Thursday, February 23, 2017

What's Your Story, Paul Revere?: Book Review


Series: “Cub Reporter Meets Famous Americans”
What’s Your Story, Paul Revere?
Author: Krystyna Poray Goddu
Illustrator:  Doug Jones

Publisher: Lerner Publications Company, 2016
Book Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl
Ages: 6 to 9, Nonfiction, Middle Grade
Pages: 32


Have fun imagining a live interview with an American patriot who fought in the American Revolutionary War. The series’ Cub Reporter, a cute bear cub holding a microphone, interviews Paul Revere. 

Asked what it was like living in America at the time, Paul Revere explains that the colonists were not free under British rule. Laws were oppressive and unfair, and the British had increased soldier surveillance. Even kids protested, calling the British soldiers in their red coats “lobsters.” 

Revere helped the colonists form the Sons of Liberty, a secret group that spied on British activity. He served as the group’s secret messenger, reporting conflicts and rebel activity, for instance, in 1773 when the colonists dumped a highly taxed shipment of tea into Boston’s harbor. In 1775, Revere’s midnight ride on horseback to Lexington, Massachusetts became legendary. He warned the colonists of imminent attack by the British. It was the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, which gave America its independence in 1776. 

Readers also learn about Revere’s life as a boy in Boston. He became a skilled silversmith and had talent as an artist. Live action illustrations in color of the Boston Massacre and Boston’s harbor with British ships arriving are two such scenes by Revere highlighted. Glossary, Timeline, Further Information, and Index are included as well. This is a good series for young historians interested in American history and Paul Revere's role in the American Revolution, and a great review for interested parents, teachers, and mentors.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Classics - Opening Lines: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell


"The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it. Some shady trees leaned over it, and rushes and water-lilies grew at the deep end. Over the hedge on one side we looked into a plowed field, and on the other we looked over a gate at our master's house, which stood by the roadside;" 

(Published 1877) 

I love the classics and plan to share more "opening lines" over the coming months. Comment if you like, or read for inspiration. Writing styles were different then, but were they really? 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Exposed Once Again

(Video no longer available of Kutcher's speech; more can be learned at "Thorn" Website)

I have new respect for Ashton Kutcher as an actor who up till now I had only seen in a comedic light, but now see as a brave crusader for human rights. Bravo! Let's end modern slavery in our lifetime. Let's fight with our words and actions, and not turn a blind eye to this terrible evil that lives on in our modern age. Fight for the innocent lives that are forever changed and scarred, but with tender counseling and love can be rescued. Fight! Human trafficking is a topic I have strong feelings about and address in my new novel, The Shells of Mersing, the story of a girl and her brother who suffer the consequences of a crime committed against their mother when sold in her youth. Consider this a promotion of my book, if you must. Fictional characters, yes, but based on what is happening to unprotected youth in foster care and elsewhere today. Consider too where you stand on this topic. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!!

I grabbed some old valentines from days past with my kids and made this cute collage. 
I like recycling the old and seeing what I can do. It's especially fun to do while shopping in 
an antique store. So many ideas to be had from people long departed and history to be learned. 
It's my way of conserving and I suppose it's a reaction to growing up with parents who 
went through the Great Depression. 
Hard lessons recycled? 


Special wishes for a nice Valentine's Day with your sweetie (s). 

I have not blogged much since taking a blog vacation last May, so wanted to say "HELLO" again to everyone. 

I continue to write, but at a much slower pace. Too many tempting diversions in retirement, but I'm not depressed about this at all, just thankful that life continues to be rich and good. Now the gardening season is approaching and I can't wait to see what hubby and I can do. There is the A-Z coming up as well, and I have considered using it to research a period of history (the year 1939), so you may see me again. I do love history as some of you know.

My novel has been submitted, and currently sits with four publishers, so happy to finally have it out there. I'm researching two more and concentrating on outlining a third. I made the mistake of not outlining my first novel in great detail. I had a synopsis and a brief outline, but as the story grew I found myself buried in subplots and threads that led to nowhere. It took a long time to clean up. I'm taking the advice of another writer (I don't remember their name) who advised not to overlook a detailed outline. If I think I'm done, go back and take another look, they advised. It's a process I admit I do not enjoy. I'd rather be writing the story or editing (my favorite). 

Would love to hear how you are doing too. 
~Sharon

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude: Book Review

 
The May Queen Murders
Author: Sarah Jude

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016
Age: 12 up, Young Adult
Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl
Pages: 288




Sixteen-year-old Ivy Templeton knows Rowan’s Glen all too well. She has lived in the Missouri Ozarks among the hill folk her entire life. In Rowan's Glen, the girls wear long skirts, the boys wear trousers and suspenders. At school they are outcasts, considered a cult, but truth be told, superstition permeates their very culture and way of life. 

Ivy and the other girls in the Glen wear red bracelets to ward off evil. A scissor falling on the floor is a bad sign or a clock stopping at four forty-four, a death omen, and Ivy has witnessed both lately. Frightening dreams foretell something dreadful. When Ivy sees a “shadow self,” another death omen, she realizes the shadow belongs to Heather, her cousin and best friend. 

Heather has been drifting away lately and Ivy wonders if she has a secret boyfriend, but why then is she being so secretive? Heather wanders off at night and everyone in the Glen knows it isn’t safe to be alone at night. Ivy fears for Heather's life, especially now that she's been elected as the new May Queen at school. Years ago, before Ivy was born, someone murdered a May Queen. 

Most believe she was murdered by Birch Markle, a mentally deranged local who disappeared into the woods after the murder never to be seen again. It's the main reason the hill folk avoid the woods today. Most belief he's still there hiding out somewhere. Screams are common in the woods at night, and lately animals have been showing up dead, killed by human hands the authorities claim. 

Ivy seeks comfort in the arms of Rook, a boy she has long known and loved. A romance grows, but fate is against them from the start. As they unravel the mystery of 'what's happening to Heather' they uncover a murder that seemingly had nothing to do with Birch Markle at all, but everything to do with Rook’s father. A string of murders follows to cover up the crime, including the shocking murder of Heather. She apparently knew too much. 

Fair warning, this is a dark story. There is a particularly gruesome, bloody chapter at the end that sends readers on a horrific “slash and cut” roller coaster. It's not even clear if Rook and Ivy will survive the grisly ordeal, and you find yourself bracing for the worst, but I won't spoil the ending for you. Needless to the say, the surviving characters are forever haunted when the dust settles.