Before You Were Born Book Review

A beautiful book for new parents that celebrates the promise of new life.

About Before You Were Born

Told from the perspective of new parents welcoming their baby to the world, this love letter to young children written by Governor General’s Literary Award–nominated author Deborah Kerbel describes with lyrical grace all of the promise held by new life. As the seasons change from fall through winter and into spring, the expectant parents’ anticipation over the baby’s arrival is mirrored in the animals around their home, marrying the natural world to the family’s experience.

My Thoughts

There is nothing more exciting in the world than when you are pregnant and expecting a child. It is full of excitement, worry, love, wonder and appreciation of the world around you. You watch patiently as your child develops, grows and moves throughout those long nine months. You can’t even begin to anticipate the wonder of the day when you get to meet your little one. You fell in love with them from the first moment you learned you were pregnant and this love continues to grow throughout the seasons.

This beautiful book describes the wealth of emotions that you feel during the time – the desire and want for a child, the promise of new life and the secret feeling that you can treasure with your partner when you find out that you are pregnant. It describes the anticipation and lead up to the amazing moment when your child arrives and you become a family.

The beautiful illustrations mirror the emotions and evolving seasons as the parents wait for their child to join them. I loved their texture and design, which added even more depth to the story as it holds its own story within the story.

This is a beautiful book for new parents, that will make an excellent baby shower gift for first and second time parents. It will be a gift to treasure for years to come.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Deborah Kerbel is the author of seven novels for middle grade and young adult readers. Her novels have been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Canadian Library Association YA Book of the Year, and the Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award. Deborah was born in London, England and moved to Canada at the age of two and went on to attend the University of Western Ontario. Deborah lives in Thornhill, Ontario, with her husband, two book-loving children, and a schnoodle named Alfredo.

About the Illustrator

Suzanne Del Rizzo is the award-winning author/illustrator of My Beautiful Birds and the illustrator of several other books for children. Suzanne has always loved getting her hands messy and traded a job in scientific research for a career in children’s books. Suzanne’s dimensional illustrations use polymer clay, acrylic, and other mixed media to bring rich texture and imagination to her books. Suzanne’s 2017 picture book, My Beautiful Birds was a New York Times Notable Children’s Book selection, a Junior Library Guild selection, 2017 One Book, One San Diego for Kids selection and won the Malka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children’s Literature. She lives in Oakville, Ontario.

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

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American Red Book Review

In American Red, as the Great American Century begins, and the modern world roars to life, Capitalists flaunt greed and seize power, Socialists and labor unions flex their violent will, and an extraordinary true story of love and sacrifice unfolds.

About American Red

In American Red, as the Great American Century begins, and the modern world roars to life, Capitalists flaunt greed and seize power, Socialists and labor unions flex their violent will, and an extraordinary true story of love and sacrifice unfolds.

In his critically acclaimed debut novel, Fortunate Son, David Marlett introduced readers to a fresh take on historical fiction–the historical legal thriller–bringing alive the people and events leading to and surrounding some of the most momentous, dramatic legal trials in history. Now he returns with American Red, the story of one of the greatest domestic terrorists in American history, and the detectives, lawyers, spies, and lovers who brought him down.

The men and women of American Red are among the most fascinating in American history. When, at the dawn of the 20th century, the Idaho governor is assassinated, blame falls on “Big Bill” Haywood, the all-powerful, one-eyed boss of the Western Federation of Miners in Denver. Close by, his polio-crippled wife, Neva, struggles with her wavering faith, her love for another man, and her sister’s affair with her husband. New technologies accelerate American life, but justice lags behind. Private detectives, battling socialists and unions on behalf of wealthy capitalists, will do whatever it takes to see Haywood hanged. The scene is set for bloodshed, from Denver to Boise to San Francisco. America’s most famous attorney, Clarence Darrow, leads the defense—a philandering U.S. senator leads the prosecution—while the press, gunhands, and spies pour in. Among them are two idealists, Jack Garrett and Carla Capone—he a spy for the prosecution, she for the defense. Risking all, they discover truths about their employers, about themselves and each other, and what they’ll sacrifice for justice and honor—and for love.

My Thoughts

American Red is an incredibly powerful, touching novel that you will not be able to put down.

The novel centres around a dark time in our history, where money and power were placed above the lives of men, women and children. Where good people suffered, died and lived in poverty while you had others living in extreme wealth and privilege. Where there were no rights to protect workers, no breaks, no minimum or equal pay and no minimum age to work. Where the focus was on profit, even if it meant sacrificing lives and safety.

It is in this backdrop, where we really see the union power emerge and where people really began to stand up for what is right by defining and demanding this as law. We see how the union struggles with standing up to the government and law enforcement, who consistently side with the corporations. We watch as they escalate their demands for basic human rights to include bombings, murder and deceit. Many times you struggle with the decisions the union president makes, especially when it comes to bombings and murder but you also see the other side where your heart aches for the everyday worker who no one else cares for.

This is an incredibly well written novel, packed full of history. As a member of a union, I can sometimes take for granted how hard people fought for me and others to have the rights we have today. We work only eight hour days, we have breaks and lunches, vacations, safe working conditions because so many fought and lost their lives before us. This novel brings this struggle back to the fore front at a time that you begin to wonder if we need a good reminder of our past. Sometimes I wonder if we are back to putting profit over health and safety, and this is an important topic to never forget.

This novel is full of characters that lived and fought during this time period, and will inspire you to do your own research. It is a definite must read novel.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Rating:

About the Author

David Marlett is an award-winning storyteller and writer of historical fiction, primarily historical legal thrillers bringing alive the fascinating people and events leading to major historical trials. His first such novel, Fortunate Son, became a national bestseller in 2014, rising to #2 in all historical fiction and #3 in all literature and fiction on Amazon. The late Vincent Bugliosi — #1 New York Times bestselling author of Helter Skelter — said David is “a masterful writer of historical fact and detail, of adventure, peril and courtroom drama.” Just released is American Red which follows the extraordinary true story of a set of radical lovers, lawyers, killers, and spies who launched the Great American Century. Visit www.AmericanRedBook.com. He is currently writing his next historical legal thriller, Angeles Los, which continues some of the lead characters from American Red. Angeles Los is based on the true story at the 1910 intersection of the first movies made in Los Angeles, the murderous bombing of the Los Angeles Times, and eccentric Abbot Kinney’s “Venice of America” kingdom. In addition, David is a professor at Pepperdine Law School, was the managing editor of OMNI Magazine, and guest-lectures on story design. He is a graduate of The University of Texas School of Law, the father of four, and lives in Manhattan Beach, California.

Book Excerpt

The lawyer lobbed a verbal spear across the courtroom, piercing the young man, pinning him to the creaky witness chair and tilting the twelve jurymen forward. Their brows rose in anticipation of a gore-laden response from the witness as he clutched his bowler, his face vacant toward the wood floor beyond his shoddy boots. When the judge cleared his throat, the plaintiff’s attorney, Clarence Darrow, repeated the question. “Mr. Bullock, I know this is a strain upon you to recount that tragic day when fifteen of your brothers perished at the hands of the Stratton—”

“Your Honor! Point in question,” barked the flint-faced defense attorney representing the Stratton Independence Mine, a non-union gold operation near Cripple Creek, Colorado. On this warm summer afternoon in Denver, he and Darrow were the best dressed there, each wearing a three-button, vested suit over a white shirt and dull tie.

The robed judge gave a long blink, then peered at Darrow. With a chin waggle, his ruling on the objection was clear.

“Yes, certainly. My apologies, Your Honor,” feigned Darrow, glancing toward the plaintiff’s table where two widows sat in somber regard. Though his wheat-blonde hair and sharp, pale eyes defied his age of forty-nine, his reputation for cunning brilliance and oratory sorcery mitigated the power of his youthful appearance: it was no longer the disarming weapon it had once been. No attorney in the United States would ever presume nascence upon Clarence Darrow. Certainly not in this, his twenty-sixth trial. He continued at the witness. “Though as just a mere man, one among all …” He turned to the jury. “The emotion of this event strains even the most resolute of procedural decorum. I am, as are we all, hard-pressed to—”

“Whole strides, shall we, Mr. Darrow?” grumbled the judge.

“Yes,” Darrow said, turning once again to James Bullock who seemed locked in the block ice of tragedy, having not moved a fraction since first taking the witness seat. “Mr. Bullock, we must rally ourselves, muster our strength, and for the memory of your brothers, share with these jurymen the events of that dark day. You said the ride up from the stope, the mine floor, was a swift one, and there were the sixteen of you in the cage made to hold no more than nine—is that correct?”

“Yes, Sir,” Bullock replied, his voice a faint warble.

“Please continue,” Darrow urged.

Bullock looked up. “We kept going, right along, but it kept slipping. We’d go a ways and slip again.”

“Slipping? It was dropping?”

“Yes, Sir. Dropping down sudden like, then stopping. Cappy was yelling at us to get to the center, but there was no room. We was in tight.”

“By Cappy you mean Mr. Capone, the foreman?”

“Yes, Sir. Our shift boss that day.” The witness sucked his bottom lip. “He was in the cage ’long with us.” He sniffed in a breath then added, “And his boy, Tony. Friend of mine. No better fella.”

“My condolences,” said Darrow. “What do you think was the aid in getting the men to the middle of the cage?”

“Keep it centered in the shaft, I reckon. We was all yelling.” Bullock took a slow breath before continuing, “Cappy was trying to keep the men quiet, but it wasn’t making much a difference. Had his arms around Tony.”

A muscle in Darrow’s cheek shuddered. “Please continue.”

“So we was slipping, going up. Then the operator, he took us up about six feet above the collar of the shaft, then back down again.”

“Which is not the usual—”

“Not rightly. No, Sir. We should’ve stopped at the collar and no more. But later they said the brakes failed on the control wheel.”

“Mr. Bullock, let’s return to what you experienced. You were near the top of the shaft, the vertical shaft that we’ve established was 1,631 feet deep, containing, at that time, about twenty feet of water in its base, below the lowest stope, correct?”

“Yes, Sir. Before they pumped that water to get to em.”

“By ‘them’ you mean the bodies of your dead companions?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Ok, you were being hoisted at over 900 feet per minute by an operator working alone on the surface—near the top of the shaft, when the platform began to slip and jump. Is that your testimony?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“That must have been terrifying.”

“Yes, Sir, it was. We’d come off a tenner too.”

“A ten-hour shift?”

“Yes, Sir.”

Darrow rounded on the jury, throwing the next question over his shoulder. “Oh, but Sir, how could it have been a ten-hour work day when the eight-hour day is now the law of this state?”

The defense lawyer’s chair squeaked as he stood. “Objection, Your Honor.”

“I’ll allow it,” barked the judge, adding, “But gentlemen …”

The witness shook his head. “The Stratton is a non-union, gold ore mine. Supposed to be non-union anyway. Superintendent said owners weren’t obliged to that socialist law.”

“Hearsay, Your—”

“Keep your seat, Counsel. You’re going to wear this jury thin.” Darrow stepped closer to the witness.

“Mr. Bullock, as I said, let’s steer clear from what you heard others say. The facts speak for themselves: you and your friends were compelled to work an illegal ten-hour shift. Let’s continue. You were near the top, but unable to get off the contraption, and it began to—”

“Yes. We’d gone shooting up, then he stopped it for a second.” 

“By ‘he,’ you mean the lift operator?”

“Yes, Sir. He stopped it but then it must have gotten beyond his control, cause we dropped sixty, seventy feet all the sudden. We were going quick. We said to each other we’re all gone. Then he raised us about ten feet and stopped us. But then, it started again, and this time it was going fast up and we went into the sheave wheel as fast as we could go.”

“To be sure we all follow, Mr. Bullock, the lift is the sole apparatus that hoisted you from the Stratton Mine, where you work?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“And the sheave wheel is the giant wheel above the surface, driven by a large, thirty-year-old steam engine, run by an operator. That sheave wheel coils in the cable”—he pantomimed the motion—“pulling up the 1,500-pound-load platform, or lift, carrying its limit of nine men. And it coils out the cable when the lift is lowered. But that day the lift carried sixteen men—you and fifteen others. Probably over 3,000 pounds. Twice its load limit. Correct?”

