Monday, October 28, 2013

"How long will you love me?" by Patti Brassard Jefferson (Review & Giveaway)

Usually when you pick up a children's book that assures them of your love - forever and a day - it is basic and yet profound but definitely directed to the little ones.  In How long will you love me? the author and illustrator Patti Brassard Jefferson has succeeded in creating a book that you can give to a child or to that special adult in your life.

The illustrations are colorful and engaging. and you'll begin by looking for the heart on each and every page. Interwoven into each illustration is word-play and humor and the ever present promise to love you. Simply turn the page to get another jolt of loving promise with a touch of sweet humor via the delightful illustrations that will bring forth those little deep seated chuckles.

A nice book I can recommend and it'll make a nice gift.

GIVEAWAY:  The author has graciously provided a copy that will be mailed directly to the winner. Just use the Rafflecopter form below to enter the giveaway. Begins October 28 & ENDS November 18 @ 12:01 a.m. ET. Open to USA mainland addresses only.
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DISCLOSURE:  A complimentary copy was provided in exchange for our honest review. No compensation was received for the review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Thanksgiving at Our House" by P.K. Hallinan (author / illustrator)

ISBN-13: 9780824956547
Publisher: Ideals Publications
Publication date: 9/28/2013
About the book:  Thanksgiving Day brings a flurry of activity to little P.K.'s house. His family and friends gather to watch parades, play football, and eat dinner -- such fun that P.K. declares: 'I'm grateful for blessings that just never end, but mostly I'm thankful. . . for family and friends.' From helping prepare the meal to counting blessings, children will identify with the familiar aspects of the holiday. The bright, colorful illustrations and heartwarming text combine to make this book, now available in paperback, a must-read for the Thanksgiving season. Ages 3-7.

Review: This is such a good rhyming book for children of all ages. It would be a good book for young readers because it is very colorful and very easy to read. The "story" follows the illustrations well to help the young child connect. And traditions of the family are brought forth in a way easy for the young child to comprehend and perhaps identify with. (reviewed J.McCann)

I'm glad for Thanksgiving
It's a wonderful day
To count all the blessings
That friends bring our way
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Ideals Publishing in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are our own.

"The Best Saturday Ever!" by Gary Cook & Illustraded by Adam Sward

ISBN-13: 978-1938063251
Age level: 5-8 - Grade level: K5-3rd
About the book  On a rainy Saturday, the power goes out. With no TV and no chance of going outside, Robbie wonders how he could possibly have fun. Well, he’ll just have to make it up! Using only his imagination, Robbie manages to save a city from a terrifying monster, captain a space shuttle, and tame a fearsome lion as the ringmaster of a circus. With all these adventures, will he even notice when the rain stops and the lights come back on? Through entertaining rhymes and exciting graphic novel-style illustrations, this book will remind kids of the power of their own imaginations, and prove that rain — and a lack of power — just might make for THE BEST SATURDAY EVER!

Review: The illustrations are bold, dark (as was the grey, stormy day), yet filled with imaginative art. The rhyming text is creative just as the imagination of the boy is for this day throughout which he entertains himself. A book with which imaginative children will identify and which those with little imaginative can gain ideas on how they might entertain themselves on a grey, rainy day.(reviewed by J.McCann, mother of two)
"The weekend is finally here.
That means no school today!
Hey what’s going on?
And why is it so grey?

All week at school,
the sky was so blue.
Now it’s my day for fun.
This just can’t be true!" — from the book
DISCLOSURE:  A complimentary copy of The Best Saturday Ever! was provided in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are our own.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"The Kid's Book of Simple Everyday Science" by Kelly Doudna

ISBN: 9781938063343
Age range: 5-9 years - Grade level: K5-4th
Published October 2013

About the book: These 40 simple science activities will have young kids searching the house for everyday items to learn about temperature, pressure, water, air, heat, and plants! Each easy and fun activity includes how-to photos, simple instructions, short explanations, and introduces beginning math principles. With tips and extra information to extend the scientific experience, this book will get kids thinking like scientists in no time at all! The book includes: supply & tool lists, visual and text-based explanations, step-by-step instructions and photos, and safety information.

Review: This is a really good book. It kept the attention of my 11 year old throughout. The projects are easy to understand and can be, mostly, done with everyday household items. Designed to easily stir the kids' imaginations to delve "scientifically" into their everyday surroundings. (reviewed by J.McCann, mother of two)

DISCLOSURE: A copy of this book was provided in exchange for our honest review by Scarletta Kids on behalf of the author.

