Saturday, July 16, 2016

Author Spotlight: Melanie Dickerson

Sometimes you find a new to you author and then proceed to read absolutely everything you can find by that author. That was my experience recently when I was introduced to Melanie Dickerson. Recently while at ALA, my daughter and I both picked up ARC (Advanced Reader Copies) of books by Dickerson. They look interesting enough that instead of mailing them home as we did the majority of the books we picked up, I stuck these into my carry-on luggage. I quickly read the first book I had picked up, The Princess Spy, and discovered it was part of a larger series titled The Fairy Tale Romance Series. I then recalled that I had nabbed several of these books on sale via my Kindle. So, I started at the beginning of the series and read through the entire series, and even purchased the one or two I didn't have already, straight to the yet to be published The Silent Songbird.

As the series title indicates, these novels are based on fairy tales. Each book is a re-telling of a specific fairy tale such as Cinderella or Snow White. Each fairy tale has been set in medieval Germany and are based around one particular kingdom. As such, while each story can and does stand alone, they are also part of a larger series where Dickerson entertwines the stories in a most enchanted way. As I was reading the stories, several fairy tales were easy to spot due to the names that were chosen for the main character or other clues. However, for other stories, it was quite difficult to discern which fairy tale was the basis for the story. In addition to the fairy tale as the basis of the story, Dickerson does an amazing job with the details of the setting and larger historical context. For example, being set in medieval Germany the characters are historically all members of the Catholic church. As such, she incorporates their faith easily into the overall story in a natural way. Some of the characters in each story are members of the aristocracy and have access to the Latin Bible which is then brought into the story as well.

Melanie Dickerson's primary audience for these works is young adult. However, I found the stories completely engaging although I am well past my young adult years. Being young adult novels, I was able to read through them quite quickly which helped in my binge read of the whole series in one weekend. This series as well as her newer series A Medieval Fairy Tale and The Regency Spies of London are highly recommended for school and public libraries as well as church libraries. They are perfect for junior high and high school readers who have out grown the Disney Princesses and are also familiar with the original Grimm fairy tales. They are also highly recommended for mother-daughter read-together opportunities.

Newest from Richard Louv

If you have previously read Richard Louv's books The Last Child in the Woods or The Nature Principle, his newest work Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature Rich Life needs to be added to your to-purchase pile. Unlike his previous works which focus more on the theoretical side of why spending time in nature is important, Vitamin N is a guide-book for parents and anyone else who works with children which gives ideas on how to easily provide opportunities for children to experience nature. As such it is not a book to read straight through and then put on your shelf. It is a book to leave where you can access frequently and dip into on a regular basis so that the ideas shared can be put into practice.

My review copy was an ebook but this book really needs to be purchased as a print copy in order to make the most of it. If you are a parent of pre-schoolers or early elementary aged children, you need to run to the nearest bookstore and purchase a copy of this book. If you are a home-school family, this book will be a great asset to nature study and other educational endeavors. While targeted to parents, there are ideas that can be implemented by adults as well. Libraries, schools, YMCAs, and other organizations that provide services to children and families will also benefit from having access to this book.

I was provided a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Her Texas Family

Her Texas Family by new to me author, Jill Lynn, is a great breezy summer read. Part of the Love Inspired series, this book was a departure from my typical historical fiction. However, it was a very enjoyable departure. A brief synopsis of the book is available on the Amazon page and I don't wish to give away any more of the story than necessary, so instead I'd like to focus on a specific aspect of the story--the in-laws. Her Texas Family focuses on the creation of a new family and involves what is left of a previous family. Unfortunately, the in-laws are controlling and cause all kinds of problems for the potential new couple. While reading the story, I found myself quite angry at the in-laws for their socially elite attitudes and controlling behavior. As such, beyond a lovely and clean romance, several life-lessons about how people treat each other or should treat each other are rolled into the story as well.

Recommended as a great vacation read whether you are camping, at the beach, or poolside. Appropriate for teens as well as grown-ups and would provide opportunity for great mother-daughter discussion. I look forward to reading additional books by Jill Lynn as well.

I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.