Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Can I please have a dragon?

Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher
Bruce Coville

genre: children's fantasy, middle grade reader
pages: 151
series: A Magic Shop Book
rating: ****

Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher is a story about a boy (Jeremy) who buys a dragon's egg and hatches.  Afterwards he must raise the dragon, who becomes his best friend, and eventually send the dragon home.

This is a great book, like The Monster's Ring, you have a protagonist who deals with bullys, parents, and teachers.  Jeremy must learn to care for his dragon, while protecting the family pests as she grows, and keeping her existence a secret.  It dosent' help that a girl in his class has made it her goal to track him down and kiss him!  Jeremy learns responsibility and sometimes doing what is best for someone else may not be the easiest thing for you to do.  HMMM....sounds like a parenting lesson there.

Anyway, it's a great summer read full of laughter and excitement and of course dragons.

- Caren

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Children's Books Galore....

Farley Follows His Nose
Lynn Johnston

Farley Follows His Nose By Lynn Johnston, Beth Cruikshankgenre: picture book
pages: 32
rating: ***

Farley Follows His Nose is a picture books based on Farley from For Better for Worse.  It's about time!  Farley goes through the day, after his bath, chasing smells.  He goes across town and even gets lost before returning home.  During the day he helps a little find his way home.

It's a sweet book with artwork reminiscent of the comic strip.  I enjoyed following Farley following his nose.  It has some repetitive words for the enjoyment of little people.  Big bright colorful drawings.

When Stella was Very Very Small
Marie-Louise Gay

genre: picture book
pages: 32
series: Stella and Sam Series
When Stella was Very, Very Smallrating:***1/2
When Stella was Very Very Small follows little Stella as she learns about her world.  Her imagination transforms her world into amazing experiences.  In the end she grows up and begins teaching her very very small brother Sam all she has learned.

This is a sweet, yes I used that word again, book.  The artwork looks like watercolor.  I love the drawing of Stella this tiny little red-haired girl.  She is adorable. I love her vivid imagination and how she sees everything differently.  It's a great book for small kids.

Clara and Asha
Eric Rohmann

Cover illustration from Clara and Asha. Copyright Eric Rohmanngenre: picture book
rating: *****

Clara and Asha follows Clara through a dream like world with her friend Asha.  Asha's a giant fish.  But that doesn't stop the pair from having amazing adventures.

This is a true picture book.  Beautiful dreamlike artwork with few words.  It is a treat for the eyes.  I loved searching the pictures to find any hidden object.  Not that it has hidden objects.  It's just that the artwork is amazing and deserves searching.  Loved this book and will read it again before I take it back to the library.

Happy reading

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Better learn to follow directions...

The Monster's Ring
Bruce Coville
genre: middle readers, fantasy
series: A Magic Shop Book, book 1
pages: 100
rating: ****

I was about to start reading Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, when I saw it was book 2 in a series.  So, of course, I looked for book 1 and checked them both out.  The Monster's Ring is book 1.  I will be returning to my dragon books shortly, don't worry.

The Monster's Ring is about Russell Crannaker.  A elementary student who is bullied by a bigger boy, smothered by his mother, and not listened to by his father.  Poor kid.  While escaping from the bully he wanders into a magic shop.  The shopkeeper sells him a ring, he didn't know he needed.  What follows is a tale of not  following directions and learning to stand up to a bully, as well as standing up for that same bully.  Of course Halloween, a full moon, and talking rats have a part to play.

I loved this book.  I loved that this boy stood up to a bully.  I loved that he had compassion to want to help the bully out when he needed it, and I loved that he learned to fly.  It's a fun, quick read.  There are plenty of parts kids would love.  Like turning in to a monster for the school Halloween party and pouncing at the principal, and the streaking scene at the end (pun intended, relax it's a clean book).  This probably a boy book, but I have a feeling girls will like it as well.  I plan on handing it to mine after I write this up.  She'll love it.

So grab some spooky music and some candy corn and read The Monster's Ring .  It's laugh out loud 
                                                                                  funny, I promise.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Not Harry's Basilisk.....

The Basilisk's Lair
R. L. LaFevers

genre: children's fantasy, middle grade reader
series: Nathaniel Fludd Beastologist Book 2
pages: 150
rating: ***1/2

OK, technically a Basilisk isn't a dragon, but it is close enough.  When I saw the cover of this book in the library, I thought it looked cute.  I loved the title, too.  I couldn't find the first book, so I started with book 2.

