Friday, July 25, 2014

Leading the Way: Darby's Ranger Noel Dye by A.H. Durshimer III

Genre: Biography, WWII
Source: Purchased a copy

I had the privilege of meeting  the author at a summer workshop. We work in the same district. When I overheard him discussing his book, I looked it up online. I immediately did two things. I ordered the book and scheduled it’s review. I then took my card to him and told him what day the review would be posted.  I was that interested in the book.

Art is extremely knowledgeable about the Vietnam War and the World Wars. Through a friend he had the opportunity to meet Noel Dye, who was one of Darby’s Rangers.  I had heard of Darby’s Rangers. I had watched the movie.  I did not know who Noel Dye was.  Art has skillfully taken this man’s story and told it in a way that you feel like you are sitting in on the interviews.  For me that is important.  I have limited knowledge of wars.  When some part or some person in a war peaks my interest then I dig deeper and learn more.  This book has once again set me on that path and made it easier for me because it included a bibliography.  With all of the facts I was afraid it would read like a list of battle facts.  This is so far from the truth.  I was very impressed with not only the story, but the writing of the story.

Noel is a very down to earth person.  One thing that was obvious as he was telling the story to the author was how vivid his memories were.  My mother and I were discussing this. Her father fought in WWI.  She said the one thing that haunted him was sitting in a fox hole with his buddy having a conversation. When his buddy didn’t answer he looked over and saw his head had been blown off.  She remarked that he had said it just so matter-of-fact.  This is how Noel talks of his injuries and losing his buddies.  These are memories that never leave you.  Hopefully the soldier finds a way to deal with them so they no longer haunt them.

Two other things I loved about this book.  There are a collection of letters that Noel’s family had saved for him. In this way we see what was going through his mind, and how little he was able to relay to his family.  The other thing was the pictures he graciously allowed the author to put into the book. I am very pleased I overheard his conversation mentioning his book.  The funny thing in all of this is that you would think that with such a love of history that Art would teach that subject.  He teaches English.  In my book this makes his students extremely lucky.  When he has to find extra reading materials, be it books, essays, letters, etc. to go with his lesson, he is in a position to do so. He has a wealth of knowledge in his hands. Any parent would be lucky to have him for a teacher. He is currently working on another book. I look forward to reading it when he has it finished.


About the Author

Art Durshimer is a high-school English and journalism teacher in Bradenton, FL. He is married and the father of three children. Durshimer, 56, spent 25 years in various newsrooms as a reporter and editor. He began teaching 11 years ago, fulfilling a longtime goal of working with young people. His wife, Meg, also is a former journalist who now teaches elementary school. Durshimer is a lifelong history buff, a habit he indulges through historical re-enactments and presentations of World War II and the Vietnam War era. He, his wife and children all are Florida natives; his sons Ben, 18, and Jake, 20, are the fourth generation of his family born in the state. Durshimer’s daughter, Amy, and his three grandchildren live near Athens, Ga. His hobbies include historical re-enactments, reading (favorite author is Pat Conroy), writing and beachcombing with his wife on Florida’s gulf and Atlantic beaches.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer Extravaganza Day 2

This is the second day of picture book reviews.  Sit back and see what is available for your little one.

Caterpillars Don’t Check Email – Calee M. Lee

This is a simple story that explains how caterpillars become butterflies. It is full of beautiful photographs. This book is short and simple.


The Queen and the Cats – Calee M. Lee

This is the story of Empress Helena, mother of Constantine. In the story when she visits Cypress with a holy gift she realizes the people are unable to worship in their church because of snakes. The Empress sends a gift to Cypress that will make it possible for people to worship once again.  Read this historical book to find out what gift she sends and with whom she trusts the gift.


We Love Bugs – Calee M. Lee

This is a book of thirty-one poems about bugs. These range from nursery rhymes we remember as a child, “Little Miss Muffet”,  to those I was not familiar with. Read wonderful poems by well  known poets like Emily Dickinson and John Keats. This is a great book to share with your children or grand-children.


Harley the Alligator – Stacie Murphy

Harley was an alligator who loved to swim as fast as she could through the water. One day she was going so fast she couldn’t stop. She slammed into a tree and knocked out a tooth. She was afraid of what the other alligators would think. Read to find out what Harley learns about teeth.


The Nutt Family – Angela Muse

Nutt family Hazel and Fillbert, along with their children Chess and Praline lived in an old Maple tree. The children tied leaves around their necks like capes and pretended to be superheroes. One day a woodpecker, pecking on their home caused Chess to fall from his knothole. His sister Praline jumped out to help him. Soon they found themselves in a real life adventure. This is a wonderful story. I loved the way the author gave each acorn the name of a different type of nut. When I read about them tying leaves around their necks, I was reminded of my sisters and I tying scarves around our necks pretending we could fly as we jumped off of the porch. I also loved the facts at the end of the book about acorns.  Even though I grew up with lots of oak  trees, yet I was still able to learn a lot from this book.


Sparkly Me – Ally Nathaniel

This is a cute book for four to five year olds. This is perfect for the girl who likes all things sparkly. This book teaches them that all the glitter on the outside doesn’t matter. It’s what is on the inside that matters.


Happypotamus – Jason Plassard

This is the story of two very different animals, Walter the Whinceros and Hailey the Happypotamus. Hailey and Walter had similar life experiences. Hailey chose to look at the positive while Walter always looked at the negative. Hailey also trusted God to take care of her.


Carnivors – Aaron Reynolds

I have to say that the book cover is what drew me to this book. The lion, great white shark, and the timber wolf are carnivores. They eat other animals. It bothers them that the other animals talk bad about them. They come up with several plans. When they try them out they discover they need a better plan, How will they solve this problem?




Fumbulgumbul – Jason Sandberg

Mister Gumbul makes delicious cookies. They smell so good he’s followed by a poodle just waiting for him to drop one. When he comes to a puddle he gets a ladder to climb over the puddle. The poodle returns. What will happen? Will the poodle finally get some cookies?


Silly Tilly – Eileen Spinelli

Tilly we learn is a silly goose who does silly things like bathing in apple juice. She combed her feathers with a rake. After all the silly things she did the other barnyard animals had finally had enough. The question you must now discover  is what will happen around the farm with Tilly no longer acting silly.


Tinky and the Baby Butterflies – Susan Spira

Mommy butterfly needed a babysitter and asked if Tinky would do it. Tinky was to keep the babies safe at home. What do you think will happen when they play a simple game of hide-and-seek?


How Oakley Lost His Spots – D.C. Swain

One day Rover asks Oakley where his spots are. Both dogs are dalmatians so Oakley knows he should have spots. He looks all over for them thinking he has lost them. His mother explains when the time is right, he will get his spots, but Oakley doesn’t want to wait. This is a great story about trying to grow up too fast.


I’ll Follow the Moon  Stephanie Lisa Tara

This is a very vivid book full of sensory words that help you understand what happens when turtles hatch. It is told from the baby turtle’s point of view. The common thread is that they follow the moon to get back to the ocean. The language is as beautiful as the pictures. Great way to teach young and old about sea turtles.


Kitty is Looking for Friends – Anat Umansky

This is the story of a kitty looking for a friend to play with. Each animal that offers to play with her is rejected for one reason or another. Will Kitty learn what it takes to be a friend or will she forever remain lonely?


The Camera Shy Monster – Susette Williams

Brooke didn’t like having her picture taken. She makes friends with Nessie the Loch Ness Monster, who also hates to have her picture taken. They decide to hide all day and night. When she gets hungry Nessie tries to bring her food. When they hear people coming they hide again. Soon they realize they can’t stay hidden forever. Read to find out how they solve their problem.


The Day My Parents Got Lost – Susette Williams

A trip to the fair causes distress for a young boy when he loses his parents. He was checking out a game and when he turned around his parents were gone. He checks everywhere and finally stops security for help finding them. This was a wonderful twist on parents losing their child. Great way to teach a lesson.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dangerous Reflections by Shay West

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Source: I received a review copy from the publisher to facilitate my review.

From Goodreads:
Alexis Davenport wants to go home. She hates her new school, her mother for moving her away from her friends, and her father for walking out.

To make matters worse, Alex is haunted by images of strange girls reflected in her mirror. It’s bad enough juggling homework, a relentless bully, boys, and a deadbeat dad; now, she must save the world from an evil presence hell-bent on changing the past – and our futures. Who knew her A+ in history was going to be this important?

My Thoughts:
I love historical fiction. In this case we have a teen, Alexis Davenport whose father has deserted her and her mother taking all of their money with them.  They are forced to live with an aunt in her guest house. She is starting high school, which I itself is traumatic enough.  She makes a couple of friends and then a very bad bully, enemy.  One of the most popular girls is out to get her.  Add to all of that the fact she keeps seeing someone else’s reflection in the mirror and you think things can’t get much worse.  You would be wrong.  Alexis finds herself drawn through the mirror.  She soon learns that the history she loves is being altered.  It’s a good thing she loves history so much.  Now she must do what she has to do to save it, to keep it from being changed. 

I was given an electronic copy from the author to read for this review.  I definitely want to get a physical copy to put on my shelves.  The author has done an excellent job of creating a character that teens will be able to identify with.  They will understand so many of the situations she finds herself in and then be able to escape to another world or time period with the character.  I believe this is a book that won’t stay on my shelves long.  I look forward to the second book as well.
You can learn about the author here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Extravaganza Day 1

I have been receiving a lot of children's picture books to review.  On my Kindle I had a lot of them. I decided to spend a week reading them and writing reviews for them.  I am going to have three days this week where I will post multiple picture book review at one time. Check back on Thursday and Saturday for more picture book reviews.

