Friday, December 31, 2010

The Inheritance Almanac by Michael Macauley

Do you like dragons?  Then you will like the Inheritance series!

Alfred A Knopf Books for Young Readers sent me a copy of this hardcover that is now on sale at your local bookstore (thank you).  The book was edited by Mark Cotta Vaz. 

This book is considered the ultimate fan guide and was written by the webmaster of the #1 Inheritance fan site, .  It's "An A-to-Z Guide to the World of Eragon."

I found it an interesting compilation of little known facts.  Mr. Macauley includes information that is not common knowledge about how the stories developed and about the imaginary world Mr. Paolini created.  I mean, can you imagine that in the first draft of Book One, Eragon was named Kevin?  Kevin???  Sure glad he changed that!

I enjoyed the first two books in this series so much that I have saved the third to read as a treat.  I know it's there, I want to read it, but I want to wait until I have time to read it without interruptions and with full attention.  They're that good.

That's why I think this book can be a really good resource for anyone who's enjoyed reading the Inheritance series.  You can revisit the lands and creatures you met in the books and get more background information about them.  Then it'd be fun to reread the series.

In my day, it was Lord of the Rings series.  I'm sure the Inheritance fans are just as rabid as I was as a teen about Middle Earth and hobbits and wizards and a dragon, etc.  This would be a lovely gift to someone who is a fan.

Check it out at your local bookstore and pick up a copy for the dragon lover in your life.

Happy reading!

Alberic the Wise and Other Journeys by Norton Juster

Three new fairy tales...

Random House Children's Books, Yearling Division, sent me a trade paperback of this book for review (thank you).  This book is currently on sale at your local bookstore.

Domenico Gnoli is the illustrator and his pen and ink drawings really add to the mood of the stories told.

Mr. Juster is the author of "The Phantom Tollbooth", which is a marvelous book.  If you haven't read it yet, you have a treat in store when you do.  That's why I was excited to read these new fairy tales from him.

There are three tales in this book (on print for the first time in decades) that show Mr. Juster's wit and wisdom in story telling.  His characters all have flaws, yet they generally succeed at what they do.  They all learn along the way.  And the story is told in an entertaining way so they are fun to read.

There is a tale of one man and his search for wisdom; a boy with no illusions meets a princess with no kingdom; and, the richest and poorest monarchs in the world want more than they have...

Share some classics from the past with your child or grandchild.  They'll be glad you did.

Happy reading!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

He witnessed his father's death while he was twelve...

Grand Central Publishing sent me an ARC of this book to review (thank you). The ARC's title is "Who Is Gideon Crew?"  The hardcover book being published is titled:  "Gideon's Sword."  It will be published in February and is a new series for these two authors.  They have never disappointed me yet, so it was nice to "taste" a new series.

Gideon finds out at age twenty-four that his father was framed for a crime he didn't commit.  His mother is dying now, and she makes him promise that he will avenge his father's death. 

Leaving his staid life behind, he embraces a new life as a private operative - and almost gets killed in his first meeting.  Every person he meets has layers to his/her personality and motives that don't show.  While he dances through this world of high power and scientists, he also finds out he has a personal problem to deal with.  It's a death sentence in his head.  But it also removes any inhibitions he may have had about his actions.

The plot is tangled, the action intense, and you can tell it's just a taste of what is to come.  I'm already looking forward to the next book in this series.  (There will be twelve, so we have lots of fun left.)

Be sure to add it to your TBR list and check with your local bookstore in February for a copy.  You won't put it down after you start reading it...

If you'd like my copy of this ARC (it has a different cover), please leave a comment here on the blog and then email me at info @ (remove spaces) with your name and ADDRESS and tell me why you'd like to read it.  I'll give it away in about a week.

Ol' Bloo's Boogie-Woogie Band and Blues Ensemble by Jan Huling

Are you familiar with "The Bremen Town Musicians"?  You'll love this re-telling of this traditional tale!

Peachtree Publishers sent me a copy of this children's hardcover picture book for review (thank you).  Henri Sorensen did the illustrations and they bring this story to life; vibrant colors and action right on the pages in the book to entice you.

Jan Huling still plays first-chair kazoo in New Jersey.  She was inspired to write this story by her memories of her old college hippie band, The Brattleboro Boogie-Woogies Band and Blues Ensemble.

The story is charming. Ol' Bloo Donkey had always dreamed of retiring and becoming a honkey-tonk singer.  But when he hears Farmer Brown discuss how he's not carrying his load anymore, he decided he'd better retire right now!  As he makes his way to New Orleans, brayin' and hee-hawin' on the way, he meets up with other animals that have outlived their usefulness to humans.

There's Gnarly Dog, One-Eyed Lemony Cat, and Rusty Red Rooster.  All a bit bedraggled and tired, but ready for one more adventure.  However, they didn't expect the adventure they got...

This is written for ages 6-10 and it's a fun story for young ones.  To make it even more entertaining, let them vocalize the sounds of the animals.  You might as well get into the spirit of the story!

This book is currently available at your local bookstore.  I highly recommend it.  Adding a Louisiana flavor to the story has made it even more entertaining to read.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hereville How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch

Mirka is not interested in knitting, getting a man, or her brother's warnings.  She just wants a sword to fight dragons!

Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams, has published this hardcover graphic novel and sent me a copy for review (thank you).  This book is written for grades 4-7 and is currently available at your local bookstore.

Mirka is a normal 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl with an abnormal desire:  she wants to fight dragons.  She's too outspoken and opinionated to get along well with her family and friends, but she's determined to do things "her way".  When she steals a grape and gets annoyed by a pig who steals her homework, she begins to lose control.  Even worse, nobody believes it's a pig eating her homework.  Jews don't raise pigs.  She's ruining her sister's chances at marriage by acting weird...

I wasn't sure how Mr. Deutsch was going to make this story work out:  A witch, an angry Jewish girl and misfortunes all around.  But he does a very good job of working his way around the issues and teaching everyone in the story some valuable lessons.

There is enough action in the story to keep you interested.  The graphic novel makes it like reading a comic book, but better.  And when Mirka runs into the troll and has to use her wits to survive, you won't want to put the book down until you see how it ends.

Visit your local bookstore and pick up a copy.  Mirka's character will make them smile.

Happy reading!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer

Who would have guessed that black radishes could be used to curry favor with the Germans?

Delacourte Press sent me a hardcover of this book for review (thank you).  It's written for ages 8-12 and is currently available at your local book store.

It's June, 1940, and Paris is occupied by the Germans.  Gustave and his family move to a free zone in Saint-Georges, but they find there are limited supplies and the area has some Jew-haters there, too.

Ms. Meyer's does a good job of expressing Gustave's confusion and frustration over the changes in his nice safe life of before.  She has based part of this story on the story her father told her about leaving France for the US because of the same situation in his life.

When you don't have much, it's hard to give up what you do have and take only a few things with you.  You also also end up losing your friends.  So when Gustave finds that a Catholic girl will be friends with him, he accepts that.  He doesn't realize that Nicole works for the French Resistance...

You can feel the danger as Gustave and his father cross into German occupied territory to find food.  You worry about his relatives that were left behind.  And you feel the fear of those of who try to escape.

This is an excellent introduction to Nazi-occupied France for your young one.  Let them learn about the horrors of war from a distance.  This mix of adventure and history should appeal to reluctant readers, too.

Check your local bookstore for a copy.  And happy reading! 

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

If a mathematical genius chooses to help disguise a murder done in passion, do the police have any hope at all of solving the crime?

Minotaur Books will be publishing the first US edition of this book in February.  I was lucky enough to snag an ARC from Library Thing (thank you to both of you).  Mr. Higashino's Japanese edition sold over 800,000 the first year it was published, and they've already made a movie about it.  This book also has an exclusive audio excerpt bound in the book.

There are two factors in this book that make it a great read:  two fine minds and an unrecognized love interest.  The story is analytical, but the woman who is central in the story has no idea the math teacher fancies her.  The complex emotions add to the mystery and the plot is intense.  That which seems obvious may not be true.  However, once the police have found a solution, why would they look any longer?

Mr. Higashino's characters are enigmatic, solid, and strong.  The story reads fluently and you yearn to see how it's all going to work out.  I had no clue how this story was going to end, and that made it even more enjoyable to read.

I enjoy reading mysteries from other countries because it lets me "see" the landscape and learn about life in those lands.  I especially liked the mind games that Mr. Higashino put in his plot.

I'd highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good, meaty mystery.  There's enough in this book to keep your attention riveted, and the ending is most ironic.  You won't forget it.

If you'd like my copy of this ARC, please leave a comment here on the blog and send me an email info @ (remove spaces) giving me your name and address and telling me why you'd like to read it.  I'll pick a winner in about a week.

Condoleezza Rice A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me

Condoleezza Rice had a family that didn't look at limitations; they looked for opportunities...

Delacourte Press Books for Young Readers sent me a copy of this hardcover book that was published in October for review (thank you).  It's for ages 11 and up.  There was also an adult version published by Crown Publishers' titled:  Extraordinary, Ordinary People:  A Memoir of Family. 

This story gives you a good look at a cross section of life as Condoleezza and her family knew it.  They were black and segregated from the whites in the 1950's in Birmingham, Alabama.  They weathered the changes in attitudes, lifestyles, and opportunities, and they still saw the limitations race can have on a person.  But they were always looking forward, gave their children every opportunity to continue schooling and believed their children could accomplish whatever they chose to do.  That belief helped their children find their way in a world that was not altogether welcoming.

She has written this book from a child's point of view.  It explains how she felt about life as she knew it, how she took money from her parents to continue her education and didn't realize until later what they gave up to do.

I liked this book a lot, and I didn't expect to.  (I don't read a lot of non-fiction.)  I now have a much better understanding about who Condoleezza Rice is and I can see some similarities between her parents and mine.  I was white and she was black, but Mom told me I could be president if I wanted to be - she just didn't think I'd like all the politics.  (She was right.)

Let your child learn about racial challenges, life challenges, and hard work to achieve your goals.  It will give them strengths to face their own challenges in life.

Happy reading!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Fire Lord's Lover by Kathryne Kennedy

It's not easy being an Elf.  If his father finds out his power is strengthening, he'll kill him.  And his fiance seems to want to kill his father - and perhaps him, also.

Sourcebooks Casablanca sent me a copy of this paperback for review (thank you).  This book is currently available in the market. Check with your local bookstore.

I don't normally read romance, but I just couldn't pass up the chance to read about elves.  Magic tantalizes me.  I wasn't very far into the book before I realized that Ms. Kennedy had captured my attention and it would really be a pleasure to read this book.

The Fire Lord is pure evil and cares not about any human.  His son is one-half human, and that's enough to make his father angry.  Especially since he doesn't have the power of the black flame that his father uses indiscriminately against his enemies.  To stay alive, the son has learned not to show any emotion and, in turn, has become almost as cold as his father.

The author does a very nice job of describing her characters feelings, the kingdoms and cities of the times and the danger the newly married couple are facing.  Her characters are strong, focused on their goals, and they have the perseverance to keep on even during catastrophic events.

One interesting story point is that it's an arranged marriage and Lady Cassandra is there to kill the Fire Lord.  His son is simply a way to have access to her goal.  But he's half human and they both begin to feel a fire of a different type - they're attracted.  There is a lot of sex in this book, but it's tastefully done and adds to the tale of the son and his new wife.

I found the plot intriguing, would never have guessed the ending, and I'm very much looking forward to next story in this series.  I can't wait to see where Ms. Kennedy takes her characters next...

I highly recommend this book as a very good fantasy tale with elves, humans, and love.

Happy reading!

The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles by Padraic Colum

Greek mythology has been presented in many forms, but Padraic Colum's book is a classic read about the subject.

Random House Books for Young Readers sent me a copy of this hardcover book written for young adults (thank you).  This book is part of the Looking Glass Library series, which is a very nice series of classic stories in an updated look.  The original illustrations are usually used, and the books are a quality product.  Willy Pogany line drawings enhance this story, and Rick Riordan gives an introduction to the story.

Jason is a bit too eager to help his father reclaim his lost throne and he and his daring companions go on an adventure that is dangerous and almost impossible to achieve.  He plans to bring home the Golden Fleece, and he has Heracles and Orpheus as well as others to help him. But they are not prepared for enchantresses, gods, goddesses and beasts of the type that they encounter.

Anyone with an interest in early mythology will enjoy reading this tale.  It's a bit easier to read in this version which is written for ages 8-12. It's available now at your local bookstore.  Go take a look.  You might want to pick up the whole series, which consists of six books.  Give your child a keepsake!

Happy reading.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Swords at Culver, The Budda at Culver by Richard Gwyn Davies

Take a modern everyday boarding school and add the stuff of myths and legend and you have this new series created by Mr. Davies.

The author provided me with two of books to sample and review (thank you).  The books can be purchased at Unlimited Publishing LLC, POB 3007, Bloomington, IN 47402 or online at .

These books are different from the mainstream fiction that populates the shelves at most bookstores.  Mr. Davies melds Native American myths with Scottish/English/Welsh legends and even adds some Tibetan Buddhism into the mix.  If you have any interest in the myths/legends of the past, these should appeal you.  I even learned a few new things as I read them and I sell lots of fairy tale and folk tales books.

The students are diverse in their backgrounds and Mr. Davies uses his knowledge from teaching at the Culver Acadamies in north Indiana to set the background for the stories.

The first book begins with two students who must use Native American skills and swords from the past to fight evil.  It takes a Ogallala shaman to help them conquer the evil forces.  But they are only subdued, not destroyed...

In the next book, the two boys find there are new students who are also being threatened this year.  A Buddhist nun helps them and they learn about meditation techniques and the spirits the Buddhists can use to fight evil.  There is even a ghostly Indian who comes to their aid.

The story lines are intriguing.  The various legends mentioned in the story may lead your young adult into reading more about the myths and legends of the various countries.  The second book, The Buddha at Culver is also available for sale on Amazon.

I'm offering my copies of the two books a giveaway.  Leave a comment here on the blog and then email me at info @ (remove spaces) and tell me your name and address and why you'd like to read them.  I'll pick a winner in about a week.


Exciting New Prize Package Will Be Awarded to an Exemplary Educator Who Best Incorporates the Magic Tree House Series into Classroom Curriculums

(December 20, 2010, New York, NY)—Random House Children’s Books ( is pleased to announce the 7th annual Magic Tree House Educator of the Year Award. The coveted award is presented to an educator of grades 1–4 who enhances lesson plans by incorporating Magic Tree House books (both the fiction titles and nonfiction research guides) into the curriculum in an outstanding way. For nearly 20 years, Mary Pope Osborne’s bestselling and internationally beloved series about a brother and sister who travel through time has been trusted by educators for its ability to educate and entertain young readers.

This year’s grand-prize winner will receive numerous prizes, including a trip to the International Reading Association Conference in Orlando, Florida, May 8th–11th, to meet authors Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce, and receive the award from them in an exclusive ceremony. The prize also includes two autographed sets of the entire Magic Tree House series—one for the winner’s classroom, and one for the school’s library, $500 worth of books from Random House Children’s Books, a $500 gift card for classroom supplies, and a Skype school visit with Osborne and Boyce.

Three runners-up will receive an autographed set of the entire Magic Tree House series and a $250 gift card for classroom supplies.

To be considered for the award, educators are asked to describe in 500 words or less how they meet objectives across the curriculum by incorporating the Magic Tree House books into their lesson plans. Random House Children’s Books also welcomes additional classroom materials such as lesson plans, photos, and videos that set the educator apart from other applicants.

Educators are eligible to enter until January 14, 2011. The official entry form can be found online at the series’ all-new comprehensive website, which was launched in November 2010. With exciting games, trivia, lesson plans, parent-child activity ideas and more, the extensive website offers an array of resources to audiences of all ages.

“What a great opportunity for teachers to share resources and strategies!” said Becci Curry, recipient of the 2010 Magic Tree House Educator of the Year Award. “Winning the Magic Tree House Educator of the Year Award was the single most incredible experience of my professional life,” said Paula Henson, the 2007 winner.

About Magic Tree House

Mary Pope Osborne’s celebrated Magic Tree House series has sold 70 million copies in North America and has been translated into 28 different languages in 31 countries. First published in 1992, the series continues to be widely regarded among children, teachers, and parents alike for its power to instill a passion for reading. With the recent launch of the entire Magic Tree House series in e-book form (June 2010), the series is available in the now-customary three platforms—print, audio, and digital. For more information about Mary Pope Osborne and the series, visit

Random House Children’s Books is the world’s largest English-language children’s trade book publisher. Creating books for toddlers through young adult readers, in all formats from board books to activity books to picture books, novels, and e-books, the imprints of Random House Children’s Books bring together award-winning authors and illustrators, world-famous franchise characters, and multimillion-copy series. The company’s Web site, Kids @ Random ( offers an array of activities, games, and resources for children, teens, parents, and educators. Random House Children’s Books is a division of Random House, Inc., whose parent company is Bertelsmann AG, a leading international media company.

I recently reviewed the latest Magic Tree House book and wanted to share this incredible offer with any teachers who use her books in their curriculum. Give it a shot - you may win a wonderful prize for use in your classroom!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Mirror of Yu-Huang by Christine Norris

Imagine being a young librarian who can "fall" into a book and go on an adventure...

The Library of Athena Book 3 was sent to me by Zumaya Thresholds in eBook form to review (thank you).  This book is now available in various eBook editions and as a trade paperback. 

While this is the third in the series, it was the first book I've read in it, and it did just fine as a stand alone book.

Megan and her father live in a mansion that has a very secret library within.  She has been chosen as the librarian and must guard the library's secrets from the external world.  Unfortunately, there are those who will do anything to get into the library so they can go after the treasures hidden within the books...

When a Chinese ambassador and his daughter come to the area to enroll the daughter in the private school Megan attends, the school administrator sets up an open house in the mansion with permission of Megan's father.  Before they are there for much more than a day, the elder Chinese Grandfather is stabbed!  And someone has found their way into the library.

Megan has no choice except to follow them, but will she ever get back home?

Magic, action, adventure and interesting characters make this a very good read.  Visit your local bookstore and pick up a copy.  Be sure to check out the first two books in the series - you may want to get them all!

Happy reading.

The Dangerous Edge of Things by Tina Whittle

First she inherits a Confederate themed gun shop she doesn't want and then she finds a dead body across the street.  What else can go wrong?  She can become a suspect in the case...

Poison Pen Press will be publishing this book the first of February in hardcover, trade paperback, and large print.  I got my copy for review from Net Galley as an eBook (thank you). 

Ms. Whittle has built a lot of twists and turns in this plot, and they flow together well. 

Tai first begins to understand that things might not be what they seem when her brother takes off to the Bahamas and doesn't return when she finds the dead body.  Instead, he hires a security firm to protect her.  It also doesn't take Tai long to discover that the guard she has is a bit weird.  He's just a bit "off", but she's not sure why.  And no one will tell her!

She finally gets the cop to tell her that Trey was in a very bad accident and his brain was damaged.  He's still an excellent investigator and killing machine, but most of his emotions are gone and he doesn't view things as normal people would.  He also has an anger management problem.  Trying to live with him in her life complicates things.  Especially when people start trying to kill her.  She's not sure if they'll manage to kill her or if Trey might do it while he's trying to protect her...

My favorite part of this story is the attraction between Tai and Trey.  He's not sure how to act and doesn't want a relationship.  She doesn't want to be attracted to dangerous man whose emotional state is shattered.  But neither one really has a choice.  How Ms. Whittle handles this is authentic and shows each character's hesitation.

Visit a world of money, politics, and revenge where murder is just a statistic, unless you were the victim or are the suspect.  It's a tight plot and the light romance is just what it needs to keep you anxiously turning the pages.  Add this mystery to your TBR list and watch for it in February.

Happy reading!

Friday, December 17, 2010

AN INTERVIEW WITH LESLEY M. M. BLUME Author of Modern Fairies, Goblins, Dwarves, and Other Nasties

1) What gave you the idea for writing this book?

When I was a little girl, the idea of an invisible but ever-present fairy realm obsessed me. I read countless books on the topic and tried to learn old-fashioned ways to see fairies and get whisked off to fairy realms. But nine times out of ten, I couldn’t find the ingredients for the spells these books described (what fourth grader has access to the shavings of agate stones or hemlock?). So many years later, I came up with the idea of writing a book that helped modern-day readers connect with the fairy world through easy contemporary means.

2) Have you always had an interest in magical/mythical creatures?

Yes – they were always so much more interesting to me than people. My particular fixations were winged fairies and mermaids – and usually the nastier, the better.

3) Why didn’t you include gargoyles since it is set in the city?

I actually do allude to the fact that “Avian Fairies” live in the famous carved gargoyles jutting out from the top of the Chrysler Tower; the illustration of this habitat is one of my favorites in the book.

4) Did you use famous landmarks/buildings to make the child better able to see the environment of your stories or because you liked the locations?

I wanted to impress upon my readers that fairy life can be found in the most famous of landmarks and the most private of homes. They live in the Liberty Bell, the Algonquin Hotel, in Central Park, and so on – but they also might just be dwelling in your kitchen cupboards. It’s just a question of retraining your eye to “see” them.

5) There are quite a few “mean” fairies in this batch of stories. What made you focus on them?

Much of the traditional fairy lore I read as a child showed that the fairy world was tinged with danger. I found – and still find – this titillating. It’s all tied in with fear of the unknown – and also, the real world itself is not always such a nice place. Real life doesn’t always deliver the exact results you desire. I wanted the fairy realm to reflect that as well. Finally, let’s not forget that traditionally fairy tales have been very dark and in MODERN FAIRIES I revisited the genre’s roots.

6) This is a combination guide book and fairy tale series. What motivated you to do it in this form?

I wanted it to be both literary and practical. On one hand, I wanted to create a collection of old-fashioned short stories with modern settings, but I also wanted to give young readers ways to connect with the depicted fairy world using objects they could find in their own households. The field guide aspect of the book is meant to help readers connect more actively and personally with the material.

