Making Do, Myself in Blue Book 2.5, will be released next week!

I had set December 22 as the release date, but since it is ready to go already, I decided to update the release.Making Do will be available on December 5, 2014 in Kindle Edition. The paperback is already available here.

The pre-order Special Price remains: just 0.99 cents until December 5.

MDEBookCover

“In the blink of an eye, her eyes lost the ability to notice a blink.”
 

What he lacked from his parents, Simon Mackenzie always got from his older brother. All their lives Simon could count on Dylan for the love and support he needed, until he decided it was time to face his own destiny, and try to make do on his own.

Simon knows it was the right decision. He must trust that Dylan has taught him enough so he can live his life independently, no matter how difficult it might be. Society’s rules are a mystery to him, and there are times when learning is a challenge, but he makes do, even with the constant memories of their troubled childhood and the dread of their drug-addicted mother’s reappearance.

Teaching music is his way to achieve it all, to interact and reach people without fear, sharing his gift. And teaching Natalie Miller the sounds that can make her break out of her shell is especially rewarding. Through Simon’s melodies, Natalie may once again be able to see the world, even if not with her blind eyes.

Together, Simon and Natalie can both learn how to better face the world, adapt, and thrive, despite their limitations.

Making Do is book 2.5 in the Myself in Blue Series. Even though it can be read as a standalone, this novella makes several references that can be spoilers if you haven’t read the other books beforehand. Therefore, it may be better to read the books in order.

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IndiesForward – What if you couldn’t promote your own book?

Days ago I received an email from the amazing Duolit team, telling the story of Julie. “Our indie-ninja-in-spirit Julie Forward DeMay dreamed of being a published author, and in 2011 her first book was released — two years after Julie (a daughter, sister, wife, and mother) lost her battle with cancer.”

Julie’s mother decided to self-publish her blog in 2011.

Cell War Notebooks is a compilation of the blog Julie kept during her last seven months — it’s beautiful, funny, brave and truly inspirational for anyone, whether you’ve been through cancer or not.

So the idea Duolit came with was that on January 31st, bloggers (authors and otherwise) would show support for Julie by dedicating a blog post to her. I was immediately on board – how can one not truly want to be part of this? Especially because all the proceeds from the book’s sale go to Julie’s nine year-old daughter, Luka.

I’ve been thinking of what to write for this campaign for days now. ‘A post about an experience in your life where you were inspired to overcome an obstacle.’ Ummm… Isn’t that what daily life is about? Aren’t we every day overcoming obstacles to get through the day, to live? At least to the average, working guy or gal, each day has its own obstacles to overcome.

I mean…think about it. Every single day you have to wake up in a time not of your choice, to get ready fast to a commute that you probably won’t enjoy, to get to a job that most people don’t really love… So, the first obstacle, each day, is the laziness. That feeling, every morning, that your bed never seemed so comfortable before that moment when you have to leave it…

Then, the urge to stay home, to stay with your children instead of going to work, or to study. Okay, that little responsible voice in your head, built year after year yells “Go already, you’re getting late!”, so you stop musing and go.

Then you look at the bus stop, and there are already several others like you, and the commute itself is an obstacle. In some cases, a horrendous one. Talk about closeness with strangers! Boy, you have no option in a crowded bus, trolley bus or train (the three of them every day in my case!) than to share a lot more of intimacy that one would like with totally unfamiliar people. Some of them clean, some not… Well, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Then you finally get to work…and the obstacles turn into a mountain in front of you. It may be your boss, a colleague, the work itself, the phone, the emails…or everything all together. The result, usually, is one looking constantly to the watch, counting the time left until freedom!

And, of course, there’s the commute again. Perhaps even worse, depending on the time you leave work. Finally home, you think of resting, of watching some TV and doing nothing. But normally you can’t, because there are house tasks to do. The dishes, the clothes and the floor refuse to obey my orders and clean themselves! I’ve been trying for years, but never faced anything more stubborn than those three… And food, you have to prepare and eat something. If you have children, you have to play with them, to check homework, to chat…

Anyway, it’s a day-to-day battle, and we face it every day, most of the time not even noticing it. So many obstacles. Life is made of them.

And yet, we love it. Even in our bottom moments, when life seems like just a huge amount of work and no pleasure, I bet most would never trade if for the alternative. Put into perspective, our mundane daily obstacles seem so small when we have health enough to face them every day.

We complain a lot, and I’m a firm believer in the power of protest. I’m a very happily-grumpy person, if you can understand what I mean. I hate doing so many things, but I know I have to do them, so I complain, but in a grumpy humorous way. At least that’s what I try… My point is, you have the right, almost the sacred right to complain. It’s not fair, it’s too much sometimes, we all would prefer a life of full pleasure and no work, so let’s all whine, let’s all scream inside of us to the people in front of us in the stairwell who don’t walk, making you late; to the people who simply do not understand the concept of “wait in line”; to our bosses; to the lack of money; to the lack of time; to whatever makes you feel oppressed and stuck. It’s reliving, stimulating…soothing. If you think protesting makes you ungrateful, I beg to disagree. I think it’s just normal and healthy.

In my humble opinion, what makes one ungrateful is to forget the other side of life. To just complain. So…let’s protest, but let’s also remember that it all seems so small in comparison with stories like Julie’s.

Life can be tough, but even then, it’s life; it’s valuable and beautiful. That’s how I overcome my obstacles, all my life. Always believing that tomorrow will be better. As long as you have tomorrows, don’t waste them, they’re precious; they’re [potential] dreams coming through every day!

So yes, Julie and her poignant, touching story can make you see things differently. I hope you find it inspiring as I did, and will help spread the word about her and her book. Please read more – read it all – here. Then, go tell everyone you know about this campaign. Let’s make an angel smile seeing how so many people are helping to promote her book!

My 5 star Review of ‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me’, by Amanda Green

I believe I’ve never read a memoir before in my life. I read biographies when I was young — used to love them back then, but never memoirs.

Nevertheless, the moment I read the description of “My Alien Self, My Journey back to me’, by Amanda Green, I wanted to read it.

The journey described is intense, almost brutal at some points. And yet there’s tenderness in the way Amanda tells it all, no holding back—after all, it’s her life; she’s her own main character.

Reading fiction can be easy, even if the subject is difficult, because you have the comfort of knowing it all came from a creative mind; here, however, it all really happened.

This is a tough story, but it’s also about redemption and recovery. It will make you change your pre-conceptions about mental illness, and will certainly help so many people!

Find out more about Amanda Green in my interview with her:

My 4 star Review of ‘The Fragile Lion’, by Mark Darley

**Reviewed by Renata F. Barcelos for Readers Favorite**

The Fragile Lion is a very different, unique story. It has drama, suspense, mystery and literary elements.

It starts with Justine, an apparently simple schoolteacher in another school day. Soon we realize that this is not an ordinary day; she was not supposed to be working. A tragedy had occurred and she should be home, recovering. Justine, however, has no recollection of what happened and has to rely on what people tell her to unfold her misfortune.

Confused and lonely, she thinks a trip might help. Then she meets an interesting pair: a mother and her child, a girl who simply refuses to eat. Trying to help them, another tragic accident changes their lives forever.

It’s a very different tale. Justine is quite a character; it’s hard to define her in one sentence, since she is not exactly who she seems to be. As her relationship with Sonya, the Sioux child she desperately wants to help, gets stronger, we have the opportunity to learn more about her. Her life has not been easy; she’s almost used to misfortune. As we get to know her past better, it becomes somehow easier to understand her actions.

Her quest to help Sonya is also a quest to help herself. To find purpose to her own life, to find reason to carry on. She thought she had lost everything, but she has a lot to find out; people to reconcile with, guilty to overcome, old debts to pay.

It’s basically a tale of redemption. Justine acts without thinking, without looking back to do what she believes is her obligation, her mission. But meanwhile, she goes learning from point to point.

The dialogue is well written, and a bit enigmatic. The child’s stubbornness is almost annoying and I think I wouldn’t have the patience Justine had. But she’s almost as stubborn as Sonya, which makes them the perfect pair.

I don’t know much about the Sioux Indians, but it seems like Mark Darley did his homework about the Indian culture. The descriptions are very well done, to the point you can easily visualize the scenes.

So much happens in such a short period of time, and still the book flows softly, unrushed.

The ending is very poignant and, even though it lets questions unanswered, it gives the reader reason to hope for a better future.

Overall, a beautiful, touching book that I’d recommend to all drama readers.

My 5 star Review of ‘An Order of Coffee and Tears’, by Brian Spangler

Paperback Edition

Kindle Edition

An order of coffee and tears is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s absolutely glowing in my top ten, and even maybe in my top five. I cried reading the last chapters today on the train, and I can say that not many books made me do that; only three or maybe four so far.

It starts with the covers. Look above; I can’t decide which one is prettier, so I decided to put both.

Brian Spangley brings you a tale so vividly narrated by Gabby, a young waitress, that you feel like watching a beautiful, touching movie inside your head. The story is poignant, but not mushy. It has the exactly right amount of mystery, love, friendship, routine, sadness, redemption and, of course, coffee and tears.

