Book Review – The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

How was your week? Mine was good. Second week of work at my day job under my belt and it was a good week. Confidence in my skills is increasing and I’m learning more every day. Did you get a chance to check in with a teen last week? Let me know what you found out!

After my post last week, I decided to pick up a book by Jason Reynolds, the novelist who did the remix with Ibram X. Kendi of Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You for a young adult audience. It is fun when one book can lead you to pick up another. After reading it, I could see Jason Reynolds writing style shining through both books.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title
The Boy in the Black Suit

Author
Jason Reynolds

Type of Book
Mid-Grade or Young Adult Fiction

Background
Reynolds is the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. He believes in empowering young people to “Grab the Mic: Tell Your Story”. Part of the inspiration for writing this novel was the fact that his mom brought him to many funerals when he was young.

Summary of the book
The main character, Matt Miller, started by wearing a black suit at his mom’s funeral. Then he gets a job at a funeral parlor in New York City and continues to wear the black suit, not only for work, but also for how it makes him feel. He meets a teen girl named Love, who has lost her mom and recently her grandma.

Reaction to the book
I enjoyed the book. The story and characters were very relatable. It is a coming of age story about how a teen would react to his mom’s funeral and how he reacts to things afterwards. Life changing events tend to make us change, and I think wearing the suit just helped him take on this new role as a young adult with some more real life experience. With everything that happens to Matt after the funeral, it shows how life really goes and how hopeful Matt’s reaction to it is.

Link to the author
If you want to learn more about the authors, here is a link to his website Jason Reynolds

Link to the book
If you want to purchase this book, here’s a link to Amazon The Boy in the Black Suit

Are you looking for another good middle grade/young adult read? How about checking out The Hard Way? A coming of age novel about peer pressure and the importance of choosing the right friends. Follow this link to my website and get your copy.

The Hard Way

COMING SOON!

A little bit of news, Shawn’s Way, book #2 of The Way Series will be coming out later this fall. There is still time to read The Hard Way in preparation for Shawn’s Way.

What do you think is the one thing that challenges teens the most? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week.

Book Review – The Hard Way by Selma P. Verde

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

Hoping to pick up where I left off. It has been a while since I have posted. This summer has been a challenging one for me. Between my lay off from my day job and my dad passing away, I have been pulled away from the blog with other priorities. They say that you need to make time for the important things. What do you do when life events get in the way?

So, I’m back! I am on a mission to sell 2000 books this month to meet my first goal to becoming a bestselling author. I know it will happen, just not sure when and not sure how, but I am ready to embark on the journey to get there.

Remember my first book, The Hard Way? Well, here is my review of the book. Kind of a different spin on the traditional book review, huh. How often have you seen an author review their own book? Not very often I bet. You may ask, how objective can I be about my own book, right? Well, the reason for this review is to get the word out there about a great coming of age novel for the middle grade and young adult reader. And I can do just that!

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title
The Hard Way

Author
Selma P. Verde

Type of Book
Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction

Background
Selma P. Verde was always a writer of things. From diary entries to capture life experiences to writing funny plays and stories. When she was a preteen, she decided she wanted to publish a novel someday and become an author. It took a while, but her first novel, The Hard Way, was published in 2017.

Summary of the book
Paul Jones is a freshman at Brooklyn Heights High School. He faces his first day of school without his best friend, Desmond Peterson, who moved away with his family during the summer. His parents were concerned that he needed to make new friends, so Paul did just that. He befriended Anik Hatcher, a guy who liked to play Tangorka, the video game he liked to play. Anik was involved in a group of guys who liked to play pranks and create mischief. The night that Paul met the gang, he found out that the pranks they pulled were a little more destructive than he thought. After pulling a prank at his high school Homecoming game, he found out that staying loyal to this group of friends would get him into a lot of trouble. And, he learned it the hard way.

Reaction to the book
I enjoyed creating and reading this book. It focuses on the issues of peer pressure and the importance of choosing the right friends, two of the many challenges teens face while growing up. It would be a great read for a preteen or young adult. The characters and storyline are very relatable and the story itself may provide a little mentoring if they are struggling with either of these issues.

Link to the author
If you want to learn more about Selma P. Verde, here is a link to my website. Selma P. Verde

Link to the book
If you want to purchase The Hard Way, here is a link to the books tab on my website. Books by Selma P. Verde


I’m getting very excited about the upcoming publication of Shawn’s Way. Book #2 in The Way Series. More news and specific release date coming soon.

Have a great week!

Book Review – Two versions of Taming of the Shrew

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog.

Last week I read two versions of Taming of the Shrew. One version was the Sixty-Minute version by Cass Foster that I talked about in my Shakespeare post a couple of weeks ago. And the other one was Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler.

The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy written by William Shakespeare between 1590 and 1592. The main story centers around the courtship of Petruchio and Katherina. Katherina’s father, Baptista, will not allow her younger and more desirable sister Bianca, to marry until after Katherina has been married off. Katherina is a very headstrong woman who was seen by the community as not suitable to marry. Petruchio takes on the challenge of “taming” her and converting her into a desirable bride.

Sixty Minute Shakespeare’s version of Taming of the Shrew

As I started reading this version, I was brought back to my days of reading Shakespeare in high school. It took me a little bit to get into it. I have been reading quite a few of novels lately, so when I was reading the story in a play format, I needed to expand my mind to imagining the scene and setting a bit more.

Like I have told my kids about any book they are getting ready to read, check online and see what it is about. It can help you get into the story quicker, especially with Shakespeare. I wish I had that option when I was in high school. Cass did a great job with making it easier to read, but kept the language true to how Shakespeare really wrote it and intended it to be. Knowing what the story was about beforehand allowed me to focus on reading the Shakespeare flair, which is what took time to get through.

The production rights for this version are owned by a company called Dramatic Publishing. So, if you would like to perform this version in public through your school, church group or community theater, check out their website for more information about obtaining the rights for it.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Taylor: The Taming of the Shrew retold

Upon hearing the name of this book, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but after reading The Taming of the Shrew, the title of this book made a little more sense. I was led this book by Ann Hawke, the president of the Woodland Shakespeare Club, a group I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. She said that this book was one of their groups favorite ones to read the retold version of.

This is the story of Kate Battista, who is portrayed as Katherina in Shakespeare’s original. With her mother’s passing away, Kate has taken on the role of mother instead of daughter. She is a spinster who works as a pre- school assistant and takes care of her father and sister at home. Her father, wanting to keep his research assistant in the country, comes up with a grand plan to have Kate marry him. Kind of like an arranged marriage of sorts. Her younger sister, Bunny, in this case is too young to be married, but Tyler makes her personality a little more outgoing and likeable to set her up as the more desirable sister, like Shakespeare’s character, Bianca.

I enjoyed reading both versions of this story. Reading a Shakespeare play reminded me it isn’t necessarily a easy read, but it is neat to see how he created his plays and characters to put on the show for the crowds of the time. Reading the retold version of Vinegar Girl in a novel form was a little easier. I was abe to see the similarities in the characters between the two. I felt that Tyler did a good job of keeping Shakespeare’s themes in her version even with the moderized setting.

There are other Shakespeare works which have similar themes to other published works. Iris Murdoch’s The Black Prince is a retelling of Hamlet while Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is retelling of The Tempest. However, Anne Tyler’s book is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare project which is an effort by Hogarth Press to retell works by William Shakespeare in a contemporary context. Please check out their website for more information and the upcoming titles to be retold. Hogarth Press – Shakespeare project. If you decide to read both versions of these stories, I would recommend reading the Shakespeare version first to see what he was trying to portray and then see how the author’s retold version uses his themes in their stories.

If you are looking to get a hold of the Sixty-Minute versions of your favorite Shakespeare play, they are available on Amazon and Story Monsters LLC. Sixty-Minute Shakespeare Collection

If you want to learn more about the author Anne Tyler, here’s her website Anne Tyler and the link to purchase the book Vinegar Girl.

What was your favorite Shakespeare play? What was your least favorite? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Looking for a teen/young adult coming of age novel? How about taking a look at The Hard Way!

Available on Amazon and BarnesandNobel.com. Or follow the link below to the books tab of my website to get your copy.

Book Review – Honeysuckle Holiday by Kathleen M. Jacobs

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

As an author who writes young adult fiction, I am always up for reading a young adult novel from a fellow author. When this book was suggested to me, the title, Honeysuckle Holiday was definitely intriguing. I turned the book over to the back cover, like most people do, to find out what it was about. As I was reading it, I was drawn into the fact that the story was being told by a teenage girl from the south during a time of great racial tension.

Selma’s Book Review

 

Book TitleHoneysuckle Holiday

Honeysuckle Holiday

Author

Kathleen M. Jacobs

Type of Book

Young Adult Fiction

Background

This is Kathleen M. Jacobs first young adult novel. After reading through her author bio on her website, it became clear where the inspiration for this story came from. With her favorite book being To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and making a move to rural West Virginia as a teenager, Jacobs writes this young adult novel flavored with two things which are personally important to her.

Summary of the story

Lucy is a spirited teenager growing up in the late 1960s. She is the middle child in a middle class family in Memphis, TN. With the racial tensions of the time, her father gets  involved in an incident which leads to the unravelling of his marriage and family. Their mother, not wanting to worry her daughters, doesn’t tell them what their father had done. As the story progresses, Lucy and her sister Caroline, find clues to the story of what happened to their dad. And they learn a more about how they feel about themselves and others who may be different from them.

Reactions to the book

It was a good read. I liked the coming of age theme and engaging characters. I loved how the girls worked together to try to figure out why their dad went away. Reminded me of playing Nancy Drew when I was their age. Jacobs even mentions that Caroline liked to read those books. The author does a great job with setting by bringing historical themes from the 1960s and 1970s into the story. Made it easy to imagine what was going on in the story relative to the time period.

I think it would be a great read for any young adult reader. With February being African-American History Month, this would be a good read with the topic of racial relations in the south being addressed.

If you interested in learning more about the author, you can find out information about her at Kathleen M. Jacobs

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

Have a great week!

Book Review – Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts by Brian Paone

Good Morning! Here is the Friday Morning Blog!

It is fun to read a book by someone who you have gotten to know. Maybe not met face to face yet, but that is the way of social media these days. I met Brian Paone through a Facebook Group called Fiction Writing. Through this group, I learned a lot of valuable information that has helped me on my writing journey. This is Brian’s first published book, but he has been writing since he was a preteen like me.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Dreams are Unfinished Thoughts

Author

Brian Paone

Type of Book

Rock Fiction

Background

He writes this memior as a tribute to his best friend, David Reilly, who was a vocalist and one of the founding members of the band God Lives Underwater, an Industrial Rock band which formed in the early 90s.

Summary of the story

Paone and Reilly become friends though his being a real fan of the band. Brian would get to their shows early enough to see the band arrive at the venue. Throughout the story, we see how their life paths grow together and apart through their teenage and early adult years.

Reactions to the book

I really liked the book. After reading it, I listened to a couple of their songs to get to know the band and add to my reading experience. There is a website dedicated to David Reilly where his songs and the songs from God Lives Underwater are posted on it. Here is a link David Reilly.

Not only was the book a passionate and personal story, but Paone also shows us how loyality to a band and a friend can influence your life.

Rock Fiction is the genre, but I feel this book would be a good read for young adult and adult audiences even if you aren’t into the rock band scene.

If you interested in learning more about the author, you can find out about him and the books he has written at Brian Paone.

If you are looking for a copy of the book, here is a link to it Dreams are Unfinished Thoughts

Book Review – Don’t Tell Anyone by Peg Kehret

Happy Friday!

It has been a while since I have been able to review a book. My summer project has been to get my second book, The Bully’s Way ready for my alpha readers. Well, I got it done and they are reading it this month in preparation for our book club discussion of it next month.

One day at my local area library, they had a table full of books that were being taken out of circulation. I picked up this one for $.25. Wasn’t sure what I was going to get, but was pleasantly surprised with a good read.

 

Don't Tell Anyone

 

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Don’t Tell Anyone

Author

Peg Kehret

Type of Book

Middle Grade Fiction

Background

Peg Kehret is a middle grade author. Her books won many book awards and have been chosen by the American Library Association as being great reads for reluctant readers. She lives in the state of Washington and is a polio survivor. She works for animal rescue organizations when she isn’t writing.

Summary of the story

Megan Perk is a young girl who stumbles across a group of feral cats in a vacant field. She starts to bring food and water to them and notices one is pregnant with kittens. A sign is posted that they are going to build an apartment complex on this field. Afraid that the cats will not make it when they prepare the field for the building, she starts to look for help. While at the field with the cats, she witnesses a car accident which introduces her to a dog and puts her into a serious situation.

Reactions to the book

I really liked the book. Once I sat down with it, I couldn’t put it down. The characters were easy to relate to and I could feel the authors love for animals through Megan’s care and feeding of the cats. It would be a great read for any middle grade reader looking for a fast moving and engaging story.

If you interested in learning more about the author, you can find out information about her and the books she has written at Peg Kehert

If you are looking for a copy of the book, here is a link to it on Amazon.com Don’t Tell Anyone

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”