7) How hard was it to find the right illustrator?

No. David was the only person on the planet who could have illustrated this book. The moment he showed me his sample illustrations (all of which made it into the final book), I knew that I was seeing something both fresh and electric but also wise. That sensibility of old-meets-new is the core of MODERN FAIRIES and David’s work epitomizes it.

8) Do you have more books planned? Will they be fantasy too?

David and I are working on a book for release in 2012. It’s about the ancient animal world, and yes, there’s a heavy fantasy and myth component to it. I’m very excited about it.

This is a fascinating book, be sure to check it out.  It just might make you take it home with you...

Here are the two remaining sites on this blog tour - you can read more about this book on them:

Sunday, December 19th – The Reading Zone

Monday, December 20th – SUVUDU

Happy reading!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Complaints by Ian Rankin

The Complaints are cops who investigate other cops.  Here is the US we call the Internal Affairs.  Nobody likes them much no matter which side of the pond you live on.

This is a Reagan Arthur imprint published by Little Brown and will be available for purchase in March, 2011.  (Thank you for the ARC review copy.)

It's set in Edinburgh and Mr. Rankin has created a new character:  Malcolm Fox.  Besides his job (which has its own deep challenges), Malcolm has a father in a nursing home and a sister in an abusive relationship - which she won't change.  He also carries another monkey on his back.  He's an alcoholic who hasn't had a drink for five years, but still thinks about it daily.

Mr. Rankin has a really devious mind.  He pits his two main characters against each other and then puts them in a working relationship.  He pulls in past cases, family problems, current investigations and politics and mixes it all in a nice big bowl of confusion, making the answers dark and hard to see.

It has a good pace, there is plenty of action, lots of conflict, lots of misdirection and lots of retribution in the story.  It won't bore you.  This Scottish author gives you your money's worth.

If you'd like my ARC, leave a comment here on my blog and email me at info @ (take the spaces out) with your name and address and why you would like to read it.

Happy reading!

The Last Polar Bears by Harry Horse

Grandfather is going to the North Pole to visit with the last polar bears.  It shouldn't be a bad trip, should it?

Peachtree Publishers sent me a copy of this hardbound children's book for review (thank you).  It's currently available at your local bookstore, and you should run down and get a copy - it's delightful!  It's written for those just beginning chapter books, but I think this book is going to go in my personal collection.  I love it too much to let it go.

Grandfather sneaks out at night to go on his adventure because he knows his daughter wouldn't let him go.  He takes the dog Roo and a golf cart of supplies.  And the whole story is written in letter form - from Grandfather to his Grandchild.  That form was part of what appealed to me.  It makes the chapters short and sweet and would work very well for read aloud.

The dog, Roo, has some interesting habits and talks back.  The cabin they live in has wolves all around.  They have some close encounters, will they ever find the polar bears?

It's an outlandish adventure with intriguing characters and I'm sure children will love reading it again and again.  Do get a copy - it's too good to let go by.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby

Sarah is new at school and doesn't really want to go on a field trip to the Everglades.  When she gets there, she gets snubbed as usual.  So when a cute boy offers to take her for a ride on an air boat, why not?  What's the worst that could happen?

Carolrhoda Lab of Lerner Publishing will be releasing this book in March.  It will be coming in hardcover and Adobe Reader form.  I got my copy of this young adult novel from Net Galley (thank you).

The plot of this book is striking.  Ms. Rorby takes you from a fun ride across the Everglades to a death defying trek across the grasslands in just a matter of moments!

Sarah has a crush on the young man who works around the cabins and decides to sneak off for a picnic with him and a ride on the air boat.  After all, she'll be back before the other campers return from their morning outing, what could it hurt?

The bad news is that he is as interested in Sarah as she is in and he forgets to put the plug back in the bottom of the boat.  While they sit and eat lunch casually, the air boat is sinking.

This book hits many of my fears:  snakes, gators, insects, being lost, surviving in the wild with no food or drink.  Even the saw grass is dangerous.  They are all real in the Everglades, I've been there.  We almost ended up with a gator in our air boat because a German who didn't understand English tried to pet it.  So I could really relate to Sarah's fears and to Andy trying to be strong and protect her.

This gripping, action packed story will stay with you long after you put the book down.  It's a book I would read again to see how much more I can pick up in the story.  The first read I devoured it.

It will work great for both boys and girls and should even entice reluctant readers if you have one in your household.  I highly recommend this book.  Get yourself a copy and see what all the excitement is about.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sweet Moon Baby by Karen Henry Clark

Have you ever thought of adopting a child from overseas?  Here is the story of such an adoption.

Alfred A Knopf Books for Young Readers has published this children's picture book hardcover just in time for Christmas.  It's available at your local bookstore right now.  (Thank you for my review copy.)  Patrice Barton is the illustrator and the pictures are sweet and full of soft colors that portray the peace and love theme of the story.

Ms. Clark adopted her daughter from China and has used that experience to help her write this children's book.  No adoption is easy and those from the across the pond have even more complications.

This story is written in a very simple form for young ones 5-8.  The baby is born and her parents want a better life for her so they put her in a basket and send her on her way.  Various animals help her along her journey to a new life and a childless couple's prayers are answered when they find her.

It's a sweet tale that children and parents both will enjoy.  It would also be great for reading aloud.  Check it out at your local bookstore.

Happy reading!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Ms. Blume is doing a blog tour this coming week that you won't to miss.  Here is the schedule:

Monday, December 13th – Random Acts of Reading

Tuesday, December 14th – Library Lounge Lizard

Wednesday, December 15th – Through the Looking Glass Book Review Blog

Thursday, December 16th – Book Divas

Friday, December 17th – The Children’s Book Review

Saturday, December 18th – The Book Faerie

Sunday, December 19th – The Reading Zone

Monday, December 20th – SUVUDU

Modern Fairies was fun to read and had marvelous illustrations.  Here's an example:
Check back next Saturday and you can read my chat with the author.  I will be sharing an interview I did with the author about the book and why she wrote it.  Here's a photo of her and the illustrator to entice you:

Don't you wish you were a fairy queen?  Even a little?  C'mon, don't lie.

Remember questions and answers on Saturday and more magic all week long on the other sites.  Check them out!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Phoenix and the Carpet by E Nesbit

The children are still making wishes and still not quite getting what they wished for...

Random House has created a Looking Glass Library series that offers old classics for children.  They sent me this book and it's very nicely put together.  Bruce Coville does the introduction.  (Thank you for this opportunity.)

Ms. Nesbit had a most magical imagination.  She wrote a lot of children's books, but I'm only familiar with this series.  An Englishman sent me a copy of The Five Children and It to read and told me it was a classic English children's book. He's right, it is.

The series consisted of the following books:
Psammead Series
1902 Five Children and It
1904 The Phoenix and the Carpet
1906 The Story of the Amulet

I had read the first book and knew how much trouble these young ones could get in with active imaginations and wishes to use.  So I was not the least bit surprised when this book begins with a magic carpet and a Phoenix popping into the story.

The children have marvelous ideas for travel on the carpet and what they want to accomplish but, somehow, it just never comes out quite right.

Travel with them to far away lands, see sights you can only imagine, and share the horror they feel when a simple plan turns out wrong and danger is around.

These stories were written in simpler times, but the fantasies are just as good today.  Children will laugh out loud at some of the antics of the characters.

Share a good, old-fashioned story with your child.  I'm collecting this series since I am so taken with the stories.  I won't tell if you buy them for yourselves, OK?

This lovely looking edition is available now at your local bookstore.  Check it out.  And happy reading.

The Defense of Thaddeus A Ledbetter by John Gosselink

This is a delightful book about a young man who has been put on In-School Suspension in a portable building behind the bus barn.  The principal has decided that is the only safe place for him to be.  This book is his written defense for his actions and fully explains how he is the smartest one at school, smarter than even the teachers...

Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams, sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It's currently available at your local bookstore and is for young adults.

Mr. Gosselink does an excellent job of taking his core story and adding in all sorts of facts and interesting tidbits to make it much more interesting.  Even reluctant readers should enjoy the crooked road Thaddeus' testimony takes.

Since it is in done in correspondence, it's a change from a normal novel - and a good one.  The story has humor, there's an ironic twist to the end of the story, and I enjoyed the read.  I expect young readers will, too.  Go get a copy and share it with your children.  You could even assign characters for reading aloud - let them act out the characters.  It'll make the book come to life even more.

Save Thaddeus!

Happy reading.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Eliza's Freedom Road by Jerdine Nolan

Eliza's mother went away one day, and never came back.  The Master had sold her.  And now he was looking at Eliza in a strange way.  She was scared of him, but what could she do?

This is a Paula Wiseman book being published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.  It will be on sale in January and is for ages 8-12.  I was provided an egalley for review (thank you).  The subtitle of the book is:  An Underground Railroad Diary.

This book is fiction, but it is based on facts.  Much of the history of the underground railroad is still carried on in stories without much proof because it was all hidden.  If your child has not had occasion to read about the underground railroad, the author has done an excellent job of putting together a story that in a form that will entertain them and help them learn without even realizing it.

Eliza sneaks out to a negro meeting and accidentally meets Harriet Tubman.  She's sure if she returns home, her master will sell her and she'll never see her mother again.  So she does all she thinks she can do and runs away...

The story is written in a diary form which I really liked.  It was like you were there each day with Eliza.  She carries the quilt her mother made with her, the one with the storyteller blocks.  And on her journey, she shares the stories with the others.  They are traditional folk tales that are often in children's picture books.

There is an excellent bibliographic resource at the back of the book. If your child has to do a book report or needs to enact a scene from a book, this story would be perfect. There is lots of additional information that could be gathered to go with the report.I was impressed by this book and Ms. Nolan's unique approach to history.  I'd highly recommend this book.  Check it out at your local bookstore next month.  And happy reading!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card

Danny North was thought to be a Drekka, a person who had no powers.  When he discovered the little tricks he could do actually meant he was making "gates", he was terrified.  People might shun the Drekka, but they killed Gatemages!

TOR sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  The hardcover edition will be published in January.  Mr. Card has written dozens of books, but this is the first Mither Mages book in the trilogy he has planned.

This fantasy story has some interesting touches in it.  Instead of it being an all fantasy world, our present time and world is intertwined in it.  When Danny runs to save his life, the first place he "shoplifts" is Wal-Mart.  It seemed a bit incongruous at first, but it soon becomes common place and easily acceptable.

Danny meets a better thief than he is and gets taken under his wing.  But it isn't long until he finds another mage - luckily on his side.  The story follows Danny's development as a person as well as a gatemage, and his family is seeking him the whole time. 

After all, he's the first gatemage in thousand years and he can open the locks that keep the North clan away from the homeland of Westil...

And Danny is not the only power wandering the earth, even if he's not aware of it.

This story has a lot of detail outlining the story line for the future.  I'd suggest children 14 and up would enjoy the story and stick with it, younger children may bog down.

I liked this "taste" of Mr. Card's work and look forward to the other books in the series.  If you've enjoyed his other books, I'm sure this new series will please you.  If you are new to him, this is a good place to start.  Check with your local bookstore and see what they have available for you.  This one will be there in January.

Or you can leave a comment here on my blog and email at info @ (take the spaces out) and give me your name and address and tell me why you'd like to win.  I'll pick a winner in about a week.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Simple Amish Christmas by Vanetta Chapman

Annie Weaver had moved to Philadelphia to learn nursing.  She had always intended to return to her Amish community but when her father is hurt by an auto accident, she returns immediately.

United Methodist Publishing House, an imprint of Abingdon Press, has published this book in trade paperback form right in time for Christmas.

I love stories about the Amish (and Shakers).  They are still living the kind of lives my grandparents did on their farms.  Life is simpler there - but it's not without difficulties.

Annie's father's wagon was hit by a car and he has two broken legs.  The Amish doctor is there when she arrives, and he scornfully tells her what to do and how to do it in the care of her father.  She doesn't mention her previous nursing training, but she thinks he's a bit a rude.

Her father heals, Amish life goes on, and she and the doctor each notice there is an attraction between them.  But the doctor lost his wife and child in a winter storm, and his heart is still full of ice.  Annie wonders if he even notices her.  The doctor wonders if he's too old for her...

The author offers you a good look into an Amish community and the relationships between men and women.  I eagerly kept turning pages to see what would come up next.  I was very pleased with this story and recommend it.  Especially if you have an interest in the Amish.  The romance makes it read faster, too.

This book is currently available at your local bookstore.  Why not buy yourself a present?  It's a good read. 

Thanksgiving at the Inn by Tim Whitney

He and his Dad had never gotten along well, and when Mom left it got even worse.  And now that his Grandfather has died and they must manage a bed and breakfast together, it's as bad as it can get...

Bancroft Press published this book in October as a hardcover and an Adobe ebook.  I got my review copy from Net Galley. (Thank you both.)

Heath's father is trying to be an author, but he has problems with drinking.  Nothing Heath does is good enough for his father, and there is no way to please him.  Now his Grandfather has unexpectedly died and when they go to see how much money is left them, they find there is a snag.  The bed and breakfast can't be sold.  They won't even have the right to live there if they don't maintain the residence and make the residents happy for three months.  That's a lot to ask of two people who don't like each other very much...

Mr. Whitney creates a unique cast of characters as residents.  Heath discovers that many of them have fascinating backgrounds and talents that he wouldn't have imagined.  They help Heath face his challenges in the care of the home. 

The tension between the boy and the father feels real.  I had to use a few Kleenex through this story, it touched my heart.  It is supposed to be for young adults, but I found it had lessons for adults, too.

This a very good read about family problems and how friends can help you overcome them.  Visit your local bookstore and pick up a copy.  You'll enjoy it, it's a positive story.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tick Tock by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Detective Michael Bennett and his ten children are on vacation at the seaside and things are going surprisingly well.  At least until his cell phone rings and he has to go back to the city on a case...

Little, Brown and Company will be publishing this book in January.  They sent me an ARC for review (thank you).  It will be coming out in hardcover, large print, and audio editions.

Patterson's books are never boring.  And, I hate to admit it, but I like this character even more than Alex Cross.  Michael is really a simple man even though he's a very good detective and has ten adopted children.  Alex is a complex character, so I find Michael easier to love.  (I'm talking about characters here, not my personal life, OK?)

An unexploded bomb starts the investigation.  As the mastermind behind the crimes escalates his attacks, the police go nuts trying to find him and find some logic for his actions.  Detective Bennett calls in his former colleague, FBI agent Emily Parker.  The last time he saw Parker, he left her with a kiss, so he's a bit hesitant about how to act around her now.  They stick to business and she determines this criminal is mimicking other cases.

Bennett's family is being harassed by another at the beach, he's caught between caring for his nanny and the FBI agent, and the further he goes in the case he begins to realize this madman may be after him...

This is another fast paced, really good read from Patterson and Ledwidge.  I think it's their best yet in this series, and I'm already waiting for Bennett's next adventure.  I highly recommend this book.

If you'd like my copy of this ARC, leave a comment here on the blog, and email me at info @ (take the spaces out) with your name and address and why you'd like to read this one.  I'll pick a winner in about a week.

Be Healthy! Mavis Jukes and Lilian Cheung

Subtitle:  It's a Girl Thing:  Food, Fitness, and Feeling Great.  This is a great book that teaches about health in a fun way and how to incorporate good eating habits into your life.

Alfred A Knopf Books for Young Readers sent me a trade paperback of this book for review.  It is currently available at your local bookstore and was written for ages 10 and up.

The authors have done a good job of grouping the information they want to share and offering it in small "sound bites". (Maybe I should say "read bites"?)  It can be read straight through, or you can skip around.  Perhaps one chapter appeals to you more than another.  But I think the young ones will probably end up reading the whole book once they get started.

They can learn to read labels, how to keep food safe, and it offers suggestions for exercise and reasons for why they should.  All in a non-offensive way and done with enough facts to make it worth reading.  They even offer a Cactus plan...

Help fight child obesity by giving your child the tools they need to make a difference.  Visit your local bookshop and pick up a copy.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Blue House Dog by Deborah Blumenthal

The dog lived at the blue house with an old man until the old man died...

Peachtree Publishers sent me a copy of this children's picture book for review (thank you).  The book is currently available at your local bookstore.  The story is written for ages 4-8.

Cody once had a dog he loved dearly, but Teddy got sick and died.  He's still sad about that, but he realizes that his pet is still with him in his memories.

When the German Shepherd starts haunting the neighborhood, Cody remembers where he used to live, before the old man's death.  He also notices that the dog has one brown eye and one blue.

He and the dog both aren't sure they want another relationship or if they can trust each other.  But Cody feeds the dog here and there.  The neighborhood has named him "Bones" because he's so skinny.  The dog eats, but runs.  With time, they both begin to trust each other and their relationship improves.

The author does a nice job of showing that even if you have loved and lost, you can love again.  This can be a good way to let a child learn about loss and talk about it before they have to face it themselves.

This is a positive tale, why not share it with your young ones?

A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull

Jason was bored with his life and wanted more adventure, but he never expected to fall into the hippo tank at his zoo job and be transported to another world...

Simon & Schuster's Children's Publishing group sent me an eGalley of this book for review (thank you).  It's due to come out at the end of March, 2011.  This is a new series about the Beyonders.  Mr. Mull previously wrote a series about Fablehaven that consists of six books if you'd like to check his work out.

I was not familiar with this author or his previous series when I started reading this book.  I quickly learned he is a popular author and I succumbed to buying the Fablehaven series to read later.

Jason finds himself in an odd world with people who speak English but live in a more medieval time.  He also finds that his response to problems doesn't make him any friends. 

Lyrian is a world that is dominated by a wizard who has broken everyone who dared challenge him.  He doesn't kill them, he wounds them sufficiently so that they are no longer a danger.  Their deformities make them recognizable as fallen enemies and discourage new disagreements.

When Jason finds the locals are angry with him and may hurt him, he escapes in the woods and suddenly finds the Repository of Learning.  The man within is the Loremaster, and he's very glad to have some company.  However, what Jason learns there puts him even more in danger...

This is truly a world with heroes, and they could really use one right now.  By disobeying the Loremaster, Jason is suddenly involved in a quest that is dangerous and his path is unknown.  But he has no choice except to move forward.

As he does, he soon meets another "Beyonder".  Rachel was following a butterfly and found herself in the Lyrian world.  She joins him in his journey.  But the wizard already knows they are there and is sending men and monsters after them.

Mr. Mull creates a fantasy world that is full of danger, has creatures beyond belief, and a history of strong wizard dictators.  He inserts two normal teens who must try to figure out the customs and dangers of their new world as well as how to accomplish their mission.

It's a fast, fascinating read and young adults should love this new adventure series.  There will be more to come.  And that's a good thing.

Happy reading!

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time by Mary Pope Osborne

The Magic Tree House series has been around for years, but Random House has given the adventure a whole new look by offering a dedicated website at and new research guides to go with the story.  It's a great combination that will work great for teachers and homeschoolers as well as Mom's that want to encourage their children to learn.

Random House Books for Young Readers sent me a copy of the hardcover novel and a trade paperback of Rags and Riches, Kids in the Time of Dickens, the research guide, for review (thank you).  These are books are currently available at your local bookshop.  Sal Murdocca is the illustrator for both.

I'm impressed.  The stories have always intrigued me because you never know where the children are going to go next, and each adventure is in a different time and place with information about the people and the lives they lead then.  There's usually a bit of danger, there are always challenges, and somehow Ms. Osborne always makes each tale seem fresh, even though this is her 44th book in this series.

The research guide is impressive.  There a lot of pictures and much more information about the time period of the book.  It's put together in a format that will keep young eyes reading even if it's not fiction.  I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't lead them to look for more books or articles about child labor in that era.

The website is interactive and has more for the children to learn along with games and activities.  It has resources for educators or parents to use.

Here's an easy way to introduce your child to a way of learning that is fun.  Buy a copy of this book and the research guide and share a journey to Dicken's world with your young one.

Happy reading!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Imagine a world in the future where people are perfect:  no more physical flaws or illness.  Then imagine that after the first generation all women die at 20 and all men at 25.  It would make life rather desperate, wouldn't it?

Simon and Schuster shared an eGalley with me so I could review this book.  It will be published in hardcover on March 22, 2011.  This is the first book in The Chemical Garden Trilogy.  It impressed me enough that I will be watching for the next book in the series.

Rhine knows she and her brother have a limited time to live, but she tries to do the best she can to help their household by working.  Their parents are dead and they have to barricade their home from other less fortunate folks who would steal from them.  Or even worse, turn Rhine into a sex slave...

When Rhine goes to apply for a job, she's snagged and thrown in van, then shown to a Lord who is picking women for his son.  Three young girls are chosen, the others are killed.

Rhine and her other two "sisters" are taken to the Lord's mansion where they are readied for marriage.  The son's first wife is ill and nearing the end of her life, despite frantic attempts to keep her alive.  These three women are her replacement and another "first wife" will be picked to replace her.

The plot centers on Rhine, but each character has strengths and weaknesses.  Total strangers at first, the girls become close through necessity.  The son is a weaker version of his father, and he goes to pieces on first wife's death.  But he has plenty of company to console him...

This whole concept sends chills up and down my spine.  Knowing when you will die is hard.  Sharing your husband with two others is hard.  And there is no happy ending for anyone in sight.

The author does an excellent job of creating a world that you may hate, but you can see how it could happen.  The story line draws you in and as you watch the characters interact, you wonder how it's going to turn out.  It didn't turn out the way I expected, but the story's not done yet.

This is the first in a triple series, and I expect the author will keep the same tense pace with even more interesting revelations about the characters and the "future" world.  It's a cross between science fiction and fantasy with a bit of romance to keep you reading.

I highly recommend this book.  It's entertaining, thought-provoking, and will make you hunger for the next in the series.

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...