Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Title: Tuesdays at the Castle
Author: Jessica Day George
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: LOVE
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it's up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle's never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom.

Opinions: I fell in love with Jessica Day Georges' writing several years ago when she wrote "Dragon Slippers". Then fell deeper in love when I read, "Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow". So it was with great excitement that I picked up "Tuesdays at the Castle". Although I admit, I didn't have any idea what it was about. So I was very pleased to find out it was about a magic castle that could grow and change as was needed to help the royal family.

This is an interesting story of intrigue, bravery and there is some funny moments too. I love the practical jokes. I love Celie and her siblings. But honestly, one of my favorite characters was the castle. It was amazing. I wanted to go and visit it.

Jessica Day George is an amazing author with a great command of storytelling. I hope she plans to write another book about Celie and the Castle. I would be first in line to buy it. I loved this one so.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Contest Winners Announced!!!

Thanks everyone for participating in our holiday contest. We received some awesome ideas of traditions. The two winners of our contest are..............drum roll please...........

1st Place - Becky Rose
2nd Place - Jenny Moodie

As 1st place winner Becky gets to choose between The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum or Being Sixteen by Allyson Condie. Jenny will receive whichever book Becky did not pick. If you two lovely ladies could email us your addresses to fabulousreads@yahoo.com and I will get the books out to you as soon as possible.

Congratulations to our winners and we hope all of you get lots of books to read for Christmas. ;-)

Stay tuned for future glorious posts and contests that will be coming in the new year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Slayers by C.J. Hill

To enter our contest, go here.

Title: Slayers
Author: C.J. Hill
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Worship
Alerts/Warnings: There is dragon violence and a battle scene. The "Slayers" are teenagers that use firearms to protect people from the dragons.
Premise: Dragons exist. They’re ferocious. And they’re smart: Before they were killed off by slayer-knights, they rendered a select group of eggs dormant, so their offspring would survive. Only a handful of people know about this, let alone believe it – these “Slayers” are descended from the original knights, and are now a diverse group of teens that includes Tori, a smart but spoiled senator’s daughter who didn’t sign up to save the world.

The dragon eggs have fallen into the wrong hands. The Slayers must work together to stop the eggs from hatching. They will fight; they will fall in love. But will they survive?


Opinions: I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! I am a huge fan of C.J. Hill's other works (this book is written under a pseudonym) and was a bit hesitant to read this one. Cause it is a far cry from the other types of books she's written. But BOY HOWDY! is this one good!

Tori has always been obsessed with dragons and she has always believed that they were real, then she goes to "Dragon Camp" and discovers that not only are they real but she was born with special abilities that allow her to fight them.

This book follows Tori and the other Slayers as they train to save people from a Dragon attack. But of course there are adjustments for everyone to make and lots of learning for Tori. Okay, and honestly, I could go on and on about the things I liked, but I don't want to give any spoilers. So just know that this is an AWESOME book. (Can you tell I really liked it?) And I am super excited for the next book in the series.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

To enter our contest, go here.

Title: Between Shades of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Rating: LOVE
Alerts/Warnings: There is a mention of a groping in a prison camp and some brief mentions of forced prosititution. But nothing graphic.
Premise: In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina's father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.

Lina fights for life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive.

It is a long and harrowing journey, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?

Opinions: Such a powerful, heart-wrenching book. I sobbed several times in this book. There was a moment when I had to stop reading because I was crying so hard. As I was reading this book I realized how little I knew about what happened in Russia and the neighboring countries during Stalin's reign of Terror, and this book opened my eyes to it. Intellectually, I knew that Stalin was horrible and that he caused the death of millions of people. But I had never had a class on it or read a book about it. That changed this week when I read this amazingly touching novel.

Lina, her brother Jonas and her mother Elena, are "deported" from their home to Sibera. They don't know where they are going and people are dying all around them. But they are determined to stay together and to stay alive. You follow their journey for over a year and find that even through all the stink and horror they go through, there is still hope and determination to not let these horrible people beat them.

This is a power and moving book that I highly recommend. It is an amazing debut novel for Ruth Sepetys and I for one am anxious to read what she writes next.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow

To enter our contest go here.

Title: The Berlin Boxing Club
Author: Robert Sharenow
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: LOVE!
Alerts/Warnings: This deals with Nazi Germany so there are some moments of racism. There are also some mentions of male genitalial in connection to circumcision and trying to hide his heritage. There is nothing graphic.

Premise: Fourteen-year-old Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew. But to the bullies at his school in Naziera Berlin, it doesn't matter that Karl has never set foot in a synagogue or that his family doesn't practice religion. Demoralized by relentless attacks on a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth to everyone around him.

So when Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons, Karl sees it as the perfect chance to reinvent himself. A skilled cartoonist, Karl has never had an interest in boxing, but as Max becomes the mentor Karl never had, Karl soon finds both his boxing skills and his art flourishing.

But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: protector of his family. Karl longs to ask his new mentor for help, but with Max's fame growing, he is forced to associate with Hitler and other Nazi elites, leaving Karl to wonder where his hero's sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his dream of boxing greatness with his obligation to keep his family out of harm's way?

Opinions: Wow! Can I tell you this is one of the best books I have ever read about Nazi Germany. Don't get me wrong, there are some powerful and touching books out there, but this one just spoke to me.

Robert Sharenow is an amazing author with a great talent for writing and storytelling that draws you in so that the story consumes you in that delicious way that you don't want to do anything but read and discover what happens. I cared so much about Karl and his family that I couldn't stop thinking about them even when I wasn't reading the book. Then when I was reading another book (review coming soon) that took place around the same time, I kept thinking about what Karl and his family would have been doing.

While the topic is sad and depressing, I loved how Robert Sharenow slowly depicted the denegration of the lives of the Jewish people in Germany. I felt that through the course of the book I was falling with Sterns. I was so drawn in that I felt like I was part of the Stern family and the Berlin Boxing Club.

This is an amazing book that everyone should read. It is a profound book that is written by an amazing storyteller who is also an impressive writer.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Secrets of the Magic Ring by Karen McQuestion

To enter our contest go here.

To see my review of "Celia and the Faeries" by Karen McQuestion click here.

Title: Secrets of the Magic Ring
Author: Karen McQuestion
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: When nine-year-old Paul explores the hole dug for his backyard swimming pool, he discovers a box containing a ring—a ring that turns out to be magical. Moments later, a mysterious boy shows up demanding the ring; luckily, Paul’s trusty dog Clem scares him away. To keep the ring safe, Paul hides it in his pillow case, where, to his horror, it’s discovered by his mother, who loans it to his Aunt Vicky. Things get even stranger when Vicky, a non-swimmer, falls into the now-finished pool and discovers that her greatest secret wish has been granted—she can swim! As the ring gets passed around and wishes are made, a wild series of talents and circumstances threaten to turn their lives upside down…forever.

Opinions: I have to admit to being very excited to read this book. I really enjoy Karen McQuestions writing style. She has a unique voice and talent for writing kids in a way that makes you believe that it's real. I love that her writing and characterization is so beautiful that I'm sucked into the characters and I truly believe that what is happening and their choices could be real. Especially in a fantastical setting, it makes you think, "Huh, maybe this could be."

