Thursday, April 30, 2009

Caillou's big folks

Being that I don't have a child at home, I was not overly familiar with the "Caillou" television series or the books until just recently. I had heard that the show and the subsequent materials that were a result of the show were incredibly successful and that children all over the world were just loving this little guy named Caillou. Well...when a box of review materials showed up at my door a couple of weeks ago, I quickly studied up on all things Caillou and can most definitely see the appeal to toddlers and other little ones.

This little Caillou fellow is such a real-to-life character, participating in realistic events and activities that little kids can actually relate to him. It's not fantasy, talking animals, or rhyming stanzas (though they are all certainly fun too), but real things that kids do on a daily basis.

The first I read was a lift-the-flap book, My First Real Vacation, in which Caillou experiences his first plane ride. Though a paperback, the actual flaps were pretty sturdy and made the book more interactive. Definitely a plus.

I also saw a super-board book (my own description), ABC Train, which doubled as a puzzle book. In it, Caillou takes all his stuffed animals for a ride on his "train" using his imagination. Nice, sturdy puzzle pieces can be popped out of the pages and they all connect together, ultimately forming a train alphabet. This one was probably my favorite and would make a great toddler gift.

Another board book, this one a bit smaller with a puffy cover, Where Is Teddy?, is aimed at the younger set and features Caillou searching for his favorite stuffed animal. Simple, to-the-point. A nice bedtime story.

Finally, a 5 book boxed set for slightly older kids, these books would be great for learning to read. Includes the titles Caillou Makes a Snowman, Caillou Sleeps Over, Caillou and Rosie's Doll, Caillous Plans a Surprise, and Caillou Puts Away His Toys. Nice messages, easy to read, very simple format.

The colors used in all of the books are bright, primary colors, very eye-catching and bold. Overall, a great series of titles, and though I haven't seen the television show, I can see why the books are so popular. There is a whole lot of "excitement" in the books, but sometimes a little less excitement is what we all need. Keeping it simple.

I am going to be selecting one lucky winner to be sent allllllll the items I just wrote about. You will get the ABC Train, the 5 book boxed set, Where Is My Teddy, and My First Vacation. All are brand new and would make a fabulous gift for a toddler!!!

Leave a comment on this post by midnight Tuesday (mountain time) to enter. For extra entries, blog about it, tweet about it, Facebook about it, make sure you leave a separate comment for each entry.

And leave an EMAIL ADDRESS if you aren't a blogger. I have to actually be able to contact you!

I'm sorry, but this is a U.S. giveaway only.

April Mini-Reviews and a bit of a rant

I read some series books this month, most of which have been reviewed countless times throughout the blogosphere, resulting in my "Mini-Reviews" feature. Just a quick synopsis and my thoughts on each title. Enjoy!

"The 39 Clues" series has appeared to be hugely successful so far. I had the chance to review books 2 and 3 this month, both of which had the same excitement and page-turning aspects as the first. In book 2, One False Note, written by Gordon Korman, brother and sister team Amy and Dan Cahill, along with their nanny Nellie are still traveling the world in search of the 39 Clues. Vienna and ultimately, Mozart, play a large role in this one.

Book 3, The Sword Thief, written by Peter Lerangis tkaes us to Japan in search of the third clue. The Cahill's Uncle, Alistar Oh, seems to be the only one that can help them locate this clue, but whether he is trustworthy or not is still yet to be determined. Lots of puzzles in this one, which makes it even more intriguing, resulting in some mind work as well!

I do have to make a complaint about The Sword Thief and though it may not be quite necessary, I wouldn't be who I am if I didn't state my thinking. The role of the "pit bull" in this third installment is absolutely horrible. I counted at least four instances where the kids were almost attacked by another team's pit bull or the dog was referred to as vicious or menacing (almost all of chapter6). Seriously? Haven't we moved on from this issue yet? I hate reading stories where a specific dog breed is stereotyped so badly that it takes my focus away from the plot and the characters and that is exactly what happened for me in this one. Not a happy camper here.

Book 4 is out in June and is being written by Jude Watson!

One False Note/The Sword Thief
Gordon Korman/Peter Lerangis
160/160 pages
Middle Grade
Dec 08/March 09

Ok, moving on...I also read the first two installments of the "Blue Bloods" series by Melissa De La Cruz. Love them! After falling in love with the Luxe series earlier this month, the combination of rich people and vampires is awfully intriguing and De La Cruz can write one heck of a story!

Blue Bloods introduces us to the huge group of Manhattan socialites that just happen to be vampires as well. The plot focuses on Schuyler, a member of a very important Blue Blood family and the last of her line. When the old group of Silver Bloods, destined to kill Blue Bloods, returns and begins killing off members of their elite group, Schuyler knows there is trouble brewing but has a problem convincing others of the same thing.

Masquerade, book 2, brings even deeper into the Blue Blood world, showing us how evil rich vampires can really be...and how innocent. We learn more about Mimi and Jack Force in this novel, as well as where Schuyler's only living relative stands in with the rest of the Blue Bloods. More awesome descriptions of clothes and houses and lots of silly material things (which make us love these books so much). Oooh and the cover is great! Very creepy!

This series holds just the right mixture of action, romance, supernatural, and rich teens. It's like The Luxe gone vampire.

Blue Bloods/Masquerade
Melissa De La Cruz
336/320 pages
Young Adult
April 06/May 07

To learn more about any of these books, or to purchase, click the book covers above to link to Amazon.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sophomore Switch

An adorable YA novel if I ever did see one, Sophomore Switch has all the required elements to make a teen love it as well. A little bit of love, a foreign country, the beach, a fancy university, and two very real-to-life girls that are just trying to get done with school and move on in their lives.

Tasha and Emily really couldn't be more different. Tasha is the epitome of the "California Girl," more interested in boys, looking good, and partying that school, and most recently got caught hooking up with one half of a very famous couple in a hot tub, ruining her reputation and humiliating her to no end.

Emily is from England and attends Oxford, is totally uptight, dresses completely preppy, and ONLY cares about school and being organized. She most recently had her heart broken when a guy just couldn't deal with her controlling personality.

Both girls want a they switch places and lives. The outcome, though somewhat predictable, is at times hilarious, sometimes sweet, and the true showing of a friendship that came from differences.

Abby McDonald has written a book that has a true sense of reality. Emily and Tasha could very well be two girls out in the world right now. Their situations, their emotions, and their personalities are completely real (if not a tad bit stereotypical for their locations). The writing was great, everything believable, the locale descriptions amazing...I can definitely see teens enjoying this one.

Highly recommended for fans of Suite Scarlett or just good-old-fashioned-YA.

I read this for the Spring Reading Thing Challenge.

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Sophomore Switch
Abby McDonald
304 pages
Young Adult
March 2009

Franny Parker review

Adorable, adorable, adorable. And oh-so-sweet. When I saw the cover, with a girl and a dog, I was pretty much sold, but after reading this short little book, I soon realized it was about so much more than just animals. Family, friendships, and telling the truth are huge themes, and having the animals mixed in just made it that much better.

Franny Parker is written by Hannah Roberts McKinnon and features a precocious 13 year old girl, Franny, that absolutely loves rescuing and caring for animals, much like the rest of her family. She takes in anything wounded and attempts to nurse them back to health, opening her own small "animal hospital" that summer.

When the Dunn's move in next door, everything gets a whole lot more interesting that summer, as the boy, Lucas, becomes her friend. Filled with secrets and mystery, Lucas certainly peaks Franny's interest, but his love of books and animals is what really brings her to like him and when she finds out what his secret is, she quickly begins to understand what true friendship really means.

Franny Parker is filled with love of family and friends, hope, a bit of mystery, and a lot of real-to-life pain. Written beautifully and filled with wonderful characters (and animals!), I now feel a pretty big attachment to this little middle grade novel.

Definitely recommended for libraries and for any middle grader that loves a good story.

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Franny Parker
Hannah Roberts McKinnon
160 pages
Middle Grade
May 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth review

So first Stephenie Meyer made me fall in love with vampires. Then she made me fall in love with werewolves. And now? Carrie Ryan has made me fall in love with zombies...well maybe not the actual zombies, but the idea that zombies can be added into a young adult novel and it can be thrilling, enjoyable, and heart-wrenching all at the same time. Darn those author women.

Taking place in a post-apocalypse era, The Forest of Hands and Teeth follows Mary, a young girl residing in a village surrounded by a zombie-filled forest. If someone gets too close to the fence or happens to be crazy enough to leave the village, he or she will be bitten and will also turn into a flesh-driven zombie. After the "death" of her mother, Mary is sent to live with the Sisterhood, the strict religious government system of the village, out to force the residents to forget that there was ever a world before zombies.

Mary is soon forced to live out her worst nightmare when the fence is breached and zombies are all over her village, forced to flee with a few other residents, all of them must work together to stay alive, though none are even sure that's what they want to do at all.

Incredibly haunting and a total page-turner, Carrie Ryan's first book had my heart in my throat throughout the book. There's love, heartbreak, action, and ZOMBIES! Crazy, but sooooo enjoyable.

Definitely recommended for teens and those adults that just couldn't get enough of Twilight.

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Carrie Ryan
320 pages
Young Adult
Delacorte Press
March 2009

Anna Alter giveaway winners!

Alright everyone, I have the three winners for Anna Alter's, What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?

Unfortunately, a few people entered past the deadline...I went back and looked at my original post and it was pretty clear that the giveaway ended at midnight on Sunday, so the last few entries did not count toward the giveaway. That being said....

paula h


Leslie S.

Please email me your snail mail addresses by FRIDAY or I'll be drawing another winner. Thanks to everyone who entered!! I have another contest going on now and will have another Thursday!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cashay review

Well if you're looking for a bright, cheery novel...this is most definitely not what you're wanting. Sad, melancholy, and oh-so-true, Margaret McMullan has created a character that is living such a heartbreaking life, but her story is very true to what many young kids live with today. Cashay's story is speaking for the huge population of children that have siblings killed in drive-by shootings, parents strung out on drugs, and very little hope that they will ever get out.

Cashay is the main character of this short novel of the same name, a fourteen year old that has had to grow up way too fast. Her mother, once doing exceptionally well as a recovering drug addict, is back to her typical junkie ways after Cashay's little sister is shot and killed while walking home.

Cashay is taken under the wing of prissy Allison, a very white girl that has no idea of living a life in the projects, just as Cashay has no idea what life is like in a pretty apartment, riding in taxis, or what shopping for fun is. The pair teach each other a thing or two and Cashay works on healing and growing into her own, mature teenage self.

Definitely a biiiiig topic, but written in a simple, touching manner, Cashay is a book that a lot of teens will be able to relate to and the writing style will appeal to the reluctant readers out there. I was pretty impressed with the impact this short little book made.

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Margaret McMullan
176 pages
Young Adult
Houghton Mifflin
April 2009

Non-Fiction Monday and a Giveaway!

April is winding down, but I still have at least two more giveaways to share with you today! I have 5 copies of S is for Save the Planet: A How-to-be-Green Alphabet to give to you all! Just leave a comment on this Non-Fiction Monday posting by Thursday night at midnight, mountain time, to to enter.

Blog about the giveaway, tweet about it, Facebook about it, and get extra entries. Just make sure to leave a new comment for each extra entry :)

Now, S is for Save the Planet is another is the fantastic Alphabet series put out by Sleeping Bear Press. I've reviewed many of these books and love them educational and great for a whole range of age levels. This particular title in the series is written by Brad Herzog and illustrated (beautifully) by Linda Holt Aryiss.

Each letter is dedicated to a different manner in which children can participate in saving our planet. From switching light bulbs, not using helium balloons, and learning about insulation, to buying local food, recycling newspapers, and planting trees, the book really covers a lot of bases when it comes to easy green living for kids. Each page represents a letter, with a simple rhyme about saving the planet for little ones and awesome info in the sidebar for the older kids.

All Sleeping Bear titles are fantastic in this way. They include valuable information for both young children and older kids and cover such a huge range information in such a small book. The illustrations are fabulous and I would definitely recommend all libraries getting a copy of this one.

Leave a comment to enter!

To learn more about this title, or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

S is for Saving the Planet: A How-to-be-Green Alphabet
Brad Herzog
40 pages
Sleeping Bear Press
February 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

On Tour with Larry Osborne: Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe

People don’t set out to build their faith upon myths and spiritual urban legends. But somehow such falsehoods keep showing up in the way that many Christians think about life and God. These goofy ideas and beliefs are assumed by millions to be rock-solid truth . . . until life proves they’re not. The sad result is often a spiritual disaster—confusion, feelings of betrayal, a distrust of Scripture, loss of faith, anger toward both the church and God.

But it doesn’t have to be so. In this delightfully personal and practical book, respected Bible teacher Larry Osborne confronts ten widely held beliefs that are both dumb and dangerous. Beliefs like these:

• Faith can fix anything

• Christians shouldn’t judge

• Forgiving means forgetting

• Everything happens for a reason

• A godly home guarantees good kids

…and more.

An enjoyable read overall, short and to the point. A bit overly preachy at times, but a good message.

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe
Larry Osborne
224 pages
Adult non-fiction
Multnomah Books
April 2009

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Another place to WIN...

So as you know, I'm giving away Anna Alter's What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe, here.... but I have well over 30 of you entered at this point and only 3 copies. You can also enter over at Katie's Literature Lounge, she's giving away three copies as well!! Head on over to her post and put your name in the pot for the book too. Double your chance of winning!

A couple of fun books

It's already been a week since the read-a-thon and I haven't reviewed half the books I actually completed. Sigh. I'm never caught up with reviews, though I really, really do try!

As depressed as I am about the lack of reviews I seem to get written lately (maybe I'm just reading too fast), I have a couple of funny reviews for you all and it will help knock a couple off my read-a-thon review list. Both a funny and great for reluctant readers. Enjoy!

Kate Klise is such a wonderful author in so many ways. She and illustrator M. Sarah Klise worked on the "Regarding the..." series together, among a bunch of other things, which every kid at our library seems to love and I just got started on Deliver Us From Normal, which I have heard such rave reviews about but haven't yet read. Dying to Meet You is the first in the new series by both author and illustrator, called "43 Old Cemetery Road" and is in the signature style of letters/postcards/etc.

Disregarding all warnings, a grumpy old author moves into an abandoned (kinda) mansion, renting until he can complete the promised book his agent insists he has to write. Once he gets there, he discovers a young boy comes with the house, the author now his guardian, and the boy speaks of a ghost that "haunts" the home, running out every other potential renter the place has seen in years.

Through letters and drawings, the reader gets to know the author, Ignatiaus B. Grumply, Seymour, Seymour's cat, Shadow, and the ghost of Olive. The results of the group of residents are often hilarious, sometimes sweet, and the illustrations are fantastic. Simple!

I can see fans of "Spiderwick" picking this up, though it's a bit more on the funny side than the suspensful side. Definitely a recommendation for any reluctant readers, as it's both fun and fast. Very enjoyable!

43 Old Cemetery Road: Dying to Meet You
Kate Klise
160 pages
Middle grade fiction
April 2009

Though still in the middle grade realm, we're moving a bit higher in grade level as we come to the very cute, Freaky Monday, written by Mary Rodgers and Heather Hach. A follow-up to the ever-so-popular Freaky Friday, this title brings back the original author, with a fun new character and quirky plot

This time, it's not mother and daughter switching places, but rather teacher and student. Hadley is typically a great student, but she is always super-stressed and doesn't ever get to have fun like her older sister. Her English teacher, Ms. Pitt is one of those really cool teachers that thinks everyone should be on a first name basis and isn't much for structure.

Hadley and Ms. Pitt pretty much mix as well as oil and water, until they ultimately switch places...Hadley is looking through Ms. Pitt's eyes and Ms. Pitt is looking through Hadley's! The results are, of course, funny and fans of Freaky Friday won't be disappointed. Boy trouble, parent trouble, work trouble, homework trouble, it's all here and it's all handled in quite the unique way.

Though Freaky Friday is fabulous and probably can't be topped, Freaky Monday certainly makes a good effort. Middle grade girls will enjoy this and it's written in a face paced and fun manner for those reluctant to read for fun.

Freaky Monday
Mary Rodgers and Heather Hach
192 pages
Middle grade fiction
May 2009

To learn more about either of these titles, or to purchase, click on the book covers above to link to Amazon.

Winner, winner!!ll

The winner of Recycle This Book and the Nellie's Dryer Balls is......

D.A. Tyo!!

Congrats!! pulled your number! Just email me with your mailing info ASAP and I'll get the package out to you in the mail!

Thanks to everyone for entering and don't forget, I have this "green living" giveaway going on now and another starting Monday!

Picture Book Saturday: It's Earth Week!!

We're finishing up Earth Week here and how very appropriate, but to include some earth-concious picture books for this week's Picture Book Saturday. Enjoy!

Oh how I love Curious George books. I am, of course, very partial to the original titles written and illustrated by Margret and H.A. Rey, but they ones written recently are all still pretty great. I just like the annoying monkey.

Curious George Plants a Tree is written by Monica Perez and illustrated in the style of H.A. Rey by Anna Grossnickle Hines. We get all of our usual mischief out of George, as he learns how to be "green" through recycling and proceeds to walk along his street, collecting his neighbors belongings to bring to the recycling drive. Items such as the recently delivered newpapers sitting on lawns, a box of important files that hadn't quite made their way into the moving truck, and paper cups from a lemonade stand all made their way into George's wagon, until he had a crowd of angry people following him to the recycling drive.

The last page of the book has 20 tips for living green that families can perform together and the book itself is printed on mixed resources, meaning from well-managed forests, controlled sources, and recycled wood or fiber. Awesome huh?

A great choice for any Curious George collection or green living collection!

Curious George Plants a Tree
H.A. Rey (Monica Perez)
32 pages
Picture book
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
March 2009

A Tree for Emmy, written by Mary Ann Rodman and illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss, is another sweet story about loving the environment, though in a bit subtler manner than Curious George. We meet Emmy, a little girl with a huge imagination that just loves playing under and on her grandmother's mimosa tree. When it comes time for Emmy's birthday, she can think of nothing more she wants as a gift than her very own mimosa tree! Her parents eagerly agree and set off for the greenhouse to buy one.

Unfortunately, the family learns that mimosa trees only grow wild and are not sold in stores, leaving Emmy incredibly disappointed. Luckily, Gramma comes up with a pretty great solution!

The idea of truly loving nature really comes across in this title. I loved when Emmy mentioned how pretty wild clovers and dandelions were and that she wasn't interested in anything that didn't grow wild. Very sweet! The illustrations were great too!

A Tree for Emmy
Mary Ann Rodman
32 pages
Picture Book
Peachtree Publishing
March 2009

Big Earth, Little Me, writen by Thom Wiley and illustrated by Kate Endle has quickly become one of my favorites to share with little kids. It is a wonderful resource for beginning to teach little ones about helping to save the earth, without getting too complex on the subject, and combining fun aspects like lift-the-flaps, to keep things interesting.

The reader gets a tip on each page as to how he or she can help with certain eco-friendly jobs, such as "I can turn off the water" and "I can use both sides of the paper." There is also a sturdy lift-the-flap on almost every page, engaging even the youngest of readers. Simple concepts make a wonderful, fun book that is SO important in today's world.

The book is beautifully illustrated with bright, bold colors, and everything is printed with soy ink, making it very earth friendly. Though only available in paperback, the pages are sturdy and not easy to rip. The lift-the-flaps will hold up well.

I loved this one and highly recommend it as a purchase for ALL families with little children. It's only around 6 dollars, so a great investment on a great subject!

Big Earth, Little Me
Thom Wiley
16 pages
Picture book
Cartwheel books
April 2009

Finally, one that is not necessarily about doing eco-friendly tasks, but rather just using a garden to help teach children their opposites.

A Garden of Opposites is written and illustrated by Nancy Davis and is presented in such a simple, yet bold and impacting manner. Each page spread has a set of opposites (in/out, slow/fast, big/little), all using items from the garden. The last page spread has a fold-out page, encouraging the reader to find more opposites.

Done in beautiful bright, bold illustrations with super-simple text, this title would be a great choice when moving slowly from board books to picture books. Made with very sturdy material, it's not quite the board book, but a nice transition to picture books.

A great choice for home or library shelves!

A Garden of Opposites
Nancy Davis
26 pages
Picture book
Schwartz & Wade Books
March 2009

To learn more about any of these titles, or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Seattle Blues

I want to go to Seattle so badly. I don't care if it rains a lot, I just know that it's beautiful and is the land of all things coffee (among many other things of course). Well, in Seattle Blues, Michael Wenberg gives us a peek into this culture-rich city during the early 1970's, while also producing a sweet coming of age story.

13 year old Maya is not happy with her mother. It's the summer of 1970, her father is missing in action in Vietnam (something Maya is firmly in denial about), and the poor girl is being shipped off to stay with a grandmother she's never met, all the way up in Seattle. Though things certainly start out rocky, Maya manages to make herself some pretty good friends and come into her own, by starting to play the trombone. Her love of music grows and grows and she is able to use this love to connect on a different level with all the new people she's met, as well as with her mother's thought process in sending her to Seattle, and with her father being missing.

The world of jazz resonates loud and clear, along with the uprising of protests and war riots, all seen through Maya's eyes. The writing is crisp and easy to read, the story enjoyable. I really loved the character of Maya's grandmother and after the first few pages found myself craving grape lollipops. :)

My one "complaint," which isn't really a complaint, more of an observation, is that I really felt the character of Maya came across as much younger than 13. The way she spoke and some of the actions she performed were more suited to a 9 or 10 year old and in that sense, I think the lower end of the middle grade spectrum would enjoy this a bit more than 13 or 14 year olds. The reading level on Amazon is listed for 9-12 year olds, so they agreed with me apparently!

I also wasn't in love with the cover, but that was a small issue. Nothing that would prevent me from picking this one up.

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Seattle Blues
Michael Wenberg
232 pages
Middle Grade fiction
WestSide Books
February 2009

Earth Week Book 4: Mission Planet Earth

Mission Planet Earth is written by Sally Ride and Tam O'Shaugnessy on one of those topics that is very close to my heart. I think that kids today really really really need to read as many books about saving our planet as possible, in order to truly understand what the future generations are facing in terms of conservation, energy use, and how we have broken our Planet Earth with our actions.

This book is a pretty basic introduction into what we as humans have done to the planet with our wastefulness, pollution, and overuse of natural resources. Parts read a bit technically, but for the most part, we get a clear overview of the issues. There are some pretty awesome (yet devastating) photographs that accompany the text and further explain the need to take some serious action when it comes to the planet.

Before seeing this book I had no idea that Sally Ride, the first woman in space, had written books! Apparently she's written a few others as well, but I was pretty impressed with this one. A very nice addition to libraries.

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Mission Planet Earth
Sally Ride and Tam O'Shaugnessy
80 pages
Roaring Brook Press (Flash Point)
March 2009

Poetry Friday: I Love Our Earth

What better book to choose during Earth Week than one telling us all the different ways in which to love our planet. A beautiful poem and fabulous photographs, along with a great message have made this book a true winner.

I Love Our Earth, written by the wonderful Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson with photographs by Dan Lipow. A very simple concept makes a huge impact in this perfect Earth Day title. Photographs of wondrous places on our planet, along with a snapshot of a child from those places accompany a poem as to why we love the Earth as we do. Some reasons are very simple (warm sunsets), some very grand (gray mountains rising).

The photography is beautiful (and what child doesn't like looking at photos of other kids?) and the text is so simple, yet puts across a great message. We should really love our Earth for everything it gives us, big or small.

A great choice for libraries!

I Love Our Earth
Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson
32 pages
Picture book
Charlesbridge Publishing
February 2006

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Summoning...almost made me pee my pants

I am a huge fan of horror movies, but they have to be good horror movies. I'm talking, "I don't to go to bed b/c I'm going to have nightmares" scary. It doesn't happen very often anymore, the movies just don't do it for me the past few years. The last two that really had me almost peeing in my pants in the theater and not wanting to walk to the bathroom in the dark once I got home were "28 Days Later" and "30 Days of Night." Which is funny...the names are so similar! The same goes for books. If it's labeled as a horror novel or something "scary" it had better scare me!

Well, this past weekend, when reading for the 24 Hour Read-a-thon, I picked up Kelley Armstrong's The Summoning. Let me tell you, I'm glad it was about 2 in the afternoon, this is not a book to read at night! Armstrong has some incredibly creepy scenes and is very descriptive with her explanations of ghosts and dead people.

Chloe Saunders has been sent to live at Lyle House after what she has been told was a schizophrenic episode. She saw the ghost of a very mutilated janitor in her school hallway...really, she did. As she gets used to living in a home for crazy kids, she tries to get to know her fellow "housemates" quickly learning that no one really seems crazy. All pretty normal kids, Chloe begins to wonder what Lyle House really is a home for and figures out that the secrets and mysteries surrounding the place are huge and deep.

Working together with several of the other teens, the ones that don't hate her of course, Chloe does some digging, learning that she is definitely not schizophrenic and neither is anyone else.

I really don't want to describe much more, as there are so many secrets on these pages I'm bound to give something away. It's a frightening novel though, definitely not one to read by yourself at night! I got very into the story, it's hard to tear yourself away...make sure you have lights on!

The sequel to The Summoning is coming out soon, which is awesome, you'll definitely want more when the last page is turned.

A definite pick for fans of the Twilight or Hunted series, Wicked Lovely, or anything ghost/zombie/vampire related. It's just plain scary!

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

The Summoning
Kelley Armstrong
416 pages
Young Adult
July 2008

Interview with Anna Alter and a Giveaway!!

What a wonderful treat I have for you today!! Anna Alter, author of the amazing, eco-friendly book for kids, What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe, has stopped by to answer some questions and share a little about this book.

Based upon the idea of reusing what we have around the house, Alter has created awesome craft projects for kids of all ages. Using old flip flops, shower curtains, berry baskets, and so many more things we can all find around our homes, our kids can create these really cool crafts that they will be able to use for a long time to come.

Read on in the interview and check down at the bottom for an awesome giveaway!

1. Hi Anna! Thanks so much for doing this interview with me! Before we start, can you choose where to have our interview and a food/drink we would be consuming? We could be eating candy canes at the North Pole, snacking on chocolates in Paris, pasta in Venice, or anything else you would like!

Hi Amanda- Thank you so much for having me on your blog! Hmm… I would love to have our interview on a sunny blue beach in Hawaii, with coconut juice to drink and chickens clattering in the bushes. But I may be more than a little influenced by the cold New England spring!

2. How did you come to be an author? Have you always written or was it just something you came upon by chance?

I have always drawn, but my writing life really evolved out of my love for telling stories with pictures. I went to art school to become an illustrator, and when I graduated soon discovered that it was much easier to get illustration work in book publishing if I also played the part of the author. I would send editors samples of my illustrations and they all asked if I had story ideas. So, slowly, I started to polish up some ideas that had been bouncing around in my head for awhile. I soon found that writing could be as much of a pleasure as painting and equally satisfying, though I will say I have always found it more challenging!

3. What kind of life do you, as an author, lead? Do you have a specific schedule for writing each day? Do you have an office where you go to write or are you just typing away on your couch? Give us a day in your life!

I am very lucky in that I get to work at home. Each day after I get up, eat breakfast, and feed my cats, I plunk down in front of the computer to check email and get a sense for what my day is going to look like. I am a chronic list maker. I think because I don’t have a nine to five job where I can check in with coworkers, I feel the need to constantly give myself little goals to achieve, and errands to check off so that I can see what I’ve accomplished. The creative process can be so amorphous and hard to nail down; I might spend hours rearranging a manuscript and feel like I’ve gotten nothing done. So for that reason I give my day structure with lists and errands and goals. And then I just hope the creative spirit moves me.

4. Your new book, What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?, is absolutely charming! How did you come up with the idea for a book on reusing household items in craft projects? Did you have any child input on the different crafts?

The idea for the book first started to form when I was a preschool teacher, doing art projects with kids. Our school didn’t have a recycling program, and it pained many of us teachers every time we saw a student scribble briefly on a piece of paper and then throw it into the trash. Such a waste! I don’t mean to say kids shouldn’t be encouraged to draw, I think making art is one of the most important things kids do. But I wanted to find a way to introduce the subject of environmental responsibility to kids that would at least make them think for a moment, before throwing things away that could be used again. Thus the idea for a recycling craft book was born. I realize I am not the first to think of this concept, but I hope I have introduced the subject in a way that will be really engaging to kids, and inspire them to develop good problem solving skills. Each spread introduces a question about reusing an object that kids could answer a number of ways, followed by the way I suggest the object find a new use.

I didn’t work with kids directly as I put together the craft activities, but I did draw heavily on my experience working with kids on art projects over the years, and a number of the activities I had taught to kids in some form.

5. Assuming you’ve created all of the projects in the book, which is your favorite? I think mine is the flip-flop stampers.

I had a lot of fun making all the projects in the book! The shoe planter was fun (I still have my little red shoe planter on the sill by my computer), and the crayons were a lot of fun too- I liked the creativity involved in layering the different colors of wax. For the holidays I made little packets of recycled crayons as gifts, there are pictures of the project on my blog here:

6. Recycling and reusing are HUGE in my household; we do it everywhere we can. Do you have any additional “green living” tips for families?

One of the most important things we do in my household is choose products with reusable, or little, if any, packaging. I think the amount of plastic and paper we throw away is just appalling, and really completely unnecessary. At a convenience store they will often offer you a bag for as little as a can of soda! It may be a little extreme, but I have been known to bring Tupperware to restaurants and keep cloth bags with me always. It is such a simple, easy thing and can make a big difference.

7. What kind of research did What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe require?

I did a lot of experimenting with different materials, and different ways to accomplish the same activities. For instance, with the tin can lantern activity, I tested out a half dozen or so different kinds of cans to see which was the easiest to puncture and held its shape when the nails were hammered in. I wanted to make sure that it was easy for families to find the materials they needed to do the project successfully. Also, safety was a concern with some of the projects. I wanted to be sure that in the places where it was dangerous for kids to do a step it was clear in the book that an adult was needed. So I did the activities repeatedly to look for places where it was best for an adult to take over.

8. Do you have any plans in the works for new books? Can you give us any hints as to what we can expect from you in the future?

My next book is called Abigail Spells, and is coming out at the end of the month. It is a story about friendship and the joys of spelling as seen through the eyes of Abigail, an enthusiastic speller who enters a spelling bee. Her best friend George is at her side throughout the story: helping her study for the bee, watching her from the audience, and (not to give away too much) cheering her up when things don’t go her way.

I’m also working on a picture book about a rabbit named Greta and her special bond with her dad. Like just about all of my books, it is about the relationship between the characters, and how they help each other to grow. This book will be out in the summer of 2010.

9. Most of my blog readers come to read reviews of books I loved, getting suggestions for their own reading lives. Do you have any favorite children’s books you can recommend to them? Ones you just love…?

Some of the classics I often pull off my shelf for inspiration are The Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown and Garth Williams, Higglety Pigglety Pop! by Maurice Sendak, and all of Beatrix Potter’s books. Some more contemporary favorites are Voyage to the Bunny Planet by Rosemary Wells, Little Bunny on the Move by Peter McCarty, Our Friendship Rules by Peggy Moss, Dee Dee Tardif and Alissa Imre Geis, and Robot Dreams by Sara Varon. Some recent novels I’ve enjoyed are Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin, and Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan.

10. One final question, just to have a bit of fun. If you could invite any three book characters to join us in our dining adventure from question one, who would they be? And why of course…

Hmm… tough choice! I would say Despereaux to tell us some stories, Curious George to get us additional coconuts, and Stillwater from Zen Shorts to help us contemplate the nature of things.
Thank you so much for allowing me to interview you Anna! I loved the book, feel it is extremely important in our world of overuse, and can’t wait to see what other wonderful books come from you.

-Anna also wanted me to let you all know that there is a really neat website devoted to this book, filled with curriculum guides, coloring pages, activity sheets, and some other cool things that can be used with this book. Go HERE to check out that website!

-She also has her own blog, just up and running that is worth taking a look at too. Go HERE to check it out!

Want to win your own copy of this fantastic, "green-living" picture book? Leave a comment on this post by Sunday night at midnight, mountain time to enter one of three copies.

Want an extra entry? Twitter the giveaway and/or blog about it. Leave a separate comment for each you do!

I have 3 winners....

Winners of my BIG GIVEAWAY, each receiving an ARC of the following books:

- Silly School Riddles
- All of Baby Nose to Toes
- Bridget Fidget
- Be Gentle With the Dog Dear
- Welcome to the Zoo
- Doggone Dogs! (LOVE this one!)
- Kitty Up!
- School Fever


Brooke @ Wee Shenanigans
Shelly B @ Write for a Reader

Email me your snail mail addresses and I'll get them to the publisher ASAP. Thanks for entering!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My tips for living green...some great things!!

As you all know, this entire month of April has been "Earth Month" here at A Patchwork of Books and that is because living a "green" life has become a huge passion of mine in the past year or so. I really feel it is our duty as inhabitants of Planet Earth, to take control of our lives and how we live them, realizing that a lot of our daily habits and practices could either be helping the Earth to flourish...or fail miserably.

Being Earth Day today, all over the world people are taking a stand against global warming, climate change, pollution, etc. and I wanted to share some of my own family ways of living a greener and more environmentally friendly lifestyle. These are just a few...and by no means are we perfect, but I do feel proud to be practicing what I so often preach.

1. Using aluminum (or reusable) water bottles
-I don't care how thirsty I am, I will NOT buy plastic water bottles from grocery or convenience stores. I constantly carry around my trusty aluminum water bottle, keeping one stashed in my car in case I forgot it at home. Something like 88% of plastic water bottles end up in landfills and I refuse to participate in that action.'s SO much more cost effective to have a reusable bottle! This is the one I use, it's pretty and functional:

2. Drinking organic and fair trade coffee
-This is one that I'm still not completely used to, but I'm determined to do it. My husband and I have a slight obsession with Dunkin Donuts coffee, especially now that we live in a place where the closest one is over 100 miles away, and had taken to buying it in the local grocery store. Well, when I learned more about the HUGE benefits of fair trade and organic farming, we switched immediately to different brands. Now...we've tried 3 different brands and I can just barely tolerate all three. Unfortunately, it seems organic coffee comes in one flavor, DARK...meaning, at least to me, bitter tasting. So, Dunkin Donuts, please come out with your own fair trade organic coffee. We miss you.

3. Reusing mailing envelopes
-Book bloggers/reviewers, I know you're just like me and you get ARCs in the mail like crazy. I get at least one delivery a day, if not more, and if I threw out every envelope, that would be hundreds upon hundreds of wasted envelopes. Instead, I save them in a little pile under my desk, where I use them to ship giveaways, gifts, or anything else in. It's also need to purchase envelopes!

4. Scrap paper
-Again, book bloggers/reviewers, this one is for you!! Ya know all those info sheets that come with each ARC? Most are just printed on the front (and I never even look at them), making for lots o' waste. I cut them in half, paper-clip them together and hang them on my fridge. Voila... recycled shopping list!

5. Organic makeup
- This is something I just recently got into, but am now SO hooked on. I use only Physicians Formula organic makeup. Made of all-natural and organic ingredients, it's great for the environment and seriously makes your skin look so healthy. It's packaged minimally and the stuff it does come in is all recycled AND recyclable. These are my two favorite products, their
tinted moisturizer (in Natural) and their blush (also in Natural).

6. All natural cleaning supplies
-I use vinegar for EVERYTHING. It's natural and an awesome cleaner. We have really hard water here in Southern New Mexico and were using all kinds of harsh chemicals just to get our dishes clean. Now, I use only Seventh Generation detergent and add a splash of vinegar at the rinse. Good for the environment, good for my dishes (and wallet!).

7. Tote bags!!!
-This tip is one I know a lot of you already participate in and if you don't, it's probably the easiest one you can start up. Use tote bags instead of paper or plastic bags for any and ALL of your shopping. I have about 10 of these, 7 stay in the car for groceries, one hold library books, and one is stuck in my person when I'm shopping for clothes or other goodies. You can find good, inexpensive ones anywhere, but my favorite are these:
These are handmade by women in India, rescued from sex trafficking organizations. The money raised goes right back to them, which is awesome!! You can buy them from the Rainforest Site, so not only are you helping these Indian women, but you also save square feet of rainforest with every purchase.These particular ones zip up into a small pouch and easily fit in your purse (this is my clothes shopping tote). They're made by women artisians in Thailand and provide jobs in small villages so the women do not have to go to Bangkok. AND it's made completely of recycled cotton. Another purchase I got from the Rainforest Site.

8. Air dry your clothes
-Even in the winter months we rarely use a dryer in our house. If it's warm outside I take advantage of the clothesline, if not I have drying racks spread across my house at any given time. It saves energy, money, and especially when dried outside, give your clothes a great smell. If I do use the dryer I do not use fabric softener sheets...I use Nellie's Dryer Balls (which I'm giving away here). They're an awesome, eco-friendly way to dry your clothes quicker and without sheets filled with harsh chemicals.

9. Grow your own food
-Unfortunately we aren't taking part in this right now, as we live on a military base where I can't just plant whatever I want. We do, however, grow our own herbs and have a fantastic organic garden planned for our new house in Virgina. Not only do you save money, but you're eating healthy and putting less nasty pesticides in your yard!

10. Buy recycled whenever possible
-It's so easy for us all to say that we will just reuse items around our house to cut down on our spending/carbon footprint...which is great. But sometimes we do have to buy things! When you can, buy recycled or organic items. You can find awesome kids clothes and toys online at a hundred different sites made of recycled/all-natural/organic material. That's goes for adult items and pet items too. Gifts, household supplies, anything. It may take more of your time, but it's worth it.

By clicking on the photos above you will link to a site you can buy the particular products at. If you purchase them at Amazon, the money I receive from Amazon Associates will be put towards a donation to Eco-Libris at the end of the month. If it links to the Rainforest Site you'll be saving feet of rainforest with every purchase!

Earth Week Book 3: Living Sunlight

Molly Bang always does a wondeful job on her books, both in authoring and illustrating and this title is no exception. Joined by author Penny Chisholm, the book Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life has been born...and beautifully so. Perfect for my Earth Week series!

Our young readers are going to love looking at the beautiful illustrations, while learning about the seemingly complex subject of photosynthesis and how necessary plants are for survival on Earth. The Sun narrates the story of how light gives us plants, plants give us oxygen, and how we need to care for those plants and the Earth in order to allow the process to continue successfully. Without those plants, we would have no oxygen to breathe.

There are four pages of more factual notes at the end of the story, to really hit the idea home. Though photosynthesis typically is deemed a "boring" topic or one reserved only for school, Living Sunlight was a delight to read and will definitely be enjoyed by kids.

Great for library shelves, an Earth Day/Arbor Day display, or for kids that just loooove nature and learning.

To learn more or to purchase click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life
Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm
40 pages
Blue Sky Press
February 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Because I Am Furniture review

Abuse is such a difficult topic to take on for both middle grade and young adult novels. There are few authors that have taken on the subject and produced a truly successful piece of work that really conveys the emotions and pain the individual suffering abuse has faced. It's either too graphic, to difficult to read emotionally, or just lacking something important to bring out that character emotion. Unfortunately, this latest book I've finished, Because I Am Furniture, has fallen into that last category.

Though author Thalia Chaltas has created a very well written book, in poetry form, the emotions and overall storyline were just not getting to me in the way I wanted them to. Anke is our narrator and her father is the abuser. He does not, however, abuse her, he takes his beatings and sexual molestation out on her siblings, and in a strange way, this makes Anke feel left out. She may not want to be beaten on, but it would be nice if she was more than just a block of wood in the house, wanting just simple attention from her dad.

When she joins the volleyball team at school, she first uses it as only an escape from her home life, but soon she gains confidence in herself and her ability to play, resulting in a growth of personal confidence as well. As she learns to stand up for herself on the volleyball court, she also stands up for her family, against the man that is ruining all of their lives.

I guess I have to use the dreaded "b" word in describing this book. It was a bit boring. Though it had a great concept and a message that anyone being abused could stand to hear, it left me disinterested, just wanting to finish the last page and be done...I didn't need more of Anke's story once the book was over and that was a let down.

Disappointing, but that happens every once in awhile to every reader I suppose!

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Because I Am Furniture
Thalia Chaltas
368 pages
Young Adult
Viking Juvenile
April 2009

I have two giveaways going on right HERE to enter to win Recycle This Book and a set of Nellie's Dryer Balls and click HERE to win a huge set of picture book ARCs from Penguin.

Earth Week Book 2: Planet Earth's Guide to the Planet

I think the Planet Earth BBC series is pretty much one of the greatest things since sliced bread. Have you seen it?? Don't you LOVE it?! Educational, yet so entertaining. When I saw that Planet Earth had this book out (as well as some others) I was thrilled and love it as well.

Written by Matthew Murrie and Steve Murrie, the text in Planet Earth, Guide to the Planet is simple enough for younger kids, but with enough facts and info for older children to use in reports or for school projects. Covering a whole bunch of different areas of our planet including rainforests, oceans, deserts, great plains, etc., each different section has great info, neat little fact boxes, and amazing photographs that Planet Earth is so well known for. Oh the photographs are SO amazing!!

This book, as well as the others that Planet Earth has put out is absolutely perfect for libraries, as well as for home shelves. Your kids will be staring at the photographs before they can even read and the readers will find tons of cool facts to recite. I really love this book and think everyone else is going to as well!

Monday, April 20, 2009

On tour with Michael Abbate for Earth Week

What a wonderful book I've stumbled across, combining faith and conserving the planet. Gardening Eden: How Creation Care Will Change Your Faith, Your Life, and Our World is written by Michael Abbate, with a foreword by Randy Alcorn.

The summary (which is much better put than I could ever write) is as follows, with my thoughts following that:

Before the snake, the apple, and the Ten Commandments, God created a garden, placed humans in it, and told them to take care of it.

“Spiritual environmentalism” did not start out as an oxymoron—it was an invitation. Yet today, many believe God’s original job description for humankind has been replaced by other worthier pursuits. So when did this simple instruction become so controversial? How does one sort through all the mixed messages? Is making the world a healthier place for the next generation really a responsibility—or even possible?

Gardening Eden is a new understanding of how the spiritual dimensions of life can find expression and renewal through caring for our incredible planet. Empowering, simple, and never polemical, Michael AbbatĂ© outlines the Bible’s clear spiritual benefits of caring for creation, exploring new motivations and inspired ideas, and revealing the power of our basic connection to all people and living things through the growing interest in spiritual environmentalism.

Green living is no longer a fad—simple lifestyle solutions are now available to everyone. Gardening Eden shows readers how this shift transforms not only our world, but their very souls as they’re drawn into deeper harmony with the Creator. This book invites them to discover the powerful spiritual satisfaction of heeding the call to save our world.

At some points I thought Gardening Eden was a tad bit dry, but overall author makes the topic extremely intriguing. He also included some great Bible verses, each of which really made me think about the underlying meanings...taken literally or figuratively, each pertains to us caring for our Earth, because in reality it isn't even ours. It's God's Earth.

"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters" (Psalm 24: 1-2)

"For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible..."(Colossians 1: 16)
"The the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east... The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it." (Genesis 2: 8, 15)
"Because of this the land mourns and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying." (Hosea 4:3)

Overall, a pretty good, interesting read. A great choice for libraries and for my celebration of Earth week!!

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon OR follow this link to Random House:

Non-Fiction Monday: Recycle This Book AND a giveaway!

It's officially "Earth Week," as Earth Day is in just a few days. That means...giveaways galore this week (and a couple to end the month next week). Keep checking back for more free stuff!

Recycle This Book: 100 Top Children's Book Authors Tell You How to Go Green, edited by Dan Gutman, is one of the best non-fiction kids books I've read in awhile (and one of the only ones I've read cover to cover). Each author gives a simple tip for families to use to help save the planet and to have fun while doing it.

As the title indicates, 100 authors came together to compile these tips, including Ann Brashares, Susan Beth Pfeffer, Daniel Pinkwater, Jack Prelutsky, Jane Yole, Eve Bunting, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jon Scieszka, Rick Riordan and tons of other very cool names. It was fun to know that I do some of the same things these super-famous authors do to save the planet and they also taught me quite a few new tips!

I've never really thought about the concept of wrapping paper in such a way...or reusing water in the manner one author swears by. This is a fantastic choice for all libraries and for any family with children. I loved it and really think you all will too!

Oh AND I'm giving away a copy! That's not all...I'm also giving away a product that I have just fallen in love with recently, wanting to give someone else a chance to help save their planet in an incredibly simple way.

Nellie's Dryer Balls are these cool little balls with nubbies all over them that you pop in the dryer with your clothes (no bad-for-the-environment fabric softener sheets needed) and they help to not only dry your clothes faster (up to 25% faster), but they soften them as a chemical fabric softener would. They reduce ironing, reduce lint & wrinkles, are completely non-toxic, able to be used with delicates, and are good for 1000 loads or two years. Amazing.

You're getting a set of those too! If you want to buy your own, I got mine from The Rainforest Site (which is an awesome site to visit anyways, one click and you save square footage in the Rainforest. It's free!). The pink ones are on sale for only $6 bucks right now AND the shipping and handling is always low.

How do you enter for the book and the dryer balls? Leave me a comment with your best "go green" tip that your family uses. Blog about it and receive an additional entry. Tweet about it, get another entry. Facebook about it, get ANOTHER entry. That's up to three entries (leave a separate comment for each). Spread the word!!

You have until Friday at midnight, Mountain time to enter! U.S. only on this one....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Three quick, after-the-Readathon mini-reviews

I have SO much reviewing to still do for this month it's not even funny. So for the ones I don't have a whole lengthy review to give, I'm just doing a short synopsis and whether or not I enjoyed it and think it's worth your time. For tonight I have two adult reads and a classic.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, is a story we all know from our childhood, mainly from watching the amazing movie. I had never picked this book (or any of the subsequent books in the series) up, but when I did for the read-a-thon I was pretty surprised...and a bit disappointed.

Though cinematic versions of books are often very different from the original plot, this one really through me for a loop. I was really surprised at how the story played out and all the changes that had to be made for the movie, to make it enjoyable to a large audience. The book was kinda boring, very hard to read in places (the text is right on top of illustrated pages), and the characters each very different from what I knew. Dorothy's slippers weren't even red, they were silver!

I was pretty disappointed in this one, as it didn't hold my attention well at all. It's a classic though, one that is much loved all over the world, so this is obviously not the opinion of many!

I read this one for the Project 100 Challenge.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 100th Anniversary Edition
L. Frank Baum
320 pages
Middle Grade
August 2001

My next read, Together: A Novel of Shared Vision was written by Tom Sullivan and Betty White. I was a tad bit disappointed when I received this one and it wasn't a memoir like I had originally thought, but I picked it up anyway, always in for a good dog story.

In it, a young, active man named Brenden takes a terrible fall while hiking down a mountain and injures his brain to the point where he is left permanently blind. He grudgingly begins working with a guide dog, one that hasn't worked out with anyone else, and they eventually become best friends, though not without lots of trials and work.

Unfortunately, this one didn't totally hold my interest either and was a tad boring in parts too. I don't think the part of the dog was written exceptionally well, so he didn't come off as the strong character he was supposed to.

That being said, if you enjoy dog stories, it would be a nice choice. And the reviews on Amazon are ALL five stars, so it very well may have just been me that wasn't totally enjoying it.

I read this one for the TBR Challenge.

Together: A Novel of Shared Vision
Tom Sullivan with Betty White
240 pages
Adult fiction
Thomas Nelson publishing
June 2008

Finally, one that I LOVED was A Single Thread by Marie Bostwick. This is the first in a series about a small quilt shop and the women that frequent it/run it. I seem to be drawn to "crafty fiction," as I've really enjoyed Jennifer Chiaverini's books, as well as Debbie Macomber's "Blossom Street" series. Something about women making things with their hands just appeals to me. Quilting, knitting, cooking, I love it all.

Basically, when Evelyn Dixon's marriage ends in Texas, she packs her bags and moves to New Bern, Connecticut, where she buys a run down old shop and starts her own quilting store. While struggling to run a failing shop and try to make friends in the process, Evelyn learns she has breast cancer, giving her yet another thing to fight for. Her new girlfriends band together to help save both Evelyn and her shop.

Though these types of novels are always predictable, they're a comforting sort of predictable. Bostwick's writing was superb and her characters believable and lovable. The sequel comes out in a couple months, which I'm now eagerly anticipating!

I read this one for the Spring Reading Thing Challenge.

A Single Thread
Marie Bostwick
288 pages
Adult fiction
November 2008

To learn more, or to purchase, click on the book covers above to link to Amazon.

Big Giveaway!

Our Earth Month celebration is continuing on with another HUGE giveaway!! I have 3, yes THREE sets of picture book ARCs to give to three lucky individuals that leave a comment on this post by Wednesday night at midnight (mountain time), courtesy of the lovely Jillian Laks over at Penguin.

Here are the titles 3 of you will be getting:

- Silly School Riddles
- All of Baby Nose to Toes
- Bridget Fidget
- Be Gentle With the Dog Dear
- Welcome to the Zoo
- Doggone Dogs! (LOVE this one!)
- Kitty Up!
- School Fever

How cool is that??? Tons of new books for you to enjoy!

These are ARCs, so they don't have a hard cover or anything, but they are wonderful and totally enjoyable stories. AND you won't have to feel guilty when you're baby chews them up!

Don't forget, enter with a comment by Wednesday night at midnight!

You can earn an extra entry by blogging about this giveaway or Twittering about it!

U.S. readers only on this one! (Canada may be added tomorrow, I sent an email off to my publishing contact and will let you know when I do...check back later to see if you're eligible)

Read-A-Thon Post 11, Final Tallies, End Event Survey, and my Charity

So I got up about an hour ago and finished up some last minutes reading. Here are my final tallies!

Title of book(s) read since last update: I read more of a book I had already been working on before yesterday, Deeper, by Roderick Gordon

Number of books read since you started: 9 completed, 1 half finished

Pages read since last update: 150

Running total of pages read since you started: 2155

Amount of time spent reading since last update: 1 hour

Running total of time spent reading since you started: (keep track of this one to be eligible for a prize!): 13 hours, 5 minutes

Mini-challenges completed: 7: Intro post, Visiting blogs, Take a Walk, Love Your Library, Mid-Event Survey, Non-Fiction Challenge, Charity

Other participants you’ve visited: since the last update, 3

Prize you’ve won: 0

I did not previously announce that I was reading for a charity, only because (as most of you know) I'm already donating to Eco-Libris at the end of this month, in honor of Earth Day. I wasn't sure it was in the budget to put another charity donation out there this soon, but after talking with Aaron, we both decided that combining this event, with another special event in our lives, the birth of our son, would be a wonderful way to celebrate two exciting things.

Last year, on May 14, I had Jacob, a 1lb 5oz beautiful little boy, that was born over 13 weeks too early. He lived out his life in a big way and went to be with the Lord on September 17th. We want to help to prevent this from happening to other families and thus began giving to the March of Dimes shortly after baby Jacob had passed away.

In honor of what would have been my little man's upcoming 1st birthday, I am donating $5.00 for each book I read today, which we will be adding to the pot for the big donation next month.

I also thought I would throw the big end-of-event survey in at the end of this post as well.

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? right around 12am (hour 16). I had to go to bed at that point.
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Deeper by Roderick Gordon (though you may want to read Tunnels, the first in the series). It is a incredibly exciting book!
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Maybe more "simple" and less time consuming mini-challenges. Though they were all very creative, I didn't do any of the ones that too more than 10 minutes (making videos, drawing comics, etc). I wanted to focus on reading.
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? the prize list is great and the cheerleaders are much needed!
5. How many books did you read? about 9 and 1/2
6. What were the names of the books you read? Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, A Single Thread by Marie Bostwick, Freaky Monday by Mary Rodgers and Heather Hach, The Summoning by Kelley Armstronf, Cashay by Margaret McMullan, Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise, Elly: My True Story of the Holocaust by Elly Berkovits Gross, Franny Parker by Hannah Roberts McKinnon, and about half of Deeper by Roderick Gordon.
7. Which book did you enjoy most? The Summoning
8. Which did you enjoy least? The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It was boring! I couldn't believe it!
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I'll definitely do this again, as a reader.

This was a lot of fun everyone! I'm going to have an "end of Read-a-thon" giveaway coming up in the next couple of hours, so check back for that!

Off to get ready for church!