Monday, November 29, 2010

Death of a Chimney Sweep by M C Beaton

Hamish is still Hamish.  A bit slow and bumbling, not able to decide between his two girlfriends, and with his same weird pets.  I'm glad, I wouldn't want him to change.

Grand Central Publishing sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It is due to be published at the end of February, 2011, in hardcover.  This is the 27th book in this series, so if you haven't met Hamish, you can find some earlier editions to keep you busy until February.

Nobody really minded when the Colonial was found dead in his chimney, but Hamish can't believe the chimney sweep killed him.  He was too laid back, too good tempered to do such a thing.  And when they find Pete's body out on the moors, it seems he was probably right about that.

The Colonial was relatively new to the community, but he liked to bully his wife and dabbled in money games.  The most likely suspects have solid alibis.  Hamish knows it must have been one of them, but how?

There are a lot of similar elements in this book.  Elspeth and Patricia are still around, his muddling superior is still there, and Hamish still sneaks away to do his own sleuthing.  They are all like old friends to me and make the read more enjoyable.

It's an intriguing plot and there are little subplots to add to the overall flavor of the book.  The author does tend to play "God" a bit in the ending, but it does make you feel better to know none of the bad folks win.

Grab a cup of tea or coffee, sit by the fire, and read a cozy mystery that is light but good.   I wonder what Hamish will run across next?

Happy reading!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Spray by Harry Edge

Imagine a game of assassins using water pistols with the last man (or woman) standing being the winner...

Spray has been published by Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of MacMillan, and they sent me a copy of the trade paperback for review (thank you). This book is now available at your local bookstore. 

The author lives in the UK and there is taste of "Englishness" in the writing.  The story has a bit of British spy intrigue in it.  It fits well and is an enjoyable read!

The characters are a varied group of teens who didn't know each other all that well when they joined in the competition.  Some of those eliminated early in the game, team up with their assassin and work with them.  Some are distractions, some are fact finders, and some some use skills to aid to them while others use their brain to find the best place to catch their victim outside.  There are rules.  The ploys they use are amazing.  I'm not sure I could be that creative. 

There is also another underlying plot that is part of the game, but not directly.  It adds some spice to the story.

This is written for ages 11 and up.  Any young reader who loves action movies or games should enjoy reading this story.  Visit your local bookstore and pick up a copy, it's a good read.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

In today's novels for young adults, it's not unusual to run across vampires and warlocks.  But gods?

Simon Pulse provided me with an eGalley of this book for review (thank you).  It will be published in hardcover in February.

I found this read very entertaining, in a horrific kind of way.  The main portion of the story is set in New Orleans, a city I love, and that's a city of legend in the real world.  It was very easy for me to believe that other worldly beings live there.  After all, they have voodoo, don't they?

All Ari wants to know is know who her mother was and why she gave her up for adoption.  What she finds out is that women in her family all die or kill themselves right around age 21.  Her mother isn't alive, she also died at that age - by suicide.  Since Ari is 17, she needs to find out why.

Trying to dig deeper into the story of her family, she goes to New Orleans to find more answers.  What she finds is more danger than she can handle alone.

When a complete stranger saves her, she finds herself attracted to him.  But she knows there's something different about him and can't figure out what it is.  She soon discovers there's more to her than she realized also...

Ms. Keaton keeps the action going, introduces many interesting characters and will keep young adults glued to this story to see how it turns out.  I highly recommend this story.  I wasn't sure if I would like it, and I love it.  Give a try and see what you think.

Also, it ended in a manner that leads me to believe there will be a sequel.  And I'm looking forward to seeing where she takes the tale next.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Choker by Elizabeth Woods

Zoe was Cara's best friend.  When her family moved, Cara really missed her.  She was very happy to see her return - at first...

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers sent me an eGalley to review (thank you).  This book will be published in hardcover in January.  It's for ages 14 and up.

This book chilled me.  I couldn't have stopped reading it if I wanted to - it was too gripping, the story too frantic.  I had to know how it was going to end.

Cara is in high school and is facing the usual bantering and bullying of school days.  She's not happy about, but she's dealing with it.  The author does an excellent job of drawing you into the story.  It's just a normal tale about a young girl growing up and maturing into a young lady.  Until Zoe shows up...

Zoe has run away from home, won't talk about where she came from or what happened, and lives in Cara's bedroom.  Cara is happy to see her, but Zoe is different.  She finds out how different as time goes on.

When girls in Cara's class suddenly show up dead or missing, the plot gets even more interesting.

I won't give away the ending, but I can highly recommend this book.  I never suspected the murderer.  I had to wait for a while to write this review because the story touched me.  It's a good read - get a copy for your young adult or feel free to read it yourself.  I'm going to watch for a copy for my own personal library.  It's well worth reading again.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell

It's your first year of high school and you just want to be like everyone else.  You know, be normal.  But that's hard to do with goat poop on your shoe...

Atheneum, a division of Simon & Schuster, allowed me to download a e-galley for review (thank you).  This book will be published at the end of March, 2011.  It's a young adult novel.

