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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Book Reviews, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 2,190
26. The Death of Bees



Any book that opens with teen girls burying their dead parents in the garden is going to be a page turner.  Marnie (whose fifteenth birthday is the day of the secret interment) suspects her 12-year-old sister, Nelly of suffocating their father, Gene.  Nelly suspects that Marnie is the culprit.  Neither of them are overly concerned since all they want to do is stay together.  Hence the hiding of the dead bodies.  (Mom's death was something else entirely.)  Gene and Izzy were NOT model parents.

Lenny, the aging neighbor watches the girls from his window, missing his dead partner, Joseph, and wondering where the parents have gone.

The girls struggle through school, and with friends and boys (Marnie) and social ineptitude (Nelly), until a crisis forces them to seek refuge with Lenny.  They find a safe place there.  But nothing lasts forever.

Sex, drugs, violence - this book may be about teens but it is written for adults or New Adults as 20-somethings are now called in the publishing world.  Marnie and Nelly are both very smart.  As they alternate telling the story, with some help from Lenny, they uncover what a truly neglected life they have led.  All the reader really wants is for them to have a home with Lenny - he's so lonely and he can really cook! - and get on with their lives.  But murder is not a victimless crime.  Someone always has to pay.

I can't get this book out of my head.  Some of the observations attributed to Marnie and Nelly are so apt, so well-put, that I want to memorize them.  Or post them on a sampler on my wall.

When Marnie catches her bible-thumping grandfather swigging whiskey from a bottle she reacts this way:
"I go back to my room afraid, because people like Robert T. Macdonald carrying righteousness like a handbag are dangerous and I never considered him dangerous before and now that I do I am scared."

"People...carrying righteousness like a handbag are dangerous."  We see them every single day.

Click for Lisa O'Donnell's NPR interview here.

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27. starred review

Happy Monday all! I'm going to  start the week with a couple of black and white Illustrations from my upcoming (first!) chapter book Audrey (Cow)


We're celebrating a starred review in Publishers weekly, hurray!

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28. Yell and Shout Cry and Pout by Peggy Kruger Tietz, Ph.D.

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Yell and Shout Cry and Pout by Peggy Kruger Tietz, Ph.D. is a helpful resource to identify emotions: for children, for parents, for teachers, and for a multitude of others. Anger, fear, shame, sadness, happiness, love, disgust, and surprise are featured in this short book that is tall on content.

This book has an excellent style that is repeated as the reader delves into each emotion. The emotion is bold text and is followed by a description of what purpose that emotion serves. Example: “Anger tells us when we’ve been mistreated so we can defend ourselves.” Then a short fictional story is told and the emotion the character is feeling is stated. The book then goes on to say how those feelings might make you feel, how we might react, and finally explains some things that could happen to cause you to feel that emotion. Illustrations by Rebecca Layton appear throughout the text so the reader can visualize what emotion is being discussed. The final page is a Note to Adults that includes interesting facts about emotions.

The back cover blurb states: “When children can identify their feelings they gain self-awareness, become better communicators and are able to ask for the help they need.” I truly believe this book will go a long way in helping children and those around them better understand these emotions.

Highly recommended.

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Title: Yell and Shout, Cry and Pout: A Kid’s Guide to Feelings
Author: Peggy Kruger Tietz
Publisher: Peggy Kruger Tietz
Pages: 40
Genre: Nonfiction/Psychoeducational
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZONPeggy Kruger Tietz

Dr. Peggy Kruger Tietz is a licensed psychologist and maintains a private practice in Austin, Texas.  She sees a wide range of children with normal developmental problems as well as children who have experienced trauma.  Her Ph.D is in developmental psychology from Bryn Mawr College.  Before entering private practice Dr. Tietz treated children in multiple settings, such as family service agencies and foster care.  Dr. Tietz, trained at the Family Institute of Philadelphia, and then taught there.   She specializes in seeing children individually, as well as, with their families.   She has advanced training in Play Therapy as well as being a certified practitioner of EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, for children and adults).   She has conducted workshops on parenting, sibling relationships, and emotional literacy.

Her latest book is the nonfiction/psychoeducational book, Yell and Shout, Cry and Pout: A Kid’s Guide to Feelings.

For More Information

I received a free copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Yell and Shout banner


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29. review: Love Is the Drug

51lxVTCB9uLtitle: Love is the Drug

author: Alaya Dawn Johnson

date:Arthur A. Levine; September, 2004

main character: Emily Bird

 

Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington DC’s elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night.

Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus–something about her parents’ top secret scientific work–something she shouldn’t know.

The only one Bird can trust is Coffee, a quiet, outsider genius who deals drugs to their classmates and is a firm believer in conspiracy theories. And he believes in Bird. But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.

I can’t give as detailed a review as I’d like to on this one because I read it on NetGalley and it’s no longer available to me to refer to.

I read Johnson’s first YA book, Summer Prince, and was looking forward to whatever she’d write next. She did not disappoint. As with Prince, Johnson writes an intelligent book that places us in the midst of her world rather than step by step building it for us.  He female leads are strong, social issues are real and situations creative yet plausible.

Emily Bird is an upper middle class high school senior with college educated parents and a favorite uncle who is a high school dropout. As the flu epidemic spreads, the haves receive what the have nots don’t. Inequity abounds and is up close in Emily’s family. Sure, we know Emily is Black, but the issues here are about class, not race. What really stood out for me with this one was that no male saved Bird, she was able to save herself in a variety of situations.

This is an intelligent book with a black female lead. She knows about contemporary politicals, will be going to college (but which one??) and despite her teen angst and conflictions, is truly her own person. While there are too, too many black girls clamoring for a book of these sensibilities, Johnson’s world is broad and will appeal to all teens who like thought provoking books.

Honestly, as I listen to reports about ebola and watch as it spreads, I see conspiracies all in this mess, thanks to my reading Love is the Drug.

Johnson actually takes readers to black hair issues, actually writes about hair relaxers! Now, I don’t get why Bird applied/s these caustic chemicals to her head with such a severe gash along her hairline and I don’t know why her hair was nappy afterwards, but to go there! to write about the relaxer was something with which I could really identify. And this is why we need writers of color developing characters and stories for all readers. We need intellectual stories, hi/lo books, humorous, adventurous, romantic, mysterious, sporty books that fully represent the growing number of brown children in America. Here, race is authentic while the story is universal.

Once again, Alaya Dawn Johnson crafts a world with numerous problems. She’s not out to solve them, just to keep us on our toes. And that she does!


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: Alaya Dawn Johnson

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30. Now Available – Ten Thankful Turkeys

Turkery Cover

We are so excited to announce the release of our latest children’s book, Ten Thankful Turkeys.  This colorful autumn tale follows ten turkeys as they get ready for an important celebration. This story teaches about gratitude. There are also fun turkey facts in the back of the book.  You can get the kindle version of this book for a special launch price of $.99 for a limited time or FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited.  We also have paperback versions on sale now at Amazon for $8.99.

Be sure to gobble up this deal before it disappears. :-)


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31. Book Review: The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan

cover50965-mediumTitle: The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan

Author: Atia Abawi

Date: Penguin; 2014

main character: Fatima

 

synopsis: Fatima is a Hazara girl, raised to be obedient and dutiful. Samiullah is a Pashtun boy raised to defend the traditions of his tribe. They were not meant to fall in love. But they do. And the story that follows shows both the beauty and the violence in current-day Afghanistan as Fatima and Samiullah fight their families, their cultures and the Taliban to stay together. Based on the people Atia Abawi met and the events she covered during her nearly five years in Afghanistan, this stunning novel is a must-read for anyone who has lived during America’s War in Afghanistan.

I have to admit that the beginning of the book felt very much to me like it was written by an outsider looking in; someone who was taking the American notion of romantic love to another country. Abawi was simply pulling my American sensibility into Afghanistan. The story felt soft and sweet, didn’t I know how this was going to end? Then, Fatima over hears her father talking to her mother about war time atrocities that he committed. This was not going to be an easy read! I had not idea how it was going to end, but I certainly wanted to know!

Abawi writes a story of contemporary Afghanstan, a country caught in crossroads and cross hairs. Abawi writes chapters in alternating voices, disallowing us from conceptualizing a single story for this perplexing country. Abawi develops complex characters that we despise for their actions, yet we know the conflicted rationale that leads them to behave a certain way.

I don’t know the various cultures in Afghanistan, don’t know the rituals of daily life or the nuances of religion and politics. I cannot review the accuracies in that regard. What I do appreciate is that we’re told a story that incorporates multiple perspectives so that readers will not expect those who live in the country to think, behave or live in one certain way. Not many writers would be able to trust their characters to tell this story, but Abawi did. Readers will develop their own judgments about compelling situations, They will approach the book with ideas about social justice, marriage, love and parental rights, yet as Fatima comes of age, the reader will certainly mature along with her. This book is a tough read; I think an important read for teens in our global society. It brings to life the fact that there are no easy answers.

Atia Abawi works as a journalist with CNN. She was stationed in Afghanistan for over 5 years, leaving that position for one in Jerusalem. Abawi was born in Germany and moved to the US when she was one year old. She is still based in the Mideast and The Secret Sky is her first book.

 


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: Atia Abawi, book review, Middle Eastern YA Literature, new author of color

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32. THE AMAZING STORY GENERATOR: Book Review

THE AMAZING STORY GENERATOR
By
Jason Sacher (Chronicle Books 2012 $14.95 hardcover)     1

“Longing for a simpler life, famous Children’s Book Author joins a cult.”
“Penniless after years of rejection, Picture Book Author wannebe, dons a cape and mask to fight crime.”
“During the hottest summer on record, an out- of -work writer refuses to leave the bathtub.”

Are these tabloid headlines or stressed out writers looking for easier ways to earn a living? The answer to those questions just might be the basis of your next story.
The concept of THE AMAZING STORY GENERATOR is unique and simple. You choose a prompt from each of three sections set up in a flip-book style – a setting, a character, and a conflict. Written down, it becomes your “elevator pitch” and the start of a story, novel, screenplay or picture book.

This book is entertaining to read in and of itself. Passing it around among family members left all of us laughing and contemplating all sorts of possible scenarios. At its best, this book is a perfect when you need a jump start for a story, a new idea, or a way out of writer’s block. It’s a useful format for summing up your own stories or novels that are ready to be “pitched” to editors and agents. You can create thousands of different prompts and storylines. I found that practicing the format opens up endless ideas.        3

Here’s an example using one setting, one character, and several conflicts:
“Suddenly able to hear others’ thoughts, a spoiled teenager solves a ten year old murder, OR robs a series of banks, OR wakes up in a strange house.”
Do the same thing by varying the settings or characters and you can see the endless possibilities. Who knows, you could have the formula for the next mystery/sci-fi/YA thriller.
THE AMAZING STORY GENERATOR is the perfect addition to any creative writing program and should be part of every storytellers library.
“Inspired by THE AMAZING STORY GENERATOR, a children’s author writes the next bestseller.”
It could happen. Even if it doesn’t, think of what a great story it would make.


1 Comments on THE AMAZING STORY GENERATOR: Book Review, last added: 10/3/2014
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33. The Tall Tales of Talbot Toluca takes home a 2014 Moonbeam Award!

We are excited to announce that the all-ages  adventure book, The Tall Tales of Talbot Toluca – Quest For The Ore Crystals, is the recipient of a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Award. The kickstarter funded project combines the fun visual style of comics with interactive puzzles and games, resulting in an all out adventure for all ages. Now available for purchase via our online shop and also on Amazon.com

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Moonbeam_LR Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards Results

“Celebrating Youthful Curiosity, Discovery and Learning through Books and Learning”

Jenkins Group is proud to announce the winners of the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. Launched in 2007, the awards are intended to bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and to celebrate children’s books and life-long reading. Congratulations to all the winners!

This year’s Moonbeam Awards medal ceremony will be held in conjunction with the 5th annual Traverse City Children’s Book Festival, on Saturday, November 8, 2014.

Listed below are the Moonbeam Spirit Award winners, followed by the seventh annual 2014 Moonbeam Awards results, listed by category, and Ebook category winners.

Creating books that inspire our children to read, to learn, and to dream is an extremely important task, and these awards were conceived to reward those efforts. Each year’s entries are judged by expert panels of youth educators, librarians, booksellers, and book reviewers of all ages. Award recipients receive gold, silver and bronze medals and stickers depicting a mother and child reading and silhouetted by a full moon.

Congratulations to all the winners!

http://www.independentpublisher.com/article.php?page=1862

 

 

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34. The Summer Wind by Mary Alice Monroe

cover46837-medium

 

The Summer Wind is the second book in Monroe’s Lowcountry Summer trilogy, following the New York Times bestselling The Summer Girls. This series is a poignant and heartwarming story of three half-sisters and their grandmother, who is determined to help them rediscover their southern roots and family bonds.

It’s midsummer and Eudora, nicknamed Dora, is staying at Sea Breeze, the family’s ancestral home on Sullivan’s Island. For years, Dora has played the role of the perfect wife and mother in a loveless marriage. Now her husband filed for divorce, her child is diagnosed with autism, and her house is on the market. Dora’s facade collapses under the weight of her grief and she suffers “broken heart syndrome.” Mamaw and the girls rally around Dora—but it’s up to Dora to heal herself as she spends the summer prowling the beach, discovering the secrets of the island and her heart. This is a summer of discovery for all the women of Sea Breeze. Carson returns from Florida to face life-changing decisions, Lucille confronts a health scare, and an unexpected visitor has Harper reconsidering her life’s direction.

When tropical storm winds batter the island, the women must band together and weather the tempest—both the one outside their windows and the raging sea of emotions within each of them. They must learn again what it means to be a sister. It is up to Mamaw to keep the light burning at Sea Breeze to guide the girls through the lies, the threats, and the rocky waters of indecision to home.

A great novel to help you keep those fleeting summer feelings alive and well as we approach fall and winter. Monroe easily transports her readers to a summer-state-of-mind. She also tackles very real, very poignant life issues. You will find yourself learning and growing through Dora’s journey. I could not put this one down!

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35. The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

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THE SHIP OF BRIDES by Jojo Moyes

 

1946. Four women from Australia are bound for England along with 650 other war brides on the HMS Victoria. This ship is not only transporting brides, but naval officers as well. Rules of honor, duty, and separation are strictly enforced but what happens within the confines of this ship will leave a lasting impact on all of their lives. A gorgeous historical novel told from the point of view of four unforgettable women; pregnant Margaret, wealthy Avice, teenage Jean and quiet Frances. Frances was by far my favorite character but I was fascinated by all of the women Jojo Moyes created. The Ship of Brides is based on real events, women traveling great distances by sea to meet up with their GI-husbands, most leaving their entire family behind for men they barely knew. Jojo Moyes is steadily becoming one of my favorite authors and the stories she weaves are absolutely stunning in detail with honest characters, captivating plots, and superb writing.

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36. Book Review: Sketching from Square One to Trafalgar Square


Richard Scott's new book, "Sketching - from Square One to Trafalgar Square" is a comprehensive introduction to drawing from observation.


The book presents practical advice for achieving accuracy, including measuring angles and organizing value shapes. One tip is that you can size up an appropriate cone of vision by holding your arms out at the width of your shoulders in front of you.

Scott includes a variety of excellent examples of sketch techniques, including pen and ink, marker, pencil, and wash drawing, all in black and white.


He discusses not only linear perspective, but also the simplification of a subject into tonal shapes, with fresh ideas that will appeal to painters, too. He acknowledges not only objective features of the scene, but also subjective aspects of visual perception, such as how certain edges go in and out of focus when you squint.


Scott's background is in architectural rendering, so he approaches subjects from the built environment with particular authority.

Although his approach is clear and analytical, it's not just technical. He has an artist's eye throughout. One of the inspiring qualities of the book is the focus on conveying feeling, and the emphasis on digging into why a subject appeals to you in the first place and how to play up that emotional quality.


The book lays out useful methods that anyone can use to see better, think better, and draw better. The result is a practical drawing manual that is a worthy successor of classic sketching books by Betty Edwards and Arthur Guptill, one that will improve the drawing skills of the beginner and master sketcher alike.
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Details: 192 pages, 8" x 10" (horizontal format), softcover (with covers that are a bit too thin, unfortunately). The book is organized into three parts, with 10 chapters and 419 illustrations. It is priced at $29.95.-----
Available on Amazon: Sketching - from Square One to Trafalgar Square
Official website: Sketching from Square One

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37. Three Great Books For Children

I’ve been reading a lot of great children’s books lately and want to tell you about three I recently enjoyed.

1. DON’T TURN THE PAGE by Rachelle Burk (Creston Books) – is a delightful PB about a young hedgehog named Sami who wants mama to read her a story as she gets ready for bed, but tries to prolong the routine by telling Mama “Don’t turn the page.”  Sami’s curiosity makes her question what happens next as she peeks at the next page of the story.  It’s the perfect tale for little ones who are reluctant to say goodnight.

2. EDGAR’S SECOND WORD by Audrey Vernick: This delightful PB tells the tale of a little girl who longs for a baby brother to play with and teach things to.  When Edgar finally arrives, Hazel is disappointed because he can’t talk or do much of anything until one day when he learns his first word.  It is NOT what Hazel expected at all! A charming story for any child waiting for a sibling to be big enough to play with.

3. JUNIPER BERRY by M. P. Kozlowsky: This MG novel is a spooky and engaging tale of a lonely girl whose famous acting parents are acting even stranger than usual.  Once loving and attentive, they’ve now forgotten Juniper is even around. One day she finds them sneaking out after dark toward an old, sinister looking tree.  What is it about that tree – and the blackbird that lives in it – that makes her parents behave so strangely?  Juniper is determined to find out, before it’s too late.

Check out these books and all the other wonderful titles that can be found at your local library or bookstore.  Start the school year off with a great story!


1 Comments on Three Great Books For Children, last added: 9/24/2014
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38. The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick

red sheetWhat if you woke up one morning a totally different person? Even more intriguing–you think you were a major jerk, but you don’t know why. Oh, and then you have a strong desire to tie a red sheet around your neck and begin rescuing trapped kittens out of trees and helping old ladies across the street.

The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick is a fascinating young adult novel that creates a unique “what if?” scenario. Bryan Dennison wakes up one morning and he’s a totally different person. Once a superjock, self-centered bully, the new Bryan is respectful to his mother, neighborly, and working hard at school. He’s also attracted to Scott Beckett, the former victim of his bullying, even though he can’t remember much about his relationship with Scott prior to his sudden change. As Bryan struggles to put the pieces together of who he used to be, Scott is not interested in anything the new and improved Bryan has to offer.

I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like this before. It is superb. Kerick puts together an intriguing novel where the main character shares his story the way in which it unfolded in front of him. What happened to him is so powerful, he must share it. The reader is asking the same questions that Bryan is considering at each point in the story. What happened before his change? Why was Bryan such an obnoxious jerk? What caused him to change? Why can’t he remember the way he acted toward Scott Beckett?  And once everything is revealed, the reader might be more shocked than Bryan was.

My only nitpick is that there was too much swearing for my taste. It might be realistic, but I don’t care for it. The same story could be told with that aspect toned down and still have a great impact.

The Red Sheet is an excellent novel about bullying, being comfortable in your own skin, seeking forgiveness and being able to forgive. Its message is inspiring. Its plot unique. I think this is going to be a very popular book within its target market and beyond.

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Mia Kerick’s Web Site:
http://miakerick.com/

Mia Kerick’s Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/mia.kerick

Mia Kerick’s Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6474518.Mia_Kerick?from_search=true

Mia Kerick’s YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a1Q093gJ1E

Mia Kerick’s Blog:
http://miakerick.com/blog/

The Red Sheet Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20619717-the-red-sheet

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tribute-Books-Blog-Tours/242431245775186

The Red Sheet blog tour site:
http://theredsheetblogtour.blogspot.com/

Prices/Formats: $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Genre: Young Adult
Pages:
190
Release:
February 20, 2014
Publisher:
Harmony Ink Press
ISBN:
9781627987219


Amazon buy link:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IJQS6KS?tag=tributebooks-20

Barnes and Noble buy link:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-sheet-mia-kerick/1118710756?ean=9781627987158

Dreamspinner Press buy link:
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4725

All Romance buy link:

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-theredsheet-1404989-149.html

 

miaMia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

My themes I always write about:
Sweetness. Unconventional love, tortured/damaged heroes- only love can save them

Chance to win a $25 Amazon.com gift card (or PayPal cash)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

red sheet banner


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39. The Protected by Claire Zorn

Hannah’s world is in pieces and she doesn’t need the school counsellor to tell her she has deep-seated psychological issues. With a seriously depressed mum, an injured dad and a dead sister, who wouldn’t have problems? 

Hannah should feel terrible but for the first time in ages, she feels a glimmer of hope and isn’t afraid anymore. Is it because the elusive Josh is taking an interest in her? Or does it run deeper than that? 

In a family torn apart by grief and guilt, one girl’s struggle to come to terms with years of torment shows just how long old wounds can take to heal.

The Protected covers well-worn Young Adult territory: a mysterious death that has devastated a family (the circumstances of which are gradually revealed), parents without the capacity to actually parent, a troubled outsider working through grief with the aid of a kindly counsellor, a nice empathetic boy showing up. The subject matter could lean towards melodrama or predictability, but it doesn't - Hannah's voice is genuine, and there's a real credibility to the story. The emotions of the characters and the family dynamics are written with subtlety, and it's easy to become absorbed in Hannah's story.

I really enjoyed Claire Zorn's debut The Sky So Heavy, a very thought-provoking dystopian that's now made a bunch of shortlists (deservedly so). The Protected is similarly thought-provoking, and though both are set in the Blue Mountains, The Protected is very much grounded in our reality.

There's a real complexity and authenticity to the relationships within the novel, especially in the relationship between Hannah and her sister, Katie, who has passed away pre-novel and with whom Hannah had a very difficult relationship. Now, after Katie's death, she feels conflicted. The narrative jumps between the present and the past, Hannah's memories of Katie and being bullied and the lead-up to the accident. Hannah's bullying and Katie's behaviour are at times teeth-grindingly (pretend that's a word, it's the best way I can think of to describe it) awful, and Hannah is a sympathetic protagonist - so it's wonderful when things begin looking up for her, and people are kind (namely the school counsellor and Josh).

Even though Hannah's parents are consumed by grief, they are present in the novel, and Hannah's mother in particular is very well-portrayed. Hannah's parents were as real and as easy to empathise with as Hannah herself. The Protected is ultimately hopeful but it is a very dark and sad novel - focusing on bullying and devastating grief - so perhaps not one to pick up if you're after a light read. Good for a cry. I'm very much looking forward to what Claire Zorn writes next.

The Protected on the publisher's website

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40. book review: Shieldwolf Dawning

title: Shieldwolf Dawning516+sRTYYpL._AA160_

author: Selena Nemorin

date: Astraea Press; 2014

main character: Samarra

Shieldwolf Dawning is the first in a new speculative fiction series by Selena Nemorin. Samarra and her brother, Cassian, have been moved to Gaia, a planet with a deteriorating natural environment and are being raised by the Sairfangs after the death of the children’s parents. Their step-parent’s wealth protects them from the pollution and scarcities and provides Cassian with the best education money can buy. Samarra is stuck at home cleaning and doing chores. As sexist as this situation seems, it has more to do with Cassian’s future position in life rather than the fact that he’s a male. Samarra despises her situation. She’s impetuous and curious. Given the opportunity to leave her situation, she talks her brother into escaping with her. And so begins their adventure.

The book rattled my attention the mention of ‘all-terrain aircraft’!  Written in third person, the author still confines herself to the limited perception of the main character. That annoys me! Use that voice to fully develop a story with multiple character’s perspectives and with rich settings or stick to first person. Cassian is poorly developed which is tragic given how important he becomes at the end of the book. Time sequences were unequal in length and there were too many detailed situations that were never developed.

Shieldwolf Dawning is unique in two ways. First, it gives us an adventurous female of color  with blue dreads who often saves herself in situations. Second, it’s steeped in philosophy. Where knowledge of the field could provide a stronger appreciation for the book, I had none. I suspect that most teens without this knowledge will be as frustrated as I was with Samarra and never really invest in the story. She repeatedly wanders into situations that end up with negative consequences. Maybetwo-thirds of the way into the book when I was really tired of her doing this over and over again and I began to think that these wanderings might have something to do with stages of intellectual or moral development and that these curiosities were purposeful in her growth. This seemed to make sense to me when Samarra reasoned about moral judgment, truth and honestly.

Sheildwolf Dawning is an ambitious book that doesn’t quite reach it’s potential.


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: fantasy

1 Comments on book review: Shieldwolf Dawning, last added: 9/19/2014
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41. book review: Shieldwolf Dawning

title: Shieldwolf Dawning516+sRTYYpL._AA160_

author: Selena Nemorin

date: Astraea Press; 2014

main character: Samarra

Shieldwolf Dawning is the first in a new speculative fiction series by Selena Nemorin. Samarra and her brother, Cassian, have been moved to Gaia, a planet with a deteriorating natural environment and are being raised by the Sairfangs after the death of the children’s parents. Their step-parent’s wealth protects them from the pollution and scarcities and provides Cassian with the best education money can buy. Samarra is stuck at home cleaning and doing chores. As sexist as this situation seems, it has more to do with Cassian’s future position in life rather than the fact that he’s a male. Samarra despises her situation. She’s impetuous and curious. Given the opportunity to leave her situation, she talks her brother into escaping with her. And so begins their adventure.

The book rattled my attention the mention of ‘all-terrain aircraft’!  Written in third person, the author still confines herself to the limited perception of the main character. That annoys me! Use that voice to fully develop a story with multiple character’s perspectives and with rich settings or stick to first person. Cassian is poorly developed which is tragic given how important he becomes at the end of the book. Time sequences were unequal in length and there were too many detailed situations that were never developed.

Shieldwolf Dawning is unique in two ways. First, it gives us an adventurous female of color  with blue dreads who often saves herself in situations. Second, it’s steeped in philosophy. Where knowledge of the field could provide a stronger appreciation for the book, I had none. I suspect that most teens without this knowledge will be as frustrated as I was with Samarra and never really invest in the story. She repeatedly wanders into situations that end up with negative consequences. Maybetwo-thirds of the way into the book when I was really tired of her doing this over and over again and I began to think that these wanderings might have something to do with stages of intellectual or moral development and that these curiosities were purposeful in her growth. This seemed to make sense to me when Samarra reasoned about moral judgment, truth and honestly.

Sheildwolf Dawning is an ambitious book that doesn’t quite reach it’s potential.


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: fantasy

0 Comments on book review: Shieldwolf Dawning as of 9/16/2014 10:06:00 PM
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42. Product Review: Travel Brush Set

Yesterday I did a painting using the Richeson Travel Brush Set, a collection of short handled brushes that come in their own stiff protective case.

The case opens to display the brushes while you're working. Each brush tucks into its own elastic holding strap. I like to drape the case over the left page of the sketchbook while I'm working. Turned inside out, the case can also set up on the ground like the letter A, with the cord holding it open at the desired angle. When it's closed up in travel mode, a magnet clasp secures it.


Here's the painting I did with those brushes, using gouache (opaque watercolor). I thoroughly documented the making of the painting on video, and it will be one segment of the next DVD/download called "Gouache in the Wild."


The brush set includes four rounds (sizes 2, 4, 6, and 8) and three flats (sizes 1/4", 1/2" and 3/4"). The combination of brush sizes gave me everything I needed, even for the fine details of the neon supports and wires. The close-up detail above is about an inch and a half square.

I have used the brushes for several paintings now, and I've tried them with watercolor, gouache, and casein.

They're are all made of synthetic fibers, which is what you want for casein especially (the ammonia in casein is hard on brushes). The flats don't hold as much liquid as an equivalently sized sable brush. These are more chisels than mops. They have just the right amount of spring, and so far, they have held their points and edges.

You can get the Richeson Travel Brush Set from a variety of art suppliers, including Daniel Smith, Cheap Joe's, and Dick Blick. 

The set of seven brushes, complete with their case, retail for $79.95, but on Amazon the set is discounted to $38, which is an amazing deal. 

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43. Guest Book Review: Saving Wombats by Emma Homes

wombatsPrint Length: 53 pages
Publisher: Spark Street Communications Pty Ltd (June 25, 2014)
ASIN: B00LB8ZDG6
Age Level: 8 – 11 | Grade Level: 3 – 6
Juvenile Fiction/Wildlife

Five Stars

Ruthie, dad Tom and mum Kate, along with Ruthie’s younger siblings, Liam and Bel, and their pet wombat Womble are en route to her cousins’ farm to spend a lovely holiday in the countryside. Up ahead they see a sad sight: a wombat has been run over by a speeding truck. Ruthie’s parents stop to check the animal and discover it has a tiny baby in its pouch. The baby is still alive. Luckily, the Jirringbah Wildlife Shelter is on the same route and soon they get the baby, called a pinky, to Jo Matthews who shows the kids how to take care of the pinky. While they are there, the kids learn a lot about Australia’s wildlife and some of the skin diseases that can affect these animals; one is a horrible disease called mange! Ruthie doesn’t want to admit that soon Womble will be old enough to be released into the wild – imagine if he gets a nasty, itchy skin condition from the mange. Once they get to their cousins, the kids find out more about wombats and mange because there is a wombat on the farm that looks as if it has a bad case of mange. Medication can cure the condition, but it’s catching the animal and applying the medication regularly that’s the problem. Wombats are also pretty quick when it comes to getting away! With the help of some wildlife experts and her Uncle Dave, they devise a clever way of getting the medication onto the skin of the elusive wombat. Will the medicine cure this sick wombat? Will Ruthie be able to release Womble back into the wild?

Saving Wombats by Emma Homes is the second book in Ruthie’s Wildlife series. Ruthie is a great role model for kids since she is a Zoo Youth Ambassador. With wild animal habitats declining worldwide because of human encroachment, it’s important for today’s kids to learn about animals, and to care for them and respect their rights. This is a charming tale that will appeal to its target audience. Author Emma Homes turns Ruthie’s family trip into quite an adventure – wombats may look cute and cuddly, but don’t get on the wrong side of them or try to invade their burrows! There is a wonderful warm atmosphere between the characters of Ruthie’s family and the people they meet. Ruthie and her siblings are real and believable and any parent would be proud of them. In this simple tale an amazing adventure unfolds, with the kids committed to helping animals. The author cleverly feeds necessary information into the story so that by the end of the book young readers will have learned an amazing number of facts about wombats. I really loved reading this!

Purchase here!

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.


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44. Harry and the Monster by Sue Mongredien

harryWhen it comes to bedtime, helping youngsters deal with nightmares can be tough. Harry and the Monster is a delightful and funny book that just might help.

The first night, Harry has a bad dream about a scary monster. Each night afterwards, he is afraid the monster will interrupt his dreams. No matter what Mom and Dad suggest, that monster keeps ruining all his dreams and wakes him up. But one night, Harry thinks he and Dad have come up with a great solution to change everything.

Both of my girls went through nightmare stages. I wish I had this book back then. Mongredien is smart to tackle the monster issue with ideas other parents have probably used in the past: Mom says to imagine him wearing something silly so he won’t be so scary, Dad checks under the bed to make sure he’s not there, etc. This  helps the story make sense to kids. Their parents have probably told them some of the same things.

East also makes this book work by drawing the monster and his antics in such a zany manner that kids will be laughing more than scared of what’s going on, all the while relating to Harry’s fears about the monster.

I loved this book beginning to end.

Highly recommended!

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Tiger Tales (September 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1589251466
ISBN-13: 978-1589251465

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.


0 Comments on Harry and the Monster by Sue Mongredien as of 9/5/2014 3:26:00 AM
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45. Harry and the Monster by Sue Mongredien

harryWhen it comes to bedtime, helping youngsters deal with nightmares can be tough. Harry and the Monster is a delightful and funny book that just might help.

The first night, Harry has a bad dream about a scary monster. Each night afterwards, he is afraid the monster will interrupt his dreams. No matter what Mom and Dad suggest, that monster keeps ruining all his dreams and wakes him up. But one night, Harry thinks he and Dad have come up with a great solution to change everything.

Both of my girls went through nightmare stages. I wish I had this book back then. Mongredien is smart to tackle the monster issue with ideas other parents have probably used in the past: Mom says to imagine him wearing something silly so he won’t be so scary, Dad checks under the bed to make sure he’s not there, etc. This  helps the story make sense to kids. Their parents have probably told them some of the same things.

East also makes this book work by drawing the monster and his antics in such a zany manner that kids will be laughing more than scared of what’s going on, all the while relating to Harry’s fears about the monster.

I loved this book beginning to end.

Highly recommended!

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Tiger Tales (September 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1589251466
ISBN-13: 978-1589251465

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.


0 Comments on Harry and the Monster by Sue Mongredien as of 9/5/2014 6:16:00 AM
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46. Call for Submissions: Sugar Mule

Sugar Mule, an online literary magazine open to all genres, invites submissions for Issue 47, guest edited by Alyse Knorr. Please send poetry, fiction, non-fiction, art, book reviews, and hybrid works of all forms, themes, and subjects--we look forward to reading your work.
Please e-mail your submission of no more than 5 unpublished poems or no more than 7,000 words of unpublished prose, as one MSWord or RTF document, to:

alyse.knorr.sugarmuleATgmailDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )

between September 1 and December 1. NOTE: do not send submissions after this date. Art and book reviews will also be considered.  

Please include a short bio and introductory note. Friends and former students of the editor should please refrain from submitting.  

Sugar Mule does not pay for accepted work(s) at this time. You retain all rights to your work; we retain none. 

About Sugar Mule:
Sugar Mule is a long-standing online literary magazine with more than 40 issues and extras like online books and anthology-sized special issues. Sugar Mule is published about three times a year and is open to all forms of poetry and prose. Recent contributors have included Deborah Poe, Ryan Eckes, Molly Gaudry, Travis Macdonald, j/j hastain, Duane Locke, Jessica Dyer, Tyler Mills, Sheila Black, and Laura Madeline Wiseman. Visit our website for more information.
 

About the guest editor:
Alyse Knorr is the author of Copper Mother (Switchback Books, 2015), Annotated Glass (Furniture Press Books, 2013), and the chapbook Alternates (Dancing Girl Press 2014). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Hayden's Ferry Review, Caketrain, Drunken Boat, ZYZZYVA, and The Southern Poetry Anthology, among others. She received her MFA from George Mason University. She is a co-founding editor of Gazing Grain Press and teaches at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

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47. Copycat Bear! by Ellie Sandall

The game of copycat takes a funny and sweet turn in Copycat Bear! by Ellie Sandall.

Mango is a bird who has a bebearar friend name Blue. Blue likes to copy everything Mango does like hopping, flying, and singing. But Mango finds it so annoying that she flies away. By the evening, Mango has a change of heart and learns to appreciate how you can be different, but still best friends.

This delightful book focuses on friendship. Blue frustrates Mango by trying to copy her, but once they are apart, Mango realizes how much she enjoys Blue’s company. Sandall has written and illustrated this wonderful book, bringing to life the concept of appreciating our differences and being able to become friends again after a disagreement. The soft, warm colors are as comforting as when Mango snuggles up to Blue at the end of the story.

This is a sweet book that will make a great addition to any home library.

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Tiger Tales (September 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1589251202
ISBN-13: 978-1589251205

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.


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48. Talking Books with Oprah

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49. Telephone


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50. Team Human by Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier

Mel and Cathy and Anna have passed vampires on the street, and sat near them in cinemas, but they don't know any. Vampires stick to their own kind, and Mel and her friends hang out with other humans - until a vampire boy in a bizarre sun-proof suit shows up at school and captures Cathy's heart.

Mel is horrified. Can she convince Cathy that life with a vampire is no life at all? Should she? And then all her assumptions about vampires are turned on their head when she meets Kit, a boy who makes her laugh - a boy with a very unusual family history.

Will Mel's staunch anti-vampire stance jeopardise her closest friendships? And where does Kit fit in? In the end, who will choose...Team Human?


This novel was published in 2012, and I initially read it last year, but never wrote up my thoughts on it. I don't read a ton of paranormal romance these days (and it hasn't really appealed to me as a genre since I was thirteen or fourteen), but when I revisited Team Human I thought it was such an excellent example of YA paranormal romance done right that I wanted to share my rambly, rambly thoughts on it.

What I loved about Team Human was that it functioned both as a satirical take on the entire young adult vampire fiction phenomenon/subgenre and as a really enjoyable and immensely readable novel about vampires, that was as humorous as it was thought-provoking. I am not a fan of vampire romance, love triangles, or angsty, angsty undead old guys who look like young men. If you aren't either, Team Human is well worth reading - I think it'll appeal to paranormal romance fans and non-paranormal romance fans alike. It's much more about friendship than it is about romance, and that's something I really appreciated. Despite the fact that Mel and Cathy live in a place where vampires exist among them, there's a real authenticity and realism to their lives - their parents are actually around and interested in them, they don't have unlimited money or cars, they go to a public school and do their homework and are otherwise pretty normal teenagers, making them a lot easier to relate to.

Mel is an at times unsympathetic protagonist - she is so vehemently opposed to vampires she can be pretty nasty - but who grows a great deal over the course of the novel and loses at least some of her prejudice. The cover is less-than-stellar, and the US cover uses the same models, and possibly is even worse. I think it's awesome that all the central characters aren't super-white - Mel is Chinese-American - and that that's represented on the cover, but the guy in the background is... creepy. So, ignore the cover. Unless you like it! I'm a big fan of the tagline, though, and it sums up pretty accurately what the book is about - friends not letting friends date vampires.

There's no alternating point-of-view one might expect in a co-written novel; the narration is seamless, and it's an easy read. Plus: there's zombies. You know how much I love zombies. If you don't: I love zombies. A lot. Not in real life. Please, never in real life. But in stories, yes. Every film, TV show and novel could be improved by the addition of zombies. I'm really hoping that a sequel to Team Human eventually shows up, because I'd love to find out what happens after the ending, and I'd love to see how Cathy's story in particular continues.

Team Human on the publisher's website.

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