The Basilisk's Lair, follows  Nathaniel Fludd as he learns to be a Beastologist.  His Aunt Phil is the current Beastologist.  They receive news that the Basilisk has escape and must chase him down and capture him before he destroys surrounding villages.

Nate is a fun character.  He has weaknesses, he's not real sure of his abilities, but when the chips are down you can count on him to pull through.  He has a pet gremlin named Greasle, who has an attitude.  The story is fast paced and descriptive.  The drawings are fun.  They look like pen and ink drawings and add to the adventure of the story.  I really like the bones that mark the beginning of each chapter, they increase as you read!  For those of us that need one, there is also a glossary to explain words, people, and places.

I must say, this is not the same sort of Basilisk from the Potter books.  This one is somewhat...ridiculous.
It's a great summer read and I look forward to reading the other books in the series.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Summer of the Dragon....

Obert Skye

genre: children's fantasy, middle readers
series: Pillage Trilogy
pages: 312
favorite quote: "I had fallen from vents, scaled buildings, and flown on the backs of dragons, yet somehow all of those things seemed a bit less amazing now."
rating: ****1/2

I went to the library, trying to avoid the summer rush of kids once school gets out.  I never made it to the adult section.  The children's section held my attention and when I left books filled my bag.  Oddly enough, most deal with dragons.  Except for one, it had dinosaurs- same thing.

Pillage, is book one in the Pillage Trilogy.  It's a short, fat book with a beautiful picture of a dragon carrying a postal box dripping with letters.  Anyway, the basic story is Beck, a teenage boy, is moved to his uncle's house after his mom dies penniless.  Beck has had a rough life and it only gets rougher...and odder.  He notices he has the ability to command plants and finds these odd rocks in his uncles garden.  A garden his has been forbidden to enter.  Through a strange turn of events and secret passageways, dragons hatch.  Beck must save the town and break an ancient family curse all at the same time.

book cover of 


 (Pillage Trilogy, book 1)


Obert SkyeI really enjoyed this book.  I loved how each chapter started with an excerpt from an ancient text describing the fate of Beck's ancestors.  It's a very quick read.  The pages magically fly by.  It's a lightweight fantasy, meaning it has magic, dragons, and curses but no epic worlds full of unusual creatures and languages.  It's a good first fantasy book.  The writing is crisp and witty.  Beck sounds and acts like a teenager.  The first chapter is brilliant!

A great summer read.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Love to learn

The Sea, the Storm, and the Mangrove Tangle
Lynne Cherry

Genre: Picture, children's
Pages: 40
Rating: ****

Lynne Cherry has a long list of environmental books for children.  The Sea, the Storm, and the Mangrove Tangle, follows the life of a mangrove seed from pod to mini ecosystem.  It shows the link between the mangroves and the animals that live within the branches and roots.  It also shows the protection the groves give during storms.

This book is beautiful in its story and illustrations.  The cover pages are have a beautiful map of the world locating the areas where mangroves grow.  It also illustrates the animals that survive because of the mangroves.  This book is a beautiful learning tool. 

I highly recommend it to parents and teachers alike.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Beach Fun...

When a Dragon Moves In
Jodi Moore
Howard McWilliam, illustrator

Genre: children's picture book
Pages: 32 pages
rating: ****

Summer is here and many are making plans to visit the beach.  When a Dragon Moves In, is a story about a little boy who builds the perfect sand castle. Of course if you build a perfect sand castle a dragon will move in.  The little boy has fun with his dragon, until he gets the little boy in trouble. 

I loved this book.  The illustrations are bold, bright, and colorful.  They follow the story beautifully.  As the child reads, or is read to, the illustrations tell a secondary story.  It is funny and brings back memories from my own childhood.  I could have used a dragon!

It's a perfect read for summer.

- Caren

Friday, April 20, 2012


Capitol Murder
Phillip Margolin

genre: suspense
pages: 344

I received a free uncorrected copy from a Goodreads giveaway.  The review is my own opinion.

Capitol Murder follows Dana Cutler and Brad Miller, along with a few others, as they try to solve cases involving the serial killer Clarence Little and a terrorist plot to blow up Fed ex field.  It's a tangled web of clues linking senators, terrorists, nd call girls.

I love mysteries.  I enjoy suspense and spy thrillers.  I do not like gore or brutality to women.  This book had both.  There were several times I thought about putting the book down and not finish it, but I kept reading.  The story would have been enthralling without the gore and brutality, I felt it was unnecessary.  I probably won't read another one of his books for that reason.

Capitol Murder by Phillip Margolin

- Caren

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tea Time...

Agony of The Leaves
Laura Childs

Genre: cozy
Series: A Tea Shop Mystery #13
Pages: 301 (including tips, recipes, and preview)
Rating: ***1/2

Agony of The Leaves, finds Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop in another murder mystery.  This time it's her ex-boyfriend Parker Scully who is found murdered. 

I walked into the library this week and came across the newest installment of the Tea Shop Mystery series.  I love this series. I have read a handful of these books, I did not know there were 13 books!  I've made my list of the books I haven't read. I love the characters, the setting, and I love tea.  I have been drinking hot tea since I was 5 years old.  Interesting story there, but I will save it for another time. On with the book. 

Agony of the LeavesUpfront I must say I was ticked off when she killed off Parker, I liked him.  At the same time, writer's have to kill off popular characters or it gets boring.  There was a stretch in the middle where the plot slowed.  I still enjoyed the story and reading about the characters, but it was a little slow.  I also didn't like how the killer came way out of left field.  I understand how the clues could point to this person, but they never made to my suspect list.

It was a good read and the last 150 pages or so are really good, but it's not as good as the other books in the series.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

With a Southern Drawl...

Carolyn Haines

genre: mystery, paranormal, southern, cozy
series: A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery, #8
pages: 325
rating: ****

Disclosure:  I am attending 'Daddy's Girl Weekend' and needed to read a book by Carolyn Haines.  She'll be there!

Wishbones, follows Sarah Booth Delaney as she makes her first movie (Body Heat).  She travels to Los Angeles and then to Costa Rica with past love interest Graf Milieu.  Things get tricky when a dead body shows up near her house in LA.  They get downright unusual with ghost sightings and accidents on the set.  Rumors fly the movie is cursed.  Can Sarah solve the mystery before she become a ghost?

This is my first Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery.  I've check one out several times before and never got around to reading them.  Had I know that Mrs. Haines was a neighbor (she's from Mississippi) I would have made it a point to read one.  Anyway, I'm usually not one for tales with ghosts, but Jitty is a hoot.  I really enjoyed the movie reference and the sprinkling of movie stars in the book.  It added an element of fun.  The writing is snappy and sounds southern.  I hate a fake southern voice, it's right up there with a bad southern accent.  The plot was faced paced and full of twists and turns.  I loved it.  I will have to read more of these books.

I do have one question:  What kind of dog is Sweetie Pie?
- Caren

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New read...

Elegy For Eddie
Jacqueline Winspear

genre: mystery, cozy
series: A Maisie Dobbs Novel, #9
pages: 331
rating: ***

I received a 'uncorrected proof' from Goodreads.  The book was free, the review is my own opinion.

Elegy for Eddie, occurs in 1933. Private Investigator Maisie Dobbs is asked to investigate the death of Eddie Pettit.  A gentle yet slow man.  Once she starts she finds a tangled web involving powerful people and friends she loves.  She even questions the involvement of the man she loves.  Set during Hitler's rise to power, issues of the day are woven throughout the book.

Elegy for Eddie
Elegy for Eddie, has a strong plot and is well written and researched.  It has the feel of an early spy novel.  At the beginning I got a little lost in the flashbacks, so it was hard to get involved in the story.  I've never read a Maisie Dobbs mystery before and felt out of the loop on who was who, as well as events mentioned from past books.  The book can be read alone, but it gets a little confusing in places.  Once I passed the third chapter, the story was faster paced and more interesting.  Usually, when I read a book, a movie plays in my head, not with this book.  I had difficulty 'seeing' the book.

It was OK, well written, just not my cup of tea.  Probably won't read another one.

- Caren

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Time to Plant your garden...

The Goodbye Cancer Garden
Janna Matthies
illustrator: Kristi Valiant

genre: picture book
pages: 32
rating: *****

I came across The Goodbye Cancer Garden while cruising the local library. I am so glad I did.

The Goodbye Cancer GardenThe Goodbye Cancer Garden is about a family who plants a garden after the mother is diagnosed with cancer.  It is a coping mechanism for the kids and away to count down to a time when she should be well.

I loved this book.  I have family members with cancer and have wondered how my kids would react to such news.  This is a great book for not only talking about cancer and its treatments, but also about hope.  It takes a difficult subject and handles it with care, and at the same time it is cheerful.

The illustrations are beautiful.  The family is bright and cheerful.  The kids are adorable.  Most importantly the mom rocks her bald head!

A truly uplifting book about a difficult subject.  A must read.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fun Read....

Art & Max
David Wiesner

genre: children's picture book
pages: 40
rating: *****

Art & Max is a picture book.  It tells the story of two friends, that are also lizards.  Art is an artist and Max wants to paint, too.  Max paints Art, not a picture of Art, he paints Art.  What happens when Max tries to 'fix' Art?  Read the book.

Ok first let me say this book is laugh out loud funny.  The pictures are wonderful.  Each page has a simple sentence or two.  I loved this book.  What happens to Art is so unpredictable.  Then how Max tries to return him to normal is incredible.  I loved it.  I think I said that already.

Art & Max

Monday, March 19, 2012

New Fave....

Books Can Be Deceiving
Jenn McKinlay

genre: cozy
series: A Library Lover's Mystery
pages: 291 ( including project, guide, and recipe)
rating: ****

Books Can Be Deceiving, is the first in a new series.  Lindsey is the director of the Briar Creek Public Library.  The head of the children's department is an old friend of hers, Beth.  Beth has dreams of being a children's picture book author.  But a cranky boyfriend throws a monkey wrench into her plans.  It gets worse when he ends up dead and the police chief finds Beth as the best suspect.  Can Lindsey solve the case before Beth is thrown in jail, or worse she becomes the next victim?

I loved this book.  LOVED LOVED LOVED.  I have read one of McKinlay's other books, Buttercream Bump Off.  I like it, but I like this one more.  The characters are smart and witty.  There are a few sharp old ladies, too.  A naked artist and a handsome boat captain.  What more can you ask for?  Ok, the plot is really good and flows well.  It's a quick read, mainly because I just didn't want to put it down. 

For the record.  I love the library.  You can find me there, haunting the stacks at least once a week!

Great Book, get a copy today.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday Girl Scouts...

Here Come the Girl Scouts
by. Shana Corey
Illustrated by. Hadley Hooper

genre: children's picture book
pages: 40 pages
rating ****

First, I must say I am a former Girl Scout and I am the mother of two Girl Scouts.  So I am biased!
Oh...I hope you have bought your cookies ;)

Here Comes the Girl Scouts, is a picture book about Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts.  Each page describes Julia and how she started the scouts.  Each page also carries a quote form the original handbook.

Here Come the Girl Scouts!: The Amazing All-True Story of  Juliette 'Daisy' Gordon Low and Her Great AdventureI loved this book.  The pictures are wonderful.  They show Juliette as she grows up and how she was different form most of the girls of the times.  Other pictures show Girl Scouts playing, camping, and having fun.  It shows the true purpose of the scouts, which is not to sell cookies, but to turn out brave, intelligent , socially minded women.  I get a kick out of pictures of the original badges, dairy maid.  I also really enjoyed reading the bio in the back of the book that goes into more detail of Juliette's live.

I highly recommend this book to grownups and kids alike.  If you think Girl Scouts are only about cookies, read the book.

That didn't last long....

Well, that job didn't last long!  No, I wasn't fired.  Let's just wasn't the right place for me and leave it at that!  On with the review.

Fiber & Brimstone
Laura Childs

genre: cozy
series: Scrapbook Mystery
pages: 322, with recipes
favorite quote: "Why is there always a crazy person loose in the French Quarter?"  (seriously!)
rating: ***

OK... I bought this book because I thought it took place during Mardi Gras and I was going to read it during Mardi Gras.  It's not, it takes place at Halloween!  But it is set in New Orleans!  This is the first Scrapbook Mystery I have read, I have read most of the Tea Shop Mysteries, same writer.

Basically, Fiber & Brimstone follows Carmela as she tries to solve the murder of Brett Fowler.  Carmela owns a scrapbook shop.  Her best friend, and sidekick, Ava owns a voodoo shop in the French Quarter.  The two meet interesting characters and explain New Orleans lifestyle and history as they try to solve the murder before they become the next victim.

Fiber & Brimstone (A Scrapbooking Mystery)I liked Fiber & Brimstone, not as much as the Tea Shop Mysteries.  Mainly, I liked it because it is full of interesting characters, including the city of New Orleans.  Trust me it is a character in the book, and in real life.  I live near New Orleans and have been there many times, so reading about the places I have been is a lot of fun.  New Orleans is crazy year round, and it's insane during Mardi Gras, now Halloween is not far behind!  Back to the book.  The story is faced paced and well written.  The plot is good, especially since we have recently had ponzi schemes in the news. 

If you want a fun read centered in a crazy city, give it a read.  My only real problem was the typos.  There were quite a few in the edition I read and it got annoying.

Happy reading

Sunday, February 26, 2012

House of Mouse...

Lots to do in Line
Meredith Lyn Pierce

genre-  nonfiction
pages- 268

I received this book from Good Reads- First reads.  The review is my personal opinion.
Lots To Do In Line Book CoverFirst, I must say I have never been to Disneyland.  I have been to Disney World, like 8 times.  I have used Hidden Mickey books and the like before and they are very helpful.
I liked this book for several reasons.  1- when you are stuck in line with kids you NEED something to do.  I like how this book gives you options of what to do in line.  You can look around the line at the wonderful "set" the Disney imagineers have come up with and answer multiple choice questions.  Another option is a scavenger hunt, and another option is looking for "collections".  All sound like fun.  I have two kids and they love to compete against each other.  Reason 2- I like learning more about Mickey and his world.  Disney World is stuffed full of hidden details, I imagine Disneyland is the same way.
Great Book- I only wish they had one for Disney World.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Attack of the Jersey Devil?

Death in a Difficult Position
Diana Killian

genre- cozy mystery
series- A Mantra for Murder Mystery
pages- 295
rating- ***

I won this book from Goodreads First Reads program.  It was even signed by the writer! The review is my honest personal opinion.

This is my my first yoga mystery.  I don't yoga...I try hard not to break a sweat.  But I do enjoy watching people exert themselves.  It's even better reading about it from my comfy lazy girl chair.

Death in a Difficult Position, is centered around AJ Alexander, owner of Sacred Balance yoga studio.  She dates the handsome police officer and her mother is an actress on a TV show that is a cross between Golden Girls and Murder She Wrote.  AJ finds herself in a difficult position when the local preacher takes aim at the evils of yoga.  It's even more difficult when a former coworker is accused of murdering the preacher.  To add to the mix, the Jersey Devil makes a few appearances.

Death in a Difficult Position (Mantra for Murder Mystery Series #4)I enjoyed the book.  I didn't like the character of the womanizing, preacher.  That stereotype rubs me the wrong way.  I liked the most of the other characters, they were well rounded and interesting.  My favorite was the AJ's mother, Elysia.  Her personality was smart, fun, and intelligent.  I liked her better than the main character.  I enjoy reading books with 'local color'.  Adding the Jersey Devil added plenty of color.  Not so much that it overpowered the book.  The Devil had the good sense to linger in the background. 

There were a few places were the story dragged, in the beginning.  I had difficulty keeping some of the extra characters straight.  The bummer was I didn't like Lily, the accused.  She wasn't very nice and I didn't care if she went to jail for murder or not. 

Over all the story was good.  It was well written and a quick read.  Just right for my first week back at work.


Sunday, February 12, 2012


Sorry for the break.  But I just got a real job.  Now, I work for money instead of books!  I will still do book reviews, but not as many as before.  The job will have to come first.  Those writer's who have sent me books to review, please be patient.  They will be read this summer, when I can devote myself to them in honesty and not rushed.  Trust me, rushed books do not make for good reviews.

Thank you for hanging in there,

Monday, January 30, 2012

Move over Indiana...

The Explorer's Code
Kitty Pilgrim

genre:  suspense, thriller
pages:  358
rating: ****

The Explorer's Code is a suspense/thriller that follows Cordelia Stapelton and archeologist John Sinclair cross the globe in search of a land deed left to Cordelia.  Of course, religious zealots and the Russian mob also want the deed and are willing to kill anyone that steps in their way.

The Explorer's CodeSounds cool huh.  Well, it is.  At first the narative was a little dry and unemotional.  It took a while to get past that.  I also felt lke Sinclair was patronizing, instead of concerned.  These were the only problems I had with the book.

The plot was well written and fast paced.  There was more than one time I wondered how our heros were going to get out of a mess.  Each time the pair found a clue to the location of the deed, the Russians were on their tail.  I didn't know who was a good guy and who was a villian.  Spy's aren't very trustworthy!  The locations were amazing,  London, Monaco, Turkey, and Norway, and the amount of research must have been enormous. I really enjoyed the sections on the Flu Pandemic of 1918 and wish the author had spent more time on that.   It has an element of armchair traveling, I'm sure I will never make it to Ephesus.

The Explorer's Code, has a little of everything: spy's, arctic exploration, desiese, archeology, subnmarines, supermodels, family secrets and tragedy's.  358 pages full of excitment.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Secret Life of Nancy Drew...

Confessions of a Teen Sleuth
Chelsea Cain

genre:  parody, mystery, Nancy Drew
pages: 160
rating: ***1/2

I must confess...I have never read a Nancy Drew book.  Ahhhhhh!  I know I know.  I love mysteries, but I have never read one of her books.  They always seemed old to me. Yet, both of my daughter's love Nancy Drew.  I don't know, I don't get it.  But, when I saw this book at the library, it looked too good to pass up.

'Confessions of a Teen Sleuth'Confessions of a Teen Sleuth, is a parody on the Nancy Drew series.  It is divided into ten chapters, or short stories.  Each with a name reminiscent of a Drew title.  It starts in 1926 and concludes in 1992, that's a lot of time to sleuth.  The basis is that the Nancy Drew books were written by Carolyn Keene, Nancy's college roommate.  Carolyn got most of her facts wrong and that prompted Nancy to write her memoirs, Confessions of a Teen Sleuth.  More than one famous teen detective makes an appearance in this book.

I really enjoyed this book, as far as the plot.  I don't want to give too much away.  There are lots of surprises about Nancy's life.  It's slightly irreverent, which I liked.  The writing is very well done, but it is written like the old Nancy Drew books.  It had an 'old' feel to it.  That I didn't enjoy.  It was a lot of fun reading stories with the Hardy Boys, those were eye opening, Trixie Belden's daughter, and Encyclopedia Brown.  I was a huge Brown fan growing up.  That was the best part.  Reading about series characters, in a different book, like they were real people.

If you want a fun quick read give Confessions of a Teen Sleuth a try.  It's a hoot.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Soon to be Released

Time and Again: Charlotte of Miles Station
Deborah Heal

Genre: Fiction, I think it's YA or Middle reader, Christian
Pages: 252
Rating: ***

I was sent a free copy of this book from the author.  The review is an honest opinion and my personal opinion.

Time and Again: Charlotte of Miles Station, is a story within a story.  At first you have a college student, Abby, going to a rural area in Illinois to tutor an 11 year old girl, Merrideth.  Merrideth is going through a difficult time.  She has recently moved from Chicago and her parents have gotten a divorce.  There's more going on there, but I won;t give it away.  Abby is young, naive, and a bit idealistic.  She tries to get her young charge interested in her studies.   The pair discover a computer program that has the story of there little village and the original owners of their house.  That's 160 years ago! Is it real or is it virtual reality?  Read the book to find out. 

Timeandagain_frontcoverI enjoyed reading Time and Again.  The plot was interesting and the story flowed well.  I liked the characters and how history was brought to life.  I enjoyed the Christian themes that flowed beneath the surface.  You won't be slapped in the face with religion.  I think girls between the ages of 11 and 16 would probably enjoy this book.

 I just didn't like it as much as I wanted too.  I think my problem was I thought the book was a 'grownup' book, it was only labeled as fiction.  The writer may have told me it was something else, but I don't remember.  Anyway, there were a few places where the writing was not as tight as it could have been.  I'm not a professional so, take that with a grain of salt.

Basically, it's a good book.  An interesting concept with a moral and historical lesson to teach.  More appropriate for middle readers and above.  Give it a go, it's a good read.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Guest Post: Thea Atkinson

The bedrock of family and fiction

Thea Atkinson

My Grandmother was a war bride. I never really understood what that meant as a kid. I assumed it meant she'd left her country to marry a man she'd met during the war. And it does. It does mean that. But I've realized over the years that it means so much more.

 I learned during my early school days that the province I call home: Nova Scotia means New Scotland. Because of the heritage of this long strip of land surrounded on three sides by Atlantic ocean, it's named for my grandmother's home. I imagine that despite her love for her new beau, it must have given her some pause, some sense of comfort and security, that she'd be moving to a place that would seem like her own home. The name must have taken some of the fear away.

She'd seen hardship in Glasgow. I know this. I imagine the hardships she faced were even more daunting here if only because the support system we all take for granted was gone. She had no family to run to when she and her new husband fought. She had no mother to coddle her when she nursed her first born and struggled with trying to figure out what it meant to be a mother, how to make formula, change diapers, calm the squalling in the middle of the night. She had no friends to relieve the stressful hours with chitchat over a hot cup of tea.

And she had no one to turn to when she and this new husband realized they'd made a mistake.

I think she went home once, packed up my mother and rode the waves back to Scotland. I wonder what they thought of her back there: was she a failure, were they excited to see her? She had brothers who I don't doubt would have torn my grandfather limb from limb if they'd been able to get hold of him. (what brother wouldn't feel such fierce protectiveness over a hurt sister? See: my blog post about my own brothers)

But she returned to Nova Scotia and she stayed here. My mom tells me stories of her walking home from work in the winter. They had no car and 'work' was 10 kms away, in the town. I think of the 10km drive from my house to my work and it takes 15 minutes. What must it have been like to walk to work everyday, work, and then walk home, hoping for a ride. So you can feed a family, put clothes on your three girls' backs?

I only know that in the story, my grandmother's nylons are torn and holey in places. Her shoes are soaked. She's wet and cold from the snow. I take snow in the winter for granted. I just assume the snowfall is going to be a foot high with temperatures below freezing and a wind chill that gains fierceness from the Atlantic air. In Scotland, the average precipitation is 9cm in January. The average low temperature is 1degree.

In the story, my grandmother doesn't complain. Just hangs her threadbare coat behind the stove and asks for a good hot cup of tea.

That hardy Scots will, I suppose, as hard as the brogue that never left her despite living in an area where English and Acadian French mix to form an odd sort of accent that most folks in my area call Fringlish. How she must have stood out in that.

What kept her here, I don't know, but I imagine it had to do with family. Her new family. Those three girls married and had kids of their own. Her grandchildren--my brother and I especially--practically lived there. We ate pizza late at night in her bed and watched The Rockford Files. She made me Koolaid and told me tales of Nessie and Robbie Burns.

Is it any wonder I've remained fascinated with Scotland?

 Although  Throwing Clay Shadows is not about my grandmother, it's set on the Isle of Eigg, Scotland, during the 1800s, where my genealogical line travels. I've always wanted to visit, and some day I might, but I do know I go there often in my thoughts and dreams.

There's some slight paranormal within, but not enough to call this a paranormal novel.

Thea Atkinson is a writer of character driven fiction; call it what you will: she prefers to describe her work as psychological thrillers with a distinct literary flavour. As in her bestselling novel, Anomaly, her characters often find themselves in the darker edges of their own spirits but manage to find the light they seek.

She has been an editor, a freelancer, and a teacher, but fiction is her passion. She now blogs and writes and twitters. Not necessarily in that order.

Please visit her blog for ramblings, guest posts, giveaways, and more

or follow her on twitter!/theaatkinson

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Positive Thinking...

Ann's Amazing Adventure
by Jeanetta Brancaccio
Illustrated by Sara Petrous
Edited by Anne Christiano

genre: Picture book
pages: 52
ages: 8-12
rating: ***1/2

I received this book from the author.  This is an honest review with my personal opinion of the book.

First off I have recently received several self published books and have been impressed by their quality.  Kudos to those that self publish.  Secondly, I get a kick out of the nice bookmarks that go with the books.  This one came with a silly band attached to the bookmark.  My kids ran off with that as soon as they saw it!

Book Cover - Ann's Amazing Adventure
Ann's Amazing Adventure, is a story about a doll named Ann who is loved by a little girl.  On a trip Ann falls out of the car and gets left behind.  She is quickly found by a dog and another little girl.  Ann learns how to adapt to the differences of her previous life and her new life.  She wants more than anything to return to her her first little girl.  Amazing things happen at the end...

This is a sweet little story.  The pictures remind me of paper dolls.  I liked the story.  It has a very positive message.  Always have hope and stay positive.  Ann has to adapt to the loss of her little girl and then finding a new little girl, but her life is different than what she had.  Change is constant and Ann shows a positive image of dealing with change.

I did find the story a little long and simplistic.  That said my girls, age 7 and 9, loved the book and have read it several times.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Move over Sherlock...

Dangerous to Know
Tasha Alexander

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Pages: 306
Series: Lady Emily Series #5
Favorite Quote: "I wanted to cheer when she thoroughly schooled that man."
Rating: *****

Have you ever read a book where you loved the characters and the writing so much you wanted to live there?  I must admit I love this series.  It's only one of two book series I have read almost every book.  I haven't read the first one yet, and there's another one coming out this year.  If your read this Mrs. Alexander I would love an advanced copy.  OK let's get started.

DTKpbcover1Dangerous to Know, has Lady Emily and Colin resting in Normandy, at his mother's house, after their dangerous honeymoon in Turkey.  Of course, the pair can not stay out of trouble.  Emily finds the mutilated body of a young woman.  It appears to be similar to Jack the Ripper.  Emily is under stress and has a disapproving mother-in-law, as well as being told to limit her help in the investigation.  Danger and ghosts abound as they travel Normandy in search of a killer.

There's so much that goes on in this book it's amazing.  As usual the writing is witty and the characters are vivid.  I don't know who I love more the terribly charming thief Sebastian or the loyal and brilliant Colin.  Do I have to choose?  The love of Emily and Colin set the page on fire without being explicit.  Emily is smart and joy to read.

