BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Fresh Ink Anthology

Fresh Ink

An Anthology by Various Young Adult Authors

YA Short Stories

Book Description

In partnership with We Need Diverse Books, thirteen of the most recognizable, diverse authors come together in this remarkable YA anthology featuring ten short stories, a graphic short story, and a one-act play from Walter Dean Myers never before in-print.

All it takes to rewrite the rules is a little fresh ink in this remarkable YA anthology from thirteen of the most recognizable, diverse authors writing today including Nicola Yoon, Jason Reynolds, Melissa de la Cruz, and many more, and published in partnership with We Need Diverse Books. This collection features ten short stories, a graphic short story, and a one-act play from Walter Dean Myers never before in-print. It will give readers the opportunity to discover how the next chapter is up to them.

Careful–you are holding fresh ink. And not hot-off-the-press, still-drying-in-your-hands ink. Instead, you are holding twelve stories with endings that are still being written–whose next chapters are up to you.

Because these stories are meant to be read. And shared.

Thirteen of the most accomplished YA authors deliver a label-defying anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play. This collection will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and color outside the lines. All you need is fresh ink.

MY THOUGHTS:

4 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Fresh Ink: An Anthology by Lamar Giles

Featuring a collection of short stories written by diverse authors and about characters that seem to be rarely featured in the majority of YA books, Fresh Ink offers something for everyone.

A couple of standout stories were: “Don’t Pass Me By” by Eric Gainsworth. In this tale, a Native American boy celebrates his background in a time where most like him seemed to be trying to hide it. It was beautiful to see him claim himself and stand up for those who couldn’t or wouldn’t say anything. “Meet Cute” by Malinda Lo–a love story, or a beginning of one. This was exactly as its’ title suggests. Two girls meet at a convention and get to know each other through unconventional means. The dialogue felt real and appropriate for the age of the characters. “Catch, Pull, Drive” is about a transgender swimmer, and how just one person standing up for what’s right can really make a difference in a life.

This anthology is perfect for this point in time, where more and more teens are feeling free to be who they really are and express it to the world. Inclusion is important, and no matter your race, gender, sexuality, or ethnicity, you will find a story you like in Fresh Ink.

View all my reviews


AUTHORS INCLUDE:

Lamar Giles, Nicola Yoon, Malinda Lo, Melissa de la Cruz, Sara Farizan, Eric Gansworth, Walter Dean Myers, Daniel José Older, Thien Pham, Jason Reynolds, Gene Luen Yang, Sharon G. Flake, Schuyler Bailar, Aminah Mae Safi

“I absolutely love this mix of established and newer talents, and I’m really intrigued and excited by the mixed formats.” –BookRiot

“A powerful and varied collection…”—Booklist, starred review

“The stories are distinct in themes, subjects, genres, and formats, creating an inclusive, authentic, and incredible collection”—School Library Journal, starred review

Purchase it: GoodreadsAmazonAudibleB&NiBooksTBD

 

3 winners will win a finished copy of FRESH INK US Only.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

 

 

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3 Ways to Beat Insomnia Without Sleeping Pills

Insomnia is not necessarily a condition, but rather a symptom of some underlying cause. The cause itself could be physical, psychological, or even environmental, depending on the particular situation in question. While it would be impossible to determine the cause/causes without consulting a proper medical professional, insomnia in most people doesn’t stem from severe conditions. If you have had trouble sleeping recently or for quite a while now, here are three steps that can prove to be quite effective.

