Giveaway and Book Review: Happily Ever After

8:38 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

by Various Authors

From princesses and princes, to witches, ice queens, imaginary friends, and dorks, Happily Ever After: The Write More Publications Fractured Fairy Tale Anthology has it all! Seven unforgettable stories by seven talented authors! Some stories are fractured takes on classics, while others are originals that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page! 

I have received a complimentary copy of this book to review .

 The opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains affiliate links.

I grew up watching the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show with my dad.  One of our favorite segments to this day is Fractured Fairy Tales.  I think that is why this anthology appealed to me so much.  It takes classic stories and puts a new spin on them.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Happily Ever After Anthology.  The short reads were perfect for my busy schedule, and they allowed me an escape into an alternate universe.  I also appreciated the way each author put her spin on the classic tales as that is a genre that has interested me since childhood.

About the Authors
Vanessa Hancock       Michelle Feury       Stephanie Parke


I am so fortunate to have been able to talk with several of the authors to ask them about their own love of reading and writing.  Hopefully you can check out some of their favorite authors (I added several to my summer reading list) and try out their writing tips.

Who is your favorite author? Why?
Kim Stevens: My favorite author is James Patterson. He writes everything from thriller to romance to suspense. He writes short chapters so they don't drag, and I always enjoy his stories. My favorite series by James Patterson is Maximum Ride.
Stephanie Parke: My favorite author is hard to answer because I have an old school fave and a more modern fave. Old school favorite is Jane Austin, who doesn't love Mr. Darcy? My modern favorite (besides myself lol) is Sabrina Paige . She writes steamy love stories that have a rough edge that I like.
Elaine White: Elizabeth Peters. Her Amelia Peabody series is so fantastic. Combining archaeology, murder mysteries and romance couldn't get any better. Of course, Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are way up there too.
Jordan Hancock: My favorite author is C.S. Lewis. I find his writing inspiring.
Michelle Feury: My favorite author is J.R. Ward because I can get stuck inside one of her books and not want to ever come out.

Who is your favorite or least favorite character in your book? Why?
Elaine White: My least favourite character in my Khloe story would have to be Grumpy Jackie. He's the only one of the dates that has no excuse for his behaviour except arrogance.
Jordan Hancock: My favorite character in my book is Leo.
Michelle Feury: My least favorite character in my story is Zander because who likes a traitor.

How do you handle writer’s block?
Kim Stevens:  I don't handle writer's block. It drives me nuts. I guess that's where TV or reading comes in handy. I distract myself before trying again.
Stephanie Parke: Writers block is like the big bad..,you fear it but eventually defeat it. The way I deal with it is flying just keep writing. Even if it is crap I keep on writing.
Elaine White: Usually it hits me hard or not at all, so I have to leave what I'm working on, read some novels and then come back to work on another story. It's usually in the middle of that system that the "Aha" moment comes and I can return to the one that I was struggling with.
Jordan Hancock: When I have writer's block, I listen to Broadway Music.
Michelle Feury: I handle writers block by working on something small and new, for example picking out an inanimate object and bringing it to life in a short piece.

What advice do you have for young/student writers?
Stephanie Parke: My advice to aspiring authors is to never give up. Write something every day.
Elaine White: Never to give up. I had over 10+ rejections, before my first novel was accepted by a publisher. Then I had another few knockbacks when I changed genres. There will always be people out there willing to say no, but you have to keep digging for the one who will say yes.
Jordan Hancock: To young writers I say, don't give up. Your first work won't be a masterpiece, but you have to keep at it.
Michelle Feury: I would tell young writers to never give up on your dream of writing, stick with it or you may regret it later in life.

Explain your revision processes.
Stephanie Parke: Revision is simple, I am a seat of my pants type of writer. I get an idea then I write it. I let the characters lead and then I tell them where I want them to go.
Elaine White: Ooh, complicated. Okay, so I start with a rough outline, anything from a few lines to a few pages. Then I begin writing. The characters tell me where they want to go. When it's done, I read through from beginning to end, making notes on anything I spot that might be wrong or need fixed. I tend to do this on my Kindle, because the highlight/note features are so fantastic. Once I've done that a few times, about five, then I hand it to a beta reader or two. They give me their notes and we work off that for a few months. It's a very long process, but it works. Only after 2 rounds with the betas and about 10 passes from me, will it go into editing.
Jordan Hancock: When I revise my story, I let my mother read it, then my grandmother. Then I read over it again myself.
Michelle Feury: I'm a horrible one when it comes to revising my work because I will nitpick at it until I've changed the whole story.

Be Sure to Enter the Giveaway

Giveaway and New Book: Lies I Live By

4:00 AM Sarah Koves 4 Comments

These are the facts: My name is Callie Sinclair. I am seventeen years old. I live in San Francisco. I love my boyfriend, Charlie. I work for a secret governmental agency. I am a psychic spy. This romantic, action-packed twist on the classic spy novel is perfect for fans of Ally Carter’s Embassy Row series or for any reader who enjoys cinematic writing and stories of romance and intrigue.

At seventeen, Callie is the government’s youngest psychic spy, trained to track dangerous people and weapons in her visions. When another young—and handsome and witty—psychic joins the agency, Callie’s personal and professional lives get messy all at once. If she can’t find a way to change the events she’s seen in her visions, she could lose the people she loves most . . . and her mind. Literally.

Richly painted against the backdrop of San Francisco and Berkeley, Lauren Sabel’s enthralling novel captures the thrill of exploring a unique power in a dangerous world.


“Hmmm . . .” I fade into his arms, grateful that out of all the people at Bleeding Heart Catholic School—or as we called it, Bloody Hell—we found each other. And when I graduated high school last December—a semester earlier than Charlie and everyone else in my grade, thanks to Indigo’s need for me to start viewing immediately, and full time—he was the one person I missed seeing in the halls every day.

Charlie bites my lip, and I shove him playfully, and we get into an all-out wrestling match, right there in the living room. When we’re finished, and I’m pinned beneath him on the couch, sweating, he asks, “Hoover Tower?”

“Unusual choice,” I admit. Two hundred eighty-five feet tall, topped with forty-eight bells that President Hoover declared should only be rung for peace, it is the least sexy thing I can imagine. But sturdy, and strong, and always there. “Sand piles?”

“Ah, not so much the object, but the shape,” he says, eyeing my chest.

I slap his fingers away from my boobs, and he grins and kisses me again, his strong fingers wrapping in my hair. “I missed you,” he says. “Miss me?”

“Occasionally,” I say, although my heart is pounding, yes, always.

“Work okay?” he asks, and I nod. “And baby Emma?”

“She’s fine,” I say, kissing him again to stop him from talking. Emma is the imaginary child at my imaginary nanny job. She has a bedwetting problem, and will only eat macaroni and cheese, and her stuffed turtle is named Turtle, mostly because the people at the CIA have absolutely no imagination.

His lips brush my cheeks, my ears, my neck, and I feel my body unconsciously lift up to meet him. “Bronze ring,” he says. “In a store window.”

“What?” I mumble against his shirt.

“It reminded me of you,” he says, “of us.”

Us. I still find it amazing that two letters spell out a whole life.

AUTHOR Bio and Links

Lauren Sabel lives in the quirky dark spaces of her mind, and she tries to shed light on these spaces in her books. After publishing VIVIAN DIVINE IS DEAD in Summer 2014 with Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of Harper Collins, she confronted her lifelong fear of being psychic by writing OUT OF MY MIND. Since in this YA thriller, teenage psychic spy Callie Sinclair works undercover for the government, forced to hide her real identity from everyone she loves, Lauren is now certain she’s on the CIA watch list.

Website Blog        Twitter Facebook         Instagram

Buy on Barnes and Nobel

Calming the Chaos 2016

8:55 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

Hey Everyone! It's time for the annual Calming the Chaos Blog Hop for Middle and High School Teacher Bloggers.

I have six fun items for you and your students.

Adulting 101

My AP Literature course was done two weeks ago when they presented their senior portfolios.  I asked the students what they wanted to do for the last week and a half.  They responded with the idea to learn all the things they felt they needed to know before they graduated that they had not been taught.

Adulting 101 was born

I started with a quick survey asking them what kinds of skills they wanted.  These are a few of the choices I put on the form.  There is also a place for them to add their own.

Last week we spent two days going over a 1040 tax form.  We also talked about what to wear in professional situations and even about how to sit in dress pants (for the young men) and skirts (for the young ladies).    I have a box of buttons, needles, and thread for this week.

While we didn't get through as many of these items as the students and I hoped, we are very glad we did what we had time for.

End of the Year Student Survey

I found this comprehensive Google Forms Template survey for the end of the class.  I created a copy and edited the projects for each of my classes last year and had students fill in out anonymously in the last weeks of school. It was enlightening to know what they actually thought.  

Here is mine for AP Psychology.

They loved projects and novels that I was considering replacing, so I still use them.

I also learned a lot about what they need to see from me in the future- more timely grading.  This is my #thestruggleisreal

Essay Exams

I use a variety of writing assignments as all of or part of my exams.  

I like essay exams because they

1) Are easy to prep for

2) Allow students to show what they know

3) an be scored from my deck in the sun

All of these are important as you wrap up the end of the year.  Yes, being able to grade them outsides is important because it means the essays don't get put off until the last possible minute, which is a problem I have.

Here are some of my ideas for this year.

Check out my other review sheets:

Last year I wrote about:

-Student Interest

-Variety and Choice

-Getting Outside

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More End of the Year Survival Tips

Saturday Morning Coffee

5:30 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

This Saturday was not as quiet as usual.  My youngest got up before me and the plumber arrived at ten to finish our shower/tub job.   I was still able to get some reading done with my coffee, but it was later than usual.

Check out the great links I found.

1. I was struck to the core by the stories behind The Bullied Teacher an the amount of power students have in their school.  I told a student once, may he rest in peace, that students have power to make changes in their school.

2. My students thrive when they are allowed to embrace their social natures, so I know that they will embrace Room 213's Five Ways to Encourage Class Discussion.  Try a couple out before school is out.

3. The American Experience feeds my inner history geek. It was exciting to see their article: Victoria Woodhull's Radical Run for President after I got to read The Renegade Queen earlier this month.

4. Low Stakes Writing is something I do daily in my classroom.  It doesn't carry a weighty grade, but I can certainly do more to allow students to experiment.  Edutopia put together 5 strategies in this read on writing.

5. This Harry Potter Wedding made wish for a redo on my own big day ten years ago.  My favorite man and my favorite books- what could be better?

6. The most recent edition of Google Classroom Updates has arrived. Being able to schedule assignments and announcement for the whole week will save me so many precious minutes.  I am thrilled that come fall we will be able to add parents to our Google Classrooms.

7. I took the Can you recognize these 33 historical events? test and got 100%. I would have been devastated as a history major if I had done poorly, but these images are a part our cultural heritage.  I might use this as a fun game in class to fill time when we finish early..

8.  Surviving the Mom Struggle is something I struggle with every spring as my energy winds down and the pressure adds up.

9. I started book clubs this year with my seniors.  I really could have used Happy in the Middle's Small Group Discussions as we were working through those texts.

10.  The school I teach at has debated and changed their late work and homework policies over the last year.  I have read a couple of books and attended a conference on grading.  None of these things is the perfect answer, so I appreciated Teaching100's struggle in Should Homework Be Counted Late

Did you find any great read this week?  I would love to know what they are.

Book Review: The Secrets of Flight

3:30 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler

Estranged from her family since just after World War II, Mary Browning has spent her entire adult life hiding from her Jewish heritage. Now eighty-seven years old and a widow, she is haunted by a lifetime of secrets and fading memories of the family she left behind. Her one outlet is the writing group she’s presided over for a decade, but when a new member walks in--a fifteen year old girl who reminds her so much of her beloved sister Sarah--Mary is certain fate delivered Elyse Strickler to her for a reason.

She hires the serious-eyed teenager to type up her story of a daring female pilot during WWII who gambled everything for her dreams--and both their lives take flight in unexpected ways.

At times laugh-out-loud funny and at others heart-wrenching, this is a story of identity, betrayal, love, hope, and forgiveness.

I received a copy of this book to review, but these words and opinions are 100% my own.

When I first came across this novel, I thought the cover was intriguing and it looked like a perfect book choice for my women's studies course that I started this year.  In addition the two points of view in the novel would make it an interesting novel to discuss in my Advanced Placement Literature class.

As I have been doing with recent book reviews I have been sharing, I will include two writing/discussion questions for using this novel with students.

1) How does the author's use of multiple points of view help build the novel in an interesting way for readers?

2) Using Chapter 2: 23 Things About Me by Elyse Strickler, mimic the style that Elyse uses to write this list and create your own list of 23 things.

3)  How does the relationship between Mary and Elyse lead to fundamental changes for each of them?

 AUTHOR Bio and Links

Maggie Leffler is an American novelist and a family medicine physician. A native of Columbia, Maryland, she graduated from University of Delaware and volunteered with Americorps before attending St. George’s University School of Medicine. She practices medicine in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and sons. The Secrets of Flight is her third novel.

                                         Website     Facebook

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