauren Miller not only inspired me, but it taught me to become a more committed believer in God.

 Along with the inspirations came many hours of non-stop tears. Can you imagine at the young age of 38 going through a divorce and at the same time fighting for your life? Well, Lauren Miller was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma two weeks prior to her final divorce court date.

The author chronicles her conversations with Jesus before, during, and after her divorce and cancer experience. All women should read Lauren’s book. It is a story about surviving even though the prognosis was very dim. It is a story of hope that will change you from an atheist to a believer. The author skillfully brings the bible to life allowing the reader to enter the experience of believing God when all else fails.

My favorite passage in the book:

Page 194- “What I have learned through this experience is that it has taken cancer to wake me up to the truth that with or without cancer… my life, my breath, the lengths of my days on earth are all ultimately out of my control…now What does this realization lead me to? Freedom! Lord, you are leading me into a freedom to be and to live just as I am, not because of anything I accomplish or achieve or any way I dress or physically look in this world.”

The above passage rings so true to me because we have zero control of how long we all have on this earth. The best you can do is to be thankful for each day. The words in Lauren’s book give hope and encouragement to those seeking refuge from trials that are too much to bear.

If suddenly life decides to throw you some unexpected curb balls, I recommend you read Hearing His Whispers so can you find hope and peace.

For more information on Lauren Miller, please visit her website.

Article first published as Book Review: Hearing his Whispers: A Journey Through Cancer and Divorce by Lauren Miller on Blogcritics.

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Book Review: Lists that Saved My Business by Angel Tuccy and Eric Reamer

I am a prolific reader. I read mostly fiction. I am not a huge fan of non-fiction books. To date, I have read only ten books on marketing, but Lists that Saved My Business by Angel Tuccy and Eric Reamer is by far the most practical book I have read on the subject of marketing. I love their motto: “No matter what business you are in… You’re in the Relationship Business!”

This quote makes so much sense to me. I began reading Angel’s and Eric’s book with an open mind, even though I am not an official business owner. I am a children’s author and the one thing I need help in is finding ways to brand myself as an expert in the field of foreign language. I was pleasantly surprised with all the real-life advice and tasks anyone wanting to change for the better can do.

For example, in chapter 13, the authors talk about hosting your own workshop. This is, in my opinion, a brilliant idea. As a trilingual children’s author I can see the benefit of hosting a free workshop for parents interested in teaching their children a foreign language. I love this explanation as to why it is a good idea to host your own workshop: “Hosting your own workshop sets the stage for the most perfect form of marketing: Customer conversation. Customers will draw attention to the benefits, and ask questions that allow you to show off your expertise.”

After reading this section in chapter 13, I knew right away what I need to do to help expand myself as a trilingual children’s author. My second favorite chapter is chapter 18, “Tools for the Trade.” I think we all can use some common sense advice when it comes to staying organized. Again, the authors used a very powerful example to simplify the necessity of staying organized. I am a visual learner, and the example drove the point home for me. Angel and Eric used the following quote taken from author Stacey Platt’s book, What’s A Disorganized Person To Do?:

 

“If I came into your home and asked you to show me your birth certificate, would you know where to find it? What about a safety pin, an extension cord, or your checkbook? You might be able to find most of these without too much digging around. But if I were to ask you for a fork, you would know exactly where to find one. The system for organizing your flatware demonstrates four organizing principles:
1. Forks are kept with forks.
2. Forks have a single and consistent home.
3. Everyone in the household is in agreement about where the forks belong.
4. Forks are put away after they’ve been used and washed.”

I plan to implement the principles I have learned from reading Lists that Saved My Business because I believe I will benefit greatly from doing so. If you are a business owner, and you need some fresh, practical ideas on how to take your business to the next level, I recommend you buy a copy of Angel’s and Eric’s book. If you would like to learn more about Angel and Eric, please visit their website.

Article first published as Book Review: Lists that Saved My Business by Angel Tuccy and Eric Reamer on Blogcritics.

 

Book Review: My Beginning by Melissa Kline

I normally do not read science fiction, but I am so glad I read Melissa Kline’s young adult novelMy Beginning. This futuristic novel had me hooked after reading the first page.

Author Melissa Kline has created a descriptive story with all kinds of twists and turns. The love story between the main character Ivory and Aidan is tender and sweet. This coming of age story will captivate the hearts of all teens 15 and older.

The narrator, 16-year-old Ivory, has spent her life in an institution. The human race was nearly wiped out by a plague, and now young children, and teenagers are protected within the walls of the institution. Ivory meets a young man named Aidan and soon falls in love. Unfortunately, love affairs are strictly forbidden in the institution.

Aidan and Ivory soon find themselves on their own outside of the institution. It is then that they discover the truth about themselves and the nature of the institution.

There are several lessons young people can learn from this well-written book. I always judge a book on what one can learn from it. Here are the things that stand out:

• Perseverance: The main character Ivory never gives up on her dreams. Even though she encounters many obstacles, she remains steadfast and could achieve her goals.

• Loyalty: Main character Ivory could have turned her back on Aidan, but her pure heart allows her to see things in the proper perspective, and she places her life in danger in order to help Aidan.

• Accepting differences: When Ivory learns for the first time the identity of Aidan, instead of judging him, she accepts him for who he is. This is a great lesson for young people to learn. Too many times, we hear of incidents of bullying and how other kids are teased mercilessly because of race, religion, and sexual orientation.

Kline has written 10 novels, and My Beginning is the first one of her manuscripts to be published in book form. My Beginning has won The Halloween Book Festival 2012 Award. I am looking forward to reading her future novels.

Melissa Kline is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and founder of Rocky Mountain Women Writers, a Denver based writing group created to inspire women to write from their dreams.  You can learn more about Melissa here.

Article first published as Book Review: My Beginning by Melissa Kline on Blogcritics.

Sunstruck by Mayra Calvani

 

Are you looking for a great read before summer comes to a screeching halt?  If you are like me and you like reading great fiction based on true events, I suggest you read Sunstruck by  award winning author, Mayra Calvani.    I read and reviewed Sunstruck .  You can read my review here.     All great authors are able to turn personal experiences into a masterpiece.  Ms. Calvani has done that with her well written book.    Buy your copy today for only $5.95, thank you for your time and interest.

SUNSTRUCK

 by Mayra Calvani

 

 

A fun, quirky, beach summer read by Twilight Times Books!

Daniella is an architecture student living with her narcissistic artist boyfriend in San Juan. Abandoned by her father at an early age, Daniella always falls for the ‘wrong’ type of man. Her most enduring male relationship so far has been with her cat.

Several strange mysteries are threaded through Daniella’s everyday life: her ex-husband, Ismael, has just opened an outlandish hotel for animal lovers that has her distraught; Ismael’s wife, a rich woman Daniella fondly refers to as ‘Lady Dracula’, has some gruesome ways to keep her skin looking young; Daniella’s mother is founding a revolutionary, feminist society called The Praying Mantises; the island’s national forest is being depleted of hallucinogenic mushrooms; meanwhile, young girls are disappearing and there’s a nut loose dressed as Zorro slashing the rear ends of women who wear miniskirts.

Oppressed by all these eccentric characters, Daniella feels herself falling into an abyss. Then something terrible happens, making Daniella wake from her stupor and take charge of her life.

Read an excerpt: http://twilighttimesbooks.com/Sunstruck_ch1.html

From the author:

The conception of this book stemmed from two factors: my personal observations of Puerto Rican artists when I was a teen and my love for satiric writing. My mother was—and still is—an artist, and although she’s retired now, back in the early eighties she was an active painter in San Juan, showing her works at art exhibits and galleries regularly. She took me everywhere with her, so I attended all these shows and activities and I observed.

The art scene can be extremely interesting and that is because so many artists are eccentric, unconventional people. There’s so much competition, jealousy and gossip! I guess all these experiences must have made an impression on me. When the time came to write my book, I knew these were the people and situations I wanted to write about. I decided I would make the book a parody, this way I could keep it upbeat and have the freedom to exaggerate to the point of being ridiculous. I was sure an upbeat, sharp, satiric, darkly humorous style would be perfect for my novel.

Review snippets:

“Dark and quirky humor coupled with quixotic characters adds to the surprising mix found in Sunstruck… I’ve never read a book remotely like it. Everything from the humorously weird to the acutely macabre can be found between these covers, and then some.” –Laurel Johnson, Midwest Book Review.

“Highly entertaining!”—Romance Junkies.

