Friday, February 28, 2014

Magic in the Park by Ruth Chew

Jen didn't want to move to the city.  Living in Brooklyn was not all like living in the country.  The only good thing about it was that there was a park not far from home.

Random House Children's Books 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 one of Ruth Chew's "A Matter of Magic" books.  I had missed Ms. Chew's books when I was growing up.  When I began selling books, I ran across an old softcover of hers about magic.  Once I found out that was her subject matter, I was hooked!

While walking in Prospect Park, Jen meets Mike and they become friends.  It's more fun to walk around and explore together than alone.  They are both fascinated by an old man who is big friends with birds.  He's always covered in them.  He doesn't speak much, but he's kind.  He has a secret, though.  He's really a tree...

These are stepping stone books and written for ages 7-10.  They are a quick read, full of fantasy and she makes them entertaining.  Reading her work still makes me smile.  Why not share a classic story with your young one and introduce them to magic?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Two Degrees From Zero: A Snowboarding Adventure by M.J. Stewart

Snowboarding itself can be dangerous, but when you rent a snowboard it shouldn't put you in danger.  Should it?  I thought not.  In this case, though, it's the snowboard that's the danger...

Goddess Fish Blog Tours and the author allowed me to read an ebook of this story.  The ebook is available now; this is written for middle grade readers.

Derek has been feeling out of sorts since his father died in a car accident.  He was there and feels it was his attitude and actions that caused the car to go out of control.  Telling him that's not true doesn't make it better.  Now his mother has found a new boyfriend and they're going to go on a snowboarding vacation.  At least he gets to bring one of his best friends, a girl named Janae.  The "Clan" is going to play in the snow and try to forget the sorrow of the past.

Derek might not forget it, but he doesn't have a lot of time to think about it.  They go by sleigh to a yurt where a dinner is being held for guests.  It's not bad but it's not exciting either.  Sleighing isn't snowboarding.  Some guys on Arctic Cats scare the horse and slow the sleigh ride down.  And then it starts to snow, really snow.  When they get stuck in the yurt, the men with the Arctic Cats offer to take them back to the condo they've rented.  Derek finally talks his mom into it.  But that's not where they end up...

They are snowbound, have limited food, have to use an outhouse, and there's no communication.  Derek and Janae sneak out to go for help but they get lost in the white of the snow.  Derek has to face some ghosts from his past before the night is over.  Will they ever get out?

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chance of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 

Good luck and happy reading!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage by "Science Bob" Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

Someone has stolen a very valuable comic book.  It could mean salvation for the comic book store but now it's gone...

Quirk Books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It was published February 4th, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.  If you have a mechanically inclined child, I'd pick up the first book too.  These are not only a good read, they teach science and give children a project to build (with adult help).

Nick and Tesla are intrigued to see robots appearing in all the stores.  There are hoverbots, bristlebots and more.  Would you like to learn to build one?  There are directions in the book!

Could the robots have something to do with the theft?  I think so.  But how?  And who?  And why?

Written for middle grades, the story is busy, a bit silly and lots of fun to read.  Making robots sounds like fun, too.  Here's a good read with activities for you.  Why not make your own robot and see if yours does as well as your child's?

Happy reading and playing both.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Cupcake Diaries: Sprinkled with Kisses by Darlene Panzera

If you like soft sweet romances and cupcakes, you've got to read this story!

Avon Impulse and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to download and read an ebook of this novelette (thank you).  It will be published March 18th, so you can snag a copy then.

Stacey has been hurt enough by men to want to avoid them.  She's also insecure in her own abilities and worries about her job.  She can make cupcakes and is a good sales person but she worries that if sales aren't good enough, the ladies that own the cupcake shop might not keep her on.  That's more than enough to keep her mind busy.  Yet, when she meets this hunk named Dave at the yard sale, she finds her thoughts straying to him, too...

When the ladies of the cupcake shop give her an old van to use for cupcake sales at the beach, it's her time to shine.  She goes out with high confidence until she sees the spot she was going to take was already in use.  The worst part is the person using the space is Dave!  He sells ice cream and it appears it's whoever gets there first gets the spot.  She does horribly in another location and has to buy all the cupcakes herself.  This won't work. What's she to do?

I especially enjoyed meeting Stacey.  She's a good person at heart, is willing to compromise, has good ideas for enhancing business and does well overall.  It's her heart that needs the most help, and that's resolved by the story end, too.

