Friday, January 26, 2018

Ronaldo, the Reindeer Flying Academy by Maxine Sylvester – Book Review

Ronaldo, the Reindeer Flying Academy by Maxine Sylvester is a fast-paced, enjoyable, and humourous children's novella that parents will love reading to their children over and over.

Comprising only nine chapters, the story is about Ronaldo, a young reindeer who dreams of joining Santa's North Pole Reindeer Team like his idol Vixen Pedersen. At the Reindeer Academy, we meet Ronaldo's friend Rudy, and his cousin Cupid.

The best and most notable thing about Ronaldo, the Reindeer Flying Academy is a phrase instilled into Ronaldo by his grandfather, and that gives him the strength and courage to overcome his obstacles. I would personally love to remind myself with the "You can do anything, if you truly believe in yourself" quote.

The book is highly motivational with a lot of embedded lessons that are beneficial for children, like listening to their parents and brushing their teeth. Children will also relate to Ronaldo.

I felt the names were a bit confusing since Vixen is a male and Cupid is a female but that could just be me.

Every page and chapter in Ronaldo, the Reindeer Flying Academy features a coloured picture of one or more of the characters, helping readers, especially children, visualise the story.

"Don't just think it. IMAGINE! See it, feel it, believe it. You can do anything, if you truly believe in yourself."

The book is a great winter and holiday read. Or you can read it in summer for a cold breeze ;) 

Overall Ronaldo, the Reindeer Flying Academy is a humour-filled must-read. You and your children won't be able to put it down.

Overall rating: 5 stars

Note: I received a free copy of Ronaldo, the Reindeer Flying Academy from its author Maxine Sylvester in exchange for an honest review.

Connect with Maxine Sylvester via FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

About the Author:
Maxine Sylvester was born in London, England. She grew up with a passion for Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear. She also loved anything Disney and enjoyed drawing the characters.
Maxine's love of 'fun' art grew and she had the privilege of being mentored by cartoonist and caricaturist, Steve Chadburn. She completed further studies in children's book illustration with talented artist and illustrator, Jan Nesbitt."

Purchase Ronaldo, the Reindeer Flying Academy by Maxine Sylvester via Amazon (Book 1). You can also purchase Ronaldo: ThePhantom Carrot Snatcher (Book 2) and Ronaldo: Rudi's Birthday Extravaganza (Book 3). Each book is a standalone. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Takhayyal writing prompt 80: Artistic Magic

Welcome back Ladies and Gentlemen, Artists, Poets, Writers, Authors, Dreamers, Friends and Family; Welcome EVERYONE to Nadaness In Motion's bi-weekly picture-prompt writing challenge Takhayyal.

At first I wasn't sure about the image below but then I felt it was soooo artistic, it must be capable of inspiring people. The colours are simple - and few - but stunning.

I just had to use it.

Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a challenge for writers of all ages and genres; a place to spark creativity and explore new genres.
Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction; you name it and write it.

General rules:
·        No nudity, violence, and/or abuse.
·        Leave the link to your post in comments below OR post your piece as REPLY to this post
·        Your piece MUST be inspired in some way or other by the above picture
·        Multiple entries allowed
·        It is not required but it is a nice and encouraging gesture to comment on others' pieces.
·        Feel free to add your Twitter handle (@....) so I can tag you in my tweets!


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Guess Who'll be on a Judge on Your Laugh Line Book Awards!

Strap in! It’s going to be a hilarious ride!

I’ve got spectacular news to share!

I’ll be on the judging panel for Your Laugh Line’s upcoming award for the funniest book(s) every for 2017!

So what is this all about?

Starting on 1 February, Your Laugh Line begins its official search to find the funniest books written in 2017.  It’s like a quest for the Holy Grail (Monty Python or otherwise) but more important!

Our hope is that this book is so funny that it will end all war.

Okay.  Maybe not.

But we are looking for the best, hilarious books written last year. 

How does the contest work?

The contest has two components. One is a Reader’s Choice Award. Readers can log onto Your Laugh Line’s Voting section and enter the author and book of their choice. The author who receives the most reader votes will win $250 and an assortment of promotional help from Your Laugh Line.

The other component is an adjudicated contest for books submitted by authors and/or their publishers. The form is available at The cost to enter the competition is $20 per book. Those books will be judged by a panel of expert book reviewers. The winning author will receive $500, plus an assortment of promotional help from Your Laugh Line.

Authors can enter the competition between 1 February and 30 April.  Reader’s Choice voting runs from 2 February to 15 August. Books making it past the first round will be announced on 1 July, second round list on 1 August, and the final winner on 1 September. Honorable mentions will be made for category-specific books.

Author or reader – come and help us find last year’s funniest book! 

About Your Laugh Line

Your Laugh Line was created to help funny authors find an audience who appreciates funny books. Knowing the power of laughter to help alleviate stress, to provide the necessary mental distraction to give the brain a break, and to make people feel silly, Your Laugh Line is committed to making the world a better place through humorous books.
Find them via their official website and Twitter.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Winter's Perfect Remedy – Poem by Nada Adel Sobhi

The scent of hot
Vanilla-flavoured coffee
Enters my nostrils
Fills my mind
Awakening my sleepy senses

Reminds me
Of freshly-baked cakes,
Mouth-watering delights:
Chocolate, caramel, strawberries

Yes winter is coming
And I yearn for the sweet warmth
Of my mint hot chocolate,
Caramel cappuccino
And strawberries
Dipped in chocolate sauce

I take the cup to my lips
It's warm; energising,
Smooth and kind,
A balm
To my early-stage migraine

I breathe the scent, the flavour
Over and over
It eases my throbbing brain,
Wraps me in a cocoon of warmth
And holds me tight

I gaze up at the stars
And call it a night

By: Nada Adel Sobhi

Note: This poem was writing on Friday, 27 October 2017 – a little before winter fully materialised.

One reader told me: "I've never read a more satisfying poem in my entire life!"

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Light and The Artist – Mircopoetry

The light wavers from beyond
The artist
a silhouette against the light
builds the setting
of words and worlds to come

This piece was inspired by the above picture from Realistic Poetry International. A spur of the moment inspiration. 

As always comments are appreciated. If you get inspired by the same image, feel free to post it below or Tweet it to Realistic Poetry.

Written Saturday, 13 January 2018 at 23:00

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Takhayyal writing prompt 79: Welcome to Life

Welcome New Year 2018!

And welcome back Ladies and Gentlemen, Artists, Poets, Writers, Authors, Dreamers, Friends and Family; Welcome EVERYONE to Nadaness In Motion's picture-prompt writing challenge Takhayya/Imagine.

The New Year is here and somehow this picture spoke to me of New Year when I first saw it!

Are you ready for the first writing prompt of 2018?


This image was coloured by Batool M. Montasser via the Recolor app

Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a challenge for writers of all ages and genres; a place to spark creativity and explore new genres.
Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction; you name it and write it.

General rules:
·        No nudity, violence, and/or abuse.
·        Leave the link to your post in comments below OR post your piece as REPLY to this post
·        Your piece MUST be inspired in some way or other by the above picture
·        Multiple entries allowed
·        It is not required but it is a nice and encouraging gesture to comment on others' pieces.
·        Feel free to add your Twitter handle (@....) so I can tag you in my tweets!


Saturday, January 6, 2018

2017 Achievements and 2018 Resolutions

It is important to highlight one's accomplishments, no matter how small. They could be small or minor for one person but significant for another, especially when they're unplanned; it was not a target you set, so you've made a bigger accomplishment by achieving an unset, unscheduled goal.

For 2018, I've decided to set resolutions or what I hope will be achievable goals for me.

I didn't do any resolutions for 2017 but just figured they would be an extension of my uncompleted 2016 goals.

This time, I'm planning something different. In 2018, I'm planning to focus on something – or rather someone – I've neglected for too long. Me.

Some might think it's selfish, but if you don't work on developing yourself, enhancing your skills, and doing what you want and love, who will?

The answer: No one.

While I hadn't set "solid goals" for 2017, I was able to achieve new things. Things that came out of the blue for me.

Here are my achievements:

1)  I'm very proud of my first vlog entry and interview. I attended a local startup-focused event called the RiseUp Summit and there I interviewed the co-founder of book recommendation startup SipOf.Ink (that's how they write it).
You can read the full post here.
2)   I also conducted several other interviews during the event and published them as exclusive stories. From UAE-based online fashion boutique The Luxury Closet to the Middle East's number 1 children's edutainment app Lamsa.
The experience was great and I look forward to repeating my reporting, writing, and networking experience.
3)    I did NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I wrote 53,000 words in less than 30 days! Find out how I did it when I had failed with smaller targets before. (Hint: You must really want it!)

4)    I completed my Goodreads reading challenge.
5)    I started Darya's story. This particular tale has been in my head for a year. In 2017, I began putting the words on paper. I don't know how far I am, but I've been able to write down several chapters. I've gone from Zero words to around 30,000 words!
6)    I've started writing about different topics. My most recent article, although based on personal experience, is an example:
What is the most "demotivational" quote ever? And how do you overcomeit?

Enough with the achievements – which I'm very proud of no matter how small – and off to the goals for 2018.

·        Focusing on my writing
Over the past years, I've been focusing on reading. Now, it's time to focus on me and my writing. Which brings me to my sub-points here:

o   Finishing Darya's story (draft 1)
o   Writing DeeDee's story (book 2 – draft 1)
o   Editing DeeDee's mystery/story (book 1 – draft 2)

·        Reading one self-help book per month
This could be self-help in writing, marketing, personal development, or any field. I am currently reading The Writer's Lexicon by Kathy Steinmann, whose review I'm planning for January. (I'll be posting reviews for each of those books I read.) I already bought several writing-help books but there are 12 months to go.

·        Personal development

I've already started working on this in late 2017 by downloading some courses via Udemy. Some are work-related, some are about things that have piqued my interest. But all mean that I will have at least one new piece of information added. Something that I can use. And that is the essence of self-development.

·        Finding a balance between writing and working out

One of the hardest things I've encountered in 2017 was striking a balance between my story-writing and the gym. The day is 24 hours long. So, if I work for say 9 hours, plus 2 hours of commuting, that's 11 hours, leaving me 13 hours in the day. If I sleep for 8, and work out for 2, then I will have 3 more hours to eat and drink and read or write or both. The theory stands but the application fails. Every. Single. Time!

So in 2018, I'll be trying out different tactics to find a balance where I can write and work out. Separate days, better planning. I'll keep testing and let you know how it pans out and whether or not I succeed in achieving my abovementioned writing goals.

·        Reducing my reading challenge
Every year I've tried to increase the number of books I read. This year, I'm shrinking that number to make room of Me, my reading and writing needs, and other courses.
For the past 2 or 3 years, I've set a goal for 36 books that's 3 books per month. This year my goal is 20 to 24 books, that's around 2 books per month.

·        Reducing the number of review requests I accept.
My apologies to authors, but I believe many will understand the need to develop one's writing and personal skills. I will still be doing author features and more on the blog, which brings me to my next point.

·        Launching StoryTeller Tours
I've been slacking significantly in launching a personal book-tour organising service. No more of that. I'm taking serious steps to launch this. Why? Because there are many authors who need to get out there. AND because the services need to be affordable.

·        Editing Services
I launched my page offering affordable book and article editing services (both grammar and developmental editing). As a book reviewer, I have been able to pick up on certain things that can help authors enhance their writing.

·        Writing new articles for the blog and guest blogging

One of the things I want to work on in 2018 is diversifying my writing fields. What does that mean? My main work is translation and editing of economic and stock market-related texts from Arabic into English. Sometimes, writing from scratch. I also wrote a bit in real estate but I want to enhance both my freelance writing and the fields I can write about. 

When I went to RiseUp, I was keen on writing about and interviewing officials from various startups so I can research them and write about them. 
I plan to do more of that in 2018 BUT I'm also looking for article suggestions of what people would like to see on my blog.
I have a few writing help articles I'm working on that I plan to publish here or see if I can guest post on other writing-related blogs. In addition, I'm open to suggestion of what readers would like to see me write about. Please leave your suggestions in the comments section before or get in touch with me via email. If you'd like me to guest post for you, please email me.

·        Repeating NaNoWriMo in November 2018
Not sure what book I'll be writing then but that's 11 months away, so we'll see.

What are you resolutions/goals for 2018? Let's help each other achieve our goals!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Nadaness In Motion's Top Books of 2017

I must say I've read a lot of amazing books in 2017, which means I've met a slew of wonderful authors along the way, whether I picked up their books myself, they requested reviews, or some other way.

Every day, I meet authors, especially via Twitter. The community there is beautiful and supportive.

But not to stray, every year I compile a list of the BEST books I've read in a year. The list for 2017 might be a little longer than the previous ones.

The books below are not arranged in any particular order whatsoever. (The numbering just helps me track what I'm writing)

1)  Magora by Marc Remus
This middle-grade children's books series by American-German artist and author Marc Remus has been the best series I've read in a long time. I haven't gobbled up books like this since I started and finished the Harry Potter ones. In 2017, I read FOUR Magora books! Two of which were published this year.

I couldn't put the series down. While the books are meant for children, they're wonderful to read, as adults.

All the books I've read in the series have received five-star reviews from me. Yes, they're that good. While I'd recommend you begin at the beginning, you can always start from book 2. However, starting with book 1 allows you to relate things to each other and gives you a kind of depth or rootedness to the novel.

By book 4, you'll be joining my ranks and begging Remus to speed up the publication of books 5 & 6.

You can also read my short article on the series titled 2017, the Year of Reading Magora.

2)  Lies She Told by Cate Holahan
This heart-clenching psychological thriller is intense! It boggled my brain and I loved it.
Intense! Is the first word that comes to mind while and after reading Lies She Told by Cate Holahan. The novel kept me on edge from start to finish.

"My emotions don't vacillate between happy and sad like a pianist alternating between major and minor scales. They're stuck in a discordant chord."

There are two parallel worlds in the novel, the first is Liza's, a struggling suspense author, while the second is that of the main character in her work-in-progress, Beth, who recently had her daughter Victoria and suspects her husband is cheating on her.

Half-way through the book I knew this was a five-star read. Finishing it, I confirmed my expectations

3)  The Steps by Iveta Redliha
Somehow reminiscent of Emily Bronte's writing style and settings, The Steps by Iveta Redliha is a stunning gothic but tragic novel.

The story centres around people who lived or were connected to a property called The Bradbury, from the greedy surrogate mother Leonora to Reyna, who discovers that her mother, who died of natural causes, somehow purchased The Bradbury mansion even though they just made ends meet, to the ever evasive and creepy-but-handsome Lucas.

"The empty window frames like dark forest lakes conveyed chilling secrets. It seemed as if the massive wooden doors were nailed shut in order to keep them from spilling too much information."

The book is available in English and Latvian.

4)  JoyfulTrouble by Patricia Furstenberg
Inspired by true events, Joyful Trouble is a historical fiction, children's novella that can be enjoyed by both adults and children, who will love it when their parents read it to them.

Fast-paced and with lots of humour, the story is about a Great Dane named Joyful Trouble, who befriends seamen on a naval base in South Africa and is later added to the base as a member.

"Doggies! I want to see the custard Danish!"
"Great Danes, Tommy. They are Great Dane."

5)  Hero (Book 1 in The Hero Rebellion trilogy) by Belinda Crawford
Those who know me or have approached me for reviews would probably know that I'm very picky when it comes to science fiction. A "handle with care" kind of genre for me. BUT, Belinda Crawford's Hero flushed all my sci-fi worries and fears down the toilet with amazing writing, a well-held story line, and realistic and fun characters.

The novel is set in the distant future, where earth is no longer habitable so people live several kilometres above the planet. The main character Hero has lived most of her life in her prison-like home because she's "special".

She has an adorable leopard-rat pet hybrid called Fink with whom she shares thoughts. Tech-savvy and constantly trying to escape her prison-like-home, Hero slowly realises that there is so much more to her being "special". I liked how Crawford's setting and how she was able to feed the reader bits of information about the characters.

6)  Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall
Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall is an encyclopedia of writing tips, tricks, and knowledge about the writing fight scenes regardless of the genre you have in mind. It's truly a gem and an excellent reference. The advice mentioned in the book is priceless.

"Success in a fight depends on three factors: Strength, Strategy, Skill. To win a fight, your protagonist needs at least one of them. Otherwise, a good outcome is implausible."

One of the things I truly enjoyed is Hall's "Blunders to Avoid" at the end of each chapter which as the name says are items to be avoided while writing and which act as a summary to the chapter.

7)  Magick & Mayhem by Sharon Pape
When Kailyn Wilde attempts to summon a familiar, a kind of animal guide believed to help witches with their magic, she instead discovers an old man in her basement who goes by the name of Merlin. To her and Tilly's surprise – and to the reader's – the great wizard himself was somehow thrust forward in from the Middle Ages to Kailyn's storeroom.

One of the best cozy mysteries and I love those with a paranormal aspect, Pape's Magick & Mayhem is fast-paced and downright hilarious.  

"The kettle had gone from whistling to screeching like a banshee, by the time I plucked it off the stove. Merlin stood in the middle of the kitchen, rotating like a clumsy ballerina."

8)  Murder by the Book by Devorah Fox
The naïve and sheltered Candy goes to work one day and is shocked to find her boss dead on his desk. After she calls the police and other work colleagues start filing in, Candy begins to see that her boss was not simply mean but that almost each of her colleagues had a reason to want him dead.

Murder by the Book is a short novella or long short story that is exciting and highly entertaining.

9)  Zoey's Post-It Notes by Zoey & Jeff Steiner
Written by 10-year-old Zoey Steiner, Zoey's Post-It Notes is a beautiful book on bullying and raising awareness about the issue especially when it comes to children.

"When you don't have faith in yourself, it gets you down. You are not able to do what you want to do. That can set you back a lot."

It is a book about self-discovery, motivation, awareness, and understanding. At the end of the book, there are activities for children to create their own post-its.

10)               Crazy Crab by Mark Evans
Crazy Crab is a short, fun, children's picture book by Mark Evans, with illustrations by Steve Page.

Steve, an excellent Hermit crab marketer who "can sell fried calamari to a squid", is unhappy with his life despite his success. Steve dreams of becoming an astronaut but is put down by friends who think he's crazy.

Crazy Crab is a beautiful story with a lesson at the end. If you work for it, your dream will become a reality.

11)               Monsters Exist – Anthology by various authors
The book is a collection of 14 short stories from the worlds of horror and often the dark paranormal, written by a great assortment of horror-writing authors, most of whose names already strike fear in the reader!

"Kleaver, Buller, Demmer, Deadman…"

Happy reading!

Update: Other editions of this post: