Monday, January 31, 2022

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Mailbox Monday - Jan 31

Welcome to It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Mailbox Monday.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

Well, we have come to the end of January. That sure happened quickly. We had our first major snow storm of the season. Probably had 8 inches or so by the time all was said and done. Eastern and Central Mass got hit harder than we did this time around. It was a cool 2 degrees this morning. By mid-week, we should have some temps in the mid-40s. It will feel like a heat wave. 

Saturday night after the storm

I spent part of Saturday taking down the last Christmas tree and getting all the decorations carefully packed away under the stairs until next year. Travis and Dwight were happy to have the spot back for their cat tree. 

As far as reading goes, it is a slow ride. I have two, maybe three, new listings coming up, plus I've have meetings and a media interview this week. 

I reviewed this one here on Wednesday.

On Thursday,  I reviewed this one, but I had read most of it already so it didn't take long. You can read my review here

I started this one. So much for Karen White's book being my first book of the year. LOL! Though it is still in my list.

I am in the middle of this one.

I hope these are next.

Need to review these in February.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Three books arrived this week. One was a copy of my book, A Christmas Kindness. I like to keep a certain number in stock at home in case I need them. 

This one I requested for review since I know the illustrator.

This one I bought from 4RV Publishing. They have monthly author chats. Kena Sosa will be a featured author during the February chat on the topics of writing bilingual books for children and writing about difficult subjects for children. Registration is free, but it is required. You can sign up for the February 20 session at

I will be in and out today, so I might be later in visiting blogs, but I will stop by. Hope you share what you're reading

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Book Spotlight: Through Dangerous Doors by Robert Charles Lee

The story of a man who is looking back from the perspective of a person who is in peace, having realized he found what he spent most of his life searching to find…

In a life defined by risk, Robert Charles Lee experiences a poor and free-ranging childhood in the racist South of the 1960s. After his father dies, the family grows dysfunctional. As a result, teen-age Robert seeks sanity and solace by rock climbing solo and driving cars fast. He wins a scholarship and graduates from university, but still seeks to escape the South.

Moving to Alaska and the Western US, Robert works in a series of dangerous and brutal jobs. He meets and marries Linda, who enjoys climbing and skiing difficult mountains as much as he does. Simultaneously, Robert trains in the science of risk to become a respected professional risk scientist.

Robert shares his remarkable story as he guides the reader through a series of dangerous but rewarding doors, culminating in a vivid journey of adventure and risk.


“Through Dangerous Doors is an engaging and snappily written reflection on a life charted by risk. Like the dangerous mountains he eventually comes to climb, Lee’s need to be on the edge and in the flow guide him on a fascinating ascent up the American socio-economic pyramid, a challenging mountain in itself, and geographically from the lowland South to high country of the North. Small wonder that when Lee and his wife arrive in Calgary, Alberta to live for a decade they immerse themselves in what Lee wisely comes to realize is one of the most dangerous, yet spiritually rewarding mountain ranges in the world – the Canadian Rockies. Lee’s lifelong evaluation, and refinement of, the risk versus reward calculation is educational. And I love the way he calls poppycock when he sees it. Lee shares life lessons that were hard won and valuable to all.” – Barry Blanchard, UIAGM/IFMGA Mountain Guide, author of The Calling – A Life Rocked by Mountains, winner of the Boardman-Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature

“Much more than a book on mountaineering, Robert Charles Lee’s memoir delves deeply into the relationship between risk and reward, exploring the things we can control and those we can’t. His journey of self-discovery has resulted in a thoughtful meditation on the nature of adventure and what makes for a life well lived. Lee’s story will resonate with any readers who have experienced the incomparable satisfaction of challenging themselves while at the same time understanding the wisdom of respecting their limits.” –Scott Zesch, author of “The Captured,” winner of the TCU Texas Book Award

“This is a memoir like few others, in that the author is intent on beseeching his readers not to follow the example of his own life. The story he tells shows that this is very good advice indeed, but nevertheless his tale of improbable escapes from one looming disaster after another is both instructive and entertaining.” – William Leiss, Queen’s University, author of: In the Chamber of Risks: Understanding Risk Controversies, Mad Cows and Mother’s Milk: The Perils of Poor Risk Communication, and Risk and Responsibility

“In this engaging and very readable memoir, Robert Lee reminds us that life IS risk. Humans only continue to learn, grow and evolve through facing and conquering risks. Whether the risks are involuntary or voluntary, Lee aptly emphasizes that the key to survival, or even thriving, is how we choose to understand and manage those risks. While Lee’s recounting of his numerous climbing risk adventures reflects his personal approach to risk and risk management, his stories will resonate strongly with anyone who seeks the challenge and stimulation of being a ‘risk taker’. This book will ultimately make you examine more closely your own life in relation to the risks you choose or don’t choose to undertake.” – Cindy Jardine, University of the Fraser Valley, world record skydiver 

“As autobiographies like Educated and The Glass Castle have taught us, growing up through hardship can be remarkably annealing. So too in this disarmingly honest memoir, where Lee relates his annealed response. He adeptly strings us along his extraordinary lifepath from childhood until retirement using an idiosyncratic lens: A meditation on risk serves as Lee’s through-line, one informed by his career in risk analysis. Sit and enjoy the windfall of a raconteur relaying how he and his fellow travelers have encountered and responded to risks. Many encounters, like his vivid recounts of ice and mountain climbing, are quite intense. We get a taste of life as a forester, psychedelic-explorer, musician, academic, blessed husband and alpinist.  Some entrancing events, nicely infused with a humble `stock-taking’ of the cards that were dealt, and the choices made. An extraordinary story that resonates beyond risk.” – Kevin Brand, University of Ottawa

““Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all” wrote Helen Keller in her passageway focused book The Open Door. Metaphorical passageways hurtle us in and out of the risky exploits of Mr. Lee in Through Dangerous Doors. Climbing on a glacier or rappelling down a mountain, Lee shows us the thrill of daring adventure. But risk is not the goal, it is the price paid for adventure – and sometimes that price is too high. Lee helps us see that managing risk, sometimes with tools or technology and sometimes by knowing when to say no, is the key to continuing to be able to pass through new doors.” –  George Gray, George Washington University, co-author of Risk: A Practical Guide for Deciding What’s Really Safe and What’s Really Dangerous in the World Around You

I’m a tired, cold, wet sponge. My co-workers are losers, addicts, and criminals who work hard, nonetheless. Most are always stoned on something. I’m encased in rubber from head to toe, with wool underneath. The smell of wet vegetation permeates everything. It’s always raining, and never warm. I’m in virgin wilderness, moss-covered primordial forest never seen by humans. The streams are choked with salmon during spawning. Some days, I see a dozen or so nine-foot-plus Alaskan brown bears, thousand-pound monsters who have never seen humans and who’re afraid of absolutely nothing. They can kill with one swipe of their eight-inch wide paws, armed with claws like curved daggers. I carry a bolt-action rifle chambered for .375 H&H Magnum 300 grain bullets for bear defense. I’m reluctant, but I slosh through the door to woods work.


Upon arrival in Ketchikan, I was told no logging jobs were available. Many people who work for or with the US Forest Service refer to the agency as the Forest Circus. The logger I spoke to explained he hadn’t won an expected Circus contract, and he’d had to lay off workers. This put me in a bit of a sticky wicket, as I had no return ticket and little money. If this had happened later in life when I was more confident, I would’ve wrested a return ticket out of the man. My life, however, would’ve proceeded in a completely different direction, so I’m glad I didn’t wrest anything.


The lack of logging jobs was actually a fortunate turn, as logging is particularly dangerous. I flew back to Juneau, where there were other jobs. I worked for a few months for minimum wage in a Forest Circus visitor’s center at Mendenhall Glacier, a stop for busloads of well-heeled cruise ship tourists. I couldn’t afford rent. I’d expected to live in a logging camp, but I was able to use temporary government housing in Juneau.


The only people who lived in Juneau seemed to be those who didn’t fit in anywhere else. Fishermen and loggers came into town and blew their entire paychecks drinking and whoring. The town smelled like fishy moss, or mossy fish. Bald eagles dumpster-dove, competing with the ravens. It felt like time travel back to a wilder era.

Tiring of cleaning up tourist trash and actual crap, I capitalized on a forestry course I took at State, and switched to a surveying job. Surveying in those conditions wasn’t any more pleasant than logging, but at least the work itself was easier and a bit safer. Survey crews laid out the boundaries of future logging areas in virgin wilderness with compasses and chains (long tape measures). This was way before Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Once logged, the areas are called clear-cuts. All marketable trees are felled, then skidded down to the ocean and floated to mills. Surveying was my introduction to woods work.


The crew flew from town to the field camps in small float planes, flown by crazy-ass bush pilots whose idea of fun was diving toward and buzzing whales, mere feet above the waves. The camps looked like sets from the Robert Altman movie M.A.S.H. Miserable workers living in miserable canvas tents in miserable, sopping wet forest. We suffered from gastrointestinal illness much of the time, due to fecal contamination or camp crud. It was difficult to obtain fresh food except for fish.


We flew to the survey line most days in Vietnam-era Bell Huey helicopters, piloted by freaky Vietnam vets who were usually drunk or stoned. Decapitation during loading was a concern for tall people like me. Crosswinds off the glaciers above the forest zone pummeled the aircraft. The helicopters pitched and yawed wildly once they took off and rose above the treetops. None of us ate breakfast before going to work. The pilots yelled at us in our headsets to shut up so they could concentrate in such conditions.


The pilots often landed in muskeg, as these were the only open areas. Few things were more unpleasant than stepping out into a bog and sinking down, OTT or over-the-top of our knee-high rubber boots, into the cold peaty water. Then we’d have to take off our helmets and reeking, fireproof onesies with the rotor screaming in our ears.


I was concerned about some of the workers carrying rifles. Many had never hunted or even fired a weapon, yet the government handed them powerful firearms used to hunt the largest game on Earth. Training for shooting a charging bear, dodging-and-weaving through thick forest, consisted of the crew chief setting up a stationary cardboard box fifty feet away and instructing the shooter to fire away. Fortunately, nobody on my crew ever shot a bear or human. Capsaicin bear spray, a much more effective defensive weapon, had yet to be invented.


Much of the work involved just making it through the day without getting killed by ursine monsters or other means, or going rain-insane. Everybody had different coping mechanisms. Being in a stoned state made the work less pleasant for me, as the days seemed much too long, and I tended to focus on my physical misery. I’d wait until I was in the tent at night to light up. I felt overwhelming relief lying stoned next to a glowing wood stove in a dry tent.


Working in such unpleasant surroundings, with many unpleasant people, required a simultaneous mix of inward retreat and congeniality. I’d done plenty of hard work before this, but not at such a high level of wretchedness.


There were, however, occasional moments of transcendence. As long as I accepted the suffering, there were fine rewards: Spawning female salmon leaping over dams of their dead and rotting sisters who didn’t make it. A gigantic brownie, sitting on his haunches eating caviar from the gravid belly of a salmon he’d just snagged and ripped open with a single claw. Impromptu sight-seeing tours over pristine fjords, provided by the heli pilots when they had extra fuel. Keeping my shit together while hiking, camping, and tripping on psychedelics on my days off; lever-action Guide Gun on my pack or next to my sleeping bag, loaded for big bear. Hikes along wild beaches choked with giant driftwood, making way for the occasional lumbering bear. Glorious views of the Juneau Icefield and the coastline, achieved by bushwhacking (trail-less hiking through bush, which whacks the bushwhacker) and scrambling (easy, un-roped rock climbing) up unclimbed and unnamed peaks on rare, precipitation-free off days. My first aurora borealis, witnessed on a rare clear night from the deck of a ferry plying between islands, miles from any shore lights. It was astounding. A yellow-green corona originating from overhead like divine rays of love, an LSD trip without drugs.



is available at:

Also Available at

Wido Publishing

Robert Charles Lee
 is a retired risk scientist with over twenty-five years of academic and applied risk analysis, decision analysis, and risk management experience in a wide variety of contexts. He has authored over one hundred peer-reviewed scientific works, as well as over one hundred technical reports for industry and government agencies. Prior to the professional risk work he worked in laboratories a bit, but otherwise was a manual laborer until he reckoned that he could use his brain for a living.

Robert has a BS in Botany, a BS in Science Education, an MS in Environmental Health, and a Certificate in Integrated Business Administration. He is ABD (all but dissertation) in a Toxicology PhD program. He is an ordained Minister and has an honorary Doctorate of Metaphysics from the Universal Life Church and is a Member of the Nova Scotia L’Ordre du Bon Temps, or Order of the Good Time.

He was born in North Carolina and lived there for over twenty years, but has since lived in Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and Alberta. He was also homeless for a time while a laborer in the Western United States. He currently resides in Colorado.

Robert and his wife Linda have climbed hundreds of technical and non-technical mountain, rock, ice, and canyon routes, hiked thousands of miles in several countries, and skied many miles of vertical feet at resorts and in the backcountry.

Robert is an avid amateur photographer, largely of outdoor subjects. He is a musician who plays hand, stick, and mallet percussion, and who can sing, but rarely does for unclear reasons. He is an amateur sound engineer and producer and has recorded more than a thousand written and improvisational instrumental pieces with other musicians to date. He was trying to learn to relax in retirement, but then he discovered non-technical writing. He has written a memoir and a poetry collection and is working on short stories.

Through Dangerous Doors is his latest book.

Visit his website at or follow him on Goodreads.

Book Review: Triple My Listings by Knolly Williams


I received a free copy of this book--paying only shipping cost--from an advertisement in a program at a real estate conference. Honestly, I don't have high expectations of free material that says these tips will increase your sales volume. While you may pick up some good advice, it is usually buried inside a sales pitch for the author's services. Triple My Listings by Knolly Williams falls into that category.

Don't get me wrong. There are a ton of free resources offered. You can join Knolly's Mentorship Masters program for free, the book is filled with QR codes linking to free videos, some neat scripts are included, and there is a fabulous recommended book list, but the point is to get you to the author's website, where he talks about his brokerage and all they have to offer.

No one can deny that Knolly has the experience to share his knowledge, but there are few new ideas in this book and nothing replaces the discipline of focusing on lead generation day in and day out. Knolly even opens with developing the daily lead generation habit, because that is what we all know makes the difference. 

I loved Idea #13 - "Create Your Pre-Listing Package (Your Press Kit)," and if you don't want to do all that work yourself, you can order his "Overnight Celebrity" Done-For-You Toolkit. The challenge I have is with the title. There is no such thing as overnight success. Success comes from hard work. 

As a writer, I take issue with Idea #14 - "Write Your Seller BOOK (or license Knolly's for FREE)." There are companies out there that create books on how to sell your home or work with you to create them. You can get a license and slap your name, picture, and information on the covers and then you hand those to property owners to entice them to sell with you. Nothing wrong with offering information. As a published author, I'm not a fan of the how it cheapens the process of writing and publishing a book, and if all you are doing is buying/securing a license to use someone else's book, I hope you at least read it to know what's inside so that you sound like you know what you're talking about if a seller asks any questions.

In the end, if Triple My Listings encourages you to try something new or motivates you to commit to daily lead generation, then it is easily worth buying for less than $10 (as of right now). 

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08N8QPT5C
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (November 8, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 154 pages
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8561066221


Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Book Review: Winter at a Summer House by Mary Beth Hines


In this beautiful debut collection, award-winning poet Mary Beth Hines creates a rhythm of life set to stunning imagery. Broken down into six sections, Winter at a Summer House brings the reader from infancy through adulthood--a world filled with first words, family, romance, and a multitude of life experiences.

I'm sure part of why this collection spoke to me is because nature and water imagery fill its pages. From "Scarborough Sail" to "Before the Blizzard" and a unique offering told from the perspective of an alligator, each poem drew me in deeper until I polished off the last poem that gives this collection its name. That last one was so moving and so beautiful that I had to read it over again. Other favorites of mine from this collection are "First Words" and "Honeymoon." 

The cover art, designed by Hines's sister, catches the eye since you have the summer house by the shore with a woman walking back into shore while looking out at herself floating. 

If you love moving poetry that will stir up all kinds of emotions, pick up a copy of Winter at a Summer House today.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Kelsay Books (November 4, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 102 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 163980045X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1639800452
  • Purchase from Amazon

  • I received a digital copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

First Chapter Review: If They Can't Kiss Right: Surviving Online Dating by Shannon Yingst


I received the first chapter of If They Can't Kiss Right: Surviving Online Dating by Shannon Yingst through Pump Up Your Book.

Warning: Adult Content 

Online dating: the new way of life. It seems like the only logical way to meet people anymore. The rest of our lives are on the internet, so why not our love lives too? Because if you wait for your friends to set you up, you'll only be disappointed with their choice of Roger from accounting, the epitome of mouth breathing, booger eating morons.

Fortunately, there are no Rogers from accounting in this tale. There are, however, many other bad choices. But along the way, I learned what I want, and what I don’t want in a relationship. I learned good qualities to seek and bad qualities to leave behind. I also learned a lot about myself in the process, too. The biggest gain I got from my foray into online dating, though? Writing this book and passing along some of the life lessons I discovered through a painful trial-and-error process.

If you think your dating life is bad, take a gander at mine. Relive the awkward moments, soak in the unnecessary drama, and don't forget to learn a thing or two. Men and women alike will be able to read this and take-home solid dating advice for the future.

Laugh. Learn. Love. Question why some humans are so insane. Maybe even see yourself in some of the pages. But above all, take to heart all the things I figured out along the way. It’ll save you the heartache and trouble. Trust me. 

COVER: Clever. I like the crushed red heart lollipop image which reminds the reader of love, Valentine's Day, and sweets. 

FIRST CHAPTER: The author brings you through a tumultuous long-distance relationship she had with a guy in the UK while she lived in the States. 

KEEP READING: Probably. I enjoyed the author's no-nonsense, conversational style and appreciated her willingness to share her life. Most of us have been in a less than ideal relationship, which makes the author's story easily relatable. I am glad Yingst ended the first chapter with a disclaimer of what is to come, so that the reader can make a decision if they want to proceed. Despite the four F-bombs in the first chapter, I would continue, but I have a feeling that eventually what the disclaimer warns me of would interfere with my overall enjoyment. However, the book has received excellent reviews and readers find it totally relatable to anyone who has wandered through the world of online dating, so the author obviously knows her market and connects with them. 

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07HXQ6HHC
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Tyburn Hill Media Co. (September 30, 2018)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ September 30, 2018
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1232 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 150 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Enabled

I received the first chapter from Pump Up Your Book. This first chapter review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Shannon Yingst is a woman with dreams far beyond her reach. Not because she isn’t ambitious, but because she is short, and her dreams are on the high shelves. On her tip toes reaching for those dusty aspirations, she hopes to achieve the daunting task of entertaining the masses with the written word. Shannon likes to write while listening to Star Wars soundtracks, stand outside while it snows, and get confused playing board games. She would love to spend her days reading on the beach with a waiter bringing her frozen margaritas and snacks as the sun moves about the sky, but for now, she will continue to work at her desk in Jersey.

You can visit her blog at or connect with her on Twitter.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2021

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

We are back to Tuesday again. This week's topic is a fun one--New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2021. Many of the new authors I discovered were in children's literature, but I did find some that I reviewed here as well. So, without further ado...

Top Ten New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2021

Monday, January 24, 2022

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Mailbox Monday - Jan 24

Welcome to It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Mailbox Monday.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

Well, this week passed by in a blur. How was yours? With meetings, media interviews, showings, and a new listing, my brain is a bit tired. I'm also working on an editing project. Not a lot of reading going on right now. I am sticking with my Bible plan, but not a lot else. 

I will review the first chapter of this one on Tuesday.

My review of this book will appear here on Wednesday.

I need to read these.

I need to tackle these two books in February.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

This book that I am reviewing in February arrived last week.

Self-care is a buzzword often mentioned when people seek to optimize their health. Suggested self-care practices tend to include activities such as exercising, getting a massage, or eating a healthy diet. While all of these actions have their place, none of them are sufficient enough to provide the soul-care we need to maximize our self-care. Self-care without soul-care equates to temporary solutions that leave us searching for the next new thing. However, when Christ becomes the center of our holistic health journey, we not only find fulfillment in Him but also a dependency on and trust in Him to truly live our best lives-emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Please remind me that I promised I would not request too many virtual book tour titles this year. LOL!

Hope you share what you're reading this week. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

First Story Review: 5 Funny Detective Stories by Benjamin Sobieck


This short story collection, which I think has been updated since I grabbed it as a Kindle freebie in 2014, contains originally five, now appears to be eight, short detective stories.

BLURB: Fans of funny detective stories, meet Maynard Soloman, gal-damn detective. Some would say he's crusty, profane and clueless. But if you ask him, he solves the world's problems one case at time. Once you experience his 1930s-style of doing business in a 21st century world, you just might agree.

COVER: Fairly basic and plain, but the bold and vibrant text draws your attention to the cover. The bonus material mention might help it sell.

FIRST STORY: After a brief introduction from the main character, Maynard Soloman, the reader is dropped into the first story, which finds Maynard sleeping in his Winnebago in the Wal-Mart parking lot when he is disturbed by a horrible racket. He soon finds himself in the middle of the war on drugs.

KEEP READING: If you are into crude talk, satire, and crotchety old men, then this might be a story collection for you. It's really not my thing. Some of the expressions and references may be deemed offensive by modern readers. 

I would like to think that the author was going for an older, wisecracking detective that finds himself in the middle of idiotic and, sometimes ironic, situations. I just don't know if he hit the mark as well as he could have. 

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B00G2LKT20
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ October 20, 2013
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1462 KB

I picked this up as a Kindle freebie in 2014. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.