Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop
The prompt of the week:  Highlight one book you recieved this week

This one is sort of hard since I didn't recieve any books this week. Though, I guess my husband did deliver to me his most recent manuscript of his Science Fiction novel Wolfhound. I am giving it one last read through before we hand it over to a copy editor we hired. After that we shall get it ready for an e-book release in December.

I really am enjoying this most recent version. There are new scenes added and characters are fleshed out and now that I think about it my husband really has done an excellent job this time around of clarifying the motivations of his main character, Jacob.

As I wrote that last sentence my heart swelled with joy. I love watching my husband grow as a writer. This is such a fun journey for us, and we get to do it together as a team. Happiness!

If youare visiting please follow! thanks!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Picture Books: Emma Dodd

Picture books by Emma Dodd

What pet to Get ?

Jack asks his mother for a pet, and she agrees to allow him to get one. At first he asks for an elephant. Sadly his mom does not think this is a good idea. So he must dream up another awesome pet to get. A lion!

So continues the fun until he and his mom find the perfect pet for their family.

I loved the pictures in this book as all the animals look so friendly and nice. Even if they would be really bad pets, and the illustrations of why they would be bad pets are really funny. This is a humorous and charming little read.

I don’t want a cool cat!

The little girl in this book describes just what kind of cat she wants.

I really like the rhythm of this picture book. The text feels modern and hip not like an old nursery rhyme. The style was refreshing and fun to read. Once again the pictures are charming and fun.

No matter What

This is the story of little elephant, who learns that his mother loves him no matter if he is happy or sad, good or bad, dirty or clean.

This book has cute little pictures of an elephant playing. The text is simple and beautiful and is full of opposite pairings. It is also short. It was a good one to read to the girler as her attention span is rapidly shortening as she realizes there is so much to do in the wide world.

Just like you

The text about a little bear that wants to grow up to be just like his mama/papa bear.

This little book is very similar to No matter what. The text is short and simple and the message is sweet. Has fun illustrations of bear and cub doing activities together.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik

Finally! Two weeks ago we purchased Naomi Novik’s 6th book in the Temeraire series, Tongue of Serpents.

In this latest installment Temeraire and Laurence are exiled to Australia because of their actions in books previous to this one. When they arrive there they find that the previous governor Bligh has been overthrown by a local man named MacArthur. This leaves Laurence in an awkward position because as he owns a very large and powerful dragon they both want to curry his favor in order to use Temeraire to secure power in the developing colony.

In order to avoid being manipulated by the current political battles Laurence and Temeraire accept the mission to explore the Blue Mountains and find a route through them. En route through the mountains they discover that a dragon egg that they have been guarding has been stolen. So they begin a lengthy search across the entire continent of Australia to gain the little dragon hatchling back.

So, this book had a lot of wandering across the wild and deadly outback of Australia, which was not my favorite story line of all the books. They meet a lot of challenges and dangers along the way: a huge thunderstorm that starts a fire, lack of water, lack of food, mysterious man-snatching monsters. So there is enough drama and high adventure to be had but Australia is a continent and they cross the entire thing! So traveling is the majority of the book. Not so much fun as battles with Napoleon.

My favorite parts of the book included the hatching of the new eggs. I love watching eggs get hatched they are funny as you get to see the personality of the dragon right off. In fact, I just love seeing the dragon personalities interact at all. They are all so headstrong and funny and thoroughly in love with their captains that each new dragon is endearing in its own way. Tharkay gets to come along because he has been hired to figure out who is smuggling goods through Australia’s ports. I really liked that plot line and the fact that we got to meet merchants from so many different places, including America.

