Review/ The Mystics of Mile End

Review/ The Mystics of Mile EndThe Mystics of Mile End by Sigal Samuel
Published by HarperCollins on October 13th 2015
Pages: 320
Source: ARC From Publisher, Book From BEA 2015
Goodreads
Genres: Family Life, Fiction, Jewish, Literary

Sigal Samuel’s debut novel, in the vein of Nicole Krauss’s bestselling The History of Love, is an imaginative story that delves into the heart of Jewish mysticism, faith, and family.“This is not an ordinary tree I am making.“This,” he said, “this is the Tree of Knowledge.” In the half-Hasidic, half-hipster Montreal neighborhood of Mile End, eleven-year-old Lev Meyer is discovering that there may be a place for Judaism in his life. As he learns about science in his day school, Lev begins his own extracurricular study of the Bible’s Tree of Knowledge with neighbor Mr. Katz, who is building his own Tree out of trash. Meanwhile his sister Samara is secretly studying for her Bat Mitzvah with next-door neighbor and Holocaust survivor, Mr. Glassman. All the while his father, David, a professor of Jewish mysticism, is a non-believer.When, years later, David has a heart attack, he begins to believe God is speaking to him. While having an affair with one of his students, he delves into the complexities of Kabbalah. Months later Samara, too, grows obsessed with the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life—hiding her interest from those who love her most–and is overcome with reaching the Tree’s highest heights. The neighbors of Mile End have been there all along, but only one of them can catch her when she falls.

I received this book for free from publisher/pr firm in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I was lucky enough to attend a Book Blogger event when I was at BEA 2015 and pick up this little hidden gem while I was there.

Two things I loved about going into this book was one that it takes place here in a part of Montreal called the Mile End and secondly this is a Canadian author. I am making it my mission in 2016 to read more Canadian authors.

I should let you know that this is a debut novel. I love reading debut novels.

The books is broken down into four parts and each telling a part of the story. The four parts are Lev, Samara, (who are a brother and sister) David (their father) and the Mile End.

In the first section is about Lev and his journey. This was such a fun section and I loved how Lev kept trying to match up his dad with is teacher or vise versa. You can tell that he just wanted his dad to be happy after his mother died. What kid doesn’t want that for their parent?

As a young boy he doesn’t realize that his dad has already met someone else. He thought when he smelt the perfume it was his dad spraying himself with the mother’s perfume. I have to say that I wish Sigal would have touched more on the friendship that Lev had with Alex and what happened.

Also in this chapter we meet the very eccentric neighbor Mr. Katz. He is quite the character and I think he was another character I would have loved to know more about. I loved how he was building a Tree of Knowledge in his front yard. We are also introduced to Mr. Glassman who is taking care of his sick wife who has had a stroke and over time she isn’t doing well. I loved how Mr. Glassman would tell Lev about the numbered tattoos on his arm and so much more. Mr. Glassman reminded me so much of my parents and when my dad got sick and passed away, my mom didn’t want to be left behind on her own and Mr Glassman was the exact same way he didn’t want to live without his wife. This was so touching and sad and yes I did cry. So be prepared for the tears to flow.

The second section is about David. David is Lev and Samara’s dad. I think once his wife died he become more distant from his children and in their religion. David provides the back ground story and what happened the night his wife was killed in a car accident. We also discover another side to David that even his children don’t know about and what his father has been up to all this time.

The third section is about Samara. Samara is like the wild child, reckless and dangerous in a way. Behind everyone’s back she goes a head and takes classes so that she can do her Bat Mitzvah. Its with Mr. Glassman’s help that she does this. I think with everything going on she abandons it until discovering her father’s manuscripts and this seems to entice her. But can she be saved before its too late?

Finally the last chapter is about the Mile End and this is where I feel as though I was missing something along the way. With Samara hallucinating about the Tree of Knowledge and physically climbing Mr Katz’s hand made Tree of Knowledge in his front yard. I just didn’t quite understand that.

This certainly won’t detour me from reading future books from Sigal. I am determined to reread this book again to see if perhaps I missed something. Did I miss something?

 

Review/ Unslut A Diary & A Memoir

UnSlut by Emily Lindin
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on December 29th 2015
Pages: 304
Source: ARC From Publisher, Book From BEA 2015
Goodreads
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Bullying, Dating & Sex, Girls & Women, Juvenile Nonfiction, Social Issues, Women

When Emily Lindin was eleven years old, she was branded a “slut” by the rest of her classmates. For the next few years of her life, she was bullied incessantly at school, after school, and online. At the time, Emily didn't feel comfortable confiding in her parents or in the other adults her my life. But she did keep a diary. Slut/UnSlut is adapted from Emily’s much-acclaimed blog “The UnSlut Project” presenting unaltered excerpts from that diary alongside split-page commentary to provide context and perspective.

I received this book for free from publisher/pr firm in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I picked up this book at #BEA15 purely by luck and I thought at first this wasn’t the book for me because I normally don’t read this kind of stuff but I decided to give it a chance and I managed to breeze through this in two sittings. This is a debut novel.

The book is basically told in a diary format that Emily wrote when she was in grade 6.  The story begins with Emily in grade 6 and it follows her through grade 7 and 8.

Emily is your typical girl trying to fit in with her peers and how one little mistake has labelled her a “slut” in her school. I am trying to remember when I was in grade 6 if we were like that and I honestly don’t remember maybe I just wasn’t hanging out with those kinds of kids or not. Then again I can’t really compare my experiences with kids now a days because its completely different and I have to say that I honestly don’t think I could handle being a grade 6 now. What I went through some thrity years ago is different from what kids are going through now.

Kids can be so nice but yet so cruel. Why are they so quick to label kinds with names and titles that just aren’t right and appropriate? Things like this carry over with these kids and they hold on to that stigma for ever and we need to teach our kids that this isn’t right.

We as parents need to make communication between child and parent very important and stress that no matter what good and bad we are there to listen and help them out.

 

Review/ This Is Where It Ends

by Marieke Nijkamp
Published by Sourcebooks Fire Goodreads
Genres: Action & Adventure, Bullying, Social Issues, Survival Stories, Violence, Young Adult

I received this book for free from publisher/pr firm in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve. 10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class. 10:03 The auditorium doors won’t open. 10:05 Someone starts shooting. Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

I think this has to be one of my favorite books that I picked up at #BEA15 last year. Once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. It grabbed a hold of me from the first page and it still sits with me today. Just be prepared if you pick up this book to read you will need a tissue. This is a fantastic debut novel.

This Is Where It Ends is told in the point of view of Claire, Tomas, Autumn and Sylv. A new semester has started at Opportunity and the Principal Trenton is giving her regular speech that the kids all know pretty much by heart.

Claire is not in the school for the assembly because she is part of the track team and she is out running the track with her team mates when the sound of gunshots forces them to stop. They try to get into the school but its locked so she comes up with a plan to find out what is going on so she puts everyone in groups.

Inside the school Tomas and his friend Fareed are also not in the assembly because they are breaking into the principal’s office trying to find out some information on a kid named Tyler who has left the school and is due to come back. They are in the office and when they realize something is up the go and look out in the hall way and that is when they hear gun fire. Quick thinking they decide to call the police. They are told to get out of the school but Tomas can’t leave because his sister Sylv is in the assembly. He will do anything to protect her.

I don’t want to give to much away about the book because you know what its about. Everyone is surprised at how the shooter is and I think had there been a little more to the story before hand you might have had the chance to figure it out.

I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading more from this author.

 

 

Review/ Starry Night by Debbie Macomber

Review/ Starry Night by Debbie MacomberStarry Night by Debbie Macomber
Published by Random House on November 21st 2013
Pages: 272
Goodreads

Perfect Christmas women's fiction from international bestseller Debbie Macomber.'Tis the season for love and second chances ...Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge first: Carrie must score the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.Living in Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a bestselling book about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone, and no one even knows exactly where he lives. With her career at stake, Carrie sacrifices her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she expected. And soon Carrie is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.

I have to admit right from the beginning that I have never read anything by Debbie Macomber before reading Starry Night. I have to thank my friend, Jennifer for introducing this author to me. I really enjoyed reading Starry Night.

This was the year that I really got into reading Christmas themed books and I think that was due to the fact Jennifer passed on so many great books to me. I have to start off by saying that I loved the cover of the version I had and it was the glittery Starry Night that hooked be as I try to avoid reading what the book is about. I love going into a book not knowing what its about.

I was hooked into the story right away and I practically read this in one sitting which says alot about the book for me. It had all the right things I love about a book. I love when I book hooks you in right away and there is enough action, suspense and love to keep you into finding out more.

Carrie is a reporter for the Chicago Herald. She loves where is she is working but is getting tired of writing for the society page. When push comes to shove she goes into her bosses office and basically says she wants another position or she is prepared to leave there all together. I love Carrie and her determination to move forward with her career because she knows what she can and can’t do.

Her boss tells her if she wants to advance she must score a exclusive interview with the famous author Finn Dalton. Finn has never given any kind of interviews or been photographed since his book has become the best seller. Every reporter has tried to locate him and none has been successful until Carrie comes along. Carrie is determined to find him and heads to Alaska to begin her search.

Finn has made it his mission to basically remain out of the spot light and hidden away. No one knows who he is and he probably could be walking beside you and you wouldn’t even know it. So needless to say he isn’t happy when his friend drops Carrie off outside his cottage in Alaska. His actions let Carrie know she isn’t wanted around and as soon as the storm clears she is on a one way ticket back home.

As the story progress you can see that both Carrie and Finn are breaking down the walls and they are both starting to develop feelings for each other. Will they be able to live apart knowing that Finn wants nothing to do with the city life? Or will their love be enough to overcome that?

If your looking for a fun clean read then I highly recommend this book. Its the perfect holiday read in my opinion.

 

Review/ Twas The Night Before Christmas at Michael’s House

IMG_0025I am once again thrilled to be working with Put Me In The Story to feature their newest Christmas book, Twas The Night Before Christmas by Daniel Kirk.

It’s the night before Christmas and Father Mouse is stirring in YOUR house to the sound of Santa Claus and eight tiny reindeer! Cozy up as Father Mouse shares his story of what happens next. You’ll get a peek at Santa and a glimpse of your gifts under the tree, too. With illustrations that began as original ink drawings, this new spin on a classic Christmas tale is sure to be a hit for the holidays!

For some reason I thought we had a copy of Twas The Night Before Christmas but it seems like we don’t so I thought this would be the perfect thing to add to our Christmas book collection and I want to graciously thank Sourcebooks and Put Me In The Story for providing me with a code so that I could order a personalized copy to read this holiday season.

Twas The Night Before Christmas retails for $29.99 US and you can see the title is ever personalized right away with the addition of at Michael’s House and the tags on the gifts. The whole process literally took me less then 5 minutes and the book was in my cart ready to be made and shipped. Shipping was once again super fast and I had my book within in a week.

The book is beautifully bound like a regular hard cover picture book and it arrived in perfect condition.

The story is the same original story with a few added details and the personalized items blended in with the book and you couldn’t tell the difference. Instead of the dad being awaken by Santa’s arrival its the little mouse that lives in the walls of our house.

The illustrations are beautiful. They are bright and colorful and they almost look like the original illustrations. We were looking all over the pages as we were reading it.

This is a super cute book and I think this would make the perfect addition to your Christmas book collection.

Review & Blog Tour/ The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse

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Book Title The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse – in Canada by Gwyneth Jane Page and Illustrated by Megan Elizabeth
Category:  Children’s fiction, 72 pages
Genre:  Adventure / travel
Publisher:  Self-published
Release date:  Feb 13, 2014
Available for review in:  Print, ebook (PDF)
Will send print books:  Internationally
Tour dates:  Nov 30 – Dec 18, 2015
Content Rating:  G

Book Description:

PJ Mouse, an adorable little stuffed animal, was lost and alone until young Emily heard his cries for help. Now, along with his new family, PJ gets to travel the world-discovering exciting new places and people along the way!

Come join PJ on his first adventure across Canada as he hikes on a glacier in the Rockies, finds a salt lake in the prairies, and walks on the ocean floor in Nova Scotia.

Buy the book:
Author’s Website
Amazon
Amazon.ca
Barnes & Noble

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Book Title The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse – in Queensland by Gwyneth Jane Page and Illustrated by Megan Elizabeth
Category:  Children’s fiction, 60 pages
Genre:  Adventure / travel
Publisher:  Self-published
Release date:  Dec 2014
Available for review in:  Print, ebook — mobi (for Kindle), ePub, PDF
Will send print books:  Internationally
Tour dates:  Nov 30 – Dec 18, 2015
Content Rating:  G

Book Description:  

PJ Mouse, an adorable little stuffed animal, was lost and alone until young Emily heard his cries for help. Now, along with his new family, PJ gets to travel the world – discovering exciting new places, people, and animals along the way!

​Come join PJ on this, his second adventure, along the coast of Queensland, as he snorkels at the Great Barrier Reef, chats with a Loggerhead turtle in the midst of a great undertaking, and explores the tropical rainforest- until he has to be rescued by one of the local friendly wildlife.

Buy the book:
Author’s Website
Amazon
Amazon.ca
Barnes & Noble

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I was so happy when I was selected to be a part of this blog tour because I have to say the books sounded really cute and I knew I had to support Canadian authors.

They both are quick reads. I loved the illustrations in  both books. I loved how almost every page had a little illustration on the pages.

I am going to combine both my reviews in this one post. You don’t have to read the books in order but I think you might want to to get the feel of who everyone is and how PJ Mouse came to Emily and her family.

In Canada we are introduced to PJ Mouse who gets lost from his original owner and he is scared and calls out for help and Emily founds him. She takes PJ Mouse home and cleans him up. I should warn you now that PJ Mouse is a very special mouse and only a selected few get to hear speak.

PJ Mouse has arrived just in time because Emily and her family are going on a cross Canada adventure in a motor home. They are traveling from the west coast of Canada to the east coast. Their first stop is the Rocky Mountains. Its at the Athabasca Glacier that I thought we lost PJ Mouse (because he fell through a crack of a glacier) but with the smart thinking of family they rescue PJ.

I loved how the story included some facts about each of their stops. I loved that they stopped in Quebec City and The Bay of Fundy. Two of my favorite places.

In Queensland, everyone is flying to Australia. The adventures continue for PJ Mouse and Emily’s family. PJ is included in every activity the family does. After reading this my desire to Australia one day is very real and seeing it through PJ’s eyes makes me wish I was on that trip with him because he goes wake boarding, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, and he gets to go and visit the rain forest.

I think the cutest part of the book was when PJ mistook a kangaroo for a mouse. I guess if you have never left your own little world you would think the same thing.

This is very much like the first book in which you are learning something as you read the book.

I am excited for the third book in the series because I can’t wait to see what PJ Mouse’s next adventure will be.

the-travel-adventures-of-PJMouseAuthors Meet the author and illustrator:  

Gwyneth Jane Page (Jane), who holds an MBA from Simon Fraser University, has called many countries home. She grew up in such places as England, Peru, the USA, and the Caribbean, and has also lived in Australia and Canada. She now resides in Victoria, BC with her husband and four children. The PJ Mouse books are based on Jane’s family trips with the real stuffed animal, PJ, who was found by Emily, Jane’s youngest daughter.

Megan Elizabeth, Jane’s second oldest daughter, has lived in Canada and Australia and travelled extensively with her family-and PJ. Having been artistic since she was a little girl, illustrating the PJ Mouse books has enabled her to combine her love of travel with her love of art. Megan completed her studies at VanArts and is now building her career as a professional photographer as well as an illustrator. She currently resides in Victoria, BC with her family.

Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Facebook

The third book in The Travel Advetures of PJ Mouse is called The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse In a Small Corner of England and its out now.

I just want to quickly thank the author for doing this quick guest post for me.

A Little Bit About Me by Gwyneth Jane Page

I grew up as an only child (pretty much – I have a half brother 12 years older than me, and step sisters, but no full siblings) and lived all over the world. I loved going to all the different countries. It made my childhood very memorable with so many distinctive scenes that stand out in each place. The down side to living in so many countries (USA, England, Canada, St. Lucia, Peru) without siblings, and having to make new friends all the time, is that it was a bit lonely. I now greatly value having a larger family and being very close.

I am married with 4 kids, ages 22, 21, 16 and 14. We have always travelled with our kids from the time they were tiny. I love the time together as a family, away from everyday demands, and I also value the education that exploring the world gives to my kids. Having fun with my family and being the best mom I can be is one of my top priorities.

We have lived in Victoria, BC and on the Gold Coast in Australia. We have good friends in both places but I prefer the climate and lifestyle of the Gold Coast. In the future I would really like to move to England to be closer to my extended family and to be able to travel to various parts of Europe easily.

Tour Schedule:

Nov 30 – Experiencing Parenthood – reviews

Nov 30 – That Artsy Reader Girl – reviews / giveaway

​Nov 30 – The Pen and Muse Book Reviews – reviews / author interview / giveaway

Dec 1 –    Heidi’s Wanderings – reviews

​Dec 1 –    Christy’s Cozy Corners – reviews / giveaway

Dec 2 –    Working Mommy Journal – reviews / giveaway

​Dec 2 –    Fantastic Feathers – book spotlight / giveaway

Dec 2 –    Book Loving Hippo – reviews / author interview / giveaway

Dec 3 –    Sara’s Organized Chaos – reviews / guest post / giveaway

Dec 3 –    The Autistic Gamer – reviews

​Dec 3 –    alwaysjoart – reviews / giveaway

Dec 4 –    Rockin’ Book Reviews – reviews / guest post / giveaway

Dec 4 –    Sincerely Stacy – reviews

​Dec 4 –    Cindy’s Love of Books – reviews / guest post / giveaway

Dec 7 –    One Frugal Girl – reviews / giveaway

Dec 7 –    Bless Their Hearts Mom – reviews / giveaway

Dec 7 –    A Mama’s Corner of the World – review of Queensland

Dec 8 –    fuonlyknew – reviews / giveaway

​Dec 8 –    Laura’s Interests – reviews / guest post / giveaway

Dec 9 –    One Curvy Blogger – reviews / guest post

​Dec 9 –    Bookworm for Kids – reviews / giveaway

Dec 9 –    T’s Stuff – reviews / giveaway

Dec 10 –  Bookroom Reviews – reviews / guest post / giveaway

Dec 10 –  I’d Rather Be At The Beach – reviews / giveaway

Dec 10 –  #redhead.with.book – book spotlight / giveaway

Dec 11 –  Writer With Wanderlust – reviews / giveaway

Dec 11 –  Blooming With Books – reviews / author interview / giveaway

Dec 14 –  Create With Joy – reviews / giveaway

Dec 14 –  Library of Clean Reads – reviews / giveaway

Dec 14 –  Maddie & Books – reviews / author interview

Dec 15 –  Jorie Loves a Story – reviews / guest post

​Dec 15 –  JBronder Book Reviews – reviews / guest post

Dec 16 –  Pause for Tales – reviews / guest post

​Dec 16 –  Bound 4 Escape – reviews / giveaway

Dec 17 –  Singing Librarian Books – reviews / author interview / giveaway

​Dec 17 –  The Cubicle Escapee – reviews / giveaway

Dec 18 –  Jessica Cassidy – reviews / author interview / giveaway

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Holiday Gift Guide Day 16 & Blog Tour-Review/ The Sparkle Box

Holiday Gift Guide Day 16 & Blog Tour-Review/ The Sparkle BoxThe Sparkle Box by Jill HardieChristine Kornacki
Published by Ideals Children's Books on 2012
Pages: 18
Source: Book From Publisher
Goodreads
Genres: Christian, Christmas & Advent, Holidays & Celebrations, Religious, Values & Virtues, Young Adult

Sam is so excited about Christmas! He's thinking about his Christmas list, anticipating holiday parties, and puzzling over one very mysterious gift -- a sparkly box sitting on the mantel above the fireplace. In the midst of the festivities, Sam and his family participate in various acts of kindness to others. On Christmas morning, when Sam finally opens the Sparkle Box, he finds only slips of paper that record the family's good deeds. Sam's parents explain that the things that they've been doing for others are, in fact, a gift for Jesus -- for Jesus said that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Him. This heartfelt story will inspire readers to adopt this faith-centered tradition in their own homes, using the included Sparkle Box.

I received this book for free from publisher/pr firm in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I am super excited to share with you today a book I received for a blog tour I am on today called The Sparkle Box by Jill Hardie and Illustrated by Christine Kornacki.

I have to saw right away that I love the cover with the embossing and glitter box. The illustrations inside the book are beautifully done they are vibrant and beautiful to look at. The images are very realistic looking.

Before I begin my review I should share with you the website for The Sparkle Box all you have to do is click on the book title and it will take you to the page.

Sam is a young boy who is excited about Christmas, like any other child is during the holiday.

This isn’t going to be your typical Christmas book. Its not going to focus on Santa Claus or about the presents that Sam wants and will probably get instead the story will center around caring and helping others in need during this time of the year and about Jesus.

The story begins with Sam’s mother having a sparkly box on the mantle that catches Sam’s eye. He questions his mom about the box and all she will tell him is that they have to fill the box before it can be opened. As time goes on he keeps asking him mom about the box. She tells him there is something int he box but they can’t open it yet because they still need to add things.

Throughout the book the story is showing us the family is helping the less fortunate with dropping off food and blankets to a shelter, how the father’s company has donated to a village in Africa and how Sam’s school has a tree and they decorate it with hats, scarves & mittens.

I loved this book and the message behind it and what I loved the most was the author showed us that Sam who is young notices things in the world that most ignore and he took it upon himself to help someone in need without being asked to.

Finally Christmas morning arrives and they can open their presents. As much as Sam is excited to open his presents its the sparkly box that attracts him the most. When he opens the box he notices small pieces of paper inside with things written on them. He is puzzled at first but then begins to read them.

Mittens and a candy bar given to someone in need.

Warm blankets and food for the homeless

A well in Africa that will provide clean drinking water.

His mother explains that they are the gifts to Jesus in honor of his birthday. This confuses Sam but his mother explains that when we give to others or help others we are giving it to Jesus.

I think this is the perfect book to give children this year and I highly recommend it. The book also include a box to make in the back of the book and I think we will be filling it up this holiday season. This would also make a fantastic family tradition in families that are just starting out who want to teach thei

There were so many things I liked about this book. First, Christmas was being celebrated with all the decorations and special traditions, but that was not the emphasis. The focal point was Christ and the less fortunate. It is quite the opposite nowadays as else is highlighted by all the worldly activities and Jesus is pushed aside.
I also liked the fact that Santa wasn’t mentioned once. His image as grown to such proportions that he takes the place of Christ. Not only in celebrating Christmas but sadly in the hearts of children. Little ones love to give and this book introduces them to the idea of how to give gifts to Jesus by helping the needy.
I was surprised and delighted to see in the back of the book was a Sparkle Box to put together! You can start your own family tradition of giving gifts to the One Who gave all to us! A must have for anyone that has children or works with children! It is a book to be treasured through generations!

 

2015GiftGuide