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Tickling the Bear: How to Stay Safe in the Universe by David Wann (Book Review and Author Interview)

TICKLING THE BEAR: HOW TO STAY ALIVE IN THE UNIVERSE by David Wann
 
 
Anthropology professor Marc Blake is on a “hero’s journey.” His challenge is to overcome a troubling medical diagnosis –a virus from a tick bite. Along the way he shares his deepest thoughts as the reader follows his courageous efforts to survive. May, an attractive Danish woman, also endures setbacks with resilience, gradually coming center stage in the story. Her husband Kai has a passion for growing herbs and healthy vegetables, marveling how gardening provides a sense of purpose, good health, direct contact with nature, and companionship. Marc’s niece, a natural beauty and ex-model, offers readers a comical, on-again, off-again romantic episode with a Silicon Valley genius she fears might outshine her. Will she prove to be his equal?
 
Quirky humor injects both lightness and conflict into a 30-year marriage. A six-year old’s “best summer ever” is a reminder that life’s an absolute miracle. Collectively this extended family contests a widespread belief that life is happening to us – that we are passive consumers. On the contrary, each character in this upbeat book is actively self-guided, perfecting their passions and offering generous support to family and friends.
 

​Though author David Wann has previously written non-fiction books about sensible, sustainable lifestyles, in his first-novel these themes are woven right into a compelling story. “Our lives don’t look much different than most Americans,” the characters might say. “Really, we are not ‘doing without,’ more like doing within.” Kai enjoys investing in regional businesses, and also loves to travel effortlessly on Denver’s bike paths. Meatless Mondays or grilled-salmon Sundays are a great way for the outgoing May to bring friends together for active conversation. Each character would insist that kindness and gratitude are encoded in our genes and are far more powerful than anger. In a world that’s currently so full of disruption and confusion, they offer both a sense of direction and grounded hope.

 
 
Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ B&N ~ BAM ~ IndieBound
 
 
 
 
 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 
 
Marcus Blake has been given a year to live due to the Q virus. David Wann (the author) states the virus steadily destroys white blood cells, is transferred from insects to people, and has a 5% survival rate. The odds are against Marc, but he decides to beat the odds.


While this is a story about a man’s quest to survive, we gain much insight into the lives of Marc’s friends and family. For example: Rocket, his brother, lives off the land and is a talented woodworker. Kai was taught the power of plants/herbs/flowers by his father.


David Wann spoke passionately about nature, his disgust for Trump and pulling out of The Paris Agreement, and even discussed gun rights and taxes. These might be problem areas for those who don’t want a book with political topics. However, if you don’t like the former president, you’ll have no issue with David condemning Trump’s actions. 🙂

Marc faced death head-on. At one point, literally (skydiving scene).
In the end, I won’t disclose if he lived or died. The journey to discovering Marc’s fate will be filled with love, laughter, tears, and some drugs. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of pot between brothers. 🙂
 
 
 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Meet the Author:
Author David Wann

 
David Wann has been a self-acknowledged author since second grade. He’s written hundreds of articles and columns; ten books – one a best seller; and produced five TV documentaries viewed by 20 million. He’s lived in a cooperative neighborhood (cohousing) for 26 years where he has been the organic gardener for 27 households. He’s an amateur musician and the proud father of two. His greatest ambition is to make a difference in a world that urgently requires “all hands on deck.” His books include Affluenza; Biologic; Superbia; Simple Prosperity; The Zen of Gardening; The New Normal, Reinventing Community and others.
 
 

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: KAM’S PLACE

 
What are some of your personal interests, and how do they shape the plot and characters in Tickling the Bear?

(David Wann)  Throughout my adult life, I’ve focused on several passions: my relationships; writing; playing guitar; being in nature, and gardening. Through thick and thin, these are what I relied on to keep me sane (though some might question if it worked!)
 
 
Would you say that one particular character is more like you than the others?

(David Wann)  I suppose all the characters resemble me in one way or another, but the protagonist, Marc Blake, is kind of an avatar for me. I wish I had his courage. He’s been diagnosed with a life threatening virus he got from a tick bite in Borneo. His journey in the book takes him from Denver to California and back in his quest to heal himself by spending time with family and close friends. Like me, he is interested in creating a future that works. He’s a professor of Future Studies, and admittedly, some of his words could very easily come from my mouth.
 
 
Are you a professor, too?

(David Wann)  No, but I’ve given many keynote talks and presentations at universities about sustainable lifestyles and designs. If I said some of the pointed things Marc says about life in America, people might think I was being overly critical, so I let Marc say them.
 
