Booklook Review: The Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings

The Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings Collection

The Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings by Jan and Mike Berenstain

5 Books in 1

April 4, 2017 -Zonderkidz

Source – BookLook Bloggers

I received a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

5 Stars

This is a nice collection of five Berenstain Bears books.  Each story highlights one (or more) aspect friendship and family relationships. This was a great set of stories to share with my kids, and it was a bit nostalgic for me. The writing style was familiar for the most part. Perfect Fishing Spot threw me off a bit because I was not expecting the rhyming. But it was cute, fun and had a lesson at the end.  This collection touches on a variety of issues that children will encounter. How do you treat someone who’s different? What if your best friend gets a new friend? What happens when you are kind to someone? All of these issues are explored but comes with a Biblical resolution. I am happy to add this book to my kids’ collection, and I think that most people will be too.

 

 

Always Shine!

 

Review: *DNF* Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen

In case you may be wondering what happened to me this past month, or where I have been… I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. While I will be posting reviews regularly, the rest of this blog’s content won’t come back for a bit. Not until we find our new rhythm. I and family are doing well. 

Unfolding

Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen

January 31, 2017 – Blink YA Books

Purpose: Review

Source: Booklook Bloggers

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

DNF

                When I read the summary of this book, I immediately wanted to get my hands on a copy of it. I just had to read it ASAP. So when I had the opportunity to review it, I jumped at the chance. I really thought that I would like this book, I really wanted to. Unfortunately, I didn’t. I was frustrated and bored with this book that I couldn’t even finish it. I hate to review books that I didn’t finish, but there are some cases where I have to. And this is one of them.

I would say that I finished a third of the book, at least a hundred pages into it. And yet, if someone was to ask me what this book was about, I wouldn’t be able to clearly explain it (hence why I skipped that part of my review).  A boy with scoliosis and who is also an epileptic is friends with a girl who was delivered to his neighborhood via a tornado and who is also able to see into the future. I know that something has happened and something is currently happening, I have no clue what that is.  The mystery, the selling point for this book was very slow to unravel. The beginning gives you a lot of questions, but no clue as to the possible answers. A lot of cloak and dagger and otherness, without a real or defined purpose.

My other complaint would be with the characters. Each seemed to have a role to play, and while they have distinct personalities, I didn’t really like any of them. I didn’t connect with any of them, in any way that would cause me to be invested in them or the story.  What this story does have going for it is the potential. I think that the bare bones of this story are good and strong, but it’s everything else that just didn’t work for me.

Always Shine 

Children’s Review: Army Brats by Daphne Benedis-Grab

Army Brats

Army Brats by Daphne Benedis-Grab

Scholastic Press- March 28, 2017

Purpose: Requested for review

Source: Publisher

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

5 stars

This is the story of three siblings as they adjust to living on an army post for the very first time. The Baileys are moving from Pennsylvania to Fort Patrick because their mom, a military intelligence officer has accepted a teaching position.  All three kids are excited about this move, and even about starting a new school. They will finally be around people who understand military life. But not everything turns out the way that they thought that it would.  Charlotte makes friends with a new girl, who happens to be very popular. But she soon discovers that popularity does not mean being nice. Tom, though he tries very hard not to, becomes the target of the base bully. Though Rosie is content with just her family and dog, Cupcake, she learns that it’s not so bad having a friend.

This is the third book by this author, and I must admit she has become a favorite. Not just for me, but for read a-louds with my son.   She has a way of talking about very big (and sometimes complicated) topics and breaking them down to kid-size portion. And she does this without dumbing down anything. This is a rather short book, so I don’t want to go into details that will give anything away. But I will do my best. I do recommend this, especially for kids who are struggling with finding their place in the world, who are starting middle school and who may have trouble making friends.

Because of Tom’s interactions with the base bully, he begins to question himself.  But as the siblings take on the challenge of the secret mission, he learns that there are worse things than someone teasing you – accepting the harmful words/taunts as truth. He gains a deeper and truer understanding of what it means to be brave, and not in the way that he thought he would.  Charlotte has made friends with the school’s very own mean girls. She goes along with them even when her brother becomes the target of their meanness. Rosie is a spitfire of a character and is very comfortable being herself, even if it leaves her without any friends. But she slowly learns what it takes to be a good friend.

This was a very fun story, one that I will reread to my son as he grows. It deals with real issues and considers the individuality of the characters. How they respond to their situations is unique to their personalities.  The solutions presented in the book, are realistic and highly recommended. There isn’t a false promise of a happily ever after at the end, and all problems are not solved with a nice little bow. All issues are resolved, and after the characters learn more about themselves, the only reassurance that they have at the end is that whatever comes their way, even the teasing and bullying, dealing with gossip and mean girls and all of the other things that come with the journey of middle school, they will be able to handle it.

If you have not had the opportunity to read any of Daphne Bendis-Grab’s work, I highly recommend it. I also recommend sharing it and passing it around to all the young readers in your life. That’s what I’m going to do.

Always Shine!

Blog Tour Stop: Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis

Game_of_Shadows_Tour_Banner.jpg

I am excited for the opportunity to be one of the stop for this blog tour. This is one of my anticipated reads for this year.  I am going to put all of the info about the book and author first, but keep going. I will be giving a first impressions review and  there will be a link for a giveaway at the end!

game-of-shadows

Synopsis 
Ethan Makkai thought that seeing ghosts was the worst of his problems. Between his ethereal gift and life with a single mother hell-bent on watching his every move, he feels imprisoned. When Ethan sees a chance to escape, to leave the house by himself for the first time in his life, he seizes it, unaware that this first taste of freedom will cost him everything.

Ethan is thrown into a strange and eerie world, like nothing he’s ever seen. He’s assaulted by dive-bombing birds and rescued by a stranger who claims to be his bodyguard. His apartment is trashed, and his mother is kidnapped to a place Ethan never knew existed—a hidden continent called Tara.
Travelling to Tara in search of his mother, Ethan discovers that everything he knows about his life is a lie. His mother is royalty. His father is not dead. His destiny is likely to get him killed.
Confronted by a vicious sorcerer determined to destroy the Makkai family, Ethan must garner strength from his gift and embrace his destiny if he’s going to save his mother and all the people of Tara, including the beautiful girl he’s fallen for.

 

Praise for GAME OF SHADOWS

“A fantastical journey that I didn’t want to end!” ―Sherrilyn Kenyon, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“It’s impossible to put this riveting page-turner down!” ―Stan Lee, author, editor, actor, and former president and chairman of Marvel Comics

“This book’s got heart . . . a wonderful adventure.” ―R. A. Salvatore, New York Times bestselling author of The Hunters Blades novels

“One of those thrilling tales you can’t put down . . . the perfect blend of imaginative world-building and nonstop action wrapped up in a compelling mystery.” ―D.J. MacHale, New York Times bestselling author of Pendragon and The SYLO Chronicles

“We were hooked. This is an adventure story for the ages.” — John Barrowman & Carole Barrowman, authors of the Hollow Earth trilogy & Conjuror

“Riveting from the start.” ―Steven Gould, author of Jumper

“Lewis has created a whole new world that is at once exciting and affecting. . . . She weaves a web of mythology that is both reminiscent of the Celtic world and redolent of the unique creation of a rich and fertile imagination.”―Dara Hellman, Lecturer, Celtic Studies Program, University of California, Berkeley

erika-lewis

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 

Erika Lewis graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Math. And what do you do with a degree in Math? You become a writer of course… eventually…

She moved to the west coast following her dream to work in television. And after fifteen glorious years developing and producing for truly awesome places, like Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fireworks Television, 20th Television, that’s a division of Fox if you didn’t know that, and then at G4, where she could finally be free to be the nerd she had always been. She had more collectible toys in her office than even the famed executive producers of ATTACK OF THE SHOW and XPLAY. At least that’s the way she remembers it.

So how did this circle back to the beginning of this bio? A Math major becoming a writer? Because she’d actually always been a writer, she just never told anyone. She would write and write, edit and edit, then realize that it wasn’t good enough and go back in for yet another pass. And when she finally had several projects she really loved, that’s when she knew it was time to unleash them to the world.

Her first project, a graphic novel, THE 49TH KEY, is currently being featured in Heavy Metal Magazine, and will be released in trade in summer, 2017. Along with her amazing partner, Jessica Chobot, she’s currently working with LINE Webtoon and Legendary Comics on FIREBRAND, an ongoing comic series. Her first novel, GAME OF SHADOWS hits the bookstore shelves February 28th, 2017 from TOR/Forge Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers.

There are several other really exciting projects that you will be hearing much more about soon, but if she leaked them now, she’d get in big, big, big trouble. She resides in the sunshine state of California. When she’s not chained to her laptop, she’s usually playing with her big fluffy Golden Retriever, or running, or at one of the bookstores or comic shops by her house. And always drinking coffee.

My First Impressions:
Normally, with a blog tour I would post a full review to go along with all of the promotional items. Unfortunately, I had to choose between making sure that my post would go up on time or post a full review. So, in short, I have never done a first impressions review. I’m not certain that it would be fair to my readers since I have not read the entire book. At this point I have about a hundred pages left, and I am certain that the ending will not be disappointing. So here we go:
I was immediately drawn into the story from the first few page. Lewis starts the story off with hints that something much bigger is going on. But it is impossible to tell how big the secrets are until the action starts.  Ethan Makkai is a surprising character. He teeters between being completely lost and afraid in the new world that he is thrown into and being a very capable brave leader. I would have to say that the journey to save his mother helps him grow into the person his country has been waiting for.
Lewis has worked really hard in creating characters with distinct voices and personalities and talents that propel the story forward without losing momentum. Also the work that went into the world-building of Tara is evident. Even things that are out and out unbelievable are molded into something familiar and real.
The whole “character doesn’t know who he is until a catastrophic event reveals the truth, leaving him with no one and nothing to trust” trope is a bit old and annoying in most works. But not here, Lewis makes it work. She keeps the pace steady between learning  what is really going on and the action that is engaging and captivating.
I find it really hard to put this book down. I am sure if life, I.E.  my two year old, did not interrupt, I would have finished this book.  From everything that I’ve read so far, I can easily say that this is one of my favorite reads. Regardless of what happens in the last one hundred pages, I am certain that this book is one that I will continuously recommend to friends and fellow readers!
Want a chance to read this amazing book for yourself? Check out the rafflecopter link below for a chance to win your own copy!
Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter
 

 – 10 Winners will receive a Copy of Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js” target=”_blank”>Rafflecopter Giveaway  for Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis
Check back soon for my full review!
Always Shine!

So Far …. February part 2

Okay, so I thought that Saturdays would be the best day to post these updates. And as it is so appears, I was wrong. I will keep doing them, but they won’t be labeled as Saturday.  Anyway… this is what I have read the rest of February:

Justice Delayed (Memphis Cold Case #1)

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley 

Memphis Cold Case #1

Purpose: Revell Reads Review Program

2.5 Stars

Full Review on Blog

Merlin's Nightmare (The Merlin Spiral #3)

Merlin’s Nightmare by Robert Treskillard 

The Merlin Spiral #3

Purpose: Booklook Review Program

5 stars

Full Review on Blog

Wild Born by Brandon Mull

Spirit Animals #1

Purpose: Read to Peanut

5 Stars

This was my second attempt at this book. The first time I stopped almost halfway into it. But, I think the problem was that I wasn’t reading it to my son on a consistent basis.  But the second time around we both enjoyed it.  Just when you wanted a bit of a pick me up in the story is when the anticipated action takes place.  Perfect timing. I am so glad that we stuck with it, and that we already have the second book to start. My only complaint is that there isn’t a true ending. The first set of challenges and obstacles are dealt with or overcome, but the adventure is just beginning.

Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse, #12)

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris 

Sookie Stackhouse #12

Purpose: Complete a Series

4 Stars

I have to admit that this one was a lot better than the last one. At this point, I can’t really guess what the final book is going to be like. I think Sookie is finally growing in this book. She’s less whiny and annoying in this one at least.

Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)

Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews 

Kate Daniels #9

Purpose: Complete a series

5 stars

I am so glad to be back in this world! Kate Daniels is my hero.  In this one, Kate learns more about herself and her father. She also faces one of the biggest challenges yet. Without giving anything away, I can say that all of the action, high stakes adventure and sass and sarcasm that one has come to expect from a Kate Daniels novel is all there, but there is so much more.

Always Shine!

BookLook Review: Merlin’s Nightmare

Merlin's Nightmare (The Merlin Spiral #3)

Merlin’s Nightmare by Robert Treskillard

Merlin Spiral #3

Blink – May 13, 2014

Purpose: Review, Complete a Series

Source: Booklook Blogger Program

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

5 Stars

This is the third and final book in the Merlin Spiral trilogy.  So I can’t say very much about what happens in this book without spoiling the book. I can say that this is the book where Arthur has grown up and learns the truth of his birth and history. If you have been following me for a while you know that I have thoroughly enjoyed the first two books. So no surprise that I enjoyed this one, though the enjoyment is bittersweet. I am very happy to have arrived at the end of this trilogy, but I am also very sad that this adventure has come to an end.

I am only sorry that it has taken me so very long to read this. Part of it was my aversion to reading the final book in a series, something that I am getting so much better at. Part of it was simply that I knew that it was going to take me a while to get through. I say that not to turn people away from this book, it is not a quick read. Though, it is hard to put down.  Once again, Treskillard has a way of packing his books with so so much goodness. It doesn’t feel like you are not just captivated by the story but that you are right there along the characters experiencing their adventure with them.

We have a returning cast of characters, and while they are all essentially the same, they are also different. So much has changed, the characters have grown and gone on with life. They have different roles and have taken on new challenges. I, once again, really enjoyed this book. It is hard to pick a favorite, so I would recommend that you just read the entire trilogy.  And once you have finished, keep an eye out for Treskillard’s new trilogy The Pendragon Spiral, where Arthur steps into his role and becomes the main character.

 

Revell Reads Review: Justice Delayed

Justice Delayed (Memphis Cold Case #1)

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley

Memphis Cold Case #1

Fleming H. Revell Company – January 31, 2017

Purpose: Review

Source: Revell Reads Review Program

 I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

2.5 stars

Andi Hollister is a TV crime reporter for a Memphis news station. Detective Will Kincaide has recently been promoted to the newly established Cold Case Unit. Eighteen years ago, Andi’s sister Stephanie was murdered. Eighteen years ago, Will’s cousin, Jimmy, was convicted of Stephanie’s murder. Today, in less than a week, Jimmy is scheduled to be executed. Today, he receives a letter stating that he did not kill Stephanie. And so the story begins.

I wanted to review this book because Bradley keeps popping up on my book radar. I really wanted to like this book, and for the most part I did. Well, it was just okay. There are some things that stuck out to me that I had a problem with. And I guess I should start with them.

First, Will was not the only detective investigating this case. There was his supervisor/partner in the Cold Case Unit, Lieutenant David Raines, and Brad Hollister, a homicide detective. Brad is investigating a case that may or may not have anything to do with Stephanie Hollister’s homicide. Andi is also investigating her sister’s murder, though she is doing so under the guise of reporting and making a documentary. So in total, you are following four different people as they investigate the same case. Some of it is them trying to cover as many possible bases as possible since they have such a short amount of time. That is not the problem. The problem is that they don’t talk to each other.  If they had talked to each other, they may have been able to make connections a lot sooner. Characters (Andi) would not be put into unnecessary danger or accidentally reveal information to the wrong people.

Something else that bothered me was the fact that none of the detectives were suspicious of anyone that they talked to. I understand that they were talking to people that were prominent figures in the community. They question each person, again not discussing what was discovered with each other, but it seemed to be more of going through the motions than real investigating. I would think that as detective that they would be more suspicious, or at least curious about the people that they talked to. But, no, they detectives and Andi took everything that was told to them at face value.

My final issue is Andi’s addiction to pain pills. It didn’t read as authentic as it should have been to make it believable. It read as more of a plot device than something that was really affecting the character. It read as if it was something thrown in to move Andi in and out of different positions that would move the story along. If she was not addicted to the pills, there would have been something more believable that would have done the same thing.

But on the other hand, I did  find the  story interesting enough to finish the book, I did like the characters and their relationship to each other.  I also liked the fact that the romance part of the story really did take a back seat to the main story thread.  Though the problems did stand a lot to me, enough to affect the rating, I would be interested in seeing where this series goes next.

Always Shine!