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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 nanowrimo.org  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: