Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Shiloh Christmas by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor BOOK REVIEW

Book received at no charge to facilitate review.

Marty can't imagine his life without his beloved beagle, Shiloh. Rescuing Shiloh from the cruelty he endured while living with Judd Travers was the best thing he ever did. Now it's just a matter of time before he gets the debt to the veterinarian he incurred to rescue his dog paid off. In the meantime,  Judd works to improve his reputation.

While Marty watches Judd struggle to become a better person, he meets Rachel, the new girl at school and the preacher's daughter. As he slowly gets to know her and her family, he can't help but wonder why she seems fearful of her father. When someone sets fire to the woods, Marty can't help but notice the stark difference between those who blame Judd in parallel to the fire and brimstone teachings of the preacher and the those who band together to help each other. Will the search for Judd's dogs and the rebuilding of lost homes unite the family and community?

While A Shiloh Christmas is less about the dog and more about the love of family and a person's ability to change, the bond that Marty shares with his dog keeps him grounded when he can't control what goes on around him. Though the story delves into the serious subject of abuse, themes of love, acceptance and the willingness to change will tug at the heartstrings of the mature middle grade reader.

Rating ★★★★★

                                     This book can be purchased at the following retailer:

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Book Review: Charlie Bumpers Vs. The Perfect Little Turkey by Bill Harley and Illustrated by Adam Gustavson

Book received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.
Thanksgiving at the Bumpers' house looks to be a grand event. With fifteen people slated to attend, Charlie Bumpers can only imagine the incredible feast. Nothing can go wrong. At least that's what Charlie thought until he finds out his bratty cousin Chip will be staying at his house and sleeping in his room. What ensues nearly destroys Charlie's Thanksgiving.

Harley adeptly handles family relationships with humor through Charlie, the middle child who never seems to catch a break. However, this time he does when his older brother quits picking on him long enough to help him out and his annoying sister sticks by him for once without trying to get him in trouble. A heartwarming look into family life with Charlie finding a new definition for family. The reader can't help but relate to the real life scenarios and characters while they learn tolerance and acceptance.

Rating ★★★

Publishing Information:

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (Sept. 1, 2015)
ISBN: 978-1-56145-835-6
Ages 7-10

This book can be purchases from the following retailers:

Shop Indie Bookstores

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Picture Book Review: Stay! A Top Dog Story by Alex Latimer

Book received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

Ben loves his dog, Buster and thinks he's the best dog in the entire world. His parents think otherwise. Buster has a knack for leaving messes wherever he goes and gets too excited about things that move like squirrels and especially the postman.

Sadly, Ben must leave Buster behind with Grampa when he goes away on vacation. But how will he know how to take care of him? Ben makes sure he leaves lists, diagrams and pictures for him but it's not enough. He frets that he has forgotten something and writes letters and postcards. The only problem is that he still forgets to tell Grampa not to take Buster to the post office and when Grampa makes the mistake of dragging him along, Buster wrecks havoc. Grampa sets out to change Buster's bad behavior but will it work?

Dog lovers will love the playful antics of the slightly naughty, Buster, and will love the humor in the quirky notes Ben leaves behind. A fun and visually stimulating look at what dog ownership is all about.
Rating ★★★★☆

Publishing Information
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (Sept. 2015)
Written and Illustrated by Alex Latimer
ISBN: 978-1-56145-884-4
Ages: 4-8

This book can be purchased from the following retailers:

Shop Indie Bookstores

Monday, October 19, 2015

Book Review: Out of Bounds by Fred Bowen

Book received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

Nate Osbourne loves playing forward on his U-14 soccer team, the Strikers. He and his teammates want nothing more than to beat their nemesis, the Monarchs, for the championship title. All season, Nate and his friends play their hearts out hoping they will make it to the championship game.

When the game is on the line, Nate faces a difficult decision between winning or showing good sportsmanship. Will his teammates understand the choice he makes and is it really the right one?

While Bowen's descriptions of the sports action will draw the reader in, it's the real life examples of sportsmanlike play in actual games that got my attention. Out of Bounds is a solid read for the soccer fan.

