***INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY (6 Winners)*** Foam on the Crest of Waves {Silke Stein}

Thank you all so much for your sweet comments and messages from my last post.  I so appreciate all of you!  Xo!

I have a great book to review for you today and I HAVE 6 COPIES of it to give away!

Full disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book to read and review for my blog.  All opinions are my own.

Giveaway details will be given at the bottom of this post!

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In a small fishing town on the Mendocino coast, the tides of time have washed over rumors and suspicions, yet the members of a maimed family still struggle to cope with their memories.

A broken woman, refusing to let go of her vanished husband.
Her widowed brother, clinging to the shatters of the life he loved.
His delusional daughter, planning to turn mermaid on her fifteenth birthday.

But when a young man realizes he made a mistake, secrets start emerging from the deep. Will they bring further grief, or possibly redemption?

My Thoughts:

This is a lovely, beautiful, thought provoking book.

The book design itself is simply gorgeous. The cover, the chapter pages with their images, all of it.

At the very beginning of this book, I found myself googling the history and pictures of sea glass.  Fascinating!  I can only imagine the beauty of this beach with these little colorful bits of glass everywhere. Such a beautiful setting for such a beautifully complicated and intriguing story.

This book paints such a descriptive picture of this town and it’s residences.  The characters and stories were so interesting (especially Abalone’s) and I love how the characters were all connected to each other.

I’ve never read a story quite like this before.  The topics discussed are not ones I would usually gravitate to but I’m so glad that I allowed myself the opportunity.  This book is a wonderful example of why sometimes reading a book outside of your comfort zone is so important.  I believe that in doing this, you learn to become a deeper reader, broaden your literary understandings, and learn/appreciate new topics.

This book made me both smile and cry.  These characters were not easy to say good bye to and have stuck with me since I turned the last page.

This is such a beautiful book.

A Conversation with Silke Stein, in her Own Words:

How did you create the idea for your book?

The story ides was sparked by my obsession with sea glass. Early in 2014, I became a member of ‘SeaglassLovers’, a Facebook group comprised of people from all over the world who show each other their fabulous finds and daydream of being mermaids. There I learned about the place every sea glass aficionado has on her bucket list: Fort Bragg in Northern California ― home of the legendary ‘Glass Beach’, which became the enchanting setting of Foam On The Crest Of Waves.

What audience would be most interested in your book?

Anybody who loves the sea, mermaids, and a good dose of mystery.

Where can your book be purchased?

The ebook is available for Kindle. The paperback can be ordered from all major online retailers and in every brick-and-mortar book shop.

Use 3 adjectives to describe your book:

Poignant, captivating, beautiful

Any additional information that you would like to provide about you or your book:

More info: www.silkestein.jimdo.com

***GIVEAWAY DETAILS***

There will be 6 WINNERS!  I have 6 copies of Foam on the Crest of Waves to give away!! 
I have 1 hard copy and 5 e-books (A chance to win the hard copy is open to US readers only.  A chance to win one the 5 e-books are open to both US and International readers)! 

To be entered, please complete these 4 simple steps:

1. Follow and/or subscribe to my blog

2. Leave a comment below describing your favorite beach!

3. Mention in your comment if you are located within the US or if you are located internationally.

4. Mention in your comment if you would like to be entered to win the hard copy of this book, an electronic copy of this book, or either 🙂 

**You must complete ALL 4 of these steps to be eligible for the giveaway and you must complete them here on my blog (not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)**

Giveaway will close tomorrow (Thursday) at 4:00 pm CDT and the 6 winners will be randomly chosen and announced in Friday’s blog post (5/17/19).

Make sure you check the blog on Friday to see if you’ve won (you will have 48 hours from the time I post the winner to email me your mailing address.  If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, I will pick a new winner).

If you already follow and/or subscribe to my blog, you are still eligible…just leave a comment below to be entered 🙂

Good luck!  Can’t wait to read your comments!

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Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

***INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY*** Still Breathing {E.A. Fourier}

I am writing from the peace and quiet of my dining room.  I’m ALONE.  I haven’t been alone in a week and a half!  My daughter was on Spring Break and we had the best time.  We spent an entire day downtown, we watched movies, we ate ice cream, we got manicures, we did art projects, we shopped, we played outside, and so much more.  I’m EXHAUSTED but it was so worth it.  I now have a solid 2.5 hour chunk of time while both of my kids are in school and I can relish the sound of nothing except for Michael Buble’s voice from the Pandora station on my phone.  I even have a candle lit as I’m typing this!  Glorious.

In book news…I did somehow manage to read this entire book (full blog review and giveaway coming soon) over Spring Break.   I just started reading this book a few nights ago and I’m LOVING it!

I have a wonderful giveaway for you today!  Have you read this book?

Full disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book to read and review for my blog.  All opinions are my own.

Giveaway details will be given at the bottom of this post!

stillbreathing

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Newly widowed and on the threshold of seventy, Lizzie Warton questions the value of her remaining years. Uncharacteristically, she decides for the first time in her life to do what she wants, instead of what everyone expects.

Against the wishes of family and friends, she sets out for Africa to work at a Ugandan middle school. When she lands at night in the Entebbe airport, her hosts are not there to meet her. Near panic, she hires a local taxi. The driver drugs her, steals everything, and dumps her limp body in a slum. Waking in the dark, she feels someone tugging off her shoes.

Without money, a passport, clothes, or medications, Lizzie is forced to start over and find a way to survive.

Soon she learns that nothing in Africa is as it appears. The grind of daily life in the third-world is beyond anything Lizzie imagined. Nevertheless, encouraged by budding friendships in surprising places, and against every sensible instinct she’s ever developed, Lizzie’s own personal search for meaning becomes the grand adventure of a lifetime.

My Thoughts:

I’ve always been drawn to books which take place in different cultures. I find learning about other cultures and places fascinating and as soon as I read the synopsis of this book, I immediately knew that it was one I needed to read.

I found myself learning and researching a great deal while reading this book which is always such a bonus for me. I love when a book is so well written that it makes me want to learn more about the subject and/or place, and this book is a perfect example.

There were many different characters and storylines and all were interesting. I found myself being able to connect to many of these intriguing characters and truly became immersed into their lives.

My favorite parts of the book took place in Owino Market…what a fascinating place that must be! The descriptions of the market were so rich and colorful that I felt like I was there!

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with E.A. Fournier through social media and email quite a bit and he truly is such a kind person. Always such a bonus to learn that the person behind the words is as lovely as the words  are themselves.

I loved this wonderful book and the ending made me cry. Such a special story which begs for a sequel!

A Conversation with E.A. Fournier, in his own words:

How did you create the idea for your book?
 
I carried the beginnings of Lizzie’s story in my head for years. At one point, I wrote it out as the opening for a screenplay. An older woman sits alone at the bedside of her comatose husband. He comes conscious long enough to apologize for not sharing the major decisions in their life. It’s his biggest regret. He asks her to choose to do something, after he’s gone, that she’s always wanted to do. He slips back into the coma and a few days later he’s dead. I could never quite resolve what the wife would choose to do, so I put it aside.
 
Years later, I challenged myself to write women’s fiction. It seemed to me that the leads in most of that genre were young, smart and lovely. I wanted to feature someone significantly older: a woman with wide hips and grey hair, someone sensitive but not sappy, big-hearted but seasoned. I considered revisiting Lizzie’s story. Since I’m the wrong gender, I wondered if I could pull it off and make her character ring true. I decided I was willing to try. The question that remained was what Lizzie wanted to do. 
 
It turned out that the answer was right in front of me. My small church funded an orphan home in Kampala for street boys. The young founders were my friends. My son traveled there to teach art and make a film. His efforts not only helped the orphans, but won him a lovely Ugandan bride. It seemed clear to me that Lizzie had finally found her unlikely destination.  
 
What audience would be most interested in your book?
 
The special audience I had in mind when I first created Still Breathing was women over forty. At this point in their lives many of them question their own significance. I felt that this group would uniquely appreciate a determined main character like my 69-year-old Lizzie.
 
However, I’ve discovered that the power of the book’s characters reaches far outside my demographics. At one end, my granddaughter, a sophomore in high school, loved Lizzie and her journey. She posted a very perceptive review on Goodreads and promotes the novel to her YA friends. At the other end, my 70-year-old male acquaintance, John, begrudgingly agreed to give my book a chance. He only reads non-fiction. John called me a week later to say he’d finished. He would have called sooner, he admitted, but was crying so much that he didn’t know if he could talk on the phone. I reminded him that it was only fiction. He replied that it sure didn’t feel like fiction to him. 
 
So, the novel seems to be seeking out its own wider audience, despite what I think.
 
Where can your book be purchased?
 
The book’s available in digital, paperback or hardback from Amazon or Barnes & Noble
 
It’s also available in digital-only formats from Apple, Google Play, or Scribd
 
In addition, you can find it internationally at these sites: Thalia, bol.de, Angus & Robertson, or the Mandadori Store.
 
