#ISpawnedAReader: How to encourage kids to love reading

We all know that reading is a fundamental skill that not only facilitates more effective learning at school for our kids, but may also set them up for greater success in life.

Reading helps to improve vocabulary and language skills, stimulates imagination and creativity and promotes stronger analytical thinking.

However, with many distractions as well as alternatives for entertainment or information-gathering, reading is often not given priority by youngsters.

This may be because, to them, reading is not a fun activity, or they may be experiencing difficulties in reading that curtail their enjoyment.

As a parent, here are ways you can encourage your kids to love reading:

  • Being a role model. Show them that you also get entertained and well-informed through reading. Read newspapers or magazines and share tidbits that could interest them. Apply what you read in a joint activity by following a recipe to bake your children’s favorite treat or an instruction manual to assemble a toy.
  • Make it reading a priority activity. You can establish a “reading time” at home when you can read to your little one, or you and an older child can read side by side. Having some snacks in-hand, as well as a comfortable reading are, will help make reading a special bonding activity between and you kids.
  • Give them the right tools. If your child doesn’t relish the idea of lugging around books throughout the house or when you go outside, an e-reader may be your best bet.
  • Expose your children to different book genres. Join your kids in exploring different genres, especially those that they have expressed prior interest in like mystery, science fiction adventure or non-fiction books related to their interests.

What is a Kindle?

Kindle is a line of portable and wireless electronic reading devices (e-readers) produced by online retailer Amazon.com. They make use of a display technology called electronic paper which produces a sharp screen image that resembles text printed on paper, ensuring an easy and comfortable read.

For kids, an Kindle is more appropriate as a reading device as opposed to other personal mobile devices because:

  • It is purpose-built for reading with a glare-free display that reads real paper, even in direct sunlight. Its brightness van be adjusted to let the little ones read comfortably – indoors and outdoors, day and night.
  • A single battery charge lasts weeks, not hours.
  • The kids are subjected to less distractions as there are no games, ads or videos to go to and they can highlight passages, look up definitions, translate words, and adjust text size—without ever leaving the page.
  • Purchase of Kindle Kids includes a 1-year subscription to Amazon Kids+, where they can explore popular titles and series. It also includes access to the complete Harry Potter series, and the first book from other popular series such as Artemis Fowl. Parents can purchase additional titles from the Kindle Store.
  • It can hold hundreds of e-books, encouraging the little ones to grow their library which they can take with them wherever they go.
  • It comes with a 2-year worry-free guarantee. If it breaks, Amazon will replace it for free.

Ready to get this new nifty reading device for the kiddos? Check out your options below!

Kindle Kids
Kindle Paperwhite Kids

Get ready to build your kids’ library with the best-selling books below, available in both print and e-book versions.

For kids ages 1 to 3 years old

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin
I Love You to the Moon and Back by Amelia Hepworth
If Animals Kissed Goodnight by Ann Whitford Paul
How to Catch a Mermaid by Adam Wallace

For kids ages 3 to 5 years old

A Frog Ate My Sandwich! by Christine Durkin
The Angry Dragon by Michael Gordon
Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
Elvin and Brayden, Friends Forever by Sandra Morrison
Do Not Wish for a Birthday Unicorn! by Sarina Siebenaler

For kids ages 6 to 8 years old

The Big Book of Silly Jokes for Kids by Carole P. Roman
You are an Amazing Girl: A Collection of Inspiring Stories about Courage, Friendship, Inner Strength and Self-Confidence by Nadia Ross
Oh No! My Dinosaur Is Sick! by JE Comet
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

For kids ages 8 to 12 years old

The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick
Wish by Barbara O’Connor
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja by Marcus Emerson

Take advantage of Amazon Prime Day deals

Ready to shop for your books and Kindle devices? The good news is that you can enjoy great discounts on your Amazon.com purchases during Amazon Prime Day!

On July 12 and 13, 2022, Amazon.com will hold a mega summer sale offering lots of deals on its myriad of products, exclusively to Amazon Prime members.

To take advantage of the awesome deals that await you during Amazon Prime Day, you need to be an Amazon Prime member.

You can also enjoy these exclusive benefits:

  • Fast and free delivery. Get two-day, next-day or same-day delivery to a US address for millions of items.
  • Prime Video. Get access to fresh movies releases and original award-winning Amazon productions.
  • Prime Reading. Get access to a rotating catalogue of e-books and audio books including one free pre-release book every month from editor’s picks.
  • and more!

This post contains affiliate links.

Header photo by cottonbro on Pexels

Great Reads for Working Moms

We working moms have quite a lot on our plate, don’t we?

Juggling our myriad of responsibilities at work and at home does not leave us with so much free time for some well-deserved rest, much less for reading.

However, we should always make the effort to improve ourselves, especially in how we manage our careers and our family life, and taking in well-formulated advice from the experts will surely help us in being more effective in both important spheres in our lives.

So check out these books and see what insights they can impart to your work and parenting styles.

Books for Rocking It at Work

Bring Your Human to Work by Erica Keswin

Since the start of our careers, we have been taught to maintain a clear separation between our work and our personal lives.

Workplace strategist and business coach Erica Keswin debunks this myth by emphasizing the importance of relationships in the workplace and citing examples of leaders who embody human qualities of authenticity, openness and empathy, who still manage to be successful in their respective fields.

Bring Your Human to Work shows us how to break away from our idea of a cold and impersonal work environment and instead foster a sense of joy and loyalty to the workplace.

Kick Some Glass: 10 Ways Women Succeed at Work on Their Own Terms by Jennifer Martineau and Portia Mount

It’s one of the most dreaded concepts for many career women: the glass ceiling. Its the concept that, despite all your natural talent, all the skills that you’ve developed and all the work you have done and will ever do, you can only go so far in your career.

In Kick Some Glass, authors Jennifer Martineau and Portia Mount dissects the barriers that women face during their climb up the corporate ladder -from both past and present perspectives as well as external and internal orientations – to enable budding women leaders to break through and make their mark in their fields.

Don’t Pay for Your MBA: The Faster, Cheaper, Better Way to Get the Business Education You Need by Laurie Pickard

Sometimes, in the corporate world, having an MBA can open a lot of doors and move a lot of careers forward.

However, getting your graduate business degree can be a very expensive endeavor.

Businesswoman Laurie Pickard enjoins readers of Don’t Pay for Your MBA to skip this costly step and instead shares practical advice on how to take advantage of online education to obtain the knowledge they need to get ahead.

Cowgirl Power: How to Kick Ass in Business and Life by Gail Gaddis

For many women, getting ahead in the workplace can be a very daunting task.

However, advertising CEO Gay Gaddis takes inspiration from other trailblazing women, risk takers who developed their power through knowledge, hard work, excellence and good will, and owned their power to face their challenges as leaders in their families, workplace and communities.

She also shares her own experiences and recommends an action plan for more women to attain that same Cowgirl Power and showcase their mettle in both their work and personal lives.

Glambition: Knocking Down Walls in Heels by Dee Rivera

It’s an uncomfortable truth that women tend to settle at work: they accept responsibilities that are not exciting for them or acquiesce to situations that may not be to their advantage. Glambition author and entrepreneur Dee Rivera refers to this behavior of settling for less than what you’re worth as “shrinking to fit.”

In her book, Rivera shares her personal journey towards self-empowerment as well as real-world advice in order to achieve this.

The book also contains real-life testimonies of women leaders to serve as examples for women int heir journey towards self-confidence and competency.

Lunching with Lions: Strategies for the Networking-Averse by Katherine McGraw Patterson

There are times in business wherein success is not so much a matter of what you know but of who you know.

Networking – interacting with others to exchange information or to form connections with people who can help in your profession – is one of the most hated business activities.

Author Katherine McGraw Patterson puts this down to people not being taught how to network. To remedy this, she shares a Four-Step Beginner’s Guide for the Networking-Averse that will help professionals learn to love and harness the power of networking, and not feel like they are, she calls it, Lunching with Lions.

Books for Rocking it at Home

The Kindness Advantage: Cultivating Compassion and Connected Children by Dale Atkins and Amanda Salzhauer

We hear it more and more these days: if you can be anything, start by being kind.

More and more, the calls for unity, respect and compassion in our daily lives is growing while research shows that being connected and engaged socially are keys to successful and fulfilling lives.

Authors Dale Atkins and Amanda Salzhauer recognize that equipping children with the skills they need to have a positive in the world starts at home. In their book, they outline ways to guide children towards the value of kindness as well as share stories of people who achieved fulfillment through living The Kindness Advantage.

You Can Stay Home with Your Kids!: 100 Tips, Tricks, and Ways to Make It Work on a Budget by Erin Odom

As a working mom, you may find much fulfillment in your career. However, you might also be considering leaving the corporate world in order to be more present in your kids’ lives.

The Humbled Homemaker Erin Odom sheds some light on how You Can Stay Home with Your Kids by dispelling fears on being able to give your children while living on a single income. This may involve sticking to a budget, getting some side hustles, being creative on how to enrich and supplement your kids lives and connect with your spouse without breaking the bank, and more.

For career women who want get out of the rat race and into a more family-centered existence, this is an essential read.

Understanding your Child’s and Teen’s Behavior: Simple Steps and Resources to Guide You Through the Journey by Angie Rumaldo

Adolescence is a rite of passage. For children, it is a time to test their boundaries. For us parents, it is a time to guide them towards being responsible and productive adults.

However, the period of your child’s adolescence is rife with struggle and misunderstanding.

Licensed clinical psychologist and psychiatric nurse practitioner Dr. Angie Rumaldo presents readers with a series of action plans to help correct common behavioral problems and sheds light on typical issues that children face at different phases in their growth and development.

With Dr. Rumaldo’s groundbreaking resource, you will have the essential help you need in Understanding Your Child’s and Teen’s Behavior.

Answering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose and Performance in Younger Generations by Mark C. Perna

As parents, we may be at our wits’ end in trying to bring out the best in our kids and preparing them to become productive members of society.

However, this Why Generation is inundated with a lot of challenges: from the gap between the skills they developed over the years through their education and the ones that employers are actually looking for, their lack of knowledge on the rewarding career opportunities they can take or their disengagement from the modes of learning available to them.

Mark C. Perna illustrates how Answering Why can help engage, motivate and inspire the younger generation to achieve.

Enjoy reading with Kindle

With a wealth of enriching and informative books waiting for you, I’m sure you’re raring to get into reading them. However, if you are concerned about the space you will need to store your growing library, or being able to bring your books wherever you go, getting a Kindle just may be the perfect solution for you.

Kindle is a line of portable and wireless electronic reading devices (e-readers) produced by online retailer Amazon.com. They make use of a display technology called electronic paper which produces a sharp screen image that resembles text printed on paper, ensuring an easy and comfortable read.

It is advisable to have a Kindle, specifically for reading, instead of relying on your other personal mobile devices because:

  • It is purpose-built for reading with a glare-free display that reads real paper, even in direct sunlight. You can also adjust its brightness to let you read comfortably – indoors and outdoors, day and night.
  • A single battery charge lasts weeks, not hours.
  • You get less distractions as you can highlight passages, look up definitions, translate words, and adjust text size—without ever leaving the page.

Ready to get this new nifty reading device for yourself. Check out your various options below!

Kindle
Kindle Paperwhite
Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition
Kindle Oasis

Take advantage of Amazon Prime Day deals

Ready to shop for your books and Kindle devices? The good news is that you can enjoy great discounts on your Amazon.com purchases during Amazon Prime Day!

On July 12 and 13, 2022, Amazon.com will hold a mega summer sale offering lots of deals on its myriad of products, exclusively to Amazon Prime members.

To take advantage of the awesome deals that await you during Amazon Prime Day, you need to be an Amazon Prime member.

You can also enjoy these exclusive benefits:

  • Fast and free delivery. Get two-day, next-day or same-day delivery to a US address for millions of items.
  • Prime Video. Get access to fresh movies releases and original award-winning Amazon productions.
  • Prime Reading. Get access to a rotating catalogue of e-books and audio books including one free pre-release book every month from editor’s picks.
  • and more!

Header photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers McGraw-Hill Education, HarperCollins Leadership, CenterStreet, Two Chickens Press, HCI Books, Zondervan GIFT and BooksGoSocial for the advanced copies of the books mentioned here.

This post contains affiliate links.

Francine Rivers’ inspiring novel Redeeming Love is now a movie

Having loved Francine Rivers’ A Lineage of Grace, a series of novellas centered on Biblical women who are Jesus’ ancestors, I knew I would love her historical romance, Redeeming Love.

A retelling of the Biblical story of the prostitute Gomer and the prophet Hosea set amidst the California Gold Rush, the novel has remained on multiple fiction bestseller lists for over 15 years and has been published in more than 30 languages.

Redeeming Love

Angel was sold into prostitution as a child. Having survived various forms of abuse and the resulting hatred and self-loathing, she meets Michael Hosea. Through his gentle acceptance, she discovers there is no brokenness that love can’t heal. The story reflects the redemptive power of unconditional and sacrificial love with characters and circumstances relevant to the contemporary world.

Imagine my delight when I discovered that this story will soon be available on the silver screen!

Starting January 21, 2022, this inspiring story will reach a wider audience as Nthibah Pictures, Mission Pictures and Pinnacle Peak Pictures releases its film adaptation starring Abigail Cowen (“Fate: The Winx Saga,” “Sabrina”), Tom Lewis (GENTLEMAN JACK), Logan Marshall Green (UPGRADE, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, PROMETHEUS), Famke Janssen (X-MEN, TAKEN), Nina Dobrev (xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, VAMPIRE DIARIES) and Eric Dane (“Euphoria,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” THE LAST SHIP, X-MEN).

The film is directed by D.J. Caruso (xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, DISTURBIA, STANDING UP and I AM NUMBER FOUR), who collaborated with the book’s author, Francine Rivers, to ensure the beloved story stayed true to its roots.

In the lead role of “Angel” is the multi-talented actress Abigail Cowen, one of Hollywood’s rising stars, who headlines the popular Netflix original series “Fate: The Winx Saga.” Cowen was immediately drawn to Angel’s character after reading the script. “Angel is an incredibly complex character who, after suffering a lifetime of abuse, empowered by love, claws her way out of a world of human trafficking and into a place of triumph. It is a very inspiring and timeless story.”

“The story is still as relevant today as it was 30 years ago,” said “Euphoria” star Eric Dane. “It is a story that portrays the battle of light versus dark with unlikely redemption waiting for you at the end.”

“I fell in love with the characters in this story after my wife introduced me to the novel,” said director D.J. Caruso. “It presented me with a rich tapestry of complex characters and outstanding visual opportunities, all wrapped in an epic love story that transcends generations.”

REDEEMING LOVE was produced by Cindy Bond through her Mission Pictures International label; Simon Swart and Wayne Fitzjohn, through their Nthibah Pictures production banner; and Michael Scott, and Brittany Yost for Pinnacle Peak Pictures and Vlokkie Gordon of Advantage Entertainment.

Francine Rivers serves as an executive producer and screenplay writer, alongside director D.J. Caruso.

Other books by Francine Rivers

Lineage of Grace. Stories of Biblical women took active roles in shaping their destinies and in molding the story of God and His people.
Sons of Encouragement. Stories of the lesser-known men behind the celebrated heroes of the Bible who served as guides and support, and quietly helped to shape the faith.
Mark of the Lion. A trilogy set in ancient Rome that explores the travails of Hadassah, a young Christian slave girl, and Marcus, the Roman aristocrat who falls in love with her.

For more details or to buy any of these books on Amazon.com, simply click on the cover images.

Love books and reading? Try Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. Get your first month FREE.

No Kindle device? Download the Kindle App for FREE to read your favorite books anytime, anywhere using most mobile devices.

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Guidebooks for DIY room glowups from Sophia Calima

With all the time we have been spending at home lately, we have probably noted some areas for improvement already.

To give us a feeling of control over our environment, many of us are likely to have been tempted to makeover some of the rooms we frequent in the house.

As luck would have it, doing so by ourselves may not be too hard, especially with the guidance of interior designer Sophia Calima.

Having completed her Interior Design degree from the renowned Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan, Italy, Manila-born Sophia set about finding synergy between modern, western and eastern sensibilities. After honing her talents with stints with with Susan Fredman Design Group Chicago, Droulers Architecture Milan, Lor Calma and Partners Manila, The I.D. Dept Singapore, and Kenneth Cobonpue Cebu, she gained design chops that earned her the moniker “Home Designers That Should be on Your Radar” from Mega Publishing.

She recently launched a book series which is comprised of handy digital guidebooks targeting homeowners who want to make their design goals a reality.

Sophia Calima e-books

Sophia Calima e-books

Sophia Calima e-books

These e-books showcase tips on measuring spaces properly, layout planning for good flow, choosing pleasing color schemes and putting all elements together to transform existing home spaces towards their real purpose such as:

Making the Living Room an inviting place to gather together with loved ones and share meaningful moments

Arranging the Bedroom as a place of respite where people can rest and recharge

And for those who have shifted to working from home, setting up the Home Office to be a place for focus and creativity.

To get your copies of these highly informative e-books, download from SophiaCalima.com at Php350 per book.

Sophia also offers eDesign, an affordable alternative to end-to-end design services wherein consultations, custom design, tips and shopping lists are all provided online with no need for the interior design team to step into the house. This service is ideal for DIYers or clients on a budget as well as those who want to limit physical access to their household spaces in accordance to quarantine restrictions.

For more details on eDesign, click here.

Being stuck at home has afforded us the great opportunity to make it the place we truly want to spend time in. Let’s take advantage of this chance and the excellent resources available to accomplish our home design goals.

Disclosure: Complimentary copies of the e-books were provided to facilitate this feature story.

Header photo Credit: Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

Examples of room design taken from Sophia Calima’s Instagram.

Regency era romance series “Bridgerton” based on Julia Quinn novels premieres today on Netflix

From Shondaland and Creator Chris Van Dusen, Bridgerton follows Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), the eldest daughter of the powerful Bridgerton family as she makes her debut onto Regency London’s competitive marriage market. Hoping to follow in her parent’s footsteps and find a match sparked by true love, Daphne’s prospects initially seem to be unrivaled. But as her older brother begins to rule out her potential suitors, the high society scandal sheet written by the mysterious Lady Whistledown casts aspersions on Daphne. Enter the highly desirable and rebellious Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page), committed bachelor and the catch of the season for the debutantes’ mamas. Despite proclaiming that they want nothing the other has to offer, their attraction is undeniable and sparks fly as they find themselves engaged in an increasing battle of wits while navigating society’s expectations for their future.

Bridgerton is a romantic, scandalous, and quick-witted series that celebrates the timelessness of enduring friendships, families finding their way, and the search for a love that conquers all.

This is the first project among many of writer-producer Chris Van Dusen with streaming service Netflix. Together with Shonda Rimes and Betsy Beers through Shondaland, Van Dusen adapted, show-ran and executive produced the series.

This smart feminist take on Regency England romance unveils the glittering, wealthy, sexual, painful, funny and sometimes lonely lives of the women and men in London’s high society marriage mart as told through the eyes of the powerful Bridgerton family.

“I couldn’t be more excited about being a part of the creative powerhouse that is Shondaland at Netflix,” said Van Dusen. “Bringing these irresistible books by Julia Quinn to the screen, with the fearless and talented team of storytellers I’ve been so fortunate to have worked alongside for so long, is a dream come true. I am grateful to have a home at Netflix, whose commitment to innovative, groundbreaking storytelling is unmatched.”

The series also stars Golda Rosheuvel, Jonathan Bailey, Luke Newton, Claudia Jessie, Nicola Coughlan, Ruby Barker, Sabrina Bartlett, Ruth Gemmell, Adjoa Andoh, Polly Walker, Ben Miller, Bessie Carter and Harriet Cains and Julie Andrews as the voice of Lady Whistledown.

Bridgerton premieres today on Netflix.

Want to lose yourself in the Regency world of the Bridgertons? Check out the best-selling novels by Julia Quinn that inspired the series.

Image and series details courtesy of Netflix.

This post contains affiliate links.

Check out my blog posts about other Netflix shows.

The Jelly List: Book adaptations to stream on Amazon Prime Video

Adapting books to the screen has always been very challenging. Video is a vastly different medium from books, wherein the directive is to “show, not tell.” Scenes and internal dialogues painstakingly detailed in novels will be hard to interpret on the screen. Also, some novels, even though widely successful, might not have enough of a following to justify the expense in producing and marketing a feature film or a series on network television.

Fortunately, the massive popularity of over-the-top (OTT) services gave rise to book adaptations specifically for online and on-demand video streaming. Freed from the constraints of content and length for film and scheduling constraints of network TV, and taking advantage of the data gained through subscriptions and online transactions, multi-episode series covering increasingly edgy and conplex topics are being produced. These result to more freedom in storytelling and to more expansive and lived-in worlds for book lovers to reaquaint themselves with and for non-readers of the books to discover and grow to love.

Amazon Prime Video, the video-on-demand service operated by online retailer Amazon.com, has joined the fray in producing book adaptations that are sure to capture new audiences as well as further endear the works to their existing fans. Novels being adapted into Amazon Original Series include:

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet

Two of fantasy literature’s rock stars – Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett – collaborated on Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. The novel was a hilarious ride through the adventures of an angel and a demon who became friends and their efforts to stop Armageddon as heralded by the birth of an unwitting AntiChrist.

Its adaptation stars Michael Sheen as Aziraphale the Angel and David Tennant as Crowley the Demon. The miniseries premiered on May 31, 2019 and has received rave reviews on Rotten Tomatoes owing to Sheen and Tennant’s “very nearly holy (or maybe unholy?) chemistry.” Despite a petition – erroneously addressed to Netflix at that – to cancel the series, the production has received a slew of nominations in the Saturn Awards and the Primetime Emmys.

Jack Ryan based on the Jack Ryan Novels by Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan character has had quite a good run in cinemas with winning portrayals from some of Hollywood’s top actors: from Alec Baldwin in Hunt for Red October, Harrison Ford in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, Ben Affleck in The Sum of All Fears, and Chris Pine in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

John Krasinski now portrays Jack Ryan in the Amazon series as a former Marine and financial analyst wrenched from the security of his desk job after discovering a string of dubious bank transfers and sets about matching his wits against rising a extremist named Suleiman. The series premiered on August 31, 2018 and has already been renewed for its second and third seasons.

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick’s novel The Man in the High Castle depicts an alternate reality wherein the Axis powers win World War II. Here, the United States was divided among Japan and Germany as the spoils of war: the Greater Nazi Reich in the East and the Japanese Pacific States to the West. Set in 1962, several years after the war, characters are tantalized by the writings of “the man in the high castle,” which hint at the truth that the Axis actually lost the war.

The series incorporates fantastical elements such as having “multiple Earths,” as can be seen in films collected by the titular “man in the high castle,” a mysterious leader of the resistance. The show’s pilot has been said to be “Amazon’s most watched” and has gained praise on Rotten Tomatoes as “unlike anything else on TV, with an immediately engrossing plot driven by fully developed characters in a fully-realized post-WWII dystopia.” The series premiered on November 20, 2015 with three seasons already released. It has also already been renewed for its fourth and final season.

Really, it’s a great time to be alive for book lovers who want to see their favorite tomes come alive on-screen.

What book do you want to see adapted to a series? Let me know in the comments.

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Pride Lit comes out as the first LGBTQ+ “Pop Lit” Imprint in the Philippines

As the first Filipino pop literature imprint focused on championing LGBTQ+ narratives, Pride Lit stands proud as a great source of entertainment and inspiration to readers of all kinds.

