Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 was a VERY BUSY year

So, this year was kind of a huge one for me and my family. There were a lot of life altering changes.

In January I was still teaching Latin and struggling to get all my lesson plans done, my grades in on time, and expecting the small wiggling creature inside of my tummy to come forth in a few months. I thought I would go back, but ended up not going back. So, I changed my vocation to stay at home mom instead of Latin teacher.  

In March that wee little wiggling creature was born and I was immediately attached to her. She cried a lot, ate a lot, and slept a lot.  Now, holy crap, she eats cheerios on her own and crawls about to where her whimsical heart takes her. She is naughty and angelic not to mention the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen. I also tell her that she has got to stop this growing thing, but she refuses to listen. She cries less, laughs more but is still absolutely exhausting. She loves to go outside, and it is nice and convenient that it is still 60 degrees in Texas this week. Her favorite toy this month is the piano. It has superseded her love of bath time.  She loves to bang on the keys and since I have a fancy electronic one that has hundreds of different instrument sound options she has learned how to change the sound from grand piano to the oboe or some other strange musical instrument I haven’t heard of before and squeals happily when the sound comes out different when she pounds away again.    

This summer my husband and I launched our own ebook business by publishing two short stories, Killer and The Missing Figurine. We went on one of our long walks together and decided to name it Wandering Leaf Publishing. You can learn more about what we are doing with the company at its website

Most of my current efforts have been devoted toward this endeavor. I remember breaking down crying (in my defense I was very very VERY sleep deprived) over the fact that I could not figure out how to use gimp, a free photo editing software that was recommended to us by Joe.  Whereas this month I made an original cover, did a hardcover layout for another cover, and made some cool bookmarks using this formerly foreign program. Huzzah! I had some awesome help from my friend Aneeka. We are grateful for her support and proud of how she has blossomed her own business this year at Not A VillianComic.

This October marked the year anniversary of our online writing group that we host over skype every week. These people have blessed our lives and we are so happy to have them in our lives as friends and fellow writers. Thanks Andy, Ben, Kayla, Megan, Alisa, and Joe.

This year Kindal wrote Badger, (I read it and LOVED it) Iron Angels, and The True Adventures of Hector Kingsley part II(so excited to read it!). So, he’s been kind of crazy and writing his brains out, but this is what he wants to do, and so we are going to figure out how to make this writing thing work.

I had a good writing year strangely enough. I typed out Alderik’s Quest one painful sentence at a time as I nursed Sera.  She nested in the bobby pillow as I put the laptop in my lap in those early sleep deprived days. This lead to a short story kick, and I wrote Christmas Cars, Twin Swords, Christmas Gingerbread Man, The Shoe App, and Ruby’s Piano.  I also rewrote my Sleeping Beauty and the God of Death story. I also stared a novel called Boys, Bells, and Blessings and got 20,000 words written. Not too bad for a new mom right?

November my parents left for another mission. They are currently in south England, and I had fun last night planning to visit them there next year. I am excited that might get to go back! I will get to wander around castle ruins with Kindal. Seriously people, I made this a goal when we were first married. Take Kindal to a Castle and next year we might get to do it. Better yet, we get to take the wee one with us. Kindal and Sera at a castle together with me! Huzzah! November we also lined up some cover artists. Found an Editor, Tristi Pinkston. Did the final formatting and editing to Wolfhound. 

December we published Wolfhound and Christmas Cars. We sent the True Adventures of Hector Kingsley off to an Editor. Got the Cover Art for the True Adventures of Hector Kingsley. Best of all is that we are going to be with family for Christmas! PA here we come.  We are so very much happy with all the blessings that we have received this year, especially for our little Sera. We love to see her little smile first thing every morning and love to chase her around before she goes down for the night. She is a sweet and active little soul that makes our lives more exhausting but also more interesting. We are thankful for the support of family and friends and for the opportunities that we have had to grow. We are also grateful for the Savior, who has got us through the dark days and helped us enjoy the bright ones with peaceful hearts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Heckedy Peg by Audrey Wood

Heckedy Peg by Audrey Wood
Seven children, all named after the days of the week, are left at home with two rules from their mother. The first is not to let any strangers in and the second is to stay away from fire. The children play while their mother goes to the market for food, but an old woman comes by and asks to be let in. They children refuse but she offers them a bag of gold. They let her in and are trapped in the witches spell. Their mother must come to their rescue and break the curse cast upon them.

I really loved this story. The illustrations are beautiful paintings full of light and life. The painting from the cover is what got me to pick this one up and take it home from the library. I also loved the fact that it has all the classic characteristics of a fairy tale story, yet I had never heard it before. So, if you love those fairy tale classics but want to read something new, then Heckedy Peg would be a delightful read for you.  This one was a bit long for the little Sera, but oh well. I liked it at least and so did the hubby. He kept peeking over as I read it.

After looking at this Audrey Wood's wonderful website I want to find and read more books by her!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Follow Friday

The Follow Friday Question is:
Q: Keeping with the Spirit of Giving this season, what book do you think EVERYONE should read and if you could, you would buy it for all of your family and friends?

I think I would choose Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld or Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. Both are awesome innovative books that have lots of adventure and good characters.

Don't forget to check out the Wolfhound Christmas Giveaway while you visit!
Everyone who enters wins an e-book christmas story!

Wolfhound Christmas Contest

Alright people! It is officially December 9th and the Kickoff of my  Wolfhound Christmas giveaway!

The best part about this giveaway away is that everyone is a winner!  EVERYONE who enters will receive a coupon to download my Christmas story The Missing Figurine on Smashwords.

Two people will win copies of Anita Stansfield’s Chrismas novels Home for Christmas or A Christmas Melody.  Entrants will also we entered to win a free e-book copy of Wolfhound by Kindal Debenham if they participate next week also.

3 Ways to earn entry points:

Friend my blog

Post about this contest on facebook/twitter

Tell your blog readers about the release of Wolfhound

Feel free to snag one of these pics:

Remember to win a copy of wolfhound you must enter the contest this week and next week. Tell me how you entered and leave your email address  in the comments so I can send you a coupon to download a free copy of The Missing Figurine.

The prizes this week:

Note: I will not ship internationally, but if an international contestant wins the drawing I will email them an e-book copy of Wolfhound instead of the book prize.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Paint Me True by E.M. Tippetts

So a couple years ago I read a new release by E.M Tippetts. Loved the cover, loved the story, loved the writing. Then I discovered that she had a falling out with her publisher over some contract details and I was sad because it didn’t look like I was going to read any books by her for a long time. So, I was thrilled when E.M. Tippetts contacted me to let me know that she had a new book out, Paint Me True. This time she had decided to indie-publish.
Paint Me True by E.M. Tippetts
The story of Eliza a thirty-year-old looking for love in a singles ward begins as she is breaking up with Len, her boyfriend for the last six months. She thinks he was going to propose and instead he throws her a celebratory break up dinner instead. With her pride hurt, Eliza limps back to her life as an artist, paining in an empty house that her stepmother can’t sell in the housing market.

Then she receives a phone call from her Aunt Nora in England, who has broken her arm and refuses to get treatment because she doesn’t want an x-ray. Eliza, having lost her mother, two sisters, aunts, and grandmothers to cancer because of a genetic mutation that runs in the family, packs and leaves everything to help the last living female relative in her family. While dealing with her aunt’s stubborn attitude toward all medical institutions Eliza paints scenes for Nora of her deceased husband to keep her motivated and strong.   As in all good plot lines not everything about Nora’s life is as it seems, as her medical conditions complicate, and her noisy relatives reveal past secrets, Eliza learns about true love, friendship, and how to change after making a huge mistake. 

My Review:
The breakup scene was hilarious and I empathized more with Len than I did with Eliza, who really was a rather shallow thirty one-year-old. It was pretty obvious that she looked down on Len for some of his nerdy and sloppy habits. Still, despite the fact that it seemed like this guy hadn’t bought himself any new clothes since his mission his genuinely caring personality comes out. Therein lies the genius of this romance novel. Even when Eliza is in Britain dating a hot new doctor, the reader’s heart is commiserating with the lonely soft-hearted computer/gamer geek back in the states.

In fact, it becomes rather clear that Eliza has made a huge mistake but if she thinks it is going to be easy to get Len back she has got another thing coming. E.M. Tippetts turns romance tropes on their head by switching gender stereotypes as Eliza now has to be the one who wins the guy back after her huge lapse in character judgment. In this touching novel characters are painted with true and realistic personalities that make them memorable, lovable, and endearing.  I laughed out loud, felt the deep loneliness of the single life, and was strengthened by Eliza’s patient faith in the face incredible trial.

The formatting of the book is beautiful with lovely chapter headings and a professional cover. As I reader I didn't like Eliza at first, as she is kind of a jerk but I think the novel does a good job of making her sympathetic by showing that she is willing to grow and change. There were a few typos, and there was a mistake when Eliza’s home teachers gave her a blessing. They sealed the blessing even though it was only a blessing of comfort and counsel and not a healing blessing. Despite these mistakes I loved this book and I am thrilled that I get to read another LDS Fiction work by E.M. Tippetts again.

Her next book is coming out in December, Someone Else’s Fairytale. According to her blog it will be free the entire month of December. So be sure to pick it up and sample this wonderful author’s work. I hope you love her work as much as I do and purchase, Paint Me True.

And don’t forget! It is Whitney nominating season!
Visit E.M. Tippetts Website

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wolfhound Christmas giveaway!

It is time for a Christmas celebration this December and so I am going to host a few giveaways! What are we celebrating in particular you may ask? Well, my husband Kindal is going to publish his first novel this month and I've written two Christmas stories that I want to give to you this year in exchange for your super blogging powers.

There will be two weeks of celebration December 9th-23rd!

The first week 9th-16th I will give away two out of print copies of Anita Stansfield's Christmas novels Home For Christmas, and A Christmas Melody. Everyone who enters this week will get a coupon to download a free e-book copy of my short Christmas story The Missing Figurine at Smashwords.

The second week 16th-23rd I will give away an ARC of How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr, and everyone who enters will get a coupon to download a free e-book copy of my YA christmas story Christmas Cars at Smashwords.

Those who participate in both giveaways will be entered into a raffle to win an e-book copy of my husband's first book Wolfhound.

Entry details will be forthcomming on the 9th of December.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Three baby themed picture books

Itsy-bitsy-babies by Margaret Wild

Itsy-bitsy-babies is a short little book told in rhyming couplets that portray little babies doing little baby things. The illustrations are simple but life-like. I loved this one because Sera seems interested in watching other babies right now, and she seemed interested in the pictures of the babies as I read to her.  It helped that the book is short and repetitive. I think that was key in keeping her attention. 

Baby Knows Best by Kathy Henderson
A humorous picture book about all the funny quirks that babies have; I am sure that anyone that has any experience with small ones will get a laugh out of this cute book.
Everyone in the family notices that baby has tons of toys but only wants to play with the house keys, or that then baby has tons of specialized food in jars and baggies but only wants to eat what the family eats. I also related to how the baby was surrounded by fun little books but only wanted to eat the newspaper. I only get the Sunday edition of the paper and it is a celebratory event for little Sera when she gets her little paws on all that chewy paper goodness.

Baby Talk: a book of first words and phrases by Judy Hindley

This picture book take baby through the daily routine—getting the hair brushed, getting the coat on, going to the park—and then emphasizes common phrases that go along with these activities. I thought this was fun to read with Sera because we use these same words and do these same things every day, every week. I hope she has started to recognize these things, but I think she knows more than I suspect. Just this evening I was playing with her until bath time. I turned to her and asked, “Sera are you ready for bath time?” and she made a happy little squee and threw her little baby arms above her head to show her excitement. Hilarious!  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wolves Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler

Wolves, Boys, and Other Thing That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler
KJ Carson has never attracted much attention in her small town of West End, Montana. Then she takes a Journalism class and is assigned to write a newspaper column on wolves with her new classmate and crush, Virgil. Virgil’s mom is a biologist studying the wolves in Yellowstone park, and that means she gets to spend early mornings with Virgil and his mom learning about the wolf packs that roam the park.  Her fascination with wolves puts in in a precarious position with people in town. The ranchers are violently opposed to the wolves reintroduction into the park because their livestock is being killed. Then someone shoots at Virgil’s pro-wolf float in the holiday parade and suddenly the argument about wolves as becomes dangerous as acts of violence and vandalism multiply.

In general I really enjoyed KJ’s character in this book. She doesn’t back down from what she thinks and is always quick with a clever comeback. She really knows how to fight with words. I found her kind of annoying in the fact that she doesn’t make much effort to see the rancher’s point of view when they live all around her. I thought that since she was the editor of the school newspaper she would make a bit more effort into getting an interview besides just ignoring the one rancher dude that hates her. There had to be other rancher kids that were less hostile toward her that she could have interviewed.

Overall, this was a pretty interesting book that explored the conflict surrounding the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone Park and I thought that was unique angle for a book. Occasionally, the small town setting felt a little plain to me, but the author managed to keep the story interesting by escalating the conflict between the rancher and the pro-wolf groups. In the end KJ has to confront the villain and survive both him and a harsh Montana hail storm, as her effort to make peace turn into a wilderness survival situation.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Three classics in one book! Absolutely Positively Alexander by Judith Viorst

Absolutely Positively Alexander by Judith Viorst

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is a classic children’s book from my childhood. I use to read this funny tale as a child. I did not know that there were more books about the stubborn and pessimistic Alexander, and his family. This book includes Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday. A story about Alexander’s deplorable spending habits. Full of funny moments, sibling rivalry, and money mismanagement.  The third story Alexander, Who’s Not (Do you hear me? I mean it!) Going to Move, tell about how he finally comes to terms with his family having to move away from his old home and friends.

These classic picture books are full of a humorous and unique voice. I loved Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day as I child and enjoyed rereading it to my child. Though, the text was a bit long to hold her attention. She usually would go off and play on her own in the middle of the stories. I think perhaps the black and white illustrations did not hold her attention very long. Oh, well. We will have to read these ones together again when she is older.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hey you can get a free copy too!

There is a blogger called Money Saving Mom and she is offering a free book about freezer cooking if you help her promote her new book, The Money Saving Mom's Budget. I am intrigued by this new blog and thought this would be a nice chance to investigate and participate. (Thanks for the facebook post Reigheena!)

I shall now go hop around her blog and investigate what pearls of wisdom she dispenses.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
In this latest installment Alek tries to make himself useful by aligning himself with the inventor Tesler, who claims that he has invented a machine that can waste an entire city with the push of a button. Tesler proves to be unstable and more interested in his own glory than the lives of others. Alek is the only person who can stop the destruction of the entire country of Germany, but will he decide to preserve his enemy?

Deryn continues to prove her airman skills time and time again. It was only a matter of time before someone discovered she was a girl. What will happen now that her true identity is revealed not only to her closest friends but to a nosy reporter looking to break the next big headline?

The last and final installment of the Scott Westerfeld’s steampunk trilogy is full of adventure, new sights and fun. So, this last book took interesting turns that I did not expect, namely that our main characters ended up meeting Pancho Villa, and spending a lot of time in America. My favorite chapter of the entire book is when you are trying to figure out if Alexander has guessed that Deryn is a girl or not. Westerfeld teases the reader throughout the entire thing, and it is hilarious! The entire book is worth a reread just for that chapter alone. I got to say that my favorite book of the entire series is Leviathan. This book didn’t have the dramatic character arcs of the first book, and that wild serendipitous feel of first adventure and accidental meetings. Goliath does have a dramatic, satisfying, and romantic ending that will have your insides mushy with happiness. I will recommend this series for a long time to come. It is beautiful, original, and just plain good writing. Please, go enjoy this wonderful trilogy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Picture Books for Halloween

Wild Witches’ Ball by Jack Prelutsky

This short Halloween poem is perfect for wee ones with short attention spans. Lately, it has been difficult to get the small one to sit still long enough to read to her. So this short little Halloween book was a perfect length.

The wild witch ball is in full swing during this festive Halloween night. From the ten groaning crones to the last lumpy witch this counting rhymes describes the attendees of the witches ball with clever and delightful poetry that rolls off the tongue.

The Wizard by Jack Prelutsky

I didn’t read this one for Halloween precisely, but I did during the month of October and so I include it here.  Author Jack Prelutsky characterizes a creepy wizard and his mastery of his magical art. His words dance off the page, and the illustrations by Brandon Dorman are masterful, bringing the text to life in beautiful ways. I don’t think I have seen text and illustration work so well together to create such a wonderful feeling of awe. I’ll probably add this one to my library one day. It is simply gorgeous.

Halloween Night by Majorie Dennis Murray

A traditional Halloween inspired poem about ghosts, goblins, and other haloween worthy creatures preparing the house for Halloween celebrations. Ten unsuspecting children prance down their lane prepared to trick or treat, but they are in for a fright. This was a fun Halloween book to read the little one.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Costume

So, for halloween Sera was a book fairy. I made her little fairy wings out of a book that I bought at the library book sale. I figure if I was going to ruin a book to make a costume I should at least make sure the money for the book went to supporting more literacy, right? So the book was a parody of the "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff"series. I also made her a tutu by rolling up the pages into tube and then attaching them to a little fabric tie. I got the idea for this costume here.

Anyway, here is our beautiful little creature, all sneaky and trying to get some candy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke

The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke

So, I picked this book up because I have heard a lot about Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell( here after referred to as JS & Mr. N) by the same author. Being curious I did some investigating and discovered that JS &Mr. N sounded like a book I would like, written in the style of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens with magical twists that often involved fairy folk. The problem? JS & Mr. N is over a thousand pages long. I can barely get through a 200 page novel in two weeks. I really don’t think the library would be pleased with me checking out a book for over two months, plus I wasn’t sure if I would like the author’s writing style.

More investigation ensued wherein I discovered that this little book of short stories all took place, or related back to the world that the author flesh out in JS &Mr. N.  Yes, I would get a fun little taste of author’s writing style and JS & Mr. N all in one go without the 1000 page time commitment.  So I checked this little book out from the library.

So how did the experiment go? I enjoyed most of the stories in the book and I really did like the writing style. It felt like a mix between J.K. Rowling and Jane Austen, which was like heaven! My top favorites were “The Ladies of Grace Adieu” and “The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse.” The short story collection had a lot variety between the stories. The settings felt different—though most take place in the English country side. There were a variety of characters types—though most stories explored what happened when the fairy world and human world met. I was even surprised at the variety of styles. Some stories were written with unconventional spellings to give the story a more authentic antique feeling, one was told entirely in the format of diary entries.

So overall I enjoyed this experience, though by the end I did get a bit bored, but I don’t know if that is because I tired of the author’s style or if I just didn’t like the last few stories. I still don’t know about committing to reading a 1000 page book, but this was a nice read anyway. It was refreshing to read something a bit out of my normal reading, and a book of short fairy stories hit the spot.   

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Picture Books Mo Willems Part II

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

The first book in Mo Willems award winning pigeon series, Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is full of personality and character. Willems has always had a gift for conveying characters in a brief amount of text. In this short little book the illustration and text work together to bring to life a character screaming with personality. You will laugh and be charmed by the dramatic and true to life tantrum this little bird throws when he is not allowed to get his way.

Don’t let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems

This installment of Willems series is just as charming as the first. The pigeon needs to go to bed, but of course he doesn’t want to. His personality shines as he tried to wheedle his way out of heading off for bed, but ends up exhausting himself in the process. Turns out that even energetic and dramatic pigeons need some rest.

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems

In this cute little tale the Pigeon finds a delicious treat, and a soft heart. In this tale his is joined by a small, naive, and inquisitive chick companion. When he finds a delicious hot dog he finds that the best treats are shared with friends. This is a cute little story everyone in the family will enjoy.

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems

My personal favorite of the Pigeon series in The Pigeon Wants a Puppy, Pigeon tells us all he knows about puppies, which to the astute reader is not very much. He longs for and dreams about a puppy until he meets one on the street on day and discovers that Puppies aren’t everything he imagined.

I loved these books the art was so simple and yet so expressive, and the character of the pigeon so well drawn and entertaining that you couldn’t help but like his dramatic and expressive personality. When I had to turn these books back into the library I was so sad! They are fun to reread and were short and funny. These will end up in my library one day.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tuesdays At the Castle by Jessica Day George

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Castle Glower is no ordinary pile of stones, adding rooms on a whim, creating hallways that stretch on forever. Those who know the castle well know a few tricks to get around its ever changing floor plan, but Celia is the only one who has attempted to map it out. Her knowledge of Castle Glower serves her well when her parents disappear after an ambush. She and her two elder siblings—Rolf and Lilah—must protect the castle and kingdom from the greedy ambition of visiting prince named Khelsh.

Celia and her siblings must support one another in their grief and rely on their own resourcefulness to outwit and out maneuver Khelsh and his supporters on the council. TheCastle Glower is not only a setting but a character in its right, providing protection, clues, and information that the children can use to fight the plots of those trying to take over the kingdom.

