Saturday, September 29, 2012

BLOG TOUR: Woodrow The White House Mouse by Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes

by Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes
Little Patriot Press, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59698-788-3
Picture Book
Grades K-5
Reviewed from copy received for blog tour.
All opinions expressed are solely my own.


Woodrow G. Washingtail is back and ready to get to work as Commander-in-Cheese of the United Mice of America! A follow-up to Woodrow for President, Woodrow, the White House Mouse teaches children about the presidency, as well as the art, architecture and history of the White House. Written and illustrated by the bestselling and award-winning duo, Peter and Cheryl Barnes, Woodrow, the White House Mouse delights and amuses children as they learn about everything from inauguration day and the president’s duties to the Easter egg roll and the East Wing. Perfect for kids 5-8 years old, children will be educated and entertained as President Washingtail and his family work and play in the greatest mouse house of all.


This book provides a cute way to help children understand the role and responsibilities of the President of the United States. Through the eyes of a mouse president readers get a glimpse of the White House and some of the different rooms and what sort of things take place in each room, for example, the Oval Office is where the president signs bills into laws and conducts most business related to his position.  Nicely informative with detailed illustrations based on the real furniture, traditions, and clothing used by current and past presidents.  The extended explanations at the back of the book are great for teachers, parents, or children to refer to for more information.  The illustrations are perfect for looking at closer with plenty of detail and the Presidential seal hidden in each picture.  With the amount of detail, this book would work best as a lap read rather than a group read-a-loud. I recommend this for teachers and/or parents who are looking for a way to help their children understand more about the job of President of the United States.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

BLOG TOUR and GIVEAWAY: The Serpent's Ring by H. B. Bolton

Middle Grade Fantasy
Grades 3-6
Copy received from author for blog tour.
All opinions expressed are solely my own.


Evan and Claire Jones are typical teenagers, forced to go with their parents to yet another boring museum ... that is, until something extraordinary happens to make their day a little more than interesting. After following a strange little creature into a closed exhibit, Evan and his older sister, Claire, discover the Serpent’s Ring, one of the magical relics formed from the shattered Mysticus Orb. Purely by accident, they have awakened its powers and opened a portal to Sagaas, land of ancient gods.

Before the siblings can comprehend what has happened, the Serpent’s Ring is wrenched from Evan’s hand by an enormous bird and flown back to Aegir, the Norse god of the sea. Evan and Claire, accompanied by a band of unlikely heroes, must retrieve the Serpent’s Ring before Aegir uses its immense powers to flood all the lands on Earth.

Amazon Paperback
Amazon Kindle
Barnes and Noble


Currently, Barbara Brooke resides in sunny Florida with her supportive husband, two adorable children, gorgeous greyhounds, and scruffy mutt. She is actively creating new worlds and interesting characters for the next book in one of her series. Shhhh, can you keep a secret? Not only does she write spellbinding, heart-pounding women’s fiction, she also writes books for the young-at-heart, adventurous sort who yearn to dive into a good young adult fantasy story. These particular books are written under the name H.B. Bolton, but that is another story altogether.

Author on Goodreads   

You can find the book on Goodreads


With lots of excitement and magic this book works well for middle graders who aren't yet ready to tackle longer and more difficult fantasies.  Evan and his family are visiting a living museum when he sees what he takes for a monkey. He sneaks into a building under renovation and comes across a magical talisman called The Serpent's Ring. His older sister, Claire, comes up on him as he is exploring and they both try on the bracelet sized artifact. Unfortunately, before they really know what they have the Ring is stolen and Evan and Claire set off with Dunkle, the imp, the artifact's protector to recover it.

I recommend this book for those who prefer not to get bogged down in details. I myself prefer detail, it allows me to visualize the characters and settings better. Here all I know about the characters is that Evan is 14-years-older, Claire is his older sister, and their parents are a galley manager and history teacher respectively.  Plot is emphasized over character development, but for younger readers, they are more interested in plot anyway. Certainly the creatures and challenges that Evan and Claire run into are entertaining and fun to read about. A nice complement to all the recent books involving various sorts of mythology.


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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

BLOG TOUR and GIVEAWAY: Forsaken by Kristen Day

Reviewed from e-copy received from author.
All opinions expressed are solely my own.


Once you’ve been touched by darkness, it never leaves you…

Abandoned by her parents as an infant; seventeen year old Hannah spent her childhood wading through countless foster families until being adopted by the Whitmans three years ago.

Unfortunately, Atlanta’s high society wasn’t quite ready for Hannah…or the strange events that plague her.
Chilling visions of murder, unexplained hallucinations, and a dark, mysterious guy who haunts her nightmares all culminate to set in motion a journey of self-discovery that will challenge everything she’s ever believed; not to mention her sanity.

Sent to live at The House of Lorelei on Bald Head Island, NC for ‘kids like her’, Hannah quickly realizes things are not what they seem. Her fellow ‘disturbed’ teens are actually the descendents of mythical Sea Gods and Goddesses. And so is she.

But when Finn, the ghost from her dreams, appears in the flesh; her nightmares become reality and her dark visions begin coming true. Inexplicably drawn to him, she can’t deny the dangerous hold he has on her heart. The deadly secrets he harbors will ultimately test her courage and push the boundaries of her love.

She must decide if she is ready to embrace the ancient legend she is prophesied to be a part of. The fate of all the descendents will forever depend upon it.


Kristen Day is a southern belle at heart with a crazy streak that desperately tries to escape at every opportunity.  She loves all things nostalgic, rustic, and quirky. She's been told she sees the world through rose-colored glasses, but she prefers to think of them as kaleidoscope glasses - swirling and morphing reality into something she can digest (who hasn't pretended those pasty lima beans were really kiwi strawberry jelly beans?).

She is the author of the DAUGHTERS OF THE SEA trilogy, which includes FORSAKEN, AWAKEN (Oct 2012), and CHOSEN (Winter 2012). She loves all books, but really enjoys writing young adult, paranormal romances. She's loved to write for as long as she can remember. Her first published work was her poem RED in second grade (you guessed it - it was a poem about the color red - life altering, right?) that won her 5 gold stars and a spot in her elementary school's poetry book. That's when her addiction to the written word officially began. She was the only kid in fifth grade that actually enjoyed diagramming sentences. Go ahead and laugh - its okay.

When she's not writing, she's making jewelry, painting, drinking sweet tea, watching the Discovery Channel, or going on random adventures in the mountains of North Carolina with her amazing husband. She was born in Boone, NC and graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Marketing in 2001.


I loved this book! I wasn't sure going in, it sounded a little bit dark when I first read about it, but at the same time I was intrigued. I'm glad I gave it a try. Not only is it well-written, but the characters are interesting with some nice depth to them.  Hannah/Anastasia is a great heroine as she tries to come to grips with her past and deal with the shocking revelations of the present.  Her roommates at The House of Lorelei are great, I liked them immediately. I especially appreciated how similar and yet very different each of the girls is with their unique personalities and talents.  Finn, whoa boy, makes for a great love interest, definitely hot, but very mysterious and Hannah isn't sure whether she can trust him or not despite their connection.

I loved the setting. The author did such a great job with the setting of The House of Loreleit hat I pictured it very clearly in my mind.  I immediately wanted to hop on an airplane and go visit, it was so vivid in detail. What a fascinating school as well, I enjoyed visiting through the author's words and I very much look forward to visiting again in the coming books.  

In terms of plot, all I can say is wow.  This series is ideal for students who love mythology but are looking for some great romance with it. Hannah faces many challenges once she arrives at her new school. She is stunned when she is informed about the unique abilities of the students at this school. Not only that, she continues to struggle with questions about who she really is and where she came from and what happened to her parents.  Through in Finn, whose been appearing in her dreams for years, and the feelings he arouses in her as well as her studies and Hannah's got her work cut out for her. But she's got some great friends in her corner. There is a little bit of language and a moderate amount of violence. I do highly recommend this book and very much look forward to reading the coming sequels.


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BLOG TOUR and GIVEAWAY: Tears Water the Seeds of Hope by Kim Tews


Tears Water the Seeds of Hope is the inspiring true story of a Midwest husband and wife that become disenchanted with the relentless pursuit of the American Dream and embark on a journey that spans six countries and redefines their values and lives. The story begins in a small town in Wisconsin and weaves its way through South and Central America as the couple gathers an army of supporters and establishes an organization to save the lives of children in the end stages of starvation in eastern Guatemala.


Kim Tews was raised in Madison, Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in Economics. She and husband, Randy, pursued careers in real estate before beginning mission work together in Ecuador, South America in 2001. In 2005 they established the 501 (c) 3 non-profit Outreach for World Hope to save the lives of starving children in eastern Guatemala. The couple lives in Verona, Wisconsin with their three children, traveling back and forth to Guatemala frequently to facilitate the ongoing programs of Outreach for World Hope.


This book tells a tender story of love and service to the people of Guatemala. The author tells of how she and her husband came to found an organization to fight starvation in eastern Guatemala.  I love these kind of books because they remind me that there is still much goodness in the world.  After watching and reading the news that the media sends my way it is easy to see only the bad things happening in the world and the numerous challenges that must be faced. Stories like this one remind me that often quiet acts of service are being performed on a daily basis all around me, both close to home and far away. There are many like the Tews who chose to dedicate their time and resources to those who so desperately need it. 

The pictures included in the back of the book provide a fitting glimpse into the blessings and challenges that the Tews faced in their humanitarian efforts and the lives they have touched. I was especially touched by the story told in chapter 2 about how $25 dollars provided the money for antibiotics that saved a young boy's sight and how his father road 8 miles on his bicycle after working hard all day just to say thank you. If you are looking for an inspiring story about love and service, I heartily recommend this one.


Chapter 1 - Wrecked for Life

The setting sun painted a backdrop of cotton candy pink clouds over the roadside bar and grill where we would soon hear our favorite acoustic guitar duo sing Jimmy Buffet songs. It was an idyllic Wisconsin summer night late in June of 2005. Under normal circumstances, I would have enjoyed the warm breeze and the glow of the festive colored tiki lights on the outdoor deck with the sense of carefree recreation that midwestern families enjoy when school is out and the days are longer. Randy shook his head, smiling as our two daughters took turns throwing harmless jabs at one another, each laughing hysterically at her own jokes. I felt as if I were watching the scene from a distance, fighting back tears as my mind returned to the children I had seen two days earlier in a squalid hospital in drought and famine-stricken eastern Guatemala—a scene that would change me forever and wreck me once and for all for the relentless pursuit of the American Dream. I was haunted by the forlorn faces of two children whose hopeless situation had laid the framework for the rest of my life.

The severely starved two-year-old boy was scarcely more than skin and bones. Hair was a luxury his body could not afford, as the nutrients available to him were barely enough to keep his vital organs functioning. His face was sunken and pale, the outline of his ribs and spine clearly visible through his thin layer of skin. He had been carried by his barefooted ten-year-old sister from El Volcancito, their remote mountain village several miles away, into the small town of Jocotan, in hopes that his life could be saved. The mother of the children was bedridden with a debilitating illness for which she could not afford treatment. My heart broke as much for the boy, barely hanging on and suffering miserably, as for the young girl, exhausted and saddled with the crushing responsibility of keeping her baby brother alive.

A frail little girl sat weeping on a tattered bench at the entrance to the facility, her body emaciated and her abdomen severely bloated, revealing the presence of parasites within her weak, trembling frame. She had been brought to the hospital for nutritional rehabilitation, and because she was four years old, and her mother had two smaller children to care for at home, she had been left alone. Lidia could not have understood why she had been left behind by her family in this unfamiliar place. She had been sitting on the bench since early morning waiting for them to return. In her hand she clutched what was probably her only toy, a comfort and reminder of home. The lump in my throat returned each time I recalled opening her tiny hand to find that she held a black plastic vulture.

Randy and I were married in May of 1993. During our early years together, we were blessed with two beautiful daughters and were pursuing careers in real estate, climbing the ranks among our colleagues in terms of sales volume. We purchased an enormous house on four acres, and although it was only four years old, we completely remodeled it to suit our tastes. With luxury vehicles and an ever-increasing income, we were living the American Dream. There was much to be thankful for, but something was missing.

