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Friday, February 17, 2017

Calling All Writers!!!

*Calling All Writers*

Occasionally I get asked what you need to do to get your book published. Well, here's a great solution!

Inkitt.com

has a writing contest going on right now.  The winner gets a publishing deal! Easy Peasy! All you need to do is click on the image below and enter your story into the contest. Your fictional story needs to be at least 20,000 words and it must be in English. Fanfiction is not allowed, and neither are short story collections. You may find all the rules on their site. Go enter your story!! I'd love it if one of my readers won!!










(Disclosure: I am an Inkitt.com affiliate, and do receive a monetary reward for stories submitted from my link. However, I really would love it if one of my readers won! ) 


Monday, February 13, 2017

Nina the Neighborhood Ninja



Nina the Neighborhood Ninja
by
Sonia Panigrahy


Blurb:

"Calling all Girls to find their inner Superhero! Smart. Strong. Speedy. Nina the Neighborhood Ninja is a creative and take-charge kind of little girl who possesses all of these amazing qualities. Fiona the Firefly is her loyal and trusty sidekick. Through teamwork and bravery, Nina and Fiona spend a typical day boldly rescuing animals in trouble: a baby bird fallen from its nest, a cat left out in the rain, and --just when Nina thinks her work is done--she's called to action again!"

My Review:

I love picture books!!! I don't think I'll ever stop loving them. I especially love the time spent sitting close together over a picture book; it's the best! This book does not disappoint! Move over Spiderman, Iron Man, Batman, and Superman, Nina is here to save the day! The story is so cute and fun. Nina is at all the right places at all the right times, just in time to help those animals who need her. There was one time that she was tired and wet and wanted to just go home, but she didn't give up and kept helping. That's a great lesson for children to learn! Fiona is a fun sidekick. I like that this book is positive and focuses on the inner qualities that make superheros. Rather than strong and speedy, I think kind and patient or caring and compassionate may have been a little bit better, but there's nothing wrong with strong and speedy! This is a great book for little girls, especially, but great for boys too! The illustrations are darling. They are bright and colorful, and oh so cute! This book would make a great addition to any picture book library!!

Rating: G (Clean!)

Recommendation: Everyone

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


Friday, February 10, 2017

The Runaway Midwife



The Runaway Midwife
by
Patricia Harman

Blurb:

"Midwife Clara Perry is accustomed to comforting her pregnant patients, calming fathers-to-be as they anxiously await the births of their children, and ensuring the babies she delivers come safely into the world. But when Clara's life takes a nose-dive, she realizes she hasn't been tending to her own needs and she does something drastic: she runs away to start over again in a place where no one knows her, or about the mess she's left behind in West Virginia. Heading to tiny, remote Seagull Island in Canada, Clara is ready for anything. Well, almost. She left her passport back home, and the only way she can enter Canada is by hitching a ride on a snowmobile and illegally crossing the border. Deciding to reinvent herself, Clara takes a new identity--Sara Livingston, a writer seeking solitude. But there's no avoiding the outside world. The residents are friendly, and they draw 'Sara" into their lives and confidences. She volunteers at the local medical clinic, using her midwifery skills, and forms a tentative relationship with a local police officer. But what will happen if she lets down her guard and reveals the real reason why she left her old life? One lesson soon becomes clear: no matter how far you run, you can never truly hide from your past."

My Review:

The best thing about this book is the characters, especially the secondary characters. They are well written and seemed like people that could live next door. I liked Molly Lou, Jed, Dolman, Nita, and Rainbow. Some of them are quirky and fun while others are more serious and deep. Nita is one of my favorites. I love her talent and her wisdom. Jed seems like a great friend, and Rainbow's free spirit is contagious. Unfortunately, that's about all I liked about this book. I wasn't a huge fan of Clara (She goes by Sara on the island-I'll call her Sara in this review), the main character. I could not relate to her at all. I could not fathom doing what she did. Lots of people go through tough times, and they go through things that are much worse than what Sara went through, and they don't run away. Most people stick it out and work through their problems. Most people deal with the hard things and become stronger, better people as a consequence. Yes, it's hard, but it's life. I just didn't feel like what she did was realistic or reasonable. I felt bad that she was having a hard time, but didn't agree with, relate to, or like how she dealt with it. Then she's on the island and I just felt like it was really slow and kind of pointless. I didn't get the point of it all. The writing felt disjointed. I felt like it just jumped from one event to the next without any transition. There were events that happened that left me wondering why they were even included in the book at all (the Nelson children??? Charity???). Also, I like birds, but I just skipped all the bird facts at the end of the chapters, once again-why? And why all the talk of missing persons that Dolman needed to check out? That one definitely didn't get resolved. You all know how I feel about politics in books. If I want to read a political book I will read one, but when I read fiction, I read it to be entertained and taken away from everyday life. I don't want to read about politics at all in fiction (whether I agree with it or not....). This book definitely has a political bias. I'm sick of politics at the moment, and I really just wanted to be entertained, not preached to. Also, I just felt like the ending was a little too perfect and tidy for the situation she was in. It didn't feel realistic at all. So there you go...this book was just not for me. 

There was some profanity in this book, including one "f" word. There isn't any violence, but there are multiple "intimacy" scenes. There are a few discussions about STDs as well, along with a homosexual couple. There is also the delivery and birth of a baby. It's not too descriptive, but it does use correct terminology, without mincing words. I actually liked that scene. I delivered all four of my babies in hospitals, but all without drugs, and it definitely brought back all the feelings and emotions from when my babies were born. 

Rating: R (This book is not appropriate for younger readers.) There is profanity, including an "f" word, along with multiple "intimacy" scenes. STDs are also discussed, and there is a homosexual couple. There isn't any violence, but there is the delivery and birth of a baby, and she does use correct terminology and does not mince words.

Recommendation: Adult

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



Friday, February 3, 2017

Rise


Rise
How a House Built a Family
by
Cara Brookins

Blurb (taken from amazon.com):

If you were inspired by Wild and Eat, Pray, Love, you’ll love this extraordinary true story of a woman taking the greatest risk of her life in order to heal from the unthinkable.
After escaping an abusive marriage, Cara Brookins had four children to provide for and no one to turn to but herself. In desperate need of a home but without the means to buy one, she did something incredible.
Equipped only with YouTube instructional videos, a small bank loan and a mile-wide stubborn streak, Cara built her own house from the foundation up with a work crew made up of her four children.
It would be the hardest thing she had ever done. With no experience nailing together anything bigger than a bookshelf, she and her kids poured concrete, framed the walls and laid bricks for their two story, five bedroom house. She had convinced herself that if they could build a house, they could rebuild their broken family.
This must-read memoir traces one family’s rise from battered victims to stronger, better versions of themselves, all through one extraordinary do-it-yourself project.


My Review:

Wow. Just wow. I can barely use a drill to hang a picture on the wall, let alone build a whole house! Cara's story is filled with heartbreak, fear, anger, heart, hard work, inspiration, and achievement. She has dealt with many hardships in her life, including domestic violence, and building a house was a way to bring herself and her children out of fear and paranoia and into strength and hope. The book is well written. It switches off between Rise chapters and Fall chapters, which describe their current situation of rising above the abuse and their past of dealing with domestic violence and abuse. It seems a little choppy at first, but soon finds a rhythm and seems to transition much more smoothly. Cara's writing style is easy to read and understand, and definitely catches your attention. I like her voice in this book. Her optimism is contagious, and helps to put things in perspective. Learning about her ex-husbands and the situations she was in was heartbreaking. I have to admit that her ex-husbands scared me, and I'm safe in my own home far away. There was one thing in the book that I didn't quite understand, and that was the whole Benjamin/Caroline aspect of it. Cara would meditate and would apparently see either Caroline or Benjamin during her meditation. I'm still not sure why they got those names, or why she saw them, but I thought that they almost distracted from the story. I would have loved to have seen pictures of the different stages of the build. I read an advanced reader's copy, and it did not have pictures except the back cover picture, and I think more pictures would be great. The published copy now for sale may have photos in it. If not, Cara's website has many photos that you may look at:  https://carabrookins.com/portfolio/ . This book is very inspiring! If they can build a house, then I can do____________(fill in the blank)! If they can overcome domestic violence and abuse then I can____________ (fill in the blank)! I love how building the house helped each of them individually and collectively. I wouldn't recommend doing what they did, but it definitely goes to show you that working together as a family and relying on each other will bring you together and make you stronger. 

There is some mild profanity in this book, but not a lot. There isn't any "intimacy." There are, however, some scary scenes. Most of them deal with domestic violence and physical abuse and situations dealing with those. There is a suicide mentioned and a murder also mentioned. Overall, the good definitely outweighs the bad in this book! I highly recommend it.

Rating: R (This book is not appropriate for younger readers-there is some mild profanity and domestic violence/abusive situations. A suicide and a murder are also mentioned.)

Recommendation: Adult





Friday, January 20, 2017

Disneyland!

Hi Readers! I am in Disneyland with my family right now, so I'm using the hotel
computer to write this review of Lady of the Lakes. This is a Mac, and I have an
HP, and for some reason the formatting is all wonky. I'm so sorry!! I'll fix it when I get home. :)
~Monica

The Lady of the Lakes





The Lady of the Lakes

by
Josi S. Kilpack


Blurb:

"Walter Scott has three passions: Scotland, poetry, and Mina Stuart. Though she is young 
and they are from different stations in society, Walter is certain their love is meant to be. For 
years, he has courted her through love letters. She is the sunshine of his soul. Though Mina 
shares Walter's love of literature and romantic temperament, it's hard for her to know if she 
truly loves him or if she has only been dazzled by his flattery. When she meets the handsome 
and charming William Forbes, her heart is challenged. Who will she choose? But as every 
poet knows, "the course of true love never did run smooth," and on a windy morning in the 
lake country, Walter meets Charlotte. At twenty-six, Charlotte Carpenter believes she will 
never find love. After all, she is a Catholic-born Frenchwoman living in London with a family 
history shadowed by scandal. Though quiet, practical, and determined to live a life of 
independence, her heart longs for someone to love her and a place to call home. Passion 
and promises collide as Walter, Mina, and Charlotte must each decide the course for their 
futures. What are they each willing to risk to find love and be loved in return?"

My Review:

I have always enjoyed a sweet love story, and this one is no exception. This story has all the 
elements that make a good love story: poetry, romance, dedication, heartbreak, suffering, and 
true love. I love that Sir Walter Scott's poetry is written throughout the book. As a reader you 
can just picture him writing his poetry for the love of his life, and also to combat his heartbreak. 
The characters are well developed and realistic. I especially liked Sir Walter Scott's voice 
along with Charlotte's voice. Charlotte was one of my favorite characters. Her need for 
independence and her strong voice make for a great character. It was fun to see her grow and 
progress throughout the book. There were times when Walter's character was a little irritating; 
I just wanted to scream, "Get over it already!!!" Thankfully his brother and friend were there to 
help him! The story flows well, and the transitions from person to person are easy to follow. 
Josi Kilpack does a great job of describing the scene without overdoing it. Each character 
sounds and feels different as you're reading, so you don't need to keep checking the beginning 
of the chapter to figure out which character you're reading about. Reading this book definitely 
makes me want to go to Scotland and see where it all took place. I thought this was a sweet 
love story and I enjoyed it. 

There is no profanity or violence in this book. There isn't any "intimacy" either, except for some 
brief kissing and a few romantic moments. I love that it's clean and you don't need to worry about 
what the next page may hold! That's definitely a benefit to reading the proper romances!

Rating: PG (There's no profanity, violence, or "intimacy," except for a few brief kisses and some 
romantic moments.

Recommendation: YA and up (It is YA approved; girls will definitely enjoy it more than boys. My 
boys -15 and 13- would not enjoy this book, but girls will love it.)

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


Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Scrivener's Bones (Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians Book #2)


The Scrivener's Bones
(Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians Book #2)
by
Brandon Sanderson

Blurb:

"Grandpa Smedry is in trouble--Alcatraz to the Rescue! In his second skirmish against the Evil Librarians who rule the world, Alcatraz and his ragtag crew of freedom fighters track Grandpa Smedry to the ancient and mysterious Library of Alexandria. Hushlanders--people who live in the Librarian-controlled lands, such as Canada, Europe, and the United States--believe the library was destroyed long ago. Free Kingdomers know the truth: the Library of Alexandria is still around, and it's one of the most dangerous places on the planet. For it is the home of the scariest Librarians of them all: a secret sect of soul-stealing undead Curators. Can Alcatraz and his friends rescue Grandpa Smedry and make it out of there alive?"

My Review:

Have I told you how much I love this series? Well, let me tell you again--I love this series! I cannot remember the last time I laughed out loud this much reading a book. Seriously! I love the wit, the humor, the puns, the dialogue, the sarcasm, and the writing in this book. I was in the faculty room at school, eating lunch, and the other teachers kept asking me what I was reading because I was laughing so hard. I read a few parts to them, and I read parts to my husband because it's so funny. The part about the bazooka-wielding bunny is hilarious. I love how the author addresses the reader. I love how he inserts random comments throughout. The characters are very well done. Alcatraz learns and grows a lot during this book, and Bastille is...Bastille. We meet a few new characters in book two, and I like them as well. The bad guy is even more scary than the bad guy in the first book, but the way he is done is very clever. There's a lot of action in this book, and some cool new lenses are introduced. I like that the characters can't just use physical force to overcome their enemies, they also need to use knowledge. This is a great second book, and I highly recommend it! If you liked the first one, you NEED to pick this one up today!

Rating: PG (There's no profanity or "intimacy." There is some violence as they fight the bad guy. There are some injured characters as well, but none of it is too graphic or too scary.)

Recommendation: 3rd grade and up (It's a great middle-grade/YA book!!)



Thursday, January 5, 2017

Viking Age: Everyday Life



Viking Age: Everyday Life
During the Extraordinary Era of the Norsemen
by
Kirsten Wolf

Blurb:

"The Viking age comes alive in this vivid, abundantly illustrated exploration of its people and their world. What kinds of houses did the Scandinavians live in? Were they literate? What kinds of clothing did they wear? How did they view death? Filled with a wealth of information on every aspect of the Viking age, this fascinating and informative book answers these questions and many more. You'll explore all aspects of line, including marriage, settlement conditions, crafts and industries, language, health and medicine, food and drink, boatbuilding, politics, warfare, and sports."

My Review:

This is the third in the Everyday Life series that I have read. I've read Ancient Egypt and The Middle Ages, and this, surprisingly, has been my favorite! It's crazy because I thought I'd like the Egypt one the best. Learning about the Vikings has never particularly interested me, but this book did a great job of explaining everything and making it interesting. One of the reasons I didn't love the other books as much as I thought I would was because the writing was very technical and difficult to read. It took me forever to read them! This book was actually written very well. It brought the Vikings to life, and even though the writing was still a bit technical, it was understandable! I thought it flowed well, was fairly easy to read and understand, and it did a good job of explaining everything in a way that readers could enjoy. There are many pictures and illustrations, and I found it so fun to look at and study them. I liked learning about their coins, jewelry, homes, and their raids. I hate to say it, but "How To Train Your Dragon" is about as much as I did know about the Vikings before reading this book. Now though, I feel totally educated! Ms. Wolf did a great job with this book! 

Rating: PG+ (There isn't any profanity in this book. There is talk of marriage and the things that go with it-not too detailed, but it is discussed. There is a little bit of violence when they discuss raids and warfare and such, but once again, it's not too graphic.)

Recommendation: 12 or 13 years-old and up (The language may be too difficult for some of the 12 and 13 year-olds, and younger children most likely won't be interested anyway.)

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



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Monday, January 2, 2017

Chestnuts



Chestnuts
by
Gilbert Ohanian

Blurb:

"Is there a bully in your life that you don't know how to deal with? I had one too. It prompted me to write 'Chestnuts: A True Story About Being Bullied,' a book outlining practical strategies for defending against bullies and resolving the conflict and aggression that often plagues victims of bullying. Inside these pages, I will take you through my own harrowing journey with bullies--from boarding school beat-ups, to violent attacks from crazed skinheads on the streets of London, to bullies in a public school of America. In each chapter a reflection of my personal story will show you what I did wrong, and how you can actually defend yourself in this modern day and age."

My Review:

Bullying is something that, as a teacher, I do not put up with. As a mom, I don't put up with it. There's definitely a zero tolerance policy on bullying in my house. However, a couple of my kids have been bullied at school. My children have been physically harmed, and they have been verbally and emotionally bullied as well. Our school does have a zero bullying policy, but it's not always easy to see happening when it's verbal or emotional. When I have brought it up with principals and teachers they have taken it seriously and it has stopped. It's not as easy when the kids are in junior high, so it's been more difficult to take care of there. Anyway, I'm telling you this to let you know that I am no stranger to bullying. I think it is a topic that needs to be discussed continually with children at home and at school. This is a very important subject, and so I was glad to hear from Mr. Ohanian about reviewing his book. His story is tragic. It broke my heart to read about everything he went through during his childhood. There were definitely things that his school leaders could have done differently to help him, and there were things that he also could have done differently, but looking back doesn't change anything. What happened, happened. I'm glad that he was brave enough to speak out and tell his story. It's important for people to read about and understand the dynamics of bullying. There are some good aspects to this book. Speaking out against bullying is always important and beneficial. He gives some good ideas on how to deal with bullies, and he writes about the things he could have handled differently. Those are all good things. Reading about his story will definitely help others to speak out against bullying. Unfortunately, this book needs to be edited. A lot. It's written from the heart, but he discusses several situations that are not relevant to the story at all. Also, it may be written from the heart, but there are many grammatical errors and portions of the book that do not flow well or transition well. One other thing that bothered me was that he is not a psychologist or doctor. I understand that he lived through these situations, but I wasn't sure if the advice he gives in the book is just his philosophy or if it's sound advice from bullying experts. Does that make sense? He does cite many articles in this book, so I know that he did research into best practices. I hesitate to state these things because he has endured a lot of criticism in his life, and I don't want to add to that. It is a very sad story, and I feel terrible that he had to endure such hardships in his life. I think this book has a lot of potential, and I hope that he will find a great editor and publish a second edition.  

Rating: PG+ (There is no profanity or "intimacy," except for maybe a brief kiss. There is a lot of violence in this book. He is beaten-up, harassed, and bullied. Some of the stories are difficult to read because of how harsh they are.)

Recommendation: 13 years-old and up (YA)

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