Book Review: Amy’s Travels

“So, what continent will you visit first?” from Amy’s Travels

Synopsis

Young Amy gives readers a look at the many continents she has lived on and shares things she has learned about each place.

What I Liked

As someone who works with kids and is a nanny, I found a lot to love about this little book. It is the kind of book I’d love to have around to read to kids I watch.

The pictures in it are delightful. They have the feel that they were drawn by a little kid, and they’re very childlike and fun to look at. I thoroughly enjoyed them.

The way the story is written would easily draw the interests of younger readers. It will keep their attention and the way things are described in the books will make learning about different countries fun. The book feels as if it is being told by a little girl especially for kids her own age. It doesn’t talk down to them, but can pull them into the places Amy has visited and traveled to.

I also found it easy for me to read. I’m sure many adults who work with kids know there are some books they can only read so many times without begging for the kids to pick a new one. This one I enjoyed reading which is only an added plus for me.

What I disliked
____________
I found nothing to dislike. I liked every part of it.

Overall thoughts
____________

This is one I think should be in every little kid’s library. And I play to take it with me when I babysit and nanny next.

Her book can be found on Book Club Reading List

Author Interview with Kathryn Starke

Today  I am interviewing Kathryn Starke, Author of Amy’s Travels.

What is the most exciting thing about writing?
To me, the most exciting thing about writing is being able to tell a story that connects with people on a level that they feel related to the characters, setting, and/or plot.

What book inspired you the most?
I’m an avid reader, so I can say that I’m most inspired by children’s literature, women’s fiction, and biographies. I love The Berenstein Bears, Judy Blume, and Emily Giffin to represent my childhood, middle grade, and adult reading choices.

Do you use real life experiences for inspiration?
Yes, definitely. Even though I write fiction, it is usually loosely based on people or themes that have affected my life in some capacity.

Favorite line you’ve written?
I love to end my children’s books with questions to engage the reader in comprehension and conversation. At the end of Amy’s Travels, I wrote, “so what continent do you want to visit first?”

Who is the person who helped you the most in your writing?
I’d say that my journalism teacher in high school and English professors in college pushed me the most to improve my writing. I have sisters who are also very thorough editors.

Cover Reveal: Amy’s Travels

I am currently reading Amy’s Travels by Kathryn Starke. The book can be found on the Book Club Reading List. Link to Amy’s Travels

Amy’s Travels is a multicultural children’s book that teaches the culture, diversity, and geography of our world through the eyes of a young girl. Based on a true story, Amy’s Travels is the first children’s picture book to teach all seven continents. Complete with lesson plans and a comprehensive book guide, this social studies trade book is used in school curriculum throughout the nation and on six continents.

Character Interview with Garon

Today I am taking part in a Blog Party for the book Emerald Bound by Teresa Richards!

Emerald Bound

Teresa Richards

Fantasy, Romance, Suspense

Evernight Teen Publishing ~ 83,000 words

Editor’s Pick

A princess, a pea, and a tower of mattresses. This is the sliver that survives of a story more nightmare than fairytale…

Maggie Rhodes, high school junior and semi-reformed stalker, learns the tale’s true roots after a spying attempt goes awry and her best friend Kate ends up as the victim of an ancient curse. At the center of the curse lies an enchanted emerald that has been residing quietly in a museum for the past fifty years. Admirers of the gem have no idea that it feeds on life. Or that it’s found its next victim in Kate. 

Enter Lindy, a school acquaintance who knows more than she’s letting on, and Garon, a handsome stranger claiming he knows how to help, and Maggie is left wondering who to trust and how to save her best friend before it’s too late.

If only Maggie knew her connection to the fairy tale was rooted far deeper than an endangered best friend. 

Buy Links:   Evernight Teen    Amazon  Smashwords    B&N   

Follow along with the tour HERE

Excerpt: 

A part of me died long ago.

It was the part of me that feels, and it was Calista’s fault.

What happened tonight was nothing new—innocent victims welcomed into our home, not knowing they would never leave. I learned long ago I could not help them, so I stopped trying.

But this time something was different. This time I was awake, burning with a gut-wrenching guilt, as the next victims slept downstairs. This time I knew the victims. And they didn’t deserve what was coming.

It had always been hard for me to make friends. I’d been called loner, loser, outcast, and freak. Even still, I remembered Maggie offering to show me around when I first transferred to their school. Through her, I met Kate and Piper. The three of them were always nice to me, while other kids kept their distance and spread rumors behind my back. I told myself I didn’t care—I wasn’t like them.

But being a loner was lonely.

So tonight when I saw Maggie and her friends here, something inside me snapped. Or, perhaps it was the dead piece of me coming back to life. Now I cared desperately about what was happening in the room below mine.

But there was still nothing I could do.

Calista usually lured in victims from out of town to avoid arousing suspicion. Pregnant ones were a particular favorite—easy prey, she called them. But Maggie and her friends came here all on their own. The opportunity was too good for Calista to pass up.

Everyone thought Calista was my mother, but she wasn’t.

