Us In Progress by Lulu Delacre

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I’m very fortunate to have received a complimentary copy (from the author) of Us In Progress by Lulu Delacre in exchange for a book review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. You can read all about MCBD below.

Us in Progress is a middle grade fictional collection of short stories about young Latinos living in the United States. Not only are the stories beautifully written, but Delacre’s illustrations of each Latino teen shown in black and white are breathtaking. The illustrations really help the stories to come to life. Delacre seamlessly blends Spanish words and phrases into each short story text, creating a rich multicultural reading experience. The back of the book includes a glossary with translation for all the Spanish words and phrases.

To add to the unique nature of Delacre’s story collection, each story has an accompanying refran, which are “Spanish sayings widely used throughout Latin America and often sprinkled in conversation. It takes less time to use a refran to make a point than to find the right words to explain a complex situation (ix-x, Delacre).” A listing of each refran and their meanings is included at the end of the book. Delacre encourages readers to think about each story and how the corresponding refran fits the relationships depicted in the story. There is a fine mix of male and female characters in this book, which appeal to both male and female readers. My personal favorite story is “Selfie,” in which a young Latino girl, Marla, gathers the courage to obtain a bicycle and start biking in order to better her lifestyle and appearance. Along the way, she develops a higher self-esteem, new friends, and respect from her family and friends. It is a beautiful story of perseverance and determination.

Though intended for readers ages 8-12, Us In Progress is an inspiring, moving short story collection that will spark discussion for young adults and adults of all ages. I would highly recommend it for all public and school libraries to add to their collection.

 

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. View our 2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors here: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/2106-sponsors/mcbd2018-medallion-level-sponsors/
View our 2018 MCBD Author Sponsors here: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/2106-sponsors/2018-author-sponsors/

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/about/co-hosts/

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.

Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party-great-conversations-fun-prizes-chance-readyourworld-1-27-18/

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

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When Mother Read Aloud by Katie Andrews Potter

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When Mother Read Aloud: The Life Story of Almyra King Holsclaw by Katie Andrews Potter is a true labor of love and family heirloom for generations to come. Almyra King Holsclaw is the great-great-great grandmother of author and family historian, Katie Andrews Potter. Almyra was born in Jennings County, Indiana in 1842, living her entire life as a Hoosier. The text is based from a manuscript dictated by Almyra King Holsclaw around the year 1930 to her daughter, Bertha. Potter has edited the historical information into more of a picture book story format, as well as added a detailed biography section.

The story section of the book has beautiful art illustrations completed by five high school students. The quilted border around the pages in the front section are a reproduction of an actual quilt that Almyra made, which is shown in pictures later on in the book. Potter’s writing style transports readers into pioneer Indiana life, with vivid descriptions of nature, wild game, forests, a pioneer home, cooking, weaving, sewing, social gatherings, church, stories and recollections, and the importance of family.

The biography section contains many historical family photos and even postcards written in 1924 and 1925. Almyra’s biography is well written and easy to follow. Included is a poem from her daughter, Bertha, entitled “When Mother Read Aloud,” which explains the reasoning for the title of Potter’s book. The unique format for the book with one part dictated story and the other fact-filled biography is pleasing and interesting to readers of all ages. Potter’s sources of information and photos are well-documented in a Works Consulted section at the end of the book. In her Author’s Note, Potter explains that her love for stories of our ancestors came from her grandmother and that her lifelong dream was to create a children’s picture book. She has done a fabulous job of just that, and I’m certain that Almyra would be very proud.

Thank you to Katie Andrews Potter for allowing me to review her wonderful tribute to her family’s rich history. Katie blogs about family history at katieandrewspotter.comI would encourage you to visit her there for more stories.

Blood and Ink by Stephen Davies

9781580897907_34ab1First appeared in School Library Journal, July 2017.

Though both raised in the Fulani tribe, teens Ali and Kadi are like oil and water when their paths cross in the midst of political turmoil in their home of Timbuktu, Mali. Religiously strict Ali belongs to the Defenders of Faith, a branch of Al Queda. His current assignment is to take control of Timbuktu, destroying any opposition in the way. Equally strict, brave, and feisty is Kadi, a lover of music and literature and the daughter of a librarian. As a Guardian, Kadi must keep ancient manuscripts safe at all costs. While trying to flee Timbuktu with the manuscripts, Kadi ends up in mortal danger. Ali must choose where his true loyalty lies. The ending is abrupt, but hopeful, and it begs for a sequel. Modern-day Timbuktu is brought to life in this timely, fast-paced story of teens falling in love despite being at war with each other. Historically rich background and Islamic culture combine, providing two perspectives on the war in Mali. The drama unfolds in alternating points of view between well-developed characters with multicultural subject matter that is unique, but relevant to current events.  Davies’ writing is authentic, because he spent over a decade with the Fulani tribe. Both a glossary and a fact & fiction section are included to enhance reader’s understanding and provide factual background of Islamic practices. VERDICT: Readers will enjoy the well-drawn characters and fast-paced action of this diverse YA thriller with a hint of romance.

