Category Archives: Reading

Reading: 10 Minutes a Day Could Change a Child’s Life

This is a moving Public Service Announcement from England concerning the importance of literacy in today’s world.

Ten Minutes a Day Could Change Everything

Find out more:



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Reading: Maureen Daly and YA Literature



*First I would like to take a moment to explain the terminology I am using in this post. When I reference Young Adult literature I am describing literature written for teenagers (ages 12 to 19). These works can and do appeal to younger children and to adults as well. For example, my friend’s 70+ year old grandmother simply loves the Hunger Games. She reads it with a different perspective than her granddaughter, but the enjoyment of a good book is the same for both readers no matter their chronological age.*

Young adult literature is a relative new literary genre, but it has a richer history than many critics would credit. Many scholars note that the first book written especially for teenagers is Seventeenth Summer, by Maureen Daly (1942). Prior to Daly’s work, books were written either for children or adults. Works about adolescents existed—just look at Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn—but the concept of novels specifically targeting adolescent readers began with the Seventeenth Summer.

Daly’s work interests me because of her ties to the Midwest. Although she was born in Ireland, she grew up in Wisconsin. Seventeenth Summer, which she wrote at the age of seventeen, is set in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. It has sold more than a million copies worldwide (Fox, 2006).

The novel is a coming of age story that centers on Angie Morrow. The summer before she leaves for college, she meets the local basketball hero, Jack Duluth, and they fall in love over the course of the summer. Other romances play out in the novel, including those of Angie’s sister and friends, Friz and Margie. By the end of the summer, Angie and Jack face the life-changing decision on whether or not to continue their romance.

Daly explains: “I was so wildly and vividly happy about love and life at a particular time in my existence. I wanted to get all that fleeting excitement down on paper before it passed, or I forgot the true feelings . . . it was not until the reviews came out (and the royalties came in) that I realized I had recorded universal emotions and joys — and people would want to read about them year after year” (Fox, 2006).

But—seventy-plus years out—how does the book hold up? Does it evoke the “universal emotions” that the author believed people “would want to read about” year after year? You be the judge:

“The sun was warm on our backs and Jack stood with water drops running from his hair and glistening on his face. I had a sudden impulse to reach out and run my finger lightly over the even, dark arch of his eyebrows as he stood looking at me. But there was an odd look in his eyes, an odd, warm look that made my lips tingle as his eyes met mine, and I knew it would be better not to touch him, not even to talk to him, just then.” 

Daly wrote a ground-breaking novel that resonated with readers world-wide and introduced a new literary genre. It is hard to overstate her importance on the current literary landscape where young adult novels dominate the bookstores and the movie screens.

Fox, M. (2006). Maureen Daly, 85, Chronicler of Teenage Love, Dies. New York Times: Books. Retrieved from

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Reading: The Big Read


The National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with Arts Midwest, created The Big Read program to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and bring the transformative power of literature into the lives of its citizens. It provides people with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities.

In 2006, ten organizations in the United States participated. In 2014 there are now organizations in all 50 states along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Organizations selected to participate in The Big Read receive a grant ranging from $2,500 to $20,000 to support their Big Read projects, access to online training resources and opportunities, and educational and promotional materials designed to support widespread community involvement. The Reader’s material, Teacher’s material, and Audio material are also available free of charge on their web site.

The current program runs from September, 2014 to June, 2015. For a list of participating organizations in your area, please visit The Big Read web site at

I was excited to see The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett and A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin on the list. Let me know in the comments what books you are interesting in reading/re-reading!

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Reading: Happiness Decoded

Happy Coffee and Book

In the August 2014 issue of Prevention magazine, Kate Lowenstein’s article “Happy on Purpose” presents some interesting ideas on the topic of happiness.

Lowenstein’s article cites psychologist Barbara L. Fredricson’s research on the subject of happiness. Fredricson divides happiness into two categories: Hedonistic and eudaimonic. According to Fredricson, hedonic happiness is “pure pleasure—that delicious but fleeting feeling derived from eating an excellent meal or getting a massage” (as cited in Lowenstein, 2014, p. 69). Eudaimonic is “big-picture, meaningful-life happiness you might get from satisfying work or meditating” (as cited in Lowenstein, 2014, p. 69).

These categories make perfect sense to me as a writer. The type of happiness I experience when I drink a delicious cup of coffee is different than happiness I experience when I write. The feelings from drinking the coffee are fleeting, but the happiness derived from writing lasts. Simply thinking about a story I am working on, or one I have completed, causes a feeling of full-hearted contentment.

In the same issue of Prevention, Susan Ince mentions that hedonistic pleasure can be derived from reading. Ince reports that “just 15 or 20 minutes of reading” can have a positive impact on your emotions (2014, p. 70).

So my two favorite activities—reading and writing—can help maintain the balance of hedonic and eudaimonic happiness that Fredricson believes will help people derive “a bigger positive emotion yield out of everyday events, which in turn feeds our happiness some more” (as cited in Lowenstein, 2014, p. 69).

