Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Ugly Princess by Elizabeth K Burton

This story had me from the first sentence:  "The truth might never have come to light had the king not gotten drunk at his wedding banquet and choked to death on a pheasant bone."

Zumaya Otherworlds has published this book and shared a copy with me for review (thank you).  It is available for sale on their facebook page: Zumaya Publications

I have to share one of my most mortifying moments with you.  As I was picking which books I thought would be interesting reading, I asked if this was a good book and would hold my attention.  (Light fluffy fantasy is not my fave.)  The woman I was speaking with replied:  "Well, I think it's a good story.  But I may not be a good judge because I wrote it."  Boy, was I embarrassed.  It's really not polite to ask an author if their book is worth reading.  Sigh...  At least she didn't get insulted or upset about it.  But I'd recommend other reviewers don't stick their foot in their mouth (or keyboard) like I did!

This WAS a good read.  When the King dies before he consummate his next marriage, the Kingdom goes to his daughter.  Both wife and daughter were sent far away and "incarcerated" for their safety and so the King didn't have to see them anymore.  No one has seen her, but they have heard she's ugly.

This is not a fairy tale.  It's the story of castle hierarchy and tradition, different cultures, spying and intrigue, and a power struggle.  The Royal Champion goes to bring her home and turns his life upside down.  Not only does he have the misfortune to fall in love with her, the new developments at the castle mean she will no longer need a Royal Champion.  Will his life even be worth living?

The story kept my interest from beginning to end.  I really enjoyed it and my copy is going in my permanent library.  The author was correct.  It's a very good read.  

Why not get yourself a copy and meet Dagger Jack as well as the Royal Champion and the Princess.  I think you'll find Dagger Jack in a future tale.  The attempt to acquire the castle and its lands hasn't ended yet.

Happy reading.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Home Front by Kristin Hannah

After losing her parents at the ages of seventeen, all Jolene wanted in her life was consistency and order.  Everything needed to be under control and in its place.  So she joined the military service.

St. Martin's Press sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It will be published at the end of January.  Make a note of it on your TBR list.  This is an exceptional book.

Jolene set her parents life and death behind her.  She had so much pain involved with her earlier life that she moved past it and started a new life.  But the damage done when you are young never really goes away...

She has a husband and two girls that she loves deeply.  She flies a Blackhawk helicopter and loves it.  She runs every morning, has a menu schedule she follows and she's content with her life.  Then her husband, Michael, tells her he doesn't love her anymore.  She knew they were not sharing things like they used to, but she wasn't ready for this. On top of that, she gets deployed.

I was very impressed with how authentic the military life was depicted.  I've read non-fiction accounts of the war and the facts in those line up with the facts shown in this fictional account.  I discovered that the reason it was the quality of the tale it was had to do with her advisor, Warrant Officer Teresa Burgess.  Someone who has the experience can definitely add value to the story.

Here is video of Kristin's interview with her:  Interview

War is ugly and leaves its mark on everyone.  If you look at the eyes of Ms. Burgess, they have the shadows of those who have seen too much.  She's a beautiful woman, but constant danger and death takes its toll on anyone.

This is a story of family life and how two people who have grown apart deal with separation and family life.  Michael hadn't done much with his daughters, he worked.  He has no choice now.  Jolene is fearful she may never make it home and who will teach her girls motherly things?  And the girls feel deserted and are very unhappy to have only Dad.

There are all new challenges yet to come in this relationship and Ms. Hannah does a very nice job of expressing the emotions and torment of military families.

This is very good read, even if it made me cry.  It's about the Iraq war, but it's really about any war.  Whichever family member goes to war, they just don't come home quite the same.  The underlying theme in war is loss.  Why not read this book and see how this family deals it?

If you'd like to win my ARC of this book, leave a comment here on my blog and email info at with your NAME AND ADDRESS and why you would like to win the book.

Happy reading.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tom's Tweet by Jill Esbaum

This is one of the cutest picture books I've read in a long time and I loved it.  In fact, it's so special, I'm keeping my copy for my permanent library.  Even being a grandmother's age, I want to read it again and again to make me smile...

Alfred A Knopf sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It was published on November 8th, so you can get a copy at your local bookstore now.  It was written for ages 5-8.

Dan Santat is the illustrator and his illustrations make the book outstanding!  Imagine Mommy bird almost pulling Tom's whiskers out because he has her baby.  His picture of that made me laugh.

Poor Tom.  He was going to eat him, but Tweet was just feather and bone, so he tried to put him back.  No luck with Mommy bird pecking at him.  So he sets him down and tries to ignore him, but Tweet is unhappy.  Tom decides he's hungry, but he's too small to eat worms.  So Tom has to chew the worms for him.  Oh, the indignities a cat suffers trying to raise a bird... Then little Tweet wants to sleep with him.  Will it never stop?

This is a marvelous story with luscious illustrations.  I don't see how any child would not find amusing and humorous.  If I had a little one in my family, I'd share it with them.  Check it out at the store.  I bet you take it home with you.

Happy reading.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Fairy and her Giant by Kristen James

This whole adventure started when Stephen stepped in and stopped the crowd from beating up the old, sick pirate.  He was just being kind; he never expected any reward.  He certainly didn't expect to get handed a fairy!

You can get a copy of this ebook from Amazon right now.  I snagged it as a free copy when it was offered because I've read other books by this author and she always writes good tales.

Trisha is very tiny and very pretty.  The first thing Stephen does is get her out of the ugly cage she's incarcerated in.

After a meal and a good sleep, he then continues his search for his brother.  His brother likes to wander and Stephen always goes to find him and takes him home again. One thing Stephen hadn't counted on was that his brother would join the band of pirates and steal a necklace from the captain.  Soon he and Trish are running for their lives.

Trish soon names Stephen "Phen" and they find that they are attracted to each other.  Trish can become bigger for a short time, but it doesn't last.

This is a short novella that is fun to read.  It's a light tale that will amuse you.  Can love prevail with pirates on their tail and the size problem?  You'll have to read it and see.

Happy reading.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

She is a secretary working for a temporary agency and just barely getting by.  When she has a chance for work, she's determined to take it.  She can assist the gentleman with his paperwork easily enough.  Then he asks her to become a ghost hunter...

Penguin and Net Galley shared an ebook with me for review (thank you).  The book will be published the first week of March, so add it to your TBR list for the future.

Sarah Piper is a young woman with no future.  Her parents have died, she has no man in her life, and she just wants to earn enough to keep her small boring room and eat.  Such desperation makes her say yes to Alistair.  

The story is set in the 1920's and most young men have all been scarred by WWI.  Alistair and his work partner are no exception.  Both have very bad memories and wounds from the war.

The reason Alistair needs Sarah is because the ghost he's trying to contact hates men.  The reason Maddy hates men is a very valid one, and has to do with why she committed suicide.  The problem is that she won't go to rest.  She's torturing the women who took her in and raised her by making all kinds of noise and breaking things.

One of the things I liked best about this story is that it turns into a mystery.  Who did what to Maddy and why?  Why is everyone in the small village refusing to talk about it.  And what will it take to make Maddy leave?

Ms. St. James' characters are believable and draw you into the story.  There's romantic interest thrown in to make the story flow more easily, and I had no way to foresee the ending.  I'm not big on ghost stories, but I really enjoyed this one.  Sarah grows into her full potential, justice is served even if it's harsh, and there's the possibility of "happily ever after" at the end.  What more could you want?

Get a copy and try it.  I bet you'll enjoy it, too.

Happy reading.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Abducted by Theresa Ragan

Lizzy kissed her boyfriend goodnight and then walked down the street towards home.  She didn't want to let her parents know he'd dropped her off.  She never made it home that night...

Ms. Ragan gave me a copy of this ebook to read (thank you).  It has been published and you can get a copy in ebook or paperback form now.

This is the story of a serial killer that has never been apprehended.  There is a man in jail that confessed to being the killer, but he's not.  When the killing start again, everyone begins to realize that.

Lizzy did the impossible.  She escaped; but her mind isn't free.  The time she spent with the man was a living nightmare.  He wore a mask and disguised his voice.  He traumatized her badly enough she thought she had injuries.  It was the other kidnapped girls he had tortured in front of her that actually had those injuries.  She could never feel safe again.

And then the worst possible thing happened.  He started killing again and he called her...

This is a fast paced story that will grip your interest and keep you turning pages to see who wins this battle.  Lizzy beat him once, he's determined not to let that happen again.  She's equally determined to not let him have her again.  But when he steals her niece, what can she do?

I read it so fast, I could read it again and pick up more details.  I bet it catches your attention just like it did mine.  Buy it, you'll like it.

Happy reading. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Stealing Magic by Marianne Malone

Someone is stealing antiques from the miniature rooms in the museum and it's taking the magic out of them.  The worst part is that the thief is an adult...

Random House allowed me to read an ebook of the story (thank you).  It's a sequel to The Sixty-Eight Rooms, which I really enjoyed reading.  The book will be on sale on January 24th, so check with your local bookstore to pre-order a copy.

These stories remind me of the Littles.  The children in the story use a key to make themselves five inches high and then explore the miniature worlds.  The even more magical part of the story is when they can actually enter the past and visit with the people living there.

Ms. Malone does an excellent job of making her characters interesting and entertaining.  You can feel the young ones worries and concern about how to find the lost antique items and get them back to the museum.  They also meet a couple of girls from the past which adds a historical aspect to the story.

I found it a very enjoyable read and it should fascinate young adult readers.  This is a stand alone book but it would be more fun to read if you get them the first book in this series, too.  It helps build the background for the second book.  Why not get them a copy and share it with them?

Happy reading.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman by J B Lynn

She's only doing what she has to do to pay for the cost of care of her little niece, who is also her Godchild.  She doesn't know if she can, but she knows she has to...

HarperCollins sent me a copy of this in ebook form for review (thank you).  It's being published by Avon/Mira at the end of January, so add it to your TBR list now.

This story reminded me of Janet Evanovich's series with Stephanie Plum.  I think Maggie and Steph would like each other.

Maggie is a very interesting character.  She works for an insurance claims office answering calls and questions.  She's mild, has no boyfriend, and isn't aggressive.  Her new responsibilities are overwhelming.  Critical care is not cheap and her Godchild is in a coma and needs the best of care.

When she accidentally bumps into a man in the hospital corridor after the funerals and he's totally rude, she's about as stressed out as she can be.  She decides to tell him off and follows him into the room to find him trying to smother a child to death.  She picks up a chair and bats him in the head and manages to get away when he tries to get even.  After security hauls him away, she meets his father-in-law.
When the father-in-law offers enough money to care to for her little one in an excellent facility just for killing that bastard that tried to kill his own son, she first thinks no.  Then she thinks yes.  She feels she has no choice.

Throw three witches (some people put a "b" at the beginning of that word), two cops, a handicap seer, and a talking lizard in and you have the mix of characters that Ms. Lynn created for this story.

I found myself laughing though out the story.  This tale is a hoot.  I'm also sure that there will be more of Maggie May in future books.  Her story is just getting started.  

I really enjoyed this tale.  Imagine a tiny Lizard named Godzilla who asks you to call him God for short.  This book has one...

Happy reading.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

An O'Brien Family Christmas by Sherryl Woods

Laila's world has fallen apart.  She thought she'd be able to take over her father's bank position when he retired, but he doesn't want her there.  Her boyfriend was wonderful in bed, but younger than her and her father doesn't like him or what he's doing to her reputation.  So she quits her job, dumps her boyfriend and makes herself even more miserable...

Mira Books and Net Galley allowed me the opportunity to read this ebook (thank you).  It has now been published and would make a very nice holiday read.

Laila is totally depressed but determined to soldier on and develop her own business without either of the men who have ruined her life.  But she didn't take into account the O'Brien clan.  They are a nice big family with lots of opinions, a bunch of nosiness, and lots of determination to get Laila back with Matthew.  When his grandmother comes to visit, she agrees to go with the family to Dublin to celebrate Christmas.  After all, she's not going home then.

You have everything from newly married couples, old loves coming together again, Matthew and Laila deciding to "date" and see how it goes, down to Grandma's love interest that no one knew anything about.

We had big family dinners when I was growing up, but the O'Briens outdid the size of ours.  There is conflict, intrigue, budding love, reborn love, and pregnancy in this family.  You definitely won't be bored.  Why not grab a copy and have a fun read about a family that loves each other, but still has their own opinions...

Happy reading.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More Than Memories by Kristen James

Imagine waking up and not even knowing who the people are in your hospital room.  They say they are your parents, but you can't remember them...

Ms. James gave me a copy of her ebook for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can get a copy on Amazon now.

Molly can remember nothing of her past.  She finds it very frustrating.  Her best friend is a nurse from the hospital, and Karen thinks the fact that she has not recovered from her head injury may be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and not just related to the head injury.  She feels that Molly's mind is blocking a bad memory from the past.  Molly senses that and is concerned about what she might not want to remember...

Ms. James words flow across the page and catch your interest before you're past the first two pages.  Having no memory of your life before frightens me.  Especially when Molly finally finds the town in Oregon that used to be her home and finds out that she and her parents just disappeared one day.  No one knew where they had gone.

Why would they have done that?  Why didn't they tell her anything about the past?  Why did they lie to her about what they did say?  And why does the local cop feel so much like an old friend?

The author does a very good job of showing Molly's hesitation and Trent's (the cop) worry about how much to share how soon.

This is a good read.  It has an usual plot with a nice romantic interest.  It's a nice light read that will work well for entertainment while you sit in front of your fire and have a hot chocolate.  Just don't choke on your chocolate as the story gets exciting.

Happy reading.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kill Them All by Harry Shannon

Matt should know better than to go into a small town.  It gets him in trouble every time...

Lee Goldberg sent me a copy of this novelette to read and review (thank you).  It's part of the Dead Man series and is available on Amazon now.

Matt has the Dark Man after him and has to stay continuously on the move.  He's hunting for his enemy and wants to kill him and stop the hunt, but somehow the Dark Man never cooperates with his desires.

When Matt stops to help a girl who has fallen down a mine shaft, he finds himself stopping long enough to be thanked and long enough to hear about a new batch of badies that are after him.

He thought he had trouble enough before, but there's new danger brewing for him...

These tales are creepy, bloody, and horror-filled.  You won't set the story down and get up to go do something else.  I'm sure you'll read them right through so you can see what happens.  The stories grasp and grab you and it's a rough ride to the end.

Grab yourself a copy and see if you find it boring - ha!

Happy reading.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Marriage Carol by Chris Fabry, Gary Chapman

This is a very interesting Christmas story.  Think of Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas past and meet Mrs. Ebeneezer, on her way to sign divorce papers on Christmas Eve.  She's about the meet the ghosts of marriage past, present and future...

Moody Publishers and Net Galley shared this book with me (thank you).  It was published in September, so you can pick up a copy now.

It wasn't until I reached the end of this story that I realized it had been written by a male author.  The main focus of the story is on the wife and her feelings. It sounds very authentic and the emotions he expresses are feminine.  I was surprised to see that a man wrote it; he did a very good job.

Jake and Marlee have decided their marriage is at the end.  They no longer share things with each, the thrill is gone, and they are more angry with each other than in love.  They are on their way to town to meet with the lawyer and sign the divorce decree.  But when they meet an oncoming truck and swerve off the side of the road, Marlee goes on another journey...

Marlee goes for help and the old man she finds has her melt snow in a pot on the fireplace and read what she finds in the water.  She sees the beginning of her marriage.  Then she sees her marriage as it currently is.  And, at the end, she sees what will become of them after they end their marriage and how their children turn out.

What will she do with the reflections and visions she has seen?  You'll have to read the book to see.

I found the story premise interesting and entertaining. 

This is a nice tale to read around Christmas time.  Why not get yourself a copy?

Happy reading.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Bastard by Brenda Novak

He's much older than she is but marrying him will help her parent's financial situation.  She's willing to sacrifice herself to the old goat for that.  But not when she finds out that he plans to let other men sleep with her in order to breed him a heir...

Net Galley gave me the opportunity to read this ebook for review (thank you).  It was published December 10th, so you can get a copy now.

Jeanette is an attractive young lady and a virgin.  She has no desire to be "shared" with other men.  When her brother overhears the conversation, she runs from her groom on her wedding night.

There are not a lot of choices for a fleeing female who has married a Baron.  He owns her.  She thinks she may be able to plead her case with a relative of hers, the Duke, but she has to get to London first.  Then she has a bright idea on how to get aboard a ship.  She'll go on as a boy and it will only be a few days until she gets to Londo.  That can't be hard, can it?

She cuts her hair, dresses in a sailor's clothes and asks for a job.  Since a sailor didn't return from his big night out on the town, she gets the job.  But it doesn't turn out at all like what she planned.

They are pulled from the regular run by an order to help form a barricade to protect Great Britain from French forces.  And her disguise doesn't last long...

I enjoy stories about life at sea on the old sailing ships, especially with stowaways or female cabin boys.  This romance between Jeanette and Treynor is fun to follow.  She doesn't want anything to do with men.  He doesn't want to love or marry anyone because he's a bastard and has no place in society.

This is an entertaining romance with lots of action and a good story line.  Why not get a copy and have a nice read yourself?

Happy reading.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ollie the Purple Elephant by Jarrett J Krosoczka

Who wouldn't love a happy purple elephant named Ollie who likes to dance?  The tenant in the apartment below, that's who!

Alfred A Knopf sent me a copy of this picture book for review (thank you).  It was published the first part of October and is available at your local bookstore now.

Little ones who love stories about pets will enjoy this story.  Ollie is looking for a home and gets adopted by a young family.  He learns to play hopscotch and kickball.  He also loves the dance parties the McLaughlins have after dinner.

However, the cat is not fond of this usurper and wants him gone.  So she conspires with the downstairs neighbor to remove the purple monster from their building.  They put him a circus...

Here's a copy of the book trailer to entice you into buying a copy:  Ollie

This is an interesting tale with an unusual ending and will certainly charm the little readers.  Why not put a copy under your tree for them?

Happy reading.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Born and Bred in the Great Depression by Jonah Winter

The Great Depression touched everyone in the United States.  It was so big and overwhelming that survival became the name of the game.  Here is a picture book that can help your young ones understand exactly how this event impacted families.  It can also be a good way to talk about your own family's economic condition in the present time.

Schwartz & Wade published this picture book in early October and sent me a copy for review (thank you).  You can get a copy at your local bookstore now.

My grandparents lived through the Great Depression and the one thing it made them was frugal.  You did not waste money.  You didn't need the best or the name brand item.  If it would suffice, that's what you got.  You made a lot of your own goods instead of buying them.  And I don't remember them ever eating "out".  Fast food would have made them barf.

This story is set in East Texas in the 1930's.  This is the story of the author's father and how he grew up with seven siblings in a tiny house during the Depression.

The illustrations are old fashioned and show life at simpler time, when people made do with what they had.  There are photos on the endpapers showing his family, which makes the story even more real to the young ones.

I can also attest that hobos do put marks on homes that are friendly and will provide a sandwich and a glass of water.  They visited our farm house when I was a child.  The habits of long ago don't die as long as folks still ride the rail.

Here's a nice history lesson done in a mellow way that brought back memories for me and will teach young ones not to forget the lessons we've already learned.

Happy reading.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Feral: Book 1 in the Werecat Saga by Jami Lynn Saunders

This is a really creepy story...

711 Press shared a copy of this ebook with me and I'm glad they did (thank you).  It's available for download now on Amazon.

Earth has changed.  War and viruses have taken their toll and it's not safe "outside".  There are gangs, ferals and more out there.

The last virus that ripped through the land turned humans who survived the virus into werecats.  However, until the change comes, they appear to be just normal.  There were other feral creatures, too.  And those who lived in the wild had become truly wild.  They weren't even sane anymore.

When Pippa goes out for a walk after her birthday party, she has no intention of going so far or running into a gang of boys.  She knew she was even in more trouble when they attempt to rape her.  But what nobody knew was that she was a werecat...

The fact that she has transformed puts her in even greater danger.  She must travel across country to try to find her parents.  Pippa thought they were dead, but it appears that wasn't true.  Or at least it wasn't years ago.

The story of her journey and the dangers she faces is filled with terror and will keep you glued to your seat.  I'll be watching for next installment in this series.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Every-Day Dress-Up by Sedlina Alko

There's dress-up and there's dress-up.  This little girl doesn't dress-up as princess any more.  Now she's dressing up in character and choosing women of history... 

Alfred A Knopf sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It was published in October.  This would make a very nice gift for a young girl who aspires to be more than just fashion model for men.

Each day she chooses a new female hero to mimic.  I was amused by her choices.  It ranges from Julia Child to Ella Fizgerald with others in between.  There is small biography for each woman.  I really liked that feature.  It may encourage the child to read more about these women.

Teach your young one about women who made history and maybe even let them dress up and do some cooking and singing; it'd be fun!

Here's the book trailer to let you sample the book:

This is a low key introduction to history that is presented in a very enjoyable manner.  Why not share it with your family?

Happy reading.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Clockwork Christmas by Stacy Gail, P G Forte, Jenny Schwartz, J K Coi

This is an anthology of short romantic stories for Christmas with a steampunk kick to them.  I really enjoyed reading them!

Net Galley and Carina Press allowed me a copy of this ebook for review (thank you).  It has been published on the 5th, so you can buy a copy now.  

The subtitle on the book is :  A Steampunk Christmas Anthology.  Steampunk has a taste of Jules Vern's magic in it.  There are a variety of odd mechanical toys, vehicles, and human improvements that are offered in steampunk stories and that really appeals to me.  My fascination with genre took me by surprise.  I didn't expect to like it that well, but it seems I love it.  Who would have thought so?

These stories have a romantic side to them which adds some warmth to the cold themes of the stories.  Most steampunk is set in era that resembles the Victorian age and they normally have at least one evil character in them.  That's what my reference to a cold theme was referring to.

My favorite story was Crime Wave in a Corset by Stacy GailThey were all good, but this one caught my heart.  She's a thief extraordinaire and he wants his sister's Faberge egg back.  His method of getting what he wants is to install an explosive timepiece on her wrist that she can't remove without causing her own death.  She's very headstrong and independent and so's he.  This is a very lively story with a wonderful ending.  

It's worth buying the book to get this story, and you have three more to read when you finish this one.  How can you lose?  If steampunk or strong personalities fascinate you, you'll love this read.

Happy reading.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Little Red Hen App


The Little Red Hen Is Now an App Available on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch

(December 12, 2011, New York, NY)—Random House Children’s Books ( announced today that The Little Red Hen app, the second in a growing line of Little Golden Books apps, is now available in the iTunes store. The classic Little Golden Book that adults loved as children is even sillier and more stunning in this magically interactive storybook app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is released on the heels of The Poky Little Puppy app, the first Little Golden Books app which became available in August 2011.

Beloved illustrator J. P. Miller’s graphic, colorful farm animals seem to jump right off the page—but they aren’t jumping to help the Little Red Hen plant her wheat! Young children will learn a valuable lesson about teamwork from this funny, favorite folktale. Beloved by children and adults of all ages, The Little Red Hen is an essential part of any child’s home library. The Little Red Hen app retails for $3.99.

This engaging app has been specifically designed to encourage reading and listening comprehension skills, and to reinforce core preschool-level concepts. Users can open the cover, complete with its distinctive gold spine, to reveal the whimsical story, with funny interactive illustrations on every page that will have kids giggling. Plus, the app encourages learning with the Little Golden Book Hide & Seek Challenge, which can be played at the end of each page to unlock bonus stickers. When the story is over, users can create their very own storybook scene with the stickers they collected and save their masterpiece to the device’s photo album. Making this app experience even more unique, users can personalize their app with their name and photograph on the inside cover. This beautifully crafted app makes storytime a special time that parents and children will cherish together.

Users have three options for experiencing the app. They can watch and listen as words are highlighted while the text is read aloud. They can also turn off the narration to read at their own pace (with individual words read aloud with the tap of a finger). Lastly, they can record their own voice to be played on each page.

Random House Children’s Books collaborated with leading digital media agency Smashing Ideas, which Bertelsmann AG acquired in May 2011 for its Random House, Inc., division. For more information about other apps also available from Random House Children’s Books, 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, ebooks, and apps, 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 website, 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.

Smashing Ideas, founded in 1996, has become one of the leading digital media agencies for the youth market by creating immersive, interactive content that transforms consumer-driven brand experiences in a digital world. Cartoon Network, Disney, GE, Hasbro, Nickelodeon, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Verizon Wireless, and more have called upon the company to develop engaging online, ITV, and mobile experiences for their audiences. In May 2011, Bertelsmann AG acquired Smashing Ideas, Inc., for its Random House, Inc., division. Smashing Ideas is based in Seattle, with offices in Portland and in the U.K.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Blame It On The Mistletoe by Joyce Magnin

She's been dating Zeb for years and believes she loves him.  But then Cliff and his airplane show up in Bright's Pond and her heart gets confused...

Abingdon Press and Net Galley allowed me to read an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  This story has been published and you can get a copy at your local bookstore.

I had the read the previous story set in Bright's Pond about Charlotte Figg and the trailer village Paradise, so I was looking forward to reading this story.

Bright's Pond is a small community and everybody knows everybody else's business.  (I used to live in a small town, and that's how life really is in such environment.  That's part of why I moved...)

Griselda is visiting her sister, Agnes, at the nursing home she's staying in while trying to lose weight and get to a normal size.  What's odd is that the little old lady across the hall has her tricycle outside out the door.  When Griselda asks about it, Agnes tells her she rides up and down the hall and rings its bell, just like she's a little kid.  And an old couple out in the gazebo that was recently built are smooching and planning on marriage.  What's going on?

Turns out the gazebo builder is also at Paradise, fixing the fountain that hasn't worked for years.  When the local cop tries to talk to the "arteest", she finds he's fast talking and evasive and it makes her even more interested in who he is.

Griselda's boyfriend, Zeb, asks her to marry him again.  It's been on and off for years now, but seeing Cliff around has made it "on" again.  Grizzy is sure she loves Zeb, but she loves Cliff's plane and the freedom she feels from flying.  When Cliff expresses an interest in her and gives her a kiss, she really gets confused.  Who does she really love?

This is a busy story set during the holidays, which gives it a certain ambiance that melds well with Grizzy's confusion.  So much to do and so little time.  It's a mellow read and fit right in with all the activities you still have to do for Christmas.  Why not get a copy and take a break every now and again and read another chapter?  It'll keep your stress at bay.

Happy reading.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Holiday Kisses by Jaci Burton, Shannon Stacey, HelenKay Dimon, Alison Kent

Want a warm, cozy read for the holiday season?  This book will work for you!

Carina Press and Net Galley let me read the ebook for review (thank you).  This book has been published and you can get a copy for yourself now.

This is an anthology of Christmas tales filled with romance and sex.  If your taste is hot romance, this set of stories fits the bill.

From a widow who doesn't want to lose her best friend, to a young woman determined to do what's important to her even though she loves the man she's leaving behind, to a nurse afraid she may not see her Grandmother again once she leaves for a foreign country, to a construction boss who didn't want to fall in love with his ex's little sister, you'll keep reading and smiling.  

It's silly how people will fight against how they feel because it will cause problems in their lives.  I find being married and having a husband has made it easier to conquer my problems myself.  However, that would make a boring story wouldn't it?

These stories are not boring, have a lot of Christmas spirit and romance.  They're a very nice batch of stories to read while you're sitting in your favorite chair in front of the fireplace.  Why not get a copy for you or put one under the Christmas tree for another reader in your family?

Happy reading.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach

Since I'm a country girl, I never ever rode a subway.  This is the story of one particular car on the east coast and I found it fascinating reading.  History is more fun when it's done in picture book form.

Alfred A Knopf sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore.

The author is writing about the 1960s-era subway cars that eventually outlived their use.  She talks about when they are new, the various color changes and uses they went through in their life on the rail, and how they are recycled at the end.

It's not a sad story.  The cars are used to create artificial reefs in the Atlantic and now are filled with fish instead of people.  But they're still doing their duty!

Why not teach your young ones about the history of subway cars and how they are being recycled?  Maybe there are some things in your home that can be recycled, too.

Happy reading.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Into the Outdoors by Susan Gal

Let's go camping and see how much fun we can have!

Alfred A Knopf sent me a copy of this children's picture book for review (thank you).  It's written for ages 5-9 and is currently available at your local bookstore.

Ms. Gal uses her story about camping to introduce your child to prepositions.  I didn't even notice it while reading it.  However, looking at the text more closely, I see she has highlighted the prepositions.  If you ever diagrammed a sentence, you'll recognize those words as being descriptive phrases.  This is an opportunity to teach your child the same knowledge.

The camping trip is fun for the family and the animals all follow along and mimic them.  It's a cute story.  The only caveat I'd offer is that the young boy sees the animals and thinks they're cute and his friends.  Since the animal group includes a bear and other large animals, I'd explain to the young reader that those animals need to respected.   Animals are our friends, but they can also be dangerous.

All in all, it's a very cute book about hiking and camping with animal friends and your child will gain an understanding of prepositions while reading it.  Why not get a copy and enjoy it together?

Happy reading.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Power of Cute by Charise Mericle Harper

What's the strongest superpower you know?  I bet cute isn't on the list...

Robin Corey Books sent me a copy of this cute graphic novel that is told with lift-the-flaps, pull-tbs, and pop-ups to review (thank you).  It was published the first part of October and would make a nice Christmas gift for a young one.

An outrageously dressed monster runs into a baby and decides to scare him, but it doesn't work.  When he tells the monster he has a superpower, the monster doesn't believe him.  He asks him about various powers and the baby admits he doesn't have any of those.  However he has the power of cute.  And the monster has no idea what's coming next!

This is a cute story with fun graphics and a very nice ending.  It'll be a hit with the young ones.  Why not share the power of cute with yours?

Happy reading.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Secret Ingredient by Laura Schaefer

Annie from The Teashop Girls is back and this time she's in a baking contest!

Ms. Schaefer sent me a copy of her book for review (thank you).  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Reader's has published this book and you can snag a copy now.

I enjoyed "The Teashop Girls" so I was looking forward to seeing what the three young teens were up to now.  They are having growing pains from puberty and their friendships are altering as they mature.  Annie is still jumping to conclusions.
Genna has gone away to school and is coming back for a visit.  Zoe is now going "green" and raising organic crops and trying to get schools to serve healthier foods to children.  Annie is working in the tea shop with her Grandmother and experimenting with cooking.

When Annie finds out that she can win a trip to London by winning the bake-off, she's in.  And she expects her friends to help.  She's working on scones and there are recipes in the book to help you practice on them, too.

Zach is my favorite character.  He teases Annie, gets in the way, and even steals a kiss from her which confuses her greatly.  She doesn't like him so how could his kiss make her feel like this, kind of warm and fuzzy?

Nothing works out quite as smoothly as Annie had planned (that's the way life is), someone is cheating, and will Annie win?  Get yourself a copy of this book and see for yourself.

This is a good read for young teens.  It's a simple story with good recipes and good lessons about life.  What's not to like?

Happy reading.

Monday, December 5, 2011

May B by Caroline Starr Rose

May didn't want to go.  She really really didn't want to go.  But every little bit of money would help, and a newly wed couple needed some assistance in their new cabin.  So she went on the wagon with her father miles away from home to a new homestead to help the new bride.  She thought nothing could be worse.  She was wrong... 

Schwartz & Wade gave me an ebook of this story to read for review (thank you).  They will be publishing the book towards the middle of January, so add it to your TBR list.

I found it easy to relate to May.  I grew up in the country with only family around.  My only exposure to other people was when we went to church on Sunday.

May does not want to leave home and spend the fall and winter months with the newlyweds.  She wants the comfort of her family around her.  Her father tells her the money will help pay for their new home they are building.  Her mother sends her off with the nicest things she owns, knowing that the new lady will have better looking clothes and shoes since she's just arrived from back east.  May appreciates that, but still worries about how life will be in a strange cabin with strange people.  She had reason to worry...

The wife rides into town and doesn't return (May suspects she caught a train heading east) and when the mister goes after he, he never returns either.  So she's all alone 15 miles from home with limited supplies and her father won't be picking her up until Christmas time.  I guess you can't say she's all "alone" because there is a wolf around.  That would be enough to scare me to death.

This is a very realistic tale of about how tough life was when the prairies were just beginning to be populated.  I could feel May's frustrations and fears.  

Why not get yourself a copy of this survival story and see if you think you could do what May did to try to stay alive?

Happy reading.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Oddfellow's Orphanage by Emily Winfield Martin

This story has the flavor of an old Victorian children's story and I like it a lot.  It's simple, filled with odd characters, and it's a pleasant story to read.

Random House Books for Young Readers sent me a copy of this ebook for review (thank you).  It will be published at the end of January, so look for a copy then.

It all starts with a shout in the middle of the night that it's time to collect another child.  The owner of orphanage takes off in a carriage drawn by two bears and returns with a tiny, tow-headed, mute girl.  She's newly orphaned and has many "different" children to meet in her new home.

The nicest message here is that being different doesn't matter.  If only more people in this world felt that way...

Delia can't speak and has white hair.  Another girl is from a tattooed family and has her whole body covered with them.  One girl came with two birds and they stay with her all the time.  The oddest of all are the human-sized hedgehog and the boy with the onion head.  But all fit into life at the orphanage.  They have lessons, they have fun, and they really are like one big family.

It's a good, fun read that should fascinate young readers with imaginations.  Besides all the make believe, it also teaches a lesson in tolerance.  Being different doesn't make you bad.  You can still be a friend.

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...