Review: Coffee Traveller, by Fahad Ben G

Coffeetravellerbnr

About the book, Coffee Traveller

 

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Clink Street Publishing (October 29, 2019)
  • Language: English

Coffee TravellerCoffee Traveller: A collection of musings about travel, life, love, family, relationships, the future and growing up in Saudi Arabia, by the author and poet Fahad Ben G.

Young Saudi Arabian author and poet publishes a collection for Saudi men and women exploring love, memory, break up stages, pain, grief and the human need to express feelings through social media.

When Fahad made the decision to share some of his writing on social media, he was overwhelmed by supportive messages; his gender-neutral writings, borderless stories and poems connected instantly with readers. By sharing his thoughts and unresolved emotions on lost love, the pain of break ups, nostalgia for childhood, and the profound desire to make connections, he saw that he was not alone, and that his work could inspire and comfort other people.

Coffee Traveller brings together a collection of Fahad’s stream of consciousness-style prose and verse, creating vivid images of the past, rich snapshots of home and friendship, tender portraits of love, loss and suffering. Fahad uses journalling prolifically; as a way of recording and memorialising the past, charting feelings, emotions, fears and self-doubt in much the same way an explorer would describe new continents and oceans. Fahad’s travels are internal, spiritual, encompassing the mundane and the profound, looking for connection points and shared experiences.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Fahad Ben G

Fahad Ben. G was born and raised in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He has a Masters in Linguistics from Imam Mohammed Bin Saud University in Riyadh. He is certified in protocol & etiquette. He studied acting and received his Diploma in acting from Giles Formen Center, London. Having lived in France and Japan, he settled in London in 2017.

Connect with Fahad:

Instagram


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellIn talking about his writing, the author of this lovely collection of poems and thoughts – musings – says, “I write about you not to make you come back; I just need to get rid of the things that used to upset me and I couldn’t tell you about back then.”

Obviously, he isn’t talking about we readers, and yet many of the pieces in this collection – indeed, most of them – express universal thoughts and ideas with delicate, compact phrasing, and word choices that are completely the author’s own. Many of these small texts do, indeed, feel directed at us.

Because this is a book of, essentially, poetry, it’s not the kind of thing you pick up and read straight through. You could do that, but I found it was better experienced in small doses, stretching out the experience over days and weeks. I left it on my coffee table and whenever I had a free moment, I’d pick it up and read a few more pieces, letting them digest.

Fahad’s writing is gender-neutral. He pays little attention to paragraph structure. Many of these read almost like Zen koans. And yet, all of them touch you, connecting to the inherent humanity in all of us.

Coffee Traveller is a delightful surprise, a breath of warm air scented with coffee and spices, and a welcome addition to any collection.

Goes well with espresso and those sesame honey sticks they sell at health food stores.

 

Coffeetravellerbnr

Review: Santa Claus Bank Robbery by Tui Snider – with Giveaway

BNR Santa Claus Bank Robbery

About the book Santa Claus Bank Robbery

  • Genre: Nonfiction / Texana / Texas History
  • Publisher: Castle Azle Press
  • Date of Publication: December 8, 2019
  • Number of Pages: 146 pages + black & white photos
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Cover Santa Claus Robber hi resWhen Marshall Ratliff dressed like Santa Claus to pull a Christmas-time heist, he thought it would be easy. Unfortunately for him, when the citizens of Cisco heard Santa was robbing a bank, they came running – with loaded guns in hand!

But can you blame them? In 1927, the only way to earn the $5000 Dead Bank Robber Reward was to kill a bandit while the crime was in progress.

This bungled bank robbery led to a wild shootout and a getaway with two little girls as hostages. And that is only the beginning!

Tui Snider’s true-crime tale reads like a comedy of errors as the consequences of the Santa Claus Bank Robber’s actions escalate to include a botched car-jacking, one of the biggest manhunts in Texas history, and a jailbreak leading to a deadly conclusion.

Meanwhile, it’s up to readers to decide whether or not a mysterious blonde helped these gangsters escape. And if so, did she get away with murder?

Watch the trailer for this book:

 

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author Tui Snider

Tui SniderTui Snider is an award-winning writer, speaker, photographer, and musician specializing in offbeat sites, overlooked history, cemetery symbolism, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction, but then I moved to Texas!”

