3 Middle Grade Recent New Releases: REVIEWED

Hey Everyone! It has been a long and hectic school year and I definitely let the ball drop on my blog (AGAIN…I KNOW!). However, it is now June and I’m hoping to get back into the groove of posting blogs, as well as the BookTube videos. So today, in an attempt to make do just that, I am bringing to you a quick review of THREE recent Middle Grade Releases. Each of these is now a couple of months old and definitely deserving of all the love…so let’s get in to them.

First up I want to talk to you about Sticky Notes by Dianne Touchell. This book debuted on February 20th and was published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers.
sticky notes

This book follows 10 year old Foster as he and his family deal with his father’s decent into Alzheimer’s. Fossie is used to his dad being a vibrant, story telling, suit wearer who loves his son and his dog. But then Dad starts forgetting the numbers that make up his job, and the supper that he’s got burning on the stove, and the dog.

This book takes a close look at the effect of the disease on those around the sufferer, namely the child who is confused and left to figure things out on his own (for the most part). I thought that Dianne Touchell did a wonderful job of handling this topic in a way that would appeal to readers of varying ages, from the early Middle Grade target age group to those of us who have had a smidgen more life experience. I give Sticky Notes a 3.5 out of 4 Dragons and you can find your own copy here.

The second book I want to bring to your attention is The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller.
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Published on March 6th by Random House Books for Young Readers this extraordinary debut novel takes a look at Hope and Love (and depression) through the eyes of a 7th grade girl writing in her science notebook. When Natalie’s teacher Mr. Neely tells the class that they must answer an important question using the scientific method, Natalie comes up with the question
How do you grow a miracle? and is determined to solve her mother’s depression with the answer. This book is poignant, humorous, and beautiful…and will make you experience a rainbow of emotions. I read this at the very beginning of March and still find myself idly thinking of the characters and story. This book gets 5 out of 4 dragons and you can go grab your own tear jerking copy here.

Finally, I want to talk to you about an entirely different type of novel. Emma Carrol’s Strange Star was published on March 20th by Delacorte Books for Young Readers and is a spine tingling middle grade thriller.

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This book begins at Lord Byron’s summer home where he and his guests, the Shelleys, are challenging each other to a ghost story tell-off…but as Mary Shelley is stuck for an idea, a knock on the door reveals that sometimes the truth is more frightening than any ghost story could be. Told as a tale of family, friendship, woe, redemption…and inspiration this was a quick moving and interesting read. While there were a few spots that pulled me out of the atmosphere of the story, I felt that it was over all well done and this thrilling, seat-of-your-pants book was one I read in one sitting. Ultimately, I gave 3.5 out of 4 dragons. If you’re looking for a little summer chill, grab your copy here.

I would love to hear about your favorite new releases, what you’ve been reading lately, and if you’ve read any of these three marvelous books! Until next time, may your days be blessed with books and love!

*I received these books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and rating are my own!*

Three More Picture Book Reviews

Hello everyone! While I’m busy writing, re-writing, reading, and trying to remember what I was actually SUPPOSED to be doing, I thought I would leave you fabulous people with a few quick reviews.

Most of you know that I have a little girl who is now 3 1/2 years old. She is beginning letter, number, and word recognitions and as a result we’ve managed to visit the library twice in the past week (maybe thrice) as we devoured about 18 children’s books that varied in length and type from picture books about animals to beginning readers on ballet, and even a middle grade super hero girls book!

I did video reviews for several of these, which can be found on my youtube channel (soon). However, I saved a trio of them just for you! So let’s get to the actual books, shall we? Why, yes we shall…

Let’s go from lowest to highest rating (according to the short person in charge):

First, with a rating a 5 stars for pages 1-5 and a rating of 2.5 stars for the rest of the book (we decided on a flat 3 star rating for Goodreads) is Stretch by Doreen Cronin and Scott Menchin

 

stretch

This book starts out wonderfully. The dog is stretching in yoga type positions and demonstrating those through the illustrations, allowing children to see those movements and move along with the story. HOWEVER, after the first few pages the movements don’t make much sense anymore and the illustrations don’t give the audience much to go on.

They talk about animals stretching to show their spots…and just shows a leopard sitting there etc. We really love the premise and idea behind this book…but the execution was not nearly as amazing in practice.

Next let’s discuss the middle starred, Cindy Ellen by Susan Lowell and Illustrated by Jane Manning.

Cindy ELlen

This book is awesome. Well written, surprisingly illustrated, and an all round voice of western FUN. However, the short person insists that it is a mere 4 star read BECAUSE it doesn’t have as much ’emotion’ in it (that’s her phrase right there. I’m in way over my head with this one guys!). Apparently the story leading up to the climax isn’t nearly as deep as the real Cinderella. It is still a wonderful read and we highly recommend it.

Finally, coming in with 5 stars for being fun, with a capitol F-U-N, and for being a somewhat differently formatted and completely different type of story, we have Open Very Carefull: A Book With Bite. Written by Nick Bromley and illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne this book starts out with the idea that it wants to tell us the story of The Ugly Duckling, but things quickly change as a crocodile makes his appearance and begins to unceremoniously make his way straight through. This is fun, funny, whimsical, and has a good deal o’ BITE, the perfect combination for giggles with the kid(s).

Thank you for stopping by and checking out these reviews! We went by the library in the middle of writing this post and now have 10 more to check out to see if they’re worth your time 😉

Until next time, please let us know some of your favorite children’s books! We can always add more to the TBR list!!

Raven Cycle

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There are some stories that you just know are going to irrevocably change you. Stories that you get into and realize, belatedly, that they are unmaking and remaking parts of your sense of self, your reader’s soul, and you will never be the same. I was about 1/3 of the way through listening to The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater when I was blasted with the realization that this was to be one of those books. I thought lightening probably wouldn’t strike twice, or at least not so sharply, and listened to Dream Thieves. Then I thought surely 3 times is too much to ask…Blue Lily, Lily Blue proved that thought a lie. So I bought the entire set. It wasn’t enough to listen to them, I had to have them in physical form on my shelf, within easy reach when I needed them… And Then The Raven King happened.

I don’t have the words or the emotional fortitude left to explain how it all worked on me. I can piece bits together…like the fact that when a certain someone speaks of being fully of the white fuzzy light, I felt it right along with them. When the fear and terrible hope for and because of a best friend lit through them all, I was there. Maggie’s writing drew me, a 31-year-old author and teacher, into the world of magic and high school so completely that I had to wrench myself back into reality with much more effort than it should ever have to take. At page 416, Chapter 65, of The Raven King I had to stop. I literally couldn’t take it anymore (in the best of ways) and HAD to go refill my coffee, take a potty break, check the laundry, and allow myself to sob uncontrollably for exactly 45 seconds. The things that we always knew would happen. That we learned of in the first chapter of the first book before any of us knew the characters that now inhabit our hearts and minds and souls…they hurt more for the fact that we can’t do anything but watch and ache with them. Like being the helpless bystander of a horrendous accident.

This book, this finale to a series much beloved, destroyed me, remade me, and then kicked my ass before telling me it loved me and stroking my hair as a cried and giggled. This devastated me in the best possible of ways. Maggie Stiefvater has said she may revisit this world when she’s lived another 20 or so years…I beg of you Maggie, don’t leave it that long.

Overarching Storyline for the Series – Is one of love, friendship, growth, discovery, and magic…always magic.

We spend 4 books in suspense, waiting to see if the first thing we’re told about two main characters will culminate into a truth that will destroy the lot of us, ripping our hearts out and stomping all over our emotions. We are not disappointed in any way. From the first book we are drawn in to Blue’s psychic family, we feel her frustration and distress at being an ‘amplifier’ with a terrible destiny…if she wants to ever date anyone, that is, and we are bowled over by her extremely intense beliefs. One such strong held belief is that the Raven Boys of Aglionby Academy are the worst sort…which is, of course, why her future revolves around and intertwines with that of 4 such boys. The different personalities, backstories, and paths of each character take the reader on a roller coaster across the The Raven Cycle and it is unlike any other, and well worth with the price of the ride.

I give this series 5 out of 5 dragons, 5 out of 5 stars, and all 4 sections of my heart…one for each of them.

Picture Book Reviews

Hello everyone! I thought that I would do a quick post today and give you some short reviews on Picture Books that we’ve been reading lately. I hope you enjoy them!

 

 moonflute One of the first things we noticed was that there are no illustrations on the end pages (my daughter is keen on them!) However, the book was beautiful enough that she now forgives them. Though this book is an older picture book, both in publication date (1980) and intended audience (probably k-2) we had a lot of fun looking at the illustrations and reading the story together. The story line is a bit of nonsense, but very well written and beautifully dreamlike. I definitely suggest this to anyone Moonflute

Written by Audrey Wood and Illustrates by Don Wood

 

One of the first things we noticed was that there are no illustrations on the end pages (my daughter is keen on them!) However, the book was beautiful enough that she now forgives them. Though this book is an older picture book, both in publication date (1980) and intended audience (probably k-2) we had a lot of fun looking at the illustrations and reading the story together. The story line is a bit of nonsense, but very well written and beautifully dreamlike. I definitely suggest this to anyone with children that are old enough to appreciate and enjoy a good story and good illustrations, and to kids who are musical or don’t sleep easily.

 

I Wish I Had…

Written by Giovanna Zoboli and Illustrated by Simona Mulazzani

Very cute picture book. The Illustrations are adorable and each page highlights one animal and one of the highlighted animal’s special skills. While this isn’t a fact filled non-fiction to get kids really understanding different animals, it is great to show diversity and interesting factoids to younger children. My animal adoring 3 yr old loved it.

i wish i had

Night Animals

Written and Illustrated by Gianna Marino

night animals This is a very cute little book with amazing art work and an adorable little story. Though the story is told more through observation than through words, the images and speech bubbles work together quite well. The one problem we had with this book, though, is that there is not a story other than the speech bubbles. My daughter likes short blocks of text and wasn’t too sure about this format! However, it was an adorable book and I really liked that it showed us a possum instead of a raccoon to be This is a very cute little book with amazing art work and an adorable little story. Though the story is told more through observation than through words, the images and speech bubbles work together quite well. The one problem we had with this book, though, is that there is not a story other than the speech bubbles. My daughter likes short blocks of text and wasn’t too sure about this format! However, it was an adorable book and I really liked that it showed us a possum instead of a raccoon to begin with (no raccoon ever showed up actually) because my daughter knows about many night animals but the possum was new to her, which worked itself into a great conversation

 

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel

Written by Kathryn Gibbs Davis and Illustrated by Gilbert Ford

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This is a picture book meant more for older children (Elementary aged, 2nd and 3rd grade most likely). The information within is a great mixture of facts and narrative combining with gorgeous artwork to provide the story of George Ferris and his State Fair attraction…The Monster Wheel! The book, and it’s amazingly gorgeous illustrations, begins with the Eiffel Tower from the World’s Fair in 1889.the main attraction of engineering’s accomplishments…and goes through the contest and building of the 1893 World Fair’s main attraction. We very much enjoyed this and my 3-year-old now knows the name of the man responsible for the big wheelie thing Mommy won’t ride. We not only recommend this to children, but to adults as well. In fact, we took it to show some teachers…who are adding it to their lesson plans for next year’s 3rd graders. Presentations will be made because this book provides a FUN learning experience.

Lulu and the Brontosaurus

Written by Judith Viorst and Illustrated by Lane Smith

 519uYsKgzCL._AC_US240_QL65_ This is an absolutely adorable little story! My 3 year old and I love to read children’s chapter books together and this one held her attention all the way through. She asked for repeats, pointed out pieces of the illustrations to me, and discussed proper manners etc with me as we progressed through this book with Lulu, a little girl who has no use for manners to begin with. This is a solid children’s read and I recommend it to ages 1-adult and back again.

 

Can I (An Author) Respond to Reviews?

Should Authors Respond to Reviews, EVER???

As I was scrolling through a certain social media site this morning, I ran across a posted article by BookRiot and entitled “Dear Authors: Don’t Respond to Goodreads Reviews.” Written by Brenna Clark Gray and originally published on July 10, 2015, this article discussed a certain author ‘going off’ on a reviewer. Using this as a basis for her opinion, Ms. Grey proceeded to conclude that authors should not respond to any reviews, good or bad, because even to say thank you is to intrude on the reviewers “reviewing space” which, apparently, could be compromised and their ability to write a completely honest review would fly out the window (I’m rephrasing here but I believe that was the basic gist of the paragraph.)

If you would like to read the article, click – here– to do so. I would also like to suggest that you go on to the Book Riot Facebook page – here – and find this post to read the comments. While a few seem horribly venomous and slightly under-educated about the idea, the comments really serve as a good cross-section of research for readers’ feelings on the subject.

The comments on that post were honestly what made me think more on this topic. The idea that an interaction with an author, no matter how respectful it is, could make someone uncomfortable is something I really had never thought of. As both an author and an avid reader, I’ve always nerded out at the littlest minute possibility that my writing heroes noticed my existence! But then again, I don’t believe that I ever told them they were stupid and uneducated, which some of the reviewers do on occasion.

