Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lawn Mower Magic by Lynne Jonell

Be careful what you wish for; it may come true...

Random House Kids Books sent me this Stepping Stone Book to read for review (thank you).  It's a chapter book for young readers, and has already been published.  Check with your local bookstore for a copy.

The Willow family has moved to a home in the country that has a creek, trees and lots of area to play.  Unfortunately, that area to play has grass on it that must be mowed.

When Derek gets an invite to go back to the old neighborhood and stay with a friend, he gets excited!  All he needs is the price of a train ticket and he can go visit everybody at home.  The bad news is that the lawnmower his Dad is trying to use gives up the ghost and they have a very limited budget.  It appears any money they can scrape up will go for a new mower.

Derek is desperate.  He offers to mow the lawn with an old push mower.  His father is doubtful about it, but he agrees he will buy him a train ticket if he accomplishes it.  Then he goes to look at new mowers.  Wait until you see what happens when Derek tries to mow the lawn!  

This story will charm young readers and make them laugh.  Derek and his siblings have their chore cut out for them and when the mower gets a mind of it's own, it's even more fun.

The illustrations by Brandon Dorman make the story come alive and enhance the humor of the situation.  Why not buy a story that will make you chortle and enjoy a quiet afternoon at home with a good book?

Happy reading.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Good night, laila tov by Laurel Snyder

Let's go on a camping trip together and learn about a Jewish tradition called "tikkun olam" (repairing the world).

Random House Children's Books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  I have read Ms. Snyder's work before, so I was looking forward to reviewing this one.  It has been published and you can get a copy of it at your local bookstore.

Jui Ishida is the illustrator and her graphics emphasize the close family feeling and the peace this family finds in nature.  It made me think of camping trips I did with my parents. The title is a mix of English and Hebrew, both sets of words meaning the same thing. 

I like the fact that this author suggest you give something back to nature to make up for all we've taken from it.  This family is planting young trees that they will be able to admire in future trips.  My family picked up all the trash (sometimes taking it home for disposal) and pulled apart seed pods to help the plants grow (or to feed the birds).

Getting in touch with nature is a good thing.  Why not read this book and plan your own camping trip?  Nature will make you relax...

Happy reading.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Farsighted by Emlyn Chand

When Alex starts hearing things other people can't and foreseeing the future he starts getting worried.  What's happening to him?

Blue Crown Press of Smashwords has published this ebook and the Goddess Fish Blog invited me to participate in this blog tour (thank you).  The book is currently available on Smashwords and Amazon so you can get a copy now.

Alex has grown up blind so he has no problem with that.  It's the other things happening to him now that he's turning sixteen that concern him.  His father has secrets, Alex suddenly develops two girlfriends, and life gets really strange...

Ms. Chand has created a young adult fantasy novel that has interesting characters and a complex situation.  Alex is American, but the two girls come from different backgrounds.  She gives Alex a conflict by making both girls attractive, intelligent, and interested in him.  She also gives him an enemy, a boy who likes to push him around and say nasty things.  He's not real sure he likes his powers, but he has no choice.  They are there, they are real, and he has to learn to control them and use them appropriately.   The author also introduces you to runes which adds more some mystique to the plot.

Anyone with an interest in magic should find this an interesting read.  The good news is that this is just the first book in a series; there will be more.  It will be fun to meet more magically talented children.  It will also be interesting to see what they have to face in the future; I'm sure there is a deadly challenge ahead.

Here's a bonus opportunity for you:   A $25 gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.   The Blog Tour locations are listed here:  Goddess Fish Promotions  Visit them all and leave a comment and you may be the winner! 

Happy reading!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool

Imagine a little boy who could spin clouds into cloth.  Now imagine a king who wanted all the cloth that could be spun...

Alfred A Knopf sent me a copy of this children's book for review (thank you).  It was originally published in Great Britain by Gullane Children's Books as Cloth from the Clouds.  You can purchase a copy of Knopf's edition at your local bookstore now.

He's a small boy who lives at the top of the hill where he spins each day.  The scarf he made himself had sunset colors it.  He also had a white one to keep the sun off his head during the day.  He only spun "enough" and wasn't greedy with his wants.  Then he met the King.

The King demanded a long, long scarf.  Then he wanted a cloak.  And, yet again, he wants clothes for his wife and daughter.  Soon, there no more clouds in the sky and there was no more rain in the land either.

The illustrator, Alison Jay, makes faces on the hills, gives the clouds forms, and adds little goodies to her pictures.  Be sure to spend some time on the graphics as well as the story.

This is a cute story with a happy ending.  Why not share it with your child at Easter?  It would look good in an Easter basket with all those bright colors in the illustrations.

Happy reading.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mrs. Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter

Have you ever wondered how people in the US learned about Pandas?  Here is the story of a determined woman who wanted to finish her husband's quest.

Alfred A Knopf sent me a copy of this children's book for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can get a copy at your local bookstore.

Mr. Harkness went to China to find a panda to bring back to the states to study and display for the public.  Unfortunately, he died on his trip.  The longer Mrs. Harkness thought about it, the more determined she became to carry on with his quest.  All her friends and relatives tried to talk her out of it.

When she found someone who believed in her cause, she got outfitted and took twenty-two boxes of supplies.  She even included a baby bottle with dried milk. The way was hard and they were having no luck at capturing a panda when they found a baby crying in the base of a tree.  Good thing they had that baby bottle!

There is a historical timeline in the back of the book as well as some additional facts about pandas and some suggested reading materials.

One of my favorite parts of the illustrations are the postcards.  They have stamps, look real and they even have a few photos of the time period.  They really added to the story.

Why not share the history of how pandas came to the US with your little one?  My first teddy bear was a panda...

Happy reading.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Great Cake Mystery by Alexander McCall Smith

Someone is stealing sweets at the school; who could it be?

Anchor, a division of Random House, sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 3rd,  so grab a copy at your local bookstore then.

I love The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series and just had to read this children's book about Precious Ramotswe's first case.  Precious is a really fun character to read about, so I knew she had to be a charming child, too.

When a classmate's cake disappears before they get to recess time, they know someone has stolen it.  No one saw any one around but the cake is gone.  Precious is determined to find facts to support the theft even if others are quick to point at a shy fat boy who "must have done it".

The solution is believable and a bit silly; it's a cute story.  Precious also gets an idea for the name of her future business from this case.

If you have read any of the adult books, seen it on TV, or are just meeting Precious, this book is fun way to start.  You will learn some African words, too.

Happy reading.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Fire Opal by Regina McBride

Maeve collected kelp on the seashore of Ard Marcha and day dreamed about the legendary Holy Isles.  She never imagined she might become part of that legend.

Bluefire, a division of Random House Teens, sent me a copy of this book for review.  It has been published and you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

This story is haunting.  Maeve meets a lady who gives her two charms, one for her mother and one for herself.  While she looks at the charms, the woman disappears.  When Tom breaks one, she doesn't realize what the consequences will be until later.

This is a blend of Celtic legends and mythology that mix with greed and a young man's desire to own Maeve.  He enjoys his power over her; she's easy to scare.  She just as desperately wants to get away from him and refuses to marry him.  But she may have no choice if she wishes to save her mother's and her baby sister's souls.

This was an interesting read.  There's a bit of history in with the fantasy and the main character is a tough young woman determined to live her own life.  That's almost impossible in this era.

I enjoyed the Celtic influence and expect there may be a sequel since we have one character that was briefly a love interest for Maeve and got lost in the shuffle.  I'd like to see more of Maeve.  I'll guess we'll have to watch and see if the author returns with her.

Happy reading.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Brendan Buckley's Sixth-Grade Experiment by Sundee T Frazier

Middle school is confusing.  Brendan has a girl that likes him, his best male friend isn't his friend anymore, and he's got a lot of anger towards his dad.  How's he going to make it better?  How's he even going to survive it?

Delacorte Press sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published so you can purchase a copy at your local bookstore now.

The author does a good job of presenting life as it is.  Everyone in the family is busy, sometimes tempers run short, and as Brendan feels his way through life there are ups and downs.

The sixth grade experiment Brendan and his partner come up with is hilarious.  So it what happens to it later.  Young readers will really enjoy the cow poop part, I'm sure.

