Dec 302014
 

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Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

1922 is the first of four short stories in this book

This is a first-person account by Wilfred James, the story’s unreliable narrator. He writes a lengthy confession for the murder of his wife, Arlette, in Hemingford Home, Nebraska, in 1922.

Wilfred owns eighty acres of farmland that have been in his family for generations. His wife owns an adjoining one-hundred acres willed to her by her father. Wilfred scorns the thought of living in a city, but Arlette is discontented with farm life and wants to move to Omaha. She seeks to sell her land to a livestock company for use as a pig farm and slaughterhouse. Wilfred, who strongly opposes Arlette’s plans, resorts to manipulating his teenaged son, Henry, into helping him murder his own mother.

Thoughts
Wow! This was a great story! I loved it.

It was scary, creepy, gross and full of horror. There’s Wilfred wanting to kill his wife over some land, of asking his son Henry to help him kill his mom, of Henry saying he’d help, and of the rats eating away at her. There’s the visions of Arlette’s ghost that wouldn’t leave him alone. Plus so many other things that I can’t write about without lots of spoilers.

It was sad too. There’s the sad fact that Wilfred would kill his wife, whom he loved, over her wanting to sell the land and move to town. It was sad that Henry agreed to help. It was sad that there was so much lost because of that act. Dreams were shattered, hearts were broken, marriages, friendships and minds were lost. And more than just the life of Arlette was cut short…so sad!

In the end, it wasn’t the murder of his wife that did Wilfred in. It was seeing her in the well with the rats, and her ghost visiting him that did it. That would do it to anyone, don’t you think?

You know when you start a King book you will “see” the story in your head for a while. You can’t get rid of the images. At least I can’t. For a while. But the story never leaves you. I’ll be remembering this book for years and years.

If you like scary, read this book!

Dec 272014
 

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Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas by David Chuka

Series: The Fartastic Adventures of Billy and Monster
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 25, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1505219523
ISBN-13: 978-1505219524

They’re back!
Discover what new adventures Billy and Monster get up to in the latest episode in this exciting series.

It’s almost Christmas and Billy’s looking forward to his present from Uncle Leland from England. On Christmas day, Billy isn’t too excited when Uncle Leland gives him a golden pen but gives Cousin Bob a big monster truck. How could Uncle Leland do this to him? Billy’s not a happy bunny and his ingratitude makes Uncle Leland sad and his Dad mad. A game of hide and seeks plunges Billy into a world filled with snow, happy monsters, and houses made of chocolate.

You will love reading this story to your loved ones as they get to learn the most important thing about this special holiday season. Expect funny illustrations, laugh out loud moments and touching moments in this funny book for kids.

Thoughts
This is book five in the series and is a very cute story that teaches kids that it’s not about the presents you get for Christmas. What matters is being grateful for what you have and spending time with the people you love.

This is a short story, but it’s a fun book with cute colorful illustrations and a positive message. I think any child would love this book as well as the others in the series:

Book 1: Billy and the Monster Who Loved to Fart
Book 2: Billy and Monster – The Superhero with Fart Powers
Book 3: Billy and the Monster Who Ate all the Easter Eggs
Book 4: Billy and Monster’s New Neighbor Has a Secret

 

Meet The Author
David-Chuka-Author-Pic-1-224x300David Chuka lives in London with his lovely wife and two adorable children. His family are usually the first people to hear his funny and quirky tales. He was inspired to write his first book, ‘If You See a Doctor’ after he struggled to find a book for his daughter who was a beginner reader.

He’s gone on to write more books including the popular ‘Billy and Monster’ series, a funny set of books about a little boy and his Monster who get into all sorts of funny situations and learn about moderation, friendship, self control, bravery etc. Young children can relate to Billy and you’ll love sharing his adventures with your children, grandchildren and loved ones.

As a father himself, he has parents at heart when he writes. He recognizes that bedtime has to be one of the best parts of the day for parents and grandparents as it gives them the opportunity to bond with their little ones. He believes you’ll enjoy sharing his stories with your loved ones at bedtime.

In David Chuka’s books, you can stay rest assured that quality and captivating images will always complement the story to ensure your loved ones are spell-bound as you read to them. Beginner readers will also enjoy discovering new words as they read his books.

He would like to keep you updated on what he’s working on and any giveaways he currenty has on offer. Please subscribe to his newsletter at www.davidchuka.com and you’ll get a FREE Coloring and Activity book for your loved ones.

You can also connect with him on twitter @davidchuka and Facebook.

Make sure to watch the video trailers for his most popular books on this Amazon Page and you’ll get a little taste of why his books have garnered more than 300 glowing reviews.

He has so many stories to tell and can’t wait to share them with you and your loved ones.

Links
GoodreadsAmazonAmazon author pageBlogFacebookGoodreadsWebsite

Dec 262014
 

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Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books (September 23, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1594745269
ISBN-13: 978-1594745263
 

Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves,
shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor,
investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.
A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, “Horrorstor “comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete
with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom

Thoughts
I’m a cover snob and this book grabbed my attention right away. It looks like a catalog, similar to Ikea. There is a “Home Delivery Order Form”, coupons, store info and more. I loved that it was so much like a real catalog! Each chapter starts with an item from Orsk, and gives details about the item, the price, and the item number. I thought that was a great way to start each chapter!

I loved all the characters. They were all unique and well written, but Amy and Basil were my favorites. Sometimes I wanted to yell at them and ask them “what the heck are you doing that for”, but everything they did only added to an already fantastic story.

The story was amazing. I loved everything going on, especially once things started happening. I love scary and this book was very scary. Espcially when I only read it at night, in bed, with only a tiny light to read by.

While reading the book I kept thinking about shopping in Ikea, which I love. I bet I’ll probably not be able to get this book out of my head the next time I go though, and that kinda creeps me out. In a good way…

The book ended in a way that the road is open for a Horrorstör 2. I hope the author decides to write one. I for one will be definitely reading it.

I think this is the best book I read in 2014, which surprises me since I’m a huge King fan and read Full Dark, No Stars which has four stories in it it which are also really good. But, all in all, this book just stood out. I loved every word, paragraph, chapter and character.

LOVED IT!! If you haven’t read this yet, get a copy Now!

Dec 202014
 

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Aoléon The Martian Girl: A Science Fiction and Fantasy Saga – Part 1: First Contact by Brent LeVasseur
Category: Middle-Grade,
​94​ pages
Genre: Science-fiction and Fantasy
Publisher: Aoléon Press
Release date: January 31, 2015

Crop circles magically appear in Farmer Johnson’s field. A mysterious light sweeps over the night sky and awakens Farmer Johnson and Gilbert, the boy next door.

Curious, Gilbert ventures out to discover the source of the light and stumbles into a beautiful Martian girl sitting in a crop circle. Farmer Johnson also investigates the strange light, and thinking that Gilbert and Aoléon are vandals, he chases them. But they sprint to Aoléon’s saucer and escape only to be pursued by the U.S. Air Force.

Gilbert has never been attacked by swarms of giant killer robots. Never met strange aliens from other worlds. Never skyboarded across a megalopolis hidden deep inside an extinct volcano. Never trekked across a vast Martian desert. And never been eaten alive by a gigantic slor (well, almost never, unless you count Billy the fat bully at school).

And luckily, he has never ever confronted an evil ruler of Mars bent on conquering the Earth to steal its cows. Never…until now! This may be the adventure Gilbert always wished for. If only he can survive.

 

Thoughts
This book was definitely not my usual type of read, but I’m so glad I decided to give it a try! The story was well written and vivid and I could see in my mind what the author was writing.

The illustrations were full of bold colors and I found most of them were putting a smile on my face. I also loved the name Gilbert Sullivan, the main character, since it reminded me of the theatrical Gilbert & Sullivan, and Gilbert Sullivan the Irish singer-songwriter.

I loved everything about this book. The story alternated between being thrilling and humorous and the illustrations were adorable.

I think all kids, both boys and girls, would enjoy this fun book. I plan on reading it to my grandson.

This is part one of a five part story and I hope to read the rest of them.

 

Meet The Author
unnamed (1)Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys. He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel. He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

Connect with Brent: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Aoléon: The Martian Girl

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Dec 132014
 

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The Deep and Snowy Wood (Christmas Picture Book) by Elwyn Tate

File Size: 2807 KB
Print Length: 24 pages
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00AE6VCSO

A deer, a squirrel and a mole know a secret.

They know that once a year a very special person plays a brief visit to the Deep and Snowy wood. Who could this special person be?

See if you can guess.

The Deep and Snowy Wood is a Christmas/Winter picture book.

Told in rhyme it tells the story of 3 animals making their way through the wood.

The other animals of the wood are curious and follow the three to see what they know.

At the end the happy secret is revealed.

 

Thoughts
This is a cute story with superb illustrations. The story is told in rhyme and flows gently while telling a story of a deer, a squirrel and a mole who run, dig and hop through the woods, until they finally meet Santa on Christmas day.

The author also illustrated the book and she did a fantastic job.

This would be a great book for little ones, and I think even children a little older would enjoy this fun book.

 

Linking to Kid Lit Blog Hop & Kid Konnection

Dec 112014
 
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Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

 

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Harper (December 9, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062377183
ISBN-13: 978-0062377180
 
The game is once again afoot in this thrilling mystery from the bestselling author of The House of Silk, sanctioned by the Conan Doyle estate, which explores what really happened when Sherlock Holmes and his arch nemesis Professor Moriarty tumbled to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls.

Internationally bestselling author Anthony Horowitz’s nail-biting new novel plunges us back into the dark and complex world of detective Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty—dubbed the Napoleon of crime” by Holmes—in the aftermath of their fateful struggle at the Reichenbach Falls.

Days after the encounter at the Swiss waterfall, Pinkerton detective agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. Moriarty’s death has left an immediate, poisonous vacuum in the criminal underworld, and there is no shortage of candidates to take his place—including one particularly fiendish criminal mastermind.

Chase and Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones, a devoted student of Holmes’s methods of investigation and deduction originally introduced by Conan Doyle in “The Sign of Four”, must forge a path through the darkest corners of England’s capital—from the elegant squares of Mayfair to the shadowy wharfs and alleyways of the London Docks—in pursuit of this sinister figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, who is determined to stake his claim as Moriarty’s successor.

A riveting, deeply atmospheric tale of murder and menace from one of the only writers to earn the seal of approval from Conan Doyle’s estate, Moriarty breathes life into Holmes’s dark and fascinating world.

Thoughts
I love Sherlock Holmes and Horowitz did a great job writing this book. There are lots of twists and turns, surprises and even bits of humor.

The author keeps the same dialog as the previous Holmes books and I’m so glad Horowitz picked up where Doyle left off.

This was an interesting story. It started a bit slow but quickly picked up speed which carried though to the end of the book. I would recomend this book to anyone who is a Holmes fan, and I even think that those who aren’t familiar with the books would still love this.

unnamedAbout The Author
Anthony Horowitz is one of the most prolific and successful writers working in the UK – and is unique for working across so many media. Anthony is a born polymath; juggling writing books, TV series, films, plays and journalism.

Anthony has written over 40 books including the bestselling teen spy series Alex Rider, which he adapted into a movie that was released worldwide in 2006. The Alex Rider series is estimated to have sold 19 million copies worldwide. Anthony is also an acclaimed writer for adults and was commissioned by the Conan Doyle Estate and Orion Books to write a new Sherlock Holmes novel. The House of Silk was published in November 2011 and was internationally lauded as the top title of the autumn. He is currently working on the sequel. His highly anticipated novel, Oblivion, the epic conclusion to the Power of Five series, was published in October 2012.

Anthony is responsible for creating and writing some of the UK’s most beloved and successful television series, producing the first seven episodes (and the title) of Midsomer Murders. He is the writer and creator of award-winning drama series Foyle’s War, which was the Winner of the Lew Grade Audience award for BAFTA. DCS Foyle was voted the nation’s favourite detective in 2011. Anthony has also written other original complex dramas for ITV, particularly thrillers. Collision, a major five part “state of the nation” piece was transmitted on ITV1 in November 2009 to seven million viewers a night. He followed this with the equally successful legal thriller Injustice, also for ITV 1 – transmitted in June 2011. Foyle’s War returned in March 2013 as a Cold War thriller and was greeted with such critical acclaim and demands for more – that he is now working on another new series

Anthony recently joined the board of the Old Vic. He regularly contributes to a wide variety of national newspapers and magazines on subjects ranging from politics to education. He has been a patron to East Anglia Children’s Hospices and the anti-bullying charity, Kidscape, since 2008.

Anthony was awarded an OBE for his services to literature in January 2014.

Anthony Horowitz has a website and is on Twitter.
If you want purchase links for the book, here’s a few: Amazon, B&N, IndieBound. Also, the book is on Goodreads.
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Dec 092014
 
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The Publicist by Christina George
File Size: 1762 KB
Print Length: 227 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 4, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00AI3B3UK
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
X-Ray: Enabled
Word Wise: Enabled
Lending: Enabled
Behind every book, there’s always more to the story.Can one woman change an age-old institution like publishing? Probably not, but Kate Mitchell sure wants to try. As a publicist with a large, respected New York publishing house, Kate finds herself at the mercy of a broken publishing system, books that don’t always sell (at all) and author egos that are often, well, as big as the island of Manhattan.Enter the star Editor, MacDermott Ellis. Tall, handsome, charismatic, married, and ready to save the day. Kate wants to do the right thing but her hormones seem to be driving her decisions. Then there’s Allan Lavigne, once a revered author, now as forgotten as yesterday’s news; and his nephew Nick, who wants to sweep Kate away from New York for another coast, California.

As Kate tries to navigate the landmine of publicity, the over-the-top author expectations, and the careful dance of “I’m sorry, your book isn’t on the bestseller list this week”, she also finds authors who are painfully overlooked by a publisher wanting more sex, more celebrities, and more scandal.

Thoughts
I usually don’t read/listen to books about romance but thought I’d give this a try. The storyline is interesting and the characters are well written and have great chemistry.The narration is outstanding and makes you want to keep listening to the end, which makes it hard when you have to stop before you’re finished. And, you’ll be rushing back to it as soon as possible.
It has many different elements…friendship, attraction, and even a white knuckle moment. Plus, it’s about a publicist! The only thing negative is that it ends kind of quickly and leaves things open. But that problem can be solved via book 2, Shelf Life.I’m glad I chose to join the tour for this book. I was hesitant because all I read for a few years was romance and I got burned out. I’d definitely recommend The Publicist to anyone who likes this genre.I will definitely be looking for more from this author and narrator.

 

unnamed (4)Christina George has worked in publishing for twenty years (give or take). Here’s what this book isn’t. It’s not a slam against publishing (though it is broken) and it’s not a slam against authors (though some of them are crazy). This book is not autobiographical though many of the stories are true. No you won’t know which ones, cause it’s more fun to guess, right? George continues to work in publicity and helps authors because at the end of the day she does love books, she loves publishing, and she loves authors. She hopes you’ll enjoy this romp through Kate’s world as much as she enjoyed creating it.

 

Connect with Christina: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~ Goodreads

Buy the audiobook: Audible

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dec 042014
 

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Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death by Mark Reutlinger

File Size: 1110 KB
Print Length: 170 pages
Publisher: Alibi (November 18, 2014)

Move over, Miss Marple—Mark Reutlinger’s charming cozy debut introduces readers to the unforgettable amateur sleuth Rose Kaplan and her loyal sidekick, Ida.

Everyone knows that Rose Kaplan makes the best matzoh ball soup around—she’s a regular matzoh ball maven—so it’s no surprise at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors when, once again, Mrs. K wins the honor of preparing the beloved dish for the Home’s seder on the first night of Passover.

But when Bertha Finkelstein is discovered facedown in her bowl of soup, her death puts a bit of a pall on the rest of the seder. And things go really meshugge when it comes out that Bertha choked on a diamond earring earlier stolen from resident Daisy Goldfarb. Suddenly Mrs. K is the prime suspect in the police investigation of both theft and murder. Oy vey—it’s a recipe for disaster, unless Rose and her dear friend Ida can summon up the chutzpah to face down the police and solve the mystery themselves.

Thoughts
I love thriller/mysteries and I love funny, and this book had it all. Rose is my kind of lady. She’s in her 70’s but full of vim and vigor and is quite the character. When Rose is the main suspect in Bertha’s death, she sets out with her friend Ida to prove her innocence.

They do some really strange  and hilarious things to get proof that she isn’t the killer. There are a lot of Yiddish words and phrases I didn’t understand, but thankfully some included a translation.

This is cozy at it’s best. It’s an easy quick read without the gore most murder mysteries not in the cozy genre have. The story flows well and Rose and Ida will keep you entertained to the end.

This is my first book by this author but I plan on reading more from him in the future.

 

About The Author:
unnamed Mark Reutlinger is the author of the novel Made in China and a professor of law emeritus at Seattle University. Born in San Francisco, Mark graduated from UC Berkeley and now lives with his wife, Analee, in University Place, Washington.

 

 

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Dec 022014
 

Swann’s Lake of Despair

by Charles Salzberg

on Tour at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours Oct 13 – Dec 12

Book Details:

Genre: Detective

Published by: Five Star

Publication Date: October 22nd 2014

Number of Pages: 284

ISBN: 143282936X

Series: 3rd in the Henry Swann Series (Stand Alone)

Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

When rare photos, a scandalous diary, and a beautiful woman all go missing at once, the stage is set for three challenging cases for Henry Swann. It begins with an offer to partner up with his slovenly, unreliable frenemy, Goldblatt. The disbarred lawyer-turned-“facilitator” would provide the leads and muscle, while Swann would do all the fancy footwork. A lost diary by a free-loving Jazz Age flapper is worth enough to someone that Swann takes a beat down on an abandoned boardwalk. Pilfered photos of Marilyn Monroe propel him deep into the past of an alcoholic shutterbug, his wife; and he’s hired to search for a lonely writer’s runaway girlfriend. The cases converge and collide in a finale that lifts the curtain on crucial, deadly facts of life for everyone including Swann himself.

Thoughts:
This is a very good book about a dectective who ends up working on three different cases.

Henry Swann is pulled into the mysteries of some missing rare photos, a missing diary, and a missing woman. All three cases are interesting and Swann can switch his personality to fit whatever the situation calls for… he can play both bad dectective and good detective. The story is fast paced and there is a bit of humor added.

Swann’s parnter Goldblatt is really more interested in the money than the cases, but he does help Swann through all the people he knows. Overall this was a good read, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good detective story.

This is the third book in the series but it can stand-alone.

Author Bio:

Charles Salzberg is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Esquire, New York magazine, Elle, Good Housekeeping, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times, GQ and other periodicals. He is the author of over 20 non-fiction books and several novels, including Swann’s Last Song, which was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel, and the sequel, Swann Dives In. He also has taught been a Visiting Professor of Magazine at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and taught writing at Sarah Lawrence College, the Writer’s Voice, and the New York Writers Workshop, where he is a Founding Member.

Catch Up With the Author:

 

Tour Participants:



 

Nov 272014
 

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A Year in the Secret Garden - cover

A Year In The Life Of The Secret Garden by Valarie Budayr
Illustrated by: Marilyn Scott-Waters
Publication Date: November, 2014
Publisher: Audrey Press
Pages: 144
Recommended Ages: 5 to 99

Award-winning authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters have co-created A Year in the Secret Garden to introduce the beloved children’s classic,The Secret Garden to a new generation of families. This guide uses over two hundred full color illustrations and photos to bring the magical story to life, with fascinating historical information, monthly gardening activities, easy-to-make recipes, and step-by-step crafts, designed to enchant readers of all ages. Each month your family will unlock the mysteries of a Secret Garden character, as well as have fun together creating the original crafts and activities based on the book.

Over 140 pages, with 200 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. A Year In the Secret Garden is our opportunity to introduce new generations of families to the magic of this classic tale in a modern and innovative way that creates special learning and play times outside in nature. This book encourages families to step away from technology and into the kitchen, garden, reading nook and craft room.

Review:
 The book is organized by months, and my review is for July.
July is all about The Secret Meal.
“Dickon made the stimulating discovery that in the wood in the park outside the garden where Mary had first found him piping to the wild creatures there was a deep little hollow where you could build a sort of tiny oven with stones and roast potatoes and eggs in it. Roasted eggs were a previously unknown luxury and very hot potatoes with salt and fresh butter in them were fit for a woodland king – besides being deliciously satisfying. You could buy both potatoes and eggs and eat as many as you liked without feeling as if you were taking food out of the mouths of fourteen people.”
— Frances Burnett HodgesHere’s a camping version of a recipe which can be made on a camp-fire, a camping cook-stove, or barbecue.Tin Foil Breakfast
(Makes enough for 1 person per foil package)
Ingredients:
hash brown potatoes
1–2 eggs
1 sausage link (optional)
salt and pepper
aluminum foil
cooking spray
Instructions:
Tear off a piece of aluminum foil large enough to hold your eggs and potatoes.
Spray the non-shiny surface of your foil with cooking spray.
Break eggs into a bowl and beat them until well mixed.
Place potatoes, beaten eggs (uncooked), sausage, and salt and pepper to taste in the aluminum foil.
Wrap securely.
Place on hot white coals for approximately 15 minutes.
Turn and rotate as needed.
  
There were also some instructions for The Cooking Campfire about fire safety. Here are a few examples:
NEVER build your fire near tents or other flammable items.
NEVER use flammable fluids to start your fire.
NEVER leave your fire unattended.
Have a bucket of water, shovel, and fire extinguisher nearby, ready to put out a fire.
When you’re done, make sure to completely extinguish your fire.
Scatter ashes or embers out. Sprinkle with water. Stir with a stick.
Drench charred logs. Repeat until everything is coldHere are some different types of fires mentioned in the book:
Tepee Fire – good for quick cooking since the heat is concentrated in one
spot. Lay the fuel over your kindling like a tepee.
Crisscross Fire – good for a long lasting fire with a lot of coals. Excellent for a campfire. Lay the fuel over the kindling in a crisscross pattern.There is even a bit about one of the characters, Colin, that shows how important exercise is:
Colin’s Exercises
Each time Colin goes into the secret garden he creates a ritual, doing the same thing every time. Calisthenics, or exercises, are part of his ritual.
Aided by the fresh air of the great outdoors, Colin recovers from his illness by doing physical exercise to increase his healthy disposition.Blindfolded Garden Walk
Blindfolded, you’ll smell the dampness of the forest, hear the blowing or crunching of the leaves, feel the sun or shade, and notice what type of ground you’re walking on. You’ll have a new perception of the world.

Affirmation Stones
Affirmations work for everyone. Carrying a little stone inscribed with a positive thought is a way to stir the magic in you.
Samples of affirmation phrases:
I believe in myself and my abilities.
I am unique and special.
I make mistakes sometimes, but I choose to learn from them.
I can be whatever I want to be.

This is such a great book! I love all the activities it provides. It’s full of fun to do things and recipes, information about the story and more. The book covers a wide range of subjects that will (hopefully) inspire children to get off the couch and get outside. The illustrations are big and bright and beautiful!

This is an awesome book for kids to have, especially for when they get bored.
Love Love Love this book!

About the Author:  Valarie Budayr

Valarie BudayrValarie Budayr loves reading and bringing books alive. Her popular website,www.jumpintoabook.com, inspires children and adults alike to experience their books through play, discovery, and adventure.

She is founder of Audrey Press, an independent publishing house, as well as an Amazon and iTunes best-selling author. She has written The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden and The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Valarie is passionate about making kid’s books come alive and encouraging families and schools to pull books off the shelves and stories off the pages.

Book Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Pinterest | Google+ | Goodreads

 

 

About the Illustrator:  Marilyn Scott-Waters

Marilyn Scott-WatersMarilyn Scott-Waters loves making things out of paper. Her popular website,www.thetoymaker.com, receives 2,000 to 7,000 visitors each day, who have downloaded more than six million of her easy-to-make paper toys. Her goal is to help parents and children spend time together making things.

She is the creator of a paper toy craft book series The Toymakers Christmas: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself (Sterling), and The Toymakers Workshop: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself (Sterling). She is also the co-creator with J. H. Everett of the middle grade nonfiction series, Haunted Histories, (Christy Ottaviano Books / Henry Holt Books for Young Readers). Ms. Scott-Waters illustrated The Search For Vile Things (Scholastic), and created paper engineering for Pop & Sniff Fruit (Piggy Toes Press).

Website | Facebook | Google+

 

To see the other tour participants, Go Here


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Nov 242014
 
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Us by David Nicholls
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Harper (October 28, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062365584
ISBN-13: 978-0062365583
 

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize

David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his enormously popular New York Times bestseller, One Day, to a compellingly human, deftly funny new novel about what holds marriages and families together—and what happens, and what we learn about ourselves, when everything threatens to fall apart.

Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date . . . and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway? Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage, and might even help him to bond with Albie.

Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves, and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger. Us is a moving meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood, the regrets of abandoning youth for middle age, and the intricate relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls’s gifted hands, Douglas’s odyssey brings Europe—from the streets of Amsterdam to the famed museums of Paris, from the cafés of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona—to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband, or the moment when he turns his marriage, and maybe even his whole life, around?

Thoughts:
Douglas and his wife Connie will soon be empty nesters since their son Albie is seventten yrs. old. He’s looking foward to that time. Then his wife lets him know she wants a divorce, and even though he knows they’ve had periods of trouble since the beginning and that they aren’t as close as they once were, it still knocks him for a loop.

The family has a vacation to the capitals of Europe planned, and Douglas thinks this is a good chance to make sure the three of them reconnect and put thoughts of divorce out of Connie’s head.

What follows is a very funny, sometimes serious account of what Douglas does to bring the three of them back together, and how Connie and Albie react.

Douglas is my favorite character. He’s nerdy in a good way and is a very structured person. He loves Connie so much and tries so hard to make her feelings for him grow. He loves his son and is battling with the way their relationship has become almost non existent.

Connie on the other hand, is free spirited, and complete opposite of Douglas. She rubbed me the wrong way a lot. She mostly cares about herself, and only wants what she wants and deserves, and that doesn’t always include Douglas.

Albie is a teen to the extreme. He takes more after Connie much to Douglas’s dismay. He loves Albie so much, and hates that their relationship is strained to the point of being almost non existent, except for the conflict. Like Connie, Albie rubbed me the wrong way a lot too.

There is so much going on in this story that it will keep you engrossed and you won’t want to put it down. It was a roller coaster of relationship woes, deternination, loyalty, rebellion and laughs! The characters were full bodied and the story was entertaining.

This was my first try at a Nicholls book, but it won’t be my last. I love the way he writes and draws you into the lives of his characters. I’d definitely recommend this book!

About The Author:
unnamedDavid Nicholls’s most recent novel, the New York Times bestseller One Day, has sold over 2 million copies and been translated into thirty-seven languages; he also wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film adaptation starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway.
Trained as an actor before making the switch to writing, Nicholls’s previous novels include Starter for Ten (originally published in the U.S. as A Question of Attraction), adapted into a film starring James McAvoy, for which Nicholls also wrote the screenplay; and The Understudy. He continues to write for film and TV as well as writing novels and adapting them for the screen, and has twice been nominated for the BAFTA awards. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

Links:
David Nicholls has a website and he’s also on Facebook

 

 

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Nov 192014
 

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It’s This Monkey’s Business by Debra Mares

Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Justicia House; 1st edition (October 29, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0985089385
ISBN-13: 978-0985089382

“Cabana,” a young spider monkey is brought to life to tell her story It’s This Monkey’s Business to help children who are affected by domestic violence and divorce. Cabana, who lives with her parents in a treehouse high up in a rainforest canopy, becomes startled one day from her Mama’s scream, when she is waiting atop a tree branch for her Papa to teach her how to swing. After falling to the forest floor, Cabana frustrated from her parents’ fighting, decides she will search for a new family to be part of. Her persistence is cut short when she braves the river to play with a pink dolphin, unaware she cannot swim. The tragedy brings her parents together to realize they can no longer live together. Cabana reconnects with her Papa, realizing he is the only one that can teach her how to swing.

It’s This Monkey’s Business is an approximately 756 word children’s book targeting ages 4-8, which is set in a rainforest and featuring “Cabana,” a young female Spider Monkey, her parents and rainforest animals. The book is approximately 30 pages long and features full spread color illustrations.

Thoughts:
This is a cute little book in rhyme that tells the story of Cabana, a young Spider Monkey. Cabana’s parents are always fighting and she doesn’t feel that her home is a place of love and safety. One day she falls out of a tree and decides to go find another “safer” home. As she goes through the forest she runs into a lot of different animals, but none of them are a good fit. Finally she ends up falling into a river and sinks to the bottom because she can’t swim. She’s taken to the hospital where her mom and then dad show up and finally they realize it’s not right to fight in front of her, so her dad moves out.

This book shows children that it’s ok if your parents are divorced. They will still love you and things will be much better without all the fighting going on in the house.

I read the hardback version of the book which has a lot of colorful illustrations.The book doesn’t rhyme all the time, but it’s still a very fun read that gives a very important message.

I think this book would be perfect for any child whose parents have separated.

Guest Post:
Making Home a Safe Place For Kids And Writers
by Mama Spider Monkey (Cabana’s Mama from It’s This Monkey’s Business)

Place is an important part of childhood memories. Oftentimes, we don’t recall the birthday or Christmas gift we received growing up, but we do remember what we did and where we went. Many childhood memories also occur in the home; we may not have cared how big or small our house was growing up, but we do remember the smells and the feelings we had about home. We remember the aroma we came home to after school (a pot of chicken soup or chocolate chip cookies) and we remember the spookie times like when the bad weather caused the electricity to go out, how we counted the seconds between lightening bolts and thunder, or the scary nights mom and dad were fighting. Home can provide good childhood memories, but it can also provide hurtful ones.

As parents, it’s our responsibility to raise productive children that can go out into the world when they are old enough and be responsible and emotionally healthy. A part of raising a productive child is making home a safe place to be. It’s This Monkey’s Business highlights some of the ways Cabana’s father and I turned our home from an unsafe place into a safe place to be. We were all part of the solution to get past our past and we needed to take action to make it a safe place, instead of blaming or pointing fingers. We also both had to acknowledge our part in Cabana’s feelings of abandonment and loneliness, and address them with her. We had to remove our masks, deal with our shame and move forward to create a safe home for her.

