Friday, June 28, 2013

Grace's Pictures by Cindy Thomson



Grace's Pictures by Cindy Thomson

Tyndale House Publishers (May 17, 2013) 396 pages

Description:

Grace McCaffery hopes that the bustling streets of New York hold all the promise that the lush hills of Ireland did not. As her efforts to earn enough money to bring her mother to America fail, she wonders if her new Brownie camera could be the answer. But a casual stroll through a beautiful New York City park turns into a hostile run-in with local gangsters, who are convinced her camera holds the first and only photos of their elusive leader. A policeman with a personal commitment to help those less fortunate finds Grace attractive and longs to help her, but Grace believes such men cannot be trusted. Spread thin between her quest to rescue her mother, do well in a new nanny job, and avoid the gang intent on intimidating her, Grace must put her faith in unlikely sources to learn the true meaning of courage and forgiveness.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Honestly, I have mixed feelings about Grace's Pictures! It's such a wonderful book to open ones eyes to the life of an immigrant during the early 1900s. The historical detail is marvelous! I enjoyed the education on "early" cameras. That's not something I get to read about everyday! Learning a bit more about the world of police officers during that time period was also fun.

Unfortunately, I had a very difficult time getting into the book, though. I didn't completely connect with the writing style. It almost comes off having a dark cloud over it for the most part, and has a serious tone to it. While I can enjoy those books perfectly great, I've got to be in the mood for it. When I'm already feeling on the down side, I seem to need more of a "fluffy" read. If I had read this a week later, I *may* have possibly had a better reading experience. I know several of you prefer books like this, so I still encourage you to give this book a try! I honestly believe some of you will *love* it!

Grace is a character that will have to grow on you! I wasn't overly fond of her for most of the story. She has a great deal of trust issues, and she comes off quite rude at first. She's a work in progress, though! She's working hard to overcome her past.

Overall, if you enjoy books with a great deal of historical value, and little romance involved, give this one a chance!




About Cindy Thomson

Cindy Thomson is a writer and an avid genealogy enthusiast. Her love of history and her Scots-Irish heritage have inspired much of her writing. In addition to books, Cindy has written articles for numerous online and print publications. She is a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Historical Novel Society. Cindy and her husband have three grown sons and live in central Ohio.

1. What was your inspiration for this book, Grace’s Pictures?
When the Brownie Camera was introduced, it changed photography forever. What was before expensive and not very portable, suddenly became available for the average person. I read a contemporary commentary that expressed the concern that with everyone carrying a camera, someone could have his/her photograph taken without permission, and what an invasion of privacy that would be. That got me thinking…what if that happened, and at a time before there were very many mug shots available of criminals.
I love writing about immigrants because their stories are a part of who we are today. If not for their bravery and ingenuity, our lives would be much different today, and probably more difficult.

2. Tell me about your main character, Grace McCaffery. Was her character based upon anyone in particular?
Grace comes to America wounded by her experiences of having an abusive father, being evicted from her home by the police, and then having to survive in a workhouse. When her mother gets remarried, to a policeman no less, Grace is horrified. In her mind, avoiding the kind of people who hurt you is the only way to stay safe. When she is sent to America to start a new life, she is not certain she wants to go. She wishes for the confidence and joy she sees in others around her, and she tries to capture it in drawings and snapshots so she can better study it. I know a lot of people, me for one, who would rather observe for a while before stepping out and trying something new. But historically, immigrants could not do that. They were thrust into change and had to adapt and endure.
Grace, like most fictional characters, is not based on any particular person. She is a conglomeration of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers who came to this country seeking a better life, but without many options to support themselves. They must have been frightened at first by this vast new country, but somehow they overcame that fear and founded our American families.

3. What lessons or truths will your readers find in the pages of this novel?
A lesson that I hope is learned in this story is that God provides what we need, but many times it requires us to put
aside our preconceived ideas. No matter what disadvantages we start with, we can turn things around, with God’s
help.

4. How do you expect Grace’s story to resonate with women?
Grace, a young woman who was not nurtured much as a child, becomes a nurturer. She is a nanny with a role that
becomes essential for the children she cares for. I think most women are nurturers. Unfortunately, Grace had a far
from ideal childhood. I think many women struggle with not having been nurtured themselves. Grace’s story
illustrates the hope that God can turn that around, and even in unexpected ways. Grace meets someone who cares
for her, who just happens to work in that dreaded occupation—a policeman.

5. As a writer, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story?
I loved learning about Ellis Island, visiting New York City, and imagining those immigrants of the early 20th century
moving along the same paths I was exploring. I loved writing about how the children Grace cared for helped to
change her. History is fascinating to me, and it's a privilege to be able to write about it.

6. What is your hope for this story? How would you like it to impact readers?
I hope readers will be transported to a time in history when everything was changing at a rapid pace and
experience a bit of what their ancestors’ lives were like. I would like readers, through Grace’s Pictures, to not only
appreciate the sacrifices their ancestors made, but also find the courage to meet their own challenges—everyone
has them.

7. How has this novel helped you to grow as a storyteller?
Grace was at first a difficult character to figure out. I had a loving father who passed away a few months before I
started working on this book. Grace, who did not have a loving father, stretched me a bit, but it was good to
explore what life was like for her and try to imagine how someone like her could not only survive but thrive.

8. What is it about this time period in history that made you want to write about it?
New inventions were constantly popping up, things that we take for granted today. For instance, telephones were becoming more widely available, but immigrants were not familiar with them. Same with electricity. There was a huge disparity between the rich and the poor, and the middle class was the minority. Monopolies were not yet forbidden. The rich were extremely rich. The poor were extremely poor, and the conditions in the tenements were disgraceful. And yet, this was not overlooked. There were gangs and corrupt police, but also scores of charities working hard to protect, educate, and care for immigrants. And it was also a time period of huge numbers of immigrants coming to the country, most through Ellis Island, so in that way this time period has impacted a great many Americans today.

9. What lessons can we learn from the pages of historical fiction?
The Bible tells us, “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16, NLT). Historical fiction uses the power of story to help us find those old ways. We deceive ourselves if we think no one has experienced the struggles we have. Someone has. Why not learn those stories and be led by them?

10. What is one of the best pieces of advice or encouragement you have received?
I’m always open to sound advice. Here is one that has encouraged me. It’s from a tea bag quote.
A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere. ~Joyce A. Meyers

Click HERE to read Chapter 1.

Visit Cindy at her blog, http://cindythomson.blogspot.com

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Seasons of a Mother's Heart Bookclub and Inspiration Journaling



Amy @ Hope is the Word announced a new bookclub for reading through Seasons of a Mother's Heart by Sally Clarkson.

I thought this sounded like a perfect way to encourage me to dig for the inspiration found in this book, and chew on it slowly throughout the summer. As a bonus, it's always nice to see what others gained from their reading that I might not have picked up on. Despite being a book for homeschooling moms, I'm still hoping it will apply to me, too. I'm *not* a homeschooling mom yet. We're actually still on the fence about whether we're going to do homeschooling or public, but we're hanging more on the homeschooling side. My oldest won't start kindergarten until fall 2014, so I'm currently planning out a "practice year" for him.

Just this week I had already added Educating the WholeHearted Child to my library, thanks to a Books-A-Million coupon. After reading about this bookclub, I snagged a copy of Seasons at Abebooks for $3.49(shipping included), which was a great deal. It is a 1st edition, so hopefully I won't be missing out on too much new information.

If you'd like to join in check out Amy's introduction post HERE. She already has the schedule up, too. It's a few chapter every 2 weeks, which is easily manageable. :) Hopefully, my book will get here in time!

Scripture Art

Amy has actually been quite the inspiration for me recently! I've been reading a bit of Charlotte Mason's work and a bit about her, and I was already inspired to start an "inspiration journal" for myself. I can feel the hands of depression trying to pull me under too often these days, and I don't like it! I need to remove a great deal of "twaddle" from my days. Amy posted about "scripture art" and it was like I heard the angels singing! I feel like it's a perfect addition to my days. What better way to de-stress and meditate on God's Word?! I've decided to add this into my "inspirational" journal, too. I may blog a bit with my progress as I go along.

