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Mailbox Monday #462

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what we received:

Louisiana Catch by Sweta Srivastava Vikram, which the publisher set for review. Pre-order this one at Barnes & Noble.

A grieving daughter and abuse survivor must summon the courage to run a feminist conference, trust a man she meets over the internet, and escape a catfishing stalker to find her power.

 

Pancakes & Pandemonium: a Humorous Culinary Cozy Mystery (Culinary Competition Mysteries Book 6) by Janel Gradowski, which I purchased.

Culinary whiz turned reluctant amateur sleuth Amy Ridley is excited to enter a cooking competition featuring her favorite breakfast treat—pancakes! But while she’s up to her elbows in batter, she’s hit with one unexpected twist after another. First her estranged mother shows up and then just as quickly vanishes again after barely saying hello. Then a vicious storm zeroes in on her small town of Kellerton, Michigan. There is damage everywhere, and one person is killed…but not by the storm.

Amy and her mother have had a strained relationship, but when Mom is tagged as the prime suspect in the murder of her former high school rival, Amy can’t help but get involved. Yes, her mother can be annoying, but she’s not a ruthless killer… is she? Aided by her charismatic husband, Amy sets out to find the truth. In a town without power and still recovering from the storm, she suddenly finds herself in a cat and mouse game where not everyone may make it out alive!

Hourglass Museum by Kelli Russell Agodon, which was a Kindle freebie.

Hourglass Museum offers a dazzling selection of poems inspired by artwork and artists that explores personal relationships and the struggle (emotionally, financially, and spiritually) of living a creative life. Agodon understands the importance of how art influences our lives and how we balance delicately realizing that we only have so much time to live and create. Hourglass Museum is a meditation in beauty, tenderness, and knowledge reaching far beyond most poetry that’s being written today.

What did you receive?

Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life by Diana Raab

Source: the author
ebook, 238 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life by Diana Raab is so much more than a book about writing and motivation, it’s about looking inside yourself to find what makes you happy and make it your center. Raab uses her plethora of writing experience and combines it with her knowledge of psychology and meditation to help writers create their own seven-step plan for writing not only about their own lives but other artistic projects too.  This is not a book about writing and selling your art, but about tapping into natural creativity and emotion to improve the whole body and psyche.

“Setting an intention involves focusing your thoughts in the particular direction of what you want to bring about or manifest in your life. … One thing to remember is that, even before you set an intention, you need to make sure you believe in it, .. ” (pg. 51 ARC)

Setting goals often is the easiest part for writers and others, it is the intention and believing in those goals that will ensure you reach them. Raab has fantastic advice about maintaining balance, how to find happiness and maintain it, and how this all falls in line with a writing life. However, those who are not in a place to commit will find it hard to begin, let alone sustain big changes. Raab’s advice is sound and writers who follow it are bound to reach the goals they set for themselves, especially after they have created a space where writing will be done (inside their own heads and in a physical space).

Meditation is a big part of her process, and while many may find this too “new-age” or “hokey”, it serves as a marker — a reminder to slow down and make time to think and reflect.  It does not have to be the standard meditation. It could simply be a walk that clears the mind of clutter or a few moments listening to classic music to relax.  It is about stepping away from the busyness of life to move forward with personal goals.

Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life by Diana Raab will help writers and others focus their energy on their own happiness and show them the way toward fulfillment.  Writers often suffer from writer’s block, and there are a number of options in this book to help you break through.  For those who want to write about the past or the future or their emotional trauma, this guide will surely help them toward healing and toward embracing the truth of their lives. Too often we are busy with other things, but Raab reminds us that to be healthy and happy, we need to be busy with our own bliss.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, thought leader, and award-winning author of nine books and more than 1,000 articles and poems. She holds a PhD in psychology—with a concentration in transpersonal psychology—and her research focus is on the healing and transformative powers of personal writing. Her educational background also encompasses health administration, nursing, and creative writing.

During her 40-year career, Dr. Raab has published thousands of articles and poems and is the editor of two anthologies: Writers and Their Notebooks and Writers on the Edge. Her two memoirs are Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. She has also written four collections of poetry, her latest collection is called, Lust. As an advocate of personal writing, Dr. Raab facilitates workshops in writing for transformation and empowerment, focusing on journaling, poetry, and memoir writing. She believes in the importance of writing to achieve wholeness and interconnectedness, which encourages the ability to unleash the true voice of your inner self. Dr. Raab serves on the board of Poets & Writers (Magazine Committee), and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. She is also a Trustee at the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Visit her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Seasons of Joy: Every Day Is for Outdoor Play by Claudia Marie Lenart

I had the pleasure of working with Claudia Marie Lenart to edit her children’s poetry book, Seasons of Joy: Every Day is for Outdoor Play, which was published by Loving Healing Press in April 2017.

Her needle-felted wool paintings are incredibly detailed and depict children at play in all kinds of weather.  Multi-cultural and joyous, these children become life-like characters that children will want to see and touch.  Each poem calls to mind the carefree days of childhood.  The games played and the imaginations running wild as the children romp and play with bunnies, birds, and in trees.

These pages are full of bright colors and fun games that kids can take with them into their own communities and neighborhoods.  Not only do the poems show children enjoying the company of others who look different from themselves, but it also shows how much fun sharing can be.

Pick up a copy and share with your kids, grandkids, and others in the community.  Get out there and play.

Essential Readings & Study Guide by K.V. Dominic

Source: Anna at Diary of an Eccentric
Paperback, 284 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Essential Readings & Study Guide: Poems about Social Justice, Women’s Rights, and the Environment by K.V. Dominic is a compilation of Dominic’s published poetry to date. It includes three books of previously published poetry and some unpublished poetry in one collection, as well as discussion questions at the end of each poem for those who want to go deeper into the meaning of the text. In “Helen and her World,” we’re introduced to a child whose light shines bright, but she cannot see the light herself. “She is the light of the class,/light of the family,/light of the village,/but alas the light never sees itself” Her blindness does little to impede the hope that she exudes to those around her. And like in “A Nightmare,” Dominic juxtaposes light and dark, as a lavish wedding feast is held while girls outside are fighting with dogs over trash to eat and sustain themselves.

Dominic’s poems use simple language and imagery pulled from the news or events around him to draw larger connections with others. Rather than divide by declaring someone or something other, he strives to bring together people around common causes, such as ending poverty.

Hunger’s Call (pg. 122)

A startling news with
photos from Zimbabwe!
Carcass of a wild elephant
consumed in ninety minutes!
Not by countless vultures
but by avid, famished
men and women and children.
Even the skeleton was axed
to support sinking life with soup.
Impact of globalization,
liberalization and privatization?
Or effect of hyperinflation
and economic mismanagement?
Billions are spent
by developed nations
on arms and ammunitions.
Isn’t poverty the greatest enemy?
Why not fight against it
and wipe out destitution,
pointing guns, rifles and missiles
at the chest of the poor?

While plain-spoken, Dominic also employs sarcasm to get his point across. From class struggles and poverty to global warming and globalization, Dominic seeks a greater balance, a world in which we care for the world that sustains us without succumbing to the greed of materialism and capitalism. But it doesn’t stop with how humans treat one another and instead continues to evolve this notion of balance and care to all living beings. Essential Readings & Study Guide: Poems about Social Justice, Women’s Rights, and the Environment by K.V. Dominic is a comprehensive collection of poems that speak to our maternal instincts and our desire for belonging and balance in the modern world.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Internationally acclaimed poet Prof. K. V. Dominic (Kerala, India) is the author of three major volumes of poetry about the natural world as well as social and political commentary: Winged Reason, Multicultural Symphony, and Write, Son, Write.

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Jenny & Her Dog Both Fight Cancer by Jewel Kats, illustrated by Claudia Marie Lenart

Source: Claudia Marie Lenart
Paperback, 38 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Jenny & Her Dog Both Fight Cancer by Jewel Kats, illustrated by Claudia Marie Lenart, may not have the happiest of endings, but the story is about compassion, strength, and comfort.  Dolly and Jenny share a bond as strong as the bond she has with her parents.  When her dog is diagnosed with cancer, just as she is, they embark on a difficult journey together.  Through comfort and support, each holds the other up.

Kats’ stories are always about lifting the spirits of those in need; children facing cancer and chemotherapy need strength from others when theirs begins to flag.  She understands this need and the strength that each of us has inside, even as children.  Lenart’s fabric dolls provide a soft background to the story and ensure that young readers are not downcast too much by the heartbreak that is sure to follow.

Jenny & Her Dog Both Fight Cancer by Jewel Kats, illustrated by Claudia Marie Lenart, demonstrates the compassionate person Kats was in real life and her dedication to helping others reach their full potential, whether they are sick, disabled, or just having a bad day.  The world will sorely miss this shining light.

***

Jewel Kats, who inspired the Archie comic book character Harper Lodge and dedicated her life to helping those with disabilities, passed away in January.  In a recent article, her publisher Victor Volkman said, “Even reading the manuscripts could bring tears to my eyes — the sheer pluck of the hero or heroine and nobility of spirit, starting from a situation where most of us would just give up.  One of Jewel’s core beliefs is that all girls can be a princess. Why not? It doesn’t matter what shape you are, what you can or can’t do, what color your skin is or how well you speak. Every girl was a princess in her eyes.”

RATING: Quatrain

****If this story touches you, please consider making a donation in Jewel Kats’ honor at Sick Kids.****

Other Books by This Author Reviewed Here:

About the Author:

Once a teen runaway, Jewel Kats is now a two-time Mom’s Choice Award winner. For six years, Jewel penned a syndicated teen advice column for Scripps Howard News Service (USA) and The Halifax Chronicle Herald. She gained this position through The Young People’s Press. She’s won $20,000 in scholarships from Global Television Network, and women’s book publisher: Harlequin Enterprises. Jewel also interned in the TV studio of Entertainment Tonight Canada. Her books have been featured in Ability Magazine (USA) twice. She’s authored eight books-five are about disabilities. The Museum of disABILITY History celebrated her work with a two-day event. Jewel has appeared as an international magazine cover story four times! Recently, her work was featured in an in-depth article published in “The Toronto Star”. Jewel’s work has also appeared as an evening news segment on WKBW-TV and on the pages of “The Buffalo News”.

Mailbox Monday #377

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Jenny & Her Dog Both Fight Cancer by Jewel Kats, illustrated by Claudia Marie Lenart for review.

Jenny, a young girl undergoing treatment for cancer, discovers that her best friend, Dolly, also has cancer. Dolly is the family’s dog, who has always been at Jenny’s side through trying times, and Jenny vows to support Dolly as well. This bittersweet tale is a story of mutual devotion and loyalty. While the prognosis is not good for dogs with cancer, Dolly’s love provides enduring hope and support for Jenny on her healing journey.

Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen’s Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated by Whit Stillman for review.

Jane Austen’s funniest novel is also her least known-until now. A sharp comedy of manners set in the 1790s, LOVE & FRIENDSHIP centers on Lady Susan Vernon: impossibly beautiful, charming, witty, and completely self-absorbed. Recently widowed, Lady Susan arrives, unannounced, at her brother-in-law’s estate to wait out colorful rumors about her dalliances circulating through polite society. While there, she becomes determined to secure a new husband for herself, and one for her reluctant debutante daughter, Frederica, too. As Lady Susan embarks on a controversial relationship with a married man, seduction, deception, broken hearts, and gossip all ensue. With a pitch-perfect Austenian sensibility, Stillman breathes new life into Austen’s work, making it his own by adding original narration from a character comically loyal to the story’s fiendishly manipulative heroine, Lady Susan.

What did you receive?

My Friend Suhana by Shaila Abdullah and Aanyah Abdullah

Source: Loving Healing Press, Inc.
Paperback, 30 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

My Friend Suhana: A Story of Friendship and Cerebral Palsy by Shaila Abdullah and Aanyah Abdullah is a story about overcoming fear of the unknown to find new friendships are everywhere as long as you remain open to them.  Suhana has cerebral palsy, who expresses delight and plays differently from other kids.  Her friend has learned how to connect with Suhana through art and color.  Rainbows and kites are among her favorites, and through this simply told story, young readers will learn how to connect with those who are different.

It is clear from the back of the book that Abdullah has taken inspiration from her own 10-year-old daughter’s interactions with the disabled children at a local community center.  The story is sweet and touching, and the explanation of cerebral palsy in the back of the book can be a jumping off point for discussion with kids.  Friendship is about connection, and that connection does not have to be expressed in words alone.

My Friend Suhana: A Story of Friendship and Cerebral Palsy by Shaila Abdullah and Aanyah Abdullah is another great book to read with children to begin teaching them about different friendships, compassion, and never underestimating the ability to love that is within all of us.

Previously reviewed books:

About the Author:

Noted as “Word Artist” by critics, Shaila Abdullah is an award-winning author and designer based in Austin, Texas. She is the author of five books: Saffron Dreams, Beyond the Cayenne Wall, My Friend Suhana, Rani in Search of a Rainbow, and A Manual for Marco. The author has received several awards for her work including the Golden Quill Award and Patras Bukhari Award for English Language. Several academic institutions have adopted her books as course study or recommended reading, including the University of California, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Indiana University, Boston University, California State University, and George Washington University.

A Manual for Marco by Shaila Abdullah, illustrated by Iman Tejpar and Shaila Abdullah

Source: Loving Healing Press
Paperback, 36 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

A Manual For Marco by Shaila Abdullah, illustrated by her and Iman Tejpar, is a frank look at what it is like to be a sibling of a challenged brother.  Eight-year-old Sofia struggles with the love she feels for her brother and how protective she is when it comes to classmates and friends who don’t understand and poke fun, but she also struggles with how Marco’s differences mean that he receives a bit more attention and care than she does.  This is a dilemma that most kids will struggle with if their sibling is disabled.  This story hit home for me and brought back the memories I had as a child dealing with the attention my brother received as a child that I did not.  Abdullah has created a book that could help kids who were like me, confused by the situation at home and yet protective of the brother who was not understood by those outside the family.

Abdullah is doing important work, and her book is mature in its approach to how these kids relate to one another and how they think and feel.  The manual Sofia creates for her brother not only helps her put into perspective how special her brother is, but also how special her relationship with him is to Marco.  The images are bright, and parents reading this to children can use the story as a way to bring up these discussions about being disabled and communication.  Compassion and understanding are important tools that all children should have, but they are difficult to teach with immediacy.

A Manual For Marco by Shaila Abdullah, illustrated by her and Iman Tejpar, is a great book that not only can generate discussion between parents and children, but it also offers a bit about Abdullah’s inspiration for the story and some resources for parents.

Previously reviewed books:

About the Author:

Noted as “Word Artist” by critics, Shaila Abdullah is an award-winning author and designer based in Austin, Texas. She is the author of five books: Saffron Dreams, Beyond the Cayenne Wall, My Friend Suhana, Rani in Search of a Rainbow, and A Manual for Marco. The author has received several awards for her work including the Golden Quill Award and Patras Bukhari Award for English Language. Several academic institutions have adopted her books as course study or recommended reading, including the University of California, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Indiana University, Boston University, California State University, and George Washington University.

Mailbox Monday #311

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

1.  My Friend Suhana by Shaila Abdullah and Aanyah Abdullah for review from Loving Healing Press, Inc.

A simple tale of love and friendship to warm your heart.  Award-winning author and designer Shaila Abdullah teams up with her 10-year-old daughter Aanyah to bring you this heartwarming tale of a little girl who forms a close bond with a child with cerebral palsy. The girl finds that through her art, she can reach her special friend Suhana.

What did you receive?

Hansel & Gretel: A Fairy Tale With a Down Syndrome Twist by Jewel Kats, illustrated by Claudia Marie Lenart

Source: Loving Healing Press Inc.
Hardcover, 44 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Hansel & Gretel: A Fairy Tale With a Down Syndrome Twist by Jewel Kats, illustrated by Claudia Marie Lenart, is a revised Grimm fairy tale in which Hansel has Down’s Syndrome.  Like most families with a disabled child, there is one parent that is overly protective and another who is eager to let the child explore their abilities and take on more responsibility.  The mother is the protective parent here, as many would expect, and the father is willing to allow his son some freedom from parental supervision, at least on an outing with his sister, Gretel.  Like the pastel image of the cover, each picture is depicted with a similar softness.

In this dark tale, Hansel is made fun of by the witch and her toad, but he’s smarter than they expect.  He grabs her broom so she cannot fly away, and she has little choice but to hear out his demands.  In this twisted tale, the witch learns that there are some things she has not experienced in her long life.  The family is surprised by Hansel’s resourcefulness and the witch is surprised by his kindness.

Kats has created a tale that touches upon the prejudices inside and outside the family home of the disabled and seeks to teach children that opportunities are endless no matter what challenges they face.  Moreover, Hansel & Gretel: A Fairy Tale With a Down Syndrome Twist by Jewel Kats, illustrated by Claudia Marie Lenart, illustrates how one act of pure kindness can benefit all, even a witch.  Another great teaching tool from this children’s author.

