Monday, December 23, 2013

Deck the Stalls by Shannon Kennedy



A horse farm is a huge responsibility and  Sierra and her mother know that a lot of work has to be done daily.  Sierra’s teachers are not so understanding though and she gets benched and loses a solo in choir.

So Sierra throws herself into improving the ranch.  She cooks up the idea of “Deck the Stalls” contest and helps her mother form some new programs.   As Christmas approaches, things are looking up for their little family.

 I really liked Sierra.  She was devoted to her horses, her mom and her little sister.  She is part of the group of friends from No Horse Wanted so she has a lot of support from them.  She is frustrated and angry but she accepts anger management classes and tries to fix problems practically.  I loved that she and her little sister were so close and that she was worried and a little disgusted by her single mom’s love life.

I enjoyed reading until the end of the novella and then I was so disappointed.  What happens next?  Happily, there is a sequel to the story and it will be reviewed here in the future and I’ll be able to find out.

This book is wonderful for preteens and teens alike especially if they have an interest in horses. A great little holiday book.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

More Ho Ho Ho

Well, Christmas is fast approaching but I bet you need a few bedtime or naptime stories.  My kids loved reading at bedtime.  Even when Santa was on their minds.  That’s when I read That’s Not Santa about a million times.
Hope your kids love these stories so much that you will read them about a million times!


How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky

Did you ever wonder how Santa got his job?  I know I did.  It takes a lot of different experiences to make the jolly old soul. You’ll learn how he hooked up with those reindeer too. And even though he has the best job in the world, he carries an emergency kit. You’ll find out why in this book.  I would read this book to kids 4-7.


Reindeer Christmas by Mark Moulton

 This is a very sweet and charming story about two children and their Gram and how they take care of the woodland animals at Christmas.  One day they find a poor deer who is so weak they take him home.  Turns out, he is Donner who got lost in a blizzard and he returns home just in time for Christmas Eve.  I would read this book to kids 3-7.


Santa and the Three Bears by Maria Modugno

Santa fills in for Goldilocks in this familiar story of the bears who go for an innocent walk and find a stranger in their home when they return.  Santa has to hurry on his way but not before promising to bring Baby Bear a new chair next year.  I would read this book to kids 3-6.


Santa Duck by David Milgrim

It’s a case of mistaken identity when Duck dons a Santa suit and meets up with other animal friends.  They all tell him their Christmas wishes and he keeps trying to tell them HE’S NOT SANTA!  When Duck finally does find Santa he shares the lists with him and has a great Christmas. You’ll find out why at the end of the book. I would read this book to kids 3-6.

I won't be back until the new year.  Until then, happy holidays and keep on reading!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Winemaker by Charmaine Pauls



 Etán Perez-Cruz, world-renown winemaker, excels in everything he puts his mind to, but self-expression. When an intoxicating woman crashes head first into his life, he finds a way to communicate his feelings through his wine bouquets. As knowing Zenobia becomes a hedonistic pleasure, he fights to keep her safe, and to keep his all-consuming desire from destroying her happiness ... and his brother. Etán will need more than his exceptional talent of taste and smell to overcome the dangerous obstacles set in their path.
Zenobia’s fiancé dumps her and walks away to another woman just three weeks after she moves from England to Chile.  She is left with a house she can’t afford and no job.  To add insult to injury she is accused of owning a stolen car.

Luckily, she has kind neighbors who help her out after their son, Etan is witness to the final scene between the couple.

Zenobia thinks Etan is a judgmental chauvinist and he thinks she is enchanting but he  has a lousy way of showing it.

The family is winemakers and they own a huge vineyard and mansion to which they invite Zenna to visit so she can deal with all the things that are happening to her.

Zenna ends up working at the vineyard, falls deeper and deeper in love with the standoffish Etan who only seems able to work her into a sexual frenzy and then walk away leaving her unsatisfied.

How these two come finally come together involves special gifts of some of the characters, a kidnapping and an earthquake.

Zenna was a great heroine.  She was plagued by her non understanding of her special gift as well as a very real threat in the form of kidnappers.  She thinks she is devastated by her break up but she can’t deny the strong feelings of attraction that keep growing towards Etan.  She forges a brother/sister relationship with Etan’s brother, Luca and I found their banter to be fun and carefree.  It sometimes helped to lighten the mood which often got a little heavy because of Etan.

Etan was the “nose” and the winemaker of the vineyard and because he had been burned once, he turned off all his feelings to protect the women that he thought he would eventually fail.  He was torn between his attraction to Zenna and his desire to do right by everyone and everything.

I didn’t like the way he kept teasing Zenobia sexually.  I thought she had “ it” pretty bad if she could put up with the ups and downs of any sexual encounter they had.
The parents of the two men were good characters who helped support the story.
This is, of course, an adult novel.  It is not intended for young adults.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Guest Post Jennifer Flaherty, Librarian

Did you ever have trouble with your computer?  Well, I have and I'm so sorry, Jen.  Her words are so helpful I can't not post this.  Sorry the pictures are all screwed up.  I think you can figure it out though, I know I have smart readers!

Hi Everyone
I was so pleased when Sue asked me to recommend a few books for Christmas gifts! Listed below are some titles that would make great Christmas gifts for the 2013 year.  Not all are new titles, some are old favorites.  I hope this helps you with gift ideas or as new suggestions for your reading list.

I’m a Frog by Mo Willems
From the amazing Mo Willems comes the newest book from “Elephant and Piggie” series.  When Piggie starts “ribbiting” around, Elephant is very confused.  After some funny explanations, Piggie is able to teach Elephant all about pretending.  This series is adorable!
The Dark by Lemony Snicket (Ages 3-6)
 Lazlo, a young boy, accompanies “the dark” on a journey to help him overcome his fear of darkness.  With a beautiful story and illustrations, Lemony Snicket has done it again!

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (Ages 8-12)
While shopping at the Winn Dixie grocery store, India Opal meets a scraggly dog with a fabulous sense of humor.  Winn Dixie, her dog, helps her learn more about her estranged mother and make new friends including a librarian, an ex-con, and a blind woman ‘who sees with her heart’.  This works as a great read-aloud   with your child.

Holes by Louis Sachar (Ages 8-12)
Stanley Yelnats is cursed just like all of the Yelnats men that came before him.  Stanley’s bad luck leads him to doing some time at Camp Green Lake, where the boys dig holes to “build character”.  Stanley quickly learns that they are not just building character, but looking for something the Warden finds very important. 

Divergent by Veronica Roth (YA)
In a dystopian Chicago, there are five factions divided by virtue.  Upon her sixteenth birthday, Beatrice Prior has to decide which faction she wishes to live her life.  If she leaves her current faction, she will never be able to see her family again.  Will she stay with her family or be who she truly is meant to be?

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (YA)
Sixteen year-old Hazel has terminal cancer.  She is living out the final chapter of her life, when she meets Augustus Waters in her “Cancer Kids Support Group”.  As the two get to know each other and discuss their life and legacies, they fall in love.  This book is amazing and is cherished by teens AND adults!

  Jennifer Flaherty is a high school library media specialist and avid reader.  She loves to read anything YA and lots of pictures books with her two year-old son.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cash Giveaway

Here's a chance to win $50 in Paypal cash from Fae Books  There will be two $50 winners and 1 $10 dollar winner  Give it a try!

Monday, December 9, 2013

13: Book 1 of Tallent & Lowry Series

Here's a book that you may want to read.  It sounds fascinating.  I'll read it and review sometime in the next couple of months.
Title: 13


Series: Tallent & Lowery


Author: Amy Lignor


Publisher: Suspense Publishing


Formats Available In: Digital and Print


Publication Date: 11/30/2012


Blurb: In 1902, in a dark room on the fifth floor of Carnegie Hall, thirteen people came together to continue a tradition that had been set in stone thousands of years before.

In 2012, Leah Tallent is Head of Research at the New York Public Library. Stoic and stable, brilliant and cynical, she has forever enjoyed her existence among the book stacks. But even with her unparalleled intellect, there was no way to know that on the historic steps between America's famous lions, she would become involved with a crazy man on a fanatical quest.

Gareth Lowery has spent his life searching for the ultimate artifact that he is certain exists. His life's pursuit has been to retrieve twelve keys hidden by men whose job it was to protect the single biggest secret ever kept. To find the keys he must enlist the help of an unwilling guide who, unfortunately, knows much more than he bargained for.

From the first page to the last word, this fantastic duo become immersed in a whirlwind treasure hunt with historical and passionate repercussions. From the strange and eerie Winchester House to the blustery darkness of Loch Ness, Gareth and Leah will quickly learn that the theory of duality is correct: For every bad there is a good and, for Heaven, there most assuredly exists...Hell. 




Leah glanced at the staircase leading to the main floor of the library. She could see Gareth out of the corner of her eye. His head was bowed and his eyes were shut tight, as if he was contemplating the jail cell that awaited him.


Talk about complete confusion. Leah should run; she knew that. But the sixth sense she’d trusted all her life was telling her to stay. Reaching across the table she picked up the heavy book. Checking to make sure her “kidnapper” wasn’t making any new threats, Leah began thumbing through the pages; dark and light sat side by side, and she attempted to decipher clues from the past.


From Egyptian handwriting that reminded her of a book she’d once read about the lost Library of Alexandria, to a strange map with Latin text that looked like it came from the secret vaults of the Vatican Library, Leah found herself sucked into every amazing page. There were unbelievable signatures at the bottom of each sheet that she couldn’t wrap her mind around: Plato, Socrates and, oddly enough, one that she could’ve sworn read, Merlin. The librarian in her was exhilarated beyond belief.


Leah paused when the strangely familiar words met her gaze. On the ‘good’ side of the book, there was a hand drawing of Christ dying on the cross. But above it, instead of scripture, were the words to the song, Rock of Ages.


“Without the book,” she began. “Without these clues…how could you possibly have found the first six?”


“I thought I was going to jail,” came Gareth’s sarcastic reply.


Leah tried not to smile at the man who now sounded like a petulant teenager. Flipping through the ‘evil’ side of the book, she quickly passed over the strange scenes of slithering serpents, and victims with mouths open wide in silent screams. She’d rather not dwell on those; she feared knowing too much about the worst possible side of humanity.


But when she came across the familiar slanted handwriting, she stopped dead in her tracks. On the ‘dark’ page, opposite the sketch of what she’d assumed was ancient Alexandria, was a childlike drawing done in white chalk. The lines looked like rooftops; spires and steeples rose up into the blackness. Scrawled on each triangular eave was the number ‘13’ and, on the largest one, there as a chalk outline of a human being. A bullet-hole had been drawn dead center in the person’s chest.


Leah blocked out the sirens that erupted inside her brain, and read the words at the bottom of the page:


To me, a book is a message from the gods to mankind…A. Crowley


Closing the cover of the strange book that’d been buried for over a hundred years in the basement of her favorite place, Leah turned to the defeated man sitting quietly beside her. For the first time in her life Leah had no idea what she was doing. It was as if Crowley, himself, was daring her to solve his riddle; taunting her with the fact that she just wasn’t as smart as he had been.


She sighed heavily. Like her father, Leah had to go further than the rest. She had to excel. It wasn’t a choice—it was a necessity for her. Research, books, words…they were like a drug. She absolutely had to know.


If her father had been sitting beside her, Leah knew exactly what he’d say. He’d tell her that a gift had been dropped in her lap—a chance to literally step away from the books, go into the unknown, and solve a mystery that a true historical ‘devil’ had left behind.

Making a mental note to find a psychiatrist for herself as soon as possible, Leah reached over and touched Gareth’s arm, causing him to practically jump out of his skin. “You own a laptop?”


He grunted. “They have some at my hotel…why?” His eyes came alive with hope.

The computer clicked and beeped inside Leah’s brain, searching her own database for the answer to the first clue that she knew was designed to take her into the darkness.

Standing up, she stretched her back and grabbed her leather coat. Turning, Leah stared into the confused green eyes. “Let’s go.”




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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ho Ho Ho

I love the holidays.  I love Christmas books.  I have a few for you that I think you’ll enjoy but first here are some easy projects.  I was always a proponent of handprint/footprint projects when I was teaching so I’ll give you some ideas I came across recently.

You can make a tree from cut out handprints too.  Just trace them on construction paper and cut them out. Then curl the fingers up a little and glue them on in a triangle shape(make sure you start at the bottom and work your way up) and Voila!  You have a Christmas tree. 
After you’ve done your project, read one of these stories.

Spot’s First Christmas by Eric Hill

Spot is pretty irresistible since he is so cute and curious.  He’ll find all kinds of Christmas goodies in this lift- the- flaps book.  Spot and his mom have a good time getting ready for the holiday. I would read this book to kids 6months-5years.


That’s Not Santa by Leonard Kessler

 This was one of my own kids’ favorite books.  Santa can’t find his suit so he tries all kind of get-ups and models them for the reindeer.  They always say, “That’s not Santa.”  How does Santa get his suit back?  Read the story and find out.  If you have an early reader, they could read this book themselves but don’t miss it, it’s really cute.  I would read this book to kids 2-6.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

 The beautiful illustrations and the touching story of a boy who meets Santa Claus at the North Pole.  This is a book not to be missed. The train ride is one that every kid should get to experience.  I love the message about believing.  I would read this book to kids 4-8.


How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

 You know the story, now go read it!!  Really it is so much better than the silly movie.  I never met a kid who didn’t like it.  I would read this book to kids 4-8.


Have a merry time with these books and until next week, keep on reading.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Guest Blog by Ann Harrison

 I'm pleased to have Ann B. Harrison as my guest blogger today.  She is the author of From the Outback.  Enjoy!

What motivated me to create my first book you ask?
Firstly I have to point out that I was never going to be a writer - I was more than happy reading like the book nerd I am without adding to my workload. My plan worked well for many years until that morning when I woke up with a sentence rolling around and around in my head.
Gah! I thought I was losing my mind. It wouldn't go away and it seemed to grow with a life of its own. Soon I was researching and locking myself in the spare room with orders of 'do not interrupt me,' unless the house is burning down.
It was an interesting year when not one, but three books in a series were given life. Sadly I had a lot to learn as a writer and no, the big publishers didn't want to pay me mega bucks for the story. They loved my voice, they loved the plot but, it wasn't for them.
Dejected I decided young adult might not be my thing and gave romance a shot. Yes, that was more in my line. I might have been a little bit slow on the uptake but I found my niche. My first rural romance was contracted within twenty four hours of being submitted to a publisher. Now I have ten books published and there is no stopping the stories rolling around in my brain.
I recall telling a fellow writer, once the first book is underway, it's as though someone turned on a tap. The stories keep coming to me, sometimes faster than I can write them down. I spend my days attached to my laptop trying my best to keep up with the voices in my head.
Oh, and those young adult books, they found a home.

My latest release, From the Outback you can read here:

You can find me here:
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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

No Horse Wanted by Shannon Kennedy


The only thing that Robin Gibson wants for her sixteenth birthday is a 1968 Presidential Blue Mustang. Following their family tradition, what her parents promise her is a horse of her own, one with four legs, not four wheels. Mom competes in endurance riding, Dad does calf roping, her older brother games and her older sister loves three-day eventing, but Robin proudly says that she doesn't do horses. She'll teach her controlling family a lesson by bringing home the worst horse she can find, a starved, abused two-year-old named Twaziem.


Robin Gibson belongs to a family of horse lovers, but the only horse she’s interested in is a 1968 Mustang in Presidential blue.  She is hoping to buck the family tradition of getting a horse on your 16th birthday and getting the car instead.
Things don’t work out as Robin planned and her parents insist she get a horse so she picks out a pitifully undernourished and neglected horse that looks to be on his last legs.  She plans to rehabilitate Twaziem and sell him later for money towards her car.
Robin is a typical teen in most respects.  She is a little mouthy, a little homework shy, a little unsure about boys and a little diva-ish.  She is a good hearted soul though who loves to care for animals and find the strays homes.
I liked that Robin had chores to do at home and varied interests including cross country running.  She made friends with girls she didn’t think she’d like because of her caring heart.

Her brother, Jack, was a typical teasing older sibling and her parents were supportive without being overindulgent.  Her older sister made a brief appearance but she was mostly away at college.

Robin’s friend, Vicki, was a girl stuck in an all too familiar situation.  Her parents divorced, mom is overloaded with her job schedule and she expects Vicki to pick up the slack. I liked the way Robin stood up for her friend so she could continue her cheerleading.
Robin also ended up being friends with Olivia, another cross country teammate who started out as an adversary and with Danielle, a girl she got to know at the stables where they both trained.

Any girl who has a secret or not so secret desire to own a horse will enjoy this story.  It is a great combination of teenage life and practical information about owning a horse. I think even preteens as young as 12 would enjoy this story very much.

Even if you aren’t a horse fan, I recommend this book for the compelling story of this group of friends.
  Note:  There are some mild curse words in the story.
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