Archive | January 2016

January book reviews

Obviously I’m not doing a very good job of reviews – but at least I have been keeping track of the books and my ratings – in some cases, I have posted an actual review but not in all. I most recommend What Alice Forgot, The Reach of the Banyan Tree and The Things We Keep though. Oh, and Christmas Bells also!

In short, 16 books (and another one half done already) for January – not bad. Especially when most people don’t read 16 books in a year! But then I have been cooped up inside and had some extra days off this month.

What Alice Forgot – 5 stars

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street – 2 stars

I can’t believe I actually read this entire book – I kept waiting for it to have a point or make sense to me. Maybe it was just too cerebral for me and I just didn’t “get it.” But I thought this was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read.

The Reach of the Banyan Tree – 5 stars

This was a terrific novel set in Vietnam. Rich boy meets local girl – but with lots of twists.

The Letter Writer – 4 stars

Do Not Wash Hands in Plates –  5 stars

Love the author’s sense of humor coupled with the travelogue/memoir of her trip with girlfriends to India. This was a very quick read and will spark an interest in India. But, more importantly, it kept me laughing out loud throughout the book.

Ochoco Reach – 5 stars

I read this on the recommendation of a friend – and I was not disappointed.I hope this is going to be a series. I loved that it kept me interested in “what would happen next.” There were parts that may have been unbelievable, but it didn’t matter because I still wanted to know what was next and how they were going to get out of their next situation.

Christmas Bells – 5 stars

I would give this more stars if I could. I loved it. Chiaverini has a way with historical novels. I fell in love with all the characters in this book. And, no, you really don’t need to only read this at Christmas – it transcends a particular holiday.

Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante – 4 stars

His Majesty’s Hope – 5 stars

The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent –  4 stars

Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees – 4 stars

And this is why I typically don’t read reviews before I read a book. I really enjoyed this book and so many of the other reviews have not been good. I got wrapped up in the characters and felt like I was living the same life. There were some places it was a little slow, but I still finished it in a day – I just couldn’t put it down. And then I found out this was just the first book!

Regarding Anna – 3 stars

A Paris Apartment – 3 ½ stars

I would really like to give this 3 ½ stars – but I rounded up. I felt like April was a spoiled brat and grew tired of her rather quickly. I would like to have read more about the pieces and the auction she was setting up, instead of her whining.

Fields of Wrath – 5 stars

There wasn’t as much undercover as the blurb led me to believe. BUT this was still a very good book and an easy read. I read this quickly and couldn’t put it down.

The Things We Keep –  5 stars

I was drawn into this book – into a world of dementia. I wanted to help Young Guy out. I felt compassion for Anna. In short, I didn’t want this book to end.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story – 4 stars

There wasn’t anything wrong with this book. It was just okay. I never really felt like I just had to finish it though.


News to Share

A few months ago I created a new website for a project at work. Part of that project was that Blossom (our reading mascot) would read some children’s books. I was able to secure the video rights from several indie children’s authors and we recorded Blossom reading the books.

But I was having trouble (a mental block I think) posting the videos in a way that I wanted. So, I have spent a couple of hours this week finally making it the way I wanted (mostly).

I’m getting ready to record another batch of books so I wanted the first ones done right. I think I will feature one video a month on the top level page, but they will all be available.

I want to thank the authors who have agreed to let me use their books. And, I would like to invite any other children’s authors to participate to leave me comments below. I’m always looking for more books.

Click here – Have a look – listen to some great stories!  In fact, look around at the rest of the site – I’m always interested in constructive feedback.IMG_2405

Children’s Book Review Bonanza

You know how much I love children’s picture books. Here are a few I have just received that I wanted to review.

Friendshape by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

3 stars

I was hoping that this would be a book about friends with some emphasis on the shapes as characters. It wasn’t. It was, however, a clever collection of things friends do for each other. I can use the book to explain about each of the shapes though as I read through it. I think it could have been better though.


Misty Zebracorn by Russ Towne, illustrated by Jessica Catarino

5 stars

A cute story about a zebra/unicorn at the beach. I love the rhyming and the illustrations. Just one more book by Russ Towne for children that is delightful to read and provides ample opportunities for a picture walk.


T-Bone’s Traveling Circus by Janice Virant

5 stars

Great story – easy to read – cadence of the rhyming phrases is just delightful – illustrations are captivating. Charming read for young children.


Too Many Tables by Abraham Schroeder, illustrated by Micah Monkey

5 stars

I read this book to a preschool classroom. The children were engaged and loved looking at all of the tables (especially the table with roller skates!). The ending fell a bit flat for them because they couldn’t follow the concept through – I would expect that a little older child would be able to see a broader picture though.


Purple Fox and the Heebie Jeebies by Russ Towne and Josh Friedman, illustrated by Christina Cartwright

5 stars

What a clever tale about a boy dressed up in a Purple Fox costume for Halloween. The rhyming cadence was a little off in a couple of places, but mostly the story was cute and clever with great illustrations.


The Peddler’s Bed by Lauri Fortino, illustrated by Bong Redila

4 stars

Charming story of kindness. It shows that sometimes what we want most is right under our nose (pun intended). Beautifully illustrated. It gives the opportunity to explain new words to children (like peddler).


Flight of the Last Dragon by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Mary GrandPre`

5 stars

The rhyme is easy to read, the illustrations are beautiful. The story explains the stars in the sky (at least one of them), but is still a little on the sad side.

Adult Coloring Books

Coloring is quite addictive. And therapeutic. Check out these new coloring books for adults.

Julian Froment's Blog

No! Not Adult in ‘that’ way. But a whole lot of fun all the same.


Coloring is not just for kids. It has been proven to be an excellent way for adults to destress, create mindfulness and slow down from daily life, all while enjoying an activity that you can truly make your own.

There is no right or wrong way to color in the images in this book, and you are free to choose the tools you wish to work with. Markers, paint, colored pencils, pens – the choices are unlimited.

Sit back and unwind and let your stress melt away while you spread color across the page. All pages are single sided to avoid bleed through.

Relax and enjoy the books in this calming series

creative calm book

creative calm book

creative calm book

creative calm book

creative calm book

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Bobby the Big Blue Bunny

I would love to see this made into a picture book. What a charming little story.

Andrew Joyce


Bobby, the Big Blue Bunny wasn’t always big, and he wasn’t always blue. However, he had always been Bobby, at least for as long as he could remember.

When he was only a white bunny, Bobby used to live in the woods with his other bunny friends. His closest friends were Homer, Janice, and Tommy. They would play together every day. They would play many games, but their favorite was hide-n-seek. That was ever so much fun.

One day, Bobby decided that he was going to be the champion hide-n-seek player of all time. He would hide so well that no one would ever find him. Not even Janice who was the best hide-n-seek player in the whole wide world!

On that day, as Janice covered her eyes and counted to one hundred, Tommy and Homer hid in their usual places. But Bobby went deep into the woods, farther than…

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6 Tips to Encourage Your Child to Read

I love children reading and being read to. These are some great points!

Dayne Sislen Children's Book Illustration

These six steps will start your children on the road to a lifetime of learning and reading.

  1. Read to children as often as possible. If you expose them to reading early and often, it will become a pleasurable experience they will want to repeat when they read on their own.
  2. Picture books can help struggling readers to comprehend a story before they can read all the words. Let them enjoy the process, without getting bogged down with the exact words. Let children ‘pretend to read’ using the pictures for guidance.SCBWI_Postcard_sm_sq_WP
  3. Encourage young children to write and illustrate their own stories. Children have great ideas, make sure they are able to express these ideas freely.
  4. Set aside family reading or story time. This can be a read-aloud by the parent or by an older child. As children get older, this time can set aside just for independent reading, for adults (yes, you too)…

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