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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Silver Six by AJ Lieberman & Darren Rawlings

The Silver Six by AJ Lieberman & Darren Rawlings
Graphix (Scholastic)
ISBN: 978-0545370981
Published June 25, 2013
Trade paperback, 192 pages
Ages: 8+

We loved reading The Silver Six! My 9 year-old son read it first, all in one sitting, and then I did too. Finally, my hubby picked it up and enjoyed it just as much as we did. We just couldn't resist six orphan kids who worked together to overcome obstacles to find a home. This book stressed the importance of family and the value of friendship. It was full of good messages for kids!

Set in a futuristic world, a group of kids in an orphanage find themselves with one thing in common. Their parents had all left them a moon registry as a gift. Phoebe and her pal Oliver lead them in an escape to an uninhabited moon where the kids realize how much they want to have a place called home. They discover more about their own parents and exactly what role they played in the company Craven Mining that had them killed. This propels them to fight back against this corporate boss who has sent a henchman after them.

All of us liked the characters in this story. The six kids were all from different nationalities and had both strengths and weaknesses. Phoebe's robot Max was hilarious and my son and I loved their relationship. There were many funny laugh-out-loud moments in this book. The six kids acted their age, but also showed maturity because of being orphans. There were a few touching scenes too that brought tears to my eyes.

The illustrations were great, especially the emotions on the kids' faces. My son thought they were cool and he couldn't put the book down, reading it all in one hot afternoon during our vacation in Rome. One night after I put my son to bed he said he was thinking of the Silver Six kids because for him they were like superheros. He wants to read more books from these authors, both dads whose obvious experience in parenthood comes through loud and clear in this fun action-adventure tale.

We highly recommend this graphic novel for all middle-grade kids. It has good messages about family and friendship. It encourages kids to work together and helps them understand that even bad people can change. We will definitely be looking for more books from these authors!

Note: This book is rated V = mild violence. There are some shooting scenes with guns and explosions. However, no blood or gore.

Reviewed by Laura & Son

Disclosure: Thanks to Nikole Kritikos from Scholastic for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Duty by Rachel Rossano

Duty by Rachel Rossano
CreateSpace
ISBN: 978-1482360110
Published Feb 14, 2013
Trade paperback, 352 pages

I really like the way Rachel Rossano writes non-magical fantasy fiction set in medieval worlds. This is the third book I read of hers, and I enjoyed it immensely. I can see she has also grown as a writer. She immersed me right into the fictional world of Rhynan and kept me there.

Civil war has left Brielle Solarius' village destitute. As a noblewoman she feels it is her duty to help the women and children in her village from starvation because of the poor management of her wicked cousin, Lord Wisten. But when he sells her into marriage to save his life, feisty Brielle finds herself the wife of Tomas Dyrease, the new Earl of Irvaine, a man who resembles and acts more like a foot soldier than a noble. But she is bound by duty to the King and her marriage vows. As the two get to know each other amidst betrayals, accusation of treason and a deadly plot, their growing affection for one another is put to the test.

First off, I really liked Brielle and Tomas. She was bright, courageous, and cared deeply about her people. Tomas was a diamond in the rough, chivalrous and loyal. Sparks flew when the two met and I liked their banter. Once they marry, though, Brielle loses some of her feistiness and comes to accept her husband and his affections rather quickly. I would have liked a little more sparing between the two of them. Rossano is a master when it comes to drawing the reader into her stories. Her book beginnings are wonderful, and I always miss some of that suspense and tension she skilfully builds right from the first sentence.

The story pace was good and so was the plot. The dialogue was great, and I liked the medieval setting. This was the perfect novel for me to escape in. I was craving a clean romance with action in a historical setting and this book fit the bill. I can't wait to read more from this indie author whose work I truly enjoy.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.

The Crown of Anavrea  and The Mercenary's Marriage are the two novellas that I have read and reviewed in the past. Rossano has since given them new covers, which I really like. She has also written another novella called Word and Deed and has just released the full-length novella Wren. Having just read an excerpt of this book, I knew immediately I want to read it!

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Maggie's Art: A Maggie McGill Mystery by Sharon Burch Toner


Maggie’s Art: A Maggie McGill Mystery by Sharon Burch Toner
CreateSpace
ISBN: 9781448626588
Published: Sept 3, 2009
Trade Paperback, 194 pages

Maggie McGill paints for pleasure and relaxation after her hectic days as a psychotherapist. Then, suddenly, her art career takes off, thanks to her daughter, Allie, when Maggie has an exhibition of her primitive art paintings. A cold-blooded murder occurs at the vernissage and the two women are plunged into the mystery.

This is the second in a series of cozy mysteries in which Maggie and Allie, with the help of law-enforcement officers and Hadi, the mysterious Sufi Moslem, with his philosophical attitude, solve crimes. Apart from those three main characters, however, it is a completely new cast of players from those that we met in the first novel, Maggie’s Image. (You may read my review here.)

At the heart of the novel, for me, is the warm, loving bond between mother and daughter. Both women are kind, generous, sympathetic and strong. Their mutual love and respect rang out so clearly. I was envious.

I enjoyed this well-written, fast-moving novel. Plus the mystery kept me turning the pages and best of all, it is a completely clean read; no need to worry about coming across f-bombs or the like.

I wholeheartedly recommend this novel to mystery buffs, and those who value strong, independent women.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.

Reviewed by Sandra

Disclosure: Thanks to Sharon Burch Toner for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mailbox Monday and It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia who now blogs at To Be Continued. It is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Tasha at Book Obsessed is hosting for the month of July. You can also view the touring blog list here for the upcoming months.