 
Use 3 adjectives to describe your book:
 
Fresh
Real
Hopeful
 
Any additional information that you would like to provide about you or your book:
 
Most of the situations and events in the story come directly out of my research and from interviews with former Ugandan street boys, teachers and house fathers. For example, the plight of boys on the street, the scarcity of copper, the way boarding schools work, the corruption of customs officials, the perils of marriage for women, the new method to send money from the U.S.—these all came out of the research. 
 
I peppered the book with accurate local language and flavored it with open markets, tribal clothes and native foods. Many of these elements came directly from my Ugandan daughter-in-law, Diana. Luganda, the language used in the book, is the main dialect spoken in Kampala. Fortunately, most Ugandans also speak English.
 
I tend to write by the seat of my pants and let my characters tell me what comes next, but I’m enough of a plot and outline guy to limit their scope. People don’t understand that there are times when characters talk back, or refuse to say lines, or do the opposite of what you ask. Really. It’s why I laugh when people say a writer’s life is lonely. No, it’s not! It’s stuffed with noisy imaginary people who interrupt each other, argue and laugh and cry, and are certain of their own opinions—just like people in the everyday world.

***GIVEAWAY DETAILS***

I have 1 autographed copy of to give away (the autographed copy will be mailed to you if you live in the US or you will receive an electronic copy if you are located internationally)! 

To be entered, please complete these 3 simple steps:

1. Follow and/or subscribe to my blog

2. Leave a comment below telling me one place in the world where you would love to visit.

3. Tell me in your comment if you are located within the US or if you are located internationally.

**You must complete ALL 3 of these steps to be eligible for the giveaway and you must complete them here on my blog (not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)**

Giveaway will close Sunday (4/7/19) morning at 6:00 CDT and the winner will be randomly chosen and announced in Monday’s blog post (4/8/19).

Make sure you check the blog on Monday to see if you’ve won (you will have 48 hours from the time I post the winner to email me your mailing address.  If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, I will pick a new winner).

If you already follow and/or subscribe to my blog, you are still eligible…just leave a comment below to be entered 🙂

Good luck!  Can’t wait to read your comments!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

**GIVEAWAY** The Cast {Amy Blumenfeld}

Full disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book to read and review for my blog.  All opinions are my own.

Giveaway details will be given at the bottom of this post!

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Twenty-five years ago, a group of ninth graders produced a Saturday Night Live-style videotape to cheer up their ailing friend. The show’s running time was only ninety minutes, but it had a lasting impact: Becca laughed her way through recovery, and the group—Jordana, Seth, Holly, and Lex—became her supporting cast for life.

On the silver anniversary of Becca Night Live, the friends reunite over the Fourth of July to celebrate Becca’s good health—but nothing goes as planned. The happy holiday card facades everyone’s been hiding behind quickly crumble and give way to an unforgettable three days filled with complex moral dilemmas and life-altering choices. Through humor, drama, and the alternating perspectives of five characters, The Cast explores the power of forgiveness, the importance of authenticity, and the immeasurable value of deep, enduring friendships to buoy us when life plays out differently than expected.

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

I really enjoyed this book. There were so many interesting storylines and characters.  The relationships that they had with each other combined with their individual stories made this such an interesting read.  Each story was equally interesting, I love when that happens because I usually don’t feel that way.  I want to see Becca Night Live!

I found myself running late for our NYE dinner because I HAD to finish this book before I could leave the house!  The ending totally sucked me in and there was no way I could finish off 2018 without knowing what was in store for Becca and her friends.  Speaking of endings, this book is just begging for a sequel…

This book explores that true depths of what it means to be a friend and to stay a friend over time.  I loved the comfort level that this group of friends had with each other even though for many of them, it had been years since they had been together.  That comfort level is so special and reminded me of my own group of friends from high school…we have it, too!

Bonus for local friends: parts of this book take place on the North Shore!  Reading those parts was such fun for me!

A Conversation with Amy Blumenfeld, in Her Own Words:

How did you create the idea for your book?

There were a few sources of inspiration for this book. The first was a videotape created by 10 families (40 people in total) comprised of my parents’ friends and their children. Like the video in The Cast, it was ninety minutes of complete silliness with the single goal of making me laugh while I was undergoing treatment for cancer as a child. This was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received and a model for the power of true friendship.

The second source of inspiration was the master’s project I wrote in graduate school about adult survivors of childhood cancer. I spent several months learning about the physical and psychological long-term effects of childhood cancer treatment and meeting and interviewing medical experts, survivors, and their loved ones. At graduation, my professor suggested I turn the project into a book. I suspect he meant non-fiction but somehow, all these years later, it turned into a novel.

