Neema’s Reason to Smile

A heart-warming story about a child’s desire to go to school

 The kids are little older now and the novelty of going to school has wane. I have always shared with my nieces and nephews that they should not take education for granted … that going to school should not be a chore as there are many children in this world who would love the opportunity to learn how to read, write, and fuel their imaginations. However, they are unable to attend school because they cannot afford clothing, supplies, and books.

Neema’s Reason to Smile, written by Patricia Newman, is a vibrant and lyrical tale of a young Kenyan girl, named Neema, who dreams of going to school. We learn about Neema’s young life and how she must work selling fruit instead of receiving an education. She saves her coins in hopes of one day having enough money to pay for school, but it is one step forward two steps back for young Neema. One day Neema spots a little girl heading to school and follows her.  She ends up at a school and witnesses a learning environment she had only dreamed of. School was everything she thought it would, but alas, it was not meant to be for Neema; so she thought. For young readers, I believe this book is about responsibility to family, kindness and reciprocity. Although this story is considered fiction, the story is based on the real-life students at Jambo Jipy School in Kenya.

The book was engaging and illustrations well-done. My niece and nephew were attentive (with an occasional distraction as the family dog passed by). They asked questions about Africa, and found it sad that there are kids too poor to go to school.  My niece and nephew cheered when a teacher invited Neema to attend her class.  So, this little book was a reality check for them.

A couple of drawbacks I noticed included a few too many high-level words and harsh description of the “beggar”.


Rating: 4/5 stars

Donna Andrews

Super aunt of a 7-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy



Win New Book- The Greatest Brick Builds: Amazing Creations in LEGO

LEGO bricks have been used for decades by children and adults to create dazzling and playful buildings, vehicles, and unique works of art. In The Greatest Brick Builds: Amazing Creations in LEGO  ( available in hardcover $19.99), these jaw-dropping creations are presented in full color, with close-up photos, scale representations, historical commentary on the structures, and details on how each model was constructed using LEGO bricks. Included in this collection are the Golden Gate, the USS Missouri, and the Great Sphinx of Giza, as well as other iconic structures created by LEGO crafters from around the world.
A perfect  gift for LEGO fans young and old — get inspired with some of the world’s most impressive LEGO creations!

One of you can win a copy of this book for yourselves- feel free to enter by using the RC form below. Ends Jan 27, 2018. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Ghost Towns of the West by Phillip Varney and Jim Hinckley blazes a trail through the dusty crossroads and mossy cemeteries of the American West, including one-time boomtowns in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. The book reveals the little-known stories of soldiers, American Indians, settlers, farmers, and miners. This essential guidebook to the historic remains of centuries’ past includes maps, town histories, color and historical photographs, and detailed directions to these out-of-the-way outdoor museums of the West.

Plan your road trips by chapter–each section covers a geographic area and town entries are arranged by location to make this the most user-friendly book on ghost towns west of the Mississippi.

Ghost towns are within a short drive of major cities out West, and they make excellent day trip excursions. If you happen to be in or near Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, or El Paso, for example, you ought to veer towards the nearest ghost town. Western ghost towns can also easily be visited during jaunts to national parks, including Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, Glacier, Yellowstone, and many others throughout the West.

Ghost Towns of the West is a comprehensive guide to former boomtowns of the American West, covering ghost towns in eleven states from Washington to New Mexico, and from California to Montana. This book has everything you need to learn about, visit, and explore a modern remnant of how life used to be on the western range.

Pick up your copy now on Amazon or wherever your prefer to buy your books.

Piper Was Afraid – Kids Book and Plush Toy

kids book

What’s better then a cute kid’s book? One that comes complete with a stuffed animal of it’s hero, of course. Piper, an Irish Wolfhound, was afraid. Of other dogs, of storms- of pretty much everything. Big a dog as Piper was, he was just a scaredy cat. What will Piper do?

“Piper Was Afraid! Piper is the main character of the children’s book Piper was Afraid. He is a cute and cuddly companion that helps children be brave… especially at bed time. Piper comes with an adoption certificate as well as instructions on what to do if Piper gets scared! “Piper was Afraid” is based on a real Irish Wolfhound named “Inspirations Bagpiper of Blackwatch” or Piper for short. He is a rescue dog and was adopted by the owners of The Inn at Willow Grove in Orange, Va.”

Check out the Inn at and don’t forget to tag your photos of Piper with @piperwasafraid to get featured on his instagram page- and who doesn’t want that?  Interaction with the real Piper. Well….his people, anyway.

My son got a kick out of Piper, and my guess is your children will as well. Even the very youngest kids will not have a problem following along this simple book with an easy, and relateable theme. Most kids get scared now and again- if a big dog like Piper can get scared (and learn to be brave), then they can feel better about it, themselves. Maybe they will feel like trying something new as well, and having a “brave” moment, just like Piper. Plush Piper can go along on adventures with your child as well, or just snuggle in for a story and bedtime.


Adorable Handcrafted Plush Dog is available with it’s hardcover book. The Piper stuffed toy comes with an adoption certificate, the kids get a kick out of that.
Piper’s soft, shaggy fur feels like a real Irish Wolfhound.
Get your set today in time for the holidays! Order at

Peace, Bugs and Understanding – Cute New Kids Book

My son loves to be read to, and will hopefully be a big reader like his mom.  He likes pretty much anything, from the classics, to comic books, to “cute” books, and more. I’m glad he likes diversity in reading, hopefully it means he’s open minded. One of the latest books we have read is “Peace, Bugs and Understanding,” the newest children’s book by Gail Silver in her illustrated series beginning with Anh’s Anger.


This books is about finding peace instead of anger, and encourages children to look inward and be calm when they feel anger. It deals with meditation on a child’s level- which I think is pretty cool, and timely for us since my son is about to start kids classes next month.  We both do yoga already, and I meditate, and feel this would be good for him as well.  Like his mother, he has some tendencies that this could help.  (Don’t we all, right?)  Maybe starting younger would be helpful.

This is a cute book, easy to follow, with relatable characters and problems.  We are going to find the first two books of the series as well so that we can read them all.

More About the Book

The newest (and final) installment in the series is “Peace, Bugs, and Understanding: An Adventure in Sibling Harmony.” Emotionally charged siblings experience harmony in lieu of rivalry when they discover Metta, a practice that has helped people transform anger into loving kindness for thousands of years. In addition to being an author, Gail is the founder of Yoga Child, a Philadelphia business that teaches children about yoga and inner peace.
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The Ideal Woman – New Book About Finding Oneself

The Ideal Woman, a new book by Roy Espiritu, is not about what you might think.  It sounds like it might be about looking for the woman that one finds ideal, or who the ideal woman is, or how to become the ideal woman.  Instead, it is one woman’s journey, torn between two worlds and two cultures, two countries and two lives, where she is often put on a pedestal because of her looks but then looked at sideways due to her heritage.  She is often forced to walk a fine line, and trying to find herself and what she wants for her life.

The book follows the life of a woman named Pearl and her family.  It centers on Pearl, but because of the importance of her heritage, her family is a big focus as well. Pearl has a Filipino mother and white father, which causes strife between both families, although both adore Pearl. Pearl spends her time mostly in the USA, but also spends plenty of it in the Philippines, where many people apotheosize her for her looks. One family fixates on her, and wants her for their son.  A courting process begins, and Pearl has to decide how she wants to live her life and what she really wants. How she “behaves”, dresses, thinks, acts, dresses, even her family’s history comes into play.
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At the Crossroad – new book

I recently finished reading the book At the Crossroad.   For me, it was a real page turner, hard to put down, with engaging characters and a good storyline. Perhaps I should stay “story-lines”, as the book follows 4 people.  All four are quite different from each other, yet their lives are intertwined deeply.  None of their lives go as planned or as you think they would- which honestly kept the book very interesting.  It also seemed realistic to me, no wild and crazy plots that made it seem implausible, and you find yourself genuinely interested in the characters and wanting the best outcomes for them.

The outcomes are not what you would expect, the lives take them where you would not necessarily think they would- which is one of the reasons the book was so interesting.  Set at a time of military unrest, which seeps into the book but is not it’s major theme, the characters fight to find themselves, their place in the world, and to a sense of justice and happiness in a time when those are hard to find.

Tempting though it may be- do not judge this book by it's cover.  The cover is awful, so very unprofessional and poorly done- but the book itself, the writing is good.  The story is unique and compelling, you will be drawn to the characters.  Ignore the cover- read the book.

Tempting though it may be- do not judge this book by it’s cover. The cover is awful, so very unprofessional and poorly done- but the book itself, the writing is good. The story is unique and compelling, you will be drawn to the characters. Ignore the cover- read the book.

I, too, was hesitant to read this book after I saw the cover.  When I see shabbily done covers, it usually means “vanity press” or “self published” and that the book is going to be a hot mess, full of spelling and grammatical errors, and mostly a just the author strutting and fluffing his own feathers in print.  I am not a fan of most vanity press.  However- this book is NOT along those lines.  It is well written, and I truly enjoyed it.  This is one of those cases that you truly should not judge a book by it’s cover- literally.  Normally I would not dedicate time to discussing a cover, but I know I wouldn’t have given it a second glance had I not known what a good book it was, so I wanted to mention it.

About The Book

The decisions we make at every crossroad in our lives shape our destiny. In her first novel At the Crossroad, Olfet Agrama pens a romance/adventure book filled with passion, forbidden love, faith and power – – the perfect book to give that special woman for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.
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The Littlest Bunny Book- Review and Giveaway

As Easter hops closer, some of us want to get our own little bunnies in a festive mood.  What do you do in your house?  We decorate, bake, and of course, read lots of Easter books (and watch occasional movies, too).  One of the newest books I have found is “The Littlest Bunny”, which is really cool because it lets you choose your state or province and personalize your book that way.


Each book in The Littlest Bunny Series features art and text created especially for a specific state or city, including all 50 states as well as cities in Canada.
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