So what answer have I come up with after pondering this question for a few hours? What has my reading and writing brain concluded? Well, in my semi-expert (in my own mind anyway) opinion: Go for it! Answer those reviews respectfully. But DO NOT ANSWER THEM IMMEDIATELY!

What I mean by this is not that you should look at an absolutely horrid 1-star review that gives no reasons for their loathing of your life’s work other than the idea that you were born without a brain and a chicken quite possibly transcribed your story, stew on it for a few hours, and then write a well worded, scathing, and absolutely equally horrid response insinuating that the reviewer is, in fact, living with the half brain donated by their family’s beloved pet donkey. No. That is, in fact, a very poor plan. Because however else I feel about Ms. Grey’s article, I 100% agree with the statement that no matter what the outcome, an author who responds in such a manner will be hurt by it.

Do NOT tell them how stupid they are. Someone who can’t spell basic words once reviewed a book of mine a trashed it. They claimed the book was rife with spelling and grammar mistakes and that it took away from the story. However, they rated it a 3 star and proceeded to state that they had bought the other two books and were currently reading the second (at the time). I wailed and went off about that for days. However, I did not respond (ok…I may have responded and then immediately deleted my response). That kind of back and forth will probably never do any good and even hollering about my degree in education, heavy on English and Music would only serve to make me look worse.

So what, then, do I mean? If we can’t respond to the uglies, what can we do? We can cry, scream, cuddle those stuffed animals saved from our childhood that we swear are only there to inspire our next great children’s book…and then we can move on to other reviews. The reviews that include reasons for the low rating, questions about areas in the book that confused them, or even glowing recommendations. These are something that might provide for a GOOD interaction with our readers. For these, I would suggest reading them multiple times, letting the questions or comments simmer, and then writing out a respectful response that asks for more detail about where/what their complaint pertains to in the story or answering their questions. If you cannot do this in a respectful, kind manner then DO NOT RESPOND AT ALL! However, if you can respond appropriately, this can lead them to connect with you on other sites, possibly even garnering recommendations or new readers.

Additionally, if they have specifically commented on something they enjoyed about your story responding with a little information about that segment, a little behind-the-scenes backstory, can create a bit of a bond between reader and author. It gives them a peek into your process and allows for a respectful and friendly back and forth. This can also lead to them recommending you to their friends, following you on social media, and possibly even becoming a new reader buddy.

You must use your best judgement though! Please, please don’t force yourself to respond to people if you don’t feel like it. Some people say that authors should put their work out into the world and never look back, letting their ‘baby’ fly on alone. I don’t believe that those people have ever spent what feels like an eternity writing, re-writing, editing, revising, sending out, reading rejection letters, formatting, and printing pieces of their souls. I could be wrong about that though. It is all a matter of personal opinion. This post, as pretty much everything else I write, is my own opinion.

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Please use self-control and self-policing here. Our goal is not to scare readers or make a bad name for ourselves, it is to help ourselves grow as authors. If you do not feel comfortable responding to reviewers or feel as though you would be nasty to them, then please don’t force yourself to respond on my account! Remember, you can usually also send a private message to the reviewer if you would like to quietly and without fanfare ask for specifics from their reviews. That can sometimes be the best option. IF you do ask for their specifics in order to look it back over, please consider also sending them a note that you’ve revised that section or asking them read the possible revisions so that you know if it works better in the new format or wording. You may have just located a new Beta reader with fresh eyes for your work.

Have any thoughts on this topic?? Can’t wait to hear from you!! Until then, may you be blessed with great reviews and fabulous bursts of inspiration.

 

What Are YOU Reading Wednesday

Amazingly enough, I am actually reading a non-school related book this week. Of course, it is StoryBranding 2.0, a book for authors who are looking to write their brand. (I think anyway…I haven’t gotten very far into the book yet.). Now, I got this one (and a few others) from StoryCartel.com which leads me to two questions for you today:

1) How do YOU feel about receiving free merchandise (specifically books) in order to give a review. Do you feel like it pushes the reviewers to give more favorable reviews, or do you think that they are still fair and honest?

2) Do You read books concerning your profession or your writing goals? Would you consider reading the almost self-help like information on “HOW-TO” write to your brand, market your story, writer while standing on one toe in the snow, etc.?

And of course, there is always that third question of What are YOU reading this week? That is, really, what this weekly post is all about. Learning more about my audience through their reading preferences. Although, usually, I get a comments about how you guys aren’t reading anything more than your own works as you edit, the inside of your eyelids as you try not to cry your way through the writer’s block, and (obviously) my ‘fabulous’ blog. I do appreciate the support, but we should all be a little more well read at this point 😉

May you find the words that open up your world, and may they (and you) be blessed beyond measure!

 

The Short Story Supposition

The series has been titled such due to the challenge’s supposition that an author can write at least one short story per week for a year! The First book in this series, Short Story Sundays, is now not only available on Kindle and Amazon…it is also FREE for e-reader download through the Kindle app. from now (May 27th) through Midnight on Saturday (May 31st)!!

Here are just a few of the reviews for this book:

“Fabulous!” “Wonderful read” “Amazing writing and great mix of genres” “Superb!!” “Encore!”

“If this is what comes out of the first few months, I can’t wait to see what happens next!”  ~

Ok, so these are all reviews from the characters that I wrote about in this collection of short stories, but I look forward to seeing what the general public has to say about them!

Remember that this is a great way to keep your favorites of my shorts close at hand, as well as a wonderful opportunity to share my writing with friends and family who may not be part of the blogosphere. As my Dad often says:
“Sharing is Caring!” (Incidentally, his review was. “Not bad Peewee.” Which usually means, “WOW WHAT A GREAT JOB YOU DID. I AM SO PROUD!”)

Do any of you have books on the free list this week? Have you found an author you just LOVE who has free e-books right now?? I encourage you to use the comment space to share those with us.

Happy Tuesday!

 

Paul on Paul – Free Tuesday

Dr. Wilson Jay Tyree’s short book, Paul on Paul, is again available for free kindle/e-book down load for those of you who haven’t run and gotten it yet.

The link is: http://www.amazon.com/Paul-Dr-Wilson-Jay-Tyree-ebook/dp/B00ET5OBXE/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1393966801&sr=8-3&keywords=Dr.+Wilson+Jay+Tyree

Since this a day I usually try to provide book reviews on, I will include the two reviews that follow this book on amazon.

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Share your thoughts with other customers
 
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
 
4.0 out of 5 stars A very informative read September 23, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
Very thought provoking study into Paul’s life and his associates. Really enjoyed reading the material and learning the possible connections between Paul and his companions.
 
 

 
 
5.0 out of 5 stars Book February 6, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
Excellent author and very interesting to stay with! Enjoyed reading every single page thank you so very much! Good day
 
 
 

Have a Blessed Day!

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New Logo, New Reviews, New Numbers:

New Logo, New Reviews, New Numbers:

It has been a big week for our family. My daughter got a new baby doll that giggles and my mother is finishing up her second week of driving a little over an hour (one way) to teach second grade a few towns away.

Dr. Tyree, my father and co-founder of Tyree Tomes, began his first semester back on campus at North Western Oklahoma State University (Ride Rangers Ride!), where he teaches Biblical Studies as a humanities course. After eight years away from this campus and classroom, he is very excited to be back in his role as an adjunct professor and, to commemorate the occasion (and the class he thought he was teaching, but is, in fact, not) his book, Paul on Paul, has been made available for free digital download all this week through the kindle page. IF you would like your very own copy of this, or any other of his works, or even if you don’t, here is a link his to his author’s page and bibliography:

http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Wilson-Jay-Tyree/e/B00B1VF9OY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1389980233&sr=8-1

While Dr. and Mrs. Tyree have been busy with classes, I kept myself busy working on blog posts, this week’s short story (The Watch in the Window, coming this Sunday!), and book 4 of The Stone Dragon Saga. During one of my many breaks due to writer’s block and blamed on a very happy and hyper toddler, I decided to check on my statistics page and realized that I was ranked in the top 3,000 authors on Amazon’s Fantasy list (there are several hundred thousand of them!) and though I’ve dropped down a few places since then I am very excited about how well we all seem to be doing this week. (I am currently ranked as the 268,438th most popular author on Amazon, while Dr. Tyree is coming in at 506,649th…out of every fiction and non-fiction writer listed on the site’s extensive availability sheets)

I also received my first review for Dragon on the Green: The Stone Dragon Saga Book 3. The reviewer gave me 4 stars because of my rushed editing, but did contact me to let me know that it was, in his opinion, a 5 star story and was only rated lower due to my editing mistakes.
If you would like to read, review, or just take a gander at the series, here is a link to my author’s page and bibliography:

http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-S.-Tyree/e/B00B7PGMYU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1389980271&sr=8-1

Do you have any suggestions, ideas, or comments?? Leave them for me here or at http://www.facebook.com/TyreeTomes
As always, May you have a Blessed day and may your joys, much like your inspirations, flow freely.