Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Adventurers Wanted: Slathbog's Gold (Book #1)

Adventurers Wanted: Slathbog's Gold (Book #1)


"The sign is small, tucked into the corner of Mr. Clutter's bookshop window: "Adventurers Wanted. Apply Within." No one but fifteen-year-old Alex Taylor even seems to notice it is there. And for Alex, who has wished for a changed in his life, it is an irresistible invitation. Upon entering Mr. Clutter's shop, Alex is swept away on an incredible adventure to a faraway land filled with heroic warriors, mysterious elves, and hard-working dwarves. Alex becomes the eighth man in a band of adventurers seeking the lair of Slathbog the Red--an evil dragon with a legendary treasure. Along the way, Alex and his new friends must battle dangerous trolls and bandits, face undead wraiths, and seek the wisdom of the Oracle in her White Tower. Alex's adventure takes him to distant and exotic lands where he learns about courage, integrity, honor, and, most importantly, friendship."

My 11-year-old son told me I had to read and review this book. He loved it! Then my 13 year-old son read it and loved it, and so I finally got around to reading it. It reminded me a little of The Book Of Mysteries by Fran Orenstein. There are a few similarities, but in the end they are very different stories. I felt the innuendos and talk of "intimacy" in that book was too much for the age group, and there isn't any of that in this book.....thank goodness! Alex sees a sign in a window advertising the need for adventurers, and thus begins his great adventure. This book is a great middle grade book. I liked it. I enjoyed getting caught up in Alex's world, and in his adventures. It was mostly well written. It was a little predictable, but there were also a few good surprises. The character development is really good. There are some very interesting characters in this book, and it was fun getting to know them. I liked Alex, Arconn, Bregnest, Andy, Halfdan, Thrang, Skeld, Tayo, and Iownan. Their names are all unique and different, which I liked. The descriptions of the places they visit are very well done. I felt as if I were right there with them. I also liked to see the growth of Alex, and I enjoyed watching his relationship with his horse Shahree blossom. The bond they had was quite touching to read about. Some of the conversations seemed one dimensional and trite to me, but it didn't seem to bother my boys at all. I also thought it had too many perfect endings. There were some trials and some hardships, but they all ended up perfectly in the end. One part of me really likes that because of course you want everything to turn out perfectly, but the other part of me thinks it is too unrealistic.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was fun to get caught up in the story and in the lives of these adventurers. There are at least two more books, I think, and I'm excited to read them. I'll let you know when I get there. There is some violence, but it is mainly against fantasy characters like trolls, dragons,  and wraiths. Speaking of the wraiths, they scared me. They reminded me a lot of the Ring Wraiths in Lord of the Rings. They gave me the creeps, and I was glad when the story moved past that point. That part is scary, and may not be suitable for younger readers. There is at least one point where they fight other humans. There is no profanity that I can remember, and there is no "intimacy."
Rating: PG+ (Violence in the fighting of other humans and fantasy characters, it is also scary in some parts.)
Recommendation: 5th grade (10 years-old) and up.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

This is the Turkey

This is the Turkey by Abby Levine

This is a fun story! It's written in rhyme, which is always fun, and it's actually well done. It is clever and full of some fun surprises. The illustrations are bright and colorful, and so cute! I love the expressions on the faces. I love that, although exaggerated a bit, it is real. Life with family on Thanksgiving never turns out perfectly, and instead of getting upset and angry, you just need to learn to roll with it. Also, we all make mistakes, and it's okay. We shouldn't "cry over spilled milk," but be thankful for what we do have. I think this book is so cute!

Rating: G (Clean!)

Recommendation: Everyone

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Let's Celebrate Thanksgiving

Let's Celebrate Thanksgiving by Peter and Connie Roop

We got this book a few years ago in a book order from the school, and I actually like it. It has some very good information about the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. It isn't a fictional story, it is facts and information about the Pilgrims and the Native Americans involved in that first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Colony in 1621. I love that they tried to make it accurate. The Pilgrims did not wear black and white clothing, and the Native Americans did not live in teepees. It talks about the Mayflower, the hardships that the Pilgrims faced, how Squanto and Massasoit fit in, how the Wampanoag tribe helped the Pilgrims, and what they probably ate at that first Thanksgiving. As far as I can tell, the information is accurate with what I have researched myself. So that part is great for the parents! Then there are fun jokes and fascinating facts interspersed with all the information to make it more fun for the kids. For example, "The Mayflower traveled at a speed of 2 miles an hour. That is about 48 miles a day." And, "If a Pilgrim threw a pumpkin into the air, what came down? Squash!" Hahaha..... The illustrations are bright and colorful, and they are well done. They are still cartoony (is that even a word??), but they try to be more accurate than most illustrators do. I also like that they talk about different Thanksgiving celebrations around the world, and that there were a few Thanksgiving celebrations before the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony.

I like the accurate information in this book! I like that the authors took the time to do the research and teach the children correct information. I love the illustrations! We talked about Thanksgiving last night in our family, and my 11 year-old son kept giving all these correct answers. When I asked him where he learned it (because I'm sure he didn't remember it from last year, and I'm pretty sure he didn't learn all of it in school), he said it was from this book. Yay! Love it!

Rating: G (Clean!)

Recommendation: Everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2014


Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

This book describes the events that happened before the Mayflower left England, during the voyage across the Atlantic, and after the Pilgrims decided to settle Plymouth. It describes the ever-changing relationships between the Pilgrims and the Natives, in great detail. Philbrick spends a lot of time describing King Phillip's War of 1675-1676, of which I did not even know. This war was devastating to both the English and the Native Americans alike, and yet it is not very well publicized. The book takes you into the early 17th Century and debunks the common myths about the first Thanksgiving and even Plymouth Rock.

I really liked this book. Both my husband and I come from Pricilla Mullins, a young girl who traveled on the Mayflower, and who was orphaned early on. The book does not go into a lot of detail about each individual on the ship, which is what I was expecting, but more the main characters and the situations they went through in general. Philbrick's writing is not as captivating as David McCoullough's, but is good and I felt as if I too suffered through that first winter. He is really good at not taking sides, or showing too much of a bias. I felt for the Natives and the English alike. He shows the good, the bad, and the ugly of everyone involved. I enjoy history books, especially when they involve my ancestors, so even though it took me a long time to read (I renewed it three times at the library), I learned a lot and was glad I had read it. I would recommend this book for high schoolers and adults. I was really glad to learn the truth about what happened, instead of the fluff and sentamentality that we now seem to take as truth.

Rated: PG-13+ (war atrocities)

Recommendation: High School and Up

*This post was originally published on 11/23/09

Thanksgiving Week!!!

Welcome to Thanksgiving Week!!

Each day this week I will review Thanksgiving Books. Some will be for adults and some for children, so check back each day to see what's new!

(Thank you snowvillageinn.com for this nice image!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Adventures of Geo the Pebble

The Adventures of Geo the Pebble by Jay Gerald


"Have you ever picked up a pebble and wondered where it came from and the adventures it has had? This is the story of Geo, who was born at the top of a mountain and traveled all around the world to end up in the palm of your hand."

My Review:

This is a cute story. It is fun to see what happens to Geo on his travels, and it definitely makes you think more about the rocks in parking lots and up in the mountains. It's too bad that rocks don't have some sort of tracking device so you can see where they have been. There is some humor, and a little potty humor (which isn't my favorite, but the boys and little ones will love it). The illustrations are bright and colorful. They aren't my favorite style, but they are well done. This book would be fun for a social studies class to read. This book is also great for boys because it's about rocks and it's not frilly or princessy. It would be fun to use this book as a kick-off to a rock unit. It would also be fun to have a class rock that children could take on vacations and such, and take their pictures with it all the different places they go. Then they could each write about it a class rock journal. 

Rating: G (Clean! There is that one little potty word, but even though it's not clean, it's clean-hahaha!)

Recommendation: Everyone!

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Raising A Reader: The Power of Reading

Raising A Reader:
The Power of Reading

I recently heard this story and thought I should share. It's an amazing success story, and 
kudos to his mom for realizing the importance of reading!

Ben Carson

Ben Carson said of himself, “I was the worst student in my whole fifth-grade class.” One day Ben took a math test with 30 problems. The student behind him corrected it and handed it back. The teacher, Mrs. Williamson, started calling each student’s name for the score. Finally, she got to Ben. Out of embarrassment, he mumbled the answer. Mrs. Williamson, thinking he had said “9,” replied that for Ben to score 9 out of 30 was a wonderful improvement. The student behind Ben then yelled out, “Not nine! … He got none … right.” Ben said he wanted to drop through the floor.

At the same time, Ben’s mother, Sonya, faced obstacles of her own. She was one of 24 children, had only a third-grade education, and could not read. She was married at age 13, was divorced, had two sons, and was raising them in the ghettos of Detroit. Nonetheless, she was fiercely self-reliant and had a firm belief that God would help her and her sons if they did their part.

One day a turning point came in her life and that of her sons. It dawned on her that successful people for whom she cleaned homes had libraries—they read. After work she went home and turned off the television that Ben and his brother were watching. She said in essence: You boys are watching too much television. From now on you can watch three programs a week. In your free time you will go to the library—read two books a week and give me a report.

The boys were shocked. Ben said he had never read a book in his entire life except when required to do so at school. They protested, they complained, they argued, but it was to no avail. Then Ben reflected, “She laid down the law. I didn’t like the rule, but her determination to see us improve changed the course of my life.”

And what a change it made. By the seventh grade he was at the top of his class. He went on to attend Yale University on a scholarship, then Johns Hopkins medical school, where at age 33 he became its chief of pediatric neurosurgery and a world-renowned surgeon. How was that possible? Largely because of a mother who, without many of the advantages of life, magnified her calling as a parent.
This story was told by Tad. R. Callister. 1 

Wow, right? I love this story! That is the power of reading for you! 
And that's how you raise a reader! 
Happy Reading!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Raising a Reader

Today's tip for

Raising A Reader

is to:

Have The Kids Read Books At Their Reading Level

If a book is too difficult to read then it will not be enjoyable and the child will not understand what he or she is reading. If the child spends the whole time sounding out words then her comprehension will suffer. And what is the point of reading if you don't understand? At that point the kids just get frustrated and they begin to say that they don't enjoy reading. Well, of course they don't! They're not experiencing getting caught up in a story because they don't understand the story. 

So, how do you determine if a book is too difficult for a child to read? 

Give It A High Five!

Open the book with your child. Open to a page, any page. Have the child read that page. If there are more than five words on that page that the child needs to sound out, or doesn't know the meaning of, then that particular book is too difficult. Yes, he might be sad because all his friends are reading it and he really wants to, but you have to be strong. I promise, he will not enjoy it if he gets frustrated. Sometimes that can be a huge motivation for kids to improve their reading. And, there is always the option of you reading that book to him!

I hope this helps!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Secret Teddy Society: Breaking the Code

Secret Teddy Society: Breaking the Code by J.S. Gilmore

Summary (From an email sent to me by the author):

Teddies don’t have claws - at least not real ones.  That’s what Waldo was thinking as he watched his best friend turn into a Were-bear by the moonlight. Waldo had no idea that a string of events would unwind all because he and Bobby Bear were caught going after the milk in the fridge by James, a stay-at-home dad trying to write his first book. Nothing happens in the teddy world that the Council doesn’t find out about because of the Teddy Network; and "no moving in front of a human" is the first rule of the Teddy Code. It’s only a matter of time before a punishment is determined for the two bears - but what and when? Sometimes the waiting can be worse than the punishment itself. Fluffy hasn’t been heard from since he was caught moving.
  James begins to write about the daily adventures of Bobby Bear and Waldo not realizing the harm that he may be causing to the Secret Teddy Society.
Waldo’s timing for breaking the Code couldn’t have been worse! The teddy world had been quiet for the last hundred years or so, but that is about to change. The Teddy Council is facing the evils of power and corruption, a product of human influence. Ballinger is convinced that Theodore is too old to run the Council and will stop at nothing to prove it.
This book provides a rare look inside a secret culture we know very little about.

My Review:

I was very curious about this book because I thought my girls (9 and 6) might like it. Cute little teddy bears come to life, what could be better? It starts out with a brief history of the teddy bear and how teddy bears began coming to life. Then it starts right into the middle of a crisis with a teddy running to the Council with some urgent news. Already this book is different than I thought it would be. The writing is good. The descriptions of places and events are done well. I could definitely picture everything that was going on, and thought the imagery was great. The characters come to life on the page. Waldo and Bobby Bear along with James, Bobbie, Tiffany, Elvis, Fluffy Bear, Dakota, and Lyle are such fun characters. I especially liked James, Bobbie, Waldo, and Bobby Bear. James' personality is outgoing and fun, and he seems like a great dad. Bobbie is sweet and fun loving. She loves her dad and her bears! Waldo and Bobby Bear are hilarious. I love the names they create for ice cream and marshmallows. This book has great potential! The problem I have with this book is that it is a tale of two stories. It doesn't know where it belongs or which way to go. One part of the story is cute and sweet, with loving teddy bears who come to life and like to drink milk. They love being hugged and love Bobbie, their human. James writes these cute little stories about the bears and reads them to Bobbie's class. This part of the story is perfect for K-3 little girls. But then there is the other part of the story. It is dark and scary with were-bears (instead of werewolves), zombie bears, a drunk, scary homeless man living in a cardboard box in an alley, and two teenage kids who try to steal a car and want to run over a teddy bear. There is also a ferocious dog, an intimidating Council, and two swear words. This part of the story is not good for those K-3 girls. I'm not sure who the target audience is. It is too much for the little girls, but I don't think the 3rd-4th boys would like the cute, sweet part of it. I also don't know if I would want a 3rd-4th grade boy reading about the drunk homeless person or the teenagers stealing the car. I wouldn't want them reading the swear words. And older kids wouldn't be interested in the cuteness of it. So, that's my dilemma. This book has potential, but I just don't know who the target audience is. I think I may have my 11 year-old son read it. If I do, I'll let you know what he says.

Rating: PG+ (Two swear words, a drunk, scary homeless man, two teenage boys who steal a car, zombie bears, and were-bears)

Recommendation: ??? I'm stumped. 4th-5th maybe, but then they might be too old for the sweet part of the story. I'd also discuss the previously noted events with them as they go.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Five Love Languages

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman


"He sends you flowers when what you really want is time to talk. She gives you a hug when what you really need is a home-cooked meal. The problem isn't your love--it's your language! In this international best seller, Dr. Gary Chapman reveals how different people express love in different ways. In fact, there are five specific languages of love: Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. What speaks volumes to you may be meaningless to your spouse. But here, at last, is the key to understanding each other's unique needs. Apple the right principles, learn the right language, and soon you'll know the profound satisfaction and joy of being able to express your love--and feeling truly loved in return."

My Review:

I love this book! I've read it several times, and each time I read it I get something new out of it. The first time I read it, I couldn't believe how accurate it was, and I tried to put the principles into practice. I thought I was. But then my husband kept getting upset about a certain situation every time it happened. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. So, I went back and reread this book. Then it clicked! Oh my. Yes, I'm a little slow. But, once I figured out how to speak his love language, it has been so much better. I knew his love language before, it hadn't changed, but it took me awhile to figure out how to speak it in his way. It's so simple, yet so complex. Loving someone should be easy, right? Well, it's even easier if you know how to do it according to what that person wants and needs. There is a quiz that you and your spouse can take to determine your love languages, and then there is a whole chapter devoted to each love language. It's written well and is easy to understand. He uses lots of real life examples of people that he has worked with, and they are very helpful. What's great is that it takes things that our spouses might "nag" us with, and it puts them into perspective. So, if your wife keeps nagging you to do things around the house, then her love language may be acts of service. Maybe you've been bringing her home flowers often and you can't figure out why she's still upset, it's because gifts is not her love language, acts of service is. Does that make sense? I love it. It's also great because the same principles apply to our children. You don't need to give the children the quiz, once you know the languages it's pretty easy to spot them in your children. For example, I have one child that needs words of affirmation constantly, while another constantly wants hugs. Do you see how that works? That way you can make sure you're speaking your spouse's love language and also your kids so everyone feels loved in their own way. If you are married or in a dating relationship I highly recommend this book. 

Rating: R (It does talk a lot about "intimacy" between husband and wife.)

Recommendation: College and up. I don't think high schoolers need to read it, unless they will be getting married shortly after....