Friday, December 25, 2020
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Friday, December 11, 2020
Saturday, December 5, 2020
Saturday, November 14, 2020
Thursday, November 5, 2020
Friday, October 9, 2020
Monday, September 21, 2020
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
I am so excited to announce that my latest book has been published! D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review had this to say about my newest book, Kits and Cubbyholes:
|Kits and Cubbyholes (c) 2020|
'Twelve-year-old Will leads a good life. He's found work and a home in Mister Wilberforce’s house, a friend in eleven-year-old Nellie, who is teaching him to spell words, and leads a fine life, for an orphan, after living alone on the streets of London.
His memories of the day he met Mister Wilberforce, when everything changed, feel murky and incomplete, however. When he encounters strange little animals that appear to be speaking to one another, some pieces of the puzzle of his life begin to fall into place.
As Will stumbles into an adventure that includes a group of disparate children and a fireplace that leads him into another world, young readers are treated to a story that is peppered with observations about social and cultural relationships and different forms of adversity: "Will found himself smiling hesitantly. Jax appeared to be the leader of this group of friends, but he didn’t seem domineering. Despite their different races, the children treated each other like equals. Was that how life was in America? But it couldn’t be so. America was terribly dependent upon slavery from all that Will understood. This comfortable amity between these children befuddled Will, yet at the same time, it pleased him."
Will's search for the portal that will lead him back home isn't the only purpose of this story. The tale moves from raccoons and time travel to encounters with historical figures and kids charged with finding their way home under impossible circumstances that challenge their perceptions of the world.
Loralee Evans crafts a fine adventure in Kits and Cubbyholes that moves from a boy's singular good fortune in a revised life to his ability to take charge of his own future.
Middle grade readers will find the characterization well-done, the dialogue and dialect particularly convincing and believable, and the adventure portion nicely paced. It's not too fast, but is captivating, as Will participates in an adventure with newfound friends from the 21st century and confronts the mystery of what his future will bring.'
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
|Little House on the Prairie |
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder is an enjoyable tale about little Laura moving with her parents, Mary, and baby Carrie from their home in the Big Woods, to a little house they build on the prairie. Through various adventures, from a prairie fire to meeting Native Americans for the first time, Laura learns and grows, finds new things, and learns to let things go.
The novel is told in chronological order, though each chapter is very much its own short story, and is good for bedtime reading between parents and children.
It is an enjoyable tale for children who are interested in learning about the settling of the west by white pioneers.
|Kingdom Keepers: Disney |
After Dark (c) 2005
by Ridley Pearson
As the kids work together following various clues to stop the bad guys, they have all sorts of adventures.
This book, intended for about ages 9-12, is an exciting beginning to the series. Kids and adults who love Disney, and especially who have imagined what it would be like to sneak into a Disney park after dark, would enjoy this book!
Friday, August 21, 2020
|Kingfisher (c) 2020 |
by Clair M. Poulson
Kingfisher by Clair M. Poulson is an exciting book that doesn't let up on the suspense and danger until nearly the very end. I enjoyed learning about what the bad guys would try next. Sadly, I found the bad guys very believable. I say sadly, because I know there are people out there who think like them. They're the most tragic of all. I was genuinely worried for Kingfisher, the talented horse and his people. The bad guys were relentless, and the things they did to cause trouble for Kit Troxler, his sister Paisley, and their friends had me on the edge of my seat from the get go. I listened to the CDs, and enjoyed listening for the most part. The reader represented one character's voice in a way I didn't care for. One of the female characters. I don't think Mr. Poulson intended to make her sound so bubble headed and whiney, and I don't think she would have come across that way had I read the book. Other than that one character, and aside from some dialogue that I found a little bit unnatural, mostly between the bad guys, the story was still very good. I loved the plot, and appreciated the author's knowledge of the way the legal system works, and how police and other special groups that provide security work in high stakes situations. I also have to say I quite liked the lawyer. He was a really stand up guy.
From the beginning of the story I suspected the person who was responsible for the cruel deed that set off the trouble because of various clues, (Poor, poor Sharpshooter did not deserve what happened to him!) but we're not told this for sure until toward the end. Readers aren't kept much in the dark in this story. For the most part, readers know what's going on, what the bad guys are doing, and who the bad guys are. The suspense comes from whether or not the good guys can figure out what the bad guys have planned in time to stop them.
If you enjoy clean, suspenseful fiction with characters who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (not all of them, but the main ones) you will enjoy this book.
Friday, August 14, 2020
To Win A Lady's Heart by Sian Ann Bessey is a sweet story set in the Middle Ages. The beginning is exciting, scary, and sad, and sucks you right in. In turns I was angry and felt sorry for Lord Gilbert. The things that happened when she was a baby weren't his daughter Lady Joanna's fault, yet he treated her like they were, and she suffered unnecessarily because of her dad's short-sightedness.
|To Win A Lady's Heart |
(c) 2016 by Sian Ann Bessey
Despite her dad's unkindness, Lady Joanna is a wonderful character. I would love to be friends with her! She is so kind to everyone, be it her dad despite his gruffness, or the people of the lower classes when she develops genuine concern for the plight they find themselves when someone starts stealing their wool. She is a good match for Sir Lukas who is what a knight ought to be, kind, just, fair, and concerned for people even if they have nothing to offer him in return. He goes far beyond what is required when he goes out of his way to find the wool thieves. Sir Edwyn was a good mentor to both Lady Joanna and Sir Lukas, and I adored him for being a father figure for Lady Joanna when her own father was unwilling/unable to be there for her. The other minor characters, Agnes etc. were also believable, well-rounded characters.
The mystery of who was stealing the wool was mixed well with the archery tournament and the high stakes involved in that. While the plot was a bit predictable (I had at least one of the bad guys figured out well before the reveal) it was still a fun and enjoyable read!
Readers who like clean medieval romance will enjoy this story.
Friday, August 7, 2020
|Banana Split (c) 2012 |
by Josi S. Kilpack
In Banana Split, the seventh book in the Culinary Mysteries which feature Sadie Hoffmiller, a middle aged detective, that very thing has happened. It's the first book of Josi Kilpack's Culinary Mysteries that I've read, though. And in this book, poor Sadie, trying to relax in Hawai'i because of the stresses of other mysteries she's been involved with, finds herself entangled, quite literally, with the deceased body of a young woman found floating in the ocean. Already suffering from PTSD, OCD, etc. she finds herself terrified of leaving her condo, and accepting the police's assessment that the poor young woman must have died either from a drug overdose, or by falling in the water while intoxicated with something.
But then the young woman's eleven year old son shows up at Sadie's doorstep pleading for answers, and Sadie finds the strength to help the young man try to find out what really happened to his mom.
This book is a fun read, especially for people who enjoy mysteries. I appreciate how the victim is treated. Noelani Pouha isn't just a dead body put there for shock value and a reason to solve a mystery. Sadie sees her as a person, gets to know Noelani through her son and her friends, and cares about her, even though Sadie never met her while she was alive. I liked the several different red herrings, which made figuring out the whodunit quite entertaining and kept me guessing.
Saturday, August 1, 2020
|Sheriffs of Savage Wells, The (c) 2016 |
by Sarah M. Eden
In Savage Wells, the last sheriff left because he wanted to go cut down trees in Oregon. That left the spot of sheriff open. Paisley had been acting sheriff for several months as the past sheriff shirked more and more of his duties as he got ready to leave. So she should be perfect for the job. But the town council doesn't exactly agree with her. So they advertise for the job, and Cade O'Brien shows up. Not one to back down easily, Paisley wants to have a try for the job as well, so the town counsel decides to let them have a competition.
The banter between them is at times heated, and at times less so. Paisley really wants the job. She's good at it, and she wants to be able to take care of her aging father. Cade is good at it, too, and wants to settle in a small, quiet town without having to shoot any more bank robbers or horse thieves.
Despite their differences, and conflicts of interest, Paisley and Cade start realizing their attraction to each other. But then before they can discover what their growing feelings for each other might mean, a gang of bank robbers shows up in town, and the two sheriffs will have to put their feelings (good and bad) aside to deal with the bad guys. What happens next? Read the book and find out!
This is a very enjoyable and clean romance. There are a few clean kissing scenes, and the worst word in the book is "Saints!" which Cade is fond of spouting when things aren't going his way. If you like clean, western romance, this is a book you will enjoy!
Friday, July 17, 2020
|Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: A Giant Problem |
by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
A Giant Problem is a fun, suspenseful book that involve step-siblings Nick, Lauri, and Jules. (Nick and Jules's dad is married to Lauri's mom.)
The giants are waking up, and they need a nixie's song to get the giants away from people and out to sea. But Taloa, their Nixie friend is nowhere to be found. Nick, Lauri, and Jules are the only ones who know that so many unexplained fires are caused by so many giants starting to wake up!
Will the kids be able to stop the giants in time before they destroy all of Florida with their fighting, and their fire blowing?
If you enjoy middle grade fantasy with suspense and tension, you will enjoy this. Especially if you like exciting twist endings that will lead into the next book!
Monday, July 13, 2020
|Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great |
(c) 1972 by Judy Blume
Sheila Tubman lives in New York City with her parents and older sister. She lives in the same apartment as Peter Hatchman, the protagonist in Judy Blume's first book of the series, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. While it happens in the same series, this is a standalone book. I enjoyed Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, but I especially liked Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, because as a girl, I was able to empathize with her a bit better. Especially when it came to her uncertainties about the unknown and scary things.
Going to Tarrytown for the summer (the Sleepy Hollow of Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow) she finds a lot to be scared of, from swimming, to dogs, to spiders. But she also grows in a lot of ways that I appreciated.
I recommend this book to young readers, upper elementary and junior high. But I'm sure adult readers wanting a little bit of nostalgia would enjoy it, too.
Friday, July 3, 2020
|Spiderwick Chronicles The Nixie's Song (c) 2009 |
by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
After finding a four leaf clover in the woods as he's trying to entertain his new stepsister, Nicholas can suddenly see things he didn't see before. Including an injured nixie who needs to be taken to water in order to survive! Working together, the stepsiblings are able to help her only to find out something worse: a giant attacked her and her sisters, and Taloa, the nixie, needs their help!
When they reach out to the authors of the Spiderwick Chronicles (this part was rather whimsical coming near to breaking the fourth wall) the authors don't take them seriously! Fortunately, the Grace brothers are there, and do. Working together, will the kids be able to defeat the giant who has found Taloa and will kill her if she stops singing? Or is she, and all of them, doomed?
I recommend this fun book to young and old who enjoy middle grade fantasy.
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
It begins with the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and his fiance Hippolyta making plans for their upcoming marriage when Egeus, a citizen comes to them with a complaint. His daughter Hermia, won't marry Demetrius, the man he's picked for her, and he's upset! Lysander, the man Hermia does love is there too, but nothing Lysander or Hermia say will change Egeus' mind.
Theseus tells Hermia she has four days to choose one of three things: either take the man her dad has chosen, go to a convent, or even possibly face execution! Neither of those things are what she wants, and so Hermia and Lysander plan to run away. But they make a slight mistake in telling Hermia's friend Helena what their plans are. Helena is in love with Demetrius, and he was in love with her too before he decided to change his mind and ask Egeus for Hermia. So Helena, hoping to get on his good side, tells Demetrius what Hermia's plans are. Angry that Hermia has run off, Demetrius goes after Hermia and Lysander, and Helena goes after Demetrius!
Meanwhile in the forest, the king and queen of the fairies are at odds with one another over the fostering of a little boy who was the son of the queen's mortal friend who died in childbirth. Oberon the king, wants custody of the little boy, and the queen, Titania, wants to keep the child. So the king is mad.
Meanwhile, a group of actors including a rather silly fellow named Nick Bottom want to perform for the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, and so they are on their way to Athens in the hopes of performing it.
Oberon, wanting to play a trick on his wife, gets his servant Puck to go look for a plant that has magical properties; when you place the juice on the eyelids of a sleeping person, they will fall in love with the first individual (human or animal) they see upon waking up! Oberon sees Demetrius, followed by Helena, stalking through the forest and berating her for following him. He wants to find Hermia and Lysander, and is mad! Taking pity on Helena, Oberon tells Puck to put the juice on Demetrius' eyes when he is asleep, so that he will fall in love with Helena when he wakes.
But poor Puck, not knowing what they look like, comes upon Lysander and Hermia sleeping (the two are a fair distance apart) and he puts the juice on Lysander's eyes. Unfortunately, Helena finds Lysander and wakes him, and when he looks at her, Lysander thinks he's in love with her!
Puck also finds Nick Bottom, and as a joke, turns his head into a donkey's head.
Realizing his mistake, he also puts the juice on Demetrius' eyes so that Demetrius will fall in love with Helena, which he does, but now both Lysander and Demetrius are in love with Helena, and Hermia is completely left out. But Helena thinks the three of them are playing a joke on her, and is mad at all of them.
Puck puts the juice on Titania's eyes, and when Nick Bottom accidentally wakes her, she thinks she's in love with a man who has a donkey head!
What happens next in this twisty turny romantic comedy? Read or watch the play to find out!
I recommend it to adults as well as children who enjoy Shakespearean comedy.
Friday, June 19, 2020
|Sir Ian Holm in his roll as Bilbo Baggins|
in The Lord of the Rings Movies directed
by Peter Jackson
Sir Ian Holm, (12 September 1931-19 June 2020) who acted in such works as Lord of the Rings, Chariots of Fire, Day after Tomorrow, etc. has passed away. I enjoyed his performances, and thought him to be a supurb actor. I am sad to hear of his passing.
"Go in Peace! I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are an evil"- J.R.R. Tolkien (Gandalf, in Return of the King.)
The Emancipation Proclamation freed all previously enslaved people in the U.S. As the Union Army advanced into the south, or as escaped slaves crossed into Union territory, either action freeing a person from the control of the Confederate government, that person was considered free. When the Union won the war in April 1865, it permanently freed all people previously enslaved under Confederate law. But Texas was remote compared to the other slave states. Granger's announcement on June 19, 1865 helped enforce the Emancipation Proclamation more consistently in Texas. After Juneteenth, there were some people still owned legally as slaves in the Union Border States (slave states that did not join the south during the Civil War) but these people were officially freed on December 6, 1885 by the 13th Amendment.
Thursday, June 11, 2020
|Paul Laurence Dunbar 1872-1906|
Paul Laurence Dunbar was well acquainted with hidden pain. He knew, first hand, the injustice of racism, and how other people who hadn't experienced racism, too often don't see or want to see the pain they are casually causing their fellow humans by the way they treat them. It teaches a powerful lesson in how people who are treated badly, beaten down over and over again, can develop a fake exterior, acting happy and contented because the majority want them to act happy and contented. So they do so for the sake of survival. While I haven't experienced racism myself on a long term basis in my home country, I know what it's like to be systemically pushed down and silenced. I appreciated the poem, because I can relate to much of what it is saying.
Paul Laurence Dunbar was born June 27, 1872. He was the first black person to make enough off of his writing to live off of it. He was born free, but his parents had been slaves before they were freed. He wrote numerous poems and novels during his short lifetime, and died tragically of tuberculosis at the age of 33. I often think, when authors and artists die young, like Paul Laurence Dunbar, Sylvia Plath, or Vincent Van Gogh, what great works they could have created if they lived longer. Of course, that question can't be answered. And I am grateful for what Paul Laurence Dunbar did put out into the world, particularly We Wear the Mask, which is my favorite of his poems.
We Wear the Mask
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Saturday, June 6, 2020
Thursday, June 4, 2020
|Sounder (c) 1969 by William H. Armstrong|
I recommend this book to people who are willing to learn uncomfortable but important things, and who enjoy stories of overcoming hardships, and stories about loving, loyal dogs.
Thursday, May 21, 2020
|View from Castle Always, The (c) 2019 by Melissa McShane|
This book has intimate scenes in it, and is not appropriate for children.
|DragonWatch: Master of the Phantom Isle |
(c) 2019 by Brandon Sanderson
Fans of Kendra and Seth who have followed them since Fablehaven, will love this new book that continues on their adventures and misadventures!
Friday, May 8, 2020
The Categories, with their finalists were:
The Book of Abish by Mette Harrison
Muddy: Where Faith and Polygamy Collide by Dean Hughes
The Girl in Gray by Annette Lyon
Deborah: Prophetess of God by H.B. Moore
Whatever It Takes by Jessica Pack
Mistaken Reality by Traci Hunter Abramson
Sanctuary by Traci Hunter Abramson
Nest Egg by Josi Avari
Robin and Marian by Stephanie Fowers
Death in Focus by Anne Perry
House of Assassins by Larry Correia
The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon
To Kill a Curse by Jennifer Jenkins
The View from Castle Always by Melissa McShane
A Dragon's Fate by Daniel Swenson
Miss Adeline's Match by Joanna Barker
The Paradox of Love by Teri Harman
What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon
A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd
Suffering the Schot by Nichole Van
Hitching the Pitcher by Rebecca Connolly, Sophia Summers, and Heather B. Moore
Love Again at the Heart of Main Street by Meg Easton
Dream of the Next Door Doc by Brenna Jacobs
Finding Jack by Melanie Jacobson
Missed Kiss by Cassie Mae
Young Adult General
Lovely War by Julie Berry
Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell
Paul, Big, and Small by David Glen Robb
Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart
Rayne and Delilah's Midnite Mainee by Jeff Zentner
Young Adult Fantasy
Smoke and Summons by Charlie N. Holmberg
Before the Broken Star by Emily R. King
Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller
The Bone Charmer by Breeana Shields
An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley
Young Adult Speculative
Displaced by Bridget E. Baker
Harper by Jo Cassidy
The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie
Shattered Snow by Rachel Huffmire
Lovestruck by Kate Watson
Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers by Shauna Holyoak
Master of the Phanton Isle by Brandon Mull
The Obsidian Compass by Liesl Shurtliff
A Monster Like Me by Wendy Swore
The Vacant Realm by Mike Thayer
The winner of the General category was Dean Hughes!
The winner of Mystery/Suspense was Traci Hunter Abramson for her book, Mistaken Reality!
The winner of Speculative was Amy Harmon!
The winner of Historical Romance was, again, Amy Harmon!
The winner of Romance was Melanie Jacobson!
The winner of Young Adult General was Julie Berry!
The winner of Young Adult Fantasy was Breeana Shields!
The winner of Young Adult Speculative was Ally Condie!
The winner of Middle Grade was Brandon Mull!
Best Novel by a Debut Author was Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart!
Novel of the Year in Adult Fiction was Sanctuary by Traci Hunter Abramson!
Novel of the Year in Youth Fiction was Lovely War by Julie Berry!
Monday, May 4, 2020
|Miss Adeline’s Match (c) 2019 |
by Joanna Barker
Sunday, April 12, 2020
|To Kill a Curse (2019) |
by Jennifer Jenkins
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
|Monster Like Me, A (c) 2019 |
by Wendy Swore
I recommend this story to kids and adults who like strong protagonists who stumble sometimes, but get back up, and learn important lessons along the way.
|First Girl Child, The (c) 2019 |
by Amy Harmon
When a monk finds a dying woman, his own sister, who has just given birth to a baby boy not far from the Temple Mount where he serves, he witnesses her curse the baby's father who rejected both her and her son before she dies. When the women of the country start giving birth only to boy children, he realizes that his sister's curse has become a reality. But when the queen, seemingly, gives birth to a healthy girl after miscarrying several boys, he begins to think the curse is beginning to lift. Or is it? And why does his little nephew that he has been raising feel such a connection to the little baby princess, and who is the mysterious "Ghost", the woman with white hair and skin, and strange colored eyes he finds weeping under the very tree where his sister died?
The First Girl Child is meant for older ages, having violence and intimate scenes in it not appropriate for young readers.
|Spiderwick Chronicles, The (c) 2013 |
by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
He, his brother, and his sister get embroiled in the world of the Fae folk, some of them benign, others dangerous. When the elves ask Jared to get the book for them, will Jared be able to do as they ask? But what happens when someone, or something else takes the book?
Read the Spiderwick Chronicles and find out.
Readers who enjoy middle grade fantasy will enjoy this story.
Friday, March 13, 2020
Monday, March 2, 2020
|Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone |
(c) 1997 by J. K. Rowling
Not only does Harry have the usual school troubles of tests, difficult assignments, teachers who don't like him, and bullies, but he also has to worry about Volemort, who wants to find him and finish the job he'd tried to do ten years before, when Harry was a baby. Voldemort killed Harry's parents, but oddly failed at killing Harry, leaving only a scar on his forehead.
Fortunately, Harry has the support of his two best friends, Ron and Hermione, as well as the school's headmaster, Dumbledore.
Hopefully, with their help, he can make it through his first year at
|Magic Treehouse Good Morning, Gorillas |
(c) 2010 by Mary Pope Osborne
In this book, Jack and Annie travel to the cloud forest of Africa and meet a family of gorillas. The young gorillas seem to like the kids, and the young gorillas' mothers. But the silverback who leads the group is another story. Will he make friends with Jack and Annie too? And what will happen when a dangerous leopard has its hungry eye on the littlest gorilla? Read the book and find out!
|Magic Treehouse Dragon of the Red Dawn |
(c) 2008 by Mary Pope Osborne
In this story, Annie and Jack travel back to Old Japan to find the secret to peace, and bring that secret back to cheer Merlin up. But while in Edo (the ancient name for Tokyo) they are questioned by Samurai wanting them to show their passports, and they don't have any! Who will come to Jack and Annie's aid? Read the book and find out!
|Magic Tree House Book 1 Dinosaurs Before Dark |
(c) 1992 by Mary Pope Osborne
In the first book, Jack and Annie find the magic treehouse for the first time, and are transported back to the time of the dinosaurs! As they explore, Jack finds a mysterious medallion in the grass with the letter M on it, and they wonder what it could mean. But before long, their attention is diverted by a dangerous T-Rex! How do they escape this ferocious monster? Read the book and find out!
Sunday, March 1, 2020
|Ramona Forever (c) 1984|
by Beverly Cleary
|Wyrm King, The (2009) |
by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
This is a fun novella aimed at young readers, but any age who enjoys a good fantasy will enjoy this book.
Thursday, February 13, 2020
|False Prince, The (c) 2013 |
by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Will Sage and the other two boys survive their imprisonment in Conner's house? Will the two boys Conner doesn't pick meet the fate of the first boy? And who knew an astounding twist will come toward the end?
If you like adventures with plucky teens as the protagonists in fantastical worlds, then you'll enjoy this book!
Wednesday, February 5, 2020
|Henry and the Clubhouse |
(c) 1962 by Beverly Cleary
Monday, February 3, 2020
|Henry Huggins (c) 1950 by Beverly Cleary|