“Calvani has taken human nature and put it under a microscope–a warped and slightly cracked microscope. Proving once again that she is a master storyteller in multiple genres, “Sunstruck” by Mayra Calvani is both witty and brilliant.” — The Book Connection

“Mayra Calvani is a master of wit. The descriptions contain just the right telling detail, as when she describes Daniella’s red hair as the color you’d get if you mixed brandy, carrots, and raspberries in a blender. Calvani makes the absurd seem reasonable. I found myself nodding at death from hiccups, coffee enemas, and drugged cats. The writing is exquisite, and the narrative strangely compelling. Do yourself a favor and snap this one up.”—Margaret Fieland, reviewer

“Sunstruck is like a nutty Whodunit with a little twist. Who really is in the Zorro costume? With all the crazy characters I caught myself pointing fingers again and again. A great read that will make you forget where you are, while you giggle yourself to complete oblivion from all the silliness.” —Autumn Blues Reviews

“This book was so crazy it was fantastic. Talk about a nutty twisty book this is it and all in good fun.” —Babs Book Bistro

“…[A] funny satire that reaches into the realms of paranormal and horror as well as mystery and women’s issues.” — Anne K. Edwards, mystery author

Salvador Dali meets Terry GilliamMonty Python’s Flying Circus would be proud.” — The Blue Iris Journal

About the author:

Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has penned over ten books for children and adults in genres ranging from picture books to satire to paranormal fantasy novels. She’s had over 300 articles,
short stories, interviews and reviews published in magazines such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal  and Bloomsbury Review, among others. She has lived in America, Asia, the Middle East, and now lives in Brussels, Belgium.

Website: www.MayraCalvani.com

Blog: www.thedarkphantom.wordpress.com

Latino Books Examiner: http://www.examiner.com/latino-books-in-national/mayra-calvani

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mayra-Calvanis-Fan-Page/162383023775888

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mcalvani

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/272703.Mayra_Calvani

Purchase info:

Title: Sunstruck
Author: Mayra Calvani
Author web site: http://www.mayracalvani.com/
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
url: http://twilighttimesbooks.com/
ISBN: 978-1-60619-024-2
Genre: Parody/Satire
Format: ebook in pdf, ePub, Kindle, Mobi, PRC, etc.
Distributors: Amazon Kindle; Apple iBookstore; BN.com Nook; eReader; Fictionwise; Kobo Books;
OmniLit; Sony eBookstore, etc
Release date: July 15, 2012
Price: $5.95
Pages: 160
Chapter excerpt:
http://twilighttimesbooks.com/Sunstruck_ch1.html

 

Book Review: Kidini Bully Prevention and Child Safety Parent and Child Activity Book by Michael Graves

I remember too well the first time I was bullied. I attended school in New York and did not speak a word of English. At 10 years of age, I had moved from Port-au-Prince Haiti to Brooklyn, New York to live with my mother. It was hard enough learning a new language and culture; I did not need to be teased and made fun of because of my French accent.

Today as I look back on my childhood days, I am both sad and happy. Sad because it took me a long time to overcome the self-esteem issues associated with being bullied. Happy, because my personal experiences with bullying enabled me to help many of my students and my own children.

However, today, I am elated to share information about a book that will help parents, and educators gain valuable knowledge about bully prevention and child safety. Bullying is so different today, because of the internet . After reading Kidini Bully Prevention and Child Safety Parent and Child Activity Book, I am very hopeful that parents have a way to empower their children to keep them safe from bullies.

It provides a fun, educational and interactive way to teach children how to stay safe. What resonates well with me is the eight friendly characters that make part of the Kidini Team. The book starts with a section explaining what bullying is and detailed explanations on important topics such as:

• What can your child do to avoid bullying?
• What can you do as a parent to stop your child from being bullied?
• Who is a stranger?
• What should your child do if someone grabs him/her?
• What should your child do if someone they don’t know approaches?

The book comes with two CDs that has songs and stories. There is also a set of flashcards featuring the eight friendly characters.

I have seen firsthand what bullying can do to a child’s self-esteem as a victim, parent, and a classroom teacher. I believe the Kidini Bully Prevention and Child Safety Parent and Child Activity Book, is the most complete and interactive book available  that can be used as a resource to help empower children from all walks of life.

I highly recommend this book without any reservations.You can find out more from  the creators; website. and Facebook:

 

Article first published as Book Review: Kidini Bully Prevention and Child Safety Parent and Child Activity Book by Michael Graves on Blogcritics.

