Thursday, 25 February 2016

Boy Won't Read? The Book could be the Problem

Boys don't Read

Does your boy hate reading? Do you struggle to get your son to sit long enough to engage in a book? The problem probably isn't the boy, but rather the content that he has available. My son was an avid reader so it was easy to find books he'd like and we could share together. My daughter, not so much. It took effort to find books she'd read, but once she did she read them over and over. It was the content in our personal library that was the problem. She was a picky reader, my son was not.

Her personal favourite series, The diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Why boys don't like to Read

Why boys may have a problem with reading, in my honest opinion - Attention span.  Other factors that can attribute to this is a lack of a reading male role model, a lack of value on books in the home, a learning disability, reading level of the book, and a lack of interest in the reading material.

Personally, I believe it to be the attention span, which is why I wrote THIRTEEN to be so fast paced with few descriptive words, to keep the action going. I also didn't write it as an epic, but rather as the first of a series of books because let's face it when your looking at Les Miserables or War and Peace the size of the book puts you off starting it.

Men are visual creatures, we know this. They don't remember things you tell them or even write down for them. They watch certain types of movies more than reading romance books, because they are visually stimulated organisms. Boys are just little men, the need pictures.

However, your son can't get ahead in life if all he reads are picture books and comic books. Don't get me wrong I love a good comic book and if your son is reading them buy him a truck full, but don't call it a day.

Reluctant Readers and THIRTEEN

When I started writing THIRTEEN I wanted it to be a book boys who didn't like reading would enjoy along with kids and teens who did like to read. I've been told adults like it too, which is a huge compliment.

Focus. Shannon. Focus. Right. When I decided on how I would write the book I decided that long, boring descriptions and convoluted back stories had to go.

If I didn't fully describe something or give long winded back stories how would anyone know what was going on or connect with the character? Easy. Let me put it to you this way:

A school field
A highway
A kitchen

When you read those three things, did you know what they looked like? That's why I didn't need to describe them. I let the reader fill in the blanks with their own visual experiences. When I had to describe something, I did it with as few words as possible using action.

He picked up a black hoody off the floor of his bedroom, gave it a sniff before putting it on.
He got into his mom's green Honda civic and kicked an old fast food bag out of his way.

THIRTEEN is filled with trigger words to help the reluctant reader follow the story and stay engaged with it. The trick isn't getting them to like reading the book, the trick is getting them to actually crack it open and read it, because they assume that they hate reading, when really it's just the content that they've been given and not the book itself.

OK so I know I might be full of the brown stuff here, this is just my personal theory and why I structured the book this way. I didn't have a room of reluctant readers to experiment on and test my theory. However, those who did read it during the creation process couldn't put it down. Not even my daughter whom I had to bribe with gifts to read just one chapter, but after that one chapter, she was hooked.

Want to know more about kids who don't like to read. Check out these sites:

Books Boys Want to Read

Why Boys Don't Read

Boys don't like reading, except when they do. 

I found these articles to be insightful, especially the last one written by a man who hated to read but loved stories. Understanding the problem and why your son doesn't like to read will help you find books he will engage with. Good Luck on your search.

Shannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN a story about a boy, his single mom, her cop boyfriend, a missing dad, and an invading foreign army. She explores North American life in an occupied zone with no power, no communication, and no freedoms. For more information check out her website: 

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Book for Boys - Meet the Characters

THIRTEEN is a book for boys aged 10 - 14 about a 13 year old boy trying to figure out who he is during an invasion of his ocean side border hometown. This action story is fast paced and written more like a movie script than a novel, making it easy and exciting for boys to read.

The Teenager - Jack

Jack is a thirteen year old boy who has just escaped the confines of elementary school to the freedoms of high school. The only thing standing in his way of total freedom to do what he wants is his over protective single mother who grounds him constantly.

One morning he wakes to machine gun fire as foreign soldiers have invaded the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, cutting off power, restricting travel, shutting down all media and communications. Can Jack survive without wifi?

Their limited point of view has them in the dark about what's going on and the stories they hear from people are scary, especially for those who came from Downtown Vancouver, which is where Jack's dad lives. Jack fears for his dad's safety and wants to go find him, however his mother doesn't care, the soldiers keep getting in his way and the cop who busted him is no help at all.

For more about who Jack is, what he likes, and what motivates him Click Here: The Teenager

The Mother - Sydney 

Sydney is Jack's mother. She is struggling to come to terms with her son's new attitude and rebellious nature. She isn't sure where this kid came from and as a single mom it's hard enough without all his antics. Still reeling from her divorce she is starting to date new men and Jack doesn't like it.

When foreign soldiers invade their hometown, Sydney is caught off guard and doesn't really know what to do. She can't sit still though and making sure they have what they need for the week until the Canadian and American armies can get there is her number one priority. Well, after keeping Jack inside the house.

For more about who Sydney is, what she likes, her family, and what motivates her, Click: The Mother

Getting Boys to Read

It's hard to find books that speak to boys and get them engaged. THIRTEEN was written with boys in mind and their limited attention spans. By keeping details to a minimum and setting the book in a familiar generic North American type place I force the reader to bring their own experiences into the story and make it theres. For more on how I structured THIRTEEN for reluctant readers.

Click for Information on THIRTEEN & it's Author

Click to read book reviews on THIRTEEN

Paperback available on Amazon and digital copies available wherever e-books are sold. Click on cover image for more details on how to purchase from Amazon.

Shannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN a story about a boy, his single mom, her cop boyfriend, a missing dad, and an invading foreign army. She explores North American life in an occupied zone with no power, no communication, and no freedoms. For more information check out her website: 

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Beyond the Shadows - A Book for Older Teen Boys

I enjoy a story that twists, turns, and is full of back story mysteries. When there is something that happened in the past that effects the characters in the present it's like the reader is getting to know about a juicy piece of gossip. A tragic story that pulls at the heart strings and finds some kind of solution in a future generation. All families have hidden skeletons, black sheep, and tragedy in the branches and roots of the family tree.

 The third and final book in the Night Angel Series find our characters spread out on different trajectories. Kylar is dead to the world, even though the Night Angel is alive to fight for his friends lives and futures. Logan is where he is supposed to be but that doesn't mean he'll be able to stay because there is a new threat and the new God King has something of his that he wants back. Elene is trying to find her charge. Vie is Vie with a huge problem and a desire to change with very little chance of doing so.

First book in the trilogy, The Way of Shadows
Second book in the trilogy, Shadow's Edge
Third book in the trilogy, Beyond the Shadows

From the Author's Website: 

Logan Gyre is king of Cenaria, a country under siege, with a threadbare army and little hope. He has one chance — a desperate gamble, but one that could destroy his kingdom. 
In the north, the new Godking has a plan. If it comes to fruition, no one will have the power to stop him. 
Kylar Stern has no choice. To save his friends-and perhaps his enemies-he must accomplish the impossible: assassinate a goddess.

A book for Older Teen Boys

As with the other two books in the series the adult content makes it inappropriate for younger teens and advanced readers. However, older teens will identify with Kylar's predicament and desires. The threads that were left going different directions start to come together in this book and weave together to tie up in an ending that is bitter sweet. In my opinion the weaves are quite forced and it seems that the author is grasping at straws sometimes to get a thread to meet the ending the author intends. It's an end to a dark story, but not the best book in the series. Still, there is enough mystery and drawing from the histories of older characters and heroes long dead to bring the current character's stories to a conclusion. Sometimes prophesy and the secrets one carries bring challenges that others must face.

Shannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN and is currently working on Book 2 in the series about a boy, his mom, a cop, and an invading army. She has brought war to a North American town to answer the question, what if it happened here?

Click to go to her website and find more about THIRTEEN. 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Shadow's Edge by Brent Week's - A book for older Teen Boys

I am not your typical female reader. I don't like many Chick Lit novels and I detest Romance novels, especially the Harlequinn genre, sorry to all you Romance writers, but I am just not a romantic at heart. I love the dark fantasy genre, even though it's not the genre I write.

In Shadow's Edge Kylar has given up the darkness inside him for love. That's right, love. He wants to be good enough for the pure innocent and scared Elene. Can he be worthy of her love and will she ever give in to his nightly requests?

Giving up a part of oneself isn't easy and Kylar can't help but becoming the Night Angel, exacting justice and saving the innocent.

