Parenting with Wisdom and Compassion by Ilene Val-Essen

Parenting with Wisdom and Compassion: Bring Out the Best in Your FamilyParenting with Wisdom and Compassion: Bring Out the Best in Your Family by Ilene Val-Essen, Ph.D.

Imagine a new paradigm of parenting that dramatically changes the way we relate to our children. Doors open that were previously closed, freeing us to parent with a wiser and more compassionate heart. Dr. Val-Essen reveals a new vision of the parent-child relationship and provides a Six-Step Process to help us realize it. Powerful stories, proven skills, and practical exercises inspire and guide us to expand our minds and open our hearts. As we gain a deeper understanding of our children and ourselves, we’re able to parent with wisdom and compassion even when buttons are pushed and fear takes center stage. Children and parents flourish. Family life becomes deeply rewarding.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I agreed to take this book, it was for one reason. I liked the idea of a book about parenting with the word “compassion” in the title. In my opinion, as a non-expert on parenting and just a mum who loves her kids and wants what is best for them, I have thought many times about the lack of compassion in this world for the needs of our youth. We are always being bombarded on social media, in newsprint and on the television with all the things you can do to screw up your children, but rarely do we get any good advice for how to improve our skills as parents. That is where this book comes in.

Ilene Val-Essen takes a different approach with this book. Rather than slapping parents, educators or anyone else responsible for youth across the face with a message of “you are doing this wrong!” She takes the time to explain her gentle approach and really break down what she means in her title.

This book is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to understand more about why conflicts in families arise, and how they can be resolved. With the understanding that you don’t have to change who you are, what your values are or completely revamp your parenting style to appreciate this book and the advice given in it, you will find that the ideas presented here can work in nearly any situation, regardless of who you are.

There is far too much in this book to do an individual review on each section, or this review would never end, but there are some definite jewels worth mentioning. This book promotes the self awareness of the parent so they can identify with the child’s emotions, reactions and address any issues they might have that remain under the surface. There are tips here for recognising stress in the family and how to calm that stress. The author has included charts and easy steps to follow to defuse situations before they become major problems.

Honestly, I think this book has some very good specific and situational information, but it would work just as well if the principals set forth here were used in other, everyday situations. It is not just children that are affected by the way we view ourselves and how we treat others, and this book, in my opinion, is titled perfectly. We could all do with a dose of compassion, from others, for others.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. It is a brilliant read and an honest and open message from an author who has lived what she writes about. Five stars.

Let’s have some fun

Drop a line in comments below and quote the most memorable line you can recall off the top of your head in a book or movie. Then you will be entered in to win a copy of “Crossing Bedlam” by Charles E. Yallowitz.

I will choose one lucky winner this weekend to receive their copy, I can only gift to US residents via Amazon, but everyone is welcome to play just for the fun of it. Help out an author and share this post if you have a chance. Book details below .

61ps44t9jzl-_sx384_bo1204203200_

Available HERE

The United States of America has been crippled. Violently contained by a global military force and left without its leaders, the country has become shattered and chaotic. A decade has passed since the first strike and a new landscape has emerged where survival is more important than anything else. Who will uncover the truth behind the attack and revive this once great nation?

It certainly won’t be Cassidy and Lloyd since they couldn’t care less about that stuff. She is a young woman on a mission to honor her mother’s dying wish, which is to toss her ashes off the Golden Gate Bridge. He is an infamous serial killer she broke out of Rikers Island since hiring a bodyguard wasn’t working out. Not the perfect plan, but having an insane, oddly charming murder-junkie on your side is a plus in the Shattered States.

Bullets and swear words are going to fly as Cassidy and Lloyd travel coast to coast, facing one challenge after another . . . including Nebraska.

Northwoods by Bill Schweigart

NorthwoodsNorthwoods by Bill Schweigart

Some borders should never be crossed. From the author of The Beast of Barcroft comes a waking nightmare of a horror novel that’s sure to thrill readers of Stephen King and Bentley Little.

Ex–Delta Force Davis Holland, now an agent for the Customs and Border Protection, has seen it all. But nothing in his experience has prepared him for what he and the local sheriff find one freezing night in the Minnesota woods.

Investigating reports of an illegal border crossing, the two men stumble across a blood-drenched scene of mass murder, barely escaping with their lives . . . and a single clue to the mayhem: a small wooden chest placed at the heart of the massacre. Something deadly has entered Holland’s territory, crossing the border from nightmare into reality.

When news of the atrocity reaches wealthy cryptozoologist Richard Severance, he sends a three-person team north to investigate. Not long ago, the members of that team—Ben McKelvie, Lindsay Clark, and Alex Standingcloud—were nearly killed by a vengeful shapeshifter. Now they are walking wounded, haunted by gruesome memories that make normal life impossible. But there is nothing normal about the horror that awaits in the Northwoods.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think I must now admit that I have been hiding a dirty secret. I am addicted to these books and I fear my addiction has no cure, so keep writing, Mr. Schweigart, I need my next fix.

If you haven’t yet read “the Beast of Barcroft,” what are you waiting for? Everyone needs a good monster/horror tale now and again to remind them how normal our lives actually are by comparison, and these books are not only entertaining, but a hell of a lot of fun in the process.

In this latest book, I was seriously impressed with the growth and development of Alex Standingcloud. He became my favourite character at the end of the last book, and then went on to prove why he is worthy of such a title in the second. I liked the Native American lore that was weaved into this story, and loved the action scenes.

If you can’t handle a little tension and some minor gore, then skip those parts and read the rest, but, read it none-the-less. You will surely find yourself entertained.

I am looking forward to see where these characters find themselves next. Recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

Noah’s Wife by Lindsay Starck

Noah's WifeNoah’s Wife by Lindsay Starck

Mary McGarry Morris says it best: “Noah’s Wife may be a contemporary allegory, but Lindsay Starck is a classic storyteller…her novel is an engrossing fusion of wisdom and beautiful writing.” Noah’s Wife is a gorgeously written, brilliantly introspective fable-like novel.

Noah’s Wife is a story of a community battered by a relentless downpour from the heavens, a gray and wet little town teeming with eccentric characters who have learned to endure the extraordinary circumstances of the rain with astonishing human fortitude and willfulness.

When Noah’s wife arrives with her minister husband to this small coastal town, she is driven by her desire to help revive the congregation. However, she is thwarted by the resistance of her eccentric new neighbors and her failure to realize that her husband is battling his own internal crisis.

As Noah and his wife strive to bring the townspeople to the church—and keep the strains on their marriage at bay—the rain intensifies, impeding their efforts. Soon the river waters rise, flooding the streets of the town and driving scores of wild animals out of the once-renowned zoo. And so, Noah, his wife, and the townspeople must confront the savage forces of nature and attempt to reinforce the fragile ties that bind them to each other before their world is washed away.

Full of whimsy and gentle ironic humor, Noah’s Wife is a wise and poignant novel that draws upon the motifs of the biblical flood story to explore the true meaning of community, to examine the remarkable strength of the human spirit, and to ask whether hope can exist even where faith has been lost.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I couldn’t decide what to make of this book until I was nearly finished with it. It wasn’t overly religious as I had feared because of the title, so that was good as I have never really warmed to those books. I loved the concept this book worked with–a town where it never stopped raining.

I liked the small town atmosphere and the way the author allowed us a bird’s eye view of the people in the town. We got to know them as individuals and it allowed the reader to see the dynamic and unlikely connections between them.

This book has a lot of quirky characters, deals with a lot of different issues and retains the dismal atmosphere until nearly the end. I have to say, that for an author with the last name of Starck, this book was pretty stark for much of the reading.

The writing is excellent here, but I’m still not a hundred percent convinced I love this book. If I had to categorise it, I would say that this should be filed under “thought provoking.” The way the author used themes from the bible without trying to force a religious ideal on the reader was interesting. I liked the townspeople, but the use of Noah’s wife as a name for the character rather than giving her a name (on purpose) made me feel more distant from the main character than I was expecting.

Overall, this was an interesting book with a lot to offer the reader, but I can’t pick a specific group I would recommend it to. It is worth a read, most definitely–if you enjoy books that live outside the standard genre fiction groups.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

The Witches of cambridge by Menna Van Praag

The Witches of CambridgeThe Witches of Cambridge by Menna van Praag

For fans of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Adriana Trigiani, The Witches of Cambridge reveals an astonishing world where the heart’s deepest secrets give way to the magic of life-changing love.

“Be careful what you wish for. If you’re a witch, you might just get it.”

Amandine Bisset has always had the power to feel the emotions of those around her. It’s a secret she can share only with her friends all professors, all witches when they gather for the Cambridge University Society of Literature and Witchcraft. Amandine treasures these meetings but lately senses the ties among her colleagues beginning to unravel. If only she had her student Noa’s power to hear the innermost thoughts of others, she might know how to patch things up. Unfortunately, Noa regards her gift as a curse. So when a seductive artist claims he can cure her, Noa jumps at the chance, no matter the cost.

Noa’s not the only witch in over her head. Mathematics professor Kat has a serious case of unrequited love but refuses to cast spells to win anyone’s heart. Her sister, Cosima, is not above using magic to get what she wants, sprinkling pastries in her bakery with equal parts sugar and enchantment. But when Cosima sets her sights on Kat’s crush, she conjures up a dangerous love triangle.

As romance and longing swirl through every picturesque side street, The Witches of Cambridge find their lives unexpectedly upended and changed in ways sometimes extraordinary, sometimes heartbreaking, but always enchanting.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is no secret that Menna Van Praag does magical realism well, but this book brought that talent to a whole new level. Instead of one main character, there are a host of them in this story, and each of them is dealing with different issues in their life, as well as a special magical gift (or curse depending on viewpoint.)

The story revolves around the lives of these various characters and the struggles they are trying to overcome. I appreciated that the magic was more of an accompaniment than the entire point in the story. The magical portions of the story backed up the rest of the important parts and left me feeling like these were real people who happened to be a bit extraordinary instead of a group of crazy witches wielding unbelievable powers that I couldn’t relate to.

As always, I am eagerly awaiting this author’s next book. This is a good book and one that you should check out at the earliest opportunity.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and was provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

Memoirs of a Dead White Chick

Memoirs of a Dead White ChickMemoirs of a Dead White Chick by Lennox Randon

It began as one of those days when I asked myself, what else could go wrong?
And then I died.

Eleanor, a harried, middle-aged White female elementary schoolteacher (and former police officer), begins her day by dying in the year 1999.

Somehow, while her essence is en route to wherever one’s essence goes upon death, she inadvertently ends up occupying the body of a 16-year-old Black male in 1858 Philadelphia.

Not only does she have to deal with the obvious gender, race, and time period changes, but she also has to figure out whether, when lives are at stake, she should interfere with history as she knows it.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I do not believe it is humanly possible to read this book and not love it. Historical fiction with a unique twist has always been one of my preferred genres, and this book filled that niche perfectly.

Here’s what I loved:

Lennox Randon writes with such humour that I couldn’t help but giggle out loud. This is the kind of book that you are better off reading at home, unless you want people staring at you as if you have lost your mind for the sudden outbursts of giggles it causes. It has been a while since a book did that to me.

The main character is highly likable in both forms, and I could easily identify with her lifestyles in the beginning–and later became enthralled with the transition and the times she was living through. This novel is witty, intellectually stimulating, hilarious and also makes you stop and think about how much the world had changed in the last hundred or so years–as well ass how many things that should have changed–haven’t. It deals with some very serious issues–race, gender, etc., but is done in such a way that it still feels like a fun, enjoyable read.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an excellent read. I must buy this book as gifts this year for others who could use an escape from daily life.

Two thumbs way up for this one.

This review is based on a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Featherbones by Thomas Brown

FeatherbonesFeatherbones by Thomas Brown

Felix walks the same way to work through Southampton every morning, and the same way home again in the evenings. His life up to this point feels like one day repeated over and over; a speck of silt caught in the city’s muddied waters. Sometimes it is all he can do to sit and watch while the urban sprawl races indifferently around him. But when the city stares back at him, one evening after work, everything changes.

He doesn’t see the statue’s head move, but he feels its eyes on him, studying him from its lofty perch in East Park. From then on he continues to glimpse it, or something like it, encroaching with every visitation. With it come memories, spilling through the streets, crawling through the dark, haunting his night-time flat, until he isn’t quite sure what is real anymore and what is imagined, in this hard, grey place where the gulls watch him sleep…
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What to call this experience? Magical realism doesn’t quite fit right. Magical-psychological-philosophical-realism. Maybe. This is a book that will be unlike any other that you have read, and that, for this reviewer, is why it earned 4 solid stars.

There are some very well crafted passages in this book, and some amazing uses of language. It is really the beautiful language, in my opinion, that makes this a book worth the time to read and share with others. I liked the characters, especially the Main character and one of the secondary characters. I liked the way the story developed and the way the reader is never quite sure if what is happening is actual reality or just the imaginings of a confused mind.

If you enjoy reading books that make you think, and make you wonder at the author’s ability to turn every day ordinary into something else, something a bit more extraordinary, then I recommend this book to you.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Monsterland by Michael Phillip Cash

MonsterlandMonsterland by Michael Phillip Cash
Welcome to Monsterland – the scariest place on Earth. All guests can interact with real vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by an actual werewolf on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.
Wyatt Baldwin, a high school student and life-long movie buff is staring bleakly at a future of flipping burgers. Due to a fortuitous circumstance, Wyatt and his friends are invited to the star-studded opening of Monsterland. In a theme park full of real vampires, werewolves and zombies, what could possibly go wrong?

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a glutton for punishment. We never learn as a society that monsters that are capable of eating us are never a good plan for a theme park. Thank goodness we are slow learners though or there wouldn’t be books like this to keep me entertained.

This book has zombies, werewolves, vampires and all manner of crazy stupid people, just the way a horror novel should be. I can’t say that it wasn’t predictable in the slightest, because that would be an outright lie, but the carnage made it worth turning the pages and see who would become the next victim.

This book has one of those…”man I really hate that guy and hope he gets what he deserves” moments that makes it worth the time to read. Pure satisfaction.

I liked the main set of characters well enough and the dialogue was good, so even aside from the action, it was set up well and interesting to read. If you like carnage and chaos and things that go bump during the day and night, this book will be one you enjoy.

Overall, this was a lot of fun.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and was provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell

The Feathered BoneThe Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell

Feathers—no matter what size or shape or color—are all the same, if you think about them. They’re soft. Delicate. But the secret thing about feathers is . . . they are very strong.”

In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry—gone, without a trace.

Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks in depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed.

Amanda knows she has to save herself before it’s too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss.

Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell’s master portrait of love in a fallen world.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a book that you will require at least one full box of tissues beside you in order to read. I was enthralled with this story, and the characters. It doesn’t take long for the story to lift off and leave you praying, hoping, wishing that you could do something to help the characters escape the situations they are in.

This book deals with many heavy themes, but somehow still presents itself as hopeful in the end. The author did an exquisite job of layering her novel with compound issues the characters had to face, and reminding the audience that we can not only survive nearly anything, but can also begin to heal, even from the worst of trauma in our lives.

Whilst this is not always an easy book to read, and will touch upon subjects and explore areas that may be harder to face for some than for others, it is a beautiful book. The guilt the main character feels over the various situations she is involved in is present throughout the story, and I thought it made her seem more realistic and made it easier to identify with her.

I liked this book mostly because it isn’t about perfection. The people here are faced with real world issues and have to overcome them in order to move on. The descriptions of New Orleans were amazing and the way the author described the feelings of the characters made me want to hug them.

I did predict what was going to happen in some parts pretty early on, but with the nature of this story, I think that was to be expected. Overall, I thought this was an emotional and beautifully written book with a lot to offer anyone who reads it, and is certainly worthy of a recommendation.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review and was downloaded through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns

Sanctuary BaySanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns

In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson’s shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.

In this genre-bending YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Sarah’s new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this “school” is something much more sinister.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For me, the redeeming factor in this book was how close I felt–pretty much immediately, to Sarah, the main character. Perhaps because she is different than the other students at the academy and her thoughts seem somehow more natural and realistic, or maybe just because she is one of those easy to love characters. Either way, I wanted to know more about her and it kept me chugging through this story.

As far as set-up goes, this book does a lot of that, building a foundation for the future of the series. The school is very interesting. I liked the concept of a school that keeps track of its students at all times. The characters were each unique and added a lot of support for the main character, but I do think that mostly what keeps you reading in this book is the constant twists.

I felt like I was following a trail that often led one direction and then suddenly switched and went somewhere else. The end is a bit of a cliffhanger, which felt a little anticlimactic after chasing my tail for so long during the rest of the book. I am curious to see where the author is going to go with this.

If you enjoy books that are full of suspense–this one will thrill you.

I’m intrigued. I demand answers!

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.