Young adult fantasy offers good message that readers can take badly

It’s 1903. Twelve children from around the world are taken from their homes and deposited into an isolated Ohio farmhouse by the mysterious “Men in Black.”

Along with Miss Bliss, their teacher, this team of youths who don’t seem to have trouble overcoming a multitude of language communication problems, the fact that they are strangely and unexpectedly transferred from their beds in 1903 New Dehli, Africa, England, Canada, and New York, and into a different country, team up to find the reason their parents seemingly prepared them for this event, then, after the kidnapping, disappeared from their lives.

Good thing all 12 of these children are the offspring of the globe’s finest turn-of-the-century scientific minds.

Soon the children are presented with a series of object questions they can’t answer, the challenge to find out why the Men in Black want them so badly, and to what location their parents have gone or been taken.

Complicated, improbable and a sure-fire way to teach children that being kidnapped is a chance for them to become superheroes, if watched with the right mindset, this fiction novel is a wonderful escape to non-reality and into the world of kid genius’ ability to problem-solve and save the day.

Other than the obvious concern about this novel being misinterpreted by child readers to let their stranger danger guard down and get themselves killed, this story offers a lot of fun.

Its ridiculous premise has “Disney” movie written all over it and has the potential for another 2-hour getaway for kids of all ages.

It’s a darn shame we have to interpret this unsafe and mentally sickening world as it is today. Fantasy kid scientist dream teams seem to be a lot better.

BoutiquePublishingService@hotmail.com

BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Humor, Seriously is a business book using humor, seriously

Enduring an over-serious workplace can be employment fatal to most human beings involved in the fine art of making a living.

Dour dispositions, dive-bomb professional development, and disgustingly disturbing days provide people problematically putrid personal positions.

Thank the good Lord, authors Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas created Humor, Seriously: Why Humor Is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life (And how anyone can harness it. Even you.)

We all better hope this book is funny. Otherwise, that crazy-long title will be a total lie about the rest of the book.

In this serious business book, authors Aaker and Bagdonas approach the unusual subject of using humor in the workplace to harness a powerful series of employee results. According to these ladies who teach “Humor: Serious Business,” at Stanford Graduate School of Business, using humor effectively in the workplace can substantially impact performance, unleash bound employee creativity, enhance competence and confidence, along with improving overall performance.

Sounds good to me.

Aaker and Bagdonas teach that proper use of humor is vastly underleveraged and one of the most useful business tools in use today.
Though this fascinating book sounds like a stand-up comedy routine, its pages are stuffed with down-to-earth, downright serious research, and heavily-founded business facts.

Humor, Seriously is one of those books that, in my humble but extremely busy opinion, is better on audio; simply because it’s far easier to digest large pieces of business-altering information, regardless of its seriousness, in bits at a time and while on the run.

Most business people I know commute, attempt exercise, wait, wait, and wait some more, regardless of where they happen to be at any given time, and certainly lack the energy to stay awake day and night for weeks on end trying to boost their office situation. Sometimes, there isn’t enough caffeine in existence to enable that level of comprehension and learning.

Good there an audio copy of Humor, Seriously ready for download 24-hours a day.

But as a black-and-white traditional paper shelf-topper, Humor, Seriously has its place for future reference and reminder, which is one of the tools I use to refresh my memory after waking up from hibernation, or perhaps, too much caffeine.

Humor, Seriously is an exceptional book containing Aaker and Bagdonas’ full theory of how to use the often workplace-elusive skill to your full future advantage.

Here’s my problem with this book: I’d love to use humor with my employee pool. I’d love to unleash creativity, impel stronger work, boost productivity. And obviously, make a lot more money. But, to attain that dreamy goal, I need a business.

BoutiquePublishingService@hotmail.com

BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Creative Crochet Projects best for crochet babies

Confession: I wish I had all the time in the world – and – I hope God doesn’t take me home anytime soon.

Maybe this is every person’s desire. Perhaps it’s just my own. All I know is, there simply isn’t enough time in life for me to enjoy all the wonderful things I am blessed enough to become entranced by.

First on my list of wonders is watching my daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren grow into incredible human beings with an infinitesimal level of potential to offer our world.

Second is my ability to write for myself and others.

Third, my opportunity to reach out and share my love with my community through charity and my part-time job at a large craft retail store.

And fourth, crochet; my favorite craft because I learned it from my great grandmother when I was eight years old.

That brings me to Fox Chapel and Landauer publishing’s brand new book, Creative Crochet Projects: 12 playful projects for beginners and beyond by Stephanie Pokomy.

This book is an interesting collection of crochet patterns because it incorporates a variety of crochet project types instead of focusing on just one method.

Unlike the beginner’s two-hour amigurumi-only crochet book I am writing, Pokomy’s book shares patterns for amigurumi – which is the Japanese art of crocheting (or knitting) small, stuffed yarn-made toys – along with patterns for other popular items, like a hooded double crochet scarf made into an owl’s head; a darling turtle tape-measure cover and a twisting scarf made of that giant yarn we sell periodically that so many customers come in asking me what to make with it.

(I’m the crochet and knitting teacher.)

Pokomy offers a traditional beanie pattern, an adorable bee hive mobile pattern, and just about the cutest pattern for an amigurumi-scarf mix pattern I’ve ever seen.

What I mean by the “amigurumi-scarf” pattern – an oxymoron to crochet aficionados – is that the scarf is made up of various parts of a hamburger: Bun, lettuce, cheese, etc and is constructed like an amigurumi toy. But instead of being created with small-gauge yarn, this scarf is made of sport-weight – or your average Red Heart or Big Twist yarn that is attached to make a scarf. As an amigurumi toy, this same pattern would call for a small gauge yarn – I would use Aunt Lydia’s #10 – and would be created the same way. The kick is that when this scarf is stacked upon itself, it becomes a hamburger.

Adorable.

If the fold-up hamburger wasn’t cute enough, Pokomy also throws in a hot dog pattern designed the same way.

Pokomy’s Creative Crochet Projects: 12 playful projects for beginners and beyond certainly exemplifies its name. I’m not sure I would suggest this book for a just-starting-out, brand-spanking-new crocheter.
However. I think I would recommend it for the beginning crocheter who is familiar with single, double, and half-double stitches and understands the basics of how to read a crochet pattern.

This book is fully equipped with how-to instructions and is doable for any level, but it would be far more fun to accomplish with a little experience under one’s belt.

I’d go with the crocheter who’s getting bored with the same ol’, same ol’ and is ready to start reaching out to new project ideas.

All in all, Creative Crochet Projects is a win and is a great present for the wife of a confused crafter’s husband.

I know I am going to adapt Pokomy’s hamburger scarf pattern back to amigurumi yarn size and stack it on my shelf of foods that I’m making for my wellness-expert daughter to use in her practice. When she has clients that want to talk about hamburgers, my daughter will have a perfect visual for which her patients can remember her advice.

BoutiquePublishingService@hotmail.com

BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Love, monsters and zombies populate Chef-To-Go, book 2

Dani Sloan is the perfect snoop since she’s got a Chef-To-Go nutritious college-kids lunch program and a catering business to the super-wealthy. And, in her second attempt at solving a murder, Dani wins again.

Leave No Scone Unturned, by Denise Swanson, is the second book in her Chef-To-Go Mysteries series and features Dani, her three college borders, and the handsome Spencer, who still hasn’t taken possession of Dani’s heart.

I personally think this heart thing is a ripoff. Those two were on the sure track to love at the end of her first novel, Tart of Darkness.

But, alas, Leave No Scone Unturned is another volume and Swanson got the opportunity to spread that romantic tension out for another full novel.
That’s okay. It was amusing and worth it.

When Leave No Scone Unturned begins, Spencer is gun shy. He’s undeniably in love with Dani, but still stings from his recent divorce.
Dani is upset. She’s only got eyes for Spencer and he’s ignored her for three months. And Dani wonders how long it will take for her object of lust to come back to her welcome arms.

Aha! Here’s the answer, Dani. Just when you are ready to move on.

Spencer doesn’t stop his post-divorce hangover until another man finds Dani irresistible.

Of course.

Together, Dani, her admirer Det. Gray Christianson, and the jealous Spencer who is playing catch up and knockdown with his new rival, solve the crime and become somewhat begrudging friends.

Normalton College, Dani’s three borders, and Spencer further bond with each other and friend Fran-the-reporter, to save the day from the strange water monster and zombies who continue to steal cars and scare citizens everywhere.

Find out how this mystery is solved in Swanson’s second book in this series. Now, on to the third and I’m caught up so far.

BoutiquePublishingService@hotmail.com

BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Fantasy meets fiction meets far-fetched fun in this cozy conundrum

Longtime author Denise Swanson introduces a brand new cozy mystery series in, Tart of Darkness: The Chef-To-Go Mystery Series, Book 1.

This title premiered a million years ago in 2018, but I am getting to it now because I got a fantastic $5-a-month Audible Books deal that runs for a whopping six months and I am bound and determined to listen to as many “included for free titles” as I can.

Meet Dani Sloan, a recently unemployed 30ish single, professional woman who recently inherited a mega-mansion near Normalton College somewhere in eastern United States fictionland.

Dani, who leaves a college coed campus apartment complex for her new digs moves into the fully-renovated, stocked-with-antiques mansion and immediately finds herself with a problem.

Oh, we should all have such problems.

The bills on her massive, no-mortgage-mansion are outrageous, and for some strange reason, the complete stranger who left this to-die-for castlette to Dani forgot to pay her household bills for the rest of her life.

Darn.

Enter a threesome of college coeds whose parents are wealthy enough to pay Dani to house their three daughters in the mansion and indenture them to Dani for free labor.

Oh, the life of a student …

In between college classes, these girls help Dani start a Chef-To-Go and catering business, allowing her the opportunity to snoop on her clients and entangle herself in the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Lowly Dani, the spicy but sadly romantically unattached business owner, is smarting from the recent rejection of her emergency room doctor boyfriend and finds she still missing something, even though she is “making bank” off the backs of her three rich tenants.

Enter Spencer (Shoot, I forgot his last name. It doesn’t matter. All that matters here is that he works in law enforcement and he’s the hot male love interest.)

Dani can’t keep her eyes off Spencer, who is one of her border’s favorite uncles, charged with watching over his right-minded but watch-necessary niece.

Who thinks these storylines up?

Now, all we need is a murder. And BAMMO! We have ourselves a brand new cozy series. Guess what happens next?

As implausible as this premise sounds, I enjoyed this first novel in Denise Swanson’s new cozy series. I like peeking into the world of the rich because I never lived there myself. I enjoyed the narrator’s voice and since I listened to this book on audio, I enjoyed the narrator’s inflections when it came to spoiled rich kids.

If you are interested in entertaining a story that has absolutely no chance of happening in the real world, Tart of Darkness is for you.

Tune in tomorrow for a round-up on her second series novel, Leave No Scone Unturned. That one was included too.

BoutiquePublishingService@hotmail.com

BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Learn to draw soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur kitty …

Olive Yong is the queen of cute. And her new Kawaii Kitties: Learn How to Draw 75 Cats in All Their Glory, is to-die-for adorable.

Yong, who is also the popular Instagram artist, Bichi Mao, showcases her talent for creating cute by offering lessons in how to draw darling kitties in 75 different positions.

It’s diabetic coma sweet.

Let me tell you! Anyone who sits down with this book for 10 minutes cannot help but come out the other end with a smile. It doesn’t matter if learning to draw these delightful creatures is your ultimate goal. Just watching Yong move through the process of creating this charming series is enough to light up any burned-out smile.

But for beginning artists, this book is even better.

Crack the pages of this beginner drawing title and find chapter after chapter of easy-to-master, cute as a pinch on the cheeks, kitties in all their animated glory.

Yong shares her easy techniques for playing kitties, curious kitties, kitties caught sharing their furry love and so many other animated personality situations.

Readers – or should I say, artists – can draw kitties playing dress up, eating their latest meal, and just being themselves.

This is hours of fun in a book and worth every cent its publisher charges to buy it.

Now that I’ve extolled the wonders of this fabulous feline fantasy, it’s time for meow to put on my whiskers, grab my colored pencils and draw.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Glow in the dark pages help kids ease fear of the dark

Author Dan Dewitt tells the story of Jesus, the light of the world in his beautifully illustrated children’s picture book, The Bright Light and the Super Scary Darkness.

Illustrator Rea Zhui uses glow-in-the-dark ink to help share the message that God’s light always outshines any darkness present in reader’s worlds.

This beautiful little book starts out with a young boy, his dog, teddy bear, and flashlight emerging from the pretend camping tent set up in his bedroom during the night with fear etched in their faces.

Our narrator begins the story with a question: Have you ever been afraid of the dark?

Though most readers would assume the narrator was speaking about the commonly-held trepidation about nighttime terror, Dewitt takes the opportunity to share with readers the Biblical story of how light and darkness outline the history of our world from its inception.

Dewitt shares the stories of Adam and Eve, the introduction of sin, the redeeming birth of Jesus Christ, and the promise that light has already won over darkness in our world.

The Bright Light and the Super Scary Darkness is a great book for kids between two and 10 years old, reaching a potentially wide range of young readers and their parents with a timeless and truthful story told in a way young readers will want to turn its pages again and again.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Antoni! Invite ME for dinner!

