Book Review: The Poet's Secret by Kenneth Zak.

I was introduced to The Poet’s Secret with the hook that if I enjoyed The English Patient--I would enjoy this book.  The English Patient is my all time favorite book (and movie) ever--so if this book was remotely similar in quality and form--I was certainly interested in reading and reviewing it.  What did I think of The Poet’s Secret by Kenneth Zak?

I received a complimentary copy of this book for use in my review.  All opinions are my own.

Quick Summary of The Poet’s Secret.  In The Poet’s Secret, young lit student Elia Aloundra sets off to a remote Caribbean island in search of the reclusive poet Cameron Beck, longing to know the man whose words move her so. What she doesn’t know is that as her quest begins, Beck is perched atop a cliff on his exotic island hideaway and about to attempt suicide. Elia soon finds herself swept up in the mystery surrounding his muse, but what she cannot fathom is that Beck’s secret will change both their lives forever. An island tale filled with mystical sea turtles and sunken treasure, The Poet’s Secret was conceived in a mountaintop village on the Greek isle of Crete while the author was on a three­-year sabbatical. For every copy of The Poet’s Secret sold, $1 will also be donated to The Surfrider Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving the earth’s oceans, waves and beaches.

The Poet’s Secret is told from a 3rd Person Perspective.   9 times out of 10--I prefer a 3rd person narrative in the books I read.  There is so much more opportunity to learn about the thoughts and perspectives of the all-important supportive characters in such a book.  When the narrator is sharing his point of view--the reader is left with more questions than answers at times--and those supporting characters aren't able to live up to their potential.  Zak develops a much more complete story with this 3-part narrative from his three main characters.

The Poet’s Secret is a story that readers will not be able to put down.  I was drawn immediately into the storyline and the characters' lives.  I became invested in their stories--and simply found the book nearly impossible to set aside.  I needed to follow the story to its end.  This book is a romance--but, a life story as well--and it is a full story with readers sharing the opportunity to revisit the past with the story's characters and share in the present as each one shared perspectives and events.

Would I recommend The Poet’s Secret by Kenneth Zak. Zak does a wonderful job bringing readers into the setting and surrounding readers with the story.   While this book was not as compelling as The English Patient for me--it was still a very good book.  I felt that Zac handled the transitions between characters well to limit confusion although each one was not given individual voices.  If you love a well rounded romance with a human element, detailed settings and something more than dialogue driven text--this book was very well written with well developed characters and well placed scenes. 

Buy on Amazon.

 About the Author:
Born in Parma, Ohio, Kenneth Zak is an aquatic nomad of Bohemian-Polish ancestry.  He shut down a successful law practice and embarked on a 3 year personal pilgrimage traveling the globe in quest of a deeper purpose.  He unleashed his creative self in a mountaintop village in Crete where he began his debut novel, The Poet’s Secret, continuing work on the manuscript and his poetry in Bali, Costa Rica, Thailand, Cambodia and South America.

His poem “Two Bits” from The Poet’s Secret previously appeared in Kelp Magazine.  His short fiction “A Promise” has appeared in A Year in Ink, San Diego Writers, Ink Anthology, Volume 4, and his short story “Thea” appeared in A Year in Ink, San Diego Writers, Ink Anthology, Volume 8.  His contributed articles have appeared in Luxe Beat Magazine and The Ohio State University Alumni digital magazine and he has appeared on Frommer’s The Travel Show.

His other passions include reading, music, surfing, ocean swimming, free diving, the Tibetan Rites and yoga. He currently resides in San Diego, California.

Book Promo: Drachen by Brendan Le Grange

drachen tour banner 
 drachenI am usually not a fan of treasure hunting stories--but, the latest book from Brendan Le Grange may just change that.  Drachen sounds a little too mysterious for me to pass up!  I am not sure yet if I will be hosting a review or a tour spot for this book--but,  I've already added it to my reading list!  If you read it--stop by and let me know what you thought!
Quick Summary of Drachen by Brendan Le Grange.  A Marine Treasure-Hunting Thriller. Brett Rivera has spent three years searching for the Drachen, a sunken ship. The day she finds it is the day her life changes: there is no sign of its legendary treasure and now a cold-blooded killer is hunting her...A shipwreck. A lost treasure. A hell of a race from one to the other.

Buy on Amazon

About the author:

Drachen -brendanphotoBrendan le Grange was born and educated in South Africa, though he now lives between Manila and Hong Kong with his beautiful wife and daughter. As a business consultant, he has traveled to forty countries and lived in three. And it is reading binges to break up these transits - with the likes of Clive Cussler and Jack du Brul - that inspired the writer to emerge, bringing to life the cities, characters, and history he encountered. Le Grange's debut action thriller, Drachen, is a wild chase through North Europe along the Baltic coast. Based on a re-imagined history of the medieval Hanseatic League, a young marine archaeologist discovers evidence of a treasure so valuable, it will test every allegiance.

Follow the author on Twitter and Goodreads. You can also connect on Literary Addicts.


Someone Died...Now What Book Review and Giveaway

Loss is an unfortunate part of life. While we hope that our loved ones will be parts of our lives for a long, long time--the reality is that they will be taken from our lives before we are ready.  We recently had the opportunity to read and review Someone Died...Now What by Corrie Sirota--and we have a copy (as well as other book tour prizes) for our readers to enter to win in the giveaway at the end of this post. What was our review of Someone Died...Now What by Corrie Sirota.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for use in our review. All opinions are my own.

Quick Summary of Someone Died...Now What. Someone Died… Now What? is a GPS for grieving. Corrie Sirota provides Guidance, Perspective and Support to help navigate through the grief process. Whether someone you love has died or someone you know is struggling with a loss, this book addresses many of the issues and questions that surface, providing concrete assistance on what to do immediately following a death, how to deal with feelings of sadness, anger and guilt, non-death losses and how to support grieving children. You will learn that grief is an ongoing process, and is as unique and individual as you are.

Sirota creates both a personal and a practical guide for those grieving. Sirota writes in a very, clear concise manner--making a guide that is both easy to read and easy to apply to our lives. She keeps reality in check as she not only offers tips for managing the grieving process--but, for keeping up with the duties and responsibilities left for families and friends of those lost. 

Sirota packs a lot of useful information into a small space. Do not let the book's page length detract from the value of this book. The author fills the pages in an orderly, easy to digest fashion--and offers reminders and helpful advice on each page. 

Would I recommend Someone Died...Now What? While there is no "correct" way to cope with loss or grief--there are ways to help those left behind. Whether you are trying to manage your feelings with a personal loss--or are trying to help someone else move beyond a death--there are pages in this book for everyone.

Link to Montreal Gazette:    Article

Buy the book:    Amazon     Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

Corrie Sirota holds a Masters degree in Social Work as well as a Graduate Certificate in Loss and Bereavement from McGill University (Montreal) where she has been teaching as a lecturer in the School of Social Work for over 20 years. Corrie is a licensed psychotherapist who currently maintains a private practice specializing in Loss and Bereavement, Parenting issues and Relationship issues. She is a well-known lecturer who regularly presents at conferences and workshops, both locally and abroad. Working in the Montreal Community for over 2 decades, Corrie has developed numerous prevention and intervention programs for families, children and professionals, students and various community agencies as well as Day and Residential Camps.

Corrie has also written numerous articles and blog posts and is regularly interviewed on local radio, news and TV programs to consult on issues relating to loss and bereavement, Child Development and Parenting.

To learn more information about Corrie Sirota visit her website www.corriesirota.com.

Connect with the author:    Website    Twitter    Facebook
Win 1 of 5 copies of Someone Died: Now What? 
Two winners will also receive 1 of 2 $10 Amazon gift card

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Yellow-Billed Magpie by Nancy Schoellkopf Book Review and Giveaway

Life has a way of leading us down meandering paths toward our destinies. I was very interested in following Nancy Schoellkopf's charcters in Yellow-Billed Magpie as they embarked on their own journeys. We also have a unique giveaway at the end of this post for our readers as well! What did I think of Yellow-Billed Magpie?

I received a complimentary copy of this book for use in a blog review. All opinions are my own.

The Quick Summary of Yellow-billed Magpie: Unlike their black-billed cousins, yellow-billed magpies are rarely found outside California’s central valley. So when they begin showing up in Samantha O’Malley’s dreams, she wonders: are they calling me home?

