Book Review – Blended by Sharon M. Draper

Book Review

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

It has been a while sincemy last post. For the past couple of months, we were getting a property we own ready for sale and that brought us right into the holiday season. No excuses though, I need to make time for the things I want to do. I’m back now and will just keep on posting like I was before.

Hope you had a great holiday season, despite COVID. I’m sitting at our dining room table looking at our Christmas Tree decorated with lights and ornaments. Our family had fun over the holidays even though it felt different without having our normal bigger family celebration together.

Have you checked in with that teen in your life yet? Our young adults are making the best of the situation by getting outside and doing the things that they can. The last couple of nights we have had good talks about snowboarding and today I got to see some GoPro coverage of their day on the slopes. It is fun to share enthusiasm with them about something they love to do. What are some of the things your teens are into?

Along the theme of books with a focus on racial issues, Sharon M. Draper writes her books about the young African American experience. I picked up this book at a local bookstore to support them. The name of the bookstore is Content Bookstore and it is located in Northfield, MN. Here is a link to their website. https://contentbookstore.com/

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Blended

Author

Sharon M. Draper

Type of Book

Middle Grade Fiction

Background

Sharon M. Draper has written over thirty books for teen readers. She has won many awards for them including Coretta Scott King Author Award for books about the young and adolescent African American experience and the John Steptoe Award for new talent. Draper was also the 1997 Teacher of the Year and was named the Ohio Pioneer in Education by the Ohio State Board of Education.

Summary of the book

This is the story of Isabella Badia Thornton, an eleven-year-old girl whose has one black parent and one white parent. The story is her life told from her perspective. Not only growing up as an eleven-year-old girl, but also having two divorced parents and blending their families when they both wind up getting remarried.

Reaction to the book

I loved the book. I could relate to Isabella and the things she went through as an eleven-year-old girl growing up. Draper did a nice job of bringing in the issues she faced with her race, even at her young age. With the increased awareness of Black Live Matter in our society, I picked up on a few more what would have been nuances to me before but are statements made by the author now. Through this book, we see some of those issues play out through the eyes of Isabella and how she learns that those issues are out there for someone of her mixed race to unfortunately must deal with.

Link to the author

If you want to learn more about Sharon M. Draper, here is a link to her website https://sharondraper.com/

Link to the book

If you want to purchase Blended, it is available through Amazon or the authors website. Or, you can order it online or pick it up from your local book store, like I did from Content Bookstore. If you don’t have a favorite local bookstore, you can shop online at Bookshop.org and have the purchase credited to local bookstores across the country.

My books

Looking for a couple more coming of age teen novels?

The Hard Way

Book #1 of The Way Series

The Hard Way which you can currently purchase through the link on my website. Or, it is free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.

Shawn's Way

Book #2 of The Way Series

Shawn’s Way, my second book, took a publishing delay in 2020, but will be published in the next couple of months. Keep an eye on the blog and my website for information about the book launch, pre ordering your own copy and when the official publication date will be.

If you aren’t interested in purchasing a book, you can follow my writing journey by joining my email list. To be added, there is a subscribe tab on my website where you can fill in your name and email address.

Have a great week!

Book Review – Don’t Tell Anyone by Peg Kehret

Book Review

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

This week from the writing house

Just a little writing inspiration this week. Made me think about how important it is to keep the audience in mind. We want to get them engaged and keep them engaged.

Reading Quote - Patterson

I did a lot of rewrites on The Bully’s Way this past weekend at our cabin and I think the story is really coming together. Looking forward to doing a full read through when I have this editing round done.

When I get to this point with editing, it becomes very motivating to keep writing. I want to see where the story is going to take me. I also keep checking with myself to make sure that not only I like where the story is going, but so will my readers.

Have a great week!

Book Review – Conspiracy 365 – February by Gabrielle Lord

Book Review

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 – The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Book Review

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.

Monday and May Day!

Happy Monday! It also happens to be May 1st so it is officially May Day today.

After a busy week with my day job, I was able to do a pre-publishing look over of my paperback version of The Hard Way on Saturday. Glad I took my time to take one more look at all components. I was hoping to announce it was ready for purchase this weekend, but I need to make one more check with my cover designer to make sure the cover is ready to go. I’m anxious to get it out there, but I want it to be right. Will make the announcement once it is officially online.

The other thing on my mind about writing is how hard it is to balance with a full time or more than full time day job. Many of my friends and co-workers are having a hard time believing that I could get a book published with all of the activities I currently have on my plate. Family life, major changes at work, and trying to get my book out there. I say when it is important, you find the time to do it. It has been hard trying to make it all happen, but I can’t be too hard on myself. I believe it will happen when the time is right. And it will.

Here is the link to the ebook again. Go ahead and take a look if you haven’t done so already. I get excited every time I think about the fact it is actually online.

The Hard Way Thumbnail
The Hard Way E-Book

My next step is creating an active marketing program and exploring places to get my book out to. The audience for my book are readers that have parents and teachers making their reading decisions for them. I need to explore ways to find those groups and get them to look at The Hard Way. And once I find them, figure out some advertising methods that will be the most productive. If they are gained from networking, that would be the best. But, If I must pay for them, then I want to be able to get the biggest bang for my buck.

It is a good thing I am self publishing my book on my own deadline. I will make time in my already tight schedule to get it done, because I want to. With all of the demands on my time and energy, I will need to be patient and know it will get done. If not right away, in its due time.

Just Days Remaining – Countdown to Book Launch – The Hard Way

6 days to go! Less than a week!

I feel like a kid the week before Christmas. Seeing all of the trees, lights and gift displays. I am so close to my dream coming true. When I write next week’s post, I will be a self- published author and have made one of my childhood dreams come true.

It has been a journey. One of hard work and some tears. I respect any author who goes through the process of writing and publishing a book. I’ve had a lot of help and support along the way, from my family and friends to members of Facebook groups, which makes accomplishing this goal mean even more to me. 

What did I get done this weekend?

For my paperback version, I assigned an ISBN number to it.

I set up my CreateSpace account and started uploading my cover and my manuscript. It was really fun to see it all in the close to final format. My editor did the formatting for me, but said sometimes the upload process can change things a bit. I’m glad that she told me, otherwise I might have become frustrated when it didn’t look just right the first time. We will have some minor tweaking to do to the spacing before we publish next weekend.

What is left to do this week?

After we do some additional formatting to the manuscript, I will upload it again and get it ready for the Saturday launch. Since I have been working on getting the e-book and paperback version ready to go, I may be publishing both versions on Saturday. I was originally planning to publish the e-book now and the paperback in a couple of months. After seeing that the processes are pretty much the same for both, as long as we get the reformatting done, they both may be ready to go live at the same time.

Going to the bank today and setting up a new checking account. This is where I’ll have  the royalties from my book go to and hopefully be able to pay expenses out of someday. I didn’t write this book to make a bunch of money. I wrote it because I have a passion for writing. But, if I can make some money, it would be icing on the cake.

Writing and publishing a book is a process with many steps. I know the process for my next one will be easier having done this one. In next week’s post, I’ll be sharing links with you on how to get a hold of a copy of The Hard Way.

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

Book Review

 

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 Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

Book Review

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