Book Reviews Combined

Hello all,

Just a brief heads up that my book reviews have been moved to the tab titled, “Book Reviews,” here on my blog so that they will all be in one spot. Still many more to come!

As always,

Happy Writing!


Epic Music Ready to Be Discovered

This is playlist with a fabulous song titled, “Chronicles of a Hero” from my favorite performers, Two Steps from Hell. This playlist has 76 songs, but “Chronicles,” has very little views in comparison to TSFH’s other songs. Totally worth checking out; great, great score.

Book Cover Design

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So I found Cover Mint. They design book covers just like Damonza does, only, they’re a lot more affordable. They do e-book covers, as well as print covers with wraps. Not only will they do custom designs for you, but they also offer pre-made covers that look really nice, as well. If my current design fails, I will be coming to them for sure.

#bookcovers #bookdesign #selfpublishing

Book Review 10: Persepolis

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Doust thou likest graphic novels? En esta es para tu. Okay, so I never did get that Spanish degree…. not that this has anything to do with Spanish.

Image result for persepolis by marjane satrapi

Summary: Marji is a very young girl learning about the terror, rebels, and leadership that affects their political system. Her entire life is focused on her relationship with God and being a prophet. As she grows, she struggles to understand why people believe so strongly in someone only to change their minds. She tries to understand the distinct differences in revenge and forgiveness. Her everyday life is full of stories about men going to prison for their beliefs. This affects not only her growing beliefs and thoughts on how and what to believe, as well as how she interacts with others. As her life continues to change and she is introduced to more violence, her relationship with God slowly begins to change.

Reflection: I’m not really a fan of this book. The reason for that is simply that I wasn’t engaged. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not an important book. This book does a good job of teaching others about a life that is vastly different than their own. It also does a good job in teaching empathy to others. I like it for that. I think it’s important to have educational books available to us and that memoirs do an exceptional job at teaching us.

Age group: I think high school students would be most appreciative of the book, while younger one’s might read it due to the variety of images which tell a story in themselves.

Here is an interesting article conducted by Emma Watson (former Hermione on Harry Potter).

Here is a review you might find interesting, as well.

Book Review 9: “A Great and Terrible Beauty”

Image result for a great and terrible beauty

Summary: “A Great and Terrible Beauty” by Libba Bray: Out of the books I have read so far, I think I enjoyed this one the most. This is probably because it is more fantastical/paranormal than the others. So here goes: Our main character, Gemma, lives in a time many many years before ours (1895) and has started having visions. Her very first vision comes just before her mother commits suicide. Thereafter, Gemma is forced to go to a type of boarding school where they are trained to be real ladies suited for marriage. Here, Gemma meets Pipper, as well as other girls who make a tight inner circle. Together, they learn about Mary, a girl from the past, who had a very dark secret. Gemma continues to have her visions, and soon finds that they link her to another world full of power and danger.

Reflection: This book did not properly end. I suppose that’s why there are two other books. It stopped 2/3rds through with a rushed book-mark-type of ending. For this reason, even though that is not cool, I’d like to read the other two to see how the story is resolved. I enjoyed the dynamics between the girls and their competitiveness to be in the “in-crowd.” I also enjoyed the roundness of the characters; they weren’t flat. There is a very down-to-earth teacher in the story who reminds me of that one person destined to positively impact a student’s life, as well as Gemma’s occasional note about the role of women that was interesting. Lastly, I absolutely enjoyed the audio version of this as the one reading made the dialect and tone completely come alive. It was gorgeous.

Ages: Middle school and high school library. I think both groups of students would enjoy it, but that it does lend itself towards high school a bit more in the fact that the characters is a bit older and readying for marriage.

What lasts: This is a timeless story that transcends through the ages; it is relateable and you genuinely begin to feel for each character. I will continue to look for these kind of stories – one’s that relate and that reflect the inner desires of the young, as well as societal boundaries put upon them.

Stars 4.5 out of 5.

Here is her FAQ page that looks highly entertaining as well as informative.

#amreading #libbabray #books #ya

Book Review 8: “Liar and Spy”


Summary: “Liar and Spy” is about two boys who become friends without even trying to. Georges (the characters have odd names) accidentally finds himself joining the spy club when they come across a poster with a time to sign up. There he meets Safer and his sister, and agrees to be his agent. Safer teaches him how to be a proper spy, and together, they keep close tabs on Mr. X. Meanwhile, Georges is being bullied at school. Through a series of near misses, Georges learns about a unique family who doesn’t ever go to school, as well as what it means to be brave and be a friend.

Reflection: This book was a little slow, but it was short. I like more fantastical books to keep me intrigued. However, it was still interesting. I liked how it addressed those who are different than us, as well as those who don’t always tell us the exact truth. It addressed bullying, but not to much extent. Georges learned how to stand up for himself, but I wasn’t completely convinced; really, he just got even. To a degree, it ended up focusing on forgiveness and giving people second chances. During the most climatic part of the book, it turns out that there was never any real danger – this was super disappointing, as it was one of the main things that kept me slightly engaged.

Ages: I’d recommend this for middle grade students. 10-14.

I didn’t look for figurative language, nor did it really stand out to me as it has in John Green’s book, “Paper Towns.”

The takeaway: This was a simple, semi-intense book about friendship. I’d recommend this for middle-aged kids due to this reason.

Stars: 2 out of 5.

#books #middlegradebooks #amreading

Post 12: Nonfiction & What I’m Reading



(The Creative Penn has great resources for authors.)

diverse shelves.jpgThe book, “How to Market a Book,”  is a great example of nonfiction for writers, both traditionally and self-published. “The World of Dinosaurs,” is another example that’s great for kids and adults alike. Personally, I love dinosaurs.

Here are some things to think about when writing and evaluating non-fiction:

  1. Are you an expert in the field; is the author? It’s important to really research and have up-to-date knowledge on the subject. For evaluating books, check the inside of the back of the book and their website.
  2. Have the facts been verified? That really ties in as to whether or not the author hasdone their research. Make sure you’re spilling the truth.
  3. What is the book about? Read the back and the inside flap to make sure it’s over what you’re really interested lest you waste your time, and make sure you’re providing direct information on your website and back-cover to accurately convey the primary information to be gleaned.
  4. Does the writer have any links with organizations that provide more information for further information, do you?
  5. Are there visuals? Do they have captions? Do they enhance the text? Visuals are both aesthetic and informational. Without them, you’re 99% likely to loose your readers. We need variety of format.

Since I’m not only a writer and am also going into the library profession, if you are a teacher or even a parent, here are 5 questions you might can ask your student’s/children: (Carter and Abrahamson)

  1. What would life be like if this were written 50 years earlier or later?
  2. What are your favorite pictures and illustrations?
  3. Would this book be a good documentary?
  4. What did the author have to do to research material for this book?
  5. What three questions would you ask the author?Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 4.55.01 PM.pngClick here to visit Book Riot, a great website for identifying 10 great works of non-fiction.

My main reading in the non-fiction arena is about gardening, the craft of writing, and self-publishing. However, as I continue to broaden my horizons and “Climb the Sacks” (great YoutTube vlog to check out), I will keep an eye out for educational books to share with children, teens, young adults, and adults, will checking for illustrations, authenticity, and relatedness.

#nonfiction #yabooks #teenbooks

Also, What am I Reading?

Currently, I am reading (or listening through Audible, actually) “Liar and Spy” by Rebecca Stead of which I will be giving a book review on sometime soon. So make sure to stay tuned for that.


Post 14 & 15: Reflecting on a Novel – Steps/Graphic Novels – the Benefits.

Reflecting on a Novel – 10 Stepsdownload-3.jpg

If you’re anything like me, reading outside is a great place to pause and reflect. Want 10 questions to probe deeper thinking about that novel? Consider these:

  1. What if the main character was a boy instead of a girl, or vice versa?
  2. What if this story had a different setting? What if it were to happen in a different town or time?
  3. If this book were a movie, would it have color? What tones would it have?
  4. If the author could’ve dropped the axe on any character, who would it have been, and why?
  5. Can you identify with the main character? How do you both differ?
  6. Could this story be turned into a movie or tv series? If so, why, or why not?
  7. Has anything in the story, from comments to events, ever happened to you?
  8. What is it about the first paragraph that led you to keep reading? If it was boring, why’d you keep going?
  9. If you were to design the cover of this book, or even give input to the designer, what would it incorporate?
  10. If you only read the title, what would the book mostly likely be about? Later, rereading the title, was it a good choice? Did it convey the overall book?

Thinking about some of the above questions can help to really analyze yourself in relation to a book, as well a show others have already related to the book. We can sometimes enjoy a story at a much deeper level when we look past the surface. Not only that, but almost anyone can ask themselves these questions. These questions were originally derived from Richard Peck (1978).

The only step I don’t really care for is number 3, but I really like question 1 and 10. Some of these steps I already think about when I read, but I would like to incorporate number 4 a bit more for curiosity’s sake.

Graphic Novels – The Benefits


First, what are they? The above graphic explains the elements of a graphic novel and the one below shows more basic elements:Scan.jpeg

This picture is from the graphic novel of Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. It just goes to show that not all graphic novels are like the ones in comic books. This art is more aesthetic and just gorgeous. Benefit 1: Graphic novels are great for the more visual learners. Benefit 2: They also show more than a text can sometimes convey, giving a work more creativity and life.


I just love these funny graphics, even though they’re not in novel format:

funny-comics-show-the-problems-women-face-everyday-5.jpgand images-1.jpg and images-3.jpgand images-2.jpg

The benefit (3) of these graphics is that they are very relatable. We can relate to what the author is trying to convey much more easily than if they were just going to say, “I feel like a model with red lipstick, but I really just look like I got a busted lip.”

For those more visual learners, and for those who are intimidated by large volumes of words, a graphic novel can seem much more manageable, benefit 4.

They can also portray historical events and inventions that would otherwise be unfamiliar and/or hard to visualize, benefit 5.

The 6 benefit is that an author can get very creative in how they express themselves.

Personally, I look forward to reading graphic novels for a more aesthetic experience as well as a quick, satisfying read. I also look forward to seeing how others illustrate the author’s words and what images they imagine. Lastly, I look forward to seeing reluctant readers pick up these books and enjoying them, as it teaches them words they otherwise wouldn’t have read, as well as encourages them to read more and more on their own.

Graphic novels are enjoyable for all ages.


How cool is that: A Coraline graphic novel. Here is a really neat website with many graphic novels to pick out for YA readers.

#ya #graphicnovels #amreading

Book Review 7: Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


Summary: Arnold, aka, Junior, is the main character in “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie. Junior lives on a reservation and has one good friend named Rowdy. Junior and Rowdy play together a lot but often suffer from poverty, sickness, and alcoholism. Realizing that he isn’t going to become anyone unless he leaves the reservations school, he decides to move to an all white school. Meanwhile, he has to live with a friend and family who resent his actions. He also has to navigate through tragedies while becoming a really good basketball player.

Reflection: It was a really open book and first person, which helps in portraying the emotions and inside mind of a teenager. While there were many deep and controversial issues and it has been a banned book, it is a book that can help others pull themselves up out of the many things that bring them down in their own life.

Pros and cons: It portrays real-life issues that have been overlooked (+). I can’t really think of any negatives. I really always enjoy illustrations in books.

Intended audience: middle school and high school libraries. Ages: 14-18.

#bookreviews #ala #ya

Book Review 6: “Winger”


Summary: Winger, by Andrew Smith, is about a young boy (really young for his grade) who is a junior and just fourteen. He’s in love with his best friend, Annie, who thinks he’s adorable. At the same time, as if that isn’t rough enough, he is moved to o-hall where the “bad” kids have to stay. Mind you, this isn’t the average high-school, but a school for rich kids. The worse part about staying in o-hall? Rooming with Chas Becker, bully extraordinaire. In short, Winger has to pull off staying alive in o-hall, learning how to be friends with a gay guy, and winning the heart of Annie. With rugby as a key sport and illustrations to support Winger’s thoughts, the book is both full of action and hilarity (I laughed out loud more than I ever had while reading a book). I really enjoyed this book. As always, I didn’t care for the cussing. The end was a bit sad, but it’s one of those things that made Winger grow as a character. In all, I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Pros: Realistic, well-rounded, funny, serious, entertaining and educating.

Cons: cursing (not everyone has succumbed) and…

Intended audience: middle school and high school libraries. For ages 14-18.

Reflection: I enjoyed this book. Not at first, though. I’m a picky reader, and at first I was super reluctant to read it. I even went so far as to try to find another book by the same author… none of them looked appealing. Sooo, I read it. The main reason I was reluctant was because it was in a guy’s perspective and sporty. Not what I generally read. Turns out, as I mentioned, it was well-rounded. It really depicted the sexual desires of a young boy, as well as the peer pressure inflicted upon those considered “weak.” In the end, I grew to admire Winger. In the future, when I read YA or teen books with boy protagonists, I will be on the lookout for the varying experiences the author presents and reflect on how well that depicts our youth today.

#teenfiction #yabooks #amreading #bookreviews

Post 11 and 13: Realistic Fiction VS. Fantasy and SciFi


Realistic Fiction

Do you read realistic fiction? I do. I read a lot of things, actually. But if you would like to know the inside scoop as to what falls under realistic fiction, keep reading:

Realistic fiction deals with day-to-day events that are universal to all people. While cultures and the way of life may be different from person to person, it is all realistic (based on reality). Things like the way teens talk, to the reflection of a school day, etc, are all normal. Normal issues are the key areas of conflict in YA books.

Themes emerge naturally based off of these conflicts. Puberty, sex, friends, etc, are all things that happen naturally in a person’s life, and these issues naturally become the themes of the books. There is usually one main theme with one or two other smaller themes in the same piece of writing. For example, in my upcoming novel, “The Thread that Keeps Me,” Jesse has to deal with poverty while taking on a sexual relationship and the role of mother to her little sister. The main theme is poverty but the other two themes tie in with it.

The book RELATES to the reader. That’s the biggest key. While it may not relate directly (as we do not all experience the same things,) readers know enough about the situation to develop empathy as they read. They can also relate it to similar experiences in their lives. Various topics, as mentioned before, are addressed, such as: death, love, sex, family and family changes as well as body images.



Fantasy and SciFi

Fantasy is my number one favorite. Here are the essential elements of fantasy and sci-fi that you need to keep in mind when writing:

As long as it cannot really happen, it’s usually fantasy. In other words, unfortunately, we cannot fly on brooms. We cannot truly cast spells, or live in space – that would all fall under “violating the laws of physical reality” (Perry). For example, animals cannot talk back to humans. Animals cannot drive boats. Humans cannot read other’s minds (though I wish I could).

Sci-fi (science fiction) fits in the realm of fantasy, but not all fantasy is sci-fi.

Even though the story falls under fantasy, the story and world still must be established and developed in such a way that it is believable. Are there rules? It has to be solid and consistent so that there are no holes. The characters must also be believable and relatable. Are they searching for friends? Are they trying to survive some kind of even the way we allegorically try to survive certain issues in our lives? Is your writing believable enough that readers can get past the parts that are impossible? Do you make it seem as though it could really happen? If so, good. Are you still tying in themes that underly children or young adults? Remember, doing so helps your readers care about your characters and story more than any plot ever would.

These are things that I know fairly well as a writer and that I am continually mindful about as I write. As I read I will be evaluating the books as to what category they fall under. Sometimes books blend, as kind of mentioned before. Keeping mind of these elements will be really helpful when recommending books to picky readers!

Hope that helps!

#yabooks #childrensbooks #fantasy #sci-fi #writing #writinglife

Publication Update + Excerpt


As some of you know, I have been in the process of self-publishing Forces and the Malachite Stone, a middle grade fantasy. I recently published it on Amazon but, deep down, loathed the cover I had made. Plus, believe it or not, found some editing errors (after several read throughs); that just wasn’t acceptable, so I quickly pulled it.

I am currently working on a better cover and going through more edits. This will take some time, but I am doing my best to deliver quality work. One of the things with self-publishing is that you have the power over every aspect. And, unfortunately, that means it can take quite a while to get things accomplished. To get past this, however, I am just relishing my book-baby and enjoying going through it again.

Don’t let the process get you down. Just keep enjoying it, knowing you’re making it the best it can be. Enjoy spending time with it while you can. Okay, that’s all for now.

Happy writing!

Forces excerpt: Prologue

A dark figure sprinted through the woods, his foot tearing through vines as he ran from the creatures chasing him. The sky thundered overhead and he gave a silent plea, willing the rain to come.

He clutched a torn piece of paper in his right hand, balling it up into the confines of his fist as pellets of rain started to dance on his head. He hoped this would help the snakes lose his scent.


#yabooks #selfpublishing

Happy People – Happy Writers


Did you know that you’re more likely to write, and enjoy writing, if you’re happy? That’s right. Let’s face it, with work and people, being happy isn’t always the first state-of-mind we’re in. It doesn’t help coming home to a messy house, either. Well, you may not be able to control everything in your life, but here are two things you can do:

Read – That’s right, and I don’t just mean at home. Did you ever read when you were a kid to escape? Well, bring that same principle into your life even now. Keep a book with you at all times. If you can snatch a few lines here and there, then by all means, do it. If you slowly work around your book (then work won’t seem quite so… workish; you’ll be reading a book 2 minutes here, 5 there, and 30 for lunch, etc…) and while you’re still being productive, you’ll be surprised just how much reading you can get done. Believe me, your day will feel a lot more subdued (and if you’re in a stressful environment, this is a good thing).


Clean – Yep, just do it. Clean that house. If you spend a good weekend, or week, (whatever it takes) to whip that place you call home into shape, then do it. Forfeit the fun weekend and get things decluttered and put up. My motto: Everything has a place, everything is in it’s place – then clean it. Maintain this all of the time by doing little “sweeps” at the end of the day before going to bed; is there anything you left out that needs to be put up? Put it up. By keeping a clean atmosphere, coming home will be a delight. It’ll be relaxing and you’ll have free time to write because you’re not in a messy environment; Clean house, clean mind. 01 home office.jpg