Disappointed by failed fertility treatments and the break-up of her marriage, Samantha returns to her home town and slips into old habits, resuming her teaching career, even hooking up with an old lover. But she also renews her friendship with Craig, the school custodian she honors as her spiritual guide. The work they do together with Samantha’s special education students will lead her to discoveries she never thought possible.

Yellow-Billed Magpie is a love story, a spiritual journey, a quest to look beyond appearances to the mystical rhythms that guide the human heart.

Yellow-Billed Magpie is a wonderful story of discovery. Schoellkopf weaves her real world knowledge of special education, imagery and inspiration from dreams, and an understanding of human nature into a story of perspective and discovery. Life rarely plays out as we hope--but, sometimes it plays out exactly as it should. We simply need to put our worlds into perspective Readers will be touched by Samantha's journey and inspired by this book.

Schoellkopf creates a well rounded story with realistic characters and an even plot. I immediately felt for Samantha. Life threw some roadblocks into her path--we've all been there--but, she managed to look beyond her immediate situation for something more. The books offers twists and turns as the main character finds herself. 

Would I recommend Yellow-Billed Magpie? While the book's title and cover were a bit perplexing at the onset--the imagery and significance became clear and profound. This was easily one of the best books I've read this year. I was a able to both identify with and cheer on the book's main character--and enjoy the insights and symbolism presented by the author. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a well written story of self discovery and reflection.

Buy the book:   Amazon

Author's Bio:

Nancy Schoellkopf has been telling stories and writing poems for many lifetimes. It goes without saying she’s needed a second income, so this time around she happily taught amazing children in special education classes in two urban school districts in Sacramento, California. A full time writer now, she enjoys lavishing attention on her cat, her garden and her intriguing circle of family and friends.

Connect with the author:    Website     Twitter    Facebook

Win 1 of 10 copies of Yellow-Billed Magpie
1 winner will also receive a Turquoise Fiesta pie plate & napkins
and 2 winners will also receive a $10 Amazon gift card (Open International)
10 winners total

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Fall Comfort Food Ideas: Turkey Vegetable Soup Recipe

Fall and Winter bring out the soup lover in me--especially during lunch time.  Soup is one of the easiest meals I can make to both feed my family dinner--and re-purpose for lunch time leftovers.   I have made vegetable soup since I was a little girl.  My grandma would can a "vegetable soup starter" from the garden--with tomatoes, tomato juice and fresh cabbage--and then add beef and other vegetables to the starter throughout the winter months.  While my Grandma didn't use many spices in her cooking--she taught me the basics with onions, celery, carrots and her canned "soup".    These days, we skip the beef....and the salt and the added fat (Grandma used a lot of butter and/or lard in her vegetable sautes!)..and lighten up the vegetable "beef" soup as a Turkey Vegetable Soup.  What is my go-to recipe for turkey vegetable soup?

Ingredients for Turkey Vegetable Soup
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 c. Yellow Onion, Chopped
1 c. Celery with Leaves, Chopped
1 1/2 c. Carrots, Sliced
1 can of Green Beans, Drained and Rinsed or 1 1/2 c. Cooked, Fresh Green Beans
1 can Diced Tomatoes or 1 c. Plain Marinara Sauce
1/2 tsp. Dried Thyme
1/2 tsp. Dried Rosemary
1 Garlic Clove, Minced
1/8 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1 lb. Lean Ground Turkey Breast

1 32oz. Container of Vegetable Broth
2 c. Water
Sea Salt to Taste

Instructions for Turkey Vegetable Soup
Cook the Ground Turkey.  Brown the ground turkey in a skillet over medium heat until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink.

Saute the Vegetables.  Add 1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil to a non-stick Dutch oven or soup pot.  Heat the oil until hot--but, not smoking.  Add the onions, celery and carrots.  Saute over medium heat until the onions are translucent and the carrots are tender.

Add the Remaining Soup Ingredients.  Add the green beans, tomatoes, cooked ground turkey and spices to the sauteed vegetables--stirring the mixture to coat.   Stir in the Vegetable Broth and water. Bring to a hard boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 35-40 minutes.    Season with sea salt to taste if desired.

Serve the Turkey Vegetable Soup Recipe.  We serve with garlic bread or crusty French bread and a salad.