May 30th, 2016
Frederick lee brooke presents (Book Reviews)(1)

Book review: Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

Fuzzy Mud, by Louis Sachar, is a middle-grade novel with a big story hidden beneath a romp of fright and friendship.

At the prestigious Woodridge Academy, fifth-grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi is a top notch student who yearns for a place to belong. Struggling to adjust to the changes brought on by the divorce of her parents, her life is further complicated when her best friend starts teasing her for not being cool.

Her only refuge is Marshall Walsh, the seventh-grade boy who walks home from school with her every day, but even Marshall’s attitude has taken a sour turn for the worse. Chad Hilligas, resident bully, has picked Marshall as his new favorite punching bag.

When Chad dares Marshall to meet him in the forbidden woods near town, Marshall decides to prove that he’s not a coward, and trick Tamaya into coming with him.

But what started as a prank turns dangerous when the kids unwittingly stumble into the grounds surrounding SunRay Farm, a factory that secretly produces a renewable energy source called Biolene. A mysterious occurrence has allowed the Biolene to escape the factory and take over the surrounding area, leaving the forest covered in a strange fuzzy mud.

After a treacherous venture through the woods ends in a fist fight between Marshall and Chad, Tamaya defends herself by shoving a handful of the fuzzy mud into Chad’s face. As the kids run off their own way, Tamaya gives little pause to the tingling sensation left in her cuts and scrapes, and washes them off at home and goes to bed.

The real nightmare begin when she wakes up the next morning, covered in a blistering rash and a bizarre white powder—the dust of her own decaying skin.

Then the school’s headmistress delivers the disturbing news that Chad never went home the night before, and Tamaya must decide if she should forgive the pain he caused her in order to save his life.

Fuzzy Mud is a morbidly sweet tale of friendship and forgiveness, where Sachar reminds us that people are more than who they seem to be on the surface and that healing can come in the most unexpected of ways.

Though a short book, this novel contains some moderately graphic details of disease and would be best recommended for readers who can handle such material, especially if their reading interests include age-appropriate horror. But beware: love for Louis Sachar is sure to spread, driving young readers to devour his books at a speed that would put even the fuzzy mud to shame.

Learn more about Louis Sachar and his books!

May 23rd, 2016
Frederick lee brooke presents (Drones)

Money in the Air? The High Flying Sport of Drone Racing

written by Drone Reporter Rachel Borene

Ladies and gentlemen, start your motors!

Welcome to the world of drone racing! Did you know that the first U.S. National Drone Racing Championship was held in 2015? This sport has quickly become a favorite past time for both drone pilots and fans watching from the sidelines- or from their computer screens.

In this revolutionary new sport, drones twist and turn through obstacle courses using a method called First Person View. In First Person View, a pilot attaches a
camera to their drone and must use only the live video feed to guide their machine through the race track. This creates an exciting challenge, giving the pilot a view as if they’re sitting inside the drone itself, zooming through the race course… and in drone racing, anywhere is a potential race track!

Whether it’s through a forest or an abandoned building, on an amateur obstacle course or a professional one, drones can go where other machines can not. Of course, this creates some unique challenges when trying to involve fans. When watching a NASCAR race, viewers can sit in a stadium to watch the cars go around the track. With drones being but a blur through the air, it can be difficult or even impossible for viewers to see them, especially if the drones are heading through buildings.

The sport has gained enough attention, however, that financial backers are becoming willing to finance better technology for racing teams so that fans can watch competitions. In fact, in New York, The Drone Racing League was backed for $1 million by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

So, just how enthusiastic are the fans of this new sport? Enough that winners of big races can earn some seriously sweet cash. The inaugural World Drone Prix was held on March 11th and 12th, 2016, in Dubai. The first place winner, fifteen-year-old Luke Bannister, from England, won a prize totalling $250,000 U.S.
dollars. The total prize pool available to split across all categories was a cool $1 million.

If you’re a fan of video games, technology, and racing, try picking up a racing drone today! You never know where your skills will take you!

May 16th, 2016
Frederick lee brooke presents (Book Reviews)

Book Review: Masterminds by Gordan Korman

Masterminds, by Gordan Korman, is a new middle-grade novel full of adrenaline-fueled action scenes and jaw-dropping plot twists.

In the town of Serenity, New Mexico, kids have everything they need. The town sits like an oasis in the dessert, full of modern homes and swimming pools, tree houses and swing sets. In this blissful community, poverty and crime are unheard of, and the only thing the kids have to worry about is passing their classes at school and what they’ll do in their free time.

If only they could leave.

Masterminds by Gordon Korman (cover image)Eli Frienden is bored out of his mind. Living in the middle of nowhere, he and his best friend Randy have learned to create their own amusement—but after yet another risky stunt leaves their boomerang caught in the filter of Randy’s swimming pool, Eli thinks the excitment of the afternoon is over.

Then Randy confesses that he snuck out of town and found a rusty old car in an abandoned shed. Eli worries that breaking the rules and leaving Serenity will enrage his strict father, who is the mayor of the town, but the promise of adventure lures him into hopping onto his bike and following Randy down the road.

That’s when Eli’s life is changed forever.

As soon as they pass the town limits, Eli is struck down by a shockwave of pain that sends him crashing to the ground. A black security helicopter appears in the sky above him, and while Eli is taken to the hospital, Randy is punished by being kicked out of Serenity forever.

Scrambling for answers, Eli is further shocked when a lightning storm causes a brief glitch that allows him to see a website full of uncensored American history, and he realizes that his entire life has been a lie.

With his own father as his greatest enemy, Eli rallies the other kids in his school to break into the Serenity Plastic Works, the factory in town that claims to make orange traffic cones.

Once inside, the truth comes crashing down, delivering a unique plot twist that will leave readers stunned. Having learned the gut-wrenching truth of who they are and where they come from, the kids are faced with big questions about the purpose of family and what it means to take control of your own destiny. The kids concoct a plan that sends the action speeding forward, leading to a break-neck finish that will leave readers gasping for a sequel.

Author Gordan Korman once again earns his place among top middle-grade writers, weaving a thrilling tale full of expert foreshadowing, relatable characters, and creative plot twists. The work of a practiced and imaginative author, Masterminds is a darkly whimsical tale that will play in the imaginations of readers long after the last page is turned.

Learn more about Gordon Korman and his books!

May 9th, 2016
Frederick lee brooke presents

Women in the Wind: The Enthusiastic Community of Women Drone Pilots

by Drone News reporter, Rachel Borene

Whether you’re a brand new drone hobbyist or an experienced pilot, you may wonder where you can learn more about the growing number of women who are a part of the drone community.

To start, look no further than the Amelia Dronehart group, a club comprised entirely of women who fly both commercial and handmade drones. With over six hundred members on Facebook at the time of the publication of this article, the club is a growing and vibrant community. Members range from young girls who are flying their first drone to trailblazing scientists such as Roberta Villavecchia.

Villavecchia, an advocate for girls in science, is a former aerobatics pilot and NASA Engineer, who helped develop fuel for rockets during the Apollo missions. Along with spending her time introducing girls to the excitement of science, she can frequently be found flying her Phantom series of drones through the open skies of Northern California.

Then there’s the Helicopter Girls, a video production team comprised of pilots Emma Boswell and Katya Nelhams-Wright. Based in London, England, they specialize in using drones to capture high-quality video footage and have worked on movies such as Mission Impossible 5.

Pake Salmon, a native of Hawaii, is another photographer who is known for her exquisite aerial wedding photography and breathtaking surfing videos. By using her drones to capture wedding photographs, she’s able to highlight the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands where the events take place. For her surfing videos, her precision as a pilot allows her to fly her drones above the surface of the ocean, achieving perspectives which would otherwise be impossible to capture.

If you’re interested in keeping up on news in the drone community, have a look at the website of pilot Sally French, also known as The Drone Girl. Not only is French a widely published author on the topic of drones, she’s also worked as an undercover agent, using her drones to expose and crack down on crime! She appeared in Forbes Magazine’s article “Four Top Women Shaping the Drone Industry.”

No matter where you look in the drone community, there’s intelligent and innovative women there to inspire you!

April 25th, 2016
Frederick lee brooke presents (2)

Interview with Author DelSheree Gladden

Your latest project is the Crazy Girls Handbook Series … what can you tell us about it?

The Crazy Girl’s Handbook was so much fun to work on once I got over the initial case of writer’s block. I had been invited to participate in a Valentine’s themed novella box set and said yes even though I had zero ideas. Okay, I had one, and that was that I should have gum play a part. Totally random. I know. Gum kept sticking in my mind (pun kinda intended, lol) but I couldn’t think of any good way to use it. Eventually, my friend Serene suggested I use it as an icebreaker between the two MCs, by having Greenly‘s 4-year-old nephew accidentally spit it in her hair, which Roman valiantly tries to get out. It’s the first mishap in a series of crazy encounters. Eventually meant to be only a novella, my beta readers wanted more, so it’s now available in the Valentine, Pets & Kisses box set as a novella, and as a full-length novel on its own.

Tell us a bit about your writing process: do you work with an outline? Do you know how a book is going to end when you start?

I despise outlines and only resort to making one when I get stuck or can’t keep track of details. I am more of a just go with it kind of writer. I usually get an idea, or have a scene in mind and have no clue where it will take me. Even when I have an end goal in mind, the path to that goal is something I figure out as I write. Sometimes that means rewrites later on, but I don’t write well when I feel boxed in by what has to happen to make a story work. Most of my books take large detours at some point, and I find a way to put it all together in the end.

You’re in touch with your readers quite a lot, aren’t you? How does their feedback and support influence your writing?

My readers are so much fun to be involved with. I started out writing YA, so I have a lot of enthusiastic young readers who love to find me on social media and tell me about their thoughts on a book or character and ask lots of questions! Many of them have become beta readers for me. It’s awesome to get feedback directly from my target audience, but it’s been really neat to see what they’re doing and how their lives change over time. Readers who first got in contact with me while reading on Wattpad in between high school classes are now in college, still reading and some even writing their own stories. I love getting updates and knowing that reading stays a big part of their lives.

Crazy Girls Handbook FINALWhat a beautiful testament to the fact that books aren’t dead! Now, you’re a mother, you go to a real job every day, and you write books…a lot of books. When do you sleep? No, seriously, how do you manage to fit everything in?

Well, right now I only work twelve hours a week, so I have more time at this point in my life than I did when I was in the dental hygiene program or working more, and my kids are now 9 and 12, so they’re pretty independent. This is a time period where I can spend more time writing, and I try to make the best of it without it taking over my life. Sometimes that’s really hard for me. I tend to get obsessive when writing, but I’ve been trying to focus more on putting it away in the evening so I can spend time with my husband and kids. Writing is stress relief for me, so it helps keeps me centered when things are a little crazy, but I still have to work on balancing that with everything else. My husband is extremely supportive of my writing, as well, and his encouragement is what originally pushed me to take my writing seriously and do something with it.

Can you tell a funny story about the publishing process or about writing?

Any funny stories I have are usually from mistakes I’ve made. I am terrible with directions and geography. I get lost easily. When I wrote my first book, I was 16 and Google Maps wasn’t really a big thing, and I guess I just never thought to check later. I remember going back and reading the book much later after I had published it and was getting ready to write book two, and realizing I had written the setting as being in Upstate New York…with a beach. Uh, yeah. I had to fix that.

Your book covers are quite distinctive. Is there a story behind your covers?

Aside from my Date Shark series, I do all my own cover design. I have a strong background in art and design and love being able to put that to use. Sometimes, it’s the only visually creative thing I do, even though I have a stockpile of art supplies in my basement.

The cover art for the Twin Souls books was made to look like traditional pottery designs from some of the Native American tribes in the Southwest where the books are based. Part of the design of the Aerling series came from fan art one of my readers sent to me and gave me permission to use part of the concept in the full cover. The Escaping Fate books are my own artwork (painting and chalk pastels) I created for the series because finding pictures of Aztec gods and Celtic curse stones isn’t easy! Basically, I love art and design and enjoy bringing my written words into a visual field to share another aspect of my vision for the story.

Some of your books are available for free or in boxed sets. How did these special deals come to pass?

Free books have always worked well for me, and I realize readers find it hard to take a risk on a new author, so I want to make it as easy as possible for readers to give one of my books a try. I see my relationship with my readers as give and take. I don’t expect them to take a risk buying a book they aren’t familiar without having a good reason to.

Box sets have been something I’ve been a part of more recently and has been a great experience. Getting your name out there is tough, and when you have 10-20 authors all using their reader lists and influence to push the same product, you get your book or story into the hands of so many more readers than what you can do on your own. Plus, you meet awesome people and learn a lot from their experiences as well.

More about DelSheree:

The Crazy Girl’s Handbook
DelSheree Gladden

Spending the weekend babysitting her two nephews and a puppy was supposed to be fun. Sweating to death at a baseball game while getting gum in her hair, soda down her shirt, and an ice cream pedicure wasn’t part of the deal. Neither was finding out the best guy she’d ever missed a blind date with had witnessed it all. Longest. Weekend. Ever.

DelShereeGladden PortraitDelSheree Gladden is a USA Today bestselling young adult and romance author, whose writing includes everything from dystopian and Native American mythology to sweet and funny romances.

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