So, while this book was not my favorite in the series there is still plenty to enjoy! I am already excited to see how the author will develop the seeds she planted in this novel in the next books. Will Laurence and Temeraire head to America, settle in an Australian valley (very likely), or head back to China? Will they become privateers or herd cattle? Will they get pardoned and head to battle Napoleon in South America? I like how this novel hinted at greater globalization and it shall be fun to see what the crops up in the next novel along those lines. Laurence and Temeraire have already visited Australia, Europe, Asia, and Africa. I am guessing that the Americas lie in their future! I hope we get to meet new dragons. I always love new dragons.

Oh, sidenote usually these books are pretty clean, but there are one or two instances of serious swearing and one or two polite as possibe references to extremely crude acts on the part of the convicts. This is done on the part of the author to show just how truly uncivilized life is in Australia. Prison colony people. Not pretty. I thought it was in good taste, but people liked to at least be warned about these things sometimes.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Blog Hop again!

Book Blogger Hop
This week's book prompt is:
What genre of books do you wish you could really get into, but you just can't?

I wish I could get more into science fiction. Most of the science fiction that I read are novel manuscripts written by friends. Yet, when I pick up a sci-fi book off the shelves more often than not I get really bored. I wish I could be more interested in this genre, but I am just not. I like dystopian and apocalyptic science fiction, but actual true space-ship and planet exploring science fiction never has interested me as much as other types of fiction. I keep thinking one day I'll find a really good book that will get me hooked into the genre but it hasn't happened yet. Alas.

Tis sad but true.

Thanks for stopping by if you are from the book bloggers hop! I'd love for you to say hi or follow me.(hint! hint! I need more followers! 5 is a very sad number)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Picture Books: Candace Fleming

Picture books: Candace Fleming

Sonny boy the life and times of a Tortise

Alright, this may have just become my all time favorite picture book. The little one did not like to sit through it because it was too long, but I found it charming.

It is the story of a tortoise named Sonny Boy, who likes plants, stamp collecting, and Latin. Each of his owners have been nice and docile professor types until he gets handed down to Biff. Biff is a dare devil who isn’t that good at his job. In order to prove his mettle he decides to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Sonny boy ends up taking the plunge with him.

I enjoyed this delightful character story. I have enjoyed Candace Fleming’s non-fiction books before, but I am now quickly becoming a fan of her picture books. Fun times! Fun times!

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!

Mr. McGreely has dreamed of planting a garden for years, and finally decides to start one this spring. He plants and waters and hopes and his garden starts to grow. Then he discovers that he isn’t the only one enjoying the fruit of his labors. He has found three little intruding bunnies that keep trying to eat his vegetables. He refuses to allow such pilfering and builds a fence around the garden, but the bunnies manage to sneak through. As a result Mr. McGreely decides to build a bigger and better defenses around his garden.

This story even made the hubby (over on the couch trying to pretend he wasn’t interested in a measly picture book) laugh. This one is a joy to read out loud. Mr. McGreely’s determination to keep the bunnies out of his garden and the bunnies’ sneaky little tricks makes for a humorous and entertaining show down.

This one was enjoyed by the girler and me alike. The text is fun to read as it has a lot of alliterative and onomatopoetic elements to it.

Tippy Tippy Tippy hide

Is the sequel to Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! It involves all the old cast. This time winter is coming and Mr. McGreely is preparing for winter and is ready to hole away inside. Then the bunnies start sneaking into his house to get warm. Mr. McGreely runs around the house stopping up all the places they can sneak in.

This one also had the husband and me laughing. My favorite part is when Mr. McGreely finds bunny drops on his pillow. Hilarious! Seriously, I recommend these two stories! Go check them out from the library now.

Visit Author's Candace Fleming's Website

Friday, July 15, 2011

Joining the Blog Hop today!

Book Blogger Hop

This weeks question is about where I get the books that I review.

The majority of the books I review come from the library. After that my reviews are based off of books I buy and several times a year I get an ARC from a publisher or author.

So, yeah, the library actually serves me quite well because the library in our area has a really good interlibrary loan system which makes my access to books a lot bigger and a lot easier because I can just put them on hold and pick them at the libray.

Currently, I am looking forward to getting Candice Fleming's new non-fiction book on Amelia Earhart.

The Wretched of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler

Imagine a world where words are so precious they are only etched in gold, and only the privileged are allowed to learn how to read. Muirwood Abbey is one of the few places where learners are taught to read and engrave, and thirteen year-old Lia wants nothing more than to learn both of these skills—yet she is a wretched, an orphan, and doomed to remain in the Aldermaston’s kitchen, forbidden to read and subject to his authority. Her future is destined for preparing recipes in a privileged household until, unexpectedly, a mysterious knight-maston abandons the wounded squire Colvin at the Aldermaston’s kitchen in the middle of the night. Soon after, Sheriff Almaguer comes hunting for Colvin, and Lia is thrust into the greatest adventure of her life as she and the squire are forced into a partnership that brings her closer to her dream—and Colvin closer to his fear of dying on the battlefield. The Wretched of Muirwood is the first book of the Muirwood Trilogy.” (amazon summary)

So, with all the news about indie-publishing and with my husband planning to jump into the foray himself, I decided to take the leap. The Wretched of Muirwood is the first electronic indie-published purchase of mine. So how did the experiment go?

I really enjoyed the story in this book. There were several really bad typos. As in the main character Colvin suddenly gets called Cohen in a few paragraphs. Awkward! There were a few descriptions that I would have pointed out to the writer to clarify if I were critiquing the manuscript.

Yet, when it came down to basic storytelling I was hooked. The first chapter had a good hook, and after that I was pulled along with the main character Lia on her interesting adventure as she learned more about her magical abilities. I really didn’t want to stop reading. At first Lia only agrees to hide Colvin from Sheriff Almaguer until the sheriff comes looking for him at the Abbey. Lia manages to help Colvin escape only to discover she has sent him directly into a trap intended to capture him.

Lia can’t allow her new friend to get captured on her bad information so she leaves her safety of the abbey and with the help of a magical orb sets out to save Colvin. The result of her actions sends her on a journey that helps both of them discover more about their powers and heritage than they knew before. I enjoyed how the author showed that this duo needed one another to achieve their potential. I liked watching the trust and friendship grow between them as they faced and supported one another through their darkest moments.

I also liked the setting and the interesting aspects of the magic system, which is based on faith and belief. All magical powers are achieved through the use of a power called the medium. The use of the medium feels very similar to the way religious belief works in our world. I think some readers may find this as sort of preachy, but I found it kind of interesting. It allowed the author to portray the topic of faith and how it works without referencing a specific creed. Though I must say that I enjoy the thematic exploration of faith in literature. Those are the stories that I find most interesting and some of my favorite passages of the book were when Lia had to struggle within herself to find the strength to use the medium.

Story wise, some things that bugged me was that Lia did a lot of lying and stealing, and general sneaking around behind the Aldermaston’s back, but never really got in trouble for it. Though, I guess at the end of the book she did realize that she should obey and trust the Aldermaston. Yet, still I don’t like lying characters that much. I hated Lyra in the Golden Compass series for the same reason. Yet, I loved Harry Potter and Harry lies a lot. The lying wasn't so bad that I hated Lia as I did Lyra, but sometimes it annoyed.

Shall we return to the topic at hand? Overall the Wretched of Muirwood is an entertaining story with characters that will stay with me even after I have finished reading the pages.

Visit the author Jeff Wheeler's blog

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Picture Books: Lois Ehlert

This week I picked out a bunch of books by Lois Ehlert. I was immediately attracted to her books on the shelves because of the bright and beautiful art. I picked out about five books of hers  that corresponded along a nature theme (I like nature)and read them to girler. Most of them weren't very successful. While the art in her books is beautiful and I love how it uses natural elements like leaves, bugs, and animals as inspiration, I felt like her stories were kind of boring. In addition her prose isn't very lyrical or rhythmic. I find that I prefer picture books that have a certain rhythm to them. They don't have to rhyme, but I enjoy that natural pause in the text that indicates it is time to turn the page. So below are my two favorite books I read of hers.

Waiting for Wings
Waiting for wings tells the story of a caterpillars transformation to a butterfly. It is very much like A Very Hungry Caterpillar, but is more detailed about the process of becoming a butterfly. It follows the life cycle of a Caterpillar from egg to butterfly, but continues the story until that butterfly lays its own eggs, completing the life cycle. The text in this picture book was one of her more poetical ones, and I enjoyed it a lot.

 The author usually includes some factual information about the nature topics contained in the story. There are two color pages at the end dedicated to this information. One page showed each type of butterfly that appeared in the book and labels them. The second page showed each type of flower that appeared in the book and labeled them. I would show these two pages to girler as she laid on her tummy and she would just stare at all the beautiful and interesting colors.

Nuts to You

Tells the story of an active squirrel that scampers around outside an apartment in the city. The narrator accidentally allows the squirrel in her window, and so has to lure the creature back outside with food. The story was simple and short. It was not very lyrical, but not long winded enough to get boring like several of her other books. I also very much enjoyed the nature artwork in this book.

The end of this book contained quite a bit of factual information about squirrels and their habitats and etc.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

As Henry Lee is grieving over his wife death from cancer and worrying about the relationship he has with his son the news of a historic discovery reminds him of his childhood. The belongings of Japanese- American families forced to evacuate during WWII are discovered in the basement of the historic Panama hotel in the international district in Seattle. Henry grew up in the area and recalls the prejudice he suffered as a Chinese-American going to a white school. He also remembers the Japanese-American girl he met there and formed a special bond with during that tumultuous time.

I have been interested in reading this novel since it won the Whitney Award in 2009, but didn’t get around to it until my church selected it for book club last month. I had to leave for a family reunion before the book club meeting, but I enjoyed the book despite not being able to discuss it with people. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was the setting. I felt like I was wandering the streets of Seattle with the little boy Henry as he suffered the loneliness of trying to fit into two different worlds. I think the author portrayed his struggle to identify himself as either American or Chinese when he was such a mix of both that he wasn’t fully one or the other.

The highlight of the story for me was the love story between Keiko a Japanese American girl that suffers the same identity crisis, but has to suffer through the prejudice that was leveled against the Japanese in America after Pearl Harbor. I felt that their love story tempered the harsh plot events in the story. It was uplifting to watch these two transcend the cultural boundaries of their countries and form a friendship that helped them both weather the tough times.

Then just as Henry and Keiko are discovering the truth of their feelings for one another Keiko is forced to relocate to an internment camp for Japanese Americans with her family. This is a well-told tragic love story that ends on a hopeful note.

So I really enjoyed this book a lot. There were wonderful characters, a great setting, and a story layered with diverse and interesting conflicts. I recommend that if you are into historical novels that you go forth and read it.

Author Jamie Ford website

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Picture Books: Mo Willems

Picture books: Mo Willems

Knuffle Bunny

Trixie loses her favorite animal. She and her father must rush across the city to save it.

This is a charming little picture book. The illustrations consist of black and white photos of the city, while the Trixie and her family are illustrated in cartoon. At the end of this book you’ll love Trixie, her parents, and her beloved stuffed animal Knuffle bunny.

Knuffle Bunny Too

Trixie discovers that she is not the only one that owns a Knuffle Bunny. She goes to school and finds that another one of the girls in the class also owns a Knuffle Bunny. The two then proceed to try and show each other up. The teacher confiscates both Knuffle Bunnies and returns them at the end of the school day. Trixie wakes up in the middle of the night only to realize that she has the wrong Knuffle Bunny. Something must be done!

This story is also similar to the first book. Cute and charming and full of humorous and sympathetic characters. My favorite illustration is the frazzled looks on the dad’s faces at the end of the book. What a father won’t do to keep his little girl happy.

Knuffle Bunny Free

Trixie’s family is on their way to visit the grandparents. On the way there the unthinkable occurs. Trixie loses Knuffle Bunny on the plane. Her dad tries to call the airline, but nothing can be done. Knuffle Bunny is gone. Can Trixie learn to live without her dearest Knuffle Bunny?

So the Knuffle Bunny saga continues. I think it is fun to read a series of picture book stories where the character stays the same but continues to grow older in them. I think it is interesting for children to see characters in the book grow up like them. This one is longer and more complex than the other two bookd probably to correspond with the age of the Trixie.

City Dog, Country Frog (favorite of the week)

City Dog goes to the country and meets a new friend—country frog. This tale of friendship and change has gorgeous watercolor illustrations. I loved to read this one to my little one so she could see all the green rolling hills and the cute friendship between frog and dog. We get to watch them play together during the different seasons of the year.

Edwina: the dinosaur who didn’t know she was extinct.

Everyone in the Neighborhood loves Edwina the Dinosaur. She is always willing to help out and bake cookies. Only Reginald Von Hoobie Doobie is grumpy about this fact because dinosaurs are supposed to be extinct. He tries to tell everyone this but nobody listens.

I found this little story humorous, as Reginald gets more and more frustrated about people not listening to him. He is quite the dramatic little fellow. I also liked Edwina the service-oriented dinosaur. If only there were more Edwina’s around the world would be a better place.

Visit Author Mo Willems Website

Monday, July 4, 2011

What I am reading to celebrate the Fourth!

This is a humorous little read for those that love the founding fathers and early U.S. history.  The author tells a humorous little story from the childhood of the founders John Hancock, Paul Revere, Ben Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. The little anecdotes are based on folklore or extrapolated from the known character of those included in the book. The point of the book is to be more clever and funny that completely factual. To compensate the end of the book is a true or false test so that the reader can separate the truth from the false. I love this funny little book and enjoyed reading it this week so close to our nation's birthday.  '

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Finn and Claudia managed to escape the insane prison Incarceron, but now that he is on the outside Finn doesn’t feel free. He thinks that the suffocating procedures of the realm are just as stifling as being trapped inside Incarceron. Especially since Claudia believes that he is the real Prince Giles and the heir to the throne, and he still can’t remember anything about his past. Then a man pretending to be Prince Giles comes to court and he knows things that Finn can’t remember. Now Finn has to prove that he is the real Prince Giles or be killed by the Queen.

Inside Incarceron Keiro and Attia are trying to survive the harsh conditions that are slowly getting worse. The prison is distracted from its true purpose—taking care of the inmates—and is focused on creating a body so it can escape. The desire for escape fuels the quest for the glove of Sapphique, a mysterious magical artifact that is supposed to help the wearer escape from the prison.
So,the sequel to Incarceron I enjoyed this book and found it entertaining. It won’t be one of my favorites of the year, but I really enjoyed revisiting the characters. I think my favorite character by far is Jared. For some reason he fascinates me. I think it is partially because he seems the most good-hearted of all the main characters, and he makes interesting stuff happen when he is around. I bet some will be unhappy about his fate in this book, but I am kind of pleased that he still gets to hang around. I was worried that his sickness was going to kill him, but the author successfully found a way to preserve him—at least in spirit. I found it interesting that we found out how fake the outside world was in this novel, and intriguing that it was so similar to Incarceron in many ways.

Yet, we never really find out why Prince Giles was sent to Incarceron, and some other backstory threads were kind of left hanging. The immediate plot and character arcs were interesting and satisfying, but some of the world-building and backstory plots were left unwrapped up. So while I really enjoyed hearing the end of this tale and more about the characters the book didn’t fill all the expectations I had for it. I sort of wanted the mystery parts resovled, but the author focused more strongly on the action-adventure plot lines. So entertaining to read, but not everything I wanted.