Paul was one of my favorite characters in "Celia and the Faeries" and I was thrilled to find him the main character in this book. Again I really liked the relationship between him and Celia. I also liked that he loved his parents but he was also frustrated with them. But as a mom, I could see both perspectives and I loved that.

I loved the wishes and that unexpected things kept happening. This was a fun, sweet book that I thoroghly enjoyed. I look forward to reading to my boys when they are just a little bit older. (I don't think my 2 year old is quite ready for it yet.) But it is a book that I know they will love, I mean, two words, Talking Dog. You're hooked now aren't you?

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Secret Kingdom by Jenny Nimmo


To read my review of the first book in the Charlie Bone series please click here: Midnight for Charlie Bone.

Title: The Secret Kingdom (Book 1 Chronicles of the Red King)
Author: Jenny Nimmo
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fiction (or mid-grade depending on the library)
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Timoken and his sister, Zobayda, under the protection of a forest jinni and accompanied by a talking camel but pursued by evil virideed, straddle the world of men and the world of enchantments, seeking a home while remaining young by drinking a potion called Alixir." (King County Library System)
Opinions: If you loved the Charlie Bone series then you definitely should read this book. This book tells the beginnings of the life of the Red King from the Charlie Bone series and how he became who he was. I loved delving into a life of a man that we only saw peripherally in the other series. I love the world that Jenny Nimmo has created, especially the magical abilities of various characters. I am fascinated by her creating of the Viridee and I LOVE Gabar the camal. This book is full of adventure, magic, and intrigue and is definitely worth the read. I just recommend that you read the Charlie Bone series first (this book will make much more sense if you do).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan



For my review of book one of the Kane Chronicles please click here: The Red Pyramid.


Title: The Throne of Fire (Book 2 Kane Chronicles)
Author: Rick Riordan
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mid-Grade Fantasy
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Carter Kane and his sister must prevent the chaos snake Apophis from breaking free in a few days' time or the world will come to an end. To have any chance of battling these Forces of Chaos, the Kanes must revive the sun god Ra." (King County Library System)
Opinions: I am LOVING this series. Now that I'm used to the switch between point of views each chapter I have really gotten into the plot a lot easier this time around. I love the intensity/urgency that Sadie and Carter must keep up to reach their goal. I love the underlying humor. I LOVE BES!!!! I mean how can you not love a speedo wearing dwarf god. Rick Riordan is brilliant with his characters.

Sadie and Carter continue as strong characters as they work together to try and revive the Sun God Ra in time to fight off his arch-enemy Apophis. I love the strength they find while working together, but also the truths they discover about themselves when alone. I love seeing new magicians working with the Kane's and the new talents that they possess. This sequel is a definite must read.

CONTEST TIME!!!!

Hello world. It's a new month and time for a new contest and we are giving away TWO fabulous prizes.

To enter you can:

1. Leave a comment on this or any other post until 9 pm on December 15th answering the following question - What is your favorite holiday tradition? (1 entry)
2. Follow our blog (3 entries)
3. Post a link to our blog on your blog. Please leave a link to your blog (5 entries)
4. Blog about our blog or giveaway on your blog. Again please leave a link (5 entries)
5. Convince someone to follow us and enter this contest. If they do and put your name down you get 10 entries!
6. Write a review for us. There is no limit to the number of reviews you write for us. Please use our format. (Below) Email us your reviews at fabulousreads@yahoo.com Also if you would like us to link to your blog, please give us your blog address.

Title:
Author:
Reviewer:
Genre:
Rating:
Alerts/Warnings:
Premise:
Opinions:


What prizes might be worth all of this effort? Well, how about an autographed copy of Being Sixteen by Allyson B. Condie and an autographed copy of The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum. To read our reviews of these two books please click here: Being Sixteen, The Hourglass Door.

The first place winner will get their choice between the two books and the second place winner will get the other book. Win a book for yourself or to give away for the holidays. Remember the contest will go from today, Dec 1, to 9 pm pst on Dec 15th. We look forward to hearing from you and to reading your responses.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt




Title: The Wednesday Wars
Author: Gary D. Schmidt
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "During the 1967 school year, on Wednesday afternoons when all his classmates go to either Catechism or Hebrew school, seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood stays in Mrs. Baker's classroom where they read the plays of William Shakespeare and Holling learns much of value about the world he lives in." (King County Library System)
Opinions: We just read this book this week for book club and I have to say that I LOVED IT!!!! I love the humor and the emotion that comes from Holling, a seventh grader on Long Island, as he learns to deal with the struggles of life, along with the impacts of the Vietnam War on those around him, through studying the works of Shakespeare. I love his English teacher Mrs. Baker - she is one of my favorite characters of all time. I love the relationship that she and Holling build over the school year and the strength they gain from each other. I just have to say that personally I did not like Holling's father at all, but I think that was intentionally written that way by the author. All of the characters feel so real, like you would have known them personally. The storyline is fascinating and it was really hard to put the book down when I got into it. I especially love Holling's comments on Shakespeare and the characters within his plays. In my opinion, this book is a definite MUST READ.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pirate King by Laurie R. King


To read my review of the first book in the Mary Russell series please click here: The Beekeeper's Apprentice.

Title: Pirate King (Book 11 Mary Russell series)
Author: Laurie R. King
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Mystery
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: Sent to Lisbon and Morocco, where a British studio is creating a silent film version of "The Pirates of Penzance," Mary Russell investigates a series of crimes targeting the production and confronts a high-stakes situation when actual pirates orchestrate a hostage situation. "As Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes embark on their 11th adventure together, they find themselves immersed in the world of silent filmmaking. Here, the pirates are real-- and unlike the shooting done with a camera, this sort can be deadly" -- from publisher's web site.
Opinions: I LOVE/ADORE the Mary Russell series by Laurie King. So I was ecstatic to find that a new book was released last month. As soon as I could I went ahead and purchased it, eager to delve into its pages as soon as possible. At first I was confused by the concept of this story, but the longer I remained reading the more I fell into the fun of it. This was not quite typical to the rest of the series (even Mary Russell admits to this in the beginning of the book). But I love seeing Mary challenged in new areas and stretched in new ways as she works within a moving picture company to investigate some suspicious actions and the disappearance of the company's original assistant. I also love the intrigue of a story set in Portugal and Morocco and the idea of crossing paths with pirates. So as an ardent lover of this series I highly recommend that if you love Sherlock Holmes and mystery books than please rush to your nearest library or book store and begin the fun journey as your follow Mary Russell from one mystery to another.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Scumble by Ingrid Law

To read my review of Savvy please click here: Savvy.
To read Stephanie's review of Scumble please click here: Scumble.


