Book Spotlight: Dear Dana, by Amy Weinland Daughters

About the book: Dear Dana: That time I went crazy and wrote all 580 of my Facebook friends a handwritten letter

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ She Writes Press (May 17, 2022)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ May 17, 2022
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English

DearDanaWhen Amy Daughters reconnected with her old pal Dana on Facebook, she had no idea how it would change her life. Though the two women hadn’t had any contact in thirty years, it didn’t take them long to catch up—and when Amy learned that Dana’s son Parker was doing a second stint at St. Jude battling cancer, she was suddenly inspired to begin writing the pair weekly letters.

When Parker died, Amy—not knowing what else to do—continued to write Dana. Eventually, Dana wrote back, and the two became pen pals, sharing things through the mail that they had never shared before. The richness of the experience left Amy wondering something: If my life could be so changed by someone I considered “just a Facebook friend,” what would happen if I wrote all my Facebook friends a letter?

A whopping 580 handwritten letters later Amy’s life, and most of all her heart, would never, ever, be the same again. As it turned out, there were actual individuals living very real lives behind each social media profile, and she was beautifully connected to each of those extraordinary, flawed people for a specific reason. They loved her, and she loved them. And nothing—not politics, beliefs, or lifestyle—could separate them.

Praise for Dear Dana

“This is a book for anyone who wonders about the differences between a Facebook friend and a Real-Life friend and who yearns to see a person’s real life behind their Facebook image. It is also about the power of prayer and the abundance of kindness in our world. But ultimately, it’s about connection and how we are all connected when we come from love.” Rivvy Neshama, author of “Recipes for a Sacred Life: True Stories and a Few Miracles”

“Amy shows us how something as simple as a letter — let alone 580 of them! — can change a life. Who else would decide to write a personal letter to every one of their Facebook friends? The stories from these letters provide insights into how we can help people through difficult times and connect with others—and, of course, plenty of good laughs.” Brad Aronson, bestselling author of “HumanKind: Changing the World One Small Act At a Time”

“An intriguing and inspiring exploration of different forms of communication.” Kirkus Reviews

“Dear Dana is an inspirational memoir about caring for friends near and far by reviving a lost art.” Foreword Reviews

Pre-Order Dear Dana

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million


About the author, Amy Weinland Daughters

AMY DAUGHTERS has spent the past 10 years freelancing on topics from college football to emotions. She is the author of “You Cannot Mess This Up: A True Story That Never Happened” (2019), for which she received recognition at the 2019 Foreword INDIES and the 2020 Next Generation Indie Awards. When she’s not writing, Daughters can be found researching history, golfing, or ribbon dancing. She lives in Tomball, Texas with her husband Willie and two sons, Will and Matthew.

Connect with Amy:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

DearDana2

 

Review: Brilliance Beyond Borders, by Chinwe Esimai

About the Book, Brilliance Beyond Borders: Remarkable Women Leaders Share the Power of Immigrace

  • Publisher: Harper Horizon (February 15, 2022)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages

Brilliance Beyond BordersWhat if the traditional narrative about immigrant women–that those who come to the United States will succeed as long as they work hard, stay focused, and have supportive families–is a lie?

Of the 73 million women in the US workforce, 11.5 million are foreign-born. The truth is–even in the midst of headlines and political debates about immigration reform and in the wake of MeToo and other female-centric movements–millions of immigrants, especially women, aren’t living their fullest potential.

Based on her personal experience and the stories of trailblazing women from around the world and in diverse industries, author Chinwe Esimai shares five indispensable traits that make an ocean of difference between immigrants who live as mere shadows of their truest potential and those who find purpose and fulfillment–what Chinwe refers to as their immigrace:

  • Saying yes to your immigrace, an immigrant woman’s expression of her highest purpose and potential
  • Daring to play in the big leagues
  • Transforming failure
  • Embracing change and blending differences
  • Finding joy and healing

These five traits are the foundation of the Brilliance Blueprint, a step-by-step guide to help readers achieve to their own extraordinary results and build their own remarkable legacies.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the Author, Chinwe Esimai

Chinwe Esimai is an award-winning lawyer, corporate executive, writer, and speaker who is passionate about inspiring generations of women leaders.

She is Managing Director and Chief Anti-Bribery Officer at Citigroup, Inc. She is the first person to hold this title in the bank’s history. In this role, she oversees Citi’s global anti-bribery program, which develops and maintains a framework for compliance with anti-bribery laws and regulations across all of Citi’s lines of business, covering over 200,000 employees, and in over 167 countries where Citi does business. 

In March 2020, Leading Ladies Africa named Chinwe one of 100 Most Inspiring Women. Tropics Magazine named her on the prestigious list of African Doers: Most Powerful Africans Shaping the Future of Africa. The Nigerian Lawyers Association named Chinwe Trailblazer of the Year, and she is the recipient of the Face-to-Face Africa Corporate Leadership Award. 

A passionate philanthropist, she is chair of the Board of Harambee USA Foundation, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to supporting education and sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa, and supports a wide variety of charitable causes. 

Chinwe’s leadership insights have been featured on her blog and in leading publications around the world, including ForbesThrive GlobalBlack EnterpriseReal Business UK, Business Intelligence Middle EastKnowledge@Wharton, and Current History, which has also featured prominent authors such as George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, and Condoleezza Rice. 

A prolific public speaker, Chinwe has delivered keynotes to prestigious audiences, academic institutions, and conferences around the world. She has spoken three times at the United Nations. 

Connect with Chinwe:

Goodreads | Twitter


My Thoughts

MissMelissAs a third-generation American, my immigrant roots are still close to me, so I was excited to read Brilliance Beyond Borders: Remarkable Women Leaders Share the Power of Immigrace. My own relatives arrived here in a time when there were fewer opportunities for women, no matter their origins, so it was interesting to me to learn how contemporary women perceive their struggles.

Author Chinwe Esimai personalizes the stories of seventeen women by including her own. I’ve had many friends who have either Americanized or completely changed their names in order to “make things easier,” so her sharing the recommendation of doing the same – and her decision to retain her name and identity – really resonated with me. In my own family, our surname was changed to a more American word when my great-grandparents opened a diner. (They eventually changed it back.)

I also appreciated the concept of immigrace – the finding of true purpose and fulfillment. While used by Esiimai to descibe immigrant women, specifically, that gap between where we are and where we should be in life, in business, in relationships, is something all women can appreciate, because those goals are universal.

This is a great book for any woman coming into adulthood right now, especially for those who are recent arrivals to this country. The concepts are clearly presented, and the individual women profiled have stories that are poignant, frustrating, and uplifting, often at once.

Goes well with: espresso con panna and thin mint Girl Scout cookies.


TLC Book ToursVisit the Other Great Tour Stops

Tuesday, February 15th: @diariesofabibliophile

Wednesday, February 16th: @as_seen_in_life

Thursday, February 17th: @nurse_bookie

Tuesday, February 22nd: @booknerdkat

Tuesday, February 22nd: @glendaofalltime

Wednesday, February 23rd: @purrfectpages

Wednesday, February 23rd: @welovebigbooksandwecannotlie

Thursday, February 24th: @karendeeandabc

Thursday, February 24th: @wonderousreads

Friday, February 25th: Helen’s Book Blog

Friday, February 25th: @chill_jilland_read

Saturday, February 26th: @suethebookie

Monday, February 28th: @bookdragon217

Tuesday, March 1st: @colesbooknook

Wednesday, March 2nd: @readingwithmrsleaf

Thursday, March 3rd: @bookitqueen

Friday, March 4th: @mrsboomreads

Monday, March 14th: 5 Minutes for Books

Tuesday, March 15th: Girl Who Reads

Wednesday, March 16th: @shobizreads

Thursday, March 17th: Bibliotica

Sunday, March 20th: Subakka.bookstuff Blog and @subakka.bookstuff

3-chapter Review: Divine Lola by Cristina Morato (translated by Andrea Rosenberg)

About the book, Divine Lola: A True Story of Scandal and Celebrity

  • Publisher: Amazon Crossing (September 1, 2021)
  • Hardcover: 448 pages

Divine Lola CoverAn enthralling biography about one of the most intriguing women of the Victorian age: the first self-invented international social celebrity.

Lola Montez was one of the most celebrated and notorious women of the nineteenth century. A raven-haired Andalusian who performed her scandalous “Spider Dance” in the greatest performance halls across Europe, she dazzled and beguiled all who met her with her astonishing beauty, sexuality, and shocking disregard for propriety. But Lola was an impostor, a self-invention. Born Eliza Gilbert, the beautiful Irish wild child escaped a stifling marriage and reimagined herself as Lola the Sevillian flamenco dancer and noblewoman, choosing a life of adventure, fame, sex, and scandal rather than submitting to the strictures of her era.

Lola cast her spell on the European aristocracy and the most famous intellectuals and artists of the time, including Alexandre Dumas, Franz Liszt, and George Sand, and became the obsession of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. She then set out for the New World, arriving in San Francisco at the height of the gold rush, where she lived like a pioneer and performed for rowdy miners before making her way to New York. There, her inevitable downfall was every bit as dramatic as her rise. Yet there was one final reinvention to come for the most defiant woman of the Victorian age—a woman known as a “savage beauty” who was idolized, romanticized, vilified, truly known by no one, and a century ahead of her time.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Cristina Morato

Born in Barcelona in 1961, Cristina Morató is a journalist, reporter, and author dedicated to writing about the lives of great women innovators and explorers that history has overlooked. Her research, tracing the footsteps of these remarkable women, has led her to travel to more than forty countries and has resulted in eight biographies: Viajeras intrépidas y aventureras(Intrepid and Adventurous Women Travelers); Las Reinas de África (African Queens); Las Damas de Oriente (Ladies of the East); Cautiva en Arabia (Arabian Captive); Divas rebeldes (Rebel Divas); Reinas malditas (Tragic Queens); Diosas de Hollywood (Hollywood Goddesses); and Divina Lola (Divine Lola), Cristina’s first to be translated into English. She is a founding member and the current vice president of the Spanish Geographical Society and belongs to the Royal Geographic Society of London.

For more information visit www.cristinamorato.com/home-2.

About the translator, Andrea Rosenberg

Andrea Rosenberg is a translator from Spanish and Portuguese. Her full-length translations include novels, graphic narratives, and nonfiction, including works by Manuel Vilas, Tomás González, Inês Pedrosa, Aura Xilonen, Juan Gómez Bárcena, Paco Roca, and Marcelo D’Salete. Two of her translations have won Eisner Awards, and she has been the recipient of awards and grants from the Fulbright Program, the American Literary Translators Association, and the Banff International Literary Translation Centre.


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellNeither a true biography nor a true work of fiction, but a hybrid of both, Cristina Morato’s Divine Lola is an accessible story of a fascinating woman: Eliza “Lola” Gilbert is a larger-than-life character, worthy of a limited series on the streaming platform of your choice, with a veritable who’s who of friends and acquaintances. Sure, she was famous for her scandalous “spider” dance, but she touched a lot more lives than those who saw her perform.

What I liked about this book was that there was enough history to provide context without overwhelming the extrapolated dialogue. Balance is key, and Morato struck exactly the right one. She also used a fabulous literary device, opening the book after Lola has died, making the entire narrative a flashback, in a sense, thus showing how much impact the woman really had.

Because this is a translation, it’s hard to know if the flow of the language is the work of Andrea Rosenberg, the translator, or the author herself, but either way, it’s an easy read, contemporary enough to be accessible, and yet still “period” enough to not be jarring.

I’ll definitely be finishing this book, and recommend it as a solid entry into the creative biography genre.


Tour Schedule

00-tlc-tour-hostWednesday, September 1st: Books, Cooks, Looks – excerpt

Friday, September 3rd: Seaside Book Nook – excerpt

Sunday, September 5th: The Cozy Book Blog – excerpt

Monday, September 6th: @babygotbooks4life

Wednesday, September 8th: Literary Quicksand

Friday, September 10th: Nurse Bookie and @nurse_bookie

Monday, September 13th: @Bibliotica

Wednesday, September 15th: @aimeedarsreads

Thursday, September 16th: @msanniecathryn

Friday, September 17th: Maryann Writes

Monday, September 20th: @chez_colline

Wednesday, September 22nd: @as_seen_in_life

Thursday, September 23rd: @thebookishalix

Friday, September 24th: @jenniaahava

Monday, September 27th: Eliot’s Eats

Wednesday, September 29th: @books.cats.travel.food

Thursday, September 30th: @rickys_radical_reads

Friday, October 1st: @amanda.the.bookish

Monday, October 4th: Reading is My Remedy

 

Review: There Will Be Lobster, by Sara Arnell

About the book, There Will Be Lobster

• Publisher: Savio Republic (July 20, 2021)
• Hardcover: 176 pages

There-Will-Be-Lobster-coverYou know her. You’ve seen her. You may even see yourself in her.

If you’re arriving to the midlife crisis party—the one that’s serving low self-esteem, desperation, unreliable behavior, forgetfulness, carelessness, and the loneliness of loss—the stories and anecdotes in this memoir will assure you that you are not alone.

For Sara Arnell, it took a rogue lobster, a dying rock star, an eighteen-pound tumor, a meditation guru, a famous medium, and a former monk to put her on a path toward light, hope, and healing. If reading this book helps even one person, according to Sara, then telling this story is all worth it.

Praise for this book:

“Sara Arnell is the only writer I know who can make self-deprecation and wisdom look like the same thing. There Will Be Lobster is a darkly funny memoir with a big heart, and it’s the exact comeback story we all need right now.” —David Hollander, author of Anthropica and L.I.E.

“This book is a deeply personal story that’s not afraid to show you the crazy moments that we all have, but often don’t admit to. Read this memoir if you want to learn how honesty, vulnerability, and sheer perseverance can help you step into your light and illuminate a new path—one that is happy, healthy, and full of hope.” —André Leon Talley, author of New York Times bestseller The Chiffon Trenches and former Vogue editor-at-large

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Simon & Schuster | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Sara Arnell

Sara-Arnell-AP-713x1024While working alongside acclaimed fashion icon Andre Leon Talley at Vanity Fair magazine in her mid-20’s, Sara was offered an opportunity to write a press release for fashion designer, Donna Karan, who was about to launch one of her acclaimed collections. This moment marked the beginning of Sara’s impressive thirty-year career in fashion, writing and advertising.

Sara worked as Chief Strategy Officer at one of New York’s most renowned and successful advertising agencies, eventually rising to CEO. Under her long tenure, she broke new ground, winning awards and global recognition for her agency and its clients. She traveled the world, working with some of the best known and most beloved consumer brands such as Pepsi, Samsung, McDonalds and Goop.

Today, Sara is a Professor at The New School’s Parsons School of Design and continues to consult with the world’s top brands on marketing strategy and brand design. She regularly advises start-ups and entrepreneurs and has served on several boards for educational institutions. She is a sought after speaker and founder of Karmic, a platform for ‘what-you-do-comes-back-to-you’ ideas and advice. Sara has a BA from Skidmore College and an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. She is the mother of three children and one small poodle.

Connect with Sara:

Find out more about Sara at her website, and follow her on Instagram.


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellThe thing that struck me most about Sara Arnell’s serio-comic memoir, There Will Be Lobster, is that her conversational style immediately makes the reader feel like a friend, rather than an outsider peeking into someone’s life. I wouldn’t go so far as to call Arnell breezy, as that implies a level of fluffiness that this book does not have, but her written words flow as easily as spoken ones do.

The second thing that struck me about this book is that it’s so relatable. I don’t have children, adult or otherwise, but I know what it is to want to reconnect with family, and I know that sometimes a good buzz can cloud the recollection of a bad night, or enhance the memory of a good one. Which is not to imply that Arnell is drunk throughout this memoir. The book simply opens with the memory of a drunken experience.

Written as a series of anecdotal essays, this book doesn’t really have a plot – it’s a memoir, after all – but there is a theme of aging, of self-awareness, and of wanting to restore severed ties to people and places once beloved.

This book isn’t for every woman, but it’s for a broad spectrum of women of all ages, who need a nudge toward being honest with themselves about who they are and what they really want out of life.

Less self-help than simply setting an example, There Will Be Lobster is both witty and engaging, and I highly recommend it, especially to women my age (I’ll be 51 next Tuesday.)

Goes well with: A lobster roll and a bottle of your favorite microbrew, but nothing too hoppy.


Review Stops

00-tlc-tour-hostTuesday, July 27th: Run Wright

Thursday, July 29th: Instagram: @readinggirlreviews

Friday, July 30th: Instagram: @pnwbookworm

Monday, August 2nd: Instagram: @gracereads82

Tuesday, August 3rd: Instagram: @neverthless_she_reads

Thursday, August 5th: Instagram: @babygotbooks4life

Monday, August 9th: Instagram: @nurse_bookie

Tuesday, August 10th: Instagram: @books_and_broadway_

Wednesday, August 11th: Bibliotica

Thursday, August 12th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Friday, August 13th: A Bookish Way of Life

Monday, August 16th: Jathan & Heather

Tuesday, August 17th: The Bookish Dilettante

Wednesday, August 18th: bookchickdi

Thursday, August 19th: Instagram: @mrsboomreads

TBD: Wednesday, August 4th: Instagram: @bluntscissorsbookreviews

TBD: Friday, August 6th: Instagram: @booksaremagictoo

Review: Eva and Eve, by Julie Metz

About the book, Eva and Eve

• Publisher: Atria Books (April 6, 2021)
• Hardcover: 320 pages

Eva and EveThe author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Perfection returns with an unforgettable account of her late mother’s childhood in Nazi-occupied Austria and the parallels she sees in present-day America.

To Julie Metz, her mother, Eve, was the quintessential New Yorker. Eve rarely spoke about her childhood and it was difficult to imagine her living anywhere else except Manhattan, where she could be found attending Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera or inspecting a round of French triple crème at Zabar’s.

In truth, Eve had endured a harrowing childhood in Nazi-occupied Vienna. After her mother passed, Julie discovered a keepsake book filled with farewell notes from friends and relatives addressed to a ten-year-old girl named Eva. This long-hidden memento was the first clue to the secret pain that Julie’s mother had carried as a refugee and immigrant, shining a light on a family that had to persevere at every turn to escape the antisemitism and xenophobia that threatened their survival.

Interweaving personal memoir and family history, Eva and Eve vividly traces one woman’s search for her mother’s lost childhood while revealing the resilience of our forebears and the sacrifices that ordinary people are called to make during history’s darkest hours.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Julie Metz

Julie MetzJulie Metz is the New York Times bestselling author of PERFECTION. Her new release is EVA AND EVE: A SEARCH FOR MY MOTHER’S LOST CHILDHOOD AND WHAT A WAR LEFT BEHIND. Julie is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She has written for publications including The New York Times, Dame, and Salon and essays have appeared in THE MOMENT and THE HOUSE THAT MADE ME. She lives with her family in the Hudson Valley.

Connect with Julie:

Website | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellThis review is very late in coming. My life has been utter chaos since February with too-infrequent moments of calm. Apologies to the author, and to TLC Book Reviews, which provided a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Julie Metz’s book Eva and Eve is not your average holocaust survivor story, though it would be a worthy read in any case. Rather, it’s the author’s personal story of learning about her mother as the woman she knew and the girl she once was. As someone who has recently experienced a lot of loss, I’m no stranger to the surprises we find hidden away in our parents’ and grandparents’ houses. My family is Italian and Catholic, Metz’s family is Austrian and Jewish, but her story resonated with me because what we share, though for me it’s one generation removed, is the experience of being related to recent (so to speak) immigrants.

But you don’t have to be the daughter or granddaughter of immigrants to appreciate this book, because, from word  one, Eva and Eve is a work of both art and love.

Let’s start with the language. I’ve both read this and listened to the audiobook, and the language Metz uses is both beautiful and lyrical, while also being completely honest and authentic. There are passages that are serious, even brutal, and moments where levity takes over, and both in the extrapolated, even lightly fictionalized stories of her mother’s (and grandmother’s) youth, and in her own, contemporary observations there is a perfect flow, and graceful pace.

Metz’s observations were actually one of my favorite part of this book, because she isn’t just reciting research, she’s immersed herself in history and exploration, of the places where her family originated, and of the remaining people who knew them or at least knew of them.

One of my favorite examples of Metz’s voice is this line that appears about 2/3 into the book: The houses looked different right away – now stone and stucco – and the people on the narrow streets dressed like Italians, somehow more put together than rumpled Americans, even in jeans and t-shirts. It’s a line that has nothing to do with the details of the history the author is trying to discover, but everything to do with how she sees the world, and I love the way it’s presented.

Eva and Eve is not an average holocaust survivor story. Nor is it a typical memoir. Rather, it’s an artful, loving dive into the history of the author’s own family, and a deeply satisfying read that almost every woman will find somehow relatable.

Goes well with: espresso and anisette toast.


Review Stops

TLC Book ToursMonday, June 21st: Instagram: @neverthless_she_reads

Tuesday, June 22nd: Instagram: @littlefoot_books

Thursday, June 24th: Instagram: @books_and_broadway_

Friday, June 25th: BookNAround

Tuesday, June 29th: bookchickdi

Thursday, July 1st: Instagram: @reading_with_nicole

Friday, July 2nd: Instagram: @workreadsleeprepeat

Wednesday, July 7th: Jathan & Heather

Thursday, July 8th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Saturday, July 10th: Instagram: @babygotbooks4life

Monday, July 12th: Instagram: @what.ems.reading

Friday, August 6th: Instagram: @kennatellyouastory

TBD: Tuesday, July 6th: Instagram: @bluntscissorsbookreviews

TBD: Monday, August 2nd: Bibliotica

Review: Le Deal, by J. Byrne Murphy

About the book, Le Deal

• Publisher: Lyons Press (March 14, 2021)
• Paperback: 304 pages

Le Deal Le Deal is a business adventure story involving raw entrepreneurship and high-level politics. It is the true story of Byrne Murphy, a young businessman who abruptly moves to Paris in a quest to reignite his career and his fortunes. He quickly finds himself up against powerful forces, including wrestling with the Prime Minister of France, the soon-to-be Chancellor of Germany and wanna-be mafia in Italy. There are also charming encounters with the British Royal Family, including a near royal embarrassment of epic proportions.

Eight years after Byrne’s company, McArthurGlen Europe, was launched in his hotel room, it generated approximately $1 billion in sales from 11 centers across Europe; created nearly 8,000 jobs; opened 1,500 stores featuring 500 brands; attracted nearly 40 million shopping visits per year and spawned an array of competitors. In short, an industry was born.

Along the way, the author learns what he, and Americans in general, do and do not know about life beyond our borders. The book offers a message for Americans who work internationally to truly take “context” into account; to realize, in our quest to accomplish more in less time, that investing the time to understand the nuances of the foreign cultures we are dealing with is key to prospering in our twenty-first-century multicultural, polyglot, interconnected, globalized world.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org | Goodreads


About the author, J. Byrne Murphy

J. Byrne Murphy was one of the founders and Deputy Chief Executive of McArthurGlen Europe. He spent eight years in an ultimately successful struggle to implant the concept of designer outlet centers in Europe, featuring brands ranging from Gucci and Prada to Polo and Nike. Murphy is an entrepreneur who has started up several European ventures. Recently these have included a data center operation in Scandinavia, and the redevelopment of a fifteenth-century Medici palazzo in Florence, Italy, into one of Europe’s first private residence clubs. He is a cum laude graduate of Harvard and received his MBA from the Darden School of Business at the Universtiy of Virginia. After living in Europe for twelve years, Murphy now resides in the Washington, D.C. area with his wife, Pamela and their four daughters.

Find our more about him at his website.


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellThis non-fiction story is the true story of the author’s relocation to Paris in an attempt to reignite his career. At times funny, honest, political, and loaded with hindsight, it’s the perfect book for anyone who has fantasized about reinventing themselves, opening a business, or moving to a different country. While only the latter applies to me (and not until retirement), I still found Le Deal to be a valuable read.

I was expecting the book to focus on Murphy’s experiences in France, so I was  pleased that his time in other countries was related, though I would have liked more in Italy and Germany. At the same time, there were a lot of people (I almost said characters, and truly, some of them are) to keep track of, and I would have appreciated more time with Pamela (Murphy’s wife). Not that she wasn’t present; I just wanted more.

I think for those who are interested in going into business, Murphy’s story is extremely relatable. Certainly, he’s a gifted writer, and this was an easy read. I liked that he shared his failures and bobbles as well as his successes (spoiler alert: ultimately he was quite successful). I think younger people, or at least people who didn’t find corporate life a bad fit, as I did, would find Le Deal useful as both an object lesson and a guideline.

Overall, Le Deal is a well-written, engaging true story about the struggles and successes of a man who takes on Europe in more ways than one.


Check Out the Other Participants in This Tour

TLC Book ToursTour participants include “bookstagrammers” and bloggers.

Monday, April 19th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Tuesday, April 20th: Instagram: @readingmama_reviews

Thursday, April 22nd: Musings of a Literary Wanderer

Monday, April 26th: bookchickdi

Wednesday, April 28th: Instagram: @gracereads82

Wednesday, May 5th: Instagram: @megsbookclub

Thursday, May 6th: Jathan & Heather

Tuesday, May 11th: Man of La Book

Wednesday, May 12th: Instagram: @jenguerdy

Thursday, May 13th: Bibliotica

Friday, May 14th: What Is That Book About

TBD: Tuesday, April 27th: Run Wright

Review: Solo: A Down to Earth Guide for Travelling the World Alone, by Aaron Hodges

Solo - A Down to Earth Guide for Travelling the World Alone

 

About the book, Solo: A Down to Earth Guide for Travelling the World Alone

  • Item Weight : 10.4 ounces
  • Paperback : 160 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0995129657
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0995129658
  • Publisher : Aaron Hodges; Illustrated edition (December 10, 2019)

Solo Aaron Hodges ebookFeeling alone? Trapped? Lost?

Time for an adventure!

The bad times won’t last forever, and for more than five years, Aaron Hodges has journeyed the globe alone, visiting everywhere from Istanbul to Argentina. Honest and insightful, SOLO is packed with his personal travel tips and humorous stories. Learn about the ups and downs, the triumphs and the pitfalls of venturing off the beaten path. Follow his guidelines for exploring the world alone and be inspired to take the trip you’ve always dreamed of.

Discover the world of solo travel.

Go Solo!

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Books 2 Read | Goodreads


About the author, Aaron Hodges

Aaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelors of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job in 2014 and see the world. One year later, he published his first novel – Stormwielder – while in Guatemala. Since then, he has honed his skills while travelling through parts of SE Asia, India, North and South America, Turkey and Europe, and now has over a dozen works to his name. Today, his adventures continue…

Connect with Aaron:

Facebook | Instagram


My Thoughts

Reading travel books when you’re stuck in quarantine, and in the country no one wants visitors from, may seem counter-intuitive, but the truth is Solo: A Down to Earth Guide for Travelling the World Alone, is so breezy and engaging that reading it gave me hope for a future when travel is easy and accessible again.

In this book, which is aimed at a demographic I’m not in (I’m a good twenty years older than the author, and very, very married), author Aaron Hodges theorizes that his readers share something in common with him – they have boring desk jobs, they’re restless, or they just ended relationships. This latter, he specifically mentions as one of the things that pushes people to stop dreaming about travel and actually do some.

A lot of this book is aimed at adventure-travellers – people who want to backpack through Europe and stay in hostiles – or at least engage in rugged activities. While that’s never been my thing (I’m much more into museums and cute shops with the occasional beach day and maybe time on a rented ocean kayak) Hughes friendly style makes these things seem appealing and even exciting.

He even made me consider where I’d go if I were travelling without my husband. (In truth, I’ve done this to a point. On trips where he was working I hired local guides and wandered on my own.)

Hughes makes good points about language barriers being daunting to some, and about choosing your destinations wisely, but more than that, he is all about living your dreams instead of waiting for someone to hand them to you.

Part guide, part memoir, if you’re planning a trip, or even just wishing you could get up and go, this is the book for you.

Goes well with a local dish you’ve never heard of in a hole-in-the-wall cafe in a foreign country.


Solo - A Down to Earth Guide for Travelling the World Alone

Review: The Gulag P-Pa Diaries, by Preston Lewis, with Giveaway

Gulag P-Pa-Diaries-BNR

 

About the book, The Gulag P-Pa Diaries Gulag P-Pa-Cover

  • Genre: Memoir / Christian / Humor / Grandparenting / Family
  • Publisher: CKN Christian Publishing
  • Date of Publication: April 22, 2020
  • Number of Pages: 268
  • Scroll down for the giveaway!

As new empty-nesters, Harriet and Preston next looked forward to becoming grandparents. Their journey to assuming the names of Mema and P-Pa, however, took a tragic and unexpected turn.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Preston Lewis Preston Lewis

Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of thirty novels. In addition to his two Western Writers of America Spurs, he received the 2018 Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Western Humor for Bluster’s Last Stand, the fourth volume in his comic western series, The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax. Two other books in that series were Spur finalists. His comic western The Fleecing of Fort Griffin received the Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association for best creative work on the region.

Connect with Preston:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads  | Amazon author page


My ThoughtsMissMelissHAT

Part conventional memoir, part Condamant’s (sic) Log from the eponymous Gulag P-Pa, Preston Lewis’s latest offering is both hilarious and heartfelt.

It’s a year-by-year recounting of his life as a temporary caregiver (with his wife Harriet) of his grandchildren – four girls and one boy when the story opens, though as a three-month-old, the boy really isn’t a true “inmate” of the gulag, and it masters the emotional combination of laughter-through-tears from the very first page.

(“Condamant,” by the way, is one of the granddaughter’s malapropism; she meant “Commandant.”)

But, this book, The Gulag P-Pa Diaries, is more than just a reminiscence of life with growing grandchildren. It’s also a reflection on the nature of parenthood. “The first step toward becoming a grandparent is having a family of your own, of course,” Lewis writes in chapter three, one of the traditional memoir chapters, and then goes on to describe his courtship of his wife.

Written in alternating chapters of memoir and diary, this book is a look at the very real lives of a typical American family, and while some of the events and family jokes (like the “poople heart” earned for dealing with dramatic diaper incidents) are often silly, the real thread holding everything together is love.

We are given a glimpse of a sweet man who is literally lovesick as he gets to know his eventual wife, and we are shown how even the most contrary three-and-a-half year old can be incredibly charming.  We see the expected difference between how woman (Camp Mema) and men (Gulag P-Pa) handle discipline and structure, and we cry (or I did) when the author mentions his first grandchild who died before he ever got to hold or know him.

If your grandparents are still alive, this book will make you pick up the phone to call or Facetime with them. If they have left this world, this book will leave you wistful, and perhaps a little weepy. Either way, this is a charming, funny, very real story, made even better by being true.

Goes well with: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of chocolate milk.


Giveaway

1ST PRIZE

Book signed by P-Pa (the author), Mema, and The Grands
2ND PRIZE

Book signed by the author
AUGUST 4-14, 2020
(US ONLY)

Gulag P-Pa SMALL-Giveaway

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Check Out the Whole Blog Tour at THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE  or Visit Them Directly:

8/4/20 Review Bibliotica
8/5/20 Author Interview Forgotten Winds
8/6/20 Notable Quotables Texas Book Lover
8/7/20 Review Book Fidelity
8/8/20 Top Tips & Fails That’s What She’s Reading
8/9/20 Playlist All the Ups and Downs
8/10/20 Review Hall Ways Blog
8/11/20 Scrapbook Page The Clueless Gent
8/12/20 Review It’s Not All Gravy
8/13/20 Review Reading by Moonlight

 

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW

LoneStarLitLife

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