Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Tour: Review & Giveaway of The Misadventures of P.I.P. by Donna Peterson



Welcome to the Virtual Blog Tour for The Misadventures of Phillip Isaac Penn. I have a review and giveaway for this wonderful children's book. 



Title:The Misadventures of P.I.P.
Author:Donna Peterson
Publisher:Cedar Ford
Imprint:Bonneville Books
Pub. Date:06/08/2011
ISBN:9781599558936
Pages:96


Pip, whose real name is Phillip Isaac Penn, feels that the world is against him as he struggles to deal with angry parents, a bossy older sister, a frazzled teacher, and memorable characters such as Bully Bart, Cheater Chaz, Know-It-All Nell, Liar Lizzy, Stealer Steffan, Conman Cody, and Tattle-Tale Tess. Every day of the week brings another challenge that Pip handles in his own endearing way. Yet, no matter how hard he tries, he realizes that it’s just not easy being a kid.


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This book was adorable. It follows a week in the life of Phillip Isaac Pen, or Pip. He's your typical young boy, always getting into trouble. Sometimes he's innocent, sometimes he's not. He is always fun though. Each chapter begins a day, often with Pip already getting into trouble before the day begins. Each chapter also highlights a particular person causing Pip trouble.

I had fun reading this, remembering what it was like to grow up with brothers. Pip may get into trouble, but he always means well. I like that Pip readily acknowledged what he might have been able to do differently in each situation. He understood that even with good intentions, some things should not be done. The illustrations were so cute. This will be a great book for younger children who are just starting chapter books. It even includes questions at the end for some great discussion with your kids! Overall, it was a very enjoyable children's book.

Galley provided by publisher for review.


And now for the fun part! I am hosting a giveaway for this book.


The only requirement is to like the Facebook page.
Bonus entries for following my blog and tweeting about this giveaway.


The best news is this giveaway is open internationally! This giveaway will run from May 31st to the end of the book tour on June 7th. The winner will be decided by random.org and announced on sometime on June 8th. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Thanks for stopping by, and good luck!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Blackberry Summer by RaeAnne Thayne


Title:Blackberry Summer
Author:RaeAnne Thayne
Publisher:Harlequin
Imprint:HQN Books
Pub. Date:05/31/2011
ISBN:9780373775934
Pages:384



Claire Bradford needed a wake-up call.

What she didn't need was a tragic car accident. As a single mom and the owner of a successful bead shop, Claire leads a predictable life in Hope's Crossing, Colorado. So what if she has no time for romance? At least, that's what she tells herself, especially when her best friend's sexy younger brother comes back to town as the new chief of police.

But when the accident forces Claire to slow down and lean on others—especially Riley McKnight—she realizes, for the first time, that things need to change. And not just in her own life. The accident—and the string of robberies committed by teenagers that led up to it—is a wake-up call to the people of Hope's Crossing. The sense of community and togetherness had been lost during those tough years. But with a mysterious "Angel of Hope" working to inspire the town, Riley and Claire will find themselves opening up to love and other possibilities by the end of an extraordinary summer….



(Summary and cover via Goodreads)

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I'm sort of torn over this book. There were parts I loved, and parts I didn't really like much. In fairness, I'm not really a romance fan. I guess I should say I'm not an UST/angst fan. There seemed to be a lot of that in this book. The constant pining made me want to tear my hair out. I just want them to make up their minds and get on with it. 

That being said, there were some really fantastic parts of this book. I loved the sense of community in this small town. The author did a really great job of making me feel like I was a part of a small-knit group. The women had really great interactions with each other. I also loved the concept of the benefit at the end of the book. It was truly uplifting. The ending seemed a bit abrupt, but I didn't feel that took away from the book overall.

If you are looking for angsty romance,  you will probably love this book. I could have done without that, but I did enjoy the rest of the book. It will be a great beach read I think. It's pretty light and predictable, but it is still a fun read.

Galley provided by publisher for review.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Review: Elisha's Bones by Don Hoesel



Title:Elisha's Bones
Author:Don Hoesel
Publisher:Bethany House
Pub. Date:03/01/2009
ISBN:0764205609
Pages:352



Every year, professor of antiquities Jack Hawthorne looks forward to the winter break as a time to hide away from his responsibilities. Even if just for a week or two. But this year, his plans are derailed when he's offered almost a blank check from a man chasing a rumor.


