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The Sock Kids Meet Lincoln by Michael John Sullivan and Susan Petrone

 

Michael John Sullivan The Sock Kids Meet Lincoln - Cover

 

 

It’s Saturday in the Sock Kids’ house and that means its wash day.  The Socker family is scooped up and put in the wash where Stretch plays until … he gets whirled around so fast he had to close his eyes and felt like he was falling.

 

Stretch opened his eyes to find himself on a strange man’s leg.

 

That man was Lincoln.  Stretch has gone back in time!

 

Stretch meets the sock on the other leg, a black sock named Meade.

 

The Sock Kids Meets Lincoln offers a quick lesson in history, just right for the young age group (my daughter even went back to check the year again!) and gives a good opening for a discussion on who Abraham Lincoln is.

 

After a quick adventure with Lincoln, Stretch finds his way home again.

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The Sock Kids was entertaining and full of action for such a short story.  My youngest picks the easiest and quickest books to read to avoid real homework reading, but most quick reads also tend to be too easy.  You can typically see the struggle between Mom making her do the required school reading vs. the distractions that pull her away from the books she is bored with.  The Sock Kids was easy enough for a struggling reader without being boring.

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There were no distractions here.  She read The Sock Kids through without pause and was excited about it when she was done, instantly demanding more.  Heck, she tried to find how to get more on my phone! (Good thing purchases are password protected!)

 

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If you are not sure whether your kid will like this book; just read my own daughter’s review after reading it herself.

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Book Review by Robyn Gaudet: The Sock Kids Meet Lincoln

 

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The Sock Kids Meet Lincoln can be bought on Amazon and The Sock Kids can be found hanging out here on WordPress.com.

 

 

 Michael John Sullivan The Sock Kids Meet Lincoln - CoverGuest blogger Robyn Gaudet, 8 years old (ok, less than two weeks to 9 years old!) shares with us her review on:

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The Sock Kids Meet Lincoln by Michael John Sullivan and Susan Petrone

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 I read a book called The Sock Kids.  The sock kids are sock people and why I like it is because it is so FUNNY I just wanted to read all the books over and over!

A little sock named Stretch met Lincoln.  Lincoln put Stretch onto his feet and Stretch met a black sock named Meade.  They became good friends then Stretch went home.

My favorite part about the story is when Stretch got whirled from the bath tub and got into 1863 and that’s when he met Lincoln.

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The Sock Kids Meet Lincoln can be bought on Amazon and The Sock Kids can be found hanging out here on WordPress.com.

Nancy A Niles Vendetta - CoverPaul Faraday made a big mistake and he blamed it all on himself.  He and his wife came to the city in the desert where he took a job as controller of the Desert Dreams Hotel and Casino and he had an affair with his secretary, Darla, causing his wife to storm out of their mansion furiously jealous.

Now Anna was missing; kidnapped.

He would not have the opportunity to make any more mistakes.

The kidnapper, a man calling himself The Fixer, saw to that.  Paul and his wife were murdered in retaliation for another mistake Paul Faraday had made, one he didn’t even know about.  The fixer was seeking revenge for his son’s death.

The fixer wasn’t done yet.  He has a Vendetta.

Tina Munroe works catching cheaters at the Oasis Hotel and Casino.  Between the hours she works at the steady Casino job she works for Bernie Phillips, a private investigator.

Her boss as the casino, Billy “Hutch” Hutchins is The Fixer’s next target.

Pulled by a sense of protectiveness over her old friend, The Fixer’s next target, Tina is drawn deeper into the mystery of The Fixer.  Everyone becomes a suspect, including Lex Bruenner who Tina finds herself unavoidably attracted to.

As Tina gets closer to the truth she puts herself into deeper scrapes and those around her in greater danger, digging herself deeper into the darker underground world behind the Casinos and into The Fixer’s path.

The truth has to lie somewhere in the one thing Hutch and Faraday had in common, running casinos and living submerged in the gambling world.  The question is whether Tina can find The Fixer’s identity before he kills her or someone else close to her.

At times Nancy A Niles’ Vendetta has the feel of the old style gumshoe, but with a big twist – the stereotypical private eye hero is a woman.  You can’t help but like Tina Munroe as you find yourself rooting for her as you wonder how she’s going to get out of this jam she’s in.

 Vendetta is published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC.

T C Harrelson The Beast of Macon Hollow - CoverMy first impression of The Beast of Macon Hollow was that it would be a mystery story akin to the likes of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys of old, perhaps with a Scooby and the gang monster twist.

 

When the story climaxed I was pleasantly surprised by the more monster than mystery turn the story had taken. (Of course, I like that kind of story).

 

I offered the story to my ten year old to read, but she didn’t get very far before quitting.  I think the story was a bit too mature for her age level and taste in stories, although it certainly falls into one of the genres she likes.  Perhaps not quite enough school girl drama for her.

 

I would recommend this story for ages twelve and up, perhaps an eleven year old with more mature tastes.

 

 

Macon Hollow.  It certainly is an odd little town.  The Hollow is a town cut off from time and from the outside world both geographically and culturally.  It is a town that is “left behind” in Will’s thoughts, lost in an era before the twenty-first century.

 

Electronic devices are strictly banned, there is no television or radio from the outside, and a very select few are allowed telephone access to the outside world.  Those few are the ones running Macon Hollow.  No one except those who control the town are allowed to visit the outside world, and no outsiders are allowed in.

 

That is, until the Shepards came home.

 

 

The Shepards.  Dragged from the life of electronics and the modern world they knew, Will and his sister Liz find themselves uprooted and moved back in time to the small town of Macon Hollow after their mother’s death.

 

The Shepard family came from the Hollow, before Will and his sister Liz were born.  Their father had managed to leave the town behind, never intending to return.

 

Liz, who has a better relationship with their father, has a much more forgiving nature, trying to bridge the gulf of animosity between her brother and their father.

 

Will has a difficult relationship with his father, Joseph Shepard, or the Sergeant as Will calls him because he treats him more the way a drill sergeant treats a disliked grunt than he feels a father should treat his son.  The dislike between them is palpable, the Sergeant blaming Will for his mother’s death as much as Will blames himself.

 

 

The Trouble With Macon Hollow.  The trouble with Macon Hollow is that it is haunted.  Or maybe it isn’t.  The Hollow’s monster problems can’t really be classified as a ghost.  It is a mystery for certain.  The Hollow is plagued by periodic visits by a beast with a voracious appetite for killing.

 

The Beast is a curious entity that seems to change depending on the victim’s fears,  growing stronger and bolder with each kill.

 

Will finds himself linked to The Beast, living it’s killings through the creatures eyes and drawn inevitably into the terror it wreaks on the Hollow.

 

Learning about his family’s past, Will also discovers secrets about himself, and that he is the one who must stop the Beast of Macon Hollow.  With the help of his sister and their new friends from the Hollow, Will is drawn deeper into the mystery of the Beast and the town’s hidden past.

 

 

 

In The Beast of Macon Hollow T C Harrelson wove a story that kept me wanting to read on, pulling me towards a delightfully twisted ending.  While many of the events in the climax were no surprise (the hints were there if you paid attention), there was one twist I did not see coming.  I like that.

 

 

 

The Beast of Macon Hollow was published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC, where I got it from.

 

 

I get incredibly lazy about character development in my first draft.  This especially happens when it comes to secondary and background characters.

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When I’m in the throes of pounding at that keyboard, the words flowing through my fingertips as the story flourishes, or banging my head on the contraption in frustration, my focus is on the story.  The big question of what happens next is what drives that first draft.

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 In most of my stories I have no better idea than the reader does about what is going to happen next or even who the characters are.  The story often changes from that initial hunch of what it will be about as the events play out.  Hell, I’m just along for the ride, wherever my imagination decides to take us.

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Just like the reader I’m experiencing the story and meeting the characters as the events unfold.

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This is why it is perhaps even more important for someone who writes like I do to never forget that every character is somebody, no matter how small a bit part they play.

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What is more memorable?  The story where everyone is a faceless nameless blank except the three or four main characters?  Or one where old Mrs. Appleblossom down the street always wears a white flower either in her hat or tucked into her button hole, the absence of which could be a hidden (subliminal) hint of trouble to come?

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What about Mr. Commely, who’s only purpose in the story is to deliver the letter that gives your character the bad news?  Does the reader need to know that Mr. Commely has returned to work after retiring because he’s lonely after his wife passed away, that he always has a gentle pat on the head waiting for even the most fiercest of mailman hating dogs on his route, or that his behavior is sometimes strange and erratic? It doesn’t drive the story forward, so some would argue this is just extra words that should be cut.

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The girl serving coffee through the drive through window probably doesn’t need to tell you that she’s having a bad morning.  You can see it in her face.  You don’t know her name and you probably don’t need to.  But you can make the reader wonder why she’s having a bad day.  Did she have a fight with her boyfriend?  Was she reprimanded at work for being late again when she’s dealing with a serious crisis at home?  Maybe she has a parent or child who is deathly ill.  Why she looks unhappy isn’t important to the story.  But just making the reader notice her sadness and wonder about it because your character did draws the reader further into becoming one with and sympathizing with your main character.

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When you go through the drive through yourself, that girl behind the window touches your life when she hands you your coffee and takes your money.  It may only be a thirty-second moment, but those thirty seconds still touch your life.

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None of these bits about small characters drive the story and most of it can be left unsaid, back-story for these people who make only brief appearances.  But dropping these little observations can add a depth of understanding and reality to the world your characters live in.

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If you write with a sense of familiarity will all your characters lives, the reader will pick up on it.  Like watching someone waving to someone walking by from across the parking lot, you can get a sense if they are familiar with each other or just passing a friendly wave to an acquainted stranger.

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Some characters develop through the writing of that first draft.  The main characters mostly get a lot of their character traits and flaws because their reactions and needs are what push the story forward.  But with the rest they are lucky if they get dubbed as “frontdeskguy” or “girl2” as I write.  Sometimes they are nothing more than a mention of “the other guy”.

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As the story unfolds, so do little hints into the characters that show up for repeat appearances.  And as I learn more about where these bit players fall into the story, I also get a better understanding of how each of them can bring more life to the story.

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Like the young man in Men of Twelve (working name of a W.I.P.).  The young man is an unimportant player, like the Start Trek guy who wears red to beam down to the planet.  I know he’s going to die and the reader may get a sense of it too.  That the trees mock him for being a nameless bastard without a father moments before his death does not drive the story, but it does add a layer of depth to the scene and the world the characters live in.

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It’s in the editing, when I go back over the story to re-write, revise, develop more, and delete than I put the emphasis on picking out each character from the biggest to the smallest and give them a little touch of personality.

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Bringing your characters to life brings the story to life.  And, remembering that behind that blank nameless place holder in the story every character is somebody adds a touch of real life to your work.  Behind the blank nameless face every person you see today is somebody too.

Michael Murpy Scorpion Bay - CoverWorking as an investigative reporter and a prosecuting attorney respectively, Parker Knight and his wife both had jobs requiring secrecy and chasing down sensitive information.

 

Unfortunately for Parker, his wife has been more secretive lately.

 

Worse, his investigative reporting instincts bring him racing to the scene of an explosion that would rip his life apart.

 

Crassly snapping off photos of the scene, including an injured woman; Parker stops by the woman only to come face to face with the horror of the reality of the situation.

 

The woman is his wife Erica.  He is helpless as she dies in his arms.

 

This is the start of events that pull Parker deeper into the mystery surrounding his wife’s death.

 

Parker is compelled to find out why his wife died and bring whoever planted the bomb to justice.  With the help of his friend from his days in the Special Forces, Justin Kendall, and Justin’s girlfriend Tina Banks, he starts digging into the secrets behind Biotech and its CEO Harrison Bradley.

 

Together they follow the one elusive lead he has, Wildflower, a path that leads Parker into being dubbed a vigilante.  Parker finds himself unwillingly embracing his identity as a vigilante despite its hindering his efforts to avenge his wife’s murder and bring the man he believes is responsible to justice.

 

 

The thing that initially drew me to want to read Scorpion Bay was a comment the author made once about how he was so charmed with Scorpion Bay, a real place, that it inspired him to write a book about it.

 

Michael Murphy did justice to both the place and the dangerous feel of the name.  Scorpion Bay is more than an action packed mystery, it draws you into its web of intrigue and plays on sub plots that make you wonder where they will take you.  Just when you think you figured it out you learn not to make any assumptions.

 

 

 

 

Scorpion Bay is published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC.

Exhausted by Sidney Gaudet (9 yrs old)

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Exhausted is like the color gray.

Like a hungry wolf that spend the whole night looking for food,

Or the soot you cleaned out of the fireplace.

It is like the clouds on a rainy day that woke me from my slumber,

Like the huge rock I tried to bring home.

Exhausted is like a heavy fish on the end of your fishing rod,

Like the smoke that comes from the chimney that you tried to clear all day.

Exhausted is like the cement you got stuck in before it dried and you have been using all your might to get out of,

Like grey eyed people’s eyes after a long day.

Exhausted poem by Sidney Gaudet

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