Monday, June 15, 2020

new childrens book on COVID19

Our Bodies Stay Home, Our Imaginations Run Free 
by Lora L. Hyler
A Coronavirus COVID-19 Story for Children
Children’s book, 50 pages
Published by: HenschelHAUS Publishing, June 15, 2020
Reviewed by: Kathleen Fletemeyer
$5.99 Ebook
$8.99 Print
Paperback; 978159598-775-4

Buy from the Publisher

About the Book:
Our Bodies Stay Home, Our Imaginations Run Free helps children ages 6-10+ navigate their scary new world due to the coronavirus. Seven-year-old Maya is struggling with her feelings as she misses her classmates and teacher, her friends, her grandparents, and visits to her favorite places. And even worse, her 8th birthday is coming up during quarantine. How can she possibly have a party? With her family’s help, Maya understands she needs to do her part to help her family and community. 
Practicing proper handwashing, wearing a mask, and social distancing is needed. She finds joy in making masks, watching nature and creative play from afar. Maya is amazed when she has the best 8th birthday party ever.

Lora Hyler packs a public health wallop into this short, sweet book. She meshes her background as a news reporter with her skill in writing children’s adventure books to produce this timely tale of a family coping with today’s real-life adventure—COVID-19.

Seven-year-old Maya washes her hands extra-long, singing the Happy Birthday song not twice, but three times, in hopes it will make the coronavirus go away sooner so life can get back to normal. With her eighth birthday around the corner, she worries what kind of party she’ll have since everyone needs to stay at home. 

Parents will recognize their own challenges as the Thomas family eats ice cream with grandparents via video call, walks through their unusually quiet neighborhood, and stretches their imagination to put on a birthday party for Maya in these days of social distancing.

The entirely credible interactions of Maya and her older brother, Bryan, bring to life the disruption of virtual schooling, missing friends, and wearing masks. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas model supportive parenting as they respond to their children’s questions about the virus with equal measures of reassurance and age-appropriate medical information. The inclusive set of characters from school and neighborhood is an added reminder that we are all in this together. 

Our Bodies Stay Home, Our Imaginations Run Free never minimizes children’s bumpy emotions, nor their need to understand a changed world. The unchanging values of family and caring for one another underpin this story without becoming sentimental. For parents seeking a young-reader book that provides a can-do attitude when new phrases like “flatten the curve” fill the airwaves, they need look no further. 

About the Author, Lora Hyler:
My sense of adventure began when I discovered the Pippi Longstocking books by Astrid Lindgren and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Who doesn’t want to win a golden ticket and spend the rest of their life running a chocolate factory? My adventure-writing often began with real life travel adventures to children museums and distant lands.

I carried my love of reading and writing into a radio news career as a reporter for NPR affiliate, WUWM and ABC affiliate, WISN, both in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I also worked for a media and an energy company managing writing, editing and strategic communications. In 2001, I started my public relations and marketing company, Hyler Communications, and worked with companies in many industries. Among them: Northwestern Mutual and Marquette University. I also worked in television, as a live guest commentator for two years on Today’s TMJ4 television station.

I’ve written hundreds of articles, several screenplays, short stories, and a novel. Now, I’m excited to write children books. I joined the 22,000 member international organization, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and have a mutually supportive relationship with my fellow authors. The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes is the first in a planned three-part series.

My screenplays have not yet become movies, but I’ve had a lot of fun so far on the journey. I’ve met Hollywood producers and attended the Emmy awards!

About the Reviewer: Kathleen Fletemeyer managed outreach programs in healthcare for more than a dozen years. Her poetry appears in Midwest Review and the Creative Wisconsin Literary Journal. She is currently at work on her first novel. When the COVID-19 crisis passes, she looks forward to traveling again with her husband.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

new Alaskan romance from Barb Britton

Until June

Until June
By Barbara Britton
June 2020
Pelican Book Group
266 pp
Historical Romantic Fiction, Americana

$5.99 Ebook

Buy the book

About the book
When seventeen-year-old seamstress, Josephine Nimetz, agrees to take care of a WWI amputee in a remote Alaskan lodge, there's enough friction to melt the Mendenhall Glacier. Her position is only until June, and it pays well enough to overlook the hardship of managing a rustic home and a shell-shocked veteran.

Geoff Chambers makes it clear that he isn't too fond of the “runt” sent to take care of his needs, nor of her painful mistakes. Dealing with a depressed and addicted veteran, pushes Josephine to the brink of leaving, if not for the money her salary brings.

But Josephine is a perfectionist, determined to get Geoff back on his feet—figuratively...Although, sending a rich, handsome veteran back into society may cost Josephine the man she has grown to love.

My review
When a proper young Alaskan miss and a wounded and bitter WWI veteran are bound together by need, romance isn’t the first order of business.

Too determined to get Geoff on his feet, albeit wooden, once Jo finds the amputee’s wooden legs hidden in a closet, Jo forgoes dignity and gossip as they spend time together at an island lodge off the cost of Juneau, Alaska in 1918 and 1919. Birthdays and holidays pass over the course of nine months as Josephine turns to nurse and helpmeet from her work as a seamstress to help provide for her family after her stepfather is brutally murdered. The murder case remains open, and anxiety over the potential perpetrator keeps the sense of suspense present under the main theme of the story.

When most girls are completing high school, Josephine is stuck on a deserted island with a grumpy young man addicted to drugs. Worse yet, he’s trigger-happy, calls her a runt, and forces her to sin—by playing card games with him. When he calls her out on romantic stories she reads in a women’s magazine and dares her to enter a writing contest, Jo slowly amends her initial impressions of the soulful Geoff.

Scarcely older than Jo, Geoff had enlisted in army only to be wounded dreadfully early on. With his bad attitude, his prognosis is grim, and he’s sent away to recover or die in a secluded place where he won’t bother his stepmother and younger half-brother. But Geoff surprises everyone, including himself, when he realizes his life is far from over.

Told through our young heroine’s eyes, Britton has created an earthy and heartwarming romance filled with down-to-earth characters. Frankness and realism pepper this journey of healing from the inside out. Britton’s fans won’t find much of a leap from Biblical Israel to historical territorial America as her latest tale unfolds with her usual storytelling aplomb.

About the Author
Barbara M. Britton lives in Wisconsin and loves the snow--when it accumulates under three inches. Barb writes romantic adventures from Ancient Israel to Modern Day USA and especially enjoys bringing little-known Bible characters to light. She has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Barb is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Wisconsin Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. You can visit Barb online at or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

debut YA author Kent Raddatz on bullying

The Boy Who Dreamed
Kent Raddatz

Young Adult
Kent Raddatz, publisher
May, 2020
Ebook - $2.99
Paperback - $7.9197 pp
ISBN: 979-8638-8225-07
Buy on Amazon

About the Book
Twelve-year-old Jacob Tannin is being bullied by Willard and doesn’t know what to do about it. He pretends to be invisible in the hopes that Willard will pick on someone else. It doesn’t work. And sometimes, while he’s being picked on, something sarcastic pops out of his mouth—which never goes over well. But Jacob’s also a dreamer. And when his dreams take him to another world called Chimeran, things begin to change. In Chimeran, he’s attacked by Haggeldies, a new set of bullies. But he also makes friends who try to teach him how to stand up for himself. As he goes back and forth between these two worlds, he’s forced to see others in a new way. And he’s encouraged to believe in the power that comes from what he thinks about himself. Will Jacob ever stop being afraid? What will give him the courage to speak up for himself? And how will he learn what he’s worth when bullies in both worlds say he’s nothing?

My Review:
Debut author Kent Raddatz has produced a winner for kids who like to read, especially those who read to escape problematic reality.

Jacob is every boy, on the verge of becoming a young man who is learning about the tough side of life, and deciding his path. Will he join the side that walks over those who are different, or will he develop empathy, no matter how much it hurts?

When Jacob takes that first step of reaching outside of his own insecurity, and wondering what life is like for others and realizing that everyone is a potential friend, life doesn’t get easier. Every encounter with someone in his greater, wider world shows him another piece of his developing life puzzle. Even family members become heroes when viewed through his newly maturing sight.

Raddatz’s story is told through young Jacob’s eyes, in the well-drawn voice of a twelve-year-old learning that life is bigger than himself. Reminiscent of my favorite book of all time, Dandelion Wine, readers, both boys and girls, who appreciate coming-of-age tales, watching their narrator get the big lessons and grow, will enjoy The Boy Who Dreamed.

About the Author:
Kent Raddatz is a writer and author of The Boy Who Dreamed, the story of twelve-year-old Jacob Tannin whose dreams transport him to another world. Yet the most important thing to know about Jacob is that he’s being bullied.
Professionally trained as a Pastor, Kent worked with many children who were bullied in a variety of ways. Some were physically attacked while others were verbally abused. All were forced to put up with angry people. He listened to their stories and encouraged them to accept and love who they are.
He is well suited to write about this subject because, in his own words, “at times I was bullied; while at other times I did the bullying [I was too small to use anything except my words].”
A member of SCBWI and the Wisconsin Writer’s Association, he attended the 2015 and 2017 Novel-In-Progress Book Camp where he was awarded the Fox Ridge Scholarship.

Friday, May 22, 2020


The Lacquered Talisman, A novel of 14th-Century China by Laurie Dennis 
Historical fiction, 300 pp
Published by Earnshaw Books Ltc. (Hong Kong), March 1, 2020
Reviewed by: Bill Mathis,

$19,99 Print
$9,49 eBook
Buy on Amazon

About the Book
A sweeping coming-of-age epic, The Lacquered Talisman launches the story of one of the most influential figures in Chinese history. He is the son of a beancurd seller and he will found the Ming Dynasty, which ruled China from 1368-1644. Known as “Fortune” as a boy, Zhu Yuanzhang has a large and doting family who shepherd him through hardship until drought ravages the countryside and heralds a plague. Left with nothing but a lacquered necklace from his grandfather, Chen the Diviner, Fortune is deposited in the village temple and is soon wandering the countryside as a begging monk. He encounters pockets of resistance to the ruling Mongol dynasty, studies the stars, and tangles with Taoists as he seeks to understand his destiny. Signs and dreams leave him convinced that he has a special fate. Is he to be the abbot of a monastery? A general? What matters most is that he prove himself to be a filial son.

Bill Mathis’s Review
A fascinating and intriguing historical novel of tragedy and fortitude! 5 Stars!

From the poorest of families emerges the filial son; From the worst of times emerges the hero…

Called Fortune as a boy, later called Vessel as a teen Buddhist monk wandering the country side, Zhu Yuanzhang did not appear to be destined for greatness. At least not to my Western mindset. Yet, later he grew up to found China’s Ming Dynasty.

The autumn dew has just turned white,
The moon is the same one shining on my old home.
I have brothers but they are all scattered,
No place remains for me to ask after their fate.

Zhu’s extended family made and sold bean curd, something he probably would have continued as an adult if his family wasn’t forced to leave the city due to drought. Moving from their tiny shop to the countryside, Zhu’s father sold a younger son to a farmer for money to purchase food. Tragedy upon tragedy occur in this well written and detailed novel. A plague kills most of the family and the orphaned Zhu is taken to a Buddhist monastery where his life is still a struggle due to the plague and political turmoil. He wears a lacquered box around his neck, a small talisman given to him by his beloved grandfather who bestowed much wisdom on the boy. The box serves as his constant remembrance of his family.

We part on the road, mist rising in the air,
Around the pavilion, leaves are now rare,
I sigh – oh, how we differ from the wild geese,
When they set off to travel, no one is left behind. (Bidding Elder Brother Goodbye)

A coming-of-age book, we follow Zhu from childhood to young adulthood. He makes several lasting friends that will later appear when he leaves the monastery. Along the way, he learns from the monks to read and write, to study the stars and become a leader.

Cut it doesn’t break,
Straightened, it still tangles,
This sorrow of separation,
It is no ordinary flavor in the heart…

The Lacquered Talisman is a rich, detailed look into 14th century China. Filled with accurate descriptions of the poverty, military and political turmoil, along with the religious customs, family congruity, respect for elders and dedication to one’s parents, the book drew me in and held my interest. There are a lot of details, but Laura Dennis presents them in a manner that I did not feel overwhelmed. Her scholarship and research is astounding.

This book deals with Zhu’s life from childhood into young adulthood. The prologue and epilogue set the stage for the next book of Zhu’s adult life. I can’t wait for it!

About the Author:
Laurie DennisI am a writer of historical fiction focused on the founding of China's Ming Dynasty. Why fixate on something that happened over 600 years ago? The early 1300s, when the Mongols ruled China, was an era of political crisis, lawlessness, and natural disasters. (Sound familiar?!) Zhu Yuanzhang 朱元璋, who emerged out of a large cast of contenders to claim the Dragon Throne, was one of the major figures in Chinese history. He has been written about extensively in Chinese, including fiction, drama, film, poetry, and more. And yet, his remarkable story is almost unknown in the English-speaking world. I want to change that. Visit

The Reviewer, Bill Mathis:
Bill Mathis writes about diverse families, warts and all. His fourth novel will publish in December of 2020. Follow him on Facebook—Bill Mathis Writer Etc or his website: Bill resides in Beloit, Wisconsin and is looking forward to traveling again when it’s safe.

Monday, May 18, 2020

WWA Book Review Jenny Knipfer historical series

Blue Moon, By the Light of the Moon series, book 2 by Jenny Knipfer
Inspirational Historical fiction
self-published, September, 2019, 382 pp
Reviewed by Joan Bauer of Wisconsin Writers Association

Print: $15.99

EBOOK: $5.99

Buy on Amazon

About the Book
The year is 1885 and unwed Vanessa Gulet must surrender her newborn son to her married twin sister, Valerie, to raise. A seed of bitterness grows in Vanessa. When the opportunity arises for her to have what she’s always wanted, Vanessa takes it despite the consequences to her family. Will Vanessa and Valerie remain at odds or will they allow the power of forgiveness to heal their strained relationship?

In a new town and reunited with her son, Vanessa finds more than she bargained for: love, friendship, and a home. Vanessa and Michael (the manager at her newly inherited business) feel the pull of attraction towards each other. Vanessa trusts him, but comes to question this trust when she finds he’s kept something from her.

Valerie, overcome with loss and grief, faces the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis just as her identity as a mother is threatened. Will she and her husband forge through these trials together or will these upsets cause them to drift apart?

Love seems to bloom in the most unlikely of places in Webaashi Bay for an old friend of Jenay’s and a woman who owns the local dress shop. A parallel tale of love, forgiveness, and reuniting lost things is spun by a local author adding another dimension to the tale of the Gulet twins and their saga

Joan's Review 
My mother was a twin, and while she and her sister were not identical, we always joked that they had a certain telepathy between them. This phenomenon is central to Jenny Knipfer’s Blue Moon, where the special relationship between identical twins Vanessa and Valerie--born to a life of privilege in late nineteenth-century Toronto--is perhaps irrevocably broken.

Valerie has chosen a conventional life with her husband Felix Wilson, a wine merchant. Her sister Vanessa falls in love with Renault La Rue, a dashing rail magnate, but their love does not last: she bears his child, Luis, without his knowledge, and her politically ambitious father demands that she allow childless Valerie and Felix to raise the boy as their own. Ten years later, when Vanessa inherits Renault’s business, she spirits Luis away to Webaashi Bay on the shores of Lake Superior to teach him about his father and claim her privilege as his mother.

Life in Webaashi Bay is fresh, romantic, and wild. The town “is attractively set, almost like a well-dressed lady. Superior is as her swishing gown of azure, the buildings as her waist, and the cliffs as her head and shoulders with the trees as her headdress.” Here, Vanessa finds a welcoming community of strong, independent women. But her new friend Jenay is linked to Renault’s mysterious death, and when Vanessa learns the truth, Jenay must work to overcome the harm her silence has done.

In the same way, Vanessa must find a way to repair the terrible rift she has created in her own family. Back in Toronto, Valerie is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and Vanessa is called upon to help her adjust to her new limitations. In the process, the two of them will learn new ways to parent the son they both cherish.

Each section of Blue Moon is rigorously time-stamped; while this technique ensures clarity, it can also be a little distracting. But Knipfer creates a strong sense of place, and she draws on her own experience with MS to depict the course of Valerie’s illness with great sensitivity. As the twin sisters seek to recover their special relationship, each finds solace and redemption in a faith based solidly on gratitude.

Jenny lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Ken and their pet Yorkie, Ruby. She is also a mom and loves being a grandma. She enjoys many creative pursuits but finds writing the most fulfilling.

Jenny’s education background stems from psychology, music, and cultural missions. She spent many years as a librarian in a local public library but recently switched to using her skills as a floral designer in a retail flower shop. She is now retired from work due to disability.

She authored and performed a self-published musical CD entitled, Scrapbook of a Closet Poet. Jenny acquires joy in the journey as an author. Ruby Moon, the first title in her historical fiction series: By the Light of the Moon, earned a five star rating from Readers' Favorite. Her books are available in eBook and paperback formats through Amazon and Ingramspark.

Jenny holds membership in the: Historical Novel Society, Wisconsin Writers Association, and Midwest Independent Booksellers Association.

Joan Bauer holds a Master’s degree in English from Marquette University and has worked as a trust officer in a bank. In the course of raising three children, she has chaired fundraisers, served on boards, and volunteered frequently at church and school. She is working on her third novel.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Cozy mystery Deep Bitter Roots

Deep Bitter Roots
Deep Bitter Roots, a Deep Lakes Mystery Series, book 2
Joy Ribar
374 pp print
April, 20200
Orange Hat Publishing

ebook $5.99
Print $16.95
Buy the Book
Barnes and Noble

My Review

Deep Bitter Roots is a quirky cute cozy set in northern Wisconsin. Deviating somewhat from cozy formula in that the mystery, a death, doesn’t happen until chapter 7, nearly a quarter of the way into the book, nevertheless readers who adore small towns with fun people will enjoy the build up.

Entrepreneur and busybody Frankie Champagne, divorced and of a certain age with grown daughters, is in the perfect spot to hear and get involved in all the local gossip of Deep Lakes with her part-time journalist work and bakery/wine bar business. Having a boyfriend who’s also the local coroner is a bonus when Frankie’s latest project, helping an heiress put together a speech rededicating the town park, goes awry.

The granite industry made Deep Lakes a century ago, but until now, its secrets were literally buried under a long-time Ides of March curse. Using all her wiles and delectably filled bakery boxes, Frankie offers to lend an eye to her friends on the police force and those in other official capacities when they must deal with a suspicious death. Most of them gratefully trust her.

Heavily detailed with a large cast, readers can walk into this second Deep Lakes mystery without having read the first book of the series. Readers who love the aroma of baked goods in all their glory and are intrigued by wine-making will get their fill with this sweet mystery. The story is told generally from Frankie’s point of view with the help of two internal sidekick conscious minders and includes many wonderful epigraphs opening the chapters. And recipes!

About the Author
Joy Ann Ribar lives in central Wisconsin where she writes the Deep Lakes Mystery Series, starring baker/vintner Frankie Champagne. Joy’s writing is inspired by Wisconsin’s four distinct seasons and other Wisconsin whimsical quirks, which she hopes to promote for all the world to enjoy.  Joy is a member of Sisters in Crime and Wisconsin Writers Association. Joy and her husband, John, someday plan to sell their house, buy an RV and travel around the U.S. spreading good cheer and hygge! Joy is a little proud that her first mystery, Deep Dark Secrets, is the #1 bestselling fiction with Orange Hat Publishing for 2019.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Debut historical fiction with Jane Yunker

Ebook $3.99
Print $12.99

Mary Bishop, by Jane Yunker
Historic romance, 230 pages
February 2020, self-published

About the Book:
Mary knew from the moment they met, Earl Bishop would be the love of her life. Together they survived the Civil War and the loss of their children, only to face a much greater danger from the people of one small northern town.

When Earl dies, Mary is left alone to continue the fight against those who would harm her. Can she trust local shop owner, Oliver Polk, when he offers his help, and his heart?

Just when all appears lost, an old friend returns to help Mary overcome her grief and learn how to love again.

My Review:
I knew Jane Yunker as a most favored poet, so I was eager to read her first full length novel. This wonderfully poignant historical work set during a devastating period in American history admirably traverses northern and southern sympathies in the nineteenth century.

The first half of the story is set in Virginia where Mary, the daughter of a minister, is encouraged to read widely and learn about the world. She is a child of the South, but not a wilting Southern Belle. The love of her life, Earl Bishop, is raised in neglect and violence; a hard-working and sensitive young man, he finds his way to Mary’s family after attempting to show kindness to the slaves under his uncle, an overseer on a large plantation with many ill-treated slaves, and is beaten. Mary and Earl marry and set up their home nearby, making a good living from the land and Earl’s work at a lumber mill. Their firstborn, a son, is the darling of their eyes, and eventually Mary and Earl find special friends in Sara and Lucas when their sons join forces in mischief at school.

Earl’s sensitive reaction at the loss of an infant daughter push him off the wagon and he begins a lifelong battle with addiction. Only the perilous undertaking of giving aid to the most desperate gives him purpose in life. Mary lives in fear for Earl and their friends and family if Ear is caught. Her fears come true with the death of Sara’s husband. This tragedy is the tip of the iceberg of fear as war between the States looms. Mary and Earl’s son is the embodiment of State’s Rights convictions. Torn between pride in their child, Southern sentiment and tradition, and their own belief that the institution of slavery is wrong, Mary wonders if perhaps they shouldn’t have had more open dialog in their family as their son proudly goes to fight.

The ravaged South no longer feels like home at war’s end, and Mary and Earl relocate to northwest Wisconsin where Earl can work in the lumber mills. But the north is not so welcoming and the viciousness of those who also lost their sons to the rebellion make life intolerable for Earl. Twelve years of suffering pass and Mary is left a widow. But life is not over, and Mary learns that not everyone in her adopted community shares the sentiments of the most vile of town biddies. Meeting rumor, false accusations, and death threats with dignity and a well-aimed pistol, Mary shows her true character and reaps only good things.

One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Mary has nothing left and teaches her husband Earl a lesson in how his actions affect everyone around him. “Who taught you to swear?” he asks at one point. “Who do you think,” Mary responds.

Told through Mary’s point of view, this lovely, poignant story opens in the ultimate tragedy, reverses and builds slowly to meet itself in time and move forward. Mary’s insecurities, grace, longing, and anger offer readers who love strong characters at a fragile time in history much to enjoy in Mary Bishop.

About the Author:
Jane is a blogger, poet, and fiction writer living in NW Wisconsin along the beautiful St Croix River. Most recent publications include Creative Wisconsin, Oshkosh Independent, Living and Playing Magazine, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ calendar (2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018), Red Cedar 2015 and 2016 (UW Barron County), and the Hometown Gazette. She won the Saturday Evening Post’s 2014 Easter limerick contest. Her first novel, Mary Bishop, was a finalist in WisRWA’s 2016 FabFive competition in their historical romance category. Her current work-in-progress is the first of a trilogy, The Pine Lake Girls: Alice.