Book Review – Under A Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

According to Wikipedia, Chinese New Year is known as the Spring Festival in China and the Lunar New Year in Asia. New Years Day in a particular year falls on the day of the new moon between January 21st and February 20th. In 2018, it fell on February 16th, one of the days I was reading this book. I didn’t know their years started and ended on different dates than our traditional new year. Each year is assigned an animal as a zodiac sign. 2018 is the year of the dog.

Our neighborhood Chinese restaurant has placemats which list all of the signs for the Chinese zodiac. It is always fun to find out what sign we are, what traits are associated with that sign, and how well they match up. In Under a Painted Sky, Stacey Lee’s character, Samatha, makes references to Chinese Horoscopes when se does something. She would say, “he did that because he was born in the year of the rabbit.” I found it an interesting way to draw in some additional Chinese culture into her story.

Lee includes characters of different races and cultures in her story, which was and is still a part of American culture. I did the same thing with my book, The Hard Way.

 

Under A Painted Sky

 

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Under A Painted Sky

Author

Stacey Lee

Type of Book

Young Adult Fiction – Adventure/Historical

Background

The author, Stacey Lee, takes us back to Missouri in 1849. Time when people of many races and cultures were moving westward to find riches and the American dream. Published in 2015.

Summary of the story

Samantha was a Chinese American who had recently relocated to St. Joseph, Missouri from New York City. Her dream was to play her violin, which she called Lady Tin-Yin, in a conservatory where she would teach with her father and her father’s friend Mr. Trask. Her plans take a terrible turn when her father is killed in a fire and she winds up killing a man. She flees the city with a teenage slave named Annamae westward on the Oregon Trail in search of Mr. Trask and Annamae’s brother Issac. To hide their identities, they dress up as teenage boys and meet up with a group of them on the trail.

Reactions to the book

I really liked the story. It was engaging, and I had a hard time putting it down. I was drawn into the historical setting and I felt like I was really there. It was fun to watch how the girls keep their identity a secret from the boys in the group. I could feel the tension between the characters as their relationships developed, but there were no actual love type scenes until the end of the book.

This book would be a great YA read for someone into adventure type books. Themes of friendship and loyalty shine through. There is a little bit of a romance feel in it which didn’t overwhelm the story until the end. I think most readers would enjoy it. Since there isn’t any swearing or sexual scenes in the story, I believe this book would also be good for a late preteen reader.

If you interested in learning more about the author, you can check out her website, Stacey Lee, Author or follow her on Twitter @staceyleeauthor

If you are looking for a copy of her book, here is a link to it on Amazon.com Under A Painted Sky

If you are looking for another YA read, check out the books tab on my website for a link to my first book, The Hard Way. Avaiable in e-book and paperback.

YA Book Review – Wolf and the Tesseract

When I find an author who is giving their book away for free, I am willing to download a copy and do a review. I appreciate all the hard work that goes into creating the book and feel it is the least I can do as a thank you for being given the opportunity to read it. That is how I came to read Wolf of the Tesseract by Christopher D. Schmitz.

I was also excited to read another YA book. This one is also in the fantasy genre, which along with dystopian is currently a popular one for many YA readers. One of my favorite fantasy genre series I read as a teenager was C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. Did you know The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe was published on October 16, 1950? And according to an article on MentalFloss.com, a destination for curious people, J.R.R Tolkien and Lewis were both in a writing club together called the Inklings. They were actually working on Lord of the Rings and Narnia at the same time. Check out the article for more Fun Facts about C.S. Lewis.

Wolf of the Tesseract

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Wolf of the Tesseract

Author

Christopher D. Schmitz

Type of Book

Young Adult Fiction – Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Background

The book was originally published in 2016. Schmitz works with teens for a living and wanted to write something that was “up their alley” as he put it when I talked to him about his book.

Summary of the story

Claire Jones is a happy young woman about to marry the love of her life. Little does she know, some of the people around her are not who she thinks they are. They are from another dimension and have plans to kidnap her and take her to another dimension so she can help them stop an evil power from creating the a new world order. With her best friend and new found companion, Rob, they tranport themselves through The Prime in search of an artifact to end the warlock’s reign of terror.

Reactions to the book

I really liked the story. It was engaging, and I had a hard time putting it down.  Much like other YA fantasy stories I have read, there are some terms for the characters and battles I as an adult had to google to get the meaning, which I don’t mind doing. It winds up helping me not only to understand the story but also the significance of the words they chose. For the YA audience he writes for, they probably know what those terms mean.

Wolf of the Tesseract would be a great read for a YA reader who enjoys the fantasy/sci-fi genre. The second book in the Wolves of the Tesseract series is due to be published later this year.

If you interested in learning more about the author, you can check out his website Christopher D. Schmitz. Sign up on his e-mail list and receive a free comic. Follow this link Free Comic

If you are looking for a copy of the book, here is a link to it on Amazon.com Wolf of the Tesseract

Book Review – The King by Lorilyn Roberts

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

I’ll start with my exciting news. The blog is coming from a new location! Over this past weekend I made the move and created a new website, www.SelmaPVerde.com. I am feeling good about the progress so far, but please bear with me as things are still coming together with the site.

After last week’s unplanned post about my first author interview, I am going to get back to my plan for the new year, book reviews. My main focus will be to review middle grade and young adult books. It is the audience I am writing for and I want to provide parents, teachers and librarians with some ideas of books I consider good reads for these age groups.

Continue reading “Book Review – The King by Lorilyn Roberts”

Book Review – The Perfect Game, Tom Seaver and the Mets by Tom Seaver

It was a busy week in the writing house with marketing tasks for The Hard Way, but with a weekend off from work, I decided to squeeze in a little reading. With the Little League World Series Regional Finals on the TVs at our house, I was pretty excited to find a baseball book to read this time.

An autobiography is a book written by a person about themselves. I remember doing a writing unit in grade school and we wrote one. I’ll have to find it in the school papers my mom gave to me. I haven’t read very many autobiographies, but thought it would be fun to read this one. The book was published in 1970 and it was kind of cool to have an almost 50 year old in my hands.

There are many life lessons to be learned from the game of baseball. I’m glad that our kids get to play the game and experience some of those lessons first hand.

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Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

The Perfect Game, Tom Seaver and the Mets

Author

Tom Seaver

Type of Book

Autobiography about Tom Seaver’s baseball career focusing on game four of the 1969 World Series when the New York Mets played the Baltimore Orioles.

Background

Tom Seaver was a professional baseball pitcher. Most people remember him and his time playing for the New York Mets. He played in the Major Leagues for 19 years, 10 years for the Mets and 9 with multiple other teams. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.

Summary of the story

George Thomas Seaver (Tom) was a kid who always played baseball. He started in Little League and worked his way into high school and onto college ball. He played with legion and town teams until he was picked to play for the Mets on April 2, 1966. It wasn’t an easy path, but he worked hard to get there. One of the ultimate goals for a pitcher is to pitch the perfect game. Meaning they don’t give up any runs or hits to the other team throughout an entire game. This story talks about his drive to pitch the perfect game in that game four and the events that led up to that World Series game.

Reactions to the book

The references to other players and historical events of the time helped me to really enjoy the book. I collected baseball cards when I was a kid (to keep up with my brother and the other boys in the neighborhood) so I have heard of the players Seaver talks about. The references he makes to Vietnam and strained racial relations will help a reader understand the time when Seaver played baseball.

I struggled a little bit with how he told his story. Going back in the past and coming back to where his was in the game seemed to confuse the timeline for me sometimes. However, the tidbits from his past did help me to understand the life path he took to be pitching in that game.

The story showed me how much passion Seaver has for the game of baseball. I was also impressed at how he instilled confidence in his players, something which brought a team from the bottom of the division the previous year to a World Series Champion the next. Very inspirational story. I would definitely recommend it.

If you are interested in learning more about the author/baseball player, here is a link about him Tom Seaver – Hall of Fame

The book itself is out of print, but I did find a couple of copies on Amazon.com The Perfect Game, Tom Seaver and the Mets . Our copy had been given to us from a friend for the boys. It looks like it used to be a library copy taken out of circulation. Just like the one pictured above.

 

Book Review – The Sea-Wolf by Jack London

Happy Monday! 

Since it is the last Monday in May, it is also Memorial Day!

Be sure to honor the memories of the people who have died serving our country. It is also another special day in my world. It would have been my mom’s 78th birthday today. She would have been even happier that Memorial Day fell on her actual birthday this year. She always said the 30th is the original day the holiday was celebrated on. And she is right!

I have done a few book reviews of adapted books lately. They are ones with the stories condensed down for younger readers to be able to enjoy. It gives the reader the basic story without all of the subplots. I recently re-read Jack London’s Call of the Wild in an adapted version. So, I decided to read another Jack London book but the full version this time. There is a lot more story presented in a full version versus the adapted. I probably should have read the full version of the Call of the Wild this time to be able to make a fair comparison, but I haven’t read this book before. I will have to try and find an adapted copy of The Sea-Wolf and let you know how it compares.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

The Sea-Wolf

Author

Jack London

Type of Book

Young Adult fiction if reading the full version due to a longer book. Adapted version would probably be a good middle grade read.

Background

Published after Call of the Wild in 1904, this book continues London’s theme of people and animals facing hardships. Most all of his writing is drawn from his own life experience with this book being based on his experiences at sea. 

Summary of Story

Story is set in the early 1900s. After surviving a collison at sea, Humphrey Van Weyden gets picked up by a sealing ship. He doesn’t have a lot of experience in the sea ways of life, being brought up in a weathly family and employed as a literary critic. The captain, Wolf Larsen, is a pretty violent captain, but he teaches Humprey not only how to crew and pilot the boat, but also builds him up to be a stronger man, physically and emotionally.

Reactions to book

By reading the full version, I was able to get the entire story, but it got a little wordy for me in places. But, I realized this is how writing of that time period tended to be. I did enjoy it and plan on reading an adapted version of the story in the near future. I’ll be interested to see what parts of the story they choose to tell in a condensed format.

The version of The Sea-Wolf that I read also included a few of London’s short stories. I read one called “The Law of Life” and I could see how deep London felt about life in the Yukon. This story talks about the life and death of one of the elder’s of a tribe. About how life takes it’s course and death is a natural part of it. Goes to show how life experience can add some depth to an author’s work.

If you are interested in picking up a copy, you can find it here The Sea-Wolf

To learn more about the author, be sure to check out his website Jack London.

Book Review – The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Happy Monday! Hope you were all able to enjoy your weekend. I took a three days off from work for some down time. Well, I did get some down time, but it seemed to be a weekend to catch up on home things. Errands on Friday, some spring house cleaning on Saturday and some home projects on Sunday.

With all of the things I got done, one big accomplishment happened on Sunday evening, the paperback version of The Hard Way was published on CreateSpace. It should be available on Amazon.com later this week. So excited! Now, with both versions available, I’ll start learning what it takes to get the word out and get working on marketing.

In the meantime, while I was looking at the bookcase with the boys books in it again,  The Call of the Wild was calling to me. I remember reading this book in middle school. Ok, so it has been awhile. The version we have for the boys and the one I read was an adapted version of the story, so I didn’t have all of the story development as London originally wrote it.

 

The Call of the Wild

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Call of the Wild

Author

Jack London

Type of Book

Middle Grade (adapted version)

Background

Jack London spent almost a year in the Yukon collecting material for this book. This story was first published in serialized sections in the Saturday Evening Post in the summer of 1903 and was published a month later in book form. Call of the Wild was published in 1903 set in Yukon, Canada during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush.

Summary of the Story

During the gold rush, there was a need for sled dogs. Men would go and steal dogs from people and sell them into sled dog teams. This is the story about a dog named Buck who this very thing happened to. 

Reactions to the book

I like the story. It brought be me back to when I originally read it in middle school. It was fun to read the adapted version to get the main points of the story. It would be fun to read the full version again.

The book can be found on Amazon Call of the Wild

If you are interested in learning more about the author, check out his web page Jack London


I have reserved The Sea-wolf from our local library. It is another popular story London wrote after The Call of the Wild. Since I haven’t read this one yet, I think I’ll read an unadapted version.

Book Review – The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

This was a book that I didn’t take the time to read as a kid. I saw it on our book shelf at home as another book I bought for the boys to read and jumped right in. This version of Lofting’s story was Condensed and Adapted by Kathryn Knight. I did a little research into what that really means. According to Yahoo! Answers, condensed means that the story has been shortened. It has left all the important plot points in, but may have taken a lot of the sub plots out. Adapted means that it takes a more adult story and makes it readable for children. It removes the big words and simplies the story to make it easier to understand.

doctor-dolittle

 

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Author

Hugh Lofting

Condensed and Adapted by Kathryn Knight

Type of Book

Middle Grade

Background

Hugh Lofting created the character of Doctor Dolittle during the time he served in the British Army during World War I. He wrote letters home to his children telling them stories based on the character of Doctor Dolittle to protect them from the evils of what was happening in the war. When he arrived home, he started writing those stories into chapter books for children. The series of ten stories about Dolittle won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958 and the story The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle won a Newberry Medal in 1923. Two more Dolittle stories were published after he passed away and his stories have  been made into movies.

Summary of the story

Doctor John Dolittle, M.D. was just a normal everyday doctor. He started his practice in England treating people, but figured out that he had a way with animals, so he started treating animals at his home. Since animals can’t pay for his services, he needed to find a way to bring some money in to pay the bills. At the same time he received news that some monkeys needed medical help in Africa. So, he took all of the money he had left and set sail for Africa to help them.

Reactions to the book

I enjoyed the story. Dolittle’s interaction with the animals makes it a fun read for kids and adults. It is a very engaging story.

This edition of Lofting’s story has been condensed and adapted from the original story. It makes me want to read the original to see what I’m missing. In a note at the beginning of the book, Knight writes,

The Story of Doctor Dolittle has been carefully condensed and adapted from the original version (which you must read when you are ready for every detail). We kept the well-known phrases for you. We kept the important imagery and heart of the tale.

It is a great thing that these classic stories are condensed and adapted for younger readers to enjoy. I like the fact that she points out that there is another version that kids can read when they are ready. Since I liked the story, it is something that I’m going to check out.

 

If you are interested in learning more about the author, you can check out this posting about him on Encyclopedia Britannica Hugh Lofting

If you would like to purchase a copy for your kids or a kid who is special to you here is the link to in on Amazon.com. The Story of Doctor Dolittle

 

 

 

The Door book giveaway Winner!

seventh-dimension

Congratulations to Chaos-XD! You are the winner of the book giveaway! I’ll be sending you your copy of the book this week.

Thanks everyone for liking the review. Please forward it to any one that might have a young adult reader or who would be interested in the story. It is a good read and what a great way to help out a fellow author.

Here is the link to it on Amazon! Seventh Dimension – The Door

Book Review – Rumble Fish by S.E. Hinton

 

rumblefish

Our oldest son, Max, was assigned The Outsiders to read for his high school English class. Soon after, that prompted us to buy the movie and watch it as a family. Since he enjoyed the book, the following Christmas, I bought the book Rumble Fish for him. As I was laying in bed, I saw the book sitting on the bookshelf next to all of the other books we have bought for the kids over the years. I remember reading The Outsiders when I was in high school, but I don’t remember reading Rumble Fish. Decided it was a good time to read it. Like The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton writes another powerful YA coming of age story from the perspective of kids growing up in a small south western town in gangs.

 

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Rumble Fish

Author

S.E. Hinton

Type of Book

YA

Background

S.E (Susan Eloise) Hinton wrote her first book, The Outsiders when she was in high school. She based it on the division of her classmates into two social groups. This book was published when she was a freshman in college and it became an immediate hit. She wrote her books from the kids’ perspective and it made it very relatable to the YA audiences. This book along with Rumble Fish were both made into movies.

Summary of the story

Rusty-James is the toughest kid in junior high. His older brother, Motorcycle Boy, used to be a well-known gang leader. Rusty-James longs to be like Motorcycle Boy while Motorcycle Boy is trying to back out of the whole gang thing. While living with his alcoholic father, Rusty-James gets into a lot of fights and trouble while trying to follow in his brother’s footsteps. Little does he know that this path may not lead to as a great of place as it seemed to with his brother.

Reactions to the book

Hinton writes another powerful YA book. For being a quick read, the story itself was a little hard for me to understand. There were things in the story that I had to put together as I was reading it, so a little more connecting detail may have helped me to enjoy the story more. There was a lot of violent activity with Rusty-James wanting to be the tough guy. This may be an issue for a more sensitive reader. I did like how Hinton took a different look at teenagers growing up in a more on the street type setting. I did enjoy the book.

If you interested in learning more about the author, you can check out her website S.E. Hinton

If you are looking for a copy of the book, here is a link to it on Amazon.com Rumble Fish

Book Review – Seventh Dimension – The Door, a Young Adult Fantasy by Lorilyn Roberts

Special Message: Check this book review for a special giveaway!

Now we are onto a YA Fantasy novel review. Fantasy writers create alternative worlds where their characters either go on a personal journey to learn about themselves or to be a hero in the other world. There are many fantasy types of novels out there. Some are dystopian in nature and others are apocalyptic take overs of what we know our world to be now. Like the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, this book is a great start for this series with the main character, Shale Snyder, being led to the door of the parallel universe by a stray dog.

seventh-dimension

 

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Seventh Dimension: The Door

Author

Lorilyn Roberts

Type of Book

YA Fantasy

Background

Lorilyn Roberts is a Christian author who writes for the young and young at heart. The Door is the first of four published books in the Seventh Dimension Series. Roberts is currently working on the last book of her five-book series. It has been the finalist of four different book awards and was the winner of the 2014 Book Goodies Best Cover Contest Winner, YA category

Summary of the story

Shale Snyder is a fourteen-year-old girl who feels all alone in the world. Due to an event that happened when she was twelve, she continues to be shunned by the kids she calls friends. One day, she meets a stray dog, Much-Afraid, who leads her to a door in the woods. After she goes through it, she is in a whole other world, the seventh dimension.

It is a coming of age story. When Shale arrives in the seventh dimension along with the stray dog Much-Afraid, she meets Cherios the rabbit, Baruch the donkey, Lowly the pig and Worldly Crow who all help her on the journey where they meet Shale’s dad and the King.

Reactions to the book

Shale’s journey to the seventh dimension happens so she can deal with her demons and learn about the power of faith to help her forgive herself. She’s introduced to the idea of a king who I believe represents a higher spiritual power. Roberts does a great job of weaving the Christian themes into the book and not make it feel like a religious book. I would recommend this book for middle grade and YA readers, but it could also be enjoyed by adults as well.

If you are interested in learning more about the author, you can check out her website Lorilyn Roberts

If you are looking for a copy of the book, here is a link to it on Amazon.com The Door

The author, Lorilyn Roberts, has offered a free copy of the book we just reviewed, The Door. I would like to do a giveaway to one of my followers on social media who comment on this review. I will randomly pick a winner from all that comment and will announce the winner on next Monday Morning’s Blog. Be sure to check out the author and Amazon links to learn more about the author and the book!