Unlike most cookbooks, Antonie Let’s Do Dinner is a book about cooking in a book for the tabletop.

Thank you Jerry Seinfeld for thinking of such things.

As with most books along this line … cookbooks I mean …
Let’s Do Dinner is chock full of stomach-rumbling recipes and jump-off-the-page photos.

These recipes are perfect for cooks who don’t necessarily own a vast collection of cookware and specialty items. These recipes are the epitome of beauty both in their creation and the display of their potential on these pages because its author understands the value of painting a masterpiece of flavor and color with food, and his surrounding crew is as dedicated to the fine art of these thoughts as the recipes’ creator himself.

Authored by Antoni Porowski, with Mindy Fox, this cookbook’s tone and recipes ruminate a sense of home.

Achieving that kind of vibe for a cookbook is in my opinion an excellent accomplishment. I am compelled to hop a plane to New York, hunt this author and his crew down, knock on his door and sit down with them for a nice meal, a lot of laughter, and a relaxing night in the big city.

Honestly, I did not realize Antoni Porowski was a Queer Eye television star before I read this book. I am one of those old people – from the 1980s – who is still too busy to flip on the television for relaxation of any sort. But, no wonder he’s so popular. The man has the natural ability to portray warmth and welcomeness to those with which he interacts.

Meticulous to detail and abundant with gratitude Antoni says he grew up as a boy who wanted to be just like his dad, humble, strong, and loving.
In this book, he accomplished his goal.

Yes. This cookbook offers all the same pantry stuffing ideas you might see elsewhere.

By the way, everything on Porowski’s list sits in my own cupboard at this instant. It makes suggestions about including things like ground lamb and pork for freezer staples.

And capers. I know I am less than refined, but a caper? What is that? And how does it taste? Find out in Antoni Let’s Do Dinner.

One thing I like about this book is its ability to twist cultural norms into a new and interesting creation.

Try Armenia Pita Pizza.

Yum.

You should see this art. Sicilian tuna salad is something I’d never consider. But after looking at the plate on this page, I say … bring it on!
White bean and cauliflower soup with herb oil. Golden Root Vegetable Pot Pie. Roasted cabbage steaks with apple-dijon vinaigrette. Lazy Pierogies with wild mushrooms, cabbage, and prunes. This book is vegetable heaven.

This truly artistically created book is a guaranteed table topper.
Yes. I know. Cookbooks belong in the kitchen. But truly, this one is different. This one would do just as well on a New York window sill along with art books just waiting to be perused by guests waiting for Antoni and his crew before their own delectable dinner.

I am bummed I reviewed this cookbook digitally. This is one I’d love to put on my own family room shelf. I hope my oldest daughter doesn’t read this review. If she does, she will know what she’s getting for her birthday.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Kelly provides another meow mix of fun and murder

Sophie Kelly must be a great cozy writer if she’s able to convince me, and untold millions of other cozy readers, that Wysteria Hill cats are “magical.”
And it’s a darn good thing she has two of them to keep her alive too since small-town librarian Kathleen Paulson is constantly surrounded by people being murdered.

And, dang. Those murder victims always come with the most unsavory perpetrators who always seem like the most unlikely suspects.

Those darn cats just disappear and reappear at will. They walk through walls, truck windshields – all sorts of things.

No wonder Katherine is afraid to tell her boyfriend/cop that Owen and Hercules are special.

But, that’s okay. To Katherine, they are a great help and always seem to show up before her very, slow, moving, but handsome beau. Thank goodness.

In The Cats Came Back: A Magical Cat Mystery, Book 10, our heroine is neck-deep in planning a charity music concert and assisting with last-minute preparations for her dear friend Roma’s later-in-life wedding.

(Why mention the groom? The wedding is for the bride, right?)

But these impending nuptials are so unfortunately interrupted by the untimely and certainly unflattering death of, ah, ah, ah, oh ya, a third-party character I know almost nothing about.

Does it matter? Of course not.

This story is about Katherine and her “special” cats working simultaneously to find the killer.

But we all know that simply FINDING the killer is never enough. Our heroine absolutely must compel our murderer into offering a full confession and provide a satisfying conclusion to our tail, tale.

As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed wandering around my hometown while listening to this cattail, tale. And I’m confident that Katherine and her crazy cozy cats will be back with another murder soon.

In fact! I know they’ll be back. This series has at least three more titles available to read right now.

Enjoy all.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Organza fabric used for embroidery is genius

Oh, sarah, you had me at the title page.

Fiber artist and author Sarah Godfrey teamed up with Landauer Publishing to offer fiber crafters a new twist on the ancient art of embroidery.

Why, oh why, did it take us so much time to discover such a stunning twist? I mean, really. We’ve been embroidering since the cro-magnon days 30,000 years before Christ.

Regardless, Sarah, you and your new book, Organza Hoop Art: Embroidery Techniques and Projects for Sheer Stitching, are a God-send.

In this traditionally organized embroidery craft book, Sarah Godfrey walks readers through the various steps required to embroider a variety of  designs on organza fabric.

The result is nothing less than stunning.

Using organza fabric to create these pieces gives each finished product a feeling of suspension in the air.

Organza is a light-weight sheer fabric many may automatically pair with wedding dresses and veils.

I did.

The delicate, classy and formal fabric once derived from silk can now be created using a variety of different fibers to get the organza effect.

Regardless of how it’s made, combining the feminine, delicate feel of organza with the layered, sometimes beaded, always gorgeous art of hoop embroidery is sheer genius. Literally.

Just to page through this beautiful craft book is a dive into the soft, relaxing world of embroidery and offers inspiration to create its projects, and so much more.

In Organza Hoop Art: Embroidery Techniques and Projects for Sheer Stitching, Godfrey shares her methods for creating the most adorable prickly pear cactus I’ve ever seen. She shares patterns and methods for a variety of flowers – including the very popular purple bearded iris, which is my late mother-in-law’s all time favorite flower.

Godfrey shares her ladybug pattern, her goldfish pattern, and, for a change of subject matter, artists can learn to stitch their own cup of relaxing coffee while enjoying this book.

Bravo Sarah Godfrey. Bravo Landauer Publishing.

One problem: This title doesn’t publish until early April in the vicinity of my 57th birthday. This post may be a bit early. But I was so enchanted I couldn’t hold back. Perhaps I’ll have to repost it again.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Serious medical first aid book addresses how to handle a zombie attack

When I first saw Dr. Disaster’s Guide to Surviving Everything: Essential Advice for Any Situation Life Throws Your Way, I genuinely thought it was a joke.

I’ve seen them before – disaster parody books that take something very serious and make it lighthearted fun. Those books are very amusing and usually destine for 20-something tabletops and baskets of books lining the back of the bathroom toilet bowl tank.

This one, however, actually belongs on your bookshelf under a label that reads “First Aid.”

Authored by emergency room doctor, John Torres, this text first aid book offers practical advice about common, and uncommon, disasters.

Earthquakes, blizzards, surviving hypothermia …

Dr. Disaster’s Guide to Surviving Everything is actually a whole lot more interesting as a serious book than it would be as a joke.

Dr. Torres knows his stuff and carries a great deal of weight in the medical and military worlds. He is NBC’s senior medical correspondent and a retired USAF colonel.

Next time you need to know how to evacuate somewhere – which, by the way, occurs a lot more than one might think – Dr. Disaster is the guy to consult.

If you are experiencing a cardiac arrest or suffering from choking …

Wait a minute. Both those things might need to be addressed before they occur. 

But still, if consulted in the proper order, Dr. Disaster’s advice can help.

And, if zombies attack … (I am absolutely not kidding.) Dr. Disaster can help you save the day.

Torres writes that the CDC actually presented a serious post on its blog site in 2011 addressing this unusual subject.

“There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for,” Torres writes as he quotes the 2011 CDC blog, “Take a zombie apocalypse, for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e-a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens, you’ll be glad you read this.”

(I won’t spoil the literary tension of this statement created by continuing with this quote. You will have to buy Dr. Disaster’s book to find out what our safe and sane government officials advise about this subject.

After consulting this book, I am convinced that our medical hero can lead you away from your chances of perishing in airplane disasters, dirty bombs, terrorist activity, and chemical attacks.

Wow. Talk about a book title showcasing a sign of the times!

Dr. Disaster’s Guide to Surviving Everything: Essential Advice for Any Situation Life Throws Your Way is an excellent resource book for emergency preparation. 

Every prepper on the planet should have this book bronzed and placed on the mantle for use in case of a government strike against their freedom. It would make a great weapon.

After reading through this book, I realize I am glad there are people out there more trained in these horrific life-events than myself. 

But of all the horrific potential circumstances outlined in this book, I truly hope I never face a zombie attack. Especially if it arrives in the form of my mother-in-law.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Anti-inflammatory family-centric cookbook a win-win lifestyle change

Some things get better with age.

Cheesy comment?

Maybe. But in the case of medical advancement in the fields of natural, ancient, and nutritional healing, our society’s advancement shows its incomparable worth.

The Anti-inflammatory Family Cookbook: The Kid-Friendly, Pediatrician-Approved Way to Transform Your Family’s Health, is a no brainer for parents and grandparents.

I wish I had the foresight to adhere to these simple tenants when I raised my children. I would have gifted them with a solid nutritional foundation and a much better chance at fending off the world’s woes.

Authors Stefania Patinella, Alexandra Romey, Hilary McClafferty, Jonathan Deutsch, and Marie Mascarenhas collaborated for this impactful presentation of the Anti-Inflammatory Way.

It seems like it would be common knowledge by this point that poor diet, lack of exercise, and lackadaisical lifestyles lead to unhealthy bodies unprepared to fend off preventable and yet inevitable diseases.
So too, do these qualified, deeply committed and community involved authors reiterate that daily reminder.

The Anti-Inflammatory Way outlined in this book within a cookbook helps negate these environmental temptations with whole, healthy doable recipes designed for families with children.

I became particularly interested in the anti-inflammatory lifestyle after becoming crippled in a car accident caused by a wayward teenage driver in 2001. I was in my late 30s, and my ability to re-learn how to walk, balance, and move through the day literally balanced on my ability to nourish my body in a way that would eliminate the most amount of sheer pain and potential mobility possible.

After understanding why placing importance on my body’s inward workings was so incredibly pivotal to my overall lifestyle, finding ways to include anti-inflammatory foods and recipes into my diet took center stage.

I personally recommend this book from experience with the debilitating enemy of inflammation following me daily for the remainder of my happy and healthy life.

Don’t understand the anti-inflammatory concept? Do you want to know more? Why? How common it is? Why should I care?

Good.

Read the first several chapters of this book and learn this important lifestyle tenant. You will thank yourself, and the medical professionals who helped you achieve a better future for yourself and your family.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Boomerville at Ballymegille a bodacious bash

It might be too early in the morning for Guinness and mutton stew, but it’s not too early to talk about Caroline James’ new novel, Boomerville at Ballymegille.

Sound odd? Not at all.

Meet some of Southern Ireland’s splashiest characters – and boy, do I mean splashy – who all meet in this story for the grand opening of Boomerville Manor.

Hattie and Jo are our two female protagonists introduced in James’ previous title, The Best Boomerville Hotel. The hotel is owned by Jo. But Hattie is Jo’s dearest friend and this novel’s most admirable and unforgettable character. Together the two women make an unforgettable pair of businesswomen capable of giving guests an experience of their lifetime.

In Boomerville at Ballymegille, Hattie and Jo are expanding their services. The pair offers their guests individualized experiences designed to help their lodgers unleash their creative potential.

That premise, all by itself, is enough to make this second Boomerville novel stand-alone, but wait till you meet the cast of guests and support characters.

Melissa is a cabaret singer on the run from her abusive husband. Bill, Melissa’s former mate, is deeply disturbed since he’s being haunted – no domineered – by his dead mother’s ghost.

Harry the Helmet is Bommerville’s very own police officer – or Bobby if you are native to the land, and the Bommerville Babes are an aquatics team whose members spent a little too much time in the water.

But that’s not all, folks. There’s more.

Enter stage right: Lucinda Gray and Finbar Murphy. Lucinda is an artist and in the most oddly curious, off-center sort of way. Finbar is Ireland’s latest staic – which I understand it to mean in Irish talk, is one lunky hunk of man chunk.

Shwew. That’s quite a group.

Watch this crew of cronies interact as this novel progresses and enjoy their crazy efforts to start a new life together – learn to be friends, face tragedy and triumph.

Boomerville in Ballymegille a story with a complicated cast that interacts in perfect concert to make a wonderful place any escapist reader will long to visit for the rest of their life.

This story is heartwarming, fast, and thoroughly enjoyable. My only problem with Boomerville at Balleymegille is that now I’m craving Irish beer.

But, I guess that’s not such a bad thing after all.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Last One Home is an unforgettable Macomber favorite

Last One Home, by Debbie Macomber, was the first novel I’ve read since “The Glass Castle” that I wanted to run away from. I found just about every excuse I could conjure to get away from this hard-to-hear book.

I sure am glad I read it – or in my case, heard it on audio. Cassie Carter changed my life.

Last One Home is the first in a four-book series featuring three sisters raised in Spokane Washington, and separated by space and hurt feelings.

Cassie Carter is a victim of domestic violence. One night, as she is near death after a beating from her former husband and waiting for him to return with a knife to finish the job, Cassie finds the strength to grab her seven-year-old daughter, climb out the window and flee her situation forever.

This book was hard to read because it was harsh, real, and for me, struck close to home.

Cassie is a person who beats the odds and escapes. Now five years later, this story begins with Cassie and her daughter alone in southern Washington state slowly rebuilding a sense of family.

As this story progresses, Cassie continues her progression of growth out of allowing the feelings of domestic violence to victimize her; as that experience scared Cassie’s life with wholesale alterations of reality, danger, safety, trust, and just about every other human emotion and reaction possible.

As Cassie grew in this story, I became increasingly uncomfortable. My situation was entirely different in circumstance than Cassie’s, but my emotions, reactions, and feelings were and are the mirror image of hers. As Cassie faced trauma, fear, and uncertainty, I faced it right along with her. When she cried, my chest stopped my breath in its tremendous grip. I tried not to, but I cried with her.

Cassie tells her story, and that of her recovery throughout this book as she faces the dangerous world in which she was at one time embroiled.

At this story’s inception, Cassie is volunteering for Habitat for Humanity where she meets new friends that both support and scare her. And there is a friend who is one of the latter.

After the mess Cassie continued to escape, the thought of a relationship with a man is terrifying. But Cassie falls in love and is forced to deal with a giant set of emotions that accompany domestic violence victims.

This is the part that hit me most severely – the fact that when a person is abused they come to believe – or know in my case – that they are no longer safe in any situation; that their decisions can be fatal or at the very least so destructive that the abused person begins to wonder if life is worth living at all.

Thank God Cassie expresses her set of feelings in Last One Home because she has given a voice to the scared, unsure, abused people among us and works through her crisis to find a positive end.

I’m not telling if she ends up with the handsome man. It’s not relevant. The most relevant thing about this book is that Cassie works through her emotions on solid ground and is reborn as a new person because of her effort.

This is the first of four books in the New Beginning Series featuring Cassie and her sisters, and I think it should be required reading, or audio – whatever form an abused person can handle – for those who suffered at the hands of partner abuse.

I am a better person for hearing this book. And I suspect there are literally millions of other people who would benefit from this book as well.

Thank you, Debbie Macomber. I know why you are so famous and popular. I am grateful for your efforts. I truly hope I can write fiction as well as you do someday.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Digital marketing book celebrates its 5 golden rings

Anything in its 5th edition must be good. Right?

Understanding Digital Marketing: A Complete Guide to Engaging Customers and Implementing Successful Digital Campaigns, by Damian Ryan, is celebrating its five gold rings edition with its long-running title re-release.

Kogan Page Ltd

Interesting point about this book: I got on Amazon to see the reader reviews of the past four editions, and I couldn’t find any.

Hmm. Digital marketing. No reviews. Digital marketing. No reviews.

Well, I guess some readers are far too busy to flood places like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads with reviews about Understanding Digital Marketing, because they are up to their ear lobes employing the vast collection of skills learned while reading its pages.

Okay, okay.

I did find a giant collection of publisher-presented positive reviews for this book. And that result could be because this book’s reviews were so valuable, the publisher moved all the good stuff from the depths of on-the-ground reader reviews, up closer to the title so interested buyers don’t have to scroll straight down to Hades itself, learn what other people think.

And just before I wrote this review, I finally arrived in online bookseller Hades myself and found the actual reader comments, which were of course, very good.

In reality, Understanding Digital Marketing: A Complete Guide to Engaging Customers and Implementing Successful Digital Campaigns is a book I want and need on my everyday shelf. It makes sense to have five editions of this obviously successful and steadfast title because the face of digital marketing changes every few hours. The skills needed to conquer this imperative facet of sales are critical and often determine success from failure in the digital world.

One thing I love about this book is its ability to find harmony between providing a subject overview, and diving deep into the oceanic subject with commanding confidence.

When I was done with Understanding Digital Marketing: A Complete Guide to Engaging Customers and Implementing Successful Digital Campaigns as an e-book, two things occurred: I had a path to developing my own future digital marketing platform, as well as the decisive assurance that I would buy this book in print to have on my shelves for reference – edition after edition.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Everything in this book is simple: Leadership, marketing, sales … even execution.

Thomas Nelson Publishers

Everything in this book is simple: Leadership, marketing, sales … even execution.

Execution? What kind of book is this, anyway? Oh ya. Execution in business. I wouldn’t admit it publicly, but there are more than a few bosses I’ve known that I wouldn’t mind seeing executed.

Now that I ponder … execution in business is better than execution in anger or justice? Is executing businesspeople somehow less taboo? What about politicians? I know of a few politicians who would make good candidates. Ex husbands?

Business Made Simple, by Donald Miller is without a doubt a lot more serious in the execution of its message, than I am in the execution of my thought life. This book highlights the importance of value-based professionals and their advantage in the workplace.

Essentially, Miller says this book will help its readers accomplish more in less time, provide less stress, and more clarity in the workplace.

Sounds pretty good to me. Less violent anyway.

Miller presupposes that business people who present a core set of character traits proven to predict success will be the ones who actually win promotions, raises, and ultimately, conquer whatever business move is at hand.

These people, Miller says, know the way business really works; can give clear and compelling leadership; are personally productive, and can clarify their message. These strong business leaders, he says, know how to build marketing campaigns, can sell, and are great communicators, negotiators, and managers.

They also know how to run an execution system.

Geeze. I’m intimidated already.

As always, and in this book, it is the return on investment that proves key in the business ladder-climbing world. Return on investment in this case is in human skillsets and … shall I say it … the execution of that skillset in the workplace is imperative.

Now that I understand that no murderous plots are behind the business of success, or at least I hope so, Business Made Simple seems to be a textbook example of “Mama Always Told Me” at work.

And I’m betting that Business Made Simple will make “simple” into a business success.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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ADHD book tries to keep readers’ attention

(Here is an oldie, moldy book review from 2011 when I began this blog. I realized yesterday that I published it on this blog, but forgot to turn it in to the publisher. Oops.)

Guilford Press

I started reading Taking Charge of Adult ADHD by Russell A. Barkley, PhD several days ago but this book is so full of words that I got bored real fast.

I was at first offended that this title’s publishing company, Guilford Press, designed this book by encasing some pages in an outlined gray box.

Any idiot who was diagnosed as clinically hyperactive in the early 1970s knows that the little box is some educated doctor’s way to getting the reader to keep his eyes in the box and on the words.

Ok, I admit that this little psychological trick works.

I mean, I remember having a real difficult time reading until seventh grade when the speed reading craze hit the classroom with these funny little projectors that took a page of text and highlighted one line at a time at sequentially faster and faster rates of speed.

And I admit that after that class I got a book marker and underlined each individual line as I read.

And I admit that after a while I didn’t fall asleep after five minutes – and ultimately learned that I needed glasses.

But still … I forgot what I was talking about.

Taking Charge of Adult ADHD by Russell A. Barkley, PhD is a book written for the ADHD adult. It is not only incredibly informative, it is also put together in a way that a person with ADHD can manage it. Taking Charge of Adult ADHD takes into consideration the personality traits of a person like myself – and of those with ADHD.

Information is put together in lists, bullets – and yes – boxed information that offers the reader a ‘change of scenery’ so to speak from the dull monotonous layout of a normally published book.

Its contents are well thought out and insightful. Taking Charge of Adult ADHD offers a place for those who think they might suffer from this affliction to feel at home.

Now. I wonder if this company is interested in writing a book about left-handed crazy creative people like me.

(Reviewers 2021 note: Now I know why I never sent this.)

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Watercolor step-by-step burst my eyeballs

We all have our favorites. And in the field of fine art, watercolor painting is at the top of my list. I absolutely love to play with the oceanic mess of color I can create with a pan of paint, and the satisfying challenge of taming the beast I’ve set before me into something unique and beautiful.

Shaunna Russell – Walter Foster Tutorial

Take my word for it; this tutorial book inspired me to create an enormous beast. And I’m not telling anyone how my experiment came out. But, hey, it’s the effort, right. Practice, practice, practice. Let’s just say, I’m no Shauna Russell, the author of this eye-blazingly beautiful book.

Colorways: Watercolor Animals by Shaunna Russell is a step-by-step tutorial guide to creating a host of watercolor animals using a variety of colors to simulate skin texture, fur, and shade. This fascinating look at watercolor painting is fantastical and fun. It is expressive and entertaining, creative and clever.

Intermediate to advanced artists can learn new techniques and brush strokes and discover the depths of their ability to calm and combine the chaos of color they never thought possible, to create a widely-recognized figure that is both beautiful and worthy of being studied.

Colorways: Watercolor Animals follows the traditional Walter Foster tutorial method used since before I was born in the very early 60s. Actually, the Walter Foster tutorial books flooded the market 80 years ago and are still going strong.

Page after page in this tutorial is illustrated with exact instructions on how to complete this artistic exercise. Artists can paint a dog, cat, bug, unicorn, fish, whale, elephant, and more in this book.

I was entranced by this title and spent several lunch hours studying its pages. I’m lucky enough to work at a craft store, which is the perfect place to dream about all the supplies needed to make these beautiful projects. Even now, every day I arrive at work and walk past the long, well-shuffled, and heavily perused book display at our store and see that title, standing out among the others as gorgeous and different, intriguing and compelling.

Colorways: Watercolor Animals is an experience waiting to be enjoyed and a rock-solid resource for those excited to participate in the experience.

I invite you to that experience. I sincerely hope you tame your beast a little better than I did.

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Fatal Flying Affair Finds Folly and Fun Fantastic

The latest Lady Hardcastle book: The Fatal Flying Affair takes the newly re-minted British Intelligence service woman into the air as she uses her quick-thinking, wit, and style to solve the mystery of how a local pilot fell from the sky to his untimely death.

This Lady Hardcastle installment features Emily, also known as
Lady H’s, her handmaiden Florence, Flo, Armstrong, and her brother Henry, who alerts Emily to the problem at Bristol Aviation and Aeronautics Company, the aeroplane factory responsible for pilot Dickie Dupree’s demise.

This plotline heats up when Lady H begins to suspect the fatal flying affair that killed Dupree is related to an undercover spy operation whose agent is leaking top-secret information to foreign rivals.

The race is on.

Lady H is herself, of course, a woman who thinks, and acts, larger than herself. Thankfully, however, she has Flo, whose reasonable thinking keeps Lady H firmly on the ground. The pair, who spent more than 15 years together already, are full of humor, banter, and ultimately, high adventure.

This lighthearted and fun historic cozy is no disappointment to Hardcastle fans and offers readers another reason to keep clamoring for the next book in this series.

One of the best things about this story is its’ author’s ability to write the history of aviation into the text, both educating and entertaining its readers simultaneously.

The Fatal Flying Affair features three plotlines that all wrap up into a nice little bow at this story’s conclusion. This is an excellent book for those cozy mystery fans who have not yet dipped their reading glasses into historical cozy fiction. The Fatal Flying Affair can be read as a stand-alone novel.

The Fatal Flying Affair: A Hardcastle Mystery by T.E. Tinsley carries multiple plots featuring its familiar cast of characters and incorporates a few new friends to the series as well. It answers open questions from past books and introduces other unforgettable, charming, and dull-witted characters to the series.

My only question here is simple: When is the next one publishing?

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Health, wellness and ancient healing are old subjects

There are some things in life for which I am grateful others are far more knowledgable than myself.

I am well aware that being a health and wellness fan is a far cry from being a doctor or other medical professional that actually knows what they are doing.

Dr. Josh Axe, in this case, would be one of those people who knows what he is doing.

I am an Axe fan. Every Health Wellness & Seniors Montana magazine I published showcased at least one tidbit of valuable information from this doctor.

I see Axe as the ‘Andrew Weil’ of this era, teaching eager students a lifetime of good health lessons.

Axe’s new book, Ancient Remedies: Secrets to Healing with Herbs, Essential Oils, CBD, and the most powerful Natural Medicine in History, is a masterful compilation of Axe’s long education studying the masters of medical science.

Axe is not one of those guys who throws out the usage and advancement of modern medicine like it’s the fungus growing under the toenails of health science.

“My criticism of Western medicine isn’t intended to disparage all of the modern approach,” Axe writes. “If you’re in a car accident or have a heart attack or brain aneurism or fall prey to a flesh-eating bacterial infection, there’s no better place to be than an American hospital. But if you develop a chronic, preventable illness related to poor diet, stress, age, weight gain, or lack of exercise—the kinds of problems that routinely land most of us in a doctor’s office—the pills your physician is likely to give you may not help. In fact, they’ll almost certainly create another problem that actually makes your health worse.”

For those kinds of problems, Axe suggests turning to the ancient healing methods often found in the Chinese culture. Ancient techniques and remedies, he said, is a far more efficient, effective way to go.

Ancient Healing is a very large book jam-packed with information and offers today’s reader the opportunity to tap into centuries-old health secrets that kept ancient cultures thriving throughout the ages.

Is it a future textbook? I don’t know. It’s certainly thick enough. But I do know is that in all the time I’ve spent following Axe’s work over the years, I have never once been led astray.

Axe is a savvy marketer and is well known in the natural healing industry.
Though I would not recommend this book if you are someone who has to carry your books in your backpack every day, I absolutely recommend picking up this wealth of knowledge to keep handy on your personal bookshelf.

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Plotting for Murder = Fun

Hey girls, wouldn’t it be nice to have a pack of rich, handsome men hanging around like ultra-loyal golden retrievers waiting to lap up your every word?

Actually now that I think about it, nevermind for me.

But Sawyer Davis, our spunky, sarcastic, somewhat self-deprecating Plotting For Murder cozy mystery heroine seems to like it.

Sawyer, the consummate cliche cozy mystery character is a rebellious daughter who returns to her northern California coastal hometown to tie up her mother Zoe’s affairs after losing her maternal unit too early.

Sawyer, a successful San Francisco chef is a bit embarrassed by her family lineage. Mom – a trust-fund baby and sister to the meanest bother ever – was a free-spirited magician’s assistant who married and divorced her magician husband – Sawyer’s father. After that disaster, Zoe lived the rest of her life as a barely-surviving bookstore owner in a town where her brother is the bully mayor, and the world’s most greedy, uber-rich trust-fund partner.

Oh, what will Saywer do to defender herself, especially after a murder takes place within the walls of her bookstore?

Now that you have the setup, this story’s knockdown is just as unreasonable and fun.

You know, reader, I think that utter ridiculousness is one of the things I find most charming about these stories – certainly more charming that I find a bunch of men hanging and swooning.

Can you tell I just got divorced?

Anyway, the answer to this mystery when finally revealed is as unexpected as its storyline. I genuinely did not see it coming.

Plotting for Murder is a hidden joy I suspect an entire generation of cozy fans will enjoy for a long time into the future.

Plotting for Murder is the first book in Tamra Baumann’s new cozy mystery Bookshop Series and was released in 2019. Her second book in this series is A Novel Way to Die.

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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200 Keto Diet Hacks to Help Out

Who doesn’t want 200 keto hacks while feverishly trying to diet?
What is it now, two weeks beyond all those grand New Year’s resolutions? Dieting getting hard? Valentine’s Day chocolates look scrumptious?

Author Lindsay Boyers, CHNC understands how difficult staying on a diet can be, so she’s collected some ideas that might help struggling dieters relax just a little about screwing up their diet plan by eating the wrong kind of chocolate.

Did you know that some chocolate is actually keto-friendly?

Keto Diet Hacks: 200 Shortcuts to Make The Keto Diet Fit Your Lifestyle, released Dec. 20, 2020, has some unusual ways to help keto dieters stay on track.

Boyers believes that dieters who hold to strict diets that are too limited to flexibility have a much greater chance of falling back into bad dieting habits, so she’s developed 200 tips to help you out.

I personally couldn’t stomach some of these tips, but I’m not a keto dieter either. I subscribe to every diet plan out there, as long as it’s the one that works for my body. But for those of you who do subscribe to the Keto plan, these tips might help you out.

Organized logically from how to equip your kitchen and cupboards to shopping for the right groceries, Boyers covers situations like what to do when carb or sugar cravings strike. She has suggestions for ordering at fast-food restaurants, as well as sit down establishments where diners can get full meals and order adult beverages.

Boyers says that consuming coffee laden with butter is a keto-friendly idea. Putting butter in coffee to defeat cravings is not something I ever dreamed about doing. And considering my cholesterol level, I won’t ever be doing that, or several other of these fat-filled ideas.
But, who knows. Maybe for others, it’s good.

Boyers says bringing your own dressing and dessert to occasions where non-keto options are the norm will ultimately help shave off extra pounds.
I would absolutely never do this after watching my mother-in-law pull dressing, cookies, baggies, napkins, glass cleaner, and anything else she could fit in that massive purse of hers that held everything on earth – including a healthy layer of extra sticks and dirt that crept in there while sitting on the car’s floor.

No thank you.

But, for those who were not formerly traumatized like me, those might be interesting ways to defeat the enemy of body fat.

Additionally, Boyers suggests picking perishable grocery store items from the back, investing in a freezer and vacuum sealer, preparing egg cups and riced vegetable cups ahead of time, and freezing them for easy preparation later.

Keto Diet Hacks: 200 Shortcuts to Make The Keto Diet Fit Your Lifestyle might be a good Valentine’s Day present for your favorite dieting valentine.

But be prepared, reader. It could send the wrong message.
You might want to back that up with some chocolate – the right kind.

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Dirty, Lazy, Keto Cookbook a fun remedy

It is the new year and billions of us are dieting … again. Never fear. Stephanie Laska, MEd, and William Laska have just the right kind of dieting cookbook for you.

The Dirty, Lazy, No Time to Cook, Keto Cookbook is here. This book includes 100 easy recipes ready in under 30 minutes.  And those recipes are good.

Stephanie Laska, who lost 140 pounds following this dieting format, believes in her product and believes in the body’s ability to reverse its health conditions with proper food. The best part about the Laskas’ beliefs is getting it done fast.

This cookbook is a unique twist on the traditional diet approach. Though she believes in using nutritious, whole-food, like so many other traditional diet cookbook authors, Laska also believes in obtaining the right tools for the job of preparing meals and having those tools conveniently located alongside her menus ready-to-cook-with ingredients. The Laskas spend a decent amount of time talking to cookbook readers about how to organize their cook space and lifestyle to make the cooking process fast and easy.

Pretty novel idea. But admittedly, probably not one most people will actually follow-through and complete.

Laska’s recipes are not only time-inspired but also family-friendly, as she raised two children through the time she lost her 140 pounds, and understands the value and need to accommodate the crew. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a husband on board to follow the keto plan along with his wife.

Among the Laskas magic 100 recipes are Double-Quick Double-Chocolate Chaffles, Thai Time Crunch Salad, Procrastinator Pizza Casserole, Hurried Jalapeno Holla Casserole, and Asian-Inspired Take-Out Tacos.

In addition to these recipes, the Laskas present symbols alongside each recipe in the table of contents to help fast cooks determine if they want to make a generous recipe for use another day; one that offers a minimal mess; meals that fill the hungry tummy; those for picky eaters; those recipes “fancy enough for guests” and those that are vegetarian-ish.

The Laskas say this book is flexible, honest, and a real-world approach to losing weight while existing normally – all in 30-minute modules.

I am not a giant cookbook fan. I am not a giant fan of cooking at all. In fact, I prefer to find my meals in packages that say Poke and, five-pound bag of apples. But this cookbook is a different approach and I found myself intrigued with some of these ideas.

One nice thing about a cooking aversion is finding a cookbook interesting enough to try. And, this one might be my next delve into experimenting with food.

Stephanie and William Laska have four previous titles published in 2020 and 2018 and are all keto-diet related.

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Seinfeld’s Is This Anything? Is Golden

Once again, Jerry Seinfeld is golden.

I’ve always admired this genius man for how he traverses his career and businesses smoothly through changing times.

As a stand up comic, Jerry Seinfeld first “hit it big” on the Johnny Carson show. At that time, late-night talk show host Johnny Carson was American television’s top icon of “being cool.” Seinfeld’s first appearance on that show was the comedian’s ticket to success and stardom – that, and a lot of hard work.

Several years later, Seinfeld made history by ending his long-running top-of-the-charts, uber-creative Seinfeld show at the top of television’s popularity charts after the iconic classic situation comedy began its awkward and unlikely television history as an utter flop.

Decades later, Seinfeld seized the wide-open online entertainment field by conceiving, starring, producing, and streaming his online hit, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

Seinfeld fans waited excitedly for Thursday to roll around so they could jump on the Internet and navigate to Crackle for the newest drop (latest show) featuring Seinfeld and his friends enjoying coffee.

That online success proved Seinfeld’s instinct that the Internet was the next great frontier and solidified Crackle – now owned by Netflix – as a dependable driver of Internet entertainment.

Seinfeld’s new Internet series became “must-see TV,” and Seinfeld helped brand Acura and the sleek Italian coffee, Lavazza, around the world as the coolest brand in town.

And now … right here in the middle of a global pandemic, Seinfeld recognized yet another historical entertainment turning point. This time Seinfeld seized the opportunity to entertain people who would normally flock to comedy clubs with dates and buy expensive drinks to watch him perform.

Thanks to COVID-19, obviously, fans are now forced to stay home in an environment where nightclubs are facing extinction.

To me, it’s depressing. To Seinfeld, it’s an opportunity.

And so Seinfeld fans are in luck. The “Great Jerry” shares in his book that he is bored and has nothing to do during this global shutdown. So he chose to reinvent comedic delivery channels once again. Get ready for the new normal, Seinfeld style.

Is This Anything? Why yes, Jerry. It’s absolutely brilliant entrepreneurship and first-of-its-kind marketing.

BUY THIS AUDIOBOOK IMMEDIATELY!

Is This Anything? is effectually a stand-up routine in a book, talked out on audio by Seinfeld himself for more than six hours straight. It is a giant, fabulous, stand-up routine to entertain fans again and again. Listening to this experience was like going to a comedy club from the comfort of my own car.

Is This Anything? in my small and humble head appears to be what Seinfeld might define as his comedic autobiography. His work, his decades, his experience, his life told by him. It’s an incredible opportunity for every aspiring comic writer or stand-up on the planet to study a master through his own words.

Of course, I laughed. Riotously laughed. I laughed so hard I missed the street to my own house while listening to his routines. Is This Anything? entertained, fascinated, and motivated me to take six hours of our current pandemic world and return to the joy of laughter.

I salute you, Jerry Seinfeld. You are my comedic Yoda. You warped my mind and scored again.

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Children’s Book explains COVID-19 to kids

Sad, but true.

We, as a people, are in the middle of a global medical crisis that has already changed every person on the planet.

That fact all by itself, is mind boggling.

Adults are going crazy, stuck in their homes so long they have rebelled against what doctors say is the best way to combat COVID 19, Novid Coronavirus 2019, and have taken to the streets in protest, open rebellion against the medical society’s wishes.

I admit it. Me too. I’ve done my fair share of leaving the house. I’ve worked most of the time COVID raged in California. I carry a letter from my employer verifying that I have permission to be on the streets.

The whole thing is terrifying and smacks of what Bible believers call ‘the end times.’ I’m not sure if reading George Orwell’s 1984 was a good move afterall. I never thought the world would face this climate.

But here we are. And what do we tell our children?

Beth Bacon and Kary Lee have created a children’s picture book that offers a calming medical perspective on why children’s lives around the world were turned upside down, why they no longer go to school, the reading lab or play on the jungle gym. It explains why children cannot go to the grocery store, the science museum or the neighborhood playground without something covering their face, protecting them from potential death each and every day.

This crisis changed the future of an entire  generation of children, some who adapted by learning at home, and some, who continue to be neglected and ignored by the authorities in their lives and will grow up void of  the vital foundation of an education – elementary, middle or high school.

Though COVID-19 Helpers isn’t the answer to helping this global collection of children – who will by the way, grow up and run our society in two decades, but it does explain to children whose parents care enough to buy this book and read it to them, that what we as a society are experiencing now has a cause, a reason, and those who know how, are working hard to fix it.

COVID-19 Helpers is a good piece of work with an important message. It would be a great title for children of health care and other essential workers. It would be the perfect fit for every school district to buy copies of and distribute to each and every student to read. Some of these parents simply are not going to do it. COIVD-19 Helpers will go down in history as a marker of the invisible killer surrounding the planet, the killer of every nationality, every color and every age without discrimination or discretion..

I applaud Beth Bacon, Kary Lee and Blair Publishing for their efforts.

Blair Publishing is a new, non-profit press that strives to publish quality writing and focus on subjects historically neglected by mainstream publishing houses, according to its website.

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Immune System Hacks is … interesting

Tis the season to worry about your health. Especially this year – and likely – for several years into the future as humanity grapples with the devastation and fallout of the Coronavirus – COVID 19.


Author Matt Farr’s new book, Immune System Hacks, is a handy compilation of knowledge and advice about how to boost your immune system and give your body the best chance against invasion.


I read this book through the eyes of a former health and wellness magazine owner. My publication featured easy-to-understand and digest health-related tidbits aimed mainly toward living a healthy active lifestyle in Montana.

Even though I turned over ownership of this wonderful senior citizen-centric publication in 2018 when I left the state, my love for helpful health tips lives on today.

Farr provides several of those interesting factoids in Immune System Hacks. Listen to this:


The Whim Hoff Method, named after a Dutch extreme athlete whose claim to fame is extreme cold and breath-holding.

According to Farr, those disciplines coupled with yoga and meditation, reduce stress and inflammation, improve sleep, and develop stronger mitochondria.


No thank you. Not for me. Montana winters when I am dressed properly are about my limit for extreme temperature plunges.


Then there is the suggestion that to strengthen your immune system, it’s a good idea to drink EZ water.

Huh? That’s interesting.


EZ water, discovered by Gerard Pollack and his research team in the early 2000s, is what Farr describes as the fourth phase of water. EZ water is said to be found in every cell, as well as several membranes in the human body. This EZ water carries a negative charge to balance out our human cell’s positive charge. Somehow this conjunction of opposites creates energy within the cell, which then is used to power other biochemical processes. All of these things, Pollack reports, support immune system health.


Or, here’s an odd correlation:


Farr says we should be cautious of 5G, as in the Internet. Farr writes that there lies a huge difference between the inferior 4G and the new 5G technology: Higher frequency, higher intensity, and more cell towers to accommodate everything involved.
All these things have an effect on a person’s reaction to environmental EMFs, or electromagnetic fields.


But along with these strange and interesting immune system hacks, Farr also presents a huge collection of no-brainer ideas.

He suggests losing weight, or at least body fat. Heavy people have a lowered immune system.


Dah.

Isn’t that what every health professional says? Lose weight, exercise, and sleep.
Farr says to let go of stress and distress.


Dah.

Or how about, to improve immune system health, a person should heal childhood trauma.


Well, I would think that every single one of us has some form of childhood trauma that likely varies greatly in severity.


And here’s the best one: Smile, it will and improve your immune health.

Altogether, these hacks are both interesting and kind of a waste of paper truthfully.

I admit, however, that I might have a particular life-long interest in topical health, and perhaps I know many of these things because I spent more than 50 years learning them. For the reader who is first starting out with the idea of self-health care, Immune System Hacks might be a great tabletop reference book. It’s certainly a thorough collection and holds a lot of solid advice.


But, if you are a health junkie like I am, you might want to skim through it at the bookstore before you decide to buy.

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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The Gingerbread House picture book is perfect

Gather round, children, and let me share a darling holiday story.


Twas the month before Christmas when all through the land, there were gingerbread men who were spicy and tanned.


The Gingerbread House, a picture book by Laura Gia West, is not a redo of T’was the Night Before Christmas. But it may be one of those children’s books parents read to their small kids for generations into the future.


This is downright adorable.


In The Gingerbread House, a very special, well, gingerbread man, somehow become as alive as Frosty and Olaf and dances around his snow dazzled home with the most trendy dance moves known to mankind. Seriously.


I never thought I’d laugh at a gingerbread man, reindeer, and snowman dance team dabbing.


To dab, by the way, is to drop one’s head into a bent slant, upwardly angle one arm in the opposite direction -across the front of your face – and ensure the other arm is parallel. Don’t feel bad. I had to look it up and though I thought this move was something new in 2020, it actually originated in 2015. Shows how hip I am.


But this page in The Gingerbread House is so creative and original, that it actually shows a dancing word-formation that says “dabbing through the snow.”


Written in the syntax rhythm of T’was the Night Before Christmas, this story shows children all the fun things that this gingerbread man can do when magically alive.


“He can moonwalk on shelves, can-can down a tree, do the Twist with the elves, and chicken dance until he’s free.”


Boy, this guy is active. But Mr. Gingerbread man explains that he will quit running away if his readers build him a gingerbread house.


“Now Dasher, now Dancer, now gumdrops and mints!”


By the time our young readers are through listening to this adorable tale, each reader is invited to eat Mr. Gingerbread man without fear. Before, as everyone knows, he’ll be back again next year.

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Christmas in Paradise? I don’t think so

From the files of ‘Oldies But Goodies,’ Cozy author Kathi Daley presents Christmas in Paradise, a title that sort of represents its story.

Why, you ask, did I choose this one? Because it was available from the library.

But, it was still a good read, even if I didn’t have any prerequisites to my choices.

Christmas in Paradise: A TJ Jensen Mystery, (Book 4) introduces a few new characters into the life of small-town Serenity’s TJ Jensen.

Jensen, a high school teacher and ski coach is the older sister and caretaker to her two younger half-siblings, abandoned after their promiscuous mother dies. She has a ‘kinda’ boyfriend, Hunter, and swears she won’t get involved in sleuthing around in her small town’s digs.

It’s been a few years now that TJ and her extended family have raised the two younger girls, but life is about to change when a man, who claims to be her youngest sister’s father arrives for the Christmas holiday. Add to that, a murder, and you get the makings for yet another cozy mystery holiday series entry.

Christmas in Paradise was a fun read full of romantic things like sleigh rides in the snow and holiday caroling – something I’ve never done.

Oh, wait. I did go caroling in Girl Scouts one year. But I stood at the back and lipped the words because my singing voice is like lying underneath a three-ton boulder and trying to stay on tune. See, I don’t even know the right term to describe myself.

But murder is murder, and as all cozy mystery authors will agree, they are the main point of the story.

This 2014 release is certainly as entertaining six years later as it was when published and gave me a reason not to think about the things that bothered me at the time.

All in all, Christmas in Paradise gets a 5-star rating because I ALWAYS rate my reviews as 5-star. I’m not stupid. I understand how this industry works.

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Dachshund Through The Snow Right Away!

It’s almost over.


Andy Carpenter, a reluctant attorney, and his best friend Tara, a gentle, loving, and deeply loyal golden-retriever, have a habit of saving dogs and their owners from potentially hellacious fates.


In Dachshund Through the Snow, this sleuthing duo teams up with Andy’s wife Laurie Collins to help former adversary Cory Douglas, a K-9 police officer, and his German Sheppard partner Simon. Cory is facing retirement and the decision by his superiors that Simon will remain on the police force for a short while longer after Cory leaves, which means that the bonded pair will be separated for good. Carpenter must overcome his distrust of the officer he once dressed-down in court and uses his legal expertise to save the crime-fighting pair from permanent separation.


But that’s not the only challenge on Andy’s Christmas plate. There is the matter of a Christmas letter Andy receives from a boy requesting that Andy and his team find the boy’s father, who abandoned the child when he was small. Other than that, the boy says, he would like a sweater for his dachshund, who certainly MUST be cold in the winter weather.
This story is a mandatory read for every animal lover on the globe. The perfect unending relationship between man and dog that runs unfettered through this book, and all Andy Carpenter series titles.


Dachshund Through the Snow: An Andy Carpenter Mystery, (#20 of 24), is likely the final Christmas mystery that loyal cozy readers will enjoy in this series. And for dog and mystery lovers alike, reading every title between this Christmas cozy and that 24th series final book will likely inspire grief for this series, and hope for Rosenfelts’ future work.


I remember reading the first Andy Carpenter book when Tara quietly wandered her way into Andy’s heart.

I cried. I know that love. And reader, perhaps you know that love as well.
Make sure you read this title to the very last page. I’m not giving away any secrets, but, you might be surprised to learn the outcome of this story that will keep you reading all the way to the end.


Dachshund Through The Snow is a wonderful holiday read that highlights the series excellent storytelling. This title is a wondrous and inspiring Christmas story for all of us to enjoy that offers resolve, resilience, and rejuvenation to the tired holiday soul.
Merry Christmas Reader

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Fluke, Levine and Meier team up for Christmas Sweets compilation

Joanne Fluke, my personal pretend Fairy Grandmother-of-Cozy-Fiction, cannot let Christmas pass without her wise publisher presenting a title or 20 dedicated to the holiday season.

Christmas Sweets, released in 2019 just before the entire globe fell into a universal medical pandemic, is a collection of three stories by Fluke and her two friends, industry heavyweights Laura Levine and Leslie Meier.

First up? Fluke’s The Twelve Desserts of Christmas.

I first read this story in 2019 while on a 2-year (and counting) cozy-mystery binge in which I consumed more than 200 cozy-mysteries rather than deal with the tragic life-change I plummeted through at the time.

Thank God for the cozy genre.

It’s the holiday season in this Hannah Swensen Mystery title featuring, of course, Hannah Swensen, who is hired to cater a boarding school Christmas-break gathering. In addition to serving her clients’ sugary sweets, Hannah finds herself sneaking around the school’s hallowed halls to find the Scrooge who is working hard to ruin the season’s greetings and stamp out the scintillating, smoldering, then smoking fire about to ignite between two boarding school teachers.

Is Swensen successful? Now what do you think, reader?

I love this stuff.

Author Laura Levine offers this compilation’s second story, Nightmare on Elf Street.

This novella features Jaine Austin.

Hmm. That sounds familiar. Oh ya. But that’s the OTHER Jane Austin …

Our Jaine Austin Mystery series star wrestles with the winter wonderland that went way wrong with a wicked mall Santa, who somehow shows up dead.

Oops.

Of course, Janie is on the spot to solve her suspicious case, and in the end, well, you know.

Author Leslie Meier delivers the finale in this three-round Christmas collection with her Lucy Stone Mysteries series title, The Christmas Theif.

This story begins with Lucy’s daughter Elizabeth, whose Florida hotel employer stops its staff from surfing away to their next sunset holiday stop because a super special shindig sponsor’s jewels were suspiciously swept away.

Bummer.

Never fear, reader. Lucy Stone springs into service, flies to Florida, and finally finds the foul foiler.

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Ho, Ho, Ho. Two in a row. It’s Christmas novel season

It’s Christmas! Or at least that’s what this week’s novel commentator says.

Surely you agree. We need something cheerful to enjoy. After all, 2020 was a terrible year.

But reader, we all know there was plenty of good things that happened this year as well pushing humanity as a whole toward a positive future with more compassion and respect for one another.

In March of this year, I felt like Rosie Riveter making masks. It was like I imagine taking part in the World War II stateside war effort might have felt. Well, we were at war, essentially.

But after all these months of trial upon trial, I need a reality break in the worst way.


Today I’m sharing Debbie Macomber’s Christmas Letters. This little escape from reality is just as charming in 2020 as it was when it premiered. And, may I point out that in this book,, Macomber offers humanity a positive lesson: G-rated, well-written prose, carefully developed characters, and happy endings are top all-time bestseller classic novels, and are exactly what humanity needs.


And talk about a G-rated read, Christmas Letters is a squeaky clean adult novel that doesn’t rely on gratuitous indecencies to be trendy. I’d give this book to my teenagers anytime, knowing that after their read they won’t be traumatized by some author’s idea of stretching the limits of “acceptable” to succeed.


I’m in love with the strong, intelligent characters who don’t spend the entire book in a quagmire of self-doubt and isolation. I like that Christmas Letters is not an extended soap opera of words, but rather an activity to anticipate.

This darling story takes place on Blossom Street in Seattle, one of Macomber’s earliest set locals. Katherine O’Conner and Dr. Wynn Jefferies meet, insult each other, can’t stay away from each other, and ultimately force each other to grow toward more stable, healthy people – all in about four weeks.


After all, they are on Macomber’s deadline: Christmas. Katherine and Dr. Jefferies have opposing viewpoints on child-rearing and cannot see how their obvious attraction to one another would work long term.


I’ve featured several Christmas-centric novels the past several weeks, and Macomber’s Christmas Letters is just as fresh today as her modern editorial works.
My only question? Will this story’s twin-5-year-old girls make or break our main character’s will to live.

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Winterville will wake woman with wonderful wrappings

Life isn’t working out for Krista Galloway, who just received her first-ever job as City Manager in the quaint small burg of Winter Hill, located south of Spokane, Washington.


Krista, a single mother in her early 30s, and her daughter Emily arrive in Winter Hill to find the entire community deeply involved in the planning of its annual Winterville celebration of Christmas.


This year, Winterville celebration organizers will award The Christmas House – an adorable refurbished vintage house decorated to optimize the joy of the Christmas season – to the most worthy recipient through a written-nomination process explaining why they are in the most need of the cute cottage.


Krista has an issue with Christmas, however, that threatens her ability to remain in Winter Hill and give her eight-year-old daughter some stability. But Emily has other plans. This young firecracker wants a permanent home for the first time.


Born on Christmas Eve, abandoned, then raised in the foster care system, Krista flounders in a lifetime of disappointment. Yet Krista becomes college-educated, takes on a high-level white-collar career, and even after she catches her husband in a love affair, Krista’s strength and faith in God drives her to carry on.


Reader, I’ve been reading Melody Carlson’s books for 10-years now, and I like Krista Galloway. I applaud Melody Carlson for creating a strong, educated woman who overcame adversity in her life.

Christmas in Winter Hill is a relaxing, happy read to enjoy during the holiday season.
But, I’m warning you, reader, don’t get too attached to Winter Hill. Krista’s life there might not last.

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Unknowing cougar catches killer the Childs’ way

I never read a fiction story – never-the-less a cozy mystery -where the protagonist is ugly.

And in the case of cozy mysteries, not only is the heroine a spunky, independent, adventurous fireball, she’s – mostly shes – irresistible and often, as is the case here, a cougar.

Grrraaarrr.

Suzanne Dietz finds herself as the object of a teenager’s sweet affection while simultaneously engaged, and staring down the barrel of a handgun before this story ends.

Egg Shooters, is Laura Child’s 9th book in her Cackleberry Club Mystery series, and I have to admit, it cracked me up.

Our attractive, spunky, quick-thinking protagonist finds herself getting hot and spicy as this story begins at her local hospital emergency room with a pharmacy robbery and an attempted hasty retreat.

Even though Suzanne is at the hospital to deliver her homemade chili dinner to her fiance Dr. Sam Hazlet, our heroine throws the chili at the murderer who just killed a hospital security guard and is focused on killing an emergency room employee. Of course, the killer scrambles out the door and sets this egg-centric story into motion.

I LOVE Laura Childs’ books. This is not my first rodeo with this author. I will read anything with her name on it. Childs keeps readers guessing until the story’s end and thinks of imaginative, creative ways to fry the bad guy and tie the novel’s multiple plots into a satisfying end.

As I often do, I listened to this story on audio and found the narrator’s voice – and voices – hauntingly similar to the main character in a Monica Harris cozy mystery series.

But that’s the problem with narration. Once an artist is branded to a particular character, it’s hard to break out and create a series of different voices for another cozy family.

I did spend far more time than I should have thinking about how that poor narrator was branded to another cozy family. But, in the end, it doesn’t really matter because the storyline takes center stage.

Egg Shooters is not my first rodeo in the Cackleberry Club Mystery series and I admire Childs’ ability to carry these storylines through a novel set.

I got so excited when I saw this book was available for review, and just as excited to know another egg-cellent book was on its way.

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

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I was defenseless against this audiobook

Dang. I should not have waited so long. But, at least I have an excuse: I didn’t know Ask Baba Yaga: The Audio Collection existed.
I don’t know how I got through life without the sage wisdom of Baba Yaga (pronounced ba-ba, yu-gaaaa.)
This Slavic folklore witch, who hides deep in the forest somewhere I cannot pronounce seems to have every one of life’s most confounding questions answered. At least she does when online columnist Taisia Kitaiskala is channeling her.

Oh, wait a minute. Now I know how I made it through life without Baba Yaga. God.
Now, I can continue.

Ask Baba Yaga: The Audio Collection released by Andrews McMeel Publishing Company in October is without a doubt one of the most hilarious audio advice columns I’ve ever heard, even if it is the only one. This collection of Dear Abby real-life questions are being answered by Baba Yagaaaaaa herself.
Kitaiskala is a flat master of answering reader’s ridiculous, but probably privately popular, questions in the language of the Slavic forest – whatever that is.
Only this woman could tell a reader they need to pleasure themselves upside a tree. And the audio, delivered by Zura Johnson is to die for! This narrator has PEGGED Baba Yagaaaaaa,  giving her a voice that is incomparably better than reading these words online or in a book.
Just to give you some explanatory expository writing, Britannica says, Baba Yaga is actually a Slavic folklore ogress who steals, cooks, and eats her victims, usually children. Perfect. Hmm. Sounds a little Hansel and Gretelish.
Baba Yaga lives in a continually spinning hut standing on bird legs with two other sisters, also named Baba Yaga …

Efficient.

… Baba Yaga (or Yagas, I guess) has a fence that is topped with human skulls. Baba Yaga can ride through the air—in an iron kettle or in a mortar that she drives with a pestle—creating tempests as she goes. She often accompanies Death on his travels, devouring newly released souls.

Boy am I glad I’m taking advice from this woman.

But this precious audio collection is the one investment of your time that I strongly recommend. I laughed so hard when I listened to this audio – particularly the first third – that I missed my off-ramp and was howling down the freeway without abandon before I realized I blew it and was subsequently late for my appointment. When I got there, my stomach hurt. It was worth it.
Listen to a few of these ‘real’ questions:

“Am I shallow?”

“How do I meet fewer F–ks?”

“Am I the smartest person?”

These real questions are backed up by rather lengthy expository explanations of why these “real people” are asking.

Hmm. Kitaiskala is a real person …

Baba Yagaaaaaaa called one reader “a wench.”

(Don’t make Baba Yaga mad.)

She literally told another reader to pleasure himself against a tree. She described one person as someone with a “Unicorn’s Ass.”

My GOOD LORD, it was funny.

This audiobook is an absolute treasure. I give it a MUST-DO rating on the scale of distracted driving. If it were in book form, I’d buy copies for all my 20 and 30-year old kids. I will say, though, that this collection would be less hilarious without its narrator.
But it would be fabulous to put in someone’s bathroom for people who plant themselves to … well … you know. Or perusing this book after consuming some kind of alcoholic … well, … you know. The outcome would be priceless.

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Who wants the best Christmas present EVER?!

All I got for Christmas was a new life love …

Oh, that’s not the way the old song goes? Well, it is for Vivian Forest, whose daughter Maddie, a renowned apparel stylist, invites her to England for the Christmas season.

Vivian, a well-respected west coast social worker is looking down the barrel of a prestigious new work promotion in California that will pull her attention away from her personal life in the future.

Our middle-aged protagonist knows her busy life is looming and decides to accompany her daughter over the pond to England to meet a Duchess and Royal family member, who employed Maddie to dress her for the Royal Christmas season.

What Vivian does not realize, is that in addition to meeting the Duke, Duchess and Queen, she also meets a cast of other warm-hearted characters who fill her heart with new experiences and cherished future memories.

Soon after her arrival, Vivian’s love for fresh scones leads her to the massive English cottage’s kitchen, where she meets her first English friend, Julia, an incredible culinary creator. Just when Vivian bites into the warm, delicious texture of her first scone, she turns toward the door and sees the most handsome man in England.

It is love at first sight … or at least strong attraction at first sight. I’ll bet you can guess what happens next.

Forgive me reader for being uninformed and rather dull, but I listened to this brand new Berkley reprint on audio and was not familiar with the author, Jasmine Guillory. I’d heard she was a rising star as a romance author … probably a shining star by now … but that’s about it. I wanted to check out her work, and when I found it on Libby – my library audio app – as a librarian recommended audio book, I snatched it up as fast as my spiny finger could leave the bread of my sandwich and hit the “borrow” button.

I was enchanted by this story. But despite this title being the fourth of five titles in Guillory’s Wedding Date series, until the meeting of these two characters, I did not realize they were black.

Why does that make a difference? Because our characters discuss what it’s like to be black in the Royal cabinet – something I embarrassingly admit – never thought about.

This fact comes to attention when Vivian asks her new beau, Malcolm, what it is like to be black in service for the English Royalty and if there are others like him.

Malcolm is the Oxford-educated personal secretary to the Queen, and his reactions are fascinating to this reader.

Vivian and Malcolm become the main focus of this darling Wedding Date series book that does not leave romance readers disappointed.

The fact that Royal Holiday is a brand new reprint proves it is a gem. It is an uplifting light read for the holidays.

Listening to this story on audio while buzzing around Southern California worked against me to some extent.  It cost me a little extra gas for my car since I took the long route more than once just to hear a little more of this charming story.

Perhaps we can agree, reader. There are certain times in life when everyone needs to check out of the stressful day-to-day rush of the season and heart-crushing world events, and relax in the comfort of a wonderful story.

Come rest with Jasmine Guillory … me, and the thousands of other readers of this wonderful book. You won’t be disappointed.

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Stop walking on eggshells and read this book

People. They’re the worst.

That saying might be a tired old cliché to some readers, but for the people this book was written for, that phrase is personal. Lord knows that it is in my case.

I first heard about Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder, in 2017 from my therapist, who explained that I did not have to exist in the whirlwind of dysfunction and anger that surrounds people close to me who suffer from mental health issues like Borderline Personality Disorder.

In my case, I always think the problem is … well … me. I’m always looking for the thing that will fix the problem, make the other person happy, calm, satisfied, (Insert adjective to describe your situation here.) I am a person who stands back from life, shocked usually, wondering what on earth I did to cause these other people to react the way they do.

Authors Paul T.T. Mason and Randi Kreger ask readers some poignant questions about this conundrum in their fully-revised and updated third-edition Harbinger Publication classic.

“Do you feel manipulated, controlled, or lied to?” Mason and Kreger write. “Are you the focus of intense, violent, and irrational rages? Do you feel you are ‘walking on eggshells’ to avoid the next confrontation? If the answer is ‘yes,’ someone you care about may have borderline personality disorder (BPD)—a mood disorder that causes negative self-image, emotional instability, and difficulty with interpersonal relationships.”

Walking on Eggshells will help you learn what you can do, reader, to extricate yourself from the continual cycle of greif and pain caused by living near a person with this mental health illness.

Mason and Kreger share the industry’s latest research on comorbidity – the simultaneous presence of two or more diseases or medical conditions in a patient; which was the case in one of my situations.

Walking on Eggshells provides extensive new information about narcissistic personality disorder, the effectiveness of schema therapy, and how you can use coping and communication skills to stabilize your relationships.

This book is a compassionate approach to a difficult life problem that will help you set boundaries, stop relying on dangerous behaviors, make sense out of chaos, assert your own needs, defuse arguments and conflicts, and protect yourself and others from violent behaviors.

One phrase people around me chanted over and over for many years actually eventually stuck with me. And finally, along with other circumstances, it prompted me to do something to improve my future.

I hated it when people kindly reminded me: “You don’t have to live this way,” again and again. They all seemed so smug.

But reader, it’s true. You don’t. No one is demanding you depart your situation or change your future trajectory. All those choices are yours alone. But, instead, this book seeks to educate you about what is whirring around you, and make decisions that are best for you and those you love.

So, reader, if you are in this situation, please give this book a try. It sold more than a million copies in its first two editions for a reason. It can educate you. It can help.

And, let me be the one to humbly – without any smugness involved – remind you now: You don’t have to live this way.

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Romance readers will love this Brunstettler collection

I wonder what it feels like to be a decorated, well-known globally-published fiction author for more than 30 years. Wanda E. Brunstettler would know. By the time I found one of her best-selling Amish fiction titles in this sadly archaic building once called a “Christian Bookstore” back in the 1990s, she already topped the famous author’s A-list for years on end.
I collected her titles in those days and snuck them out late at night when my mind was still racing and my family was asleep.

It’s nice to know that some things never change. Or do they?

Brumstettler’s new title, “A Heartwarming Romance Collection,” delivers on its title perfectly. This set of three novellas is … well … interesting, as my father would say with his nose in the air.

This collection of romances are not bad in any way. I certainly don’t want to harm her brand or her God. (Kidding about God. He’s my God too.) This collection just feels … well, … unpolished.

Don’t get me wrong. A Heartwarming Romance Collection is in perfect alignment with every other cliché romance tome so popular with women today. But to me, it feels rough.

These character’s motives, actions, thoughts, are obvious, predictable, and well … let me just say it … cliché. Ouch.

This collection makes me wonder if these stories were generated from the author’s early-career practice file and pulled out at the last minute, then thrown into a desktop publishing template for quick production.

I feel guilty for suggesting these stories could be better with a little more attention to the subtle transition toward what we all thrill to learn the story’s final outcome.

I swear – when I finally get my own fiction series in print, this aspect of publication will be a particularly important point of contention.

I am also going with characters who possess at least an adequate level of self-esteem.

Common people. Don’t you know these readers dive into this fiction, then pretend it’s real life? At least mentor a healthy self attitude for them. I get the arch theory of change in storytelling. I get the satisfactory resolve. But please! Find a different device.

I know my characters can operate without drowning in self-pity or being hell-bent to net themselves a man in order to be happy.

I must not be too hard on this title. After all, authors give the public what the public wants. And Lord, I don’t want to blackball my own self from these wonderful review opportunities.

But I do think today’s reader is moving on from the place of low self-esteem, and into a mindset of more confident life assessments and positive moving forward.

All that negativity said, A Heartwarming Romance Collection is a gentle, predictable, safe read for Brustettler fans and man millions of light-fiction fans around the globe.

I have no doubt this title will hit the bestseller’s list and stay ensconced there for weeks into the future. And I am glad for that.

Perhaps I am petty and jealous. This cliché fiction is outrageously popular. Thus the word cliché. Or, perhaps … pause … pause … pause for dramatic emphasis … it’s time for a change.

Boy meets girls, falls in love, and rides into the sunset … blaug. Where is the tragic and traumatic ending?! Just kidding. Don’t we all yearn for this scenerio?

ml@michellelovato.com BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Buy Piper Green and the Fairy Tree for all young readers with confidence

I admire children’s book authors for their ability to climb into the mindset of a child and relate an important life-lesson to them with words and images that burn happy memories into their brains forever.

Piper Green and the Fairy Tree written by Ellen Potter and illustrated by Qin Leng is an early-readers chapter book released on audio by Live Oak Media in September 2020. It is narrated by Tavia Gilber, who does a charming job bringing the voice of young Piper to life.

Piper Green is starting second grade. She lives on an island, rides a ferryboat to school, has a special shield to ward off irritating boys, and thinks her new teacher has glorious wavy blonde princess hair.

Piper thinks second grade is going to be the best year ever, even though its the first year her beloved big brother has moved away from home and into a boarding school dormitory.

But when Piper arrives on her first day of school and learns her princess teacher wants her to remove the monkey ear muffs her big brother just gave her, Piper realizes second grade is going to be the worst year of her life.

This darling early-reader chapter book is a fabulous find for school and home, libraries and even listening to on audio while riding in the car with mom or dad.

Potter does a wonderful job executing this touching story of a little girl, her big brother and the lesson of relinquishing something very special.

My eight-year-old granddaughter and seven-year-old grandson would love this book, which they would blaze through during reading time or after school. Both young readers would have no trouble relating to Piper or her story in this touching tale.

Let me throw in one personal note, reader.

From the time our three girls could sit in our laps, my husband and I shared our love for imagination and story.  Our weekly visits to the public library’s storytime were an invaluable contribution. Our girls grew to be well spoke, well read adults, blessed to offer the world an enhanced version of themselves.

Books like Piper Green and the Fairt Tree need to be in every child’s hands, whether it is physica, digital, on the shelves of their libraries, in their homes or filling their young ears with love and wonder while listening to audio in the car.

My true and intense desire is to see stories by this author, and many others, form the backbone of happy memories for your children and grandchildren for many years to come.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Wrap yourself up and relax with this inspiring Christmas romance

The Christmas season is not complete, in my opinion, until I read at least one Christmas novel. And though Wrapped in Christmas Joy, by Janice Lynn is my first Christmas novel for this season, it isn’t the last.

Like all holiday fiction, Wrapped in Christmas Joy offers readers the eternal gift of love, joy, and a warm inspired heart, and, as a bonus, this lovely story is wrapped up with a pretty Christmas bow at the end.

Awww. So sweet. True love in its purest form. Couldn’t we all use a little love in our life. I know in mine, this is about as close and I am going to get.

The plot of Wrapped in Christmas Joy, is an old standard; boy meets girl … yada yada yada … and everything turns out wonderful. This story, however, has a deep military-service undertone that addresses their heroic and often difficult-to-overcome service to the United States, and the too-common consequences that arrive home within the hearts of military members who see conflict during their service.

Our protagonist, Sophie,Davis, is a sweet young adult who owns a quilt shop with her sister and is living life with a loving heart and empty arms. Sophie and her sister have a connection to the struggle former combat members suffer because their father, an Iraq veteran, abandoned them as children.

Our hero, Cole Aaron, is a recently released military veteran whose name describes him well;: He is cold, and burning hot.

Left alone, Sophie and Cole would never hook up, even though the couple’s private thoughts are irresistibly drawn to one another. But, just like Cinderella’s Fairy God Mother, the “Butterflies” quilting group intervenes to help true love and healing blossom in the young couple’s hearts.

Wrapped in Christmas Joy is the epitome of a Christmastime chick flick. And it’s worth every minute that screams past as you read or listen to this book on audio.

My suggestion is this, reader: Put down the cookies – or maybe serve yourself another plate of cookies – grab this book, wrap yourself up in your favorite quilt, climb into your soft, comfy bed next to your purring cat, and enjoy this inspiring read. It won’t take you long to realize that each stage of Wrapped in Christmas Joy is yet another stitch in another Hallmark Publishing classic love story.

I’m such a sap … I love this stuff.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Changing your experience is within your grasp

The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD: A Guide to Overcoming Obsessions & Compulsions Using Mindfulness & Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Second Edition, by Jon Hershfield, MFT and Tom Corboy, MFT – A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook, offers readers a therapist in a book; a rescue inhaler for those struggling to push breath in and out of their bodies during each minute of their struggles.

Mindfulness Workbook

According to Hershfield and Corboy, 2.3 percent of the population struggle with obsession, unwanted intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. The OCD Workbook is designed to help readers reduce or avoid the discomfort of those tiring maladies.

This book was created to discuss how “mindfulness” can be used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder in combination with a type of treatment called “cognitive behavioral therapy. Patients, however, can successfully interact with the OCD Workbook whether or not they are in active therapy. 

“You’re not just anxious. There’s something sharp jabbing into your mind. But all is not lost. Although your suffering may e great, your ability to change this experience is within your grasp,” Hershfield and Corboy write.

The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD is put together in three sections:

  1. To develop a basic understanding of the relationship between mindfulness, cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy.
  2. To break down common obsessions found in OCT and describe how much the use of mindfulness can help.
  3. To explore other details of living with OCD and using mindfulness to maintain healthy relationships.

Hershfield and Corboy intersperse the OCD Workbook with questions posed to readers in an effort to help control the continuous struggle with roaming-thought-problems. It’s advice is presented in a logical, understandable and encouraging way.

“Once you educate, and remove the unknown … (It is possible to turn) OCD aspects of your life into something positive or at least manageable on a day-to-day basis,” Hershfield and Corboy write.

The greatest mindfulness challenge for the OCD sufferer is to respond non-judgmentally to physical sensations, he says.

“Mindfulness asks that you view physical sensations just as you see thoughts and feelings. They are experiences. Pain is pain, and we all agree that it feels bad. But if you let it feel bad and leave it at that, then you maintain clarity,” Hershfield and Corboy write. “Clarity is what enables you to see the difference between a headache and a brain tumor. In other words, see physical sensations as what the are and observe your urges to define them as what they could be.”

Mindfulness is setting time aside from a single moment to several hours, to stop resisting the present moment and just observe it … tether  your attention to one thing (erg. the experience of breathing, sitting, or hearing) and acknowledge when you attention strays from that thing. Then, begin again with your attention on the first thing without judging yourself for having wandered, they say.

Whether you are considering the OCD workbook for yourself or someone else, as a gift or as a much-appreciated tool that can help you face your daily struggles, this book is going to help and could easily be the lifesaver OCD patients are looking to find.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Was Sabotage written for me? Ouch.

I told my therapist last Friday how deeply, Sabotage by Emma Gannon, changed my outlook on life.

Released in late September by Andrews McMeel Publishing, this non-fiction title fit my description of the perfect self-help book.

My perimeters? It helped.

I dislike those self-help authors who appear to think that filling my head with their lengthy resumes will somehow convince me to swallow their message hook, line and sinker.

Perhaps that is why I am seeing a therapist. Hmm.

But this author was “asingin’ my song,” as my mother once said.

Gannon is a self-described woman and works as a “creative” in the fast-paced world of filmmaking, writing, marketing, and speaking.

Hopefully, she won’t be speaking about me. Oh wait, this book could have been written for me.

Bummer.

Gannon is ultra-experienced in the “Interaction-With-Jealous-Coworkers-And-Friends-Who-Are-Girls-Or-Cads,” department. Gannon has dished and been dished enough to realize that she too, actively engaged in self-sabotage. So active in fact, she could write a book.

Hmm. I feel that experienced too. What would my book be titled? How to Ensure You Destroy Your Own Day, Everyday? Accurate. I wonder how many people would read it?

Here are a few questions intended to identify toxic relationships in your life, according to Gannon:

Are you scared to tell them good news? Well, that eliminates most of my nuclear family.

When you tell them good news, do they look pleased or pained? Seriously? Some of my relatives try to stop my good news from happening.

Do they try to hold you back from trying new things: Ever heard of the word GUILT?!

You feel yourself becoming less and less confident around them? Are you supposed to feel confident after being with them?

Gannon’s book is so readable, or in this case, listen-to-ale, because she pegs the human tendency to set oneself ablaze with thoughts and actions that burn our own self-worth and desire to keep climbing toward our potential straight to the ground.

Hey, you commuters!

Sabotage is an audiobook, easy to access, and quick to understand. It’s cheap therapy from someone whose been there, (remember, you are NOT alone,) and a much more fulfilling choice for tolerating bad driving and For-No-Reason-Traffic, than listening to your favorite shock jock; imbibing yourself silly before you hit the road – figuratively or literally; or in California at least, finding … ah … OTHER ways to ease your tension in life.

WARNING: If you dare listen to Gannon’s Sabotage, you might just find all those “friends” and “helpmates” in your past life were actually right about some pretty unfortunate things and that after all your fighting, the root of your problem … is you

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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I Forced a Bot to Write This Book is funny, I think

Mad Libs meet 2020 in Keaton Patti’s new book “I Forced a Bot to Write This Book.”

Or, for you Millennial readers, RI meets BS, which translates to old readers like me as, RI meets Bullshit, I think.

This creative collection of 1,000 computer hours smashed in between two covers is strange, to say the least. Patti was brilliant just conceiving and developing this idea, and genius in executing this title.

I Forced a Bot to Write This Book is very … Millennial, I think. Or is it Gen Z?

I’m on the cusp of the Baby Boomer and Clueless Generation, which, in this case makes sense. Coming from a 56-year-old befuddled person, the best way to describe I Forced a Bot to Write This Book is that this title is computer science meets pop culture, meets every Starbucks drinker on the globe, I think.

It is an assortment of computer-generated conversations that address popular common cultural norms, like dating profiles and TV scripts for The Office, Family Guy and Mr. Rogers from the viewpoint of a computer.

The reader, in this case … me, gets a front-row view of what television, computer interaction and knock-knock jokes are like from the point of a bunch of zeros and ones. (Which is the atom of computer science for all of you who think I lost my mind.)

Patti includes computer-generated country song lyrics, romance novels, mommy blogs, poetry … pretty much everything “Millennial.”

Years ago, when I thought things were funny I went to a book signing by a former LA Times writer who penned a collection of letters in which the author, who acted as an anonymous American consumer, asked high-power mainstream corporations like Coca-Cola outrageously ridiculous questions and making equally obviously absurd requests. The letters he wrote were poking fun at forced political correct tactics company CEOs subscribed to when dealing with a nutcase … and the general public. The Fortune-500-company replies and concessions were drop-dead hilarious.

Now that I think of it, that book could have been called a knock-off of Candid Camera. But that reference really ages me, and Allen Funk isn’t here to defend himself. Besides, the Punk’d television series was the most immediate knock-off of that show.

Aannyy who … as Steve Erkle would say … (It’s another old reference for you Millennials out there.) I Forced a Bot to Write This Book is today’s version of those timeless classics that spoof the current world and capture the hearts of their generations.

So lap it up Millennials. This is your youth, your world. But watch out you caffeinated hipsters, the Gen Z’ers are right behind you, and by the time you are my age, there is a very high likelihood that everything you attempt to review is going to cause absolute confusion.

That, dear reader, I am sure about. Now I need to figure out what RI means.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Ex wife regrets the day she met Paul West – and his murder

Happy trails to you …

Hm, hm ……. hm, hm…….hm, hm, hmmmm …

Beaches, Bungalows & Burglaries

Beaches, Bungalows and Burglaries: Camper and Criminals Cozy Mystery Series by Tonya Kappes has nothing to do with Roy Rogers, the 1950’s-era movie star who made that song famous. But it does have something to do with happy trails. Happy Trails Campground in Normal Kentucky, that is.

Eye sawear reader, I am thinkin’ with a Kentuuucky draaawl rite naw. It’s kinda fun.

Beaches, Bungalows and Burglaries is the first in this series and introduces us to Mae West, a heroine whom everyone she meets insists on calling her by her first and last name. That’s a problem for Mae because she was forced into the camper in which she lives and into Normal Kentucky, thanks to her husband, Paul West, a big city snake oil salesman who took the life-savings of just about everybody in Normal and used it to provide Mae a lavish lifestyle, then lost it after being busted for running a ponzi scheme.

Now, Mae Waaest faces the exhausting devastation her swindler husband, EX HUSBAND, reigned down on all those he conned, after Paul West is busted, tried, jailed, escaped and found dead in Normal’s Happy Trails RV Park pond. Mae’s only possession after the trial,  is an old pop-up rolling camper and the deed to Happy Trails RV Park.

Now on a mission to restore Happy Trails Campground and the entire town of Normal, Mae Waaest digs deep into her husband’s secrets and those of the town folk to find the killer of Paul West.

As a lot of books I read, or in this case, listen to on audio, this one is formulaic and twisted. Its resolve was a challenge to reach. And, as always with cozy mysteries, I found myself playing along with Mae Waaest while she searched for her husband’s killer. I like the cozies in which I cannot guess the killer. And this one took me all the way to the end before I learned the mysterious criminal’s identity.

I must report, however, that my first brush with this audio took me back a bit, because the narrator made Mae West sound hauntingly familiar.

Who the heck was that? Oh ya. She was a sound double for Meg Ryan’s racy, super rich twin sister in “Joe Versus the Volcano.”  (Which, by the way, encapsulates the story of mankind in his search for meaning, and is stunningly good.)

Once I pegged that drawl, I couldn’t help also recognizing part of the “Sweet Home Alabama” storyline and the sound double of Dorthea, the hometown gural who helped Reese Weatherspoon’s character re assimilate into small-town life.

Beaches, Bungalows and Burglaries was charming, and I fell in love with its characters’ personality quirks. It wasn’t long before I forgot all about the voices and enjoyed the happy trails of Mae West’s new adventure in Normal Kentucky.

On an important side note; I got this title from “Libby,” s public library audio tool used in libraries across the country and intended to allow readers to hear their stories instead of read them. I highly recommend it.  But, before I got my chance to listen to this wonderful cliché look into rural Kentucky, I was forced to wait for weeks until other readers listened to it first.

Perhaps, reader, that waitin’ list all by itself testifies that Beaches, Bungalows and Burglaries will send your cozy mystery-lovin’ heart rite awn dauwn happy trails.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Darling dog offers outstanding grip on grace

I’ve decided it would be great to be a dog … especially the blonde Twitter pooch who penned the most charming gift and tabletop book I have ever seen.

Authored by Twitter sensation Matt Nelson and released Oct 27 by Andrews McMeel Publishing, Thought of Dog is a 100-page delight featuring, a very special dog whose favorite thing in life is to live it alongside his owner, “the human” and with Sebastian, his stuffed elephant best friend.

When I began reading this adorable book, I was a bit confused.

Terrible spelling, grammar, and punctuation that distracted me so much I questioned whether this book was edited. I kept thinking this book is written so poorly, it could easily be penned by a dog.

Dah. (Insert V8 head slap here.)

Once I comprehended this first-person text was the story of a dog’s life, written by the dog, I was not only enchanted but knew it was perfect.

Thoughts of Dog was a true page-turner. I couldn’t wait to see what this sweetheart of a pooch was going to say next. It wasn’t long before I started contemplating how fun living a dog’s life would be.

After all, “Everyone should experience the joy of sticking their tongue out of a moving vehicle,” this dog writes in his book.

Thoughts of Dog was an oddly calming reminder that we humans spend too much of our lives in a state of stress and production, when clearly, the innocent loving demeanor of this dog and his faithful “fren” Sebastian is a far better road to follow. Thoughts of Dog makes me want to hug someone – perhaps my own Labrador retriever.

I saw Thoughts of Dog as a message to human readers that while we exist in this world of responsibility and pressure, our dog friends live in a world of love and service.