This one is a fun read with plenty of laugh out loud moments as both Castle and children play pranks on their enemies to discourage and delay them in their tactics. Celia and her siblings are easy to cheer for because they are smart, strong and united in their loyalty to both Castle Grover and their people. This is a great read for guys and girls, as I have found true of Jessica Day George’s Dragon trilogy also. I sometimes wish the covers were a tad more boy friendly. My husband raced through this one faster than I did and I think the humor appealed to him more. So, anyway, a fun read full of clever pranks, and a charming setting.

Jessica Day George's Website

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Witch Song by Amber Argyle

Witch Song by Amber Argyle

Far from the other villagers, Brusenna and her mother live alone in a little cottage guarded by trees enchanted by their witch song. Each time Brusenna visits town she is treated with hatred and disgust, until one day a woman named Coyle stands up for her. Leading the woman back to the cottage Bruenna discovers that she has much to learn about being a witch.

Her mother attempted to shield and protect her from the war waging between two factions of witches, and in the process left her unable to protect herself. As Coyle and her mother leave in order to stop the evil machinations of a witch named Espen, Senna must find a way to protect herself from the witch hunters that come after her soon after their departure. With a bag of gold, her dog, and a notebook full of witch songs she sets out to defeat Espen and free the other witches from her prison. She teams up with Joshen, a witch guardian, and together they travel to Tarten to save her mother and the other witches.

So, there were good things about his book and bad things. Overall, I enjoyed the story and the characters. The setting and world background felt real and detailed, and I found myself interested in politics and social dynamics that affected the characters. I also liked how the witches used their magic, singing seeds to life to heal and attack people. Occasionally, I really wished for a little more detail on how the magic worked, but for the most part the system was understandable. I felt like the plot was full of action and kept me engaged as a reader. Though sometimes I felt that the author fell back on melodrama to keep the tension in the book going, which did keep me reading, but made me roll my eyes a few times. The romance between Senna and Joshen suffered from this melodrama issue and their love story came off as a bit clichĂ©. I can’t quite put my finger on it but the love story between these two fell a bit flat for me. They were interesting to read about, but I wasn’t really moved by the love story line.

There were one or two times I stopped reading because something within the text itself was contradictory or confusing.

So, bottom line: The world and magic system were interesting and engaging, the plot fulfills everything it promises, the characters are strong and real, but there were a few storytelling and technical issues that took me out of the story.

Visit Amber's Website

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waiting for Mama by Lee Tae-Jun

Waiting for Mama by Lee Tae Jun

This unique picture book tells the endearing story of a little boy waiting for his mother at the street car station. Bundled up in his yellow coat he waits patiently for her to arrive home.

This story was originally published in 1938 in a Korean newspaper, as such both the English and Korean text appear on each page. This background explains why the illustrations convey the setting of the book in whimsical Asian style art. The illustrator tried to capture the culture and time period of the story, which makes the book really stand apart from anything I’ve recently read. The beautiful art and simple text will transport you to another time and place. A simply wonderful read.

My only critique is that the story left me hanging at first. I wondered if the boy had found his mother, but then the last page of the book has a painting of the boy and mother walking home together, however they appear so small that it is hard to spot them at first glance.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Picture Books: Candace Fleming part II

Clever Jack Takes the Cake

One day jack receives an invitation to visit the princess’s birthday party up at the castle. His mother tells him that he will not be able to go because they cannot afford a gift. Jack is disappointed but he comes up with a plan. With a little bit of creativity and work he manages to make the perfect cake for the princess. Cake in hand he sets out for the castle only to discover that the way there is more difficult that he imagined. First, crows eat the nuts on the cake, then a troll demands a toll to cross a bridge, and the candles are used in order to get through the dark, dark forest. Jack travels until finally he reaches the princess’s feet with nothing to offer but a brave adventure story of how he travel to see her. Delighted with the gift of a clever story the princess becomes Jack’s fast friend.

Once again the clever and polished story telling of Fleming delivers a delightful and entertaining tale about a boy poor boy who tries very hard to give his princess and nice birthday present.

Seven Hungry Babies

Momma Bird’s eggs hatch one morning and now she has seven hungry baby birds on her hands. She travels all over the neighborhood snatching things for them to eat. When she if finally done feeding all seven and settles into rest they are hungry again. All moms can sympathize with this harried momma bird. This is a cute little tale full of fun repetition and sounds.

Imogene’s Last Stand

Imogene Tripp is a unique character, who has had a passion for history from a very early age. In fact, her first words were “four score and seven years ago.” She takes over the historical society of her small town Liddleville in New Hampshire. After organizing, cleaning, and repairing the old building news comes down from the mayor that he is going to tear down the historical society in order to build a shoe factory.

Imogene will not stand for the destruction of her town’s history, but no one will listen to her protests. Not even when drops flyers from a bi-plane. Then she makes a marvelous discovery about the history of Liddlevill—George Washington stayed the night there once. Imogene notifies the town historian and asks for help, but it might be too late. Imogene is the only thing standing between the bulldozers outside and their town’s precious historical heritage.

Seriously! I found another picture book I just adore by Candace Fleming. This little tale could also be ranked under my most favorite picture books ever. Imogene is a hilarious, passionate, and precocious little character that you can’t help but root for. It is fun to watch her take on the whole town and fight for what she believes in.

Monday, September 12, 2011

An Award!

So, I am excited to annouce that two people awarded me The Liebster Blog Award! Free e-books daily and Fans of Fiction. Thanks so much guys! It has taken me awhile to post about this as real life has prevented me from sitting down and working on the blog. I took that blog vacation and we moved from a one bedroom apartment to a two bedroom! Huzzah! I get a lot more sleep now that the little one is in her own room and doesn't have her crib in the corner of our bedroom.
So the rules are that this award gets passed on to five lucky blogs that have under 200 followers. So some blogs that I follow regularly that meet that critieria are:

Bookworm Nation

Madigan Reads

A Thousand and One Parsecs

And some newbies I just discovered:

Low Country Book Blog

Book Rants

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Follow Friday and book blogger hop

The question this week is: Have you ever wanted the villain to win at the end of the story?

I cannot think of any example no. Though I guess I have wanted a villain to turn good. I have wanted the villain to make the choice to do the right thing so that everyone could be happy in the end. Alas, short answer and quite boring, but I really can't think of anything else to say. I suppose my answer would have been more interesting if I could have thought of an example of a villain I had wanted to win at the end of the story, but I don't so you all will have to just recommend some twisty villain story to me in the comments.
Book Blogger Hop

Crazy for Books asks:

What genre would you switch to if your favorite genre ceased to exist?

Usually I read a lot of fantasy, and I like it a lot because it takes you to another place and helps you discover new things. So I think if fantasy ceased to exist I would start to read more historical novels because they are similar in the way that they take you to another time and place and give you a new experience.

If you are stopping by please follow! Have an awesome weekend.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Picture Books: Emily Gravitt

Orange Pear Apple Bear

This small and simple book has only five words. Yet the author manages to pair and re-pair them in interesting ways. The pictures illustrate the subtle and different pairings of these words. An orange bear is different from orange, bear. It is interesting to see how the author’s clever word play can affect the meaning of two simple words.


The story about a frog who finds a book and wishes to go on many adventures, but he can’t really go on adventures with a book. Until he realizes that the book is a spellbook. With a book a spells he can become many different things.

I thought this was a really interesting and innovative picture book. In the middle of the book the frog starts reading out spells and he turns into different animals. The book has been arranged so the top and bottom pages split in the middle so the top and bottom half of the frog can be changed into half-creatures. It is a book that is very fun to play and experiment around with.


A bunny rabbit checks out a book out from the library about wolves. As he reads more and more about these dangerous creatures he grows more and more cautious, but if he continues to keep his nose in the book he may just end up being caught unawares.

This short little book is fun because it gives you the experience of checking out a library book about wolves. The illustrations are drawn in such away that the reader experiences the book about wolves just as the rabbit experiences it. Down to the little spreadsheet on front recording what dates the book has been checked out.

Emily Gavett has a fasinating website.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

“On the eve of her debut in 1815 London, Agnes Wilkins attends a decidedly singular social event on the London scene—a mummy unwrapping party. But if the evening’s entertainment and Agnes’ ambivalence at the attentions of Lord Showalter weren’t enough to deal with, she quickly finds herself embroiled in a mystery whose answers could ultimately decide the outcome of England’s war with Napoleon.” (summary from author’s website)

So, I picked this one up because there was a mummy on the cover with a pretty girl in the background. I assumed that the book was steampunk, but nay I was wrong. This book falls solidly into the historical novel genre. Despite this little bump I was not disappointed in my reading. I loved the way that the author had so many rich details about the setting, and had such a unique hook.

Once I realized that the party goers were unwrapping a mummy for entertainment I have to admit I was hooked. Then our heroine discovers an artifact that starts her off on mystery that involves espionage, a lost artifact of mystical power, and romance. Who could ask for more? I do get annoyed at historicals that make the main characters (mostly females) whiny about their position in life, but in this case I thought the author show a fair hand at showing that men also had some of their choices limited by the expectations of society.

I loved the Egyptologist bent! The book is like Indiana Joes mixed in with Jane Austen. I dare say that even a few guys might get sucked in by this one.

The ending of this book had me craving for more. Seriously, the book was begging for a sequel and I can’t wait to read the next adventure in this series as the author says that there is one planned. This is probably one of my favorite novels I’ve read all year.

Visit Author Jennifer Bradbury’s website

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Blog Vacation!

So, as you noticed I didn't post yesterday because I have decided to take a vacation from the blog for a week. So, what has inspired this impromptu break?

1. Today is my birthday!
2. My parents are visiting from out of town (yay! so excited!)
3. It is the last week of August (huzzah! I survived another texas summer!)

I shall return in the first full week of September.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Duchess of Whimsy by Randall de Seve

The Duchess of Whimsy by Randall de Seve
The Duchess of Whimsy has a reputation for being the life of the party. She loves extravagant parties, unusual attire, and exotic pets. Being a duchess unfortunately requires here to associate on occasion with those less interesting than herself. For example the Earl of Norm wears ordinary clothes, has a reasonable pet, and likes to talk about practical things.  The Duchess thinks that they don’t have anything in common, but the King admonishes her to be friends with their neighbors.
Then one evening The Duchess’ cook becomes ill. Without food the evening will be ruined so all her guests scramble to make the most unusual dinner that they can. That is except for the Earl of Norm, who decides to make a grilled cheese sandwich with milk.  The simplicity of the meal catches the Duchess’ eye, and he offers her a bite. The food is delicious and suddenly she and the Earl of Norm have something to talk about, and she discovers that he isn’t as bad as she thought. In fact, they find each other very interesting. It is possible that the Duchess misjudged the Earl of Norm and shall have to get to know him better.
This is a cute little love story with fantastic art and engaging story line. It is so fun to watch these two characters get to know each other a little better. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Follow Friday and (eventually) Book Blogger Hop

If you could write yourself a part in a book what role would it be and what role would you play?

You know, I would love it if my life read like a fiction story! At the end all the loose ends would be tied up. I would know just who the bad guys are and who the good guys were and I’d know why they made the choices they did. I would be rewarded for my good decisions and punished for the bad. It would be nice if my life were mapped like a nice, tight plot.
Too often though, I don’t know the why behind the action of those people around me, and it confuses me. I don’t know if a bad experience is going to lead to the epiphany that helps me find the meaning behind it all. Once one of my students asked me if I believed that everything happened for a reason. I answered, “No.”

As I do have a strong faith in God I wondered if these two beliefs were in contradiction with each other. I do know that God watches out for us and prepares pathways for us, and that he cares for us. Yet, sometimes stuff happens and we never know the reason why. Sometimes those things that happen don’t improve our lives, and in fact make it worse. Better yet, sometimes really good things happen and there really isn’t anything we have done to deserve it. There is no reason or why. The blessing just is— there is nothing we could have done to merit some things.

Yet, I sometimes hope at the end of my life I’ll be able to look at the good and the bad and make sense of it all. I hope that I can look back as Joseph of Egypt, who got sold into slavery by his brothers. He had a lot of crappy stuff happen to him, but each experience he had lead him to his next position in life, until finally he was the right hand man to Pharaoh. Then he was able to save his family (not to mention the population of more than one nation) from starvation, because he had counseled pharaoh to save up a huge supply of grain during his seven years of plenty. His faith in God allowed him to accept and find the best of each situation, and his faith that God had made his experiences for his good allowed him to forgive his brothers. I only aspire to have that kind of faith.

Book Blogger Hop

This week the book blogger hop asks:

What is the longest book you have ever read?

I think that would have to be the Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Entwined by Heather Dixon

When princess Azalea’s mother dies it seems that all she cares for begins to unravel. Her father becomes stern and distant. She must dress in black and stay inside, and worst of all give up dancing, her most favorite thing of all, in order to observe morning. As the crown princess of the realm and eldest sister to 11 younger sisters she must make sure they all remain safe.

One night they discover a secret passage way in their room that leads them to silver pavilion where they meet Mr. Keeper, who allows them to dance their troubles and cares away each night. They do not realize that Mr. Keeper has another identity as the old high king trapped away in the palace for practicing dark magic.

They dance there many nights without a care in the world until slowly Keeper’s darker side begins to reveal itself. Many years ago he made a blood oath to kill the Wentworth General, who displaced him on his thrown. Soon, Azalea and her sisters must destroy Mr. Keeper before he discovers a way to escape and kill their father.

Entwined is another retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale. I enjoyed reading this story very much and loved the flawed character of the girl’s father, the King. He leaves for war on directly after their mother’s funeral, leaving the girls to believe he does not love them. So, when he returns and discovers his girls are ensnared in some kind of sorcery he does not get a warm welcome. In fact, it is charming to read about how this family learns to trust and love one another again.

Mr. Keeper is so dark and charming at first, but slowly becomes more creepy as the story goes on. He is an excellent villain that uses the girl’s innocence about magic against them. He pulls trick after sneaky trick until you think he more slippery than a snake.

Then there are the dear sisters themselves. It is hard to write a cast of 12 sisters, but this author manages to make many of the girls distinct and likable. This band of sisters is practically its own small army and you can’t help but root for their success by the end of the book. The icing on the cake to this wonderful tale is the fact that you get not one, but three unique love stories by story’s end.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday

How have your reading habits changed since you were a teenager?

Wow, what a thought provoking question. I need to think about this. I guess I don't read romance as much.

I have also found myself more selective. As a teen a had lots of free time to try out any book regardless of quality. Now I don't try out a book unless I am pretty sure I am going to enjoy reading it. I've grown some pretty refined tastes.

I still like fantasy though. I have started to try and branch out into Science Fiction this year though. I've discovered steampunk.

The biggest thing though and perhaps the saddest is that I think I have finally lost my interest in Harry Potter. Alas. I never saw the Deathly Hallows movie and still don't have a great desire to see it. The announcement of pottermore did not excite me. I think it is cool, but the idea of running around and solving clues to get background book content makes me feel annoyed. I don't have the time or the inclination to run around on a computer game solving riddles when I have a baby and a husband to take care of. I rather write in my free time instead.

So, the death of the Harry Potter fanaticism is strange to me. Perhaps, I have finally grown up. Perhaps I am ready to put this story away, not that I don't want to share it will my kids when they are old enough, but it needs to hide away in a dusty corner of my mind until it is ready to be rediscovered again one day.

Book Blogger Hop
The hop's prompt is on interesting book titles:

Also thought provoking.

Scott Westerfeld's steampunk series titles have always intrigued me.

Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath. All are words that make you think of creatures that are larger than life, and a bit mystical.

