Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Dreaming Sophia - Melissa Muldoon

Title: Dreaming Sophia: Because dreaming is an art
Author: Melissa Muldoon
Pages: 234
Published: 2016
Genre: Romance
Edition: Paperback
Source: I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest revew
 

Description:  
Dreaming Sophia is a magical look into Italy, language, art, and culture. It is a story about turning dreams into reality and learning to walk the fine line between fact and fantasy. When tragedy strikes, Sophia finds herself alone in the world, without direction and fearful of loving again. With only her vivid imagination to guide her, she begins a journey that will take her from the vineyards in Sonoma, California to a grad school in Philadelphia and, eventually, to Italy: Florence, Lucca, Rome, Verona, Venice, and Val d’Orcia.

​Through dreamlike encounters, Sophia meets Italian personalities—princes, poets, duchesses, artists, and film stars— who give her advice to help put her life back together. Following a path that takes her from grief to joy, she discovers the source of her creativity and learns to love again, turning her dreams into reality.

Buy the Book:  


Author's Bio:

Melissa Muldoon is the Studentessa Matta-the crazy linguist! In Italian, "matta" means "crazy" or "impassioned". Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master's degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence.

Melissa promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog, Studentessa Matta (studentessamatta.com). Melissa began the Matta blog to improve her command of the language and to connect with other language learners. It has since grown to include a podcast, "Tutti Matti per l'Italiano" and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Tours, which she co-leads with Italian partners in Italy.

Dreaming Sophia is Melissa's first novel. It is a fanciful look at art history and Italian language and culture, but it is also the culmination of personal stories and insights resulting from her experiences living in Italy, as well as her involvement and familiarity with the Italian language, painting, and art history.

As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family. She studied art history and painting and took beginner Italian classes. When she returned home, she threw away her Italian dictionary, assuming she'd never need it again but after launching a successful design career and starting a family, she realized something was missing in her life. That "thing" was the connection she had made with Italy and the friends who live there. Living in Florence was indeed a life-changing event! Wanting to reconnect with Italy, she decided to start learning the language again from scratch. As if indeed possessed by an Italian muse, she bought a new Italian dictionary and began her journey to fluency-a path that has led her back to Italy many times and enriched her life in countless ways.
Now, many dictionaries and grammar books later, she dedicates her time to promoting Italian language studies, further travels in Italy, and sharing her stories and insights about Italy with others. When Melissa is not traveling in Italy, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is married and has three boys and two beagles.

Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Dreaming Sophia. She also designed the Dreaming Sophia website and created the character illustrations that can be found in the book and on the Dreaming Sophia websites.

Connect with the Author:  



Book Trailer:





Thoughts:

Despite it taking me a little bit to get a rhythm going with the book, I really enjoyed the book. I quite enjoyed how Sophia was drawn and how her character went about her journey and how it wasn't as clear cut as I expected it to be.  What really captured me as a reader, is how Sophia was able to find her way without her parents by her side (I’m not really spoiling anything here, trust me) and how she had to rely not only on others around her, but on her inner strength and how that pushed her forward, despite setbacks along the way.

I also really liked the setting.  While I haven’t been to Italy myself, I do know people who have been to those cities that are mentioned in the book and I can honestly see myself there in those cities.  I also liked how the author integrated history, literature and art history into the book and it just brought the book alive for, being a lover of all three.

I also really liked that it was a fairly light read for me.  After slogging through some heavy books in terms of material, this was a nice Italian treat.

Bottom line:  I really enjoyed this read and would recommend it to those that need something light, but would like to learn something along the way.  Highly Recommended.

Rating: 4.25/5


 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Hour 0 – Opening Event Questions



Morning folks.  It's about 10 minutes to the start time (about 5 am here in Vancouver, BC) and I have my cup of coffee in my Fraser Valley Regional Library mug and my first book, Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, ready to go.

Opening Meme:
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? just outside of Vancouver, BC, Canada
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? The Wonder
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? The candy I bought yesterday
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I have been reading since I was little, lived in Brazil for a couple of years when I was a preschooler, my parents were both teachers, I have a BA in History and a Library Technicians diploma.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? One thing I am doing different today is that I am going to see Girl on the Train with some friends and yes, I have read the book.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

#boutofbooks 17 signup


I am posting this kinda late.  Been so engrossed with the Olympics that I forgot about the readathon, but this is a good reset.

My reading for the readathon as such is going to be:

• The Fireman
• Winter
• The Elite
• The Sympathizer
• The Danish Girl

If you are wondering what Bout of Books is, I am not going to presume that everybody that reads my blog knows this, this is what it is about:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 28th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 17 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I hope you can join me.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

24 in 48 Hours Readathon


This just to state my intent that I will be participating in the 24 in 48 hours Readathon this coming weekend.  I don't know what books I will be reading at this time.

