Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Forgotten Kingdom, by Signe Pike {ends 9/22}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

The Selgovae were not like other Britons. They kept close to their gods and the beings of the old forest they tended. Those I’d met had little care for finery, though they possessed wealth in plenty, for they traded in furs—wolf, bear, rabbit, hind. Their huts were warm and dark, tight from weather. Their halls were modest and made entirely from wood, devoid of the rich outer carvings beloved by our people.

Soon we reached the foot of another small hill, and their huts appeared, hunched beneath the snow-covered branches of the forest. People peered from quickly opened doors, then disappeared behind them. I could not blame them, given the sight of us. At last we climbed an ice-slicked footpath through rusty spines of bracken, and my face was met with a gust of woodsmoke. The hall was long and narrow, with tidy thatching, a heavy set of oaken doors waiting beneath unadorned beams.

While this is the second book in a trilogy, it was understandable without having read the first book, and still a quite compelling story on its own.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Forgotten Kingdom, by Signe Pike {ends 9/22}
AD 573. Imprisoned in her chamber, Languoreth awaits news in torment. Her husband and son have ridden off to wage war against her brother, Lailoken. She doesn’t yet know that her young daughter, Angharad, who was training with Lailoken to become a Wisdom Keeper, has been lost in the chaos. As one of the bloodiest battles of early medieval Scottish history scatters its survivors to the wind, Lailoken and his men must flee to exile in the mountains of the Lowlands, while nine-year-old Angharad must summon all Lailoken has taught her and follow her own destiny through the mysterious, mystical land of the Picts.

In the aftermath of the battle, old political alliances unravel, opening the way for the ambitious adherents of the new religion: Christianity. Lailoken is half-mad with battle sickness, and Languoreth must hide her allegiance to the Old Way to survive her marriage to the next Christian king of Strathclyde. Worst yet, the new King of the Angles is bent on expanding his kingdom at any cost. Now the exiled Lailoken, with the help of a young warrior named Artur, may be the only man who can bring the Christians and the pagans together to defeat the encroaching Angles. But to do so, he must claim the role that will forever transform him. He must become the man known to history as “Myrddin.”

Bitter rivalries are ignited, lost loves are found, new loves are born, and old enemies come face-to-face with their reckoning in this compellingly fresh look at one of the most enduring legends of all time.

Wow. The beginning of this book was a little confusing. The names were unfamiliar, and there was a whole book before it—was there some fundamental knowledge that was needed to understand what was happening here? But the magic that is a well-written book soon took over. The pages kept turning in a desire to find out what happens next!

The basics of the story are covered in the summary, but the Author’s Note at the end was very interesting. What is the difference between historical fiction and historical fantasy? This book could be quite enjoyable for fans of historical fiction, or for fans of fantasy as well. The difference is hard to discern when based on a time period of which the reader has limited previous knowledge.

While following along with characters whose names are difficult to pronounce sometimes presents a challenge, the fates of Languoreth, Lailoken, and Angharad kept me engaged. I’d give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars and will definitely consider putting the other two books of the trilogy on my to-be-read list.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley is a wife, mother, and remote-learning supervisor to a middle schooler and an elementary school student. She enjoys snacking, reading, and overcoming zoom challenges. She also blogs at SweetlyBSquared.com.


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of The Forgotten Kingdom!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Tuesday, September 22nd, at 11:59pm EST, and the winner will be emailed the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

The Forgotten Kingdom, by Signe Pike

Monday, September 14, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY - The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless, by Charlotte Markey {ends 9/21}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

There is evidence that people think they benefit from being hard on themselves. They think they’ll improve themselves if they bully themselves. However, people tend to benefit from self-compassion. Self-compassion is basically being kind to yourself and treating yourself like you would treat a friend. Scientists have found that people who are self-compassionate tend to experience success because they don’t waste energy getting upset with themselves; instead, they focus this energy toward motivating themselves to achieve self-acceptance and success.

The next time you want to tell yourself that you’re out of shape or unattractive, take a deep breath. Remember, this isn’t a good use of your energy. Think of a close friend. You’re as deserving as your friend, so don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a close friend.

With chapter headings like ‘Love your body,’ ‘Keep food fun,’ ‘Self-care,’ and ‘Be the Change,’ this book gives some great guidance for a happy life. What amazing lessons for human beings—especially pre-teen and teenage girls!

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY - The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless, by Charlotte Markey {ends 9/21}
It is worrying to think that most girls feel dissatisfied with their bodies, and that this can lead to serious problems including depression and eating disorders. Can some of those body image worries be eased? Body image expert and psychology professor Dr Charlotte Markey helps girls aged 9-15 to understand, accept, and appreciate their bodies. She provides all the facts on puberty, mental health, self-care, why diets are bad news, dealing with social media, and everything in-between. Girls will find answers to questions they always wanted to ask, the truth behind many body image myths, and real-life stories from girls who share their own experiences. Through this easy-to-read and beautifully illustrated guide, Dr Markey teaches girls how to nurture both mental and physical health to improve their own body image, shows the positive impact they can have on others, and enables them to go out into the world feeling fearless!

This book really covers all the bases. In addition to graphic illustrations to show a girl what her anatomy usually looks like and what to expect during puberty for body changes, the author goes on to talk about how all these changes can make a girl feel. The book isn’t just about taking care of what you’ve got, it’s about appreciating what your body is and does inside and out. While giving some of the best options for appreciating and taking care of a girl's body, the author presents the information in a non-judgmental way. Choosing other options is not automatically wrong.

While the 13-year-old who helped me review this book admittedly skimmed over the more technical descriptions of body changes, she said her favorite part was the Q&As interspersed in all the chapters. The ‘My Story’ sections with real life experiences from real girls with their ages was also engaging. Her favorite chapters were Chapter 3: Love your body, and Chapter 9: Self-care.

Overall, this book contains invaluable information for girls ages 9 to 15 regarding how they are maturing and growing. We’d give this book 5 out of 5 stars and will keep our copy handy for a little while longer. The tone is reassuring about changes during these crazy years and offers comforting advice.

{click here to purchase - only $9.99 for Kindle!}

Becki Bayley is a wife, and mother to a 13-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy. She believes a mother’s job is to give her children roots and wings. She also blogs at SweetlyBSquared.com.


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of The Body Image Book for Girls!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Monday, September 21st, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be contacted the next day via email and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless, by Charlotte Markey

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Book Review: The White Coat Diaries, by Madi Sinha

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

The automatic computer readout --NORMAL STUDY-- is printed across the top of the pink-and-white graph paper.

“And? Is it normal?”

“It says ‘Normal Study.’”

“But does it look normal to you?” Ethan says.

I hesitate. Something isn’t right. The waves alternate in size: big wave, little wave, big wave, little wave.

“Shock him again!” Ethan says. “Norah? Norah?”

“No, it’s electrical alternans.”

“Are you sure?”

“I think so.”

“Norah, I’m going to tap him. Are you sure?”

My mouth goes dry. Ethan is preparing to put a needle into Dan’s chest to drain the fluid that, presumably, is compressing his heart. If I’m wrong, the needle could puncture Dan’s heart and kill him.

“Yes, I’m sure.”

I hear him take a breath. “Okay.”

Being a medical resident is definitely not easy. Being a medical resident and having a life sounds darn near impossible.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: The White Coat Diaries, by Madi Sinha
Having spent the last twenty-something years with her nose in a textbook, brilliant and driven Norah Kapadia has just landed the medical residency of her dreams. But after a disastrous first day, she's ready to quit. Disgruntled patients, sleep deprivation, and her duty to be the "perfect Indian daughter" have her questioning her future as a doctor.

Enter chief resident Ethan Cantor. He's everything Norah aspires to be: respected by the attending physicians, calm during emergencies, and charismatic with his patients. And as he morphs from Norah’s mentor to something more, it seems her luck is finally changing.

But when a fatal medical mistake is made, pulling Norah into a cover-up, she must decide how far she’s willing to go to protect the secret. What if “doing no harm” means putting herself at risk?

Oh, Norah. She’s not just a medical resident, she’s also the never-even-dated daughter of a well-known Indian pediatrician who passed away years ago in an auto accident. So no pressure, but she’s supposed to be an obedient, married Indian daughter to her mother, and a brilliant doctor to carry on her father’s legacy. For a few minutes, she thinks she’s on the right track. She graduated and got a coveted medical residency, and even thinks there’s romantic chemistry with the handsome and successful chief resident.

Norah does what she thinks she has to in order to ensure her success and that of the man she wants to fall in love with. Unfortunately, drastic actions taken for the wrong reasons don’t stay feeling good over time.

This book was interesting in its depiction of Norah’s medical residency, and the lives of the other residents. While this book was presented as fiction, the way the medical staff referred to some of the patients was a little disappointing. Overall, I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars. It would be recommended for those who enjoy medical dramas or Indian fiction.

{click here to purchase - only $9.99 for Kindle!}

Becki Bayley is a remote-classroom-supervising mom and wife. She enjoys caffeine, running up and down stairs, and cleaning her glasses to see if that helps make things more clear. She also posts somewhat regularly at SweetlyBSquared.com.


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