Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Salting Roses by Lorelle Marinello: Book Review

Salting Roses
by Lorelle Marinello
Avon (HarperCollins)
ISBN: 978-0-06-144374-9
December 1, 2010

Description: Gracie Lynne Calloway-once left on a coal bucket on a front porch in a small Southern Alabama town-discovers on her 25th birthday that she is the kidnapped daughter of a late New England financier and   Heiress to a fortune.

When the tabloid press and her unwanted greedy relatives descend on her, she has to admit the quiet secure life she's known and loved is gone for good. As Gracie struggles to stabilize her world and come to terms with her new identity, she learns that belonging is not about where you came from but who you are.

The Good Stuff

  • A sweet charming, beautiful and wise book
  • Don't let the slowness of it make you put the book down, the characters slowly grow on you and you realize how much you have grown to care about them
  • Bloody brilliant and realistic character development
  • It's the perfect book for a cold winter's night. You want to curl up, grab a tea (or a nice Australian red wine) and lose yourself in a delightful small town full of quirky and all too real characters
  • Some nice humour and fun dialogue
  • Great starting chapter - but I warn you it slows down a little after that, but please don't give up
  • Lovely messages about truth, money, forgiveness,family, love and being human
The Not so Good Stuff

  • It was very slow at times and I had a hard time getting into it, but it really grew on me so don't let the slowness get to you
  • Gracie irritated me at times because she was so stubborn and I didn't always understand her choices
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Gracie was convinced God had invented Jeans to make up for his mistake of letting Eve into the Garden of Eden naked as a jaybird."

"She had to be all of one hundred and ten pounds - what Alice's Hollywood magazines called fashionably thin, a polite word for anorexic."

"Happiness was something that came from having the freedom to be who you really were - not someone else's version of your ideal self, but the deep down you, with all the good and bad mixed up thick."

What I Learned

  • That I secretly hope that I am some kidnapped heiress and one day someone will come along with 6 million dollars for me to do with as I please. 
  • Books like this make me glad that I decided to become a book reviewer and jump out of my reading comfort zone
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Fans of Fannie Flagg and Debbie Macomber will probably enjoy
  • Those who enjoy Southern fiction
  • Not for those who like tons of action and/or hot steamy sex
4 Dewey's

I received this from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review -- thank you once again HarperCollins for sending me a book that I probably never would have picked out, but am glad I read

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mom and Me Mondays: Scaredy Squirrel

While we were messing around with our Scaredy Squirrel puppet this weekend, we realized that we have never done a Mom and Me post on our families favorite modern picture book.  That's right the infamous Scaredy Squirrel. If you have never heard of him, shame on you -- get thee to a bookstore and buy a copy RIGHT NOW!  Even better buy a Puppet/Book Combo from select Chapters/Indigo/Coles stores and proceeds go to benefit the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation.

Scaredy Squirrel
by Melanie Watt
Kids Can Press
ISBN: 978-1-55337-959-1
Suggested Ages: Any age, but don't let your babies hurt the book
Scaredy Squirrel on the Web
Scaredy Squirrel on FaceBook (And Yes I belong to it - don't judge)

Description: Scaredy Squirrel never leaves his nut tree. It's way too dangerous out there. He could encounter tarantulas, green Martians or killer bees. But in his tree, every day is the same and if danger comes along, he's well-prepared. Scaredy Squirrel's emergency kit includes antibacterial soap, Band-Aids and a parachute. Day after day he watches and waits, and waits and watches, until one day his worst nightmare comes true! Scaredy suddenly finds himself out of his tree, where germs, poison ivy and sharks lurk. But as Scaredy Squirrel leaps into the unknown, he discovers something really uplifting


Jake's Review: Scaredy is really funny but he has some issues, as Mom would say.  Mom also says that Scaredy reminds her of me, but I think she is exaggerating. I think the books are more suited to younger kids like Jesse and old people like my Mom -- who is currently playing with the puppet right now. Did I also mention that she has a Scaredy Squirrel Bag and Lanyard and doesn't let Jesse touch her puppet!  I like the book because the pictures are awesome and really different. Scaredy is really funny and he can fly and he is  like me in that he is scared of lots of weird things.  But I guess if Scaredy can get over his fears, maybe I can too.
Jake's Rating: 9.5/10


Mom's Review: Scaredy Squirrel is up there with anything created by my hero Dr Seuss.  We have all of his books and adore each and everyone of them. Jake is just acting supercool by not going ga ga over Scaredy right now, but when he was 5 he made me read it to him every night.  Scaredy is so real and loveable you will find yourself out buying the rest of the series.  The stories have some wonderful coping strategies for those who are scared of the unknown and done in such a wonderful blase way. I really wish I could express more effectively how wonderful this book is, but I guess I will just let you have to see for yourself. Trust me just go buy the book, you will understand and thank Me! By the way note to self, don't let 9 year old boys play with puppet while mentioning nuts (and with Daddy encouraging him too) -- trust me! This is a MUST HAVE book for every household, Library and School Classroom!

Mom's Rating: 5 Million/10

Other Books In Series

Scaredy Squirrel at Night
Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach
Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend
Scaredy Squirrel has a Birthday Party - Coming February 2011




I received this copy "SIGNED" at the OLA conference a couple of years ago. Melanie is just as sweet and quirky as Scaredy himself

Cheerios Milestone Party & Kleenex Hand Towel Review

I was given the opportunity from Mom Central Canada to host an intimate Cheerios Milestones Sponsored Get-together in my home with my Mommy friends and their kids. Mom Central Canada provided me with a Get-together kit that included everything I would need to host a fun and entertaining get-together. 

Unfortunately a week before my scheduled party I got sick, so I had to adjust the originally planned event.  However, even with the scaled down production and a few cancellations, we still managed to have a fantastic time. We had tons of food to sample and lots of arts and crafts for the little ones.


The Layout
The Spread 
Cheerio Lollipops

Make your own Cheerio Necklaces

All set up for kids potty time

Crafts 

The Guests

Me prepping blog post --must get wireless one of these days(Check out spanking new laptop won from Urbanmoms.ca)

The gang sampling

Glad I left the house like normal with toys everywhere

Mommies bonding over sweets

Josh and his Cheerios necklace


Jesse saying Hi to Carter

Peekaboo!
The Recipes

Banana Nut Cheerios® Energy Bars (I substituted with Honey Nut Cheerios)

Prep Time:20 min
Start to Finish:50 min
Makes:24 bars
 
4cups Banana Nut Cheerios® cereal
1cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/3cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/3cup roasted unsalted sunflower nuts
1/2cup light corn syrup
1/4cup packed brown sugar
1/4cup creamy peanut butter
1teaspoon vanilla

1.Spray 9-inch square pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix cereal, cranberries, almonds and sunflower nuts.
2.In 2-quart saucepan, heat corn syrup, brown sugar and peanut butter to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
3.Pour syrup mixture over cereal mixture; toss to coat. Press firmly in pan. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows.

1 Serving: Calories 110 (Calories from Fat 30); Total Fat 3 1/2g (Saturated Fat 0g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 55mg; Total Carbohydrate 18g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 11g); Protein 1Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 2%; Vitamin C 2%; Calcium 4%; Iron 6Exchanges: 1/2 Starch; 1/2 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat Carbohydrate Choices: 1
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.


Chocolate Hazelnut Marshmallow Balls (I used Honey Nut Cheerios)
Prep Time:15 min
Start to Finish:15 min
Makes:14 servings

1/2cup hazelnut spread with cocoa
1/4cup milk chocolate chips
14large marshmallows

Toothpicks
3cups Chocolate Cheerios® cereal

Round wooden sticks with one pointed end or craft sticks (flat wooden sticks with round ends)

1.In medium microwavable bowl, microwave hazelnut spread and chocolate chips on High 30 seconds; stir until smooth. Place cereal in shallow dish.
2.Insert toothpick into marshmallow; dip in chocolate mixture. Roll in cereal to coat completely. Place on large plate; remove toothpick. Repeat with remaining marshmallows. If desired, insert round wooden sticks into each for pops.
3.Refrigerate 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.

1 Serving: Calories 120 (Calories from Fat 40); Total Fat 4 1/2g (Saturated Fat 1g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 50mg; Total Carbohydrate 19g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 13g); Protein 1Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 2%; Vitamin C 2%; Calcium 4%; Iron 8Exchanges: 1 1/2 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Vegetable; 1 Fat Carbohydrate Choices: 1
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.



Cheerios String and Eat Necklaces

Prep Time:30 min
Start to Finish:30 min
Makes:4 necklaces
Tip:
Dip licorice ends into flour before poking through marshmallows to prevent stickiness

1/3cup Cheerios® cereal
1roll (1.5 oz) ring-shaped gummy candy
1package (1 1/4 oz) tube-shaped candies
1/2cup colored miniature marshmallows
4pieces red shoestring licorice (about 36 inches each)

1.For each necklace, string cereal, candies and marshmallows onto shoestring licorice.
2.When licorice is three-fourths full, tie ends together in double knot to make necklace    


Review's of the Recipe's and Crafts

Angie (2 1/2) loved the cheerios lollipops and when Mom (Tammy) asked if she could have a bite -- she said "NO" you can get your own over there! Her mom preferred the ones I made with the Cheerios over just the plain chocolate covered marshmallows -- as they were too sweet. With theCheerios on them it mellowed the sweetness.  Mom and Angie both thought the squares were too hard, thought they would have been better if they weren't so thick.  The taste was good though

Joanna and her 2 children Abi (4 yrs) and Josh (15 months) also sampled all of the treats.  Abi loved the Cheerios lollipops, but wasn't sure she would like them with the chocolate Cheerios that the recipe suggested (So far haven't seen the chocolate Cheerios in Canada, saw them in Buffalo last week though).  Abi wouldn't try theCheerios squares because they had cranberries in them  (both of my boys weren't going to try those squares either -- since they are also not fans of cranberries).  Mom thought they were delicious, but also thought they were a little too hard (must get proper size bake pan so I can make them thinner).  Abi loved making the Cheerios necklaces and Mom thought they were a fantastic craft for little girls.  Josh had a few pieces of the Cheerios lollipop and loved it and probably would have eaten the whole thing if Mom would have let him (trust me I am with Mom, I would only let Jesse have a little bite since they are so sugary,they would have been bouncing off the walls!).  Joanna also wanted to mention that Abi only likes regular cheerios, not the multi-grain ones.  As a Mom, Joanna, also mentioned that she is a little turned off of the multi-grain Cheerios as they seem to have an almost candy like coating. When she buys"multi-grain" she expects them to be healthier-- not candy coated!

Pam has three children, Jalene (4), Taryn (2 - and future wife to Jesse) and Carter (3mths).  Both Jalene and Taryn loved the Cheerios lollipops and devoured them!  Jalene loved the chocolate ones a little better than the Cheerios ones, because they weren't as messy.  Jalene loved the squares but Taryn wouldn't try them -- due to once again those nasty looking cranberries (note to self -- cranberries are a turn off to most young kids).  Both girls enjoyed making the necklaces.  Something they definitely were going to try doing again.  Pam has Coeliac disease, so she could not try any of the Cheerios recipes. However, both of the girls and her husband are huge fans of the Banana Nut Cheerios.  We also bought some this week to try out!  Carter just slept most of the time and wasn't ready to try anything since -- he's only 3 months old. But I got to cuddle with him and kiss his beautiful little head! Thank goodness hubby has been fixed or I would have been tempted to have another one asap.


Lori has two children, Meghan(4 1/2) and Joshua (17months).  Both Meghan and Josh loved the lollipops, especially the ones with the Cheerios on them!  Mom also liked theCheerios lollipops and the Cheerios squares.  The squares were much too difficult for the kids to eat, since they were so wide and hard -- but they did have a great flavor to them.  Mom loved the idea of making necklaces with the kids and was going to do that in the future.  Mom found the lollipops a little too sweet and found the ones with the Cheerios quite a bit better as the Cheerios calmed down the sweetness.

Things I learned & Misc. Notes

  • Things were a little too hectic for all of us sitting down and doing the crafts.  If I was to do this again, I would get one of the neighborhood girls to come in and help out with the little ones.
  • I love to host parties with kids.  If I had been feeling better I would have loved to have planned more crafts for the kids to do
  • Everyone loves cheerios. Great first solid food for all kids.  Everybody has their favorite type, but I am old school I love snacking on the plain ones.
  • Told them all about the milestones contest and Mom Central and handed out the cards. Also emailed them a list of the recipes, the contest and some information about Mom Central
  • Everybody liked the prizes provided by Cheerios and Mom Central. I also added some prizes of books, so that everybody could go home with a little extra
  • It was so nice to have so many little girls in the house for a change. I am usually surrounded by boys and fart jokes, so it was kinda fun to talk about barbies and crafts.
  • It is times like this that I really miss being a stay at home mom, surrounded by tons of noise and chaos and just hanging with other Mom's

Kleenex Hand Towel Review

Since I already had some mom's handy I wanted to get their opinion on the Kleenex Hand Towels that were also provided by Mom Central Canada

Most of the mom's agreed it wasn't something that they would purchase regularly, but would definitely keep on hand for parties and for when someone in the house was sick, to prevent the spreading of germs.

The product itself was extremely strong and really did the trick.  It was the perfect size and it felt nice and soft.  Our complaints about the product were that it was a little pricey for what it was, and it wasn't the most environmentally friendly product as it promoted throwing things away.  However, we were still all going to make sure we kept some handy. Great for keeping in the car and diaper bags!!!

RIP Leslie Nielsen

One of my fav actors passed away yesterday.   Here are a few clips of him when he was on Due South (Plus a bit from Due South which makes me laugh everytime -- Leslie is not in this particular clip (Transcript now since video has been taken off YouTube -- but Canadians everywhere will laugh their ass off ) and a wonderful tribute someone did on youtube






Since The video was taken off YouTube - here is the transcript from the scene I was talking about

Constable Benton Fraser: [Fraser, dressed in his red Mountie uniform, is teaching Social Studies in an elementary classroom] ... which makes the border between Canada and the United States the longest undefended border in the world. So that since their formation, our countries have found a peaceful way to coexist. Except for the War of 1812, where your country invaded ours and we sent you packing - but that's hardly worth mentioning. Now, I think I'll open the floor to questions.
[a boy raises his hand]
Constable Benton Fraser: Yes?
Schoolboy: Do you have to undo all your buttons to go to the toilet?
Constable Benton Fraser: No. Anyone else?
[the boy raises his hand again]
Schoolboy: How many do you have to undo?
Constable Benton Fraser: Just enough to get your trousers undone.
[the boy raises his hand yet another time]
Constable Benton Fraser: Yes.
Schoolboy: Do they have toilets in Canada?
Constable Benton Fraser: Yes. We do. Anyone else?
[the boy raises his hand]
Constable Benton Fraser: Anyone else a'tall?
[the boy is frantically raising his hand as Fraser ignores him]
Constable Benton Fraser: Any other questions a'tall?




Thursday, November 25, 2010

Challenge Completed and Contest

I completed my very 1st Challenge (ok and the only 1) since I stared blogging

2010 Bottoms Up Reading Challenge hosted by Ellz Readz


My pile had 33 books on it in February 2010 -- and I managed to read the last one last night!  It feels so good to be done

Hopefully next year I will take on a few more challenges


These are the books that were on the bottom up my pile

A Black Tie Affair
Confections of a Master Baker
Cougar Club
Countess of Scandal
Desire Me 
Ghosted
Heat Wave 
Hunger Games
It Could be Worse You Could be Me
Knights of Pleasure
Missile Mouse
Motorcycles and Sweetgrass
My Wife's Affair
Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders
Of Mice and Men
Priceless
Ravished by a Highlander
Seduced by a Rogue
Shiver
Smile
Spider's Bite
The Deadly Sister
The Journal of Mortifying Moments
The Odds Get Even
The Outsiders
The  Princess Bride
The Queen's Mistake
To Surrender to a Rogue
Vermont Ghost Guide
What I Saw and How I Lied
Wondrous Strange
Would You
Zac Power

And since I felt so good about finishing - I decided that I was going to do a quick contest

CONTEST

Open US, Canada or anywhere the Book Depository ships
Prize: Any book from the Book Depository - up to $15 (Its xmas after all, money is tight)
Contest Ends: December 3rd, 2010
Rules: Must be a Follower and Comment below what book you would order if you won

The Odds Get Even by Natale Ghent: Book Review

The Odds Get Even
 by Natale Ghent
HarperTrophy Canada (HarperCollins)
ISBN: 978-1-55468-412-0
Suggested Ages: 9 - 12

Description: Boney, Itchy and Squeak are the Odd Fellows, just a bit different from everybody else, and the best of friends. They hang out in their tree house in Boney’s backyard, where five lookout posts and three escape hatches allow them to keep an eye on (and get away from) their mortal enemy: bully Larry Harry. But after getting pelted with eggs, pummeled in gym class and sabotaged every year at their school’s Invention Convention, the Odds have had enough. They’re going to put an end to Larry’s reign of terror, and they’re going to use their knowledge of science and the local legend of a haunted mill to do so—if, that is, they don’t get tangled up in their own schemes first. Natale Ghent, award-winning and critically acclaimed author of No Small Thing and All the Way Home, returns with a hilarious story of friendship and comeuppance. The Odds Get Even perfectly captures the childhood spirit of secret plans and adventures while showing that being different isn’t such a bad thing

The Good Stuff
  • Wonderful story that boys in the 9 - 12 age will love, especially if they are not hockey obsessed stereotypical Canadian boys (Yup folks, Jake is going to love this one)
  • Delightfully unusual characters
  • There is a ghost story, its minor, but its still there and I LOVE ghost stories
  • The friendship between the boys really rings true and is very honestly portrayed
  • It reminded me of my youth as an "Odd kid"
  • Very realistic portrayal of boys and some of the situations they find themselves in - especially with dealing with bullies
  • Quirky good fun 
The Not so Good Stuff
  • Come on, must all parental figures come off as completely clueless morons
What I Learned
  • That sometimes it really sucks to be a geeky young boy
  • That I'm not such a bad cook after-all, at least I don't make only soup casseroles
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Perfect for middle school age boys, especially those that are considered a little bit different
  • A great book for kids who have been bullied
  • Hockey obsessed Canadian boys probably won't get into this one
4 Dewey's

I got a signed copy for Jake at the Ontario Library Association conference last year and didn't have to review it, just felt like passing on a recommendation for a good book for middle school boys

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas Shopping Surprise

CSN and Christmas Shopping

CSN has generously gave me the opportunity to review another item from one of their FABULOUS stores, so I thought -- hey I have no extra money for Christmas and hubby and I agreed not to buy anything for each other -- now I can surprise him with a little something

If you haven't heard of CSN - and would be surprised if you haven't,  they are a fantastic online shopping site with tons of fantastic things to buy such as some funky and oh so practical sling backpacks, wonderful kitchen gadgets and some fun and educational toys.  In other words, pretty much anything you can think of.

I also used to think their International Fee was way too steep -- but after experiencing a truly steep unexpected charge from UPS when I ordered a  special watch for my son from the States, I take it back. Their international fee is EXTREMELY reasonable and more importantly it is out in the open, so there will be no surprises.

Now SHHHHH -- don't tell hubby I am buying him something!  And also to bribe you for not telling, I am having a contest next week  for you guys!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers -- Enjoy!  And btw CSN is having tons of Black Friday specials already -- Go Shop NOW!

Winners of The Transformation of Things

Hi Guys

Sorry about the lateness on this one!!!!

The following have won a copy of The Transformation of Things.

Nise' said...


Your likes outweigh your dislikes that I will put this book on my "check it out list". Great review.

Mom vs. the boys said...

I loved your review, honest and thorough!

I'm interested

debbie said...

I think this one sounds really interesting. I liked your what I learned list. I am a gfc follower.

Congrats!! I will email you from my work email and you have 48 hrs to respond or I have to pick another person

Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost: Book Review

Eternal Kiss of Darkness
by Jeaniene Frost
Avon (Harper Collins)
ISBN: 978-0-06-178316-6

Description: An immortal war has been brewing in the darkness…and now one woman has stumbled into the shadows. Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept on walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she’s only imagined in her worst nightmares.

At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master Vampire who thought he’d seen it all. Then Kira appears—this fearless, beautiful…human who braved death to rescue him. Though he burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life, yet sending her away is unthinkable. But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose between the woman he craves, or embracing the darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction

The Good Stuff
  • It's written by Jeaniene Frost 
  • Hot and steamy and fun
  • Absorbing, as usual Frost grabs your attention right away and doesn't let go until the very end, I never can put down any of her books
  • Kira is a great kick ass heroine, even if she does get herself in all spots of trouble. She is compassionate and has an incredible strength of character.  A very realistic heroine who I admire
  • Lots of my favorite secondary characters are in this, but would have likde more Vlad and Hey where was Ian
  • Cat and bones show up, so that is always fun and entertaining
  • I know a lot of people didn't like this one as much as her Cat and Bones stories, but I loved it, loved it, loved it!
  • Lots of Vlad in this story, with his lovely sense of wit -- hoping that JF will do a whole story on him, and cross my fingers,  Ian
The Not so Good Stuff
  • I hate the name Mencheres - reminds me too much of menarche which is basically a women's first menstrual cycle-- sorry male readers of blog
Favorite Quotes/Passages (So very many, could have gone on for pages)

"Cat cleared her throat in the tense silence that followed. “Uh, before this goes any further, let’s at least introduce ourselves to your friend. I’m Cat, and this is my husband, Bones. We’re part of Mencheres’ twisted little fang family"

“First bubble baths. Now Disney parks. You’re shattering every creepy vampire myth I’ve ever heard.”

"Kira knew that his tongue felt like a vibrator set to the speed of Oh Hell Yeah."

"Vampires like you piss me off,’ Vlad muttered.  ‘Leaving a trail of bodies for humans to be suspicious over when there’s no need to kill to feed.  Ever had a mob of villagers armed with torches ad pitchforks burn your house down while screaming ‘death to wampyre!’?  I have, and it’s irritating beyond belief."

"I will not ask for pointers from Dracula, she swore to herself. I will not. “Yeah, I’d feel better about that. So, ah…look into my eyes.”
Another strangled sound came from Vlad’s direction. Now Kira was sure it was a laugh. She was determined to ignore him.
Lewis obediently stared at her, and Kira tried to make her voice sound confident. “You don’t feel anything. You’re not afraid.”
“I am,” came Vlad’s immediate reply. “If you tell him wolves are the children of the night next, I might hurt myself laughing.”

What I Learned
  • Vampires have an extremely dry and witty sense of humour
  • Ceiling sex sounds like tons of fun -- hey Nathan Fillion or Ryan Reynolds -- you interested?
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Obviously long time fans of Jeaniene Frost will enjoy
  • Those who enjoy an exciting and fun ride with hot and steamy sex
  • Not for the prudish or those without a sense of humour
4.5 Dewey's

I bought a copy of the book since I am a big fan of Jeaniene Frost and didn't have to review it, but  I did anyway so there

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby: Book Review

The Clockwork Three
by Matthew J. Kirby
Scholastic Press
ISBN: 978-0-545-20337-1
Suggested Ages: 8 - 14 (And up)


Description: When Giuseppe finds a green violin washed up in New York docks, somehow he knows it will change his life. But how? The very same day, Hannah, a maid at a local hotel, gets a strange new mistress. Why are Madame X and her mysterious Russian minder living in a hotel? What are they hiding from? Across the square, Frederick, a clockmaker's apprentice, hides his dark terrors, and an amazing gift. There is nothing to link these three children, except the green violin and a chance encounter on the street. But soon they are swept away in an epic adventure. This is a mesmerizing story of chance, friendship, and courage.

The Good Stuff
  • Absolutely, positively delightful historical fantasy fiction for the 8-14 range
  • Both girls and boys will adore
  • Absorbing and addictive, I got lost in the story many a time
  • Wonderfully descriptive - you can almost smell and touch your surroundings
  • Intriguing characters introduced one by one so you really get a sense of their personality and their place in the story
  • Heartrendingly sad at times, but also very hopeful
  • Has a bit of Steampunk, fantasy and history all wrapped up into one, even at times a little reminiscent of Oliver Twist
  • Really enjoyed the characters of Madame Pomeroy and Yakov
The Not so Good Stuff
  • Could have taken out maybe 50 pages, but that is only the opinion of an scattered brain 40 year old mom
  • Also the part with the clockwork man should have been left out or developed more - it just didn't fit in, in my opinion
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Stacks and stacks of books lined the walls and stood ready as if they hoped to be on shelves one day."



"But I've learned that in most cases it's best to just keep my opinions to myself." The women laughed, a tinkling, trembling laugh. "Would that everyone were as wise as you."

"But the old fiddle sang so true, so tender, he gave it more life, and more still, until it did not feel like he was playing it at all. And in that moment, it did not matter which instrument he held in his hands."

What I Learned

  • That I am lucky to have been born in this era, to the parents I was born to.
Who should/shouldn't read
  • YA's who prefer a more substantial story
  • Not for those YA's who prefer a lighter story, this is a heavy one
  • A good starter steampunk for the younger set
4 Dewey's

I received this book from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review

Monday, November 22, 2010

In My Mailbox

Won (And for Review)
From CSN - Must Review

From LibraryThing.com

Book Signings (And pics from Steven & Chris Show)
Up Close and Personal

He wants me, you can tell LOL

See we totally have a connection

2 Signed Copies (only 1 shown)

Me and the boys -- btw - they smell really good!

Free stuff we got from the show

Bought From Scholastic Flyer from Jake's School


Purchased
People, for obvious reasons, Book was a suggestion from Vicky at Mom Who Runs
HAD to buy a dress for DH's Xmas Party - he bribed me with Cash & trip to Victoria's Secret

Won

From Bitten By Paranormal Romance
Pure by Alfred Sung Coat from Fashion Magazine Contest
From Dee at Good Choice Reading

From Jenn at Baci on Facebook (Trivia Question)

 

You're Invited to a SILLY event (Toronto area)


Award-winning artist and designer, Gary Taxali, launches  a new line of retro wooden toys designed exclusively for Indigo Books & Music!

These delightful toys are based on characters and illustrations from Gary's  first picture book This is Silly!, published by Scholastic Press.

 Come and be silly on Saturday, November 27th at 2pm at Indigo Manulife!

Event is free and open to the public.

Refreshments will be served.

Mom and Me Mondays: The New Kid at School (Dragon Slayers' Academy #1) Book Review

The New Kid at School (Dragon Slayers' Academy #1) 
by Kate McMullan

Grosset & Dunlap
ISBN: 0- 448-43108-4
Suggested Ages: 7-9

Description: The Dragon Slayers' Academy is back-and it's bigger and better than ever! The books have new covers and are now 112 pages long. Expanded from the old 96-page format, they now feature a fun Dragon Slayers' Academy Yearbook at the end of each story, with funny profiles of the faculty, the staff, and, especially, the students of D.S.A. All the things kids want to know about their favorite characters are revealed: their silly nicknames, inner secrets, wildest dreams, and lofty plans for the future!

When a traveling minstrel foretells that he is to become a hero, Wiglaf sets out to fulfill his destiny: he signs up at the Dragon Slayers' Academy. But how can he ever hope to be a dragon slayer when he can't even stand the sight of blood?

Jake's Review: Mom, this one was a lot of fun and exciting, can you get me the rest of the series?  I liked how at the end --- (Sorry he doesn't understand about spoilers -- so if you don't want to know more stop reading), the way Wiglaf slew the dragon -- that was really different.  I really didn't like Wiglaf's family, they were really mean to him and I would have run away from them a long time ago.  How can anyone eat anything with cabbage -- (please do not tell my child that that is what coleslaw is made from Ok). I thought it was funny that Eric was actually a girl.  I really like books with dragons, they are much better than any of the books they want to read us at school.  If my friends actually read books instead of playing hockey all the time, they would probably like it. I think it is probably more for younger boys, but I still like it.

Jake's Rating: 8/10


Mom's Review: A good starter chapter book for kids interested in fantasy fiction.  Jake really enjoyed it, but I didn't love it as much as he did.  But really who cares that I didn't love it, the target audience will.  The illustrations were delightful and I really enjoyed the added cast of characters and map at the end of the book.  Good storyline but I am  hoping the series develops a little more and we find out more about the other characters. 

Mom's Rating: 7/10

This was recommended to us a year or two ago from Forster's Book Garden

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Starcrossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce: Book Review

Starcrossed (Thief Errant #1)
by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic Inc.)
ISBN: 978-0-545-13605-1
Suggested Age: 13+ (For some mild violence)

Description: Digger thrives as a spy and sneak-thief among the feuding religious factions of Gerse, dodging the Greenmen who have banned all magic. But when a routine job goes horribly wrong and her partner and lover Tegen is killed, she has to get out of the city, fast, and hides herself in a merry group of nobles to do so. Accepted as a lady's maid to shy young Merista Nemair, Digger finds new peace and friendship at the Nemair stronghold--as well as plenty of jewels for the taking. But after the devious Lord Daul catches her in the act of thievery, he blackmails her into becoming his personal spy in the castle, and Digger soon realizes that her noble hosts aren't as apolitical as she thought... that indeed, she may be at the heart of a magical rebellion


The Good Stuff
  • Absolutely absorbing adventure story with substance
  • Realistic, strong and engaging heroine
  • Great for bringing up discussions on moral choices and religious acceptance
  • Wonderful character development and brilliant and breathtaking descriptions of the scenery
  • Intriguing world the author has created, sort of like a mashup between Oliver Twist and a fantasy novel with magic
  • Looking forward to the second book in the series "Liar's Moon"

The Not so Good Stuff
  • Very detailed, so a little tough for speed readers like myself who tend to skip things and have to go back because they missed something that ended up being important
  • Would have liked a little more back-story and development of the secondary characters
  • Won't lie I was a little confused at times, but that has more to do with my limitations than the author's talent - This isn't a light read, you need the time to truly enjoy
  • The Glossary should have been at the beginning, it would have really helped with my confusion
Favorite Quotes/Passages

“You’ll like being no one. It’s better than commonly reported.”
“Is it?”
“Oh, yes. Nobody expects anything of you, nobody makes demands on you, and if nobody knows who you are, you can be anyone you want. I highly recommend it."

"Celyn, why do I think you were probably one of those girls who gave the Holy Daughters fits trying to keep up with your mischief?"

"For a moment I got distracted. Books always did that to me, almost more that a locked jewelery chest or a fat purse dangling from a fat nob.  I liked the creamy pages, the smell of ink, all the secrets locked inside."


What I Learned
  • Being a thief isn't all that bad
  • I seemed to actually like some fantasy novels -- who knew


Who should/shouldn't read
  • Will recommend this one to my  next door neighbors daughter, she will love it, I'm giving my copy to my niece who I know will enjoy it
  • Not for those who enjoy fast paced novels, this one is slow moving but it has meat to it
  • This should be a must purchase for public libraries as well as middle school libraries
  • Great fantasy story for teens -- I would say for the stronger YA readers
4 Dewey's

I received this book from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review

Monday, November 15, 2010

Newest Addition to the Rayment Family

My hubby finally gave in and let me get a Cat.  It's been 6 years since we have had a Cat, and I have missed having one so much.  So lets give a warm welcome to Oreo (We didn't name her, she came with the name)  Sorry the pictures aren't great, but I just took them quickly this morning on the way to work.  We are so happy since she is sleeping with Jake every night and it is making him more comfortable with going to sleep -- trust me -- bed time is hell with Jake.  He is also responsible for making sure she has food and water and that her litter box is clean and this is doing wonders for his confidence -- and gets me out of having to clean up any more crap!



Oreo - 3 Mths - November 15, 2010

Mom and Me Mondays: Eight Days, a Story of Haiti by Edwidge Danticat

Eight Days: A Story of Haiti
by Edwidge Danticat
Illustrated by Alix Delinois
Scholastic
ISBN: 978-0-545-27849-2
Suggested Ages: 7 and up

Description: From National Book Award nominee Edwidge Danticat comes a timely, brilliantly crafted story of hope and imagination--a powerful tribute to Haiti and children around the world! Hope comes alive in this heartfelt and deeply resonating story.
While Junior is trapped for 8 days beneath his collapsed house after an earthquake, he uses his imagination for comfort. Drawing on beautiful, everyday-life memories, Junior paints a sparkling picture of Haiti for each of those days--flying kites with his best friend or racing his sister around St. Marc's Square--helping him through the tragedy until he is finally rescued. Love and hope dance across each page--granting us a way to talk about resilience as a family, a classroom, or a friend

Mom's Note: As mentioned before, Jake has a hard time with books that deal with sadness so it always affects his reviews -- nothing against the talents of the author

Jake's Review: Mom this book is odd looking and I really don't get it.  I did like that it was hopeful about the families that survived the earthquake, but I didn't like the fact that one of the kids died. Although I think it was nicely written for younger kids who probably won't realize that the other kid died. I don't like books like this because they are too serious and I really didn't like that a young boy died.  This would be a good book for teachers to talk to us about though
Jake's Rating: 6/10

Mom's Review:  A beautifully simple and subtle story of the power of imagination and of hope and resiliance.  I did however think the art work was a little too sophisticated for the suggested age. That is just a personal opinion and mostly based on my child's tastes. However, I do think this will be an award winner.  It would be a fantastic addition to a classroom library where a teacher would have the ability to discuss Haiti and the earthquake with the childeren.  I have a feeling though that unless there is some promotion of it in the classroom or the library, that the children will overlook it because of the sophisticated artwork. That being said it really is beautifully and sensitively done. You can really see the author and the illustrator's  love and admiration for Haiti and its people.
Mom's Rating: 8.5/10

We received this book from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Winner of Heat Wave and Naked Heat by Richard Castle

One of these days I have to figure out how to Paste my results from Randomizer

Anyway from 21 Entries Randomizer picked # 9

Jenn H who said "Daniel Silva comes to mind"

This was lots of fun guys, love all your theories

Jenn I will email you and you have 48 hrs to reply or I have to pick someone else

Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders by Kevin Sylvester: Mini Book Review

Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders
by Kevin Sylvester
Key Porter Books
ISBN: 978-1-55470-266-4
Suggested Ages: 9 - 12

Description: Neil FlambĂ© is a fourteen-year-old wunderchef. He can cook anything, and he brags that he can cook it better than anyone else. He`s cocky, but he may also be right. Patrons pay top dollar and wait months for reservations at his tiny, boutique restaurant. What many of Neil’s patrons don’t know is that he’s also a budding detective. It all started when he used his knowledge of cooking and his incredible sense of smell to acquit his mother’s client of murder. Ever since, Police Inspector Sean Nakamura has relied on Neil to help him crack case after case.

Now, the city’s crime scene has taken a turn for the personal. Some of the best chefs in town are turning up dead. The cops are stumped; the only real clues are a mysterious smell and some equally mysterious notes that seem to have something to do with Marco Polo. As more chefs fall prey to the killer, Neil finds himself working not only to solve the murders, but to eliminate himself as the prime suspect!

Book Review: Delightfully fun tale for the 9 - 12 set. Lots of excitement, mystery and intrigue and the plot is not overly obvious so it will keep them guessing at who the murderer is.  There is also some food and historical education done in such a way that the little buggers won't know they are learning something. Hopefully it will also spark their interest in learning more about Marco Polo or even into cooking itself. My only problem with the book is Neil himself. He really comes across as a know-it-all snotty little brat, that it may turn off some readers. Than again, his parents are atrocious so you could understand how he turned out the way he did. By the end, he has learned some lessons and hopefully in the rest of the series, he will become a little more likeable .  Also do not read this on an empty stomach, because you will get seriously hungry while reading.  I wish he was real, so I could sample his Pommes de Terre a la Flambe.  Ohh, almost forgot to mention, the illustrations are wonderful!

3.75 Dewey's

I got this book at the OLA conference last year from Rosalyn Steele at HB Fenn (I think she is with HarperCollins now though) and Kevin Sylvester signed it to Jesse and Jake with a delightful drawing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White: Book Review

Paranormalcy
by Kiersten White
HarperTeen (HarperCollins)
ISBN: 978-0-06-198584-3
Suggested Ages:  12 + (For some violence)

Description: Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie's always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal.


Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

The Good Stuff

  • Absolutely delightful, I just really enjoyed this one
  • Evie reminds me of a young Buffy
  • Tons of cheeky smart ass comments which made me lmao on the bus -- must remember to stop reading fun or sad stuff on the bus, people stare
  • Story runs nice and smoothly with tons of action
  • Unusual story and truly unique
  • Storyline and dialogue kept me immersed in the story and made me not want to put the book down
  • Nice ending to the story, except now I am impatient for the next book in the story
  • Brilliant and fun introductory chapter reminded me of Buffy and from than on, I was pretty sure I was going to love the book
The Not so Good Stuff

  • The book was so much fun and the ending intriguing that I need the next book now -- when the hell is the next book coming out
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Wait - did you - you just yawned!" The vampire's arms, raised over his head in the classic Dracula posed, dropped to his sides. He pulled his exaggerated white fangs behind his lips. "What imminent death isn't exciting enough for you?"

"Oh stop pouting. But, really, the widow's peak? The pale skin? The black cape? Where did you even get that thing, a costume store?"

"Lish tried to swear--which is always funny, because the computer won't translate it. It went something like this: "Bleep stupid bleep bleep faeries and their bleep bleep bleep obsessions. He had better stop bleep bleep bleep the bleep bleep rules or I will bleep bleep bleep the little bleeeeeeeeeeep."

"You could try. And I could taser you again so hard you wouldn't wake up for six hours, giving you even less time to make it to Romania. So, can I keep reading you your rights?" He didn't say anything, and I picked up where I left off. "If you fail to report within the next twelve hours, you will be terminated. If you attack any humans, you will be terminated. If you attempt to remove the tracking device, you will be terminated. We look forward to working with you." I always thought that last line was a nice touch. "



What I Learned

  • That I just plain prefer paranormal books with a quirky sense of humour
  • Man I wish I had Evie's gifts
  • Teens are so lucky, that they have all these fun choices for them to read, better than what we had at their age (wow, I'm feeling old today)
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Teens and adults with a sense of humor and  a love for the paranormal
  • Buffy fans would enjoy
  • Fans of Jennifer Estep, MaryJanice Davidson and Julie Kenner will also enjoy
I got this book from the public library, because so many people had written amazing reviews about it

4.75 Dewey's

Monday, November 8, 2010

Burt's Bees' Natural Anti-Blemish Solutions: Product Review

Burt's Bees' Natural Anti-Blemish Solutions
Purifying Gel Clenser and Targeted Spot Treatment
Manufacturer: Burt's Bees'

Good Stuff
  • Really works, got rid of my blemishes within 2 days
  • Your face feels nice and clean, but not tight.  
  • General overall appearance of skin looks soft and smooth
  • I don't have a huge problem with blemishes, so its probably a little wasted on me, but when they do pop up, this stuff gets rid of it super quick
  • I also used it when I ran out of my regular cleanser and it didn't irritate my sensitive skin
  • Not tested on animals
  • Does not cause redness, itching or burning (Even the little stinging sensation with the spot treatment goes away very quickly)
  • Does not contain parabens or phthalates (or any other nasty chemical crap)
  • Available pretty much everywhere in Canada
Not So Good Stuff
  • smell is a little strong, but not horribly unpleasant
  • Spot Treatment stings a little 
  • A little pricey, but hey if it works
  • Accidentally got a little in my mouth and just have to say seriously yucky tasting - hopefully you are not as much of a spaz as me
Who Should/Shouldn't Use

  • Would definitely recommend it more for people who prone to regular outbreaks of blemishes (does that make sense -- must get coffee soon)
  • This would be great for teens
  • This would be great for my niece and my neighbors daughter, will be dropping off some coupons later
Price: $14.99

If you are interested in a coupon for $10 off, I have 5 left, just leave me your email in the comments section



I received this item from BzzAgent in exchange for an honest review

ZooBorns: The Newest, Cutest Animals from the World's Zoos and Aquariums: Brief Book Review

ZooBorns: The Newest, Cutest Animals from the World's Zoos and Aquariums
by Andrew Bleiman and Chris Eastland
Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4391-9531-4

Description: ZooBorns showcases the newest and cutest animal babies from accredited zoos and aquariums around the world. With interesting animal facts and background stories on the featured babies, ZooBorns illustrates the connections between zoo births and conservation initiatives in the wild.

Book Review: Just buy the book, its so frickin adorable you will just fall in love with it.  Trust me!  Stunningly adorable pictures, interesting facts, and it is very inexpensive -- yup I am getting me a copy for the in-laws for xmas. Mom in law volunteers at the Metro Toronto Zoo, so I know she will love it. Also you are doing something good by purchasing it, as a portion of all proceeds from sales goes directly to the AZA's Conservation Endowment Fund. Only complaints with book are there is only 1 animal from the Toronto Zoo and not enough pictures of Otters (I love them).  Why are you still reading -- get thee to a book store now -- and get me a copy while you are at it ; )

5 Dewey's

ZooBorns Blog
Otters (THE best animal EVER)

This picture is from Blog not the book


I borrowed this copy from Natasha, and now I have to go return it to  her -- hmm, think she will notice if I "forget"

In My Mailbox

It was a pretty good 2 weeks since my last posting

To Review
From Library Thing

From GoodReads

Won
From Fashion Magazine

Book Signings

Russell Peters - Chapters Brampton

Cassandra Clare and Holly Black - Chapters Queensway (Got a nice goody bag too)

Holly Black and Cassandra Clare - Chapters Queensway