The Pacifier Tree – Uncle Amos
Johnny is a 3 year old who attends preschool.  Johnny sucks on his pacifier everywhere he goes. His mother knows she’s not the only mother with this problem. She comes up with a plan and calls the other mothers. You really need to read this book to find out what great idea Johnny’s mom came up with to get him to give up his pacifier.


The Night of the Great Polar Bear – Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

Let me start by saying that not only is this a wonderful story, but the illustrations are gorgeous. Little Bear decided to hunt with Kalle the Great Polar Bear. Little Bear felt lucky to see the beauty of the night. It also made him feel brave. When the wind picks up Little bear continues until the ground beneath him disappears and he falls into the big ocean. He is pulled from the water by a large polar bear. What lessons will Little Bear learn from Kalle the Great Polar Bear? I read this book over and over. Great for teaching about being passionate for your dreams.


That’s How Much I Love You – Lisa Tawn Bergren
Such a sweet book about a mother and child’s love for each other. The characters are dogs. They proceed to compare their love for each other to different items such as the stars or grains of sand.


Who, Who, Who Are You? – Bobby Bishop

Oxford the owl was afraid of the dark. He decides to face his fears. He flies off into the night and meets several new friends. He discovers that things weren’t as scary as he supposed they were.


Anna and the Magic Paintbrush – Chris Blackley
Anna lives in the mountains in Russia. She shows kindness to an old man by giving him some water. He presents her with a magic paintbrush. She can use it three times. What will Anna paint? Will she use it wisely or squander it? Great lesson of the rewards of helping others.


The Boy With No Friends – Alexis Chacon
Pengui is sad because he has no friends. He sees two boys and tries to make friends with them. They only want to be friends if he will do what they say. They want him to smoke.  Pengui walks away because he wants to do what is right and knows that those two boys are not true friends. Read to find out if Pengui ever finds a friend.


Bubba The Bulldog Tries to Smile – Bree Clausen
Bubba wanted to make Rya happy. He wanted to smile. Since he was a bulldog his lips were so heavy he couldn’t make it happen. After Ryan broke his leg it became even more important for him to make Ryan smile. Read this book to discover what lengths this dog will go to just to smile for his owner.


The Adventures of Pigallito – Ronald and Olga Darling
I loved this book. One reason is because it’s a great story about believing in the impossible, going after his dreams. Pigallito finds fun and beauty in life. He stands up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Great story. The illustrations are bright, cheery and colorful.


Derek the Fireless Dragon – Kathryn Dionne
Derek was a dragon unable to breathe fire. He became so embarrassed he went to the top of a mountain. The thin air caused him to sneeze and realize he could fly. This is just one of many cute poems. Others include aliens, a big frog that just needs love. My favorite was probably “Baby Tucker”. When he asks his mom if it’s a girl can he exchange her.  It brought back memories of my sister asking my mom if we could give our baby sister back to the hospital. These poems are simple. Some have morals, some are full of sensory details and imagery. This would be a wonderful way to introduce your young one to poetry.


Bee Witched – Julia Dweck

This is a wonderful story about a young girl named Beetrice who loves bees. She dresses like a bee. Her favorite grade is a “B”. One day her class goes on a picnic. Beatrice sits watching the bees, wishing she was a bee. After swallowing a drop of honey from a strange hive, her wish comes true. You must read this book to find out what “bee-comes” of Beetrice.


Mary Had a Sleepy Sheep – Julia Dweck
All of us remember the nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. In this story Mary has a lamb named Sheppard Sheep and all he did was sleep. Dancing, turning the lights up bright, hosing it down with water didn’t help keep the sheep awake. How will Mary wake her sheep or should she just let him sleep? The book also contains some activities at the back of the book.


Mattie Monster Is Not Tired  Anne Emerick

Mattie Monster reminded me so much of my grandson Jacob. I’ve laid him down for naps only to hear him singing, playing with his stuffed puppy, clapping his hands and doing other things. This was such a charming book. Mattie Monster is told to go to bed.  He tries really hard to do what his mom tells him to. But, what do you do when you are not tired?


The Day I Met Dr. Seuss – Anne Emerick
Dr. Seuss was a fabulous writer. This author has written a story whose main character, a little girl wonders what makes Dr. Seuss special. Unsatisfied with a reply she receives from Dr. Seuss’s secretary she goes to visit him. A wonderful story that I have enjoyed reading over and over.


Brian the Book – Andre Klein
Brian is a very happy, good book. When he gets to the library the shelves are all empty. He finds the books at the dock. They describe a horrible machine that eats batteries for breakfast. Brian sits out to find this machine. Find out what lesson he learns when he finally meets the e-reader machine.


Bedtime Little Bear – John Lancer
When Little Bear’s mom calls for him to come home because it is tie for bed, Little Bear ignores her. He plays in leaves. When his mouse friend tells hi he heard mother bear calling, Little bear chooses to ignore Mouse. He continues to ignore his friends because he’s having too much fun. What happens when the sun goes down and things look scary? This is another great story with a gentle lesson.


Polar Brrr’s Big Adventure – Bruce Lansky
This is a beautiful picture book. There are no words. What a great way to involve children in the story telling process. A young polar bear is sent off to take a gift to someone special. He faces several problems along the way.  Read this wonderful book to see what challenges he must face.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Release Day Blitz: Spirit Warrior: The Scarring

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The Scarring (Spirit Warriors #2)
by D.E.L. Connor
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Booktrope
Published: July 21, 2014
Length: 244 pages
Spirit Warriors The Scarring

“One of us would finally end what had been started by the machayiwiw so many years ago. I would have to kill him. It was just that simple. I never thought I would want to kill anybody or anything, but maybe I never had anything worth killing for before.”
-Emmeline Rima Belrose, The Scarring (Spirit Warriors, Book 2)
In the majestic beauty of a Montana summer, Emme and her friends celebrate her near-drowning survival and their defeat of the powerful evil spirit, the machayiwiw. But even as they rejoice, things are amiss. Emme watches helplessly as her family divides, and her friends struggle to hold their relationship together. Worse yet, the love-of-her life, Charlie, announces that he will move back to the reservation, without Emme. Different nightmares take over and Emme realizes she must fight and kill—or watch those she loves be killed. Friends from the reservation reach out to Emme and show her what evil can steal from her. Emme believes that evil can never break her bond with the Spirit Warriors or the love she shares with Charlie. Or can it?

My Thoughts:
WOW! That is the first thing that pops into my mind when I think of this book.  I did not read the first one, but I will.  This book can be read as a stand alone.  That is what I really liked about this book.  There was enough information about events that took place in the first book that I didn't feel lost.  I started the book and read it until I finished it in one sitting.  It was that good.  The imagery and use of the senses puts the reader right there with the characters.  At one point something happened and I gasped and covered my mouth.  My husband heard and saw me and ran over to see if everything was okay. He saw I was reading the book on my computer and said, "Oh it must really be good." He was definitely right. I loved each and everyone of the characters.  The book left me wondering who the evil one was.  Now I'll need to wait for book three in the series all I can is hurry up with the next one.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Although this is the second book in the Spirit Warriors series, it can be read as a stand alone novel.
Ron looked over at me. I stared back at him. "Do you understand what I have told you, child?" Ron asked me. I nodded. "Charlie is a spirit mover." Ron nodded. "Among other things." Ron went on, “Charlie is having more and more speaking times with the warriors. There is a sense of urgency now that Charlie learns how to shift spirit warriors into human bodies. He has been practicing with Ryan and Hawke. He is making some progress, but it is taking a long time. Charlie is weakening with the increasing talking times. He does not know when they will come and he has been injured many times. Our people now make sure he is never alone. We cannot risk his injuring himself, or the machayiwiw finding him undefended. He has much to learn. You have much to learn. You must learn hand-to-hand combat. Hawke is our best warrior, both with a knife and a spear. He can cut the wings off a fly in flight with his knife. He will be training you.” Ron looked at me. “NO, I don’t think so.” I told Ron. “First, Hawke doesn’t like me and I can’t see him training me. Second, I’m not sure I could kill someone, even if it was the machayiwiw. In anger, I think I can, but I’m not sure.” Ron looked at me. “What if that person was trying to kill Charlie, or your friends, or Eros your bird?” I shook my head. “I just don’t think I can do this.” Ron lowered his gaze. “If you don’t, you will die, along with Charlie, your friends, your animals, and your family. I will die, as will our people. He will finally destroy the one person who stands against him. The one person who has the power to destroy him. There will never be another you. Our people have waited many, many years for you. Golden Flower has waited many years for you.” “I don’t want the responsibility!” I yelled at Ron as I stood up. “I might fail!” I jumped up and ran down the side of the creek. I ran as fast as I could and the sharp prairie grass cut my legs. I didn’t feel it. I felt angry and sad at the same time. “Why me? Why not someone else?” I thought to myself. I rounded a bend of the river and I ran right into Hawke. The force of our collision knocked us both to the ground. I lay on the ground with the wind knocked out of me. Hawke stood up and looked down at me. I stood up and brushed off my shirt. Hawke stared at me. I looked at him and asked, “Why do you hate me?” Hawke glared at me. “Charlie is my cousin and my best friend. You have brought him nothing but heartache and loss. I suspect you will do something stupid and Charlie will be killed because of you. I really don’t care anything about you and I’m sure as hell not sold on your ‘savior’ complex. I think you are full of shit and if something happens to Charlie, I will hunt you down and kill you myself.” I was horrified. “I didn’t want this! I just want to be with Charlie. No matter what you think, I love him. I have always loved him and I will never stop loving him.” Hawke stands with his arms crossed. “We’ll see about that.” Hawke brushed past me and walked back up the creek towards Ron and Charlie. I walked back to the jeep. I climbed in the back with Charlie and it was quiet as Ron drove us back to the cluster of buildings. When we pulled up, Irene came running up to the jeep. “Come on, Emme, we are getting ready to eat.” Irene grabbed my hand and pulled me in the building. Ollie and Jack were with Ryan. Jack motioned us over. Charlie brought me a plate of food. Irene squeezed her small body between Charlie and me. Charlie looked down at her. “Hey, Squirt, why don’t you sit on the other side of Emme?” Irene looked at me. “Are you in love with Charlie?” I glanced at her small face as she slid her arm through my arm. “Yes,” I whispered to her. Irene wrinkled up her face. “YUCK! Boys are messy and yucky and stinky! Even Charlie.” We all laughed as Charlie grabbed her and rolled her on the ground and tickled her until Irene begged for mercy. After lunch, Charlie and I walked hand in hand down to the creek. We sat on the bank and stared at the water. I leaned over and put my head on Charlie’s shoulder. Charlie wrapped his arm around me and pulled me close to him. We sat there quietly. I looked across the creek and saw Hawke staring at us. He had his arms folded across his chest. I looked at Charlie. “Can’t we even be alone? Does he have to watch us?” Charlie nodded. “He is just protecting me.” “From me?” I say sarcastically. Charlie shook his head. “No, not from you.” Hawke stared at me. I stood up and stared back at him. He reached in his waistband and pulled out his knife. I stared him down as he prepared to throw his knife in my direction. I was not scared of him. Something deep inside of me assured me that he would not kill me with his knife. I stood perfectly still as he pulled back his arm. In slow motion I saw the knife hurling through the air, handle over blade as Charlie screamed my name. I felt the knife come right by my head and I felt a sharp pain by my ear and the drip of blood on my neck. My face never changed as I stared back at Hawke. My friend, that red hot feeling that meant I could be something stronger than I was, overcame me and I felt myself soaring above the creek. I heard Charlie calling my name. I looked around as I called out, determining where every living thing was around me. I felt the rattlesnake’s presence before I saw them. I singled them out and waved my hands. Within minutes they were hissing in a circle around Hawke. Hawke was trying to back away, but he was backing into another snake. Charlie was screaming at Hawke to stand still. Charlie was yelling at me. “Emme, NO, stop it! Hurting him would only hurt me. Do you really want to hurt me?” My attention wavered from the snakes and I focused on Charlie. Instantly I was back in my body and looking at Charlie. Charlie had me by the arm. “Stay here, Em, I’ll be right back.” Charlie waded into the water and ran to Hawke. The snakes were gone. Hawke was sitting in the dirt by the bank with his head in his hands. Hawke was visibly shaking as Charlie helped him up. I stood up and glared at Hawke. They waded back across the bank. Charlie walked up to me. “Hawke is here to protect me and by protecting me, he is protecting you. Hawke has the skills to help you, to teach you what you need.” Charlie looked over at Hawke. “Emme is not the enemy. Do you finally see what she is? Do you see the gifts she has? She is our people’s last hope. She belongs with us.” Hawke nodded and walked over to me. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a piece of cloth. He reached up and wiped the blood off of my neck. “I’m sorry,” he told me. I grabbed his hands and held them between mine. “Me too.” Hawke turned on his heel and walked back the path to the main building. Charlie looked at me. “What the hell did you just do?” I looked back at him. “I finally figured out that Golden Flower gifted me with the ability to talk to and control animals.” I smiled questioningly at Charlie. Charlie didn’t smile back. “What else have you done?” I told Charlie about Ollie and the church and the birds. Charlie paced around me. “This is not good. The machayiwiw will notice a display like the one you did in town. You must not ever do it again in a public place where others can see you. Do you understand me?” I nodded with my head down. Charlie leaned forward and grabbed my face between his warm hands. “I have to admit that it was an awesome thing to do for Ollie, but we have to be more careful.” I laid my hands over his by my face. I leaned into this chest as he slowly lowered us to the ground. We laid on the ground facing each other. I stared into his eyes lost in his world. Charlie stared back at me and as the beautiful empty world and the warm wind eavesdropped on us, we talked. I told him about Bets, and Mom and Ben, and how hurt Ollie was at the church. I told him about Jack and the preserve and Rose and the baby. We talked laying down and facing each other with our fingers intertwined until the sun started its slow climb to the edge of darkness. The sky was an incredible shade of deep purple with shades of violet blue. Even in the beauty of the sunset, I felt the desperation creep over me. I started to shake. I didn’t want to leave Charlie. I never wanted to leave Charlie. Charlie leaned closer. I could feel his breath on my cheek. He laid his gentle brown hands on my cheeks. I closed my eyes. “Let me take the pain away,” he whispered. We stood up. Charlie closed his eyes and he chanted in a low voice. I listened to his voice. I closed my eyes and leaned into Charlie. I laid my head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat. I felt the desperation leave me and I was filled with a sense of peace and serenity. My breathing slowed, and my mind was filled with the beautiful times that Charlie and I had shared. We were like one in my mind, our thoughts joined and our spirits connected. It was the most incredible intense feeling. It was what I imagined making love would be like. I felt dizzy and my body felt it was on fire from the inside out. My legs gave way and I dropped to my knees. Charlie grabbed me and slowly lowered me down to the ground. “What did you do?” I asked Charlie. He stared back at me. “I showed you our love. I showed you what is worth fighting and dying for.” As Charlie stood up, he staggered. I reached out and held his arm. “Are you okay?” Charlie put his hand over mine that rested on his arm. “Just tired. You wear me out.” He grinned broadly as I swatted his arm. “Poor me,” I told him. We held hands as we headed back to the main buildings. Ollie and Jack were standing outside of the meeting room talking to Ryan and Hawke. Ryan looked up as we approached. “Hey, Em, can you come back next week? I want to run in the hills with you, and Hawke needs to start working with you on knife and lance throwing.” “Sure thing,” I told him. Hawke looked at Charlie and then at me. Charlie was leaning on the car while he talked to Jack. Charlie’s face was pale. Hawke walked the short distance to me and whispered in my ear. “Every time Charlie carries your pain, he gets weaker. Every time you feel better in Charlie’s presence, he pays the price for it. Is that what you want for him?” I shook my head “No.” I looked at my feet as Hawke said, “Don’t come back here. Walk away. His burden is too big to carry.” I shook my head. “I’m sorry I can’t do that. I just can’t. I love him too much.” Hawke shook his head and walked away. We all walked to the car. I held Charlie’s hand as long as I could. I climbed in the back seat and Jack and Ollie sat down in the Mustang. As we drove off, I turned around and stared back at Charlie. He stood there watching us drive off.
An Interview with Author D.E.L. Connor
What was your favorite book growing up?
When I was old enough to read it was the Little House on the Prairie series. I must have read and reread each of them a hundred times. I honestly thought I was Laura Ingalls Wilder. Most girls my age were into dolls and while I liked dolls and playing house, my version of playing house always had a log house and a covered wagon. They are still my favorite books to read to children. Can't you just picture yourself on a hot summer day bouncing along in the back of the covered wagon?
Who is your favorite author (living or dead)?
I have more than one. Obviously I love Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I am also a huge fan of Larry McMurray. I grew up admiring strong women writers like Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee and more recently J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyers.
What inspired you to write the Spirit Warriors series?
Actually is has been a long time coming. I wrote the short story that the Spirt Warriors evolved from in college may years ago. The professor asked me to stay after class and he told me how good it was, but unfortunately, it was too dark to be a children's story. I put it away and went on with my career as a nurse. Finally J.K Rowling and Stephenie Meyers came out with new dark tales and the young adult market was born. The time was finally right! I finished Book 1 in two weeks. The struggle to get it published took more time, but here I am with two books in the story completed.
What character do you most identify with in Spirit Warriors: The Scarring?
Probably Lilly, I tend to be kind to a fault, and love my friends and family unconditionally. I think as a child I wished I could have been more like Bets and Emme. They are headstrong, brave and willing to fight for anything or anyone they cared about. I was shy when I was young, although no one believes that today! LOL
Can you tell us about your next project?
Why of course. I am about half way through book 3 in the series The Burning. There will be 6 books total in the series. Book 4 will be The Lamenting, Book 5 The Ensouling and then a Prequel to be named later. In between those books or after them I'm not sure which, I plan to write a new adult romance novel about loss and finding the chance to love again.
The Concealing (Spirit Warriors #1)
by D.E.L. Connor
Release Date: November 24, 2013
Length: 191 pages
Publisher: Booktrope
Spirit Warriors - The Concealing webready
Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Emme Belrose has it all: four best friends, a horse of her own, a hidden tepee hangout, and a blossoming romance with tall and handsome Charlie. These friends also have a secret. They can move their spirits into animal bodies: an osprey, a mustang, a grizzly, a mountain lion and a coyote.   But when Charlie, who has a gift for seeing the future, has a vision of Emme drowning in the icy Yellowstone River, the Spirit Warriors must train their animal bodies to kill an enemy they know is coming… but know nothing about. Suspenseful, romantic, and awash in Native American magic, Spirit Warriors captures the tragic enchantment of the American West—and confirms the power of friendship.
DEL ConnorAbout the Author
Della was born in South Dakota and raised in the vastness and beauty of Montana on a farm. When she longed for the big city life, she moved to Texas where she attended college and received a PhD in nursing. When not nursing people back to health you can find Della huddled over her Mac writing the stories that have occupied her mind for so many years, or traveling with her best friends, the NOLA’s, riding bikes across the Golden Gate bridge or exploring botanical gardens. She is the proud mother of a champion triathlete, two aging dogs and 1 grand-cat. Della has admittedly confessed to her coffee addiction and swears that her two hour coffee crawl while on vacation in Seattle –was the best two hours of her life!
Facebook Release Day Party - July 21st at 7pm - 9pm CST

