Rennefarre by Malve von Hassell

rennefarreA fairy tale adventure awaits the discerning reader in Rennefarre: Dott’s Wonderful Travels and Adventures translated and adapted by Malve van Hassell. A beloved German children’s classic by Tamara Ramsey, this story was originally written on the eve of World War II. The first edition appeared in 1941. More than 25 editions appeared between 1941 and 2008. With the copyright holder’s permission, von Hassell’s adaptation is based upon the 1965 edition.

Twelve-year-old Dott finds her world turned upside down when she sneaks out to see the bonfire at the edge of her village on the evening of the midsummer night festival and the magical Rennefarre flower falls into her shoe. Now invisible to humans, she can no longer stay with her parents and younger siblings. Eager to find a way out of her predicament, she escapes to the forest. Her quest to return home finds her traveling through the cities and countrysides of 20th century Germany and beyond. Assisted on her journey by the animals she can now talk to and magical gifts along the way, Dott hopes in her heart of hearts that one day she will find a way to release herself from the enchantment of the Renefarre flower and return home.

This is a magical story accompanied by the stunning artwork of Monica Minto. A coming-of-age story that blends fantasy and social commentary, the reader finds herself carried away along with Dott on her fantastic journey to reunite with her family. While young readers will connect with Dott’s desire to return home, and will certainly enjoy the magical and fantasy-filled environment in which this story takes place, I fear its sheer length (298 pages) will deter some readers.

The original story might have been geared toward children, but the social commentary of 20th century Germany would be much more appropriate for tween and young adult readers in today’s modern world. If you read children’s classics from long ago, you’ll discover they handled sensitive topics in a much harsher way than we would now. So, I feel this puts Rennefarre at a disadvantage. How I feel this book would be best read is aloud by a family, which would allow parents to engage their children in conversations over the cultural and ethnic strains as well as the human destruction aspects of the book. It is important to point out, too, that though there are some difficult topics in Rennefarre, Dott’s travels inspire her to consider how she can change her world.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Price/Format: $13.99 paperback
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
ISBN: 9781938690389
Pages: 297
Release: December 11, 2012 buy link ($13.99): Von Hassell

 Malve von Hassell is a freelance writer, researcher, and translator. She holds a Ph. D. in anthropology from the New School for Social Research. Working as an independent scholar, she published several books and journal articles, in particular, The Struggle for Eden: Community Gardens in New York City (Bergin & Garvey 2002) and Homesteading in New York City 1978-1993: The Divided Heart of Loisaida (Bergin & Garvey 1996). She has also edited her grandfather Ulrich von Hassell’s memoirs written in prison in 1944, Der Kreis schließt sich – Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft 1944 (Propylaen Verlag 1994). She has taught at Queens College, Baruch College, Pace University, and Suffolk County Community College, while continuing her work as a translator and writer. She has published a children’s picture book, Letters from the Tooth Fairy (Mill City Press, 2012), and completed a manuscript for a historical fiction book set in the 13th century for young adults, Falconello. She is working on a historical fiction novel set in Jerusalem in the time of the crusades.

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Middle School: Get Me Out of Here! by James Patterson

MSAfter sixth grade, the very worst year of his life, Rafe Khatchadorian thinks he has it made in seventh grade. He’s been accepted to art school in the big city and imagines a math-and-history-free fun zone. Wrong! It’s more competitive than Rafe ever expected, and to score big in class, he needs to find a way to turn his boring life into the inspiration for a work of art. His method? Operation: Get a Life! Anything he’s never done before, he’s going to do it, from learning to play poker to going to a modern art museum. But when his newest mission uncovers secrets about the family Rafe’s never known, he has to decide if he’s ready to have his world turned upside down. (Includes over 100 illustrations.)

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (May 7, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316206717
ISBN-13: 978-0316206716

Click here to see where you can buy this book!


I would be curious to see if any of our readers have read this book already. If you did, what are your thoughts? Thanks!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney

diaryThe Diary of a Wimpy Kid series returns with Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel.

Life is never simple for Greg Heffley, but now that love is in the air things are even more challenging. A Valentine’s Day dance at his middle school finds Greg scrambling for a date. His best friend, Rowley, doesn’t have any prospects either, but that’s no surprise. At home, Greg’s marriage-challanged Uncle Gary moves in, and his advice meant to help Greg find a date for the dance doesn’t always prove the most useful.

No matter how many of these books I read, I’m always frustrated by the fact that Greg remains such a self-centered, unfeeling jerk. When I think of wimpy kids, I think of say, Ned Bigby from Ned’s Declassified, who is overall a good kid, but just nowhere near to being popular, and so tiny he gets picked on a lot. In every Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, Greg’s inability to sympathize or care about anyone other than himself makes him an unlikeable character for me. I don’t feel sorry that things turn out for him the way they do because he deserves at least half of what he gets.

What I will say, however, is that the Lil Diva (11) and the Lil Princess (9) love these books. They read them for entertainment value alone. I have to admit they are a laugh a minute. And honestly, I feel the girls need books like this that are light reads, because we always have two books going at the same time, and the other is usually heavily immersed in drama. Alongside The Third Wheel we’ve been reading The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Heirsch. This is dystopian fiction. The main character, Stephen, has lost family members to the influenza, and now his father is in a coma, leaving him feeling very much alone. Definitely no laughs in that one.

While the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is never going to be my favorite, with The Third Wheel, Kinney’s characters are just as funny and outlandish as they were at the beginning. If your kids enjoyed other books in this series, they will love this one.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Reading level: Ages 8 and up

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Amulet Books; First Edition edition (November 13, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1419705849
ISBN-13: 978-1419705847

I bought this book from my daughter’s book fair. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Gilded Wings: The Angel Chronicles, Book 2 by Amy Lignor Book Tour and Giveaway

gilded wingsThe Beloved Angel-Warrior Team from Until Next Time Returns!

When Matt and Emily are sent on their second mission they have no idea how truly dark human nature can become…

Emily never wanted to face humans again. With the heartache that went on down below, she’s still trying to figure out how to save souls that don’t deserve saving. The only one she wants to see again is Jason – the young man she fell in love with who became the soulmate she simply can’t forget…

Matt was trained to protect and defend the souls down below. Longing to feel the heartfelt emotions that come from being human, Matt wants nothing more than to have just one life – one chance – to live and love the girl of his dreams…

The powerful team find themselves in a brand new century, living in the Gilded Age of New York City. Emily takes over the body of Anya, a young Russian girl who arrives on Ellis Island after a hideous tragedy. There she meets up with a strangely familiar young man by the name of Drew Parrish, who helps Anya survive in an unknown world of luxury, snobbery and…obsession.

What Anya’s inner angel doesn’t know is that the soul she loves is also back. This time around Jason goes by the name of Max Carrow. Once a quiet and kind boy, he’s now part of the ‘Four Hundred Club,’ and wants nothing more than to be among the most admired as he climbs the shaky ladder of society’s elite.

As two worlds merge, Emily and Matt struggle under the weight of their “Gilded Wings.” Not only will they have to figure out who they should fight to save, but they must also face a romantic choice that could destroy them both.

Read an excerpt

Mitchell Carrow pulled out a chair. “Please sit. We’re all quite looking forward to getting to know you better.”

Anya sat down between the two young children who’d suddenly appeared in the room. She placed napkins in their laps, attempting to catch the egg yolk that was already leaking down the youngest Carrow’s chin. “Sit up,” Anya commanded softly.

Rolling their eyes, the boys squared their shoulders and followed orders.

Mitchell laughed. “See that, son? She’s teaching you better manners already.”

“And what, may I ask, is all the laughter in here?” Hope breezed through the double doors dressed in a beautiful white lace outfit. Her bright white boots were closed with soft pink laces, and a parasol hung over her wrist.

Anya noticed the sudden glow in Mitchell Carrow’s eyes. “Good morning, Hope. Don’t you look lovely today.”

“I look lovely every day, Mitchell. But it certainly is nice to hear it from such a dashing man.”

Anya looked over at Max. Unlike his father, his smile had disappeared at once, as a look of anger sparked in his black eyes. Suddenly he looked like the rude butler’s twin.untilnexttime

So…You Want the Inside ‘Skinny’ on the Warrior? Here Goes…

Hi, I’m Emily. I’m the angel part of this angel/warrior team. And I have to say, when I talk to our creator (no, I mean the writer, not our Creator, creator) I’m always amazed by how many females – and we’re taking teens to grandmothers – want to know about Matthew because they think he’s so great. Well…here are some things you don’t know.

Matthew needs to shower more, especially after we fight in Gabriel’s pit. Even though we’re talking about Heaven, we are still talking about a soul who’s in need of soap and water to make his scent livable again.

team matt

Matthew is also a questioner. Now, I know that you would think I would be, considering the fact that I do it a lot in our stories, but Matthew is the really annoying one. Sometimes he’ll hold his head up, turn his neck back and forth so fast it’s like he’s found something odd to smoke in St. Francis’ field, and he’ll start asking about everything. When he sees a new animal, a new piece of technology, a new wardrobe choice that Mark makes (even though Mark likes the tuxedo the best, he tries on a lot of different outfits), Matthew has to know all about it. He also asks Michael all about the ins and outs of thoughts, magic, reading minds, teleportation – which I still don’t think will ever be invented but, whatever. He even got into this kick recently where he wanted to know about vampires. I’m sure it’s because the library suddenly became full of books about ‘fanged’ creatures, but Matthew wanted the lowdown on whether or not they were real. Turns out, they… Sorry, I forgot, I’m not supposed to give anything away.

Matthew also likes to fight. He’s always throwing himself into the pit to go against Gabe, our teacher. He loves all the swords and shields, and all the ‘ancient’ weapons the best. I think he wants to be King Arthur, or something. But I told him that already happened so he was out of luck.

But…I suppose he learns a lot. His questions and his battles have made him just about the best at this ‘business’ as anyone could possibly be. And the people he’s helped and the jobs he’s done made him the biggest-hearted person I’ve ever met. And, yes…I suppose he’s handsome, if you like that sweet/oddly rugged warrior thing and the bright blue eyes. Well…I’ll give him that one…the eyes are amazing. Anyone can be drawn into those eyes in seconds.

The loyalty and honesty he has are large benefits too, you could say. He is so loyal to his job, his friends, his decisions and…to me. I know people got mad at me in our first life when Jason became my first love, but I really don’t have any idea about soul mates. I mean, we’re taught about them all the time, but I’m still trying to figure out how it would be possible to have two?

team jason

Anyway…yes, Matthew is a hero. And, yes, he’s definitely the guy you want on your side. But you may want to bring duct tape with you or have one of those iPod things so that you can put it in you ear and drown him out after a while.

Oh, and in Gilded Wings, Matthew becomes even more of a warrior than what you…or I, thought he was.

Until Next Time, Everybody,


ISBN: 9780985792220
ISBN: 9781301335541
Pages: 275
Release: November 1, 2012

Gilded Wings: The Angel Chronicles, Book 2 buy links:

Kindle buy link – $2.99

Nook buy link – $4.95

iBookstore buy link – $4.99

Smashwords buy link – $4.99

PDF buy link – $4.95

Until Next Time: The Angel Chronicles, Book 1 buy links:

Kindle buy link – $2.99

Nook buy link – $4.95

iBookstore buy link – $4.99

Smashwords buy link – $4.99

PDF buy link – $4.95

amylignorAmy Lignor began her career at Grey House Publishing in northwest Connecticut where she was the Editor-in-Chief of numerous educational and business directories.

Now she is a published author of several works of fiction. The Billy the Kid historical The Heart of a Legend; the thriller, Mind Made; and the adventure novel, Tallent & Lowery 13.

She is also the owner of The Write Companion, a company that offers help and support to writers through a full range of editorial services from proofreading and copyediting to ghostwriting and research. As the daughter of a research librarian, she is also an active book reviewer.

Currently, she lives with her daughter, mother and a rambunctious German Shepherd named Reuben, in the beautiful state of New Mexico.

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Visit for your chance to enter and win great prizes:

  • 50 gifted Apple iBookstore versions of the “Until Next Time: The Angel Chronicles, Book 1” ebook
  • $10 gift card
  • t-shirt featuring Matt on the “Gilded Wings” cover
  • t-shirt featuring Emily on the “Until Next Time” cover
  • poster (12″ x 18″) featuring Matt on the “Gilded Wings” cover
  • poster (12″ x 18″) featuring Emily on the “Until Next Time” cover

Read along at these other blogs!

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Persephone by Katilin Bevis

bookThere are worse things than death, worse people too.

The “talk” was bad enough, but how many teens get told that they’re a goddess? When her mom tells her, Persephone is sure her mother has lost her mind. It isn’t until Boreas, the god of winter, tries to abduct her that she realizes her mother was telling the truth. Hades rescues her, and in order to safely bring Persephone to the Underworld he marks her as his bride. But Boreas will stop at nothing to get Persephone. Despite her growing feelings for Hades, Persephone wants to return to the living realm. Persephone must find a way to defeat Boreas and reclaim her life.

Read an excerpt

The branch crashed in front of me, scraping my legs. I ran for the parking lot as fast as I could. The frost closed in, surrounding me. I’d never been claustrophobic, but as the frost cut off my escape path with a solid white wall, I panicked.

Fog rolled in, like cold death, cutting off my view of the park. It curled around me, brushing against my face, arms, and legs. I turned back to the tree and ran faster, my dress tangling between my legs as the fog and icy wind blew against my skin.

The parking lot is the other way! my mind screamed. The other way was cut off by a mountain of ice. I felt as if I was being herded. By ice?

I slipped on the icy ground, falling face first into the frost. Ice crept up my toes and along my legs. I thrashed and screamed. I felt the fog becoming a solid mass above me, pinning me to the ground. The ice piled around me. Am I going to be buried alive?

I dug my nails into the frigid snow in front of me and tried to claw my way out of the frosted death trap. I was so panicked I didn’t feel it when my nails broke against the impenetrable wall of ice, leaving red crescents of blood welling up on sensitive skin. An hysterical sob worked its way out of my throat as I gouged red lines into the ice. The ice was above my knees, snaking its way up my thighs. I shivered.

Shivering’s good, I reminded myself. It means your body hasn’t given up…yet. The cold was painful, like a thousand little knives pricking my skin. A violent tremor went up my spine, sending waves of pain through me.

“Help me!” I screamed, knowing it was futile. I was going to die here.

Except I couldn’t die. Could I? Mom said I was immortal, but was that all-inclusive? Did I have a weakness? Was snow my Kryptonite? If I got hurt, would I heal or would I be trapped in an injured body in pain forever?

I suddenly didn’t know if immortality was a good thing or a bad thing. The cold hurt. I was kicking, screaming, and clawing my way out of the frost, but for every inch I gained a mountain piled around me. I thought I heard a man’s laughter on the wind, the sound somehow colder than the ice freezing me into place.

The ground before my outstretched hand trembled. The shaking increased. The earth lurched beneath me. The surface cracked and the sound was so loud that for a moment all I could hear was high-pitched ringing in my ears. The ground split into an impossibly deep crevice. My voice went hoarse from screaming as I peered into the endless abyss, trapped and unable to move away from the vertigo-inducing edge.


Print Length: 203 pages
Publisher: Euterpe (July 5, 2012)
ISBN: 978-1-61937-243-6

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First Chapter Review: A Cat Named Mouse by Anna Alden-Tirrill


Last year, I started a new review feature at The Book Connection titled First Chapter Review. I read the first chapter of a novel, write a synopsis, comment on the cover art, and then let readers know if I would continue reading the book. I wrote one up for this blog in November, and hope to continue offering them from time to time.

Today’s First Chapter Review is of A Cat Named Mouse – The Miracle of Answered Prayer by Anna Alden-Tirrill. This is a Christian middle grade book. For this book, I broke my rules a bit. The author said that the first chapter of this book was more of an introduction to Annie and her family, so she asked me to read Chapters 1 and 4.


BLURB: First in the Annie’s Adventures Series. Annie, a twelve-year-old seventh grader, learns a lot about prayer and faith while searching for her missing cat named Mouse.

COVER: How can you go wrong with a cute cat adorned with a sparkly crown? Needless to say, I love it! It’s simple and fun.

FIRST CHAPTER: In the first chapter, we meet Annie. Her adoptive parents have always made her feel special. Her father teaches astronomy and her mother works from home. Faith in God has always played a big role in Annie’s life. The family attends church on Sunday, where Annie gets to attend Sunday school and participate in the children’s choir. Annie likes soccer and hats, and her family has taken some great vacations together.

FOURTH CHAPTER: By this time, Mouse is missing. Each morning, the family prays for God’s guidance on how they should approach their search. They ask for God to protect Mouse because it is storm season and they want her to stay safe until she is returned to them. But even if Mouse doesn’t come home, Annie prays God will help someone find Mouse and take her to live with them.  

KEEP READING: I have to admit, it was a challenge to try and determine if I would keep reading based upon two separate chapters. I can honestly say, however, if I had only read the first chapter, I wouldn’t have continued. The introductory chapter is long and lacks focus. It attempts to give readers every little tid-bit about Annie’s life. Backstory needs to be woven in as a story progresses. I’m a reader who likes to be dropped into the action, so wading through a chapter where nothing is happening didn’t hold my interest.

That said, I found the fourth chapter engaging. It shows Annie and her parents putting their plan into action, depending upon God to answer their prayers and to guide them as they search for Mouse.

Alden-Tirrill has chosen a great voice for Annie . The book also has a superb message, so I would probably read it in its entirety to get a good feel for the author’s writing style, and to see if the book as a whole captured my interest. The illustrations are wonderful.

Paperback: 190 pages
Publisher: White Cottage Publishing Co. (November 19, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 188583120X
ISBN-13: 978-1885831200
Also available for Kindle.

Purchase from the author’s website or at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

I received two chapters of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

From the Family Bookshelf – January


From the Family Bookshelf is back! I apologize for the long and unexpected hiatus. Last year got away from me and things fell by the wayside. But a new year and new commitments hopefully will keep me on track. In addition to the many reviews posted here, the Lil Diva (11) and the Lil Princess (9) and I read numerous books together last year.

dd1-large Our favorite series: Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell. It is the story of Nikki Maxwell navigating life in private school thanks to a scholarship provided by her dad’s bug extermination contract with the administration. Luckily she has her two friends, Chloe and Zoe, in addition to her crush, Brandon, to make it easier. Now, if she could just figure out how to deal with Mackenzie Hollister and the rest of the Cute, Cool and Popular crowd.

We recently finished reading the 5th book, Tales from a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All, where Nikki ends up as an advice columnist for the school newspaper. It was a blast.

With The Hunger Games novels giving the Lil Diva a taste for dystopian fiction, we just starting reading The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch. This is a paperback she won for reading during the library’s summer reading program. We’ve been busy reading other books, like Amber House by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed (highly recommend this one), so we’re just getting to Hirsch’s book. It takes place after a war (surprise, surprise) where two-thirds of the population has been wiped out by a vicious strain of influenza.

Dad’s reading has been harder to track since he got his iPad. He stills loves anything historical fiction and nonfiction WWII or after, thrillers, and suspense. I bought him some bargain paperbacks from the library for Christmas. You can’t beat 3 for a $1.00: Target Response by William W. Johnstone, Churchill’s Secret Agent by Max and Linda Ciampoli, and The Messiah Secret by James Becker.

As for me, I managed 131 books between this blog and my main blog, The Book Connection. That was short of my goal, but still not bad considering the crazy year I had. I just finished Last of the Seals and Deadly Plunge by Greg Messel. I highly recommend Reconstructing Jackson by Holly Bush. You can read my review of it on Amazon, but a more-detailed review will appear at The Book Connection tomorrow.

That’s it for this edition. I hope you share what your family has been reading with us, too.