“ParentShift” by Linda and Ty Hatfield and Wendy Thomas Russell

Linda and Ty Hatfield & Wendy Thomas Russell
Brown Paper Press (2019)
ISBN 9781941932100
Reviewed by Rachel Dehning for Reader Views (12/19)

“ParentShift: Ten Universal Truths that Will Change the Way you Raise your Kids” by Linda and Ty Hatfield and Wendy Thomas Russell is one of the newest parenting books on the market. The reason for the book is explained by Russell and resonates with many- when she became a parent, she thought she had it all under control, little did she know that as her child grows, her parenting techniques that were applied at a younger age might not work so well anymore. When this happened, Russell sought the guidance of the Hatfield’s and learns their heart-centered approach to parenting in raising her child.

“ParentShift” is based on scientific facts geared toward how children’s brains are wired and how they respond to different parenting techniques. The acts of the controlling and permissive parents are discussed, then they are compared to the acts of the heart-centered parents, and the difference is obvious; it will leave you dumbfounded as to why you never thought to use this technique in the first place. Self-esteem, emotional needs, perception, motivation, responses, developmental stages, temperament, independence, limits and boundaries, and unmet needs are all issues that are explored and broken down in simple ways to be understood by all.

As a parent, I know how difficult parenting can be. By the end of the day you are tired and want your “me” time, but you still have a child that craves and demands your attention. Techniques and actions provided in the book have given me tips, hope, and alternatives to my parenting style. One of the biggest issues in parenting is respect. What is important is having the ability to step back and determine if you are speaking to your children the way you would like to be spoken to by another adult, or if you am belittling them and robbing them of a chance of making decisions and thinking on their own, both skills needed to become successful adults.

Other facts, such as the ten universal truths described in the book make total sense when they are written out, and show how if we, as parents, are able to change up our game plans, we can help our children feel unconditionally loved, needed, and able to develop high self-esteem and resilience for whatever lies in their future. I have already implemented some suggestions from the book, and I feel a better connection with my children. Their behavior has changed for the better as well. “ParentShift” is a definite must-read for all parents!

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“Martha” by Maggie St. Claire

Maggie St. Claire
Independently Published (2019)
ISBN 9781070639574
Reviewed by Rachel Dehning for Reader Views (12/19)

“Martha” by Maggie St. Claire is Ms. St. Claire’s first fictional novel. About an older woman named Martha, the story explores her life and how Martha must confront the unpleasant parts and memories that she has been both hiding and living through. Martha is not a well-off woman, the fact that she must frequently get her food from the food bank, crash wedding receptions to eat a nice dinner, and has been known to sneak a few items here and there from various places should be a good indication of her wealth status. As a child, Martha had a rough upbringing, so was taught to fend for herself and to make the most of any situation. With that in mind, it isn’t much of a surprise that right off the bat, Martha gets herself into a situation where she must decide where her moral compass points. Later, she is asked by her minister to help out a troubled girl with everyday things. Already having a son, Martha knows what it is like to raise a child but having had her son out of the house for many years, and not the best relationship, she must relearn how to care for someone else and to let others into her life. With many secrets, this is difficult for Martha, and unfortunately by helping out this girl, she will be bringing more trouble upon herself than she can imagine.

“Martha” was a fun read, but also one that won’t make you feel all warm and happy throughout the story. “Martha” is more a “real” book, showing real issues that happen among the elderly in our society, happening to her. The issue of poverty and money in general is a large topic for both Martha and many elderlies. For Martha, not having enough money after social security and retirement make her feel like she is justified for her actions, even though there should be another way of living life for her.

Very prideful, Martha doesn’t let her guard down and show who she really is, which was hard for me to read as her audience because I know she should drop her pride and live like she can afford. St. Claire wrote Martha’s character very well and believable, even if the reader wouldn’t have chosen the same actions as she did. The suspense, emotions, and happenings from the characters make you feel like you are there and can relate. The characters range in ages from early adult to people in their seventies, displaying actions from innocence to betrayal, allowing the reader to have a better chance of identifying with the age or deed. I would recommend “Martha” for those who find stories about secrets, betrayal, and the overall survival of life enjoyable.