So what makes you happy? Do you look for hedonistic or eudaimonic happiness? Let me know!


Lowenstein, K. (2014). Happy on purpose. Prevention (8), pp. 67-69.
Ince, S. (2014). Read one of these 55 books. Prevention (8), pp. 70-71.

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Review of Shannon A. Thompson’s Take Me Tomorrow


Shannon A. Thompson, author of the YA dystopian novel, November Snow, and the Timely Death Trilogy, asked me to review her newest YA novel, Take Me Tomorrow, and I am delighted to do so.

**Warning: Possible Spoilers Ahead**

Sophia Gray, the heroine of Take Me Tomorrow, is bold, courageous, smart, and strong. She is thrust into the center of a mystery that encompasses both her friends and family when she encounters an enigmatic young man named Noah near her home. Sophia has to find the truth behind secrets that have been kept for years by those closest to her; she pushes forward, even when there is danger, even knowing that the truth could drastically change her life, because her conscience will not allow her to just walk away.

Take Me Tomorrow is set in a dystopian era, although this is very slowly revealed by the author. The similarities to the present time in North America are evident from the start; the differences are exposed through snatches of imagery, through introspection, and through conversation between the characters until readers are left with a story world that is a frightening vision of a future that could potentially develop from our own society.

When reading Take Me Tomorrow, my thoughts drew comparisons between the current immigration crisis in the United States, where unaccompanied minors are illegally crossing the border in vast numbers fleeing faltering economies, rising crime, and gang activity in their Central American homelands, and the issues faced by Thompson’s characters as they flee similar situations. Obviously Thompson had envisioned and written the novel long before the current immigration crisis occurred; yet the fact that the novel delves into these issues adds one more layer of veracity to the themes in the story.

I enjoyed Take Me Tomorrow quite a bit. Thompson always creates likeable and believable characters in her novels. I particularly like Noah in this story. (I do not want to provide additional details about his character because I feel it would give away too much of the plot. Other readers should have the same opportunity to experience Noah in the same manner that I did—without spoilers.) The story itself is fascinating. Thompson unravels the mystery slowly for her readers; I read it in one sitting (which I planned for in advance) and I found that it kept that sense of suspense until the very end. The resolution, which leaves opportunities for future novels, was satisfying.


Disclaimer: The author provided an advanced copy of Take Me Tomorrow in exchange for a timely and honest review.


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Reading: “Hello? Put Down Your iPhone and Look Up”

This is a very interesting look at the modern, technological world. The poem is written, performed and directed by Gary Turk. The style is reminiscent of a work by Dr. Seuss. Through a love story, viewers/listeners learn a lesson about trading our lives and experiences with people for digital connections. Turk presents the idea that the more we are connected, the more alone we become.

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Seconds Before Sunrise Press Release


A fellow author, Shannon A. Thompson, asked me to share this information and I am happy to do so. I really believe that we need to support each other with our creative endeavors. I have reviewed Shannon’s novel as well, which you can find here:

Shannon A. Thompson is a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing. Whose YA, Paranormal book (AEC Stellar Publishing Inc., March 27th 2014) is the second installment in The Timely Death Trilogy.

Shannon A. Thompson

Two nightmares. One memory.

“Chaos within destiny. It was the definition of our love.”

Eric has weeks before his final battle when he’s in an accident. Forced to face his human side, he knows he can’t survive if he fights alone. But he doesn’t want to surrender, even if he becomes the sacrifice for war.

Jessica’s memory isn’t the only thing she’s lost. Her desire to find her parents is gone and so is her confidence. But when fate leaves nightmares behind, she decides to find the boy she sees in them, even if it risks her sanity.

Here’s what others are saying about it:

Lionel Green from The Examiner:

“Strong character development, a suspenseful climax and a potentially devastating twist of fate make ‘Seconds Before Sunrise’ a welcome addition to the crowded field of young adult paranormal romance novels.”

Desiree Putaski from The Bookie Monster:

“I love the premise of this book; it’s refreshing and unique. The other thing that I love is the author’s ability to create a world within a world. It’s easy to create your own mythical world; where the author gets to make up all the rules that govern that world, but Ms. Thompson has created this mythical world within the real world of Hayworth, Kansas.”

Seconds Before Sunrise
Seconds Before Sunrise

About the Author

You need the world and the world needs good people

Kansas, English graduate Shannon A. Thompson (, is very passionate about writing, reading, and drinking too much coffee. Since her debut novel in 2007, November Snow, she has signed with AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. She is the Chief Operating Officer of AEC Stellar Publishing Inc., who happens to have a fantastic cat named Bogart, after her favorite actor Humphrey Bogart.


Seconds Before Sunrise

– AEC Stellar Publishing Inc. – ISBN: 1940820030

– Price: $10.51 ISBN13: 9781940820033

– Pub Date: March 2014 – Pages: 277, Paperback, 21 x 14.8 x 1.8 cm

Amazon, Goodreads


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