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Author Interview and Book Review - When a Spider Came to Stay

Today my guest is Rebecca Crosdale, the author of When a Spider Came to Stay

1. When did you decide to become an author and what impact has this had on your life?
I have always felt the desire deep within me to write, but, like many aspiring authors, there was another voice that thought it was foolish.  I also lacked the confidence to share my dream and was often embarrassed to reveal it. I needed to overcome my inner fears. There were other deterrents as well.  When I did put pen to paper, oftentimes my efforts were not taken seriously, and the feedback was not always pleasant to hear.   Nevertheless, I was determined to complete all the books that I started over the years.  Perseverance paid off and now I am a published author.

 2. Tell us about your latest work and what motivated you to write it:
My latest work and second in a series of children's books is called "When a Spider Came to Stay".  It’s a story about two unlikely friends that teaches about friendship, tolerance, work (spider's work) and courage. 

 3. What are your future aspirations as an author?
My future aspirations as an author are to continue writing other children's books, and my own autobiography. 

 4. Where do your ideas come from? What experiences or aspects of your life influence your writing?
My ideas come from my life experiences, occurrences on a given day, as well as the many lessons I have learned from countries and places that I have visited.   

5. What do you do to improve yourself and a writer?
I actively look at the works of others for perspective. With my own work, I have my friends as well as professional writers to critique and give me constructive criticism of my efforts. I also have them advise me as to where and how to improve my stories.  Sometimes I rely on my own initiatives and becomes my worst critic. 

6. What are the names of your books? "
The Spider in My Den", “When a Spider Came to Stay" and  “A Thump in the Garden" which is soon to be published. 

7. What inspires you to write? 
I have many stories in my head that I need to put on paper. 

8. Tell us a little bit about your next book.   
"A Thump in the Garden" is written and edited and I am waiting on the illustrator to complete the drawings.  Like the first two books, it is a story about friendship, compassion, diversity and understanding between friends of different backgrounds. 

9. Where can people contact you?
The best way to reach me is through my website  From there you can find my phone and email contacts, as well as my social media pages on Facebook and Twitter.   

10. Did you publish with a traditional publishing house or did you go the indie route?  
My preferred path has been as an indie publisher.  The first book "The Spider in My Den" was published by  The second book, "When a Spider Came to Stay" was published using Amazon CreateSpace.  Both books are also being distributed digitally. 

11. Do you read the reviews of your work and how do they affect your writing?
I make every effort to read all of my reviews and I take to heart all that the reviewers offer in the hopes of constantly improving my writing and the depth of my stories. 

12. What works best for you when writing? Meaning do you outline or write freely when you feel inspired to do so? 
I write freely 

 13.  What is your final advice for other aspiring authors?
Never give up on your dream.  Never give in to self doubt or your own lack of confidence.  Write every day.  Get those stories out of your head and on paper.  From there, anything and everything is possible.

Review: I received a copy from the author to facilitate my review, the opinions are my own.
When a Spider Came to Stay is the story of a young girl who notices a spider in her room.  She watches as the spider spins webs, each one more elaborate that the previous one, into the corners of her room. The young girl offers some of her food to the spider only to watch the spider walk away. The only thing the spider wants is to be able to share the room with the girl.  The girl admires the work of the spider even though they are different species.  This is a great story meant to show us that we are all unique in our own ways.

About the Author 
Rebecca Crosdale was born on the island of Jamaica in 1955.  The first fourteen years of her life were spent there helping her grandparents on their small farm. During her years in Jamaica, she learned the valuable lesson of hard work. It was a culture where children were expected to work as hard as grownups and sometimes even harder.  
In the meantime, she attended the Middleton Primary School to the age of twelve and then Morant Bay High until she was fourteen.

She immigrated to England at the age of fourteen where she joined her father who had been living there for some time.  She began attending Hatters Lane School for girls. This school was located in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Her education was cut short as she graduated from Hatters Lane two years later.  She graduated with a Certificate of Secondary Education in Art, English, Mathematics and Religious Knowledge. 
After graduating school in England, she went on to work in the Harrison Stamp Factory.  There she had the opportunity to stand in the presence of the Queen of England, the Duke of Edinburgh and her two younger sons, Andrew and Edward. She later went on to London School of Technologies for basic computer skills after which she worked a Key Punch Operator at G-Plan Furniture in High Wycombe.  

