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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: 5 Star Books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 26
1. Six of Crows: blog tour + giveaway

When I heard that Leigh Bardugo was writing a spinoff duology set in the Grishaverse, I was hopping with excitement. Every reviewer at The Midnight Garden is a huge fan of the Grisha trilogy, but there’s always a fear that accompanies such news as well. The story of six outcasts who try to pull off a dangerous heist sounded fantastic–but could anything live up to the original stories? I’m so relieved–and thrilled–and astonished to find that Six of Crows surpasses its venerable origins. This book is superbly crafted from start to finish; its plotting deliberate, its world-building immersive, and its characterizations complex. From snow-covered fields to salty docks to the grandeur of the ice court, this world feels richly detailed , and I love the thrilling use of magic as well as the crazily inventive action sequences. Not to mention a fully diverse set of people and smart, witty dialogue!... Read more »

The post Six of Crows: blog tour + giveaway appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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2. The Mime Order: Review

Well, this one took me completely by surprise. I had enjoyed The Bone Season, but with reservations, considering how long it took me to really understand the incredible world Samantha Shannon has built for us. It took me very little time at all, however, to disappear into the pages of this second installment of the genre bending series. At once futuristic and Victorian, The Mime Order is a fantastical, dystopian, paranormal murder mystery, and I couldn’t get enough of it. This a lush and opulent storyworld, one that unfolds in intricate detail and rewards the reader for their patience. It is perfect for character readers and for anyone who would love a series that offers a “crash course” in the nuances of its world (like me! I am one of those people!). Reading this, and even though it is third person, I felt like I was walking with Paige through... Read more »

The post The Mime Order: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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3. Book Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Title: Where She Went
Author: Gayle Forman
Series: If I Stay #2
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Released: April 5, 2011
Website: http://www.gayleforman.com/

Book Summary:
It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.
Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

If I Stay felt like a stand alone book when I read it. It didn't need a sequel, so I was surprised when there was one. Where She Went takes place three years after If I Stay ended. It's similar to If I Stay in the way it is told, we learn what has happened to Adam and Mia through flashbacks of the last three year. However this one is told from Adam's perspective and a lot has changed for Adam in the past three years.

Despite the fact that there was a lot of language and some other content in this book I wish wasn't there, Where She Went was a book I couldn't put down. I was engrossed in the story from the first page to the last. Beautifully written and heartbreaking, I could feel both Adam's & Mia's pain as the last three years of their lives unfolded in this story. So well done!  I loved this story.

Rating: 5 Stars - I loved it.

Content: Lots of it, explicit langauge - (I quit tallying F words but at least a dozen of them), sex talk and implied sex. Adam is living the life of a popular rock star and has everything that comes with that lifestyle.

Source: Dowloaded from Overdrive

1 Comments on Book Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman, last added: 2/25/2012
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4. Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Series: None but there are companion novels
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Released: December 2, 2010
Website: http://www.stephanieperkins.com/

Book Summary:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss Anna and readers have long awaited.

I so enjoyed reading this one....or I guess I should say listening to this one since I listened to the audiobook.  Usually I get a lot done while I'm listening to an audios... laundry, dishes, errands, etc.  But that did not happen with this book.  I kept finding myself sitting down, getting nothing accomplished, with a silly grin on my face, totally lost in the story.

Full of laughs, romance, and drama this book was a fun read. Anna and the French Kiss was one of those books that I didn't want to put down. I could have done without the F word but otherwise found this to be a fantastic book.

Rating: 5 Stars - I loved it.

Content: Some language including a half dozen uses of the F word. References to sex, some crude comments, teen drinking but nothing is overly graphic or described in detail.

Source: Download from Overdrive

Also by Stephanie Perkins:

5 Comments on Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, last added: 3/4/2012
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5. The Darkest Part of the Forest: Review

This book. I love this book. That is the review. That is all. But, really. I was fairly sure I would love this book going in just because it was by Holly Black and it was about faeries. Holly Black will always hold a special place in my heart because Tithe was one of the first YA books I got really, really into. It was the first book I read that had girls who weren’t always (or even often) likable, gay characters, and faeries that were actually like, well, faeries. Her faerie books ruined me for all other faerie books because they were so perfect and dark and good. The Darkest Part of the Forest did not disappoint. It was all the best parts of her writing—dark, beautiful world-building straight out of a fairytale, interesting and flawed characters, and a plot that blended the magical and the reality perfectly. It... Read more »

The post The Darkest Part of the Forest: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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6. My Heart and Other Black Holes: Review + Giveaway

This isn’t really a Kim Book.* Although, to be fair, if Kim Books usually involve incredibly heartfelt portrayals of our deepest humanity infused with humor and hope then perhaps I am about that also. Maybe. Every once in awhile a book comes along that crawls right into your heart and rends your ventricles. This is one of those. [Okay so there are moments where I’ll get a bit meta and personal. In ways that don’t really flow with the review but are important if you’d like an auxiliary/personal touch so I’m putting them behind spoiler brackets. When you see spoiler brackets it’s me being personal.] This is the story of Aysel (like uh-zell, rhymes with gazelle) who has longed to escape from the shadow of her father’s horrific crime for years. And of Roman who is living with an unimaginable grief. Both live trapped in the mire of isolation and... Read more »

The post My Heart and Other Black Holes: Review + Giveaway appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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7. Book Review: (dis)Abilities and the Gospel by Danyelle Ferguson & Lynn Parsons

Each day, parents and Church leaders struggle to teach individuals with special needs. Using real-life stories and a touch of humor, this inspiring book guides you to teach effectively, overcome communication barriers, and build strong relationships with people of all ages with disabilities. Discover each person's ability to learn and grow as you help them feel like a valuable part of your life.

(dis)Abilities and the Gospel is a great book. I highly recommend it to anyone who has or works with a specials needs child or adult. This book is full of ideas for both parents and teachers.

There is a wide range of information included in this book. With everything from teaching strategies to surviving church meetings to surviving holidays and family get togethers this is a valuable resource for all. The advice is practical and I found myself thinking what a great idea more than once.

The number of children with autism, ADD, learning disorders and mental health issue is on the rise making this a book that will be helpful for meeting the challenges that come with teaching and raising these special spirits.

Rating: 5 Star

Source: From Author as part of a blog tour

Content: Clean & Uplifting

0 Comments on Book Review: (dis)Abilities and the Gospel by Danyelle Ferguson & Lynn Parsons as of 1/1/1900
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8. Brave Rooney by Gerry Renert

Brave Rooney by Gerry Renert
Ordinary boy Rooney shows up at Captain Majestic Memorial School, an elementary school for superheroes. Through the story, he shows all his superhero classmates what it means to be truly brave. Story is meant to build the player's self-esteem.
Features: Over 50 interactive features and animations, 23 pages of illustrations, narrated by author Gerry Renert (three-time Emmy-nominated kids' TV writer), highlighted reading text, Read to Me or I Can Read options, visual page index.

I'm slowly working my way into the world of technology. I now have a Kindle & just got my daughter a Nook. I thought I was keeping up fairly well but apparently not... Today I was introduced to digital interactive books that come as apps for the iphone or ipad. I'm still behind the times... I don't own an iphone just my ancient dated cell phone so I reviewed a pdf version of this book and viewed the you tube video to see how the app works. Pretty cool. I know my kindergartner would love this book.

As a story this books works. Even without the digital interactive features this made an entertaining read, one that I would read over and over to my children.  So for those of you who have small children and an iPhone or iPad these new interactive digital books may be something worth looking into.

Currently the only way to get this book is through iTunes.

Rating: 5 Stars

Source: PDF review copy from author

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9. Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Series: None
Released: September 13, 2011
Publisher: Doubleday
Tags: Fantasy, Magic
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

Many new books will debut this fall,
So many in fact, it’s hard to remember them all.

But one novel in particular I’d like to remind,
Defies all expectation, it’s one-of-a kind.

The title you ask? Why The Night Circus of course!
It’s a formidable debut, an enchanting tour de force.

A reminder if you have yet to enter the Circus gates,
A matchless world of wonder, novelty, and fervor eagerly awaits.

So I invite you dear friend to read with tenacity,
And you’ll see that the above is said with veracity.

Le Cirque des Rêves is calling your name,
Once you step inside, you’ll never be the same…

First off I listened to the audio version of this book.  Jim Dale is the narrator and everything came alive as he read this book.  I'm not sure if my experience would have been different if I had read the book.  It is full of details and descriptions.  It seemed like half this book was nothing more than imagery and the characters seemed almost secondary to the circus itself.  I usually enjoy books that are much more fast paced and plot driven but this held my attention the entire time.  It is beautifully written.

There is romance in this book but it wasn't the focus of the book. There was a large cast of characters who all played a large part in the story instead of just focusing on the two main characters.  This has to be one of the most original, well written books I've read.