 
What about Marc’s brother, Rocket, who’s kind of a joyful dropout from mainstream America, making a living on a small organic farm and with his woodworking? Does that come from your experience?

(David Wann)  Partially. I’ve been an organic gardener for forty years, and I did dream the dream that Rocket and his family bring to “life,” but I have to say that I’m lucky I chose an easier path. Farming in California and most other places takes a lot of guts and also requires that a person loves being home. I enjoyed portraying Rocket as a man rooted in his community, carving two large totem poles that celebrate the indigenous people, plants and animals of the region.
 
 
Say something about your own home. You live in an intentional community, right?

(David Wann)  Yes, about thirty years ago I joined eight or ten others to buy ten acres of land and create a “cohousing” village – not a commune – that now has 27 houses. The idea is to provide support for each other and to follow our convictions collectively. We each own our homes but share common assets like a community house, a large garden, and a people-friendly landscape, perfect for the kids who build forts and give performances for enthusiastic neighbors. I’ve been the village organic gardener for 25 years, which is a great match with writing. I focus at my desk and un-focus in the garden. In terms of writing, one of my characters plays the role of an author who makes it to the “big tent” with science fiction and fantasy novels. (I should be so lucky). She jokes about her poor characters feeling lost when she’s taking a break from writing. “What are we supposed to do now?” She compares launching a new novel to launching a probe to Jupiter: it’s impossible to know if the mission will succeed, but there’s only one way to find out.
 
 
What do your other characters do for a living?

(David Wann)  The Sakata family runs an herbal business and also designs Zen-inspired landscapes. Two generations of the family live next door to each other with a large, shared backyard. The son, Kai, is a Wall Street dropout, and his wife May is an environmental activist and aspiring state senator. Solar panels on the roof their small home provide power and everything they really need is within walking or bicycling distance. There are always jars of canned and pickled produce on the pantry shelves and herbs hanging from kitchen beams to dry- a little like my own family’s kitchen. So yes, I guess my own passions and experiences made their way into the book, but I’ll confess that some of the romantic encounters are wishful thinking. I still get kind of choked up when one of the romances comes full circle, just like readers were hoping, though another attempt doesn’t quite make it.
 
 
It sounds very true to life!  Thanks for your comments, and thanks for writing the book.

(David Wann)  It really was my pleasure. My characters carried me through some difficult times. I hope they’ll do the same for the book’s readers.
 

connect with the author: 
website twitter facebook instagram goodreads
 
 
 
 
 
 
Disclaimer: All questions and answers were constructed by the author and/or their representative. 
 

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‘Dear Santa’ and ‘Debbie Macomber’s Very Merry Christmas Coloring Book: An Adult Coloring Book’ by Debbie Macomber (2 Book Showcase)

 

Lindy Carmichael isn’t feeling particularly joyful when she returns home to Wenatchee, Washington, for Christmas. The man she thought was “the one” has cheated on her with her best friend, and she feels completely devoid of creativity in her graphic design job. Not even carolers or Christmas cookies can cheer her up–but Lindy’s mother, Ellen, remembers an old tradition that might lift her daughter’s spirits.

Reading through a box of childhood letters to Santa and reminiscing about what she’d wished for as a young girl may be just the inspiration Lindy needs. With Ellen’s encouragement, she decides to write a new letter–not to Santa, but to herself. Little does Lindy know that this exercise in gratitude will cause her wishes to unfold before her in miraculous ways. And, thanks to some fateful twists of Christmas magic–especially an unexpected connection with a handsome former classmate–Lindy ultimately realizes that there is truly no place like home for the holidays.

In Dear Santa, Debbie Macomber celebrates the joys of Christmas blessings, old and new.

 

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Kindle Purchase Link

Print Purchase Link

 

 

 

 

Debbie Macomber invites you to join in the holiday spirit with a collection of forty-five gorgeous black-and-white ​drawings ready to be brought to ​colorful life with your creative flair. Now you can escape to the peaceful, snow-covered settings and revel in the festive celebrations signature to her Christmas stories. Debbie Macomber’s Very Merry Christmas Coloring Book is perfect for anyone looking to experience the comfort and joy of the season.

Purchase Link

 

 

Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers with more than 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide. In her novels, Macomber brings to life compelling relationships that embrace family and enduring friendships, uplifting her readers with stories of connection and hope. Macomber’s novels have spent over 1,000 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Thirteen of these novels hit the number one spot.

In 2021, Macomber’s all-new hardcover publications include It’s Better This Way (July) and Dear Santa (October). In addition to fiction, Macomber has also published three bestselling cookbooks, an adult coloring book, numerous inspirational and nonfiction works, and two acclaimed children’s books.

