Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Loch Ness Punster by Kate Klise, with Illustrations by M. Sarah Klise



HMH Books for Young Readers (April 7, 2015) 144 pages

Description:


In the seventh and final installment of the popular 43 Old Cemetery Road series, twelve-year-old Seymour Hope has inherited a castle in Loch Ness, Scotland. It could be the perfect summer vacation spot for Seymour and his parents, Olive C. Spence and Ignatius B. Grumply. But Iggy wants nothing to do with the castle. Why? Because it was owned by his uncle Ian, a world-famous psychiatrist and the world’s worst punster. So Iggy stays home to write, and Seymour and Olive set off for Scotland—each with a secret.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

This is the final book in the 43 Old Cemetery Road series. Unfortunately, it was the first book I've read within the series. I liked this one so much, I fully plan on going back to the beginning, though. I read it perfectly fine without reading the other 6, and I feel that things were explained enough that I wasn't lost, but I am curious to see the adventures within the other books.

In this adventure, Seymour inherits a castle in Loch Ness, and travels there to see it. We discover just why Ignatius B. Grumply is so grumpy, and we get to meet a very old turtle.

The Loch Ness Punster is told through letters, newspaper articles, and tickets/pictures/illustrations. I really enjoyed it! I can easily imagine myself falling in love with this whole series as a young child. With all the pictures and the somewhat scrapbook-ish feeling of it, I would have been on Cloud 9! There's plenty of humor throughout, and I found myself snickering quite a few times while reading.

I can't wait to get ahold of the other 6 books now!

*I was provided an ARC, in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Purchase Link:

The Loch Ness Punster (43 Old Cemetery Road)

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Kidnap: Guy Erma and The Son of Empire(Part 1) by Sally Ann Melia


Book Description:

I don’t want to go… Do I have to go?

13-year-old Prince Teodor of Freyne knows his duty to the memory of his father and his kingdom. Always, he must help those less fortunate than himself. Yet a frightening nightmare fills him with foreboding, but still he must do - into the Dome.

13-year-old Guy Erma lives in the shadow of the Dome, he has no father and no mother and his future is uncertain, he must start earning a living when he turns 14. He knows not where he will live or even how he will eat, and his only dream is to enter the military academy - at the heart of the Dome.

Two boys as different as any two boys might be. One act of cruelty will throw their lives together, but who dare they trust?

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My Thoughts:

I've been experimenting lately with reading more books in the "science fiction" realm, as opposed to "fantasy". Most of these have been space related. There's been some hits and some misses. Thankfully, this one was a hit, and I enjoyed it.

When the story starts out, we're introduced to several characters, and it took a bit of time to get everyone settled in my mind. By the end, though, I had my favorites. There's still mysteries as to who is good vs. bad or anywhere in between, and I tend to love having that guessing game throughout books. I enjoyed the pictures included throughout the story. I was having a hard time visualizing some of the characters, and I greatly appreciated having a vision to hang onto. I also appreciated scrolling through Sally's Pinterest boards. This helped me even more! Within this story, there are gorans and shape-shifting/telepathic aliens and battle borgs, so from that, you can imagine why I appreciated the pictures so much! ;)

I also enjoyed the fashion aspect of the book. Now when it comes to fashion, I stick with the basics and what I like, and really couldn't care less about what's "in". So, it may come as a surprise to anyone that knows me to discover I like reading about fashion(at least these days), even if I don't necessarily care about it in real life. ;) I recently added another book to my reading list purely because of the fashion aspect, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it in this book. Of course, there's so much more to this book than the fashion aspect, which is really minor in comparison to the rest. There's blades and battles, a kidnapping, secrecy, and lets not forget the gorans! This is a perfect book for fans of science fiction, whether male or female.

Kidnap is part 1(of 3, I believe), so it does end with a cliffhanger. I'm curious how everything will play out in the end.

Content:

Very mild profanity, religious expletives, mild violence

*I was provided an e-copy, in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Author's Bio:

The author was born in Wallasey, England, in 1964, and moved to the South of France when she was eleven. She spent her teenage years living in the cosmopolitan city state of Monaco and became immersed in its many languages and cultures. An English girl in a French school, for three hours each week she would sit at the back of the class as her colleagues learnt English. To pass the time, she wrote stories. This led to a lifetime of writing novels, scripts, stories and articles.

In her working life, Sally writes marketing communications and manages large international websites.

In 2010, Sally joined the Hogs Back Writers, a club located on the outskirts of Guildford, and she set about turning an old manuscript into this novel: Guy Erma and the Son of Empire. Sally currently lives in Farnham, and she is married with two children.


Connect with Sally:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest


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Purchase Link:

Kidnap: Guy Erma and the Son of Empire, Book 1

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iRead Book Tours


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Friday, April 17, 2015

Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller


Thomas Nelson (January 27, 2015) 261 pages

Book Description

Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN, teach parents how to help children form the internal strength they'll need every day as they grow older.

Parents have the greatest influence on their children's character. Mom or Dad's words, choices, actions, and reactions mold a child's view of almost everything. It can be a terrifying thought. But there is hope.

Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanna Miller have spent years helping parents cultivate a healthy conscience and a vibrant faith in their kids. Motivate Your Child is a straightforward guide to doing this at home. Every chapter includes practical examples of families applying the Bible to their current issues, such as backtalking or being mean to siblings. From the "Integrity Package" to the "The Family Challenge," they offer words to say, plans to implement, and ideas for working it out day by day.

With God's help, it is possible to train and direct a child's internal motivation-motivation that will serve them for the rest of their lives.
My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

We carried the boys out to Toys R' Us a couple of weeks ago. It's a pretty big deal, since we don't have one in our little town. A lady stopped, and sweetly told me, in amazement, how good they were all being. I cut off the negative remark in my mind about what a rare moment it was, and simply said, "Thank you!". What I really wanted to do was hug her for her sweet encouragement. She will never know how much that simple moment meant to me. I've left worship services and grocery stores in tears, because I was so frustrated and overwhelmed. The truth is I spend more time than I'd care to in tears, because I don't know what to do. Our schedule has been especially difficult the past few months, and has stretched out a little longer than we first anticipated. I'm exhausted and impatient, and just an old "grumpy pants"! I feel as if there's a nervous breakdown around every corner, waiting to smother me. My children are sweet and precious and I love them dearly, but, just like me, they have areas that need better training. There have been plenty of methods I've used that just don't work. This book has reminded me to get to the "heart of the matter", and has given me many new ideas to try. It's also reminded me that change takes time, and to keep it up.

One thing that I love about this book is the fact that it doesn't just focus on the child, but it also focuses on ME. It reminds me to be a better example to my children, and to put the time and energy into doing it right. The best way to discipline isn't the easy way! Within this book, not only are there examples of various situations that need guidance, and what could be done to help, but there's also Bible lessons and verses, and discussions of events/people within the Bible. I felt like I was getting little mini Bible studies as I read through the book. I was grateful every time I saw an example and a possible solution for situations I'm struggling with, concerning both me and one(or all) of my boys.

The first half of the book focuses on discipline/training. The second half focuses on the "Family Challenge", which is "a practical plan to pass the faith on to your kids". I enjoyed getting fresh ideas for teaching the boys. For example, I got the idea to turn off all the lights in the house and follow a treasure map with a flashlight, in order to illustrate Psalm 119:105: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.". My boys would love that! This section reminded me to put more effort and creativity into "Family Time".

This book has been a blessing! I feel like I need to start right back at the beginning, and reread, just to settle it all in my mind more deeply. I'm sure I'll be turning to this book many more times through my parenting years.

*I was provided an e-copy, in exchange for my honest opinion.


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Purchase Link:

Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin and Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk by Liesl Shurtliff



Knopf Books for Young Readers (April 9, 2013) 272 pages

About the Book:

In a magic kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone's joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.

To break the spell, Rump must go on a perilous quest, fighting off pixies, trolls, poison apples, and a wickedly foolish queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—he just might triumph in the end.

((There are no spoilers within either review for either book.))

My Quick Thoughts:

Once Upon a Time is one of the few TV shows I make sure I watch (through DVR), even if I'm behind a few weeks right now. Probably due to that, but Rumpelstiltskin has earned a place in my heart. I can't help but cheer and hope for the guy. I couldn't wait to see Shurtliff's take on the young Rump, though. (By the way, this book was written before OUAT, from what I've read.)

Although Rump sticks to the main plot of the original fairy tale, I greatly enjoyed the creative twists added to the "true" story. Rump won me over completely! He's really small for his age, and has a hard life, but he keeps going. With my little Grasshopper being so incredibly small for his age, my heart goes out to fictional characters with the same trait.

I definitely recommend giving this one a try if you like fairy tale retellings at all!

*Thanks to my local library for lending me an e-copy!

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Purchase Link:

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

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Knopf Books for Young Readers (April 14, 2015) 304 pages

About the Book:

All work and no play makes Jack extremely bored. And when Jack gets bored, he makes mischief. It’s not that he’s bad; he just longs for adventure—and there’s nothing adventurous about toiling day and night to grow yucky green stuff.

Adventure finally arrives one day in the form of giants, and soon Jack is chasing them to a land beyond the clouds, with his little sister, Annabella, in tow. The kingdom of giants is full of slugs the size of sheep, venomous pixies as tall as grown men, and a chatty cook with the biggest mouth Jack has ever seen. There’s giant fun to be had, too: puddings to swim in, spoons to use as catapults, monster toads to carry off pesky little sisters. . . .

But Jack and Annabella are on a mission. The king of the giants has taken something that belongs to them, and they’ll do anything—even dive into a smelly tureen of green bean soup—to get it back.

My Thoughts:

As much as I loved Rump, it's with this book that I decided I'll read anything Shurtliff writes!

I highly recommend reading Rump before reading Jack. I read Rump just before going into the pages of Jack. At first, it seemed that they were completely standalone from each other, but about a third of the way through Jack, the two books are connected in a really fun way. I'd hate for you to miss the moment your brain clicks with the connection!

Just like Rump, Jack is really a mix of fairy tales. I love fairy tale retellings, and I love it even more when several are mixed into one. Jack is mostly a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, though. Jack is a mischievous little boy, and always getting into trouble. When the giants invade his home, taking his papa into the sky, he decides it's time to make things right.

I've loved both Rump and Jack, and highly recommend them for fans of fairy tale retellings! I can't wait to read more about Red in the next book!

*Thanks to Amazon Vine for providing me with a review copy, in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Purchase Link:

Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bridges of Paris by Michael Saint James(With GIVEAWAY!!!!)



Book Description:

Bridges of Paris is a large-format coffee-table book, with over 350 original color photographs, which casts new illumination on the City of Light. The 37 bridges over the Seine River emerge as beautiful, historic destinations rather than unnoticed thoroughfares. The book features stunning portraits of each bridge as well as intimate riverside moments. Once you’ve experienced this river tour, you will never see Paris the same way again.

Living as a Parisian for a year, author Michael Saint James left his American lifestyle and spent his days and nights capturing images from over, on, beside and under the bridges of Paris. With over 30 years experience as a photographer, educator and world traveler, Michael immersed himself in French culture to search out his authentic artist self. The result is a visual treasure to share with everyone.

My Thoughts:

Warning! This book will give you the travel bug!

I've never traveled outside my little Southern world, and most of the time I'm okay with that. I'm baffled how planes stay in the sky, and I'm terrified of them. Why on earth would I want to get on one?! ;) Every once in awhile, though, I get the urge to travel out of my little cocoon and see the world. Bridges of Paris gave me that urge. It made me dream of seeing the beauty up close and in person one day. As I was admiring the book one night, Jonathan asked me what I was doing. "Dreaming of traveling one day." In the meantime, though, I've been enjoying looking through this gorgeous book, and learning more about each of the bridges.

This is a large coffee table kind of book. It's much wider than even the average large book, making the pictures bigger, and even more admirable. There are various photos of the featured 37 bridges. You might see the bridge from a distance, or up close, in the daytime, or at night, from above or from below. You'll see multiple photos of each one, to get a greater appreciation of the beauty. Not only do you get to see lovely photos of the bridges, but you also get to learn more about each one. This is really so much more than just a photography book. You'll also get a great deal of history surrounding each bridge.


While the bridges are gorgeous, I've also enjoyed looking at the people within the photos, and even the transportation. I love watching people and the expressions on their faces and their body language, and guessing what they might be thinking or doing. I've enjoyed getting to see everyday life of the residents of Paris and the tourists, both in connection with the bridges. It's fun guessing which one is which. Ultimately, this is a book about bridges, but there's many layers within each photo that could be studied and admired.

In case you can't tell, I've highly enjoyed this book, and imagine I will continue to do so. If you want to enjoy a bit of Paris, give this book a try. It's definitely a treasure!


*I was provided a review copy, in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Purchase Links:

Author Website

Amazon


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Author's Bio:

Michael Saint James’ artistic pursuits include award-winning book design, film editing, and sound recording, as well as his first love, photography. Saint James is a world traveler, having visited more than 50 countries - doing everything from photographing penguins in Antarctica to trekking the Himalayas.

As an educator with California teaching credentials, he has taught media production and technology arts as well as photography, art history and visual storytelling. He is an expert speaker on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. Indeed, he walked in Vincent Van Gogh’s footsteps through the Netherlands, Belgium, and France in order to immerse himself in that troubled master’s vision.

The father of two grown children, Saint James once owned a café in Berkeley, California. He has bicycled from Las Vegas to Washington, D.C. and is rumored to play a mean blues harmonica.


Connect with Michael:

Website

Twitter

Pinterest

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Book Trailer:



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The Giveaway:

Lest you have any doubt, this is a giveaway you definitely want to enter! ;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway




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iRead Book Tours

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Crossroads by Cathy Bryant(Book Spotlight, Author Interview, and GIVEAWAYS!!!)


About the Book:

a Miller's Creek novel and Christian contemporary romance

A former soldier battles for the soul of a prodigal...After a devastating divorce, a bitter single mom and atheist starts her own real estate company in the nostalgic and picturesque town of Miller’s Creek, Texas. Then her young daughter’s disturbing symptoms lead doctors to discover that her leukemia has relapsed. With her new life now turned upside down, Mara Hedwig struggles to keep her business afloat. And her daughter’s worsening condition forces her to rethink her beliefs about Carter Callahan and his God. Will Mara make the return to Christian faith in the face of life’s greatest challenge? An ex-military operative struggles with the return to civilian life while coping with his rebellious teen-aged daughter. During a house-search, Carter meets Mara, a headstrong Realtor who wants nothing to do with his God. But when Mara’s little girl is diagnosed with leukemia, the clock begins ticking for him to convince Mara to return to a life of faith. Just as he seems to be making headway, circumstances beyond his control throw his efforts into a tailspin. Can Carter learn to rest in the sovereignty of God?
Would you like to read the 1st chapter?

Just go HERE.

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About the Author:

Amazon best-selling author Cathy Bryant writes Christian fiction set in the heart of Texas. Her popular romance and romantic suspense novels take place in the fictional town of Miller's Creek, where folks are friendly, the iced tea is sweet, and Mama Beth's front porch beckons. Allthe Miller's Creek novels have been on the Amazon Best-Seller list and are rated at 4.5 stars or higher on Amazon. Her debut novel, TEXAS ROADS, was a 2009 ACFW Genesis finalist. Since then five other stand-alone novels have been added to the series, one of which was a reader-nominated 2013 Grace Award nominee (PILGRIMAGE OF PROMISE). Readers have compared her work to that of Karen Kingsbury and Nicholas Sparks. A native Texan, Cathy currently resides in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico with her minister husband of over thirty years. She's written devotions for The Upper Room devotional magazine, two devotional books in collaboration with other Christian authors, and for online sites. She also has released a Bible study book, THE FRAGRANCE OF CRUSHED VIOLETS. In addition to her writing, she enjoys thrift store shopping, romping in the great outdoors, and mini-farming.

To learn more about Cathy and her books, visit her website at www.CatBryant.com or make contact with her in these places:

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Goodreads

Amazon

YouTube

Google+

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Interview With Cathy Bryant

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a Christ-follower, wife, mom, Nana, daughter, mini-farmer, and Christian writer. I enjoy just about anything outdoors, including hiking, canoeing, camping, and gardening. I also enjoy creative activities—home improvement projects, scrap-booking, painting, composing, and of course, writing. I love to watch movies and read, though since becoming a writer, I can’t stop analyzing what I’m watching and reading. I’m a big reality TV fan, my favorites being Survivor and The Amazing Race–both great material for analyzing human behavior for my books! In addition to fiction, I also write Bible studies and devotionals.

Where do you write?

We currently live in the lovely Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico, but will soon be making the move eastward to get closer to our family. Our current home has an upstairs sleeping loft that has served as my writing space. It’s one large open room with the best view in the entire house. My writing desk is there, but I force myself to write in a corner facing a wall to keep myself from being distracted. (It works most of the time…)

What are you writing now?

I just finished writing Crossroads, the sixth book in the Miller’s Creek novels. The book tells the story of a bitter single mom and atheist and the former soldier who battles for her soul. Her little girl’s life-threatening illness forces her to re-think her beliefs of Carter Callahan and his God. Will she return to Christian faith in the face of life’s greatest challenge? What inspired you to write CROSSROADS? All of the Miller’s Creek Novels feature a spiritual theme that is relevant to me for different seasons in my life. In Texas Roads it was Christ being our home rather than placing our security in a place or building. A Path Less Traveled was about finding enough faith to follow God even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. (Boy, has He used that lesson in my life, and proven His faithfulness through it all!) The Way of Grace was my spiritual journey of learning how perfectionist tendencies can be a real hindrance to spiritual progress. The spiritual theme of Pilgrimage of Promise followed right along with my hubby and I stepping out in faith in a bad economy and high unemployment rates to do what we sensed God telling us to do, and the resulting joy and peace spurred on by the Lord’s faithfulness. A Bridge Unbroken follows my own quest to be obedient to Christ in the matter of forgiveness. The spiritual theme of Crossroads came from watching the movie God’s Not Dead and realizing that we all know someone who has defected from the faith. As believers, we need to love them unconditionally, pray for them consistently, and never give up in our efforts to lead them back to God. What do you want readers to take away from this book in particular? I hope that readers will realize the importance of living out the faith we profess. My prayer is that God will embolden us and make us ready to give a defense for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15), so that we can win back these prodigals from the faith.

Tell us how you come up with characters.

The characters actually introduce themselves to me. (I know, I know, they’re not real. I promise I’m not certifiable…) After they make their appearance, I fill out extensive character charts, including taking online personality tests for them! (Hmm, maybe I am certifiable…) But no matter how much preparation I put into the characters in the pre-writing process, they always reveal another facet of their personality during the actual writing of the book. Of all the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite and why? Without a doubt the answer would have to be Mama Beth, the wise woman/matriarch of Miller’s Creek who makes an appearance in all the books. She’s also the main character in the fourth book of the series, Pilgrimage of Promise. She is everything I want to be when I grow up—wise, kind, and loving. Just so you know, I’m not alone in choosing her as the favorite character. When I asked this question to the Miller’s Creek Reader’s Group on Facebook, the majority’s answer was Mama Beth, followed closely by Matt Tyler, the hero from The Way of Grace.

Have the books received any special recognition or awards?

I’ve been blessed to have all the Miller’s Creek novels make the Amazon Kindle Best-Sellers list. The first book Texas Roads was an American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis finalist. The fourth book Pilgrimage of Promise was reader-nominated for the 2013 Grace Award.

What do you hope to accomplish through your writing?

I want my writing to honor and glorify God. If only one person is touched and moved closer to God as a result of my writing, then the hours of hard labor (and numb backside!) are worth it. One early reader of Texas Roads (the first book in the series) told me the story brought healing to her life. I can think of no higher compliment.

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The Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Rules:

-Must be 13 or older.
-Open Internationally!

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CROSSROADS Facebook Launch Party; Kindle Fire HD6 Giveaway!



Click HERE to get to the Launch Party.

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