Posts filed under ‘book review’

Book Review: Calming the Chaos

chaos

Book Description:

Far too many people in contemporary culture feel they don’t have enough time to “get it all done.” The stress of this chronic overwhelm creates a disorganized mind that leads to a chaotic life. Based on her highly acclaimed “Energy Management” workshops, and drawn from over 25 years of counseling and coaching experience, professional trainer and speaker Jackie Woodside shares her breakthrough methods that lead to becoming the least stressed, most productive person you know!

In Calming the Chaos, you will learn the step-by-step skills and thought processes that lead to increased productivity and peace of mind. Jackie’s approach stems from the new frontier of human performance called energetic consciousness. Part philosophy, part psychology, fully practical application, you will learn:

  • Why there is no such thing as time management and what to do instead.
  • How to manage your energy instead of your time and stress.
  • The three-step formula for managing every component of your life for the rest of your life!
  • Why “to-do lists” are a set up for failure and what really works.
  • “The Three Strikes Rule” that will end procrastination for good!
  • How to always know that you have the time for what you want and need to do!

Many books promise to change your life. Applying these principles will make this a reality!

My Thoughts:

This quote is a perfect summation of this book:

“Calming the chaos means you recognize the sacredness of this life here and now, not living in the hope that life will get better ‘someday.’ It means being and doing the things that align with your highest sense of self, with your deepest desires and passions.”

So how does one go about recognizing the sacredness of life? According to the author the journey begins by taking note of the way you manage your energy. How do you interact with your environment, well-being, relationships and finances? The author begins by guiding readers through an energy drain inventory.

Here are the types of questions you must ask yourself.

  • Do you live in a clutter filled home or workplace?
  • Do you have stacks of mail and paperwork that you haven’t managed?
  • Do you misplace things?
  • Do you fail to get enough rest or feel fatigued?
  • Do you work long hours without adequate periods to rest and recharge?
  • Do you procrastinate on daily tasks?
  • Do you worry about money?
  • Are your bills late or overdue?
  • Do you have difficulty letting go of upsets and sometimes blame others for circumstances?
  • Do your relationships feel more draining than fulfilling?

Based on your answers to these questions and fifteen others you can determine how well you are managing your energy. Are you enjoying the full life benefits of peach of mind, vitality and well-being or are you experiencing negative life outcomes as a result of the chaos around you.

If you fall into the second category, if your life feels difficult and draining, this book will guide you through a series of steps to find more peace and tranquility.

I connected quite deeply to this paragraph:

 “what happens when you actually have a couple of hours with no meetings or no place you have to go? Do you sit down and become wildly productive ticking things off that you know you want to accomplish?” No, you don’t, do you? Do you know what happens when you have that open space in your schedule and there is so much in your head? Your mind goes into a blur or what I call “the dumb air” and you can’t think straight. So you do busy work, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a few emails, check your Facebook page, read the news online… and then at the end of all that busy work you only have a half hour left before your next meeting so you can’t start anything too involved in such a short period of time! And it is not your fault. It is not because you are lazy, disorganized or inefficient; you are simply not trained in managing your Self in time.

Does this sound familiar? How are you spending your time? Do you think you are wasting the valuable minutes you have here on earth? Would you like to learn how to harness your energy towards the things that truly matter? If so, buy a copy of this book or pick up a version from your local library. Readers will find very sound advice for creating a more meaningful, better balanced life.

I already follow much of the advice in this book, but it still opened my eyes to a new way of perceiving my life and improving upon it.

Author’s Bio:
Jackie Woodside, CPC, LICSW is a psychotherapist, coach, speaker and author, specializing in the power of managing personal energy, rather than time or stress. An Amazon bestselling author of ‘What If It’s Time for a Change?’ and highly sought-after speaker on leadership and empowerment topics, Jackie conducts training programs for public, private and government sectors nationwide.

Connect with Jackie:  Website  ~  Twitter   ~  Facebook

Disclosure of Material: I received this book for free, but the opinions I have expressed are my own.

June 26, 2015 at 8:00 AM 1 comment

Book Review: How to Blog a Book

How to Blog a Book
Book Description:

Transform Your Blog into a Book!

The world of blogging is rapidly changing, but it remains one of the most efficient ways to write and share your work with an eager audience. But how do you purposefully hone your blog content into a uniquely positioned book that will be noticed by an agent or a publisher?