Rating ★★★

Publishing Information:

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (Aug. 2015)
ISBN: 978-1-56145-845-5
Ages 7-12

This book can be purchased from the following retailers:

Shop Indie Bookstores

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Caretaker's Guide to Fablehaven by Brandon Mull and Illustrated by Brandon Dorman: BOOK REVIEW

Ebook received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

A walk into Fablehaven opens to a world of magical creatures and artifacts and someone must take care of them. Each of the five preserves, including Fablehaven, has a caretaker With so many different artifacts as well as creatures from trolls to fairies, it's hard for those caretaker's to keep them straight. The knowledge that has been passed down from generations of caretakers finally appears in print, giving Fablehaven lovers a chance to sort through all things magic and learn the backstories of some of their favorite magical beings.

With fabulous illustrations and detailed definitions, it's easy to visualize the magic inside the preserves. Handwritten notes add humor and insight. Especially funny was the warning to Seth about not exchanging batteries with the satyrs for gold. The Kindle version does not transfer the illustrations or the handwritten notes well. In fact, there were many spots where there would be random notes in the middle of sentences. This reference book is definitely one that works best in print form. I would not recommend the electronic version. However, the print version would be the perfect companion to the Fablehaven series. Pay careful attention to references for the new sequel and be prepared to meet some new creatures.

Rating ★★★★☆

Publishing Information:
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (Oct.13, 2015)
ISBN: 9781629720913
Pages: 128
Ages: 9-12  
 This book can be purchased from the following retailers:
Shop Indie Bookstores

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Book Review: Stanley's Diner Written & Illustrated by William Bee

Disclosure: Book received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

A visit to Stanley's Diner will take the reader inside the busy kitchen where Stanley cooks eggs, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Stanley's friend, Hattie, works with him in the diner. Together they feed the hungry customers. When it comes time to celebrate, Stanley cooks up a special cake. Keep the pages turning to find out why.

Digitally rendered artwork with clean lines set the tone for the simple yet charming look at what it takes to work in a diner.

Rating ★★★★

Publishing Information:

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (September 2015)
ISBN: 978-1-56145-802-8
Ages: 3-7

This book can be purchased from the following retailers:

Shop Indie Bookstores

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands: Book Review

Disclosure: Book received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

Lucky to escape the orphanage to become an apprentice apothecary, Christopher Rowe realizes he has it better than other apprentices. His master, Benedict Blackthorn, treats him with kindness while teaching him how to solve codes and puzzles and how to create complex medicines and potions. 

The murder of his master by the Cult of the Archangel turns Christopher's world upside down. With the help of Tom, the baker's son, he determines to find his master's killer. Armed with a cryptic clue left in haste by his master, Christopher must use the puzzle solving skills he's learned before it's too late.

A brilliant debut by Sands brings together a smart and brave protagonist with an intriguing plot and a breathtaking adventure that will have the reader glued to the pages with nervous anticipation. In addition to the action, the historical background and touches of humor add to an already outstanding story.
Rating ★★★★★

Publishing Information:
Publisher: Aladdin (Septemter 1, 2015)
ISBN: 978-1481446518
Ages: 8-12

This book can be purchased from the following retailers:

Monday, October 5, 2015

Blog Tour: The 50 States: Explore the U.S.A. with 50 Fact Filled Maps!

 Disclosure: Information provided by the publisher. No product or monetary compensation received.

Love to explore the United States?
Start by learning some fun facts about every state. I started with my favorite, my home state of Utah also known as the Beehive State. Why the Beehive State? Because the beehive is a symbol of work and industry.

A few fun facts about Utah:

Salt Lake City was home to the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The state boasts several national parks including Canyonlands, Zion's National Park and Lake Powell.
Take a peek of one my families favorite, Lake Powell.

Lake Powell was formed when the hydroelectric dam flooded the beautiful red rock of the Glen Canyon. Not only does the reservoir supply water and electricity to thousands of people, it provides an endless summer playground for boaters and water sports enthusiasts.

Book Publishing Information:

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions (Oct. 1, 2015)
ISBN: 978-1847807113
Ages: 7-10
Pages: 112 Hardcover

This book can be purchased from the following retailers:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Simon's New Bed by Christian Trimmer and Art by Melissa van der Paardt

Disclosure: Book received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

Simon can't wait to try his new bed but the poor dog has a problem. He's not the only one who thinks his bed looks comfy. Miss Adora Belle, the cat, has made herself at home on Simon's bed. He tries to no avail to get her out. Howling and barking doesn't work. He even drags her around the yard  but Adora Belle just won't budge. Simon finally comes to the conclusion that sharing may be the only way he will get to try his bed. But will it work?

The digitally rendered illustrations capture perfectly the feelings of Simon from his upturned mouth at the happy thought of trying his new bed to his sad surprise in his droopy face in finding Adora Belle right in the middle. The sly and contented looks of Adora Belle add to the humor. While the lesson of making the best of what you have will resonate with the young reader, the illustrations will get them coming back for another lesson in reading expressions.

Rating ★★★★☆

Publishing Information

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Aug. 25, 2015)
ISBN: 978-1481430197
Grades: P-3

This book can be purchased by the following retailers:

Shop Indie Bookstores

Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Review: Mysteries of Cove Fires of Invention

Book received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

Nothing gets thirteen-year-old, Trenton Coleman more excited than anything mechanical. If only the leaders in Cove felt the same way. Creativity is frowned upon in Cove and inventing anything new is prohibited. Trenton can't wait for his chance to attend mechanical school but to his dismay, he is assigned to the School of Food Production.

While Trenton excels in his new assignment, his curiosity leads him to Kallista Babbage, a repair technician and daughter of Leo Babbage, an inventor who died in an explosion. Together, the pair discover the secret project Leo was working on before his horrible accident. With the help of the clues he left behind, Trenton and Kallista slowly put together a machine that threatens to expose the truth their city inside a mountain is built upon.

Savage masterfully weaves steampunk and fantasy with relatable characters to create suspense that will have the reader glued to the pages for hours.

Rating ★★★★☆

Publishing Information

Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing ( Sept. 29, 2015)
ISBN: 978-1-62972-0920
Ages: 10 and Up

This book can be purchased from the following retailers:

Shop Indie Bookstores

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Firefly Hollow by Alison McGhee, Illus. by Christopher Denise

Disclosure: Book received at no charge for review purposes.

Firefly wants nothing more than to fly to the moon. Cricket wants to play baseball, not just sing about it. He hopes to become the cricket version of Yogi Berra, the greatest catcher in the world. In order for Firefly and Cricket to accomplish their dreams, they must venture beyond their nations. After disregarding the advice of their elders, Firefly and Cricket set off on their adventure and meet Vole, a river vole who also dares to dream. He dreams of sailing to where the river meets the sea. They also meet a boy named Peter they refer to as a "miniature giant" who desperately needs friends after the loss of his best friend.

Carefully developed characters come together to help each other accomplish their dreams and to catch each other when they fall short. Together, the unique mix of characters help heal a boy's broken heart. Denise's amazing artwork projects the warmth and friendship the sweet story deserves. A fitting classroom read aloud that belongs on the classics shelf with the likes of Charlotte's Web and The Wind in the Willows. I consider it an honor to recommend this novel to my readers.
Rating ★★★★★

Publishing Information: 

Publisher: Antheneum Books for Young Readers (Aug. 18, 2015)
ISBN: 978-1442423367
Ages: 8-12

This book can be purchased from the following retailers:

Shop Indie Bookstores

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Wand & The Sea by Claire M. Caterer BOOK REVIEW

Book received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.
It's been a year since Holly, her brother Ben, and their friend Everett discovered the magical world of Anglielle and they're anxious to return. In Anglielle, Holly continues her training as an adept but also faces the task of rescuing her friends who have been locked up by the evil King Reynard. The rescue doesn't go quite as planned. Luckily, they end up escaping on Captain Morgan's ship, the Sea Witch. They set sail to find the missing adepts. Holly will have to learn to master the magical elements to succeed.

While Caterer has included plenty of fascinating creatures, the magical world lacks clarity at times. Add to the fact that the characters could use some deeper development makes the story feel long. The avid fantasy fan may be able to overlook the weaknesses while enjoying the pace and fantastical characters.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Publishing Information:

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (June 23, 2015)
ISBN-13: 978-1442457447
Pages: 384
Ages Range: 8-12

This book can be purchased from the following retailers:

Shop Indie Bookstores

Sunday, August 23, 2015

River Runs Deep by Jennifer Bradbury: Book Review

Book received at no charge to facilitate review.
After the death of his father from consumption (tuberculosis), twelve-year old Elias is sent to live in Kentucky's Mammoth Cave to be treated by Dr. Croghan in hopes that the cool cave vapors will cure him of his consumption. Life in the cave isn't as adventurous as Elias imagines and he escapes his boredom by following the slaves who attend to the patients and conduct tours.

Besides a hospital, the caves serve as a tourist attraction. Elias discovers it also serves as a stop in the Underground Railroad when he follows Stephen, one of the slaves, to a cavern full of runaway slaves.  When the entrances to the caves are blocked off, Elias finds himself in the crossroads of questioning the morality of slavery and protecting them or giving away their secret and risking their lives.

Bradbury uses little known but fascinating bits of history that will have the reader wanting to know more about Mammoth Caves and the real Dr. Croghan. But the real strength lies in the growth of Elias' character consistently throughout the novel. A solid historical fiction novel with a compelling main character.


Publishing Information:

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (July 21, 2015)
Ages: 9-13
ISBN 978-1442468245

This book can be purchased through the following retailers:

Shop Indie Bookstores

Friday, August 21, 2015

Eddie's Tent and How to go Camping: Book Review and Giveaway

FTC Disclosure: Book received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.
Holiday time and Eddie his Mum, Tom, Lilly and Tilly prepare to explore the outdoors with a camping trip. After a long ride to the campsite, they finally get camp set up. After a night of listening to owls hooting, Eddie spends the next day exploring the beach, learning to make a fire, and making Damper Bread. While fishing Eddie meets a new friend named Max and his puppy, Bouncer. When Bouncer disappears, Eddie puts his new found survival skills to work.

While the story gives a realistic view of family life with illustrations to match, the camping tips at the end provide delightful activities for the family. The Chocolate Bananas are not only surprisingly easy to make but deliciously yummy too. A fabulous introduction to camping for the budding outdoor enthusiast.

Rating ★★★★☆

Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books (May 7, 2015)
Pages: 40
ISBN-13: 978-1-84780-408-2
Ages: 4-7

This book can be purchased from the following retailer:

Book Giveaway Details:

Please use the Rafflecopter form to enter. By entering, you acknowledge you have read the terms on the form. Winner will receive my hardback review copy of Eddie's Tent and How to go Camping. Giveaway ends 08/30/2015 at 11:59 EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wilder Boys by Brandon Wallace: Book Review

FTC Disclosure: ARC received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

With their dad's abandonment and their mom too busy working and trying to quell her boyfriend, Bull's temper, Jake and Tyler Wilder develop survival skills they will need in their upcoming endeavor. When they witness Bull shooting another man, things only get worse. After their mother is taken away in an ambulance after been severely beaten at the hands of Bull, the two brothers flee in fear for their safety and run off with their dog to find their father who is rumored to be living off the land in Wyoming.

Armed only letters and a journal to guide them to their dad's whereabouts, the boys manage to get from Pittsburg to Wyoming only to find themselves facing challenges in the wilderness that could cost them their lives. Luckily they meet up with Skeet, a wolverine tracker who helps them but will it be enough to stay ahead of Bull and find their father?

While some of the situations seem far fetched, there's no break in the action. A fun adventure that the reader won't be able to put down until the end. Wallace gives great wilderness tips at the end that might just help in preparing for the next great outdoor experience.

Rating ★★★★☆

Publisher: Aladdin (May 5, 2015)
ISBN: 978-1481432641
Pages: 240
Ages: 8-12

This book can be purchased from the following retailers:
Shop Indie Bookstores