Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Fred's Funeral by Sandy Day

Taken from a third person perspective, Fred's Funeral is a ghost story of sorts. Fred Sadler has passed on from this life and has not yet moved on to what happens after. Granted, he didn't believe there was anything after life to begin with, but comes to realize that there is more. Now tethered to his horrible sister-in-law, Viola, and her son/his nephew, John, Fred must venture through the after effects of his death and what his life meant to himself and others.

Fred has the unfortunate experience of having to witness the process that comes after one's death, which includes hearing what people thought about you and what little they really know. After all the funeral formalities were finished, Fred's family, whom he did not really know in life, gathered around to ask Viola questions about Fred. Each question posed brought a story from the present, with some of Viola's twisted answers (she was not a fan of Fred), to the past, in Fred's viewpoint of his memories.

I could envision this novel as a movie quite easily, as it is a light drama, a slice of life. It shows what influenced a man to live how he did and the consequences of his actions. As one who has grown up learning about psychology, it was disheartening to read what so obviously was a form of PTSD was misconstrued as something else, something worse, and in the end, seemed like it became something worse. Fred had a hard life, one in which he tried so hard to be what his family wanted him to be. Unfortunately, life does not always work out in our favor. Fred was able to fulfill one thing after his death that he could not in life. After being tossed to the side for so long, he was finally able to hear that his family would not throw him away and that he would be remembered from his letters and memories.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I will be honest, it made me a bit sad after reading the last page. Fred's Funeral is inspired by letters written by the author's Great Uncle Fred. While I am typically hesitant to read books about even the topic of death, this book, did not bring the heaviness that comes with death. Instead, it makes you think: How do you affect the others around you? What would you do to move on? Would you listen to what people thought of you at your own funeral? Would you try and accomplish one final task before moving on?

About the Author (from her website)
Sandy Day is a recovering chatterbox living in Georgina, Ontario, Canada. She graduated from York University, with a degree in English Literature sometime in the last century. Sandy then took 20 years off from writing to run a gift store and raise a family. Now relationship-free and un-self-employed she finally has time to write and publish.

Sandy is a trained volunteer facilitator for the Toronto Writers Collective’s creative writing workshops. She is a developmental editor and writing teacher who sells dog halters on the side. Tech savvy, a born marketer, entrepreneurial, and a big picture thinker, Sandy is a dedicated indie author, publisher, and book coach.

Fred's Funeral is available for sale on Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Indigo, and Barnes & Noble.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Book Lists

Hello All!

I am in between reading books and writing reviews at the moment, but I thought I would share something with you in the meantime.

Do you ever give yourself a book goal beyond the number of books you would like to read in a year? Such as reading a certain classic book that you would like to dedicate time to read or read a certain genre you typically avoid, but want to try again? Or maybe it is trying out those new audiobooks on vinyl (how cools is that?!). I know I do. I have a list of classic books, this one was received in the mail as part of junk mail, but it had potential! This list of classics would be my inspiration to read not only modern works, but also those from generations past. See below for the list and my, albeit slow, progress:

As you can tell, it is not a full list of classic books, but it is a good starting point and goal. There are a few other websites and blogs out there that can help you find a goal list of your own. For example, the book recommendation website This Is Writing boasts a website to share stories for all to read and pass on. It caters not only to big name authors and novels, but also to those who are starting out and need a voice. If you favor lists and categorization when choosing a book/genre, you should check this website out - it may help you during a book slump! Most recently, they have compiled a list of fiction books that you should read at least once, termed "The Ultimate List of Fiction Books You Should Read At Least Once In Your Life" (of which you can find out which books make the list by clicking the link).

Do you have a book goal that is beyond a number? Let me know in the comments below. Happy Monday and happy reading! :)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Author Spotlight: Seven-Sided Spy by Hannah Carmack

Ctrl, Alt, Books! has asked me to help spotlight an up-and-coming author, whose book debuts today! Here are the details:

Seven-Sided Spy by: Hannah Carmack
Book Release: January 15, 2018 (today!)
Formats: Epub and Mobi
Genre: Historical
Pages: 202
Warning: Graphic violence and mentions of an eating disorder

In the midst of the cold war, the CIA’s finest and most fatal female agent, Diana Riley, vanishes. Kidnapped by the KGB and taken to the backcountry of North Carolina, she and her team of unsavory partners are forced to undergo illegal experimentation. But, when the experiments leave them horribly deformed and unable to reenter society without someone crying monster, the previously glamorous and high-maintenance spies must escape KGB captivity and avoid recapture at the hands of Nikola, a ruthless KGB agent with an intense and well-justified grudge against her former flame.

If this sounds like something you are interested in, please check out the following links for more information on how to buy a copy of your own: Goodreads, Amazon, Nine Star Press

About the Author:
Hannah Carmack enjoys volunteer work and spends most of her time working for the organization STEM Read, connecting reluctant readers and bookworms alike to the world of literature and science. Her debut novel Seven-Sided Spy will be hitting shelves this January with NineStar Press.

