Apr 012014

I got an e-mail out of the blue, inviting me to join in an April Fool’s Blog Exchange. How could I — why would I — say no? The icing on the cake? The City to my Iron? All the bloggers are in my home town of Pittsburgh, a city I’m not nearly visible enough in.

Enough about me. Today’s blog post is brought to us by a fellow April baby and book lover. Could that matchup have been any more heaven-sent?

birthday wish.

Here’s Tiffany Harkleroad, a woman who has actually laid eyes on me and can vouch to the fact that I’m not an orange S on a red background.

I have been a book reviewer for 4 years now. I have been working at a library for 4 months. I have stacks of books in every room. I papered my living room floor with book pages. I think it is safe to call me a book lover. But how did this love of literature begin? I trace it back to my parents.
My parents are both readers, and even though they had little spare time to read while working full time and raising 3 children, books were always a present in our home. My parents always took the time to read to us, and with us, as our reading skills progressed. As I got older, I would beg my parents to take me to bookstores to spend any allowance or birthday money I had saved up. But the thing that I most strongly remember from childhood was my parents taking me to the library.

Trips to the library were not an easy thing for my parents. We lived in a rural, outlying area, so it was about a 20 minute drive to the library, then we could count on being there for at least an hour, plus the drive back. For busy, working parents, this was a sacrifice, yet my parents never complained a bit. As soon as school was out for the summer, my parents would take me to the library, and help me check out a tower of library books. Two weeks later, we would trek back, return them, and get another stack. I firmly believe that my parents’ support of my library adoration set me up to be a reader for life.

So here we are, 30 years later. I still love books, I still love libraries, and I want to share that love with others, the way my parents shared it with me. Since I have no children of my own, the best way for me to accomplish this is to encourage the children in my community to love books the way I love books. But how?

April is my birthday month, and I like to use that as an opportunity to celebrate the things I love best. Seems like the perfect opportunity to celebrate reading, and encourage reading in my community’s children. So here is what I am doing: I am asking folks to help me build a Children’s Literacy Activity Center for the Ford City Public Library (where I work). I have created an Amazon Wish List of items needed to create the center. I am asking friends, family, and fellow book lovers to purchase items from this list in honor of my birthday. The items will be shipped directly to the library. You can find the wish list here.

It is my birthday wish that I can share my love of reading with the children in my community. I hope you will help make my wish come true.
You can visit my personal blog at talltalesfromasmalltown.blogspot.com, or my book review blog at tiffanysbookshelf.blogspot.com

I think Tiffany might have topped me on this one… I usually release a book on my birthday, figuring I’ll get the gift of royalties and you can keep the goods. But this? Takes it to an entirely new level. Wow.

You go, Tiffany!


You can read my post over at Oh, Honestly, Erin.

Beezus Kiddo

Crank Crank Revolution

D&T In the Burgh

Don’t Forget to Eat

Downtown Living

Emily Levenson

everybody loves you…

jelly jars

‘lil Burgers

Ngewo’s World

Oh Honestly, Erin

Orange Chair Blog

PGH Happy Hour

Radio Chumps

Red Pen Mama

Sean’s Ramblings

Small Town Dad

Sole for the Soul


The Firecracker Blog

The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog

The Steel Trap

West of Mars

Ya Jagoff

Yinz R Readin


Yum Yum PGH

Jul 252013

I clicked through to a post this morning that was supposed to be about censoring books. I’ve had Trevor’s Song censored so many times because of its language, I like to be able to laugh it off with fellow authors.

But man, did this post set me off. It was a different sort of censorship.

The author was talking about how she’d published some romances with some sensual or sexual scenes (to what level of sensuality/sexuality, I don’t know) under her own name. Her husband wasn’t thrilled with her choice, because this woman has standing in her community.

She’d brushed him off — and been shocked to discover teens she was familiar with were reading her books. Sex scenes and all.

Her contention was that we parents should be censoring what our kids read.

Now, if you’ve been hanging around my blog for any length of time, you’ve noticed that on Tuesdays, one or the other of my kids likes to blog.

I have read very few of the books they blog about.

To put it simply: I don’t have time. Both kids can read a book in two days during the school year. Less during the summer. Teen Girl Rocks and Reads, as she calls herself, isn’t a teen yet. And she has fallen in love with the ease of Overdrive and her iPod. For her, the iPod is a book depository first and a toy second.

So let’s take a look. Two kids, who each devour books. One mom, a single parent who owns a successful, growing business, who runs the household, who is active in her community, and who has her own life. (pretty much in that order, too.)

Do the math.

Go on. Maybe your head won’t explode like mine just did.

So now I’m going to say something that might be unpopular with the helicopter crowd, but here it is: as parents, our job is to instill values in our kids. When my daughter downloaded a book with sexual content that made her uncomfortable (and hadn’t been hinted at in the book description, she claimed), she simply hit delete. No muss, no fuss. She didn’t even tell me about it until I asked her about a kissing scene in a book I’d recommended to her. When she fessed up, I shrugged it off. She’d done the right thing, as far as I was concerned.

Think about it: she saw something she didn’t like, and she walked away.

For me, that’s the greatest success I could have as a parent. She handled a situation with no drama and no demands that Mom come to the rescue and delete the book so she didn’t have to look at it ever again. She didn’t inform me she was never reading another book, never using Overdrive. Nothing. She just said she wished that the information had been in the book description. If she had known, she wouldn’t have downloaded it.

Yes, my kids are still young enough to need some protection from the world. Absolutely. But on the flip side, I dashed down to a small town half an hour from my home yesterday to pick up my son, who got off a charter bus 10 days after I’d last seen him. We’d had contact once, when he’d asked me to send him a care package.

He was at the Boy Scout National Jamboree. He spent days with new friends I’d never met, led by two men I’d never met (and two I know well), walking in the woods, managing his own schedule, his own cleanliness (a shout-out to the other Scout parents who now chuckle at the words ambient shower), laundry, money, responsibility, and even a day devoted to giving back to the West Virginia community at large.

Even if I had been one of the adult leaders on-site, I couldn’t be there to protect him. To warn him before the many thunderstorms rolled in, or tell him when it was safe to go back out. I wasn’t there to make sure he handled guns safely, or had his harness attached to the zip line properly. Those are the sorts of things that, as a Scout, he is expected to know and be attentive to on his own, even before the staff checked to make sure he was following protocol.

In short: the Scouts instill values in him, values that help him make smart choices.

As a parent, I have tried to instill values in both my kids. And when I see my daughter quietly walk away from a book with content she isn’t comfortable with, I know that while I may have hugely failed in other areas, at least in this one, I’ve been a success.

So, no. I won’t censor what my kids read. I’ll gladly read anything they tell me is worth my time and that they want to share or discuss with me. I’ll let them make their own decisions, and I’ll take a deep breath and let it out each time those decisions prove I was right to trust them.

I got that proof with my son and Jamboree. I got that proof with my daughter and that book.

For all my missteps as a parent — and some have been huge — I know I am doing something right. There’s no going backward from here.

Jun 252013

Hello everyone!

Last week I was out of town, away from all technology, thus being unable to post. But here is Behemoth, the second in the Scott Westerfeld series. Jump in!

Behemoth: Scott Westerfeld
:) out of :D

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker Powers.
Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan’s peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what’s ahead.

Immediately after Leviathan, our story picks up. The Clankers have revealed a new Shocking weapon, one that will bring the Darwinists to their knees. However, the Darwinists have the Behemoth, their fierce new weapon. But the Ottoman Empire is one who remains neutral, and they WILL be a turning point in the war, if the Darwinists can gain their trust.

I have read a lot of series where the books run right into each other, and most of them have been either bad, or awful. This book, by those standards was amazing, not only in the fact that the two books ran right into each other, but the book itself was amazing. Next week, we have the series finale, Goliath, and then we move on to a new series. Most likely the Bartimaeus series, but if I get any other ideas, we will delve into that.

See you next week,
Your Friend at TBR

Jun 042013

Ok, everyone. Sorry it has been so long, but I have just forgot to post, but will have posts more regularly as summer rolls in. Again, sorry. I wrote this post a while ago, but never posted it. So, I bid you best reads.

Well, It’s here.

Department 19, book TWO! The Rising. Amazing. excited. Lets get it before I can’t type.

Department 19: The Rising
:D out of :D (5/5)





After the terrifying attack on Lindisfarne at the end of the first book, Jamie, Larissa and Kate are recovering at Department 19 headquarters, waiting for news of Dracula’s stolen ashes.

They won’t be waiting for long.

Vampire forces are gathering. Old enemies are getting too close. And Dracula… is rising.

12 weeks after Lindisfarne, The department has picked itself up and most who went survived. But all who went changed. And Valeri Rusmanov has been working Dracula back to life, and the vampires and becoming bolder, and they are leaving graffiti on all the walls. He Rises 91 days to slay Dracula, because after then, Dracula becomes the world’s dictator and all the humans will be non-existent. Unlikely alliances will form, all to bring down these monsters.

Holy Heck in a handbasket. To make this simple, Department 19 blew almost every other book I have read out of the water. The Rising blew the first one out of the water. Yeah. So, next week, I am trying something new. I am going to give a “Reccommended Reads/Recently Read,” and we’ll see how that goes. After that, I will do the Leviathan Trilogy BY Scott Westerfield, and Then Mortal By Phillip Reeves.

See Ya next time,

Your Friend at TBR

Apr 302013

Hey everyone,

Today is my recommended reads post. All of these books are really good, so read some!

Artemis Fowl Series- Eoin Colfer
All Books I have reviewed, for the most part
Holes- Louis Sachar
Rick Riordan- I will not read him, but I know he is really good
Margaret Peterson Haddix, Amazing author
I, Q- Roland Smith
Jerry Spinelli
Evil Genius- Catherine Jinks
Alex Rider- Anthony Horowitz
Maximum Ride- James Patterson WARNING!! When Reading a James Patterson Book, look under his name. Patterson Has many people writing under his name!
Eoin Colfer in general
Dan Gutman, Sports
Jack Gantos
HIVE- Mark Walden- LOVE IT!
Rangers Apprentice- Never read it, but have heard nice things about it.
Warriors- Erin Hunter
The Mostly True Story of Jack

Thanks for reading,
Your friend at TBR