Yearly Archives: 2023

The Shaping of a Diamond by Desiree Batiste (Book Review)

“A poem is a moment frozen in time – the words like a photograph. They capture the tears that you were too broken to cry, the emotions too strong to process, the joy too pure to forget and lock it away in time. When a poem is read and shared, any similar moments or experiences felt by the reader will trigger the same emotional response in them that the author captured in that moment, and will allow those emotions to flow freely. In this, poetry is very healing, therapeutic and cathartic.” Desiree Batiste

CONTENT GUIDANCE: This book explores aspects of mental health challenges and contains depictions of self-harm, physical and sexual abuse. These aspects may be difficult for some readers. Please read with care.

The Shaping of a Diamond is a poetic journey through the most emotional moments of author Desiree Batiste’s life. Life cut deep, and Desiree was beaten down repeatedly throughout her life. But with each facet, she became the diamond she is today. From childhood through present day, from surviving child abuse to heartbreak, having kids, domestic violence, divorce and mental health issues – The Shaping of a Diamond leaves out nothing and is a raw, uncensored look at the pain which shaped, inspired, and pushed her to her limits, as well as the moments which healed and saved her. This compilation of poems written by Desiree over a 27-year period contains works from the following genres: Motivational, Emotive, Adult, Inspirational/Uplifting, Moods, Romance, Death/Loss, Spirituality and Mental Illness Awareness. Desiree’s goal in sharing this book with the world was twofold: to provide healing and closure to herself for all of the traumatic experiences she endured and to provide strength, understanding, inspiration, motivation and encouragement to others who may find themselves currently in similar circumstances.

Trauma, sadness and loss have a tendency to make people feel like they are isolated and alone. It becomes harder to function and to carry on. By creating this book, Desiree has reached out to any and all people who have had similar experiences and feelings to let them know that ‘we are all in this together’. Her survival enabled her to achieve inner peace and start the wonderful life she has now, and she believes if she can achieve it, anyone else has same chance at peace and happiness. Rough patches in life do not have to dictate its permanent course: we, as individuals, do that.

These poems are all based in fact, and are feelings captured during the best or worst moments in Desiree’s life. As pain is often captured in the poems because they were written in the moment or soon following the moment, some of them are dark-themed and very raw in their emotion. The point of writing like this was to highlight those extreme human emotions – emotions which we all feel and share in common when we are hurt or we struggle – and reach out a metaphorical hand to all people out there. Her hope is that her poems may help others to be encouraged, inspired, uplifted and save them some of the painful struggles she went through during the darkest times of her life. Desiree also hopes her words inspire people to open up and talk or write about their own painful and joyous moments. Life will continue to surprise us, test us and devastate us. It is what we choose to do with those moments that will make a difference – for each individual, for each life…the venue of expression is yours. Desiree’s hope for each and every person who reads The Shaping of a Diamond is that they find answers, comfort, peace, joy…and to know that there is at least one “someone” out there that understands what they are going through, and cares. Where feelings can be shared, one is never alone.

 
 
 
 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 
 

The Shaping of a Diamond is a collection of poems by Desiree Batiste that covers memorable moments from childhood to now. Desiree speaks openly and honestly about depression, relationships, abuse, and hopes for the future. They didn’t pull any punches or sugarcoat anything, which I respect. Everything they’ve gone through, the good and the bad, have shaped them into the person they are today— on a path to a bright future. 

Before eachfacet of the life (chapter), the author summarizes their life during these times. Facet 1: Childhood background information spoke of her father, a disabled Vietnam vet, and her abusive, unhinged mother. Her mother wasn’t always the villain in her life’s story. But when she became one, the child’s inner light became dimmer. I didn’t see a “trigger warning” disclaimer for facet one, but it needs one. The subject matter might be emotionally and psychologically difficult for some individuals to read. I was in tears throughout this first section, especially when reading “The Promise.” It touched me on a personal level. 

As we enter her high school years, the author questions if God has it in for them (Things That Go Wrong). This is a common thought, a question when life seems to beat us down. We wonder if we did something in a past life to deserve this punishment. Does God hate us? What have we done, and why can’t we find happiness? Again, this is another poem that spoke volumes to me. During the poems connected to her “adulthood,” the writer sees God in a more positive light. Heaven will wash away their pain and sorrow. Religious people will agree as you walk through the pearly gates, all your pain, suffering, and sadness vanishes. 

