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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Goodbye January!

 

So long January!
I'll miss you!
This is the last post from the first month of 2012!
What a month!
Decisions were made, books were read and reviewed and new friendships were cultivated.
This month I read 31 books that added up to a total of 5,458 pages!
There were some high and some low points.
But I'm pleased to say that this blog is one of the things keeping me sane and I appreciate each and every follower very much.
I never thought I would have ANY followers let alone 177.
I hope you all end January on a good note and if not, remember tomorrow is another day.
How was January for you?
How many books did you read?
What were your favourites?
TELL me about them!

P.S. I love you guys!

Kisses from Katie by Katie J. Davis and Beth Clark


Summary:
What would cause an eighteen-year-old old senior class president and homecoming queen from Nashville, Tennessee, to disobey and disappoint her parents by forgoing college, break her little brother’s heart, lose all but a handful of her friends (because the rest of them think she has gone off the deep end), and break up with the love of her life, all so she could move to Uganda, where she knew only one person but didn’t know any of the language? A passion to make a difference. Katie Davis left over Christmas break her senior year for a short mission trip to Uganda and her life was turned completely inside out. She found herself so moved, so broken by the people and the children of Uganda that she knew her calling was to return and care for them. Her story is like Mother Teresa’s in that she has given up everything—at such a young age—to care for the less fortunate of this world. Katie, a charismatic and articulate young woman, has gone on to adopt 14 children during her time in Uganda, and she completely trusts God for daily provision for her and her family, which includes children with special needs.
To further her reach into the needs of Ugandans, Katie established Amazima Ministries. The ministry matches orphaned children with sponors worldwide. Each sponsor's $300/year provides schooling, school supplies, three hot meals a day, minor medical care, and spiritual encouragement. Katie expected to have forty children in the program; she had signed up 150 by January 2008; today it sponsors over 400. Another aspect of the ministry is a feeding program created for the displaced Karamojong people—Uganda's poorest citizens. The program feeds lunch to over 1200 children Monday-Friday and sends them home with a plate for food; it also offers basic medical care, Bible study, and general health training.
Katie Davis, now 21, is more than fascinating, she's inspiring, as she has wholeheartedly answered the call to serve.
Summary taken from GoodReads.com
Length: 288 pages (Kindle copy)
Source: NetGalley ARC
Publication Date: October 4th 2011

I was first drawn to this book because I've had an obsession with Africa ever since I was a child and have always dreamed of going over there and helping so I was able to live vicariously through Katie for at least a little while.

This is the story of a remarkable young woman who is the same age as me who was brave enough to leave the comforts of her upper middle class life to volunteer her time, energy and heart to the people of Uganda.

Through all of her trials she uses her faith in God to get her through and eventually things while hard start to fall in to place and she falls in love with the kind, loving, beautiful souls of Uganda the place she now calls home as she adopts not one but 13 girls who now call her mommy. A feat that deserves tremendous applause.

I have a lot of respect for Katie. I commend her on having such a kind loving heart and giving herself to the people who really need her. She is living my dream. Her story was such an inspiration to me that it awakened a part of me that's been buried since I met Mr. Turning the Pages. Before him I used to want to teach English as a second language in Africa but slowly thoughts like that got shoved to the side as new dreams replaced the old but now I'm going to get my ESL certification so I can accomplish the old dream of working over seas. So really I have to thank Katie for reawakening that in me.

I thought the book was well written. The only part I didn't like was how the book was a little bit preachy because she mentioned God a little too much for my tastes and could have gotten her point across without being so repetitive but all in all I think she gives a unique perspective of Uganda from a fresh set of eyes and I wish her all the very best and hope she continues to have success. Maybe one day I'll meet her...perhaps I should even e-mail her and let her know how her book affected me.

I strongly advise checking this book out. It will make you think and hopefully change your perceptions of the world...and maybe even persuade you to do a little more to help those in need.


*I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my free and honest review.

★ ★ ★ ★

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Talisman Volume One: The Road of Trials by Stephen King and Peter Straub


Summary:
The spellbinding saga of The Talisman is now a stunning graphic novel, vividly illustrated by artist Tony Shasteen. Here’s a bold new look at the classic tale of treachery and betrayal that could only have sprung from the imaginations of master storytellers Stephen King and Peter Straub.

In a run-down amusement park on a desolate beach in New Hampshire, thirteen-year-old Jack Sawyer is about to learn some hard truths—about his father’s death, about why he and his mother are on the run from his sinister uncle Morgan, and about the real nature of the mysterious realm Jack once called the Daydreams. Now, with help from his newfound friend Speedy Parker, this young man will reclaim his identity as Travellin Jack and make his first foray back into the Territories to retrieve the magical Talisman, an object of immense cosmic significance. Yet even more important to Jack, the Talisman holds the key to saving his mother’s life. In the Terrorities, where monsters lurk, evil watches, and an unbelievably precious prize awaits, Jack embarks upon a desperate quest to fulfill a destiny he never sought but cannot escape.

The Talisman: The Road of Trials comprises Issues 0 through 5 of the thrilling comic book series and features original, never-before-seen material, including interviews and early sketches. Be warned: Once you’ve seen the Talisman, nothing will ever be the same.

Summary taken from GoodReads.com
Length: 160 pages (hardcover)
Source: Toronto Public Library
Publication Date:  May 4th 2010

WHY did I do this to myself?
WHY did the first graphic novel of the year have to be such a bad apple?
Now I've heard that this is a graphic novel that you don't have to have read the original novel version of first before you read this. I liked that because I'm not a fan of Stephen King at all. However even that fact could not get me to like this graphic novel.

The only positive thing that I do have to say about it is that the artwork was fabulous. It was drawn beautifully, the colours were amazing and the artist did a great job with the characters and the scenes.

I did not like how the novel was adapted. Yes I obviously know I didn't read the bovel but I've read enough graphic novels to know that this one was poorly adapted. For one everything was oddly placed it was as though who ever adapted it for this format just threw random lines on the pages and often times the lines were unimportant and made it feel as if there were big GIGANTIC plot and character holes. It was ridiculous! By the end of the book I was lost because the text was lacking so much I barely knew what was going on and it upset me. I hate not knowing what's going on but I have to face facts this book just wasn't for me and I would never recommend it to anyone in a million years I hated it so much.


The Shadowkiller by Matthew Scott Hansen

Photobucket



Summary:
Every hair on Ty's body, the skin on his neck and arms, everything was clenched in a primeval fear stimulus response. In the thick of the woods not ten yards away stood a creature, manlike, apelike . . . some sort of hairy humanoid, like a gorilla standing upright on long legs. Motionless, it stared at Ty, and Ty froze dead in his tracks.
Jesus Christ, this is Bigfoot.


BIGFOOT IS ANGRY.
When careless campers unleash a raging forest fire, they inadvertently set in motion a blood-drenched spree of revenge. Motivated by the immolation of his family, a nearly eleven-foot-tall, preternaturally strong superprimate begins stalking the mountains northeast of Seattle, hunting the "small two-legs" he blames and leaving an eerie trail of missing people . . . but little else.
As people begin vanishing from nearby forests, former software magnate Ty Greenwood risks everything to find out why. Tormented by his encounter with a Bigfoot three years earlier, Ty's past now collides with what he suspects is happening. But this time he doesn't realize that the stakes are far higher.
In his search for two missing lawyers, Snohomish County Sheriff's Detective Mac Schneider discovers a spectacularly large footprint. Is it another hoax or is there really something to fear in the woods? Despite mounting evidence, Mac fears ridicule and is reluctant to reveal that the myth might in fact be a terrifying reality. Complicating everything for him is Kris Walker, a gorgeous but ruthless television reporter bent on getting the story at any cost.
Joining the quest is an old Native American actor with a troubling secret: Ben Campbell has a mystical connection to the beast. And while Ben's link with this fearsome and intelligent being haunts his dreams and could spell his doom, it may also prove to be the only key to stopping this ferocious, inhuman killing machine. Can they end his deadly rampage before he destroys everything they hold dear?
Just when you thought it was safe to go into the woods . . . The Shadowkiller will give even the most hard-core skeptic a reason to think twice before going camping.
Summary taken from GoodReads.com
Length: 448 pages (hardcover)
Source: Toronto Public Library
Publication Date: January 2nd 2007

So here's my idea of a near perfect monster book! I mean just look at the cover it is kinda creepy isn't it? I personally give a big thumbs up to the cover designer for this book because they nailed it dead on in my opinion.

This book had a fast pace straight out of the gate that kept going right on through until the end. Yes there were times when it did slow down for a page or two but the slow parts never lasted long and the author was able to keep the book going in a linnear manner so depite the numerous "OH MY GOD THIS GUY IS GOING TO DIE" moments I never once got lost. My only pet peeve was that to me the author repeated certain things in the book to much like certain phrases but that is my only issue with this book.

I thought the characters were neat and I didn't really dislike anyone except one  of the Detectives...I think his name was Karl Carillo. He just seemed like a real A-hole who bragged about screwing around on his wife with strippers. I HATE men like that! I also hated the woman reporter Kris Walker what a b****! Karma really caught up to her and as violent as it was I couldn't help but feel a little happy that she was gone. Other than that I liked all the characters my favourite was Ben Campbell the old Native American actor who had a mental link with Bigfoot or as his people refer to his kind, the Oh-Mah. He was such a sweet old guy.

Now I may not be a Bigfoot fanatic but I do appreciate a good Bigfoot tale and that what I got in the ages of this novel. The creature was gruesome, terrifying and all the things nightmares are made of. The author did a great job of bringing this legendary creature to life and it did give me goosebumps because I was reading this book in the middle of the night. I highly recommend checking this book out if you're in for a scary monster read or if you're just a fan of Bigfoot!

★ ★ ★ ★1/2

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Neanderthal by John Darton



Summary:
Not since Jurassic Park has a novel so enthralled readers everywhere. Now, enter the world of Neanderthal...
The expedition of the century...uncovers the find of the millennium...Neanderthal.
In the remote mountains of central Asia, an eminent Harvard archeologist discovers something extraordinary. He sends a cryptic message to two colleagues. But then, he disappears.
Matt Mattison and Susan Arnot-- once lovers, now academic rivals-- are going where few humans have ever walked, looking for a relic band of creatures that have existed for over 40,000 years, that possess powers man can only imagine, and that are about to change the face of civilization forever.
Summary taken from GoodReads.com
Length: 368 pages (Hardcover)
Source: Toronto Public Library
Publication Date: June 30th 1998

Many of you know that I am an avid history buff with an affinity for the prehistoric so when I accidentally stumbled upon a link to this book I was so excited to read it I put it on hold at the library right away.

I thought the story was unique and pretty damn near perfect. It's about Matt, Susan and their mentor Kellicut who discover two lost tribes of neanderthals living in a remote part of Asia.

What I really liked about the book was all the adventure that was packed into the 368 pages. While I was reading other peoples reviews about the book on Goodreads one of the things I noticed was that people were saying it was far fetched. IT'S FICTION PEOPLE. If people can right books where there are bat like alien species and not get told that it's unrealistic how can you judge this piece of FICTION and say it is unrealistic? Is it because it upsets your delicate sensibilities? Should the fictional writing of a lost prehistoric tribe really incite such anger and disbelief when people unquestioningly read books where vampires, werewolves and a whole other assortment of creatures run rampant? I believe that that's something worth mulling over. I for one LOVED that this book was published because I have a genuine interest in the prehistoric era.

I thought the writing in this was pretty good. Yes there were a few places where it seemed to jump around sporadically but that is not uncommon in a book. It happens whether we like it or hate it it will happen. There were also some places where I found the author repeating phrases a little too much but that too is nothing to fret over. However, I do wish that there was a wee bit more to the back stories of Matt and Susan and their relationship but I get the fact that it is not a romance novel but the romantic in me still wishes there was still something more.

I found the whole premise to be intriguing. I mean telepathic neanderthals living in a remote part of Asia...what more could I ask for?! This book mixed history and science fiction together in such a way that it left me wishing that this were a true story. I can't tell you how many times I've dreamt of making such a discovery. Silly I know but sometimes the dreams we had as children are still the best dreams of all. This book let one of my dreams come to life and let me feel like I was in the story with Matt and Susan fighting to survive and rescue each other when captured by the opposing tribe of neanderthals who just happen to like to eat the brains of their enemies. Yum!

All in all it was in my opinion a near perfect book for me and I recommend it to everyone!

★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Something Cute #2



Just wanted to share a picture of two of my babies.
The hamster is Adamson, and the kitty is Stormy.
For some reason Adamson seems to really like Stormy.
A lot.
He licks her nose.
Stormy on the other hand tolerates him.
Most of the time.
As a 14 year old mouser she's surprisingly gentle with him.


Meg: Origins by Steve Alten



Summary:
Commander Jonas Taylor is tasked with piloting the US Navy's most advanced submersible, the DSV Sea Cliff, to the bottom of Challenger Deep — 36,000 feet below the surface — into what is very much an undiscovered country. What he finds there — a remnant population of luminous, prehistoric Megalodons — will change the course of the rest of his life.

In this prequel to his New York Times Bestseller, Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, Alten sets the stage for the popular suspense series to follow. Fans of Meg will find it a must for offering insight into key characters' backstories, but the novella-length work also stands alone as a bite-sized tale of deep-sea suspense.
Summary taken from GoodReads.com
Length: 74 pages (approx.)
Source: E-book purchased from Kindle
Publication Date: August 16th 2011

So now we finally know about Jonas Taylors past in this prequel to the best selling Meg series by Steve Alten...it's about bloody time! I've been reading this series since 2005 and I've been dying to know exactly what happened to him while in the Marianna Trench.

For me while this book was lacking in length, it made up for it in the simple fact that it was from the Meg series. True I didn't like it as much as the novels but I would think that that is a given because its only about 74 pages long. I do wish that the author would have elaborated on some parts of the story though because sometimes it jumped around a wee bit too much for my liking and I felt as though I were left standing at the side of the road like I had just missed the bus or something.

What I liked was how Steve Alten stayed true to his writing style and focused on different characgters from the series at different times. For me it was nice to see how Mac and Jonas met and true to form they got into some shananigans when at the end of the book they stole an army helicopter from the mental hospital on the army base they were left at. Those two should not be left unattended in any circumstance because they'll just get into all sorts of trouble.  

While the writing of this isn't superb it's still a quick read for monster enthusiasts but I recommend reading the rest of the series first before you read this one since it will make it easier to follow.

★ ★ ★

Monday, January 23, 2012

Anywhere but Here by Jenny Gardiner


Summary:
**Formerly titled "Over the Falls"**

Mary Kate Dupree has been spinning her wheels for too long. Trapped in an abusive marriage to an overbearing good ol’ boy, she finally decides break the cycle when she heads out to pick up her husband's dry cleaning and instead picks up a handsome hitchhiker. They impulsively set off on a road trip of self-discovery, peeling away layers of their dark pasts en route to Niagara Falls, but once there will they take the leap?
Summary taken from
GoodReads.com

Length: 198 pages (approx.)
Source: E-book purchased for free on Amazon
Publication Date: October 20th 2010

Every month my favourite GoodReads group does monthly buddy reads. This time I was partnered with a wonderful new friend and we decided since we both had gotten this one for free from Amazon that this should be one of the books we read together. I was really excited to start this one because last year I found one of the author's other books at my workplace and have been meaning to give her a try.

I was looking for something nice, light and easy to read with my buddy and this one had a really cute cover so I was hoping judging by the cover and the synopsis that I would love this book.

I didn't.

I mean I liked it well enough but it just fell sort of flat for me. I couldn't connect with Mary Kate or Smoothie. I did find both of them funny but I felt that they were both a little one dimensional. I felt bad for Mary Kate for how her husband Richard "The Dick" treated her I really did but to me it seemed strange that she didn't portray very much emotion through out the book which I feel kind of threw the book off balance. I thought she was strange too for picking up a hitch hiker (Smoothie) and running off with him to Niagara Falls where she plans to jump to her death just so she will have done something in her life.

Yes I get the fact that she was trapped in a loveless abusive marriage but come on the author seemed as though she were over reaching a bit trying to make this book really funny or quirky but for me it didn't work out that way.

It did have it's funny moments I mean Mary Kate when she gets nervous types weird things out with her fingers in mid air, and Smoothie's wife cheated on him with HER best FEMALE friend and then he later found out that the girl he diddled and lost his virginity to was his cousin just days after he left his wife was hysterical. However I don't think that the funny bits were enough to carry this book and I think the author should add more dimension to her characters and rely less on humour and more on her strengthening her story telling abilities. It was okay as a fluffy read but it fell wa short of my expectations. I do still plan on trying the other book I own by her out.

I do recommend this book though to people looking for a light, cheesy read with low expectations.

P.S. My Buddy rated this 4 stars so once again it depends on the person on how good a book is.

★ ★ 1/2

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Evans Above (Constable Evan Mystery #1) by Rhys Bowen



Summary:
Evan Evans, a young police constable, has traded city life for that of Llanfair - an idyllic Welsh village. Nestling in the Snowdonia mountain range, Llanfair looks to Evans like a town forgotten by time, but he quickly learns that even the bucolic countryside has its share of eccentric - and deadly - characters. Evans's new neighbours include two competitive ministers vying for the souls of their flock, one lascivious barmaid, and three other Evanses: Evans-the-Meat; Evans-the-Milk and Evans-the-Post (whose favourite hobby is to read the mail before he delivers it).

Before Evans has time to sort through the complicated relationships and rivalries of his new home, he's called to the scene of a crime as brutal and fearsome as any he encountered in the big city. Two hikers have been murdered on the trails of the local mountain, and Evans must hunt down a vicious killer - who may or may not be linked to the mysterious destruction of Mrs. Powell-Jones' prize-winning tomatoes.
Summary taken from GoodReads.com
Length: 224 pages
Source: Toronto Public Library
Publication Date: December 1st 1998


Ahh, who doesn't like visiting new places in a cozy mystery book? I love to, especially when they take me to cute little villages and hamlets like Llanfair. This was my first time reading a book by this author and though I've seen some other books written by her I wasn't too familiar with her work.

Lucky me this one was chosen as one of the 4 monthly group reads in one of my GoodReads groups. Now while I'm glad that I gave a new author a try (I've been  trying to read a lot of new to me authors for the past year or so). I found that this book was lacking in a lot.

First off there were at least a DOZEN spelling errors in the book. A DOZEN! In one case one of the supporting character's names was spelled wrong. I for one hate poor editing in books. I know they happen but honestly 12 is 10 times to many for such a short book.

Second the story was slow. I didn't like how the story jumped around so much and I wish that Evan Evans had had more of a back story but perhaps the author saved that for later books. In any case I felt that there wasn't enough of a build up and I was left wishing to know more about Evan Evans who seemed like a likable enough chap. I felt that there could have been more effort to add substance to the characters who while amusing were lacking.

What I did like about the book though was the setting. I really got a nice feel for the setting and felt like I had been transported to Llanfair. I also thought the  quirky characters like Evans-the-meat, Evans-the-milk and others lightened the mood. I also liked the murder aspect of the story, of which I didn't see ending the way it did. I also liked the little feud between the two pastor's wives.

I just thought that this book would be more exciting than it was. Yes I understand that it is a COZY mystery but it can have some excitement as well. Even though I had some major issues with this book I will be giving the next book in the series a try just to see if it gets any better but if it doesn't I think I will have to abandon this series and perhaps the author in general. I hope it does because I'd really like to have found a cozy mystery series I can read in its entirety.

I would recommend this one to fans of this author and genre.

★ ★ 1/2

Friday, January 20, 2012

I Dare to Say: African Women Share Their Stories of Hope and Survival by Hilda Twongyeirwe

 

Summary:
A young woman at last finds love, only to discover, after the death of her baby and her man, that he was married, had eight children, and died of "slim," or AIDS.
A girl hides under a blanket in her dormitory while the Lord's Resistance Army, in search of child brides, pushes an armed child soldier through the window so they can take their pick of the terrified girls.
Not long after her ritual genital mutilation, a girl on her way home from school is beaten by four men, then delivered to an old man who will be her husband, a standard marriage practice.
In I Dare to Say, African women speak out in their own words, sharing poignant tales of womanhood, revealing how they cope and survive, and confiding their dreams and hopes for themselves and their children. They tell not only of atrocities and pain but also of motherhood, marriage, love, and courage, a testament to the bond among women from all cultures.
Dramatic, sometimes heartbreaking, often inspiring, I Dare to Say vividly brings to life how political instability, ethnic rivalries, and traditional religion shape the daily life-as well as the future-of rural African girls and women.
Hilda Twongyeirwe is an author, a poet, an editor, and the recipient of the Certificate of Recognition from the National Book Trust of Uganda for her book Fina the Dancer. She is the coordinator of FEMRITE and lives in Kampala, Uganda. FEMRITE, the Uganda Women Writers' Association was founded in 1995 to empower women through writing and sisterhood, giving them a voice in a male-dominated culture.
Summary taken from GoodReads.com
Length: 319 pages
Source: NetGalley ARC
Publication Date: February 1st 2012
Let's get one thing straight. This book is not meant to be enjoyed. It is not meant to make the reader feel better. It is skillfully written but the subject matter is not by any means for the faint of heart. The book is written by Hilda Twongyeirwe who being a native of Uganda went out and about her homeland to interview women so they would have a voice and that their stories would be told.
I liked the way that the book was written because although the author interviewed the women their stories were told without being broken up into questions. Their words flowed freely. I'm glad that the author let them speak and she just recorded their stories as they told them

This book was an eye opener. It was completely and utterly heart wrenching. Honestly with each and ever different account from these special women my heart broke for them and broke with them. The horrors that these women faced and thousands of others face on a daily basis are unimaginable and unspeakable.

The women in this book lived through gang rape, spousal abuse, kidnapping, aids, FGM (Female Genital Mutilation)  and being displaced by war. The things that they bore witness to are the very things that those of us who live in the comfort of our nice big, clean homes in the western world believe that nightmares are made of. One woman told Hilda that when soldiers came to her village she saw one man grab a woman's baby and beat it to death with a mortar and pedestal. I wonder if the child's mother survived or if she died afterward at the hands of the friends of the man who took her baby from her. I hope in my heart that she lived.

That is just one of the accounts in this book but that one is the one that has stayed with me the most. It was the one who made me the angriest and scared and grateful. I was angry at what occurred, scared that it is still happening and selfishly grateful that I'm not there where all this happened.

Despite the subject matter the book resonates with hope. Something that you wouldn't really expect to find after all these women and girls have been through but it is still there. I think it remains there because that's all the people have. Hope for a better tomorrow keeps them going.

I'd like to thank the author for publishing this book and the women who told their stories. They are an inspiration to us all and a reminder that we may live in comfort and complain about the small things but there will always be someone else who has it worse off. In fact they may have it so bad where they live that the contents of this book become common place or even normal. That is the most frightening thing I think.

I  highly recommend this to everyone. It is a book that needs to be read and one that deserves attention. It may be an uncomfortable read but out of respect for the women who have suffered and continue to suffer I urge everyone to read it.

*I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my free and honest review.

★ ★ ★ ★

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Escape From Dinosaur Planet by Jody Studdard



Summary:
When Captain James Bowman’s ship, the Helix, is shot down during a routine survey mission, he and his crew make a shocking discovery. The planet they have crashed on, Antos, is teeming with dinosaurs, just like the ones that lived on Earth millions of years ago. As Captain Bowman and his crew attempt to discover the origins of the strange but wonderful creatures, they befriend Antos’s natives, a feline species called the Ondurans. Join Captain Bowman, his crew, and the Ondurans as they attempt to survive Antos’s many dangers, including hybrid velociraptors, alien pterosaurs with razor-sharp beaks, and a monstrous allosaur with teeth like knives.
Summary taken from GoodReads.com
Length: 128 pages
Source: Book I Own
Publication Date: January 8th 2010

Dinosaurs, space travel and aliens OH MY!

To me this book was like a mixture of Star Trek, Jurassic Park and Primeval. There was space travel which I thought was a little blah since I'm not one for space travel that's just a little too sci-fi for me. I mean my mother is addicted to Star Trek. I get enough of that in the middle of the afternoon when she's watching it.  But thank goodness it the author didn't get overly detailed on the space travel.

I feel like the author did actually put some thought into the story although I think it was way too short and I felt like the story was a little bit rushed in parts and it seemed as though there were some details missing. The thought behind the story was good but I had hoped that there would be more, but perhaps thats because it's written for a certain age group.

Overall I liked it and found it interesting.  I've never read anything else by the author but will probably be checking out the sequel to this book just to see if the author's writiting is a little stronger and that the story will gain more strength.  All in all I recommend it as a good book for kids 10+.


★ ★ 1/2

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Wild Book by Margarita Engle



 

Summary:
Fefa struggles with words. She has word blindness, or dyslexia, and the doctor says she will never read or write. Every time she tries, the letters jumble and spill off the page, leaping and hopping away like bullfrogs. How will she ever understand them?
But her mother has an idea. She gives Fefa a blank book filled with clean white pages. "Think of it as a garden," she says. Soon Fefa starts to sprinkle words across the pages of her wild book. She lets her words sprout like seedlings, shaky at first, then growing stronger and surer with each new day. And when her family is threatened, it is what Fefa has learned from her wild book that saves them.
In this vibrant novel in verse, award-winning poet Margarita Engle paints a glowing portrait of her grandmother as a young girl.
Summary taken from GoodReads.com
Length: 144 Pages (Hardcover)
Source: NetGalley ARC
Publication Date: March 20th 2012 by Harcourt Children's Books          

Today having a learning disabilty is more manageable in a lot of ways but in decades past there was a lot of misconceptions that people had when it came to them. Children who had them were often considered to be stupid and hopeless.

This is the story of author Margarita Engle's grandmother, Fefa. Fefa has dyslexia which was known as "word blindness" at the time she lived. The doctor who her mother had taken her to said that she would never read nor write. However Fefa's loving mother never gave up on her and encouraged her to write.

Now this isn't a biography of her grandmother it's more like a fairy tale type version of her life. I really liked the story and the way it was told and I generally hate books written in poetic verses. It's just one of my pet peeves so I was surprised that this author did a pretty good job utilizing that writing skill especially since this is a childrens book.

I think that the author told the story in a way that is appealing to young readers because it takes place in a different country, a different time and its about a young girl triumphing over her so called "learning disability". I highly recommend it to younger kids maybe 9 years old and up and I think that young girls would especially relate to Fefa's feelings of being an outsider.

*I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my free and honest review.
★ ★ ★

Soldier's Game by James Killgore


Summary:
Ross is fed up with being on the losing side, as Bruntsfield Primary football team suffer another humiliating defeat. But after football practice each week he goes to visit his grandmother, and this week she has a special present for him. Pat digs out a pair of old football boots and strip which belonged to her father, who once played for Heart of Midlothian Football Club. Ross is amazed that his great-grandfather, Jack, had played for the famous Hearts. As he finds out more about Jack, an incredible story unfolds -- a tale of Edinburgh's young heroes and a battalion of footballers and fans who fought in the First World War at the Battle of the Somme. Based on the true story of the 16th Royal Scots, otherwise known as the 'Heart of Midlothian Battalion', this moving book brings a fascinating moment of Scottish history to life. Jim Killgore interweaves the present day life of an ordinary football-mad boy with a story of young men who were sent to war. He focuses on the friendships that develop as the lads play football and learn to become soldiers together, making this remarkable story enjoyable and accessible for young people.
Summary taken from GoodReads.com
Length: 160 pages
Source: NetGalley ARC
Publication Date: July 1st 2011

As you can tell I've been reading quite a few juvenile fiction books as of late but by no means am I going to be reviewing books for this age group and nothing else.  I will be reading and review other types of books soon.

Anyways on to the review!

I thought that the book was pretty good. Considering I don't know much about soccer "football" it wasn't hard to follow the story. I thought that the idea behind it was interesting. The story revolves around Ross the 12 year old soccer player who has two left feet and the story his Grandmother Pat tells him about his great grandfather Jack who was a star player of his favourite team before he went to fight in WWI.

The story switches from Ross's point of view and that of Jack as Pat tells the story of her father growing up from being a sickly child to one that would play for a major team. For Jack things appear to be going well until the war broke out and he and his team signed up to fight. He ends up seeing some action and gets injured and never plays soccer again. I actually liked Jack's part of the book was the best part because he became the main character which at first I thought was weird because I was wondering where Ross fit in. As Ross learns more about his great-grandfather he gains more confidence on the field.

I thought that the story was well written, the characters are easy to relate to and I think that the book shows that WWI wasn't fought by old men but that it was fought by young men like Jack. Jack had what he wanted in life. He had a nice family at home with his parents and siblings, he had a job and he was an up and coming star on his soccer team but he was able to give all that up to fight for his country and was willing to die trying. I wonder if many kids out there know how bad the wars really were.

I know here in history class we focused a lot on WWI and WWII in our history classes and we studied all the countries who participated but I know that elsewhere there isn't as much focus or that the focus is only on the country that people were born in. To me this is wrong. It was a WORLD war respect should be given to all those who fought.

I would recommend this to younger reader aged 12 and up and I think boys especially would like it.


*I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my free and honest review.

★ ★ ★

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chronal Engine: A Prehistoric Time-Travel Adventure by Greg Leitich Smith & Blake Henry


Summary:
When Max, Kyle, and Emma are sent to live with their reclusive grandfather, they think he’s crazy, especially when he tells them about his time machine. But after Emma is kidnapped at the exact time that her grandfather predicted, Max and Kyle are forced to believe his eccentric stories—even the one about the Chronal Engine in the basement.
 Now, to save Emma, Max, Kyle, and their new friend Petra must pile into a VW Bug, and use the Chronal Engine to take the road trip of a lifetime—right back to the Cretaceous period. With dangers all around, the teens find themselves dodging car-crushing herbivores in addition to the terrifying T. rex. In this ancient environment, can three contemporary teens hunt down a kidnapper, forage for food, and survive long enough to return home?
Length: 192 pages
Source: Netgalley ARC
Publication Date: March 20th 2012
Summary taken from GoodReads.com

This was my first time reading a book by either of these two authors and I really liked it. Let me tell you that in my house watching the Discovery Channel, Nova, and the History Channel after school was not optional. This is both good and bad, you see now have a love of all things dinosaur and prehistoric as well sharks and nazis. It's true. By the time I was 8 I knew more about the past the any kid in my class...and though I got tired of my Dad forcing me to watch WWI and WWII shows I still have a great love for prehistoric animals and sharks. Seriously Shark Week for me is like NY Fashion Week for other girls I know. But, rather than be ashamed of this I chose to put it out there on the interwebs.

My name is Kimberly.
I am a nerd.

So of course I knew as soon as I read the description on NetGalley that I HAD to read this. I mean the kid in me would not forgive me if I were to have passed it by. I'm so glad I read this! I really wish it had been around when I was younger because I think I would have loved it.

The whole idea behind the story was awesome, I mean it had time travel AND dinosaurs. What more could I ask for?  I really think that the story is great for kids 10+. The characters were likable and I thought that it was somewhat like a kid's verison of the H.G. Wells classic book The Time Machine.
Out of all the characters I would have to say that I liked Max the most just because I know what it's like to be the youngest sibling and to be babied by my older brother and sister. I think that the authors added just the right amount of dinosaurs to the story as well as just the right amount of mystery and intrigue for younger readers.
I highly recommend this book to everyone who has a kid that loves dinosaurs and time travel and I really hope the authors write another book and will turn this into a series and will take them back in prehistory again.


*I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my free and honest review.

★ ★ ★ ★


Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick


Summary:
Orphan Hugo Cabret lives in a wall. His secret home is etched out in the crevices of a busy Paris train station. Part-time clock keeper, part-time thief, he leads a life of quiet routine until he gets involved with an eccentric, bookish young girl and an angry old man who runs a toy booth in the station. The Invention of Hugo Cabret unfolds its cryptic, magical story in a format that blends elements of picture book, novel, graphic novel, and film. Caldecott Honor-winning author-illustrator Brian Selznick has fashioned an intricate puzzle story that binds the reader like a mesmerist's spell.
Length: 533 pages (hardcover edition)
Source: Library
Publication Date: 2007
Summary taken from GoodReads.com

I know I've been a bit lax lately posting my reviews but I haven't been idle! I've already read 22 books this month so I'm doing pretty good but I will be posting my reviews faster now.

The main reason I wanted to read this book is because of the movie which I haven't seen yet but I think it looked really good so even though this was a kid's book I thought I would give it a try. I thought that this book was unique and I really enjoyed the artwork. The artwork was actually the best part of the whole book in my opinion.

I will admit that the story was different from all the magic that seems to be in kids books now and it was nice to have a break from that but, I didn't really care for the writing in this book at all. I really wanted to like this one because I read a lovely review of  it over at The Crazy Life of a Bookaholic Mom (one of my favourite blogs run by a fellow GoodReads group member).  But I didn't like it all that much. I couldn't connect to any of the characters at all and found them all really annoying. I didn't like Hugo at all. I thought he was a  little brat and he deserved to be treated as a nuisance. Yes his father dies but honestly his whole demeanor didn't sit well with me.

The only reason that I even bothered to finish it was on the hope that it would get a little better and it did slightly. I found Papa Georges part in the story to be interesting and it was one of the few things I did like apart from the artwork. Despite the idea for the plot being a good one and the artwork being so lovely I would have given this a much lower rating than I have. But, like always I encourage you to go out and try it yourselves. Just because I didn't like it, it doesn't mean that you won't and even though I thought the book was lacking a lot I would still recommend this for kids to read on their own or with someone. I think that for a children's book it could have been much worse but it could have also been much better. I do hope that whenever me and the Mister do watch this movie that I like it more than I did the book.



★ ★ 1/2

Saturday, January 14, 2012

If I Should Die Before I Wake by Lurlene McDaniel



Summary:
Deanne doesn't want to spend her summer on silly debutante activities, like hanging out at the country club and flirting with the rich boys. She'd rather spend time with the kids in the cancer wing at the local hospital. Wil Deanne's compassion lead her to love -- and heartbreak?
Summary taken from Goodreads.com

Now I know I said that I wouldn't be reading anymore books by this author but I couldn't help it. When I read it a few days ago I really needed a short book to pass the time. At 124 pages this book certainly fit the bill.

As much as I like Lurlene's earlier works this one fell very short for me. Actually I would even venture to say that this is my least favourite book of hers that I've ever read and I've read somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20+ of her works. I just couldn't connect to the characters or the setting.

The writing and the story in general seemed bery one dimensional to me and almost as though she didn't really put much thought or effort into this book which was disappointing since she's one of my favourite childhood authors.

I wish the Deanne had been more personable and I really wanted to smack her mother because she didn't want her daughter to help people in the hospital. Seriously, who wouldn't want their kids to be that compassionate?  To me Deanne although I pitied her for how her mother treated her I just couldn't like. I also didn't like Matt the boy she met in the hospital that much either but I think that it's because the story was so rushed and the author left out a lot of details which I wish she would have put it. 

Despite my feelings for this book I do think it's a great book for girls and boys aged 11+.

★ ★ ★

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Win an e-book copy of Graceling by Kristin Cashore OR Delirium by Lauren Oliver

 

*The Giveaway is taking place from January 11th 2012 to January 25th 2012.
*It is open to international entries.
*There will be 2 winners! One lucky person will win either Graceling by Kristen Cashore OR Delirium by Lauren Oliver.
*The Winners will have 24 hours to respond to my e-mail letting them know they are the winner or else the book will go to somone else.
*The e-book will be in the format of your choice (Kindle, Nook, etc.)

These are the Prizes:

Summary:
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.
Summary taken from Goodreads.com



Summary:
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone. With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.
Summary taken from Goodreads.com




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Turning The Pages




Click the button above to win an ebook copy of Graceling by Kristin Cashore or Delirium by Lauren Oliver


Monday, January 9, 2012

Timeless by Alexandra Monir


Summary:
When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.
Summary taken from Goodreads.com

So when I read this the other day it was the second time that I borrowed it from the library because the first time I borrowed it I didn't have the time to read it. This time I was able to read it. Actually I devoured it! I read it in 4 hours I liked it so much.

This was singer/songwriter Alexandra's debut book and I personally think she did a good job for her first book because though she herself is young she didn't make the book sound as though it were written by a young person. I feel that she had a very good story to tell and that she accomplished it well.

I really enjoyed Michele's character because even though she went through a personal tragedy, and her life was completely turned upside down and inside out she had an inner strength and beauty. Plus it was nice to have a character who wasn't your beautiful, glamourous diva who is self centered. I also like how she was awkward. Just like a teenager is supposed to be! FINALLY!

I also really liked Phillip because he just seems so sweet and loving, the way Alexandra Monir was able to weaver her tale was wonderful and I really like the time travelling aspect of her story as well as the fact that she was able to time travel to different points in her family's timeline. Plus she left a huge cliffhanger at the ending so I cannot wait for the next book although it looks like I have to wait until December 2012.

I really recommend this book to all the YA lovers out there because I think that this author is up and coming with a new voice in the book world.

★ ★ ★ ★


A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer



Summary:
This book chronicles the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. It is the story of Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played tortuous, unpredictable games--games that left him nearly dead. He had to learn how to play his mother's games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy, but an "it."
Dave's bed was an old army cot in the basement, and his clothes were torn and raunchy. When his mother allowed him the luxury of food, it was nothing more than spoiled scraps that even the dogs refused to eat. The outside world knew nothing of his living nightmare. He had nothing or no one to turn to, but his dreams kept him alive--dreams of someone taking care of him, loving him and calling him their son.

Summary taken from Goodreads.com

Okay this book is definetly not for the faint of heart.
Seriously, if you're easily disturbed please do not read this book.

After seeing several Goodreads friends talking about this in a group I thought that I should give it a try mostly because I needed something short to read and I wanted to get my hands on something that was a little more serious.

The book is written in such a manner as to make it sound like a 12 year old boy's voice about the terrible abuse that he suffered at the hands of his mother. I think that Dave Pelzer, the author and the victim of the atrocities did a good job writing it that way. So despite the subject matter I thought that he succeeded in this way.

Unfortunately I didn't "feel" for Dave as much as I thought I would because though the book was written to seem like its from the POV of a 12 year old I personally didn't find that there was any real emotion in his words. Now don't get me wrong  this book was well written but those are the reason I gave this bok such a low rating.

While I was reading this book all I wanted to do was go after his mother. She was a sick, and brutal *beep*  and I wish I could get my hands on her. Also what the hell was up with the rest of the people in his life? His brothers and his father LET the abuse keep happening and I blame them for letting the abuse go on for so long.

I know that back in the day when things like this were happening it was something that often did not get addressed but how could all the adults in Dave's life turn away from him in his time and need and ostrasize him. It sickened me beyond all measure.

I'm glad I read this book and I recommend it to others because it's something that should be read. This book has a message that if something seems off than it's not a bad idea to try to see if anything is happening especially when it comes to children. I think I will be continuing with the other books Dave wrote based on his ordeals but I suspect that I won't be reading them any time soon.

This book may make you cry, but I think it's supposed to get you angry.
Angry enough that you want to grab the closest child near you and hold them close to make them feel the safety that many of us took for granted as children.

★ ★ ★