As any avid reader knows, picking your next read is often a crap shoot unless you know an author’s work, either from personal experience or the recommendation of a friend. Beyond that, you have no choice but to search among the veritable endless supply of books available, hoping you chose well and spent wisely. Because I hate finding out that what little my money I can afford to spend on books was wasted on one not to my tastes, I tend to be pretty picky about choosing what I’m going to read, and approach my hunt with a system of sorts.
For me, it begins with a cover that appeals to me, followed by a description that intrigues me. But, even with an appealing cover and an intriguing description, there is no guarantee it will be a good read, so I often find myself turning to the number of positive reviews…
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I was digging through a box of books someone gave me yesterday and found some really cool stuff. and then there was some other stuff. This book falls into the latter category I’m afraid. Essentially this is supposed to be a cookbook for men that don’t know how to cook, or don’t like to cook. At first I was positive it was a gag gift, but apparently the publishers were serious. May I introduce you to :
Here are some recipes that we must all rush out and try:
Eggs ‘N’ O’s–for this you will need a can of spaghettiO’s some eggs and some cheese. It is like an omelet–except it isn’t at all like an omelet.
Anchovy tomato toast–don’t need to explain the ingredients there
Fish in a blanket—just don’t. Please don’t!
So as you can see, these are five star dining ideas brought to you by Men’s Health.
Anyone in need of a white elephant gift?
join the art contest and win prizes and showcase your talent!
For the month of April, I will be running an art contest. The rules are the following:
- Draw a picture of the designated character.
- Email picture to firstname.lastname@example.org. Write the character’s name in the subject line. For example, April will be: Nimby. Also, state which book you want a copy of in the body of your email. This will be further explained under prizes.
- Promote the contest and your picture to build up hype for the voting.
The voting will be done by a poll created on April 25th. Basically, I will give 5 days of voting for the contest, which will be put under a ‘Poll’ tab on my website.
The prizes are
First place: Signed paperback of Beginning of a Hero or Prodigy of Rainbow Tower (once available). Winner’s choice because some people might already have copies of Beginning of a Hero.
Second place: Signed Beginning of…
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Happy to share with you all my review of book “Clover and the Twins” by novelist and fellow wordpresser Nicolette Barrie. You can find her over at http://cloverandthetwins.wordpress.com This is a great book and I am so happy she shared a copy of it with me!
You can find this book available here: CLOVER
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Children’s (8 and up) book about Channel and Bezel Sini, ten-year-old spokesgirls for Dogs Forever. The twins knew their involvement in an advertising campaign for homeless dogs would be exciting. But not until they adopted a feisty dog named Clover did they realize just what a rollercoaster ride it would be.
One night prior to the start of the campaign tour, the twins are awakened by Clover talking in her sleep. Bezel and Channel wake up Clover who explains that she was separated from her dog family on Christmas Eve when a terrifying outlaw she calls Red Eyes tried to capture them in their home in the Chicago trainyard. Clover was successful in luring Red Eyes away from her family, but in the process she hopped on a freight train headed for New York City.
The girls eventually discover that Clover is one of the Cloverleaf Dogs, a line of dogs who, legend has it, rescued people and pets during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
The Dogs Forever advertising campaign serves two purposes for Clover and the twins. The first is Dogs Forever’s goal of raising awareness about homeless dogs. And the second is more personal. When they get to the last destination, Chicago, Bezel and Channel will help Clover find her dog family.
What surprises and frightens Clover and the twins right out of the gate is that they are followed from city to city on the tour by a man in the crowds. As it turns out, Red Eyes did not give up when Clover escaped from him in the Chicago trainyard, and he is determined to capture her again.
My review of this book:
This book is incredible! If you want to read a book that will just make you feel really good, may I suggest “Clover and the Twins” By Nicoletta Barrie. This would be appropriate for younger crowds (8 and over) but is also an enjoyable read for adults.
The author prefaces her book with the story of how she came to adopt the last two of her pets and tells the reader that some of the elements of her book are based on fact, such as the name of the “Dogs Forever” Rescue in Iowa. I thought this was a really good way to start a book about a fictional dog. It lets the reader know that the author cares about her chosen subject matter and also that she has written a story based on what she knows.
Now on to the story: This book is a perfect mix of mystery, hilarity and tenderness. The main characters, twin sisters Channel and Bezel Sini are highly likeable girls that I think children would have no trouble identifying with. They are good-natured, devoted to their jobs and each other and make for a lot of fun throughout the story. I liked that the girls were the kind of children you want your kids to be, rather than flawed characters with a lot of issues which seems to be prominent in literature intended for younger audiences these days.
I loved that the author managed to get her point across about the importance of animal rescues without sounding overly preachy in the process. The legend of the Clover dog family is so fun and creative and carries the rest of this story nicely.
Clover the dog is the focal point of the story and you couldn’t ask for a better character for the plot to revolve around. She is smart, has a good sense of humor and is a heroic dog to top it all off! I loved this book and can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next.
I would definitely recommend this for young readers. It is free of anything you wouldn’t want your child to read, is encouraging and engaging and overall just a whole lot of fun.
It’s frogs versus scorpions in this new series by professional football player Trevor Pryce. For years, the frogs of the Amphibilands have lived in safety—protected by an elite group of poisonous frogs named the Kulipari and by the dreamcasting spell of the turtle king that cloaks their lands in mystery. Now the spell is threatened by the Spider Queen, a talented spellcaster, and Lord Marmoo, leader of the scorpions. With the Kulipari off training in secret, the Amphibilands have never been so vulnerable. Enter Darel, a young frog who dreams of joining the Kulipari, despite his utter lack of poison and limited fighting skills. With the help of a motley crew of friends, Darel has the chance to become the warrior of his dreams.
Cool animals, thrilling action, and a bit of natural science—this novel, illustrated in full color by acclaimed comics artist Sanford Greene, is sure to be a major hit with boys.–Description from Goodreads
Even on the digital edition the formatting is wonderful. The pages are colorful, each has a fancy chapter heading and the illustrations are top-notch. I can vouch for the fact that even children who are too young to read the story on their own, or fully appreciate the text, enjoy looking at pictures, they are vibrantly colored and there are a lot of them.
As far as the story goes, there is a lot of action, excellent dialogue and enough humor to make you laugh out loud frequently. The characters are adorable and each one is unique. There have been a lot of books that feature frogs as a main character, but this is definitely one of the best in recent memory. The heroes are heroic and the villains are terrible! Just as an adventure story like this should have.
This book is long enough to keep a bit more of an advanced reader happily entertained, but also simple enough for a new reader to accomplish mostly on their own. If you have children, grandchildren, or know someone who does, this would make an incredible gift.
This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher Amulet Books.
Portions of this book are told in rhyme and it makes it really fun to read aloud. I like that the author used a variety of different animals to tell her story and that of the Goliath frog. The animal characters are compassionate and kind to one another and end up learning the lesson that everyone is not built the same way. I think this is an important lesson for children to learn, and the author does an exemplary job of showing rather than telling.
I am excited to add this to my children’s book collection and share it with my children. I would recommend this to anyone that has children in their life. I think this would be great for kids of all ages but specifically exciting for children in the 3 to 7 age groups.
This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher the Connecticut press.
Today I welcome Carmen Stefanescu to Readful Things so that she may share some of her thoughts on publishing, writing and her first full length novel, “Shadows of the Past.” Carmen is an amazing woman who has overcome much adversity to write and publish her book. She lives in Romania, but speaks fluent English. All around, she is a wonderful person and I am very proud to introduce her.
Want a chance to win a digital copy of Carmen’s book “Shadows of the Past?”
Here’s what you do: share the link for this interview with your favorite social media outlet, come back and leave a quick comment that simply says “I want a copy!” Three winners will be chosen at random next week ( 7 days from now) and will get each get a digital copy of their very own!
Carmen Stefanescu was born in Romania, the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula, but where, for about 50 years of communist dictatorship, just speaking about God, faith, reincarnation or paranormal phenomena could have led someone to great trouble – the psychiatric hospital if not to prison.
Teacher of English and German in her native country and mother of two daughters, Carmen Stefanescu survived the grim years of oppression, by escaping in a parallel world, that of the books.
She has dreamed all her life to become a writer, but many of the things she wrote during those years remained just drawer projects. The fall of the Ceausescu’s regime in 1989 and the opening of the country to the world meant a new beginning for her. She started publishing. Poems first, and then prose. Both in English.
What first made you decide to write a book?
I have dreamed all my life to become a writer, my idol being Agatha Christie. I’ve been writing since I was a student. Satirical poems and short stories at that time, in my native tongue, Romanian, as you know I live in Romania, better known as Dracula’s country. All of the things I wrote during those years remained just drawer projects. The fall of the Ceausescu’s regime in 1989 and the opening of the country to the world meant a new beginning for me. I started publishing. Poems in English, first. And now long prose – novels. The trigger point for Shadows of the Past was a small article, in a Romanian newspaper, about a haunted mountain in England.
How has the publishing process been different than you expected when you first started?
I had no idea what to expect at first. The publishing process was a long road for me as everything was trial and error until I got a clear picture of what I had to do and how to do things in a proper way. And the fact that I finished the novel in two months but I got it published many, many years later was a bit of a shock.
Has marketing been more difficult than you would have imagined?
Absolutely. I thought that most of it is done by the publisher. I was wrong. Most is done by me. I work hard to find blogs willing to host book spotlights or to accept reviewing Shadows of the Past. I learned a lot along the way and still do. The positive part is the fact that I’ve made fabulous friends in the bloggers I met in the cyberspace while doing this search. The only thing that is a matter of dissatisfaction is that now I spend all my time in the advertising process, instead of writing.
Advice for other authors who are not located in the U.S.?
Follow your dream. Don’t be discouraged by rejections. They are something to be expected in the process of getting approval for your submission. Roll with the bitter punch of rejection and go on trying. That’s what I kept doing. Do your searching thoroughly and find the best solution for you. E-publishing and now self-publishing offer everyone, no matter where they live, a chance to see their work published.
You have written such a beautiful love story, what was the inspiration for this?
It was that article about a haunted mountain in England. The souls of two sinners, a nun and a priest who break their vows and elope, can’t find their rest. The tourists visiting the haunted area sometimes hear agonizing moans during the night. That was all. The moment I put down the newspaper I experienced a strong urge to write about them. This is how The Ballad of the Priest and the Nun came to life, first. Later, I felt it was not enough. I felt Genevieve’s story must be told in detail. And thus I wrote this novel. On the other hand, I have an attraction for the Medieval Times and for tragically evolving characters.
Do you wish you would have done anything differently with your book?
Perhaps a better Neil character. I am not very satisfied with how I built him. My thoughts were focused on Genevieve and Anne. I am a strong feminist at heart.
What do you hope your readers get from Shadows of the Past, other than enjoyment?
That things in life are never only black or only white but we must always take what’s good from our short stay here, in this existence. Choices can be made and true love can really be found. I also want my readers to enjoy themselves while reading my books and, above all, to connect to my characters.
Tell us something we don’t know about you?
I am a great coffee, pets and role play games addict!
What are some of your favorite books/authors?
A difficult question because I have many favorite books/authors. I love thrillers as much as psychological paranormals or action packed romance books and mysteries. I don’t want to do wrong by naming one book or one author when there are so many I’ve read all along my life and which marked my existence. I have respect for each and every writer who enhanced my life and made me cry or laugh or dream, who enabled me to imagine different worlds, alternative realities, paths not chosen, cities not yet built. Catherine Cookson, Th. Hardy, Jeffrey Archer, M. H. Clark, Alexandre Dumas, Balzac, Somerset Maugham, Mihai Eminescu, Liviu Rebreanu, A. Tennyson, F. Forsyth, Stephen King, Agatha Christie. And many, many others.
If you could visit one place in the world where would you go and why?
I would escape to a paradise island. Somewhere where the temperature is never too cold or too hot. With no earthquakes or strong tempests! No dangerous insects and no predators – either four or two-legged.
Anything else you would like to say to your readers/ links etc. that you would like included.
A last piece of advice: Get quickly Shadows of the Past and read it! If not, you don’t know what you are missing! Ha-ha-ha! And stay tuned for my soon coming novel Dracula’s Mistress!
Thank you Ionia for hosting me. It was a lovely day for me.
Author, Carmen Stefanescu’s Site: http://shadowspastmystery.blogspot.ro/
Trailer: Shadows of the Past
Find her on:
Buy Link: Wild Child Publishing
Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-of-the-Past-ebook/dp/B00AK2D9I8/ref=sr_1_15?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354874514&sr=1-15&keywords=shadows+of+the+past
**Thank you Carmen for the interview and just for being you!
So, more stuff. I recently did an interview with Jim Gibson about his children’s book series featuring Perdita the loveable Dog, which you can find here: http://wp.me/p2SbOP-cL
Jim’s book, The World According to Perdita Whacknoodle: The Thanksgiving Pageant of Doom will be free this Saturday and Sunday. Pick up a copy for the Little one in your life! (Trust me even the parents have fun with it!) You can find it here:
I am going to make another fabulous attempt at the Scarlet Letter this evening, and since the common idea seems to be that I should just skip the first chapter, that is what I intend to do, along with no comfortable furniture and a proper meal that does not consist of sugar and more sugar. Maybe a little sugar. I will report progress tomorrow:)
So now let us have a bit of fun before I go and make that proper dinner I spoke of. I love one sentence reviews because they are rather pointless but also a lot of fun. So, I thought it would be fun to write a one sentence synopsis of your favorite Book, Movie or game. It can only be one sentence but must tell about the plot. There is no prize other than my uproarious giggles. Sorry that.
Because I am a good sport, here is mine: The Scarlet Letter —
ZZZZZZZzzzZZZZZ. See, there you have it. One sentence.
The poignant story of a girl who overcomes unique hardship and deprivation – growing up with a troop of capuchin monkeys – to find ultimate redemption.
In 1954, in a remote mountain village in South America, a little girl was abducted. She was four years old. Marina Chapman was stolen from her housing estate and then abandoned deep in the Colombian jungle. That she survived is a miracle. Two days later, half-drugged, terrified, and starving, she came upon a troop of capuchin monkeys. Acting entirely on instinct, she tried to do what they did: she ate what they ate and copied their actions, and little by little, learned to fend for herself.
So begins the story of her five years among the monkeys, during which time she gradually became feral; she lost the ability to speak, lost all inhibition, lost any real sense of being human, replacing the structure of human society with the social mores of her new simian family. But society was eventually to reclaim her. At age ten she was discovered by a pair of hunters who took her to the lawless Colombian city of Cucuta where, in exchange for a parrot, they sold her to a brothel. When she learned that she was to be groomed for prostitution, she made her plans to escape. But her adventure wasn’t over yet…
In the vein of “Slumdog Millionaire” and “City of God,” this rousing story of a lost child who overcomes the dangers of the wild and the brutality of the streets to finally reclaim her life will astonish readers everywhere.–Description from Goodreads
I can’t imagine that all of the things in this book are reported exactly as they happened, there are a few things that rather contradict themselves, but honestly, by the end, I really didn’t care. This book is about an amazingly resilient child that grows up to be remarkable woman. There were certain parts that made me angry, other portions that made me hurt for her and wish I could grasp her hand and tell her everything was going to be alright, I did not get through this book without a range of changing emotions.
While I do not want to discredit the ghostwriting abilities of Lynne Barrett-Lee at all, I did have a difficult time reconciling the voice of a woman that was raised by monkeys and didn’t learn to speak until later in life with the at times very formal sounding speech of Ms. Barrett-Lee. This made it difficult for me to fully relate to the memoir.
Overall I thought this was interesting and certainly tells a story that completely true or not, is worth the time to read. If you have not read this book as of yet, may I recommend that you secure a copy for yourself.
This review is based on a digital copy from Open Road Media.