BOOK REVIEW: SEIZE THE STORY BY VICTORIA HANLEY

 

Are you an author? Are you looking for a handy resource to help sharpen your skills as a writer? If you answered “Yes,” look no further. Please do not walk but sprint to get yourself a copy of Seize the Story by Victoria Hanley.

I have read many books on the craft of writing, in fact, too many to count. Seize the Story is by far the most comprehensible book I have read. Even though the book is a handbook for teens who like to write, anyone wishing to make his or her writing shine like diamonds will benefit from reading the book.

The book consists of fourteen chapters. The chapters can be read as a standalone depending on what you need the most help in. For example, I have read chapters six and seven at least a dozen times. The author gives concrete examples on how to improve your writing. My weaknesses are in writing dialogue and showing instead of telling; consequently, I have worked and re-worked that section of the books many times.

Seize the Story offers writers a realistic, detailed look on how to go about creating breathtaking one-of-a-kind stories. In my opinion, Seize the Story is the best book on the craft of writing.

My search is over; in Seize the Story, I have a handy manual that I can refer to time and time again. Seasoned writers will find the book useful if they are in need of brushing up on their skills.

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Read more: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-seize-the-story-by/#ixzz1j19M5z2j

Book Review: The Mason Jar by James Russell Lingerfelt

The Mason Jar written by James Russell Lingerfelt is a coming of age love story that will stay with me for a very long time. The author’s writing style drew me in right away. I finished reading the book in one day.

 

The story read like a long beautiful poem with vivid descriptions that made me feel like I was there in person. The story chronicles the main character Finn’s first relationship with a fellow student named Eden. Finn fell madly in love with Eden, but unfortunately, Eden did not feel the same way about Finn.

Finn has a difficult time accepting that his relationship with Eden ended abruptly. As I read the story, I kept asking myself the question: What hidden message is the author trying to convey to the reader?

At times, I grew somewhat impatient with Finn’s obsession with Eden. Get over her already and move on to another relationship. It took me a while to figure out the author’s intent. Human relationship is a very complex thing, and one must find closure before complete healing can begin. One can spend a lifetime wondering why a person acted a certain way, but until you take the time to find a resolution, you can waste a lot of time and energy with ill feelings of despair. I learned a valuable lesson from reading this well written book. Do not spend too much time wondering why. In the case of Finn, he could have saved himself many years of despair if he had taken the time to confront Eden on her sudden decision to end their relationship.

I loved the relationship Finn had with his grandpa. The author did an outstanding job portraying how his grandpa helped shaped him into a man of good solid morals. Here is an excerpt of a letter Finn’s grandpa wrote to him:

Finn,

I know right now all you can see is the pain. So, I’m not sure the words I say to you will resonate. But know that feelings just are. Experience them. Don’t deny them or push them away. If you do, it will come out through other avenues like short-tempers and sharp answers to friends and loved ones who don’t deserve to be mistreated.


We do not deny our experiences, good or bad. We must embrace them. They are a part of who we are. The point is to keep from dwelling on the past or holding on to the bad times. This way, we don’t lead ourselves into resentment, cynicism and bitterness. If we want to get angry and scream at God because we think it’s His fault, that’s okay. He can handle our anger. God might not appear to care, but He does. He promises us that. We can give up on Him and walk away, but how much better off will we be?

Understand, son, that we can only help those who have hit rock bottom when we ourselves have seen existence through that same lens. Therefore, you can use the pain you’ve experienced to ease the pain in others.

-Grandpa

Finn’s grandpa gave him solid advice that he later applied by traveling to Nairobi, Africa to help run a street children ministry. I found it very refreshing that Finn could find his calling by giving himself to service by helping the less fortunate street children in an impoverished, country of Nairobi. The lesson learned is there is always someone must worse off than you.

I am hugely impressed with the fact that sales through Pepperdine University in 2012 will go to fund student scholarships to Pepperdine since the author is an alumni and wishes to give back to the school.

If you are looking for a superficial Hollywood ending, this book is not for you. However, if you want a realistic ending that will make you appreciate what life is all about, then I urge to pick up a copy of The Mason Jar.

I applaud Mr. Lingerfelt loudly, for he has penned a very well written book that I plan to read again and again.

For more information about the author, please visit his website: http://jamesrussell.org