Acts of Friendship, An Honest House, Book Reviews

No-One Is An Island

“In our view, An Honest House should be required reading for everyone.”  

Isabel Bassett, former government minister and CEO of TV Ontario and Ernie Eves, former premier of Ontario, wrote those words about my second book, An Honest House

I’m sharing their moving words here. For one thing, it allows me to salute Isabel and Ernie for supporting emerging talent, as well as ambitious and accomplished individuals from many fields.

Blog Photo - Isabel and Co
l-r: Tiffany Ford, Djanka Gajdel, Isabel Bassett, Cynthia Reyes

It’s often the little things people do that make a difference, isn’t it?

Telling others about someone’s new endeavour.

Bringing diverse groups of people together to meet and perhaps collaborate on a project.

Blog Photo - Ladies at Isabel gathering
Left: Mickey Palha. To my right: Heather Peterson and Silvia Wynter 

Or buying an author’s book and reviewing it. 

Bravo, Isabel and Ernie!

Here’s their review:

Image of "An Honest House: A Memoir Continued", by Cynthia Reyes

“As I read through An Honest House, I kept thinking that what happened to Cynthia Reyes could happen to any of us.

I wondered how all of us would  cope if we were stripped not only of our health but of our identities as successful, involved leaders and found our new selves to be  pain ridden, physically altered, and anxiety prone among other things.

Would we have the indomitable spirit that kept Cynthia fighting to regain her former self and role in life despite her enormous frustrations adjusting to her injuries following her accident?

How did she keep going?  

How did she find her new role?

Three of the many take-aways in this inspiring book stand out for me and my partner, Ernie Eves, who experienced loss of a different kind when his only son was killed.

The first, of course, is Cynthia’s determination, however wavering at times, to come back both physically and professionally.

Then, over time, as she realizes she cannot turn back the clock, there is her gradual recognition and appreciation of  the overriding value of what she has already: her supportive, caring husband, Hamlin, her two daughters and their families, her friends, faith  and community and, not to forget, her enchanting nineteenth century Ontario farmhouse.

The third inspiring finding for us is that Cynthia has managed to continue to play a significant role in Canadian life by writing books that show how someone can create new meaning and purpose in their lives, however futile it might seem at first.

Given the challenges all of us face at some point in our lives, especially as we suffer the debilitating side effects of aging, we can learn from Cynthia Reyes’ courage, determination and spirit.

In our view, An Honest House should be required reading for everyone.”

— Isabel Bassett and Ernie Eves.

~~~

Thank you, Isabel and Ernie. I share the credit with three extremely caring editors, a dogged publisher, great beta readers, my loving family and friends. 

I’m grateful for all of you who extend yourselves to help others — especially in tough times.

 

 

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A Good Home, Book Reviews, Books, Maya and the Book of Everything, New Books

Un-Put-Downable: Maya

You know when you’re reading a book – even a mostly interesting book — but you reach a paragraph or page that’s over-written, over-described, over-dense, confusing or just plain boring?

Yes?

Me too.

So I can’t praise highly enough the novel that I finished reading last week. “Maya and the Book of Everything” kept me glued to its pages right to the end.

Blog Photo - Maya and the book of everything

This shouldn’t be. There are many different characters, the book skips from one time and place to another and takes fantastical twists. And yet, the storytelling is seamless, the characters compelling, the dialogue convincing, the quest believably and skilfully portrayed. It was a pure pleasure to read this book.

What makes me even more pleased? This book about a teenaged girl who takes on a seemingly impossible mission is from a small press, and authored by Laurie Graves, a blogger you may know.

With this book, Laurie demonstrates formidable gifts and skill as a novelist.

“How did you make the characters so believable?” I asked Laurie.

“I originally envisioned Maya as more timid, but when I thought of all she’d have to face, I knew she couldn’t have a timid character. Maya wouldn’t have survived her adventures. So then I reimagined her as a fiery young woman, a girl of action—unlike me!—and I immediately knew this was the right way to think about Maya.

“Somehow the characters just came, and it wasn’t all that hard to keep track of them. For me each character has a vivid voice and a distinctive way of speaking.”  

 

Blog Photo - Laurie Graves MCU

Where did the idea for the book originate? I asked.

Laurie got the idea for the book while editing a small literary magazine that she and her husband published.

“I used the Chicago Manual Style, not always an easy book to use. One day, I was tackling a knotty grammatical problem, and I said to myself, ‘I wish I had a book of everything.’  Then came the question: What if there were a book of everything? Where would it come from? What would it do? What kind of danger would it be in? Obviously, many people would covet a true book of everything. From this question came Maya and the rest of the story.”

Blog Photo - Laurie reading VasselboroMaya170604

Laurie is Franco-American. Her ancestors came to Maine from Canada. It was important to her that Maya and several other characters share that background.

“It is the place from which Maya springs, and her heritage, along with place, is one of the things that ground her.”

There is a  real place in both Maya’s and Laurie’s stories.

“The street shot (below) is of East Vassalboro, a classic New England village where my mother lived for many, many years and one I came to cherish. It is also where Maya’s grandparents live, and East Vassalboro and its library are essential to the story.”

Blog Photo - Laurie Vasselboro main street

There are subtle but impactful messages woven through this book. Good leadership is one.

“The big messages are that facts do matter and that a place will suffer under a bad leader. The corollary is that good leaders are essential. On a more personal level, I wanted young girls to read about a plucky heroine who turned her face to the wind and faced difficult challenges.”

It’s a great read.

Look out for Book 2: Library Lost, coming next fall.

 

 

A Good Home, Blogger Friends, Blogging Community, Blogging Considerately, Book Reviews, Children's Books, New Books, Newly Released Books, Prize-winning Books, Tips for Blogging, Young Adult Books

Bloggers Helping Bloggers

It’s one of the big surprises of my writing life.

Discovering that becoming a blogger meant I was joining a worldwide community.  A community that cares, and helps.

I became a blogger because my daughters thought I needed to “get myself out there”. I was struggling with the effects of a head injury and damage to my body; I’d become ashamed of myself and extremely reclusive.

Blog Photo - Pink Phlox and Butterfly

Blogging helped pull me out of hiding by giving me pen-pals all over the world.  As I read their stories — or their comments on mine — we started getting to know and care about each other’s projects and well-being.  They inspired and uplifted me.

Bloggers also help each other in practical ways:

Tweeting: Some bloggers often/routinely retweet my (and others’) posts. Take a bow, Wendy MacDonald, Sally Cronin, Sarah Vernon, Tina Frisco, Annika Perry, D.G. Kaye and all of you who do this!

Reblogging: It’s a great compliment when followers reblog a post. Props to Sally Cronin; Chris (The StoryReadingApe); Marcia Meara;  Bernadette; and many others who do this routinely.

Blog Photo - Sally Cronin2
Sally Cronin

Helpful insights: Bloggers such as Gallivanta, Clare Pooley and Lavinia are likely to share a helpful insight, fact or contact in their comments. I always take note!

Writing Tips: Bloggers share tips to improve our writing — blogs or books. Props to Michael Dellert, Sue Uttendorfsky, and many others.

Connections: The best story I know is my own. Chris Graham connected me with Jo Robinson to illustrate Myrtle the Purple Turtle. A great partnership was born. I’ve been recommending Jo as an illustrator and editor ever since.

Author Services:  Jo, Kev Cooper,  Jeanne Balsam and others offer one or a range of services at affordable rates:  editing, design, illustration, publishing, promotions and promotional materials such as bookmarks and posters.

Recognition:  Blogger-reviewer-author Kev Cooper reads many books and started the Diamond Book Awards. Other bloggers give book/blog awards too.

Blog Photo - Diamond Book Award 2017

Promotions: Sally and Chris are the best I know, generously promoting what seems like hundreds of authors each year. How they find the time, I don’t know, but  — take a bow, you two!

Featuring other Bloggers: I do this on my blog, as do many others.

Blog Photo - Yvonne at Desk
Yvonne Blackwood

Blog Photo - Gift of memoir front cover

Blog Photo - Diane Taylor1
Diane Taylor

Deliberately Buying each other’s Books:   All my purchases/requested Christmas gifts from family are books from small presses and especially by indie authors who blog.  I borrow books by the big-name authors from the library.

Blog Photo - Sally Cronin book

Blog Photo - Maya and the book of everything

Blog Photo - Donna K Mind Book

Blog Photo - PS I forgive you.jpg

Giving feedback on Manuscripts: When the draft is done but you’re still not sure and a blogger gives feedback, that’s a major gift.

Reading and Reviewing each other’s books: When a blogger reads my book then reviews it on Goodreads, Amazon or even better – their own blog — that’s a gift! Take a bow, everyone who does this! Thanks to bloggers who’ve done this for me.

Blog Photo - Lavinia Album cover

Spreading the Word:  We spread the word about each other’s books in circles beyond blogging. Lavinia Ross and Gallivanta: Thank you for spreading the word about Myrtle in your own circles and beyond.

Praying/holding faith for each other: We celebrate other bloggers’ “wins”. Invariably, we also learn about their life struggles. When my husband was critically ill, bloggers around the world expressed concern. Many were praying. And when my blogger friends or loved ones face troubles, I do the same.

Been helped by bloggers or helped? Please share!

 

A Good Home, An Honest House, Author Cynthia Reyes, Book Reviews, Books, Great books, New Books

A Summer of Great Reviews

What a precious gift from a reader to an author! Taking the time to buy, read and review their book.

My great thanks to:

Hilary Custance Green (UK), acclaimed author of Surviving the Death Railway and The Green Writing Room blog.  An Honest House was her companion during her own book tour:  

AN HONEST HOUSE AND AN ALBRIZIA

I loved Cynthia Reyes’s first Memoir  A Good Home, so I picked up the continuing story An Honest House in happy anticipation. This is a book with a perfect title and has been my companion during a more than hectic summer….                         Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 20.22.10

I laughed over the Valentine, I wept over Keats, I laughed over ‘a job that pays’. There are few easy-walking meadows in this story, because it is about the mountains and valleys. Among the things that struck me was Cynthia’s insistence on facing up to something we all know – it is never a good time for a difficult or dangerous conversation – and dealing with it so courageously….

Read More at:  https://greenwritingroom.com/2016/08/05/an-honest-house-and-an-albrizia/

 ~~

Tina of Chase N Chance Ranch (USA), who took An Honest House along on her summer vacation:  

BOOK SUGGESTION

On our vacation I brought along the new book (An Honest House: A Memoir, Continued) of one of my favorite authors and bloggers, Cynthia Reyes.

Living on a small hobby farm, working part time, having two children who play multiple travel level sports, and trying to fit in a little me time is always a challenge.  I figured I would be able to get in at least a chapter or two while away for those 6 days.  After the third day, my family threatened to hide my book as I finished it and was starting it over again.  I did not want to put it down!!

 Read More at:  https://chasenchanceranch.wordpress.com/2016/07/26/book-suggestion/

~~

Chip Barkel, realtor and writer (Canada), who made both A Good Home and An Honest House his summer picks:  

SUMMER READING: CYNTHIA REYES’S A GOOD HOME & AN HONEST HOUSE

“Ambercroft Farm, the sign out front said. Hamlin was on a first name basis with the grand old farmhouse right from the start, calling it Ambercroft. For years, I didn’t call it anything at all. The tall, two-story Victorian house seemed sealed off from the rest of the neighbourhood. Within a solid wooden fence and gates, massive maples waved big leafy arms. Pines and dense blue-green spruces soared. A cedar hedge ran the length of the property on one side. This was a private place, sure of its personality and power.”

blog-photo-garden-circle

I often think as I walk through neighbourhoods that behind every shuttered window is a story. Often those stories are ones only the walls and maybe a few select people ever witness. For some a house is a sanctuary, but when life presents a crisis….

Read More at:  http://www.chipbarkel.com/blog/summer-reading-cynthia-reyess-good-home-honest-house/

Chip, Tina and Hilary: I thank you all. 

Note to Readers:

If you’ve recently read a book you like, especially one by a new or Indie author, would you please consider reviewing it online