Book Review: José and the Pirate Captain Toledano

Set in the shadows of the Spanish Inquisition, this is the coming-of-age story of José Alfaro, a young refugee who forms a powerful bond with the mysterious Pirate Captain Toledano. It’s also a dynamic pirate adventure on the high seas, with hand-to-hand combat and ship-to-ship action, and the powerful story of a dark time in history when people took different paths to survive.

José Alfaro is a cocky, rambunctious teen in the 16th-century colony of Santo Domingo, pulling pranks and dodging the authorities. One day, José’s mischief lands him in serious trouble.

Hoping for a fresh start, he stows away on the Laqish, not knowing that it’s a pirate ship. From his hiding place, he watches the pirates divide their loot and plan their attacks on long days at sea. He also takes note of the respect they have for their captain, the intimidating Toledano.

But the captain has a secret―like José, he is a Jew. For him, piracy is not about the gold; it has a different purpose.

Under the tutelage of the ship’s quartermaster, José learns the intricacies of pirate life. But when he can, the captain finds ways to pull José away from the crew, to teach him about his ancestors.

José finds his community. His place. His voice. His purpose.

This is a pirate story, but also a story of survival―a story of a young man’s deep need to know who he is, where he comes from, and where he’s going.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A great read for kids who love reading about pirates and histories. I think it is suitable for older school kids due to the length of the book, which is close to 100 pages, but it has interesting illustrations to keep the kids invested in the reading process right until the end. I love how the author has chosen to explain about the Jewish culture in ways that kids would understand and this is an excellent way to introduce cultures to kids. If you are Jewish or would want to expose your kids to new culture, this is an excellent read.

Book Review: Song Girl: A Mystery in Two Verses Paperback by Keith Hirshland

Detective Marc Allen is ready to leave the Raleigh, North Carolina, Police Department. Two murders that happened on his watch have apparently been solved thanks to a suicide note confession written by a distraught father. But Allen isn’t buying it. He’s convinced that the man’s adopted daughter, Teri Hickox, is the one responsible for the heinous crimes. With his personal life a muddle and his professional career unsettled he decides the best thing for him is a change of scenery. The detective, now in Colorado Springs, is working new cases and making new friends. One of those friends is Hannah Hunt who, after suffering a freak accident, finds herself only able to speak in song titles. Another is a mysterious drifter who lives out of an old Dodge van and goes by “the champ”. But as Allen builds a new future, events unfold showing him that he can’t escape his past.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘Song Girl’ is a highly entertaining, fast-paced and engaging read. The author did a great job at detailing the scenes and the characters, literally bringing you into the scenes with the vivid descriptions of characters and emotions behind them. The main character, Detective Allen is a resilient man who goes after his instincts despite having issues in his personal and professional lives. We soon see him making new friends and trying to step out of the environment he is used to being in. That is when he sees a girl who is able to speak only in song titles, due to a freak accident. He is also forced to face the evil female antagonist in order to resolve a crime. An entertaining mystery read overall!

Book Review: Mom of Two – Study case: Erik and gluten-free life at 3 years old

Catalina brought us along to walk down the memory lane, as she struggled with her toddler who is gluten intolerant and how she found ways that worked for her in replacing gluten products in the home and family meals, and how they had to avoid restaurants that are not catering to the needs of Erik’s diet. I do believe that this book provides an overview of what parents should be aware of when they have kids needing special diet, not just in terms of the dietary needs but also the mental preparation that parents can expect along the way.

Book Review: Never Quit Climbing by Gary Sinclair

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I like how Gary brings us with his climbing journeys, relate them with his own personal struggles and suggests how those challenges and key takeaway messages can be incorporated into our lives, no matter what we are going through. I personally feel that Gary’s love for climbing teaches him to embrace the uncertainties in life and that trains him to feel comfortable with challenges. I think it is an excellent way of looking at toughening ourselves up by being open to carrying out difficult activities in life as it gives a feedback to our body of what we are capable of handling in life.

A great read and I enjoyed reading this book.

Book Review: Time and the Tree by Róisín Sorahan

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Róisín very creatively weaved a story filled with interesting characters that teach important life lessons. The Time and the Tree has two important characters in it, The Boy and Time. The character development adds to the whimsical plot and lyrical writing, .making readers feel like they are reliving the experiences reading Aesop’s Fables.

The Time and The Tree mostly has healthy arguments on life, making readers ponder upon their own lives. I felt like I was watching an animated movie with these characters breathing life to the story. If you have been struggling with life, especially in this post pandemic world, this book will encourage you to relook at life from an honest point of view, and help you live a truthful life.

Book Review: Attitude of Gratitude: 30-Day Gratitude Journal

Start each day with gratitude. This is a self-exploration journal, designed to make you feel more thankful and build a new outlook on life. Each day dedicate some time to self-reflect and check in with yourself.

  • 30-Day Gratitude Journal
  • Gratitude Daily Habits
  • Explore Self-Reflective Questions
  • Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A great 30-day gratitude journal that helps to develop the attitude to practice gratitude. A pretty book that makes you want to look forward to spending time for self-reflection. The writing prompts include:

1. Name three things you are grateful for today.
2. Use the emoji’s below to rate your level of happiness.
3. Use the space below to reflect on your day. What went well? What are you looking forward to tomorrow?

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting kickstart their journaling habit in a sustainable manner.

Book Review: The Stars Beyond the Mesa – In the Giant’s Shadow Book One by Pete A O’Donnell

Rating: 5 out of 5.

An exciting page-turner that features 5 kids whose parents are scientists. Their parents are on a dangerous and secret mission, and these kids try to decipher the mystery along the way. An enjoyable fast-paced read that takes place within three days and therefore offers a lot of suspense and thrillers for readers. A great middle-grade read that would entertain just about anyone who reads it.

Book Review: The Cursed Item Merchant: A Young Adult Fantasy of Cursed Enchanting Tales by Endlyn

The cursed items are powerful… But not as strong as their friendship.

Menda spent her whole childhood living a simple life in the village. A serene and happy existence surrounded by the love of her family and friends. But all changed on one perilous evening when the blight of the Dark Dragon emerged, raining fire down upon the people of her home.

In a chance encounter, a cursed coat binds to her as a power source saving the town by absorbing the fire of the dragon’s breath. Fulfilling her part of the deal, Menda’s life changes forever. After a separation and a reunion the two learn to become friends.

Together, they journey the land discovering other cursed items and finding opportunities for the mysterious artifact to find mighty attachments just like theirs…

An illustrated fantasy packed full of stories of cursed items that will entwine and wrap around the reader. For Young Adults, New Adults, and Adults. A low Fantasy tale with beautifully drawn illustrations not to be missed.

Grab your copy of “The Cursed Item Merchant” Now and find out how indestructible a friendship can be.

Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This book is a short joyable read and the first written by the author. I particularly liked the world building aspects and how the main character, Menda, was covered by a curse coat which enabled her to save her village from the destruction of Dragon. She then brings us for a roller-coaster adventure where she saves many more others using her newfound power. I like how the author has woven the story to connect one characters with the others, making it an enjoyable read. It is a little over 200 pages and can be read within a few days. A fairly easy read. Highly recommended if you like Young Adult & Sorcery Fantasy

Book Review: Rumpelstiltskin’s Rules for Making Your Farthings Grow

Rumpelstiltskin’s Rules for Making Your Farthings Grow is a charming introduction to investing! I have long felt that I should know more about the topic but have struggled to find resources that don’t confuse me or put me to sleep. This book solved both problems! It’s an engaging resource that has empowered me to be a better steward of my limited retirement funds.”

— Sally L. Bond, President & Senior Consultant, The Program Evaluation Group, LLC, Chapel Hill, NC

Ready to get a clue about investing and take charge of your financial future?

Before you sink a single dollar into the stock market, read Rumpelstiltskin’s Rules for Making Your Farthings Grow by Susan Laubach. It’s a fun, painless, and profitable introduction to the world of investing.

If terms like broker, bonds, and venture capital cause you to break out into a sweat, fear not! Laubach teaches through entertaining, colorful retellings of fables and fairy tales you already know by heart.

You’ll learn business and investing fundamentals right alongside The Three Little Pigs, Sleeping Beauty, Goldilocks, and more.

  • How are stocks and bonds different?
  • What causes a stock price to go up or down?
  • Why are earnings per share critical to understand?

You’ll even learn an easy-to-apply “secret formula” to discover if a stock price is a good value—or not!

Investment concepts are broken down in easy-to-understand, easy-to-remember language. Rumpelstiltskin’s seven rules will provide a foundation for all your future investments. (They’ll also equip you to sniff out the foxes and wolves selling bad investments).

These “rules” are essential for investing, served with a smile, so you can laugh while learning.

A practical summary and study guide at the back of the book further reinforces your knowledge and provides a quick refresher whenever you need it.

With Susan Laubach as your storyteller and guide, you can be sure you’re in good hands. She is a former Wall Street stockbroker and financial educator. She’s taught several levels of investment education to students aged 18 to 74. Better Investing Magazine called Laubach’s previous book “the most-well rounded source of basic stock information and education.”

Look, if Baby Bear can grow up to be a successful stock broker, then you can learn to invest, too.

Time is money, and there’s no better time to learn about investing than right now. Make Rumpelstiltskin’s Rules for Making Your Farthings Grow your first—or next—investment in your financial future. The knowledge you’ll gain will pay dividends for the rest of your life.

Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a great book for older children to understand the crucial concepts in finance when they are young as they would otherwise struggle to be interested in learning as they grow older. I still remember Robert Kiyosaki’s book The Rich Dad Poor Dad and that was the first exposure to financial intelligence we got growing up, and that too when we were young adults. A book like this would definitely interest young kids to start understanding money literacy and the wisdoms from the author can be passed on to them at an early age in life. I love how the author has incorporated fairy-tale-like stories to make the concepts simpler, so that the kids remain interested when learning all 7 rules in investing.

Book Review: Boo’s Shoes – A Rabbit And Fox Story: Learn To Tie Shoelaces by Sybrina Durant

An Interview with the Author

No Laces! That’s what Boo, the bunny, always says. He doesn’t want to learn to tie them. He has plenty of shoes for every occasion and none of them have laces or strings. So, what’s the point of learning to tie? His friend, Farah Fox, convinces him that it’s a skill he can use. . . and one that might make him happier, too.

This book is meant to be a parent-child activity. Youngsters can read Boo’s story and their parents can help with the how-to-tie instruction pages. A fun shoelace-themed “I Did It” badge is included at the back of the book to give in celebration of conquering this difficult task.

Exercises in manual dexterity build self-esteem in children. Knowing how to tie shoe-strings, scarves and more into a bow is a useful and rewarding skill.

“Teach a child a useful skill. Build confidence and self-esteem that lasts a lifetime.”
Author, Sybrina Durant

Other books in the “Learn To Tie With The Rabbit and the Fox” series are the book with that name in English, Spanish and Tagalog plus a special little book to gift to boys in a wedding party. “Nellie Knows How To Knot A Neck Scarf”, “Ned Knows How To Knot A Neck Tie” and “Cleo Can Tie A Bow” are also part of the series.

Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A very short yet entertaining kids’ book that teaches how to tie the shoe laces in a fun and engaging way. With lots of colourful illustrations, the pages are not too wordy and the illustrations help in the “how-to” explanation when it comes to tying shoe laces. Love how the author incorporated links to videos where kids can further watch numerous ways to tie shoe laces. Fun and interactive short book, perfect as a Christmas gift.