You are now entering the world of my thoughts.

This blog is my diary of works in progress. The only way a writer can improve upon her skill is to practice, practice and practice some more. Here, in this place of quiet peace, I pen to paper my thoughts and creativity. Welcome to my world.

Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 SN Taylor, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Puca Tour! It's finally here!!!!!

Welcome everyone! It is an honor to host and celebrate Heather McCorkle and the release of her newest book, To Ride a Puca. I have to say, I have been waiting a loooooong time for this book! I remember the day she gave us a peek at her pitch for this story! I was so intrigued! And then after reading her Channeler novels, I can't wait to read more about Erin's race and ancestors. Without further ado.... Here is Heather!!! :D




Hi all, I'm stopping by celebrate the birth of my new book, To Ride A Puca. Before we get to the goodies I'm giving away, here is a bit about the newborn. It is a young adult historical fantasy about the last of the druids in ancient Ireland. This one was a bit heartbreaking to write and because of that it became very special to me. I hope it will be to you as well.

Invaders are coming to take what isn't theirs, again.

Neala wants to stand and fight for her homeland, but as one of the last druids, she may be standing alone.

Persecuted, hunted down, forced to live in obscurity, the druids have all but given up. Can the determination of a girl who has barely come into her power bring them together? Or, just when she finally finds her place among her kind, will they end up losing a homeland their very magic is tied to?

Disclaimer: This novel contains some violence and difficult subject matter. It is recommended for mature YA and up.

Available in eBook and hardback at B&NAmazon, and other retail sites.

!!!!!!! Giveaway !!!!!

I’ll be giving away great prizes, a new one, every week for the next three weeks. This week I’m giving away a signed paperback of TANGLED TIDES by Karen Amanda Hooper. It is about a girl who finds herself tangled up in the underwater world of mysterious merfolk and secretive selkies. It is one of my favorite books of the year so far, trust me you’ll love it! The contest will be open until June 3rd, the winner to be announced on the 4th. To enter go to this link. Thanks for having me over Saba!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book Review: Jannah Jewels: The Chase in China

Jannah Jewels Book 2: The Chase in ChinaJannah Jewels Book 2: The Chase in China by Umm Nura
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the second book of the Jannah Jewels, Hidayah, Iman, Jaide and Sara travel in time to ancient China where they meet the famous Muslim Chinese Admiral, Zheng He. The race is on to find the second artifact but the girls are chased down by pirates working for Jaffar, who is desperate to catch the girls and get to the artifact since his last run in with the girls left him empty handed and embarrassed in front of his father.

I enjoyed The Chase in China. There were times when I got lost in the writing but it was an overall fun read with lots of excitement and adventure. These girls certainly know how to get around! I loved getting to know a little bit more about Hidayah as well as the Jannah Jewels' arch enemy, Jaffar. He is a complicated character not entirely evil to the core but evil nonetheless. I am curious to see how he turns out if and when he realizes who the Jannah Jewels' work for.

View all my reviews

Friday, May 25, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Kitchen Dance



Title: Kitchen Dance

Author: Maurie J. Manning

Illustrator: Maurie J. Manning

Publisher: Clarion Books; October 6, 2008

Suitable for: 3 and up

Themes/Topics: Family life, Culture & Peoples: Afro-Latino Americans, Bedtime, Dance & Movement

Opening:
 Scrape! Splash! Clunk! Clang!
I wake up and listen.
Through the walls and floor,
I hear kitchen sounds.

Book Summary: 
Two sleepy children wake up to mysterious and inviting noises from the kitchen. They sneak out to watch as their parents break into a dance while washing the dishes. Soon, the whole family is swept up into a magical and unexpected family gathering of singing, dancing, swaying and love.
 
Links to resources:
Put on some samba music and encourage children to dance. Learn about sound words, onomatopoeia
Examples of onomatopoeia words. Find all of the onomatopoeia in Kitchen Dance and try to create those sounds with objects in your home or classroom.
  
Why I like this book:
Who knew the kitchen was NOT just for COOKING? I love this book! The joy and love it shows between parents and children are just so heartwarming. It’s upbeat feel and fun illustrations make you want to dance right along with them. 

Find a comprehensive list of picture books with resources at Susanna Hill's blog

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Splash into Summer Giveaway Hop 5/25-5/31


Welcome to the second Annual Splash into Summer giveaway! Thanks to I am A Reader, Not a Writer
& Page Turners Blog.

This summer I have a whole list of books that has stacked up in my to be read pile due to work and a writing project that I am working on for an author.

My list includes:

Divergent
Faerie Ring
RavenWild
To Ride a Puca (just recently published by Heather McCorkle.)
Tangled Tides
Running Wide Open

and the list goes on!

What is on YOUR list? 

Well, to kick off the summer I am giving away a 15 dollar Amazon gift card so that you can check off one book from your TBR list!!!

Rules:

Be a blog follower
List below one book from your TBR list :)

As always, this is a blog hop! So hop along to more than 200 + blogs and make a Splash into Summer!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Children's Book Week Giveaway Winner!!


I am happy to announce (a bit late) the winner of the Children's Book Week winner........
!!!!!drum roll please!!!!!
Duh duh na naaaaaaaa

Jeanne BT

Congratulations Jeanne!
You will receive an email shortly, please respond within 48 hours before another winner is selected.

Thank you for participating everyone and I LOVED all of your favorite books :D

Friday, May 18, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Hope



Title: Hope

Author: Isabell Monk

Illustrator: Janice Lee Porter

Publisher: Carolrhoda Books, Inc, October 2004

Suitable for:  4 and up

Themes/Topics: Acceptance, Tolerance, Bi-racial identity, Bi-racial culture and heritage

Opening
Every summer I spend at least one weekend in the country with my mama’s aunt Poogee. The instant I step out of our car, Aunt Poogee scoops me up in her arms and says, “Mmmm, I could just eat you up.” I think aunt Poogee holds all the love in the world inside her and lets it out bit by bit through the twinkle in her eyes.

Book Summary:
During a visit to her great-aunt’s in the country, Hope learns the story behind her name and learns to feel proud of her biracial heritage.

Resources:
Lesson plan for Cultural Identity. Suggested activities:
Create a family tree
Research family member
Interview the eldest member of your family
Research the meaning and origin of your name and other family members names

Why I like this book:
Identity is a big issue for children of bi-racial heritage and Isabell Monk does a wonderful job showing through Hope’s story that every child is special and should be proud of their mixed heritage. I was a child of mixed heritage, African American and Ethiopian and both are rich and beautiful. Growing up my mom made sure I loved and respected both. I believe every child of mixed cultures can relate to Hope and probably have gone through some of the problems that society creates for people of mixed cultures and heritage. This is the perfect book for children to learn they are wonderful, they are beautiful and they have every right to be proud of who they are! And in a way, children of non-mixed races learn a great deal of understanding, tolerance and an appreciation of children of mixed races.

Find a comprehensive list of picture books with resources at Susanna L Hill's blog.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Perfect Picture Book: Kele's Secret by Tololwa M. Mollel

Title: Kele's Secret

Author: Tololwa M. Mollel

Illustrator: Catherine Stock

Publisher: Lodestar Books; June 1, 1997

Ages: 3-7

Topic/theme: Overcoming fear, Places & Cultures: Tanzania, Chickens

Opening:

Grandmother Koko's hens laid their eggs in the strangest places.

Book Summary:

A young Tanzanian boy named Yoanes must overcome his fear of a spooky shed, the scariest place on his grandparents' farm, to follow Kele to find out where she lays her egg. Of all his grandmother Koko’s chickens, Kele is the cleverest hider of her eggs. The reward for Yoanes if he can find Kele’s hidden eggs to fill the egg bowl is to accompany Koko to the market. There Koko will sell the eggs and give him a precious ten cent coin, with which Yoanes can buy any snack he wishes.


Resources:


The author includes a glossary at the end of the book. Some discussion points can include: how they help their family. What they do to overcome their fears? Differences between life on a farm and life in the city. Then have children learn more about Tanzania. For some fun in the kitchen, try out this simple Mandasi recipe. Mandasi is a deep-fried bun that is a treat when eaten fresh and lightly powdered with sugar.  :) The book covers a lot of Tanzanian agriculture, have your children make a list of the different plants, shrubs, trees and vegetation mentioned in the book.


Why I like this book:


This was a really cute story. From the beginning I am drawn into the mystery of the strange and secretive Kele. I also want to know where she keeps her eggs hidden. I love how we are taken on a tour through Yoanes's homeland as he trails the clucky hen. We learn about Tanzanian folklore along the way and watch him face his fears in the process. The illustrations are simply wonderful and engaging. 


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Guest Post: Author Pavarti K. Tyler


"How a Unitarian from Jersey writes about a Muslim Superhero"

 Have you ever gotten that feeling in the back of your head that there's something not quite right about the way you think?  I've always daydreamed about things others have considered impossible or ridiculous.  I'm the loon who decided statistically charting various vampires' awesomeness was a good idea. 