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10. Book Review: The Haunting of Autumn Lake by Marcia Lynn McClure

Title: The Haunting of Autumn Lake
Author: Marcia Lynn McClure
Release Date: October 26, 2011
Publisher: Distractions Ink
Tags: Clean Romance

Autumn Lake stopped cold in her tracks. She puffed a breath of summoning courage as she gazed at the old covered bridge before her. Ever since she was a child and Sawyer had read to her the fascinating yet thoroughly haunting story of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Mr. Washington Irving, Autumn had secreted a fear of bridges. Each time she was meant to cross a bridge (especially the old covered bridge on the far side of the orchards), she expected the ghostly headless horseman to appear and attempt to decapitate her. Oh, certainly the tale of the Specter did nothing to soothe her either, for it was said that this was to be a year of the Specter. As the story went, the local phantom, the Specter, only appeared once every ten years—but this was to be the year of the Specter, and Autumn did not like crossing bridges even when it was not a year of the Specter.
Gulping down her fear, however, Autumn glanced behind her, assuring herself that there was no headless horseman riding up behind her intent on stealing her head.
“He wouldn’t want a woman’s head anyway,” she mumbled to herself, even as rising fear caused her heart to pound in her chest. “And besides,” she said, looking back to the old bridge, “I’m eighteen years old…nineteen in less than a month. Surely I can cross the bridge without runnin’.”
Pulling her sketchbook to her chest and tightly folding her arms across it, she spoke aloud to the cattails. “Wish me luck, my darlings…for I do prefer to keep my head attached to the rest of me.”
As Autumn stepped onto the bridge, the roof blocked the warm sunshine, making the space inside the bridge dark and gloomy. Yet she’d expected this. What else would one expect of a covered bridge? After all, its very purpose was protection from the elements, and that included the heat of the summer sun. Naturally, Autumn preferred to think of its purpose as being made for something else—the seclusion necessary for the romance of lovers’ trysts.
She sighed with disenchantment for a moment—disappointment at never having had a lover of her own. She thought how different it would be to cross the old bridge if her arm were linked to that of a strong and handsome lover. Still, she had no lover, and the fact remained that she must indeed cross the bridge.

No surprise that I loved this story. I'm a huge Marcia Lynn McClure fan and love to escape into her clean romances. If you have not read a Marcia Lynn McClure book before I highly recommend you give her books a try. But don't start with this one. The Haunting of Autumn Lake is the sequel to her beloved book The Visions of Ransom Lake. You must read that book first to appreciate this one.

Marcia Lynn McClure's favorite season is Fall. Her love of all things autumn shows in this book. From pumpkins and apples to fall colors and ghost stories, this book was perfect for making me appreciate the beauty of this season. In the author's notes in the back there are even recipes for some of her fall favorites.

Handsome Ransom and Vaden are no longer newlyweds but are just as in lo

1 Comments on Book Review: The Haunting of Autumn Lake by Marcia Lynn McClure, last added: 11/1/2011
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11. Book Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Released: February 10, 2009
Publisher: Putnam
Tags: Historical Fiction

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women - mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends - view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.

I participate in a neighborhood book group each month. November's book was The Help. I'm so glad it was chosen because I doubt I would have gotten around to reading it if I didn't "have to".  It took me 4 days to get through this audio book and I literally finished minutes before book group started last night.

This book is fabulous! Well written with great characters.  I listened to the audio version and thought the narrators did an amazing job.

I can't add much to the thousands of reviews that are already out there other than to say I think this is a book most adults should take the time to read.

Content: some language throughout and "adult" topics are all through this story.

Rating: 5 Stars

Source: Audio download from Audible.com

12 Comments on Book Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett, last added: 11/5/2011
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12. Book Review: The Chimney Sweep Charm by Marcia Lynn McClure

Title: The Chimney Sweep Charm
Author: Marcia Lynn McClure
Publisher: Distractions Ink
Released: December 7, 2011
Currently Available only through Marcia's WEBSITE
“There was the muffled sound of audience members standing up, and Baylee and Candice turned to look behind them.
“Holy smokes!” Baylee breathed.
“It’s like a Navy SEAL convention or something,” Candice added.
And it was! Baylee couldn’t believe that over twenty-five of the people in the orientation audience were tall, dark, handsome, buff guys dressed all in black. Each man stood with his feet apart and hands held at his back—similar if not exactly like a military “at ease” stance.
“They’re all packing heat too,” Baylee whispered to Candice as she noted all the holstered sidearms.
“I guess Mr. O’Sullivan wants to be prepared,” Candice said.
“I suppose you girls are all wowed now, right?” Tate said from the front row.
“Let’s see,” Candice began, looking to Tate and feigning an expression of thoughtfulness. “Let’s say I’m being assaulted by some weirdo in street…and who am I going to look to for protection? One of these guys?” she said, nodding toward the security staff. “Or you, Tate? You…who freaked out in June when we were in New York and you thought some guy was looking at you funny. You freaked out and slammed Megan’s finger in the door and cut it off! Who do you think I’m going to trust?”
“It was an accident, and you know it,” Tate grumbled.
Baylee did know it. Still, she found her eyes glancing down the row of chairs in front of her to Megan—to the missing first joint and fingertip on her right hand.
“Yeah, it was,” Candice admitted. “But you still cared more about yourself than Megan. The guy was stalking Megan…not you. Real heroic, Tate. Way to go to instilling a sense of confidence in me that you would have my back.”
“Whatever,” Tate grumbled, turning around in his seat to pout.”

I loved this book. It's a novella so it's short enough that can easily be read in one sitting. Perfect for getting in the Christmas Spirit.

The Chimney Sweep Charm is a sweet, romantic, "charming" Christmas Story set in a recreated Dicken's Village. Christmas carols, bell ringing, hot chocolate, mistletoe... all the elements needed to create an unforgettable holiday tale.  Marcia has created another set of fabulous characters.... From Baylee the bell ringer to the gorgeous, heroic Justice and his less than subtle grandmother fans of Marcia's books are sure to love these characters!

As is always the case with Marcia's shorter stories I just wish this book was longer. I was expecting a dramatic end to the "mysterious bad guy" element of the story and was a little surprised that things wrapped up fairly quickly and relatively drama free.  However that didn't take away from my love for this lighthearted, fun book.  The focus of this book was much more on the romance instead of the mystery and I love the way Marcia writes romance!

Thanks Marcia for this fabulous Christmas book!  For anyone who enjoys sweet, clean romance and is looking for a way to get into the holiday spirit give The Chimney Sweep Charm a chance.

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13. Book Review: My Soul to Keep by Rachel Vincent

Title: My Soul to Keep
Author: Rachel Vincent
Series: Soul Screamers Book 3 of 7
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Released: June 10, 2010
Website: http://rachelvincent.com/

Book Summary:

Kaylee has one addiction: her very hot, very popular boyfriend, Nash. A banshee like Kaylee, Nash understands her like no one else. Nothing can come between them.
Until something does.

Demon breath. No, not the toothpaste-challenged kind. The Netherworld kind. The kind that really can kill you. Somehow the super-addictive substance has made its way to the human world. But how? Kaylee and Nash have to cut off the source and protect their friends—one of whom is already hooked.

And so is someone else…

Wow did this book bring out the emotions in me. Seriously I was fuming mad when I got to the end of this book. This is what I wrote on goodreads as I finished the book:

Dear Nash,

You are lower than pond scum! Seriously - you suck! Some things should be unforgivable! I'm sure Kaylee will ultimately forgive you but I'm not sure how you can possibly redeem yourself in my eyes.
Make sure you have book #4 on hand so you can begin it as soon as you finish this one.  It was midnight when I finished but there was no way I was going to be able to sleep because I was so worked up by what was revealed at the end of this book.  I had to get 1/3 of the way into the next book before I finally fell asleep.  I think that is one of the things I like most about Rachel's writing - the emotions her books ellicit in me, I'm connected to the characters, I care about the characters, they seem so real to me.

My Soul to Keep took on some dark & heavy subject matter. Addiction and everything that comes with it is not a warm and fuzzy topic. However My Soul to Keep was original, fast paced and very well written. I loved this addition to the Soul Screamer Series.

Rating: 5 Stars - I Loved It simply for the amount of emotion I felt while reading it.

Content: everything was a step up from the last book - more language, more wandering hands, more innuendo, etc.

Source: Audible.com Download

1 Comments on Book Review: My Soul to Keep by Rachel Vincent, last added: 2/14/2012
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14. Book Review: My Soul to Steal by Rachel Vincent

Title: My Soul to Steal
Author: Rachel Vincent
Series: Soul Screamers Book 4 of 7
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Released: December 21, 2010
Website: http://rachelvincent.com/

Book Summary:

Trying to work things out with Nash—her maybe boyfriend—is hard enough for Kaylee Cavanaugh. She can't just pretend nothing happened. But "complicated" doesn't even begin to describe their relationship when his ex-girlfriend transfers to their school, determined to take Nash back.

See, Sabine isn't just an ordinary girl. She's a mara, the living personification of a nightmare. She can read people's fears—and craft them into nightmares while her victims sleep. Feeding from human fear is how she survives.

And Sabine isn't above scaring Kaylee and the entire school to death to get whatever—and whoever—she wants.

This series has sucked me in... I'm sleep deprived but can't seem to get enough.

How to write a review for Book #4 in the series without spoilers? Not really possible!

If you've read this series and made it through book 3 then you'll likely love this addition to the series. For some reason I'm just pulled into these books. They are NOT clean reads. The first book wasn't too bad but the heat just keeps increasing with each book. In this one Sabine oozes sex, she's sex personified and there is nothing subtle about her actions.

Despite the content which I wish was toned down a little, I haven't felt such emotion while reading a series in years. My emotions were in turmoil while reading this book. Sabine is so awful. I abhor her and yet somehow came to love her too - is such a thing possible? Nash - to love him or hate him? I keep flip-flopping back and forth and it's making me crazy. Add in an evil Netherworld element and it's one wild ride of a story.

Rating: 5 Stars - I Loved It

Content: Once again this book was another step up from the last one. More language, more sex talk, more innuendo.

Source: Audible.com download

1 Comments on Book Review: My Soul to Steal by Rachel Vincent, last added: 2/14/2012
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15. Review: Doodle Diary by Dawn DeVries Sokol

Turn your doodles into a personal journal and into art to boot! In the tradition of Keri Smith (Wreck This Journal, This Is Not a Book), Dawn DeVries Sokol has created a fun, easy artist's journal to get kids started with the basics. Doodle about your day; makes lists of your favorite things; write goals and daydream; try different mediums like pens, watercolors, and found art; add in family photos or ticket stubs; use Xerox transfers; and much, much more to create a casual, playful, and often thoughtful journal of your life.

From the time I was young I was always encouraged to write in a journal. I was raised hearing quotes such as this one:

“Every person should keep a journal and every person can keep a journal. It should be an enlightening one and should bring great blessings and happiness to the families." ~ Spencer W. Kimball

I started my first journal when I was 8 years old and have sporadically kept a journal throughout my life. I look back on those early entries and laugh. Most of them consist of "Did the same thing as usual today." Same thing as usual? 30 years later I have no idea what that was.

One of my personal favorite ways to keep a journal is to answer a prompt such as:

What is your favorite memory from childhood?
Who are your close friends?
Who was your favorite teacher in school? why?
I was thrilled when I received a copy of Doodle Diary to review. It's an adorable little book with colorful pages full of "prompts" for journaling.
What makes me happy?
My favorite place to be...
My embarassing moments:
What's in my backpack:
My heroes:
My future self:
I think the
perfect day would be:
This book is perfect for my 10 year old daughter. She is not currently keeping a journal but is really into art so I know she'll love this book and I think she will actually use it. I'm putting it away as a stocking stuffer for Christmas.

Content: Clean

Rating: 5 Stars

Source: From Publisher for Review

1 Comments on Review: Doodle Diary by Dawn DeVries Sokol, last added: 10/22/2010
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16. Review: Snow Rising by Matt Baldwin

Change can happen in your life as quickly as you'll believe it.

Jason Snow has lived his life making choices that he believed would bring him happiness. Ironically, he acted in ways that got him the exact opposite of what he wanted. Now, his relationship with his wife is hanging by a thread, he is miserable at work, and worst of all, he feels disgusted at the thought that his kids are suffering because of choices he-s made. Is there a way out?

Although this book follows Jason Snow on a life-changing quest beginning at the base of Mt. Hood, Snow Rising is not a novel. It-s an invitation to take a personal journey. Author Matthew Baldwin says, -I invite you to join Jason Snow, and leave you with two questions: one, can you be an advocate for the changes you desire to see in yourself and in the world around you; and two, do you have the audacity to find out?-

Snow Rising can put individuals back together, revitalize marriages and families, and help recover fractured organizations. It shares four axioms, absolute truths, that are at the root of all happiness. But as the author says, -Then again, perhaps the answer is not in the answer, but in the journey to the answer.-

Take the journey. Make the change. Know the peace.

Snow Rising by Matt Baldwin is a self-help book in story format. The author uses a fictional story to teach life changing truths. This was not a fast read for me. In fact it took me nearly a month to get through it. I could only digest a couple chapters a night until I reached the last 100 pages. Then I didn't want to put the book down.

Snow Rising is a book worth taking the time to read. I could relate to the problems facing the different characters in this book and enjoyed the way the author used a story format to teach life changing principles.