Tui lectures frequently at universities, libraries, conferences, and bookstores.This fall, she will speak about the Great Airship Mystery of 1897 at this year’s UFO Congress and teach a course on Understanding Cemetery Symbols at Texas Christian University. She also shares weekly info-videos based on her research at her YouTube channel.

Snider’s writing and photography have been featured in a variety of media outlets, including WFAA TVCoast to Coast AM, LifeHack, Langdon Review, the City of Plano, Wild Woman WakingShades of Angels and many more. She has several more books in progress.

Connect with Tui:

WEBSITE  |  FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER  AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE  INSTAGRAM  |  YOUTUBE  | GRAVE HOUR ON INSTAGRAM


My Thoughts:

Melissa A. BartellOver the last few years of doing book reviews for Lone Star Book Blog Tours, I’ve fallen in love with Tui Snider’s books about cemetery symbology and spooky Texas locations, but with this book, Santa Claus Bank Robbery, I got to see a side of her work that is slightly more narrative, though still non-fiction.

And I loved it.

Presented almost like a forensic analysis (though with a lot more warmth and humor), this book tells the true story of a 1920s bank robbery where one of the bandits dressed in a (stolen) Santa Claus suit to rob a bank. Well, part of a suit. He didn’t have the pants, and that’s actually just one of the many things that went wrong with the heist, and the bandits’ lives.

True crime novels tend to be either very dry or quite grisly. Santa Claus Bank Robbery is neither. Rather, it’s a dive into Texas history that offers insights only a contemporary historian/storyteller could consider. (Example: one of the people in the book, a young girl, says she spent so much time in court in one year that she flunked 7th grade. Snider posits the theory that the child was suffering from burnout and PTSD… and she’s probably not wrong.)

One thing I really liked is that Snider corrected and clarified an earlier work about the events in Santa Claus Bank Robbery without being disrespectful to the previous author’s work. She does question his choice to use pseudonyms for a lot of the key figures, and also notes his avoidance of going too deeply into the details of one family, but she also expresses envy that he (A.C. Greene) had access to at least one of the original sources, one of the men who was with Santa Claus (really Marshall Ratliff) in the bank.

While I’m not a native Texan (I’m a Jersey girl who was raised in Colorado and California), I’ve now lived in Texas longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, and reading Snider’s books has really been a wonderful way for me to explore the Lone Star State in new and interesting ways.

That said, even if you have no connection to Texas at all, Santa Claus Bank Robbery is a fascinating picture of a period between the “wild west” and modern Texas, and Snider’s treatment of it is fair and balanced without whitewashing or soft-pedaling anything.

Goes well with: BBQ brisket, fried squash, potato salad, and sweet tea.


Giveaway

GRAND PRIZE (US only)

Signed Paperback +$10 Amazon Gift Card

+ Thank You Post Card

2ND PRIZE (US only)Signed Copy + Thank You Post Card

3RD PRIZE (International)Kindle eBook

  December 12-22, 2019

Giveaway

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Check Out the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

12/12/19 Review Bibliotica
12/12/19 Review Hall Ways Blog
12/13/19 Review That’s What She’s Reading
12/14/19 Review StoreyBook Reviews
12/14/19 Review Reading by Moonlight
12/15/19 Review Book Fidelity
12/16/19 Review All the Ups and Downs
12/17/19 Review The Page Unbound
12/17/19 Review Books and Broomsticks
12/18/19 Review The Book Review
12/19/19 Review The Clueless Gent
12/20/19 Review Rainy Days with Amanda
12/20/19 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
12/21/19 Review Momma on the Rocks
12/21/19 Review Forgotten Winds

 

LSBBT

Lone Star Lit

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: Paranormal Texas, by Tui Snider – with Giveaway

Paranormal Texas

About the book, Paranormal Texas: Your Travel Guide to Haunted Places Near Dallas & Fort Worth

  • Genre: Travel / Haunted Places / Texas History
  • Publisher: Castle Azle Press
  • Date of Publication: September 19, 2019 (2nd Edition)
  • Number of Pages: 210 with 100+ black & white images
  • Scroll down for a Video
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Paranormal Texas More Haunted Places and True Ghost Stories!

Tui Snider’s popular travel guide to haunted places in North Texas is back with a fully updated 2nd Edition featuring more haunted places and true ghost stories!

What’s new in Paranormal Texas2nd Edition?

Just like the original travel guide, Paranormal Texas 2nd Edition gives readers haunted history and directions to sites where paranormal activity is reported in the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex.