About the Author:

Once a teen runaway, Jewel Kats is now a two-time Mom’s Choice Award winner. For six years, Jewel penned a syndicated teen advice column for Scripps Howard News Service (USA) and The Halifax Chronicle Herald. She gained this position through The Young People’s Press. She’s won $20,000 in scholarships from Global Television Network, and women’s book publisher: Harlequin Enterprises. Jewel also interned in the TV studio of Entertainment Tonight Canada. Her books have been featured in Ability Magazine (USA) twice. She’s authored eight books-five are about disabilities. The Museum of disABILITY History celebrated her work with a two-day event. Jewel has appeared as an international magazine cover story four times! Recently, her work was featured in an in-depth article published in “The Toronto Star”. Jewel’s work has also appeared as an evening news segment on WKBW-TV and on the pages of “The Buffalo News”.

Mailbox Monday #310

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

1.  Lucky Alan and Other Stories by Jonathan Lethem from Penguin Random House for review.

Jonathan Lethem stretches new literary muscles in this scintillating new collection of stories. Some of these tales—such as “Pending Vegan,” which wonderfully captures a parental ache and anguish during a family visit to an aquatic theme park—are, in Lethem’s words, “obedient (at least outwardly) to realism.” Others, like “The Dreaming Jaw, The Salivating Ear,”, which deftly and hilariously captures the solipsism of blog culture, feature “the uncanny and surreal elements that still sometimes erupt in my short stories.”

2. A Manual for Marco: Living, Learning, and Laughing With an Autistic Sibling by Shaila Abdullah, illustrated by Iman Tejpar for review from Loving Healing Press Inc.

An 8-year old girl decides to make a list of all the things she likes and dislikes about dealing with her autistic brother, and in doing so realizes that she has created A Manual for Marco.

3.  Ella by Mallory Kasdan, illustrated by Marcos Chin from Penguin for review.

This is ELLA. She is six years old. She lives at the Local Hotel. She has a nanny called Manny. He has tattoos for sleeves and he might go in with some guys to buy a grilled cheese truck. Sometimes Ella weaves purses out of Ziploc bags and reclaimed twine. (She is artsy of course.) She has a dog named Stacie and a fish named Rasta and a scooter which is important for getting everywhere she needs to be. Altogether she has been to 62 events including that Hillary Clinton fundraiser. She is NEVER bored. If Ella and Kay Thompson’s Eloise got together for a play date, they would have a very good time indeed.

What did you receive?

Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair: An Empowering Fairy Tale (Growing with Love) by Jewel Kats, illustrated by Richa Kinra

Source: Loving Healing Press
Paperback, 24 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair: An Empowering Fairy Tale (Growing with Love) by Jewel Kats, illustrated by Richa Kinra, is a new twist on an old fairy tale.  Cinderella still has a mean stepmother and step-sisters, but rather than the able-bodied beauty of the other tale, Cinderella is bound to a wheelchair.  While her injury or disease is not explained, it is clear that her step-sisters still view her as a threat and are still insecure.  While they make a bargain with her so that she can make them beautiful jewelry and she can go to the ball, a fairy godmother (Monique) is still needed to get her there on time to meet the prince.

The little girl and I read this one together, but as there was a lot more text than she was used to and few pictures, her mind wandered quiet a bit.  The illustrations reminded me of those coloring books from long ago and the kids had to color them in.  It’s pencil and colored pencil look makes it easy for kids to relate to, and the fairy godmother’s transformation of the wheelchair into a flying chair was unique and fun.  What was most enjoyable here was the fact that Cinderella was able to get out of her stepmother’s home on her own and start her own business and get her own accessible apartment.

Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair: An Empowering Fairy Tale (Growing with Love) by Jewel Kats, illustrated by Richa Kinra, has a great message for kids that they can do and be anything.  In particular, girls do not have to wait for a prince to rescue them, as long as they are willing to work hard and strive to meet their goals.

About the Author:

Once a teen runaway, Jewel Kats is now a two-time Mom’s Choice Award winner. For six years, Jewel penned a syndicated teen advice column for Scripps Howard News Service (USA) and The Halifax Chronicle Herald. She gained this position through The Young People’s Press. She’s won $20,000 in scholarships from Global Television Network, and women’s book publisher: Harlequin Enterprises. Jewel also interned in the TV studio of Entertainment Tonight Canada. Her books have been featured in Ability Magazine (USA) twice. She’s authored eight books-five are about disabilities. The Museum of disABILITY History celebrated her work with a two-day event. Jewel has appeared as an international magazine cover story four times! Recently, her work was featured in an in-depth article published in “The Toronto Star”. Jewel’s work has also appeared as an evening news segment on WKBW-TV and on the pages of “The Buffalo News”.