Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats, by Constance Corcoran Wilson

Title: The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats

Author: Constance Corcoran Wilson

Publisher: Quad Cities Press

Date: September 13, 2014

Paperback: 24 pages

About the Book
The third book in the Christmas Cats adventure teaches us to honor life in all its forms. Love and accept all God's creatures. Some animals--(puppies and kitties come to mind)--are popular with nearly everyone. Others (spiders, lizards, bats, etc.) may not seem as worthy,  but all are small cogs in the universe. Bats serve a very useful purpose in God's grand scheme. All life should be valued. The bats of story three are just as deserving of respect and have as much right to life as any other creature on the planet.

My Take
This book happens to be just as cute as the other one I reviewed, The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats. Just like the other book, this one has a lesson that one can learn. We all have issues with certain animals and some of us take drastic measures to make sure those types of animals are not to be seen in our dwellings. For instance, like the bats in this story. The cats must go on a journey to help figure out what is making a certain sound. They find out it is a bat. Of course they don't hurt the bat and explain that it can be helpful to have them around and so we should enjoy them.

I like the fact that the author doesn't drag the story out to make a point. I know the younger a child is, they don't tend to want to sit as long and hear a story. Another good thing is that it rhymes. This is also helpful for the younger ones. It can come across more or less like a song and so they tend to enjoy it more. The bright colours in the book will also attract a lot of readers. They make the pages stand out. Lastly, but not least, there is a colouring page at the end that has the reader or child interact with the story by colouring a page and adding to the "story". Once you are done, you can email them in and see it posted on the website.

Like I stated before. This book is cute and the lesson is just as good.

About the Author
Connie graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in English and Journalism, but she began writing for her hometown (Independence, Iowa) newspaper at the age of 10 and was Editor-in-Chief of her high school newspaper. She continued her education, including a Ferner/Hearst Journalism Scholarship and a Freshman Merit Scholarship at Iowa, and then at Berkeley, WIU, NIU and the University of Chicago. Connie holds a Masters (+30) in English, Journalism and Education. Her career path led to teaching 7th and 8th grade language arts (Silvis, Illinois) and teaching writing at 6 IA/IL colleges or universities, including a class teaching film at Black Hawk Junior College. She then established the second Sylvan Learning Center in the state of Iowa and a Prometric Testing site, in conjunction with ETS of Princeton, NJ. She has taught writing and literature classes at all 6 IA/IL Quad City colleges.

Connie lives in East Moline, Illinois with husband Craig and in Chicago, Illinois, where her son, Scott and daughter-in-law Jessica and their newborn twins Elise and Ava reside. Her daughter, Stacey, a graduate of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, has been living and working in Australia since February of 2012.

This complimentary book was given to me by the author for my honest review.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bend Your Brain, by Marbles The Brain Store

Title: Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind

Author: Marbles: The Brain Store

Publisher: Three Rivers Press

Date: August 19, 2014

Paperback: 192 pages

About the Book
Want to get your frontal cortex breaking a sweat? Make your blood pump to your cerebellum? Stretch your occipital lobe to its limits?

Then you need to bend your brain! This first book from the team behind Marbles: The Brain Store, a chain devoted to building better brains, offers puzzles and brain teasers to help enhance memory, build problem-solving skills, and reduce stress.
        Since Marbles started helping people play their way to a healthier brain, they've sold, solved, and been stumped by more than their fair share of puzzles. Along the way, they've learned which puzzles tie people in knots (not in a good way) and which ones make the neurons downright giddy. With the help of their in-house team of BrainCoaches and access to cutting-edge neuroscience, they've designed these puzzles to keep your mind flexible and fit.
        Arranged in five key brain categories—visual perception, word skills, critical thinking, coordination, and memory—Bend Your Brain offers a variety of puzzles ranging from mind-warming (easy) to mind-blowing (hard!):

·  Connecting the dots? More like working your spatial-orientation skills.
·  Identifying famous smiles? Flexing your visual memory.
·  Taking a closer look at your keyboard? Coding, storing, and retrieving.
·  Word-doku? Summoning cognitive abilities like appraisal, inference, impulse control, and evaluation.
·  Word scrambles? Tapping your brain’s association areas.

Your brain is your most important muscle, so let the brain-building begin!

My Take
I am one who loves to be challenged cerebrally and I have to say this is an amazing book that does it. If you love puzzles or physical activities, then you are going to love this book.

The book starts out by telling/showing you the different parts of your brain and how if you don't use it, you can lose it. It also shows you the best way to use the puzzles for a maximum result. Before each puzzle group, you are shown what it does and how it works. The different puzzles in the book are:

Visual Perception (my favourite)
Word Skill
Critical Thinking
Coordination (loved this one as well)
Memory (hands down the funniest)

At the bottom of some of the pages you will find little brain facts that go along with what you are learning.

I really enjoyed this book and answered most of the questions on paper so that I could either do it again or have a friend try it. It could easily be the entertainment at your next party. Or possibly a way for the family to spend some time together.

So, whether you  are out to train your brain, challenge it or just want to have some fun, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of this book to add to your collection.

About the Author
MARBLES: THE BRAIN STORE is in malls across the country. They and their branded products have been featured in Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, USA Today, and Wired, as well as on the Today show and Martha Stewart Living.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, December 8, 2014

An Amish Second Christmas, by Kathleen Fuller, Beth Wiseman, Ruth Reid, and Tricia Goyer

Title: An Amish Second Christmas

Author: Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, Ruth Reid, and Tricia Goyer

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Date: October 7, 2014

Paperback: 432 pages

About the Book
“When Christmas Comes Again” by Beth Wiseman
Katherine knows the first Christmas without Elias will be hard for her and the children. But when a mysterious Englischer appears with photographs of her late husband, Katherine  begins to wonder what other blessings Christmas could have in store.

“Her Christmas Pen Pal” by Ruth Reid
Joy was expecting a wedding proposal from Henry; what she got instead was news of another woman. But when her heartfelt letter to a cousin ends up in the hands of a young cabinetmaker, an unexpected correspondence between two strangers gets interesting fast.

“A Gift for Anne Marie” by Kathleen Fuller
Anne Marie and Nathaniel have been best friends since they were kids. Now things are evolving . . . in ways everyone else predicted long ago. But when her mother suddenly decides to remarry in another state, Anne Marie’s new chapter with Nathaniel looks doomed to end before it begins.

“The Christmas Aprons” by Tricia Goyer
Vanilla crumb pie has been Esther’s mem’s calling card for decades. But when Esther finally gets her hands on the secret recipe, she discovers that vanilla crumb pie is more than just dessert . . . it’s bachelor bait.

My Take
I love Amish stories. And what better book to read during the holiday season than, An Amish Second Christmas. This book contains four different novellas from four different authors. The great thing about this is that they all have their own style of writing, so it is like four books in one. I actually own books by Kathleen Fuller and Beth Wiseman, so I knew what their stories were going to be like. The other two authors, Ruth Reid and Tricia Goyer, I had never heard of and wasn't sure what to expect. For me, Ruth Reid and Kathleen Fuller had the best stories. Ruth Reid has me feeling like I was the main character going through the story with everyone else. I think I have found a new Amish author to follow.

At the end of each story there is a small discussion section. It will help you go even deeper into the story and perfect for group discussions. There is also a glossary section at the beginning of each story to help out with the words you might not understand that are in Pennsylvania Dutch. You will also find a recipes from each story that you can make. I love this, because it can make you feel a part of their community.

So, if you love to read Amish books or want to see how different writers interpret their versions of the Amish, this is the perfect book for you.

About the Authors
Beth Wiseman
Award-winning, bestselling author Beth Wiseman is best known for her Amish novels, but she has also written several successful contemporary novels, set primarily in her beloved Texas, including Need You Now and The House that Love Built. Both have received glowing reviews. Beth's The Promise is inspired by a true story. Website: www.bethwiseman.com Twitter: @bethwiseman Facebook: Fans-of-Beth-Wiseman

Kathleen Fuller
Kathleen Fuller is the author of several bestselling novels, including A Man of His Word and Treasuring Emma, as well as a middle-grade Amish series, The Mysteries of Middlefield. Website: www.kathleenfuller.com Twitter: @TheKatJam Facebook: Author Kathleen Fuller

Ruth Reid
Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA best-selling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She's a full-time pharmacist who resides in Florida with her husband and three children. Facebook: Author-Ruth-Reid Twitter: @authorruthreid

Tricia Goyer
USA Today best-selling author Tricia Goyer is the author of 35 books, including the three-book Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series. She has written over 500 articles for national publications and blogs for high traffic sites like TheBetterMom.com and MomLifeToday.com. Tricia and her husband John live in Little Rock, Arkansas where John works for FamilyLife. They have six children. Twitter: @triciagoyer Facebook: authortriciagoyer

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats, by Constance Corcoran Wilson

Title: The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats

Author: Constance Corcoran Wilson

Publisher: Quad City Press

Date: October 22, 2013

Paperback: 32 pages

About the Book
The second book in the Christmas Cats adventure, the lesson to be learned is: In life, always keep an open mind. Don't accept stereotypes as true or let the unfounded opinions of others prevent you from finding out the truth for yourself. We all need to act without prejudice and learn to accept each other as individuals.

The Christmas Cats learn that rats, too, should be judged as individuals. Another message: all of us should try to help others.

My Take
When my daughter first saw this book, she wanted to read it. I will admit, the cover art really drew us in. It has bright colors and rats in a tub looking like they are having fun. Obviously, this was going to be a good book. Inside the book the artwork is just the same. It is very colorful and whimsical. The artist has "cartoon" life mixed with some everyday life. I like this because it helps kids identify with the story better. Not only do they see it as a cartoon, but they seem some reality in it.

The writing style Mrs. Wilson decided to take, is rhyming. This I think helps kids enjoy the story because they get a rhythm going with the story and it is easy to read the book. The words are printed in a larger format than you would see most stories and they alternate between red and green. Of course it would, it's a Christmas book!

Like I stated before, my daughter liked this book. I also liked it too. I think it is one that should be included on children bookshelves. Especially around Christmas time.

About the Author
Connie graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in English and Journalism, but she began writing for her hometown (Independence, Iowa) newspaper at the age of 10 and was Editor-in-Chief of her high school newspaper. She continued her education, including a Ferner/Hearst Journalism Scholarship and a Freshman Merit Scholarship at Iowa, and then at Berkeley, WIU, NIU and the University of Chicago. Connie holds a Masters (+30) in English, Journalism and Education. Her career path led to teaching 7th and 8th grade language arts (Silvis, Illinois) and teaching writing at 6 IA/IL colleges or universities, including a class teaching film at Black Hawk Junior College. She then established the second Sylvan Learning Center in the state of Iowa and a Prometric Testing site, in conjunction with ETS of Princeton, NJ. She has taught writing and literature classes at all 6 IA/IL Quad City colleges.

Connie lives in East Moline, Illinois with husband Craig and in Chicago, Illinois, where her son, Scott and daughter-in-law Jessica and their newborn twins Elise and Ava reside. Her daughter, Stacey, a graduate of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, has been living and working in Australia since February of 2012.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mickey and the Plow Horse, by Edward Dreyfus PhD

Title: Mickey and the Plow Horse

Author: Edward A. Dreyfus, PhD

Publisher: Edward A. Dreyfus

Date: September 30, 2014

Paperback: 172 pages

About the Book
Mickey Brandfield is a 12 year old self-proclaimed nerd who spends his time alone with his iPad, his iPod, and his countless video games. His ongoing struggle with asthma renders him unable to participate in the rough and tumble activities kids his age enjoy, including sports, but that doesn't stop his parents from packing him off to camp for the summer. There he meets Jackson, a lonely and beaten down plow horse that seems to need Mickey's friendship as much as Mickey needs his. The moment Mickey touches Jackson,something magical happens: he discovers that he and the plow horse share a gift that will change their lives forever.

My Take
I was lucky enough to ascertain a copy of the book Mickey and the Plow Horse. When I first received the book, I wasn't sure how great it was going to be. Whatever doubt I had was gone the minute I started to read the book. The author had me reeled in on the very first page. Within the first chapter alone, I was wondering how it was going to turn out and pretty much didn't put the book down until I was done. Once I had finished the book, I remember turning to my daughter and telling her she had to read the book. I actually started to tell her what the book was about after a couple of pages in and she told me to stop.

The book is set up for readers of all ages. Granted it was written for the younger group. I also really like how the words are spaced on the pages. It isn't jumbled up with small print like most books. I was able to easily see the words and move right through the book. I know this is going to appeal to my daughter as well. His writing is simplistic enough so that the younger readers will not have a hard time understanding the story. His style of writing is so amazing that I was able to visualize everyone and everything around "me" in the story. A good writing will make you feel like you feel like a part  of the story and that is exactly how I felt reading this book.

The characters in this story are all enjoyable. I don't think there was a character that I hated. I do know that you will feel for Mickey and "laugh and cry" with him all the way through the book.

Like I stated before, I really enjoyed reading this story and think everyone should include it in their home or school library.

About the Author

Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus was born and raised in The Bronx in New York City, attended City College of New York, and earned his PhD. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kansas. He has been a practicing psychologist for the past fifty years in Santa Monica, California where he offers individual psychotherapy, relationship counseling, sex therapy and life coaching. He has been married to his wife Barbara for thirty years, has three grown children and five grandchildren, and a pooch named Charlie. He has published five previous books, and has written several screenplays.

This complimentary book was given to me by the author for my honest review.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Stolen, by Katariina Rosenblatt, PhD

Title: Stolen: The True Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor

Author: Katariina Rosenblatt, PhD w/ Cecil Murphey

Publisher: Revell

Date: October 7, 2014

Paperback: 240 pages

About the Book
Katariina Rosenblatt was a lonely and abused young girl, yearning to be loved, wanting attention. That made her the perfect target. On an ordinary day, she met a confident young woman-someone Kat wished she could be like-who pretended to be a friend while slowly luring her into a child trafficking ring. A cycle of false friendships, threats, drugs, and violence kept her trapped.

As Kat shares her harrowing experiences, her ultimate escape, and her passionate efforts to now free other victims, you"ll see that not only is sex trafficking happening frighteningly close to home-it's also something that can be stopped. Stolen is a warning, a celebration of survival, and a beacon of hope that will inspire you.

My Take
First off, I am very critical when I read  books. I tend to see them as more than just a story. I have a bad habit of critiquing books while I read them. It is just what I do. I love reading and do enjoy different styles, but sometimes have a harder time with some over others. This unfortunately is what happened with this book. Don't get me wrong, the story is an amazing one. For someone to come out of a situation as strong as Katariina did says a lot but, it's just her way of writing her story that I felt came across like somewhat of a mix between a book and a lecture. I also felt at times she jumped around too much. Like I said, sometimes I can be very critical, and in this case this is what happened.

I do feel as though Katariina is a very strong person. To have had a full life filled with one heartbreak after another, most people wouldn't be able to say 'I made it and I am here to stay'. But her will, strength and trust in God brought her through her tough moments and had her come out on top a true survivor.

While thinking about sex trafficking, I don't tend to think of it as happening in the United States. That is probably where a lot of us go wrong. We tend to think it is something that happens in other countries, so our children won't necessarily become victims to it. This story let me know that it is right in our "backyard". I also learned that it is not necessarily just "street" prostitution that kids get sold into. It can be a friend, neighbour or just someone you least expect. Stolen, shows us that we need to keep an eye on our children and make sure we know who they are hanging around and what they are doing. They may feel like we are overbearing, but I would rather be a somewhat overbearing person, than to have my child be sold into sex trafficking. And like she states in the book. More so than not, people don't tend to make it out and those that do make it out, don't tend to live past their twenties.

When you reach the end of the book, there is a section on how your church can start up a ministry to help others that are in need of help.

I think this is a book that most parents should read. Especially those who have the quieter type of children (which she mentions as prime targets).

About the Author

Katariina Rosenblatt, LLM, PhD, is living proof of the promise she heard long ago at a Billy Graham crusade that God would never forsake her. Katariina has PhD in conflict analysis and resolution and a LLM graduate law degree in intercultural human rights, and she works closely with law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and Homeland Security to eliminate human slavery. She also founded Stolen Ones - There Is H.O.P.E. For Me, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to freeing other victims of human trafficking. For more information, visit www.StolenOnes.com. She lives in Florida.

Cecil Murphey has written or coauthored more than 130 books, including the bestselling 90 Minutes in Heaven with Don Piper and the autobiography of Franklin Graham, Rebel with a Cause. He was a collaborator on the bestseller Gifted Hands with Dr. Ben Carson. Cecil resides in Georgia.

This complimentary book was given to me by Revell for my honest review.

Friday, November 21, 2014

YogaLean:Poses and Recipes to Promote Weight Loss and Vitality - for Life!, by Beth Shaw

Title: YogaLean: Poses and Recipes to Promote Weight Loss and Vitality - for Life!

Author: Beth Shaw

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Date: September 9, 2014

Paperback: 352 pages

About the Book
Forget diets and guilt and judgments! Achieve your optimal weight by developing what internationally recognized yoga and fitness expert Beth Shaw calls Lean Consciousness. The ultimate path to weight loss, weight management, and whole-life wellness, Lean Consciousness grows out of filling your mind with good intentions, fueling your body with good food, and then moving your body intentionally. Combining the latest nutrition and exercise science with yogic wisdom and principles, YogaLean offers an easy-to-follow and inspiring holistic lifestyle program.

My Take
I was given the opportunity to review an amazing life changing book, YogaLean. This book is chock full of information on how to take your life and change it for the best. Yes, there are a ton of diet and exercise programs out there, but this one shows you how to mentally and physically change your lifestyle.

The book has two parts: The Power of Lean and Gaining Lean Consciousness. The first part of the book gives you all the background of yoga and the different parts. It shows you how to mentally achieve what you are trying to do. The "learning" section. The second part is the physical part. It shows you different yoga positions (which comes with amazing step by step photos, descriptions and the benefit of doing the pose), meditation, cardio and weight training, and most importantly, how to eat lean.

The section on eating lean is amazing. She breaks down what are considered good foods, how to eat them, store them and amazing recipes to try. I tried two of the soups right away and was not disappointed. I tried Beth's Immunity Soup (recipes for immunity). It was really good. I am going to try to eat this at least once a week. I also tried the Spicy Tomato Soup (metabolism recipes). Another home run. My daughter even liked this one.

Another part of the book that a lot of people will find very helpful, is The YogaLean One-Week Jumpstart. Here she maps out one week of what to eat, how to exercise, and how to meditate.

Like I stated before, this is a really amazing book and anyone who reads it, will learn from it. If you like yoga or want to physically and mentally get better, then this book is for you.

About The Author

Beth Shaw is the president and founder of the world-renowned YogaFit training systems and the author of Beth Shaw's YogaFit. She and her company have been featured in O: The Oprah Magazine, Time, More, Entrepreneur, Yoga Journal, Glamour, Self, and USA Today, as well as CNN, NBC, CBS, Showtime, and E! Entertainment Television. She lives in Beverly Hills, California.

This complimentary book was given to me for my honest review.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Christmas at Rose Hill Farm: An Amish Love Story, by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Title: Christmas at Rose Hill Farm: An Amish Love Story

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher: Revell

Date: September 5, 2014

Paperback: 240 pages

About the Book
Billy Lapp is far away from his Amish roots working as a rose rustler for Penn State and wants nothing to do with Stoney Ridge. And that suits Bess Riehl just fine. Why should she think twice about a man who left without a word of explanation? It's time she moved on with her life, and that meant saying yes when Billy's cousin Amos proposed--for the third time--and beginning to plan for her Christmas wedding.

When a "lost" rose is discovered in a forgotten corner of the greenhouse at Rose Hill Farm, Billy is sent to track down its origins. His plan is to get in, identify the rose, and get out. The only catch is that he's having a hard time narrowing down the identity of the lost rose--and he can't get Bess Riehl out of his mind.

As the history of the lost rose is pieced together, it reminds Bess and Billy--and Amos too--that Christmas truly is the season of miracles.

My Take
Let me start off first by saying, I wasn't to excited while reading this book. I thought it was going to have a different feel to it, being that it is an Amish book and set around Christmas time. I love Amish books and read them all the time. I just felt like this one didn't have that same feel. It seemed to be just another story with an Amish "surrounding".

The book has a very easy read to it. Maybe a little too easy. This might have been why I felt like it was just a "story". I wasn't able to submerge myself into the story like I usually do when reading books. The images of the characters didn't pop out for me. I couldn't really visualize anything, sadly not even the roses.

I don't want to make it sound like she is a bad writer. It is just not the type of Amish story that I am use to.

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County Secrets series, the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of an Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner for The Search, a Carol Award finalist for The Choice, and a Christy Award finalist for The Waiting. She is also a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California.

This complimentary advance copy was given to me by Revell for my honest review.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Secret of a Thousand Beauties, by Mingmei Yip

Title: Secret of a Thousand Beauties

Author: Mingmei Yip

Publisher: Kensington

Date: November 25, 2014

Paperback: 320 pages

About The Book
Spring Swallow was promised in marriage while still in her mother's belly. When the groom dies before a wedding can take place, seventeen-year-old Spring Swallow flees rather than become a ghost bride. In the city of Soochow, she joins a community of renowned embroiderers. The women work for Aunty Peony, whose exquisite stitching once earned her the Emperor's love. But when Aunty Peony agrees to replicate a famous painting, betrayal and jealousy emerge withing the group.

Spring Swallow become entangled in each woman's story of heartbreak, even while she embarks on a dangerous affair with a young revolutionary. On a journey that leads from the remote hillsides around Soochow to cosmopolitan Peking, Spring Swallow draws on the strength to forge a life that is truly her own.

My Take
I can sum this up by saying this book was an amazingly heart wrenching read that had me not wanting to put the book down until I was done.

I loved this story. The writer is very good at what she does. I have never read any of her books before, but she has a new reader. I really enjoy books where authors take you on a journey to the past and mix some history amongst their story, and that is what Secret of a Thousand Beauties is like. You get to learn about some of the traditions that the Chinese women had to go through, whether they are bad or good. You also get to learn about the whole artistry of embroidery, which I also did not know about.

I actually felt like I was right there with Spring Swallow, watching her go through everything that she encountered. I could envision all the surrounding areas, different outfits, people and every emotion that they each experienced. I truly felt for Spring Swallow. She was a very strong person who wouldn't give up on life even though it dealt her one challenge after another. She did whatever it took to survive and tried her best to help others along the way.

Not wanting to give too much away about the story, I feel like everyone should read this book. You will not regret it. I can guarantee it.

About the Author

 Mingmei Yip was born in China and received her PhD from the University of Paris, Sorbonne. The author of the critically acclaimed Peach Blossom Pavilion, she has written for major Hong Kong newspapers and has appeared on many national and internations television and radio programs. She lives with her husband in New York City. Visit her at www.mingmeiyip.com.

This complimentary advanced copy was given to me for my honest review.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

If You Were Me and Lived in...Turkey/Norway, by Carole P. Roman

Title: If You Were Me and Lived in...Turkey

Series: A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World

Author: Carole P. Roman

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Date: November 29, 2013

Paperback: 26 pages

My Take
I am doing something new today. I am reviewing two books at once, seeing how they are from the same series. As I have stated in past posts, I love these books. They are very helpful when trying to learn about new cultures. They are filled with a lot of information. I know for a fact that every time my daughter reads one of these books, she actually learns something new. 

Just like the other books in the series, If You Were Me and Lived in..., they start out showing you where the country is located along with the capital of that particular country. We are then given an interesting fact about the capital/country. For instance, Oslo (the capital of Norway) has 343 lakes and two rivers and Istanbul (a city in Turkey) is the second largest city in the world. As the journey continues, we learn about the different foods that are eaten, names children might have, money that one would use, and much more. The part that really excited my daughter is learning about holidays and traditions that take place in other countries. At the end of the book there is a list of pronunciations.

Title: If You Were Me and Lived in...Norway

Series: A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World

Author: Carole P. Roman

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Date: September 12, 2013

Paperback: 30 pages

The art work is just as amazing. Bright vivid colors along with cartoon like drawings help draw children in and keep them interested in the book.

Like I have stated before, I really like this series and think that everyone would benefit from having them in their homes. It would be even better if you would go out and purchase your child's school a couple of them so that they can learn about the different cultures around the world.

About The Author

Award-winning author Carole P. Roman has added Turkey and Norway to her delightful series, If You Were Me and Lived in... A former social studies teacher, she loved helping children understand and connecting them to different cultures around the world. Roman's first book, Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life, received The Star of Remarkable Merit and was named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012.

I received these complimentary books in return for my honest review.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Charlie and Felicity Go Wild, by David Driscoll

Title: Charlie and Felicity Go Wild

Author: David Driscoll

Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing

Date: January 8, 2014

Paperback: 56 pages

About the Book
Charlie and Felicity Go Wild is the imaginative children's story about two fishcakes who meet on the river. Charlie is a male fishcake who wants to meet a female fishchake.

After Charlie meets Felicity, everything goes wild! First they take an exciting canoe ride down the river, where they have a dangerous encounter with a crocodile. Charlie takes on some elephants to rescue Felicity and just then, hippos pop up and say hello.

A slippery snake sticks his nose into things, Charlie loses so much weight, his swimming trunks fall down! Felicity has fun bouncing on giant mushrooms and Charlie falls asleep in the boat.

My Take
Do you want to go on an adventure? Why not read the book Charlie and Felicity Go Wild, by David Driscoll. You will meet two lovely fishcakes that meet up and go on a wild adventure. As you read this story to your child, they will get to learn about the different animals that can be encountered on a boat ride. For instance, they encounter a crocodile, snake, elephant, etc. You also get to see how much fun one can have not only on the waters, but also on land when Felicity decides to pull over and see what is in the woods.

The story itself is cute. The writing style is simple enough for a young reader to be able to read to themselves. They may need help on a couple of words, but for the most part they should be able to handle it by themselves. The book isn't too long either, so the younger readers will not get overwhelmed with the length. I feel like the ratio of pictures to words is spot on. I have encountered some books where you have more of one than the other, but this book has it balanced out just right.

I love the artwork in this book. It is a form of pencil drawing, which I like because it shows how much time and effort was put into the pictures. It is very detailed and colorful.

About the Author

David Driscoll is director at Homestead PDS Ltd commercial painting contractors in Ipswich, Suffolk, England. He writes and manufactures film scripts, and supports local charities. The author has written a body of work; this is his first published book.

This complimentary book was given to me for my honest review.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Garden Safari: Vegetable Soup, by Eluka Moore, Larry Puzniak and Marianne Walsh

Title: Garden Safari: Vegetable Soup

Series: Kitchen Club Kids

Author: Eluka Moore, Larry Puzniak and Marianne Walsh

Publisher: Bread & Butter Publishing

Date: May 6, 2014

Hardcover: 38 pages

About the Book
Explore numbers, colors and vegetables as you learn how to create a tasty soup in ten easy steps. Join the Kitchen Club Kids as they visit the garden to find fresh vegetables to eat. They search and count. They cut, dice and stir until the meal is complete. This rhymey-good-timey recipe adventure story offers basic cooking lessons and promotes healthy eating. The colorful illustrations and layered learning opportunities on each page will keep your child's interest from beginning to end. Kitchen Club Kids books are also real, hands-on cooking activities that help teach 2-6 year olds how to follow recipes. But, you don't have to be a chef to enjoy these books. Whether you're reading with your child before mealtime or before bedtime, Kitchen Club Kids books turn story time into a culinary, learning adventure. Gold Medal Winner - Mom's Choice Awards 2014 Book of the Year Award - Creative Child Awards - Creative Child Magazine

My Take
Every time I review a children's book, I seem to think that I am not going to find one to top it. I have to say, this one is at the top of my list right now. What an awesome idea for a book. Not only do your children get to hear a lovely story, but they also get to learn how to count (the ingredients are numbered in the book), learn their colors (each color "word" is in its particular color) and cook soup in the process. Now, this book is for children 2 - 6 years old, but I have to say, when my daughter saw the book, she was just as excited and she is 11 years old. I believe the whole "interactive" part of it and the fact that it rhymes, is what is going to draw a lot of young readers to it. And the fact that the soup had vegetables in it, made it so much better. At the end of the book you will find the soup in an actual recipe form (I am guessing this is for the parents) with cooking directions. There is also extra ways to make it taste even better.

The illustrations in this book are amazing! I love how they have kids of different races. It will allow the children looking at the book to feel a part of it because they can see "themselves" in the book. The colors are bright and vibrant. Even though it is in "cartoon" form, every thing is pretty realistic looking.

Garden Safari: Vegetable Soup (along with End of the Rainbow: Fruit Salad) is an amazing book in the Kitchen Club Series. I definitely will be getting the first one (End of the Rainbow: Fruit Salad) and purchasing the third one (Feed Your Senses: Homemade Bread) when it comes out.

About the Author

Eluka Moore
For over twelve years I worked as a marketing professional, developing campaign strategies for a variety of well-known consumer brands. Today, Kitchen Club Kids allows me to bridge my professional experience with my love for cooking and education. My hope is that our books give parents a reason to start cooking with their children and experience all the wonderful learning opportunities it has to offer.

Larry Puzniak
For me, the Kitchen Club Kids storybooks are an opportunity to apply count-and-identify lessons, making the learning real … real tasty. So, don’t be surprised if a “grill creations” adventure shows up in the collection at some point.

My favorite part of this venture is that it gives me the chance to bring the best of my professional career and personal life together, utilizing my brand savvy and communications skills to create ways to “dad” smarter.

Marianne Walsh
Currently working in the advertising industry, Kitchen Club Kids has allowed me to tap into my roots in education. My first job as a kindergarten teacher and later as a child behavior therapist continue to fuel my passion for children’s books.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Lodger, by Louisa Treger

Title: The Lodger

Author: Louisa Treger

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Date: October 14, 2014

Hardcover: 272 pages

About the Book
Dorothy Richardson is existing just above the poverty line, doing secretarial work at a dentist's office and living in a seedy boardinghouse in Bloomsbury, when she is invited to spend the weekend with a childhood friend. Jane has recently married a writer who is hovering on the brink of fame. His name is H.G. Wells, or Bertie, as they call him.

Not wanting to betray Jane, yet unable to draw back, Dorothy free-falls into an affair with Bertie. Then a new boarder arrives at the house-striking Veronica Leslie-Jones and Dorothy finds herself caught between Veronica and Bertie. Amidst the personal dramas and wreckage of a militant suffragette march, Dorothy finds her voice as a writer.

My Take
This was a amazing read. I really liked the story. Every time I picked the book up to read, I felt this calming feeling as I went from one page to the next. The story takes you to another world and draws you in to the point to where you can actually visualize the people and the places they go. This to me, shows a really great author. One who truly knows how to write. Seeing how this is her first novel and realizing how great it is, I know she will have more great reads to come.

We are taken on a journey in the time of the twentieth century through the eyes of Dorothy Richardson. She is not doing all that well financially, but is able to survive. It starts of with her spending some time with an old friend and realizing that she has fallen for her husband. Even though that is something that shouldn't be touched, they decided to start to see each other. In the midst of it all, she meets up with a lady named Veronica, who winds up caring for her also. Dorothy is torn between who to care for. During that time, a life with Veronica would be looked upon as not being normal. Then again, if she stays with her friends husband, she could ruin a very important friendship. Along the way, she decides that she wants to take a stab at writing, just like her lover, who happens to be H.G. Wells. Through all of this, she experienced a major life altering crisis. Who does she choose? How does her life turn out? Does she become a writer? Of course your going to have to read the story to find out.

I can't see anyone not liking this book. It was well written and is a simple read. The story and dialogue isn't too over complicated so you can easily get in to the story and not want to put the book down.

About the Author 

Louisa Treger, a classical violinist, studied a the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher. She subsequently turned to literature, earning a Ph.D. in English at University College London, where she focused on early-twentieth-century women's writing and was awarded the West Scholarship and the Rosa Morison Scholarship "for distinguished work in the study of English Language and Literature." The Lodger is her first novel.

I was given this complimentary book by Kathleen Zrelak for my honest review.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis, by Carole P. Roman

Title: Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis

Series: A Captain No Beard Story

Author: Carole P. Roman

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Plateform

Date: September 23, 2014

Paperback: 42 pages

About the Book
Captain No Beard's a brave pirate, with a loyal and hearty crew. Usually Hallie, Cayla and the rest of The Flying Dragon's crew are ready for any adventure, but as the captain sails ever-northward, they start to worry.

It's cold on the arctic seas. Icebergs float by, and every one's timbers are shivering. More alarmingly, Captain No Beard doesn't want to tell the crew where they're going or why.

When the crew finally learns their mission, they're shocked. The captain wants to steal something beautiful. The crew of The Flying Dragon may be pirates, but they all know stealing is wrong. Can they talk Captain No Beard out of his plan before he does something very bad?

My Take
Every time I read one of the Captain No Beard stories, I think this is a really great story. Can it get any better then this? Yes, each of the stories are great, but I have to say hands down, this is one of my favorite ones. I really like this story and the message that you receive when you read it.

Winter is coming and what better time to read this story with your children. On this adventure, the captain and his crew head north, while dealing with cold weather and icebergs. While traveling, they learn about the North Star, how it is wrong to steal, and the aurora borealis. Children will not only learn new things, but there is an art project that they do at the end that you can have your children do.

Just like the other books, this one has great artwork. The cover alone made me want to read the story. When you open the book, you get that nice winter feel from the pictures. The little snowflakes, the icebergs, and the warm clothes the characters wear.

I really enjoyed this book and do think that it should be added to your shelf.

About the Author

Award winning author Carole P. Roman is a former teacher turn businesswoman. She has successfully run a family business with her husband. Her most favorite job is being grandmother to her many grandchildren. She currently lives on Long Island with her husband.

Her first book, "Captain No Beard - An imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life" has been named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 as well garnered the star of remarkable merit and was just named as one of Children's Indy Best - The Pinnacle Award of 2013. "Strangers on the High Seas" was named Readers Views Kids Award - Best Children's Book of the Year.

This complimentary book was given to me for my honest review.

Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life, by Carole P. Roman

Title: Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life

Series: Captain No Beard

Author: Carole P. Roman

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 

Date: July 3, 2012

Paperback: 40 pages

About the Book
Captain No Beard and his pirate ship The Flying Dragon set sail for a voyage of the imagination with his fearless crew of four: First Mate Hallie, Mongo the Monkey, Linus the loudmouthed lion, and Fribbet the floppy frog. Normally a young boy named Alexander, his cousin Hallie, and three stuffed animals, once they board his bed their world is transformed into a magical vessel sailing the seven seas on dangerous and exciting adventures!

My Take
This is another cute series that my daughter and I have been lucky enough to read together. The adventures they go on are amazing and you will find some sort of message in each one of them. The story is written simply enough to where your child can read the book to you or by themselves. With a little imagination and  your child jumping onto their bed, just like Alexander (Captain No Beard) and his cousin Hallie (First Mate Hallie), they can be taken on a journey along with their "stuffed" friends.

In this story, they go on a trip and the waters get rough. In order to make sure everything goes well, they have to work together to make sure everyone makes it to safety. Captain No Beard learns that being the main person in charge isn't as easy as he thought it would be.

The graphics are just as amazing as the story. They are so cute. You can really feel what the characters are going through because of the expressions on their faces. They are very detailed. The colors are very vibrant, which will keep your children wanting to read the story.

I really like this series and think that you will too. So, go out and purchase it and add it to your collection.

About the Author

Captain No Beard An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life is Carole P. Roman's first book in this series and was named to Kirkus Best 2012, received the Star of Remarkable Merit, the Pinnacle Award for 2012, and just recently The Erik Metzroth Award for Best Children's book 2013.

I received this complimentary book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Come Back Dear Sun, by Geena Bean

Title: Come Back Dear Sun

Author: Geena Bean

Illustrator: Cheri Webber

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Date: January 3, 2013

Paperback: 36 pages

About the Author

In 2003, Geena Bean graduated from Rutgers University with an English degree. For the past ten years she has been in the nanny industry, working with children and journaling her experiences with them. She has observed that the age of technology, including television, video games and computers, has often stifled the creative imaginations of children and discouraged them from going outdoors to engage in innovative free play. Her interaction with children encourages them to use imaginative play outdoors, which was the norm years ago before the age of advanced technologies.

About the Book
When the sun disappears for a long time, curious Kaylee cannot wait to have the sunshine back. her imaginative plan unfolds like only an eight-year-old can conceive, and the wonder and smiles begin. She ans her six-year-old sister, Mattie, along with their two friends, Fran and Lilly, plan an adventurous sleepover in an attempt to coax the sun into shining again. In a very imaginative way, they talk to the moon only to discover that the moon is very tired due to working overtime during the sun's absence.

Follow Kaylee and her friends on their energetic quest to learn why the sun has disappeared and where it has gone. The insightful message of this story impresses both parents an children alike in order to grow appreciation of the world around us.

My Take
I really like this book. I found it to be extremely cute. It has a really great message that gets inserted into the story. I do believe that children need to spend more time outside and not indoors. We have gone from sunshine to TV time and not enough outside time. I think that if parents read this book with their children, they can find a way to get them to go back outside and play rather than spending most of their time indoors. It can also get parents to go outside and spend time with their children. The story can bring out creativity in your children. When you see how creative the children are in the story when trying to get a hold of the moon, children can take that and use it in another way.

The graphics in this book are just as cute as the story. It is very colorful and bright and will draw any child to the book.The characters are very expressive and you really understand how they feel in the situation they are in.

This complimentary book was given to my by the author for my honest review.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

If You Were Me and Lived in...India, by Carole P. Roman

Title: If You Were Me and Lived in...India: A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World

Series: If You Were Me and Lived in...

Author: Carole P. Roman

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Date: January 30, 2014

Paperback: 28 pages

About the Book
If You Were Me and Lived in...India: A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World - the fun and exciting series that takes children around the world is back with and interesting new country and an educational look into the culture of India. Focusing on what life would be like for children if they lived in another major city or country, the series continues to show young readers the diverse world around us and the value of all different cultures. The travel channel for children in book form , this captivating adventure takes children on and exciting journey to the mesmerizing county of India!

My Take
I am a big fan of this series. Every book that my child and I read together is another learning experience about a place we have never gone. Like all the other books, it starts out with a picture of the country and where the capital is located. I really like this because not only does my child get to learn about the country, she gets to see what it would look like on a map and then it is shown what it looks like on a globe. As we take a "trip" around India, we see the sights, sounds, and cultures. We learn what your name would be if you were a boy/girl, how you say mom/dad, a famous place, games you would play, foods you would eat and a famous holiday. In the back of the book is a pronunciation guide and also some of the colors from India are used throughout the book. There is also a little building by the numbers of each page (which I just love). With the book also being in cartoon form, it makes it more interesting for children to read.

So if you already haven't, add this one to your collection. And if you don't have the collection, go out and get it. Trust me, you will not regret it.

About the Author

Award winning author Carole P. Roman is delighted to add India to her growing series. She has recently completed If You Were Me and Lived in...Portugal, Greece, and Russia; which she researched and wrote with her five year old grandson, Alexander. Her first book Captain No Beard An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life was named to Kirkus Best 2012, received the Star of Remarkable Merit, the Pinnacle Award for 2012, and Just recently The Erik Metzroth Award for Best Children's book 2013.

This complimentary book was given to me for my honest review.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Keys to Successful Living: 12 Ways to Discover God's Best for Your Life, by Derek Prince

Title: Keys to Successful Living: 12 Ways to Discover God's Best for Your Life

Author: Derek Prince

Publisher: Chosen Books

Date: September 16, 2014

Paperback: 144 pages

About the Author
Derek Prince (1915 - 2003) is the author of more than 50 books. his concise way of explaining the Bible has helped millions build a foundation of faith and walk in freedom.

About the Book
Life rarely goes the way you hope. But you can take action!

Important secrets to living a successful life are found in the 12 keys of the book of Hebrews. Bestselling author Derek Prince uncovers these keys and reveals how they will unlock God's provision and blessing for you. No matter what situations you are facing, you can step into the successful future God has planned for you.

My Take
I don't know anyone who doesn't want to live a successful life. In this day and age, people are trying even harder to live a successful life. But what may be success for one person is different for another. Success for one person can be all about money, while another person it can be growing closer to God. In the book Keys to Successful Living, it shows you how to live successfully with the help of God through through the Bible.

In this book, you will find the 12 keys broken down and explained in depth for your understanding. Some of the things you will learn about will be fear, diligence, drawing nearer to the Throne of Grace, considering one another and offer up a sacrifice. Throughout the book, you will find the key points linked with versus from the Bible to help out with explanations. In some of the chapters, you will find biblical characters like David and Abraham that have gone through certain things and how they have used one of the keys to help them live successfully.

At the end of the book, he reviews each of the 12 keys for you. This way you can quickly look at them if you need to without having to read the book all over again. He also includes a small prayer for you to pray at the end of the book. He also includes two indexes, a general index and a scripture index.

This book isn't for everyone. But for those of you who want more of a biblical understanding to the success of life, you should read it. It is small, so it can be completed within minutes and you can start transforming your life before you know it.

This complimentary book was given to me by Chosen Books for my honest review.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Deceived, by Irene Hannon

Title: Deceived (#3)

Series: Private Justice

Author: Irene Hannon

Publisher: Revell

Date: October 7, 2014

Paperback: 416 pages

About the Author
Irene Hannon is the author of more than forty-five novels, including Vanished, Trapped, and the bestselling Heroes of Quantico and Guardians of Justice series. Her books have been honored with two coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, a Carol Award, two HOLT Medallions, a Daphne du Maurier Award, two Reviewers' Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine, a Retailers' Choice Award, and a National Readers' Choice Award. In addition, she is a Christy Award finalist, and Booklist included one of her novels in its "Top 10 Inspirational Fiction" list for 2011. She lives in Missouri. Learn more at www.irenehannon.com.

About the Book
For three years, Kate Marshall has been mourning the loss of her husband and four-year-old son in a boating accident. But when she spots a familiar-looking child on a mall escalator, she's convinced it's her son. With police skeptical of her story, she turns to private investigator Connor Sullivan for help. As the former Secret Service agent digs into the case, the boating "accident" begins to look increasingly suspicious. But if Kate's son is alive, someone is intent on keeping him hidden--and may go to lethal lengths to protect a sinister secret.

My Take
As I read through this book, I noticed there were times when I did not want to put the book down. It had me on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what was going to happen next. I was really excited when key points were revealed and the story was coming together and to and end. I felt like I was on the journey with Kate as she was trying to piece the puzzle together. Trying to visualize each character and seeing there emotions unfold on the pages, was a treat in itself. If you don't think you will enjoy this book, you are wrong. Irene Hannon is an amazing writer and will keep you reading until the end.

Irene Hannon's writing style is very simplistic, so you will not have a hard time getting through the story. When I get in to books, I usually visualize everyone and everything that is going on. Not so much in this one. I kind of was able to see everything around them and maybe one or two characters, but not necessarily their faces. I don't know if I was so engrossed into the story that it just didn't seem to come up or if she just wasn't descriptive enough. But it didn't matter. I still enjoyed the story just the same.

I am not one who likes to read romance novels, as this one is listed as Romance Suspense. I felt as though she didn't overdue it to the point to where it took over the story. It was just the right amount and I actually enjoyed that part of the story too.

Deceived is book #3 in the Private Justice series. Book #1 is Vanished and book #2 is Trapped. After reading #3 ( I always tend to read things out of order), I think I am going to go back and read #1 and #2. If they are as good as this one, the deserve to be given a chance.

This complimentary book was given to me by Revell for my honest review.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Hockey Saint, by Howard Shapiro

Title: The Hockey Saint (book #2)

Series: Forever Friends Trilogy

Author: Howard Shapiro

Publisher: Animal Media Group

Date: October 14, 2014

Paperback: 150 pages

About the Author
Howard Shapiro has written four children's books. The Stereotypical Freaks, the first book in the Forever Friends Trilogy won the 2013 Best Graphic Novel also a finalist for the Young Adult Library Services Association's Great Graphic Novel for Teens Award. Hockey Player for Life has been the off and on #1 downloaded children's hockey e-book in November 2011. His first children's hockey book, Hockey Days, was the only book featured in the December 2007 Sporting News Magazine Annual Gift Guide as a Best Buy Gift for Children.

About the Book
The Hockey Saint is the highly anticipated second book in the Forever Friends Trilogy, which covers the unlikely friendship of the world's best hockey player, Jeremiah Jacobson and college sophomore, Tom Leonard. Their friendship is immediately put to the test when Tom discovers his idol is not as perfect as he appeared to be. Can Tom save Jeremiah from this checkered past and fast lifestyle?

My Take
First I must say that I am a fan of hockey, but not to the point where I can name the best and follow stats. I know, it doesn't sound like a fan, but I do love the game. Second, I love to read. What better book to pick up then The Hockey Saint. This happens to be the sequel to The Stereotypical Freaks, which I haven't read. But I guarantee you, I will be getting a copy to read. If it reads anything like The Hockey Saint, it is worth a buy.

The book is a very easy read and only has 150 pages. It goes by pretty fast because the author does a great job of telling a story that keeps you engaged. I felt as though the characters in the book could have been real people going through real situations. He made the characters very real to life and ones you feel as though you can sympathize with. You could actually feel their emotions coming off the page. At least that is how it was for me. I also felt like this story had a message to go with it. One that is not just for teens, but adults could also learn from.

In conjunction with a great story was amazing artistry. The pictures are filled with brilliant color, which really adds to the book. A great deal of thought was put into it which in turn made for a great book. I really enjoyed reading it and think that anyone who picks this book up will not be disappointed.

I received this complimentary book in exchange for my honest review.