If you want to read a book that doesn't insult your intelligence and has a smart leading lady, give this one a try.  I highly recommend it.


Monday, January 9, 2012

A Dog Tale...or Tail.....

Ok I have quite a few book review coming up.  It's amazing how people send you a book if you are willing to give an honest review.  I'm shocked.  I love to read.  It's just so much fun.  Today's book is one of those books.

By Craig Inglis
Illustrated by Richard Kinsey

Genre: Children's Picture Book
Pages: 36
Rating:  ****
I was provided a copy of Lucky by the writer.  This review is an honest review consisting of my opinion of the book.

Hot off the presses!  I don't think I've ever read a book this new.
First let me get his out of the way.  Why are all 3 legged dogs named Lucky?  Okay, I just needed to say that.

Lucky is the tale of a man who wants a dog.  After searching he finds a cute little terrier he names 'Lucky'.  The man teaches Lucky tricks and they have lots of fun.  Until Lucky is hit by a car.  The accident causes Lucky to lose a leg. The man loves Lucky and ....

I don't want to spoil the ending for you, but I will tell you there is a happy ending!  I pulled this book out of the mailbox this afternoon and promptly sat down on the sofa with the kids to read it.  They are 7 and 9.  Both enjoyed the story and laughed at the pictures.  Lucky is a cute little dog and the drawings give him a fun personality.  The story is about overcoming adversity, especially a disability.  A great message for kids who are learning to deal with difficult situations.  The illustrations are funny with little details added.  For instance the doggy doctor has the title of 'Cool dog doc' on his scrubs. 

I enjoyed the book.  It was a simple and sweet.  The kids laughed as we read it, bonus points for that.

Happy Reading

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Christmas Again...

Kissing Christmas Goodbye
M.C. Beaton

Genre: Cozy mystery, British
Series:  Agatha Raisin
Pages: 234
Rating: ****

I promise this is the last Christmas book... for a while anyway.  It was sitting on my TBR pile and I had to read it.  Being an Agatha Raisin mystery it's not very Christmasy.

Cover of Agatha Raisin and Kissing Christmas Goodbye by M.C. BeatonKissing Christmas Goodbye, finds Agatha searching for another murderer.  This time she recruits a new, young detective named Toni to join her team.  Agatha receives a letter from an elderly lady that claims one of her children is trying to kill her.  Agatha is invited to a dinner party to meet the suspects when the unthinkable happens.  The old lady is killed.  Agatha and her team must find the killer, before Agatha is killed too.  All of this happens while she is planning the perfect Christmas dinner, again.

You have to love Agatha Raisin.  She's middle aged, chain smoking,  and cranky.  I won't tell you her favorite curse, but it's a hoot.  She's still chasing her ex husband and now she's jealous of the youth of Toni.  Agatha is flawed and perfect.  The great hing about these books is they actually seam real.  They are solved over months instead of a mere days.  It's a fun read.  Oh!  who knew you could own a village!  Can I have one.

Love it you gotta read it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Fish Tale....

Coral Reefs
Jason Chin

Genre: Children's Picture Book
Pages: 40
Age: 5 and up
Rating: *****

I'm a sucker for a good picture book.  I try to pass it off on my kids.  I walk into the children's library, during the school day so I can actually look, and tell the librarian I 'm looking for something for my kids.  They know my girls so I  pretend that I could actually pick something out they would read.  The reality is they only read books they pick out, and I'm looking for a book for myself.  It could be worse. 
I am particularly attracted to picture books that are centered on the ocean or beach.  We live with in a few hours of an amazing beach, so I love the beach.  Therefore I enjoy books about the ocean.  That's what attracted me to Coral Reefs.  Actually, Coral Reefs, combines two of my favorite things.

Coral Reefs is a picture book about coral reefs.  It starts with a little girl looking through the book Coral Reefs in her library.  As she reads about reefs, and the animals that live there, a reef begins to form around her.  The book talks about the how reefs are formed and the animals that live there.  It mentions  life cycles and food webs, and in the back talks about how we can help save the reefs from pollution.

Coral ReefsCoral Reefs, is educational and beautiful.  The writing is crisp and to the point.  It delivers a eco-friendly message that is fact based.  The art work is breathtakingly beautiful.  Once the story is read, hours can be spent looking at the pictures and discovering new fish that were not seen the first time around.  The inside covers are covered with animal drawings and labeled.  So, if like me you find a fish you like, you can look on the inside cover to find what it is.  I don't know if all the fish are listed but a good many are. 

Bottom line:  It's a beautiful book to read and share with a child....or a grownup.