Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Book review: A Friend for Christmas by Mike Martin


A Christmas book about overcoming your fears and finding friends at Christmas. 

Title: A Friend for Christmas

Author: Mike Martin

Publication Date: October 20, 2023

Pages: 36

Genre: Children's

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Good things come to those who face their fears. 

Robbie Rabbit lived in a warren in a big city with his wife Rowena Rabbit and their nine kits. He called it their rabbit apartment. Robbie and his family were hunkering down for winter when an unexpected visitor makes an appearance. 

A Friend for Christmas is the heartwarming tale of a very brave rabbit who faces his fears and makes a new friend at the magical time of the year.  He learns that friends can come in all shapes and sizes and Robbie and his family discover the joy of Christmas.

This beautifully illustrated book is suitable for children of all ages. Especially those who still believe in the magic of Christmas.

“This lovely fable tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a family of rabbits and a gray cat named Whisper. In these war-torn times, it’s an important reminder of our innate ability to choose live over fear.” – Amazon

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://bit.ly/3FMsbN4 

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/49ntyQ7 

My Review: A Friend for Christmas by Mike Martin is an adorable children’s Christmas story that young readers will simply love. Robbie and Rowena Rabbit have nine youngsters (called kits). All their names start with the letter R: Rhonda, Riley, Rebecca, Rowan, Ruby, Ryan, Rose, Romeo, and Ricky. With so many mouths to feed, dad Robbie must forage daily for food. It’s not easy. It’s winter, it’s snowing, and he must navigate the road and passing cars safely. But Robbie is brave and determined and he and Rowena are devoted parents. However, there’s one thing that Robbie fears the most: cats. Whenever he sees a cat, he runs as fast as he can all the way home, which is the advice he gives to the youngsters. One day he meets a cat, a slinky grey cat called Whisper, that seems determined to befriend him. Robbie and Rowena are astounded. What strange behavior from a cat! Can rabbits be friends with a cat?

A Friend for Christmas is a lovely story just in time for Christmas. Mike Martin introduces the concept of friends in all shapes, sizes and … wait for it … species! The spirit of Christmas and festivities filters through with the tall creatures (humans) putting up twinkling lights and beautiful decorations. From Whisper, Robbie and his family learn what Christmas is all about and that sometimes the greatest gift one can give someone is their friendship. This is the message of the festive season and one that parents will be pleased to see in this charming story. Other positive aspects of this book are the lessons Robbie and Rowena teach their children about road safety, the wonderful sense of a family playing and having fun together, new friendships, and learning about animals. Youngsters will also have fun with so many ‘r’ words in the rabbit family names! The illustrations are simple and clear and help to tell the story.

About the Author

Mike Martin was born in St. John’s, NL on the east coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the award-winning and best-selling author of the award-winning Sgt. Windflower Mystery series set in beautiful Grand Bank. There are now 13 books in this light mystery series with the publication of All That Glitters.

Author Links  

Website | Twitter | Facebook 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Book Spotlight: The Hope Series by E.C. Jackson


The Certain Hope: Twenty-one-year-old Neka is a bit of an introvert; she also happens to be stunningly beautiful. When she discovers her friend James is about to be dumped, she sees the perfect opportunity to escape from her quiet life. Can she summon the courage to leave it all behind? James Copley comes from a ruthless family. It’s rubbed off. Years ago, he disengaged from his brother’s smear campaign, but now his father has offered him an ultimatum, “Get married or lose your seat at the table.” Plotting to stamp his design on the family business, he proposes to a woman, even though he doesn’t love her. But his carefully laid plans start to unravel when she leaves him on the day she’s due to meet his family. Could years of planning his comeback vanish with her departure? Amazon

The Confident Hope: Is there hope for this love between friends? Pamela Hayes is a smart, successful business owner with a supportive family and a thriving bakery. She should be the happiest girl in the world. But she can’t shake the melancholy that accompanies every conversation she has with her best friend, Mark. Pamela doesn’t know how much longer she can hide her true feelings. Why can’t Mark see how perfect they would be together? She would make a much better girlfriend than the one he currently has. Pamela prays he’ll come to his senses soon and realize he’s with the wrong girl. But when her dream comes true, it isn’t the fantasy she had envisioned. There is trouble in paradise from the start, and all the red flags she’s been ignoring are starting to threaten her confidence…and her relationship with Mark. She’ll have to rely on family and her faith in God to help her secure the hope she so desperately needs. Amazon

Overflow With Hope: Two men. One wrong choice. Tempia Wade’s life had jumped the rails. One fateful night, she believed a stranger’s lie rather than the assurance of a trusted friend. For her lapse in judgment, she paid an agonizing price. Her now-bankrupt life featured shattered dreams, ruined friendships, and the loss of a promising relationship. Now, two years later, the twenty-three-year-old prayed for a second chance with the man she had fallen for at first sight. Would Cory Sanders finally overlook her egregious mistake in accepting a next-day date and liaison with another man? Or would she have to truly accept life without him? Amazon 

About the Author


E. C. Jackson began her writing career with the full-length play Pajama Party. Thirty-one years later, she adapted the play into Pajama Party: The Story, a companion book to the second book in the five-book standalone Hope series. Jackson’s favorite pastime is reading fiction. She enjoys taking the journey along with the characters in the books. That also led to her unorthodox approach to story writing. Her vision for each book she writes is to immerse readers into the storyline so they become connected with each character. “The Write Way: A Real Slice of Life” is the slogan on her Facebook author page. She feels that if every person reading her books feels connected to the characters, her job is done. 

Author Links   Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads



Friday, November 24, 2023

The Inspiration Behind Catnip, Plushie Balls, and Q-Tips by M.G. Rorai



If you loved Catnip, Toilet Paper, and Lasers, this new collection of cat poems will tickle your whiskers and your funny bone.

Title: Catnip, Plushie Balls, and Q-Tips: Cat Poetry: The Art of Being Feline

Author: M.G. Rorai

Publication Date: September 30, 2023

Pages: 178

Genre: Poetry/Cats

Ever wonder why there are “mews” in “amewzing”? This collection of cat poems will tickle your whiskers and your funny bone. They’re the purr-fect way to brighten your day and celebrate the furry friends in your life. Prepare to laugh out loud as you read about cat adventures with magnets, candles, strawberry milkshakes, and plush balls—but don’t let me ruin the surprise, you’ll have to read to find out! Get ready to laugh your tail off!

Buy Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple | Scribd | Smashwords

Book Excerpt  

The magnets are so cute

that I must knock them off

but get yelled at for this,

so the new approach is soft.

I sit by the fridge

staring at those squares

and when Human isn’t looking

I lick with tongue hairs.

All was going good

until one was quite sticky

leaving a bad taste,

and I’m not so picky.

I bite at the air

to get rid of the taste

then knock down that magnet;

good riddance, post-haste.**

The Inspiration Behind Catnip, 

Plushie Balls, and Q-Tips

Kitty Elsa perches on a chair to slurp water droplets during shower time. If my husband or I don’t let her into the bathroom she cries at the door. When we do let her in, she drinks from our fingers until she gets bored, then abandons the shower to go slouch in a basket. Ah, the life of a Queen.

As you can tell, I think cats are adorable creatures, and as such I’m part of many cat groups on social media to get my daily fix of funny cat things. One day I was reading a thread of real-life funny stories, and I thought how fun it would be to turn them into silly poems. At the time I had been re-exploring my poetry, something I used to write unpublished about ten years ago, and posted in the group if anyone would be interested in reading such a book. The response was overwhelmingly positive. 

I received permission to use those stories, and that’s how the first book in the series Cat Poetry: The Art of Being Feline came about. It’s called Catnip, Toilet Paper, and Lasers. Of course, my kitties Elsa and her brother Socks contributed and became the theme of the book.

But I wasn’t done. I started on the Catnip, Plushie Balls, and Q-Tips sequel with inspired cat stories and continued on with the antics theme of my own cats, along with writing other books. But then burnout hit, plus job issues needed to be addressed (as I wasn’t writing full-time) and everything took a backseat. I didn’t get back to the feline sequel until two years later. By then the world had righted itself, I had recovered from burnout through lots of rest and pursuing other activities, and I felt it was time to complete Q-Tips, which I think is better than the first poem collection.

When I first started this series, I was exclusively on Amazon. But with Catnip, Plushie Balls, and Q-Tips I’ve decided to expand my reach and publish at other places, such as Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, libraries, and others. I want to share my laughs with many who appreciate the love of cats. And now part I, Toilet Paper and Lasers, is wide as well.