Randy and I had both grown up near Madison, Wisconsin in middle class families, Randy’s Methodist and mine Catholic. We had attended Sunday services and believed in an all-powerful God, but faith and religion were not playing a major role in our adult lives. Having agreed as newlyweds to raise our family in faith, we dutifully attended services at a congregation near our home for seven years. But we eventually felt that we needed a change and in spring of 2000, we set out in search of a new church home. With no predetermined denomination in mind, we experienced a variety of church cultures, some too formal, some too weird, others seemingly insincere. We eventually stumbled across an Evangelical Free church on the west side of Madison, near our home in the suburb of Verona. I was surprised to find that instead of an organ and a choir, this church had a band that played upbeat contemporary Christian music on keyboards, guitars and drums. The young pastor spoke with passion, bringing the Bible to life by applying scripture to issues faced by the generations of the twenty-first century. It was at this church that our faith came alive.

Our new understanding of the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ and the resulting sense of love and gratitude we felt toward God, inevitably began to pose problems for us. We were embarrassed to invite our new Christian friends to our supersized home, and conflicts began to surface in our hearts about how our time and money were being spent. One of the many bedrooms in our home had been turned into my personal closet and was loaded with clothing and shoes, most of which I did not need. I had become so busy in my career as a Realtor that I began to feel like a gerbil on a wheel. My twelve-hour workdays did not leave room for the peace and joy I had heard should come with our newly authenticated Christian faith. One frantically busy day I decided to return phone calls while waiting in line for lunch at the McDonald’s drive through. When a voice came over the speaker saying, “Can I help you?”

I was so preoccupied that I mistook it for a phone call and said, “Hello, this is Kim Tews with the Tews Team Realtors”.

During the awkward silence that followed the kid must have been thinking, “Yeah, who cares? What do you want for lunch?”

That night I arrived home from work late in the evening to find our three-year-old daughter asleep on the couch clinging to a shirt I had worn the day before. When I asked Randy about the shirt he explained, “She said it smells like you, and she misses you.” 


Outreach For World Hope (Author’s webpage)
Book Page on Author’s Site 
Great Escape Book Tour – Tour Page For This Tour

  1. You must be over 13-years-old to enter.
  2. Open to U.S./Canada only.
  3. Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be chosen.
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Christian Bookshelf Reviews: Interview & Giveaway! Rachelle McCalla ~ Author of...

Christian Bookshelf Reviews: Interview & Giveaway! Rachelle McCalla ~ Author of...: Today,  Rachelle McCalla , the author of many books including the Reclaiming the Crown  series (which I love!), is stopping by for an inter...

Monday, September 24, 2012

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Fall of Eden by Michele Poague

Adult/YA Science Fiction
Grades 9 and up
Reviewed from copy received from author for blog tour.
All opinions expressed are solely my own.


Myths are but shadows of a greater truth.

What is the Healing Crystal and who is the rightful heir? Is it a religious object or a powerful weapon? Does it belong to a fallen line of kings or to the colonists of Survin? Should its fate be left in the hands of the young and inexperienced Kairma or to Narvin, the last descendent of a line of kings?

Kairma holds the Crystal and believes she will become the next leader of Survin, while her younger sister Kinter, believes she, not Kairma, is the rightful heir. Narvin believes the Healing Crystal is the Star of Genesis, a powerful relic his ancestors have been seeking for centuries.

Determined to possess the object that will return him to his glory, Narvin is unwavering in his quest to possess it, and Kairma is caught in a fierce race across barren deserts and rugged mountains to a shattering finish where the winner must decide the fate of the world.

 Other books in series:
·         Heir to Power:
·         Ransom:

Born Michele Rae Jeffryes in Newman Grove, Nebraska, Michele Poague has spent most of her life in Colorado, South Dakota and Nevada, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, since 1984. When she is not writing novels, researching a story, traveling, or working at her full time job as a nightclub manager, Michele volunteers her time as an advocate for the Libertarian Party.
For more information and to connect with Michele Poague please visit any or all of the following network links:
·         Website:
·         Blog:
·         Facebook:
·         Twitter:

What is the 'story behind the story'?
The idea for The Healing Crystal started in the early 80's. A vision of a crystal came to me one morning and I knew what the crystal was and why it was hidden in its chosen location. It was a story about power and undiscovered technology. It was about facts and knowledge warping beyond recognition over centuries of retelling. Suddenly, I pictured this young woman with long white hair and I knew why she feared the crystal. As Kairma began to tell me about her life, I met her friends and family, almost like picking up a completed book and having the story unfold.

I set Kairma and her story aside for nearly 30 years.  Secretly hoping one of the great sci-fi writers of our day, like David Brin or Connie Willis, would write it for me.  In 2010, while cleaning and organizing my office, I came across the research I'd done years earlier. I still thought it was a great story and it seemed like the right time to finish the project.

The subtitles for books one and two, Heir to Power and Fall of Eden, were selected after the story was written, although Ransom came to me out of nowhere and actually directed the plotline of book three. 

Where does this story take place and what is it like there?  Is it based on a real place? If so, where and why?

The Healing Crystal Trilogy is hard science fiction, not fantasy, so the settings had to be real.  The characters told me where the story took place and the research added depth.  The location is extremely important to the story and pivotal to major plot points.  I left little hints in Heir to Power about the location, hoping readers would enjoy putting the pieces together, leading them in turn to even more mysteries.

If you have not read Heir to Power, this may be a spoiler: Survin is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, just southeast of Mount Rushmore.  The monument and the series of tunnels along Iron Mountain Road, (chartered by Senator NOrbeck) are just two examples that made this a perfect place for the Survinees colony.

What is the writing process like for you? Is there anything special you like to do that helps you?

The original idea usually comes from an emotion.  Then when I research whatever started this feeling, the story starts to unfold.  Once the theme is revealed, I usually listen to the little voices in my head and try to find images that match the voice or that will help me create character sketches.  When meeting chaacters for the first time, I try to find out what their story is and how it works within the theme I've chosen.  It is usually while doing this kind of research that the arc of the story reveals itself.  I write what comes to me and then polish it, throw half of it away and write some more.

What's the best thing that's happened to you since publishing your book?

The best thing that has happened to me since putting my words in print is that I can read reviews of my work without fear - even the ones that aren't glowing.  I actually get a lot of good points from the 3- and 4-star reviews.  I think criticism, delivered in a constructive manner, can make us better in our chosen field.

How would you describe yourself?

I'm a creative, self-motivated, outspoken, politically-active risk taker who loves to laugh, and share laughter, with my family, friends and fans.


Fall of Eden is the second in a science fiction trilogy focused on an object called the Healing Crystal. Kairma is the expected leader to be and as such carries the Crystal for her people. Because of an illness suffered as a child, Kairma looks different than the rest of her people and is somewhat ostracized because of it. She also has no desire to be her people's chosen leader, but circumstances force her into a leadership position before she is ready. Her sister, Kinter, is more than willing to keep the Crystal in her place, and as such there is ongoing conflict between the two, not to mention than Kinter favors Naturi, Kairma's expected mate.  When the Survins make contact with the outside world, everything starts to change.

This is a fabulous series with not only an interesting sci-fi plot but lots of character development as Kairma's family and people face major changes in their beliefs and lifestyle. Well-written and intriguing, this book reads like most second books in trilogies, there are many questions that haven't been answered that hopefully will be answered in book three.  There are plenty of twists and turns and conflicts. Questions of morals and ethics are also developed. What is acceptable and unacceptable when it comes to protecting one's home, family, and community? I highly recommend this series for those who enjoy a detailed, epic-sized, science fiction story.



As part of the tour, Michele is generously offering 3 AMAZING giveaways to the blog readers. The first winner will receive signed copies of the entire Healing Crystal trilogy. The second place winner will receive a signed copy of Fall of Eden as well as a $10 gift certificate and the third place winner will receive a signed copy of Fall of Eden
To enter to win these prizes, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form provided.
  • Open from September 8 to October 8.
  • Must be 13+ years of age to enter
  • US mailing addresses only
Earn entries by doing any/all of the following:

  • Leaving a blog post comment
  • Liking The Healing Crystal Trilogy on Facebook
  • Tweeting about the giveaway (once per day)
  • Writing a review of Fall of Eden
  • Posting an interview, the book trailer, or a link to the tour. 

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    BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Autumn Winds by Charlotte Hubbard

    Adult Christian Fiction


    The leaves are falling and there’s a chill in the air in Willow Ridge, Missouri, the quaint, quiet Amish town where love, loyalty, and faith in the Old Ways are about to be put to the test ...

    Autumn Winds

    Winds of change are blowing through Willow Ridge, and they’re bringing a stranger to the Sweet Seasons Bakery. At first, widowed Miriam Lantz has misgivings about Ben Hooley, a handsome but rootless traveling blacksmith. But as she gets to know the kind-hearted newcomer, she wonders if his arrival was providential. Perhaps she could find love again—if only there weren’t so many obstacles in the way. With Bishop Knepp relentlessly pursuing her hand in marriage and the fate of her beloved café at stake, Miriam must listen to God and her heart to find the happiness she longs for and the love she deserves.


    I’ve called Missouri home for most of my life, and most folks don’t realize that several Old Older Amish and Mennonite communities make their home here, as well. The rolling pastureland, woods, and small towns along county highways make a wonderful setting for Plain populations—and for stories about them, too! While Jamesport, Missouri is the largest Old Order Amish settlement west of the Mississippi River, other communities have also found the affordable farm land ideal for raising crops, livestock, and running the small family-owned businesses that support their families.
    Like my heroine, Miriam Lantz, of my new Seasons of the Heart series, I love to feed people—to share my hearth and home. I bake bread and goodies and I love to try new recipes. I put up jars and jars of green beans, tomatoes, beets and other veggies every summer. All my adult life, I’ve been a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and we hosted a potluck group in our home for more than twenty years.
    Like Abby Lambright, heroine of my new Home at Cedar Creek series, I consider it a personal mission to be a listener and a peacemaker—to heal broken hearts and wounded souls. Faith and family, farming and frugality matter to me: like Abby, I sew and enjoy fabric arts—I made my wedding dress and the one Mom wore, too, when I married into an Iowa farm family more than thirty-five years ago! When I’m not writing, I crochet and sew, and I love to travel.
    I recently moved to Minnesota when my husband got a wonderful new job, so now he and I and our border collie, Ramona, are exploring our new state and making new friends.
    To find out more about Charlotte, please visit her at

    Sunday, September 23, 2012

    Christian Bookshelf Reviews: Review & Giveaway! The Captain's Courtship by Regi...

    Christian Bookshelf Reviews: Review & Giveaway! The Captain's Courtship by Regi...: The Captain's Courtship by Regina Scott Love Inspired Historical / 2012 Find on:  Amazon , Christianbook ,  Goodreads About the ...

    BLOG TOUR: Benotripia: The Rescue by McKenzie Wagner

    by McKenzie Wagner
    Sweetwater Books, 2012
    ISBN: 978-1-4621-1014-8
    Middle Grade Fantasy
    Grades 3-6
    Reviewed from copy provided by publisher for blog tour.
    All opinions expressed are solely my own.


    When her mother---the ruler of Benotripia---goes missing, Roseabelle knows she'll need the help of her best friends and their combined powers to survive the perilous journey ahead of her, rescue her mother, and save Benotripia! Written by a young author, this exciting adventure story pulls you into a true fantasy world. A suspenseful and addicting read!


    Mckenzie Wagner is eleven years of age and has adored reading since she was four years old. Her love of books inspired her to write a book of her own and she completed the first book of “The Magic Wall Series”, “The Magic Meadow and the Golden Locket” at the early age seven and the second book “The Blue Lagoon and the Magic Coin” shortly hereafter. She has now expanded her writing to kids of all ages. She wishes to obtain an English degree and teach and continue in her pursuit of her love of writing. She currently resides in Utah, with her mom, dad, and her eight-old brother, Ty.  To find out more about Benotripia and the author Mckenzie Wanger, visit her website:


    Roseabelle and her friends, Jessicana and Astro are fun characters with some interesting powers. Powers I wouldn't mind having, like being able to change into a bird. I'd never need another car. :) Astro can shoot lightning from his fingertips which is cool in a fight, maybe not so practical in the real world.  Roseabelle and her friends live on the island of Benotripia, where Roseabelle's mother, Danette governs. Roseabelle and her friends attend a training school where they are learning to use their powers, but everything changes when Roseabelle's mother is kidnapped by Darvonians.  Roseabelle and her friends are almost captured themselves when Darvonians come to claim a special pouch that Danette left with her daughter.  They quickly determine to follow the Darvonians and get Roseabelle's mother back.

    The plot has a lot of potential, unfortunately it doesn't come off completely believable. One of the big things about fantasy is that it needs to be believable regardless of the 'magic' involved. Here we have three eleven-year-olds acting with the logic and reason of much older characters.  There is a lack of believability in their actions.  In addition, the way the plot unfolds isn't very logical, for example, following the Darvonians on a raft? Meeting a huge sea monster and not losing any of their supplies? I think the biggest problem was that I didn't find the kids reactions realistic and there is not a lot of world-building.

    However, despite the weaknesses, which I'm not sure a child reader would even notice, the book is a light, fun, read with a nice quest plot and interesting characters.  This young author has a lot of potential. I would love to know more about the two different islands and why they are such enemies. I do admire the determination of the three kids to rescue Danette. A fun adventure for early middle grade readers with lots of creative fantasy elements.

    Saturday, September 22, 2012

    MMGM: Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

    by Sheila Turnage
    Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012
    ISBN: 978-0-8037-3670-2
    Middle Grade Historical Fiction
    Grades 3-6
    Reviewed from purchased copy.

    A hilarious Southern debut with the kind of characters you meet once in a lifetime

    Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone's business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she's been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her "upstream mother," she's found a home with the Colonel--a café owner with a forgotten past of his own--and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.

    Full of wisdom, humor, and grit, this timeless yarn will melt the heart of even the sternest Yankee.

    Another great book and definite Newbery candidate, Three Times Lucky sends the reader on the hunt for a murderer with sixth grader Mo LoBeau and her best friend, Dale.   Mo is delighted for summer vacation to start, hoping to spend time with Dale, and her crush, Dale's brother, Lavender as well as helping out at the cafe owned by her unusual adopted family.  If she can find her biological mother all the better.  But everything changes when a grumpy neighbor turns up dead, in the boat that Dale 'borrowed' for them to go fishing in and Dale turns out to be the last known person to see the man alive.  Determined to help her friend, Mo sets out to help solve the mystery regardless of whether Joe Starr, a lawman, wants her help or not.

    Mo reminds me greatly of another great middle grade character, Jennifer Holm's May Amelia, with her spunk and determination. I found myself grinning more than once as I read about Mo's ability to insert herself into almost any situation with fervor and good intentions, although not always with good results.  Her efforts to find her unknown mother using notes in bottles was creative if ineffectual. Mo slowly comes to realize that perhaps she already has all the family she needs. 

    The setting is beautifully presented with a map included, something I always appreciate as it helps me visualize places and how they are connected with each other.  A story like this requires a strong sense of place and Turnage pulls it off nicely. The cafe especially stands out as a place of great character, well worth visiting.  

    Plotwise the story moves along at a nice clip with plenty of moments of tension mixed in with the humorous moments. I enjoyed the twists and turns and the subplots involving Mo's adopted family, Miss Lana and the Colonel, as well as the home situation of Dale. I think my favorite part though besides the part where Mo puts her karate skills to use, is the part where Mo sneaks down to the creek hoping to help search the crime scene for clues.

    I highly recommend this book, not only as great historical fiction but as an amusing and entertaining look at life in a small community where everyone seems to know everything about everyone else, but where secrets still have room to breathe.

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    BLOG TOUR and GIVEAWAY: The Grimm Chronicles by Isabella Fontaine & Ken Brosky

    Welcome to the Grimm Chronicles Book Tour presented by I.O. Book Tours.


     200 years ago, the Brothers Grimm unleashed their stories upon the world. Literally.

    Now the characters of the Grimms' stories walk among us. With every day that passes, they grow more evil. They are the Corrupted, and only a hero can stop them. For 18-year-old Alice Goodenough, that means taking precious time off from her summer vacation. In addition to volunteering at the local library, Alice must stop the Corrupted who are now actively hunting her down. With the help of her magic pen and her trusty rabbit friend, the world has suddenly gotten a lot more complex.

    The Corrupted are everywhere, and only Alice can see them for what they truly are.

    This book contains the first 3 episodes of the critically acclaimed series, which has already been downloaded on the Kindle more than 5,000 times:

    Episode 1: Prince Charming Must Die!
    Episode 2: Happily Never After
    Episode 3: Revenge of the Castle Cats

    Additional features for the print edition:
    - An introduction
    - Two special "Lost Diaries"
    - A behind-the-scenes interview
    - A collection of original Grimms' Fairy Tales

    The Grimm Chronicles is intended for Young Adults aged 13 and up. The goal is to provide Young Adult readers with a strong, charismatic young woman in the role of the hero and provide readers with a positive protagonist who uses her brain to overcome obstacles life throws in her way.

    Amazon Paperback
    Amazon Kindle


    Ken Brosky Received his MFA in writing from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and lives in Madison, WI. In addition to writing The Grimm Chronicles, he also spends time writing literary fiction and has been published in magazines including Gargoyle and Barcelona Review.

    Isabella Fontaine calls Wisconsin her home.  This is her first Young Adult series. She once read through the entire dictionary because she wanted to know more about words.



    With magic pens, talking rabbits, and fairy tale characters turned evil, this book provides a unique look at the world of the Grimm fairy tales. While fairy tale reimaginings have become a widespread phenomenon, this book has a fresh take on the subject. Alice is content with her life, her junior year of high school is ending, she's got a perfect boyfriend, and a job volunteering at the public library for the summer. And then she stumbles across a magic pen and an old note seemingly addressed to her. She slowly begins to realize that her life has irrevocably changed and not for the better.

    I found Alice a refreshing and feisty heroine. She reluctantly picks up the mantle of hero as she faces a lifetime of hunting fairy tale characters turned evil who do not belong in the human world. I enjoyed the fact that she studies fencing in school, an atypical school subject.  Her rabbit sidekick provides some humor mixed in with the growing tension.  Once the action picks up and Alice must face deadly enemies with little besides her fencing skills, her ingenuity, and the magic pen the book moves rapidly.  Recommended for those who enjoy fairy tales with a dark twist and a feisty heroine. Note there is reference to sex and a good deal of violence.

     9/10  Janiera Eldridge   First Chapter and Giveaway   
    9/10   Books, Books, and More Books  Review,
    First Chapter, and Giveaway   

    9/11  My Devotional Thoughts  First Chapter and Giveaway 
    9/12   Feed My Need For a Good Read  First Chapter  
    9/12   I am, Indeed  Review, Interview, First Chapter, and Giveaway
    9/13   Mom With A Kindle   Review and Giveaway 

    9/13  LilyElement Book Reviews  Review and Giveaway
    9/13  Mallory Heart Reviews   Review, and First Chapter
    9/14    Window on the World   Review and Interview   
    9/14   The Bunny's Review   Interview, First Chapter, and Giveaway
    9/17   The Insane Writings of a Crazed Writer  Review, Interview, First Chapter, and Giveaway
    9/17   Jenn's Review Blog   Review  
    9/18   My Cozie Corner   Review and Giveaway 
    9/18  Rea's Reading and Reviews  Review, First Chapter, and Giveaway   
    9/19  Dana Cuadrado Review and Giveaway
    9/19  Sharing Links and Wisdom  Review, First Chapter, and Giveaway
    9/20  The Book Tart  Review, First Chapter, and Giveaway
    9/20  Close Encounters with the Night Kind   Review, First Chapter, and Giveaway
    9/20  Waiting on Sunday to Drown  Review and Giveaway
    9/20  Cheerful (Book) Reviews  Review
    9/21  Geo Librarian Review and Giveaway 
    9/21   Mademoiselle Le Sphinx   Review  


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