The Last One – A Review

The Last One

I put this title on my reviewer’s wishlist, and I am SO glad I did!  I give it 5 stars because Alexandra Oliva’s The Last One does NOT disappoint!

In this enjoyable debut, the author manages to do a great job of depicting what it would be like to be on a Survivor-esque reality show. In addition to the on screen talent, the reader “meets” the editors, producers and cameramen through the contestants. It becomes easy to see how living the situation they’re in can bring out both the best and the worst in people. Then… There is the surreal aspect that while the contests think they are on the show, the rest of the world is essentially playing a game of Survivor, too. While the contestants don’t all know the game is over, the rest of the world is battling against an unknown (biological?) enemy that is rapidly making its way through the population…

The story, told in alternate timelines, leaves the reader guessing when our main heroine will figure out that she’s no longer in the game and facing very real threats… Will she survive? If she does, and everything as she knows it is gone, will she want to?

As much as this is a fun read, it also does a good job of examining who we are without the people we love, attitudes toward motherhood and PTSD/psychological stress.

I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review.  If you check it out, I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Dexter the Very Good Goat – A Children’s Book Review

Dexter the Very Good Goat

Jean Malone’s Dexter the Very Good Goat is an adorable children’s book with sweet illustrations. Dexter the Goat is very good… Most of the time. He’s nice to the visitors, and he’s nice to his keepers. It’s hard to be good when he’s afraid though. Sometimes, he’s naughty when it’s time for doctor and grooming things to be done. His keepers are always gentle though and take the very best care of him.

This is a cute story that reinforces rewards (like scratches!) for good behaviors and doing the right thing even when it’s tough or scary. It’s fun to talk about the differences in the goats with your toddler and relate it to how different every person is.

I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review.


Calling All Cars – Children’s Book Review and Giveaway

Calling All Cars cover

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing an advanced copy of Calling All Cars, which was written by Sue Fliess and illustrated by Sarah Beise.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and shared my thoughts right away. Maybe it’s because I have a little car lover on my hands… This book is a HUGE hit! From the rhyming used throughout the book to the wonderfully fun and colorful illustrations, I couldn’t find a single thing not to love! I think this is a must have in your little automobile lover’s collection.  As a special treat, three copies of the book will be given away…  Make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom for details!

About the Book

Big cars, small cars, let’s call ALL cars! This bouncy text explores the wonderful world of cars zipping up, down, fast, and slow. A perfect basic concept books for eager young learners from the author of Tons of Trucks. Then cruise into bedtime!

Rest cars, Hush cars

No more rush, cars.

Cars pull in, turn off the light.

Sweet dreams, sleepy cars…goodnight!

Filled with vibrant art, adorable animal characters, and cars of all kinds from love bugs to the demolition derby, Calling All Cars is for every child who loves to read about things that go! Surprise bonus—follow one long road throughout this vividly imagined world and don’t miss the hidden clues in the artwork!

Calling All Cars spread

 

Additional praise for Calling All Cars:

“Each double-page spread offers a surplus of amusing sights: three pigs in a convertible, a kitten chauffeuring a royal pair of lions, love-struck snakes hugging and tugging their cars too close together. Beise’s digital illustrations pop with vivid colors…. [Fliess’] rhyming couplets bounce off the page.” —Kirkus Reviews

“This successful collaboration combines brisk and spirited writing with bold, effervescent pictures and will have wide appeal to young readers. Fliess’s punchy rhymes mimic the speed and energy of the cars being described, making for a lively read-aloud… Young car enthusiasts will enjoy the ride through this zippy, robust picture book.” —School Library Journal

 

Interested in purchasing this title for your little one?

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1WHmpgX

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1QZwx0q

Books a Million: http://bit.ly/1SRWipt

Sue Fliess photo

About the Author

Sue Fliess is the author of more than a dozen children’s books, including the popular Tons of Trucks and Robots, Robots Everywhere! Her background is in copywriting, PR, and marketing, and her articles have appeared in O, the Oprah Magazine; Huffington Post; Writer’s Digest; and more. Her article from O, the Oprah Magazine was chosen for inclusion in O’s Little Book of Happiness (March 2015). Sue lives with her family and a Lab named Charlie in Northern Virginia. Visit her online at www.suefliess.com.

Connect with Sue Fliess

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Sue.Fliess.Author

Twitter: https://twitter.com/suefliess

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/suefliess/

 

About the Illustrator

Sarah Beise, a graduate of Minneapolis College of Art and Design, is an innovative illustrator and designer who loves to create fun and unique characters that help tell stories. Originally from Matthews, NC she now makes Kansas City her home along with her two dogs, Maxwell and Mazzie May. For more info visit www.SarahBeise.com.

Connect with Sarah Beise

Website: http://www.colordotstudio.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Sarah-Beise-Art-Design-LLC-233477983374912/

 

Calling All Cars Giveaway

Runs March 1-31 (US and Canada only)

 To Enter the Giveaway – CLICK HERE

 


Who’s Afraid of the Ghost Train? – A Children’s Book Review

Who's Afraid of the Ghost Train? - Frank Rodgers

In Who’s Afraid of the Ghost Train? by Frank Rodgers, Robert’s imagination often gets away from him helping him create scary situations out of everyday happenings. With the help of his grandfather, he learns how to cope with his wild imagination. His friends, who are all interested in scary things, could make it even worse when they want to visit the Ghost Train, but Robert gets the chance to put his grandfather’s lessons into action. In the end, Robert is able to deal with the scare ride even better than they are. This is a very sweet story that should help children deal with their fears of imaginary monsters whether they hide in the toilet, tub, closet, or under the bed. I thought the illustrations were perfectly done. They are enough to capture a child’s attention and imagination while not being overly frightening. I personally wouldn’t recommend this book for younger toddlers or those children who have yet to exhibit such fears. However, it could be a great help in learning to cope for younger children who are beginning to worry and have nightmares about their imagination’s creations.

I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review.


Mama Needs a Do-Over – A Review…

Mama Needs a Do-Over

 

I’ve spent the last two days reading the book Mama Needs a Do-Over: Simple Steps to Turning a Hard Day Around by Lisa Pennington and have a few thoughts I’d like to share…

This book isn’t necessarily what I thought of when I decided to read and review a “parenting” book. I would better classify this title as a refreshing look at parenting as part of a soul-seeking challenge of life. The author has nine children of various ages, and she birthed the last at 42. In my opinion, that makes her qualified to talk about parenting, even if you don’t agree with her style (more on that later).

The book is broken down in sections. The process they encourage helps you to tap into what makes you unique and helps you identify how those things can benefit you when working through difficult parenting seasons. I would argue that accepting the challenge and doing the work prepares you for the struggles of life in general and not just those that arise with parenting. Regardless, the author helps you to formulate your plan so you can be prepared to face encounters and approach them in a new way. She offers several suggestions, broken down by rough age categories, to “reset” the day and turn the ship around.

I found her advice practical for those of us that are dealing with the fit du jour or mountains of laundry. It’s even more helpful if you are a stay at home spouse (male or female) and sometimes resent the opportunity your partner has to leave the house. Lisa herself is a self-professed control freak and kitchen failure, but it’s easy to see that she maintains her sense of humor through her own struggles. Plus, she’s doing it all while homeschooling her children! It’s refreshing to get perspective and realize that these moments don’t last forever, and YOU ultimately control the situation by your reaction to it. You can realize that the situation provides stress as a means and opportunity for personal growth.

The author obviously holds deeply religious views. Her thoughts on “do-overs” have her beliefs sprinkled all over them. I did not find these offensive, but I’m also a believer in Christ. Someone who doesn’t have the same faith may not find her book as easily accessible as I did.

I did a little search on the author after finishing the book as she referenced her blog at The Pennington Point (Blog). My research yielded several things of note. First, the author hasn’t blogged since the spring of 2015. You can find links to deleted blog posts with a search, including one about spanking babies. I PERSONALLY don’t approach the mechanics of parenting in the same way she does and would never paddle a baby. Our soon to be 22 month old has never been paddled. She and I are going to have to agree to disagree on a lot of things involving parenting style and how “obedient” I think my child should be.  I’m not trying to raise a robot here. Two, the author is currently dealing with a crisis.  It would seem that one of her daughters has chose to approach life without the support of her family and lacks the documentation to support her identity and make a way for herself.  If you want to know what it’s all about, you can get all kinds of details by doing a quick search. Lastly, the author (currently) has a much stronger Facebook presence.  You can find her at The Pennington Point (Facebook Like Page).

I only bring it up for this reason… Yes, I am aware that the family is facing some difficulties. Yes, I realize that everyone is entitled to their views on parenting and faith. BUT…  I wanted this post to focus solely on the content of the book and not what can be found on the blog or my view on Lisa’s parenting. If you are a Christian and a parent who struggles with sometimes seeing the good in the day, this book can benefit you regardless of your personal views on the struggles they face. I think we can all benefit from finding the joy in our everyday struggles and who doesn’t need a little spontaneous game of “zoo” in their life? 🙂

I recieved a digital copy of this title for my honest review.


Let’s Learn About the Lord’s Prayer — A Children’s Book Review

Let's Learn About the Lord's Prayer

 

Catherine DeVries’ Let’s Learn About the Lord’s Prayer provides the perfect way to introduce children to God in everyday life.  I found the illustrations to be bright and cheerful.  I loved the way Emma welcomed the reader into her home.  She was able to illustrate how the prayer is used at mealtimes and teach the meaning behind the words in a more simplified way.  Closing the book with Emma teaching the Lord’s Prayer to her favorite stuffed teddy, Blueberry, is a good way to end and offers children the opportunity to practice the prayer again.

I would absolutely recommend this purchase. My own 21 month old would love this as a board book, and I know that he would enjoy looking at the pictures and listening to me read the story aloud.

I recieved an ARC in exchange for my honest review.


Under Different Stars…

Under Different Stars - Amy Bartol

Amy Bartol’s Under Different Stars wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get into the story… I liked the blurb, it had an intriguing cover, but it was different than what I usually choose for myself. Even though I love YA and enjoy dystopian fiction, those titles are often more deeply rooted in a future version of Earth…

Teenage Kricket has had it rough, from run-ins in juvie to literally trying to escape the system. She’s trying to just get by until she can eventually be free of the “protection” of DSS. That means working for cash to keep government services from complicating her life. Her jobs as a janitor and filling in as a bar back help her survive. She seems to only have two friends in the world she can really trust, though you could argue that other people look out for her… If someone shoots a threat for you, that counts, right?!?

Regardless, it won’t matter in a few pages because the Etharians have finally found her and are prepared to take her, by any means necessary, to her real home. This is where living as a scrappy “human” for years may actually prove to benefit her. It’s clear that everyone has an agenda and their own purposes to serve. For some of these other-worldly soldiers it’s as simple as serving their mission. Others have more sinister motives as they seek to use Kricket’s natural talents and abilities for their personal gain. What they fail to realize is that Kricket wants to serve her own purposes whether on Ethar or on Earth. The more they attempt to control her, the better she proves herself to be at manipulating and controlling the situation. While she may not always win, I dare say it usually ends in a draw. Maybe, just maybe, that’s the best outcome for her if she’s playing the long game.

This book was better than I could have imagined it would be. The story is told in such a way that the reader gets drawn into the dizzying feeling Kricket herself experiences as she is forced into a world she is unprepared for. She doesn’t know the customs or the nuances of the language (having a translator implanted doesn’t help define a knob knocker). Well paced and explained, I never felt too lost or overwhelmed as to be pulled from the story being told. I love having a young heroine, who while imperfect is perfectly resilient. Kricket is a chameleon able to assess and adapt with relative ease to her situation, and when she does fall short, she covers with sarcasm and wit. Add in some good looking, wise-cracking soldiers and a little romantic diversion with a “will they or won’t they thread,” and you have yourself the makings of a great story.

I admit to being caught in the spell and can’t wait to read book #2 and see where this adventure ultimately takes her…

(Update: I’ve read all three books that have been published so far and none of them disappoint! I’m really hoping that there is another released soon because I can’t imagine Kricket’s journey ending where it did…)

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.