Celebrated as “the official storyteller of Christmas”, Macomber’s annual Christmas books are beloved and five have been crafted into original Hallmark Channel movies. Macomber is also the author of the bestselling Cedar Cove Series which the Hallmark Channel chose as the basis for its first dramatic scripted television series. Debuting in 2013, Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove was a ratings favorite for three seasons.

She serves on the Guideposts National Advisory Cabinet, is a YFC National Ambassador, and is World Vision’s international spokesperson for their Knit for Kids charity initiative. A devoted grandmother, Debbie and Wayne live in Port Orchard, Washington, the town which inspired the Cedar Cove series.

 

Please visit Debbie’s website!

 

 

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Popper and Friends: Popper Finds a New Home by IL Ritchie (Book Review)

POPPER FINDS A NEW HOME by IL Ritchie
 
 
Popper is a sweet little woodpecker who is trying to find a new home. Now that he is grown, it’s time for him to leave the nest and find a home of his own. The first book in the Popper and Friends series, follow along as Popper explores different options and gets helpful advice from his friends.
 
 
Buy Links:
Amazon ~ B&N
add to goodreads
 
 
 
 
 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 
 
Story: Like most parents, we hope that when our kiddos leave the nest, they don’t “fly” too far away from home. We want them (our children) to spread their wings and soar but still be close to us (parents) as well. 


I loved following Popper’s search for a new home & reading which ones were not ideal and why. When parents or educators read Popper and Friends: Popper Finds a New Homaloud, I’s suggest asking your children or students if they know why certain places would be the wrong home for Popper before you divulge the answer. 


 
Illustrations: Yulia Potts seemed to tap into a child’s mind when they drew up the animals and people. For example, Popper’s color scheme was full of color and nothing like a realistic woodpecker, which is spectacular, in my opinion. I think children will love the character even more because of it. My youngest laughed at Filbert the squirrel’s plump cheeks and the dizzy-looking kitty, who appeared to be eating a sausage link. She even thought Webster the spider was cute, and she never finds them adorable. 


Popper and Friends: Popper Finds a New Home by IL Ritchie is appropriate for various ages. Non-readers can point out and name the animals and make their sounds, while experienced reads will have little to no trouble with the text. It’s also a great story to read in a classroom or by a librarian. 


Craft idea: Build a birdhouse. Draw your version of a woodpecker and its home. 
 

 
Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤
 
 
add to goodreads
 
 
 
 
Meet the Author:
Author IL Ritchie
A California native, IL Ritchie lives in San Francisco, where he is creating new adventures for Popper and his friends.
 
connect with the author: goodreads

 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Christmas Wedding Guest by Susan Mallery (Book Showcase)

 

The Somerville sisters believe in love, but they’ve lost faith it will happen for them. Reggie hasn’t been home since the end of the world’s shortest engagement. When her parents decide to renew their vows, she buffs up her twinkle to help with the Christmas wedding. Unexpectedly, Toby, her first love, is back too, and the spark between them shines as brightly as ever. In the spirit of the season, will they let go of past hurts and greet the New Year together?

Done waiting for the one, Dena is pregnant and on her own—on purpose. But then a gorgeous, sad-eyed songwriter checks in to a room at her inn. Micah, unable to write since he lost his wife, finds inspiration in Dena’s determination to be a mom. One snowflake-speckled kiss and he’s a goner. But Dena is afraid to believe that a rock star could fall for a cookie-cutter small-town girl like her.

As the Christmas wedding draws closer, these two sisters just might unwrap the most treasured gift of all—love.

 

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“It’s a vacuum,” Reggie Somerville said, trying to sound less doubtful than she felt. “You reinvented the vacuum?”

Gizmo stared at her, his hurt obvious, even behind his thick glasses. “It’s a smart vacuum.”

“Don’t we already have those round ones that zip across a room?”

“They’re not smart. They’re average. Mine is smart.”

Reggie was less sure about the vacuum’s intelligence than her client’s. Gizmo had a brain that existed on a different plane than those of average humans. His ideas were extraordinary. His execution, however, wasn’t always successful. A basic knowledge of coding shouldn’t be required to work any household appliance—a fact she’d tried to explain to him about fifty-seven thousand times.

She eyed the triangular-shaped head of the vacuum. The bright purple casing was appealing, and she liked that it could roam on its own or be a regular stick vacuum if that was what she wanted. The printed instructions—about eighteen pages long—were a little daunting, but she would get through them.

If the trial went well, she and Gizmo would discuss the next steps, including her design suggestions. Once those were incorporated, they would start beta testing his latest invention. In the meantime, she would be doing a lot of vacuuming.

