Thursday, April 30, 2015

Firebolt (The Dragonian Series #1) by Adrienne Woods

Elana Watkins is real tired of moving.  Every three months, her dad uproots up them and they move to another location.  He won't explain what he's running from, where her mother is, or why they need to keep moving.  All of a sudden, it's too late to explain... and the author allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Elana gets the shock of her life when the fairy tales her father told her growing up suddenly come true.  They are being attacked by dragons!  What's worse is that her father is a dragon, too.

When Elana wakes up, she's in another world.  She's been rescued by her father's friends and is on the other side of the wall in Paegeia, the dragon's world.  At first, she doesn't realize it.  Everyone is in human form and they are helping her heal.  They seem kind enough but finding out her father is dead is awful.  The worst part is she can't go home.  Once she's come into the dragon's world, she can't go back.  She knows no one (although that isn't much different than being on the run all the time) and she's not sure what is going to happen to her.  They are sending her to Dragonia Academy, which is an elite school for students who hope to tame their own dragons and become their masters or mates.

There's one little flaw with that.  Elana's father was a dragon and she has a mark so she's not like the others.  She can't become what they are studying to be.  So what is her calling in life?  She finds out sooner than she would like...

This was an entertaining read with lots of dragon lore, dark magic, and more with lots of bullying and crushes and usual school antics to go with it.  I enjoyed it.  There are more in this series and I'll be watching for those, too.  If you like dragons, I'm sure you'll like this book.

Catch Me Book 6 of The Demon Underground Novels by Parker Blue

I love this series.  Vampires with magic like mind control, a succubus and incubus here and there, Val as a vampire slayer and more, these stories are always entertaining and busy.

Bell Bridge Books and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you).  It is being published today, so you can grab a copy now.

Everything goes to hell when the leader of the "good" vampires goes missing.  No one knows where or how he disappeared but they are all willing to work on getting him back.  Some more so than others.  The longer he's missing, the more one of the lieutenants is pushing to take over the group. Luis is willing to let him stay gone.

Austin, on the other hand, is going to find him and he asks Val to help him.  They've been trying to date but it seems each date gets interrupted by rogue vampires.  It's hard to be a vampire slayer and trying to get a night off.  This is an opportunity for Val to actually spend some time with him, so she says yes.  She also wants to save the leader but Austin is more important to her.

There are traitors, vampire attacks, demons to contend with and more.  Things take a shift in the story and I can tell the author is setting up for more in the series.  That's good, these are enjoyable read.  They're not that long, they're exciting and interesting and I find this world fascinating.

I have to admit, though, that my favorite "character" is Fang, the hellhound.  If you have one of those on your side, you can do almost anything.  I want one.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dark Screams: Volume Two by Robert R. McCammon, Richard Matheson

This anthology is creepy.  They are a mix of horror and fantasy and I'd be more comfortable with them if I hadn't had some funny feelings about someone or something watching me once in a while.  Have you ever felt that?

Hydra 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.

Here is what you find inside this book:

THE DEEP END by Robert McCammon
Everyone thinks the drowning death of Neil Calder in the local swimming pool was a tragic accident. Only his father knows better. Now, on the last night of summer, Neil returns in search of revenge.

INTERVAL by Norman Prentiss
Flight 1137 from St. Louis by way of Nashville has gone missing. As anxious friends and family gather around the gate, a ticket clerk finds herself eyewitness to a moment of inhuman evil.

IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK by Shawntelle Madison
Eleanor has come from New York City to prep an old Victorian house in Maine for America's Mysterious Hotspots. Although she's always thrown herself into her work, this job will take her places she's never dreamed of going.

THE NIGHT HIDER by Graham Masterton
C. S. Lewis wrote about a portal that led to a world of magic and enchantment. But the wardrobe in Dawn's room holds only death—until she solves its grisly mystery. 

WHATEVER by Richard Christian Matheson
A 1970s rock 'n' roll band that never was—in a world that is clearly our own . . . but perhaps isn't, not anymore . . . or, at least, not yet—takes one hell of a trip.

I'm familiar with Mr. McCammon's work and knew he'd scare me.  He did.

Mr. Prentiss' story reminded me of the times I've been waiting at the airport and with all the planes going down currently, it seemed very timely.

But the one that bothered me the most was the Night Hider.  C.S. Lewis gets involved and this story doesn't have a happy ending for everyone.

All in all, it was interesting collection and if you have any interest in horror, there has to be a story in here for you.  I'm already looking forward to reading the next collection.

Shadow Show: Stories In Celebration of Ray Bradbury by Joe Hill, and others

I've always admired Ray Bradbury's stories.  He had a way of making chills run up and down my spine.  In many cases, his stories disturbed me because they were a little too close to the truth.

Diamond Book Distributors and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 7th, so make a note to pick it up then.

This is done as a graphic novel which is very fitting.  You have the opportunity to see what other writers thought of his work.  They have written stories based on his titles and concepts but with their own interpretation of how it ends.  The stories are based on "By The Silver Water of Lake Champlain," "The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury," "Backward in Seville," "Weariness," "Live Forever!," "Who Knocks?," "Earth (A Gift Shop)," "Altenmoor, Where the Dogs Dance," and "Conjure." 

All the stories are good, some are confusing and most still leave you wondering, just like Bradbury did.  My favorites are "Where the Dogs Dance" and "Conjure".   Neil Gaiman's story has a hook at the end that makes you wonder just what he meant by that.  You can be sure he did that on purpose.

Grab a copy of the book, sit in your favorite reading spot, and get ready to enjoy the graphics and the text that goes with it.  It makes for a very pleasant afternoon of reading.  I prefer to read these kind of stories during the day but you might feel different about it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Omega City by Diana Peterfreund

What would you do if everyone else discredited your father's work?  Would you support him, doubt him, or leave him?  Their mother left them.  Gillian still supports him, but Eric is doubtful.  Gillian wants to prove him right.  However, that's dangerous.  Her dad has a good reason to be paranoid...

Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published today, so you can grab a copy at your local bookstore now.

Gillian is a determined girl who is trying to protect her dad.  She thinks his new girlfriend has plans to snoop in his work and get information she doesn't have.  He thinks she wants to be his research assistant.  Eric is ambivalent about it.  As long as he can play his video games, he's happy.

This author has created quite the adventure here.  It's a mix of sci-fi/fantasy that reads a bit like a Jules Verne novel.  I like it.  There's a big corporation, a missing scientist, and a hidden city involved, along with several other characters.

When Gillian discovers her dad's girlfriend is copying pages of information from him, she starts trying to make sense out of them.  The scientist didn't write things in black and white.  He used his own references and made vague notes.  Good thing they have boy in class that's into science.  Bad thing is he gets going on tangents.

Every character has his or her challenges in this story.  It's good adventure story that has potential for another.  Somehow, I think our scientist might be back.  Or maybe Gillian is going to go find him.  What ever Ms. Peterfreund writes, it will be fun to read.

Ferals by Jacob Grey

When he was five, his parents shoved him out the upstairs window.  He thought he was going to die, but a murder of crows showed up and transported him to the woods.  Why would they do that?  Would his parents ever look for him so they could be reunited again?

HarperCollins and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It is being published today, so check your local bookstore for a copy now.

The boy goes by the name Caw and he and the crows can talk to each other.  He's not very good with humans, though.  He lives in a forgotten area of the park and scrounges food like other homeless people.  Mostly he keeps to himself.  But he's lonely.

I could empathize with Caw.  He feels he's been rejected by his parents and he's been adopted by crows.  Normal people don't grow up with crows.  What he doesn't realize is that he's not normal...

This is a fast paced story that travels between this world and the world of the dead.  The best thing Caw ever did was become friends with Lydia.  She accepts him as he is, refuses to stay away from him despite her father's commands, and she aids in his quest to kill a feral monster.

I was fascinated with the details of the story and the storyline.  Imagination runs high in this tale and I like that in my stories.  I also liked how it ended, even if the sight of a white spider means the story isn't done yet.  I'd read more in this series, it's good!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Return to Augie Hobble by Lane Smith

I didn't expect what I got in this book.  I was expecting a fairly tame tale but it has werewolves, ghosts, and an amusement park involved.  It was an unusual, intriguing and interesting read.

Roaring Book Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published May 5th, so you don't have to wait long to get your hands on a copy.

Augie has failed his creative project.  He has to do a make up project and he's having troubles with ideas.  When strange things start happening all around him, his teacher just thinks his imagination is getting out of hand.  No, that's not what's getting out of hand!

It all starts when his buddy, Britt, goes on vacation.  He has an unpleasant encounter with a werewolf.  He thinks it's the Big Bad Wolf from the amusement park for a while, but when the guy is clueless, he decides it couldn't have been him.  Then he worries that he might turn into one because he got slobber on him (I kid you not).

The strange folks at the amusement park listen to him and offer advice but he's got more problems than they can solve.

This whole thing is bit of a parody about life.  I just kept reading to see what was going to happen next.  There are parts that will make you laugh, parts that will make you sad, and parts that will make you want to read the next book.  I can't believe the author will leave you without sharing more of Augie's antics with you.  I sure would; there's a lot of potential here for more adventures.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Novice by Taran Matharu

Fletcher is a blacksmith apprentice.  He enjoys his life other then the insufferable bully that pesters him all the time.  When he befriends an old soldier at the market, he finds the man has left a book that used to belong to a battlemage.  He's even more surprised when he intones the the words written on a human like skin and summons a small demon!

Feiwel & Friends and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published May 5th, so check with your local bookstore then.

While Fletcher was experimenting with the chant, his enemy has tracked him down.  He has two guards with them and he intends to kill Fletcher.  Fletcher's demon takes offense at that and creates a big enough diversion that Fletcher can escape.

Fletcher has to run.  He doesn't know where he's going but he can't stay in the village anymore.  It's just as well that he goes since there's evil plans afoot that no one knows about except the perpetrators.  He gets in a bit of trouble in the next town because he shows the silver he carries.  The man who saves him tells him to go the Adept Military Academy.  He assumes he should be there because he has his own demon.

This is where Fletcher's life gets real interesting.  The Royals have airs and won't even be nice to the commoners.  There's a dwarf no one likes and an elf that is liked even less.  Fletcher doesn't get it and manages to become friends with both.  

The mix of magic, demons, orcs, elves, dwarves and humans really appeals to me.  I like to watch their interaction and how they can work together if they need to.  The orcs are everybody's enemy.  However, folks should be watching those Royals, too.

The story keeps escalating in excitement the further it goes.  The worst part is the ending; it's a cliff hanger.  I just hate those.  Close the door and say more to come in the next volume but don't have a disaster at the end and leave us hanging for a year.  I want more now!

Why don't you read it and tell me if you liked the ending?  I know we're all different.  That's what sells books.  I will be watching for the next one in this series.  Fletcher has a lot more potential in him.

Maritcha A Nineteenth-Century American Girl by Tonya Bolden

Maritcha is a young black girl growing up in New York in the mid-1800's.  She's a free black but she still sees segregation.  This story was created from her own writings and family photos.

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

I really like how Ms. Bolden put this story together.  She not only records the events of the time and how they influenced Maritchas' life, she includes photos of her family, the town, the buildings, and more.  The area where she grew up has turned into Manhattan.  New York itself is truly a mixing bowl of cultures and people.  Free Negros were not an unusual thing there.

Her family ran a boarding house for sailors.  I was surprised to find that the black men became sailors for their livelihood.  I don't have much knowledge about this time period or New York history but somehow I had visions of black sailors that were more like slaves.  I was wrong.

I liked the fact that her family helped the Underground Railroad get slaves to Canada, where they could be free.  I was sorry to see how the tumult of the era burnt their home and they had to find temporary housing in another area.  They were determined, though.  They returned.

Maritcha had a burning desire for learning.  She had to appeal her case to get into high school.  She spent her whole life being strong and willing to work hard to get what she wanted.  You still have to do that if you want to achieve your goals in life.  If Maritcha could do it, you can too.  Just read about her trials and keep pushing on.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Petlandia by Peter Hannan

This is a cute silly story that will make you laugh.  I had to read it because the cat wants to be the "Queen" of Petlandia...

Scholastic and Edelweiss let me read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 28th, so you can grab a copy at your local bookstore shortly.

The cat was quite happy in the household until they brought the dog home.  Then they spent their whole time with the dog.  The ultimate sin was that they petted the dog's belly and he loved it.  Nobody petted her belly!

She decides it's time for mutiny.  She gets the dog to help by telling him that belly pets are being banned.  They drag the humans outside on their mattresses and lock them out.  Then they vote on who will run Petlandia.  Unfortunately, the dog wins the election.  Then it starts to resemble a poker game.

The cat finds other animals in the household to make her vote count higher.  She gets the rats and the bats to vote for her.  In desperation, the dog gets his fleas to vote.  It gets more ridiculous as you go along.

It's silly enough to make young ones laugh but it's also a fun story to read.  Maybe your child can come up with some other ideas about who might vote in this "democracy".  I hate to say it, but it does sometimes remind me of presidential elections.  You read it and tell me what you think about it.

Pluto's Secret by Margaret A Weithkamp with David DeVorkin

Pluto hid way out at the edge of the planets evading attention for years.  Scientists were very excited when it was finally identified and named Pluto.  But Pluto had a secret...

Abram's Books for Young Reader's sent me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  It has been published.  The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum helped with the facts.

This is a well illustrated educational tale of a new planet that eventually was declared an imposter.  It's an icy world, but it's not another planet.

When they decided Pluto was no longer a planet, there was a front page story about it in our paper.  Mr. Tombaugh's wife lived here and she was very upset they were taking his discovery away from him.  I'm afraid Pluto will always be a planet to me even if he's been demoted.  He's still there, isn't he?

Here's a chance to learn about a piece of history.  If you have the chance, visit an observatory.  They're amazing and great fun.  The one I visited was in Goldendale Washington and here's what the website says about it: " Goldendale Observatory is a 5-acre educational facility and certified Dark Sky Park on a 2,100-foot elevation hilltop 2 miles north of downtown Goldendale. The park features one of the nation's largest public telescopes and has attracted tens of thousands of sky-watchers since its dedication in 1973. The park offers spectacular views of the countryside from atop the observatory hill in the daytime, and magnificent views of the universe at night."

We saw the sun, then the moon, and then the stars.  We might have even seen Pluto.  It's amazing what is out there in the sky!  Let this book spark your child's interest in astronomy.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Woof by Spencer Quinn

When Grammy took Birdie to the pound to pick out a dog, she had no idea she'd pick this big dog that looked like you could never feed it enough to make it happy.  But she decided to let Birdie have her pick.  Birdie names her dog Bowser.  And there you have it:  A new team of Birdie and Bowser will help solve the mystery of the missing marlin...

Scholastic Press and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be on sale April 28th, so you can grab a copy this week.

I like animals in stories and Bowser is a perfect mutt.  He's smart enough to listen to Birdie and follow her commands, but he can get sidetracked easily.  You know, like by food or interesting smells, or noises, or just about anything else.  Birdie loves him and pets him and he loves her back.

Someone stole the marlin from Grammy's baitshop.  It'd been there for years.  There were rumors there was a treasure map behind it's eyes.  Grammy said that was bunk, but someone must have believed it.

The theft of the fish ties back to a theft during WWI, and all the people involved have passed on.  But someone still believes the tale. Birdie gets into trouble trying to solve the case.  Bowser has to save her from kidnapping.  And the final conflict in bayou is very scary indeed.

This was a good read.  I enjoy this team even if their antics make you smile.  They may be a bit of a bumbling detective team, but they get the job done.  I hope to read more about them in the future. 

Me, Frida by Amy Novesky, David Díaz (Illustrator)

Frida was a young married woman when she moved to the states.  They came here so her husband's artwork had a better chance of sales.  She can't speak English, knows no one and is pretty lonely.  This leads her to trying her hand at painting.

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

I knew of this woman's artwork but I didn't realize her husband was an artist, too.  This is a good way to introduce your child to original artwork that has a Mexican influence in it.  Frida's work was mostly self-portraits.  She has over 100 painting and they all seem to feature her in some way.  Her first work was a portrait of her and husband.  She uses vivid colors and a bold style in her work.  My favorite painting is a very tame one that she probably didn't care much about:
I could be wrong; this could be a favorite.  Looking at her other paintings, though, makes me doubt it.  She appears to be very self-centered for the most part.  David Diaz represents her well in his illustrations, using the same colors and style as she did in the majority of her paintings.

She's part of a unusual art history and an interesting person in general.  Why not introduce your child to this Mexican painter?  Her paintings will make you think.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Rhymoceros by Janik Coat

I missed this author's first book but now that I've seen this one, I'll be watching for more!

Abramsappleseed 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 board book that is really fun to read.  It's full of rhinos, has rhyming words, and even has novelty features to make it more interesting.  There are textures, colors, and bumps you can feel.  That makes it a real hands-on book and makes you keep turning the pages.

Your young one should enjoy learning about all these rhyming words and I bet they'll start finding some of their own after being introduced to it.  Who knows, this rhyming talent might help you grow a poet.

This would make a great read-a-loud book with a small group of children.  They could take turns touching the textures and saying the words.  Why not add it your children's books?

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

They burned down her home and hung her father.  When she found out they were the Rose gang, she vowed to bring them all down.  They took her father's life and she was going to take theirs...

HMH Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 1st.  It's meant for ages 9 and above, but don't let them read it if mean circumstances and death will disturb them.  There's plenty in this book about the old west.  Times were mean in general then.

When Kate sets out, she knows where she has to go first.  Her father drilled it into her that she had to go Abe's place if anything happened to her.  She goes, only to find out that Abe died a year ago.  His two boys are there, though.  She only stays long enough to read the note her father left for her, then she sneaks out and takes off on her search.  She never expected the two boys to be right behind.  Jesse is determined to take care of just like his father was supposed to.

She has an idea of where they are going as soon as she finds out they took her father's journal.  The journal showed a route to gold and they intended to cash in on it.  She and her friends try to waylay the Rose gang and force their hand in a tavern, but that backfires.

This is a long road for vengeance.  Jesse and Kate are both burdened with the guilt of lost parents.  Jesse's brother Will notices they are getting fond of each other and he warns Kate off.  Kate doesn't even know if she can love anyone after what happened.  And much more will happen before the story ends.

Nobody is nice in this story.  The Apache girl she saved from the tavern fire is nicer than the white folk even if her people could be vicious trying to protect their land.  Kate is tough and determined.  She's going to stand up for what she believes in and she knows how to shoot.  The ending is a kicker.  It was totally unexpected and threw me for a loop.  It's also really ironic and I liked it.  It's not pleasant but it's appropriate.

This western could be read by adults, too.  It's a western written in the style of the old classics.  You don't last long in the old west unless you were tough.  Kate was tough.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

Sara Thomas is in between jobs.  She can't handle a lot of noise or a lot of people around her.  She prefers to work alone.  When she's offered a job her cousin has found, her first question is where she will work.  But as soon as she sees the cipher she has to break, she's hooked.  She enjoys being an amateur codebreaker.

Sourcebooks Landmark sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It is being published this month, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

What Sara is asked to do is translate diary pages.  Mary Dundas is a Jacobite exile that has lost her family, her home, and her feeling of worth.  When her brother says he is coming to take her home with him, she's elated.  She will finally meet his family and be at home with one of her family members.  But they don't even make it to his home.  He takes her to another house and offers her services as camouflage for a Jacobite supporter.  Once again, Mary is disappointed in her family.

The further she goes in the diary, the more Sarah realizes this is not just an idle journal with a commoner.  It's the story of a young woman drawn up into affairs she has no experience with and danger she can't even see.  It might have been about three hundred years ago, but she finds herself worrying about Mary.

In the meanwhile, Sara is finding Luc much too interesting.  He's the ex-husband of the cook and they have a child together.  She enjoys the whole family.  And Luc is always there for her.  But he doesn't know about her problem and she has had no successes with relationships yet.

While Sara is trying to decide what to do with Luc, Mary finds herself falling for her Highland protector.  He's damaged from war, but she thinks broken things can be mended.

I thoroughly enjoyed both women's stories.  The historical reference was interesting, Mary was very brave, and Sara is learning to live with her problem.  This was a lengthy read but it was worth it.  I like happily ever after.

A Possum's Tail by Gabby Dawnay, Alex Barrow (Illustrations)

Sam and his toy dog go for a walk.  They walk all the way to the zoo to visit the animals, but they don't come home alone...

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

Sam especially likes visiting the possums but he doesn't notice that they have attached themselves to his dog's tail and are following him home.

Mr. Barrow's illustrations add to Ms. Dawnay's story.  He shows the route to the zoo and children will be charmed by the walk back.  Everyone stares, falls down and one lady faints.  Just watching the circuitous route Sam takes is fun.

Even more fun is how the possums get back home.  I can see a child reading this one over and over just because it's so cute and fun to read.  Take a look at it.  I bet you take it home.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Mourning Bells by Christine Trent

This is another in the "A Lady of Ashes Mystery" series.  In this story, Violet is riding the train with the dead.  They are going to cemetery outside the London area, where there is more room for burial.  She's totally shocked when a coffin bell gets rung.  It's even more astounding when the man inside bolts off and won't talk to anyone.  Who was he and how did he end up in a coffin if he was not dead?

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

Violet has nothing to take to the police.  So a man who was previously thought dead returns to life.  How is that a crime?  She's not content though.  And when it happens the second time, she can't stand by and let it go. She starts questioning people.  The more questions she asks, the more confusing it gets.  She's getting threats on all sides.  Her daughter even gets assaulted and she knows it's because she was wearing one of Violet's outfits.

I wasn't aware they had coffins with a bell on top that they tied the string for ringing it on the dead person's hand.  If they resuscitated, they could ring the bell.  They also made one that had a piece of glass in it so you could see the face and ensure they were dead.  It all sounds pretty macabre to me, but they did nothing to preserve the body in that day.  If you were comatose, you might not wake up until later.  However, the bodies Violet saw appeared were not a recovery from that.  It was almost like they'd been drugged.

The Inspector is no real help.  He wouldn't pay much attention to her at all but she has a friend that he wants to date so he has to pretend to listen.  Then his supervisor reminds him that she is a friend of the Queen and he suddenly gets more sincere about the case.

Violet has several suspects.  When she finally figures out just what was going on, she almost dies by bracing the killer with no backup.  She's a bit flighty that way.  

I learned more about undertakers in the Victorian era, about coffins with safety devices, and about a financial change in the day.  All that plus a bit of murder made the story interesting.  I also find Violet and her family to be delightful characters.  I'd read more in this series.  Why don't you give it a try?

Anyone but Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp, Barbara Cantini (Illustrated by)

Ivy Pocket reminds me in some ways of Amelia Bedelia; she tends to take things literally.  But she has one trait that Amelia doesn't:  She lies like a rug.  You can ask her the same question five times and each time she answers it will be a different story.

Greenwillow Books and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It's being published today, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Ivy sees herself differently than other people do.  She thinks she's charming, of great help to everyone and very efficient at what she does.  After she's been on the job about five minutes, they are already trying to figure out how to get rid of her.  She's a walking disaster who means well.

One thing Ivy is that doesn't help her is she trusts everyone.  She thinks they must be what they appear to be and mean what they say.  When the Duchess offers to pay her to deliver a necklace for a child's birthday, she's happy to.  When the Duchess talks about how the grandmother was a dear friend of hers and she wants this special gift given to the granddaughter at her birthday celebration Ivy thinks it's sweet.  Then she trusts the woman she ran into on the ship.  Ivy may be twelve, but she's not very smart.  She even put on the diamond necklace which she shouldn't have.

This is part adventure, part fantasy, and quite entertaining.  Ivy doesn't know who she is (she was an orphan), she has no real friends, and the diamond necklace is deadly.  I'm sure there will be more in this series.  I don't think Ivy is through with her adventures yet.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hubert Shrubb takes charge: Save Our Miss Lamb by Sue Graves

Hubert goes to a private school and receives the best education there is to offer.  However, when his parent's financial condition changes dramatically almost overnight, he's ejected from the school.  While he waits for his parent's big car, he notices Nanny walking up.  The car is no more either...

Publishing Push, Farthing Drove Publishing and the author allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can find a copy on Amazon.

Hubert has no desire to go the public school but he's outgrown what Nanny could teach him.  When he arrives and opens his mouth, he finds out he talks "posh" and is not like the other students.  They tease him, tell him to shut up and ignore him.  The only good thing is that his teacher is much, much nicer than the one he had at the private school.  So when he finds out she's going to lose her job due to lack of funding, he wants to do something about it.

Hubert has to work on trying to get the other kids of his class behind the idea.  The principal isn't any better; he'd rather build models.  And the head of the educational unit won't even talk to them.  The others are discouraged, but Hubert's just ready to move on to the next idea.

I thought I'd enjoy Sir Kevin's story the most, but Hubert won me over.  He's a typical smart kid that has come from rich family and has to adjust to those who have less.  He does.  And when he could go back to the private school, he declines.  I think Hubert is going to go far in the world.

This book is also written for young readers and I bet they find some of the characters in this story resemble some of the students in their own schools.  Why not let them read it and see?

Sir Kevin and the Challenges by Sue Graves, Kim Blundell (Illustrations)

Sir Kevin is a knight.  Just because his teacher moved him on to save his body from more bad sword injuries is a moot point.  He's a knight and he wants a new job.  He thinks he's found the perfect one:  the King's Champion Knight.

Publishing Push, Farthing Dove Press and the author kindly sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  You can find a copy on Amazon now.

While Sir Kevin is not the best knight, he's willing to go second and take all the challenges.  He bargains his survival on the challenges so he's smarter than he looks.  The only problem is the other knight is better.  When they both finish the quest, it's up to the King to determine the final test.  He has no ideas, so he decides to take a bath.

The final quest is silly but it's believable.  Sir Kevin makes you smile.  This written for younger readers and I think they'll like the mellow story.  Most of these characters could use a little sympathy.  If you have an adventurer in your life, this is a good read for them.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Last Book Ever Written by Jonah Kruvant

Victor Vale is a policeman in times of unrest and almost insanity.  The year is 2070 and everyone is connected to the virtual world by a chip.  You can look anything up, watch anything you wish, even become someone else through this computer interface.  You can also lose your free will and no longer have any of your own ideas because they are not only making your life better, they're programming you with propaganda.

Marian Brown PR + Brooklyn Social Media sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It will be published by PanAm Books on April 28th.  This is an unusual read.  It speaks of dystopian future that sounds altogether too real.

Nowadays everyone wants to be connected all the time.  They wear earplugs for their cell phones.  Have smart phones or tablet so they can instantly answer messages.  Now it's coming out in watch form.  Soon it will just be part of your skin...

Victor has a wife, a son, a nice home, and a good job.  So why isn't he happy?  He finds himself walking through the slums on the way to work.  He doesn't have to.  But he worries about the people who have lost their jobs to automation and are homeless without food or water.  However, he can't help just one; the others will attack him.

When his supervisor shoots a man who has been begging Victor for some water, something inside Victor cracks.  The beggar had a brother.  Victor used to have a brother, too.

It's hard to fight Big Brother.  Victor is supposed to go in undercover and infiltrate the resistance.  To do so, he has to use his creative side.  Being creative is illegal.  Trying to learn how after years of ignoring it is hard to do.  It gets worse when he finds he sides with the resistance.

This is not a real pleasant read, but it sure makes me think of where we might be going in the future.  Look how connected we are now.  I'm not one of those people who lives that way but I see them everyday.  I couldn't live without books or art or other creative talents.  I'd probably be on the side of the resistance, too.

I'm Gonna Climb a Mountain in my Patent Leather Shoes by Marilyn Singer

She's going camping.  She's also going in all her finery.  No one said you had to sacrifice style just to camp.

Abrams Books for Young Readers sent me a copy of this book for review.  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Lynne Avril has given this girl fiery ginger hair that's all curly and Ms. Singer has made her a real girlie girl.  The fun part is that she doesn't let anything slow her down.  She climbs the mountain in her patent leather shoes, wears clothes with sparklies and cute jammies and she lets nothing bother her. She even searches for Bigfoot, swims, and crawls through a cave.  Good thing she brought a good supply of clothes!

This is a cute picture book with an irrepressible character with her own stylish tastes.  I didn't have as nice clothes as she did, but I did go camping when I was young and did the things she did.  Have you and your little one done that yet?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Black Run (Rocco Schiavone #1) by Antonio Manzini

Rocco does not like living in the mountains.  He'd rather be in Rome where there's lot of action and lots of people about.  The village he lives in has a population around 400 and they all related to each other.  So when one of them gets killed, he knows it's going to be hard to get the truth from anyone...

Harper Books sent me an ARC of this book to read for review (thank you).  It will be published this month, so you can check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Rocco is not easy to like.  He's moody, a bit mean, has lost his wife but has a girlfriend, and is willing to do a few things on the side to enhance his income.  He came here because of how he acted in Rome, but he's unwilling to talk about that.  He has few friends.  He thinks half his cop help is totally stupid.  He's just not a nice man.  But he's very good at solving crimes.

He gets called out to a snow run to see a body.  The man has been run over by a snow cat because he was buried in the snow and the driver didn't see him.  There's not much left of him.

As Rocco digs into the past and listens to the nuances of the present he finds a strange tale about a beautiful woman.  She's left the ex boyfriend behind, been married a few years now and is pregnant.  He suspects the man's brother or the ex boyfriend, and he investigates them.  He also gets the mail for the dead man delivered to him.  With threats and fists, he gets what he wants, even if it is unorthodox.

He knows he's found a clue when he opens a piece of mail that talks about the dead man's sperm count.  When he gets it explained to him, it opens a new door of investigation.

Despite being a bit mean, angry and depressed, he obviously has some good bones in his body.  When they are attempting to steal some marijuana and take a bit for themselves to sell, they find a container full of refugees.  He keeps them safe and warm and he helps transport them to their rendezvous site.  Mr. Manzini has made a deep character that fascinates me.  I never know if he's going to be good or bad...

In My Heart A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek

Many young children aren't good at expressing their feelings.  You can tell by their reactions what they are thinking but they don't verbalize it.  This is a good way to talk about how they feel.

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

Christine Roussey did the illustrations for this book and it's die cut.  You can see through the hearts to the back of the book and each different color equals a different emotion.  The emotions can be big or small.  The illustrations are bright, and it's a fun read.

You can even use this as a vehicle to ask them when they feel that way.  What makes them feel bad or sad or mad?   What makes them happy?

The book is pretty and a joy to read.  Check it out; I bet you take home a copy.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions (Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions #1) by Sheila Grau, Joe Sutphin

Mr. Sutphin's illustrations on the cover made me want this book.  Ms. Grau's story about minions was another draw for me.  I love reading good fantasy.

Abrams Books shared this ARC with me so I could review it (thank you).  It's written for ages 8-12 and it has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Runt Higgins is a werewolf.  He hasn't morphed lately but the Cook tells him he needs to mature a bit more before that will happen again.  He's been at this school for a few years and he's hoping to become a junior henchman this year.  He's off to a good start.  He manages to control the Zombies so they don't get out of hand.  It doesn't last though.

There are too many students for the junior henchman class, so they have a competition to see who gets to take it.  Poor Runt has the worst luck.  He spends most of his time rescuing someone else, keeping the school from blowing up and other necessities.  In turn, he fails all the manufactured tests and gets disqualified.

There's sabotage going on at school, something is wrong with Dr. Critchlore, and the new student is acting weird.  Even the security chief is acting strange.  And the only one who seems to care is Runt.

This is a busy story with all kinds of adventures.  When Frank 25 gets upset, his head comes off.  The imps are annoying and love to trick you.  Pismo makes Runt look bad (not that he needs help).  He has to dance with an ogre (wait until you see that illustration) and then he discovers the truth about himself.  He also finds out that he's loved despite the curse on him.

I enjoyed Runt as a character and the creative story Ms. Grau has written.  Young ones should just eat this book up.  Why not get them a copy?

Petronella and the Janjilons by Cheryl Bentley

Get your imagination revved up and settle back to read about Petronella's new adventure.  This one is even more outrageous than the first!

Sparkling Books Ltd and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It's been published, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

Petronella's young friend, Simon, tells her that young boys are missing from the village.  They are sent away to a school, parents aren't allowed to visit, and nobody hears from them again.  When his very best friend goes missing without telling him a thing, he wants her to help him find them.

The Judge wants to be the next duke, and he doesn't care how he gets there.  He just wants to find the shield and become the duke.  He's the one giving them the school opportunities.

When Petronella starts to interview parents, she finds they know no more than she does.  She then goes to the home of the last missing student to find the parents don't even live there anymore; they've moved away.  While she talks to the current owner, Simon goes out in the back yard.  She can't find him anywhere when it's time to leave.  What happened to Simon?

There are three witches, a hidden school, Janilions, and a lot of evil in this story.  You'll meet characters that will surprise you and the ending is great.

Ms. Bentley does not write boring books.  I can see a young one reading this book more than once.  Maybe they can even write a story of their own...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

You Can Trust Me by Sophie McKenzie

Livy and her daughter go to Julia's apartment for a Sunday afternoon visit.  When she finds Julia dead on the couch from an overdose, she's shocked.  She's even more shocked when they decide it's suicide.  Julia would NOT have committed suicide.  Everyone else disagrees...

St Martin's Press sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It was just published, so you can grab a copy now.

Livy is having a hard time dealing with Julia's death.  She's also having a hard time going to party hosted by her husband's boss where a work acquaintance of Will's will be.  Will had an affair with her years ago and they almost broke up then.  She doesn't even want to see her, but there's no choice.  What's worse is that she still has eyes for Will.  They don't stay long after her arrival because his boss wants him to travel to Geneva for work negotiations.

Will goes but Catrina shows up there, too.  She's ready to resume their affair.  Leo (the boss) has his wife tell Livy he saw Will leaving her room early the next morning.  Livy doesn't want to believe it but can she ignore it?  It happened once...

Things get worse when she finds out that Julia was searching for her sister's killer from so many years ago.  Did what Julia found out kill her?

There are a lot of questions in Livy's mind and she's having real trouble deciding who to trust.  She eventually gets to the "don't trust anyone" mode.  That's actually the safest place for her to be.

This a climatic drama with the killer unveiled at the end.  I had no clue who the murderer was even if Ms. McKenzie treated us to some of his thoughts.  It's amazing how normal people can look and act and how insane they can be at the same time.  Let me know if you're not surprised by the ending.

Murder Tightly Knit by Vannetta Chapman

He's walking down the path to the village and looking forward to talking to Mary on the way.  When Owen notices another person on the path, he's relieved to see it's someone he knows.  At least he was until the person killed him...

Zondervan and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published so you can get a copy at your local bookstore now.

This is an Amish story, which I always enjoy reading.  They are living like my grandparents did long ago and only have a few concessions to make life easier.  

The cop is looking for suspects in the village until he finds out there is a survivalist group gathering members in the community.  Then he checks both groups for suspects.  The survivalist group gets the Feds involved and the women in the community find the one sent cold in manner and suspicious.  He's stiff and formal and not at all nice.

Hannah is dating Jesse but she's also helping Amber look for the murderer.  They want to take the pressure off the village.  Jesse has his own problems.  His brother has come home again.  He comes and goes and Jesse has been forced to take over his workload.  It also bothers him that Andrew comes home and everyone fawns over him.  They have no idea if he will stay or go again.  Why get that excited over him?

When the cops come and arrest Andrew, Jesse knows his brother would never kill anyone.  Soon he's trying to find out who killed Owen and is starting to change his mind about his brother.  A crisis will do that to you.

Someone in the Amish village is living a duplicitous life.  The murderer is trying to hide it, but you can't hide a secret forever.

While this is an Amish tale, it's not slow reading and there's plenty of action.  The ending made me gasp.  I enjoy Ms. Chapman's books and will be watching for another.

The Golden Quest by David Delisle

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