Summer Reads for the Kids

If you’re anything like me, you want your magical creatures to continue reading after the last school bell rings for summer. Of course you do! It keeps their little minds working through the summer months, but we also want them to see that reading is FUN!!!! And summer reading can be a great time for that. No books they HAVE to read or have completed by a certain time. Time for some relaxation and FREEDOM!

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So to prepare you for the coming months, I have some cautionary words,  some encouragement and some reading suggestions!

Words of Caution, Suggestion and Encouragement:

As a mom and a teacher I have learned – many times the hard way – some things about encouraging reading:

  1. Your kiddos may not be interested in the same types of books that interest you.     BE OK WITH THAT!
  2. If your young readers don’t know what types of books they like yet, grab a big pile of age and level appropriate books of all different genres that sound fun (to your kid…not necessarily you) and take them all home to peruse!
  3. With that – KNOW WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE READING!!! I wrote another post about that a while ago and it might be worth the read. Be aware that knowing what our kids are reading is no different than being vigilant about what they watch. Please don’t send your kid off into the reading world without being willing to read what they are reading and discuss it. Just because it is a book does not mean that the words and topics inside are appropriate.
  4. Don’t be a book snob! What you are reading or your kid is reading does not make you or your kid better than my honor student! Some folks like reading chick lit, which makes me want to poke my eye out!!!, but does not mean that they are less of a reader than I am. I read quite a bit of fantasy and sci-fi which most people giphy.gifconsider extremely weird and dorky. Soooooo to each his own. Graphic novels, mysteries, fantasy, classics – READ ALL THE BOOKS! AND LET YOUR KIDS!!!!
  5. Let your kids see you reading! If your kids see that you enjoy reading, that it’s an adventure, then hopefully they won’t view it as a chore.
  6. Be patient. Be willing to help your magical creatures find the books that speak to them. It might take a while – but it will be worth the wait.

Those are just a few little tidbits I have gathered over the years. And to help you put some of them into practice I have some awesome suggestions for you to share with your kids!

The Books of Ember

The Ember series is great for girls and boys! There are two protagonists – Dune and Lina – who are both inquisitive, adventurous and caring to the point of sacrifice. So I think you will love the values presented and young readers will be captivated with the adventure and the incredibly unique world that Jeanne DuPrau creates in this series.

This first book in the series, City of Ember, introduces the world of Ember where children quit school at the age of 12 and begin an apprenticeship for the job they will do that will allow them to keep their city running. Readers will love the mystery of the city and its origins.

The following books, The People of Sparks and The Diamond of Darkhold continue and complete the story of the people of Ember while Dune and Lina continue to be heroes throughout. The Prophet of Yonwoodwhile it is a prequel, should be read in the order it appears in the series. It will ruin the surprises and mystery of the first books if it is read in chronological order!

This would be a great series for you and your kiddos this summer! Wait, you’ve already read The Books of Ember?!?!?! Here are some other suggestions! Follow the links for some great deals on books and ebooks!

 

 

 

***One thing I have grown to love about Amazon is that it offers suggestions of books similar to the one I’m already looking at. Which means you could browse books for hours!!!***

(this page contains amazon affiliate links. gifs are not my own and courtesy of star2.com and GIFER)

Nevernight

You know that book that doubles you over with a direct punch to the guts and leaves you with a hangover for the next week? Well, take that book and imagine it Hulks out and goes  “HULK SMASH!!!!!!!!” all over your insides and leaves your heart in a bleeding mass of destroyed emotions….that’s Nevernight.

I had Jay Kristoff’s first book of The Nevernight Chronicles on my TBR list for quite a while. I’m not sure what took me so long to get to it, but when I did, I went in completely blind. I didn’t read the description or reviews or anything. The cover was enough for me! So, I grabbed a copy, FINALLY, and began. Then….

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When I picked myself back up off the floor, I found myself in the midst of a raging book hangover. Mia Corvere is just fabulous. She is dangerous and flawed and angry and prideful and she uses swears in all the best ways. Kristoff creates a character that moves a smoothly as the shadows she collects to herself. She is able to dance easily around in this violently beautiful way. You think, “Oh no. She’s too much. Too rough. There is no way I will like this girl.” But then suddenly you love her and you don’t quite know when it happens.

This book is definitely in the grimdark genre and is not for the faint of heart. But Mia is an antihero who is at once hard as granite and so utterly breakable. She is as bright as she is strong with an affinity for poisons and their antidotes. Mia is touched by magic in a way she does not understand. She is a darkling and can control shadows – which can be difficult in a world where it is… never night.

Every good fantasy needs a sidekick. Mr. Kindly may possibly be my favorite. He is snarky in all the right places, supportive and encouraging, mysterious, and intriguing. His presence allows for some pretty good humor – as does the ingenious narrator. A book that can genuinely make me laugh will always be a winner.

Downside – “the sexy bits” as Kristoff calls them. Granted, there are not too many – but for me, way too graphic.

Rated R – for violence, sexual situations and language 

Totally worth a read and all the ravaged emotions!

  Amazon:  Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle)

Kindle 9.99

Hardback (used) from 8.10

Paperback(used) from 5.25

“You’ve already read it!” You say!? No problem! Here are some similar options! (Click on any title to check it out on amazon!)

Titanborn by Rhett Bruno

May 18, 2018: Update on this post!!!

Rhett Bruno has recently published his first fantasy novel with a co-author! I’m really excited about it – Web of Eyesthe first book in The Buried Goddess Saga


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Titanborn

by Rhett Bruno

This fun new space drama/thriller, Titanborn by writer, Rhett Bruno, was published this year by Hydra (an imprint of Random House – not the evil organization trying to take over the world and destroy S.H.I.E.L.D….you’re safe folks). Mr. Bruno kindly gifted me a copy in return for an honest review. And I am so honored that he did!

Malcolm Graves is a bounty hunter employed by one of the ruling corporations in the known galaxy. Earth has been crippled by a meteorite and colonies of humans have taken to the stars. Now – 300 years later – two major corporations vie for the top of the hierarchy while people born on and off Earth are mere pawns in their games. Malcolm lives in a world of his own. Hopping from planet to planet and looking for the next assignment that will get him paid.

Unfortunately for Graves, the powers that be see fit to pair the veteran with a new partner, a Cogent. Graves, who has worked mostly on his own his entire career, is extremely unhappy about the new arrangement and more than a little curious about the corporations newest recruits. With the new partner, Zhaff, comes the frustrations Graves expected, some perks he didn’t, but also more questions than he could have anticipated and more answers than he wants.

Graves is mostly reliable, if not a bit on the grumpy side. Flawed and, for the most part, honest about it.  Zhaff is an interesting character to read. He is a rigid rule-follower where Malcolm is a loose, moved-by-his-gut loner. A by-the-book rookie who is young, strong and extremely intelligent, Zhaff is a thorn in Grave’s side.

I thought this was a really fun read. I was surprised in all the right places. When I finished the novel, I was so stunned that I immediately emailed Mr. Bruno and tried to express my immediate “feels” – so many!!!! But I don’t do spoilers!

What I do like to do —-interview the author! Here are a few questions for Rhett:

SR: When did you start your first novel? 4115521
RB: My first novel was actually a fantasy epic called ISINDA that I started writing at 15 or 16. It’s hard to remember which, but that was the first time I decided to try putting together an actual story,
SR: Is your favorite genre to read sci-fi? What do you like about writing science fiction? 
RB: It is. I actually didn’t really discover sci-fi until college, and I think that’s what turned me into the writer I am today. High school never really pushes you to read what you’re interested in, so I lost faith in reading for a long time. I love the imagination involved. I can never get into contemporary fiction because I live in that world, but scifi takes familiar things and pushes them to extraordinary limits. I suppose that’s what I love most about it. As far in the future as it takes us, good, relevant scifi draws from current events in a way that makes you think.
SR: What was your favorite book as a kid – say around 10 or 11? 
RB: At that age, I have to say it was some Merlin book series about a wizard. I honestly can’t even remember what it’s called, maybe simply MERLIN, but I do remember absolutely loving the books.
SR: What is your favorite part about the writing process? Least favorite? 
RB: Finishing it. There’s nothing better than typing END at the bottom of a manuscript. Of course there’s still a ton of editing and work to do, but the satisfaction is real. Least favorite has to be getting stuck. I’m a perfectionist, so I can’t keep writing and save a part I couldn’t figure out for later, so I obsess over it until I can make it work. Being a better outliner might help…
SR: If you could choose any fantasy/sci-fi world to live in, which one would it be? 
RB: That’s tough because so many are pretty deadly ha. I’d have to say Star Wars. No world has ever captured my imagination like it, and the chance at having the force + the ability to travel between planets seamlessly is tough to deny.
SR: Do you have any words of advice to offer beginning writers? 
RB: Yes. Don’t make the same mistake I did early on. Keep reading! Try to focus on the genre you want to write in and you’ll learn a ton. Another bit of advice, don’t forget about editing. To me, it’s the largest determining factor in wanting to be traditional published vs. self published. Good editing is expensive, and not every publisher has good ones on staff. Publishing a book in the best possible condition is a team effort. Send your MS out to betas and friends, get feedback. One set of eyes is never enough to determine if a story works.
SR: Can you give us a little blurb about your Circuit series? 
RB: Sure. On the outside this is an epic space opera rife with space-battles, but the heart of The Circuit Series is it’s flawed characters. This is a story about how their lives intertwine in unexpected ways, taking each of the four POV characters to places they never thought they’d go. These are broken people who have lost someone or something, and long for it back. In the end, The Circuit is about them coming to grips with their fates within the backdrop of a terrible war caused by one man’s blind lust for vengeance.
SR: What is your current favorite book? 

RB: It’s a tough call, but out of anything I’ve read in recent years I think it still has to be THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss. He’s just such an incredible writer, and a lot of reading for me is research.

Thank you, Mr. Bruno for sharing your book with me.

You can follow Rhett C. Bruno on goodreads and on insta @rcbruno44!

** Check out a new addition to the Titan universe!

Tell the Wolves I’m Home

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Carol Rifka Brunt’s  debut novel Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a brilliantly beautiful and haunting story of June. June is in her early teens in the 1980’s and loses her beloved uncle to AIDS when the disease is only beginning to come to light. This story focuses on relationships between siblings and across generations in a way that echos through the reader in personal and moving ways. Even though this novel is realistic fiction, there is a magic between the pages that some fantasy novels never quite reach. This is a magnificent read that will grasp your heart and will not easily let go.

(Realistic Fiction  rated: PG-13: for adult situations and content)  This is definitely an adult novel. Not only does it deal with adult situations, but the themes, lessons and emotional content will not be appreciated by younger audiences.

 

NOTE: IF YOU CHOOSE TO READ FURTHER —– SPOILERS!!!!!

One of the criticisms of Brunt’s novel has been the relationship suggested between June and her uncle.  Many readers have been disturbed by the fact that June alludes to being in love with her sophisticated artist uncle, Finn. While I do think that this is partially the case, I don’t think that her “being in love” with Finn is the point of the presence of that element to the story.

June is a fourteen year old girl who has a very tumultuous relationship with her older sister, Greta, and whose parents are pretty absent from day-to-day affairs, much less so from deep emotional issues that June may be facing. While Greta and June’s parents have a jaded, cynical attitude about life and are embittered by jealous, June sees beauty and light in most things. Including Finn and his partner Toby. Perhaps more importantly, Finn and Toby see the wonder and beauty in June that she herself feels distances and separates her from her nuclear family.

While it may seem that June has a “crush” on Finn, and later maybe Toby, it seems far more likely that in her youth and naivite, June is actually learning what true, deep unconditional love really looks like. She feels little love or warmth from her parents and she receives the brunt of Greta’s anger and jealousy more than her affection, which leads to the conclusion that the love and attention that Finn showers on June exposes her to something she has never felt before and can’t quite identify. Finn accepts her for who she is, exposes her to art and the more subtle beauties in the world around them. He encourages her love for fantasy and pretend and does not judge. Finn gives her a place and a sense of being and importance in the world that June does not feel elsewhere.

And then he is gone. June feels Finn’s loss like the loss of a limb. But when Toby comes along and she begins to understand who he is and what he meant to Finn, what he now means to June, it becomes more clear that June’s crush seems more of a beginning  understanding of what it means to truly love someone. Not romantically – but in all aspects and without jealousy or judgement. So what a fourteen year old girl mistakes for a crush, isn’t so much a disturbing romantic love, but that of a loved girl learning to accept love and return it wholeheartedly and with all of herself.