Brendan and his father have some issues to work out and the author does a nice job of handling that peaceably.  With a little family help, good friends and a willingness to work through problems,  Brendan is doing just fine in sixth grade.

Happy reading.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Death of Kitchen Diva by Lee Hollis

Hayley Powell is a single mom who likes to cook and is the new food columnist with her newspaper.  Her rival on the other newspaper is devious and determined to outdo her, even if it means stealing her recipe.  Hayley gets angry enough about it to threaten her with death.  When she's the one to find Karen dead, she's also a major suspect...

Kensington sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It's available now at your local bookstore.

Hayley is trying hard to find some extra income to help pay for repair of their home and the children's sports activities.  She's thrilled to have the chance to write another column and get an extra $50 a week.  But she sure didn't expect to be suspected of murder.  She also didn't expect half the town to believe it could be true.

This is a cozy set in Maine with some zany characters.  Hayley's two best friends are a beautiful real estate agent who dresses the best in town and a relaxed lobster woman who always seems to be pregnant.  When she gets in trouble, they attempt to help her solve the crime to protect her.

This is a fun light read that will make you smile as you watch the girls go through their various antics.  This author keeps you busy with the various relationships and the distinct lack of clues.  There are seven recipes in the book, too.  Of course, Hayley's investigation goes around the edges of legal.  That makes it even more complex when the police chief is her brother's boyfriend.

I enjoyed my walk through Bar Harbor, Maine.  Why not get a copy of this book and see what you think of the neighborhood?

I'm going to give my copy of this book away.  If you'd like to win it, leave a comment here on my blog and email me at info at with your name and address and the reason you'd like to read the book.  I'll pick a winner in about a week.

Happy reading. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The New Kid by Mavis Jukes

Carson and his Dad and his dog, Genevieve, are moving to a new home in a new town.  That means he also has a new school.  And, being new, he has no friends at all...

Alfred A Knopf sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  The book has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

This is a humorous book about a young boy who is fearful about going to a new school and trying to make new friends.  I went from a Catholic grade school into a public high school and never saw any of the students from my class of 22 in the throng of 200 students.  I know how he feels!

Carson has an exceptional father, he quickly makes new friends (and enemies) and he even gets to bring the pet rat home for the weekend (his Dad is not excited about that).

If your child is changing schools, this would be a good book for them to read and see that while it is scary, it's not a bad thing.  This story has lots of humor, so it's a fun read even if you aren't changing schools.  Why not pick up a copy and share it as a read-out-loud book?  Then you can laugh together.

Happy reading. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate

Fallen is a series of four books that will soon be made into a Disney movie.  I had read the first one in the series and jumped at the chance to read four new stories about these characters.  I find fallen angels interesting, especially when it's a love story.

Delacorte Press sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can get a copy now.  It also includes an introduction to "Rapture", the next book in the series.

The stories included are:
>Love Where You Least Expect It: The Valentine of Shelby and Miles
>Love Lessons: The Valentine of Roland
>Burning Love: The Valentine of Arriane
>Endless Love: The Valentine of Daniel and Lucinda

These stories all have enough detail to be read as a stand alone.  They are all good, but the one that really caught my attention was the story of Arriane.  She's an angel from heaven, the angel she loves is from hell.  What a dilemma!

If you enjoy paranormal stories, you'll want to read this.  And if you want to know more about the characters from the books, here is some original information that will give you more background.  If you don't care about any of that, these stories are still an interesting read.  Why not get a copy and see for yourself?

Happy reading.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nightfall by Stephen Leather

This story had me hooked when someone he doesn't even know looks at him and says:  "You're going to hell, Jack Nightingale."  No one else hears it, the person doesn't even remember saying it, but it's haunting Jack.  It'd bother me, too.  What's that mean?  Eventually Jack finds out.

47North and Wunderkind Press shared a copy of this book with me for review (thank you).  It's being published today, so you can grab a copy now.

Jack was a police negotiator until he went after the father of an abused child who committed suicide.  The father went out the window, and Jack won't explain what happened.  Most of the cops believe he threw him out and think he's a hero, but it ends his job on the force.  He's OK with that, he'll just be a private investigator instead.  However, he never expected to become his own client...

When he visits a attorney's office and finds out he has inherited a house, he's at a loss as to why.  The attorney informs him his real father left it to him.  His real father?  He already had a real father and mother and they died in an accident.  What's this guy talking about?

The mystery grows deeper, more people die and more people threaten Jack with hell.  In time, he finds out why.

This is an action packed thriller with a touch of paranormal and romance.  The author grabs your attention and drags you through the rest of the story while you wonder how Jack is going out of the trouble he's in. It's an intriguing tale that held my interest all the way through.  Why don't you get a copy and see what you think about it?  I'd love to get your input.

I am giving away the ARC I received.  If you would like to win my copy, leave a comment here on the blog and then email me at info at with your name and address and tell me why you'd like to read it.  I'll pick a winner in about a week.

Happy reading.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Brian's Winter by Gary Paulsen

Have you ever read a story and wondered what would have happened if the author ended it differently?  Mr. Paulsen's book The Hatchet has stuck in my mind since I read it and this book provides an alternate ending to his well written story.

Ember, a division of Random House Teens, sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It was published in mid-March, so you should be able to grab a copy at your local bookstore now.

Brian had survived his plane crash and managed to find enough food to keep him self alive in the wilds.  What he didn't notice was how quickly the weather was changing.  He had no idea he's be there through the winter, too.  He also wasn't prepared for it.

A young teen with no real weapons or knowledge of the woods was hard-pressed to stay alive in the summer months.  The winter provided an even bigger challenge and brought new predators to his door.

Just reading this book made me cold.  I can't imagine trying to survive in glacial weather.  Brian thought he heard gunshots and it was just the tree limbs exploding from the hard freeze.  That's cold!

Mr. Paulsen has experienced this weather and speaks practically about it.  His depiction of Brian and his challenges are authentic and he shows how you learn to think and do the things you must to survive.  You might learn something about yourself you didn't want to know.  Life on your own in the wild is harsh, cold and cruel.  

Why not follow Brian through his winter in the wild and see if you think you could be as inventive and determined as he is?

Happy reading.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Story of Cirrus Flux by Matthew Skelton

Cirrus has been left at an orphanage since birth and no one has wanted to adopt him.  So why is this lady bound and determined to have him now?

Bluefire, a division of Random House Kids books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so look for a copy at your local bookstore.

This rousing story is set in London in 1783.  Cirrus doesn't know anything about his parents and hasn't many friends in the orphanage, but he does get fed and cared for so it's not so bad.  That changes...

The story includes a mean lady mesmerist, a tiny man with an all-seeing eye and a skull-collecting maniac.  It's Cirrus' bad luck to have something they all want, even if he doesn't know it.

There's lots of action, unbelievable events, and soon you're rooting for more than Cirrus in this excitable adventure tale. It's a good read and should interest boys and girls who enjoy fantasy and adventure novels.

I'm not young, but I really enjoyed this read.  Why don't you try it, too?

Happy reading.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Horse Diaries: Black Cloud by Patricia Hermes

Black Cloud is a mustang foal when you meet him. You follow his early life and wonder about his future...

Random House Kids sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  The book has been published and is available at your local bookstore now.

The illustrations are done by Astrid Scheckels.  You can watch the foal grow in the pictures and Ms. Scheckels drawings accurately depict the mustang herd's simple lives.

This author understands horses, horse culture and their internal competitions.  It's a pleasure to read this tale until you get to the point where humans enter the story.  This is a truthful tale with men doing what they usually do; taking the best for themselves and killing off anything in their way. Black Cloud is "saved" but he's not sure he wanted to be.  

The ending in this book left me with my mouth open going:  "But what happened next???"

This would be an excellent book to use for a writing exercise in class.  See how the children would answer my question.  I bet you won't get two alike.

If your child loves horses, they will want to read this book.  Laws have been changed to protect the mustangs now but this story is historically correct.  We all need to learn from mistakes in the past.

Happy reading.

Princess Baby by Karen Katz

This is a cute board book that is about a little girl who wants to be called by her "real" name.  It may not be what you think...

Schwartz & Wade sent me a copy of this book for review.  It's a well made board book with vibrant colors that will grab your child's eye.  It has been published so you should be able to find a copy at your local bookstore now.

Her parents call her by all kinds of sweet names, but she doesn't want to be called that.  Those aren't her names!

The little girl is very precocious and has her world in own her hands and wants everyone to know that.

Maybe you have a Princess Baby in your household, too.  Why not get a copy of this book to share with your little one?  I bet you'll laugh at the little girl who doesn't want to be called Little Lamb and other endearments.

Happy reading.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Beswitched by Kate Saunders

Flora definitely didn't want to leave home and school and go to boarding school and live with her grandmother while her parents were away on a trip.  It was totally unfair!

Delacorte Press 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.

I like reading time travel stories, so I expected to enjoy this one.  I did, and for more than one reason.  

While Flora is pouting on her train ride to her school and grandmother, she falls asleep.  When she awakens, she finds herself still on the train, but not in the present.  Somehow she has exchanged places with another Flora and has been transported to the past.  Even when she finds out how and why it doesn't get better...

She has to share a room with three other girls, she doesn't know anything about the classes, the restroom facilities are old fashioned and ugly, and there's no blow dryer.  Every now and again she spares a thought for the person who has taken her place in the future, but not often.  She's too busy trying to survive in 1935.

This author has done an excellent job of providing an ironic touch at the story end which really makes the entire book come together and end positively.  I love how she did that.

You need to get a copy to read for yourself, not just for your child.  This is a good read and could be great fun to read aloud.  The girls in this story are characters and you can never be sure what they will do next!

What would you do if you found yourself in another time and place with different customs???

Happy reading.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Woodrose Mountain by RaeAnne Thayne

Evie left her job as a physical therapist because her adopted daughter died and she couldn't stop it.  Her heart was torn apart and she just couldn't deal with that again.  So she moves to a small town and works at a beading shop, living happily ever after.  But was she really?

HQN Books and Edelweiss allowed me to download an ebook of the story for review (thank you).  It will be published on the 27th of March, so watch for it to show up on the shelves in your local bookstore soon.

Evie is happy beading, teaching classes, and going to shows for the bead shop.  However, she owes Brodie's mother for offering this chance to make a new life, so it's hard to turn her down when she requests her to care for her injured granddaughter.  She says no, but Mrs. Thorne weasels her into agreeing by emotional blackmail.

Unfortunately, Evie and Brodie do not see eye-to-eye.  He keeps trying to develop properties and she keeps trying to stop him.  Now he's not enthused about her being in house to work with his daughter and she doesn't want to be there.  You know what's going to happen, don't you?  Yep, they suddenly find there are sparks between them despite their differences.  But they both have a lot of baggage from the past to deal with...

This author's descriptions of physical therapy adds a lot to the story and gives you an understanding of why Evie feels the way she does.  She makes her main male character, Brodie, an attractive male who would do anything to help his daughter get better and you admire him for that.  Taryn, the daughter, has her own burden to deal with and she does that dramatically.  

Why not visit Woodrose Mountain and Evie and Brodie and see how they resolve their differences.  It's a good read.

Happy reading.

Rosie Sprout's Time to Shine by Allison Wortche

Violet was the best, but Rosie wanted to be best at doing SOMETHING!
Alfred A Knopf sent me a copy of this children's picture book for review.  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Patrice Barton's illustrations are lovely; the children are portrayed realistically and most of us will recognize Violet as being a classmate in our schooling at one time or another.

This author shows Rosie's jealousy from watching Violet charm everyone and be the most popular.  She's not that type, she's more quiet.  But when Violet gets chicken pox and her pea plant might die, Rosie helps her out.  

In the end, Violet still thinks she's number one and says her planter is the most sparkly, but the teacher and Rosie know better.

This is a sweet story any young child should enjoy.  Why not share this book with yours?

Happy reading.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Suppose You Meet a Dinosaur by Judy Sierra

Trying to get through the grocery aisles is hard enough with the normal crowd, but when there is a dinosaur there...

Alfred A Knopf sent me a copy of this children's picture book for review (thank you).  It is currently available at your local bookstore, so you can grab a copy.

This fun children's book is illustrated by Tim Bowers.  The subtitle is: A First Book of Manners.  Here is a very easy way to teach your child simple basic manners by talking to the dinosaur.

