Monday, January 6, 2020

Cybils Book Awards Judging Underway

Just dropping a quick note here because I'm reading like mad, but I can't post any of the reviews until February. That's because the reading I'm currently doing is as a second round judge for the YA fiction category of the Cybils Book Awards.

Until the winners are announced, I won't be sharing my reviews of the fabulous finalists, but I can tell you who they are.

From the ones I have read so far, the first round of judging must have been challenging. They are all so good! Glad the final decision is by committee (five of us) and I don't have the weight of it only on my shoulders.

So, watch for reviews of each of these in early February. I'm writing them as I go, but won't share until then.

In the meantime, I am also up to my eyeballs in the very untidy rough draft of the guesthouse memoir Not Quite Serenity, pitching a handful of picture books, revising The Humanity of Tigers for an older audience before resuming querying, and beginning work on the sequel to Bianca. Life is never dull for a writer.

Why not join me in reading the finalists for this category? I have gotten all of them through my local library, so I bet you can too. Or you can discover the finalists in another area that might strike your fancy at this link.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Review of Cat Life: Celebrating the History, Culture & Love of the Cat

Cat Life: Celebrating the History, Culture & Love of the CatCat Life: Celebrating the History, Culture & Love of the Cat by Amy Shojai
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Shojai's new book is a thorough and comprehensive look at cats of all shapes and sizes--sometimes even a bit more than tenderhearted cat lovers may want to know about the mistreatment of their feline friends over the centuries. Humans are a cruel, cruel, superstitious bunch. There are beautiful illustrations, and this book could genuinely be called "Everything You Wanted To Know About Cats But Didn't Even Know To Ask." There is history, information on different breeds, and more details about cats than even I knew (and that's saying something because I'm an ailurophile extraordinaire).

If you are also a feline loving human, I highly recommend this book celebrating cats. I'll leave you with my favorite line: "Their knowing attitude and aura of eternal agelessness are constant reminders that cats spring from the mystic beginnings of time itself. It's a fact kitty will never let us forget." (p. 15)

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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Holiday Book Sale

Holiday Book Sale!! 

All of my paperback books from Serenity Mountain Publishing are on sale for only $8 each (usually $11) until December 8 (or when supplies on hand run out). Grab your copies today. Tell your friends! 

Sale price is only good through my website. Tap here to shop now!

That's all for today. More book reviews coming soon, but I've been working on finishing The Mammoth Hunters by Jean Auel, and it's loooong. After that I'll be back to the middle grade books waiting on my nightstand. And reviews will follow. 

Have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

"Emmy in the Key of Code" Book Review

Emmy in the Key of CodeEmmy in the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a wonderful book for older elementary or younger YA readers, especially kids who are struggling to embrace who they are and what they love in life. It is written in a free-verse style of poetry, and as Emmy learns to use Java code, those symbols are interspersed in the text. That is part of what makes reading it so delightful, but it could be challenging for younger readers. I know zero about coding, but I thought the use of it within Emmy's thoughts as she develops her skills and understanding was brilliant.

I especially loved the friendships that developed during the story, the integration of music, and the focus on girls in science and math and challenging that stereotype.

Highly recommend. And I can assure you that I will be checking out the code when I transfer this review over to my blog page. Not like I'll understand it all, but I will definitely appreciate it a bit more.

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Sunday, September 15, 2019

"The Garden of Small Beginnings" Book Review

The Garden of Small BeginningsThe Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is just ridiculously delightful in every way. As soon as I finished "The Bookish Life of Nina Hill," I requested everything else by Abbi Waxman from the library. I read this one first and was not at all disappointed. As a general rule, I don't read romance, nor am I romantic in my own life. But Waxman's love stories encompass so much for the characters than just the boy/girl relationship.

"Garden of Small Beginnings" is focused on recovery from loss and extreme grief (like at a level that puts you into a mental institution) for the main character, Lillian, four years after her husband is killed in a car accident. While the plot is well done and moves along at a lovely pace, my favorite part is her sense of humor, which is reflected in the sass of all of her characters, including the precocious children. Waxman makes me snort, chuckle, and outright laugh out loud (much to the dismay of my trying-to-sleep husband).

A story about moving on after the loss of a spouse could be heavy and deep, but Waxman lifts Lillian's journey to find the love and humor of realizing that life goes on, whether you want it to or not. And Lillian is surrounded by a full cast of varied characters going through their own journeys who you can also root for. Of course, it is a romance, so you can count on the happily ever after, but it's more about Lillian being happy with her life and herself than finding a guy. I love that more than anything.

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Happy Birthday, Miss Fatty Cat and Slinky!

We're not sure on the exact birthday or the adoption date, but we've selected September 12th as Miss Fatty Cat and Slinky's birthday. Happy 14th birthday, ladies! Yes, 14 years old. Whew.

Miss Fatty Cat (aka Samantha) in her younger days.

Slinky (aka Tabitha) enjoying apartment life.

Slinky stepped out with our older daughter several years ago, and she now shares a home with three dogs (plus one foster dog at the moment) and two rabbits. The upstairs, apparently, is her quiet space, and she has a lot more to say than "eep" if someone bugs her.

It is also the Book Birthday for Miss Fatty Cat's Revenge (published in 2014). You know Miss Fatty Cat would think a perfect celebration of her birthday would be to read a chapter or share it with a friend! Amazon even has the hardcover on sale right now for $7.48. Crazy!

Now that she's 14, Miss Fatty Cat isn't really so fat anymore. It happens. But she's happy and still gets the zoomies at least once a day, during which she yowls for the world to hear.

Miss Fatty Cat, during a brief adventure of her own
when she lived on campus at the U of A with her mama.
That's all for now! We hope you have a wonderful day as we also prepare to celebrate our younger daughter's 21st birthday this weekend. Oh dear!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Problim Children: Carnival Catastrophe Book Review

Carnival Catastrophe (The Problim Children, #2)Carnival Catastrophe by Natalie Lloyd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Delightful once again, Natalie! This is the second book in what will clearly be a longer series about the Problim family. Kirkus Reviews equates her style to Roald Dahl, and it certainly holds true for this series. You have to be ready for serious levels of ridiculousness, as well as hundreds of toddler farts that can be identified by name and purpose via Toot Problim. As an adult reader, I'm sure my head comes at some of the family's antics with a bit more annoyance. They are really quite a terror to the city! I was definitely becoming concerned that some of their tricks were downright bullying, but that is all part of the story and the lessons that Mona especially has to learn. Revelations about friendship and loyalty, piles of silliness, circus spiders, a robot squirrel, the celebration of the unique wonderfulness of each individual, and some gasp-worthy twists at the end put this book on my highly recommended list for young readers.

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