Thursday, October 29, 2020

Adult Book Club Pick: The Mountains Sing


Poetic, but difficult for me. This book triggered a few things for me. I was a child growing up in Okinawa, Japan, at the same time period the author writes about. Viet Nam was next door, and our Air Force base at Kadena kept our airspace safe over our island. I remember sonic booms on a daily basis and U.S. fighter jets in the air all the time.

It's a story of family, loss, love and hardship. A gritty, real read which may prove hard to read for anyone with ties to the Viet Nam era.

Five stars for a great story which was tough to read. 
Highly recommended for adult book clubs. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Reluctant Reader Pick: What Is the Story of Dracula?


What Is the Story of Dracula?

by Michael Burgan 

Illustrations by David Malan 

Penguin Workshop

Penguin Kids


107 pages with bibliography

ISBN: 9781524788469

A fascinating, easy-to-read account of a real life person in history that Bram Stoker based his famous story on. Dracula means "son of Dracul" and has two meanings: devil or dragon in the language of a small village of Wallachia, Romania. Stoker had grown up with stories of zombies and the living dead as a boy in rural Ireland, and he was fascinated by tales of folklore. The fact that Stoker made Dracula a Count gave his title character access available to uncommon wealth, castles and land. Dracula could easily move about the country without raising any questions. Stoker's story was not a huge hit in his lifetime, but many versions of Dracula have made the story live on after his death, becoming more famous on stage, in books and on film. 

Considered the most famous version is the performance by Bela Lugosi in 1931.  Lugosi stands as the epitome of the character. Today, Dracula and vampires are still popular culture. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," books by Anne Rice, and the "Twilight" series are proof that Count Dracula and Stoker's legacy lives on. 

Highly recommended for reluctant readers, chapter book readers, emerging readers, ELL, and anyone who loves the horror genre and vampires. Grade 5 and up. 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Nanowrimo Begins November 3, 2020! Write Your Novel in ONE MONTH!!

 Write a novel in ONE MONTH!! 

That's right/write! You have one month, but if you write words every day, you will finish a novel. Here is everything you need to know  You can have friends join you or meet your community. Virtual writing events and help is everywhere! Share with your friends on social media! Let's have a great month! 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Girl, Unframed


Girl Unframed

Deb Caletti

Simon Pulse


368 pages

ISBN: 978153442697

     Sixteen-year old Sydney feels on the verge of something big; she calls the something “it.” It is going to happen, and she can feel it. She’s not excited to be spending the summer with her has-been film star mother even though her vacation involves living in a fantastic mansion on the beach. Sydney knows how it will go: her mother will ignore her (mostly), go on shopping sprees, and play the femme fatale for her “fans.” Lila Shore has always been unreachable for Sydney. Worshipped by millions, Lila is enslaved by her beauty and sex appeal. When her star, youth, and beauty begin to wane, and her daughter’s beauty begins to be noticed, Lila feels threatened. To make matters worse, Lila’s living with volatile and abusive Jake, a true bad guy who deals in stolen art and has nefarious connections. 

     One night can change your life. One act. One action.Although this book has been marketed as a “thriller,” it does not have the fast-pace and implosion a thriller is expected to have. Sydney spends most of the book worrying about how people view her (men and boys, mostly). Her thoughts about her body filling out and maturing seem more tween than teen, although her insight is mature enough. The sweetness and swoony-ness you’d expect from a romance is lacking and falls flat. The quality of writing and the author’s prior books will insure teen readers consider this book. 

Recommended for readers of Deb Caletti grade 8 and up. Mature situations. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Picture Book Pick: Every Little Letter


Every Little Letter

by Deborah Underwood

Illustrated by Joy Hwang Ruiz

Dial Books For Young Readers

Penguin Random House


40 pages

ISBN: 9780525554028


What an uplifting, positive read! This is not an alphabet book although letters are the characters. In a walled city of capital H's, everyone is the same: they are happy and protected. One curious little h wonders about the world outside the walls: what do others look like? Are there others? Are they like me? 

She finds a small opening in the wall and spots an i. The two letters reach through the wall, and realize: TOGETHER, we are something entirely new: HI! The big H's are not happy and wall up the hole. Soon, other letters in other cities are sending messages to each other. Little h realizes if she can't go through the wall, there may be another way. 

As the smaller case letters teach the big letters to reach out and listen to others, the walls between all the letters come down. This isn't a book about letters. It's a book about reaching out to others who are different, listening to what they say, learning about them and living in harmony with them. 

What a beautiful book for all times! We need this book right now! You need this book right now! The world needs this book right now! 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Middle Grade Pick: The Artifact Hunters


The Artifact Hunters

by Janet Fox


Penguin Random House LLC

371 pages

ISBN: 9780451478696

In this sequel to The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, author Janet Fox weaves history with middle grade fantasy. Set mostly in WWII, young Isaac Wolf must flee war-torn Prague, the Nazis and evil spirits who are after him. Although it is not necessary to read the first book, it is helpful. I would advise reading the books in order. 

As the war threatens and Prague is falling, before Isaac's parents disappear, they give him a pendant, an eternity knot, which they are sure will keep him safe. It leads Isaac to Rookskill Castle where a band of magical kids are learning to use their powers to help the Allies win the war. Isaac soon finds himself on a quest to travel through time (with an antique watch) and find magical artifacts that will save him, his family, and the world. Trouble is: Isaac isn't the only one searching for the artifacts. 

The cover has spooky Scooby Doo appeal (look at that friendly, big dog!), and middle grade readers will love all the hints they can pick up from the cover alone. Who doesn't want to read a book with dragons, wolves, creepy, evil spirits, ancient scrolls, magic potions, swords, a huge stone castle set in an eerie woods? It is refreshing to have a Jewish main character in middle grade fantasy, and I love that Janet FOX names him Isaac WOLF!  

Recommended for kids who love fantasy and magic schools. Grade 5 and up. Be sure and read The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle first. 

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Halloween Pick: We're Going On a Goon Hunt


We're Going On a Goon Hunt: A Petrifying Parody

by Michael Rex

Illustrated by the author 

G.P. Putnam's Sons



40 pages

ISGN: 9781984813626

Captivating comic cover art depicts a friendly-looking green monster following the kids and their dad as they go off on an adventure: a goon hunt! They wander into a forest, a swamp, a graveyard and a haunted house only to find what they came looking for: a goon! They have to run! Back through the graveyard, back through the swamp, back through the forest and back to the safety of their beds...but! Beware! (no spoilers here!) 

Young readers will squeal with delight as monsters are revealed lurking on each page. Their pet dog wearing a hot dog costume is sheer genius! The dog's personality is featured in each illustration as he shakes in terror, runs in fear, holds the flashlight as if his life depended on it. Michale Rex truly knows how to tickle the young reader's (and their parents)! 

 A MUST HAVE for young readers who love a Halloween story: doesn't everyone??? 

Highly recommended! 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Losing the Light

                        This is a poem/song lyrics I wrote for an entry in Fall Writing Frenzy 2020 

Entrants were asked to choose an image and write a piece about that image. This is the image that inspired my writing:

                                                                Losing the Light

                                        --Thompson McLeod

Running scared, running fast

Path to nowhere, stepping into the past

Not giving up, not giving in

Absolution for my sins

Running fast, running scared

Only one thought, only one prayer.

Let me be the answer you see

Let me be the road to the free

Let me be what you seek: your key

Let me be your shining star, your burning sun, your turbulent sea

Losing the fight

This is the path to nowhere

Trying to make it right

Let me be the reason you care

Running fast, running scared

Not giving in, casting out sin

With only one prayer:

Let me be the answer you see

Let me be the road to the free

Let me be what you seek: your key

Let me be your star, your sun, your sparkling sea.

Losing the light, 

I know this path leads to somewhere

Don’t stop, put in the fight

Wait for me, I’ll be there

I need your light

This is the road to somewhere

Wait for me to make it right.

                                And this is my badge of honor:


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Middle Grade Series Pick: How To Get Away With Myrtle


How To Get Away With Myrtle

A Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery, Book 2

by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Algonguin Young Readers 


352 pages

ISBN: 9781616200193

Available October 6, 2020

Myrtle dreads going on an excursion with her overbearing Aunt Helena and governess Miss Judson while Father is away in Paris with a forensic science symposium. Her dad wants her far away from the gossip and newspapers about the murder she helped solve. It's embarrassing enough a twelve-year old child showed up the police, but a meddlesome GIRL! 

Myrtle sets off with her governess Miss Judson, cat Peony, pushy Aunt Helena and her aunt's traveling companion (maid) Miss Highsmith. They board a fancy new train: The Empress Express to travel to the seashore. Myrtle dreads the trip, the luggage, her bathing dress, the terrible, foppish hat she's forced to wear as part of her raveling ensemble. She can't stand being imprisoned on a train with her obnoxious aunt, but one thing's for sure! Myrtle doesn't miss anything. Not even the tiniest clue. 

As the train gets underway, dinner is served. After dinner, the ladies and men retire to their separate lounges. The train owner's daughter shows the ladies a fabulous tiara valued at over five thousand dollars. Suddenly, the lights go out, there is confusion, and when the lights come back on, the tiara is gone! Myrtle is thrilled to follow clues to find the thief and soon partners with insurance investigator, Mrs. Bloom. 

When Mrs. Blooms fails to show up at breakfast the next morning, Myrtle is concerned. She goes by her cabin and finds no one has slept there. Worried now, Myrtle takes Mrs. Bloom's bag with her notes and papers. As the porters begin offloading baggage, a body is found. It's Mrs. Bloom! Myrtle is horrified her new friend has been murdered and even more horrified when the constable arrests her Aunt Helena whose shears were the murder weapon. 

Myrtle and her governess set out to solve the murder, the theft and possible insurance fraud. Myrtle is quick-witted, worldly, wise beyond her years, well-read in law, medicine, detection and forensic science. She is a fun main character readers will not forget, and fans of book one will love this second installment. The publisher recommends ages ten and up, but younger readers may not understand the terms of insurance, fraud, and the penalties of law. 

Recommended grade 6 and up and fans of Premeditated Myrtle (book 1). 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

YA Pick: The Inheritance Games (Review Coming Soon!)


The Inheritance Games

by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Little Brown Books for Young Readers


384 pages

ISBN: 9781368052405

Cover art is CAPTIVATING and FANTASTIC. This is one cover readers won't be able to leave on the shelf! 

Life is a game when you're incredibly wealthy. Not so much fun if you're incredibly poor....

Review coming soon! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Halloween Pick: Happy Halloween From the Very Busy Spider

Happy Halloween From the Very Busy Spider
by Eric Carle
The World of Eric Carle/Penguin Random House LLC
10 pages
ISBN: 9780593097106

An excellent lift-the-flap book from Eric Carle. The one will delight littles because they can interact with the story. Even though they will learn what is behind each flap, they will have a great time reading and re-reading this little picture book.

Busy spider is searching for her friends: fox, owl, bat and caterpillar. She wants to find them before a night of scary, spooky fun on Halloween. Let young readers guess what can be behind each flap, or pretend you don't know and give them outrageous guesses of your own. Sure to be a favorite especially for Halloween.


Saturday, August 8, 2020

Shark Lover Pick: Everything Awesome About Sharks and Other Underwater Creatures


Everything Awesome About Sharks and Other Underwater Creatures
by Mike Lowery
Illustrations by the author 
Orchard Books 
Scholastic Inc.
128 pages
ISBN: 9781338359732

Available October 6, 2020

Mike Lowery brings the FUN! Fully illustrated with cool facts future marine biologists will love, this book is easy to read, perfect for the reluctant readers, and those who love graphic novels will gravitate towards this informative trove of information. 

Kids will learn facts like: 1 drop of sea water has over 1,000,000 viruses! and the tiger shark is one of the most dangerous sharks in the water! Did you know some sharks can live up to 400 years? or that Octopus (octopi) have 3 hearts? 

There's a bonus section teaching kids  how to draw sharks and other sea creatures, jokes about the ocean and a list of reference books. 

MUST HAVE, MUST READ for animal lovers, future marine biologists, non-fiction readers and anyone who loves Shark Week! 

Grades 2 and up. Great for middle school and beyond. 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Non-Fiction Pick: Eleanor Makes Her Mark: How Eleanor Roosevelt Reached Out, Spoke Up, and Changed

Eleanor Makes Her Mark: How Eleanor Roosevelt Reached Out, Spoke Up, and Changed the World
by Barbara Kerley
Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
Scholastic Press
48 pages
ISBN: 9780545821629

October 6, 2020

A thorough look at the life and learning of Eleanor Roosevelt and how she refused to be delegated to the background of the White House. Eleanor was constantly learning, traveling and asking questions in order to understand the plight of working people across the country. 

An easy read and reluctant readers will love the picture book approach to biography. 

Recommended grade 2 and up. Middle school ELL students and reluctant readers will find this one a prize. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Fun Halloween Pick: The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo!

The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo!
by Elaine Bickell
Illustrated by Raymond McGrath
Penguin Random House
32 pages
ISBN: 9780593202159
August 18, 2020

The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo! is a Halloween TREAT! 

Little Boo looks sad on the cover for good reason: she's lost her ability to Boo! and without her scary voice, what is a little ghost to do? She runs to Mama Ghost to tell her, but Mama says maybe your nights out scaring are over. Boo won't accept that, so she goes in search of her lost voice. 

She meets Owl, Pigeon, Rooster and Cow who all offer her their own voices of Whoo Whoo, Coo, Cock-A-Doodle-Doo and Moo, but Boo is forlorn until she looks up and sees YOU, the reader! Young kids will love to join in and shout BOO! to help Little Boo!

Fun rhyming text will delight children and funny, whimsical illustrations capture all of Little Boo's emotions as she looks for her lost power. This is one beautiful picture book! The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo! is destined to be the year's best Halloween read-aloud! Great fun! and BOO! 

Highly, highly recommended for ages 2 and up. Kids will beg, "Read it again! Again! Again!"

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

YA Pick: Dreamwalkers

"Mystical, magical and ethereal...a compelling tale of desert magic, dangerous government secrets, the all-in chemistry of first love and the power to control the world of dreams." --from the cover, Young Adult Books--What We're Reading Now 

by Leslie Rush
355 pages
ISBN: 9781946802606

Available October 20, 2020

Mystical, magical, powerful and ethereal, Dreamwalkers is a compelling tale of desert magic, dangerous government secrets, the all-in chemistry of first love and the power to control the world of dreams set in an enchanted land where rugged, often unforgivable, terrain hides danger and government secrets are safe.

Sixteen year old Vivan Night Hawk is working in her mother’s crystal and tarot shop in the tourist-friendly square of tiny Zia, New Mexico. After a worn leather jacket arrives in the shop, Vivi claims it as her own because it reminds her of her father. One lone feather in the pocket holds a special magic. Vivi begins dreaming more detailed and vivid lucid dreams. Vivi learns her power to dream is handed down from her Apache father. She practices controlling her dreams, stepping in and out of them, and seeing her (dead?) father who warns her that her genius little brother Brian is in danger. Dad tells her bad people are coming for Brian because they believe he is the dreamwalker, not VIvi. Vivi meets cute guy Lucas who also shares the power of lucid dreaming. He tells Vivi both of their fathers are MIA or presumed dead. Lucas convinces Vivi that their fathers are alive, and using their powers of lucid dreaming, they have to find out what happened to them. The closer the two get to answers, the more danger they are in. It is not only bad people trying to control them. A decades old secret government project surfaces, and the kids are in a fight for their lives.

Dreamwalkers is set in a color drenched, panoramic tourist town in the mountains of New Mexico, and brought to life with lush details: the scent of sage, mesquite, pinon, and cottonwoods.The author captures the beauty of mountain sunsets and the threatening power of a desert thunderstorm. Dreamwalkers captivates readers with enchanting imagery and the slippery magic of New Mexico as the author uses broad brushstrokes of prose and descriptive hues evocative of master painter (and New Mexico favorite) Georgia O’Keefe. 

Highly, highly recommended for fans of romance, YA fans, and any reader who loves an evil and corrupt government cover-up and a great story. For middle school and older. No sexual content. A few sweet kisses.