This is an excellent Christmas or Hanukkah present for the stressed-out reader who needs a reminder that innocence and kindness still exist.

Silly humans. We still think making money and gaining success is the way to go.

Reader, I promise you, after you are finished enjoying Thoughts of Dog, you too will realize that seeking happiness just rose to a whole new level.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Absolutely everything is absolutely … long

If you ever wanted to know intimate details about the Earth’s history, then Absolutely Everything! History, Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and other things too numerous to mention, by Christopher Lloyd, is the book for you.

I listened to this youth-directed audiobook – or at least skipped around considerably out of sheer frustration and boredom – over the course of a few weeks.

Absolutely Everything is a thorough, well-researched history of ancient times … emphasis on “ancient” times. The final chapter, however, covers the 1940s to now.

I do have a beef with this title and it has nothing to do with the quality of this author’s work or the work of the narrator.

Its title, Absolutely Everything,etc. etc. has one enormous hole that, frankly, squelched my interest in listening to this audio word-for-word. 

I felt like I was being duped.

Just like the idea behind attending a university to learn diverse viewpoints and opinions, this academic explanation of our Earth’s inception and development deserves to address the weighty human belief that there are other Earth-inception theories and belief systems.

I doubt Lloyd was around to see the Big Bang. And that’s another thing … I thought there was no sound in space …

Even I, a relative moron compared to Lloyd’s vast knowledge base, know that human beings have more than one explanation about how this colorful round globe about to be wiped out by a host of different possibilities, came to be.

My first introduction to alternative theories was zoroastrianism in junior college.

Yes. I went to junior college. There were not many scholars out there just itching to award me a scholarship. Surprised?

Back to my point. What about Greek mythology? I thought Atlas was holding the globe afloat. So does Hollywood, by the appearances of their Oscars. Then there is Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and a wide variety of Indian nations that all have different explanations about how the Earth bounced into reality.

Absolutely. This book is scientifically presented, focused on the destruction of our Earth by the thoughtless acts of mankind, and is genuinely solid in its lengthy, detailed presentation … emphasis on lengthy.

But its absolute one-sidedness about the creation of Earth aimed at young readers, bothers me.

But Michelle, you say … the Bible is equally one-sided. So is the Koran, the Book of Mormon and the Tanakh. Why should Absolutely Everything be held to a different standard?

Touche.

Note to self: Stop arguing with yourself so much.

Perhaps the answer here is a warning label like the movies, that we can apply to the literature we give our kids. This book, the Bible, Koran, ancient Greek Mythology, or Grimms’ Fairy Tales should carry a warning:

This information is one-sided.

Oh wait. I just described the news.

Absolutely Everything: Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and other things too numerous to mention is a good book. It incorporates more knowledge and information I could fantasize about learning in two lifetimes. Lloyd is an excellent, thorough author and the audio is very “interesting” sounding.

Just give this book to your kids with this message in mind:

It’s not everything.

By the way, smartassery is my specialty.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Flower grows a beauty with her new cozy mystery series

Author Amanda Flowers’ new book Dead End Detective, is the start of something beautiful … again.

Dead-End Detective: A Piper and Porter Mystery from Hallmark Publishing is the first in her new series featuring Darby Porter, a young, sparky, single detective who co-owns Two Girls Detective Agency with her close friend, Samantha Porter.

And Darby is happily enjoying a wonderful life and career until her business partner announces she is dissolving their company.

Less than 24-hours later, Darby’s partner is dead, and she is the most likely suspect for Samantha’s murder.

Though Darby is devastated by her life’s tragic turn and uncertain future, it is Samantha who proves she’s always known what is best for Darby’s future.

Motivation, opportunity, and method could not be more fun.

Amanda Flowers’ cozies are among my favorite series’ in the 150-plus cozy mystery books I’ve consumed in the past two years. Her story-telling is easy, amusing, and always keeps me guessing. I like her perky characters and am always hungry for more at the end of her reads.

It was my special pleasure to listen to this book on audio, which was narrated by Laura Faye Smith and produced by Dreamscape Media.

Smith’s portrayal of Darby and her co-cast members was right on target. I was focused on Flowers’ storytelling and not Smiths’ voice the entire time, which in my opinion is exactly what a narrator should do; disappear into the story and allow the author to work her magic.

Flower and several other authors in her genre continue to further solidify why cozy mysteries are so much fun, and why, in three years, I will write my own cozy mystery series on the market. What writer can read this genre and not want to jump into this pool?

I give Dead End Detective a 5 on my Color Commentary scale.

I cannot wait to get my hands on Flowers’ next title.

Dead End Detective: A Piper Porter Mystery hit the shelves Aug. 25, 2020. Her next title, Candy Cane Crime: An Amish Candy Shop Mystery will be released Oct. 27.

For more information about Flowers’ books, visit her website at www.amandaflowers.com. You will not be disappointed. See my reviews at michellelovatosbookreviews.wordpress.com.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Overground Railroad: Why this book is personal

I admit it. I am a privileged middle-aged white woman who struggled through life to understand or genuinely feel the deep horror and resentment African American men and women still tolerate in this country today.  Until, that is, I listened to Candacy Taylor’s book Overground Railroad on audio.

Overground Railroad by Candacy Taylor

It is ignorance, really, that keeps me on that level of “privilege.” Ignorance, lack of education or experience, combined with the distinct absence of culture in my own life has contributed to this problem. I do not consider myself racist. But, thanks to Taylor’s book, I now consider myself uneducated, void of a sharp continuing hatred with which I will never become aquainted.

Overground Railroad is of personal importance to me. My hometown of Apple Valley, CA, appears in the Green Book.

Nolie and Lela Murray, who owned the Murray’s Overall Wearing Dude Ranch, ran the only black-owned dude ranch in the country at that time.

I did a considerable amount of studying their lives when I wrote about the Murrays in my first Arcadia book, Images of America: Apple Valley. I grew to respect them through that study, and I saw a time of inequity that laid sorrow on my heart. I knew that despite the discrimination of most people around them, the Murray’s welcomed everyone of every skin color into their home and business from the day they arrived in Apple Valley in the young 1900s. I respected them. I knew their contribution to black history through their dude ranch was courageous and important.

But I did not realize the magnitude of extensive all-consuming love Nolie and Lela Murray gifted the world during that time of hatred until I listened to Taylor’s book.

I did not “read” the stories of Taylor’s ancestors; the ones that inspired the Green Book’s publication.

I heard them. I heard their depth and emotion for the very first time. I was stunned.

The extent of my black history knowledge circled high school history class sections featuring slavery, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird, that a civil rights movement occured and Martin Luther King was a great man. I thought after the 60s, racism disappeared.

Admittedly again, I grew up in Southern California, attended a black majority high school and most of my close friends throughout my life were black as well.

I had no idea that in the 1930s and beyond, a black family who simply wanted to vacation or travel put chauffeur’s hats in their car to excuse and dumb-down their presence and status in life to any random asshole who had the audacity to harass them. I had no idea they were denied food, gas and lodging.

Through Taylor’s book, I heard fear. I heard humiliation. I heard the acceptance of living in a very broken country full of human beings who were told they were free, then jailed in shame and outcast to levels lower than the family dog. I heard anger.

The Murray’s jumped back to my mind.

In my earlier research, I’d read about their toughness, their spirit of service and their keen business sense. But when I looked at my knowledge of the Murray’s dude ranch through the eyes of this book, I lost my breath.  And the reality and weight of outragous sacrifice to humanity the Murray’s portrayed covered me with awe.

My heart became heavy. Very heavy. While my ancestors were demeaning those like them, they were loving people like me. 

If there was ever a story waiting to be written, this is it. I want to share their message very fervently.

The site of their lives is about five miles out of Apple Valley now and Murray’s Overall Wearing Dude Ranch is an empty field. There is a mobile home park and a gas station across the street.

Before this book I visited that site with respect, and now thanks to Taylor’s compelling narrative, I can go out there with a different perspective. I can look across the dirt and creosote bushes and see Nolie and Lela, their buildings, their outreach. I can smell Lela’s fabulous cooking. I can see the massive Easter Sunday services they organized for years on end.

I can see the Murrays and hear them and feel them around me, and I have a heaviness on my heart to share the kind of love they their shared too.

I am changed. I am glad.

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Traveler’s guide captures history and tragedy of racism

Overground Railroad, by Candacy Taylor is nothing short of earth-shattering.


This immediate classic, released on Tantor Audio at the end of September 2020, was originally released in hardback by Abrams Books January.


In Overground Railroad, Taylor tells the story of being black in a racist society through the creation of the Green Book, a black traveler’s annual guide that directed scared, mistreated, and degraded travelers throughout the country. The Green Book was a collection of black-owned and black-friendly businesses that welcomed their company.

Created by Victor Hugo Green in 1936, the Green Books captured a time in America when racism was overtly observed, often legal, expected and enforced.

Within the covers of the Green Book, travelers could find black-owned restaurants, gas stations, and hotels. Green held a lifelong dedication to the Green Book’s publication, imploring travelers to carry it because “You might just need it.”

To further prove that dedication, throughout its publication, Green worked full time as a mail carrier and made little more money on the Green Book than it cost to produce.
Candacy covers black travelers’ subjection to Jim Crow Laws, sundowner towns and miles upon miles of nowhere to obtain gas or eat food.

Heartbreaking to listen to on audio, this author enlightens its readers to the reality of the time and the great compromises black travelers were forced to make because of their skin color.

Taylor tells the stories of black soldiers denied the simple respect of driving peacefully through the country they served during times of war and the nationwide group of black-owned businesses who provided safe shelter to those soldiers and all other black travelers who took to the roads.

Narrated by Lisa Reneé Pitts, Overground Railroad is an eye-opening non-fiction classic regardless of how the reader consumes its’ information.
Pitts is authentic in her narration and able to emphasize Candacy’s words in times of necessity.

Overground Railroad is an honest, stark education to readers and a perfect way to share the humiliating plight of black travelers with readers of all ages.
Overground Railroad would be particularly helpful in high school classrooms as required reading. Its honesty is the perfect jumping-off point for conversation, communication, and understanding. Taylor’s story-telling is real and unsheltered.

Overground Railroad, regardless of what form you choose to embrace, is a read well worth reader’s time. But beware, you might just learn your own great grandparents and grandparents wielded the heavy hands of that racism generations before you were born.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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The Seraph Seal: a creative, heavily-researched fiction interpretation of Revelation

Now that the weather is becoming gloomy and the days short, I find it’s the perfect time to get around to a few reads I’ve put on the shelf over the summer. So I sat down recently, pondering a stack of books with great potential and too many words for me to conquer in a weekend.
The first book on my to-read list was The Seraph Seal, a Thomas Nelson title by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner.
The Seraph Seal is a book best enjoyed with an open mind. Set in 2048, this is the authors’ interpretation of what the unknown future Apocalypse might hold.
Like so many other well-meaning authors Sweet and Wagner venture to tell a fictional story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse talked about in the book of Revelation.
Biblically speaking, while I agree with some potential end-times ideas played out by these horsemen, I do not subscribe to all of them. None the less, I enjoyed reading this interpretation because I was able to apply an important lesson I learned from reading the Shack.
The Bible says that no man can know the time or place of the coming of the Lord, but every man is invited to search the deep mysteries of the Bible. And the Shack taught me to consider other people’s ideas, compare them to the Word of God and let the Holy Spirit move me toward belief or disbelief.
A fiction story is a fiction story – even if it’s based on the Holy Word of God.
As an end note, I respect the time, knowledge and study it took these authors to produce The Seraph Seal.

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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Even seemingly-boring reference materials deserve review – and promotion

By Michelle Lovato
World’s first book color commentator
Assistant City Editor
Lake Chelan Mirror Newspaper
http://www.lakechelan.com

EDITOR’S NOTE: The book commentary listed below features Peterson Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes, Second Edition by Lawrence M. Page and Brooks M. Burr; Illustrated by Eugene C. Beckham, Justin Sipiorski, Joseph Tomelleri and John P. Sherrod.
But the name of the previously mentioned title is sooo long and boring that if I put it in the actual commentary, I would be compelled to strip my own self of any future book commentary on the grounds of being void of any ability to provide even the least bit of entertainment or color to the reader while reviewing a seemingly-snoozable title.

Peterson Field Guide to Fish of North America North of Mexico is one of those books a fishing advocate can’t live without. Regardless of where you live, this book is an angler’s best friend.
Highlighting 1,000 North American fresh water fish, Peterson’s Field Guide offers readers new maps, new plates and new information.
New species were discovered, others were re-positioned in different families.
The 689-page whale of a reference book is full of color and black and white illustrations of the inhabitants of North American fresh water.
I don’t know about you, reader, by thumbing through this interesting field guide reminds me about how incredible God is for creating such variety and beauty that thrives in the water below us.
Since its first publication in 1990 Peterson Field Guide to Fish of North America North of has been the primary identification resource for North American fish.
One thing is certain – no, two things: There’s nothing fishy about this title and God is great.

EDITOR’S ADDENDUM: Okay, this really is a snoozable title. But there is someone out there that will love it. You should see how many angler enthusiasts we have at home here in the Pacific Northwest. For everyone else, never mind…

ml@michellelovato.com     BoutiqueBooks@hotmail.com

Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things. Psalm 128: 1-2

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