Children’s Book Review: The Day That A Ran Away by B.C.R. Fegan

The Day That A Ran Away
By B.C.R. Fegan

My review: 4 of 5 stars

The Day That A Ran Away is a clever, colorful, and catchy concept book. The letters of the alphabet take the form of little monsters that do not cooperate with Jet and his homework. The rhythm and rhyme give it a sing-song feel, and the illustrations feature action and emotion that fit the story. My only concern is confusion over the target audience. Two concepts are put forth in this book: the alphabet and the importance of homework. The alphabet is taught in preschool or kindergarten where no homework is given. Homework is generally reserved for at least 1st graders who usually know their alphabet. So I’m not sure which readers to which this book would be most appealing. My guess is that kindergartners and beginning readers would enjoy and benefit from it the most. It would also make for a good read-aloud in the classroom or library. The presenter could take pauses to let the children guess the next letter or insert a rhyming word. It does make for a refreshing change from the usual alphabet concept book. The importance of completing your homework is a good message, but I wonder if it is really applicable to the audience most likely to experience this book. In any case, I would be very likely to share this book in story time.

In accordance with FTC guidelines, please note I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 by B.C.R. Fegan

Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 by B.C.R. Fegan
My Review: 4.5 of 5 stars

Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 is a delightful romp through a unique hotel with many unusual guests. The rhyming text maintains a steady rhythm throughout, making this book a good read-aloud. The suspense that builds to door 32 compels the reader forward quite quickly because you really want to know what is behind that door. This is mostly a good thing, but if you only think about door 32, you miss a great deal of fun along the way. The twist at the end is cute and unexpected although with all the build-up, I was expecting something more dramatic. All in all, Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 should delight young children who will want to read it again and again in order to “open” all the doors. The adorable, colorful and animated illustrations make the reader want to return and study all the rooms more carefully. The longer you look, the more you see. This book is clever and entertaining. I highly recommend it for children of about 3 to 5 years. Older children learning to read may enjoy it too.

In accordance with FTC guidelines, please note I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

My review: 4 of 5 stars

When I want a good laugh and some quirky characters, I often turn to Nick Hornby. He hasn’t disappointed me yet. Juliet, Naked was not one of my favorites, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. Hornby has a funny sense of the absurd which comes across well in his stories. Juliet, Naked featured quirky, entertaining characters who were obsessed with a certain musician and a certain record. The imagery and metaphors were even humorous. Sometimes I was laughing so hard I couldn’t see the words anymore for the tears in my eyes. I felt so-so about the ending, but it was a fun read overall. Recommended if you want a light-hearted, hilarious read.

Quotes:

“…people who are quite content don’t have a rubbish life…” (p. 139).

“It was hopeless, life, really. It was set up all wrong” (p. 145).

“…the trick to doing nothing…was not to think while you were doing it” (p. 162).

Book Blast and $50 Giveaway: Dating the It Guy by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Dating the It Guy by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator’s son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren seems determined to get back into his life along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.

Excerpt:

I took a drink of water, and it dribbled down my chin. Lovely—I was sure all the girls at the country club drooled openly. Brendon walked over to my side of the court and asked if he could have some of my water because he had finished his sports drink. I never share drinks since I saw a story on the news about how meningitis was spread through stuff like that, but I handed him the bottle. I was surprised he’d want to drink after me, but maybe he was a step away from dehydrating, and it was between sharing my spit or death.

“Wanna quit?” he asked. I nodded and went to change. There was only one other girl in the locker room as I washed up and pulled my hair up. I went out to meet Brendon, and he asked if I wanted to get some frozen yogurt. I started to answer when the girl in the locker room came out behind me.

“Hey, stranger. Haven’t seen you around lately,” she said, putting her hand on Brendon’s arm.

“Hey, Cassie,” he said.

“What have you been up to?” she asked.

I’ve seen dogs chase the mail carrier with more dignity. Brendon shrugged and said he had been busy. He introduced me, and her eyes darted over to me just long enough to size me up. I hated girls who acted like having another female in the room was competition.

“Well, give me a call sometime,” she said, walking away.

What was her problem? She didn’t know whether or not we were dating. It was like it didn’t matter if I was his girlfriend or not because I wasn’t “good enough.”

Praise for Dating the It Guy:

“Dating the It Guy is an entertaining story that is as absorbing as it is hilarious.” Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers’ Favorite

“A satisfying YA romance that is really about growing up and learning how to deal with life.” Writing Pearls book review blog

“There is so much to love about this book. Krysten Lindsay Hager knows how teens think and speak, and she understands why Emme would feel overwhelmed by everything about Brendon – his looks, his popularity, his feelings for her, his exes, his family.” Vox libris: the voice of books book review blog

Author Krysten Lyndsay Hager

Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2), and Dating the It Guy. Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Best Sellers award. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Grand Blanc View, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.

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amazon or paypal$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 7/23/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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OMG…I Did It Again? Book Blast and $25 Giveaway

OMG... I did it again
OMG… I Did It Again? by Talia Aikens-Nuñez

April Appleton wakes up to quite the sight: a herd of elephants marching down her street! She realizes that her powers of witchcraft have done it again. With her friends, Grace and Eve, April must figure out how the elephants got to her town in the first place and then how to get them back home. But with elephants playing in the neighbor’s pool, sitting on cars and eating everyone’s trees, how will they do it? Early readers will delight in the misadventures of this reluctant witch and her plucky friends as they try to figure out how to use April’s powers to do good in the world.

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taliaAuthor Talia Aikens-Nuñez
Talia Aikens-Nuñez wanted to be a meteorologist, a politician and a lawyer. She never thought she would be a writer. It was the birth of her daughter that caused her to start writing. Raising a bilingual child inspired Talia to write lyrical children’s books. Talia’s family loves nature so much that she and her husband vowed that they will always try to live close to water. They live on a river in Connecticut with their kids.

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$25 Blog Tour giveawayBlog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 10/31/16

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Book Blast: Thirty-Four Going on Bride by Becky Monson and $100 Giveaway

 

Thirty four Going on BrideThirty-Four Going on Bride by Becky Monson

Julia Dorning is about to lose it. Between her over-the-top wedding that her sister, Anna, took upon herself to create, and the under-staffed popular bakery that she runs, she can barely find time to breathe.

All Julia ever wanted was a quaint wedding on the beach with family and friends. But now Julia has to contend with not only her sister’s plans, but those of her future mother-in-law, as well. Not wanting to step on anyone’s toes, especially her mother-in-law’s, Julia just goes along with it.

She can only take so much, though, and when her newest employee, Kate, makes things harder at the bakery, Julia has to find a way to simplify her life.

Can she do it or will she end up a basket case? Find out how she does it in this hilarious conclusion to the Spinster series!

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Becky MonsonAuthor Becky Monson
By day, Becky Monson is a mother to three young children, and a wife. By night, she escapes with reading books and writing. In her debut novel, Becky uses humor and true-life experiences to bring her characters to life. She loves all things chick-lit (movies, books, etc.), and wishes she had a British accent. She has recently given up Diet Coke for the fiftieth time and is hopeful this time will last… but it probably won’t.


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Praise for the Book
“My favorite of the series!” – Author Jennifer Peel
“Becky Monson did it again!” – Amazon Reviewer
“It’s rare that I want to give a book six stars, but this is certainly one of them.” -Blogger Connie Fischer, Bookworm2bookworm
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Excerpt
“Pick it up, Julia! You can do this!”
I’m in the seventh circle of hell.
“Come on! Let’s move faster!” My sister Anna yells over the construction that we’re currently passing. As expected, we get a few whoops and whistles tossed at us from the workers. Pity flattery, I’m sure. Well, maybe not for Anna, but certainly for me. There’s absolutely nothing attractive about me right now.
To start, I don’t know if I’ve ever sweated this hard in my life. I look like I’ve taken a shower fully clothed. I’m sticky and perspiring, and it’s not even that hot outside. It’s a typical day near the end of May in Denver, Colorado. How did I let Anna convince me to do this? Oh that’s right, there was no convincing. She forced me. “It’ll be good for you,” she had said, lying through her devil teeth.
At this point I don’t know if my lungs will ever be the same. They actually ache with pain. And then there’s the ache in my calves, and really every other part of my body. Whoever thought of running as an extracurricular activity should be shot. A form of torture, yes. Exercise? I’d rather get a tooth pulled without Novocain.

$100 Blast Giveaway

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$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 9/1/16

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Book Review: In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
My review: 4 of 5 stars

Bill Bryson is my favorite travel writer and an excellent storyteller. In a Sunburned Country starts with uncommonly known facts and arrests the reader with tidbits of knowledge and Bryson’s characteristically droll observations. Bryson goes out of his way to discover the essence of the people and the places of Australia while conducting a great deal of research to stimulate the reader. I learned. I traveled. I laughed often. Sometimes when Bryson was driving or walking about, I found myself losing interest, but only momentarily. He’d soon interject an odd fact or humorous anecdote and regain my full attention. Recommended for fans of travel memoirs.

Quotes:

“My one tip for you if you ever go to Canberra is don’t leave your hotel without a good map, a compass, several days’ provisions, and a cell phone with the number of a rescue service” (p. 87).

“(Australia) teems with interesting stuff, but at the same time it’s so vast and empty and forbidding that it generally takes a remarkable stroke of luck to find it” (p. 120).

“When even camels can’t manage a desert, you know you’ve found a tough part of the world” (p. 245).

“What a sad and curious age we live in” (p. 250).

