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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Vicar's Daughter



The Vicar's Daughter
by
Josi S. Kilpack

Blurb:

"Cassie, the youngest of six daughters in the Wilton family, is bold, bright, and ready to enter society. There's only one problem: her older sister Lenora, whose extreme shyness prevents her from attending many social events. Lenora is now entering her third season, and since their father has decreed that only one Wilton girl can be out at a time, Cassie has no choice except to wait her turn. Evan Glenside, a soft-spoken, East London clerk, has just been named his great-uncle's heir, and though he is eager to learn all that will be required of him, he struggles to feel accepted in a new town and in his new position. A chance meeting between Evan and Lenora promises to change everything, but when Lenora proves too shy to pursue the relationship, Cassie begins to write Mr. Glenside letters in the name of her sister. Her good intentions lead to disaster when Cassie realizes she is falling in love with Evan. But then Evan begins to court Lenora, thinking she is the author of the letters. As secrets are revealed, the hearts of Cassie, Evan, and Lenora are tested. Will the final letter sent by the vicar's daughter be able to reunite the sisters as well as unite Evan with his true love?"

My Review:

This is a fun new addition to the proper romance genre! It is well written, has good character development, and a sweet love story. Although I usually liked Cassie, there were times when I wanted to scream at her; she could definitely be strong willed and had a tendency to make poor choices. Lenora was more complex than you think she will be the first time you meet her, and she could also drive me crazy at times. Evan was a great character. I actually liked him a lot. He wasn't perfect, but he was a gentleman and did his best. I like how he protected his family, and how he felt he had to take care of them. This story was a bit predictable, and cheesy in some parts, but that's what we love about romances, right? I think it ended a little too perfectly, but that doesn't mean I didn't like the ending. :) If you're a Josi Kilpack fan, or if you enjoy the proper romance genre, you will definitely enjoy this book. It was entertaining and was a cute story.

This book is clean! There may be a kiss or two, but the only scandalous thing in the book are a few secret (clean) letters. Boy am I glad times have changed for dating and marriage!

Rating: PG (It's clean!)

Recommendation: YA and up

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


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Magnolia Story



The Magnolia Story
by
Chip and Joanna Gaines
(with Mark Dagostino)

Blurb:

"Sometimes the messiest stuff and the biggest mistakes can take you someplace wonderful. With the help of their hit TV show, Fixer Upper, the husband and wife team of Chip and Joanna Gaines have transformed the seemingly everyday work of renovating homes and flipping houses in Waco, Texas, into something much more. With their fun personalities, good humor, strong love of family, and unique design style, they've managed to capture the hearts of Americans from all walks of life. It all happened so quickly, their ever-multiplying fan base has been left to wonder: Who are these people? Where did they come from What's the secret to their success? And should I pack up and move to Waco, too? From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together to the project that nearly cost them everything, The Magnolia Story offers a peak behind the curtain of who Chip and Joanna are today. This first book also includes stories and photos from the childhood memories that shaped them and the twists and turns that led them to the life they currently share: on the farm with their four kids and countless farm animals, and in their ever-expanding roles and entrepreneurs, designers, and good neighbors. It also answers (in hilarious detail) the one lingering question that fans of the show always ask: Is Chip really that funny? 'Oh yeah,' says Joanna.' He was, and still is, my first fixer upper.'"

My Review:

I have a confession to make. Yep, you guessed it. I'm an HGTV addict. I may watch a few too many shows on that channel. (When I'm not reading, of course!) Fixer Upper has always been one of my favorites. I think that Chip and Joanna seem so sincere, and you can feel the love they have for each other and their children just radiating through the tv waves. When I saw this book at the library I grabbed it. And now it's four days late, so I better review it and get it back to the library quick! I really enjoyed this book! It is written from both Joanna and Chip's perspectives. There are two different fonts representing each of them, and it's easy to read. The voice they have is great. I love how much importance they put on their family, and the importance they put on their marriage. Their voices in this book are great. They say that individually they are good, but together they make each other stronger, and I love that! They didn't have perfect childhoods, and not everything has come easy to them, but they work very hard, and they dream big. They have some fun stories from their childhoods, and also from their marriage. The big houseboat surprise is hilarious. I liked that they made it clear that they are not perfect. They have disagreements, they have made a few poor business choices, and they each have areas they need to improve in, but they do their best, they forgive each other, and they always put family first. This book is well written, has a positive voice, and is inspirational. I love that they discuss how God has blessed them, and the miracles they've witnessed in their lives. 

Rating: G (Clean!)

Recommendation: 5th grade and up (My daughter is in 5th grade, and I'd be fine with her reading it. I don't really think she'd care to, but it is appropriate.)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Alcatraz vs The Shattered Lens (Book #4)


The Shattered Lens 
(Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians: Book #4)

by

Brandon Sanderson

Blurb:

"Alcatraz Smedry is on a mission to save the day! The boy with all the wrong Talents has a lot to prove and, as always, little time in which to do it. In this final adventure, Alcatraz faces an army of librarians--and their giant librarian robots--as they battle to win the kingdom of Mokia. If the librarians win the war, everything that Alcatraz has fought so hard for could end in disaster. With his incredible Talent for breaking things, some explosive teddy bears, and the help of his friends, Alcatraz must face the glass-shattering gigantic robots, an entire army of evil librarians, and even his own manipulative mother! But will he be able to save the kingdom of Mokia and the Free Kingdoms from the wrath of the librarians before everything comes crashing down?"

My Review:

This series has definitely become one of my all-time favorites! I love the humor, wit, and creativity in these books, and this one is no different. For example, this is part of the Author's Forward: "This is my story. Or, well, part four of it. Otherwise known as 'The part where everything goes wrong, and then Alcatraz has a cheese sandwich.'" Hahaha!!! Seriously. I haven't ever laughed out loud so much in a book before. Explosive teddy bears? Magic glasses? Dragons as cabs? The wrong Talents that actually wished for and celebrated? Who comes up with this stuff? So fun! As usual, there is trouble in the world and Alcatraz feels the need to save the day. Sitting back and letting things play out is not his strong suit. This book is a continuation of all the fun that happens in the first three books, and I thought it was great. There are a few surprises, and definitely some creative uses of magic and lenses. There are, of course, lots of evil librarians, but there are lots of good guys too. If you want lots of action, fun, humor, wit, giant robots, and lots of breaking things, this book is for you! If you enjoyed the first three then you for sure need to read this one! If you haven't read any of these books yet, go brave the evil librarian at your local library and pick up book #1. I promise you won't be disappointed!

This book contains quite a bit of fighting because it's a war. It's not overly graphic, though. There isn't any profanity or "intimacy." Alcatraz may be naked for a short while; however, it's not because of anything inappropriate. There might be a small kiss?

Rating: PG (For minor fighting of those evil librarians.)

Recommendation: 3rd grade and up



Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Reading Lists Interview

A few weeks ago Phil from The Reading Lists contacted me for an interview.
Well, he posted it today! I'm honored to be featured on this site!!


Everyone go check it out!!

Thanks Phil!!!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Settle For More



Settle For More
by
Megyn Kelly


Blurb:

"In the three years since her show The Kelly File premiered on the Fox News Channel, Megyn Kelly has cemented her reputation as one of the most respected, hardest-hitting journalists in America. Tackling issues from both sides of the aisle, live on prime time five nights a week, Megyn has embraced difficult questions and pressed for real answers, redefining the face of news for her more than two million regular viewers. Now, in her debut book, Megyn goes behind the scenes of the stories and the storms that landed her in the anchor chair of the most successful news broadcast in cable news. Having grown up in a family whose values rejected the 'trophies for everyone' mentality, Megyn traces the experiences that shaped her professional ascent--from her father's sudden, tragic death while she was still in high school to the events that propelled her rise in journalism. Speaking candidly about her decision to 'settle for more'--a motto she credits as having dramatically transformed her life at home and at work--Megyn discusses how she abandoned a thriving legal career to follow her dream in the news business. Through her unique blend of hard work, humor, and authenticity, she has won fans across the political divide. Megyn also opens up about the controversy that made her, unwillingly, one of America's most-talked-about public figures, giving her side of Donald Trump's feud with her while sharing never-before-heard details about the first Republican debate and how she was able to persevere through the difficult aftermath. In addition, Megyn sheds light on the challenges she has faced as a professional woman and working mother, revealing her approach to issues of gender in the workplace, as well as how her success is rooted in the adage 'Be so good they can't ignore you.'"

My Review:

No matter what your political viewpoints are, no matter where you stand on the issues, and no matter your opinion about Fox News, you have to admit that Megyn Kelly is a strong woman. Her hard work ethic, determination, and attitude have worked to put her at the top of broadcast news. I saw her at the Republican debate when she asked Donald Trump the infamous question that resulted in their feud, and I was curious to know more about that whole situation. I hoped her book would shed some light on the subject. I had also heard about Roger Ailes and the women reporting that he had sexually harassed them, and I hoped to learn more about that situation as well. So I picked this book up at the library. It was slow going at first. Learning about her childhood and youth years was interesting, and it always helps you learn more about the person, but it was definitely slow. I really don't know much about practicing law, so maybe that's why, but I though those years in her book were also a bit slow. However, I was very impressed with her courage. Making the decision to leave a high powered and high pay job to go do something completely different with a lot less money would be a difficult decision. If the job is killing you though, maybe it's an easy decision? I thought the book got much more compelling once she got to the last few years. The "Year of Trump," as she calls it, sounds awful. It kind of scared me, actually, that someone running for president of the United States could use his resources (and supporters-real people) to wage such a bitter vendetta against a reporter. Yes, she asked a difficult question, but really?? That much?? The section about Aires was also crazy. Seriously, I had no idea that situations like that still went on in this country. Thankfully, I've never encountered anything like that. Megyn's writing style is easy to read (unless she's discussing the specifics of law, which seem like a foreign language...), it flows well, and is well written. I like the message of her book; it's empowering. The title message comes from a Dr. Phil quote: "The only difference between you and someone you envy is, you settled for less." So go out there and don't settle, work until you get what you want! Her message also includes taking responsibility for your own product, actions, results, etc. The blame game is not productive. Another part of the message that I liked was that instead of worrying about things you can't control (finding a boyfriend, getting a raise, the way other people think about you, etc.), "Put all of [that] energy back into yourself." In other words, don't worry about it or stress about it-just do the best you can do. Be the best you, and things will work out. Overall, I liked the book. She does highlight a lot of her successes, making it seem like she's bragging a bit, but she also does talk about her failures. And, if you've gotten to where she's gotten in life, and you've worked that hard to get there, then I think you deserve a small right to brag. :)

Rating: R (There's quite a bit of profanity, including several "f" words. She doesn't say them, but she's quoting others who do. There isn't any "intimacy," and there isn't any real violence, besides discussing stalkers and such. There are many adult themes as well.)

Recommendation: Adult



Thursday, March 2, 2017

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!!!


Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!!!

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The 

more that you learn, the more places you'll go."

~Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was                born on March 2, 1904. He was born in Springfield, Massachusetts to Theodore and Henrietta Geisel. His mother's maiden name was Seuss, and it was also his middle name. At Dartmouth College, he worked on the school's humor magazine called the Jack-O-Lantern, until he and his friends were caught having a drinking party, which was not allowed. His official position was terminated, but he continued to contribute under the name "Seuss." Ted's father wanted him to be a college professor, and so after Dartmouth he went to Oxford University in England. He became bored, though, and ended up touring Europe instead. While he was there he met Helen Palmer. They later married, and she became a children's book author. When he returned from Europe, he tried to be a cartoonist, and did publish a few things. However, he did work for Standard Oil for 15 years creating their advertising campaigns. Towards the beginning of WWII, he began contributing political cartoons to PM Magazine. He also worked on creating training movies. After working on the illustrations for  a collection of children's sayings for Viking Press, which didn't do well, he wrote And To Think That I Saw it On Mulberry Street. It was rejected 27 times before Vanguard Press published it. It was his next book, The Cat in the Hat, that really began his career. It was a joint effort between Houghton-Mifflin and Random House, and they asked him to write a story using "only 225 'new-reader' vocabulary words."(1) He passed away on September 24, 1991. At the time of his death he had written and illustrated 44 children's books. Over 200 million copies of his books have been sold, and he was awarded "two Academy awards, two Emmy awards, a Peabody award and the Pulitzer Prize."(1) 

Our home library has many Dr. Seuss books in it, and they have been read many, many times! My children have loved them, and the kids I taught at school also loved them. Dr. Seuss is beloved by many, and has contributed to my love of reading as well as my kids' love of reading. Thank you Dr. Seuss for your creativity, determination, and imagination! 






Here are some great links to Dr. Seuss information and activities!!!





Doesn't this sound like so much fun? You have the kids scan the qr code and they can 
listen to the stories. Click the photo.

Click on the above photo to find the Dr. Seuss cut and paste bingo!

How fun to celebrate Dr. Seuss Day with a fun photo booth! Click on the image for the link.

Everyone loves cootie catchers! Click on the above photo to make yours!



Have fun celebrating today!!!








Monday, February 27, 2017

The Knights of Crystallia (Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians Book #3)



The Knights of Crystallia
(Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians Book #3)
by
Brandon Sanderson

Blurb (Taken from goodreads.com):

"When Alcatraz and Grandpa Smedry make a pilgrimage to the Free Kingdom city of Crystallia, the Smedry home base, Alcatraz is shocked to see that he is, in fact, a legend. When he was a baby he was stolen by the Evil Librarians, and his mother, a Librarian herself, was behind the whole scheme. Now, with his estranged father, who is acting indeed strange, Bastille, who has been stripped of her armor, and Grandpa Smedry, who is, as always, late to everything (that's his Talent), Alcatraz tries to save a city under siege. From who? Why, the Librarians of course!


My Review:

Seriously! These books are so much fun! I love the humor and wit, the creativity, and the imagination in these books, and this one is no different. It starts out different from the other books, saying that he's awesome; in the other books he makes it very clear that he is not a hero, that he's a liar, etc. I was intrigued from the get-go. It seems that fame has gotten to our non-hero in this book. Alcatraz begins to be just a bit arrogant and cocky. He lets the pride go to his head, and there are definitely consequences to that. The capital city of Nalhalla seems like such a cool place! I loved the descriptions of the buildings, the dragons that climb on buildings and act as taxis, and the technology they have there. Of course, there's trouble, and Alcatraz' mom is involved somehow. This time, however, the gang is not at the top of their game. They have to be doubly creative to make up for what they're lacking. This book has lots of action, danger, librarian schemes, surprises, books that sing, and more amazing Talents. If you enjoyed the first two you will love this one! My family always ends up hearing a lot of these books because I'll be sitting there reading and will burst out laughing; then they'll want to know why and I'll have to read it to them. It's awesome! I can't remember the last books that I actually laughed out loud at while reading. I love it; it's definitely a breath of fresh air!

Rating: PG (There's no profanity or "intimacy." There is some minor violence as they fight off those evil librarians.)

Recommendation: 3rd grade and up! This book would also make a great read-aloud!



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.