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Christmas with Snowman Paul

Christmas with Snowman Paul by [Lapid, Yossi]

All Paul wants is to enjoy Christmas with his friend. He watches from the window as his friend eats and plays and sings with his family all winter long. Paul is a snowman, so he can’t go inside, or he will melt. This doesn’t stop him from longing for the companionship of others though. Paul’s friend takes his unhappiness seriously and with the help of his family, they work to come up with a plan to help Paul out.

Yossi Lapid has written an endearing children’s book and Joanna Pasek’s illustrations bring the story to life in a way that will capture the hearts of kids young and old. Christmas with Snowman Paul takes the idea of a snowman coming to life and gives it a different twist from the traditional stories we are used to. While Paul he can play with the kids and family outside in the day, it is not enough for him. He feels lonely and left out. Paul’s friend acts right away to do something to make him feel included. This is a great lesson for kids of all ages. It teaches about people being different, having different needs, and being compassionate. Such a simple story with many great life lessons on how to be a good person.

This would be a great book to kick off the winter season, while it focuses on Christmas it is a good book that could apply to any of the winter holidays.

Pages: 26 | ASIN: B076BX4KNQ

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Inspired by my Love of Art and Music

Mallory O'Connor Author Interview

Mallory O’Connor Author Interview

American River: Tributaries follows three immigrant families struggling to pursue their dreams during the turbulent 1960’s. What served as your inspiration while writing this book?

My love of Northern California, the place where I grew up, and the wonderful history of the area. I was also inspired by my love of art and music and my passion for social justice issues.  Immigration and ethnic diversity are the cornerstones of the story.

This book has so many fascinating characters that are well developed. What were some themes you wanted to capture in your characters?

Basically, the story focuses on the creative search for meaning, knowledge, compassion and understanding in a tumultuous world filled with prejudice, obstacles, jealousy, and betrayal. As my characters encounter these obstacles, they discover their own strengths and weaknesses and grow beyond their self-centered ambitions.

I thoroughly enjoyed the historical backdrop to the story and how well researched it was. What historical milestones were important for you to highlight in this book?

The Gold Rush had a tremendous impact on the population and culture of California. Before the Gold Rush, the population consisted mainly of Native Californians and Californios (settlers and landowners of mixed Spanish, Native Californian, and African descent). But gold fever brought people to California from all over the country and the world. The Anglo Americans (of English, Irish, or Scots descent), other Europeans (including Italians, Russians, Greeks and East Europeans), Chinese, Japanese, African Americans, and many more who came and stayed. This changed the makeup of the state’s population making it one of the most ethnically diverse in the country. So, this cultural diversity sets the scene for later entanglements.

 Most of the story takes place in the 1960s, that decade that Time Magazine recently termed “The decade that changed a generation.” So, I take the reader down memory lane as my characters encounter the major issues of the time: immigration, racial prejudice, migrant workers, gay rights, women’s rights and the Vietnam War.

This is book one in the American River Trilogy. What can readers expect in book two, American River: Currents?

In Book Two, American River: Currents, a cavalcade of disasters—both personal and public—threatens to overwhelm the scattered members of the McPhalan, Ashida, and Morales clans. Alliances fray, relationships dissolve, divisive secrets are revealed, and promises are broken as the members of three California families struggle to salvage their shattered dreams.  The story follows the character’s journeys to places as distant as Cleveland, Ohio, Venice, Italy, and Kyoto, Japan. From the concert halls of Europe to the artist’s lofts of Manhattan, American River: Currents is filled with passionate and resolute characters who refuse to let go of their unique visions of success—even as life’s tumultuous currents threaten to sweep them all away.

Author Links: GoodReadsFacebookWebsite

American River: Tributaries: Book One of the American River Trilogy by [O’Connor, Mallory M.]In the mid-1800s, three immigrant familiesIrish, Japanese, and Mexicansettle along the American River in Northern California. A century later, only one family remains.

Owen McPhalans Mockingbird Valley Ranch is still a thriving family business in 1959. But when his wife, Marian, leaves Mockingbird to follow her dream of becoming a successful artist, she ignites a firestorm that impacts the descendants of all three families. As artists, musicians, writers, and politicians inherit their immigrant parents hopes, they are torn apart by ambition, prejudice, and deception while struggling through the turbulent 1960s. From the concert halls of Europe to Kyotos ancient avenues, and Manhattans artists lofts to San Franciscos North Beach, they each learn the price they must pay in order to realize their dreams. But just as the river is drawn to the sea, they eventually find themselves pulled back to the place that forged the original link between their destiniesa place called Mockingbird.

American River: Tributaries follows three California families as the descendants of Irish, Japanese, and Mexican immigrants embark on unique journeys to pursue their dreams amid an unsettled 1960s world.

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Poisoned Touch

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This collection of poetry will cause readers to relive their youths. Poisoned Touch by Monica V. McCormick is full of angst and youthful recollections of a time gone past. The graphics help portray the words of the poetry in a visual sense and add a delightful element to this collection. Poisoned Touch focuses on romantic ventures gone past and are broken into sections that relate the age of the author when she wrote the work. Beginning at the age of eighteen and carrying on until the age of twenty-two, readers will get an intimate view of McCormick’s adolescence within these pages.

Youth is a difficult passage we all must go through to reach adulthood. The path is treacherous as we try to navigate the world without the constant support of those who want the best for us. It’s not that their support isn’t offered, it’s that we are trying desperately to show that we can handle our own lives and make our own decisions. This message comes across in some of the pieces of this collection. The readers will be able to identify with the youth who is trying to discover herself and who is trying to understand what love is. Written as a helpful reminiscence on her youth, this collection attempts to provide support to those who may be struggling with the same difficulties. As long as you are over eighteen.

While the imagery of the poems are consistent with the idea that love is a poison, present in both words and graphics, this collection of poetry is raw and unrefined. There is no doubt that the poetry can evoke powerful feelings and shares a dark tale, but the meaningful pieces drip with angst and teenage folly. The constant changing type-face also posed a problem for me and was distracting.

The rhyming scheme found in most of the pieces paired with the cartoonish, yet very high quality, drawings make this collection reflective of high school nostalgia. There are several individual pieces in this collection that I found to be moving and raw.

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The Greatest Gift

Diane Hull Author Interview

Diane Hull Author Interview

Be Happy to Be You is a cute children’s story about being happy with who you are. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?

Children are the inspiration for my stories; the children I have taught and my three grandchildren. Joe (6 years), Harry (4 years) and George (10 months). Children are individuals and they are all different with their own characteristics and strengths. I strongly believe that they should be happy to be themselves.

The art in this book is well done and very cute. What was the art direction and collaboration like between you and Jan Dolby?

Having submitted my book to MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing, I was introduced to Jan Dolby as a possible illustrator for my work. I was delighted with her drawings; her pictures were a perfect match for my story and her designs for my Baby bird were exactly as I imagined them. I hope that she and I will continue to work together on future Baby bird books.

This story did an exceptional job of driving home the idea of being happy with yourself. Why was this an important book for you to write?

As an Early Years teacher, I understand how important it is that young children are instilled with a sense of their own worth. A positive sense of self is, in my opinion, the greatest gift we can give any child. They need to be proud of their own unique achievements and embrace their strengths. This message is at the heart of my book. Using picture books, we can provide children with strategies to cope with possible problems they may face and offer them opportunities to discuss their feelings with a trusted adult.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My second book, “On Our Way to School,” is due to be published later this year by MacLaren-Cochrane. This is the story of Joe’s journey to school with his mother. Unfortunately for Joe, he forgets things that he will need for the day; his bag, his book, his coat etc. Each time he realises that he has forgotten something, he has to return to his house and set off for school again.

I have recently completed a second book featuring Baby bird, “The Lonely Bird”. In this story, Baby bird is lonely and he sets out to find a friend. Baby bird is unsuccessful it seems…. or is he? I have written quite a few stories but these have not yet been submitted for publication.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Baby bird wasn’t happy.
He longed to be like other animals.
He wanted to swim and run and jump.
But he had to learn to be happy as he was…
He had to learn just to be himself!

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My Tattered Flag

A poem by Jeffrey Cooper.

Be Happy To Be You

The title of the book itself is encouraging enough for one to start reading. Be Happy To Be You takes a simple idea and drives it home with a lovable character, cute art, and an entertaining story.

The art in this book is beautiful. The images are appealing and match the tone of the story. The very first sentence in the book reads “Baby bird wanted to swim. He looked at the fish in the river.” “I wish I could swim in the river like the fish,” says the bird. “You can fly high in the sky,” replies the bird’s mother. This is a good example of the message this story carries throughout the book. Even with everything the bird wishes for, he is always reminded of the things that he does have.

Reading on, one can conclude that the bird feels inadequate with the things he has. Just like humans, the bird wishes for more. The bird’s mother plays a big role in making the bird understand that he can’t have everything he wants. I think kids will be able to make the connection with the animals on the page and easily see the parallels in their own life.

The bird keeps wishing for more throughout the book. He sees the horses and wants to run around the field like they do. He sees the frogs on the lily pad and wants to jump like the reptiles. In every situation though, mother bird shows how caring she is and reminds the bird of the things he can do, that other animals can’t.

Like most guardians, mother bird was always concerned with the bird and tried to make him feel better any time he felt low. A loving and caring mother is what every offspring wishes to have. I appreciate the author’s use of animal characters to bring out habits that are often seen in people. I think this is an important lesson that children of any age should learn.

Be Happy To Be You is not only entertaining, but also informative. The coloring and stunning drawings make the book both entertaining and fun to read. The images of the frogs were my absolute favorite. I wish I could put them in a frame. Every young person who struggles with not being satisfied with what they have will find this book educational.

Pages: 32 | ASIN: 1387596985

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The Day That A Ran Away

The Day That A Ran Away by [Fegan, B.C.R.]The Day that A Ran Away is an adorably witty story about the letters of the alphabet just deciding not to report for duty one day. Master Jet is trying to write the alphabet and he just can’t do it with all the letters on holiday. Each letter has either decided not to show up or has had something that prevented it from showing up. Understandably, it’s hard to write the alphabet without even one of the letters. Master Jet may think he is fooling his teacher, but Mrs. May is way too smart to fall for his creative tricks.

My kids are much older now, but they would have loved this book when they were little. The writing is catchy and flows well for reading aloud. The rhymes are cute. The colors are bright and eye-catching. This was especially always a hit with my own children. The illustrations are beautiful. It is very visually pleasing. It is also funny. It made me laugh a couple of times. I actually think it would be fun to read aloud. Any parent who has had to read the same book one hundred times can tell you how important it is to have a story that flows well verbally.

My favorite part of the book is the beautiful illustrations. They are by Lenny Wen. As with most children’s books, the illustrations are a huge part of whether the book is a hit or not. Since most kids are being read to at this stage, the illustrations have to really appeal to them. A nice touch was adding a few “hidden” images within each letter’s page—having the kids match the letter with the object. My kids would have loved trying to find these little gems. Overall, the artwork is beautifully done.

Together B.C.R. Fegan and Lenny Wen have created a catchy, appealing story for little kids and their parents. I really enjoyed it. I believe kids and parents everywhere would enjoy it as well.

Pages: 33 | ASIN: B07DMN4VVP

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Who the Heroes and Villains Truly Are….

J.I. Rogers Author Interview

J.I. Rogers Author Interview

The Korpes File follows a technician born into the underclass of his world when he is marked by the ruling class as a threat due to his genetic make-up and is forced to fight back. What was the inspiration for the idea at the core of this exciting novel?

This is a complicated question to answer because the inspiration came in stages over the course of thirty years.

I was an artist long before I became an author. Concepts for the world of Tamyrh started showing up in illustrations while I was still in high school in the early-80s.

In 2012, a friend approached me to brainstorm on a game he was designing. I suggested that he let me do some world-building for him, and I wrote two pieces of flash fiction to go with the maps I’d designed. The game was shelved (unfortunately), and my work was returned to me, but that burst of writing led me to dig Tamyrh out of my portfolio case and look at it again. That was it; my objective became “write something that I would want to read,” and books one through five were plotted by the following summer.

Dystopian themes in science fiction are popular, and I wanted to create something that depicted both the protagonists and antagonists as living in the shadows and light between good and evil. To have a worthy, three-dimensional hero, you must have an equally worthy, three-dimensional adversary. Each one has to have reasons behind what they do, and regardless of how they start out they each have to have the potential to redeem or to condemn themselves. Thus, my series is about life, people, flawed, challenged, and hopefully tangible enough to touch. Ultimately, the reader’s sympathies will decide who the heroes and villains truly are….

Nash Korpes is an interesting character that, I felt, continued to develop as the story progressed. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing his character?

First, thank you for the compliment. If I’m going to be honest, I didn’t start off with a theme for Nash apart from the fact that he was taken from his family in the Diaspora at an early age, and that he was isolated because of his ‘gifts’ and heritage. I wrote a few short scenes of interaction and dialogue and then let his personality emerge organically as the plot points presented themselves. I’m still learning things about him. At heart, he’s a good man, he tries his best, but like everyone, he falls down, gets dirty, and can make terrible decisions that have lasting ramifications. By the end of book one, I felt he was a non-angsty, relatable protagonist for everyone who’s ever felt like they were on the outside looking in due to their ethnicity, a disability, or their socio-economic background.

This book is a gritty thriller and action-packed adventure to the very end. What were some sources of inspiration for the detailed world in this book?

I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled widely and lived abroad in my early years, and those experiences can’t help but factor into my world’s design unconsciously.

As I mentioned earlier, I consciously began world-building Tamyrh back in high school; I’m an artist, so creating maps, designing the aliens, and doing concept art was fun. The toxic jungle, “The Seep”, as well as the ancient history of Tamyrh were invented then, but, I didn’t officially begin adding in the hard-science behind my world until 2012. Since then, I’ve been compiling research to give my world a sense of dimension and reality.

Now, I have an entire Pinterest account dedicated to ‘novel inspirations’ – it includes flora, fauna, visuals for the racial groups, cluster city concepts, diaspora inspiration, articles on real-world developments in science and physics, and cutting-edge technological advancements. They do say that a picture is worth a thousand words.
On an associated note, I’m planning to release a limited edition character sketchbook in 2020 – Patreon funded. A bestiary and world atlas are also in the works.

This is book one in the 942 Series, when will book two be available and where will the story pick up in that book?

I’m finishing up book two right now, and I plan to release it in December. The story picks up with Nash and Davis, roughly two months after the end of book one. A collection of short stories from the series will be published in October.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsitePinterest

For those that love classic “Star Trek” and modern “Battlestar Galactica”, “The Korpes File” taps a fresh vein of science fiction gold.

“As if being born Diasporan wasn’t enough, Technician Nash Korpeshas the bad luck to match his Tyran ancestors in form and manner. Thesetraits, though highly prized by the special projects division at Korlune Military Research and Development, mark him as a specter from theirwarlike past. With only his intellect to save his sanity, he wages aprivate war against the entire socioeconomic status quo and uncovers anemesis that threatens them all.”

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Laburnum Lanes

Laburnum Lanes by [Shantha]

Laburnum Lanes is a small collection of beautiful poems by Shantha. The poems mainly contain nature themes, such as birds and marigolds, with birds as illustrations. Some of the poems have continuances. For instance, a poem may continue into another poem, telling a short little story within those small series of poems, while all of them tie together pleasantly. The book is serene with its descriptions of nature and the beauty of it. The poem book is also incredibly cultural. It makes references to Indian culture and the author provides footnotes to define the specific aspects.

I enjoyed this collection of poems. While it is a short read, it is a beautiful one. Many of the lines of many of the poems resonated with me or touched me in a profoundly deep way. A lot of the lines paint detailed exquisite visuals. For example, “Strawberry Filled Path” elicits visions of strawberries on the ground as well as gives the visual of someone holding strawberries. You can even get the smell and the feel of sunshine from it. Shantha’s words jump from the page and really make you feel like you are in the scene they paint. Similarly, “A Large Palm” does the same as “Strawberry Filled Path.” The reader sees the flashes of imagery. Many of Shantha’s words are paintings that have come to life, with being able to see, smell, and even feel the some of the descriptions. It takes talent to be able to construct strong sensory responses. Even the title of the poem book evokes imagery of the trees.

Poems like “Togetherness” also have great lines in them, like “marigolds come from heavens/They are not born of the womb.” It has such powerful phrasing. Then there is something like “Meditation” that resonates with me because it illustrates parts of life so well. Many of these poems are like this poem in that way, where it is relatable because it reflects life.

I have so many poems bookmarked because they either resonated with me in some deep, profound way, they were relatable, I enjoyed the imagery, or I loved the phrasing. I am a huge fan of poetry because it can be done so well and conjure up different feelings and can even be an outlet for feelings. I think Shantha was able to do this magnificently with their poems, tap into universal feelings while also giving readers a taste of Indian culture. It definitely made me want to look into Indian culture more and be more educated about it.

I think good poetry makes you feel something, but great poetry leaves this feeling of change within you. It gives you new knowledge, new perspectives, and the hunger for more of it all. That is what Shantha’s poetry did with me. It was interesting and beautiful. I highly recommend this book of poems to anyone who is a fan of poetry or even just pretty words and phrases.

Pages: 130 | ASIN: B07DLZPCXL

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Jagdlied: A Chamber Novel for Narrator, Musicians, Pantomimists, Dancers & Culinary Artists

The very fabric of her being is coming undone. She has always lived such a sheltered life, she is not ready for the massive shift that is about to take place in her life. The socialite is heiress to a fortune earned through investments and work at a multinational. She is faced with all sorts of questions about life and even touches on the possibility of a world without art. This princess will learn a few things the hard way. She will be bruised and knocked around a few times, but such is life.

The author has skillfully crafted a tale of sour love, questionable characters, jealousy and revenge. The story is told vividly and imaginatively. It is a thrilling literary ride through the protagonist’s experiences as a princess whose castle is falling apart by the brick. On one hand, you feel bad for her but on the other you would rather not bother. This quality leaves the reader so gloriously torn between the characters of the book. Not to mention glued to the pages as the story unfolds.

This story is told in an unusual tone. A tone that is quite indescribable but is quite fitting for the story and characters therein. The grammar is impeccable. The sentences are artfully crafted with relatively simple language. The reader will find themselves quite easily drawn into the story. The unusual tone and a touch of simplicity for the complex plot are welcoming and appealing. They beg the reader to read just one more page. To find out what happens next and then next. The term- page turner- was coined for this book.

The characters are well developed. Each has a quality that the reader will identify with. There is a certain intrinsic quality that just makes the characters quite lovely to dabble with. A certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ so to speak. This quality in the character development is consistent throughout the book, but makes it so hard when the book comes to an end. The trio really did a good job with this.

To the intrigued reader, beware, this book is quite a dirty sex crazed romp. Conservatives better brace themselves, keep a bible handy, and an open mind because you will hate how much you enjoy the erotic quality of this book. Rarely does a book possess so many winning qualities. Humor, drama, erotica, tragedy and much more. All delivered with expert craftsmanship and a generous dose of thrill. The erotica may be a little strong for some but if read with an open and relaxed mind, this is a very enjoyable and entertaining ride.

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