Monday, June 30, 2014

The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher by Jessica Lawson, Iacopo Bruno (Illustrated by)

I read about Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer during my school days and remember just a few mentions of Becky Thatcher.  Having an opportunity to read about her sounded like fun, and it was!

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published in July, so check for a copy at your local bookstore.

This story was a lot more serious than I expected.  Becky's older brother died from an illness and they had moved to this new town.  Becky's father is a judge and he gets a position quickly.  Becky's mom has withdrawn inside herself and hardly even speaks to them.  Becky worries her mother is pushing her away.  That's a lot for a little one to deal with.  And then there's the new school and students there.

It seems Tom Sawyer's half-brother is a nice guy and he walks Becky to school.  Some bully boys give her bad time and she ends up being late for class.  The teacher isn't buying any excuses until someone else speaks up for her.  It saves her from the ruler but doesn't endear the teacher to her.

Becky keeps score in her head.  Anyone who is mean to her is likely to find a stink bug in their desk or maybe their shoe.  She refuses to back down or give up.  And she's also determined to have adventures, just like she promised Jon, her dead brother.  

There are robbers in town, the boys and Becky and her friend are on a quest to steal from the "witch", and their teacher gets sick.  If that's not enough excitement, Becky tries to protect the "witch" (who's actually a nice lady) and makes her look even more guilty of tampering with a grave.  She can't tell who she saw do it, so she's stuck.  The problem is that the robbers saw her, and they're after her now.

Reading about Becky Thatcher isn't boring and I found it great fun.  I think the author depicted the time period appropriately and I found her characters believable.  Give your middle grade readers a touch of the past.  It will make them smile.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Rollover: A Dan Mahoney Mystery by Susan Slater

Wagon Mound might be a quiet, sleepy town, but it's not what it seems...

Poisoned Pen Press and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published in July, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Someone has robbed the bank, so Dan is on the case because the insurance company that he works for is sending him to investigate the theft.  The missing necklace is worth a lot of money and they want to confirm its theft, look at the evidence and see if there is any chance of recovery before paying the claim.

Dan's first clue that something is wrong is when his jeep overheats in the desert.  It's not long after that a pickup shows up and offers to take him to a service station for help.  He accepts, then he ends up in a traffic accident.  When he awakens from his injury, he finds out the driver is dead and that his jeep was tampered with.  It appears someone doesn't want him in Wagon Mound.  He refuses to let that bother him.

What he doesn't expect is that there is more than one illegal activity going on in Wagon Mound and neither one of them want him around.  His girlfriend shows up to help him while he's recovering and gets bit by the investigative bug, too.  She wants to be partners with him.  He likes the idea.  At least he does until they kidnap her.  Then he gets real scared he might lose her...

The pace is fast, the crimes believable and the small town characters are just that:  characters.  When people start dying, the police and Dan both step up their investigations.  I was surprised to find out who the real bad-doers were.

I live in New Mexico and was pleased that the author portrayed the small town and landscape accurately.  A doctor there was even trying to grow different desert grasses to bring back the prairie chicken population.  (They are getting more scarce here every day.)  I had fun with this one because it was set in my "backyard", talked about issues in our state, and was a good mystery, too.  Give it a try! 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Kai And The Magic Jacket by Tricia Chinn Campbell

Kai gets a jacket on his birthday that is an anonymous gift.  He likes the looks but doesn't understand the magic in the beginning...

Blissful Thinking Publishing and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published the first of August.

When Kai goes to bed that evening, he sees ghosts!  They are his ancestors, and they will be with him when he wears his new coat.  These ghosts are friendly and loving and Kai feels reassured.

The nicest part of this story is that Kai gets good common sense advice from them and he learns to be more mature.  My grandparents taught me that, so I can relate to that theme.

The illustrations are beautiful, the book is fun to read, and you get a bit of Chinese culture mixed in, too.  It's a very nice story for young ones.  Give it a try, I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Lost Children of the Far Islands by Emily Raabe

They aren't lost.  Not really.  Their mother is just trying to keep them safe...

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

What originally caught my attention was the fact three siblings were on a quest to save their mother and protect the world.  Tales like that fascinate me.  As I was reading along, I suddenly realized the secret their mother hadn't told them.  They are selkies!  That's another fantasy that intrigues me.  I liked this book!

The twins, brother and sister, have a younger sister who doesn't speak yet.  She also gets easily upset.  They take care of her and think of her as normal.  At least, as normal as Ila gets.  Everything is going along like usual until they find some strange tracks outside their bedroom window.  Leo reads a lot and he says they are wolf prints.  Gus doesn't want to believe him but when she finds a brown fuzzy animal in her room who can talk, she knows something definitely odd is going on.

