How are you doing on your To Be Read (TBR) Lists?

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog!

With the stay home orders, I’m enjoying a lot pleasure reading. How about you?

Have you ever heard of TBRs? If you are avid readers, you may know what that acronym means. Even though I consider myself an avid reader, I didn’t know what a TBR was until just recently. A TBR is your To Be Read (TBR) list. Simply, a list of books you want to read.

Have you ever used the Libby app? It allows you to check out eBooks from the library and has become one of my favorite apps to use to pick up eBooks or audiobooks for my phone or tablet. It is also a great way to pick up books while the libraries are closed right now.

While I was waiting for one of my holds to come from the library through Libby, I checked out my TBR on my Goodreads App (where I keep track of it). I was amazed to learn I have 201 books on my Want to Read List (it is what Goodreads calls your TBR). I wondered what books were it and how long they have been sitting there. I browsed through a few of the titles I recently added and wondered, what title has been sitting on this list the longest? I resorted the list and saw Megan’s Way, was added on August 14, 2011. So, I went to my Libby App and found out it was available to borrow.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title
Megan’s Way

Author
Melissa Foster

Type of Book
Women’s Fiction, Drama

Background
Melissa Foster is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She also helps other authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training program on Fostering Success. Foster has written over 152 novels in the romance and drama genres.

Summary of the book
Megan is a cancer survivor. She fought the disease once before and now it has come back with a vengeance. Her fourteen-year-old daughter, Olivia, dealt with the battle before, but Megan didn’t want to put her through the emotional strain of supporting cancer treatment again. She has to make the decision to keep fighting, or to let the disease take her. She makes a decision that will ultimately affect her family and friends.

Reaction to the book
I really enjoyed the book. Battling cancer and deciding when enough is enough was a path my family took when my mom was battling breast cancer, so I could relate to the choice she had to make. Megan’s story is true of many other families who have had or going to make the same decision, not only for their own families, but also for their own quality of life. I would recommend this book to young adult or adult readers who are looking for a story of hard life decisions and effects on themselves and others.

Link to the author
If you want to learn more about the author, here is a link to his website Melissa Foster

Link to the book
If you want to purchase this book, here is a link to Amazon. Megan’s Way

After I finished Megan’s Way, I went back to my TBR list to see what the next longest one riding on the list was. Dean’s List by Jon Hassler. It was put on the list on September 15, 2011. I have read quite a few of his books, so I was excited to read another one. When I went to find it on Libby, I learned not all books are available on the platform. Some of the older books don’t have an eBook format available. I will have to check out a hard copy when that option is available again. I checked through the next few books on my list and finally came across one which is available on Libby, The Devil’s Bed by William Kent Krueger, another of my favorite authors. It is available on Libby, but I actually had a paperback copy of it hanging around my house.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title
The Devil’s Bed

Author
William Kent Krueger

Type of Book
Mystery/crime fiction

Background
William Kent Krueger is the author of the now nineteen book Cork O’Connor series and a couple of standalone novels like this one. His books are typically written at a diner in St. Paul, Minnesota and have their settings in different parts of the state. Being a Minnesota native myself, I can relate to the settings of his books. Krueger has always wanted to be a writer. His third-grade story, “The Walking Dictionary” was praised by his teachers and parents. Since then he has written many books and won several awards for his writing.

Summary of the book
Bo Thorsen, a Secret Service Agent, is assigned to protect the First Lady, when she comes to visit her dad after an accident out in his orchard. Things about the accident didn’t seem to add up for Thorsen, so he did some checking into the facts. This was starting to raise the eyebrows and anger some people connected to the case. As Thorsen got closer to the truth, connections to powerful people in Washington, DC start to surface and his investigation becomes more dangerous, even deadly.

Reaction to the book
Unlike the books in his Cork O’Connor series, this one had a more political flair with its characters being the President of the United States and the First Lady and the dealings with Washington DC. Even so, it still had the feeling of a William Kent Krueger novel which I really liked. The charters and story line were engaging and kept me guessing what was going to happen right up until the end of the book. I would recommend it for any William Kent Krueger or crime fiction fan.

Link to the author
If you want to learn more about the author, here is a link to his website William Kent Krueger

Link to the book
If you want to purchase this book, here is a link to Amazon. The Devil’s Bed


How many books do you have in your To Be Read (TBR) pile? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Book Review: If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!
With the additional downtime the stay at home orders and my furlough have given me, I was able to read both of the books in Gayle Forman’s young adult If I Stay series. I don’t know if I have ever read an entire series of books back to back, but I am glad I read these books that way. Her characters were very engaging so I had to find out what happened in their story. Since I was in marching and concert band in middle school and high school, I enjoyed the focus on music and what it meant to the story.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Titles
If I Stay and Where She Went

Author
Gayle Forman

Type of Books
Young Adult Fiction

Background
Gayle Forman began her writing career writing articles for Seventeen magazine about young people and social concerns. If I stay and Where She Went are the two books in If I Stay series written by Forman. If I Stay was published in 2009 and Where She Went was published in 2010. She was inspired by an actual accident that killed an entire family. She asked herself what would happen if one survived, and that is the basis of the story. One of the main characters, Mia Hall, is a cellist. As she wrote her novel, she was inspired by the life and work of world-renowned cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, and makes him Mia’s musical idol.

Summary of the books
If I Stay is the first book in the series. In the story, Mia and Adam Wilde meet at school and start dating. They are both involved in music programs, which becomes their common bond. One day when Mia’s family decides to go for a family drive on an unplanned snow day from school, her family is involved in an automobile accident which kills her mom, dad and eight-year-old brother. It leaves her in grave condition and battling for her life. Throughout the rest of the story, we are in Mia’s head as she decides whether she will stay (live) or go (die). We find out at the end, which way she decides.

The second book in the series is Where She Went. The story starts up three years later and is told from Adam Wilde’s point of view. We find out what both characters have been up to since the end of If I Stay and what happens to make them cross paths in New York City.

Reaction to the books
I really enjoyed reading both books. I had a hard time putting either one of them down. I am glad I was able to read both books in one sitting (which wound up being about a week). It gave me a really neat experience to read their whole story. Forman presents characters who are easy to relate to and engage with. I also like how she had a different character tell the story from their point of view in each of the two books. I would definitely recommend the books for a young adult reader or one who enjoys young adult novels.

Link to Yo-Yo Ma
As I was writing this review, I was interested in the fact that Gayle Forman was inspired by Yo-Yo Ma and used his persona as Mia’s idol. As I was sitting down to start writing this review, I came across Yo-Yo Ma‘s Facebook page and am now following it. I did a search on You Tube and came across a PBS News Hour interview that Yo-Yo Ma recently did about a program he started called Songs of Comfort. Here’s a link to that interview Songs of Comfort PBS News Hour (3/18/20)

He says music is for everyone. Finding the needs in others and representing them has become his voice amid our current global crisis. Follow his hash tag #SongsofComfort

Link to the author
If you want to learn more about Gayle Forman, here is a link to her website Gayle Forman

Links to the books
If you want to purchase either one of these books, here is a link to Amazon. If I Stay and Where She Went

They also sell this series as a set, which is available on Amazon as well. If I Stay and Where She Went book set


How did the week go for you? For me, being on furlough meant I could watch a couple of webinars, read a few more books and work on the writing side of my life. It also allowed me to be able to pause and let some of the stress roll off of me from the crazy stressful lifestyle I was leading before. You don’t realize how crazy things are until you take a break from it, either voluntarily or through something like a furlough. Yo-Yo Ma was able to find a new voice for his music through this pause. Are you finding something changing for you? Or, has this pause helped you find a new habit? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Need a holiday gift idea for your teen reader?

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

Still holiday shopping? Looking for some books for your teen reader? Here are a couple ideas from the books I reviewed this year.

Dreams are Unfinished Thoughts – by Brian Paone

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The author, Brian Paone, writes this memior as a tribute to his best friend, lead singer of the band God Lives Underwater, David Reilly. They become friends through Paone’s being a big fan of Reilly’s band. The novel is about the life of a rock star, but it is more about strong bonds of friendship.

Here is a link to my book review. Book Review – Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts by Brian Paone

Here is a link to purchase your copy: Dreams are Unfinished Thoughts

Under a Painted Sky – by Stacey Lee

Under A Painted Sky

Stacey Lee writes a historical fiction adventure of a Chinese American teen in the 1850s. Her dream was to play violin in a conservatory in New York City. After her father was killed, she found herself on the run with Annamae, a teenage slave, and they hit the road on the Oregon trail. To not draw attention to themselves, they dressed up as boys and tried to do things as guys do. Follow their adventures in this novel.

Here is a link to my book review. Book Review – Under A Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

Here is a link to purchase your copy: Under a Painted Sky – Amazon.com

The King – by Lori Lorilyn Roberts

The King by Lorilyn Roberts

In the second book in the Seventh Dimension Series, Lorilyn Roberts continues the story of her main character, Daniel. He lives in current day Israel, but is able to travel back to when Rome ruled the land. He battles with good and evil to learn more about himself on his path with God. Even though the story has a Christian Fantasy flavor, I think it could be enjoyed by any teen reader.

Here is a link to my review. Book Review – The King by Lorilyn Roberts

Here is a link to purchase your copy: The King – Amazon.com

The Hard Way – by Selma P. Verde

TheHardWay_eBookRecipient of Honorable Mention in the Young Adult Fiction Category of the 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards 

In the first book of The Way Series, Selma P. Verde gives us a coming of age novel focusing on the effects of peer pressure. After his best friend moves away, Paul Jones must make new friends while he takes on his first year of high school. He meets Anik Hatcher while serving detention and is introduced to his friends who were pulling pranks in Manor City. Paul learns the consequences of choosing the wrong guys to hang around.

Here are the links to purchase your copy:

The Hard Way – Amazon.com and The Hard Way – Barnes and Noble

It is always fun to buy a physical copy of the book, but remember, there is an e-book option available for most books. Many teens choose to read on their cell phones, tablets or even have a Kindle they download their books to. So, be sure to see what version they would like to receive your gift in.

Book Review – The Lake Lights by William Burt

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

Networking and author connections brought this read to me. It is kind of fun to meet other authors this way. It opens my eyes to other books I may not have even known about. And it is a great way to get to know other authors who you can check in with and bounce ideas off of.

The Lake Lights is a young adult Christian Fantasy, a genre that has recently become more popular. The stories tend to have a fantasy or science fiction feel with references to the bible or religion put into it. I was a little leery to read these books at first wondering how much the bible would be referenced throughout the story. With the ones I have read, I found the authors have done a good job with the references and descriptions to keep a YA reader engaged. I hope YA readers keep an open mind to what they read, and don’t get scared off by the word Christian in the description. There are some really great reads out there for you.

The Lake Lights

 

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

The Lake Lights

Author

William Burt

Type of Book

Young Adult Fiction – Christian Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Background

This is the first book in Burt’s The Creation Seekers Series published in June of 2017. He is also the author of the award-winning series, King of Trees, which won a silver medal in the 2014 Readers Favorite International Book Award Contest, Christian Fantasy category.

Summary of the story

Jonathan Oliver has recently become the man of the house when his father went missing in Afghanistan. His mom, his sister Jennica, and Grandpa are left to deal with some weird things going on under their house. Strange noises and smells have Jon and his Grandpa searching for answers. Through their investigation, they find out what has been living under their house. And through his dad’s disappearance, Jon finds out about a special project his dad has been working on and that his business partner desperately wants information about.

Reactions to the book

I really liked the story. It was engaging, and I had a hard time putting it down. I got to know the characters which made the story even more enjoyable. It was a fun read with some education about science thrown in.

The Lake Lights would be a great read for a YA reader who enjoys the fantasy/sci-fi genre.

If you interested in learning more about the author, you can find out information about him and the other books he has written at William Burt

If you are looking for a copy of the book, you can purchase on on his website or here is a link to it on Amazon.com The Lake Lights

And, if you are looking for another good teen read, be sure to check out my book, The Hard Way. To learn more about the story and find a link to get your own copy, be sure to check out books tab on my website.

Book Review – Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

Sorry I missed you last week. Life with work and home got pretty busy for me. Didn’t leave a lot of time to write. It was the first Monday I ever missed!

Time for a book review. Not only was it a book I wanted to read, but it is part of a research project for me on the topic of teen suicide. A pretty big topic of conversation for the audience I write for. The last few posts have been about bullying. And a lot of teen suicide is a direct result of being bullied. So, it was good for me to take the time this weekend to read it.

Continue reading “Book Review – Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher”

Book Review – Conspiracy 365 – February by Gabrielle Lord

Once again, I found a book in our house to review. One of the boys had it in his room. I think it might have been one he read for sophomore English this year. It looked interesting, but the fact it said February on it made me wonder if I should read it before the January one.

Our book club read a book in a middle of a series for one of our monthly reads. Thunder Bay, by William Kent Krueger, the seventh book in the series. Since we read that one, I have gone back and read most of the series (I finished book #10 and Jim has read through #11) of sixteen. His books could all be read without having read the previous ones. But, if I had read the books in order, I would have learned more about the main character’s back story.

The Bully’s Way is the second book in The Way Series I am preparing for an alpha read in September.  I have heard when writing a series, the author wants to have it fit into the series, but also be readable on its own. So the reader doesn’t have to read the first one to enjoy book two. It is something I will keep in mind as I continue to write the books in The Way series.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Conspiracy 365 – February

Author

Gabrielle Lord

Type of Book

Middle Grade/YA mystery and suspense. This is the second book of a twelve book series.

Background

Lord is an Australian author known as ‘The Queen of Crime Fiction’.

The books were all published in 2010 and made into a mini television series in 2012 in Australia. Each segment of the television show was aired the first Saturday of each month through out the year. There are a total of seventeen books in the series, with additional storyline played out in the last five books.

Summary of Story

Callum Ormond is a fourteen year old boy on the run from the police and violent gangs. He has to find the answer to some research that his dad was working on before he died and has to stay alive for 365 days to do it. He lives in junk yards and abandoned houses to avoid all of those who are chasing him.

Reactions to book

The story was good. Lord kept the action moving and kept me reading. I found it may have been helpful to read January first to have more continuity in the story line. The book seemed to get a little long in parts, but as a 40 minute tv show, it may not have felt as long. It was probably written that way to get the story into the twelve segments.

If you are interested in picking up a copy of this book or any others in the series, you can find them here Conspiracy 365 Series

To learn more about the author, be sure to check out her website Gabrielle Lord.

Book Review – White Fang by Jack London

This is the third book written by Jack London I have read in the last month. They are all well written stories about people and animals and their struggles against their environment. White Fang is no exception. I read an adapted version of this one, since it was sitting on our book shelf right next to The Call of the Wild. I enjoyed all three books.

White Fang

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

White Fang

Author

Jack London

Type of Book

Adapted version would probably be a good middle grade read. I would caution sensitive readers there is some violence depicted in this story. It is in line with what actually happens in nature, but some readers may get upset by it.

Background

Just like The Call of the Wild, it was first published as a serialized story. According to Wikipedia, it was featured in Outing Magazine, which was published in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century under many different titles. Its tagline “the outdoor magazine of human interest”, ceased publication in 1923.

It was published as a book in 1906 and is said to be a companion book to The Call of the Wild, which focused on a domestic dog becoming wild while White Fang was a wild wolf/dog becoming domesticated. When two stories do this, it is called a thematic mirror. Disney also made a movie of White Fang in 1991.

Summary of Story

Story takes place in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890s. A she-wolf has been living with a wolf pack. They have been foraging for food. When food becomes scarce, the she wolf and another wolf named One Eye, leave the pack. She gives birth to five pups. Due to the lack of food in the Alaskan tundra, only one pup survives. It is White Fang. This is his story of growing up as a wolf/dog.

Reactions to book

I liked the story. As an animal lover, I really got into the character of White Fang. The violence of nature in the book did get to me at points, but London was just telling the story from his experiences in the Yukon. And it was a hard and violent environment. It was neat to see the parallels and mirror images between this book and The Call of the Wild. I didn’t expect it, but glad that I read the other book first to be able to experience it.

If you are interested in picking up a copy, you can find it here White Fang

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

Book Review – The Bookshop and the Junglest by Robert L. Perrine

 

the-bookshop

 

It was time to read another middle grade novel and this one came my way. In one of my fiction writing groups on Facebook, Robert L Perrine posted that his novel was free on Amazon.com for a limited time. When I download a book offered to me this way, I make a point of writing a review. Not only to help another writer out, but also as a thank you for giving me a free copy. Authors are giving their books away to get the exposure, so another thing I could do is blog about it on my Monday Morning Blog.

 

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

The Bookshop and the Junglest

Author

Robert L. Perrine

Type of Book

Middle Grade Fiction

Background

This is the first book in The Bookshop series and the first book published by this author. Perrine is a chef turned author. Just shows that writers can come from many different professions in life.

Summary of the story

It is a fantasy and adventure story featuring the characters of Maggy and Ethan Marconi. On the first day of summer vacation, they find a book on their dining room table that must be returned to not just any Bookshop. Little did they know when they brought it back, that they would be taken on an adventure to a place called the Junglest with Mr. Catterwall, the proprietor of the bookshop. During their trip, the trio is threatened by many elements of the jungle and they learn about a young girl who lives there.

Reactions to the book

I really liked the story. The characters were easy to relate to and Perrine told a good story.

The whole setting with books and a bookshop was fun and drew me right in. The lessons that Perrine presented through Mr. Catterwall, some being about historical events while others being life, would be easy to relate to for a middle grade reader. Through the adventure, Ethan learned about courage while Maggie learned about how important it is to have a sibling, even though he can be a dork sometimes.

Be sure to stick with the story, as it got a little long winded in places for me. Through this book, Perrine came up with a fun way to present the idea of being taken away on an adventure when one reads a book. When presented this way, I think it could help kids become more interested in reading. I know I went on a fun adventure when I read this one.

I would recommend this fun, adventure novel to any middle grade reader.

If you are interested in learning more about the author or if you are looking for a copy of the book, here is a link to it on Amazon.com The Bookshop and the Junglest

 

Book Review – The Night He Saved Me by Sarah Stevens

This is my first New Adult (NA) read. Not knowing what to expect, I did a little research on what this genre is all about. According to Wikipedia, it was recently created to fill a gap between YA and adult books. It covers more adult type themes than YA does and makes the story more relatable to readers 18-30. The New Adult distinction also helps parents to make a decision about whether the book would be appropriate for their YA readers to read. This has been a popular genre for self published authors to pursue. It tends to focus on protagonists post high school coming of age facing more adult type issues.

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Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

The Night He Saved Me

Author

Sarah Stevens

Type of Book

New Adult (NA) Romance

Background

Sarah Stevens is a newly published New Adult Romance Author. This book is her first, just published in June of 2016.

Summary of the story

Katarina (Kat) is a senior in high school who just moved to a new town with her mom. They moved to get away from all of the havoc her brother created in their lives with his addiction. She would have to start all over at an all girls school and build a new social life for herself. She starts to make friends and becomes close to Brenda (Bren). Together they take on the life of a high school senior, parties, hanging out with guys, and frequenting a coffee shop called The Java. One night at a party, everything in Kat’s life changes. And, she meets a guy that is going to make a difference in her life, the one who saves her.

Reactions to the book

Even though I’m not a big fan of romance, I enjoyed this novel.With this book, Amazon had posted a warning for mature themes that may trigger some readers. I was a  startled at first by the jump up in maturity level from the last YA book I read, The Maze Runner, to this book. They are both different types of stories, adventure versus romance, but the beginning of The Night He Saved Me is full of mature themes, so to be a transition from YA to New Adult, it jumped ahead quickly for me.  I was surprised at the number of references to drugs and alcohol in the beginning, but the people who are reading New Adult are readers who are picking out their own books and are able to relate to that culture as being normal at that age. It is a good and engaging story as it goes on from there. I would recommend this book, with the mature themes heads up, in case the reader is sensitive to those types of themes.

If you interested in learning more about the author, you can follow her on Facebook Sarah Stevens – Facebook and Twitter Sarah Stevens

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