Books -- reading and writing.
Home, cooking, the weather.
And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Monday Reading

How does Monday roll around so often?

But I'm excited to share my Monday books this week for #IMWAYR

First - the fabulous REFUGEE by Alan Gratz.

This weekend, my friend and fellow Tampa Bay writer Shannon Hitchcock and I presented a session at the annual Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME) conference. Our topic was Tackling Tough Topics with Books.

REFUGEE fits beautifully into the books I shared with the librarians.

You can learn about the story, the starred reviews, the accolades REFUGEE is receiving on the author's website, HERE.
(This would make a great book for a faculty Book Group discussion. So much talk about!)

For my blog readers who are considering writing from more than one Point of View, this is a master class. The way Gratz weaves the three characters' stories together with little gems of connection. Brilliant.
The way he ends each small chapter with a punch of micro-tension, ditto.
Sharks, storms, sinking ships, escapes from every disaster you could imagine!
And the characters practically step off the page and live with you.
Highly recommended.

I listened to an old favorite as I drove to and from FAME.
It's one of the books that made me want to write historical fiction. I've read and shared it many times, but I'd never listened to Mildred Taylor's ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY, and if you've got a long drive, it will make it zip by.
(Unless you have to stop and frantically write things you love about the writing.)

The Christmas scene when the Logan children open their books breaks my heart, every time. The  award-winning audio is beautifully read. I loved it!

The other two books I shared at the FAME session, if you're curious...
These authors tackled their tough topics with grace and humor and glorious writing.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Okay, yeah, I know. Stay away from all those sites that review your book. No good can come of it.
Well, sometimes.

I popped over there just now to see what everybody has to say about a book I just read. THORNHILL. I am so mystified by this story that I don't know what to think. I'm not posting links because, honestly, I don't want to advocate for it, even though I know some middle-grade kids will like being creeped out.  Google if you care. (The New York Times Book Review reviewed it last week.)

But once you look at Goodreads, you can be there a while. I had a comment or two I had to follow up on, and then that led me to this review of MAKING FRIENDS WITH BILLY WONG.  As much as I do not like the rating system when I have to do it to others' books, I do appreciate getting five stars.

More like a 4.5 for the slow start, but I loved this book! I appreciate how the "bad" guy was still the bad guy at the end of the book. I think it could really open up discussion with students about how sometimes people act out or pick on people because things aren't going well in their lives. I like how Billy responded to the hurtful things Willis said. I can't wait to talk this book up with my students. 

(And I can tell you right now, beginnings are crucial. If you don't believe me, check out Dorian Cirrone's excellent blogposts on the subject. I try very hard to start books with a bang. I'll try harder.)

Monday, October 9, 2017


One of my favorite things about Facebook is the "memories."

Otherwise, how would I know what I did a year, two years, several years ago? Kind of like keeping a diary, right?

When this Blogpost showed up as a memory, I felt it needed a little updating. 

CLICK HERE for my updated post about Saying Goodbye (to New Jersey).

(And here's what part of that Facebook memory caught my eye. ME, as seen by a former student...)


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Thoughts for the Day

Life has been busy and crazy, and my poor blog has been overlooked. I've been writing, but it's hard to be inspired with all that's swirling around us.

Then this morning on a walk I saw this bumper sticker.

Today, while re-reading an email, I noticed this on Irene Latham's signature. 

(If you want to be treated to gems like this on a regular basis, read her blog. So good.)

"NOT knowing when the dawn will come
     I open every door."  - Emily Dickinson


And while I was writing this post, a friend shared this photograph from their Irma evacuation.

That should do very nicely for inspiration, don't you agree?