Vicki

Nov 292021
 
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Book Details:

Keeping Christmas Magic by Anna and Gunnar Counselman
Category:  Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12), 38 pages
Genre: Children’s Book
Publisher: Mascot;  Release Date: August 2021
Tour dates: November 26 to December 6
Content Rating:  PG – It is a book about how to keep Christmas alive when your kids find out the truth about Santa.

Book Description:
   Shhhh, don’t tell! Keeping Christmas Magic reveals the true story of Santa Claus, asking you to become a Christmas Magic-Keeper.


​Buy the Book: Mascot  ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon ~  add to goodreads 

Anna and Gunnar Counselman
Interview #2

For a Christmas book, Is there a reason your book cover is so understated?
We don’t want kids interested in it. If a parent forgets to put it away, or accidentally puts it on the kids shelf, we want them to skip right over it. Kids book covers tend to be really colorful and bright. We wanted ours to look more like it belongs in a law library, or like it’s an old family heirloom.

Who Designed the Cover?
You know, it’s a funny story. We knew we wanted the cover to be something that kids wouldn’t be interested in, because it’s a secret. Our worst fear is that a child might read the book before they and their parents are ready. We imagined a leather-bound volume with understated and highly-stylized fonts that kids would struggle to read. But the only example we could find was the typical law library book and we knew that wasn’t right.
But then Gunnar swiped his dad’s copy of The Princess Bride to read to their son Tristan. It’s one of the family’s favorite books and movies and so Anna ordered grandpa another copy on Amazon – more of a coffee table book. And the copy that she found had the coolest cover. So, we designed the cover in homage to S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure.

The book includes a signature page for kids to sign. What is its purpose?
The first half of the book is a teaser for the story in the second half of the book. But to get the “real story of Santa”, kids have to sign a pledge to keep it a secret. In so doing, they become “Christmas Magic Keepers”, like a secret society that’s responsible for maintaining the magic of Christmas. We try to explain that the magic of Santa is “love”, that Santa so loved to see kids happy, that he spent his life making toys and bringing them joy. Parents took over when he got too old and frail to keep it up. We just love that idea that when you sign his name, and take a bite of the cookie, that a little part of Santa’s love has survived inside you. It’s been said that as long as a person is remembered, they never really die. Well somewhere in history, there was someone who made toys for kids and gave them out at the height of winter when kids probably needed joy the most. His legend survives today and we think it’s amazing to get to be a small part of it.

A portion of your book sales goes to charity. Can you elaborate?
Gunnar was an active-duty Marine from 1999-2003and comes from a long line of Marines stretching back to Dec 9, 1941. And since the Marine Corps has been running the Toys for Tots campaign for the last generation or two, we thought it would be a great organization to support. So, 1% of revenues go to Toys for Tots.

Having been married for a decade, did you learn anything interesting about each other through collaborating on the book?
Ha! Yes. We learned that Gunnar is great at getting to a pretty good solution to most problems quickly. But we also learned that Anna’s process is slower, and more deliberate and yields much better and more refined creative output. It’s a bit of a metaphor for our marriage. Gunnar gets to 80% quickly, then Anna noodles, takes her time, obsesses about the detail and brings us across the finish line.
We use this learning every day when we clean the kitchen…well most days anyways. Gunnar does the blitz clean and gets it to “fine”, then Anna does the final detail. It’s made our marriage stronger.

Thoughts
Do you remember how excited you felt at Christmastime when you were growing up? I sure do. My whole family got together to exchange gifts and have our Christmas dinner together.

When I was young, my brother in law (who was more like a brother since he married myoldest sister when I was only 4yrs. old) used to dress up like Santa Clause. When we’d hear the “Sleigh Bells” we’d peak out the window and see Santa walking outside and get so excited that we actually saw him. So yes, I believed in Santa for quite a few years.

When my friends or other kids would say that Santa wasn’t real I’d tell them that yes he was, I had seen him many times on Christmas Eve! I loved Christmas and still can feel the excitement in me today from all those great memories.

But, at some point as you’re getting older, you do start to realize that the presents under the tree are from your parents, while leaving them with the idea that there really is a Santa, but that he has now passed the gift giving on to your parents.

The illustrations in the book are cute, and they are very colorful. The cover is beautiful!

I think this is a great way to explain to kids who are starting to question whether there is a Santa or not!

Meet the Authors:

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​ Anna and Gunnar are the husband-and-wife team behind Keeping Christmas Magic. Anna immigrated from Russia at age 12 and began her American journey in Swampscott, MA, attending Boston University before moving out to California to pursue her entrepreneurial career which has culminated in her co-founding Upstart, an AI lending platform.
        A third-generation Marine, Gunnar grew up pretty much everywhere there’s a Marine base before going to Cornell for undergrad deploying as a Human Intelligence Officer to Iraq, the Horn of Africa and Bosnia before attending Harvard for business school. Gunnar’s entrepreneurial career has focused in education software and services where he’s founded and invested in a handful of companies including his most recent company, Array.
​        When their then-six-year-old son Tristan started asking hard questions about Santa, they didn’t have good answer. Wanting to keep Christmas as magical as possible for as long as possible they looked for a children’s book to help and when they couldn’t find one, they wrote it. Originally, the poem was just for Tristan and his baby sister Sasha, but some close friends convinced them to submit it for publishing and the more they worked on the story, the more they felt like it needed to be told. They hope that the book does for parents around the world, what’s it’s done for them, help make an otherwise difficult conversation a beautiful experience instead.

Giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Nov 26 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway

Nov 26 – The Momma Spot – book review / giveaway

Nov 29 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – book review / giveaway

Nov 29 – Splashes of Joy – book review / author interview / giveaway

Nov 29 – I’d Rather Be At The Beach – book review / author interview / giveaway

Nov 30 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway

Nov 30 – Laura’s Interests – book review / guest post / giveaway

Dec 1 – Chit Chat with Charity – book review / guest post / giveaway

Dec 1 – Cheryl’s Book Nook – book review / giveaway

Dec 2 – Bound 4 Escape – book review / giveaway

Dec 3 – StoreyBook Reviews – book review / giveaway

Dec 6 – @twilight_reader – book review

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 Posted by at 6:21 AM
Nov 202021
 

Outside… 
High is expected to be 80°

Current Books…
Audio: Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauner
Print Book: Gone to the Movies by Ethan Hunt
Kindle: The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride (The Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride #1) by Joe Siple

Reviewed Last WeekPonce: What Actually Happened at the Fountain of Youth by Jim Halveron

Review(s) Coming Up…
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good (Äldre dam #1) by Helen Tursten
An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed (Äldre dam #1) by Helen Tursten
Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout (Amgash #3)
The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs

Thinking:
l need to stop procrastinating when it comes to writing reviews

Loving:
I’ve been wanting to get a new bike for a while so a couple of weekends ago my youngest son and I went to a cycle shop to replace our bikes. I haven’t gone riding on it yet but plan to soon. This is the bike my son got, This is the bike I got. We also got helmets. I’ve never worn one before so I don’t know how much I’m going to like it. My oldest son and daughter in law got the same style bike a while back. Jeremy got a black one and Susie got a red one.

Grateful For:
Cooler weather, earlier daylight, family and friends, and a new bike!

Watching…
Starfish
The Engagement Ring

In The Kitchen…
Fish, French Fries/Onion Rings, Coleslaw
Arby’s Pecan Chicken Salad for lunch
Pepperoni Pizza Crescent Rolls
California Roast w/ Potatoes, Carrots
Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup

New To Me Stuff:
A BIKE!!!

Today’s To Do List…
Work until around noon and then home to move some tv’s because my son bought a new one, maybe have a cookout

Looking forward to…
Riding my new bike

Question Of The Week…
Do you like to go bike riding?

A Favorite Bible Verse…
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
James 1:19

From the camera…

Pulled it out of the shed so I could take a photo of it!

Can you tell I’m excited about my new bike?

 Posted by at 7:42 PM
Nov 182021
 
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Book Details:
Book Title:  Ponce: What Actually Happened at the Fountain of Youth by Jim Halveron
Category:  Adult Fiction 18+, 164 pages
Genre: Satire / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Gail Force Publishing
Release Date: November 2021

What Actually Happened at the Fountain of Youth
For the most part, history is written by the winners. That includes most accounts depicting the conquests of the New World. Most records and artifacts of Native Americans were destroyed by the conquistadors to complete their total dominance in the new lands. Occasionally, historians working with native populations piece together some lost archives, but those examples are few and far between.

Until students found the original hand written notes by Ponce De Leon’s chronicler, the world could only piece together unfounded summaries of the events at the Fountain of Youth. The only documented facts of the second foray into Florida detailed Ponce’s death upon his return.

Now we can relive one of the short-lived victories of Native Americans over the Spanish conquistadors. Catch a glimpse into the culture and lives of Florida’s native population; how they lived in a land of plenty, how they adopted horses into their lives, and how the outfoxed the mighty Spaniards.

Thoughts
St. Augustine is one of my and my daughter and her family’s favorite places to go in Florida. I go once in a while but they go every chance they get. We’ve stayed anywhere from a day to a weekend or week. We’ve been to the Fountain of Youth many times.

As soon as I saw this book was available for review I knew I would be joining.

The book is rather short at only 164 pages but it is a very good fictional account of what Ponce’s journey might have been like. I loved reading everything the author had to tell, especially the journey Ponce took and the story of what happened along the way. It was very interesting, especially learning about the Native Americans in Florida at that time because my father’s family at that time were Native Americans.

I plan on passing this book on to my daughter. I think the next time we visit will be even better after reading this book.

If you have any interest in the Fountain of Youth or plan to visit St. Augustine, Florida in the future, this book would be perfect for you.

BUY THE BOOK:
AMAZON

Guest Post:
Egocentric Culture
Different culture does not equate to a lack of culture.

Although Ponce is a satirical book, look carefully at the culture of the Native Americans who encountered Ponce de Leon on his second foray into Florida. Unlike Pizzaro and Cortez, who destroyed cultures by burning, looting, and defiling everything in sight, Ponce sought something illusive that he needed help to find. The Natives failed to suffer from European diseases, and therefore, they were not physically disadvantaged. The Native American culture was every bit as inculcated and viable in Florida as the Spanish culture was in Spain.

Prior to the arrival of Ponce de Leon, the Native Americans lusted for nothing. Hunger was not an issue. They had nuts, berries, roots, and fruits for the picking. Wildlife was plentiful, and when the tide receded the table was set. They enjoyed clean air, sunsets, and a natural flower garden. They conceived natural medicines and techniques that improved their lives in the natural environment. In the modern world, people pay large sums of money in attempts to replicate that lifestyle a week or two at a time. When horses arrived, they assimilated them into their lifestyle and culture.

The Natives questioned whether the conquistadores had come for conquest or escape when the Spanish described their lifestyle back home. The description of their castles shed light on why the strangers lived with strong odors that the Natives could identify from long distances. The Natives questioned the value of living in a large stone building with no fresh water to drink, wash clothes, or bathe in. The Spaniards brought those sanitation practices along with their heavy clothing to the New World. The concept of fences, proprietorship, popes, kings, and queens produced no envy. In the end, the Natives granted that the Spanish would never relish a free lifestyle unbounded by the need for more.

It is our loss today that the Native American cultures were destroyed. How many natural medical remedies were lost forever? What if we could all just slow down and smell the flowers in a natural setting? What if we could enjoy a peaceful enlightened life? What if we realized we have enough, rather than the thought that we all have the same amount – not quite enough?


Meet the Author:
​Jim Halverson grew up in the rural, gold-mining town of Mokelumne Hill, CA and received his MBA from Golden Gate University. He spent part of his life on a ranch and is an avid student of psychology. He recognizes the struggles of all men and women seeking equality and respect. Jim and his wife, Gail, spend their time traveling from their small farm in Forestville, CA.


Connect With The Author:  Website ~ Goodreads

Tour Schedule

 Posted by at 6:28 AM
Nov 152021
 

1. Go On A Cruise: Mexico

2. Watch The Sun Rise And Set On The Same Day

3. Do Random Acts Of Kindness

4. Spend A Few Days At The Hotel At The Beach Where We Stayed For Christmas Vacations Growing Up

5. Decorate My Yard For A Holiday

6. Join A Book Club: Unforgettable Reads & Wanderlust & my Library

7. Take a trip to Key West

8. Spend Some Time In Ohio When There’s Snow

9. Leave Books I Own In Public Places For Someone Else To Find

10. Go Camping

11. Girls Weekend

12. Visit 5 New To Me Beaches

13. Create A Recipe Book Of Your Favorite Recipes

14. Buy A New Bike

15. Ride My Bike: 5 New To Me Trails
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

16. Take A Drive Along at least 2 Florida’s Scenic Highways

17. Visit 5 New To Me Towns

18. Plant A Tree

19. See a Broadway Show: (Wicked & Misery)

20. Go Camping

21. Go Bowling

22. Visit 5 Off The Beaten Path Attractions In Florida

23. Try Some New To Me Restaurants

24. Put A Jigsaw Puzzle Together

25. Climb To The Top Of A Lighthouse (St. Petersburg)

26. Attend A Few Concerts Of Bands I’ve Haven’t Seen Yet

27. Random Acts Of Kindness (fed a homeless man in NYC) (paid for the people behind me in a drive-thru) (donated to an animal shelter) (gave food to the needy) (ongoing)

28. Watch At Least 5 classic movies I’ve never seen

29. Take A Trip On A Train (from North Carolina to Florida)

30. Donate  books (ongoing)

31. Read 2 New To Me Classics

32. Visit A Winery (1 In St. Augustine, Florida, 2 In Mexico)

33. Play Mini Golf (Orlando & St. Augustine, Florida)

34. See A Birth (2 of my grandkids & many animals)

35. Do something crafty (my daughter and I each painted a butterfly picture)

 Posted by at 9:13 AM
Nov 042021
 
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Book Title:  Twin Tales: Alike and Different by Brielle and Nadia Dupervil
Category: Children’s Fiction (Ages 3-7), 28 pages
Genre:  Children
Publisher:  RiaJay Publishing
Release date:  October 2021
Format: Print – Hardback USA, e-book PDF
Tour dates: October 25 to November 19
Content Rating:  G – Suitable for all readers.

Book Description: 
Imagine having someone that is just like you in the world. Or what if there were not just like you, but everyone thought they were? Twin sisters Alexia and Denise might look alike on the outside, but they are very different on the inside. Join the sisters as they reveal what makes them unique. An enduring story of siblings who share a strong bond that parents will appreciate, and children will love.

Thoughts
This is such a cute book! Alexia and Denise are twin sisters who look so much alike that people get them mixed up sometimes. That’s pretty much where the sameness ends. They both like to do different things, like different foods and clothes, etc.

I have a twin brother (so nobody got us mixed up), but growing up we liked a lot of the same things like going camping, riding bicycles and mini bikes, watching tv, and we pretty much liked the same foods. Across the street from us were twin brothers who were a year younger and like Alexa and Denise, they looked alike but liked different things.

If you have children, whether they are twins or not, I think they would like this book.

It’s illustrated by Folksnfables and are big and clear and colorful.

This would make a great gift for any young child, especially twins.


Buy the Book:
Amazon
Authors’ Website
add to Goodreads

Meet the Authors:

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Brielle has a bold and bubbly personality and never meets a stranger. You can call her the life of the party because there is never a dull moment when she is around. Brielle is a curious conversationalist who will talk to anyone who will listen.

Nadia is a soft spoken, articulate, gentle spirit. Initially she is reserved, but once comfortable she will win you over with her contagious laughter and the silly jokes she keeps in her back pocket for the right time. Nadia is caring and always does what she can to help others feel better. She is very in tune with her emotions and very direct when expressing them.

Connect with the Author:  website ~ facebook ~ instagram


Tour Schedule:

Oct 25 – Cover Lover Book Review – book review / author interview / giveaway
Oct 25 – Splashes of Joy – book review / giveaway
Oct 25 –Kam’s Place – book review
Oct 26 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
Oct 26 – @booking.with.janelle – book review / author interview
Oct 26 – Pick a Good Book – book review / author interview / giveaway
Oct 27 –Older & Smarter? – book review / author interview / giveaway
Oct 28 –Lisa’s Reading – book review / giveaway
Oct 28 – Rajiv’s Reviews – book review / giveaway
Oct 29 – Books for Books – book review
Oct 29 – The Phantom Paragrapher – book review
Nov 1 –Gina Rae Mitchell – book review / author interview / giveaway
Nov 2 – @twilight_reader – book review
Nov 2 – Perfect Chaos – book review / guest post / giveaway
Nov 3 –Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
Nov 4 – I’d Rather Be At The Beach – book review
Nov 5 – Pause for Tales – book review / giveaway
Nov 5 – Nighttime Reading Center – book review / giveaway
Nov 8 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 8 – Westveil Publishing – book review / giveaway
Nov 9 – Leels Loves Books – book review / giveaway
Nov 10 – ajbookreads – book review / author interview / giveaway
Nov 11 – I’m Into Books – book review / giveaway
Nov 11 – The Adventures of a Traveler’s Wife – book review / guest post / giveaway
Nov 12 – Sefina Hawke’s Books – book spotlight
Nov 15 – Gold Dust Editing & Book Reviews – book spotlight / author interview
Nov 16 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book review / giveaway
Nov 17 – Bound 4 Escape – book review / giveaway
Nov 18 – Cheryl’s Book Nook – book review / giveaway
Nov 19 – fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway

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 Posted by at 6:13 AM
Nov 012021
 

It’s time for Nonfiction November

I don’t know if I’ll be be doing the weekly events, but I’ll be reading some nonfiction

Here are the books I’ll be reading:

Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauner

The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family by Ron Howard , Clint Howard

The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs

 Posted by at 7:35 AM
Oct 232021
 

Outside… 
Predicted high is 88°

Current Books…
Audio: Oh William! (Amgash #3) by Elizabeth Strout
Print Book: Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 (Diaries #1) by David Sedaris
Kindle: The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride (The Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride #1) by Joe Siple

Reviewed Last Week…
Chipper Makes Merry by Kimber Fox Morgan

Reviews Coming Up…
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good (Äldre dam #1) by Helen Tursten

On TV…
Northern Borders
The Wake of Light

Menu Plan For This Week…
Crockpot Chicken & Stuffing
Pork Loin, Mashed Potatoes, Corn
Baby Lima’s w/ham hock & cornbread

Question Of The Week…
What’s your favorite vacation destination in your state?

A Favorite Bible Verse
Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
Psalm 34:21

From the camera…

Kaiyo was using her monkey as a pillow

TODAY IS MY SON ANTHONY’S BIRTHDAY!

 Posted by at 8:40 PM