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“The perfect book for parents who want — NEED — to laugh, but don’t have time to sit down and read a daunting book. Grab it, head to the bathroom and lock the door until they find you!”
— Jill Smokler, author ofConfessions of a Scary Mommy”The Big Book of Parenting Tweets dishes up bite-size nuggets of funny. Impossible to read just one.” — Jen Mann, author ofPeople I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban ScourgesThis book is HILARIOUS. Being a parent is a frustrating, hilarious, weird, wild experience. This book captures some of the best of our snark. You need it. You do. — Nikki Knepper, author ofMoms Who Drink and SwearA terrific read, featuring some of the funniest (and most honest) parents in the Twitterverse… my go-to gift for new parents! — Johanna Stein, author of How Not To Calm A Child On A Plane and Other Parenting Advice from a Questionable SourceTwitter isn’t just for breaking news and celebrity stalking—it’s also a goldmine of the funniest comedy online. Jokes? People tell jokes on Twitter? YES, they do. And they are hilarious … but who wants to sift through the hashtags, RTs and FFs to get to the good stuff?

WE GET IT! Parents don’t have time for all that. That’s why the duo behind the illustrated humor blog Science of Parenthood teamed up with Twitter maven Kate Hall of Hall of Tweets to create The Big Book of Parenting Tweets —a laugh-riot collection of more three-hundred tweetable moments straight from the parenting trenches from the most hysterical comedians on Twitter, who just happen to be parents.

Here is just a peek at some of what you’ll find inside:

My 4yo is trying to sell my own M&M’s back to me. This guy’s going places.
— @FatherWithTwins

With my wife away, my children keep asking me for things like meals and bandaids and sympathy, but I don’t know where we keep any of that.
— @KalvinMacleod

She took 4 y/o to the park & texted “Can I get her ice-cream?”
Get her a Heineken for all I care. Free babysitters get to call the shots.
— @BunmiLaditan

I wish bottles of ibuprofen came with a little prize inside, like maybe a babysitter.
— @SuburbanSnaps

To anyone out there thinking about having kids, today my 2yo threw a temper tantrum because she couldn’t get rid of her shadow.
— @XplodingUnicorn

Peppered with cartoons by Science of Parenthood, The Big Book of Parenting Tweets is the perfect gift for every over-worked, under-showered, sleep-deprived parent who could use a quick laugh, because who has time for more?

Thoughts
This book is seriously funny! I can’t remember ever laughing out loud so much while reading a book! You don’t have to know what Twitter or a Tweet is to enjoy this book. All you need is a teeny tiny sense of humor and this book will have you laughing your head off while everyone near you looks at you like you’ve lost your mind. I kept repeating what I read to my husband and probably told him more than half of what’s in the book.

If you have kids or grandkids or neices or nephews or any small child in your life, more than likely you’ll be able to relate to this book.

Whether you like Twitter or not, if you like funny or just need a laugh, go grab a copy of this book!! As fast as you can!

I received an advanced copy for review

 Posted by at 12:06 AM
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

 Posted by at 4:15 PM
Dec 202014
 

The Language of Hoofbeats

The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde

File Size: 3553 KB
Print Length: 344 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (December 9, 2014)
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B00IUA8IP6

New to a small town, Jackie and Paula envision a quiet life for their kids: a young adopted son and two teenage foster children, including the troubled Star. However, they quickly butt heads with their neighbor, Clementine, who disapproves of their lifestyle and is incensed when Star befriends her spirited horse, Comet. Haunted by past tragedy and unable to properly care for Comet, Clem nevertheless resents the bond Star soon shares with the horse. When Star disappears with Comet, the neighbors are thrown together—far too close together. But as the search for the pair wears on, both families must learn to put aside their animosity and confront the choices they’ve made and the scars they carry.

Plumbing the depths of regret and forgiveness, The Language of Hoofbeats explores the strange alchemy that transforms a group of people into a family.

Thoughts
The story will remind you that family isn’t always blood or cookie cutter. Sometimes family is a mix of the people you choose to share your life and love with. There are quite a few subjects that will pull at your heart and make you hug those you love a little tighter.

Jackie and Paula are both great characters, and so are the kids the take in, even though they all have their own issues. Clementine rubbed me the wrong way for most of the book but she finally came to her senses and won me over. I also loved reading the parts with the horse. It made me sad when Comet was first introduced into the story because of the way it was housed etc., but I loved when Jackie and Paula’s daughter bonded with the horse.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to read a really good book about family. Loved it!!

 Posted by at 7:39 AM
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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 Posted by at 8:13 PM
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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 Posted by at 12:02 AM
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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 Posted by at 12:00 AM
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

 Posted by at 12:02 AM
Nov 132014
 

mr_samuels_penny_cover

 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.

 

 Posted by at 1:19 AM
Oct 032014
 

Whiny Whiny Rhino big (640x800)

Whiny Whiny Rhino by McBoop

Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Blue Blanket Publishing; 1st edition (July 31, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0990362310
ISBN-13: 978-0990362319
 

Can Tiny Tiny Rhino have a fun day? Or will all of his whining get in the way? If you’ve ever been worried to try something new, then Whiny Whiny Rhino is the book for you! From creative team McBoop, comes the story of the whiny rhino with the big head and the even bigger imagination.

Thoughts
What a cute book for any child who is afraid to try new things. Tiny will show them that all you have to do is try, and that’s when the fun starts.

The story is adorable, the illustrations are shiny, bright and bold. Told in rhyme, the verses are cute and would make a good book to use for teaching small children to learn to read.

The website has a lot of fun things to do… Tiny’s Blog, games, activities and even a shop where you can buy t-shirts etc.

I think any small child would love this book and highly recommend it to parents or grandparents who’d like to buy a good, positive book for the child in their life.

 Posted by at 1:19 AM
Oct 012014
 

334176

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Paperback: 408 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reissue edition (September 8, 1997)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0449912558
ISBN-13: 978-0449912553

In 2019, humanity finally finds proof of extraterrestrial life when a listening post in Puerto Rico picks up exquisite singing from a planet which will come to be known as Rakhat. While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own. What the Jesuits find is a world so beyond comprehension that it will lead them to question the meaning of being “human.” Words like “provocative” and “compelling” will come to mind as you read this shocking novel about first contact with a race that creates music akin to both poetry and prayer.

 

Thoughts
There are probably a lot of book lovers out there that haven’t or won’t read this because of the “religious” aspect of the book. Please, don’t let that keep you from a truly awesome book.

This book is way out of my comfort zone. Not because of the religious aspect, but because it has science fiction/fantasy/alien/space travel, none of which I like.

At least I didn’t, until Trish’s read-a- long. I almost didn’t join because I truly didn’t think I’d get past the first 20 pages. To be honest, it was a struggle for me to keep reading at first. But then, and I’m not even sure at what point in the book it was, but I was reading along and was surprised to find out how engrossed I was in the book. Time had past without me even being aware of how long. I was very much in like with the book. So I kept reading. And kept reading. And then I found myself very much in love with the book.

I know!! It surprised me too!

In Trish’s reveiw she said  “That stupid blinking cursor. Taunting me for having ALL of the things to say but not really knowing how to say any of them.” That’s how I feel. I’m not sure how to put into words all my thoughts and feelings about the book so it sounds as good as it is. So I’ll make it short and hope you decide to read it for yourself.

The book has some awesome, amazing characters. It also has some awesome, amazing stuff going on that is so different from what I’m used to reading. This book showed me that I can, and do in this case, like science fiction/fantasy/alien/space travel if it’s written superbly, which this was.

Do I want to read book two in the series, Children of God? Very much! Will I? I can’t say for sure because I get sidetracked a lot when it comes to what I plan on reading. Finding new to me books has a way of throwing me off course.

There is so much I could say about this book, but honestly I don’t think I’d do it justice. So…my advice to you (especially if you’re not sure you’ll like it) is to borrow a copy from your library. That way you save money and you’re library always appreciates you borrowing books. If by some strange reason your library doesn’t have it, buy a new or like new used copy online. It shouldn’t cost very much.

My final thought goes to Trish. Thank you for getting me out of my comfort zone. It felt good!!

 

sparrow readalong

Host by Trish @ Love, Laughter, And A Touch Of Insanity

The Details:
Begin: September 1st
Halfway: September 15th (through ch 19, pg 201 of my copy)
Finish: September 30th

 Posted by at 7:50 PM