Monday, August 3, 2015

Books in the Classroom with Yvonne: Luna Luna by Sam Ryan

Luna Luna
By: Sam Ryan

Love…Love…Love this book! Luna Luna is my new mentor text for teaching small moment personal narrative writing. The message of never giving up is dominate throughout the book. Roshi is a little boy on a mission (with an unknown friend if the reader reads the illustrations closely) to capture the moon. His perseverance and problem-solving has every reader cheering him on. The surprise ending is sure to leave you adoring Roshi even more.
When teaching reading this book can be used for:

  • Envisioning
  • Predicting
  • Character traits
  •  Vocabulary development (beckoned, gurgled, trickling, plunged, etc.)
When teaching students how to develop and enhance small moment personal narrative stories use this book for:
  • Planning a small moment story with a beginning, middle and end
  • Adding voice without using dialogue
  • Producing an effect by using punctuation (… , --)
  • Repeated word usage for dramatic effect
  • Adjectives to help with envisioning (ie. twisted stump)
  • Word endings (-ly, -ed, -ing) 
  • Verb usage (see above)

Finally the page layout is a perfect example for students to follow when writing and creating their own stories. The water colored illustrations are wonderful for showcasing the moon and nighttime. This is definitely a book that every teacher of personal narrative writing should have in their classroom. 5 stars.

Amy's Review: The Sisters Club by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

The Sisters Club

Four women have little in common other than where they live and the joyous complications of having sisters. Cindy waits for her own life to begin as she sees her sister going in and out of hospitals. Lise has made the boldest move of her life, even as her sister spends every day putting herself at risk to improve the lives of others. Diana is an ocean apart from her sister, but worries that her marriage is the relationship separated by the most distance. Sylvia has lost her twin sister to breast cancer, a disease that runs in the family, and fears that she will die without having ever really lived.

When Diana places an ad in the local newsletter, Cindy, Lise, and Sylvia show up thinking they are joining a book club, but what they discover is something far deeper and more profound than any of them ever imagined.

With wit, charm, and pathos, this mesmerizing tale of sisters, both born and built, enthralls on every page.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Lauren grew up in Monroe, CT, where her father owned a drugstore at which her mother was the pharmacist. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where she majored in psychology. She also has what she calls her “half-Masters” in English from Western Connecticut State University (five courses down, another five to go…someday!).

Throughout college, she worked semester breaks as a doughnut salesperson, a job that she swears gave her white lung disease from all the powdered sugar she breathed.

Upon graduation, she began work at the venerable independent spacebookseller, now sadly defunct as such, Klein’s of Westport. There, she bought and sold for the better part of 11 years.

In November 1994, Lauren left the bookstore to finally take a chance on herself as a writer. Success did not happen over night. Between 1994 and May 2002 – when Red Dress Ink called with an offer to buy THE THIN PINK LINE – Lauren worked as a book reviewer, a freelance editor and writer, and a window washer, making her arguably the only woman in the world who has ever both hosted a book signing party and washed the windows of the late best-selling novelist Robert Ludlum.

Since Red Dress Ink’s call in 2002, Lauren has been kept very busy with writing more novels and checking her Amazon ranking on a daily basis. She still lives in Danbury, with her husband and daughter, where she has lived since 1991.

In addition to writing, Lauren’s daughter keeps her busy, accounting for the rest of her time.

Lauren’s favorite color is green.

Lauren’s favorite non-cat animals are penguins.

Lauren wants you to know that, however you are pronouncing her last name, you are probably pronouncing it wrong. 

Four women coming from all different walks of life brought together by an ad at the library for a bookclub.  This is a book about friendship and kindness.  Many laughs and many tears with these women.  I loved how each chapter started with the name of each “sister” either Cindy, Lise, Diana or Sylvia and listed what book they were each reading.  I was hooked when I started reading it and had a hard time putting it down.  I really liked how I felt I was part of the “club” as I was reading it. 
4 stars

Sunday, August 2, 2015

#MMBBR Showcase: A Thousand Miles to Freedom: My Escape from North Korea by Eunsun Kim, Sébastien Falletti, David Tian (Translation)


Eunsun Kim was born in North Korea, one of the most secretive and oppressive countries in the modern world. As a child Eunsun loved her country…despite her school field trips to public executions, daily self-criticism sessions, and the increasing gnaw of hunger as the country-wide famine escalated.

By the time she was eleven years old, Eunsun's father and grandparents had died of starvation, and Eunsun too was in danger of starving. Finally, her mother decided to escape North Korea with Eunsun and her sister, not knowing that they were embarking on a journey that would take them nine long years to complete. Before finally reaching South Korea and freedom, Eunsun and her family would live homeless, fall into the hands of Chinese human traffickers, survive a North Korean labor camp, and cross the deserts of Mongolia on foot.

Now, in A Thousand Miles to Freedom, Eunsun is sharing her remarkable story to give voice to the tens of millions of North Koreans still suffering in silence. Told with grace and courage, her memoir is a riveting exposé of North Korea's totalitarian regime and, ultimately, a testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Blitz via Chick Lit Plus: Starstruck by Ruby Preston

With her Broadway opening night a few weeks away savvy young producer, Scarlett Savoy, is finally ready for her brand new musical to take center stage. Only two major things stand in her way - the beautiful but mercurial Hollywood diva she's cast in the lead and a handsome familiar face from her past who flies back into her life. From high stakes rehearsal rooms, to paparazzi fueled scandals, to the star-studded red carpet of opening night, Starstruck is a page-turning journey behind the scenes of Broadway, all set against the glittering back drop of Manhattan. Will Scarlett make it to opening night before the curtain falls on her dreams?


Scarlett blinked as a camera flash made her momentarily lose her train of thought. She paused to collect herself. Her heart raced as if urging her feet to follow suit. She could feel all eyes on her as sweat pricked her brow. She prayed that her panic at having the lens of every major theater news outlet aimed in her direction didn’t show.

She pasted her most professional smile on her face and continued, “As I was saying, thank you all for joining us today as we kick off rehearsals for Broadway’s newest original musical, Swan Song. It is my great pleasure to introduce you to a familiar Broadway face, our director, Kyle Jared.”

She gestured to Kyle with a “please save me” glance as he stepped blithely in front of the gaggle of reporters and photographers in the crowded rehearsal studio. Scarlett sagged against the wall amid the cast members at the side of the room, waiting for her pulse to slow. She knew she was being ridiculous. Of all the challenges she had faced so far while producing her first Broadway show, talking to the press shouldn’t have felt like such an ordeal.

Scarlett had attended the traditional Broadway “Media Day” meet and greets many times, back when she was a Broadway assistant. This time was different and her stage fright had caught her off guard. Introducing Swan Song to Broadway somehow brought home the fact that she was “all in” on this show.

“You did good, kid,” Lawrence whispered in her ear. “You sounded like a pro.” Lawrence was the show’s major investor and often her guardian angel. She reached out and squeezed his hand. In a tailored suit with not a single silver hair out of place, he looked every bit a Broadway moneyman.

“I’m a producer — I thought that meant I could avoid the spotlight,” Scarlett whispered back.

“Well, you’d better get used to the attention. A beautiful, young Broadway producer with a hot show. Sounds like front page news to me.” Lawrence leaned down and kissed her cheek quickly.

Scarlett shot a proud smile up at Lawrence, just in time to catch Bliss Hadley, Swan Song’s leading lady and Hollywood darling, glaring in their direction. Lawrence caught Bliss’s look as well.

“That’s my cue,” Lawrence said, winking at Scarlett.

“Don’t go,” Scarlett pleaded in a whisper. “I need you here.”

“You’ll be fine. You’ve got this. I’ll just…” He glanced at Bliss, who was still glaring. “I’d just be in the way. Break a leg!” And with that, he took his leave. Scarlett sighed. First rehearsal and the backstage drama was already in full force.

Bliss’s “casual” rehearsal clothes perfectly complemented her designer figure. Her platinum hair, à la Marilyn Monroe, was immaculate. Stylist: Check!

When it came to press, Bliss, at twenty-six, was already a master. Did they teach classes to movie stars on the art of not blinking? Even as Scarlett laughed to herself at the absurdity of that, she realized she probably wasn’t that far off. Scarlett eyed the cameras again warily. In a few minutes she’d have to face the media again. This time in a receiving line set-up: three-minute interviews, one by one, with every theater website, newspaper, and blogger with a press pass.

She suddenly wished she’d asked the show’s publicist, Karen, for more tips on how to survive these press onslaughts. Thinking of her conversation with Karen just moments before the event got her mind racing again.

“My assistant got a call from Bliss’s personal press agent. You’ll need to jump on that. Hollywood stars and their people are a necessary evil these days.” Karen had told her, sounding disgusted at the mention of her Hollywood counterparts. “I can’t have some Hollywood know-it-all thinking they know how Broadway press works, which they never do, and getting in the way. I need you to run a little interference. Get a sense from Bliss’s publicist of any issues that Bliss may have, any special needs or landmines.”

“Landmines?” Scarlett had asked, wondering where this new task was going to fit into her already overwhelming to-do list.

“Secret drug problems, anger management, sex scandal cover-ups, you know, anything that could come to light and be a distraction for us along the way. See what you can get out of him. Here’s his number.” She reached into the pocket of her crisp navy blazer and handed Scarlett a phone message slip.

Scarlett glanced down at the name scrawled on the paper and the LA phone number.

Her heart skipped a beat.

Ruby Preston is a young Broadway producer currently working on several new musicals on the Great White Way. She couldn't be more thrilled to be living her dreams in the Times Square trenches of Manhattan. Starstruck is her third novel and includes many of the characters introduced in her previous books, Showbiz and Staged.



More by Ruby:



July 27 - Poof Books- Review

July 27 - Mrs. Mommy Booknerd Book Reviews – Excerpt

July 28 - Novel Escapes  - Q&A

July 28 - Fiction Dreams – Q&A

July 29 - Polished & Bubbly – Review

July 30 - Books and Ladders- Review & Q&A

August 3 - Sanaa’s Book Blog- Review & Excerpt

August 3 - Girls Love Pink Books – Review

August 5 - Ashley Book Blog – Review

August 6 - Living Life With Joy – Review & Ecerpt

August 7 - Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt

August 7 - Basically Book Blog – Review

August 10 - Two Children and a Migraine – Review    

Sunday, July 26, 2015

#MMBBR Review: The S Word: A Memoir About Secrets by Paolina Milana


In accordance with her Sicilian Catholic family’s unspoken code, Paolina Milana learned at an early age to keep her secrets locked away where no one could find them. Nobody outside the family needed to know about the voices her Mamma battled in her head; or about how Paolina forged her birth certificate at thirteen so she could get a job at The Donut Shop; or about the police officer twenty-six years her senior whose promise to her Papà to “keep an eye on her” quickly translated into something sinister. And perhaps that’s why no one saw it coming when—on the eve of her sweet sixteen, pushed to edge—Paolina attempted to take her own mother’s life. 

Raw and compelling, The S Word is the true story of a girl who nearly suffocates in the silence she was taught to value above all else—until she finally finds the strength to break free of the secrets binding her and save herself.

About the Author

An image posted by the author.
For a long time, Paolina has told other people’s stories: first as a journalist; then as a PR pro for a nonprofit; then as a storyteller of students for a university; and most recently as a content marketer for the unsung heroes of small business. She has won awards for her fiction pieces and screenplays. The S-Word is her first full-length book.

A story of self discovery and bravery that follows a woman as she fights against what she was taught to forge the life she deserved to live!  Powerful and packed with emotion the S Word is a read I will not soon forget.  4 stars

Saturday, July 25, 2015

#MMBBR A Different Kind of Same: A Memoir by Kelley Clink


Two weeks before his college graduation, Kelley Clink’s younger brother Matt hanged himself. Though he’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a teenager and had attempted suicide once before, the news came as a shock—and it sent Kelley into a spiral of guilt and grief.

After Matt’s death, a chasm opened between the brother Kelley had known and the brother she’d buried. She kept telling herself she couldn’t understand why he’d done it—but the truth was, she could. Several years before he’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she’d been diagnosed with depression. Several years before he first attempted suicide by overdose, she had attempted suicide by overdose. She’d blazed the trail he’d followed. If he couldn’t make it, what hope was there for her?

A Different Kind of Same traces Kelley’s journey through grief, her investigation into the role her own depression played in her brother’s death, and, ultimately, her path toward acceptance, forgiveness, resilience, and love.

Kelley Clink

Kelley Clink is an advocate for suicide prevention and mental health. She has degrees in literature from the University of Alabama and DePaul University. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, including Gettysburg Review, Colorado Review, Woman's Day, and The Huffington Post. She is the winner of the 2014 Beacon Street Prize in Nonfiction and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She lives near Chicago with her husband and son.

Wow....what an honest and heart wrenching memoir about the impact of mental illness on the lives of many and the ultimate loss of life due to the struggle.  I love that Clink did not sugar coat the harsh reality of what it is like living with, dealing with and struggling with mental illness.  I am almost at a loss of words regarding this read.  It has so much truth and insight and I commend Clink for sharing it with the world.  I say this a lot when I read memoirs, that is takes such bravery to share it in an attempt to help others.  To expose yourself in your rawest form for the world to judge.  I feel that this memoir will help so many people dealing with mental know they are not alone...that there can be hope among the sadness.  5 stars

Friday, July 24, 2015

#MMBBR Review: Fire Season: A Memoir by Hollye Dexter


Who would you be if you lost everything?

Hollye Dexter and her husband Troy woke one night to find their house ablaze. To escape the fire, they had to jump from their second-story window with their toddler son—and then watch their house and home-based businesses burn to the ground. Over the next two years, the family went bankrupt, lost their cars and another home, and got dropped by their best friends. As the outer layers of her life were stripped away, Dexter began to unravel emotionally; but then she found herself on the brink of losing her marriage, and she realized that if she was going to save her family, she would have to pull herself back together somehow.

As she fought to reassemble the pieces of the life she’d had, Dexter discovered that a shattered heart has the ability to regenerate in a mighty way; that even in the midst of disaster, you can find your place; and that when everything you identify with is gone, you are free to discover who you really are. Poignant and inspiring, Fire Season is a story for anyone who has ever lost hope—and found it again.

Hollye Dexter is author of the memoir Fire Season (She Writes Press, 2015) and co-editor of Dancing at the Shame Prom (Seal Press)-- praised by bestselling author Gloria Feldt (former CEO of Planned Parenthood) as “…a brilliant book that just might change your life.” Her essays and articles about women’s issues, activism and parenting have been published in anthologies as well as in Maria Shriver’s Architects of ChangeHuffington PostThe Feminist Wire and more. In 2003, she founded the award-winning nonprofit Art and Soul, running arts workshops for teenagers in the foster care system. She currently teaches writing workshops and works as an activist for gun violence prevention in L.A., where she lives with her husband and a houseful of kids and

When it comes to memoirs, I devour them!  I love reading about how people can overcome and conquer over tragedy.  I admire the bravery it takes for the writers to expose themselves in the darkest times in their lives so that others can learn from their tragedies.  Fire Season was one of those reads that both breaks your heart and one that is hard to put down.  It is raw and real and a story that forces the reader reconsider your own life, choices, friends and desire for belongings.  I applaud Dexter for sharing her story with the world and for showing us that it is with the spirit of love and redemption that good can come from sadness and we can triumph over tragedy!!!  5 stars

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