Category: books

The Art of Traveling Strangers

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The Art of Traveling Strangers is a journey of self-discovery and personal empowerment inspired by the great art masterpieces of Italy and France. It’s a tale of female bonding and the amazing powers of perception. After all, reality, like art, is just an illusion.

About The Art of Traveling Strangers

It’s the 1980s, and art historian Claire Markham reels from a series of heartbreaking losses. Desperate to escape her shattered reality, she becomes an art guide in Europe for quirky stranger Viv Chancey and embarks on a life-changing journey through the art-filled cities of Milan, Venice, Ravenna, Florence, Siena, Rome, and Paris.

Once abroad, Claire tries to hide her woes by focusing on Viv’s art education, but Viv—who is not who she seems—has a different learning experience in mind. Frustrated and wanting to reimagine her life, Claire embraces the idea of reality as illusion and finds herself slipping into the tales of art and history.

When threatened with one more crushing loss, Claire must learn from the spirit of her eccentric companion and the lessons from the art they encounter to take charge of her life or lose the most precious thing in it.

The Art of Traveling Strangers is a journey of self-discovery and personal empowerment inspired by the great art masterpieces of Italy and France. It’s a tale of female bonding and the amazing powers of perception. After all, reality, like art, is just an illusion.

My Thoughts

“If you were born without wings, do nothing to prevent them from growing – Coco Chanel” – The Art of Travelling Strangers

This quote, found at the novel, resonated with me. I feel like this was Claire – a woman with so much potential but who was holding herself back. She was scared to fly, allowing first her husband, then her affair and even her work to hold her back. She found her security in her love of art history.

Claire is at a difficult point in her life. She has come to the realization that her marriage is over – her husband being an overbearing, thoughtless and unkind man. She starts an affair with a man who shows her what love should be – kind, caring and thoughtful of both partners. She loses her Mother, her husband, her lover and financial security all at once. This leaves her spiraling and trying to figure out how to move forward both personally and professionally. She goes to Europe with Viv and this is where through some ups and downs, she finds and grows those wings.

In Europe, Claire learns forgiveness, healing and most of all, how strong she truly is. Her journey is not an easy one, it is full of pain, heartache and stubbornness but it is her journey of growth and healing. She becomes a stronger woman through the bonds that she forms.

I really enjoyed this book, although it did feel fast paced. Claire goes through so much in this novel and while so many of this could have broken her – she forces herself to push forward and deal with each moment. She grows from a woman who let people walk all over her, to someone who is ready to embrace her future and change. The bonus? All of the amazing art history details throughout this novel (I love my art!). I truly enjoyed every moment of this book about growth.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Mascot, BN, Amazon and Bookshop.org

Rating: 4/5

About the Author

Zoe Disigny holds a master’s degree in art history and has taught at the college level throughout her career. She has led numerous art tours in Europe and established a business in Paris offering art history adventures for American tourists. 

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

The Giveaway!

Enter THE ART OF TRAVELING STRANGERS Book Tour Giveaway for a chance to win an autographed copy of The Art of Traveling Strangers, 2 signed postcards designed by the author depicting locations from the book, and a pair of earrings and matching brooch from Ancient Artisans. 

Enter here.

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 Unofficial Hogwarts Cookbook For Kids

Create magical recipes in the kitchen with the whole family using recipes from The Unofficial Hogwarts Cookbook for Kids.

About The Unofficial Hogwarts Cookbook for Kids

Calling all Harry Potter fans! It’s time to whip up something spellbinding in the kitchen.

With 50 easy-to-follow recipes, you and your kids will learn to cook all of the best wizarding world favorites. From breakfast all the way to dessert, this book makes any meal or snack extra special, with recipes like: 

  • Pumpkin Pasties
  • Cauldron Cakes
  • Muggle-Style Pizza 
  • Chocolate Frogs
  • Great Hall Sandwiches 
  • And many more!

Perfect for young fans of Harry Potter, The Unofficial Hogwarts Cookbook for Kids will have aspiring witches and wizards brewing potions, baking stellar treats, and cooking creative dishes in no time. With easy step-by-step instructions and spellbinding full-color photographs, this cookbook is sure to become a kitchen favorite.

Our Thoughts

I am a huge Harry Potter fan and love all things magical. While the cookbook is not associated with or authorized by JK Rowling, her publishers or Warner Brothers, it celebrates all things magical that we have come to love about this series.

I loved how the cookbook incorporates healthy eating while still presenting them in a fun, magical and spellbinding way. It is very important that young wizards look after their health and eat a balanced diet. The cookbook is divided into: breakfast, snacks and small treats, lunch, dinner, dessert and drinks. Alana takes the best of both British and American favourites to bring you fifty recipes that are sure to be a hit even with the most pickiest eaters, there is something for everyone in this book.

Some of my favourites from the book included Bath Buns, Witch Hat Quesadillas, Bubble and Squeak and Fizzy Whizbees. There were also quite a few that you will recognize right off the bat – chicken pot pie, mashed potatoes and gravy, chicken fingers and sheet pan pizza. I loved the variety of recipes – from the easy to a bit more complicated. It allows you to have a bit more freedom in the kitchen especially with the little ones so that they can gain confidence with the first few recipes and are able to build on this foundation. The recipes themselves are easy to follow with very clear instructions that are geared to both young and older cooks. The accompanying photographs of the final products were delicious looking and were actually what we looked at first when we were deciding on what to try making first.

The Unofficial Hogwarts Cookbook for Kids will be a huge hit this Halloween season (and all year round because lets face it, who doesn’t love a little bit of magic at home?!).

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Alana Al-Hatlani is a baker by morning and food writer by night. Her writing has appeared in SaveurEater, the Seattle Times, the Seattle Weekly, and the Independent. She is a cake stand collector, a very competitive bowler, and Great British Bake-Off zealot. She started baking as soon as she could reach the counter on a step stool and hasn’t left the kitchen since. 

Alana holds a BA in journalism from New York University and a pastry degree from the Seattle Culinary Academy. She lives in Seattle, where she can be found baking flaky biscuits and towering layer cakes as a pastry chef. To see more of her baking or writing, visit http://www.alanaalhatlani.com

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

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A Reckless Match Book Review

A Reckless Match is the first in a new regency romance series by Kate Bateman about two feuding families, and reunited childhood enemies whose hatred turns to love.

About A Reckless Match

Madeline Montgomery grew up despising––and secretly loving––the roguish Gryffud “Gryff” Davies. Their families have been bitter rivals for hundreds of years, but even if her feelings once crossed the line between love and hate, she’s certain Gryff never felt the same. Now, she’s too busy saving her family from ruin to think about Gryff and the other “devilish” Davies siblings. Since he’s off being scandalous in London, it’s not like she’ll ever see him again.

As the new Earl of Powys, Gryff Davies planned on spending his post-war life enjoying the pleasures of London. But when an illegal duel forces him to retreat to his family’s Welsh castle, he realizes the only exciting thing in the dull countryside will be seeing the fiery Maddie Montgomery. Thoughts of his nemesis sustained Gryff throughout the war; but the girl he loved to tease has grown into a gorgeous, headstrong woman – who loathes him just as much as she ever did. Will secret tunnels, dangerous smugglers, and meddling from their feuding families be enough to make Maddie and Gryff realize that their animosity is really attraction…and maybe even love?

A Reckless Match is the first in a new regency romance series by Kate Bateman about two feuding families, and reunited childhood enemies whose hatred turns to love.

My Thoughts

In A Reckless Match, we have a young man and woman from two feuding families – sworn to hate each other but both whom are very much attracted to each other and trying to hide these feelings.

Madeline will do everything she can to save her family, she is strong, smart and will not give up. I loved her character and her strength and determination. She is not your typical female character from this type period, not feeling any urgency to marry nor to conform to societal norms. She is a beautiful, free spirit that will not let others tell her what to do. That was until she learned of her father’s debt and the impact this could have on her life – now she must make some serious decisions to ensure not only her security but her family as well. Enter what sounds like her childhood crush (also her sworn family enemy) and we have instant chemistry.

Together the duo stumble upon secret tunnels, a smuggling business hidden right under their feet and the start of them both acknowledging their feelings for each other. I loved both the seriousness of the situation and the flirty romance that begins between the pair. You can feel the spark between the two of them and how well they would fit together but will it work? Can they move past their family history? And can they overcome what is happening underneath their lands in order to have some sort of future together? The path that the two of them embark upon is full of ups and downs but it is perfect for their story. I loved every moment of this fun romance.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the Author

Kate Bateman, (also writing as K. C. Bateman), is the #1 bestselling author of historical romances, including her RITA® nominated Renaissance romp, The Devil To Pay, the Bow Street Bachelors series This Earl of MineTo Catch an Earl, and The Princess and the Rogue, along with the novels in the Secrets & Spies series To Steal a HeartA Raven’s Heart, and A Counterfeit Heart. When not writing novels that feature feisty, intelligent heroines and sexy, snarky heroes you want to both strangle and kiss, Kate works as a fine art appraiser and on-screen antiques expert for several popular TV shows in the UK. She splits her time between Illinois and her native England. Follow her on Twitter to learn 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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Culture Ignited: 5 Disciplines for Adaptive Leadership

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In Culture Ignited: 5 Disciplines for Adaptive Leadership, culture change strategist Jason Richmond and coauthors Jeanne Kerr and Malcolm J. Nicholl reveal how companies whose leaders ignite their culture are able to weather any storm and get ahead of the competition.

About Culture Ignited: 5 Disciplines for Adaptive Leadership

Corporate leaders need to be prepared for any crisis and have a plan in place to act quickly, decisively, and empathetically. In Culture Ignited: 5 Disciplines for Adaptive Leadership, culture change strategist Jason Richmond and coauthors Jeanne Kerr and Malcolm J. Nicholl reveal how companies whose leaders ignite their culture are able to weather any storm and get ahead of the competition.

Based on hands-on experience helping senior corporate executives navigate the turbulence of the 2020-2021 pandemic, the authors distill their findings into five key disciplines.

They share how to:

  • Inspire and communicate a shared purpose
  • Build trust and authenticity
  • Hone your performance management skills
  • Develop your talent
  • Create belonging through diversity and inclusion.

The authors also explore how a crisis can be turned into opportunity and how to lead an organization in overcoming challenges never taught in business school.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon, B&N and Kobo.

About the Authors

Jason Richmond is an authoritative culture change strategist whose work over the past twenty-plus years has helped companies build strong, sustained revenue growth by empowering their employees and developing energizing office cultures. As President/CEO and Chief Culture Officer for Ideal Outcomes, Inc., he has worked closely with established Fortune 100 companies to create Leadership Development Journeys, and he has guided numerous start-ups on the path to become noted industry leaders. He has also provided thought leadership and innovative consulting services to a wide range of midsize companies.

Jeanne Kerr is the Director of Organizational Development and Culture Consulting for Ideal Outcomes, Inc. She also has been a Senior Faculty Partner with the Human Capital Institute since 2012. With over twenty years of organizational development and talent management strategy in a variety of industries, her expertise includes culture strategy, strategic workforce planning, leadership development, team building, and assessment solutions.

Malcolm J. Nicholl is a former award-winning international journalist whose career includes a two-year stint as Belfast Bureau Chief for London’s Daily Mirror. He has authored or coauthored seven books published in nine languages by international giants such as Random House, Bantam Doubleday Dell, Ballantine Books, and St. Martin’s Press and ghostwritten more than thirty books.

Connect with the authors on their website and Twitter.

The Giveaway

Enter to win a signed copy here.

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

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The Son of the House Book Review

In The Son of the House, the lives of two Nigerian women divided by class and social inequality intersect when they’re kidnapped, held captive, and forced to await their fate together.

About The Son of the House

In the Nigerian city of Enugu, young Nwabulu, a housemaid since the age of ten, dreams of becoming a typist as she endures her employers’ endless chores. She is tall and beautiful and in love with a rich man’s son.

Educated and privileged, Julie is a modern woman. Living on her own, she is happy to collect the gold jewellery lovestruck Eugene brings her, but has no intention of becoming his second wife.

When a kidnapping forces Nwabulu and Julie into a dank room years later, the two women relate the stories of their lives as they await their fate.

Pulsing with vitality and intense human drama, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s debut is set against four decades of vibrant Nigeria, celebrating the resilience of women as they navigate and transform what still remains a man’s world. 

My Thoughts

In The Son of the House, two women who are from two classes and social walks of life are brought together by a kidnapping and as the story unravels we learn just how connected these two women really are.

The story starts in the present with the kidnapping but we are soon brought back to the beginning of their personal stories and learn the personal stories of each of the women. Reading their journey left me in awe – their stories are powerful and moving. Each journey, while different, has similar elements. The women have struggled, suffered, and despite it all keep moving forward, day by day.

Nwabulu is a bright woman, who was full of promise – she was smart, hard working and determined. She balances her role as housemaid, caregiver for her young charge with her studies. Her downfall? A young, rich man who promised her the world but left and denied her when she needed him the most. While her dreams begin to unravel, she remains her dignity, strength and courage. I was in awe of her strength and determination, despite the way she was treated by those who should have protected her.

Julie, in so many ways is the opposite – a young modern woman living on her own and infatuated with a married man. She is independent and does not want to settle down and get married. All of this changes when she loses several people close to her. She sets herself down a very dangerous path of lies in the pursuit of happiness and honouring her family.

I loved every moment of this novel – learning about the history of both women, the path their lives took, their resilience and how their lives were connected. I have to admit, I did not see the twist coming at all! But it fit perfectly in the novel. The story is full of hope, forgiveness, pain and the impact of family and cultural beliefs can have on our journey. The Son of the House is a must read novel for both young adults and adults – you will not want to put this one down.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is a lawyer, academic, and writer. She holds a doctorate in law from Dalhousie University and works in the areas of health, gender, and violence against women and children. Cheluchi divides her time between Lagos and Halifax.

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

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