The 2nd edition now includes:

  • Photos: Readers asked for photos of haunted places. Paranormal Texas, 2nd editionhas over 50 photos of haunted towns, haunted hotels, and more.
  • Ghost hunting tips: Tui Snider explains what she has learned since she began attending paranormal investigations with Texas ghost hunters.
  • More haunted places: Several new venues (including a haunted doll museum!) with fascinating haunted history were added to Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition.
  • Firsthand accounts: Readers asked for more true ghost stories and hauntings. (She even shares personal experiences with paranormal activity, including a strange encounter with her doppelganger at a haunted hotel!)

All the above, PLUS a paranormal activity evidence database:

See the paranormal activity for yourself: Readers can access an online database with links to EVPs, ghost photos, videos, and other evidence gathered by paranormal investigators who have visited the haunted sites in her book.

  • Continually updated:This database will be continually updated with EVPs, anomalous photos, videos, and other data gathered at haunted places featured in Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition.
  • Add your paranormal activity:Readers can contact the author if they have paranormal evidence to add!

Is Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition for YOU?

  1. Ghost Hunters– If you want to plan a fun road trip to haunted places (with or without ghost hunting equipment) Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition can help.
  1. Armchair Travelers– If you prefer reading about haunted history, Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition can take you on an exciting armchair tour through haunted towns of North Texas.

“Tui’s 2nd edition is spot on fun and thrilling for everyone to read as only Tui can tell it!”  – Greg Stephens, Paranormal Investigator (RIP)

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Tui Snider

Tui SniderTui Snider is an award-winning writer, speaker, photographer, and musician specializing in offbeat sites, overlooked history, cemetery symbolism, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction, but then I moved to Texas!”

Tui lectures frequently at universities, libraries, conferences, and bookstores.This fall, she will speak about the Great Airship Mystery of 1897 at this year’s UFO Congress and teach a course on Understanding Cemetery Symbols at Texas Christian University. She also shares weekly info-videos based on her research at her YouTube channel.

Snider’s writing and photography have been featured in a variety of media outlets, including WFAA TVCoast to Coast AM, LifeHack, Langdon Review, the City of Plano, Wild Woman WakingShades of Angels and many more. She has several more books in progress.

Connect with Tui:

WEBSITE  |  FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER  AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE  INSTAGRAM  |  YOUTUBE  | GRAVE HOUR ON INSTAGRAM


Watch a Video from the Author

5 Surprising Facts about Haunted Places in Paranormal Texas

 

 


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

I first encountered Tui Snider’s work when I read and reviewed Understanding Cemetery Symbols two years ago. What I found then was a woman who was part storyteller, part adventurer, and part believer in the things the rest of us prefer not to notice – the unexplained, the ineffable, the shouldn’t-be-possible.

While I did not read the first edition of this book, Paranormal Texas: Your Travel Guide to Haunted Places Near Dallas & Fort Worth, I can tell you that this edition, the second, had me urging my husband to plan some local and local-ish road trips, and the only thing that has kept us from doing so is that we were out-of-state when the book arrived at my house, and that I’m two weeks away from having (another) knee surgery.

Still, even just reading this book is like going on an adventure with Tui (I hope she doesn’t mind me using her first name) as your guide. Her language is friendly and accessible, as if she’s relating her experiences to a friend over coffee, and the information is presented in a logical manner: alphabetically by city.

It’s not just perfunctory information, either. Rather, Tui provides anecdotes that leave you steeped in local flavor, making this book almost as much a collection of spooky Texas folktales as it is a DFW travel guide.

Paranormal Texas is, of course, the perfect book for October (here’s hoping the weather cools down some so we can all explore these spirited sites in relative comfort), but it would be the perfect book for a lazy weekend in March or May, or (for the brave) August, as well.

Go forth and explore.

(Stay hydrated.)

Tui will guide you.

And if the hairs on your arms stand up when you’re looking at a gravesite or standing near an old bridge, well, that’s just a bonus feature.

Goes well with apple cider (hard or not) and bratwurst with mustard.


Giveaway 

 GRAND PRIZE (US only)

Signed Paperback + Handmade Cemetery Angel Pendant

+$10 Amazon Gift Card

2ND PRIZE (US only)Signed Copy

3RD PRIZE (International)Kindle eBook

(US ONLY)

  October 1-October 11, 2019

Giveaway

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Paranormal Texas Blog Tour Links:

10/1/19 Reading by Moonlight
10/2/19 Bibliotica
10/2/19 Book Fidelity
10/3/19 StoreyBook Reviews
10/4/19 Nerd Narration
10/4/19 Hall Ways Blog
10/5/19 Carpe Diem Chronicles
10/6/19 Forgotten Winds
10/6/19 Books and Broomsticks
10/7/19 The Page Unbound
10/8/19 The Book Review
10/8/19 Chapter Break Book Blog
10/9/19 Missus Gonzo
10/10/19 All the Ups and Downs

 

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: Becoming Superman, by J. Michael Straczynski

Becoming-Superman-coverAbout the book, Becoming Superman

• Hardcover: 480 pages
• Publisher: Harper Voyager (July 23, 2019)

Featuring an introduction by Neil Gaiman!

“J. Michael Straczynski is, without question, one of the greatest science fiction minds of our time.”   — Max Brooks (World War Z)

For four decades, J. Michael Straczynski has been one of the most successful writers in Hollywood, one of the few to forge multiple careers in movies, television and comics.  Yet there’s one story he’s never told before: his own.

In this dazzling memoir, the acclaimed writer behind Babylon 5Sense8, Clint Eastwood’s Changeling and Marvel’s Thor reveals how the power of creativity and imagination enabled him to overcome the horrors of his youth and a dysfunctional family haunted by madness, murder and a terrible secret.

Joe’s early life nearly defies belief. Raised by damaged adults—a con-man grandfather and a manipulative grandmother, a violent, drunken father and a mother who was repeatedly institutionalized—Joe grew up in abject poverty, living in slums and projects when not on the road, crisscrossing the country in his father’s desperate attempts to escape the consequences of his past.

To survive his abusive environment Joe found refuge in his beloved comics and his dreams, immersing himself in imaginary worlds populated by superheroes whose amazing powers allowed them to overcome any adversity. The deeper he read, the more he came to realize that he, too, had a superpower: the ability to tell stories and make everything come out the way he wanted it. But even as he found success, he could not escape a dark and shocking secret that hung over his family’s past, a violent truth that he uncovered over the course of decades involving mass murder.

Straczynski’s personal history has always been shrouded in mystery. Becoming Superman lays bare the facts of his life: a story of creation and darkness, hope and success, a larger-than-life villain and a little boy who became the hero of his own life.  It is also a compelling behind-the-scenes look at some of the most successful TV series and movies recognized around the world.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


J.-Michael-Straczynski-AP-Photo-by-Peter-KonerkoAbout J. Michael Straczynski

J. Michael Straczynski has had one of the most varied careers of any American writer, penning hundreds of hours of television, comic books for Marvel and DC that have sold over 13 million copies, and movies that have grossed over a billion dollars.

Connect with J. Michael Straczynski:

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Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

While I never got into Sense 8, my husband did, and we were both fans of J. Michael Straczynski’s previous television offerings, most notably Babylon 5, and Jeremiah. When I was offered the chance to read the man’s autobiography, then, I jumped at the chance, both to read it for my own enjoyment, and because I knew my husband would also like the opportunity (we share a Kindle library).
From the first word of Neil Gaiman’s introduction, I was hooked. Well, how could I not be? I mean, I’m a Gaiman fan, as well, so the combination was an automatic win-win for me, but getting to peek into the brain of someone whose work I’ve enjoyed for so long was a special experience.

Special… and often harrowing. I’m not one to spoil plots. I don’t even typically include a synopsis in my own thoughts, but JMS did not have an easy childhood, and there were moments when I wanted to reach back through the years and give that isolated, odd child a hug.

The moment when he discovered Superman is one I completely understood. My childhood was not nearly so traumatic, but we all have our moments – especially those of us who are geeks, or creators, or both – when something clicks inside us, and we recognize a kinship with something, even if that something is a fictional character in a red suit and tights. Superman is so iconic – is there any American kid who didn’t want to meet him or be him at some point in their life? – but that moment set the tone for the rest of the book, and the rest of this man’s life.

It’s a very honest narrative overall. Straczynski is clearly incredibly self-aware of who he is, where he’s from, and where’s he’s ended up. Like so many gifted people, he’s a little bit broken, but he’s made that work for him – and turned it into a gift for us.

This book isn’t a casual read, but if you’re a fan of JMS’s work, I’d highly recommend it.

Goes well with chicken shawarma and craft beer.


TLC BOOK TOURSReview Stops for Becoming Superman

Tuesday, July 23rd: Reading Reality

Wednesday, July 24th: Bibliotica

Thursday, July 25th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Friday, July 26th: The Desert Bibliophile

Monday, July 29th: Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader

Tuesday, July 30th: Based on a True Story

Wednesday, July 31st: Patricia’s Wisdom

Thursday, August 1st: Literary Quicksand

Monday, August 5th: Tina Says…

Tuesday, August 6th: Man of La Book

Wednesday, August 7th: Jathan & Heather

Friday, August 9th: Instagram: @happiestwhenreading

 

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: Bent But Not Broken, by Don Cummings

Bent-But-Not-Broken-coverAbout the book Bent But Not Broken

• Paperback: 214 pages
• Publisher: Heliotrope Books LLC (March 15, 2019)

Bent But Not Broken is an unflinchingly honest memoir about the onset of Peyronie’s disease, a painful and sexually limiting condition that is estimated to affect more than 5% of the worldwide adult male population. Don Cummings writes humorously about the emotional and collateral damage brought on by a suddenly curved penis as he struggles to maintain his sense of sex and self. He openly details the doctor visits, the excruciating treatments, and the acute anxiety over the state of his long-term relationship with a man who is supportive but often helpless in the face of nature’s whims. Discordant domestic life, a harrowing kidnapping by a handsome stranger, and reminiscences of a hyper-active sexual past are woven into the single-minded quest to minimize the effects of this deforming disorder. Brace yourself for a daring, heartfelt and beautifully twisted story of love and survival.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Don Cummings

DON CUMMINGS is known for his fearless and humorous writing, presented in books, theatre and film. His love-sex-and-health memoir, Bent But not Broken, was released in March, 2019, published by Heliotrope Books. Don Cummings has had short stories published in Cagibi and Epiphany. He often performs his personal essays at venues around the country: Comedy Central’s Sit ‘n Spin, HBO Workspace, Largo, Brooklyn Reading Works, Tell It!, Personal Space and True Story.

His many plays have been produced on both coasts: The Fat of the Land was a semifinalist for the Kaufman & Hart Award for New American Comedy and was published in The Coachella Review. A Good Smoke was a semifinalist for the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference, had a reading at The Public Theater, directed by Pam MacKinnon, with Meryl Streep, Henry Wolfe, Grace Gummer and Debra Monk, and was optioned for Broadway. Piss Play is About Minorities So It’s Really Important, was produced as part of The New York Cringe Festival where it received the Golden Pineapple Award for best play. The Winner was a finalist for The Heideman Award at the Actors Theater of Louisville and was published in Post Road Magazine. His plays, American Air, Stark Raving Mad, Loose Joints and Feed the Children! have been produced in Los Angeles. Box, starring Mink Stole and Lou Liberatore, was an official selection in the Toronto Independent Film Festival, Dam Short Film Festival, New Filmmakers New York Festival, Twin Rivers Media Festival, and was distributed by Shorts International. Oh the Horror!, a graphic novel about zombies, is now live on Instagram and Tumblr @ohthehorrola.

Don Cummings has often appeared on television—most famously as someone’s favorite snarky waiter on Dharma & Greg—and in film, but more frequently on the stage, having performed in over fifty plays. A graduate of Tufts University with a degree in biology and the two-year acting program at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, he spends his days reading, writing, composing music, and helping out other writers. He lives in Los Angeles while adhering to Hawaii’s time zone.

Connect with Don:

Find out more about Don at his website, and connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


melysse2019.jpgx100My Thoughts

When I was approached to review this memoir, I hesitated, not because of the material, but because whenever I review a memoir, I feel a little like I’m sitting in judgement of the author’s life, rather than the specific work. Ultimately, I chose to read and review Bent But Not Broken because I felt Mr. Cummings’s story should be treated with the same respect and sensitivity we give to every woman who writes about dealing with breast cancer. Just because his memoir has to do with a disease of the penis, doesn’t mean we should be blushing and tittering when we talk about it.

I’m honestly glad I read his book.

Don Cummings presents his story with wit and candor and no small amount of grace. After reading his bio, I expected the wit. I did not expect to become so personally engaged with his story. I winced with him when he described his physical pain, and worried with him between doctor appointments. I sympathized when his sex life suffered. And I learned a lot about how men – not all, but certainly some – see their penises as representative of their entire identities.

As open, honest, and informative as this memoir is, however, it’s a hard read. At times Cummings is brutally explicit with us and with himself. His pain – both physical and emotional – is palpable. For that reason, this isn’t the sort of memoir you pick up as a casual read when you’re about to hop a plane. It’s the kind of memoir you read with intent, because you’ve heard of Peyronie’s disease, or you know someone who has it.

Goes well with wine and cheese.


TLC BOOK TOURSTour Stops for Bent But Not Broken

Tuesday, April 23rd: The Desert Bibliophile

Wednesday, April 24th: Bibliotica

Thursday, April 25th: BookNAround

Monday, April 29th: Stranded in Chaos

Friday, May 3rd: Tina Says…

Friday, May 10th: Instagram: @downtogetthefictionon

Monday, May 13th: Openly Bookish

Tuesday, May 14th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, May 16th: The Reading Corner For All

Monday, May 20th: BEE+BIRCH

Thursday, May 23rd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Review: Dead Girls, by Alice Bolin

About the book, Dead Girls Dead Girls by Alice Bolin

• Paperback: 288 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 26, 2018)

In this poignant collection, Alice Bolin examines iconic American works from the essays of Joan Didion and James Baldwin to Twin Peaks, Britney Spears, and Serial, illuminating the widespread obsession with women who are abused, killed, and disenfranchised, and whose bodies (dead and alive) are used as props to bolster men’s stories. Smart and accessible, thoughtful and heartfelt, Bolin investigates the implications of our cultural fixations, and her own role as a consumer and creator.

Bolin chronicles her life in Los Angeles, dissects the Noir, revisits her own coming of age, and analyzes stories of witches and werewolves, both appreciating and challenging the narratives we construct and absorb every day. Dead Girls begins by exploring the trope of dead women in fiction, and ends by interrogating the more complex dilemma of living women – both the persistent injustices they suffer and the oppression that white women help perpetrate.

Reminiscent of the piercing insight of Rebecca Solnit and the critical skill of Hilton Als, Bolin constructs a sharp, perceptive, and revelatory dialogue on the portrayal of women in media and their roles in our culture.

Praise for Dead Girls:

Dead Girls is everything I want in an essay collection: provocative lines of inquiry, macabre humor, blistering intelligence… I love this book.” —  Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties

“Bracing and blazingly smart, Alice Bolin’s Dead Girls could hardly be more needed or more timely.” — Megan Abbott, Edgar Award-winning author of You Will Know Me

Best of summer 2018 – included on best-of lists by Bitch Magazine, Harpers BazaarThe Millions, Esquire, Refinery29, Nylon, PopSugar, The Chicago Tribune, Book Riot, and CrimeReads

Buy, read, and discuss Dead Girls: 

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Alice Bolin Alice-Bolin-AP

Alice Bolin’s nonfiction has appeared in many publications including ELLE, the Awl, the LA Review of Books, Salon, VICE’s Broadly, The Paris Review Daily, and The New Yorker‘s Page-Turner blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Memphis.

Connect with Alice:

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


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I’ve always enjoyed essays and literary criticism, and this book, Dead Girls is a delicious collection of both. I really enjoyed the way the author, Alice Bolin, juxtaposed her own upbringing and life experiences with the observations and analysis she made about that genre of literature (primarily) and media in general that concerns the eponymous “dead girls” – the women who are already dead at the start of a story, and whose murder is solved (or not) through the narrative.

As someone who finds the psyche of serial killers morbidly fascinating, I appreciated Bolin’s choice of material, and responded to her use of language. She is a keen observer of her world – our world – and though she’s roughly twenty years younger than I am, I found myself nodding at her comments, appreciating what she had to say.

Then again, I’m also someone who binge-watched sixteen seasons of Law & Order: SVU in the name of “research” for a story I was writing, and I adore anyone who makes references to both Veronica Mars and Stieg Larsson in the same piece.

As this book is a collection of essays, the temptation is to pick and choose from the titles that seem interesting, and read them in whatever order. I would advice the prospective reader not to do this. These essays form a dual narrative of the author’s life and the evolution of “dead girl” literature, and the flow is so much better if you read them in order.

Goes well with a shot of bourbon, and slanted fedora, and a rainy night.


Tour Stops for Dead Girls TLC Book Tours

Instagram Features:

Tuesday, June 26th: Instagram: @shereadswithcats

Wednesday, June 27th: Instagram: @reading.betweenthewines

Thursday, June 28th: Instagram: @quietmountainreader

Friday, June 29th: Instagram: @jackiereadsbooks

Saturday, June 30th: Instagram: @prose_and_palate

Sunday, July 1st: Instagram: @hollyslittlebookreviews

Monday, July 2nd: Instagram: @oddandbookish

Tuesday, July 3rd: Instagram: @thats_what_she_read

Review Stops:

Wednesday, June 27th: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, June 28th: Bibliotica

Friday, June 29th: Stranded in Chaos

Monday, July 2nd: Based on a True Story

Monday, July 2nd: 5 Minutes For Books

Thursday, July 5th: Doing Dewey

Friday, July 6th: A Bookish Way of Life

Monday, July 9th: Wining Wife

Tuesday, July 10th: Instagram: @the_need_to_read

Wednesday, July 11th: Thoughts From a Highly Caffeinated Mind

Thursday, July 12th: From the TBR Pile

Friday, July 13th: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Review: Love Unleashed, by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

About the book, Love Unleashed

Love Unleashed• Hardcover: 160 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic (March 6, 2018)

A book for dog lovers everywhere. Celebrating the amazing relationships shared with our four-legged friends, each story recounts the love of dogs and the powerful ways dogs impact our lives.

In this heartwarming collection of stories, readers meet 38 incredible dogs who have gone above and beyond the job description of best friend. Each uplifting story provides an inspiring look at the animals who change our lives. Meet rescue dogs who learn to serve others, working dogs who go beyond the call of duty, and underdogs who surmount extraordinary challenges on the road to finding their forever home. This treasury of man’s best friend features photographs and personal anecdotes from those who have been touched by the selfless love of a beloved pet.

Buy, read, and discuss Love Unleashed:

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 


About the author, Rebecca Ascher-Walsh Rebecca Ascher-Walsh Photo by Mark Mann

Rebecca Ascher-Walsh is a writer who specializes in celebrity and lifestyle coverage, but who also loves dogs and telling stories about amazing animals. She contributes to many newspapers and national magazines including Entertainment Weekly, Adweek, and the Los Angeles Times. She is a volunteer at a high-kill shelter in Manhattan and a founding director of the Deja Foundation, devoted to funding the medical care and training costs of dogs rescued from high-kill shelters.

 


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI work in rescue, and typically have a foster dog in addition to the four dogs my husband and I actually adopted, so I thought I knew the array of stories that rescues represented. Still, Love Unleashed introduced me to some stories I hadn’t heard, and some scenarios I hadn’t personally encounter.

Author Rebecca Ascher-Walsh treats every animal in this book like the amazing animal it is. The pictures are gorgeous, the stories told to maximize our appreciation of our canine friends, and maybe elicit some tears. (I know my eyes were wet as I paged through this gallery of fluffy, sweet, beloved animals.)

Some of these stories – the pit bull who waited five years for a home, the golden retriever who lost his eyes to infection – are heartbreaking. Others – the little girl and her service dog, the pup who helped a cancer survivor find a new lease on life – are heartwarming. All, however, are full of soft fur, big eyes, and feet that, I’m pretty sure, all smell like corn chips.

As an animal lover, this book made me appreciate my own dogs.

As an animal rescuer, this book reminded me why we do what we do, why we fight for every animal, why we’re constantly begging people for money or to open their homes to a foster pet, why we manage to make room for just one more, even when we know we shouldn’t.

It’s more than a coffee table book, but the coffee table is where my beautiful copy will live, because it’s too pretty, and too special, to hide on a shelf.

Goes well with a mug of coffee and a plate of apples and cheddar cheese, the latter to be shared with whatever fourfoot insists that they like cheese, too.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, March 6th: Based on a True Story

Wednesday, March 7th: G. Jacks Writes

Friday, March 9th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Tuesday, March 13th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Wednesday, March 14th: Literary Quicksand

Thursday, March 15th: Openly Bookish

Monday, March 19th: The Geeky Bibliophile

Tuesday, March 20th: Dreams, Etc.

Wednesday, March 21st: Bibliotica

Thursday, March 22nd: A Bookworm’s World

Monday, March 26nd: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Tuesday, March 27th: What Is That Book About