“Yes, Sir. But, to be clear, I ain’t at the Stratton no more.” 

“No?” asked Darrow, pleased the man had bit the lure.

“No. Seeing how I was one of Cappy’s men. Federation. And, now ’cause this.” His voice faded.

Darrow frowned, walked a few paces toward the jury, clapped once and rubbed his hands together. “The mine owners, a thousand miles away, won’t let you work because you’re here—a member of the Western Federation of Miners, a union man giving his honest testimony. Is that right?”

“Yes, Sir.”

Again, the defense counsel came to his feet. “Your Honor, Mr. Darrow knows Mr. Bullock’s discharge wasn’t—”

The judge raised a hand, took a deep breath and cocked his head toward the seasoned attorney before him. “Swift to your point, Mr. Darrow.”

“Yes, Your Honor.” Darrow’s blue eyes returned to the witness. “Mr. Bullock, you were telling us about the sheave wheel.”

“Yes. It’s a big thing up there, out over the top of the shaft. You see it on your way up. We all think on it—if we was to not stop and slam right up into it—which we did that day. We all knew it’d happen. I crouched to save myself from the hard blow I knew was coming. I seen a piece of timber about one foot wide there underside the sheave, and soon as we rammed, I grabbed hold and held myself up there, and pretty soon the cage dropped from below me, and I began to holler for a ladder to get down.”

“Must have been distressing, up there, holding fast to a timber, dangling 1,631 feet over an open shaft, watching your fifteen brothers fall.”

Bullock choked back tears. “Yes, Sir. That’s what I saw.” He paused. When he resumed, his tone was empty, as if the voice of his shadow. “I heard em. Heard em go. They was screaming. They knew their end had come. I heard em till I heard em no more.”

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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Once Upon a Bad Boy

Maybe it’s finally time for them to walk off into the sunset and into a true and lasting love?

About Once Upon a Bad Boy

Sadie Gold is ready to take her career to the next level with the role of a lifetime. Finally, she can shake her reputation as a pretty face with more wealth and connections than talent. But Sadie is not prepared for the wild turn her own life is about to take. The man in charge of training Sadie for her most demanding role yet is none other than her first real boyfriend—the one who took her heart and ran away.

Bo Ibarra is as good-looking and irresistible as ever. Maybe even more so, now that everything once worked against them—Sadie’s pampered and privileged upbringing and Bo’s childhood in a family struggling to make ends meet—is in the past. But the future is still unwritten…and getting there, together, means coming clean about painful secrets and slashing through nasty tabloid rumors while trying to control the attraction that crackles between them. Maybe it’s finally time for them to walk off into the sunset and into a true and lasting love?

My Thoughts

Once Upon a Bad Boy is a lovely story of forgiveness, healing and second chances.

Our two main characters were once young and in love. They had a bright future and couldn’t be separated. All of this changed the night of the prom when Bo breaks up with Sadie and never explains why.

Sadie was heartbroken and left their town to pursue a career in acting. She never had an easy go at her profession even though she was immensely talented – every one would brush her off as the rich girl who got the job because of her parents. She manages to score the role of a life time that will help boost her career. The only problem? She will be filming back near her hometown where her heart was broken so long ago. To top that one off – her stunt trainer is the one who broke her heart!

Sparks immediately begin to fly in this story as the two have an electric chemistry that they can not deny. They try to remain professional but it becomes clear that they are far too attracted to each other. The only problem? How do they clear up their past – Sadie wants and deserves answers. Do they have a future together or is this relationship purely physical? This peels off quite the scab for the couple but also brings with it understanding and forgiveness.

This is a beautiful story of second chances that you will fall in love with. It is honest, loving, sexy and more. A fantastic summer time read!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the Author

After earning her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Loyola University Chicago, Melonie Johnson―aka #thewritinglush―taught high school English and Theatre for several years. An award winning author and a two-time RWA Golden Heart® finalist, she writes smart and funny contemporary romance and moonlights as an audiobook narrator under the pseudonym, Evelyn Eibhlin. She lives happily ever after with her husband, two redheaded daughters, a dog that’s more like a small horse, and a pair of hermit crabs. She is the author of the Sometimes in Love series which includes Getting Hot with the Scot, Smitten by the Brit, and Once Upon a Bad Boy.

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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Rogue Most Wanted

Rogue Most Wanted is the next book in the sparkling, romantic Cavensham Heiress series by Janna MacGregor.

About Rogue Most Wanted

There’s one creed all Cavensham men subscribe to: they fall in love completely and decidedly. But what happens when the woman you fall in love with swears she’ll only marry you as a last resort?

Lady Theodora Worth needs to marry fast in order to keep her estate. It’s been her heart and home for years, and she’ll not lose it to anyone. There’s just one problem—as a woman who was raised in isolation by her grandfather, she’s completely incapable of pouring a cup of tea, never mind wooing a man. She’ll need a little matchmaking help from her sprightly next-door neighbor in order to find a convenient husband.

Lord William Cavensham’s heart was broken years ago, and since that day he vowed to never love again. But his spirited Great Aunt Stella is determined he’ll marry or not inherit a single penny from her. And she’s got just the woman in mind—her beautiful and completely hapless next-door neighbor, Thea.

Thea and Will agree there’s no sense in marrying each other. Will wholeheartedly believes he’s incapable of love, and Thea refuses to marry the first man she’s practically met. But Will may be the rogue Thea wants the most after all.

My Thoughts

I fell in love with this beautiful story that made me laugh, cry and at times made my heart so sore.

Thea has a beautiful soul, she did everything she could do take care of her Grandfather and protect him from society especially as he declined in his later years. This took quite a toll on her and prevented her from being a part of society or securing a husband but this never stopped her from caring for him. It did however mean that she was lacking in terms of social graces. When her Grandfather passes and she risks losing her title and home to a greedy cousin, she must act quick to save her future.

Will, who was once full of passion and wanted nothing more than a home full of love and happiness, had his heart broken terribly and never recovered from this incident. He feels he can never love nor trust again. He becomes the victim of his Great Aunt’s match making plans, which at first upsets him but then he finds he wants to help Thea.

While the pair seem to be mismatched, their friends and family have different plans for them and would love to see them married. We get to follow along as Will introduces Thea to society, protects and guides her through some awful experiences as well as watching the two of them open up again to love and hope. This is a beautiful story with excellent characters and an even better plot – I finished this novel in one sitting.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes, and her novels include the Cavensham Heiresses series. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs.

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 Big Book of Knowledge

DK Canada

A whole world of discovery awaits in the Big Book of Knowledge, and it will keep curious kids endlessly captivated.

About Big Book of Knowledge

The perfect encyclopedia for any information-hungry kid who would like to boost their general knowledge, this pocket-sized book is packed full of facts.

From earthquakes to Marco Polo, magnets to how the brain works, this fully updated six hundred page book covers just about every topic that a curious child will want to learn about.

The perfect resource for school-aged children, this book will be a reference point for years’ worth of homework, research, and school projects.

Updated photography and illustration are combined to show what others only tell you. Annotation points out the details that you might miss at first and gives you a detailed overview of every subject that you can think of.

Our Thoughts

This small but mighty book is jam packed with everything and anything you would ever need to know (or didn’t even realize you wanted to know).

The book covers four chapters: earth and space, the natural world, our world and science and technology. Each chapter is further broken down into additional sections such as, plant life, people in the past, food and farming and so on.

You can start off reading this book how ever you want – you do not have to read it from the front cover to the back and I encourage you not to. Instead open up that table of contents and choose a chapter and section that appeals the most to you. We started with the natural world as our kids love animals. Of course the very first page we stumble upon – Plankton! It was not the Plankton that our youngest had imagined (thank you Spongebob) but he really did enjoy learning about this creature before moving on to the mammals section.

Each topic has two dedicated pages to it (i.e. apes will span both pages) and each page is just slightly larger than a 4×6 photo and easily fits into the palm of your hands. The book contains beautiful images but the words take prominence in this book which I loved but also makes it suited to an older child or young adult.

This is a fantastic book to get your child (and you) learning in the summer months. Read as much or as little as you want each time, bring it to the beach, enjoy it at a soccer game – the possibilities and learning are endless. You will truly treasure this special small book that is jam packed with knowledge.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Indigo.

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

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