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#NetGalley #BookReview of The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman #Holocaust #HistoricalFiction #MagicRealism

The World That We Knew

by Alice Hoffman

The World That We Knew Cover

Release date: September 24th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada in order to read and give an honest review.

A huge fan of Alice Hoffman I was eager to read “The World That We Knew” and I was not disappointed. This is a beautifully-written, heartbreaking and poignant story following the lives of Jewish children fleeing the German occupation.

…a hauntingly meaningful story filled with good vs. evil and shows what love, family, loyalty and survival mean during the darkest moments of humanity…

When Hanni Kohn realizes she must send her daughter Lea away to safety from the German occupation she is aware she cannot go with her. Hanni looks for a suitable escort who would love and protect her daughter the way she would while she must stay to care for her invalid mother. Desperate she remembers the story of the Golem from Jewish folklore and enlists the help of her local Rabbis daughter, Ettie. One dark night Ettie, her sister Marta and Hanni break curfew to go to the water and create a Golem named Ava out of the pure river clay. Ava’s sole purpose in life is to protect Lea and lead her to safety. In return for creating the Golem, Ettie receives payment and insists that she and her sister be able to join Ava and Lea. They initially board a train to head to her mother’s cousins in Paris and are separated while escaping the Nazi’s as they take over the train. Once in Paris, Lea and Ava form strong bonds with the two sons until the Nazi’s occupy Paris forcing the children to flee again together. Separated along the way they cross paths with others, creating friendships, sharing bonds and losing people along the way trying to reach safety at the Swiss border. Their stories interconnect and show the resilience of bonds tested by events that would be devastating to adults. Although the story shows Ava who communes with Angels and can foresee futures, the magic realism doesn’t overshadow the story of what the children endure during the Nazi occupation.
Knowing and having connections with several Holocaust survivors over the years and hearing their stories, Hoffmans’ story feels so incredibly real. Showing the holocaust through the eyes of children is gutwrenching but this book was perhaps one of the most emotionally difficult to read and will be one that will stick with me for a long time. This really is a hauntingly meaningful story filled with good vs. evil that shows what love, family, loyalty and survival mean during the darkest moments of humanity. I would definitely recommend and beware it’s an emotional rollercoaster!

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#NetGalley #BookReview of Fallen by Benedict Jacka #AlexVerus #UrbanFantasy

Review

Fallen by Benedict Jacka Cover

Fallen

Alex Verus #10

by Benedict Jacka

Release date: September 24th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Fallen (Alex Verus #10) by Benedict Jacka from NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group/ Penguin Random House in order to read and give an honest review.

… is a brilliant, page-turner which is perhaps my favourite in the series…

I am a huge fan of Benedict Jacka and was so I was thrilled for the opportunity to read and review the tenth instalment in his Alex Verus series. I really enjoy this series, it’s such a unique, fast-paced urban fantasy, filled with magic, mystery and mayhem.    

Definitely not a stand-alone, Fallen picks up with the fallout from San Vittore as witnessed in his last book Marked.  So much has happened to Mage Alex Verus and his friends and in this book, we see Alex face a whole new set of challenges. The council becomes a huge issue and we see a significant departure from the normal Alex we’ve followed through the previous books. In Fallen, we see the “normal’ good guy Verus, change into a more ruthless and cut-throat Alex.  Sadly, we also say goodbye (hopefully, not permanently) to a main and much-beloved character and Alex’s old life as he knew it. This book has the usual cast of characters, Anne, Luna Varium, Arachne, the quirky air elemental, Starbreeze and some of the ones we love to hate. Dark mage Richard, Rachel/Deleo, Onyx and Cinder all reappear to make this perhaps one of the more action-packed books in the series to date.

As always, Jacka does an amazing job and putting Alex in almost inescapable situations where he’s damned if he does or damned if he doesn’t and Fallen is no exception. The Council decides to put a warrant out for both Anne and Alex their life is changed forever. On the run, and using stones to jump through gate after gate, they also have to contend with another problem. When Richard hatches a plan that involves capturing Anne and forcing her to do his bidding Versus must fight for her even if it means his death.

Without giving away much more this is such a brilliant, page-turner and I have to say is perhaps my favourite in the series! I would highly recommend it!

