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Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Book Tag!

Greetings fellow Book Dragons!

Halloween is upon us!  To celebrate I wanted to do the Halloween Book Tag, created by Naomi the Book Lover.  I wasn't tagged by anyone, but I loved the idea and thought it would be fun as another way to celebrate the day!

So on to the questions!

1.  Carving Pumpkins - What book would you carve up and light on fire?

He Killed Them All by Jeanine Pirro

This is perhaps the worst true crime book I have ever read.  I'm not even going to waste time discussing how bad because both you and I have far better ways to spend our time.  The case of Robert Durst is very interesting, so watch the show Jinx or even the All Good Things starring Ryan Gosling Jr.  You're time will have been much better served!  But let's just say that if you are a fan of her show on Fox News, this book told me that she certainly doesn't write those scathing opening statements, but whoever does should have written this book!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Discover 3 Great Books Featuring 1 Dynamic Theme - Polar Horror

Greetings fellow Book Dragons!

Three on a Theme is a monthly feature where I highlight three great backlisted books (older published works) that share similar subjects or topics.  This month's post was also a guest post for the blog A Reader's Oasis, so please check out Stephanie's blog as well and share some love!  

With Halloween a few days away, I wanted to not only focus on spooky and creepy reads, but also on those that featured cold settings to remind us that winter is right around the corner.  The temperatures may start dropping, but your TBR pile is growing!  These books are great scary choices for October as well as in the next few months when you find yourself curling up with a blanket and a hot beverage to keep warm.  Dark and quite menacing, you may find yourself bundling up even tighter to keep the chill out of your bones!

Here are three great horror books featuring featuring a cold, polar setting!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

November and December Book Selections for the Weekly Virtual Book Club for Kids

Greetings fellow Book Dragons!

The book selections for November and December were recently announced!  I can't believe how quickly this year has gone by!

This book club is specially designed for preschool (2-5) kids and will feature a new book with a coordinating theme each week during the 2016-2017 school year.  Hosted by Toddler Approved, The Educators' Spin On It, and Rainy Day Mum, there will also be additional co-hosts that will provide links to many activity ideas.  Join the Facebook group to see the activities that will announced for that week every Monday as well as share what you're doing, get more ideas, or just simply connect with others.

The primary goal is to read the featured book and do at least one activity during the week, but you decide what works for you and your children.  I try to do one activity a day, but even that can sometimes be too much when dealing with a headstrong preschooler and a mobile toddler.

November Featured Book List for virtual Book Club for Kids

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

T5W: Favorite Spooky Settings

Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

This is a weekly meme within the book community that was created by Lainey of GingerReadsLainey, but is now hosted by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes.  If you're interested in participating, find out more on the Goodreads group!

This week's topic is Favorite Spooky Settings!  These can be settings that exist in books or ones you'd like to see in books.  These don't necessarily have to be horror or scary settings.  You can also use eerie, atmospheric, macabre, or eclectic settings.  In no particular order, here are my favorites!

1.  Christmasland from NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Christmasland is a hidden place that is only accessible by the character Charles Manx Talent, an undying man who has a special penchant for understanding children, especially those that find themselves in unfavorable circumstances.  The kids are brought to this terrifying playground of amusements, but don't ever find yourself there if you're an adult!  It's cold, both literally and figuratively, and quite disturbing.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Weekly Virtual Book Club for Kids: A Week of Spiders

Greetings fellow Book Dragons!

We wrapped up spider week of the Virtual Book Club for Kids with The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle!  This was another play it by ear week.  My husband was out of town for military training, so that made the week feel even longer as well as Jackson going through a growth spurt and bad teething again!  However, we ended up having a great selection of other books to go along with the theme and the weather has been really nice lately, so we spent more time doing things outside or simply playing with play doh, which in a lot of ways is more fun than anything I could have planned!

The Very Busy Spider at first glance can appear overly simplistic, but this is a beautifully illustrated story that works great for babies and toddlers as an introduction to various farm animals and the specific sound each one makes as well as preschoolers and young children who will appreciate the spider's message of determination and focus.  The spider spends her day spinning a web as animals approach her with suggestions of doing other activities.  Rather than becoming distracted, she continues her work and eventually spins a beautiful web that allows her to catch her meal and rest.  This is an excellent pre-reader or early reader book to share because of its use of repetition and easily identifiable animals.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

T5W: Favorite Non-Canon Ships

Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

This is a weekly meme within the book community that was created by Lainey of GingerReadsLainey, but is now hosted by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes.  If you're interested in participating, find out more on the Goodreads group!

This week's topic is Favorite Non-Canon Ships ("ship" is short for romantic relationship)!  These are the couples you love, but they never got together in canon (canon meaning - what actually happened in the text).  Or the couples that did get together, but weren't together in the end of the series.  Or a couple you ship, but it's actually impossible for them to be together because they are from different worlds, franchises, etc.  Let your shipper heart run wild.  I know mine will!  So here are my selections in no particular order.

1.  Lara Jean and John Ambrose McClaren from P.S. I Still Love You by Jenni Han

Image result for laura jean and john ambrose mcclaren fan art

John Ambrose McClaren is everything you wanted in a relationship with a teenage boy.  He's so adorable, he's intelligent, and he pays attention.  And then there was that magical evening at the senior center that was hosting a 1940's USO dance!  He's not even bitter that Laura Jean decides to pursue her feelings for Peter.  He just says, "I don't think it was our time then.  I guess it isn't now, either.  But one day maybe it will be." 

I'm just going to go swoon for a while and hope that the final installment finds that it is the right time for them.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Weekly Virtual Book Club for Kids: A Week of Farms!

Greetings fellow Book Dragons!

We wrapped up our fifth week of the Virtual Book Club for Kids with Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle!  This book has been a favorite of ours since Maddox was itty bitty.  When he was about 18 months old, he loved everything about farms and we must have read that book alone at least a thousand times!  Because we had previously gone through a farm phase, I was able to recycle some older activities, which definitely made the week easier considering I ended up with a bad sinus infection that once again put a damper in my energy level and interest in anything that I had initially planned.  Allergies were also an issue for the boys, so we just played everything by ear.

Little Blue Truck is an excellent picture book that is a must have for any child's library.  Blue is a little truck  happily greeting all of his animal friends as he travels down a sleepy country road.   One day, a big busy dump truck zooms rudely past Blue, but soon finds himself stuck in some mud.  Blue comes to his aid, but ends up stuck as well.  When he cries out for help, his pack of animal friends rush right over to help get him back on the road, ultimately teaching the self-important dump truck the value of friendship and the reward of helping others.  The illustrations are quite expressive, but maintain a timeless appeal.  The rhyming text is very engaging and entertaining for preschoolers and older children, but simple enough for babies and toddlers and everyone will enjoy all of the vehicle and animal sounds that repeat throughout.  This is a fantastic story to not only introduce but continue the discussion on what it means to be a good friend.  This book is available in both standard picture book format and as a board book.

BOOK REVIEW: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena (Psychological Thriller)

Shari Lapena

Genre:  Domestic Thriller
Publisher: Penguin
Date of Publication: August 23, 2016
Number of Pages: 316

It all started at a dinner party. . .

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors—a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives.

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night, when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately lands on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they've kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family—a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

These kinds of stories will always captivate me.  I am a sucker for family secrets, especially when they come to light because of tragic circumstances that usually involve children.  However, this one quickly became too convoluted to maintain its sense of realism and I was slightly disappointed by a feature of the reveal that was somewhat cliche.  The tension and pacing are great for this type of thriller.  It was very difficult to put the book down once I started because there was a new surprise with each turn of the page, but to some extent, this begins to feel overplayed for pure shock value because there are so many twists and turns along the way.  There are also so many red herrings and so few clues to solving what happened to this baby that even though you get a sense of what the detective is thinking throughout the story, his viewpoint is ultimately useless as a means to discover the conclusion because you as the reader find out what happened at the same time he does if not slightly sooner.  The story quickly becomes less about where the baby is and more about who is responsible and who is going to pay for it...literally.

Although this cast of characters is so duplicitous, so highly flawed, and so unlikable, it was ultimately the decision to tell the story through the use of third person narration that enhanced the difficultly in trying to connect with anyone.  And in a sense, this made it hard to see much character development.  The story is essentially told in alternating viewpoints between Marco and Anne as they try to piece together what has happened to their daughter, but I think that had it been told in first person with the same flip flopping of perspectives, the entire story could have been taken to the next level.  In the end, it read amateurishly and with a cold tone that contradicts the empathy you want to have for some of these characters and their situation.

The Couple Next Door was definitely entertaining and would be a great choice if you find yourself in a reading slump.  While this is a debut novel, the potential for promising talent is there and I will be on the look out for future books by this author.  This is one heck of a train wreck, so hang on because you're in for one wild and unforgettable ride!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Monster Mash Book Tag

Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

I saw this book tag the other day from some Booktubers I subscribe to and I wanted to give it a try!  I try to do at least one tag a month and what better way to get into the Halloween spirit than with The Monster Mash Book Tag!

This is an original tag created by The Restricted Section, which is based off the festive song by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers.  If you're not familiar with the song, take a moment to get into the mood:

So much fun right!?!  Okay, let's do this!

Question 1:  

"I was working in the lab late one night."  
What's a book that kept you up at night?

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

I was a bit skeptical going into it because it seemed that a lot of people whose opinion I respect were not thrilled with this one.  But ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference, which is the magic and joy of reading after all, and I ended up really enjoying this one.  It was my book club's pick for this month, so it will definitely be fun to discuss their take on it as well.  I can only read in short bursts during the day because of the kiddos, but there were times when I couldn't wait for the downtime so I could continue reading this.  The night I finished it, I just kept going until well after 1:30 am because I HAD to know what happened!   The decision to stay up that late with two small children was overwhelmingly a poor choice, but I knew the result of the mystery and I was still thinking about it days later!  Now I have the author's first book, In a Dark, Dark Wood, on hold at my library and really want to read that one, although I hear the same complaints, so we'll see!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

T5W: Inaccurate Book Covers

Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

This is a weekly meme within the book community that was created by Lainey of GingerReadsLainey, but is now hosted by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes.  If you're interested in participating, find out more on the Goodreads group!

This week's topic is Inaccurate Book Covers!  These are the books that have nothing to do with the story, or the cover model doesn't look anything like the actual main character, or it's a really cheesy cover for a great read!  So in no particular order, here are my selections!

1.  The Pact by Jodi Picoult

Image result for the pact jodi picoult

This is a tragic story about teens and relationships and I can still remember being a teen myself reading this and thinking that the couple on the cover were far too old to be Chris and Emily!  This cover portrays nothing about what the book is about.  You know from the synopsis that it's a very complex and emotional story, but the cover suggests something more like Danielle Steel or Nora Roberts and that is definitely not the case!  

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Weekly Virtual Book Club for Kids: A Week of Pumpkins

Greetings fellow Book Dragons!

We wrapped up another week of the Virtual Book Club for Kids with Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yaccarino!  This week was all about pumpkins, and to be perfectly honest, while I was truly looking forward to this one, I mentally hit a wall.  I had no real energy to do much of anything related to this week.  My birthday was this week, but Jackson got sick and has some bad teething going on, so the week just felt over before it even got started.  I was super excited about discovering a local pumpkin patch that offered a story time, which would have been the perfect addition to such a bad week; however, with Jackson running a fever, there was just no way.  But we'll definitely try again next Friday.

I will say that despite our lack of interest in the activities, the boys do love books and reading, so for the most part, our week was made up of reading the featured book, Five Little Pumpkins, so many times!

This is a good quality board board that repeats the finger play in big text across the top of the page.  The illustrations are bright and bold, which truly highlights the playful spirit of the rhyme and keeps both preschoolers and babies entertained.  My favorite feature is that each pumpkin has an individual, vivid expression that we were able to use to discuss emotions:  Which pumpkin is happy?  Which pumpkin looks sad?  This one has been a favorite of Maddox's since his first Halloween four years ago!

Since both boys were enjoying the rhyme so much, we kept finding different ways to retell it!  I had some felt pumpkins that I've used for years to put on our flannel board, which is a great way to introduce and reinforce counting.  However, this year proved that it has outgrown its use in that regard since Maddox is well above simply counting to five!  He did enjoy playing with the pumpkins and making up silly games with them though!  Next year, Jackson can start the counting game!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

T5W: Books That Took You the Longest to Finish

Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

This is a weekly meme within the book community that was created by Lainey of GingerReadsLainey, but is now hosted by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes.  If you're interested in participating, find out more on the Goodreads group!

This week's topic is Books that Took You the Longest to Finish!  These are the books that you had on your nightstand "in progress" for months or years.  The books that you took weeks to read because they put you in a slump.  Those books that were an uphill battle.  These are books you started and actually read, not books you've just had on your shelf the longest.  So in no particular order, here are my selections!

Monday, October 3, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris (Thriller)

Greetings Friends!

Today, I have a review of the debut novel by B.A. Paris Behind Closed Doors!


Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Released:  2016

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Virtual Book Club for Kids: A Week of Leaves and Celebrating Fall

Greetings fellow Book Dragons!

We wrapped up another fun filled week of the Virtual Book Club for Kids with Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert!  This week was all about leaves and welcoming a new season, although that's not so much the case here in Texas!  

Leaf Man is a fantastic story to introduce as the beginning of fall arrives.  Made up of various leaves, Leaf Man has got to go where the wind blows, and as he drifts, he begins to take on the shape of other creatures.  The illustrations are made from actual leaves, while die cut backgrounds create beautiful landscapes that celebrate the natural world around us and the rich, imaginative life that children create!  The top edges of these double page spreads aren't cut straight, but rather simulate swooping horizon lines that enhance the feeling of rolling through the scenery right along with Leaf Man.  This story certainly made my little explorer take a second look at all the different leaves on our walks to the playground!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Field Trip to the Texas Teen Book Festival 2016

Greetings fellow Book Dragons!

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Texas Teen Book Festival!  We packed up the whole family and headed downtown to St. Edward's University.  I wish I could say that I met all the authors during book signings and listened to the amazing panels, but unfortunately, with little ones that just wasn't possible this year.

Not five minutes into it and Precious #1 is complaining about something in his shoe!