Friday, April 28, 2017

Best Books of April

Spring is here, bringing plenty of time to sit outside and read. Since it's the last Friday of the month, it's time to tell you all about the great books I read this month.

First up is this fun book from one of my co-writers on my upcoming book Best. Night. Ever. I love Alison Cherry's writing, and I know you will, too!

In Willows vs. Wolverines, pranks are the name of the game. But Izzy's desire to fit in has her telling a bit of a fib about her brother. When her cabinmates won't take her prank suggestions seriously, she tells them that her brother is the king of pranks, having earned a reputation as a legend. The pranks were off-the-hook fun in this one, but there's also an underlying message about the cost of popularity and the importance of honoring real friendships.

Next up is this fun read by a rare specimen in children's middle grade fiction: a male author. Not only is Brooks Benjamin's title captivating, but check out this eye-catching cover!

My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights introduces us to Dillon, a lovable seventh grader who just wants to dance. It seems everything is working against him in reaching that goal, though, including a dad who wants him to play football. But he sees his chance when he hears about a very important audition and his friends sign off on him giving it a shot. Of course, there's a catch--after his audition, he's supposed to speak out against the cause. I love the fact that this MG book shows just how difficult and athletic dancing really is. You'll be hooked on this one from the first page!

I was reading Beth Ellyn Summer's blog before she sold her first book. So you can imagine how excited I was to be able to load it onto my Kindle earlier this month!

In At First Blush, we meet Lacey, who takes us along on an internship at a fashion magazine. Lacey is a beauty vlogger on YouTube, where she offers makeup tutorials. Her internship gives her plenty of one-on-one time with a famous pop star named Tyler, who seems to have a crush on her. Books like these take me back to adolescence, when I loved reading books about young girls who go on big-city adventures. I only wish it had been around 30 years ago!

I was excited to read the next book from the moment I heard the premise. Karen Helene Walker has gathered a group of highly-talented authors to reflect on aging.

I actually learned from Still Me, and I'm not so young myself! The overriding theme of this book is that no matter how old you get, you don't really feel that age. Writers battle the war between missing their younger skin, joints, and vitality and embracing the comfort they feel with who they are. These essays are inspiring...and they make you realize you have a lot to look forward to. As one author quoted, considering the alternative, aging isn't too bad at all!

By now, I know that when I download a Medeia Sharif book, I'm going to love it. She's not only prolific, but she's megatalented. Her latest book is an intense thriller with a premise that draws you in.

Girl Without a Face is my favorite kind of thriller: the kind that keeps you guessing until the end! At the beginning of the book, Destiny gets into a car accident that leads to amnesia. Over the course of the book, though, we begin to see that some ominous clues and we start to realize things aren't as they seem. It just takes Destiny a little longer to realize it. A riveting read no matter what age you are.

What's the best book you read in April?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Claw vs. The Granny

As I listened to yet another millennial ridicule the way we wore our hair in the 80s, I found myself sighing out loud. She even referred to it by a name I'd never heard before: The Kansas Claw.

The claw referred to that thing we did to the top of our head. It was shaped like a claw, I guess? Most of us were aiming more for something that looked like Blair Warner:

Yes, I get it. We looked ridiculous. But do we look any more ridiculous than they did in the 70s?

Or the 90s?

And what were young men to their hair doing a few years ago?

Flash forward to today when young women are intentionally doing this to themselves:

I'm not saying any one haircut is better than the other. I'm saying that you can't tell us we're the only generation to look back at our fashions and hairstyles years later and say:

What do you think is the worst hairstyle of all time?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Introducing Project Best Friend by Chrissie Perry

Today's book birthday is more of a "relocation." A very adorable, spunky, beloved character in Australia is coming to America. Penelope Perfect is a fun chapter book series by Chrissie Perry about a girl who just wants to be perfect. I can't wait to start reading this series!


Penelope Kingston tries to convince the new girl in town to become her best friend in this charming start to the brand-new Penelope Perfect chapter book series.

Penelope Kingston wants to be perfect. And most of the time she is good, sensible, and calm. But then sometimes Penelope is bossy, angry, and frustrated. She is never quite sure which side of her personality is going to be stronger on any given day.

But there’s one part of her life that is definitely not perfect: she doesn’t have a best friend. It is time for Penelope to get a best friend of her own.

But it isn’t easy finding a best friend, and it definitely isn’t easy trying to be perfect all of the time. Penelope learns that sometimes the best idea is to forget to try!

Buy Links:

Amazon | B&N


Chrissie Perry is the author of over thirty books for children and young adults, including thirteen books in the popular Go Girl series and the award-winning Whisper. She lives in St. Kilda with her husband, three children. Like Penelope Kingston, Chrissie believes it’s great to aim for excellence. But she also has a sneaking suspicion that going with the flow every now and then can also work out just fine.

Author Links:

Monday, April 24, 2017

Mystery Monday: Heather Uffelman

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...

When you love true crime, as I do, you'll find you're often asked if you have any hometown crime stories. My own hometown was relatively boring. However, I do have a crime story that comes a little too close to home. This story takes us back to the early 90s, when I was in college here:

Jeremy Rolfs managed the student TV station, complete with nightly newscasts and original programming. I won't say our broadcasts were anything you'd want to watch...they were on the amateurish side. But Jeremy was a talented supergenius who kept things running smoothly.

Jeremy Rolfs

In my senior year, Jeremy fell in love with another student who worked at the station. Her name was Heather Uffelman and she was one of the nicest people you'd ever meet. They soon were engaged.

Heather Uffelman

In September of 1992, Jeremy was working for a Nashville music video company when he was asked to deliver some equipment to a man named Tom Johnson. Tom had responded to an ad and wanted Jeremy to meet him at a Knights Inn in Marietta, Georgia so that he could purchase it.

Jeremy and Heather arrived at the motel at 7:30. Tom said his partner hadn't shown up yet with the check, so Jeremy and Heather went to breakfast. When they returned at 8 a.m., the business partner still wasn't on site, so Tom suggested they load the equipment in his car. Afterward, they stood in his hotel room, chitchatting for a while, before Tom suddenly pulled out a gun.

Composite of Tom Johnson via Unsolved Mysteries

After forcing them to roll themselves in bedsheets, Tom beat the two of them with a hammer before cleaning the dresser in case there were fingerprints. He ran from the room, leaving the two for dead. 

Heather died from her injuries, but Jeremy survived. After an appearance on Unsolved Mysteries where his identity was concealed, he joined the Peace Corps. Sadly, in 1997, Jeremy died in a car accident in South Africa. The other driver had fallen asleep behind the wheel.

Heather's murder was never solved. However, less than two years later, a couple was vacationing in Nashville when the wife was approached by a man offering to help the husband land a record deal. Kellie and Robb Phillips apparently fell for the ruse because later, when he showed up at their hotel room, they let him in. 

Robb and Kellie Phillips

He tied Robb up, beat him to death, then sexually assaulted Kellie and beat her to death, as well. His name? TOM Steeples. His occupation? He owned a computer company in Nashville. The equipment he was buying from Jeremy and Heather the day he assaulted them? A computer. 

Tom Steeples was arrested for Robb and Kellie's murder and later committed suicide in jail. I'd like to believe the police checked for connections with Heather and Jeremy's case. What do you think?