Even though you might be used to seeing your bedroom in a certain way, it doesn’t mean that your subconscious mind sees it in the same light as your conscious mind. Take care of the following to see a rapid change in your bedroom’s ambience:

⦁ Make your bedroom slightly cooler than the rest of your home
⦁ Repaint the walls with soothing colors such as light blue, pink, or purple
⦁ Make sure that when you switch off the lights and pull the curtains, the room becomes pitch black at night
⦁ Use scents such as lavender and jasmine to get more sleep through aromatherapy

Make Your Bed Sleep-Friendly

The bedroom is important, but it isn’t nearly as important as the bed itself for obvious reasons. It has been found that most sleep-related problems originate from the bed, so taking care of all the essentials will likely cure your insomnia as well. The mattress should be just right for the people who are sleeping on it. For example, medium-firm memory foam mattresses are recommended for most people, but if you have a back problem that keeps you up at night, you may need a firmer mattress. On the other hand, side-sleepers will not be able to sleep well, if at all, on a hard mattress. The bed isn’t only about the mattress though, because pillows are just as important. A waterbase pillow with foam or fiber on top for comfort and water below can work wonders for destressing the neck and relaxing the entire spine by combining support with flexibility. If the bed and the pillows you are lying on are customized to your specific needs, rest assured that you will definitely sleep better.

Skip a Night’s Sleep

Now here is an idea that nobody will tell you about because it’s a bit extreme. If you are having trouble with sleeping every night, then chances are that you wake up after just a few hours of sleep in the wee hours of the morning and spend your entire day in a drowse. This is something that further disrupts the sleep cycle and it continues till insomnia sets in deep. Try the following few steps (only when the day after isn’t a busy/work day) when you are having trouble sleeping and you may just cure your insomnia for good.

⦁ Don’t sleep or even lie down on the bed in an attempt to sleep during the night
⦁ Resist the urge to sleep during the early hours of the morning and go about your day
⦁ Do not allow yourself to indulge in caffeine or energy drinks too much
⦁ Although you will feel drowsy throughout the day, don’t sleep at all until it’s bed time
⦁ Get into bed a few minutes prior to bed time
⦁ Read a book or listen to relaxing music till you fall asleep automatically
⦁ Get in and out of bed every day at the same time after this

If none of the above methods are working for you, it is definitely time to visit a physician and get a professional opinion, but in most cases, these three steps are sufficient to cure insomnia and keep it at bay as well.

BOOK BLAST & GIVEAWAY: The Weight of Silence by Gregg Olsen

The Weight of Silence

by Gregg Olsen

A Nicole Foster Thriller

Book Description

A heart-pounding novel of unspeakable crimes and unforgivable sins from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sound of Rain.

Homicide detective Nicole Foster has finally balanced an unsteady life and is anxious for a second chance. There’s no better place to start over than at the beginning—back at her childhood home on the Washington coast, where’s she raising her niece and keeping an eye on her increasingly fragile father. But Nicole’s past is never truly behind her—not when a disturbing new case stirs dark memories of the haunting investigation that shattered her career.In the middle of the hottest August in a century, a toddler is found dead inside a parked car. Her father says he forgot her. It’s an unthinkable crime. And for Nicole, it’s made all the more unbearable by her own suffocating secrets—those shared by an old rival who has reappeared from the shadows and is pushing Nicole to the edge once again.

Now, wherever the truth lies, solving this case and avenging an unforgivable death is the most important move in Nicole’s career. But to see it through to the end, how far is she willing to go? And what is she prepared to risk this time?

About the Author

Throughout his career, Gregg Olsen has demonstrated an ability to create a detailed narrative that offers readers fascinating insights into the lives of people caught in extraordinary circumstances.

New York TimesWall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, Olsen has written nine nonfiction books, nine novels, a novella, and contributed a short story to a collection edited by Lee Child.

The award-winning author has been a guest on dozens of national and local television shows, including educational programs for the History Channel, Learning Channel, and Discovery Channel. He has also appeared on Dateline NBC, William Shatner’s Aftermath, Deadly Women on Investigation Discovery, Good Morning America, The Early Show, The Today Show, FOX News, CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, MSNBC, Entertainment Tonight, CBS 48 Hours, Oxygen’s Snapped, Court TV’s Crier Live, Inside Edition, Extra, Access Hollywood, and A&E’s Biography.

In addition to television and radio appearances, he has been featured in Redbook, USA Today, People,Salon magazine, Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times and the New York Post.

The Deep Dark was named Idaho Book of the Year by the ILA and Starvation Heights was honored by Washington’s Secretary of State for the book’s contribution to Washington state history and culture. His Young Adult novel, Envy, was the official selection of Washington for the National Book Festival.

Olsen, a Seattle native, lives in Olalla, Washington with his wife, twin daughters, three chickens, Milo (an obedience school dropout cocker spaniel) and Suri (a mini dachshund so spoiled she wears a sweater).

PURCHASE THE BOOK:
Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter
 

– Winner will receive a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card from Gregg Olsen.

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BOOK TOUR SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison

Tear Me Apart

by JT Ellison

Psychological Thriller

Book Description

The follow-up to her critically acclaimed Lie to Me, J.T. Ellison’s Tear Me Apartis the powerful story of a mother willing to do anything to protect her daughter even as their carefully constructed world unravels around them.

One moment will change their lives forever…

Competitive skier Mindy Wright is a superstar in the making until a spectacular downhill crash threatens not just her racing career but her life. During surgery, doctors discover she’s suffering from a severe form of leukemia, and a stem cell transplant is her only hope. But when her parents are tested, a frightening truth emerges. Mindy is not their daughter.

Who knows the answers?

The race to save Mindy’s life means unraveling years of lies. Was she accidentally switched at birth or is there something more sinister at play? The search for the truth will tear a family apart…and someone is going to deadly extremes to protect the family’s deepest secrets.

With vivid movement through time, Tear Me Apart examines the impact layer after layer of lies and betrayal has on two families, the secrets they guard, and the desperate fight to hide the darkness within.

 

Prologue
University Hospital
Nashville, Tennessee
1993
Vivian
I remember the day she arrived so clearly. What quirk of fate led her to me? I wondered about this for years. If only I had stepped right instead of left at the corner, or taken the stairs instead of the elevator at the hospital, perhaps ordered chicken instead of steak for my last meal with my father before his death, the principles of chaos—the butterfly effect—would have altered the course of my life enough that she wouldn’t have appeared. But I did step right, and I took the elevator, and I had the steak, and she did appear, and I will never recover from her.
*
It’s my eighth Turkey Tetrazzini Tuesday. I push the food around on my tray, not hungry. The meds they give me make me in turns nauseous and lacking in appetite and dinner is at five, anyway, only a few hours away. If I feel better then, I’ll eat.

Everyone else is happily communing with the glob of gray matter on their plates. They don’t know any better. Half are drooling in their trays, the other half are tracing the voyage of little green men through the gravy or wadding the tinfoil wrapping from their rolls into bouquets they hang on their bedsteads to keep away the government spies. Suffice it to say we don’t have anything common. I have no exciting diagnosis. I haven’t committed a crime. I’m just depressed. Like, suicidal ideation with three attempts under my belt depressed. Yes, it’s the bad kind.

I wander back to my room, glancing in the doors of the rest of the ward. Occasionally, the occupants leave out fun things to play with. Magazines. String. Cards. I’m not picky, anything to break the tedium. I’m out of luck today. The rooms are spotless. Beds are made, towels hang straight and even, the whole ward smells of Pine-Sol. The janitors have been through. They will have pocketed anything of worth.
I bail on the reconnaissance mission and swing by my small hole for my cigarettes. Four times a day, I am allowed to stand in a tiny six-by-six hutch off the back steps and smoke. I can see the sky and the huge brass padlock that, if opened, would give me my freedom, allow me to step into the parking lot and disappear into the world, but nothing else. Sometimes, I wonder if cigarette privileges are worth it. It must be how cows feel, penned in day after day, never able to cross to the other field.

My room, 8A, is white. White as week-old snow, the kind of white that isn’t crisp and clean, but dirtied, institutional. You won’t see the exact shade anywhere else. White walls, white bedding, white linoleum. White gowns. White long-sleeved jackets with shiny silver buckles if we’re naughty.

Normally, we’re all double-bunked, but I haven’t shared in a month, not since the last roommate was sent home. As much as I hate her for getting out, I’ve found I enjoy the silence of having my own space. Being alone always frightened me before. I despised the dark and its creeping pulchritude. Now, I crave its simplicity. Its emptiness and solitude. Caring about fear is too hard anymore.

I stop in the doorway. There is someone in my room.
Her hair is dark and cascading, freshly washed; she reeks of the squeaky-clean scent of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. The hospital passes it out to all new inductees in their plastic “welcome” bucket.

She sits on the bed, head cocked to the side, her back to the door, staring out the four-by-two wire mesh screen window, which looks at the parking lot—bleak gray asphalt and a never-ending parade of cars. It’s a strange torture, this taste of freedom they give us. We are fish in the aquarium; we can see the rest of the world passing by, disinterested people living uninteresting lives.

This intrusion into my private space infuriates me, and I slam back out to the nurses’ station. There is a nurse named Eleanor Snow who runs the ward, but we all call her Ratchet because she is a bitch. No one said we had to be original.

Ratchet is calmly doing an intake form. Probably for my new roommate. Her serenity infuriates me further. I don’t get serenity. My mind never quiets and allows me to sit, smiling, as I fill in forms.
I snarl at her, “Who is in my room?”

“Your new roommate. I suggest you go introduce yourself. And keep your hands to yourself. You don’t want me to cut your nails again.”

I shudder. I don’t, and she knows it.

“You didn’t ask my permission to move someone in.”

“We don’t have to. Now scat. I have work to do. And eat your dinner, or I’ll talk with Dr. Freeman about your lack of eating.”

“Be sure to tell him the meds he gives me make me puke.”

I storm off. It’s the only power I have, not eating. They force the drugs in me, tell me when to sleep, shower, and shit; make me sit in a circle with the other drooling idiots to share my story—you’ll feel so much better after you’ve talked it out, dear. No. No!

To hell with the cigarette break. I head back to 8A, and the girl is still sitting in the same spot, her head cocked the same way. She has long hands. They prop her up, to the sides of her hips, as if they are grounding her to the world.

I make noise, and she doesn’t turn. I step in front of the window, looming over her so she’ll look at me. I snap my fingers under her nose, and she barely flinches.
Oh.

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series, the latter starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the international thriller series “A Brit in the FBI” with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the Emmy Award-winning show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband.

Connect with J. T.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

Jane Doe

by Victoria Helen Stone

Thriller

Book Description

A double life with a single purpose: revenge.

Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.

But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.

Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.

Just as he did to her.

 

MY THOUGHTS:

3 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS


Jane Doe
by Victoria Helen Stone

Jane has learned from a young age not to rely on anybody. So when she finally does find her person, her best friend, they become close as sisters. And then Jane loses her to suicide. So Jane decides to make someone pay.

Her target is pastor’s son Steven Hepsworth. Steven is as white bread as it gets–working in an office, single, preys on women. Steven had a relationship with Jane’s friend, and treated her horribly, which Jane thinks is to blame for her suicide. Jane gets to work seducing him, and she’s fun to watch.

It’s always interesting to me when the narrator of a story knows exactly what kind of person they are, but they embrace it instead of trying to change. Jane is not a good person, in fact she is a self described sociopath. She uses her lack of emotions to her benefit, and it has seemed to work for her in her life so far.

I wish there would have been a bit more thrill in this book. I didn’t feel much of a sense of danger or suspense–the mystery basically lies around finding out the truth about Steven. Jane knows what she is doing, she plans meticulously, and therefore there is never a point where the reader thinks she might fail or get caught.

One issue I had with this book is that at times, it seemed like the author was going out of her way to make sure that the reader knew how bad of a guy Steven was. So much of the stuff he says and does is excessive, to the point where it felt like it was being forced.

I liked the end of this book, if only because it was unexpected. From the way Jane was talking throughout the whole rest of the book, I would have thought she would have taken a different course of action. Jane Doe was a quick read, and Jane is an interesting character, but the rest of the book didn’t have the depth I hoped for.

View all my reviews

About the Author

Victoria Helen Stone is the nom de plume for USA Today bestselling author Victoria Dahl. After publishing more than twenty-five novels, she is now taking a turn toward the darker side of genre fiction. Born and educated in the Midwest, she finished her first manuscript just after college. In 2016, the American Library Association awarded her the prestigious Reading List Award for outstanding genre fiction. Having escaped the plains of her youth, she now resides with her family in a small town high in the Rocky Mountains, where she enjoys hiking, snowshoeing, and not skiing (too dangerous).

Connect with Victoria

Website | Twitter

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

One commenter will win a copy of the book (US/CAN).

Please let me know your favorite thriller you’ve read. Ends 8/15.

 

 

BOOK TOUR SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Everything Under the Sun by Jessica Redmerski

Everything Under the Sun

by Jessica Redmerski

YA Dystopian

Book Description

Thais Fenwick was eleven-years-old when civilization fell, devastated by a virus that killed off the majority of the world’s population. For seven years, Thais and her family lived in a community of survivors deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. But when her town is attacked by raiders, she and her blind sister are taken away to the East-Central Territory where she is destined to live the cruel and unjust kind of life her late mother warned her about.

Atticus Hunt is a troubled soldier in Lexington City who has spent the past seven years trying to conform to the vicious nature of men in a post-apocalyptic society. He knows that in order to survive, he must abandon his morals and his conscience and become like those he is surrounded by. But when he meets Thais, morals and conscience win out over conformity, and he risks his rank and his life to help her. They escape the city and set out together on a long and perilous journey to find safety in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Struggling to survive in a world without electricity, food, shelter, and clean water, Atticus and Thais shed their fear of growing too close, and they fall hopelessly in love. But can love survive in such dark times, or is it fated to die with them?

“Why are you so angry, Atticus?” My voice was soft and concerned now.
He blinked, but offered no response.
“I’ve seen men fight before,” I went on, “but I’ve never seen a man as angry at the world as you are. The way you beat that man in your room”—I shook my head with despondency—“the one just now; Atticus, you’re just so full of rage and hate. Why?”
He snorted, as if he’d found my question ridiculous.
“Why?” he mocked incredulously, holding out his hands, palms up. “I’ll tell you why, Thais: at every turn someone wants to rob or maim or kill us; we can’t sleep, night or day, without the thought in our heads as we close our fucking eyes that we might not wake up.” He gestured his arms wildly, his features constricted with indignation. “We’re covering our shit up like animals, sleeping in ditches, watching over our shoulder every second of every day for the chaos to grab us by the ankles and pull us down with it—and you ask why?”
I sat against my quilt, unable to stand to hear this truth. And as if his movements depended on mine, Atticus fell into a crouch in front of me, bouncing on the toes of his boots. I never looked away from the pull of his gaze, trapped by the intensity of it.
“I haven’t slept since you arrived in Lexington City,” he went on. “When I saw you that day, clutching your sister as she was ripped away from you; when you lay on the sidewalk, begging me to help you—it did two things to me, Thais”—he held up two fingers, and then dropped them between his legs—“it fucking killed me; the things I had to do, the part I had to play in not only your fate, but the fate of every girl in those ropes—it fucking killed me! It killed what little was left of my humanity!” His voice had risen with his heated words, his memories, but then he paused to calm himself, lowering his head but for a moment.
I remained motionless, speechless, but my heart began to ache and fill up at the same time. I listened raptly to every word, my heart breaking as he spoke them.
“It killed me,” he repeated. “But then something reached into Hell, grabbed me by the throat and pulled me back. I died that day in the street, Thais Fenwick; I died and then there I was, looking down at you with the eyes of the man I used to be, and I wanted to help you. I still fought with myself after that, but I wasn’t going to let you die or be raped or forced to marry a man you didn’t love—I didn’t know what to do, but I was going to do something, goddammit.”
I sighed. I wanted to hold him, but all I could do was sigh.

 

About the Author

Jessica Redmerski is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, international bestseller, and award winner, who juggles several different genres. She began self-publishing in 2012, and later with the success of THE EDGE OF NEVER, signed on with Grand Central Publishing/Forever Romance. Her works have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Jessica is a hybrid author who, in addition to working with a traditional publisher, also continues to self-publish. Her popular crime and suspense series, In the Company of Killers, has been optioned for television and film by actor and model William Levy.
She also writes as J.A. Redmerski.

You can find and contact Jessica here:
– Website
– Facebook
– Twitter
– Goodreads
– Amazon Jessica Redmerski
– Amazon JA Redmerski

You can buy Everything Under the Sun here on Amazon.

3 winners will each win a signed paperback copies of Everything Under the Sun, along with signed bookmarks and postcards (United States and Canada only).

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

 


Lola's Blog Tours tour host

BOOK BLAST & GIVEAWAY: Someone I Used to Know by Patty Blount

Someone I Used to Know

by Patty Blount

YA Contemporary

Book Description

TRIGGER WARNING: Boys will be boys is never an excuse.

It’s been two years since the night that changed Ashley’s life. Two years since she was raped by her brother’s teammate. And a year since she sat in a court and watched as he was given a slap-on-the-wrist sentence. But the years have done nothing to stop the pain or lessen the crippling panic attacks that make her feel like she’s living a half-life.

It’s been two years of hell for Derek. His family is totally messed up and he and his sister are barely speaking. He knows she partially blames him for what happened, and totally blames him for how he handled the aftermath. Now at college, he has to come to terms with what happened, and the rape culture that he was inadvertently a part of that destroyed his sister’s life.

When it all comes to a head at Thanksgiving, Derek and Ashley have to decide if their relationship is able to be saved. And if their family can ever be whole again.

About the Author

Patty Blount grew up quiet and a bit invisible in Queens, NY, but found her voice in books. Today, she writes smart and strong characters willing to fight for what’s right. She’s the award-winning author of edgy, realistic, gut-wrenching contemporary and young adult romance. Still a bit introverted, she gets lost often, eats way too much chocolate, and tends to develop mad, passionate crushes on fictional characters. Let’s be real; Patty’s not nearly as cool as her characters, but she is a solid supporter of women’s rights and loves delivering school presentations.

Patty is best known for her internet issues novels, including SOME BOYS, a 2015 CLMP Firecracker winner and SEND, a 2012 Junior Library Guild Fall Pick. Visit her website at pattyblount.com, where you can sign up for her newsletter. She blogs at YA Outside the Lines and is also active online. She loves hearing from readers, especially when they tell her she’s cool (even though she knows it’s not true), and is easily bribed with chocolate. Never underestimate the power of chocolate.

WEBSITE
TWITTER

GOODREADS
FACEBOOK
INSTAGRAM

PURCHASE THE BOOK
Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

– 2 Winners will receive a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card. 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

 

5 Must Have Bedroom Accessories to Help You Sleep

A bedroom should be a place of rest, where we can come to at the end of a hard day’s work to relax and unwind. It is one of the few places in the house we can truly call our own, so it makes sense to want to personalize it. Here are some ways in which you can do just that with the added benefit of helping you to get a good night’s sleep.

Wall Art

Whilst you may like to line your bedroom walls with photos of family and friends to keep the area more personal to you, it may surprise you to know that having photos near to your bed can stir up emotions and memories that make it harder to fall asleep. Keep family portraits in the living room or hallway and hang some large canvas art depicting green spaces, seascapes, or pictures with repeating patterns. These have all been proven to relax the mind.

Plants

If you are looking for something decorative yet practical, plants can actually be extremely beneficial in more ways than one. Plants purify the air we breathe by helping to remove odors and mold spores. As these spores can affect our breathing, it can cause us to have a restless night, so a plant in your bedroom can help you get better quality sleep. In addition, there are some plants that have been proven to have a calming effect, helping to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Add some plants such as lavender and jasmine to your bedroom if you struggle to fall asleep at night.

Organic Bedding

Following on from the notion that purer air can help you sleep better, you can also help to remove allergens from the air by investing in new bed sheets. Conventional cotton bed sheets use cotton that has been grown using insecticides, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals. Organic cotton sheets, however, are made without the use of chemicals so anyone with allergies, especially skin allergies, should consider making the switch to organic bedding.

Storage

When your bedroom is filled with clutter, it can have a direct impact on the quality of sleep you have. Going to bed in a disorganized room will cause your brain, consciously or subconsciously, to register that there is a job to do – a room to tidy – and this causes feelings of stress and guilt that manifest themselves whilst you sleep. As we sleep, our body and mind start to refresh, but this process is hindered when there are more sources of stress in our lives. Invest in some quality storage that can keep your belongings hidden from view, such as under bed boxes, over door hangers, or an ottoman.

A Quality Mattress

This one may seem obvious, but there are so many people that have slept on the same mattress for years that they probably don’t even know that it is the root cause of their sleeping problems. Mattresses should be replaced every eight to ten years, as like any furniture or appliance in your home, they will eventually become worn down. A lack of sleep due to an ill -supporting mattress can lead to irritability, weight gain, and poor overall health. If you have been sleeping on the same mattress for years, it makes sense to invest in a new one.

If you are looking to revamp your bedroom, make sure to look into accessories that not only look great, but can be beneficial to a good night’s sleep too.

COMING SOON TO THEATERS: Dog Days

Statistics say that over 65 percent of American households have at least one pet.  And of those, over 40 percent of homes have a dog.  There’s a reason why pups are so often featured in movies and television shows–they are central to so many of our lives and they bring a joy all their own!

DOG DAYS is a hilarious and heartfelt ensemble comedy that follows the lives of multiple dog owners and their beloved fluffy pals.  When these human and canine’s paths start to intertwine, their lives begin changing in ways they never expected.  This is a sweet film about the joy our furry friends bring into our lives and what they can teach us about treating people with kindness and compassion.  DOG DAYS releases in theaters in August 8.

Our family lost our own pup just over a year ago.  Jasper was a stray we rescued from the side of a highway.  We turned him from a shy, skittish pup into a furry ball of energy that loved to play with my boys.

 

 

Jasper was the first dog my kids ever had, so I know they will always have fond memories of him.  He loved to snuggle up in covers with us, play fetch, and eat treats! Jasper taught my older son how much responsibility comes with owning a pet, and that animals can quickly become important family members.

Before bringing Jasper into our lives, I would have said that I was, without a doubt, a cat person! But now, I know that when the time is right, we will welcome another pup into our home and give it an amazing amount of affection!

 

Be sure to check out Dog Days and reminisce about your own furry friends on August 8!

Vanessa Hudgens stars as “Tara” in Ken Marino’s DOG DAYS, a LD Entertainment release.
Credit : Jacob Yakob / LD Entertainment

SPOTLIGHT: The Little Artisan by Dan O’Brien

The Little Artisan

by Dan O’Brien

Fairy Tale/Fantasy

Book Description

A NEW FANTASY FAIRY TALE!

Not all fairy tales involve young princesses waiting to be swept off their feet by a prince. Some heroines want to change the world. Camille has watched her village, and the surrounding area, slowly wilt from years of unrelenting sun and no rain. Mein was once a land filled with magic and dense forests filled with fantastical creatures. Now, it suffers in silence.

Camille believes that she can change their fate by creating a machine to make it rain once more. However, the village is suspicious of her efforts, concerned that her deep love of science will anger the magicks that once protected them. She will have to learn to stand tall and believe in herself if the world is to ever change.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

She paused in front of the entrance; her heart fluttered and her stomach churned. So close. All of the trials and tinkering and prototypes would soon be put to the test.
Taking a deep breath, she pushed aside the curtain and stepped inside. It was bigger on the inside than it appeared from the outside. Mirrors covered all of the walls, which converged on a single hallway leading deeper into the tent.
Camille headed down the hallway. Its walls were also covered with mirrors, creating a maze of kaleidoscope images. She proceeded forward slowly, restraining her impulse to run.
A voice emerged from farther ahead.
“Maker. Artisan. Tinker. Why have you come?”
“For the final piece.”
“The final piece to what?”
“To my Rainmaker.”
Peeling laughter filled the hallway.
“You continue on this fool’s errand even though everyone doubts you,” called the Trickster.
Camille paused.
She didn’t give much thought to what others thought. Occasionally, she would consider how the townspeople might react if the Rainmaker worked; otherwise, she only felt sad when she thought about the people of Mein because they were too frightened to try anything, to take real chances.
“I can make a difference,” she responded.
“Why would you wish to make a difference when no one else will care?” boomed a voice that suggested a large being.
Camille couldn’t even comprehend such a position. She didn’t require others to validate who she was; she did what she thought was necessary. “I have no need of riddles, questions, or condemnations. I only need the final piece. I only need fuel.”
“Fuel?” parroted the Trickster.
Camille noticed a small shadow at the corner of the hallway. Creeping close, she found a small knob attached to a long, thin mirror. She pushed it and the mirror creaked and receded, revealing yet another hallway.
The hallway was unlit except for a faint light at the end. She stumbled forward, feeling the walls to stay upright. Camille turned as the door she came through closed; she could no longer hear the sounds outside the tent. She pushed on through the darkness until the hallway terminated in an open room with a tall chair at its center. A small figure with sandy red hair and a thick beard sat atop it.
“You’re the Trickster?” asked Camille.
The Trickster hopped down, revealing that he was nearly a head shorter than the little artisan. A jagged scar ran from his nose to his chin, giving him a suspicious look despite his otherwise handsome features and green eyes. “I see that you’ve seen past my mirrors, little artisan.”
Camille didn’t like it when people other than her father called her little artisan. “Do you have fuel?”
He shoved his stubby hands into his pockets. “I do indeed. What do you plan on doing with it?”
Frustration itched at her. “I need it for the Rainmaker.”
“Ah, for your weather machine.”
She looked around the small room and saw a cot nestled next to shelves upon shelves of books. “You live here?”
“Our sleepy little village wouldn’t suffer an imp, so I hide behind my mirrors.”
She felt a stab of sympathy for the little man.
“I’m sorry that you must hide who you are.”
The Trickster shrugged. “We all hide a part of who we are. Some must be more cautious than others.”
Camille walked to the bookcase and touched the spines.
“I don’t hide who I am.”
“I suppose that is why we fear you.”
She turned around, surprised. “Fear me?”
He nodded and paced to a long desk with open books stacked on it. “Knowing oneself is a hardship. It forces us to face parts of ourselves we may not like, so we hide behind our fear. Someone who doesn’t hide like we do is certainly to be feared.”
The little artisan looked down sadly.
“That must be difficult.”
“Ignorance proves to be fantastic insulation,” replied the Trickster. Pushing aside some books, he procured a waxen cube and held it up to the light. “I believe I have what you’re looking for….”
Camille crossed the room and looked at the small cube.
“I don’t have much to give you.”
He closed his hand, obscuring the fuel cube from view.
“I ask that you don’t allow our fear to stop you.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I sell hope, and possibility. I wish for the world to be different; yet, I do nothing.”
Camille found his strange self-awareness disarming.
What was he playing at?
The Trickster extended his hand and placed the fuel cube in Camille’s hands. He smirked. “I expect to hear rumbling very soon.”

 

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About the Author

Dan O’Brien has over 50 publications to his name––including the bestselling Bitten, which was featured on Conversations Book Club’s Top 100 novels of 2012. Before starting Amalgam Consulting, he was the senior editor and marketing director for an international magazine. You can learn more about his literary and publishing consulting business by visiting his website at: www.amalgamconsulting.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AuthorDanOBrien.

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