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview of Gallows Court by Martin Edwards #Mystery #GoldenAge

 

Review

Gallows Court Cover

Gallows Court

by Martin Edwards

Release date: September 17th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Gallows Court by Martin Edwards from NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press in order to read and give an honest review.

“…interesting characters, an atmospheric, intricate and extremely clever plot filled with a head-spinning amount of twists, turns and perfectly placed red-herrings.”

New to author Martin Edwards, I am so impressed with Gallows Court! This novel is right out of the Golden Age of Mystery and I loved it! Edwards has created an intriguing and dynamic story to rival those of such greats as Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen but with his own unique twist. 

Set in  London, 1930, ambitious crime writer Jacob Flint tries to work his way up the ladder at a disreputable rag called “The Clarion”. Pursuing a story about a string of mysterious deaths, his path crosses with the late Judge Savernake’s daughter, Rachel Savernake an amateur sleuth, who was capable of solving a crime that had Scotland stymied. Getting a scoop from the infamous and very wealthy Ms Savernake would catapult him to the top of his field. While fed anonymous tips, interviewing witnesses and following bizarre leads Jacob is led into some questionable situations which seem to cast his suspicions on Rachel and makes him realize there is more going on than meets the eye.  

This book had it all, interesting characters, an atmospheric, intricate and extremely clever plot, filled with a head-spinning amount of twists, turns and perfectly placed red-herrings. All in all an extremely satisfying read and one that I highly recommend.

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#NetGalley #BookReview How to #Draw and #Write in #FountainPen A Modern Guide by Ayano Usamura

 

Review

How to Draw and Write in FountainPen

A Modern Guide

by Ayano Usamura

Release date: September 17th, 2019

How to Draw and Write in Fountain Pen Cover

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of How to Draw and Write in FountainPen
A Modern Guide by Ayano Usamura from NetGalley and The Experiment Publishing Company in order to read and give an honest review.

“a fun, informative well written with great step-by-step illustrations, this book is a must-have for all those who are crafty or  love to add a little creativity to their journals…”

Whether you’re familiar with using a fountain pen or a complete novice this book offers how-to’s, tips and tricks to help you get the most out of writing with a fountain pen.  I have been using a fountain pen since I inherited my grandfather’s old Sheaffer Imperial when I was eight years old (many moons ago). I still have that pen but over the years have added about 15 more to my collection.  Although I have always written with them, I have never used fountain pens favouring technical pens for any inked artistic drawings. 

I have been journaling for years and over the past few have decided to add art and organization to my journalling practice.  My bullet journal has evolved from simple to-do lists into an artistic, fun, motivating and inspiring record of plans, goals and trackers. This book is fantastic in the fact it offers so much that both novice and experienced users will find useful. I for one loved the detailed how-tos for creating quick fun doodles for my bujo spreads which I am now using my fountain pens to create.

I highly recommend this book, it’s a fun, informative well written with great step-by-step illustrations, this book is a must-have for all those who are crafty or love to add a little creativity to their journals.

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#NetGalley #BookReview of The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow #SciFi #Fantasy #Portals

Review

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

by Alix E. Harrow

Release date: September 10th, 2019

Ten Thousand Doors of January Cover

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Ten Thousand Doors of January
by Alix E. Harrow from NetGalley and Redhook Books in order to read and give an honest review.

Since tales of Narnia and Oz, stories about secret portals to other worlds have been embraced by readers young and old.  The idea of quickly transporting to new and exciting locations always seems to thrill us and the Ten Thousand Doors of January is no exception.  Author Alix E. Harrow beautifully crafts her debut novel to appeal to those who love to escape into the written word.  

The author introduces us to a young January Scaller who is intelligent, well-read and inquisitive.  Her father a treasure hunter of sorts has left January in the care of his employer a rather wealthy and well-respected collector, Mr Locke, after her mother’s disappearance. Being of mixed race at the turn of the century, January has always felt out of place in Mr Locke’s social circle but Mr Locke and his money have always provided her with more than she needs. Well educated, well cared for and lavished with gifts, January has it all but is still unhappy. Her father Julian is always away hunting down artefacts for Mr Locke, leaving January alone much of the time. Although lonely and missing her father she has one friend, the local grocer’s son, Samuel who gives her a pup called Bad (Sinbad) so she never feels alone, cements their friendship which will endure time and the trials which lie ahead.  

January discovers a strange door, which, at the time she doesn’t realize, will change the course of her life forever. When a mysterious friend of her father, Jane, comes to assist Mr Locke in January’s care she gets the friendship of another woman. When she receives a mysterious book on her seventeenth birthday which delves into mysterious doors to new worlds and the intriguing adventures of Adelaid Lee Larson, she discovers much more than she bargained for.   When Mr Locke begins realizing that January is close to discovering a secret, a secret that he has kept at all costs, her kindly old guardian and his friends become her worse nightmare come true. Isolated from her friends and facing insurmountable odds, she realizes what true friendship is when her friends’ rally around her and begin an adventure that will change their lives forever. 

Without giving too much away Ms Harrow has crafted an incredible novel that is full of intelligence, beauty, whimsy, tragedy and just pure entertainment.  Well-written, with unique multi-faceted characters and imaginative plotlines, this is perhaps one of my favourite reads of the year and I highly recommend it!  

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#NetGalley #BookReview A Course in Meditation A 21-Day Workout for Your Consciousness by Osho #Health #Mindfulness #Meditation

Review

A Course in Meditation

A 21-Day Workout for Your Consciousness

by Osho

Release date: September 3rd, 2019

A Course In Meditation Cover

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Course in Meditation:
A 21-Day Workout for Your Consciousness by Osho from NetGalley and Crown Publishing/Harmony in order to read and give an honest review.

“…well-written, user-friendly and Osho’s experience and wisdom shines through…”

Whether you’re experienced in meditation or new to the practice, A Course in Meditation: A 21-Day Workout for Your Consciousness by Osho is a great book for everyone.

I gravitated towards meditation when I was facing health issues and found it so beneficial but sadly over the spring, I hadn’t been as consistent. I have to admit “A Course in Meditation”, a twenty-one-day course, really helped me get back on track and I am happy to say I am now back to a daily practice.

Each day the book tackles a subject whether it is relating, balance, anger or maturity, just to name a few, you get Osho’s insights, meditations and techniques to help you put the concepts into practice, and each day finishes with a quote to keep you inspired all day.

This is a book I would highly recommend, it’s well-written, user-friendly and Osho’s experience and wisdom shines through! A must-have for all those who would like to have more balance in their lives and enhance their well-being.

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Autumn is Upon Us🍂🍁🍃 ~ #amwriting #studying #revisions #bookreviews #creating

 

“Don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Sept

Time seems to fly by…it’s hard to believe the summer is over and autumn is on its way, replete with, warm blankets, pumpkin spice lattes (yes, I’m a pumpkin person…don’t judge😉 ) and cuddling up in the cosiness reading a book and writing.

Moving forward I have a few months full of studying, working on multiple projects, revising and researching.  Looks like I will be kept extremely busy in the months ahead, as a result, I will be taking a hiatus from my coaching practice at IgniteYourCreativity.net and returning with new programs and classes in Winter of 2020.

Over at Professor Owl’s Book Corner, we recently published our Back-to-School Newsletter. This month features some great book recommendations, literacy tutoring and creative writing inspiration for our young writers. 

On August 30th, we celebrated our twenty-seventh instalment of the “We Are The World Blogfest” #WATWB.  We have been going strong and send a huge thank you to everyone who has been participating.  Our next post is on September 27th, 2019!

Wondering what #WATWB is all about? The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their positive stories led by five co-hosts. If you are interested in learning more about this or to join us please click here for details. 

Wishing everyone a successful September…wherever you may be in your day or evening, I hope you are making your fondest dreams a reality!

Live, laugh & love! ❤

“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt

#amwriting #revisions #rewrites #researching #urbanfantasy #alchemy #mystery #historicalfiction #learning #studying #archaeology #forensicanthropology #manuscriptstudies #palaeography  #codicology #history #art #WATWB #bookreviews #art #volunteering #transcribing #amreading #photography #blogging #authorinterviews #journaling

#WATWB, Quotes

When A Negative Turns Into A Positive #WATWB

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Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by five co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are  Susan Scott, Peter Nena, Shilpa Garg, Mary J. Giese and Damyanti Biswas.  Our next post is on September 27th, 2019! To learn more about WATWB or to join us click here. For updates, news and monthly reminder notifications please join us on our FB page here or follow us on our new Twitter account: @WATWB


“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” ~ Wendy Mass

This is a quote that I love and it rings so true especially in the case of Randa Ragland. When young Mom of five Randa Ragland received a letter in her mailbox from a neighbour calling her house an “eyesore” because the grass and shrubs were so overgrown she was understandably upset.

Complaint Letter to Randa

Ragland whose three-year-old non-verbal autistic son Jaxsen had recently been diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, a form of cancer had her hands full. Between taking care of her other children and hospital trips with Jaxsen she didn’t have the time or energy to do much work on her lawn. Frustrated the then took to her Facebook page to explain the state of her house and why it looks the way it does. Little did she know that post, venting her frustration would prompt kind volunteers to unite together and help Randa.

A dedicated group of volunteers including a landscaping company, came to her aid cleaning up her lawn, purchasing supplies for Jaxsen and banding to form a support network for her.

Joey Harding was one such volunteer who showed up to pitch in. He lost his own daughter, Lulu, to the exact same type of cancer that Jaxen is suffering from.

“Words can’t describe what this means to me right now,” he told ABC 7. “It’s helping me cope with losing my daughter, to help another family in need.”

via https://globalnews.ca/news/5735747/mom-son-cancer-gets-spiteful-note/

To see what her neighbours did, watch the video below:

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#NetGalley #BookReview Mythos by Stephen Fry #Greek #Mythology

Review

Mythos Cover

Mythos

by Stephen Fry

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Mythos by Stephen Fry from NetGalley and Chronicle Books in order to read and give an honest review.

I have been a fan of Stephen Fry for a long time. His books are always enjoyable, packed with flowing prose, interesting stories and rife with Fry’s sardonic wit.

In Mythos, Fry creates an informative, comedic and quirky retelling of Greek Myths the only way he can, brilliantly.   One thing that is evident in Mythos is that Fry not only has a passion for his subject matter but a passion for language and storytelling in general. Fry’s Mythos is like sitting with a friend as he regales you with stories, adding little side notes such as the greek origins of many words and shares poems and plays inspired by the myths.  He starts right at creation and takes us through we meet everyone from Kronus to Midas each brought to life with Fry’s unique storytelling.

I really enjoyed Mythos, although to some it may seem a bit self-indulgent of Fry I thought it was an incredibly unique take on the Greek Myths which many of us have tried and failed to digest. It’s a highly entertaining and informative read that I would highly recommend.

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#NetGalley #BookReview of The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal #HistoricalFiction #Gothic

Review

The Doll Factory

by Elizabeth Macneal

The Doll Factory Cover

Release date: August 13th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Doll Factory
by Elizabeth Macneal from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada in order to read and give an honest review.

a dark, atmospheric work of gothic historical fiction which chills and thrills right to the very end…”

In this debut novel from Elizabeth Macneal we get a dark, atmospheric work of gothic historical fiction which chills and thrills right to the very end.  Wonderfully written with uniquely written characters and an accurate interpretation of 1850’s London The Doll Factory takes dark unrequited love and obsession to a new level.  

 Our protagonist Iris and her sister, Rose work in a Doll shop for the cruel and intolerant Mrs Salter.  Their life is monotonous to poor Iris who finds painting dolls to be stifling especially when her true desire is to become one of the first respected female artists of the time.  Iris feels it necessary to hide her artwork from the prying eyes of Mrs Salter and her sister Rose.  Rose after being scarred severely by smallpox, becomes jealous and often cruel to her sister after she loses her fiancé due to her looks.  One day through a young street urchin, Albie, Iris meets taxidermist and curiosity shop owner, Silas. At first glance, Silas is besotted with her and his life becomes built around his disturbing obsession with Iris, creating a fantasy about her and their ‘perfect’ future together.  When Iris gets an opportunity to model and be tutored by an up and coming artist, the handsome and debonair Louis Frost, things seem to be turning around for her but Louis is distraught by the news. Louis who a client of Silas, often purchasing taxidermy animals as models for his work has treated Silas poorly, playing cruel pranks on him which Silas will not forget.  Despite being disowned by her sister and parents for choosing a profession not becoming of a lady, Iris decides to quit her job and follow her dreams. When Silas sees how closed she is becoming to Louis his obsession takes a dangerous turn. 

Very dark and disturbing this book might not be for everyone however if you can bet past certain parts it is brilliantly written with well-crafted characters and finishes off with an unexpected but satisfying ending.