Saturday Book Review: “The Conversations We Never Had”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Midwest Book Review:

the conversations we never had jeffrey konis

The Conversations We Never Had

by Jeffrey H. Konis

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478767299

Synopsis*:

This is the dream of a grandson, who had taken his grandmother for granted, to have a second chance, the opportunity to learn about his family from the only person in the world who knew them, who remembered them. My father remembers nothing about his real parents for they were dead by the time he was nine. Olga, his mother’s younger sister, survived the Holocaust, found my father hiding on a farm in Poland and later brought him to America to raise as her own. He never asked her any questions about his parents. Though I later moved in with Olga for a period of time, I repeated history and never asked her the questions my father never asked. Olga has been gone for more than twenty years, along with everything she could have told me, leaving me with a sense of guilt and profound regret. The Conversations We Never Had is a chronicle of my time spent with Grandma “Ola” and tells the stories she might have shared had I asked the questions.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Critique:

The Conversations We Never Had is about the regrets of a son who wishes he’d probed more of his family history while its elders were still able to tell him about the past; but it doesn’t end with the burial of his Grandmother Olga, the last person to have known his father’s Holocaust experiences in Europe.

Instead, it blossoms into an investigation of what was, a realization of what could have been, and a family history that incorporates not only conversations made; but those which should have taken place.

How did the family matriarch make the kinds of decisions that would allow her family to survive, adopting and bringing her nephew (the author’s father) to a new country? How did his father survive under impossible conditions, and how did she find him after the war to bring him to a new life? The author’s regrets of not asking the right questions, only to piece together truths from a patchwork of possibilities decades later, is wonderfully portrayed: “Grandma Ola was the only person in the world who could give me some insight into my father, what he was like as a child, a son – to an extent – as a student, though I knew he must have been exceptional in this regard, given that he overcame a language barrier, simultaneously learning English and the sciences, among his other courses; he did this successfully enough to go to medical school. And yet I never had an in-depth conversation with Grandma about my dad and, for the life of me, I have no idea why I didn’t. At least I could, and did, ask my father these questions as I navigated my way through the biased nature of his responses, to get as much truth as possible.”

Many Holocaust family stories come from the horse’s mouth in the form of reminiscences of parents and grandparents translated through the memories and notes of their descendants. Jeffrey H. Konis adds a new twist to this approach in covering not only the conversations that took place; but those which were unsaid.

As he surveys issues of Jewish livelihood and independence (among many other subjects), Konis comes to realize the forces that shaped and led to his career and life choices, and brings readers into a world enlightened by these discussions of Jewish heritage past and how they were passed down and, in turn, translated into life decisions made by future generations.

The precise links between these translations and applications past to present are enhanced by the author’s introspective assessments of what is presented to him, and what it means for his own life: “If I couldn’t find a Jewish girl to marry, the selection would be greatly enhanced were I to allow myself to marry someone who converted. But what about everything Grandma was just telling me, that even one who has converted is still not the same as one who was brought up Jewish? It made me think of something my dad once said about Grandma Ola. He told me that, yes, she had raised him like a son, but she wasn’t his mother. He said it wasn’t the same.”

The result is more than another Holocaust survival story: it’s a perceptive and examining survey of how ideals, thoughts, traditions and culture are handed down in families, surveying the types of questions asked and those left unsaid, and their impact.

Readers of Holocaust literature and biography will find themselves drawn to the family and personalities surrounding Jeffrey H. Konis and will be particularly delighted to understand how Jewish traditions and family messages helped him shape his own decision-making process.

reviewed by Diane C. Donovan of Midwest Book Review ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

Jeffrey Konis’ book “The Conversations We Never Had” was a beautiful reflection of a man’s relationship with his ailing grandmother’s sister, who acted as his grandmother throughout his life. Over many conversations, Konis was able to tease out memories of her life and upbringing in pre-WW2 Germany, as the spectre of Nazism started to overtake Germany, with all of the horrors that entailed. These stories helped Jeffrey better understand his grandmother and her sister, as well as his father’s temperament, which was enlightening. “The Conversations We Never Had” highlights the importance of talking with our elders before it is too late, to gain some of their wisdom and to hear the stories which shaped their lives and personalities. It was a lovely tribute to Konis’ forebears, and I would love to read it again.

– Amazon Reviewer Janelle Collins

They were of a generation that longed to forget, that shied away from discussing the horrors inflicted upon their people, and hardly, if ever, voluntarily offered up stories around the Sunday dinner table.Talking about such a painful time brought back the pain. So it is no wonder that Konis’ grandmother, Ola, pushed on with her life, loved her family and chose to live for the day and remain silent on her past and how the Holocaust tore her family apart. Inevitably, though, the author comes to realize and deeply regret the missed opportunity to have those telling conversations about the Holocaust with Ola when she passes away. Konis, however, bases many of the conversations in the book on fact, having a vital resource in his father, who was 9 years old when the Nazis invaded his town. It is a fascinating read and I was quickly drawn in by his depiction of Ola’s youth, her sister and her father. The book certainly makes one stop and think and regret those lost opportunities and conversations with our elders.

– Amazon Reviewer Pamela J.


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Saturday Book Review: “The Thundering Herd: Farm Life in the 1950’s and 60’s”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Midwest Book Review:

the thundering herd farm life john e peltier

The Thundering Herd:
Farm Life in the 1950’s and 60’s;
Looking Through the Lens of Duty in Vietnam.

by John E. Peltier

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478765332

Synopsis*:

These stories begin with brief family histories that bring the Peltier and the Scottish Keillor families together. John was the fifth of the twelve children that Wilburn and Barbara Peltier raised on the flat salt grass prairie of Southeast Texas after they married. The life they created for their family on their rice farm and cattle ranch provided fertile ground for the life experiences that are shared in these settings. At the age of nineteen, naive and fresh from the farm, John was drafted into the U.S. Army.

After surviving boot camp and medical corpsman training, he found himself in Vietnam. John used his time in the military and its experiences as the backdrop to describe life growing up. Writing this book intensified the realization of the valuable life lessons that his family and the farm and ranch taught him. After mustering out of the Army in January of 1969, he settled back into civilian life and finished his education.

Disaster struck in 1969 when his father suddenly died of a heart attack at the age of 54, leaving five of his siblings still at home and all without a father. He discovered the two earthy loves of his live – his wife Janie and the vocation of construction – at the same time and place. As a result, Janie and John have a beautiful family and he birthed Peltier Brothers Construction, a company which has provided a great livelihood not only for him and four of his brothers, but for nephews down into the next generation. Both Janie and the company also taught him lessons he never expected to learn. Those stories, plus an incident with the fangs of a deadly rattlesnake and a light essay on grass and water, are included in this book.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Critique:

5.0 out of 5 stars — Nice summer read!

Regretting the loss of family history at the passing of his father, John Peltier set out on a personal journey to preserve the legacy of his family by penning “The Thundering Herd: Farm Life in the 1950’s and 60’s; Looking Through the Lens of Duty in Vietnam”. This series of memoirs spanning his early family history in the 1600’s to the present day is best described as extraordinary in its ordinariness. Once the early roots are established through family lore in the first two chapters, the contemporary Peltier family stories switch back and forth between childhood memories and current (Vietnam war) era events. Not unlike Forrest Gump, you join the Peltier family as they go through life experiencing from a personal perspective events such as Hurricane Carla, the Vietnam war, and the rearing of the next generations through both lean and prosperous times. In this day when everyone has their nose in technology, it provides a warm reflection of what life was like for families growing up in rural Texas in the 50s and 60s when kids would leave their homes and not come back until dinner time and parents did not have to worry that someone would take them.

reviewed by Dr. Eileen R. Garza of Midwest Book Review ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

A thoughtful, well-written, at times entertaining and educational, book illustrating basic family values that survive specific times or wars. It illustrates the best of American farm life and the kind of citizens it can produce.

This book is also another view of the Vietnam War, showing the human side of the country from a young solder’s point of view. His stories and photos illustrate things that the U.S. Army did to help the Vietnamese people, even the families of the enemy Viet Cong, that the public has not always been made aware. Especially interesting is the section on the author’s visit to the orphanage of the children born to U.S. soldiers. The children were sadly ostracized.

– Amazon Reviewer Amazon Customer

Regretting the loss of family history at the passing of his father, John Peltier set out on a personal journey to preserve the legacy of his family by penning “The Thundering Herd”. This series of memoirs spanning his early family history in the 1600’s to the present day is best described as extraordinary in its ordinariness. Once the early roots are established through family lore in the first two chapters, the contemporary Peltier family stories switch back and forth between childhood memories and current (Vietnam war) era events. Not unlike Forrest Gump, you join the Peltier family as they go through life experiencing from a personal perspective events such as Hurricane Carla, the Vietnam war, and the rearing of the next generations through both lean and prosperous times. In this day when everyone has their nose in technology, it provides a warm reflection of what life was like for families growing up in rural Texas in the 50s and 60s when kids would leave their homes and not come back until dinner time and parents did not have to worry that someone would take them.

– Amazon Reviewer E. Garza


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Saturday Book Review: “That Weekend in Albania”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Midwest Book Review:

that weekend in albania peter meehan

That Weekend in Albania: A Road Trip to Intrigue in the Balkans

by Peter J. Meehan

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478777090

Synopsis*:

An expatriate family takes a road trip to visit Albania’s historical sites, two months after 9/11 in the only Muslim country in Europe. Despite its historical location at the crossroads between Rome and Greece, Albania is still largely avoided by tourists—the country’s Stalinist past and reputation for money laundering in support of terrorism limits interest, but there are investment opportunities for multinationals.

Tony is working as a manager for a Vienna-based company that is having issues in a contract area near the Kosovo border. Drug and weapon trafficking persist in the former Yugoslavian province’s frontier despite a peace settlement having been reached. Tony hopes this weekend outing will convince his wife that a Mediterranean lifestyle is possible in Europe’s poorest country, and that it might restore some good will with his teenage daughter, who is visiting from a Vienna boarding school. The trip will be their first overnight stay outside the capital, but unbeknownst to him when he is informally asked by his consulate to note any illegalities en route, their destination is now a regional Albanian mafia centre. When Tony’s diplomatic contact becomes an Albanian mafia target, and the organisation hires a hit man to eliminate their problem, the expat suspects his sense of adventure is misplaced, and that dire consequences are still a possibility while the country attempts to modernise.

As Tony tries to deal with family and work issues while travelling across classic ruins and remnants of Albania’s heritage as a Christian bastion prior to four hundred years of Ottoman rule, the conflict to control the growing underground economy heats up. He and his family witness the nearly unknown Mediterranean coast road’s natural beauty, but the remains of an ancient past, and the consequences of the more recent brutal military dictatorship, continue to confront them.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Critique:

That Weekend in Albania is a thoroughly researched and well-written work of travel fiction introducing Albania to readers interested in adventurous travel. Peter J. Meehan presents this fascinating Balkan country through two perspectives – an ex-pat family’s, and that of Albanian entrepreneurs trying to create prosperity in a post-Communist world. The family must cope with issues such as midlife crisis and parent-child relations in a context of culture shock, separation, language barriers and an unfamiliar environment. The businessmen do not hesitate to use questionable means to achieve their ends, within a framework of recent conflict and ancient loyalties. Several thriller-like episodes, featuring fast cars on bad roads, furnish jolts of excitement. Altogether, this book is an interesting and informative vicarious journey through a new and unfamiliar country.

reviewed by Audrey Driscoll of Midwest Book Review ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

At first I thought that I wanted to keep reading T.W.I.A. because it revived memories of when I visited Peter in Tirana. Later, I realized that I wanted to keep reading because this is a very good, entertaining story. His geographical, cultural and historical descriptions are accurate, his characters real. I’m looking forward to Peter’s next book.Given his life around the world I’m guessing that he’ll have lots to tell.

– Amazon Reviewer Keith James

Well researched and full of detailed information on a largely unknown country. Added perspecies from foreigners and Albanians make for an interesting read. The fictional story of crime keeps the pace going between a story of a father daughter relationship. Highly recommended.

– Amazon Reviewer Amazon Customer


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Saturday Book Review: “Yasu’s Quest: A Tale of Triumph”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Midwest Book Review:

yasu's quest diane dettmann

Yasu’s Quest: A Tale of Triumph

by Diane Dettmann

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478755791

Synopsis:

In this skillfully woven coming-of-age story, Yasu Sakamoto continues her journey that began in Dettmann’s award-winning book, Courageous Footsteps: A WWII Novel. Yasu’s Quest: A Tale of Triumph carries readers into the next phase of Yasu Sakamoto’s life so smoothly that the book can be read independently or as a sequel.

With a keen sense for detail, author Diane Dettmann skillfully draws readers into an engaging story about an unexpected friendship that develops between Yasu Sakamoto and Martha Annala, a university professor. When they first meet on a train headed to Minneapolis, Yasu is afraid to trust Martha with any information about her past and lies about her identity to protect herself and her family. Alone and with no place to go, Yasu eventually tells Martha about leaving her home in Glenville and the three years she spent imprisoned in the internment camp. Martha feels Yasu’s pain and opens her heart and home to her.
As the war intensifies anti-Japanese attitudes escalate in America and the hostility runs rampant. Martha’s decision to befriend Yasu ultimately creates hardships and challenges in her own life. Relationships with university colleagues become strained, but Martha remains committed to her friendship with Yasu. Negative looks and anti-Japanese comments surround Yasu everywhere she goes. She deeply misses her parents, her brother, Haro, and Kenta, her loving German shepherd, but knows she must push forward.

Critique:

How can an eighteen-year-old girl escape from a U.S. internment camp for the Japanese that has been heavily and successfully guarded for three years? The opening of Yasu’s Quest, continues the saga begun in Courageous Footsteps, which observed the pre-camp life and early internment of the Sakamoto family. Familiarity with this prior novel will lend a special appreciation for this powerful sequel, which goes in a different direction as it outlines Yasu’s choices.

The Sakamotos have been devastated by the war as much or more so than any other American family (“How can this be happening? First my son dies in combat, then my daughter disappears and now my husband’s in jail.”). Yasu’s escape is just one more trial they have to bear in an impossibly changed world; and as for Yasu herself – how can she hide when her Japanese heritage gives her away?

Her journey to Minneapolis results in a chance encounter and an unexpectedly friendly face, and her life changes. Yasu and Martha each confront their changing world with innovative survival techniques that provide insights into both the larger issues of domestic World War II and its daily challenges (“With sugar rationing still on, women often use beer for setting their hair. So I gave it a try. Seems to work and I just put it in the refrigerator and use it over and over until it’s gone. Sometimes even spit works.”).

Diane Dettmann’s careful attention to focusing on both aspects of this world and both bigger and smaller pictures of changed lives makes for a far more thoughtful, detailed inspection than most World War II accounts provide, creating a series of insights based on Yasu’s evolving experiences in college and the family’s life as the war draws to a close.

The contrast between a young woman making her way in this changed world and a family on the edge of return to a world both familiar and alien makes for a riveting story line that clearly reveals the difficulties of the times: “Even the letters to the editor were filled with vicious comments about preventing the Japanese Americans from returning to their homes. Mr. Sakamoto folded up the paper and tucked it in his suitcase. His joyful thoughts of returning home were replaced with fear and anxiety.”

Will the family reunite, and how will they pick up the pieces of shattered lives and rebuild, along with the rest of America? One woman’s act of kindness could change all their lives. Yasu’s Quest neatly covers issues of loss, grief, recovery, and acts of kindness as it presents a journey that ultimately transcends the forces of division and injustice pummeling the Japanese family.

While teens will be the likely readers of this novel, many an adult will find that Yasu’s Quest holds perspectives and details that are as enlightening as they are involving. It, along with its companion, are thus highly recommended picks for any reader interested in a powerful, ultimately hopeful, view of World War II’s lasting effects on the Japanese in America.

 

reviewed by Diane Donovan of Midwest Book Review ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

I have been waiting for the sequel to Courageous Footsteps – which I couldn’t put down! What a great novel with important historical references, but also developed characters that I could relate to. Thank you Diane! A must read!

– Amazon Reviewer Kelly McNelis

Love this book…fast read…held your interest…hard to put it down!

– Amazon Reviewer Karen Grossaint


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Saturday Book Review: “Courageous Footsteps: A WWII Novel”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Midwest Book Review:

Courageous Footsteps: A WWII Novel diane dettmann

Courageous Footsteps: A WWII Novel

by Diane Dettmann

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478755586

Synopsis:

PACIFIC RIM BOOK FESTIVAL WINNER!

Courageous Footsteps is a historical novel about two teenagers, Yasu and Haro Sakamoto, who, along with their family, are imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp in eastern California during WWII. Surrounded by barbwire fences, Yasu and her brother struggle to make sense out of their young lives. They long to return to the life they enjoyed in Glenville, California, but instead are forced to endure hardships and make choices that will change their lives forever. Awarded runner-up in the Great Midwest Book Festival in the young adult category, this piece of America’s history is an informative, eye-opening read for adults too.

Critique:

The majority of novels about World War II are directed to adult audiences, but Courageous Footsteps is a story for teens and presents the experiences of Yasu and Haro Sakamoto, who are removed (along with their family) from their Glenville, California home and interred in a concentration camp.

All ages will find Courageous Footsteps a gripping, eye-opening approach, for several reasons. One is its ability to provide a stark contrast between the comfortable, middle-class American lifestyle experienced by the family at the novel’s opening with life behind barbed wire fences after they are removed from their home.

Few other novels, adult or teen, so adequately portray the emotions, daily experiences, and struggles of the Japanese during this period of time. From the moment Pearl Harbor is bombed and war is declared with the Japanese to the President’s orders to take away their lives, Courageous Footsteps progresses swiftly and documents the quick rise of fear and its accompanying prejudice, which place the family in constant danger and flux.

Nearly overnight, the Sakamotos become enemies of the people and are attacked, beaten, and maligned by strangers who only see their Japanese faces and not their American identities. Their personal possessions (radios, guns, cameras, binoculars) are confiscated by the Army in the name of national security, the family is forced to do the best it can under prison conditions, and camp regulations take over their formerly-free lives.

How does a family stay together and preserve their shattered dreams under such conditions? Courageous Footsteps is as much a story of this survival process as it is a documentation of one girl’s evolving determination to escape this impossible life and resume her dreams.

Teens and new adult audiences alike will find Courageous Footsteps evocative, compelling, and hard to put down.

reviewed on Donovan’s Bookshelf of Midwest Book Review ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

Book really made me think about what these American born Japanese American citizens went thru at the hands of our government. How sad the way they were treated. This book evolves the characters so well with just enough info about them and not so much that you get bogged down with their personalities. Just a marvelous book that gives so much insight into what the Nisei’s went thru. How they worked so hard to build their lives and then to have it taken away and have them herded into these camps, how badly they were treated and how awful the conditions. OMG I admire and respect them for their perseverance and how they all worked together and were so respectful of their parents. Haro worked hard and applied himself and fought hard for this country after how badly he was treated. It was a different time…you won’t find many kids today with this kind of respect for their parents nor their work ethic. Just an amazing and enlightening book! Can’t wait for the sequel!

– Amazon Reviewer Karen Grossaint

The internment of Japanese Americans during WWII is a period of history which I was not familiar with. I had read magazine articles but they only touched the surface. Ms. Dettmann’s book is a real eye opener! I had no clue what my fellow Japanese Americans faced and the atrocities they lived through! While this book is a historical fiction novel, I had to continually remind myself of just that. The author’s extraordinary writing skills made it read like a true story. The characters and their experiences seemed so real.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese were rounded up and arrested like common criminals. They were forced in to camps against their will and remained there until the end of the war. The reader follows the painful journey the Sakomoto family through the eyes of their teenage daughter Yasu. They were law-abiding American citizens in 1941. They owned a small business in Glenville, California. Being a close knit family, they had a deep love for one another and their country. The quiet, peaceful life they had known changed quickly after the bombing. Persecution from fellow townspeople and even friends was immediate and harsh. Their lives became endangered in the very area and by the people that had been a part of their happiness.

My heart broke for young Yasu. Being a teenager is hard enough, but to face adolescence with such rejection and hostility was excruciating. Her sweet family continued to trust their country and government right up to their arrests. The gentle humble spirits of the Japanese were a great contrast as to how most Americans would have responded to this extreme discrimination.

I had no clue the camp conditions were so degrading and horrific. My first thought was about the concentration camps of the Jews. These camps were not as severe as Hitler’s, but they were shocking. There was filth, crowding, squalid living conditions, poor food, such as I would never have dreamed could take place in America. The author took me into the camp, to walk daily with the Sakamotos, living their experiences and allowing my heart of feel their emotions.

Though each era had different details, I saw a common thread running through history in the injustice toward other groups: the slavery of African Americans, the Chinese in the early 1900’s, the Jews, and the Japanese. People that had done no wrong but were victims of fear and misunderstanding.

I do disagree with this being labeled as a “young adult fiction”. This book is for teens and adults too! A must read for all! Watch for a sequel!

– Amazon Reviewer Moonpie

 AUTHOR INTERVIEW


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Saturday Book Review: “50 Things Your Kids Don’t Want To Tell You”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Midwest Book Review:

50 Things Your Kids Don't Want to Tell You by Shelly Campbell-Harley

50 Things Your Kids Don’t Want to Tell You

by Shelly Campbell-Harley

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478773627

Synopsis:

Shelly Campbell-Harley has a Master’s in Education and has had dozens of articles published online and offline, including The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, where one of her articles was included in TOS magazine’s Best of the Best 2013 special publication. Shelly has been involved with young people in many different facets over the past two decades, including that of teaching, educational consultant, youth group leader/director, and working with youth in a rehabilitation environment. She is currently teaching at-risk youth in an innovative charter school program in southern California. 50 Things Your Kids DON’T Want To Tell You is a compilation of valuable insights gleaned from young people aged 10-19 whom Shelly has encountered and wanted to share with parents and other adults who work with young people. It is an eye-opening experience for many who are curious as to what is going on in the lives and minds of our youth today. It was written with the purpose of opening the lines of communication between adults and young people, as well as promoting more positive relationships. 50 Things Your Kids DON’T Want To Tell You is a fascinating, scary, and realistic read that will awaken your mind and shake up your impression of how well you think the youth of today are living. With the rise of teenage suicide rates and school shootings, this book may be the beginning of an important connection needed to bridge that gap of communication while helping our young people see that they are being heard and understood. Get your copy today and make a positive change in a child you know!

Critique:

50 Things Your Kids DON’T Want To Tell You is comprised of five chapters:

  1. Family Relationships
    2. Personal Choices
    3. School: The Stage
    4. Legal: Crossing Lines
    5. Sex: No Plan

After each chapter, author Shelly Campbell-Harley has a ‘Reflection Page’. This is where you may list your thoughts about what you’ve read. Here, you may use free thought, mind mapping, or whatever method you deem necessary to lead to possible truths.

There isn’t any commentary on the 50 Things and it’s supposed to be that way. The book was meant to help you to think critically (deeply, not negatively) about whether or not your offspring is struggling with some of the mentioned issues. If 50 Things brings you and young to a point where a nonjudgmental conversation can be broached, then, the book will have well-earned your bucks.

Perhaps, a resource section would have been good though.

Shelly Campbell-Harley is the author of over a dozen educational articles and has written several children’s books, as well as a book on leadership. She has a Master’s in education and has been teaching for over 20 years. When Shelly is not writing, teaching, or spending time with family and friends, she enjoys reading, crafting, and spending time outdoors.

 

reviewed by Ginae McDonald of Midwest Book Review ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

Shelly Campbell Harley understands the most important thing about getting your teen to open up and talk to you, the parent, about what’s going on with their lives. And that is listening. Not interrogating, but rather inviting your child to share with you, and responding in a way that allows for them to feel safe in their sharing. The key to get them to take you up on this invitation could be unlocked in this simple book. Forever grateful to Shelly Campbell Harley.

– Amazon Reviewer S. Brown

I loved this book. I back and bought multiple copies after reading it, and gave to family, friends and co-workers. This book really opens your eyes to the different situations that might be or could be going on in your own child’s life or possibly a friends child or a family member’s child. I am very happy with this purchase and recommend this book to everyone.

– Amazon Reviewer Amazon Customer


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Saturday Book Review: “Still Marching On”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Midwest Book Review.

Still Marching On Lynda Stephenson

Still Marching On

by Lynda Stephenson

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478771982

Synopsis:

Frankilee Baxter is back! And she is as sassy and resolute as ever. In Still Marching On, Miss Baxter aspires to participate in the Civil Rights Movement, become editor of the Athena College newspaper, and marry Calvin Morris-and odds are, she’ll make her dreams come true with sheer force of personality. A witty young woman with nerve and verve, Frankilee is in no way the traditional Southern sorority girl, which brings disappointment and alarm to her family, as well as shock and dismay to Calvin’s parents. With humor and heart, this highly anticipated third novel by award-winning author Lynda Stephenson depicts the triumphs and the failures of a plucky girl determined not only to stand against the Southern customs she loathes but also to marry the man she loves.
“Here is the story of the irrepressible Frankilee Baxter, who, while she may be a disappointment to the 1960s down-south establishment, will fight to the end for life and liberty, and all that she believes in. I loved it.”
-Carolyn Wall, author of Sweeping Up Glass and Playing with Matches

Critique:

A resolute college student rails against discrimination and injustice in the South in this third novel in the Frankilee Baxter series by Stephenson (The Southern Chapter of the Big Girl Panties Club, 2013, etc.).

Frankilee is well known for her steely determination. In previous novels, she helped save a girl from abusive parents, and dealt with burglary, kidnapping, a shooting, and heated racial issues – all taken in stride as part of her formative years.

In quieter moments, she continued her fervent hunt for a steady boyfriend. The third installment opens in 1960 with Frankilee transferring from Athena College in San Antonio to the University of Texas in Austin, along with her black roommate, Eleanor Wilson. Although the university is deemed to be integrated, they are met immediately with racial hatred. A landlady turns the two away screaming, “What do you mean, bringing this nigra girl to my front door?” They are pelted with tomatoes by fellow students who tell Eleanor to “go back to Africa” and hurl vicious insults at Frankilee. The women are rescued by Calvin Morris, Frankilee’s old basketball coach and love interest, setting the tone for the remainder of the story: a blend of endearingly quirky romance and determined resistance to Southern bigotry.

Choosing to return to the expensive Athena against her mother’s advice, Frankilee pushes to become an integral part of the civil rights movement, and attempts to gain a voice in the institution by becoming the editor of the college newspaper, her relationship with Calvin developing all the while. Stephenson possesses the rare ability to make a reader want to actively root for the protagonist. Frankilee is political, stubborn, and fiery, but she is also loyal, witty, and warm. It is difficult not to fall in love with her.

Despite excavating the abhorrent and often nonsensical nature of racism, the novel displays an effervescent humor and offers some delicious caricatures: “Mr. Hatham is a banty-rooster of a man with reddish hair carefully combed to hide no hair. He has an inflated chest and prancing feet.” This elegant and intuitive writing, loaded with wisdom and charm, is prevalent throughout. The book delivers an astute examination of American race and gender politics, with a generous serving of love and laughter.

In this compelling and insightful tale, a strong Texas heroine passionately advocates civil rights.

reviewed on the Reviewer’s Bookwatch of Midwest Book Review ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

Another outstanding book by Lynda Stephenson. Great character development, and very authentic to the period. If you were a college student during the 1960’s you can really identify with the subjects dealt with in this book. The civil rights movement, the freedom riders, the limited professional opportunities for women college graduates, and the predetermined expectations of parents for their children, especially girls. Frankilee, the main character, takes on all these issues with wit, humor, passion, and, yes, her rebellious ways. Ms. Stephenson’s previous book in the Frankilee Baxter series focuses on Frankilee’s freshman and sophomore year; in this book the focus is her junior and senior year. She is more mature, more thoughtful, and more concerned about social inequality. She truly grows into adulthood. Obviously, this is a great book for anyone that was a young adult in the 1960’s, but if you have parents or grandparents that lived through that period and you want to know what they experienced and what life was like, then this book is for you. FINALLY, THE BOOK HAS A GREAT ENDING!

– Amazon Reviewer AdaBill

In ‘Marching On,” Frankilee Baxter is fundamentally the same wonderful, perplexing, and often perplexed character that we came to know and love in “Dancing With Elvis” and “The Southern Chapter of the Big Girl Panties Club”. In this third novel of the series, author Lynda Stephenson expands upon the theme of integration as it developed in the 50’s and early 60’s. The struggle for civil rights in the South becomes the central factor in Frankilee’s personal struggle to establish her worth and purpose in life. More than ever, she is an idealist who pays dearly for pursuing social and moral goals that clash with purveyors of deeply entrenched bigotry. Though tempered by her comical girlhood blunders, Frankilee at the same time leads the patient reader down (or up) a primrose path seriously darkened by physical and emotional pain.
Looking for structure, Frankilee attempts to summarize her life in literary terms: as classical comedy, which ends with a wedding, rather than as tragedy, which ends in death. Yet more specifically one might say that her willful suffering bespeaks a more complicated persona than one finds in Jane Austin or Emily Dickinson, two of Frankilee’s heroines.
Nor is Frankilee’s journey deeply tragic in the Shakespearian sense of an uber-complicated Hamlet. Her sacrificial cause is rooted in the powerful utopian dream of idealists such as John Lewis and Martin Luther King, Jr. Buttressed by the somewhat enlightened progressives among her friends and family, her optimistic belief in a more just world seems realistically achievable.
Marching On is the story of a small town girl in the throes of becoming a world class woman. She entertains us with an overlay of buffoonery, but she is defined by her capacity for love, including love for her friends, for her family (no matter how obtuse or obnoxious); for her man, and, most importantly, for the unvarnished Truth, however awkward or undignified that makes her feel. In her own personable way, Frankilee Baxter embodies the correct side of our unfolding history.

– Amazon Reviewer James A. Moore

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