Nov 062015
Home and Away (1)  

Product Details:

  • Title: Home and Away: A World War II Christmas Story
  • Author: Dean Hughes
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (September 29, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1629720933
  • FTC, FYI: I received a review e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

Book Description:
A historical fiction novel told from the perspective of a son fighting on the battlefields of Europe during World War II and his mother, struggling with worry and uncertainty about her soldier son while she tries to keep a semblance of a normal, happy Christmas holiday back on the home front. Norma Hayes has always tried to make Christmas special for her family, but 1944 will make that more difficult with money being tight and wartime rationing making everything hard to come by.

 Aware of his mother’s hardships and the worry from having her eldest son at war, second son, Dennis, is determined to buy his mother a special gift this Christmas, a lavender blue dress he hopes will bring her comfort as a symbol of special times gone by and the hope of a brighter future with the family reunited at war’s end. 

Meantime, on the long campaign to free Europe, her soldier son carries on as best he can, the horrors of war taking its heavy toll on armies and civilians alike. On a battlefield far from home in Holland with his 101st Airborne battalion, he catches a familiar scent of lavender which briefly transports him back to the home front to the perfume scent his mother wore, giving him a short respite and reuniting the family once again if only in his imagination. This historical fiction novel is a nostalgic and tender story about the power of love, the reality of war, and the hope we all have that things will turn out all right.

My Review:
Once I stopped crying after reading the end of the book, I started writing this review. The actual review is not posting for another week, but I had to write down the emotions I was feeling right now.

First let me say, if you buy any new Christmas book this year for your family, Home and Away: A World War II Christmas Story by Dean Hughes is the book to buy!!

 Now, this isn’t the first time that a Dean Hughes story has made me cry. No, he is responsible for many tears shed at my house through the years while reading one of his many novels. I can guarantee that this story will touch your heart, whether or not it’s Christmas time, but it will make it just that more special to read during the holidays.

This story is one that will make you appreciate your family more, your freedoms, and those who are in the military. The spirit of Christmas is strong in the book as the Hayes family is preparing for Christmas. With the war on, supplies and money are scarce. Middle son, Dennis, is going to high school and working an after school job to earn money to buy something nice for his mom for Christmas.His older brother is off fighting in the war in Germany and the family worries if they will ever see him again. This book shows the many miracles and gifts that can be found.

This book is so heart warming that it is the perfect family read-aloud for this Christmas. I know that is exactly what I’m planning on doing this December.

Purchase Home and Away: HERE
add to goodreads
Meet Author Dean Hughes:

Dean Hughes was born in Ogden, Utah on August 24, 1943. He started telling people in junior high that he was going to be a writer, but he did not become serious until he took a creative writing class in high school. During his senior year in high school he started his first novel.

He attended Weber State University studying English, and received a Masters in creative writing and a PhD in literature from the University of Washington. Before he became a full-time writer, he taught English at Central Missouri State University for 8 years. Hughes has also taught creative writing at Brigham Young University.

Hughes was 35 when his first book was published. He has written and published over ninety books. Much of his writing is targeted to children and young adults (particularly sports-themed and World War II-era books), although he is also well known to adult readers of LDS Fiction for “Children of the Promise” and “Hearts of the Children” series, set in World War II and Vietnam War eras respectively. He is one of the writers largely credited with the rapidly increasing quality of Mormon literature in recent years. in 2011 one of his books,Midway to Heaven, was made into a movie.

Dean Hughes is married and has three children and nine grandchildren.
In March 2008, Hughes received a Lifetime Achievement award at the inaugural Whitney Awards.

In September 2013, Hughes celebrated the publication of his 100th book, Through Cloud and Sunshine.

In April 2014 he was awarded a lifetime-achievement AML Award.

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Oct 282015
  Powerofthematchmaker25773945 Product Details:
  • Title: Power of the Matchmaker(A Prequel Novella to the 12 book series)
  • Author: Heather B. Moore
  • File Size: 3402 KB
  • Print Length: 60 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Mirror Press (November 3, 2015)
  • Publication Date: November 3, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B013FIOAE0
  • FTC, FYI: I received a review e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
  • Reviewed by:Sheila

Book Description:
A prequel novella to the POWER OF THE MATCHMAKER Series
Mystical . . . Beautiful . . . Romantic . . .

Read the matchmaker’s story to find out where it all starts . . .

Mae Li has been in love with Chen Zhu for years, and he with her. But when the matchmaker arrives at the Zhu family home, she recommends another village girl for Chen.

Heartbroken, Mae Li watches as Chen does his duty by marrying another. Mae flees her village with the clothes on her back and her only possession—a pearl embedded comb, given to her as a goodbye gift from Chen Zhu.

Upon Mae’s arrival in Shanghai, she quickly learns that she’ll starve within days unless she sells her prized comb or joins a courtesan house. She goes to the Huangpu River and promises the River God that she’ll always be selfless if he will save her from becoming a prostitute . . . Her wish is granted when Ms. Tan, the matchmaker of Shanghai, finds Mae. But Mae must completely change her future and her name if she is to become the next matchmaker. 

My Review: 
The Power of the Matchmaker,though only a novella and 60 pages long, has a huge message. The matchmaker truly has a tremendous power to change lives for good or bad. At the beginning of this story, a prequel to the 12 book Power of the Matchmaker series coming out in 2016, we see how a matchmaker destroys Mae Li’s hopes and dreams to marry the love of her life Chen Zu. You can clearly see through Heather’s beautiful writing how much Chen and Mae Li love each other.

Mae Li runs away from home and the man she didn’t want to marry, when she realizes Chen Zu will marry another girl arranged by the village matchmaker.

With no hope in her life to be able to survive on her own, she meets Ms. Tan, a matchmaker in the city of Shanghai. Mae Li, now Pearl, is taken under Ms. Tan’s wings to become the new matchmaker once the old woman dies. She is given a coin that is the “Power” of the matchmaker, in that it will only work if the matchmaker forsakes her own true love in order to bring together others in love. There is also something very secret that the coin can do, but I’m not going to say what it is because I’ve already given too much away.

The very end of this short story had me crying. The last scene takes place many years later when once again Chen Zu and Mae Li/Pearl meet again. They still love each other and it’s a very tender scene. Pearl stays true to her calling as the matchmaker sacrificing her own love for others. But, there is a moment between them that has to do with a pearl comb that made my heart ache. Oh, Heather Moore, you are a master at your craft in creating emotions and making your readers feel deeply for your characters.

This novella is a must read before you begin reading the first of the 12 books that will be coming out in 2016 about The Power of the Matchmaker. Personally, I can’t wait to read each and every one.  

This sweet, 60 page novella get’s 5 sweet stars***** from me!

Purchase HERE at Amazon
Meet Author: Heather B. Moore
Heather Moore
H.B. Moore is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of more than a dozen historical novels set in ancient Arabia and Mesoamerica. She attended the Cairo American College in Egypt and the Anglican International School in Jerusalem and received her bachelor of science degree from Brigham Young University. She writes historical thrillers under the pen name H.B. Moore, and romance and women’s fiction under the name Heather B. Moore. It can be confusing, so her kids just call her Mom.

Released once a month in 2016!!
The Power of the Matchmaker Series
12 novels by 12 bestselling authors

Broken Things to Mend by Karey White (Jan 2016)
Not Always Happenstance by Rachael Anderson (Feb 2016)
If We Were a Movie by Kelly Oram (March 2016)
Love is Come by Heather B. Moore (April 2016)
Four Chambers by Julie Wright (May 2016)
O’er the River Liffey by Heidi Ashworth (June 2016)
Chasing Fireflies by Taylor Dean (July 2016)
Between Earth and Heaven by Michele Paige Holmes (Aug 2016)
How I Met Your Brother by Janette Rallison (Sept 2016)
To Move the World by Regina Sirois (Oct 2016)
King of the Friend Zone by Sheralyn Pratt (Nov 2016)
The Reformer by Jaima Fixsen (Dec 2016)

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Oct 232015

Castle CollectionProduct Details:

  • Title: Castle Collection (A Sweet and Sassy Anthology)
  • Authors: Cindy Hogan, Jo Noelle, Donna K. Weaver, Paige Timothy, Kaye P. Clark,
  • File Size: 1058 KB
  • Print Length: 490 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Little ,Box Press, LLC (September 18, 2015)
  • Publication Date: September 18, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0153LE9KW
  • FTC, FYI: I received a review e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sweet and Sassy Anthology: Castle Collection
Readers will be delighted with five sweet, romance novellas in Sweet and Sassy: Castle Collection. In this charming anthology, you will fall in love again and again. Dangerous Truth by Cindy M. Hogan All By My Selfie by Jo Noelle A Savage Ghost by Donna K. Weaver The Ghost of Dunlow Manor by Paige Timothy Rose of Sherwood by Kaye P. Clark 

DANGEROUS TRUTH Olivia loves everything about Belgium. So far, her humanitarian trip has gone perfectly–that is, until she sees a picture of a man she thinks is her father in the newspaper. The father who abandoned her family nine years ago without a word. She tries to forget she ever saw his photo. He’s forgotten about her, after all. But soon it’s apparent that she can’t leave without knowing what happened. Armed with years of hurt and the help of a gorgeous French photographer, she decides to confront him and his secrets once and for all. Unfortunately, her father seems determined to keep those secrets hidden. . . and Olivia is one of them.  

ALL BY MY SELFIE While on vacation at McLeod Castle in Scotland, Gwen Mackenzie has nightly dreams of an ancient warrior bound by a curse. During the day, she sees Niall, nicknamed #ScottishBoyfriend. Oh, and can that man rock a kilt! As she gets to know him, she realizes that Niall is the warrior from her dreams, cursed to live as a ghost for the past five hundred years, to see life around him but never sense any of it—except Gwen.  

A SAVAGE GHOST Lia Savage reluctantly puts her dream of opening a dessert boutique on hold to help her dad remodel a castle he’s inherited in Washington State. Soon, a specter targets her younger sister. Lia enlists the help of Coop Montgomery, the head gardener and her former crush. As they search together for a way to rid the castle of its ghost, the romance she used to dream about with him kindles. But Lia’s gentle giant means to stay in Washington while she’s determined to return to California. She must find the courage to face both the ghost and her future. With Coop. Or without him.  

THE GHOST OF DUNLOW MANOR Bestselling author Alexis St. John needs an escape, and Nate, her personal assistant, thinks that a trip to a real castle in England will be just the thing. What neither of them planned on, though, was to encounter an actual ghost. Lady Catherine Dunlow hates the idea of sharing her castle with tourists and does everything she can to chase them out, much to the amusement of her roguish suitor. But when her two newest guests stumble upon a mystery surrounding her death, she decides to let them stay. With an eternal fate in the balance, Nate and Alexis must move quickly to bring the killer to light before Catherine is trapped forever.  

ROSE OF SHERWOOD Lady Rosamund, Baroness of Ravenswood Manor, is a destitute widow, imprisoned in Nottingham Castle. When the prince declares she must marry the ruthless man who had seized Ravenswood, she escapes with the help of a band of outlaws to Sherwood Forest. Her first love, a battle-worn knight, promises to help her find safety at a convent. Confused and afraid, her heart yearns for love. But are the risks too high?

 My Review:
This anthology, 5 novellas, has some wonderful stories. Each one takes place in some kind of a castle. Many of them had ghosts that they encountered within the castles.  Of course there was also some type of romance to be found in each story, even with the ghosts.
 I loved each story, but the love story in “All By My Selfie” just got to me because of how much each character was willing to sacrifice for each other. This is truly interesting, considering one of those people is in “stasis”, not really living and not really dead. This story was so intriguing!
I also liked how there was a sense of mystery to all of the stories. The action in “Dangerous Truth” was intense, which author Cindy Hogan is know for in other stories she’s written. 
These stories are well written. You could tell there were levels of research done by these authors which made the stories interesting and felt realistic, even with the ghosts wandering around the castles and doing spooky things in the novellas “A Savage Ghost”(One very scary ghost and one that made my heart sigh), and “The Ghost of Dunlow Manor” (The ghosts were not only scary at times, but very humorous! I especially loved Sir Ian.) I also loved, “The Rose of Sherwood” which takes you back to Sherwood forest and the fun during the time of Robin Hood.
What a great time of the year to be reading stories of castles and ghosts. You will enjoy reading this new anthology as you get lost in the splendor and mystery that awaits you in the Castle Collection.
Excerpts from each story:
We were the last ones in line and would have to take whatever seats were left in the boat. I hoped I’d still be able to get a good enough seat to take the pictures I hoped for. Ten other passengers were already on board, and the motorboat rocked slightly while everyone got situated. I stepped into the small tour boat, sliding my way across the last available bench, stopping just short of sitting on a guy who had claimed the furthest seat. Unfortunately, Sloan didn’t stop and my whole body shoved into the stranger.
“Sloan! Stop! You pushed me right into someone.” I turned to the guy to apologize and stopped with my jaw hanging open as I stared at what had to be a living representation of the front page of GQ. His face was tan, with high cheekbones that seemed the natural resting spot for the sleek, wire-framed glasses that rested on them. He was wearing a silk tie over a polished, collared shirt that stretched slightly over his broad shoulders, showing off just enough of the form beneath that it was obvious he was toned. His trousers hugged his hips and draped over his legs perfectly, ending over a pair of gleaming wing-tipped shoes. In his lap, a folded newspaper rested casually. Of course.
Toward the warped edge of my suite’s window, I see a man in an archaic blue and green kilt, that’s wrapped, belted, and thrown over one shoulder. He’s sitting on a large boulder near the parking lot. Okay, Josie was so right on this one. Hot men in kilts do just hang around in Scotland. Might be fun to meet a guy to kick up the happy factor in this vacation.
I hope I’m being stealthy when I raise my phone in front of me and take his picture. He’s not close enough to really see, so I take another, zooming as close as I can. His shirt looks like plain linen stretched across his broad shoulders, and he has one knee bent with his leather-booted foot on the rock. I catch myself staring—I’ll bet he gets that a lot. I text the close-up to Josie with a note about the “beautiful sights” I’m enjoying.
Maybe Scottish Boyfriend is an actor in period costume. I hope that’s on the program for the hotel guests; I’d love to see what the culture was like here centuries ago. His eyes flick to my window as if he is looking right at me. Though he’s probably just looking at the castle, butterflies tumble through my middle. Wondering if I have time to talk with him—strictly about history, and take a quick selfie with him before the castle tour begins—I check the clock on the table then turn back around, but he’s gone.
Hugh concentrated on the haze that should be the main hearth and willed it to come into focus. Nothing changed at first, but then the fireplace sharpened. His shoulders relaxed. At last, after struggling for so long, enough of his sense of self had returned. And some of his power.
How long had it been? All he could recall were a few times, every once in a while, when he was able to interact with the people in this new place.
He tried to run his diaphanous hand along the mantel, frustrated when it passed through. Staring hard, Hugh grasped the single wooden-framed picture resting on it. The small portrait lifted into the air. He crowed, for once not caring that such a sound was beneath his dignity.
A gasp from behind startled him, and his hand turned translucent again. Without substance, his fingers lost their grip. The picture crashed to the hearth and shattered. Livid, he spun, refocusing his energy. He fueled his will with anger, and his hands took form. The gray-haired woman gave a satisfying shriek before covering her mouth with her hands.
“Remove yourself from my home at once,” he commanded, his voice low and menacing. He kicked a piece of broken frame, and it flew toward her. With a cry, the servant ducked and ran from the room.
Lady Catherine Dunlow paced the balcony of her third-floor bedroom, her skirts swirling behind her as she moved. She was absolutely furious, and she pounded that fury into the stones beneath her feet. She hated strangers. She hated strangers coming into her house. She hated strangers coming into her house and acting like they owned the place. And yet, they kept coming, no matter what she did.
Dunlow Manor had been in her family for generations. It had belonged to her twelfth great-grandfather, and now she was its rightful owner. She had never given permission for unfamiliar people to come and stay within its walls, and yet they did, taking no thought for her feelings on the matter whatsoever.
She didn’t rest at all that night. Instead, she paced and fumed, fumed and paced. She went outside a few times and glared down at their car, but no ideas came to her. This had to stop somehow—it just had to.
The long, high-ceilinged room was almost ready for the prince’s arrival. Fresh-smelling rushes had been laid on the stone floor; new candles had replaced the old. Soot-darkened wall hangings had been taken down. Men on ladders hung brightly-colored tapestries in their place.
Lady Blanche, the sheriff’s wife, sat at the high table overseeing the work. Her pale, blonde hair hung in long braids, entwined with black ribbons. She rested her hands atop her bulging belly. Blanche was the queen bee, and I knew from experience, her sting could hurt.
Blanche stepped down from the dais to confront me. “You vex me, girl. Your flowers may please the prince, but they do not please me. I needed your help earlier.”
I drew in a long breath. “I am not a servant.”
“You certainly look like one. You’ve been out in the sun without a hat; your face is freckled already. And look at your hands! They’re filthy!”
“I am the wife of Sir Godfrey of Anjou, Baroness of Ravenswood Manor,” I said, hiding my hands behind my back.
“Little good that does you.” Lady Blanche snatched the lavender bloom from my bodice and tucked it in her own. “You’re confined to Nottingham Castle until your husband returns. If he returns.”

About the Authors:

Cindy M. Hogan is inspired by the unpredictable teenagers she teaches. More than anything she loves the time she has with her own teenage daughters and wishes she could freeze them at this fun age. If she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her snuggled up with the love of her life watching a great movie or planning their next party. Most of all, she loves to laugh.

Jo Noelle grew up in Colorado and Utah but also lived in Idaho and California. She has two adult children and three small kids. She teaches teachers and students about reading and writing, grows freakishly large tomatoes, enjoys cooking, builds furniture, sews beautiful dresses, and goes hiking in the nearby mountains. Oh, and she’s two people, Canda Mortensen and Deanna Henderson, a mother/daughter writing team.  

Donna K. Weaver: A wife, mother, grandmother, Harry Potter geek, Navy brat, Army veteran, and karate black belt. Donna is an avid cruiser, having sailed the Pacific five times. She’s lived in South Korea, the Philippines, Germany, and many US states. She and her husband raised six children and currently have nine grandchildren.  

Paige Timothy has been writing for as long as she can remember… and probably before that, too, because her memory gets spotty at a certain point. She loves watching romantic comedies, blushes when the characters do something embarrassing, and sighs in all the right places.  

Kaye P. Clark was born in New York City, grew up in southern California and raised her family living on remote cattle ranches in Arizona. She now makes her home in Idaho where she works part-time at the county library and teaches art to young children. She’s a mother and grandmother with a very patient husband who puts up with her passion for writing.   $25 Blog Tour giveaway  
Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 11/1/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Oct 092015

Caretakers Guide to Fablehaven

Product Details

  • Title: The Caretaker’s Guide to Fablehaven
  • Author: Brandon Mull
  • Illustrator: Brandon Dorman
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (October 13, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1629720917
  • FTC, FYI: I received a review e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Caretaker’s Guide to Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
This guidebook to the Fablehaven magical preserve is filled with everything a new Caretaker might need to know in order to survive. There are entries detailing important information about artifacts large and small, a complete bestiary of creatures (from fairies to trolls to satyrs), a guide to identifying demons, dragons, and wizards as well as valuable insights into the other magical preserves.
Immerse yourself into the secret knowledge that has been handed down through the generations by reading the updates and notes written in the margins by the former Caretakers of Fablehaven, including Grandpa Sorenson, Kendra, and Seth. Fully-illustrated, this unique encyclopedia has gathered the world of Fablehaven into one volume.
My Review: by Sheila
Fablehaven has always been one of my favorite series. It is special and so unique in it’s characters and the storyline. I have found that fans of all ages love Fablehaven and this book will make all Fablehaven fans scream with delight! It was so exciting to be able to review an early e-copy of The Caretakers Guide to Fablehaven. This book is absolutely beautiful! It showcases the amazing talents of illustrator Brandon Dorman, who brings to life in colorful drawings and sketches, all of the characters and creatures found in the Fablehaven series. There are many descriptions and notes from the characters, spilling details from the series for those who’ve never read them and for those of us who need to revisit them again. 
My family is such a huge fan of Brandon Mull’s books, but especially this series. We will make sure that this book is a part of our already huge collection of Mull’s work. With a new series of Fablehaven books coming out next year (YAY!), this guide will get you pumped up for the continuation of the world of Fablehaven.
Fablehaven Caretakers
Excerpt from Introduction:

If you are in possession of this book you are assumed to be the caretaker or an apprentice caretaker of Fablehaven. By now you’ve been introduced to the world of mythical and magical creatures. However, there is still much to learn. Previous caretakers of Fablehaven thought it would be helpful to create a Caretaker’s Guide specifically for those tasked with the job of nurturing, protecting, and surviving this preserve and its inhabitants. Do not be fooled. Fablehaven is an unpredictable and dangerous place. However, the collective knowledge gathered within the pages of this bestiary will give you the knowledge and wisdom needed to not only survive but to thrive. The creatures of Fablehaven are either light or dark, not necessarily good or evil. In order to be good, one must recognize the difference between right and wrong and strive to choose the right. To be truly evil one must do the contrary. Being good or evil is a choice. This is not so with the creatures of Fablehaven. What they are largely governs how they act. Some are inherently builders, some are nurturers, some are playful. Some are inherently destroyers, some are deceivers, some crave power. Some love light, some love darkness. But change their nature, and without much resistance, their identities follow. Like a fairy becoming an imp, or an imp regaining her fairyhood. Much counsel and advice has been passed down through generations and given to the new caretakers of this preserve. Perhaps the most invaluable piece of advice that has ever been given is this: Those who are careful to cause no mischief, work no magic, and inflict no harm are protected by the foundational treaty of Fablehaven. This truth alone may be your strongest ally and your only defense. One final note. The signs leading up to the front gate were not always there. In the late eighteenth century, before the guest register that controls access to Fablehaven was created, two poachers entered the property in search of big game. Needless to say, they found it. Or it found them. Many days later, the resident caretaker found them as well. Or at least he found their bodies of petrified stone. And thus the first signs outside the gates of Fablehaven were posted. As caretaker you have accepted a most noble assignment. Keep your eyes open. Obey with exactness. Take risks only as the last resort and you will have a better chance at seeing another sunrise. Welcome to Fablehaven.

Meet: Author Brandon Mull
Brandon Brandon Mull is the author of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling Beyonders and Fablehaven series. Brandon resides in a happy little valley near the mouth of a canyon with his wife and four children. He spent two years living in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile where he learned Spanish and juggling. He once won a pudding eating contest in the park behind his grandma’s house, earning a gold medal.
Brandon Dorman is the illustrator of the New York Times bestseller The Wizard. His work has appeared in childrens books and on numerous covers, including the Fablehaven series and The Candy Shop War series.
$25 Blog Tour giveaway
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$25 Amazon eGift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 10/28/15
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an eGift Card or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Oct 022015

Westly51DNspxRg5L._SX361_BO1,204,203,200_ Product Details

  • Title: Westly: A Spider’s Tale
  • Author: Bryan Beau
  • Genre: Fantasy for ages 8+
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (September 29, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1629720682
  • FTC, FYI: I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
  • Reviewed by Sheila and her 2nd grade class


Book Description:  

He  didn’t look like anyone else

He didn’t act like anyone else.

But Westly was destined to be extraordinary.

This is tale of a caterpillar named Westly who is destined to be a Monarch butterfly and the next king of the butterfly kingdom. But sometimes things don’t turn out the way we plan. When Westly emerges from his cocoon he is nothing like he expected. He’s a spider! And he must navigate the social hierarchy with butterflies at the top and insects at the bottom and Westly somewhere in-between. Adopted by the “dirt eaters,” Westly is determined to make a difference. He is determined to belong, to be loved, and most importantly, to become who he was born to be.

My Review:
I was very excited to read Westly: A Spider’s Tale to my 2nd grade class. I have to say, they were enchanted from the first chapter. They really loved the characters and they also liked the different voices I used as I read the novel to them. This book is perfect for the age group I teach, 7-8 year olds. They couldn’t wait each day until after lunch when it was time for Read-Aloud. They all groaned when I ended a chapter and put the book away to do something else. They learned the main message from the book, {which impressed me} without me telling them.

I decided to have my class help me write this review. When we finished the book, I had them write down what they liked the most about Westly. Who better to see how kids liked the book than hear from kids themselves? So here is what they had to say, at least those who turned their paper in…{There may be some spoilers here :) and the spelling has been corrected in order for you to read their comments. ;) }

Beckett: “My favorite character was the raven. I liked the book because Westly became a hero and saved all the insects.”

Cole: “My favorite characters were Westly, Zug Zug and the Raven.”

Ava:  “I like when Westly turns into a spider. My favorite characters is Zug Zug the fly.”

Gretta: “My favorite part was when Wesley was in the menagerie and he almost died, but it was super, duper sad…I would think every body would like Westly. It is awesome; my favorite book! 

Ty: “Westly learned being different was fine.”

Serg: “I learned that at the end Westly became King of the menagerie.”

Aryianna:  “I learned it doesn’t matter if someone is different. I just love Westly. It’s a good book!”

Brooklyn: “I liked the part where Westly’s dad hugs him. I want to share it with my friends.”

Evan: “I liked that we don’t have to be sad if we are different. I like the book because it is exciting!

Brody: “I liked the story because of the moth…you should buy it and Westly.”

Lillian: “I loved when Westly stuck up for his friends, even the raven. I recommend 2nd grade and up will like this book.”

Jaslene: “I like Westly and Zug Zug. They live in the menagerie. I recommend it.”

Edison: “I love Westly and the Raven KIng and learned that different is good. The story was very funny…a good book for all ages.”

Will: “I learned that you should never give up.”  

Charlie: “Westly was a very good spider. I like how he got the key from the worms.”

Dyson: “My favorite characters were Westly, Zug Zug, the worms, the raven and the dragonfly.”

Owen W. “I liked the pictures. It is a good story. You should read it.”

Jordan: “The raven was scary and they all looked awesome. I liked it!”

 So there you have it! It’s a great book, with a good message for kids, and very entertaining.  So from my 2nd grade class, they recommend this book to other kids. 

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Meet Author Bryan Beus:

Bryan Beus – which rhymes with Zeus – is the winner of the Kirchoff/Wohlberg Award from The New York Society of Illustrators. He works full time as an illustrator for magazines, book covers, film and game conceptual art, and more. When not writing and drawing, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amanda, mindful meditation, drinking root beer floats, and eating far too many Sour Patch Watermelons. Westly is his debut novel.

What did you think of my student’s reviews?  Please leave a comment about how you think they did?

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Sep 292015

played-for-a-fool-cover Product Details

  • Title: Played for a fool
  • Author: Stephanie Black
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Covenant Communications Inc.; Pap/Com edition (September 5, 2015)
  • Genre: Mystery/Suspense
  • ISBN-10: 1680476505
  • FTC, FYI: I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
  • Reviewed by: Sheila
Book Description:

Three years ago, the small town of Britteridge was rocked by the senseless murder of Gail Ludlum. Now the people most affected by the tragedy have returned to the place where it all began, and the scene is set for the perfect revenge . . .
Megan O’Connor’s life was shattered when she was unwittingly drawn into a kidnapping plot that ultimately led to the murder of an innocent woman. Though the road to redemption has been long, she’s finally found happiness with her recent engagement to a wonderful man, a pillar of the community. But amid the chaos of wedding planning, the return of Gail Ludlum’s son to Britteridge sets in motion a disturbing sequence of events. Soon Megan finds herself the victim of a series of cruel deceptions that indicate one thing: her past mistakes have not been forgiven or forgotten. As the mischief escalates to dangerous levels, it becomes clear that someone is determined to avenge Gail’s death. And he won’t rest until he’s taken a life for a life.

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My Review: 
Just like every other mystery/suspense book I’ve read by this author, I should realize I can’t just pick up the book, read for awhile and walk away. No, I make this mistake every time. I pick up the book read, then read some more, realize it’s midnight and I have to teach the next day, but I still can’t put the book down, and keep reading until I pass out. It was pure torture to work all day and have to wait until I came home to finish the book.
Played for a Fool is one of those books where you know exactly who is behind all of the crazy things happening to the main character, but you just don’t know how or when the next thing is going to happen. You worry and panic for main character Megan O’ Connor whose life is finally settling down after tragedies that had happened three years before. Just when Megan thinks maybe she can have a normal life with her twin sister in jail for murder and kidnapping, the past has come back to start wrecking havoc in her life by making it look like Megan is as bad as her sister. It’s really frustrating when even Megan’s finance Trevor starts thinking that Megan is behind the strange things happening; after all it was his kid sister that was kidnapped by Megan’s sister and almost killed and Megan was duped into helping with the kidnapping. There is a lot of action and much deception in this novel. Just when you think things are starting to settle down, guess what? It’s time for more crazy action that will keep you strapped to this novel. As I said earlier, be prepared to set aside a day to read this book, because it’s very hard to put down. The interesting characters and the schemes going on all around, will keep this book in your hands and your mind whirling, way after you have read the last page. Another winner for author Stephanie Black!
Meet the Author: Stephanie Black
STEPHANIE BLACK has loved books since she was old enough to grab the pages, and has enjoyed creating make-believe adventures since she and her sisters were inventing long Barbie games filled with intrigue and danger or running around pretending to be detectives. She is a three-time Whitney Award winner for Best Mystery/Suspense, most recently for Cold as Ice (2010). Stephanie was born in Utah and has lived in various places, including Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and Limerick, Ireland. She currently lives in northern California and enjoys spending time with her husband Brian and their five children. She is a fan of chocolate, cheesecake, and her husband’s homemade bread.

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