What is your reading goal this year?

Friday, March 29, 2013


Earth-Sim by Jade Kerrion

(Summary taken from an email the author sent me) "Have you ever wondered who’s really in charge of the world? If there’s a God, He seems accident-prone. How else can you explain the mass extinctions, global floods, and worldwide plagues? Are there days when you want to shout out to the uncaring sky, “Is there an intelligent, well-executed plan behind this mess? Wonder no more. From Jade Kerrion, author of the award-winning Double Helix series, comes an occasionally whimsical, frequently irreverent romp through the history of Earth, as seen through the eyes of the two students and the android assigned to shape the future of the planet in EARTH-SIM. Seamlessly blending popular culture with history, science, and religion, this crash course in planetary management will charm and entertain as you attempt to decipher just how much is fact and what else is fiction. Either way, you finally have someone to blame for the shape our world is in."

I enjoyed this book. At times I found it humorous, sad, shocking, clever, and interesting. It is very unique, and I like that. I never would have thought to take our world and put it in the hands of college students, but a lot of historical events were cleverly explained. I'm Christian, so I wasn't sure if I would like it or think it blasphemous, but I enjoyed it. It isn't anti-Christian in any way, so that made it much more fun to read and get in to. I liked the characters, and thought the character development was good. Jem and Kir are very different, but I saw both character-types at the university I attended. There is the goody-two-shoes who wants to be perfect and and has a plan (hahaha.......should I insert my name here?), and then there is the spur-of-the-moment, whatever happens, happens kind of student (the kind that drove me crazy.....). I definitely related more to Jem, but I actually ended up really liking Kir. Kav is pretty cool too. I liked the storyline. There were times I wasn't sure where it was going, but it ended up getting there and I enjoyed it. I liked the secondary storyline because it made the characters more "human" to me. I think Ms. Kerrion could have spent a little more time with the secondary story, I thought it almost seemed rushed, but there was enough to make it understandable and little enough to make it mysterious and intriguing.

There is a minimal amount of language in the book, but besides mass extinctions and plagues, there is no violence.  Jem does live with her boyfriend, but there is no "physical intimacy." All in all, I liked this book and do recommend it. I thought it was fun and entertaining, and I really liked the uniqueness of it.

Rating: PG-13 (Minimal language)

Recommendation: 13 or 14 and up. I think a 13-year-old would be able to understand and enjoy it. I don't think the 12 or under crowd would enjoy or understand it as much. As always, I do recommend that parents read it first to make sure it is ok for their child, as each child is different.

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When the Silence Ends

When the Silence Ends by Jade Kerrion

(Summary taken from the back book cover) "Seventeen-year-old Dee wants nothing more than to help her twin brother, Dum, break free from the trauma in their childhood and speak again, but the only person who can help Dum is the alpha empath, Danyael Sabre, whom the U.S. government considers a terrorist and traitor. The search for Danyael will lead Dee and Dum from the sheltered protection of the Mutant Affairs Council and into the violent, gang-controlled heart of Anacostia. Ensnared by Danyael's complicated network of friends and enemies, Dee makes her stand in a political and social war that she is ill equipped to fight. What can one human, armed only with her wits and pepper spray, do against the super-powered mutants who dominate the Genetic Revolution? America, nevertheless, is ripe for change. Exhausted by decades of belligerence between humans and their genetic derivatives, the clones, in vitros, and mutants, society is on the verge of falling apart or growing up. Which path will it choose, and can a mere human, her sassy attitude and smart mouth notwithstanding, light the way to a better future?"

I enjoyed this book. It is very different, and in this case, different is good. It's so creative and unique. I like the sci-fi genre, but I haven't read a lot of sci-fi books. That may change because of this book. I like that sci-fi makes you think a little into the future. I liked Ms. Kerrion's writing style. She drew me in from the beginning, and she kept me there throughout. I liked the characters and thought the character development was very good. I really liked Dee, Dum, Danyael, and Jessica. Dum and Danyael, especially, intrigued me. I found their characters so fascinating, and I wanted to know more about them and their abilities. I loved that Dum's music could have such a profound effect on those who heard it. I wish there were someone out there that had his ability. We could use some more of that. And Danyael, wow. I couldn't get enough of him. Even after I finished I thought I had just skimmed the surface of his personality, ability, and depth. Also, I loved that Dee is a strong female character. I just wanted to yell, "You go girl!" She's tough and yet tender and insightful. Her love of Dum was so sweet. You could tell they were siblings because they did fight, but they also cared for, protected, and loved each other. I wasn't sure where the story was going, but I did enjoy the ride. I thought it had some good twists and turns and was, for the most part, believable. I felt like I was right there in Anacostia, and I love when I can get pulled into a story like that.

There is some language in this book along with violence. There is gang violence and bad guy violence, and there are some scenes that are graphic. Characters do die. I thought it could have been just a little longer. I felt there was a lot of lead-up to the end, and then it just kind of ended. I liked the ending, but thought there could have been just a little more. That was my only criticism, if you could call it that. I did enjoy the book and would like to read more about these characters.

Rating: PG-13+ (Language, violence, death of characters)

Recommendation: 16 and up. It may be ok for some younger teens, but I recommend the parents read it first. Each child is different. I think it has a little too much language and violence for a 14 year-old, but that is just my humble opinion.

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

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Inventor's Secret

The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris

(Summary taken from the press release) "Imagine a school in the year 2074 where students don't read history, but watch it happen in 3-D holograms--where running in gym class isn't around a track, but up a virtual mountain, and where learning about animals means becoming one through an avatar. Welcome to Cragbridge Hall, the most advanced and prestigious school in the world. Twin siblings Abby and Derick Cragbridge are exited as new students to use their famed grandfather's inventions that make Cragbridge Hall so incredible. But when their grandfather and parents go missing, the twins begin following a trail of clues left by their grandfather. They must find out where their family is, learn who the can trust, discover what secrets are hidden within Cragbridge Hall, and decide whether they should learn from history, or attempt to change what has already happened."

I love the imagination and creativity in this book! How exciting to be able to watch history happen, and to learn about animals from the animals' point of view. I liked Mr. Morris' writing style and found it easy to read. It flowed well and kept me wanting more. His character development is really good, and I liked his characters, especially Abby and Derick. I love that Abby is a strong female character. She is not perfect and does get scared, but she works hard, she doesn't give up, and she ends up doing some incredible things. I liked Abby's friend Carol and I wasn't sure about Rafa, but ended up liking his character as well. I could just picture Oscar Cragbridge as a funny old inventor guy. I picture him as quirky and intelligent, and just a little crazy. But, I also picture him as serious and protective. The storyline kept me turning pages. I couldn't put this book down. It's a great mixture of mystery, adventure, detective work, love of family, never giving up, betrayal, and some great history lessons. (Shhhh.......don't tell the kids that they'll enjoy learning about history.)  I seriously would love the Bridge. I wish I had one!

I can't wait to hand this book over to my boys; they are going to eat it up! And, what do I love? This book is clean! There is no language, no "physical intimacy," and no extreme violence. There is some fighting and there are some close calls, where you think characters may die. There are a few weapons brandished, and used, but no one ends up dying. There were a few spelling and grammatical errors, but I did receive an Advanced Reader's Edition, so I assume they will be corrected in the final copy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it.

 Rating: PG (Some fighting with weapons, some evil characters)

Recommendation: 3rd grade and up. I enjoyed this book as an adult, and I know my 4th and 5th grade boys will love it. It will interest both boys and girls, young and old. It would make a fun read-aloud as well.

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

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Power of Starting Something STUPID

The Power of Starting Something STUPID by Richie Norton

(Summary taken from an email sent to me by the publicist.) "Where would the world be if the most successful and innovative minds throughout history gave up as soon as their ideas were deemed unconventional or illogical? Is it possible to achieve success from a “stupid” idea?
In The Power of Starting Something Stupid, Richie Norton redefines stupid as we know it, demonstrating that life-changing ideas are often tragically mislabeled stupid. What if the key to success, creativity, and fulfillment in your life lies in the potential of those stupid ideas? This deeply inspiring book will teach you:
  • How to crush fear, make dreams happen, and live without regret.
  • How to overcome obstacles such as lack of time, lack of education, or lack of money.
  • The 5 actions of the New Smart to achieve authentic success.
No more excuses. Learn how to start something stupid—the smartest thing you can do. Drawing on years of research, including hundreds of face-to-face interviews and some of the world's greatest success stories past and present, Richie shows you how stupid is the New Smart—the common denominator for success, creativity, and innovation in business and life.
Wow! Have you ever had an idea that some people said was stupid? I think we all have! Well, then this book is for you! It is so well written. It is very inspirational and motivational. I love Mr. Norton's writing style. It is so easy to read, and as I read, I just felt like all my dreams were possible. He has a way of putting things that seriously made me think that all my stupid ideas could change the world. He lists example after example of ways that ordinary people have taken "stupid" ideas and have ended up having an impact in the world, or have ended up making a lot of money. I liked that he included some of his own experiences along with the experiences of other well-known people. They all made it sound so easy. The chapters on authenticity and service were my favorites. Mr. Norton said, "Truly being authentic is knowing what matters to you, on the deepest level of who you are, and committing always to act from that authentic center." How powerful is that? Yep, I underlined it. I underlined this one as well: "If your goal is to be authentic, you need to understand your inherent worth." And this one by Napoleon Hill: "It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed." I could go on and on.
I've had my "stupid" idea, and you're reading it! (Thank you!) My stupid idea is still quite small, but I hope that someday it will allow me to have a greater impact on what parents think is appropriate for their children to read. I hope that more authors will realize that they can write fabulous books without the profanity and other questionable material. I hope children will realize that they don't need to read adult books until they are adults, and even then.....sometimes it's better to not read them at all. And, it would be great if my stupid, little idea would allow me to pay for my book and shoe addictions. :)  With the help of this book, I think I'm a lot closer to my dream becoming reality. I highly recommend this book! It truly is an amazing book. I couldn't put it down.
Rating: PG (It's clean!)
Recommendation: 12 and up. I think this would be a great book for the younger readers. Let's teach our kids that by working hard they can make their dreams a reality! I don't think children younger than 12 would really care, that's why I put it at 12.

I have a free copy of this book to give away!!! It's an advanced reader's copy. If you would like to enter to win, this is what you need to do:
1. Comment below what your "stupid" idea is, or if you've had a "stupid" idea become reality. If you are posting as anonymous, please write your name on your comment.
2. You get an extra name in the pot if you "share" my facebook post on this book (You need to let me know in your comment here, so I know.).
That's it! At the end of the weekend I'll put all the names in the pot and draw one out! I'll announce it Monday (3/11/13) morning. Good luck!!!
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Skull Eye Island

Skull Eye Island by Peter Greene

(Summary taken from the back book cover) "Homeless and alone on the streets of London in 1800, twelve-year-old Jonathan Moore survives this harsh and dangerous world using courage, intelligence and determination. His dismal fate changes dramatically one day after he is abducted by a gang and pressed into service aboard the HMS Poseidon, a forty-four gun fighting frigate of the British Royal Navy. However, there is more to the event than just a change of address. How is it that some members of the crew, including the Captain, already know his name? Why do the officers seem to favor him above the other new crewmembers? As Jonathan endeavors to solve these mysteries, he is thrust into a daring mission to recover a hidden treasure on a remote Caribbean isle. Unfortunately, the crew and officers of the Poseidon are not the only ones searching for the prize. In a desperate race across the Atlantic to Skull Eye Island, Jonathan is pitted against sword-wielding spies, engages in terrifying ship-to-ship battles and in the end, must match his wits and courage against a ruthless and cunning French Captain and his powerful warship."

I loved this book! It is written very well, and I really liked Mr. Greene's writing style. It just pulled me in from the beginning, and I couldn't put it down. I could picture myself on the ship, in the Captain's quarters, on the island, and in France walking to the apothecary shop. I love it when I can become a part of the story; that is why I read! Mr. Greene's character development is really good. I did have a hard time keeping track of some of the crew members at first, but figured it out in the end. I especially liked Jonathan and Sean, the Captain, and Mr. Harrison. Some of the other crew members were grumpy old sailors, but they all had some good moments. The story is well written and exciting. There is action, sword-fighting, storms, mystery, and treasure! What more could you want? Oh, romance? Well, there might be a paragraph or two on that as well. Remember, Jonathan is only 12 years-old, so hopefully there's not too much romance. I really don't know anything about ships, so some of the jargon was difficult at first, but I think I got it down by the end. That is another reason I enjoy reading; I love to learn about different things, on my couch, in my p.j.'s. It's great!

And what is something I love? It is clean!! Yes, that makes me very happy. You can have a wonderful story without the language and other questionable material. There is some sword-fighting and a few characters die, but it is a war, and the descriptions are not in-depth or gruesome. I highly recommend this book, and can't wait for my boys to read it. I think they will really enjoy it as well.

Rating: PG (Some sword-fighting, ships shooting each other, and a few minor characters die)

Recommendation: 9 years-old (4th Grade-ish) up. This would be a fun read-aloud as well as a great silent read.

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

Friday, March 1, 2013

Six Sisters' STUFF: Family Recipes, Fun Crafts, and So Much More!

Six Sisters' STUFF: Family Recipes, Fun Crafts, and So Much More! by Six Sisters (Camille, Kristen, Elyse, Stephanie, Lauren, and Kendra)

(Summary taken from the press release) "In their debut cookbook, the sisters (yes, six biological sisters--Camille, Kristen, Elyse, Stephanie, Lauren, and Kendra) show families just how simple putting dinner on the table can be. From Baked Chicken Fajitas to Slow Cooker Pot Roast Sliders to Mini Oreo Cheesecakes, Six Sisters' STUFF has nearly 100 easy-to-follow recipes that use ingredients commonly found in your pantry. Each recipe includes easy-to-follow instructions and photographs that eliminate any guess work."

I have been making recipes from the Six Sisters' website for a long time. They have some very yummy recipes! So when I got the chance to review their new cookbook, I jumped at the chance! I haven't had the opportunity to make many of the recipes in the cookbook yet, but I did go through the entire book, page by page, and I can't wait to get started. I want to try the "Cheesy Vegetable Soup," the "Baked Ziti," the "Baked Chicken Bacon Ranch Taquitos," and the "Smores Bars" today, tomorrow, the next day.......All of the recipes look family-friendly and fairly easy to prepare. I think I already have most of the ingredients I saw in my pantry or fridge, so I should be good to go! The instructions are easy to understand, and something even I should be able to handle. Yay!

Surprise! There are not only recipes in this book, but crafts and other tidbits as well. There is a cute wooden snowman, a wreath, a sock puppet, an ice cream cone pinata, a kid sprinkler car wash, and a bunch more. There is also some really good information like putting together 72 hour kits, a 14 Days of Valentine's Day for your spouse, and one that I will be using shortly (if spring ever comes....)--a spring cleaning guide. What more could you want? This book is the Everything-Family manual. It's a lot of fun, and I am excited to jump in and make some stuff!

The Six Sisters think it is very important that families eat dinner together, and they hope this book makes it easier for families to do just that. They are launching a 4x4 Dinner Challenge in conjunction with the release of their book, and are hoping families will go to their website www.SixSistersStuff.com and register. You will receive meal tips, ideas for family activites, and helpful recipes to assist in making this challenge a reality.

They are also doing a book giveaway. To enter, you need to either:
1) Like the Six Sister’s STUFF facebook page and comment that you are joining the 4x4 Dinner Challenge https://www.facebook.com/SixSistersStuff

2) Click the 4x4 Family dinner banner on the website www.SixSistersStuff.com (on the right sidebar) and leave a comment that you are joining the challenge.
I loved looking through this cookbook and will definitely be spending a lot of time with it in the weeks to come. There will be lots of new dinners to try for sure! And, I think the crafts are easy enough that I (completely non-crafty) will be able to do them.
Rating: G (Clean!)
Recommendation: Everyone
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.