January Reading Round-Up

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I have decided this year to keep a closer watch of what I read and what genres I might be ignoring, as well as what books I’ve read for the reading challenges I’ve entered.
Last year I read over 400 books and I aim to this year, but several genres weren’t well represented.

This past month the total read was 48, with the following breakdown:
Fantasy/scifi – 3
Middle grade novels – 1
Non-fiction – 2
Picture books – 19
Romance – 23
Diverse books – 4
As you can see, I read a lot of romances. As I am writing romances as well, it has been a study of the genre as well as am escape from stress.

I just joined a new challenge – “Beyond the Bookends”. The theme for January was “Read a book that will change your daily life”

I read The Nordic Guide to Living Ten Years Longer by Dr. Bertil Marklund. The tips in this small book really will impact my daily life.
I am using this book as well for “52 Books in 52 Weeks” – a book by a Scandinavian author.

I read The Ice Dragon by George RR Martin for the “Swords and Stars Reading Challenge” (book with a dragon on it) as well as for the “Monthly Key Word Challenge” (key word – ice)

I read and reviewed Gambling on Granola by Fiona Maria Simon for the Memoir Challenge.

Susanna Kearsley (The Rose Garden) was the favourite author I read this month for Modern Ms. Darcy’s Reading Challenge (I also read a number of books by Jill Shalvis and Susan Wiggs, both favourite authors.) The Rose Garden was also set in 2 time periods which fit #20 of the “Writers Write Reading Challenge”. (I also read several holiday books for this challenge #22)

For “Monthly Motif” the theme was to diversify your reading and I read a number of great picture books, including these 3:
Stolen Words by Melanie Florence (about residential schools in Canada)
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala
The Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Carole Boston Weatherford

From my TBR shelves I read:
The Rose Garden, The Ice Garden and The You I Never Knew by Susan Wiggs


For January, my top 3 books were:

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

Stolen Words by Melanie Florence

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis


My goals for February are to continue to work on my TBR pile – at least one a week, as well as to read in different genres –a mystery, a bio, poetry, and an historical fiction.

Gambling on Granola by Fiona Maria Simon – A WOW Blog Tour

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I am very pleased to be part of the WOW – Women on Writing Blog tour for Fiona Maria Simon’s book Gambling on Granola

My Review

A single mom, despondent after her divorce and missing time with her daughter, Fiona Simon knew she needed to make a change. Hearing a voice tell her to sell her granola resulted in a journey of discovery, of hard work, of creativity, of complexity and stress.
Simon’s granola had been widely praised by family and friends and she decided to gamble on creating a business to make and sell it.
Her story is one of perseverance and lessons learned as she developed and grew her granola company “Fiona’s Granola”. It would provide for her and her daughter as well as allow her to preserve what she prized dearly – time with her daughter and the ability to make people happy.
Simon’s book provides a detailed roadmap of one woman’s quest to build a company and succeed. She shares her triumphs, as well as her mistakes, and the many lessons she learned along the way.
Sprinkled throughout the book are numerous quotes, many of which appeared on her granola boxes. Two of her own quotes touched a chord with me:
“Our duty is to share our gifts – it’s why we were given them. Through sharing, the gift comes alive.”
She wrote the book to inspire others – “To go for their dreams, jump off that cliff, and trust there is a net that will open. The brave souls who take that leap of faith have a chance to spring higher than they can possibly imagine.”

I enjoyed following Simon’s journey and learning about the challenges and rewards of creating a business. Gambling on Granola was well worth the read.

(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in return for reviewing it)




  About the Book:

Gamblin on Granola

In Gambling on Granola: Unexpected Gifts on the Path of Entrepreneurship, Simon shares a tale that is uplifting and inspiring but also raw and honest. This is a business memoir but also a love story―the love for her daughter, of a journey in uncharted waters, of the products and company she created, and of the continued challenge to follow her dream.
We see her growth and healing over fifteen years, as mistakes, weaknesses, and naiveté, evolve into resilience, resolve, and inspiration. For Fiona, it started out as all new businesses do―with an idea. But her world quickly became more complex as she established her company, developed new product lines, forged personal relationships in a competitive environment, grew her business, and held onto her deepest values―all while raising her daughter, Natalie, as a single mom.


“Fiona’s story is both personal and transformative. She lays bare the hopes and anxieties, challenges, betrayals and lessons learned in creating her own business. From the mountaintops of a solar observatory where she was raised, to the struggles and triumphs, her story is like a path of granola crumbs leading the reader to understand how to succeed at any enterprise.”
– Jeff Kline, M.A. Ed., Chairman, Hispanic Communications Network, Washington, DC.

“Fiona Simon is an engaging storyteller and her narrative moves right along. It should inspire and motivate anyone who needs to remember the importance of persistence, belief in oneself, and vision in pursuing a goal. Her granola is good and so is her book.”
– Bob McCormick, Publisher, Editor, Author

Paperback: 200 pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Terra Nova Books (January 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1938288920
ISBN-13: 978-1938288920

About the Author:
Fiona Simon Head Shot

Fiona Maria Simon is a former journalist, travel writer, editor, and communications director of the Boulder, Colorado, Chamber of Commerce. She is passionate about developing healthy food products, writing, traveling the world, and inspiring and empowering others with her story. Lured by the adventures of entrepreneurship, she launched her own organic granola company and led it to success despite having no business background and simultaneously juggling the demands of being a single mom. Her book is a story of challenges, hardships, and triumphs, both personal and professional.

Find Fiona Online:

Website: http://www.fionamariasimon.com 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gambling-Granola-Unexpected-Gifts-Entrepreneurship/dp/1938288920/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1494595882&sr=1-1&keywords=books+about+entrepreneurship

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34552773-gambling-on-granola?from_search=true 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fionamariasimon/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FionaMSimon

WOW Blog Tour

Check here to see the rest of the tour:

Monday January 15th @ WOW! Women on Writing
Interview & Giveaway

Tuesday, January 16th @ Create Write Now 
Fiona M. Simon is today’s guest author at Mari McCarthy’s Create Write Now Blog – don’t miss this intriguing guest post titled ” Emotional Detachment From My Business After the Sale” and learn more about Simon and her book “Gamblingon Granola

Wednesday, January 17th @ Beverley A. Baird
Beverley A. Baird reads and reviews Fiona M. Simon’s “Gambling with Granola” and shares her thoughts on this inspirational memoir.

Thursday, January 18th @ CMash Loves to Read
Today’s guest blogger at CMash Loves to Read is none other than Fiona M. Simon. Hear from her on the topic of “The similarities between raising a child and growing a company.” and learn more about her memoir “Gambling on Granola”.

Friday, January 19th @ Bring on Lemons
Today’s guest blogger at Bring on Lemons is Fiona Maria Simon sharing her thoughts about “Stress and Family Relationships” – don’t miss this opportunity to learn from Fiona and find out more about her memoir “Gambling onGranola”.

Monday, January 22nd @ Lisa Haselton
Lisa Haselton interviews Fiona M. Simon about her motivational memoir “Gambling on Granola

Tuesday, January 23rd @ Margo Dill
Fiona M. Simon visits the blog of fellow author and single mom Margo Dill. Hear from Fiona on the topic of: “Fun and creative ways I got Natalie (my daughter) involved with my business.” and learn more about Fiona’s memoir “Gamblingon Granola

Wednesday, January 24th  @ Grow a Creative Biz
Cheri Larson reviews “Gambling on Granola” by Fiona M. Simon and shares her thoughts with readers at Grow a Creative Biz. This is sure to be a great conversation – don’t miss an opportunity to learn from these smart women!

Thursday, January 25th @ Writers Pay it Forward
“Struggling with Focus” is today’s topic at Writers Pay it Forward as Fiona Maria Simon pens today’s guest post and discusses her book “Gambling on Granola“.

Tuesday, January 30th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Fiona M. Simon writes an intriguing guest post at Choices today. She talks about how there is no “being done” with her book – how she has birthed an entity that will sprout wings and fly off to adventures yet to be known! Don’t miss this post and opportunity to learn about her book “Gambling on Granola

Thursday, February 1st @ Women of Wonder
Ginny at Women of Wonder reviews “Gambling on Granola” by Fiona M. Simon and shares her thoughts with readers. Don’t miss this exciting blog stop!


Slice of Life Tuesday


Today is Slice of Life Tuesday, the weekly writing challenge hosted at “Two Writing Teachers”.

I turned 66 on Sunday and as I looked back over the past year, I reflected on how little writing I had done most of the year. I had planned on writing my stories last year – to work on a memoir.
I started strong – during January I brainstormed so many memories. And then life, and my husband’s health issues, took over.
Reading the quote by Anne Lamott and watching her Ted talk, made me realize it is never too late to follow my dreams. It is never too late to “get on” with my life.

Her list of 12 Things resonated with me:

#9 – I really do have to do a little better with what I eat
#7 – writing just might save me
#4 – don’t compare my writing and struggles with anyone else
#6 – keep my butt in the chair and write
#10 – seek grace and laughter
#12 – and finally, take loving, friendly ac

Wise words. Thank you Anne. I need to tap into the true person inside me and share my truths and memories and stories, in my own voice. Age is but a number. I can and must do it.

Top Ten Tuesday – 2017 Leftovers


This week for Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme that is hosted at the “ Broke and the Bookish” , we’re sharing the books we had planned to read in 2017. Some were on my TBR list for #MustReadin2017. I have rolled them over to this year (as well as adding more!)
But there were others that I had borrowed through the library and I ran out of time to read them. I hope, no, I plan to read them this year.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Emma and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
Posted by John David Anderson
You Don’t have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
Feversong by Karen marie Moning
New Boy by Tracy Chevalier
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

#Must Read in 2018


Last year I took part in Carrie Gelson’s (of “There is a Book for That” blog) challenge and I hate to admit it but I did not read any of the books I listed (I did start several tho) . I did read over 400 books last year, but not one of the books on this TBR list.

So, I am trying once again and am adding this list at the end as a double must do.

Here though, are some of the books on my shelves that I really want to read.


Novels (the first 3 I have actually started!)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The The 100 year old Man who Climbed out the Window by Jonas Jonasson

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

A Prayer for Own Meany by John Irving


Open Heart, Open Mind by Clara Hughes

An Astronaut’s Guide by Chris Hatfield

The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

As You Wish by Cary Elwes


Here is my 2017 TBR List:

MG to YA
Ice Fire by Chris D’Lacey
The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman
Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuck Skrypuch
The Hobbit by Tolkein
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Adult Non-Fiction 
On Writing by Stephen King
Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Into the Abyss by Carol Shaben
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Adult Fiction 
Emma by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Outlander by Gil Adamson
Plus – finish series by Sue Grafton (T to W)

What books are you planning to read this year??

Slice of Life Tuesday


Today is Slice of Life Tuesday – the weekly writing challenge hosted at “Two Writing Teachers”, where we encouraged to share a slice from our lives.

It is a  new year, with a chance for a fresh start and brand new opportunities. I have missed taking part in SOL, missed the community of writers especially. I need to get back into writing daily and as Amy Krouse Rosenthal said “Make the most of your time here.”

After a year of struggle, of little writing and stress over my husband’s health, I knew I needed a strong word that would encompass all that I wanted – more writing, more art, more of so many things. The word MORE expressed it all.

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So, I chose more to guide me along with the over riding theme “Enjoy life more” to enhance my life. Today I created the canvas above, that will hang in my art room as a constant reminder.

There is a supermoon today and with a full moon, comes the chance to create a dream board. Last year, I only made a few, but I knew that I needed to get back on track this year.

Dreamboards can be powerful, as they pull from your subconscious dreams and desires that are  often buried.

This full moon is the Full Wolf Moon and the question I used for inspiration while creating the dreamboard was: “What are you hungry for?”



A couple of weeks ago, I also created a visionboard for the winter months. That has been a pretty steady practice the past few years,  to focus on what I hoped to achieve each season, especially for the winter.