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Guest Writer

Guest writer Sol Kelly

Sol Kelly

Bookstagram Bonanza Edition

Guest Writer Graphic for Sol Kelly

October 2, 2020

Dear Book Lovers,

I am so very happy to introduce you to today’s Guest Writer. Sol Kelly lives in Houston, Texas. She is the creator of the gorgeous book blog, The Sol Reader, and the popular Bookstagram (Instagram for book lovers) page, @thesolreader. Sol is an absolute free-spirit who loves to travel and explore new bookstores while learning new cultures and languages along the way. She is currently working on becoming quadrilingual in English, Spanish, French, and Japanese 😮! Sol is a mood reader whose favorite genres include literary and contemporary fiction, social science, gender + sexuality, and poetry. Sunny beaches, cold beer, and good reads give this ray of sunshine life. I hope you enjoy her letter to Mr. H. and follow her around on all of her bookish adventures. I can assure you…this gem will brighten your day ☀️☀️☀️.

Enjoy!

❤️❤️❤️

Kelly

P.S. Sol told me she hails from the city where people second-line and throw a party for everything. Can you say New Orleans 🍺🎭🎉!!!

_____________________

Dear Mr. H., 

While 2020 seems to have been written by a fantasy and thriller author who gets a laugh out of that whole “it’s one thing after another” stunt, the one thing they did get right is the amount of amazing books that are coming out this year. I’m not sure how many books you now have on your TBR (to be read) list, but if it is anywhere close to mine, a number we shall not speak of, then I hope All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson is somewhere on there. If it is not, you need to add it as soon as possible because this book is a gem and the author is an incredible creative. 

I believe that knowing more about the author helps to elevate the reading experience. There’s something about getting to know them beyond their pages. With George M. Johnson, the more you learn about them, the more you fall in love with their authenticity, creativity, vulnerability, and innovation. I literally fangirl every time I see Johnson on my timeline, and if you’ve checked out their Instagram you will see why. They never disappoint..and I mean NEVER. George M. Johnson is an award winning writer and Bestselling author of All Boys Aren’t Blue who recently invited us in on identifying as nonbinary (pronouns: they/them) and queer. They are constantly and continuously demonstrating the importance of having agency over our lives. 

All Boys Aren’t Blue is an LGBTQIA+ Young Adult read (with a stunning cover for all my cover lovers like myself) that has an overarching theme of agency – being able to control our narrative. Johnson does an incredible job of showing what this has looked like in their life throughout every chapter from discussing their upbringing to their relationship with their family to their college experience in regard to becoming a member of a fraternity to exploring their identity and sexuality. We get a taste of it all, which I know with confidence will not only help younger readers see themselves in these pages, but everyone who cracks open the book, especially those of us who longed for books that gave us the words and convictions to navigate our own identities and sexuality in our respective worlds growing up and even now. Johnson words it perfectly on page 85 when they say, “You sometimes don’t know you exist until you realize someone like you existed before.” Have you ever read a book that made you feel understood and considered, Mr. H.? Maybe your works do that for others. 

The book is categorized as a memoir-manifesto with an outstanding amount of vulnerability expressed in every story that is admirable and is home to so much beauty. We are seeing a Black, queer, nonbinary author be an open book (pun intended lol) and give us stories we need – the stories that get buried in headlines, in graves, and in family secrets. Stories that never get told but should. Stories that challenge the gender binary and the heteronormative systems in society. Stories that speak to unconditional love and acceptance, and that give us permission to be our most genuine, authentic, bold, brave, and queer selves.

You should be adding All Boys Aren’t Blue to your cart…right…about…NOW!

Shine Brightly, 

Sol

P.S. Click on the book pic below to purchase this amazing read from an incredible bookstore!

Sol Kelly's bookstack

**Photo credit~Sol Kelly

I Support You

Note taped to barn door that says "I Support You"

June 4, 2020

Dear Readers,

It has been a horrible week in the United States. With so many people hurting, I would like to especially acknowledge all of my Black readers and followers. I will never understand the pain you are going through, but I support you. With that said, my heart is broken. This week I have been quietly reflecting and listening. I am taking time to sort through everything. I am having difficult conversations with family and friends, reading more, and understanding more. All, so I can do more. Today I am sharing with you a few things that I am doing to not only educate myself but lend support to those who need it most.

As a community of book lovers, here is one thing we can all do today to show our support for the Black community.

The next time you order a book, order from one of these Black-owned local bookstores.

 

❤️❤️❤️

Kelly

P.S. Here is what I am reading.

Stay Gold

The Outsiders Beauty shot

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

May 5, 2020

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Ponyboy Curtis. Does that name ring a bell?  If not, let me fill you in. Ponyboy is the 14-year-old narrator of the coming of age classic, The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton. Hinton started writing this book when she was just a teenager. Her controversial book was published in 1967 when she was 18 years old. Through the decades, The Outsiders has been banned from various school districts and libraries for its portrayal of gangs, violence, underage drinking and smoking, and dysfunctional families. According to the American Library Association, The Outsiders is ranked #43 on the top 100 books challenged between 1990-2000.  I first read this book in middle school and again most recently.  I really liked it the first time around, but it was my second read through that absolutely sealed the deal. The Outsiders does not disappoint. It has truly stood the test of time.

I’ll break down the basics for you to either jog your memory (for those who have read it way back when) or intrigue you for any newbies.  Hinton’s story takes place in 1965, Oklahoma.  Ponyboy Curtis lives with his two older brothers, Sodapop and Darry.  When their parents are both killed in a car crash, the brothers are allowed to stay together under Darry’s care as long as they pose no trouble.  The three brothers, along with a crew of others, are called “greasers”.  They are basically low income kids who live on the wrong side of the track. The kids who live on the “other” side of the track are called the socials, or socs for short.  You know, “the rich kids”.  These two “gangs” were always ready to rumble.

Hinton sets the tone of her book from the start.  The characters are introduced, the town is clearly divided and her protagonist easily identified.  The story centers around the night Ponyboy and his good friend Johnny are jumped by a couple of the socs.  In the middle of their altercation, Johnny accidently kills one of the other boys in order to protect his friend.  From there, the story delivers an emotional punch.

In my opinion, S.E. Hinton’s, The Outsiders, is brilliant.  Weighing in at only 180 pages, this short novel is chock full of survival and the quest for all things good. Readers will be immersed in a world where family is who you surround yourself with and where you call “home”  Right vs. wrong is often defined by the times. It is not always black or white, the gray creeps in begging to be questioned.  Loyalty is what keeps you grounded, until it doesn’t.  Let me tell you this… The Outsiders has everything.  It is the hardness of Hinton’s characters and their lewd behaviors that allow readers to see the difference between right and wrong.  It’s the depths of her characters’ emotions that break through their exterior facades that make them truly human and not just one gang vs. another. The controversy of this book gave me a deeper look into the souls of a bunch of lost teenagers, longing to be found. 

Hinton gives her readers an inside look into the mind of a 14 year old boy.  Ponyboy’s intimate feelings are revealed as he questions the only world he knows.  His relationship with Johnny intensifies after their horrible night.  The depth of their friendship left a permanent mark on my heart.  There will never be a time when I look at my weathered copy of Gone With The Wind, and not think of Ponyboy and Johnny.  The cigarettes they smoked and conversations they had, late into the night about a story from another time and another place…..that is the heart of it all.   Hinton challenged me to think, why does it have to be just greasers and socs? What happens to all who fall between? How far can one push the wrong in order to feel the right?  

Plan to fall in love with Ponyboy.  His innocence and curiosity of the outside world will warm your insides.  His goodness is raw and beautiful.  His love for his family and his friends is uncompromising.  His desire to do right in a world that has presented itself so much differently than he chooses to believe, is what will make him into a man I would love to meet one day.  I can say this to you today…..I loved this book and hope and pray my boys find something to embrace and cherish from this golden story.  Friendship, brotherly love and morality in a confusing world is what I left this story with. Be the change for a better tomorrow.

If you have never read this classic…hop to it. If it has been decades since your first read of it…..it time to revisit. I am not typically a re-reader, but I can attest….the second time around was fantastic. I can promise you this…..I WILL read this again. The third time’s a charm! Stay gold Ponyboy, stay gold!

I wish you all love, good health and a promise of a fabulous tomorrow!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S.  Frances Ford Coppola directed  the movie adaptation of The Outsiders in 1983.  The cast includes some of my favorites…Matt Dillon (hunk of love),  Rob Lowe (yes please), C. Thomas Howell (remember Red Dawn), Ralph Macchio (swoon), Tom Cruise (double swoon), Patrick Swayze (gahhhhh), Emilio Estevez (ooh la la), and Diane Lane (Love her).  S.E.Hinton had a cameo appearance in the film playing a nurse!  How fun is that?

Click on the book pic below to purchase.

The Falcon Has Landed

A Misson to Save the world cover

Elon Musk: A Mission to Save the World by Anna Crowley Redding

July 1, 2019

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

As you already know, I am a mom to three boys (13, 11, and 9). Like many kids, they typically ride the bus to and from school every day. Taking the bus decreases school morning traffic, is better for the environment, and is overall a more efficient way to get to school.  During the last few weeks of the school year (who am I kidding…the last few months) we have embraced some extra sleep time and a more relaxed morning and opted to drive to school (FYI…bad habit to fall into). Every morning as we pulled into the middle school parking lot my son would shout…“Did you see that Tesla car mom? That is so cool. It goes on a charger at night like a phone. I think you need to be a millionaire to drive that.”  I’ll admit, in my pre-coffee morning haze, I found myself shouting back, “where, which one, what color?” Once I saw the sleek and stylish Tesla vehicle exiting our school parking lot, I proceeded to ask, “Do you know who came up with that particular car?”  Radio silence. “Well, guess what, Anna Crowley Redding ( AKA…….our friend/neighbor) just wrote a book about the man behind Tesla and it was written just for you and your friends.”

Elon Musk:  A Mission to Save the World is Anna Crowley Redding’s new Young Adult biography perfect for your 13 year old and up.  Her book introduces you to Elon Musk, the billionaire behind Tesla cars and many other groundbreaking companies.  Not only is her book fresh and relative for today’s teens, it inspires readers to think outside their comfort zone, become forward thinkers and dream the impossible dream (they sometimes really do come true).

Elon Musk is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world.  I will admit, other than Tesla electric cars, a few rocket ships, a messy love life and controversial tweets on Twitter, I personally did not know that much about this multi-billionaire.  Tesla, PayPal, and SpaceX are just a few of his accomplishments. Did you also know that this gentleman developed reusable rockets and is determined to colonize Mars sooner than later? What makes Crowley Redding’s book so accessible to teens is that she takes them back to Musk’s humble beginnings to see how this global genius came to be.  Launching rockets in his backyard and being bullied at school, Musk had a childhood that many were unaware of and many can actually relate to. He was a dreamer and problem solver from day one. His goal to save our planet and make our world a more efficient place to live still rings true today. Crowley Redding offers her readers a VIP pass into the powerful and intellectual world of Elon Musk from his childhood through present day.

What I love about Anna Crowley Redding’s new book is that it draws readers in from the beginning.  She hooks you from the start with superhero references, video games and inspiring classic novels (can you say, The Lord of the Rings and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?).  She writes about Musk in a way that makes him seem everyday and relatable.  Her book depicts a man that was and still is always thinking and planning 10 steps ahead of everyone else.  His ideas for reusable energy, maximizing resources, space travel and changing public transportation continue to flourish each day.  She thoughtfully introduces her readers to Musk’s family and important people in his life that helped shape him into who he is today. Her style of writing is perfect for teens with caption boxes included throughout her book labeled, “Lingo Alert”, “Road Trip Alert” and “Fun Fact”.  These boxes beautifully highlight places, unfamiliar jargon and important facts for readers to easily access throughout their reading journey. Along with her wonderful writing, Crowley Redding brings to life Musk’s story with plenty of real life photos and social media pics of the people and places in her book.  With her easy to digest writing and photos to match, teens will gobble this book up in no time flat. I look forward to seeing this book in our middle schools, high schools and on bookshelves around the world. Though Crowley Redding’s book was written with teens in mind, it is a stimulating read for us older folks as well ( mind you……I’m not really that old).

Happy Reading everyone!

Until next time Mr. H.

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S.  Mr. Musk………..if you are reading this, my boys are requesting a Tesla MINIVAN.  I must say………this would be extremely beneficial to us mini-van moms and dads!  I am very happy to share my professional mom input with you for the ultimate family ride.   Can you also make this a lease-option?????????? Just saying!!!!

To purchase Elon Musk: A Mission to Save the World by Anna Crowley Redding click here.

Who Doesn’t Love a Good Backrub?

Google It book cover

Google It: A History In Google By Anna Crowley Redding

November 13, 2018

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Who doesn’t love a good backrub? I know it seems odd that I am opening up my letter today talking about something other than books and literary things. Stay with me though, I can explain. I am sure you have heard of the multi-billion dollar company, Google. But did you know that its original name was “Backrub” (no joke)? Well, I sure didn’t. If you are even slightly curious about this piece of Google history, then I urge you to check out Anna Crowley Redding’s hot new YA book, Google It: A History of Google. From Google’s modest beginning run out of a friend’s garage, to its current home in a three million square foot office complex on 68 acres of land, Crowley Redding takes her readers on a behind the scene adventure on how Google really came to be.

While reading Google It, readers will quickly discover that Google started off as a thesis project for Stanford University students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.  Crowley Redding dives right in by sharing how Page and Brin’s first computer server storage rack was built out of second hand “lego type” building blocks.  She continues with how Jennifer Lopez’s infamous dress at the 2000 Grammy Awards was responsible for the creation of Google Images, how the events of September 11th prompted the development of Google News, and how automatic spell corrections during Google Search came about from the constant misspelling of Britney Spears’ name.  This and so much more can be found between the covers of this incredible book.

The structure of Crowley Redding’s book is superb.  She provides excellent sidebars that offer a plethora of fun tidbits for readers to enjoy. Crowley Redding introduces Page and Brin’s story in perfect chronological order starting from their individual childhoods to the future of Google.  Her writing style is accessible and easy to digest for young adult and adult readers alike.

We are living in an age where technology is a part of our everyday lives.  The days of looking up information in books and encyclopedias are long gone.  It is so easy to take for granted how fast we can access information of any kind with a click of a mouse and how our cars practically drive themselves on autopilot because of Google Maps.  Google It will no doubt highlight the advancements Google has made in the past 25+ years.  Most importantly though, Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s true story will show you how impossible ideas can turn into something completely possible, influential, and life-changing for all of mankind.  Their story of hard work and determination will inspire young ones to build the unimaginable with their plastic building blocks, code the next big video game and take us to places far far away.

Google It, by Anna Crowley Redding, is a book for now.  It is not only a book filled with mind-blowing information but a book filled with dreams and inspiration.  This story truly belongs on everyone’s bookshelf.

Read it, love it, share it, and for goodness sake…GOOGLE IT!!!!!

Enjoy!!!!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S.  Anna Crowley Redding is a former Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter.  Be on the lookout for her upcoming YA book, ELON MUSK:  A Mission To Save The World (July 2019), and her picture book titled Rescuing The Declaration of Independence: How We Almost Lost The Words That Built America, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham (2020).  This author is one to watch. Feel free to GOOGLE Anna Crowley Redding’s name.  I’m sure you will find her at annacrowleyredding.com and @annacrowleyredding on FB and Instagram.

Click here to buy Google It: A History in Google By Anna Crowley Redding

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