Saturday, October 29, 2011

Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet review

Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet

Gilbert has almost everything his fishy heart could desire: a castle, a chest filled with treasure, and food that falls from the sky. But there's one BIG thing missing from his life: a pet. And so begins Gilbert's harrowing search for the perfect fishbowl companion - a search filled with loud barking, quiet buzzing, and one giant whiskered surprise! (goodreads summary)

Here is a charming and witty story about Gilbert, a goldfish who has just about everything a fish could ask for, except his very own pet. When a couple of animals randomly show up, his heart swells with joy at the thought of a pet only to find each one is not what he hoped it would be.  Inside, the illustrations are bright and colorful with the text flowing nicely making it a great read-aloud.  The end has a cute twist of suspense and an unexpected outcome. Best of all, Gilbert is just about the cutest fish with the happiest blue eyes ever. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet
Author: Kelly DiPucchio - Illustrated by Bob Shea
Genre: picture book
Pub. Date: June 2011, Dial Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Friday, October 28, 2011

TGIF GReads! Follow Friday

TGIF is a weekly feature created and hosted by GReads! and it re-caps the week’s posts and will offer a different question each week.........I hope to join from time to time because I like reading what others answer.

This weeks question is:

Spooktacular Reads: Which books do you consider festive Halloween reads? Which stories have chilled you to the bone?

 My Answer:  There are so many fun and creepy Halloween reads it is hard to remember some. Here are a couple that I think have given me a chill and stick in my memory.........


1. Anything written by Stephen King- He has always been my favorite author growing up but this one gave me the biggest creeps! I have always been afraid of clowns and think they are the scariest things.

The Painted Darkness

2. The Painted Darkness by Brian James Freeman - This one was very unusual and it involved some mind bending scary monster fears. It is a short story novel about a man's childhood fears returning into adulthood and you didn't know if things were real or imaginary. I closed the book from the last page and shivered.

Book Blogger Hop - October 28

Book Blogger Hop

Thanks to  Crazy-for-books for hosting this hop, I hope to hop on from time-to-time......I also found some new blogs and I am looking forward to knowing what others are reading and saying! 

This week's question is a fun Halloween one:

“What is your favorite Halloween costume?
Even if you don’t celebrate, what kinds of costumes do you like?”

My Answer: We love Halloween at our house and have had many costumes over the years. I still have a closet full of extra costumes. But I think my favorite was when my husband and I were Deep Sea Divers. We used painters suits, made paper mache' helmets then painted them grey and duct taped some old shoes to look like heavy boots. My son was 15 months at that time and I made a shark costume for him. I used grey sweatpants and shirt and had sewn a stuffed fin and tail on the back. Brings back good memories.........

Another favorite is two years ago my daughter had her heart set on being a mermaid so I attempted to sew a costume for her. I tried my best and it was a little crooked but she loved it with its imperfections anyway!

I am looking forward to finding out what costumes are your favorite! Hoping to get some ideas for next year. Have a great hop weekend......Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Trick or Treat Marley review

Trick or Treat, Marley!

It’s Halloween, the silliest and spookiest night of the year. And when Marley’s around, it’s also the messiest! This year the family is throwing a big Halloween party, and Marley wants to help with the preparations. But in typical Marley fashion, instead of helping he causes havoc. He gets his head stuck in a pumpkin, turns the streamers into confetti, eats all of the Halloween candy, and that’s just the beginning!  (goodreads summary)

Oh, that silly Marley is at it is a cute and funny book children will giggle to when they read about his latest antics. With a heart warming bundle of energy, he seems to be getting into everything just before his family's Halloween party is about to begin.  Of course, there is the actual party itself that Marley lets loose at too. If you are already a fan of Marley, then you probably are aware of the many things this little pup could get himself into. The illustrations are also vibrant with eye pleasing colors of the fall season.  Whether you have a party planned in school or at home for young children, this would make a fun read-aloud for the young ones. The story just put me in the mood for a caramel apple! I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: Trick or Treat Marley
Author: John Grogan - Illustrated by Richard Cowdry
Genre: picture book
Pub. Date: July 2011, Harper-Collins
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hound Dog True review

Hound Dog True

Do not let a mop sit overnight in water. Fix things before they get too big for fixing.  Custodial wisdom:   Mattie Breen writes it all down. She has just one week to convince Uncle Potluck to take her on as his custodial apprentice at Mitchell P. Anderson Elementary School. One week until school starts and she has to be the new girl again. But if she can be Uncle Potluck’s apprentice, she'll have important work to do during lunch and recess. Work that will keep her safely away from the other fifth-graders.  But when her custodial wisdom goes all wrong, Mattie's plan comes crashing down. And only then does she begin to see how one small, brave act can lead to a friend who is hound dog true. (goodreads summary)

Mattie's mom says "when the going gets tough, the tough gets going". Once again, Mattie will be moving and attending a new school.  The thought of starting over in a new classroom, lunchtime, recess and having to make friends is not easy for her. The only good thing is that she and her mom will be living with her Uncle Potluck. The week before school opens, she helps her Uncle who is the school custodian prepare for the new year.  Mattie carries a notebook, taking every important note she can about the job in the hopes he will allow her to become his Custodial Apprentice.  If she has busy work to do, then she just may be able to escape the lunch and recess times.  Meanwhile, a neighbor's niece is visiting and Mattie is not quite sure what to make of a new friendship situation either. Mattie is a gifted writer but a bad incident at her former school holds her back from expression and the comfort of a possible new friendship.  She does not want to let her guard down and not yet ready to trust someone new in her life just yet. 

This was such a wonderful middle grade story about a 5th grade girl who is extremely shy. The author has once again captured the realities of being a child through her writing.  I loved her debut book A Crooked Kind of Perfect  for that reason and this one displays the same gentle and heartwarming feeling.  Mattie could represent many children that have trouble opening up to others or being uncomfortable in new situations.  A betrayal by a classmate from her old school also contributes to Mattie's fears of getting close to others again and I liked that her feelings about the situation were expressed.  There are many memorable characters in this story other than just Mattie. For example, Uncle Potluck was unique and humorous and told the best stories declaring them "hound dog true".   When Quincy came into Mattie's life, she could tell she was easy going and free which gave her more than a few worries. Mattie found it difficult to connect mainly because of her social awkwardness and fears.  Eventually, she becomes an important role in helping Mattie find the courage to bring out her voice. I enjoyed the story written from Mattie's perspective and that it displayed actual difficulties that a child may go through when it comes to shyness and struggles about the social world. Many kids might see themselves in Mattie's shoes and may find the strength and courage to find the voice that is hidden for one reason or another.  Better yet, other readers may find themselves choosing to recognize that one shy person and help them blossom with some encouragement. It is a short read and it focuses on family, friendship and becoming brave enough to speak up when the time is right.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 9-12.~

Title: Hound Dog True
Author: Linda Urban
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Pub. Date: September 2011, Harcourt Children's Books
Hardcover. 152 pgs.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Blogger Hop-October 21

Book Blogger Hop

Thanks to  Crazy-for-books for hosting this hop, I hope to hop on from time-to-time......I also found some new blogs and I am looking forward to knowing what others are reading and saying! 

This week's question is not book related but a fun halloween one:

“What is your favorite type of candy?”

My answer:   We don't have alot of trick or treaters that come because we are at the end of a street and our neighbors always seem to not be home on that day (party poopers). I will buy our favorite candy so we can eat the leftovers. My favorite candy though is Mounds Bars, followed by kids love Skittles and Three Musketeers and my husband loves Snickers. 

Have a good hop weekend!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Purple Little Bird review

Purple Little Bird

Purple Little Bird lives in a very purple world:

He has a purple little house and a purple little garden.  But somehow, it's just not quite perfect.  So Purple Little Bird sets off to find the perfect place for him—and discovers it in a most unexpected way.  (goodreads summary)

Who would have thought purple could be such an interesting and perfect color. Unfortunately, purple little bird becomes restless with it and sets off to explore the world to find something more perfect than his purple life. What he finds are many things along the way but they just do not seem right. This is a cute book about colors and even climates while finding that perfect fit. There are many animals in their habitats that little bird meets along the way. The sweet and adorable pictures are nicely illustrated and the short verses would make for a wonderful read-aloud. With such a variety of animals you could even do some fun character voices I'm sure will have the kids giggling.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: Purple Little Bird
Author: Greg Foley
Pub. Date:  May 2011, Balzer & Bray
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday-October 18

Today is Tuesday and it is time for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Anyone can join and its fun to read what others have to say. This week's Top Ten is:

Judging Books by Their Covers-Do You??

There are so many fantastic covers and it's hard not to want to purchase them just for the artwork. I don't think I can think of ten but here are a few that caught my eye this past summer from our local library that I liked..........I did purchase The Mermaid Garden but have not read it yet.

The Mermaid GardenThe Revenant

Nightshade (Nightshade, #1)Imaginary Girls

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall
Wild Life
Selling Hope

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Revenant review

The Revenant
When Willie arrives in Indian Territory, she knows only one thing: no one can find out who she really is. To escape a home she doesn't belong in anymore, she assumes the name of a former classmate and accepts a teaching job at the Cherokee Female Seminary. Nothing prepares her for what she finds there. Her pupils are the daughters of the Cherokee elite—educated and more wealthy than she, and the school is cloaked in mystery. A student drowned in the river last year, and the girls whisper that she was killed by a jealous lover. Willie's room is the very room the dead girl slept in. The students say her spirit haunts it.  She's also not sure what to make of a boy from the nearby boys' school who has taken an interest in her—his past is cloaked in secrets. Soon, even she has to admit that the revenant may be trying to tell her something. . (goodreads summary)

It is August, 1896 and seventeen year old Willemina Hammond is doing the unthinkable. She is boarding the railway to the Cherokee Female Seminary under a false identity accepting a teaching position that is truly not hers for the taking.  She has assumed the name of a former classmate and will be teaching English classes at the Seminary as Angeline McClure. She finds she is not much older than her students and pretending to be someone she is not becomes quite the challenge for her.  She would much rather be an impostor than return home from her own schooling to her mother's plea for help with the family. Willie's father had passed away and not soon after his death, her mother remarried a neighbor and had children with him. Willie feels betrayed by her mother's choices but finds an opportunity to escape them by taking this teaching job under false pretences.  As the new school year begins, strange things are happening at the Girl's Seminary. There is rumor that a ghost of a student who drowned in the nearby river is haunting the Seminary but for reasons unknown.  There may be more to this death than just accidental. Willie has also captured the eye of a local schoolboy, Eli Sevenstar, who also seems to have unexpectedly captured her heart as well. Not only does she need to cover up her identity but also her feelings for him to keep from being exposed as the fraud she truly is. As more and more ghostly incidents occur at the school, Willie finds herself becoming intensely involved in the mysteries unraveling behind the truth of the Revenant that may bring her more than she bargained for.

Willie and her friend Olivia are determined to find the source of the ghost and why it is haunting with a vengeance.   There are girls in the school who seem to be targets for the ghosts outbursts that cause injury and fear amongst them. They feel it is the ghost of Ella, the student who drowned, because they treated her unkindly during her life. Ella was also the girl who had every boys attention and wishing for her love. There are many diverse characters that make this story appealing and added to the mystery of Ella's death. But, dealing with spooky ghosts is not the only thing Willie is trying to sort out. Her feelings for Eli come into conflict while hiding her identity. Any relationship is forbidden because she is a teacher but her feelings are actually one of a smitten school girl.  This was a simple but chilling historical ghost story that was filled with mystery, murder, plenty of secrets, romance and of course, suspense. It had many twists and turns that were unexpected. Just when I thought I had it figured out, I was pleasantly surprised by another outcome. Passionate feelings and pregnancy before marriage are portrayed but not in too much detail. I did find myself enjoying this debut novel because it had a mysterious and suspenseful plot that kept me interested until the end.  It gave me vivid imagery of the setting because the writing style presented Victorian eloquence and a detailed feeling of an 1890's time period. The cover was quite beautiful, too. I do look forward to reading more books by the author and I think this is a "just right book" for ages 15 and up.~

Title: The Revenant
Author: Sonia Gensler
Pub. Date: June 2011, Alfred A. Knopf - Random House
Genre: young adult fiction
Hardcover, 322 pgs.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Blueberry Girl review

Blueberry Girl

This is a prayer for a blueberry girl . . . A much-loved baby grows into a young woman: brave, adventurous, and lucky. Exploring, traveling, bathed in sunshine, surrounded by the wonders of the world. What every new parent or parent-to-be dreams of for her child, what every girl dreams of for herself.
Let me go places that we've never been, trust and delight in her youth. (goodreads summary)

This book is a beautifully written poem stemmed from the hopes and dreams we have as a mother for our daughters.  A special prayer for girls growing up to find strength, independence and the courage to face the many challenges in their life.  This may not a be a book for everyone because it has such a deep emotional feel to it. You need to read between the lines and then you will find the true meaning of the authors intent. The illustrations have a dreamlike, fantasy quality about them also making it not your typical picture book or bedtime story.  I think it would though be a nice baby shower gift for the expectant mom of a newborn girl.  I could see myself reading it to my daughter now at an age when she needs me to help guide her through those tough years approaching. I think this is a "just right book" for anyone who would like to pass the words and wisdom on to our future generations of women. It truly carries a special message from the heart!~

Title: Blueberry Girl
Author: Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Charles Vess
Pub. Date:  March 2009, Harper Collins
Genre:  poetry
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Blogger Hop - October 14

Book Blogger Hop

Thanks must go to Crazy-For-Books for hosting this weekly book blogger hop. It is a fun and great way to meet other bloggers and share our thoughts. This week's question from Jen is:

“What is your favorite spooky book (i.e. mystery/suspense, thriller, ghost story, etc.)?”

My Answer:  Since I have always loved spooky stories it is hard to think of just one. But I think my favorite spooky book would be Pet Sematary and a close second would be Misery both by Stephen King. He is actually a favorite author when it comes to scary.~

I'm looking forward to reading what other's choose as their favorite spooky book and hope to find some recommendations for some new scary reads too! Have a good weekend.........

Pet Sematary


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday-October 11

It has been a while since I posted a Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Finding more time now that summer has come to an end, I thought I would join up again when I saw today's question.........

My list in no particular order - They just stand out in my mind

- The French Gardener by Santa Montefiore 

- Harry Potter - all seven of them of course!

- The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

- The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

- Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

- Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

- Sparrow Road by Sheila O'Connor

- The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

- The Shining by Stephen King


Apple trees grow in more parts of the world than any other fruit tree. They have been in existence for about two million years. From blossom to pollination to picking, here is information about how they grow, their various parts and different varieties. Instructions on how to plant and care for an apple tree are included. Juice, jelly, cider, pie or right off the tree...apples are delicious (jacket description)

This past weekend, we took advantage of the beautiful fall weather in Wisconsin and went apple picking.  A yearly tradition that we never seem to outgrow and still enjoy together as a family. While out in the orchard, this reminded me of one of my many all-time favorite books by Gail Gibbons.  She provides much information on many topics and Apples is a great addition when it comes to the fall season.  Inside you will find a brief history on how the colonists brought apple seeds from England and then moved westward.  From pollination to picking time to the dormant stage, the book gives wonderful information on all things apple related.  After reading this book, you will gain an appreciation for all the apple truly has to offer. The illustrations are detailed and plentiful as well as bold and bright. For families looking to have a fun family day activity, this book would make a great read-a-loud before you head out to the orchard. Also, a recipe is included in the back pages and I know I am looking forward to baking my first apple pie with my daughter this year. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 4 - 8.~

Title: Apples
Author: Gail Gibbons
Genre: nonfiction
Pub. Date: December 2000, Holiday House
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall review

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall

When twelve-year-old Florence boards the horse-drawn coach in London, she looks forward to a new life at Crutchfield Hall, her great-uncle’s manor house in the English countryside. Anything will be better, Florence thinks, than the grim London orphanage she has just left.  Florence doesn’t reckon with the eerie presence that haunts the cavernous rooms and dimly lit hallways of Crutchfield. It’s the ghost of her cousin Sophia, who died the year before. Sophia’s ghost seeks to recreate the scene of her death and cause someone else to die in her place so that she will be restored to life. And she intends to force her newly arrived cousin to help her. (goodreads summary)

Florence has lived at Miss Medleycoate's Home for Orphan Girls since she was 5 years old when she lost both her parents in a drowning accident. She had no other family to live with until seven years later finds that she is the great-niece of Thomas Crutchfield. He searched a very long time for her and made arrangements for Florence to live at Crutchfield Hall with himself, his spinster of a sister and James, a cousin from her father's brother who also had become orphaned.  Unfortunately, James is very ill and in a fragile state. Not only had he lost his parents but after moving in at Crutchfield Hall, his older sister Sophia was killed in a tragic accident.  Once Florence arrives, she soon realizes she is not welcomed by her Great-Aunt Eugenie and finds that she places Sophia on a pedestal.  When Florence is taken to her new room for the first time, she feels an eeriness about the house, almost as if she is being watched and hears laughter in the halls.  Many strange and unusual things are about to take place behind the doors of this dark and creepy house.  Florence must find the mysteries behind Sophia's death before she can feel settled in her new surroundings and call this place home.

Just in time for halloween, this book will give kids spine tingling shivers. It had many exciting thrills for such a short story and I enjoyed this classic styled ghost tale. The words and characters had a wonderful 19th Century English feel to it and I loved the many references of classic book titles and authors. Hopefully young readers will recognize a few because they are quite old but popular enough for some titles to click.  When Florence encounters Sophia's ghost, it is evident that she was not only nasty in life but it carried over to her afterlife with a vengeance. Sophia is demanding and can make people say and do things beyond their control and Florence cannot seem to escape her bidding. Sophia entices Florence to visit James even though she knows it is forbidden. She finds James is also haunted by his sister and needs help releasing himself from her hold.  The adults in this story want to believe but not sure if they should believe? I think Sophia is written as an unhappy lingering spirit whose anger keeps her from crossing over to a more peaceful and better life.  It is the idea of her popping up at any moment and sensing James and Florence's fear of her anger and mind games whenever she is around that makes this story the scary page turner. What she really wants is for someone to pay for her untimely death so she can come back and live the life she was entitled to.  But who does she want and why? I felt it had a good beginning, climatic middle and a fast wrapped up ending. Everything a spooky ghost story needs to keep you on the edge of your seat.  Although, the end did leave me with questions wondering if there could have been more to finish the story or did the author leave room for a second book.  It was a simple, quick read and may capture the reader who likes psychological type ghost stories as well as the short length. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 10 and up.~

Title: The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall
Author: Mary Downing Hahn
Genre: fiction
Pub. Date: September 2010, Clarion Books
Hardcover, 153 pgs.