Posted in Entertainment, Literacy, Reading, Teen, World War II

What I’ve been Reading

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I thought I’d share with you two books I’ve recently read. After a couple of serious posts, I thought I’d lighten things up with a fun one. Well, fun to us bookworms!

The first book is “The Girl in the Blue Coat.”  It’s the story about friendship and betrayal during WWII when everyone was living in fear.  One woman hides a Jewish girl in her back room and one day the girl disappears.  She seeks out the assistance of Hanneke to find this girl and so the story begins.  Hanneke is pulled into the situation and reluctantly does what she can to find the girl.

 

Girl in the Blue Coat by [Hesse, Monica]

The national bestseller and winner of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery

Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.
On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person-a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.
Beautifully written, intricately plotted, and meticulously researched, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, gripping novel about bravery, grief, and love in impossible times.
My Thoughts:

This story was well written and an accurate portrayal of what happened during WWII. I loved Hanneke, she was such a strong girl, even though she didn’t see herself that way. There’s a twist at the end that took me by surprise. A well written historical YA novel. I’d recommend this to both adults and young adults. It was a great read.

The next book I read is also a WWII novel and it’s based on a true story. The title is “Beneath a Scarlet Sky.” It’s the story of Pino and his family during WWII and how Pino helps the resistance by joining the Nazi army. It’s a depiction of the bravery of the Italian people who joined the resistance and helped Jewish families escape into Switzerland.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel by [Sullivan, Mark]

Soon to be a major television event from Pascal Pictures, starring Tom Holland.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, the #1 Amazon Charts bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.

Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.

Fans of All the Light We Cannot SeeThe Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.

 

My Thoughts:

While this is the story about the bravery of the Italians who joined the resistance, it’s also the story of love and loss. The story of Pino and Anna. Pino falls for her hard after he joins the Nazi party and begins spying for the resistance. The war ends and Pino believes he and Anna can now marry and start a family. However, Pino suffers the devastating loss of his love at the very end of the war. It’s incredibly sad and frustrating because he feels incredible guilt that he did not save her.  This is an incredible story and the bravery of the Italians involved in the resistance illustrates that good does triumph over evil. I’d recommend this book to both adults and young adults alike.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. Do you have any books you’d recommend? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Posted in Family, Literacy, Parenting, raising kids, Reading

Inspiring Kids to Read

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m talking about inspiring kids to read.

One of the greatest life skills you can instill in your child is a love of reading. As kids progress through the school system, each grade becomes more challenging, and the need for reading comprehension becomes even more critical.

These kids need to read so they can understand test questions and be able to answer them correctly. When they get older, they’ll need to be able to fill out a job application and read the requirements for medication. Do you know one in seven adults can’t read above the fifth grade level? Isn’t that scary?

Photo credit: EvelynGiggles via Visualhunt.com / CC BY

 

So, how do we instill a love of reading to turn this statistic around? Well, I started when my boys were babies. I read to them and rocked them every night. This did backfire a bit because my oldest wanted to be rocked to sleep EVERY night. You might not want to do the rocking. Some nights it took him FOREVER to fall asleep! But on a positive note there was a lot of bonding! 😉

I continued to read to them as they grew and their grandparents read to them as well. So it became a part of their environment and they didn’t know any other way. It was just one of the things we did.

Photo credit: ThomasLife via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-ND

          Then when my boys started reading on their own, they’d read to us. My youngest who loves reading could sit and read for a couple of hours. I know all there is to know about Transformers, he’s read the book to me so many times. The thing is, we as parents have to be patient and let our littles choose what they want to read, and even if we’ve heard the story fifty million times we need to be enthusiastic and pretend it’s the most awesome story in the world. Because to your child it is.

Photo credit: John-Morgan via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

          We also keep a steady supply of books around the house and our kids read at least twenty minutes a night. My youngest has become a big reader. What books lit that fire? The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. My little guy wants to get all the books in the series. So, I owe a huge thank you to Rick for writing such a compelling stories.

This is the book that started it all 🙂

My oldest who reads only because he has to is now interested in the series. My youngest has introduced him to these books. It does my heart good to hear them talking about books almost as much as they talk about Minecraft.

Another thing that helps is the fact that I write books. 🙂 ( You knew I was going to slip that in, didn’t you?) My oldest has read all three books in the Super Spies series and really enjoyed them. He’s also very proud of his mom.  My youngest read the first one, I believe just to please me, but he’s more interested in Greek Mythology right now and that’s okay, as long as he’s reading.

b569f-the2bsuper2bspies2band2bthe2bcat2blady2bkiller2b500x750              TheSuperSpiesandtheHighSchoolBomber 500x750         TheSuperSpiesandthePiedPiper 500x750

I also read. My boys see me reading for pleasure, and I’m hoping they’ll model this behavior and become lifelong readers as well.

So, that’s how I’ve tried to instill a love of reading with my kids? Do you have any other tips? Please share! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Family, Literacy, Parenting

Improving Literacy starts at Home

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’m back today and I’m talking about literacy in the United States. Did you know one in seven adults would find it difficult to read anything more challenging than a picture book? This is scary.

I find this quite alarming. How can these adults teach their children about the joy of reading, if they can’t read themselves? I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. Parents who can’t read are limited to what they can teach their children. In my opinion, reading is one of the most important skills we can pass on to our kids.

Photo credit: State Library of Queensland, Australia via Visual hunt / No known copyright restrictions

What’s going to happen to our country if we raise a generation of illiterate adults? What happens when all they can do is read text messages? The ability to read and write correctly is going to be a skill that will be in short supply in the future. In my opinion, there’s going to be a great divide between the kids who can read and write and those who get through life typing and reading short text messages. We as parents need to turn the tide on this problem. But what can we do?

Photo credit: DFID – UK Department for International Development viaVisual hunt / CC BY

We can make reading a priority. In our house it’s part of homework. My boys read twenty minutes every night. I talk about the books they’re reading and ask them their opinions. My oldest is in the process of reading my second Super Spies book. I know this story by heart and we discuss the actions of the characters. Could they have handled a situation differently? What would you do differently if you were in that situation? These are good talks and I treasure them. I’m hoping by having these discussions, I’m developing critical thinkers, too.

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What else can we do? We can improve the selection of books available for our kids to read. The more books they have to choose from, the more likely they’ll find something that interests them. This means supporting the libraries in our schools and our public libraries. It also means having a lot of books in our homes.

I also believe we need to accept what our kids want to read. If they want to read graphic novels, so be it. It’s better than not reading. That goes for comic books, too.  If these types of books are what interests your child, show them you support their choices. You’ll be glad you did.

Photo via Visual Hunt

When you think about it, reading helps strengthen the family bond. Imagine as your child grows he develops an affinity for a certain genre of books. Wouldn’t it be awesome to sit with your child and talk about the books he’s read? It would boost his self-esteem if you showed genuine interest in what he’s doing. If you showed you valued his opinion.

A Mom who read my first Super Spies book with her daughter, sent me an e-mail stating that my book opened up a family discussion about what her daughter would do if she were in the same situation as my characters. It was a great bonding moment between them. Isn’t that an awesome feeling? Knowing your book sparked a family bonding moment? It was for me!

b569f-the2bsuper2bspies2band2bthe2bcat2blady2bkiller2b500x750

Reading is also a great stress reliever. Helping your child develop a love of reading early will help him deal with the pressures of being a teenager. I always lost myself in a book during my teen years and it helped me.

For more information on how reading benefits you and your child, check out this post.

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/10-benefits-reading-why-you-should-read-everyday.html

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog, I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any ideas on how to improve literacy, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

The Stone of Valhalla Blog Tour!

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Welcome to The Stone of Valhalla Blog Tour!

A middle-grade fantasy-adventure by Mikey Brooks.

 

Don’t forget to check out the GIVEAWAY at the bottom this post

for a chance to WIN a $25 Amazon Gift card and other great prizes!

 

CoverSynopsis:

Aaron was chosen to save their world, but it might come at the cost of losing his own.

Breaking into an old lady’s basement was supposed to reward 13-year-old Aaron with new friends. Instead he finds an enchanted amulet that transports him to another world—one at war with magic. Before he knows it, he is accused of witchcraft and invited to a bonfire—where he’s the main attraction. If that’s not bad enough, a goblin army shows up and toasts the town…literally. The good news: Aaron escapes being charbroiled. The bad news: the goblins are after him. They want his amulet and will stop at nothing to get it. Battling to find his way home, Aaron teams up with a not-so-magical-wizard and learns it’s his fate to destroy the amulet and save this new world. But is he willing to sacrifice his own?

Check out what these talented authors are saying about it:

The Stone of Valhalla is one of those books that only comes along once in a great while. Brooks doesn’t just create a world, he puts you inside of it, allowing you to experience the wonder in a way that only he can. His characters are likable and fun. His twists leave you asking ‘Why?’ Treat yourself to an exciting adventure through a beautiful new land. Make new friends and be a part of the magic. This is a book that you will not be able to put down!”

—J.R. Simmons, author of Ragesong: Awakening.

The Stone of Valhalla drew me in from the get-go. Aaron’s journey is reminiscent of Dorothy’s trek in The Wizard of Oz. Magic, sword fights, danger, and more danger, sprinkled with humor and unexpected twists. This is one of the ‘best’ fantasy adventures I’ve ever experienced!”

—BBH McChiller, author of The Monster Moon Series.

The Stone of Valhalla is a riveting mystery revealing true friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. Brooks engages the curiosity of middle graders and older sleuths alike, until the very end. Fantastic!”

—L.R.W. Lee, author of The Andy Smithson series.

Excerpt From: Chapter Two: The Penalty of Witchcraft

 

Aaron thought he’d been transported to some kind of renaissancefair. People milled about in the street, all dressed like they belonged on the set of some medieval movie. Most of their faces were stained with dirt, and they wore soiled clothing. Large, wooden buildings, held together by plaster, loomed overhead and all around him. Some had signs announcing specific trades and goods. The sweet smell of bread came from one shop, clearly a bakery. A rotund man stood out front, arguing with an old man who had a silvery- white beard and a long, purple cloak. He was telling the baker that the rolls he had purchased tasted ‘day-old’ and he required a reimbursement.

Several passersby gave Aaron odd glances. One little girl with a group of women dressed like nuns pointed at him and giggled. He thought he heard her call him a buffoon, but she was quickly shushed by one of the women and pulled into a shop.

This is so unreal.

Aaron couldn’t figure out what had happened.

How did I get here? Who are these people?

Aaron waited for someone to jump out and yell, “Surprise, you’re on camera!”

It never happened.

The seconds drew on like hours, and Aaron stood unmoving like a statue in the middle of the dirt road. The sweet smell from the bakery was drowned by the stench of a sweaty mule pulling a cart packed full with what had to be manure. The wind blew and the wafting smell of poo filled Aaron’s nose. He coughed and tried to cover the reek with his shirt.

“Witchcraft! Witchcraft, I say!”

Aaron turned around to see a middle-aged woman with only three teeth shouting hysterically. She pointed directly at him. He looked over his shoulder to ensure no green-skinned, broom-commandeering, warty-faced lady in black stood beside him. There wasn’t anyone there. The noise on the street stopped dead except for the woman. She grabbed a small wooden crate from a cart filled with fresh flowers and stood on it. “Fetch the constable! Don’t let him get away, or he’ll set a curse on our town.”

Five large men formed a group behind the woman and advanced toward Aaron. He didn’t know what to do.

 

Where to Find The Stone of Valhalla:

Exclusive price for the eBook release is just $2.99! (List Price: $4.99)

And only $9.99 for the paperback!(List Price: $12.99)

On April 12th 2014 the price will return to the List Price

Kindle | Paperback

Another special offer:

During The Stone of Valhalla Blog Tour

Mikey’s other great middle-grade eBooks will also be set to the low price of just $0.99!

The Dream Keeper:

Kindle | Nook | Kobo

The Dreamstone:

Kindle | Nook | Kobo

 

You’re Invited to PARTY!!

The online launch party will take place on Thursday, April 10th at 4pm (MST). The party will run for 2 hours and you’re invited to drop by anytime. The longer you stay the more chances you have of winning prizes! We have slew of eBooks to giveaway, as well as a Stone of Valhalla necklace AND a $25 Amazon gift card! It is hosted by LovingtheBookLaunchParty on Facebook. Just follow this link to join the event: http://goo.gl/Q2Fd3r.

What’s that? Another Party!

That’s right! If you’re local to Utah you don’t want to miss this kickin’ party. We are having a launch party to celebrate the release of this awesome new book. Of course there will be plenty of giveaways there too, but what’s even better are the guest authors! Just check out these fabulous names: J. Scott Savage, Chad Morris, Lisa Mangum, Jenni James, Ali Cross, and many more. The Launch Party is: Friday, April 11th from 6-9pm at the Viridian Center in West Jordan, Utah. Follow this link for a map: http://goo.gl/dqVc0u

 

About Mikey Brooks:

Mikey is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several books including the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons as well as the middle-grade fantasy-adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast. You can find more about him and his books at: http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/.

The Giveaways!

giveaways

 

 

 

 

Enter the giveaway below to be entered to win one of the following prizes:

 

$25 Amazon Gift Card

The Stone of Valhalla Necklace

Autographed Paperback of The Stone of Valhalla

Autographed 11×17 Poster

Click the link below to enter via Rafflecopter!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjExNzJlNTU2MzhiMjkwNmFjYmRlNTI4NGVmZTdlOjM=/

Posted in promotion

Middle Shelf: An Awesome E-zine that’s all about Middle Grade Fiction

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve got something short and sweet for you today. I’m here to give Middle Shelf E-zine a shout out. What’s so special about Middle Shelf? It’s an E-zine that specializes in Middle Grade Fiction.

Middle Shelf is a digital-only magazine that features the best books for middle grade readers. Each issue includes author interviews, reviews, and excerpts of top middle grade fiction.

It’s an extension of the larger E-zine titled Shelf Unbound which reviews books for readers. So if you’re looking for a great read for your middle grader, check out Middle Shelf. The subscriptions are free. 🙂

Here’s the link!

http://www.shelfmediagroup.com/pages/introducing-middle-shelf.html

It just so happens that the Emblazoners have an ad in this month’s issue! To find out more about the Emblazoners, which I’m a member of, click here! http://emblazoners.com/

To sign up for our catalog, click here! http://emblazoners.com/our-catalog/

That’s all for today, thanks for stopping by and if you have any great middle grade reads that you’ve read, please share the title! I’d love to hear about them!

Posted in Parenting

What I’ve learned Juggling Motherhood and the Writing Life

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! I’m back today and I’m talking about  what I’ve learned juggling motherhood and the writing life. Those are my two main goals, to become an awesome writer and to be an awesome mother.

This photo was available from Flicker via Penn State News http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/deed.en

These goals are sometimes at odds with each other, because writing takes a lot of time and so does mothering. It’s a little bit easier now because the boys are in school and I get time during the day to write, but I still find myself stealing moments during the evening to write a smidge here and there.

In addition, there’s more to writing than meets the eye. There’s also editing, writing query letters, and finding an agent or publisher. After that, there’s more editing and then you have the unending job of promoting your work once it’s published. Sometimes I have a hard time balancing between promoting my work and actually creating it. Throw my hubby and my kids into the mix and that’s when I need about ten more hours in my day.

I try very hard to carve out some time for the family. I think it’s important. I want my kids growing up feeling valued and loved. It’s kind of a trial and error thing because our kids don’t come with instruction booklets do they? Moreover, with two distinct personalities; the needs of one child are different from the needs of the other child and as a parent; I have to figure out what those needs are. I’m fortunate because I have a hubby who helps!

There are times when I’m in the middle of a great scene and I’m going gang-busters that I’m interrupted because one of my little guys needs some attention. This can be frustrating, but then I think about how I want to be remembered. When I do this, when I imagine the result that I want, it’s much easier to keep my frustration under wraps so my kids feel like their emotional needs are being met. I don’t want to be remembered as the mom who was always saying, “Just a minute.”

Although, there are times when I have to say those words and it’s not always when I’m writing. It may be one of those times when I just need to sit down and take a breath. I tell myself that’s okay too, because if I get drained from always giving, then I can get a little grumpy. 🙂

Taking a break is good for me. Therefore, it would make sense that if it’s good for me, then it’s also good for my kids, so it’s one of those win-win situations. Mom’s less stressed if she takes a little time for herself and that means she’s more fun.

We all want to be one of those “fun” moms, right?

Having kids is a great way to set priorities. The things that seemed so important when I was single just aren’t important any more. When my kids were babies, everyone told me that my life would become busier and more complicated.

So not true. The complicated part anyways. Sure, I’m busier because I want my kids to have all kinds of positive experiences so I’m busy trying to introduce them to new things, but complicated? No way.

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Zoo Trip with my Kidlets! They’re looking at a bear. You can’t tell from the picture. LOL!

Having kids strips away all the meaningless crap you were doing because you just didn’t know any better. My children have simplified my life. I make sure I only spend time on the things that are important to me. That in a nutshell is what I’ve learned juggling Motherhood and The Writing Life.

If you have any thoughts on juggling motherhood and your other endeavors please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Literacy, reviews, Teen

Book Review of “Eleanor and Park”

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! I’m back today and I have a book review for you. Yes, I was able to sneak one in with all my writing and editing! It’s a great way for me to unwind when I’ve been working hard all day. 🙂

The book I’m talking about today is “Eleanor and Park.”

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.

I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.

I absolutely LOVED this story!

It’s about a young girl who doesn’t fit in anywhere. Her name is Eleanor. She’s picked on and bullied because she’s different. She rides the bus every day to school and ends up sitting next to a Korean boy named Park.

It’s a love story that starts out with Eleanor reading comics over Park’s shoulder. The next thing you know he’s bringing her comics to read and then it progresses to Park creating tapes of his favorite music for her.

When I started reading this, I thought it was going to be one of those cute, bubblegum romances, but it isn’t. There’s an element of danger that rears its ugly head and at first, you don’t really see it coming.

I loved the twist at the end. I don’t want to say too much more because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but this story is one of my most favorite so far. The character development was incredible and so was the plot with its giant twist at the end. It brought tears to my eyes. It’s a great story that helps you remember what young love was like.