Posts filed under ‘book review’

Book Review: Someone Died Now What

someone died

Book Description: 

Someone Died… Now What? is a GPS for grieving. Corrie Sirota provides Guidance, Perspective and Support to help navigate through the grief process. Whether someone you love has died or someone you know is struggling with a loss, this book addresses many of the issues and questions that surface, providing concrete assistance on what to do immediately following a death, how to deal with feelings of sadness, anger and guilt, non-death losses and how to support grieving children. You will learn that grief is an ongoing process, and is as unique and individual as you are.

Link to Montreal Gazette:    Article

My Thoughts:
Our fifteen year old cat died earlier this year. I mourned for his loss, as any pet owner would do. My husband and I knew what needed to be done, but it didn’t make it any easier to take him to the veterinarian in the morning. While I struggled with my own feelings I struggled even more over the discussion that would take place with my three year old son.

How do you talk to a child about death? I wanted to be honest with my son but I wasn’t sure what to say. I told him the truth. That his dad took the cat to the vet, but that he was very sick and couldn’t be cured. As a result the cat died. I made certain not to tell him that our cat went to live on a farm or that the cat went to sleep, but of course, a three year old doesn’t exactly understand death. As I cried telling him what happened he said “It’s okay if you’re sad mommy. If you’re really sad just bring the kitty back home.”

So we talked about what it means to die. We talked about the flowers we bring home from the store. How they stand tall and vibrant in the vase and then slowly wither and die. He brought up death in little bits and pieces after that. He pointed out plants that died or flowers that were wilting. He asked questions about the cat. When he struggled with the idea he asked again why the kitty couldn’t come home.

I am grateful that our first conversations about death involved our pet. My grandmother is ninety-two years old and it is quite possible that our next conversation about death will be about her.

Among the chapters in Someone Died… Now What? is a chapter specifically focused on speaking to children about death. There are many practical suggestions including talking to your children about life and death as a part of your everyday routine. That you are honest and speak with love. That you explain that death is irreversible, that you do so at eye level and that you ensure the child is surrounded by loved ones.

This book is extremely helpful in guiding the reader through the grieving process or helping others grieve. The author dispels the myths around what is or is not expected when one suffers a loss. She lists ways of speaking to those who are grieving including what you should and shouldn’t say and points out that everyone handles these situations in different ways.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. You never know when you will suffer a death of a loved one. You also never know when you will need to support someone who is suffering a loss. This book is a great reference to assist the grieving process.

Meet the author:

Corrie Sirota holds a Masters degree in Social Work as well as a Graduate Certificate in Loss and Bereavement from McGill University (Montreal) where she has been teaching as a lecturer in the School of Social Work for over 20 years. Corrie is a licensed psychotherapist who currently maintains a private practice specializing in Loss and Bereavement, Parenting issues and Relationship issues. She is a well-known lecturer who regularly presents at conferences and workshops, both locally and abroad. Working in the Montreal Community for over 2 decades, Corrie has developed numerous prevention and intervention programs for families, children and professionals, students and various community agencies as well as Day and Residential Camps.

Corrie has also written numerous articles and blog posts and is regularly interviewed on local radio, news and TV programs to consult on issues relating to loss and bereavement, Child Development and Parenting.

To learn more information about Corrie Sirota visit her website

Connect with the author: Website  Twitter  Facebook

October 7, 2015 at 8:00 AM 1 comment

Book Review: Inspector Dewey

Inspector Dewey

Book Description:

My name is DeweyInspector Dewey.

I live in the big green house on Hampshire Avenue with my family: Thumper, Lily, and Anna. I am the Big Cat—responsible for keeping everyone safe and in order. I do this quite well, in spite of the fact that managing my family is like, well, herding cats!

Mostly our life is peaceful. But one night it wasn’t. That was the night the bad guy showed up on our block. Of course, I knew exactly how to outsmart the outlaw, but—miserable mullet!—would Anna and the police understand my instructions?

To find out how the adventure ended, you’ll have to read my book. But I’ll give you a hint: there’s a reason I’m called Inspector Dewey.

Fifty percent of the profits from the sale of this book will fund veterinary care for pets whose families are in financial need, so that the animals can remain in their homes and out of the shelter system.

My Thoughts:

My oldest son loves to read. As a small child he would stare at the pages of a book and let me choose board book after board book from his tiny library until the pile of books was as tall as he was. Every morning, from the time he was twenty-two months old until the time he turned three, he would climb into my bed and settle in to read three stories. When those three stories were finished he would scurry off my bed, choose three more, (with my assistance), and climb back on the bed. We could spend an hour reading together that way each morning.

I loved snuggly beside him. He awoke in those warm, footed pajamas with his hair all messy and disheveled. He would borrow his head into the crook of my arm and rest quietly against my chest. Back then we went to the library once a week, but never picked up books. He had a few favorites that he wanted to read day after day and showed no interest in adding new ones to the list.

These days he loves to read new library selections and is filled with over-the-moon excitement when we receive a book he can keep. Inspector Dewey is a gorgeous book. My words honestly cannot provide justice the beauty with which the cats and their owner Anna are depicted. There is a hazy, almost dream-filled way in which they are drawn.

My son loved the story about a crime solving cat. It’s told from Dewey’s perspective and Dewey is one smart creature with great telepathic powers that help Anna and the police figure out exactly what to do to catch a thief.

Our family recently lost our beloved cat of over fifteen years, so reading about Dewey and his family is a great way to remember our own cat and imagine all the thoughts he might have had if presented with a similar situation.

This is a beautiful story for any child, but might be particularly special for a child with cats of his or her own.
Meet the author:

Marketing Officer, Strategy Expert, Innovator and Brand Builder, Kristen’s business career spans 20+ years serving the biggest brands in industry and the biggest hearts of start-ups and entrepreneurs. Kristen revels in bringing compelling products and services to life and helping leaders and individuals with big dreams realize their big goals.Kristen’s life joys include her 2+ year obsession creating the most beautiful self-published picture book possible, the breathtaking forests and lakes of her Minnesota birthplace, the family that really does love her no matter what, and her three magnificent Norwegian Forest Cats who together, with Kristen, helped catch the bad guy on their block that inspired her upcoming book (stake out and high speed chase included!)

She holds a master of science in eCommerce from Carnegie Mellon University, an MBA from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, and a BA from the University of St. Thomas. As the great transformer in her life, Kristen supports others’ education and literacy as an adjunct professor of business and strategy and, more recently, through her children’s book, Inspector Dewey (Available September 2015).

Connect with Kristen:   Website  ~   Facebook Author  ~   Facebook Inspector Dewey  

Author Interview:

What genre do you write and why?

Picture books played an important role in my development as a child. They still influence me today. I collect them by the dozens, reading them as others read novels. I can’t imagine creating anything other than picture books—I love the marriage of words and visuals too much.

I am inspired by experiences—beautiful, emotion-packed, multisensory experiences. These are the things that memories are made of. And no book imparts a 360-degree sensory experience for me more so than the picture book choicefully designed to be read aloud by parent to child—with cherry-picked words, cadence, rhyming, alliteration and, of course, illustrations, those masterful swoops of the brush that add texture and beauty to the story, bringing it to life.

What are you working on now?

Right now, Lily’s silliness and certainty have taken hold of my heart. She’s a kind-hearted kitty who earnestly believes that she is the center of the universe. Her life isn’t too shabby—everyone should have days as delicious as Lily’s! So I started writing short little ditties about the silly, Lily-centered things she does to pass her time. I would love for these to turn into a picture book for young readers. However, I realize, as her human, I may be a little bit biased about her adorableness. Thank goodness my editor is a genius with a gentle touch—she’ll set me straight!

I’m also documenting my book journey online for Children’s Writer’s Guild ( It’s a monthly series that kicked off in July 2015 entitled “Trailing Joy.” I named it that because it was my emotions, and only my emotions, that propelled me to pursue the absolutely glorious, but highly impractical and unpredictable, journey of book creation.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or paper/hard back books?

A traditionalist, I refused to welcome the e-book into my life for a long time. Then the desire for immediacy got the best of me. When that first e-book graced my device the instant I pressed “go,” I was hooked. To this day, I’m an e-book buyer, albeit selectively. Speed, travel convenience, variety, and cost—e-books have advantages on all of these fronts. But the fact is, I prefer real books—the kind I can touch, smell, and feel their heft in my hand and their comfort on my pillow. My favorites grace the bookshelves in my home. They remind me where I’ve been, what I am thankful for, and what I dream for the future.

What is your favorite travel spot?

My favorite travel spot is the place I have not yet visited! I love to travel. My parents were responsible for instilling wanderlust in me at a very young age: I was hooked after my first trip abroad. I’ve been traveling ever since. I love exploring diverse cultures—the more different from my own, the better. People, history, architecture, food culture, and, well . . . experiencing and learning anything new excites me. Right now, I feel strongly that I need to get to India. But I’m not terribly picky. I’m all smiles anytime I can pack a bag, grab some Pearson’s Salted Nut Bars, and jump in my car on a road trip with family or friends. Anywhere will do—especially if there are homespun diners, antique shops, and historical markers along the way.

What is your favorite positive saying?

Ooh, tough. I believe fundamentally in the power of one’s environment to help or hinder one’s growth. To the best that I am able, I create a beautiful, supportive environment around me so that I can be my best. Practically, this means a clean house, fresh flowers when I feel like it, and a tidy to-do list. It also means being willing to let go of naysayers and soul-sappers, and the courage to walk away from harmful cultures—work or otherwise.

When it comes to positive sayings, I don’t think I could choose just one. I have hundreds, even thousands of sayings and quotes that I love. I collect them from books, online, and my own inspirations. I pin at least one or two each day on Pinterest as a reminder to me that, in life, it’s all mind over matter. Thoughts are things. I collect the good ones to keep the negative ones at bay.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I spent a good portion of my early life trying to do and be what was expected of me or believed to be in my best interests—by my family, my friends, our society, and culture. My advice to my younger self would be quite simply: Trust yourself. That inner voice of yours is divine. Follow it, and you will discover your dreams and live the life you were meant to live.


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September 28, 2015 at 8:00 AM 1 comment

Book Review: Lola’s Money

Lola's Money

Book Description:

Lola French is stunned when she wins millions on the Lottery, and she is sure all her dreams are about to come true. However, right from the start, before she even claims her winnings, things begin to change and she separates abruptly and acrimoniously from the man she has been living with.

Lola’s colleagues are initially pleased for her, but eventually begin to resent her new status. One of them, Tom, whom she really likes, asks her out; but he does it on the day that news of her win spreads through the office and she sadly turns him down. She decides to leave her job as a Financial Adviser in Edinburgh and explore the limitless possibilities of her new lifestyle.

When Lola and her mother excitedly set off on a Mediterranean cruise, it’s not long before they both meet men they are interested in. However, their holiday of a lifetime catapults them into a life-changing sequence of dramatic and terrifying events that neither of them will ever forget. When she has to return to reality, Lola unexpectedly finds herself involved with Tom again! But the storm clouds are looming overhead, and as the recent past catches up with her and forces her to confront violence and danger once more, Lola risks losing Tom forever.

About the author:

Rosanna Rae is married with three grown-up sons and lives in Livingston, Scotland. She has a B.A. (Open) in Social Science subjects and also took a writing course with The Writers Bureau some years ago. She spent 16 years at home raising her family and then returned to full-time secretarial employment in Edinburgh.

Rosanna has wanted to write fiction since she was ten years of age, after reading an abridged version of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. She is delighted to be now fulfilling that early ambition.

Lola‘s Money‘ is the author’s fifth novel; she is currently writing her sixth book.

My Thoughts:

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you won the lottery? What relationships might change? Where you might live? What you might do and where you might go with all that money?

We’ve all heard the adage money doesn’t buy happiness. We all know lottery winners often end up destitute and broke yet most of us wouldn’t mind laying out hands on a winning ticket.

In Lola’s Money the main character Lola French’s life changes dramatically when she watches television and realizes she’s won the lottery. Unfortunately that lottery ticket brings heartache rather than happiness.

As a writer of a personal finance blog I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The first chapter captured my attention as Lola discovers she’s won and immediately leaves her boyfriend behind in dramatic fashion. She leaves her world behind and gathers her mom for an on the seas adventure.

My husband always says I’d rather win money then earn it. He’s partially right. There is a lot of excitement and thrill in winning.

I don’t play the lottery but I have wondered what I’d do with a windfall. This book is s lot of fun to read for those who joke about winning the lottery.

Money doesn’t grant your every wish and sometimes it makes life rather complicated and messy.

Connect with the author:    Website  ~   Facebook  ~  Twitter

August 26, 2015 at 8:00 AM 1 comment

Book Review: No Poverty Between the Sheets

No Poverty Between the Sheets

Book Description:

This book documents the strong ties that bind generations together. When the author poses the question to her Irish Granny, “If you were so poor why did you have ten children?” Says she, “To be certain, there was no poverty between the sheets!” This sassy saga of a large family that is half Irish and half French Canadian captures hilarious voices and comical antics of a vibrant family that is cloaked in love. A horse theme and song lyrics are neatly knitted throughout the layers of generations.

My Thoughts:

This is a memoir of a tight knit Irish family. The author highlights many different members of the family over generations and includes cute little catch phrases and conversations amongst the members. The title of the book is a great example of those catchy phrases; “no poverty between the sheets” immediately caught my attention.

I would imagine that the author’s family enjoyed reading this book. Not all of the family members have been highlighted in the best light, but I bet it would be interesting to reflect on past events, especially as they are being told from the author’s perspective.

I’ve always thought of writing a memoir and I would LOVE to watch the faces of family members as they read the details of prior events and envision those events through my eyes.

Unfortunately, as a common reader, and clearer not a family member, I found little interest in the stories that were told.

I received this book in the mail just as my youngest went down for a nap. I picked a cozy spot on the couch, poured a glass of ice water and started reading, but the book did not capture my interest the way I expected. I enjoy reading all sorts of genres and topics, but this book was simply not my cup of tea.

I’ll be honest; I gave up on reading this book all at once time and read a chapter a day for a couple of days. I was able to finish the book but never found much interest in the stories that were told.

Meet the Author:

Pauline Kiely has been an avid student of Creative Writing her entire life. This author has consistently taken various courses and workshops offered at University of Toronto and Trent Universities. A year long memoir course with Susan Reynolds brought out this witty honest voice that shoots straight from the hip aiming for the heart.

Connect with the author:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

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August 20, 2015 at 8:00 AM Leave a comment

Book Review: Calming the 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 ( 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:

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

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