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Book Review: Unforgivables by Tabi Slick

Circuses attract unusual performers, but the Beaumont Bros. Circus may attract the most unusual bunch of misfits the world has ever known, in the novella Unforgivables by Tabi Slick.

Tabi Slick

Tabi Slick, the author of the Tomkin’s School Trilogy, brings us the e-book novella Unforgivables, winner of an Indies Helping Indies Book Review Project Recommended Read award. In this award-winning story, people with unknown powers, like Emma, are hunted by people without. This time though, London’s most revered detective jumps on the case and puts Emma and her new friends’ abilities to disappear to the test.

My thoughts:

I read several kinds of genres and have always been a fan of the stories that include paranormal elements. Something about unexplained powers and phenomena tingles my imagination. The same is true of Tabi Slick’s newest novella.

Unforgivables takes place in London during the 1800s. I noticed immediately that the author built the setting from that time period well, which was shown not only in her descriptions but also in her word choice and sentence structure. She keeps this tone through the entire story and does a great job of creating a circus-feel. I never realized such a thing was possible until reading Unforgivables with imagined carnival music running through my head the entire time. The action starts on page one and moves right along all the way to the last word, so pages are not bombarded by slow passages that cause readers to lose interest. In these ways, Unforgivables is extraordinary.

However, I did find myself struggling through much of the novella. Upon reflection, I believe most of my struggle comes from a lack of connection to the characters. I often felt the writing told me how to feel by sharing exactly how the characters felt, instead of letting me make inferences. By the time I felt ready to start connecting with someone, the story ended.

Unforgivables also switches between third-person point of view (various characters) and first-person point of view (Emma). The first time the point of view switched, it jolted me and I stumbled, trying to figure out what had happened. After that first occurrence, I expected the change and rather enjoyed the setup.

All in all, I think there are plenty of people who would enjoy this book. I, personally, need a connection to the characters and just couldn’t get pulled in that direction. If you like fast-paced, paranormal novellas that keep you on your toes, Unforgivables is a good choice.

Official Blurb:

Emma seemed an ordinary girl, but she had secrets. Not only did she have the ability to transform into a winged monster, she was also wanted for murder. After a series of unlikely events, she finds herself on the run from London’s most revered detective with only a circus filled with paranormal misfits to keep her company. Emma must find her way to freedom, but will she be able to do what is necessary to leave her past behind once and for all?

More info:

Read Unforgivables by Tabi Slick on Kindle Unlimited or purchase your e-copy on Amazon.

Unforgivables is the prequel to Tompkin’s School Trilogy, but can easily be read as a stand-alone novella.

Follow Tabi Slick:  TabiSlick.com  Goodreads  Facebook  Twitter

Read more reviews and writing fun from me at kameomonson.com, where you can download your free copy of Sometimes A Bird Has to Fly.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

 

Book Review: The Trouble with Fairy Godmothers

The Trouble with Fairy Godmothers by Kimberly King takes Nikki Baker’s desire for her first magical kiss to a whole new level, especially now that sparkles, potions, and magical twists are involved.

Kimberly King

Behind every book stands a creative author, and Kimberly King definitely has the creativity down. The Trouble with Fairy Godmothers introduces you to Nikki Baker, a teenage girl nearing the end of her freshman year. And like so many others, Nikki wants nothing more than to experience her very first kiss. Unlike other teenage girls, she discovers she has a fairy godmother, one who doesn’t believe in turning mice into footmen and definitely doesn’t like the idea of turning pumpkins into coaches. In this debut novel, readers laugh through confused spells and wacky high school experiences as they easily relate to those embarrassing teenage moments.

My thoughts:

High school filled my life with plenty of fun, choir, sitting with the band during football games, dances, and the occasional date or three. And though I don’t often admit it, my teenage mind was wired like most other teenage girls. I wanted that magical experience where a boy’s lips suddenly careened into mine for the very first time.

Kimberly King takes those dreams and adds embarrassing moments and humiliation, giving our daughters (and us too) a great deal to laugh at. Though Nikki’s fairy godmother doesn’t appear in every chapter, we know she’s busy behind the scenes, working to get Nikki that very special kiss. Kimberly brings life to her characters, when they smile, I smiled—when humiliation knocks on their doors, I remember it knocking on mine.

I can’t wait to share The Trouble with Fairy Godmothers with my daughters, who are the perfect ages to enjoy every minute reading it. Recommending this clean read comes naturally to me as I find it a great book for all middle and high school aged girls.

The Official Blurb:

All Nikki Baker wants is her first kiss. All her fairy godmother wants is to get the job done as quickly as possible. Hilarious adventures follow when Nikki discovers her fairy godmother’s magic isn’t quite up to par…along with her taste in boys. Nobody is safe as spells bounce around from the school’s biggest nerd to the biggest jerk in ninth grade and everyone else in between.

As love triangles grow ridiculously complicated, Nikki soon discovers that being a boy magnet has its downside. One best friend starts hating her, and another stops at nothing to prevent Nikki from getting her happily ever after. Is love really worth the cost of friendship? Nikki must decide for herself, but that means betraying either her best friends…or her impatient fairy godmother.

More info:

Purchase The Trouble with Fairy Godmothers for Kindle or in Print on Amazon, or read it on Kindle Unlimited.

Follow Kimberly King on Facebook

Visit KameoMonson.com for more reviews and other writing fun, and receive your free download of my flash fiction piece Sometimes A Bird Has to Fly.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

Flash Fiction: A Normal Day For Joy

 

Sometimes listening is better than reading. If you think so, enjoy this audio version.

 

Joy balanced Nate on her left hip, his legs resting at odd angles around her swollen belly as she rushed to her phone, answering it. The dial tone sounded in her ear. She placed Nate, sopping wet on the couch, his tears mixing with the water seeping into the stained cushion, then redialed her husband Connor.

“Hello.”

“Sorry, Nate plugged the tub and turned it on without me knowing. I was mopping up the hall.”

“The carpet?”

“Yeah, I’m gonna grab the fan out of the closet in a minute. What’s up?”

A tapping sound echoed over the phone line, and Joy waited for her husband to answer.

“How’s your day been?”

“Pretty normal. Nate knocked his cereal onto the floor again, ripped up a book I planned on reading, and flooded the house.”

“Yeah.” Joy listened as Connor drew air through his teeth. “Martin invited me to go to the game tonight.”

“Oh! And?”

“I’d like to go. I’ll make it up to you.”

“You will, huh? How?”

“What would you like?”

“A clean house and a flat belly,” she said as she walked down the hall to the linen closet.

“How about a foot rub? The belly thing will sort itself out soon. One more month.”

“A month. Don’t remind me.”

Silence.

“So, what do you think?”

“I think you should decide.”

“Well, I’d really like to go.”

“I got that.” She wrapped the towel she’d gotten from the closet around Nate, whose whimpers increased. “When will you be home?”

“Probably by nine. I love you.”

“Love you, too. Have fun.”

Slumping next to Nate, Joy pulled him onto her disappearing lap. “If Daddy’s going to a football game, we can ignore cooking a real dinner. How about macaroni and cheese?”

Wisps of dried blond hair glided into the air and gently fell back to Nate’s head as he turned around and smiled at her. “Cheese,” he said with a smile.

“Yup, cheese.”

Sliding out from under her son, Joy waddled back to the flooded hall. She laid another towel on the wet carpet and knelt down, applying pressure to it as hard as she could. The idea of stepping on the towels seemed great until her sciatic nerve acted up. Kneeling was better. As the towel absorbed the last bit of puddling from the floor, Joy prepared to stand up. One foot worked its way underneath her, and she used it along with the wall to try and stand.

Sudden tremors took over her body as piercing pain tangled the muscles from her back to her feet. Rolling to her side and then to her back, Joy lay on the damp floor, until the pain subsided. How on earth would she get up now? She scooted her body to the bathroom threshold as the nerve screamed at her again. A twist to the left, and Joy no longer wondered how whales beached themselves. Seconds later, knees bent underneath her supporting her belly as she rested, before placing her hands on the molding of the doorway.

With both hands in place, she lifted herself from the floor, but before she recovered, a startling sound from the kitchen knocked her back down to her knees. Her time now limited by the unknown actions of her misera…terribl…active toddler, she pushed herself through the jolting pain. Each foot moved an inch at a time as she leaned against the wall, shuffling toward the kitchen. The pain slowly receded.

A deep breath led Joy around the corner, her eyes settled on the open fridge and her son’s wet backside. “Nathan, what are you doing?” He turned and stared at her, a wide smile across his face. A glob of deep yellow and clear goop landing on the floor. “No, no, no, no, no, no, not the eggs. Nate, not the eggs!”

Her beach ball-sized belly beat the rest of her to the latest destruction. Egg splattered the shelf, oozed into the drawer, and down to the floor, a dozen cracked eggshells floating lazily down a yellow-splotched river. “Oh, Nate.”

Knowing she should take a picture to laugh at later, she stood frozen, then decided a mental picture was enough. She brushed the hair off her forehead and forgot to smile as Nate reached his arms up to greet her. “This is not good, little man.” He protested as she strapped him into the high chair and washed the egg off him with wipes. The prospect of going near the bathtub…shivers ran down her spine.

“Football game, he had to go to the football game,” she muttered the words under her breath as she studied the mess, determining the best way to deal with it. “Ugh. Nate, buddy, next time go for the bread, or a banana, okay?”

Her thoughts returned to her latest dilemma. If she removed the shelf, she could reach everything else a little easier. Condiments found their way to other shelves, and she mopped up most of the egg from the shelf before removing it and placing it in the sink. Next, the drawer and the floor received a new shine as Joy scrubbed at the egg. Pushing the hair off her forehead again, she carefully gripped the fridge, ready to stand. It moved. Of course, it moved. Why wouldn’t it move? She shuffled her body over to the counter and heaved herself up from the floor, then waited for the rise and fall of her breathing to slow before stepping to the sink to clean the shelf.

Moments later, the shelf sparkled. Joy carried it, sliding one foot an inch across the tile, then the other. Her body jolted into the shelf, which crashed to the floor. Pebbled safety glass covered the kitchen. Groaning, she turned to the broom closet only to hear a loud explosion. Soda, from an unretrieved can, glued the glass to the floor and the food in the freezer to the shelves.

Her phone beeped. A text message.

I forgot my soda in the freezer this morning.

The broom fell to the floor. She pulled Nate out of the high chair. “Let’s go get dinner and play on the toys at McDonald’s.” Smiling at her son, she contemplated the situation out loud. “I think nine-thirty will be an excellent bedtime tonight.”

Before leaving, she texted Connor: You like explosions, right?

Download your FREE copy of Sometimes A Bird Has to Fly: my favorite flash fiction piece.

Book Review: Spinning Silk by T. Cook

T. Cook weaves Japanese mythology and women’s fiction together, creating one exquisite piece of literature in her debut novel Spinning Silk.

T Cook

Spinning Silk, written by T. Cook, transports readers back to a time of the Samurai when only nobles wore silk and peasants became slaves. Then, in a flash of fantasy so well-formed through mythology and the written word, reader’s find themselves believing the unreal to be true. Filled with the emotional gamut found in T. Cook’s novel, I found myself enamored and unable to put Spinning Silk down.

About Spinning Silk:

Furi lives anything but an easy life. Perhaps the most adept and creative silk weaver in all of Japan, she finds herself treated as a slave by her adoptive mother and then sold as a slave to a cruel woman who exploits her weaving talents to the brim. Though the beatings make life miserable, the pull of the loom keeps Furi creating for herself as much as for anyone else. Seven years she spends sprawled for punishment befitting the very masters who wield the whip, until Shin, a humble yet strange slave, comes as a gardener. Soon, illnesses and death surround Furi as much as Shin’s mysterious healing. When Furi finds herself alone, Madame Sato teaches her to live the life of nobility only to suddenly introduce Furi as her dead daughter. Searching for the truth of her existence, and hoping for love, Furi travels through the best and worst of emotions, creating and growing along the way.

My Thoughts:

T. Cook pulled me into her creation immediately with incredible prose and perfectly-written imagery. As a fan of fantasy, I know I can be pulled into other worlds but was uncertain about being pulled into Feudal Japan, and I hoped my limited knowledge of Japanese history wouldn’t distract from the story. My fears were unwarranted, as Cook painted an amazing picture. To help those who want more, she included explanations of the terms (found in italics) at the back of the book.

Not everyone loves fantasy, but I emphatically recommend Spinning Silk to readers of women’s fiction and romance novels, including those who don’t usually read fantasy. The fantasy is not overt, and life shines through more than mythical creatures, magic, or the like. Sorry, fantasy lovers, you won’t find a mage, and the dwarves stayed home with Snow White, but I promise you’ll love this incredible book anyway.

Spinning Silk does have some typos, and they are typos, not problems with word choice or lack of writing skills. They do not detract from the story at all. The novel is a clean read without the need for a disclaimer. It has immediately won a home in my library as a definite read-again-and-again. I can’t wait for the release of the second book, Shin.

More Info:

Purchase your copy of Spinning Silk on Amazon.
Follow T. Cook on Facebook and Twitter
Visit her website: www.tcookbooks.com

Learn more about me and download your free copy of Sometimes a Bird Has to Fly by visiting my website: kameomonson.com

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: The Songs of You and Me

A true-to-life sweet romance, The Songs of You and Me reminds us that dreams can come true.

Mylissa Demeyere enters the writing scene with her first novel, The Songs of You and Me, a sweet romance about second chances. If you love simple, yet sweet love stories, you’ll want this one.

About The Songs of You and Me:

The Songs of You and Me follows the stories of Jane and Jackson. Would-be high school sweethearts, if nothing had gotten in the way. But life did, as it usually does. Now that Jane and Jackson are both single and, once again, living in the same small New York town they grew up in, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Reader’s learn about the love Jane and Jackson shared in high school through labeled chapters, similar to flashbacks, while at the same time, following their current lives as they rekindle their past friendship with a little help from Jane’s best friend and Jackson’s sister, Sarah. But the heartache of their past marriages brings pain to the forefront. Read the book to find out if they end up in each other’s arms.

My Thoughts:

“So, how did you two meet?”

It’s a question we’ve all heard and answered—one we ask each other regularly. Watching the smiles and the love pass between husbands and wives fascinates us, giving us goosebumps in all the right places. That’s what Mylissa Demeyere’s book, The Songs of You and Me reminds me of—a simple love story everyone wants to hear. To make your reading experience even better, Demeyere includes a link to a fitting song at the beginning of every chapter. While my Kindle has no speakers, I thought the idea was genius.

I found Demeyere’s writing simple and easy to read. There were some errors in the word choices and editing, but that can be expected in every book. Though I noticed the errors, I didn’t feel they detracted from the story much, if at all. The storyline is one-hundred percent believable; if you want an extreme love story, you won’t find it here. However, you will find descriptions of some mighty fine looking people, or hot, as Demeyere describes them. I did find myself getting a bit lost in the heavy descriptions of the characters’ styling choices (especially Jackson’s), but I tend to prefer limited character descriptions.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and would read another by Mylissa. Though I’m not likely to read it again and again, it brought a smile to my face, sometimes it’s the simple pleasures.

The Songs of You and Me is a clean read. Expect some hot kissing and some mild swearing.

More info:

Purchase your copy of The Songs of You and Me on Amazon

Follow Mylissa Demeyere: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads
Visit her website: www.mylissademeyere.com

Have a book you’d like reviewed?

Contact me at KMonson.author@gmail.com. Find my guidelines on my Recommended Reads page.

Want to see more from Kameo? Receive my monthly newsletter and get a FREE copy of Sometimes a Bird Has to Fly: a Flash Fiction Piece by leaving your name and email below.

 

 

Flash Fiction: Hope

As I considered what to write for this week’s blog post, I decided to write a piece that shows what it is like to deal with anxiety and school avoidance for both parent and child. Having experienced such crises firsthand, the story, though fictional, lives in reality.

Hope

Flash Fiction: Hope

The alarm rang, and I wanted nothing more than to ignore the blasted beeping. How could I face another painful day of watching my child suffer at the hands of the educational system? That’s how I felt, anyway. I rolled out of bed and shuffled to the bathroom where I took my time. Hanna needed as much time in bed as possible before I ripped her from safety and forced her into raging discomfort yet again. I’d stretch the time longer but the ongoing fight required all the time I had left.

Shuffling my bare feet down the cold, hard tile, I opened Hanna’s door. “Come on, baby, time to get ready for school.” The blanket flipped over her head as she clutched it closer. “I know it’s hard, sweetheart, but if you don’t go to school we both get in trouble. Come on, time to get up.”
Grabbing the blanket, I removed it from her body. Her small frame lay too tiny for so much angst and too big for me to dress. I always stopped short as I smothered my own frustrations. “Get dressed Hanna, now.”

Tears streamed down her face, her body shaking uncontrollably. Blue eyes pleaded with me to let her stay home—pleaded for me to protect her from the terrors she faced. “Get dressed and come downstairs. Start with that. Can you do that?”

She nodded. That was more than yesterday. I stepped outside the room and down the stairs to make her lunch, wondering if she would eat at home again. Five minutes later, I called Hanna, reminding her to hurry. The doctor called it anxiety with panic disorder. I’d seen nothing like it. Similar to some teachers, I had assumed she wanted to stay home—or come home. Isn’t that what kids do? Not according to the doctor. “Consequences without pressure require walking a fine line,” he said. “You must balance the two.”

How do you balance consequences without applying pressure?

Teachers complained about Hanna curling into a ball on her chair and crying silently. She occasionally lashed out if they pressured her without recognizing the signs of an oncoming attack. Her bedtime was always questioned. Every one of them showed surprise when I said she went to bed by 8:00 PM. They hadn’t seen anxiety like this either.

“Hanna, come downstairs, now.”

The creak of her bedroom door told me she’d gotten dressed—or not. Standing at the top of the stairs, Hanna’s shoulders dropped, her head hanging lower.

“We have to go, Hanna. Where are your clothes?”

Tears poured down her cheeks, puddling on the hard floor beneath her feet, and she crumpled into a ball. I stepped up the stairs and pulled her into my arms. “What’s hard today?” Hanna shrugged. “Don’t you want to see your friends?”

“I have no friends!” The words sounded angry, but hurt was the real emotion.

“What about Sam? Or Leah? Or Danni?”

She hid her head further between her knees. “They won’t talk to me.”

“Do you talk to them?”

Now her eyes filled with agony. “I try, but they just talk to each other.”

I rubbed her back. What could I say to that? “Baby, I need you to get dressed, okay? If you can make it to school, we can have warm chocolate chip cookies when you get home.” I paused, hoping she would stand. Nothing. “If you need to come home you can call, but you need to try.”

Resigned, Hanna rose and reentered her room. A minute later, she came out dressed in jeans and a striped top. I handed her a breakfast sandwich and her shoes as we rushed out the door.

I tried not to talk too much on the way there, but unlike Hanna, I talk when nervous. “The other day I read about a girl who wanted a hairless cat…”

“I want to be homeschooled.”

I shook my head. “The doctor says attending in a classroom with other students is better for you. Besides, I don’t know how to teach, and you’ve seen me try to write an email. I don’t know a noun from a verb.”

“I want to be homeschooled.”

My heart lurched into my throat. I couldn’t homeschool. I squirmed like a trapped squirrel. “So, if you could have any animal you wanted, what would you choose?”

Silence.

We pulled into the school parking lot late enough that I ignored the loading zone sign. Besides, technically I was unloading my daughter. I hoped. I opened the door for Hanna, who tucked her head into her knees, hiding her face. “We can’t do this Hanna, you need to go in.”
I had fought to get her on campus for months. At first, she attended every day, regardless of long fights in the morning. A couple of weeks ago that number diminished significantly as most days she either checked in late or came home early. Consequences changed nothing. This week, she’d already missed four days. I wanted to bang my head against the steering wheel, drive her home, wrap my arms around her, and tell her she didn’t have to go to school ever again. But I knew better. Life without school meant heartache as an adult. Besides, legally she had to attend.

Sometimes I hated laws, even when they made sense.

“Come on.” I reached my hand around her and undid the seatbelt. She fought me, trying to grab at the buckle. “Please Hanna. If I need to, I’ll stay with you, but you have to go to school.”

She lifted her head and met my eyes with hers—red, hurt, scared. I offered my hand, and she took it. Together we walked into the office where I checked her in. We’d spent twenty minutes in the parking lot. She was late. As she trudged toward her classroom, a tear ran down my cheek.

“I think I need to set an appointment to discuss Hanna’s anxiety,” I said to the receptionist, adding, “She’s seeing a doctor, but it’s taking too long.”

“I can set an appointment for you with Mrs. Langley. She handles the 504 plans and the IEPs for kiddos with needs.”

“I really just need to discuss her absences.”

The receptionist looked at me, a wan smile spreading across her lips. “She may need more, and that’s why we have these documents—to help kiddos like Hanna.” She touched my hand. “Last week when Hanna came up here to calm down during history, she couldn’t speak. I knew she needed you, but when I asked her if she wanted to go home she couldn’t answer me. Kids who want to go home usually speak up. Hanna has anxiety—the real kind—not like what the rest of us get. Keep taking her to the doctor, but let the school help, too.”

“What can the school do?” A scoffing tone escaped with my words.

“More than people let on. They can set her up with books and helps at home for the days she misses, absences can be excused, different environments are available on campus if she needs them. We can take care of her. Mrs. Langley, she’s good at it, and she knows all this stuff.”

My heart slowed. I nodded my head and forced the words thank you from my mouth. She squeezed my hand. “Next Tuesday. 9:00 AM.”

One more nod as I walked out the door, hope slowly easing its way back into my heart. “Thank you,” I whispered.

Like what you read? Share it with your friends on social media, then read more at kameomonson.com.

When Love Is Lost Release Day Celebration!

The day long-awaited has come. When Love Is Lost is live on Amazon and it’s time to celebrate!

Several years ago, I started a writer’s journey as I decided to write a book. This year I published When Love Is Lost—a clean women’s fiction novel!  In celebration of a dream realized, I’m giving away two paperback copies of When Love Is Lost to two wonderful winners.

About When Love Is Lost:

Cleaning, cooking, volunteering, attending church . . . Deb lives a monotonous life. Stuck in a loveless marriage, she doesn’t know where to turn or what to do. One day, out of the blue, a mysterious man enters her life, and her once boring existence is born anew. As he fills her heart with love, joy, and hope, she must decide whether her marriage is worth saving.

Betty’s life is nothing but fun, glamour, and shopping, especially where Deb is concerned. But can she continue hiding her torturous past from her best friend? When her past comes back to haunt her, Betty struggles to survive in a world where no-one knows the truth of her reality.

A young, pregnant mother of two, Mariah, makes new friendships with Deb as she continues her blissful journey through motherhood. But while her husband is recovering from an accident, new terrors threaten to destroy the happiness she’s worked so hard to build.

Can all three women come together to fight the battles of life? Find out in WHEN LOVE IS LOST. A novel that shines a new light on love and friendship, and keeps readers yearning for more as they cheer for three incredible women journeying through the ups and downs of life.

A Clean Read.

This book contains some ‘PG-13’ domestic abuse with other related themes. It has no graphic sex scenes (implied between married couples), nudity, or swearing. Though appropriate for most teenagers, When Love Is Lost has been written with adults in mind.

 

Praises:

“Women’s Fiction reborn. This beautiful and endearing story keeps you hooked until the very end. The adventures, twists, and turns kept me on the edge of my seat. I have found a new favourite author! Five out of five stars for this amazing addition to the world of literature.” Eanna Roberts, owner of Penmanship Editing

If you love Debbie Macomber books with a little bit of clean romance and heart-warming stories of personal tragedy and triumph, you will enjoy When Love is Lost. Kameo’s descriptions are never lacking, her story flows well, and she introduces a cast of characters you will fall in love with, or question, or hate.” Maggie Aldrich, author of It’s All Greek to Me.

“Beautifully, compassionately written, When Love Is Lost sucked me in and wouldn’t let me go. It follows the experiences of three women who find strength through their unique challenges. The story is both timeless and familiar, relatable and personal. I couldn’t put it down!” Amy Klaus, author of Hearts Unshackled (coming soon).

Giveaway Information:

This giveaway begins August 14, 2018, at 12:00 AM EDT and ends August 22, 2018, at 12:00 EDT.

Rules: No purchase necessary. Ages 18 and up. US entries only. Winners will be notified by email and given 48 hours to respond. If no response is received within 48 hours another winner will be chosen. Prize value of $16.00. Odds of winning determined by the number of entries. Winners are chosen randomly. This giveaway is run by Kameo Monson from Maricopa, Arizona.

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Attending School Once More, Once More

While tomorrow marks the end of week three for my ninth-grader, my seventh and eleventh-graders wrap up their first week. As many parents know, it isn’t only back to school for the kids, but for the parents, too. Decades ago, society determined children should attend school wherever the bus took them, but my little Arizona town thrives on changing societal views. Here, the norm leans toward sending your child to the school best suited to their needs, and we have plenty of schools available. Though I never thought I would choose for my children to attend school outside the bus-zone (i.e. a charter school), I’ve found it to be best for them.

Currently, my children attend two different charter schools. My ninth-grader attends a brick and mortar school that follows the typical pattern of changing classes and making friends in the hallway. My seventh and eleventh-graders attend an online school that offers a classroom with licensed teachers four days a week. They can also work from home. While my eleventh-grader generally attends in the classroom, my seventh grader attends at home where she has access to help from yours truly.

Attending School Once More, Once More.
My seventh grader working on science.

This week, my daughter and I have worked together on Social Studies, math, and English. Of course, English caught my attention.

I remember my seventh-grade English teacher. Some of my friends probably remember her name. She was this tiny, wrinkled woman who always had a piece of nicotine gum stashed in her cheek. Most of my friends attended the high English class and often told stories of stealing the transparency sheets from the overhead projector. Me? I remained in the average class, and remember her squiggling sentences onto transparencies and asking us to place commas and periods in the correct places.

I don’t, however, remember terms like appositive, participle, adjectival phrase, or adverbial phrase. Though I did learn about misplaced modifiers from my mother, who always giggled about the dog sitting at the table. (‘I petted the dog sitting at the table,’ versus, ‘I sat at the table and petted the dog.’)

This week, when I went back to school, I read the lessons to my daughter and discussed various ways to remember each of these terms. We also learned how these phrases often represent more than one construct. For instance, a prepositional phrase, something I learned about my first time through school, can also be an adjectival phrase. Who knew?

Now, when my book comes out next week (What shameless plug? There was no plug. Okay, a little plug.), my daughter and I can dissect the sentences and identify the types of phrases. But I guarantee, we won’t find any misplaced modifiers. Mom should be proud. However, as you can see, I occasionally start sentences with and, but, and so. I even end a few sentences with prepositions—the horror! Maybe my fifth time through seventh grade will cure my bad habits. Not likely. (Was that an adverb? A fragment? What’s an author to do?)

Have you started school again yet? What grades are you in this year?

For Your Pleasure:

I personally enjoy quizzes. So I found a website with plenty of grammar quizzes for you to enjoy; many of them include what I’ve been learning with my daughter this week.

 

Book Review: The Sins of Jubal Cooper

At eight years of age, Will Henry lives during the depression era with his family in a sharecropper’s home located on the outskirts of a small Georgia town. Even the town’s children gossip. But a childhood prank soon shows Will the truth about the goings-on in this southern state.

Mary Lingerfelt

Mary Lingerfelt, the author of several inspirational and Christain-based stories, brings the South during the Great Depression to life in The Sins of Jubal Cooper.  Readers will delve into the life of an eight-year-old so cold he and the other boys rock hobos for coal. This book draws you in from the start and keeps your attention until the end.

About The Sins of Jubal Cooper:

Eight-year-old Will Henry lives in a rickety sharecropper’s shack with his family, and when it gets cold, he and the boys take matters into their own hands by rocking hobos on the train. Hobos don’t like bein’ rocked and retaliate by throwing coal—enough to keep a house warm for a week. This time, however, not everything goes as planned, and Will ends up sentenced to work off his debt to society at Judge Jubal Cooper’s house, The Hill.

Rumors run rampant through this small Georgia town, and Will soon finds himself a victim of the rumor-mill among the youth, just as Judge Cooper is a subject of the rumor-mill among the adults. The difference soon becomes evident though, as Will learns the truth about Jubal Cooper.

This coming of age story deals with the Ku Klux Klan and how the hardships of growing up during the Great Depression affected children.

My thoughts:

Though a work of fiction, this story shows what life in the South during the Great Depression resembled. Lingerfelt captures the voice of an eight-year-old boy perfectly. Readers will enjoy the Southern dialect and speech patterns hidden within each sentence. Unlike some books, it isn’t overdone; it is done well.

The first chapter immediately caught my attention, making reading two books at a time more difficult. I couldn’t put The Sins of Jubal Cooper down! This book deals with hard subjects but does so in a way that is appropriate for most readers. When Will finds himself having to make a difficult decision, some violence occurs, but the author handles the situation with a touch that allows the reader to immerse themselves into the story without experiencing graphic descriptions.

An exceptionally clean read, I recommend this book for middle-school ages on up. The Sins of Jubal Cooper is a story appropriate as supplemental material for educational purposes.

Available:

The Sins of Jubal Cooper is available as an ebook for $.99 on Amazon and is part of the Kindle Unlimited program.

Follow Mary Lingerfelt:
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I received no compensation in exchange for this review.

Turbulent Tubing: A True Story of Nonsensical Courage

The last day at the lake meant six sunburned and tired bodies on a nineteen-foot boat laden with camping gear. Other than swimming in the middle of the lake, an all-time family favorite, the tube remained available for one more ride before heading to the boat ramp.

Down by the Glen Canyon Dam, the crystal clear water called to me. So when Dad asked if anyone wanted to tube, I couldn’t resist. How the others did, I still don’t know.  As I climbed out of the boat and stood on the back platform, I looked at Dad. “Not crazy.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know, nice and smooth.” His hands cut through the air with a slow gliding motion, but his suspicious smile left me unsure.

I eyed him. His track record mimicked his smile. “Let Mom drive.”

“No-no, Kam, I got it—nice and smooth.” He nodded, still smiling.

“Don’t bounce me out of the wake.”

“I know, I know. Trust me.” He was not giving up his seat.

The last buckle on my worn ski jacket clicked and I jumped in, the cool water bubbling around me as I resurfaced. I laid back, my hair floating behind me, and took a minute to comb my fingers through the windblown strands before climbing on the tube.  “Dad, easy,” I reminded.

He gave me a thumbs up, and I nodded. Mom held the flag, and as the boat began to glide through the choppy Lake Powell water, she dropped it to her lap.

True to his word, Dad kept the ride comfortable—pleasant. The wind whipped through my wet hair, but not enough for it to sting my face. I bounced along, enjoying my ride. Then, I saw it.

The dreaded tour boat.

Tourists without boats enjoyed riding these ocean-worthy beasts. Able to hold a couple hundred people each, they also had the power to create a wake taller than our boat was long. Without good maneuvering, the wakes could crash over the front of small boats, flooding the floors with an inch or two of water. We called the floods sam-sueys.

I told myself Dad could turn the boat. There was plenty of escape time. But Dad enjoyed tormenting me. I watched as he drove directly into the tour boat’s wake. I froze. My brain commanded my hands to hold on. Fingers clenched the two blue handles. My body secured itself closer to the front of the tube. Don’t let go. The mantra fed my nonsensical courage.

Our boat climbed the wave and fell below the horizon. A mountain of water formed in front of me. I gripped the handles tighter. My body soared through the air, legs and torso dangling several feet away from the water and the tube, but my fingers clung to their mark. An internal argument raged within me. Let go! No, Don’t let go!

I closed my eyes as my breath lingered within my lungs. Sensory input bombarded my body, slowing time. Through my decent, my body rolled back to the tube, arms, torso, legs. I bounced twice before finally landing on the tube, my breath leaving my lungs in a rush.

The boat stopped, and the flag flew into the air. I lay my head on the tube, waiting for the thrumming of my muscles to stop. My arms and legs shook like jelly. My back ached with a newly found tension. The tube started moving toward the boat. Someone was pulling me in. As I neared, I slipped into the water and hung on the boat’s lowered step.

“Dad! A tour boat? I caught air!”

“Sorry Kam, I couldn’t avoid it.” He laughed. I doubted his words. “You did great. Boy, you flew through that air.”

Mom handed me a towel as I slowly climbed out of the water and sank into a shaded seat. “Why didn’t you let go?” she asked.

What answer could I give? Why didn’t I let go? Where had my ridiculous mantra come from? I shrugged, unknowing.