Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Dispatcher by Ryan David Jahn

This book caught my attention with the first line:  The phone rings. It's your daughter. She's been dead for four months. 

Penguin Books and Net Galley allowed me to download a copy of this ebook for review (thank you).  It was published in paperback in December, so you can grab a copy at your local bookstore now.

Maggie has really been gone for seven years, but Ian's ex-wife just had a funeral four months ago for "closure".  He still has held hope he will find her again, but he understands that it might be impossible.  Then, while working his dispatcher shift at the police department, he hears her voice on the phone.  She only gets a few words out before she's cut off, but Ian has heard her voice and he's on her trail like a hound.

This story is gripping, intense, and mean.  The man who has kidnapped his daughter is not very nice.  He likes to hurt things.  He also has a buried past.

Ian feels he failed his daughter when he went on a date with his wife and left her with her stepbrother babysitting.  It's not his fault, but tell his gut that.  He will do anything to get his child back.

If you like fast action, a character that will go as far as he has to go to get his child back, and a quirky ending, this book is right up your alley.

I really enjoyed this read because I admired Ian's determination and desire to retrieve his child.  He turns into a man who resembles "Dirty Harry", but he needs to be that strong or he'll lose her again.  I also liked the way this author ended it.  It's not cut and tied and can be taken one way or the other.  Why not read this book and tell me how you think it ended?

Happy reading.

Favorite Kills Anthology

This is a collection of short stories done by experienced writers about death.  They have picked their own favorites, and it shows in the quality of the stories.

Lee Goldberg sent me a copy for review and I'm glad he did (thank you).  These stories are quirky, mean, and tough.  You can find a copy of this book on Amazon.

Be careful who you cross in the world because you might not live through it...

Here is a list of the authors and their stories:

Archie's Been Framed by Dave Zeltserman
Night Nurse by Harry Shannon
Solomon & Lord Drop Anchor by Paul Levine
Number 19 by Naomi Hirahara
Sweet Dreams by Vicki Hendricks
House Rules by Libby Fischer Hellmann
Angie by Ed Gorman
Knife Fight by Joel Goldman
Jack Webb's Star by Lee Goldberg
Restraint by Stephen Gallagher
Top of the World by Bill Crider
A Matter of Principal by Max Allan Collins 

I'm sure you recognize some of these names; you sure will if you read mysteries and like noir.

My personal favorite in this collection is Solomon & Lord Drop Anchor.  The couple in this story deserve each other.  They are both conniving, mean enemies of anyone who crosses them.  And they are willing to do something about each.

Each story is dramatically different.  There's a touch of horror, lots of murder, and they read quickly because they are interesting.  Why not get yourself a copy and see how long it takes you to read it?  I bet it'll keep your attention the whole time you're turning those pages.

Happy reading.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Up Cat by Hazel Hutchens

How many things can a cat get up to?  If you own one, you know the answer to that:  Lots!

Annick Press and Net Galley shared a copy of this in ebook form for review (thank you).  It came out as a board book the first of February.  Check with your local bookstore for a copy.

This is very cute little board book that shows all the "ups" in cat's life.  Waking up, getting up, up to no good...  

What I like is that it is a realistic look at a cat's life and teaches your child all the various meanings up the word up.  The illustrations by Fanny are whimsical and will make your child smile.

There is a companion back called Up Dog, so you can share them both with your child or get the one that applies to your family pet.

Make the little one in your life smile and give them a board book they will able to read themselves at a young age.

Happy reading.

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M J Rose

Her father's business is about to go under and her brother, Robbie, is refusing to sell off signature fragrances.  Jac has developed her own life, away from the fragrance line.  And she likes it that way.  But when Robbie goes missing and there is a dead man in his kitchen, she has no choice but to return to Paris and see if she can find him and find out what happened...

Atria Books and Net Galley allowed me to download an ebook to read for review (thank you).  This book will be published on March 13th in hardcover form.

Ms. Jones writes a very detailed historical novel that includes several countries, myth and mystery, reincarnation and the Dali Lama.  You learn about Cleopatra's garden and a special lost fragrance, you visit the past and live in the present, and there are several subplots all tied together.  You won't be bored.

Since there is such detail, the story read a bit slow.  If you like detail and like learning, there's plenty of opportunity for that.  The tale is intriguing.  So is Robbie's response to what he's found.

Why not visit the past and see how it connects to the present?  You can also consider if you would have made the decisions that Jac and Robbie did.

Happy reading.

Monday, February 27, 2012

After the Snow by S D Crockett

Willo lives in a world of snow and ice.  It's all he's known but he understands it wasn't always this way.  He was perfectly content living in the mountains and catching rabbits for food.  They used the skins from the animals they killed for trading stock and for clothes.  Life was good.  Until they took his family away...

Fiewel & Friends and Net Galley allowed me to download an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  It will be published in hardcover on March 27th.  If you like dystopian novels, you'll want to read this book.

Willo can see them from his hiding place on the mountain, but he can't tell what faction the raiders are with.  It could be soldiers, could be the power company looking for workers, or it could be stealers.  Doesn't really matter.  They're gone, and he's going to find them.

This story is eerie because it sounds just like things could happen after a distinct climate change.  It's survival of the fittest, those who have power prey on the weak, and nobody has much of anything.  There's treachery, lies, and hunger.  And Willo's father has secrets he didn't share with him...

I found myself reading this one fast because the story line grabbed me and I hoped the main character, Willo, would be able to find some peace in his life.  In bad times, that can be hard to find.

This was a very good read that young adults will enjoy.  It has sad moments, some of the situations are graphic, but it all has the ring of truth.  Drastic environmental and economic changes bring about odd leaders and events.  What would you do if your world as you knew it ended?

Happy reading.

Last Stop by Peter Lerangis

Why did David's father go out the door one day and never come back?

Open Road and Net Galley allowed me to download an ebook for review (thank you).  This is "Watchers #1" and there will be more to come, I'm sure.  It will be on sale on March 27th.

David knew his Dad was getting a little funny and not functioning well lately but he sure never expected him to disappear.  His mother is also upset, and the police have no answers.

This story reminds me a bit of the "Twilight Zone" stories.  There's always something kind of wavy out there around the edges that you can't quite see, but you know there's something there.

In this case, David is riding the subway when it stops unexpectedly and a lone man gets off at an abandoned station.  He's trying to understand how this could happen when he notices his Dad waving at him!  It's too late for him to get off, but can he go back there?

Mr. Lerangis writes a different story, it has a science fiction feel.  I'm interested in how this story further develops.  It's an intriguing idea.  If your young adult likes to read adventure novels, this is good one for them.

Happy reading.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina

Sonia has been revered by the people of her village as a healer; someone whose prayers can stop death and give them another chance or at least let them feel at peace as they ease their way out of the world.  Sonya believed it, too, until a good friend died despite her prayers.  Then she feels like a fraud...

Candlewick Press and Net Galley allowed me a copy of the book to read for review (thank you).  The book will be published March 13th, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

This is a haunting story about the very poor.  Sonia and her brother, Rafael, are both doing what they can to help their family survive.  They also both have dreams about what more they could earn to make life better.

Sonia gets her opportunity by being chosen to be a servant for a rich family in the capital.  She finds that even if she's gone to live in a nicer home with good pay, life still has problems.

The heroes of this story are the most unlikely characters you can imagine.  Ms. Medina does a very good job of expressing the hopelessness of the village of its people.  The story sounds authentic, has lots of challenges for its characters, and ends with an up note, even it's not the one that Sonia had planned on.

This is a juvenile novel, but anyone who reads it will learn something from it.  And you may think about again later because the story touches you.

Happy reading.

Mrs. Noodlekugel by Daniel Pinkwater

Nick and Maxine aren't thrilled about moving into an apartment building.  There's no place to play outside and nothing to do.  But that was before they found the door in the boiler room...

Candlewick Press and Net Galley let me read an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  It will be published March 13, so check with local bookstore to get a copy.

This is a fun fantasy story for middle school grades.  When Nick and Maxine find that there is a yard and house down in the middle of the surrounding apartments, they want to go visit.  The maintenance man tells them how to get there and advises them not to tell their parents.  A secret is fun!

