Day: June 18, 2018

My Next Readathon: Children’s Books

Posted on

Hi… So, I’m back from vacation and ready to plan the Children’s Books Readathon. Given that there’s less than 2 weeks before July is here, I’m wondering if August would be better to give us enough time to thoroughly plan the authors, books and posts. If you’re interested in participating, please leave some thoughts in the comments on this post regarding:

  1. Who wants to join?
  2. Do you prefer July or August?
  3. What children’s books and authors should we read?
  4. Are there any children’s book authors who want to host (Q&A, offer giveaway, discuss your books, etc.) 1 of the 4 weeks to help promote their works?

Let me know by Sunday, June 24th and we’ll see what we can get scheduled! Thanks.

***

What’s that saying… “Idle hands are the…” Never mind. I’m apparently not content unless I’m dreaming and planning content for the upcoming months. It’s not enough that I have two books I’m trying to market, still in the middle of the very successful and extraordinarily fun Agatha Christie Readathon, nor that I’ll be out of the country for three weeks and still trying to finalize the initial posts for all three new blog segments I’m launching, but I decided today that I want to host another Readathon. When I thought through something that might appeal to a wider variety of readers and bloggers, as well as help offer some marketing and promotional opportunities for fellow authors, I feel in love with the idea of holding a “Children’s Books Readathon” in July 2018.

My Next Readathon

If you’re unfamiliar with the Christie Readathon, follow the link from the first paragraph. A group of fans and Christie-newbies held a poll to pick four (4) Agatha Christie books, then we read one each week in April and post a review on the last day of the week. Two down, two remaining so far… everyone can comment and re-blog, but we wanted to share our love the Grande Dame. I’m thinking of hosting these Readathons quarterly, but I’ve pulled together some ideas for one focused around Children’s Books. Once upon a time, I went to school to become a teacher. I wanted to focus on middle school, and also majored in English, so I have read tons of children’s books. I also wrote tons of curriculum and pulled together lots of teacher lessons for reading in the elementary school courses. Some thoughts below on how we could make this shine:

  • We read 2 or 3 children’s books each week. It may sound like a lot, but they are relatively short and we all need a break from lengthy tomes. This may help some of us reach our Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge goals!
  • We split the children’s books into 2 categories:
    • A: Authors we read in the past that we’d like to share
    • B: Current authors with blogs we follow to help with promotion
  • We follow the same pattern with 6 days to read, 1 day to post.
  • We ask the current authors to share a post on my blog that everyone can also re-blog to help market their books. Maybe the authors will have a GIVEAWAY, offer ARCs of something new coming out, or some other fun promotion to make this interactive.

These are just high-level ideas. Everyone could share posts on award winners, picture versus chapter books, ways to engage kids in reading. I’m open to everything that highlights children’s books and helps excite people to spread the word on our fellow bloggers and authors. Throw some suggestions out in the next two weeks. My goal is to wrap up a plan and get this scheduled and coordinated before I leave on vacation in mid-May. We’ll hold a poll and vote on which books to read and review just like before. Target would be in July 2018 to give everyone (authors and readers) ~2 months to plan, purchase, read and prepare.

Who’s in?

 

Advertisements

Book Review: Kalorama Road by E. Denise Billups

Posted on

After reading a few articles written by E. Denise Billups in Conscious Talk Magazine, I found myself intrigued with her writing style and voice. After some research, I noticed she’d written a few books, so I selected the one that appealed to me the most, Kalorama Road. If you’re a fan of mysterious character connections, someone with memory loss trying to unearth what happened during a missing 24-hour period, or a subtle tense feeling of “uh oh” while reading, you will definitely enjoy this one!

38340854.jpg

The story takes place in modern day NYC (blocks from where I live) and the Washington DC / Virginia area. Allie, an editor at a big publishing company, can’t remember what happened one night at a party during her college years. She remembers being invited by a strange girl, showing up and seeing some peculiar behavior, but then all she knows is that her roommate saw a handsome guy drop her off the next morning. What happened overnight? Well… Allie’s been getting monthly text messages and emails asking her what happened at Kalorama Road that night. They scare her but also intrigue her. Is it someone else who doesn’t recall? Is it someone who wants her to remember? Is it the person who took her there who has since disappeared? It all begins coming back together when she’s let go from her publishing job and begins writing a blog. Someone submits a book for her review but it seems like a real life mystery, then it begins to resemble her own experience at Emsworth University. Allie never told anyone but she’s compelled to reveal all the details to her former colleague and the former roommate. At the same time, Allie’s sister has a secret she wants to keep hidden and a new man enters Allie’s life that seems very familiar. How does everything come together?

The book jumps back and forth between a few main characters, sharing their stories and actions over the course of a few weeks. We see a few memories from the past and learn who is really connected to who. As each chapter unfolds, a piece of the puzzle gets more clear but also opens up more confusion to leaf through. Throw in a powerful senator and his family, a suicide, a newspaper reporter trying to find out what happened in the past, a murder, and a family with a large endowment given to the university yet some secrets worth protecting, there’s bound to be a few explosive moments. What a wild ride, both in terms of how all the connections are revealed and in the build-up of tension between all the new people suddenly just appearing in Allie’s life as she’s trying to solve the puzzle of her missing memories.

Billups drew me in from the first few chapters. I’m a sucker for a lost memory story, but when it straddles that line of “oh, this seems obvious” but then throws you a curve where you’re like “wait, WHAT?” it’s even more appealing. It takes a lot to plan a story where you reveal things bit by bit. It’s also difficult to cover a story from multiple points of view without confusing readers. Billups handles both with great aplomb and talent, as it came together solidly without any concern.

Her character sketches of different women and men in their 20s, living in NY, were on point and realistic — there were moments were they annoyed me because of typical behavior, but that’s a good thing as it means Billups has evoked intense emotion and a strong connection to the story. I enjoyed the slow-build romance and potential eerie connections with her new friends, but I also could tell she had some blinders on when it came to all the ‘coincidences’ going on in her life. And there’s an explanation for it… as the tidbits of history we learn about Allie and her sister’s lives growing up clearly show why they act the way they do now. A great way to make things seem quite reasonable in a story that has you guessing who to trust.

I’m quite intrigued by what else might come from the author’s clever mind. I’ll be taking another look at her previous books and seeing if I can find out what’s coming up next… as I’ll definitely be reading another one this year. And I don’t want to wait a year for another book! 🙂

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: A Poisonous Journey by Malia Zaidi

Posted on

Given two of my favorite genres include historical fiction and cozy mysteries, I expected to enjoy A Poisonous Journey, the first book in the Lady Evelyn series, written by Malia Zaidi in 2015. I was definitely thrilled with this book and pleasantly surprised to learn there were already 3 published in the series. What a great find for this enthusiast of history, detective stories, and charming characters set in foreign lands.

26029116
Lady Evelyn, a mid-20s former orphan (her parents died young and she was raised by a strict aunt) who escapes to Greece to visit her best friend and cousin, Briony, is the star of this caper. She’s intelligent, funny, kind, and open-minded, and those are just the surface traits worth mentioning… there’s so much more. Longing to find a purpose for her life, she settles in with her cousin and begins meeting many of the Greek neighbors and townspeople in 1920s Crete. When one of the group is found dead, the suspect list is at first empty, but as more comes to light on the deceased, it begins to grow larger and larger. Although she isn’t investigating the mystery, events unfold where she asks questions and thinks out loud to a few people, thus opening and closing doors as to who the possible culprit could be. When a few side stories (antiquities theft, romance, clandestine affairs, and secret pregnancies) begin to collide, Evelyn finds herself in the middle of it all with a dashing suitor willing to help find the answers.

Zaidi has created a very strong protagonist who jumps off the pages despite the century time difference between when the story was written and when it takes place. Among the language, setting and relationships, readers find charming connections and introspective thoughts about the beauty of life nearly 100 years ago. With no Internet, DNA or quick-n-easy access to get answers, she has to use deduction and behavior to understand what’s happening around her.

What appealed to me the most in this story is how although the mystery is front and center, the book is really a story about ‘a few weeks in the life of a character we can all identify with on some or multiple level(s).’ Whether she’s having a conversation with the maid, relaxing at a picnic with friends, or corresponding with her aunt to explain the rushed exit, I want more Lady Evelyn. Zaidi matches the style and tone of her word choice with the time period, the relaxed and casual setting with the quiet island life, and the descriptions with the lyrical flow of a single woman from a well-to-do family learning about real life outside her immediate circle of experience.

Many of the supporting characters are well-developed, too. They feel real and shine as either sounding boards or a pivotal and unwitting distributor of clues to Lady Evelyn. I felt a steady stream of low-key suspense (that’s exactly how this type of story was meant to be shared) that kept me turning the pages with keen interest in how it would all unfold. When a key ‘chase scene’ puts Evelyn in the line of dangerous fire, we worry despite knowing she’ll be okay in the end. Although the different sub-plots help direct the main one, they also stand on their own as key stories within the book to help build the world in which Evelyn resides. It’s part of the way Zaidi generates interest in each chapter, all leading to a very appropriate conclusion for what would likely have happened during this time period.

Kudos to the author for making quite a splash for me with this book. I look forward to reading the next book later this year!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.