An open letter to @whitneyway






Dear Ms. Thore:

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to watch your show, My Big Fat Fabulous Life, on TLC.  And only after about half an episode on the TLC marathon, I grew concerned for you.

Before I go on, I should mention that I know 4 women who suffer from PCOS. Those women are myself and 3 other friends of mine.  All of us struggle with our weight and all of us will continue to do so for the rest of our lives.  As for my diagnosis, I was diagnosed when I was 30 years old (I am now 36) after a ovarian cyst burst during Christmas of 2009.  I was rushed to emergency due to low blood pressure during the early morning hours of December 26 (I fainted and was as white as a sheet).

Subsequently I was put on birth control due to my heavy and painful periods that I had had for the previous 10+ years.  And it has made a huge difference in my life.

I also suffer from depression and anxiety and can understand eating a whole pizza in the dark because I am upset about something and not in control of something or other.  I understand where you are coming from.

But what I don't understand is why you continually feed yourself the way you are doing at present.  I get that being overweight sucks.  I am overweight myself and have been for the past 10 years (I am 5'8" and weigh about 272). As a result this past January, I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic.  Now I do realize that part of it is that I have a family history of diabetes and that plays into it, but I can see you ending up with diabetes along with other health issues.

The reason that I ended up with a pre-diabetes diagnosis is because I ate in much the same manner that you are eating.  I love much the same things that you do and sadly it has the same effect on me that it does on you.  I love it so much that I would spend many an hour stuffing my mouth with candy, fast food, and sugary drinks to make sure I felt happy and oblivious to what I was actually feeling.  I still love that food, but I have find other things that can give me that sort of satisfaction, but doesn't give me the cravings that fast food and sugary drinks and food give me.  And yes that means denying myself a dessert or sugary drink when out with friends.  But sometimes I fail and overindulge on those foods and pay for it the next day when my numbers go up on the scale.

I think you have a wonderful personality and yes, people should accept those who are heavier and not stick thin, which is equally unhealthy.  But you seem to not realize that you are slowly killing yourself by not realizing the harm you are doing to your body by feeding yourself the food you are eating.  Being morbidly obese is equally unhealthy as being stick thin and I can understand that fear of  being that thin.  But you don't need to do this to yourself.  

I can only imagine how great a dancer you would be if you lost a good portion of your current weight.  You need to realize that what you are doing is harming yourself as much as somebody who is depriving themselves of food.  And its not only yourself that you are harming, it is your friends and family.   You can still be an advocate for those that are struggling with their weight at a lower weight because you know what its like to be overweight and you know how people view those who are overweight.  You have a great opportunity to be an advocate for those who need help with their weight and feel slighted by their weight.

I also know what its like to have a parent that wants you to outlive them and not have you have a chronic problem or be dead before they pass away.  You need to treat yourself better and get back down to a healthy weight and honestly I think that you'll feel a lot better about yourself and you'll stop making excuses as a result.

I hope that you take this letter into consideration and understand that this is from somebody who is concerned about your overall health.

Sincerely,

Melissa Wiebe  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Loreena's Gift - Colleen M. Story

Title: Loreena's Gift
Author: Colleen M. Story
Pages: 350
Published: 2016
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Edition: PDF
Source: I recieved a free copy in exchange for a honest review.

Description: A BLIND GIRL'S TERRIFYING "GIFT" ALLOWS HER TO REGAIN HER EYESIGHT--BUT ONLY AS SHE FERRIES THE RECENTLY DECEASED INTO THE AFTERLIFE.


Loreena Picket thinks she knows herself. A blind young woman who lives with her uncle, a reverend at a small-town church, she's a dutiful niece and talented pianist for the congregation.


But they're both hiding a terrible secret. Loreena can kill people with the touch of her hand.


While her uncle sees her as an angel of mercy, helping usher the terminally ill members of his flock into the afterlife, Loreena has her doubts.


Torn between doing her uncle's bidding and the allure of the fleeting moments when her eyesight returns on the journey to the other side, Loreena cooperates with her uncle until her troubled older brother returns to town. When she reveals her power by saving him from a local drug dealer, she is drawn into a sinister and dangerous world that will test the true nature of her talent and force her to consider how far she is willing to go to survive.


An exciting debut that crosses fantasy and literary fiction, Loreena's Gift is a thought-provoking meditation on life and death and what ultimately lies beyond this world.
Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble  ~  Book Depository  ~  Chapters Indigo


Thoughts:  I didn't know what to think of the book, but once I sat down and read the book, I thought it was a decent read.  I liked the early part of the book, but once I got into the middle of the book, I got a little confused as to what was going on. But despite the fact that I was little confused to what was going on in the book, I found it to be an engrossing read.

I liked how the author seamlessly made the transitions between Loreena being sighted and blind.  I also liked how Loreena took charge of a situation and didn't really feel sorry for herself and pushed on despite her blindness.  She seemed to take charge of situations rather than the situation take charge of her.  Despite the situation that she found herself in, she didn't really feel sorry for herself and tried to make best of the situation that she was in.

Bottom line: I quite enjoyed the quickness of the book and it really felt like you were by Loreena's side through out the book.  I would probably recommend the book for those that aren't quite into fantasy, but would like either a taste of fantasy or need something different in their reading.  Recommended.


Author's Bio:

Colleen M. Story writes imaginative fiction and is also a freelance writer, instructor, and motivational speaker specializing in creativity, productivity, and personal wellness. Her latest novel, "Loreena’s Gift," was released with Dzanc Books April 12 2016. Her fantasy novel, "Rise of the Sidenah," is a North American Book Awards winner, and New Apple Book Awards Official Selection (Young Adult). She is the founder of Writing and Wellness (writingandwellness.com) a motivational site for writers and other creatives.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~ Twitter  


Sunday, July 10, 2016

My favourite non-bookish podcast Pt. 2: 20-11

I know I said that I would share this one on the 2nd of July, but for some reason, I just was unable to do so.

I love podcasts.  I love the information that I get to learn and how specific they can be.  They are my connection to something that can be explainable in a world that is somewhat not explainable.

And ever since Books on the Nightstand announced that it was saying goodbye at the beginning of June, I have thought about my favourites.  While I enjoy my bookish podcasts and they are generally the first to go if I don't enjoy the first couple of episodes, the vast majority of the podcasts that I listen to are history related (big shocker here), with a smattering of sports-related podcasts.

I have included links to the main pages of the various podcasts, so that if you aren't an iPhone user, you can check them out. And yes, all that I mention here over the next 3 days are all available in iTunes.  You can find Part 1 here.

20. The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps

I have only recently started listened to this podcast and am really enjoying the podcast.  The host presents the history of philosophy all the way back to the ancient philosophers in nice short chunks that makes even me, who doesn't like philosophy that much, want to listen to this podcast.



19. The History of England

I have been listening to this podcast for quite sometime, probably at least for 3 or 4 years at this point.  And I have really enjoyed this podcast.  The host not only covers the political events that have shaped the history of England, but also what was happening in the society at large and also what was happening in Europe to give a  bit of context.





18. The Jonah Keri Podcast

Like I said earlier, I am a bit of a sports nut and enjoy listening to podcasts that are sports related. One of my favourites is The Jonah Keri Podcast.  Jonah is a former Grantland reporter, who has now moved to Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports.  He has interviewed a wide variety of people in the sports industry, a large majority of who are or had worked for ESPN or are baseball reporters, being as Jonah started out as a baseball reporter and has continued in the industry.  But its a fun and insightful podcast and quite enjoyable.



17.  The History of English Podcast

Like others, I can't recall how I found this one, but I think I was low on podcasts at the time and the topic interested me.  I like how Stroud presents the topic and is very informative as to how English developed.







16. Our Fake History

A really fun podcast that looks at the various myths and tries to debunk various historical myths.  Excellent listen.








15.  The Memory Palace

Basically it is short stories of the past.  Sometimes they are funny, sometimes they are sad, but they are always great.  Usually are
about 10-15 min long.







14. You Must Remember This

Explores the forgotten and/or scary stories of Hollywood's first century. The host speaks clearly and podcasts are usually about 30 minutes.  Well researched and enjoyable and can see why its a popular podcast.






13. 10 American Presidents

A look at 10 American Presidents that were influential or notable for a number of reasons.  They are also looking a 10 notable American Presidential elections as well.  They have some excellent narrators to do the various episodes.







12. History of the Great War

Looks at the Great War through the various battles that were fought. Goes through the various battles of the Great War (or WWI as we call it) in detail.  Look forward to it each week.







11. The Civil War (1861-1865): A History Podcast

A chronological look at the American Civil War, which is a particular interest of mine.  Love that the hosts ancestors were from both sides of the conflict and that they cover both sides fairly.








I apologize that this segment was late and that the descriptions are a little shorter than the first one. Hopefully I will have the last part in the next few days.
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