Friday, October 18, 2013

"Claude at the Circus" by Alex T. Smith

ISBN-13: 9781561457021
Hardcover $12.95
This is another humorous episode of Claude and Sir Bobblysock's adventures. The book has nearly 100 pages, but the chapters are short and this could be read to three and four-year-olds on up, however, many of the amusing situations may be lost on the younger child.  I would think eight or nine would be the upper end of the reading audience.  This would be a great book for grandmas and grandpas to add to their library for an extended time with the grands!

A rather ordinary Saturday is about to turn adventuresome for not only Claude's owners, Mr. and Mrs. Shinyshoes, but Claude and his best friend, Sir Bobblysock.  Claude, a small dog who appears to be very tired, amazingly comes to life once the house is empty of people!  He immediately bounces out of his cozy bed and plans a trip to the park while Mr. and Mrs. Shinyshoes are off for the day on their own excursions.  Sir Bobblysock decides to accompany him, all the while revealing his psychotic fears such as having his hayfever set off by the flowers.  The two remind me somewhat of "The Odd Couple" with Claude being happy-go-lucky while Sir Bobblysock following along doubtfully and cautiously!

Despite their innocent enjoyment of all the park has to offer, Claude and Bobblysock cause a ruckus when they get caught up with some joggers, and are reprimanded by the park keeper for napping in the flowers.  They try to redeem themselves by filling in holes in a funny sort of field littered with small white balls.  They also help keep the park clean by picking up litter.  All good! except for the sign that says "WET PAINT" that is attached to a park bench. 

They are forgiven by all when they stop a runaway baby buggy from splashing into a pond and receive free tickets to the nearby circus.  Arriving early to the next performance, the two friends think they are helping when they sweep all the sawdust into a big pile in the center of the floor, polish the trapeze, and give the high wire a once-over with a damp cloth.  After the circus acts flop, Claude and Sir Bobblysock save the day with a few tricks of their own. 

The illustrations, also by Alex T. Smith, are excellent.  As a teacher, I would like to see this published in a larger format so that the pictures could be easily viewed by a group of ten or more. (reviewed by Carly D. Karns, Music Teacher and Tutor, Alamance Christian School)

We can recommend this book (and its predecessor Claude In The City) as a delightful addition to the home, school, or public library.

DISCLOSURE:  A complimentary copy of Claude at the Circus was provided by Peachtree Publishers for the purpose of our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"The Courier of Caswell Hall" by Melanie Dobson

UPC: 9780824934262
Paperback $14.99
About the book:  An unlikely spy discovers freedom and love in the midst of the American Revolution.
As the British and Continental armies wage war in 1781, the daughter of a wealthy Virginia plantation owner feels conflict raging in her own heart. Lydia Caswell comes from a family of staunch Loyalists, but she cares only about peace. Her friend Sarah Hammond, however, longs to join the fight. Both women’s families have already been divided by a costly war that sets father against son and neighbor against neighbor; a war that makes it impossible to guess who can be trusted.
One snowy night Lydia discovers a wounded man on the riverbank near Caswell Hall, and her decision to save him will change her life. Nathan introduces her to a secret network of spies, couriers, disguises, and coded messages—a network that may be the Patriots’ only hope for winning the war. When British officers take over Caswell Hall and wreak havoc on neighboring plantations, Lydia will have to choose between loyalty and freedom; between her family’s protection and her own heart’s desires.

As both armies gather near Williamsburg for a pivotal battle, both Lydia and Sarah must decide how high a price they are willing to pay to help the men they love.

Part of the American Tapestries™ series: Each standalone novel in this line sets a heart-stirring love story against the backdrop of an epic moment in American history. This is the fifth book in the series. Purchase a copy hereLearn more at Melanie’s website.

Review:  I thoroughly enjoyed this book! “The Courier of Caswell Hall” is the fifth book in the series called An American Tapestry. This is the first book I have read written by Melanie Dobson, but I will not hesitate to read any other books she has written. I am a fan of historical fiction and particularly enjoyed the setting of this book, which was the American Revolution. 

The author has done an excellent job at developing characters with whom we can connect and enjoy reading about. I really like it when an author causes me to give strong thought as to what men, women, and children actually endured during a particular era in our history. The historical accuracy in this book makes it all the more enjoyable to read and the characters are easily envisioned going through their day-to-day activities while also engaging in a secret mission that could and did often times cost them their lives.

I repeat --- I thoroughly enjoyed this book and most definitely recommend it! 

About the author: Melanie Dobson is the author of twelve novels; her writing has received numerous accolades including two Carol Awards. Melanie worked in public relations for fifteen years before she began writing fiction full-time. 

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of the Courier of Caswell Hall was provided for the purpose of this review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"How To Make Friends and Monsters" by Howard Boward (with some help from Ron Bates)

ISBN-13: 978-0310735519
If you are looking for an entertaining, humorous book for a middle-schooler, this is it!  Howard Boward has a little in common with a lot of seventh graders.  He is one.  But there, the similarities seem to end for him.  He has few friends, no, in all honesty, he has no friends.  It is such an obvious lack that his mother buys him a book, "How to Make Friends".   However, instead of reading it as "HOW to Make Friends", Howard sees the title as any nerdy junior scientist would:  "How to MAKE Friends"!

Written in first person, and with Howard being prone to talk to himself, (a necessity since he has no friends to talk to), much of the book reveals Howard's character and thought processes to the reader. He is a creative boy trapped in an awkward, skinny body with a low self-esteem and a high IQ. The kind of junior-high student bullies look for- and find- daily!

Howard's description of the "in crowd" are those superstars of middle school who can utter  "a single word and plunge another student to the bottom of the popularity ladder or raise you to that glorious place where even the eagles get nosebleeds."  He dubs these chosen ones the UP's, the "uber-populars."  At the beginning of the story Howard wants to be one.  At the end of the book, he knows he had a close call with being one, but thankfully, he now knows the meaning of being a true friend--thanks to Franklin Stein.

Franklin Stein was the name Howard gave to the friend and monster he created out of spare parts and the DNA of various animals,  (thanks to his animal catcher dad) and his natural ability to invent things.  Secretly hanging out in his make-shift lab in the garage along with lab assistant, Reynolds Pipkin, the experiment became larger, literally, than Howard could have imagined.  A creature began to take shape and with the help of a computer inputting information, a walking, talking friend emerged.  Fortunately for Howard, as a last moment decision, he had thrown in some blonde follicles belonging to Winnie, one of the nicest, kindest seventh graders at school.  

From Winnie and a few other kind characters in the book, Franklin morphed into Howard's true friend, not like one of the UP's he used to worship.  A true friend doesn't have fun at the expense of others, coax others to do their work for them, use friends for selfish gain, or abandon friends in need.

Hopefully, this book will not only entertain but help readers define what a true friend is and how to be one!

The book is hilarious and a good read for all ages.  Pre-teens should find it funny, I often found it hilarious. (reviewed by  Carly D. Karns, Teacher at Alamance Christian School)

GIVEAWAY: If you live in US you can qualify for a giveaway copy provided by the publisher. Simply use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. NO P.O. BOXES, please! Begins October 3 & ENDS October 21 @ 12:01 a.m.
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About the author:  Ron Bates is a freelance writer and award-winning copywriter who lives and works in Texas. He began his career as a newspaper reporter and later became an editor and columnist. His frequently funny takes on life caught the attention of Legacy Publishing, which hired him as resident humor-columnist. His works include the children's story Arnold Bought a Bug; the inspirational play Flight 1615; Underground Ink, a collection of humorous poems; the Cranium Comics series Brawn; and St. Mary's and the Art of War, the true story of how Italian POWs transformed a tiny, Texas church. Learn more at

DISCLOSURE: Zonder provided a complimentary copy on behalf of the author for the purpose of this review. No compensation was received for this review.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Andi Unexepcted by Amanda Flower (An Andi Boggs Novel)

After the sudden death of their parents in the jungles of Central America, 12-year old science geek Andora “Andi” boggs and her diva teenaged sister, Bethany, move to rural Killdeer, Ohio, to live with their eccentric 20-something aunt. And while the timeworn house has been home to the Boggs family for generations, Andi feels far from at home. Exploring the attic in her grief, she discovers proof of another Andora Boggs in the family tree hidden in a Depression-era trunk. Despite the meddling of the citizens of Killdeer, Andi and her new friend, Colin Carter, are determined to find out who this first Andora was, how she vanished, and why no one in town wants to talk about her. As more and more unanswered questions pile up, Andi and Colin must decide who they can trust with their secrets and who is interested in Andora’s story for the wrong reasons.  
Review:  “Andi Unexpected” is targeted toward middle school and higher readers. It is one of the best books I have read in quite some time. It is quick paced and I read it in one day. Amanda Flower has written a wonderful story of mystery, friendship, and how people deal with grief differently.

Andi and her sister have to move in with their aunt Amelie because their parents have died while on a science mission in the jungles of Central America. The house where their aunt now lives used to belong to Andi’s grandparents. Initially, Andi and her sister Bethany have to share a bedroom, but the two sisters fight quite a bit since the death of their parents, and so Aunt Amelie suggests to both Andi and Bethany that if they will clean out the attic, then Andi can turn it into a bedroom. The stuff they move out the attic can be sorted and set up for the annual Killdeer yard sale and whatever money the schools earn, they can keep. Well, both girls want their own rooms and Bethany is interested in the money because Aunt Amelie has told her that if she wants to keep “texting” on her cell phone, then she’ll have to earn the money to keep that feature. Andi doesn’t necessarily care about the money. She just wants her own room.

This simple task of cleaning out the attic turns into a wonderful adventure for both Andi and Bethany. Through the guidance of their Aunt Amelie, they also are able to move forward and work through some of the grief of the loss of their parents. They meet some very interesting people along the way and develop friendships that will help them in their adjustment to life in Killdeer. Andi and Bethany also see how the other one is actually broken over the death of their parents, but it’s okay to deal with their loss in different ways. It doesn’t mean the other person is deeply saddened just because they may or may not show the type of emotion the other thinks they should.

This is a great book and well, well worth the read. I look forward to other books in this series!! 

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary review copy was provided to facilitate this review. Copies may be acquired at your favorite book supplier. for author information - click here.

Author Melanie Dobson Book Giveaway

Melanie Dobson's latest release, The Courier of Caswell Hall, is a riveting story you won't want to miss. The newest offering in the American Tapestries™ series, it follows an unlikely spy who discovers freedom and love in the midst of the American Revolution.

Enter to win 1 of 5 copies of the book!


  Five winners will receive:
  • The Courier of Caswell Hall by Melanie Dobson
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 5th. All winners will be announced October 7th at the Litfuse blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit the Litfuse blog on the 7th to see if you won one of the books!

"The Governess of Highland Hall" by Carrie Turansky

Worlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall. Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help?
Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.

Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith.

While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families—common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future? (back of book)

Review:  This was a wonderful story.  It was an easy read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I found the characters believable, especially for the time period of the story.  I like that the main character’s faith was evident through the book, but it never became preachy.  The author, in fact, also allowed the characters to show a flawed side from time to time, which made the story more realistic and likeable.  This book is geared more toward high school and older, but it is not too advanced for a strong middle school reader.

“The Governess of Highland Hall” is a really nice read and I look forward to reading other books by this particular author. 

More Info: 
DISCLOSURE: We received an advance reading copy for review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

"Fired Up" Trouble in Texas book 2 by Mary Connealy (Review & Giveaway)

About the book:  Dare Riker is a doctor who saves lives, but someone seems determined to end his. It may have something to do with the traitors he dealt with during the Civil War, or it might be related to the recent incident with Flint Greer and the ranch. Whoever the culprit is, he or she seems really fired up, and Dare can't let his guard down for a moment, which is a challenge, since right now he's trying to win the heart of the recently widowed Glynna.

Glynna Greer came west as a mail-order bride and ended up in a bad situation. Now her husband, Flint, is dead, and she's determined to care for her son and daughter on her own. She wants to believe Dare Riker is as decent as he seems, but she's terrified to lock herself into another marriage. She plans to support her small family by opening a diner-never mind that cooking is not her greatest talent. Themen in Broken Wheel, Texas, are so desperate for home cooking that they seem willing to overlook dried-out beef and blackened biscuits.

Glynna can't help but notice that danger follows Dare wherever he goes. There's the avalanche. And then the fire. But things really get out of hand when someone plunges a knife from Glynna's diner into Dare's back. Are Flint's cronies still plotting revenge? Is Glynna's son engaged in a misguided attempt to protect his mother? Is a shadowy outsider still enraged over past injustices? And can Dare survive long enough to convince Glynna to take another chance on love?

Review: This was an unbelievably funny read so filled with virtually "slap-stick" comedy page after page. Author, Mary Connealy, has taken the dangerous and serious wild-west and turned it upside down into a rollicking story.

Now just what is "Fired Up" - well, there is the male lead, Dare Riker who is in one dangerous situation after another and someone wants to ride the scene of him. So Dare gets fired up.

Then there is Glynna who is fired up after two failed marriages so is now determined to make it own her own by opening an eating establishment regardless that she can't cook at all .

And there is the group of male characters who are friends with Dare and they are fired up with determination that no one is going to "do-in" their friend.

Get ready for a truly fun read that will entertain you and also give you a glimpse (albeit a funny one) into the dangers of the west, lack of law and order, the plight of the mail order brides, and what widowed and unmarried women of that period faced.

GIVEAWAY - Begins September 30 & ENDS October 21 Open to addresses in continental US only.
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DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Litfuse Publicity on behalf of the Bethany House a division of Baker Publishing Group and the author, Mary Connealy.

"I Am Ruth: A Story of Loss, Love, & Redemption" by Brenda Duff with Photography by Kenneth Berg.

ISBN: 9780892217199
Hardcover $17.99
The book I Am Ruth; A Story of Loss, Love, & Redemption is written by Brenda Duff and the photography is by Kenneth Berg. It is the book of Ruth from the Bible, only told through pictures as well as written word.
The book itself is beautifully illustrated.  The photographs bring the book to life, especially they are pictures of Israel and its landscapes. Reading the story, while being able to view the pictures, made the story of Ruth even that more memorable and special to me.  Ruth happens to be my favorite book in the Bible because it shows a clear picture of our redemption through Jesus Christ and his death, burial and resurrection.

I did struggle at first with the style of the writing, in that the writer jumped back and forth between the story of Ruth and Naomi and the story of Abraham.  It became easier to read the further I got into the story and helped lay the foundation for the actions of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz.  I do believe that this would be a good companion book to read along with the actual scripture from Ruth.

I Am Ruth” is wonderful book and would make a great gift.  I would leave this book out on my coffee table because of its beauty on the cover and then the awesome photographs inside.  It is a beautiful book with an even more beautiful story of Loss, Love & ultimate Redemption. (rev. P.Howard)

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by New Leaf Publishing Group for the purpose of this review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

"Sir Princess Petra's Talent" The Pen Pieyu Adventures by Diane Mae Robinson (Review & Giveaway of both books)

About the book: Sir Princess Petra has already proven she is a king and noble knight.  This, however, does not please the king and queen – they want her to behave like a princess and forget this silly knight nonsense of hers!  But when the king writes a new rule in the royal rule book that requires her to attend Talent School and acquire a princess talent certificate or suffer the spell of the royal magician, Petra reluctantly, agrees to go.  But who could have guessed what Sir Princess Petra’s Talent would be? (back of book)

I was given the opportunity to read this wonderful little book before the actual release date of September 24.  It is the second in this particular series.  The first book was “Sir Princess Petra” and describes exactly how and why Petra wanted to become a noble knight.  A great little book to read and probably should be read before “Sir Princess Petra’s Talent” so you can understand some of the characters and who and what and why.

Now, back to my review of “Sir Princess Petra’s Talent”.  This is absolutely one of the silliest books I’ve read, but oh what FUN!!  The author has created such an imaginative story of magical characters.  The King and Queen (aka Mom and Dad) want Princess Petra to be a proper princess and not the tomboy Knight that Petra is.  And so the King (aka Dad) believes that if he writes a new law forcing all knights to go to Talent School that this will change Petra because certainly she will want to learn how to knit or cook.  Petra’s adventure along the way and the creatures she meets along the way are delightful.  The adventure doesn’t end once Petra and her friends arrive at Talent School, but continue after they have attended school and received their talent certificate.  I won’t spoil the story and tell you what Petra’s talent was.  You’ll have to read the book, but reading the book is not a waste of your time.  While I don’t know that any child who reads the story may get the underlying theme of the book, which is basically you can achieve dreams and goals with hard work, I do believe they will enjoy the book because it is just plain silly and a lot of fun.  It reminds me of how many children make up stories and use their imagination! 

“Sir Princess Petra’s Talent” is a great little book and is targeted toward readers who are 3rd grade and higher.  It is short book and can easily be read in one day by children.  (Rev. P.Howard)

GIVEAWAY: One of our readers will win a copy of both book 1 and book 2 in the Princess Petra stories. Use the Rafflecopter form below.  Begins October 1 and ENDS October 21 ! 12:01 a.m. ET. Open to mainland US & Canadian addresses only.
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Author and artist: Diane Mae Robinson lives in a small hilltop castle nestled amongst a very old and magical forest. In this mystical forest, all the fantasy creatures one can imagine live and audition for parts in the author's next book. Diane has a journalism diploma from the Schools of Montreal and an advanced diploma from the Institute of Children's Literature. The author also teaches acrylic and watercolor art to children.  Find her at

DISCLOSURE: A review copy was provided to facilitate this review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.