But more than teaching us the value of appreciation and acceptance, the brand has been very consistent in creating a safe space for underrepresented voices to flourish and share their stories, whether it’s about finding love in many forms and shapes or discovering one’s sexual awakening with fleeting moments of kilig.

Pride Lit Launch

Now celebrating its third year in the publishing industry, Pride Lit is taking a huge leap by releasing five unique titles from its roster of seasoned and respected writers and contributors. From Alex Rosas’ gender-swap romance Gay’s Anatomy to Soju’s campy fantasy Ang Asul Na Buntot Ni Aquano, the new releases represent diverse genres that speak of uniquely queer experiences and imaginative premises. Other upcoming titles that will be released this month include John Jack G. Wigley’s ensemble drama Kadenang Bahaghari, Lush Ericson’s instant pleaser Agustin and Ariston’s Version of the Universe, and Angelica Sorreda’s romantic offering Over Time.

Pride Lit Launch

Pride Lit Launch

 “Each book actually talks about different emotions, experiences and were written differently,” Pride Lit Brand Manager Aiko Clarizza Buduan-Salazar points out. “The upcoming new titles will open readers’ minds on the fresh possibilities of storytelling.” True to its vision, Pride Lit steps up its game by ensuring LGBTQ+ characters and its allies could be prominent figures in pop culture narratives, and serve as inspiration to the LGBTQ+ community whose vibrant lives are worth telling, and are now everyone’s stories. “We plan to release more books and become a staple in the community,” Salazar said. “Aside from providing feel good stories and erotic stories too, we plan to become more reachable to our target market and community.”

Details and images provided by Pride Lit in a recent press release.

Thanks to Jowell of FlingerosPH.com for attending the launch event on my behalf!

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen: A rediscovery of sisterhood and magic

Two sisters grappling about their magical heritage, seeking acceptance from the other inhabitants of their small town. After years apart, they reunite, discover and appreciate their true selves while coming to terms with their past and win true love in the process.

In Sarah Addison Allen’s debut novel Garden Spells, magical realism, heartwarming romance and small-town sensibility combine to bring to life the warm and engaging story of sisters Claire and Sidney Waverly. Brought back to their ancestral house in Bascom, North Carolina by their mother after a life on the road, they grew up feeling isolated from their neighbors.

Claire, the older and “plainer” sister, took comfort in her magical talent with plants and cooking and builds a successful career as a caterer.

  • Sidney, on the other hand was seemingly blessed with beauty but without magical talent. She ran away and lived a life on the road until she returns with her daughter trying to escape an abusive relationship.
  • Together with their elderly cousin, Evanelle, their love interests, their supportive neighbors, their town rivals, and with the help of the enchanted apple tree that their family has been tending for centuries, the sisters discover their innate powers and their place in their small town.

    The book’s style and structure bear similarities to other works in women’s literature that feature magical realism. With Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, it shares the plot element of two very different sisters reuniting and finding love in their small town after years apart. Like Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, on the other hand, it features the effects of food on people susceptible to magical ingredients.

    I picked up this book during a booksale two years ago and only found time to read it when I brought it with me on a trip. I find the book’s humor and homey feel very endearing, and its lesson on self-acceptance quite relevant. This book is a great for a bit of light and easy reading.

    I look forward to reading Addison’s recently released sequel titled First Frost set a few years after Garden Spells. In this novel, the Waverly girls have grown into their magical abilities while facing their daily struggles. One day, an unexpected stranger appears in their little town with a sinister intent.

    Other works by Sarah Addison Allen include:

    Lost Lake. Sometimes you find the things you’ve lost in the most unexpected places. But sometimes you find them exactly where you left them. Welcome to magical Lost Lake, Georgia.

    The Girl Who Chased the Moon. Emily Benedict is about to find out if wallpaper can change pattern on its own, if a cake can bring back a lost love, and if there really is a ghost dancing in her back yard.

    The Sugar Queen. Imagine a world where the color red has startling powers and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. Welcome to snowy Bald Slope, North Carolina. There’s magic behind every closet door.

    The Peach Keeper. Welcome to Walls of Water, North Carolina, where the secrets are thicker than the fog from the town’s famous waterfalls, and the stuff of superstition is just as real as you want it to be.

    Waking Kate. Over a cup of butter coffee, Kate’s neighbor tells her a story of love and heartbreak that makes her remember her past, question her present, and wonder what the future will bring.

    The Firefly Dance. Addison anchors this anthology with her funny novella about Louise, a North Carolina girl whose keen observations of the lives around her weaves an unforgettable spell with just a hint of everyday magic.

    For more details or to buy any of these books on Amazon.com, simply click on the titles or the cover images.

    Book details taken from Sarah Addison Allen’s website and Amazon.com.

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    Francine Rivers’ Lineage of Grace: five novellas of women-centered Biblical stories

    The Bible is littered with the stories of men: pioneering patriarchs, brave warriors, noble kings, visionary prophets and more. These characters, with their virtues and flaws, have shaped Biblical history and provided anchors for the Christian faith.

    But what about the women?

    Most women in the Bible play supporting roles in the Bible narratives – as the wife, mother or sister of great men, the source of support or the catalyst for great acts.

    In Lineage of Grace: Five Stories of Unlikely Women Who Changed Eternity by Francine Rivers, however, Biblical women took active roles in shaping their destinies. In doing so, they also helped mold the story of God and His people.

    The book consists of five novellas which narrates the life and struggles of five women in the Bible.

    These are:

    Tamar, a woman of hope, who married into Judah’s family and was left a childless widow by two of his sons. She secures her future and place in his family through underhanded but ultimately justifiable means.

    Rahab, a woman of faith, who was forced into harlotry and espionage but saw her opportunity to turn her life around when Israelite spies sought refuge in her inn in Jericho.

    Ruth, a woman of love, who, though a Moabite woman, bravely accompanied her widowed mother-in-law Naomi back to Israel to forge a new life for themselves.

    Bathsheba, a woman who received unlimited grace, who had to contend with the consequences of spending a night in King David’s bed, managed to secure not just her legacy but the future of the kingdom.

    Mary, a woman of obedience, who, despite her youth and uncertainty, accepted the enormous task set upon her by God and thus, secured the salvation of mankind.

    The stories of these women are familiar, but are told in new perspectives and with fresh insights. Despite acting with or espousing Old World values, their characters and situations are still relatable.

    My favorite among the stories is that of Tamar. The biblical story is not that well-known and the two lead characters – Tamar and Judah – are not held in a good light based on the biblical narrative. However, by providing context to their thoughts and action – Tamar’s need to belong and Judah’s guilt over his betrayal of his brother Joseph – the characters are made sympathetic, redeemable and worth rooting for.

    Francine Rivers, the author of Lineage of Grace, is a renowned author of Christian Fiction. Her other works include:

    Redeeming Love. A retelling of the love story between the prostitute Gomer and the prophet Hosea set amidst the California Gold Rush.

    Sons of Encouragement. The stories of the lesser-known men behind the celebrated heroes of the Bible who served as guides and support, and quietly helped to shape the faith.

    The Mark of the Lion. A trilogy set in ancient Rome that explores the travails of Hadassah, a young Christian slave girl, and Marcus, the Roman aristocrat who falls in love with her.

    For more details or to buy any of these books on Amazon.com, simply click on the titles or the cover images.

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    Photo credit: Sidny Ritters on Unsplash

    Romance Novel Review: Loving the Marquess by Suzanna Medeiros

    One of my guilty pleasures is reading romance novels, those set in the Regency era in particular.

    Regency romances are situated in the period of the British Regency, in which King George III was deem unfit to rule and his son, who would later accede the throne as King George IV, ruled as Prince Regent.

    Strict observances of manners and propriety, concerns about social classes, inherited estates and noble titles, and, sometimes, even social commentary serve as the backdrop for passionate love stories between plucky heroines and aloof heroes.

    One such story is Loving the Marquess by Suzanna Medeiros, the first novel of her Landing a Lord series.

    Burdened by her family’s reduced circumstances, Louisa Evans sought the help of Nicholas, the Marquess of Overlea, the head of the family that ruined hers. Worried that he may be suffering from an inherited illness that put the marquisate’s future in jeopardy, he proposed marriage to Louisa but intends to have another man father children by her to prevent the passing down of the mysterious disease. His plans were complicated by his growing feelings for her and outside threats that endanger their safety.

    This book proved to be enjoyable read, with a fast-paced plot and engaging characters, albeit with a few typos and grammatical errors. Actually, I finished it overnight. 🙂

    Louisa is a believable and relatable heroine, a practical woman given to taking care of others: her siblings in the wake of their father’s death and their family’s fall to penury, and Overlea after his ailment caused him to collapse near the Evans home. Her change from an impoverished gentry girl to an elegant marchioness is something I as a reader rooted for.

    Overlea, on the other hand, is a bit problematic for me. While the readers are told that he grew up as the spare to the heir and never expected to take the marquisate, his transformation from a laid-back young man prior to the deaths of his father and brother, to a responsible and compassionate landlord to his tenants was not given enough substance. Also, his reasons for his hare-brained idea to have another man father his heir, and his planned methods to bring this about were half-baked.

    Secondary characters that I would love to read more about in later additions to the series include Louisa’s siblings Catherine and John, and Overlea’s best friend, the Earl of Kerrick.

    Loving the Marquess is a good and easy book to read while relaxing on a weekend. The editing could be improved a bit, though.

    The Landing a Lord series is preceded by the novella Dancing with the Duke, in which Charlotte Grant sets out to capture the heart of her childhood crush and her best friend’s brother, the Duke of Clarington in her one and only London season. The Marquess of Overlea and the Earl of Kerrick made appearances in this story as Clarington’s friends.

    In second book in the series, Beguiling the Earl, Catherine Evans, whom we first met in Loving the Marquess, adjusts to the change in her circumstances after her sister’s marriage to Overlea. She has carried a tendre for the Earl of Kerrick ever since she met him and has harbored a wish to capture his heart during her London season. However, he is duty-bound to give his attentions to another woman.

    In the third book in the series, The Unaffected Earl, Rose Hardwicke fell from being the darling of the ton to being a social pariah due to a family scandal. She sought the help of Earl of Brantford to prove her father innocent of treason but she may have trouble breaking through his icy exterior.

    For more details or to buy any of these books on Amazon.com, simply click on the titles or the cover images.

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    How moms can nurture a love for reading among kids

    With all content available in a myriad of forms and platforms, sometimes we parents wonder how we can instill a love of reading among our kids.

    Wishing to do so is not being out of touch with the times. Studies have shown that avid readers have certain advantages over their peers. Since reading is a more complex activity than watching video content on television or other gadgets, it helps to exercise their brains, improving concentration and imagination, as well as their vocabulary and language skills. A well-read child may have a better and more expansive understanding of the world around him and may be able to develop empathy for others.

    MomSchool 3.0, Mommy Mundo

    In a recent Mommy Mundo #MomSchool learning session “Raising Readers and Writers in the Digital Age,” mom and Keys School literacy coordinator Monica Lopez Javier shared some insights and tips on how parents can help foster a love of reading among their kids.

    MomSchool, Mommy Mundo

    For Teacher Monica, talking to your kids starting from early childhood is very important.

    “Talk is the foundation of learning,” she shares. “Through language, meaning is built.”

    She encourages parents to develop oral language at home, to facilitate kids in communicating and interacting with them. Kids should learn how to tell stories to learn how to put the things and situations around them in perspective or context.

    Some tips she shared include:

    • Respect their think time. Younger children take time respond to your conversation prompts. Allow them the time to process the conversation and respond to you.
    • Establish rituals of conversation. Make time when you’re available to converse with your kids. Set up long talks with the kids when you can communicate with them at length.
    • Talk about complex topics. As kids grow older, allow them to process more complex ideas as they communicate with you. When letting them talk about their day, ask them what they learned or what they plan to do.
    • Don’t shy away from trouble stories. Don’t raise your kids in a bubble. For example, tell them about the bad day you’re having and how you cope with it. They will be able to express to you their similar emotions as well as model their response to challenging situations after yours.
    • Teach them to listen. Kids should be encouraged to respond thoughtfully. Help them understand that when they listen, even to opposing views, their ideas can grow.
    • Support their language development through reading. Kids’ vocabularies are better developed by reading. It also through reading that they encounter fresh concepts and ideas. Parents are encouraged to read aloud to younger kids so that children will develop a love for words and imagination that reading affords. For older children, parents are urged to discuss the books that the kids read; this will help them process what they learn from books and develop critical thinking.

    Parents may be worried that buying more and more books may be a strain on the budget. Teacher Monica advises looking for libraries in your area where you or your kids can borrow books.

    Growing up as a child of a reader, and becoming an avid reader myself, I can attest to the hours of enjoyment and the fun of discovery that I experienced since childhood. Being a reader has also informed my writing and my current work in marketing and in blogging.

    Novotel Manila Araneta Center

    MomSchool 3.0, Mommy Mundo

    I’m proud that I have helped to instill the same love for reading in my daughter.

    MomSchool, Mommy Mundo

    MomSchool, Mommy Mundo

    This #MomSchool learning session held at the Ayala The 30th Activity Center was organized by Mommy Mundo, a community of moms dedicated to making motherhood easier, happier and more fulfilling for every mom through various avenues and activities.

    Want to be on your way to developing future avid readers? Below is a list of the books that Teacher Monica recommends for reading aloud to kids.

    Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

    My World by Margaret Wise Brown

    The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

    The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola

    Tom by Tomie dePaola

    Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

    The Cloud Book by Tomie dePaola

    A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

    Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells

    Freight Train by Donald Crews

    Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

    Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant

    Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

    My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

    Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

    Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

    Stuart Little by E.B. White

    Matilda by Roald Dahl

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    Header photo by Kim Sergeev on Unsplash

    My own customized notebook: thanks to the IFEX Paper Bar

    For a paper addict like me, getting a notebook that just fits my purpose for it is like stumbling into a gold mine.

    In terms of aesthetics, I lean towards minimalism: I prefer plains instead of prints, or single color designs instead or multiples ones.

    Imagine my delight when I discovered that I can have notebooks made according to these specifications!

    Where is this possible you may ask?

    At your nearest IFEX Paper Bar!

    IFEX stands for International Fine Paper Exchange, a Filipino company which is primarily engaged in the marketing and distribution of specialty papers, premium paper for school and office supplies, as well as art materials.

    Its fine paper products came into play when I went to the Art Bar of the National Bookstore branch along Panay Avenue to have my customized notebooks made.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    IFEX Paper Bar

    I’ve just gotten a Starbucks travel organizer for this year and I’ve been worrying about what to do when I use up its notebook filler. I’ve been scouring bookstores looking appropriately sized notebooks but couldn’t find any.

    That is, until I realized I could just have them made!

    Getting your own customized notebooks at the Paper Bar is just so easy!

    Step 1: Choose a notebook size.

    Available sizes are: A4 (210 x 295 mm), A5 (148 x 210 mm) and A6 (105 x 148 mm).

    I chose the smallest size, A6, as this is the one that would best fit my travel organizer. I ordered two notebooks so that I have another spare.

    Step 2: Choose a notebook cover.

    IFEX has a wide range of card stocks of various colors that you can choose for your notebook cover.

    I opted for two shades green (one at Php12 and the other at Php15) as these go with the cover of my travel organizer.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    Step 3: Choose your inserts.

    Depending on your purpose for your notebook, you can choose from among the high-quality paper inserts that IFEX carries. These include plain, ruled, dotted, grid, black, calligraphic, sketching and watercolor.

    I prefer my notebooks to not have lines (so I can draw diagrams or doodle if need be) so I opted for plain (Php65) and dotted (Php85) inserts.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    Step 4: Choose your breakers (optional).

    If you will use a single notebook for multiple purposes, you can opt to insert breakers from the available cardstocks. This will help make your notebook more organized.

    Step 5: Choose your notebook spine.

    To bind your notebook, choose a spine that complements your notebook’s color scheme. The double-loop metallic spines available in black or silver make durable binders for your notebook.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    Step 6: Personalize it (optional)!

    Your name or any text can be hot-stamped to your notebook cover for Php60. Choose from gold, silver, green, blue or embossed letters in either serif or san serif fonts. You can also pick the font size: from 16mm (up to 8 characters), 9mm (up to 14 characters) and 5.5mm (up to 16 characters).

    I opted to have my blog URL embossed on my notebooks in gold letters, consistent with the color theme of my travel organizer.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    IFEX Paper Bar

    Total spent on the two notebooks is Php267 which amounts to Php133.50 for each of the A6-sized notebooks.

    Here’s an A5-sized notebook I had made months ago.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    For my next notebook orders, I might combine dotted, ruled and plain inserts with cardstock breaks in one thick book which can serve as a planner, sketchpad and notebook all in one.

    A customized notebook from the IFEX Paper Bar is a great buy or even a wonderful gift for paper addicts like me! (I even gifted one to a friend for her birthday.)

    IFEX Paper Bars are located inside National Bookstore branches in SM Megamall, Glorietta 1, Shangri-La Plaza Mall and in the Art Bar inside the National Bookstore branch along Panay Avenue in Quezon City.

    For more details about IFEX, visit its website at www.ifex.com.ph.

    Complete Seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale to premiere in PH on HBO Go on September 15

    In the Republic of Gilead, fertile women are conscripted to serve the new goverment’s high-ranking officials by bearing children for the infertile wives.  Called handmaids, they are identified by their red clothing, their slave names taken after the names of the commanders they are assigned to, and every month, the gruesome task of lying in between their commanders and their respective wives, hoping to get pregnant and thereby prove their worth to this new society.  Such is the world in The Handmaid’s Tale, a TV series based on Margaret Atwood’s award-winning dystopian novel.

    The Handmaid's Tale S2

    The Handmaid's Tale S1

    The Handmaid's Tale S2

    Filipino fans of the book will be able to watch and download all episodes of the Emmy® and Golden Globe Award-winning hit drama series on HBO Go, HBO’s online streaming service exclusively available in the Philippines to SKYcable subscribers, starting September 15.

    Emmy® and Golden Globe Award-winning actress Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”, “Top of the Lake”), Joseph Fiennes (“American Horror Story: Asylum”, “Shakespeare in Love”), and Yvonne Strahovski (“Chuck”, “Dexter”) headline the series’ all-star cast.  Emmy Award-winning actress Alexis Bledel (“Gilmore Girls”), Madeline Brewer (“Orange Is the New Black”), Amanda Brugel (“Workin’ Moms”), Emmy Award-winning actress Ann Dowd (“Compliance”, HBO’s “The Leftovers”), O-T Fagbenle (“The Five”), Max Minghella (“The Mindy Project”), and Samira Wiley (“Orange is the New Black”) also play supporting roles. THE HANDMAID’S TALE was created for television by Bruce Miller (“The 100”), who is also the showrunner. Season Two of the series was executive produced by Miller, Warren Littlefield (“Fargo”), Moss, Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears. The series is produced by MGM Television and internationally distributed by MGM.

    The series’ second season was recently nominated for 20 Emmy® Awards, a series record.  It now becomes part of HBO Asia’s programming slate of Emmy® award-winning and nominated titles – bringing the best of Hollywood to Asia.

    Series details and images provided by HBO in a recent press release.

    Disclosure: I work for SKY and part of my job is promoting its products and services, especially the content it provides to its subscribers. I consider being able to share my love for TV shows and movies and the experience of watching and talking about them with like-minded people some of the biggest perks of my job.

    Check out my other posts on HBO shows adapted from novels:

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    HBO Go not available in your area? Watch The Handmaid’s Tale on Amazon Prime.  Sign up for a free 7-day trial.

    You can also purchase the novel that the series is based on, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, at Amazon.com.

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    TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s “Good Omens” to be released in 2019

    The creatively twisted minds of two of Britain’s greatest modern fantasy writers produced Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (or more commonly known as just Good Omens). The fruit of a very successful collaboration between Neil Gaiman (“American Gods,” “The Graveyard Book,” and “Stardust“) and Sir Terry Prachett (“Discworld“) published in 1990, Good Omens is a quirky and entertaining novel that tells of the coming of the Apocalypse. The book is chock-full of humorous situations: from a witch’s super-accurate predictions of her execution, the birth and childhood of the AntiChrist in the English suburbs, the coming together of the Four Horsemen, and the mad antics of the legions of Heaven led by Aziraphale the Angel and Hell led by Crowley the Demon (both of whom happen to treat each other as friends) as they prepare for the endtimes.

    I first read the book in the late 90’s and I did think the story would translate well onscreen.

    A film adaptation was in fact planned in 2002 in which Robin Williams and Johnny Depp were set to star as Aziraphale and Crowley respectively but financing fell through.

    A radio dramatization was aired in BBC Radio 4 in 2015, wherein Gaiman and Pratchett had cameo appearances.

    Nearly two decades after first reading the book, I’m thrilled to find out that a TV adaptation is finally in the works, starring no less than Michael Sheen (“Underwold: Rise of the Lycans,” “Midnight in Paris“) as Aziraphale and David Tennant (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Broadchurch“) as Crowley.

    This TV series couldn’t have come at a better time, being the new Golden Age of Television, and judging from the recent success of the TV series based on another Neil Gaiman novel, American Gods.

    The 6-episode series will be released on Amazon Prime in 2019, followed by a conventional broadcast on BBC Two.

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    Take a sneak peek into the beginnings of your favorite influencers with LikeToKnow.It

    Ever wondered how your favorite IG mavens got their start? The print offshoot of the app-based shopping service that makes the Instagram pics of many Instagram influencers instantly shoppable, LikeToKnow.it: Stories from the Influencer Next Door, delves into how these IG stars got their start.

    Photo by Daria Litvinova on Unsplash

    Collated and curated by editors of LikeToKnow.it, the stories contain interesting narratives of how these influencers were able to turn their passions – which range from fashion, beauty, food, interior design and homemaking – into thriving online businesses. Common themes among their stories that their fans can learn from are:

    Passion for their area of interest.  These enterprising folks are tuned in to their passion, building expertise and credibility in their respective fields, and are motivated to share their favorites to the world.

    Support from family and friends.  Building an online presence, especially on one’s own, is never easy, but with help and encouragement from their loved ones, they were able to pursue their dreams.

    Great financial and personal rewards.  Having built their following and established their expertise, they are able to enjoy financial freedom.  Some are earning enough to support their families that their spouses quit their jobs to help them with their online business.  Others share their feeling of gratification at being paid to do what they love while spending more time with loved ones.

    Photo by Igot Miske on Unsplash

    Featured influencers include fashion mavens Molly Sims (@mollybsims) and Courtney Kerr (@KERRently), lifestyle gurus Liz Joy (@purejoyhome) and Kelly Larkin (@kellyinthecity), food and nutrition bloggers July Bauer Roth (@paleomg) and Tori Wesszer (@fraichenutrition), among others.

    Photo by Chikeun Park on Unsplash

    The stories, accompanied by gorgeous shots of influencers doing and sharing what they love best, will give readers a tantalizing inspiration to get started on bringing their own dreams to life. Note, though, these Q&A-type narratives are by no means comprehensive and do skip most of the early struggles and sacrifices that most businesses go through.

    LikeToKnow.it: Stories from the Influencer Next Door, published by Greenleaf Book Group, will be released on September 18, 2018 and is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com!

    Thanks to NetGalley and Greenleaf Book Group for the advanced reader copy.

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    Photo Credits: Ewan Robertson, Daria Litvinova, Igor Miske and Chikeun Park on Unsplash

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