Book Spotlight: Mamá Graciela’s Secret by Mayra Calvani

Mamá Graciela’s Secret

Publication date: October 10, 2017

Written by Mayra Calvani

Illustrated by Sheila Fein

MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing

http://www.maclaren-cochranepublishing.com

36 pages, 3-7 year olds

Reading guide at: www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com

Description:

Mamá Graciela’s TENDER, CRUNCHY, SPICY bacalaítos fritos are the best in town…

Local customers (including stray cats!) come from all over the island to enjoy her secret recipe. But when the Inspector discovers that Mamá secretly caters to so many cats and he threatens to close her tiny restaurant, Mamá must come up with a plan to save it—and all of the animals she loves.

About the author:

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her children’s picture book, Frederico the Mouse Violinist was a finalist in the 2011 International Book Awards; her anthology Latina Authors and Their Muses was a First Place winner at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards; her nonfiction book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, was a Foreword Best Book of the Year winner. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications like The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, Bloomsbury Review, and others.

She lives in Belgium with her husband of 30+ years, two wonderful kids, and her three beloved pets. When she’s not writing, editing, reading or reviewing, she enjoys walking with her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family. www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com

About the illustrator:

Born in Queens, New York and living in Los Angeles since 1987, Sheila Fein has always been inspired by the changing world around her. Earning her BA in Design from Buffalo State College of New York, her concentration was on drawing, painting, printmaking, and photography. Sheila’s education as an artist has taken her everywhere from Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia to Bath University in England. Today, Sheila Fein runs two figurative workshops, Imaginings Sketch in LA and People Sketchers in Thousand Oaks. She has been featured in numerous collections, magazines, books, solo and group exhibitions. Her paintings and drawings reside in public and private collections. Sheila loves to make the imagination of others a reality and has done so through her commissioned Fein Fantasy Portraits and Interactive Paintings. In addition to being a fine artist Sheila works as an illustrator. She just completed the book “Mama Graciela’s Secret” for Maclaren-Cochrane Publishing.

Book info:

ISBN:
HC 978-1-365-86153-6

SC 978-1-365-86155-0

ISBN Dyslexic Font Version:

DY HC 978-1-365-86154-3 DY SC 978-1-365-86156-7

**This book also has version printed in the Dyslexic font, the typeface for people with dyslexia. Go to http://www.dyslexiefont.com to find out more about the typeface.

Suggested Retail Price – 17.99 Hardcover & 13.99 Softcover 40 % Discounted Price – 10.80 Hardcover & 8.40 Softcover

Available through – Ingram – Discount 40% Returnable – Yes

MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing

Discount 40%

Orders@maclaren-cochranepublishing.com Returnable – Yes

Publishing company

Contact Info: MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 1024 Iron Point Rd

100-1478 Folsom CA 95630

916-897-1670

Tannya@Maclaren-cochranepublishing.com

http://www.maclaren-cochranepublishing.com

MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing

620 Buchanan Way, Folsom, CA 95630 916-897-1670

http://www.maclaren-cochranepublishing.com

Beautiful Scars: A Life Redefined by Kilee Brookbank and Lori Highlander

About the Book:

Kilee Brookbank was a typical sixteen-year-old, thinking about school, soccer, her friends, and her boyfriend. But her last ordinary day erupted in an explosion that consumed her house, burning over 45 percent of her body and sending her to the very brink of death. After thirty-eight days of surgeries, skin grafts, perpetual physical therapy, and excruciating pain, she had to discover how to live again.

When Kilee returned home, she had to find a new “normal,” relearning how to tie her shoes, put on her makeup, and even turn a doorknob. In each moment of her long journey back to everyday life, she had to make choices that would define who she was and who she would become.

With unwavering support from her mom, Lori, and the rest of her family, Kilee faced her journey with determination, strength, and a positive attitude that inspired not only her community, but people around the world.

Told together by Kilee and Lori, Beautiful Scars is a story of recovery, healing, and hope, reminding us all that we’re never powerless, never alone, and that each challenge we face helps make us the people we are meant to be.

My Thoughts:

This story of 16 year old, Kilee Brookbank’s experience with skin burns and her positive outlook to fight back and live a fulfilling life is encouraging and inspiring. The idea to get her story out there, to teach people to love themselves in spite of how they look or the scars they bear is wonderful and I applaud Kilee for the same!

This book brings out the sequence of events from both Kilee’s POV and her mother, Lori’s POV, thus helping us to understand all sides of the story and the feelings of everyone involved. It is a scary thing that happened, but the way in which it was approached and dealt with, made a huge difference to the recovery.

How do you recover from the pain and shock of the burns to living a normal life again? How does someone accept that they no longer look the way they used to, they are different in many ways? All this is covered and shared in great detail. The strength and support of the family and the people around them is wonderful and this story of hope and healing tells us that we are not alone, as long as we do not hesitate to ask for help. There is always someone out there who has gone through what you are going through and there are support groups and help if we seek it out. This is a story of growth and healing of not only of Kilee but also of her family and her mother who stood by her and supported her. They treated her as a normal person, in spite of her burns and the difficulties she faced initially. She had to re-learn to do all the everyday things by herself and I think Lori deserves a huge amount of credit for her unwavering faith and support. The idea to help people deal with the trauma of burns and healing makes Kilee’s story worth a read!

Book Review: Christmas at Mistletoe Cove (Hope Island #3) by Holly Martin

About the Book:

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove

Growing up on Hope Island, Eden Lancaster always believed that if you wished hard enough for something, dreams really could come true. But Eden’s greatest wish is also her biggest secret: she has been completely in love with her childhood friend, the charming and attractive Dougie Harrison, for as long as she can remember. And he has no idea.

When Dougie leaves his successful life in New York to return home to Hope Island for good, Eden can’t escape her feelings. Her heart is full of hope that her romantic dreams are finally, at long last, going to come true…

This Christmas could change everything. But can a lifelong friendship really turn into the perfect romance? And will Eden get the happily ever after she’s always wished for?

My Thoughts:

 Christmas at Mistletoe Cove is the story of childhood friends Eden and Dougie, who have always loved each other but don’t realize that the other has the same feelings until much later. They both shy away from telling the other about their feelings which seems quite clear to everyone else around them. As much as I enjoyed the concept of magic and hope at the time of the holidays, the romance did not do much for me. It all felt rushed and sudden and then quite over the top. All of a sudden everything just works out and is perfect with a lot of over the top gestures to prove that dreams can come true. It seemed a bit too easy for me and thus I ended up skimming through some parts of the story that didn’t hold my attention. The characters are nice, but everyone seems to be rather perfect in how they are and their lives.

The concept of a happily ever after and finding love at the time of Christmas is wonderful and I am sure that fans of romance will enjoy this story!

Book Review: The Wake Up by Catherine Ryan Hyde

About the Book:

The Wake Up

From New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde comes a hauntingly emotional novel of how one man’s life changes forever when he rediscovers his ability to feel the pain of others.

Something has been asleep in forty-year-old cattle rancher Aiden Delacorte for a long time. It all comes back in a rush during a hunting trip, when he’s suddenly attuned to the animals around him, feeling their pain and fear as if it were his own. But the newfound sensitivity of Aiden’s “wake up” has its price. He can no longer sleepwalk through life, holding everyone at arm’s length. As he struggles to cope with a trait he’s buried since childhood, Aiden falls in love with Gwen, a single mother whose young son bears a burden of his own.

Sullen and broken from his experiences with an abusive father, Milo has turned to acting out in violent and rebellious ways. Aiden can feel the boy’s pain, as well as that of his victims. Now he and Milo must sift through their pasts to find empathy with the innocent as well as the guilty, to come to terms with their deepest fears, and to finally discover the compassionate heart of a family.

My Thoughts:

I would like to thank Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for a copy of this novel. Slated to release this December, Catherine Ryan Hyde’s upcoming novel will pull you into a world of horses, cattle and people. Filled with heavy emotions, this story is as different from her others as it can be. Having red and reviewed Allie and Bea earlier this year, I am impressed at the diversity in the plots and the way the author writes. It is a pleasure to read her stories and there is always something to learn out of them.

The story revolves around Aiden, a man in his forties, who experiences something he refers to as “The Wake-up”, the title of this story. All of sudden he is able to feel the emotions – fear, happiness, sadness, desperation, etc of animals around him. Being a cattle rancher, there is a lot to deal with and the decision to stop scares not only Aiden, but people around him who have known him for a very long time. This concept is a lot to take in and deal with.

As the story progresses, Aiden is left alone by his neighbours and girlfriend, mostly due to his sudden change in behaviour which nobody understands or wants to. During this time, he meets Gwen, a single mother and her two children Elizabeth and Milo. Gwen is like a ray of sunshine in Aidden’s life, giving him the hope that he will be alright. Elizabeth is mature for her age and a very understanding child, the perfect child that every parent would want.

Milo on the other hand has been a victim of abuse at the hands of his father and acts out in a lot of harmful ways, especially towards animals. It is difficult to talk to him, to understand him and he doesn’t get along with Aiden. Here starts the story, the journey of healing and acceptance. As Aiden starts to seek help, his therapy sessions bring out a lot about his childhood and helps the reader understand who he is and how he came to be this way, including how his own step-father took a chance on him. This inspires him to try to help Milo, to earn his trust and to show him that he is worthy of love no matter what he has gone through.

The story also shows us how if you place your trust in a person and show them that they can achieve things in their life, it will change them. The story comes full circle with a horse birthing, that being the moment which changed young Aiden’s life and later something that helps Milo. As the truth unfolds, it is shocking to discover the abuse Milo has dealt with as well as the kind of dysfunctional family Aiden lived in until his step-father came into his life and helped him.

The reader will marvel at the subtle hints the author drops about the issues raised and how the simplest gesture can hold more meaning than a big grand one. A story of trust, acceptance and learning, ‘The Wake Up’ will leave the reader with a lot to think about and maybe the concept of being sensitive to other people’s feelings if not other beings.

Travel 200 years into the past with Cross Stitch (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon

About the Book:

Cross Stitch (Outlander, #1)

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

My Thoughts:

I picked up this book after watching Season 1 of the TV show Outlander on Netflix. The series caught my attention and kept me hooked and yearning for more. Once my interest was piqued, I had to give the book a try more out of curiosity to see how close to the story the series was.

The story itself interested me to some extent. The concept of traveling back into the past and getting caught up in a time much different and more primitive compared to the one you live in is indeed an adventure. For Clarie however, it started off as a nightmare. The moment she stepped through the stones at Craigh na Dun, she found herself 200 years in the past, and in the sight of her husband’s ancestor, Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall. Thus starts a story of discovery, love and friendship set in the time of the Jacobite rising. Armed with knowledge from the future, Claire is forced to bide her time until she can return to the stones and find her way home. In an ideal world, things should have worked out that way, but her encounter with Jack Randall also brings her in contact with Scottish Highlanders and Jamie Fraser.

What do you do when you have to marry a handsome highlander to save your life from the English soldiers? How do you reconcile with the fact that you are already married, 200 years in the future? Is it alright to make a life in the time where you are now? What do you do with the knowledge you have of the past when you end up in the past?

With the above questions arising, Claire is faced with a much bigger challenge, starting with acceptance from the Highlander Clans as well as  the fact that she might not go back to see Frank. She is forced to accept her fate and in time falls in love with Jamie, thus further tearing her apart, torn between her vows to Frank and her current marriage to Jamie. Not one to be very superstitious or believe in magic, Claire finds herself in an unimaginable situation, where her skills as a nurse come into action to help.

A well-written story, this first book in the series will keep the reader hooked until the very end and leave them yearning for more. The characters are well crafted and wonderfully portrayed with the plot moving at a steady pace. It is possible to believe in love and magic and this is made more evident through the love that blossoms between Jamie and Claire as they understand and accept each other. The decisions Claire makes, and the path she takes, the people she meets, all seek to set the course of this story!

The book is well worth a read and the series is equally worth watching!

The Girl from the Sugar Plantation by Sharon Maas

About the Book:

The Girl from the Sugar Plantation: A gripping and emotional family saga of love and secrets (The Quint Chronicles)

An unputdownable story about a woman in search of the truth, the man she falls in love with, and the devastation of the Second World War.
1934, Georgetown.

All her life, Mary Grace has wanted to know the truth about who her parents really are. As the mixed-race daughter of two white plantation owners, her childhood has been clouded by whispered rumours, and the circumstances of her birth have been kept a closely guarded secret…

Aunt Winnie is the only person Mary Grace can confide in. Feeling lost and lonely, her place in society uncertain, Mary Grace decides to forge her own path in the world. And she finds herself unexpectedly falling for charming and affluent Jock Campbell, a planter with revolutionary ideas.

But, with the onset of the Second World War, their lives will be changed forever. And Mary Grace and Jock will be faced with the hardest decision of all – to fight for freedom or to follow their hearts…

An utterly compelling and evocative story about the heart-breaking choices men and women had to make during a time of unimaginable change. Perfect for fans of The Secret Wife and Island of Secrets .

My Thoughts:

The Girl from the Sugar Plantation is a gripping and compelling read, where fact meet fiction and a wonderful story arises.

The plot is based on factual events, on the sugar plantations in Guyana and the life of the people at the time. Many of the characters are also real people, who made a difference or had an impact on the lives of people. The story is well written and brings out the emotions of the people in the story. It will draw you in and keep you hooked until the very end.

The reader has the pleasure of meeting Mary Grace, a strong willed girl who learns to believe that there is more to life than the one she leads on the sugar plantation. As the story progresses, we see her grow and blossom into a wonderful woman with a burning passion for life. We are exposed to the brutality of life, the concept of slaves and workers, the upper class society and a certain level of superiority based on color of the skin.  The author exposes us to the shocking truth and mindset of the people, and the ideas behind revolutions and changes. Jock is a strongly described character with an interesting mindset and a set goal in life. He is willing to sacrifice love for his goal.

The supporting characters in Mary Grace’s mother, her aunt, her cousins and the secrets they hold only seek to expose us to the reality of life and the people. The strength and unity, the confidence and pride they have for and in each other is inspiring. The impact of the Second World War on the world and lives of people is portrayed really well and it is sure that the reader will be able to experience an array of emotions.

The choices a person makes at different stages in life shapes their life and this is seen clearly through the decisions of the people in the book. This story will stay with you until the end and after, leaving behind a deeper impact and food for thought.

Book Blast: The Guardian by Anna del Mar

Title: The Guardian
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Author: Anna del Mar
Publisher: Mermaid Press
Purchase links:
From the Amazon Bestseller author of The Asset and The Stranger, comes The Guardian.
Game Warden Matthias Hawking is a
decorated ex-SEAL engaged in a grueling fight against ruthless poachers in
Africa. He’s short on resources and long on enemies. There’s a price on his
head. The last thing he needs is the unexpected arrival of a beautiful but
stubborn journalist threatening to uncover his secrets, an alpha female
challenging his alpha male and getting into trouble, a hurricane wearing boots.
Jade Romo is a veteran of several
different kinds of war. She’s survived her heroin-addicted mother, the foster
care system, and the conflict in Afghanistan. Jade’s tough, confident, cynical,
and self-reliant, a woman who doesn’t believe in forevers. But when she defies
the poachers and lands at the top of the warlord’s kill list, she’s forced to
rely on the skilled, attractive but supremely infuriating game warden who has
captivated her body’s undivided attention.
Haunted by his past but driven by
his courage, her mysterious guardian will do anything in his power to protect
the woman who has captured his heart.
About the Author:
 
Amazon Bestselling author Anna del Mar writes hot, smart
romances that soothe the soul, challenge the mind, and satisfy the heart. Her
stories focus on strong heroines struggling to find their place in the world
and the brave, sexy, kickass heroes who defy their limits to protect the women
they love.
A Georgetown University graduate, Anna enjoys traveling,
hiking, skiing, and the sea. Writing is her addiction, her drug of choice, and
what she wants to do all the time. The extraordinary men and women she met
during her years as a Navy wife inspire the fabulous heroes and heroines at the
center of her stories.
When she stays put—which doesn’t happen very often—she
splits her time between Colorado and Florida, where she lives with her
indulgent husband and a very opinionated cat.
 
Anna loves to hear from her readers. Connect at:

Guest Post by author Andrew Joyce

This is a guest post by author Andrew Joyce to promote his upcoming book – Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups! Read on to know about him and the book! It is indeed a pleasure to host Andrew on the blog once again!

About the Author:

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until years later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books. His first novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, was awarded the Editors’ Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. A subsequent novel, Yellow Hair, received the Book of the Year award from Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from Colleen’s Book Reviews.

Joyce now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, Mahoney: An American Story.

Here’s what Andrew has to say…

Hello, my name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Well, I mean … I write books in between marketing my books, which is what I’m doing here today. I’m down on bended knee, asking you to check out my new offering. If nothing else, it’s a good buy—700 pages of genius prose. And if you buy the print copy, it will make a dandy door-stop once you’ve finished reading it. My stuff ain’t half bad. I’ve won a few awards for my writing and obtained best-seller status on Amazon a couple of times … blah … blah … blah.

Anyway, the blurb is below, and somewhere on this page I’m sure there’s a link to Amazon so you can read the first few stories and see if my writing might be your cup of tea, so to speak.

Thank you for your time.

About the Book:

Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups is a jumble of genres—seven hundred pages of fiction and nonfiction … some stories included against the author’s better judgment. If he had known that one day they’d be published, he might not have been as honest when describing his past. Here is a tome of true stories about the author’s criminal and misspent youth, historical accounts of the United States when She was young, and tales of imagination encompassing every conceivable variety—all presented as though the author is sitting next to you at a bar and you’re buying the drinks as long as he keeps coming up with captivating stories to hold your interest.

Comprised of 218,000 words, you’ll have plenty to read for the foreseeable future. This is a book to have on your night table, to sample a story each night before extinguishing the lights and drifting off to a restful sleep.

Mr. Joyce sincerely hopes that you will enjoy his stories because, as he has stated, “It took a lot of living to come up with the material for some of them.”

Andrew Joyce is the recipient of the 2013 Editor’s Choice Award for Best Western for his novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

His book Yellow Hair was awarded Book of the Year by Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 by Colleen’s Book Reviews.

Book Review: Roller Coaster in Tehran by Y. I. LATZ

About the Book:

Roller Coaster in Tehran

Imagine being sent to spy on your country’s worst enemy!

Dr. Amalia Tavori is a mother of three and an expert rollercoaster engineer with a short fuse and an insatiable appetite for adventure. She is forced to join the Israeli Mossad to save her husband from economic collapse. Amalia is sent under false identity to Tehran, the capital of Israel’s worst enemy, to help the Iranians build a grandiose amusement park.

Every day could be Amalia’s last!

Roller Coaster in Tehran reveals an intimate picture of the exceedingly dangerous daily life of an Israeli spy in Tehran. Amalia knows no boundaries and has no shame. She fools both her enemies and her operators from the Mossad, working out of her own deep inner convictions.

Can Amalia complete her mission without losing her life?

When a grave disaster befalls her family in Israel, it becomes even more difficult for her to perform her secret mission. This book redefines the concepts of loyalty, betrayal, enemies, and compassion. The image of an ordinary woman emerges – one who yearns for true love but who has been forced to become larger than life itself. She is prepared to sacrifice herself for her country, but not to sacrifice her life for an existence without love.

My Thoughts:

Meet Dr. Amalia Tavori an Israeli spy for the Mossad and an expert rollercoaster engineer. She is sent to Tehran on mission, under the ruse of helping the Iranians build a huge amusement park. Being a part of this world and the work, doesn’t deter Amalia from enjoying the thrill of it all. The exhileration she feels when she travels on missions seem to have made her crave danger more, taking her away from her family. A mother of three, Amalia finds that her relationship with her husband has sunk, mostly due to how he dealt with the loss of their money, forcing her to join the Mossad in the first place, to save him and their family. Having gotten accustomed to a certain lifestyle, it is rather difficult to perceive any other way of life.

While on mission in Tehran, Amalia is forced to reconnect with her old friend, to renew old ties as she continues to get closer to her friend in order to get to her husband. Through all this, we see the compassionate side of our protagonist as she struggles to deal with some of the facts presented to her, which seem to contradict the nature of the people she sees everyday. As the story progresses, we see a more sinister plan in place and a stronger character in Amalia as she decides to fight for what is right was well as a life filled with love.

A heart wrenching and deeply moving story, the author brings to us the trials and tribulations of a mother and her love for her children, her country and herself. We follow her as she navigates through heart ache, desire, and hurt among other emotions. We meet some interesting characters, central to the plot and who add a lot of substance to it. This story teaches us about making choices and the consequences each choice may have.

Book Review: I Am Not A Traitor by Y. I. LATZ

About the Book:

I am Not A Traitor

Henry Stein is a former Israeli Navy cook with a huge secret…

Dive into the story of an exciting espionage case that takes place in the most covert unit of the Israeli Defense Forces. Henry Stein, the 50-year-old veteran chef of the Israeli Navy’s submarine fleet is laid off from his job after thirty years. Due to his big secret, he cannot reveal this fact to anyone, not even to his wife.
A secret that is intertwined with a serious of international calamities

How does his secret relate to the murder of his grandmother in London thirty-five years ago, to the arrest of his backpacker daughter in Colombia, to his love affair with a sexy Korean-American who almost gets him killed, and to his longstanding personal relationship with the British MI6?
A compulsive page-turner full of courage, terror, and passion

Step by step, the secret life of the “innocent cook” is exposed. As he fights a war of survival opposite the CIA, MI6 and the Israeli Mossad, he is revealed as a courageous man who follows his heart, until the arrival of the inevitable moment when he must decide once and for all where his loyalty lies—with his country or with his homeland.

My Thoughts:

Set in Israel, this story follows the life of Henry Stein as he deals with the loss of his job and the events that unfold after. The reader is given a glimpse into the world of the Israeli Mossad and the working of the CIA and MI6. How are all these agencies involved? How is Henry Stein suddenly in the middle of all this?

All the above questions are answered as the reader progresses through the story. We meet Henry’s wife and child, explore his life and as time passes, we are shown glimpses of the person he really is as well as his past. So many secrets, so many lies, some told to protect loved ones, some for selfish reasons, the author strives to reveal them all one by one as the story progresses. Henry is fighting to prove his innocence without revealing well kept secrets, which are on the brink of being exposed.

A story with a decent plot there are elements to the story that will keep the reader hooked. However, there were a few parts of the story that seemed to drag on and didn’t sit well with me, as well as the introduction of some very random characters who didn’t seem to add much value to the plot. Overall though, this story is an interesting read, exposing a lot of what happens behind closed doors and how spies work. It also shows how countries work at large and loosely helps the reader understand a world otherwise not very well-known. It shows us what a person can do for the love of a country, for his loved ones and above all for himself as well. It brings out the courage required to hold true to a story and stand for what you think or know is right.