The Reviews Are In: How Many Book Reviews Did I Post in 2021?

Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and looks forward to a new year with new hopes, fresh possibilities, and maybe a book contract? If the contract seems a bit too far away, there is still hope that whatever books we have out in the world will find new audiences.

With that in mind, I am sharing my third New Year Book Review Post letting you know the books I wrote reviews for on Amazon and Goodreads in 2021. The best way to spread the word about great books and unknown authors is to WRITE A REVIEWIt only takes a few minutes to write a couple sentences telling the reading world what you like about a book. As a children’s book author, I can tell you how much it means to see some kind words about a book and sharing it on your solcial media.

Here are the books I enjoyed and posted reviews for in 2021:

  1. A HORN IS BORN (PB) by Bill Borders
  2. CODE BREAKER, SPY CATCHER (PB) by Laurie Wallmark
  3. WORDS COMPOSED OF SEA AND SKY (YA) by Erica George
  4. FROM HERE TO THERE (PB) by Vivian Kirkfield
  5. RISSY NO KISSIES (PB) by Katey Howes
  6. LITTLE EWE (PB) by Laura Sassi
  7. DON’T CALL ME FUZZYBUTT (PB) by Robin Newman
  8. STEPSISTER (YA) by Jennifer Donnelly
  9. STARFISH (MG) by Lisa Fipps
  10. BOARDWALK BABIES (PB) by Marissa Moss
  11. WE BELIEVE IN YOU (PB) by Beth Ferry
  12. THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM (MG) Holly Goldberg Sloan
  13. SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE (PB) by Cathy Ballou Mealy
  14. STOMP, WIGGLE, CLAP, and TAP (PB) by Rachelle Burk
  15. ORANGE FOR THE SUNSETS (MG) by Tina Athaide
  16. WISHES (PB)  by Moun Thai Van
  17. ISABEL AND HER COLORS GO TO SCHOOL (PB) by Alexandra Alessandro
  18. WALKING WITH MISS MILLIE (MG) Tamara Bundy
  19. PIXIE PUSHES ON (MG) by Tamara Bundy
  20. WOOF: THE TRUTH ABOUT DOGS (PB) by Annette Whipple
  21. BEACH TOYS vs SCHOOL SUPPLIES (PB) by Mike Ciccotello
  22. DINO PAJAMA PARTY (PB) by Laurie Wallmark
  23. SCURRY: THE TRUTH ABOUT SPIDERS (PB) by Annette Whipple
  24. A BRIEF HISTORY OF UNDERPANTS (PB) by Christine Van Zandt
  25. LILLIAN LOVECRAFT AND THE HARMLESS HORRORS (MG) by David Neilsen
  26. A QUEEN TO THE RESCUE (PB) by Nancy Churnin
  27. DEAR MR. DICKENS (PB) by Nancy Churnin
  28. SWEET BLISS/GOOD CATCH (an adult series about Harper Landing) by Jennifer Bardsley
  29. 101 PRANKS AND PRACTICAL JOKES (MG) by Theresa Julian
  30. A HOME AGAIN (PB) by Colleen Kosinski

Were there some books you enjoyed in 2021? I’ll bet there will be some more amazing stories in 2022. Why not make a resolution to post reviews for some of your favorites. I guarantee you will make an author’s day!

Happy Reading!

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Author Colleen Kosinski Talks About Her New PB: A HOME AGAIN.

Picture book author/illustrator Colleen Kosinski has a new book out, just in time for the holidays. I asked Colleen where the idea came from and also left my review and the end of the post. Here’s Colleen:.

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Q: Why did you decide to write A Home Again?

A: It’s a funny story. All of my children had moved out and my husband and I were talking about downsizing. When my children got wind of our plan, they were not happy. They couldn’t imagine riding by our house and not being able to stop in and visit. My own parents are still in my childhood home, so I never really thought about how I’d feel if I couldn’t visit the house I grew up in. Anyway, we decided to stay in our house.

Q: How did the unique POV come about?

A: As I was thinking about my childrens’ reaction I started thinking how the house would feel if we left. Then something just clicked, and the story was born. As I wrote, I tried to think of the house as a child. How would a child feel if they were suddenly abandoned? Confused? Sad? Angry? I tried to think about how a house could express its emotions.

home again

Q: What simple message do you want readers to remember about A HOME AGAIN?

A: In my story there are two families. The one who moves away, and the new one who makes the house a home again. The second family in my story is a gay family who adopts a baby. It’s not the focus of the story, just another family who loves the house and who the house loves. So, I’d say the message of my book is “Love is love and love makes a home.”

“Love is love and love makes a home.” is a beautiful message for a lovely story. Thank you Colleen, for sharing it with us.

Here is my review for: A HOME AGAIN by Colleen Kosinski, Illustrated by Valeria Docampo

Exquisite illustrations compliment a text that conveys all the special things that make a house a home. Told from the house’s POV, all the feelings that come from being lived in, cared for, and celebrated shine through the house, until its occupants move away. Then feelings turn sad, grey, lonely, as the house sits neglected. Can it ever be a home again?

A gently told story of what it means to treasure and appreciate the place we call home.

“Love is love and love makes a home.”

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@Colleen Kosinski http://www.ColleenRowanKosinski.com

Colleen writes picture books and middle grade novels. Her picture books include Lilla’s Sunflowers, A Home Again, and Love Made Me More (2022). Her middle grade novel is titled, A Promise Stitched In Time. For the last year she has been working as an editor at Reedsy.com and teaching classes on picture book writing. She is also involved in her local chapter of the SCBWI, and the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature. Colleen is a graduate of Rutgers University, as are her husband and sons. Her daughter followed the bright lights to work in the film industry in LA. Colleen works from her Cherry Hill, NJ studio with her canine assistant, Sage.

Check out Colleen's new picture book!
A Home Again
https://colleenrowankosinski.com/my-books/a-home-again/

and her other titles
https://colleenrowankosinski.com/my-books/

2021 Collingswood Book Festival…An Outdoor Celebration of Books.

On Saturday, October 2, 2021, I had the pleasure of participating in the 17th Collingswood Book Festival. Because of Covid and everything being virtual last year, it felt especially grand to be outdoors sharing books face-to-face with people who love them. And, it was great reuniting with fellow KidLit Authors. Here are some photos of the day’s events.

coll5YA Authors Marie Andreau and Yvonne Ventresca.

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Sharing a table with fellow author Charlotte Bennardo.

coll1Picture book author Robin Newman (below)

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Author Nancy Viau (right) and

 

 

Author/Illustrator Mike Ciccotello (below)

 

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Some other KidLit Authors Club authors who attended but I never got photos of: Colleen Kosinski, Rachelle Burke, Annette Whipple, David Neilsen. I hope you all enjoyed the day as much as I did.

It was a sunshine-filled afternoon and a great opportunity to reconnect with the writing community. Thank you Collingswood Festival Committee!

 

coll4MG and YA author Dianne Salerni

Author Colleen Kosinski Presents Her New MG: A Promise Stitched In Time.

When brainstorming for a new book idea I like to scour the Internet for interesting stories. Many days dawn turns to dusk as I plunge down the rabbit hole of article after article. One day, I came across a snippet from a book called Nazi Chic that mentioned two girls who were imprisoned in the attic of Hedwig Hoess (the wife of the Commandant of Auschwitz) and forced to make clothing for her and her family using fabric from the very clothing that had been stolen from the prisoners of the camp! Nobody knows the girls’ names or what became of them.

With that story in the back of my mind, I was perusing a thrift shop looking for cool vintage clothes. As I examined the garments I started thinking about the clothing’s backstory. Were these once prized possessions of the former owners? Had somebody scrimped and saved to buy this silk dress? Was this retro coat a beloved anniversary gift?

It was then that the two ideas began to merge and that is how the story of A Promise Stitched In Time (Schiffer Publishing 2018) began.

912EbeHM7QL_thumbnailHere is the blurb from the book:

Promises can be hard to keep, but Maggie McConnell is determined to keep the promise she made to her father before he died. She must win a scholarship to a prestigious art program, but her grief gets in the way as she struggles to find her artistic vision. When Maggie purchases an old tweed coat as inspiration, she never guesses this fur-collared coat will forever change the way she views life and her place in it. The coat awakens her muse, but also awakens something else: Maggie believes its previous owner haunts the coat. Dreams and visions give way to clues from the past, and then a Holocaust victim’s tattoo appears on her arm. With the help of a steampunk-dressing school outcast named Taj, Maggie must decipher what the ghost wants her to discover, and in the process find herself.

Darlene asked me to think of five things a reader should know about my main character.

My main character is Maggie McConnell, an Irish Catholic girl from New Jersey.

She has a sister Patty who is ten months older. Some people call this an “Irish twin.” While her sister is outgoing and popular (and a bit bossy), Maggie is quiet and more of an introvert.

Maggie and Patty’s father has been dead for three years, and the story shows how each of the sisters deals with their grief in different ways.

Maggie is a visual artist and throughout the story the reader sees how Maggie relates to the world through “artist’s” eyes.

Maggie grows more confident as the story progresses. She befriends the school outcast, must solve the mystery of the identity of the ghost who haunts her vintage coat, and she even gets her first kiss.

While the themes in this story may be heavy, I try to keep a balance of lightness and some humor for my middle grade audience. What I would like the reader to take away after reading this book is to consider how we treat others and be active in helping those who are being treated unkindly. This is something we all need to remember in these days and times.    

Attention Teachers: a free 42 page downloadable teacher’s guide is available for A Promise Stitched In Time on Colleen’s website!

AuthorPortrait   A Promise Stitched in Time
https://colleenrowankosinski.com/my-books/a-promise-stitched-in-time

15 Years and Counting: Another Great Book Festival in Collingswood, NJ.

On Saturday, October 7, 2017, I attended my 4th Collingswood Book Festival as an author and this one was finally held outdoors thanks to the beautiful, sun-filled day.  And, as one of the featured authors at this year’s event, I was privileged and thrilled to talk about WHEELS OF CHANGE with many 4th and 5th graders from the local schools, as well as to reconnect with fellow authors and friends.

Here are a few  photo highlights:

During the Wheels of Change “Book Talk”

Meeting with some enthusiastic students after the book talk.

With fellow children’s book author Patricia Lugo.

Finally meeting Liza Royce Agency sibling and my favorite YA sci-fi author: Joshua David Bellin

YA panel on writing fantasy.

Kid Lit Author’s Club author David Teague

 IF you missed this year’s event, mark your calendar for next year.  For a lover of books, it’s one of the best festivals around.

http://www.collingswoodbookfestival.com

 

Picture Book Author Colleen Kosinski and her husband keeping cool.

Hanging out with my daughter and “gal Friday” before the festival started.

 

Colleen Kosinski and Sunflowers.

Today’s post features one of my writer/illustrator friends Colleen Kosinski, who talk about her debut picture book LILLA’S SUNFLOWERS (Sky Pony Press)

I’ve been writing for many years. The journey began with picture books, then screenplays; moved on to young adult stories followed by middle grade manuscripts and returned home to picture books.
Before dipping my feet into the writing pool, I worked as a freelance fine artist.  That suited me well because it allowed me to stay home to raise my three children. As they grew older I became available to take on more challenges.  So I set down my paintbrush and picked up a pen. (Actually a computer keyboard but a pen sounds so much better. I imagine it as an ink pen complete with a feather with me dipping into an inkwell, scrawling my words by candlelight). After many years of solely writing, I combined my two passions to create picture books.      01_Lilla's Sunflowers_cover2_625h

Lilla’s Sunflowers originated like my career, through a journey of discovery. I first drew the illustration of Lilla you see on the front cover. I stared at her and realized she wanted a story. But what was her story? Why was she standing in a field of sunflowers? Was she sad when the sunflowers died? I started thinking about the seasons and how they applied to our lives. My first draft involved death. If you knew that my manuscripts for older children deal with death, reincarnation, and astral travel you’d understand why I went there first. Later in the process I thought the topic might be a tad morbid for a picture book so I had to keep thinking and sketching drawings for inspiration.

I’m not sure what particular moment it happened, but seeing videos of children and dogs being reunited with military men and women returning from service over seas, a light bulb went off in my head. The separation of a parent from child during a tour of duty is always difficult for all involved and is mirrored by the changing seasons with the anticipated return home similar to the blooming of plants in the spring and summer. It’s on this backdrop that Lilla’s strategy to stay connected with her father has wonderful unintended consequences.

Lilla’s Sunflowers shows how one small act of love and kindness can spread to people and places you’d never imagine.

http://lillas-sunflowers.colleenrowankosinski.com/trailer/

My agent submitted the book to publishers and within six months we had a contract with Sky Pony Press. I worked very hard to meet all my deadlines and now, a little over a year since signing the contract, my book is real. I can actually hold it in my arms! My first book baby. Now I’m anxious to give it some siblings!                SUNFLOWER_AUTHOR_PIC_500_WIDE

To find out more about my work you can visit me at http://www.ColleenRowanKosinski.com

Spread the sunshine!