Author Links: Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed The World By: Rachel Ignotofsky

(c) Rachel Ignotofsky and Ten Speed Press (publisher)
As suggested by publishers Penguin Random House LLC, Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World touches upon both told and untold stories of women in science who gave it their all to follow their dreams. The book is an inspiring, cutely drawn, well written, mini-biographical book, written to inspire a new generation of girls to grow up and fight for what they believe in. 

Presented in a two-page format, the reader is presented with an image of the woman being described, her title (i.e. psychologist, marine biologist, neurologist, doctor, etc.), a famous quote by or of her, a short biography, and what she accomplished during her lifetime/after her lifetime. These women are those who have tried and failed, and kept trying until they succeeded. They have much persistence, passion, and intelligence. A few of the 50 women listed include: Rosalind Franklin, May-Britt Moser, and Marie Curie. Many are Nobel Prize winners, but quite a few were cheated out of one!

There are timelines the achievements over the years, and the book is formatted so you will end with the stories of modern women (those who are likely still alive). You will end up researching more of the lives listed after reading the book as I did--especially with May-Britt Moser's dress!--and will probably be inspired to do something STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) related.

This book is for a younger set, I would recommend for grade school (8-12 years old) and up. If you are interested in more of Rachel Ignotofsky's work, visit her website here.

Ms. Ignotofsky also has some really cute and inspiring downloads, which are free (!), such as the one I will leave you with below:
(c) Rachel Ignotofsky

Happy Monday!

I have been receiving many author review requests as of late and I have responded to several and have not received a reply back. If you were one of the authors who sent a request, please check your inbox! Please and thank you. :)

Update 1/15/18 - Apparently my email did not forward all of the replies. I am going through them tonight and will try to read in order of replies! Thank you for your patience! :)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

(c) Kasie West and HarperTeen
Let me start off by saying, I love to read books by Kasie West. She has the cutest love stories! I always make sure to read her latest novel. The only one I couldn't finish was "Lucky in Love," due to the main character's compulsion to spend money (something that irritates me in real life). I have not yet read Pivot Point or its sequel (but will!), but have read her other novels.

Love, Life, and the List is a story about growing up. Abby Turner's life is about painting, trying to get her mom out of the house to try and help her with her anxiety, trading sarcasm/witty remarks with her grandfather, and being with her three friends, including her best friend, Cooper. She works for an art curator, surrounding herself with other people's artwork every time she goes to work. She has her sights set on an exclusive art winter camp, but believes she is not good enough until she can sell one of her own paintings. Cue beginning of story!

Warning: the next paragraph may contain spoilers!
Abby is told that she does not have any heart in her paintings. So she creates a list to complete to "grow" her heart. She goes through the list with Cooper, who still doesn't realize Abby loves him (or refuses to believe it, which is more likely). (End Spoiler) As her experiences from the list begin to change her, Abby realizes she cannot keep running from her problems and begins to face each one head on.

I loved this book. It made me laugh (a lot). It made me cry (it did, really)! It reminded me of my own experiences of falling in love and growing up. I highly recommend this book, especially for YA readers, and those who need a little love in their life during this dreary winter season. :)

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year 2018!
I hope everyone's year ahead will be filled with many great books, unless you are a writer, then both great books and plot lines!

If you do not know yet, my little blog has been published to the "Book Blogger List," a nifty website that allows authors and bloggers to come together via a blog directory. It has many great blogs listed and I am honored to be a part of the team! I can only hope that my posts are entertaining enough to help you find something you may be interested in reading. If you ever have any suggestions or questions, please do not hesitate to ask--comments are always greatly appreciated.

That said, a new year calls for new resolutions. Last year, my goal was to read 100 books. I tried to not count any manga or short stories, but it was tricky since Goodreads counts these towards your overall book count! From my own summarization, I read a total of 50 books, but according to Goodreads, the count came to a total of....*drumroll please* 79 books!

I never thought Goodreads could be as addictive and fun as it has come to be this past year. If you are interested in signing up for an account, you can do so here. You can even keep a private profile if you do not want to share statistics or use the account as a social media outlet. I like that Goodreads counts your books for you--with the option of showing how long you read each book/by rating/by year/etc. (so many statistics!). It also allows you to read and post reviews, join online book discussions and communities, sign up for chances to win Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) books, provide inspirational quotes, give book suggestions based on past books read, provides author biographies, and even allows you to "follow" authors to see when they release new material (or even see what they like to read)!

Anyway...as you can see I am quite the fan! But, even if you do not join in the fun, I implore you to set a goal of your own this year, whether it be in books, learning a new language, visiting some place you have never been before, or trying something new. Life is an adventure, and you only learn by doing! Even if sometimes, it is through the eyes of another person. :)

Let me know one of your New Year's resolutions below in the comments!