Imagine when the cat talks to them and they actually meet Mrs. Noodlekugel, an old white haired lady that likes to bake.  Things are unusual in her house.  Gingerbread mice come to life!  It's so much fun they don't even notice the passage of time and are almost late getting home.

Mr. Pinkwater writes a light story with lots of action and silly characters and it's fun to read.  If you have a child who likes make believe, they will love this book.

Happy reading.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Night She Disappeared by April Henry

He had it all figured out.  He picked a nice submissive young lady and noted that she did pizza deliveries.  Then he placed an order to fictitious address and kidnapped her.  But the girl's had switched days and he got the wrong one...

Henry Holt, a division of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and Net Galley allowed me to read this as an ebook for review (thank you).  It will be published March 13th, check with your local bookstore for a copy.

This is a scary story because it could very well happen.  The story is written for young adults but it's strong enough older readers will enjoy it, too.

Drew answered the phone and took the order and ignored the guy's comment about the girl who drove the Mini Cooper.  When Kayla doesn't return, he calls the police.  All he remembers is what pizza the guy ordered, he didn't give him any other clues.  There is no sign of Kayla.

When Drew tells Gabie that the caller asked about her Mini Cooper, she realizes that she was the intended victim and she won't give up trying to find Kayla.  The police believe she's dead, so they aren't a lot of help.

Drew and Gabie both have some issues in their personal life (don't we all?) and as they work together to try to find Kayla, they have to admit some of things they were hiding at work.  It's all very believable.

This author makes her characters strong and determined.  They won't give up.  I like that attribute in people and I liked this book.

If dark areas of the mind bother you, this book will make you shiver.

Happy reading.  

Sumi's Book by Jan Bozarth

Sumi and her mother are shopping in an old antique shop when Sumi finds a worn ornate box that has a broken mirror in it.  The mirror is beautiful and she thinks her mother might like it.  Sumi doesn't know it means she's going on an adventure... 

Random House Kids has published this Yearling Adventure and sent me a copy for review.  It's number five in The Fairy Godmother Academy series.  You can get a copy at your local bookstore now.

Ms. Bozarth writes a good adventure story.  Sumi must collect the mirror shards to make her mirror whole again.  She meets a male guide (who just happens to be good looking), learns to shape shift and almost gets eaten for her efforts to complete her mission.

I like the subtle lesson that is also taught in this story:  You don't have to be perfect and sometimes less can say more.

The story is busy, the characters are charming (except the evil fairy, of course) and while the story ends, the adventures aren't over yet.  Personally, I was wondering if that wonderful boy that helped her in the fairy world ever shows up in her human world...

Why not get a copy and let your young one read it and offer their ideas for continuing Sumi's story?  I'm sure it will be fun to see what they come up with.

Happy reading.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wrong Side of Hell by Juliana Stone

He's on the wrong side of hell because he rescued a girl that should have died.  Now he has to rescue her again?  He really does not want to end up back in hell...

Avon Impulse, a division of HarperCollins allowed me to read an ebook of this novella (thank you).  This is part of the League of Guardians series and will be available for purchase on the 6th of March.

Logan is actually a hellhound, but he's a good looking human when he's in that form.  Still, he wasn't enthused about getting a new assignment in purgatory.  That's a bit too close to hell.  When the angel threatens to disclose his mother's whereabouts, though, he has no choice.

This is an amusing and fast paced story through other dimensions and with demons trying to stop Logan.  He's a very strong male with supernatural powers.  Kira is a now a young woman and has no idea what's going on.  However, that doesn't mean she trusts Logan.  That makes for some good give and take between characters.

I enjoyed this read.  It was an introduction to this series for me, and I'll be watching for League of Guardian books to read.  I like reading about demons...

Happy reading.

10 Valentine Friends by Janet Schulman

This is a bright, fun picture book for young readers that has lots of colors, lots of valentine's cards and they just happen to learn numbers along the way...

Alfred A Knopf sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published and is available at your local bookstore now.

My favorite part of this picture book are the cards the children make each other.  Each page has a larger number of cards, so they learn to count as they turn the pages.  But the text is about the children's aspirations and hopes and interests and that's what decorates the valentine's card for them.  The artwork is child-like and very well done.  

This is great opportunity for you to teach your child how to make a card themselves.  They can draw and color one.  They could use magazine photos and ads to create one.  They could even go fancier with glitter and ribbon and other scrapbooking materials. Why not read this story with them and make your own cards?  

Happy reading!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blue Monday by Nicci French

Rose and her little sister are heading home from school together.  She has enough money to stop at the candy store and get some sweets.  She checks to see that her sister is right behind her and goes in for the candy.  And that was the last time she saw her sister...

Pamela Dorman Books, a division of Penguin, and Net Galley allowed me to read an ebook for review (thank you).  It will be published on March 5th.

If you like thrillers, this book fits the bill.  It's the story of little boy who has gone missing in the present and the little girl that went missing twenty-two years ago.  It begins a bit slowly as details are presented and the characters involved begin to take their places.  Once the pace increases, the story becomes a fascinating look at psychological mind games and the relationship between twins who don't know each other.

The main characters are the cop and the psychiatrist.  Neither likes the other person much, but they have to work together to find this missing child.  Along the way, they discover much more.

I can honestly that the last few pages of this book scared me.  There is a twist at the end that I did not see coming and it made me stop and stare in horror.  This author had me hooked on the story and the characters and that's part of why the impact was so extreme.

Why don't you get a copy and see how you feel about the ending?

Happy reading.

Crow by Barbara Wright

Moses Thomas is just a normal young boy living with his family and enjoying life.  The fact that he's black doesn't bother him.  But it bothers other people...

Random House sent me a copy of this book to review (thank you).  It's a good one to read during black history month and it's currently available at your local bookstore.

This story is set in a time not long after the civil war.  Moses' grandmother, named Boo Nanny, used to be a slave and is a natural healer and still works seven days a week.  She also has some secrets she doesn't talk about.

Moses' father is a newspaper man, his mother works as a nanny, and Moses goes to school.  They are all content with life and happy with each other.  But there is unrest in the country because the whites see black people taking their jobs and gaining some political power.

This was also the era of Jim Crow, which might have inspired the title.  PBS defines Jim Crow as this:  "Jim Crow was not a person, yet affected the lives of millions of people.  Named after a popular 19th-century minstrel song that stereotyped African Americans, "Jim Crow" came to personify the system of government-sanctioned racial oppression and segregation in the United States."

 As Moses' life starts changing with the white man's attack on the black's lives, he begins to understand what life is like under segregation.

Ms. Wright shows you the authentic world of segregation and how it can tear family apart.  This is a very realistic story and I'd suggest discussing it with your child.  I'd like to think it only depicts history but oppression still exists.

This would make a good history lesson for those who haven't explored the past.

Happy reading.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Saving Hope by Margaret Daley

He's a Texas Ranger who is investigating a young girl's death.  She's the founder of a home that helps young women who have been sexually abused learn to trust again and learn to hope for their future.  Since the murdered girl was next to the home's van, Wyatt and Kate meet.

Abingdon Press is publishing this book the first of March.  They and Net Galley allowed me to read the ebook in advance for review (thank you).  This is the first in a new series:  Men of the Texas Rangers.

This is a very good read.  It's set in small town in Texas, involves big money, human trafficking, sexual slaves, and Ms. Daley's main two characters.

The author gives each of her main characters some personal challenges to overcome as well as trying to recover a lost girl.  The story is flows well, the author presents tough subjects honestly, and it's a struggle to the end to see whether good or evil wins.  Even the good folks aren't very nice in some cases.

Everybody in this story learns something on the way.  It's terrifying when the missing girl is confined in a dark room and punished for running away.  That's one of my worst nightmares.

It will keep you reading.  Why not get yourself a copy and read about these two characters who believe in hope and what's right and are willing to fight for it.

Happy reading.

Pretty Penny Cleans Up by Devon Kinch

Pretty Penny is back with new ideas on how to earn and save money.  Her idea this time is even cuter than her idea in the first book of the series.

Random House Children's Books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It's been published, so you can get a copy at your local bookstore now.

Penny's best friend, Emma, wants to go to the Sassy Pants concert very badly.  But she doesn't have enough money to buy a ticket.  Pretty Penny thinks a bit and comes up with a great idea: La Perfect Pup Salon!

They raid the attic again and come up with all kinds of wigs, bows, ribbons and even some barrettes.  They develop a selection of dog "styles" they can do and then get ready to open shop.

My favorite part of this author's books is the fact that she teaches young ones to save.  Pretty Penny shows Emma how to use a box to save for the future, a jar for sharing money, and a purse for money you can spend.

The illustrations are bright and colorful, the dog makeovers are funny, and their business is a success. 

Why not share this book with your little one and see if your child can come up with an interesting idea for making money?  (And have them save some, too.)

Happy reading.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Far from Here by Nicole Baart

When her husband flies off to do a temporary job in Alaska as bush pilot, Danica is not happy.  She knows she can't stop him, though, flying in Alaska is part of his dream.  

Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It was published the 7th of February, so you can get a copy at your local bookstore now.

Etsell and Danica were high school sweethearts who married shortly after school.  Etsell lived to fly.  Danica lived for Etsell and hated flying.  After being married ten years, she knew she couldn't get in between Etsell and flying.  She'd lose.  So she reluctantly lets him go fill in as a bush pilot in Alaska.

When she gets a phone call that tells her he's missing, her life falls apart...

This author has good insight on emotional trauma, the anatomy of marriage, and shows an accurate response to a spouse disappearing.  Is Etsell dead or will he be found alive?  Is he making his way home now?  Or is he gone forever?

None of those questions are quite as clear cut as they seem.  The Etsell Danica knew is not the one that went missing in Alaska.  And, suddenly, Danica isn't even sure of who she is anymore.

This a novel about a traumatic life event that is written very well and makes you feel like it happened in your life.  There are life lessons in this story.  It's sad, but it ends with hope.  It's well worth a read.

Happy reading.

The Little Gardener by Jan Gerardi

How about making your own "Teenie Greenie"?

Random House Children's Books sent me a copy of this board book for review (thank you).  It has already been published, so you can grab a copy at your local bookstore.

You can tell spring is coming.  There are a lot children's gardening books coming out!

This is a lift-the-flap book and has cute colorful illustrations.  This author takes you through the gardening year with simple single words and pictures to help children understand. Young ones will enjoy lifting the flaps and seeing what is under them. 

If you live in the city and don't have room for a garden, buy a big pot and just plant a few seeds.  You can still have raise a few plants and experience what having a garden is like.

The little farmer in your life would like reading this book.  Why not get a copy for them?

Happy reading.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Kill Switch by Neal Baer and Jonathan Greene

This is a wicked story.  Just when you think the story has ended, it begins all over again...

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

Claire Waters is a forensic psychiatrist who is very good at what she does; she's driven by her past.  One of her childhood girlfriends was kidnapped and never found.  She's trying to find out what makes men become rapists and serial killers.  Getting a job at a jail that incarcerates men like this gives her an opportunity to delve into their minds.   Unfortunately, her patient, Quimby takes off and more murders begin...

Quimby has also jolted Claire's life by asking her what she fears.  She doesn't want to remember the past; that's what holds her fear.

This is a book filled with psychological suspense and duplicity.  No one is exactly what they seem to be.  There are ties between people and agencies that shouldn't be.  The authors are very good at giving you enough clues you think you're getting somewhere and then negating the evidence when the autopsies are done.  

This story reminded me of walking through a cobweb.  As you try to wipe it off, it continues to hang on in little feathers of thread that go everywhere.  That's what this story line does.

They kept me riveted to my chair reading to see just how they were going to handle the ending.  It's amazing.  But what else would you expect from the former Executive Producers of Law & Order:  Special Victims Unit?

Get a copy and get reading.

It's a Big World, Little Pig by Kristi Yamaguchi

Who can forget Kristi Yamaguchi floating across the ice in figure skating competition?  She has innate grace and is a beautiful woman.  And her main character in this picture book is a little pig who can also skate...

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky and Net Galley allowed me to download an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  It will be available to purchase on the first of March, so add it to your TBR list.

The little pig is cute and loves to dress up and skate.  She does well enough to qualify for the World Games, but she's not sure she wants to go that far away.  Her parents encourage her and tell her to "dream big".  Poppy gets brave enough to go on.

This is a well written story that shows young ones how to overcome their fright when learning to make new friends and going to competition.  The illustrations are fun and Tim Bowers has a talent for making his animals likeable.

I think Ms. Yamaguchi is sharing some of thing she felt when she went to the Olympics in this story.  Why not share this story with your little one and then show them some of Kristi's figure skating?  Let your little one dream big, too!

Happy reading.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Daisies Never Die by Judy Lawn

Averil has recently had to leave her job because of mental stress, so her Dad thinks it would be a good thing for her to sort out her deceased Aunt's estate.  It will give her something else to do and keep her mind off her troubles.  He didn't know how right he was...

Zumaya Enigma sent me a copy of this book to review (thank you).  The book has been published, check with your local bookstore for a copy.

This is an intriguing mystery that written in an old-fashioned way that I love.  The style reminded me of Agatha Christie.  The story is set in the same timeline as many of her mysteries as well.

Rose Roundtree is Averil's neighbor and never knew her Aunt Edith well.  She is willing to help Averil with clean up and sorting, though.  The house is "full" of everything that Edith acquired including all her bills and correspondence.  Even all her old clothes are there, never having made it to the Hospice shop for resale.

Imagine Averil's surprise when she finds a letter that begins:  "My darling Edith".  As far as she knew, Edith was never married and never had a man in her life.  So who was Tim?

Averil and Rose begin the hunt, but many of Edith's friends have already passed on and she wasn't one for making friends in the village.  Trying to trace what happened during war days was not easy.  They don't give up though.

The author lays a trail that has many branches and it's only when they've traveled most of them that an answer seems to start coming clear.

This is a whimsical story with love and loss and peace at the end.  I enjoyed reading this and look forward to reading more of Ms. Lawn's stories.  She writes a good story.

Happy reading.

Little Bunny by Lisa McCue

Lisa McCue's Fuzzytails series of pop-up books is one of the very cutest I've ever seen.  Her illustrations make the animals come to life.

Random House Children's Books sent me a copy of this board book for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can get a copy at your local bookstore.

As soon as I glimpsed the cover I knew it was Ms. McCue's artwork.  With a simple little story and a cute bunny, this book will make any child smile.

You meet the bunny traveling a path and wonder where the bunny is going.  The story offers you all the options of a bunny's playtime and day.  The ducklings are playing in the pond.  The meadow has flowers.  Where will the bunny go? 
Home is where the bunny goes, home to snuggle with the other bunnies and get some sleep.

This would make a good bedtime story for small ones.  If this book touches your heart, make sure you check the others out.  They're all great!

Happy reading.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Changeling Dawn by Dani Harper

Kenzie Macleod was a changeling who was almost killed by humans when she was young, many long years ago.  She survived, but the memories still haunt her.  And humans are still trying to kill her kind.

Brava, a division of Kensington Publishing, sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can get a copy at your local bookstore.

Kenzie travels a lot, looking for artifacts that will help her make her case that changelings need not be feared; they can co-exist with humans.  She knows it can happen because her family has been doing it for years.  Her brothers have families.  She's still a loner because she hasn't met the right man.  And she's afraid to think of falling in love with a human.

What she discovers on her next dig chills her to the bone.  It's not what she finds in the ground, but what she discovers above ground:  a wolf cub who has run from humans and is a changeling...  Who is after the changelings now?

This is a fast paced story that reads well.  The wolves are more like shape shifters than werewolves.  Ms. Harper adds a love interest for Kenzie, which gives the story some spice and makes it a more enjoyable story.

If you enjoy paranormal stories or not, this one will entertain you.  It'll keep your interest all the way through.  I read it in one night because I didn't want to put it down.

Happy reading.

Secrets of the Garden by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

Have you ever had a garden?  Have you shared your knowledge of how nature works with your children?

Alfred A Knopf sent me a copy of this picture book for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can pick it up at your local bookstore.

I grew up with gardens (and the assorted bugs they attract) and learned at early age how to pick out the weeds, when to water the plants, and when to harvest them.  If your child hasn't made this connection to earth yet, this is an excellent book to teach them about nature.

Ms. Lamont's illustrations are peaceful and pastel and express the comfort of a garden.  Ms. Zoehfeld's text is succinct and to the point, teaching children about the food chains in the garden and what the plants need to grow.
Why not read this book and practice what you've learned by creating your own small garden? If you don't have room for a garden, get a couple of big pots and plant a few seeds in them.  It's important that children learn to respect the earth they live on.  And homegrown vegetables always taste better.  

Happy reading.

Friday, February 17, 2012

I Murdered the PTA by Wendy Dager

Daphne only dropped in at the local PTA meeting to make an attempt at being a good mother.  She sure didn't expect the meeting room to blow up while she was in the bathroom!

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

This is a quirky mystery.  The main character is a Chinese/American woman who was married to white man named Jack Lee.  Her name is now Daphne Lee-Lee.  And that's just one of the quirky things in this novel.  (Her husband died from bad oysters.  That's another quirky thing.)

It seems the explosive that killed the ladies of the PTA was placed in a vase that Daphne had handcrafted.  She hadn't donated it to the PTA and had no idea who had.  Her handwork was for sale at her friend's shop and Aldo didn't keep records of the sales.  Daphne does not like being on the suspect list, but no one seems to be looking for a real solution.  Except maybe that one cute cop.  But was he really interested in her or only interested in getting information?

This is a quick off-the-wall type of read that I enjoyed.  I had no idea who the killer was and it amazed me when I found out.  If you read this book, you won't be bored.  And if you figure out the killer before the end of the book, tell me.  I sure didn't see it coming.

Happy reading.

Basketball Disasters by Claudia Mills

Brody is all excited about playing basketball and wants Mason to be on his team.  Mason is not so sure, but Brody's enthusiasm was catching.  He was even getting a bit into it until his father ends up being made the coach...

Alfred A Knopf sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It's part of the Mason Dixon series and is available at your local bookstore now.

Mason is not into sports, but his mother thinks he ought to be.  He likes Brody, so he thinks maybe basketball might be OK.  Having his dad as coach is a pain though.  How can someone coach a team when he's never played basketball except in P.E. many moons ago?  (He gets a book and reads about it.)

The first game they play they lose badly, 43-8.  And the coach wants them to excel in sportsmanship.  That means you should accept defeat graciously.  Yeah, right.

Dunk is back, too.  He likes giving Mason a bad time and is much stronger and a better basketball player, too.  Of course, he's on the other team.  

And then there is Dylan.  He can't catch a ball, dribble or make a basket, but he's on the team.

Ms. Mills does a nice job of teaching gentle life lessons in her books.  Mason ends up learning things about both his friends and his enemies in this story.

Happy reading.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Catered St. Patrick's Day by Isis Crawford

Mike Sweeney was a con man.  He was smooth talking and he convinced others to "invest" with him.  The bad part was that he was the only getting rich.  And now he's been drowned in a keg of green beer...

Kensington Books sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It's being published this month, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

I wanted to read this story for two reasons:  It's a murder mystery and it has recipes.

All the characters in this story are either related, ex's, or friends.  Trying to weed through them and come up with someone who would be able to actually commit murder is a challenge.  Especially with emotional baggage all around.

The author writes a good mystery, tantalizes you with food descriptions, makes her characters sound real, and keeps your attention to the end.

Her ending did surprise me, not by revealing the murderer, but by the actions of one of the characters.  It's an interesting ending.  You'll have to read it and see what you think.

If you'd like my ARC, leave a comment here on my blog and email me at info at with your NAME AND ADDRESS telling me why you'd like to read it.  I'll pick a winner in about a week.

Happy reading.

The Flying Beavers and the Fishy Business by Maxwell Eaton III

Those silly beavers are back again!  This time Ace and Bub are worrying about a new volcano just off their island, and they should be...

Alfred A Knopf sent me a copy of this Junior Library Guild book to review (thank you).  It has been published and you can pick up a copy at your local bookstore now.

Fish Stix Corporation has set up an operation to make sturdy sticks and sell them in large quantities.  It just so happens they are using all the trees on the island to do it.

And, of course, Bob (their enemy) is in the middle of it again.  He's their spokesperson on TV and has a beautiful new house and doesn't care if what they are doing is ethical or not.  He even gets Bub on his side.  

What will Ace do now?  You'll have to get yourself a copy of this graphic novel and let your young one find out.

This is light hearted, slightly punny, graphic novel that children will enjoy.  Why not share it with them?

Happy reading.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Perfect Death by James Andrus

It all began as a missing person's case.  John Stallings always took a personal interest in this type of case because he has a missing daughter.  He wasn't prepared to find the missing person was a victim of homicide, though.

Pinnacle Books, a division of Kensington Publishing, sent me an ARC of this to read for review (thank you).  The book is being published this month, so check with your local bookstore to get a copy.

This is a very good police procedural novel that makes the characters human.  One cop is separated and doesn't want to get divorced, one is too dependent on legal drugs, one wants to solve a big case and get a promotion, the sergeant is looking for love, and they have a serial killer on their hands.  Most of them are working too many hours.  No matter how many questions they ask, they are not getting closer to their killer.  And more women are going missing.

The killer has a very unusual motive, which makes him harder to find.  He also is very elusive in his actions because he wants to make his goal, to have everything perfect.

This is a fast paced story with lots of action in different parts of the cop's lives, the killer's lives, and the victim's lives.  You won't be bored and you will most likely be surprised by ending.  You might know who the killer is, but Stallings will still surprise you.

Why not get a copy and see if you enjoy this book as much as I did?  The author is a career law enforcement officer and it shows in his writing.

If you would like to win my ARC, leave a comment here on my blog and email me at info at with your NAME AND ADDRESS and the reason why you'd like to read it.  I'll pick a winner in about a week.

Happy reading.

Be Brave, Willa Bean! by Cecilia Galante

Willa is such a cute little cupid.  If only she wasn't scared of flying high and the dark, she'd have it made...

This is a Random House Stepping Stone Book that was sent to me for review (thank you).  I had previously read the first in the series, so I was anxious to see what Willa encountered in Little Wings 2.  You can grab a copy of this at your local bookstore now.

Willa loves school and her best friend, Harper.  Some of the other school children weren't as nice to her, but she could ignore them.  At recess, though, she was supposed to take her "turn" at whatever they were doing.  Most games were a lot of fun, but she's fearful of flying high and that's what you have to do in "Tip Top".  So far she's managed to avoid her turn, but sooner or later she's going to have to do it.

She also doesn't like the dark; she can't see anything in the dark.  Her owl tells her there are stars and the moon, you can see.  She disagrees.

The author does a good job of showing Willa's fears and how she overcomes them.  This is a beginning chapter book and easy to read.  The illustrations are fun; Willa's hair is something else.  Any young one should have fun following Willa adventures.

Happy reading.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Win Lorax-themed Prizes!

Announcing:  The Lorax Read Across America Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win Lorax-themed prizes! Click here for the link!

Random House Children’s Books is hosting a daily giveaway through Friday, March 9th on its “Dr. Seuss Books” Facebook page in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday and NEA’s Read Across America.

Thank you for celebrating with us and sharing the news with your audience!

For more Seuss fun and games, visit

If you haven't read The Lorax, you've missed out.  I've sold every copy of this I've run across to rabid fans who tell me it's their very FAVORITE book of childhood.  It is a very cute read.

Here's a good way to win some goodies.  Just click the link above. 

Happy reading!

The Golden Quest by David Delisle

The Golden Quest is a graphic novel about a young boy who embarks on a Hero’s Journey with his dog Shelby to discover the Golden Rules of Mo...