Book for Review:

Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

At eighteen, Kate Worthington knows she should be getting serious about marriage, but her restless heart won t let her settle down. To escape her mother s meddlesome influence, she dreams of traveling with her spinster aunt to exotic India. But when the opportunity arises, Kate finds herself making a bargain with her mother: she will be allowed to go only if she spends a season at the family s wealthy estate, Blackmoore, where she must secure and reject three marriage proposals. Enlisting the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield, Kate sets out to collect her proposals so she can be on her way. But Henry s decision to help threatens to destroy both of their dreams in ways they could never imagine. Set in Northern England in 1820, Blackmoore is a regency romance that tells the story of a young woman struggling to learn how to listen to her heart. With hints of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, Blackmoore is a page-turning tale of romance, intrigue, and devotion.


Free Kindle Book:

The Forgotten Ones by Laura Howard

Allison O'Malley's plan is to go to grad school so she can get a good job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She has carefully closed herself off from everything else, including a relationship with Ethan, who she's been in love with for as long as she can remember.

What is definitely not part of the plan is the return of her long-lost father, who claims he can bring Allison's mother back from the dark place her mind has gone. Allison doesn't trust her father, so why would she believe his stories about a long forgotten Irish people, the Tuatha de Danaan? But truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother's sanity.


Hearts That Survive: A Novel of the Titanic by Yvonne Lehman

On April 15, 1912, Lydia Beaumont is on her way to a new life with a boundless hope in love and faith. Her new friendship with Caroline Chadwick is bonded even more as they plan Lydia’s wedding on board the “grandest ship ever built.” Then both women suffer tragic losses when the “unsinkable” Titanic goes down. Can each survive the scars the disaster left on their lives?

Decades later, Alan Morris feels like a failure until he discovers he is the descendant of an acclaimed, successful, heroic novelist who went down with the Titanic. Will he find his identity with the past, or will he listen to Joanna Bettencourt, Caroline’s granddaughter, who says inner peace and success come only with a personal relationship with the Lord? Will those who survived and their descendants be able to find a love more powerful than their pain?


Bought:

A Breathe of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont

In this stunning, imaginative novel, Eve Marie Mont transports her modern-day heroine into the life of Jane Eyre to create a mesmerizing story of love, longing, and finding your place in the world. . .

Emma Townsend has always believed in stories--the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates. Perhaps it's because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn't come close to filling the void left by her mother's death. And her only romantic prospect--apart from a crush on her English teacher--is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma's confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre. . .

Reading of Jane's isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane's body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she's never known--and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane's story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own. . .




This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. This is where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.  The kidlit version is hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts.

Read and reviewed:
Swept Up by the Sea by Tracy and Laura Hickman
Harlequin's Costume by Leonid Yuzefovich
Buzz Books 2013: Fall/Winter by Publishers Lunch
Tommysaurus Rex by Doug TenNapel

Currently Reading:
Nerve by Taylor Clark

Still Listening to:
High Steaks: Why and How to Eat Less Meat by Eleanor Boyle (enlightening)

Hope you all have a great reading week!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Kid Konnection: Tommysaurus Rex by Doug TenNapel

Tommysaurus Rex by Doug TenNapel
Graphix
ISBN: 978-0545483834
Published: May 28, 2013
Trade Paperback, 144 pages
Ages 9-12

Synopsis:

When Ely's beloved dog, Tommy, is hit by a car, he goes to his grandpa's house for the summer to get his mind off things. While exploring a nearby cave one day he discovers a full-grown but friendly Tyrannosaurus Rex. As the news of the dinosaur grows around town, so does the friendship between Ely and his Jurassic pet. But Randy, the mean kid down the street, decides he's going to make life miserable for Ely and his dinosaur-to devastating effect.

Our Thoughts:

My son was ecstatic when he received this book from scholastic. He loves graphic novels and dinosaurs so this combination was perfect. He dug into it right away. About thirty pages in, he came to me all dejected, telling me the book was making him sad because the main character Ely's dog Tommy gets hit by a car and dies and then later Ely gets bullied. The fact that this novel touched my son so deeply and so quickly told me it was good, so I told him to take a break and go back to it later.

Later the same day...

My son finished the novel and couldn't stop talking about the ending. Couldn't stop talking about this book. Period. He was smiling. I could tell the bittersweet ending affected my dinosaur-loving kid. He liked the adventurous story, thought it was funny, even if it did have some really sad moments. I could tell he could relate to Ely, a cute kid who loved his pets. Tommy is even the name of my son's turtle. There was one thing my son didn't like. After the realistic emotions of losing a dog, my son said that making Ely totally unafraid, when he first encountered the T-Rex, was too unrealistic. I agreed. There was no befriending process.

As a parent, I really appreciated that Ely had good parents and a wise grandpa. They were flawed, funny and caring. I enjoyed the story too and also teared up at one point. I loved that this book dealt with several serious themes with sensitivity, interspersed with subtle humour. Some of these were: death of a beloved pet, dealing with bullies, parental separation, family unity and love, and finally forgiveness. It left my son and me with a good feeling.

We both liked the cartoon illustrations. I loved Ely's face. His expressions tugged at my heart, reminding me of my son. I can truly see the appeal of graphic novels for kids. My son loves to emulate various facial expressions and I could see why he likes graphic novels so much. He's already pointed to the back cover of the book, asking me if I could get the other books by this author.

This was a heartwarming and funny graphic novel with positive messages. Highly recommended for reluctant readers and lovers of graphic novels and dinosaurs.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.

Reviewed by Laura & Son

Disclosure: Thanks to Nikole Kritikos from Scholastic Canada for sending us this book for review. We were not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Every Saturday, Booking Mama hosts a feature called Kid Konnection—a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, visit Booking Mama.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Buzz 2013: Fall/Winter Edition

Buzz Books 2013 Fall/Winter: Exclusive Excerpts from 40 Top New Titles
Publishers Lunch
ISBN: 9780985491079
Published May 13, 2012
Kindle Book

Fall is the greatest season in book publishing, especially with all the buzz generated by Book Expo America. Book lovers everywhere anticipate and look forward to new releases by favorite as well as new and upcoming authors. If you didn't make it to BEA, like me, then the latest edition of Buzz Books is the way to see what new titles are soon to be released. And let me tell you, there are a lot of good books coming out!!

The titles are grouped into sections for fiction, debut fiction, nonfiction and young adult. Excerpts of 40 titles are included in this book, but there is a section that previews the Fall 2013/ Winter 2014 publishing season, and I liked going through this section to discover what's soon going to stock the bookstore shelves.

The nonfiction category is the one that caught my eye the most because its new titles sparked my interest. One of the books is Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. (I am currently reading Blink and enjoying it as I did Outliers.) Because I work with seniors, Knocking on Heaven's Door by Katy Butler about end-of-life care is another I would read. And as a parent I am very interested in how childhood and family relationships are affected in the digital age, a topic explored by Catherine Steiner-Adair and Theresa Barker in The Big Disconnect. There are also some foodie books that looked good.

The highly anticipated memoir I am Malala by 15 year-old Malala Yousafszai, who for years wrote an anonymous blog on life under the Taliban rule, tells her story of her determination and courage in the face of a restrictive society. This one I definitely want to read, perhaps even with my tween daughter. The Priority List by David Menasche is another one that's thought-provoking about a teacher with terminal brain cancer who travels across the country asking his students, "what if you could make a difference?"

As for YA, there are a few trilogies coming to an end with the publication of their third book, such as Champion by Marie Lu (Legend Trilogy) and Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Divergent Trilogy). I have to get going on reading these trilogies! The futuristic thriller Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta sounds good too.

Most of the books I listed here are not in this book as excerpts, except for Entangled. With so many new titles being released it would be difficult to include all the excerpts of the 100+ forthcoming books mentioned in this resource. Also at the end of most excerpts, you will find a link to the full galley on NetGalley. 

This is the third edition of Buzz Books. It's free on Kindle and worth looking through if you want in on the buzz of this fall and winter new releases.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read as a reference book only. I cannot vouch that all the book excerpts in this book are clean reads.

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Harlequin's Costume by Leonid Yuzefovich


Harlequin’s Costume: Volume One of the Putilin Trilogy by Leonid Yuzefovich
Glagoslav Publications
ISBN: 978-1782670292
Published: March 15, 2013
Trade Paperback, 268 pages

Harlequin’s Costume is the first volume in a trilogy whose main character is based on the real-life Ivan Dmitrievich Putilin, the Tsar’s (of the infamous Romanov dynasty) Chief of Police in St. Petersburg, Russia from 1866-1892. This book recounts events surrounding the murder of a foreign nobleman in 1871 Russia and how Chief Inspector Putilin solves it. A murder with political implications is committed, three people confess, but who is the real murderer? That, in essence, is the storyline in this is historical fiction/Russian whodunit.

This excellent translation from the original Russian is seriously funny. Chief Inspector Putilin is a simple civil servant: “with luxuriant side whiskers, a man moderately honest, moderately clever, and moderately well educated.” “His whiskers demand constant care, but Ivan Dmitrievich was beyond the point where he could shave them off. His fat bare cheeks would have required different facial expressions and thus a different tone for his relations with superiors and inferiors.” One of the police officers says about the murder investigation: “With this kind of evidence we can prove anything we like.”

The author is also a historian, so the details that he includes about the various political factions and events in pre-revolutionary Russia are interesting and educational. The reader also gets a sense of late 19th-century Russia in the descriptions of St. Petersburg, the fashions, the customs and culture. On the down side, the numerous characters are not very well developed so it is difficult to keep track of them; as well, I suspect that their Russian names may prove challenging for a North-American reader.

I enjoyed the book very much. It is only my second time reading a novel by a Russian author. I think it will certainly appeal both to Russian history buffs and mystery lovers. 

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.

Reviewed by Sandra

Disclosure: Thanks to Yana Kovalskaya from Glagoslav Publications for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Swept Up by the Sea by Tracy and Laura Hickman

Swept Up by the Sea by Tracy and Laura Hickman
Shadow Mountain
ISBN: 978-1609076610
Published July 2013
Hardcover, 336 pages

This was a fun and comical adventure! It had fantasy, pirate action and even a little romance. It's been described as “Pirates of Penzance meets Princess Bride”. My family and I love the movie Princess Bride, having seen it dozens of times. I even read the book. So I was eager to read Swept Up by the Sea, which I enjoyed very much. Best of all, it's a clean book appropriate for family reading, filled with tongue-in-cheek humour.

Percival Taylor wants adventure in his life and not the marriage that is being arranged for him to Vestia, a pretty village girl. So he leaves his town, escapes really, and finds himself in Blackshore, where he embarks on a quest to become a pirate and win the heart of the beautiful and determined Tuppence Magrathia-Paddock, the governor's daughter. As a slew of characters join him on his adventure, each with their own quests, they must all pull together to survive the stormy seas and rethink their motives.

Authors Tracy and Laura Hickman have a way of introducing characters so that each have their own unique stories which all come together when the characters join up for the sea voyage. This kept things fresh and unpredictable for me, and I wondered throughout about how things would connect and how it would all end. The characters were unique. I liked Vestia's fiery disposition, Percival's clumsy but wholehearted attempts, Professor Nick-Knack's devotion, and famous Captain Swash's way of keeping his real treasure hidden.

This story has fantastical creatures found in fairy-tales such as minotaurs, mermaids and mermen, and water nymphs. They play minor parts but make for fun reading. Actually, if this book were to be made into a movie, it would be visually appealing and entertaining. Lovers of fantasy movies would enjoy it.

I don't read too much fantasy but this one really appealed to me because it wasn't filled with black magic or sorcery but rather interesting characters with very unique dilemmas in a comical fantasy setting. It was an entertaining book with chivalrous male characters and strong female ones. The perfect combination for a romantic fairy tale.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mailbox Monday, and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? July 15 Edition

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia who now blogs at To Be Continued. It is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Tasha at Book Obsessed is hosting for the month of July. You can also view the touring blog list here for the upcoming months.

Books For Review:

Tommysauraus Rex by Doug TenNapel

In the tradition of OLD YELLER comes the heartwarming friendship between a boy and his Tyrannosaurus Rex

When Ely's beloved dog, Tommy, is hit by a car, he goes to his grandpa's house for the summer to get his mind off things. While exploring a nearby cave one day he discovers a full-grown but friendly Tyrannosaurus Rex. As the news of the dinosaur grows around town, so does the friendship between Ely and his Jurassic pet. But Randy, the mean kid down the street, decides he's going to make life miserable for Ely and his dinosaur-to devastating effect.

The Silver Six by Aj Lieberman & Darren Rawlings

A group of orphans on the run search for a new home among the stars.

When a group of orphans discover they have a common connection, plucky heroine Phoebe leads them in a daring escape from their orphanage to an uninhabited moon. But their idyllic paradise is shattered when the powerful corporate boss who caused the deaths of their parents sends a relentless henchman to track them down. Now, with nowhere left to turn and tired of being on the run, these resourceful kids decide there's only one thing left to do: Fight back!


Tinky's Magic Cookies by Susan Spira

"Sometimes when you are scared or feeling blue, You forget what's inside of you." Tinky's Magic Cookies by Susan Spira Bow-Wowwy, this is a cute book! A fun walk on a beautiful day turns into a memorable adventure for a little Shih-Tzu dog, Tinky. Starting out with a knapsack of cookies, Tinky meets and helps three new friends to overcome sadness, self-doubt, and fear. Kitty, Lizzie, and Bluey Bird learn the important lesson to believe in themselves from Tinky's kindness. Sweet lovable characters, positive up beat language, a lovely message of hope, plus enchanting artwork by illustrator Julie Leiman Weaver will make this book your child's favorite. Tinky's Magic Cookies by Author Susan Spira is a perfect vehicle to help you teach your child self-confidence, self-belief, and the magic to helping others.



Tinky and the Dragon by Susan Spira

Sometimes hearing "Glubb, Glubb" may just mean that you have water in your ears and sometimes there's more to the story. In the book, Tinky and the Dragon, kindness and willingness to help take a sweet Shih-Tzu doggie girl, Tinky on an underwater adventure of sorts in which good triumphs over not so good. A big truck, a suitcase, a snow globe, a castle, sweet smells and a big green dragon move this charming story full circle with surprises. Sweet loveable characters, fun language, silly situations, plus enchanting illustrations by Julie Leiman Weaver will engage your children to use their imagination and have a giggle or two. With an entertaining, joyful, giggle-filled story and endearing characters, Tinky and the Dragon is a book that your child will cherish and want to read over and over and over. And you will be happy to join them.



Tinky and the Baby Butterfly by Susan Spira

Tinky, a sweet Shih-Tzu doggie girl agrees to help out Mommy Butterfly and babysit her two babies, Betty and Bertie. Babysitter Tinky gets a little more than she bargains for with the rambunctious butterfly babies as an adventure on a grand scale ensues. Sweet lovable characters, fun language, silly situations, a little suspense, but not scary, plus enchanting illustrations by Julie Leiman Weaver will engage your children to use their imagination and have a good giggle or two. This is purely a fun story with wholesome characters and sweet dispositions. With an entertaining, joyful, giggle-filled story and endearing characters, Tinky and the Baby Butterflies is a book that your child will want to read over and over. And you'll be happy to join them.



Free Audiobook from Sync:

The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged. In the faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew and his little sister Hettie live by these words. Bartholomew and Hettie are Peculiars, and neither faeries nor humans want anything to do with them. But when Peculiars start showing up in London murdered and covered with red tattoos, Bartholomew breaks all the rules and gets himself noticed. Full of magic, dazzling inventions, and intriguing characters such as Mr. Jelliby and Lord Lickerish, this story of friendship, bravery, and nonstop action adventure was hailed by best-selling author Christopher Paolini as "swift, strong, and entertaining. Highly recommended." The Peculiar ends with a spectacular cliff-hanger, and the story concludes in The Whatnot.

Free Kindle Books:

Courting Miss Lancaster by Sarah M. Eden

Harry Windover adores blonde, green-eyed Athena Lancaster, but alas, a penniless man like himself has no hope of winning a young noblewoman’s hand. To add insult to injury, Athena’s brother-in-law and guardian, the Duke of Kielder, has asked Harry to assist Athena in finding the gentleman of her dreams. But the lovesick Harry is cunning as well: as the weeks pass, he introduces Athena to suitors who are horrifically boring, alarmingly attached to their mothers, downright rude, astoundingly self-absorbed, and utterly ridiculous. Athena can’t comprehend why she is having so little success meeting eligible and acceptable gentlemen. Indeed, her circle of admirers couldn’t be less admirable — nothing like the loyal, gentle friend she’s found in Harry. But how long can Harry’s scheme be hidden before it is discovered? And what will Athena do when she uncovers Harry’s deception? Escape into a charming regency world in this delightfully romantic comedy of manners that will entertain you to the very last word.


Freefall by Elizabeth Ruston

Eliza Shepherd is known for the exciting adventure columns she writes with her husband, Jamey. But when Jamey dies while climbing, Eliza finds herself lost, confused, and trying to rebuild a life on her own.

When Jamey’s mother is widowed, too, Eliza makes a decision: to accompany her mother-in-law back to Jamey’s hometown and help her settle in. It will give Eliza the chance to work on the book she’s writing about Jamey, and take her away from a life that isn’t working for her anymore.

She doesn’t expect the pain she’ll find there—or the pleasure.

Eliza has already had one good man in her life, and isn’t looking for another. But love has a way of appearing, whether you’re ready for it or not.


Intrigue by Jaimey Grant

A troubled lady...
Malvina is in over her head. Blackmail, highway robbery, murder, and treason are just some of the crimes she’s become embroiled in. With each passing day, her chances of escape—and survival—lessen.

A bored gentleman...
Gideon stumbles upon a holdup where all is not as it seems. Kidnapping one of the robbers’ accomplices hands him the very lady he was sent to investigate. Is she as caught up in her husband’s treasonous activities as his superiors suspect, or is simple highway robbery more her cup of tea?

A dangerous alliance...
Gideon is determined to help Malvina even if doing so leads to some unpleasant truths. Malvina acknowledges her need for Gideon’s help, but accepting might require her to make the ultimate sacrifice: her son.


Wired by Douglas E. Richards

Kira Miller is A brilliant genetic engineer who discovers how to temporarily achieve savant-like capabilities in all areas of thought and creativity. But what if this transcendent level of intelligence brings with it a ruthless megalomania?

David Desh left the special forces after his team was brutally butchered in Iran. Now he has been reactivated for one last mission: find Kira Miller, the enigmatic genius behind a bioterror plot that threatens millions. But when Desh learns that the bioterror plot is just the tip of the iceberg, he is thrust into a byzantine maze of deception and intrigue, and he becomes a key player in a deadly game he can't begin to understand. A game that is certain to have a dramatic impact on the future course of human history. . .

WIRED is a smart thriller crammed with breakneck action, unexpected twists, mind-expanding science, and intriguing concepts readers will be contemplating long after they've read the last page.




This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. This is where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.  The kidlit version is hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts.

Read and reviewed:
Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock (sweet coming of age story)
The Story of Sassy Sweetwater by Jane Vera Cook (reviewed by Sandra)
Tilda Pinkerton's Magical Hats by Angela Sheldon
The Husband List by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly (fun audiobook)
Mister Dash and the Cupcake Calamity by Monica Kulling (adorable!)

Currently Reading:
Nerve by Taylor Clark
Duty by Rachel Rossano

Still Listening to:
High Steaks: Why and How to eat Less Meat by Eleanor Boyle (enlightening)

Hope you all have a great reading week!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Kid Konnection: Mister Dash and the Cupcake Calamity by Monica Kulling, Illustrated by Esperança Melo

Mister Dash and the Cupcake Calamity by Monica Kulling, Illustrated by Esperança Melo
Tundra Books
ISBN: 978-1770493964
Published March 12, 2013
Hardcover, 32 pages
Ages 3-7

My son and I think this is such an adorable book! Dog lovers will love the serious butler-like Mr. Dash. And, of course, cupcake lovers will smile and smack their lips.

Mr. Dash lives with Madame Croissant who has a secret cupcake recipe. When she starts her own cupcake company named Cupcakes à Go-Go, she makes Mr. Dash her delivery dog. Now Mr. Dash is a well-mannered dog who thinks he looks foolish wearing a baker's hat and carrying boxes in his mouth. But then Madame Croissant's niece Daphne arrives and things liven up quite a bit. It's a good thing Mr. Dash is there to save the day from a calamity!

Madame Croissant is a lively character with her sing-song voice and French words. My son liked this because he can read French. Mr. Dash is a funny character because of his expressions and serious demeanor. He was the perfect contrast to Madame Croissant and her rambunctious niece. For anyone who has baked with kids, the dough-splattered scenes in this book will be familiar.

My son and I both loved the illustrations which captured the story and the characters perfectly. They are bright and lively. We loved how the illustrator brought to life the expressions of the characters, especially Mr. Dash. This is a fun book. It is a heartwarming glimpse of a dog's faithfulness and usefulness, even when it comes to cupcakes.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.

Reviewed by Laura & Son

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher for sending us this book for review. We were not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Every Saturday, Booking Mama hosts a feature called Kid Konnection—a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, visit Booking Mama.


Friday, July 12, 2013

The Husband List by Janet Evanovich & Dorien Kelly (Audiobook Review)

The Husband List by Janet Evanovich & Dorien Kelly
MacMillan Audio
Released 2012
Narrator: Lerelei King
Length: 8.5 hours, Unabridged

American heiress Caroline Maxwell grew up playing with her brother Eddie and his friend Jack Culhane. But now that Caroline is twenty-one, her formidable mama has a husband list of eligible rich men she hopes will ask for her daughter's hand in marriage, setting her biggest hope on the English Lord Bremerton. But Caroline longs for Jack, even though he is considered an unacceptable suitor since he has no title even if he does have money.

This was a fun and fluffy historical fiction set in New York City in the late 1800s. I haven't read any of Janet Evanovich's popular contemporary novels, better known as the Stephanie Plum series. So this is the first time I read one of her books, co-authored.

Caroline was a strong female character with a mind of her own albeit having a dominating and sometimes foolish mother. Jack was the dashing dark hero, of course. Caroline took some sexual risks with Jack, which could have led to disaster, but all turns out well in the end. It's a simple and predictable story, but great if you want a break from the heavier dramas.

This is a feel-good book, a romantic tale that is pure escapism. I listened to the audiobook version with Lorelei King as narrator, who did a great job with all the accents. She made listening to this book fun and easy. I would definitely listen to her again.

Note: This book is rated S = sexual scenes of kissing and touching, no sex.

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: I borrowed this audiobook from the library. I was not told how to rate or review this product.



Sound Bytes is hosted by Devourer of Books, a weekly Friday meme where you can link up your audio book reviews.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tilda Pinkerton's Magical Hats: By the Red Tractor Mailbox (Book 1) by Angela Shelton

Tilda Pinkerton's Magical Hats: By the Red Tractor Mailbox (Book 1) by Angela Shelton, Inside Illustrations by James Murray
Quiet Owl Books
ISBN: 978-0985944384
Published April 1, 2013
Hardcover, 196 pages

This is the first book in the Tilda Pinkerton and the Magical Hats chapter book series. It's got a cute cover and a welcoming page for kids that informs them how to use the book. They can color the pages and look up the new vocabulary words in the glossary found at the end of the book. It contains 344 words. We received the book with some beautiful stickers and a postcard message from the author.

The story is about eleven year-old Madison Mae and her younger seven year-old brother Albert who live on the family farm with their grandparents. It's not quite clear why their parents left them there, except that the children permanently live with their grandparents. The parents are only mentioned twice in the whole story. The children want to save the farm and have the chance to do so when Tilda Pinkerton shows up out of the blue with her shop of magical hats—hats that cause the wearer to use their imagination and create beautiful things.

I read this book with my son and after the first few chapters I can see that he wasn't too engaged. He lost interest in the story soon after. I think it's because the story seemed too babyish for the ages of the characters. They didn't speak like kids their age. I don't think my son could relate, even though he also has an older sister, just like Albert. He did like Tilda Pinkerton, who sported a tall hat with a fishtank in its center. She was quite original!

The book includes and introduces many new vocabulary words for each chapter and some of the words seemed too advanced for this type of story. The story sometimes came across as contrived, as if each sentence had to include a certain number of adjectives and big new words, but this came at the expense of plot and character development.

I think the author's idea is a good one—the introduction of vocabulary words. However, I think there was too much emphasis on the words and not enough on the story. Kids learn new words when they love a good story. When I wanted to read and look over the new words at the end of each chapter, my son refused and just wanted to move on. The message of the story is a good one. With the help of magical hats, a family pulls together their ideas and creates beautiful things.

Keep in mind this is just the opinion of one mom and her boy. Teachers may appreciate using this to improve reading skills. Actually, this book is intended to help children in the classroom. It's available for bulk purchases and can be ordered for an entire school or classroom at special discounts. You can also visit the Smart Board Interactive website for fun free activities at MagicHatShop.com.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.
For more reviews, please visit the book tour page.

About the author:
Angela Shelton is an author, actor, blogger and public speaker. She has been writing since she was eight years old. Her first novel was adapted into the movie Tumbleweeds. Angela won a regional Emmy award for her portrayal of Safe Side Superchick in The Safe Side video series created by Baby Einstein’s Julie Clark and America’s Most Wanted’s John Walsh. After living in Los Angeles for over a decade, Angela left the big city for a one-light country town to marry her first love and fulfill her dream of writing books in a barn house.

Find out how Angela has incorporated the character of Tilda Pinkerton into an entire line of book projects, each geared towards a different age group at www.MagicHatShop.com

Angela Shelton’s Website: http://angelashelton.com/
Angela Shelton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/angelasheltonAngela Shelton on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AngelaSheltonFanPageTilda Pinkerton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tildapinkerton

Reviewed by Laura & Son

Disclosure: Thanks to the author and Premier Virtual Author Book Tours for sending us this book for review. We were not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Interview with Vera Jane Cook, author of The Story of Sassy Sweetwater

Yesterday I posted my review of The Story of Sassy Sweetwater by Vera Jane Cook. (You can read my review here.) Today, Vera Jane joins me, Sandra, as I ask her a few questions about this novel set in the South.

Please help me welcome Vera Jane to Library of Clean Reads!

LCR: You probably get asked this a lot, but where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

VJC: They seem to come from my own past, things I've seen, places I've been and people I've known. Inspiration also comes from my own family and from the present world around me.

LCR: In The Story of Sassy Sweetwater, would you say that this is a typical story of the South?

VJC: I think every family has secrets, very strange secrets and to me the south is so rich with eccentricity. My novel takes place in the 60s and from that perspective there was certainly a lot of prejudice in the world but also many people who believed deeply in human dignity and human rights.

LCR: In that same book, why did you choose to put swear words into the mouth of young Sassy? 

VJC: My characters speak the way I believe is appropriate for them. I don't think Sassy really swore that much. You should read my present southern novel.

LCR:  Is there one particular author that you favour?

VJC: I like Joyce Carol Oates, Anita Shreve, and on the male side, Wally Lamb.

LCR: What is your favourite book? 

VJC: I have so many more than one favorite. I like The Dogs of Babel, The Kite Runner, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and All He Ever Wanted but there are so many more...

LCR: Do you have a favourite food? 

VJC: Italian

LCR: Thanks for joining us today, Vera Jane!

Sandra

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Story of Sassy Sweetwater by Vera Jane Cook


The Story of Sassy Sweetwater by Vera Jane Cook
Musa Publishing
ISBN: 9781619370272
Published: January 20, 2012
E-book, 289 pages

 Young Sassy Sweetwater (Sassy = attitude and Sweetwater = a stream) and her beautiful, unwed mother, Violet McLaughlin, return to the family home in South Carolina after being away for 13 years. There, Sassy first meets her rich, highly dysfunctional family. Upon meeting the respective family members from Grandma Edna to Aunt Elvira to Uncle Seth to Cousin Kyle, the reader senses that there is some kind of mystery in the background of this family. Why does Kyle “act” retarded but reads works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce and Keats? What does the small cross marking a burial place away from the family cemetery mean?

Almost immediately, I felt an undertone of unease which was justified when Uncle Liam returns home, shows an unnatural interest in Sassy, assaults her and is killed by a family member. She becomes estranged from her mother for years. Horrible family secrets gradually emerge and Sassy’s life is changed forever. She grows up, has an illegitimate child, two unsuccessful marriages, then marries the love of her life and eventually finds a kind of peace. It is a bitter-sweet story of a life fully lived. Woven throughout this tapestry are the threads of racial prejudice.

My favorite character is Grandma Edna, the matriarch of the family. She’s the proverbial “tough cookie” who has endured a difficult life with a wayward, domineering husband. Despite that, she has managed to keep her family intact, more or less, and proves to have a heart of gold. At first, she seems aloof and distant but turns out to be Sassy’s greatest supporter over the years. Matters take a murderous turn and Grandma Edna takes justice into her own hands when the family is threatened by evil forces in the person of her estranged husband. I was charmed by Sassy at the beginning, but was less so as she came of age. Not only was she promiscuous, but she made unwise choices in men that caused her endless problems.

This book is full of descriptions about the South, the landscapes and the people. Hear the southern drawl when Sassy says “Mama had the saddest eyes, like a wounded dog on the side of the road that you really want so badly to help, but you can’t offer your services without the risk of being bitten.” “Mama said that all men are fools for women, but for drop-dead gorgeous redheads, men are lame-brained idiots.” About Uncle Seth, “he was lanky, like some old tree limb hanging by a prayer.” About Grandma Edna, “so many lines ran across her face, like mazes in a dirt field that never met up or led anywhere.”

The cover of this e-book is quaint and nostalgic. It could have been a great read, despite the adult themes, had it not been filled with f-bombs and other expletives. This book may appeal to readers of Southern fiction, civil rights issues, and strong women.

Note: This book is rated P = profanity.

Reviewed by Sandra

Disclosure: Thanks to Vera Jane Cook for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock

Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock
Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0764210464
Published May 1, 2013
Trade Paperback, 320 pages

This is the second book I read by Ann Tatlock, and once again I really enjoyed her storytelling. It's a great summer read.

Sweet Mercy is a coming-of-age story set during the Great Depression and Prohibition. When Eve Marryat's father loses his job, they move away from crime-ridden St. Paul, Minnesota and move back to where her father grew up in Ohio. Eve's Uncle Cyrus has invited her family to live and work at his Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge, where Eve and her family have spent past summers. She has good memories of this idylic summer retreat and loves it the moment they arrive. During that memorable summer Eve discovers the stirrings of first love, meets a homeless young man named Link, and faces a dilemma when she realizes that things are not what they seem at the Lodge.

Eve is an interesting character. She is forthright and a little self-righteous. She also has a good sense of justice and is sensitive, kind and generous. The story is told from her first-person point-of-view and I enjoyed seeing her blossom. We see things from her perspective, her naive and innocent perspective, which was refreshing. Although at times, she came across as being much younger than her seventeen years. I found it interesting that Tatlock chose for Eve to have a very close relationship with her father. Her mother seemed absent to me. She was loving but seemed oblivious to her daughter's emotional feelings.

The historical setting really made this story memorable with the contrast of a beautiful summer vacation spot with the suit-clad, fedora-wearing gangsters that proliferated during Prohibition. Tatlock showed us the human side to these men and why some chose to break the law. She also showed us how the Depression changed people's lives. Link would often appear at the Logde along with other men who knew they would be given a free meal, and I truly liked how Eve came to develop a relationship with him.

This book was such a pleasure to read. It was clean and well-written. I am now a fan of Ann Tatlock's novels and look forward to reading Travelers Rest. If you like Christian fiction that isn't preachy, I would recommend this one.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read. V= violence (mild) for one scene with gun shooting and killing.

Reviewed by Laura 

Disclosure: This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mailbox Monday and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? July 8 Edition

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia who now blogs at To Be Continued. It is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Tasha at Book Obsessed is hosting for the month of July. You can also view the touring blog list here for the upcoming months.

Books For Review:

The Lady's Maid by Dilly Court

In the quiet of a warm summer's evening, two young mothers are forced to give up their babies. Whilst Kate grows up knowing only poverty and servitude, Josie's world is one of privilege and luxury. Despite the differences in their circumstances, Kate and Josie have been friends since childhood. But their past binds them together in ways they must never know. Until a chance meeting forces Kate and Josie to confront the truth of that night nearly twenty years before -- a truth that turns both worlds upside down and threatens to destroy their friendship forever.



The Best of Daughters by Dilly Court

Despite her privileged upbringing, Daisy Lennox has always longed to make something of her life. She is drawn to the suffragette movement, but when her father faces ruin they are forced to move to the country and Daisy's first duty is to her family. Here she becomes engaged to her childhood friend -- a union both families have dreamed of. But, on the eve of their wedding, war is declared, and Daisy knows her life will never be the same again.



Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden

Though she was only a child during the darkest days of Ireland s Great Famine, Katie Macauley feels responsible for the loss of her family s land and the death of her sister. Now a woman grown, Katie has left Ireland for America and the promise of earning money enough to return home again and plead for her family s forgiveness. She arrives in Hope Springs, Wyoming Territory, a town sharply divided between the Americans who have settled there, with their deep hatred of the Irish, and the Irish immigrants who have come searching for a place to call home. Her arrival tips the precarious balance, and the feud erupts anew. Even in the midst of hatred and violence, however, Katie finds reason to hope. Two men, as different as they are intriguing, vie for her heart, turning her thoughts for the first time toward a future away from Ireland. Katie must now make the hardest decision of her life: stay and give her heart a chance at love, or return home and give her soul the possibility of peace.

Got these three audiobooks as a gift from a friend! She was closing her Audible account and had three credits to use up, so she offered them to me. These are the audiobooks I chose:


Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

It's 1950 and the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie Moraine wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

It's the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We're out of oil. We've wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS - and his massive fortune - will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation. 

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle. Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions - and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.


The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge

An astonishing new science called "neuroplasticity" is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. In this revolutionary look at the brain, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, M.D., provides an introduction to both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they've transformed. From stroke patients learning to speak again to the remarkable case of a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole, The Brain That Changes Itself will permanently alter the way we look at our brains, human nature, and human potential.




This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. This is where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.  The kidlit version is hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts.

Read and reviewed:
Moryak: A Novel of the Russian Revelation by Lee Mandel (Sandra's review)
The Seeds of Beauty by Lakeysha-Marie Green (review and gift card giveaway - easy to enter)
A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams (great audiobook!)

Currently Reading:
Swept up by the Sea by Tracy and Laura Hickman
Nerve by Taylor Clark

Listening to:
High Steaks: Why and How to eat Less Meat by Eleanor Boyle (enlightening)

Hope you all have a great reading week!

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams (Audiobook Review)

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
Penguin Audio
Released May 30th, 2013
Narrated by Kathleen McInerney
Length: 11 hrs and 35 mins
Unabridged

After reading the synopsis I knew I wanted to read this book even though I didn't know what to expect since, Overseas, the first book by this author had been a little disappointing to me. Well, the author has redeemed herself in my eyes because I really liked this one! It was a perfect summer read. I listening to the audio version and was hooked from the beginning. More on the fantastic narration later.

The story opens in 1938, when New York socialite Lily Dane returns with her mother and six year-old sister Kiki to the familiar community of Seaview, Rhode Island. It's a place Lily has been coming to since childhood and it was her refuge after her heartbreak in 1931 with Nick Greenwald. But this summer, Nick shows up with his new wife, Budgie, who had been Lily's best friend since childhood. They are restoring Budgie's family's old house. The Seaview community do not welcome Nick and Budgie because of what happened in the past. A past that we slowly discover as the story alternates between 1931, when Lily and Nick met and fell in love, to the present 1938, as the true story of Nick and Budgie's marriage unfolds.

I have to say that Beatriz Williams has the talent for weaving alternating stories from the past to the present so that the reader is trying to figure it all out as the clues unfold the story before us. I love this technique because it built suspense, mystery and questions in my mind even as I enjoyed the plot and character developments. The love story between Lily and Nick was beautiful. Both Lily and Nick have big hearts and there are those that took advantage of that. Specifically Budgie and Graham. Budgie was sensually charming and, oh so manipulative! I wanted to strangle her throughout the story. Williams does know how to build interesting and unforgettable characters!

Kathleen McInerney's narration was absolutely wonderful. She captured the intimacy, passion and intensity of the story and of Lily Dane who tells the story in the first person point-of-view. She skillfully brought to life Lily, in essence becoming her. And her voice perfectly changed pitch and tone for the manipulative Budgie, the cute little Kiki, the daring older aunt and, of course, Nick. I have now added McInerney to my list of great narrators.

I loved the setting of 1930s, the oceanfront community, and the old-fashioned chivalry that Williams assigns to the heroic male main characters in her novels. Romance lovers will devour this one up, I'm sure.

Note: This book is rated P = Profanity and S = Sexual content. While William's last book was riddled with f-words, this book only had a few. There are many religious expletives however. There are explicit sex scenes in this book, one of which I would have preferred had much less details.

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: Thanks to Penguin and Audiobook Jukebox for sending me this audiobook for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.


Sound Bytes is hosted by Devourer of Books, a weekly Friday meme where you can link up your audio book reviews.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Winners!

Congratulations to: 

Anne for winning 
Tainted Angel by Anne Cleeland
and
Julie for winning 
The List Lover's Guide to Jane Austen by Joan Strasbaugh


The winners were chosen using Random.org and have been emailed. The winners have 48 hours to claim the prize. Library of Clean Reads would like to thank the publishers and authors for offering these items to give away. Thanks also to all the participants and current and new followers!

Laura

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