Books Read in 2017

Happy New Year! 2017 was a year filled with some awesome books! Many include links to my reviews (without spoilers). I read a total of 102 books, so my 2018 goal will be 103. Thanks for reading and following my blog. Blessings to all of you for 2018!

Laura

 

January

  1. Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
  2. Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu
  3. The Captain’s Kid by Liz Coley
  4. The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
  5. Stitches by David Small
  6. The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenberg

February

  1. One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline
  2. The River at Night by Erica Ferencik
  3. Welcome to the Slipstream by Natalka Burian

March

  1. Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs
  2. The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman
  3. The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith
  4. Starr Fallby Kim Briggs
  5. What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
  6. The Breakdown by B.A. Paris
  7. Saving Red by Sonia Sones
  8. The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
  9. Mischling by Affinity Konar
  10. Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

April

  1. Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington
  2. A List of Cages by Robin Roe
  3. I Found You by Lisa Jewell
  4. The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green
  5. Part of the Silence by Debbie Howells
  6. Blood and Ink by Stephen Davies

May

  1. The Girl Before by JP Delaney
  2. Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer
  3. To Stay Alive by Skila Brown
  4. Up From the Sea by Leza Lowitz
  5. The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand
  6. Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles
  7. As She Fades by Abbi Glines
  8. The Lost & Found by Katrina Leno
  9. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
  10. The Map That Leads to You by JP Monninger
  11. Come Sundown by Nora Roberts
  12. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
  13. All We Have Left by Wendy Mills
  14. Sweet by Emmy Laybourne

June

  1. Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
  2. People Who Knew Me by Kim Hooper
  3. Nantucket Nights by Elin Hilderbrand
  4. The Choices We Make by Karma Brown
  5. All the Summer Girls by Meg Donahue
  6. The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand
  7. Summer People by Elin Hilderbrand
  8. The Love Season by Elin Hilderbrand
  9. Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand
  10. The Late Show by Michael Connelly
  11. The Long Road Home by Tawni Waters
  12. Camino Island by John Grisham
  13. Here and Gone by Haylen Beck
  14. The Captain’s Daughter by Meg Mitchell Moore
  15. Summer Secrets by Jane Green
  16. Home Again by Kristin Hannah
  17. Saving Grace by Jane Green
  18. The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs

July

  1. What She Knew by Gilly McMillan
  2. The Girl in Times Square by Paullina Simons
  3. Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown
  4. Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
  5. Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey
  6. Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner
  7. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
  8. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
  9. Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner
  10. Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave
  11. Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner
  12. The Summer House by Hannah McKinnon
  13. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
  14. Unsub by Meg Gardiner
  15. Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven
  16. Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf
  17. Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

August

  1. Phantom Instinct by Meg Gardiner
  2. Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben
  3. Give Me The Child by Mel McGrath
  4. A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann
  5. Dan vs. Nature by Don Calame
  6. Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore

September

  1. Where I Live by Brenda Rufener
  2. I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda
  3. Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
  4. Ghosts in the Fog by Samantha Seiple
  5. The Demon Crown by James Rollins
  6. Winter Solstice by Elin Hilderbrand
  7. Confess by Colleen Hoover

October

  1. Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
  2. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  3. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
  4. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
  5. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks
  6. November 9 by Colleen Hoover

November

  1. The Magnificent Life of Esme Wells by Adrienne Sharp
  2. The Rooster Bar by John Grisham
  3. There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
  4. Always, Forever, Maybe by Anna Mrose Rissi
  5. Fifteen Words by Monika Jephcott Thomas
  6. Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

December

  1. My Name is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd
  2. Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
  3. Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington

The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp

About The Keeping of Secrets

The Keeping of Secrets CoverThe keeper of family secrets, Patricia Roberts grows up isolated and lonely. Trust no one and you won’t be disappointed is her motto. Three men fall in love with her and she learns to trust, only to find that their agendas are not her own. With secrets concealed from her by the ultimate love of her life, and with her own secret to keep, duplicity and deceit threaten their relationship. In a coming of age story set against the sweeping backdrop of the Second World War – evacuation, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, buzz bombs and secret war work – Patricia ultimately has to decide whether to reveal her deepest held secret for the sake of her future happiness.

Purchase from Amazon UK – Amazon UK
Purchase from Barnes & Noble – Barnes & Noble

About Author Alice Graysharp

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Born and raised in the Home Counties, Alice Graysharp has enjoyed a varied working life from hospitality to office work and retail. She currently lives in Surrey. This is her first novel, and the first title in a two book series, she is also already working on a seventeenth century trilogy. Published in the anniversary month of the outbreak of the Second World War and the Battle of Britain
Website: https://www.alicegraysharp.com/

Q&A with Author, Alice Graysharp

1. How did you get started as a writer?

When I was six my parents and grandparents were subjected to recitals of my childish scribbling and I wrote an adventure story when I was ten. About two and a half years ago, I realized that time was passing and if I ever wanted to get a book published I’d better get on with it! I spoke with a publisher about a trilogy I had in mind and they suggested I start with a one-off story as a first time novel, so I wrote The Keeping of Secrets – although ironically it’s turned out to be the first of a two parter. I’d love to be in a financial position to write full time, so I need lots of people to buy my book (unsubtle hint!).

3. What is your favourite under-appreciated novel?

The Fisherman’s Daughter by Molly Jackson.

4. What is your favourite childhood book?

That’s a difficult one as I had different favourites at different stages of childhood. As a very young child I loved my Dad reading Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott to me. Then when I could first read, it was Enid Blyton’s The Adventurous Four, a story of spies, danger and derring-do in wartime Britain. At ten it was The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. All about keeping a secret, a familiar theme! If I had to pick one of them I suppose it would be The Scarlet Pimpernel.

5. Do you have a special room or place that you prefer to write?

At home it’s the end of the dining room table as that’s the only space available, but quite a lot of The Keeping of Secrets was actually written in cheap hotel rooms. Over the course of about a year I took myself off once every few weeks on a bargain deal, booking a room from 2pm till 12 noon the next day, stocking up at the supermarket on my way, then researching and writing for the next 22 hours, less about 4 hours sleep!

6. Tell us about your typical process for starting a new book.

I already have the rough storyline playing out in my head. I write episodically, so I’ll initially write a few scenes from different parts of the book to get a feel for the characters and events.

7. How do you select the names of your characters?

Chosing names can be tricky – you have to check there isn’t someone else with the same unusual name who might sue you for defamation! On the other hand, a very common name is safe. For my main character I balanced her name with an old fashioned middle name, Adela, and also gave that to her mother as that is quite traditional in some families. My main character’s first name, Patricia, is part of James’ chat up line, and the reason she was so named is echoed later. Most names flow from the characters or the era in which they live. Some surnames are an invented variation of a recognized surname.

8. What is the most difficult part of being a writer?

Finding time to do the actual writing! There’s the research before and during the writing, and then, after a book is published, there’s a lot of publicity work involved. I enjoy all these aspects of being an author. I’m often composing scenes in my head when I’m out and about, or revisit scenes I’ve thought about before, which makes the physical creation of the words when I have the time to do the writing a bit easier and quicker than if I tried to invent scenes from cold.

9. Are you working on any new novels at this time? If so, can you share a little about them?

I’m writing what I call an interquel – a story that slots in between the last chapter and the epilogue of The Keeping of Secrets. We meet a number of the characters again at different stages of their lives and find how a secret stumbled upon by a new character has repercussions over the years.

I’ve also started the seventeenth century trilogy that’s been in my head since I was sixteen about a new strong, passionate and resilient character, Free, and her experience of the Civil War, Commonwealth and the Restoration periods.

10. What is your favourite/most valued work that you have written?

Other than The Keeping of Secrets, that would be a poem about going to a derby football match. I’ve experienced the extra buzz in anticipating a derby fixture, the agony of losing and the ecstasy of winning.

Special thanks to Clink Street Publishing and to Author, Alice Graysharp for being a special guest at librarianlaura.com today. I hope you enjoy Alice’s novel as much as I have!

 

The Watcher by Monika Jephcott-Thomas

 

About The Watcher

The Watcher Cover.jpgIt’s 1949 when Netta’s father Max is released from a Siberian POW camp and returns to his home in occupied Germany. But he is not the man the little girl is expecting – the brave, handsome doctor her mother Erika told her stories of. Erika too struggles to reconcile this withdrawn, volatile figure with the husband she knew and loved before, and, as she strives to break through the wall Max has built around himself, Netta is both frightened and jealous of this interloper in the previously cozy household she shared with her mother and doting grandparents. Now, if family life isn’t tough enough, it is about to get even tougher, when a murder sparks a police investigation, which begins to unearth dark secrets they all hoped had been forgotten.
Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2jpKeBs

About the Author

Monkika Jephcott Thomas.jpgMonika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002. In 2016 her first book Fifteen Words was published. Website – http://monika-jephcott-thomas.com/

Q&A with Author, Monika Jephcott-Thomas

1. How did you get started as a writer?

After my parents death I looked through all their papers, letters , photos and documents they left behind and decided they would be a good foundation for a novel.

2. How many hours a day do you write?

I don’t write daily, as writing is my hobby and not my main job, which is training adults who work with children in play therapy to alleviate their emotional, behavioural and mental health problems and enable their potential. See www playtherapy.org.uk

3. What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Goethe’s Werther

4. What is your favorite childhood book?

Gulliver’s Travels

5. Do you have a special room or place that you prefer to write?

Yes, in our house in France looking out into nature.

6. How do you select the names of your characters?

In my novels they came from German characters that I thought would fit.

7. What is the most difficult part of being a writer?

Having the inspiration at the time when I need it.

8. What is your favorite/most valued work that you have written?

My autobiography, Under the Pear Tree.

 

Special thanks to Clink Street Publishing and to Author, Monika Jephcott-Thomas for being a special guest at librarianlaura.com today. I hope you enjoy Monika’s novels as much as I have!

 

Fifteen Words by Monika Jephcott-Thomas

 

Fifteen Words Cover

Librarian Laura’s Review

Fifteen Words is set in 1930’s Nazi Germany. Recently married to his fellow physician and sweetheart, Erika, German soldier and doctor, Max Portner, is ripped from his happy days as a newlywed and sent off to the front lines to serve as a doctor for the German army during WWII.  About the only bright point of being involved in such an ugly war is the fact that two of his best friends and fellow physicians are by his side, Horst and Edgar. Then Max and his comrades are rounded up by the Russian enemy and made prisoners of war in a frozen work camp in Siberia called Gegesha, with little to no comfort, decency, or sustenance. Max is allowed to leave the camp for short periods of time, walking a long trek to a nearby village to serve as doctor to other Russian commanders and their wives. After returning from a rather eventful trip where he had to deliver a baby to a Russian officer’s wife, Max is accused wrongly by Volkov, the camp commanding officer. He is thrown into solitary confinement in a cage for six weeks for no apparent reason other than the brutality and hatred of Volkov for the German army.

Meanwhile, while Max is spending long, painful days as a POW, his young wife Erika travels with her father-in-law Karl to safety in another village after being thrown out of their household. Little known to Max, Erika is pregnant. Once her daughter, Netta, is born, Erika decides to start practicing medicine, as she has no clue when or if she will ever see her husband again. With the help of her father-in-law, Karl, and the handsome handyman Rodrick, Erika sets up a surgery unit in their home and begins seeing patients. Erika struggles to raise their daughter without Max present and while her home is destroyed by war.

The only communication between Max and Erika during the four years he is a POW in Gegesha is through brief, mundane messages, as the Russians only allow prisoners to send fifteen word messages to loved ones. As Max and Erika are kept apart, they each grow closer to and are tempted by others, threatening their own marriage.

Told in alternating points-of-view, Max and Erika’s daily lives unfold for readers. Though the couple is kept apart for over four years, while they each flashback to times they shared together. This is a love story, but also a story of survival during times of great trial and turmoil. Fans of both romance and historical fiction will enjoy this novel. The ending begs for a sequel, which Jephcott Thomas has written, called The Watcher.

About Author Monika Jephcott ThomasMonkika Jephcott Thomas

Monika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002. In 2016 her first book Fifteen Words was published.

Website – http://monika-jephcott-thomas.com/

Q&A With Monika Jephcott-Thomas

1. How did you get started as a writer?

After my parents death I looked through all their papers, letters , photos and documents they left behind and decided they would be a good foundation for a novel.

2. How many hours a day do you write?

I don’t write daily, as writing is my hobby and not my main job, which is training adults who work with children in play therapy to alleviate their emotional, behavioural and mental health problems and enable their potential. See www playtherapy.org.uk

3. What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Goethe’s Werther

4. What is your favorite childhood book?

Gulliver’s Travels

5. Do you have a special room or place that you prefer to write?

Yes, in our house in France looking out into nature.

6. How do you select the names of your characters?

In my novels they came from German characters that I thought would fit.

7. What is the most difficult part of being a writer?

Having the inspiration at the time when I need it.

8. What is your favorite/most valued work that you have written?

My autobiography, Under the Pear Tree.

Special thanks to Clink Street Publishing and to Author, Monika Jephcott-Thomas for being a special guest at librarianlaura.com today. I hope you enjoy Monika’s novels as much as I have!