Looking for Fun, Educational Middle Grade Books?

Looking for fun, educational Middle Grade Books?

Filled with science and social studies facts. Author: Elaine Donadio
Diverse characters: Holly Christiano, Jasmine Jankowski
Learn and laugh with Holly and Jasmine on their South Florida adventure.
Paperback and digital formats. Amazon. Barnes & Noble. Smashwords.
Free online study guide elainedonadio.com. Email elainewrites@earthlink.net
Open-ended questions in alignment with state standards in science, social studies, literacy.
Series
Book 1 – The Science Project—NYC;  Nestor, Phil, Kwan Min
Book 2 – The Ocean’s Way—South Florida; Holly, Jasmine
Book 3 – Who Do Voodoo?—New Orleans;  Phil, Nestor
Book 4 – March of the Blue Moon—Alaska; Nestor, Kwan Min
Other Titles
The Ocean’s Way Poetry Companion
Sojourn Into the Night—A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest

Happy Reading! Read often. Read well. One person, one experience at a time.

 

Book Review: The Florios of Sicily by Stefania Auci

Book Review: The Florios of Sicily by Stefania Auci (2020) 4 Stars **** Historical Fiction

Beginning with the devastating earthquake in southern Italy in 1799, this three generational saga follows the Florio family as they flee Bagnara, Calabria for the dream they hope to realize in Sicily. While the story is fictitious, the characters and events are inspired by real people and actual incidents. This internationally acclaimed author takes us to the 1860s in the context of Sicilian history and the painful unification of Italy.

We meet brothers Paolo and Ignacio Florio in 1799 after the earthquake that has just killed their parents and relatives, and devastated their town. Harsh, forceful, abrupt, demanding Paolo marries Giuseppina in a marriage arranged by her parents, while gentle, soft-spoken Ignacio is secretly in love with her. The three leave what little family is still alive, and head to Sicily with intentions of trading in the much coveted spice trade.

With hard work, determination, and fair business practices, the brothers gradually increase their wealth and standing in the community. Despite their expensive clothing and the power they wield, there are those who look down upon them as laborers and will not give them respect for all they have achieved.

Paolo and his bitter wife Giuseppina make their son Vincenzo the light of their lives and the reason for their existence. Growing up spoiled and self-serving, Vincenzo finds love with Giulia but does not publicly honor her until a son is finally born to the  brilliant mind. He sees the injustice surrounding him, has a highly developed conscience, and basically always does the right thing.

The spice business expands into sulfur, textiles, marsala wine, medicinal herbs, shipping, and banking. Despite their wealth, this family is plagued by self-destructive, unforgiving people. The book cover might make you think they live a charmed life. Not true at all. There is so much unnecessary self-imposed misery that the characters are depressed and depressing.

The plight of women is especially sad because they have no say in their lives and no power over decisions made, which often serve someone’s agenda, but has little connection with their best interests.

So many characters! The book has been translated from Italian and is often plodding, literal, and without voice. You will be happy you are not a member of the Florio family. Their hearts are heavy, their minds troubled, and their souls always searching. This book would make an excellent resource for women’s studies.

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites@earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

 

Looking for Fun, Educational Middle Grade Books?


Looking for fun, educational Middle Grade Books?

Filled with science and social studies facts. Author: Elaine Donadio
Diverse characters: Phil Williams and Nestor Ramirez
Learn and laugh with Phil & Nestor on their New Orleans adventure.
Paperback and digital formats. Amazon. Barnes & Noble. Smashwords.
Free online study guide elainedonadio.com. Email elainewrites@earthlink.net
Open-ended questions in alignment with state standards in science, social studies, literacy.
Series
Book 1 – The Science Project—NYC; Nestor, Phil, Kwan Min
Book 2 – The Ocean’s Way—South Florida; Holly, Jasmine
Book 3 – Who Do Voodoo?—New Orleans; Phil, Nestor
Book 4 – March of the Blue Moon—Alaska; Nestor, Kwan Min
Other Titles
The Ocean’s Way Poetry Companion
Sojourn Into the Night—A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest

Happy Reading! Read often. Read well. One person, one experience at a time.

Book Review: An Anonymous Girl by Hendricks & Pekkanen

 

Book Review: An Anonymous Girl by Hendricks & Pekkanen (2019)
3 Stars ***

Neurotic, twenty-something-year-old Jessica (Jess) Farris works as a make-up artist for BeautyBuzz in Manhattan, NY. Always one step ahead of the bill collectors, Jess jumps on an in-through-the back-door opportunity to answer questions in a psychological, morality testing situation for which she will be paid. It is here her life becomes embroiled with the elegant and beautiful Dr. Shields, her huband Thomas, and the hapless, mysterious April. Ho-hum. Told in two points of view—one, the robotic, stilted voice of the psychiatrist Dr. Shields; the other, hot mess, insecure, impulsive Jess. I thought this book would never end.

The authors used this same format for their other popular books: The Wife Between Us  (2018) and You Are Not Alone (2020). Successfully executed in the exemplary The Wife Between Us, the other two titles fall short of the first outstanding book. (BTW, I have also reviewed the other two titles which you can find by scrolling my blog.) At the point I was hoping for the end to come quickly, I had read only 25% of the book. That’s how plodding, boring, and uninspired the plot and characters are. However, and this is a big however, this book is going to be optioned for a TV series. This goes back to a truism I have often spouted: It doesn’t matter how good or bad your book is when you have friends in high places.The literary value is unimportant. What is important is whom you know and who you are. Influential, powerful friends in high places come in very handy. These authors have these friends.

Getting back to the plot … “Jessie, have you ever deeply hurt someone you care about?” is the question that reduces Jess to mush as her guilty conscience kicks in. Dr. Shields continues to manipulate and infiltrate Jess’ life and brain so she may use Jess as a pawn to run her game.

If anything makes me happy that I don’t live in Manhattan, it’s the authors’ portrayal of women as either mind-bending predators or clueless victims—until near the end where little Miss Manipulated finally wakes up and starts to turn the tables on the bloodsucking, amoral  female. Maybe the authors should move to the suburbs or a small town to escape from the dog-eat-dog mindset.

Bottom line: same plot involving mindfu_ _ing and the use of men as bait, same setting, same characters but with different names, same predators but with different names, same inane, unrealistic conclusions lacking imagination and innovation EXCEPT FOR THE WIFE BETWEEN US. They should have stopped with that book because it’s proven itself to be a tough act to follow.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites@earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

Looking for Fun, Educational Middle Grade Books? Author: Elaine Donadio

Looking for fun, educational Middle Grade Books?

Filled with science and social studies facts. Author: Elaine Donadio
Diverse characters: Nestor Ramirez and Kwan Min Park
Learn and laugh with Nestor and Kwan Min on their Alaska adventure.
Paperback and digital formats. Amazon. Barnes & Noble. Smashwords.
Free online study guide elainedonadio.com. Email elainewrites@earthlink.net
Open-ended questions in alignment with state standards in science, social studies, literacy.
Series
Book 1 – The Science Project—NYC;  Nestor, Phil, Kwan Min
Book 2 – The Ocean’s Way—South Florida; Holly, Jasmine
Book 3 – Who Do Voodoo?—New Orleans;  Phil, Nestor
Book 4 – March of the Blue Moon—Alaska; Nestor, Kwan Min
Other Titles
The Ocean’s Way Poetry Companion
Sojourn Into the Night—A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest

Happy Reading! Read often. Read well. One person, one experience at a time.

 

Book Review: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Book Review: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson (2020) 5 Stars *****

Terrific! Engaging! Well-written! Surprising! Twists and turns! All the elements of a perfect mystery! Our narrator Malcolm Kershaw, co-owner of Old Devils, a mystery bookstore in Boston, Massachusetts, specializing in murder mysteries,  is as unreliable as they come. What to believe? In fact, should you believe anything he says? We meet Malcolm (Mal) as an FBI agent comes to his bookstore to question him about a spate of murders bearing uncanny similarities to the plots of his published blog list of the eight perfect murder mystery books where the killer never gets caught. Each victim is killed in a different way that leaves uncertainty as to motive, making it difficult to find leads to tenable suspects. Until …

The List: The Red House Mystery (1922 A.A. Milne), Malice Aforethought (1931 Anthony Berkeley Cox), The A.B.C. Murders (1936 Agatha Christie), Double Indemnity (1943 James M. Cain, Strangers On a Train (1950) Patricia Highsmith), The Drowner (1963 John D. MacDonald), Deathtrap (a play, not a novel 1978 Ira Levin), The Secret History (1992 Donna Tartt). Accident or design? But …  whodunit?

We’re introduced to a variety of characters who may or may not be suspects. It’s clear that the copycat killer knows Mal and is trying to implicate him in the killings. But why? As with all liars and manipulators, Mal does not know whom to trust. Is anyone as they seem? He knows he’s not, so how can he trust anyone else’s façade?

Many well-placed red herrings invite scrutiny. Seemingly mild-mannered, each chapter peels away another layer of Mal’s reality. No wonder this guy drinks as much as he does! Maybe my comments are leading you in the wrong direction. Maybe not.

I’d love to see this book made into a movie!

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites@earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

 

The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

Book Review: The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate (2020) Historical Fiction 4 Stars ****

With a dual timeline— one set in 1987 small town Louisiana, the other set in Post-Civil War Reconstruction 1875—the modern story is told by inexperienced, struggling teacher Benny, in search of herself, while the past is brought to the present by fiercely loyal, strong, and capable former slave, Hannie, in search of her family. The Book of Lost Friends is an actual book filled with missing person ads for loved ones who were forcibly taken away from their families and sold off as slaves in another location, never to be seen again. Placed by people desperately searching to reunite with family members, these ads were read aloud by the preachers of churches throughout the South for about ten years. The story lines intersect with the discovery of this book among other historical documents. Benny assigns her classes to heart-felt research as they uncover the stories of their relatives in generations past. Readers learn of Hannie and her struggles from embarrassing, shameful documents hidden virtually in Benny’s backyard.

Often rambling, sometimes repetitious, the reader should stay the course to get past the slow start. This book’s unique approach leads us to little known facts and a trove of heartfelt stories. The author has put names to an American tragedy—the horrors of which still haunt our history.

I connected with this book on a number of levels. Of course, the inhumanities and horrors of slavery in themselves are enough to invoke a gut reaction. Since the author presents her story from the point of view of heartbroken people, I found myself identifying with the anguish of slaves as their children and grandchildren cried and screamed to be rescued, as they were ripped from loving arms, powerless to interfere, as these precious little ones were sold off to an unknown fate.

As a former teacher, I certainly could identify with Benedetta (Benny) Silva’s struggles to be in control and  relevant while in front of a classroom of openly hostile, mocking students with heartbreaking, unfixable lives and problems. That’s when we learn: We can only raise their self-esteem, hopes, and goals but we cannot take away their misery.

This award-winning book would be perfect reading for courses in social studies, civics, sociology, and women’s studies. Looking for primary source documents? See some below. The book also lists other sources for research.

“Go to “Lost Friends Exhibition.” https://www.hnoc.org/database/lost-friends/. Historic New Orleans Collection. Web. 2019.

“Check out “Piecing Together Stories of Families Lost in Slavery.” https://www.npr.org/2012/07/16/156843097/piecing-together-stories-of-families-lost-in-slavery. National Public Radio. Web. July 16, 2012.

“Try “Purchased Lives Panel Exhibition.” https://www.hnoc.org/exhibitions/purchased-lives-panel-exhibition. Historic New Orleans Collection. Web.n.d.”

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites@earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

 

Please Borrow My Books From NY Public Libraries!

Great news! Printed copies of my books can now be borrowed from Queens, Nassau and Suffolk County Libraries in New York. Request an inter-library loan!

Queens Libraries—Bay Terrace, Central(Jamaica), and Whitestone 

Nassau Libraries—Manhasset, Port Washington, Syosset

Suffolk Libraries— East Hampton, Huntington

The digital copies are available in Queens Public Library and may be available in other library systems throughout the country. If your library cannot provide access to these books, please ask them to purchase in digital or paperback formats to add to their collection.

The Science Project
The Ocean’s Way
Who Do Voodoo?
The Ocean’s Way Poetry Companion
Sojourn Into The Night—A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest

Happy reading! If you do decide to borrow my books from the library, please remember to write a review on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble websites, or any other place you choose!

Thanks,

Elaine

Please let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you at elainewrites@earthlink.net

All Rights Reserved 2020

Please Vote for My Book Cover

Please vote for my book cover  March of the Blue Moon
 for the June Cover of the Month Contest at All Author
*Use this link https://allauthor.com/cover-of-the-month/8311/

Or

*Fill in Username and Password at allauthor.com
*Click Sign in or Signup if this is your first time
*Click Contest, Drop Down Cover of the Month Vote
*Find March of the Blue Moon and Vote. Thank You!

 

 

Book Review: The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz

Book Review: The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz (2020) 3 Stars *** (Fiction)

Beautiful, elegant, American socialite and acclaimed actress Grace Kelly captured the dream of many young women when she married handsome, charming Prince Ranier III of Monaco, becoming Princess of Monaco, a tiny country located off the French Riviera. Famed as one of the most beautiful wedding gowns ever made, Princess Grace’s peau de soir and lace wedding gown was designed by MGM Studios costume designer Helen Rose in 1956. In this fictitious account, the creator of the gown wears the dress at her own wedding, as does her daughter and granddaughter.

As in any multi-generational story, there is resistance. So, each succeeding bride believes the gown is not reflective of who she is, changes it to reflect her lifestyle, and learns to appreciate the gown for the loving message it carries.

Rose, living in Paris in the 1950s, is the first to wear the gown. Origxinally created by Rose for one of her customers, the gown is gifted to Rose, who wears it at the wedding that begins her fairy tale life. In the 1980’s, Rose’s daughter Joan reluctantly wears the gown after changing the neckline and the sleeves. In the 2020s, Joan’s hipster daughter Rocky, who agonizes over wearing the gown, does so after incorporating her deceased father’s wedding tuxedo into the design.

Each woman is a stereotypical example of the times in which she lives. Rose and Rocky hold secrets, act rebelliously against family and social norms, and learn to communicate with each other because of the memories the wedding gown unlocks. Grand-mère Rose is the most grounded, explicit character. Hard-working, focused, unassuming, and loyal, her legacy is diluted by her fiercely independent daughter and granddaughter. But, it’s all OK. It’s accepted because fashion is a reflection of the person who’s wearing it.

Ironically, there’s another granddaughter who embraces the gown as is, and waits in the wings until her day comes. I would rather have read about her. This is another example of undeveloped characters and situations not adding to the depth and emotion. The story is told, but not shown as much as it should be. It’s an account, but not a heartfelt emotion. The emotional connection with Grace Kelly is never made—only the dress is important. With this being said, fans of soppy romance novels will most likely accept the veneer of the characters without looking too deeply for more. All in all, a pleasant story, but not for everyone.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites@earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

 

Previous Older Entries

Saturday, March 14, 2020- Barnes & Noble, Massapequa, NY 12:00-4:00pm

July 2020
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
%d bloggers like this: