Showing posts with label Challenges. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Challenges. Show all posts

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery, Adventure
Source: I received a copy form the author in exchange for my honest review.
Book Blurb
Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new young adult series of adventure mystery stories by Iain Reading. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations. 

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales, Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty's adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada. As the plot continues to unfold, this spirited story will have readers anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada's Yukon.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves. 

My Thoughts:
I love a book that mixes adventure, mystery and historical facts throughout. Kitty is in Alaska observing humpback whales. She does this from her plane that she pilots. In case you are concerned because you’ve never been to Alaska and think you might not be able to visualize Kitty’s travels, the author has included a map. It is very helpful. Like so many real people Kitty gets caught up in local gold rush stories.

Kitty is a well rounded character. She does carry on a lot of internal dialogue. But, this is a lot like my students.  I hear them talking to themselves as they talk through situations.  It can be annoying at times but it is also spot on.  There is a lot of information throughout this book.  For many people this may be something they don’t like.  As an educator I love books like this.  I just happen to have several quirky students like me that I know will love this book for that reason. Just because I love a book doesn’t mean my students will.  When the author threw in a robbery and a kidnapping I knew that this was a book for my shelves.  There are several other books in this series.  See the links below to learn more about them.

About Iain Reading
Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations. He has published 4 books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series.

For more information, go to

You can also find him on:


Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Road to Nyn – Brian Michaud

Young Adult, Fantasy
I received a copy for this blog tour in exchange for my honest review

     In a land where magic is outlawed, a young boy is living a double life. Although Kay is training to be a knight, he has been secretly studying the forbidden ways of magic with Alamin, a powerful but eccentric wizard.
     After passing of the Trial of the Rings and being raised to squirehood, Kay has decided to tell Alamin that he is going to leave his magical studies behind. And why not? Kay hasn’t ever cast a spell without something going seriously wrong–like the random appearance of frogs or hungry wolves–besides, Kay could be banished from the kingdom just for associating with Alamin.
     Kay’s plans are quickly obliterated when a horde of goblins attacks his village and captures his family and friends. Now, with his home lying in ruins, everything has changed. Along with Alamin and Felix, a self-serving kleptomaniac sprite, Kay embarks on an adventure that takes him across the Kingdom of Gaspar and into the dark and treacherous caves of the Goblin Realm. What Kay doesn’t realize is that his journey is leading him on a collision course with the Lord of Nyn – a being so powerful that none dare face him...not even Alamin himself!

 My Thoughts
Knights, magic, and a quest to save his family. What more could a reader want? Add goblins that kidnap a village and the plot thickens. Kay has worked hard on his path to become a knight. He has a secret.  He has been learning magic.  Magic has been outlawed.  Just hanging around with the wizard who is training him could be enough to ruin his chances of knighthood.  Kay weighs the possibility of this loss against the possibility of being aided by the wizard in saving his family and the other villagers.  This was one of those stories that grabs you and carries you along on a journey that you absolutely don't want to end. I always look at books like this to see if I think my students will read it.  I can't wait to get a hard copy to put on my shelves for next year.  I was given an electronic copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.  I definitely loved this book and look forward to reading more  by him.

Author Bio
Brian G. Michaud lives in a small town in Massachusetts with his wife, Kim. When he is not reading or writing books, he can be found teaching music at a local elementary school or rocking out on guitar with the band, Too Loud.

Where you can find him:

Road to Nyn Facebook  
Road to Nyn Goodreads   

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Hitler Dilemma: A Mormon Boy in the German Army - Carolyn Twede Frank

Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction

From Goodreads:
“We’re Nazis, Max. Everybody in Germany is Nazi—if they want to be safe.” Papa pulled up a chair and sat down, crumpling the newspaper in his hand. “We don’t have to think like them, son, but we’ve got to act like them—at least on the outside. Try to remember that. Okay?” Saarbr├╝cken, Germany—1938 Change is in the air in Max Adams’s small village: The censorship of classic literature, the elimination of math and science courses, the addition of extra physical education classes. Along with thousands of other young men, he is forced into the Hitler Youth and is being groomed to become the next generation of Nazi soldiers. But as a faithful Latter-day Saint, how can Max serve the villain who destroyed his younger brother in his effort to create a Master Race—a man who is bent on tearing apart not only a single nation, but also the entire world? From the horrors of battle and the sorrow of separation from family to the privations of a prisoner of war, Carolyn Twede Frank’s groundbreaking novel The Hitler Dilemma is a poignant chronicle of one remarkable young man’s struggle to reconcile his sense of duty with his staunch opposition to the evil tyrant destroying the country he loves.

My Thoughts:
Talk about a gut wrenching read, that is exactly what this book is.  This author definitely knows how to grab your heart-strings and make you feel empathy for the Nazis.  I am not uninformed about similar situations.  I have read and reviewed enough books from this time period to know that many people were put into a position to fight for Hitler whether they believed in the cause, or wanted to fight for him.  To refuse a command like that had dire consequences for them.  When Max’s handicapped brother is taken to a “hospital” where he will get the help he needs, I could figure out what was going to happen.  However, when Max finds out what probably happened to his brother it was like I was learning it for the first time along with him.  My heart ached for him.  I also felt sorry for Max because fighting in the war went completely against his religious beliefs.  The internal conflict would be so terrible.  The author is actually working on a second book along this same topic.  I will definitely read it.  I love historical books.  This was one that will stick with me for a long time. 

The Hitler Dilemma Book Blog Tour Stops
May 24th:  Frankly Creative
May 25th:  Anna del C. Dye
May 26th:  Fay A. Klingler
May 27th:  Lindzee Armstrong/Lydia Winters
May 28th:  It's All About Books
May 29th:  The Musings of a Book Addict
May 30th:  LDS and Lovin' It
May 31st:  Taryn A. Taylor
June 1st:    Julie L. Casey
June 2nd:   Renae's Writespot
June 3rd:   The Write Blocks
June 4th:    The Stubby Pencil
June 5th:    Why Not? Because I Said So!
June 6th:    Donna K.Weaver
June 7th:    Lisa Winton - Queen of Random

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A BRIDGE UNBROKEN Book Tour & Launch Party

Welcome to the BlitzKat blog tour for Cathy Bryant’s A Bridge Unbroken. Another Miller’s Creek Novel set in the heart of Texas, A Bridge Unbroken brings two new characters to the forefront while still giving fans a glimpse of their favorite characters from the past, including the old geezers and Mama Beth.



Letting go to build a bridge…

Dakota Kelly wants her painful past to disappear. A plan to start afresh is derailed when she co-inherits her late grandfather’s farm with the man responsible for the scars on her heart. But Chance Johnson isn’t the only ghost from the past. Someone else is out to get her and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Will Chance and Dakota lay aside their grudges to restore the old farmhouse and bridge, or will evil forces sabotage their attempt at forgiveness?

Click HERE to read a sample chapter of A Bridge Unbroken.

The Other Miller’s Creek Novels

“Miller’s Creek, Texas…where folks are friendly, the iced tea is sweet, and Mama Beth’s front porch beckons…”


My Thoughts

This is the fifth book in the Miller Creek Series.  I have enjoyed each one for several reasons.  Overall the message that she carries throughout reaches out and touches you where you are.  This book carries a theme of Forgiveness.  The romances her books have are not the mushy gushy type that I can’t stand. There is  always enough suspense to balance out the romance throughout the entire book.   The message of forgiveness is strong and reaches out to remind us that forgiveness is necessary, but not easy. You must forgive if you are to move forward in life.  We are told we must forgive others.  You can read in Matthew that if we don't forgive others our heavenly Father won't forgive us. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget, or you get over the pain the minute you forgive.  I have experience with this one first hand.  The pain can last for years.  But, once you forgive that person and you pray asking God to help you with the pain, it gets easier.  God has definitely given Cathy the ability to write books that reach out and touch your soul.  He has also given her some powerful themes for her books. Sometimes it is a book just like this that is what God uses to speak to, or create a healing in someone.  I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves romances with suspense that speaks to you.  If you haven't read any of Cathy's books I would suggest you do so. You have several to choose from. 

Author Interview

Tell us about yourself.
I’m a Christ-follower, wife, mom, Nana, daughter, musician, teacher, and writer. I enjoy just about anything outdoors, including hiking, canoeing, camping, and gardening. I also enjoy creative activities—home improvement projects, scrap-booking, painting, composing, and of course, writing. I love watching movies and reading books, though since becoming a writer, I can’t stop analyzing what I’m watching and reading. I’m a big reality TV fan, my favorites being Survivor and The Amazing Race–both great material for analyzing human behavior for my books!
Where do you write?
Our mountain cabin has an upstairs sleeping loft. It’s one large open room with the best view in the entire house. My writing desk is there, but I force myself to write in a corner facing a wall to keep myself from being distracted. (It works most of the time…)
What are you writing now?
I’m finishing up A Bridge Unbroken, the fifth book in the popular Miller’s Creek Novels. I had hoped  Future writing plans include a series of Bible studies and more Miller’s Creek Novels.
What inspired you to write A Bridge Unbroken? All of the Miller’s Creek Novels feature a spiritual theme that is relevant to me for different seasons in my life. In Texas Roads it was Christ being our home rather than placing our security in a place or building. A Path Less Traveled was about finding enough faith to follow God even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. (Boy, has He used that lesson in my life, and proven His faithfulness through it all!) The Way of Grace was my spiritual journey of learning how perfectionist tendencies can be a real hindrance to spiritual progress. The spiritual theme of Pilgrimage of Promise followed right along with my hubby and I stepping out in faith in a bad economy and high unemployment rates to do what we sensed God telling us to do, and the resulting joy and peace spurred on by the Lord’s faithfulness.
What do you want readers to take away from this book in particular? In my very humble opinion, forgiveness is one of the least understood tenets of our faith, yet central to the gospel we proclaim. I hope readers come away from the story with a fresh understanding of the gift of forgiveness, what it is and what it isn’t. (As an example: Forgiveness is unconditional. Forgiveness doesn’t mean excusing the offender’s behavior.)
Tell us how you come up with characters. The characters actually introduce themselves to me. (I know, I know, they’re not real. I promise I’m not certifiable…) After they make their appearance, I fill out extensive character charts, including taking online personality tests for them! (Hmm, maybe I am certifiable…) But no matter how much preparation I put into the characters in the pre-writing process, they always reveal another facet of their personality during the actual writing of the book.
Of all the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite and why?
Without a doubt the answer would have to be Mama Beth, the wise woman in all the Miller’s Creek novels and the main character in the fourth book of the series, Pilgrimage of Promise. She is everything I want to be when I grow up—wise, kind, and loving. Just so you know, I’m not alone in choosing her as the favorite character. When I asked this question to the Miller’s Creek Reader’s Group on Facebook, the majority’s answer was Mama Beth.
What do you hope to accomplish through your writing? I want my writing to honor and glorify God. If only one person is touched and moved closer to God as a result of my writing, then the hours of hard labor (and numb backside!) are worth it. One early reader of Texas Roads (the first book in the series) told me the story brought healing to her life. I can think of no higher compliment.


About Cathy

A native daughter of the Lone Star State, Cathy loves spinning tales about life in small town Texas. When she’s not weaving stories about the fine folks in Miller’s Creek, you’ll find her rummaging through thrift stores, feeding her reality TV addiction, or up to her elbows in yet another home improvement project in the mountain cabin she shares with her minister husband of over thirty years. You can find out more about Cathy and her books at

Here are a few other places to meet up with Cathy in cyberspace:

Reader friends on Facebook may want to visit the following groups, the first for book bargains and the second to discuss all things Miller’s Creek.


About the Blog Tour and Launch Party

Cathy is celebrating the new addition to the Miller’s Creek family by having an  interactive Facebook Launch Party on May 22, 2014.  Come join A Bridge Unbroken Facebook launch party on May 22.

Don’t miss the fun! See you at the party!

Ebook Giveaway!!!
The author has graciously offered an ebook to one of my readers. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ashlynn's Dreams - Julie C. Gilbert

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Source: Review Copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.
From Goodreads:
Before she was kidnapped, Jillian Marie Antel Blairington was just an average bright, brave, headstrong child. She was excited for life in a new house with her Momma and new Daddy. Afterward, she's all that ... and so much more.

Held in a scientific facility, Jillian discovers her past-a family she never knew and a power she doesn't understand. With her ability now activated, she can enter and even shape a person's dreams. Jillian's been kidnapped, and her Gift has been triggered, so she can locate and save Benjamin Connelly, a brother she never even knew she had. She'd better master this strange ability quickly, though, because her life isn't the only one at stake. Her babysitter, Danielle Matheson, is being held as a hostage to ensure Jillian's full cooperation. Slowly, Jillian begins to learn more about her captor and the other genetically altered children held at the facility.

Join Jillian as she tries to survive the training being forced upon her, find her unknown brother, escape with Danielle, and work her way back to a normal life once more.

My Thoughts:
The synopsis was enough to make me want to read this book.  If I was standing in a bookstore with one of my students I would not have chosen the book based on the cover, but I can guarantee you than my student would. That is why I will purchase a physical copy of this book for my shelves at school.  Twelve-year-old Jillian is just like any of my students.  She is down to earth, has a southern twang, as do many of my students.  She differs in the fact that she has a special gift she never knew about. We watch her go from innocence to a much more mature teen by the end of the book.  It was sad that her babysitter was also kidnapped to encourage her to do what her kidnappers what her to do.  Jillian learns the life she has lived was not all there was to her.  She learns just how strong she, and the other children like her must be if they are to survive and possibly escape. 

This was different in the fact it is told in a series of journal entries or letters.  At times it is kind of hard to get into. After a while you get into the flow of the book and you know that it works the best for this book.  Definitely a book you need to check out.  Then check out her next book Nadia's Tears.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mommy's A Mole - Eve Carson

From Goodreads:
There is no crueler tyranny than that which is exercised under cover of law, and with the colors of
justice." - U.S. v. Jannotti, 673 F.2d 578, 614 (3d Cir. 1982). The sun trickled through the dense tangle of the spring's budding branches. Karen Wolfe Churgin walked her dogs on April 18, 1990, on her remote wooded property on Chebacco Road. The veterinarian spotted a white sphere obstructing a drainage ditch. Churgin's home sat on top of the bluff overlooking Chebacco Lake, and the lower-wooded basin was often flooded with water. The sparsely inhabited wilderness in Hamilton, Massachusetts attracted hikers and bikers, but was also a secluded setting known for criminal activity. From a distance, she saw an object, a white sphere. When she reached to dislodge it, she reeled back in horror. She immediately called the police. "I saw something in the woods that looked like a punched-in volleyball," Karen told the Beverly Times on April 25, 1990. "I looked closer and it was a human skull. It had suture-like zigzagged lines. Those are unique to human skulls." Officer Hat eld was the first to respond, and the initial conclusion determined the discovery was, indeed, a human skull. Hamilton Police Chief Walter Cullen arrived at the scene next and photographed the find. The Massachusetts State Police Crime Prevention and Control Unit, CPAC, dispatched Cpl. Dennis Marks to take charge of the crime scene. Local police sent the skull and a nearby black boot to Hunt Memorial Hospital to examine, but nothing else surfaced in the initial cursory search of the surrounding area. Notices went out to departments to assist the resident force, and names poured in to compare the cranium to known missing persons. Joan Webster's name appeared on the list, but the resting spot was more than thirty miles from the long-speculated crime scene at Pier 7 in Boston. "Of course, it's being checked out, but the location doesn't seem to correlate. Circumstances pointed to her being taken out in a boat and dumped at sea. This is something way up north and doesn't tie to anything." -George Webster Harvard Crimson April 28, 1990.


My Thoughts:

As I began reading this book I was immediately reminded of another controversial book.  Lois Duncan wrote a book called, “Who Killed My Daughter”.  Both books have ruffled feathers of those they had at one time been close to.  I can’t imagine the pain and agony knowing a loved one was murdered and then finding so much evidence that was tainted, twisted and misused.  This review in no way says I believe either side.  I will say that the author has definitely produced a lot of evidence that makes me believe that things were not what they appeared to be. There were way too many inconsistencies.  To me the thing that is so difficult to deal with was the fact that her husband and his  family turned on her.

Joan Webster was the sister-in-law of the author of this book. She went missing shortly after Thanksgiving. Eve Carson was not satisfied with the answers she got  about Joan’s disappearance and eventual discovery. When she tried to ask questions she was attacked by those you would consider on her side.  Joan has done a lot of work on her own and provided a lot of documentation to backup her beliefs.  My one hope is that she finds what she is looking for, the truth in this case.  Maybe by writing this book she will create enough buzz to truly have this case solved.  This is definitely  a book I recommend to those who love reading true stories.


About the author:
Author Eve Carson has a degree in economics and industrial management from Purdue University. She joined the Webster family when she married Joan’s brother Steve in 1980 and belonged to the immediate family when Joan disappeared. She eventually took on the unresolved case after becoming alienated from her two daughters. Carson reveals hidden and explosive evidence in this tell-all book about one of Boston’s most sensational unresolved murders. She puts a personal face on victims of covered up crime and the dire consequences of public corruption.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Goat and the Terror Birds – P.J. Gilbers


Genre: Children's Fantasy
Source: Review Copy from author
I loved this book. The idea of a goat whose mission in life is to help children is wonderful. In this story Mac lives with his Aunt Maddy and cousin Suzie.  His mom is dead, he’s being bullied, and his dad is off somewhere on one of his trips.  His dad is in Patagonia looking for the rare Terror Bird.  Think of the raptors from “Jurassic Park” with beaks and you get the idea.  Maddy has been trying to find Mac’s dad. She is being pressured to sell the house to pay bills. Sir William the Goat is on a mission to help stop the sale of the house, find and rescue Mac’s dad, and help Mac believe in himself.  This is a must read book by elementary kids.  There are so many lessons that can be learned from this story. At the same time kids will love the story of hope and the wonderful pictures within its pages.  If you want to learn more please visit the authors webpage.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

84 Ribbons - Paddy Eger

Genre:  Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Review copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.
From Goodreads

Seventeen year old Marta Selbryth realizes her dream of becoming a professional dancer when the Intermountain Ballet Company in Billings, Montana invites her to join their 1957 season. As Marta's new life unfolds, she must learn to face not only the successes of dancing in the corps de ballet, but the challenges and setbacks that might crush the dream she's had for so long.

After a couple of mishaps, Marta settles into life in a boarding house located near the ballet company. Her landlady, Mrs. B., is friendly, reduces her rent when Marta's offers to bake for the boarder and later allows her to use the basement as a practice studio. The two male boarders are supportive; Carol, a fellow boarder, ignores her.

Marta spends her free time practicing when she's not spending time with her new friends Lynne and Bartley, her fellow corps dancers. Their time together becomes an important lifeline through their first year.

Madame Cosper, the artistic director, is a demanding woman. Marta begins their association poorly when she makes a disastrous choice. Expecting expulsion, Marta receives a second chance in the form of dancing the unpopular character roles during the fall and winter performances. Marta determines to dance every role with confidence in hopes of proving to Madame that she's up for every challenge.

Steve, a young college man and a reporter, spots Marta when he's assigned to write an article about ballet for the local paper. He's attracted to her and begins his pursuit. Over the months ahead, he becomes her tour guide of the area and attempts to convince Marta to be his girl. But her steadfast focus is ballet and some of her adventures with him lead to problems with Madame Cosper.

Shortly after Christmas, everything changes for Marta, Bartley and Steve. Significant events permanently influence their lives. Each must deal with exhilaration and heartbreak as well as frustration and changes that test their ability to cope.


My Thoughts

I was excited to read this book.  I have always loved ballet. I am a realist.  I knew I would never be able to dance ballet. So I did the next best thing. I let my daughter take dance classes. Like Marta my daughter went through a lot of challenges.  One of the things this book talked about was Marta losing weight to dance.  I watched so many girls including my daughter have eating disorders because of dance.  It is a dangerous path but one that can be overcome.  She had the benefit of having a dance teacher who recognized these issues and had those students eat lunch with her.  If they didn’t eat, they didn’t dance.  I had a current student of mine read the book.  She said it is right on target as to the mental, physical and emotional sacrifices a dancer must make.  She also said she had to make a choice whether this was the life she wanted.  She is much younger than Marta but said it is a decision girls her age must make all the time.  As you find in the book it is not as glamorous as their performances make it seem.  This is a book that anyone, whether they are a dancer or not will enjoy.  They will be able to identify with so many things in the book, even though the time periods are different.  I have a line of students waiting to read this book.

Student Review by Isabella

Marta Selbryth is a young woman who had the love of dancing. She had grown into a talented young woman who has a chance to dance at a professional ballet company. She leaves the comfort of her home for Billings, Montana. She will sacrifice everything to achieve her dream.  I think this story shows the true life of a dancer and her thoughts.  I can connect myself to Marta because we both struggled to keep up dancing. We both left behind something fantastic. I recommend this book to my mother who loves realistic stories and has the love of ballet.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Case of Secrets - Alfred M. Struthers

Genre:  Middle Grade, Mystery
Source: Review Copy from author

Mysteries have always been my favorite genre. I was excited to review this book.  I had no idea what I was in for. Take one kid named Nathan who hates attics, spiders and books and put him in a situation where he must take something upstairs to the attic for his mother. Brought back memories of when my mother would make me take things upstairs to a closet. We all hated that closet because it was spooky. With Nathan he runs into lots of creepy spider webs and then a mysterious book falls on the floor in front of him.

Now imagine, this boy who hates to read can't seem to put this book down once he has started it. You have the start to a great mystery. Give him a brainy sidekick named Gina to help him and now you have a great mystery.

The author did such a wonderful job I almost believed the story was true. The feeling I felt while reading this book took me back to my years in elementary and middle school where you could always find me in the mystery section of the library. I love architecture so learning some new architectural words made this book even more enjoyable. I loved both characters.

Nathan and Gina had been neighbors for years. Gina had an attitude that came off as though she was better than Nathan. Seeing him out think her at times was satisfying. I also enjoyed learning more about his grandfather and the way the author tied up the loose ends only to leave us wanting to read more. I do hope I was vague enough to make you want to read this book.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Four Picture Books

Books by Emily Thomson

One Bear
This is a cute book for the youngest child ages 2 to 4.  It contains simple colorful pictures that are done in bright pastel colors, coupled with rhyming phrases that help parents teach their children to count from one to ten.  It is also a simple way for parent to teach children to identify the different animals.

All the Baby animals on the Farm
This is another great animal book by Emily Thomson. This time we take a look at baby animals around the farm. Children will learn something about all kinds of farm animals, from the dog and cat, to the pig and calf.  There are so many more animals to learn about in this book. They will enjoy the wonderful, brightly colored pictures and will soon be able to name the animals on the farm.

Books by Kathryn L. Novak

Easy as 1-2-3 Come Learn About Bugs A-Z
This is a unique picture book in many ways. The author is also the illustrator of this book. She used bright polka-d0tted backgrounds for each page. Each page is full of rhyming information about the fascinating life of bugs. This book contained a lot of information. I enjoy reading children’s books that teach adults as well. I’m sure my grandkids will love this book.

The Very Best You
This is one of the best books I’ve seen that encourages kids to accept who they are and to love themselves the way they are. The book is full of positive affirmations. The pictures are bright and cheerful making the child want to read this book over and over again.

Where you can find the author:


Monday, May 5, 2014

Call Me Clumsy by Matthew Weinrich

Genre: Memoir, Humor
Source: I received a copy from the author

From Goodreads:
So begins the "odyssey of awkwardness" that is Call Me Clumsy, the my-life-so-far memoir
of Matthew Weinrich. Through utterly humbling experiences that span the decades of his life, Weinrich provides anecdotes that are equally cringe-inducing and laugh-out-loud funny. From his experience as a consummate slacker to his marriage proposal gone horribly awry to an unfortunate run-in with the fine men and women of the TSA, Weinrich bring you along as he strolls down memory lane, for better or for worse.

Ultimately, Weinrich gives us a heart-warming picture of the humility of a child of God who knows, without a doubt, that the old adage applies to him:
God is God, and I am not...
...not even close.

My Thoughts:
I laughed until I cried.  I identified with so many of the goofy things he did.  I have been clumsy when it comes to injuries to my feet and legs.  I’ve broken both feet twice, both knees twice and both ankles. I used to get teased for falling “UP” the stairs. I don’t think I have ever done anything quite as embarrassing as the things I read about in this book.  I have promoted the heck out of this book to my teacher friends.  There is something for everyone in it.  The story I identified with the most was “Fingers on Home Row”.  Matt and I are both teachers.  As such we have each had our share where we were doing what we thought was our best to encourage students only to have them burst into tears. Why? Because we didn’t pay enough attention to our students and take into consideration any concerns they had AT THE TIME, only to learn that because we had not, we had in actuality made the student feel there was no way they could succeed.  For me it was a student who kept insisting they could not read because they had an issue with short term memory.  I just knew I could help them.  Later talking with several students, the school counselor and the parents I learned he had a brain injury that made short term memory almost impossible.  I felt so terrible.  Some of Matt’s stories show us that there are people out there who are willing to help us out when we really mess up.  He also shows us that God definitely watches out for us when we put ourselves into stupidly dangerous situations.  I want everyone I meet to read this book.  It is one I have read over and over and over.  That’s not something I do very often.  It is definitely one of my favorites to read.


Author Bio

Born in Superior, Montana in 1984, Matthew Weinrich grew up in Montana, New Mexico, Nevada and Oklahoma.  He currently lives in Oklahoma City and teaches at Western Oaks Middle School in the Putnam City School District.  He is happily married to his beautiful wife Danielle of six years.  Matt and Danielle have recently welcomed their first child, a son named Elijah.  In his spare time Matt enjoys playing sports, writing, watching baseball and being involved with his church.



Monday, April 28, 2014

Orenda - Ruth Silver

Genre:  Middle Grade, Young Adult Fantasy
Source:  I received a copy in exchange for my honest review
From Goodreads
Join forces with a parallel universe.
Dark forces, magical creatures, and the world Lil thought she knew collide when a dream

transports her to the strange world of Orenda. Stunned and terrified, Lil comes face to face
with her doppelganger, Willow, who possesses the ability to travel between the two worlds. Everything Lil knows logically says that Orenda can’t exist, but a small clue may be proof that
it was more than an ordinary dream. With the threat of her sister in danger, Lil crosses
dimensions but it may cost her even more than she bargained for.
A sword wielding girl, the eternal suit, and a parallel universe come together in this action-

packed Young Adult fantasy adventure that will keep readers of all ages turning the pages.
Orenda is the first novel in the Orenda series.

 My Thoughts
I enjoyed the author’s Aberrant series so I figured I would like this series.  I was not disappointed.  I absolutely loved the idea of alternate worlds.  I am not so sure I would like to meet my doppleganger though.  For me most fantasy authors spend so much time building their world that I get lost.  There is more world building than plot.  Ruth gave just enough about Orenda to keep me interested.  I look forward to seeing what else I learn about this world in the next book in the series.  I believe this is exactly the kind of fantasy book my middle school students will enjoy.  Can’t wait to let them know about it.

About the Author:
Ruth Silver is the best-selling author of ABERRANT, a young adult dystopian adventure series published by Patchwork Press and Lazy Day Publishing, in 2013. Silver attended Northern
Illinois University and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Communication in the spring of 2005
While in college, she spent much of her free time writing with friends she met online and penning her first novel, Deuces are Wild, which she self-published in 2004. Her favorite class was Creative Writing senior year where she often handed in assignments longer than the professor required, because she loved to write and always wanted to finish her stories. Her love of writing led her on an adventure in 2007 to Melbourne, Australia. Silver enjoys reading, photography, traveling and most of all writing. She loves dystopian and fantasy young adult stories. Ruth has been actively writing since she was a teenager. Upcoming works include Royal Reaper, a young adult series about grim reapers, due for release June 3rd, 2014. She currently resides in Plainfield, Illinois.

 Where you can find her:


Friday, April 25, 2014

Fantasyland - D.J. Starling

Genre: Adult, Romance
Source: I received a copy for review in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

 This was a wonderful love story. From the minute Rick and Sandi meet the love story blossoms.  Not always the way you think it should or will.  Sandi first falls for Rick when she is eleven years old. Rick was the teen idol hanging on so many bedroom walls.  Remember those days? Sandi is so obsessed she dreams of going to college in California in hopes of one day meeting him. Her father raised her and her brother after her mom died. They always played a game using song lyrics.  This kind of made me think of the show my mom watches NCIS where one of the characters is always spouting movie lines from old movies.  Sandi’s father always encouraged her to follow her dreams.  After he passes away she does just that. She moves to California to go to college. Once there she meets a gorgeous guy named Paul and falls for him.  Imagine her surprise when she learns that he is actually her teen idol all grown up. Their relationship in the beginning is complicated yet moves along at a realistic pace. As we get further into the book we find there is also heartache.  This is not unrealistic, yet borders on it.  It is a great book for those of us who want to believe in our romantic dreams.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Keeping Score: A guide to Love and Relationships – Marc Brackett

Genre:  Self-help, marriage
Source: I received a copy to review.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

I want to start this review with two facts I learned: 50 % of all first marriages fail and 67% of all second marriages fail.  This is important because I am a part of that first statistic as is my husband. “I” worked hard for nine years to keep my first marriage together.  This included pre-marriage counseling and counseling throughout our marriage.  It still ended in divorce.  I remarried and once again we started with pre-marriage counseling along with my kids from my first marriage.  We were determined to make the second marriage work.  This book for us was a great refresher course. I believe it is a book that should be read before and throughout a marriage. The author starts off with a self-evaluation test.  There is one for the men and one for the women. As you read through this book you read about important topics such as communication trust, religious beliefs, and spending time together. For us it was a way to see if we were still on track with our relationship and where we wanted it to go. I am happy to report it is very healthy and we are preparing to celebrate our 21st anniversary in just a couple of weeks. So, when all is said and done is this a book I would recommend?  Most definitely.  I’d recommend it to anyone getting ready to get married, anyone who has been through a divorce and in a new relationship, as well as to married couples to force yourself to take a good look at where you are and where you are going.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Morgan Kane Without Mercy – Louis Masterson

Genre: Adult, Western, Action, Adventure
Source: I purchased a copy

I grew up watching westerns on television. I can honestly say that this is the first western novel I’d ever read. It took me back many years. The main character, Morgan Kane is a Teas ranger. He finds himself seeking revenge. While trying to bring a man in, he is forced to kill him. The man’s brother and friends set out to “make things right”. They know his weaknesses for women, alcohol and gambling, and they use these to lure him in. After losing a very large sum of money in a poker game he’s lured onto a train platform by a beautiful woman. Once there he is shot. He falls from the train but doesn’t die. After he heals, his mission is to go after the four people who tried to end his life. This is fast and steady in pace and adventure. The characters are very believable. When I learned that this was translated from Norwegian I was shocked that the author definitely knew what the old west was like here. This is definitely a series to look out for.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

LIbby of High Hopes by Elise Primavera

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre:  Upper Elementary/Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Source:  I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review

From Goodreads: 
Libby Thump Riding Princess is a middle grade illustrated novel about a young girl who wants riding lessons more than anything else in the world. With passion and her love for horses nothing can stop Libby. She tries to live up to her potential and in so doing changes the lives of everyone around her.

My Thoughts:
This is a realistic look at what it is like to grow up and find your way in a confusing world. Libby is a young girl almost 11 years old. She is passionate about horses. Her ex-best friend, daughter of Libby’s mom’s best friend, is going down a different path.  One day Libby comes across a horse farm. She tries to persuade her parents to lether take riding lessons. Instead they give her older sister riding lessons and Libby is given swimming lessons. Libby lears many lessons that are lessons kids everywhere could identify with. Life isn’t always fair, I repeat this almost daily to my students. Another lesson is you need to hold onto your dreams and reach for them no matter what or how difficult it may seem to reach them. This is the very type of book I want on my shelves at school in my classroom as I try to inspire my students to reach for their own dreams.