Here's my 1st and 2nd attempts, just to prove to you that you *don't* have to have any talent whatsoever to do scripture art. ;) It's fun! You should try it! I just tried to talk my momma into doing it last night.





*I can't seem to get these crazy pictures smaller at the moment!

I'm planning on working my way through 31 Days of Scripture Art Journaling, so hopefully my attempts will improve a bit by the end.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nalah and the Pink Tiger by Anne Sawyer-Aitch



Nalah and the Pink Tiger by Anne Sawyer-Aitch

Scarletta Kids (March 5, 2013) 40 pages

Nalah has quite a few animals living in her house!

"My mom says I have a big imagination. I think that means she can't see the animals."

There's Mad Tooth the mouse that lives in her sock drawer. She's one to be feared! Then there's Percival Prong, the polka-dot pig that likes to hang out in the bathroom, and Ernestina, the green emu. One day Nalah goes to the zoo, and brings home a pink tiger, named Tico. He gets Nalah into a bit of trouble!

When this book was first welcomed into our home, I automatically noticed the gorgeous pictures. They're bright and FUN! As much as I enjoyed the story and the pictures, I was quite surprised at just how much my two oldest enjoyed the story. Their favorite part of the book was no doubt Mad Tooth's parts, though. When she was first introduced, Grasshopper had himself one giant giggle-fest before we could continue. While he enjoyed the rest of the story, as soon as I finished reading, he flipped back to see Mad Tooth some more. And, giggle some more! Even after a few weeks, both Grasshopper and Firefly are still talking(and giggling) about Mad Tooth and asking about her.

Nalah and the Pink Tiger allows for lots of voice changing opportunity. There's the story, of course, but then there's also little bits of dialogue between the characters happening on the side. My boys especially enjoyed this part of the book, too, I think.

We all give this book a highly recommended for the preschool crowd!

*I was provided a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Paperboy by Vince Vawter



Paperboy by Vince Vawter

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Paperboy is the story of "Little Man". He lives with a stutter and uses a typewriter to express his thoughts. He doesn't like commas, and refuses to use them. When his friend "Rat" leaves for part of the summer, Little Man takes over his route. His biggest worry is when he has to talk to the customers on payday. He's learned many tricks to help him talk better and he does his best to work around his words. He meets several people on his route that open up his world.

This book reminded me a little of Twerp, which I read not too long ago. I really enjoy "coming of age" stories like that, so it was a pleasant surprise. Paperboy is actually a large part memoir. Knowing that automatically warms me to the book more! I've also saw Paperboy compared The Help, except for a younger crowd. I haven't read The Help(don't intend to), but I can definitely see how the comparison would fit from the little part of the movie I watched.

It takes place in 1959, when segregation is still happening. "Mam" works for his family, and helps take care of Little Man in a variety of ways. He uses up quite a few words on her, since he loves her so much.

Overall, this was an entertaining "coming of age" story that will either open your mind to the world of stuttering or offer some encouragement for those dealing with it.

Content:

Despite enjoying "coming of age" stories, unfortunately, there's typically a price to be paid for them.

There is mild profanity throughout(about 4 words, best I remember). (Y'all already know how much I detest that issue in children's fiction, so I'll try not to harp on it too much more). There's also violence, which includes a fight in a bar and a stabbing. There's different little parts that seem like it was written for the adults reading the book. I would hope some things would go over the intended age group's heads.

Due to those issues, I recommend this for older/more mature readers.

*I was provided an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Evertaster: The Buttersmiths' Gold by Adam Glendon Sidwell





The Buttersmiths' Gold (Evertaster Series) by Adam Glendon Sidwell

Future House Publishing (May 2, 2013) 124 pages

BATTLES. BLUEBERRIES. BOVINES.
TORBJORN AND STORFJELL’S HISTORY UNFOLDS IN AN EPIC EVERTASTER NOVELLA.
Everyone knows the most coveted treasure of the Viking Age was blueberry muffins. Blueberry muffins so succulent that if you sniffed just a whiff, you’d want a whole bite. If you bit a bite, you’d want a batch; if you snatched a batch, you’d stop at nothing short of going to war just to claim them all.
Young Torbjorn Trofastsonn comes from the clan that makes them. He’s a Viking through and
through – he’s thirteen winters old, larger than most respectable rocks, and most of all, a Buttersmith. That’s what he thinks anyway, until a charismatic merchant makes Torbjorn question his place among the muffin-makers. When Torbjorn lets the secret of his clan’s muffin recipe slip, he calls doom and destruction down upon his peaceful village and forces his brother Storfjell and his clansmen to do the one thing they are ill-prepared to do: battle for their lives.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

The Buttersmiths' Gold (Evertaster Series) has a folklore quality to it, which I adored! The first book in this series is Evertaster(*). The 2nd book hasn't released yet. The Buttersmiths' Gold is kind of like book 1.5, since it is a novella that connects the other two books. It can be read perfectly great as a standalone, but you will notice some connections if you've read Evertaster.

The story starts out with brothers Torbjorn and Storfell discussing their love of blueberry muffins to a pilot named Braxton. (He's from Evertaster.) They confess that their special butter is the only food they love more. They then begin their tale of Torbjorn and Storfell from generations ago, and how the Golden Fortune of their herds came to be.

The play with food is amazing throughout these books! It's always thrilling to find a new, unique kind of read in the world of children's fiction. The Buttersmiths' Gold is a wonderful addition, with the many different plays with food! Evertaster is proving to be even more creative in the food department. Of course, it might make you a little hungry reading these! ;)

As cute as the cover is, it's a little misleading. These cows are well loved creatures in this book! The viking brothers even carry them on their shoulders at one point in the story, which causes quite a humorous mental picture! The cows were honestly my favorite part of the book, and they quickly won me over, especially when they *laughed*. They were a fun, sweet addition to the story.

The Buttersmiths' Gold is an adventurous tale of the power of loyalty, not only between family and fellow clansmen, but between brothers that don't always see eye to eye. With three boys of my own, stories with brother bonding especially warms my heart. The best part is that this bonding happens in the midst of being chased by "bad guys" of various sorts. Sidwell is fast becoming one of my "go to" authors! I highly recommend this one!


(*) I haven't finished Evertaster yet. I'm currently just over 1/3 of the way through, and I'm LOVING it so far! I'll be posting more thoughts on it soon, Lord willing!

**I was provided a digital copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Check out the homepage for the Evertaster tour HERE. You can see what others think about the books, too!

Enter for your chance at a $25 Amazon gift card or Paypal cash!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Fellowship for Alien Detection by Kevin Emerson



The Fellowship for Alien Detection by Kevin Emerson

Walden Pond Press (February 26, 2013) 432 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I found The Fellowship for Alien Detection to be an enjoyable read! In all of my reading through the years I can't remember one of them being about aliens. (Surely, I'm forgetting at least one, though). For that reason, this one was a refreshing change of pace for me. It had the "weird" quality going on for it, as you would expect in a book about aliens.

Haley is disappointed that she won't be attending Thorny Mountain Music Camp or The Daily Times Junior Correspondent Fellowship during her summer break. She did get into the Fellowship for Alien Detection program, though, which means she gets an all expenses paid, 2 week road trip with her family in order to do some alien research.

Dodger has also been accepted into the Fellowship, so he's going on his alien research trip with his dad. They don't have the best of relationships, and his dad is constantly looking at him oddly. Worse, Dodger keeps picking up radio signals from a town called Juliette, which isn't even on a map. These signals give him headaches and nose bleeds. No wonder he's getting those looks, huh?!

When Dodger and Haley start making connections between missing people and missing spaces of time, they come together to make an even bigger discovery involving aliens.

Despite the fact that I really did enjoyed this book, I have quite a few issues that will keep me from fully recommending it to some of you. My first issue came along pretty quickly. The characters are children and they call their parents by their first names. At 31, I'm not *that* old, but I grew up in a time where that was just plain disrespectful. I don't/won't allow my children to call me by my first name(at least to my face) at any point either. I almost think that this approach *might* have been an attempt to keep things less confusing. Sadly, I found it more confusing. I would have preferred to have saw "Dodger's dad" repeatedly as opposed to his name, Harry. I had to flip back and re-read at times to make sure it was referring to a set of parents, as opposed to a new character.

Another big issue was the word of profanity used. It was only one word. In a children's book, I find profanity at any level intolerable. I know! Some of you may be rolling your eyes. ;) I simply expect when picking up a children's book or handing it over to a child, that we will get the chance to escape into a clean world without worrying about "bad" words. We hear enough of that out in the real world. Fiction reading is a creative escape/journey from the real world. Expecting a clean read is a *huge* reason I enjoy middle grade books so much. Adult books are packed so full of content I don't like, and I hate to see children's books becoming more and more of the same. (*Bas**** was the word used. Not in the "child without a father way", but in the "I don't like you, so I'm going to call you a bad name" kind of way.)

The book is divided into 3 sections. The first part is around 200 pages, and it's about Haley. I was flipping the pages at rapid speed totally into the story, and then part 2 happens. It's almost like a completely new story happens as we now learn about Dodger. (Part 3 is combined efforts at the aliens). When part 2 came along, I was so disappointed that I was thrown into another story that my interest level in the book plummeted a great deal. I still enjoyed it, but it took me awhile to get back into the story and a much harder time picking it back up to read. I'm not against long books! I started feeling its length as my reading progressed with this one, though, and I think it would have benefited from a shorter length.

For me to have enjoyed this book, I sure have did a great deal of complaining, huh?!

Once again, though, I did appreciate the uniqueness of this book, and it's made me want to look into finding more "alien" books, especially when I need a change of reading pace. Also, I greatly appreciated that the parents are involved! They are good parents, and the fact that each set of parents went on a 2 week road trip in order for their children to do alien research shows their love for Dodger and Haley.

The Fellowship for Alien Detection is a book I do recommend (for those of you who think you might enjoy a middle grade alien book), but only with warnings!

*I was provided a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, June 14, 2013

My Very First Noah's Ark Playtime: Activity Book with Stickers




My Thoughts:

My Very First Noah's Ark Playtime is the third sticker book in this line that we've enjoyed, and in my opinion, they keep getting better and better. I adore products that teach about The Bible AND include other types of learning, like colors, numbers, shapes, etc. My Very First Noah's Ark Playtime does just that! There's 16 pages of activities(plus a two page spread of stickers in the center). There's matching pages, a "board" game, a poem, a recipe, and more. It will also teach counting and seasons. It's simply a FUN, educational book all around!

I mentioned in the other two sticker books that they'd be great for church. As much as I love this one, I don't really recommend it for church. There's too many cues for encouraging talking, as we learned with Firefly. It is an awesome little book to spend some quality learning time with your little ones, though. The stickers(so far) have proved reusable. We've peeled some of them off and on a couple of times, and they still work just as well as the first time.

I've also mentioned that these books are recommended for 3-5 years old, but I think younger is more appropriate. I'd say this one would be best for 18 months to 3 years. I'm still guessing the older age is due to little ones possibly putting stickers in their mouths, causing choking issues. So, it's definitely one to use with parental supervision.

We're thrilled to have this book in our activity basket, and we hope they keep coming up with more!

*I was provided a review copy through Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Baked Alaska: A Culinary Mystery by Josi S. Kilpack



Baked Alaska: A Culinary Mystery by Josi S. Kilpack

Shadow Mountain (February 4, 2013) 368 pages

My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed Baked Alaska! I almost *know* I would have enjoyed it more if I'd read any of the other books, though! This is the 9th book for Sadie, and while I wasn't lost in the story, I do feel I could have connected with the characters more if I'd learned more about their quirks and personalities in the other books. I'm sure a great deal has happened in the previous nine stories.

In Baked Alaska, Sadie is on an Alaskan cruise with her boyfriend, Pete, and her two adopted children, Breanna and Shawn. When a woman that Shawn has been mysteriously talking to shows up deathly sick, Sadie starts trying to solve the mystery of just what happened. Breanna is soon getting married also, but is having some setbacks with her future mother-in-law. Sadie struggles with both of her children knowing when to stay out of their lives and when to offer her assistance.

I think my biggest issue with Baked Alaska was the constant telling of how Sadie was feeling, and what she was thinking. I wanted to experience those things a bit more instead. Bless her heart! Sadie has quite a lot of things going through her head! She worries a great deal, and kind of came off insecure in this book. Aren't we all sometimes, though! She definitely has her humorous moments, and I can tell she's a sweet lady! ;)

The mystery is light and cozy-ish, despite deaths happening. I was able to figure out part of the mystery immediately, but other parts I didn't see coming. For the most part, I didn't find it predictable at all. It's a cute little book and I enjoyed myself while in Sadie's new adventure. I'd love to start from the beginning of the series, though, and fill in some details!

*I was provided an e-ARC through Netgalley.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cover Reveal for Shadow Hand by Anne Elisabeth Stengl With GIVEAWAY

Today, you are in for a treat! The Tales of Goldstone Wood Series contains some of THE most beautiful covers I've had the pleasure of seeing. I'm like a giddy fan girl when it comes to these books! ;) Today, the cover of Shadow Hand is revealed.



Is that not one of the most beautiful covers you've ever seen?! I've said that about every one of them, but they are wonderfully gorgeous. I pull these things off my shelf just to look at them.


"She will take your own two hands

To save your ancient, sorrowing lands"


By her father's wish, Lady Daylily is betrothed to the Prince of Southlands. Not the prince she loves, handsome and dispossessed Lionheart, but his cousin, the awkward and foolish Prince Foxbrush. Unable to bear the future she sees as her wedding day dawns, Daylily flees into the dangerous Wilderlands, her only desire to vanish from living memory.

But Foxbrush, determined to rescue his betrothed, pursues Daylily into a new world of magic and peril, a world where vicious Faerie beasts hold sway, a world invaded by a lethal fey parasite . . .

A world that is hauntingly familiar.

I'm looking forward to reading more about Daylily and Foxbrush!


If you haven't had the pleasure of reading these yet, now is the perfect chance! The whole series(that has been released) is on sale right now. I highly recommend them for those of you who like fantasy/fairy tales. I think you'll get more pleasure out of them by reading them in the published order, despite the fact that they go back and forth in time. I've heard from others that have enjoyed them as a standalone, though.

Heartless (Tales of Goldstone Wood Book #1)(FREE on Kindle right now, 6.00 for paperback)

Veiled Rose (Tales of Goldstone Wood Book #2)(1.99 on Kindle)

Moonblood (Tales of Goldstone Wood Book #3)(2.99 on Kindle, 6.00 paperback)

Starflower (Tales of Goldstone Wood Book #4)(2.99 on Kindle, 6.00 paperback)

Dragonwitch (Tales of Goldstone Wood Book #5)(releasing July 1st)




Anne is having a giveaway in celebration of Shadow Hand's cover reveal!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 7, 2013

Didn't Finish

I really don't like not finishing books! But, when there's too much sex/profanity, I have to call it quits. I just heard a lesson a few days ago that helped me in my convictions. My preacher said that if your conscience bothers you about something and you do it anyway, whether it was a sin in the first place *or not*, you're sinning. I've always believed that, but sometimes it helps to have someone else tell me. My conscience bothers me when I read books with sex/profanity(that exceeds the mild level), though, so I have to call it quits more than I'd prefer.

These are a few books I've had to call it quits on in the past few months. (Several of them I've already posted at Goodreads)Honestly, they've all kind of contributed to my running into the pages of more and more middle grade fiction(and Christian non-fiction). I seem to be reading more of both lately. There should be lots more reviews soon! Adult fiction has a way of doing that when I get brave and venture into them. I *am* highly sensitive to these kinds of things, so my comfort level won't be the same as yours. I do appreciate knowing books that I need to mark off my list, though, so hopefully, this will help some of you! :)





His Majesty's Hope: A Maggie Hope Mystery by Susan Elia MacNeal

Unfortunately, this book wasn't my cup of tea all the way around. I don't usually read "war related" books, because I'm highly sensitive to violence, but this seemed like a light book as far as that goes. It's set during World War II, and mostly in Germany, so there's more violence than I cared for. It's still probably pretty mild for those who aren't so sensitive. There's a scene where children are euthanized, because they have something "wrong" with them(deaf, Down's Syndrome, etc.) There's one scene where a Jew is being hung, because he slept with an Aryan. She is having her hair chopped off at the same time. I started out reading this book at night. While I'm rocking Bumblebee to sleep, I have some wonderful, quiet reading time. Unfortunately, it didn't do great things for my sleep, so I had to move my night reading of it to daytime.

Before reading, I thought for sure this was a clean series. I'd been wanting to read them for awhile, so when I got the chance, despite the fact that it was the 3rd book in a series, I jumped at it. I got about halfway through. I only got that far, because I especially hate not finishing a book when I've requested it for review.

There's mild profanity. I only came across one sex scene(remember I stopped halfway). While the act itself wasn't described in detail, there was enough details afterwards that gave me more of a mental picture than I cared for. There's references made to sex, too. Example, two men are in bed, and one tells the other one he knows how he can repay him. It's obvious he wants a sexual favor. Homosexuality seems to be a big theme in this series.

Other than the content, I also simply found it slow for my tastes. I couldn't get into it, and really wasn't drawn to pick it back up, unfortunately. Maybe if I'd read the other books in the series, I would have connected with the characters better.

*I was provided an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.




French Twist: An American Mom's Experiment in Parisian Parenting by Catherine Crawford

When I first saw this book, I put it on my list immediately! It looked interesting. I didn't finish it, though. :S The profanity was more than I'm comfortable with. I was having fun reading it, otherwise! The author has a humorous tone, and although I didn't completely connect with her, I enjoyed the laughs she provided.

From what I read, it seems like any other parenting book...you take some advice and you leave some. It seemed more memoir than advice, though. There was a great deal of comparison between typical American parenting vs. typical French parenting. I'll admit some of the French ways made me a little jealous! ;) But, overall, I won't be taking on French parenting any time soon with my little ones.

*I was provided an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.




The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag

I got about 60% done before calling it quits. Honestly, I should have stopped before then!

Up until I stopped reading, the profanity was pretty mild. Once the f-bomb came along, I skimmed a bit through the next several chapters, and it happens more regularly. Plus, the sex scenes were more than I'm comfortable with.

Of all the books I haven't finished, I think this might have been the hardest one to stop reading! Without all the content I'm not comfortable with, this book is ADORABLE!

The house is a temporary home for women who have lost hope. They each have 99 days to get it together with the help of the house. The house is magical. It will throw a birthday party, complete with cake and balloons. There are pictures all over the walls of past residents, and they have conversations with the guests.

I loved all of the book talk, which always make me smile! There are scenes taking place at a bookstore and a library. Many of the past residents were writers. There are quite a few books mentioned, too.

I really wish the content was cleaner, because otherwise, this was a charming little book!

Content:
Profanity(including the f-bomb), sex scenes, and homosexuality

*I was provided an e-ARC through Netgalley.




The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

I got 67% through before quitting.

This is a fantasy, but it doesn't really seem like one for awhile. There's a bit of mystery throughout reading until almost halfway through as to what the characters actually are. I already knew, though, and that was the only reason I decided to read it.

It's also a historical book, taking place in 1915 at a boarding school. Both of which are pretty cool aspects of the book!

At first, I was reading this book very fast. After a while, it became so slow, though, that I found myself having a hard time picking it back up. Also at first, the profanity was very mild. When "g-d" was used, followed soon by the f-bomb, I decided it was time to set it aside.

*I was provided an e-ARC through Netgalley.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Gannon and Wyatt Series by Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet



In the tradition of the historic journals kept by explorers such as Lewis and Clark, Dr. David Livingstone, and Captain James Cook, comes the fictional adventure book series Travels with Gannon and Wyatt. From Africa to the South Pacific, these twin brothers have traveled to all corners of the globe. The journals, photographs and video compiled on their real-life expeditions provide the foundation for this action-packed educational series.


Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Botswana

Greenleaf Book Group Press (May 28, 2013) 160 pages


When Gannon and Wyatt arrive in Botswana for an African safari, they find themselves tangled up in much more than a family vacation. After receiving word that a poacher has shot and wounded a lioness, they set off into the wild in the hopes of saving the mother and her cubs before the poacher finishes the job. While on this amazing journey, they encounter Africa's Big Five--elephants, rhinos, cape buffaloes, leopards, and lions--only to discover that the most dangerous predator in the African bush is not the king of beasts, but man himself. In the tradition of the historic journals kept by explorers such as Lewis and Clark, Dr. David Livingstone, and

Captain James Cook comes the adventure series Travels with Gannon and Wyatt. From Africa to the South Pacific, these twin brothers have traveled the world. You never know what they will encounter as they venture into the wild, but one thing is certain--wherever Gannon and Wyatt go, adventure is their constant companion.

Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Great Bear Rainforest

Greenleaf Book Group Press (October 1, 2013) 192 pages

Gannon and Wyatt can't wait to trek into the Great Bear Rainforest in search of the mythical spirit bear, but surviving in this unforgiving wilderness proves more challenging than they could have ever imagined. When members of the expedition go missing, the brothers bravely set out on a search-and-rescue mission. Soon they find themselves lost in a forest teeming with grizzlies, wolves and mysterious gunmen. Guided by the wisdom of the First Nation people, Gannon and Wyatt uncover a sinister plot and must risk everything to save those who are missing and restore balance to the Great Bear.

In the tradition of the historic journals kept by explorers such as Lewis and Clark, Dr. David Livingstone, and Captain James Cook comes the adventure series Travels with Gannon and Wyatt. From Africa to the South Pacific, these twin brothers have traveled the world. You never know what they will encounter as they venture into the wild, but one thing is certain--wherever Gannon and Wyatt go, adventure is their constant companion.

**I read both of these books before writing any of my thoughts down, so I decided to just do a combination post for both of them. My thoughts were pretty similar for both books.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I can't imagine a young person out there, especially young men, that wouldn't love this series of books! *I* already wish that the next book was out, so I could read it, too. These books provided me with such a wonderful learning experience. I learned about new places and even cultures of those lands. They are packed full of adventure and wildlife. I learned about some of the dangers that threaten those parts of the world.

The most amazing part of these books is the fact that Gannon and Wyatt are two real young men that have traveled to these places. The adventures are *loosely* based on their experiences. I don't imagine they'd be traveling quite as much if they were held at gunpoint and came so close to death everywhere they went. If you'd like to read more about Gannon and Wyatt, you can check out their website, Travels With Gannon and Wyatt. I found it pretty fun to peek around over there after reading both of the books. I felt like I was putting more of a face with the stories.

There's journaling pages at the end of the book, so your child can record their own adventures and notes. There's even maps at the end, too. I'm a huge sucker for book maps! I imagine these books would give young people a hunger for adventure and travel. It never hurts for education to be wrapped in a fun package, and that's exactly what this series gives.

As much as I enjoyed this series, it's obvious that it's written for young people. If you're an adult that simply reads middle grade for the fun of it, you might find parts of it corny. I won't lie! I did at times. I was easily able to look past it to see what a wonderful gift this series will be for my boys in a few years, though.

Lord willing, you better believe I'll be adding these books to our shelves for my boys to read! They are great, clean, adventurous fun and I enjoyed reading them!

*Great Bear Rainforest gets a *tiny bit* more on the fantasy side with bears and dreams leading the way. I honestly couldn't tell if there was some Christian allegory going on or if it was simply a hat tip to Native American spirit beliefs.

**I was provided an e-ARC of both books in exchange for my honest opinion.