I also think Shannon Hale's books Austenland and Book of a Thousand Days have interesting titles. Austenaland because it refers back to Jane Austen the woman to whose work Hale play homage. Book of a Thousand Days makes you wonder what happened to that person in a thousand days was so important that they would write a book about it? It immeadiately intrigues me and fits so well with the diary format of the book.

So, that's all I have for today. Have a nice weekend folks! I can't wait my husband is off work! I love having him home for two whole days. Please Follow!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ten Rowdy Ravens by Susan Ewing

Dropping in to highlight only one picture book this week. I am trying to read my loot from the library! I bit off more than I could chew. Too many books, too little time!
Ten Rowdy Ravens by Susan Ewing 

This clever little counting rhyme portrays the clever antics of ten mischievous ravens. Each pages reveals a new prank or game that the ravens engage in. From wild, whirling acrobatics in the air to stealing underwear from clothes lines these ravens are out to have a good time.

I love the artwork that illustrates the lively nature of these interesting birds. The back of the book has an mock newspaper, The Daily Kaw, whose news columns report real life anecdotes of ravens pulling pranks, showing off, and tricking the humans around them.

I have always found ravens to be interesting creatures because they are so intelligent and are always getting up to clever antics. So, I really enjoyed reading this book and devoured all the little articles in The Daily Kaw. This picture book is bound to satisfy the bird’s admires and those looking for a humorous story.

visit Susan Ewing's website.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming

Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming

I previously read and reviewed Candace Fleming’s biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. So when I saw that she recently released a biography of Amelia Earhart I was thrilled. I ordered it in at the library and thoroughly enjoyed Fleming’s talent for making history entertaining. The opening chapter starts with the dramatic story of Amelia Earhart’s last but fateful flight. The scene portrays the instant when the navy crews expecting Amelia’s arrival first realized she was lost.

The book then switches to information about Amelia’s childhood, and those experiences that gave her the personality and interest for being an aviatrix. So, the biography continues to switch between the narrative history of Amelia’s life and the dramatic clips about what happened after the Navy discovered that Amelia was lost.

I found this biography fascinating, as this time period is full of so much adventure. The author manages to convey just how dangerous the beginning of aviation was, and the progress that it made through Amelia’s life. I felt that the biography showed just how courageous Amelia was but illustrated that her courage also made her reckless in her decision making. To every virtue there is the downfall. The biography also discussed how strongly Amelia felt about women being able to do the same as men, and portrayed this as a motivating factor behind her flying. As a result Amelia Earhart inspired a generation of woman. I found this honest and human look at this legendary woman to be inspiring and interesting.

I really love Candace Fleming. I hope she writes more books similar to this one, though they must take years of work.

Visit the website of Candace Fleming

Friday, August 5, 2011

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday

Book Blogger Hop
The Crazy for books prompt today is what arc am I dreaming about currently?

This is a hard question. Currently I am really looking forward to reading Pegasus II by Robin Mckinley but it doesn't come out till next year. I'd love an arc of the next book by Jessica Day George, Tuesday's at the Castle. So, yes. I guess I am in a fairy tale fantasy mood this morning.

This week I am going to do Follow my book blog Friday too! Yea, I am being more social! If you can call blogging social.
They asked what is one book that really affected or changed your life?
I have read many books that have made me think and put me on a new direction in my life, but I got to say the Fiction book that has impacted me the most has got to by Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I read it in high school and it was one of those path changing books. I was inspired by the tale of Frodo the hobbit, and it was the first book I remember reading where I REALLY wondered how the author was going to pull of a happy ending. Which made Frodo's victory even sweeter still. Lord of the Rings changed how I looked at life and inspired my love for fiction that has resonance (as Dave Farland calls it). It also inspired me to write my own stories. 

 Welcome visitors! Please Follow and have an awesome weekend!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Picture Books: Tana Hoban

Picture Books Tana Hoban

So, this week at the library I discovered the work or Tana Hoban, a writer who was very popular when I was a infant. Apparently, she created very unique children’s books for the time period. I think that her work continues to still be unique and relevant despite its age.

Most of her books contain groups of photographs that are arranged by themes. For example Is it red? Is it yellow? Is it blue? Contains many photographs of brightly colored objects in red, yellow, and blue. For example a little girl in a bright red rain jacket and red umbrella plays in the rain. A huge bunch of colored balloons blow in the wind tied to a tent pole. A gumball machine, rows of sunglasses, a stack of yellow crates provide interesting and dramatic pictures for children to look at and pick out colors.

I wish I had Children’s Zoo when my daughter was an infant. The book is on black pages with white text describing the animal on the opposite page. The pictures are all stark and clear, which I think would appeal to tiny baby eyes. Children’s Zoo is still fun to read now, but the girler’s attention span is shorter. She is more interested in the fact that the pages turn rather than what is actually on the pages. This fact does make these books appeal to me. The books are merely pictures so we can go through the book as fast or slow as we please. If girler wants to wiz through the pictures we can, but if one catches her eye we can pause. This picture book experience doesn’t rely on text for timing, which gives them a charm of their own.

There are many different themed books written by Tana Hoban the ones I picked out included:

A Children’s Zoo

Cubes, Cones Cylinder and Spheres

Shadows and Reflections

Let’s Count

More, Fewer, Less

Let’s Count

Shapes, Shapes, Shapes

Is it red? Is it yellow? Is it blue?