Everyday Tidbits...

"I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." - Anne Shirley
Showing posts with label Children. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Children. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Emerald Atlas...Review

About the book:
Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.

Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about. Until now.

Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world...a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.

The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma's extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world.

For all my love of all things Harry Potter, fantasy/magical novels--regardless of which age they are written for--aren't usually my thing.  The premise for The Emerald Atlas, however, intrigued me.  While it was a bit slow starting and it took some time to get into it and learn the setting, I think that is often true of fantasy stories. This certainly didn't lessen my enjoyment of it 

Those who love fantasy and magic and books like Lemony Snicket or Percy Jackson will enjoy this one.  The story has a familiar feel and with shades of Harry, Narnia and even Tolkien, this is a book full of magical, mystical creatures and time travel, and there is definitely a British flavor to it. 

The story has something for everyone and Kate, Michael and Emma are terrific characters. I think I liked Michael the best!  Dr. Pym is their mysterious benefactor and Gabriel is Emma's hero.  There are evil wizards and good wizards. There are dwarves and witches and battles with swords and weapons. And there are three children who must discover their own destinies as they save the world. 

The book is aimed at the middle grades (ages 6-12).  I'm waiting for The Boy to read it and write a review as well.

This is the first novel in the Books of Beginning series and it will be available in April.  Thanks to Random House Children's Books (through Shelf Awareness) for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about John Stephens here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, February 18, 2011

Without a Word...Review

About the book:
Without a Word is a riveting memoir that blends remarkable achievement with passion, sacrifice, love, pain, and human interest. It takes the reader into the lives of a celebrity couple, Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, and his wife, Jill, to reveal the Kelly family's private struggle and how eight and a half years with their severely disabled, terminally ill son, Hunter, unfolded in a redemptive and transforming manner. The light of Hunter's love through his brief and silent life shone into the shadowed corners of Jill and Jim's lives resulting in Jill believing that Jesus Christ was authentic, her learning to forgive Jim of past indiscretions, and finally resulting in Jim's seeking and finding God. Lessons gleaned from Hunter's life and death, and Jim and Jill's struggle to save their marriage during tumultuous times, make this a compelling and inspiring read.

The Kellys are fairly honest in sharing their experiences and there is no doubt that this little boy was the light of their world.

Jill devoted 8 years to caring for her son, which is commendable, but she virtually ignored her husband during that time.  I wish the book had more of Jim in it and less of Jill. He shares a few things, but this would be a richer, fuller memoir if we knew more about his perspective and experiences during Hunter's life.  The book presumes to be about Hunter, but really it's all about Jill and how she managed everything.

I'm not sure what I expected, but I didn't come away very inspired and I ended up skimming through a lot of it. Having a child who suffers from a debilitating, terminal illness is a strain on any life and marriage.  In a marriage where the couple doesn't know how to communicate, situations like this one can destroy it.  Finding God, however, is what finally sustained and helped Jill and Jim.  That they are still together is a testament to the ability to forgive and serious marital counseling.  

I commend them for using their experience and celebrity to help families dealing with this disease and to raise awareness and research funding for it.

Thanks to Valerie Russo and FaithWords for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Jill Kelly here and Krabbe Leukodystrophy here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/11

* *
2/5 Stars

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Season of Miracles...Review

About the book:
Looking back on the 1971 Little League season, Zack Ross relives the summer that changed his life...Gunning for the championship is all that matters until twelve-year-old Zack meets Rafer, a boy whose differences make him an outcast but whose abilities on the baseball field make him the key to victory.  Admired for his contributions to the team, Rafer turns everyone's expectations upside down, bestowing a gift on Zack and his teammates that forces them to think--is there more to life than winning and losing?  And what is this thing called grace?

Written as a memoir, this is a book of fiction, and I wish it was a true story.  I wish Zack was out there somewhere, coaching Little League as an adult.  I loved his character.  I loved the entire Robins baseball team.  These were fantastic boys.  Not perfect by any means and in so many ways, your typical 5th and 6th graders.  But, as they come together to play baseball, they learn so much more.

When Zack sees the potential that Rafer has when it comes to baseball, he convinces his coach and teammates to put Rafer on the team. The baseball season that follows is unlike any they will experience again as they learn about teamwork and the worth of others.  Rafer's autism permits him to see the world differently and his ability to teach his teammates about life and God is remarkable.  But, it's truly a coming of age for Zack and he learns about true friendship, love for others and the role God plays in his life.

Those who love the game of baseball will treasure this novel for the memories it invokes and those who don't will certainly appreciate it for the heartwarming, moving story it is.  Rusty Whitener has written a grand slam.  I can't recommend it enough.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Kregel for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Rusty Whitener here.  You can read the first chapter here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/10

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I'm Outnumbered!: One Mother's Lessons in the Lively Art of Raising Boys...Review

About the book:
Boy #1 is a blessing. Boy #2 is a joy. But what happens with boy #3? And what if there is a #4? Or more? Suddenly, Mom is outnumbered. Throw Dad into the mix, and you have enough testosterone to chase Mom out the front door and keep her on the run from dawn to dusk.

A father can tell you a lot about raising boys. Researchers and psychologists can give you a lot of statistics and advice. Other parenting books can generalize. But only a mom of all boys can really explain what life is like when you are surrounded by men. 

From one "boy-mom" to another, I'm Outnumbered! offers sound advice and encouragement for every mom who has more than one son, even if there's a girl in the mix. Author Laura Lee Groves has raised four redheaded boys and has lived—in fact loves—to tell about it. Her strategy of intentional parenting (guiding moms to see their role as proactive parents) has been gleaned from her own experience, from other boy-moms, and from parenting experts. Her combination of personal anecdotes and authoritative research will show boy-moms how to:
  • handle sibling rivalry
  • foster leadership and teamwork
  • combat conflict
  • stay organized
  • love them unconditionally
  • and much more
Laced with touching and humorous stories, this practical manual provides encouragement, inspiration, and information—especially for the outnumbered mom.

I'm a mom of boys and the only female in my home.  Sometimes I do feel outnumbered!  While I don't have 4 boys, I do have two.  And, often, I have a handful of others, as our house is the gathering place of the neighborhood.  In many ways I can relate to Laura Lee Groves and some of her experiences, and I thoroughly enjoyed her book.

This isn't a giant parenting tome.  It's a short, easily read Christian book filled with insights, personal experiences and scriptural references about parenting.  Laura speaks openly about the importance of prayer in a mother's daily life.  Christian principles are reinforced.  There are practical tips and suggestions.

This is a book that isn't read quickly.  There are many, many great references and a terrific notes/reference section at the back.  The section of Laura's boys' insights is fascinating, as is the section specifically for dads.  I want to reread the book, this time with a high-lighter. A terrific addition to any parenting library and a great gift for new parents. 

Thanks to First Wildcard  You can learn more about Laura Lee Groves here.  You can read the first chapter here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure & Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country...Previews

About the book:
The hero, Zan-Gah seeks his lost twin in a savage prehistoric world, encountering suffering, captivity, conflict, love, and triumph. In three years, Zan-Gah passes from an uncertain boyhood to a tried and proven manhood and a position of leadership among his people. Themes: survival, cultures, gender roles, psychological trauma, nature's wonders and terrors.

About the book:
The prehistoric saga continues in Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, the sequel to the award winning Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure. In this story, Zan's troubled twin brother, Dael, having suffered greatly during his earlier captivity, receives a ruinous new shock when his wife suddenly dies. Disturbed and traumatized, all of his manic energies explode into acts of hostility and bloodshed. His obsession is the destruction of the wasp men, his first captors, who dwell in the Beautiful Country. When he, Zan-Gah, and a band of adventurers trek to their bountiful home, they find that all of the wasp people have died in war or of disease. The Beautiful Country is empty for the taking, and Zan s people, the Ba-Coro, decide to migrate and resettle there. But the Noi, Dael s cruelest enemies and former tormentors, make the same migration from their desert home, and the possibility develops of contention and war over this rich and lovely new land.

About the author:
ZAN-GAH author Allan Richard Shickman conceived Zan's adventure after thousands of miles of travel through mountains, deserts and forest land. The idea for this exciting story was born in a cave deep beneath the earth—in the company of hundreds of bats.

Allan is an artist, teacher, actor, author, historian, gardener, and former Boy Scout. He has published articles in The Art Bulletin, Art History, English Literary Renaissance, Studies in English Literature: 1500-1900, Notes and Queries, and Colby Quarterly. He was also Art and Music Bibliographer for Shakespeare Quarterly. He has had many letters in various newspapers, including a dozen in The New York Times. Allan taught the history of art at the University of Northern Iowa for three decades. He now lives and writes in St. Louis.

Thanks to Bonnie Lenz of Earthshaker Books for the opportunity to preview these books. You can find out more about them here. Look for reviews by the boy to follow at a later date.  In the meantime, you can purchase your own copies here and here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How do you tuck in a Superhero?...Review

About the book:
When Rachel Balducci looks for material for her writing, she doesn't have to look far. Her subject matter can be found climbing through the window, hanging on to the edge of the roof, and always at the refrigerator. Here she chronicles the exuberant, awesome life of boys through conversations overheard, rules she's been forced to make, and the many episodes of boy behavior that continue to mystify mothers worldwide. From the care and feeding of her team, to travels out in public, to their wide-eyed adoration of Walker, Texas Ranger, this laugh-out-loud celebration joyfully explores the sweet and wild side of boyhood.

A lot of fun, both the book and the boys! I have two, very lively boys of my own and I grew up in a family of all girls. Boys are different, so very different!

This isn't a how to be a better parent book. It's a give yourself a break and laugh a little book. Rachel simply shares some delightful vignettes about her life raising boys. Some people will relate because they have many children, some will relate because they have boys, and some will relate simply because they know what it's like to be a parent. This is a short little book that can be read in one sitting, or it's something you can just pick up and read a bit or two.

It truly is a celebration of the joys of raising boys.

Available April 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to Donna Hausler of Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Rachel Balducci here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 4/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, March 25, 2010

We the Children...Review

About the book:
One secret mission. One secret Society. Once chance to save their school from total destruction.

Benjamin Pratt's harbor-side school is going to be bulldozed to make room for an amusement park. It sounds like a dream come true ... or is it more like a nightmare? Something about the plan seems fishy, and Lyman, the new assistant janitor, seems even fishier. When Ben and his friend, Jill, start digging for answers, they find things that the people with money and power don't want them to see. Could the history hidden deep within an old school building actually overthrow a thirty-million-dollar real-estate deal? and how far will the developers go to keep that from happening? Ben and Jill are about to discover just how dangerous a little knowledge can be.

The first of the Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School series, for ages 9-12.

An appealing story. Ben is not only a great kid you can really like, but he's smart and kind too. And, despite the fact that his parents have separated, he's trying to understand and not let their pending divorce get to him.

When the school janitor entrusts Ben with a secret and gives him a mysterious warning about defending his school, the curious sixth grader decides to investigate his school's history. He and his friend Jill solve some mysteries and uncover more.

This is definitely the first of a series, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I did wish for a little more substance. However, it sets up the premise very well and I loved the 18th century seafaring origins of the school and the mysterious Keepers of the School. I have no idea how many books are planned, but I anxiously await the next one!

I think upper elementary and middle school kids would love this. If the boy reads it, I'll have him review it as well.

To be released April 2010. Thanks to Simon & Shuster for the opportunity to review this delightful book. You can learn more about the book here. You can learn more about Andrew Clements here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 3/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, March 5, 2010

Holes...Review by the Boy

About the book:
Stanley Yelnats was given a choice. The judge said, "You may go to jail, or you may go to Camp Green Lake." Stanley was from a poor family. He had never been to camp before.

And so, Stanley Yelnats seems set to serve an easy sentence, which is only fair because he is as innocent as you or me. But Stanley is not going where he thinks he is. Camp Green Lake is like no other camp anywhere. It is a bizarre, almost otherworldly place that has no lake and nothing that is green. Nor is it a camp, at least not the kind of camp kids look forward to in the summertime. It is a place that once held "the largest lake in Texas," but today it is only a scorching desert wasteland, dotted with countless holes dug by the boys who live at the camp.

The trouble started when Stanley was accused of stealing a pair of shoes donated by basketball great Clyde "Sweetfeet" Livingston to a celebrity auction. In court, the judge doesn't believe Stanley's claim that the shoes fell from the sky onto his head. And yet, that's exactly what happened. Oddly, though, Stanley doesn't blame the judge for falsely convicting him. Instead, he blames the whole misadventure on his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather." Thanks to this benighted distant relative, the Yelnats family had been cursed for generations. For Stanley, his current troubles are just a natural part of being a Yelnats.

At Camp Green Lake, the warden makes the boys "build character" by spending all day, every day, digging holes: five feet wide and five feet deep. It doesn't take long for Stanley to realize there's more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the treacherous warden is searching for something, and before long Stanley begins his own search—for the truth.

Fate conspires to resolve it all—the family curse, the mystery of the holes, the drought that destroyed Green Lake, and also, the legend of Kissing Kate Barlow, an infamous outlaw of the Wild West. The great wheel of justice has ground slowly for generations, but now it is about to reveal its verdict.

Not recommended at all. All it is about, is a kid who gets arrested for a false crime and then gets sent to a camp. Every day, the kids in camp have to dig a hole to build character. All the counselors want to do is find is a very old case of jewels. At end of the book, the author fills up five pages of basically nothing at all. Half a star.

You can learn more about the book and Louis Sachar here.  If you'd like, you can purchase your own copy here.

School copy.

Read 2/10

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dinosaurs for Kids...Review

About the book:
A powerful new children's book from Answers in Genesis president and founder Ken Ham!

Dinosaurs are a fascination for children - and a wonderful opportunity to share biblical history! Ken presents an easy to understand timeline for youngsters in helping to put these amazing creatures into a realistic perspective! With seven "Fs" to guide the way, Ken shares the true story of these amazing creatures and how they fit perfectly into the study of history, Genesis, the flood of Noah, and their discovery in modern times.My dinosaur-obsessed 9 year old loves it, mostly for the terrific graphics. I found it educational and fascinating for the non-evolutionary stand it takes and the biblical examples and scriptural references used.

While parts are a bit preachy, the book is well written for a child's level. The language is simple, but rich and the graphics and illustrations are beautiful. Ken Ham even provides discussion points for those who might disagree with the perspective of dinosaurs and the Creation.

Overall, a refreshing look at the unique world of dinosaurs from a unique perspective. I think it is a book that definitely needs to be read together as parent and child, because of the potential for discussions and lessons learned.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Robert Parrish of New Leaf Press for the opportunity to review this book. You can read the first chapter here. You can learn more about Ken Ham here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/10

* * *
3/5 Stars

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Believe in Santa Claus...Review

About the book:
Finally, a book that says it's OK to believe in Santa Claus, yet shows how this time honored symbol is meant to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas.

I love this gem of a book. It's very short and very simple, but it draws a beautiful parallel between Santa Claus and Jesus Christ. With beautiful illustrations and explanations of the symbols of Christmas, this is a wonderful addition to any collection of Christmas books. Fun for children to look at and easy for them to read. Santa Claus is a wonderful symbol of Christmas and I, for one, believe in Santa Claus.

You can purchase your own copy here.

Personal copy reread 12/09

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thanksgiving at the Inn...Review

About the book:
Ever since his mother left, life has't been easy for Heath Wellington III. Between his father's (Junior's) bouts with alcoholism and literary rejection, and Heath's own wrongful suspension from school, there hasn't been all that much to be thankful for.

But following the tragic death of estranged grandfather Senior, father and son alike stand to inherit a life-changing fortune . . . with one catch.
Heath and Junior must spend the next three months managing Senior's bed and breakfast, located in the same Massachusetts home Junior has spent the last eight years trying to escape.

Upended from his everyday life and relocated to a town where everyone knew and loved the grandfather he can't even remember, Heath finds an inn full of some of the strangest people he's ever met, such as:

* Winsted, the old, wise Jamaican man who used to lead the prayers in Senior's factory;

* Mrs. Farrel, an elderly woman giving away her late husband's fortune letter by letter;

* Mustang Sally, the muscle-bound, tattooed grease monkey who doubles as a children's author;

* And Carter, the silent TV news junkie and secret Harvard graduate.

And, at a nearby school is Savannah, Junior's first love, and her adorable, autistic daughter, Tori.

But most of all, there's Junior himself, vinegar to Heath's oil. As Heath adjusts to his new world, what he needs most is to start anew with his father, to understand that Junior, too, is dealing with loss, and to realize that, even in the most tragic of times, there's a lot in life to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving at the Inn is a beautiful story of family and forgiveness, and a sure holiday classic. Tim Whitney's fantastic, heartwarming debut is one you'll want to read with the whole family for years and years to come.

Heath is a delightful, thoughtful boy who struggles with finding his place in life. He craves his father's love, but all Junior can seem to do is criticize and neglect him. Like many fathers and sons, Heath and Junior butt heads and can't seem to get along, and Junior's own struggle with alcoholism and finding his own place in life, doesn't help the situation. Once Heath and his father arrive at the inn, however, Heath finds the family he's always dreamed about having, even as his own father grows more distant. The other residents take him in and, from them, he begins to learn about love and gratitude, and even begins to understand his father a little better.

I think that this is a terrific book to read any time of year, but it's particularly heartwarming to read during the holidays when gratitude and family are at the forefront of people's lives. While the target audience is middle school age, it is certainly a book for all ages. I loved Heath and Winstead and Sally. I found the characters fairly well developed and certainly likeable. Some might say the story is predictable, but I loved the lessons that Heath and his father learned: the true meaning of gratitude; that family is important; and being there for someone else really just might make a difference.

This was a charming novel and a terrific debut for Tim Whitney.

Thanks to Harrison Demchick of Bancroft Press for the opportunity to review this book. You can purchase your own copy of this terrific book here.

Read 12/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Close Encounters of the Third Grade Kind...Preview

About the book:
A twenty-year veteran of the classroom, elementary school teacher Phillip Done takes readers through a lively and hilarious year in the classroom. Starting with the relative calm before the storm of buying school supplies and posting class lists, he shares the distinct personalities of grades K-4, what he learned from two professional trick or treating 8-year-old boys, the art of learning cursive and letter-writing, how kindergartners try to trap leprechauns, and what every child should experience before he or she grows up.

These charming, sweet, and funny tales of Mr. Done's trials and triumphs as an award-winning schoolteacher will touch readers' hearts and remind them of the true joys of childhood. We all have that one special, favorite grade school teacher whom we fondly remember throughout our adult lives - and every teacher also has students whom they will never forget. This is the perfect book for teachers, parents, and anyone else who is looking for a lighthearted, nostalgic read.

About the author:
Phillip Done knows it is a child’s birthday without looking at the calendar, that broken candy canes do not taste as good as unbroken ones, that peanut M&Ms spark in the microwave (Peeps do not), and that measuring the diameter of an Oreo cookie is more fun than measuring the diameter of a coffee can lid. After pumping up his 500th red rubber ball, he decided it was time to write it all down. Hence, 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny and Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind: Thoughts on Teacherhood were born.

A veteran of twenty-plus years in the classroom, Done is a five-time champion of the staff watermelon-eating contest and was nominated for the Disney Teacher of the Year Award. He took a pie in the face at this year’s school talent show and was honored as a Teacher of the Year in California. When not searching for envelopes for newly pulled teeth or making rain parkas out of Hefty bags on rainy field trips, Phil accepted the prestigious Charles Schwab Distinguished Teacher Award from Charles Schwab himself. (He refrained from asking Mr. Schwab if Intel was a good buy.)

Born in San Jose, California, he grew up in Sunnyvale, attended Fremont High School, and studied music and education at San Jose State University. He currently lives in Mountain View, California. His passions are teaching, old movies, and garage sales. His writing has also appeared in Real Simple, Instructor, Parent and Child, and NEA Today.
Thanks to Anna Balasi of Hatchette Book Group for the opportunity to tour this book. You can learn more about Phillip Done here. You can purchase your own copy of this book here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Call Me Francis Tucket...Review by the Boy

About the book:
Alone. Francis Tucket now feels more confident that he can handle almost anything. A year ago, on the wagon train, he was kidnapped from his family by a Pawnee hunting party. Then he escaped with the help of the mountain man, Mr. Grimes. Now that he and Mr. Grimes have parted ways, Francis is heading west on his Indian pony, crossing the endless prairie, trying to find his family.

After a year with Mr. Grimes, Francis has learned to live by the harsh code of the wilderness. He can cause a stampede, survive his own mistakes, and face up to desperadoes. But when he rescues a little girl and her younger brother, Francis takes on more than he bargained for.

Another terrific review from E, my avid 11-year old reader. He dictated it so, for the most part, these are his words.
At the end of the first book, Francis' friend, Mr. Grimes has killed a famous Pawnee Warrior, named Raid, in a fight. (Raid was going to kill Mr. Grimes anyway.) Francis is mad that Mr. Grimes killed the Indian and goes off on his own. Francis learns that he doesn’t want to be mountain man like Mr. Grimes.

Francis heads to Oregon to find his family. When he is hunting, he finds two kids named Lottie and Billy. They were part of a different wagon train and their dad got Cholera and they had to go off on their own. Their dad when looking for food and never came back, because he died. Francis actually finds his body.

Francis takes the kids with him, but it's hard for him to take care of them. They meet a farmer who offers to keep Lottie and Billy, so they can work for him. They thought he was a nice man and wanted to stay. Francis offers to stay, but the man says he doesn't need his help. After Francis leaves, he realizes that the man probably wasn't very nice. When he goes back to get them, he finds out that the man was beating Lottie and Billy, because they weren't working hard enough. Francis takes the kids away again.

They can't go straight to Oregon from Louisiana, so they take a different route and end up in Mexico, and almost get hanged by a Mexican border chief. A nice guard lets them go free and that's how this story ends.

This is book 2 in a five book series. This was a really good book. It was exciting, with never a dull moment, just like the first one.
Personal copy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mr. Tucket...Review by the Boy

About the book:
Fourteen-year-old Francis Tucket is heading west on the Oregon Trail with his family by wagon train. When he receives a rifle for his birthday, he is thrilled that is being treated like an adult. But Francis lags behind to practice shooting and is captured by Pawnees. It will take wild horses, hostile tribes, and a mysterious one-armed mountain man named Mr. Grimes to help Francis become the man who will be called Mr. Tucket.

Another review from E, my avid 11-year old reader. He dictated it so, for the most part, these are his words.

Francis Tucket and his family are traveling on the Oregon Trail, with a wagon train, to their new home in Oregon. Francis' father gives him a Lancaster rifle for his birthday. Francis goes out to shoot, when he gets captured by Pawnee Indians. The Indians take him to their camp. An old Indian woman makes Francis her slave.

A trader named Mr. Grimes comes to the camp and helps Francis escape. Francis decides to go on an adventure with Mr. Grimes. Mr. Grimes teaches Francis how to survive in the wilderness and how to trap beavers.

The book is exciting and interesting. It's not scary but there is never a dull moment. This is the first book in a 5 book series about Francis Tucket.
Personal copy.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Doctor Who; The Darksmith Legacy, Book 1: The Dust of Ages...Review by the Boy

About the book:
The Doctor arrives just in time to lend a helping hand to a survey team of scientists drilling beneath the Moon's surface to discover the cause of an unusual power source. The adventure continues with deadly lunar dust and a Crystal that has been lost for centuries...Unfortunately it's just what the Darksmiths have been looking for and they have dispatched an Agent to recover it. At any cost.

This amazing ten-book series follows the Doctor on his exciting journey to discover the origins of the so-called Eternity Crystal and the powerful artisans who have created it — The Darksmiths.

This review is from E, my avid 11-year old reader. He dictated it so, for the most part, these are his words.
A phenomenal book! One of the best I’VE READ. Justin Richards is an awesome writer.

A mysterious signal causes the Doctor to land on the moon. There he meets Bobby, an archaeologist; Professor Dollund, who is in charge of the base; and Clinton Seymour, the chief technician. These people have found a new, unknown power source and the Doctor goes with them to find out more about it. Along the way they discover a dust that can kill and an evil agent sent from the people called, The Darksmiths.

The book is complicated like the episodes, like when the Doctor talks 90 miles an hour and then looks at you strangely when you don't understand him!

This is the first book and there are 10 books in the series. I can't wait to read the rest!
Personal copy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Sword and The Flute...Review

About the book:
The first book in the Matterhorn the Brave series finds Matthew Horn summoned to First Realm by the Sword of Truth. In the process, his trip through a portal instantly matures him to adulthood. He will need all of his new muscles to stay alive when he goes with veteran Traveler Aaron the Baron to medieval Ireland.

Their mission? To find Ian’s Flute, one of the Ten Talis hidden on Earth by the king of First Realm. But the Flute has been stolen from the leprechauns and sold to a treacherous pirate. In their pursuit of the sacred object, Matterhorn and the Baron come up against kidnappers, arsonists, bounty hunters, wraiths and the shadowy Bonehand. The only thing more exciting than the quest is what it leads to next!

Fantastic! The first in the Matterhorn the Brave series, The Sword and the Flute introduces us to Matthew Horn, a typical daydreaming 12-year old who imagines himself on many grand adventures. Matt loves to read and one day, finds an unusual book in his school library. As he leafs through the pages, a portal opens up and Matt finds himself traveling through time on a new adventure in medieval Ireland. Armed with the Sword of Truth and alongside his new friend, Aaron the Baron, Matterhorn must find a missing magical flute.

Matt and Aaron are normal boys who rise to the occasion and find strength and courage to accomplish the tasks set before them. Filled with adventure and danger, this is a terrific, fun book. I found it clever, well-written and exciting.

My 11-year old son is currently reading The Sword and The Flute and has decreed that we need to acquire the sequels as soon as possible! I agree wholeheartedly.

Thanks to First Wildcard for the opportunity to read this book. You can read the first chapter here. You can learn more about Mike Hamel here and here.

Read 7/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Tutu Ballet...Review

About the book:
Ms. Berry, the ballet teacher, is given a talented group of students. The students do not always do what Ms. Berry instructs them to do. What will Ms. Berry do? A ballet emerges that suits the talents of her students and it is the best ballet ever. It is a story about tolerance, patience, creativity, teamwork, and love. 

A sweet little story about a ballet class where each member wants to do their own thing, but the teacher creates a ballet that highlights each animal's strength. Each animal has their own talent, but the message is that everyone wins when they work together to create the final ballet.

The pastel illustrations are lovely, but the font type is very difficult to read. Better for girls than boys. My son didn't want to read it, but I gave my ARC to my 5-year old niece and she was thrilled with it.

Thanks to the author for the opportunity to review this book.  You can purchase your own copy here.
Read 6/09

* * *
3/5 Stars

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Side-Yard Superhero...Review

About the book:
'I know where Bernie Jones is.'With one late-night phone call, Rick Niece is transported back over forty years to cherished childhood memories of small town DeGraff, Ohio. His daily newspaper route, the sights and wonders of a traveling carnival, the sounds of Christmas caroling-the idyllic memories all circle back to one special relationship.To Rickie, being friends with Bernie Jones was no different than being friends with any other boy in town. Bernie's physical world was confined to a wheelchair, but that didn't stop him from being an intrepid daydreamer, adventurer, and hero to Rickie. The unique friendship the boys forged defined an era in both their lives. When he left for college, Rickie promised Bernie they would meet again. Now, decades later, he is making the pilgrimage back to Ohio to fulfill that promise.   

The Side-Yard Superhero is subtitled, "Life in DeGraff: An Automythography". Author Rick Niece defines an "automythography" as, a work of non-fiction that looks reflectively at what we think we remember and how we think we remember it; an iridescent memory based upon truth and fact. This charming memoir is all that and more.

Dr. Rick Niece is the President of the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas and here he describes his childhood in DeGraff, Ohio. His family moved to the small town of DeGraff when Rick was 4 and they moved 16 years later. DeGraff provided the quintessential childhood: paper routes, freedom to run and play, creeks to explore and unguarded swimming holes. It also provided life changing lessons and friendships. Chief among those was Rick's friendship with Bernie Jones, a boy confined to a wheelchair because of Cerebral Palsy. An unlikely duo, Rick and Bernie formed a strong friendship and while Rick was able to occasionally take Bernie away from his to the side-yard existence, Bernie was able to provide an appreciation-of- life-perspective for Rick.

With moments of laugh out loud hilarity alternating with tender tear-filled moments, Dr. Niece has captured the oft-forgotten charms of small-town life. Reading this delightful novel, I found myself remembering my childhood and wishing that my own boys could know the freedoms that I did. Times and circumstances change, but The Side-Yard Superhero makes you long for those innocent days past, when neighbors knew neighbors, communities came together and little boys still had paper routes.

Thanks to Elizabeth McCurry and Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists for the opportunity to read this book. You can learn more about Rick Niece here. For additional reviews check out these great bloggers: bermudaonion, and This That and the Other Thing.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 5/09

* * * *

4/5 Stars

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Life is Tough - I Doubt I'll Make it Out Alive...Review

Welcome to another stop on the Life is Tough Virtual Tour and Life Saver Challenge, with Stacy Gooch-Anderson.

This was, quite simply, a delightful book about finding the joy in life. Stacy Gooch-Anderson, author of The Santa Letters, has written a book of humorous vignettes about the ups and downs of motherhood and life in general.

Stacy shares 28 lessons that she has learned over the course of her life, and with each lesson we see how she, not only, grew from the experience, but changed her perspective.

With lessons like, "Life is like a roller coaster. You can scream every time you hit a bump or throw up your arms and enjoy the ride" to "Sometimes it's better to leap first and then look. The view might scare you otherwise", we learn that humor is the best way to deal with life's challenges.

Stacy has taken her life is tough concept and recognized that we all need "life savers" in our lives to help us make it through. That life saver could be a person helping you out, or a thought that brightens your day and gives you something to ponder. On her blog, Stayin' Alive With Stacy, she provides a daily "life saver" or gem of wisdom. All are funny, but thought-provoking and true.

To learn more about Stacy, find the other tour stops and book reviews, and see the daily life saver, please visit Stacy's blog. You can purchase your own copy of Life is Tough from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Deseret Book or Seagull Book.

Read 4/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars