Monday, December 30, 2013

Fa La La La Films

During the Christmas Season, The True Book Addict runs a Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge. There are numerous levels of participation for holiday reading as well as options for movie viewers. This winter I've been viewing movies rather than reading holiday books.

This month I have an enjoyed a traditional Rankin/Bass marathon with Little Drummer Boy Book 01, Little Drummer Boy Book 02, Pinocchio's Christmas, Frosty's Winter Wonderland, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, Rudolph's Shiny New Year, A Year without a Santa Claus, Jack Frost, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, as well as the Leprechaun's Christmas Gold.  These movies feature retro cartoon animation and stop-motion animation. Their most known piece was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

More family friendly flicks are Disney's The Small One, Pluto's Christmas Tree, and Mickey's Christmas Carol. Disney's Christmas Carol features well-known characters from a wide variety of Disney features and cartoons. Dreamworks also featured Shrek in a holiday flick called Shrek the Halls where Shrek discovers how to celebrate the season for the first time. If live acting is more family-friendly for your viewers, find a copy of Elf, Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, or Shining Time Station Holiday Special. Shining Time Station might be hard to find, but that series was the American version of Thomas the Tank Engine. (The predecessor to today's Thomas adventures.)

Moving on from children's films, other holiday movies included The Holiday, Last Holiday, Holiday Day Inn, White Christmas, New in Town, While You Were Sleeping, and Meet Me in St. Louis.

It's a been a full and fun holiday movie extravaganza! What Christmas movies do you enjoy over the holidays? I hope to view a couple more before the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge ends on January 6, 2014. Happy viewing, friends!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Review: Wanderville

WandervilleWanderville by Wendy McClure

Are you familiar with orphan trains? Children from New York (or other big cities) were sent out West to live "better lives" with families and big open spaces. Yet, many children were fearful of the unknown.

Jack, Frances, and Harold were a couple of children sent out to Kansas on an orphan train. They didn't want to leave, but they couldn't escape their traveling fate. After hearing awful orphan stories on the train, they decide to "jump ship" in the middle of Kansas. They meet up with another orphan named Alexander who gives them a new look at life in the prairie wilderness.

When I began reading this story, I thought it would be historical fiction mixed with fantasy. I was completely wrong. The magic of Wanderville and the letdown was realized at the same moment as Jack, Frances, and Harold. It was rather ironic and heartening to relate so well to the characters. Just as the children came to grips with their new situation, I knew that this wouldn't be a fantasy story, but reality (albeit in history). Don't let the knowledge of no fantasy elements steer you away from reading Wanderville!

McClure mixes historical fiction with a kid's today approach. The book is set in history, but the children face many emotions and circumstances that kids' today can encounter. The emotions of loss, fear, hope, friendship, and survival are very relate-able to today's audience. The theme of overcoming circumstances is largely woven throughout the text in different ways, but not overpowering. The story ends with a gentle cliffhanger - one that will have readers imagining what's going to happen next. I'm looking forward to reading the next installment in 2014!

I think this story would be very appropriate for 3-6 graders. The author offers many different situations that can open the floor to great classroom, book club, or family discussions.

Reviewed from an Edelweiss copy. Thank you, Razorbill!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Review: Ladies of Distinction series

A Change of Fortune (Ladies of Distinction, #1)Book One: A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano

Lady Eliza Sumner has come to America to find the scoundrel who took her fortune after her father passed away. She masquerades at a governess under Miss Eliza Sumner. Unfortunately, before any progress is made in her case, she lands in a quagmire. Her identify is uncovered, she foils the plans of the Beckett brothers, and she looses her governess position.

Hamilton Beckett offers Eliza assistance to help find her fortune if she will stay out of trouble. He also needs someone to watch over his young children. It would work well, but Eliza wasn't so headstrong to uncover the truth herself!

Quite a rambunctious romp through New York society! Turano wrote a very active story with mysteries, investigators, independent ladies, and finding faith. The characters were so much fun and how they played off each other was exciting to read. Eliza was the outsider, but she quickly gained friends and loyalties as well as some disgruntled individuals. The Becketts are a great family that readers will want to hear more about in further stories. Finally, add in socialite and writer Agatha Watson and private investigator Theodore Wilder. It's a very good read that is fast-paced, humorous, and wanting more. Looking forward to book two: A Most Peculiar Circumstance.

Time Period: 1880's
Location: New York, United States

Reviewed from a library copy.


A Most Peculiar Circumstance (Ladies of Distinction, #2)Book Two: A Most Peculiar Circumstance by Jen Turano

If you have read, A Change of Fortune, you'll be able to pick this up and jump into a new Beckett family story. If you selected A Most Peculiar Circumstance to read before A Change of Fortune, I would recommend beginning with book one. It will add beautiful layers to this story.

Turano picks up where book one left off, but with different main characters. Instead of Eliza and Hamilton, readers will enjoy the outrageous antics of Arabella Beckett and Theodore Wilder. Opposite personalities, but both dear to the Beckett family. Theodore is sent to find the missing Arabella and he find more than he bargained for - jail, mysterious circumstances, and a suffragette. Arabella is thankful for the rescue, but her mission to help ladies won't be stopped!

Again, another riotous read! Being familiar with Theodore from the previous novel, this was a fun adventure to see more about his background, his faith, and his dealings with the outspoken Arabella. Arabella was absent in the first novel, so reading her story was also very enjoyable. She wants to help woman, but helping others leads her into more trouble. Characters from the first story also return for more adventure, mystery, and faith - the Becketts and the Watsons. I am looking forward to book three: A Talent for Trouble.

Time Period: 1880's
Location: Gilman, Illinois and New York, United States

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Bethany House!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Blog Tour: Don't Push the Button

Don't Push the Button!Don't Push the Button! by Bill Cotter

Meet Larry. He's the owner of the book and he has one rule, "Don't push the button!"

Interactive books have become quite popular of late. If you're familiar with the popular book Press Here by Hervé Tullet, you'll enjoy this title as well. Instead of dots, readers interact with a friendly purple monster and a mysterious red button.

I love that Larry welcomes the reader to his book. He also openly shares his dilemma of if he (or we) should or shouldn't push the button. A bit reminiscent of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, but Larry plays along with the reader.

Cotter created a great book that will appeal to the reader whether child or adult. The monsters are not fierce, but friendly. The artwork is crisp and clean. The font is fun and readable. A fun addition to the interactive book list.

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky!

Saturday, October 26, 2013


This past week I had the pleasure to visit the state library conference. I was looking forward to it all year because the planners wanted to revamp the usual setup and do something amazing and memorable. I think they were highly successful!

The theme was Play Create Innovate. They offered multiple areas to be creative around the conference as well as offering several thoughtful sessions to inspire librarians to be movers, shakers, and makers. I was fortunate to attend all week - Tuesday through Friday. (Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me attend, home library!) I would love to share all the awesome that went down in GB, but that might take a while, so I'll share the highlights.

Tuesday Early Literacy Pre-Conference with Jim Gill and Ms. Anna - AMAZING! Jim Gill's energy is fantastic and hearing his music live was mesmerizing. Ms. Anna shared all kinds of "flannels" she uses during storytime. Flannels included props, puppets, early literacy activities, and actual flannels.

Wednesday first full day of the State Library Conference - Time to Learn! I opted to go to workshops that focused on outreach to Latinos, American Sign Language in the library, toy lending libraries, and STEM for littles.

Thursday second full day of the State Library Conference - Connections! Conferences are about making connections and Thursday was that day for me. The morning opened with business meetings from sections and roundtables. It was so good to see my Outreach Services team! After the Keynote about UK's Idea Store, children's librarians gathered for Guerilla Storytime. Amazing! Nerve racking! You should do it!! It was such a great, spontaneous way to meet and learn from friends. From there it was classes on makerspaces, creating a professional playground, the concept of digital badges, then working the Idea Store Way.

Friday the third and final day of the State Library Conference - Goodbye, So Long! The final conference day is so bittersweet. I'm looking forward to returning to life's routine and regular sleep, but it's hard to leave the library bubble. I've met amazing people, gathered awesome ideas, and found a new lease on library life!

What's the last conference you attended? What inspired you most?

Friday, October 04, 2013

Review: The Governess of Highland Hall

The Governess Of Highland Hall (Edwardian Brides, #1)The Governess Of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

The Foster family were missionaries in India, before they returned to England. Doctor Foster needed to recover from an illness, Mother cared for Father, and Julia sought employment to support her parents. She found a position as a governess to Sir William Ransey's two young children and two older cousins. As Julia seeks to find her place in England, she keeps in mind that as soon as her Father recovers, she plans to return to England. (More information available here, as well as an excerpt!)

I loved the cover of this novel - brooding clouds, a large English home in the background with a young woman looking away from it all. My favorite English time period is the Victorian era, so the turn of the century is slightly out of my comfort zone. I was also uncertain about the missionary aspect - would it be too preachy? would the character be out a place?

The Governess of Highland Hall was a wonderful read! Julia's work as a missionary wasn't heavy handed but placed lovingly about the storyline. The faith integration felt very natural, Julia lived out her faith and talked about it simply and honestly. I really enjoyed her faith talk with Sir Ramsey. Yes, there were a romantic story lines woven throughout the story, but gently stated with life's difficulties thrown in as well. Those story lines were predicable for me, but there were plenty of small twists along the way to differentiate it against other faith fiction or inspirational romance.

I was surprised to see that The Governess of Highland Hall was the first book in the series, Edwardian Brides. This story is a wonderful standalone piece, so I am intrigued about what the next installment will feature!

Time Period: Edwardian, 1911
Location: England

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review: Burning Sky

Burning Sky: A Novel of the American FrontierBurning Sky: A Novel of the American Frontier by Lori Benton

Burning Sky returns to her family's land on the frontier. She returns to become Wilhelmina "Willa" Obenchain again. Willa was taken years ago and grew up with the Kanien'kaha:ka, or the Mohawks. During her time away, she became a daughter of the tribe, married, bore children, and lost it all. Faith in the Lord kept her in mind and spirit. She returns to rediscover her family, stand alone so her heart cannot break even more, and stand firm with the Lord.

I applaud Benton for debuting with a novel set in the Colonial period. It's not a popular period...yet I found I have read many 18th century books recently. Maybe the 1700's is making a comeback? Anyways, I really enjoyed her first novel. I loved the two cultures coming together in writing. The sections of the books followed the Mohawk calendar. Willa's struggle with returning is to "society" is fascinating. It's not just her story either in this piece, Benton shares the story of Willa's Mohawk brother Tames-His-Horse, Dr. Neil MacGregor, and the Obenchain's neighbors, the Waring family. Anni Waring Keppler shared an excellent point that everyone suffered their own hell with war and death.

Everyone was hurt at one time and the path to healing isn't straight and easy. Yes, Willa's story is foremost in this novel, but others find healing as well. The Lord is near to those who seek Him. Sometimes our path goes astray, but He is faithful and will guide us.

Time Period: Colonial, 1780's
Location: New York Frontier

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Review: Trouble in Store

Trouble in StoreTrouble in Store by Carol Cox

Mercantiles are not known for murder, but Melanie has landed in trouble in her new job as business partner with Caleb Nelson. Caleb wants nothing to do with his new partner, but she cannot be denied her place in the store.

I was amazed at the many twists woven into this piece of historical fiction. It was more than historical fiction - it was a mystery. The beginning opened up with Melanie's final adventures as a governess then quickly moves on to her move to her cousin's mercantile in the West. The arguments between Melanie and Caleb are very believable, because everyone has moments of feeling out of place and taking a stand for their place in the world. The reveal at the end took me by surprise, which was great. I won't spoil the end because I want the new readers to enjoy the final chapters. Cox wrote a great standalone novel that can be enjoyed in an afternoon or over a vacation.

Time Period: Western, 1880's
Location: Cedar Ridge, Arizona Territory, USA

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Bethany House Publishers!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: The Miner's Lady

The Miner's Lady (Land of Shining Water #3)The Miner's Lady by Tracie Peterson

Chantel Panetta returns from visiting her grandparents in Italy, only to discover that her younger sister is stepping out with Orlando Calarco. The Calarcos and the Panettas have been feuding for decades - from Italy to their immigration to the United States. As she tries to keep track of her sister, she continues to bump into Orlando's older brother Dante. As Chantel's life changes, so does Dante's, until they realize a new love for life and a stronger faith in God.

Peterson continues the Land of Shining Water series with a focus on mining in Minnesota (in the far, far North). It's a fantastic occupation to highlight because of all the history. Residents, as well as visitors, can still visit mines and their museums in Minnesota. I really appreciated the highlight of these difficult and historic jobs.

Beyond the feud and the love story between the sisters and brothers, Chantel's single brothers also receive part of the storyline. It's a minor storyline, but influential to the total tale. It would have been great to see more of their stories in the book, but again, a minor storyline overall.

It looks like the Land of Shining Water series is complete with The Miner's Lady. I loved this series! It would be great to see more, but Peterson usually writes trilogies. Readers can enjoy these books together, but they can also read each book individually. Happy reading, friends!

Time Period: 1800's
Location: Ely, Minnesota, USA

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Bethany House!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: Jim Henson's The Storyteller

The StorytellerThe Storyteller by Katie Cook

Jim Henson created The Storyteller many years ago as a television program. A group of writers and artists came together to recreate the magic in a graphic novel format. Each story can be enjoyed by a wide-range of readers from older elementary students to adults.

The book is setup in little chapters by each story. Readers can easily sit down and enjoy the whole book or enjoy little snippets as time allows. The art is wonderfully varied, so readers will be able to see different techniques and forms by each artist. The stories also hold variety - an Aesop retelling to a Japanese folktale to an Appalachian Jack tale. It's a fantastic book for offering options to readers. I believe it will grab the attention of reluctant and avid readers.

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Archaia Entertainment, LLC!

View all my reviews


Looking for a new post this week? I went over to visit my new blog friend, Juanita Nobles, who writes at Christian Living: Real-Life Stories and Book Reviews. Stop by and take a look around! Juanita is an author, interviewer, and reviewer (to just name a few). She's currently taking vacation, but will return with more articles, interviews, and reviews!

Thank you, Juanita!

Monday, August 05, 2013

Review: The Bramble

The BrambleThe Bramble by Lee Nordling

Nordling and Zick are very talented men. They have an amazing list of project they have helped to create (view the author bios on the dust jacket). Unfortunately, this title didn't strike home for me.

It's a nearly wordless graphic novel. The illustrations are intricate with a dark overtone and the reader can follow along with the overall story. The boy wants to play tag, but the other children don't want to play with him. He visits the Bramble and discovers new creatures and how to stand up for himself. He goes back to play with the children and he's finally accepted. I think the audience is for older elementary students. You could have some discussions about different group games, what would you see behind a Bramble, or situations where you showed bravery. If there is interest in wordless graphic novels, this could be a choice, but I prefer the Owly series by Andy Runton.  

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Lerner Publishing Group and Carolrhoda Books!

ISBN: 9780761358565
Published: September 2013

Friday, August 02, 2013

Review: April Gold

April GoldApril Gold by Grace Livingston Hill

The Reed family's circumstances took a drastic turn. Father passed away unexpectedly and he defaulted on his house payment. Mother, Thurlow, and Marilla need to move and find employment. College is a distant dream for Thurl and Rilla. Will they survive their new circumstances in their new neighborhood?

I've read many Grace Livingston Hill books, but I never picked up April Gold until the new publishing by Barbour. Although Marilla is pictured on the cover, everyone in the Reed family is featured in this story. I would say Thurlow is the lead character in April Gold. It's a tale of how each of the Reeds overcome their new lifestyle - a move to a neglected neighborhood and entering employment. They question God and find He is with them in their new life. Even with pain in their lives, they learn to lean on the Lord and find joy in their circumstances.

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Barbour Publishing, Inc.!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Review: The LIEographies

The LIEography (TM) of Babe Ruth The LIEography of Thomas Edison The LIEography of Harry Houdini: The Absolutely Untrue, Totally Made Up, 100% Fake Life Story of the World's Greatest Escape Artist (Lieographies)

 Alan Katz, author of the Silly Dilly Songs, has created a new series for young readers: The LIEographies, or "Absolute Untrue, Totally Made Up, 100% Fake Life Stor[ies]" about historic figures. He begins with Thomas Edison, Babe Ruth, and Harry Houdini. (Other historic, as well as modern, individuals also make cameo mentions in this series.)

If readers appreciate humor and ridiculous reads, this is a series for them. The books are easy to read and quick to finish. They're a great way to introduce children to historical figures (even if nothing is true about them.) The author does include a "For Real!" section which suggests additional (true) titles they can enjoy. I would have liked to see more in the "For Real!" section instead of just titles for more information.

I hope readers realize the stories are false and humorous. Is there a possibility that readers will believe these ridiculous stories? I'm not sure. I hope they never end up in a school report! These books would work well for comparison biography reports. I don't need to read these stories again, but if readers want something outrageous this is for them. I would recommend these titles to students around third grade.

Reviewed from NetGalley copies. Thank you, INscribe Digital!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: Adoring Addie

Adoring Addie (The Courtships of Lancaster County #2)Adoring Addie by Leslie Gould

Everyone believes Addie Cramer and Phillip Eicher will court and be married. Addie isn't so sure that she should be married to Phillip. When Jonathan arrives in town, he takes her breath away, but being a Mosier causes trouble.

Gould's second Amish tale with a Shakespearean twist is a great read! Addie Cramer and Jonathan Mosier replay a new version of Romeo and Juliet with a family feud between the Cramers and the Mosiers. I loved that Addie gave all her brothers nicknames to describe their personalities. I was intrigued on how the death scene would play out and it was slightly cheesy, but appropriate for this story. Adoring Addie is book two in the The Courtships of Lancaster County series.  Adoring Addie can be read as a stand alone, but it's better after reading book one in the series, Courting Cate. The third title in the series, Minding Molly, is scheduled to come out next year. I look forward to reading it!

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Bethany House!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Review: Stealing the Preacher

Stealing the PreacherStealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer

The Archer brothers were legendary in their town. The previous title by Witemeyer, Short-Straw Bride, featured the eldest Archer and his brothers. Stealing the Preacher shares the story of Crockett, the Archer with a heart for God and hands for healing. He's on his way to begin his first post as a preacher, but suddenly is stolen off the train as a birthday gift!

A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps. Proverbs 16:9

I loved Short-Straw Bride and the story of the crazy Archers. I wanted more stories about how the Archers grew up after realizing they could live outside their land when I finished Short-Straw Bride. I never realized Stealing the Preacher was following Short-Straw Bride. I picked it up because I loved Witemeyer's stories (and her cover art was fun). It was such a joy to read Crockett's name! I quickly read the story and enjoyed the comedy and faith journeys of the characters in Crockett's tale. You can read Stealing the Preacher on it's own, but it would be better to read Short-Straw Bride beforehand to understand the background story of Crockett.

Time Period: Western, 1885
Location: Burleson County, Texas, United States

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Bethany House!

Karen Witemeyer's Website
The First Chapter of Stealing the Preacher

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review: Highland Crossings

Highland Crossings (Romancing America)Highland Crossings by Pamela Griffin

Four novellas combine to tell the stories of four ladies who are connected by the family's keepsake: a priceless brooch. Each generation sees it as a blessing and a curse.

Healer of My Heart by Pamela Griffin
Printed on My Heart by Laurie Alice Eakes
Sugarplum Hearts by Gina Welborn
Heart's Inheritance by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

If you like a nice quick read, Barbour creates fantastic 4-in-1 books like this one. If you enjoy stories set around the early years of the United States or if you enjoy stories with a highland twist, this collection is for you! I loved the occupations that the authors highlighted in their stories. Griffin's themes included healing and witches, Easkes shares printing, Welborn offers candy, and Taylor highlights weaving and preserving a town's history. The characters were also from all over the Highlands, not just one location which it fantastic. Beyond occupations, each story combines family, friendship, and faith.

Time Period: 1700's
Location: Highlands and North Carolina, USA

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Barbour Publishing!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Review: Dog-Gone School

Dog-Gone SchoolDog-Gone School by Amy Schmidt

Go "bark" to school with adorable dogs and poetry!

Amy and Ron Schmidt combined their talents for an adorable and creative poetry, picture book. The poems are short, sweet, and humorous about dogs at school. The photos are crisp and whimsical in a school setting. The photo setting could be considered generic and "Photoshopped," but that's looking at it with critical adult eyes. It's a very sweet book that children will enjoy if they like poetry, puppies, or school.

Wonderful additions for teachers and the curious include a brief "Note about the Poems" in the beginning and Class Superlatives at the end. The beginning note shares the poetry forms used in the book. The Class Superlatives lists the dogs' names and breeds used in the photos.

Reviewed from an Edelweiss copy. Thank you, Random House!

Once I Ate a Pie

Once I Ate a Pie by would be a fun companion book to Dog-Gone School.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Review: A Noble Groom

A Noble GroomA Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund

Families are just trying to look out for each other in Hedlund's newest release.

Annalisa Werner lost her husband by accident or murder. She needs to run the farm as well as care for her daughter and unborn child. Nobleman Carl von Reichert of Germany needs to run from his homeland. He's a wanted man and law is coming for him though he is innocent. Annalisa's father sends off for a husband from Germany. Carl's father (with the help from Carl's manservant, who felt like a father to Carl) sends him to the States to save his life.

A Noble Groom is a great story full of family, self-discovery, and faith. I loved the German heritage as well as the rags to riches storyline. It is a standalone piece, so readers will not have to bite their nails for the next installment. Yay!

Hedlund's next book, " " is set to come out in the Fall of 2013.  This book is set in the 1700's instead of the 1800's. I'm looking forward to reading it!

Time Period: 1880's
Location: Forestville, Michigan, United States and Essen, Germany

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Bethany House!

Monday, June 03, 2013

Review: The Quarryman's Bride

The Quarryman's Bride (Land of Shining Water, #2)The Quarryman's Bride by Tracie Peterson

The Knox family and the MacLachlan family were very close. Emmalyne Knox and Tavin MacLachlan were ready to be married, but tragedy, family tradition, anger, and distance tore them a part. Years later the Knox and MacLachlans return to be neighbors, but it's a hard friendship with so many years of silence and distance between them.

Emmalyne's and Tavin's story is the second book in the Land of Shining Water series. The books in this series are standalone titles, so reading them out of order will not hinder any of the tales. The binding ties are the stories' location (Minnesota) and the time period (1800's). Two of my favorite themes!

Peterson explores the heritage of Scottish and Welsh families in this book. The family tradition plays well with the Icecutter's family promise of caring for the daughter's family. Instead of digging up ice, the families work in a quarry and blast through rock. The families work through their tragedies and overcome their anger and heartache.

Time Period: 1890's
Loction: , Minnesota, USA

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Bethany House!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves

Jim Morgan and the King of ThievesJim Morgan and the King of Thieves by James Matlack Raney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Welcome to ye olde days in England. Prepare ye selves for pirates, treasures, thieves, and mysteries. James Francis Morgan is old enough (eleven years old to be exact) to make his own decisions and run his life ...until his Father, Lord Morgan returns. Life as he knows it has turned upside down in one day and he's on the run.

Raney crafted his story for young male readers. (Ladies, you'll enjoy this tale, too!) He hits on some popular themes without going overboard on the swashbuckling or drama. He offers dashes of humor throughout as well as an occasional word that might need to looked up in the dictionary. Being set in England there is a sprinkling of British jargon. I believe you can share this tale with middle schoolers and/or tweens. It's fun, not too long, and excellent chapter lengths. I also think this would make an excellent audiobook (with the right reader, of course). I love a good audiobook!

Reviewed from a Smith Publicity copy. Thank you!

Smith Publicity also shared an ebook with me to giveaway! If you'd be interested in reading Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves, please leave a comment below with your email address.  The giveaway will close on the last day of the blog tour (May 24, 2013). Good luck, readers! 

Thanks for following the Jim Morgan Blog Tour!

Storytime: Vegetables

Every May at the library, we have a special garden storytime series that lasts for three weeks. This year's theme was Planting a Rainbow. My themes for Planting a Rainbow were flowers, fruit, and vegetables.
Vegetables Storytime

This was my favorite Preschool Planters from the Planting a Rainbow series. Here's the agenda for vegetable storytime:

Hello Everybody, Yes Indeed SONG by Carole Peterson

Vegetables, Vegetables by Fay Robinson
I like to start out my storytime with an easy nonfiction about the theme. Vegetables, Vegetables fit the bill this week. There were pages I didn't want to include (the pages on veggies that are fruit and making a salad) so I paper clipped them together so we could focus on "regular" vegetables.

Potatoes on Tuesday by Dee Lillegard, illustrated by David McPhail
This is a short and little easy reader. To add to the book, I added flannel board veggies and asked the audience to tell me the veggie when I placed it up on the flannel board.

Vegetable Soup SONG by Piggyback Songs
I added ASL signs for this song. We learned the American Sign Language sign for broth, carrot, celery, onion, and potato.
Rah, Rah, Radishes! A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre

And then it’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. stead 
This was a great book to add a counting activity. Throughout the book we'd count the days of the week: 7 days are in 1 week. We'd also name the days of the week. It was repeated 3 times in the book.

Goodbye Rap SONG by Carole Peterson

Blog Tour: Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves

Thanks for following the blog tour of Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves by James Matlack Raney. Sarah of Smith Publicity put this tour together and I am thrilled to be a part of it!

The blog tour began on Monday, May 13th and it goes until Friday, May 24th. The participants include: Nerdophiles.comOops! I Read A Book Again ( , , You Can Read Me Anything ( ,  I Am A Reader, Not A Writer ( , Hook of a Book ( , Readalot ( , Learning & Growing the Piwi Way ( , and Silk Screen Views – (

Please stop by the other websites and blogs to read their reviews and author interviews. You can also sign-up to win a copy of the book! I will be posting my review and a giveaway opportunity later today. Happy touring!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: The Icecutter's Daughter

The Icecutter's Daughter (Land of Shining Water, #1)The Icecutter's Daughter by Tracie Peterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Merrill Krause promised her dying mother that she would watch over and care for her family. But her family doesn't know about her promise as her father tells her she needs to step down from the ice harvesting family business.
Rurik Jorgenson also made family promises. He moved to Merrill's town to help his uncle's carpentry business. He hopes to one day open his own shop, but he needs to care for family, before striking out on his own.

I forgot how much I enjoy Tracie Peterson's historical fiction stories. I fell in love with the character's occupations, talents, and family loyalties. It was a story I couldn't put down and wanted to share with others immediately. I'm looking forward to her next book in the Land of Shining Water series.

Time Period: 1800's
Location: Waseca, Minnesota, USA

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Bethany House Publishers!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review: God is on the Cross

God Is on the Cross: Reflections on Lent and EasterGod Is on the Cross: Reflections on Lent and Easter by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God is on the Cross: Reflections on Lent and Easter offers forty devotional readings during the Lenten season leading up to Easter. Dietrick Bonhoeffer is listed as the author, but he died in 1945. O. C. Dean Jr. translated Bonhoeffer's letters, sermons, and writings while Jana Reiss compiled and edited the book.

The readings are arranged by themes of prayerful reflection, self-denial, temptation, suffering, and the cross. Each day includes a reflection written by Bonhoeffer, scripture, and occasionally additional material for further reflection. The readings can be enjoyed in one sitting for the busy individual. If readers want a longer study during Lent, they can re-read each entry throughout the day or find a biography about Bonhoeffer to pair with this devotional.

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Westminster John Knox Press (WJK)!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Storytime: Horses

The day of storytime for horses, it was Levi Strauss Day. Cowboys wear jeans and most cowboys wear jeans while riding horses, so let's go with horses. (I also previously hosted a Cowboy storytime for National Cowboy Day. I like to experiment with new themes, rather than repeat old ones.)

The librarians at Neenah Public Library shared an awesome puppet prop at the Wisconsin Library Association conference several years ago. They created barn doors from a red paper box cover. Unfortunately, our paper box covers were black and I didn't want to waste my time covering them with paper or painting them. I explained my dilemma to my amazing co-workers and they helped to create barn doors from bookends and file folders. I secured the doors to the storytime cart and gleefully sang ...

Old MacDonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-o!
And on that farm he had a POLAR BEAR!

Old MacDonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-o!
And on that farm he had a MONKEY!

Old MacDonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-o!
And on that farm he had an OCTOPUS!
No? Okay, that's try one more time.

Old MacDonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-o!
And on that farm he had a HORSE!
Yes? Yes! Let's sing the rest of the verse ...

It was a great puppet surprise element for the audience that provided a unique introduction to the theme of storytime. We jumped right into the usually storytime agenda...

Hello SONG from Dragon Tales: Dragon Tunes
Are You a Horse? by Andy Rash
Clip-Clop by Nicola Smee
In My Barn by Sara Gillingham (This book has a built in finger puppet!)
Let's Sings a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas 

Good-bye, So Long, Farewell, Toodle-oo SONG from Hap Palmer: Two Little Sounds Fun with Phonics and Numbers 

Craft Project from Banta friends: Humpty Dumpty coloring page with ... horses! We also recited the nursery rhyme together before leaving the story room.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Review: Hill Country Cattleman

Hill Country CattlemanHill Country Cattleman by Laurie Kingery

Before Lady Violet Brookfield falls into disgrace in England, she it brought to her brother's ranch in Simpson Creek, Texas. Violet pines for her love, but is thrilled to experience the West. With her first hand observations she can write her novel! Meeting Foreman Raleigh Masterson adds to the amusement of Texas. He can share local information with her and be a friend as she lives temporarily away from home.

A beautiful fish out of water is a fun theme to read. Violet might be from England, but she relishes life in the West. Readers can predict bits of the storyline, but there are a couple twists along the way. Hill County Cattleman is book number six in the Brides of Simpson Creek series. Readers can read this as a standalone, but the previous stories add helpful background details to this tale.

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Harlequin!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Review: Under Texas Stars

Blue Moon PromiseBlue Moon Promise by Colleen Coble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lucy March is at the end of her rope. Her parents are gone, she was released from her job, strangers are following her and she needs to protect her younger siblings. Mr. Stanton comes to her home and offers her an opportunity she cannot refuse. The next day, Lucy and her siblings are off to Texas to live with the Stantons on their ranch.

Coble's first book in her new series, Under Texas Stars, focuses on control. Lucy wants to control her future. She wants to make sure everyone is safe. Life is unpredictable, but the Lord watches over His children.

The newly wed Stantons were interesting to follow. Lucy wants to show her strength and prove a city girl can make it on a ranch and be a helpmeet to her husband. I enjoyed the twist of a proxy wedding instead of a mail-order wedding. Nate's care for his unexpected family is heartwarming.

I hope the next book is about Margaret, Nate's neighbor and prospective bride before Lucy arrived.

Time Period: Western, 1870's
Location: Texas, United States

Reviewed from a library copy.


Safe in His Arms (Under Texas Stars, #2)Safe in His Arms by Colleen Coble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Margaret O’Brien assumed she would some day wed her neighbor Nate Stanton. When Nate's father returned home with bride Lucy, Margaret's life took a turn. With her expected marriage partner taken, she is determined to run the family ranch on her own. Mr. O'Brien doesn't agree and hires a new foreman, Daniel Cutler, to run the business. Not only does Margaret need to prover herself to her father, she also wants to out maneuver Cutler.

Coble's second book in her series, Under Texas Stars, focuses on accepting love. Margaret struggles with seeing herself as a beautiful women loved by others and loved by God. She wants to stand on her own two feet and prove to everyone she can do it. Friends, family, and the Lord help to open her eyes to love that surrounds her.

I loved that Margaret's story picks up right where Blue Moon Promise ends. Margaret's role in the first book was minor in appearance, but major in influence. She needed her own tale. Daniel's role was fun and mysterious. His brother played the minor, major character in this tale. Unfortunately, the brother swiftly disappeared near the end and I wanted to know what happened to him. Perhaps the next story will be about him.

Time Period: Western, 1870's
Location: Texas, United States

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Thomas Nelson!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Storytime: Dinosaurs

Roar! We celebrated Dinosaurs for a special Friday Fling. Throughout the year, the library hosts special storytime events on Friday. For alliteration's sake, we call them Friday Flings. Early in February, the theme was Dinosaur Day! The hour began with a storytime and followed up with a craft, dino book giveaway, and simple games set-up around the Children's Room.

Hello Everybody SONG from Mr. Al: Mr. Al a Carte
Dinosaur Countdown by Nicholas Oldland

Oldland counts down from ten to zero. The ending zero is wonderfully clever and fun. The hardest part was enunciating the dinosaur names. A helpful pronunciation guide is in the back of the book, but, of course, I forgot so I got to stumble through the words and wing it. I even had some helpful hints from dinosaur lovers in the audience. Thank you!

We are the Dinosaurs SONG from Laurie Berkner: Whaddya Think of That?
Ten Terrible Dinosaurs by Paul & Henrietta Stickland

Dinosaur vs. the Library by Bob Shea

Shea's Dinosaur is fun and loud! It's important to control the roar if you invite audience participation. I gave the listeners a roar count while holding up the corresponding fingers on one hand. When I held me fist up, they knew it was zero and we were done roaring. It was a great way for everyone to roar and enjoy participating without going overboard and creating mayhem.

Dinosaurs Forever SONG from Dino Rock: The Great Dinosaur Mystery
Dinosaurs Galore! a roaring pop-up by Paul & Henrietta Stickland
Say Goodbye! SONG from Carole Peterson: Music for the Very Young Child

Craft: Dinosaurs on the Half Plate

The plate dinosaurs came from an idea found on Pinterest via 1-2-3 Learn Curriculum. My co-worker, Amazing Miz L, created the template (red) and the young dinosaur lovers made their own (blue).

Games: Seek 'n' Find, Dinosaur Alphabet Matching, and Dinosaur Match-Up

The Seek 'n' Find printouts were from ... somewhere online. I misplaced the link, if I find it again, I will add it to this post.

The Dinosaur Alphabet Matching was created by Erin from Creating & Teaching.

Dinosaur Match-Up was created in Microsoft PowerPoint with clipart. The dinosaurs could be matched up by color or by dino name.
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