Adult Fiction Books Children Reviews Young Adult

Brooklyn Love by Yael Levy

 can occasionally be found reading a juicy chick lit novel, especially during the summer when I want to relax.

Never in my wildest imaginations would I envision myself reading an Orthodox Jewish love story.  I just never thought these things existed.  To be sure, I read alot of books about Jews and their plight in history(Anne Frank, The Zookeeper’s Wife, The Giver, Sarah’s Key, I am Forbidden) but Brooklyn Love, by Yael Levy, is a tale of 3 young Jewish women on a quest to get married; a book that I didn’t think existed.


Brooklyn Love is set in modern day Brooklyn, New York, an enclave for the Jewish community, orthodox especially.  The tale weaves around the lives of Hindy, Leah, and Rachel who are approximately 19-20 years old and searching for good Jewish husbands as their religion and their culture demands.  Don’t let the premise fool you.  The story is endearing, funny, and heartbreaking.  These brave young women must struggle with what they want to do and what they must do.  Imagine a slumber party in which young women gorge themselves over pizza and soda.  These women look at photos of hamburgers on the internet and drool over them because they are forbidden.  The scene is funny because you realize they are just like you in some ways.

photo courtesy Wikipedia

If you’re like me, you’re intrigued by other cultures (aka food) and want to know more about them.  Yael Levy brings my two favorite topics together splendidly: food and books. The characters in the story are always eating or preparing or cleaning up after a meal. You can practically smell the mouth-watering cholent (Jewish stew) simmering in the crockpot on Friday evenings. What family doesn’t enjoy eating a yummy family dinner together?

Another large part of Brooklyn Love is the fashion.  Orthodox Jewish men and women have strict rules about fashion and are supposed to be covered up.  You’ve probably seen men dressed like this before:

photo courtesy Jewish Daily Report

And you’ve probably seen the women dressed like this:

photos courtesy Shmeeze

An interesting note about the characters in this story is that many of them where wealthy and dressed very fashionably, as the young lady on the left.  While her outfit is not as demure or conservative as the ladies on the right, in some segments it might be seen as appropriate.  I imagine Rachel to look like the woman on the left and our beautiful Hindy to look like the woman in the black sweater on the right.

And speaking of Hindy.  Oh how you’ll love her.  She is the most beautiful character I’ve read in a long time. You will adore her: she’s balding and overweight but has the most beautiful, loving personality.

You’ll cheer, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll scratch your head while reading Brooklyn Love.  Go out and get the book.  Today.  This is a book the whole family can enjoy!

I give Brooklyn Love four paws for its insightful and in depth look at Orthodox Jewish life!




JKS Holiday Hop and Gift Guide


It’s the 2013 JKS Holiday Hop!

If you’re searching for books to give as Christmas pressies, consider these titles below.  All of these books are published by Creston books and are printed on paper Made in the USA. How ’bout that?

Larry Colton - Southern League: A True Story of Baseball, Civil Rights and the Deep South’s Most Compelling Pennant Race


“Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings in Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Anybody who is familiar with the Civil Rights movement knows that 1964 was a pivotal year. And in Birmingham, Alabama – perhaps the epicenter of racial conflict – the Barons amazingly started their season with an integrated team.

Johnny “Blue Moon” Odom, a talented pitcher and Tommie Reynolds, an outfielder – both young black ballplayers with dreams of playing someday in the big leagues, along with Bert Campaneris, a dark-skinned shortstop from Cuba, all found themselves in this simmering cauldron of a minor league town, all playing for Heywood Sullivan, a white former major leaguer who grew up just down the road in Dothan, Alabama.

Colton traces the entire season, writing about the extraordinary relationships among these players with Sullivan, and Colton tells their story by capturing the essence of Birmingham and its citizens during this tumultuous year. (The infamous Bull Connor, for example, when not ordering blacks to be blasted by powerful water hoses, is a fervent follower of the Barons and served as a long-time broadcaster of their games.)

By all accounts, the racial jeers and taunts that rained down upon these Birmingham players were much worse than anything that Jackie Robinson ever endured.

More than a story about baseball, this is a true accounting of life in a different time and clearly a different place. Seventeen years after Jackie Robinson had broken the color line in the major leagues, Birmingham was exploding in race riots….and now, they were going to have their very first integrated sports team. This is a story that has never been told.

Sports buffs, dads, Black history readers, boo yah!


Lola Goes to Work by Marcia Goldman



Meet Lola, a little terrier with a big job. Children will identify with the feisty Lola as she struggles going to school, passing tests, and finally achieving her Big Dog dream. If Lola can make it in a world of Great Danes and Labradors, so can anybody who’s feeling like a runt. Teacher guide for empathy curriculum in back of book, additional material on Creston and Author website.

I want to work with Lola. Make it so.

How to Be Human by Florida Frenz


With powerful words and pictures Florida Frenz chronicles her journey figuring out how to read facial expressions, how to make friends, how to juggle all the social cues that make school feel like a complicated maze. Diagnosed with autism as a two-year-old, Florida is now an articulate 15-year-old whose explorations into how kids make friends, what popularity means, how to handle peer pressure will resonate with any pre-teen. For those wondering what it’s like inside an autistic child’s head, Florida’s book provides amazing insight and understanding. Reading how she learns how to be human makes us all feel a little less alien. A teacher guide is available on the Creston website for compassion/empathy curriculum and for modeling journal writing and print copies for major conferences


We all need to learn empathy.The world would be a better place.



Elisa Kleven – Cozy Light, Cozy Night


Richly illustrated, Kleven’s latest picture book feast presents a year of everyday wonders, giving children an opportunity to snuggle up with a parent and enter into a warm, cozy world, where even the planets are tucked cozily into bed along with the shining stars.

Teacher guide for how to use Cozy Light, Cozy Night as a mentor text:

Mentor texts are those well loved texts that provide teachers opportunities to build on the modeling process of what makes good writing as well as addressing the reading and writing connections. Elisa Kleven’s text allows readers to experience the seasons through her beautiful art and language that supports investigation of the seasons. The study of the intentional language and craft choices of the author, will serve as a model to inspire students to write like Elisa Kleven — show don’t tell as the tool to be more descriptive, using sensory details and share rich examples with readers as they explore any topic.

This is from the BUTTERFLY lady!


Rotten Pumpkin – David M. Schwartz and Dwight Kuhn


Compost won’t mean the same thing after readers have seen the amazing transformation of Jack from grinning pumpkin to mold-mottled wreckage to hopeful green shoot. The story of decomposition is vividly told so that science comes to life (and death). Part story, part science, and a whole lot of fun. Features a teacher guide in the back of the book, and additional material (including instructions on how to put on a Rotten Pumpkin play in your school) are on the Creston and Author websites.

Poor sad, molding, rotten Jack.  ick. Not really; I LOVE SCIENCE!


Rebecca Munsterer - Kat Mcgee & The School of Christmas Spirit



If Kat McGee had one Christmas wish, she’d wish to be special. Instead, she’s the boring middle in a family packed with sparkly siblings, including three sisters who have all starred as Mary in Totsville, Maine’s annual big-deal Christmas Pageant. All Kat’s done is wet her pants on a rollercoaster and earn herself the horrible nickname, “Kat McPee.” When she doesn’t get the part of Mary, Kat’s convinced that Christmas will be just another Kat McPee failure. But then Kat’s beloved Gram lets it slip that she went to school with Mrs. Claus. The Mrs. Claus. Before Kat knows it, a magical snowglobe whisks her away to the North Pole, where she makes friends, checks naughty and nice lists, and takes classes in cookie baking, reindeer training, and toy designing. It’s a Christmas miracle… But something is wrong. The North Pole is being threatened, and only Kat McGee can help. Kat McGee and The School of Christmas Spirit is about a modern girl in a magical adventure. Kat is about to learn who you can be if you believe in Christmas… and yourself


Bonus points for this book because there is a yummylicious  CandyFruit Recipe at the Back of the book created by Celebrity Chef Tom Colicchio and Umber Ahmad’s Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery 

Tilia Klebenov Jacobs - Wrong Place, Wrong Time
When Tsara Adelman leaves her husband and two young children for a weekend to visit her estranged uncle, she little dreams he is holding several local children captive on his lavish estate. Mike Westbrook, father of one of the boys, kidnaps her to trade her life for the children’s. Soon Tsara and Mike are fleeing through New Hampshire’s mountain wilderness pursued by two rogue cops with murder on their minds.
Might not be for the kiddos but sounds intriguing, no?


Books Children

Letters From Santa and a GIVEAWAY! #SteckSanta @SamiJoLien

I have a very sweet gift for you today. It’s a set of books about letters from Santa!

letters from santa

Here’s a bit about it:

The magic of Christmas for children is embodied in Santa Claus. This book shows you how to capture that magic by writing a personal letter from Santa for the child or children who are special to you.

Letters from Santa can describe situations your child has been in, recount good deeds he or she has done, make suggestions for improving behavior, and generally inspire your child in positive directions you see for them.

The finely crafted companion volume is where you will write this special letter each Christmas Eve, after your child has brought their book of Santa’s letters to its honored place near the Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, the whole family can gather around as your child discovers what Santa has written just for them.

As the years pass the book with these letters will grow more and more precious. It will be a chronicle of years past, and a guide for years to come.

The two book set also includes hysterical questions from kids.  Take a listen:


How fun is that? Now for more fun: I’m giving away Santa’s Crystal Ball!

Santa Crystal Ball


It’s like the Magic 8 ball but it tells you whether you’ve been naughty or nice; uh oh!

Enter the giveaway here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t worry if you’ve been naughty.  There’s still time to change your behavior; GOOD LUCK!



Conferences resources

11th James River Writers Conference

jamesriverWriters, mark your calendars. The James River Writers Conference is celebrating its 11th
year as one of the most prestigious gatherings of published authors, literary agents and editors in the country with a two-day event that will inspire and educate writers on the rise.

The James River Writers Conference returns to Richmond on October 19 and 20 with an impressive lineup of  literary professionals, writing workshops and opportunities for aspiring writers to pitch their book ideas, hone their skills and connect with nationally recognized authors and publishers.

This year’s conference features an extensive list of esteemed guests and speakers including award-winning book designer and writer Chip Kidd, National Book Award-winner Kathryn Erskine and best-selling, award-winning author Christopher McDougall. Also making appearances at the conference are award-winning authors Cece Bell, Lydia Netzer, Megan Mayhew Bergman and Philippa Ballantine. Book Doctors and
Pitchapalooza founders Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry will be on hand, and don’t forget to make time for agents including April Eberhardt, Deborah Grosvenor, Victoria Skurnick and Paige Wheeler.

Year after year, the conference is lauded for its remarkable programs and its noteworthy influence on the writing community. It’s no wonder why hundreds of people have been flocking to central Virginia each fall since 2003.

“The James River Writers Conference [is] one of the best writers’ conferences in America,” says David Henry Sterry, of The Book Doctors. “If you’re a writer, do yourself a favor, get yourself to Richmond, Va., and go to this conference. It’s filled with warm, generous, talented writers, editors and agents.”

Registration for the annual conference is open, and writing sessions are already filling up. Find more details and a full list of programs at


Books Young Adult

#allouryesterdays a Cristin Terrill Hotlight Spotlight

Cristil Terill - All Our Yesterdays

Woot! The Hotlight Spotlight is on Cristin Terrill today! Terrill is the author of All Our Yesterdays, a thrilling Young Adult time travel book.

Did I say time travel?

You betcha!

Here’s a teaser:

Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present–imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend, James, since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Marina will protect James no matter what, even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it… at least, not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time and each other, and only one of them can win.

huh, huh?

Racing against time (and possibly yourself) sounds pretty Back to The Future-ish, doesn’t it?  Without the DeLorean, of course, but if you’ve always suspected the space time continuum is REAL, then this is the book for you.

Stay tuned to this channel, folks, as I might make a video just for Cristin, my newest bestie (waving). Meanwhile, here’s this:

All Our Yesterdays collage

Want more of Cristin Terrill? You can find her here.

Books Children

Riding on a Beam of Light Guest Post by Ramsey Dean #JKSSummerReads

It’s Albert Einstein, yo.  He doesn’t need an introduction.

Albert Einstein has long been synonymous with genius and intellect. The famous physicist gave us a new look at the world all around us, big and small, through his observations. But from riding on a beam of light to the theory of relativity, Einstein credited it all to a sense of wonder.


While famous for his more complex ideas, he always had a memorable answer on becoming Einstein and being called a genius. Here’s some of my favorites:

1. “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”

2. “IRiding on a Beam of Lightt’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

3. “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

4. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.”

5. “The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.”

6. “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”

7. “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

8. “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

9. “A person who never mad a mistake never tried anything new.”

10. “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

11. “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”







Seventeen-year-old Sarah Meadows covers the walls of her bedroom with images of beautiful faces she clips from magazines—and longs for “normal.” Born with a port-wine stain covering half her face, all her life she’s been plagued by stares, giggles, bullying, and disgust. Why can’t she be like Diamond, the comic-book hero she created? Diamond would never let the insults in. That’s harder for Sarah.

But when she’s abducted on the way home from school, Sarah is forced to uncover the courage she never knew she had. Can she look beyond her face to find the beauty and strength she has inside, somehow becoming a hero rather than a victim? It’s the only way Sarah will have any chance of escaping the prison—both seen and unseen—that this deranged killer has placed around her.

STAINED has a new cover and a surprise excerpt!  Enjoy this little tidbit from Cheryl:

Today is the day I’ve been waiting for my entire life—the beginning of normal.

I reach for the latest Seventeen and flip through its glossy pages until I find the perfect face. The girl is pretty, with wide green eyes, hollow cheekbones, and full, pouty lips. But what I notice most is her smooth, unblemished skin. It’s perfect. I cut the photo out and stick it above my bed, in the last of the space. Now I can’t even see the sunlight yellow of my walls—but the confidence that shines in these faces is even brighter. And today I’m going to get so much closer to that. I don’t care how much the treatments hurt; it’ll be worth it. It can’t hurt as much as the stares and rude comments I get every day.

I know I shouldn’t let people’s ignorance get to me. Mom’s always telling me I’m beautiful; that it’s what’s inside that counts. But she’s not living in the real world. Sure, whether you’re kind or good matters. But pretty people automatically get better treatment. Ugly people get ignored … if they’re lucky. And me, I get stares, taunts, or people going out of their way to pretend they don’t see me.

I try to think of it as fuel for my comic scripts. All heroes have to go through personal trauma before they find their true strength—and most of them feel like outsiders even after they do.

huh? huh?

yeah I know. niiiiiice.

STAINED: Sometimes you have to be your own hero.

you go girl.

Blogging Reviews

Thanks for Voting Me the Most Creative Features Award JKS Communications

Sometimes you feel like you’re blogging in a vacuum.  To be sure, I love reading books and combining that love with social media.  You never really know if anyone else loves, knows about, or cares that you’re out here doing your thang.  That’s why you can imagine how shocked and amazed I was when I discovered I was nominated for  an award by JKS Communications!

And then I got the word during BEA that I had won!

Unconventional Librarian

Can you believe it?

ME, winning an award!!

i”m honored and humbled.

I’m going to write a beautifully eloquent acceptance speech and have my tiara cleaned for the red carpet event.

In the meantime, thank you to JKS Communications for noticing me and for all my friends who voted for me!


Books Children Giveaways

Books for Kids Christmas Giveaway

Have I got a fun time for you!

It’s the holiday season

and I love nothing more than a party, right?

So what’ says party more than


So, I’m giving away 5, yes FIVE books for kids!

I’m friends with some special elves at

JKS Communications who want you to have these all five of these books under your Christmas tree!

The books are:

Titus & Tiana, includes gorgeous photography of 3 baby tigers

There were Dinosaurs Everywhere, by Howard Temperley

The adorbs Snowball’s Antarctic Adventures, about a little Emperor penguin

The Journey of the Knoble Garble, a lovely rhyming picture book

The Big Field: A Child’s Year Under the Southern Cross by Anne Morddel, a tale of a girl and her granny living near the rain forest

What lucky child wouldn’t want these books?

Easy peasy lemon squeezy entries!

Hurry, enter quickly so Santa’s elves have time to get this to you in time for Christmas!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Children Giveaways

It’s Monday! Here’s what I’m Reading…

Happy Monday wherever you are! if you’re celebrating Cyber Monday, I hope you’re enjoying yourself.

Why not take a shopping break and read a book?

Here’s what I’m reading today:

There were Dinosaurs Everywhere by Howard Temperly

Here’s a sneak peak inside:

Long before my day and yours
The world was full of dinosaurs,
And where today our houses stand
Herds of them would roam the land,
From East to West and North to South,
From mountain top to river mouth,
Splashing about in river pools
Where now stand office blocks and schools,
Strutting about on springy legs,
Building nests and laying eggs,
From the Arctic Circle to Peru,
And all around the Equator too,
On land and sea and in the air,
There were dinosaurs everywhere….


a rhyming book about dinosaurs!

Check back here on the 28th for a special treat that might involve stinky feet!

Ok I know that was a horrible rhyme…

Check back here in two days for Giant Holiday Giveaways!

hows that? (wink wink)

p.s. come back on the 28th for a giveaway!