From the Family Bookshelf – September

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Hard to believe summer is nearly gone. It was a busy time for me, but an enjoyable one. The family traveled to North Carolina at the beginning of July, and then I went on an all girls trip to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder sites in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. For the Lil’ Diva’s 13th birthday, we took the girls on a surprise trip to Disney. What a blast we had, but it was so HOT! The thermometer didn’t get below 95 degrees during the day while we there. I’m sure you’re all feeling sorry for me right now, huh?

I managed to get some reading done in between jaunts. I’m glad to be home with the girls back in school. Though with my new job I don’t have much free time, at least we’re on a schedule. In July I read, Renewal “Anytime” 10 Day Detox by Lisa Consiglio Ryan, When SHMACK Happens, an inspirational sports biography by international cycling champion Amber Neben, and A Grand Design by Amber Stockton and Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas–both Christian romances. On vacation I finished The Truth: Diary of a Gutsy Teen by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein. Right now, I’m reading The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick and The Hybrid Author by Dianne Sagan.

Poor Dad is still working on The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman. He works too much, so he’s tired a lot of the time. He rarely gets an entire chapter done before falling asleep.

The Lil’ Diva received two $25 gift cards to Barnes and Noble for her birthday, so she splurged on books. In addition, I bought her America: Imagine the World without Her by Dinesh D’Souza, The Sound by Sara Alderson, and Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson. Then she won Fangirl and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell from the summer reading program. Also as part of the program, she got to order a free paperback. She chose If I Stay by Gayle Forman. She’s working her way through her new books right now.

The Lil’ Princess managed to read enough to complete her goal for the summer reading program, but then called it quits for the summer. She’ll have a busy fall, so I guess it’s okay that she slacked off. She also won a raffle during the library’s summer reading program. We definitely had a great summer. I hope you did too.

That’s it for this edition of From the Family Bookshelf. Hope you’ll share some of what you’ve been reading. Have a great day and keep reading!

Coming in October! The Heroes of Olympus Book Five: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

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Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen-all of them-and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood-the blood of Olympus-in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it might be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Grade Level: 5 – 9
Series: The Heroes of Olympus (Book 5)
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (October 7, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1423146735
ISBN-13: 978-1423146735

Pre-order here!

New Books!

I treated myself to a new book right before going on vacation. I’ve wanted to read the series for a while, but only bought the first book because I got such a deal on it. I really have too many books here to justify buying more.

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Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer–they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

 

While we were away, this one arrived in the mail. I’ll be reviewing this book for the author.

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Many girls in elementary and middle school fall in love with the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. What they don’t always realize is that Wilder’s books are autobiographical. This narrative biography describes more of the details of the young Laura’s real life as a young pioneer homesteading with her family on many adventurous journeys. This biography, complete with charming illustrations, points out the differences between the fictional series as well as the many similarities. It’s a fascinating story of a much-celebrated writer.

 

Hope you had a great week.

Prairie Memories Now Available!

Prairie Memories
$19.99
Magazine – 68 pages – Glossy Coated Paper – 8.5 x 11 Inches – English Language -
Published July 2014

  • Exclusive in-depth interviews with four actors from Little House on the Prairie: Karen Grassle (Caroline Ingalls), 14 pages; Richard Bull (Nels Oleson), 14 pages; Dabbs Greer (Reverend Alden), 14 pages; Katherine MacGregor (Harriet Oleson), 21 pages.
  • The interviews with Richard Bull and Dabbs Greer were made shortly before their death.
  • All pictures published in the magazine are courtesy of the actors. Most of them are very rare and previously unpublished.

Magazine available only through http://prairiememories.bigcartel.com/product/prairie-memories Can be dedicated by the author upon request.

Payment by Paypal or check.

Patrick  Loubatière is a French writer, stage director and high school teacher. He is the author of the book “Little House on the Prairie from A to Z”, which accompanied the complete series on DVD, in 2006. He also interviewed the actors on the bonus segments, plus created the trivia quizzes. 
Since 2006, he has co-starred with Alison Arngrim in France in two comedic, interactive shows based on Little House on the Prairie. 

Aside from Little House, he has published interviews with most of the actors on the series Lost, NCIS, The Mentalist, Desperate Housewives, Criminal Minds, Revenge, Castle, Dallas, etc.

PURCHASE HERE!

Guest Book Review: In the Shadow of the Volcano by Wendy Leighton-Porter

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Publisher: Mauve Square Publishing; 1 edition (April 15, 2013)
ASIN: B00CDUXKUC
Rating: Five stars
Age group: 9+

The Shadow of the Volcano is the fifth adventure of twins Joe and Jemima Lancelot and their friend Charlie. Joe and Jemima have been searching for their parents who disappeared several months earlier. Thanks to an old book and a magical key, as well as special charms, the kids and Max (their talking Tonkinese cat) are able to travel back in time to search for the twins’ parents. Sadly, on their previous adventures, it seems the twins’ parents were always just ahead of them. On this trip, they hope they’ll catch up with their mum and dad. Trips back in time can be dangerous, especially if they end up in the middle of a war, or some disaster. The kids have had their fair share of those and this trip is no less dangerous. The kids and Max end up in Pompeii, just a few days before Mount Vesuvius will explode, destroying the whole city. Unfortunately, they also land up on the tail end of a consignment of slaves. The slave dealer Scylax is ecstatic because he’s convinced he was short-changed by three slaves in the last delivery. Jemima befriends a young slave, a Briton called Caris, and tries to cheer her up. Luckily, Joe and Jemima are attractive twins and take the fancy of their new owners, while Charlie, originally thought weedy, impresses the book-keeper with his skill in mathematics. Joe has the hardest time of all, working his fingers to the bone, as he grumbles, while Charlie and Jemima have relatively easy jobs. Max manages to inveigle himself into the household, but on the night of a party, is booted out. He is rescued by a priestess of the Temple of Isis, and she is in love with a gladiator. An adventure to rival all others ensues, with a magnificent fake battle between Leo (a lion that Max helped) and Felix, the handsome young gladiator. All this time, the kids keep trying to warn people about the impending disaster; some listen and will escape the conflagration, but for the most part, people don’t heed the warnings. Vesuvius has rumbled before and they are used to it. Will the kids catch up with their parents? Will they make it back to their own world?
I just love this series and, in my opinion, it keeps getting better with every book. Author Wendy Leighton-Porter has such a lovely sense of humour that brings even the smallest characters vividly to life. Max is utterly captivating as himself, with delusions of grandeur after living as the descendant of a god in the Temple of Isis. The kids’ new owner is based on a real Pompeiian, whose villa was discovered and excavated. So much fact is cleverly woven into the story, teaching kids a history lesson without their even knowing it. There are details that young readers will remember, simply because of the way these have been used in the tale to lend credence and veracity. Who can argue with an exciting piece of history? Of course, as in her other books, Wendy Leighton-Porter does not shy away from the gritty realities of life back then. Being a slave was no easy task, and if one was a gladiator, death was just another fight away. I truly enjoyed the rich detail of Pompeiian life pervading the story, down to the descriptions of the eruption and what it must have been like for people at the time. The end material includes some lovely particulars for avid young explorers and historians; a glossary, a floor plan of a typical house, photos of the Pompeiian excavation and more. As always, maps put the leap back in time firmly into perspective. This book is a real winner, and don’t be surprised if your young relative starts sounding like an expert volcanologist. PS: If anyone is wondering how the romance is going between the twins’ Uncle Richard and Charlie’s mum … they are going on another date!

 

http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Volcano-Shadows-Past-Book-ebook/dp/B00CDUXKUC

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Guest Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

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Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (July 22, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0763676209
ISBN-13: 978-0763676209
Genre: Dystopian
Suggested reading Age: Grade 9+

Three stars

Seventeen-year-old Seth drowns; in fact his action is deliberate. He wants to escape the horror of his existence. Racked with guilt over the fate of his younger brother, an event he feels is his entire fault, he doesn’t have much to live for. Then he wakes up, back in his old home in England, and things start becoming very weird indeed. He is wrapped in silvery bandages, and his old street is deserted. The whole place is uninhabited and overgrown. He seems to be the only person left alive in the world. He must now forage and scrounge for clothing, food and water. He wonders if this is hell. His dreams don’t help because his previous life comes back to him in huge, unwelcome chunks of memory. Then he meets two other people, with their own unique and strange tales to tell.

Despite the fantastic beginning, with a description that pulled me right into the ocean with Seth, I struggled to finish this book. Parts of it were incredibly exciting and then would grind to a halt with unnecessary introspective and philosophical meanderings on the part of the main character, meanderings which became boring and one had the urge to say, “Oh, just get on with it!” The plus side: an utterly riveting and plausible story premise that comes much later on (just when you are wondering what on earth this is all about and is he dead or not, and if everyone else is dead, then where are the bodies?); really wonderful descriptions that have the reader in the grip of the moment; action and tension to add to the positively bleak and hopeless situation; events that come out of nowhere that have a cinematographic and surreal feel to them; the depth of emotion Seth feels for the loss of his younger brother and his friends. In fact, Seth’s guilt is so palpable that one is consumed with curiosity to learn the truth. The two characters that join him are so different, so lost as well, and so eager to hide the circumstances of their lives/deaths. One feels the pain of the characters as they reveal the humiliating and tragic burdens they each carry.

What I did not enjoy: the flashbacks were sometimes jarring and intrusive, until I accepted them as part of the story-telling process; the fact that this world, while it began as an interesting construct, did not have enough to sustain the story and/or the last three inhabitants. I found the ending abrupt and it short-changes the reader in a way. There were many loose ends in the unfolding of this tale that I feel the author might have tried to answer. The characters were confused and, as a result, the reader becomes confused. It is as if the author didn’t bother to work things out to the last detail, which is possibly not the case, but feels that way. The reference to same sex love/relationships was dealt with sensitively and delicately, in an almost tender way. However, this might surprise readers who are not prepared for it, especially if the reader is younger than the protagonist’s age of 17. Ultimately, the characters’ thoughts on what constitutes life and death, and the option of living in a constructed world, avoiding the reality of a life too sad/tragic/hopeless to contemplate should give readers food for thought. However, I have no doubt that the intended audience of older teens and YA readers will love this book.

http://www.amazon.com/More-Than-This-Patrick-Ness/dp/0763676209/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Guest Book Review: The Dark by Lemony Snickett

darkBook Review: The Dark by Lemony Snicket (Author), Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
Age Range: 3 – 6 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 1
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (April 2, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0316187488
ISBN-13: 978-0316187480
Product Dimensions: 11 x 7.1 x 0.4 inches

Rating: Five stars

The dark is a very interesting thing. There’s a lot of it when the light is off, as young Laszlo finds out when his night light bulb fails. Then the dark comes into his room. Prior to this event, the dark lived quite happily in (unsurprisingly) dark places such as the basement, drawers that no one ever opened, and occasionally behind the shower curtains. At night the dark had a huge expanse to roam outside the creaky old house where they both lived. Laszlo and the dark respected each other’s space. The dark knew Laszlo and Laszlo knew the dark—in fact they even greeted each other. Well, the dark didn’t actually answer back. It never spoke until one fateful night when the bulb in Laszlo’s night light fails. The dark calls to Laszlo. Then Laszlo gets out of bed and answers the dark, which leads him all the way down to the basement…

This deceptively simple illustrated story is especially relevant for kids who are afraid of the dark. Who can say they didn’t fear something that lived under the bed, behind the door (no, that was never an old dressing gown!), or at the bottom of the stairs? This book depicts the dark and the fears of a little boy who has to learn that everything has its designated place and purpose. Without the dark there is no light. Without the night there is no day. Without the dark we would never see the moon and the stars. Without all the things in Laszlo’s house, providing hiding places for the dark, there would be no dark. And the dark is a necessary part of life. The size of the book, 11×7.1 inches is actually the perfect size for little hands to grasp. In addition, the dark looks very big (there’s a lot of it, as I said) while Laszlo looks very small, creating a huge contrast between them. The story has mystery, shivers, scary bits, and leads the young reader all the way down to the basement, where the dark turns out to be very helpful indeed. I’d recommend this for all young readers and their parents (who might still be afraid of the dark). It is a charming tale by the inimitable Lemony Snickett, beautifully illustrated by Jon Klassen.

Purchase at http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Bccb-Ribbon-Picture-Awards/dp/0316187488 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.