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"Tenacity" by Ron Coury

Ron Coury
Las Vegas Publishing Group (2019)
ISBN 9781732721012
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (12/19)

“Tenacity: A Vegas Businessman Survives Brooklyn, the Marines, Corruption and Cancer to Achieve the American Dream” is the memoir of author Ron Coury. It’s one of those books in which the truth is indeed stranger than fiction, and I had a marvelous time living vicariously through Ron as I read through all his adventures.

Coury is a former Marine, an entrepreneur and a highly successful businessman in Las Vegas, Nevada. Each chapter of “Tenacity” is almost like a short vignette, featuring an escapade, a memory, a life lesson or one of the many travails Coury encounters, all melding together to create the essence of  what can only be described as a full and colorful life.

Now, I didn’t say, a walk-in-the-park-everything-is-butterflies-and-rainbows type of life – indeed Coury has faced more challenges than most people will ever face and does so with class, dignity and a strong moral code. There are a great many lessons to be learned and appreciated throughout the book: staying true to yourself, never giving up in the face of adversity, learning from your mistakes, believing in yourself, and so on. Coury remains honest, upstanding and determined at times when many would just give up.  The people he encounters in his life are unbelievable, from a guy who fakes an assault by Coury to the incredulous, corrupt city officials of Opportunity, Nevada. One thing I never could quite grasp was the reason behind the city government’s egregious behavior toward Coury. I mean, really people – there comes a time when enough is just enough. As this part of the storyline unraveled I found myself getting more and more upset with the antics pulled by those voted into office to represent the people. I love when an author can evoke such strong feelings from their written words.

Coury does a great job bringing the reality of his experiences to life. He’s a natural born storyteller engaging the reader through lively anecdotes, vulnerability and yes, tenacity.  It’s like you’re having a conversation with the author right in your own living room. While reading, I often found myself thinking what a great fiction writer he would be – even embellishing this already vibrant true story would be amazing!

Overall, I highly recommend “Tenacity” by Ron Coury. This story will appeal to a wide audience. Well done.

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Author Interview – Deedee Cummings – "In the Nick of Time"

In the Nick of Time
Deedee Cummings
Make A Way Media, LLC (2019)
ISBN 9781951218201
Reviewed by Eve Panzer for the Barefoot Librarian and Reader Views Kids (11/2019)

As a therapist, attorney, author, and CEO of Make A Way Media, Deedee Cummings is passionate about passing down the life lessons that were instilled in her mother, Andrea Mast Pecchioni, who passed away in 2003 from breast cancer.  All ten of Cummings’ diverse picture books, poetry books, and workbooks are not only fun for kids and adults to read, they also work to teach coping skills, reinforce the universal message of love, encourage mindfulness, and facilitate inclusion for all.

Cummings has spent more than two decades working within the family therapy and support field and much of her writing shares her experiences of working with kids in therapeutic foster care. As a result, her catalogs of published books for kids are filled with positive, hopeful messages.  Using therapeutic techniques in her stories to teach coping skills, Cummings also strives to lessen the stigma that some people feel when it comes to receiving mental health assistance.

Hi, Deedee! Thank you for joining us today on Reader Views Kids! Tell us about your latest book, “In the Nick of Time.”

This is a story about a little brown boy who saves Christmas. My family loves Christmas, but after years of collecting Christmas books we could not find any more with characters that looked like my children. Also, we never found one that resembled our children with one of our favorite storylines: a child that gets to help Santa save the day. So, I wrote the book I could not find.

Here is an article with more info that was in USA Today

What was your inspiration behind the story?

I wanted my son to see one of our favorite storylines in a book with a character who he could directly relate to. My 10-year-old son Nick is the inspiration for this story.

Tell us about your main character, Nick.  What motivates him? And what about Cooper?

Nick is a fun and fiery kid whose biggest worry is when his next video game will arrive. He is fun, happy, healthy, has all he needs, and loves life. He does not recognize that one of his classmates (Cooper) is homeless and needs help because Nick always thought you could look at a person and tell if they were homeless or not.

What cultural and/or societal lessons will young readers learn about reading “In the Nick of Time”?

Young readers will learn a multitude of lessons:

  • Bullying and choice of words
  • Empathy, compassion and kindness
  • What poverty looks like
  • Service to others
  • What is homelessness and what are shelters

What does your writing process look like?

I am a family therapist and a lot of the stories I write just come to me after I have worked with a client of a family on an issue. I think that the message I have received that day is one that needs to be shared and I sit down and write that message.

How long did it take you to write “In the Nick of Time?”

One day. Of course it was reviewed by others and edited a few times, but because the message had come to me so clearly, I knew exactly what I wanted to say.

How did you find your illustrator, Charlene Mosley?

I had a lot of difficulty finding an illustrator. It is not easy. I met Charlene by chance on Twitter.

Link for more information on Charlene Mosley

What was it like working together to bring your story to life?

It is work. It is not all fun, but it is fun to see it all come to life. It is really miraculous honestly when you find a great illustrator.

What kind of reaction to your writing do you most seek from your reading audience? 

I just want them to think about something that maybe they thought nothing of before. I want them to read my books and reflect on how they can be a more compassionate person, not just to others, but to themselves as well.

What is the biggest challenge writing for a young audience?

Ensuring that the story I write is one that they can relate to, understand, and carry with them- maybe for life.

What do you like to read?

Everything. Books, magazines, articles on the web. I am currently reading The Water Dancer by Ta’Henisi Coates. This book inspired me to buy two more books because I wanted to learn more about the subject, so just today I got in the mail: She Came to Slay and The Underground. I guess I hope my books cause people to do this too. To think long past the time they put the book down and want to continue to learn more.

Which writers have inspired your own work as an author?

Growing up my favorite books were Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown. I loved these books, but I do think I am more inspired now to write books with diverse characters because I really did not have that growing up.

What do you enjoy outside of writing?

Reading! I think that reading makes me a better human. Oh, and I like to play Plants vs. Zombies. Don’t ask me why.

So what’s next? Do you have another story in the works?

Yes, I have seven more books that will be published in 2020 and a seven-part series about a young girl who chases her dreams that I am working on as well. All of these books will move from picture books however, to middle grade and YA.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, about writing or about life in general?

To write. Now. Don’t wait. Just write. Even if it’s not good. Write.

Do you have any advice for aspiring/emerging picture book authors?

Don’t give up. I think it is just very easy to do. There is a way to make your dream happen. It will require time, work, effort, and sacrifice, but if you give up you have lost a dream.

Deedee, thank you so much for joining us today on Reader Views Kids!

Thank you!

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“Bulldog” by Matt McCracken

Matt McCracken
Outskirts Press (2019)
ISBN 9781977206923
Reviewed by Amy C. (age 15) for Reader Views Kids (12/19)

“Bulldog” by Matt McCracken is an exciting and realistic read with a storyline that pulls you in from the first page. Once I started reading I found it very hard to put down.

“Bulldog” is a story about a boy who finds himself in trouble and gets help from the most unlikely source. Bulldog is the nickname for Wayne Nathanial McCarthy. The story opens with Bulldog and his gang of friends in the process of robbing their local hardware store to get items needed for their latest operation – stealing and reselling bicycles. Bulldog gets caught red-handed and the store owner, Mr. Goldstein, threatens to call the police.  Bulldog’s friends flee the scene leaving him to wonder who his friends really are and since he can’t risk being arrested again, agrees to work off the debt. Bulldog learns a lot working for Mr. Goldstein and starts to straighten up his whole life, but will it be enough to graduate, or will he fall back into his old ways?

Bulldog, or Nate (his middle name and one he starts to use) is a tough guy with a bad attitude and combative nature. He’s racist, hating just about every ethnic group there is. His homelife is bad – his mom left several years ago, and his dad is an alcoholic, so Bulldog is pretty much left on his own. Everything is going against him. He’s also failing school but knows he needs to graduate in order to be able to join the Navy and get out of town.

When Bulldog starts working for Mr. Goldstein his life, his attitude, his mannerisms and outlook on everything changes and he gradually turns into the best version of himself. I enjoyed watching his transformational journey.  Mr. Goldstein works him hard, but Bulldog slowly begins to realize and appreciate all of the opportunities that come based on that one moment in the beginning of the story when Mr. Goldstein decides to give him a chance.

One of my favorite parts was when Bulldog looks back at all the work he’s done in the paint area of the hardware store.  Bulldog experiences his first moment of accomplishment and the realization makes him proud of his efforts. He comes a long way from the angry boy he was in the beginning

The author does a good job bringing Bulldog and the other characters to life through a story that is engaging with a genuine vibe. The writing keeps the story exciting and relatable.  I think “Bulldog” by Matt McCracken is a story that will appeal to high schoolers and probably even middle-schoolers.  It’s a great story about overcoming obstacles and learning to value those who are different from you.

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“Three Degrees and Gone” by J. Stewart Willis

J. Stewart Willis
Black Rose Writing (2020)
ISBN 9781684333615
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (12/19)

“Three Degrees and Gone” by J. Stewart Willis is an engaging, thought-provoking story about immigration, the global environment, survival and greed, with twists that are as entertaining as they are alarming – especially when you consider the environmental issues currently facing the world.

Set in 2087, Mother Nature has restructured the layout of North America, with coastal flooding leaving many areas in desolation, the continent as a whole bearing little resemblance to what we know today. The US has become a nation of migrants, everyone looking for a better life, no matter the cost.  Readers follow three families who hire human traffickers to help them cross the border into Canada. But Canada no longer touts an open-door immigration policy and with a border wall, drone patrol and satellites, these families may find their journey futile. Those who do succeed might just realize that the old adage of the grass being greener on the other side is nothing more than a saboteur of hopes and dreams.

“Three Degrees and Gone” is an exciting reading experience. The plot, while seemingly familiar to current events, takes a new twist and it’s the Americans migrating to other countries in search of a better life.  I love it when an author turns the tables on everything we know and take for granted, and makes you think about alternate possibilities. Willis has a knack for taking the realities of today and turning them into more than possibilities – more like probabilities if we don’t, as a society, clean up our acts! Great writing!

And, while I enjoyed the plotlines immensely, I am a character-driven reader and Willis’s characters are a home run for me.  Fresh and multi-dimensional, the characters are fleshed out through the viewpoints of the other characters giving the reader a balanced and well-rounded experience. That the characters were able to evoke such strong reactions from me means Willis did his job well – even the minor characters left an impression on me. It is the main characters and their development where Willis shines. Readers will love to hate many of them – some are just downright obnoxious, some exasperating, while others cross back and forth between the lines of good and bad.

Overall, I highly recommend “Three Degrees and Gone” by J. Stewart Willis for an exciting a memorable read.

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“Perhaps You Were Born for Just Such a Time as This” by Carolyn Hayes

Perhaps You Were Born for Just Such a Time as This
Carolyn Hayes
Outskirts Press (2019)
ISBN 9781977211477
Reviewed by Maddie F. (age 12) for Reader Views Kids (12/19)

“Perhaps You Were Born for Just Such a Time as This” by Carolyn Hayes is about a group of kids from Frances Scott Key High School and how they solve the bullying problem.

One of them, Benjamin, was being bullied by Vince. It started out with little things, but it got really bad towards the end with Vince getting rougher and more aggressive and also sending Benjamin evil texts when he couldn’t get near him at school. The cheerleaders saw what Vince was doing to Benjamin and decided to help. They set up a couple different schemes to bring the bullying to a stop. I thought it was really cool the way the cheerleaders helped Benjamin instead of being stuck up and mean. I think the author did a good job of making the kids smart and helpful. I also liked the way the adults in the book let the cheerleaders handle the problem but in real life I think sometimes the adults have to handle things that are getting out of control.

My favorite part of the book was when the author interviewed Benjamin about his experience being bullied.  In the story Benjamin was pretty quiet the whole time but the interview made him more realistic and I could relate to him better because he seemed like a real kid. And, he could be real because the things that happened to him happens to kids all the time. Benjamin had some great answers and I laughed when he said you shouldn’t ever put anything into a girl’s purse or backpack because they were like black holes! God wasn’t mentioned at all during the story, but Benjamin talked with the author about him during the interview and I thought that was a good way for the author to bring God into the story.

I recommend “Perhaps You Were Born for Just Such a Time as This” by Carolyn Hayes for kids ages 12 and older, but younger kids would enjoy it as well because it has important information about standing up to bullies and not keeping it secret.  It’s a good message for all kids in school.

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