Monday, 18 October 2021

Milking Oats by Ayanna Henry

Milking Oats by Ayanna Henry
Self published in 2020.

Included in my Vegan Bookshop

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook via Etsy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This eBook is a guide about veganism, designed for people who might want another perspective. Filled with advice, doodles, and questions, it might lead you to a new way of thinking and living.

As a vegan of nearly three years myself, I'm always keen to discover how other vegans think abour our lifestyle and to learn what prompted their transition to veganism. I was attracted to read Milking Oats by its surreal cover illustration of a woman milking a somewhat disgruntled dog. Ayanna Henry's book is just twenty-five pages long, but is packed with thoughtful prose, relevant facts and neat doodle-style illustrations which help to put her messages across. It is primarily aimed at people who want to make their lives more vegan and considers both the individual health and global environmental gains resulting from such a lifestyle. Milking Oats also discusses the lack of visible diversity within the vegan movement with particular references to the commercial favouritism shown to slim white female vegan influencers and the repackaging of traditionally vegan meals from Asian and African cultures as 'white discoveries'. I was surprised by just how much food for thought I found in this relatively short work. It could benefit from a typo-cleaning proofread, but I recommend Milking Oats as a worthwhile read for potential, new and experienced vegans alike.

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by Distant Memories Co

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Sunday, 17 October 2021

Poems by Edgar Allan Poe

Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Poems first published during the 1830s and 1840s.

How I got this book:
Downloaded from ForgottenBooks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pull up a chair by next to the fire to warm your bones after reading this chilling anthology of Edgar Allen Poe's poetry. Considered to be the father of modern science fiction (as well as the murder mystery), many readers forget that Poe started as an illustrious poet. From the haunting refrains of "The Raven" to the angelic lilt of the musical "Israfel", Poe's Poems will stir uncontrollable feelings of romance and despair. 

Poems is ideal for any reader interested in poetry, macabre, humor, romanticism, and Gothic Fiction. Whether purchasing it for yourself or as a gift to share with a friend or loved one, Poems is sure to capture the heart and the imagination.

I first blogged this review on Stephanie Jane in November 2015.

I tried listening to an Audible download of an Edgar Allan Poe poetry collection several years ago and almost completely failed to get into his writing. When this similar poetry collection was offered as the free daily ForgottenBooks download in September, I thought I should give Poe another chance. His work is so popular worldwide that there must be some essence I had missed.

I am pleased that I did get on better with written Poe poetry than spoken. Being able to revisit lines and ideas definitely helped me to understand and I enjoyed reading his classics such as The Raven and Annabel Lee. (I love Annabel Lee as a Sarah Jarosz song too and hadn't previously realised the origin of its lyrics.) Other poems which particularly spoke to me were The Coliseum and A Dream Within A Dream. However, I didn't like much of the included early poetry written in Poe's youth, and the lengthy Al Aaraaf was lost on me! I passed on most of a play excerpt too - The Politian.

This collection ended with a lengthy essay, by Poe, discussing his poetic principles and quoting from other poets whom he admired. Despite its pompous tone, I did find the ideas interesting and preferred several of the quoted works here to Poe's own. I suppose he is simply not the poet for me!

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by Artemesia Lore

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Saturday, 16 October 2021

The Finest Lies by David J. Naiman + Giveaway + Excerpt

The Finest Lies
David J. Naiman
Publication date: October 14th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Magical Realism

High schooler Nicole Hallett has just about had it with her brother Jay, so when a mysterious man appears with an offer to replace him with a better one, she doesn’t hesitate. Nicole has always been impulsive, but this time, she finds herself in predicament far worse than anything she’s experienced. Just like that, an average snow day—usually filled with hot cocoa and snowball fights—is commandeered by the stranger, who forces the siblings into a dangerous game.

Confronted by past reflections, tested by present complications, and threatened by future possibilities, Nicole has until the end of the day to disentangle the riddle of her life.

This suspenseful, yet winsome novel by award-winning author David J. Naiman explores the power of family and forgiveness. But take heed. The truth can cut like shards of glass, especially for those who’d rather avoid it. Sometimes, only the finest lies will do.


The old TV sputtered and a fuzzy image of a peculiar man appeared on the screen. His eyes widened and sparkled. “Would you like a brand new brother?” a voice-over boomed. “Call now!” Above his head, the words CALL NOW flashed in golden lettering. At the bottom of the screen, a phone number scrolled.

Maybe I should call, Nicole thought. A brand new brother sounds perfect.

“That’s it. New and improved! Call now.”

Nicole smiled, sensing a personal connection as though this commercial spoke directly to her. She cradled her phone in her hands. A fingertip flicked across the screen without her even needing to concentrate. Her phone had long ago become an appendage, as integral as a foot or a kidney.

After Nicole entered the number, her finger hovered above the dial icon. Something held her back, but she couldn’t imagine what it could be. She might have guessed self-preservation had she any means to gauge the lurking danger. Had she any inkling her impetuous nature would fix her on a chaotic course beyond her control.

She did want a new brother. As long as he wasn’t like Jay, who always said things to upset her and never did what she wanted him to do. She thrust aside her unease and tapped the icon. Instead of a ring, Nicole heard more of a choking sound, a gasp as if someone strangled.

“Hello, Nicole. Are you ready to change your life?”

The voice on her phone was identical to the voice-over in the commercial. Nicole figured this guy must own the company or something. “Maybe,” she said. The man on the TV screen stared at her while she spoke. Nicole leaned to the left and right, and the man’s face tracked her each time. She hesitated. “How much does it cost?”

“Do you mean money? Oh, no. It won’t cost you any money. Not one cent. But there is a cost.”

“What is it?”

“Nothing for you to worry about, my dear. Nothing at all. Your satisfaction is guaranteed or your money back.”

“That seems fair. Wait, I thought you said—”

“Now, now. Don’t worry about a thing. We’ll simply replace your brother with a better one. This offer doesn’t come around every day. It is, to be candid, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” The man on the TV winked but not subtly. His head dipped so low that his oversized hat nearly slid off. “Decide quickly. Supplies are running out.”

The words CALL NOW lit up in a sickly yellow, casting a jaundiced glow across the face of the eccentric man with the whimsical hat and sparkling eyes.

“Then yes! What do I have to do?”

The man lifted his head. His lips gave a twitch. The voice answered, “Nothing more, nothing more. You’ve done it! Congratulations, my dear. Call the same number if your new brother malfunctions, and I’ll send an attendant straight away.” When he disconnected, the TV flicked itself off and Nicole heard her father’s voice.

“Nic, come downstairs, please. Jay has something he wishes to say.”

When Nicole arrived, she sagged with disappointment. Her brother looked the same. Same broad chest. Same confident grin. Stupid, worthless commercial. At least it didn’t cost her any money.

“I’m sorry, Nic,” Jay said. “I only wanted to use the new TV to kick you out. That was wrong of me. Please take the remote and accept my apology.”

Nicole stared open-mouthed. Jay appeared the same, his voice sounded the same, but this was not her brother. Sweet.

“Thanks,” she said.

He handed her the remote, flashed the kindest smile she had seen from him in years, and left the room. Nicole watched her videos in utter bliss. Once she was caught up, she decided to check on this new brother of hers. If he was going to be awesome, she might as well be friendlier. As she made her way upstairs, she thought about the number on her phone and doubted she would ever need to call it again.

Her brother’s door was ajar. Walking closer, she heard him chewing on something, maybe granola given all the crunching. She pushed the door open and stepped inside. Robot Jay took another bite of his phone and looked up at her. Metal and plastic bits ground together. He chewed slowly, savoring every morsel.

“Everything all right, my wonderful sister?” When she didn’t answer, he popped the rest of the device in his mouth and licked his fingers clean.

“Sure,” Nicole said, backing out of his room. “What could possibly be wrong?”

Author Bio:

David J. Naiman is a best-selling independent author of award-winning books for children, teens, and adults including Jake, Lucid Dreamer, first-place winner of the Purple Dragonfly Book Award and the Moonbeam Children's Book Awards in pre-teen fiction and Didn’t Get Frazzled, humorous medical fiction written under the pen name David Z Hirsch. He is also a successful physician specializing in internal medicine and an unsuccessful speller specializing in vowels that sound identical to other vowels. He lives with his wife and two children in Maryland. Visit him at

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by Miamia Designs UK

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Friday, 15 October 2021

The Atlas of Unusual Languages by Zoran Nikolic

The Atlas of Unusual Languages by Zoran Nikolic
Published by Collins yesterday, the 14th October 2021.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The ideal gift for anyone interested in language, geography and people.

We communicate through the spoken and written word and language has evolved over the centuries. Many languages have survived although only in small pockets throughout the world. This book explores a selection of those languages.

Did you know that some people believe that the speakers of Burushaski, the language of a distant valley below the Himalayas, are actually the descendants of the soldiers of Alexander the Great? And that, even though the Venetian language is not official in Venice, it is spoken in several locations in Latin America?

From ‘language isolates’ such as Basque, spoken in Spain and France, and Ainu in Japan and Russia, to language islands including a Welsh speaking colony in Argentina–discover how geography shapes communication and societies.

What can we learn from the existence of Gutnish, a dialect of the extinct Eastern Germanic Gothic, on several islands of the Baltic Sea? And how widely spoken is Cornish? These and many more intriguing linguistic questions are answered in this absorbing exploration of lesser known languages.

I'm fascinated by linguistics and the way in which languages have evolved throughout human history so I leapt at the chance to review Zoran Nikolic's new global study, The Atlas of Unusual Languages. He's researched dozens of languages and dialects from every continent, focusing particularly on ones which are now what he calls 'language islands' - pockets where a language, frequently one originating thousands of miles away, still remains in use today. The book contains lots of details about each language including theories about its history, its linguistic evolution and family grouping, and snippets of information concerning the people who speak these often endangered languages. I didn't know that UNESCO maintains a list of endangered languages or, indeed, quite how many of them there are.

Nikolic crams mind-boggling volumes of facts and theories into The Atlas of Unusual Languages, but while this is great if the book is treated as an occasional dip-into tome, I found its presentation made it hard work to just read. There is no overarching narrative linking each entry so the book is essentially an encyclopedia of facts with limited explanations. I did love the way a passage from The Little Prince is repeatedly translated into many of the Latin-alphabet languages thereby allowing readers an opportunity to see these languages 'in action' and to compare how those of the same family diverge. Again though, these passages are simply presented to the reader, but with no attempt at linguistic explanation. I'm not sure what the target readership is for The Atlas of Unusual Languages, but unfortunately I found it quite a frustrating read. 

Etsy Find!
by Little Science Co

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Thursday, 14 October 2021

BLAH BLAH BLAH: A Snarky Guide to Office Lingo by Dan Hill and Howard Moskowitz + #Giveaway

Join Us for This Tour from  September 27 to October 15

Book Details:

Book Title:  Blah, Blah, Blah: A Snarky Guide to Office Lingo by Dan Hill & Howard Moskowitz
Category:  Adult Non- Fiction 18+, 147 pages
GenreHumor (Business)
Publisher:  Sensory Logic, Inc.
Release Date: 
September 15, 2021
Tour dates: September 27 to October 15
Content Rating:  PG. OMG and a few references to sexual harassment, etc. Quite mild.

 Book Description:

Need a laugh to get through your workday? You've come to the right place. Ambrose Bierce's classic The Devil's Dictionary took on life in general. Now a century later, it's time to lampoon the business world. There's no richer target than being told to think outside the box by leaders spouting off about synergy, teamwork, and innovation while at the same time exhorting you to stay in your swim lane. If as famed business guru Peter Drucker writes, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast," then we've been asked to eat a dog's breakfast at work for far too long! A little truth in every joke. Join the fun as the two lead authors and 50 other contributors offer their humorous take on how the workplace really operates. With almost 600 diabolical definitions to enjoy, you're sure to find plenty to smile about.

Buy the Book ~ Amazon UK


Meet the Authors:

Dan Hill, PhD, is the author of nine books, including Emotionomics, which was an Advertising Age top 10 must-read selection and features a foreword by Sam Simon, co-creator of The Simpsons. In 1998, Dan founded Sensory Logic, Inc. whose clients represent over 50% of the world's top 100 advertisers. Besides having spoken to audiences in over 25 countries, Dan has had media appearances ranging from ABC's "Good Morning, America" to NBC's "The Today Shows,” CNN, Fox, MSNBC, ESPN, and the Tennis Channel. Dan was also a regular guest on PBS’s “Mental Engineering” show, hailed by Bill Moyers as “the most interesting weekly half hour of social commentary and criticism on television.” In print, Dan has received front-page coverage in the New York Times for his work in pro and NCAA Division 1 sports and was a non-partisan columnist for Reuters during the 2016 presidential race. Nowadays he hosts the podcast "Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight," which appears on the New Books Network (NBN), the world's largest book review platform with over 1.7 million downloads monthly. Dan was educated at St. Olaf College, Oxford University, Brown University, and Rutgers University.

​Howard Moskowitz is a legendary product market researcher, experiential psychologist, and inventor of world-class market research technologies used by virtually every company that matters. Howard earned his PhD in experimental psychology from Harvard University. In 2004, he was the subject of a New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell, "The Ketchup Conundrum," which became the basis for Gladwell's TED talk entitled "Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce." In 2014, Howard founded Mind Genomics Associates to investigate how people think about aspects of their daily lives. In addition to over 400 scientific articles about the minds of consumers, Howard has written/edited 28 books, a roster that features the very popular book Selling Blue Elephants.

connect with the authors: website ~ twitter ~ facebook ~ instagram 

Tour Schedule:

Sep 27 - Working Mommy Journal – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 27 - Cover Lover Book Review – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 27 - Kam's Place – book spotlight
Sep 28 – Books for Books – book spotlight
Sep 28 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / guest post giveaway
Sep 29 – fundinmental -book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 30 – Splashes of Joy – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 1 - Rockin' Book Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 2 – Celticlady's Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 4 – A Mama's Corner of the World – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 5 – The Adventures of a Traveler's Wife – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 6 - Stephanie Jane – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 7 – Rajiv's Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 7 – Gina Rae Mitchell – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 8 - Hall Ways Blog – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 11 – Westveil Publishing – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 12 – Writer with Wanderlust – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 13 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 14 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 14 – Cheryl's Book Nook – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 15 - Sefina Hawke's Books – book spotlight
Enter the Giveaway:
Win a signed copy of Blah, Blah, Blah: A Snarky Guide to Office Lingo + a copy of Famous Faces Decoded: A Guidebook for Reading Others (one winner). Runner-Up Prize: a signed copy of Blah, Blah, Blah (one winner) (USA only) (ends Oct 22)





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by Jolly Polly Prints

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Wednesday, 13 October 2021

In the Echo of this Ghost Town by C.L. Walters + Giveaway + Excerpt

In the Echo of this Ghost Town
C.L. Walters
Publication date: October 12th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

When everything in your life unravels and the future you imagined disintegrates into dust—how do you decide which way is forward?

Griffin Nichols has lost everyone close to him. Unhealthy choices rooted in unmet expectations have him feeling like he’s failing at being a man. Everything he thought he knew about being a good son, brother, and friend has him feeling as substantive as an echo.

He’s lost.

Then Maxwell Wallace walks into his life and teaches him that sometimes in the weakness of the echo is where he can claim his strength.



I look up at the sound of a voice, grateful to be jerked from the train of my thoughts.

The girl. She’s standing on the other side of the table in her dark t-shirt and cutoff shorts, her back to the gas pumps and road. The light from the store illuminates her, and I think she’s cute, but obviously not all there if she’s talking to a stranger.


She sits down with a Slurpee, and I look at it longingly but also wish I had some vodka to spike it with. I conjure Danny’s words from the night before. I’d told him I’m always drunk. What had he said back? “Yeah. Maybe that’s the fucking problem. It’s time to grow up, Griff.” What if I do have a problem? Then I’m annoyed by the stupid thought—of course, I don’t. What the fuck? Can’t this weird girl tell I’m busy sulking?

My face must screw up because she says, “I’m not carrying any diseases.”

I take a sip of my water, not sure what to do about this stranger who’s sat with me at a table outside of Custer’s. I glance to check if someone is playing a joke on me, but all my friends have abandoned me. So yeah, there’s that. I look at her. She’s got a round face, but it’s smooth and pleasant looking. Brownish hair, I think, because it’s pulled back in a bun or something off her face. Black eyeliner. Black T-shirt with the words Def Leppard inside a Union Jack.

She pinches the straw and moves it around the slushy. It squeaks. “Decide I’m not a serial killer?” She smirks, and my eyes are drawn to her blunt black nails at the end of her long fingers holding the red straw.

“Jury’s out.” I look away and take a sip of my water, annoyed but kind of curious.

“Why’s that?”

I shrug. “What if I’m the serial killer?” I can’t look at her, though I’m not sure why. It isn’t like I’m nervous, even if she’s a little unnerving. Why have I said that? The idea of being compared to a killer takes me backward. Griff Nichols, son of a murderer, when I’d been alone, but I’d shed that persona with my crew. I shove the reminder aside.

“It’s a distinct possibility.”

My eyes connect with hers, the curiosity revving up a notch. “Why’s that?”

“Guy sitting outside of a convenience store on a Monday night looking all moody. Definitely sending shady vibes. You spike that unassuming water bottle? Use the innocence of water to lure in your victims but in reality, you’re just setting the trap?” She smiles, and I see that she’s joking around even though I don’t know her; it’s the squint of her eyes.

“You’re weird.”

“I get that a lot.” She pauses and leans forward to take a sip of her drink and looks over at me. Her eyes sparkle with mirth, but it’s hard to tell what color they are even in the light. Lightish. “So, what do you do in this town for fun?”

“Get drunk. You new?”

“Yes. Why aren’t you doing that?”

“It’s Monday.”

“So, a drunk six days a week? You have standards, I see. So that must be real water.” She pauses and raises a single eyebrow—which bugs me for some reason. “You don’t look much like the type with standards.”

I’m not, but I don’t say it. “Neither do you.”

“Touché, serial killer. So, you don’t drink on Monday for other reasons, then?”

“I didn’t say I don’t drink on Monday. I just said it was Monday. You made the assumption.”

She laughs, but it’s mostly air. “Fair enough.”

This conversation could die. I could stand and walk away. I don’t. I blame it on my lack of being alone, which I’m going to have to reestablish. “So, you’re new here?”

“Yep. Just moved. Only here for the summer.”

“Why’s that?”

“Why what?” She takes another sip of her slushy.

I watch her swallow it. Then I look back at my water bottle to resume plucking the plastic label. “Only for the summer?”

“The band I play with is going on tour.”


She laughs. “No.”

“You’re weird.”

“So you’ve said.” She stands. “Well. Thanks for sharing the table.”

“There were two other ones you could have chosen.”

She glances at the other two and then leans forward. “But then I wouldn’t have gotten to talk to a serial killer.” She smiles, offers me a nod, and with her hand wrapped around her cup, she walks away. She’s wearing jean cutoffs, tight, and the strings of the cut denim hang against her long and shapely legs.

I scoff, looking away because I don’t want to notice her. A serial killer. Stupid.

As I watch her—the nameless, weird girl—walk away, I realize I forgot what I was sulking about.

Author Bio:

As a kid, my world revolved around two things: stories and make believe. I have built a real life around those two things as well: I am a teacher of stories and a writer of make believe.

While I went to high school in a small town in Oregon and college in a smaller town in Oregon - both gifted me with treasures to fill my creative reservoir and most importantly, my husband. We got married, I followed him from Oregon to Hawaii (it was that or forgo the marriage).

We have two children, and several furry kids.

I read and write everyday.

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Win an eBook of both In the Echo of this Ghost Town & its companion novel When the Echo Answers. Open internationally until the 21st October.

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by Hey Rusty Store

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Tuesday, 12 October 2021

From the Neck Up and Other Stories by Aliya Whiteley

From the Neck Up and Other Stories by Aliya Whiteley
Published by Titan Books on the 14th September 2021.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Short fiction collection from award-winning, Clarke Award, John W. Campbell, BFS, BSFA, Shirley Jackson, James Tiptree Jr and Saboteur Award nominated author, Aliya Whiteley.

The new collection of humane, beautiful and disarming short stories from the award-winning author of The Beauty, Clarke Award nominee The Loosening Skin and The Arrival of Missives, Aliya Whiteley. In 16 stories Whiteley deftly unpeels the strangeness of everyday life through beguiling gardens, rebellious bodies and journeys across familiar worlds, with her trademark wit and compassion.

Witness the future of farming in a new Ice Age, or the artist bringing life to glass; the many-eyed monsters we carry and the secret cities inside our bodies; the alien invasion through our language to the Chantress and her twists on the fairy tale. Fascinating and always unexpected, Whiteley is unlike any other writer working today.

I've enjoyed reading Aliya Whiteley's novels before, particularly Skyward Inn which I loved, so I was disappointed to find From The Neck Up and Other Stories to be more hit and miss for me. The collection consists of 16 tales all of which, I think, have previously been published in various magazines and anthologies so I appreciated having them grouped together in this one publication. There are a number of award winners amongst the collection too. I found myself being blown away by some of the stories while others left me underwhelmed or simply baffled, but then I understand that as a hazard of reading such an inventive writer as Aliya Whiteley. Sometimes I just can't keep pace with the concepts she explores.

That said, I did love several of these stories such as the very first one, Brushwork, which is set in a future icy dystopia where the Gulf Stream's vanishing makes Britain's climate resemble present-day Siberia. Whiteley makes good points about how different people understand freedom and what restrictions we can accept in return for elements of comfort. I also connected with the story Loves Of The Long Dead where an ancient Egyptian princess, betrayed in life, sees an opportunity for revenge in death. The third of my favourites, To The Farm, was particularly poignant and resonated with my own ideas about the heartlessness of abandoning pets although, of course, Whiteley takes the idea much, much further.

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by Shanti Jewellery

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