This is a short read that will make you laugh and feed your soul with happiness.  Happy ever after does happen every now and then.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Chase by Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg

Nicolas Fox is a thief.  He's very good at it and doesn't want to stop.  When he gets caught, he convinces the FBI to let him go undercover and work with the sexy detective who caught him on special assignments.  They work to retrieve artwork and put the wrong-doers in jail.  It's really almost too tempting for Nicolas to leave other genuine items in place but he gets to work with Kate, so it's not all bad.  At least it wasn't for a while.  Going after the former Chief of Staff and head of a private security firm is not easy...

Net Galley and Bantam Dell allowed me to download an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  It goes on sale tomorrow, so drop by your local bookstore and pick up a copy.

I like both the main characters.  Nicolas acts almost like a fox.  He's sneaky, slips in here and out there, and he's quick.  He also is hoping to sleep with Kate.  Kate is being very business-like, doing her job, stretching to disguises and role-playing to help Nicolas with his theft, and she's trying to ignore the romantic interest between them.  

This is a fast paced story with very real danger present.  Stealing from a collector and staying alive is a challenge.  The private security firm has mercenaries and natural killers on staff.  The boss has his own air support and missiles.  But Nicolas has friends to help hide him during the theft and Kate has her father and his friends to help protect them during a confrontation.

I enjoyed the banter between the characters and admired how the authors worked out the details of the plot.  It's believable, has political consequences if they fail, and it easily keeps you reading until the end.  I'm ready for the next book in this series.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The High Druid’s Blade: The Defenders of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Paxon never paid any attention to the old sword hanging over the fireplace.  He worked, took care of his mother and his sister and that was it.  At least it was until the sorcerer kidnapped his sister...

Del Rey and Edelweiss gave the opportunity to read this story in ebook form for review (thank you).  It will be published in July.  I couldn't wait that long to read it...

I was hooked way back in 1977 when the Sword of Shannara came out.  I love high adventure fantasy reads with lots of action and a bit of romance and magic.  I also like it when it's a fast dance to the end of the book.  I read that entire series.  Finding this new book coming out made me excited; I had to read it!  It's just as good as the previous books were, you won't want to miss it.

Paxon goes to retrieve his sister and takes the sword with him.  He figures he needs something to help him defeat the sorcerer.  What he doesn't know is that he has the magical power to command the sword.  Suddenly his quest is changing to something else.  Not only does he have this power, he's been asked to join the Druids as a defender/protector.  He wanted something more in his life and this seems to fit the bill.  He agrees.

When his sister is kidnapped again, he heads out to retrieve her, with a Druid to help him.  This is a busy plot:  There is a traitor in the Druids; the sorcerer has big plans for the future; there is a witch and brainwashing, and more.  It's a full bodied story filled with good and bad people.  I really enjoyed this read.  There will be more in this series, I'm sure.  And I'm glad.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Dragon Defender by J. A. Blackburn

His mother left him with his grandmother when he was five and went away.  She never came back.  His grandmother won't talk about her or why she left; she just says his mother loved him very much.  That doesn't help much.

Pip and Grey and Net Galley allowed me to download an ebook of this story to read for review (thank you).  It was published last October, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

When his grandmother is working, he gets a visitor.  Uncle Dominick is at the door and he hasn't seen him since he was very little.  He lets him in despite his grandmother's warnings.  Then his uncle asks him not to tell her he's been there.  It's getting curiouser and curiouser while Peter develops more and more questions.

This is an adventure story written for middle graders.  There's a bit of magic, some poachers, a magnificent quest, and travel to other countries involved.  At twelve, Peter is old enough to be told about his heritage.  The letter from his mother says he's from a long line of Dragon Defenders.  Peter didn't even know dragons still existed.  His grandmother is livid and refuses to let Dominick have him for training.  She's already lost her daughter, she doesn't want to lose her grandson!  However, when Peter says he'll go with Dominick, she knows she has already lost the argument.

The story is exciting and it doesn't take long to read.  Peter makes some new friends along the way and needs them to finish up his quest.  I think we may see Peter back again in another book; I'd like to see that.

Happy reading.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Kobee Manatee Heading Home to Florida by Robert Scott Thayer

This a lovely picture book that follows the manatee on his migration home.  Let your child learn a bit about sea life as he/she enjoys the vivid colors of the illustrations and the creatures of the sea.

Thompson Mill Press and Net Galley allowed me to download and read this ebook for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

I'm not familiar with manatees because I grew on the west coast.  We have orcas.  I knew they were on the east coast and I knew I'd learn something about them from this book.

Kobee Manatee took a summer trip up the coast all the way to Cape Cod.  It was very pleasant in the summer, but now he must return home before it gets too cold.  He's on his way to Florida when he meets a couple of other travelers:  Tess the seahorse and Pablo the hermit crab.  He agrees to play taxi and take them on their destinations.  What he doesn't anticipate is the danger in the sea...

Kobee keeps everyone safe and it's a very sweet story.  Why not share this with your young one?  It might lead them into more reading about sea animals.  I know I was always curious when I was little.  I still am.

Happy reading.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Otter, the Spotted Frog and The Great Flood, A Creek Indian Tale by Gerald Hausman

This Indian tale has an otter who might be related to Noah...

Wisdom Tales and Net Galley allowed me to download an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  It was published October 31, 2013, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

A spotted frog warns the otter that a big rain is coming and suggests he makes a raft to keep himself safe.  The otter is not as sure of the rain as the frog, but it's better to be safer than sorry.  He creates the raft as best he can while the other animals laugh at him for being foolish.  Listener begins to wonder if he WAS being silly when the rain starts...

The illustrations in this picture book are lovely.  Ramon Shiloh does a very nice job of drawing natural looking animals that make you think you're out walking in the woods.  Listener reminded me of Noah in some ways.  And the discussion of watching out for the signs of change is pertinent at any time.  We have some environmental challenges facing all of us currently.  Let's hope our raft will stay afloat.

Happy reading.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Last Akaway, A Spirit Animal Adventure by Gary Karton

Brody and his Grammy always got along well and he looks forward to his time with her.  She's always been a bit different and she's getting old, but their time is still precious.  It gets even more special when he sees this strange animal and she tells him it's an Akaway.

Brattle Publishing Group and Net Galley gave me the opportunity to read this ebook story (thank you).  It will be published February 25th, so you can grab a copy then.

Brody sees this spirit animal because he believes in magic.  He and Grammy do; it's his older brother who doesn't.  When he takes his big brother Jake, to see it, they are followed.  The hunter wants the Akaway, too, but not for any good reason.  It's the last Akaway and helps maintain order and balance in the world.  The evil Uncle Skeeta wants chaos so he can control the world.

This is written for middle-graders and has all kinds of action and challenges to keep their interest.  A lot of their quest to save the Akaway is similar to a video game so they'll relate.  I found it a good read.

My favorite part of the story is the fact that Grammy is pretty deaf.  Brody keeps asking or answering question and what she says next is hilarious.  The author must have been around someone older with poor hearing to get this part of the story so accurate.  It might be life or death for the Akaway, but you'll be laughing at the conversations with Grammy.

Happy reading.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh

This is an odd story.  It's set in the future when a dirty bomb has hit Times Square, a lot of people have died and most of the rest have moved into a virtual world.  It's about a garbage man who has become a hitman.  He has a few standards:  he won't hit kids and he doesn't want to know anything about why.  Just pay him what he asks and then leave him alone...

Crown Books and Edelweiss allowed me to download an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  It has already been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Another thing that makes this book different is that it's all written in first person.  You get all of Spademan's thoughts and impressions up close and personal.  His mind is not the most pleasant place to visit.

What kept me reading was his current job:  He's hired to kill the daughter of a TV Evangelist.  She's over 18, so he's willing to do it.  But he has to find her first.  As he searches for her and learns more about the situation, he's not sure he wants to kill her.  The only problem is that his conclusions are wrong...

This is a tough, gritty read where life has no value to anyone except those trying to stay alive.  Not many succeed, but it's an interesting read.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Tinker King by Tiffany Trent

The Grue has been defeated but the dark Elementals haven't given up...

Simon & Schuster's Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss allowed me to download a copy of this ebook to read for review.  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Vespa, Syrus, and Bayne are happy that Empress Olivia believes in peace for both humans and Elementals.  They are a bit concerned that she doesn't seem to believe there is still danger remaining.  She believes only in peace and won't return to troops and warlike endeavors.  She wants a world without that.  Which means when they are attacked by the dark Elementals, they have to run.

This is a bit steampunk, a bit paranormal, and a bit magic mixed with war.  The story is exciting and entertaining.  Ms. Trent keeps the pace of the story moving right along and there are surprises all along the way.  The monsters are scary and you can tell there is a subplot to this story but you don't know why until the end.  No one is exactly what they seem, the bad have some good, the good have some bad, and there could be more to this story.  It will be interesting to see where the author goes from here.

It's written for ages 12 and up, but don't give it to a young one who gets nightmares.  The monsters in this book are ugly and deadly!

Are you ready for a good adventure that might scare you a bit?  Dig in!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rise of the Arcane Fire by Kristin Bailey

The Amusementists are all male and are scandalized when one of their members sponsors a young woman as a member.  All it needs is a second to make her a student.  She's afraid her dream is dead, and then the headmaster of the academy seconds it.  After the vote, Meg is determined to show them she can do it...

Simon Pulse and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this ebook for review.  It's the second in The Secret Order series.  I didn't read this first book and had no trouble understanding this one.  If you're big on background, you might want to read them both.  This one has been published and you should be able to find it at your local bookstore.

What Meg didn't anticipate is that Will would go to Scotland and leave her alone at the academy.  She's hurt by his actions but she doesn't have a lot of time to worry about it.  School is not easy or pleasant.  The boys ostracize her, she has no friends to do projects with, and it doesn't take long until she realizes that someone is sabotaging her work.  Who and why are the big questions in her mind but she doesn't have much time to worry about that.  Too much is going on and she has to keep moving quickly to stay ahead of danger.

Ms. Bailey writes a fast paced story with a bit of steampunk and lots of danger mixed in.  This is written for ages 14+ and it will hold their interest and intrigue them with possibilities.  There's also a bit of romance sprinkled in.  Meg finds that David is more charming than she thought and with Will away...  It will be interesting to see what the author does in the next book.  I'm rooting for Will!

Happy reading.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Death Sworn by Leah Cypess

Ileni is a sorceress whose power is waning.  Sorin is a master assassin, assigned to protect her.  She's been sent to teach magic to the assassin students.  She's pretty sure more than one person is trying to kill her, but she doesn't know why...

Greenwillow Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to download this ebook for review (thank you).  It will be published March 4th and is written for ages 13+.  Check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Ileni is hiding the fact that her magic isn't as strong as it used to be.  The previous two sorcerers sent to teach here were killed and she's trying to find their murderer.  She's also trying hard not to be another victim.  The assassins' building is underground and there are caves everywhere.  It's like a huge labyrinth.  She manages to make an enemy of one student the first day.  She befriends another.  And without trying to, she finds herself falling in love with Sorin.  It's not possible, she shouldn't do it, but her heart isn't listening.

Everyone does what the master tells them to do, unflinchingly.  Even jumping from a window and killing themselves.  When she stands there and tries to understand why but doesn't panic, the master suddenly becomes aware she might be a danger to him.

This is world of conspiracy, favors traded, and leaders gone amok.  Sorin tries to explain the assassins' way of thinking and how the master always has a plan, bigger than any individual.  Ileni doesn't buy it.  What she finds puts her in more danger than ever and it turns into a battle of wills.

This was a different fantasy and an exciting tale.  Ms. Cypess' words set the stage for the final confrontation.  I had no idea how that would go; she's not very kind to her characters.  The best news is that this story could continue on.  I'd like to see more of the budding romance and learn more about the hidden plot for anarchy.  I also think Ileni has more potential for power than she thinks.  More in this series would flesh out those areas and make me feel better.  

Do you think there's more to this tale or do you think Ileni's story is done?

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Rebel Pirate: Renegades of the Revolution by Donna Thorland

James Sparkhawk is a commander in her Majesty's British Navy.  He has secrets but he's done very well in the Navy and intends to right the wrongs done to him in the past.  He never intended to fall in love with a female captain of a pirate ship...

Edelweiss and NAL Trade allowed me to download and read an ebook of this story (thank you).  It will be published March 4th and is written for young adults.

Sarah is only trying to keep her home and provide some family support.  She didn't know that her previous fiance had added an illegal shipment of gold on her ship.  She also defends herself well enough that she manages to take James as a hostage.  If she can get home and get rid of that gold, she might have a chance to not lose everything.  Unfortunately, that's not how life works.

Blackmail, threats, sex, spies and more are in this story.  Nobody can be trusted.  James has been living with sorrow his whole life and now he thinks Sarah is dead.  This is complicated story where everything that is done is some form of negotiation.  Real feelings don't count for much.  The world during the revolution is very dangerous.  You can't be sure who is safe to talk to, who will help you, and how much they will want for it. 

Reading this is like going back to days of the Revolution.  It's tough, gritty and mean with a bit of love thrown in.  It's also an interesting read.  I enjoyed it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

Piper has been alone since her father died working in a factory for the King.  The smoke from ironwork got him.  The only hope she has of surviving is picking up salvage and fixing mechanical things.  The meteor storms bring goods, but the smoke and gas left behind will kill you.  It's a fine line between getting there first or dying.

Delacorte and Net Galley allowed me to download and read this ebook for review.  It will be published at the end of March.  I was so impressed by it, I have pre-ordered a copy for my own library.

This is a story of survival and a grand adventure both.  Piper goes out in the storm to rescue Micah, a young boy she's befriended.  He's determined to get better quality salvage and thinks he can hide under an overhang and be safe.  When she reaches him, he's OK, but the storm isn't over yet.  When it ends, he's been hit by a rock and is unconscious.  She saw a caravan traveling in the storm (which was insane) and they were hit also.  She's hoping they have medicine to help Micah.  Instead, she finds a girl that's also unconscious.  What she doesn't know is that this girl is very, very important and that a very determined man is coming after her and doesn't care what happens to anyone who gets in his way.

The only way to get away is to board the train as stowaways and head for the King.  The mark of the dragonfly is his mark, so she should be able to get a reward and have a better life with this find.  From here on out, the story gets even more exciting.

Action, adventures, raiders, slavers, a shapeshifter, a fireman who is almost fire himself, the engineer and Piper and her friend are all brought together into one big confrontation.  I enjoyed the adventure story, the odd bits of magic, and the budding romance Piper has.  All the characters were a bit odd in some way and that reminded me of me.  I've never been "normal" and I don't want to be.  Normal is boring; I'm not boring.  And neither is Piper!

Happy reading.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E K Johnston

Owen is sixteen and bad at math.  (I was like that at that age, too.)  When Siobhan offers to tutor him so he can get passing grades, he accepts her help.  He had no clue that she would become his bard...

Carolrhoda Lab and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to download and read this ebook (thank you).  It will be published in March, so keep an eyeball out for it then.

Ms. Johnston creates a very interesting world where using fossil fuels attracts dragons.  Maybe if you faced the possibility of a dragon eating you when you went to the store, you might go less often, right?  When Henry Ford finds out dragons are attracted to cars, he hires a dragon slayer.  Soon all the small villagers have lost their dragon slayers to Mr. Ford and his money.  That leaves them helpless when attacked.  It also means the dragon slayers are taking more chances with their lives.

Owen is no ordinary schoolboy.  He has dragon slayer blood in him.  He's not interested in fighting dragons but he soon has no choice.  A retired dragon slayer (injured in the line of duty) agrees to work with him and train him.  She tells him all dragon slayers must have a bard, so Siobhan changes from algebra tutor to bard.

There are more and more dragons all the time, most of them younger.  This team of dragon slayers must find the birthing site and stop the dragons.  A badly injured dragon slayer, a new dragon slayer, and an adult male dragon slayer are not enough to face a large family of dragons.  However, that's all they have...

There's lots of action, not everyone escapes unscathed and you aren't sure who is going to win the battle.  The story kept my attention, was written well, and I enjoyed watching Owen grow up.  You never know what you can do until you try; he's a good example of that.

Happy reading.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lamb to the Slaughter: A Marjory Fleming Thriller by Aline Templeton

Marjorie Fleming is back and her troubles are no less in this book; they just have changed faces...

Edelweiss and Witness Impulse allowed me to download a copy of this ebook for review (thank you).  The book will be published March 18th.

The hot topic in the village is about the new superstore proposal.  If the property owner sells the property, all the small shops will need to relocate and it will change the flavor of that street and the village.  There are people on both sides of the issue and the meeting gets a bit loud, but the property owner isn't there to decide their fate.  They think he's still mulling over the issue and hasn't made a decision yet.  He'll never finish making that decision because someone has shot him and he's dead...

There are multiple suspects, everyone has a shotgun for hunting, and  no one saw anything because they were all at the meeting.  Marjorie sends her team out to investigate, being antsy because she'd like to help.  The brass above want answers and all she's getting is more questions, no answers.  It doesn't help when someone "leaks" the story to the press, making the investigation tougher.  Then a boy is shot and killed and people are beginning to fear for their lives.  

At the center of this investigation you have everything from rowdy boys, police affairs, and fraud to murder.  This is the toughest case Marjorie has had to face so far and it doesn't have a happy resolution.  Life is tough sometimes.  

With all that happened in this story, I'll be interested in seeing what Ms. Templeton throws at Marjorie in the next book.  Each book by this author is getting better.  Have a read and see what you think.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Red Wolf by Jennifer Dance

He's a child in the Anishnaabek tribe.  Life has been good, his parents love him, and all is well.  Then the white man gets involved...

Dundurn and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this ebook for review (thank you).  It will be published February 25th, so look for a copy then.

I'm familiar with our American Indian tribes and the wrongs done to them but knew nothing about Canada's history.  I even have Yakima Indian relatives.  They were just part of the family.  When I played with them as a child, I was always the Indian and they were always the Cowboys.  Our parents found that humorous.

It's disappointing to find that no matter where the Indians dwelled, they were treated badly.  Red Wolf is taken from his family and sent to a boarding school.  The people running the school were mean and abusive.  Red Wolf knew no English, so he was scorned.  They took away all the items that had meaning to him and burned them.  Soon he's alone with no friends and no family and in despair.  He's tough, though, and survives.

This is fiction based on fact and it reads like a history novel.  There is a lot of sadness and needless death in Red Wolf's life.  While written for middle graders, I found it very interesting.  The white man seems to put those he doesn't want around him in camps, reservations, internments, or the like all the time.  I was taught to embrace differences.  You learn more from those not like you than you do from carbon copies of you.  The world would be a better place if other people practiced that.

One thing that made me keep faith in Red Wolf was that he had a timber wolf for a pet and I knew the wolf would wait for him to return.  You can depend on animals even if you can't depend on people.

Happy reading.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Secret Box by Whitaker Ringwald

Jax gets a present on her 12th birthday that her mother immediately confiscates.  She won't let her open the package and intends to mail it back to the sender.  Jax doesn't understand that.  I mean, it is HER gift and why should her mother be so upset?

Net Galley and Katherine Tegen Books allowed me to read an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  This book will be in local bookstores on February 25th.

It's a good thing Jax has her cousin Ethan and his older brother, Tyler, to help.  Tyler is a pain, computer obsessed and very smart; he follows his own rules.  Obviously little kids like Ethan and Jax don't belong in his world.  When he finds out the present was from their Aunt Juniper (who is estranged from the family) and Jax got a box she can't open out of some material she's never seen before, it begins to look like a computer game to him and he gets more interested.

They go in search of Aunt Juniper to find out what it is and how it works.  As they take their car trip to where she lives, they get approached by an old couple who wants to acquire the box.  Jax won't sell it and they leave.  When they come out of the convenience store, they find the car broken into and the box gone...  Now is when life gets real interesting for them.

Mr. Ringwald writes a smooth story with mythology woven into it.  There is lots of action and the story turns tense as the battle of the box accelerates.  This is written for ages ten and up and they will love it.  It's busy, exciting, and interesting.  And it's going to be a trilogy, so there will be more to read!

Happy reading.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Execution by Dick Wolf

It's a high risk job for a female in Mexico; she's the Comandante of the Mexican Intelligence Agency.  She is dedicated, fearless, unemotional and a very hard person on the outside.  She must be to be successful in her job.  When she finds twenty-three bodies beheaded on the border, she knows who has done the dreadful killing.  Finding him is very, very difficult, though...

William Morrow sent me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  It was published in January, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

Jeremy Fisk is still wounded in his heart and soul from the loss of his love.  He still hates her killer and wishes he had been able to administer his own justice.  When he gets a new assignment to protect the leaders coming to a United Nations meeting, he meets Garza.  She's the new President's guard and is still watching for Chuparosa, a man who kills indiscriminately and makes the deaths brutal enough you can't forget them.  Jeremy doesn't need her or her problems in his life, but if the man she's hunting is a terrorist and plans an attack on the leaders at the UN meeting, it's his job to protect, too.

I live in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Juarez is only 45 miles away.  Juarez is best known for dead young women but there have been beheadings there, too.  While the horrors related in this book sound unbelievable, it's true.  It's healthier to take a little money and not see the wrong doing.  Otherwise you most likely end up dead.

Mr. Wolf writes a well thought story with a round about way of making all the facts come together.  Some of what I read didn't make sense at the time, but it was like a slap in the face later when I figured it out.  His characters are both more and less than they seem when he introduces them.  Garza finds a way to settle an old score as well as Jeremy.  Life isn't settled and happy but it's going on and they're going with it.

I'm interested in seeing what new terrorist threats Jeremy will be facing in the next book.  He's an intriguing character with more depth to him than I initially thought.  I like him and I enjoyed this book.  Why don't you give it a try? 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Jacob and the peculiars are on the run.  Their home has been destroyed, the wights are after them, and Miss Peregrine can't change out of the bird form she's in.  They have to find another ymbryne to fix her and the closest in London.

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

At the end of the last book, it seemed all was lost.  The children were in a boat at sea with a submarine trying to find them and boats and planes were about, too.  They were having an awful time rowing and Miss Peregrine isn't looking well even as a bird.

This story continues from that point.  They finally make land and keep running.  They meet strange people and creatures, they're not sure if they can believe them or not and the Nazis (wights) are on their tail.  They go through a portal to be able to get London for help, but there's danger everywhere.

Mr. Riggs always makes his stories exciting and odd.  All the peculiars have strange talents and they use them to escape capture.  He has put a nasty twist in the story that's almost mean.  It does mean there will be at least one more book in the series.

Jacob falls in love with Emma, the children are working well as a team, and they are doing their best to save Miss Peregrine and to find a safe place for themselves again.  When things go badly for them, they accept that and are going along with it at the moment.  They have no choice.  However, they aren't going to give up.  I can't wait to read their next adventure.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Sands of Ethryn by C S Lakin

The King is ruling a dying land.  There's a water shortage and food supplies are limited.  When a team of workers find an old archeological site, he comes for visit.  When he touches a beautiful gem set at the top of an altar, he falls into a coma.  This is a perfect opportunity for an old enemy to arise and take over the kingdom...

The author sent me an ARC of this book to read for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Mr. Lakin's fairy tales are always twisted tales that connect different times and different worlds together.  She does that well and she also gets you interested and empathetic about her characters.  The King spends of this book in a coma and you get bits and pieces of his past life interspersed with current events.  The Vizier thinks he's strong enough to control a demon he's bringing to life and looks at this as an opportunity to succeed and take over the Kingdom.  He's wrong, the demon takes over control of his body...

My favorite part of the story is the young couple in love.  She is a scribe and works in the scroll room with her grandfather.  He's also a scholar but he's royalty.  Since she has an illness that gives her fits, they can never marry.  But love doesn't care about those things.

This is a complex story with the mix of past and present in the story.  It reads well, there is plenty of action, and the evil almost palpitates off the pages when you read about the demon.  Ms. Lakin has created another fantasy world where the fight between good and evil is hard fought.  

This book is part of The Gates of Heaven series, but it reads just fine alone.  Here's a story with faith in God and evil from Hell meeting in a battle that will end badly for the loser.  Are you ready for a trip back in time?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bad Dad by Derek Munson

Is your Dad a good Dad or a bad Dad?  How do you tell the difference?

Provato Marketing 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 special book for fathers and children.  Dad is only bad because he's playing with the children or giving them cookies or just plain acting like a kid again.  When they think about the nice things he does, they decide he's really an awesome Dad and they love him.  It's cute, it's sweet, and Melody Wang's illustrations make the antics stand out.

I liked this one a lot.  Why don't you read a few pages and see what you think?

I also interviewed the author before I read the book, so it's interesting to see the other side of story.  Here are the questions and answers:

What inspired you to write children's books?

I can honestly say that it was never something I set out to do.  I was out picking blackberries, and the next thing I knew, it felt like a storm was passing through my imagination, pouring out this story idea. Four hours later, I had written Enemy Pie. What a wild ride! And fascinating too, that this story just seemed to be out there, hovering, looking for a writer- it wasn't the other way around. Experiences like these have convinced me that the world is our collective imagination, turned inside out.

Do you get ideas from your family life?

Sometimes I do, but I don't observe things my wife and kids do and think "Hey! That would make a good story!" But when I am in writing mode, I do draw on my experiences as a parent, in the same way that I draw on characters from other stories. 
You don't do the things the Dad in this book does, do you?

Uhhh... No comment. Ok, maybe one comment. My daughter insists Bad Dad is an autobiography, but there are at least 4 things in the book that I have never done!
What will your next book be about?

Bad Dad was such a blast to write, and I've just finished a sequel to it. I'm also editing the first book in a series called Alien All-Stars. The short chapter books are geared toward boys 8-10, and tell the stories and adventures of a boy traveling the galaxy with a quirky alien baseball team. Fun stuff!
Mr. Munson sounds like he would be a fun fellow to visit with it, doesn't he?  I'll be watching for his next books, they sound like fun, too!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith

Have you ever heard of Gold Star Mothers?  They are women who have a lost a child in service to our country.  This story is set in the 1930's and is about a group of women who are traveling to France to see their boy's graves.

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

It begins in Deer Isle, Maine, in 1931.  Cora Blake is doing what she must to keep some food on the table.  She works at the library for free but she works at the cannery to feed her family.  The two girls are her sister's but she's passed on.  Everybody has their own job to keep them warm and have some food.  When she gets a letter telling her she has been approved for a trip to France to see the graveyard where her son was buried, she's elated.  Getting out of the cannery is a joy and it will be the trip of a lifetime for her.  She's excited!

This is a fictional account, but it has the ring of truth.  The women involved are from all walks of life and have different views of their sons.  There is no doubt all of them want to visit the graves and make their peace with the boys who never came home.  What I found most disturbing and most truthful was that a black woman had the same last name as a white woman and when she was found in the white women's hotel, she was quickly moved to Harlem.  Segregation still existed.  One of the military personnel gets blamed for a woman's death that she wasn't responsible for.  Don't bother me with the truth, we're going to make sure this doesn't make the military look bad.

You have the very rich, the very poor, a poor woman who has mental problems, and those who just want to get the visit over with and go home.  When you add in the fact that none of them speak French, it makes the tour that much more interesting.

None of those who go on this tour come home without being changed.  Some for the better, some for the worst.  Trips like the one in this story do influence you.  It's always nice to go home again.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Unremarkable Squire by Nick Hayden

Sir Lance Valentino needs a new squire; his old one died (he didn't stay away from monsters).  As he looks over the crowd in Basileon, he sees a young man who is really quite unremarkable.  His clothes are none too clean, he doesn't respond to Valentino's call for a squire, but he comes over when he realizes Valentino is looking at him and beckoning him.

Mr. Hayden allowed me to read his ebook for this Goddess Fish Blog Tour (thank you).  The book is available wherever ebooks are sold.

I liked Obed, the main character in this story.  He's not chatty, he only tells the truth, and he has his own sense of right and wrong.  Of course, not everyone likes that.  Most people want you to do what they want, forget about right and wrong.  He's also sincere in his desire to serve and will walk into situations most intelligent people would run from.  How could I not like him?

This story is full of monsters, magic, a mage or two, some crazy folks, and more.  Obed gets in deeper and deeper, but he gives up on no one and keeps going.

This is a fun fantasy tale that keeps evolving while you sit there and say, "Now what?"  You won't be bored and I soon found myself rooting for Obed.  Why not give this story a read and see what you think about him?

Nick will be awarding a Winner’s choice of a $10 Starbucks card or a 4-piece box of Moonstruck truffles to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a Winner’s choice of a $10 Starbucks card or a 4-piece box of Moonstruck truffles to a randomly drawn host. In addition, anyone who is interested can go to their website (Barking Rain Press)  and get a free 4-chapter sample of the book, plus a coupon for 35% off the price of the print or ebook version of the book.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 

Blog Tour

Good luck and happy reading.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Hero of Blind Pig Island by Jimmy Olsen

Have you ever visited an island community?  People are different on an island.  They're more laid back, don't rush things and enjoy taking your tourist dollars.  For the most part, though, they'd prefer you didn't live there.  These are insulated communities.

Mr. Olsen sent me a copy of his book to read for review (thank you).  You can find a copy on Amazon now.

I've visited the San Juan Islands, the Hawaiian Islands, and the Bahamas.  Given the descriptions of the land and people in the Caribbean, I'd say the Bahamas has a similar flavor.  I have to admit island life appeals to me but it'd be hard to get all the books I read there.  And the internet might be a bit iffie.  However, being secluded and quiet offers some charm to me.

These stores are almost vignettes of island life.  He lived in the Caribbean and it shows in his stories.  The stories ares short, focus on a person or two, and tell of people, events, and changes in island life.

The story that touched me most is titled:  "Denise".  A young woman wants to learn to scuba dive.  This one is set in Lake Superior and it's a cold and nasty day.  She almost gives up, but she soldiers on.  She also finds that she loves scuba diving.  She begins working it part-time, then finds a full-time position where she'll be on a boat at sea.  She's thrilled. I was pleased to see someone following her dreams and being happy with her life choices.

Here's an opportunity to sit in your arm chair and visit the Caribbean.  Each tale is different, so you have lots of "flavors" to taste as you read this book.  Grab a cup of coffee or tea and travel...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, The Graphic Novel, by Ransom Riggs

Take odd children, a strange schoolmistress, and an old school and mix that with evil and danger and you have a very suspenseful story for young readers.  Put it in graphic form and it's even scarier...

Quirk Books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  I had previously read the text version and enjoyed it.  This one is even more fun to read if you like graphic novels.  The book has been published, so check with your local bookstore to get a copy.

Jacob always thought his grandfather's pictures were fake.  Grandfather had lived at that house during the Second World War and he wasn't sure that his mind hadn't been a bit affected by the war times.  He knew his grandfather thought it was all true, but he wasn't sure.  At least he wasn't until his grandfather was killed.  Then he was afraid he might have been telling the truth.

He has his own mental problems after the death and the psychiatrist suggests he visit this home and see if he can get the matter out of his head.  He convinces his father to take him there.  What he finds is an old run-down home and he's disappointed.  Then he finds one of the children...

Mr. Rigg's has created a weird horror story that grabs your attention and drags you through the book.  This graphic edition with artwork done by Cassandra Jean is an attractive way to read this story.  I also enjoyed the print story.  And I'm lucky enough to have the next book to read, too.  So watch for another blog post on Mr. Rigg's work.  I know it won't be boring.

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...