Title: Scumble (Companion to Savvy)
Author: Ingrid Law
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Junior/MidGrade Fiction
Rating: Adore
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Mibs's cousin Ledge is disappointed to discover that his "savvy"--the magical power unique to each member of their family--is to make things fall apart, which endangers his uncle Autry's ranch and reveals the family secret to future reporter Sarah." (King County Library System)
Opinions: I LOVE this book. I loved the first one, Savvy, and the joy continues on in this companion book. I guess it is considered a "companion" book rather than a sequel as it deals with a cousin of Mibs from the first book and the struggle he undergoes trying to learn how to control his savvy. This book also takes place a good 9+ years after the first one does. I loved that we still get to see some of the same characters from the first one as side characters in Scumble.

I really loved Ledger and what he learns about himself and how he grows along the way. I found Sarah Jane (SJ) to be a quirky character that added some intrigue. As much as I loved Ledger, I think my overall favorite character has to be Rocket (Mib's brother) and how he grows by watching the struggles that Ledger undergoes. Overall, I found Scumble a highly satisfying and fun read. You should really check it out (but first read Savvy so that things make sense).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley




Title: Frankenstein
Author: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Horror
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: Murder
Premise: "Tells the story of a scientist who discovers the secret of generating life from lifeless matter, and puts this knowledge to use by creating a monster being." (King County Library System)
Opinions: We read this book for the book club I'm in this month to celebrate Halloween. Let me tell you, the story of Frankenstein is not like what most people think it is. It is much more interesting. If you want to read a clean horror book, then this is the book for you. Bad stuff definitely happens in this book (and most often by choice), but the descriptions are clean and not overly gruesome. The narrative voice doesn't vary much between Walton, Frankenstein, nor the creature, but the imagery is incredible and the story alluring. The creature is articulate, Frankenstein is intriguing, and even Walton (the person Frankenstein is telling his story to) has a major purpose in the story.

This turned out to be a fantastic book for our book club, creating lots of discussion about character, choices, and ethics. Be aware that our book club did notice that there are some minor differences between releases of this book (for example, depending on what release you read the character Elizabeth has a slightly different relationship to Frankenstein). Keep in mind, though, that if you have an active imagination like I do that this book may still be too scary for your taste (I made sure to lock all my doors and check under the bed when I was done reading).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Illusions by Aprilynne Pike

Sorry for the delay in posting this review, but I just had a baby at the start of this month and it has slowed down my ability to read and post reviews momentarily. I hope to be back in full swing shortly.

For our reviews of the first two books in this series please click here: Wings, Spells.



Title: Illusions (Wings #3)
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fantasy/Chick Lit
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: Mild Swearing
Premise: "As her senior year of high school starts, Laurel is just beginning to adjust to Tamani's absence when he suddenly reappears, telling her he must guard her against the returning threat of the trolls that pose a danger both to her and to Avalon." (King County Library System)
Opinions: I enjoyed this book much more than Spells. I was glad to see Klea was back and that she brought someone else intriguing along with her for us to get to know. I loved the idea of seeing how Tamani interacts with humans now that he tries to integrate into high school. The complications between Laurel, David and Tamani continue to build in some intricate ways that sometimes left me feeling overwhelmed and wanting to ring Laurel's neck (but that's just me). I was frustrated learning that this wasn't the end of the series and honestly said "Huh...okay" when I was done reading it. I felt this book was more about the interweaving of relationships with little glimpses of the overall story arch to heighten the intrigue. I'm REALLY curious to see where Aprilynne Pike goes with the story in book four. The good news is that Aprilynne posted on her blog last week that a name has been determined for that fourth and final novel....DESTINED....and is expected to be released late April of 2012. I look forward to seeing what (or who) Laurel is destined for.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall by Jennifer Hurst

Go here for information about Jennifer Hurst's giveaway for Fall.




Title: Fall
Author: Jennifer Hurst
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Rating: Adore
Alerts/Warnings: One swearword, one incident of implied sex
Premise: "Women and construction shouldn't mix. At least, that is what the client, Mr. Blackwell, thinks when Twenty-one year old Julia D. Halstead is promoted to project manager to remodel a turn-of-the-century schoolhouse into a bed and breakfast. However, the schoolhouse contains a dark secret that has been hidden for nearly a hundred years. A secret that will unleash the furies of Hell and cause the Angels in Heaven to weep as ethereal brothers, Matthew and Nathan, battle over Julia's very soul." (Book Jacket blurb)
Opinions: So I wanted to have a fresh opinion of this book. I didn't read Karen's review, nor did I read anything about the book. I just dove in. And here's what I thought.

It took me probably 25 pages to get into the story. But once I did, I really did. I liked the pacing and I liked the characters, especially Nathan and Meagan. I have to admit that I was a bit confused at times in the first 75 pages but nothing too major. I assumed I would get it later, and I did. (Which was nice, I hate being left hanging.)

And in all honesty, this is probably not the type of book I would pick up to read. HOWEVER! I'm glad I did. I really enjoyed it. It was fun and entertaining. Quirky (and I like quirky).

My one fault is that I don't know if there is going to be a sequel. (I'll find out I'm sure.) The ending was done in such a way that it wasn't clear to me.

I love that JD is a strong and fiercely independant woman. I love that issue of choice and consequence throughout the novel. I love the way Jennifer Hurst builds her characters and tension. She is a very talented writer and I look forward to more books from her.

Overall, an enjoyable read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. :)

Warning: For those who may be uncomfortable with sex in books there is one instance of sex. It is not described, but you know it happens and that the person is faced with consequences for those actions throughout the rest of the story. I loved that there was a balance between the choice and consequences for all of the characters' actions throughout the story.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

To read the reviews of other books in this series please click here: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, The Weed the Strings the Hangman's Bag.



Title: A Red Herring Without Mustard (A Flavia de Luce Novel)
Author: Alan Bradley
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Mystery
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: Mild Swearing, Moderately graphic descriptions of murder scenes
Premise: "Flavia had asked the old Gypsy woman to tell her fortune, but never expected to stumble across the poor soul, bludgeoned in the wee hours in her own caravan. Was this an act of retribution by those convinced that the soothsayer had abducted a local child years ago? Certainly Flavia understands the bliss of settling scores; revenge is a delightful pastime when one has two odious older sisters. But how could this crime be connected to the missing baby? Had it something to do with the weird sect who met at the river to practice their secret rites? While still pondering the possibilities, Flavia stumbles upon another corpse, that of a notorious layabout who had been caught prowling about the de Luce's drawing room. Her investigations will reveal more of Buckshaw's secrets as well as new information about Harriet, the mother Flavia never knew." (King County Library System)
Opinions: This is the third book in the murder mystery series that stars eleven year old Flavia De Luce. Like its predecessors it is ripe with intrigue, twists, and clever solutions revolving around chemistry. It is brilliantly written, but some of the descriptions of the scenes when the dead are found bothered me a bit (granted I am nine months pregnant and that maybe part of the reason). This particular novel not only revolved around solving the reasons behind vicious attacks and murders, I was really intrigued with the struggles that Flavia deals that force her to face the struggles of adulthood at her tender-but-brilliant age and to see her father from a different view point. If you enjoy a good murder mystery I think you will love the continuation of this series.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan




Title: The Red Pyramid (Book 1 in the Kane Chronicles series)
Author: Rick Riordan
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mid-Grade Fantasy
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "After their father's research experiment at the British Museum unleashes the Egyptian god Set, Carter and Sadie Kane embark on a dangerous journey across the globe--a quest which brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs." (King County Library System)
Opinions: Rick Riordan has expanded on his revisiting of different pantheons through modern twists and plots. This time, instead of using the Greek Gods as he did in the Percy Jackson series, he is focusing on the world of Egypt and its plethora of deities (though he frequently makes not-so-veiled comments about the Gods from his other series throughout the book).

This book was intriguing on many levels. I love the fact that Rick Riordan adds additional complexity of characters by dealing with a multi-racial family and the difficulties that entails (especially when it comes to others' prejudices). I also enjoyed seeing Sadie and Carter's relationships growing through the story as they had only seen each other twice a year since their mother's death 6 years earlier. I enjoyed being able to learn more about the various Pharaohs, gods, and Egyptian history. The narrative perspective took a little getting used to as the story is being "told" via a tape recording by Sadie and Carter (the main characters) and has been transcribed into book format for our reading pleasure. So you will find that even though each chapter is told from a specific character's point of view, the other sibling often butts in with their own comments (which siblings tend to do).

I think my favorite character of all was the cat-goddess Bast. She is spunky, tenacious, mischievous and draws the reader in. Bast would then quickly be followed by Khufu, the basketball-playing-eat-anything-ending-in-O loving baboon. He was hilarious, brilliant, lovable, and fascinating.

At times it was difficult to try and keep track of all the various gods, versions of gods, hosts, demons, magicians, hieroglyphics, familial relationship, etc., but the story was compelling and inventive. Also, for a first book in a series it was rather lengthy, but I think the detail required to cover all that was covered required it (if that made any sense at all). I look forward to reading more of this series and hope you do as well.

FALL contest sponsored by author Jennifer Hurst

Earlier this week I posted a review for Fall by Jennifer Hurst. To see my feedback click here: FALL. In association with the release of her book Jennifer is hosting a contest. Here are the specific details:

In conjunction with this blog tour, Jennifer is holding a contest. It will involve any of the blogs that Jennifer visits or where her book is featured and will close on December 31st, 2011. The entrants have to answer three questions about the book they’ve read (bought, borrowed, or stolen - shame on you) and post a link to Jennifer's website on their Twitter, Facebook, or blog (need link for verification).

Then the names will be entered in a random name picker generator (http://textmechanic.com/Random-Line-Picker.html) and announced on Jennifer's website (www.jenniferhurst.com) on January 31st, 2012. The winner will receive a gift certificate for a night’s stay at the actual bed and breakfast where the story takes place.

Other prizes include an autographed copy of FALL, and she will randomly select 3 contestants’ names to use in the sequel to FALL. Plus, they will receive a free copy of that book when it is published.

Each blog that Jennifer Hurst visits will have a different set of questions people can answer, and they may enter as many times as they want - but they can enter once per blog site that they visit. So the more sites you visit, the more you can enter your name, thus increasing your chances of winning the gift certificate, a copy of the book FALL, and your name in the sequel.

Get the book, read the book, and then read over the questions below. Once you have your answers, e-mail them to Jennifer. fall.jenniferhurst@gmail.com

Your privacy is respected and your email address will NOT be used for anything but the contest. Once the contest is over - your email address will be deleted from the database.


Here are the questions for you to answer:

1) What kind of work did Nathan do for JD at the project site?

2) What did JD give Gramps for his birthday?

3) What was the name of the Doctor who treated JD?

If you would like to visit the other sites, go here for the master list of all participating sites: http://fallbyjenniferhurst.wordpress.com/


Best of luck, and thanks for participating

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Forgotten Locket by Lisa Mangum

For my reviews of the first two books in this trilogy please click here: The Hourglass Door and The Golden Spiral.




Title: The Forgotten Locket (Book 3 of The Hourglass Door Trilogy)
Author: Lisa Mangum
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Rating: FABULOUS!!!!
Alerts/Warnings: Some violence
Premise: "Abby travels back in time to attempt to save Dante and defeat the wicked designs of Zo." (PG Library System)
Opinions: Finally!!! The last book in the series has been published and my hero of a husband bought it for me for my birthday (then he even hunted down the author and had it autographed for me). I read the first two books in this trilogy last year only to learn that I had a year to wait until the last installment arrived. Well, time has passed and I earned the prize for patience and it was worth it.

Lisa Mangum did a superb job weaving the conclusion of this trilogy. Her words flowed like poetry across the page. My heart was constantly torn, wondering what was going to happen next and how Abby, Dante and their friends would overcome the evil plot of Zo. I could not predict how the story would twist, yet the flow of imagery and plot wove a beautiful tale of inner strength and courage. I love Abby more than ever. I love her tenacity, her passion and her ability to stand for what is right even as her world tears itself a part around her. In this last novel I came to respect even greater Orlando (aka Leo). He is a brilliant character with courage beyond boundary. I so wish I could give you details, but being a story dealing with time-travel I worry that anything I reveal now may ruin it for those who have yet to read the earlier two books. Please, please, please read this book.

By the by, my sweet husband even had the author autograph a copy of the first book in this series for a future giveaway on Fabulous Reads. So stay tuned, and do all you can to try and win it. It is a worthy prize for any and all of you.

Monday, August 15, 2011

FALL contest sponsored by Author Jennifer Hurst

As part of her online blog tour and in honor of the release of her book FALL in paperback, Jennifer Hurst is sponsoring a special contest. Here are the details that we can provide to you at this time:

The FALL contest will involve any of the blogs that Jennifer Hurst visits or her book is featured on and will close on December 31st, 2011. The entrants have to answer three questions about the book they’ve read (bought, borrowed, or stolen - shame on you) and post a link to Jennifer's website on their twitter, facebook, or blog (need link for verification).

Then the names will be entered in a random name picker generator (http://textmechanic.com/Random-Line-Picker.html) and announced on Jennifer's website (www.jenniferhurst.com) on January 31st, 2012. The winner will receive a gift certificate for a night stay at the actual bed and breakfast where the story takes place.

Other prizes include an autographed copy of FALL, and she will randomly select 3 contestants names to use in the sequel to FALL, PLUS they will receive a free copy of that book when it is published.

Each blog that Jennifer Hurst visits will have a different set of questions people can answer and they may enter as many times as they want - but they can enter once per blog site that they visit. So the more sites you visit, the more you can enter your name, thus increasing your chances of winning the Gift certificate, a copy of the book FALL, and your name in the sequel.

Additional information will be forthcoming, plus Jennifer will give us the three specific questions for the readers of our blog to answer as part of the entry process. Please stay tuned.

Fall by Jennifer Hurst

Stephanie and I have been asked to participate in an on-line blog tour to support the author in the release of this book. Usually, only Stephanie or I will write a review for a book, even if we both have read it. However, this time we have been asked to provide dueling or co-reviews. As such, I have read the book first and am posting my review of it now. Then, I am sending it to Stephanie who will read it and post her review in September. We hope that this will better help you decide whether or not this book piques your interest so that you choose to read it.

Also, please stay tuned for details regarding an author-sponsored contest in relation to FALL that will be posted later today.




Title: Fall
Author: Jennifer Hurst
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: One swearword, one incident of implied sex
Premise: "Women and construction shouldn't mix. At least, that is what the client, Mr. Blackwell, thinks when Twenty-one year old Julia D. Halstead is promoted to project manager to remodel a turn-of-the-century schoolhouse into a bed and breakfast. However, the schoolhouse contains a dark secret that has been hidden for nearly a hundred years. A secret that will unleash the furies of Hell and cause the Angels in Heaven to weep as ethereal brothers, Matthew and Nathan, battle over Julia's very soul." (Book Jacket blurb)
Opinions: I had the pleasure of reading this book almost a year ago, as it was still a work in progress, and to provide my feedback on it for the author. I had a hard time putting it down then, and I must say that I love what Jennifer has done with the finish product. Paranormal romances are usually not my first choice of books to pick up and read, but I was instantly intrigued with Fall's premise. I was fascinated by the idea of JD (Julia), a strong woman trying to make headway in a male dominated field and wondering if she'll ever fall in love, then melding the story with the idea of Angels and Demons playing a major part in what happens in her life. I loved getting to know JD and experiencing with her each twist of the story. And I love that she is personal enough and quirky enough to wear pink leopard spotted construction books to work, and relishes a good chocolate chip milkshake with brownie broken up through out it. I was fascinated by Nathan and Matthew and the choices that they made, but honestly I think my favorite other characters are Liu (the oriental general store clerk) and Meagan (the mother of four precocious and unique boys). I also was entranced by the locale of the story, Torrey, Utah. I loved that it is a little known place and that the construction project that JD worked on is based on a true school building that has been made into a bed-and-breakfast. Plus, the descriptions of the area surrounding Torrey made me want to pack a bag for the weekend and go check it out.

Warning: For those who may be uncomfortable with sex in books there is one instance of sex. It is not described, but you know it happens and that the person is faced with consequences for those actions throughout the rest of the story. I loved that there was a balance between the choice and consequences for all of the characters' actions throughout the story.

Overall, I found this book unique, intriguing, and a fascinating twist on an adult romance that made it hard to put down. Please take a moment to read it yourself and let me know what you think.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Witches of Dredmoore Hollow by Riford McKenzie




Title: The Witches of Dredmoore Hollow
Author: Riford McKenzie
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Junior Fantasy
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Strange things begin happening at Elijah's New England home just before his twelfth birthday in 1927, especially after two aunts he had never met whisk him away to Moaning Marsh, where he realizes that they are witches who need something from him in order to remove a curse." (King County Library System)
Opinions: This was a very different read and I liked it. Elijah is unusual in that he openly admits that he is afraid of, and worries about, everything. So when some worries come to reality Elijah is forced to find strength within himself to overcome his fears. I loved that he is forced to fight against very unusual odds in this unique world that the author has created and the struggle to find balance within one's own family. I'm afraid to tell you much more about the story for fear of giving too many things away.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Black Star, Bright Dawn by Scott O'Dell




Title: Black Star, Bright Dawn
Author: Scott O'Dell
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Bright Dawn must face the challenge of the Iditarod dog sled race alone when her father is injured." (King County Library System)
Opinions: This is a wonderful story of an Eskimo young woman named Bright Dawn who struggles between the white world and the Eskimo world. Her father is given the opportunity to train for the Iditarod, but when he is injured Bright Dawn finds herself taking his place. This is an easy read that was intriguing and wonderfully written. I loved Bright Dawn's strength, courage, kind heart, and her willingness to trust in her lead dog, Black Star. I loved following along with her on her life-altering journey. I highly recommend this read for everyone, but especially for young women so that they may know that they can accomplish anything that they put their minds and hearts to.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Wright 3 by Blue Balliet


For my review of the first book in this series please click here: Chasing Vermeer.



Title: The Wright 3 (Sequel to Chasing Vermeer)
Author: Blue Balliet
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mid-Grade Fiction/Mystery
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "In the midst of a series of unexplained accidents and mysterious coincidences, sixth-graders Calder, Petra, and Tommy lead their classmates in an attempt to keep Frank Lloyd Wright's famous Robie House from being demolished." (King County Library System)
Opinions: The Wright 3 is a brilliantly written sequel to Chasing Vermeer. I love the difficulties and opportunities provided to Petra and Calder as Calder's friend Tommy returns to Hyde Park. The trio have to decide whether or not to work together as a group rather than the old friendship of Tommy and Calder fighting against the new friendship of Calder and Petra. I still love the eclectic characters and backgrounds. I love that this story revolves around the history of Frank Lloyd Wright and his work and making a mystery out of one of his creations. I even still love and admire Ms. Hussey's unusual technique of teaching school and getting the kids excited in what they are learning about. Overall, I highly recommend this book. If you loved Chasing Vermeer you will love The Wright 3.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Celia and the Fairies by Karen McQuestion

Title: Celia and the Fairies
Author: Karen McQuestion
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: When Celia Lovejoy's parents announce that her grandmother is coming to live with them, Celia is delighted. Now while her parents work at their toy company, she can spend time with Grammy instead of going to bossy Paul's house. When her grandmother tells stories about the fairies living in the woods behind Celia's house, her parents are quick to dismiss it. "Just a lot of nonsense," says her father with a wave of his hand. Her mother reminds her that a ten-year-old girl is too old to believe in magic. But if there are no fairies, how to explain the glimmers of light she sees from her balcony at night? And why does she dream of a fairy girl begging for help? All of the answers are in the woods, if only Celia is brave enough to find out.

Opinions: This is such a cute book. I love the sweetness of the story. Celia is a great character. I love that she feels real. She reads like an girl and not like an adult trying to sound like a girl. (Which is nice and a job well done for Karen McQuestion.) She is spunky and I liked her character.

It isn't a long book. I read it in less than 2 hours. But I enjoyed it. I liked that at the end I didn't have loose questions that hadn't been answered and I wasn't frustrated by the ending. I finished and was satisfied. (I love when I feel satisfied when I finish a book as opposed to frustrated and want to pull my hair out.)

I think my favorite aspect of the book was the relationship between Paul and Celia. It felt very real to me. I could see the tension of wanting to grow up and change and wanting to stay young. I felt the relationship was unique and appealing to me. (I think it reminded me of a friend from my childhood.)

Overall, it was a sweet and fun book. I loved that it felt like a book from my past and that it could have happened. It was beautifully written and had a magical feel to it that was grounded in childhood magic. I highly recommend this book and hope you take the opportunity to read it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet





Title: Chasing Vermeer
Author: Blue Balliet
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mid-Grade Fiction/Mystery
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "When strange and seemingly unrelated events start to happen and a precious Vermeer painting disappears, eleven-year-olds Petra and Calder combine their talents to solve an international art scandal."
Opinions: Stephanie recommended years ago that I read this book and I finally did, and once again I do not regret reading anything that Stephanie recommends. This is a fantastic mystery written for pre-teens that even I enjoyed. It was imaginative, intriguing, and was hard to put down from start to finish. I love the eclectic backgrounds that the author uses for each of the characters. I love the code Calder creates using pentominoes and the twists and turns of the plot. I also wish I had had a teacher like Ms. Hussey. This is a fun mystery that I highly recommend that you check out. I think you will thoroughly enjoy it (in fact I insisted that my husband read it before we have to return it to the library).

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf by Jennifer L. Holm






Title: Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf
Author: Jennifer L. Holm
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Junior/Mid-Grade Fiction
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "The first year of middle school can be exciting, or scary, just ask Ginny." (King County Library System)
Opinions: This is not your typical book. Instead of being written in paragraph form this book tells the story of Genevieve (Ginny) Davis and her year in 7th grade through post-it notes, lists, bank statements, etc. It was like learning about someone's life by reading through their bulletin board at home, or going through the contents of their desk. It was a highly unique method of telling the story. Through these glimpses of her life we learn about the struggles of losing a best friend, dealing with a parent getting remarried, and the struggles of having a delinquent teenager for a brother. Once you get over the different way the story is told, Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf becomes quite a fascinating tale of how to survive life in Middle School. Please give it a read and let me know what you think.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Winners!

We have our winners! Aren't you so excited?!?!


So the winner of the book is.......CHERYL!

*****tosses confetti*****

We will send you a list of books to choose from.

The winner of the $5 amazon.com gift card is..........ALISON!

******tosses confetti and blows horn*******

Congrats to our winners and thank you for the reviews we did got. We are excited to share them with you.

Have a wonderful day friends and happy reading!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Last day to enter!

Our giveaway ends tonight! So today is the last day to enter and send us those reviews. The contest ends tonight at 9pm EST. Winner will be announced either tonight or tommorrow (depends on how late my meeting goes tonight).

Go here or all the ways you can enter, and email your reviews to fabulousreads@yahoo.com.

Make sure you leave a way for us to contact you if you win.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gilbert the Great by Jane Clarke & Charles Fuge

Title: Gilbert the Great
Author: Jane Clarke & Charles Fuge
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Gilbert, a great white shark, plays with Raymond, a tiny fish, every day. But who will Gilbert play with when Raymond's family moves away?" (King County Library System)
Opinions: This is a sweet little book about how its hard to watch a friend move away and how to make new friends. It was a fun book with a good lesson, but not one that my daughter seemed over intrigued by. She looked at it only one other time after reading it and then ran off (granted one of her favorite shows came on the television and may have contributed to the distraction).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ghost Ship by Mary Higgins Clark




Title: Ghost Ship: A Cape Code Story
Author: Mary Higgins Clark (Illustrated by Wendell Minor)
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "While visiting his grandmother on Cape Cod, nine-year-old Thomas encounters a ship's cabin boy from centuries past." (King County Library System)
Opinions: I am a huge fan of Mary Higgins Clark's adult mystery novels, so I was intrigued when I learned that she had also written a children's picture book. I was especially excited as I have been to (and dearly love) Cape Cod and its history. As a result, I really LOVE this book, but I feel it is more for older children than toddlers. I read it to my three year old and both of us were fascinated by the incredible artistry of the pictures on every page, but each page also has several paragraphs of writing making it difficult for younger readers. However, it seemed that the pictures kept my daughter's attention enough that I was surprisingly able to read the entire story to her. I loved the actual story itself as well and could see how it would capture a young child's imagination. If you have a patient reader or one with a love of stories of sailors, shipwrecks, ghosts, etc., then I think you and your young reader will really enjoy this book.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Contest is ending soon!

June is quickly coming to an end. Which means our contest is coming to an end. There is still time to enter and send us those reviews. We still haven't gotten 10, so it is still a $5 gift card, but it doesn't take much to push it up to the next level. :) Also we are giving away a book. If you win you get to pick. We have some awesome choices. Almost all signed as well. So enter. It doesn't take long and you have good odds.

For all the ways to win entries go here.

Stephanie

PS Sorry for the lack of posts recently. My family has all been sick for the past 3 weeks. And really I haven't done much of anything.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems





Title: Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion
Author: Mo Willems
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "While traveling with her family to Holland to visit her grandparents, Trixie once again loses her beloved Knuffle Bunny." (King County Library System)
Opinions: While Stephanie has read several of the Knuffle Bunny books before, Knuffle Bunny Free was my first experience with them. Released just this last year, this book is a great way to help kids learn that at some point they get bigger, and older, and can truly survive short periods of time with that special toy, blanket, etc. that they take wherever they go. If you have a child who is having a hard time letting go of that special something, this might be a great way to introduce them to the idea that they will survive and that they can keep that special item in their hearts and memories forever. The style of the book was very different from what I'm used to in my limited experience with picture books, but my three year old loved it (maybe because she has a very special bunny all her very own that goes almost everywhere with her).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Family Plays Music by Judy Cox





Title: My Family Plays Music
Author: Judy Cox (Author)/ Elbrite Brown (Illus.)
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: " A musical family with talents for playing a variety of instruments enjoys getting together to celebrate." (King County Library System)
Opinions: My husband is a percussionist for the community band in our area and he loves to teach my daughter all about the instruments. I picked up My Family Plays Music at our library just randomly and it turned out to be all about a girl who plays different instruments to support each member of her family who plays different styles of music. This girl is a percussionist. My husband was so excited to have a book that teaches children about all the roles a percussionist plays. The beauty of this book is that my daughter literally wouldn't put it down. She read and reread it every day until we took it back. In fact, she took it to bed with her and would read it over and over again until she fell asleep, pointing out each type of instrument and saying what it was. I've never seen her so addicted to a book as this one. As such, I recommend this as an amazing, fabulous book and a great way to teach children about different styles of music and different instruments. Plus the style of illustration is so different and beautiful and it won the Corretta Scott King/John Steptoe award for new talent.

Jazzmatazz! by Stephanie Calmenson and Bruce Degen(Ills)

Don't forget to enter our contest. Go here for all the ways to enter.

Title: Jazzmatazz!
Author: Stephanie Calmenson and Bruce Degen (Illustrator)
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Picture Book
Rating: Worship
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: When a piano-playing mouse slips inside a house to get warm, watch out! In no time he has a whole family, then a whole town, making music. They're drumming, fiddling, singing, dancing, and jazzmatazz jamming!

Stephanie Calmenson's sing-aloud words and Bruce Degen's eye-dancing pictures bring music to every page.

What kind of music will you make? (goodreads.com)

Opinions: This was one of those randomly selected books from the library that I just threw in my bag cause the title appealed to me and the pictures looked cute. Little did I know how much we would read and love this book.

This bookstarts with a piano playing mouse and builds through the house until everyone inside and out of the house is singing along and making music too. Each animal or person has a visual shape and color and when all the music comes together so do all the colors and shapes. I love that as the words (which we chant/sing in a jazzy rhythm) build into a fun sound that is also so very visual. And usually we are all bouncing (alright dancing) by the end of the book. The illustrations are beautiful and the words are fun and it has a great rhythm.

