Monday, November 20, 2017

"Hayden the Perfect Hedgehog" by Arla Jayne

Hayden the Perfect Hedgehog
by Arla Jayne

Hayden the Perfect Hedgehog by Arla Jayne

Hayden the Perfect Hedgehog by Arla Jayne is currently on tour with Reading Addiction Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review and an excerpt. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

He’s not like me ...
Come along with Hayden the Perfect Hedgehog and his momma on his first journey outside of Tiny Yard. Meet a young toad named Johnny and experience Hayden’s first interaction with someone not like him.

Book Video

"Being different is OK as long as you are you.
So be yourself and let your friends be their own selves too."

Praise for the Book
"This book has a wonderful message for all children. It teaches kids that everyone is different and that those differences are what makes us great. Very well written and the artwork is vibrant and sure to capture your little one's attention." ~ B Fett
"Hayden the Perfect Hedgehog is a great addition to any young child's library. It highlights important values while keeping kids engaged and interested. The cute illustrations, along with lessons of acceptance and friendship, will be something that children can share for ages to come!" ~ Joseph J Zukoski
"Great 1st story in Hayden's adventure. Can't wait for the next one." ~ Joanna
"My daughter and I really enjoyed this book. It has a wonderful lesson, and the book flows wonderfully." ~ mb
"Such a cute story and my kids enjoyed it!!" ~ Bonnie Gilligan

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Hayden lives in Tiny Yard with his momma, and he's never been anywhere else. When it's time to start school, his momma gives him this advice: "You be you and I'll be me. We'll be happy as can be." Hayden doesn't understand this at first, but then he meets someone who isn't like him. He learns that everyone is different, and that's a good thing.
The story is written in cute rhyming verse, but some of the sentences are awkwardly phrased in order to get that rhyme. In addition, some of the pages contain too much text, which may be overwhelming for the target audience of children ages 3 to 7. The colorful illustrations, also by the author, bring the characters to life, and children are sure to fall in love with Hayden the Hedgehog. However, I'm not sure if calling him "perfect" is appropriate, as he so obviously isn't - and that's not a bad thing!
This is the first in a series of adventures featuring Hayden the Hedgehog This book provides a valuable lesson about diversity, and I'm interested to see what the author comes up with next.

About the Author
Arla Jayne
Arla worked in corporate America for over thirty years. Her favorite responsibility was diversity training. This experience, combined with her love of children, drove her to create this series with the intent to bring diversity understanding and acceptance to the youngest readers. Arla is married to her wonderful husband, Ron. She has a son, whom this book honors, and was blessed to have four beautiful young ladies brought into her life through marriage. Being a mom to these wonderful people is her favorite job!


Saturday, November 18, 2017

This Week on Books Direct - 18 November 2017

This Week on Books Direct -
18 November 2017

This Week on Books Direct - 18 November 2017

Here's a list of some great articles you may have missed this week. Enjoy!

New York Public Library Unveils $317 Million Master Plan by Jennifer Schuessler for The New York Times
The New York Public Library has unveiled a new master plan for its flagship building on Fifth Avenue, bringing the long-running, contentious saga of the Beaux-Arts landmark's renovation for the 21st century closer to an end.

New York Public Library Unveils $317 Million Master Plan by Jennifer Schuessler for The New York Times

November 19 2017 marks a whopping 10 years since the debut of the Amazon Kindle.

Amazon Just Revealed The Most Popular Kindle Books Of All Time by MJ Franklin for Mashable

Ace Graphic Novels By Women And Non-Binary Folks by Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen for Frankie Magazine
What to do when you’re itching for a comics fix but don’t have enough time to get stuck into a series?

Ace Graphic Novels By Women And Non-Binary Folks by Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen for Frankie Magazine

J. K. Rowling may have a reputation as something of a Twitter badass, but she has a softer side too.

J. K. Rowling Just Tweeted The Sweetest Reply To A Struggling Writer by Sam Haysom for Mashable

2017 National Book Award Winners by National Book Foundation
The National Book Foundation announced the National Book Award winners.

2017 National Book Award Winners by National Book Foundation

Christopher Tolkien, who has safeguarded the rights of his father J.R.R. Tolkien's work, recently resigned as director of Tolkien Estate - signifying a major change on the horizon for adaptations of Tolkien's work.

J. R. R. Tolkien's Son Resigns As Director Of Tolkien Estate, Ending Decades Of Tightly Controlled Adaptations by Beth Elderkin for Gizmodo

Marking PEN International’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer, authors and artists have written letters of hope and solidarity to colleagues in prison.

Neil Gaiman And Ai Weiwei Join Major Names Writing To Jailed Authors by Alison Flood for The Guardian

We are living in a world where the period, our most fundamental punctuation mark, is a loaded one.

How The Internet Killed The World’s Most Important Punctuation Mark by Emmy Favilla for BuzzFeed News

If you enjoyed this blog post, please visit the other This Week posts for links to more great articles.

Friday, November 17, 2017

"A Daughter's Promise" by Fran Lewis

A Daughter's Promise
by Fran Lewis

A Daughter's Promise by Fran Lewis

A Daughter's Promise by Fran Lewis is currently on tour with Providence Book Promotions. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

This story is about a promise I made to my mother to take care of her through her Alzheimer’s disease nightmare. The book includes my mother’s own thoughts from her journal about her ordeals with the various stages of this debilitating and dehumanizing condition. Her outlook on life was remarkable, and although her mind began to wander, she never lost sight of who she was, her sense of humor, or her family. This is the story of someone whose courage went beyond what most people could endure, and whose never-dying zest for life kept her alive. I hope our story will help others in coping with this difficult and demanding affliction.

Part One: A Daughter’s Promise
Fran Lewis
Reading has always been the way for me to escape to other worlds, learn about many different places, and expand my knowledge of so many subjects. With a notepad in hand and several pens at the ready, I begin reading the many books that authors send me each day. Detailing the plot, the characters, and taking notes throughout, I create a perfect analysis of the book.
Remembering what my mom had told me, to always look for that special message in the book and create that first paragraph to stimulate reader interest, I begin my review. Perfection: that’s what she always told me. Each piece of writing, each assignment had to be done to the standards set by my teachers and professors, and then pass the highest test: mom’s. I remember coming out of school one night, and she stuck her hand out waiting to see what I’d gotten on my midterm in one of my graduate courses in administration. I still smile when I remember what happened. I left out one question and got a 98, and I told mom what I did wrong and the right answer. But, the professor was so frustrated with most of the other students that she had to revamp the scores by adding ten points to everyone’s test scores just to have more students pass, so mom was satisfied with my 108. And, of course, on the final I did get 100 and an A in the class, because it was what was expected of me by myself, and of course, mom.
Till this day I still create my reviews, my schedule for my radio show, and anything else that I decide to venture into, like the MJ magazine in memory of my sister Marcia Joyce, with the understanding that my work has to stand up to the highest standards. The articles, reviews, stories, and issues that are published should be equal to those of any credible magazine on the newsstands.
So, mom, it’s been five years and it seems like yesterday. I hope I will continue to make you proud of me. You taught me well. Yes, I never leave the house without looking my best. You were my mom, my mentor, and my best friend. You will always be here for me in spirit.
Today you would have celebrated your 89th birthday with a special red rose and your favorite chocolate cake. Your blue eyes and your great smile would light up the room, and of course the presents we would give you would make you proud. You taught us never to give up on our dreams, nor settle for less than we want in our lives. You made sure that you listened when we felt down and needed a guiding hand to rise back up. You never faltered and never passed judgment. You were our mother, our guide, and our best friend. Rules were made and enforced, but never with an iron hand. Explanations were given for your requests, and we all followed suit and showed you the respect you deserved.
When you became ill we all rallied together as a family to make sure you remained at home and received great help. We were truly blessed to have Joyce, Joan, Laurel, Pat, Tessa, Loretta, and Getty to take such good care of you and, of course, someone we all miss and loved, Veronica Collins, your case manager, who made sure that you were safe and protected by the best aides in the world from Partners in Care. So, mom, happy birthday, and let the sun shine tomorrow so we know that you are still watching over us and protecting Marcia, who is with you now. We miss your wisdom, your guidance, the huge grey mobile that you drove anywhere you were needed, as the taxi driver for your friends, and the orange mobile that my reading students loved when you picked me up or drove me to school. I made a promise and vowed that I would do everything in my power to care for you, keep your mind and body active, and never even consider the one thing so many others do—placing you in a nursing home.
The circle of life begins on the day you are born and ends when you close your eyes for the last time and take your last precious breath.
Ruth Swerdloff started her life on November 22, 1927, and became a part of a loving, nurturing family that would remain intact for the first two years of her life until the loss of her mother, when things would change. But, Ruth was special from the start, and although facing her first obstacle at the age of two, losing a parent, she somehow learned to accept the change with the help of her sister, Tova, and three brothers, Kenny, Irving, and Harry. This is her story. This is where her circle of life begins.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"Heartfelt and emotionally wrenching, A Daughter's Promise is a story of life and love set against a metaphorical journey that rings with optimism against a backdrop of the impossible toll a disease like Alzheimer's on a family. Fran Lewis's beautifully written tale spares not a single word in finding light amid a growing and pervasive darkness, even as it salvages hope from despair. This is Tuesdays with Morrie for a new generation, a brilliant depiction in fact of what Nicholas Sparks does so well in fiction." ~ Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author
"This memoir of Alzheimer's is unflinching in its honesty. At times, it is so raw that you may want to look away - but don't, because the pain of this story is outweighed by its courage, devotion, and love." ~ Brian Freeman, Amazon bestselling author

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
Fran tells the story of her time as a carer for her mother Ruth, who was battling Alzheimer's. When Fran first found out about Ruth's diagnosis, she honored her mother's wish and promised not to confine her to a nursing home. This was Ruth's greatest fear: "if it were up to the staff of the hospital I would have been placed in a nursing home and left to be forgotten with the rest of the people who have this terrifying, humiliating, and awful disease."
This book is a love letter from a daughter to her mother. Fran states: "I hope that this book and what I have written will help anyone that has a parent, grandparent, child, aunt, or uncle hit by this dreadful disease to understand it from the viewpoint of the caregivers and the person that will never be the same." Fran describes the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's in general and details the memory loss, deteriorating health, and changes in behavior in her mother, in particular. Fran concludes the book with tips for caregivers to look after themselves, tips on caring for their loved one, and a list of online resources. While Fran kept her promise to her mother and never regretted her decision, she does admit that looking after an Alzheimer's patient may not be the right decision for everyone and that not all nursing homes are as bad as the ones she experienced.
Fran's account is interspersed with the words of Ruth herself, written at various stages of the disease. Fran tells us: "I created this book from the years of personal journals that my mother kept from the moment she realized something was wrong." Ruth's account is heartbreaking in places: her loneliness at being ignored by neighbors she has known for over forty years and, especially, when she realizes her daughter Marcia has died. Ruth's contributions give us a great insight into the thoughts and feelings of the Alzheimer's sufferer.
Only a few events are actually detailed in the book, and these are repeated a number of times, albeit from a slightly different perspective each time. This may be a deliberate technique by the author to mimic the tendency of a person with Alzheimer's to repeat the same story over and over again. We are left with a touching insight into how this disease affects two strong women. I love the addition of the photo album of family snaps at the end of the book.

About the Author
Fran Lewis
Fran Lewis is the author of the Bertha and Tillie series, Faces Behind the Stones series, and a series of books on Alzheimer's and caregiving. She has three master’s degrees, worked as the reading and writing staff developer and dean of a NY City public school for over 36 years, and remains in touch with her students. She is an avid reader and reviewer and has her own show on blog talk radio: Literary Viewpoints with Fran Lewis. Fran created her own magazine, MJ Magazine, and her radio network, MJ Network, in memory of her sister Marcia Joyce.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of five ebook copies of A Daughter's Promise by Fran Lewis.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

"Penchant for Vengeance" by Robert Downs

Penchant for Vengeance
by Robert Downs

Penchant for Vengeance by Robert Downs

Penchant for Vengeance is currently on tour with Enchanted Book Promotions. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

For another book by this author, please check out my blog post on LaCour's Destiny.

Charlottesville, Virginia, Police Detective Luke McGinty has a closet filled with demons, along with a few skeletons; a steady job, but no steady partner or girlfriend; and is still married to his wife Sallie, even though she’s been dead for three years. Then his detective work takes a turn for the worse when a body is discovered at the downtown mall. One dead body isn’t enough, though, and another one turns up. When ties to a cold murder case in another county present themselves, Luke realizes that, if he doesn’t tread carefully, he could end up short more than just a few answers ...

Traffic was light—Charlottesville, Virginia, despite being a college town, had a curfew—the morning was dark, and a light mist filled the air, adding drops of water to my bright yellow 1974 Camaro. I took the back roads, rather than using US 250 to reach the downtown mall, with Regal Cinema located near the center, off Main Street. I reached the scene in less than ten minutes, including parking, without using a siren, or running a single red light. The body, however, wasn’t nearly as successful as I was.
“Can’t you guys pick a more reasonable hour?” I asked. “Crime should wait until at least nine o’clock.”
“Why don’t you get your butt out of bed like everyone else?” a cop said.
The man didn’t look familiar, nor did his crew cut, wide shoulders, and pressed uniform. His face lacked wrinkles, and his scowl provided more menace than a rabbit with a semi-automatic weapon.
“I did. I’m here, aren’t I?”
I’d flashed my shield to get in, and now I wanted to flash my nine-millimeter. The early hour meant a yawn preceded one hand wrapped around the thick neck of my competition. I preferred reasonable solutions since reasonableness was all I had left. “What do we know?” I asked.
“We know you don’t belong here,” Nelson Rivers said.
Like his name implied, he preferred headlocks to handshakes and shaved heads over full-haired ones. He and I had respectfully disagreed on multiple occasions, so often I couldn’t remember the last time we’d ever agreed on anything other than the day of the week. He had hands the size of pencil sharpeners, and he pushed more buttons than he allowed pushed in return. What he needed was a little less mouth and a lot more action.
I ignored his comment. Ignorance was a hard emotion to pin down, but it seemed to rear its ugly head quicker than the other ones. And crime scenes brought out a special kind of ignorance. I had a few emotions left in my system, despite the hour, and I wanted to save them for the victim, who appeared about my age.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

About the Author
Robert Downs
Robert Downs aspired to be a writer before he realized how difficult the writing process was. Fortunately, he'd already fallen in love with the craft, otherwise his stories might never have seen print. Originally from West Virginia, he has lived in Virginia, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and now resides in California. When he’s not writing, Robert can be found reviewing, blogging, or smiling. Penchant for Vengeance is his third novel.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of two paperback or 2 ebook copies of Penchant for Vengeance by Robert Downs.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

"A Pound of Flesh" by Alex Gray

A Pound of Flesh
(DCI Lorimer Book 9)
by Alex Gray

A Pound of Flesh (DCI Lorimer Book 9) by Alex Gray

A Pound of Flesh, the ninth book in the DCI Lorimer series by Alex Gray, is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

For another book by this author, please check out my blog post on The Riverman and my blog post on Pitch Black.

In the depths of a freezing winter, Glasgow finds itself at the mercy of not one, but two serial killers
This is Detective Inspector Lorimer’s worst nightmare and beyond anything he’s faced in his many years on the force. Can he find a link between the brutal slaying of prostitutes in the back streets of the city and the methodical killing of several unconnected businessmen?
When the latest victim turns out to be a prominent Scottish politician, the media’s spotlight is shone on Lorimer’s investigation. Psychologist and criminal profiler Solly Brightman is called in to help solve the cases, but his help may be futile as they realize that someone on the inside is leaking confidential police information. Meanwhile two killers haunt the snowy streets and Lorimer must act fast, before they strike again…