I struggled to make the transition from St. Joseph's parochial school to a public high school, and it was hard for me.  So I can understand Janie's fear of being "different" and how hard it can be to be accepted by the other students who already know each other and have friends.  And poor Janie has another problem besides going to a new school and not having any previous classmates in any of her classes but one; she has farm chores before she comes to school...

As with any teen, she's growing and experiencing different emotions.  She's not sure if she's weird or if the others are.  And she doesn't want to lose the one good friend she already has. 

Ms. Dowell does a very good of making her characters' emotions honest.  The challenges they face are normal life challenges and how they handle them depends on their personalities.  She also introduces the reader (and her characters) to the older generation in town and you learn a bit about the Freedom School they started.

Janie even meets a guy she likes.  His name is Monster.  No, really, it is!

Young adults should really enjoy reading this book and watching Janie trying to be normal.  There is plenty to hold their interest and it's an enjoyable read.

Add it to your "TBR" list and check for it at the end of March.  Ms. Dowell has other books out in the market now if you'd like to grab one and taste her writing style while waiting.  Just visit your local bookstore.

Happy reading!

Dragon, Dragon by John Gardner

Like reading fairy tales?  Here are four non-traditional tales to amuse you.

I downloaded this ebook from Net Galley.  Open Road published it the first part of November as an Adobe Reader edition.  I like fantasy, so thought I'd check out this children's middle school book.  Michael Sporn is the illustrator.  It was first published in 1975, this is the most recent edition.

Mr. Gardner does not write charming, simple tales.  He offers his characters more challenges, gives them human character faults, and offers you a fresh way to look at fairy tales.

There's a meddlesome dragon, a fearful tailor, a mule who's too smart for his own good, and a brave little chimney sweep.  The stories are short, but entertaining.

Why not download a copy and share it with your child.  Maybe they can come up with some fantasy stories of their own to share with you!

Happy reading.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Coming of the Dragon by Rebecca Barnhouse

Rune washed ashore in a boat as a baby with only a sword and a pendant in the boat with him.  The warriors want to send him back out in the boat or kill him, but the King tells them no.  Who is he and why did he end up on this shore?

Random House Books for Young Readers sent a hardcover of this book to me for review (thank you).  The author wrote this story based on the legend of Beowolf.  I found this book much more "user-friendly" than the old classic tale.

Rune is named after the runes on the pendant that arrived with him.  He's given to a lone woman in the village who lives on a farm with a farmer and his sons.  She does the housework and cooks, Rune works for the farmer to help pay for their stay.

Amma won't let him train to be a warrior.  She only lets him visit the palace in the winter (when farm duties are less) and that's minimal training.  She does educate him at home with her knowledge from the past and her vision of the future.  She doesn't share her vision of the future with him, but he's content with that.  Amma has always been a bit different...

Then everyone's worst nightmare comes to pass.  Someone awakens a dragon, who has no love for humans.  Rune sees the dragon and tries to warn the king - but he's too late.  And when he goes back to the farm, he finds he's too late there, too.

The death of the only mother he's ever known inspires him to pick up the sword that accompanied him in the boat and to begin his quest to kill the ravaging dragon...

This is a much better read than Beowolf.  Rune is a young untried warrior and he has no home or family to care about him.  His quest does not start out well.  Ms. Barnhouse's characters are solid and they all show hidden secrets as time goes on.

I really enjoyed reading this one even if I wasn't sure I would when I started the book.  Ms. Barnhouse also has written The Book of the Maidservant.

Visit your local bookstore and check out The Coming of the Dragon.  It's a good read about medieval times and it has lots of action to keep you reading.

Happy reading!

Third Degree by Maggie Barbieri

Maggie stops at coffee shop and witnesses a brawl where one participant dies.  But when his car blows up next, it doesn't seem like his death was so accidental after all...

I won this book in a drawing done by Minotaur Books.  It's a Murder 101 Mystery and Ms. Barbieri has four earlier books in this series.  This one read fine as a stand alone.

Maggie's boyfriend is trying to get her to accept his proposal of marriage.  She's been burned before and is hesitant.  And she's pretty sure the other brawler was not the killer.  So now she's snooping about to see who might have a had a reason to kill Carter.  The list isn't short.  He's a food blogger who had nothing nice to say about anyone in town.

The plot in this mystery has an unusual killer, which made it even more interesting to read.  It's a cozy type mystery and an enjoyable read.

Visit your local bookstore and check this book out.  Look over the others in the series, too.  You might want to start at the beginning.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tangled Rapunzel's Tale by Barbara Bazaldua

Have you ever heard the story of Rapunzel from her side?  Here's your chance...

This is a Stepping Stones chapter book based on the new movie coming out from Disney (thank you for my review copy).  It's illustrated by Dave Gilson and Jean-Paul Orpinas and in gorgeous, colorful graphics.

You can read the book before you see the movie or live the movie again each time you read the story, your choice.  It's a beginning chapter book, so your younger child will be able to read it with ease.

This tale (as with all retellings) is a bit different than any other version I've read.  Rapunzel still has long hair, but it's magical, too.  And instead of a prince saving her, she meets Flynn Rider - who is really a rogue!

It's a fun fantasy story that young ones will enjoy.  Introduce them to this new version of Rapunzel and then perhaps dig out an old classical version of it and let them see the difference.  Fairy tales change over the years.  This is a good opportunity to let them see the change themselves.

You can find it now at your local bookstores.  Get a copy and read Rapunzel's story!

Happy reading.

Lucy and the Green Man by Linda Newbery

If you read any mythology, you're sure to have run into the Green Man before.  Here is how he is described, in part, on Wikipedia:  " Found in many cultures around the world, the Green Man is often related to natural vegetative deities springing up in different cultures throughout the ages. Primarily it is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, or "renaissance," representing the cycle of growth each spring."

This is a David Fickling Book out in hardcover now (thank you for my review copy).  It's a middle grade reader for ages 8-12.

I found this to be a wonderful story about a child who loves her grandfather and his garden and who can "see" the little green man who helps him with his gardening chores.  Her parents and her grandmother think it's all make believe, but she and Grandpa Will know better.

When her grandfather suddenly dies of a heart attack and her grandmother sells the cottage, it almost breaks her heart.  Especially when a developer takes it over and clears the land for new housing.  Where will the little green man go?  Will she ever see him again?

Ms. Newbery is very good at expressing the joy of working outdoors in the garden and watching things grow.  The child misses the garden almost as much as her grandfather.  While the green man is travelling to find the right place to call home, Lucy is beginning to create her own garden and trying to recover the joy she shared in it with her grandfather.

A bit of fantasy and magic, lots of love, and belief in the future make this book full of hope rather than sadness.

Why not visit your local bookstore today and pick up a copy?  It's a good read and children should enjoy watching for their own little green man.  (You can even find him in the city, don't despair.)

Happy reading.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blown Away by Nancy Mehl

Hilde Higgins is back.  And now her boyfriend has been accused of murder...

Net Galley provided me with an ebook for review and Barbour Publishing will be publishing a trade paperback on February 1, 2011.  (Thank you both.)

This is the second book in this series and I'd already read and enjoyed the first one, so I had to see what sort of mess Hilde gets in this time.

Ms. Mehl writes a nice cozy mystery with a Christian theme.  She also does well with creating unique plots.  I enjoyed this read.

Hilde is a beautician, but her customers are mortuaries and their dead who need a "spruce up" to make them look nice.  Her boyfriend is a stockbroker who works as clown in an organization that does good works.

When Hilde runs an errand for Adam, she visits the cemetery to make sure they have the clown hat for the funeral of a Clowns for Christ member.  Instead she finds another dead clown in the resting place dug for the first death.  And then the cemetery groundskeeper says he say Adam's car there earlier...

The police are happy to accept an easy conclusion.  Hilde wonders if she wrong in reading Adam's character.  And if she wants to know for sure, she's going to have to do her own investigation.

Ms. Mehl's characters are colorful, opinionated, and just like real life.  I enjoy her work and I enjoyed this read.  Get yourself her first book, Missing Mabel, and get to know Hilde.  Then grab this new one in February and find out how exciting her life can get. 

Happy reading!

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase has been banned from faery land.  She might be half-elf, but she fell in love with the wrong faery and got thrown out of the kingdom.  So why was she invited back?

This is Book Three in the Iron Fey series and I got my ebook copy from Net Galley and Harlequin (thank you).  The book will be published at the end of January.

If you have not read any of the earlier books in this series (or even if you have), you're in for a treat.  This is the land of fey, with Puck, magic, three warring sides and impossible love.  All Ms. Kagawa characters are strong, committed to their causes, and often have conflicts between themselves.

Meghan is summoned back to the land of the fey because she's the only one who has the mixed powers needed to defeat the false Iron King.  She's already found out she can't go home.  Home is no longer home when you've become part of the fey.  She'd bring trouble upon her family.  But her new quest might kill her, her lover and her friend.  However, she really doesn't have any choice...

The story is fast paced and a very good read.  The story didn't end how I would have liked it, but it sets up a new tale for the next book.

I highly recommend this series if you like fantasy and the fey.  I thoroughly enjoy reading Ms. Kagawa books.  Why not visit your local bookstore and get the first two in the series?  Then you'll be up to speed when Book #3 hits the shelves.  I know I'm already looking forward to Book #4, The Iron Knight.

Happy reading!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

It's Christmas Eve and Kate's Mom wakes her and tells her to take care of her younger sister and brother.  The man standing in the doorway behind her says:  "It's time."  And away they go from life as they know it...

This hardcover book will be published in April, 2011.  Alfred A Knopf sent me an ARC to review (thank you).  This is the first in the Book of Beginnings Trilogy.  I'm already waiting for book number two.

Kate, MIchael and Emma have no idea what happened to their parents, but they are well aware that as "orphans" they are having trouble being placed in a home.  When they are suddenly accepted - all three - with no hesitation, it gives them pause.  And when they find out where they will now be living, they get a little scared. It's some sort of old mansion and it has hidden rooms.

This is fantasy at its finest.  There's a witch, a magician, dwarves, screechers, time travel and an emerald atlas.  How are these three small children going to survive their adventures, especially since they are learning everything on the run and by making mistakes?  But if they don't, they'll never find their parents again.

Once I picked this book up, I couldn't put it back down until I was finished reading it.  It's very fast paced, you have to pay attention to how all the characters relate to each other, to how the time periods overlap, and how three small children with no experience stumble along and try to figure out how to deal with the impossible situations they find themselves in.

I found it tantalizing and fun to read.  I highly recommend this series.  I can't wait to see what happens in the next book.  I know it won't be slow and boring.

Watch for this one to appear in your local bookstores next April.  Happy reading!

Ice Claw by David Gilman

Max is competing in an X-treme sports challenge in the French Pyrenees when he witnesses a man skiing for his life - and losing to a rifle shot...

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers sent me a hardcover of this book for review (thank you).  This is the sequel to The Devil's Breath.  It is currently available in your local bookstore, as is the first book.

I had not read the first book in the series, but this book snared me after a few pages and it read well alone.  This is an eco-adventure and has a very detailed plot.  Astronomy, math, a potential disaster and evil make it an interesting read.

Mr. Gilman's Max is a very strong character.  He goes all out in his sports and he has enough inner strength to keep on after his father has suffered a terrible injury and has lost part of his memory. 

When the skier (who is a Basque Monk) gives him a few cryptic words before his death, he knows they must be important.  When people start trying to kill him, he realizes he's right.  But when you're in a foreign country with limited friends and don't know who you can trust, how do you find out what those words mean or why they are important?

Soon, he's framed for the Monk's death.  And that makes his troubles even worse.

You'll be following along with Max, worrying with him about staying alive and wondering if he'll ever solve the mystery.

This would be great for reluctant readers who have trouble getting involved in a book. It's also a good read for those who like unexpected mysteries that are difficult to solve.

Visit your local bookstore and find a copy of this before they sell out.  It's for ages 11 and up. 

Happy reading!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Imogene's Antlers by David Small

This author definitely has a sense of humor and a wonderful imagination!

Crown Books for Young Readers sent me this hardcover picture book for review (thank you).  This is a new edition on the 25th anniversary of the original publication.

If you've never read this book, you MUST pick up a copy.  It's a wonderful book.

Imogene wakes up one morning with antlers on her head!  She has all kinds of problems dressing, moving around, and even trying to get out of the house.  Her mother faints.  Her family, friends and even the school principal try to figure out how to "fix it", but no one has any answers.  The cook and kitchen maid find all kind of things the antlers are good for:  drying clothes, feeding the birds, and more.

It's a silly, fun story that is a delight to read.  Let your children come up with other ideas of how Imogene could use her horns.

And the ending is the most fun.  She woke up without her antlers, but wait until you see what she has now...  (Her mother faints again.)

This anniversary edition is now available at your local bookstore.  The suggested age range of readers is 4-8, but I think anyone would enjoy reading this cute book.  Go treat yourself to a really fun read with a girl character who is a good sport about things - even antlers.

Nini Lost and Found by Anita Lobel

Nini, a tabby cat, sneaks out of the house into the woods and gets lost...

Alfred A Knopf Books for Young Readers sent me a copy of this hardcover picture book for review (thank you).  It is currently available at your local bookstore and is for ages 4-8.

This is a simple tale of an indoor cat who escapes into the outdoors and loses her way back to the house.  Little ones will enjoy following along on the journey.  Dangerous animals are hidden in the woods and you have to look carefully to find them.  Nini's family comes looking for her and she makes it home safely.

The quiet lesson your children will learn is not to wander away alone; be careful and watch for danger; and, come home soon.  Let Nini help them learn that.

It also would work well for a read aloud book.  Let the children see if they can find the hidden animals before they come out to chase the cat. 

This is a nice light story that all children should enjoy.  Check it out at your local bookstore.  And happy reading!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sudan by Art Ayris and Ninie Hammon

This book will chill your soul and it's based on a true story.

Bookmasters sent me a copy of this Bay Forest trade paperback that is currently available at your local bookstore (thank you).  You can also get more info about buying it at Kingstone Media.   

The subtitle of this book is:  A Modern Day Tale of Slavery and Redemption.  These two authors present you with a startling look at present day Sudan and the atrocities going on there even now.  This reads like it should have come from biblical days, but unfortunately it did not.  The story is graphic and hard to read without crying, but it's true.  And that's the horror of it.

When raiders attack a remote village, they take as many slaves as they can gather, all young children.  Young virgins have a high value for the raiders, regardless of sex.  One very young girl's father is a simple Dinka farmer, but he sells everything he can and goes after his daughter.  He gets swindled and comes home defeated, but then the village rises to the occasion and gives him more animals and goods to sell and gets him back on the search.

There is rape, mass murder, kidnapped children, and human bondage in this story.  The Sudanese government won't help them.  So a lone father goes on his way,  ready to die if he can't save his little one.

While horrifying, I'm glad I read this book.  Now I better understand how things are in those small, poor African countries, and why George Clooney is trying to change things there.  Genocide and slavery are still alive.  It's a very sad statement about our world.

Buy yourself a copy and open your eyes.  It will make you happy you live where you do.

The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman

If you were housebound and watched the people in the park across from you, wouldn't you become suspicious when the young woman who walks her dog everyday suddenly disappears - especially when she leaves her dog behind in the park?

This is an Avon trade paperback that will be coming out in mid-January.  I got my ebook from Net Galley (thank you both).

Tess Monaghan is on bed rest due to her pregnancy.  She's a private eye by choice and her eyes are still working, even if she has to stay in bed.  When the lady in the green coat goes missing and she starts doing a bit of detecting, she finds the lady's husband has been married several times before.  And they've all died, from apparently natural causes.  Uh huh, what detective is going to buy that?

Tess gets her significant other to locate the missing dog, which gives her a lead to where to search, but no one wants the dog.  It quickly becomes apparent why.  It's nervy, pees anywhere, and likes no one.  The author must have some dog experience because the dog almost steals the story.  Who else has a dog that learns to pee in a chamber pot?

This story reminds me a bit of "Rear Window", but I was surprised to find out who the killer was.

The story pace is good, there are funny moments here and there, and it doesn't take you long to realize that Tess is just a bit too caught up in this, considering her condition.

The author has more books in this series, so you can always go pick up one or two to keep you busy until January, when this one will hit your local bookstore.  I'd recommend it to fellow mystery readers.  There's a bit of romance thrown in to keep you going, too.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Deadly Identity by Linday McKenna

She testified against him and is in the witness protection program.  But then he escapes from the jail...

Net Galley provided me a copy of this ebook to review.  The book is being published by Harlequin later this month.  (Thank you both for the opportunity to read it.)

Ms. McKenna does a very good job of expressing how fearful an abused woman can become.  They also learn not to trust.

When Susan almost dies from her latest beating and ends up losing her six month old baby, she's ready to do what she needs to get rid of Dirk.  She had no idea he was a drug dealer when she married him, but now all she wants is out.

Unfortunately, he escapes and she must be relocated with another new identity.  This time they send her to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  On her way to a new residence, she finds an SUV in the ditch and stops to help.  The sheriff arrives just after her and finds the driver dead and the baby in the backseat.  The driver was a widow and the sheriff is the baby's godfather - but his wife and child are dead and how he's going to take care of the baby and work?  Susan (now named Rachel) comes to his rescue.

Both characters are cautious, don't want to be hurt again, and don't want to trust again.  But with Dirk on the loose they don't have a lot of time to worry about that.  Staying safe is first on the list.

This is a thriller with a bit of romance and I ate it up with my eyes.  It's an enjoyable read, even with a few sad parts.  Get yourself a copy at your local bookstore at the end of month and "taste" it yourself!

Happy reading.

A Lonely Death by Charles Todd

Who is going about randomly killing men with a garrote?

Subtitle of this book:  An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery.  I got my copy of the ebook from Net Galley and William Morrow (thank you).  The hardcover book will be published in January, 2011.

I had never read about Inspector Ian Rutledge, but I really enjoyed reading this mystery.  There are several different factors involved in the plot that make it compelling, interesting, and intriguing.

A mother/son team writes these stories but they are so fluid and flow so well it seems there is ONE author, not a combination.  They have a distinctive style and I'll watch for more books in this series.

The men killed had all served in the Great War and they are found with an identification chip in their mouth.  But it's not their chip, and it's not necessarily from the dead.  So there appears to be a war connection, but is there really?

Rutledge is carrying his own problems.  A man he had to kill by firing squad for not following orders shares his head and talks to him.  Being buried with the victim when a bomb blast hit has done some strange things to his head.  

While he tries to find a common denominator between the deaths to identify the murderer, he also has a good friend commit suicide because he can't handle life after the war.  This, in turn, works on his own mental health.

The plot will keep you going.  You feel sympathy for Ian Rutledge because nothing in his life is easy.  The pages turn quickly and the ending will surprise you.  The story is set in Scotland, and I enjoy reading about other countries.  I always learn some new customs and something about that country's people's personalities.

This is a good mystery read.  Make a note on your TBR to pick up a copy in January when it comes out.  There are twelve other books in this series.  You can always read a few of those while waiting.

Happy reading!   

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Six Crows by Leo Lionni

The farmer wants the wheat, the crows want the wheat.  And, soon, neither one of them is getting any...

Alfred A Knopf Books for Young Readers is republishing this classic story by Leo Lionni.  They graciously sent me a copy for review.  I love this story teller and illustrator so I was very happy to get it.  This new edition is now available in your local bookstore.  It's written for ages 4-8.

Mr. Lionni brings his story to life with collages, and he does beautiful work.  His words are minimal, but his message gets across easily and is just as applicable now as it was when originally published in 1988.

The crows are bothering his wheat, so he puts up a scarecrow.  The birds create a bird kite with leaves to scare the farmer.  So he makes a better scarecrow and they make a bigger kite.  In the meantime, the wheat is dying in the field.  Despite all the planning on both sides, they cannot find a solution to their problem.  So the owl tells the farmer he needs to talk with the crows and find a way to work out their differences.  (The world would be a better a place if more people tried doing that.)

It's sad that Mr. Lionni died in 1999, but it is wonderful to see his work available again.

Get yourself a copy of this classic story and share his knowledge about "working together" with your children.  It's well worth the read.

Happy reading!

Thanking the Moon by Grace Lin

How about having a party in the moonlight at the end of the harvest?

Subtitle of this books is:  Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.  This is an Alfred A Knopf Books for Young Readers hardcover, and they sent me a copy for review.  It is currently available in your local bookstore and is written for ages 5-8.

Ms. Lin writes a very graceful story about the Chinese holiday of Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.  Her illustrations take you on the picnic under the moon and lets you see how the whole family comes together to celebrate.  Learn a bit about Chinese culture and enjoy the vibrant colors she uses to infuse her story with the idea of celebration.

Maybe you and your family could begin a tradition of a night-time picnic under the moon and stars.  Here's a link to a recipe for the moon cakes:  moon cakes  Or you could create your own tradition by serving your own special dessert...

Go visit your local bookstore and pick up a copy.    And happy reading!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Fantastic 5 & 10 Cent Store by J. Patrick Lewis

Everyone can just barely see what's out at the edge of town, but no one is brave enough to venture out to check it out.  Until Benny Penny does...

Schwartz & Wade Books sent me a copy of this lovely hardcover picture book to review (thank you).  It's written for ages 4-9 and the subtitle is:  A Rebus Adventure.

I have to admit I never knew this writing style was called "rebus".  Various words are represented by pictures.  It's great fun for a child to read because they have to sound out the words created by picture and text.  Some of the combinations are a bit challenging, but it adds to the charm of the book.

Mr. Lewis rhyme's are catchy, the story is cute, and the illustrations by Ms. Fisher are colorful.  This would be a wonderful book for your child to read aloud to you.  I can imagine the joy in their eyes as they figure out the word challenges.

This book is currently available at your local bookstore.  Challenge your child's mind with word games that are done in a fun format.   Maybe they could even write you a story in the same format!  Check it out, it's a fun read.

Happy reading!

The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses by Shirin Yim Bridges

Centuries ago, women were just "property" to men.  They were allowed to make no decisions, had no ownership of any assets, and could be beaten and even killed by the man they married with no repercussions.  But not all women accepted that as their lot in life...

Goosebottom Books has come out with a fascinating new series about princesses.  (They sent me two unbound books to review - thank you.)  Not your sweet, pretty, vapid, and perhaps stupid variety.  Women with strength, backbone, and courage who changed the country and the men in their life.

I read both "nur jahan of india" and "Isabella of Castile".  These ladies were not shrinking violets.  What was most amazing was that both of them found love, even in the days of arranged marriages.

These are picture books for ages 9-13 and the illustrations are gorgeous, full of vibrant color and they make it easy for the child to see what the princesses wore, where they lived and what the country was like then.

These books are an excellent way to teach history to your child in a fun media.  It should also inspire them to read more about the featured princesses or others in their era to "visit" the countries again.

I highly recommend these books.  Ms. Bridges has done a very nice job of making history fun.  These books are are available now.  Check with your local bookstore for a copy.

If you would like my two review copies for your child, leave a comment here on the blog and then email me at info @ (take the spaces out) with your name AND address and tell me why you would like to have them.  I'll pick a winner in about a week.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Trash Course by Penny Drake

Imagine a James Bond type of detective agency.  Now imagine it's two women...

Carina Press and Net Galley provided me with ebook for review.  This has been published in Mobipocket Reader and Adobe Reader formats.  It's available now.  Check with Carina Press for a copy.

Ms. Hawk is an enigma.  She's well-versed at self defense, takes on women's cases, and has contacts everywhere.  She charges them a fee and then a number of favors to do the job.  Favors mean that they provide her with information or contacts or use other skills that aren't illegal and don't jeopardize them to complete payment for her services.

Terry is a new addition to the agency.    She has honed all of her self-defense skills and become a formidable force herself.  She loves saving children, abused women, and any other cause Ms. Hawk embraces.

When they agree to check out two old men who live in a house full of hoarded items, they have no idea just how deep a hole they are falling in.  There are several people who are looking for some papers in that house...

Ms. Drake's characters are strong, resourceful and willing to accept danger to save their victims.  The author adds a love interest for Terry.  He just happens to be involved in the current case (though Terry doesn't know it at first).

The action is fast, hard-hitting, and exciting.  I really, really enjoyed this read.  I plan to keep watching to see if there are more in this series.  I want to read any more that are written!

If you like action heroes, Ms. Hawk is one.  And the mystery is very convoluted with lots of varied factors involved.  You'll keep those pages turning on this read.  Get yourself a copy and check it out!

Happy reading.

Vanished by Jordan Gray

Willie was a pain in the butt and annoyed everyone in town, but why would someone want to kill him?

I got my ebook review copy from Net Galley and Harlequin (thank you).  A paperback was published the first part of this month and is available at your local bookstore.

This is a Blackpool mystery.  The author does a very good job of showing the coastal town and it's climate - including the atmosphere of its residents.  The characters are quirky, they have unusual jobs because it's a tourist town, and the family that has been there for centuries is sinister and powerful.

When Willie is found dead onboard a boat with Dylan's wife, she's the first one to be accused of his murder.  Then Dylan is... 

The main characters are a charming couple who know their friend is troubled about his marriage, but don't believe he would actually kill someone over it.  Since the cops do, all they can do is try to help.  And that's not viewed favorably.  They are reminded continuously to mind their own business and leave things alone.

There is an old mystery involved with this current one.  There are tunnels under the town from the smuggler days and they decide they must search there for the truth.  (You wouldn't see me going along - I hate caves!)

The story flows well, Blackpool is an interesting town with old history and new traditions, and suspects abound.

Pick yourself up a copy and settle in your reading chair by the fire with a cup of tea and have fun!

Happy reading.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nancy and Plum by Betty MacDonald

Two orphaned sisters are determined to escape from from their boarding home and the mean Mrs. Monday - but where will they go?

Alfred A Knopf Books for Young Readers is re-publishing this wonderful book written by the author of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.  This hardcover book is currently available in the market and is a very comely edition. 

I love seeing the older classic books being reintroduced into the market.  This gives the current generation a chance to enjoy the books their grandparents or parents enjoyed in their youth.

Nancy and Plum are orphaned and their uncle has put them in a boarding home because he has no idea what to do with two little girls.  He's under the impression that the money he sends buys them new clothes and shoes and that they get the presents he sends.  Wrong!  Mrs. Monday uses the money and gifts on her niece, never mind about those orphans.

The orphans, though, have other ideas.  They plan to try to steal away.  Of course, they don't know where they are going after they get away, but it's better than staying at the boarding school...

The illustrations are outstanding and help you feel the fear and misgivings the two girls have.  Mr. GrandPre does an excellent job of making the story come alive.

The story reminds me a bit of Anne of Green Gables, where another orphan was hoping to find a home.  I enjoyed reading this older tale and was happy to find it.  I had not read it earlier in life.

Share some memories or make some new ones, this book will entertain you.  It's written for ages 8-12.  I really enjoyed it.  Why not give it a try?

Happy reading!

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

When Abilene travels to Manifest, Kansas, for the summer to stay with her father's friend, she thought she would find something about her father's boyhood.  But no one would tell her anything...

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers sent me a hardcover copy for review (thank you).  This book is currently available for purchase in the market. 

The town of Manifest is fictional, but it's based on the real Kansas town of Frontenac which was home to the author's maternal grandparents.  The year is 1936, and Abilene didn't want to leave her father.  He had a railroad job, though, and she needed somewhere to stay.  She thought she would learn a lot about him from his friends, but he seemed to have no real friends.  And the town wasn't very exciting because it's a Depression town.

Ms. Vanderpool does an excellent job of creating characters of varied personalities and with different strengths that Abigail begins to know and understand after a time.  She also realizes there is some sort of secret the townfolk don't want to give away.  And she fears her father may be involved in it...

The story has the flavor of a simpler time, where people never had very much but made the most of what they did have.  It's also a story of a young girl coming of age and learning that things are not always what they seem to be.  It's written for ages 9-12 and offers a visit through the past.  The author's story flows well and she's created a strong young woman in Abigail.  Ms. Vanderpool also researched the history of the area to be accurate in her storytelling.

I found it an enjoyable read.  Why not pick up a copy for your home? 

Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Penny Dreadful by Laurel Snyder

Do you know what a penny dreadful is?  Here's Wikipedia's definition: "A penny dreadful (also called penny horrible, penny awful, penny number and penny blood) was a type of British fiction publication in the 19th century that usually featured lurid serial stories appearing in parts over a number of weeks, each part costing a penny. The term, however, soon came to encompass a variety of publications that featured cheap sensational fiction, such as story papers and booklet "libraries." The penny dreadfuls were printed on cheap pulp paper and were aimed primarily at working class adolescents."

Now how is a penny dreadful involved in this story?  Keep reading...

Random House Books for Young Readers sent me a hardcover copy of this book for review (thank you).  The book is currently available at your local bookstore.  Abigail Halpin is the illustrator and her sweet illustrations help you see the story in your mind's eye.

Penelope Grey is bored.  Her life is the same everyday.  She has a pampered city life, a few friends and nothing to do.  So she wishes that would change.  Little did she know her Dad would quit his job to write a novel and they'd have to downsize with less income and it would involve a move to the country!

When she gets to her new destination, she finds they live in the upstairs apartment of a house.  She also finds some old, fragile penny dreadfuls sitting around in boxes.  Amazing!  The whole family also finds that there are lots of residents in the other houses all built around the first - and they are there rent free.  They exist by trading services or produce or whatever they have to get what they need.  What a lifestyle change for the Grey family...

Ms. Snyder wends her way through the story with style and you find it easy to relate to Penny and her parents and their challenges.  She also fills the story with interesting characters that have odd quirks, unusual backgrounds and even some alternative lifestyles. 

I found it easy to read and could relate those odd folks, I've known enough of them in my life.  We always had extra people around the table on holidays.  Anyone who had nowhere to go was welcome to come to our house and eat.  However, if you are sensitive about what you want your child to read, be aware there is one family where the boy has two mommies instead of the traditional family.  It's just a bit of the story and is of no real note, it's just another family.

It's my personal belief that children should be able to read a wide range of books.  If there is something in it that raises questions, answer them.  If they say nothing about it, ask them what they thought about it.  Let them know they can ask anything and talk about anything with you.  Don't censor them and don't think that because you hid it from them, they won't find out about it.

I only mention this because another blogger took issue with that brief mention of such a family.  To me, it's just part of the story, not a moral issue or promotion of that lifestyle.

This is a very nice story about a family facing challenges and trying to overcome them.  It's written for ages 8-12 and children should enjoy it.  It reminds just a bit of Anne of Green Gables, maybe just because it's a family story with a strong young female character.

Visit your local bookstore and pick up a copy, it's out now.  Happy reading!

Star of Stone Century Quartet Book II by P D Baccalario

Imagine being twelve years old and trying to save the world - could you do it?

Random House Books for Young Readers sent me a copy of this hardcover book for review (thank you).  This is the second book in this series, and I was very happy to get a copy of it.  The first one left me drooling with desire to read more in this series.  This one continued with the same fast pace, is full of danger and challenges for the young characters, and leaves me looking forward to the next one (due out in September, 2011).  This second book is available in stores now.

With children from Rome, New York, Paris and Shanghai, you get to know different cities of the world as you read the series.  Their whole goal is to collect all the mysterious artifacts that the murdered professor told them about.  However, there is an evil group who is looking for the same artifacts, and it's not an easy journey.

The book is filled with maps and clues so you can get as involved in the story as you wish.  Since each book is set in a different international city, you learn the history of the setting as well as about the various antique buildings.

It's a busy read that grabs your eyes and makes your imagination work overtime.  It's written for ages 10-13, but this reader enjoyed it just fine despite being grandmotherly in age.  The author is Italian and while this book was translated into English, it still has an Italian flavor.

Visit your local bookstore and pick up a copy.  If you missed the first one, I'd start there (although it can stand alone).  Let's have some good clean reading fun!

Happy reading.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Last Full Measure by Ann Rinaldi

The Civil War comes to Gettysburg...

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is publishing this book this month in hardcover.  They provided me with an ebook for review (thank you).

Tacy, her mother, and her brother David, who has a bad leg, are at home in Gettysburg.  Her father and two other brothers have enlisted and are fighting the war.  Tacy loves her brother, but he's very moody and angry because he cannot help the way because of his disability.

I've toured Gettysburg and this story took me back there.  I could see all the hills, hear the cannons and shots, and I felt the ghosts of the past while there.  This book brought it all back to me.

Ms. Rinaldi does a very good job of discussing the events of the battles, the fact that the soldiers were the same on both sides - just fighting for different causes, and brings up two unusual facts about the war.

She incorporates a real person into her fictional account.  One woman was killed in the battle by either a sniper or a random shot.  They discuss that during the bus tour of Gettysburg, it's a fact.  This person is part of Ms. Rinaldi's story.

She also dug up the fact that there were freed slaves in Gettysburg.  These slaves play an important part in this story.  And Tacy finds herself conflicted because they're her friends, but they are also why her neighbors and family members are fighting.

This story is written for ages 12 and up, but I found it very interesting read.  It makes history come alive and may lead your child to do more reading on the subject matter.  There is a bibliography in the rear of the book with suggestions for further reading.

It will be in your local bookstores this month.  It's enough of a mix between facts and fiction most young adults will enjoy reading it.  Check it out.

And happy reading!

Nursing a Grudge by Chris Well

Earl doesn't want to leave his room at the home and go for a tour of the home he lives in, but the church volunteer insists.  She says, "What's the worst that could happen?"  Well, she's going to find out...

Barbour Publishing has published this book in trade paperback and it's currently available.  I got my review ebook from Net Galley (thank you both).  The subtitle on this book is: Hometown Mysteries.

When Earl meets other neighbors in his assisted living home and gets invited to a secret chili party, he sure didn't expect somebody to keel over at the party!  What's more, he's not sure it happened from natural causes.

The author does a good job of showing how an older person feels when they are all alone (spouse is deceased) and disabled.  The church volunteer works hard on getting Earl to socialize, but he's been alone for so long he has trouble at it. 

The plot is mix and match with lots of suspects, hidden activities, and a romantic interest for Earl.  The clues are there, but will he ever put them together in the correct way?

The story is realistic, well paced, and entertaining.  It does have a Christian flavor, but that's not overwhelming.  It was a good read and I enjoyed this book.  

Check it out at your local bookstore and pick up a copy.  You won't regret it.  

Happy reading!

Eeny Up Above! Jane Yolen, Kathryn Brown (Illustrated by)

Eeny is a mole.  Her sisters are very happy in their home but Eeny is more adventuress.  She goes up and samples all of the seasons of the y...