Back in my day, almost four centuries ago, Calista had an alternate method of luring in victims. She and her husband, Theodore, advertised for hired help with their inn. The number of parents willing to sell their daughters into a life of servitude in exchange for a forgiven debt or a clean slate was staggering.

My father was one of them.

By the time my mother found out what he’d done, it was too late. There was no escape. I was bound.

My story was well known in this land, whispered as a bedtime tale to ease children into sleep. But, just like any other story passed down through time by rumors and idle gossip, the fragment that survived was woefully incomplete. It began something like this:

There is rumored to have been (once upon a time, of course) a princess, a pea, and a tower of mattresses.

That much was true, though in actuality it was only one mattress, not twenty. The pea was also real, though most would call it a precious stone—an emerald, to be precise.

The gem that sealed my fate was now in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Calista was furious when she found it missing. She thought I’d stolen it until she remembered my limits. The identity of the true thief remains unknown.

Even though the emerald is no longer in our possession, we are still bound to it, as it is bound to us. Admirers of the opulent necklace where it rests don’t understand it. Like me, the gem is a prisoner, struggling against its fate.

Even now, centuries later, I don’t understand all the details of what happened to me that night. But it began with a troubled slumber on a bed of enchanted emeralds.

About the Author:

Teresa Richards writes YA, but loves anything that can be given a unique twist. Her zombie stories ‘Are You My Mombie?’ and ‘The Zombie Code’ can be found in Z Tales: Stories from the Zombieverse by The Fairfield Scribes.

When Teresa’s not writing, she can be found either chasing after one of her five kids, or hiding someplace in the house with a treat her children overlooked. Emerald Bound is her debut novel.

You can connect with her on twitter @BYUtm33 or atauthorteresarichards.com.

Giveaway: 1 signed copy of Emerald Bound

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/Yzc0NThmNDMxY2FlNDZkZGQ0NGVlNDgzNzBkZjkyOjc4/?

And now for the interview!

Me: “Today we’re hanging out with Maggie’s love interest, Garon. Hi Garon, thanks for meeting me.”

Garon: *joins me on the park bench and gazes at a pair of pigeons fighting over a crust of bread* “You’re most welcome. But is that really all I am? Maggie’s love interest?”

Me: “Of course not. You’re also the character who surprised me by showing up even though you weren’t in my original outline. Why did you do that, by the way?”

Garon: “Well, honestly, your story needed a bit of shaking up. I’m rather good at shaking things up, you know.”

Me: “I know. You’re also good at causing trouble.”

Garon: *grins* “What good is a story without a bit of trouble? You know you love me.”

Me: “Well, that’s true. But let’s talk about your relationship with Maggie. Some people say it happened too fast. They don’t believe you could care for her enough to make the sacrifice you did.”

Garon: “It’s true that Maggie and I only just met. It’s also true that the events surrounding our interactions prevented us from spending our time as most courting couples do.”

Me: *laughs* “A courting couple?”

Garon: “What? Why are you laughing?”

Me: “That’s just an odd way of saying it.”

Garon: “Well, that’s how we say it where I’m from. How would you prefer I say it?”

Me: “Just say you’re dating.”

Garon: *sighs* “Fine. We weren’t able to do the things most dating couples would do. But that doesn’t mean we weren’t able to bond. In truth, the danger Maggie and I endured brought us much closer than a couple of dates would have done. And faster, too. By the end of our adventure I felt a keen connection to her and a strong desire to see to her welfare.”

Me: *grinning* “Are you sure that’s all you felt?”

Garon: “Of course that’s not all I felt, but the rest is none of your business.”

Me: “Of course it’s my business, I’m the author!”

Garon: “Well, for now at least, it’s between me and Maggie. We’re taking it slow. Seeing where things go from here. You’ll just have to wait to find out what happens between us, like everyone else.”

Me: “But isn’t it true that you’re stuck now? That you couldn’t go back to your own time even if you wanted to?”

Garon: “Not exactly. Time travel is dangerous and unpredictable—if anyone knows that after being trapped for so long, it’s me. But I’ve become better than I used to be at manipulating time and I could return to my home if I wanted to. I could, perhaps, even take someone with me.”

Me: “Ooh, really? I didn’t know that was possible.”

Garon: “Yes, you did. You wrote about it, remember? That’s how I began time traveling in the first place—with my mentor O.”

Me: “Oh, right. And, clearly, O was able to teach you how to do it yourself or you wouldn’t be here now.”

Garon: “Correct. O taught me a few tricks. There are things you can do to decrease the risk when you time travel. But if I were to employ them now, it would require me getting on an airplane first.”

Me: “Now I’m really intrigued. Tell me more.”

Garon: “Nope. I’ve said too much already. I wouldn’t want you getting any crazy ideas for your next book. Maggie and I are quite happy staying where we are, thank-you-very-much. Speaking of Maggie, she’s waiting for me to pick her up from work.”

Me: “Wait, you drive? Since when?”

Garon: “Since Maggie taught me. I have a motorcycle. It’s way better than riding a horse, let me tell you. So much faster, less smelly, and without the feisty attitude. I’ll take a motorcycle over a horse any day.”

Me: “Wow. You’re really enjoying your new life, aren’t you?”

Garon: “I am. So please don’t go mucking things up for me with another book.”

Me: “But I thought you said stories were no good without a bit of trouble.”

Garon: “That I did. Okay, perhaps a bit of trouble is acceptable, just not right away. Maggie and I need this time to get to know each other.”

Me: “Fine. I’ll give you a small reprieve. But don’t get too comfortable.”

Garon: “I’ll keep your warning in mind. Good day.”

Me: “Bye. Tell Maggie I said ‘Hello’.”

Garon: “Certainly. It was good to see you.”

Me: “Same here.”

Book Review: Amanda in Alberta

“Where do you meet the people coming from England?” asked Amanda Ross.
“That would be over there at the international arrivals. Are you here to meet a friend?”
“I sure am. Her name is Leah, and she is my BFF coming all the way from England to visit me here in Calgary.”
From Amanda in Alberta, the Writing on the Stone

amandaalberta 119x190

Synopsis
___________
Amanda Ross is excited to have her best friend Leah visit her home for a few weeks. She has all kinds of fun planned for them to do together. Unfortunately, she doesn’t realize she’s about to get pulled into a dangerous adventure when she finds a stone with strange markings on it.

What I liked
_____________
This was one of the best Children’s adventure books I’ve read in a while. Although geared toward younger readers, maybe seven to nine and up, it was well written and had delightful characters.
First of all the plot was tight and flowed. There was enough excitement to even keep me interested and would have been the kind of book I’d have loved as a kid. The plot wasn’t written down to readers and also didn’t feel impossible. The whole thing was believable, even Amanda and Leah’s encounter with the main antagonist didn’t feel far fetched. Unlike other adventure books for kids I’ve read, Amanda’s parents didn’t let their nine-year-old daughter run off on her own and assume she’d be safe. They were always nearby. The only time she was alone was when she sneaked away at the end.
All of the characters I loved, even the side characters who weren’t in the story as much. There was enough left out about them that the reader is never sure who is really trying to steal the stone until the very end. Sometimes I didn’t know who to trust. Amanda herself was a fun character. She was an inquisitive girl who wanted to do the right thing even when she didn’t know what that might be.
The mystery aspect of the story I simply loved. I’ve found in younger children’s books that the mystery isn’t really there at all and the answer can be seen from chapter one. This one revealed very little until the end.

What I disliked
____________
I didn’t find anything to dislike. I even loved Amanda’s relationship with her parents, which is rare in a lot of books I read.

Overall thoughts
____________
This book is perfect for younger readers who want an exciting adventure story. It also can be used to teach about other countries. I found myself learning things about Canada as I read. I would highly recommend it and I have plans to read the first three books in the series.

You can learn more about the author and her books on her blog, Darlene Foster

Her book can be found on Book Club Reading List

Author Interview with Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster, author of Amanda in Alberta, has answered some questions on writing.

Interview

What is the most exciting thing about writing?
Seeing something done to completion. It always feels like the book will never be finished as you slog along. Then one day it all comes together and you write “The End”. That is very exciting and not too dissimilar to giving birth. All the pain and frustration is forgotten when the little one, or book, appears.

What book inspired you the most?
It is difficult to name just one but if I have to pick, I guess it would be Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery. I just loved how she portrayed Anne Shirley as a spunky, caring young girl who wasn´t afraid to try new experiences. Lucy Maude Montgomery created a character everyone could love in Anne.

Do you use real life experiences for inspiration?
I use my own travels for inspiration. I don´t have mysteries to solve like Amanda, but I always enjoy learning about the places I visit. In Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone, I did use some of my experiences growing up in the Canadian prairies. For instance, my aunt and I collected interesting stones we found in the badlands.

Favorite line you’ve written?
From Amanda in Alberta:The Writing on the Stone – “Besides,I promised Gord I would look after you girls, and a man´s word is a man´s word.” This is something my dad would have said!

Who is the person who helped you the most in your writing?
My long time friend, Sheila MacArthur, has been incredibly supportive and helpful. She has inspired me, driven me around to sites in my books and is part of my editing team. She finds many little things I miss. I also belong to a critique group of four writers who have been extremely helpful in my writing.

You can learn more about Darlene and her books on her blog Darlene Foster

Cover Reveal for Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone

Amanda is delighted to show Leah aaround Alberta during her visit from England. They take in the Calgary Stampede, go on a cattle drive, visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, spend time with the dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and explore the crazy Hoodoos. When Amanda finds a stone with a unique mark on it, she doesn’t think it’s important until everyone seems to want it – including a very ornery cowboy. Is this stone worth ruining Leah’s holiday and placing them both in danger? Spend time with Amanda as she explores her own country while attempting to decipher the mysterious writing on the stone and keep it from those determined to take it from her.