So when the suggestion was made that someone needed to write about a Middle Eastern superhero my imagination went into overdrive.  Of course we need a Middle Eastern superhero!  Others have tackled this topic to great success, like Dr. Naif of the99.org, what’s different here is that I am not from the Middle East.

I sat down and started writing and a character named Recai Osman appeared on the pages before me.  With green eyes and red beard, Recai stood in the middle of a windblown desert, daring me to take the challenge.

And cue the theme to Beyond Thunderdome.

A problem soon presented itself.  It's impossible to discuss the Middle East in any meaningful way without bringing religion into the conversation, and while I've studied Islam, I am not a Muslim.  I'm not Jewish either.  In fact, I'm about as far from the religious spectrum of the Middle East as you could get.  I'm a Unitarian Universalist.

UUism is based on the idea that we all have the right to our own path to Truth.  For some that Truth is God, for some it's not.  What connects us within the UU church is the belief that the search is valuable and that there is benefit to having a supportive and respectful community with whom to share that search. (You can read more about our principles here: Our Unitarian Universalist Principles)

For me, the importance of an individual’s expression of faith within a community is huge.  I believe in God.  Because of this, I often find myself listening to the fundamentalist rhetoric of all religions with a frustrated sigh.  Why does someone have to be wrong in order for another to be right?

It was with this in mind that I thought about Recai.  What makes a good man?  What makes a good Muslim?  And in a society in which religion is such a prominent part of day-to-day life, what would be the shape of evil?

Recai is a faithful man; he's erred and he's sinned, but his belief in Allah and in humanity is solid.  Underneath his layers of confusion and self-doubt is a good man.  His day-to-day life has been isolated from the city he lives in: Elih, Turkey (Google it for a good giggle). What would happen if a flawed man was forced to confront real evil, real sin?  Could he rise to the occasion?

Islam and Judaism run throughout Shadow on the Wall. Some of the phrases and cultural idioms may be unfamiliar to Western readers, but I hope that you will see a little of yourself in the characters. The issues they face are written at high stakes, but the questions posed are ones we must all answer.  Who am I?  What do I stand for?  Although Shadow on the Wall has supernatural elements, I like to think heroes exist in life, and I like to think that religion can fuel the good in people.  Perhaps we're all capable of great things.

Pavarti K. Tyler's Bio:
Pavarti K Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off Broadway.
Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry as a freelance accountant for several international law firms. She now operates her own accounting firm in the Washington DC area, where she lives with her husband, two daughters and two terrible dogs. When not preparing taxes, she is busy penning her next novel.
Throughout history, literature and the art of story-telling have influenced politics, religion and culture. The power of the epic tale is universal. Why is it that those who never read The Iliad know Helen of Troy? Her story, Homer’s story, transcends the written word and has become a part of our human lexicon. The power of the written word is undeniable and Pavarti is honored to be part of the next wave of literary revolution. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Shadow on the Wall Tour and Giveaway

GIVEAWAY: e-Book of Two Moons of Sera by Pavarti K. Tyler


Shadow on the Wall Book Summary

Recai Osman: Muslim, philosopher, billionaire and Superhero?

Controversial and daring, Shadow on the Wall details the transformation of Recai Osman from complicated man to Superhero. Forced to witness the cruelty of the Morality Police in his home city of Elih, Turkey, Recai is called upon by the power of the desert to be the vehicle of change. Does he have the strength to answer Allah's call or will his dark past and self doubt stand in his way?

Pulling on his faith in Allah, the friendship of a Jewish father-figure and a deeply held belief that his people deserve better, Recai Osman must become The SandStorm.

Shadow on the Wall tackles issues of religion, gender, corruption and the basic human condition. Beautiful and challenging, this is not a book to miss.

 Pavarti K. Tyler's Web Site:http://www.fightingmonkeypress.com/
Shadow on the Wall blog tour site:http://shadow-on-the-wall-blog-tour.blogspot.com/
Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tribute-Books-Blog-Tours/242431245775186
My Review:

This is a well written, emotionally charged story that is really hard to put down. right from the beginning I was pulled into the story and main character, Recai.

Recai in this story reminds me of a Muslim born and raised in the West. With most kids, they start off in a very religious and sheltered lifestyle but once they move out go to college, they begin to experience life in a way they were not raised to and begin to take on a more western, non-religious lifestyle. Most by the end of college usually return to practicing the religion more faithfully. Sometimes it takes an incident that reawakens the religous beliefs they grew up with.

Recai reminded me of that young Muslim. He grew up in a Muslim family but later as he grew up kind of did his own thing, experience life for himself, drinking, dating and what not. While he never really left the religion, he did not always practice all of the tenents like praying and fasting. However, it took a devasting incident that took the life of someone dear to him and nearly taking his, that sent him on a search. Whether he was searching for answers, faith, or a way out of his misery, Recai found something in the desert where he was left to die. Upon returning to his city, angry and wanting revenge, he inavertantly saves the life and honor of a young woman during a sandstorm. He also finds his father's company crumbling with corruption and his city falling into oblivion as men of "faith" and "morality" rule his city with abuse and unspeakable crimes against the poor and the women. Rape is rampant, not because men seek sexual pleasure from the women but instead it is used to punish and destroy "mens" reputation. The effects are devastating, especially to the women who receive the brute force of the punishments. They are either killed, abandoned or commit suicide. Corruption is rampant. Drugs have creeped their way into the city. Recai is on a mission of his own when he returns to find the person responsible for Rebekah's death, the Jewish woman who cared for him along with her father, and the destruction of his father's company. But an even greater mission is thrusted up him when he saves Sabiha, who was marked for rape because her brother, a soilder in the RTK, accousted the niece of the town's mayor. Recai is dubbed, the SandStorm, because of this act. In an alley he tackles Sabiha's brother and conviences him that the RTK are not working in the way of Allah, that they are really nothing more than thugs and terrorists. Sabiha's brother is then moved to take a stand by alerting Maryam and Recai when something major is about to go down. Maryam gives Recai a veil to keep his identity concealed. Thus, Recai becomes The SandStorm.

Recai is a real character to me. He does not consider himself a hero nor does he really want to be but he is forced to stand where eithers have chosen to join the forces of evil. Recai is a man flawed spiritually but is also a man who on a spiritual quest of his own to reawaken his own faith in Allah. He fights with his own weakness and struggles to be the good person that he wants to be but has a hard time pulling off. His struggle with his nafs (self) is the same that everyone has to deal with.

This story is very well written, without bias although it was easy to see it was not written by a Muslim. But I give props to the author for writing such a riviting story. I really liked the characters Hasad, Rebekah's father, and Maryam, a nurse who does her part in helping Recai, Hasad and the women who abused under the oppressive laws of the RTK. * The only thing I did not like for was some of the language used in the story. I personally do not swear, curse or use fowl language and do not like to read it either.  

Paperback Price: $11.95
Pages: 248
ISBN: 9780983876908
Publisher: Fighting Monkey Press
Release: May 1, 2012

Amazon buy link
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0983876908?tag=tributebooks-20


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Children's Book Week Blog Hop Giveaway 5/7 - 5/13


A big thanks to 
KidLitFrenzy, Classic Children's Books, Mymcbooks and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
for putting on this blog hop in conjunction with Children's Book Week.

Here on Of Thoughts and Words, I am giving away........................... you know it! 

a children's book of course. 
And not just any book but a signed copy of "A Birthday for Bear" :D



My rules are simple:

* Be a follower
* Live in the US
and
* Tell me your favorite children's book :)

As always, this is a blog hop so hop along to the rest of the blogs for a chance to win more books and or prizes.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Perfect PIcture Book: Silly Chicken by Rukhsana Khan

Title: Silly Chicken

Author: Ruhksana Khan

Illustrator: Yunmee Kyong

Publisher: Viking; 2005

Ages: 4 and up

Theme/Topics: Sibling rivilry, Jealousy, Pets, Chickens, Mother & Daughter relationships, Places: Pakistan

Opening:

Ami loves her hen better than me.  She calls her Bibi. I call her silly.

Summary: It is no fun when your brother or sister gets all the attention! Anyone with a sibling knows that. But what happens when the center of attention is a pet chicken?
Rani thinks her mother loves Bibi the hen more than her. Rani doesn't understand how her mother could love the hen so much until one Bibi goes missing and Rani and her mother gets a bit surprise!

Resources:

Silly Chicken Teachers Guide for 1-3 grade.

Why I like this book:

Author Rukhsana Khan does a wonderful job of getting to the heart of a child's emotional distress when it comes to vying for a parent's attention and love. Rani is such a cute character and I totally understand her feelings toward that chicken. LOL! But children also learn that things are not always as bad as they seem :) The illustrations are fun, whimsical and cute.

Member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators