THE LITERARY GARDEN

Coming from Colorado to live in the Low Countries, I was immediately drawn into the wealth of colors the early breaking spring delivered here. People took great care with small spaces planting gorgeous flowers that have bloomed from early March right through. Right now, showy hydrangeas in white, blues, and pinks overflow my neighbors yards. I have enjoyed all the sights, textures, and scents as I walk the streets. It also got me thinking about books centered around a garden. Below are a few I think may be worth checking out.

The Girl from the Tea Garden- Janet MacLeod Trotter

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“In the dying days of the Raj, Anglo-Indian schoolgirl Adela Robson dreams of a glamorous career on the stage. When she sneaks away from school in the back of handsome Sam Jackman’s car, she knows a new life awaits—but it is not the one she imagined.

In Simla, the summer seat of the Raj government, Adela throws herself into all the dazzling entertainments 1930s Indian society can offer a beautiful debutante. But just as her ambitions seem on the cusp of becoming reality, she meets a charming but spoilt prince, setting in motion a devastating chain of events.

The outbreak of the Second World War finds Adela back in England—a country she cannot remember—without hope or love, and hiding a shameful secret. Only exceptional courage and endurance can pull her through these dark times and carry her back to the homeland of her heart.”

 

The Princess’s Garden: Royal Intrigue & the Untold Story of Kew- Vanessa Berridge 

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“The British enthusiasm for gardening has fascinating roots. The Empire and trade across the globe created an obsession with exotic new plants, and showed the power and reach of Britain in the early eighteenth century. At that time, national influence wasn’t measured by sporting success, musical or artistic influence. Instead it was expressed in the design of parks and gardens such as Kew and Stowe, and the style of these grand gardens was emulated first throughout Britain and then increasingly around the world.”

The Secret Garden- Frances Hodgson Burnett

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“Mistress Mary is quite contrary until she helps her garden grow. Along the way, she manages to cure her sickly cousin Colin, who is every bit as imperious as she. These two are sullen little peas in a pod, closed up in a gloomy old manor on the Yorkshire moors of England, until a locked-up garden captures their imaginations and puts the blush of a wild rose in their cheeks; “It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of roses which were so thick, that they matted together…. ‘No wonder it is still,’ Mary whispered. ‘I am the first person who has spoken here for ten years.'” As new life sprouts from the earth, Mary and Colin’s sour natures begin to sweeten. For anyone who has ever felt afraid to live and love, The Secret Garden‘s portrayal of reawakening spirits will thrill and rejuvenate. Frances Hodgson Burnett creates characters so strong and distinct, young readers continue to identify with them even 85 years after they were conceived.”

Good News for Elephants

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photo: Johnny Ljunggren

With 2017 getting off to a limping start, I am happy to report some good news this week for the long term survival of elephants. China will end trade in ivory this summer. Prior to European colonization of Africa, elephant numbers were thought to be around 20 million. The continent today  is home to less than 500,000 elephants.

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My latest book, Elephants Never Forgotten, envisions a time when the great African plains no longer support these majestic creatures. They are missed and an effort is underway to bring them back. To write the book, I did a lot of research on these sentient creatures and their emotional lives. I hope readers get to know these animals on a deeper level and come to see their value (and the value of all life).

Amazon link: https://goo.gl/EdYS3C

NOW IN PRINT! Elephants Never Forgotten

 

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Just in time for the holidays.

Order through Amazon: goo.gl/EKcVDB

What’s it about?      Jurassic Park meets Micro 😉

A hundred years in the future, twelve-year-old Nigella receives a shipment from her deceased grandfather. Her inheritance is a herd of micro-elephants. While a lot of her friends have micro-pets, Nigella is at a loss on how to care for them. Why are her micro-pets so different from everyone else’s? What was her grandfather up to? With the help of her best friend, Kepler, the girls set off on an adventure to discover the truth.

Also available as an ebook.

3 Creepy Tales for Middle Graders

The days grow shorter and the nights carry a chill. Halloween is just around the corner and here are some suitably scary tales for fall.

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

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Twelve-year-old Katherine Bateson believes in a logical explanation for everything. But even she can’t make sense of the strange goings-on at Rookskill Castle, the drafty old Scottish castle-turned-school where she and her siblings have been sent to escape the London Blitz. What’s making those mechanical shrieks at night? Why do the castle’s walls seem to have a mind of their own? And who are the silent children who seem to haunt Rookskill’s grounds? Kat believes Lady Eleanor, who rules the castle, is harboring a Nazi spy. But when her classmates begin to vanish, one by one, Kat must face the truth about what the castle actually harbors–and what Lady Eleanor is–before it’s too late.

Brightwood by Tania Unsworth

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Daisy Fitzjohn knows there are two worlds: the outside world and the world of her home, a secluded mansion called Brightwood Hall. But only Brightwood is real for Daisy–she’s never once set foot outside its grounds. Daisy and her mother have everything they need within Brightwood’s magnificent, half-ruined walls, including Daisy’s best friends: a talking rat named Tar and the ghost of a long-ago explorer who calls herself Frank.

When Daisy’s mother leaves one morning, a peculiar visitor, James Gritting, arrives on the estate, claiming to be a distant cousin. But as the days tick by and Daisy’s mother doesn’t return, Gritting becomes more and more menacing. He wants Brightwood for himself, and he will do anything to get it.

Curse of the Boggin by DJ MacHale

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There’s a place beyond this world, beyond the land of the living, where ghosts go to write their unfinished stories—stories that ended too soon. It’s a place for unexplained phenomena: mysteries that have never been solved, spirits that have never been laid to rest. And there’s only one way in or out.

It’s called the Library, and you can get there with a special key. But beware! Don’t start a story you can’t finish. Because in this library, the stories you can’t finish just might finish you.

 

Excavating Pema Ozer by Yudron Yangmo

 

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As you all probably know, I have a deep interest in Buddhism and recently came across this book. It is a wonderful story of a teenager coming into contact with Tibetan Buddhism for the first time.

Here’s the blurb:

Weslyn Redinger wants one thing: to be normal again. Racked by panic attacks that have ruined her life and driven off her friends in the months since she saw the body of a young boy she loved rolled out to a waiting ambulance, she is now drawn into a circle of seekers who surround a mysterious stranger living in her grandmother’s backyard shed. After reluctantly attending his teachings, a series of dreams is unleashed—as vivid as her waking life. At night she is an attendant to the female teacher Uza Khandro from the Tibetan countryside, during the day she is a flawed sixteen-year-old struggling to get control over her body and her life. Why does she care so much about this man’s story of a long-lost set of Tibetan books hoarded by a greedy collector?

Amazon link: http://goo.gl/TFX8sy

 

BORN OF ILLUSION by Teri Brown

 

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This is an engaging story of teen Anna Van Housen’s life as a stage magician during the 1920s. When Anna and her mother relocate to New York City, their lives become more stable with sold-out shows. Unfortunately, Anna’s relationship with her mother is strained and when she insists that they continue to do séances on the side, Anna becomes worried. Although the séances are totally fabricated, Anna has real psychic ability she has yet to come to terms with. Continuing with the séances also puts them under the scrutiny of the police and debunkers (not the least of which is Harry Houdini who happens to be in New York as well). As success with the magic show and the séances grow, Anna gets mixed up with paranormal researchers, a high society bachelor, and a kidnapping plot. It’s a fast moving book with lots of well-researched facts about New York and the 1920s. And Harry Houdini might just be Anna’s father.

BOOK GIVE-AWAY CONTEST:

June 9, 2016  CONTEST CLOSED:

The winners are TA Sullivan and wildteadrinker. I’ve sent messages to you both. Congratulations!!

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It’s contest time! Leave a comment below and be entered to win a copy of the electronic version of Elephants Never Forgotten. Contest closes at noon (EST) on Tuesday (June 7th). Two books will be awarded on Thursday, June 9th. As a theme, name a sci-fi book (or author) you like.

SHIFT by Jennifer Bradbury

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This is a fast paced mystery book that will keep you guessing. It is one of the few books I read quickly cover to cover.

The story opens with Chris in his first week of college. An FBI agent appears asking questions about his best friend, Win. The last time Chris saw his friend was when Win ditched him near Seattle on their cross-country bike trip. Win has been reported missing having failed to come home or arrive at Dartmouth. At first, Chris thinks Win is just up to his usual shenanigans, but as time passes and the FBI agent’s attention on him becomes uncomfortable, he’s forced to dive into Win’s disappearance.

The author has done a wonderful job constructing the novel using alternating chapters showing the investigation and flashbacks to the bike trek. The novel explores the depth of friendship and the mysteries of trying to fully know another.