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Friday, December 21, 2018

All Eyes on Alexandra - children's book review

In All Eyes on Alexandra, young Alexandra Crane is terrible at following her family in their flying Vee. She can’t help it that the world is so full of interesting distracting sights! When it's time for the Cranes to migrate to Israel's Hula Valley for the winter, Alexandra is excited but her family is worried. Will Alexandra stay with the group, and what happens if a dangerous situation should arise? Might Alexandra—and the rest of the flock—discover that a bad follower can sometimes make a great leader?

Based on the true story of Israel’s annual crane migration.

Print Length: 32 Pages
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Publisher: Kar-Ben Pub
ISBN-10: 1512444391
ISBN-13: 978-1512444391

All Eyes on Alexandra is available to purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, TargetThrift Books, and IndieBound.

About the Author, Anna Levine

Anna Levine is an award-winning children’s book author. Like Alexandra Crane, the character in her latest picture book, she loves to explore new worlds. Born in Canada, Anna has lived in the US and Europe.  She now lives in Israel, where she writes and teaches.

You can find Anna Levine online at:

Author website:

Twitter: @LevineAnna

Instagram: @booksfromanna

About the Illustrator, Chiara Pasqualotto

Chiara Pasqualotto was born in Padua, in northern Italy, currently teaches illustration and drawing classes to children and adults, in particular in Padua during the summer at the Scuola Internazionale di Comics and in Rome. Since 2008 she's been living in Rome and working with illustration professionally: her first picture book, Mine, All Mine! was published in 2009 by Boxer Books (UK), since then she published with Oxford University Press, Giunti, Terranuova and some American publishers (Paraclete Press, Tyndale, LearningAZ, Kar-Ben Publisher).

You can find Chiara Pasqualotto online at:

Artist website:



----- Review by the Otto Family

Our family absolutely loves "All Eyes on Alexandra" by Anna Levine and illustrated by Chiara Psqualotto. The youngest members of the family enjoy the bright colors and beautiful pictures. The older children found the story to be interesting, but appreciated most, the opportunity to discuss some new places. As we would read, the older children would ask where a particular place was and then we could took at a map and learn more. This would be a great read for a wide variety of ages and stages - and even I as a mom enjoyed the storytelling, the scenes, and of course the time spent with the children.


-- Upcoming Blog Tour Dates

December 27th @ Linda's Blog
Visit Linda's blog again where you can read her interview with author Anna Levine.

December 28th @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog
Visit Beverley's blog today you can read her review of Anna Levine's book All Eyes on Alexandra.

December 31st @ Strength 4 Spouses
Visit Wendi's blog and read Anna Levine's guest post on learning about families and different cultures.

January 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina's Blog
Visit author Anthony Avina's blog where he shares his thoughts about Anna Levine's picture book All Eyes on Alexandra.

January 3rd @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog
Visit Beverley's blog again where you can read Anna Levine's blog post about getting into the head of your middle-grade characters.

January 4th @ Author Anthony Avina's Blog
Visit author Anthony Avina's blog again where you can read Anna Levine's blog post about using fiction to write non-fiction.

January 7th @ Strength 4 Spouses Blog
Visit Wendi's blog again where you can read her thoughts about the book All Eyes on Alexandra by Anna Levine.

Keep up with the latest blog stops by following us on twitter @WOWBlogTour.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Instant Pot Chicken Dumpling Soup - Easy Recipe - Comfort Food

Here is a delicious chicken soup recipe you can make quickly and easily in your Instant Pot - easy to make and since it's all made in one pot, the clean up is even easier than the prep!!!

You can easily substitute noodles or rice for the dumplings - so first I'll give you the soup recipe and then at the end the dumpling recipe and you can decide how you want to do it.

I used a 6qt Instant Pot but you could easily use a larger instant pot and increase the ingredients proportionately.


1 T olive oil (or whatever cooking oil you like)
3 good size boneless/skinless chicken breasts (cut into cubes)
1/2 C diced onion
1 C chopped celery
4-6 C sliced carrots
2 C frozen peas


Set your instant pot to saute and once the indicator reads "HOT" go ahead and add 1T olive oil (or cooking oil of your choice). Then add 3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts that have been cut into cube size pieces. Stir them into the oil a bit then add a dash of salt and pepper. While the chicken is cooking, dice up 1/2 C of your favorite flavor onion (I prefer red onions) and toss the onion in with the chicken when the chicken is about 1/2 cooked. Stir and allow to finish cooking while you chop up the following:

1 C chopped celery
4-6 C sliced carrots
2 C frozen peas

When the chicken is just about cooked through, add the vegetables and give a quick stir before turning off your Instant Pot.

Now add a bit more salt and pepper to taste as well as enough water to just barely cover the chicken and vegetables.

Cover your instant pot with the pressure cooking lid and use the soup button to cook everything perfectly.

Once done, allow for a 5 minute natural release followed by a quick release.

Add another 2-4 C of water plus whatever salt and pepper you feel would compliment the delicious broth you've created. While that continues on the "keep warm" setting, you can boil up your noodles, steam your rice, or make your dumplings.



2 C flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 C buttermilk
2 T melted butter


Combine dry ingredients in your mixer (or mix by hand) then add butter and milk - add the milk slowly and decrease or increase the amount to make a sticky dough. Drop the dough spoonful by spoonful into the soup and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes before serving.

After my dumplings are cooked through, I give the soup a stir and add some parsley on the top because I think it looks pretty and tastes delicious!


May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and lemonade (and a big bowl of delicious homemade chicken soup)!


Crystal is a secretary, council secretary, and musician at her church, birth mother, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and their five youngest children (Carmen 11, Andre 10, Breccan 5, Delphine 3, and baby Eudora who somehow turned 1 this fall), two dogs, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, and at WOW! Women on Writing and their Muffin Ezine - Crystal is dedicated to turning life's lemons into lemonade!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

New Year Blog Tours - Sign Up Today

The new year is fast approaching and I have two exciting book blog tours to announce through WOW! Women on Writing. Please contact me today to reserve your copy and participate in one or both of the tours. If you've never participated in a tour, feel free to inquire and I'll be happy to explain how it works - you don't even have to have your own blog!

Send an email today to participate - email address: or

Be sure to include the following:

* The email address you'd like your ebook(s) sent to - and indicate the title, titles, or "both"

*The name and url for your blog, or a note letting me know you do not have a blog

*A date you would prefer as your first choice, as well as a 2nd choice - this will be the date your review will be posted to your blog/this blog and social media. (Jane Bertrand's tour runs 1/7-/2/7 and Neill McKee's 1/28-2/28)

Including posting to a blog, it would be fabulous if you could post your review on Amazon/Goodreads as well as your own social media. This is greatly appreciated although not mandatory to participate in a book blog tour.

As soon as all the dates have been filled for each tour, and a calendar has been put together, I'll email a media kit to everyone involved in the tour. This kit will include the authors head shot and bio as well the book cover and official summary and buy links for you to use. This email will also include the calendar for the tour and should be able to answer most (if not all) the questions you may have concerning tour participation.

If you are an interview only blogger, please email with your interview questions as well as the dates preferred.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration in this and all matters.

A select number of guest posts may be available soon - if you prefer a guest post instead of a review, please email as soon as possible to choose a date and get in line for a guest post.

You Started WHAT After 60? Highpointing Across America
by Jane T Bertrand
launches January 7th 2019

About the Book:
Itching for a challenge when she turned 60, Jane Bertrand set out to reach the highest point of each state. Her strategic mistake was to start with the easiest ones, leaving the most strenuous for the end of this decade-long quest. She recruited over 50 family members, colleagues, and childhood friends to join her in making this the experience of a lifetime.

About the Author:
Jane T. Bertrand, PhD, MBA, is a professor of the Department of Global Health Management and Policy at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. She also holds the Neal A. and Mary Vanselow endowed chair. Her professional interests involve program evaluation and behavior change communication in the areas of international family planning and HIV prevention. Dr. Bertrand has been on the Tulane faculty since 1979, except for the period from 2002-09 when she directed the Center for Communication Programs (CCP), at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her published research focuses largely on Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. In recent years she has worked primarily on the implementation and evaluation of family planning programs to increase contraceptive use in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At Tulane she teaches two graduate level courses: monitoring of health interventions in global settings, and health systems strengthening: International family planning. She is fluent in French and Spanish.

Finding Myself in Borneo;
Sojourns in Sabah
by Neill McKee
launches January 28th 2019

About the Book:
Finding Myself in Borneo chronicles, with good humor, a young man’s adventures while teaching secondary school as a Canadian CUSO volunteer in Sabah, Malaysia (North Borneo), 1968–70. McKee learns the craft of teaching, the Malay language and local customs, and gains many friends in his small community. He bonds with Borneo by climbing the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, Mount Kinabalu, and having a love affair. He navigates Borneo’s backwaters to make his first documentary film and takes a freighter to Indonesia where he discovers the scars of that country’s recent genocide, a contrast to his hilarious motorcycle journeys in Sabah with his American Peace Corps buddy. They make a hallucinogenic discovery—North Borneo is, indeed, J. R. R. Tolkien’s famed Middle-Earth of The Lord of the Rings! The enterprising duo establish the North Borneo Frodo Society (NBFS), an organization Tolkien joins.

About the Author: 
Neill McKee is a creative nonfiction writer, presently concentrating on the beginnings of an international career as a teacher, filmmaker, and media producer in many countries around the world. His first work in this genre is a travel memoir on his early experiences as a high school teacher in North Borneo (Sabah, Malaysia) during 1968-70, as well as stories of his second two-year sojourn (1973-74) to this exotic land and follow-up visits.
More memoirs are also in the works, including one on his childhood and youth based on the humorous theme of trying to escape a polluted, industrial home town in Southern Ontario, and another on searching for the stories of his ancestors in Canada and the USA. McKee is also beginning the outline for a memoir on 45-year, international career as a filmmaker, media producer, and cultural exploration and traveling on assignments to over 80 countries and living and working for 18 years in Asia, Africa and Russia.

McKee holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Calgary, Alberta (1968) and a Master of Science in Communication from Florida State University, Tallahassee (1988). He is the author of several books, articles and manuals on communication for development and the producer/director of many films, videos and multi-media initiatives.