Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Review: Shatter

"Shatter" is a new-release by Nikki Trionfo and it is awesome!
But I'm getting ahead of myself.

First, take a look at this cover-
So great, right?

And the tag line-
three bodies.
two liars.
one killer.
Even better!

Salem's life is falling to pieces, shattered, by the recent death of her older sister, mentor and friend, Carrie. Others are convinced it was a freak accident but Carrie doesn't buy it. Something feels wrong. But Carrie's is not the only recent death. When Juan Herrera, a farm worker, turns up dead in her father's peach orchard, her father becomes a suspect. Salem knows there is more to the story in both murders and knows if she wants answers, she's going to have to find them herself. Uncovering the mystery leads her into dangerous gang situations, tense confrontations, new relationships and a never-saw-it-coming ending.

There are a lot of reasons why I enjoyed this book. Salem is awesome. At the start of the book, she is fragile, having just lost her sister. She is timid and accustomed to following her sister's lead. The loss Salem feels is real, raw and transfers from the written page straight to the heart. But she doesn't stay weak for long. Throughout the story, she grows and develops, through trial and error, and becomes strong and confident in her own self. Yay for strong female leads!

I also enjoyed the plot. I started reading this book at a time when I was frequently interrupted by children. And so, the first few chapters, which include several flashbacks and jump around a bit, were confusing. But overall, Trionfo did a great job of slowly introducing characters so that I remembered who they were and why they were important. She just led me right along until I was so immersed in the plot I couldn't wait to get back to the story each night.

Another thing I loved about the plot was that it was about farming and peach orchards! The conflict between the Growers, the Farm Workers Union-and also the immigrant workers and the influence of gangs was woven together in a way that made it all make sense. There is also a love story that is not teen-age-angst-y, which is a relief. It is complicated in the best sense of the word, because of ethnicity, gangs and trust issues. The mystery itself keeps you itching for each new clue. The diversity of characters is great with the Hispanic gangs and immigrant workers and white growers, which feels so fresh and new in the book market these days.

I'm excited for my 16-year-old daughter to read this book. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book. It's a great fresh read!

Also- I talked to Nikki Trionfo at the Storymakers Conference last weekend and she is every bit as cool as her book!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Book Review: Cinder Heart

Cinder Heart by Amy Linnabary, is a Cinderella retelling and everyone knows I cannot resist a good retake on the classic tale. 

The Amazon blurb:
Sixteen-year-old Gabriella just wants to finish high school without ticking off her stepmom and being forced out of her father’s house. When she finds out she’s the girl prophesied about in the fairytale Cinderella, her world gets turned upside-down.
Things get worse when the cute senior, Hal Charm, finally discovers that she exists. Add a fairy godmother, the powers of fire and speed, and a villain other than her stepmom and Gabbie’s life goes up in flames.
Now she's forced to decide between ignoring her destiny to save her friendships, or risking discovery to become the hero she needs to be.

Gabby is a character that most high school girls can relate to. And truthfully, most high school girls can relate to the way Cinderella is oppressed and the feeling that they are special but its hidden and is yet to be discovered.

Anyway, Gabby has goals to just graduate and move on with her life. By the end of the novel, her goals have grown and so has she. She is no longer a victim but a powerful force to be reckoned with. Her relationships all feel very real, with her step family and teachers. The relationship she has with her best friend is one my favorite parts of the book. And of course all the YA romance lovers will enjoy the male lead, Hal. He is both mysterious and vulnerable. 

Linnabery does a great job of taking the classic fairy tale and turning it around to make it fresh and new. Some of the classic characters take on new roles and a new villain is on scene. The setting is contemporary and ready for action. This is also the first book in a series and sets the stage nicely for a broader setting and story arc. 

Get ready for a new, exciting series that fair tale lovers will enjoy!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Book Review: The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde is a classic. I remember reading it in college in one of my many English literature classes. 

It is so funny! Written in play form, it tells the story of two friends who have created fictious personas to get them out of uncomfortable situations. When they use those personas so engage in romantic relationships, the fun begins. 

 The characters are clear and though campy and cheesy, they are engaging and entertaining. Over the top characters are the perfect vehicle for Oscar Wilde to poke fun at the social rules of his day, more specifically marriage. Our book club had a great deal of fun discussing which character we would like to play and many of the social rules we have today that are easy to make fun of. Just repeating our favorite lines kept us rolling in laughter.

The next step is to watch the movie, both 1952 and 2002. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Book Review: The Wright Brothers

"The Wright Brothers" by David McCullough is not the sort of book I pick up lately, mostly because I just don't have the brain energy to focus that much. But I'm so glad my book club read it because I really enjoyed it. 

As you might surmise, this book is about the Wright brothers and their attempts and success is creating a flying machine. I never realized how important and interesting the beginning and ending of their story is. They began as bike makers,, which was actually almost scandalous at the time because bikes were deemed unsafe. And then in the end, the United States wasn't interested in their plane. European countries were more interested and they spent many years abroad, selling their plane. All of the history was very interesting.

But the most interesting part to me was to see how connected the brothers (and whole family) were. They never married and so spent their lives together. They knew each other so well, they worked together like a well-oiled machine. And work they did. Their work ethic was amazing. 

And as always, David McCullough was thorough and supplied the perfect amount of information to keep it interesting but not over-whelming.

This poem is the heading to one of the chapters and I love it!
One ship drives east and another drives west
With the self-same winds that blow.
''Tis the set of the sails
And the gales
Which tells us the way to go.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox
"Winds of Fate"

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Look what's in my hot little hands!!!

I am so excited to be included in this anthology from the LDS Beta Readers. It has been such a fun experience. 
Here's the back cover blurb:

Sometimes the mind does more than play tricks on you--it plays twisted games. In this collaboration, wrap your brains around 25 stories ranging from soul-bending and heartbreaking to enchanting and sublime.
Follow a teacher trapped at a mysterious convention, a man whose only chance at survival is a finicky love potion, a student who sees the monsters in others, a syrian boy coming to grips with a new reality, and many more.
This collection features award-winning offerings from established and up-and-coming authors from the LDS Beta Readers group. Are you ready to play?

With so many stories, there's bound to be something you like, a little something in almost every genre. And they're short, which is perfect for busy moms, like me. Or people with short attention spans, like me. 

My story, "Strings", is the first in this collection of 25 short mind-bending stories. 

Cora wants to leave her past behind her but she can't let go of her music. When she decides to buy a piano, she finds it has strings attached. 
(haha. do you get it? strings attached?)

Here's a sneak peak:

If you would like to purchase "MindGames"-- send me an email, comment or message me and I'll get you one. 
$3 - ebook
$10 - paperback
$11 - ebook AND paperback

So fun to add this anthology to my collection of published works. 
("Lesson From My Parents" {essay}, "why i don't hide my freckles anymore" {essay}, "MindGames" {short story})

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Launch: MiNdGaMeS

Yay for book launches! 
I will write more about this experience on Wednesday, but for now- I'm prepping for my 10 minutes of fame at the Online Book Launch PARTY  at 8:50pm over on Facebook! See you there!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Book Review: The War That Saved My Life

Product Details

Ada and her brother, Jamie, have lived in London all their lives, but they don't know how long that's been. You see, they don't know when they were born. 

Born with a club foot, Ada is trapped in their run-down apartment by her emotionally and physically abusive mother. she watches the world through her small apartment window, as other children, including her brother, play in the street, go to school and live a life of freedom and mobility.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is set during WW II and is appropriately written for middle grade readers. Full of insecurities and flaws, Ada is a relatable and endearing character. When the children are evacuated from London to a small town in the country, to keep them safe from bombing, she determines that she and Jamie will go, even without their mother's blessing. 

It is there that they meet Susan Smith, a single woman, a little rough around the edges and not accustomed to children, tasked with keeping the siblings safe. But she becomes much more than a simple guardian.

Bradley does a fantastic job of getting to the core emotional issues of the characters, delving into the anxiety of fitting into a new place and not understanding much of anything in their new surroundings. Because of the abuse Ada has suffered all her life, she pushes back against every attempt to nurture or love. Its heart-breaking and honest and beautiful and the readers takes the journey with her in discovering her individual worth and identity. 

This is a great story for elementary age kids to introduce WW II from a different perspective (as opposed to hiding Jews and concentration camps). But more importantly, its a story about finding your own value and standing up for yourself, learning who you are and learning to trust other people. 

(cautious parent warning: there is reference to Susan Smith having a female friend that she lived with and was very close to. This relationship caused a rift between her father, who is a preacher, and causes her to be uncomfortable or unwelcome at church. So take that for what its worth. Its not a significant part of the book and not important to the main story line)