16 Bookish Gifts for Mother’s Day That Also Give Back

April 28, 2016 Life Well Lived 6



Y’all know Mother’s Day is around the corner, right? I’m nodding at myself as I say that. Usually I’m scrambling the day before to find something special for my mom. Well, either that, or she gives my brothers and me a list 😉

This year is different. This year I’m going to be ahead of my typical procrastinating schedule. Will you join me? I’ve found a few items that are super-special, filled with meaning and will also warm your mama’s reading heart.

The gift that gives back. Two for the price of one  – a tangible lovely gift for your mom + the gift of knowing your purchase will help others in need. and who doesn’t love that?!?



Sparkly Items

  • Moms are in the unique position to inspire us constantly and completely. The Giving Key is a reminder of that love and inspiration. | Employs LA Residents Transitioning From Homelessness
  • Although advertised for friends, this bracelet set would be such a sweet gift between a mother and daughter. | 40% Of Sales Donated To Benefit Survivors Of Human Trafficking
  • Made from paper, these earrings are a lovely Spring accessory. | Creates Sustainable Income for Women and Children In Masese, Uganda

For the Home

  • It’s important that moms are comfy when reading. This alpaca blanket ensures just that. | For Every blanket purchased a Blanket is Donated to Your Local Homeless Shelter
  • The wise mom and reader has more books than bookshelves. This unique steel book stand represents Inca wisdom. | Proceeds Assist Talented Artists Worldwide and to Unicef’s Program of Saving & Protecting Children
  • These Classic Books Coasters are a lovely way to protect mom’s furniture while she’s reading with that cup of tea or coffee. {or wine 😉 } | Each Product Sold Donates a Book to a Community in Need
  • I can attest to these candles. Light, fresh scent and portable enough for any mom who travels. {and a must for hotel rooms!} | Donates 100% of after-tax profits to provide new funding to reading-related charities


mothers day gifts

For the Writer

  • To keep up with books read, to jot down inspiring quotes, or for journaling this hand carved journal is gorgeous and worthy of that special mama. | Work with Artisan Partners to Overcome Poverty
  • When your mom gets deep into her writing, This Bar Saves Lives will keep her going til she comes up for air. | For Every Bar Purchased One Pack of Life-Saving Food Provided to Child in Need
  • Add Free-Trade, Organic Coffee to the granola bars and she’s got enough to sustain her for hours of reading and writing. | Sustainable Development of Rural Communities in Mexico and Guatemala
  • To be a great writer you’ve got to be an even greater reader. Buy your mom a book on writing or that classic novel she’s missing in her collection. | For Every Book Purchased One Book is Donated
  • These Jane Austin Notecards are perfect for the mom who enjoys sending real notes through the real mail. | Started by a Book Blogger, this Shoppe Gives a Portion of Proceeds to Several Charities


mothers day gifts

The Complete Outfit

  • This tee is the perfect way to share the importance of reading. | Awareness and charitable contributions to variety of causes
  • What mom doesn’t need this stylish tote to carry her books? | Employs Innercity Youth and Provides College Scholarships in Phoenix, AZ
  • Another option could be this burlap FEED bag. | Provides 25 Meals for Children Around the World
  • It will be summer soon, and that means reading by the pool, or better yet, on the beach. These sunglasses are both stylish and practical. {practical how? if your mom likes to push her sunglasses up to the top of her head this version without wire won’t get caught in her hair!} | Buy One/Give One Mission and Training + Empowering Those in Developing Countries

Now, the only problem is choosing just one gift, yes?

Help add to the list – what companies do you like that give back to the community?



Sunday Serenade with Suey from It’s All About Books

April 24, 2016 Book Talk 6

Sunday Serenade Suey

This lovely lady has been a book blogger for a very long time and friend to many for just as long. If you’ve been around the book blogging world for any length of time you’ve most likely participated in a Bloggiesta or at least heard of it!  Suey has been the gracious hostess for four years, and I’ve been in awe of her ability to keep us all corralled and moving forward!

Something I recently learned about Suey is that she is a prolific writer! Actually, I’ve learned quite a few cool things about Suey lately ~ like her fascination with other cultures, that she does her grocery shopping at Macey’s {in the South that’s a department store}, and Zumba is her go-to workout of choice and oh, most recently, that she parties during Readathon’s. Can I be your neighbor, Suey? 😉

You’ve been hosting Bloggiesta for years now {how many?} I”ve always admired how on top of everything you stay when it comes to Bloggiesta ~ how do you manage to get so organized? and time management alone during the actual event must be a nightmare – how do you do it?

I took over Bloggiesta in 2012 from Natasha after she stopped blogging. There was a year or two break between when she had been doing it and when I took over, so it was fun drumming up interesting again. I think my “secret” is to keep the event as simple as I can. I always ask for feedback and enjoy the different answers, but often the suggestions will be to “add this” and “add that” and “more more more!” So if I think it will just complicate the purpose of the event, you’ll know it won’t make the cut! Recently, I’ve managed to survive the actual week of the event by recruiting hosts for Twitter chats. That’s saved me! I’m also very lucky to be involved in an event that basically runs itself, so really there’s not much I have to do except line up the challenges and post some things to the website. Everyone just does their thing from there. It’s awesome!

It’s fantastic how you’ve organized the event to run like a well-oiled machine. You’ve also started a writing site, and I’ve heard you’ve got a few manuscripts in the works ~ Do you mind sharing a bit about your writing projects? What has been the most beneficial thing you’ve done to help you along your writing journey?

I’ve participated (and “win”) in three NaNoWriMo’s. The manuscript from the first Nano I actually finished and then revised for the next year or two and even sent it to beta readers and got tons of feedback. Which was overwhelming! Now I’m not sure if I should pursue that book or not. I’m so timid about this whole thing!  Anyway, all three of these projects are YA stories, all different genres. The first one I’d classify as a contemporary romance but with a touch of paranormal (based on legends in Native American lore) and some historical (a diary written in 1906.) The second one is a romance (romances to be more specific) that takes place in the 80s so… would we call that contemporary? Or historical? (I’ve had this discussion at length with various people and we can’t seem to come to a conclusion!) And the third I can say very definitely that it is a science fiction space opera and is a loose retelling of the Tristan and Iseult romance.

The most beneficial thing that helps my writing stay on target is going to writing classes and conferences. Also, meeting and connecting with other writers. I still need to find an “in real life” writing group where I have to be accountable and produce stuff and critique stuff. Once that happens, I think things will take off. I hope.

You do call yourself a writer, yes? With all of the writing you’ve accomplished I hope you’ve learned the art of saying ‘yes, I am a writer!’

This particular question is especially for you, Suey! Your blog has expanded its focus to not just books but to include culture as well. Can you share some of the diverse pieces of culture you’ve gotten into lately?

This question makes me laugh! What a nice way to say… “I hear you are being overtaken by Korean pop culture!”  LOL!  Well, the truth is, I like (love? Yes, I love) music from all sorts of genres and places and cultures. I also love languages. And of course, I love stories. Mix it all up and you’ve got the craze that I currently find myself in! Previous to my discovery of the Korean things (and by things I mean Kpop and Kdrama,) I was in love (ok, I still am!) with a singer from France (Kendj!) who sings in both French and Spanish. Awesome! And I was adding other random language songs to my playlists all the time, some of them I didn’t even recognize (like this song sung in Breton.) So it was only a matter of time before I fell hard for all things Korean.  And now wanting to learn that alphabet and language. It’s a fun endeavor and though I find myself semi-apologizing for the obsession, I truly think it’s a great thing to be obsessed with anything that includes learning about another culture. Am I right? Wait… am I supposed to share actual “pieces?” What does that mean exactly? I guess I linked to some cool songs up above. You want more? Super Junior’s Yesung just came out with a new album which I’m currently playing nonstop and here’s the title music video. So there’s a little Korean ballad for you. How about some Vietnamese? This song is unbelievably beautiful. Into dancing? Watch this and then get up and dance with them! And if you want to try a drama, watch this, all 24 episodes! (Well, start with one and then you can decide if you’re hooked or not.) How’s that for a “little” taste of a few diverse things going on with me lately!?

You had me at dancing…but honestly, I don’t know that my body will pop like those kids! They are phenomenal!  What advice would you give to a blogger who wants to expand into more areas than just books? What advice would you give to other bloggers about becoming more creative in their endeavors?

Well, even though I, too, worry about it sometimes, I think you can make your blog whatever you want it to be. And if a blogger wishes to expand a bit and do something different my advice is,  just do it and see what happens. New readers will find you, some old readers will relate, and it can only make the blog more interesting and layered. As for being more creative, this is where you really need to be brave and believe in your ideas and again, just do it! Is that good advice? I have no idea, but I hope so!

Ah Suey, that’s excellent advice. Very excellent advice. Thank you for joining us today and sharing all things cultural ~ my Spotify list will never be the same!

Suey can be found blogging at It’s All About Books, hanging out on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. If you want to be really daring, check out this Suey-recommended playlist.




A Bookish Giveaway Celebrating Shakespeare

April 22, 2016 Book Talk, Giveaway 1

worlds elsewhere

Are you a Shakespeare fan? Have you ever wondered what the worldwide appeal and fascination we have with Shakespeare and his writings? Then I’ve got the giveaway for you!

Both a cultural history and a literary travelogue, Worlds Elsewhere is the first of its kind. From Berlin to San Diego, Mumbai to Cape Town, journalist and Shakespeare scholar Andrew Dickson traveled the globe to find out how and why the world became fascinated with Shakespeare.

To help the winner keep up with all those timeless Shakespeare quotes, this notebook from Obvious State, a bibliophile’s dream shopping site is included in the giveaway.

shakespeare notebook

Complete the entry form below before 11:59 pm April 28th. U.S. entries only. Good luck!

Giveaway Ended. Many thanks to the entrants!


I’d love to know ~ what’s your favorite Shakespeare play, line or quote? How do you think Shakespeare has influenced our culture?








*Many thanks to Henry Holt Publishing for providing Worlds Elsewhere for giveaway!


On a Journey with The Passage

April 21, 2016 Book Review, reviews 5

On a Journey with The PassageThe Passage (The Passage, #1) by Justin Cronin
Published by Ballantine Books on June 8th 2010
Genres: Dystopian, Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 766
Source: purchased


I was not going to read The Passage. I absolutely positively wasn’t going to read it.

It was too hyped up plus I read a review that said it was about vampires, and y’all know I don’t do vampires. And I read it was going to be a trilogy and I hate waiting for sequels.

But then I read that the third and final book is coming out in May.

And I read this review and this one and this one. I decided I would pick up the book, read the first page, and if it didn’t grab me in that first paragraph, then sayonara The Passage.

Wouldn’t you know, it grabbed me and sucked me in with the very. first. sentence!

I’ve always been a huge fan of Indiana Jones, Clive Cussler’s, Dirk Pitt, James Rollins, Sigma Force and Michael Crichton’s every book ~ these adventure novels are perfect escapism reading.

The Passage is filled with flawed human characters, deftly created by a master storyteller.

Epic in scale. Plays on our every mortal fear and conspiracy theories. A scientist stumbles upon a deadly virus that makes terminally ill patients ‘cured’ of their cancers. These patients also appear to have an age reversal ~ becoming younger and more virile {yes, bad pun I know!}. Then a month later all of those patients are dead? Can you not just see all kinds of entities all over this? A virus that cures ailments and makes you younger – yes, please.

So what does this secret government agency do? Collect 12 human test subjects to experiment creating the ultimate ‘cure’ for disease, aging and death.

Somehow the experiment goes horribly wrong. But you knew that was coming, right? Because the book is 776 pages. And everything I just told you is in the first chapter!

The Passage is disturbing, makes you think and wonder what you would do.

3 Reasons I love The Passage

  1. it’s a hero’s journey, but the hero turns out to be a girl.  {no spoiler here – it’s on the book flap and Goodreads description}
  2. it’s along the same lines of a true epic like The Lord of the Rings 
  3. it makes you think. oh does this book make you think ~ and ask everyone around you “what would you do?”

2 Reasons The Passage is intimidating

  1. I love big books and I cannot lie. But with The Passage and the alternating time frames and the ‘have to read it at break-neck speed’ because I have to find out who lives made me feel like after I was finished that I need to go back and start from the beginning. a. because it was so good, and b. because I probably missed clues along the way.
  2. The whole thing seems so plausible. Terrifying.

Recommended for anyone who enjoys epic adventure novels, Michael Crichton-esque conspiracies and The Walking Dead.

Ok, I’ve got to know ~ have you read it? What did you think? Or were you like me and avoided it like the plague for the longest time?




Thoughts on Writing

April 18, 2016 Life Well Lived 6



The first time I stated “I’m a freelance writer” I was also tamping down feelings of being a fraud. That awful lizard brain was telling me, at the same time, “hah! who do you think you are calling yourself a writer!” Of course there was lots of inflection and tone in the lizard brain’s questioning. If you can imagine that little voice in your head that whispers “you’re not good enough. . .” waking up, hopping from shoulder to shoulder to repeat in each ear like crazy jackal “who do you think you are?”

So I’ve been thinking and wondering:  If you’re a blogger, do you consider yourself a writer?

It’s a rhetorical question and one I’ve often asked myself. Am I writer because I journal? because I blog? because I write freelance articles? What makes me a writer? What makes anyone a writer?

Longtime readers know what a champion I am for life-long learning. Coursera and other MOOCs {Massive Open Online Course} are the best inventions since sliced bread. So when I found Gabriela Pereira’s site a couple of years ago, you can probably imagine my delight. Is it really possible to DIY an MFA?

In thinking further on what makes a writer a writer wouldn’t it be to write, to practice the art of writing? to continue to learn about writing? Isn’t that where the growth of a writer comes from? That’s what I tell myself, at least.

Going back to school for my MFA is simply not possible for health and financial reasons. Doing the DIY MFA has been possible and doable. Plus the ‘homework reading’ is fun 😉

This post was inspired by a writing prompt for the DIY MFA Street Team. “Have you ever thought about getting an MFA?”

I’d love to know if you have ever considered getting an MFA or what you believe makes a writer. Let’s talk it out!