Other Bill Bryson Books I’ve enjoyed:

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Book Review: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Reading Bear Enjoying The Rosie Project
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

[simpleazon-link asin=”1476729093″ locale=”us”]The Rosie Project: A Novel[/simpleazon-link] by Graeme Simsion

My review: 5 of 5 stars

Delightful, astute and uproariously funny! Don Tillman, professor of genetics, soars as a socially inept scientist in search of a wife. He approaches the job scientifically and soon discovers that love is more art than science. His adherence to routine and his need to approach life logically are recipes for misunderstandings and missteps that are often hysterical. Tillman’s clinical narration of the Wife Project and subsequent events results in deadpan delivery that hits the comic bull’s-eye. The author manages to be humorous as well as insightful and intelligent in the writing of The Rosie Project. Don is a gem of a man, and Rosie is the real deal. I fell in love with them both. Recommended for fans of romantic comedy and The Big Bang Theory.

Our book club chose The Rosie Project to discuss this month. The questions led to lively conversation about bad dates and how we see ourselves in general. Some participants shared personal experiences with students or relatives with Asperger’s Syndrome. Most readers enjoyed the book, but a couple were put off by the science and clinical narration. The Rosie Project proved to be an excellent book club choice.

*Contains language that may be offensive to some readers.

Quotes:

“In the animal kingdom, I would succeed in reproducing” (p. 3).

“Humans often fail to see what is close to them and obvious to others” (p. 82).

“Of course I was depressed: I lacked friends, sex, and a social life, because I was incompatible with other people” (p. 183).

“Emotions have their own logic” (p. 186).

“Love is a powerful feeling for another person, often defying logic” (p. 280).

For Book Clubs:

Reading Group Guide by Graeme Simsion (includes a link to an online Asperger’s test)
Reading Group Guide by Simon and Schuster (includes a Q & A with Graeme Simsion)

Weekend Read: At J.P. Moseley Park with The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Bear Bench Rosie 8.16.15
Reading Bear chuckling about Don and skeletons in The Rosie Project and wanting to share this book with his friends.
Reading Bear with The Rosie Project ignoring the perils of Frisbee golf.
Reading Bear with The Rosie Project ignoring the perils of Frisbee golf already looking forward to the movie.
Reading Bear relaxing by the falls with The Rosie Project.
Reading Bear relaxing by the falls with The Rosie Project ready to read more by Graeme Simsion.

Book Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

[simpleazon-image align=”left” asin=”1419719602″ locale=”us” height=”500″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41lwKUvZMqL.jpg” width=”330″][simpleazon-link asin=”1419719602″ locale=”us”]Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Revised Edition)[/simpleazon-link]
My review: 5 of 5 stars

For a few days now, I’ve been living inside the head of a teenaged boy. I won’t lie. It was fairly disgusting in there. Foul language, sexual thoughts, gross images, and plenty of snarky comments. While Greg Gaines, the narrator, the “me,” in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, is everything one would expect a teenaged boy to be, he’s also witty and likeable. As for the book, I was about 2/3rds of the way through when its brilliance struck me.

At first, I was grabbed by the opening line, “I have no idea how to write this stupid book” (p.1). In this short sentence, I knew I was about to encounter an honest, self-effacing, and open character with a compelling story. The format threw me at first. The book stays in character. Having been composed by a teenaged boy, the fonts change periodically, the tone is conversational and snarky, and the narrative isn’t smooth. For a while, I had difficulty reading the book. Being inside the head of an average teenaged boy didn’t help matters.

Because I was aware of the starred reviews by both Kirkus and Booklist and because I had wanted, but failed, to see the movie, I pressed on in my reading of Me and Earl. I was also well aware within the first few pages of why this book would appeal to teenagers, even teenage boys. Me and Earl is not a romance. It is a story of friendship. Not a sappy story but a frank, honest and often hysterical one. Yes, some of the humor was gross boy stuff, but I still laughed.

Greg, it turns out, is an unreliable narrator because despite his openness, he tends to put himself down. When, through his actions and those of other characters, the reader gets to know Greg, the reader learns that Greg cares more and is more talented than he realizes or is prepared to admit. Therein lies Me and Earl’s brilliance as a novel. The author stunned me with the depth of character and heart revealed in this work because it snuck up on me. By narrating the story, Greg keeps the story at a light, gross-out, non-sappy level, while the actual author, Andrews, delivers the unsuspecting reader a powerhouse punch of Wow.

I think I understand my son better. That’s how revealing Me and Earl proved to be. Brilliant.

Quotes:

“I had no way of knowing that as soon as Mom walked in the prime of my life was over. It had lasted about eight hours” (p. 30).

“Not only can cats not act, they also hate wearing clothes” (p. 129).

“…it’s weird to put a date to things anyway. It makes it feel like news or something” (p. 181).

“If you just had headlines from every single day of my life you would get a better sense of how boring and random it is” (p. 182).