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Ursamer

There is something wrong with the world, and there has been for many years. A change is taking place, and, if left unchecked, it will forever alter the world as we know it. Something else strange is happening, and none of those who encounter this anomaly can explain it. A unique young girl and her stunning sled dog appear in random places, and, as suddenly as they show up, they are gone. They have, but one goal in mind and only have a short time in which to accomplish it.

Karina McRoberts, author of Ursamer: A Treasury of Feel-Good Stories Book 2, has delivered a socially-conscious book designed to build a more solid understanding of global warming and its most certain impact on the environment. But, more importantly, McRoberts’s tale illustrates how challenging it is for those struggling to raise awareness to successfully make their point to society.

This beautifully written short story is constructed so that young readers will easily be able to follow the story and the message the author is trying to convey. Each short chapter takes readers to a different location with Ursamer and her dog Nuga. The frustration she feels is apparent, and as her block of ice melts, her hope diminishes as well. Topics of language barriers, misunderstandings, and ignorance are presented alongside the message of climate change. However, this educational story is not all sad. There are moments of joy and understanding, and showing kindness and compassion still exists.

Ursamer: A Treasury of Feel-Good Stories Book 2 is a thought-provoking short story for children between ages eight and twelve, ideal for older elementary and middle-grade students. While the book’s topic is one that younger readers can and should begin to explore, it would make for excellent guided reading or as a teacher-led book due to the vocabulary and writing style. This is also the perfect story to introduce the topic of climate change to younger students.

Pages: 33 | ASIN : B09J1VN6N9

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Non-human Species Deserve To Live Their Lives Free of Exploit

Chuck Augello Author Interview

A Better Heart follows a filmmaker that reconnects with his father in an unusual way and causes him to question what matters in life. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I’ve had an interest in animal rights for most of my adult life and wanted to write about it in an engaging way that would entertain readers, but also inform them and perhaps challenge them to explore their own beliefs.  After my first novel, The Revolving Heart, was published, I started writing the opening chapters of a new novel, with an animal rights theme, that was nothing at all like A Better Heart.  After three chapters that novel stalled, and I put it aside for several months.  I then began hearing the first-person voice of Kevin, the novel’s narrator, and a character took shape.  I didn’t know that Henry, the capuchin monkey, and Kevin’s estranged father Brian would be critical characters until they literally walked into the opening scene.  Once that happened, the story fell into place, and I wrote the first draft in ten months, which for me is quite fast.   

Kevin thought his life was going great till he encounters Henry and reconnects with his father, causing him to rethink his personal values. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?  

Kevin feels responsible for the death of his mother and that guilt drives him toward a feeling of responsibility for Henry.  He’s someone who has always been self-focused.  As a filmmaker, he’s constantly drawing in his friends to help him with his projects.  He’s never really thought about the world beyond movies and his own ambitions, but as he learns about Henry’s experiences, he knows that he has a choice to help Henry reach freedom or to let him return to what can only be described as a primate prison.  

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Primarily, the idea that non-human species deserve to live their lives free of exploitation and pain. The way that most animals are treated is unforgivable, and a stain on the human character.   Another theme is one of forgiveness.  Kevin struggles to forgive his father for what he perceives as abandonment, and he struggles to forgive himself for his unintended role in his mother’s death.   

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently under contract for a book about the author Kurt Vonnegut.  It’s a mix of essays and interviews that I’ve done over the years with scholars and artists about their Vonnegut-themed works.  That should be available in 2023.  I’m also working on a novel set in the Bicentennial year of 1976.  The main characters are a college student and her uncle, who has returned home after living in Canada for ten years to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.   

Author Links: Twitter | Website

For aspiring indie filmmaker Kevin Stacey, it’s another day on the set of his first film, but when his estranged father, a failed Hollywood actor, arrives unexpectedly with a bundle of cash, a gun, and a stolen capuchin monkey, he’s propelled toward the journey that will change his life.
The monkey, Henry, has been liberated from a research lab by animal rights activists. Inspired by his friend Veronica to reevaluate his relationship with other species, Kevin learns about the pain and suffering inflicted on lab animals as he forges a bond with the capuchin. When father and son embark on a road trip with Henry, Kevin is caught between the egocentric father who abandoned him and the temperamental monkey whose fate is in his hands. With both the FBI and his mother’s ghost watching, will Kevin risk his career and his father’s freedom to bring the stolen monkey to safety? Meanwhile, Veronica’s encounter with an eccentric Catholic priest triggers her own journey toward change.
A heartbreaking yet comic family drama, A Better Heart examines the human-animal bond and the bonds between fathers and sons, challenging readers to explore their beliefs about the treatment of non-human species.

A Better Heart

A Better Heart by Chuck Augello follows Kevin Stacey, who is trying to make it in the film industry. His friend and coworker, Veronica, is with him when his actor father, George Gringo suddenly steps back into his life. One day in the middle of a shoot, George shows up with a mysteriously disheveled capuchin monkey, a bundle of cash, and a gun. Henry, the capuchin monkey, has been stolen from a research laboratory by animal rights activists and is supposed to be dropped off at a sanctuary. But, before that can happen, the authorities catch onto the plan. From there, a fateful journey begins where during a road trip, Kevin faces several moral dilemmas. He is torn between helping Henry and risking his father’s freedom or helping arrest the activists. During all this, Veronica finds herself in the ethical crossroads as well, between wanting to make a difference in the fight against animal cruelty and the indifference towards animals she grew up with.

This humorous story follows the bond between a father and son, the rebuilding of personal ethical philosophies in a young woman, and a question into how much an animal’s life is worth compared to a human one. The author uses a slow-burn style to start the novel in order to introduce all the characters and their backstories. The background information allows readers to really understand how the characters got to where they are and why the tension builds so strongly between them.

Chuck Augello’s writing is incredibly creative; his writing style is realistic and engaging. The characters come alive with his ability to capture their captivating personalities, humor, and self-reflective thoughts. The characters are the type of people that most readers will identify someone like them in their own lives, making the story more relatable and personal.

A Better Heart is a riveting comedy based around moral decisions and a family drama. Building relationships and discovering personal values are mixed with humor as people come together to save Henry, the rescued lab monkey.

Pages: 257 | ASIN : B09C2S6P78

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The Change Agents

Legal reporter Eliza is stunned when she finds a bug and two spiders talking to her and asking for her help with a cause. The puzzled and yet intrigued Eliza at the Mausoleum door follows the creatures through the crypt to NoHoSap, a safe place for living animals, away from humans and their exploration. As the surprises and shocks unfold for Eliza in NoHoSap, she learns of her role in a great cause – climate change. Will the Change Agents of NoHoSap be able to influence the world with the help of their human friends? Or penetrate the skeptical human conscience indifferent to the world’s real issues prowling the Earth?

In this unique urban fantasy novel, author Sarah E. Lewis honors her canine Bebop and inspires people to save the Earth from climate change. Bebop plays a significant role in the story as he is not only Eliza’s faithful companion but also a guide for NoHoSap, a change agent dedicated to making the Earth a flourishing home for all creatures. This intriguing story also satirizes the whole human race using several discourses and interactions among animal species. The story features a scene where animals protect and help rescue humans in a flood. It comes off as a silent mockery upon humans encroaching on animals’ natural habitat.

The Change Agents presents a critical topic wrapped in fantasy fiction, in which animals have taken over the role of humans. Readers will appreciate the comical representation of technology-driven animals in the story, such as BG (Billy Goat) rapping and mixing crazy tracks amid the dancing animals. Having the animal participate in such a serious social issue as climate change adds fun and makes the book ideal for older elementary children. The chapters were reasonable lengths and easy to break out for discussion topics.

The author wisely enlists the state of every habitat due to weather fluctuations by including the species that live there in The Alliance members of NoHoSap, who help explain to readers the ravaging change in the ecosystem. With subtle satire, the book invites readers to become Change Agents by adopting lifestyles that improve nature.

The Change Agents is a valuable book for parents and educators to teach children a valuable lesson on climate change while entertaining them with amusing creatures.

Pages: 380 | ASIN : B09LJX3MT7

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Woofed Cookies

Woofed Cookies

Woofed Cookies by Greg Bauder is an entertaining, but short read. The story follows Peter Moon and his dog named Cookies as they go through a whole breath of conflicts and tribulations. His best friend, Tiger Moss, pressures him into smoking, a strange man keeps appearing menacingly, and Tiger’s little sister is enamored with him. Peter confronts all of these with Cookies by his side who is gifted with a neat little trick; throwing up everywhere at any time.

The book begins with Peter being down on himself for not having a puppy and being alone most of the time, since his mother is a nurse. This situation is rectified, and the book truly begins, when he receives Cookies on his birthday. Bauder does a great job of recalling what it was like to be a preteen and getting into trouble with your best friend. The joy of having a puppy is felt here, even if I question the mother’s recommendation of “flushing the dog poop down the toilet”? I mean, what happened to the garbage can? The rest of the book precedes with what you would normally expect. The story did take some turns that I was not expecting and the point of view with Peter is arm’s length, so you are never really sure what he is going to do as the reader.

I do think that the book reads a little “simple” for the audience I believe Bauder is aiming for, but I can forgive that for the fact he has an entertaining story. To take the everyday, messy occurrence of a dog throwing up and make that the title, is rather ingenious. It also steals the show away from Peter, because I found myself reading the pages looking to see what Cookies was going to do next. The lack of agency on Peter’s part was a little of a let down, especially as a children’s book, but I believe that the escapades of Cookies makes up for it.

The actual pacing of the book is a little choppy and does include two scenes that almost entirely mirror one another, which is kind of strange for a children’s book. I would love it if Bauder could make Woofed Cookies into a series of books of Peter and Cookies and I would not mind at all. There is something timeless about a “boy and his dog” and as a reader I could not get tired of that. This story is a classic paradigm with a new spin and I want to see what else Bauder has up his sleeve.

All in all, I believe that Woofed Cookies is an excellent book to give to your child for an afternoon of adventure.

Pages: 20 | ISBN: 1683946812

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