Monday, March 31, 2014

Alice from Dallas by Marilyn Sadler

Alice is a cowgirl.  A young cowgirl, but she's dedicated to it.  Imagine how she feels when another cowgirl shows up in class.  She's from Texas and has spurs and a hat, too...

Abrams Books for Young Reader's sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  You can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

Alice has never had any competition before.  After all, her Dallas is in Pennsylvania and there aren't a lot of cowgirls there.  When Lexie shows up, she's got a bigger hat and more charm.  When Lexie ties her hobby horse to the tree Alice uses, it's a bit much.  But when she has her big hat hung on the peg that Alice uses, that's it!  Alice throws the hat on the floor and challenges her to a showdown!

Lexie wins the lasso competition but Alice wins the dancing.  When Lexie falls down during her attempt to dance, she bruises her foot.  She's not in school the next day and Alice can't stand it. She goes to visit to see if she's OK.  Then, suddenly, the two cowgirls become friends.  And Alice finds out that Lexie is from Texas, Indiana.

The use of town names to find their identities amused me.  The artwork is simple and lovely and has a feel of tall tale telling.  The cowgirls agree to help each other learn the things they excel in so it's a happy ever after.  Here's a fun read for your young one.

Murder at the Breakers by Alyssa Maxwell

Emma is only going to the big event at the Breakers because she's a shirt-tail relative and writes a society column.  She's also going to help her black sheep brother out.  Instead of reporting on what people were wearing and who came to the ball, she finds herself witnessing a murder.  And her drunken brother is being railroaded into jail with a charge of murder...

Kensington Books sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It was published at the end of March and you can buy a copy now.  This is the first in the Gilded Newport Mystery series and it's a good read.

This is set in Victorian times, so even though the murdered victim practically fell at her feet, she's not allowed to write that story.  Women were only good for society pages in those days.  The limits set by the Victorian culture on women is part of the problem in this murder.

The men all had secrets.  From the youngest to the oldest, her brother included, they had secrets.  Some were worth killing for.  The women are more devious, are privy to gossip, and play their hands behind the scenes.  Besides the obvious murder, there is a raped servant, the main house man is fired for theft, and her brother stole railway plans.  All this ties together to set the scene for the first murder and the one that follows.

Her uncle is not interested in investigating any further.  Her brother stole from him and obviously killed the murder victim when discovered.  Don't bother him with facts.  Emma refuses to believe her brother did it and she won't give up.  You'd think a couple of attempts to kill her would slow her down, but no...

I liked the fact that she found a love interest in this story.  When she finds out his true identity, she can see no future with him because he's one of the monied ton.  She doesn't want to give up her independence and her right to live her life as she wishes.  She tells him they're over and doesn't look back.  Sure thing, Emma.  There's another book in this series and I bet her fella will be around despite her rejection.  At least, I sure hope so!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

May the Stars Drip Down by Jeremy Chatelain

This is an interesting children's picture book.  It's based on a song by indie rock band Cub Country.

Abrams Books for Young Readers sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

It sounds like a song when you read it even though I didn't know it was based on one.  This is a sweet lullaby to share with your little one when you are putting them to bed.  The illustrations are done by Nikki McClure and help lead you into ethereal world of dreams:  safe, solid, nice dreams of wandering the wonders of the earth at night.

Just to tempt you even more, here's a link to the website that will let you listen to the song:  http://www.abramsbooks.com/MaytheStarsDripDown/

You might want to play that while you and your child settle down for the night.  You can read along or sing along to it.  Just make sure you don't fall asleep, too.

A Biscuit, A Casket: A Pawsitively Organic Mystery by Liz Mugavero

Stan's new business is taking off.  Everyone likes her gourmet pet food recipes and it helps their cats and dogs be healthy.  She even gets invited to provide the treats for a "doggy costume party".  This should be a happy time, but it's interrupted by one of the workers in the maze.  It's Halloween season and the farm has a corn maze with monsters inside to make it scary.  What's even more scary and chilling is the dead body in the center of the maze...

Kensington Books sent me a copy of the ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 1st, so watch for it at your local bookstore.

The dead farmer is Hal, the farm owner.  He has lots of folks who don't like him, he hasn't been much of a husband or father, but nobody really had a good reason to kill him.  At least nobody showed it.  The police chief is not happy to see Stan on the scene again.  It seems when death happens, Stan finds it.  Stan has a crush on Jake, who is the police chief's brother.  That makes these occasions even stickier.

When Hal's wife Emma is accused of his murder, Stan decides to get more involved in the investigation.  What she finds is that everyone in town has secrets.  She just has to find out which ones are the deadliest.  And she better find out before she's the one that is dead...

This is an entertaining cozy mystery that will keep you reading and rooting for Stan.

Happy reading.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Peter Panda Melts Down by Artie Bennett

Peter Panda is just a bit spoiled.  Okay, maybe more than just a bit.  When he doesn't get his way, he melts down!

Artie Bennett sent me a copy of this book for review along with a personal note in the book for me.  He's a gracious author who writes good books, so it's always fun to review his latest.  This one caught my heart because my very first bear was a panda bear.  It has no hair, its tale is hanging by a thread and one ear is missing, but he's still mine.  He lives in my hope chest now.  I still love him.

This book has been published, so check with your local bookstore to pick up a copy.  Maybe you have a panda lover in your family, too.

I think Peter is related to the little girl across the street.  She cries to high heaven whenever she doesn't get her way or thinks she's been hurt.  Peter has melt downs, too.  Little ones can be very vocal about their perceived grievances.  Peter's Mom was way more patient than I would be.  She deals with all the drama until it's time for bed.  Then she has her melt down...

If you have a small fussy one, this book will talk to you.  Peter is learning his boundaries and what he can and can't do.  Maybe your little one can learn from him.

The illustrations by John Nez are special, too.  These pandas are fuzzy and look huggable.  They go great with Mr. Bennett's story.  Take a look.  I bet you take it home.

Poached by Stuart Gibbs

Teddy has a problem.  OK, maybe more than one.  He has Vance at school, who's been held back twice and is BIG, bullying him.  When he goes to FunJungle where his parents work and live, Marge is on his case.  He solved the last mystery there and made her look stupid and she's never going to let that go.  She's going to get even...

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 8th, and is the sequel to Belly Up.  Grab it at your local bookstore.

While Teddy is chatting with a friend in school, he happens to mention the new shark exhibit.  As they goof around talking about it, he mentions it might be be cool to put something in the water that looks like human remains to gross everyone out.  It's only a joke they giggle over but, unfortunately, Vance heard him.  And Vance gets a mannequin arm and foot and browbeats Teddy into meeting him at the shark exhibit.  When he gets there, Vance makes him put the arm in.  Vance and his friends had been spotted by the security guard and the guards show up in force at just the moment Teddy does the deed.  In his scurry to get away, he ends up in the Koala house.  It doesn't hurt anything because the Koala sleeps right through it.  But it causes big problems for Teddy.

You see, Kazoo gets kidnapped and they blame Teddy.  Marge and her friends have the video that shows Teddy's entrance and exit.  He's wearing Vance's backpack and it's huge.  Kazoo could have been inside.  Teddy's parents believe him but no one else does.  If he's going to get out of this, he's going to have to solve the crime himself.

If that's not enough for him to do, there are two other side plots.  This FunJungle has theft, false employees, fraudulent activities, illegal photo sales, and a bomber.  Can Teddy deal with all that?  Yes, he can.

It's a good mystery with enough other trails mixing in with the Koala theft to confuse everyone.  There's good action and Teddy finds out he has some friends he didn't even know about.  Even reluctant readers should enjoy this one.

Friday, March 28, 2014

In the Morning I'll be Gone (Sean Duffy #3) by Adrian McKinty

Sean Duffy has always been a bit of a rogue in the police department but when he gets in real trouble, it wasn't his fault...

Seventh Street Books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published so you can find a copy in your local bookstore now.  This is the third in a trilogy, so you might want to get the first two and read them in a series.

When he and his partner are on a call, the partner is driving and Sean feels something clip the mirror but he doesn't see anything in the dark.  Turns out it was a person they clipped and the other cop says Sean was the driver.  That's enough to let the top cop do what he's been wanting to do for a long time:  Make Sean retire.  Sean's not happy but he can't do much about it.  He certainly never expected to get recruited by M15!

The big reason is because he knows the man they are trying to find.  He used to be friends with him.  He wanted to join the IRA with him, but Dermot refused to let him.  That's how he became a cop.  Now they want him to find Dermot before he bombs something else.  Sean is willing to try but he knows no one will disclose his whereabouts to a cop.  He's right.  But someone is willing to trade information.

It seems Dermot's mother-in-law wants to know who killed her youngest daughter.  It's a cold case, a locked room mystery, and he's not supposed to be off on another case.  However, it may be the only way to find Dermot.

The investigative work on the young woman's death is fascinating.  Watching Sean use his knowledge of how the IRA works and trying to work ahead on Dermot's plot is also intriguing.  Some parts of the plot I anticipated, some I did not.  It's a well worn trail with folks on all sides being no better than they should be.  It ended how it had to.  Some sad, some happy, and some just glad to be alive.  Sean was walking alone with the story started and that's how the story ended, too.  He's not unhappy, though, and that's what counts.

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

When he closed the door to his home to travel off to the new school, he was homeless.  The house was sold, his mother and his stepfather were overseas and he was off to Irving and a dorm room.  That was OK; he could handle it.

Random House Children's Books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It was published in February and you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.  I really liked how the author used a unique way to get the story to Duncan.

At first, I was a bit hesitant to read this story.  I don't like reading sad stories and I'm not into books that make me cry.  As I began reading it, the author hooked my interest right away by giving us Tim's side of the story in his words and recorded on CD's.  I really liked how the author used a unique way to get the story to Duncan.  The new dorm room occupant gets the full story on the great mystery at the end of school last year.  He's not sure he wants it, but he gets it.

Tim's biggest problem is that he would like to meld in with the crowd and be unnoticed.  That just doesn't work if you're an albino.  He's also unlucky.  When the flight gets cancelled, he calls his mother who is working in travel and she gets him a room at the hotel.  He's been eyeballing a pretty young lady who is also going to Irving and is stuck without a room.  He finally offers to let her share his room.  It's a good thing and a bad thing.  They find out they get along well, they can make each other laugh, and they have fun together.  Unfortunately, she already has a boyfriend...

One of the big things in your senior year at Irving is that you have to write a Tragedy paper.  You can choose an event, a play, a book or even a poem but you need to make the case that is or is not a tragedy.  Everyone moans and tries to think of a subject.  Tim is living one.  He's falling for Vanessa; she's very fond of him.  Is it real for her or just something different?  Why is her boyfriend "befriending" him; or is he?  It all culminates on the night of the Senior Prank.  What happens that night is a tragedy and now Tim wants Duncan to tell his story.

Everybody loses something in this story except Duncan.  He's learning from Tim's experiences.  And Tim and Vanessa may speak again someday.  I'm willing to hope.  Why don't you read it and see what you think?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Carousel Sun by Sharon Lee

Kate Archer is back in town, running the carousel and being Guardian of the land.  Things were going south before her arrival; now she's here and trying to put things straight again.  Both her grandmother and mother are ill and are trying to recover from the past trials.  She's hoping things will settle down, but Joe Nemeier is still alive and living close and running drugs.  Maybe the cops will catch him; not likely.

Baen Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review.  It was published in February so you can grab a copy now.  I missed the window of opportunity to read the ebook, so I ordered myself a copy.  I'm fond of Sharon Lee's writing and this book met my expectations.  My copy is going in my personal library.

Kate hears the land and its' feelings.  She sees beings humans don't.  And she can slide sideways to check out the type of magic being used.  That sounds like a handy talent, doesn't it?

There are a few similarities here to the faerie world.  There are ways to phrase things so you don't get trapped or owe things you don't want to.  There are actions you can't take without offense.  Keeping all that straight, watching over care for the land and fighting monsters definitely keeps you busy.  Some of the best parts of the story were instigated by the humans.  They might not have magic, but they do have friendship. I also liked the light easy romance that Kate has going with Borgan, the sea guardian.  He's attracted to her, too, but they have different magics and they have to be careful how they handle it.

I really enjoyed this book and will be watching for the next in the series.  After all, Joe is still alive and dealing drugs...

Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier by Ying Chang Compestine, Vinson Compestine

Ming's father is trying to find Emporer Qin's tomb and the terra-cotta soldiers that protect them.  He wants to protect them and save them for Chinese heritage.  The town's Political Officer just wants more goods to sell for a better life for his wife and himself; forget saving these historical artifacts.

Amulet Books sent me a copy of the ARC of this story for review (thank you).  It was published in January, so you can grab a copy at your local bookstore now.

This is a mix of fact and fantasy that reads well, with lots of action.  When some brothers bring in a broken terra-cotta statue, they want money.  Since his father is pleading his case in the city, Ming can't pay them.  What happens next is fantasy, but it's part of the magic of the story.  The head of statue starts talking to Ming.  He tells Ming if he can put him on his bed and get all his parts in the right place, he will be able to reunite his body.  It's true and it scares Ming!  

It takes a long time for his father to return and, in the meantime, the brothers are back and want the statue back.  They're overjoyed when they see it repaired and they take it to the Political Officer to get more money for it than they'd get from Ming's father.  When they all party too much and pass out, Shi sneaks back to Ming.  They need to work together to save the General's tomb and the other terra-cotta soldiers.

This is a bit like the first Indiana Jones tale.  Lots of dangers, lots of challenges, and folks fighting over the goods.  I enjoyed it.  Part of the reason I wanted to review it was that I saw the King Tut exhibit and he had terra-cotta soldiers, too.  They are very impressive in person.  They're not very big people but there are a lot of them and they stand there proudly.  Finding Emporer Qin's tomb must have been quite the experience.

You also get historical photos and even a recipe to full out this book experience.  This would really work well in class, especially with a few supplemental resource books with more photos.  Why not teach your students about the Qin Dynasty?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Golem in My Glovebox by R.L. Naquin

This is the fourth in the Monster Haven series.  Having enjoyed the others, I couldn't wait to see what Zoey's new quest would be.

Carina Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 21st, so make a note.  If you haven't read the others in the series, you might want to pick those up first.  These are fun fantasy reads.

The first monster she has to save is an "under the bed" monster, who doesn't want to be saved.  Downtown San Francisco is fun!  When things get dangerous, she willingly goes with Zoey.  What Zoey doesn't know is that this monster used to be her closet monster's girlfriend.  What a mess in the household!

Someone has kidnapped all the other Aegises in the country—including Zoey's mother.  Zoey and her boyfriend, the Soul Reaper, head out to try to save them.  She's given a mini golem to take with her to help her out.  She's not sure she needs his help, but he's trying to get in touch with his humanity, so she agrees to take him.

When a mysterious note arrives, Zoey realizes it's actually a death threat to the Aegises.  It's like a riddle but she doesn't know the answer to it.  With the help of her friends, she goes to the location referenced.  She finds a dead Aegises.  Whoever has them seems to use their own powers against them.  The one who could use water to make magic has drowned, in a desert.  They keep trying to find the Aegises before they die, but they are always a bit too late.  The worst part is that her mother is getting closer to death all the time.

Besides magical powers, there is a person on the inside who has become an unwilling pawn in this riddle game.  Who's lying, who's telling the truth, and who can she trust?

I figured part of the plot out, but not all of it.  It has a fantastic finale.  And I'm already looking forward to the next book.

The Body in the Woods by April Henry

Take three young teenagers and put them into a search and rescue group.  They are all looking for something different from the experience.  It's a chance to learn, a chance to be strong, a chance to be smart and a chance to help people.  Take those same three teens and introduce them to a dead body.  One thing it isn't is fun...

Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published June 17th, so make a note to pick it up then.

Ms. Henry does a nice job with this story.  She makes each teen a normal complex character.  Nick is always trying to prove himself.  His father died in war and he wants to live up to his image.  Alexis has a mother with mental problems who keeps falling apart because she won't take her medication.  She never knows what she'll find when she goes home and sometimes her mother disappears.  Ruby is a mental wizard.  She has a good memory, has an interest in facts and logic, and doesn't really get along with people.  She can play a role but it's not her, it's a role.

The kids are questioned about who else they saw on the trail.  They remember bits and pieces but not a lot.  They were looking for a lost autistic man, not a murdered teen.  There was a man jogging with dogs, an older man birding and another young man who went by.  One of the paramedics steps on a footprint that could have helped identify the murderer.  This drives Ruby nuts, but the cops don't seem to care.

The cops learn that one of the men was tending a marijuana patch up above on the trail and decide he must have been the one to murder the girl.  Ruby doesn't agree.  She pesters the cop long enough that he tells her to butt out and leave his case alone.

The murderer is sneaky and hides in plain sight.  His plan now includes Ruby as one of his "samples".  He loves her pretty red hair...

There is a lot action at the end that will delight any young adult reader.  I think we'll be seeing this SAR team again in another book.  And that would make me happy.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Daemon Parallel by Roy Gill

When his father suddenly dies, he's sent to live with his grandmother.  He'd never had anything to do with her while growing up.  His dad didn't like her.  But she is his grandmother, so he has to give her a chance to prove herself.  When she offers to bring his dead father back to life, he's more than willing to help...

Floris Books and Net Galley allowed me to download and read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 9th, so watch for it then.

Cameron has no idea what new world he's entered by joining in his grandmother's quest.  She's eccentric, tells him there is a parallel world where daemons live and invites him to visit the other side.  She introduces him to a man who is half-daemon and half-human.  He's a nice guy but his grocery shop sometimes melds into the other world.  Cameron is scared and excited both.  He's willing to brave it if he can get his dad back.

Good and evil are both sides of the parallel world.  He meets a werewolf who becomes his friend and finds himself in more danger as the story goes along.  Is his grandmother really going to bring his dad back to life?  What about the daemon who is in competition with grandma?  And what about Cameron himself?

This story had more of a plot than I expected.  I thought it was just a horror tale but there's more to it.  It moves fast, you worry about Cameron and his friends and the horror of the daemon world is close to breaking through.  You won't dawdle while reading this one!

Dashiell Hammett Man of Mystery by Sally Cline

Do all writers have a tortured soul?  This one sure did.

Skyhorse Publishing sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can get a copy at your local bookstore now.

I've read Hammett's work and admired it, so this biography sounded interesting to me.  I wasn't expecting the man I read about, though.  His life was rougher than I expected.

His home life as a child was unsettling.  His father was a big man who was unfaithful to his wife and continually lost jobs.  They were constantly on the move from one city to another while his father looked for employment.  His mother spoiled him but she was in ill health herself and couldn't do much.  His father just wanted him to stay out of his way.

His way out was to go in the service.  His mother cried; he was joyous.  A change would do him good, he thought.  Unfortunately, his own health wasn't great and he was a small man.  He developed tuberculosis and ended up leaving the service.  While he was in the hospital trying to recuperate, he fell in love with a nurse that reminded him of his mother.  He married her and had two children with her.  By that point, he was writing.  Soon, he fell into his father's bad habits.  He drank, slept around, had bouts with tuberculosis and gonorrhea, and moved about the countryside.  He developed a long time relationship with Lillian Hellman but he never divorced his wife.

He was a man who could not control his lust for life.  He was never really happy.  He had his own writing style, which was not popular in the day.  It did sell books, though.  When he had money, he shared it with everyone.  When he did not, he struggled.

All in all, his life story is almost like something fictional from a book.  He pursued his own version of "living large" and he had it good for a while.  He wrote stories that are still around today and new readers are enjoying them.  His health made him a writer and he'd be amazed to see how long his stories have lived. Life was hard for him, but he survived.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Skies Like These by Tess Hilmo

Jade's not happy.  She expected to spend her summer vacation the way she always did:  reading and watching TV reruns.  In the city, where she's used to stuff and feels safe.  Not at her aunt's house in Wyoming.  Give her a break!

Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 15th, so make a note on your TBR list.  

Jade's aunt is nice enough even if it has been a long time since she's seen her and she's a bit weird.  She has dogs, though.  One HUGE dog scares her.  Of course, he decides her likes her and she can't get away from him.  In time, he grows on her and she enjoys his company, too.  The other odd part about her aunt's house is that she has this "helper".  He's a young cowboy, which is not too unusual in Wyoming.  However, he calls himself Roy and thinks he's a descendant of Butch Cassidy.  That's not real normal...

Jade finds her aunt is into stargazing and has a magnificent view from her roof.  Roy wants her to be his Sundance Kid and help him with his nefarious ideas for getting enough money to help his dad reopen his hardware store.  Like rob the bank, or steal art treasures from the new hardware store owner.

There are a lot of sweet touches in this story.  The characters are realistic, everybody grows up a bit this summer, and there are plans for the future.  It's written for middle graders but I found it a very nice read for adults, too.  

Do you have a stargazer in your family?  This book would be great for them.  If you don't, maybe you and your child could use this book as a guide to start looking at the sky.  It's a big world out there.

Attack the Geek: A Ree Reyes Side-Quest Michael R. Underwood

Ree Reyes is working her regular barista/drink-slinger shift at Grognard's when it all goes wrong. Everything...

Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and Net Galley allowed me to download this novelette for review (thank you).  It was published April 7th.  I've never read any of the Geekomancy urban fantasy series so this was an opportunity to taste the series and see if I liked it.  I do!

Ree works at the bar and is amused by the various patrons.  They are game playing fiends and use magic here and there to make the games more exciting.  That's normal.  What's not normal is to have the guests get attacked in the alley in when they leave.  It's also not normal for the bad guys to be  trying to take down the door and get inside.  Good thing Grognard knows how to place strong wards.

Ree can watch video clips on her phone and then assume the talents of the fantasy characters, like Spider Man.  The old man in the bar can use his collector cards to throw magic at the enemy.  The other men are strong and mean in their own right, and use brute force with a bit of magic.  However, the battle isn't calming down.  The opponents are just getting bigger. When they attempt to escape, they find themselves in a labyrinth and soon get lost.  Ree's a little too busy paying attention to a male she can't have (he's her girlfriend's boyfriend) and almost gets killed.

This is a busy story with lots of action, all kinds of monsters (even some human ones) and it keeps you reading.  I like fantastic adventures and this fits the bill.  I'll be watching for more by this author. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Ghost Box by Catherine Fisher

Their new house is nice, but her bedroom is a bit creepy.  She keeps seeing a boy in a tree trying to tell her something.  When she finds a small old box that is locked, she decides it must have come from him.  But why?

Stoke Books and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published May 1st.  Stoke Books publishes books specifically for reluctant readers.  This one is:  Interest Age, 11+, Reading Age, 2nd Grade.  I read it and enjoyed it.  You don't have to be a reluctant reader to enjoy the story.

Sarah is determined to find a key to open the box, just like the boy ghost wants her to.  Who knows what kind of treasure might be in it?  The only problem she has is that she has to work with her new step-brother to do so.  He's older, dressing in Goth fashion, and he can drive.  For some reason, he doesn't want her to open the box.  She's stubborn, she's determined to find a way.  But when she does, she also finds out it could be terribly, terribly dangerous.

I enjoyed the tale because it's fantasy with the flavor of an old fairy tale combined with the new mixed families we see often these days.  Sarah doesn't like Matt and doesn't want him for a brother.  After this adventure, she views him a bit differently.  Better days will be ahead.  And Sarah is still here to enjoy them.

Happy reading.

Burn Out by Kristi Helvig

Her family is dead and she's heard from no one in months.  Is she the only one left?  Then someone knocks on the door of her shelter...

Egmont and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 8th, so look for it then at your local bookstore.  This is written for young adults.

Tora realizes the voice she hears is from a friend of her father's.  Markus is near her age, but he can pilot a spaceship and takes off for a safer place to live.  He has returned for her.  Actually, he's returned for the weapons she has hidden: her father's guns; the ultimate in destructive horror.  She refuses him and kicks him out.  He comes back with more people.  Their actions also bring the enemies that no one wants to see.  The current government is governed by the rich and has no room for others.  But anyone who isn't part of them isn't worth being left living.

The biggest problem that Tora has is that no one is telling her the complete truth.  She gets pieces here and there.  What's true and what isn't?  How can versions be so different?  And why are they trying to kill her?

This is a dramatic story with death everywhere.  Since it's a dystopian-type tale, that's not unusual.  Tora's story isn't done yet.  There will be more in this series.  I have several questions unanswered and am going to watch for the next book.  I think James, her new friend/enemy, will be back in her life and maybe she can get some answers from him for me.

Happy reading.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham

Rye lives in Village Drowning with her mother.  The village is small and careful.  People stay in at night, no one wants to annoy the king or his henchmen, and friendships are tentative.  Bad has happened in this village before and they don't want to see it again.

HarperCollins and Edelweiss allowed me to download and read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 29th.  It's written for ages 8-12 but I loved it enough, I'm buying a copy for me.

One night when her mother goes out, Rye sneaks out and looks at the stars and listens to night noises.  When she sees something she doesn't recognize, she decides to investigate.  Wrong move, it's  Bog Noblin!

The Bog Noblins have returned and the whole Village is in living in fear.  These are giant ugly monsters that like to eat people and destroy homes.  How are the villages going to stop one?  They have no chance against three.  The last time they were in the village, the Luck Uglies stopped them.  But the King ran them off.

What I enjoyed was the odd names of the Noblins, how the King got his comeuppance, and how many of villagers were secret Luck Uglies.  There's lots of action, a traitor in the midst, and the bravest warrior of them all is the father that Rye has never known.

As the story progressed, I got more and more into the fantasy tale.  I was pleased to see the children got to help fight.  Who wants to stay safe when there's action out there?  This is a first rate tale and great fun to read.  Why don't you give it a try? 

The Dyerville Tales by M. P. Kozlowsky, Brian Thompson (Illustrated by)

He's an orphan living in an orphanage and he tells tales to keep his hope alive and entertain the other children.  His hope is dying and he's nearing despair when he gets the notice his grandfather has died.  When he asks to attend the funeral, he's told no!

Waldon Pond Press and Edelweiss allowed me to download and read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 22nd.  It's written for ages 8-12.

Vince hopes that his father might be still be alive.  After all, they never found his body.  If he is, surely he would go to his father's funeral, right?  The head of the orphanage says it would take too much money and manpower to get him there and he can't go.  This determined young man doesn't take no for an answer.

With the help of a couple friends, he escapes the orphanage and begins the trip to the funeral.  He has to hide from the orphanage staff, who are determined to capture him and take him home.  This part of the story reminds me of a recurring dream I have.  Folks are searching for me and I'm always hiding, usually not well.  Vince does OK and gets away.

He makes some strange friends along way.  One family takes him in and helps him get ready for the funeral.  While he's waiting to go, he keeps reading his grandfather's journal.  It has to be fantasy.  It talks about witches, giants, magical books, and evil spirits.  Suddenly fact and fiction are intertwining and Vince's quest to find his father might be otherworldly.  He won't know unless he takes the chance...

The story moves well and is interesting and intriguing.  The illustrations feel ethereal and otherworldly.  What do you or don't you see?  What would you be willing to trade to get what you want?  And are you brave enough to do it?

Happy reading.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Space Taxi: Archie Takes Flight by Wendy Mass, Michael Brawer, Elise Gravel (Illustrated by)

He has been waiting eight years, eight months, and eight days for this moment to arrive...

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 1st, so keep your eyes peeled for it and grab it then.

Archie Morningstar has been waiting a long time for this moment.  Today is the day that he gets to go with his father on his taxi rounds.  They leave at midnight and, as they head out, Archie is so proud to get to go along.  What he doesn't know is that the taxi is a Space Taxi.  They don't stay on earth, they take off into the sky and move between worlds.  They use wormholes for travel and Archie is the navigator.  He's never seen such a map or learned to read it, but soon it seems perfectly normal to say when to enter the wormhole and when to slow down before they hit the planet.

If that isn't strange enough, he runs into a talking cat and then gets involved in a spy case.  That's an awful lot to happen on the first night out, isn't it?

This story is written for ages 6-10 and they will love it.  The story is silly and fun, Ms. Gravel's illustrations are wild and colorful and it doesn't take too long to read.  If you have a reluctant reader, I'm sure this one will keep their attention and keep them reading.  You might even want to read it, too.  I enjoyed it!

Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull

You have to be very careful on Halloween.  Some of the monsters are real...

Alladin and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It was published March 11th and is the first in the Five Kingdoms series.  It is written for children aged 8-12 and it's a grand adventure!

Cole has a crush on Jenna and he's trying to extend his time out with her on Halloween.  He talks her and his best friend to trying the new haunted house.  As the group of children go in, they are sure it won't be anything too scary; it isn't until they get shoved in the basement.  The children are chained and then shoved in cages.  Once the portal opens, they are lead away into a new world.  Cole manages to escape, but he can't let his friends go without helping them.  So he jumps through the portal on his own.  And ends up in a world he's never seen before...

The children were kidnapped to become slaves.  Cole has big plans to help them escape, but one of the caged girls gives an alarm and he's captured, too.   He's punished for his actions.  He also gets sold to a group on the road that specialize in salvage.  It doesn't take long to realize that most of the young ones don't live long enough to retire.

This is the first story in a new series and Mr. Mull does an excellent job with it.  You can envision the world and you understand why life is so cheap.  It's a hard life with unknown dangers.  Even the known dangers are bigger than Cole can imagine.

I found this to be a fine fantasy adventure that had me rooting for the kids.  I can't wait to see what happens in the next book and I know your young one will feel the same way.  Travel to different worlds, fight monsters and try to save your friends.  What more could you want?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hooey Higgins and the Tremendous Trousers by Steve Voake

Hooey Higgins is a typical little brother.  (I had one, so I know.)  He always has these terrific ideas.  They might not work out like he planned, but plans can be changed.  And when the main prize for the best invention is tickets to the carnival, how he can he not do the most outrageous thing he can think of to win?

Candlewick Press and Net Galley allowed me to download and read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 22nd, so look for a copy of it then.

Hooey has his friends, his older brother and his grandparents to help him accomplish the project.  His Grandfather gives him an old pair of his Grandmother's sweats to create Tremendous Trousers AKA TremTrows!  

You stuff the pants with bubblewrap to keep you safe from injury, add some soda bottles with balloons on the openings and mix mints into the soda to create gas to move you to safety.  Just don't use too much.  What could go wrong?

As you can guess, the invention doesn't work perfectly.  They don't win that contest.  But they do win tickets to the carnival for a whole different reason.  It's a cute story with adventuresome boys, humor and fun in general to offer.  Why not share it with your young ones and see what sort of fanciful inventions they can come up with?

Happy reading.

Under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes

DCI Louisa Smith and her team have their work cut out for them.  One woman was murdered at an English farm; one woman appears to have committed suicide at the local quarry.  Are the deaths related?  Why was the beautiful young single girl murdered?

Harper and Edelweiss allowed to download this book for review (thank you).  It will be on sale April 15th, so make a note to pick it up at your local bookstore then.

When the team starts to dig into the past, some very ugly secrets came up.  The murdered woman loved sex and had it with anyone available whether male or female.  Those living in the vicinity of her abode had all taken advantage of the opportunity.  Who had gotten angry enough to kill her?

This is a twisted, sordid tale with no one coming out well at the end.  A weak police officer almost loses his life as well as his job.  The daughter that was in love with murdered girl loses more than the one that lost her life.  That little corner of England suffers ripples from the waves of anger and insanity that comes all from one person.  It takes a bit before you find out who the killer is.  Not only have we killed, we plan on killing again.

It's creepy story that left a bad taste in my mouth.  It's all possible and probable but I prefer a bit light and happiness in my stories.  Louisa's new romance was the only positive thing I saw in this story and who knows if that's going to last? The mystery is good, I just didn't like the characters.  And that's the author's point, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Skraelings: Clashes in the Old Arctic by Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley, Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley

Kannujaq is hunting.  He loves the Arctic:  The snow, the silence, the animals and his dogs.  He's very content alone.  He's an Inuit.  Then he happens upon a camp of Tuniits, a race of ancient Inuit ancestors known for their strength and shyness.  He would have avoided them completely, but they were being attacked!

Inhabit Media and Net Galley gave me the chance to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 1st, so make a note to get it then.

I've always had an interest in Eskimos.  I have been backpacking and living in the wilds but I didn't do it while it snowing (except once).  The Arctic is cold and unforgiving, the land doesn't give up much and the animals can kill you.  Surviving there takes special skill.  In this story, they have another group of enemies:  The Vikings.

The Tuniits took in and saved a Viking who was close to death.  When he recovered, he went back home.  However, he's come back and he keeps killing everyone in the camps except the children.  No one knows why.

Kannujaq is a young man but he alone comes up with a solution to save the camp.  They have to help him and it's bloody, but he has no choice.  It's kill or be killed.  As the lone Viking leader floats off in his boat with no crew and no way to guide the book, it's another sentence to death.  As he looks at the Viking leader he learns the reason why this Viking kept returning.  It's not just for the stolen goods the previous leader had hoarded.

The whole story is steeped in tradition and ways of the past.  It has an almost mystical feel.  I liked it a lot.  The authors did a very nice job with this.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Under Cold Stone, A Constable Molly Smith Mystery by Vicki Delany

Molly's mother, Lucky and her boyfriend, Paul, take a week's vacation and go to Banff.  Their only plan to relax and have fun until they run into Paul's estranged son.  When the son gets involved with murder, it gets even more complicated.  Especially since Paul is Molly's boss and a chief constable...

Poisoned Pen Press and Net Galley allowed me to download and read this story for review (thank you).  It will be published April 1st, so watch for it then at your local bookstore.

Lucky and Paul are testing the strength of their relationship.  Lucky is an old-time hippy and environmentalist.  Paul is a cop and enjoys outdoor activities.  They are not a likely couple, but they get along well and might be leaning towards marriage.  They just don't realize how a big a test this murder is going to be on their relationship and the relationships with their children.

Matt, Paul's son tries to bully Lucky when she's getting coffee, but she doesn't back down.  Then he and his friend find her in the restaurant and they come over to resume their nastiness.  When Paul returns from the restroom, he shuts that down immediately.  Then he's shocked to find out one of them is his son!  Needless to say, this wasn't a pleasant encounter and not much progress is made in resolving their problems.  Then Matt calls in the middle of the night to say his roommate is dead.  His father immediately responds but his son has split.

Lucky never leaves his side while he worries about his son and the murder.  His son said he didn't kill him, but why did he run?  Lucky then calls Molly and asks her to come and help.  Molly has no jurisdiction but she can do some investigating on her own.

This is well paced story with complex characters.  The author makes her characters human and makes you care for them.  I enjoyed the plot, too.  Several relationships got resolved in this story.

Happy reading.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes

In December of 1377, four children were burned to death in a house fire.

Campanile Press and Net Galley allowed me to download a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It was published in January, so you should be able to find a copy at your local bookstore now.

There were two things that made me want to read this book:  It was set in medieval times and the main character is woman passing herself off as a man.

The boys were dressed in their best clothes; the door to the house was tied shut from the outside.  Why were the boys there and who tied that knot?  Who set the fire?  The villagers are angry and want justice, so they decide to take the matter to their King to demand justice.

Never mind that they can't travel the land without permission and banner from the owner of the land.  Never mind that the bodies must be buried in a short period of time to comply with the law.  The roads are dangerous with bandits and slavers pouncing on anyone without protection.  It doesn't help that the villagers are fighting amongst themselves and letting old grievances raise their ugly heads.

She's a former nun, one of the dead boys was her son, and she's making the trip with them.  She's plays at being mute and draws as little attention as possible.  She has a back story about a love lost.  She also has suspicions about who had the ability to tie that strange knot that held the children in.  She trusts no one and she still gets betrayed.

I found this to be a fascinating tale.   There is subplot as well as the murder mystery.  You get the flavor of life back in the medieval times.  And there's a bit of fact within the story.  It made a nice mix.

The author's words have a good flow and the story line will keep you reading.  If you like history and a good mystery, this is a book for you.

Deadly Intent by Anna Sweeney

It started with an unconscious woman and ended with murder...

Severn House and Net Galley gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 1st and is the beginning of a new series.

The story was translated from Gaelic and is set in Ireland.  Nessa and her family let rooms in their house to vacationers and other visitors.  When the woman recovers, her husband accuses one of the visitors of assaulting her.  

Nessa is alone most of this story because her husband is attending to a dying aunt in another country.  She's upset and confused by some of the accusations (including one against her husband) and she sees the police following paths that don't lead to the right conclusions.  Her problem is that she's busy with the business and her children and it's hard to have time to think, much less investigate.

There's adultery, rape, gun running, drugs and more in this tale.  The murdered man's past caught up to him but it takes a lot of plodding down the trail to find the answer.  I'll be surprised if you find the murderer before it's disclosed in the book.  Why not give it a try and see?

Happy reading.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Mermaid and the Shoe by K. G. Campbell

King Neptune has 50 daughters.  They all have special talents except Minnow.  She doesn't do anything very well except ask questions.  She's so afraid she doesn't have any special talents...

Kids Can Press and Net Galley allowed me to download and read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 1st, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

This is a simple little story about a curious mermaid.  She keeps asking her father and her sisters questions and they don't have answers.  Then she finds an odd thing in the ocean.  It's red, it's strangely shaped, and her curiosity is killing her.  She visits the other animals in the ocean and asks them if they know what it is.  No one does.  As she travels along trying to find out, she answers her own earlier questions.  She also finds out what her little red treasure is.

This is a well done picture book for little ones that will make them smile when they see Minnow get named "The Explorer".  Do you have an explorer in your family?

Happy reading.

The Burning by Jane Casey

Someone is killing young women and attempting to burn their bodies after death.  There have been four deaths now and each attack is getting more and more violent.  Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan is determined to find the perpetrator and stop these killings.  What gives the DC the most trouble is a fifth death.  She's sure that it's copy cat crime, but no one else believes her.  Except maybe her partner...

Minotaur Books and Net Galley allowed me to download and read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published May 8th, so make a note to follow this new series.

This was an interesting read.  Maeve has to work with a man who doesn't like her much and gives her the ugly jobs.  Her partner, Rob Langton, is friendly.  As the story goes on, he discovers he actually loves her and that adds another complication to the case.  The characters involved in the murders are all a bit odd and more than one has mental problems.

Watching Maeve walk through the case, talk to those she can for details about the present and the past, and try to weed out what's important and what's not kept my attention.  This is not a simple mystery.  I enjoyed the odd twist at the end.  I'm also looking forward to seeing how Maeve and Rob get along now that they are an item.  They make a good team and I'm sure there will be more mysteries coming.