Review: The Blue Zones Kitchen, by Dan Buettner

The-Blue-Zones-Kitchen-coverAbout the Book: The Blue Zones Kitchen

• Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic; 1 edition (December 3, 2019)

Best-selling author Dan Buettner debuts his first cookbook, filled with 100 longevity recipes inspired by the Blue Zones locations around the world, where people live the longest.

Building on decades of research, longevity expert Dan Buettner has gathered 100 recipes inspired by the Blue Zones, home to the healthiest and happiest communities in the world. Each dish–for example, Sardinian Herbed Lentil Minestrone; Costa Rican Hearts of Palm Ceviche; Cornmeal Waffles from Loma Linda, California; and Okinawan Sweet Potatoes–uses ingredients and cooking methods proven to increase longevity, wellness, and mental health. Complemented by mouthwatering photography, the recipes also include lifestyle tips (including the best times to eat dinner and proper portion sizes), all gleaned from countries as far away as Japan and as near as Blue Zones project cities in Texas. Innovative, easy to follow, and delicious, these healthy living recipes make the Blue Zones lifestyle even more attainable, thereby improving your health, extending your life, and filling your kitchen with happiness.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


Dan-Buettner-APAbout the author, Dan Buettner

Dan Buettner is the founder of Blue Zones, an organization that helps Americans live longer, healthier lives. His groundbreaking work on longevity led to his 2005 National Geographic cover story “Secrets of Living Longer” and two national bestsellers, The Blue Zones and Thrive. He lives in Minneapolis, MN.

Connect with Dan:

Visit him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and at his website bluezones.com


MissMeliss2020My Thoughts

The Blue Zones Kitchen is a beautiful cookbook with fantastic pictures and a hundred recipes from different “blue zones” around the world. What are blue zones? They’re regions that the author has identified as having populations with above average longevity and health.  Along with diet, the theory is that these people are longer-lived because walking is their primary source of transportation, they have a strong sense of community, and while their diets are not completely vegan, they are mostly plant-based with occasional meat and fish, and minimal dairy.

The regions highlighted in this cookbook are:

  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Nicola, Costa Rica
  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Loma Linda, California

In each section, author Dan Buettner talks about about the customs and cultures of the region, and what their staple foods are, and then shares a selection of recipes specific to that region. So far, tried a couple of the Sardinian vegetable dishes and found them really tasty. As a mid-level foodie and kitchen improvisor who tries to eat mindfully (though I’m not a vegetarian), I found this cookbook really expanded my idea of meat-free eating. It uses a lot of fresh vegetables and regional seasonings – the Okinawa section might be my favorite once I have time to explore those offerings – though some of those seasonings could be difficult for people outside of major cities to find.

The instructions for each recipe are well organized, though they do assume you have a basic knowledge of cooking. The level of difficulty varies with each recipe, but since most use vegetables – and especially beans – nothing is hugely complicated.

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan looking for more variety in the dishes you serve, this book is ideal. If you’re a mindful omnivore, like me, who wants to broaden their culinary repertoire, it’s also a good bet.

Goes  well with a rainy afternoon and a freshly-arrived community supported agriculture box.


TLC BOOK TOURSTour Stops for The Blue Zones Kitchen

Tuesday, February 18th: Man of La Book

Wednesday, February 19th: Read. Eat. Repeat.

Thursday, February 20th: Instagram: @books_with_bethany

Monday, February 24th: Run Wright

Tuesday, February 25th: Instagram: @jenabrownwrites

Thursday, February 27th: Instagram: @thelastbiteblog

Friday, February 28th: Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader

Monday, March 2nd: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, March 3rd: Living My Best Book Life

Wednesday, March 4th: Eliot’s Eats

Thursday, March 5th: Kahakai Kitchen

Friday, March 6th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, March 9th: PNW Pixie

Monday, March 30th: Bibliotica

Review: Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds, by Nick Albert

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds

Fresh Eggs KindleAbout the book, Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds

Nick and Lesley Albert yearn to leave the noise, stress and pollution of modern Britain and move to the countryside, where the living is good, the air sweet, with space for their dogs to run free. Suddenly out of work and soon to be homeless, they set off in search of a new life in Ireland, a country they had never visited. As their adventure began to unfold, not everything went according to plan. If finding their dream house was difficult, buying it seemed almost impossible. How would they cope with banks that didn’t want customers, builders who didn’t need work, or the complex issue of where to buy some chickens?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Paperback (Amazon UK) | Paperback (Amazon US) | Kindle (Amazon UK) | Kindle (Amazon US) | Audible (UK) | Audible (US) | Goodreads


Fresh Eggs Author ireland 3 004About the author, Nick Albert

Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980’s he qualified and began coaching sport professionally. After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland – a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs.

In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in early 2020.

Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.

Connect with Nick:

Website | All Author | Amazon | Facebook (Personal) | Facebook (Page) | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube


MissMeliss2020My Thoughts

For almost my entire adult life, I’ve loved stories of people moving to new places and building or refurbishing their homes. Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence was my “gateway book” in this respect, but since then, I’ve read many others.

It should be no surprise, then, that when given the opportunity to read and review Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds, the first book in Nick Albert’s saga of moving from England to Ireland to revamp, not only a “secondhand” home, but also his own life, I leapt at the chance with all the excitement of a dog chasing a tennis ball. (Like one of Nick’s dogs, mine are into the chase, but not so good at the retrieval part of the game.)

I was immediately absorbed by Nick’s story. He’s candid about the less pleasant aspects of his life – facing repeated staff reductions at work and being the lone survivor (something my husband has gone through more than once) – and then choosing the redundancy package so that he could make a fresh start. (Is it just me, or do these things sound more civilized when phrased in British English instead of American?)

I laughed at the bit where he described the pushpin-and-atlas method of choosing a new place to live to his (adult) daughter (to be fair, this method did not work), and nodded in sympathetic understanding at every mention of a contractor whose work was dependent on other contractors’ work being done, or who couldn’t meet a deadline, having heard similar stories from my own parents when they retired to Baja California Sur, Mexico, twenty years ago (in their case, they refurbished one house, built their second, and then sold that and built their last house, which my mother just sold in the aftermath of my stepfather’s death).

Nick is an engaging storyteller. I felt like I was experiencing all these life changes with him. I could feel the rain, breathe in the wind, and smell the distinctive odor of a dog who has rolled in something disgusting. I was disappointed when I came to the end of this first volume, and then delighted when I realized two sequels are already available, and a third will be coming out later this year.

If you are the kind of person who sees those Facebook ads to buy an island in Scotland, or who fantasizes about moving to Italy every time you catch a few minutes of Under the Tuscan Sun, you will love this book. If you don’t do either of those things, you will still find Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds a worthy read, because of the warmth, honesty and humor with which it was written.

Goes well with cottage pie and a pint of ale.

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds Full Tour Banner

 

 

Spotlight on The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later, by Barbara Barth, with Guest Post

The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years LaterAbout the book, The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later

  • Print Length: 374 pages
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, LLC
  • ASIN: B07YBNHXZG
  • Scroll down for Guest Post and Tour Info

Picking up where The Unfaithful Widow ended, Ten Years Later continues the author’s journey from widow to a slightly askew woman. A memoir written with warmth and candor on being single again, aging, and finding a creative path surrounded by dogs, friends, laughter, and a bit of craziness. Barbara Barth shares stories on the adventures that followed her first year alone as she moved headfirst into a new life, listening to her heart, sometimes not so wisely, but always full speed ahead. Join her on the ride of her life, from owning an antique shop to moving to a Victorian cottage outside of Atlanta, and all the follies in between. Going into the next decade with six dogs by her side, the author proves you are only as old as you feel, and happiness begins with a grateful heart. A funny and engaging memoir for anyone who wants to be their own superhero facing life’s good and bad moments.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


Barbara BarthAbout the author, Barbara Barth

Author, blogger, sometimes antique dealer, dog hoarder, bedazzled by life. Widowed ten years ago, Barth writes about finding a creative path back to happiness. Her recent move to a 1906 historic cottage brought many surprises, including discovering the Monroe–Walton Center for the Arts where she started the monthly Walton Writers group and is on the MWCA Board as Literary Arts Chair. Barth is a contributor to Walton Living Magazine and a former blogger for The Balancing Act, Lifetime Television’s morning show for women. Currently she lives with six dogs, rescue dogs that rescued her.

Connect with Barbara

Website | Amazon | Twitter


Guest Post from Barbara Barth

Grief Over the Years and Finding Happiness Again

Writing about grief is a tough subject. Everyone handles it in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to move forward. My memoirs are only my stories, but I hope they make people laugh and see they are not alone with their sadness, loneliness, or crazy way of dealing with life.

A recent review on Amazon written by a friend made me stop and think about the past ten years (the subject of my new memoir).  I’m sharing it with you here because it speaks better than anything I could write.

“Barbara Barth lost her husband, her mother, and three dogs she loved. Most of an inheritance she had was a casualty of several business ventures that were not financial successes–though she tells us they were successful in other ways. She endured three major surgeries, including a hip operation that went badly wrong putting her temporarily in the Nursing Home From Hell. Given all that, you would expect this book to be a sad or depressing book. Yet it is anything but. Ms. Barth deals with her troubles and with life in general with good grace and a quirky sense of humor and a spirited will to live a creative life come what may. As long as there are dogs.”

Of course, my initial reaction to that list made me think I sounded like a darn train wreck. Then I smiled. The important part of that review are the final words; good grace and quirky humor, and of course, the dogs.

I have a passion for art, writing (which was new to me after I lost my husband), books, antiques, dogs, and making new friends. Keeping busy, doing all the things I loved, helped me find myself again. I wanted to do something I’d never done before (writing) to make sense of my loss and the year I had my shop (2011) brought many creative people into my life. I felt full of purpose, and purpose is a powerful drug for me.

The loss of my mother in 2016 changed things again. She was always in my corner with all the crazy things I did, and we had writing in common. At 84 she started writing again (she wrote when we were kids) and we shared our stories at night. We talked every evening on the phone and, as her health declined, sometimes several times a day. I didn’t always like calling her at 10 PM, which I did even if I was out with friends, but I knew how much she looked forward to hearing another voice at night. My nights are quieter now without those calls, but if I get lonely, I pick up the phone and find a friend to laugh with. Friends are my lifeline and I treasure mine.

My only advice, if you call it advice, is to stay involved with life. Do what you love, be it art or writing or dancing or grandkids. We all have those buttons that make us happy. Press those buttons and carry on the best you can. Take all the time you need to heal but reach out to life and friends, even if it is only baby steps until you feel grounded again.


Visit the Other Great Stops on this Tour

Today @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us in celebrating the launch of Barbara Barth’s new book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

 

November 12th @ All Things Audry

Author Barbara Barth is a guest writer over at Audry’s blog today and will be talking about women friendships.

http://allthingsaudry.blogspot.com/

 

November 13th @ Words from the Heart

Stop by Linda’s blog and you can read a guest post by Barbara Barth about publishing anthologies.

https://contemplativeed.blogspot.com/

 

November 14th @ Thoughts in Progress

Visit Mason’s blog today and you can read Barbara’s guest post about starting a writing group. Don’t miss it!

https://masoncanyon.blogspot.com/

 

November 15th @ The World of My Imagination

Visit Nicole’s blog and read her review of Barbara Barth’s book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

 

November 16th @ Lori Duff Writes

Stop by Lori’s blog today where you can read her interview with Barbara Barth and read her review of Barbara’s book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

https://www.loriduffwrites.com/blog/

 

November 16th @ Jill Sheets Blog

Visit Jill’s blog today and you can read Barbara Barth’s guest post about self-publishing.

https://jillsheets.blogspot.com.

 

November 17th @ A Storybook World

Be sure to stop by Deirdra’s blog today and check out her spotlight of the book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later and enter to win a copy of the book!

http://www.astorybookworld.com

 

November 18th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Be sure you visit Bev’s blog and read Barbara Barth’s guest post about starting over at 70. You won’t want to miss this!

http://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com

 

November 19th @ Look to the Western Sky

Be sure to visit Margo’s blog and read her interview with author Barbara Barth. Don’t miss it!

https://margoldill.com/blog

 

November 20th @ Anthony Avina’s Blog

Make sure you visit Anthony’s blog today and read Barbara Barth’s guest post about publishing anthologies.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

 

November 21st @ Cassandra’s Writing World

Stop by Cassandra’s blog today and read her review of The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later. You can also enter to win a copy of the book as well!

https://cassandra-mywritingworld.blogspot.com/

 

November 22nd @ Karen Brown Tyson’s Blog

Join us at Karen Brown Tyson’s blog where you can read a guest post about self-publishing by author Barbara Barth. Don’t miss it!

http://www.karenbrowntyson.com

 

November 23rd @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Visit Bev’s blog again and you can read her review of Barbara Barth’s book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

http://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com

 

November 24th @ Choices

Be sure to stop by Madeline’s blog and read Barbara Barth’s guest post that will be talking about women friendships.

http://madelinesharples.com/

 

November 25th @ Wild Woman Writer

Visit Anne’s blog today and you can read Barbara Barth’s blog guest post about starting over at 70.

https://wildwomanwriter2018.blogspot.com/

 

November 26th @ Life Like A Galaxy Girl

Stop by Alanna’s blog today and you can read her review of Barbara Barth’s memoir The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

http://lifelikeagalaxygirl.com/

 

November 27th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews

Visit Lisa’s blog today and you can read her interview with author Barbara Barth and find out more about this incredible author!

http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

 

November 28th @ Bibliotica

Stop by Melissa’s blog and make sure you read Barbara Barth’s guest post about grief over the years and finding happiness again.

https://www.bibliotica.com/

 

November 29th @ Stranded in Chaos

Visit Sara’s blog and you can read her review of Barbara Barth’s book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

https://strandupdate.blogspot.com/

 

November 30th @ Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog again and read his review of Barbara Barth’s book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

 

December 1st @ Words from the Heart

Visit Linda’s blog and read her review of Barbara Barth’s book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later. 

https://contemplativeed.blogspot.com

 

December 2nd @ Women’s Writing Circle

Stop by the blog Women’s Writing Circle and you can read a guest post by Barbara Barth about adopting dogs while all her friends are having grandkids. Don’t miss this one!

http://www.susanweidener.com/

The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later

Review: Beyond the Horizon, by Ella Carey – with Giveaway

BNR Beyond the Horizon

About the book, Beyond the Horizon

  • Historical Fiction / Friendship
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
  • Date of Publication: October 15, 2019
  • Number of Pages: 326
  • Scroll down for the giveaway!

Beyond the HorizonFrom the author of The House by the Lake comes a powerful novel of friendship during World War II, fighting for the truth, and making peace with the past.

At the height of World War II, Eva Scott’s dream comes true. Accepted into the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), she leaves balmy California and the man she loves for grueling training in Texas, ultimately landing at formidable Camp Davis in North Carolina.

Vastly outnumbered by men and amid contempt, discrimination, and sabotage, Eva and her closest friends, the unconventional Nina and straight-laced Helena, remain loyal to their mission and to each other. They stay focused on the horizon, determined to prove themselves capable women pilots. Until a fatal mission sends Eva’s dream crashing to earth . . .

Now, decades later, is it possible to discover the truth about the night that changed her life? Is there any hope she’ll recover all that she’s lost? When Eva finds herself embroiled in the fight to get military recognition for the WASP, she’s forced to confront the past, and to make a decision that could forever change her future.

Thrilling and inspiring, Beyond the Horizon is a portrait of love, friendship, and valor in a time of war—and a tribute to the brave women who risked their lives for their country.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


Praise for Beyond the Horizon

Pull Quote - Beyond the Horizon

“With snappy dialogue, impressive historical details, a sense of adventure and courage on every page, and even a love story, Ella Carey has hit all the markers that make fine historical fiction.”

—Ann Howard Creel, bestselling author of The Whiskey Sea

“Fans of inspirational World War II fiction will cheer on Eva and her fellow pilots as they chase their dreams, endure heartbreak, and discover their true strength. Carey’s evocative descriptions bring home the exhilaration of flight—and the everyday indignities endured by young women who challenged the expectations of their time. The story’s final twist makes for a surprising and moving conclusion.” —Elizabeth Blackwell, author of On a Cold Dark Sea and In the Shadow of Lakecrest

“A moving, beautifully written novel about the amazing WASP during WWII. True to life and packed full of emotion. I thoroughly enjoyed feeling like I was one of these extraordinary women pilots as I read the story.” —Soraya M. Lane, Amazon Charts bestselling author of The Girls of Pearl Harbor


About the author, Ella Carey

Ella Carey is the international bestselling author of The Things We Don’t Say, Secret Shores, From a Paris Balcony, The House by the Lake, and Paris Time Capsule. Her books have been published in over fourteen countries, in twelve languages. Her sixth novel is Beyond The Horizon, set around the Women Air Force Service Pilots during World War Two.

Ella is incredibly excited to share this book with her readers, as her mother was a W.A.A.A.F during World War Two, and her father was in the R.A.F, flying airplanes over occupied France. Ella travelled to Sweetwater, Texas, to research the novel, and is grateful to Ann Hobing, the then Executive Director of the WASP museum for sharing her wonderful knowledge of the WASP. Ella also worked with two pilots to craft the flight scenes.

Ella loves to connect with her readers For more information on the background to her novels and updates about her next release, and to contact her about appearances at your local book club, please visit her website.

Connect with Ella:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | BookBub | Instagram | Twitter | Amazon Author Page


My Thoughts

melysse2019.jpgx100I’ve been reading and reviewing Ella Carey’s work since she published her very first novel, and I’ve been a fan of her work almost as long, so when I had the opportunity to read and review Beyond the Horizon, there was no question that I was excited to do so.

What I did not expect to find was a deep connection to the piece. This novel is about a woman named Eva who was a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) during World War II. Set in both the late 1970s, (which is now technically historical even though it’s when I grew up) against a Congressional commission to accept women pilots in the general air force, with flashbacks to the 40s and the war, this novel moves between time periods effortlessly. You always know when you are, but each period is written with equal vividness.

So, why the deep connection? I have a great-aunt who, while not a WASP, was an army medic in WWII, and, like Eva, part of her story involves the fact that the women who served in that war were not always given the appropriate acknowledgement for their contributions.

Even without a personal connection, this novel is a rich and fascinating read. It’s an historical adventure with a dash of romance – Eva’s only love is not the sky, after all – but it’s also a very human examination of the choices we make as we grow up, and grow older, and the compromises we sometimes make between our dreams and our necessities.

One detail that I really liked was the image of oranges, used in the opening scene at a 1977 farmers’ market and then in a flashback when the woman wanted oranges that were reserved for the men. Oranges seemed to be a symbol of freedom and identity in this novel, and it was a subtle touch I really appreciated.

Ella Carey’s novels are always well crafted, and this book is no exception. If you like stories that are both gentle and frank, while still compelling, read Beyond the Horizon.

Goes well with fresh oranges and cappuccino.


Giveaway

THREE PAPERBACK COPIES OF BEYOND THE HORIZON

OCTOBER 17-27, 2019

(U.S. Only)

Giveaway - Beyond the Horizon

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

10/17/19 Promo Texas Book Lover
10/17/19 Promo Hall Ways Blog
10/18/19 Review Sydney Young, Stories
10/19/19 Excerpt Forgotten Winds
10/21/19 Character Interview Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
10/21/19 Excerpt Chapter Break Book Blog
10/22/19 Guest Post Nerd Narration
10/23/19 Review StoreyBook Reviews
10/23/19 Review Book Fidelity
10/24/19 Excerpt That’s What She’s Reading
10/24/19 Scrapbook All the Ups and Downs
10/25/19 Review Reading by Moonlight
10/26/19 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
10/26/19 Review The Clueless Gent

Lone Star Lit

LSBBT

Spotlight: When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew, by Hendrika de Vries

WHEN A TOY DOG BECAME A WOLF...About the book: When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew

 

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • Publisher: She Writes Press (August 27, 2019)

Memoirist Embodies Resistance in Nazi-era Title

A nail-biting tale of female strength, spiritual resilience and resistance to evil that is relevant today. You won’t forget this beautifully written story ––Dr. Betsy Cohen, psychoanalyst

SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA – In her award-winning memoir When a Toy Dog Become a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew (She Writes Press, August 27, 2019), Hendrika de Vries focuses on the importance of female empowerment. A story of survival and the power of love, courage, and imagination in a time of violent oppression, Hendrika de Vries shows how the bond between mother-daughter is made stronger amidst subversive activities and acts of moral courage.

Born when girls were to be housewives and mothers, a Dutch “daddy’s girl” in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam learns about female empowerment when her father is deported to a POW camp in Germany and her mother joins the Resistance. Freedoms taken for granted are eroded with escalating brutality by men with swastika armbands who aim to exterminate those they deem “inferior” and those who do not obey.

Following de Vries’ journey from child- to woman-hood, When A Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew bears witness to the strength that flourishes despite oppression, the power of women existing beyond cultural gender roles of the time, and shows that memories hold the keys to the betterment of our future. A therapist for over thirty years, de Vries has used her experience healing the trauma of others’ to tap into her childhood memories of Nazi-occupation to empower others to stand up in the face of injustice.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads | She Writes Press


Hendrika de VriesAbout the author, Hendrika de Vries

Author of When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew, Hendrika de Vries’ life experiences, from the dark days of Nazi-occupied Amsterdam as a child, through her years as a swimming champion, young wife and mother in Australia, and a move to America in the sixties, have infused her work as a therapist, teacher, and writer. Hendrika holds a BA (with Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of Colorado, an MTS (cum laude) in theological studies from Virginia Theological Seminary, and an MA in counseling psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute.

Connect with Hendrika:

Website | Twitter


Praise for When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew

  • This beautifully crafted memoir reminds us that we are never far from oppression by those who wish to silence us.–– Maureen Murdock, author of The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness
  • She is a master storyteller. –– Dennis Patrick Slattery, Ph.D.
  • From the first page, DeVries’ book left me holding my breath at what she and her parents went through when the Nazis took over Amsterdam; one of the worst times in western history. When at age five, she lost a comfortable and safe world. DeVries’ storytelling makes this nonfiction book read like a good novel. Readers almost ‘live’ what she and her family experienced and how they rebuilt their life. – Nonfiction Authors Association Book Awards Program

WHEN A TOY DOG BECAME A WOLF...

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

 

Review: The Land of Last Chances, by Joan Cohen

The Land of Last ChancesAbout the book, The Land of Last Chances

 

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: She Writes Press (August 13, 2019)

Jeanne Bridgeton, an unmarried executive in her late forties, discovers life doesn’t begin and end on a spreadsheet when her expected menopause instead becomes an unexpected pregnancy. Though accomplished at managing risk professionally, Jeanne realizes her skills don’t extend to her personal life, where she has allowed the professional and the personal to become intertwined. She’s not even sure which of two men in her life is the father. Worse yet, a previously undisclosed family secret reveals that she may carry a rare hereditary gene for early-onset Alzheimer’s―and it’s too late to get genetic tests. This leaves Jeanne to cope with her intense fear of risk without the aid of the mountain of data she’s accustomed to relying upon. Wrestling with the question of whether her own needs, or those of her child, should prevail takes Jeanne on an intensely emotional journey―one that ultimately leads to growth and enlightenment.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Joan CohenAbout the author, Joan Cohen

Originally from Mount Vernon, New York, Joan Cohen received her BA from Cornell University and her MBA from New York University. She pursued a career in sales and marketing at computer hardware and software companies until she retired to return to school for an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has been a Massachusetts resident for many years, first living in Newton, where she raised her family, and later in Wayland. She now resides in Stockbridge, in the Berkshires, with her husband and golden retriever.

 


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

I was a little trepidatious about reading The Land of Last Chances. Novels that talk about things like aging and abortion can so often be preachy and insipid. What a relief to find that this was not the case with Joan Cohen’s wonderful creation!

Rather, this novel is a candid look at a woman in my age range (I turned 49 four days after this book was released) who is living a childfree existence, and suddenly finds herself pregnant rather than entering menopause, as she anticipated. That alone is enough to fill a plot, but Cohen has given our main character, Jeanne, so much else to deal with – more than one possible father for her baby, and the discovery of a family history of early-onset Alzheimer’s as well.

It could have all too easily become melodrama, but it didn’t. Rather, this novel is an emotionally truthful look at some very heavy issues, through the guise of fiction. Jeanne is a wonderfully realistic character, and feels like someone you could run into at work or at a coffee place, sometimes prickly, and sometimes engaging, always her own person. The supporting characters, and in particular Vince, are not quite as vivid, but were well-drawn, also.

Cohen’s plot was deftly crafted and perfectly paced. There was enough background to let us get to know the characters, but no so much that we were overloaded with unnecessary information. In short, this is a novel for adults, about adults, that covers adult themes, and it’s an extremely satisfying read in all respects.

Goes well with strong black tea and a tomato sandwich on multigrain bread.

Review: A Summer to Remember, by Victoria Cooke – with Giveaway (UK only)

A Summer To Remember

A Summer to RememberAbout the book, A Summer to Remember

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HQ Digital (September 19, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • Scroll down for giveaway!

Sam lives by the mantra that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

After the tragic loss of her husband, Sam built a new life around friends, her cat Coco and a career she loves. Fending off frequent set-ups and well-meaning advice to ‘move on’, Sam is resolutely happy being single.

But when Sam gets seconded to her firm’s Boston office for the summer, it is more than her career that is in for a shake-up. A spur of the moment decision to visit the idyllic beaches of Cape Cod could end up changing her life forever.

One thing is for sure, Sam won’t finish the summer the same woman who started it…

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Victoria CookeAbout the author, Victoria Cooke

Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the Pennines in pursuit of a career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield with her husband and two young daughters and when she’s not at home writing by the fire with a cup of coffee in hand, she loves working out in the gym and traveling. Victoria was first published at the tender age of eight by her classroom teacher who saw potential in a six-page story about an invisible man. Since then she’s always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking several writers’ courses before completing her first novel, ‘The Secret to Falling in Love,’ in 2016.

Her third novel, Who Needs Men Anyway? became a digital bestseller in 2018.

Connect with Victoria

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

This novel, A Summer to Remember, was my first introduction to Victoria Cooke’s work, but it was just the warm-hearted beach read I always enjoy picking up in between heavier pieces of literature. Even better, it has many scenes set in a cute coastal town with lovely, welcoming people of the type we all secretly wish would take us under their wings, pour cocktails down our throats, and become our new best friends when we most need a new perspective.

For main character Sam, a new perspective is precisely what she gets when she temporarily relocates from London to Boston for work. It’s an assignment she’s been wanting for the better part of a decade, ever since losing her husband in a tragic accident, but she gets off to a rocky start, and escapes to Provincetown on the weekend to soothe her soul at the beach.

It’s there where Sam meets and befriends an array of delightful characters – Harry and Barney chief among them – who become her American support system, giving her advice and shaking her out of her self-imposed bubble. It’s also there that she gets to know Ethan, our male lead.

In the last two years, my own family has seen a lot of death and loss – both of my in-laws and my own stepfather, as well as a member of my chosen family – and dealing with that grief, and watching my mother continue to deal with the loss of her life-partner – has been challenging, but it’s also made me a harsh critic of stories covering similar territory. Cooke handles both Sam’s and Ethan’s grief and healing with sensitivity and truthfulness that I found to be profoundly real and incredibly believable.

Yes, these are characters in a summer romance novel, and so their reality is a slightly heightened one, but I still found everything I read to be completely plausible (with the possible exception of anyone getting seasick on a kayak.)

A Summer to Remember was exactly the book I needed to finish out the last days of summer. Okay, I live in Texas, so our hot weather will continue until Halloween, but the light is changing, and there’s a bite beneath the heat that means autumn is arriving, but, just as the end of summer in this novel doesn’t mean an end to new friendships or new relationships, merely a redrawing of parameters, so, too, does the end of summer where I live merely mean that the sun sets a bit earlier and the swimming pool isn’t quite as warm.

A Summer to Remember is a novel to be enjoyed.

Goes well with burgers grilled over an open flame and cold beer, ideally consumed while sitting in the sand.


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Review: Emerald City, by Brian Birnbaum

EmeraldCityAbout the book, Emerald City

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dead Rabbits LLC (September 6, 2019)
  • Language: English

 

Set in Seattle, Emerald City follows Benison Behrenreich, the hearing son of deaf royalty. His father, CEO of a multimillion-dollar deaf access agency, has bribed Myriadal College officials for Benison’s spot on their powerhouse basketball team, where he struggles to prove himself and compensate for his father’s sins.

Julia Paolantonio has recently lost her father to a drug relapse. Her mother ships her off to live with her estranged granddad, Johnny Raciti, during the summer before her freshman year at Myriadal. Johnny offers her a deal: bring him Peter Fosch – tormented college dropout and the best drug runner west of the Cascades – and he’ll give Julia’s freshly widowed mother a board seat on his mobbed-up securities firm.

When Benison’s father is arrested for defrauding government subsidies for the deaf, the Behrenreichs are left vulnerable to his company’s ruthless backers – namely Johnny Raciti – forcing Julia and Peter to navigate the minefield left in the aftermath.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


Brian BirnbaumAbout the author, Brian Birnbaum

Brian Birnbaum received his MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College in 2015. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Atticus Review, The Smart Set, Potluck Magazine, LUMINA, 3AM Magazine, The Collagist, Anti-Heroin Chic, and more. His debut novel, Emerald City, is forthcoming in 2019 with Dead Rabbits, whose NYC reading series is spinning off into a literary press funded by a former Amazon dev manager. He also hosts the Dead Rabbits Podcast. Brian is an only Child of Deaf Adults (CODA), and works in development for his father’s deaf access company.

Connect with Brian:

Website | Twitter


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

Every so often you encounter a book that just blows you away. For me, this summer (September is still summer), Emerald City is that book. Sure, the description sounds like any number of other books – Seattle, crime syndicate, family drama – these are common pieces – but Brian Birnbaum moves them distinctly uncommon ways.

First, there’s his use of language. It’s gritty, it’s present, it’s very, very real. I felt like his characters were people I would have run into on buses, in bistros, or in board rooms, as the situation might require. Then there are his characters, Julia, Johnny, and especially Benison. These characters aren’t merely dimensional, they practically leap off the page and get in your face, demanding that you listen to their stories.

And let’s not forget to talk about the Deaf culture that’s woven through the story. At no time does this addition feel like a ploy to make Emerald City unique or noticeable; rather, it’s completely organic, both incidental and important (yes, it’s possible to be both).

Reading this novel, I often felt like I had to pause and catch my breath, but I loved feeling that way, because it meant I was immersed in the story. I cannot wait to read Birnbaum’s next creation, and I foresee a long and successful career.

Goes well with a rare steak, twice-baked potatoes, and a Jameson & Ginger with a twist of lime.

 

 

 

Review: Moon Rush by Leonard David

Moon-Rush-cover-670x1024About the book, Moon Rush

• Hardcover: 224 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic (May 7, 2019)

Veteran space journalist digs into the science and technology–past, present, and future–central to our explorations of Earth’s only satellite, the space destination most hotly pursued today.

In these rich pages, veteran science journalist Leonard David explores the moon in all its facets, from ancient myth to future “Moon Village” plans. Illustrating his text with maps, graphics, and photographs, David offers inside information about how the United States, allies and competitors, as well as key private corporations like Moon Express and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, plan to reach, inhabit, and even harvest the moon in the decades to come.

Spurred on by the Google Lunar XPRIZE–$20 million for the first to get to the moon and send images home–the 21st-century space race back to the moon has become more urgent, and more timely, than ever. Accounts of these new strategies are set against past efforts, including stories never before told about the Apollo missions and Cold War plans for military surveillance and missile launches from the moon. Timely and fascinating, this book sheds new light on our constant lunar companion, offering reasons to gaze up and see it in a different way than ever before.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

I’ve been a science fiction fan practically forever, but my love of science fiction led me to want to know the real story of our solar system. For years, the definitive view of the American space program has been Maury Chakin’s book From the Earth to the Moon, which is a detailed look at the Apollo missions (it’s worth a read, by the way).

But now, as we approach the fiftieth anniversary of that historic first moon landing, we are looking at the moon in a new light: as a possible launch pad for missions to Mars and eventually beyond.

In Moon Rush, science journalist Leonard David reminds of of the history  we have the moon, but also guides us toward the future, discussing science and technology in terms that are not simplistic but also don’t require that one be an actual rocket scientist to comprehend.

One thing I appreciated was that David highlighted the differences between NASA’s plan for our closest satellite (and possible sister planet) and the way private companies are looking at the new space race. Twenty-first century technology isn’t limited to government sources, and this book addresses the very real possibility of a privatized moon. How would that look? What could happen.

More importantly, though, David’s writing retains the one thing all we space buffs share: a sense of hope and wonder. Moon Rush is about science and technology in space, yes, but it’s also about possibility.

Goes well with: mango-peach iced tea, sliced apples, and sharp cheddar cheese.


TLC BOOK TOURSTour Stops

Tuesday, May 21st: Instagram: @dropandgivemenerdy

Thursday, May 23rd: Thrill me. Chill me. Reads.

Friday, May 24th: Instagram: @createexploreread

Tuesday, May 28th: Just a Secular Homeschooler

Tuesday, May 28th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Monday, June 3rd: Man of La Book

Thursday, June 6th: Jathan & Heather

Friday, June 7th: Real Life Reading

Monday, June 10th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Monday, June 17th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, June 19th: Instagram: @shereadswithcats

Review: You, Me and the Sea, by Meg Donohue

You-Me-and-the-Sea-coverAbout the book, You, Me, and the Sea

• Hardcover: 368 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (May 7, 2019)

From the USA Today bestselling author of All the Summer Girlsand Dog Crazy comes a spellbinding and suspenseful tale inspired by Wuthering Heights that illuminates the ways in which hope—and even magic—can blossom in the darkest of places.

To find her way, she must abandon everything she loves…

As a child, Merrow Shawe believes she is born of the sea: strong, joyous, and wild. Her beloved home is Horseshoe Cliff, a small farm on the coast of Northern California where she spends her days exploring fog-cloaked bluffs, swimming in the cove, and basking in the light of golden sunsets as her father entertains her with fantastical stories. It is an enchanting childhood, but it is not without hardship—the mystery of Merrow’s mother’s death haunts her, as does the increasingly senseless cruelty of her older brother, Bear.

Then, like sea glass carried from a distant land, Amir arrives in Merrow’s life. He’s been tossed about from India to New York City and now to Horseshoe Cliff, to stay with her family. Merrow is immediately drawn to his spirit, his passion, and his resilience in the face of Bear’s viciousness. Together they embrace their love of the sea, and their growing love for each other.

But the ocean holds secrets in its darkest depths. When tragedy strikes, Merrow is forced to question whether Amir is really the person she believed him to be. In order to escape the danger she finds herself in and find her own path forward, she must let go of the only home she’s ever known, and the only boy she’s ever loved….

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Meg-Donahue-AP-Photo-by-Sarah-DeragenAbout the author, Meg Donohue

Meg Donohue is the USA Today bestselling author of How to Eat a Cupcake, All the Summer Girls, and Dog Crazy. She has an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and a BA in comparative literature from Dartmouth College. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she now lives in San Francisco with her husband, three children, and dog.

Connect with Meg:

Find out more at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


melysse2019.jpgx100My Thoughts

Despite it’s wild coastal setting, You, Me, and the Sea is not a “beach book” in the sense of a light summer read. Rather, it’s a complex family drama that tackles serious subjects like death, loss, and abuse, and balances them with an unconventional coming-of-age story and a touch of heartfelt romance.

Protagonist Merrow seems like a broken bird, at times, suffering torture at the hands of her older brother Bear, to the point where you want to shake her and make her go get help, though when her father brings home a friend’s adopted (and now-orphaned) son, Amir, she at least gains a friend and an ally.

Bear, Amir, caring neighbor Rei, and later the Langford family, all play their parts, filling out the chorus of Merrow’s life, but this novel is really her story, from tortured waif, to successful teacher and partner, as she struggles to find her own truth and make sense of her own life.

Early in the novel, Merrow tells us that her father once shared that “The past never leaves you. It just changes shape.” Like the sea Merrow is so connected to, her past, her present, and her future continually change shape through this wonderful, powerfully written story.

Goes well with hot chocolate and a butter croissant.


TLC BOOK TOURSTour Stops for You, Me, and the Sea

Instagram Features

Tuesday, May 7th: Instagram: @jennsbookvibes

Wednesday, May 8th: Instagram: @beauty_andthebook_

Thursday, May 9th: Instagram: @somekindofalibrary

Friday, May 10th: Instagram: @readingwithmere

Saturday, May 11th: Instagram: @giuliland

Sunday, May 12th: Instagram: @book.hang.o.ver

Monday, May 13th: Instagram: @writersdream

Review Stops

Tuesday, May 7th: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, May 8th: Bibliotica

Thursday, May 9th: Instagram: @beritaudiokilledthebookmark

Friday, May 10th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog

Monday, May 13th: Read Like a Mother

Tuesday, May 14th: Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader

Wednesday, May 15th: Stranded in Chaos

Thursday, May 16th: Brooke’s Books and Brews

Friday, May 17th: Books and Bindings

Tuesday, May 21st: Always With a Book

Wednesday, May 22nd: Girl Who Reads