It wasn’t always easy to see the moon or the stars. This city’s sodium glow rose like yellow fog from its streets, blotting out any chance of star gazing. But she knew it was there. That cold white face dominated her thoughts tonight and she shivered as though it already saw her flesh naked and exposed to its unblinking watchfulness. Perhaps it was because she was trying to be seen that she felt such awareness. The red jersey pencil skirt folded over to create a too-short mini, those agonisingly high-heeled sandals cutting into her bare toes; spread across the bed back in the hotel they had seemed the garb of an adventuress. Now, revealed in the glare of the street lamp on this corner she felt a sense of…what? Shame? Perhaps. Self-consciousness, certainly. But such feelings must be overcome if her plan was to work.
She had already overcome the blank indifference of the girls down in Waterloo Street, their body language both defiant and compelling. Her hips shifted, one slender foot thrust forwards, as she remembered how they had stood, languidly chewing gum, waiting for their punters. Their desperation drove them to return night after night, the price of a wrap of drugs equating to an hour with some stranger.
Her own need was just as strong, fuelled by a passion that would not be spent until she had fulfilled her desire.
It was warm in this Glasgow summer’s night and her black nylon blouse clung to her back, making her uncomfortably aware of her own flesh. The thin cotton coat she’d worn to conceal these trashy clothes as she’d tapped her way across the marble foyer of the hotel was now folded into the black bag at her feet, along with her more sober court shoes. When it was over she would slip them on and return the way she had come, hair clipped in a businesslike pleat. She smiled thinly. Being a woman had some advantages; the facility for disguise was just one of them. Her carefully made-up face was stripped of colour in the unforgiving lamplight, leaving only an impression of dark eyes, darker hair tossed back to reveal a long, determined mouth. She recalled what Tracey- Anne, one of the girls at the drop-in centre, had told her: I get through it by pretending to be someone else for a few hours, then I can be myself again.
Tracey-Anne was lucky, though.
After tonight she could never again be the person that she used to be.
Glancing at the elegant façades around the square, the dark-haired woman suddenly saw these city streets through different eyes: the shadows seemed blacker, the corners harbouring ill intent. Her chin tilted upwards, defying those inner demons tempting her to turn back.
After tonight things would change for ever.
When the car slowed down at the kerb her heart quickened in a moment of anticipation that astonished her. She had expected the thrill of fear, not this rush of excitement sweeping through her blood.
The man behind the wheel had bent his head and she could see his eyes flicking over her hungrily, appraising his choice. He gave a brief nod as if to say he was pleased with his first instinct to stop. Her lip-glossed mouth drawn up in a smile, she stepped forward, willing him to reach across and open the window, ask her price. For a moment he seemed to hesitate and she could see tiny beads of sweat on his upper lip, glistening in the light. Then the door of the big car swung open noiselessly and she lowered herself inside, swinging her legs neatly together to show as much thigh as she could. But the gestures were still ladylike, almost reserved, as if she knew that would quicken his senses.
‘How much?’ he asked. And she told him, one shoulder moving insouciantly as if to declare that she wasn’t bothered whether he could afford her or not: someone else would pay that price if he wouldn’t. She glanced at him briefly, catching sight of the tip of his tongue flicking at his lips like a nervous lizard, then he made a gruff noise of assent, looking at her again, as though to be sure of his purchase, before accelerating into the night.

Praise for the Book
"A fabulous read; Gray has a real understanding of human foibles." ~ Auntie Annie
"I liked the book so much - plotting was so very well done, and the characters are also done perfectly imo. I do like DS Lorimer so much, and his wife, his work crew, his psychologist friend Solly. What a good plot, so intertwined, making me guess and wonder and so many layers! Good book!" ~ Bobbie
"I recommend this book to readers who enjoy a character driven mystery. There is much about Lorimer, his life and thoughts. You'll read about Knox, one of Lorimer's detectives whose unrestrained infatuation nearly compromises the case. You'll be a part of Solly's life too, with his wife and their new child. While the plot is engaging, it is the lives of the characters involved that drives it forward." ~Joan N.
"The characters are well done (I like Lorimer's wife Maggie) but this is very plot driven (which is why you can read this as stand alones). It's fairly basic stuff but perfect for travel, among other things. I'm looking forward to more." ~ kathleen g
"A terrific read." ~ Robert G. Demers

About the Author
Alex Gray
Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English.
Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing.
A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of fourteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of three ebook copies of Sleep Like the Dead by Alex Gray.