Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Release Day Blitz: Trigger by Jill Meengs

Trigger by Jill Meengs
Published by Booktrope
January 27, 2015
Genre: Spy Thriller
Jordan Shaw knows the only way to stop the man hunting her is to kill him. She also knows the other men who came after her are dead, some of their blood is on her hands, and she wouldn’t have survived this long without the help of the intriguing and secretive Chase Hudson. Even though she isn’t sure she can trust Chase, she believes she needs him to discover the truth. Two days before, life was pretty good as she backpacked around Europe with her best friend. Now, everything has changed and she may not even live through the night. What started as a summer trip of self-discovery has become a dangerous journey across three countries as Jordan is forced into a world few know exist and even fewer survive. A clandestine international organization that will let nothing stand in their way has put a price on her head. Despite all the uncertainty, there are two things that she is absolutely sure of; she has one chance to out-maneuver a world class killer, and she has to make that move right now.
jill meengs

About the Author

Jill Postlewait Meengs grew up in a small town on the Oregon Coast. During and after college she spent extended periods of time backpacking in more than 30 countries. She has been to every location she describes in “Trigger” and some of the content is based on her own experiences while traveling. She met her husband, Chad, in the MBA program at Oregon State University. After getting married, they purchased and fully remodeled a house. It was Chad who encouraged, and then bribed her to write her first book, “Trigger.” He says that he very much enjoys watching the flat-screen he purchased as part of their deal. When Jill isn’t reading or writing, she is running, doing yoga or planning her next trip. Jill and Chad live in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Student Saturday: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Student Reviewer: Elizabeth B.
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

The Scorch Trials is book #2 in the Maze Runner Series. By the beginning of this book I learned why it had this title. After the maze test in book 1, Thomas and his friends thought they were done. A group called WICKED, funny, right? Was putting them through all of these tests. The Scorch Trials was another one of them I think this might have been the book – which out of every book that I’ve read, (which is a lot), that I definitely felt most connected/drawn/intimidated by. It was kind of funny – when Thomas was upset, so was I. I’m serious. In real life. No joke. When he was mad, I was angry. His emotions flew through me. When his heart was crushed, when I had to finally put the book down at nighttime, I was crushed. Then I woke up not really feeling well. But, reading the book with that, afterwards, hew as happy again. and so was I. The very next day, now, I am still recovering my shock from having all of the emotions from this book flow through me. Wow!

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Little Song, A Little Dance

Genre: Adult, Christian
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I really enjoyed this book.  Some of the characters I really detested. Not because they were poorly written, for they were wonderfully developed.  My favorite character to detest was Samantha Spivey’s mother Geraldine.  She wants what she wants and doesn’t seem to care what Samantha wants. She is critical of everyone and everything.  She looks down her nose at everyone. Samantha loves to dance with and for her church, especially when  Joy tells her to think about it as dancing for the Lord.
Kristee Fujima loves to sing, but not the type of songs her aunt wants her to sing. Her aunt worked in Las Vegas.  I could understand her mother want more for her than they had. Her lack of understanding often impeded the growth I thought Kristee was capable of demonstrating. Joy was once again able to help Kristee find her true voice and sing for the Lord.
I felt sorry for the assistant pastor Ted. He was 38 years old and still single. He dreaded going to his mother’s for Christmas because he knew that his mom would always have an eligible girl there in the hopes they would fall in love and get married.
This book also had a creep factor. Jonathan is a realtor and his wife Mariel works in the office.  One day a man with a pock marked face enters looking for a house. The way he switches back and forth between talking like an illiterate man and a high class person tells you that something is not right.  I’ll leave that for you to figure out.  I just found it strange that he says he has to go out of town on some business and wants to see two houses he has picked out when he returns.  Then when he returns he has a lot more money and now wants a much larger house with few people around.  It makes you wonder what he is looking for and why he is acting so strange.
I would have to describe this as a story that takes place around Christmas that is full of charm and mystery.  I have really enjoyed this novella. I look forward to reading more by this author.
I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Turn on the Light So I Can Hear by Teri Kanefield

Genre: Adult,  Romance
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is the third book I have reviewed for this author.  Each has been different. The main character in this book is Bretna.  She is an artist.  When her sculptures stop selling she looks for a job to pay the bills. She needs a job that will pay a certain amount and allow her to continue to work on her art.  The solution to her problem? Take a job paying $18 an hour as an interpretor for a deaf student. Bretna has one major problem.  She has taken the job by allowing them to believe she is qualified to work with this student, yet she has no sign language experience.  Her solution is to take a class and private lessons.  Thank goodness she is a quick learner.  I thought it funny that she realized  Alex’s signing ability was sloppier than hers.   Alex just wants to fit in like any other student. He reminded me of a seventh grader I had who insisted on doing everything her hearing classmates did.  She refused to allow her disability to define her.

Bretna shares a room with two other young ladies.  The newest roommate, Rosie adds lots of drama to the mix.  She just keeps going back to the same type of person. Curtis was her sign language instructor.  It was only a matter of time before a relationship was built.  Curtis didn’t necessarily agree with what Bretna’s plans were.  However, after seeing that she really cares for Alex’s education, things move forward.  She seems to be able to motivate both Curtis and Alex to take chances in their lives. I had an issue with her contact at the school.  She had a deaf son who was personal friend’s with Alex’s parents.  She didn’t agree with them allowing Alex to go to a regular high school.  She thought they should only let him attend schools that were for the deaf.  She believed in isolating them. I think she hindered Alex’s progress in many ways.  She almost seemed spiteful when it came to changing Alex’s classes.  That would be my take on it from an educator’s perspective.

It would be interesting to find out if the author has any background in art.  She speaks about different people in colors.  It is funny because I really understood that.  The art relationship was very intriguing.  Her writing is so descriptive that I could picture her sculptures and her drawings. Bretna’s issues with her family were heartbreaking.  The fact that she’d had a fairly severe hearing problem helped her understand Alex and Curtis’s world better.  When she talked about her surgery to restore part of her hearing I understood.  My son was not even a year old when he had to have tubes put in his ears.  I remember coming back from the hospital a semi drove by and my son put his hands over his ears.  As he began to talk we realized there were so many sounds he could not hear.  Soft Ps, Vs, Ts.

I was able to understand a lot of this from Bretna’s viewpoint.  I learned the sign language alphabet when I was very young.  My grandmother was deaf.  She had meniere’s disease.  She was an expert at reading lips.  I learned to talk slowly to those with hearing deficits as I had my grandmother.  This was an extremely enjoyable book.  It is one I will probably read again. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dealing With Devils by Pembroke Sinclair

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This book has even more tension than the first book had.  Katie is even more attracted to Josh.  What he does, taking people's souls weighs heavily on her for a while.  She feels safe around Josh, yet feels conflicted.  Her best friend Deb is trying hard to save Katie from Josh.  Enter bad boy Braden.  He and Josh both want Katie.  Braden is higher up in the demon hierarchy. The question is, what does he truly want with her.  Katie keeps hearing from all of the demons and Lucifer himself that her problem is she keeps holding onto her humanity.  Now Katie has a burning desire to find out what they mean by that.  The only way to find out is to demand a meeting with Lucifer and ask him herself.  What she learns seems to make sense yet also holds her back.  She really thought all along that there was Salvation for Josh.  I was conflicted with this book.  I know why I'm conflicted.  My religious beliefs want Katie to see the true evil.  I loved however that there is the added conflict between the two demons.  I worried all the way through as Katie seems to be lacking normal "human" feelings the deeper and darker she delves into the world and work of the demons.  Like the first book this one ended on a cliff hanger.  A lot of people hate endings like this.  I am ot one of them.  It makes me hunger for the next installment.  I feel like Katie is not getting the whole story.  I feel like she is getting herself and her friends deeper into danger.  I keep waiting for someone to come and rescue her from herself.  I guess I'll have to wait to see what happens next.  I will be waiting for the next book.

Author Bio:
Pembroke Sinclair is a literary jack of all trades, playing her hand at multiple genres. She has written an eclectic mix of fiction ranging from horror to sci-fi and even some westerns. Born in Rock Springs, Wyoming--the home of 56 nationalities--it is no wonder Pembroke ended up so creatively diverse. Her fascination with the notions of good and evil, demons and angels, and how the lines blur have inspired her writing. Pembroke lives in Laramie, Wyoming, with her husband, two spirited boys, a black lab named Ryder, and a rescue kitty named Alia, who happens to be the sweetest, most adorable kitty in the world! She cannot say no to dessert, orange soda, or cinnamon. She loves rats and tatts and rock and roll and wants to be an alien queen when she grows up.
You can learn more about Pembroke Sinclair by visiting her at http://pembrokesinclair.blogspot.com/

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Interview and Book Review with Pembroke Sinclair

How did you come up with the idea of writing a book?
 The voices in my head wouldn’t leave me alone until I put their story on paper.  Then, when that was done, more voices showed up.  It’s a vicious cycle.

Does writing take time away from your family?
 I try really hard not to let it.  I try to write after the kids have gone to bed or in between their wrestling matches, or while they are at practice.  If my husband and I are watching  a movie/TV/sports event I’m not really interested in, I’ll squeeze it in then.  Otherwise, I  try to keep my focus on them.

Where are we most likely to find you writing?
Anywhere and everywhere.  Like I said, my boys’ wrestling practice/sports events,  doctor’s appointments, at home.

Do you ever get writer’s block?
Yes and no.  Sometimes I get stuck writing something, but if I just step away from it for a little while and think about it, I can usually work out the issue.

What’s the most discouraging thing that happened while trying to write/publish, and how did you get over it?
The most discouraging thing to happen is to be rejected multiple times and get conflicting reasons of why you’re being rejected.  That’s really hard to deal with.  However, it’s the nature of the business, so I lifted my chin and didn’t back down.  Eventually, that one YES will make up for all the NOs!

Any advice for aspiring writers?
Write what you want to write.  And don’t let anyone tell you it’s wrong.  If you’re passionate about it and it makes you happen, then it’s totally right.

Who are your favorite authors?
To name just a few: Piers Anthony, Christopher Pike, Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis, Milton, Mary Roach.

Do you listen to music while you write, or do you need silence?
I used to.  Now, my background noise usually consists of my children playing.  But on the off chance I get to write alone, I prefer silence.  It allows me to hear the voices better.

What do you like to do when not writing?
 Veg, read, watch TV, go snowmobiling with my family.

What’s your favorite dinner…and dessert?
I really enjoy salmon.  And my favorite dessert is anything with cinnamon and no nuts.  Mmmmm.

Lastly, any other books that you are working on that we should look out for?
I am currently working on the third book in The Road to Salvation series.  It doesn’t have a title yet.

Review: The Appeal of Evil
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review the opinions expressed here are my own.
Katie is a senior who has always had a thing for her childhood friend Wes. Unfortunately,  he has never really reciprocated.  She is tired of this roller coaster ride. Enter Josh, a new kid at school.  Josh is all about showering attention on Katie.  Wes doesn't want Katie with Josh. Katie is intrigued by Josh's bad boy persona. This is your classic good versus evil plot. 

Josh wants Katie not because he really cares about her, but because it is a way to get to Wes who knows that Josh is a demon.  What Katie doesn't realize is that Wes is, and always has been her protector. The author has created a bad boy that is so tempting you almost want Katie to choose him. There is enough descriptive language for those like me, who thrive on description, but not so much to drive others away. The fantasy aspect was very believable and not too far-fetched. The title definitely fit the book. I will definitely recommend this book. Come back tomorrow when I post my review for the second book in this series, Dealing With Devils.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Girl from the Tar Paper School by Teri Kanefield

Genre: All Ages, Biography
Source: I received a copy for my classroom from the author

I received a copy from the author for my classroom.  I am always looking for quality books for my middle school classroom.  This is a book I am proud to put on my shelves. This is the story of Barbara Rose Johns.  She was a courage, young black girl, growing up in segregated America.  She chose to make a difference.  She didn't listen when people said no, or you can't do anything.  So why had I not heard of her before?  Barbara chose not to stay in the limelight once she set things in motion. There is so much I don't know about the Civil Rights Movement.  As a teacher I am well aware that back in the 1950's black and white schools were not equal.  They didn't receive the same quality buildings, books or other necessities.  Growing up white in a family that never mentioned skin color, I was oblivious to the issues of racism.  I grew up in the country, but the town where we shopped was very prejudiced.  I remember the fountains on the sidewalk and being pulled away because of signs on them my mother refused to let me read. Her response was, you don't need a drink right now, we are going to get a treat and have a soda.  That was something I got once or twice a year when on vacation. I didn't understand what racism was until my sister went away to college and her dorms were caught in the middle of a race riot.  It wasn't taught in my school.  I'd never gone to school with a black kid until I moved to Florida in my sophomore year.  I didn't understand what the big deal was that my best friend was black.  I was lucky in many ways.  My mind was not poisoned.
Barbara Johns saw the inequality because her school, unlike the white school were just wooden structures covered with heavy paper and coated with tar. They were leaky and very cold. When Barbara decided to make the issue known, she didn't get the results she thought she would. She managed to call an assembly where she dismissed the adults because she didn't want them to get in trouble.  When she wrote to the NAACP for help they refused to help them get a new school built.  Instead they wanted total integration.  This was not what she had started out trying to accomplish. I became so enraged with the attitudes of the whites within the pages of this book.  I guess if you never grew up hating a race of people it is often hard to believe that others could be so ignorant.  I am sure there are many that would read this review and be angered at me.  But, that is okay. I am proud to share and promote this book to my students.  Barbara's strike took place before we ever heard of Martin Luther King.  It is important that ALL students learn that there were other people out there just as important as MLK.  Most importantly it is very important that they learn that no matter how young they are, they can make a difference in the world.  They need to learn they can't do it by sitting by watching and keeping their mouth closed.  This is the second book I have read by this author and I love her work.  I am proud to promote her work.  Look for more reviews of her books by me.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Student Saturday: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Student Reviewer: Elizabeth B.
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

I really enjoyed the first book in the Maze Runner series. It really grabbed me with all the imagination and creativity of the author’s writing. I connected with it because I already heard if you read another series – Divergent – then you would like this one. I liked when the book just started that the kid Thomas was in some kind of box. I liked another part because Thomas had no idea who he was, just that he had that name. I felt secure when reading this part because I could relate to him; I also had no idea who he was, just his name. I felt connected because I would learn who he was with him – rather than have him tell me about himself. I was definitely drawn to the book. When Thomas thought, I thought even harder. This book is kind of like the Hunger Games, just not as violent. I was like that because lots of people died. That was the saddening part for me. There also were a lot of questions with no answers so the book left me dying for more.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Come Visit Scotland and Hungary

If You Were Me and Lived in Scotland by Carole P. Roman
Genre: children's picture book
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review, the opinions expressed here are my own.

Scotland is at the north end of Great Britain.  I didn’t know until I read this book that Scotland has more than 790 islands in the North Sea. The capital is Edinburg.  Many of its buildings were inspired by ancient Greece and Rome.  Common names in Scotland would be Ian, Connor or Malcom for boys and Kelsey, Aillen or Margaret for girls.  The word for mommy is Mathair and daddy is Dadadh. The official animal of Scotland is the mythological creature known as a unicorn.  They are well known for their lake the Loch Ness and its creature known as the Loch Ness Monster or Nessie.  They eat oatmeal called porridge for breakfast, tattie scones which are potato muffins.  They eat a lot of fish dishes.  They use oats for all kinds of things from stuffing to desserts.  One of their favorite sports is golf.  They have the Highland games.  They dress in kilts, tartans and plaids.  One of their most well known instruments is the bagpipes. I absolutely love these books.  It is a way for students to travel the world and learn about different cultures without leaving their home. I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

If You Were Me and Lived in Hungary by Carole P. Roman
Genre: children's picture book
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review, the opinions expressed here are my own.

Once again we take a trip with this author to a new country. Today we explore Hungary and learn that the capital is Budapest.  It is fun to learn some common names such as Peter, Laszlo or Atilla if you are a boy; and Judit, Suzanna or Erzse’bet if you are a girl.  Mommy is Anya, Daddy is Apa and grandma is Nagy. The largest lake is the Balaton. It means mud or swamp. A popular food is goulash, which is a stew with meat and vegetables. It was interesting to learn that water polo is a favorite sport.  I learned that the Rubik’s Cube was invented there.  This is a wonderful way to learn about the country and culture of Hungary.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Several Wonderful Children's Books

What Do Monsters Eat? by Mark Smith

This is a fun rhyming book to read with your child.  While reading your child can try to find the worm that hides in each picture. They can try to identify the different foods each of the monsters like to eat.  Depending on how you read to your child, you can probably get the "ooo gross" remark from them.  I'm glad I'm not a monster because I don't think I'd like pizza with octopus on top, or chocolate covered fish.  On the educational side of this it is a way of opening a conversation about healthy eating. As always Mark has done a great job of intertaining kids while educating them as well.
I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Ooh Lolita by L. Gina Davis
This is a wonderful story about "stranger danger".  Lolita is a witch who hates children.  She has two
cats.  One of them is just like her. The other cat wants to be free of the witch.  She gets her power from the sun.  One day upon the advice of the cat Bufu, she turns herself into a beautiful princess and tricks the children into coming into her house.  Once there she locks them in and makes them work for her.  She does this several days.  But, can she hold the children forever?  How will they and the cat Chum get free?
The pictures are wonderful. The story is very interesting and sure to keep the attention  any child, or child at heart. I would definitely read more books by this author.
I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Sniff the Cat & the Super Duper Most InterestingSmell by Picture Kid
A cute story of a cat who loves to sniff.  He sniffs a wonderful thing one day.  He can't quite figure out what it is.  He follows and follows until he gets so tired he must take a nap.  While asleep he has a wonderful dream that everything he sniffs smells like meat. Then he wakes up and can no longer smell what he was following.  He heads back home to all of his familiar smells and learns a valuable lesson.  The best things are right at home.
I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Stories For Children 3 by Francois Bissonette

She tells him about 3 magic oranges that can remove the spell. The spell is removed, but this doesn't stop Melinda.  He casts another spell.  This time it is on the prince's new wife.  She turns her into a dove and takes her place.
The second story is called "The Wand". This story is about a knight who is approached by a witch.  She wants his help.  She gives him keys to magic doors where he can find money.  In return she wants a magic wand that is in the tree.  He finds the money and returns with the wand.  When she refuses to tell him what she wants the wand for he chases her away and keeps it.  He becomes quite wealthy and well known.  He learns of a princess kept in a tower by her father.  It has been foretold she will marry a knight.  The king wants more for her.  The knight uses the wand to get the princess, make the king and queen happy and to live happily ever after.   I really enjoyed these stories.  Simple fairy tales to please everyone.

I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.