Category Archives: Book Chat
Title: A Monster Like Me
Author: Wendy S. Swore
Genre: Young Adult
Released: March 5, 2019
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Book Description: There are trolls, goblins, and witches. Which kind of monster is Sophie?
Sophie is a monster expert. Thanks to her Big Book of Monsters and her vivid imagination, Sophie can identify the monsters in her school and neighborhood. Clearly, the bullies are trolls and goblins. Her nice neighbor must be a good witch, and Sophie’s new best friend is obviously a fairy. But what about Sophie? She’s convinced she is definitely a monster because of the “monster mark” on her face. At least that’s what she calls it. The doctors call it a blood tumor. Sophie tries to hide it but it covers almost half her face. And if she’s a monster on the outside, then she must be a monster on the inside, too.
Being the new kid at school is hard. Being called a monster is even harder. Sophie knows that it’s only a matter of time before the other kids, the doctors, and even her mom figure it out. And then her mom will probably leave — just like her dad did.
Because who would want to live with a real monster?
Inspired by real events in the author’s life, A Monster Like Me teaches the importance of believing in oneself, accepting change, and the power of friendship.
Sophie’s story is dear to my heart because I know how it feels to be bullied because I looked different from everyone else. When I was a child, I
had a hemangioma on my forehead that stuck out so far my bangs couldn’t
cover it, no matter how hard my mother tried. Because the tumor was
made up of blood vessels, I could feel my heart beating inside it when I was
playing hard or really upset.
The incident at the grocery store where the hydra lady says,
“Hey, look kids! That girl doesn’t need a Halloween costume. She’s already got one!” is an exact quote of what a woman once said to my mother and me. Another woman told a classroom full of kids that I had the mark of the devil. Kids asked if it was a goose bump, or hamburger, or if my brains had leaked out. My dad had to chase away some bullies who had followed me home, called me names, and pushed me into the street. Sometimes, after a bad day of bullying, I wished I could just rip the mark off my face and be like everyone else—but it was a part of me, and wishing didn’t change that.
My parents decided to take an active role in educating the people around me so they would know what a hemangioma was and understand that it wasn’t icky, or gross, or contagious. Whenever we moved to a new place, my dad would go with me to the elementary school and talk to the kids about my mark and let them ask questions. After those talks, kids befriended me and noticed when bullies came around. Like Autumn, my school friends would speak up when they saw someone being mean to me, and sometimes they would stand between me and the bullies until they left me alone. I didn’t let the bullies stop me from doing what I wanted to do. I climbed trees, went swimming, wrote poetry, brought my tarantula and snakes to show-and-tell, and played in the tide pools.
This is my message to anyone who experiences bullying: Don’t let the bullies define you! I’ve been there, I know it hurts to be teased, but don’t let it stop you from doing what you want. Find something you enjoy—a hobby, talent, or challenge—and practice that skill. Know that someone out there, maybe even someone in your same school, needs a friend as much as you do. Be that friend. Stand up for each other. And know that you are not alone.
You can always find me at WendySwore.com, and I would love to hear your stories and what you thought of the book.
Title: Seven at Sea: Why a New York City Family Cast Off Convention for a Life-Changing Year on a Sailboat
Author: Erik Orton and Emily Orton
Released: March 5, 2019
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Book Description: Working the night shift as a temp in a high-rise cubicle, Erik Orton knew something had to change. He felt the responsibility of providing for his wife and their five children—the youngest with Down syndrome—but craved a life that offered more than just surviving.
Watching the sailboats on the Hudson River during his sunset dinner breaks, Erik dared to dream. What would it be like to leave the hustle of the city and instead spend a year on a sailboat, somewhere beautiful, as a family? Despite having no sailing experience, his wife Emily’s phobia of deep water, and already stretching every dollar to pay rent and buy groceries, the family of seven turned their excuses into reasons and their fears into motivation. Sure, they would miss their friends, they could go broke, they could get injured or die. Worst of all, they could humiliate themselves by trying something audacious and failing. But the little time they still had together as a family, before their oldest daughter left for college, was drifting away. The Ortons cast off the life they knew to begin an uncertain journey of 5,000 miles between New York City and the Caribbean, ultimately arriving at a new place within themselves.
