This blog is dedicated to books that I have read and reviewed (sometimes at the request of the author and/or publisher) OR that I have read on my own and want to share with you. Author interviews are also included. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Desert Night Shift: A Pack Rat Story

by Conrad J. Storad
Even as an adult, I LOVE LOVE LOVE any book by Conrad J. Storad. I am particularly partial to this one, because ... (true confession alert) "Hello, my name is Stephanie and I am a pack rat," just like "Penny Pack Rat." This delightful tale takes place in the Sonoran Desert. It's nighttime and Penny has her backpack on and is in search of a silver spoon for her Grandma.
Told entirely in verse, we follow Penny as she tries to fulfill her nana's wish of owning a silver spoon. Penny braves the dangers of the night; snakes, coyotes and more. Hence, the title: Desert Night Shift.

"Oh, desert days are bright and hot,
Swift, hungry creatures rule,
But every little pack rat learns
That night shift work is cool!"
Although this is written with children in mind, I love Storad's charming approach to desert animals. The illustrations by Nathaniel P. Jensen are vibrant and endearing. At the end of each of Storad's books you can find a page of "Words to Learn" and facts about the animal hero of the book. Conrad Storad specializes in creating science books for children that make learning fun. In 2001 he was awarded the Arizona Library Association's Judy Goddard Award as Arizona's Children's Author of the Year.
I'm also partial to this book because I won my autographed copy while attending a writers workshop Conrad was teaching at this year's American Night Writers Association Annual Conference in February. (As far as ANWA and Conrad Storad are concerned, I'm quick to remind people that I "discovered" him over at ASU when I was searching for guest presenters for one of our workshops a number of years ago. This year was the third time that Conrad instructed aspiring children's writers at one of our conferences. Personally, I can't get enough of the wealth of knowledge he has to offer.
Storad is the author of more than 30 science and nature books for children and young adults. Just reading the titles of his books gives you a clue how fun they are. Here are a few:

  • Life in the Slow Lane; A Desert Tortoise Tale
  • Don't Call Me Pig! A Javelina Story
  • Lizards for Lunch: A Roadrunner's Tale
  • Don't Ever Cross That Road! An Armadillo Story
He also has some great books that explain scientific information on an elementary level - I used to use his books in my classroom when I taught in grades 1-4: Earth's Crust, The Circulatory System, Hippos, Piranhas, Fossil Fuels and more.

So, if you have kids or grandkids that you want to read something fun and educational to this summer, head over to the library or bookstore and get ANYTHING by Conrad J. Storad - you won't be sorry. Here's his website: Conrad J. Storad ~ oh, and tell him I sent you!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Think you are ready for retirement? Check out this book BEFORE you retire

Hey, Friends - as always, I'm too busy for my own good - so, for now - here's the link to the review I did on a great little book about getting along as a couple 24/7 once you retire. Good food for thought. I hope to get back to this with a review and author interview for this site SOON. :)

Here's the link: Too Much Togetherness: Surviving Retirement as a Couple

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Your Pinkie is More Powerful Than Your Thumb

Check out my recent book review on a book that dispenses more than 300 facts you never thought to wonder about ~ click here: Book Review on Deseret News - Pinkie Stronger Than Your Thumb

Would LOVE it if you left a comment in the "Comment Section" ~ Thanks!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Book Review - The Waterfall Concept: A Blueprint for Addiction Recovery

I recently read and reviewed a remarkable book by Roger Stark called The Waterfall Concept: A Blueprint for Addiction Recovery

Here is the review I wrote that was published by (which is now part of "Deseret News" so you can't find the original article online anymore, but I give it to you here):

Roger Stark's own journey of recovery gave him the desire to become an addiction counselor. Now he shows others the way to healing through one-on-one counseling, at recovery retreats and in his new book, "The Waterfall Concept: A Blueprint for Addiction Recovery."

Stark uses the analogy of a waterfall and the safety assured when one is far upstream, away from the edge and the imminent danger associated with venturing too close to the falls. He carefully outlines the path to recovery step by step, phase by phase, using case studies of both setbacks and triumphs as people navigate their way to a better and safer place.

Regardless of the type of addiction a person experiences, they will find encouragement, understanding, hope and, indeed, a blueprint for recovery in "The Waterfall Concept."

“Whether the struggle is drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography or any other sexual addiction, it is all covered in this book," Stark said. "It is written with the understanding that only an addict/clinician can have. It is the book I wish had been given to me the day I realized I was in fact an addict.”

"The Waterfall Concept" is written from an LDS theological standpoint. This perspective, while useful for any individual, holds added value for church members who are addicts, their loved ones, bishops and LDS clinicians. Each will find specific tools that are helpful in achieving peace and progress in a difficult journey. Based on the well-known 12-step program, Stark makes the process even more accessible, offering a “toolbox” filled with skills useful for anyone. Even those who don’t see their behaviors as addictive can use his techniques of looking away, healthy self-talk, mood changers, jump-back behaviors and more to guide them to a happier, more productive life.

Simply abstaining from addictive behavior is not the same as recovery, Stark said. He teaches people to become “ridiculously accountable” and that “humility is the gateway to recovery.” He provides benchmarks that help the addict and their loved ones recognize the progress that is being made. As addicts learn to avoid the pull of the waterfall and enter the waters of recovery, Stark gently reminds them the “Mighty Change of Heart” they seek is found at the feet of the Savior.

"The Waterfall Concept" offers hope to families as they come to understand and make sense of the addictive behaviors of their loved ones. He provides suggestions for regaining trust, coping skills and self-care techniques to help secure results as people move into the maintenance phase and beyond. The author points out that people quit their addictive behaviors again and again but struggle with “staying quit.” The blueprint outlined in his book may provide the exact blend of help and skills that addicts – especially LDS addicts – need to “stay quit.”

More information can be found at 

Stephanie Abney is a retired teacher and freelance writer. She and her husband, Jim, live in Mesa, Ariz. They have five children and 17 grandchildren.