He does his best until a friend dies asking him to save another friend from the depths of the Mah. He must now chose, love and Elene or death and loneliness. Sometimes the choice is easy.

First book in the trilogy, The Way of Shadows
Second book in the trilogy, Shadow's Edge
Third book in the trilogy, Beyond the Shadows

From Brent Week's website:

Kylar Stern has rejected the assassin’s life. The Godking’s successful coup has left Kylar’s master, Durzo, and his best friend, Logan, dead. He is starting over: new city, new friends, and new profession. 
But when he learns that Logan might actually be alive and in hiding, Kylar is faced with an agonizing choice: will he give up the way of shadows forever and live in peace with his new family, or will he risk everything by taking on the ultimate hit?

A Novel for Older Teen Boys and New Adults  

As a mom, I wouldn't want my son reading this book 'til he was 20 due to the content, however that would be very naive and unrealistic of me. The most comfortable I feel recommending an age is 16 and over, by then they can handle the adult content and their mouths are filthier than the cursing in the book. 

As a story the novel does twist and turn enough to keep a reader interested. The author introduces new characters and leave the reader wondering why some of them are there until later in the series when the threads weave back together and tie up. 

The stories of Vi, Elene, Kylar, Logan, and Jarol weave around each other in a dance that doesn't seem to have a purpose until a new layer is revealed. This is fantasy, a world of magic, so anything goes and the author did have to push a bit to get things to go where they needed to, but we get there in the end and that's the point - right? Predictability in story crafting is death and Brent Weeks takes his readers on a journey that's anything but predictable. 

Shannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN and is currently working on Book 2 in the series about a boy, his mom, a cop, and an invading army. She has brought war to a North American town to answer the question, what if it happened here?

Click to go to her website and find more about THIRTEEN. 

Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Way of Shadows By Brent Weeks - A Book for Older Teen Boys

I am a fan of dark fantasy fiction and this cover was what sold me on this book. It looked like the kind of story I'd like to read and was a trilogy. I purchased the trilogy as audiobooks from and have listened to the series twice already.

 In the first novel we are introduced to Azoth a homeless street kid trying to survive in a cruel, dangerous world where death is around every corner. He is a scared little boy who wants to find safety in being strong and feared by those around him. In his world, men like Durzo Blint are respected, feared, and strong.

Durzo Blint is a Wet Boy, the ultimate assassin and Azoth wants to be just like him.

First book in the trilogy, The Way of Shadows
Second book in the trilogy, Shadow's Edge
Third book in the trilogy, Beyond the Shadows

From the Author's Website: 

The perfect killer has no friends. Only targets.For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art. And he is the city’s most accomplished artist, his talents required from alleyway to courtly boudoir. 
For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned the hard way to judge people quickly — and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint. 
But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics — and cultivate a flair for death.

A book for older teen boys and 20 something men. 

I like how this book is from the viewpoint of characters that are considered immoral in their career choices and yet are shown to be moral in their own way. In most cases more moral than those who should be moral and kind. Characters have an internal struggle between what they want and what they must do to survive.

If you are looking to buy a gift for a boy who has strict parents or Christian parents, this is NOT the book to buy. There is swearing, adult content, violence, and immoral choices. I am not the kind of parent who protects her children from taboo subjects and uncomfortable relationship conversations and as I was listening to the book I did not feel that the content was appropriate for my 13 year old daughter to hear.

I would say it's a new adult series and not a YA series because of the adult content, especially in the other two books.

As a start to a dark fantasy trilogy, The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks is a good read. I listened to it twice and probably will listen to it again. I liked the character Durzo Blint and if I was a young woman I'd probably fall in love with the character Kylar. My favourite character was Mama K though, with her strength, class, and independence. I can identify with her hardened heart and the pain she keeps hidden from the man she loves.

Shannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN, a coming of age story about a boy, his single mom, a cop, and an invading army all set in modern day Canada.  What if you woke up one morning to the sounds of gunfire? What would you do? Could you survive without power, communications, or transportation? Shannon Peel asks these questions in her debut novel, THIRTEEN.

Click to find out more about her book for boys.  

Click to find out about Thirteen

Monday, 18 January 2016

Sharing Books with my Boy & Books for Tweens and Younger Teens

As I read the Happy Hooligan's blog post about reading to her boys along with  a list of their favourite books, I was hit with a wall of nostalgia that left me sad and on the verge of a depression episode.

As much as I adored reading to them when they were toddlers and little boys, for me, it got better and better as they got older!  We’d dive into these great chapter books, and tackle trilogies and series’, and just get lost in them for an hour or more every night. Read More...  

My favourite memory was when I'd cuddle up with the kids in my queen size bed and we'd take turns reading chapters of our latest book until we fell asleep. My son is now 16 and the idea of snuggling up with his mom for any reason is the stuff of horror stories.

One of the main conflicts within my novel THIRTEEN is the struggle between Jack and his mom. He wants to be his own person and his mom isn't ready to let him grow up yet. Every child grows up before their mothers are ready for them to. One day he's a little boy the next.... It's world war three.

I wrote this post, Getting Older - Cutting the Strings is So hard, on my raising siblings blog around the time I was considering writing a novel about a boy surviving war.

My son is getting older and it is so frustrating because I am having a hard time with the distance he's putting between us.  I am beginning to understand how obsolete technology must feel.  I know he doesn't mean to be mean but it still hurts just the same when he tells me he doesn't need me anymore.   
I look at him and see a young man where a boy used to be.  I wonder where all the time went and why I didn't hang on to every second of every moment with him.  I was distracted at times by work, friends, TV, books, and the internet while he was growing up.  I remember his baby years better than the last 5 years, his primary school years where friends grew more important than mom.  I long for those wonderful years when I was the only person in his world. Read More....

Has your son or daughter grown up sooner than you would have liked? Share your experiences in the comment section. Any tips for parents whose kids are becoming tweens or teens? 

If your child is still small enough to want to cuddle up with you... Click here to find out what 40 books for boys 8-16 Happy Hooligans recommends. 

About my son when he was 10 and pulling away from me.

Click here to discover the books my son and I shared together. 

Shannon Peel is the mother of two wonderful teenagers who live with her in South Surrey, BC Canada. 

She is the author of THIRTEEN a book about a boy trying to figure out who he is in a world that has turned upside down. She drew from her own conflict with her son and his personality to write the story.

THIRTEEN is her debut full size paperback novel.

Occupied Christmas - A Short Story for Boys Grades 5-9

In Occupied Christmas Jack and his mom try to celebrate Christmas behind enemy lines, however the soldiers have forbid anyone from celebrating any holiday under threat of imprisonment. Will Jack and his mom get a Christmas?

This short story for boys is a serial in small easy to read parts posted on my blog. 

An excerpt of Occupied Christmas - Part 1 The Crawlspace

Jack’s knees hurt and his hands were cold from crawling along the concrete. The ceiling was only three feet above the floor, so standing was not an option. The last time he’d been down there, his mom had sent him to hide from the soldier who had come to their door with food. That time, he hid behind the Christmas decorations, this time, he was retrieving them. 
Christmas was only a few weeks away and although Jack didn’t believe in Jolly St. Nick, he always looked forward to the presents underneath the tree. This year was no different. Occupation or not, it was still December and it was still Christmas. Maybe the Canadian and US armies would save them by the 25th and they could have a normal Christmas. Maybe they’d find his dad and he’d come home. One could always hope, right? More...

The characters are from my debut novel, THIRTEEN, about a boy, his single mom, a cop, and an invading army. The contemporary story is set in a West Coast North American town.

THIRTEEN is the first in a series about a boy, his single mom, a cop, and an invading army. Jack wakes to machine gun fire when foreign soldiers invade his home town cutting off the power, shutting down communications, and restricting travel. Jack wants to see his dad who lives in the city 45 minutes away but his mother doesn't care, the soldiers are in his way and the cop who busted him is no help at all.

To find out more about THIRTEEN click to go to my website.

Shannon Peel is the mother of two wonderful teenagers who live with her in South Surrey, BC Canada. 

After a career in the financial field she decided to stay home and raise her two children until school age. In 2007 she return to the workforce as a sales / marketing / advertising professional.

THIRTEEN is her debut full size paperback novel.