Writers often find place and setting an important part of making a story memorable for their readers and helping it move along. Author Debra Máres selected our family to feature in her book because she could relate to us. Like Cabana, Debra was a child of domestic violence. Debra has shared childhood stories of holding her stuffed monkey Zip, who reminds her of Cabana, tightly under her blankets at night as her parents fought in the room next to her. Writing is a safe outlet for her and she can write stories to fix her past and help other kids. The rainforest also had significance to Debra who has traveled extensively through South America observing jungle animals like toucans and monkeys along the way. For her, a rainforest setting, felt like home for her story, so that she could explore childhood domestic violence and tackle the issue in a safe place. When writing about sensitive issues, it’s important for the reader to trust the narrator and the author. By selecting our family and rainforest home, Debra found a safe place to be where she could fix her past, while we fixed ours in It’s This Monkey’s Business.

About The Author:
2136762ba6260a8c0b12b1.L._V354092334_For Independent Author Debra Mares, violence against women is not only a topic in today’s news, it’s a topic in her crime novels, cases she handled as a county prosecutor, and now it will be the topic in her first children’s book It’s This Monkey’s Business. Debra is a veteran county prosecutor in Riverside currently specializing in community prosecution, juvenile delinquency and truancy. Her office has one of the highest conviction rates in California and is the fifteenth largest in the country. You name it – she’s prosecuted it – homicides, gang murders, domestic violence, sex cases, political corruption, major fraud and parole hearings for convicted murderers. She is a two-time recipient of the County Prosecutor of the Year Award and 2012 recipient of the Community Hero Award.

Debra is the granddaughter of a Mexican migrant farm worker and factory seamstress, was born and raised in Los Angeles, was the first to graduate college in my family, and grew up dancing Ballet Folklorico and Salsa. Her own family story includes struggles with immigration, domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse and teen pregnancy, which she addresses in her novels. She followed a calling at 11 years old to be an attorney and voice for women, and appreciates international travel and culture. Her life’s mission is to break the cycle of victimization and domestic violence.

Debra is also the co-founding Executive Director of Women Wonder Writers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization implementing creative intervention and mentoring programs for at-risk youth. In 2012, Debra self-published Volume 1 of her debut legal thriller series, The Mamacita Murders featuring Gaby Ruiz, a sex crimes prosecutor haunted by her mother’s death at the hands of an abusive boyfriend. In 2013, Debra released her second crime novel, The Suburban Seduccion, featuring “The White Picket Fence” killer Lloyd Gil, who unleashes his neonatal domestic violence-related trauma on young women around his neighborhood.

To bring to life “Cabana,” Debra partnered with 16-year-old Creative Director Olivia Garcia and Los Angeles based professional illustrator Taylor Christensen.

16-year-old Creative Director Olivia Garcia attends high school in Panorama City, California, is the Los Angeles youth delegate for the Anti-Defamation League’s National Youth Leadership Mission in Washington D.C., an ASB member and AP student and enjoys reading, crafting and knitting.

Taylor Christensen is a Los Angeles-based illustrator holding a BFA from Otis College of Art & Design, focuses on fantastical creatures and surreal imagery, and produces artwork for illustration, character and concept design.

Her latest book is the children’s picture book, It’s This Monkey’s Business.

For More Information
Visit Debra Mares’ website.
Connect with Debra on Facebook and Twitter.
Visit Debra’s blog.
More books by Debra Mares.
Contact Debra.

Linking to Kid Lit Blog Hop & Kid Konnection

Nov 132014
 

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 Mr. Samuel’s Penny by Treva Hall Melvin
onTour November 1-30, 2014

Genre: YA Murder Mystery
Published by: The Poisoned Pencil
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Number of Pages: 259
ISBN: 978-1929345045

Purchase Links:

 

It’s 1972 and fourteen-year-old New Yorker Elizabeth Landers is sent to the sleepy town of Ahoskie, North Carolina to spend the summer with relatives. Her expectation of boredom is quickly dispelled when police sirens and flashing lights draw her to a horrible scene at the Danbury Bridge. Mr. Samuel, owner of Samuel’s Lumber Yard, has driven his car off the bridge and into the river, drowning himself and his daughter. The medical examiner thinks it’s an accident, but the Sheriff finds fresh bullet holes on the bridge right where the skid marks are. Curiously, Mr. Samuel died clutching a unique 1909 wheat penny—a penny that is then stolen from the Sheriff’s office. Lizbeth witnesses Miss Violet’s grief upon learning that her husband and child are dead, and decides she will help by finding the penny.

Her search involves Lizbeth in the lives of many Ahoskie residents. Like the owner of the grocery store, mean old Mr. Jake, who—as all the kids in Ahoskie know—hates black folks. Plenty of pennies in his till. Then there is Ms. Melanie Neely, otherwise known as “Ms. McMeanie,” who thinks the lumber yard should belong to her. And Mr. Samuel’s handsome brother Ben, who struggles to keep the business afloat after his more clever brother’s death. Lizbeth searches through the collection plates at church and in the coin jars of crazy old Aunt Ode, a strange old woman missing one eye and most of her teeth, who keeps a flask in her apron pocket and a secret in her soul.

 

Read an excerpt:

It is peculiarly bright this evening. Will not be dark for another hour or so. The headlights of the ’68 station wagon are on, but their worth cannot be seen until the fog seeps between the slats of wood. The sweet smell of honeysuckle floats through the air on a blanket of steam rising up from the river as the car makes its way across the threshold.The old bridge aches aloud, for its back has carried many a passenger the last hundred years to and from Ahoskie, North Carolina. Known as “The Only One,” Ahoskie has existed as a settlers’ town and with the Indian name since 1719, but without the Indian’s permission to do For a moment there is a sense of unsteadiness.

Got to get across.

Just one more time.

Sometimes easy.

Most times hard.

Then sometimes someone never crosses back.

Chapter 1

For seven hours, I’d done nothing but unpack and eat. I was ready for something to happen.

But I wasn’t ready for anything like this.

I was standing at the front door that mid-June evening, waiting for Aunt Alice to come home from the grocery store, when I heard the piercing sound of horns and sirens unleashing their fury, synchronized to the flashing red and white lights leading the way south, away from town. The pimples that ran down my spine hurt from the screeching noise. At least five vehicles rushed down the narrow road, leaving great clouds of dirt as though dragged by invisible ropes behind them. Heading for a place where something God awful was happening.

I could see Auntie’s car trotting at a nervous pace behind them, then veering off to the left, down our street. I focused on her torso behind the wheel, then her head, then her eyes, steadfast with purpose.

“Hi Auntie, what’s going on down there?” I asked, with my hand shielding my eyes from the fading sun as she opened her car door to get out.

“I don’t know really, Lizbeth, ‘cept Uncle Frank was called to come in a hurry to help with his wrench truck down by the bridge.”

As the jarring sounds washed out through the tall bushy heads of the trees, Aunt Alice stared out towards the road. With her chin tucked in she spoke:

“Lizbeth, I’m going down there to see what’s going on. It’s going to be dark out soon. You can stay here if you want to, or go over to Mrs. Cooper’s if you get scared.” She placed her hand on my shoulder to reassure me that all would be okay.

“Scared? I’m not scared; I just want to go with you! See what’s happening down there!” I exclaimed, shaking her other hand in a tantrum, dividing her fingers between my two hands.

“You couldn’t fit in there anyway Lizbeth, I have a car full of groceries, girl. And besides, by the time I finish putting them away I may as well stay home.” She had me there, but I wasn’t about to give up. My eyes darted around the yard looking for a way out of the problem.

And there it was.

“You’re right Auntie, I can’t fit in your car, but I can ride my bike!” A prideful smile burned in the flesh of my cheeks.

“But Lizbeth….”

“I got a light on my bike Auntie. Besides, I bet I get there before you do!” That was all that needed to be said.

I arrived at the bridge before Auntie, thanks to my cousins showing me a narrow path just a couple of days earlier. I rode right on up to the bridge and oh so quietly kicked my kick-stand down. There wasn’t one holler, mostly because the police and other officials were concentrating on the sadness below. Good thing I had enough sense to leave my bike where it lay and walk the rest of the way so as not to call attention to myself. As my excitement grew, I tried to hold my breath, feeling my heart thumping through my chest, hoping that my good fortune in not being shooed away would hold out until I got a closer look.

By now the sun was so low the river looked like black ink slapping the shore angrily for letting Uncle Frank’s crane drop into its waters, and men bobbing up and down like red and whites. Flashlights dotting and dashing about like lightening bugs searching for their supper. A few orders jabbed out amongst the men here and there. Other than that, there was silence.

A startling shout came from a man with a white hat, and a tremendous swoosh broke through the dark water. When the crane pulled the car up, with a solemn grinding motion, something burst free from one of the car’s open windows. Shocked me so bad I nearly fell over into the deep, so shaken from the sight.

A man’s hand had set itself free from the car.

At first glance, the hand seemed to be riding the surface of the water, waving happily without care. But then the ashen skin with its grotesque wormy veins made it clear it was not.

Something glistened in rhythm with the ripples of water flowing over his fingers—a gold band.

But before I could focus, the shoulder and the head of the man slipped through the window like an eel. I could have held on a little longer but for the man’s face turning upward; his eyes bulging out of their sockets like strained ping pong balls. I threw up right then and there on the bridge, and luckily not on my brand new checkered shirt.

“Hey, hey you there girl! Get off the bridge before you drown your fool yourself! We don’t have time to be searching for no more bodies tonight. G’on now!” The man with the white hat again. I wanted to say sorry, but my wobbling legs took the best of me. Luckily I spotted Auntie on the shore, so I got my bike and stumbled to her side. Auntie held me close to her breast for a little while, still keeping her watch over the damage in the Ahoskie River.

I gathered myself and sat on the hood of her car, still hot from the engine, with a sweater between it and my legs. Auntie stood like stone beside me. Even the soft jowls of her face looked hard above her densely clasped hands.

I caught Uncle Frank’s eye across the river, and he waved to me in return. Not the free and happy to see you kind of wave, more like the I am here and so are you kind.

The rumble of a car moving fast towards us made me turn behind myself to see who was in such a hurry to see death. The Spring City emergency squad had already arrived, though late if you ask me, and there was nothing left to do except get that poor soul out of there. As the car’s lights peeked through the woods, I could see a turquoise Ford Country Sedan with a woman behind the wheel. A black woman. She steered wildly, like a cartoon character scripted for disaster, nearly hitting us as she drove up beside us. Punishing the brakes to screeching tears.

Barely before the car had stopped, she ran out towards the bridge.

She had on a light blue dress that ruffled at the collar and short sleeved cuffs. Her black hair, which was once held in a knot, was fast becoming a ponytail with every step she took. And she was beautiful. Only when she reached the water’s edge did I hear her crying. No, not crying.

She made a sound like an animal being torn apart from its limbs. She did not get far, thank God.

“My babyyy!” She hollered. Fighting to break free of the man in the white hat who had taken both her firm arms.

“Noooo, not my baby! Emma! No God, no!”

I looked over to Auntie’s grim face.

She could have been mistaken for a totem pole. I was afraid to speak; to interrupt the stranger’s pain seemed rude, but Auntie must have read my mind.

“Emma is…was their baby.” Aunt Alice swallowed hard when she said ‘baby.’ “The man you saw down there, her husband, Joseph Samuel.” I’ve known my Aunt Alice all of my life.

She obviously had some kind of affection for these folks for her to well up like this. “Joseph and Violet Samuel…and their daughter Emma.”

Lost in misery, we hardly noticed that Uncle Frank had crossed the bridge to meet us. He gave Auntie a long hug, then ushered me in to join them.

“What happened?” She whispered.

“I don’t know, hun’. Sheriff Bigly said the skid marks show Joseph drove that car clear off the bridge.” He stroked her back, gently rubbing the information in, soothing her like oil on a baby’s bottom. She let his powerful strokes sway her back and forth without resistance.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man dashing to the grieving Miss Violet. A man named Benjamin Samuel, I gathered, from the loud and thankful greeting made by Sheriff Bigly.

Must be someone close in the family, I thought. He barely grazed her arm, when she suddenly turned to see who it was.

“My baby’s dead!” she cried to him.

His long fingers got a hold of her petite arms. As he pulled her closer in, she fought with the strength of twenty slaves to be free from his grasp. But he wouldn’t let go. She kicked her feet wildly to get him off of her, but she failed. I could hear her lungs heaving hard, until her body became limp in his arms.

That moment was hard with silence.

*

After what seemed like forever, Auntie finally broke her trance, got into the car and turned the engine on. I nearly fell off the hood from the suddenness of her intentions. Thank goodness her headlights were already on. I grabbed the handle and swung myself into the seat.

As soon as my seatbelt ‘clicked’ she was heading out. She braked with a jerk, and then yanked the gear hard into forward. As she pulled around to get back on the road, a dust cloud gathered around the wheels. Crackling bits of dirt and gravel pricked the skin of my arm dangling out the window.

“You okay Auntie?” I asked. I wanted to touch her hand, but both were clinched with a mind to stay on the steering wheel; ten and two o’clock. So I went for the flapping short sleeve of her shirt instead.

She nodded at me with a fleeting smile.

*

 

Thoughts
This is a good book considering it’s the author’s debut. The story is well written and kept me reading.  I liked the writing style, it was very descriptive and I felt I was there with Lizbeth, trying to figure things out, especially where that penny went.

Lizbeth was a great main character, and I loved that even at 14 yrs. old, she wanted to solve the mystery. The secondary characters were interesting, some were a bit peculiar, and together they all made the book a fun read, even through the rare slower parts.

I really enjoyed Mr. Samuel’s Penny, it has many aspects to it. There is a mix of mystery, bits of humor, social issues and more. I  would recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery.

 

Author Bio:

Treva Hall Melvin, has been a practicing attorney in all levels of government as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. A native New Yorker, she graduated from Villanova Law School in Pennsylvania and now lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband, their two children, and their dog Audrey. She loves athletics and antiquing.

 

Nov 122014
 

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Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind by Lindsay Gaskins

Want to get your frontal cortex breaking a sweat? Make your blood pump to your cerebellum? Stretch your occipital lobe to its limits?

Then you need to bend your brain! This first book from the team behind Marbles: The Brain Store, a chain devoted to building better brains, offers puzzles and brain teasers to help enhance memory, build problem-solving skills, and reduce stress.

Since Marbles started helping people play their way to a healthier brain, they’ve sold, solved, and been stumped by more than their fair share of puzzles. Along the way, they’ve learned which puzzles tie people in knots (not in a good way) and which ones make the neurons downright giddy. With the help of their in-house team of BrainCoaches and access to cutting-edge neuroscience, they’ve designed these puzzles to keep your mind flexible and fit.

Arranged in five key brain categories—visual perception, word skills, critical thinking, coordination, and memory—Bend Your Brain offers a variety of puzzles ranging from mind-warming (easy) to mind-blowing (hard!):

• Connecting the dots? More like working your spatial-orientation skills.
• Identifying famous smiles? Flexing your visual memory.
• Taking a closer look at your keyboard? Coding, storing, and retrieving.
• Word-doku? Summoning cognitive abilities like appraisal, inference, impulse control, and evaluation.
• Word scrambles? Tapping your brain’s association areas.

Your brain is your most important muscle, so let the brain-building begin!

Thoughts
I love trivia, puzzles, brain teasers etc. so when I saw this book at Blogging For Books, I knew I wanted to get a copy.

Let me tell you, this book is hard. I’ve been doing brain exercises for years and still, some of the puzzles in this book were not easy. I loved that the book made me work my brain harder than I’m used to. There were times when I got frustrated, but I’m stubborn and wouldn’t give up. And when I figured a puzzle etc. out, I was happy happy happy! And yes, there were a few that I never did figure out, but I’ll keep trying until I do get them, at least I hope I will…eventually.

If you want a book that will challenge your brain, get a copy of this book now!

I love this book!!

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

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Nov 092014
 

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The Dunning Man by Kevin Fortuna

Paperback: 140 pages
Publisher: Lavender Ink (October 19, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 193508464X
ISBN-13: 978-1935084648

The six stories in The Dunning Man feature anti-heroes who reject society’s rules. Characters from all walks of life—a rogue hip-hop star, a blackjack dealing mom, a middle-aged drunk plowing through his inheritance, and an empty-nester housewife trying to make peace with the past. They each exist in the here and now, living for what’s possible and what’s left—not what they’ve left behind. Redemption awaits all, but only along the rutted, gut-churning path of honest self-examination. Age quod agis.

Set in Atlantic City, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., the Hudson Valley and Manhattan, Fortuna’s stories depict the violent clash between society’s expectations and the chaotic arc of individual destiny. These are powerful tales of truth seekers imbued with larger-than-life personalities and the all-consuming need to find something worth seeking.

 

Thoughts
I love short stories, and this book did not disappoint me. All the stories were unique and the characters were interesting and quirky. The stories are short, the whole book is only 140 pages, and can be read in a short time. If you’re like me, you won’t want to put it down until the last word.

This is the debut book for the author, but you’d never know that by reading it. It reads like a book from a well seasoned author.

The stories take place in a mix of places, with a diverse group of people, and each story is unique.

If you like short stories with a bit of darkness, and with a laugh thrown in here and there, get a copy of this book.

I plan to keep it and read from it from time to time. I can’t wait for Fortuna’s next book!

 

About the author
Kevin Fortuna lives in Cold Spring, New York. He obtained a Bachelors degree in English Literature from Georgetown University, where he graduated summa cum laude. He is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship, the Quicksall Medal for Writing, a Fellowship in Fiction at the Prague Summer Writers Workshop and a Full Fellowship in Fiction at the University of New Orleans, where he received his MFA.

 

LINKS:
Here’s the tour schedule

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Nov 042014
 

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This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 23, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062088262
ISBN-13: 978-0062088260

The critically acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller A Land More Kind Than Home—hailed as “a powerfully moving debut that reads as if Cormac McCarthy decided to rewrite Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird” (Richmond Times Dispatch)—returns with a resonant novel of love and atonement, blood and vengeance, set in western North Carolina, involving two young sisters, a wayward father, and an enemy determined to see him pay for his sins.

After their mother’s unexpected death, twelve-year-old Easter and her six-year-old sister Ruby are adjusting to life in foster care when their errant father, Wade, suddenly appears. Since Wade signed away his legal rights, the only way he can get his daughters back is to steal them away in the night.

Brady Weller, the girls’ court-appointed guardian, begins looking for Wade, and he quickly turns up unsettling information linking Wade to a recent armored car heist, one with a whopping $14.5 million missing. But Brady Weller isn’t the only one hunting the desperate father. Robert Pruitt, a shady and mercurial man nursing a years-old vendetta, is also determined to find Wade and claim his due.

Narrated by a trio of alternating voices, This Dark Road to Mercy is a story about the indelible power of family and the primal desire to outrun a past that refuses to let go.

Purchase links:  Amazon, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble

 

Thoughts
What a great read! The characters were bold and the story was deeply emotional. Through the good and the bad, this story held my attention and blocked out everything else around me.

I felt so sad for Easter and Ruby and wanted their pain to go away. I had mixed feelings for their dad. One minute I didn’t like him at all and the next I did because he was at least trying to be the father he should have been all along…even though he went about it all wrong.

I liked that the story was told from different points of view, for me that made it have much more depth.

This is my first book by this author.  A Land More Kind Than Home has been on my list to read for a while and I hope to read it soon.

 

About The Author
5018174From author’s website: “Wiley Cash is The New York Times best-selling author of A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME and THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY, which are both available from William Morrow/​HarperCollinsPublishers.

A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME appeared on The New York Times bestsellers list in hardcover, paperback, and e-book. The New York Times also named it an Editor’s Choice and a Notable Book of 2012. The novel was included on best of 2012 lists by Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Books-a-Million, and many others. A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME won the Southern Independent Bookseller Ailliances’ Book Award for Fiction of the Year and the John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award from the UK’s Crime Writers’ Association, and it was a finalist for the PEN/​Robert W. Bingham Prize and the American Booksellers’ Association’s Debut Fiction Prize. Wiley’s second novel, THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY, was a national bestseller, an Indie Next Pick, a SIBA Okra Pick, an O Magazine Top Ten Title, a LibraryReads February Selection, and an Amazon Book of the Month. It has been optioned for film.

Wiley holds a B.A. in Literature from the University of North Carolina-Asheville, an M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He has received grants and fellowships from the Asheville Area Arts Council, the Thomas Wolfe Society, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. His stories have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Roanoke Review and The Carolina Quarterly, and his essays on Southern literature have appeared in American Literary Realism, The South Carolina Review, and other publications.

Wiley teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Fiction and Nonfiction Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. A native of North Carolina, he and his wife live in Wilmington.”

Find out more about Wiley on his website, connect with him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

 

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Nov 012014
 

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100 Places In France Every Woman Should Go by Marcia DeSanctis

Series: 100 Places
Paperback: 420 pages
Publisher: Travelers’ Tales (November 11, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1609520823
ISBN-13: 978-1609520823
 

Told in a series of stylish, original essays, 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go is for the serious Francophile, for the woman dreaming of a trip to Paris, and for those who love crisp stories well-told. Like all great travel writing, this volume goes beyond the guidebook and offers insight not only about where to go but why to go there. Combining advice, memoir and meditations on the glories of traveling through France, this book is the must-have in your carry-on when flying to Paris.

Award-winning writer Marcia DeSanctis draws on years of travels and living in France to lead you through vineyards, architectural treasures, fabled gardens and contemplative hikes from Biarritz to Deauville, Antibes to the French Alps. These 100 entries capture art, history, food, fresh air and style and along the way, she tells the stories of fascinating women who changed the country’s destiny. Ride a white horse in the Camargue, find Paris’ hidden museums, try thalassotherapy in St. Malo, and buy raspberries at Nice’s Cour Saleya market. From sexy to literary, spiritual to simply gorgeous, 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go is an indispensable companion for the smart and curious traveler to France.

Thoughts
This book is a must have for anyone planning on visiting France. It read like the author is talking to you in person, which makes it so easy to follow. Since I’ve always wanted to tour France, this book is one I’ll keep, and read random chapters from time to time.

I can’t list all the things I’d like to, but I can tell you a few in the book that interested me the most. My favorite was Chapter 79, For All The Ships At Sea…The Lighthouses Of Finistere, Brittany. This chapter was amazing to me because I love lighthouses. I love visiting them and collecting them, learning about them. And through this chapter I learned a lot. One of the things I learned was the French name for them, which is phares. The author made so many statements that I’d never thought of before, and that made me spend a lot of time mulling over different things I’d read. One in particular was that a lighthouse embodies a distinct poetry of the human spirit. For a lighthouse lover and collector like me, that sentence really touched me, because for me it’s so true, but I’d never thought of it like that before. I also learned that in Brittany’s Finistere department in the westernmost edge of France, there are twenty nine lighthouses. WOW! That would be an amazing place for me to tour!

Another favorite sections were about the food. It seems the food in France is a bit different than it is here in the U.S. It all sounds so yummy, and the dining experiences there are much different than what I’m used to here! Hopefully one day I’ll get to sample it.

If you have an interest in France at all, whether you’ve already been there or want to go, get this book. It has a variety of information of where to go and what to do, I’m sure you’d find a lot that would interest you.

Thanks so much to the author and Emma @ France Book Tours for sending me a copy of this book!

About The Author
unnamedMarcia DeSanctis is a former television news producer for Barbara Walters, NBC and CBS News.

She has written essays and articles for numerous publications including Vogue, Marie Claire, Town & Country, O the Oprah Magazine, Departures, and The New York Times Magazine.

Her essays have been widely anthologized and she is the recipient of three Lowell Thomas Awards for excellence in travel journalism,
as well as a Solas Award for best travel writing.

She holds a degree from Princeton University in Slavic Languages and Literature and a Masters in Foreign Policy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Visit her website

Follow her on Facebook, and Twitter 

Buy the book: Amazon, upcoming on Travelers’ Tales

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Oct 222014
 

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Pigeon In A Crosswalk by Jack Gray

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 19, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451641346
ISBN-13: 978-1451641349

From television producer Jack Gray comes a generational account of finding one’s way at work, at home, and even across the street.

There are a lot of unforgettable characters in these pages: a loveable if possibly alcoholic dog; a set of grandparents who crush on Alex Trebek and obsess about death; Golden Girls and blue bloods, anchormen and Supreme Court justices; divas and wags—but the best character of all is the author himself. To read Jack Gray’s musings is to enter the company of a young man of titanic wit and talent. As he observes and echoes the fixations and neuroses of his generation and our times, he will make you squirm, guffaw, and ultimately marvel.

 

Thoughts
When I first saw this book I didn’t know who the author was, but the title grabbed my attention so I decided to read it. I’m so glad I did!!

This book is full of stories from Jack Gray’s life, from when he was a child through his adulthood. I love the stories about his family, the time he spent working on Anderson Cooper’s show and all the celebrities he’s met and is friends with.

I can’t remember the last time I laughed out loud so much while reading a book. This will definitely be one of my favorite reads from 2014!

If you like to laugh, get a copy of this book!!

Oct 212014
 

Palmetto Moon 2

Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin

Series: Lowcountry
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (August 5, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425272109
ISBN-13: 978-0425272107

June, 1947. Charleston is poised to celebrate the biggest wedding in high-society history, the joining of two of the oldest families in the city. Except the bride is nowhere to be found…Unlike the rest of the debs she grew up with, Vada Hadley doesn’t see marrying Justin McLeod as a blessing—she sees it as a life sentence. So when she finds herself one day away from a wedding she doesn’t want, she’s left with no choice but to run away from the future her parents have so carefully planned for her. 

In Round O, South Carolina, Vada finds independence in the unexpected friendships she forms at the boarding house where she stays, and a quiet yet fulfilling courtship with the local diner owner, Frank Darling. For the first time in her life, she finally feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. But when her dear friend Darby hunts her down, needing help, Vada will have to confront the life she gave up—and decide where her heart truly belongs.

Thoughts
At first I was confused, wondering why in the word Vada would marrying Justin “as a life sentence”, and leave him at the alter. He was after all,wealthy and good looking.  But, as I started reading, I understood. You can’t choose who you love, and Vada knew she’d be unhappy if she went through with the marriage. So she did what she felt she had to do.

I loved reading about Vada and Frank…the circumstances that brought them together and the way they felt about each other. I also loved that they were opposites. Vada comes from a well to do family and Frank works hard for every penny. I thought both characters were well fleshed out. The other characters were all interesting and added so much to the story. Especially Claire. She was a good friend even while dealing with so much.

The book takes place in 1947 and it was fun to be transported back in time when things weren’t as technical and rushed as they are now.

This is a book I would recommend to anyone who likes romance, southern fiction, or just an easy, good read.

Meet The Author
unnamedKim Boykin was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.

Almost everything she learned about writing, she learned from her grandpa, an oral storyteller, who was a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the family farm, and people used to come from all around to hear him tell stories about growing up in rural Georgia and share his unique take on the world.

As a stay-at-home mom, Kim started writing, grabbing snip-its of time in the car rider line or on the bleachers at swim practice. After her kids left the nest, she started submitting her work, sold her first novel at 53, and has been writing like crazy ever since.

Thanks to the lessons she learned under that mimosa tree, her books are well reviewed and, according to RT Book Reviews, feel like they’re being told across a kitchen table. She is the author of The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule, and Palmetto Moon, also from Berkley 8/5/14. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.

 

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Oct 162014
 

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Bird In Hand by Christina Baker Kline

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 14, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062363999
ISBN-13: 978-0062363992

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train comes a novel about the choices we make, how they shape our lives, and how they can change them forever.

It was dark. It was raining. It was just an accident. On the drive home from a rare evening out, Alison collides with another car running a stop sign, and–just like that–her life turns upside down.

When she calls her husband from the police station, his accusatory tone reveals cracks in their relationship she’d never noticed were there. Now she notices everything. And she begins to realize that the life she carefully constructed for herself is as tenuous as a house of cards. Exquisitely written, powerful, and thrilling, Bird in Hand is a novel about love and friendship and betrayal, and about the secrets we tell ourselves and each other.

 

Thoughts
This is a well written thought provoking story that had me on highs and lows from the beginning.

I love stories about family relationships and friends, so this book was a perfect choice for me. The characters were both interesting and “real”, they weren’t perfect and that made them and the story very interesting.

Although I loved the characters. I can’t even name a favorite, because they all had their good and bad points. I was rooting for them one minute and the next I was yelling at them.

Their relationships were so much deeper and interlaced than I thought they’d be when I picked the book up. You see a bit of their past creeping up on them and see how it impacts the present.

This was my first Kline book and I do want to read more from her. She has a way of pulling you into the book that makes you want to keep reading. I don’t really like candy coated stories, and this definitely wasn’t one. Our lives are messy, marriages are messy, friendships are messy. Readers can connect to the characters on a personal basis, and that makes this book a winner in my eyes.

 
About The Author
unnamed (1)Christina Baker Kline was born in Cambridge, England, and raised there as well as in the American South and Maine. She is the author of five novels: Orphan Train, Bird in Hand, The Way Life Should Be, Desire Lines, and Sweet Water. She is co-editor, with Anne Burt, of About Face: Women Write about What They See When They Look in the Mirror and co-author, with Christina L. Baker, of The Conversation Begins: Mothers and Daughters Talk about Living Feminism. She has edited three other anthologies: Child of Mine, Room to Grow, and Always Too Soon. Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University from 2007 to 2011, Kline has also taught literature and creative writing at Yale, NYU, UVA, and Drew University. A graduate of Yale, Cambridge University, and the University of Virginia, where she was a Hoyns Fellow in Fiction Writing, Kline is a recipient of a Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowship and several research fellowships, and has been a Writer-in-Residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Kline lives with husband and three sons in Montclair, New Jersey. She is at work on another novel and an anthology.

Author links:
Here are some links to the book:
Here’s the tour schedule
 
 
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