Book Review – House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Book Review Featured Image

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

How was your week last week? Get a chance to check in with that teen in your life? Our Young Adults were on Spring Break. They had a couple of friends stop by and visit and did a lot of sleeping in.

Hope you had a wonderful Easter. We had a family Easter dinner yesterday. While we were waiting for the side dishes to get ready, our oldest son was working with Jim on guitar chords. It was so nice to see Jim as the teacher and our son anxious to learn.

April is National Autism Awareness Month

April is National Autism Awareness Month. What is Autism? Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a serious developmental disorder of the nervous system that impairs the ability to communicate or interact. It causes a person to have restricted or repetitive behavior.  I’ll be focusing the posts this month towards Autism to raise awareness about what Autism is and what we can do to accept those who have this disorder.

Since 2011, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) has been referring to April as Autism Acceptance Month in an effort to gain acceptance of those who have autism. Acceptance is one of the biggest barriers to finding and building a strong support system for autistic individuals.

To kick off our theme of Autism this month, the book I picked to review is novel about a high functioning autistic individual who thought he was doing a good thing, but it wound up being not so good. He was only following the rules.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

House Rules

Author

Jodi Picoult

Type of Book

Mystery, Thriller

Author Background

Jodi Picoult is an American writer who has published twenty-six novels. House Rules is the eighteenth one. Her style is one of a storyteller. And this novel is no exception. She has done her research but has also experienced autism through her cousin, who was profoundly autistic.

Summary of the book

House Rules is the story about Jacob Hunt, who has a form of autism called Asperger Syndrome. He is very intelligent and has a deep knowledge of crime scenes and criminal investigations. He starts working with a private tutor, Jess Ogilvy, who he starts to have feelings for, in his own way. One day, while meeting her for a session, he finds her at the house she is staying at dead. The rest of the story is the investigation and how Jacob becomes involved in it.

Reaction to the book

I really liked the book. She did a great job of portraying the character Jacob and how he dealt with Aspbergers and how the people around him had to deal with him. Reading about Autism through the use of an engaging novel helps to not only learn about the disorder, but it makes the situation more relatable for the reader.

If you want to learn more about Joi Picoult, here is a link to her website Jodi Picoult

If you want to purchase House Rules, here is a link to Amazon – House Rules. Or you can pick it up from your local bookstore or shop Bookshop.org and have the purchase credited to them.

Happy Birthday picture for The Hard Way
Photo by Morgan Lane on Unsplash

Happy Birthday to The Hard Way

This month is a big month for me too! On April 12th, we will be celebrating four years since The Hard Way was first published.

Cover design of my first book

It is a coming of age novel focusing on the teen challenges of peer pressure and the importance of choosing the right friends. Be sure to take a look at the books tab of my website to find out more about The Hard Way. Here is a link The Hard Way.

Have a great week!

Book Review – Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith

Book Review Featured Image

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

How was your week last week? Get a chance to check in with that teen in your life?

March is Women’s History Month

Women's History Month Logo

How was March designated as Women’s History Month? In 1980 President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the week of March 8th as Women’s History Week. Selecting this week corresponds with International Women’s Day which falls on March 8th. It changed from being a week long designation to a month in 1987.  

I’ll be focusing the posts this month towards women who have done inspiring things or have made contributions to our country’s history. To kick off our theme of women this month, the book I am reviewing is a memoir of a woman who shares her coming-of-age story. Not only do we get her story growing up Black in America, but also on a relationship between a mother and a daughter.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Ordinary Light

Author

Tracy K. Smith

Type of Book

Memoir

Author Background

Tracy K. Smith is an author and a poet. She was a Poet Laureate, which is an honored achievement one has to be appointed to serve. They seek to raise a greater appreciation for reading and the writing of poetry. Her memoir was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award for nonfiction.

Summary of the book

Ordinary Light is a coming-of-age story about our author, Tracy K. Smith, and her relationship with her mom. The story starts with her as a young girl, the youngest of five children, and showed us how she lived a pretty good life. When her mom became sick with cancer while she was in high school, she struggles trying to relate to her mom. But through her writing, Smith was able to come to terms what she did in her life and what she missed out on.

Reaction to the book

Her memoir was very relateable for me. We have similar stories as we both grew up as teenagers in the 80s and my mom also passed away from cancer. My mom’s passing happened later in life for me, so I don’t know hard it must have been for Smith to lose her mom in her 20s, when she was just getting her feet under her as a fledgling adult.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to a young adult reader. Her story is very relateable and she tells it from the perspective of not only dealing with the challenges of being a teenager, but also being Black in America.

If you want to learn more about Tracy K. Smith follow this link to Wikipedia – Tracy K. Smith

If you want to purchase Ordinary Light, here is a link to do just that – Ordinary Light. Or you can pick it up from your local bookstore or shop Bookshop.org and have the purchase credited to your favorite local independent book seller.

Another coming of age story

Cover design of my first book

Looking for another coming of age teen novel? Why not check out The Hard Way which you can currently purchase through the books tab on my website – The Hard Way

Shawn’s Way, the second book in The Way Series, will be publishing later this year. Be sure to stay tuned to the blog or my website for updates.

Have a great week!

Book Review – Death of Innocence by Mamie Till-Mobley and Christopher Benson

Book Review

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

February is Black History Month. I’ll be focusing this month’s posts towards people and events that have shaped our country’s view of different races.

How was your week last week? Did you get a chance to check in with the teen in your life? Hey teens! Did you check in with the adult in your life? I bet they would love it if you did.

This month’s book review is a true story. It is told by the mother of a fourteen-year-old teenager who was a victim of a hate crime while taking a trip with his family and friends to Mississippi. She tell us what happened, her response in the aftermath, and how it was a spark to the civil right movement.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Death of Innocence – The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America

Authors

Mamie Till-Mobley and Christopher Benson

Type of Book

Non-Fiction – Biography and True Crime

Author Background

Mamie Till-Mobley, mother of Emmett Till, tells us about her life as a mother and a civil rights activist. When she said that she wanted to write a book about what happened to Emmett, Christopher Benson, the co-author of this book, was introduced to her and listened to her story. Six months after they started working together, Mamie passed away. Benson wound up writing her story and making the April 1st deadline for the start of the publication process.

Summary of the book

The first part of the book introduces us to Emmett Till and his mother Mamie Till. Emmett was just fourteen years old when his mother said it was ok to go to Mississippi with friends and family in August of 1955. While on this trip, he was killed for supposedly whistling at a white woman. We are taken through the trial in Mississippi where the two white men were acquitted. To story continues after the trial when Mamie becomes a teacher. Through her teaching and speaking about what happened to Emmett, she became a voice for the civil rights movement.

Reaction to the book

I loved the book. The way the book was written, I really got to know Emmett and Mamie in the beginning, and it made me personally vested in their story. It was hard to read about how he was killed, but the fact that she became an advocate for the civil rights out of what happened to her son is very inspiring. With the story centering on a teenager, and it providing some of the history of the civil rights movement, I believe it would be a good read for a young adult reader.

Link to the authors

If you want to learn more about Mamie Till-Mobley, (she remarried in 1957), check out her page on Wikipedia Mamie Till-Mobley.

If you want to learn more about Christopher Benson, here is a link to his website at Northwestern University, Christoper Benson.

Link to the book

If you want to purchase Death of Innocence, here is a link to Amazon – Death of Innocence . Or you can pick it up from your local bookstore or shop online at Bookshop.org and have your purchase credited to them.

The Hard Way

Peer pressure is one of the challenge teens face. If you are looking for a good novel for the teen or young adult audience which fouces on this issue, here’s a link to a book review of The Hard Way.

Have a great week!

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 – The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Book Review

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 – Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Book Review

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

How was your week last week? I was busy starting my new “day job”. It was a challenge to change my routine back to going to work every day. But it was nice to be going to my office (dining room table) to work from home. I’m excited to be working again, but with COVID still an issue, it’s nice to not have to go to an office yet. It is a part of the new world we are living in. We then took this weekend for some family time at the cabin.

Did you try and reach out to any teens this week? Take the time to check in and see if they just may need someone to listen? Please let me know in the comments below.

Read any good books lately? I have read quite a few more than normal due to the COVID stay at home movement. I have been trying not only read for enjoyment, but also to learn a little something too. With the recent racial events (which have been going on for a lot longer than the last few months), I’ve been reading books other than fiction to understand how much I really know about race and our history.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned in my What Ya Reading Wednesday? Instgram post that I was reading Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. This book is a remix of the book originally written by Kendi called Stamped from the Beginning written for a young adult audience. And since that’s the audience I’m writing for, I thought I’d read that version instead.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You

Author
Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Type of Book
Teen or Young Adult Non-Fiction

Background
This is a remix of a book originally written by Kendi called Stamped from the Beginning. This version was written for a young adult audience.

Summary of the book
The first thing the author tells you is that this isn’t a history book. And it isn’t. What it shows you is the other side of what we have been taught about our history in school.

Reaction to the book
I enjoyed the read and found the book to be very informative. The remix was written in a very engaging way for teens and young adults. It tells the history of our country from a different angle. It’s like a court case, this book gives a chance to hear all sides of the case before we can confirm what actually happened. It seems like we have always had our history told from only one side. I would recommend this book for the young adult audience, however, adults, be ready to talk about it. They will have questions about why we let politics and the economy dictate how we treated citizens of our country. When I think about it, people protect what they have and don’t want it to change. They were taught not to trust these citizens, even though, these citizens wanted the same things out of their life in America as they did.

Link to the authors
If you want to learn more about the authors, here are the links to their websites – Jason Reynolds Website and Ibram X. Kendi Website

Link to the book
If you want to purchase this book, here’s a link to Amazon Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You. Or, you could go to Bookshop.org and purchase your book through your favorite independent book seller.

After reading this book, it made me approach the history of our country from a different perspective. It is like when three people see the same event. Each one has their own version of what happened. I’m not trying to discount any one version as being less important, we just need to be open minded to the other versions of the same story to form our opinion on what really happened.

The internet has given us the opportunity to see those additional sides of a story. For example, we’re able to get online and see what happened in France yesterday, basically real time. But, you can’t believe everything you read either. Some of these “sides” of the story can be exaggerated just to get your attention. Or, are told before the reporting agency has all of the facts, just to be the first one to get the story out there.

Writing for the teen/young adult market is kind of a group of readers that is forgotten about. There are many children’s and adult books out there. Teens are a hard group to reach. Many of them will tell you that they don’t even read the books they are assigned for class. But, maybe those books aren’t as engaging as they need to be? Or are written in a language that’s really relatable to them?

Authors can take the challenge of engaging teens to read through the books they write. I hope my books, The Hard Way and soon to be published, Shawn’s Way, are resources for teens to go to when they need help working through the challenges they are facing. Here is a link for you to pick up a copy of The Hard Way, a teen novel which discusses the challeneges of peer pressure and choosing the right friends. The Hard Way by Selma P. Verde

What books would you suggest as good resources for teens? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Book Review – The Hard Way by Selma P. Verde

Book Review

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

Book Review

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.

Hark! Who goes there? Why it’s William Shakespeare, again!

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog?

About a month ago, I posted an update and wrote about William Shakespeare. I was inspired by a couple of social media posts which became popular when stay at home orders were starting to take affect throughout the country with the Coronavirus outbreak. This past week, I saw mention of his April 23rd birthday and decided to take another look at this well-known literary playwright.

William Shakespeare celebrated his 456th birthday and the 404th anniversary of his death last week. The experts aren’t sure of the exact date of his birth, but they do know he was baptized on April 26th.

His birthday tends to fall on St. George’s Day, England’s National Day. Who was St. George? He’s the patron saint of England and parts of Portugal and Spain, a Christian martyr, and celebrated as the ideal for martial valor and selflessness. Legend has it that he was a soldier in the Roman Army who slayed a dragon and saved a princess. Most of the time, St. George’s Day is celebrated on Shakespeare’s actual birthday. However, if it falls during the week of Easter, then it’s observed the weekday following the celebration of Easter. Due to the Coronavirus, the British were asked to fly the flag from their homes instead of going out and celebrating this year.

A couple of additional facts about him,

-According to shakespeare.org.uk (a website dedicated to a charity which cares for the Shakespeare sites and offers tours and information about Shakespeare and his family), Shakespeare was born to John and Mary Shakespeare. He was the third of eight children and the oldest surviving son. His two older sisters, Joan and Margaret both died before reaching the age of two and of his younger siblings, Gilbert, Joan (named after her older sister), Anne, Richard and Edmund. His younger sister Joan was the only one of his siblings to outlive him.

-Upon his father’s death in 1601, he inherited the house which became an inn called Maidenhead and later on the Swan and Maidenhead. It remained an inn until 1847 when the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust bought it and to restore and care for the family history.

-When it comes to him being an actor and a playwright, an interesting thing about the Globe theater, where Shakespeare was an actor and shareholder, it accommodated people from all walks of life, so anyone could see a play. Just like going to an event at a theater or stadium now, what you can afford, will determine where you can sit. At the Globe, the cheap seats were on the ground floor and were open to all of the weather elements. The more expensive seats were in the higher levels complete with comfy seats which were out of the weather. A reversal of how a concert or sporting event is set up now. With the more expensive seats found on the lower levels and the least expensive seating found in upper level “nose bleed section”.


Shakespeare’s writing is complex and sometimes hard to understand. What are your thoughts?

In response to my blog post from March 24th, Authorbookings.com (a part of Story Monsters LLC) reached out and referred me to another Shakespeare resource. When I checked out the website, getshakespeare.com (which will take you to the Story Monsters LLC website), I learned about Sixty-Minute Shakespeare Collection. Cass Foster makes works of Shakespeare accessible for all ages. These versions are not adaptations, but timeless tales that may help make my understanding Shakespeare a lot easier. They are available through the Story Monsters LLC store and are suitable for students in sixth grade and up. I ordered one of the Shakespeare’s plays I haven’t read before, Taming of the Shrew, which was written originally written by Shakespeare between 1590 and 1592, we’ll see how it reads.

As a side note, Authorbookings.com has a great program for book awards and outreach to the schools and media to get in touch with authors, artists, publishers and speakers for school and library visits. My first novel, The Hard Way, is a 2018 honorable mention Dragonfly Book Award winner, through Story Monsters LLC.

As I was reading the reviews for Sixty-Minute Shakespeare, I saw one which was posted by the Woodland Shakespeare Club, now the oldest women’s clubs in California founded in 1886 with the goal to “study, with intellectual and spiritual growth as goals”. It is a literary, multi-generational group, limited to 50 members, that started out just discussing works of Shakespeare, but in 1878, the women started reading works by various authors when they called upon each other at their homes for the meeting. Kind of like the book clubs of today.

According to the article published in the community section of the October 27, 2019 edition of the Davis Enterprise, Woodland Shakespeare Club: Your cup of tea? the California based group reads and discusses books with topics of California to Southern Women Writers to music themed books. The typical meeting is a discussion of a previously chosen book and ending with a cup of tea. Their reading season runs from October to April, with April being the month they celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday with a luncheon and a special cake. Their theme changes from season to season with their recently completed season, 2019-2020, theme being “In Other Words: Shakespeare’s plays reinterpreted, retold and reimagined.” Members read current novels which are similar in type to one of Shakespeare’s plays.

I contacted the president of the group, Anne Hawke, and asked if they have a website. She replied, no it is too expensive for the group. If you Google, Woodland Shakespeare Club, like I did, you’ll find some interesting articles about the group. The group has 50 active members and they aren’t seeking new members. Any potential member must be referred by a current member of the group. When I asked what a favorite read for the group was, she said they enjoyed these Shakespeare plays reinterpreted. The Anne Tyler book, Vinegar Girl, is the Taming of the Shrew retold was one of her personal favorites. Looks like I found my next book to read and review along with the Sixty-Minute Shakespeare version of the story.

Funny how all of that information and a couple of future reads fell out of a second look at Shakespeare’s life. What’s your favorite Shakespeare play? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!

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

Book Review

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!