After spending 9 years in England, she immigrated to the United States where she now resides. She's been no less busy since her arrival in America. She attended and graduated from Suffolk Community College (AA. Degree) and Stony Brook University with a BA Degree. Afterward, she put her skills to use and has worked in the Human Services Field in areas such as Mental Health and Mental Retardation.  She worked for the Long Island Developmental Disabilities Office for almost 25 years. She currently works at EPIC Long Island, as Medicaid Service Coordinator, advocating on the behalf of people with mental cognition.  
When she’s not working to help others, Ms. Crosdale  is an avid traveler, traveling across many continents.  In the course of her travels she has experienced many different cultures and has learned a lot about the different peoples she has met. 
She has trekked the globe from Europe to Egypt, from North America to Bogota,  Colombia, from China to India, and visited many of the island in the Caribbean. She has touched the rocks of Stone Henge, climbed the Eiffel Tower, dropped a penny in the Trevi Fountain, and ridden the gondola in Venice.  She’s walked with the Pigeons in Florence, climbed to mount Elijah in the Greek Isles, walked in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, climbed into the Pyramid of Egypt, walked on the Great Wall of China, visited with the monks in Ankor Wat Cambodia, visited with the Terra Cotta Soldier and passed through the Panama Canal.  

Rebeca also enjoys gardening, cooking and photography.  
She has a great desire to share some of her experiences, many with children who may never have the experiences or enjoy the firsthand knowledge that she has gained.  
Writing, she feels, is probably the best way to share.
The innocuous Spider in “The Spider In My Den” inspired her to begin writing and she has now completed her first children’s book with many more to follow.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

If I Was Someone Else - Kea Kamiya
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Short Story
Source: I purchased a copy, (while waiting on my autographed copy from her.)
Pages: 44

Okay, so this is where I usually have my Student Saturdays, where I have a student review a book.  I won't have those until school is back in session. Howeve,r I have the next best thing. The book I am reviewing today is from one of my former students.  She participated in NaNoWriMo last year.  Out of all of the students who reached their goal, she is the only one who got her work published.  Kea moved at the end of third quarter. I knew through emails she was continuing to write, but had no idea she had completed and published the book until I got an excited email.  To say I am proud of her is an understatement. Below is a review of her short story.  I can't wait to see what she writes as a seventh grader. It was truly difficult to write an unbiased review knowing she was my student, but I think I did a pretty good job.

My Thoughts:
Kea Kamiya has written a short story about a young girl who has gone through a life event that has left her scarred, whether she realizes it or not. Kathlean and her family are going through the daily motions of life. One day her dad walked out and didn't come back. Kathleen doesn't understand why. She holds onto little pieces of him, a letter, a DVD, all of which she hides form her mother. Her oldest sister Kathreana pretty much ignores her, as well as the situation.  Kat handles it by getting angry. Kathlean's mom is so worn out after working so many hours that popping a frozen dinner in the oven is the norm for her. She is oblivious to what is actually going on in her house.  Kathlean has always been able to deal with her feelings by talking to her best friend MC. Now, that  part of her world is crumbling as she learns her best friend is moving. How will Kathlean survive now? What will happen to her family?

Kea has taken a problem that faces so many kids today and put it into perspective. She is very intuitive.  Her solution to the issue is spot on. For her first debut book, as a sixth grader, I believe she did a great job in story telling. I look forward to much more by this passionate young lady.

About the Author:
Kea Kamiya is a middle school student. This is her first book. She is passionate about her family, God, and life.  This book came about through her participation in NaNoWriMo. She is currently working on her second book.

Monday, July 7, 2014

New Release for Susan kaye Quinn

Second Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #2)
Assassins, skyships, and royal intrigue...
Kindle, Kobo, AllRomance
Second Daughter is the second book in The Dharian Affairs trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance takes place in an east-Indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, assassins, royal romance and intrigue.

Reviews of the first book, Third Daughter:
"The author fuses carriages, steam trains, airships and clockwork with the rich eastern culture that underlies Bollywood storytelling..." - Cherie Reich
"The political intrigue, the steampunk gadgets, and the beautiful costumes kept me in wonderment." - Tony Benson
“Third Daughter is vividly breathtaking. Quinn delivers royal intrigue, exotic locations, and sweeping romance. Not to be missed!” - Pavarti Tyler, author of Shadow on the Wall
ON SALE - 99cents until 7/21
Third Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #1)

Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, AllRomance
(also available in print)
The Third Daughter of the Queen wants her birthday to arrive so she'll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince's proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince's proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.
Both books now have a map!
Speedy Tweets to Share: NEW RELEASE: Second Daughter (Dharian Affairs #2) Assassins, skyships, royal intrigue #steampunk #fantasy #romance WIN Gift Card and PAPERBACK Third Daughter (Dharian Affairs #1) #steampunk #fantasy #romance Skyships, saber duels, royal romance: Third Daughter (Dharian Affairs#1) ON SALE 99cents
Thank you so much for helping me get this book out in the world! Win paperback copy of Third Daughter  $10 Amazon Gift Card
check out the gorgeous formatting of the print book!