Saturday, September 20, 2014

And the winner is...

Congratulations are in order for
who's the lucky winner of a copy of Madame Picasso by Anne Girard.
Lady Bibliophile, please look for my notification in your email. I would like to thank all the nice followers who entered the contest and invite you to stay tuned for more reviews and giveaways.
Best wishes to all!

Monday, September 8, 2014

MADAME PICASSO by Anne Girard: Review & GIVEAWAY

Author: Anne Girard
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Published by Harlequin MIRA
Formats: eBook, Paperback, 432 pages 
Genre: Historical Fiction
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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About the book

The mesmerizing and untold story of Eva Gouel, the unforgettable woman who stole the heart of the greatest artist of our time.

When Eva Gouel moves to Paris from the countryside, she is full of ambition and dreams of stardom. Though young and inexperienced, she manages to find work as a costumer at the famous Moulin Rouge, and it is here that she first catches the attention of Pablo Picasso, a rising star in the art world.

A brilliant but eccentric artist, Picasso sets his sights on Eva, and Eva can't help but be drawn into his web. But what starts as a torrid affair soon evolves into what will become the first great love of Picasso's life.

With sparkling insight and passion, Madame Picasso introduces us to a dazzling heroine, taking us from the salon of Gertrude Stein to the glamorous Moulin Rouge and inside the studio and heart of one of the most enigmatic and iconic artists of the twentieth century.

My Review

A consuming and intense read, as it can be expected from a novel based on the love life of the most extraordinary artist of the 20th century: Pablo Picasso.

Founder of the avant-garde artistic movement known as Cubism, the Andalusian painter depicted reality from a multiplicity of viewpoints: he chose a subject, he analyzed it, dissected it, and reproduced it on canvas in the abstract form of simultaneous perspectives.  Art critic John Berger identified the essence of Cubism in these words --  "The metaphorical model of Cubism is the diagram: the diagram being a visible symbolic representation of invisible processes, forces, structures." Picasso's life, moods, sensuality, obsessions, ideological questions are symbolized in his art, but they are hidden in the allegorical and distorting mirror of broken images.

In those invisible aspects of reality, in those hidden patterns of the artist's life, Anne Girard found the narrative power source for her novel, Madame Picasso.  The story's concern with the untold truths about Picasso's inspirational muse and lover, Eva Gouel, is heartfelt and soul-stirring: it shows in Girard's atmospheric and moving prose, in her evocative and visually accurate descriptions, in the narrative framework that is as historically sound as it is  imaginatively vivid.

Picasso was famed for honing his lover skills on a copious number of women: the frantic and ambivalent nature of his artwork extended to other areas of his life, bringing the alluring quality of his brooding sensuality from the canvas to his personal affairs. Girard's historical novel immortalizes the avant-garde artist in a turn-of-the-century Paris (1911-1914), when his stardom was on a consistent rise and his love life was on a turbulent path with married and statuesque Fernande Olivier. A fortuitous encounter with Moulin Rouge costumer, Eva Gouel,  left an indelible mark on the existence and artistic inspiration of the bohemian painter and sculptor. Strangely enough, Eva became the subject of several Picasso's Cubist works, but among his classically sketched portraits there is no trace of her. What the author argues with the lush and shimmering strokes of her pen, is that the innocent and petit country girl with massive blue eyes, auburn hair, fiery and independent heart, might just have been the biggest love of his life, and that Picasso's devotion and desire to protect her, through their most incandescent love trysts as well as during the darkest hours of her life, are concealed behind his enigmatic creations.

The seductive and intellectually pulsing environment complementing the love story is portrayed with a plethora of historical references to the remnants of La Belle Epoque (the bohemian poets, the literary salons, Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Gertrude Stein, Alice Toklas, the Salon des Independants, the Moulin Rouge) that beautifully enhance the unrestrained and sweeping nature of Eva and Picasso's relationship.

"For many of us, conformity is impossible."

***Review copy graciously offered by the Publicist in exchange for an unbiased and honest opinion.

One paperback copy of Madame Picasso is up for grabs! Please, become a follower of this blog (GFC or Bloglovin), and leave a comment below, including your email address, for a chance to win. The contest is open to US residents only. Good luck!

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Praise for Madame Picasso

"Early twentieth century Paris and Picasso's lost love come to enchanted, vivid life in Madame Picasso. With a deft eye for detail and deep understanding for her protagonists, Anne Girard captures the earnest young woman who enthralled the famous artist and became his unsung muse." - C.W. Gortner, bestselling author of THE QUEEN'S VOW

Buy the Book

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About the Author

Anne Girard was born with writing in her blood. The daughter of a hard-driving Chicago newsman, she has always had the same passion for storytelling that fueled his lifelong career. She hand-wrote her first novel (admittedly, not a very good one) at the age of fourteen, and never stopped imagining characters and their stories. Writing only ever took a backseat to her love of reading.

After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature from UCLA and a Master's degree in psychology from Pepperdine University, a chance meeting with the acclaimed author, Irving Stone, sharply focused her ambition onto telling great stories from history with detailed research. "Live where your characters lived, see the things they saw," he said, "only then can you truly bring them to life for your readers." Anne took that advice to heart. After Stone's encouragement twenty years ago, she sold her first novel. When she is not traveling the world researching her stories, Anne and her family make their home in Southern California. When she is not traveling or writing, she is reading fiction.

Anne also writes historical fiction under the name Diane Haeger. For more information, visit You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Madame Picasso Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 25

Tuesday, August 26
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, August 27
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Interview & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Notebook

Thursday, August 28
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace
Review & Giveaway at Kinx's Book Nook

Friday, August 29
Review at Scandalous Women

Monday, September 1
Review at A Bookish Affair
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, September 2
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, September 3
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Thursday, September 4
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden's Court

Friday, September 5

Monday, September 8
Review at Book of Secrets
Review & Giveaway at Mina's Bookshelf

Tuesday, September 9
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, September 10
Review at Books in the Burbs

Thursday, September 11

Friday, September 12

Monday, September 15
Review at Layered Pages
Review at Carole's Ramblings

Tuesday, September 16

Wednesday, September 17
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, September 18
Review at One Book of a Time

Friday, September 19
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Monday, September 22
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, September 23

Wednesday, September 24

Thursday, September 25
Review at Kincavel Korner

Friday, September 26
Interview at Kincavel Korner

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Traitor's Wife by Allison Pataki: A Review

A Novel
Allison Pataki
Published by Howard Books, February 11, 2014
Paperback, ebook, 496 pages
Historical Fiction, American Culture
My rating
4.5 out of 5 stars

My review
After his betrayal became public, Benedict Arnold's name came to be synonymous with traitor. Benjamin Franklin even wrote about him, "Judas sold only one man, Arnold three millions." His entire life was described by biographers as treacherous and morally questionable: his name, whether mentioned by social historians or fiction writers, still today carries a strongly negative overtone. Arnold was, in fact, the American general who, while serving in the American Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, defected to the British side.  In command of the fortification at West Point, he planned to surrender it to the enemy's forces. When Arnold's plan was exposed in September 1780, he was commissioned into the British army as a brigadier general. Bizzarely, in a letter to Washington, he claimed, "Love to my country actuates my present conduct, however it may appear inconsistent to the world, who very seldom judge right  of any man's actions."

Arnold's second wife, Peggy Shippen, a socialite born in a prominent Philadelphia family with loyalist tendencies (she was the daughter of famous Judge Edward Shippen), played a significant role in her husband's conspiracy. She orchestrated it, to be more precise. After documents proving the general's plan to surrender the critical army base were exposed (following the arrest of Peggy's paramour John AndrĂ©, the British major who carried those incriminating papers in his boots), Peggy Shippen Arnold fled to London with her turncoat husband. It is around this controversial figure that Allison Pataki crafted her debut historical novel, The Traitor's Wife, a fictional account of the most infamous act of treason and the love-triangle that threatened to compromise the American fight for independence. 

"Peggy Arnold can take care of herself. She can play the role of siren, laughing, and flirting, and dancing until she's clouded the judgment of every man in the room. No one will suspect a flower of such a beautiful bloom to conceal a serpent underneath. She can manage it. She can manage anything."

Peggy Shippen, described by historians as quite pretty, smart, and a favorite among the young officers in Philadelphia (both British and Colonialist), is expertly portrayed by first-time author Allison Pataki with the vividness, the antics, and all the drama  of an unsufferable, scheming, spoiled, and unsympathetic character. Absorbed in a world of silk, lace, and British officers, Peggy takes the stage with her frivolous and reckless personality, triumphing under the heady glow of male attention. But if on one hand she shows a superior acumen and extraordinary savoir-faire for a woman her age (you will enjoy the wit and bite of her lines), her openly loyalist tendencies come through as clearly mercenary and fueled by personal vanity rather than a genuine political vision. And to vanity she appeals to seduce and corrupt General Arnold, a nice and humble American hero who had single-handedly turned the tide of the entire war with his bravery.

"This Philadelphia society may be genteel, but it's not tame. In fact, sometimes it makes the French court at Versailles seem like a nunnery in comparison."

Conspiring with her former lover John AndrĂ©, Chief of British Intelligence, "a man who could charm the boots off the devil", Peggy manipulates Arnold into thinking that it wasn't him betraying his country, but rather the other way around. Arnold had personally financed George Washington's military campaigns, but the Continental Congress had been unable to compensate him for his generosity and devotion to the colonialist cause. Lack of monetary gratification was the Achille's heel that turned the Saratoga hero into a resentful spy. Peggy's seductive power was his undoing.

It's from this unapologetic characterization of notorious historical figures that the cinematic resonance stems and relentlessly imbues the novel. The narrative perspective Pataki chose to set the whole story in motion is the perfect light source to intensify shadows and lights of each and every character involved: the focal point is Clara  Bell, Peggy's lady's maid. Clara Bell is an entirely fictional character, but her narrating voice has the credibility and the motivation of an unnoticed observer, whose blind obedience is taken for granted and abused. She watches her mistress' plans of treachery unfold throughout the novel and, ultimately, she plays a crucial role in the battle.

Skilfully plotted and well-executed.

Allison Pataki — daughter of former Gov. George Pataki — has sold the screen rights to her book, “The Traitor’s Wife,” to Princess Pictures, run by former Goldman Sachs exec David B. Ford, and Pamela Fielder.
Princess will team up with “True Detective” producers Anonymous Content on the project.

***Review copy graciously offered by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased and honest review


Sunday, August 24, 2014

MURDER AT MULLINGS by Dorothy Cannell: A Review

A Florence Norris Mystery
Dorothy Cannell
Severn House Publishers; May 1, 2014
Hardcover, 256 pages
Historical fiction, mystery, cozy, England
About the book
In its 300-year history, there has never once been a scandal at Mullings, ancestral home of the decent but dull Stodmarsh family. Until, that is, Edward Stodmarsh makes an ill-advised second marriage to the scheming Regina Stapleton, who insists on bringing her family's 'ornamental hermit' to live on the estate. Suddenly everyone wants to visit Mullings to glimpse this mysterious figure. Strange but harmless, thinks Florence Norris, the family's longstanding housekeeper. But events take a sinister turn with the arrival of sudden, violent death - and suddenly the hermit doesn't seem so harmless after all.
My review
Turn of the century England -- When fourteen-year-old Florence Norris first arrived at Mullings to work as a kitchen maid, she was to discover that, despite the  serene splendor of velvet lawns, formal gardens, expansive waterfalls and productive home farm, the house of Dovecote Hatch wasn't a world populated by heroes and heroines. A voracious reader of adventurous fantasies, Florrie's vivid imagination had been immediately transported, by the grandeur of that countryside estate, in one of those books of fiction she avidly consumed till the wee hours of the night, but the neighboring gentry's gossips soon woke her up to a much different reality: the Stodmarsh, owners for generations of that idyllic estate, were hereditarily a dull lot of people.
No scandals of unfaithful wives, or tales of forbidden loves had ever happened within the walls of Dovecote Hatch. No legends of insane relatives locked in its turrets, or duels fought in the first lights of down. Lacking the kind of charm and wit common among those sons and heirs who sowed wild oats before settling down in perfectly arranged marriages, the Stodmarsh had never done anything to bring dishonor on their name. That is until the 1930s, when a thirty five year old and widowed Florence returned to the estate as a housekeeper.
The mysterious death of Lady Stodmarsh and Lord Edward's decision to  have a second go at marital bliss with Regina Stapleton will irrevocably change that peaceful estate. Lady Stapleton's arrival in the village, along with her eccentric family hermit, stirs a series of ripples that thrust centuries of Stodmarsh shallow waters into dangerous sea changes.
The temptation to have a taste of "Downton Abbey-ish" glamour right at my fingertips (the period drama will resume only in January here in the US) was too strong to resist. Although not familiar at all with the author Dorothy Cannell and her previous work, I sank my teeth in her mystery novel without hesitation: my expectations in terms of Edwardian England historical setting,  cozy mystery flair, vivid account of upstairs/downstairs social dynamics, language authenticity, and atmospheric descriptions were not disappointed.
However, I believe the novel is afflicted by all the picadillos typical of prequels: as Ms. Cannell clearly intended Murder At Mullings to be the first installment of a mystery series featuring housekeeper sleuth Florence Norris, a  streamlined narrative is not the strength of the book. In the attempt to lay the ground work for a continuation of the series, the author introduces a hoard of characters, each with its own colorful peculiarities, overcrowding the narration with background information, supporting cast that pops in and out, interactions and dialogues that do not really work towards the main scheme of things.
The flow of events was too bumpy and uneven to keep me focused on the plot and this is what had me scratch a couple of stars from the my final rating. What prevented me from losing my interest entirely was the rich texture  of some of the passages, the historical authenticity of  language and scene setting, the elegant descriptions of the estate, the delicate romance between Florence and kind widower George Bird. Overall, I didn't find in the narrative enough appeal to sustain my interest in future installments. 
My rating
3.5 out of 5 stars
Historical facts about ornamental hermits

"Tracing its distant origins to the villa of the Roman emperor Hadrian in the second century AD, the eccentric phenomenon of the ornamental hermit enjoyed its heyday in the England of the eighteenth century It was at this time that it became highly fashionable for owners of country estates to commission architectural follies for their landscape gardens. These follies often included hermitages, many of which still survive, often in a ruined state.

Landowners peopled their hermitages either with imaginary hermits or with real hermits - in some cases the landowner even became his own hermit. Those who took employment as garden hermits were typically required to refrain from cutting their hair or washing, and some were dressed as druids. Unlike the hermits of the Middle Ages, these were wholly secular hermits, products of the eighteenth century fondness for 'pleasing melancholy'.

Although the fashion for them had fizzled out by the end of the eighteenth century, they had left their indelible mark on both the literature as well as the gardens of the period. And, as Gordon Campbell shows, they live on in the art, literature, and drama of our own day - as well as in the figure of the modern-day garden gnome."
(From Hermit in the Garden by Gordon Campbell)


Saturday, August 23, 2014


An old idea of mine is finally taking shape and I would love to have your feedback on one of the creative steps of this writing project. Which cover artwork strikes your fancy the most? The ethereal woman or the delicate chinoiserie? Please, leave your comment in the section below. Thank you!!!
Release Date
"You won't die soon", she said looking into those big green eyes she used to love. For the first time in twelve years, she saw through him for what he really was. "You won't die anytime soon. Neither heavens or hell are ready for you. They're not big enough for your ego." 
Cover #1
Cover #2

Friday, August 15, 2014


Join Anna Belfrage as her beloved time-slip series, The Graham Saga, is featured around the blogosphere from July 28-August 15 with HF Virtual Book Tours and enter to win your own set of Books 1-6!

About The Graham Saga

The Graham Saga Series

This is the story of Alex and Matthew, two people who should never have met - not when she was born three hundred years after him. It all began the day Alex Lind got caught in a thunderstorm. Not your ordinary storm, no this was the mother of all storms, causing a most unusual rift in the fabric of time. Alex was dragged three centuries backwards in time, landing more or less at the feet of a very surprised Matthew Graham. In a series of books we follow the life and adventures of the expanding Graham family, both in Scotland and in the New World - and let me tell you it is quite an exciting life, at times excessively so in Alex' opinion. Sometimes people ask me why Alex had to be born in the twentieth century, why not make her a woman born and bred in the seventeenth century where the story is set? The answer to that is I have no idea. Alex Lind is an insistent, vibrant character that sprung into my head one morning and simply wouldn't let go. Seductively she whispered about terrible thunderstorms, about a gorgeous man with magic, hazel eyes, about loss and sorrow, about love - always this love, for her man and her children, for the people she lives with. With a throaty chuckle she shared insights into a life very far removed from mine, now and then stopping to shake her head and tell me that it probably hadn't been easy for Matthew, to have such an outspoken, strange and independent woman at his side. At this point Matthew groaned into life. Nay, he sighed, this woman of his was at times far too obstinate, with no notion of how a wife should be, meek and dutiful. But, he added with a laugh, he wouldn't want her any different, for all that she was half heathen and a right hand-full. No, he said, stretching to his full length, if truth be told not a day went by without him offering fervent thanks for his marvelous wife, a gift from God no less, how else to explain the propitious circumstances that had her landing at his feet that long gone August day? Still, dear reader, it isn't always easy. At times Alex thinks he's an overbearing bastard, at others he's sorely tempted to belt her. But the moment their fingertips graze against each other, the moment their eyes meet, the electrical current that always buzzes between them peaks and surges, it rushes through their veins, it makes their breathing hitch and ... She is his woman, he is her man. That's how it is, that's how it always will be.

Graham Saga Titles

Book One: A Rip in the Veil Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind Book Three: The Prodigal Son Book Four: A Newfound Land Book Five: Serpents in the Garden Book Six: Revenge & Retribution Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest (November 2014) Book Eight: To Catch a Falling Star (March 2015)

About the Author

Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she's multilingual and most of her reading is Anna Belfragehistorical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past. She was always going to be a writer - or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive… For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she's still there. For additional information regarding Anna, her characters, extra scenes, and teasers for her next books, have a look at Anna's website at: You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, July 28 Broken Teepee Kincavel Korner bookworm2bookworm's Blog Tuesday, July 29 So Many Books, So Little Time Wednesday, July 30 A Bibliotaph's Reviews Thursday, July 31 Book Drunkard Friday, August 1 The Lit Bitch Saturday, August 2 Book Nerd Sunday, August 3 Literary Chanteuse Just One More Chapter Monday, August 4 A Bookish Girl Historical Tapestry To Read, Or Not to Read Tuesday, August 5 CelticLady's Reviews Wednesday, August 6 The True Book Addict Thursday, August 7 Impressions in Ink Friday, August 8 A Bookish Affair The Mad Reviewer Saturday, August 9 Historical Fiction Connection Monday, August 11 Gobs and Gobs of Books Tuesday, August 12 Pages of Comfort Wednesday, August 13 History Undressed Thursday, August 14 Passages to the Past Friday, August 15 Mina's Bookshelf


To win a set of Anna Belfrage's Graham Saga (Books 1-6) please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Two winners will be chosen. Giveaway is open internationally!
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on August 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter on August 16th and notified via email. Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

THE DOLPHIN WAY "A Parent's Guide To Raising Healthy, Happy, And Motivated Kids" by Shimi Kang MD: A Review

THE DOLPHIN WAY "A Parent's Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Motivated Kids"
Author: Shimi Kang, M.D.
Published by Tarcher on May 1, 2014
Hardcover, 352 pages
Non-fiction, parenting, guide, psychology, self-help
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
An illuminating read on the challenges of parenting in the twenty-first century, the limits of the "tiger" model (Battle Hymn of the Tiger Model by Amy Chua), and the opportunities offered by a parenting style inspired to one of the most wonderfully adaptable, self-reliant and socially connected creatures on earth: dolphins.
In her memoir, Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mom (Penguin Press, 2011), Yale professor Amy Chua, recorded her personal experience as a mother and the challenges she had to face raising her two daughters. Coming from a strict Chinese family, Chua received a very tough education ('no good grades in school, no toys, no playdates, no boyfriends' kind of upbringing): according to the law professor, her parents' demanding and restrictive strategy was the best gift anybody ever gave to her and she admittedly tried to raise her kids in the same way (without apparent success with one of her daughters, tough). The authoritarian brand of parenting made famous by Chua's provocative memoir proudly excludes playing, choices, even bathroom breaks during piano practice. Her book stirred quite a controversy among critics and readers. Although not intended as a parenting guide, she strongly asserted her point of view about education in this country:  "I do believe that we in America can ask more of children than we typically do, and they will not only respond to the challenge, but thrive."
The cultural divide between Western and traditional Chinese parents is as wide as the geographical distance separating them: while we try to respect our children's individuality encouraging them to pursue their own passions and providing a nurturing environment, in many eastern cultures parents believe that the best way  to protect their children is preparing them for the future with strict rules and strong work habits. I am a strong supporter of the idea that virtue lies in the middle, not in the extremes.
As a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, researcher, and co-founder of the Youth Culture and Mental Health Fund for the BC Mental Health Foundation, Shimi Kang, M.D. has worked with thousands of people dealing with stress, family conflicts, work-life balance, depression, anxiety, addictions, psychosis, and suicidal thoughts: drawing from her range of expertise and experience, and in response to Chua's brutally honest story of extreme parenting, her guide, The Dolphin Way, argues that motivation as an external imposition doesn't bring lasting results. Chua's "tiger" parenting style (yelling, bribing, punishing)  kills self-motivation:
"Pushing, hovering, demanding, and cajoling may get results when tasks are simple, but when tasks become complex, involve creativity, and require critical thinking, these external motivators work poorly. Carrots and sticks can't replace autonomy, mastery, and purpose as the foundation of self-motivation, pleasure, and joy."
And so does the opposite:
"When we motivate via toys, money, or too much praise, we also take away the chance for internal rewards - that amazing dose of dopamine that keeps us feeling happy."
At best, the "tiger" parenting focuses on mastery alone and it works only when the child finds the activity imposed by her/his parents to be important enough for her/him to master it. And even when children of "tiger" parents bolt out of the gates, so to speak, they do it only because of external pressure and will be often passed over by those who experienced  a more relaxed approach to academics and extracurricular activities. The "tiger" kids will underperform in the real world; they will more likely develop addictions, self-harm habits, and suicidal tendencies. Action based on external motivation will last only as long as the external pressure, reward, punishing are in place. On the other end of the parenting spectrum, the permissive style (the "jellyfish") will breed irresponsible and impulsive kids, poor relation skills, no respect for authority, poor school/work performance, and risky behaviors.  The risks of parenting with an excess of control and micro-managing, or complete lack of guidance, are enormous. Both models destroy curiosity, the very roots of self-motivation.
"I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity", Eleanor Roosevelt used to say. I couldn't agree more with her. Curiosity is linked to our brain's dopamine reward system and fuels our self-motivation for learning: when we look at the world with curiosity, we stop judging and simply engage our thinking brain to observe and interact.
The dolphin-way appears to be the perfect balance between the authoritarian parenting model (the "tiger"), and the permissive style (the "jellyfish"). Dolphins, with all their attributes and qualities, are a powerful metaphor for a successful parenting: they display qualities of intelligence, creativity, learning, communication, and social connection, all traits necessary to fare with success in the shift age. They are social creatures, living and traveling in pods. They teach their young through role modeling, play, and guidance. They're the most altruistic and collaborative animal species, with a brain size second only to humans. The dolphin parenting model is about guiding rather instructing, teaching by example, emphasizing the importance of play, exploration, social bonds, and community values, rather than competition and isolation. All these positive traits are natural to human parenting, but we have lost connection with them because of our imbalanced, over-competing, over-achieving lifestyle.
With a  parenting style modeled on the dolphins' behavior, discipline is assertive and positive, not restrictive; supportive, not punishing or dismissing. "Dolphin" parents are clear authority figures (not friends, or personal assistants, helicopters, slaves, drivers) that establish clear rules and  guidelines while responding to the emotional needs of their children. Kang's book offers numerous and practical examples of "dolphin" inspired approaches and communication strategies.
Unlike many other parenting books, The Dolphin Way offers guidance, not instruction, in a perfect dolphin-parenting way: it doesn't add any more tasks to a parent's to-do list. It actually helps eliminate some, clearly illustrating the multiple benefits of such a model:
- being warm and responsive helps children form secure attachments and protects them from internalizing issues such as depression and anxiety
- enforcing limits decreases the chance children will engage in acting out self-destructive behaviors (aggression, interpersonal conflict, drug and alcohol abuse)
- communicating about thoughts and feelings strengthens children's empathy, emotional regulation, and relationship skills
- showing understanding for academic struggles helps children become better problem solvers and learners
- encouraging independence helps children develop self-reliance, a desire to help others, and better emotional health

To use Albert Einstein's words, "look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."