Book Review: Backyard Witchcraft by Cecilia Lattari

About the book, Backyard Witchcraft backyardwitchcraft-cover

• Publisher: Ixia Press (September 14, 2022)
• Paperback: 160 pages

Embark on an exploration of modern-day witchcraft, embracing the green path, which connects us to nature.

Herbalist Cecilia Lattari guides readers to reawaken their inner witch by tuning in to the magic and sacred energies of their everyday lives, using the hidden powers of nature to foster positive connections between mind, body, spirit, and living spaces. Filled with colorful, compelling illustrations, this handbook introduces green, hedge, and kitchen witches. Readers will learn how to create their own witch’s tool kits, purify their homes, work with the four natural elements, build magic laboratories, and discover the path that encourages a harmonious transformation.

  • The green witch is a manifestation of Mother Earth, who nurtures, cares, and observes. She practices with herbs, flowers, plants, and remedies, and surely has volumes upon volumes of plant books on her bookshelves.
  • For the kitchen witch food is a gift from Mother Earth. The kitchen is this witch’s sacred space, involving spells of tradition and creation. She works with ordinary tools and knows that cooking reveals our true nature. The kitchen witch understands the sacred aspects of everyday life as she prepares recipes for sacred foods.
  • The eclectic path of the hedge witch includes herbalism, healing, and shamanistic actions. Her focus is the home, and she knows the power of fables and preserves popular knowledge.
  • Take a guided tour of herbs, flowers, plants, poisonous plants, potions, oils, teas, tinctures, and remedies.
  • Learn the magical practices of purification using herbs, bells, candles, and incense.
  • Get in touch with nature by preparing a sacred outdoor space and centering yourself.
  • Learn to grow, harvest, and dry herbs and understand the difference between air, fire, land, and water plants.
  • Observe how the four elements of air, earth, fire, and wind carry messages from nature through various types of plants.

For the modern-day Wicca, backyard gardener, and naturalist, this indispensable guide offers an exploration of the intimate relationship between humans and Mother Earth.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Cecilia Lattari

Cecilia Lattari is a professional actress who graduated from the School of Theater in Bologna and has a degree in Herbalist Techniques. She works in the field of relationships, stimulating people to know the most authentic part of themselves using theatrical practices and sensorial experiences in the world of plants.


My ThoughtsMissMeliss

I have friends who identify as kitchen witches and hedge witches, but I’ve never really known the difference or how those terms apply in the contemporary world. This book, Backyard Witchcraft, is an easy but interesting read that explains the different terms and also introduces people to some of the traits that all witches have, even before they self-identify as such. “All witches have a garden,” is one of the things that really struck me, because while no one in my family practices Wicca, we all have gardens of some kind. Mine is mainly in pots, but apparently that counts. Even having a stash of seeds you intend to plant some day (hi, guilty) counts according to this book.

More than just quietly identifying latent witches, though, Backyard Witchcraft is part manual, part love letter to anyone who wants to get closer to the natural world. Understanding how the elements – fire, water, air, land –  work may seem like magic, but it’s really applied science and observation. Sun-loving plants have different needs from those which prefer shade, after all.

This is one of those books that you can read from cover to cover, but that may be more useful stashed among your cookbooks (especially if you’re a kitchen witch) or herbals (if you’re a green or hedge witch) for reference whenever you need it.

With beautiful pages and clear, concise prose, Backyard Witchcraft is a beautiful addition to anyone’s library, whether they’re a witch or not.

Goes well with: hot herbal tea laced with local honey.


Visit the Other Great Stops on This Tour:

Wednesday, September 14th: Instagram: @drcreadsbooks

Tuesday, September 20th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, September 21st: TikTok: @jessbeyondthepages

Friday, September 23rd: Instagram: @oddandbookish

Monday, September 26th: Stranded in Chaos

Wednesday, September 28th: Instagram: @bookedwithheather

Thursday, September 29th: Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, October 3rd: Instagram: @parksidereads

Tuesday, October 4th: Instagram: @webreakforbooks

Wednesday, October 5th: Instagram: @jypsylynn

Thursday, October 6th: Instagram: @just_another_mother_with_books

Friday, October 14th: Instagram: @books_bulldogs_booze

TBD: Stacy’s Books

TBD: Instagram: @a_bookish_dream

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Review: In Search of the Magic Theatre, by Karla Huebner

About the book, In Search of the Magic TheaterIn-Search-of-the-Magic-Theater-cover

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Regal House Publishing (June 1, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 254 pages

Why, the rather staid young cellist Sarah wonders, should her aunt rent their spare room to the perhaps unstable Kari Zilke? Like the nephew in Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf, Sarah finds herself taking an unexpected interest in the lodger, but she is unable to stop at providing a mere introduction to Kari’s narrative of mid-life crisis and self-discovery, and develops her own more troubled tale of personal angst and growth, entwined with the account Kari herself purportedly left behind. Generational tensions, artistic collaborations, and even a romance steeped in Greek myth follow as Kari and Sarah pursue their very different creative paths in theater and music. And while Kari seems to blossom post-divorce, Sarah must grapple with the question of what the role of mothers, fathers, aunts, mentors, and male collaborators should be in her life as a young musician.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Karla Huebner

Karla Huebner has lived on a boat and worked in factories, offices, theater, publishing, oil refineries, private investigation, and drug rehab. Her fiction has appeared in many literary and genre magazines and her collection Heartwood was a finalist for the 2020 Raz-Shumaker award. She teaches Art History at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and her book Magnetic Woman: Toyen and the Surrealist Erotic is available from University of Pittsburgh Press.

Connect with Karla:

Twitter


My Thoughts

MissMelissIn Search of the Magic Theater is a sort of left-handed coming of age story in which Sarah’s young adulthood is influenced by her observations of  her aunt’s boarder, Kari, and older woman who arrives with a box of LPs (odd when almost all of us switched to CD’s decades ago) and a record player to listen to them with.

Told in alternate POVs we see Sarah, who “plays the cello and reads books like Jane Eyre,” broaden her own world view as she watches the older woman, Kari’s, interactions with a younger man and experimental theater change her as well.

Sarah’s story really resonated with me, as I was once a young woman who read classic novels (I still do) and played the cello (I only noodle at home now). I didn’t have a Kari in my life, but my mother, only twenty years older than I am, has always been freer and bolder than me.

I enjoyed the author’s writing voice a lot, and appreciated the contrast between both women.

This is a fast read, but a surprisingly meaty one, with lots of details about Greek mythology and art history.

Goes well with: baked brie and hard cider.


00-tlc-tour-hostVisit the Other Participants on This Tour

Monday, June 6th: Instagram: @imbookedtonight

Tuesday, June 7th: Instagram: @wovenfromwords

Wednesday, June 8th: Instagram: @audreyoaksreadseverything

Thursday, June 9th: Instagram: @whatlizziereads

Thursday, June 9th: Stacy’s Books

Friday, June 10th: Instagram: @jessicamap

Monday, June 13th: Instagram: @everything.is.words

Wednesday, June 15th: Instagram: @bookish_and_cookish

Thursday, June 16th: Instagram: @hillysreads

Thursday, June 16th: Instagram: @jenniaahava

Friday, June 17th: Instagram: @thereadinggargoyle

Monday, June 20th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, June 22nd: Instagram: @literaryladyreviews

Friday, June 24th: Instagram: @mamabookwormreads

Monday, June 27th: Instagram: @erynereads

Tuesday, June 28th: Instagram: @pocketsized_pageturner

 

Review: Remember Whose Little Girl You Are, by Ellen Nichols

Remember Whose Little Girl You AreAbout the book, Remember Whose Little Girl You Are

• Koehler Books: May 3, 2022
• Paperback: 128 pages

Remember Whose Little Girl You Are captures the flavor of the Deep South like no author since Eudora Welty or Flannery O’Connor. Ellen Nichols captures the tenor of small-town Southern life in the fifties and sixties, with its vicissitudes and hilarity. One is captured with her openness and drawn deeply into the dialogue-so much as to, according to one reader, sometimes feel guilty of spying.

Read it and see if you want those times back-or are just relieved they’re gone.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


nana-headshot-1About the author, Ellen Nichols

Ellen grew up in the American Deep South, but with a spirit of adventure, she went up to Toronto, Canada, to go to graduate school, and stayed 50 years.

No, she wasn’t a slow student, she just ended up getting married, raising a family, and building a successful career in charitable fundraising. She has been writing for a living for years, but was always writing for someone else. Her grant proposals, direct marketing letters, and especially her thank you letters, are legend. Her persuasive writing skills raised millions of dollars.

Those Canadians loved her tales about her southern life so much, she decided to write them down and they became Remember Whose Little Girl You Are.

Recently, she moved back down south where she lives on Santa Rosa Sound near Pensacola. And yes, she is now writing about all her Canadian adventures.

You can learn more about Ellen on her website.


My Thoughts

MissMelissAt only 112 pages Remember Whose Little Girl You Are, with it’s cute cover of a girl in knee-socks, is deceptive. It seems like a light, fluffy read – and parts of it are light (though none of it is fluffy) but it’s really a very rich collection of memories and anecdotes, mostly from the author’s childhood, and early adulthood.

Born a preacher’s daughter in America’s deep South, Nichols grew up during the Civil Rights movement, and was a supporter. Her stories from that time are the strongest in this collection – which really reads more like a an anthology of essays than a single cohesive piece. That’s not a bad thing, but the structure feels a little bit unintentional.

What really sings is the author’s writing voice. The conceit of her book is that she’s sharing memories of her life after losing a parent, and you can hear her Southern identity and her Canadian one in the language she uses, in her phrasing, and in her descriptions, which are vivid and compelling.

I look forward to more from Ms. Nichols.

Goes well with sweet tea and poutine.


00-tlc-tour-hostVisit the Other Great Participants on This Tour

Monday, May 30th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Tuesday, May 31st: The Bookish Dilettante

Wednesday, June 1st: Books, Cooks, and Looks

Friday, June 3rd: Stranded in Chaos

Monday, June 6th: Instagram: @megsbookclub

Wednesday, June 8th: Instagram: @jenniaahava

Friday, June 10th: Helen’s Book Blog

Monday, June 13th: 5 Minutes For Books

Tuesday, June 14th: Instagram: @americanlitteacher

Wednesday, June 15th: Instagram: @shook_sbooks

Thursday, June 16th: Bibliotica

Friday, June 17th: Instagram: @bookworm.susanc

Monday, June 20th: Stacy’s Books

Thursday, June 23rd: What Is That Book About

Friday, June 24th: View from the Birdhouse

TBD: Thursday, June 2nd: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

TBD: Monday, June 6th: Laura’s Reviews

 

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

Review: The Door-Man, by Peter M. Wheelwright

About the book, The Door-Man

• Publisher: Fomite (February 1, 2022)
• Paperback: 388 pages

The Door-ManIn 1917, during the construction of a large reservoir in the Catskill hamlet of Gilboa, New York, a young paleontologist named Winifred Goldring identified fossils from an ancient forest flooded millions of years ago when the earth’s botanical explosion of oxygen opened a path for the evolution of humankind. However, the reservoir water was needed for NYC, and the fossils were buried once again during the flooding of the doomed town.

A mix of fact and fiction, The Door-Man follows three generations of interwoven families who share a deep wound from Gilboa’s last days. The story is told by Winifred’s grandson, a disaffected NYC doorman working near the Central Park Reservoir during its decommissioning in 1993.

The brief and provisional nature of one’s life on earth – and the nested histories of the places, people and events that give it meaning – engender a reckoning within the tangled roots and fragile bonds of family.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Peter M. Wheelwright

Peter-WheelwrightPeter is a writer, architect, and educator. He is Emeritus Professor at The New School, Parsons School of Design in New York City, where he taught design and wrote on matters of environmental philosophy, design theory, and social practices in the built and natural worlds. Peter comes from a family of writers with an abiding affection for the natural world. His uncle Peter Matthiessen was a three time National Book Award winner, and his brother Jeff Wheelwright is a writer of environmental non-fiction. Educated at Trinity College where he studied painting and sculpture, he went on to receive his Master in Architecture from Princeton University. As an architect, his design work has been widely published in both the national and international press. The Kaleidoscope House, a modernist dollhouse designed in collaboration with artist Laurie Simmons is in the Collection of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art.

Connect with Peter:

Website | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

MissMelissUnlike many of the others who have reviewed The Door-Man for this tour, I’m not fameyiliar with Richard Powers. I came to this novel after a re-read of a bunch of Dan Brown novels, and my experience with it was shaped by the writing of John Stilgoe, whose books like Outside Lies Magic teach us to see beyond the surface of our surroundings

The image of bones in the water, from the opening scenes of this book, will haunt me for a long time. It’s such a visceral concept, and even though it exists only in the mind of the main character Winifred Goldring, it’s one that really sets the tone for this novel.

And what a novel it is! Peter Wheelwright has spun a story that combines an imaginative tale, one that speaks to those of us who grew up reading things like Jurassic Park, with just enough real history to lend the whole work an air of verisimilitude. The city of Gilboa, NY,  for example, really did create a reservoir that flooded out some of the world’s oldest trees, moving the town to accommodate the needed water supply.

I’d never heard of Gilboa before reading The Door-Man, but I have always been fascinated by the idea of flooded towns, whether they are actual towns (there’s one in the the Dakotas) or bad B-movies on SyFy.

But Wheelwright’s novel is no b-movie. Rather, it’s a thoughtful, immersive tale of the generations of (fictional) people who were affected by the events in Gilboa, focusing on one family in particular, and moving back and forth in time as it weaves their story into the actual history of the region.

We are introduced to “the men of the family” by Winfred, but the story also introduces us to Piedmont Livingston Kinsolver, who tells us, “I am only a door-man, one of many along Central Park West. No one suspects that it is my considered choice.”

Combining history, science, and family drama, The Door-Man is a novel for those of us who look at the world around us and wonder, “What if?”

Goes well with: clam chowder from an old family recipe, and crusty bread.


Review Stops TLC Book Tours

Wednesday, February 2nd: Books, Cooks, and Looks

Friday, February 4th: Instagram: @just_another_mother_with_books

Monday, February 7th: Musings of a Literary Wanderer

Tuesday, February 8th: Run Wright

Wednesday, February 9th: Instagram: @readingfortheseasons

Tuesday, February 15th: Instagram: @rynicolereads

Wednesday, February 16th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Thursday, March 3rd: Instagram: @hillysreads

Monday, March 14th: Lit and Life

TBD: Instagram: @babygotbooks4life

TBD: BookNAround

TBD: Wednesday, March 15th: Bibliotica

Spotlight and Excerpt Tour: The Summer Getaway, by Susan Mallery

About the Book, The Summer Getaway The Summer Getaway

  • Publisher: HQN; Original edition (March 15, 2022)
  • Hardcover: 416 pages

One woman discovers the beauty in chaos in this poignant and heartwarming story about the threads that hold family together from #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery.

One woman discovers the beauty in chaos in this poignant and heartwarming story about the threads that hold family together from #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery.

With her divorce settlement about to run out and a mortgage she can’t afford, Robyn Caldwell needs a plan for her future. She nurtured her family and neglected herself. But how’s she supposed to think when her daughter has become the most demanding bride ever, her son won’t even consider college, her best friend is on the brink of marital disaster and her ex is making a monumentally bad decision that could bring everything crashing down on Robyn’s head? So when her great-aunt Lillian invites her to Santa Barbara for the summer, Robyn hops on the first plane.

But it’s hard to run away when you’re the heart of the family. One by one, everyone she left behind follows her across the country. Somehow, their baggage doesn’t feel as heavy in the sun-drenched, mishmash mansion. The more time Robyn spends with free-spirited Lillian, the more she sees the appeal in taking chances—on dreams, on love, on family. Life is meant to be lived on purpose. All she has to do is muster the courage to take a chance on herself.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Pre-order from Amazon | Add to Goodreads


About the Author, Susan Mallery

Susan MalleryOne woman discovers the beauty in chaos in this poignant and heartwarming story about the threads that hold family together from #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery.

With her divorce settlement about to run out and a mortgage she can’t afford, Robyn Caldwell needs a plan for her future. She nurtured her family and neglected herself. But how’s she supposed to think when her daughter has become the most demanding bride ever, her son won’t even consider college, her best friend is on the brink of marital disaster and her ex is making a monumentally bad decision that could bring everything crashing down on Robyn’s head? So when her great-aunt Lillian invites her to Santa Barbara for the summer, Robyn hops on the first plane.

But it’s hard to run away when you’re the heart of the family. One by one, everyone she left behind follows her across the country. Somehow, their baggage doesn’t feel as heavy in the sun-drenched, mishmash mansion. The more time Robyn spends with free-spirited Lillian, the more she sees the appeal in taking chances—on dreams, on love, on family. Life is meant to be lived on purpose. All she has to do is muster the courage to take a chance on herself.

Connect with Susan:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


Read an Excerpt

Since her parents’ divorce four years ago, Cord Caldwell had been enjoying the single life. He was a serial dater who always had a girlfriend. The longest she’d known him to be without someone in his life was maybe three days. Her mother, on the other hand, had waited a year to start dating. She told Harlow that she hadn’t met anyone interesting enough to see more than a couple of times. That had changed about a year ago, when her mom had gotten involved with Jase, a local cardiologist. They’d become a thing, dating exclusively. Her mother rarely shared details, unlike her dad, who sometimes told her too much.

She waited a couple of minutes, but her father showed no signs of ending the call. Finally she caught his eye and tapped on her watch.

“Hey, let me call you back,” he said, his tone low and sexy. “Uh-huh. Me, too.”

Harlow did her best not to gag. Yes, she and her father were both adults, but she didn’t like seeing this side of him. He was her parent, not a friend. But Cord had never been big on boundaries.

“What’s up?” he asked when he’d ended the call.

“We’re back from the charter.” She tossed him the keys. “She’s clean and ready for tomorrow. Austin’s off, and I’m taking out the fishermen. I’ll be back at five thirty.” In the morning. Not her favorite, but part of the job. “You’ll look over the paperwork from the lawyer?”

Her father hesitated just long enough for her to guess the truth. “Dad, why won’t you read through the offer? You have to agree to the terms before we can move forward on buying the business.”

“I’ll get to it.”

“It’s been nearly a week. Can you read it tonight?”

“Sure. Tonight.”

She ignored her surge of frustration. “We talked about this all last summer. You said it was a great idea for us to expand into the easy money of kayak and paddleboard rentals. I did everything you said. I found a good business to buy, I came up with a business plan, I talked to a lawyer, and now we’re ready to present an offer as soon as you say go. Have you changed your mind?”

“I’ve been busy, Harlow. I’ll get to it.”

When? But she knew there was no point in pushing. Her father moved at his own pace.

“Then I guess I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said before walking out of his office.

She collected her handbag, then joined Enid out front.

“What?” her friend asked. “You upset?”

“It’s just my dad. He’s dragging his feet on the purchase.”

“Of the business you want him to buy?”

“Yeah. But I’ll let it go. Come on, you. We’ll have the best girls’ night out ever.”

Enid laughed. “That’s a very high bar.”


Check Out the Other Great Blogs on this Tour

Monday, February 21st: Books Cooks Looks

Tuesday, February 22nd: Reading Reality

Wednesday, February 23rd:SusanLovesBooks

Thursday, February 24th: Kahakai Kitchen

Friday, February 25th: From the TBR Pile

Friday, February 25th: View from the Birdhouse

Sunday, February 27th: Subakka.bookstuff

Monday, February 28th: Laura’s Reviews

Tuesday, March 1st: Bookchickdi

Wednesday, March 2nd: The Bookish Dilettante

Thursday, March 3rd: What is That Book About

Friday, March 4th: The Romance Dish

Sunday, March 6th: The Cozy Book Blog

Monday, March 7th: Girl Who Reads

Tuesday, March 8th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, March 9th: Helen’s Book Blog

Thursday, March 10th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Friday, March 11th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Sunday, March 13th: Novel Gossip

Monday, March 14th: Books and Bindings

 

This Excerpt Tour is hosted by TLC Book Tours.

 

Review: Shapeshifting by Michelle Ross

ShapeshiftingAbout the book: Shapeshifting: Stories

  • Publisher: Stillhouse Press
  • Paperback: 232 pages

The fourteen spellbinding stories in Michelle Ross’s second collection invite readers into the shadows of social-media perfectionism and the relentless cult of motherhood. A recovering alcoholic navigates the social landscape of a toddler playdate; a mother of two camps out in a van to secure her son’s spot at a prestigious kindergarten; a young girl forces her friends to play an elaborate, unwinnable game. With unflinching honesty and vivid, lyric prose, Ross explores the familial ties that bind us together-or, sometimes, tear us apart.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Goodreads


About the author, Michelle Ross

Michelle Ross is the author of three story collections, There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You, winner of the 2016 Moon City Press Short Fiction Award and Finalist for the 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award for Short Stories, Shapeshifting, winner of the Stillhouse Press Short Story Award (forthcoming in 2021), and They Kept Running, winner of the 2021 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction (forthcoming in Spring 2022). Her fiction has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, The Common, Epiphany, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, TriQuarterly, Witness, and other venues. Her fiction has been selected for Best Microfiction, Best Small Fictions, and the Wigleaf Top 50, among other anthologies. She is fiction editor of Atticus Review and was a consulting editor for the 2018 Best Small Fictions anthology. A native of Texas, she received her B.A. from Emory University and her M.F.A and M.A. from Indiana University. She currently lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband and son.

Connect with Michelle:

Website


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellMichelle Ross’s collection of short stories, Shapeshifting, is a haunting, provocative anthology focusing on motherhood and womanhood, and how the two are intertwined.

These  fourteen stories are not shiny, fluffy, stories about how becoming a mother is the be-all and end-all of life. Rather they are  often hilarious, sometimes dark glimpses at the struggle to retain oneself within the context of being responsible for another human being.

Rather than the retouched moms and tots we see on Instagram, these stories show a mother sleeping in a van with her still-nursing baby to get her other child into the right school, while her husband can’t even feed said child dinner because he’s busy running parenting support groups and offering advice. Ross also shows us a mother separated from her adult daughter and the bitter, skewed images each has of the other, and the collection goes on – different mothers, different stages of motherhood, all flawed and dimensional and real. All individual women.

What I loved about Ross’s writing, in addition to her brutal clarity, was the detail she put in each story – the way mothers will extend their arms to keep their children safe in their plane or car seats, even though they have seat belts – something my own mother still does when we’re in a car together even though I’m now fifty-one.

Motherhood is often called a transformative experience. Ross’s stories look at the truth of those transformations, these shifting shapes of our bodies, our minds, and our souls and reveal the parts we think, but don’t share. They are compelling mirrors of the lives of women.

Goes well with: hot coffee, a cinnamon pastry, and twenty minutes of solitude.


00-tlc-tour-hostTour Stops

Monday, January 3rd: Lit and Life

Wednesday, January 5th: @purrfectpages

Wednesday, January 5th: @openbookbyleila

Thursday, January 6th: @nurse_bookie

Friday, January 7th: @webreakforbooks

Monday, January 10th: Stranded in Chaos and @sarastrand9438

Tuesday, January 11th: @secretreadinglife

Wednesday, January 12th: @lyon.brit.andthebookshelf

Wednesday, January 12th: Bibliotica

Thursday, January 13th: @mommaleighellensbooknook

Friday, January 14th: 5 Minutes for Mom

Monday, January 17th: The Cozy Book Blog

Monday, January 17th: @nerdy_book_lover_1987

Tuesday, January 18th: Forever Lost in Literature

Wednesday, January 19th: Musings of a Literary Wanderer

Thursday, January 20th: @megsbookclub

Friday, January 21st: @kristens.reading.nook

Friday, January 21st: @wonderousreads

Monday, January 24th: Reading is My Remedy

Tuesday,  January 25th: Run Wright and @karen_runwrightreads

Wednesday, January 26th: @kelly_hunsaker_reads

Review: Wild Seas, by Thomas Peschak

About the book Wild Seas

• Publisher: National Geographic (November 30, 2021)
• Hardcover: 240 pages

Wild SeasOne of @NatGeo’s most popular nature photographers shares 200 breathtaking images — and the stories behind them — from a wide swath of wild ocean locales around the globe.

From gregarious gray whales plying the waters of Baja California to acrobatic manta rays in the Maldives and parading penguins in Antarctica, National Geographic photographer Thomas Peschak has spent a lifetime documenting the beauty and fragility of underwater life and the majesty of wild coastlines.

This awe-inspiring book of photography charts his transformation from marine biologist to full-time conservation advocate, armed with little more than a mask, fins and a camera. In these vivid pages, Peschak photographs sharks in a feeding frenzy, tracks sea turtles the size of bears, and dodges marine poachers, to reveal the splendor of pristine seas as well as the dark side of pollution, overfishing, and climate change.

Filled with magnificent images from Southern Africa, the Galápagos, Seychelles, and more, this illuminating collection offers an impassioned case for revering and preserving the world’s oceans.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Thomas Peschak

Thomas Peschak is a National Geographic photographer who documents the beauty and fragility of the world’s oceans and coasts. Originally trained as a marine biologist, he embraced photography after realizing his images could have a greater conservation impact than his research. As the Director of Storytelling for the Save our Seas Foundation and a National Geographic Society Fellow, he merges science with photojournalism to tackle critical conservation issues. His TED Talk, “Dive into an Ocean Photographer’s World” has been viewed more than one million times. When he is not underwater or exploring remote islands, Peschak calls Cape Town, South Africa home.


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellOpening Thomas Peschak’s new book, Wild Seas, is an amazing experience. Full color photos spread across the initial pages, and continue on almost every subsequent page, generally with brief captions clarifying what each image presents, and where it was captured. It’s almost as though one is stepping into an art exhibit rather than merely turning pages in a book, and, in fact, there have been exhibits that included some of the photos from this piece.

But Wild Seas is more than just pretty pictures. It also tells a story: Peschak’s own story, in which we learn about his childhood, his educational background, and what drew him to a great love of our planet’s oceans and their inhabitants, and how that love led to a career as one of National Geographic’s most popular lensmen. It is that story that had me turning page after page. The pictures, of course, are amazing, but the glimpse at the artist who took them, is equally so.

Ecology, oceanography, marine biology, and art all coalesce in this beautiful book. It’s heavy – the kind of book you leave on the coffee table so you can pick it up every so often and revisit your favorite sections (for me, it’s the chapters on Manta Rays and Sharks)  – and that your friends will gush over when you see it.

As the quotation goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In Wild Seas, Thomas Peschak shows that with words and with photos, he’s a serious storyteller.

Goes well with: Steamed mussels with garlic and butter, and a crisp Pinot Grigio.


Review Stops

00-tlc-tour-hostSunday, December 5th: Stranded in Chaos

Tuesday, December 7th: Instagram: @geronimoreads

Wednesday, December 8th: Bibliotica

Thursday, December 9th: Jathan & Heather

Monday, December 13th: Instagram: @pickagoodbook

Tuesday, December 14th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Wednesday, December 15th: Man of La Book

Friday, December 17th: Kahakai Kitchen

TBD: Instagram: @oomilyreads

TBD: Instagram: @reading_with_nicole

TBD: BookNAround

Or visit the page for this tour at TLC Book Tours.

Review: I Am Beauty: Timeless Skincare and Beauty for Women 40 and Over, by Riku Campo

About the Book, I Am Beauty: Timeless Skincare and Beauty for Women 40 and Over

• Publisher: HarperOne (September 15, 2020)
• Hardcover: 240 pages

I Am Beauty-CoverA groundbreaking celebration of ageless beauty, providing the ultimate skincare and makeup guide for women in their forties and beyond from celebrity makeup artist Riku Campo.

The first makeup guide to celebrate and support women forty and over, I Am Beauty is Riku Campo’s labor of love. Riku has worked with some of the most beautiful and recognized faces in the world, like Cindy Crawford, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Anne Hathaway. But he has always wanted to create a book honoring those women we don’t always see on the runaways and in magazines—women like his mother, whose beauty is everlasting.

I Am Beauty includes step-by-step tutorials, advice from skincare experts, and Riku’s best behind-the-chair tips every woman needs to revitalize her routine, including:

  • Day and night skincare routines that keep you fresh and beautiful, whether you’re in your forties, fifties, sixties, or beyond
  • At-home facial massages to stimulate collagen production and optimal skin health
  • Must-have everyday makeup tools
  • Choosing the right foundation for all skin tones, types, and textures
  • Tricks for modern, elegant eyebrows and keeping lipstick fresh all day
  • Eyeshadow colors and types that work best on mature skin
  • Finding the eyeglass designs that best complement your style and daily makeup

Riku also has one-on-one conversations and day-and-night makeovers with sixteen incredible women—each with her own unique style—and shares their secrets for finding beauty in all parts of life.

Comprehensive, practical, and inspiring, packed with more than 100 full-color photos, I Am Beauty is the ultimate resource for women to maintain their glow and live their most joyful, beautiful lives.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Riku Campo

Riku CampoFinnish-born international skincare expert, makeup artist, and beauty director Riku Campo has worked as a makeup artist since 1988 and has lived in the United States since 2003. His work has been featured in major fashion and beauty magazines and ad campaigns for L’oreal, Neiman Marcus, Saks, Smashbox, Guess, and others, and he has worked with some of Hollywood’s most renowned actresses. Riku is passionate about bringing out the beauty of many different women by highlighting their own personal style. Instead of following strict rules, he believes in using makeup to bring out joy and confidence.

Connect with Riku:

Find our more about Riku on his website, Instagram, and Facebook.


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellEven if you work from home and only wear makeup if you have to go out, or be on a Zoom call – like me – Riku Campo’s I Am Beauty is an essential read. As we age (I turned 51 a few months ago) our skin changes. If we were oily as teenagers, chances are we’re dryer (but with fewer wrinkles) and we don’t know how to deal with dry skin. If we have always been dry, we might not have been moisturizing correctly. Campo covers all of that, and more.

Aided by the work of photographer Samantha Rapp, Campo talks about what makeup to choose, not so much specific brands, but types – water based vs. oil, powder vs. cream – and what eyeshadow colors give us the most natural look. All of this advice is offered with sensitivity and tact. You never feel pandered to or like a face without a person behind it.

What I really loved, though, were the day-to-night makeovers featured in the book. While still respecting each woman’s own style, Campo demonstrated transformations that ranged from the subtle to the sublime and explained how he achieved each look. It was incredibly informative.

I loved everything about this book.

It should be required reading for every woman who wants to look her best at any age.

Goes well with: a glass of cucumber water, some grilled shrimp, avocado, and cherry tomatoes.

 


Review Stops 00-tlc-tour-host

Monday, September 20th: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, September 21st: Instagram: @readalotwritealot

Wednesday, September 22nd: Books, Cooks, and Looks

Thursday, September 23rd: Stacy’s Books

Friday, September 24th: What Is That Book About

Monday, September 27th: Instagram: @mrsboomreads

Tuesday, September 28th: Instagram: @pickagoodbook

Wednesday, September 29th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Friday, October 1st: Instagram: @jenniaahava

Monday, October 4th: Run Wright

Tuesday, October 5th: Instagram: @nurse_bookie

Wednesday, October 6th: Instagram: @oddandbookish

Monday, October 11th: Instagram: @andrea.c.lowry.reads

Wednesday, October 13th: Instagram: @bookishly_overdue

Monday, December 6th, Bibliotica

 

 

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