Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Review - The Chronicles of Harris Burdick

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the TalesThe Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales by Chris Van Allsburg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Thirty years ago a man called at Peter Wender's office, introducing himself as Harris Burdick. Mr. Burdick explained that he had written fourteen stories and had drawn many pictures for each one. He'd brought with him just one drawing from each story, to see if Wenders liked his work." Thus begins The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. The introduction goes on to tell us that Harris Burdick was never heard from again. But what he left were 14 amazing drawings (eerily similar to Van Allsburg's own) to muse and ponder over for the next 25+ years. Now, an amazing group of fantasy writers have come together to give us the stories they feel go with these illustrations. From a house that blasts off into the unknown one day - to a dust bunny run amuck, we are treated to an astounding collection of imaginings worth of the mystery of Harris Burdick.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Another Reading Challenge - Why Buy the Cow

I have taken up yet another reading challenge for 2012 - Why Buy the Cow sponsored by The Unread Reader. 

  It is to read as many FREE legal downloaded ebooks as I can in the year 2012.  I have become a download nut recently.  Anytime I see FREE I grab it.  I don't care what genre it is.  So this is a great challenge for me.  To join click on this link: http://www.theunreadreader.com/2011/12/why-buy-cow-reading-challenge-2012.html

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Review - Spotty, Stripy, Swirly by Jane Brocket

Spotty, Stripy, Swirly: What Are Patterns?Spotty, Stripy, Swirly: What Are Patterns? by Jane Brocket
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Spotty, stripy, swirly - patterns are everywhere. You can find them in flowers. You can find them in food. You can even find them in socks. All you need to do is look around you to find patterns in everything. With colorful, eye-catching pictures of everything from tea cozies to sunlit benches, Jane Brocket shows us what a pattern is; how patterns are made; and how patterns can be simple or complex. This book will have your child running around finding patterns in everything.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Book Review - The House on Dirty-Third Street by Jo S. Kittinger

The House on Dirty-Third StreetThe House on Dirty-Third Street by Jo S. Kittinger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When a young girl and her mother move into their "new" house, all the young girl can see are run-down, old homes all along the street, including the new one they are about to move into. She quickly dubbs her new street "Dirty-Third Street." But her mother sees the house through the eyes of faith and hope: clean and full of new friends. After joining a church down the street, the girl is soon surprised when neighbors and friends from their new church help to make this vision a reality.
The artwork in this story is amazing. While the whole book is done in beautiful watercolors, when the book begins we see grays, dark blues, tans and washed-out yellows. But as the story progresses, the colors soon change to bright yellows, bright blues, greens and reds. In the end, the house which was originally gray and drab, becomes a neat, colorful home complete with flowers. The message of the book is also shown through the changes in the coloration as the little girl's faith in her fellow man is brought to life by the help of neighbors and new friends from church.

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Book Review - Dino-Basketball by Lisa Wheeler

Dino-basketball (Carolrhoda Picture Books)Dino-basketball by Lisa Wheeler

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Dinos dunk and dinos score as we watch the dinos run up and down the floor. This is March Madness dino style. The colorful pictures keep the action of Dino Basketball fast and furious. Who is going to win this close scoring basketball game - Clippers (the grass eaters) or Meat (the meat eaters) - it is anyone's guess.

Fast paced like a real basketball game this book flows very quickly. The dinosaurs are colorful but a little confusing. It was hard to tell which dinosaur the author was speaking about. I know several little boys who would have been able to tell me right away, but not being quite the dinosaur fan, I was unable to relate the cartoonish dinosaurs to the realistic ones I have seen in other books. The only other thing about this book which turned me off was the use of the term "Meat" for one of the team names. I know they are the meat eaters but it just rang wrong with me.

I would recommend Dino Basketball for all those young dinosaur enthusiast who have exhausted the other dinosaur books.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Review - The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

The Goddess TestThe Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Kate Winters has taken her ailing mother home to upstate Michigan to die. It is a long way from New York City where she spent the first 18 years of her life. There are no Starbucks, Taco Bells, not even a McDonald's. It is what her mother wishes and that is what counts to Kate. So now Kate is starting over in a new house, new city and new school. This is not all Kate is having to face. After a tragedy with a new friend causes Kate to make promises she is not sure she can keep, Kate finds herself having to handle challenges even a goddess might not be able to pass. She must aid a mysterious man named Henry in a trial whose ultimate outcome could be immortality.
I find myself with quite a dilemma. While I really wanted to like this book, I could not stop thinking how the whole plot felt forced. I did not feel the love between Kate and Henry. Nor did I find myself even caring if Kate made it through the trials or not. It was all very artifical feeling. So I am sorry to say I did not enjoy this book like I thought I would.

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Book Review - Yesterday I Had the Blues by Jeron Ashford Frame

Yesterday I Had the BluesYesterday I Had the Blues by Jeron Ashford Frame

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Yesterday I had the blues... but today I got the greens." What does having the blues mean? How do you have the greens anyway? Frame brings us a whole rainbow of colors to feel in this wonderful story of one boy, his family and their range of moods and emotions.
This books screams to be read aloud. Read aloud in a slow, soulful voice. I loved it enough to read outloud in the middle of the Children's Department so everyone could hear me. Everyone nodded their heads in agreement as they listened to all the different descriptions of the moods - blue, green, gray, etc. I think we all have felt each different description at one time or another. But the best part is the ending - "the kind of family makes you feel like it's all golden." RIGHT ON!!!

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Mystery & Suspense Challenge 2012

Even though I love children & YA books, my first big love has always been mysteries. So I am going to enter Book Chick City's Mystery & Suspense Challenge for 2012 to see if I can keep up with the type of books that got me reading in the first place. Believe it or not, I was reading Happy Hollisters, Alfred Hitchcock & even some Ellery Queen way before I found out about Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew. They were actually kind of lame after reading Ellery Queen!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. My resolution to sit back and read while my now grown daughter cooked also came and went. While she is a wonderful cook, it is so very hard for me to just sit back and watch and not jump in to help as well as add my "way" of doing things. Plus it was at my home and after a few near misses, I was concerned about my cooking equipment. So I got a total of 1 book read this weekend. I am not happy with myself about this. I will be stronger in my resolve for Christmas!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Book Review - Croak by Gina Damico

Croak (Croak, #1)Croak by Gina Damico

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lexington Bartlby is having a bad day. Well, make that a bad year. Okay, make that a bad two years. Since she turned 14, two years ago, Lexi has been working very hard to turn her squeaky,clean image into one of a troubled, trouble-making teen. The problem is, Lexi just can't figure out why she is doing the things she does. Lexi's parents have put up with the fighting, swearing, and even petty thieving that have become everyday occurrences around the Bartlby house. But with her senior year staring her in the face, they have decide it is time for a change. For Lexi this means being shipped off to Croak to live with her Uncle Mort. When Lexi hits Croak, she quickly finds out Uncle Mort has an agenda of his own. He is going to train Lexi in the family business, reaping souls. Lexi soon finds out there are worse things out there than her.
I really enjoyed this book. However, for the first couple of chapters it is really hard to like Lexi no matter how much you try. There is no explanation as to why she is so bad. But once Uncle Mort roars in on his motorcycle things started to pick up. He gives back to Lexi as much as she dishes out. The other quirky characters who live in Croak also bring humor to the story. Through her interaction with them and Uncle Mort we see why Lexi acts as she does and gain understanding and a little more sympathy for her. I am now anxiously awaiting the next installment of Croak.
For teen readers 12+ due to violence and language.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Review - Agent Amelia: Zombie Cows by Michael Broad

Agent Amelia: Zombie Cows (Agent Amelia)Agent Amelia: Zombie Cows by Michael Broad

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Amelia Kidd is once again saving the world from evil geniuses and criminal masterminds. This time she is up against zombie cows; mad music teachers; and ex-supermodels turned bakers. With the help of her trusty backpack, crazy gadgets and truly terrific disguises, she foils her enemies plans for world domination time and time again. Always on the lookout for people carrying black briefcases (because evil geniuses and criminal masterminds always carry briefcases to keep their fiendish plans in) she protects the world day in and day out, even though she doesn't work for the government of anything.

Amelia is a fun character for those intermediate readers who may not be ready for Matilda just yet but want some adventure. With short chapters, these books are also good for emerging readers who want chapter books but are not ready for the longer fiction books. I recommend these books for ages 8 - 10.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Book Review - Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

WonderstruckWonderstruck by Brian Selznick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Clearly Brian Selznick has created his own type of storytelling. With the use of pictures and words, he takes us through a story that tugs at our heartstrings and makes us look at the world a whole lot differently than when we began reading Wonderstruck. Using pictures, he tells us the story of a young girl in 1927 Hoboken, New Jersey. Her emotions are so plainly drawn, we feel her fear and loneliness through the pages. Using text, Selznick also tells us the story of Ben, a young boy growing up in Gunflint Lake, Minnesota in 1977. Ben is also a lonely, frightened child who finds himself searching for where he belongs. Wielding his usual magic, Selznick carries through each child's story, bring them together in an ending which will make your heart sing and your eyes cry at the same time.
I recommend this book for people of all ages, old and young, who love a good story.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Book Review - Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic EyesPeter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Peter Nimble is a blind. Everyone knows that blind children make the best thieves. With keen ears that hear the smallest sound, and fingers that are nimble and small enough to slip in almost any lock, they are able to get in anywhere and get out before anyone notices they were there. Peter is the best of these thieves. As a matter of fact, he is the greatest thief who ever lived. And as an added bonus, Peter is an orphan with no parents to care about him or miss him. At first, Peter is forced to work for an evil man, who makes Peter steel treasure for him everyday. Until one day, Peter meets a mysterious man selling hats. This is where Peter's life changes and he is thrust into a fantastical world where an orphan thief just might be king.

I really, really enjoyed this book. At first, I was wondering about a book that opens with the line "Now, for those of you who know anything about blind children, you are aware they make the very best thieves" and describes ravens pecking out Peter's eyes. But as I read on, I became enamored of Peter and his plight. I quickly started rooting for Peter in his efforts to find his place in the world. With each new twist of the plot, I became more engrossed in the story. However, due to some of the bloodier content in the book, I would only recommend it for children 10 and up. This is an especially good book for boys who like adventure.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review - Animals in Fall: Preparing for Winter by Martha Rustad

Animals in Fall: Preparing for WinterAnimals in Fall: Preparing for Winter by Martha E. H. Rustad

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Animals in Fall: Preparing for Winter is an upgraded version of Martha Rustad's Animals in Fall. By changing the real-life photos to illustrations and adding more details to the text, this book has been bumped up from a picture book to an easy reader. The illustrations added are colorful and eye catching while not taking away from the text. Added informational text boxes allow for parent participation in reading this book with their children. The child can read the simple text on each of the subjects, while the parent can add the information contained in these text boxes. Adding new animals, information, and even an activity in which children can see what it feels like to have blubber, have boosted this books enjoyment level.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Book Review - Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer by Maureen McGowan

Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer (Twisted Tales, #2)Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer by Maureen McGowan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Princess Lucette's world is one of darkness and loneliness. Cursed at birth, Lucette is awake only during the night while the rest of the kingdom is asleep. To make matters worse, the one who cursed Lucette is the Vampire Queen of the neighboring kingdom. Now it is up to Lucette alone to defend her subjects during the night against vampire attacks. Will Lucette be able to keep her kingdom safe? Will she spend the rest of her life alone in the dark? You get to choose the path Lucette takes in this wonderful version of Sleeping Beauty. So choose well and maybe Princess Lucette will live happily ever after.

With wonderful characterization of the fairytale Sleeping Beauty, McGowen gives the old tale a new twist by adding vampires to the mix. Now instead of lying asleep waiting for the kiss of true love, Princess Lucette gets to stake a few vampires along the way. Which she does with great skill. Being able to choose which way the story goes allows the reader to read this wonderful story again and again, with the same outcome just different journeys getting there.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Review - Pinwheel Days by Ellen Tarlow

Pinwheel DaysPinwheel Days by Ellen Tarlow

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pinwheel the donkey likes peanut butter for lunch and playing hide-and-seek with his friends. Follow Pinwheel as he spends his days with his friends, Squirrel, Owl and Rabbit, playing and encountering the world around them. With colorful illustrations, Pinwheel takes us through a world of discovery which includes finding new friends and learning about fall.

This is a wonderful short chapter book for reading aloud or for beginning readers ready to move into chapter books. It is reminiscent of Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel. If your child has read all the Frog and Toad books, I would recommend they try Pinwheel Days next.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review - Invasion by Jon S. Lewis

Invasion (C.H.A.O.S., #1)Invasion by Jon S. Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Colt McAllister is the youngest of eight brothers, the last still at home with his mom and dad, and the one they call Runt. The summer Colt turns 16 his world turns upside down and inside out. It starts when he is almost wiped off his surf board by a strange squid-like creature. It gets worse when a police officer shows up the same day to tell Colt his parents have been killed in an automobile accident. The next thing Colt knows he is living with his grandfather in Arizona and going to a new school. The one saving grace is his friend Danielle, or Dani for short. When Colt learns his parents' deaths were not as accidental as he was told, Colt begins to piece together information that leads him down a path only found in his favorite comic books: heros who fly jet packs; villains who are shape-shifting aliens; and gateways between our world and others gallaxies maintained and guarded by a secret military agency called C.H.A.O.S.

For those of us who love sci-fi, the C.H.A.O.S. series is a welcomed addition to the genre. Geared to the tween and teen reader, Invasion invites us into a world filled with old-school,comic book heroes who are given modern weapons and ultralight, flying motorcycles and sent out to fight inter-galactic villains. At the same time, Colt faces everyday teenage dilemmas such as starting at a new school, meeting and making new friends, and finding out the one girl he really likes is already dating someone else.

I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the C.H.A.O.S. series to find out how Colt deals with what is coming next. For readers 10 and up.

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Book Review - Too Many Pears by Jackie French

Too Many PearsToo Many Pears by Jackie French

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pamela likes pears. She likes green pears, red pears and stewed pears with ice cream. But with Pamela liking pears so much, nobody else on the farm gets any pears. (Did I mention Pamela is a cow?) What can Amy do to get Pamela to stop eating all the pears?

This is a very, very funny book! Pamela is an enormous black and white cow, very reminiscent of illustrations in Sandra Boyton's books. This book is a wonderful way to relate to children the results of over-indulgence and the benefits of moderation. Although, I am not sure Pamela truly has learned that lesson.

I would recommend this book for children 3 - 7.

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book Review - Aliens on Vacation by Clete Barrett Smith

Aliens on VacationAliens on Vacation by Clete Barrett Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

David wants to spend his summer just practicing shooting hoops, laying by the pool and hanging with his friend Tyler. This might even the be the summer of his first kiss. But when his mom and dad are called away for work, he is shipped off to Washington, in the middle of the wilderness, to spend the summer with his grandmother. Now David, who goes by the name of Scrub, fears he might as well submit an application for town freak, because David's grandma isn't just living in the eternal hippie's Summer of Love, she also runs the Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast, which has no cable, no internet and no cell phone reception. Can things get any worse? For David, the weirdness is just beginning.

At first, given the title, I was not sure if this book would be a good read or not. But after the first encounter David has with an alien (the strange gray man) I was hooked. This book was fast paced and never lacked for action. David's character seems to mature before our eyes as he comes to understand his grandmother and her strange, but fascinating, guests. I found the book enjoyable and a fun read.

I would reccommend it for children ages 8 - 12.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book Review - The Great Moon Hoax by Stephen Krensky

The Great Moon Hoax (Carolrhoda Picture Books)The Great Moon Hoax by Stephen Krensky

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Buffalos on the moon? Volcanos erupting into vast oceans? In 1835, the New York Sun reported sightings of just such things. Charlie and Jake were delighted. As newsboys, selling the Sun was their only way of filling their pockets and filling their bellies. How well they did selling newspapers would determine if they slept on crates or in beds that night. So when the Sun reported herds of small animals much like bison roaming on the Moon's surface,and strange creatures rolling along the Moon's beaches, Charlie and Jake knew they were going to be eating and sleeping well. Follow Charlie and Jake through this exciting time as more and more astonishing sightings are reported in The Great Moon Hoax.

I enjoyed reading this book but really enjoyed the artwork that went into the pictures in the book. Their whimsicalness went along well with the idea of moon beaver and moon bison.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Book Review - I'd Choose You by John Trent

I'd Choose YouI'd Choose You by John T. Trent

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Poor little Norbert the Elephant comes home from school moping and drooping having had the worst day of his life. It seems no one wants to sit by him at school or pick him for their team in sports. But his mother reminds Norbert that there is someone who would pick him each and every time, for the rest of his life.
I'd Choose You reminds us, and every child who reads it, that although we have tough days, we are loved and blessed everyday just because of who we are. It is a book that will be pulled out and read over and over to those children who come home like Norbert: feeling like there is just no one who likes them. The only thing Norbert doesn't do when he gets home is eat some worms, like in the song - "Nobody likes me; everybody hates me; I'm going to eat some worms."

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Book Review - No Place Like Holmes by Jaosn Lethcoe

No Place Like HolmesNo Place Like Holmes by Jason Lethcoe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Move over Sherlock Holmes, Griffin Sharpe is in the house! "How did Griffin Sharpe get his limp? Did he really meet Sherlock Holmes? Is it true that he carried a walking stick that belonged to the greatest villain in history?" These are questions which start the book No Place Like Holmes by Jason Lethcoe.

We meet Griffin Sharpe in the year 1903, on his way to meet his uncle who resides at 221 Baker Street, London. Could Griffin be the nephew of the great detective Sherlock Holmes? Griffin has long been wishing for someone with a mind like his own: a mind which notices everything and stores it for later use. Maybe Sherlock Holmes will be the answer to his prayers. Or maybe not...

I am a Sherlockian - someone who loves Sherlock Holmes stories with a passion. I like to believe he was a real person - out there somewhere solving crimes, maybe in an alternate reality or something. I read everything Sherlockian, and have even watched the cartoon Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century. So I was very happy to find another book in which Sherlock Holmes plays a role, even if it is not the major role. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Griffin, a younger character who rivals Sherlock in wit and intelligence. But with Griffin we get someone who has a softer heart which makes him even more love-able.

Along with a sympathetic character, Lethcoe gives us a fast paced plot which grabbed and kept my attention throughout the entire story. The action is carried along with just enough inner dialog to reveal Griffin's thought processes, but not so much a reader will lose interest. I am hoping Griffin will lead younger readers to the great genre of mystery, and eventually to the master himself.

I am looking forward to a sequel in which we meet the estimable Griffin Sharpe again.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Book Review - The Seer of Shadows by Avi

The Seer of ShadowsThe Seer of Shadows by Avi (single name author)

The year is 1872 and the United States is coming to grips with the end of the Civil War. Horace Carpentine has been raised to believe in equality and science. In fact he is named after Horace Greeley, a strong abolitionist force in New York City. So when Horace is apprenticed to photographer Enoch Middleditch, he looks forward to his new life. He firmly believes he will be surrounded by science in one of its purest forms. He resolves himself to be nothing short of the best photographer in this world. So when Horace is presented with his first chance at actual photography, little does he know that his apprenticeship will lead him to question the science and ethics he so loves. Horace soon finds himself encountering things not quite of the world he is so firmly grounded in.
I really enjoyed this book. It has a little bit of history, a little bit of philosophy and a little bit of gothic all rolled into one. I found the information about the science of photography very interesting but was really intrigued with Avi's ideas of spirit photography even more.
I recommend this book for children 10 and up. It might be a bit too scary for anyone younger simply because of the nature of the ghost in the story.

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