Their mother has taught them a night poem and they use that power to keep the wolves away.  The problem is that it takes away from their mother's health.  As she gets sicker and ends up in the hospital, the fuzzy brown mink (sea mink to be exact) comes back and tells them they must go with him to save her life.  They figure it's worth a try.  And Ila actually speaks for the first time.  Things are changing...

Everything seems to be a bit of mystery to the children and to the reader, but it's tied together well, uses myth and paranormal attributes to give it a tingle, and I found it great fun to read.  There's lots of action, there are some casualties and you aren't sure who is going to win until the end. This is an adventure you won't forget.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Maddie's Dream by Catherine Hapka

This is a new series:  Marguerite Henry's Ponies of Chincoteague.  I'll never forget the story of Misty, so I had to see how Ms. Hapka handled this new series.  She does a very good job!

Alladin and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 8th, and has been written for ages 8-12.  

Maddie is taking riding lessons and has a favorite pony.  Cloudy was not treated or trained well and it takes some work to turn her into a good riding horse for lessons.  Maddie is patient and kind, and she and Cloudy are good friends as well as riding companions.  She loves riding, but she also plays soccer.

Her first problem is that there an opportunity to get on a competitive team for special exhibit games, her parents are all excited.  She didn't mind until she found out it would take her out of town and she'd miss a lot of riding days.  She tries to get out of competing, but her parents aren't listening.

Then comes the big, big problem.  The family that sold Cloudy is thinking about buying her back again.  Maddie can't give up her up!  But how can she save her?

Maddie's antics will make your young one smile.  It's a sweet story with a happy ending.  And the best part?  There will be more stories about these ponies!

Happy reading.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Monster Hunter Nemesis by Larry Correia

Agent Franks is a monster, literally.  He's made from various human parts (just like Frankenstein) and he has a magic elixir he uses to heal his wounds and keep fighting.  He also contains a spirit from long ago.  He's on the right side, helping keep the world of humans safe and honoring an agreement he made long, long ago.  One of the items in the agreement was that they would NOT create any more creatures like him.  Then the government broke the contract by experimenting with more monsters...

Baen and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published in July.  If you've been waiting for the next book, it's here!  This is the fifth book in this series and the only one I've read.  That didn't make it hard to read or understand.  I also found it fascinating.

This is story of war between demons.  In the beginning, it was a story of a power play by the government, but they knew not what they created.  Nor did they realize the time bomb in the monsters head's could be neutralized.  There was so much they didn't know...

The battles are stupendous, lots of humans die along with a few demons and I learned these battles had been ongoing since the creation of earth.  I wouldn't want to fight the right hand of Lucifer, would you?

There are surprises along the way (like when Franks finds out he's a father) and the ending is ironic and gives you a clue to the next book in the series.  

What I liked was how Franks, who's like a machine and has no emotions, finds out that he can feel loss even if he can't feel sorrow.  He also doesn't want his friends hurt.  The longer he spends with humans, the more they rub off on him.  I think this is a good thing, but it might not be handy when fighting monsters.  I guess we'll see when the next book comes out!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve, Sarah McIntyre

Have you ever heard of seawigs?  Neither have I, so I had to read this book and see what Mr. Reeve and Ms. McIntyre have created!

Random House Books for Young Readers and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 22nd, so you will be able to grab a copy then.

Oliver's parents are explorers.  He's been all over the world, shared exciting adventures, and now he's really glad to be moving home and staying in one place for a while.  That pleasant feeling lasts at least a half hour while he's getting his room into shape.  His parents have gone off to check out the islands in the harbor.  They don't remember them from before, so they're adventuring again.  He gets a bit anxious when they don't return.  Even worse, when he looks out the window, the islands are gone!

This is an inventive, imaginative tale that is great fun to read.  Middle graders should get a real kick out of it!  OK, it is a bit silly but so what?

When Oliver starts out after his parents, he stops on a small island.  There's nothing there to tell him anything until a mostly blind mermaid shows up.  She's looking for the eyeglass doctor on the beach.  He tells her his troubles, she tells him the islands have legs and can walk.  She also introduces him to the island he's standing on.  Oliver names him Cliff.  Cliff tells him the islands have gone to a competition to determine who would be their leader for the next year.  

Oliver and the mermaid help Cliff get a cool hat (for the competition) and they and the albatross take off across the sea.  Along the way, they meet sarcastic seaweed, sea monkeys, and lots of other islands.  The most dangerous one is run by another child who wants control of the sea.  He has Oliver's parents in glass balls and won't let them go.

Oliver is lot more adventurous than I'd ever have been at that age.  It must have been all that travel and exploring.  Still, it takes even more than his heroic efforts to save his parents.

This story keeps your attention and makes you laugh in places.  Everybody lives happily ever after (except maybe the boy who wanted to be king) and there are lessons learned along the way.  It's a good read.  Try it out!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry

Here is a school for girls that takes those in that the family's don't want around or can't handle.  The parents pay for the education and room and board.  The lady running the school keeps the money for herself and gives them very little to eat.  Their education is boring, the lady's brother is a bother when he visits, and nobody is any too happy living there.  They do all agree it's better to be there than at home, though.

Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review.  It will be published September 23rd, so make a note to pick up a copy then.

They are serving Sunday dinner to the lady and her brother on a Sunday, as they usually do, when the woman starts to choke and then just sits there - without breathing!  Her brother runs to her aid and keels over the floor.  He's also expired.  The girls just sit there and look at each other!  What happened, how did it happen, and what will they do now?

The first thing they decide to do is bury the bodies.  They want to stay together in the house and they are prepared to make it appear everything is normal.  While they are in the process of hiding the bodies until night, they have their first shock.  Company comes to visit!  What's the worst thing that could happen when your guardians have died from the dinner they ate?  A surprise birthday party for the dead man that they didn't know about!

This is a fanciful tale that I just love.  They begin by telling lies:  The lady is sick and abed, the brother has gone to rescue a poor nephew in India (suddenly, of course) and the party will have to be cancelled.  One lady has hurt her ankle while the girls were trying to keep her out of the house, so now they have an overnight guest.  They put her in bed with the dead woman, hide her glasses and give her a drink with a sleeping power in it.  She sleeps well.  In the meantime, Stout Alice has to dress up as the teacher and take her place in the bed to make sure the woman doesn't realize the wrong person is sharing the bed.

This is just the beginning of this tale of deception.  In the midst of covering the calamity, they are also trying to determine who killed the brother and sister.  Who would want them dead?  And how did they do it?

There were spots that made me laugh out loud.  I have to admit, I might have been one of those girls who would do that sort of thing when I was growing up.  I had lots of imagination and so do these girls!

Read this book, you won't be bored!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I Am the Mission by Allen Zadoff

He is a secret weapon.  He's a boy who has been taught how to act, what to do and how to kill.  He's merciless, fearless, and very effective.  When goes off the grid to try to forget his last assignment, he makes his leaders fearful.  Is he out of control?

Little Brown Books for Young Readers and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It is the second book in the series, but stands alone just fine.  Both books are now available at your local bookshop.

He's given another false name and identity and given a new assignment:  Take out the the military leader who is heading a revolt and wants to make a statement to the United States government.  It's not easy to do when the leader's guarded.  He's in a group of enemies who are manipulating him as much as he's manipulating them.  Not only that, since he was told not to go into the camp and did, now he cannot contact his own group.  All the lines of communication are dead.  What's he to do?  He decides all he can do is complete his mission.  If he dies, he dies.

Mr. Zadoff writes fast-paced, mean books.  This is war; there are no peaceful negotiations.  People live, people die.  The dead are considered collateral damage.  Remorse and fear have no place here.  Make sure your young reader can handle the storyline before you let them read it.  It would have given me nightmares.  Of course, Mom wouldn't have let me read it anyway.  With the things children see today, they may be more mature than I was when young, but be sure to discuss it with them if they have questions or concerns at the end.

There will be another book in this series.  I get the feeling that main character is going to find out who is leading him and why and won't be pleased.  I may be wrong.  Why don't you read it and see what you think?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Desperate Endurance by Kasey Riley

When her husband walks in with a pregnant mistress and tells Bethany he wants a divorce, she's happy to give it to him.  They haven't had a good marriage for a while.  But it's going to take her a while to adjust to her new life.  She decides to clear her head of the past and do endurance riding competition while she mentally heals.

The author graciously shared a copy of this book with me for review (thank you).  It has been published so you can grab a copy now.

Bethany is doing well, travelling from location to location, helping set up the trail, and earning some points and prizes along the way.  One late night, when she's been on the road for most of the day, she pulls over in a rest spot to check on the horses.  When she hears another car pull in, she doesn't worry about it.  Then she hears some conversation and realizes it's not a traditional rest call activity.  They are threatening a man and end up shooting him.  When another car pulls in and sees one of the men with a gun, he takes off again.  They check her rig, and then head out after the running witness.  She goes in woods after the man that has been shot and he gives her a key to a post office box and tells her his son's name before he dies.  He also tells her not to trust anyone, even his son, until she knows if he's involved in the trouble or not.

She changes her appearance, hides her vehicle and trailer, and moves on carefully and cautiously.  The POB has a deed to a property with a quitclaim deed.  Whoever has it could claim the ranch.  She hides that and goes on her to next endurance race.

The men after her keep finding her.  She keeps moving and hoping to escape but she knows it's not going to work that way.  In her quest to get away, she meets Roger, the son.  He's a good man and a gentleman, and even though sparks fly between them, they maintain their distance.  That is, until he finds out there are gunmen after her.  Then he puts her on his ranch to keep her safe.  That plan backfires...

The author shares a lot of detail about endurance riding and horses that I found very interesting.  I also enjoyed the romance.  I could have done without the sex scenes, but some folks like them.  Watching Bethany learn to act like a woman again and recognizing that the things her husband said were lies made me feel good.  We all need to be ourselves, not what someone else thinks we should be.  I'm also fond of happy every after stories, so this story was a real winner for me.  If you have an interest in horses, westerns, or romance, you'll like this book.  Give it a try!

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Catered Fourth of July by Isis Crawford

It's a Revolutionary War Reenactment on the fourth of July.  It would be a good idea except it's about 100 degrees and everyone is very hot and perspiring, especially the caterers and the soldiers.  Things get even hotter when one of the muskets blows up and kills one of the men...

Kensington Books sent me an ARC of this book to read for review (thank you).  It will be published on June 24th, so grab yourself a copy then.  This is part of a series and they're all good.

If it isn't bad enough that Jack is killed, Marvin is accused of murder.  He was in charge of the props and it was one of those turned out deadly.  He has no idea how it got corrupted and he didn't hand out the guns, they each grabbed their own.  But it looks like he's going to jail anyway.  He's Bernie's boyfriend and she knows he's innocent.  She enlists her sister, Libby, to help her prove that Marvin is innocent.  This is harder than you might expect.

It seems Jack was romancing the women of the community.  Whether they were young or old, pretty or not, single or married, it didn't matter.  Jack had slept with almost all of them.  That makes the suspect list very long.  Was it an angry husband or boyfriend?  Or was it a scorned lover?  Or was it someone else altogether?

As they wade through the clues and try to find a way to put the puzzle pieces of the crime together in a solution, they continue cooking and making up new recipes to help them feel better.  The recipes are also included at the back of the book.  So you get a good mystery and good mysteries both at the same time!  What more could you want?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Merry Christmas, Henry by Aubrey Wynne

This is a hauntingly beautiful story that will stick with me for a long time.  Henry is an old-fashioned boy who loves to paint.  He's not old, but he has no interest in the activities of the people around him.  He just likes his little apartment and painting.  That's the only real world to him...

The author graciously gave me a copy of this story to read for review.  You can find a copy of it on Amazon.

This is a short story but I found it very effective.  You understand Henry's solitude and his loneliness.  He has a job as a security guard at the local museum.  One night, as they are unwrapping new paintings for exhibits, he finds the most beautiful woman he's ever seen in a painting.  It looks like she's looking right at him.  The painting is deemed not worthy of public display in the main exhibit hall and is placed in another less travelled area.  That's OK with Henry.  He visits her on his night shift and eats lunch with her.  She looks so sad, though.  It's a beautiful setting, but there's no real color. One night, an idea comes to Henry.  He knows it's against the rules and even against the law, but who's going to notice?

He sneaks his paints into the museum and begins adding flowers to the picture.  He hasn't touched the lady but he notices she's beginning to smile.  As he keeps enhancing the picture he sees more changes.  No one else sees anything.  He already had a crush on her and now he loves this woman in the picture.  It will do no good, but he does.

Sometimes miracles happen on Christmas Eve so Henry is hoping she may walk out of the painting.  He has no such luck and tells her Merry Christmas and turns to go.  Henry might not get what he had planned, but he does get what he wanted.

I really enjoyed this story and how the author ended the story.  It's a precious little read if you enjoy fantasy and light romance.  Why not give it a try yourself?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Demon Notebook by Erika McGann

What if your failed spells started coming true?

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky and Net Galley allowed to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

This is written for middle graders and is a fantasy tale with witches, demons and school all mixed together.  School is bad enough, imagine if a demon was loose!

It all starts when they try to make magic spells to get even with those who pick on them or to make their own skills better.  They made a list of their spells, but none of them worked.  So then they get the bright idea to use a Ouija board to see if they can make contact.  They do and they wish they hadn't.  You see, they were in exactly the wrong place when they did it.  And now a demon has possessed Una!

While they are very worried about that, they also notice that their spells are coming true and not all of them are "nice" spells.  Nor are they as much fun as they thought they would be when they made them...  

What are they to do? Out of desperation, they go visit the odd lady across from the school who they think might have a clue.  She does and she helps but they have to do the work themselves. 

I liked watching the girls learn to overcome their fears and how they merged into a team with each person willing to give help to another.  That's an important skill to learn in life. 

The ending is exciting and fitting and I don't think anyone in this group of girls is going to be doing spells again.  I wouldn't either!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Worst Witch to the Rescue by Jill Murphy

It's time for Witch School again and Mildred is looking forward to it.  She has come up with the best spell during summer break and she KNOWS Ms. H will be impressed.  She can't wait to share!

Candlewick Books and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published (along with the rest of series) on August 5th.

Mildred runs into a tree in her return to school with a little help from her cat and, while she's trying to get untangled, Ethel finds her.  She joins her on the branch and talks about the new school year and asks how Mildred is doing.  Mildred can't believe she's being friendly so she talks too.  Unfortunately, she talks too much.

When it's time for showing off the spells they created in the summer, Ethel is suddenly using her spell.  When she helped her pick up her things out at the tree, she stole the spell that Mildred is so proud of.  But how will Mildred prove that?

With her two friends and a couple of animals to help her, she does what she can to convince her teacher and the principal that the spell is hers.  It's good story and a great end to this series.

I enjoyed reading all of these stories and think most young ones will, too.  They are also great bedtime reads, though they will take more than one night to read.  Why don't you give these classic stories a read, or a reread as the case may be?

Happy reading!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Worst Witch Saves the Day by Jill Murphy

Never use a curling iron without instructions.  Also, be very careful with growth spells...

Candlewick Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  This whole series will be available August 5th, so make a note to pick them up then.

Mildred is back at school, still trying to fit in and stay out of trouble.  When she gets her friend's curling iron stuck in her hair, Ethel offers to help and cuts a hunk out of her very long hair.  That looks awful so she keeps cutting.  Poor Mildred.  She has hair sticking out all over her head now.  What's she to do? Ethel does feel a bit guilty, so she volunteers to make up the spell to make things grow.  Mildred is going to try it on her hair. 

Remember in the Sorcerer's Apprentice when Mickey Mouse used a spell to get the broom to do his work for him, but he doesn't know how to stop it and it almost floods the building?  Here Mildred puts the stuff on her and it starts to grow and grow and grow...  She can't get it to stop!

Mildred sure isn't boring.  She never means to do any harm, but somehow things go wrong.  Your young one won't be bored reading any of this series.  Even if Mildred doesn't do well with spells, she still keeps you entertained!

Dead Giveaway by Joanne Fluke

It's hot in Las Vegas and not just from the heat...

Kensington Books sent me a copy of their new publication of this book for review (thank you).  It has been republished and you can buy a copy at your local bookstore now.

A beautiful condo has been built in the pristine mountains close to Las Vegas and only certain people are allowed to rent the units.  You have to be discreet, rich, well-mannered and have no bad habits.  The select few chosen to live there fit that description.  What no one knows is that the disabled lady living there is a ticking time bomb for others...

This had the feeling of an old Agatha Christie story.  When I read it, it was Ten Little Indians.  It was later retitled And Then There Were None.  

The plot of this story consists of a few killings at the start of the book, meeting the folks that live at the condo, and then being stuck in the condo due to an avalance.  When people start dying in the condo, they think it's all accidental.  Then they realize they are housing a murderer.  But which one is the murderer?

This is a suspenseful, tense story with several unusual characters.  Most are very resourceful and are more than they seem in appearance.  It was much more exciting than I anticipated.  It would make a great movie.

My favorite part are the romances.  Couples that had separated came together again, the main female character finally found a man worth her love, and the ironic ending with disabled woman was perfect.  I really enjoyed this read.  Maybe you will, too!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Worst Witch at Sea by Jill Murphy

How can going on a holiday be bad?  Just ask Mildred...

Candlewick Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this series for review (thank you).  The new edition will be published August 5th, so grab a copy then.

The first thing that happens is that Ms. H. takes her familiar away from her.  She says it's time for her to have a good cat and gives her a well-mannered witch's cat and reassigns her pet as a "mouser" in the kitchen.  She misses her kitty!  The other cat doesn't snuggy.  She does ride a broomstick well, but that doesn't count.

What's Mildred to do if she wants her cat back?  She has to catnap her, that's what.  Then she has hide her on their holiday.  When the dorm area is all one big room, she has to change her plans.  She ends up hiding her on a boat and sneaking her food during the day.

When she gets caught by Ethel, she makes up a story about it.  Ethel decides to get even with her and sets the boat to sea, little knowing what a catastrophe she has arranged! Mildred comes to the rescue again, even if it is by accident.

Mildred is such a delightful character.  She's not very self-confident, she gets blamed for everything, and she still fumbles through and comes out on top.  She never gives up hope, and that's a lesson in itself.

Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

This book caught my attention because it touches a fantasy I've had for a long time.  I've often wished I could trade places with someone for a day and live their life.  Driving by and seeing someone on the porch by the river made me wish I was there instead, or someone riding horses on the beach and laughing in joy.  I'd look at them and think it would be fun to feel what they were feeling.  In this book, the women are friends who have a disagreement at class reunion and find themselves wearing each other bodies and living the other person's life.  Boy, do they have a lot to learn...

Atria Books 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.

Casey works as a host for Gossip TV and has given up love and family to be successful in her career.  Rachel is the mom to three and has been married for twenty years.  Switching places is a shock!  Casey can handle anything anyone throws her on TV, but she sure can't change a diaper.  Nor is she trained in handling teenagers.  She suddenly begins to understand why Rachel looked the way she did and why she was always tired.

Rachel can't believe she's so thin or so pretty after occupying Casey's body.  What she can't understand is how mean everybody is to her.  Everyone in the TV business is stabbing everyone else in the back.  Surprisingly, she also learns that she's good at doing the journalist work she'd always planned on doing before she got pregnant.  She makes Casey an even bigger star.

Meanwhile, Casey is helping her family over some rough spots, including the estrangement Rachel and her husband felt.  By involving the husband in family activities and sprucing up Rachel's look a bit, things are looking up.

They're really trying hard to find the bartender that brought them the drink that made them switch.  They want to switch back.  He tells them that they have to really want the change before it can happen.

The ending is amusing and fun.  It's a bit fantastic, but sometimes life is that way.  What I do know after reading this is that I think I won't worry about other people's lives.  My life keeps me busy enough!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Bad Spell for the Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

This is year three at witch school.  Will it be any better?

Candlewick Books and Net Galley gave me the opportunity read this book for review (thank you).  The new editions will be published August 5th, so make a note to pick them up then.

This year, Mildred is determined to succeed.  Her biggest problem is still Ethel, who is always looking for a chance to get her in trouble.  When Mildred spots a new student in her first year at the school she goes over to welcome her and calm her down.  Instead, the student gets mouthy and Mildred tells her tales about the woods to get her to shut up.  You'd know it; it's Ethel's little sister.  When Mildred makes a derogatory comment about her, Ethel decides to get even.  She sneaks into Mildred's room and turns her into a frog.  

When Ms. H comes up check on why she hasn't come down for classes, she grabs the frog and puts in a glass container for use in the classroom later.  Poor Mildred can't talk.  But she can try to communicate otherwise.  Her friends Maud and Enid let her loose and she escapes the school grounds.  She heads for the pond.

Who else but Mildred would find another frog who just happens to be a wizard changed into a frog.  She tells him she'll help him, but it takes a wizard to do it and he's been there for so very long...

These stories are never boring and they're great fun to read.  I had to read the whole series before I could stop.  I like Mildred and her friends.  I bet your little ones will, too.

Scene of the Climb by Kate Dyer-Seeley

This is a mystery set in the Pacific Northwest.  I grew up there and visited the sites described in this book, plus it was a mystery.  I had to read it!

Kensington Books sent me an ARC to read for review (thank you).  It will be published this month, so look for a copy at your local bookstore now.

Meg's goal in life is to be a journalist, just like her dad.  He had a bicycle accident and died, but he's still her hero.  She's trying to get her shattered life back together and move on, but newspaper offices are all shutting down and the opportunities just aren't there.  Right now she's hanging out with her girlfriend and sleeping on her couch.  She needs to find a job soon.

When she stumbles into an opportunity, she's quick to take advantage of it.  She's going to work for Northwest Extreme magazine.  She bluffs that she's an outdoorsy type and can handle things like hiking and climbing.  She thought she would have a bit of time to work her into it.  Unfortunately her first job is follow a reality TV series about extreme hikers and climbers.  They are all in shape and leave her in the dust.  She creates excuses about why she's so slow, etc.  One thing about it, you can learn all about what not to do by reading about Meg.  She wears a brand new pair of hiking boots out on the trail thinking it won't hurt much.  Ha!  What's even worse, while she's faking a fall so no one will know how inexperienced she is, she sees another climber fall off the mountain trail.  He ends up dead.  No one believes her when she says she thinks he was pushed.

As Meg and her friends begin to dig through the evidence available, they find that the show's director is funding this show with his money and is deep in debt.  Lenny had money, but he couldn't fund the show dead.  Another climber, who is the strangest of them all, has an inheritance, and Dave has been working with him for funds.

It takes a bit to get to the core of the problem and when Meg figures it out, it's almost too late.  There's hate, jealousy, a mountain lion and love all mixed into this plot.  It kept me going and the description of the area is accurate.  Meg discovers a friend is in love with her and that her father's death was not an accident.  I'm ready for the next book in this series.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Worst Witch Strikes Again by Jill Murphy

Mildred is back at school.  What's going to happen now???

Candlewick Books and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be republished on August 5th, so look for a copy then.

Mildred comes back to school and doesn't even make it through the first day without being put on probation.  Geez, Ms. H has it out for her.  The only reason she has a strange kitten as a familiar is because Ms. H forced it on her.  Everyone else has a pure black cat but not Mildred.  Hers has some white patches here and there.  And not only that, it doesn't like riding a broom...

If that's not bad enough, there's a new student there that is real tall and totally boring.  It's just Mildred's luck to get stuck showing her around and mentoring her.  Ms. H thinks it will make her behave better.  Maud gets mad because Mildred has a new friend, so she goes into the enemy camp to make her jealous.  And Enid, the new student, is nowhere near as boring as expected.

For example, she has a monkey familiar instead of a cat.  Mildred knows she'll get in trouble for that, so she goes up at lunch to quiet it down and maybe hide it before it's discovered.  Unfortunately, it scoots out of the room before she even sees it and the chase is on.  To get it back, she finds herself getting into trouble again.  Then Ms. H thinks she's the one who changed the cat (the original creature) into a monkey.

In the meantime, Ethel is still being a pain.  Mildred is the most patient young person I know and somehow that always works for her.  

This is written for younger children and it's a short fun read.  This series is also excellent for reading aloud.  I'm having fun following Mildred's school days and I'm sure young ones will, too. 

Boiled Over by Barbara Ross

Julia Snowden is spending the summer helping her family with the clambake company.  You wouldn't think that would be a dangerous job, would you?  Yet, she finds another dead body.  This time it's in the fire pit of their big clambake for Founder's Day...

Kensington Books sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It was published in May, so you can grab a copy at your local bookstore now.

The first thing the police focus on is the fact that the company's young helper took off at a run when the leg fell out of the fire.  They think he may be the murderer.  They're even more sure of it when they find out she knows nothing about him, hasn't checked his references and doesn't even know where he came from.  He's a good kid, a hard worker and does his best at his assignments.  Why ask?  The cops take the stance of "Why not?"

Since Julia is sure Cabe is innocent, she has to find a way to prove it.  What she finds out about him after the fact is scary.  He's been accused of murder before...

As she keeps digging for facts, she finds out a lot of different facts about people living in the town.  Most are those who have been there forever but there are some newcomers.  You know, folks that have been there less than 50 years.  The more she finds out, the more complex things get.  It's like wading into a spider web and finding it getting thicker as you go through.

In the meantime, Julia love interest is getting more serious.  He says he loves her; she says nothing.  She wants to go back to Manhatten, he's in love with the coast.  She tells him it's impossible.  When she goes to talk to him and tell him how she feels about him, he's gone.  His boat is no longer in the slip and she has no idea where he's gone.

I'll have to read the next book to see if she gets back together with Chris or develops a relationship with a young cop that has a crush on her.  Some women have problems deciding who they love.  Even if we don't discuss her love interest in the next book, I'm ready for her to find another dead body. She makes a good detective!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Worst Witch (Worst Witch #1) by Jill Murphy

This was a series I missed when I was younger and I'm very glad they are reissuing them.  This little witch gets in more trouble at witch school than you can imagine!

Candlewick Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published August 5th so make a note.  You just might want to pick up all six for your young reader.  They're fun!

Mildred is a nice witch, but she just can't concentrate on spells.  She keeps messing them up, has a terrible time with her broomstick and it doesn't help that her teacher picks on her.  She's also got another student who gets her in trouble regularly.  What's she to do?

She and a friend hide in a closet so they don't have to go to the Halloween festivities.  Unfortunately, the bully locks them in.  When she finds her broken broomstick in there, she thinks they are saved; they can escape out the opening in the top of the closet.  Unfortunately, she doesn't know where it leads...

When despair overtakes her and she decides to run away from school, she runs into an evil plot being discussed in the forest.  There's no time to get help, what can she do?

These books are generally 100 pages long or so and it has short chapters.  The vocabulary is beyond easy to read, but you could really have a lot of fun reading this series outloud.  Maybe your children would like to take parts and read their lines, too.

All in all, it's a fun series and I enjoyed the whole thing, give a try.  I wouldn't be as nice as Mildred, though.  Would you?

Inspector Hobbes and the Curse by Wilkie Martin

Inspector Hobbes and Mrs. Goodfellow are not exactly human.  Dregs is a dog, so he's OK.  But Andy is not quite sure about the other two.  He makes no complaints, though.  They are letting him live there and feed him excellent food.  He may have questions and concerns but he doesn't voice them.  After all, he has no place else to go...

The Witcherley Book Company and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

It seems the good inspector has a wild side himself, as well as an exceeding long life so far.  He also has some very unusual habits.  He's very good at tracking things, though.  Andy just follows along and hopes for the best.

Andy doesn't know what to believe when folks start turning up dead, looking like they have been ravaged by a wild animal.  One animal in the woods is thought to be a black panther.  Hobbes tells him there's a werewolf there, too.  I wouldn't be playing in those woods, thank you!

In the meantime, Andy is dating and getting quite attached to the new lady in town.  If only her big brother wasn't so possessive...

This is a far out fantasy full of odd characters and action.  How often do you have conversations with skeletons?  I found it entertaining because I like outlandish fantasy.  I'm still not sure what Hobbes is but he's not all human.  In his line of business, that can be an asset.

I'll be watching for their next adventure.  After all, Andy lost his woman and life must go on.  You know Inspector Hobbes will be up to the next case that arrives.

Happy reading.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Soccer on Sunday by Mary Pope Osborne

Here's Magic Tree House Book #52 in the series!  This one is about soccer.

Random House Children's Books sent me a copy of this book and its companion Fact Tracker for review (thank you).  They have been been published and you can grab a copy at your local bookstore now.

Jack and Annie are whizzing away on another adventure, this one to Mexico.  There they have tickets to go see Pele, the great Brazilian soccer player.  Of course, they manage to get lost first...

By luck, they meet up with a young man who also plays soccer and is going to the same game.  He guides them through the streets and buses until they get there.  Jack and Annie have wonderful seats.  Roberto is up in the nosebleed section.  Jack gives Roberto his ticket and heads up into the stands.  He can't see much but he's sure Roberto and Annie are having fun.  He's going to switch seats with Annie and watch the last half of the game up close, but he can't get there...

He's a bit disgruntled from that but tries not to show it.  Then they can't get to Pele.  How are they going to get the magic word if they can't talk to him? How they do it and what they do for Roberto is what makes this book a good read.

Also, don't miss the non-fiction companion to this story titled:  Soccer.  It tells you all sorts of facts about soccer, how it started, who the best players are and more.  There's even a picture of Pele for you.  

Even if you don't really like soccer, you'll enjoy reading about Jack and Annie's adventure.  This is nice addition to the series.

The Ratastrophe Catastrophe by David Lee Stone

Rats.  Nobody likes rats.  Especially not when they are large and eating everyone out of house and home.  They need to stop it, but how?

Open Road Media and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.  This is written for middle grades.

This story starts out a bit slow, but it is soon rocketing across the pages while you read about the rat eviction and the circumstances that ensue.  There's a lot of action, you're not sure all of the party trying the save the day will return in one piece, and there are a few sad parts, too.

When lightening strikes a young man who plays a flute, he suddenly is taken over by a magical being.  He soon find that his life is not his own anymore.  He also finds that the tunes he plays makes things follow him, animal and human both.  When the local kingdom hires him to get rid of the rats, it's no problem.  When it's time to pay him, there is a problem.  It seems all the kingdom has left in the treasury is coal.  Diek gets angry and the magical being takes over.  Soon Diek is leading all the children out of the kingdom to a place he's never been before.

My favorite part of the story is the rescue team.  There's the previous Mayor who is a drunk now but used to be a magician, his grandson who is a thief, Gordo the Dwarf and Groan the Barbarian, as well as unfortunate miner.  All these odds and ends join together and search for the children.  Following footprints is great but there are traps all along the way.

The ending is exciting and has lots of action.  I found it to be a good read.  I'm also interested in seeing what the next Illmore Chronicles book will be about.  An exciting shorter read is always fun.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Overending by Rick Johnson

It all begins with an escape from the castle by two fugitives.  Emil is a member of the Wood Cows family and PorNart is member of the Coyote family.  Both are tough, but PorNart is pretty up and worn at this point of the journey.  Still they have escaped.  Now to recover and move on...

Goddess Fish Blog and the author shared a copy of this book with me for review (thank you).  This is the second in this series and can be found wherever you buy ebooks.  

The Wood Cow Chronicles is very different book from the normal run-of-the-mill stories.  Mr. Johnson has created a unique world with all sorts of different animal characters, many of which have strange names.  The first book featured Helga, Emil's sister.  I'd suggest you begin with Volume 1.  I began with Volume 2 and it took a bit to pick up all pieces and get going with the story.

This story moves well.  There is danger everywhere.  The woods aren't safe, people are being turned into slaves, the king is evil, and everyone in the kingdom is threatened.  However, there are folks helping save the slaves.

During the course of this story, more people are drawn into the "free the slaves" movement and the king's power begins to lose strength.  The counter movement has begun and it will continue to work against the king in the next volume of this story.

What especially tickled me about this story were the characters.  There all all types of animals, all kinds of skills and bits of special knowledge from each them depending on how they spent their lives and where they lived.  It gives you hope that they will succeed in their quest.  We'll have to read the next volume to find out...

Rick will be awarding a $50 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

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

Best of luck to you!

Long Road to the Circus by Betsy Bird, David Small (Illustrated by)

Suzy is tired of boring summers.  Then she finds out there is a retired circus performer living in her area.  She also finds that her Uncle ...