Category: giveaways

Perils and Pearls Book Review

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This is the story of a Dutch family, resident in the Dutch East Indies, that fell victim to the Japanese occupation and was interned in jungle camps throughout the war.

About Perils and Pearls

In World War II much of Asia fell under Japanese control after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. All non-Asians were imprisoned in concentration camps until August of 1945, the end of the war in the Pacific. This is the story of a Dutch family, resident in the Dutch East Indies, that fell victim to the Japanese occupation and was interned in jungle camps throughout the war. It tells the journey from riches to rags, from fear and suffering, to the joy of freedom and recovery.

My Thoughts

I love reading historical novels, documentaries and biographies. They give a intimate look at a period of time, offering new insight and encourages you to take a deeper look at a time period, to research more and understand the people, lives and cultures.

This book does just that, I never knew about the Dutch that lived in Indonesia and the route to Indonesia Independence. This was never discussed at school and I don’t think I have ever seen this in media accounts or in any of the books that I have read that covered this time period. Perils and Pearls gave an interesting account of the Dutch living in Indonesia before the war broke and during, the road to Indonesia’s independence and how this intersected with World War II.

In her book, we learn the history of her family who lived both in Indonesia and the Netherlands. Many times, their family members came back to the Netherlands but somehow always found their way back to Indonesia, which is where they called home. This is where Hulda found herself when the Japanese invaded Indonesia.

We dive into the Japanese invasion of Indonesia and learn about what happened to those living there that were imprisoned in civilian concentration camps. Hulda, her Mother and brother were imprisoned in one of these camps, while her Father (a soldier) escaped to Australia on a mission. We get an intimate look at the fears, horrors and moments of hope for her family. Her Mother’s fears of how this would affect their growth, watching her child become sick and suffer and not being able to stop this. The children’s general curiosity that tended to get them in trouble. The strength of these civilians is incredible – faced with the unthinkable, they stuck together and did their best to survive. They had no idea of what happened to family members outside of the camp, how they would ever reach them again but they still fought on, living and surviving.

This is well written look at events that are important in our history and as we move forward a lesson that we can all learn from to ensure this never happens again. It is a story of survival at all costs, hope for the future and healing. She writes in an unique manner, telling the story how it happened but does not insert hate or blame. This is an excellent book for young adults and adults to read, to understand the mistakes of the past, how we can ensure it never happens again and to appreciate the sacrifices those who came before us gave. A definite must read, I could not put this one down.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and IndieBound.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the Author

Hulda Bachman–Neeb was born in Indonesia of colonial Dutch parentage two years before the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941. Because much of Asia fell under Japanese control, all non-Asians were imprisoned in concentration camps until August of 1945, the end of the war in the Pacific. As a member of the Dutch Foreign Service in her adult life, Hulda held assignments in twenty-five countries over a period of thirty-six years, retiring in 1996. She is married to an American, James Bachman, a historian and author, and has dual citizenship. Hulda and her husband live in Estes Park, Colorado.

Connect with her on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

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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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Lighten Your Mental Load Book Spotlight

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Lighten Your Mental Load shares real stories of what this load is like for both men and women across the globe and how it originated.

About Lighten Your Mental Load

Mental labor, or the mental load, involves the many — and extremely varied — tasks that are involved in managing a household and/or workplace. This topic has exploded over the past couple of years, especially for women. As stated in an October 2017 Washington Post article, “The constant stress of trying to stay organized — and to remember to execute so many tasks every single day — is affecting women’s relationships with their spouses, children, friends, and colleagues. They are experiencing mental, emotional, and physical fatigue trying to stay on top of it all.”

Lighten Your Mental Load shares real stories of what this load is like for both men and women across the globe and how it originated. It offers practical advice on how to lighten this burden through technology and other methods in the following areas:

• Home
• Shopping and Meals
• Marriage/Partners
• Children
• Pets
• Transportation
• Career
• Birthdays, Celebrations, Holidays, and Vacations
• Volunteering, Church Activities, and Hobbies
• Caregiving
• Retirement

Finally, the book discusses ways to not add to the mental load of others and how we can more evenly distribute the mental labor between both sexes for future generations.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Tell-Tale Publishing.

About the Author

Amy Thornton Shankland, GPC, has been battling the mental load for over 29 years. She is a former Dale Carnegie instructor, has been a grant professional for 18 years, is a columnist for the Hamilton County Reporter in Central Indiana, and a wife and mother. She also published Joy to You and Me (At Work!) in 2018 through Tell-Tale Publishing.

Connect with Amy on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

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Disclosure: This is a spotlight tour, I did not receive compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Alycat and the Tournament Tuesday

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Get ready to have fun and learn all about talent, skill and luck, with Alycat and the Tournament Tuesday.

About Alycat and the Tournament Tuesday

A “Mom’s Choice Award Winner”! Alycat’s brother, Bugsy, is playing in a golf tournament with some of his friends, and wants to use his lucky ball to win the game. But when Alycat forgets his lucky ball at home, Bugsy learns what luck is really all about. Can Bugsy win the tournament without his lucky ball? Alycat and the Tournament Tuesday is part of the Alycat Series: alycatseries.com.

Our Thoughts

This is a super sweet book that both parents and children can appreciate. Do you have a lucky pair of socks or underwear? A lucky hat? Or perhaps a ritual that may seem silly to others but is something that you swear by? That item that you have to have, otherwise you feel that you will lose?

I think we can all appreciate the concerns of Bugsy in this story. He swears by his lucky ball for when he plays golf. He truly believes that he needs that ball in order to succeed and win. It doesn’t matter that he was encouraged by his parents and sister that it isn’t the ball that makes him win – that it is his natural skill and how much he practices. In a twist of events, his lucky ball was left at home and his sister wanting to help him tries to trick him but was unsuccessful when he realizes her trick. Can he still win? Can he find the courage to belief in himself?

I loved this beautiful story. It was easy to read to my child and the illustrations helped capture his attention. But more importantly, it was the plot itself that was so important. Even at the young age of six, my son felt he needed to have a certain lucky item on his person during his soccer games. He is a wonderfully talented soccer player who practices daily, so I was surprised that he felt (and still feels), he needs his lucky item in order to win. I want him to understand and believe that it is HIM that will decide the outcome of his success, not a physical item on his person. This story sparked a great conversation of ‘lucky items and superstitions’ and how it is us, as a an individual, who decides our future. This is a fantastic read for all young children that I strongly encourage parents to read and speak to their child about. It doesn’t matter if your child is an athlete – a lot of times they carry over these beliefs into tests, assignments, presentations. It is so important for children to be empowered and to know that they hold the key to success.

You can pre-order a copy of this book here.

About the Author

Alysson Foti Bourque is the author of the award-winning Alycat series. Alysson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a Juris Doctor degree from the Southern University Law Center.

After practicing law for six years, she traded in writing trial briefs for writing children’s books. Alysson enjoys public speaking opportunities at schools, conferences, and festivals nationwide. She hopes to inspire people of all ages to follow their dreams and believe in themselves wholeheartedly.

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

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A Reason for Living Book Review

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In this tale of love, passion, and self-discovery, three Jamaican men become caught up in a 1960s revolution that reveals injustices, oppression, and a purpose for one of them.

About A Reason for Living

It is the mid-1960s in Kingston, Jamaica, and the country is steeped in social, political, and economic inequities. Howard Baxter, the heir to a real estate empire, has no interest in seeking or managing wealth. Painting and deflowering Jamaican maidens are his passions. As he combs the streets looking for greater meaning in his pathetic life, it soon becomes apparent that Howard’s journey will not be easy. Bernaldo Lloyd, a member of the Baxter clan, is a medical student who is sensitive to the hopelessness of the Jamaican masses. Inspired by his close friend and Howard’s cousin, Ras Robin Pone, and their ties with the Rastafari movement that calls for social and economic equity, Bernaldo is determined to overthrow the corrupt government. As Howard, Bernaldo and Robin become influenced by The American Black Power and Civil Rights movements demanding equal rights for African Americans, the women in their lives both love and criticize them. But when revolution breaks out, Howard finally discovers a purpose for his twisted life that leads him in a direction he never anticipated. In this tale of love, passion, and self-discovery, three Jamaican men become caught up in a 1960s revolution that reveals injustices, oppression, and a purpose for one of them.

My Thoughts

This is a powerful story told during an important time of change. The story circles around three men: Howard, Bernaldo and Robin but I feel that Howard takes the centre stage and he is the central piece that the story hinges on. It is his actions that bring about change and connect all of our minor characters together.

This novel exposes the difficult side of life in Jamaica in this time period. I think when we view this beautiful country, we don’t stop and understand enough the struggles of their people and what they have endured. This book encouraged me to do some of my own research into the political movements during this time frame and I found a new appreciation of the struggles and triumphs of the people.

Through this novel we are exposed to the poverty, inequality and the lack of hope of the people at this time. The extreme poverty seen in this story leads to a desperation, or even a lack of hope for the future. We see this in the relationships between our main characters and the ones that are explained to us in the story. We see characters sell their bodies, or have frequent partners – which was explained to us that this was done out of boredom (with no future to rise out of poverty, what should they be doing?). While they make up the majority of the population in Jamaica – they are the poorest in the country. The wealth of their country is held in the hands of a few, elite individuals who do not have the interests of the majority at heart. The government is corrupt and in the hands of the wealthy, instead of looking after their people, they send the wealth out of the country. Change is needed but how do we create change? Our characters, especially Howard, become the catalyst needed for change in their country.

Howard is a difficult character – he is an artist with a troubled past. He holds on to the pain of losing his Mother and so many times throughout the novel seems both lost and found. He has been abused by others and has used others. He wants to see a better future for his people but at times, I am not sure if he can see what that picture is in his own mind. He is rash at times but always with a sense of purpose. My heart was sore for him at times and at other times angry at him for his actions and hurting those around him. But you also felt sorry for him because he doesn’t know any better because of his own past. You want to see him succeed but he is also his own worst enemy. The ending was hard – I thought he may have finally found peace but we were left hanging.

This is a well written, thought provoking novel. I found it difficult to follow at first but about a third of the way in, I could not put it down. There were difficult scenes to read and some parts that left you angry at the treatment of the female characters but when you begin to look at the root cause of these actions, it really makes you think. The novel is geared towards adults and mature young adults due to the content.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the Author

Raymond Arthur Julian Reynolds aka Julian Jingles, is a writer, filmmaker, and entrepreneur and operates in New York, USA, and Jamaica, W.I. He began his writing career in 1966 at 16 years old, writing A Reason For Living about a family caught up in a revolution in Jamaica in the mid-1960s. It was written in three drafts and completed in 1968.

He pursued a career in journalism at the Gleaner Company in Kingston, Jamaica writing extensively on the Jamaican music industry, cultural, and social issues. At age 22 he was a columnist writing Merry Go Round, and In the Saddle for the Gleaner, and Record Shop for the Star. He has published several articles, short stories, and essays in Swing, and Cooyah, magazines, the Abeng, and Public Opinion newspapers, in Jamaica.

He immigrated to the United States in 1972 to write two screenplays, “Half Breed,” and “One Way Out.” In New York he has written for the New York Amsterdam News, the Jamaica Weekly Gleaner (NA), Everybody’s magazine, JET, the Daily Challenge, the New York Daily News, the Carib News, and as a foreign correspondent for the Gleaner in Jamaica. He developed an interest in film and television production, and received training in script writing, film, theater, and television directing and production, with the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and wrote and produced three documentary films, “Jamaican Gun Court” (1974), “It All Started With The Drums” (1987), and “Jammin’ In Jamaica–With The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari” (1996), and directed the latter two. He has also worked as production manager on several music videos with performers such as Kool & the Gang, the Manhattans, and Steel Pulse.

Between 1998 to 2018 he contributed frequently to the In Focus section of the Jamaica Sunday Gleaner, writing on socio-economic and cultural issues. He has been an entrepreneur as he pursues his literary career, involved in business consultancy with the National Minority Business Council in New York, and the importing, exporting and distribution of agro-products between Jamaica and the United States, and have produced several music concerts, and stage plays in New York, and Kingston.

He was married in 1972 to Charmaine Jasmine, who is deceased. He has three children, 11 grandchildren, and one great grand, and continues living in New York, and Jamaica.

You can connect with him on his website.

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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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A Jingle Valley Wedding Spotlight Tour

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New York executive Julie Tate knows what it takes to win in the financial world, but her big-city success could never prepare her for her latest career move. 

About A Jingle Valley Wedding

New York executive Julie Tate knows what it takes to win in the financial world, but her big-city success could never prepare her for her latest career move. When her brother abandons the failing family farm, Julie hopes its salvation lies in transforming it into western Massachusetts’s newest premier wedding venue. With her social-savvy friend Freddy in her corner, Julie feels infallible. But as their bank account dwindles and one obstacle after another crops up, the business partners wonder if their venture is doomed for failure before the first bride walks down the aisle. Maybe the best way to succeed in a business based on romance is to find one.

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.

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Disclosure: This is a spotlight tour, I did not receive compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

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