Billboard Express by Sigmund Brouwer and Cindy Morgen

March 1, 2018


Billboard Express by Sigmund Brouwer &Cindy Morgan

Published by Orca Book Publishers; c2016 ; 118p.                    ISBN: 9781459811089  Series: Orca Limelights

Billboard Express, debuts Cindy Morgan, award-winning singer-songwriter/wife to Sigmund Brouwer, as co-author, in this new title in the Orca Limelight series
This tale follows a character that surfaced briefly in ‘Rock the Boat’ by Brouwer.

Charlene Adams, now known as ‘Elle McWilliam’, singer/songwriter has all the ingredients to fulfill her dream of being a big country music star. She is smart, strong voiced character, yet is plagued by underling insecurities that intrude on her as she struggles with the hustle and idiosyncrasies’ that make up the Nashville music industry.

Elle must find the courage and heart within herself in order to follow the words her mother told her “be true to yourself“!

The strength of this narrative lies in the fact that Morgan’s familiarity with the whole concept of what a singer/songerwriter has to endure in this industry shines through and is reflective in what the central character, Elle must discover.

This is a highly engaging and empowering read for any young person who has a dream!
Highly Recommended for Intermediate and Senior readers! Five stars!


[ARC supplied By Orca Book Publishers in exchange for an honest review]

Moon at nine by Deborah Ellis

April 8, 2014

Moon at nine by Deborah Ellis

Moon at nine by Deborah Ellis

ARC: compliments of Pajama Press

: 273 pages; c2014 

From the publisher:

“A riveting novel set in Iran, where sexual orientation can have deadly consequences.

Based on a true story”.


Genre: Realistic fiction

Grades : 8, 9 (intermediate)



It is the stark dramatic cover of Deborah Ellis’ latest book, that captured my attention.

Reading those three simple words, ‘Moon at nine’….seeing the hazel-coloured eyes staring through two strands of barbwire … for me, is a very powerful image. Resisting the urge to flip the book over, I tried to figure out what this story would be about. My musings were not even near to what Ellis had written.

This story is far from being atypical….it is about a fifteen year old Iranian teen named Farrin, who is the daughter of a wealthy family in 1980’s Tehran, set during the Iran and Iraq war known as the ‘Gulf War’.

We see the story of Farrin’s privileged life, unfold through her eyes. Farrin is dissatisfied — almost bored, with her life, attending an all girls school, while evading daily bombings, and becomes less tolerant with her relationship with her mother.

Her facade of discontent comes to a screeching halt with the arrival of a new student Sadira. Sadira’s outgoing, gentle nature (personality) touches something within Farrin. The two girls connect on a level that has Farrin questioning just who she is.   The pull of Sadira’s steadfastness and compassionate caring personality is something that Farrin cannot resist and they are drawn to each other — like moths to a flame. Though they try to suppress this feeling, but to no avail, Farrin and Sadira find that their friendship evolves into a relationship that can only lead to an outcome that neither girl would anticipate.


Freedom … a word that is often taken for granted … and the author has given us a glimpse into a world that reads like a part of history, yet it is still a part of the present … for many young women throughout the world.

This is a story, that I am glad, author, Deborah Ellis had the courage to tell, as it was, for the woman who had the courage to tell it.

Great classroom discussions and highly recommended!!

Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City

March 28, 2010

Name of book: Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller

Themes: Adventure, girl power, middle school, fun

At first I didn’t think that I would enjoy this book, however after the first chapter which I found a little shaky,  I really started to enjoy the originality of the characters and plot.  Kirsten Miller has created a fabulous book for middle school girls, and of course adults too, her group of Irregulars are entertaining to say the least. The Irregulars are a misfit band of outcasts from the Girl Scouts, all with interesting talents and abilities.  Kirsten used the name Irregulars “as a tribute to another group of young delinquents — Sherlock Holmes’s Baker Street Irregulars. The original Irregulars were Victorian street urchins who worked as spies and errand boys for the world’s most famous detective. They were given the tasks no adult could perform.” While Sherlock’s group was missing a female presence,  we are fortunate to have Kirsten give us  a group of strong, curious and  intelligent girls who are ready to take on any adventure.

This book will definitely develop devotees among middle school girls, the writing is witty and engaging and the lists that the narrator, Ananka Fishbein, makes are terrific! Check-out

Dragon Seer by Janet McNaughton

February 16, 2010

The book Dragon Seer by Canadian Author, Janet McNaughton, had me from the first pages!  A book set in what are the Orkney Islands and the long forgotten race of people known as the Picts, makes for a wonderful read. The reader is caught up with Madoca story;  a strong character who struggles with revenge and her impulsiveness — and her diemma of how should she rescue her beloved charges from annihilation? We watch how Madoca training , determaintion and personal growth also earns her  Tollie’s respect and admiration. Her eventual  maturity  allows her to reach a painful decision for saving her dragons.

Though a teen read, this book of magic, history and dragons will definately appeal to the more mature reader as well!

Reading ability:  Intermediate; Senior

Genre: Fantasy; Historical fiction; Romance

Theme: Magic ; Dragons; Orphans; Love

Who would like this book?  Girls looking for strong women role models; readers interested in dragons, history and magic!

Authors, Website:

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

February 5, 2010


 Abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle—a string of slaves— Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina. But years later, she forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic “Book of Negroes.” This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own. Aminata’s eventual return to Sierra Leone—passing ships carrying thousands of slaves bound for America—is an engrossing account of an obscure but important chapter in history that saw 1,200 former slaves embark on a harrowing back-to-Africa odyssey.
Lawrence Hill is a master at transforming the neglected corners of history into brilliant imaginings, as engaging and revealing as only the best historical fiction can be. A sweeping story that transports the reader from a tribal African village to a plantation in the southern United States, from the teeming Halifax docks to the manor houses of London, The Book of Negroes introduces one of the strongest female characters in recent Canadian fiction, one who cuts a swath through a world hostile to her colour and her sex.
Reading ability: Adult fiction
Genre: Realistic fiction

Theme: Black history; Survival; Slavery; Courage; Determination

Book trailer & Author on-line link

Ruth Law thrills a Nation by Don Brown

February 5, 2010

In 1916, a young woman named Ruth Law attempted to fly from Chicago to New York City in one day-something no one else had been able to do. This is the story of that thrilling attempt.

RUTH LAW THRILLS A NATION is a non fiction read aloud that chronicles the pilot’s journey from the morning of the flight, when she woke up in a tent on the roof of a Chicago hotel, to her landing in New York City the next day. Although circumstances prevented her from achieving her goal, Ruth Law broke all United States nonstop flight records.

It is an amazing story of a dangerous journey made by a pilot whose courage deserves to be more widely known.

Reading Ability:  Primary and Junior

Curriculam tie-in: Flight; Biography; Women as role models

Genre: Realistic fiction; Adventure;

Theme: Adventure; Courage; Determination

WHo would like to read this books? Girls looking for heroines and strong women role models

Teacher links:

Teacher resources: