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The Greatest Gift

Diane Hull Author Interview

Diane Hull Author Interview

Be Happy to Be You is a cute children’s story about being happy with who you are. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?

Children are the inspiration for my stories; the children I have taught and my three grandchildren. Joe (6 years), Harry (4 years) and George (10 months). Children are individuals and they are all different with their own characteristics and strengths. I strongly believe that they should be happy to be themselves.

The art in this book is well done and very cute. What was the art direction and collaboration like between you and Jan Dolby?

Having submitted my book to MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing, I was introduced to Jan Dolby as a possible illustrator for my work. I was delighted with her drawings; her pictures were a perfect match for my story and her designs for my Baby bird were exactly as I imagined them. I hope that she and I will continue to work together on future Baby bird books.

This story did an exceptional job of driving home the idea of being happy with yourself. Why was this an important book for you to write?

As an Early Years teacher, I understand how important it is that young children are instilled with a sense of their own worth. A positive sense of self is, in my opinion, the greatest gift we can give any child. They need to be proud of their own unique achievements and embrace their strengths. This message is at the heart of my book. Using picture books, we can provide children with strategies to cope with possible problems they may face and offer them opportunities to discuss their feelings with a trusted adult.

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

My second book, “On Our Way to School,” is due to be published later this year by MacLaren-Cochrane. This is the story of Joe’s journey to school with his mother. Unfortunately for Joe, he forgets things that he will need for the day; his bag, his book, his coat etc. Each time he realises that he has forgotten something, he has to return to his house and set off for school again.

I have recently completed a second book featuring Baby bird, “The Lonely Bird”. In this story, Baby bird is lonely and he sets out to find a friend. Baby bird is unsuccessful it seems…. or is he? I have written quite a few stories but these have not yet been submitted for publication.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Baby bird wasn’t happy.
He longed to be like other animals.
He wanted to swim and run and jump.
But he had to learn to be happy as he was…
He had to learn just to be himself!

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Be Happy To Be You

The title of the book itself is encouraging enough for one to start reading. Be Happy To Be You takes a simple idea and drives it home with a lovable character, cute art, and an entertaining story.

The art in this book is beautiful. The images are appealing and match the tone of the story. The very first sentence in the book reads “Baby bird wanted to swim. He looked at the fish in the river.” “I wish I could swim in the river like the fish,” says the bird. “You can fly high in the sky,” replies the bird’s mother. This is a good example of the message this story carries throughout the book. Even with everything the bird wishes for, he is always reminded of the things that he does have.

Reading on, one can conclude that the bird feels inadequate with the things he has. Just like humans, the bird wishes for more. The bird’s mother plays a big role in making the bird understand that he can’t have everything he wants. I think kids will be able to make the connection with the animals on the page and easily see the parallels in their own life.

The bird keeps wishing for more throughout the book. He sees the horses and wants to run around the field like they do. He sees the frogs on the lily pad and wants to jump like the reptiles. In every situation though, mother bird shows how caring she is and reminds the bird of the things he can do, that other animals can’t.

Like most guardians, mother bird was always concerned with the bird and tried to make him feel better any time he felt low. A loving and caring mother is what every offspring wishes to have. I appreciate the author’s use of animal characters to bring out habits that are often seen in people. I think this is an important lesson that children of any age should learn.

Be Happy To Be You is not only entertaining, but also informative. The coloring and stunning drawings make the book both entertaining and fun to read. The images of the frogs were my absolute favorite. I wish I could put them in a frame. Every young person who struggles with not being satisfied with what they have will find this book educational.

Pages: 32 | ASIN: 1387596985

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The Day That A Ran Away

The Day That A Ran Away by [Fegan, B.C.R.]The Day that A Ran Away is an adorably witty story about the letters of the alphabet just deciding not to report for duty one day. Master Jet is trying to write the alphabet and he just can’t do it with all the letters on holiday. Each letter has either decided not to show up or has had something that prevented it from showing up. Understandably, it’s hard to write the alphabet without even one of the letters. Master Jet may think he is fooling his teacher, but Mrs. May is way too smart to fall for his creative tricks.

My kids are much older now, but they would have loved this book when they were little. The writing is catchy and flows well for reading aloud. The rhymes are cute. The colors are bright and eye-catching. This was especially always a hit with my own children. The illustrations are beautiful. It is very visually pleasing. It is also funny. It made me laugh a couple of times. I actually think it would be fun to read aloud. Any parent who has had to read the same book one hundred times can tell you how important it is to have a story that flows well verbally.

My favorite part of the book is the beautiful illustrations. They are by Lenny Wen. As with most children’s books, the illustrations are a huge part of whether the book is a hit or not. Since most kids are being read to at this stage, the illustrations have to really appeal to them. A nice touch was adding a few “hidden” images within each letter’s page—having the kids match the letter with the object. My kids would have loved trying to find these little gems. Overall, the artwork is beautifully done.

Together B.C.R. Fegan and Lenny Wen have created a catchy, appealing story for little kids and their parents. I really enjoyed it. I believe kids and parents everywhere would enjoy it as well.

Pages: 33 | ASIN: B07DMN4VVP

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Along with You

Along with You by [Areaux, Michelle]All Blair wanted was to fit in and find a place where her dark past wouldn’t keep following her and haunting her. After many moves Blair and her parents end up in the small farm town of Shady Oaks Kentucky. Having always moved around from one big city to the next, a small farm town with country side and horses was the last thing Blair expected to find and fall in love with. Here in Shady Oaks, Blair finds real friends and starts to imagine she could have a real life there. Than someone from her past shows up, and everything crumbles. Would she be able to stand her ground and overcome her past here with the new friends she has, or will they turn on her like everyone else has in the past?

Being a teenager is hard these days, the world is hung up on social media presence, how many followers do you have, is your life documented one image after another for all the world to see? No matter how much we may try to delay this, it happens, our children are exposed to the world online and it has permeated even into their education system. Parents can no longer protect their kids from the world online. The increase of social media has made bully’s even more prevalent, no longer is it teasing on the playground, the bullies follow their victims’ home and even when they move to their new homes. Michelle Areaux does an amazing job at showing how this can impact their lives. Written for this age group, they can relate to the characters, the school groups, the feeling of being the new kid. The story is relatable. It is not so far-fetched, even with Blair’s secret, to believe this could be any kid in the school with them. The feelings are real, and the personalities are believable. Hunter is very endearing, and you want to love him from the start, same with Grace. I was drawn to all the characters, I felt like I could have been Blair, or Grace at different points in my life. Now I relate to her parents as I navigate the world of mental illness, bullying, cyber-bullying, and all the other stress that kids these days face with my own children. They thought moving all the time was what was best for Blair, they wanted to do the right thing for her, to make her life easier. It is what all parents want, to give their kids a better life. Moving to Shady Oaks was the best thing they could do for Blair and their love and frustration at helping her find her normal is easy for parents to relate to as well.

Along with You by Michelle Areaux is a young adult novel that is filled with topics we should all be talking to our teens about. This would make a great book club or family reading novel to share with young teens that are facing a world filled with technology and social media. It covers topics of bullying, cyber bullying, and the fact that once things are online they never really go away.

Pages: 232 | ASIN: B079ZPSFJ6

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Algebra for the Urban Student: Using Stories to Make Algebra Fun and Easy

Algebra for the Urban Student: Using Stories to Make Algebra Fun and Easy by [Lee, Canaa]

Before you read my review of Algebra for the Urban Student: Using Stories to Make Algebra Fun and Easy by Canaa Lee, you should know that I am one of those strange people who really enjoy a good Algebra problem. I have always loved Algebra, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on a book about Algebra for review purposes. I am also a homeschooling parent so I am always interested in textbooks, especially those that incorporate new methods of learning. This book did not disappoint.

Lee is a high school math teacher who conceived of the idea for this book while she was working at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. She was a math teacher given the task of figuring out how to incorporate reading and literacy into her math class. To do this, she would find several topics in her class that shared a theme and try to build a story around them in order to teach them together. The book relies heavily on building an ongoing story throughout the entire course in order to help students retain knowledge and follow along as they shift from one concept to another. As someone right in the midst of teaching Algebra, I think this is a brilliant concept.

Lee wanted to demonstrate to her students that Algebra could be demystified and could become more than just a jumble of numbers and letters. This is especially important in some urban environments where the population is largely poor and underrepresented when it comes to education. Test results from many urban areas prove this time and again. I also know from teaching my own children (who hate math) that making the concepts of Algebra clearer can be a daunting task. Incorporating these concepts into stories can get through to students who simply don’t learn from numbers alone.

The book covers a plethora of relevant and important topics: equations, inequalities, absolute value, graphing, slope, ordered pairs, slope-intercept form, relations, functions, statistics, ratios, proportions, rate of change, compound inequalities, geometry, perimeter, area, surface area, volume, factoring, quadratic equations, quadratic trinomials, parabolas, domain, range, vertex, vertical stretch, horizontal stretch, horizontal shift, polynomials, monomials, binomials, trinomials, leading coefficients, and discriminants. It was very thorough. The author provides ample practice problems throughout the book. She also makes it very clear how the problems relate to every day life. I found it very relatable and relevant.

I would rate the book a 4 on a 5-point scale. Providing a supplement with an answer key to check the answers after doing the problems would definitely move it up to a 5. This is a book I would use in teaching my own children when we run across a particularly troubling concept. Lee has made math relatable for people who might have trouble.

Pages: 88 | ASIN: B0792VFC1W

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The Troubling Designs of their Lives

Arnold Holtzman Author Interview

Arnold Holtzman Author Interview

Neurotic Children as Adults is a guide to help parents understand themselves and in effect become better parents. Why was this an important book for you to write?

After several decades of professional experience with clients who had been overtaken by serious neurotic disturbances in both their social and intimate partner relationships, along with damaging perceptions of self-worth, and with lives simply going nowhere, it was as clear as the noonday sun how maternal deficiencies and abject parental failures, often from day one, determined the troubling designs of their lives as adults. Inasmuch as I had written this book for young parents whose intentions were essentially very positive but whose own histories perhaps lacked bonding experiences, the experience of worthiness, and a recognition of their most fundamental security needs, it was also written for the adults who might identify with people described on these pages and grasp what had so mangled their own lives. True, genuinely absorbed awareness of what was responsible for the neurotic designs in their personalities offers, in effect, the only leverage permitting lasting therapeutic adjustments.

What do you feel is one common misconception people have about parenting?

Parents rarely grasp the degree to which a child is powerfully molded by just about everything that defines its earliest home environment. Up until about the age of eight the parents are seen as the life models with which they must identify and emulate. Later they may insist that the very opposite is true, but the patterns are effectively ingrained.The early experience of an unstable home environment, grievous emotional scarring, serious and prolonged parental discord produces children who, as adults, are without the capacity to experience true joy in any area of their lives.

I thought you showed a solid grasp of psychology and behaviorism. What background in education or experience do you have that helped you write this book?

A Ph.D. in the behavioral sciences, many decades of private clinical experience and almost as many decades lecturing on these experiences. The last decade included laboratory work in psychiatric hospitals and papers on biometric diagnostic procedures published in academic psychiatric journals.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

When therapy fails it is largely because the therapist has no idea what may be at the root of his, or her, client’s distress. The therapist is entirely without access to the history of the client’s earliest pre-conscious experiences – information that is almost always vital in grasping the very reasons why that person had been moved to invite professional intervention. What sets this book apart from every other in the genre of child development and parenting issues are the perfect links it presents between very specific infant/child stress experiences, and equally specific disturbing attitudes and behaviors in the adult. Nothing is ever lost to memory even such as transpired in the earliest development phases. This work is intended, in the main, as a guide for the genuinely devoted parents of infants and young children. At the same time it delivers clear answers to adults weighed under by lives going nowhere and suffering anxieties of an unforgiving nature.

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I am Still a Rose: In Spite of it All

I am Still a Rose: In Spite of it All by [Barbee, Tonya]

Tonya Barbee’s memoir, I am Still a Rose, details the struggle of a modern woman to find stability and true love for herself and her ever growing family. This book is Tonya’s version of events of her childhood, tumultuous love life and her change of heart. She has written this aiming to promote a healthy understanding and level of accountability for bad relationships and to educate women, young and old, about the dangers of unhealthy partnerships.

The book is refreshing to read. It’s a text about relationship struggle that does not place all of the blame on the male perpetrator or plead for sympathy from the readers. It is actually written in a very matter-of-fact and frank tone. Even when there are episodes with heightened emotion, which often occur in life, they certainly seem to have been written with a clear head.

One of the most prominent themes is the importance of family and motherhood. Tonya seems to rate her confidence in her weddings based on how many of her family turn up, and she is always grateful for the help her family, particularly her mother, provides in times of need – when she cannot rely on her current husband. Throughout her adult life she always does her best to provide for her children and stresses the importance of financial stability, which she did not have when she was growing up. Even when she suffers periods of illness and relationship breakdown, she still goes to work and earns a living for her family. She choses each man believing they will be beneficial for her children, as well as herself, always wanting to complete her family.

Due to her hard-working attitude, she represents female empowerment. She is the only constant parent in her children’s lives, despite her efforts. None of the fathers come to visit the children so she has to be both mom and dad. She even makes sacrifices for children that aren’t hers – as she wants her children to know their siblings. Whatever trouble comes her way she always bounces back, ready to conquer the next hurdle. Throughout her many relationships and responsibilities, she continues to climb the ladder at work and gain qualifications.

Tonya clearly explains that she takes responsibility for not listening to her gut instincts and the mistakes she has made and works to overcome them. Admitting this takes guts, and to admit it publicly and open yourself up to the world in writing takes bravery and pride. She uses her life experience with the view to educate women and to encourage them to listen to their own and their family’s instincts. She wants women to trust themselves enough to make bold decisions and to go it alone if they have to, because she knows they are more than capable.

She might not have had the fairy tale ending like she wanted, but did end up with a great sense of pride and independence and a very strong bond with her children and family.

Pages: 159 | ASIN: B07DSTYFWR

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The Warrior Teenager: Let Go of Self-Sabotage & Embrace Your True Power

The Warrior Teenager: Let Go of Self-Sabotage & Embrace Your True Power by [Fernandez, Mary Lynne]

In this world where everything is fast paced and competitive, one can feel a little overwhelmed. They can feel lost in the crowd. They can feel like they are drowning in their inability to measure up to society’s expectations and standards. It is not easy. It is not ideal but it is what it is. There is nothing more to do than equip the future generations with the skills to ignore all the news. The wherewithal to see the standards but not bend to them. The ability to understand that the only standards worth measuring up to are ones set by one’s own self.

Mary Lynne Fernandez, with her extensive experience and brilliance, seeks to do exactly that with this book. She seeks to guide teenagers through life. To arm parents with tools to efficiently and successfully navigate the mucky and turbulent waters that is parenting to teenagers. She seeks to shine a light on this depression and suicide epidemic. She seeks to weed it out. She seeks to ensure teenagers seek help before they seek the noose. The only way to achieve this is by harnessing one’s own true power. To embrace and overcome. Suicide is not the way out. Staying alive to fight and exorcise those demons is.

The author has done an excellent job of appealing to her demographic. She does not tell the reader to just get over it. She outlines practical steps with passion and affection. Her delivery and presentation are powerful. She lays a strong foundation for her message with vivid writing that uses simple but powerful language. She is not looking to provide answers but rather a road-map to realization. The subject matter is relevant, relatable, and rings true. She has addressed the conversation in a sensible and sober way.

I think this book is aimed at two demographics. The first is the teenagers, of course. They need to understand just how stacked the deck is and how to play the game. They need to understand the truth about the world they live in. Parents of said teenagers will also find this book useful. The author does a good job of addressing both generations. I felt that she understood and appreciated the different situations and thus successfully speaks to both parent and teen.

This book is inspirational and useful by providing ingenious insights that are both practical and applicable. If you go into the woods, you may bring a wilderness survival book. If you’re becoming a teenager you may want to take this book along with you. This book will help you approach your thoughts and passions with fresh eyes. Read it. Understand it. Utilize it.

Pages: 188 | ASIN: B07CSF7PPN

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Neurotic Children as Adults

“It is easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken men.”

This right here is an accurate summary of the purpose of this book. The kind of adults children grow into is entirely dependent on how they are brought upon. According to Arnold Holtzman, nothing is ever truly forgotten. There is always a subconscious memory of childhood comforts. For this reason, something as simple as interrupting the comfort and joy of suckling can have deeply etched effects on the child. Effects that run into adulthood.

The author introduces the idea of the mother from hell and the mother from heaven. The mother from heaven instinctively cares for her child. Her physical and emotional connection with her child is real and almost tangible. Even when she is chastising the child, he or she can still see the love and affection in her eyes. The mother from hell does not take the time to build this bond. They let their own demons color their interactions with their child.

Over the years, behavioral disorders have been defined differently. It seems that every few years a different disorder becomes the it-thing. A look at the root and basis of all these disorders reveals that they are all as a result of parenting from hell. They are all a result of some form of deficiency in childhood. It all comes down to the experience in formative years. All the way from infancy, not just when the child learns how to speak.

The author obviously has a good understanding of psychology and behaviorism. His understanding is obvious in the way he relays his message. He does not just regurgitate the information from textbooks but rather lays out his understanding in simpler terms. He does this in simple language. The prose flows freely. This is a subject requiring a strong voice. The author is unapologetic but not arrogant or offensive. This book has depth. It is not an overview. It is a breakdown of the subject matter. It is a contribution to a discussion. It is not a lecture.

This book has several examples of adults with behavioral issues deeply rooted in developmental deficiency. His description of each one of these cases is vivid and revealing. These cases are relatable. More often than not, the reader will recognize his or herself in Janice or Cheryl. If one is already a mother they will recognize how their childhood played a part into making them into this kind of adult. Hopefully, that will help their own relationship with their child so that they will not grow into such an adult.

Being a parent is often tinged with doubt. No one stops to tell a parent they are doing a good job. They only ever stop to make judgment when something looks wrong. This means that life as a parent is uncertain. One can never know if they are doing it right, they can only hope. This book is that much needed assurance and guidance. Children are the future. This book is one way of ensuring the adults of the future are emotionally and psychologically healthy. Five stars out of five for this book. It is incredibly helpful. It is not judgmental. It is apt and fitting. If there were more stars, Neurotic Children as Adults would be deserving.

Pages: 286 | ISBN: 198169692X

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Our Greatest Purpose

E.L. Reedy Author Interview

E.L. Reedy Author Interview

Upon Broken Wings follows teens Andrew and Kiernan as they journey to the afterlife where they must face the dark consequences of their actions. What was the inspiration behind this emotional novel?

Reedy – Our inspiration came from the unexpected loss of a family friend many years ago. My writing of the original rough draft/screenplay was a way to work through my own shattered feelings.

Later with the help of my co-author, a/k/a my sister, we rewrote the story as the novel Upon Broken Wings. Our greatest purpose we decided together was to save a life, any life, many lives. Hence the the theme of finding hope all around us.

Wade – All stories are the same in that we have our main characters attempt to achieve a goal and at the same time, it is up to us, the authors, to throw stones at them every step of the way. Being the parent of an autistic child, I included some of my own experiences into the creation of young Andrew, and as such we threw some pretty hefty stones.

Andrew and Kiernan struggle with their own demons while also trying to support one another. What were some themes you wanted to capture with their characters?

A.M. Wade Author Interview

A.M. Wade Author Interview

Reedy – Finding hope in the most desperate situations, learning to trust our loved one and ourselves.

Wade – Reaching out when we feel the most alone.

I find that the best books often have parts of the author in them. Did you insert anything from your own life into this book?

Reedy – I grew up during the 70s and 80s in a Catholic family, hiding who I really was from, well, every one. So I was Kiernan.

Wade – As I mentioned earlier, through me experiences as the mother of an autistic child, I was able to define Andrew.

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

Reedy & Wade – We’re actually working on a three book saga, involving modern day druids, ancient deities and demons, and we are sticking with young adults who must discover who they are while saving the world. Were hoping to release the first early next year.

Author Links: GoodReadsE.L. Reedy TwitterA.M. Wade TwitterFacebook | Website

Upon Broken Wings by [Reedy, E.L., Wade, A.M.]

Bound by a dark act of hate and despair, high school freshmen, Andrew and Kiernan, learn that their untimely deaths did not bring an end to their pain, but only began the suffering of those left behind. While his lost memories return, Andrew must master seemingly impossible feats, both spiritual and physical.

As a dark spirit stalks Kiernan through the borderlands of life and death, he must also face the pain his actions have caused his loved ones. To save both their souls, Andrew must convince Kiernan to return to life and open his eyes to the love and beauty which had always been there.

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