5 Reasons to Celebrate National #ReadABookDay

1. It’s a valid excuse to get out of housework.
2. You can curl up with your cat (okay, fine… and dog…) to get some lap snuggles.
3. Pumpkin spice lattes are back. Reading+ PSL=Nothing Better (unless you add #2 to this equation).
4. Lots of big name authors have a new book getting published in September. Go pick up your favorite author’s latest book or discover a new author!
5. We all need a break from celebrating Labor Day yesterday. It was so…laborious!

It’s a hard life for Kali.

Two Cars and a Book has a guest blogger today. Kali “Flufferbutt/Twinkletoes” H-P. I will let her take over from here.

However an I going to choose what to read this weekend?!?

I love all of these Forever romance titles!

I can never choose just one to start. Woe is me. I might swoon! Which one do you guys think I should choose?

BITE ME: Two Words to Never Say to a Tick

Now that summer officially arrived, I wanted to write a post about an important subject: Lyme disease.

Being from South Carolina, I have heard of Lyme disease but I had no idea how many people it affects globally each year until I had the pleasure of working with Ally Hilfiger to promote her book, BITE ME. In fact, I was even tested for Lyme disease at one time due to some symptoms that I had, but the test came back negative. Even though I was tested for it, I honestly thought at the time, “Never heard of this. I’m sure I don’t have it.”

BITE ME book launch at The Jane, New York City.

BITE ME book launch at The Jane, New York City.

Over 329,000 people on average are diagnosed each year with Lyme yet so many more are suffering without even knowing it. Why? There is, unfortunately, no definitive diagnosis for the disease. Ally is just one of thousands who have gone from doctor to doctor knowing something wasn’t right and begging for someone to figure out what is wrong them. After 11 years, Ally finally found the right doctor who helped her get started on the long road to recovery. She is happily Lyme-free now and is using her platform and experience to work with the Global Lyme Alliance to raise awareness and much needed funding so that a cure can be found. In fact, I was just with Ally on May 9th at The Jane Hotel in New York City as she not only launched her new book but also advocated for a Lyme-free future.

Many people know that we must find cures for breast cancer, Hepatitis C, Colon cancer, and HIV. Maybe not everyone knows that more people are diagnosed with Lyme disease than the aforementioned diseases combined each year (Source: GLA).

If you don’t know much about Lyme disease, I encourage you to learn about it. Lyme doesn’t discriminate against man, woman, or child and sadly someone you know may end up with it one day. As you and your family go out and enjoy the warm weather, please remember to use bug spray and dress appropriately so that you and your loved ones stay healthy. Just as importantly, remember to keep your pets healthy and happy by treating them for fleas and ticks as well!

BITE ME: How Lyme Disease Stole My Childhood, Made Me Crazy, and Almost Killed Me by Ally Hilfiger is now available wherever books are sold.

Polite Applause but No Standing Ovation for Turano’s “Playing the Part”

playing the partHave you ever been to a local community theatre and have been entertained but not because the set is magnificent or the acting is worthy of an Oscar? You tell people they did an awesome job but their performance would not hold a candle to successful Hollywood actors?

That’s kind of how I feel about Playing the Part by Jen Turano. The story never got boring but it was all in all a bit too light-hearted for me to feel like it was anything but a fluff novel. In comparison to some other novels I read, it just fell short in many areas. Before I get into why I felt it was “fluffy,” let me give you a quick overview of the plot that was given to me by the publisher.

“After a fan’s interest turns sinister, actress Lucetta Plum asks her friend, widow Abigail Hart, for help. Abigail takes her to a secluded estate, then reveals her own agenda by introducing Lucetta to her eccentric grandson. Bram is clearly interested in her but also mysterious. When danger catches up to Lucetta, will her friends be able to protect her?”

After reading this plot summary, I expected a sinister, danger-filled novel filled with mystery and excitement. There was a bit of danger, particularly towards the end as Lucetta is kidnapped and her mother is threatened, but the amount of hilarity and ridiculousness did a lot to keep the plot from feeling sinister. It made it hard to take the book earnestly, invest in the characters, and immerse myself in story, which is what I want to do when reading a book.

The majority of the book takes place in fictional Ravenwood castle above New York City in 1882 (I did love the unique time period/setting choice) that comes complete with its own fake cemetery and mausoleum to ensure Bram, the owner’s, need for privacy. Bram employs a motley crew of servants, a reformed group of criminals hailing from the Lower East Side. Their antics lends to the slight ridiculousness of the plot, including their frequently shooting cannonballs at anyone who dares approach the castle. Of course, the setting would not be complete without a misfit collection of unwanted animals, including a goat who loves (err hates?) anything in a dress; thus, leading to quite a few marathon runs around the grounds as Lucetta flees dearly for her life. All of this as well as other ragtag characters and suits of armor walking around the castle on their own make this book rather laughable–in other words, an entertaining bit of fluff if you are looking for something to pass time that doesn’t require much thinking or emotional investment. I imagine this is what the author intended when she wrote this book. If not, I would advise perhaps including a little less hilarity and spend more time creating characters immersed in a plot line with more depth. As it is, it’s an entertaining read–much like you’d get entertained at a local community theatre. However, I don’t think it has enough to make it to the New York Time‘s bestseller list or to carry it to Broadway, if I was to continue the theatre comparison.

Please note that I received a copy of this ebook for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Not So Sweet on “Amish Sweethearts”

Amish Sweethearts

Does it look like the forest is on fire to anyone else or is that just me?

Okay, it kills me that I don’t have a glowing review for Leslie Gould’s new book, Amish Sweethearts. I always look forward to being transported back to an idyllic setting where the modern world fades away as faith, farms, and friendships take the forefront. However, with this book, I was rather looking forward to the last page. It isn’t that I hated it–I just didn’t love it. I’m sure my Kobo Glo taking over a minute to flip a page did not help, but I truly am not holding that against the ebook itself. I’ll share one positive and one negative aspect of the story and then let you decide for yourself what you think of it!

I’ll start with the negative. For this being a love story, it drove me crazy that the two main characters spent over half of the book not saying a word to each other. To provide a little background, the two main characters (Zane, an Englisher, and Lila, an Amish girl) grew up next to each other and were best friends as kids. When Zane graduated from high school, they did not admit their secret feelings for each other. Instead, Lila started dating a nice Amish young man her father chose, and Zane, with a broken heart, joined the army so that he would have a purpose in life. Zane went off to war, which the peace-loving Amish people do not support. As the story progressed over the next several years, the pair would go out of their way to avoid each other, even though they were often within walking distance of one another. I just personally find it hard to believe that love could still burn so strong and could get stronger over time when you go out of your way to avoid the other person’s presence.

With the negative part of my review over, I’ll tell you what I thought Leslie Gould did exceptionally well and that is transporting readers to a little written about setting–that of the mountainous region of Afghanistan. As an American, I have limited exposure to the people and customs of Afghanistan. I’m afraid I only hear about the country in terms of the war in Afghanistan, which I’m rather ashamed to admit. However, through Zane’s time stationed in Afghanistan during the war, Gould really made me have a greater appreciation for the Afghani people and what their lives are like. I feel like I know more about Afghanistan from reading Amish Sweethearts than I have learned about the country in my entire life. She made the people seem real to me. I am more interested in what is happening in that country since I have a greater idea what daily life is like for its residents.

It’s not often that I don’t write a glowing review. However, I promised to write an honest review in exchange for receiving the free ebook. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel!

Remembering 9/11 and My Experience Visiting 1 World Trade Center

When I first moved to New York and began exploring the area this summer, I couldn’t help but go to the site of the World Trade Centers. I did not want to since the pain of that day is still very real when I think of it; yet, I was inexplicably drawn to the area where such carnage and horror happened. I felt like I was walking on sacred grounds, and to be honest, I hated how many tourists were there even though I was one of them. I honestly could not stay very long because it just felt wrong–the site had become a tourist attraction instead of a somber site where you go to pay your respects. After touching some of the victims’ names engraved in the reflecting pool, I paid my respects to the wall honoring the fallen firemen. I felt a small prickle of pride when viewing the Freedom Tower, yet I almost wished the site had been developed differently. I’m not sure what would have been more appropriate than the current plans, except for maybe if the Twin Towers themselves had been rebuilt. This is such a difficult subject in American history, it is hard to figure out what honors America’s strength and America’s fallen people the best.

In honor of everyone lost thirteen years ago today, I wanted to share some of my photos of the site in their memory.

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Labor Day – A Day You Celebrate Working by Doing Nothing

The other day, my husband made a comment wondering why we celebrate Labor Day. It just seems like a time that people go to the lake or beach to party and enjoy the last warm days of summer. Although that seems like the most common reason, Americans and Canadians created Labor Day to serve as a tribute to hardworking men and women. Labor unions first started celebrating the day as early as 1882, when the first Labor Day Parade was held in New York City. I had no idea until I started doing some research on the topic that labor unions specifically chose the first Monday in September because it was halfway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving.

As we celebrate Labor Day here in America, I am thankful that I am an American that is physically able to pursue a career that I love–one in publishing. I am even more thankful that I have a husband who works hard to support us (and our kitties and birdie!) while I am pursuing my dream job. I seriously have the best husband ever and am so thankful that he worked hard in South Carolina while I moved up to NYC this past summer to earn my publishing certification at NYU.

Now I am off to fill out a job application before getting back to the new book I just started reading. No worries, my cat, Caesar, is working hard to make sure my book doesn’t go somewhere until I pick it up again. Someone should seriously hire him to check book binding durability.

Caesar with Victoria Bylin's "Until I found You"

Caesar with Victoria Bylin’s “Until I found You”

Anyways, here is to being able to celebrate Labor Day next year as an employed woman! :raises root beer:

Credit goes here for the Labor Day info.

Tuesday’s Bits and Bobs

I am in awe of this woman’s nature photography.

Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY

This last week has been so crazy, that I am not sure I have a lot to tell you. I suppose there is always going to be weeks like that.  I feel like I am just in a no go zone right now.  It has been so quiet, with no classes and people not wanting to do any classes with me, I’m trying not to take it to heart, and am hoping it is more about the weather and as the weather improves the inquiries will start.

Planning Trips and Workshops

I am planning my next trip to Woomelang and am hoping to run another workshop there on night time photography.  It would be great to actually do a class in Woomelang, perhaps around the shearing shed and silos.  There are so many things around there that would be interesting, and of course we can also try some light painting…

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My first post!

Oh my! I’m excited to get a blog rolling, but there is much more than I expected to set up! Too bad I’m so picky and keep wanting to do things only allowed if you purchase an account upgrade. Maybe later I can do that. 🙂