Shoes for Anthony by Emma Kennedy

Set in a small Welsh coal-mining town during World War II, this moving and unforgettable novel is by turns touching and hilarious.

This 1944 World War Two drama tells the story of Anthony, a boy living in a deprived Welsh village, anticipating the arrival of American troops. Suddenly, a German plane crashes into the village mountain. A Polish prisoner-of-war survives and is brought into the community where he builds a close relationship with Anthony. Later, the villagers discover one of the Germans on the plane has survived and is still on the mountain.

Joyous, thrilling, and nostalgic, Emma Kennedy’s Shoes For Anthony will have you wiping your eyes one moment and beaming from ear-to-ear the next. This is a small gem of a novel that reviewers (and readers) will cherish.

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EMMA KENNEDY is the author of nine books, including bestsellers The Tent, the Bucket and Me and I Left My Tent in San Francisco. She is also an actress and has appeared in many award winning comedies, including Goodness Gracious Me, People Like Us, and Miranda. She is the Fun editor at Tatler, won “Celebrity Masterchef” in 2012, and is a Guinness World Record holder.

Connect with Emma online at

All Because of Chickens by G. L. Miller



Returning to the family homestead intensifies twelve-year-old Sammy’s longing for the family heritage—farming. But Dad’s ultimatum, “… no crops, no animals, no barn…” shows Dad wants nothing to do with farming, for himself or Sammy. Then why did Dad insist Sammy join a farming club?

Permission slips for Ag club summer projects are due. Sammy defends his project choice with, “Technically, Dad, chickens are birds not animals.” Miraculously, he wins Dad’s approval.

Sammy’s problems begin with the early arrival of his peeps and the loss of his best pals.   His ingenuity to care for his chicks, make a new friend, and design a compost bin win him a new name. His biggest challenge—can he butcher his roosters?

Summer’s many adventures include solving a mystery, fighting a hawk, and being disqualified at the County Fair.

At the end of the project, has he won…or lost…the thing he wanted most—Dad’s change of heart about farming?


During a lull in the suppertime conversation, Sammy found the courage to broach the subject. “Dad, Mr. Conklin said we had to bring our signed summer project paper to next week’s meeting.”

“And what have you chosen to do?” asked Dad, sipping his coffee.

“Raise chickens,” mumbled Sammy. Afraid of Dad’s reaction, he toyed with the last of the peas on his plate.

“What?” Dad almost sloshed his coffee as he set down the mug. “I thought you understood there would be no animals.”

“Yes,” Sammy admitted, “but I thought—”

Sammy saw Dad’s angry frown and tightly drawn lips. He decided to try a different approach. “Dad, I’m confused. You’re the one who wanted me to join the Ag club of CAYC, the County Agriculture Youth Club. You said you belonged as a boy. Surely you remembered there were summer projects?”

In silence Dad swallowed another sip of coffee. “I remembered,” he said. “But, I was hoping you would get interested in growing flowers for your mother or vegetables for the kitchen. Couldn’t you do that as your project?”

“Well, you said there would be no farming, either,” Sammy pointed out.

“What I meant by that was fields of plants, not just a few around the house or in a small garden.”

“In that case, yes, I probably could.” Then, with heroic effort he blurted, “But that really wouldn’t be any fun. All plants do is sit there. You have to water them and feed them and weed them. And they still…just sit there.”

“You have to feed and water chickens, too,” Mom gently reminded. “And clean their house and take care of them.”

“At least they move. And I could play with them. I know they’d be work, but I hope maybe some fun, too.”

“What made you decide on chickens?” she asked.

“Well,” said Sammy, “first I thought of a foal, but I knew Dad wouldn’t approve of that,” he added quickly, stealing a glance at his father. “Besides, we don’t have a barn or any place to put a young horse. True, during the summer he wouldn’t need much more than a lean-to. Still, I would hope to have him longer than just this summer…” Sammy’s voice trailed off.

“Then I considered a puppy.” How am I going to explain this to Mom? Sammy took a drink from his water glass and quickly got his thoughts together. “I would probably want to have him in the house, though. You know, to play with and sleep on my bed.   But dogs get fleas and shed their hair so I didn’t think you’d permit that.”

Mom’s smile confirmed his supposition. “So that’s when you thought of the chickens?” she asked.

Sammy nodded.

“But they’re still animals,” prodded Dad.

Turning his attention back to Dad, Sammy defended himself. “Not really, Dad. Technically, they’re birds.”

Sammy watched the astonishment in Dad’s face turn to amusement.

Technically, they are not birds, they are fowl,” Dad replied.

Embarrassment tightened Sammy’s jaw. “You’re laughing at me.”

Sammy felt Dad’s hand gently clasp his own, causing him to focus on what Dad was saying.

“Never, Sammy. I would never laugh at you. I love you. You are growing up and using words that surprise me.   I enjoy your ingenuity. I’m laughing in delight of you, but never at you.”

Sammy grinned and ducked his head.

Mom pushed back her chair and stood up. “Let me get dessert, and then you can tell us more about this project.”

“I’ll get my stuff.” Sammy ran to his room for his club materials and the form he and Gran had filled out earlier. He also swooped up his drawings and the copies of the Internet pages. Spreading everything out in front of his dad, he explained what Mr. Conklin was encouraging them to do.

“And Gran said I could use that old lumber behind her shed to make the house.   I mean, coop,” Sammy corrected himself.

“I thought I smelled my mother in this,” muttered Dad.

“Oh no, Dad,” Sammy hurried to set things straight. “I thought of all this myself. When I told her today, Gran asked me the same things you did. All she did was help me to look up some information on her computer and to fill in my form.”

Sammy looked through the papers he’d put on the table. Choosing two, he placed one before Dad.

“See, I’ve even drawn some plans for their coop,” Sammy said. Putting the second page on top, he explained, “And I have enough money in my bank to pay for the chicks, their equipment, and part of their food. I plan to sell their eggs to get more food money.”

Sammy watched Dad’s face for signs of approval. He didn’t realize he was holding his breath until Mom spoke.

“How many peeps are you thinking of getting?” she asked.

“Mr. Conklin said we can buy as few as twenty-four or twenty-five,” Sammy answered. “He’s bringing catalogs to the next meeting so we can see what breeds are available. But, I think I already know what kind I want.”

Sammy searched through his computer printouts. Pulling a couple of pictures from the stack, he handed one to Mom.

“Gran and I looked at different kinds on the computer,” he said. “These Golden Comets seemed to be the most interesting. You can see in the picture that the roosters are white and the hens are red.” Sammy chuckled, and then added, “With that sort of help, I won’t be asking a rooster why it isn’t laying an egg.”

“Good thinking,” agreed Dad. “A beginner needs all the help he can get.”

“That’s what Gran said,” admitted Sammy.


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Happy Birthday Lucy Maud Montgomery


Today we celebrate the birthday of one of my favorite authors, Lucy Maud Montgomery. On November 30, 1874, Montgomery was born in Clifton, Prince Edward Island to Hugh John Montgomery and Clara Woolner Macneill. After her mother’s death, when Lucy was only 21 months old, Montgomery’s father left her in the care of her maternal grandparents in Cavendish. He moved away and eventually remarried.

It is said living as an only child with elderly caregivers helped Montgomery to develop her imagination and fondness for nature, books, and writing. Though her first publication came in the fall of 1891, she completed school and earned her teaching license in 1893 – 1894. After a brief teaching career, the sudden death of the grandfather who had raised her caused Montgomery to return home to care for her grandmother. She would remain there for most of the next thirteen years where she continued to write and earn a comfortable income.Anne

She wrote her most famous novel, Anne of Green Gables, in 1905, but tucked it away after numerous rejections. In 1907, she sent it out again and it was picked up by the Page Company of Boston, Massachusetts and published in 1908. Montgomery married after her grandmother’s death and bore three sons, one of whom was stillborn. As a minister’s wife living in Leaskdale, Ontario, she was busy assisting her husband, but she still made time to write. Montgomery never lived on Prince Edward Island again, but she was buried in the Cavendish cemetery not far from her old home.

For my eleventh birthday, I received the first three books in the Anne of Green Gables series as a present from my oldest sister. I would not become enamored with Anne’s story, however, until the release of the Anne of Green Gables Canadian mini-series in 1985 starring Megan Follows, Richard Farnsworth, and Colleen Dewhurst. Follows would reprise her role as Anne Shirley in two sequels: Anne of Avonlea (now titled Anne of Green Gable The Sequel) and Anne of Green Gables The Continuing Story. 

I have since gone on to read all eight of Montomgery’s Anne novels, The Story Girl and The Golden Road–which inspired the Canadian-based Road to Avonlea television series, and Chronicles of Avonlea and Further Chronicles of Avonlea.

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s work continues to inspire my own writing. It is her feisty, imaginative, red-headed orphan who reminds me a bit of myself–not unlike the other feisty character/historical figure I adore–Laura Ingalls Wilder. Here’s to a talented author whose most famous character continues to gain new fans year after year. May she live in our hearts forever.


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Interview with Jim Maher, Author of Hemingway Man

Jim Maher is the proud father of two (nearly three!) boys, and lives in Nanaimo, BC as a stay-at-home dad.  He started writing stories for his brother and sisters when he was five, and decided to try his hand at the rest of the world with Hemingway Man, his first novel.  Among his other pursuits are acting, hiking, attempting to become the greatest dad in the universe, and the occasional date night with his beloved wife.



Mahervolous Books


Our special guest today is Jim Maher, author of young adult novel, Hemingway Man.

Thank you for joining us today, Jim. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I’m a stay-at-home dad in Nanaimo, BC. I trained as an actor, and then started having babies with my lovely wife, Sophia. Not exactly the ‘tortured artist’ story, but I think I’m living a pretty good life.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I wrote my first book, Professor Jim, when I was five years old. Since then I’ve tried to find other things and pursuits interesting, but it always comes back to writing. Hemingway Man is my first novel.

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

Young adults are the readers that will either really love your book or really hate it, and won’t be afraid to tell you either way. They’re also still able to go along on whatever ride you’re taking them on.

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

My favorite part is putting myself back in that mindframe. The greatest challenge is putting myself back in that mindframe.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

Hemingway Man is a coming-of-age tale about Will Charles, a sixteen-year-old who’s just lost his father. Will feels the intense pressure to become the man of the house, but having just lost the person who was supposed to guide him, he has nowhere to turn. Ernest Hemingway wrote a list of four tasks a boy must complete before he becomes a man.
1. Plant a tree.
2. Write a book.
3. Fight a bull.
4. Have a son.
Will finds the list, and takes it on himself to become the Hemingway Man.

What inspired you to write it?

‘Manhood’ and being a grown-up are such relative, gray terms that I wanted to explore what someone would do if they were handed step-by-step instructions. The Hemingway list is real, and I discovered it in much the same way as Will does in the book. I have only accomplished two out of the four, and I’ll let readers decide which two.

Where can readers purchase a copy? and on

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Yes, I have a blog at, and a Facebook page called Mahervolous Books.

What is up next for you?

I’m having my third son very soon, and I’m editing my next novel, Mike Logan vs. The Crosstown Horde. Busy, busy times!

Do you have anything else to add?

Thank you for the interview, and I hope everyone out there enjoys my book!

Thank you for spending time with us today, Jim. We wish you much success.

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Growing Up Gracie by Maggie Fechner

Growing Up Gracie by Maggie Fechner is a coming-of-age story many teens will enjoy.

Gracie Fremont is the fifth of six kids growing up in Cody, Wyoming. She struggles to find her place in the world and what exactly makes her special.  Committed to, yet, unsure in her faith, Gracie searches for answers. As she matures from child to young woman, Gracie discovers that with Divine guidance, even an ordinary girl from Cody, Wyoming can lead an extraordinary life.

This is a charming story of one girl finding her place and  learning to seek God’s guidance in her daily life. I especially enjoyed how Fechner created Gracie’s tiny circle of friends, and how their relationships evolved over the years. She also created a fine picture for the reader of life in Cody, Wyoming and the daily life in a LDS community.

The pace of this story burbles along like a country stream, flowing well with the overall setting of Growing Up Gracie and the lives of its characters. Fechner did not spare Gracie many disappointments, but she also gave her glorious triumphs.

The one challenge I had with the book is that it covered so many years in Gracie’s life, I felt characters got lost from time to time.  The book opens with Gracie and her best friend Liza Roberts playing hide-and-seek in Liza’s home. Gracie is five. By the next chapter she is seven and meets Chelsea Copeland for the first time. Chelsea, Liza, and Gracie are as thick as thieves and their adventures are often mentioned in the pages that follow, as are the changes in Gracie’s home. But at some point, Chelsea drops off the radar and she isn’t mentioned for a while. I’m left wondering what happened to her. Did she move away? Did the girls have a fight?

A similar thing happens to Cade.  It seems these two were being set up for a long friendship, but then Cade disappears and we only hear about him one other time after several years have passed, even though it appears he still lives in Cody. And then there is Quentin.  Gracie befriends him in wood shop.  He becomes a big part of the book. Something happens between them–which I’m definitely not going to share–but then poof, he’s gone for a bit. When I looked back, Quentin was only gone for around 20 pages, but the pace of the book made it seem longer.

I kept trying to figure out what this book was like, and it kind of reminded me of the hit family drama, The Wonder Years, starring Fred Savage.  The narrator is an older and wiser Gracie sharing the story of her childhood. The prologue kind of threw me for a minute because it takes place when Gracie is obviously a young woman, and then in Chapter One she is five. Overall it was a wonderful story and I might read it again to see if I have a different impression of how the passage of time impacts the plot.

If you’re looking for a story that combines family, friendship, and faith, Growing Up Gracie by Maggie Fechner would be a good choice.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Bonneville
  • ISBN-10: 1599554534
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599554532
  • SRP:  $15.99

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