Thursday, May 25, 2017

Author Interview : Connie Ann Michael

A new resident of Montana, Connie Ann Michael grew up in a close family on the outskirts of Seattle. 

Drawn to the Lord she's followed her calling of service and has taught for twenty-six years, currently the fifth grade teacher at Crow Agency Public School, on the Crow Reservation.

 Connie loves her family and is lucky enough to have two grown boys

. Living with her husband and two dogs in Big Sky country, Connie enjoys any activity that takes her outside and is working hard to overcome her fear of being eaten by a bear to enjoy more hiking trips in the mountains.

Connect with Connie Ann at the links below:


Eighteen-year-old Oli cannot remember life outside the barrier, a life before the oil spill that poisoned human kind, killing half the population and infecting the other half until they deteriorated from the inside out, forced to walk the earth as Screamers. It’s a dangerous new world in which barely anyone makes it past the age of twenty, and Oli’s time is running out.

Studying the Bible, Oli searches for words to help restore faith in a lost world, and when she receives a message from God telling her to leave the barrier, she knows what she must do. There’s only one problem: Her best friend, Coi, doesn’t believe her, and he’s showing the first signs of infection. But before she can convince him to leave with her, the Governor quarantines Coi and orders his execution.

Oli risks it all to rescue Coi, and they set out to find sanctuary away from the safety of the compound, not knowing who or what will get to them first: the Governor, the illness, or the Screamers. When they stumble upon a group of uninfected humans hidden among the rubble of an apartment building, they think they’ve found their salvation. But not everything is as it seems, and their enemies are closer than they thought.  


In the after math of a toxic spill the oceans have died and
civilization begins to falter.  It then spreads through air, soaking
into the skin and mutating the infected into “The Screamers”.

Generations pass and OLI, an eighteen-year-old survivor, cannot
remember life before the barriers.  Venturing out only in the safety
of the sunlight, Oli craves knowledge from the past. She searches
for answers to the illness in old books because she’s not willing
to give up on a society who has turned their backs on their faith.

The Governor of the Barrier sets his eyes on Oli, and her best
friend, showing the first signs of infection. They escape the
barrier in the middle of the night, leaving behind the only home
they’ve ever known. Oli hopes they will find a safe haven before
The Governor or the illness takes her best friend from her.

In the desolate landscape, they find refuge in a small settlement
where they take shelter, but not without catching the attention of
the Guard. Oli stumbles upon a hidden group among the rubble of an
apartment building, where she meets MATTY, a boy whose body is
mutilated and disfigured. But he’s gentle and carries a faith that
shows it’s never too late to believe in hope.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Review: Murphy Boys

Today I am going to be starting a series about a topic that is very important and interesting to me. I love learning about mental health and helping to education and create change in the world. This year every few months I will be reviewing books that fall into this category. You can check out this series here. You can check out all my series here. 

I have mixed feelings about this book but will take it at its merit. This is a "supposed" personal true story told by a therapist. Does anyone but me think that it is unethical that this story was told? or published. Maybe I am silly 

I disliked the way the author expressed her view in this book. She was judgemental and at times rude in her talking about Kevin. She says shes helping him, but then talks about him the next moment. I felt she lacked compassion, which she was supposed to provide these children, and she gets paid to be compassionate. 

I disliked her writing style. While some of it is heartfelt, her repetitive inner monologs are entirely annoying and unnecessary. I also feel like this is when she is the rudest. I wanted to skim the chapters and completely ignore her thoughts. The best writing was when Keven was involved it made them interesting and heartfelt. I disliked her second side story also. 

I thought Kevin's story was so heartbreaking. It was really crazy to see how much someone can fall between the cracks of the system. He was transferred from care facility to care facility. It was so powerful and crazy. I would hope that his life gets much easier from here on out.

Links for purchase: Amazon // Barnes and Noble // Abe Books // Book Depository 

Goodreads Description: 

His name was Kevin but his keepers called him Zoo Boy. He didn't talk. He hid under tables and surrounded himself with a cage of chairs.

 He hadn't been out of the building in the four years since he'd come in. He was afraid of water and wouldn't take a shower. He was afraid to be naked, to change his clothes. He was nearly 16.

Desperate to see change in the boy, the staff of Kevin's adolescent treatment center hired Hayden. 

As Hayden read to him and encouraged him to read, crawling down into his cage of chairs with him, Kevin talked. Then he started to draw and paint and showed himself to have a quick wit and a rolling, seething, murderous hatred for his stepfather

A Little Bout the Author: 

Victoria Lynn Hayden, known as Torey L. Hayden (born May 21, 1951 in Livingston, Montana) is a child psychologist, special education teacher, university lecturer and writer of non-fiction books based on her real-life experiences with teaching and counselling children with special needs.
Subjects covered in her books include autism, Tourette syndrome, sexual abuse, fetal alcohol syndrome, and elective mutism (now called selective mutism), her specialty.

Hayden attended high school in Billings, Montana and graduated in 1969. She then attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.

A little time after having written her most famous book One Child, Hayden moved to Wales in 1980 and got married to a Scot called Ken two years later. In 1985, she gave birth to her daughter Sheena. Hayden is now divorced.

She has also written three books of fiction in addition to her non-fiction books.

Author Links: Website // Goodreads 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Book Review: Maus I- A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History

As someone who loved comics, my favorite Sunday memory outside of going to church, is reading the paper with my grandfather, although I would just read the comics. Denis the Menace, Donald Duck, Family Ties, and a bunch of adult ones that I didn't understand but loved the look of them. These were what I like to call easy safe for children comics. It's the happy stuff, no one really likes to talk about the bad stuff. Heck, I don't like talking about the bad stuff. This is a dangerous mindset when it comes to history though. We are bound to repeat what we don't learn from. That's where this painfully beautiful graphic novel or comic comes in.

I have read this novel once a month since January because it really is a painful comic. I believe you need to enjoy it in chunks.

The issue with comics that are safe for children is that they are stripped of any pain, they make us believe that life is always going to be a grand adventure, or that bad stuff never happens. Which is so far from the truth. I don't believe that children should necessarily be exposed to gruesome elements of life every day, but I don't believe she should completely shelter them either. Of course, parents can use their best judgment. This book or comic books, in general, will give us the ability to do that without forcing children to sit in the corner, or entirely saturate them in the pain.

Actually, in the past comic books have been used to do just that. Think about DC comics and you will see their point, to explain a little about what war is in a child-like way. I don't wish to state anything about whether this is right or wrong, just pointing out an interesting piece of American literature.

On of the biggest reason why men like Hitler or groups like the Nazi's tend to take hold is because they try and occasionally succeeded at dehumanizing their perceived enemy, in this case, it was the jews. The famous quote of Adolf Hitler is, " The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but not human." They nearly succeeded at this. This comic book tells us the human story of a dark era, thus breaking the mindset and breaking light to the subject. The book is to from a very personal side, that of his father, yet it is distant and factual. It is extremely emotionally gripping.

This is the story of Vladek Spiegelman, who is a Jewish survivor of the horrible holocaust. He survived Auschwitz and has also had an extremely troubled and possibly at times complicated relationship with his son, Art Spiegelman. He is a man who is so detailed, and almost obsessive about things, which seems to create quite a rift. They tend to have such a love- almost hate relationship. On thing I loved about this book is it wasn't just the holocaust, it was also a story about how much pain and abuse can affect you and those that you love. He saw unimaginable suffering and struggled with coping with his son how was born after the holocaust had occurred. I believe this is also the tale of exactly how survivors guilt can take on the human soul.

This story is painted about Art's parents, up until their incarceration, if you want to call it that in Auschwitz. It is interestingly narrated by a handsome man, an entrepreneur of sorts, living in Poland. The story also talks about his blissful, and enjoyable life with his wife Anja. This is until the war, and holocaust turn their life upside down. The story is mainly about how Nazism really gained a strong hold in German and then moved through most of Europe. The story about how life for the jews, became very unsafe. You can feel the fear, and stress as you turn the pages.

Ultimately we see that Vladek is captured as a prisoner of war. He observes the way that they are treated. They way that it is so different from that of other prisoners of war. That ultimately the Nazis just want to see them in the ground. As you flip through the pages you see how Poland is changed,  how this hate spreads across their homeland like wildfire.

This book will break your heart in unimaginative ways. Prepare to experience a variety of mixed emotions as you read through this important illustrated narrative of unimaginative human strength and overcoming unbearable pain. I can not recommend this comic enough. Even if you never read another comic this is one you just cannot afford to miss.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads 

Goodreads Description: 

This is a 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning illustrated narrative of Holocaust survival.

Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity and succeeds in “drawing us closer to the bleak heart of the Holocaust” (The New York Times).

Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek’s harrowing story of survival is woven into the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century’s grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors. Maus studies the bloody pawprints of history and tracks its meaning for all of us.