My favorite part of this picture book is the dinosaur's big pink glasses.  They have jewels and are huge!  When she drops them and the little girl tries them on it will make you laugh.

Why not have some dinosaur fun and learn manners at the same time?

Happy reading.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Giant Slayer by Iain Lawrence

If you are very sick, will a fairy tale help take the pain and boredom away?

Random House sent me a copy of this Yearling Fantasy to read for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can pick up a copy at your local bookstore now.

This story is set in 1955, when polio was still a scourge.  Laurie gets really bored by all the rules about what she can't do so she doesn't contract it. When her good friend, Dickie, comes down with it, she suddenly realizes all those rules might not have been in vain.  She's immediately afraid she has contracted it, too, but she's OK.  When she wants to visit Dickie, she's told no.  However, that doesn't stop her.

The polio ward is not a pleasant place.  The patients are on iron lungs, they can't talk much and for some hope has died.  Laurie wants to visit but doesn't know what to say or do.  She suddenly decides to create a story and share it with Dickie and the others.  As time goes by, the story becomes intertwined with the children's challenges and lives and more patients come in to listen.  Then Laurie comes down with polio from taking the vaccine to prevent it...

The story lives on with the other patients picking it up and taking turns telling it.  And Laurie returns to help them finish it.

This author gives you a good look at how debilitating polio was and how having someone care about you is very important to healing.  The fairy tale is a good tale, too.  Why not share this story with your young one and add some facts about polio to the mix?  You can entertain and educate at the same time.

Happy reading.

The Bunny's Night-Light by Geoffrey Hayes

This is a most delightful children's picture book about a little bunny who is fearful of the dark.

Random House sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.  

One of the really fun things about this book is that it is "A Glow-in-the-Dark Search."  It makes an excellent bedtime story because the lights in the story glow.

Poor little bunny doesn't want to sleep alone in the dark, so his parents work with him to find a light that will be just the right size for his room.  Nothing could be cuter.  

If your child isn't sure about the dark, this is a great way to introduce them to a small night light that will make them sleep better, too.  If they aren't, it's still an entertaining story to read with beautiful illustrations that will help them sleep at night.

Happy reading.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Truth of All Things by Kieran Shields

Archie Lean has just recently been appointed to his Deputy Marshall position.  When he gets a call about a body found that belongs to a dead prostitute, he expects it to be another run-of-the-mill case.  Nothing surprises him more than finding her staked into the ground with a pitchfork through her neck...

Crown Publishing and Edelweiss allowed me to read an ecopy of this mystery (thank you).  It will be published at the end of the month, so watch for a copy at your local bookstore.

This story is set in 1892 and includes three interesting characters.  Lean is married and a father with another child on the way; Helen Prescott is a single mother who is an historian; and Perceval Gray is part Indian and has a brain like Sherlock Holmes.  Just watching these characters work together is entertaining.

The killer appears to be mimicking witch killings by copying what has happened in the past.  The victims need not be actual witches, they just have to have some odd connection to witchery or paranormal to become deemed worthy of being the next victim.

This is a very detailed tale with several twists and turns, including even a bit of blackmail.  The team of three knows more deaths are coming but can't tie them down to a particular person.  There are connections between several layers of the community and their path isn't clear.  But they keep digging, and keep finding more dirt.

I would have preferred a bit more succinct version of this story, but I'm glad I read it.  It's a good story, just lengthy.  You'll probably enjoy all the detail the author provides.  That's just not my thing personally.

You won't guess who the killer in this one.  It's too convoluted for you to do that and that's what kept my attention.

Happy reading.

Brian's Hunt by Gary Paulsen

Brian survived his plane crash but he never expected hunting to be so dangerous!

Ember, a division of Random House, sent me a copy of this book to review (thank you).  It is available now at your local bookstore.

If your child has read Hatchet, then he or she is aware that Brian had to learn to survive in the wild really fast when the small plane he was traveling in crashed.  In this book, he's going back to the wild country to camp and hunt and just relax since school is out.

He's traveling in a canoe and the first odd thing he finds is an injured dog.  He thought it might have been a wolf or a coyote, but it's a domesticated dog.  Something big has taken a slice out of its shoulder.

When he goes further up the river to visit his friends, he find the monster has visited there, too, with deadly results.  The last thing he needs is to encounter a deranged bear.  But the bear doesn't give him any choice.

Your young adult won't set this one down and play a game instead.  It's a read it to end book with plenty of action and excitement in a game of death.

Happy reading.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Take a demented TV star who thinks he's a "Steve Irwin" clone and mix him with a wild animal wrangler, the wrangler's son, an abused girl, and air boats and you've got the general ingredients for this wild ride through the swamps of Florida...

Random House and Edelweiss allowed me to download an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  It will be available at your local bookstore at the end of the month.

This is an action packed story with lots of ridiculous situations that will have middle grade readers snorting with laughter.  

The TV star is a fake.  He does gross things that the kids will enjoy. The wild animal wrangler is a bit weird, too, but he's a good Dad and he's the one who took his son's friend in to protect her from her father.  Both the girl and the boy are named after fish.  In between the busy plot scenes, you learn a lot about the animals in the Florida swamps.

I could relate to the air boats in the story.  My husband I went to Florida on vacation and took a ride on them.  They are big, noisy, and move fast on the swamp water.  We almost got a gator inside, too, because the German guy thought he could pet them.  So while the tale in the story sounds far-fetched, it's not as far off as you would think.

This is a busy read that should keep the reader glued to his/her chair as they see if everyone makes it out alive.  I had fun reading it.  Why don't you try it?

Happy reading.   

My Heart Will Not Sit Down by Mara Rockliff

The people in America are suffering during the Great Depression.  Can a small African girl help them in some way?

Alfred A Knopf sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  This children's picture book is now available for sale at your local bookstore.

Ann Tanksley is the illustrator for this book and she uses bright colors to express the emotions and the personality of the African village and its people.

Kedi and her family don't have much, but they have enough.  They live simply, eat what they grow, and she goes to school.  When she learns about how bad things are in New York during the Great Depression, she wants to help.  Her heart "will not sit down", but she has no money.

She asks her mother and members of her village for money to send, but no one can spare any.  As time goes by, more and more of her village visits her door and gives her a coin because she's made them aware of the depression and they can't forget about it either.

I was very impressed about this story because they truly don't have much money in the African villages.  They only way they could share was to have less for themselves.  Yet, they gave.  Now if we would give back in their time of need, many African families would be living a better life right now.

This fictional account is based on a true story.  The African county of Cameroon sent $3.77 to New York.  I'm glad their sacrifice didn't go unnoticed.

Why not show your child even a small amount of money or goods can help during bad times.  Especially if they are combined with other small donations.  Maybe you might even make a donation of your own to the children of Africa to help them survive to adulthood.

Happy reading.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Perfect Square by Vannetta Chapman

All she wanted to do was pick a few pretty flowers with the children.  She never expected to find a body...

Zondervan and Edelweiss allowed me download an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  This book will be available to purchase on March 31st.  It's the second in the Shipshewana Amish Mystery series.

This Amish group is living in Indiana.  The description of the life they live reminds me of my grandparents on my father's side.  They came from the old country, Czechoslovakia.  They raised their own food, harvested their own animals, hunted, fished and worked hard in general.  Life was simple.  The Amish are like that.

Their fundamental belief is that they must do the right thing.  Their definition of the right thing may not be the same as yours or mine.

The young woman found in the pool had a head injury, so the Sheriff begins a hunt for a murderer.  When he finds she was living in Reuben's grandparents home and had the key to it, he arrests Reuben.  Not everyone thinks Reuben did it.  But the women who decide to try to prove that are an odd couple; one is Amish and one is an Englisher.  They make a  good team despite their differences.

This tale is set in the present but has links to the past.  It's a twisted about mystery that affects several lives.  As the threads unwound, I waited anxiously to see how the story would end.  This author did not disappoint me.  I'd like to read the next in this series and see where the story goes from here.  It's a good read.

Happy reading.

A Boy Called Dickens by Deborah Hopkinson

Did you ever wonder why Dickens wrote such sad stories about the poor in England?  Here's the answer.

Schwartz & Wade sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  This book has been published and would make a very nice addition to your educational shelf for young ones.

John Hendrix is the illustrator and he takes you right back to the dirty, rat-infested past where rags were all some people had to wear and most didn't get much to eat.

Ms. Hopkinson takes the facts known about Dickens and weaves them into a fictional account of his life.  He started poor and had a dream about writing that he held tight to for his whole life.  It's a good thing or we wouldn't have those wonderful classics he wrote.  It's easy to see that he lived the life of this characters and that's why he could express it so accurately.

This is an interesting account of the hard life in Old London and could easily lead the child to read more on the subject.  When the plague came, the potatoes turned black and folks ate black radishes would all be good subjects to read about.  History isn't always boring.

Happy reading.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus by Joyce Magnin

OK, she was silly to make a bet with her daughter-in-law about her ankle injury, but she was so sure it wasn't broken, just sprained.  She was wrong and now she has to sell her home and move in with her son and daughter-in-law.  But she was going to do it her own way...

Zondervan and Edelweiss gave me an opportunity to download this ebook for review (thank you).  It will be published April 24th in paperback.  Make a note so you don't miss it.

Harriet is 72 and has never been very far from her home.  She has salt and pepper shakers from all over the world, but they were gifts from friends.  Since she has to travel cross-country to get to her son's home, she gets a wild idea:  Why not go by bus, see some attractions on the way and buy some of her own salt and pepper shakers?

Harriet might not have seen much of the world before, but once she boards that bus, she's going to see so much more than she expected!  She gets a new phone that has GPS and maps out her own route.  There's no set sequence of events.  She doesn't want to travel on Greyhound, just local buses.  She will use trains, but no planes.  

She manages to travel by helicopter and motorcycle (because she has to) and she survives.  She also thanks God for His help on her journey and she's going to need Him later in the book.  

This is an entertaining read about a woman who was not quite ready to take off her spurs and settle down in another home until she'd had a chance to do some riding and observing along the way.  I enjoyed it.

Happy reading.

George Washington's Birthday by Margaret McNamara

Remember that cherry tree that George chopped down? He confessed because he couldn't tell a lie.  Here's why he lost his temper and cut it down...

Schwartz & Wade sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

This is a fictional account of George's life as a child and has pieces of truth interspersed.  Barry Blitt is the illustrator and his work has an old fashioned feel, a bit like the pictures in old fairy tales.  They go well with this story.

It's George's birthday and NO ONE is noticing.  He tries hinting, offers suggestions, and everyone just ignores them.  As he goes through his day he gets more and more frustrated.  He even gets angry enough to cut down a tree!

This story has a good ending and the last page in the book points out what was fact and what was fiction.

Why not get a copy of this book and introduce your child to the boy who would grow up to become president?

Happy reading.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Missing by Shelley Shepard Gray

When one of her friends throws her backpack in the bushes because she's upset with her, Abby never expected it to land on top of a body...

Edelweiss and Harper Collins allowed me to download an ebook of this book for review (thank you).  It will be published on March 20th, so add it to your TBR list now.

This story is set in Amish country and I enjoy reading about that way of life.  I don't know a lot about it, so it's an education as well as a mystery for me.

It seems the dead man didn't have very many friends anymore.  He had originally been a good son, but then he found drugs.  No one in the Amish community wants to speak badly about him.  They wish he could be buried and forgotten.  But the law doesn't work that.

As the out-of-town cop who is helping the local cop makes his way around, he finds they don't want to talk him.  He also has trouble figuring out how to ask his questions so he doesn't offend them.  

While he's searching and asking questions, the last two people to see Perry alive locally are struggling to know what to say and what not to say.  This conflict leads to them talking to each other, even though Lydia is Amish and Walter is not.

This is a good read.  The author does a good job of giving every character a few problems to work their way through and that makes them seem so much more real.  My only frustration was that the story ended without solving the mystery.  I understand that this the first book in a series, but somehow it felt like it ended too soon.  I wanted to get death resolved in this book.  The personal relationships in this small community gives the author more than enough to write about in the future books.  I guess I'll have to read the next one and see if Perry's murder gets solved there.

My favorite part of reading about the Amish is that they are so practical about things.  That doesn't mean they don't make mistakes, but they're honest and forthright.  I like that in people.

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...