Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book Review: Colors of Feelings LaToya Watson Children's Picture book

Colors of Feelings
LaToya Watson
Children’s picture book
Publish America
ISBN 9781630844202
$5.99 ebook; paperback and hardcover editions available
c. January 2014

Buy on Amazon

Colors of Feelings is a great book about children who experience different feelings for each color of the rainbow.

My review:

Darling large format picture book with a four-stanza poem on the first pages and a longer one at the end. Features red (the color of my heart), orange, yellow (the golden sun), green, blue, pink, the color of a plum tree. Word choices are above most young readers, however the colors and simple illustrations format will draw your infant or toddler’s eyes and delight them; the rhythmic words create a pleasant sound, and the shortness will allow most readers to get through the story with a squirmy kid.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

CrossReads Book Blast: In the Cleft: Joy Comes in the Mourning by Dana Goodman

In the Cleft: Joy Comes in the Mourning
By Dana Goodman

Amazon Buy Button

About the Book:

Author and Counsellor, Dana Goodman, shares her painful journey through heart breaking tragedy. After losing her 12-year-old son and 30-year-old husband to cancer, she must put back together the broken pieces of her life and her faith. Drawing hope from Christ, she describes how even the worst of tragedies can be rewritten into love stories so seeds of hope can be imparted to others. Ron Dart, Professor of Philosophy and Politics at the University of the Fraser Valley, says this about In the Cleft:
"I read the missive in a single sitting--was charmed and entranced, enthralled and captured by the poignant and evocative insights--- it's a burnished gold of a book---a real beauty---tragedy and hope, in an honest and raw way, jostling wisely and judiciously in your vulnerable soul--take heart---your well told and painful journey will bring healing and restore life to many---thanks for the sacrament and chalice of eternity so generously shared."

author photo graphic 48

Dana Goodman, author and counselor, Dana Goodman, lives in Kamloops British Columbia. She wrote In the Cleft: Joy Comes in the Mourning as a tribute to her son after he died of an aggressive brain tumor called Glioblastoma Multiforme. His unquenchable faith gave her the courage to visit grief layers and find healing and life after unbearable heartache. Dana's greatest joy in life is Jesus Christ, even on the topsy-turvy days when he is hidden. She loves simple things like hot coffee, deep talks with girlfriends, journaling and having wonderful adventures with her family.

Follow Dana Goodman

Enter to Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Enter below to enter a $50 Amazon gift card, sponsored by author Dana Goodman! a Rafflecopter giveaway This book blast is hosted by Crossreads. We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A special Memoir of a Daughter, Bethany's Calendar by Elaine Marie Cooper

My dear writing friend Elaine Marie Cooper, whom I've also been blessed to spend face-to-face time with shares from her latest book. It's a family story, a family history of a sort, a saga like no other, one that no one hopes to encounter. Read Bethany's Calendar and find peace, hope, and love.

About the Book:
In January of 2002, Elaine’s world flipped upside down. What started out as a beautiful New Year for the mom of three, turned into a living nightmare when her 23-year-old daughter, Bethany was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.

In the months to come, Elaine not only used her nurse’s training, she learned to recognize the hand of God on her daughter’s life. Bethany’s Calendar tells the story of Elaine and Bethany’s journey and the many ways God helped their family to survive.  It is a story of fear and faith, commitment and compassion, told with gut-wrenching honesty while sharing unwavering faith in God.

Print: $12.99 
170 pp
Release Date: December 12, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-936501-22-9
Link to Order

This was a deeply personal project for you and the family. What did you learn about yourself in the process?

I learned that it was OK to be transparent, as long as I didn’t hurt others in the process. Some of the things I shared in Bethany’s Calendar I had not shared in public before. It made me feel so vulnerable. Yet if I was not open and honest or if I glossed over the hard parts, I knew I would be doing a disservice to my readers. Others in similar circumstances could only be ministered to if I was honest about my struggles and pain.

What do you want readers to know after putting down your book?

That God is REAL and our very Source of comfort if we will lean on Him and HIS strength.

What tips do you have for others who’d like to write a memoir?

Always make yourself out to be the bad guy. I know that sounds funny but a memoir should not be an attempt to get back at others who don’t measure up. It should be a revelation of your own thoughts, feelings and responses to the stuff life throws at you. What did you learn? How could you do it better? What did God teach you during those difficult times?

Anything else you’d like to share?

Writing a memoir is a truly unique experience that I only recommend if you feel you MUST write it. There should be a reason to reveal. Otherwise, some stories should just stay hidden in your heart or shared with a friend. Our lives should not be Reality TV.

About the Author:
Elaine Marie Cooper has released her first non-fiction book, Bethany's Calendar. It
is a personal memoir of her daughter who died of a brain tumor and how the Lord was their strength during the darkest journey of their lives.

As a novelist, Elaine Marie Cooper has written Fields of the Fatherless and the Deer Run Saga. Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ and the history of the American Revolution, a frequent subject of her historical fiction. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her novels. Visit her website at:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Bethany's Calendar Book Review

Bethany’s Calendar review
Elaine Marie Cooper

Cross River
ISBN: 978-1936501229
Nonfiction memoir
$12.99 paperback

Purchase on Amazon
See more about the Book and Author here, starting Sunday, Dec. 14

Poignant reflection and brave advice for the grieving.

From the author’s introduction of her family heartbreak, through the honest and vulnerable challenges of home and social life through this difficult time, to the joy of remembering, Bethany’s Calendar will touch every reader.

The one thing Elaine Cooper was certain she never do after she realized a dream of writing fiction based on family history was the write about the death of her daughter to cancer. It took a decade before Cooper heeded the gentle nudges and was able to put the story into perspective and make it more than a reflection, but also a guide to help others who are in grief. It is a story not just for a family suffering through trauma, but everyone who intersects with them. Advice on how to approach, when, or even whether, people who are in treatment, in pain, or caring for loved ones in pain, is offered with each of the 35 short chapters, as well as in an ending segment, Things We Learned.
The Coopers rejoiced when their daughter Bethany, a valedictorian and caring, resourceful young woman, went to college. The first three years were on task, as expected. The fourth was a strange struggle for her, as well as inexplicable changes in her personality. An attempt at independent living and work across country failed, as did a dream job at home. Drugs were ruled out, as was a psychotic break. Physical tests done after a bizarre episode at home which resulted in a police pick-up and subsequent several-day stay in a hospital psychiatric unit revealed the devastating news that Bethany had cancer in her brain.

While the author’s training as a nurse helped her understand the physical issues involved with treatment, and that there would be no recovery, the emotional distress for the family and friends is never something anyone can prepare for.

This is a book for anyone to read, whether caregiver, friend, or family of someone going through a loss, or if you’ve had or are facing loss, you will find some comfort and great advice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Book review: Topping the Dome by RIchard Novak Great Read!

Product Details

Topping the Dome by Richard Novak

Early American History, Creative nonfiction
$2.99 ebook
$9.96 print
$18.84 audible
Create Space, this edition, 2011
ISBN 978-1466276789
Buy on Amazon

From the publisher: 
2013 will be the 150th anniversary of topping the Capitol Dome in Washington with the sculpture of Freedom by Thomas Crawford. A picture of the Capitol Dome is second only to the Flag as America's most iconic image and can be seen daily as a segue into news from Washington. This is the tragic story of the creator and creation of the sculpture Freedom. 

In 1835, Thomas Crawford leaves America to study sculpture in Rome under the world's premier sculptor. His career takes him back and forth between the ancient Capitol of Rome and the new Capitol of America, Washington, D.C. Art and politics collide as his patrons in America struggle to have his work accepted by a Congress bitterly divided over the issue of slavery. Crawford would eventually create more sculpture for the Capitol than any other sculptor. With the country at war, Abraham Lincoln refuses to halt the construction of the Capitol, and Crawford's greatest work, the statue of Freedom, is placed on the Capitol Dome in the midst of the Civil War, December 2, 1863. In this true story, three other men, Charles Sumner, a staunch abolitionist, Senator, and ideologue, Clark Mills, a self-taught sculptor and opportunist, and the supervisor of construction of the Capitol, Captain Montgomery C. Meigs, an autocratic achiever, play major roles in this confrontation between art and politics and the success of Thomas Crawford. Their careers, in their own way, mirror Crawford's during this tumultuous period leading up to the Civil War.

My review:
Creative non-fiction is always tricky, especially when recreating conversation, dialog, and setting. Novak has done a more than credible job of telling the events of crowing America with a dome on the Capitol building. It was a long road of showing American pride in our early national history. From ordering a sculpture, Freedom, to finding the perfect person to create the "crowning achievement" to garnering the funds to cover the cost, readers of American history will find much to appreciate in this detailed and highly documented story.

A nearly thirty-year journey, Topping the Dome focuses on the sculptor, Thomas Crawford, and his ally in government, Charles Sumner, and their friendship and efforts to keep the America they loved from crumbling into ruin during the buildup to the Civil War.

Novak, a sculptor, history buff, world traveler, and former medical school professor, has put together a fine book. Included are photographs of the people and events, and a truly astonishing bibliography. Parts of original letters back up the narrative. Novak's personal experience as a sculptor adds to the story in a way someone who didn't understand the process could never have achieved. Artists also will find this story of creating a gem of national pride intriguing.

About the author: Richard F. Novak, a sculptor for 40 years, has works in both public spaces and private collections. This work is the culmination of two years research. My original intent was to tell the story from the perspective of a sculptor. However, as I moved through the extensive research material available, the era and the fascinating men and women who touched on his life shaped an intriguing story which I felt must be included with Crawford's. Rather than present the story as another encyclopedic description of Crawford's achievements, I decided to bring these amazing characters to life in the genre of an historical novel. The dialogue is, of course, fictional, but the story is based on the actual events as they unfolded from 1835 to 1863. For more see

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Book Review: Cheryl Colwell and Adriana's Secrets

Adriana’s Secret, book 2 in the Secrets of the Montebellis series
c. Nov 2014
Inspired Reading publishers

Historical inspirational fiction
ebook  $.99
print $13.99
ISBN 978-0989237154
Buy on Amazon


From the publisher:
Tragedy strikes the mountain town of Mont Castello, the home of Adriana Montebelli. Orphaned in 1888, Adriana's life is swept along at the whim of forceful men who decide where she will live and who she will marry. Instead of breaking her, their cruel deceptions toughen her resolve to take control. Though she rises to manage the vast Van Buren estate, she wonders if her broken heart will have the strength to love again. Follow Adriana in this historical novel as she navigates the challenges of woman's suffrage, union violence, and the tragic hardships of love and loss, while struggling to cling to her faith.

My review:
My heart is still racing!
I'll sheepishly admit I didn't read book 1, but I plan on remedying that shortly.
This installment does stand alone. Taking us back a hundred years in California, Colwell sets the stage for betrayal, family dysfunction, greed, suffrage, unions, and above all else, second chances and love. And a pesky bear, as the cover alludes.

Two orphaned sisters handle their parents' deaths in very different ways. Older sister Adriana, at seven, is a gentle and innocent soul, while little sister Ladonna, is a hellion. Who knows what she would have been like if their parents had lived. In this small traditional village with many Italian descendants, life if hard, and the family who took in the girls end up having to give Ladonna away, while second born son to Adriana's ward harbors life-long hatred on many levels.

The story takes the reader along the path of the girl's journey of loss and triumph through their personalities and choices, and the events manipulated by others.

Nicely wrapped from the opening through the flashback around Adriana’s life story, to the ending; told from multiple viewpoints, Colwell has devised a well-crafted tale in the vein of Steinbeck and the Grapes of Wrath. Those who enjoy American history and especially Steinbeck, will enjoy Adriana's Secret.

About the Author:

Cheryl Colwell began writing fiction in 2007. True to her tagline, "Stunning Suspense," her characters visit stunning locations while they pursue adventurous quests peppered with mystery, suspense, and romance. Passionate about all things creative, Cheryl finds inspiration in the countryside of Ashland, Oregon - the perfect venue for her interests in writing, gardening, and art. John, her husband, best friend, and chiropractor, keeps her in shape for gardening and writing long into the night. They are delighted to have four unique and talented children and three grandchildren. A smart and playful English Shepherd makes their empty nest a happy place. Books: Adriana's Secrets, Book Two in The Secrets of the Montebellis Series, published 2014 by Inspired Fiction Books, The Proof, published 2014 by Inspired Fiction Books, The Secrets of the Montebellis, Book One, published 2013 by Inspired Fiction Books. I Believe in Healing by Cecil Murphey, published 2013 by Regal, includes a story she wrote about the healing of a family member. Visit her website.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Great Holiday Family Read - Theodora's Children

Theodora’s Children: a tale of hope
Rick Nau

November 2014
Buy on Amazon

About the Book:
Meet Gretchen, a young girl who seems to have everything a person could ever want. She lives on a great estate, so wonderful it would make the children of kings and queens envious. But something is missing from her life, something that all the money in all the banks in all the world cannot buy, something that almost drives her to madness–as you’ll see from this snippet:

Could it be that what the counselors said about her was true? Was she delusional? Had she imagined everything that had happened thus far–the fire, the rescue, the midnight rendezvous, the terrible hovel, the faces of the children, grim and blue in the bitter cold. All these thoughts raced through her head, causing her to wonder whether everything in her life had been a nightmare, from its beginning to what would soon be its end.

Be prepared for Celebration and Despair; Loneliness and Wonder, Villains and Heroes, Palaces and Dungeons, Kings and Queens, Ice Cream and Avalanches, and Much, Much More. But most of all, be prepared for a celebration of Christmas.

My Review:
Told by a grandfather to his grandson and granddaughter, this sweet story of a lonely girl whose only wish could never come true is a lesson in coping with disappointment. When we learn the mystery of faith, we have a Father who never leaves us truly lonely.

Josh and Daph bicker as much as any siblings comfortably in front of their grandfather, Jesse, who would like to pass on life lessons to them in a challenging and memorable way. He does this through his stories, this one of Theodora’s Children, is rich with allegory and character. A girl who has everything, Gretchen, wishes for only one thing: a sibling. When she can’t have a brother, she imagines one.

Read on to learn what Gretchen does when life doesn’t go her way. She’s not spoiled or greedy, the grandfather says. Just lonely. I would say that when a child can’t learn to be content, peace is difficult to accept. In the story, Gretchen meets a mysterious girl who tells her about a woman named Theodora who finds lost children, and a Father who loves her more than anything. When the girl disappears, Gretchen risks her safety and the law of her entire realm to find her and learn about her Father. Along the way, Gretchen and her parents learn that poverty comes in many forms.

Told from Jesse’s voice to the grandchildren, parents and grandparents will delight in this story which begs for meaningful conversation. Theodora’s Children is a great read over the Christmas holiday.