Author: cvegnad

The Wonders of Nature Book Review

Every page in the Wonders of Nature, reveals a surprising story from the natural world that you just won’t forget.

The Wonders of Nature

Discover the wonders of planet Earth and learn about some of the most amazing animals, plants, rocks and minerals, and microscopic life that live here.

The storybook descriptions and close-up images let you discover the myths and legends of living creatures and minerals, as well as key facts about their natural history. Find out how the prowling jaguar uses spots to avoid being spotted, why a sticky sundew means big trouble for insects, and what on Earth a radiolarian is. From opals to orchids and tapirs to toadstools, this beautiful collection brings more than 100 remarkable items from the natural world to life.

My Thoughts

This book blew my mind away – it is absolutely gorgeous when you pick it up. I loved the texture of the cover and the beautiful design and golden trim. It gives the book an almost whimsical and fairy tale feel to it. I was almost too nervous to open the book as I didn’t want to damage the outside. I would find myself tracing the design on the cover and back over and over as it is just stunning.

The inside of the book is just as beautiful as the outside. It has the same feel to the illustrations and the colours are soft, which suits the theme of the book well. I loved the introduction – ‘this book celebrates some of the millions of living things that call it home, as well as the rocks, fossils and other natural marvels that make up our world’. And this book truly is a celebration of all things in nature.

The book has four sections: rocks and minerals, microscopic life, plants and animals. We loved each section – my personal favourite was the plants section (loved learning about Dragon’s blood tree and Traveler’s Tree – both that I had never heard of before) and my son loved the animals (even learning some new animals like the porcupine fish and Gharial). Each featured item in each category had two pages devoted to it. I loved the large image contrasting with the smaller illustrations and factual quotes. Each item had two to three paragraphs dedicated to it and it blended in well with the illustrations, your eyes naturally followed both the story and imagery. There was a lot of thought put into the design, layout and theme in this book and it was well worth it.

This is a stunning book that you will love as an adult to have in your collection and perfect for the older child as they begin to appreciate nature and want to learn more. This would make an excellent gift for those who love the arts. I found myself wanting to sketch out the plants that were featured – they are just too beautiful for words. The Wonders of Nature is truly a celebration of the beauty and wonder in the world around us.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Ben Hoare is an editor and author of books on nature and natural history, including Eyewitness: Endangered Animals, Trees and Leaves, and Pond Life. A fellow of the Zoological Society of London, his work can also be seen published in BBC Wildlife and Birdlife magazines, and on several BBC websites.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Mom Genes: Book Review

The meddling moms of Forest River live for a good scandal in book two of the Forest River PTA Mom series.

About Mom Genes

The meddling moms of Forest River live for a good scandal. Speculation surrounding Claire Conroy’s sex life has fueled the rumor mill for years. Now, when Claire returns home from a trip to Italy separated from her husband of thirteen years, the imaginations of the Lululemon-clad ladies’ who lunch spin into overdrive. As the gossipmongers create their own scandalous backstory for the separation, blaming Claire’s infidelity, she learns the hard way just how mean mommies can be.

Eager to begin her new life as a single mom of three Claire puts her trust in Jackie Martin, the president of the PTA, to help tell her truth and free her of the false accusations and scandal. But the plan backfires, and Claire is put further into the spotlight when an embarrassed mom declares war.

As Claire dusts off her resume, fights the daily urge not to strangle her ex-husband and his new girlfriend, and dips her toes into the dating world one dud at a time will she find the happiness she craves or succumb to the pressure of the mean girls?

My Thoughts

Mom Genes is the perfect follow up to Hilary’s first book. I could not put this book down – I love the characters, the plot, the humour – just about everything in this story!

We return to Forest River and the lives of the PTA Moms that live there. These Moms really only want the best for their children but will stop at nothing to ensure this, some are downright mean. We have elaborate parties, gifts, school trips, vacations and more. This novel is centred around Claire, who is trying to recover from a recent separation. While she is trying to move forward with her life, she is faced with rumours of an affair, her ex moving on quite quickly with one of his co-workers, an ex that doesn’t want to be there for their kids, her children’s mental health all while trying to find a job and get back out there in the dating world. No easy task for anyone is it? Now throw in a crazy ex-PTA mom and life just gets turned upside down.

Claire is the perfect example of a person who takes the high road, she receives multiple emails and texts of the rumours about her but doesn’t let herself become hateful. She doesn’t get vicious although she does let karma work its own magic. She recognizes her own flaws and embraces them. Her dating experiences make you laugh out loud but you are constantly rooting for her to find that one person that really cares for her, because she deserves it. She will do anything for her kids and family and her goodness shines throughout the novel. We are given this intimate look into her life and become so attached to her family that are going through so much while still trying to maintain some normalcy. Throw in the PTA moms and Jackie and you get a fantastic plot.

This is a hilarious, heart warming novel from start to finish that you can easily relate to as a Mom. At times you laugh with Claire and at other times you feel her pain. I became really attached to her character and just wanted her to keep pushing through. Mom Genes is an amazing read from start to finish, you will not want to miss this one!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

By day, Hilary Grossman works in the booze biz. By night she hangs out with her “characters.” She has an unhealthy addiction to denim and high heel shoes. She’s been known to walk into walls and fall up stairs. She only eats spicy foods and is obsessed with her cat, Lucy. She loves to find humor in everyday life. She likens life to a game of dodge ball – she tries to keep many balls in the air before they smack her in the face. She lives on Long Island.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Been There, Married That Book Review

Been There, Married That is a hilarious battle of wills that will make you laugh out loud, cringe, and keep turning the pages to see what crazy disaster will happen to Agnes and how she’ll rise from the ashes.

About Been There, Married That

Agnes Murphy Nash is the perfect Hollywood wife – she has the right friends, the right clothes, and even a side career of her own as a writer. Her husband Trevor is a bigshot producer, and from the outside it looks like they’re living a picture-perfect celebrity life, complete with tennis tournaments and lavish parties.

But the job description of a Hollywood wife doesn’t cover divorce, which is the way Agnes’ life is headed after she comes home one day to find her credit cards cancelled and the security passwords to get into her enormous LA home changed. Oh, and there’s a guy there whose job it is to tase her if she tries to enter…which she does.

Needless to say, Agnes’ husband is dead set on making sure she loses big time, but Agnes isn’t the type to just lie down and take it. In a world of fremenies and hot nannies, personal psychics and “skinny” jello shots, Agnes may be losing her husband, but could that mean getting her own life back?

My Thoughts

Been There, Married That is a fast paced, humourous, and at times an almost hard to believe novel. I felt like I was reading a television reality show (think Desperate Housewives and a cross with Kardashians but maybe a bit more out of this world), you had moments of absolute disbelief but it also left you wondering could people really behave like this??

Our two main characters are part of the Hollywood crowd – they have the money, fame and careers. But as we know all too often, this doesn’t bring you happiness. Agnes’ husband (who is over the top, dramatic, selfish and down right unbelievable) decides he wants a divorce but he doesn’t go about this the normal way. Instead he locks her out of the house, cancels her credit cards and begins a very strange relationship with the live in nanny. Agnes is a free spirited, independent and bold woman. She rolls with the punches and takes everything thrown at her as a joke. Which also helps her bounce right back, even after hitting rock bottom.

The plot itself is very interesting but the novel was a bit hard to follow at times. The events were extreme and while it gives you a good laugh, it is almost a bit too unbelievable. While I really enjoyed Agnes’ character (come on how can you not love someone who takes an incident where it looks like she peed her pants in front of a crowd of people and come out with an advertising deal), I wish her character was a bit more developed. Agnes at time felt like she was spiraling but given the nature of their environment and her situations this made sense.

If you enjoy the world of reality television and celebrity gossip then this may just be a great fit for you. The theme is messy, out of this world and unbelievable – everything you tend to picture when you think of the lives of the rich and famous.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 3.5/5

About the Author

Gigi Levangie is the author of several novels, including The Starter Wife, which was adapted for an Emmy award-winning miniseries starring Debra Messing, and Maneater, which was adapted for a Lifetime miniseries starring Sarah Chalke. In addition, Levangie wrote the screenplay for the movie Stepmom, starring Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon. Her articles have appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Glamour.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Borgia Confessions

The trials of Renaissance Italy play out through the eyes of one of Italy’s most powerful men – Cesare Borgia – as well as one of the least powerful – a simple maid. In The Borgia Confessions, author Alyssa Palombo brings a story of passion, politics, and class, set against the rise and fall of one of Italy’s most infamous families–the Borgias.

About The Borgia Confessions

During the sweltering Roman summer of 1492, Rodrigo Borgia has risen to power as pope. Rodrigo’s eldest son Cesare, forced to follow his father into the church and newly made the Archbishop of Valencia, chafes at his ecclesiastical role and fumes with jealousy and resentment at the way that his foolish brother has been chosen for the military greatness he desired.

Maddalena Moretti comes from the countryside, where she has seen how the whims of powerful men wreak havoc on the lives of ordinary people. But now, employed as a servant in the Vatican Palace, she cannot help but be entranced by Cesare Borgia’s handsome face and manner and finds her faith and conviction crumbling in her want of him.

As war rages and shifting alliances challenge the pope’s authority, Maddalena and Cesare’s lives grow inexplicably entwined. Maddalena becomes a keeper of dangerous Borgia secrets, and must decide if she is willing to be a pawn in the power games of the man she loves. And as jealousy and betrayal threaten to tear apart the Borgia family from within, Cesare is forced to reckon with his seemingly limitless ambition.

My Thoughts

Wow – this is an extremely powerful, captivating novel on an equally powerful family. The novel does great justice to this family that used anything within their power in their quest to rule and wealth.

The novel is told from two viewpoints, the wealthy eldest brother of the Borgia family, Cesare, and a maid, Maddalena.

Cesare never wanted a life dedicated to God, he wanted to be a military man. But as a Borgia, he has to do what his Father tells him to do. On the outside, he seems kind, thoughtful, caring and a wonderful man of God. On the inside lies something darker, as we get glimpses of this throughout the novel.

Maddalena is a typical woman of this time period – she was forced to marry a man much older than her at a young age. This marriage ended soon after when her husband died. She escapes her past by heading to Rome to work at the Vatican, instead wanting to devote her life to God. She is kind, religious, thoughtful but naive and trusting. She wants love but is afraid of it and her previous marriage has made it hard for her to understand what love is and should look like. Her beauty attracts Cesare and she begins a journey down a very dangerous road.

As we follow these two characters and how their relationship (one that can never truly be) develops, we are also exposed to the backdrop of war, betrayal, murder and more. Reading the novel, I found myself looking up the Borgia family to learn more about this family and time period. This is my favourite part of a good read, when it engages you and you want to learn more!

This is an excellent story from start to finish, I never quite knew what would happen next. I couldn’t put the novel down, I had to keep reading and learning more about this powerful and downright vicious family. I loved the characters and how she develops them. You feel as though you know Maddalena, you want to be her friend and give her guidance but your heart also breaks for her goodness and trusting nature. You may despise the Borgia’s but you just can’t stop reading, you want to know what they will do next. This is a definite must read novel!

You can purchase a copy of this book here.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

ALYSSA PALOMBO is the author of The Violinist of Venice, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence, and The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel. She is a recent graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively. A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. When not writing, she can be found reading, hanging out with her friends, traveling, or planning for next Halloween. She lives in Buffalo, New York, where she is always at work on a new novel.

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All’s Well in Jingle Valley Spotlight Tour

iRead Book Tours

As autumn softens into winter at the beautiful Massachusetts farm, Julie resolves to do everything she can to ensure a happy ending for her clients. But despite her best efforts, will there be fewer weddings than planned at Jingle Valley this year? Or could there be more?

About All’s Well in Jingle Valley

It’s been three years since Julie Tate and her business partner Freddy saved the farm at Jingle Valley and set up their boutique wedding business. After much hard work, and some challenging clients, it finally looks like they’re well on their way to success. Newly single, Julie’s trying not to envy the happiness enjoyed by her wedding clients. But it’s difficult to keep her mind on the job when her days are filled with other people’s romances. And when a door she thought was closed appears to open again, her confusion deepens.

Second-chance couple April and Bill clearly adore each other, and they love the idea of getting married at Jingle Valley. But with each bringing complicated histories to their relationship, will their pasts interfere with them tying the knot?

As autumn softens into winter at the beautiful Massachusetts farm, Julie resolves to do everything she can to ensure a happy ending for her clients. But despite her best efforts, will there be fewer weddings than planned at Jingle Valley this year? Or could there be more?

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Martha Reynolds was raised in Rhode Island, spent a year of college in Switzerland, and is always planning a return visit. She completed an accomplished career as a fraud investigator and decided it was time to do something she really liked.

She now writes full-time and has set a personal goal of releasing a book a year until she dies. Her writing has appeared in Magnificat magazine and her very short poem was read by journalist Connie Schultz during NPR’s Tell Me More poetry challenge.

Her novel VILLA DEL SOL won the 2018 Book Award in Literary Fiction by the Independent Publishers of New England.

You can connect with her on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

The Giveaway!

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Disclosure: This is a spotlight tour, I did not receive compensation for this post.

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