Dr. Marsha and the Case of the Missing Hot Dogs and Marshmallows by ​Dr. Rachel B. Wellner M.D. (Book Review)

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Doctor Marsha is a children’s book series created to entertain children at the preschool through grade school level relying on educational content. Our main character, Marsha, will introduce kids to exciting challenges in basic health education as she explores the world vanquishing health problems. It is my hope that the characters will stimulate young minds by introducing them to a positive, professional figure that embodies the spirit of cultural competence, creativity, and adventure.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 
Dr. Marsha and the Case of the Missing Hot Dogs and Marshmallows by ​Dr. Rachel B. Wellner M.D teaches young children about nutrition as they solve the puzzling mystery – Who stole all the hot dogs and marshmallows and why?


Preschool children will love the characters, who have human jobs and wear human clothing. In our house, Terrence Toad stole the show. My daughter thought the drawing of him with his tongue out while he was thinking about hot dogs and marshmallows was funny. 


What I liked about the story was the repetition. While there are several words I don’t think young readers will be able to decipher, I think older and more experienced readers will have no trouble. 


As for the mystery, it was fun guessing who we thought stole the “junk food.” After the mystery was solved, we discussed what “junk food” and healthy foods we liked to eat. Surprise, surprise, my youngest said she would eat marshmallows over oatmeal for breakfast. Sorry, Louie the llama. 


I don’t want to spoil why the hot dogs and marshmallows were stolen; however, the reason gave us an idea of what to draw during art time. For dinner, we also decided to make hot dogs and s’mores. 😀

 
Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Meet the Author:
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Dr. Rachel Wellner is a board-certified general surgeon and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, most recently the Assistant Professor of surgery at the Monteflore-Einstein Center for Care. She has also been Director of Breast Services at NYEE/Continuum Cancer Center, Pascal Valley Hospital, and Palisades General Hospital. Dr. Wellner graduated Magna Cum Lauda and Phi Betta Kappa from Dartmouth College, earned her medical degree from the University of Connecticut and her Master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia University. She pursued her surgical training at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine and worked to establish a clinical rotation in an underserved region of The Dominican Republic. She completed Society of Surgical Oncology-accredited breast oncology fellowship at the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, California. She has been featured as a guest expert on several local and national news networks, including WPLX 11, Fox and Friends, and CNN.
 
Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook 
 

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Letters to Jacob: Grieving the Loss of a Child by Maria Hopfgarten (Book Review)

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​Maria Hopfgarten’s son Jacob was born on January 31, 2006. He was the most perfect baby boy she had ever seen. But Jacob had devastating health issues, culminating in a diagnosis of mitochondrial disease, a fatal condition. In the ten short years of Jacob’s life, Maria found strength in blogging about Jacob’s life. Her raw, honest posts from the year after Jacob’s passing have been gathered into this book along with Maria’s tips for parents coping with their their own grief after losing a child. “If you have lost a child, you know you’re weathering the largest storm life can bring you. I hope that my words of loss, tears, punches, smiles, friendships, and renewed happiness can give you a sense of not being along on this journey.”​
 
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 
 
No story has ever hit me as hard as Letters to Jacob: Grieving the Loss of a Child by Maria Hopfgarten didThe “Introduction” did not just bring tears to my eyes; it had me sobbing. I had to lay the book down several times because I could not see the words through my tears. 


Each “letter” to Jacob touched my heart deeply, and I felt the family’s pain and their love during and after his departure from this world. At the end of each letter, Maria Hopfgarten (the author and mother to Jacob) gave helpful and thoughtful tips/pieces of advice in “Coping with Grief.” Since there are over 100 in all, I don’t think Maria Hopfgarten will mind if I share a few with you. 


 

  • Transform pieces of your loved one’s clothing into blankets or pillows.
  • Plant a tree or bush in memory of them.
  • “Cherish your family who is still standing by your side.”

 
Through the sadness, many touching moments will make you smile and possibly cry some more. I don’t want to divulge too much, but certain events recapped will emphasize how one little boy touched so many hearts, and his story will continue to do so for many years to come. 


After the “Epilogue,” I thought my crying time was over. I was wrong. “Mom” didn’t just make me cry a little — it caused me to sob. Throughout the story, I thought of my children, especially at this point, and the tears would not stop flowing. Even now, as I write this review, I’m wiping tears off my cheeks and stopping to blow my nose repeatedly. 


Maria Hopfgarten, thank you for sharing Jacob’s story with us. It was sad, beautifully written, and I’m forever changed for reading it. 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤
(deserves a million more)

 

Buy the Book
Amazon

 
 
Meet the Author
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Maria Hopfgarten began her blog Moments with Jacob in 2009, writing about Jacob’s life with mitochondrial disease. She had followers around the globe. Maria continued to write blog posts to Jacob after he passed in 2016 to make sense of the loss of her son. Jacob was 10 years old. She has now turned part of the blog into the book “Letters to Jacob,” sharing her raw, honest first-hand experience on grieving the loss of a child.

Maria is the President of the non-profit Miracles for Mito and has been supporting families living with mitochondrial disease for over a decade. She has also been an active Parent Partner at Children’s Hospital Colorado and has been a Parent voice for many chronically ill children. Maria also sits on the Patient Safety Committee of the Board at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Originally from Sweden and with a degree in Journalism from Stockholm University, Maria lives with her husband Joakim, daughter Sarah, and rescue dog Max in Colorado. Her favorite thing to do is to share a good cup of coffee or glass of wine with a friend. Maria loves the outdoor and is always up for a bike ride or hike.

Connect with the Author:  Website ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

 
 

 

 

 

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Finding My Sunshine (A Memoir) by Shannon Leith McGuire (Book Spotlight / Author Interview)

FINDING MY SUNSHINE by Shannon Leith McGuire
Content Rating:  PG+M for bad language, anger, and suicidal thoughts, clinical depression, and assault
 
“What if that someone was you?” Shannon had been so quick to blame others for her anger. She knew she was drowning in darkness and pain; being born with a learning disability made her feel defeated by life. She tried drinking heavily in order to quiet the demons. After being kicked out of college, Shannon took a leap of faith and started working in a nursing home. That’s when her angels appeared and the miracle began. The insight and wisdom she gained from those elderly new friends led her on an inspiring journey of discovery and self-acceptance. Each of us has our own path. Some of us just need angels to help us find it. This is her story.
 
 
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Meet the Author:
 
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Bio: Shannon was raised in a small town in Eastern Montana, where you leave your car keys in the ignition and your front door unlocked all the time. The kind of place where sunsets and sunrises can be seen for miles on the horizon. Where the spring crickets and frogs resting in the irrigation ditches helped transition the days into a calm resting night. Where the winters can get so cold, air can freeze.

It was only after she was academically suspended by the college she was attending, that she became a Certified Nurses Aide (CNA). She did her training in Billings, Montana and it was there she learned how to take care of others and bonded with the geriatric population.

​For over five years, Shannon worked in the same nursing home where she received her training. The work was hard, but it grounded her and helped her find balance in what had become a deeply unbalanced life. It was not until she was a CNA, at one of the hospitals that she had a dream-three nights in a row-that she was going to become a nurse.

She currently resides in Tampa, Florida, where you may hear her laughing with her husband of over 10 years,  scuba diving in the ocean, taking walks with their rescued pit-bull dog- Darby, or dancing together to life’s music.

 

In your book you wrote how disappointed you were when you found out you had Poly Cystic Ovary disease and that you had always wanted to have 4 boys. Did you ever think of adopting?

Yes, I did. However, I knew for some time I could not take care of myself. How was I going to be able to take care of children?  I was not put together yet, and it took many years for me to feel like I was able to care for myself. I did not have the money to work with a fertility specialist. It was something I had to come to terms with and accept. It was not in God’s plans for me to become an actual mom.  So, I am a mom to my rescue dog, Darby. 

 

 

What is your pet peeve?

One thing I learned from my time in counseling with Tom is to be truthful.  I found that if you are honest in the beginning, everything really will turn out okay. There is no reason to lie.  Lies start a domino effect and people get hurt. Sometimes you cannot take back what was lied about. Saying “I am sorry” after a lie is owning up to the action, and it changes everything. I learned you only are as strong as your word. 

 

 

There are many memoirs out there about people’s lives. What makes yours so special?

 Like so many other memoirs, mine is about finding myself and finding a balance. I write about how I was trying to survive; I had darkness all around me. Counseling helped me shine the light on the darkness, and really helped me own up to my insecurities, anger, and hatred of myself. I realized I never was a victim of life.  I just needed help; I denied myself for many years. My hope is my book will help others get help earlier and live their best life and not wait so long to get it like I did. I hope others learn that mistakes are not a life sentence, and you can get better. But first you must admit you need help. That is the first step. I hope I make it easier for people who are struggling to find their way and let them know it is okay. And, let them know their lives can be SO much better.

 

 

Tell us more about your rescue dog, Darby.

Pit bulls have such a bad rap. I have learned a lot about the breed from watching Pitbull’s and Paroles and reading up on them on my own. We wanted to help.  We were on a web site, Pet Finder, and we saw her.  She looked like she had road rash on her right shoulder, and scars all over her face, but she was still smiling. We made an appointment to go meet her, and she was lovely.  She had healed stab wounds all over her body and her tongue needed to be surgically put back together. She was found when police did a raid on where she was living.  Jimmy’s Angels rescue center took her in, cared for her, and brought her back to life. We fell in love with her. They came out and did a home check. She has been with us for a little over a year now. She is living proof what a little bit of love can do to change someone’s world.  She goes everywhere with me.  (And she snores louder then my husband.)

 

 

Tell us more about your favorite resident. What drew you to her or him?

I have so many favorite people I have taken care of over the years. But I guess the 2 that I truly bonded with were Betty Ann and Phyllis. I talk about them in my book. I guess because they were once broken also, and both shared it with me.  They shared with me their stories and how they got through the tough times and struggled with addiction (alcohol) as well.  I guess what drew me to them was the rawness of how they were.  They too had one-night stands, got drunk at parties, lived by the seat of their pants, did what they needed to do to get by.  They helped me realize mistakes are not life sentences. It is just life.  They helped me stop taking things so seriously and being so hard on myself.

 
 
connect with the author: website
 
 
 
 
 
Disclaimer: All questions were constructed by the author and/or their representative. 
 
 
 

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War of the Staffs by Steve Stephenson and K.M. Tedrick (Book Review)

The goddess Adois brings a powerful vampire warlock named Taza through the void to turn Muiria into a planet of evil using her powerful staff. Needing an army, he turns a race of dark elves into vampires, but Prince Tarquin is born to fulfill a prophecy to stop Taza.

The prince cannot do it alone. The Wizard Celedant sends him to the Borderers, an elite group of dwarves to learn how to fight, while the wizard begins his search for the Staff of Adaman, the only thing capable of thwarting Taza and Adois’ Staff.

War of the Staffs is the search for two pieces of the ancient Staff of Adaman to counter Adois’ plans. The darkness is rising and using the black power of the Staff of Adois and his army of dark elves, giants, and orcs, Taza will begin a reign of terror the planet will not soon forget.

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

 

There were quite a few elements in War of the Staffs that reminded me of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. However, War of Staffs differed from the popular series (mentioned in the opening sentence) by incorporating vampires and unique magic abilities. Taza (warlock and vamp) used his specially acquired magical skills to infiltrate his enemies and summon beasts of all sizes. The creatures he controlled led us into some pretty epic battle scenes. You’ll witness clashes between dwarves and orcs, wizard versus wizard, powerful beasts descending from above, and those awaiting the heroes in dark caves. There were numerous entanglements, so you won’t have to wait long for action scenes! 

With the number of characters featured in War of the Staffs, this book could have its own trading card set. People would probably love to roleplay the book. However, I would suggest a Glossary of Characters and Terms. 

Heads up: War of the Staffs is book one in a series. 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤1/2

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KM Tedrick is a writer and ghostwriter in the fantasy, science fiction, adventure, Christian, and young adult genres with one book that was made into a movie, and over sixteen books published.
 
 
Author Steve Stephenson an admitted bibliophile collects rare fantasy and science fiction media. He obtained a B.A. in history and an M.A. in Library Science. He has written four books including the War of the Staffs trilogy.
 
 
You can connect with Steve Stephenson through his Facebook Link or at Linkedin
 

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Thrive: The Facilitator’s Guide to Radically Inclusive Meetings by Dr. Mark Smutny (Book Spotlight / Author Interview)

THRIVE: The Facilitator's Guide to Radically Inclusive Meetings by Dr. Mark Smutny
 
 
Imagine meetings where everyone is heard and all people matter.

Picture organizations that embrace all voices and are committed to justice, equity and opportunity. Imagine businesses, nonprofits and the public sector creatively engaging people in thousands of ways—seeking their best ideas, empowering the silenced, and building communities where all are treated with dignity and respect.

That’s what Thrive seeks to create.

Each chapter contains practical insights and accessible stories that transform meetings from dull to dynamic.

You will learn how to:

  • capitalize on diversity’s strengths.
  • keep meetings task-oriented and collegial.
  • facilitate effectively in polarized or conflicted settings.

Thrive includes chapters on privilege and power, multilingual and virtual meetings, and full inclusion of people with disabilities.

Whether you are a skilled practitioner or new to leadership, Thrive will teach you techniques for facilitating more effective, inclusive and energizing meetings.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Meet the Author:
Dr. Mark Smutny

 
Dr. Mark Smutny is a professional facilitator, consultant, speaker, author and founder of Civic Reinventions, Inc. He is known for helping organizations uncover the wisdom hidden in their diversity, build cohesion, and achieve their goals.

He draws upon decades of work planning and leading retreats, facilitating meetings, and working with nonprofits and businesses. He teaches and writes on the arts of inclusive facilitation and inclusive leadership skills. He has worked in the fields of homeless services, affordable housing, transportation services for special needs populations, business and resident associations, faith-based groups, and public/private partnerships dedicated to strengthening civic engagement.

Mark received his Master of Divinity degree from the Harvard Divinity School, one of the most religiously diverse theological institutions in the world. His doctorate focused on organizational revitalization in multicultural settings. He is a Program Associate with the Kaleidoscope Institute, an agency that equips leaders to communicate effectively across cultures, ethnicities and race.

When not working, Mark and his wife, Barbara Anderson, enjoy the Cascades, cooking, gardening, exercising their dogs, and playing with their granddaughters.

You can learn more about Mark Smutny and Civic Reinventions, Inc., professional facilitation services, consulting, coaching and training at civicreinventions.com or by sending Mark an email.

 
 
 
 
 
What made you write about inclusive meetings?

I wrote Thrive because I’ve sat in zillions of meetings and in many of them been bored out of my mind. A few people dominated while most remained silent. I wanted to share insights accumulated over a lifetime about how to facilitate meetings marked by energy, creativity, and the engagement of everyone.

 

 

There are many books out there about diversity and inclusion, what makes yours different?

Books on diversity, equity and inclusion have mushroomed in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and other racial justice initiatives. Most address topics such as how to recognize unconscious bias, stereotypes and system racism. Others describe how to have honest conversations about difficult topics in polarized times. My unique focus is on inclusive meetings—the landscape in which we live a good portion of our organizational lives.

 

 

You are a White, straight, privileged man. What makes you think you can be an expert on diversity and inclusion?

I am not an expert on diversity and inclusion, especially when it concerns race. I am still learning be more empathic. I do have a passionate commitment to social justice. I am an expert on how to design an lead meetings that are fun, productive and inclusive.

 

 

Who are you writing for?

I want to help young and midcareer nonprofit leaders who spend a huge portion of their lives in meetings. My hope is to introduce them to principles and practices that transform meetings from dull to  dynamic and inclusive.

 

 

Do you have another profession besides writing?

I am an Independent Professional Consultant. My consulting business, Civic Reinventions, helps nonprofit by facilitating their strategic plans with an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion. I also facilitate annual planning retreats. I am developing a series of webinars on inclusive meeting practices that will launch in 2022. I am also a Presbyterian minister.

 
 
What is your next wring project?

I am hip deep in researching and writing a book on inclusive leadership practices for nonprofit leaders. 

 
 
How do you recharge?

I have two, high energy Brittany Spaniel dogs that must get aggressive, off-leash exercise every day. I tether then to my mountain bike and off we go like Huskies pulling a sled in Alaska. The neighborhood children see us tootling along at 15 miles per hour and call out “I love your dogs!” The exercise clears my brain and I get a big dose of joy in my heart.

 
connect with the author: website ~ email ~ goodreads
 
 
 
 
 
Disclaimer: All questions were constructed by the author and/or their representative. 
 

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