“I’ll get you my report in a couple of weeks,” she said.

Gizmo, a slight, pale twenty-year-old who lived with his extended family just north of Seattle, offered her a small smile. “You can have until the first of the year. I’m going to be busy with Christmas decorations for the house. We started putting them up just after Halloween, and it’s about to get really intense. I’ve worked out some of the kinks from last year, so the animatronics look more real. It’s taking a lot of time. My grandma’s really into it.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“We’re launching the Friday after Thanksgiving, but we’ll be upgrading everything through December. Come by close to Christmas. You’ll be blown away.”

“I can’t wait,” she said with a laugh.

She and Gizmo talked for a few more minutes before she walked him out of her home office. When the door closed behind her client, Belle, her one-hundred-twenty-pound Great Dane, poked her large head out from behind the desk.

“You didn’t come say goodbye to Gizmo,” Reggie said. “I thought you liked him.”

Belle shifted her gaze to the purple vacuum sitting in the middle of the area rug, obviously pointing out that potential death still lurked.

“It’s not going to hurt you,” Reggie told her. “It’s not even turned on.”

Belle’s brows drew together, as if she wasn’t willing to accept the validity of that claim. Reggie tried to keep from smiling. Belle made a low sound in her throat, as though reminding Reggie of Gizmo’s last invention.

“Yes, I do remember what happened with the dog walker robot,” Reggie admitted.

The sturdy, odd-looking robot had started out well enough—walking a very concerned Belle around their small yard. Unfortunately, about ten minutes in, something had gone wrong with the programming, and the robot had started chasing her instead. Belle, not the bravest of creatures, had broken through the screen door in her effort to escape the attack, hiding behind Reggie’s desk for the rest of the day.

Gizmo had been crushed by the failure and had needed nearly as much reassurance as the dog. Sometimes, Reggie thought with a sigh, her job was the weirdest one ever.

“I’m going to leave this right here,” Reggie told Belle. “It’s turned off, so you can poke at it with your nose and get used to it.”

Belle took two steps back toward the desk, her body language clearly saying she would never get used to it, and why couldn’t Reggie have a regular job that didn’t threaten the life of her only pet?

“Or you could sit on it,” Reggie pointed out. “The robot weighs about ten pounds. You’re more than ten times that size. You could probably crush it like a bug.”

The dog’s brown eyes widened slightly, filled with affront.

Reggie held in another smile. “I’m not commenting on your weight. You’re very beautiful and way skinnier than me.”

She settled on the sofa and patted the space next to her. Belle loped all of three strides before jumping up and leaning heavily against Reggie. The soft rose-colored sweater Belle wore to protect herself from the damp cold of mid-November looked good on her dark gray fur. Reggie put an arm around her dog and pulled her phone out of her pocket. A quick glance at the screen told her she’d missed a call. From her mother.

She tried to ignore her sudden sense of dread. Not that she didn’t love her parents—she did. Very much. They were good people who cared about her. But they were going to insist she come home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and she couldn’t think of a single reason to refuse.

Last year had been different. Last year, she’d stayed in Seattle, with only Belle for company, enduring the holidays rather than enjoying them. She’d given herself through New Year’s to mourn the breakup and subsequent humiliation that went with the man of her dreams proposing at the Lighting of the Trees on the Friday after Thanksgiving, arranging an impromptu celebration party on Saturday, and then dumping her on Sunday.

After sharing her happiness with nearly everyone she knew, having her friends coo over her gorgeous ring and ask about wedding plans, she’d had to explain Jake had changed his mind. She assumed. His actual words, “I can’t do this. It’s over. I’m sorry,” hadn’t given her much to work with.

Hurt and ashamed, she’d buried herself in work and her life in Seattle. She hadn’t returned home to Wishing Tree even once since it had happened, preferring to lick her wounds in private. She’d told herself she was healing, but Reggie knew the truth was less flattering. She was hiding, and it was time to suck it up and get over herself. She’d worked hard to put Jake behind her and move on with her life. Thanksgiving was next week, and she was going home, like she did every year. Besides, it wasn’t as if she was still mourning her ex-fiancé. She’d gotten over him, and now it was time to demonstrate that to her hometown…and possibly herself.

“At least, that’s the plan,” Reggie told her dog and pushed the button to phone her mother.

“Hey, Mom,” she said when the call was answered.

“Reggie! It’s you. You’ll never guess. It’s so wonderful. Your dad and I are getting married.”

Reggie blinked a couple of times. “You’re already married. Your thirty-fifth wedding anniversary is coming up next month. I thought we’d have a party or something.” She and her sister had talked about the possibility a couple of weeks ago.

