Friday, September 28, 2012

Castles in the Sand by E.M. Tippetts

Castles in the Sand by E.M. Tippetts

“Madison Lukas knows her place in the world. She's not pretty, not interesting, and therefore easy to forget.

John Britton has been praying for fifteen years to find the sister he lost in his parents' divorce. She is beautiful, talented, and makes kindness a fine art.

When John and Madison cross paths, he recognizes her at once, but Madison is certain that he's got it all wrong. Even if she is his long-lost sister, she can't possibly be the exceptional, amazing girl he thinks she is, can she?” (summary from Amazon)


I found the premise of this book so interesting at first glance. A missionary finds his long lost sister while on his mission. Madison doesn’t even know she has family other than her mother who is so obsessed with her pottery that she doesn’t have time for Madison at all.


Yet, her mother confirms it. John Britton is indeed her long lost brother and now that he has found her he is not going to let her go. Though Madison is annoyed at first by his emails and messages she comes to rely on his encouraging words and in them she finds the strength to make better decisions for herself. As Madison is not Mormon she makes decisions that aren’t really all that pretty, especially when she doesn’t consider herself worth all that much, but I was happy to read about how she finds the strength to stand up for herself.


Once again I loved the way E.M. Tippets gives each character in her novel such honest weaknesses. Even her picture perfect Mormon characters feel like real people with such human flaws. Yet, her characters are not evil or bad people--just real. It is so refreshing to read about real, complex, and deep characters in any genre this days and Tippets does it with real skill. 

E.M. Tippetts Website



Saturday, September 15, 2012

LDSPBP: Trudy Harris

Trudy Harris write pictures books that are often based off of the cirriculum that she teaches to the children in her classroom. She likes to incorporate books into her lesson plans. You can learn more about her at her author page at 

Splitting the Herd: A corral of Odds and Evens

This story cute little love story about two farmers whose pastures are directly across from each other illustrates the math concept of odds and Evens.

Every so often Miss Emma’s cows wander into cowboy Kirby’s pasture and they have to split them up again. Cowboy Kirby knows just how to split them evenly he counts all the cows up and splits them into odds and evens. Emma takes the even numbered cows and Kirby takes the odd numbered cows, but something is wrong the math just doesn’t add up.

So they meet together to go over the problem over cake in the evenings only they spend so much time talking about other interesting topics that the problem solving gets delayed.  You’ll have to read the book to solve this interesting math puzzle.

Tally Cat Keeps Track by Trudy Harris
So the funny story about this picture book is that I realized after reading the bios at the end that my cousin is married to the illustrator. Crazy huh? Then I went back through the illustrations and found all sorts of clues on the tin cans. The family name is drawn on the tin cans and there are the acronyms BYU and CTR. (Brigham Young University, and Choose the Right) So, yeah I find it ironic that I picked up this book at random and it ended up being produced by someone I knew. Though, I have never met Trudy Harris, who is Andrew’s(the illustrators) mother. I’ve only met him at random family functions as my cousin’s husband. My brother Paul also went to Art Center, a very highly respected art school in California. So that was the clue that tipped me off.

This book tells the story of an Alley cat named Tally, who is always keeping track of how he measures up to everyone around him in competitions with tally marks. Well, this talent come in handy when he get into a spot of trouble. He knows just who to ask for help. This book helps younger reader to recognize and learn how to use tally markes.

The Clock Struck One: a time telling tale

I think this one was one of my favorites it is an expansion of the traditional nursery rhyme. The mouse runs up the clock at one but when it strikes two the cat leaps up to chase him. So goes the rest of this charming picture book as the hours pass the chase continues all throughout the town.

The words have the original nursery rhyme feel, but author adds her own originality to it and so this is a delightful read.

20 Hungry Piggies a number book
Also an extended tale loosely related to a nursery rhyme. This goes through how 20 piggies are getting ready for a barbeque. They are having great fun until a big wolf shows up and threatens to eat them all. The 20 piggies thwart him in the quest to obtain their food.  This one is cute and funny, and helps kids review numbers one through twenty.


 Up Bear, Down Bear
This is a short little board book that tries to convey the idea of up and down. A little girl is playing with her bear by throwing it up and catching it when it comes down, but it gets stuck up in a tree.  How will the little girl get her bear back? A very interesting read as most or the story is told with illustrations and the only words are up, down, and bear. My little girl loved to read this one.

Wow, It’s a Cow
This is a fun farm animal themed pop-up book.  The farmer is giving you good advice on how to find his cow by describing just how it doesn’t look. The animal rolling around in the muck and calling “oink, oink” is obviously not a cow and is a pig. Just pull up the flap and you will see a pig enjoying his pail of delicious slop. Other animals we meet include a horse, duck, bird, sheep, and at long last the famous cow.
Pattern Fish
A delightful under the sea romp intended to teach children about patterns. Each page features a different sea creature that has an accompanying patterned rhyme that illustrates how it looks or moves in the sea. For example, a blow fish goes bubble-bubble-pop as it swims along in the water. The accompanying art emphasizes the patterns in the text. Several pages at the end of the book are dedicated to describing different types of patterns and how we keep track of them.
Say Something Perico
I found this book to be funny because the bird, Perico, speaks Spanish. He keeps getting matched up with owners that misunderstand his Spanish words for English ones. Example one interested pet owner ask how he is doing. Perico responds, "Mal." This leads every to believe that Perico wants to go to the mall. Will Perico ever find an owner that can actually understand him? A clever bilingual book that will amuse many a reader.

Full Bibilography:

Summer Book Trek Wrap-up

I had a lot of fun participating in the Summer Book Trek and I read every book on my reading list got a few reviews up too.

Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Freshman for President by Ally Condie
The Hidden Branch by G.G. Vandagriff
Paige by Annette Lyon

That leaves Castles on the Sand by Emily Mah Tippetts which I did read during the Trek period, but haven't written a review for yet. Finally,  Before I Say Goodbye I didn't read until the second week of September. So, I feel like I did a pretty good job on this trek and it doesn't hurt that I won several prizes.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla Kelly

Mrs. Drew Plays her Hand by Carla Kelly

Roxanna Drew is left a very poor widow after her sick husband dies. Her Brother-in-law tries to make arrangements to care for her and her two daughters, but make it clear that those arrangements will include his unwanted attentions. Sickened, Roxanna begs the caretaker at a nearby estate to stay in a small cottage that is falling apart.

The owner, a military man named Lord Winn has been absent from the property from years being too busy waging war for the king to visit the property. Now that Napoleon has been defeated he must travel visit all his properties and see to their maintenance  or sell them off.  He must impose upon the hospitality of Mrs. Drew when he arrives at his property too late to make contact with his steward. He falls in love not only with Mrs. Drew but her children and jumps at the chance to marry her to protect her from the machinations of her brother-in-law.

I enjoyed reading about Roxanne and her children. I loved how the author made the children such charming characters in the story, and you can see why Lord Winn loved them. Roxanne was also a warm and loving character, but also very strong. I really liked that about her.  I sometimes found Lord Winn to be a bit of a jerk on occasion, but I found him funny also. I loved how he would make jokes about being in the military and taught the girls to wager.  One thing about the end that I found a bit beyond belief was how easily they made amends with Mr. Drew, Roxanne’s brother-in-law. I was really surprised that Roxanne would allow her daughter to stay in his house, under his care alone, after the way he acted toward her. I would worry for my daughter’s safety, and thought the main characters were pretty dumb in how they dealt with that situation.   

Despite that I really enjoyed this read and found the characters solid and entertaining, and the setting fun. For those fans of regency romance this one is sure to please.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Variant by Robison Wells

Variant by Robison Wells

Variant has been on my to read list for quite a while and I got as far as checking it out at the library and then returning it unread when it was due. It however was consumed by my husband and highly recommended, which only served to make me want to read it more. Then I discovered that it went on sale for $2.99 on the kindle. I snatched that book right up and finished reading it by the end of the week. And I really liked it a lot. The main character Benson Fischer is a foster care kid wishing for a new life, a new chance, and new school. He applies and gets a scholarship for Maxfield Academy, a place he is excited to be until he arrives and discovers that everyone inside is trapped.

I love how strong Benson’s character is and how realistically he responds to the situation he is placed into, but he remains unwilling to accept the facts of the situation and keeps trying to find the answers. When he does discover the truth behind Maxfield his stay there turns into a struggle for survival and there is no one he can trust.  This one kept me on the edge of my seat and turning pages until the very end. I loved how each twist and turn of the plot only raised the stakes higher and how interesting the dynamics got between all the characters, especially when all of them didn’t know who they should trust. I am way excited for the sequel in October because the ending was perfect. Just enough information to make the story feel satisfying, to feel like you had learned a little about what was happening, but not enough to give away the whole creepy picture that is just waiting to be revealed.