We love this book. It is one of our all time favorites that we read over and over and over again. And the kids like it too. :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pajamas Anytime by Marsha Hayles and Hiroe Nakata (Ills)

Don't forget to enter our contest. Go here for all the ways to enter.

Title: Pajamas Anytime
Author: Marsha Hayles, Hiroe Nakata (Illustrator)
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Picture Book
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: You can't help but have comfy fun in pajamas all year round. And not just when you're sleeping! If January's snow closes school for the day or a February cold keeps you sofa'd from play, it's time for pajamas. When your September school party has you all dressed for bed and in pumpkin October when ghost stories are read, only pajamas will do. This lilting book is perfect for snuggling at bedtime or any other time. (goodreads.com)

Opinions: We read this regularly at bedtime. Any guesses as to why?

This book has several appeals for me. I like that it goes through a year and talks about all the different months. Not only that, but if you are paying attention gives a brief blip about what generally happens during that month.

The lilting poetry is fun. We have a rhythm that we read it at, and whenever anyone reads it to my kids NOT in that rhythm they tell them they are reading it wrong. (But with kindness and love I'm sure.)

The illustrations are gorgeous watercolors. I am amazed what people can do with watercolors. They are just beautiful.

Overall, a fun and delightful story that will give you plenty to look at visually, and fun words to go to sleep by.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Flotsam by David Wiesner

Don't forget to enter our contest. Go here for all the ways to enter.
Title: Flotsam
Author: David Wiesner
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Picture Book
Rating: Worship
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam--anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there's no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share . . . and to keep. (goodreads.com)

Opinions: This is a visually stunning book that has no words. I love that it tells the story without words. AND it does it so well, that you know exactly what the story is.

A young boy is on the beach and finds an underwater camera. He takes it and gets the film developed. The pictures he sees both on the land and on the see shock and amaze him as he discovers things about under the ocean and the history of the camera.

Seriously, just thinking about this book is giving me goosebumps. It's that amazing! This is one of those books that I will look at for hours and find new things in the illustrations. This book won the Caldecott Medal the year it was published, and it was my pick to win. Frankly, how could it not have. IT IS AMAZING! It is worth the time to look at, even briefly, and even if you don't have kids. (I was pregnant the first time I looked at this book. So amazing.)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton

Don't forget to enter our contest. Go here for all the ways to enter.
Title: Hippos Go Berserk
Author: Sandra Boynton
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Picture Book
Rating: Worship
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: How dull, to be one hippo all alone... until the one calls two other hippos on the phone. Soon three more hippos are at the door, bringing along another four. Before the night is through, a houseful of hippos (and one beast) has joined the one hippo for a boisterous bash. (goodreads.com)

Opinions: Before I had kids, I didn't know who Sandra Boynton was. *hangs my head in shame* Boy was I missing out!

Sandra Boynton mixes fun illustrations with a creative mind that makes for fun stories. Like this counting book. You count up to 9 and back down again as the hippos arrive for a party and then leave. It's cute and fun. My kids love it. So do I. I admit to sitting around just staring at the illustrations. Sandra Boynton sneaks in all sorts of little quirky things (like a version of Whistlers Mother). The rhythmic language of the book is fun and definately adds to the appeal of the book.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Don't forget to enter our contest. Go here for all the ways to enter.
Title: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Author: Judith Viorst, Ray Cruz (Ills)
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Picture Book
Rating: Worship
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: Alexander knew it was going to be a terrible day when he woke up with gum in this hair.

And it got worse...

His best friend deserted him. There was no dessert in his lunch bag. And, on top of all that, there were lima beans for dinner and kissing on TV! (goodreads.com)

Opinions: You have probably read this book. But I couldn't not review it for picture book month! It is one of my favorites. I have my copy from when I was a little girl that my kids read. It is thoroughly tattered, bent and torn, but we tape it back together and keep on reading it. Part of me loves that it is so damaged. It's just like the story of Alexander. Sometimes life doesn't go the way you want it to. Sometimes you wake with gum in your hair and you forget to count 16. But you make it through.

Life isn't about the easy stuff. It's the sticky stuff that makes life interesting. This book ran through my mind constantly while I was in China. Sometimes things are tough. Sometimes it seems like nothing goes right. But running away doesn't solve the problem. And when you stand strong, you will be stronger for it.

This is a great book, no matter what your age or where you live. It will hit a chord with you. Even in Australia.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko(Illustrator)

Don't forget to enter our contest. Go here for all the ways to enter.

Title: The Paper Bag Princess
Author: Robert Munsch, Michael Martchenko (Illustrator)
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Picture Book
Rating: WORSHIP
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: Elizabeth, a beautiful princess, lives in a castle and wears fancy clothes. Just when she is about to marry Prince Ronald, a dragon smashes her castle, burns her clothes with his fiery breath, and prince-naps her dear Ronald. Undaunted and presumably unclad, she dons a large paper bag and sets off to find the dragon and her cherished prince. (goodreads.com)

Opinions: This is a favorite in my house. By both me and my boys. It's a little tattered, a little torn, a little mended, and much loved. It is regularly picked by both boys to read for bedtime. And I do not mind. I love this book.

Princesses get a lot of crud in this world. They are picked on and trapped and really can't think for themselves in a lot of stories.

BUT in this story Princess Elizabeth looses everything and then does something about it. She goes after Prince Ronald to try and save him from the dragon. How awesome is that! She decides that she wants something, and she goes that uses her brains to accomplish it! I love that this book shows a strong female with smarts using them to her advantage. Then in the end, she stands up for herself again. (Not going to tell you, but you will know when you get there, and we all say that line aloud. It's the second to the last line of the book.)

The illustrations are fun and truly this is a great book about strong, smart females and how to treat each other. I love love love that my boys love this book. It gives me great fodder for talking about how to treat women and how not to underestimate anyone.

I don't know if you can tell, but I have loved this book for years. It's worth reading. Go read it. Go on. It's worth it!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Queen of Style by Caralyn Buehber and Mark Buehber

Don't forget to enter our contest. Go here for all the ways to enter.


Title: The Queen of Style
Author: Caralyn Buehber and Mark Buehner
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Picture Book
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: Queen Sophie rules a small, happy kingdom of farmers, but she herself isn’t happy. Nobody ever comes to her with a problem, and she is bored to tears . . . until she spots an ad for the Royal College of Beauty correspondence course. Soon she is memorizing directions and practicing her lessons in a frenzy. She starts writing proclamations, demanding that her subjects come to the castle so that she can cut and curl and color their hair. Even the sheep must be coiffed. It’s not long before Sophie finds herself facing an angry—though very stylish!—mob. (goodreads.com)

Opinions: Queen Sophie is bored and so she finds her passion.....doing hair. So she practices on her subjects and their sheep. She is having a great time, until she realizes that her subjects are not. They don't like having to come and get their hair cut or dyed or whatever she needs to do. Sophie feels bad because she never realized that everyone wasn't having as much fun as she was.

Okay, so this book teaches a great lesson. What is fun for you is fun, but not everyone might think so. Forcing people to play how or what you want, isn't fun in the long run. Playing together is much better.

I love the illustrations. They are so fun. Especially the sheep. Don't forget to look for the sheep. I love that the people have these elaborate hairdos that just keep getting more interesting.

This is a fun book with a great message for kids. And yes, I read it to my boys. And yes, they liked it. And yes, my husband had issue with that. But that's okay with me. It's a GREAT story.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Three Hens and a Peacock by Lester L. Laminack and Henry Cole

Don't forget to enter our contest. Go here for all the ways to enter.

Title: Three Hens and a Peacock
Author: Lester L. Laminack and Henry Cole (Illustrator)
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Easy Reader/Picture Book
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Nothing unusual ever happened on the Tuckers farm. Until the day that peacock showed up... When a glamorous visitor lands unexpectedly in their midst and begins attracting customers, three hardworking hens protest: How come we do all the hard work and he gets all the attention? To keep the peace, the wise old hound dog suggests a swap. The hens and the peacock soon find out that others jobs aren t always as easy as they seem. What will happen when three gussied-up hens spend the day prancing and parading at passing cars? And will that peacock ever figure out how to lay an egg?" (Good Reads)
Opinions: This book is a fantastic way for kids to learn that you can't always understand someone until you have walked in their shoes (so to speak). I read it to my three year-old daughter and she promptly took it out of my hands and re-read it to herself (adjusting the story as she felt along the way) over-and-over again. The pictures are well done and definitely kept her fasincated time and time again.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

300th Blog Post mean fabulousness for YOU!

Have you enjoyed the last month of fabulous book reviews? Good! It was a lot of work. But we stayed on track pretty well and had blogger not gone out in the middle of the month, I think we would have 100% fabulous. (So I'll go with 99% fabulous.)


So to celebrate our 300th blog post we are doing two things.


1) June is going to be Children's Picture Book Month! :) Karen and I have kids and read lots of picture books. So we will be reviewing a bunch of them this month.


And number 2 is EVEN BETTER! (I know, it's tough to beat Picture Book Month. But we try.)


2) CONTEST!!!





And what are we giving away? Well, that depends on you!





Here's how it's going to work. There are lots of ways to gain entries and 2 (possibly more prizes).


To enter you can:

1. Leave a comment on this or any other post until the 30th answering the following question - What is that one book you read over and over and it still resonates with you? (1 entry)
2. Follow our blog (3 entries)
3. Post a link to our blog on your blog. Please leave a link to your blog (5 entries)
4. Blog about our blog or giveaway on your blog. Again please leave a link (5 entries)
5. Convince someone to follow us and enter this contest. If they do and put your name down you get 10 entries!
6. Write a review for us. There is no limit to the number of reviews you write for us. Please use our format. (Below) Email us your reviews at fabulousreads@yahoo.com Also if you would like us to link to your blog, please give us your blog address.

Title:
Author:
Reviewer:
Genre:
Rating:
Alerts/Warnings:
Premise:
Opinions:

BUT WAIT! There's MORE!

Karen and I love to get reviews from you, and obviously, you like to see lots of reviews too. (The number of hits in May was 10 times higher than any other month in the past 3 years.) And honestly, we can't keep it up. We read lots and we love to review. But our families would miss us. :) So we need your help. Incentive coming!

For every book you review you get an increased number of entries.
Book Review 1= 5 entries.
Book Review 2= 7 entries
Book Review 3= 9 entries
Book Review 4= 11 entries
and so on and so forth. Every additional book review you write increases your chances of winning.

So what fabulous prize are we giving away?

Well, that depends ON YOU!!

See here's the deal. The more reviews we get and the more followers we get, the more we will be giving away.

We are going to start with a $5 amazon.com gift card. BUT if we get 10 reviews, that gift card then becomes a $10 amazon.com gift card. And it keeps on going, but it gets more demanding everytime. We will increase the amount at 10, 30, 60, 100, 150, 200, 300. Each time by an increment of $5. I honestly don't think we will be getting to 300, but feel free to prove me wrong! I'll keep putting money on the gift card as long as you keep writing reviews.

We are also giving away a book. But it could be more than one book. AND if you win, you get to pick! (We'll send you a list to pick from.)

The other half of the giveaway is based on followers. We currently have 35 followers. If we get 10 more followers we will give away 2 books. Again it will go up at 10, 30, 60, 100 followers. Each time we reach a new level we will give another book away. (Each winner will get one book.)

So are you excited!! We are! I'm excited to see your reviews. I hope you send us so many we can continue posting multiple times a week.

(Please check to make sure we have not written a review for the book you are submitting. Any reviews that are for books that have already been reviewed will not count. And we want your reviews to count! So check using our search button on the right hand side of the page.)

And so it begins.

Good Luck!

Contest ends June 30th at 9pm PST. All reviews and entries must be received by that time. Winners will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond. If they do not respond an alternate winner will be chosen. If you are under the age or 18 you must have a parent or legal guardian give consent if you win.
We have also in the past have had people have problems with our comment section. If you have a problem, you can email us your entry at fabulousreads@yahoo.com

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Holes by Louis Sachar

Title: Holes
Author: Louis Sachar
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Mid-Grade Fiction
Rating: Adore
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "As further evidence of his family's bad fortune which they attribute to a curse on a distant relative, Stanley Yelnats is sent to a hellish correctional camp in the Texas desert where he finds his first real friend, a treasure, and a new sense of himself." (King County Library System)
Opinions: This book was a Newberry Award winner back in 1999. I read it upon recommendation of my friend and co-blogger Stephanie and LOVED it. This book is an easy read, but wonderfully done and parts of it are just brilliant. I love that the reason the Yelnats family (by the way Yelnats is Stanley spelt backward) is cursed is because of their "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great grandfather." The stories you learn about Kissing Kate Barlow, Sam the onion man, and Stanley's grandfather are fantastic. I think it is fantastic that, though Stanley is wrongly accused of a crime and sent to a boys correctional farm for it, he has the opportunity to set everything straight in the end, not only for himself but for his entire family. The cast of characters that you meat at the correctional camp are brilliant and inventive. The courage and inner strength that Stanley shows to help his friend Zero is heart-warming. Overall, this is a wonderful book and a quick read, so if you have the time please read this book.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Historical Ficiton
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: There is some cursing and issues of racism. Also there is one chapter dealing with a nude man that has some mildly crass language.
Premise: 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. (goodreads.com)

Opinions: I feel like there is a good probablity that most of you will have read this book already. But I very much enjoyed it. So for the couple(?) of you that haven't read this book. I'm here to tell you what all the hulabaloo is about. (I know you are so excited, aren't you?)

The Help follows 3 women, 1 Caucasian and 2 African American, in the South in 1962. None of them are happy with how they are treated. They all want to rise above what everyone wants of them and to be treated with respect.

So they write a book. A book telling the truth about how African American women are treated in the South. Especially in the homes that they work.

This is a powerful look at racism and love and true acceptance. I love the range of characters and the way the story shows you several walks of life and how people choose to handle the problems that come their way. It is moving and beautifully written. This is definately NOT a book for young adults. But it is well worth the read.