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 – 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.

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! 

Why do I write?

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017!

In honor of ringing in the new year, I decided to take time to reflect on why I write. Not only to understand why I do, but to give myself a starting point of understanding my process and to help me harness that energy into my writing goals and blogs for 2017.

Continue reading “Why do I write?”

Book Review – The Maze Runner by James Dashner

This was the first one of James Dashner’s books I have read. It just happened to be sitting on our coffee table because our high school sophomore had it as an assigned reading for his English class. It has been on my reading list for a while, but my to-do list had a couple of things left to finish before I could start it. As I finished up those tasks, I kept seeing the book and longed to sit down in my comfy chair and read it. When I was finally able to pick it up from the coffee table, I had a hard time putting it down.

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Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

The Maze Runner

Author

James Dashner

Type of Book

YA – High School level reading – dystopian science fiction

Background

20th Century Fox released a film adaptation of the book in September of 2014

Summary of the story

Thomas is brought to a place called the Glade with his memories of the past wiped clean from his mind. It was a place where a group of teenagers, all brought to the Glade the same way Thomas was, already lived. Where they lived is found in the middle of a maze the teens have been trying to find their way out of. The story is of the group coming together to figure out the puzzle and to fight off creatures called the Grievers who lived in the maze and kept them from getting out.

Reactions to the book

I really enjoyed the book. I had a hard time putting it down. The characters were engaging and I found Dashner’s writing style easy to read.

The story is like The Hunger Games trilogy in the survival of the fittest and dystopian themes found in both books. I liked the premise of the teens being challenged to find their way out and were forced to when their world started to change. They didn’t sit around like a lot of teens have done if they were faced with challenging circumstances. It was inspiring.

Being a writer myself, I understood the ending was written the way it was to set up the sequel, The Scorch Trials which I added to my reading list. I think the way it was written took away from the punch that the actual story gives you at the end. Many books have done cliffhanger endings to provide suspense for their next book. In this case, the ending seemed to be the beginning of book two, where I think it could have been written as the beginning of book two instead. Probably just his style and a different way of doing it. I would recommend the book as a good teen read.

If you are looking for more information abut the writer, here is his website James Dashner .

If you are looking for a copy of the book, here is the link to it on Amazon The Maze Runner