Facet 4: The Pit of Despair discusses the author’s relationships, beginning with “You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore.” Again, due to the subject matter, I must issue a trigger warning disclaimer. It might cause an extreme emotional response: PTSD, panic attacks, dark thoughts, etc. Again, in this section, I found myself reaching for Kleenexes. I lost my father, a serviceman, and reading “My Father’s Eyes” made me think of him and all he’s missed and will miss. Her “dream” made me cry even harder because she reminded me that even though my father was not beside me, at least he was not in pain anymore. That does give me some solace. 

Desiree Batiste and I have many things in common, including how we escape from reality: music, dance, and writing (Facet 5: Sweet Escapes). All three quiet my mind when darkness takes root. 

Though darkness is a common theme in the writings, Facet 6: A Love Story contains more uplighting poems, and my tear ducts thank you! It was nice to see the author found happiness, passion, and love. However, things took a dark turn in the next section. Family should be a tight-knit function, but hers is falling apart at the seams. Desiree is a strong woman, and it took an enormous amount of strength to handle everything life has thrown at her and for her to share her story with others. 

She, like so many of us, carries scars from our past. They change us in ways we never imagined. But as she stated so eloquently, her turbulent past showed how “badass” she was. She’s a fighter, a dreamer, and, most importantly, a SURVIVOR. 

Desiree’s story will inspire others to keep fighting, don’t give up hope for a brighter future. I encourage you to read it, but (again) remember that many areas contain possible triggers. 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

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Meet the Author

Desiree Batiste was born in Mesa, Arizona in 1979. She has been diagnosed with PTSD and several anxiety disorders as the result of her past experiences. She graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelors of Science in Technical Management with Criminal Justice specialization in 2020.

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Dream Heist by Christina Farley (Book Review)

 

Your dreams are no longer safe…

Eighteen-year-old Aria Hale loves her job at her father’s dream therapy company where she enters dementia patients’ dreams to save their memories. But when their lab is ransacked, two technicians are murdered, and her father is kidnapped, everything changes for her.

Determined to find her father, Aria and her friends embark on a harrowing hunt across continents using the dreams of their enemies to guide them. But this dangerous journey plunges her into a world she never bargained for: deception, intrigue, and even love. As she races to save her father and hunt down her enemies, she soon realizes she’s in fact the one being hunted. And her dreams are the greatest danger of all.

In the vein of Inception meets The Bourne Identity, THE DREAM HEIST propels readers into fast-paced adventure that will have you racing to the very end.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from R&R Book Tours.
I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

A person must treat dream walking as one would time traveling, observe but don’t interact. You need to get in and get out unnoticed. Aria broke her father’s rule. She broke more than one. She knew patient 145 identity and didn’t take fade out of the Dreamscape. Her rule-breaking did, in the end, become their saving grace.

Dr. Hale created MaxLife with good intentions. He wanted to help restore the memories of dementia patients. However, others saw his technology as a way to fatten their bank accounts. 

There was a blossoming romance between two eighteen-year-old high schoolers, but they only kissed. Their connection was crucial to stopping their adversaries in their trackers. 

The methods they used to stop the “bad guys” will intrigue those in the tech world. It’ll be right up the alley of those whose favorite genre is science fiction. 

If you’re a gamer, you’ll like Jake’s private workstation and gaming ideas. Comics fans might like it too! 

Murder. Explosions. Kidnappings. Poison. Humor. Suspense. Action. Adventure. Vivid dream sequences. These ten things made Dream Heist a book I’ll want to read more than once, and hopefully, you too. It also made me rethink ever joining a sleep study test. 🙂

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 

Amazon Purchase Link

 

 

Meet the Author

Farley jpg

CHRISTINA FARLEY is the author of the bestselling Gilded series, THE PRINCESS AND THE PAGE, and THE DREAM HEIST. Prior to that, she worked as an international teacher and at a top secret job for Disney where she was known to scatter pixie dust before the sun rose. When not traveling the world or creating imaginary ones, she spends time with her family in Clermont, Florida with her husband and two sons where they are busy preparing for the next World Cup, baking cheesecakes, and raising a pet dragon that’s in disguise as a cockatiel. Visit her online at ChristinaFarley.com.

Christina Farley | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

 

 

 

 

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The Topsy-Turvy Bus by Anita Fitch Pazner (Book Review)

Reuse, recycle, renew, and rethink!

Climb aboard the Topsy-Turvy Bus with Maddy and Jake as it travels around the country teaching communities the importance of taking care of the earth and creating a better, cleaner, healthier world.

Based on a real Topsy-Turvy Bus created by Hazon, the largest Jewish environmental organization in North America.

Amazon Purchase Link

 

For Teachers & Librarians

Bring Anita into your classroom! View her presentation list.

Download classroom worksheets here:

Worm Maze

Word Search

Word Scramble

Beginner Crossword Puzzle

Intermediate Crossword Puzzle

Topsy Turvy Coloring Page

Picture Matching Game

 

(review request submitted by the publisher for an honest critique) 

 

The Topsy-Turvy Bus is correct: “Our planet is dirty and messy.” Plastic bottles and garbage are littering our waters and our coastlines. The problem isn’t only the trash that plagues our seas. There’s also pollution from cars, fertilizers that taint our soils, and the adverse effects drilling and mining have on our environment. Earth is hurting, but how do we help it?

The children in the story don’t know what to do and discuss the issue when the most unusual bus rolls down the street. “Nobody had ever seen a bus like the Topsy-Turvy Bus. It was upside down and right side up, all at the same time. And it didn’t run on gasoline.” I’ve been behind trucks that smell like french fries from using recycled fast-food restaurants’ frying oil as fuel, but donuts—now, that’s a vehicle I’d love to travel behind or on! 

The Topsy-Turvy Bus will inspire children to think outside the box and be creative in reusing, recycling, or repurposing things around their house and community. Maybe your family or school could make this a project. 

Years ago, as a teacher, our school taught students the importance and value of starting a compost. Each classroom started and maintained one. I encourage you to read “Make Your Own Compost” and consider constructing one for your home or classroom. And as always, please reduce, recycle, and reuse.

Side note: I was shocked to realize the topsy-turvy bus was real. “You can find a Topsy-Turvy Bus in two locations in the United States. The first is in Connecticut, the second in Michigan. Both run on biodiesel fuel consisting of reusable veggie oil. The buses were created to teach kids how to recycle, rethink, reuse, and renew our world’s resources.” If I’m ever in those two states, I plan to hop aboard the unique and environmentally friendly topsy-turvy bus.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤

Amazon Purchase Link

 

 

About the Author

Anita earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) and a Master Gardening degree from Michigan State University. She’s created picture-book workshops for kids of all ages, ranging from second graders to high school students. She’s presented lectures for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), VCFA, and The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP). She continues to volunteer her time to several non-profit organizations including Hazon, dedicated to making the world a better, cleaner, kinder place for us all. Anita spends her free time training a rascally dog, named Finn, and playing in the dirt. 

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Lauren The Cow by T I Frazier (Book Review)

Taking place in the countryside, Lauren is a Jersey cow (calf) who is determined to be a jumping cow when she grows up. She has to work hard and train if she is going to accomplish her dream. In the end, she doesn’t just jump but discovers she can fly.

This story teaches children to believe in themselves and to try new things even if it has never been done before. It encourages the spirit of exploring yourself and to push beyond what you think is possible.

Amazon Purchase Link

 

 


I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

Lauren is a Jersey cow (calf) who lives with her mom on a farm in the countryside. Lauren is unlike other calves. She doesn’t spend her days grazing with the other cows in the pasture. No, Lauren has her head in the clouds, dreaming about becoming a jumping cow when she grows up. Even though her mom said, “My dear, cows don’t jump,” Lauren isn’t going to allow that statement to deter her from her life’s goal. Lauren is determined to make her dream a reality. 

With most things in life, practice is key to success. Lauren starts with small jumps— a blade of grass and quickly moves onto bigger targets. With multiple successful jumps, she’s ready to tackle a more challenging obstacle, a fence. Lauren gathered her courage and raced towards the fence. Unfortunately, her first attempt fell short. In life, we often fail at our first attempt at something new, and that’s okay; it’s how we handle these failures that shape us. 

Lauren was feeling discouraged for not making it over the fence. She doubted her ability, a familiar feeling we all face over failing at anything. However, Lauren’s friends rallied around her, boasted her confidence, and the little calf leaped over the fence. Hooray! 

Lauren The Cow by T.I. Frazier is a short story about having the courage to do the impossible and triumphing over adversity. Besides the wonderful plot, the images were stunning. Cheers go out to Meritxell Andreu for their remarkable cover design and illustrations. And cheers to T.I. Frazier for their creating an unforgettable, inspirational story!

Lauren The Cow is a perfect book for many ages. Babies and toddlers will love the bright colors and animals. Three through five-year-olds will adore the story’s plot and resolution. Kindergarteners and older can use this book as a tool to practice their reading skills. 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤

Amazon Purchase Link

 

 

Meet the Author

After nearly 10yrs in the military, T.I. Frazier settled in the countryside of Michigan with his wife, son, dog, and cat. Tim writes inspirational books and children’s stories. He aspires to teach, motivate, and serve others, empowering them to strive past the unknown and to explore their passions.

Reedsy Author Link

 

 

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Leah Travels to The Red Mountain Peak: A Book on Mindfulness, Speaking Up and Letting Go by A. S. Tudo (Book Review)

This anti-bullying story carves the path of kindness towards conflict resolution.

Is your little one transitioning towards being a balanced, calm being, but could use a little bit of help with regulating their emotions? Or perhaps they had a challenging time with someone who said or acted in an unkind way?

Meet Leah!

Leah’s journey to The Red Mountain Peak will make her stronger without bursting her bubbly self and everyone is welcome for the ride.

Leah is different. Beautifully different. From the bright orange colour of her wings to her taking-things-easy-attitude.

She makes a special friend because she is present enough to see it. She learns how powerful her breath is when she needs it the most. And she learns to deal with her emotions, speak up and stand up for herself when someone treats her poorly. Uncover the natural wisdom of the world with Leah and her friends.

This story deals with tackling bullying and teaches children to take action in five easy steps, starting with the mindfulness practice of thinking of the breath. Help empower young humans to apply critical thinking and open up to deep conversations by sharing and talking about stories like this.

P.S. This story also addresses the uncomfortable truth – parents are humans too and sometimes they might give conflicting signals when showing affection. Trust gets consolidated through owning up and talking things through and accountability goes both ways in the parent-child relationship.

 
 
 
 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 

“Is your little one transitioning towards being a balanced, calm being, but could use a little bit of help with regulating their emotions? Or perhaps they had a challenging time with someone who said or acted in an unkind way? This anti-bullying story carves the path of kindness towards conflict resolution.” 

Leah Travels to The Red Mountain Peak: A Book on Mindfulness, Speaking Up and Letting Go, written and illustrated by A. S. Tudo, is designed with children 4-12 years in mind. The illustrations appear to have been drawn by a child. I’m not sure if this design was intended, but I think they will appeal to 2 to 4-year-olds. However, 10 to 12 years olds might consider them and the storyline childish since their taste starts to involve more complex designs and longer page counts at this age. Leah Travels to The Red Mountain Peak: A Book on Mindfulness, Speaking Up and Letting Go was a cute story that I’m sure many children will select to read daily during story time. 

The Land of the Seven Hilltops and a Mountain are waking up, and every bug is hard at work except Leah, the ladybug. The other bugs were not so nice to Leah and made her cry. They said rude things to her and hurt her feelings. This behavior will strike a chord with many children and opens the door to discussing bullying and the effects of not treating others with kindness. Ersa, the dewdrop, will teach children what to do if and when they are bullied. This story also points out that everyone, including parents, makes mistakes, so communication is an excellent first step in handling issues. 

While I wasn’t overly impressed with the illustrations, the story made excellent points and should be shared with children, even those not currently being bullied. 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

Amazon Purchase Link

 

 

Meet the Author

A. S. Tudo’s mission is to create stories that help adults and children act with kindness, even when someone’s actions are hurtful. ‘Leah Travels to The Red Mountain Peak’ is the first book of ‘Leah’s Adventures’ series.

Reedsy Author Link

 

 

 

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