Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Indecent by Ethan Brant

Genre: Young Adult, Adult, Suspence
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:

Based on true events!

There was a time when six countries were united by one man named Tito. He defended the country from the tyranny of Hitler, thus establishing himself as a leader. His system of government was Socialism controlled by his Secret Police¾the UDBA. Most of the population was thrilled to live such a life and they considered the agents their protectors, but one brilliant kid disagreed. 

Zlatan, at the age of sixteen, decides to live outside the system, but that leads him to prison, to serve a sentence of five years. Inside he meets his teacher, Uncle, a former spy for Tito’s Gestapo, who arranges an early release for him, but it comes with a high price. 

In front of the prison gates, two agents catch him and give him an ultimatum¾do or die. Zlatan agrees to their criminal requests but not for ”King and Country” but for the freedom he craves. His actions lead him to discover something dark in the pit of his mind. He learns there are greater things to fear than the police and other criminals. He must answer the question . . . 


Be the first one to find out in this debut novella by a young author, filled with suspense and psychological battles of an abnormally self-aware man.

My Thoughts

If you are looking for a light, easy, feel good read, then put this book down. This young talented writer knows how to draw out the emotions in his readers. His book is a fictionalized account of actual events.  His main character Zlatan has found himself in a situation where he is searching for freedom. The acceptance of what he hopes will give him that turns out not to be freedom. We see this young man go from a period in his life where he is a small time criminal who ends up in prison, to a young man who accepts what he thinks will be his ticket out. He leaves the prison only to find himself in a deeper hole. It makes you wonder how dark a person is willing to let their soul get. For Zlatan you can see the struggle within. He is power hungry yet you still see a side of him that wants to be rid of all the evil.  We can remove ourselves from bad situations and turn our lives around. Unfortunately the things we have done in our past, no matter how much we are able to cover them up still haunt our thoughts and memories.  This up and coming author has done a great job of touching a nerve in his readers. It makes us take a deeper look inside our own selves. With the exception of  a small amount of language I didn’t care for, I would definitely recommend this book.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Guest Post - Radine Nehring

I am pleased to have Radine Nehring write a guest post for me.  When I read it I immediately thought, "this is exactly the way to speak to my students who think I am crazy when I talk about hearing voices."  Please enjoy the post and check out her book.

A discussion of writers as "weirdos" because they hear voices in their heads has been going 'round Twitter recently.

As a famous heroine in fiction would say--"Fiddle de-de."  Nothing weird about voices in our heads. Truth be told, which of us does not hear interior voices?

Some of the time they are us speaking silently to ourselves. "Whew--look at those tattoos. What will they look like when she's 80?"  "Sheesh, another one who ran a red light on the end of yellow."  "I used to be slender, and look at me now. Still--the extra weight gave me worthwhile cleavage." "What am I gonna do about _____________?" (Fill in the blank.)  And, "I miss her so much, but at least I can still hear her voice. I pray that memory never fades."

Admit it. You, too, hear those "yours alone" voices--or at least your non-verbal voice and the voices of those close to you. That is NOT weird.

Yes, I am a writer and yes, I hear voices in my head. Some are me speaking to myself about my work as an author, and, at other times, about my life in general. These voices make no outward sound. In addition, when I'm working on a short story or novel, editing my work, or just reading something I wrote, I definitely hear my characters as they speak their lines. Thing is, would they come out as believable if their voices weren't heard somewhere? Do they sound like real people? Is her voice distinguishable from his? Call it playing God if you want, but fiction writers are in the business of creating quasi-real characters, whether earthlings, or a being from a galaxy far, far away. My friend, those beings HAVE to communicate--first, to their creator, and then to everyone who reads their story.

Is that what makes up a writer's voice--which is something we hear talked about frequently? Partly, yes, but the term is usually applied in a more generic way. A writer's voice is a composite of all that person is as a writer, plus the words they put in the mouths of their characters. I wonder--How often do people reading a series of books by one of their favorite authors have a feeling of closeness to that author simply because they are steeped in a special series of voices the writer has created? 

Brief bio and links for Radine Nehring
For more than twenty years, Radine Trees Nehring's magazine features, essays, newspaper articles, and radio broadcasts have shared colorful stories about the people, places, events, and natural world near her Arkansas home.

In 2002, Radine's first mystery novel, A VALLEY TO DIE FOR, was published and, in 2003 became a Macavity Award Nominee.  Since that time she has continued to earn writing awards as she enthralls her original fans and attracts new ones with her signature blend of down-home Arkansas sightseeing and cozy amateur sleuthing by active retirees Henry King and Carrie McCrite King.

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Twitter:   @RTNehring

Buy link for Portrait to Die For

Sunday, September 11, 2016

9/11 Remembered

On this day fifteen years ago, the face of America was changed forever with the attacks on America. This last Friday I did my 9/11 presentation for my sixth graders, most who were born around 2006. Only a few of them had any information about that day. I had two students whose parents lived in some part of New York at the time and had shared info with them. I had one student who lost an uncle in one of the towers.

I had three administrators and a few of he teachers come in throughout the day to sit through my presentation. We started off talking about what freedom is and isn't. Then we talked about positive and negative characteristics in people such as tolerance - intolerance, love - hatred. I had a list of them and asked students what was significant about them. They realized they were opposites and the list on the left was positive and what we wanted to see in people and the list on the right was negative and what we saw in the terrorists that day.

I was careful with the pictures I showed them. I showed them what the Towers, Pentagon, and flight 93 looked like before they were hit and then afterwards. My husband, daughter and I were in New York City ten months after 9/11. One of the first things we did was visit the Intrepid Museum. They had set up a makeshift memorial inside. I showed a timeline to the students of that event from pictures I had taken at that memorial.  I showed them pictures of Ground Zero I had taken. We talked about the memorials that people created.  Finally I told them of the personal connections I had to that day. I first learned about the events from one of my students who came running into the school pounding on my hall doors screaming my name. She was in a panic. Since my daughter danced with her I assumed something terrible had happened to her parents. I let her in and she shot past me running to my room to turn on the TV. She and her family had been in NY with our principal and his family just a few months before and had been at the top of the Towers.  We ran up the hallway and told another teacher to turn on his TV and then ran and told the principal. Our principal made us leave the TVs on all day long. We had block scheduling, so that meant I had sixth graders first thing for ninety minutes. We sat and talked and about what we were seeing. I tried to reassure them that everything was okay when I didn't know if it was. They started talking about what they would do if they were in the Towers.  That made me wonder what would happen if three teens found themselves in the Twin Towers on 9/11. That was what sparked the idea for my book Steps to Courage.

 I cried as I wrote that book because it was hard. It brought back all the memories and all of the feelings I had that day. To this day I can't read my book without crying. I did a lot of research. I worked with a lady at school who had lived in New Jersey and was able to help me with a lot of the information I needed about subways. We talked for hours about what it was like for her on that day.  There were several personal connections that day.  My husbands sister lived in Washington, D.C.   She said the explosion at the Pentagon was so strong it threw her dishes out of her cabinets. His cousin's daughter had gone across the street from the Pentagon to pick up printing for a meeting. She stepped out in time to see the plane hit.  We didn't hear from her for three days so we didn't know if she was alive or not.  My sister lost a former roommate in one of the towers. She'd left behind a husband and a one year old. They never found her body. I remember her aunt coming to tell us about a memorial service for her and how they'd finally had her declared legally dead so they could move on.

I want my students to understand that fear, hatred and bigotry are just a few of the things that prompted these attacks.  I also wanted them to see that we as Americans join together to show compassion during a time of adversity. Those of us who lived through that day will always remember. May we all remember those who lost their lives on that day.

I have included the powerpoint I showed to my students.