Showing posts with label 2018. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2018. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Punching Bag by Rex Ogle

Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Memoir
Source: I own a copy

If you thought the first book "Free Lunch" by Rex Ogle was hard to read, wait until you read this. We get a glimpse into Rex's life in his first book.We see the poverty, shame, bullying he goes through in middle school. We see the issues he has with his father and mother. Nothing prepares you for the second book. In this book we see what it was like to live in a home filled with violence. What it is like to be the older sibling who practically raises the younger one. What it is like to protect the younger one from the violence that is so often taken out on the author. We see a side of mental illness that so many kids today deal with. Why is it that it is taboo to talk about these things?

After reading Rex Ogle's first book I bought the second one to put on my shelves. I live in a district where this year a house bill is making it difficult to keep books on our shelves.  I fear each day some kid will read this book, a parent will pick it up, complain to the school board and it will be banned. Why do I fear this? This book is open, honest and raw. Ogle doesn't sugar  coat his experiences to make them less traumatizing. He wrote this in such an honest way you feel his pain. That he was able to overcome so much is amazing in itself. I know there are kids out there who live through abuse daily. This book with its darkness also shows a side of hope. It shows the reader that no matter where they are in life there is always hope.  For me it is important to get this into the hands of children everywhere. It is important that there is a resource for those we may never know are hurting. This is a must read.


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Intense Book Series by Glenn Haggerty

I have found a new author whose books I absolutely love. His writing style is similar to Max Elliot Anderson and Tim Shoemaker. These are two author's whose books are on my classroom shelves. Not only do my boys love these books, but so do my girls. I highly recommend this author to all of my readers.


Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure, Thriller
Source: I purchased a copy

Glenn Haggerty’s books are full of suspense and adventure. Tyler Higgins wants to fit in with the “cool” kids. He is willing to ditch his former best friends to be “cool”.  He is quickly learning that being “cool” is not all it is cracked up to be. Tyler agrees to spy on kids parked at Lover’s Lane.  He invites his former best friend who declines. While hiding in the woods waiting to catch teens making out a car pulls up. When the trunk lid is opened they see what they are sure is a dead body. Unfortunately they are discovered.  This book takes you on an edge of your seat adventure as these two teens try to stay alive.  Discover what exactly is going on. Who is chasing them and who wants who dead.  This is a lite Christian Fiction.  Throughout the book Tyler talks about church and God. The reason I loved this book is because it is so true to life in the Christian aspect.  Tyler has thoughts about what he believes God would want him to do, chooses to take a different path because he doesn’t want to listen to God. The other thing we see is what happens when he makes decisions he knows is wrong.   This is a book that can and will be enjoyed by everyone. This is the first book of a trilogy.

Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure, Thriller
Source: I purchased a copy
Tyler Higgins family has moved.  Now he is once again trying to fit in with the cool kids.  The cool kids have ditched him in the woods.  He decides he will get his younger brother to go into the woods to try and find the “cool kids” treehouse. When a storm hits they stumble onto an old house. As creepy as it is they slip inside. When they hear someone coming up from the basement they hide in a closet.  When the coast is clear they escape.  A run in with the creepy guy from  the old house puts Tyler and his family in danger. When these would-be plumbers threaten him and his friends Tyler takes things into his own hands.  Once again Glenn Haggerty has created a story that keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat.

Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure, Thriller
Source: I purchased a copy

This was the most intense of the three books. Tyler has noticed a change in some of his friends. He is sure there is a drug problem in his school.  His plan is to find out who is dealing the drugs. The problem is that they need to find the person at the top of the chain.  Tyler and some of his friends come up with a plan.  They are going to track these drug dealers to get to the bottom of the problem.  But the woods are full of problems.  Sometimes the ones you think you can trust are the ones you need to avoid. Will this adventure cost Tyler and his friends their lives?  These books are so good that I read one a day. I stayed up to finish them each night.  I look forward to reading many more books by this author.

Sunday, July 8, 2018


So today I am grateful for my son's safe return from his third military deployment. He was deployed last year. He was supposed to walk my daughter down the aisle in December. When he learned he was to be deployed he secretly took a photo with her in her wedding gown. The day of the wedding arrived. There was to be a computer set up so he could watch the wedding live. The computer could not pick up the WiFi from the house.  They were finally able to connect with one of their phones and my husband strategically stood behind the lady officiating, and in front of the entire audience holding that phone so that he could still be a part of that day. This showed love and dedication as it was midnight where he was when the wedding started.  My son has missed birthdays, anniversaries, funerals. He has missed so much of his children's lives while they are growing up. He never complains. He is proud to serve. It was always his dream.  I am proud and grateful that I have a son who so proudly serves his country. I am grateful for a daughter-in-love who supports her husband when he serves. I am grateful for grandchildren who have been taught how important their father's job is to the world. Yes, today I am very grateful that my son returned home safely to be reunited with his family.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

My Favorite Place

Mark Levine over at Mindful Literacy wrote a post titled "Your Favorite Place".  After reading his post I decided to follow suit and write about my favorite place. I've had several places that I would consider my favorites over the years. But every July since last year I will think about Manasota Key. Summer before last I followed my friend Joy Hawkins on Facebook  as she spent three glorious weeks at the Hermitage Artist Retreat on Manasota Key and wrote about her experience.  Since I live in Florida and I've been on both coasts, I have to say I prefer the west coast more than the east coast. So last year I was thrilled to learn that I was one of five teachers in Florida chosen to spend three weeks, like my friend had, at the Hermitage Artist Retreat.
My cottage sat on the beach.
I had a view from my writing desk of the bay to my right across the two lane road, and the gulf to my left.
I accomplished more with my writing while I was there. However, there was something even more important that I accomplished. I learned how to put away school and relax just for me.  I have always struggled with this.  I took so many pictures while I was there. When I am becoming anxious and non-productive I pull up those pictures and IMAGINE that I am on that beach once again.
It didn't matter if I watched the sun rise, the sun set, the storms roll in. It didn't matter if I walked with the turtle lady looking for new  turtle nests or sat quietly  and almost alone on the beach and listened to the waves crash. I was relaxed. I have found that when I can not physically go somewhere, that sometimes pictures will conjure up those happy memories. So I ask you, what is your favorite place to go and why?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Heaven's Peak by Miguel Estrada

Genre: Young Adult, Horror
Source: I purchased a copy. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I have to say I really enjoyed the story. The cover drew me in. As you get further into the book you understand how the cover goes with the story.  You have people  disappearing. The FBI gets involved. Then we have a family that has moved to Heaven's Peak. Kevin and his sister Jenny along with their father have moved to Heaven's Peak because this is where their parents met. Now that their mother is dead their dad has moved them back. Kevin and his new camera capture something to validate that things are not heavenly in Heaven's Peak. This is a horror story of the type I have not read in years. In some ways it reminded me of Stephen King's writing. However, the book definitely needed to be proofread. There were a lot of mistakes.  I also hated the use of the "f-bomb".  If it was a clean read and was edited for grammar mistakes it would be a book I could put on my middle grade shelves for my horror lovers. However, since I have all grades check out my books, I sadly won't add it to my classroom library.  I would read more by this author. Hopefully he will take what others are saying and re-edit this book. That is the only reason I didn't give it a 5 star rating.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

20 Degrees From Normal by Anissa Ferris and Antonio Ferris

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

This fun book of poetry was created by a brother and sister team. It isn’t only fun to read but has very subtle messages. The very first poem, “Underappreciated Wheel” had be looking at wheels in a different way. They carry all the weight on bikes, trikes and cars, yet no one ever talks about how wonderful they are. 
I teach middle school and I am here to say that my students would love this fun rhyming, quirky poetry. I loved “Perfect Friend”. So often we want a “perfect” friend and after finding what we think they are we find that what we had before was much, much more. “Skip” teaches that you have to do some preliminary things to be a success.
This book has something for everyone, old and young. I will enjoy adding this to my classroom library next year and providing a copy to our elementary school which will be merging with our school. I highly recommend this book to teachers and parents.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Creativity Project: An Awesometastic Story Collection

Genre: Writing
Source: I purchased a copy

This is a book I will definitely read over and over again. Colby Sharp asked writers to submit two writing prompts. He then sent those prompts back out to the authors. Each other was asked to pick one of the two prompts someone else had written and write. There were no guidelines. The prompts were small cartoons, poems, words, sentences. The stories and poems that came out were wonderful. I read through it the first time in a couple of hours. Now I want to go through and mark those I want to use with my students. I also want to have my students do something similar in the classroom.  This book is awesome. I definitely recommend it to anyone young or old who loves to write.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Flying Jenny by Theasa Tuohy

Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I purchased a copy

I love historical fiction. One thing that will make me love a book of this genre is when the story has so many details that I read with a pad and pen. I need to look some of this information up to find out if it is truth or just told so well it feels like truth. The story is set during the 1920's.  Women have had the vote for a while. Now they have stepped out  to try to find their place in the world. We find two women stepping into a world that is dominated by me. Jenny is a pilot who loves the freedom of flying for the fun of it. Women have begun to step into the pilot's seat for different types of challenges, endurance and speed challenges as well as stunt flying.  Laura is a reporter in New York. Due to her bohemian background, she has had to find her own way in the world since she was a small child. She meets Jenny while covering a story where a pilot is going to fly under the major bridges in New York City. That is when Laura realizes the pilot is a woman.  There worlds collide in many ways.  I felt more like I was reading a biography than a historical fiction book.  The whole thing was so well written I felt like I was a third character in the book just observing.  I had not heard of this author before. I will definitely look for more by them.  A very interesting book that I would recommend.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Tormented by Susan Clayton-Goldner

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

This is a murder mystery of the highest caliber.   Father Anthony has been devoted to serving God and his church until he meets Rita Wittier. He tries everything to stay faithful to his vows.  He finally tells Rita how he feels about her. Rita is found dead by her daughter. When police first suggest it was a suicide her daughter is sure it isn’t. She is so sure that she convinces Father Anthony how much her mom loved her and that she would never kill herself.  The problem is Father Anthony is now one of the suspects along with several of Rita's family member. This story is so full of secrets that carry the story along.
Susan Clayton-Goldner has done it once again. She has created a storyline and characters that you really care about. She has put so many twists in it that I didn’t figure it out on my own.  I love when an author keeps me second guessing until the end.  This is the third book I have read by this author.  I highly recommend it as well as her other books. If you are looking for an author who can write and keep you on the edge of your seat then you have found her.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Peeves by Michael Van Waes

Genre:  Middle Grade, Science Fiction
Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is one of the best books I have read this year.  It was such a fun book to read. Steven is a young boy who has panic attacks. His parents have tried just about everything to help him. His parents have divorced and Steven who is nicknamed Slim  is now at a new school. He discovers that the kid who bullied  him at his old school is now at this school.  When this former bully finds something that hits Steven in the back of the head. He has a major panic attack. Both parents are called to the school. They argue about who has to take Steven and his sister. When Steven's former bully flings something  that hits Steven in the back of the head he has a panic attack. Both parents are called to the school. They argue about who has to take Steven and his sister.  They find themselves at their father's job. Their father works in a lab. While waiting for their father, Steven's sister,  managed to steal her father's security card. This leads to the disaster that sets things in motion. They hear his fathers boss talking with a scientist about the new medicine. It hasn't been tested on humans yet.  When Steven accidentally bumps into the scientist spilling the contents of a beaker all over himself, he sets things into motion.  Unfortunately the PVC drug has a nasty side effect Every time Steven sneezes he lets loose a creature he calls a peeve. Now they have learned what it is. No one else can see them. Is the whole town going crazy? Can Steven find a solution before it is too late?  I read this in class one day since we had sustained silent reading. I talked about it to my students the day after I had read it. It has been checked out ever since. The students are standing in line to check it out the day it comes in.  I can't wait to buy a few copies for my students and a copy for my granddaughter. This is a perfect book for those reluctant readers in your class.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Murder at the Bus Depot: A Blue Plate Café Mystery by Judy Alter

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

If mystery is your go to reading genre then you must check out Judy Alter’s series.
Her characters are well developed, the setting feels like any town you may have visited or gone through at one time. There is enough mystery here to carry you through from beginning to end.
The main character Kate Chambers operates a small café in the town of Wheeler, Texas. It is a town that is quaint but on the verge of losing some of it’s vital businesses.  Enter Dallas developer Silas Fletcher. He wants to help revitalize the town starting with the old bus depot. The bus depot was the site of a 30 year old unsolved murder. Kate isn’t thrilled with Silas’ plans for the old depot so she tries to save it because of its historical significance.  Enter another murder.  Kate decides that if she is going to save her town and keep its quaint charm then she is going to have to find the murderer on the loose.
This is the fourth book I have read by Judy Alter. However, this is the first one I have read of this series. It held up as a stand-alone book even though it was part of a series.  However, now I need to go back and read the first three in the series. From the time I was small mysteries were my favorite genre. As an adult who teaches middle school, I am more in tune with middle school mysteries than adult mysteries. So, when I come across an author who writes wonderful adult mysteries I want to shout his/her name from the top of the world, or at least from my blog. Please pick up a copy of this wonderful book. You will find the characters as charming, and the mystery as engaging as I did.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Guest Post: Randy Rawls

I was introduced to this author's writings when I was asked to review his book Jingle and the Magnificent Seven.  His books will engage you from the very beginning. So it is my pleasure to have  Randy Rawls write a guest post for my blog.

           My seventeenth book is underway. It’s the fifth in the Beth Bowman series. The idea came to me straight out of the headlines, a spin-off from the illegal immigrant problem. No, it’s not about a wall or the border guards who struggle to enforce our laws. It’s what can happen to young women who enter illegally and fall into the hands of unscrupulous people. As with Beth Bowman number 4, SAVING DABBA, I find myself digging into some dark areas I never considered before.
            When I look back, I see my evolution from a “pure” mystery writer (whatever that is) to one building on our social problems has been a gradual thing, beginning after I moved to South Florida. My first here involved the rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl. Then, a 13-year-old runaway, the kidnapping of a 5-year-old, a dirty politician, etc. As I look back, I see that each of those problems surface every day in news coverage. I even took a humorous poke at a fantasy/mystery about a terrorist group. And yes, that, too, was inspired by an actual event in S FL.
            Skipping a few of the incremental steps, we get to SAVING DABBA. As some of you know (not enough, I might add), Beth Bowman, a PI in S FL, is befriended by a group of homeless people. When someone or some group starts killing them, Beth is involved. From there we move into the business of “demonstrations.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I support freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. I spent 20-plus years in the Army to help guarantee those rights. However, I also believe that freedom carries responsibility. Looting, burning, and stepping on the rights of others are criminal acts, not freedoms. This is the world that SAVING DABBA explores—a group who uses our constitutional freedoms as a business endeavor. The police are so busy protecting the demonstrators, they have little time to concentrate on its evil leadership. As things spiral out of control in Coral Lakes, FL, Beth and her friends take it upon themselves to act.
            So goes the story of SAVING DABBA. If you read it, and I hope you will, please accept it as I intend it—not to denounce those who march for worthy causes, but to denounce those who use our liberties to spread discord, hatred, and fear. And, to use each to enrich themselves.
            That’s the trip I’ve taken over my sixteen published efforts, starting with an arson and ending with SAVING DABBA. That’s Randy Rawls of today.

            Thank you, Sandra, for allowing me space on your blog.

Randy Rawls 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.

Today, he has short stories in several anthologies, and a growing list of novels to his credit. As a prolific reader, he 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.

Buy links for Saving Dabba

Buy link for Jingle and his Magnificent Seven:

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Swimming Between Worlds by Elaine Neil Orr

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

This book set in the early sixties to have been written today.  This book looks at segregation during the sixties. Although we no longer have segregation, or not to the extent we once had it, we still have racial issues.  As much as we want to ignore it this problem is still here. The story is told through multiple perspectives.  Tacker goes to Nigeria to help build schools.  He is considered a minority in Nigeria and learns what it is like to be discriminated against.  He returns to the United States still passionate about Africa and wants to help make a change.  He goes back to work for his father’s grocery.  When he lets an African American into the store; and the kid is attacked, Tacker decides he needs to do something.  Tacker has reconnected with Kate a girl from his high school. They have differing views on the racial situation. Tacker is able to change her mind.  The lives of these three people intersect so seamlessly.  Some of the racial tension could have come right out of our own newspapers.  This is the first book I have read by this author. I am glad I was offered the opportunity to read and review it.  Please take a moment and check it out. You really won’t be disappointed.

Friday, March 30, 2018

GUTS by Janet Buttenwieser

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

Most of us face one major incident in our life if we are lucky. Imagine that you not only have a serious illness but you have also had to suffer a loss and infertility. For a lot of people I know having to deal with just one of those things would be enough to turn their life upside down to the point that they couldn’t deal with it.  Here we have a woman who has faced so many issues yet through her story we find hope. Janet Buttenwieser’s memoir shows true courage. When faced with and treated for years for a mis-diagnosed illness, Janet pushed on. Beside her all the way was the man who would eventually become her husband, Matt.  What stood out to me so much was the true love he showed for her. When finally properly diagnosed and needing a colostomy bag, Matt didn’t shy away he continued to take care of Janet and encourage her. I’ve known two people with colostomy bags and both of them had spouses that embraced and encouraged them. 
Janet’s best friend Beth taught her how to live life to the fullest. She is the type of friend you need who teaches you how to stand up for yourself.  Her passing strengthened Janet even though I don’t think she realized it at the time.  All of us need a friend like that in our lives.
Then there are the children who came into Matt and Janet’s lives. I would love to see where they are today and how their lives have changed. I would venture to say that their lives are so much richer because of who their parents are.  If there is one lesson to be learned from this memoir it would be to learn to live life to the fullest no matter what your circumstances.  I really enjoyed this book. It is an emotional read.  Janet is one of those people who is able to weave words and feelings together to create a painted masterpiece.  I highly recommend this book.
Connect with Janet

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

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

I am an eclectic reader. There are several things that will draw me to a book. First and foremost is if a book is a mystery. Check, this one is. Are there supernatural undertones? Check again.  This book also has multiple points of view and we bounce back and forth between time periods. 

We are taken into 1950 and a place called Idlewild Hall in Vermont. Idlewild is a boarding school. This seems to be a school where girls are place when their parents don’t want them around. Considering the time period these girls were shipped off or hidden away so they would not be an embarrassment for their parents.  Four of the girls become very close friends,  and then one mysteriously disappears. 
We are then transported to 2014.  The thread that connects the past to the present is the school. In the 1950s when one of the girls goes missing the head of the school figures she has run away. This just shows how little the school administration feels about their charges.  Her friends don’t believe that she ran away.  They think she was murdered.
In the present time Fiona Sheridan, a journalist gets involved when someone decides to reopen the school. She is going to do a story on the place. Her connection? Twenty years before, her sister’s murdered body was found on the school’s grounds. Her sister’s boyfriend has been in prison all these years, convicted of her murder. Fiona never believed that he killed her. She is determined to find out what really happened. You just know that this is not a good idea.
If I had to choose one of the time periods as my favorite it would definitely be the past. The author made me care so much about the girls that are considered broken.  Oh, did I mention the school has a ghost called Mary Hand? What is her backstory? This is what adds that exceptional creep factor. For some reason I seem to start these books at night and then can’t put them down until I finished them. The problem with this one is that is was just creepy enough to scare me whenever I heard a noise.   It has been a while since I’ve read a book that has so captivated me. I have not read any of her other works but that will definitely change.  There is something about the Gothic period set against the present time that seems to work.  I can’t recommend this book enough.  You definitely must read this book. I just wouldn’t recommend you read it at night or when it is stormy out, unless you want to have your pants scared off.

This book comes out March 20th. Be prepared.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

To Save a Race by Kandi J. Wyatt

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

From Goodreads:
When Duke Callon divorces his wife and decides on an uncanny way of choosing his next duchess, Arianna's left with little choice. Faced with the intricacies of politics, Arianna struggles to find her place. Just as she thinks she has her footing, a decree, issued with the blessing of her husband, calls for the extermination of her entire race. 

A young innocent girl, a capricious duke, and a decree that will change everything. What will it take to save a race? 

My Thoughts:
I love everything Kandi has written so far.  However, out of all of her books her Bible based stories, set in an alternate time have become my favorite. In her newest book “To Save A Race” we have a steampunk version of the Biblical story of Esther. Arianna is a young girl who had lived with her uncle Marcos. Realizing she needed more ladylike training. For this reason she now lives with Lady Hemma and Lord Praus. Her uncle works for the Duke. She thinks it would be wonderful to be in the castle. The Duke divorces his wife and then eventually decides he wants to get married again.  He decides to screen the eligible women over a two month period. Each girl who passes the screening gets a night of dinner and sleeping with the Duke. This is of course appalling to Lord Praus and his son Kenden.  If a girl is engaged before the Duke makes this decree official then they are out of the running. Lord Praus wants to protect his daughter Pasha and his charge Arianna from such a fate. Kenden is willing to marry Arianna to protect her from this. Her uncle is content to let Arianna make the choice for herself.
If you know the story of Queen Esther from the Bible you will recognize it in this story. Kandi has once again taken a familiar story and put it in a different setting and been successful.  I loved the depth the story line takes. There was all the familiarity from the Bible with a fresh steampunk vibe. She creates characters that you love to hate. They were so realistic that at one point I wished I could grab the Duke by the collar and shake some sense into him. This is considered an adult novel. However, since it is such a clean read this is one I will place on my shelves at school. Young adults are looking for books with a touch of romance that is not so overpowering it makes them want to throw up. There are many themes, the biggest of which is love conquers all. These are themes that teens can and want to explore in a safe manner.  I can’t think of a better book to accomplish this.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Abuse of Discretion by Pamela Samuels Young

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

We are constantly hearing of students getting into trouble with social media. Every year at the beginning of the school year we show our students a training video about the proper use of technology. How it is not to be used for bullying or sexting. 

This author tackles this issue in a manner that parents really need to understand.  Graylin Alexander is a very good student.  Someone has sent him a naked picture of one of his classmates. Before he can show it to anyone or tell anyone about it he is summoned to the principal’s office where he finds the police waiting to question him.  His parents have trained him well. Even though he repeatedly tells them he is not supposed to talk with them without a parent present they continue to question him. He is promptly arrested.

As much as he is pressured to take a plea deal, he refuses. This is one tough kid. He is not going to go down for something he didn’t do.  His lawyer is determined to find out the truth. Along with this issue his lawyer’s team has just added Angela Evans.  These two attorney’s have issues of their own. However, they are determined to work together to figure out a solution to Graylin’s legal problems. 

I loved this book which kept me reading non-stop. Because lawyer Angela Evans’ boyfriend is facing issues from his past, and was mentioned because of the even that took place in the author’s previous book I had to go back and read that book as well.  You won’t be disappointed in this author’s work. I’ve managed to convince two of my teachers to try out this new to them series.  I love finding new authors and this is one I recommend.

Other books in the Dre Thomas Series
Buying Time
Anybody’s Daughter

About the Author
Pamela Samuels Young is an attorney and award-winning author of eight mystery novels. Her most recent courtroom drama, Abuse of Discretion, tackles a troubling sexting case that gives readers a shocking look inside the juvenile justice system.

Her thriller, Anybody’s Daughter, won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction and was a Top Ten pick by In the Margins, the best books for at-risk teens. Pamela formerly worked as Managing Counsel, Labor and Employment Law, for Toyota and spent several years as a television news writer and associate producer. The former journalist and retired lawyer is also a natural hair enthusiast and the author of Kinky Coily: A Natural Hair Resource Guide.

Pamela received her bachelor’s degree from USC and also earned graduate degrees from Northwestern University and UC Berkeley School of Law. The Compton native is a frequent speaker on the topics of child sex trafficking, online safety, fiction writing, and pursuing your passion.

To read excerpts of Pamela’s books, visit Pamela loves book clubs! To invite her to your book club meeting via Skype, Facebook Live, FaceTime, Zoom, speakerphone or in person, visit her website at

Friday, February 16, 2018

Guest Post - Berit Brogaard

What Drives Romantic Attraction?

Here's a dream scenario: No more awkward first dates. If you are single and hoping not to be, you can fill out a detailed questionnaire and submit the information to a database containing similar information from other relationship seekers. A computational algorithm then determines how well you match with others in terms of your personality  and what you are looking for in a potential partner. Once you have been matched with another person, all you need to do is arrange a date and go from there.
If this scenario sounds familiar, that's no coincidence: Many online dating sites provide at least some primitive version of the above scenario. People seeking relationships supply first-person insight into their personality and what they are seeking in a partner. They are then matched on the basis of this self-reported data.
As anecdotal evidence suggests, this approach can be successful. People do, occasionally, find love using online dating services.
However, the success of such services is unlikely to be a result of algorithms calculating who will be a good match for each other based on self-reports. In a recent study, published in Psychological Science in August 2017, scientists tested this sort of approach to dating and found that self-reports of personality from potential partners do not predict attraction.
The team, led by psychologist Samantha Joel of the University of Utah, asked volunteers to fill out questionnaires about their own personality traits and the traits they would like in a potential partner. The researchers then arranged four-minute, face-to-face speed dates and collected subsequent feedback about how attracted people were to their predicted matches during these brief encounters.
The researchers found that people were no more likely to be attracted to predetermined matches than they were to non-matches. 
The study methodology had well-known limitations: It only allowed for testing of initial attraction, not an attraction that may emerge from repeated encounters. Further, it followed the existing online dating strategy of relying on self-reports to determine personality and the traits one would like to see manifested in a potential partner. The first limitation is not necessarily a methodological flaw, as long as we draw a sharp line between initial attraction and longer-term attraction/romantic love. The second, however, is problematic. We are often very bad judges of our own personality and the traits we want others to possess. This limitation could have been avoided to some extent by using more sophisticated measures of personality and partner preference; for instance, by relying on third-person perspectives from family members, co-workers, and friends.
If this common dating approach fails, however, it raises the question of whether there might be other ways to predict who may be successful romantic partners. Information about personality by itself is unlikely to help predict good long-term matches. But a combination of feature-matching and behavioral modification—that is, teaching people how to remain attractive to as well as attracted to their partners—may hold some promise. 
Independent studies have found that long-term attraction and romantic love are more likely to occur when the attributes that generate attraction in general, together with certain social factors and circumstances that spark passion, are particularly strong.
Here are 11 features that together provide a decent indicator of who you will click with over the long term (Aron, et al. 1989):
1. Similarity. The similarity of people’s belief sets and, to a lesser extent, the similarity of their personality traits and ways of thinking.
2. Propinquity. Familiarity with the other, which can be caused by spending time together, living near the other, thinking about the other, or anticipating interaction with the other.
3. Desirable Characteristics. Outer physical appearance that is found desirable and, to a lesser extent, desirable personality traits.
4. Reciprocal Liking. When the other person is attracted to you or likes you, that can increase your own liking.
5. Social Influences. The potential union satisfying general social norms, and acceptance of the potential union within one’s social network, can contribute to people falling in love. Or, if a union does not satisfy general social norms or is not accepted by one’s social network, this can result in people falling out of love.
6. Filling Needs. If a person can fulfill needs for companionship, love, sex, or mating, there is a greater chance that the other person will fall in love with him or her.
7. Arousal/Unusualness. Being in an unusual or arousing environment can spark passion, even if the environment is perceived as dangerous or spooky (Dutton & Aron, 1974).
8. Specific Cues. A particular feature of the other may spark a particularly strong attraction; for instance, parts of their body or facial features.
9. Readiness. The more you want to be in a relationship, the lower your self-esteem and the more likely you are to fall in love.
10. Isolation. Spending time alone with another person can contribute to a development of passion.
11. Mystery. Some degree of mystery surrounding the other person, as well as uncertainty about what the other person thinks or feels, or when he or she may initiate contact, can also contribute to passion.
As the list makes clear, many of the factors that determine whether people should connect romantically are circumstantial or a result of how people behave in courtships and relationships. While it may be possible for modern technology to determine partner matches by relying not just on personality, but also on people's particular circumstances, no such algorithm can provide us with the skills necessary to maintain a relationship that is both healthy and exciting. These types of relationship skills may need to be acquired through long-term practice and training.

Aron A, Dutton DG, Aron, EN, Iverson, A. (1989) “Experiences of Falling in Love”, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships August 6, 3: 243-257.
Dutton, D.G., & Aron, A.P. (1974). “Some Evidence for Heightened Sexual Attraction Under Conditions of High Anxiety”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30 (4), 510-517.
Joel S, Eastwick, P, Finkel, E. "Is Romantic Desire Predictable? Machine Learning Applied to Initial Romantic Attraction," Psychological Science. Published online August 30, 2017.

“Brit” is a Professor of Philosophy with joint appointments in the Departments of Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Miami as well as the Network for Sensory Research at the University of Toronto. Her educational background includes a medical degree in neuroscience and a doctorate in philosophy. Her areas of research include perception, synesthesia, blindsight, consciousness, neuro-psychiatry and emotions.
Brit has written over 75 peer-reviewed articles, some three hundred popular articles on neuroscience and health issues and two books: Transient Truths (Oxford) and On Romantic Love (Oxford). She is currently finishing a third book with Oxford entitled Seeing and Saying as well as working on another book for popular press.
Her work has been featured in various public media, including Nightline, ABC News, the Huffington Post, Fox News, MSNBC, Daily Mail, Modesto Bee, and Mumbai Mirror. She is also an editor of the international peer-reviewed philosophy journal Erkenntnis and was the first female President of the Central States Philosophical Association. Brit has fear-color/texture/shape/motion synesthesia. She has recently co-authored a book with Kristian Marlow, The Superhuman Mind, based in part on research at the lab.

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Snake Island by Max Elliot Anderson

Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure, Mystery
Source: I purchased a copy.

Rod Campbell loves going to his grandfather's farm with his friends to tube down the river. As they float past Snake Island they talk about the different stories they have heard.  It seems to be that every generation of boys needs to spend the night on Snake Island to prove they aren't scared. Few make it the whole night.  Rod and his friends, Mark, Terry and Ken decide before the summer is over they are going to do just that. The trick is they must convince their parents to let them.

Rod's grandfather has offered to pull his boat down to the river  and  to cart their stuff down with his tractor  Before they go Rod hears the island was originally called Hobo Island. He spends days at the library learning all about the hobos, their lifestyle and the island. He has a run in with Mr. Paterson. Everyone around town talks about what a hero he was in the war, and how great he was in high school. Then they talk about how the war changed him.  He warns Ken about the island.  Rod learns that things were buried on the island. He and his friends go to the island with a metal detector and find a silver box with coins and metals. They divide things up.  Then they make final plans to spend the night on the island. They begin by eating with Rod's grandpa and he tells them old scary stories about the island.  Once on the island they set up camp and tell their own ghost stories.  Later on they hear a noise and go to find out what is going on. What they see terrifies them. They see crazy Mr. Paterson bury something in a hole.  They are so scared they leave the island and spend the night back in Rod's grandfather's barn.

A few days later a body is found on the island.  But are things really what they seem? Did the boys witness the killer burying the body?

I absolutely loved this book. It kept me on my toes. I kept wondering what the boys would find on the island. Then I wondered what kind of danger they would find themselves in. One thing about this author's books is that they are not only filled with adventure, but also have some sort of mystery to them. This is a must read book.