The third source of inspiration were the conversations I had with my friends when we turned 40. We were all having these deep discussions about relationships, religion, parenting, where we were in our lives, where we thought we would be at this point, what we hoped to accomplish, etc… and I suddenly had an idea. Why not combine the important messages from the master’s project with the topics my friends and I were discussing and weave them all together into a novel that centered on the power of true friendship? I created a bunch of relatable characters and interesting story lines and decided to write the type of book I liked to read – thought-provoking, smart, and fun contemporary fiction. And, I used the videotape as the glue that bonded the group together. I had no formal experience writing fiction, but hoped that my passion for the characters and the issues I wanted to bring to light would propel me through the process.

What audience would be most interested in your book?

Book clubs, women or men looking for a fun and thought-provoking beach read, people who enjoys stories about lifelong friendships, readers interested in Jewish observance

Where can your book be purchased?

Anywhere books are sold!  Barnes & Noble, independent retailers.  Also, you can visit my website and click on direct links to retailers:  http://www.amyblumenfeld.com

Use 3 adjectives to describe your book:

Heartfelt, thought-provoking, moving

***GIVEAWAY DETAILS***

I have 1 autographed copy of The Cast to give away (US only for this giveaway)! 

To be entered, please complete these 2 simple steps:

1. Follow and/or subscribe to my blog

2. Leave a comment below describing your best friend!

**You must complete both of these steps to be eligible for the giveaway and you must complete them here on my blog (not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)**

Giveaway will end Friday morning at 6:00 CDT and the winner will be randomly chosen and announced in Friday morning’s blog post.

Make sure you check back on Friday to see if you’ve won (you will have 48 hours from the time I post the winner to email me your mailing address.  If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, I will pick a new winner).

If you already follow and/or subscribe to my blog, you are still eligible…just leave a comment below to be entered 🙂

Good luck!  Can’t wait to read your comments!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

Valentine Reflections, Facebook Giveaway, and a Book Review: Convenience Store Woman {Sayaka Murata}

Happy Friday, Friends!

I hope you all had a lovely Valentine’s Day!  Mine was spent at my daughter’s classroom party (so cute) during the day.  The kids did crafts, played games, ate yummy food, and had a blast.  I love being able to experience these fun days with her and her friends and I never take for granted that I am able to do so. 🙂

Last night, we couldn’t find a babysitter so Jon and my romantic dinner was turned into a family event, lol. My daughter and I were each handed a rose from the hostess as we walked into the restaurant (my daughter LOVED that and it made her feel so fancy). The only kids in the entire restaurant belonged to us and although I wouldn’t say that dinner was romantic (Jon and I don’t typically have rock, paper, scissors tournaments when we dine alone), I would say it was definitely fun. 🙂

Our kids received giant Hershey Kisses and poop emoji stuffed toys (clearly Jon was the parent who bought the childrens’ gifts for this holiday…???)

And I received a gift card for a 90 minute massage and all I could say when I opened the envelope was “YESSSSSSSSS”. Do you get massages?  I got my first one 2 years ago when Jon and I were in Cabo and I’ve never looked back.  Since returning home from our trip, I’ve enjoyed quite a few 🙂  THE.  BEST.  I’ve only had 60 minute massages, this 90 minute one will be such a treat!  Perfection.

I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday filled with lots of love…and books 🙂

Thank you to everyone who entered the Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach giveaway! Congratulations Julie and Claire F.!

Ladies, please email me at bookcoffeehappy@gmail.com with your mailing addresses and I’ll pass them along to the author to get your books sent out ASAP.

Facebook Giveaway:

Would you like another chance to win an autographed and dedicated copy of Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach? 

I have 2 MORE copies to give away…this time exclusively on Facebook! Head over there for your chance to enter, it will be up within minutes of me publishing this post. Good luck!

My First Vlog

I filmed a vlog with my review of Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming.  I had too many thoughts to type. 🙂 I’m hoping to get that video posted on Monday!  Make sure you check back…

And now, a book review! Oh do I have a great one for you today…

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers’ style of dress and speech patterns so she can play the part of a normal person. However, eighteen years later, at age 36, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends. She feels comfortable in her life but is aware that she is not living up to society’s expectations and causing her family to worry about her. When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store, he will upset Keiko’s contented stasis–but will it be for the better?

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

5 Stars

I’ve read so many book reviews on this one and it’s been on my radar for months.  I finally picked it up at the library this week and I’m so glad that I did!

I read this entire book over 2 days.  I haven’t done that in such a long time!  Full disclosure:  this book is TINY.  Like, itty bitty. Only 163 pages and the actual book itself is about 1/2 the length of a normal book…but being able to read ANY book over 2 days when you’re a mom is a total win in my book so I’m feeling great 🙂

This book sucked me in from page 1.  It’s a bit…different…but in a good way!  It’s been translated (It was originally written in Japanese).  I was a bit nervous because the last book that I read which had been translated CLEARLY lost something in translation and was absolutely awful. Not at all the case with this book, it was great!

In my opinion, the main character in this one clearly falls somewhere on the autism spectrum and reminded me of the main characters from this book and from this book.  The biggest difference between the 3 books is that I absolutely LOATHED the other 2 books and I absolutely LOVED this one!  Man, did I hate those other 2 books (you can read my review of one of them here).

The deeper message in this story is about society and living up to the expectations that others have set for you.  It’s an interesting and thought provoking read all around.  And QUICK!  You could truly sit and read this entire book in one sitting.

Bottom Line:  

This is a little, teeny tiny gem of a book!  And…if you read it, you will never look at a convenience store in the same way ever again (in a good way).

Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Have a great weekend!  Don’t forget to enter the giveaway on Facebook!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:45! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

***CHILDREN’S BOOK GIVEAWAY (2 Copies)*** Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach {Elizabeth Gerlach}

Full disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book to read and review for my blog.  All opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Giveaway details will be given at the bottom of this post!

As soon as I finished reading this book with my children, I sent Elizabeth Gerlach an email which contained only 1 sentence:

“This might just be one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.”

Description from Amazon:

Awarded 5-stars from both Reader’s Favorite and the award-winning “Read With Your Kids” podcast, as well as a Certified Great Read.

Meet young Benjamin who takes us on an inspiring & fun adventure to the beach in this first book in the Ben’s Adventures series. You’ll smile and be inspired as you follow Ben into his imagination and he shows us that all kids can play and dream.
 
In his first adventure, Ben imagines a perfect beach day where he builds sand castles, flies kites, plays with crabs and enjoys special moments with his family. Ben loves the sun on his face and the wind in his hair. He can dream, he can play, and he can interact and have meaningful experiences. Ben smiles, and you will too.

“Let’s build a sandcastle”, I say to my friend.
He says, “Sounds good.”
And we make our plan.
With one tower built,and two more to go.
I kick and laugh and then think “Oh No!”

A Great Book for Introducing Special Needs or Disability to Young Children Ben’s Adventures provides a simple and subtle way to introduce special needs and disability to your child. It can easily open the discussion for what disability means. Why does someone need a wheelchair? If someone’s in a wheelchair, can they still play with me? It will help young minds recognize and understand differences among us and ACCEPT those differences. And the main character Benjamin will reinforce the important take-away that just because someone might be different or need assistance, he/she is still a kid, can be a friend, and can enjoy kids’ play.

Teach Empathy, Inclusion and Acceptance from an Early Age Kids will have as many (if not more) similarities than they have noticeable differences.It’s our job as parents to talk about these issues with our kids. Understanding and accepting others throughout our lives is learned in childhood.

Ben is a young triplet brother that shows all kids can play & dream. Ben’s Adventures was inspired by the author’s son Benjamin who had cerebral palsy. Despite Ben’s challenges in life, he smiled everyday. It’s a wonderful message that is important for typical families AND those with special needs. And it provides a good introduction of disability for any family. In writing it, Gerlach wanted to show that all kids are capable and able to do great (or even simple) things.

My Thoughts:

I absolutely, positively love this book.  So much.

The story itself is beautiful, the pictures are adorable, and the discussion that it created between my 7 year old daughter and I after we finished reading was amazing.  We discussed differences in people and even though someone might not always be able to communicate in the same way that you do…they still have feelings, thoughts, and dreams.  It was an amazing and inspiring discussion and this book was a perfect catalyst to discuss such an important topic.

It would also be a wonderful book for a classroom!  The discussions and writing assignments that could follow would be endless.  If you have any teachers in your life, their classroom would greatly benefit from this book.

I love, love, love this special book.  In fact, it’s one of my favorite books that I’ve ever reviewed on my blog.

A Conversation with Elizabeth Gerlach, in Her Own Words:

Briefly give a description of your book:

Ben’s Adventures is about a young triplet brother who has cerebral palsy. He loves his family/friends, creating memories and taking adventures! He’s in a wheelchair but shows that ALL kids can play & dream and create meaningful connections and memories.

In this first book, Ben takes us to the beach where he plays with crabs, builds sandcastles and flies with kites.

How did you create the idea for your book?

It’s inspired by my triplet son Benjamin. Ben passed away from a serious illness in 2016 at almost 4 years old. Despite his/our challenges, he always had a smile on his face and laughed quite a bit. As a family, we loved to have different experiences and adventures and just spend time together. I wanted to show that even though a child might have additional needs, it doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy ‘kid things’ and have fun. And I wanted to represent disability in a children’s book by creating a main character who uses a wheelchair.

What audience would be most interested in your book?

Ben’s Adventures is probably most suited for Preschool through second grade. It’s a good message for any child/family (not just one with additional needs). I’ve been told it helps to introduce the concept of disability with kids that aren’t yet familiar. Families have been able to have meaningful conversations around the book.

Where can your book be purchased?

Signed/Dedicated copies are available on my website here: www.Bens-Adventures.com

But it’s also available on Amazon in both Hard Cover and Kindle format.

https://www.amazon.com/Bens-Adventures-Day-at-Beach/dp/173270340X/

Use 3 adjectives to describe your book:

Inspirational

Sweet

Touching

Any additional information that you would like to provide about you or your book:

Ben’s Adventures just received a 5-star review from Readers’ Favorite and has average 5 star review on Amazon.

As a family, to honor Benjamin, we established the Ben Smiles Memorial Foundation to purchase switch-adapted toys and other devices to kids with motor challenges. www.BenSmiles.org

***GIVEAWAY DETAILS***

I have 2 copies of Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach to give away (US only for this giveaway)! 
Winners will receive an autographed and dedicated copy of Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach

To be entered, please complete these 2 simple steps:

1. Follow and/or subscribe to my blog

2. Leave a comment below telling the first name of the person you would have the author write the dedication inside the cover to if you are chosen to win a copy

**You must complete both of these steps to be eligible for the giveaway and you must complete them here on my blog (not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)**

Giveaway will end Friday morning at 6:00 CDT and the winner will be randomly chosen and announced in Friday morning’s blog post.

Make sure you check back on Friday to see if you’ve won (you will have 48 hours from the time I post the winner to email me your mailing address.  If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, I will pick a new winner).

If you already follow and/or subscribe to my blog, you are still eligible…just leave a comment below to be entered 🙂

Good luck!  Can’t wait to read your comments!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

**GIVEAWAY (Open to US and International Readers)** Sympathetic People {Donna Baier Stein}

Full disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book to read and review for my blog.  All opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Giveaway details will be given at the bottom of this post!

One of the wonderfully unexpected perks to starting this blog has been the opportunities I have been granted to read books I otherwise wouldn’t have chosen on my own.

To be clear, there have been many books that authors have offered to send to me which I have denied.  I deny books that I genuinely don’t have a desire to read based on topic, genre, etc.  However, if a book sounds interesting to me AND one that I genuinely would want to read and review for all of you, I gladly accept!

When Donna Baier Stein contacted me and offered to send me a copy of her book, Sympathetic People, I admittingly was a bit hesitant.  I had never read a book of short stories before and wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it.

sympatheticpeople

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Both the beauty and frailty of human connections are seen in the thirteen stories collected in Sympathetic People. Here are women and men struggling to find love, meaning, happiness in marriage, adulterous affairs, art, meditation, and even the passage from life to death. Longing generated by loss is everywhere–in the death of a son, the end of a marriage, the slide from hope ignited by Neil Armstrong’s moon walk to hopelessness after President Kennedy’s death. In “Hindsight,” Jessie, a hippie in Lawrence, Kansas, opts for what she assumes is stability in a world of change, only to be brought up short years later when her life veers off its predicted path. “The Secrets of Snakes” reveals the early ruptures in a marriage and a wife’s futile attempts to stop them even as she tries to care for her son’s pet racer. In “The Jewel Box,” a grandmother promises to let her granddaughter know what Heaven is like after she passes and if, in fact, it looks like the Art Deco greenhouse built in St. Louis during the 1904 World’s Fair. And in “Versions,” a newlywed in Plano, Texas, entertains her sometimes angry husband’s first wife and realizes too late what she has given up in choosing him. “The Second Time the Bird Escapes” brings the collection full circle as a woman vies for attention with her husband’s new girlfriend and watches a peacock race across the yard to freedom, its dazzling tail open like an invitation. (less)

My Thoughts

I will be very honest…this turned out to be one of my favorite books that I read in 2018. I can’t believe that I was ever hesitant to read it!

This book has opened up a whole new world to me in terms of reading short stories!  My absolute least favorite aspect of any book is the amount of background the author needs to provide in order to “catch the reader up” to the present day story.  It is rare that I truly love a book before I am well into it.

Short stories aren’t like that!  Each one is just a few pages long and somehow (how???) Donna Baier Stein was able to tell the complete story within just a few pages.  I laughed, I cried, and I found myself completely wrapped up in the characters and stories from just the short amount of time I had with each one.

I read “The Jewel Box” (one of the short stories) while sitting in my car in Target’s parking lot and was sobbing so hard that mascara was EVERYWHERE when I was finally able to go inside.  Of course I ran into my daughter’s former preschool teacher and of course I had to explain my appearance.  That story was so incredibly beautifully written.  I cried all over again just telling her about it. 🙂

I read the entire book (13 short stories total) over the course of a few days.  Being that each story is so short, it was easy to to read an entire story in one sitting.

If you love short stories, you will love this book.  If you are like me and have never read short stories before, this is a perfect introduction.  Either way you will devour this book.

I had posted this on Instagram:

On a side note…the cover is stunning!  Clearly I just love everything about this book.  I’m so excited to be able to share it with you today!

I also had posted this on Instagram:

Beautiful book + Bath and Body Works holiday scented candle = perfection.

A Conversation with Donna Baier Stein, in Her Own Words:

How did you create the idea for your book?

Each of the stories was written individually, from various seed ideas. For instance, “The Yogi and the Peacock” was prompted by an ad I saw in a local newspaper; “The Second TIme the Bird Escaped” was prompted by the fact that a former neighbor did keep a peacock on his farm; and “Versions” (which was the first story I ever published in a literary journal) was prompted by a visit from my former husband’s ex-wife. Sounds complicated, I know 🙂 A few of the stories, though by no means all, started brewing in my head based on something that happened in my life. But then I fictionalized those events. Mostly, the seeds for the stories were emotions or thoughts I had that I wanted to further explore. That’s the great gift of writing, in my opinion – we get to figure out what we really think about things and see how complex our lives in this world are.

What audience would be most interested in your book?

I suppose the stories appeal primarily to women. Only one of the stories has a male protagonist. The issues touched upon – love, marriage, children, infidelity – may be universal but they certainly provide great fodder for book club discussions!

Where can your book be purchased?

The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and at many local indie bookstores. If your local store doesn’t carry it, please request it. It is distributed by Ingram. Readers may also email me directly at donna@donnabaierstein.com to request a signed copy.

Use 3 adjectives to describe your book:

Words used in blurbs for the book include “brilliant,” “edgy,” “graceful” – it’s easier for me to let others describe the book, in a way. If you want my own description, I’d say “realistic,” “thoughtful,” “candid.”

Any additional information that you would like to provide about you or your book:

Readers can see more about the book on my website here: https://donnabaierstein.com/books/sympathetic-people/. They are also invited to sign up for my free newsletter which announces upcoming readings, etc. I do have a new book coming out in Spring 2019, Scenes from the Heartland. And my historical novel, The Silver Baron’s Wife is continuing to garner good attention for which I’m grateful.

***GIVEAWAY DETAILS***

I have 1 copy of Sympathetic People to give away! 
Winner will receive an autographed copy of Sympathetic People (if located internationally, you will receive an e book). 

To be entered, please complete these 3 simple steps:

1. Follow and/or subscribe to my blog

2. Leave a comment below telling me if you already enjoy reading short stories or if this would be your first short story experience!

3. Be sure to also tell me in your comment if you are located internationally or in the US!

**You must complete all 3 of these steps to be eligible for the giveaway and you must complete them here on my blog (not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)**

Giveaway will end Friday morning at 6:00 CDT and the winner will be randomly chosen and announced in Friday morning’s blog post.

Make sure you check back on Friday to see if you’ve won (you will have 48 hours from the time I post the winner to email me your mailing address.  If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, I will pick a new winner).

If you already follow and/or subscribe to my blog, you are still eligible…just leave a comment below to be entered 🙂

Good luck!  Can’t wait to read your comments!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

**GIVEAWAY** (3 Copies, Open to International and US Readers) Oh My Stars {Sally Kilpatrick}

Happy Friday!

Today is my daughter’s last day of school before winter break.  I will be wearing my PTO President hat and helping with all of the classroom holiday parties!

There is nothing quite like being in a school on the last day before winter break…all of the excited energy in the air translates into very excited and happy children (and teachers)!  When I was a teacher, the last day before winter break was always one of my favorite days of the entire school year!  I’m so happy that I get to still be a part of this day by helping out at my daughter’s wonderful school.  She LOVES when I come in to help and so do I!  I am incredibly thankful that I often have the opportunity to do so. 🙂

I have such a fun and festive giveaway for you today!

This is the perfect time of year to read this holiday book. I love reading holiday books during the season in which they are occurring.  If you win a copy, I would suggest reading it right away or tucking it away to read during next year’s holiday season.  You will be glad that you did. 🙂

Synopsis from Amazon:

A heartwarming, hilarious Christmas story with a Southern twist.

Like most things in Ellery, Tennessee, this year’s Drive Thru Nativity is a little unconventional. The Dollar General parking lot doubles as a Bethlehem stable, and widowed writer Ivy Long, who’s been roped into playing Mary, sure as heck isn’t a virgin. But then comes an unexpected development: a genuine, real-life baby left in the manger, with only a brief note. And somehow, in the kerfuffle that follows, Ivy finds her life is about to change . . .

The holidays are a bittersweet time for Ivy—filled with memories of her beloved late husband and reminders that life doesn’t always offer the happily-ever-afters her readers expect. So when Ivy ends up with custody of the baby, she can only chalk it up to a Christmas miracle. She doesn’t know if it will be forever, but with help from family, she’ll make little Zuzu’s first Christmas a good one. The nativity’s Joseph, aka Gabe Ledbetter, has a pediatrics background that’s coming in mighty handy. In turn, Ivy is helping Gabe find his place in the quirky community. If that place turns out to be somewhere near Ivy, well, maybe this particular Christmas story will turn out to be merry and bright after all…

My Thoughts

Did you see my Instagram story a few weeks ago about this adorable book?  If not, here is what you missed:

Today is the day!

Being that I’m Jewish, it was fun for me to experience some parts of Christmas that I previously really didn’t know much about.  Icicles (tinsel) on the tree!  Nativity scenes!  I found myself Googling these terms to learn more.  Loved it!  So interesting to me.  Now when I drive by nativity scenes, I have an entirely new appreciation for them.

The characters in this story and the description of Ellery, Tennessee were so extremely colorful…I couldn’t help but thinking many times as I was reading what a fun movie this could be!  A perfect feel good holiday film.  Hallmark channel, perhaps?

I was especially interested in learning more about the complex relationship between Ivy and her family as well as the relationship between Gabe and his.  The great amount of history within both families and learning about how the pasts of these 2 people formed them into the people that they are today was quite interesting.

This book is adorable and such a quick, light read.  I laughed, I cried, I smiled all while reading.  You will, too!

A conversation with Sally Kilpatrick, in her own words:

How did you create the idea for your book?

My editor at the time, Peter, asked me if I would like to write a Christmas book, and I said yes because I love Christmas. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of featuring a drive-thru Nativity. I could see all of these people in the parts and a menagerie of odd animals, and then I could envision an abandoned baby and how caring for that child made the others really think about their lives in general and Christmas in particular.

What audience would be most interested in your book?

My audience seems to be predominantly women who like stories with a happy ending. Also, folks who like small town, southern stories tend to like my work–that’s where I pick up some of the guys. If you love Christmas movies, then I think you’ll love this book. It is full of references to other movies, stories, and Christmas traditions.

Where can your book be purchased?

Oh My Stars is actually in many Targets right now and Sam’s Club. It can also be ordered–either paperback or e version–from all of the major retailers. There are some signed copies at Foxtale Book Shoppe and Marietta book Exchange, too.

Use 3 adjectives to describe your book:

quirky, heartwarming, funny

Any additional information that you would like to provide about you or your book:

Oh My Stars is my 5th novel set in Ellery, Tennessee. If you enjoy it, please feel free to go back and enjoy some of my other small town southern stories. You can find me as @Superwritermom on Twitter or at sallykilpatrick.com.

***GIVEAWAY***

Would you like a chance to win a copy of this adorable story?

(For the record, I wrote how I would love to see this book become a Hallmark movie even before I received Sally’s response mentioning that if you love Christmas movies, you will love this book!  Just goes to show that if Christmas movies are your jam, this is a perfect book for you!)

I have THREE copies of Oh My Stars (An Ellery Novel) (affiliate) to give away!  THREE!

If located in the US, your autographed book will be mailed directly to you. If located internationally, an “e book” will be emailed directly to you!

  To be entered, please complete these 3 simple steps:

1. Follow and/or subscribe to my blog

2. Leave a comment below telling me only ONE word to describe the  holiday season

3. Be sure to also tell me in your comment if you are located internationally or in the US!

**You must complete all 3 of these steps to be eligible for the giveaway**

Giveaway will end on Monday morning a 6:00 CDT and the 3 winners will be randomly chosen and announced in Monday morning’s blog post.

Make sure you check back on Monday to see if you’ve won (you will have 48 hours from the time I post the winners to email me your mailing address.  If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, I will pick a new winner).

If you already follow and/or subscribe to my blog, you are still eligible…just leave a comment below to be entered 🙂

Good luck!  Can’t wait to read your comments!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo