Earth to Dad

I’m sure all of us love those novels that pack a real punch, landing in the gut with real impact. Not many children’s novels can really make me feel, really feel, but Krista Van Dolzer’s contemporary novel Earth to Dad certainly did the trick. This contemporary story of a father and son separated by millions of miles of space is poignant and moving.

The Story: Jameson can’t wait to hear back from his father. True, it’s been well, years, since he’s heard his dad’s voice or seen his face, but Jameson knows that it’s just because his dad’s busy. After all, the first successful mission to Mars is an important job that keeps Mr. O’Malley pretty busy, at least according to Jameson’s Mom. However, Jameson starts getting suspicious after several odd incidents involving his mom. With the help of the new girl on the JICC base, Astra Primm, Jameson decides to start investigating the truth of his dad’s job and what happened to him. But does Jameson really want to know the truth? It will require a lot of pain, not just on his part, but also on the part of his new friend, his mom, and the base. Maybe it’d just be easier if his father would ever return his transmissions to Mars – earth to Dad, Jameson’s still here!

My thoughts: This is a story that was bittersweet and cleverly thought out. Van Dolzer does an amazing job of plotting out a novel that is touching and thoughtful, while also delivering a fair amount of scientific knowledge to those so keen on space travel. I really recommend it to both parents and children. Seriously, adults, if you don’t find yourselves feeling just a little sad at the end of this story, I’d be amazed. Earth to Dad is an excellently pieced together story that shows just how important the bonds between us are, no matter the distance between us.

Parental Advisories: None! Be warned, though. Your kids may learn something from this book.

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Trilogy Book 1: Chapter 5

Every Friday I will be posting a chapter of my never-to-be-published fantasy trilogy. Please comment and tell me what you think (keeping in mind that this was written several years back).

Read chapter five NOW.

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The Story Collector

With New York flair and all the literary love that Kristin O’Donnell Tubb has in her, The Story Collector arrives with all of its mystery and fun!

The Story: Viviani Fedeler could not live in a more wonderful home. At the New York Public Library, she and her brothers can go anywhere they want and have all kinds of marvelous adventures thanks to her father’s wonderful job as the library’s do-all superintendent. Together with her best friend Eva, Viv’s home contains every kind of story that can make them captains of a pirate ship, fly to the moon, and millionaires every day. It’s a child’s dream come true, if only the new girl at school would believe her stories. Merit Mubarak doesn’t believe in fabulous flights of fantasy, which is too bad for Viv, because it appears that despite all she does imagine, there seems to be a very real ghost in the library. If Eva, Merit, the boys, and Viviani don’t learn to work together, the hauntings may get worse. But not to worry; the New York Public Library always has Viv’s back!

My Thoughts: I am a library buff. Considering I work at one, I guess it’s no surprise. As such, I really enjoyed The Story Collector! It had plenty of whimsy and mystery; middle-graders will no doubt enjoy this fun book. In addition, I really liked the fact that the story was actually based off of real people. The fact that Viviani and her brothers really did get to roam the halls of the public library is particularly enticing for anyone who’s ever dreamed of hiding in the library for a night. Filled with all sorts of historical fact and literary know-how, O’Donnell Tubb has crafted a read that is sure to please!

Parental Advisory: None! This is a wonderfully educational book though, so be sure to take all the time to milk that. Look at photos to see where Viviani and her friends played and be sure to read the back of the book where the author lays out the true story of Viviani Fedeler.

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Trilogy Book 1: Chapter 4

Every Friday I will be posting a chapter of my never-to-be-published fantasy trilogy. Please comment and tell me what you think (keeping in mind that this was written several years back).

Check out chapter four HERE!

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The Train to Impossible Places

Looking for a rollicking new adventure that’s sure to keep both you and your children up at night? Look no further than The Train to Impossible Places by P. G. Bell.

The Story: Sometimes the craziest things can come out of the blue, just like the Impossible Postal Express, which comes rolling into Suzy’s living room one night. Though Suzy knows it’s likely against crazy, she decides to take a chance and hop aboard, earning her a one-way ticket to the most unlikely mad-cap adventure she’s ever heard of. On the family-owned, troll-operated Postal Express, Suzy is deployed by the current owner of the train Wilmot to deliver something to the Lady Crepuscula, an assignment that turns into a much bigger adventure when the package begins to talk to her. Suddenly, Suzy is swept up in a grand escapade that involves pirates, a magical snowglobe, and a cursed prince! It’s time for her to find her courage if she is to save the Postal Express.

My Thoughts: This was a wonderfully paced fantasy story that will excite readers. Besides the fact that it’s a humorously original idea, The Train to Impossible Places is wonderfully written. P. G. Bell manages to craft a story with descriptive language that caught my interest immediately. Plus, the colorful cover is definitely one that is fun to display on your bookshelf. A remarkably good read and one I highly recommend!

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Trilogy Book 1: Chapter 3

Every Friday I will be posting a chapter of my never-to-be-published fantasy trilogy. Please comment and tell me what you think (keeping in mind that this was written several years back).

To read chapter three, click HERE.

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My Year in the Middle

If you’re looking for a book that is both an enjoyable read and is also a rather thoughtful look at race, friendship, and what it means to be yourself, you might want to read My Year in the Middle by Lila Quintero Weaver.

The Story: Lu Olivera knows several things. 1. When running, save your strength for the home stretch. 2. Her Mamá and Papá are some of the best people in the world. 3. Life is not always as black and white as it seems. In 1970s, Alabama, segregation has been overcome, but that doesn’t mean the racism is gone, especially for a school like Lu’s where there are only a few black kids for the very first time. Lu herself is not exactly sure where she stands in it all, being in the middle row and from Argentina. With everyone inside and outside of school taking sides and a big race coming up, Lu just wants to keep her eyes on the prize to become a great runner. Can she really accomplish her goal? And does Lu have even more strength to decide what kind of a person she wants to be?

My Thoughts: I’m going to level with ya’ll. Personally, I’m a little sick of the way politics has been creeping into children’s books. Don’t get me wrong; I think kids ought to know about this kind of stuff, but it seems like I can hardly pick up a fiction book without seeing the agenda behind it. That having been said, I think My Year in the Middle manages to make its point rather eloquently without having to shove the issue of racism down your throat. At its core, this is a story about Lu Olivera, the girl who wants to become a runner someday, but it also deals with both sides of the racial issue in the 70s. Without spewing too much hate or being particularly biased, this is a good read that allows kids to think and make up their own minds.

Parental Advisory: There are mild racial (one could call them “racist) jokes throughout, though they are generally pointed out for what they are. Otherwise, a clean read.

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Trilogy Book 1: Chapter Two

Every Friday I will be posting a chapter of my never-to-be-published fantasy trilogy. Please comment and tell me what you think (keeping in mind that this was written several years back).

See chapter two HERE.

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Smoke and Mirrors

If you’re looking for a new middle-grade read that combines the struggles of being the new kid with magic and mystery, K. D. Halbrook has a magical new read titled Smoke and Mirrors that is perfect for you.

The Story: For as long as she can remember, Sacha has grown up in the Cirque, a magical place where her parents are trapeze artists and Sacha’s imagination can take flight. Here, she is at home with her brother Toddy and all of the others who make up the circus. Unfortunately, Sacha will soon have to leave this idyllic world behind for the much more foreign land of school. She knows it’s going to be great for her and her little brother – that is, until she gets on the bus and discovers that the Islander kids are a lot meaner than they seemed at first. Life seems to be going from good to bad at an alarming rate and it is on one of these horrible days that Sacha makes a wish for everything to change. And change it does. When the Smoke comes and takes away her parents, Sacha realizes that she must face her fears if she is to save the people that matter most to her in the world.

My thoughts: This book is pretty different from a lot of what I’ve read. It reminds me a little of an Alice in Wonderland genre story where nothing is as it seems and a lot of odd happenings occur that never get a huge amount of explanation. Don’t get me wrong; I like the characters, especially the quirky caretakers that Sacha and Toddy find themselves stuck with after their parents disappear. I am just not sure that this is the story for you if you’re a super detail-oriented individual. Either way, Smoke and Mirrors is a pretty enjoyable read that takes you on a magical ride.

Parental Advisories: None! Mention is made of children swearing, but no language is to be found, though there are some mild depictions of schoolground violence and bullying.

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When Things Get Old…

So there was this idea.

An idea that all the best fairytales in the world could be mashed up, brought into one world, and interact together in a unique and fun way.

Sound familiar? Perhaps right now you’re thinking about the hit TV show Once Upon a Time, the ever popular book series The Lunar Chronicles, etc., etc. If you’re tired of it, I’m sorry.

But that’s not what I’m talking about.

Because today, I’d like to introduce you to the first ever book I ever wrote, The Silver Woods, a fairytale mashup written expressly for my little sister. If you’ve been here for a while, you probably remember reading some of the excerpts I posted once upon a time (eh, eh? Okay). Anyway, this was when I was about eight or ten before Once Upon a Time was ever really a thing back in 2009/2010-ish. My sister was/is obsessed with fairytales and I wanted to write a story that was meant for my family – one that my siblings could see themselves in, but could also learn from and would have familiar elements.

Enter The Silver Woods.

This book is a love letter to fantasy and fairytales alike. It is a love letter to my childhood passions, to Disney princess films, and to all the European history that I so indulged in. But mostly, it’s a love letter to my family, whom it was written for, about, and in some ways, almost by. This is my story, a story that will never be published because it is unoriginal by today’s standards. It’s not unique nor fresh and perhaps never will be. That’s okay; I had to get it out of my system.

So here’s what I want you to leave you guys with today: 1. Please, please, please do yourselves a favor and never give up on that story that you need to get out of you. Some stories are never marketable, but if you really love the craft and the tale, write it anyway. 2. I’d like to gift you guys with all three books of my trilogy. I’ll be posting them every week on Fridays. Please comment, let me know what you think, and critique. I want to know what is good about this and what is bad about this. I want to know what you loved and what you loathed. Most of all, I want it to show that I wrote what I loved.

(But also just so I can finally get it out there and prove that I did it first)

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