A portrait of a captivating and resilient family and a celebration of the courage it takes to head for something over the horizon, this is a deeply compelling story—told alternately by Erik and Emily—for all those who dream of leaving routine in their wake.
Title: Waiting for Fitz
Author: Spencer Hyde
Genre: Young Adult
Released: March 5, 2019
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Book Description: Addie loves nothing more than curling up on the couch with her dog, Duck, and watching The Great British Baking Show with her mom. It’s one of the few things that can help her relax when her OCD kicks into overdrive. She counts everything. All the time. She can’t stop. Rituals and rhythms. It’s exhausting.
When Fitz was diagnosed with schizophrenia, he named the voices in his head after famous country singers. The adolescent psychiatric ward at Seattle Regional Hospital isn’t exactly the ideal place to meet your soul mate, but when Addie meets Fitz, they immediately connect over their shared love of words, appreciate each other’s quick wit, and wish they could both make more sense of their lives.
Fitz is haunted by the voices in his head and often doesn’t know what is real. But he feels if he can convince Addie to help him escape the psych ward and everything will be okay. If not, he risks falling into a downward spiral that may keep him in the hospital indefinitely.
Waiting for Fitz is a story about life and love, forgiveness and courage, and what’s necessary to let go and learning what is truly worth waiting for.
My life was forever changed by Sue Grafton. She was an incredible woman, a literary superstar, and she will be sorely missed.
Meet Sue Grafton. I shed a few tears yesterday when I heard about her death at age 77. She was an inspiration. She was solid in her belief that her books would not be made into movies and she had already named her final book, Z is for Zero. She had other work but I think her best work was and always will be the Alphabet Series starting the tough female protagonist, Kinsey Milhone.
Kinsey is a sassy and tough and a perfect role model for someone like me. The first book, A for Alibi, was published in 1982 and each book thereafter followed the alphabet theme.
I loved the library my whole life. I always read comic book compilations until one day when the librarian was getting my books checked out said something life changing. All she said was “You are too smart to be reading only comic books.” Being a kid, I was intimidated by this adult who was talking to me. I mean, seriously? An adult that talks to kids? That was unheard of in my world. That librarian introduced me to a world I never considered. Books that were only words? Wow! What a concept. I think I was probably 10.
My love of the library followed me to my adult life. I was in my mid 20’s when I found audiobooks. Freshly married with no money, I bought a Walkman from the retail store where I worked and went to the library to browse. Feeling cool with my music and cassette player, I stumbled on books that were on tape. A-freaking-mazing!!
I tried several books that were on tape. I mostly listened to Agatha Christie and Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe. I could multitask up a storm while listening to a book! That was the cat’s meow. When I had exhausted those, I decided I’d try A for Alibi by Sue Grafton. I was hooked. Immediately. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. I was wrapped up in Kinsey Milhone’s life and it was fabulous.
It was the mid 90’s and I had quite a few books in the alphabet to listen to before the library ran out. Then the most amazing thing happened. My husband and I were on a roadtrip to visit his sister and I’d convinced him to give an audiobook a try instead of listening to music on the way home. We were tooling along the interstate, listening to the book and when we surfaced from the movie in our heads, we had missed our exit and was 20 miles off course. We laughed, turned around and went about our way.
When we got home, something propelled me to search Sue Grafton out on the newly released world called the Internet. I emailed her and told her about our story. I thought it might make her feel good to know that her writing had kept us so enthralled. I figured that was that.
I was wrong. That super nice lady, emailed me back. Maybe it was her assistant. Maybe her publicist. But still, Holy Crap!! I talked to a celebrity! Ahhhhhhhh!!! I was so stoked I was on cloud 9 for days. That was so cool that no one could possibly understand. About a month or so later, my world got rocked all over again. Sue (or her assistant or publicist) sent me SWAG for her next book. Can you believe it! You have to remember, I had no idea that authors did this for publicity. I thought I was super special. At Christmas, we got a Christmas card. (We’ve gotten one every year since). I was amped. She made me feel valued and I’m sure she didn’t even know it. Thank you, Sue Grafton. You changed my world.
I emailed her a message in 2015 that explained that I was now a blogger and reviewing books. I had her to thank because she introduced me to her world. Annnnnd SHE WROTE BACK! She is an award winning author and much more famous than when I first contacted her. If she changed my life with just an email, can you imagine how many other lives she touched?
Thank you, Sue Grafton. My alphabet will now always end at “Y”.
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Welcome to my Sunday book hunt and author gossip. Keep coming back for updates on book releases and news from favorite authors.
It occurs to me that I have quite a few of books on my TBR list. With the holidays, I have extra curricular activities to get done, so I’ve been listening to audio books. I’m sure that’s quite noticeable by the posts I’ve been doing. With that being said, I’m going to focus on super audio books that I want to listen to.
I found a free audiobook that audible.com that might be kind of fun. Normally, these kinds of stories aren’t my bag, but this is a short listen of a little over 1 hour. This might be a good time to try out audio books with no expense.
Title: Gather ‘Round the Sound
Authors: Paulo Coelho, Yvonne Morrison, Charles Dickens
Narrators: Angele Masters, Daniel Frances Berenson, Magda Szubanski, Simon Callow, Dan Starkey, John Banks, Vern
Released: December 8, 2017
Publisher’s description: 2017 has been a monumental year for Audible, having just celebrated our 20th anniversary, a milestone that would have never been possible without our wonderful and loyal listeners. One of our major commitments is bringing new and diverse audio experiences to our members, so this year, as our gift to you, we pulled together a collection that reflects a little bit of everything we’ve been up to recently: a surprising and heartwarming documentary, a selection of stories from our partners around the world, and even some improvised comedic carols we hope will make you laugh as much as they did us.
The lineup includes:
Zip Code 12345
This mini-documentary centers around a peculiar holiday tradition at General Electric’s headquarters in Schenectady, NY. For two decades, GE has been receiving thousands of letters from kids – children who think they’re reaching Santa Claus. And every year, a handful of GE employees give up their December lunchbreaks to respond to each and every letter.
An Aussie Night Before Christmas, by Yvonne Morrison, performed by Magda Szubanksi
This rollicking rewrite of the famous old poem ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas gives the original version a hilarious Aussie twist. Magda Szubanski, Australia’s most trusted personality, caries this incredibly fun romp. Kangaroos pulling the sleigh, a beer for Santa, and all the over-the-top Australian lingo, it’s everything you’d expect.
The Music Coming from the House, by Paulo Coehlo, performed by Daniel Frances-Berenson
In this magical story from the author of The Alchemist – the master of the modern parable – a disguised king visits a poor village, and what he sees through the window of a house changes his life, and those of the occupants.
The Signal-man, by Charles Dickens, performed by Simon Callow, Dan Starkey, and John Banks
For literature lovers, the holiday season needs a little Dickens. We dug up a story of his that you may not be familiar with, originally published in the Christmas edition of a Victorian short story periodical. Of course, ghosts are involved in this 19th century work told by Simon Callow (Outlander) and Dan Starkey (Dr. Who).
A Very Improvised Holiday Musical
What would the holidays be without some carols? Vern, a New York City-based improv troupe, performs a few improvised holiday songs.
You think that anthologies only exist in print? Nope. One of my favorite authors got together a bunch of friends and put together the Monster Hunter Files. I really love the Monster Hunters. I’m behind in the Monster Hunter series, but I could totally get caught up with audio books.
Title: Monster Hunter Files
Authors: Oliver Wyman, Khristine Hvam, Bailey Carr
Narrators: Jane Yellowrock, Monster Hunter
Released: October 3, 2017
Publisher’s description: For well over a century, Monster Hunter International has kept the world safe from supernatural threats small and large – and, in some cases, very, very large. Now, join us as MHI opens their archives for the first time. From experienced hunters on their toughest cases to total newbies’ initial encounters with the supernatural, The Monster Hunter Files reveals the secret history of the world’s most elite monster fighting force.
Discover what happened when Agent Franks took on the Nazis in World War II. Uncover how the Vatican’s Combat Exorcists deal with Old Ones in Mexico. And find out exactly what takes place in a turf war between trailer park elves and gnomes. From the most powerful of mystical beings to MHI’s humble janitor, see the world of professional monster hunting like never before.
Featuring 17 all new tales based on Larry Correia’s best-selling series, from New York Times best-selling authors Jim Butcher, John Ringo, Jessica Day George, Jonathan Maberry, Faith Hunter, and many more.
Also includes stories by Larry Correia, John C. Wright, Jody Lynn Nye, Mike Kupari, and Brad R. Torgersen.
Nora Roberts – oh, sorry, J.D. Robb – will be releasing the next In Death book in January. Audible.com has pre-orders just like Amazon does. It’s simple to do and, granted, audio books cost more than print books, but when the narrator is good and the author is a favorite, I’m in a zone. Anyway, here’s the next In Death book – #46 – that I pre-ordered today.
Title: Dark in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #46
Release: January 30, 2018
Narrator: Susan Ericksen
Publisher’s description: Lieutenant Eve Dallas returns in the new novel by the #1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense, and takes on a case of death imitating art…
It was a stab in the dark.
On a chilly February night, during a screening of Psycho in midtown, someone sunk an ice pick into the back of Chanel Rylan’s neck, then disappeared quietly into the crowds of drunks and tourists in Times Square. To Chanel’s best friend, who had just slipped out of the theater for a moment to take a call, it felt as unreal as the ancient black-and-white movie up on the screen. But Chanel’s blood ran red, and her death was anything but fictional.
Then, as Eve Dallas puzzles over a homicide that seems carefully planned and yet oddly personal, she receives a tip from an unexpected source: an author of police thrillers who recognizes the crime – from the pages of her own book. Dallas doesn’t think it’s coincidence, since a recent strangulation of a sex worker resembles a scene from her writing as well. Cops look for patterns of behavior: similar weapons, similar MOs. But this killer seems to find inspiration in someone else’s imagination, and if the theory holds, this may be only the second of a long-running series.
The good news is that Eve and her billionaire husband Roarke have an excuse to curl up in front of the fireplace with their cat, Galahad, reading mystery stories for research. The bad news is that time is running out before the next victim plays an unwitting role in a murderer’s deranged private drama – and only Eve can put a stop to a creative impulse gone horribly, destructively wrong.
Often the audiobooks are released days after the print version. I’m not sure the reason for this other than expense and popularity. Making an audiobook is probably quite an undertaking. I don’t know the ins and outs, but hiring a good narrator is absolutely imperative. Anyway, Faith Hunter released her print and audio of Flame in the Dark on the same days as print. Thank you Ms. Hunter.
- Title: Flame in the Dark
- Series: Soulwood, Book 3
- Author: Faith Hunter
- Narrated by: Khristine Hvam
- Series: Soulwood, Book 3
- Length: 13 hrs and 42 mins
- Release date: 12-05-17
Set in the same world as Faith Hunter’s New York Times best-selling Jane Yellowrock novels, the third, thrilling Soulwood novel stars Nell Ingram, who draws her powers from deep within the earth.
Nell Ingram has always known she was different. Since she was a child, she’s been able to feel and channel ancient powers from deep within the earth. When she met Jane Yellowrock, her entire life changed, and she was recruited into PsyLED – the Homeland Security division that polices paranormals. But now her newly formed unit is about to take on its toughest case yet.
A powerful senator barely survives an assassination attempt that leaves many others dead – and the house he was visiting burns to the ground. Invisible to security cameras, the assassin literally disappears, and Nell’s team is called in. As they track a killer they know is more – or less – than human, they unravel a web of dark intrigue and malevolent motives that tests them to their limits and beyond.
You may not know that Audible has samples of the story just like print books. That’s really a sweet gig when it’s a new author or new narrator. I found this book that looked particularly interesting.
Title: Born in Fire
- Series: Fire and Ice Trilogy, Book 1
- Narrated by: Nicole Poole
- Series: Fire and Ice (Breene), Book 1
- Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
- Release date: 05-01-17
- Publisher’s description Supernatural Bounty Hunter isn’t the sort of thing you see on LinkedIn. But with a rare type of magic like mine, I don’t have many options. Dangerous or not, the job is mine. And it was going fine, until an old-as-sin vampire stole my mark, and with it, my pay day. Knowing I’m poor and desperate, he has offered me a job. I’ll have to work by his side to help solve a top secret case. Everyone knows not to trust vampires. Especially a hot elder vampire. But without any other jobs coming up, I’m stuck. As I uncover a web of lies and treachery, revealing an enemy I didn’t know existed, the truth of my identity is threatened. I might make it out alive, only to end up in a gilded cage.
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