How to Blog a Book Revised and Expanded Edition is a completely updated guide to writing and publishing a saleable book based on a blog. Expert author and blogger Nina Amir guides you through the process of developing targeted blog content that will increase your chances of publication and maximize your visibility as an author.

In this revised edition you’ll find:

• The latest information on how to set up, maintain, and optimize a blog
• Steps for writing a book easily from scratch using blog posts
• Advice on how to write blog posts
• Tips on gaining visibility and promoting your work both online and off
• Current tools for driving traffic to your blog
• Extensive information on how to monetize your existing blog content into a book or other products
• Profiles with authors who received blog-to-book deals, including four new “from blog to book” success stories

My Thoughts:

I’ve always wanted to write a book. It started in elementary school. Each first grade student was assigned a fifth grade partner. The fifth grader asked us lots of questions like “do you own a pet,” “what is your favorite food” and “who is your best friend.” They gathered all of the information and helped us create a story using the answers we provided.

We were each given ten sheets of paper and a sentence or two was written carefully at the top of each page. Then we drew a picture depicting the details of that sentence. The teacher created a fancy cover sheet for each of us and used string to bind the ten pages together. It was my first book and I showed it to everyone that was willing to read it with me!

I would still love to write a book and one day I still hope to do so. I’ve toyed with numerous topics over the years, but I’ve never taken the time to create an outline. Instead I started a blog over nine years ago. It’s much easier to write a few paragraphs about a variety of topics then to streamline everything into one book.

But Nina Amir’s book teaches readers how to convert blog posts into the content required for a book. Perhaps the words on my blog can be gathered, edited, reordered and expanded upon. Perhaps I can create a book from my blog. There are certainly a lot of best sellers that started out that way.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It focuses on how to create a solid blog with substantial followers as well as how to grow the ideas from that blog into a book. I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to finishing that novel, but this book has inspired me to find the time to focus on it.

Author’s Bio:
 
Nina Amir, the bestselling author of How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual, is a speaker, a blogger, and an author, book, and blog-to-book coach. Known as the Inspiration to Creation Coach, she helps creative people combine their passion and purpose so they move from idea to inspired action and positively and meaningfully impact the world as writers, bloggers, authorpreneurs, and blogpreneurs. Some of Nina’s clients have sold 300,000+ copies of their books, landed deals with major publishing houses and created thriving businesses around their books. She is the founder of National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge, and the Nonfiction Writers’ University. As a hybrid author she has published 15 books and had as many as four books on the Amazon Top 100 list at the same time.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~   Facebook

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June 19, 2015 at 1:25 PM 5 comments

Book Review: Life Outside the Box

Life Outside the Box Book Description:

Real Stories about Real People to Entertain, Inspire and Challenge You. Get inspired to step out of your box and into a world full of potential. From the corporate world, to the arts, to working with the disenfranchised – the message is clear. There is no such thing as a normal way to live your life and no one right solution to any problem. Selected from amongst over 100 interviews, the stories shared here open a window on the journeys of seven women and three men who have charted their own path, including Ruthie Davis – top U.S. luxury shoe designer and the winner of the 2014 AAFA Footwear Designer of the Year award – and Geir Ness whose perfume is a staple in Nordstrom, Disney World and on Disney Cruise Lines. Enjoy a glimpse behind the scenes into the unique ways these individuals chose to deal with life’s challenges and how they define success in their careers.

My Thoughts:

This book tells the stories of ten unique individuals who have gained success and notoriety in their careers. They work in a variety of industries including but not limited to photographers, artists, shoe designers and creators of top selling perfumes. Reading this book felt like reading a chronological journal of sorts. The author steps readers through the moments and events that led each individual to the pinnacle of their career. Some individuals are successful with each step of the journey while others falter before hitting their stride. While I expected this book to be all about success within the structured work environment I was most pleased to see how often interviewees focused on success outside of their careers.  This book may have been about the unique journey that led each individual to the top of their industry, but in many instances the subjects of each story talked about their children and family as the most important accomplishment in their lives. Here are a few of my favorite quotes that focus on life outside of work:

“Happy family, good kids, being a good mum – that’s more important to me than anything.” “My son is my angel. He made me really look at myself so I could become a better mother and a better person. I had to learn new ways to take care of myself. The one thing in my life that I really want to know I have succeeded at is that I’ve raised a respectful man.” “We get so caught up in the dollar value of things that that becomes more important than where your heart is.” “Even in the face of challenge, it’s important to find the courage to live a life of purpose. When you live a life of purpose and share it with the world, it awakens and inspires others to do the same.”

As a personal finance blogger it is easy to get caught up in the ways and means to earn an income. It is important to remember that life is not about saving every penny and swimming in your sea of gold like Scrooge McDuck. The goal is to keep an eye on the important things in life. To focus on friends, family and the relationships that bind us to one another. I particularly like this quote:

“I measure success by how I feel in the morning. If I’m happy, looking forward to the day, pain free, injury free, healthy, my family happy – then I am WAY successful. “

I feel the exact same way!

Author’s Bio:

Marilyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for interviewing. It all began in 2006 when the she answered a Craigslist ad from a NY magazine asking for story submissions. Two were accepted. The first live interview was life changing and Wilson has never looked back. With over 150 interviews now behind her, the love of interviewing is still as strong as ever. Whether through a random encounter on the New York subway or via a “one-on-one” interview with an internationally recognized artist, the goal is the same—to share the unique journeys of inspiring individuals. In 2007, this goal led the author to co-launch a successful, innovative magazine focused on professionals working in the fashion industry, paired with photography and illustrations by local artists. Now on staff at Raine Magazine (NY/Miami/LA), as well as freelancing for other publications, Wilson has taken her passion to a new audience with the release of her first book.

Connect with Marilyn: Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

Disclosure of Material: I received this book for free, but the opinions I have expressed are my own.

June 19, 2015 at 8:00 AM 1 comment

Book Review: Kika The Upside-Down Girl

Kika the Upside Down Girl
Book Description:

Kika always seems to accomplish things differently than others and tends to get into trouble for it. She reminds us that choosing to be different is more than okay, and finding others to join in her upside down adventures makes her heart feel huge – especially when it involves somersaults, vaults, flips and kips! Join Kika, a girl who loves living upside down in a right side up world, on her unique journey to a fliptastic world! Kika reminds us that choosing to be different is more than okay, and finding others to join in her upside down adventures feels fliptastic – especially when it involves somersaults, vaults, flips and kips in the Gymnastics Emporium!

My Thoughts:

I love any book that encourages children to appreciate their differences. Let’s face it, we all live in a world where we feel the societal pressures to conform to those around us. The desire to be like everyone else is particularly prevalent in young children who feel the need to belong. We may not feel this as very small children, but as time passes and we grow into early adolescence we certainly don’t want our differences to exclude us from making friends and feeling like part of the pack. Kika is a little girl who likes to view the world upside down. Her heart feels HUGE when she stands on her hands, but at some point she’s told to act like everyone else. “Kika, can you PLEASE be more like other kids and stay right side up?” But Kika doesn’t want to view the world right-side up. She doesn’t want to act like everyone else. She wants to explore the world in her own unique way and she just knows there are other children out there that feel the same way she does. Although this book focuses on a young girl who wishes to flip, somersault and generally live her life upside-down, it can be expanded to teach children that they can always find someone out there who thinks and feels the same way they do. It’s important for children to find friends who have the same interests and passions, whether that’s gymnastics, science, reading, art or anything else they can dream of! You don’t necessarily need to conform to the pack. You just need to find a pack that thinks like you do. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author’s Bio:

Olympic gymnast turned author, motivational speaker and experiential educator Jessica Tudos (JessicaTudos.com) is on a mission to empower kids, youth and adults to develop the confidence and resiliency required to lead active, healthy and creative lives. In organizations around the world, Jessica empowers audiences through engaging stories, insights & reflections drawn from her upside down life, including her Olympic gymnastics adventures. Jessica is a sought after speaker, facilitator and professor in experiential education, physical literacy, leadership & elite sports.

Connect with Jessica: Website  ~   Twitter  ~   Facebook

June 5, 2015 at 8:00 AM 3 comments

Book Review: Lucky Strike

Book Description:

http://www.virtualauthorbooktours.com/?p=4173

By the award winning author of ‘The Dogs of Winter’, Bobbie Pyron.

A rich, southern voice tells the unforgettable story of two vulnerable outsiders, the lightning strike that turns their world upside down and the true meaning of lucky.

Nate Harlow has never had a lucky day in his life. He’s never won a prize, he’s never been picked first, he’s never even won a coin toss. His best friend, Genesis Beam (aka Gen), believes in science and logic, and she doesn’t think for one second that there’s such a thing as luck, good or bad. But only an extremely unlucky person could be struck by lightning on his birthday… and that person is Nate Harlow. By some miracle, though, Nate survives, and the strike seems to have changed his luck.

Suddenly, Nate’s grandpa is the busiest fisherman in their small, beachside town. And Nate finds himself the center of attention, the most popular kid at school, the one who hits a game-winning home run! This lucky streak can’t last forever, though, and as a hurricane draws close to the shores of Paradise Beach, Nate and Gen may need more than just good luck to save their friendship and their town: They need a miracle.

My Thoughts:

I think of myself as a lucky person. In fact I talk about quite often and I’ve written about it a few times too. I am fortunate in more ways than I can count, but I feel straight up lucky too. I’ve won my fair share of raffles and contests. A couple of times I’ve felt a certain tingly sensation in my body prior to winning. During one particular raffle I read the numbers on my ticket aloud and just knew I’d win.

My brother feels the complete opposite way. He often says I received the ‘good luck’ from my dad, while he received the ‘bad luck’ of my mother, but I wonder how much is really luck and how much is perspective. My brother tends to approach situations negatively, whereas I typically think positive thoughts my just turn my luck around.

I love how the author discusses luck throughout the book and how the character Genesis Beam attempts to understand it.

After Nate tells Gen how his luck has changed she discusses the concept with her mother. She says, “I keep telling him there’s no such thing as luck, good or bad. Although it is an interesting theory, and it does seem things have been going his way. But that could just be self-fulfilling prophecy, couldn’t it, Mama? I mean because he thinks he’s lucky, he has succeeded more, right?”

Her mom responds, “Well that could be, honey. Maybe he’s gotten more self-confidence because he believes his luck has changed, and you and I both know Nate’s never had an abundance of self-confidence. But on the other hand, how do you prove the difference between the the power of belief and the magic of luck?” I love that question. I have often wondered if I am lucky or if I just feel that way.

I connected deeply to this book and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. If you’ve ever thought about luck and what makes a person lucky I highly recommended it.

May 15, 2015 at 8:00 AM 3 comments

Book Review: Going Against the Grain Italian Style: A Gluten-free Life Guide and Recipe Book

against the grain

Book Description:

This two-part book is a vital adjunct to any home attempting to be gluten-free. The first part guides you through early diagnosis and is an essential guide for any beginner diagnosed with celiac disease or some form of gluten sensitivity. You will learn how to identify symptoms of the disease, how celiac disease is diagnosed, and the consequences if left untreated. It will help you to understand how to read labels and how to manage your gluten-free home in a shared environment. It outlines practical advice for parents of children with celiac disease as well as tips for eating out and dealing with social settings such as special occasions or when traveling. Honorary foreword provided by renowned Dr. Peter HR Green, MD – Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.

Growing up authentically Sicilian, Nuccia Ardagna thought that getting rid of gluten meant giving up her favorite traditional foods, but that could not be further from the truth! Nuccia combines her passion for eating amazingly Italian with her new dietary needs to bring you scrumptious, traditional Italian (and Sicilian) recipes. From simple, classic appetizers to decadent desserts you thought you could never enjoy, every recipe is easy-to-follow and offers beautiful full-color pictures throughout. You can feel confident about entertaining guests and family with these mouth-watering recipes. You can eat healthier, feel better, and truly enjoy living gluten-free while never having to sacrifice great taste! In this book, Nuccia not only shares her personal story with celiac disease but also the recipes she grew up with at home and uses to entertain guests. Look for the bonus section at the end of the book along with a section dedicated to her favorite links and resources.

We hope you enjoy the book and find it helpful in your journey.

My Thoughts:

This is certainly not your typical cookbook. Before digging into a plethora of delicious recipes the author, Nuccia Ardagna, provides specific details about celiac disease and her own struggle with this disorder. It seems many doctors failed properly diagnosis her illness.

The author personalizes the disorder by providing a personal account and history of the disease within her own life. As someone who has suffered from rare disorders it was interesting to read about the events and illnesses that ultimately led to the author’s proper diagnosis. It took over four years for doctors to uncover the disorder that made her horrendously ill.

The author advocated for herself and persisted through a series of misdiagnosis before finding a doctor who could classify her illness.

Ardagna is not a doctor so she provides an introduction to the book by a doctor who specializes in this disorder. She also provides information to help those who think they may suffer from celiac disease. She writes about the specific tests that lead to proper diagnosis including blood tests, endoscopies and colonoscopies.

The author also discusses the changes required to keep a gluten-free home. She writes in detail about cross contamination and about sticking to the gluten-free diet even after you begin feeling better.

Ardagna’s goal is to provide gluten-free recipes that are just as tasty as similar recipes that include gluten. She covers a wide range of appetizers, desserts and main courses with step-by-step instructions and gorgeous color pictures of the dishes you can create.

Whether or not you suffer from celiac disease these recipes look absolutely scrumptious. I can’t wait to try out a few this week!

Disclosure of Material: I received this book for free, but the opinions I have expressed are my own.

May 12, 2015 at 8:00 AM 1 comment

Book Review: Aoléon The Martian Girl PART FIVE

Aoleon The Martian Girl PART 5

Book Description:

Aoléon, Gilbert, Bizwat, Helios, and Zoot make it to their final destination – Cydonia where Aoléon’s parents are being held captive. They infiltrate a secret underground base and are confronted by a small army of sentrybots.

Bizwat lends Aoléon and Gilbert some of his advanced combat skills via a psionic brain dump. However, this may not be enough to save them from overwhelming hostile forces that will do anything to stop them.

They finally meet Pax – the Martian who originally set them out on the mission to discover the truth about the Luminon and his plans to invade Earth. However Pax is not who he seems to be, and through a turn of events, they uncover the true power behind all that has been happening on Mars.

Will they be able to rescue Aoléon’s parents and save Earth from invasion?
Read part 5 to find out!

My Thoughts:

If you enjoyed reading the first four parts of the Aoléon the Martian Girl series you will certainly have fun reading this one. The story kicks off right where part four left off with Aoléon and Gilbert attempting to put a halt to the Martian invasion of Earth.

The action packed adventure includes a series of battle scenes as the two main characters attempt to fight off the evil Martians who are intent on stealing Earth’s cows.

The author includes many images in this book that help the reader visualize the alien creatures as the struggle between good and evil persists. It would certainly be fun for the reader to use his or her imagination to form a mental image of the aliens and the world they inhabit, but I enjoyed viewing the colorful, computer generated images created by the author. The depictions of battle scenes are filled with bright colors and scary alien faces. I particularly liked the interplanetary images of planets and spaceships. There is a realistic approach to the pictures. The wheat in the Nebraska farm appears three-dimensional and the light bouncing off the planets reminds me of images from the international space station.

In this book the author returns more to the action and adventure aspect of the series and focuses less on the character development realized in part four. While I enjoyed reading about the armed conflicts I must admit that I missed the character building of the previous book. The action and activity were interesting and fun but I hoped the in-depth and insightful conversations between the characters would continue throughout the final chapters. Nonetheless this was a fun book to read and a good way to end the Aoléon series.

Meet the Author:

Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys. He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel. He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

Connect with Brent:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Aoléon: The Martian Girl

Disclosure of Material: I received this book for free, but the opinions I expressed are my own.

May 8, 2015 at 8:00 AM Leave a comment

Book Review: Bridges of Paris

Bridges of Paris

Book Description:

Bridges of Paris is a large-format coffee-table book, with over 350 original color photographs, which casts new illumination on the City of Light. The 37 bridges over the Seine River emerge as beautiful, historic destinations rather than unnoticed thoroughfares. The book features stunning portraits of each bridge as well as intimate riverside moments. Once you’ve experienced this river tour, you will never see Paris the same way again.

Living as a Parisian for a year, author Michael Saint James left his American lifestyle and spent his days and nights capturing images from over, on, beside and under the bridges of Paris. With over 30 years experience as a photographer, educator and world traveler, Michael immersed himself in French culture to search out his authentic artist self. The result is a visual treasure to share with everyone.

My Thoughts:

Fifteen years ago my grandmother mentioned her desire to visit Paris. Her interest in fashion and aesthetics drew her to that one particular spot on the globe. One afternoon we talked about her lifelong regrets; the various decisions and actions that she would change about her past. The things she would do differently if only a magic genie could grant her the chance to change her personal history. Number one on that list was failing to visit Paris in her twenties.

At well over ninety years of age her opportunity to visit the city has passed. She has neither the means nor the stamina to travel long distances. If she miraculously managed the flight she certainly wouldn’t be able to walk the cobbled streets. Her romantic vision of pausing to look in store windows and stopping to dine in French bistros is no longer possible.

When I was offered the opportunity to review this book I jumped at the chance. I knew my grandmother would love to look at the images and I decided to pass this book along as soon as I finished reviewing it. The book contains hundreds of photographs of the city’s bridges.

The author includes both large-scale photographs of the bridges as well as detailed pictures that capture the intricate designs and engravings.

My favorite photographs were captured in the early evening as the sun sets over the city and at night where the lights seem to dance off the page.

This is a beautiful coffee table sized book that I know my grandmother will love. The next best thing to visiting a place is watching documentaries, reading books and looking at pictures of a place you long to see. I know my grandmother will love seeing the people and sights captured by Michael Saint James.

Author’s Bio:

Michael Saint James’ artistic pursuits include award-winning book design, film editing, and sound recording, as well as his first love, photography. Saint James is a world traveler, having visited more than 50 countries – doing everything from photographing penguins in Antarctica to trekking the Himalayas.

As an educator with California teaching credentials, he has taught media production and technology arts as well as photography, art history and visual storytelling. He is an expert speaker on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. Indeed, he walked in Vincent Van Gogh’s footsteps through the Netherlands, Belgium, and France in order to immerse himself in that troubled master’s vision.

The father of two grown children, Saint James once owned a café in Berkeley, California. He has bicycled from Las Vegas to Washington, D.C. and is rumored to play a mean blues harmonica.

Connect with Michael:  Website Twitter  ~  Pinterest

Disclosure of Material: I received this book for free, but the opinions I have expressed are my own.

May 6, 2015 at 9:00 AM Leave a comment

Book Review: Donkey’s Kite & The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully Donkey

Donkey's Kite

Book Description:

The three horses Jack, Max, Lax and their friend Donkey are back!

In Horse Valley, it’s a perfect day to go kite flying. Jack, Max, Lax, and Donkey decide to get creative by putting together their own homemade kites. However, Donkey‘s kite doesn’t work. No matter how hard he tries to get it to fly, it just keeps tumbling to the ground. How will poor Donkey get his kite to fly? A friendly goose named Gusty is delighted to help him out.

In this Horse Valley Adventure, Donkey learns not to give up when all seems hopeless. The friends all learn a lesson about helping others and true friendship.

My Thoughts:

There are a number of valuable lessons in this book including teaching children the importance of being kind to others and taking the time to help those in need.

None of Donkey’s friends seem to notice that he built a kite that can’t fly. Donkey asks for assistance, but Jack is too busy coloring his kite, Lax is too busy bragging to his friends and Max is too busy eating to help. When Donkey feels discouraged there is no one around to help and just when you think his day can’t possibly get any worse he wanders off sadly and encounters a goose that ruthlessly teases him.

Luckily a magnificent and beautiful bird named Gusty comes to his rescue. Gusty puts the nasty goose back in his place and offers to help with Donkey’s kite. There is an important lesson in the exchange between Gusty and Donkey. Gusty recognizes Donkey’s distress and is eager to take the time to help Donkey feel better about himself.

I like that this book teaches children the importance of looking out for others. Despite being busy any one of Donkey’s friends could have offered to help him or at the very least offered to help him after they were finished working on their own kites. Unfortunately, they were all so busy they didn’t realize how sad their friend had become.

This book focuses on the importance of empathy. Even very young children can learn to recognize the thoughts and feelings of their friends and family members. When Donkey’s friends eventually realize just how sad their friend has become they all pitch in to help him build a truly magnificent kite.

This book is a follow up to the story The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully Donkey. In the original story the Donkey is actually the bully. Although the bullying section of this book is quite small, (just a few pages  compared to the original), I like how the author turned the tables on the characters and made the Donkey realize just how painful it is to be picked on. Despite the fact that Donkey no longer picks on others it is an important reminder to choose kindness over cruelty.

We all know childhood can be an extremely emotional and difficult time. This book will help children realize just how hurtful their words and actions can be on those around them.

While it is certainly important to be aware of the thoughts and feelings of others it is equally important to answer their calls for help. I think both books would make a great introduction to bullying and the importance of being kind.

Author’s Bio:

Liana-Melissa Allen is a young author and illustrator of children’s books and books for youth. She has written, illustrated and published six books. Her most recent one is the colorfully illustrated children’s book “Donkey‘s Kite“, the second book of “A Horse Valley Adventure” series. The first was “The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully Donkey“. The lovable cartoon characters, Max, Lax, Jack and Donkey makes them a favorite of first and second grade students. She is now working on her third book of “A Horse Valley Adventure”.

The magical world of fantasy has inspired Liana’s imagination since as long as she can remember. Part of this was fueled by her dad reading aloud to her every day when she was younger. As a result, reading is her primary passion along with music. These two passions feed her imagination into stories and drawings, which she joyously sketches out into storyboards for a potential book.

Liana-Melissa is also a dedicated classical/jazz pianist, and mostly enjoys older music, especially from the big band era and the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. While playing the piano, her imagination often leads to a great amount of improvising. Frequently, Liana will improvise a theme for one of the stories she is writing. Capturing this improvised music became a priority, which ultimately resulted in theme music for “A Horse Valley Adventure”. The “Horse Valley” theme will be used for a short animated video featuring her Horse Valley characters.

Liana-Melissa loves to hear from her young readers. Please visit her website at www.lmabooks.com for more information, and to contact her by email. Visit her on Facebook too.

Disclosure of Material: I received this book for free, but the opinions I have expressed are my own.

April 10, 2015 at 9:00 AM Leave a comment

Book Review: Aoléon The Martian Girl: A Science Fiction and Fantasy Saga – Part 4

Aoleon The Martian Girl Part Four
Book Description:
Aoleon and Gilbert have become the Luminon’s top priority in stopping the Martian resistance movement, and after being chased by the Royal Paladin Guard, they are forced to flee the Martian Megalopolis. Aoléon, Gilbert and Zoot escape with the help of Bizwat and his newly found friend, Helios, a first generation soldierbot.
After their saucer is destroyed, they crash land somewhere in the deep Martian desert, and they set out to locate Kyrios and the secret base where Aoleon’s parents are being held captive.After battling the forces of nature, starvation, a Klyklon dust storm, (and not to mention a giant slor that almost swallows them alive), they finally make it to their destination. However, after Kyrios gives Gilbert some basic training to develop his budding psionic power, they learn that their journey is far from over.

Will Aoléon, Glbert, Bizwat, Helios, and Zoot be able to rescue Aoleon’s parents and stop the Martian invasion of Earth in time?

My Thoughts:

Part Four of the Aoléon Martian Girl contained much fewer action scenes than the previous segments.  While parts one, two and three were packed with adventure part four focused much less on action and much more on character development.

There seemed to be deeper lessons in these chapters. For example, when Bizwat, Aoléon and Gilbert are lost in the dessert Aoléon says “just follow the yellow-brick road. Wouldn’t that not be nice… to have a golden path all laid out before us to follow. If only life were that way,” but Bizwat quickly replies “Life would be pretty boring if it were laid out in advance. It would lose all of its sense of adventure.”

I like the way this sentiment is expressed to the middle-school children who are the intended audience of this story. As kids we often want to take the easy path in life. We want to know exactly what will happen today, tomorrow and into the future. I like Bizwat’s clear-cut approach to the unknown; excitement comes from NOT knowing what’s around every corner. There are so many adventures and events we experience in our lives that we never could have predicted as children.

I also enjoyed reading Bizwat’s thoughts on what it means to be a soldier. He says, “Being a soldier is not about blindly following orders, it is following orders in the service of a higher cause. When that cause is betrayed we are no longer soldiers, just mindless drones dying for the wrong reasons. That faith has clearly been betrayed.” There are many books, movies and video games that depict military sequences and soldiers, but I’m not sure how often children think about the missions or lessons of those games. I like how Bizwat clarifies his desire to follow a higher cause. To do the right thing so that when he dies, he dies without regret. Bizwat makes mention of a higher purpose and talks ever so briefly about having faith.

There seemed to be a lot more in-depth conversations between characters in part four of the series and I enjoyed learning more about the characters and their motivations. This book is not just about aliens and space battles it is also about human connection. When Gilbert talks about divorce, Aoléon says, “being telepathic forces us to embrace our vulnerabilities. It is what makes us real and bonds us together.” It’s certainly an interesting idea. After all, if you cannot hide your emotions, thoughts and feelings then it’s easy to see how stronger one-on-one connections would exist.

I enjoyed part four of this series on a deeper level than the previous three and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Meet the Author:

Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys. He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel. He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

Connect with Brent:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Aoléon: The Martian Girl

Disclosure of Material: I received this book for free, but the opinions I have expressed are my own.

April 10, 2015 at 9:00 AM Leave a comment

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