 As each chapter unfolds, we learn more about Gabby and her new family—the other employees and some customers of Angela’s Dinner. It’s an old fashion dinner, where people go not only to eat and drink, but sometimes also to share their problems, to talk, to open their hearts. We have the opportunity to hear many of their stories, through the ears of Gabby. And we can see how she, Ms. Potts, Clark and others (I don’t want to give away too much and spoil your fun, so I won’t name all of them) grow. The whole dinner seems to grow along the story.

The dinner contains a universe so intense, so many lives intersecting inside it, that it’s not difficult to see how Angela’s is a character as important as others.

Many deep and intense themes are presented, in a tender and easy to connect way. You get to know the characters and their secrets, feeling their pain, their fear, their hope. You are, at some level, another customer, sharing your own order of coffee and tears.

 It’s impossible to talk much about the plot without revealing too much and spoiling it, so I’ll refrain from it. But I can tell you this: if you liked Fried Green Tomatoes, the movie, or Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, the novel, by Fannie Flagg, you’ll certainly, utterly love An order of Coffee and Tears. A true masterpiece. Beautifully written, masterfully constructed, amazingly finished.

My 5 star Review of ‘Fallen Men’, by Brian O’Hare

I love reading, and love even more to find a good story and help spreading the word about it. That’s why I review books here, on Amazon and on Goodreads. I’m truly glad that Amazon is [apparently] not going to forbid me of doing that… (read more here)

(*I’ve just joined Readers Favorite’s Review team, so in the future my reviews may also been there too)

I  finished “Fallen Men”, by Brian O’Hare yesterday, and really liked it.

Even though it talks about three Catholic Priests, I don’t believe it can be simply defined as “religious fiction”. It’s way more than that.

It’s more a study of how faith can both save or destroy you. Of how morality and honesty are relative concepts depending on one’s point of view or interests at the moment. It’s also a study of how depression can lead to unthinkable decisions.

Brian O’Hare has talent to describe people and situations without boring the reader. He can also make you enter the characters’ thoughts so you are deeply into the situation with them. And he creates real people, defected, sometimes weak, sometimes strong people. Priests, lay people… they are all real in a way you can relate to them here. And about Father McGennity… Boy, I know a Father really similar to him. Well, the truth is, Fathers are men, and men come in all sizes and kinds; O’Hare presented it greatly in this story.

I thought the way the forbidden relationship was presented was both tender and disturbing, which was perfect  for the story. The gray areas that can surround even a Father’s life were very well described, even with Father Dan, and his black or white view of the world.

As a Catholic myself, I must say that I can relate much more to Father Dan than to Father Ray. What Ray did was inexcusable to me and even though the surroundings (internal and external) might help explain in some level his actions, I still believe his mission as a priest was exactly to avoid temptations at all costs. In my Parish we have amazing examples of Fathers so I may be too biased in my opinion… But I still believe he should have been better. I would prefer at all choices to be publicly accused as Father Dan, of following the Church’s Laws to the end than as Ray.

I may sound too harsh, but the priesthood path is not for the faint of heart. It means an entire life of dedication to others and the Church. The Parish is your family, and God must be in your thoughts at all moments. Sure Priests sin too, but to an extent… Mortal sins in a Father shake the Church’s core. I can understand some falls, but Ray fell too much for me.

You see, O’Hare’s great skills as a writer are still making me think so passionately about Ray’s story… All the moral dilemmas stay with you long after finishing the reading. And that’s what makes me say this book is a must read. It doesn’t matter your religion or even if you believe in anything… Fallen Men is an excellent, well-written story that raises great questions and gives a lot of food for thought.

Find out more about Brian on his blog: http://brianohareprofessor.blogspot.co.uk

 

My 5 star Review of ‘A Cupboard Full of Coats’, by Yvvette Edwards

After posting my first review today, I had to post here my review of this book. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, and Yvvette Edwards, the author, is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

I really loved this book, and I should have posted my review here and on Goodreads long ago, can’t explain why it took me so long!!

Oh my, what a debut!
This author is someone to follow. What a gift with words; so perfectly constructed characters. The whole atmosphere she creates is so lyrical, so many beautiful sentences, I had to highlight and take notes on my kindle almost in every page.

There are points through the novel where you can actually smell the food she’s describing; listen to Lemon with his thick accent; cry with Jinx.

Abuse and passion crimes, unfortunately, are not new themes to many women; the way they are told here is what makes all the difference.

There’s a beautiful Brazilian song that says, in Portuguese, something like: “Certain songs I listen to/fit so well inside of me/ that I have got to ask/ How I’m not the one who wrote it*”. Well,  this is another book that I’d love to have written. 😀 However, I don’t think anyone else would have the sensibility and talent to have written this story.

A masterpiece by Yvvette Edwards.

She’s writing a second book now, and I cannot wait to read it!

*Find out more about this song here (Milton Nascimento – Certas Canções)

Follow Yvvette on Twitter: @YvvetteEdwards