Her mother laughed. “You’re right. Technically, we’re married. We eloped and I have to tell you, I’ve always regretted not having a big wedding. Your father pointed out I’ve been upset about that for the last thirty-five years, so maybe it was time to do something about it. We’ve decided we’re renewing our vows with a big wedding and a reception afterwards. It’ll be the Wednesday before Christmas.”

“You’re having a wedding?”

“Yes. Up at the resort. We’re inviting everyone. It’s been so much fun, but the planning is getting out of hand. I was hoping you could help me.”

 

Click HERE to read Chapter One in its entirety!

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Meet the Author:

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship, romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—40 million copies of her books have sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as mom.

 

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Gingersnap Snatcher by Vicky Weber (Book Review and Author Interview)

Picture

Abuela made cookies to eat after school.

The gingersnap kind, just the thought made us drool!

We rushed home excited. We opened the door…

…The cookies were missing-just crumbs on the floor!

Can you help the kids crack the case of the Gingersnap Snatcher?

 
 
 
 

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

Oh my goodness gracious, I loved everything about Gingersnap Snatcher. 

First, the story was adorable and funny. As an owner of a kitty, I cracked up over the image of Mr. Wiggles, created by Svitlana Liuta, with a mouthful of cookies, and one is his paw. Oh, and the Christmas tree scene is totally relatable. My kitty is either in the tree or lying on the couch, staring at the twinkling lights. 

I think toddlers will love looking at all the bright and bold pictures, while elementary school-age children will love trying to solve the mystery alongside the three siblings. I can practically hear the giggles when they discover who the cookie thief was.

 After the revelation, stick around; Vicky Weber included bonus material.

1.) “Gingersnap Snatcher” song. To be honest, we (my daughter and I) could not find the right rhythm and beat to make it flow effortlessly. Instead, we sang, “Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?”

2.) A way for you to get Abuela’s gingersnap recipe. Most kids love helping out in the cookie-making process, and they also love eating their creations. If you haven’t made these from scratch yet, now’s the time!

I can’t wait to make these with my youngest!  

 

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

Amazon Purchase Link

 
 
 
 
 
Vicky Weber is a musician and an elementary educator with a love for children’s literature. As a Puerto Rican author of Taíno descent, she strives to create picture books that are fun, engaging, and educational. All her current titles are based on her background in music education or her heritage. While she has taught a variety of grade levels, primary level education is where her passion lies. It has long been a dream of hers to teach children through the magic of books and she hopes you love reading her works as much as she loved writing them.

 

 

Do you write every day?

(Vicky) I don’t but I think that’s healthy. With any job, trying to do big projects every single day is a quick way to burn yourself out. I write whenever I can but I also try to spend as much time with my family as I can.

 

As a mom and business owner, how do you find the time to write?

(Vicky) Great question. I’ll be honest, it’s not easy. My baby girl is almost five months old, so I try to soak up every snuggle and every laugh because I know that time goes by quickly. Really, it’s all about balance and creativity. Sometimes, I write using the notes app on my phone. Sometimes, I use talk-to-text and send story ideas to my husband. And sometimes, writing doesn’t happen until after my daughter’s bedtime. Every day is a new adventure…both in writing and in parenthood.

 

You have published 6 books with another on the way. Do you have a favorite?

(Vicky) (I actually have more than that!) Rhythm Rescue was my first idea for a story, but it wasn’t the first book I published because I was nervous. Scared, even. I didn’t know if other people would like it and the book was so close to my heart. I feared rejection. But I pushed through, got it published, and now, it is my bestselling title. I frequently get emails and pictures of teachers using it with their music classes or parents reading it to their children. If I had to choose a favorite book, it would be that one.

 

What’s your favorite song/instrument/book?

(Vicky) To be quite honest, my collection of books for my music classroom is quite large because I strongly believe that music and literacy go hand-in-hand. There are so many that I love! One that I always start the school year with is Giraffe’s Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae. It is a great way to facilitate a conversation about respecting one another as we create, and we discuss how some things will be easier than others but to never give up. Throughout the year, when students get frustrated, I remind them of the end of the book: “We all can dance…when we find the music that we love.”

 

What does a typical morning look like for you?

(Vicky) Oh, nothing special. I get my daughter ready for the day and then I sit down with my coffee and breakfast. I check my planner (I have to keep one or I’ll have NO idea what day it is!) and then I get to work. I network, market, write, research, answer other author’s questions…it takes up more of the day than you’d think! But I love it.

 
 
connect with the author:  
website ~ twitter ~ facebookGoodreads ~instagram
 
 
 
 
Disclaimer: All questions and answers were constructed by the author and/or their representative. 
 
 

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