Thursday, September 30, 2010

Comes a Time for Burning by Steven Havill

Young doctor Thomas Parks is happy to be acquiring a partner in his office.  Between logger accidents and other small emergencies, he's quite busy.  But he never expected encounter a city-wide emergency in the next few days...

This book is from Poisoned Pen Press, who has lots of wonderful mysteries for you to peruse.  I've found several that I've enjoyed reading.  You can find this mystery in your local bookstore, it's already been published.

As I started reading this book, I recognized the character.  The story is set in a small coastal village in northern Washington state in 1892.  I lived in Washington for years, and the logging information supplied in this book is accurate.  So are the living conditions in late 1800's.  Mr. Havill did a nice job with his research on this book. 

He has also created a very strong, humble, honest character (Dr. Thomas) that I really enjoy following.  It's been quite a while since I read the first book in this series, Race for the Dying, but this character was like visiting with an old friend again.

While this is not a murder mystery, it is a mystery why this small village is suddenly fighting cholera.  With no real way to fight it, no real knowledge in what to fight it with, and the nearest city with any help miles away, it's fight against death.

Mr. Havill's murder mysteries are good, but I have to say he excels in this historical series with Dr. Thomas.  I'm hoping we can look forward to more in this series.  They're an excellent read and I highly recommend the books.  Check with your local bookstore and get yourself some good reading! 

The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

Now here's a tale of Cinderella that I KNOW you haven't heard before!

The subtitle of this book is:  Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms.  Harlequin has published this book under the Luna imprint and it is currently available for sale in your local bookstore.

I always enjoy any book that Mercedes Lackey has a hand in writing.  She uses humor, silliness, and a fantastic imagination to weave a wonderful story that always draws me in and leaves me sighing happily at the end - wishing there was more...

Elena had the wicked stepmother and the normal useless stepsisters, but she wasn't destined to put on a glass slipper and find herself a prince to marry.  Nope, not her.

When her family leaves her home alone, her only thought is to find a way to escape the life she has been living and become a servant in someone else's house.  When the debtors strip the house of anything the stepmother left behind, she can't live there with no income.  So she goes to the fair hoping to be chosen as a general servant.  Lord knows she has lots of servant skills developed from serving the family.  Unfortunately, everyone else knows what kind of woman her stepmother is and won't choose her.  Just when she's so discouraged she's about to give up, this strange little lady in eye-catching clothing comes up in a strange carriage pulled by an even stranger horse and asks her if she'd like to serve her.  Anything is better than having to live with her stepmother again, so she says yes.  But she didn't realize she was being recruited to be the new Fairy Godmother!

You follow along with her as she does her lessons, and learns about brownies, fae folk, and other creatures of the woods.  Her first "job" as a Fairy Godmother is not easy either and presents a new problem.  What shall she do with this arrogant, ignorant prince who is now a donkey and lives on her farm?  Traditional fairy tales have an idea, but she refuses to follow that tradition because it doesn't have a happy ending.  Can a new Fairy Godmother create a new fairy tale? 

There's quick wit, pratfalls, good bantering between the cottage members, and the story is fairy tale like, but a nice change from the same old tale of Cinderella.

I really liked this one and I'm sure there will be more books coming in this series.  After all, it is five hundred kingdoms - this was only one.  If you like fantasy or fairy tales, visit your local bookstore and grab a copy of this one.  It's a great read!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Humpty Dumpty and Friends by Oleg Lipchenko

I have fond memories of the nursery rhymes I read as a child.  They were fun to read and entertaining.  The subtitle of this book is:  Nursery Rhymes for the Young at Heart.  That's me!

Tundra Books has published another very nice quality children's picture book and shared a copy with me for review.  Oleg Lipchenko is a member of the Ukrainian Union of Artists.  He now lives in Toronto and is a gallery painter.  I previously reviewed his illustrated Alice in Wonderland edition (also available from Tundra Books) and I enjoyed his artwork in that book.  This book is no exception.  His style is all his own.

I really enjoy the rhymes he chose for this book.  Some were very familiar to me, some I'd never read before.  His illustrations look old fashioned and that's just the mood you want to set to appreciate the age and words of the rhymes.

Here's a sample rhyme: 

Three wise men of Gotham
Went to sea in a bowl;
If the bowl would have been stronger
My song had been longer.

I have also noticed that Mr. Lipchenko is on Facebook.  He and I are friends now and I will be able to keep up with his book and art news.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes rhymes.  Whether you are young or old, this book will appeal to you.  Check out your local bookstore for your very own copy.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins and Other Nasties by Lesley M M Blume

Personally, I don't think fairies are nasty.  There are good and bad in every race, of course.  Even in a fantasy tale...

Subtitle:  A Practical Guide by Miss Edythe McFate.  This book was provided to me by Alfred A Knopf Books for Young Readers (thank you) and is currently available in your local bookstore.  It's written for ages 8-12.

This is a slight modernization of the typical fairy tales about fantasy creatures so you can easily imagine them in your current life.  David Foote's illustrations  are something the young ones will enjoy.  They are a bit avant garde and great fun.

The author defines each type of creature in detail, giving you hints on how to tell good from bad and giving you ideas for gifts for them.  Coupled with the illustrations, it's a rich text that makes you feel like you should be watching out of the corner of your eye for one of these flitting characters.

My favorite part of the book are the eight cautionary tales about children who have encountered fairies in New York.  These are not your ordinary fairies - and the humans don't always come out well.

If your child likes fantasy and the strange creatures of the forest, they'll enjoy this book.  The fairies are now portrayed as living in the city.  Let them read the book and then have them write a story about the fairies that might be living in your apartment or home.  And you might have fun reading this book - I sure did!  Check it out at your local bookstore.

Double Prey by Steven Havill

A teenager is attempting to kill a rattlesnake with a weed eater and gets a fang in his eye! 

This is a Poisoned Pen Press book that is available in hardcover, trade paperback, and large print.  I got my copy from Net Galley for review.  This is a popular series, but the first one I've read by Mr. Havill.

He does a good job of grabbing your attention right at the get-go, and you know the story isn't going to be boring when you start "riding" along with Estelle Guzman, Undersheriff of Posada County.

I particularly liked this book because it's based in New Mexico.  The county, town, and businesses are all fake places, but the terrain doesn't change.  And the death Estelle finds next takes place in an arroyo.  His descriptions of travelling across the desert are accurate and his characters are typical cowboy ranchers.

The fatal accident turns into homicide, and the hunt for the truth takes them back five years in time - with no real proof of what happened.

It's a reasonable plot and you can learn something about desert life if you read this book.  It's available now at your local bookstore.  Check Mr. Havill and this series out.  It's a good read.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Amethyst Bound by L Shannon

She's a master thief.  See, she has this special skill:  She can blend into her background and guards don't see her...  But this is the job of a lifetime and full of surprises.

Carina Press is publishing this book in a MobiPocket reader or in an Adobe Reader ebook.  The story is currently available online for download.  I got my copy from Net Galley to review.

This is an exciting tale.  I have to admit that I love dragons, but even if there wasn't a dragon theme here the story is fast paced, full of lots of bad guys, and life changing for the characters.  You will not be bored reading this fantasy story.

Her job is to steal a small box with valuable jewels inside.  She manages to accomplish this, but is drawn to put on the amethyst pendant.  This is not a good thing - it magically welds itself to her skin!

In desperation, she approaches the archaeologist she has been watching (and lusting over) and asks for his help in removing it.  Unfortunately, not long after that the demons arrive.

The author has demons, dragons, werewolves interwoven in the story.  Toni and Ben have a steamy relationship - for more than one reason.  And there are more jewels out in the world representing imprisoned dragons.  The only hang up is that their goal is to destroy the world as we know it when they get freed again.  The last line in the book is "The End...or is it just the beginning?  There will be more, I'm sure!

I enjoyed the varied characters and the action.  The sex is x-rated, but not overwhelming.  I find the story line intriguing and would gladly read the next one is this series to see what new challenges the author throws Toni and Ben.  If you like fantasy with romance, this story is for you.

Advent of a Mystery by Marilyn Leach

Why would anyone want to kill Miss Livingstone?  OK, she had a sharp tongue and was opinionated, but that's not a good reason.  There must be something more...

Barbour Publishing released this book the first of this month and I got my review copy ebook from Net Galley.  It is a trade paperback and available now at your local bookstore.

Berdie Elliott's husband is the new parish priest in town, and Berdie has promised to stop investigating crimes.  She used to be an investigative reporter, but that's in her past.  Or at least Hugh thinks so.

This book is set in a small English village and reminds me a bit of Agatha Christie's mysteries. 

When a young man Berdie likes is accused of the murder, she finds it hard to sit back and let the law investigate.  And when the law doesn't appear to be interested in looking anymore after they've settled on Jamie, she can't stand it.

She and her girlfriend begin a bit of undercover sleuthing, and Hugh keeps admonishing her.  But as it becomes more apparent all the time that Miss Livingstone was hiding a secret, even Hugh asks her to help solve the crime.  There is lots of local color, the village history gives her some clues, and she finds that not everyone was what they seemed.

It's a good plot, the story flows well, and it would make an excellent read in front of the fire with your feet up.  (It has a Christmas theme, and you wouldn't want to get cold...)

This another cozy mystery, and I enjoyed reading it.  Check it out at your local bookstore and get yourself a copy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Calvin Coconut #4: Zoo Breath by Graham Salisbury

What could be stinkier than dog breath?  Calvin is going to find out...

Wendy Lamb Books sent me this hardcover book for children ages 7-10 to review.  It was the first time I met Calvin Coconut, but it's not the first time I've read Graham Salisbury's tales.  I knew this story should be enjoyable, and it was.  Jacqueline Rogers does a very nice job of illustrating Calvin, his friends, his dog and the Hawaiian landscape.

If you've ever had the honor of being kissed by a dog, you know their breath is not the nicest thing about them.  They also have a bad habit of rolling on dead things to make their fur smell better, too.  So Calvin has a problem.  He's afraid his Mom might make him give the dog back to the shelter.

All of a sudden, when he gets an assignment in class for a discovery project, Calvin thinks he has the answer to how to show his Mom there are worse smells...

This book is a fun romp for younger readers.  It has bad jokes, bad smells, projects going awry, and lots of fun in between.  How can you not like Calvin?  He's just a typical little boy and he loves his new dog.  

Why not pick up a copy of this cute book and see for yourself just how much trouble Calvin can get in.  It's available at your local bookstore.  You might want to look at the first three in this series, too.  After all, Calvin doesn't get in trouble just once... 

All Aboard! Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine by Monica Kulling

A young black boy is handy with tools and dreams of being an engineer so he can work on steam trains. In 1860, that was a big dream...

Tundra Books provided me with this children's picture book for review. It's part of the Great Idea Series. Bill Slavin has illustrated the story.

Elijah's family escaped to Canada to avoid slavery, and Elijah had a knack for repairing the farm tools. His family saved their money and sent him to Scotland to train as an engineer.

When he returned, he asked for a job on the steam train. They gave him one: "I got ashcat work if you wannit it. Ain't hard. You bail it in. You grease the pig." After Elijah said, "Excuse me?", the boss told him that meant shovelling coal into the firebox and oiling the wheels and bearings. Since it was all he could get, he took the job.

But Elijah worried about the "grease monkey" who got into the places that needed oil where Elijah didn't fit. Sometimes they got hurt. So when he got home in the evenings, he started engineering a new oiler that would work automatically...

Mr. Slavin's illustrations are full of the colors and sounds (use your imagination) of the era.  Ms. Kulling has done a very nice job of telling the history tale and including some vernacular of the time. This is written for ages 5-8. I'd recommend this book as a very good way to introduce your child to history and show how much fun it can be read about people in our past. The book is now available at your local bookstore. Go take a look at it, you'll like it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Roland Wright: Brand-New Page by Tony Davis


Roland is the smallest, skinniest page you've ever seen. And his pet is a mouse, which is banned from the castle grounds. He's determined, though. He's going to be the best page ever!

Delacorte Press has published this very cute beginning reader series and sent me a copy for review (thank you). Gregory Rogers' illustrations really add to the story and will make your child smile. This is the second book in the series, the first was Roland Wright #1: Future Knight.

I always root for the underdog, so how could I not root for Roland? He's small, easy to ignore, and trying hard to stay out of trouble. It doesn't take long, though, and he's getting blamed for a lot of wrong doing - all because he got on the wrong side of Hector, a bigger and older page.

Roland has courage, though, so when he's presented with his biggest challenge and a chance to prove his innocence, he steps up and handles it while the others run.

This is an excellent book for boys who may be reluctant readers. There's action, illustrations, and I'm sure they'll empathize with poor Roland. The book is available for sale now, so check out your local bookstore. You might want to get copies of both books for your child. And there will be another one in the series to watch for. It's a good, easy read for those just beginning to read chapter books.

Lulu's Piano Lesson by Arlene Alda


Every time Lulu is supposed to practice on the piano, she says she'll get to it in just a bit. But she never does. What's her music teacher going to say?

Tundra Books sent me a copy of this children's picture book for review (thank you). The illustrations are done by Ms. Desimini using cut-paper collage and digital illustrations and have the look of 3-D, a very nice job.

Lulu is a typical child. Whatever she is doing at the time is more important than doing her piano lessons. But she finds she has learned more from her teacher than she realizes. Not only does the piano make music, so does the world around her. Her teacher is pleased with what she has learned.

This book can introduce the idea to your budding musician that natural sounds (like nature)can be musical, too. It's written for ages 4-7. Share the magic of music with your child.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Kiss Me, Kill Me by Maggie Shayne


Someone is after her son. She's been protecting him all her life and she's not going to stop now.

Harlequin has published this book in paperback. I downloaded my review copy from Net Galley (thank you) and was pleasantly surprised by just how good a read this was. I hadn't read Maggie Shane's books before because she was doing a vampire series, and I'm not into vampires (despite the latest craze for them).

A new doctor is traveling to her new job when she finds a pregnant woman ready to deliver. She helps her deliver the baby, then goes to find a phone to call for help. She can't find a phone but when she returns, the lady is gone. However, her jacket has the baby cuddled in it!

Carrie adopts the baby but lives in fear that someone will take him away from her.

Ms. Shayne's characters are strong and vibrant. The plot is interesting. It's a bit far fetched, but this is fiction and it makes a good story.

The author gives you three new people in town that could all potentially mean trouble for Carrie and Sam. I didn't see the ending coming - it has suspense all the way through the book.

This is a good thriller/romance tale and well worth a read. Get yourself a copy and see what you think - I think you'll like it.

Dead Man's Chest by Kerry Greenwood


When you go on vacation to a rented house with a staff, you sure don't expect to find the house vacant and the back door standing open!

I downloaded this book from Net Galley, it's published by Poisoned Pen Press. Poisoned Pen is quickly becoming one of my favorite presses. They offer a nice variety of mystery stories, and they are what I would call "cozy" mysteries.

Phryne Fisher is just looking for some rest, not another mystery to solve. But when they arrive at their vacation location and the married staff is missing and the kitchen has been raided, it sure doesn't like anyone is going to get any rest.

Ms. Greenwood gives you smugglers, surrealists, and the usual local odd characters you find in any small town to flesh out her story. There's plenty of action and adventure, more than one crime has been committed, and it's a good read. The characters are fun and have the little quirks that we all have. I'll be looking for more books in this series.

The book is available in hardcover, trade paperback,and large print. It's in your bookstores now, so why not buy a copy, settle back in a comfortable chair and read a good cozy mystery? I'm already looking forward to Phryne's next adventure...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Dark Deeps: The Hunchback Assignments Book Two by Arthur Slade


This book has a bit of everything: a shape-shifting spy agent, a submarine and a secret city under the sea, not to mention an invisible boy.

Wendy Lamb Books has just released this book for sale, and sent me a copy for review (thank you). This was my first steampunk read, and I found it fascinating. Mr. Slade has an imagination like Jules Verne.

The story takes you, the reader, through London, New York, Iceland and down into the deep sea. Modo (the hunchback)is finding himself attracted to his fellow female spies and is conflicted because he knows what his original form is like. No one will love him when he's as ugly as he is. So Modo's interest in love is bittersweet.

The tale travels swiftly through the book, with a variety of very strong characters, lots of action, and plenty of suspense. The Clockwork Guild is still around. Mr. Socrates and his spy team are being attacked on more than one front. It will take all of Modo's skills to stay alive.

Both boys and girls will enjoy this story. The young women characters are no wallflowers - they are strong, determined, and willing to take as many chances as Modo is.

I highly recommend this series. It's an action packed full-bodied read that will fascinate anyone who picks it up. Check out your local bookstore and pick up a copy. Grab the first book, too. I know you'll enjoy this series.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mob Rules by Cameron Haley


Magic, mayhem, a sorcerer, a jinn, faeries, a piskie, and death. Dominica didn't like combination, but what's a chief trouble shooter to do do but deal with it?

I first met Dominica in the book Harvest Moon, a collection of short stories put together by Harlequin under their Luna imprint. Her story was my favorite in that collection, so I was happy to find this book available on Net Galley for review.

Harlequin/Luna has already published this book in trade paperback,so you can pick up your own copy right away.

Ms. Haley's characters are tough. Dominica has magic powers, barters for the other skills she needs and will fight to the death to protect her boss and do her job. She has the ability to walk between worlds and she's smart. But is she smart enough? The boss' son is showing a romantic interest in her, the faeries are trying to break through into her world, and there's a major conflict coming up.

I find the magic in these stories is almost believable (keep in mind I like fantasies) and the plot is well thought out and pretty complex. It'll keep you reading - I finished it in one night!

I'll be watching for the next book in this series. This story is too good to just stop here. Check out your local bookstore and pick up a copy for yourself. If you like action/fantasy/romance, this one will please you. I highly recommend it!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Ruby Notebook by Laura Resau


Does she really love Wendell, or was that just the magic of Ecuador?

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers sent me a copy of this book for review. This book will be on sale this week at your local bookstore. Ms. Resau has an earlier book in this series, The Indigo Notebook.

Zeeta and her mother have been travellers all Zeeta's life. Her mother is a free-thinker and a bit of a butterly by nature. Zeeta wants to know about her father, but her mother has nothing to offer her. He was just part of a magical moment on a moonlit night by the sea.

Zeeta's other challenge is that she hates waiting for Wendell to join them in France for the summer. She gets caught up with a group of street performers, begins to get letters from her mysterious father, and finds herself interested in Jean-Claude. Is Wendell the one for her or ???

With a touch of mystery and magic and a mix of young love, this book catches your attention and the story flows well.

With the way the story ends, I believe there be another book coming out in the future. I'll watch for it. I want to see what happens next in Zeeta's life.

It's for ages 10 and up, but it's a good adult read, too. Get yourself a copy and check it out for yourself.

A Night on the Town by Caroline Merola


If a monster knocked on your window, would you go play with it?

Tundra Books is one of my favorite publishers. They publish beautiful books with story lines that will make children smile. They provided me with this hardcover children's picture to review. The story was originally published in France as "Une nuit en ville" by Editions Les 400 coups, 2007. The Tundra edition is currently available at your local bookstore.

The blue striped monster is named Pickles McPhee, and she has hidden in the trunk of a car so she can go on an adventure.

Martha is sitting by the window trying to stay awake so she can see the tooth fairy. But she never expected the tooth fairy to be so big, have horns, and blue stripes!

Pickles asks her if she can show her how to find an adventure. And, Martha sure did. She takes her to the park, where everything looks different at night. (Things do look different in the dark, you know.) Everything is going real well until Pickles gets a little rambunctious...

The illustrations are big and bright, the monsters are lovable, and Martha learns a lesson about adventuring by herself. This is a tale that would really have appealed to me as a child. Why don't you get a copy and share it with your child and let their imagine roam, too?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Duck and Goose: It's Time for Christmas by Tad Hills


This board book series is the nicest I've seen in a long time. The cover has some sparkles on it to draw the child's eye. And the characters are the cutest than can be!

Schwartz and Wade is publishing this children's board book in just a few days (thanks for the review copy). It is written for ages 0-4.

The illustrations are sure to charm the little ones. They're wearing bright hats and scarves, and are traveling through the snow to a certain destination. All Goose wants to do is play: sledding, snow angels, and snowballs. Duck keeps telling him no, it's not time for that. On the last page Duck reveals what it IS time for!

It is a short and sweet story with fun illustrations and bright colors that will make any young child in your life smile.

I highly recommend this series for young ones.

The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths


Someone is trying very hard to scare her to death... And they're doing a good job at it, too!

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publishing this story in hardcover next January, 2011. I downloaded a copy from Net Galley for review. This is another in the Ruth Galloway mystery series, and was new to me. I like to check out new authors and see how they "taste" to me. This author's style pleased me and I'll watch for more of her work.

Ruth is called into the case when the body of young child is found in the doorway of house that is being demolished for reconstruction. She is a forensic archaeologist and can date bones. This body appears to be murdered since the head is missing. But it could have been a very old murder because there are Roman ruins about. However, there had been a children's school on the site last and that's another possibility.

The case brings Ruth back into contact with Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson. They had worked on a previous case and were friends. They also were both so stressed about the case that upon conclusion of the case, they spent one night together. Now poor unmarried Ruth realizes that one night was all it took...

Ms. Griffiths paints portraits of her characters: Strong areas, weak areas, explains their belief systems and throws a bit of Celtic legend in, too. The story flows well and you really have no idea how the child got buried there until the very end.

The plot teases you with suspects. And thrown in the middle of this is Ruth trying to decide how to tell Nelson she's pregnant. She doesn't want to marry him, but he is the child's father. Then someone begins trying to scare Ruth off...

Ms. Griffiths characters are richly described and the story line is open enough I expect there will be more in this series. I enjoyed this read and look forward to seeing another story where I can follow up on the characters.

Add this to you TBR list, and look for it at the end of January. It will be worth your time to read it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Till Death Do Us Bark by Kate Klise


A secret, a scavenger hunt, and a dog that always barks causes problems at home. Poor Seymour, what's the boy to do?

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will be publishing this book in May, 2011 as a hardcover. Net Galley is where I acquired the ebook I reviewed. This is the third book in the 43 Old Cemetery Road series. M. Sarah Klise illustrates this interesting series.

I found myself intrigued by the idea that everyone communicates with letters. As is pointed out in the story, letter writing is a lost skill nowadays. Not many folks communicate by snail mail. Each writer has a different font, some have business letterheads, and they are all fun to read.

It starts with Seymour bringing a dog home. The dog barks all the time, and his ghost adoptive "Aunt" and her cat don't take to the noise. In addition, his "Uncle" (who is alive)tells him if the dog's owner wants the dog back, he has to give it up. When he finds out the dog owner has died he hopes to keep him, but then he finds out there are two children who will inherit. So he runs away...

In a strange twist to the tale, the two children (now adult) each try to claim the fortune left individually - but the fortune isn't there anymore. They get limericks to figure out to try to find their inheritance...

Everyone's name is a joke, such as Sheriff Mike Ondolences (my condolences) and the attorney, Rita O'Bitt (read an obit). The characters are way out and silly, but young readers will eat this book up because it's fun!

While it won't be published until next May, you can buy the previous two volumes in the series and get primed for the third story. Check with your local bookstore for copies. And make a note to grab this one when it comes out, it's a great read.

Calico Dorsey by Susan Lendroth


Can you imagine a dog carrying mail back and forth between towns? This one did!

Tricycle Press picks up the most interesting books/authors for children's picture books. This book will be coming out for sale at the end of this month, and I appreciate the opportunity to review it. Adam Gustavson illustrated the book. The book's subtitle is: Mail Dog of the Mining Camps. It's for ages 4 to 8.

Ms. Lendroth lives in Sierra Madre, California, not far from the mining town of Calico. That's what gave her idea for this book.

In 1885, Calico was a silver mining camp and bustling with activity. Two brothers lived there, along with a Border collie named Dorsey. Everett ran the post office in Calico, so his brother, Alwin decided to open a general store nearer the miners. It was a mile and half from Calico.

This is a true story, there is a photo of Dorsey at the back of the book.

As Dorsey ran back and forth visiting his friends in both locations, they suddenly came up with the idea of training the dog to carry the mail. The illustrations show the various challenges Dorsey faces on the trail (there are more interesting things than mail, you know), but the smiles on the miner's faces at the other end (and the biscuits) make Dorsey very happy.

This a delightful read and would work very well for reading aloud in a group. Share some local history with your child. If you live close enough, you can still visit Calico and see where the mining camp existed and check out a bit of history.

Visit your local bookstore and take a look at it - I bet you end up taking the book home with you!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Postcard Killers by James Patterson & Liza Marklund


Jacob Kanon is in Paris, but not on vacation. He's looking for his daughter's killers...

Little, Brown and Company published this book in August and I read an ebook version from Net Galley for this review.

I've always admired James Patterson writing style. He writes short chapters (easy to pick up and put down), uses hard hitting words, and can imagine a man or woman so evil that you want to tell yourself there can't be people in the world like that, but you know better. As he grows older and has been working in conjunction with other authors, his style and tone gets merged into theirs here and there. That's not a bad thing, it's just something different. But this story just did not draw me in as well as previous books have.

Jacob is obsessed with finding who killed his daughter and her fiance in Rome. He's a NYPD officer, but he refuses to go home until he has avenged his daughter's death. The murderer's send postcards indicating where the murders have been committed. They seem to be targeting newly weds for the most part. And the murder scenes are providing no clues.

Jacob is stymied because he has no power "across the pond." Most of the local police want nothing to do with him - they have their own ways of investigating and don't need the help of an American police officer who can't speak their language.

Jacob asks the journalist who received the last postcard (the murders have not occurred yet) to work with him. She does hesitantly, wanting to help but not wanting to destroy her potential career.

The killers are devious and not everything is as it seems.

The premise is interesting and believable and the characters the authors created are human in all ways. Right or wrong, they keep trying to catch the killers who like to taunt the press and police. There are sexually graphic scenes in the book. The ending is exciting and could go either way.

This is a good read, but not quite the "full meal deal" you get from Patterson usually. It's well thought out and the story is fleshed out, but it didn't grab me. However, that doesn't mean you won't enjoy it! I did enjoy reading it. I think the plot didn't appeal to me as much as some.

Why don't you read it and let me know what you think? Check with your local bookstore for a copy. Was it just my reading taste talking back?

Disappearing Desmond by Anna Alter


Do you have a wallflower in your family? (I was a shy child for a long time.) Desmond likes to disappear.

Alfred A Knopf Books sent me a copy of this children's picture book for review. It's for ages 5-8 and is currently available at your local bookstore.

Desmond is a cat, and young readers will have a good time finding him in the illustrations as he hides. The illustrations are simple and colorful and lend a charm to the story line.

Invisible Desmond develops a problem, though. He might be able to hide from the class and his teacher, but the new bunny who has joined the class, Gloria, can see him! She's super outgoing and has an exuberant personality - and always says, "Hi, Desmond." What's he to do now???

Set your little one on your lap and share this picture book with them. They'll want to look the pages over again and again, finding Desmond. And they'll smile as Gloria finds him, too.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Storyteller by Patricia Reilly Giff


Elizabeth does NOT want to go stay with her Aunt Libby. She barely knows her, her aunt never knows what to do with her, and she'd just rather stay home. However, her father has a business trip planned and she will just have to adjust.

Wendy Lamb Books graciously sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you) and I've grown so attached to it that I think it has join my private library.

Ms. Giff offers two stories in this book; one in the present day and one during the days of the Revolutionary War. Elizabeth is the modern girl and Zee (who looks like Elizabeth)is the pioneer version. The chapters alternate between the girls, and the author does an excellent job of making the change easy to follow and the reader anxious to see what's next. This could have been a bit awkward, but Ms. Giff does an excellent job.

Elizabeth and her aunt go looking for more information on the history of the girl in the picture and find bits and pieces as you read about Zee's life and hardships from Zee's point of view. I found this a delightful combination.

This book will be going on sale on September 14th, so add it to your TBR list and get you a copy. I highly recommend this book. It's for ages 8-14 or for anyone that appreciates good writing from a unique point of view.

Fear No Evil by Robin Caroll


Carlos would do anything to keep his little stepsister safe from her father. His mother let the stepfather beat on her, but Carlos wouldn't let that happen to his little princess. Then one evening, all hell breaks out...

Ms. Caroll did some extensive research before writing this book. She takes us into the world of gangs, domestic violence, Alzheimer patient's anger, and the psychological effects of violence on children. This is a Christian-themed story, but the biblical sayings don't take away from the value or action of the story.

Gangs often fill the void in a young person's life when families separate, aren't home enough or are substance abusers themselves. Being in a gang can offer safety, security, and definite guidelines on how you act. Those who are alone and feeling unloved can become an important part of a gang and achieve a feeling of family. However, there is no way out later.

Lincoln has moved from the Great Smoky Mountains to a small town in Louisiana to help his mother deal with his father, who has Alzheimer's disease. He's now a police officer, and his job should be easy in this small town. So why are folks being shot on the street?

When he meets Jade at a safe house where she is defending a victim of domestic violence, he thinks she's pretty and he likes her. But he has no idea of her past and the danger it represents. Of course, Jade doesn't either.

This story is very busy, has several plots intertwined, and is a very good read.

B & H Publishing Group and Net Galley gave me the opportunity to an eBook copy for review (thank you). The book is currently available as a trade paperback and available at your local bookstore. I enjoyed this read, why don't you try it?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Presumed Dead by Shirley Wells


Dylan's wife has kicked him out, his mother has invaded his apartment and he's out of work. What will happen next?

Carina Press and Net Galley provided me with this ebook for review (thank you). The book is available as Mobipocket Reader or Adobe Reader editions.

Ms. Wells creates interesting characters. Dylan Scott is a private investigator who used to be a cop, but was framed and ended up in jail. His wife wants more out of their relationship, he's changed from the man she married. Their daughter is no longer communicating with them, but she's in college so that might be normal. And his mother spends all her time in her room at his apartment burning incense and doing who knows what in there...

Adding to the mix, you have a young woman who wants to find out what happened to her mother. She's been saving her money and Dylan has been recommended. He's not excited about a missing persons case, but he needs the money. However, trying to find someone who has been missing for thirteen years is no easy feat.

The characters lives are all interwoven, and as you read along, you wonder just who hated Anita Champion, a happy go lucky woman, enough to want to harm her. There's no end of suspects, several guilty parties, and no real hope for a happy ending when the mystery is solved. Ms. Wells keeps you turning those pages, though!

This was enjoyable mystery, good for a beach read or in a chair by the fire on a rainy day.

I look forward to reading more of Shirley Wells' work.

Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming


What would you take to the princess' party as a gift if you were poor? Jack took a cake...

Schwartz & Wade Books sent me a copy of this children's picture book for review (thank you). G Brian Karas did the illustrations.

I have seen this basic fairy tale told in many ways, but I have to say this is one of my favorite versions.

Jack has no money, so he has to trade his personal possessions to get the ingredients to make the cake. Then he starts out with this magnificent cake that he can hardly wait to share with the princess. But he didn't think of the tolls he'd have to pay on the way...

When he makes it to the princess, he has nothing left to give. What he does next gives her the best present of the day!

This book is for ages 4-8 and would be great for story telling. There's ample opportunity for voice changes and acting out the mischief and danger that Jack finds on his way to castle. Children will enjoy the cute story and engaging pictures. Check your local bookstore for a copy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Curse of Deadman's Forest by Victoria Laurie


Ian has a real dilemma. He can't go through the portal again or he might die, but he has to be able to find a healer to complete his quest...

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers provided me with a copy of this book for review (thank you). I had read the first book in the Oracles of Delphi Keep earlier, and was sure I would enjoy this second book in the series.

The three young orphans (Ian, Theo, and Carl) are only half of the group needed to save their orphanage home and perhaps the world. But the evil around them is palpable - it seeps out of the pages into your senses. How are they to continue with their quest when Delphi Keep is under a powerful spell?

Ms. Laurie keeps the action continually moving in her books and young reader's are sure to enjoy that. Even reluctant readers will be drawn into the story and turn the pages eagerly. This is fantasy fiction at its best. Suggested ages for reading are 10 and up.

I enjoyed this book as much as the first and look forward to the next book in the series. Villains, sorcerers, an oracle, and magic - what a great read!

Dust Devil by Anne Isaacs


This is a bigger than life story about a young woman who grows so big she must move to Montana, a state big enough even she could even fit there. Angel was previously featured in a story called Swamp Angel, which won the Caldecott Honor.

Schwartz & Wade Books provided me with a copy of this book for review (thank you). This tall tale picture book is for ages 5-9 and the forward should give you an idea of the type of tale it is: "What you are about to read it is a genuine Montana story. On this earth, only one thing is as reliable as a Montana story, and that's a Montana fence post: Either of them may lean a little, but they seldom flat-out lie."

Paul O Zelinsky is the illustrator, and I've admired every book I've seen with his illustrations. This one was no exception to that rule.

This is a silly book that will charm children. Angel rides a whirlwind (dust devil) and the bad guys ride huge mosquitoes. C'mon, it's got to make you smile...

This book will be coming out on sale on September 14th, so visit your local bookstore and get a pre-order in for it now. Make your family smile.

Sitka Rose by Shelley Gill


Paul Bunyon has nothing on Sitka Rose!

Charlesbridge sent me a copy of this great picture book for children (thank you). It's a tall tale that will amuse your child and help his/her imagination run wild.

The illustrations are marvelous. Rose is big and bold and afraid of nothing. She rides a moose like a horse, rides a whale to Nome, and goes looking for gold. She's big like Paul and manages to realign part of the landscape while hunting the yellow stuff.

This is a good, rip-roaring type of story that is fun to read. It would make an excellent book for reading aloud. Discussion afterwards could be about what kind of characters the children in the group would create. For example, someone who could pluck stars out of the sky or someone who would conquer the sharks of the sea, or???

It's written in poetry form and has a nice flow. This book is currently available at your local bookstore. Why not share a tall tale with your child?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dirtball Pete by Eileen Brennan


Do you have or were you once a dirty little kid? You'll love Dirtball Pete!

Random House Books for Young Readers sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you), and I love it.

Pete is a boisterous little boy who loves life and is afraid of no dirt and no smell. And his sister really doesn't appreciate it.

Then comes the big day when he has to give a speech as part of a class project. Will he be able to stay clean until after the performance?

Ms. Brennan's character is delightful and her illustrations are great. I know there will be more in this series because he offers so many possibilities for an author. And I'll be watching for them.

Children's picture books are great fun to read, and this one will be a book every child should be able to relate to. It is written for children ages 4-7 and is currently available in your local bookstore. Check it out!

Masters of Disaster by Gary Paulsen


Three young boys decide they want to have a fantastic adventure that everyone else will admire. What could go wrong?

Wendy Lamb Books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you) and I was interesting in seeing what Gary Paulsen was writing now. My favorite of his earlier books is "Hatchet", which is a story of survival. This book is a story with humor, which is different from anything I'd read of Mr. Paulsen's work.

They're twelve and they are bored. Henry has the brains, Riley is the researcher, and then there's fearful Reed - who always ends up implementing the plan, against his wishes. They reassure him he won't get hurt, but nobody talked about how much he'd smell...

Boys will love this book! Lots of far fetched adventures with unexpected results and boy-type jokes make it a fast read and very enjoyable for ages 8-12.

Once you introduce them to Mr. Paulsen's work, he has written over 200 others that they can check out. Hatchet is still my favorite, but this was a very good book and should please children universally. Check for it at your local bookstore.

What Really Happened to Humpty by Jeanie Franz Ransom


Did Humpty really fall off that wall? Or was he pushed? It's up to Joe Dumpty to find out.

Charlesbridge publishes the best children's books. There's something for everyone, whether it's poking fun at Mother Goose rhymes or teaching a child facts about Monks illustrating books. I choose this one for review (thanks for a copy, Charlesbridge) because I had previously read a children's book entitled "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs" where the wolf was innocent (or say he says). This children's picture book appeared to be written in the same tongue-in-cheek form.

Stephen Axelsen illustrations add to "hard-boiled" feel of the story as Joe Friday, oops, that's Joe Dumpty, goes about his investigation.

There are corny lines in the story such as: "At least he landed sunny-side up." Ms. Ransom uses a whole batch of nursery rhyme characters such as: Miss Muffet, the three little pigs, Little Bo Peep, and more.

I'd suggest this for reading for ages 6-9. If you use it for reading aloud, have the children tell the original nursery rhymes after you're through with the story. This is a good humorous read that should make your child smile.

This book is currently available at your local bookstore - and you won't have read a nursery rhyme like this before...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fiona's Luck by Teresa Bateman


Would you be lucky enough (or smart enough) to fool a leprechaun?

Charlesbridge sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you) and it's a lovely book. Kelly Murphy has created enchanting illustrations that will catch your eye and add to your reading pleasure.

This is an Irish folktale that talks about how much luck there was in Ireland until the big people arrived (humans). When they started using up the luck faster than the King of Leprechauns liked, he collected it all and hid it. Soon the hens didn't lay, the cows went dry, and the potatoes rotted in the field and things didn't look good for the Irish. But Fiona was not going to give up so easily...

This book is written for 6-9 year olds and is a treat to read even if you're an adult. If you would enjoy watching someone outwit the King of Leprechauns, this book is for you.

I highly recommend this children's picture book. The story and illustrations make it outstanding.

Samuel's Baby by Mark Elkin


Show-and-tell gets a lot more interesting when Samuel blurts out that he's going to have a baby!

Tricycle Press sent a copy of this cute book to review (thank you). The illustrations are by Amy Wimmer and the book is available now for purchase.

This is a silly, fun story that would be great for any sibling worrying about a new addition to the family. It is written for children ages 3-6.

Once Samuel says he's having a baby, the whole class goes around pretending they are pregnant with everything from dolls to stuffed toys to pets. They also practice the skills they'll need to take care of their new baby - which will make you laugh.

If you have a child who is insecure about the thought of a new baby, this book will help take the trauma away and give you opportunities to talk about any concerns they may have.

This book will also work well for reading aloud. Get yourself a copy at your local bookstore and share it with the children in your life.

Mercy by Eleri Stone


If you're a shape shifter who can turn into a jaguar and have trained to fight to the death, why would you submit to your male opponent? And what future can you have now?

Carina Press is publishing this book this month as a Mobipocket Reader or Adobe Reader edition. I downloaded the galley from Net Galley for review.

The thought of shape shifters has always intrigued me. There are enough conflicts in human relationships without throwing animal instincts into the mix. Ms. Stone does a very good job of making her characters strong and showing the differences in their training and backgrounds.

There is graphic sex in this novel, so don't read it if that will offend you. However, the story line is strong enough that you will keep reading and wondering just who Iada will side with - her tribe or her new husband.

Get ready for lots of action, a character you can't predict, and a fight between the pure and the mutant.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Cold Water Witch by Yannick Murphy


Ever wanted to be a princess of a snowy land? Here's your chance.

I received my copy of this book from Tricycle Press, and the illustrations by Tom Lintern made me feel very cold - even a nice hot summer day!

It's the coldest day of the year and the cold water witch wants to imprison another young girl in her land of ice and snow. But the girl is smarter than that. She tries hard to outwit the witch and the story has an unexpected ending.

This picture book is for younger readers and while it has a fearful part to the tale, it ends up happily for all. It is worth purchasing to just admire the artwork of the illustrations. And I really enjoyed the story.

Visit your local bookstore and check it out for yourself. I bet you leave with a copy...

Because I could Not Stop My Bike by Karen Jo Shapird


"Because I could not stop my bike
it kindly stopped for me.
Unluckily, it did not stop
until it hit a tree."

Charlesbridge has provided me a copy of this marvelous book of poetry for grade school children (thank you). Matt Faulkner is the illustrator, and he does a very job of creating colorful and fun pictures to go with these romping poems.

Ms. Shapird takes 26 classic poems and reworks them for children using the same rhythms and meters of the originals. It works very well, and children will love reading them.

How can you not like poems like: How Do I Love Ketchup? Let Me Count the Ways; or A Red, Rose Nose?

Introduce your child to poetry that is fun to read and teach them that poetry has a charm of its own.

This book is available now at your local bookstore.