Billionaire Gordon Reese thinks he knows where the bones of the prophet Elisha are--bones that in the Old Testament brought the dead back to life. A born skeptic, Jack doesn't think much of the assignment but he could use the money, so he takes the first step on a chase for the legendary bones that will take him to the very ends of the earth. But he's not alone. Joined with a fiery colleague, Esperanza Habilla, they soon discover clues to a shadowy organization whose long-held secrets have been protected . . . at all costs. As their lives are threatened again and again, the real race is to uncover the truth before those chasing them hunt them down.


(Summary and cover via Goodreads)


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This was a fairly interesting read. It revolved around Jack Hawthorne, an archaeologist who is hired to prove the existence of Elisha's bones, an ancient relic said to have the power over life. This search takes him all over the world and gets him involved with some mysterious organizations. Naturally adventure and peril follow him as well.

The concept behind the relic was interesting. The book is also a fairly fast read. There was a lot of action. In fact, I almost felt there was too much going on. You never really got a chance to breath, and you almost want Dr. Hawthorne to stop talking to people because a perilous situation inevitably followed. Who knew the world of antiquities could be so dangerous? The plot also seemed to jump a bit in time from one chapter end to the next chapter beginning. It could feel a bit choppy at times.

After all that adventure, the ending felt a bit sudden. Perhaps a bit random too (although apparently this was meant to be Christian fiction, so maybe not?). Overall, I didn't think it was a bad book. It was pretty entertaining at times. I'm just glad I'm not friends with an archaeologist. Looks like it's pretty dangerous.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011



Welcome to the Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop!

This hop is sponsored by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Page Turners Blog.


First of all, thanks for making my last giveaway such a huge success! It was a great experience, so I'm back again. What's the prize this time?


A $10 Amazon Gift Card!


For our international friends, you can get a book worth $10 or less from Book Depository. Please ensure they ship to your country.


So here's how you enter:

Mandatory entry: Follow my blog on Google Friend Connect
-Currently it looks like GFC is down. Please go ahead and enter. I trust you would follow if you could. This will not be held against you. Thanks!

+1 entry for friending on Goodreads
+1 entry for following on Twitter
+1 entry for tweeting about this contest

To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest runs from May 25th to May 31st. Winner will be decided by random.org  and then announced on this blog sometime on June 1st. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to e-mail or a new winner will be picked. Please be sure to check out all the blogs in the hop (a full list is at the end of this post). Thanks for stopping by and GOOD LUCK!




Review: Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott


Title:
Between Here and Forever
Author:
Elizabeth Scott
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Imprint:
Simon Pulse
Pub. Date:
06/07/2011
ISBN:
141699484X (ISBN13: 9781416994848)
Pages:
256





Abby accepted that she can’t measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible. 

Until the accident. 

Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby’s life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it's nothing compared to living without her. 

She's got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she’d never seen. 

Abby is about to find out that truth isn't always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could...



(Summary and cover via Goodreads)
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I'm really of two minds about this book. On the one hand there were some really fabulous elements to it. I think the story line was very interesting. It follows Abby, a girl who has always been in her older sister Tess's shadow. Following a car accident, Tess in now in  coma, and Abby feels secondary to Tess even more. Through the course of the book, Abby learns all about who her sister really was. This makes it easier to accept herself.

There were a lot of secrets in this book. The "big" one was pretty easy to guess from the beginning. I also appreciate that there was some diversity in the characters as well. The big problem I had was that I didn't like the main character. It seemed like every other sentence was Abby complaining about how she could never be perfect like her older sister. This didn't change until the very end, when there was sudden growth in character. Everything was then resolved in a flash. Until that point however, I just wanted Abby to STOP COMPLAINING. Her problems didn't really seem that big compared to some other characters, all of which were much easier to be sympathetic too. Probably because they didn't constantly obsess about their issues.

This will be a nice, fast summer read, if you can get past the main character. If you like tons of angst with a little romance on the side, you'll probably enjoy this book much more than I did. I guess I was a little disappointed because it seemed like it could be a great book. Some of the phrasing was fantastic. I could never get past my dislike of Abby though. In the end it was good, just not great.

Galley provided by publisher for review

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Review: The Resisters by Eric Nylund






Title:The Resisters
Author:Eric Nylund
Publisher:Random House Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date:04/26/2011
ISBN:0375868569
Pages:210





In the tradition of Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury, million-copy bestselling Halo author and game developer Eric Nylund brings action-packed science fiction to a young audience with this riveting children's debut. Twelve-year-old Ethan Blackwood has always known exactly what he wanted — to win the state soccer championship, get into the best high school, and become an astronaut. Then he meets Madison and Felix, who tell him something . . . insane. They claim that 50 years ago, aliens took over the earth, and everyone past puberty is under their mind control. Ethan doesn't believe it. But then he sees for himself the aliens' monster bug robots and the incredible way that Madison and Felix have learned to fight them. So Ethan Blackwood has a choice: he can go back to his normal, suburban, protected lie of a life — or he can become a Resister. This is science fiction on the lines of Scott Westerfield and Cory Doctorow for middle graders.



(Summary and cover via Goodreads)
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This was a very fun book! The Resisters is the story of Ethan Blackwood. A sports and science standout at his school, Ethan's future is looking very bright. Then he meets two strangers who tell him that his world is not as it seems. His life is quickly turned upside down, and he begins a new adventure.

The action goes at a quick pace. It's exciting, but still age appropriate. It reads a bit like a video game, with lots of action punctuated by some story thrown in there. I think it's a great summer read for kids, especially ones who enjoy video games. It should keep their interest, but also brings up good points about thinking for yourself. The book goes by very quickly, and it leaves you wanting more.

I think this is a great kid's book. It will get them involved in the story quickly, and the characters are easy to relate too. I think it can serve as a gateway book for kids to show them that they can be just as exciting and fun as other forms of entertainment. Any book that can get kids reading is awesome to me.

Book won on Goodreads.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review: Brandon Marlowe and the Spirit Snatcher by Eric Livingston


Title:
Brandon Marlowe and the Spirit Snatcher
Author:        Eric Livingston
Publisher:
iUniverse, Incorporated
Pub Date:

02/11/2011
ISBN:
1450292208
Pages:          216



It's hard enough being a teenage boy, let alone a teenage boy with supernatural powers derived from Gods. In ancient times, the Gods warred with the Titans. The Titans fell, but the Gods' need for power never ceased. Soon, they channeled their powers into humans, known as "Demigods," who could fight their fights for them. Brandon Marlowe is among the cherished few, but life is no easier for him than other boys.

He attends school in Tartarus, where a hidden training center exists to cater to these special children. There, Brandon is surrounded by other kids, who are raised and trained to fight the remaining evil Gods and their Demon minions. In Brandon's world, threats are always emerging, and he must be prepared. Soon, he will be ready-sent to battle, like so many before him, in a war to save the human race.

However, Brandon's troubles are much closer to home. His older brother has died, and no one knows why. As Brandon prepares to enter the massive battle of God versus man, it becomes his mission to discover the cause of his brother's death and to punish the guilty. But will his quest for vengeance get in the way of his divine battle? And will his world collapse beneath the weight of the truth?



(Summary and cover via Goodreads)
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When I first read the book description, I thought this was going to be a Percy Jackson clone. However, it was much different. Brandon Marlowe is an elemental titan, and he has power over the wind. He attends a school in Tartarus where he is learning to fight. When we first meet Brandon, he is starting a new school year where he is sorted into a class. When Brandon joins a "squad" with two other students, his adventure really begins.

I enjoyed this book very much. Brandon is very sure of himself and his abilities, and this makes for a lot of action. Brandon, his friends, and his squad are great fun. Scene changes could seem a bit abrupt at times, but they certainly kept the action going at a quick pace. There were a few mysteries that were never quite answered, and I desperately want to know the answers to them. This book had some very interesting concepts that felt original and fun. I hope the author keeps writing, because I definitely want to see what happens next!

Copy of book won in online contest.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Review: The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing by Darina Al-Joundi


Title:
The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing
Author:        Darina Al-Joundi with Mohamed Kacimi
Translator:  Marjolijn de Jager 
Publisher:
The Feminist Press at CUNY
Pub Date:

03/01/2011
ISBN:
1558616837
Pages:          144


Raised on Charles Baudelaire, A Clockwork Orange, and fine Bordeaux in 1970s Lebanon, Darina Al-Joundi was encouraged by her unconventional father to defy all taboos. As the bombs fell, she lived an adolescence of excess and transgression, defying death in nightclubs. The more oppressive the country became, the more drugs and anonymous sex she had, fueling the resentment by day of the same men who would spend the night with her. As the war dies down, she begins to incur the consequences of her lifestyle. On his deathbed, her father's last wish is for his favorite song, "Sinnerman" by Nina Simone, to be played at his funeral instead of the traditional suras of the Koran. When she does just that, the results are catastrophic.

In this dramatic true story, Darina Al-Joundi is defiantly passionate about living her life as a liberated woman, even if it means leaving everyone and everything behind.

Darina Al-Joundi was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1968. "The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing" is also the title of her critically acclaimed one-person show, which was performed in France, where she now lives as an actress, screenwriter, and filmmaker. She is planning a US tour of the show in 2011.



(Summary and cover via Goodreads)
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Unsettling doesn't even begin to describe this book. For such a short book, it was a hard read. This book follows the life of Darina Al-Joundi. Born in Beirut in 1968, her life was one of constant chaos. In times of almost constant war, Darina grew up never knowing if she'd live to see the next day. Her family constantly moved around to avoid the danger around then, but often ended up back in Beirut. 

I can't say that I enjoyed this book per se, but it was a good book. Darina had no identity to speak of. Because of her parentage, she had no claim to citizenship anywhere. She was told to speak one language at home and one at school. With no stability due to the war, her life was one of chaos. Thinking she would die at any moment, she threw herself into drugs and sex with anyone she ran into. Honestly, I thought it was a wonder she survived to tell her story. 

This was certainly a sad tale. It was also cautionary to some extent. The horrors of extended war are detailed. More than anything though, I felt like Darina really missed out on security and stability while growing up. Without those things, she bounced from one thing to the next trying to find what could make her feel good about herself. This book was harsh, but I think she was brave to be able to tell about everything that happened. I am curious to find out if she has found some peace living her life on her terms now. I hope she has.  

Book won in online contest.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Review: The Summer Before Boys by Nora Raleigh Baskin



Title:
The Summer Before Boys
Author:        Nora Raleigh Baskin
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Imprint:     Simon & Schuster
                  Books for Young Readers
Pub Date:

05/20/2011
ISBN:
1416986731
Pages:          208




Julia and Eliza are best friends, spending the summer together. Julia's mother is serving in the National Guard and Julia spends all of her time trying not to think about what could happen. So the girls lose themselves in their summer, hanging out at the resort where Eliza's father works. But when they meet a new boy, neither one of them is prepared for what it does to their friendship.


Nora Raleigh Baskin delivers a poignant look at the way a first crush can come between best friends and the importance of hanging on to the time you have as a kid before rushing into growing up.



(Summary and cover via Goodreads)
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The Summer Before Boys was a couple stories in one. The first deals with the that time in life where we begin to lose our youth and become interested in things like boys. The other story is about the sacrifices that member of our Armed Forces and their families make during times of war and deployments. Both stories are intertwined in a simple and beautiful manner.

Julia and Eliza are best friends and relatives. They love to read and pretend. They read the classics- Little Women and Little House On the Prairie. There is magic all around them as they imagine the lives of these characters and create there own. However, at 12 years old, things are beginning to change for Julia at least. Sometimes she can't see the same things Eliza sees. Julia's also begun to notice boys. One boy in particular. This change threatens to tear Julia and Eliza apart.

The other part of the story is the part that touched me the most. Julia's mom is serving as a nurse in Iraq. The current summer near the end of her deployment is mixed in with flashbacks to the past year, when Julia and another student were sent to special counciling for students with deployed parents. The worry and longing for her mother's safe return is so strong. Nora Raleigh Baskin did a particularly good job in describing what it's like to have a parent serving  in the military far away from home. It was a wonderful reminder of what the families of our men and women in uniform must go through not only while their loved ones are away, but also how different things can be when they come back.

I found this book to be so moving and real. I understood these girls. I was always reading the same books as they did. I could see myself in their shoes. I also appreciated the harsh realities of war and having a mom so far away. Julia went through so many emotions while her mom was gone, and I felt them right along with her. I think everyone should read this to really understand what kind of things the families of our service members can go through. The worry of not knowing if your loved one is safe. The agony of missing a simple phone call because you never know when you may get another. I ended the book with a heart for of thankfulness for both our service men and women and their families. This was such a good book, and I hope everyone will read it.

Galley provided by publisher for review.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Review: The Diva Doctrine by Patricia V. Davis


Title:
The Diva Doctrine
Author:        Patricia V. Davis
Publisher:
Ceder Fort
Imprint:     Bonneville Books
Pub Date:
05/01/2011
ISBN:
9781599554808
Pages:          160



Patricia V. Davis may be the first to tell you she's an expert in failed relationships. But ask any of the readers who helped a post on her advice blog go viral, and they'll say that whether you're wide-eyed twenty-something dreamer, the world's grooviest grandma, or something in between, there's no one better able to help you on your way to becoming a True Diva!

(Summary and cover via Goodreads)

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I find it a little hard to review a book that is "self-help." I will say that I enjoyed this book a lot! It is a fun, fast read. I agreed with so many points Patricia Davis makes, and I think many others will too. The book is based on a blog post that went viral, and it's easy to see why it became so popular.

First of all, some time is spent on the true definition of "diva." We're not talking about someone who is selfish and demanding, ready for their close-ups on any number of reality shows. No, we're talking about confident, self-assured, smart, sexy, and powerful women. In this case, diva is something positive. A diva is never demeaning or rude to others, but they do know how to stand up for themselves when needed. A great deal of time in the book is spent on the issue of self esteem in women. It's a topic that comes up a lot, but then I think it's because a lot of the issues we have as women can be directly related to feelings of self-worth. Or lack there of. Other things that are touched on are being healthy, being financially secure, and being happy in your personal life.

The writing is whimsical and fun. I found myself nodding my head in agreement on many things. One of my favorite pieces of advice was to always listen to and learn about many points of view, especially in politics. I think this book has so many good things for women of all ages and in all stages of life. In fact, if you are a more mature woman, the entire last chapter is dedicated to you! I encourage every woman to read this book and find their inner diva.

Galley provided by publisher for review.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: Following My Toes by Laurel Osterkamp


Title:
Following My Toes
Author:        Laurel Osterkamp
Publisher:
PMI Books
Pub Date:
04/23/2006
ISBN:
1933826274
Pages:          235










Even if nobody believes her, Faith Emerson knows she’s psychic. After all, she totally saw it coming when Peter, her boyfriend of two years, dumped her for her best friend. 

Heartbroken, Faith needs a fresh start. So when her good friend Carolyn suggests she move from Duluth to Minneapolis, Faith takes the plunge and embarks on a new adventure. However, Faith soon learns things don’t always go as planned when she’s forced to deal with a coffee shop customer from hell, a bruised tailbone, a phone-sex operator roommate, a freeloading little sister, her parents’ taxidermy convention, and a new love interest who may be stalking her. Yet every time Faith tries to rely on her perceptive abilities, friends or family accuse her of being self-involved.

Faith believes in love, but knows she must solve the stalker mystery before she can trust any of the new men in her life. In the process she discovers that she has more to learn about following her heart and following her instincts than she ever imagined.

Following My Toes is a tale of love and forgiveness, told with humor and a fresh, innovative voice!

Laurel Osterkamp has been a comedy writer for Minneapolis performance groups over the last seven years. She currently teaches creative writing to high school students, and lives in Minneapolis with her husband and son. This is her first novel.



(Summary and cover via Goodreads)



 **********************************************

Following My Toes is the story of Faith, a maybe psychic who loves to follow her feelings. The story actually starts with Faith and two others being abducted, and then we get a giant flashback to see how they got to that point. I find the term "chick lit" gets a bad rap amongst many readers, but this was chick lit in the best senses of the word. It was fun. There were break-ups, make-ups, friendships, and entirely new lives. The cast of characters was hilarious. I think I'd have a hard time picking a favorite, but if forced I'd probably choose Faith's eccentric roommate Missy. Missy was a free spirit who was loads of fun.

The ending was not entirely unpredictable, but twists and turns are not what this book is about. It's about exploring the intricacies of various relationships and forgiveness. Can Faith forgive people who have wronged her? Is forgiveness really necessary to truly move on with your life after you've been hurt? Can being introspective about our own feelings blind us to everything else in the world around us? All of these are touched upon with a lightly humorous touch. I found myself laughing many times. The ending was satisfying and made sense for all the characters and their quirks.

I kind of thought we'd get to the actual explanation of the abduction from the first few pages sooner, but that didn't take away from my enjoyment. Overall, I found this book to be fun and funny, while still providing several things to think about. In the end, I felt like the characters were old friends I would love to keep hanging out with. And I definitely want to know where they are going from here.

Copy of book won in website giveaway.