Tag Archives: Nature

Review & Giveaway: Heart of the Oak by J.L. Novinsky

HEART OF THE OAK
by
J.L. NOVINSKY
Genre: Children’s / Nature / Life Cycle
Publisher: Christian Faith Publishing
Publication Date: November 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 36 pagesSCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

Heart of the Oak is a sweet story of the life of an old oak tree.  

He’s old and weathered; his skin is rough and knotty.  But he has memories of joy, of love, and of tragedy.  He has endured many years and felt the sorrow of so much loss.  But his greatest joy is just ahead!  

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Praise for HEART OF THE OAK from Amazon reviewers!

“Such a great book with a heartfelt story!”


“My children and I LOVE this book. We had a wonderful and insightful conversation after we read it.”

review

Contrary to popular advice, I tend to judge a book by its cover. And if I had done that with Heart of Oak, I would have assumed that this book was a cutesy children’s story about a tree. But there is so much more to this book than cute illustrations and a beautiful tree.

This book not only explains the life cycle of a tree in an artistic way, but it also explores the way that a tree impacts the lives – human and animal alike – of others and how they affect the tree as well. There are two stories of young being brought up beneath the safety of the majestic oak, one ending with a farewell and another beginning a touching reunion. The tree is anthropomorphized as it experiences feelings of happiness and loneliness, and as age and nature take its toll. It makes me wonder if the tree is meant to represent humans in general, or a particular person.

The reason that I wonder who the tree is meant to represent is because another children’s book, The Giving Tree, tells the story of a tree whose unconditional love for a boy represents the selfless and giving love of a mother. What I like about Heart of Oak is that it doesn’t portray the animals and humans that spend time with the tree as heartless leeches. While the tree will gladly accommodate anyone who wants to live or play with it, it doesn’t harm itself to make others happy. In one particular scene, the tree does everything within its power to preserve itself. I like that because I’m a big believer in making yourself happy before you can make other people happy.

Perhaps because such deep feelings and themes are involved, the author used more advanced vocabulary. There is no age recommendation for this book, but my 6-year-old’s eyes glazed over by page two. I was hoping that the illustrations alone would hold his interest, but I guess my little boy is too addicted to bright colors and zany characters to appreciate the dreamy, watercolor-like imagery. I personally enjoyed the mix of soft lines, reminiscent of my own childhood picture books, and the strong lines that make the characters look a lot like manga.

I recommend this book for children ages 8 and up. I think that it would be an excellent addition to any family’s picture book collection.

J.L. (Joan) Novinsky was born just outside of Chicago, but she got to Texas as fast as she could! Joan started college at age 55, and while taking a Creative Writing class, she wrote her first story, Heart of the Oak. Joan has now written a second children’s book, Horace and Giselle, available for on-line purchase January 2019. She was married to Bob in 1992, had a son, Stephen, in 1998, then in 2001, she and her husband took on the challenge and excitement of adopting a boy from St. Petersburg, Russia. Andrei joined the family in 2002, and the family resides just north of Dallas with their various and numerous pets.
 
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Review & Giveaway: Leave Tomorrow by Dirk Weisiger

 
LEAVE TOMORROW:
My Ride to the 
Bottom of the World
by
Dirk Weisiger
  
Genre: Memoir / Travel / Inspiration
Date of Publication: October 27, 2017
Number of Pages: 232

Scroll down for the giveaway!

After building a successful business, Dirk Weisiger was ready for something new. But he wasn’t sure what. Maybe a motorcycle adventure, I’ve never done that! 
What followed was a fourteen-month, solo motorcycle journey from Austin, Texas to Ushuaia, Argentina, filled with unexpected adventures, surprises, and lessons about life and travel.  

In this book, you’ll not only enjoy Dirk’s adventure and insights, but find inspiration for your own journey.
(A portion of proceeds from this book help sponsor children at the Colegio Bautista El Calvario private school in Managua, Nicaragua.) 

PRAISE FOR LEAVE TOMORROW:
I may not ride a motorcycle to the bottom of the world, but my soul comes alive when I hear about people smashing fear and following their dreams. This book will truly inspire you.
–Abigail Irene Fisher, traveler and speaker

Leave Tomorrow is a fun, engaging, and thought-provoking read. If you are looking for a blend of humanity, culture, scary moments with a medicine man, military police, attempts at extortion, and unexpected challenges–along with insightful observations and humor, this book will definitely spark your imagination to “live your own movie.”  
–Steve Scott, business coach and author of Wings to Fly

This inspiring and entertaining book is just the tonic needed to get you up out of your chair and ready to “Leave Tomorrow.”
–Julie Mundy, Guidebook Author and Travel Blogger, Australia

For everyone thinking of a new adventure, a new life, or even a new venture: DO IT.
–Jim Rogers, bestselling author of Investment Biker and Street Smarts 
This is not the first book I’ve read on riding to Ushuaia, but it is probably the most enjoyable. Dirk writes about his experiences in an upbeat manner, taking each experience and each day in perspective.
–Muriel Farrington, Ambassador, BMW Motorcycles of America


>>CLICK TO PURCHASE<<
A portion of proceeds from this book help sponsor children at the Colegio Bautista El Calvario private school in Managua, Nicaragua.) 
300b2-review
I’m not too proud to admit that I sort of begged to review this book. My husband owns the DVD boxset of The Long Round and The Long Way Down, and I was hooked right away. When I saw that Weisiger’s book was of a similar nature, I had to get my hands on it. I was ecstatic to see that he covered a different part of the world and completed the journey ALL BY HIMSELF! No camera crews to back him up if something went wrong or a translator was needed. And as I set the book down and got my notebook ready to take notes, my husband glanced at the cover and said, “Hey, I want to read that when you’re done with it.” I’m an avid reader and that is probably the second time he’s ever said that to me during our nearly 10 years of marriage!
What really stood out to me is the odd formatting of the book. Because the sections are quite short, I guessed that the blog posts he wrote during the journey were used for this book. Upon investigating his website, I noticed that there weren’t many blog posts, and that these travels were not among them. So if my hunch is correct, he probably took the posts down.  No shame in the game. Plus, in case you missed the text below the CLICK TO PURCHASE link, a portion of the proceeds benefits the children at the Colegio Bautista El Calvario private school in Nicaragua. When I got to the part of Weisiger’s journey where he wanted to do something for those kids, I honestly smiled knowing that this book will do even more great things for people that Weisiger has met along the way.
The short sections work though because the story flows nicely. And even when he says something aside or pauses the story for a quick tip, it’s relevant to what is happening and doesn’t really take you out of the story. I really enjoy the variety of those tips because they are a tasting of what this book is: part memoir, part travel guide, part inspirational book. I don’t know where you are in your life right now, but this book was exactly what I needed.
Sometimes when life gets you down, belief in a higher power is the only thing that will lift you up. So I loved the imagery of his recollection of struggling to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. How he wanted to give up on ever reaching the top, but knew that if he would just step right where his guide had step, then he would eventually get there. He uses that as a metaphor for his faith in God, but as he later says, “This book isn’t a Sunday School lesson, but might be a Monday-school lesson in pursuing your dreams” (p. 9). I loved that!
Weisiger doesn’t talk much about his artistic side, but he has a great eye for composition. I wish that the photographs in the book were color, but I guess this will encourage people to visit his website. (Toggling back to his page now…) Where you can actually buy prints. Well, there you go. Looks like he knows his photos are pretty darn good! I hope to one day take Weisiger’s advice and just plan that trip and go.
Something that might be slightly uncomfortable but I feel I had to mention: Weisiger’s compassion for the plight of illegal immigrants vs his intention to vote Trump (this was before the election, obviously). It really underlined for me how multifaceted politics and people’s political leanings can be. And it made me even prouder to live in a country where we can vote more than one way. That our only choices aren’t socialist or dictator, like many of the countries Weisiger visited.
This book also pointed out to me that these “scary” countries are 95% people just trying to provide for their families and the other 5% is what makes national news. If it bleeds, it leads is the saying, right? Also, this isn’t the first time that I’ve heard of people from other countries telling the U.S. traveler to spread the word that U.S. citizens are welcome in their countries. And lastly, a great nugget of wisdom: while learning the language isn’t necessary, it is much appreciated.
I really learned a lot about people and culture reading this book. I think that those who tend to only read blogs or short articles will be able to digest this very well. I am confidently passing this book on to my husband with the knowledge that he, too, will come away with something new as well. I look forward to talking to him about it. Leave me a comment once you read it too.

Dirk Weisiger is a travel trekker, trick roper, and storyteller. He’s the author of the new book, Leave Tomorrow: My Ride to the Bottom of the World. Dirk has always enjoyed speaking to groups, spinning tales, ropes, and offering lessons he’s learned in adventures of life and business. He’s traveled to five continents and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Most of all Dirk loves people and believes that making new friends is the best part of travel.
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