Friday, July 30, 2010

Scene Stealer by Elise Warner

He's only nine and he's missing. Is this a publicity ploy? Could his father have kidnapped him from his mother's custody? Or is this boy a victim of a sexual predator?

This book is from Carina Press and I downloaded it from Net Galley. I appreciate the opportunity to review it.

Augusta Weidenmaier is a retired schoolteacher who is going downtown to listen to the Philharmonic orchestra. She doesn't usually have the money for this sort of treat, so she's really looking forward to it.

Then she notices a very neat young man who looks familiar to her. She wonders why he's with such an unkempt older man during normal school hours. Then she realizes the child is the main character on the Cowboy Bob's Big Bad Burger ads. As she tries to follow them, the crowd slows her up. And when she gets close, she gets shoved into the street. She's heard the boy ask for her help, but by the time she recovers, they're long gone.

Consequently, when she hears on the news that the boy is missing, she does her duty and goes right down to the police station to report it. The Lieutenant does not seem to be impressed with her story, but he listens. Then he sends her home.

When he won't return her calls and she thinks they are on the wrong track, she sets out to do her own investigating - much to the Lieutenant's dismay!

Augusta is not quite a Miss Marple, but she's certainly willing to do what it takes to help the young fellow. She even goes into acting so she has better access to the stage and can learn the backstage gossip.

There are ruthless people all through this story and you're not real sure who the protagonist is even though you learn who the kidnapper is fairly soon.

This is a light mystery read, and I enjoyed it. Perfect for a beach read or a rainy day read. The book comes in a Mobipocket reader format or an Adobe reader format. Get yourself a copy now.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thomas and the Dragon Queen by Shutta Crum

This is a fun read! Forget anything you ever heard about dragons, this one is different. And so's the princess...

Knopf Delacorte Dell Young Readers Group, a Random House division, sent me this book for review. The illustrator is Lee Wildish and I fell in love with the picture on the front cover. Those within the body of the book are also great and will help keep your young reader's attention. This is meant to be a step up from leveled readers and is for the 7-10 age group.

12-year-old Thomas is the oldest child in a large family, and spends a good part of his day watching the other children. When they all go down to the creek to bathe, they suddenly see a tired knight riding down the middle of the creek heading for the baby. As Thomas runs to save her, one of his brothers throws a rock at the horse and ends up scaring the horse and upending the knight. This is how Thomas meets Sir Gerald.

Once Sir Gerald meets the family, he offers to take Thomas to the castle and teach him to be a squire. He hates to leave his family, but to be taught at the castle is a dream the family never thought would come true.

Thomas is small for his age, and the other squires make fun of him. He longs to be a Knight, but doubts he'll ever be able to qualify for it.

Then the Dragon Queen captures Princess Eleanor... Thomas has a crush on her, all the Knights are out protecting the borders, who will help the Princess?

When he finds the King alone, depressed, and almost crying because of the loss of his daughter, Thomas volunteers to find her and vanquish the dragon. The King accepts.

When he takes his small sword, the small donkey still left in the stable and his leather vest his father made him, he has no idea what trials and tribulations he will have to go through to get to his destination. Nor does he have any idea what he's going to find when he finally locates the Princess.

Thomas is a loveable underdog who will not give up despite his size and his limited physical abilities. He learns to use his brains and he's kind and good in his adventure.

Does this keep him from being fried by the dragon? You'll have to read the book to see...

You can tell the author is a storyteller. This story has a very good flow and will keep the reader turning pages.

This book is currently for sale at your local bookstore. Get a copy for that young fantasy reader in your life.

Cowboy Slim by Julie Danneberg

Poor Cowboy Slim... He's a young boy who wants to do the round up with the older cowboys, but he has troubles all along. He even ends up in the saddle backwards!

Charlesbridge Publishing sent me this softcover picture book to review. I live in cowboy country, so I was sure it would be fun to read.

Cowboy Slim loves to write poetry. I know my bookstore has one whole bookcase filled with cowboy poetry, so this isn't really an oddity. But the other cowboys think he's wimpy because he'd rather do poetry than pursue the good talents you need on the range. Like roping, riding a horse well, and using a whip to keep the animals in line.

Of course, Cowboy Slim has lots of calamities and has to be rescued several times. You begin to wonder if he's ever going to make it as a cowboy.

Then there's stampede and all the other cowboys (and cowgirl) end up almost run down by the cows. Cowboy Slim catches up to the herd and finds that if he uses his poetry to talk to them, they calm down.

Slim's not the perfect cowboy yet, but he is fittin' in a bit better. And now the other cowpokes are starting to do some writing, too.

The illustrations are by Margot Apple, and just right for the 4-7 year old readers. This would also be a fun book for reading aloud. It's for sale right now at your local bookstore.

Share a little history with your child and let them learn about riding the range. It even has a glossary at the back for the buckaroo talk!

Monday, July 26, 2010

While Galileo Preys by Joshua Corin

Imagine a serial killer who sets up scenes that require rescue by public safety personnel and then kills them all with a sniper rifle...

This was an e-book from Mira through Net Galley, and I chose this book because it was a mystery. It's also a thriller!

It is a fast paced story that begins and ends with murder. The killer leaves notes in shoeboxes, likes to play janitor to set up the kill, and moves swiftly and carefully with no clues to his identity.

The FBI enter the case early, but they dearly need a team member back to help with this case. Esme resigned her job when she married because she wanted a family and wanted to be there to raise her child. But when her previous boss calls and asks for help, she feels torn. She wants to help, but she doesn't want to leave her family. However, her personal skill they need is that she can think "out of the box" and can look at the case in a unique way. They want to end this killer's spree right away.

The problem is that the killer doesn't want to be stopped. And while the FBI is out trying to capture him in a stakeout, he's in the building with Esme and coming after her while she's calmly sitting in an office reading paperwork about the case...

This pace continues throughout the book and it's a very good read. I highly recommend this book.

The book will be published in paperback in September. Mark it on your calendars, and be sure to pick you up a copy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Once Wicked Always Dead by T. Marie Benchley

Molly Madison's life is falling apart. First both her parents are killed in a car accident and then she finds out her husband is gay. With the loss of her parents and a divorce pending, she moves to Montana to take over her family ranch. But it's not going to be easy.

She has to prove to the ranchhands that she knows how to run the ranch, a competitor wants to buy her out and starts harassing her to make sell, she's falling in love with her foreman, and there's an big family secret she doesn't know yet...

The story is fast paced, moves along well, and kept my interest to the end. Ms. Benchley's characters are complicated enough to make them realistic and strong when they need to be.

And if Molly's life wasn't already complicated enough, there is a serial killer working her way towards to her...

Atlas Books provided me with an ARC of this book for review. It will be published in September.

If you would like my copy of this book, please follow the two steps below:

1) Leave a comment here on my blog.

2) Email me at info @ (take out the spaces) with your name and address and why you'd like to read this book.

I'll pick a winner in about a week.

Windblowne by Stephen Messer

Can you imagine flying a a different world?

Random House Children's Books sent me this book for review, and I'm very glad I read it. It's an exciting well-written tale that will keep you glued to your seat and turning pages.

Mr. Messer has a great imagination and creates a story sure to tantalize young minds and give them things to think about after they have finished reading the story.

It all starts with Oliver trying to build a kite that will actually fly. After all, the kite flying festival is only days away and he really wants to be able to compete this year. It seems all of his kites crash into the ground, though. So his only hope is his great-uncle Gilbert, who is a former champion. He's sure that with one of Gilbert's kites he'll be able to become one of the legendary fliers.

His great-uncle is reclusive and his parents don't want him to bother Gilbert. So he sneaks out at night and goes to plead his case. While he's there, his great-uncle is attacked by kites that fly all by themselves and they carry him off.

Now what's Oliver to do? When he picks up the red kite and tries to follow his great-uncle's route, he finds himself flying into a parallel world, where he and Gilbert are duplicated and living different lives!

The second Gilbert is evil, and Oliver must flee to another world yet. Will he find his great uncle? Will he be able to get back home?

No matter what happens, Oliver's life will never be the same again.

This young adult fantasy was great fun to read. It's written for ages 8-12. Let your young one fall into the story and "see" those other worlds. They'll be rooting for Oliver!

This book is on sale now, visit your local bookstore and pick up a copy.

Brave Donatella and the Jasmine Thief by Caroline McAlister

This is a charming picture book published by Charlesbridge (who provided my review copy) and illustrated by Donald Hendricks.

Mr. Hendricks' illustrations give the story a visual life that carries the reader along page by page.

The story is based on a legend about the real Duke Cosimo, who collected plants for his garden and guarded them jealously. No one was allowed to share their beauty - they belonged to HIM.

Antonio was a foolish gardener who was in love with Donatella, but had nothing to offer her in marriage. He wanted to give her a gift that was as unique as she was to him, so he stole a sprig of jasmine. Of course, the Duke discovers his loss and he imprisons the youth.

Donatella is brave and also loves Antonio, so she works on a way to save him...

There is a section at the back of the book that goes into the history of the Duke and offers a bibliography for further reading.

While this story is based on a real person, it reads a lot like a fairy tale and children will enjoy the story. This book is currently available at your local bookstore. Share a copy with those you love.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Green Pieces: Green From the Pond Up by Drew Aquilina

Do you like cartoons? How about laughing out loud? This book will make you do that.

This collection of cartoons is published by Five Star Publications (thanks for the review copy) and is suitable for both young adults and adults.

His cartoon characters are cute, quite human in their responses, and quite silly sometimes. The basic underlying theme is to stress environmental protection and show you how even the smallest ecological change can effect the animals in the pond.

Iggy (Iggman) the turtle who is happy with the simple life, Radic the dragonfly who is radical, Cabby the frog whose DNA changed while he a tadpole and now he's super smart (and a bit unhinged), and Roc the raccoon.

I have to admit Roc is my favorite character. He's big bad boy who steals his food just like real raccoons do and he's always in trouble.

The messages are subtle and mixed with enough humor it's fun to read the cartoons. Who knows what the mixed up group from the pond will do next?

If you would like my review copy of the book, follow these steps:

1) Leave a comment here on the blog.

2) Email me at info @ (take out the spaces) and give me your name and address and tell me why you'd like to read it.

I'll pick a winner in about a week.

Excuse Me... Are You a Witch? Emily Horn

Herbert just wants a home. And don't witches own black cats? Maybe he can get adopted!

This is a children's book published by Charlesbridge. I reviewed the softcover edition. (It was originally published in the UK in 2002 by Siphano Picture Books Ltd, London.) It is illustrated by Pawel Pawlak and Herbert is really cute and will catch the little one's eyes. Children 1-4 years of age will most enjoy this tale.

Herbert lives on the street and longs for a home. He can visit the library and read (that illustration alone is worth the price of the book), but he wants a real, true home. Since he knows witches have black cats as companions, he sets out to find himself a witch.

Of course, he asks all the wrong people. Children will laugh at the people he questions and their reactions.

After a fruitless hunt, poor Herbert heads back to the library. And while he's moping about there, he suddenly sees a witch's hat...

This is a easy to read, fun story for the young ones that won't scare them. If they love cats, they'll love Herbert. You will, too.

In Plain View by J. Wachowski

Finding a body hanging from a tree in Amish country is incongruous. Amish beliefs don't include suicide. Nor do they approve of murder. But this victim had not yet been baptized as an Amish member. He was working for the local fire department and living in town in an apartment. Was it suicide or murder?

This book is available in digital form and can be downloaded from Carina Press. It was released in June, so it's available for download now.

How the Amish live has always intrigued me, so I wanted to read this mystery and see what more I could learn about their lifestyle and beliefs. The author does a good job of using some Amish terms and explaining their meaning and showing the conflict between Amish beliefs and practices and "Englischers". You feel empathy for the young man who faces these conflicts and loves a young Amish woman. You can feel his conflict.

The lead character is a strong woman journalist who has been all over the world visiting the latest horrors and taking pictures that chill other people. When her sister is killed by a hit and run driver, she has to come back and take care of her niece. She gets a job at the local TV station, and this death is her first big story.

The book flows well, has plenty of action in it along with a lot of complex issues. It was an enjoyable read. And you'll learn a lot about journalism, too!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rocky Road by Rose Kent

Do you like ice cream? You'll love this book if you do.

This book is currently for sale in local bookstores. The copy I reviewed came from Knopf Delacorte Dell Young Readers Group, a division of Random House Children's Books. It's for young adults between the ages of 8-12.

Tess is not at all happy to find out her mother is moving the family from Texas to a run-down town in New York to open an ice cream shop. Who wants to buy ice cream when it's snowing outside?

Ms. Kent's characters are "real" and it's easy to get involved in the story. Tess' mother is bi-polar and the effects of the disease on her are accurately depicted. Tess also has a deaf brother, so between her Ma's ups and downs and moving to a new town and a new school, Tess is very busy keeping up with the family members. Not to mention the new ice cream shop.

You see her sense of responsibility, her mother's buoyancy while she's feeling positive, and you get a sense of the community spirit blooming in this new town that wasn't there when they first arrived.

While they may get discouraged, Ms. Kent's characters are strong and don't give up. And the descriptions of the ice cream flavors Ma creates will make your mouth water...

I think young readers will enjoy reading how they overcome their challenges. There's humor in the story to keep it from being too intense. When I finished this book, I was hoping the author would write a sequel. I'd like to see what Tess and her family conquer next...

Melonhead and the Big Stink by Katy Kelly

Have you ever wanted to do something so badly that you'll make sacrifices to get it? I'm sure it wasn't because you wanted to go see the Titan Arum "Bunga Bangkai" plant...

This book is amusing, full of silly antics, humor and typical young boy traits. It was released on June 8,2010 and is available in your local bookstore. My copy was provided by Knopf Delacorte Dell Young Readers Group, which is a division of Random House Children's Books. It's written for ages 8-12 and is especially suitable for boys. It is illustrated by Gillian Johnson.

Melonhead and his best friend Sam like to play and have fun, but for some reason they always seem to get in trouble. Melonhead's mother even gives him a list of things he's NOT to do again - and she keeps adding to it!

Ms. Kelly does a good job of presenting realistic children in life situations we're all familiar with. Her writing has a good flow and there is enough going on to keep young readers reading. She also has a few life lessons in the story about older folks living alone and how the young and the old can learn things from each other.

The central point in this story is that Melonhead and Sam want to go to New York City to see this plant that is twelve feet tall, weights a hundred pounds, and smells like dead mammals - plus rot, plus spoiled food. It only blooms once every seven years, so they HAVE to go now. And they try to make it possible by buttering up Melonhead's father. How most of their ideas for being good and considerate and kind go wrong makes for good reading.

Middle-grade readers should really enjoy this one. I found it a fun read!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane by C M Millen

Illustrated by Andrea Wisnewski. Charlesbridge provided my review copy. This is a beautiful picture book with illustrated endpapers. It is unpaginated.

Theophane is a young monk who, along with the other monks in the monastery, copies wise words in calligraphy into text in books. They use simple brown ink that is easy to make, they wear brown robes, they sit at brown desks, and Theophane spends more time looking at the window at the colors of nature then he does working. He loves the beauty of the world.

When he is assigned to make ink, he experiments with colors. And soon the books are full of color and no longer all boring brown!

The pictures in the book are vibrant and full of detail. The illustrations provide examples of the items mentioned in the text. The font used is similar to calligraphy and adds to the charm of the story.

At the end of the book, there is an Author's Note that gives you more history about monasteries and copying books. There is also reference to books and websites that show you how to make your hawthorn bark ink, experiment with extracting colors with plants, and tell you how illuminated manuscripts were made.

Not only is it a joy to read, your child can learn from it, too. I highly recommend this book.

Fatal Undertaking by Mark D Castrique

This is the fifth book in the Buryin' Barry mystery series, and I really enjoyed reading it. Poison Pen Press provided the ebook I used for review. The book will be coming out in October, 2010.

The characters are enjoyable. You have a one-eyed Sheriff, Barry's ex-wife and current girlfriend, and the small idiosyncrasies that always abound in small towns when everyone knows everybody else.

And since the first chapter begins with Archie trying to borrow a casket for the haunted Halloween house, it grabs your attention and is not in the least bit boring!

When the body (person) that sits up in the casket to frighten people turns up dead at the end of the evening, there's no end of potential suspects. The plot is well thought out and not obvious.

In the meantime, there's lots of action with Archie being shot at, Barry's ex and the girlfriend making him dinner one night, and the problem with Rachel (the ex) following him around all the time trying to get a journalistic scoop.

It's a fast paced, entertaining read. I'd read more in this series. If you've already been reading them, you have a new one to look forward to!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Misadventures of a Roving Cartoonist by Tom Gill

Subtitle: The Lone Ranger's Secret Sidekick. Tom Gill's stories written with Tim Lasiuta. Book provided by the publisher, Five Star Publications.

Unless you're very young, you have to be familiar with the Lone Ranger. White hat, black mask, and a beautiful white horse named Silver. And his faithful sidekick, Tonto.

I remember both the comics and a TV show from the past, but I never thought about the man writing the comic or creating the Lone Ranger. Reading this book straightened that out.

Tom Gill was self-taught in art. He actually got his start in making maps when the war broke out in Pearl Harbor. He also visited the troops several times and made sketches of the boys in the service overseas. He had a few adventures of his own on those travels, too.

He drew more than 135 Lone Ranger comic books. He also taught at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School in New York City.

Tom's memories are filled with fun and show you the nature of this good steady man. I enjoyed reading this book.

There is also a section at the back with information about the other cartoonists on the USO tours or that he worked with through the years. For me, it was like a trip down memory lane.

If you'd like my copy of this book, here are two steps to get in the drawing:

1) Leave a comment here on the blog.

2) Email me at info @ (take the spaces out) and give me your name and address and tell me why you'd like to read it.

I'll pick a winner in about a week.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sock 'n Boots Share by D K Smith

This book was sent to me for review by the author, and it was a pleasure to look it over.

It's a picture book for young children that has charming characters. It would appeal to those in the 1-4 age group.

The book begins with a question, tells the story with a lesson about life, and ends with a question that leads into a discussion of what they just read and what it meant. It will also reinforce the lesson.

In this story, Sock's lunch gets eaten by birds, so they "share".

The characters are cute, the message is important, and I'm sure you'll get some very interesting discussion in groups.

This book would be good for a daycare center or anyplace that children gather.

You can buy a copy at Visit the author's website at for info about additional books that will be published in this series.

The next one scheduled talks about being scared of the dark - and that was one of my biggest frights as child. I'm looking forward to reading that one, too!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dancing Feet by Lindsey Craig

This delightful children's picture book was sent to me from Knopf Delacourte Dell Young Reader's Group for review. Marc Brown is the illustrator and I always enjoy his artwork. This book is no exception.

This is a story for children from 1-4, and they will love it! First you see the feet and hear the sounds of the creature's feet. Then the next page shows which creature it is and they dance about in vibrant colors.

Little ones will be fascinated by the colors and will like the sounds of the feet. You'll most likely be hearing those sounds after the book is closed, too...

An excerpt from the book: "Thumpity! Thumpity! Furry brown feet! Who is dancing that thumpity beat?" Can you guess which animal this is?

The book would also be great for reading aloud to a daycare group or your own young family. Let your older children read it to the young ones, soon the young ones will be reading it to you.

Buy yourself a copy and make reading a treat for your little one.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Gecko & Sticky The Power Potion by Wendelin Van Draanen

This delightful book was provided to me by Knopf Delacourte Dell Young Reader's Group, and it was great fun to read.

It's written for ages 8-12, and has enough silly actions and excitement to keep a young reader's attention. With a magic potion, bathroom jokes, a gecko, a monkey, inept bad guys, and a typical young man, how could it be boring???

While this is the fourth book in this series, it's the first one I've read. It was easy to pick up on the story line and you began to anticipate trouble before you even get past chapter one.

There's an evil man, his pet tarantulas and some six horned goats if I haven't grabbed your attention yet! And he wants that magic potion...

This book is good for reluctant readers and any child with an imagination and a sense of humor. It's also fun to read even if you aren't a child.

This book is on the bookstore shelves now, go get yourself a copy!

Long Road to the Circus by Betsy Bird, David Small (Illustrated by)

Suzy is tired of boring summers.  Then she finds out there is a retired circus performer living in her area.  She also finds that her Uncle ...