Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Monday, April 13, 2015

Not Without My Father Book Tour

Can an epic adventure succeed without a hero?

Andra Watkins needed a wingman to help her become the first living person to walk the historic 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did. She planned to walk fifteen miles a day. For thirty-four days.

After striking out with everyone in her life, she was left with her disinterested eighty-year-old father. And his gas. The sleep apnea machine and self-scratching. Sharing a bathroom with a man whose gut obliterated his aim.

As Watkins trudged America’s forgotten highway, she lost herself in despair and pain. Nothing happened according to plan, and her tenuous connection to her father started to unravel. Through arguments and laughter, tears and fried chicken, they fought to rebuild their relationship before it was too late. In Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace, Watkins invites readers to join her dysfunctional family adventure in a humorous and heartbreaking memoir that asks if one can really turn I wish I had into I’m glad I did.

What did I think of the Book? Here's my review…
In a few words, Not Without My Father by Andra Watkins was fresh, funny, heart breaking, and a lesson in perseverance. Plus add a few lessons on how to get along with your aging parents.  In sometimes self deprecating humor, Andra, named after one of the Lawrence Welk singers (because her Dad thought the singer was hot), invites us on her walking journey of the Natchez Trace, a historical path that is about 440 miles stretching from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee. What could have been just a pleasant travelogue, is turned into a humorous, heart wrenching at times adventure because Andra goes on this adventure with her aging father as her side kick. Not that that is a good thing. Their relationship has always been tenuous, but he is her last hope. He's a storyteller, he's a couch potato and he has a lot of gas, but he untimately agrees to tag along. Eventually her mother shows up to save them both. But it's Andra's reflections and thoughts along the trail, where we learn about her quirky family, how things don't always go as planned, as well as her love/irritated relationship with her father and dealing with him, that make this memoir a reading adventure a step or two above the other adventure memoir's out there. Her father Roy even joins in, writing his thoughts along the way, and reading those passages was very touching. It was life sustaining and life changing for Andra, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The writing was good, it kept me turning the pages and the story was perfect.

 I give it 5 walking shoes out of 5! 

About the Author…

Andra Watkins lives in Charleston, South Carolina. A non-practicing CPA, she has a degree in accounting from Francis Marion University. She’s still mad at her mother for refusing to let her major in musical theater, because her mom was convinced she’d end up starring in porn films. In addition to her writing talent, Andra is an accomplished public speaker. Her acclaimed debut novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis was published by Word Hermit Press in 2014.

Her latest book is the memoir, Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace.

For More Information…

Visit Andra Watkins’ website.
Connect with Andra on Facebook and Twitter.
Find out more about Andra at Goodreads.
More books by Andra Watkins.
Contact Andra.

Chick with Books is part of the Not Without My Father Book Tour presented by Pump Up Your Book promotions. I want to thank Andra, the author, for sending along a copy of her book for my reading pleasure and review! I really enjoyed it and will take to heart one of the messages you impart's along the way - make a memory! You show a great example of that in your book!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Meditation is an Open Sky Book Tour!

It's the Meditation is an Open Sky Book Tour! Author Whitney Stewart is traveling around the blogosphere promoting her book, Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids, and today the tour stops at Chick with Books! What a fantastic book too! A children's picture book, Meditation is an Open Sky can also be read & appreciated by adults! 

Here's what the publisher has to say about the book…

Feeling mindful is feeling good! You know when you're having a bad day, you have that wobbly feeling inside and nothing seems to go right? Find a quiet place, sit down, and meditate! In this daily companion, kids of any age will learn simple exercises to help manage stress and emotions, find focus, and face challenges. They'll discover how to feel safe when scared, relax when anxious, spread kindness, and calm anger when frustrated. Simple, secular, and mainstream, this mindfulness book is an excellent tool for helping kids deal with the stresses of everyday life.

Here's an excerpt from the book…

You know when you’re having a bad day and nothing seems to go right? You have that wobbly feeling inside that makes you scared, sad, and mad all at the same time. Well, find a quiet place, sit down, and meditate.

Meditation won’t take away your problems, but it will help you deal with them. You’ll learn to watch your feelings pop up and disappear like soap bubbles. 

Read through this book and pick one meditation for today. 

Sit in a chair or cross-legged on a pillow on the floor. 
Keep your back straight but not stiff, and put your hands on your knees or in your lap. 

Close your eyes or keep them slightly open and stare at a spot on the floor. 

Inhale and feel your breath fill up your belly. 

Then breathe out slowly. Continue with slow, full breaths during meditation. 

What Did I Think About the Book? Here's my review…

Simply put, Meditation is an Open Sky by Whitney Stewart is a beautiful, calming book that helps young children understand their feelings and helps them deal with them through simple meditative techniques. I noticed myself becoming calm just reading the book, which by the way is beautifully illustrated by Sally Rippin in soft muted colors.

In the 32 pages, Whitney Stewart teaches about meditation in a storybook setting, having a cute elephant demonstrate the techniques such as relaxing in a bathtub, thinking about a peanut for "Mind Drawing for Focus", and sitting under a coconut tree with a ice cream cone for "Finding a Special Place to Relax". Whitney also covers how to help a friend and at the end of the book, answers questions about meditation. It's a book that I feel can grow with a child, but also a book that can help adults learn to find calm in their own storm. A picture book with a wonderful purpose! 

Should be on every child's book shelf and I would give it... 5 stars.

About the Author...

Whitney Stewart grew up in New England and graduated from Brown University. She published her first award-winning, young adult biography after interviewing the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, the subject of two of her books. She trekked with Sir Edmund Hillary in the Everest region of Nepal; interviewed Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon, Burma; and traveled extensively in Asia to research the lives of Deng Xiaoping, Mao Zedong, and Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. She is the author of three middle-grade novels and multiple middle-grade nonfiction books, including an unknown tale of Abraham Lincoln and artist Francis Bicknell Carpenter. Her newest picture books include A Catfish Tale, a bayou retelling of the Grimm brothers’ Fisherman and his Wife, and Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids.

For More Information about the author, Visit Whitney Stewart’s website.
Connect with Whitney on Facebook and Twitter.
Find out more about Whitney at Goodreads.
Visit Whitney’s blog.
More books by Whitney Stewart.
Contact Whitney.

More Information about The Book…
Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids is available at Amazon.
Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
Purchase at Albert Whitman & Company.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

I want to thank Pump Up Your Book for inviting me to be part of the book tour and sending along a copy of Meditation is an Open Sky for review! Loved the book!
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