Book Reviews

January Picture Books to Read

A new year, and a new book…books. Regardless of how many books you have set to read this year, here are a few picture books to keep your little ones feeling rather, mostly…furry, and laughing in the new year.

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How Tickles Saved Pickles by Maddie Johnson: this true story picture book is full of uber cute piglet and pig photos. And even a few dogs. This story is pigfect for all animal lovers.



Image result for zola's elephantZola’s Elephant by Randall de Seve, illustrations by Pamela Zagarenski: The story and colors comes alive in this imaginative story about new neighbors. Readers will be enchanted by the story and illustrations. Kids will absolutely relate, maybe even some adults who think the grass is greener on the other side.



Image result for walk your dog the bookWalk Your Dog by Elizabeth Stevens Omlor, illustrations by Neesha Hudson: As I write this I’m still trying to decide if I liked this story or not. The illustrations are cute, but you’ll need to decide if this is a winner or not when you read it.



I Mustache You to Read with Me by Andrea Vilemont Moreau, illustrations by Clinton G.Image result for i mustache you to read to me Bowers: This book could not be any punnier! (see what I did there). Kids will love this book enough to LOL and parents won’t mind reading it over…and over…and over again.



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The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee: This unique story had me hooked! Since I am a fan of the author’s other books, including It’s Only Stanley, I had high expectations. I think little ones will even pick up on the sarcastic tone of the book. A must read for sure!


Book Reviews

A Good Book

difdfI first “got” into books once I was actually able to read them, much later than my peers (okay, way, way, way later than my peers). The R.L Stine series and The Boxcar Children when I was younger. Then, once again when I became a nanny and couldn’t find anything worth watching on TV when the baby was sleeping.

I would pull books from the family’s bookshelf, read the back cover blurb, and then if it sounded good, would dive right in. The family that had these books was an Oprah book club member. Every book had the OPRAH sticker on the cover.

I believe the first one I read was:

Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts

Followed by:

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

Vinegar Hill by A Manette Ansay

Gap Creek by Robert Morgan

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

I found these books to be the center of my day, and my joy the following day (these books were so well written!!!!). I never let them (the family) know I was reading them, so I would stick them back on the shelf and make a mental note of the chapter I was on.fdfdfdf

The weekends were especially long since I didn’t work, and had to wait until Monday to get back to reading. I was at the time, and still am, a slow reader, so it would take me a good month to finish one book.

I worked as a nanny for this family just over 2 years, and when the mom stopped buying new books for the shelves I stopped reading. I was not aware of libraries and how to use them (I didn’t know they had them outside of school!!), however immature that sounds. So my reading time faded into nothing for many years, until I picked it back up again, and started reading and (funny as it is) writing and learning about libraries.

Nowadays – many years later – I am well versed in library knowledge (thank goodness). My reading taste have turned rather…pig-headed, so to speak. Most books I read, I find sub-par. The hook is weak or the hook fades off after chapter 2, or sentences go by without much connection to moving the story forward. It’s hard to please me as a reader. Even children’s literature I have grown rather picky over since becoming a writer.

So, basically the thing to note about me is this, if I recommend a book, that means a lot coming from me.




Random Humor, Spotlight on Writing

When Do Writers Read?

I started reading Sycamore Row by John Grisham in March. I’m still only 1/2 way done. (And it’s a good book!). My writer friends are always posting about books they are reading, and I am thinking when do you have time to read?!?

I do make attempts to read but they always go south.

  • If I sit down to read 88% of the time I fall asleep within the first 3 pages, even with the best books.
  • If I am reading my mind wanders to my TO DO LIST.
  • If I am reading I think about each sentence and scene and what I like or don’t like about it as a writer, reading each paragraph until I give up in actually moving to the next page.
  • If I sit down to read I notice my hands and that they
  • A. need new nail polish
  • B. need lotion
  • C. need cuticle care
  • D. notice more freckles which leads to thinking about aging and before I know it I’ve read to 2 pages but didn’t comprehend any of it.

So, when do you find time to read?


Spotlight on Writing

Mini Interview with Rhonda McCormack

photoI had the pleasure of meeting Ms. McCormack at a SCBWI get together a few years back. We have remained friends over the years, and not only is she a writer and artist, but also a wonderful lady who always has great insights on wellness and life. Her book Wildflowers was released in August 2012, and one lucky visitor will get an autographed copy!! (To enter, please leave a comment below. The winner will be picked at random next Thursday, June 6th.)

1. What is your favorite YA book?
 Oh boy.  This will be impossible to nail down.  But after a think, I do have a favorite novel about two young girls who transition through many living situations before coming into a unique arrangement with their mother’s younger sister.  The book is Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, and though it’s not officially put in the YA genre, it is some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read on the young adult experience.  Another amazing (amazing!) book not in the YA genre but featuring young adult characters is Atonement by Ian McEwan.  These books have more adult themes and situations, but again, speak to the honesty of young adulthood.
As a young reader, I was drawn to authors like Judy Blume and Lois Lowry, who wrote the Anastasia Krupnik novels that still make me laugh today.  I also recall that the family’s copy of The Outsiders had smooshed corners and rumpled page edges from the many (many) reads it got.  Two others worth mentioning are The Chocolate War (Cormier) and The Last Unicorn (Beagle).
As for contemporary YA, I was deeply touched by A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park, though this is more middle grade than YA.  I also felt moved by The Book Thief (Zusak) and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian (Alexie), and most recently, I read Endangered by Eliot Schrefer and found the story so thoughtful and powerful that I’ve been referring left and right.  Oh, and there’s Hattie Big Sky (Larson) for good YA historical fiction, and Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick My Ass (Medina) for a powerful narrative on bullying, and there’s John Green and Tom Leveen for authentic teen voices.
See how hard this is?  I could go on and on and on…
2. How does being an artist enhance your writing?

In any and every way I can think of.  The long and the short of it is that both can be meditative or generate energy, but moving away from words, sentences, structure and getting into the studio allows me perspective.  My art is less formal than my writing, and working on a painting while also working on a novel can open me up to that space where the writing flows.  It’s not always the case that I have both going at the same time, but I’m moving more towards that end.

3. Your book Wildflowers focuses on environmental issues. Tell us one change you have made within your home to be more environmentally friendly?

My interest in being a good environmental steward proceeded Wildflowers, and over the years our homes have just grown more and more Eco-friendly.  Some of the cooler things we’ve done include using insulation made from recycled blue jeans and installing a tank-less water heater, and I swear by using less toxic paints and cleaners.  I’ve also enjoyed finding product manufacturers who have an environmental philosophy outlined as part of their business model.  Room and Board and Flor are two companies I’ve found that are dedicated to using Eco-minded materials and production practices, as well as being committed to quality products and fair treatment of labor.

4.  What is your favorite thing about indie publishing?
The creative freedoms.  For writers, artists, and illustrators who would love to see the book they’ve imagined in their heads come to life exactly as they see it, Indie is a super cool option.  I’ve written a lot about the importance of quality writing, design, and marketing when deciding to enter the Indie movement, but if the creator is up for it, it’s a fascinating (and challenging) artistic experience.