But it’s more than cats too. These books are also about sitting down and having a good moment when good times might be hard to come by. What better way to find distraction than amewzing cat poems? A cat’s companionship can help tremendously on a bad day, and I wanted to capture some of that for anyone needing a silly moment.  

About the Author

M.G. Rorai enjoys hanging with her cats and annoying her husband. Her latest book is Catnip, Plushie Balls, and Q-Tips.

Author Links  

Website | Facebook

Monday, November 20, 2023

How I Reset My Life by Quitting Drinking by Lisa May Bennett, author of My Unfurling


Wicked hangovers. Scary blackouts. Ugly fights with friends. The results of binge drinking weigh heavily on Lisa May Bennett. She tries repeatedly to savor “just a few” glasses of wine—only to find herself passed out on the couch again.

 Lisa has a bucket list full of exciting adventures with zero check marks next to them. Her anxiety and self-doubt are crying out for real solutions, not more booze. And her dream of becoming a published writer is fading away. She worries that her love of a good buzz will keep her stuck in this rut. Can she take charge of her life, or is she headed for a disastrous rock bottom?

 This touching and funny memoir explores the childhood experiences that paved the way for Lisa’s drinking habit. She examines her complicated relationship with her mother, her experiences as a late bloomer, and her ongoing search for validation. In an engaging and relatable voice, the author shares how she began to “unfurl” without alcohol holding her back. But will she stay sober and discover how to truly thrive? Anyone wondering if they'll ever burst out and follow their dreams will find My Unfurling compelling and hopeful.

Purchase a copy of My Unfurling on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Bookshop.org. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.


How I Reset My Life by Quitting Drinking

For many years, decades actually, I was an enthusiastic drinker. I couldn’t imagine a Friday night, a fancy dinner, or getting together with friends without an alcoholic beverage. It helped me relax after a stressful week, and it made the good times seem even better. You could say that drinking was my main hobby, along with watching TV and cooking (both of which could be done with a bottomless glass of wine).

Sure, I often drank way too much, which resulted in some bad nights. I was no stranger to blacking out, getting into nasty arguments, or making a fool of myself. But I always thought quitting drinking was for people whose lives were totally falling apart. We hear about those big “rock bottoms” people hit—losing your job, getting in a car accident, discovering your health is at risk, being arrested, or losing custody of your kids. These are the experiences that are supposed to send you straight into recovery.

I didn’t hit one of those rock bottoms. So, every time I pondered whether my relationship with alcohol was toxic, I concluded that it wasn’t that bad. Except for that one time. Oh, and that other time. But otherwise, I was good, right? When I hit middle age, I started wondering if there was more to life. Was my routine way too routine? I had a bucket list of fun things that I wanted to try—none of which were getting checked off. Most importantly, I had dreamed of becoming a published author since I was a kid, and that had gone nowhere.

I did a lot of thinking about what was standing in the way of these things I desired. Watching less TV would definitely open up more time, and cutting back my social media scrolling was a no-brainer. But after going alcohol-free during a 30-day food elimination program, quitting drinking started to emerge as the potential key to resetting my life. Several more years passed before I finally made the decision to part ways with alcohol. I don’t know if I had been waiting for a serious rock bottom. A different kind of sign—an online essay kind of like this one is what finally pushed me off the fence.

Once I stopped, a reinvigorated life began to unfold. I checked off many of those bucket-list items, and I’m still adding to the list. I finally returned to my writing, and I authored and self-published a memoir. (And I’m working on book two.) Maybe I never would have hit a true rock bottom. Maybe I didn’t have a “real” problem, as some people close to me have suggested. But I think it was a problem that I was more attached to drinking than I was to fulfilling my dreams. 

So, if you’re looking for a sign, take it from me—you don’t have to wait for a big, scary one. Maybe this is your notice that life can get much more interesting than you ever imagined once you give alcohol the boot.



About the Author

Lisa May Bennett is the author of the memoir My Unfurling: Emerging from the Grip of Anxiety, Self-Doubt, and Drinking. She had a flourishing career in marketing and communications for more than two decades before finally embracing sobriety and chasing her dream of becoming an author. Her upcoming book will demystify the self-publishing process, and she hopes to encourage more people to tell and publish their own stories.

You can follow the author at: