Friday, November 17, 2017

The Rise of the Phoenix by Suzanne Burke

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
A fantastic fantasy read for both children and adults! Logan peers into the wardrobe mirror and notices that the phoenix bird symbol on his collar is glowing fiery orange. That night, Logan is transported through his dream to a medieval land of enchanted forests, castles, and dragons. There, he meets a beautiful greyhound named Tess and learns of the 500-year-old mystery of the phoenix! Tess and Logan discover, through King Hywel’s book of secrets, that the phoenix is their only hope of saving the kingdom from certain doom. Can they find Logan’s old wizard friend, who can help decipher the code in the secret book, before a terrifying black mist engulfs the entire kingdom? *Contains illustrations, historical chapters, and educational projects at the end for children to expand their vocabulary and critical thinking skills.

My Thoughts:
Like the other two books in this series, there is so much to love. First, the main character is a greyhound.  I have a group of students who live for books where the main characters are animals. This is a fantasy, and there is so much history involved as well.  The book is a great adventure. There are dragons and wizards, and so much more than middle school kids love to read about. Most importantly this author's book always has something to teach, yet you aren't being preached at.  Middle school is a time when people are judged on so many things by their friends. It is a time of jealousy and bullying. These are issues that are tackled in this book.  In addition to such a great story, we have so much information about greyhounds. You can tell that this is really a passion for this author. I look forward to sharing not only this book with my students but also future books.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Jingle and the Magnificent Seven

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

When Jingle Bell, Santa’s SEIC Santa-Elf-in-Charge) for Southeastern operations of the SBI (Santa Bureau of Investigation) is assigned to recover the naughty list from a rogue elf, he finds himself in need of human partners. He recruits Nep Thomas, a PI in Coral Lakes, Florida. But the problem grows as Jingle, aka Rocky, discovers that his adversary, Rime, is dealing with Abdul Abaddah, a Mid-East terrorist recruiter and financier. More support is needed. Soon, Rocky’s group grows to a magnificent seven, but they face a dirty dozen. Only when the dozen has been neutralized – without serious injury – can Rocky bring Rime to justice.

My Thoughts:
I absolutely loved this book.  It started out very humorously. Nep Thomas first meets the elf who sets him on the path to track down a rogue elf, on a south Florida beach.  I thought the banter between Nep and his on again off again girl Cassie was funny. He invites her over for crepes at Rocky the elf’s insistence. Where she didn’t believe the story in the beginning she is the one who first believes. One of the other things I liked was the conflict in the story. A rogue elf steals Santa’s Naughty-Nice List with the intent to sell it to a terrorist.  Not only does he steal the list, he sabotages the computer system so Santa has no backup list. The rag-tag team that is assembled to accomplish this mission was wonderful.  There was the suspense and the humor in just the right dose to keep the story moving forward.  I may need to check out other books by this author.

About the Author
Randy was born and reared in Williamston, North Carolina, a small town in the northeastern part of the state. From there, he says he inherited a sense of responsibility, a belief in fair play, and a love of country. As a career US Army officer, he had the opportunity to learn, travel, teach, and hone talents inherited from his parents. Following retirement, he worked in other ventures for the US Government. Every job has in some way been fun. Even the dark days of Vietnam had their light moments, and he cherishes the camaraderie that was an integral part of survival in that hostile world.

At an early age, Randy discovered the town library and the librarian. She was a wonderful lady, who loved to introduce children to books. She engendered in him a love of the written word. Then, one day many years later, he sat at his computer and began to type. About a year later, he had a tome as long and heavy as WAR AND PEACE (or so it seemed). Giving himself every benefit of the doubt, he will simply say, "It stunk." But the seed was planted, and he continued to compose and continued to learn. 

Today, he has short stories in several anthologies, and a growing list of novels to his credit. As a prolific reader, the reads across several genres and takes that into his writing. He has written mysteries, thrillers, an historical, and two fantasy/mystery/thrillers featuring a Santa Elf. The count is now at fourteen and growing. He is a regular contributor to Happy Homicides, a twice annual anthology of cozy short stories. He also has a series of short stories featuring a cattle-herding burro. Wherever his imagination will take him, he follows.

Randy writes because he enjoys it and smiles because life is fun. Learn more about Randy and his work at

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Guest Post Tonya Barbee 10 Tips for Becoming a Better Writer

This is one of my stops during the two month tour for The Little Girl Inside: Owning My Role in My Own Pain by Tonya Barbee. This virtual book tour is organized by Write Now Literary Book Tours. This tour runs October & November.  Follow the tour here.  Book your own tour here WNL
Book Title: The Little Girl Inside: Owning My Role in My Own Pain
ISBN-10: 0692564802
ISBN-13: 978-0692564806
Genre: Non-Fiction
Tonya Barbee

10 Tips for Becoming a Better Writer-

Take classes.
Improve on your trade. 
Read books from authors you would like to be more like, or learn from. 
Be clear and specific. 
Prepare an outline first before you get started. 
Do a mind map of your outline.
Plan your writing.
Research what you are writing about so your book will have correct information. 
Write the first draft without editing what you write. 
Write as you would want to read about what you write about. 
Be relaxed and in a good place when you’re writing.

About The Author

TONYA BARBEE is a novelist and aspiring playwright. Her most recent published work is titled, The Little Girl Inside Owning My Role in My Own Pain. She is currently working on another project that complements this book. Tonya grew up in Durham, NC, a family of four daughters and one son. Her father, Woodrow served his country for twenty years as an Army officer, retired then taught ROTC for another twenty years and her mother, Doris, a college administrator. She is a proud 1980 graduate of Frank W. Ballou High School in Washington, DC. She worked in operations and management for Department of Agriculture for twenty years. For the past ten years, she’s worked as a project manager for Department of Defense in Washington, DC. She studied at National-Louis University where she earned her Masters in Business Administration in 2009.
Although she’s worked her way up the ladder in the federal government, she had no idea she would end up writing professionally however she has always enjoyed sharing her personal life through story telling with those she thought she could help. Then something clicked. As she writes, she is in hopes that her work reaches her readers that have been through something and have contemplated giving up. Her goal is to enable her readers to become empowered to keep moving forward to accomplish their dreams no matter what challenges they have been faced with.
Tonya resides in Bowie, MD with two of her youngest children, Christian and Zachary. Her eldest two, Andrew and Jessica left the nest years ago and have blessed her with seven beautiful grandkids.

About The Book
The Little Girl Inside is a prolific story of triumph and discovery of inner peace. With each page, the reader will be captivated while the author uses the writing pen as a sowing tool-seaming a garment of praise, banner of victory and fabric of joy. With imaginative color, the book is a perfectly designed combination of patterns expressing the maturation of a woman.
A uniquely designed transparent jewel every woman should own in her jewelry box. The Little Girl Inside is a ministry resource tool for women in search for transparency in the human heart. The author shows us how to overcome the inner battle of doing the right thing the wrong way, going from finding love in the wrong places to allowing love to be revealed in the right time and in the right place.


I made room for Sir Intellectual to bring what I thought were the remainder of hi things. I also made room on my health insurance policy just in case he didn't have any. Too bad it didn't occur to me to ask him. My ability to confront was non-existent. I decided not to wait until I returned to work to handle it. I contacted my carrier and updated my policy to include my new husband. The whole time I felt sad that he wasn't contacting his carrier to include me. I had a husband, though what caliber of husband, I wasn't sure. Sometimes I wanted to slap myself for being so needy that I overlooked important things and ignored flags, bells, and whistles.

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Tour hosted by Write Now Literary