Sunday, July 31, 2011

Undead and Undermined by MaryJanice Davidson

All-new in the New York Times bestselling drop-dead funny series.

Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor thought she couldn't die. So what's she doing in the morgue? It could have something to do with a time- traveling trip she made, and a foe with a wicked agenda that could finally be the real death of Betsy-if she's not careful.

My thoughts:
When I started this book my first thought was, "I think I missed some of the books in this series".  Then I read the review I wrote last summer for book 9 and I had noticed the same thing then.  I guess my memory is only good up to a certain point because I never looked into read the missing books.  Partially because I already know what the outcome will be based on where the characters are now and partially because I just forgot.

The beginning of this book states that it is book three of a trilogy within the series.  So while it is Betsy's tenth book the next book will be book eleven and also book three of the trilogy, which is such a mouthful it makes me think of her whole quandary with time travel.

Betsy and Laura return from time traveling to the past and the future to find that their travels have changed things in the current present.  They had thought since they were always in the past that maybe everything would be fine, but there are changes.  Jessica is now pregnant, Nick's name is now Dick and he was never bitten so he doesn't hate Betsy and future Mark has come back with them from the future.  Adventures ensue that involve more time travel to hell, more vehicle crashes, a morgue, some deaths, some coming back from death and shoes missing and changed.

In the beginning of the series I loved Betsy and her vain shallowness, her sarcasm and her loyalty.  Most of the time I still feel that way, but now always.  Sometimes I've had enough of the shoes and sometimes I wish she could focus a little more so the story could move a bit faster, but usually I still like her.  It is starting to seem as though each time she tries to save someone or fix something she thinks is broken she is also making a bigger mess of things and in her attempt to fix she may be creating the actual mistakes she thinks she is trying to mend.

When will Laura tell her what she knows about the Book of the Dead?  She has tried and we know from book 9.  How do events come together to bring the future she saw in 1000 years and can that be prevented?  Is it really her doing?

Product Details
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Hardcover; 1 edition (July 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425241270
ISBN-13: 978-0425241271

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (reread and second review)

Last night, or maybe I should say early this morning, I finished my reread of Mockingjay.  I still found it to have a bit of a slow start, but by the end I didn't want to put it down.  My sleepiness today is a testament to that!  Again since I knew most of the story I was looking for any details I might have missed and also trying to see the actors chosen for the roles in the movie in the parts in my mind.

How much does District 13 have to answer for?  They had to rebuild and that of course took time, but did it really take them 75 years to rebuild or could they have come to the aid of the districts sooner.  How different is life for the refugees in their new homes?  They now are guaranteed food, but punished if they try to get any extra rations, they have clean clothes but they are all identical.  They have a regimented schedule printed onto their arms every day and are all expected to pitch in to the war efforts.  The people from District 12 are grateful to be alive and to have shelter, but President Coin's methods start to seem so similar to President Snow.

Katniss is dealing with a lot, finding out about the plan that other Victors were privy to but she and Peeta were unaware of, the guilt of what happened to some of the other contestants and anger.  The part of the story that was the most compelling to me was the last third of the book, when everything is coming to a head and quick decisions have to be made.  I still find it a bit haunting.  It was hard for me to jump back into the audio book I have going in the car because part of me thought that I was still in Mockingjay and I felt almost as confused as Katniss.

I hope that the first movie is successful because I would like to see how the whole trilogy plays out on the screen.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Troublemaker Part 1 by Janet Evanovich and Alex Evanovich Art by Joelle Jones

Janet Evanovich, the New York Times #1 best-selling author of Finger Lickin' Fifteen, brings Alexandra Barnaby and Sam Hooker, from the hit Barnaby novels Metro Girl and Motor Mouth, to Dark Horse Comics with her debut graphic novel - Troublemaker!

Alex Barnaby and Sam Hooker are back together and fighting crime the only way they know how - by leaving a trail of chaos, panic, and disorder. Alex, an auto mechanic and spotter for racecar driver Sam Hooker, is drawn to trouble like a giant palmetto bug to a day-old taco. Unfortunately, she's also drawn to Hooker in the same fashion. There's no steering clear of trouble or Hooker when friends Rosa and Felicia call for help. A man has gone missing, and in order to find him Barnaby and Hooker will have to go deep into the underbelly of Miami and south Florida, surviving Petro Voodoo, explosions, gift- wrapped body parts, a deadly swamp chase, and Hooker's mom.

My thoughts:
My memory of the other Metro Girl books isn't real clear anymore.  I know I read them but can't recall more than a few details, mostly because those are the things that were reviewed in this book.  It seems like this is a continuation of the series and not just a graphic retelling of the already published books, but I'm not one hundred percent sure.

As far as graphic novels go, I thought this one was done pretty well.  The characters weren't quite how I recall picturing them, but they fit the genre in what I have seen in other books.  It was a quicker read than I was expecting, but it made it perfect for one sitting.  A character I don't recall from the earlier books was Sam's mother.  Her scenes were amusing and added to the comedy of the book.

Because of the size and the hardback cover it almost looked like a children's picture book sitting on my end table.  In my house we have a lot of picture books around.  The only difference was that it was a bit longer than most picture books.

It will be interesting to see where future books go with the story.  I borrowed this one from the library so now I have to decide if I want to wait to find the next one there or buy it.  I hate to buy books that read so quickly because my current goal is to read from my shelves to clear away some of the book clutter in my house.  Next month we'll be going to the beach for a week and I usually let myself buy one new book to take along, and then visit the used bookstore at the beach and leave with more!

•Pub. Date: July 2010

•Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
•Format: Hardcover , 112pp
•Series: Alex Barnaby Series
•ISBN-13: 9781595824882
•ISBN: 159582488X

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (reread and reviewed for the second time)


Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
My thoughts:
Yesterday I finished my reread of the second book in the Hunger Games Trilogy.  I wanted to plan my reading so that it wasn't too fresh in my memory but also not forgotten before the movie.  Since the release date isn't until March I think I'll be good.  I actually thought it was coming out in the fall for some reason until I looked up the date today.
This time through I did the same thing I did with the last book which was to look for clues about what is coming that the other characters know but Katniss does not.  Last summer when I read Mockingjay I felt like I had forgotten parts of this book, but when I was reading it most of it came back to me so I'm going to have to see in my reread of the third book if I was really missing something.
Katniss has her feelings for both Gale and Peeta all mixed up.  I have to think that if she had never been in the Hunger Games she would have eventually wound up with Gale even with her strong desire to never have children.  They have such a strong bond and understanding between them and are such good hunting partners.  I think those feelings would have grown especially considering the jealousy she feels when she thinks about him being with someone else.  At the same time I also believe she genuinely cares for Peeta.  Peeta is just a little bit too nice and understanding for me.
There were things that I thought were in this book that weren't, so now I don't know if I made them up or if they come to light in the third book.  One thing I realized when reading the first book  is that my picture of Haymitch was off.  It states that he is middle aged, but I imagined him as being in his seventies the first time through.  Then in rereading I noticed that in book one it says District 12 hasn't had a winner in over thirty years and then in this one it says that Haymitch won the last Quarter Quell which was 25 years ago.  I am sure it was just a mistake in editing, but it seemed like those two passages were highlighted and jumped out at me.  (I can be nit picky for other writers but I am sure in my own writing I make the same mistakes, just like it is easier to proof read something someone else wrote.)
The book doesn't pack the same punch the second time through as it did the first time I read it.  I still enjoyed it, but the surprises and twists really kept it going last time because each one was so unexpected and new.  I can't wait to dive into the third book since this time I am doing them in order.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ladybug Girl at the Beach by David Soman and Jackie Davis

Lulu loves the beach. Well, she's never been there before, but she knows she will love it. And then she sees the ocean and it is big and loud and rough. That's okay - Lulu wanted to build sand castles and fly her kite with Bingo anyway. But while they are building their sand castle, the sneaky ocean comes in and tries to steal Lulu's favorite pail. This is a job for Ladybug Girl!

Lulu conquers her fear of the ocean when she remembers that Ladybug Girl can do anything, in this gorgeously illustrated companion to the popular series.

My thoughts:
After seeing Ladybug Girl books in the book order all year I decided I needed to check one out for myself and we borrowed two from the library.  My two younger children loved this book!  Lulu, aka Ladybug Girl, goes through a bunch of the same fears and worries they have at the beach.  The pictures really added to the story.  Since we have a month to go until our own beach vacation it was nice to visit it in a book for now!
•Pub. Date: May 2010
•Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
•Format: Hardcover , 40pp
•Age Range: For infants or children in preschool
•Series: Ladybug Girl Series
•ISBN-13: 9780803734166
•ISBN: 0803734166

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

With the movie coming up I decided it was time to reread this book.  Last summer when I read Mockingjay I really wanted to go back and reread the other two.  Sometimes it is hard to take the time to reread a book or series knowing that there are so many other good books out there, but I keep reminding myself that reading is for fun and there is no right or wrong.  It isn't like I have to read a certain number of books, so when I start to take the fun out of reading I try to take a step back.

Knowing the outcome of this book allowed me to step back and notice other details that might not have seemed as important the first time I read the book.  It turns out I actually remembered the book better than I thought I would have considering I read it almost two years ago. 

The contrast between what the people in the Capital have and the people in the districts have is so huge.  In District 12 they only have electricity for two or three hours a day while the Capital has hovercrafts and expensive  medicines, while there is so much to eat and so little to do that people are surgically augmenting themselves with tattoos and skin dye.  I was left wondering how the people in the Capital ended up there.  Was it just about where you lived when Panem was formed?  Could people from the districts ever have the chance to move to the Capital?  Do any of them have relatives in other districts and can they communicate with them? 

We have some of the same issues now.  Some people have so much money that they spend it on unnecessary items while people in the same city are homeless and starving.  How can a society manage to provide for all its members?  How hard should survival really be?  How do we help those less fortunate without making it so easy that people start to expect not even need to help themselves at all?

Above all that, where does reality television reach a point where it is too much?  Just as Katniss views her prep team as a group of silly pets, they view the contestants in the Hunger Games as less than people too.  Can the Capital group and the Districts ever see each other as other humans?

It will be interesting to see how this plays out on the screen.  Of what has to be cut to keep the movie to a manageable length and what makes it in and how the faces of the actors will supplant the ones readers formed on their own when they were reading.  Already I lost my picture of Katniss and replaced it with Jennifer Lawrence from a photo on the cover of Entertainment Weekly.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Werewolves Don't Go To Summer Camp by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones (The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids #2)

My thoughts:
In this adventure the kids go to summer camp together and suspect their camp counselor of being a werewolf.  None of the other kids at camp seem to notice anything strange about the man.  The camp is called Camp Lone Wolf and there always seems to be a lone wolf running around at night. Their counselor is a very hairy man who never wears shoes or changes his clothing and eats in a unique manner.

The four children work together using books to deal with the suspected werewolf.  I like that this series was written by an elementary teacher and librarian.  The writing shows that these women are very familiar with their target audience.

•Pub. Date: July 1991
•Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
•Format: Mass Market Paperback , 96pp
•Age Range: 7 to 10
•Series: The Adventures Of The Bailey School Kids #2
•ISBN-13: 9780590440615
•ISBN: 0590440616

Friday, July 22, 2011

Safe from the Past: A Story of Hope, Faith and Determination by Patricia Miller Mauro

About Safe From the Past:

A kidnapping, the divorce of her parents, the loss of her father, temporary abandonment and extreme poverty are just some of the issues the author dealt with as a young child.

Her mother finally tells her she must go to college so she can break out of this cycle of poverty and hopelessness. But how can she when she has no money and absolutely no confidence or self esteem?

Read this true story to discover what hope, faith and determination can do to change a life.

A truly inspiring, deeply personal tale of perseverance in the face of unimaginable hardships, Safe from the Past makes clear the restorative power of an education.

Told in an open, honest voice with the deepest sincerity, the author's life story serves as a rousing inspiration to those with the desire to create a better life than the one they are currently living.

No matter how helpless you feel, everyone has the power to shape their own life.

My thoughts:
First I want to thank Litfuse for providing me with this book to review.  I am excited to be on this blog tour and to be one of the first to post an opinion about the book.

Patrica Miller Mauro grew up in an unstable family who subsisted at a poverty level.  Her mother and father divorced when she and her sister were young.  Although her father tried to stay in her life, even going so far as to kidnap his two daughters, her mother made it difficult on all of them to maintain the contact and he exited their lives rather than continue to subject his children to intense grilling every time they came back from a visit.

Living in poor neighborhoods, buying food with food stamps, using space heaters and blankets in doorways to trap heat, and constantly being in survival mode became the families norm.  Then her mother remarried and new issues came into their lives in the forms of alcoholism and domestic violence.

Through going to college and getting an education, and figuring out how to do it all on her own with no financial help from her family, Mauro was able to build confidence in herself and build a new way of life.  Her mother always told her that she had to go to college.

I was struck by the intense faith Mauro had in God.  So many times we associate faith with going to and belonging to a religious community and place of worship.  Of spending time praying as  group, but it seems like Mauro had faith even in the worst of times and she never mentions stepping inside of a church.  It was a wonderful reminder that God is everywhere and everyone can have faith, even if they have little else.  God always provides for tomorrow if we trust enough and understand what is being asked of us.

It was a bit odd to me how much faith and love Mauro was able to have in her mother even after all that had happened.  From the not allowing her ex-husband to be a part of his children's lives to the alcoholism and later mental health issues, it was very hard for me to understand how she could keep saying how she owed her mother so much.  I'm not sure how many favors her mother really did for her except for drilling into her that higher education was the way to escape the life they had.  Maybe the faith and love come from her faith and love in God and her willingness to forgive the past.

Litfuse is sponsoring a $30 giveaway.

About the Giveaway! To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using #litfuse) about Safe From the Past or share about it on Facebook!

If you tweet we'll capture your entry when you use @litfuse. If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email us and let us know ( Easy.

Link to buy the book:

About the Patricia Miller Mauro:

Patricia worked in New York City's financial district for thirteen years in the field of securities operations. At that time, she went on to obtain an MBA from New York University. She and her husband moved to Dallas, TX in 2001 where they are raising their two children.

During her time in NY, Patricia wrote an article entitled "A Tribute To My Mother" which was published in "The Recovery Journal" in 1999. Her book is a continuation of that tribute and serves to spread the message to those in similar situations that good news is on its way to children considering a higher education but who are afraid to dream. For more information please visit,

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Where in the World are You Reading 2011 Update

I updated my map and it looks like I still have a lot of states to hit.  Somehow most of my books seem to take place in New York, Pennsylvania, California and New England.  I have managed to read one each in Hawaii and Alaska though!  Check out my map  here.

Justice by Karen Robards

Feisty criminal attorney Jessica Ford has done her best to comply with the orders of the Secret Service’s unofficial witness protection program ever since she became the lone witness in the First Lady’s murder. Unfortunately, winning her first high-profile case for a prestigious Washington, D.C. law firm and having her face all over the news doesn’t work so well with her new low-profile life. When Secret Service agent Mark Ryan is assigned to keep her safe at all costs, Jess is less than thrilled—after all, he is her ex-boyfriend.

Jess’s next case is just as newsworthy: a rape involving a senator’s son. When the victim makes a sensational revelation on the stand, Jess suspects it is because she was threatened. Meanwhile, Jess has an uneasy feeling about the beautiful young associate she replaced: where is Allison Howard? No one has seen her since she left the firm.

Taking over Allison’s position, Jess becomes more and more haunted by her predecessor. Then she discovers that the victim in the rape case has also disappeared. With Mark’s help, Jess starts searching for both women. Soon she uncovers the case of a missing teenage girl who knew Allison. Could there be a link? When someone tries to kill her, Jess knows she is getting too close to something.

As Jess hurtles closer to the truth—and the sexual tension between her and Mark grows hotter than ever—she finds herself in a race against the clock to find the answers before what she doesn’t know gets them both killed.

My thoughts:
I read this book as part of Pocket Blogs Book Tours on Goodreads.  I have been meaning to try a Karen Robards novel for a number of years, I have some on my shelves but as my shelves are overflowing I just haven't gotten to them yet.  I signed up because I was interested and I knew having a deadline would make me read the book in a timely manner. 

The book had a bit of a slow section towards the beginning, but once it picked up I read the rest of it in one evening.  It is classed as a romantic thriller and I would also say it has a bit of mystery thrown in as well.  Jess is a lawyer for a prestigious law firm.  She gets pulled into a high profile case a the last minute because her predecessor elopes to get married and go on an extended honeymoon.  The case throws her into the spotlight which she has been trying to avoid because of her past celebrity as the lone survivor of a car accident that killed the presidents wife.  When her life is threatened they can't figure out if it just local DC crime, targeting for being the sole survivor or related to the rape case she has been working on.

As more and more comes to light about the lawyer she is replacing more questions surface.  The suspense is very well done and some of the convoluted workings of the legal system are put on display.  How do expensive firms have such good track records in winning cases?  Is it the training of their lawyers?  The resources at their disposal?  Or is it by illegal means?

Jess really fights her attraction for Mark and that sometimes got a little tedious for me.  Since this is my first book by Robards I don't know if these two were together in a past book and this is picking up where they left off or if the characters usually stand alone.  I am interested in trying out some of her other books now that I have read this one, but it is going to take some shelf shuffling to find them!  I see this as a good summer read, perfect for sitting by the pool or one the beach.

•Pub. Date: July 2011
•Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
•Format: Hardcover , 352pp
•ISBN-13: 9781439183700
•ISBN: 1439183708

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe

A wryly funny and surprisingly moving account of an extraordinary life lived almost entirely in the public eye

A teen idol at fifteen, an international icon and founder of the Brat Pack at twenty, and one of Hollywood's top stars to this day, Rob Lowe chronicles his experiences as a painfully misunderstood child actor in Ohio uprooted to the wild counterculture of mid-seventies Malibu, where he embarked on his unrelenting pursuit of a career in Hollywood.

The Outsiders placed Lowe at the birth of the modern youth movement in the entertainment industry. During his time on The West Wing, he witnessed the surreal nexus of show business and politics both on the set and in the actual White House. And in between are deft and humorous stories of the wild excesses that marked the eighties, leading to his quest for family and sobriety.

Never mean-spirited or salacious, Lowe delivers unexpected glimpses into his successes, disappointments, relationships, and one-of-a-kind encounters with people who shaped our world over the last twenty-five years. These stories are as entertaining as they are unforgettable.

My thoughts:
I love biographies and the chance to get a glimpse into anther person's  life, especially celebrities because they seem to live a charmed existence.  After seeing The Outsiders I remember being drawn to Lowe.  I'm not sure I actually saw him in much of anything until later on when he was in Austin Powers, but for some reason he was one of my favorite actors so to be able to read his own account of his life was intriguing to me.

I found this book to be a bit uneven.  It reminded me of when I took American History in high school and we spent a ton of time on the beginning of the country and the beginning of the textbook, and then as the year started to run out we learned on fast forward and by the end of the year we had barely covered the more current events.  This book covers a lot of Lowe's early history and then more recent events are only mentioned briefly. 

Parts of this book really grabbed me and kept me reading and then I would start another chapter and it would lose me.  I really enjoy books where it feels and sounds like the author is just sitting down and talking with the you, as if you were hanging out with a friend, and at times that was what this was, but not all the way.  I applaud Lowe for getting sober and for finding fulfilment with his wife and children, but sometimes when he was upset with not getting what he felt was his fair share of a show I felt a little less compassion.  I understand that stars make a lot of money and work a lot of hours, but they make more for a few months of work than many people will make in half their lives.

By reading this I realized that a lot of Lowe's movies I have never seen. I never watched The West Wing and only occasionally caught Brothers and Sisters before his character was killed off, an episode which I did see.  I'd like to look around to see if Outsiders:The Novel the movie was ever released to see the movie with the deleted scenes to make it more like the book.

I didn't dislike the book, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations either. 

•Pub. Date: April 2011
•Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
•Format: Hardcover , 308pp
•ISBN-13: 9780805093292
•ISBN: 080509329X

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 the Movie

My husband and I had a movie date this morning.  When you have kids sometimes you have to be flexible about times and I hate to be in packed movie theaters so this worked out great.  I love the low price of the morning movies at our local AMC theater too!

I remember when the first movie in the series came out.  I reread the book and went to see it the first week and felt let down.  So many things were changed and deleted from the movie that I as too distracted to really get into it and enjoy it.  Now I enjoy rewatching the movie and the changes don't bother me.  I have a feeling that this movie is going to be the same thing for me. 

I loved the story and it is evident that there was a lot of effort made in keeping it very close to the book, but there were still some changes that bothered me a bit.  I won't name them because I hate to spoil movies.  My biggest complaint was that the movie felt slow.  It was as if there were scenes that needed to happen so they made a checklist and just filmed each one then strung them together.  There wasn't a lot of continuity between one scene and the next.  There also wasn't a lot of suspense.  Yes I have read the books so I knew what was going to happen, but part 1 seemed more suspenseful and tense.  Even the scene with the dragon wasn't how I pictured it.

This is a movie that I may need to see again.  My older two children want to see it, but we wanted to see it first to make sure they would be okay and we feel they will.  One day I may take the two of them and try to relax more.  Maybe my expectations were too high.  All the other reviews I've read have been great, so it may just be me.  Perhaps it is residual sadness over knowing that the movies are over and the reminder that the book series is over as well.  I always thought Rowling would eventually write more, maybe about Teddy Lupin or Harry, Ron or Hermoine's children.  Maybe explore a new generation at Hogwarts.  Who knows, that may eventually happen.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sleepover Sleuths (Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew #1) by Caroline Keene Illustrated by Macky Pamintuan


Eight-year-old Nancy Drew has her first case to crack! Can you help?

Nancy and her two best friends, George and Bess, are so excited! They have been invited to Deirdre's sleepover party! There will be pizza, cake, and even a pajama fashion show. But the most exciting thing is that the party has a City Girls doll theme. All of the guests are bringing their dolls with them!

But then Deirdre's City Girls doll -- Hollywood Heather -- goes missing. Is her sleepover ruined? Or is there a detective in the room who can make sense of this mystery?

My thoughts:
I had no idea this series geared towards younger readers even existed until I saw it in the book order at the end of the school year.  Then when we went to Barnes and Noble to turn in the summer reading passports for a free book this was one of the choices.  We have two of the other books, but it seemed like a good idea to start at the beginning.  Nancy, Bess and George are 8-year-old friends who are good at solving mysteries and decide to become the Clue Crew.  Their first case is to find out what happened to a new doll at a sleepover party.

I grew up loving and looking forward to Nancy Drew books and Trixie Beldon. (I still have a box somewhere of all my old Trixie Beldon books that my mom held onto.  I am wondering if this is the summer to break them out or to wait.)  I love being able to share some of these with my own children and to find new books to read.  We discussed the clues as we were reading and made our own predictions of who could have taken the doll and why and how.  I was a bit worried that my son would balk at reading a book about girls, and initially he did, but he sat in the kitchen where he could still hear us and came back out when he was hooked.  I hate that it seems that girls can read books about either gender but that boys don't feel like they are allowed to read books about girls.

•Pub. Date: May 2006
•Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
•Format: Paperback , 96pp
•Age Range: 6 to 9
•Series: Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew Series #1
•ISBN-13: 9781416912552

Sunset of the Sabertooth (Magic Tree House Series book #7) Mary Pope Osborne

The magic tree house transports Jack and Annie on a mission to the Ice Age where they encounter Cro-Magnons, cave bears, sabertooth tigers, and woolly mammoths.

My thoughts:
I jumped ahead of myself yesterday, and reviewed out of order.  I hate when I do that.  This summer has been so busy that I haven't been spending much time on the computer and have fallen behind on reviews.  I haven't even finished a book or my own in over a week now.  Thinking back it has been close to two weeks since I finished one.  I knew getting HBO to watch True Blood was going to cut into my reading time!

Jack and Annie visit the tree house on their way home from swimming lessons only to be taken to the Ice Age.  My children love the Ice Age movies so I think that is how they were picturing the setting when we were listening.  Once again they are looking for something to free Morgan from a spell.

As on the other four adventures in this set of four (numbers 5-8 in the series) a mysterious person lends them help when they need it the most, but unlike the first four books it is not Morgan who is offering them this direct help. It was nice to read about the cold as it has been very hot here lately!

•Pub. Date: April 1996
•Publisher: Random House Children's Books
•Format: Paperback , 68pp
•Age Range: 6 to 8
•Series: Magic Tree House Series #7
•ISBN-13: 9780679863731
•ISBN: 0679863737

Never Swipe a Bully's Bear (Roscoe Riley Rules Series #2) by Katharine Applegate Illustrated by Brain Biggs


When Roscoe's stuffed pig goes missing, he is convinced that Wyatt, the class bully, is responsible. When Roscoe finds out where Wyatt keeps his teddy bear, he decides to give that old bully a taste of his own medicine. That will fix everything. Won't it?

My thoughts:
A few weeks ago my children and I attended a local event with authors and illustrators from our general area.  We heard Brian Biggs speak and then got to meet him at his table and have him sign our books.  We heard and met some other authors too, we just haven't finished reading their books yet so those reviews are going to be coming up later this summer.

This one was signed to my youngest.  I think he was holding it at the event because it even seems to have some teeth marks on the bottom.  I would have thought he was old enough to know better but you just never know with kids!

Each book starts with Roscoe sitting in time out for some rule he has broken, he then commences to tell what he did and how he ended up in time out again.  This time he thinks that the class bully has taken his stuffed pig, Hamilton, so he takes that child's bear.  It is a chance for children to see the need to have all the facts before jumping to conclusions and to have empathy for one another. 

Applegate does a good job sprinkling humor throughout her book.  Every so often something would strike my children funny and they all laughed at the same time. 

•Pub. Date: May 2008
•Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
•Format: Paperback , 96pp
•Age Range: 7 to 10
•Series: Roscoe Riley Rules Series #2
•ISBN-13: 9780061148835
•ISBN: 0061148830

Friday, July 8, 2011

Kids and Books

Tonight we gathered together a stack of books and sat on the couch to read before bed.  My youngest is 2 1/2 and doesn't always sit the whole time.  He got up and got his container of cars out and sat on the floor in front of us playing for a bit, then came back to listen some more, then went in the kitchen for a few minutes only to come back and add a book to the top of the stack.  The book he added was a car shaped notebook that was blank inside except for some orange scribbles.

 I told him,  "This is very nice book but there are no words to read."

He answered, "Yes there are."

I looked at it again and asked it the orange scribbles were works and he nodded.  Then I asked if he wrote the book and he said, "I write it."

So here I am looking at orange scribbles trying to figure out what he thought his book was about.  I figured cars since that was the shape of the book and his current favorite toy.  I asked him if he wanted to tell the story but he said, "No, you read it."

So, I made up a story about a red, white and blue car that celebrated the 4th of July with loud fireworks that made him cover his ears (just like my son) and who went to the drive-in movie theater to watch a movie( just like we did) and then saw a parade.  I love that he wants to write and that he understands that the words on the page are the story!

I don't think you can ever read too much to your children.  My older two made up a game yesterday that they call library.  They both have shelves of books in their rooms, but they can visit each other and borrow a book from the other person's library.  They then spent a long amount of time reading those books so they could return them to borrow new ones.

Midnight on the Moon by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House Book #8)

The magic tree house takes Jack and Annie to a moon base in the future where they continue to search for the fourth thing they need to free their friend Morgan from the magician's spell.

My thoughts:
This time around Jack and Annie visit a moon base in the future.  They have the chance to experience lower gravity, wear space suits and go for a ride in a moon buggy.  This the their fourth adventure to find a special item to free Morgan from her spell.  Once again the item they need to find starts with the letter M.

Jack and Annie have to use the book provided in the tree house to figure out how to use the items on the moon.  This is the first time that the pair have traveled to the future rather than to the past.  I actually enjoy the visits to the past more because it is a good spring board to finding out more about a time period or a place, but I know the solar system is a popular subject.  My children have really enjoyed the work they've done with it at school.

This was the last book on this set of audio books so it is going to be a little bit until we get around to listening to the next set of eight.  My children read them to themselves all the time, I just thought it would be fun to listen together and answer any questions or have any conversations that would help them with their understanding.

•Pub. Date: October 1996
•Publisher: Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval
•Format: Library Binding , 70pp
•Age Range: 6 to 9
•Series: Magic Tree House Series #8
•ISBN-13: 9780613019095
•ISBN: 0613019091

Monday, July 4, 2011

Afternoon on the Amazon by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House Book #6)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
Jack and Annie travel back in time to a South American rain forest in search of the elusive magician Morgan le Fay. Will they find a new clue to her whereabouts before they are trampled by stampeding killer ants?

Eight-year-old Jack, his seven-year-old sister, Annie, and Peanut the mouse ride in a tree house to the Amazon rain forests, where they encounter giant ants, flesh-eating piranhas, hungry crocodiles, and wild jaguars.

My thoughts:
For some reason this one has never been one of my favorites in the series. It has never really grabbed me.  I've read it multiple times and it fades from my memory so fast.  We listened to it a couple weeks ago in the car and looking back I can't recall very much from it.

There were a few things that stood out on reflection.   I like the way the layers in the rainforest are described and made real to the reader.  It was also the book where we remembered that each of the magic items the children need to find to release Morgan from her spell all start with the letter "M".

These stories are different to me this time around because my children are the ages of Jack and Annie so when they go on adventures I try to picture my children being able to do the tasks or make the leaps in reasoning, sometimes I can see them doing it and other times I can't.  Maybe it is because we have yet to have a summer day free from the two of them fighting over or about something.  Would siblings stop disagreeing long enough to be successful in these situations, or would my kids just sit there and fight all day.  I know it is fiction but this is what is going on for me as we listen and read, could seven and eight years olds really do this if they had too.

•Pub. Date: August 1995

•Publisher: Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval
•Format: Library Binding , 67pp
•Age Range: 6 to 9
Series: Magic Tree House Series #6
•ISBN-13: 9780785799924
•ISBN: 0785799923

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
After her mother leaves home suddenly, thirteen-year-old Sal and her grandparents take a car trip retracing her mother's route. Along the way, Sal recounts the story of her friend Phoebe, whose mother also left. .

"How about a story? Spin us a yarn."

Instantly, Phoebe Winterbottom came to mind. "I could tell you an extensively strange story," I warned.

"Oh, good!" Gram said. "Delicious!"

And that is how I happened to tell them about Phoebe, her disappearing mother, and the lunatic.

As Sal entertains her grandparents with Phoebe's outrageous story, her own story begins to unfold—the story of a thirteen-year-old girl whose only wish is to be reunited with her missing mother.

In her own award-winning style, Sharon Creech intricately weaves together two tales, one funny, one bittersweet, to create a heartwarming, compelling, and utterly moving story of love, loss, and the complexity of human emotion.

My thoughts:
I read this book eight years ago for a college class.  It was a summer class and I only had a few days to read the book.  It has always bothered me that I missed something right from the start and I've been wanting to read it again for ages.  Last week the audio book was on the shelf at the library so I checked it out to listen to with my children.  In listening the second time I was able to see how I missed what I missed the first time and how some readers might not.  My son knew right away when I asked him, but his reason for knowing was how he interpreted something about the character that could have meant something else.

I hate to have spoilers when I am reading, which is why I haven't stated what I missed and was looking for in this second reading.  I do not want to be the person who spoiled a story for someone else.

I liked how this was a story within a story within a story.  There was the story about Sal and her father and mother, the story about Phoebe and her mother, father, sister and the lunatic, and there was the story about Sal and her grandparents and their trip to visit Sal's mother.  None of the storylines is told straight through, but they are all going on at the same time through Sal's memory and her present circumstances.  It also showed how everyone is not always as they seem, there are layers underneath that thye may be unable or unwilling to share with others, even those closest to them, out of fear.  How much of that holds true for all of us, fear can be a big motivator in avoiding dreams and hopes, but without taking a risk we miss out on so much.  At one point towards the end of the story Sal is wondering a lot of "what ifs" and comes to realize how if she is always looking backwards wondering how things might have been she will fail to move forward and experience life to the fullest.

•Pub. Date: September 1996

•Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
•Format: Paperback , 288pp
•Age Range: 12 and up
•Series: HarperClassics
•ISBN-13: 9780064405171
•ISBN: 0064405176