Sunday, October 28, 2012

Blog Tour & Review: The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson



Title: The Reluctant Bachelorette
Author: Rachael Anderson
Publisher: HEA Publishing (September 2012)

Source: Received from author via I Am A Reader, Not A Writer Book Blasts & Blog Tours

Buy ebook: here

Buy paperback: here  

About the Book:
Unknowingly cast as the bachelorette for her town’s charity event, Taycee Emerson wants out. Especially when she discovers her old teenage crush, Luke Carney, is one of the bachelors and it's up to the viewers--not her--to decide which bachelors stay or go.

Coerced into participating, Taycee does what any self-preserving girl would do. She launches a subtle attack on Luke’s good name with the hope of getting him voted off the show. Unfortunately, Luke's an eye-for-an-eye kind of guy, and when he discovers what she's up to, it means revenge.

But when their pranks go south, will they screw up any chance they have at a future together, or will they be able to forgive and forget and prove that love really does conquer all?

Review:
What a fun read! This was the perfect chick-lit, clean romance read. I used to like watching the show "The Bachelor/Bachelorette." I actually watched the first few seasons. It was such an intriguing idea that you could find love on reality TV show. Nowadays, with all the breakups and messy relationships, it's lost a lot of its flair, but I love that this book used this show as a premise for a sweet love story.

I loved the characters, especially Taycee. She was the perfect girl-next-door character and I just loved the budding relationship between her and Luke. It was so sweet and playful. Almost reminiscent of young first love. Plus, the dialogue was so witty! I love it when the dialogue isn't just filler, but actual substance. Lastly, all the other characters each had their own personalities which added variety and flair to the story. Fun all around!

This was a quick, fun, humorous, entertaining read. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for some light and clean romance. I look forward to reading more of Anderson's books in the future. (I've had Minor Adjustments on my to-read list for what seems like forever!)

Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

About the Author: Rachel Renee Anderson
Rachael Anderson is the author of four contemporary romances: Divinely Designed, Luck of the Draw, Minor Adjustments, and The Reluctant Bachelorette. She's the mother of four, can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Princess books at Lowes



Who knew you could read princess books while sitting in a pink chair at Lowes? ;)
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Friday, October 12, 2012

Our next read aloud!


Lily's catching up on some recommended 5th grade Common Core literature. :) 

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin is our next read aloud! I've never read it before so I'm excited! :)



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Monday, October 8, 2012

MMGM: Babymouse #1 Queen of the World by Jennifer Holm


Title: Babymouse Queen of the World! (Babymouse #1)
Authors: Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
Publisher: Random House Children's Books (Dec. 2005)

Source: Bought from Scholastic Book Clubs
Summary from Goodreads:
It’s the same thing every day for Babymouse. Where is the glamour? The excitement? The adventure? Nothing ever changes, until . . . Babymouse hears about Felicia Furrypaws’s exclusive slumber party. Will Babymouse get invited? Will her best friend, Wilson, forgive her if she misses their monster movie marathon? Find out in Babymouse: Queen of the World, a graphic novel with attitude!
Review:
Like I mentioned in a previous post, I'm adding more graphic novels to my classroom library so I thought I'd do some reading to check out what all the fuss is about regarding Babymouse. After reading it, it looks like I've been missing out!

What a cute graphic novel! I love all the pink and it really fits Babymouse because she's a girly girl all the way through. The graphics are eye-catching and easy to read, even though it doesn't have a lot of words on each page. Babymouse is a fun character because of her wild imagination. This first book follows Babymouse on the quest to get invited to a popular girl's sleepover. She will do ANYTHING to go!

My only complaint is that it might be confusing for some readers to keep up with what's reality in the story and what's going on in her head as a daydream or what she's imagining. She goes in and out of her imagination so frequently that I could see a reader losing track of what's going on in the story. Also, it's target audience is definitely young, preteen girls. I'm not sure I know many boys who'd pick up a pink book about a mouse and read it in front of his friends. More power to the ones who would though!

Looking forward to adding this series to my library!

Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

About the Author: Jennifer L. Holm

Jennifer L. Holm is a NEW YORK TIMES bestselling children's author and the recipient of three Newbery Honors for her novels OUR ONLY MAY AMELIA, PENNY FROM HEAVEN, and TURTLE IN PARADISE. Jennifer collaborates with her brother, Matthew Holm, on two graphic novel series -- the popular Babymouse series and the bestselling Squish series. She is also the author of several other highly praised books, including the Boston Jane trilogy and MIDDLE SCHOOL IS WORSE THAN MEATLOAF. She lives in California with her husband and two children.

Author's website: http://www.jenniferholm.com/


If you would like to find out more about Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday, you can check out Shannon Messenger's blog here.

Friday, October 5, 2012

I heart Powells!


What I love about buying books from Powells is that even though it's a "used" book, it's still beautiful like a brand new one. That and supporting indie bookstores!!!



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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Longing for autumn...


I could do without the snowy winters, but I wouldn't mind having a real fall. 

Who's with me?


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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Banned Books Week 2012

It's Banned Books Week again and I am definitely celebrating the right to read.


From the ALA website:
For the second year in a row, the American Library Association along with the cosponsors of Banned Books Week is hosting the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out. Check out the special Banned Books Virtual Read-Out channel on YouTube to view the videos.



Get informed here

Monday, October 1, 2012

MMGM: Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett J Krosoczka

Title: Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute (Lunch Lady #1)
Author/Illustrator: Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (July 2009)

Source: Bought from bookstore
Summary from Goodreads:
Serving justice . . . and lunch!

Hector, Terrence, and Dee have always wondered about their school lunch lady. What does she do when she isn’t dishing out the daily special? Where does she live? Does she have a lot of cats at home? Little do they know, Lunch Lady doesn’t just serve sloppy joes—she serves justice! Whatever danger lies ahead, it’s no match for LUNCH LADY!
Review:
I've been wanting to read the Lunch Lady series for awhile now. Just love the idea of a lunch lady with superhero-like powers. Unfortunately, lunch ladies are positioned so low on the totem pole of a school family in a child's eyes because they are usually the person they blame for the "awful" cafeteria meals. The great thing about this series is that the lunch lady is far from a normal, boring person... she's a bad ass!

I love the graphics in this book. It uses minimal colors, but that doesn't mean it's not full of details. It's drawn very well and is easy to read. Some graphic novels are hard to follow and are not as intuitive as others. Lunch Lady is a quick and fun read.

The best thing about the lunch lady character, in my opinion, are her gadgets. Every super hero needs a sidekick who invents super cool gadgets, right? My favorite is her spatula which turns into a mini-helicopter. So cool! Her milk-cam, spork phone and fish stick nunchucks are just a few of her other tools. A lunch lady who fights bad guys?! What more do you need?

I highly recommend Lunch Lady to anyone looking for a good graphic novel for MG readers. Highly entertaining and full of action, even for adults! 

Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

About the Author: Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Jarrett J. Krosoczka has been passionate about storytelling through words and pictures since he was a kid.  He began his professional career by illustrating educational readers for a national publisher while still an undergraduate at Rhode Island School of Design. Then, just six months after graduation, Jarrett received his first contract for a trade book that he authored. Knopf Books for Young Readers published Good Night, Monkey Boy on June 12, 2001 and Jarrett hasn’t stopped or slowed down since. He currently has  authored and illustrated eighteen published books—ten picture books and eight graphic novels. His Lunch Lady series has twice won a Children's Choice Book Award, in the Third to Fourth Grade Book of the Year category, and was nominated for a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award. In the summer of 2013, Jarrett will have his chapter book debut with the publication of Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked. His Punk Farm and Lunch Lady series are both currently in development as feature films. While Jarrett awaits seeing his work adapted for the silver screen, he can be heard on The Book Report with JJK, his new radio segment on Sirius XM's Kids Place Live. Jarrett is happily living out his childhood dream in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he resides with his wife and daughters and their pug, Ralph Macchio.

Author's website: http://www.studiojjk.com/index.html


If you would like to find out more about Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday, you can check out Shannon Messenger's blog here.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Our little reader


Our little reader.



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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Upcoming reviews!


Upcoming reviews from Atria Books! 


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Monday, September 24, 2012

MMGM: 1st Quarter Book Highlights in Mrs. Ko's Class

So, I thought I'd do more posts on my life as a teacher. I feel like my blog is a little schizophrenic at times and I don't fully portray who I am in all facets of my life, so here we go.

I teach 5th grade at a school in South San Diego. I've taught 5th grade for over 8 years now. I love the age and everything about the kids in 5th grade.

My favorite thing about teaching, and subconsciously probably the main reason I became a teacher in the first place, is sharing my love of reading with my students. I haven't perfected it, but I'd like to think of myself as a little bit of "book whisperer" at my school. I have parents that constantly come back to tell me how much I've changed their child's life by helping them to love books. THAT is the biggest compliment I can get as a teacher.

Unfortunately because of the deep budget cuts in education, our school library is only open two days a week, which means our kids have very limited access to the MANY books just sitting on the shelves waiting to be checked out. :( The worst part of it is my kids have limited access to the nonfiction titles in the school library. I only have one shelf of nonfiction in my classroom library.


However, the upside to this is the my students are mostly relying on my classroom library to feed their reading appetites this year. Lucky for them, they're in MY class this year and their teacher owns more than 1200+ books. The great thing is that my kids are digging deeper into my library than I've had for many years now and I am so excited that they're exploring different genres and authors. I can't wait for the next Scholastic book order to add more titles that I think they'll love! :)

Each year, I love seeing which books/series catch on and spreads like fire in my class. Without fail, Goosebumps always catches on each year and so does The Lightning Thief, but there are several unexpected "fires" going strong right now and I wanted to share that with you.

Without further ado, here's a list of the BOOK HIGHLIGHTS in my classroom as of 1st quarter:

39 Clues
I have waited and waited for years for this series to catch on in my classroom. I planted a little seed in one kid this year who was seeking a mystery book and started him off on Book One. Now, I have four or five other kids who can't wait to get their hands on the first book. YES! I haven't personally read this series myself, but have heard the best things about it, so YAY!!! Looks like now I can finally justify buying more of them for our classroom library!


Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Each year, I'm always surprised by how many kids have NOT read Diary of a Wimpy Kid by the time they reach 5th grade, but when they do they just devour them one after another. I don't have to push these books at all, which is awesome. I just wish it had a better message. I've only read the first one, but based off of my student's reading journal letters, it sounds like there's a LOT of bullying going on. I'd really hate to promote something that's promoting bullying, but I guess I'll have to read more to see what it's really about. Does anyone have any insight into this series they can share with me?


Magic School Bus
I inherited a huge tub of Magic School Bus books from my mother-in-law who was also an elementary school for many years. Year and year, I wished someone would pick one up and I don't know WHO started reading them this year, but they are probably the most read books in my classroom at the moment. I LOVED Magic School Bus as a kid, so it's exciting to see a new generation enjoy them. And they aren't reading just one, they are reading all of them.


Beverly Cleary books
I must have read every single Beverly Cleary book when I was a kid. Our school library was pretty small, but it was always stocked with Beverly Clearly books. Beverly Cleary is one of the few authors where I actually have 2 tubs full of their books. I love that I have a few students who are just plowing through all of her books and I'm happy to say that they aren't ALL GIRLS either! :)




Who Was? biographies
I have tons of biographies. I think I own almost every single "Who Was?" biography there is out there. Same thing like the other books mentioned above, year after year, I have kids dabble in and out of this tub, but right now there's a little "fire" building for biographies. My Who Was Anne Frank? is MIA at the moment and I have another kid asking me for it. Looks like we need to add more too our library!



I have Donalyn Miller's 40 Book Challenge (from her book The Book Whisperer) to thank for the diversity of books my students are reading this year. This is the first year that I'm fully implementing the challenge and I know that my kids are finally venturing out into different genres because of it.

Now if only I can get them digging into my historical fiction tubs!

Plans for next quarter:
I am planning on building my graphic novels tub in my library because I want to give my kids more options other than Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I think @mrschureads and especially @colbysharp have me SOLD on Babymouse, so that's next on my to-buy list. :)

Here's to many, many more FIRES this year!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Blog Tour & Review: Don't Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde



Title: Don't Let Me Go
Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde

Source: Received from author via Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Buy book here: Don't Let Me Go ebook at Amazon or paperback
THE Kindle edition IS FREE TODAY 9/21 AND TOMORROW  9/22!
Review:
What a great story. This book grabbed me from the beginning and I couldn't put it down because I just LOVED (and my heart just ached) for the main character, Grace. She's not the perfect character, but you couldn't help but adore her in this story.

This book reminds me a lot of So B. It by Sarah Weeks because both books follow a young girl who is trying to survive life pretty much on her own without the full support of a family, or in Grace and Heidi, they have mothers who can't fully care for them. Grace is a nine-year old girl who's just a little bit too loud and precocious. Her mother is a drug addict.

Grace seeks the help of an agoraphobic neighbor, Billy Shine, who hasn't left his home in years. Billy used to be a Broadway dancer and they form the most unlikely of friendships together. The story switches from Grace's and Billy's perspectives and I enjoyed hearing what was going through both of their points of view.

The book is full of other characters, neighbors, who also get involved and have their own interesting personalities as well. They were all so different in their own way and added their own flair to the story and reluctantly become a makeshift family while they take care of Grace.

The best part of this book is the writing. It's gripping and heart wrenching all at the same time. I can easily see this book as a movie. I hope it will get picked up someday because it's truly a wonderful story. Get the Kleenex's ready!

Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

About the Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 18 published and forthcoming books.

Her newest releases are When You Were Older,  Don’t Let Me Go, Jumpstart the World , When I Found You and Second Hand Heart. Forthcoming is Walk Me Home (Transworld UK, Spring 2012). 

Other newer novels are Becoming Chloe, Love in the Present Tense, The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance, Chasing Windmills  The Day I Killed James, and Diary of a Witness.

Both Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List.  Jumpstart the World was chosen as a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards, received a third place Rainbow Award for Young Adult/Coming of Age Fiction and a tie for first place in Bisexual/Transgender Fiction. Love in the Present Tense enjoyed bestseller status in the UK, where it broke the top ten, spent five weeks on the national bestseller list, was reviewed on a major TV book club, and shortlisted for a Best Read of the Year Award at the British Book Awards.

Older works include the story collection Earthquake Weather, and the novels Funerals for Horses, Pay it Forward, Electric God, and Walter’s Purple Heart

Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries.  The mass market paperback was released in October 2000 by Pocket Books and quickly became a national bestseller.  It is still in print, and was rereleased in a trade paperback edition in April of 2010.

More than 50 of her short stories have been published in The Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, The Sun and many other journals, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories  and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog is my Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O'Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize.  Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories.

She is founder and former president (2000-2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with Americorps members at the White House and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

Connect with Catherine!

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/cryanhyde/



Remember that you can get this book for free on Amazon today and tomorrow! Don't miss out!

Monday, September 17, 2012

MMGM: One Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath

Title: One Year in Coal Harbor
Author: Polly Horvath
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (September 11, 2012)

Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley
Summary from Goodreads:
Readers rejoice--Primrose Squarp is back! The wise and curious heroine of the Newbery Honor Book Everything on a Waffle is facing another adventure-filled year in Coal Harbor. Even though her parents, once lost at sea, are home, there's a whole slew of problems and mysteries to keep Primrose--and eager fans--busy. There's Uncle Jack and Kate Bowzer, who may (or may not) be in love. There's Ked, a foster child who becomes Primrose's friend. And there's the new development on the outskirts of town that threatens the Coal Harbor Primrose knows and treasures. Prolific and brilliant Horvath has delivered a masterful sequel to a beloved novel, sure to please old fans and gain new ones.(
Review:
I adored Everything on a Waffle (it was my very first MMGM post!) and was ecstatic to find out there is now a sequel for my beloved book. I didn't think it needed a sequel, just like how I felt with Princess Academy: Palace of Stone, but I was pleasantly surprised with that sequel, so I thought this would be another great addition to Primrose's story. However, I'm sorry to say that I was very disappointed.

SPOILER ALERT for those who haven't read Everything on a Waffle!!! It was nice to revisit all the characters again and get to see Primrose actually interact with her parents. However, everything else just seemed all mashed up together in a gobbly-gook mess. I guess I didn't really need to see what happened to Primrose after her parents returned. I thought everything would be happier, but it just seems like the mundane just continued on.

I was also upset that the little love story at the end of Everything on a Waffle just kind of fizzled between Uncle Jack and Miss Bowzer. Why are they such jerks to each other in this book? Seriously, Uncle Jack, you're going to build a "high-class restaurant" across the street with her restaurant because she doesn't serve high-class clientele?! SERIOUSLY?!

Which leads me to my final point, I just didn't like the characters this time around. It was a little too late for me when Ked finally enters the story. Maybe I went in with too high expectations because I LOVED Everything on a Waffle, but I think this story didn't meet the hype for me.

Rating:
3 out of 5 stars

About the Author: Polly Horvath

Polly Horvath grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She went to college at the Canadian College of Dance in Toronto, studying with the Royal Academy of Dance and later becoming an R.A.D. teacher.
After graduation, she lived in New York City and Montreal before settling  in Metchosin, British Columbia, with her husband, Arnie Keller, and their two daughters, Emily and Rebecca. They have a dog, Andrew, and a horse, Zayda. They live on a hilltop with an assortment of deer, rabbits, two ducks who visit their pond daily—and the occasional cougar and bear.

Polly Horvath has written many books for children that have won awards in both the United States and Canada including a Newbery Honor, National Book Award and The Vicky Metcalf award for her body of work. Her books have been picks of both Rosie O'Donnell and Oprah amd have been translated into over twenty five languages.

Did we mention an occasional bear?

Author's website: http://www.pollyhorvath.com


If you would like to find out more about Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday, you can check out Shannon Messenger's blog here.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

MMGM: Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Title: Drama
Author: Raina Telgemeier
Publisher: Scholastic GRAPHIX (September 1, 2012)

Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley
Summary from Goodreads:
Raina Telgemeier, the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of the Eisner Award winner, SMILE, brings us her next full-color graphic novel . . . DRAMA!

Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school's production of Moon Over Mississippi, she's a terrible singer. Instead she's the set designer for the stage crew, and this year she's determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn't know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen, and when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier! Following the success of SMILE, Raina Telgemeier brings us another graphic novel featuring a diverse set of characters that humorously explores friendship, crushes, and all-around drama!
Review:
I simply adore Raina Telgemeier's work. It's one-of-a-kind and just draws you in even before the first page, the cover is gorgeous! I was first introduced to Telgemeier's work with the graphic novels she did for The Babysitters Club. I LOVED them. (Read my review: here) I didn't think anyone could do BSC justice as a graphic novel without making the characters too modern-looking (aka "hoochified" like how many of my other childhood characters have suffered from in their remakes - ex: Strawberry Shortcake). However, Telgemeier stayed true to the essence of each character and I just devoured all four books, as if I were 10 years old again. Therefore, I was SUPER excited to read Drama!

The artwork is beautiful and I was found myself savoring each page in order to absorb all the little details in each of the boxes. I even loved the colors! The characters are fun and loveable. I enjoyed that the main character, Callie, is not necessarily the lead of the play (like Rachel on GLEE), but a part of the stage crew. She's a creative young lady who uses her set designing talents to help out behind the scenes.


It definitely fits a middle grade/young-adult reader with all the DRAMA that goes on throughout the plot, including a love triangle (kind of a square, actually) and boy-girl relationships/friendships. I was surprised to see such a prominent theme of exploring sexuality. I tend to run on the conservative side and wasn't expecting that in a book for middle-graders, so in that sense it's a little more YA than MG. For the younger MG readers, I think I'd recommend parents to read it first before putting in the hands of 3rd or 4th graders in order to be prepared for possible discussions or questions about sexual orientation.

This book is perfect for the fans of GLEE since it both centers around performing arts.

Overall, I think it's a great piece of work from Telgemeier and will be a great graphic novel addition to a library!

Rating:
4 out of 5 stars
And now, the book trailer!


About the Author: Raina Telgemeier
Raina Telgemeier grew up in San Francisco, but made her way to New York City when she was 22 to attend the School of Visual Arts as an Illustration and Cartooning student. She received her BFA in 2002, and has worked as a freelance artist ever since. She is the adapter and illustrator of four Baby-sitters Club graphic novels, the co-author of X-Men: Misfits, and the author-illustrator of the bestselling dental memoir graphic novel Smile, which recently won the Eisner Award for Best Publication for a Teen Audience. Smile was also an ALA Notable Book, a Kirkus Best Book of 2010, and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards Honor title.
Raina lives in Queens, NY, with her cartoonist husband, Dave Roman.

Author's website: http://www.goraina.com


If you would like to find out more about Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday, you can check out Shannon Messenger's blog here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Blog Tour & Review: Tidewater Inn (Hope Beach, #1) by Colleen Cobl

Title: Tidewater Inn
Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers (July 17, 2012)

Source: Received from publisher via LitFuse Publicity Group

Buy book: here
About the Book:
Welcome to Hope Beach. A place of intoxicating beauty . . . where trouble hits with the force of a hurricane.

Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the Outer Banks could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer’s talent and love of history. She’s delighted to learn of the family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she’s met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.

But Libby soon realizes that the only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brother and sister are convinced she’s there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, and Libby’s under suspicion for the crime.

Libby’s dream come true is becoming a nightmare. Her only option is to find her friend and prove her innocence, or lose everything on the shores of Hope Island.

Review:
I enjoyed reading Smitten this past holiday season in which Coble was one of the 4 writers and when Tidewater Inn was offered as a book to read from Litfuse, I jumped on it because I loved the writing in Smitten! I am happy to say that I wasn't disappointed!

I just love the setting and premise of Tidewater Inn. Old hotel on the Outer Banks in NC... *sigh* It might be because I'm a sucker for Nicholas Sparks novels and they ALL seem to take place in NC so I associate the state with love. :) However, once I started reading, the story grabbed me from the first few pages and took me along a journey full of unexpected twists and turns. Normally, I feel like I can see where a story was going, but with Tidewater Inn, I was caught off guard several times in the book, but in a good way. I couldn't put the book down! (Too bad the toddler needed to eat dinner, so I had to stop. Hehe.)

One of my favorite themes of the book is how Libby works on her walk in Christ by thinking about WWJD, which is engraved onto the necklace she receives from her dead father that she didn't know was alive up until a month ago (and did NOT die when she was five). This all happens within the first few pages, by the way. Roller coaster, right?! God and faith play a big part in this book and it was refreshing to read. It's exactly what a reader looks for in a Christian fiction book.

My only criticism is that I wish it had a little more love in the story. I think because I read Smitten right before this, I was expecting a lot of more love story than I ended up with. I'm not complaining too much though because Alec, a Coast Guard lieutenant, helps Libby along the way.

You really get a little bit of everything with this book, romance, action, mystery... so, I'm definitely looking forward to next one in the series! It looks like it's going to be a good one!

Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

About the Author: Colleen Coble
Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA’s RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

Visit her website at www.colleencoble.com. Twitter @colleencoble.



Celebrate with Colleen by entering to win a $500 gift certificate to BedandBreakfast.com!

Find out what the reviewers are saying here!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A $500 gift certificate to BedandBreakfast.com
  • A copy of Tidewater Inn.
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 22nd. Winner will be announced at Colleen's "Tidewater Inn" Author Chat Facebook Party on 8/23. Colleen will be sharing the story behind the book, hosting a book chat, testing your trivia skills, and of course, there will be plenty of fun giveaways - books, gift certificates and a Book Club Prize Pack! She’ll also be giving a sneak peak of her next book too!

So grab your copy of Tidewater Inn and join Colleen on the evening of the August 23rd  for a chance to connect with Colleen and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)



Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter


Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER about Colleen's giveaway and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!


Check out more posts on the blog tour: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/13526905/tidewaterinn

Sunday, August 19, 2012

MMGM: Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale

Title: Princess Academy: Palace of Stone
Author: Shannon Hale
Publisher: Bloomsbury (August 21, 2012)

Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley
Summary from Goodreads:
Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city seems a thrill beyond imagining. When Miri and her friends from Mount Eskel set off to help the future princess Britta prepare for her royal wedding, she is happy about her chance to attend school in the capital city. There, Miri befriends students who seem so sophisticated and exciting . . . until she learns that they have some frightening plans. They think that Miri will help them, that she "should "help them. Soon Miri finds herself torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends' ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city. Picking up where "Princess Academy "left off, this incredible stand-alone story celebrates the joys of friendship, the delight of romance, and the fate of a beloved fairy tale kingdom.
Review:
Wow. Simply wow. I LOVED this book. I couldn't put it down once I started and I am so excited that the publishing date is finally here because now I can shout from the rooftops about how amazing this book is and people can buy it starting tomorrow!

It's been several years since I've read the first book, Princess Academy. I didn't think I would be able to remember everything when starting this book, but Hale does an exceptional job of catching her readers up and connecting the two books together seamlessly. I don't like it when authors over do it on the reminding readers of what happened in the previous book. I hate it when a TV show takes a commercial break and when you get back to the show, the actors just say the same exact lines over again. Hale does it naturally and effortlessly. I didn't feel like I was forgetting anything even though it's been such a long time.

Miri is such a wonderful character for young girls and boys. She is intelligent, brave and isn't afraid to stand up for what she believes in, but she's also vulnerable and is conflicted by the decision to continue her education at the cost of being away from her family. In Palace of Stone, we find Miri leaving her home at Mount Eskel to go to school at the Queen's Castle, but when she arrives there she discovers there is unrest in the kingdom.

Hale is such a masterful storyteller in the way she explores the complex issues of poverty, revolution, loyalty, friendship and love. She exposes the conflict that Miri feels regarding all these issues in such a honest, real way that I think will resonate with MG/YA readers and even adult ones. I enjoyed the journey with Miri as she tries to figure out what is the right thing to do. I honestly had no idea how the story was going to end, but I was pleasantly surprised with all the action! And the love triangle too!

I can't wait to put this book in the hands of my students this year because I know it will bring up such rich discussions and push them to really think about hard issues that don't often show up in the books that they read. It's also in the September Scholastic Book Order and you know I'm going to push it when I do my "spotlight on recommendations" when the orders go home. :)

Even though I was surprised that Palace of Stone was written as a sequel, because Princess Academy ended and wrapped up so nicely, it is the book that I didn't know I needed or wanted. I am so glad that Hale decided to finally write this because it is an amazing piece of literature. I will preface my next statement by saying that I am no expert in Newbery winners (because I've only read a dozen or so), but I think Palace of Stone should definitely be a contender for the Newbery this year (and not just an honor)! It is THAT good. Go get it, you won't regret it.


Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
And now, the book trailer!


About the Author: Shannon Hale
Shannon Hale is the New York Times best-selling author of six young adult novels, including the Newbery Honor book Princess Academy. Its sequel, Palace of Stone, releases August 2012. She also wrote Austenland and other books for adults. She co-wrote the hit graphic novels Rapunzel's Revenge and Calamity Jack with husband Dean Hale. They live with their four small children near Salt Lake City, Utah.
Author's website: http://www.squeetus.com/stage/main.html



If you would like to find out more about Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday, you can check out Shannon Messenger's blog here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

MMGM: Judy Moody and the Bad Luck Charm

It's been awhile since I've blogged. We are finally in our home after a 2+ year journey of ups and downs (and lefts and rights). Praise God that we are finally settling down roots. :)

Title: Judy Moody and the Bad Luck Charm
Author: Megan McDonald
Publisher: Candlewick (August 14, 2012)

Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley
Summary from Goodreads:
Will Judy’s lucky penny lead her to the nation’s capital — or to third-grade C-A-L-A-M-I-T-Y? And what do her spelling-bee nemesis and a potbellied pig have to do with it?

The lucky penny in Judy Moody’s pocket sure does seem to be working. She can’t stop winning — at bowling, spelling, the unbeatable Prize Claw, everything! For sure and absolute positive, she’ll ride that wave of good fortune all the way to Washington, D.C. Watch out, District of Cool, here comes Judy Moody, the luckiest kid ever, until . . . oh, no! Her lucky penny just did a belly flop into a porcelain bowl of yucky, blucky UNluck. Has the coin’s magic gone kerflooey?Are some people, like Jessica Finch or Stink, destined to have all the luck, while she, Judy Moody, gets stuck with a yard full of three-not-four leaf clovers, a squealing potbellied pig in an elevator, and a squashed penny with cooties? ROAR!
Review:
Sometimes I get a little embarrassed by my love for middle grade fiction because it often leads me to wander through the kids section. Most of the time, I spend most of my time in the kids section of a bookstore because I love middle grade books. People have asked me why I like reading "kid books" and usually my response is because I love being able to share them with my students. I used to think that there was no restriction on how far down the grades I could go and still enjoy the books. God knows I love picture books. However, since Judy Moody is written more for the younger readers, I think it might be past that mysterious "point" where it's not as interesting for me as an adult.

What I love about the Judy Moody series are the beautiful illustrations. She is a grown-up Junie B. Jones for a lot of my students and has entertained many girl (and boy!) readers in my classes throughout the years.

This eleventh installation of Judy Moody finds her trying to ride out the luck on her good luck charm for as long as possible. This brings her to Washington D.C. and I enjoyed the descriptions of the city for readers that might not have visited there before. Judy is a girl that always stands up for what she believes in and I love her tenacity.

Overall it was an enjoyable story, but I think I'll stick to my higher-level middle grade fiction in the future.

Rating:
3 out of 5 stars

About the Author: Megan McDonald
P1030350.jpgI had the pleasure of meeting Megan McDonald at the 2001 LA Times Festival of Books. Read more about that experience here.

Pretending to be a pencil sharpener was Megan McDonald’s first experience as a writer. She was 10 years old when she wrote the story for her school newspaper. “Anything can become an idea for a story,” says McDonald. “Even a pencil sharpener!” Megan has since written and published over 60 books for children in 22 languages, including the hilarious Judy Moody adventures, which are largely inspired by her childhood memories of growing up with four older sisters.
     Megan says, “I am lucky to be a writer, because I get to live in my imagination. (And I get to go to work in my pajamas!) I spend my days thinking like a hermit crab or a little blue penguin or a girl who loves bugs. Or pretending I’m a bossy big sister with a little brother named Stink. Or traveling back in history as a young girl who journeys across the Santa Fe Trail in 1848. Or solving a mystery in 17th century Jamestown. I spend my days looking at things upside down, inside-out, sideways, wondering, imagining, questioning everything, always wanting to see the inside.

Author's website: http://meganmcdonald.net/



If you would like to find out more about Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday, you can check out Shannon Messenger's blog here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guest post: My Big Bottom Blessing by Teasi Cannon

Today, I'm happy to share a guest post from Teasi Cannon, author of My Big Bottom Blessing (which I am reviewing and giving away here.)

Title: My Big Bottom Blessing: How Hating My Body Led to Loving My Life
Author: Teasi Cannon
Publisher: Worthy Publishing (May 8, 2012)

Thankful for a Big Rear by Teasi Cannon

One day not long ago I was sweeping my kitchen floor in the near trance-like state of La La Land, when I was jolted to my senses by the precious voice of my 4-year-old nephew saying, “Aunt Teasi, you have a vahwee (very) big butt.”
I set my broom aside, smoothed my shirt, and calmly turned to face him.  Bright-eyed and curly-haired, he stood – completely oblivious to the fact that he had said the words no woman ever wants to hear.  And then I let him have it.  I bent down, coming only inches away from his little round face, and said, “Why…thank you!”  Then I smiled big, stood to grab my broom, and returned unscathed to the task at hand. 
A few years ago those innocently spoken words would have completely obliterated me, and rather than a thank you, might have actually incited an immature come-back such as: “Oh, yeah?  Well, you’re short and you talk funny.”   
But now, to the glory of God, moments like that are reminders to me that the miraculous has happened: I no longer hate my body (especially my back side); in fact, it has become one of the biggest blessings in my life.
Like most women (really every woman I’ve ever met), I lived years literally disgusted with what I saw in the mirror.  The territory between my ears felt like nothing short of a war zone, with battles being fought everywhere: the bathroom, the grocery store, the bedroom, even church.  I could never silence the ambush-ready community of inner critics (those hurtful thoughts we all think) that called my head home.  And I missed out on so much: parties I refused to attend because my pants were too tight, dates with my husband because of a few gained pounds, quality time with my kids.  I know I’m not alone in this.
We women have been lied to for years.  We’ve been told that our value – our very right to be seen and celebrated - is determined by our waist-to-hip ratio or the proportions of our facial features, and that’s just not true.  Our value is determined by the only One who really knows it: our God. 
After hitting my head hard on the floor of my personal pit of despair, I slowly began my journey toward believing that.  One inch at a time of healing, truth, and righteous anger led me to a life-saving realization: All those years I was desperate to change how I looked, God was desperate to change how I see.  And He did.
Truth is, if God can make a prostitute the great grandmother of the Messiah, turn water into wine, and make blind men see; don’t you think He can turn a big bottom – or a big nose - or bird-thin legs – or whatever it is you hate – into a blessing.  He did it for me, and I’m so ridiculously happy about the journey that I wrote a book about it. 




Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vacation Reads Giveaway: My Big Bottom Blessing by Teasi Cannon


I am co-hosting a giveaway hop with Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and SO happy to be helping out with this Vacation Reads Giveaway Hop!

When I think about a dream vacation, I imagine being on a beach and being able to read to my heart's content. (I'm not much of a water person, but I like looking at it!) However, I am terrified to think about being out in the sun in a bikini or swimsuit, especially with my post-baby, a little more squishy, and a lot more wobbly body. That's why reading My Big Bottom Blessing was such a blessing to me this summer because God thinks I'm beautiful just the way I am! Since summer is still underway, I am happy to be giving away a copy of this book to one lucky reader!

Title: My Big Bottom Blessing: How Hating My Body Led to Loving My Life
Author: Teasi Cannon
Publisher: Worthy Publishing (May 8, 2012)

Source: Received from publisher
Summary from Goodreads:
The media feeds us distorted images of beauty and what an "ideal woman" should look like. In My Big Bottom Blessing, author Teasi Cannon offers a way out of distorted body images and the pain of self-rejection. She says, "My obsession with fat and failure robbed me of a lot of the good in my life. I have been miraculously set free from the lie that being thin equals being beautiful." My Big Bottom Blessing offers Teasi's story and real-life solutions for the millions of young women who struggle with poor self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy. Whatever it is that you despise most about yourself (it doesn't have to be weight) can become the catalyst for serious life change. Teasi's story proves that emotional pain can be healed, and real self-confidence found from knowing that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

My Big Bottom Blessing is a joyful and wise guide to exchanging the limitations of a merely human body image for the liberty of knowing that we are made in the image of God.
Review:
Like I said earlier, I NEEDED this book this summer. Summertime means the temperature goes up and the clothes get smaller, which means that I need to show more skin if I want to stay cool and not be a sweaty mess all the time. I think one of the biggest things I wasn't expecting after having a baby was how much pregnancy, breastfeeding and being a new mom would change my body. I guess I was just hoping that it would go back to normal after some time, but I'm realizing that there will always be a soft pooch to my tummy because no matter how many crunches I do, it just ain't getting any tighter. Alongside all these changes has been the Enemy feeding me with endless, constant lies and frankly, I've been believing them.

What I loved about Cannon's book is that she told her story with truth and raw honesty. There was a section in the beginning about how she even dreaded going to family gatherings because she was the "fat cousin." This is one insecurity I have myself and it was so refreshing to see that I wasn't the only one who dreaded being the definitely-not-thin one at a big family reunion. Cannon spoke from the heart and poured our her soul onto these pages and I appreciate that because it made me realize that I am not alone. I am not the only one being pounded on daily by the lies full of hurtful words of the Enemy and my own insecurities. I enjoyed reading about all the different voices in her head because they sound a lot like the ones I have my own head.

I devoured this book in a day and couldn't put it down once I got started. I think the only thing that was lacking was more practical steps towards believing that I am God's beautiful creation. I'm a girl that likes specific how-to's or things to do. I am proud to say that after reading this book that I am more apt to combat the negative voices in my head and fight back with the truth- I AM BEAUTIFUL JUST THE WAY I AM. It's going to be a work in process, but I think I'm on the right track towards building my self-esteem.

If you have similar insecurities like me and want some relief from the daily battles about your self-image with the Enemy, you should definitely check out My Big Bottom Blessing.

Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

 That must why I'm so trustworthy!!! ;)

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