Posted in Books, childhood, Christmas, Family life, First Friday Five, Lists, parenting, Reading

First Friday Five: Picture Book Bonus

The last two weeks, I’ve treated you to book recommendations for Middle School readers and for Elementary aged readers. This week, I’m sharing five terrific picture books.  I’ve given priority to books that have been released this year. As before, I’m including buy links to Amazon and Barnes & Noble for your convenience. I do not benefit financially in these recommendations, I just want to share books I love to help those who are looking for a book to give to a child.

  1. The Book with no Pictures by B.J. Novak. Yup, I’m starting a list of picture books with a book that has no pictures. Trust me on this one. B.J. Novak, previously a writer for The Office, has a tremendous way with words and a wicked sense of fun. This is the book the kids in your life will want to spring on unsuspecting parents, grandparents, babysitters, aunts, uncles and well, anyone as a bedtime story. The sense of mischief and fun appeals to kids all ages, including those of us experienced kids who have the gray hair to prove it.  Amazon and Barnes&Noble 
  2. The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers Have you ever looked at a child’s box of crayons and wondered what on earth happened to those once pristine pieces of wax? Jeffers’ playful illustrations are spot on and new readers will be surprised at the emotional depths Daywalt finds in the crayons. This is a terrific gateway for talking about emotions.  Amazon and Barnes&Noble 
  3. I Will Take a Nap! by Mo Willems. Mo Willelms is the mastermind behind Knufflebunny, the Pigeon and Elephant and Piggie, stars of I Will Take a Nap. Elephant and Piggie don’t look alike and possess many opposite traits (cautious versus impulsive) that can cause some conflict between the two, but friendship always prevails. Amazon and Barnes&Noble 
  4. Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat. This came out last year, but it didn’t cross my radar until my ninja loving son brought it home from the library. As I’ve said before, I think Dan Santat is a terrific illustrator and his vibrant images bring this twisted fairy tale to life. This is a fun book to read alongside an original version of Little Red Riding Hood and can lead to great conversation about empowerment and bullying. Amazon and Barnes&Noble 
  5. What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss.  It’s not every year you get a new Dr. Seuss Book! For me, it’s no Fox in Sox (my favorite Dr. Seuss), but it is a fun book to read aloud and share with the children in your life. A lot of children will relate to the problem of picking a dream pet and in this book, there are no real life consequences, so bring on the silliness and help kids spark their creativity. Amazon and Barnes&Noble    

 

Kids that are read to from day one are kids who grow up to be readers. Study after study shows the benefit of reading with children. From building vocabulary to creative problem solving, to building empathy, to creating a passion for knowledge, few tools on this earth are more powerful than a book. Please share the joy of reading this holiday season, whether with a special child in your life or by donating a book to a school, shelter, library or program like First Book.

I hope you have enjoyed this extended Friday Five series. If you have books to recommend, or thoughts on this list, please share in the comments.

Posted in Books, Decadent, Talking with

Talking with Sara Daniel

I’m delighted to have fellow Decadent Publishing author Sara Daniel visiting today.  Like my last guest, Tara Quan, Sara penned a modern fairy tale. Read on to learn more about Sara and Once upon a Marriage and be sure to scroll all the way down or a link to a giveaway.

OnceUponaMarriage_200x300What inspired you to write Once upon a Marriage?

My favorite school assignment ever was modernizing and retelling a fairy tale (sophomore English – Aced it AND got extra credit – Thanks Ms. Seckler!), so when Decadent Publishing put out the call for a retelling of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale, my hand immediately shot in the air.

Tell me about your favorite place to write. What makes it special?

I have a giant comfy chair in my living room with a view out my front window where I do most of my writing, although in perfect weather I’ve been known to take my computer outside. An outside view is a must for me, and did I mention how comfy my chair is?? I often feel stiff after sitting at a desk or table for a couple hours, but I could sit and write in my chair all day (and often do).

That sounds like a nice place. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what?

I write in silence, and if the house isn’t quiet enough, I keep a pair of noise-silencing headphones (from a NASCAR race!) nearby. I’m happiest and most productive when I’m alone with my thoughts.

When you’re not at the races, how do you make time to write?

I write when my kids are in school. Everyone leaves the house, and I make the long commute (LOL!) to my favorite chair. Now that it’s summer, I try to keep the same routine, but I also accept that I need to be flexible for my family and to recharge my muse. My summer productivity is always lower than in the school year.

Mine too! What is your favorite part about being an author?

I get to live out my dream of writing stories all day while having the flexibility of being there for my family whenever they need me.

I love that too. Dessert time! Give me your “either—or” answers

  • Chocolate, fruit or other? Chocolate
  • Warm or cold? Warm!
  • Buttercream or fondant? No frosting, please!
  • Cookies or brownies? Tough choice, but I’m going with cookies.
  • With nuts or without? Usually without, but sometimes nutty is better.

 

Once Upon a Marriage

Time is running out for Armina Keer to have the baby she’s always wanted. Before she can move on with her life, she needs her estranged husband to sign their divorce papers. When she can’t get him to respond, her meddling uncles arrange for a trip to his inn. Despite vowing to guard her broken heart, she has to settle the past before she can have a future.

 

Ian Keer might not deserve a second chance with his wife, but he’s not going to give up one either, not with the immediate flaming attraction still between them. While her uncles’ antics wreak havoc on life at The Inn, he offers her the ultimate gamble: Spend the night with him, and afterwards he’ll sign the papers if she still wants to leave.

 

With everything riding on one night together, Ian must convince her that their love is strong enough the second time around, and Armina must decide if love is worth sacrificing her dreams.

Buy links:

Amazon   Barnes & Noble   All Romance ebooks   Decadent Publishing

 

Sara Daniel writes what she loves—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She lives her own happily-ever-after romance with her hero husband. Connect with her online at: SaraDanielheadshot

Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter: http://eepurl.com/rx_AL

Website: http://www.SaraDaniel.com

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/SaraDanielSaraShafer

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SSaraDaniel

Blog: http://saradanielromance.blogspot.com

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ssaradaniel/

Sara is offering a rafflecopter giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card.
Posted in Blog Hop, Books, Decadent, Talking with

Talking with Tara Quan

Hi Lola! Thank you so much for interviewing me today. I’m really excited to show off the cover for my upcoming Beyond Fairytales release, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

OperationOwl_300x450On that note, let’s get started. What inspired you to write this book?

Lots of different things. First off, this book was written in answer to Decadent Publishing’s submissions call for fairy tale adaptations, and I was assigned The Owl by Brother’s Grimm. At around the same time, I was feeling a bit glum about having to leave D.C., so I decided to channel my energy into writing a romance set in the capital area. Dulcis in fundo (Last but not least), my Italian class did a field trip to the National Gallery, which turned out to be the perfect place to set the opening scene of my story.

What is your favorite part about being an author?

Well, I love writing, so there’s the perk of actually liking one’s job. On top of that, it’s the most mobile career imaginable. My husband’s employer requires us move to a new country every now and then (as I type this interview, the movers are packing us up for the 4th time in 5 years). I’ve been very lucky at finding work in both the UAE and Pakistan, but job-hunting every time he gets new orders isn’t a viable long-term solution. Being an author means making a lot less money, but it’s a steady career as opposed to an unending chain of short-term positions. I can certainly relate – although my husband’s job keeps us domestic.

If your hero were babysitting my kids (age 6 & 10) what would the night be like?

Hmm… Zack is a bit of a geek, so they’d likely be playing video games into the wee hours of the night. Since your kids are on the younger side, he probably won’t go for a first-person shooter, but there are always party games like Rock Band, Guitar Hero, or something on the Kinect/Wii.

We’re at a bar with your hero and heroine, what are they drinking?

Zack is a beer guy. Having gone to MIT for college, he’s developed a taste for the various permutations of Samuel Adams, the seasonal ones in particular. Maya Jain, the heroine, was inspired by an Indian friend of mine. She prefers wine with food, but at a bar she’d go for a Belgian Ale such as Stella Artois.

Last but not least, it’s dessert time! Give me your “either—or” answers

Chocolate, fruit or other? – This is a tough one. The part of me trying to be healthy will have to answer: fruit (persimmons and mangoes, if at all possible).

Warm or cold? – I get cranky when the temperature deviates from a comfortable, non-humid, 68-75F. But if I had to pick between the two evils, I’d go with warm (I tend to hibernate in winter).

Buttercream or fondant? – Buttercream for sure!

Cookies or brownies? – Cookies (Oatmeal Raisin, please).

With nuts or without? – Depends on the nut, but without is always the safer choice.

Great picks. Thinking of which, Operation Owl looks like a great read. Where OperationOwl_300x450can readers get it?

Operation Owl

Five years ago, Maya Jain kissed her best friend only to have him run out of her dorm room and leave the state. When he shows up in Washington, D.C., a wanted fugitive sought after by every branch of the US government, she can’t bring herself to ignore his plight. As their physical relationship picks up where it left off, she decides it’s time to make him see her as more than the bespectacled, bookish girl he once called “Owl.”

After being accused of espionage and treason, Zack Strong needs a forensic accountant to help clear his name. Not knowing who he can trust, this white-hat hacker has no choice but to ask his former best friend and math tutor for help. Together they unravel a cyber conspiracy at the Barn, an NSA facility tasked to intercept electronic communications. But as they traverse the nation’s capital to avoid capture, Maya insists on letting their simmering sexual tension take its natural course. Even though he’s never been able to shake the memory of their one kiss, he refuses to let her give up her life for a man with no future.

Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy, Multicultural

 Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | AllRomance | Decadent | GoodReads

About Tara Quan   TaraQuan

Globetrotter, lover of languages, and romance author, Tara Quan has an addiction for crafting tales with a pinch of spice and a smidgen of kink. Inspired by her travels, Tara enjoys tossing her kick-ass heroines and alpha males into exotic contemporary locales, fantasy worlds, and post-apocalyptic futures. Armed with magical powers or conventional weapons, her characters are guaranteed a suspenseful and sensual ride, as well as their own happily ever after. Learn more at www.taraquan.com

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon

You can join Tara as she tours the internet and maybe win a gift card.

Click the picture to go to the Rafflecopter Giveaway – $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

owltourfinal_medium

http://www.taraquan.com/owl