Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Book Review of Berkley, A Nose Tale by David Hillman

 Berkley, A Nose Tale by [Hillman, David]

Berkley is a Basset Hound who has an unusually big nose. His oversized honker often gets him in trouble wherever he goes. He’s fond of garbage cans, skunks and honey – the last causing him a great deal of pain when a hoard of angry bees chases him off. But his favorite of all is sniffing Jeremy’s stinky socks. Berkley’s sniffer finally comes in handy one day when Jeremy’s friend Becky needs an important favor. Berkley saves the day!

This is an adorable story. Somehow, it reminded me slightly of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but maybe that was just me spinning the story in my mind. In any event, Berkley, A Nose Tale works well. It’s cute, funny and teaches children a charming lesson.

The illustrations are fantastic. They’re colorful, expressive and detailed. Combined with the storyline, I’d have to say that this book is definitely worth the download. Kudos to Mr. Hillman. I’ll be recommending this book to friends and family!

5 Stars, Susan Barton, DIY Mom Blog

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Man's Work, Woman's Work Guest Post by Multi-Genre Author Robert Germaux

I’m welcoming multi-genre author Robert Germaux to the DIY Mom Blog today. Bob has several books, published on Amazon. He’s proven that he’s a versatile and entertaining author who’s comfortable writing in just about any genre. Bob also has a knack for writing about many things a lot of people can relate to.

Read on to find out Bob’s take on man’s work vs. woman’s work. I promise you that it’s definitely not how it sounds J

"Man's Work, Woman's Work" by Robert Germaux

You might get the idea that my wife does most of the cooking in the Germaux household, but you’d be wrong. Cynthia actually does all the cooking, and she has for a long time. The first two years of our marriage, I was already teaching, but Cynthia was still in college. Thus, she had more free time than I did. Plus, she loved preparing meals for her husband, and that husband loved eating those meals. It didn’t hurt that Cynthia was, and still is, a great cook. Her baked pineapple has achieved legendary status in my family and often tops the Most Requested category at holiday gatherings.

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     After Cynthia graduated and embarked on her own teaching career, she suddenly had nowhere near as much free time, but she still continued to prepare all our meals, at least the ones we had at home. It wasn’t that I couldn’t cook. I lived in off-campus apartments my last few years in college, and my roommates and I took pride in cooking most of our dinners ourselves, including the occasional made-from-scratch dessert. BTW, I’m told I made a mean tuna noodle casserole back in the day.

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Once both Cynthia and I were creating lesson plans, correcting papers, calling parents, attending faculty meetings, etc., we fell into a routine that pretty much set the tone for the rest of our careers and into retirement. Cynthia still did all the cooking, but on weekends, she often made enough chili or manicotti or corn pie or meat loaf or whatever to have leftovers during the week. Also, we’ve been fortunate enough to live in areas that have a wide variety of restaurants that serve good casual fare, so we often had an early dinner a couple days a week at those establishments. (And, actually, when you eat breakfast at 4:30, as we did when we were still working, dinner at four that afternoon isn’t really that early.)

Okay, I know it would appear that I was getting the better part of that deal, since I was still doing none of the cooking. And trust me, I’ve gotten by far the better part of the deal since the day I married Cynthia. But I do try to help. I’ve always done almost all the cleaning up after our meals, and Cynthia will tell you that I’m an excellent chef’s assistant in the kitchen, getting things out of the cupboard or refrigerator when she needs them, putting them away when she doesn’t, cleaning pots and pans when she’s finished with them. What cooking skills I once possessed all those years ago quickly went dark, as it were, due to a lack of practice, but I’m okay with that. Far more important, so is Cynthia.

We’re happy with the arrangement, just as we are in other areas of our lives. For instance, she doesn’t like to drive. I do. So I do most (not all) of our driving. Neither of us actually enjoys ironing, but it has to be done, so Cynthia irons her clothes and I iron mine, a skill I was lucky enough to learn at the age of fourteen. Another thing neither of us likes to do is yardwork, so we don’t. We’re able to pay people to mow our lawn in the summer, and the shrubs and bushes we have on our property are kept looking good by a guy who comes twice a year to fertilize, trim, etc.

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Cynthia and I have never defined any kind of work as being something to be done by the man or woman of the house. The important thing isn’t who does what. It’s finding that balance that makes both parties happy. It’s been working for us for forty-nine years, so we may be on to something. But that doesn’t mean our balance would work for you and the other half of your relationship. The two of you are the ones (the only ones) to determine that. In the end, don’t think of any job as man’s work or woman’s work. It’s just work. Do it well and, if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll be rewarded with some of that baked pineapple.
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Robert Germaux is offering free review copies of his latest book “More Grammar Sex”, which is not surprisingly about sex. In his usual offbeat, comedic fashion, Bob has compiled some of his favorite “thoughts on life's little moments, minor annoyances and unexpected delights.


Both my parents were readers. I'm talking stacks-of-books-on-their-nightstands readers. So it's no surprise that an early age, I, too, became an avid reader. Everything from sports books (especially baseball) to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, to almost anything about distant and exotic places. I've always enjoyed putting words on paper, but the writer in me didn't fully emerge until I retired after three decades of teaching high school English.

I quickly wrote two books aimed at middle school readers, at which point my wife urged me to try a novel for adults. As is usually the case, my wife Cynthia's idea was a good one. Over the next few years, I wrote several books about Pittsburgh private eye Jeremy Barnes, including "Hard Court" and the recently released "In the Eye." I also wrote "Small Talk" and "One by One," both featuring Pittsburgh police detective Daniel Hayes.

Along the way, I took a brief hiatus from the detective genre to write "The Backup Husband," the plotline of which came to me one day when I was playing the What-if game.

I then tried my hand at writing humorous essays, which resulted in "Grammar Sex (and other stuff)" and its sequel, "More Grammar Sex." Coming soon is "Small Bytes," the first Jeremy Barnes novel, to be followed by two other JB mysteries, "Leaving the LAW" and "Speak Softly."

I love interacting with my readers and getting their input on my stories and characters. Please feel free to contact me via my website roberttgermaux.wordpress.com.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Top Ten Books for High School Graduates Guest Post by Author Amy Reade

Award-winning author Amy Reade joins me on the blog today with an AWESOME and timely post. I'm sure there are moms (and dads and other gift-giving family members) who'll find this piece super informational. Books make great graduation gifts and Amy's post is packed with some great book ideas and summaries to help you decide. So on with the post...

Top Ten Books for High School Graduates by Amy Reade

I don’t have a child graduating from high school this year (two more years!), but there are millions of people who do, so I thought a bookish gift guide might be a useful post for this graduation season.

Many high school graduates have had their fill of books for the last four years, so the items on this list have to tread a fine line: they have to contain lots of useful advice, but they also have to be compelling enough to make a grad want to delve back into reading. And bonus: many of these are great for parents, too.

We’ll work our way from #10 to #1. Ready?

10. The Schmuck in My Office: How to Deal Effectively with Difficult People at Work by Jody Foster, MD. All high school grads have to enter the real world at some point, and this book teaches them how to deal with the schmucks that are in every workplace.

9. Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda. What started out as a collection of Twitter posts to inspire his followers every morning and evening has taken on a life of its own. Lin-Manuel Miranda (yes, THE Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame) has compiled this lovely book of self-affirming “pep talks” that are perfect when someone needs a little lift. And we all know that there are going to be days that your grad needs a little lift.

8. Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni. It can be hard for kids to see the big picture when they graduate because it’s been a heady last semester and they’re headed off into the unknown. For kids going to college, this book serves as a reminder that it’s not where you’re going that’s important—it’s what you do with your opportunities that matters.

7. Very Good Lives: the Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling. Most people know J.K. Rowling’s story by now: she was down-and-out when a publisher took a chance on a main character by the name of Harry Potter. This book derives from a Harvard graduation address Rowling delivered in 2008, and it highlights the importance of failure and what failure can teach us. Sometimes it’s good for kids to know that it’s okay to fail.

6. The 5-Ingredient College Cookbook: Easy, Healthy Recipes for the Next Four Years and Beyond by Pamela Ellgen. Even though the title suggests that these recipes are for the college-bound, they’re really for everyone.

5. Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School?: 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live By by Cary Siegel. This teaches some real-world lessons about money management, which many kids are sorely lacking when they graduate from high school. You’re never too young to learn the practicalities of money or the lack thereof.

4. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. The last thing you want to do is make your kid cry, but this is a beautiful book that is well worth a read. Written by a professor who had recently learned he had terminal cancer, this is his last lecture to his students, his last gift to them. Once your child has read it, make sure you read it, too. It’s a lesson we can all take to heart.

3. The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College by Harlan Cohen. I actually had a naked roommate, and I wish I had had this book those many years ago. It’s full of tips and advice for every step of the way through college.

2. Make Your Bed: Little Things that Can Change Your Life…and Maybe the World by Admiral William H. McRaven. This book derives from a commencement speech given at the University of Texas at Austin. I’ve seen the speech online, and it’s fabulous and powerful. I would highly recommend the book to anyone, not just grads.

1. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss. You knew this was coming, didn’t you? This is hands-down my favorite book to give high school graduates because it’s fun, it’s both childish and grown-up at the same time, and it’s perfect for every kid, whether they’re off to college, the military, trade school, or the work force. It’s a classic. 
Are there other books you would recommend? A hearty “Congratulations!” to all the grads and families out there.

Author Bio:

Amy M. Reade is a recovering attorney who discovered, quite by accident, a passion for fiction writing. She has penned eight mysteries and is working on two more, plus a Cape May County historical mystery series. She writes in the Gothic, traditional, contemporary, and cozy mystery subgenres and looks forward to continuing the two series she has begun since December, 2018. She also loves to read, cook, and travel. 

She is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, House of the Hanging Jade, the Malice series, the Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery series, and the Libraries of the World Mystery series.

Connect with Amy on the following sites:

Friday, May 3, 2019

Author Leslie Hachtel Talks About Why She Chose to Write About Romance

I invited romance author Leslie Hachtel for a visit to the DIY Mom Blog. Leslie is the author of over a dozen novels and I was curious about what made her choose to write in the romance genre. What she had to say was absolutely lovely! 


Books offer us a way to explore anything we choose. We can time-travel or visit outer space. We can spend time with people who lived long before us or those that will be here long after. We can experience other cultures and learn just about anything. Books are a door to the universe.

I’ve often heard it said that romance is the “redheaded stepchild” of literature. I vehemently disagree.

Have you watched the news lately? It's full of one atrocity after another, of people being hurt in so many terrible ways, while stories of love and kindness are too rare.

In a world full of so much negativity, don't we all have a desire for better? Wouldn't we all like to have that "happily ever after"?

The everyday is sometimes so difficult and enervating and romance novels offer a special respite. They let us discover men and women who face hardship and come out on the other side, stronger and strengthened by love. They lift us higher and give us the one thing we need: Hope.

I think we need romance novels most of all now, which is why I keep writing, and reading, them.


Leslie is the author of over a dozen romance novels. Her genres include historical, contemporary, romantic suspense and historical/paranormal since she loves them all. She lives in Florida with her fabulously supportive husband, Bob, and, of course, with Jakita, the terrier. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Meet My Rescue Squirrel, Sarah ... A Heartwarming Story from Author and Reiki Master Charline Ratcliff PLUS FREE BOOK!

Now, some of you might look at this photo and think, “wow, that is a really brazen squirrel!” and yet, without knowing the whole story, you wouldn’t know about the milestone of trust that she and I have formed.

I first ‘met’ Sarah in the late summer / early fall of 2017. She was a cute squirrel and being silver with two white rings on her tail definitely set her apart from the brown squirrels I was accustomed to seeing. She would always waltz into the fenced side yard and then dig through the various planter boxes, looking to unearth the acorns or peanuts that the Blue Jays had buried for their winter stash.

When Sarah disappeared later that fall, I really thought nothing of it. I simply assumed that squirrels, much like other animals without a winter food source, went into some form of hibernation. (And yes, I’ve since learned that squirrels don’t actually hibernate, although they do sleep a lot.)

Several months later, I was again in the side yard when I thought I noticed another silver squirrel. Initially, I was exuberant because, truth be told, I had been missing Sarah and her mischievous antics. Upon closer inspection though, I realized with horror that this squirrel was actually Sarah.

However, she did not have the same carefree attitude as before. Now, she crept slowly and stealthily across the ground, keeping as low a profile as possible, while she searched for food. It hurt my heart to see her slink through the garden area, rarely daring to lift her head higher than a couple inches. Gone were her cutely perfect, rounded squirrel ears. What was left instead were two ears that resembled a backward capital “L.”

As my eyes continued to travel the length of her body, I was shocked to see that her fur looked as if it had been ripped off; all the way from the nape of her neck to just past the shoulder blade area of her upper legs. While the skin was now whole (minus fur), I’m certain that directly after whatever it was that had happened to her had happened; her back had probably been, at best, an angry, oozing mess. I felt in my bones that she was lucky to be alive and I was grateful that she felt safe enough to still traverse my garden.

Her sad appearance prompted the purchase of shelled (but unsalted) peanuts and as the months went by, Sarah healed and her fur grew back. (Although her ears never will.)

Over time, she has seemingly come to know and trust me. When I return home from a trip, she is immediately aware and I will generally find her in my side yard the following morning. She has even developed ‘manners,’ if one could call them that, but those manners fly out the window if I don’t happen to hear her initial few knocks upon the bottom of the sliding glass door.

She watches me closely, and when she realizes that I haven’t heard her knocking, she will then run up the exterior screen door until she can see me over the chair. At that point, she will bang dramatically (and quite loudly) until she has successfully attracted my attention; only descending from her seemingly precarious perch once she sees me coming toward her with nuts in hand – because then, for her, everything is once again right with the world.

I smile every time this happens; grateful for Sarah’s friendship and trust. Yet, even more than that, I find myself humbled by her ability to release the trauma of such a horrific past experience…

Charline Ratcliff


Mine is not your typical life's story. Growing up, my family life, schooling, and lifestyle were anything but conventional, average or predictable. Being tenacious, an avid reader and hard-working allowed me to prevail against the pitfalls of my unusual upbringing.

It wasn't until my late twenties that the writing muse found me and thus has begun an extraordinary voyage of self-discovery. I began writing novels, blog posts, book reviews, provided author interviews, and even started mentoring other writers.

Having finished the writing of my most recent Historical Fiction, "A Life in the Age of Pompeii," I am about to embark on the writing of my next historical novel, "The Queen's Lost Daughter."

Thursday, February 7, 2019

#BookReview of #ChildrensBook Mr. Hoopeyloops Meets Rex by Andi Cann

Mr. Hoopeyloops meets Rex, A Very Clumsy Boy (Explore Artists #3)Mr. Hoopeyloops meets Rex, A Very Clumsy Boy by Andi Cann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rex is an accident prone little boy with good intentions. When he hears that Mr. Hoopeyloops needs an assistant, Rex decides he wants the job. Will the arrangement work out for everyone? Read along to find out…

This is a cute story about overcoming adversity, finding confidence and making friends. The illustrations are colorful and attractive. The story is a positive one.

The one thing I’d say is that this book is a little heavy on text, which might make it difficult to hold the attention of younger children. The intended age level, according to the book info, is 1 – 11, which in my opinion is a big age span. I plan to read this to a library group, so I’ll find out if toddlers appreciate the illustrations enough to follow along. However, I feel that older children should enjoy the story and have no trouble with the vocabulary included in the text. I think the book is worth the download.

4 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton, https://ebookreviewgal.com

View all my reviews

Friday, January 18, 2019