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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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High School Horror: Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker

Teen Frankenstein (High School Horror #1)Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker

High school meets classic horror in this groundbreaking new series.

It was a dark and stormy night when Tor Frankenstein accidentally hit someone with her car. And killed him. But all is not lost–Tor, being the scientific genius she is, brings him back to life…

Thus begins a twisty, turn-y take on a familiar tale, set in the town of Hollow Pines, Texas, where high school is truly horrifying
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There have been a lot of Frankenstein remakes, but few that I thought were worth reading. This book, however, is an exception. This novel was a lot of fun, and if you like horror, this has some of the classic horror elements, but fits neatly into the modern day world.

The author did a good job of making this book feel dark and atmospheric and never quite giving away enough info that the reader could guess what was going to happen next. From the beginning, this book was entertaining and drew me right in to the story.

This is a book that older kids will fall right into and want more of. Recommended.

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

First Touch by Laurelin Paige

First Touch (First and Last, #1)First Touch by Laurelin Paige

When Emily Wayborn goes home to visit her mom while on hiatus from her hit TV show, she receives a voicemail from her former best friend, Amber. Though the two were once notorious party girls, they haven’t spoken in years. Although the message might sound benign to anyone else, Amber uses a safe word that Emily recognizes, a word they always used to get out of sticky situations during their wild days. And what’s more chilling than the voicemail: it turns out that Amber has gone missing.

Determined to track down her friend, Emily follows a chain of clues that lead her to the enigmatic billionaire Reeve Sallis, a hotelier known for his shady dealings and play boy reputation. Now, in order to find Amber, Emily must seduce Reeve to learn his secrets and discover the whereabouts of her friend. But as she finds herself more entangled with him, she finds she’s drawn to Reeve for more than just his connection to Amber, despite her growing fear that he may be the enemy. When she’s forced to choose where her loyalty lies, how will she decide between saving Amber and saving her heart?

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book will break your heart, stitch it back together and then mercilessly break it again and then fix it all better again–and that’s only the beginning.

Can I just say–FINALLY! FINALLY a romance plot that seems original and has not been overused a million times already. That was such a refreshing change! The characters in this book are the kind that grab you from the very beginning and refuse to let you go. You feel everything they feel. The frustration, fear, excitement and lust…can’t forget the lust…you will go through right along with them.

Laurelin Paige knows how to build tension between her lead characters and keep her readers on the edge of their seat. I would definitely recommend this book to those who love romance…but oddly, I’d also recommend it to those who don’t usually…oh, Hell. I’d recommend this book to anyone. Everyone.

I really thought I might be over the romance genre, but this book has renewed my faith that there is still hope for it. I am very much looking forward to the second installment of this two book series.

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

The Herald of Hell by Paul Doherty

The Herald of Hell: A Brother Athelstan Novel of Medieval LondonA medieval mystery featuring sleuthing monk Brother Athelstan”
May, 1381. The Great Revolt draws ever nearer. The Upright Men openly roam the streets of London, waiting for the violence to begin. Their mysterious envoy, the Herald of Hell, appears at night all over the city, striking terror into the hearts of those who oppose them. But who is he?
When his chancery clerk is found hanged in a notorious Southwark brothel, the ruthless Thibault, John of Gaunt s Master of Secrets, summons Brother Athelstan to investigate. Did Amaury Whitfield really kill himself following a visit from the terrifying Herald of Hell? Athelstan is unconvinced.
In the dead man s possession was a manuscript containing a great secret which he had been striving to decipher. If he could only unlock the cipher and interpret the messages being carried to the so-called Herald of Hell, Athelstan would be one step closer to catching the killer. But can he crack the code before the Great Revolt begins?
The Herald of Hell: A Brother Athelstan Novel of Medieval London by Paul Doherty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

14th century England was an interesting place, and the author makes sure to remind us of this–with his well-researched historical setting and interesting characters.

If you are a fan of historical mysteries, you can’t go wrong with this series, or with this book. With some intelligent code cracking, a mystery worthy of trying to figure out and the usual wit and charm of the main character, this book was a lot of fun to read.

I was particularly impressed with the political moves going on in the background of this book. Well written, snarky at times and overall, a book that I can easily recommend to others interested in this period.

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

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

The Things We KeepThe Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there’s just one another resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna’s and Luke’s families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is by far one of the best books that I have read this year. It is compelling, very emotional and although at times can make you sad–also has the kind of realistic redemption at the end that makes you believe in the power of love and perseverance.

If you have a family member or friend who has gone through dementia, or is currently suffering from it, then this will be a book that not only will you feel close to, but will be one that you find it difficult to part with when the story is done. Even if you don’t, this is a great book that has wonderful characters that will stay with you long after reading.

I loved the way the stories of the characters revolved in this. It was always clear who was telling their side of the tale and at what point and never got confusing. The multiple things going on in the book all meld together at the end perfectly, leaving no loose ends to be dealt with.

This is an author that I am very excited about and can’t wait to share with everyone I know. Sally Hepworth is brilliant at her craft and I encourage you to read her work.

This review is based on a complimentary copy, provided through Netgalley.

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