I could share tons of amazing quotes from the book but I'll just share two:

Human behavior is an avalanche, subject to the same sequence that governs all of nature. We choose what we believe, and we choose our actions. Everything else is a consequence. Life is a sequence that begins in choice and ends in consequence.

Life is about the small things...Do the small things...
It means that when you come to the end of your life and look back, a slow walk with your daughter will mean more than your account balance. It means that flowers and a note for your wife for no particular occasion, only because you adore her, will mean more than diamonds on an anniversary. It means that showing gratitude to a friend for absolutely no specific reason will have more impact than picking up a lifetime of dinner checks.
I'm looking forward to the sequel that will be released in 2011.

Content: A clean, motivating read

Rating: 5 Stars - This was a hard book to rate but ultimately I couldn't give it less than 5 stars. I could put it down and walk away, in fact it was a book I had to put down because I could only digest a chapter or two a night. It was also a book that got me thinking and kept me thinking when I put it down. It's well written and full of truth and I would recommend it to anyone looking to make changes in their life and in their relationships with others.

Source: From Publisher for Review

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17. Book Review: The Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook by DeDe Lahman

The Clinton St. Baking Company is one of the hottest brunch spots in a city obsessed with brunch. A tiny thirty-two-seat eatery on Manhattan's trendy Lower East Side, the restaurant draws long lines of customers who come from far and wide to sample fresh-baked goods, hearty omelets, sugar-cured bacon, and light-as-air pancakes with maple butter.

In the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook, owners DeDe Lahman and Neil Kleinberg share more than 100 treasured recipes that have made their restaurant a sensation. Learn the secret to their house-made buttermilk biscuits and tomato jam, irresistible muffins and scones, delicious soups and sandwiches, and their decadent, eye-catching desserts. Helpful techniques, like Neil's patented omelet "flip and tuck," and gorgeous color photographs throughout will have readers cooking like pros in no time, and sharing the delicious results.

I jumped at the chance to review The Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook: Breakfast, Brunch & Beyond from New York's Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant. Breakfast foods are my favorite! We often have breakfast foods for lunch & dinner and I am always looking for new recipes.

I participate in a monthly book group with some friends. Last night we were reviewing cookbooks. Each person picked a recipe from a cookbook and tried it out and brought what they made to share.

I flipped through this book looking for something I already had all the ingredients for that looked good. I choose Brookies. A cross between a brownie & a cookie. Oh my goodness, were they delicious!

I was surprised at how soft the cookie dough was. It was much more like cake batter than cookie dough. You put the dough in the freezer before scooping it out to bake. I thought the cookies might not turn out right but I was wrong!

The result was a perfect soft and chewy brownie like cookie!

I've thumbed through all the recipes and have several more I'm going to try. I don't usually fry food but there is a fried chicken recipe that the Clinton St. Baking Company is famous for that I'm going to try out. Also on the list is Buttermilk Streusel Coffee Cake, Raspberry Yogurt Muffins, Neil's Pancakes, Vanilla Buttermilk Waffles and Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

Rating: 5 Stars

Source: From Publisher For Review
18. Book Review: My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison

Tansy Miller has always felt that her divorced father has never had enough time for her. But mistakenly getting caught on the wrong side of the law wasn't exactly how she wanted to get his attention. Enter Chrysanthemum "Chrissy" Everstar, Tansy's fairy in shining, er, high heels. Chrissy is only a fair godmother, of course, so Tansy's three wishes don't exactly go according to plan. And if bringing Robin Hood to the twenty-first century isn't bad enough for Tansy, being transported back to the Middle Ages to deal with Rumpelstiltskin certainly is. She'll need the help of her blended family, her wits, and especially the cute police chief 's son to stop the gold-spinning story from spinning wildly out of control. Janette Rallison pulls out all the stops in this fresh, fun-filled follow-up to the popular My Fair Godmother.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series My Fair Godmother. It's unusual for a sequel to be better than the original book but Janette Rallison managed this amazing feat with My Unfair Godmother.

This book is cute, clean and fun. I laughed out loud more times than I can remember. The references Janette makes to popular culture are hysterical. References from everything from Twilight to popular music are sprinkled throughout. I'm not sure if this book was supposed to make me cry but there is one scene near the end were I had tears in my eyes.

Well done Janette! My Unfair Godmother is a hilarious twisted tale that combined elements from Robin Hood and Rumplestiltskin into one fabulous adventure. If you enjoyed My Fair Godmother I'm sure you'll love this one. It can be read as a stand alone but I highly recommend reading My Fair Godmother first.

My Unfair Godmother is scheduled for release on April 12. 2011.

Content: Clean

Rating: 5 Stars

Source: Around the World ARC tour

2 Comments on Book Review: My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison, last added: 11/10/2010
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19. Book Review: The Pocket Guide to Games by Bart King

The seventy-five games in this book revive the tradition of game playing without computers, joy sticks, boards, or game pieces. All you need for these games can be purchased at the local super center, big box, or hardware store. With tools such as balls, bean bags, broomsticks or canes, and ropes, parents and teachers can organize dozens of hours of fun and challenging activities for parties, summer camps, neighborhood gatherings, and school groups. For all ages, from elementary children to grandparents.

I received a copy of The Pocket Guide to Games by Bart King to review about a month ago. I pulled it out today because I had to come up with a game that a group of 50 kids ages 4 to 11 could all play together. I flipped to the index in the back and quickly came up with a couple games that would work - Circle Stride Ball as an active game and Find the Ring as a quieter game. We only had time to play Circle Stride Ball at the activity. It managed to keep a large group of kids entertained until their parents arrived to pick them up.

This book is full of games for many different settings and occasions. The games are broken down into 4 sections: Miscellaneous active games, Quiet games, Bean bag & ball games and Contests, feats & tussles. At the back of the book is an Index where you can search for games by the type of game, number of players, playing area or age group. All in all it's a useful little book that I literally put in my back pocket and took with me to the activity today.

A handy little book to have around.

Rating: 5 Stars

Source: From Publisher for Review

1 Comments on Book Review: The Pocket Guide to Games by Bart King, last added: 11/14/2010
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20. Book Review: Pink Princess Cookbook by Barbara Beery

Perfect for tea parties, rainy days, or afternoon playtime, the Pink Princess Cookbook is just what every girl needs to be the perfect princess. It includes full-color photography and step-by-step instructions for each recipe. Enchantingly good, deliciously fun!
Barbara Beery is the founder and owner of Batter Up Kids, a premier children's cooking school based in Austin, Texas. She teaches cooking classes, hosts birthday parties, and helps children get hands-on with good, healthy, fun food. Barbara is also the author of Batter Up Kids: Delicious Desserts and Batter Up Kids: Sensational Snacks.

The Pink Princess Cookbook by Barbara Beery is awesome! My girls just love it. Today we tried out the recipes for Candy-Coated Dragon Flies & Magic Princess Wands. My kids and the neighbors had a great time making these fun treats. Even my boys and their friends had a blast making these princess treats.
Both recipes were super easy. We used preztels dipped in melted candy coating and lots of sprinkles.  These are delicious and I ate way too many.

There are several other recipes I bought the ingredients to make: Chocolate Chip-Peppermint Scones, Pretty Princess Puffs and Star-Shine Strawberry Muffins. This is a great book if you are trying to put together a tea-party for your little princess.

Rating: 5 Stars

Source: From Publisher for Review

3 Comments on Book Review: Pink Princess Cookbook by Barbara Beery, last added: 11/19/2010
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21. Book Review: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of a victory are grim. Kronos’s army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan’s power only grows.

While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it’s up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.

In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy’s sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.

Such it a fabulous end to an amazing series. I LOVED The Last Olympian. Rick Riordan is such an amazing storyteller. This book made me laugh so many times while reading it.  I've never had much interest in mythology until reading this series.

I highly recommend these books to readers of all ages. All my children love these books. The Percy Jackson series weaves elements of mythology into one great big adventure that will have you laughing and cheering for the Demigods.  The Last Olympian was full of everything I loved about this series and seamlessly wrapped up story lines from the previous four books.  If you have not read this series you are missing out!

I'm sad this series is over but looking forward to being reunited with the characters I love in Rick's next series Heroes of Olympus.

Content: Clean

Rating: 5 Stars

Source: Audio download from Audible

2 Comments on Book Review: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan, last added: 1/30/2011
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22. Blog Tour: Book Review: The Touch of the Master's Hand illustrated by Greg Newbold

Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.

I have long love the poem The Touch of the Master's Hand. I've read it many times and have even seen a short movie adaptation. I jumped when I had the chance to review this illustrated picture book version of the classic poem.

I loved this book.  Beautiful pictures bring the poem to life.  This picture book does not disappoint.  It teaches a great lesson and I'm excited to share this story with my children.

Rating: 5 Stars

Source: Review copy received through Mediaguests.

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23. Book Review: Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins:
Warning contains spoilers if you have not read book 1, Hex Hall.

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

HUGE Cliffhanger! - Seriously how can a book end on such a cliffhanger!!  The next book doesn't come out for a year... Even with the cliffhanger I really enjoyed this book. I flew threw 360 pages in no time at all and can't wait for book 3.

Loved Sophie's snarkiness and all the twists and turns in the story.  This was a sequel that did not disappoint.  There is a little love triangle going on - although I'm fairly certain how it will end, (because it's a very lopsided triangle) however I honestly would be happy with either choice.  Which is an interesting change because usually I'm really rooting for one or the other.

For those who enjoy YA paranormal stories I recommend you give the Hex Hall series a try.

Content: A little language and innuendo

Rating: 5 Stars

Source: From Publisher for Review

3 Comments on Book Review: Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins, last added: 3/28/2011
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24. Book Review: God So Loved the World by Eric D. Huntsman

"There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter," taught President Gordon B. Hinckley. "The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection."

With this deeper understanding given by a modern prophet, Latter-day Saints have an increased opportunity during the period from Palm Sunday to Easter morning to reflect upon the last days of our Lord's earthly ministry.

In God So Loved the World: The Final Days of the Savior's Life, author Eric D. Huntsman takes us on a scriptural journey through the last week of our Savior's mortal life, culminating in His atoning sacrifice and joyous resurrection. The author, by drawing on his wide knowledge of historical context, cultural background, and biblical insights, increases our understanding of these momentous events and helps us draw closer to the Savior. Full-color fine-art paintings, photographs, maps, music, and topics for personal reflection are included to enhance our commemoration of Easter week.

Brother Huntsman writes, "Each year has its rhythms with the passage of summer to fall, winter, and at last, again, spring. Holidays are part of that rhythm, helping us remember realities greater than mere seasons, and Easter, together with Christmas, can anchor each year securely in the promises of Jesus Christ."

This beautiful volume suggests meaningful ways for Latter-day Saints to refocus their Easter celebrations on the culminating events of the Savior's ministry. Whether used as a personal or family study guide or as a model for a devotional celebration of Easter week, God So Loved the World is a must-have addition to the library of every Latter-day Saint.

Rediscovering Easter
Palm Sunday
Good Friday
Easter Sunday
Choosing Easter
Appendix: The Gospels as Sources, a Chronology, and Symbolism
Jesus in the Four Gospels
Jesus during His Last Week
Jesus as the Anointed One

Last year the week before Easter I read a book called A Christ-Centered Easter. It gave activities to do with your kids each day of the week leading up to Easter to help bring the focus of Easter back to Christ.

God So Loved the World is a book along the sames lines only it is much more in depth. It takes a detailed look at the life of Christ the week leading up to his death and resurrection. Centered around the accounts of Christ's life from the Gospels it is filled with pictures, quotes, songs, and scriptures to help us understand what transpired during the Christ's final week.

This is a beautiful book I would recommend to anyone seeking a better understanding of the Holy Week that culminates on Easter morning.  There is much out there about putting Christ back in to Christmas.  This book helps bring the focus of Easter back to where it should be... on Christ's atonement, death and Resurrection.

Rating: 5 Stars

Source: From Publisher
25. Book Review: How to Be God's Little Princess by Sheila Walsh

How to Be God's Little Princess: Royal Tips for Manners, Etiquette, and True Beauty by Sheila Walsh:

A fun guide book for God's little princesses.

What does it take to be a princess? Sheila Walsh has some important answers to share for every little girl. This trendy design features black & white line art and a two-color pink and black interior. The art will tie to each how-to topic in the book-how to make the best pink cookies, how to wear a tiara, how to earn money at home, how to care for a royal dog, how to be respectful, how to use good manners, how to help Mom, how to follow Jesus, how to act like a princess when things go terribly wrong, and many more.

What a cute book!  The idea of manners and etiquette seems to be lost in today's world.  This book is aimed at about 8-11 year olds and is filled with a wide variety of information.  With everything from Internet Safety to planning a party, from meal time etiquette to being a good friend, from modesty to using time wisely...  There is a little bit of everything found within the pages of this book.

There are fun illustrations and quizzes that teach valuable lessons.  This is a book that is sure to be a hit with tween age girls.  Obviously you can tell by the title that this book is aimed at a Christian audience.  There are scriptures on the first page of each chapter with the overall message being:

"You are God's beautiful, incredible princess - a crowning jewel in His kingdom"

My review copy of this book will definitely be finding its way into my daughter's Easter Basket.

Content: Clean

Rating: 5 Stars

Source: For Review as part of a blog tour

1 Comments on Book Review: How to Be God's Little Princess by Sheila Walsh, last added: 4/19/2011
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