Sylvia McGrath ~ AKA Writingmama, a freelance writer from King City, Ontario has worked in the business field for about forty years obtaining business management experience and business writing skills. She also spent several years in social work for Children’s Services.
Now retired is living her childhood dream of being a writer.
A few years ago Sylvia decided to take a course in freelance writing, which she really enjoyed as it was the key to follow her dreams. Since completing the course, she has worked as a professional writer, a published poet and co-authored a book with Two Maximum Life Coaches about living with chronic illness; this is titled After The Diagnosis: The Journey Beyond.” She also co-authored an E-Book of Resources for the parents of children with special needs, chronic illness and learning challenges titled “The Treasure Chest of Resources,” part-one has already been sent to the Canadian National Library Archives.
Sylvia has also written several articles on chronic illness for the following online sites.
Besides working as a freelance writer, Sylvia still finds time for two other passions of hers; to volunteer as a literacy tutor for her local Learning Centre, and assist in facilitating of workshops on disability awareness.
Her main mission for the future is to write a series of books for young adults and children who have learning challenges and suffer chronic illness. At present she is also the co-owner and columnist for “Professor Owl’s Newsletter” which is published on-line monthly for children.
In a magical 1899 San Francisco, the new millennium is quickly approaching. Of course, new inventions happen every day, some wondrous, some mundane while the streets produce a new murder every night.
Set against this backdrop a debutante goes missing, and socialite Helena Brandywine takes it upon herself, along with her trusted manservant, to discover what happened.
Did the woman run afoul of the Tongs in Chinatown? What horrors might she have exposed? Discover this Gilded Age while Helena uncovers her family’s secrets. The good and evil, where danger lurks around every corner. Can Helena Brandywine be prepared for the monsters she will uncover? Come search for the Pretty Waiter Girls.
Pretty Waiter Girls is an excellent steampunk adventure, with some fantasy elements mixed into a mystery plot. I love the steampunk setting and I really enjoyed the delightful protagonist, Helena Brandywine. Hopefully, there will be more of her adventures.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you..
I write books I would want to read. Normally short enough to read in a day or two, and exciting enough to make me want to finish. I want powerful women and men able to overcome adversity, stand up for what is right and willing to sacrifice for their beliefs. If these interests you check out one of my novels at most worldwide retailers.
A power cut and a series of mini-disasters mean friends, Jess, Nadia, Tomma, and Ash barely make it to the station to catch their train to school. What they find is a far cry from the usually packed commuter train they’re expecting…
When they arrive at Hickley School, the children are surprised to find some of the buildings missing and they don’t recognize any of the other pupils, who are all dressed in a different style of uniform. The only person who takes the time to help them is Martha, despite being preoccupied with her own worries about her family being hungry and not hearing from brother, Henry whom she says is away fighting.
The children soon realise this is no normal day and it’s not until they return home that they’re able to figure out what happened. What they don’t know is whether it was a one-off day, or if they will get to see Martha and the other pupils again. Jess hopes so. She has something she needs to tell Martha. Not knowing how or why she feels a connection and an obligation to this girl she can’t explain.
I thoroughly enjoyed this great read. All the characters in the story felt so real, I could imagine what they were like and they felt rounded. I was especially impressed by the dialogue which sounded like the way I have heard children talk to each other and really helped to bring all the characters alive. I am looking forward to reading more in this series and enjoying the adventures of these four-time travelers.
About the Author
Nikki Young is a writer and lover of stories, her first book, a spy story for children aged 8-12, was published in April 2017.
Nikki credits her lively imagination to an amazing childhood, growing up in Yorkshire in England and living in a cul-de-sac in the days when children could run free and left to make their own fun!
Now, she is a mum of three, but in her head, she has not really grown up and those memories of her childhood days remain strong and active.
Astrid assumed all dragons should be killed – until she met one that changed her mind.
In the medieval Northlands, a dangerous family seeks power.
They slaughter all who get in their way.
Children’s rhymes hint at what’s to come, but no one recognizes the danger at hand.
Astrid doesn’t know she holds the key to this power.
She’s just a blacksmith who makes swords for dragonslayers.
But Astrid has a dark secret …
A dragon once chewed her up and spit her out.
She hides the old scars covering her body through shapeshifting.
But the time for hiding is over.
A really well written and captivating book. I’m really looking forward to the next in the series. The storyline and the characters are really well rounded, Once I started reading the book it was hard to put it down. I will certainly keep a lookout for this author’s works in future. In the meantime watch the weekly reviews for all of the books in this series and my reviews in the not too distant future.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This YA Epic Sword & Sorcery Fantasy series is written for adults but appropriate for ages 14 and up.
Series: Dragonslayer 1-4
Book 1 – The Dragonslayer’s Sword
Book 2 – The Iron Maiden
Book 3 – The Sword of Darkness
Book 4 – The Dragon’s Egg
About the Author
Resa Nelson is a long-time member of SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) and a graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. Resa writes fantasy and mystery/thriller novels about women who are strong, smart, and courageous. Her characters are everyday people faced by overwhelming problems that threaten to destroy the existence they know.
Renowned, award-winning author Avi pens a stark, unflinching tale of ordinary boys living in wartime as tensions — and desperations — mount among them.
Twelve-year-old Patryk knows little of the world beyond his tiny Polish village; the Russians have occupied the land for as long as anyone can remember, but otherwise life is unremarkable. Patryk and his friends entertain themselves by coming up with dares — some more harmful than others — until the Germans drop a bomb on the schoolhouse and the Great War comes crashing in. As control of the village falls from one nation to another, Jurek, the ringleader of these friends, devises the best dare yet: whichever boy steals the finest military button will be king. But as sneaking buttons from uniforms hanging to dry progresses to looting the bodies of dead soldiers — and as Jurek’s obsession with being king escalates — Patryk begins to wonder whether their “button war” is still just a game. When devastation reaches their doorstep, the lines between the button war and the real war blur, especially for the increasingly callous Jurek. Master of historical fiction Avi delivers a fierce account of the boys of one war-torn village who are determined to prove themselves with a simple dare that spins disastrously out of control. Renowned, award-winning author Avi pens a stark, unflinching tale of ordinary boys living in wartime as tensions — and desperations — mount among them.
Twelve-year-old Patryk knows little of the world…
This Book is about looking at war through the eyes of a child, the Button War is set in a small Polish village where the Great War is about to have a devastating impact.
This is the story of twelve-year-old Patryk and his friends who have lived under Russian occupation for all their lives, but one tragic day, the excitement of seeing their first airplane turns to terror when it bombs their village. Soon the Russians flee the oncoming German army, and one set of occupiers is traded for another. While a war that will shake the world is taking place on their doorstep, the boys are deep in a war of their own, a hunt for military buttons, with the boy who finds the brightest and best becoming “king” of the gang. When one war bleeds into the other, the consequences are tragic.
This is a forceful and moving book, the writing style is easy enough for a middle grade reader, but the story being told will appeal to the more mature reader too. The author has done, a really great job of setting the scene, and shining a light on the stark reality of the war.
The characters are well rounded, and the communication between them is believable. As the book moves forwards to its conclusion there is a real sense of impending doom that really kept me interested until I finished the book.
I would like to thank NetGalley and Publishers for the opportunity to review this great book.
This is another great book written by Simon Rose one of Professor Owl’s favourite authors. We have been honoured to review several of his books which we have always found to be an entertaining read. This was certainly another great read.
Max is haunted by a girl with green eyes. He ignores the odd visions, but then he meets the girl face to face. Her name is Julia, and she and Max knew each other once, in another world…and now she needs his help.
The borders between realities are thinning, and Alastair Hammond’s experiments into the existence of parallel universes are dangerous and destructive.
Marooned within a bewildering series of alternate timelines, Max and Julia are forced to fight for their own survival and to save the very fabric of reality from Hammond’s deadly scheme.
This is an excellent book for teenagers and will appeal to both boys and girls. I used to find books that involved time travel confusing and too farfetched. Flashback series is the exception. Simon Rose manages to keep it simple enough that the reader doesn’t need to get caught up in the details. They simply get to enjoy a good story.
Twisted Fate (A Flashback Novel Book 2)Apr 25, 2017
by Simon Rose
About the Author
Flashback, Future Imperfect, Twisted Fate, Parallel Destiny, and the Shadowzone series. He is also the author of The Children’s Writer’s Guide, The Working Writer’s Guide, The Social Media Writer’s Guide, The Time Traveler’s Guide, a contributor to The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction and has written many non-fiction books with Weigl Publishers and Capstone.
Life constantly seems to be wavering between really good and really bad for Owen, a lonely sixteen-year-old still reeling from the unexpected death of his mother and a fresh move to Toronto. After ducking into an old bookstore to escape high school bullies, Owen discovers that he can travel to a parallel, twisted version of the city with a magical tablet called a Battledoor, where he encounters new allies, bizarre creatures, and the ultimate antagonist who will stop at nothing to procure the magical Golden Slate for himself.
Forced to work together with friends and enemies in order to return home, Owen is faced with a series of choices that will prompt him to find courage he never knew he had, explore the possibility of romance, and try to find a way to let go of his painful past and move on. But is Owen ready to finally take control, and become the protagonist of his own story?
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was very well written with a great plot and lots of action that pulls you in, and keeps you hooked.
I would like to thank NetGalley for the copy to review ~ another great read.
Available from: Fine book stores, Public and School Libraries.
Welcome to the June Edition of Professor Owl’s Newsletter! This month we’ll be highlighting some great books, offering some tips on how to get the most from your reading and…we would also like to encourage you to take Professor Owl’s Reading challenge, and if you would like to send us your reviews on the weekly books, we would love to include them in our books of the week. mail them to email@example.com
Next month we are taking a break but check back with us throughout the summer for some awesome book reviews and events that will be happening with our favourite organizations every Saturday.
On August 20th we will be back with our back-to-school edition!
Hope everyone has a very happy and safe summer! 🙂
Make Family safety a priority: 9 Water Safety Suggestions..
Summer time is such a wonderful time of year, with this new season comes many outdoor fun. One of the adventurous activities we all can participate in is swimming. No matter what stage of life you are in this is one of the universal sports we can all enjoy. As with any sport, there are some rules and precautions that everyone should consider and keep in mind.
First and foremost, no matter what you do, you should always watch younger children when they are in or near the pool definitely no fooling around.
As a precaution, get together with adults t0 setup the safety tips and rules that will help facilitate a safe environment.
Teach by your example to younger children the safety rules around the pool.
Keep children away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings.
Have a phone close by at all times.
If child is missing, always look in pool or spa first.
Ensure everyone in the family knows how to swim. Learn CPR
Share safety tips with family and friends who visit.
Update your skills regularly Understand basic life-saving skills
Teaching younger children basic water safety skills is essential. These rules would apply if you are at a lake as well as a home pool ~ Remember Safety First!
“The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you’ll go.”
~ Dr Seuss
If you would like to tell us about your goals, ask for assistance or information ~ Just drop Professor Owl a note – mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are plans for a coup in the Russian Federation. The conspirators had obtained the Russian nuclear codes. The C.I.A. has stolen that information and dead dropped it inside a whiskey flask in the middle of Siberia.
They need someone who could “Go fetch” the item among hordes of Russian soldiers, mind fields, snipers, helicopters, hunters and attack dogs.
They need someone who could survive the harsh Russian wilderness.
They need someone who could traverse the vast expanse of Siberia faster than anyone.
Above all else, they need someone who could be so covert that they could not give away any evidence of American involvement.
They send a wolf.
I found this book had a great storyline with terrific characters, one is drawn into the story on the very first page. Many times I found the book so interesting I could not put it down until it was finished.
I look forward to reading more of this author’s books.
Bruce H. Markuson lives with his wife and two children in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and has had a number short stories published. Markuson is also working on a new book series. He enjoys writing and often finds himself with writer’s obsession. He prefers to write the ending first, then work backwards.
I would like to thank NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book, it was a great read.
We would love to hear about your favourite books and your views on the ones we recommend here… send them To: email@example.com
Writing prompts are a wonderful way to kick-start your creativity and generate ideas. There isn’t a right or wrong way respond, just be honest, be creative and use your imagination!
“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.” ~ Ansel Adams
For many of us, summer is here and it’s time for adventure. What are you planning to do this summer? Are you going away or staying home? Do you have any places you plan to visit, books you want to read, friends you want to meet with? Write about all the adventures you’d like to have this summer.
Get creative, write but most importantly…have fun!!
Writing Prompt~A picture is worth a thousand words…
Write about your favourite summer getaway…
Keeping Summer Memories Alive
Travelling this summer or planning to have a staycation right in your hometown? The best way to keep your memories alive is to keep a travel journal. There is no right or wrong way to keep one, just do what comes naturally to you.
Personally, I like to write about specific outings and create little sketches of the places I visit. I usually pack a pencil, small watercolour palette and a black pen. The drawings are nowhere near perfect but just a quick impression of what I saw. Not into sketching? How about using polaroids or printing off photos when you get home. The great thing about smartphones is that they are usually always on hand and ready to capture the perfect moment. Write a note or two in your notebook, describe the place using your senses, what do you see, what sounds surround you, do you feel a cool breeze, did you try a new food, how did it taste? Once you get your photos, you can insert them into your journal alongside to reinforce your memories.
I also like to include little things like postcards, ticket stubs or pressed flowers, anything I can to keep that memory fresh when I look back in the colder months. All you need to start is a notebook of some sort, a pen, art supplies (if desired) a keen eye and a sense of adventure and you’re on your way!
Events for June 2018.
Join us PRIDE WEEKEND!
Also be sure to join us for at Family Pride Day for activities, demonstrations and showcases of the great work that Variety Village does! There will be wheelchair basketball, arts and crafts, and lots of outdoor family fun as we celebrate with the Pride community.
Date: Saturday, June 23, 2018 Time: 10am-5pm Location: Church Street Junior Public School – 83 Alexander Street, Toronto
Join us at the 19th Annual Fitness Friends Celebration!
This fun and FREE one-day event welcomes all Fitness Friends participants to enjoy fun, inclusive games and activities.
This is a great opportunity to try new activities, connect with other students and educators, promote enthusiasm for your school’s commitment to inclusive participation and enjoy the benefits of being active! Students from across Durham, Peterborough, North Humberland and Courtice are welcome.
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
10:00am – 1:00pm
Iroquois Park Sports Complex, Whitby
Register today to coordinate your transportation needs by contacting us:
Laura Carson, Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board – firstname.lastname@example.org
Vicki Caume, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board – email@example.comArchie Allison, Director, Outreach & Educationaallison@varietyvillage.on.ca
Please include the following information:
416-699-7167 ext. 236
Please RSVP to:
School name and contact;
Number of students attending;
Number of staff and support staff attending;
Number of wheelchair spaces required for transportation purposes (information will be shared with BOW representatives for booking requests). A PLAYWRITE BY THE VARIETY DRAMA CO.The delicious adventures experienced by Charlie Bucket on his visit to Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory light up the stage in this captivating adaptation of Roald Dahl’s fantastical tale. Brought to you by Variety’s very own adult day program participants. June 15 & 16, 2018 | 10:00am – 5:00pm | Variety VillageParticipate in seminars on a wide range of educational topics and learn more about accessible and inclusive options that are available for you. DANCE ABLEDance-Able 2018 is about bringing families, businesses, and the greater local community together to create a world that is inclusive and accessible and where people with disabilities are recognized and appreciated.DanceAble-2018 PosterCabana Pool Bar 11 Polson St. Toronto, ON | AGES 10+RESERVE YOUR FREE TICKETMAKE A DONATION!At the 2nd Annual Dance-Able, guests will experience an evening of music, inclusive dancing and some special surprise performances. “This is also a great opportunity to create awareness for Variety Village and highlight our important and vital programs, along with the great work of our staff.” says Karen Stintz, President and CEO, Variety Village.
“Our goal is to create an open event to celebrate people with disabilities in our community. It is our hope that this amazing event will make memories to last a lifetime,”
Donate to empower people with a disability to dance like there’s no tomorrow!
FREE Admission, non-alcoholic beverages, Pizza Nova slices!
Variety Village and Help by Helping are excited to announce they are hosting the 2nd annual all-inclusive FREE dance party, DANCE-ABLE. This will be an unparalleled night of entertainment in celebration of all those within the disabled community on June 26, 2018 at Cabana Pool Bar from 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm.
Don’t miss the Opening Ceremony at 10am on Friday, June 15 in the main lobby of Variety Village!
Come out to this FREE exhibition featuring the top disability-related companies and organizations with products and information on services they provide. There will also be a one-day-only Career Fair on Friday, June 15 and include some of the biggest and best companies in Canada who want to hire YOU.
Canada’s largest disability exhibition is coming to Variety Village!
Form more information:
WHEN June 9, 2018 WHERE Cafeteria, Variety Village SHOW TIMES AFTERNOON: 12:00 noon $10
EVENING: 7:30pm $15/Dinner + Show
CAMP MEET & GREET
We offer the opportunity for parents and campers to meet the Head Instructor of their program before summer camp starts. If you would like to take advantage of this opportunity, please mark this date down on your calendars:
Tuesday, June 26, 2018 6:00-7:00pm
The Barall room, Variety Village
Head instructors will be able to answer questions regarding programming, scheduling, what to expect, etc. Unfortunately, there will be no opportunity to reschedule or make up this date.
WONKA’S GOLDEN TICKET
A PLAYWRITE BY THE VARIETY DRAMA CO.
WHEN June 9, 2018 WHERE Cafeteria, Variety Village SHOW TIMES AFTERNOON: 12:00 noon $10
EVENING: 7:30pm $15/Dinner + Show
The delicious adventures experienced by Charlie Bucket on his visit to Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory light up the stage in this captivating adaptation of Roald Dahl’s fantastical tale. Brought to you by Variety’s very own adult day program participants.
March of Dimes is a community-based rehabilitation and advocacy charity for people with physical disabilities http://www.marchofdimes.ca
EVENTS ~ June, 2018
Sunday June 24 to Friday June 29, 2018
YMCA Geneva Park, Orillia
Introduced in 2012, the Youth Week Retreat is a one-week, co-ed program offered in partnership with Camp Awakening for young adults with physical disabilities 19-24 years of age.
The Youth Week Retreat is focused on supporting and encouraging young adults with physical disabilities to enjoy outdoor recreational activities; live healthy, active lifestyles; and improve social skill development. Each year the Youth Week schedule adapts to the interests of the participants and allows participants to create their own week long adventure!
The Youth Week Retreat currently operates out of the YMCA Geneva Park Conference Centre in Orillia, ON. Accommodation is in a 2-person shared hotel-style room where participants are paired with another participant of the same gender. Support Staff are housed separately, but can be reached by phone at all times.
When: Sunday June 24 to Friday June 29, 2018
Where: YMCA Geneva Park, 6604 Rama Rd. Orillia, Ontario
Who: Youth with Physical Disabilities and/or Acquired Brain Injuries
Cost: $900.00 (fee covers cost of accommodation, meals, attendant care and accessible bus transportation from Toronto)
Recreational Activities Include:
Special Arts & Crafts
Evening Programs (Campfires, Karaoke etc.)
Application Deadline: Friday February 16, 2018
** Space is Limited – Register Early! Registration may close sooner when capacity is reached.
Many participants tell us that their holiday at Geneva Park is the highlight of their year!
“I had a blast. I sailed for the first time. I kayaked, canoed, fished, played botchy ball, enjoyed the beach and scavenger hunts and even met the guy from cash cab! I really think it increases mobility in people. It also allows people who do not necessarily socialize that often to be a part of the community.”
“My goal before the trip was to socialize more and participate in activities that I had previously perceived as being incapable of doing. I had a fantastic week at camp and achieved all my goals!”
For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Flynn, moving into the heart of the Michigan woods with her family is the biggest adventure she’s ever had. A self-proclaimed geek girl with a penchant for Sherlock Holmes, she wonders if she’ll ever have an exciting quest of her own.
But when she discovers an antique carousel tucked into the woods near her new home, her life soon spins out of control. For the ponies are so much more than their faded paint portrays. Filled with primal magic, the ponies are alive, and they have been waiting for her for a long time.
With the help of a young carousel caretaker named Black, Charlotte soon discovers that the Flying Ponies are in danger from others who want to possess them and their magic. Drawn into a battle for the carousel and ultimately the entire world while navigating her first true romance, Charlotte may have more adventure than she ever bargained for . . .
“This is a great read for young adult readers’. It’s a charming read told through the eyes of the modern geek-girl teen. There are references to all the favorites — Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Harry Potter — but Ransom does a fine job of relating to each of these without trying to be any of them.
I found the book an exciting read, full of adventure, magic, love and fantasy! If you like C.S. Lewis, you’ll love this book. This is the first installment of The Flying Ponies Trilogy and I can’t wait for book 2!
L. M. Ransom lives in West Michigan with her husband, son, and daughter. She also shares her home with two crazy Dachshunds, and her heart with two naughty ponies. L.M. is a librarian by trade, and an author by passion. She draws from her lifelong love and obsession with all things equine to spin tales about nefarious carousel horses.
A self-professed geek girl, L.M.’s fandoms span the galaxy from Tatooine to Gallifrey, and back down to the seedy streets of Gotham City. As a Christian, she feels a calling to tell clean, intriguing stories for readers to escape into. You can find L. M. on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and lmransom.com.
Hollis studied her face in the light of the campfire. “So, how does a shepherd girl find herself in the Forest of Fondair, heading to the Kiatri to lead a crusade against the Fontre?”
Cassai had untied her braid and was unraveling it. The curls tangled themselves around her small fingers. “Not a crusade, war. Lashai belongs to us. We were a free, peaceful people under the Namarielle. The land flourished, and the people had plenty. The Fontre took everything: our herds, our crops, our money, they even burned down our churches. Why would they do that?”
Her gaze had fallen into the darkness between the trees, and Hollis assumed this was a rhetorical question. “So, we’re going to fight them; our small band of Keepers and anyone else we can find to join us will fight for our Lashai. And if no one else joins, I’ll fight them alone. I just can’t live as their slave. I won’t.”
A really well written and captivating book. I’m really looking forward to the next in the series. The storyline and the characters are really well rounded, neither all good nor all bad, with a lot of depth. Once I started reading the book it was hard to put it down. I will certainly keep a lookout for this author’s works in future.
I would like to thank NetGalley for the opportunity to review this great book.
Julien was born in 1980 and spent the first few years of her life traveling through America with her family. She was raised in Dallas, TX. Her father, a prolific novelist and poet, taught her to write as a very small child. She writes dark, thrilling, fantastic tales of mortal battles and daring exploits. She also writes a helpful little blog designed to inspire a lighthearted approach to life’s trials and everyday tasks. She lives with her husband and five children in Marble Falls, TX. https://www.julienjamar.com
At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.
With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth—that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.
But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?
From debut author, Gloria Chao comes a hilarious, heartfelt tale of how unlike the panda, life isn’t always so black and white.
American Panda was an uplifting, emotional, and eye-opening read. It was certainly one of the most enjoyable reads I have had lately and a little different from the ones I have reviewed. I highly recommend this book to readers ranging from their teens, into their adult years, those who enjoy reading contemporary, as well as readers who might be wanting to dip their toes into contemporary YA for the first time!
I would like to thank NetGalley for the chance to read it.
• Sweepingly funny.” —The Wall Street Journal • “Delightful.” —Buzzfeed
• “Charmed my socks off.” —David Arnold, New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquito land