Following Your Dreams

For me dreams are important to have in my life.   Whether they come true or not, in a way, is beside the point.  But you have to try to make them come true.


We try by submitting our writings and illustrations to agents and editors.  If we succeed there, we try to make our work be seen by a large audience.


Hard as it may seem, following your dreams is worth the effort.  Who knows what will come of your life, if you don’t.


My brother, Richard Bunker Maury, felt he was destined to be an artist.  He went to Florence, Italy, to study in 1960.  He met his wonderful wife, who came from Vermont to study, and they have been there ever since.  Richard is considered one of the world’s finest realists and the Italian government has published three of Anne’s books on Italy’s native plants and trees.  A nice outcome for following your dreams.


My sister, Anne Maury Costello, pursued her dreams of raising children, but along the way wrote a book called Bittergreen, which was published by Avon Books back in the late 1970s.  My brother, William Magruder Maury, pursued his dreams of getting a PhD in American History and then getting a couple of master’s degrees in other fields.


Our younger son and family baby, Steve, pursues his dream of being a jazz saxophone player and teacher in the Baltimore, Maryland, area and our younger daughter, Michelle, sings her songs in coffee houses around northern Virginia, D.C. and Maryland. Dean, our older son, is advancing in his career managing health databases. Our older daughter and oldest child, Susanne loved animals, in particular horses, so she learned to be a horse shoer.  But when she got married and discovered that female horse shoers were looked down on, she took up another of her skills and was making a name for herself as a chef when her life was cut short.  Anyway, all my children pursued their dreams.  And I’m proud of them all.


I am having great success with my novel, Terror’s Identity.  I have garnered several excellent reviews and a good response from other readers of my book.


So let’s dream away and see where it leads us.




I liked the energy in this first book, in addition to the determination of the main character.  Plus, I learned a thing or two about designing clothes.



Chloe by Design: Making the Cut

Margaret Gurevich

Illustrated by Brooke Hagel

Chloe Montgomery admits she loves fashion.  She designs and makes her own clothes, so she’s beside herself with glee when the emcee of Design Diva, a television show set up to judge aspiring fashion designers, announces a contest for teenagers who want to be designers.  Her family urges her to try out and she does, but not without lots of urging by Alex, her best friend, who makes up names like Courageous Chloe.  Our aspiring fashion designer is afraid she’ll fail, but because her arch rival, Nina, is trying out, Chloe drums up the moxey to design three outfits in two weeks.  She makes it to the New York City Final Fifteen, where the TV show films them incessantly.  Of course Nina also makes it to the finals and does her best to undermine Chloe’s successes, but Chloe’s confidence grows with each challenge she surmounts.  Her mom and Alex are her back up crew and cheering squad.  Chloe is a likeable and creative teen and her support crew is very believable.  Even for the fashion indifferent among readers, Chloe pulls us into her world and Ms. Gurevich gives enough scenic backdrop to ground us in Chloe’s emotional and physical locations.  Ms, Hagel’s illustrations are exactly what a fashion illustrator produces, because that’s what she is.  This is a very enjoyable read and has many points of discussion about believing in oneself and holding on to one’s sense of moral rightness.  Plus, even the “blue jean” crowd likes to dream about wearing a dress that turns every head.

BIBLIO: 2015, Capstone Young Readers/Capstone Press, Ages 14 to 18, $14.95.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Young Adult

ISBN: 978-1-62370-112-3




This one gives you an inside look at making movies, in addition to making you root for the better of the two boys involved Paige’s understanding of human foibles.


Famous in Love

Rebecca Serle

Paige Townsen’s dream of acting in movies comes true.  A dream she’s had all her seventeen years, eclipsing her earlier roles on stage and in commercials, this first movie role has her cast as the female lead in the movie version of a best selling series of novels.  Not only that, but her co-star is the red hot Rainer Devon, who takes her under his wing and shows her the ropes of being a celebrity.  To make things even dreamier, they’re filming on the Hawaiian island of Maui.  But then Jordan Wilder shows up as Paige’s character’s boyfriend and soon she’s in the middle of a love triangle paralleling the movie’s plot.  Paige learns a lot about herself, growing up, her family and navigating the world of acting and stardom during the course of this book.  The reader develops a closeness to all the characters, including Paige’s two best friends getting on with their lives in Portland, Oregon.  Plus, it’s a fun way to gain a rudimentary understanding of the backstage machinations on a movie set.  It’s a good read all around.

BIBLIO: 2014, Poppy/Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group, Ages 13 +, $18.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Young Adult

ISBN: 978-0-316-36632-8

ISBN: 978-0-316-36634-2



Life is not always easy and sometimes your dreams take a twist you’re not anticipating, but perseverance pays off.  This book will give you an education on the life of a clam fisherman.


Swim that Rock

John Rocco & Jay Primiano

Illustrated by John Rocco

Jake Cole’s fisherman father disappears during a boat accident.  His dad left a mountain of debt to a nasty loan shark, who threatens Jake and his mom.  But people come to the Coles’ rescue.  Gene takes Jake on his quahog clamming boat and then a fellow named Captain takes him out at night to do shady things like claim possibly abandoned motors from boats stranded during a hurricane.  The girls who work at the diner also help by planning a cabaret evening.  When Gene is badly injured in a boating accident, Jake and Captain take him to the hospital in a neighboring town.  At first Jake is uneasy about taking Gene’s boat out, but he will garner much needed money with a big haul from a bit of the bay just opened up to the quahoggers.  Gene’s hospital bills are going to be humongous and Jake must pay back the money his dad owes.  Jake gets to the new clamming ground early and positions the boat where Gene told him was the best spot. His friend Tommy arrives to help. A kid in his fancy boat with the latest fishing gear pulls up nearby and it is readily apparent he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Jake helps him out.  Jake ends up with an excellent catch for which he gets a fair price.  Once back at his home port, Jake takes the money to the loan shark, but it’s not enough, until the loan shark discovers Jake helped his son.  So the rest of the debt is forgiven. Jake finally admits his dad is dead, but knows the whole town wants the family to stay. This well told story has lots of information about the life of a shell fisherman.  Read the book to understand what swimming the rock means.

BIBLIO: 2014, Candlewick Press, Ages 13 +, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Young Adult

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6905-8



Dream on and we’ll all pray for our dreams to come true.


Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin

If you’ve never gone through a period of life feeling ashamed, consider yourself blessed. Most people lack self confidence at some point in their lives. Teens and younger children frequently feel that. It’s part of growing up. When I was in high school I didn’t think anybody could possibly like me, especially any boy. Boys did like me, but even when they showed or told me that, I didn’t believe them. I probably had a reputation of being an ice queen.

At 5’6” tall, 120 pounds, and with flame-red hair, I probably wasn’t all that bad to look at. But, still I didn’t think I measured up. So I can relate to all who feel unlovable and unworthy.

Fortunately, I did find at least some of my good qualities and did discover I wasn’t really stupid. Most people do find their paths in life, but most also don’t have an easy path.

Anyway, here are three books that deal with our struggles toward self respect. Hope you enjoy them.


The first book is about being picked on or bullied because of some physical difference. Add to that an emotional sadness and you’ve got one insecure individual.

Camo Girl
Kekla Magoon
Ella is picked upon by the other kids because her skin is mottled—dark brown in some spots on her face and light brown in others. She’s ashamed of her looks, thinking she’s ugly. She had two friends up until this year—sixth grade. But Millie has been avoiding her except when they ride to and from school, so Ella is down to one friend who calls himself Zachariah, knight of his own realm. Everyone else makes fun of Z, but Ella—known to Z as The Lady Ellie-nor—is loyal to her friend. He helped her grieve when her father died by making up their fantasy world, which was good at the time. The problem is Zachariah slides ever further into the alternate world so he won’t have to deal with the reality of his father having deserted him, leaving his mom and him to camp out at the Wal-Mart where she works. He becomes even more the object of torture for the school bullies; the Lady Ellie-nor coming to his rescue. Z’s distress deepens when Bailey James starts at their school and seeks out Ella’s company. She thinks it’s because she’s the only other black kid in the school. But he invites her to join him as he hangs out with the popular crowd and protects her from the bullies. She finds herself pulled toward other people and begins to reconnect with her friend Millie. Z goes on a mission to find his estranged father and Bailey helps Ella find him. Bailey has secrets of his own, including having his own father in a psychiatric hospital to deal with his post-traumatic stress disorder. Z finally gets the help he desperately needs and Ella begins to move on from her father’s death. This is a very well written novel and an enjoyable read.
BIBLIO: 2011, Aladdin/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division/Simon & Schuster Publishing, Inc., Ages 8 to 12, $15.99
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Middle Reader
ISBN: 978-1-4169-7804-6
ISBN: 978-1-4424-1722-9


This second book is about having to move from one culture to another and acknowledging uncomfortable truths.

Flowers in the Sky
Lynn Joseph
Nina Perez is perfectly happy living in Samana, Dominican Republic, but her mother is always harping on her to move to New York City and live with her brother, Darrio. Mamí is sure Nina will have better schools to go to and many chances to marry a rich man, who will take care of Nina and Mamí. Mamí whines at Darrio to send them money, which he dutifully does. But when Nina goes to New York, she discovers how her brother is making his money. He sells stolen goods in exchange for a free apartment and a salary. Nina makes friends at her new high school, but she falls for an older boy, Luis Santana, with a street reputation of being a bad sort. Nina misses being able to have a flower garden, so Darrio buys her an orchid to grow on the fire escape and soon she is growing lots of orchids to sell in the neighborhood. She starts up a friendship with Luis, even though Darrio and Mamí disapprove and would prefer she date her smart school friend, Carlos. Eventually Darrio gets caught for selling stolen goods, but Luis protects Nina and tells her the story of how he got his reputation. He tells her he’s thinking of going to college. Nina also realizes how much pressure she and Mamí have put on Darrio to support them over the years and how hard it’s been on him. This is a nice story, well told. It could lead to classroom discussions on cultural differences and learning to listen to people to see who they really are.
BIBLIO: 2013, HarperTeen/Epic Reads/HarperCollins Publishers, Ages 13 +, $17.99
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-0-06-029794-7
ISBN: 978-0-06-223642-5


The third book is  about moving, but also dealing with new philosophies.

White Crow
Marcus Sedgwick
Against her desire, Rebecca moves to Winterfold from London, because her Detective Inspector dad has to lie low until the hullabaloo about his involvement in the death of a teenage girl simmers down. Winterfold is hot and boring and falling into the sea little by little. But Rebecca does meet a strange and fascinating girl named Ferelith and they become friends. Together they explore the town as Ferelith lures Rebecca into discussions of life and death and whether Heaven and Hell actually exist. Juxtaposed in this story are excerpts from the diary of an eighteenth century priest who is wondering about the same issues with a strange French doctor. The girls start daring each other to do increasingly bizarre and dangerous things and end up with Rebecca being locked in a special room where Ferelith tries to coerce her friend into admitting the reality of good and evil or God and the Devil or an afterlife. The two finally explore a hidden room/cave at the bottom of the French doctor’s house and find bones of the seven people the doctor and priest had murdered. As the girls are in room, the back of the house falls into the sea. Ferelith jumps into the sea and drowns, leaving a terrified Rebecca alone in the cave. Strange story with dark twists and turns which will keep the reader enthralled, even if it is a bit convoluted.
BIBLIO: 2011 (orig. 2010,) Roaring Brook Press/Holtzbrink Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership, Ages 14 +, $16.99.
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-1-59643-594-0


Enjoy the reviews and remember to be happy in your own skin.  At almost 75, I’ve pretty much achieved that.

How Do We Interact with Animals?

Spring is here and the earth is warming up.  Time to be outside and share our space with the other creatures that inhabit our planet.  Most people have some kind of pet, so one story is about dogs, another is about cats and the third one is about sharks, though I doubt most people want a pet shark.  It’s rather like to trying to keep a venomous snake as a pet.  It’s a good way to get hurt by an unhappy critter.  And sharks in the ocean, if they’re hungry or you get too close, can bite you if they think you’re a tasty looking morsel.


The first book is about learning the best way to adopt a dog.  And to understand how the dog feels about things.


A Dog Wearing Shoes

Sangmi Ko

Illustrated by Sangmi Ko

Mini’s mom brings their car to a hair-raising, screeching halt when she sees a small dog trotting toward them on a busy street.  The dog has on yellow boots and loves to play, but when they get home to their apartment, the dog barks in misery.  Mini takes the dog to the park, but first chance she gets away the dog runs.  Mini and her mom find the dog at the animal shelter and take it back home.  But this time, Mini puts up signs in the neighborhood and soon the dog’s owner comes to get his dog.  The next day, Mini and Mom go back to the shelter and get Mini her very own dog. The message in this story is to get your new pet at the animal shelter and then make sure your animal is always properly identified.  This story is a good introduction to taking care of your animal.  The illustrations, with a generous nod to Dr. Seuss, are enchanting and humorous.  The reader easily sees the dog’s energy and Mini’s reactions to the unfolding events.  The only color in the wonderful pencil drawings is the dog’s yellow boots.

BIBLIO: 2015, Schwartz & Wade Books/Random House Children’s Books/Random House LLC/Penguin Random House Company, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Picture Book

ISBN: 978-0-385-38396-7

ISBN: 978-0-385-38397-4

ISBN: 978-0-385-38398-1


The second book is about an extraordinarily independent cat, who isn’t sure he wants a pet human.

My Pet Human

Yasmine Surovec

Illustrated by Yasmine Surovec

A black and white cat is proud of his independent status.  He doesn’t want a pet human.  He eats at local restaurants and hides in tree holes.  He has animal friends, what does he need pet humans for?  They are sure to squeeze him too tight and not feed him when he’s hungry.  They won’t appreciate the presents he brings them and probably they won’t let him go outside to wander around.  But one day, while hiding from the animal control officer, he notices a little girl and her mom living in a house he thought abandoned.  Soon he’s eating mac and cheese with tuna and olives.  And there are empty boxes to play in, so he decides to train these humans to do what he wants.  The girl is easy to train, but the mom takes longer.  He and his animal friends concoct a plan to get a lonely boy and the cat’s little girl to meet.  All goes as planned and the children become friends.  But cat worries he no longer has a pet human, until the girl and her mom rescue him from the animal control officer.  Cat decides he has the perfect pet humans.  The story is nice introduction to caring for pets and also shows the need for friendship.  It lends itself well to classroom discussions of the correct way to care for pets and make friends. The illustrations are simple and charming.

BIBLIO: 2015, Roaring Brook Press/Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings, Ages 6 to 9, $12.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Early Reader

ISBN: 978-1-62672-073-2



The third book is about a boy who has to fend off a hungry shark. Fortunately, he’s quite a clever boy.

Surrounded by Sharks

Michael Northrop

Davey Tsering is on vacation with his parents and younger brother, Brandon a.k.a. Brando. All of them crammed into one hotel room on a tiny key just off Key West, Florida.  Davey feels 13 ½ years old is too old to share a room with the rest of his family. When he wakes up early, he decides to do some exploring—it’s impossible to get lost on an island so small he sees it all just by pivoting 360o in front of the hotel, right?  He explores a while, until he discovers a sheltered part of the island, sporting a “No Swimming” sign. Well, he wasn’t planning on swimming anyway. He settles himself by bushes up from the beach to reread one of his favorite books.  But it’s turning into a warm day and he decides to explore the water’s edge; he’s not really breaking the rules if he just wades along the shore.  After hiding his glasses and book and shoes under a bush, Davey walks along the shore, but when he wanders a bit further out into the surf he’s sucked in by a rip current and carried out to sea.  When his parents discover he’s missing, they enlist the help of the hotel manager and local police, plus the resident Coast Guard officer.  But not once do they ask Brando for his opinion.  The rest of the book is about the search to find Davey and Davey’s experiences trying to stay afloat and then ward off sharks. The tone of this book is quiet, because Davey is quiet, but the author does ratchet up the tension.  A nice read, with a variety of temperaments amongst the characters in the book.

BIBLIO:  2014, Scholastic Press/Scholastic Inc., Ages 8 to 12, $17.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Middle Reader

ISBN: 978- 0-545-61545-7

Hope you enjoy the reviews and please let me know what you think.

Also, if you have read my book, Terror’s Identity, and you liked it, please put a review on Amazon or GoodReads or anywhere you think it will be noticed. If you haven’t read it and would like to see what it’s about , please check it out on Amazon or . Thanks.