MrsK's K-8 Books Worth Reading

my best-reads-for-k-8 shelf:
MrsK Books's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (best-reads-for-k-8 shelf)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Salad Love by David Bez

Salad Love: Crunchy, Savory, and Filling Meals You Can Make Every Day
ISBN: 9780804186780
Publisher's Synopsis:
Discover 260 hearty, flavorful, and beautiful salads
 that can be prepared in a flash with little more than a knife and a cutting board.
Determined to eat more vegetables for lunch, David Bez embarked on a personal challenge to create one new salad every day using seasonal, healthy ingredients. In Salad Love, he shares his favorite recipes from his yearlong experience.
Crunchy, savory, and incredibly satisfying, these salads go beyond your typical combination of lettuce, protein, and toppings to create vibrant, plant-based meals that offer something for every palate. In summer, try Oak-Smoked Cheddar, Peaches, and Blueberries; for fall, savor hearty Roast Chicken, Quinoa, Red Pepper, and Peanuts; in winter, fuel up with Ham, Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, and Dried Cranberries; and in spring, enjoy Egg, Asparagus, Croutons, and Pecorino.
Complemented by 280 full-color photographs, Salad Love invites to you explore inspired salads any day of the year.

MrsK's Review:
Today... it's all about the salad. This is such a scrumptiously designed book. Every salad has its own "photographed' page which brings the salad up close to your senses and taste-buds. The book is organized by seasons, so creating a "harvested" meal is quick.

David explains that he is not a chef (I disagree), he simply wanted to eat "healthier." Once inspired, he began researching "nutrition, eating seasonally, various ingredients: grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables."  He wanted to finish his lunch "feeling energized and ready to work." So he transformed a desk drawer and began shopping for what was "fresh, tasty, and quick." Using various cold ingredients, fresh or previously cooked vegetables, and fresh dressings... he was able to create his "fresh" salads at his desk for over 1,000 lunches. David "sets" your salad with simple tips: assembling the salad; basic ingredients; "raw" veggie combinations; "enhancing" proteins; tantalizing toppings-herbs-spices-dressings; plus which preparation tools will be needed.

After a year of salad lunches, David noticed how co-workers began "embracing healthier" habits. They even started "Salad Clubs!" An added bonus... these salads will fit "everyone's" time constraints, tastes, moods, and budgets!

Salads that "caught" my eyes:
  • Chickpeas, Couscous, & Cherry Tomatoes: pg. 43 5 summer ingredients with a refreshing vinegar/olive oil dressing
  • New Potatoes, Green Beans & Black Olives: pg.49 add in the chicken strips and top it with a basil vinaigrette
  • Feta, Watermelon & Fennel: pg.52 with a topping of pomegranate seeds and cashews (excellent hot August dinner)
  • Oak-Smoked Cheddar, Peaches & Blueberries: pg.59 goodness gracious this is one designed for company!
  • Roasted Peppers, Chickpeas & Barley: pg.65 a light and hearty salad for those August/September meals
  • Tuna, Couscous, Green Beans & Cherry Tomatoes: pg.133 add olives, feta, and olive oil with a splash of lemon
  • Celery, Chickpeas, Pumpkin Seeds & Mint: pg.189 surprising taste combo, add some light yogurt to olive oil/vinegar
  • Cauliflower, Green Beans & Spinach: pg.236 add shaved almonds and pesto for a full-filling meal
  • Pasta, Green Beans, Kale & Cottage Cheese: pg.268 so many possibilities with this salad (change out topping "go-to)
  • Cauliflower, Hazelnuts & Dried Apricots: pg.283 simplistic yum!
Salads that tantalize... ingredients that create new combinations, simple dressings which enhances the flavors...
Your salads will never be the same!
Amazing... Satisfying... Goodness
Added to my shelf, my children's shelves, friends and Booked to Dine book club!
Do not forget this book... perfect year-round gift!

Meet the Author:
  DAVID BEZ is the author of Salad Pride, a blog that chronicles his personal challenge to make one new salad a day for an entire year. A home cook, David created the blog after his coworkers expressed interest in his daily lunches. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.
 "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."
BookLook Bloggers

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman

The Light Between Oceans
ISBN: 9781451681758
Publisher's Synopsis:
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

MrsK's Review:

What can be more comforting than a glimpse of a light house. Every lighthouse has an elegant beauty, a majestic beauty that beckons all to stop, look, and ponder its stature and strength. Its beacon of light guiding, searching, and guaranteeing that there is hope?

It is April 1926 and Isabel is at the cliff's edge tending the small cross and the newly planted rosemary bush. For just a brief moment she thinks she hears her child's cry.
 "Things turned up in their own time, in their own way.
The light station sat solidly in the middle of the island,
the keeper's cottage and outbuildings hunkered down beside the lighthouse,
cowed from decades of lashing winds."

Janus Rock the home of the light station built in 1889. It becomes the home for Tom an honored veteran from the Western Front. A man of honor, a keeper of the light and lives of those he loves. A man indebted to the voices and memories of the men who did not return from the front. A quiet and gentle man who is destined to keep the light for any and all who are traveling pass West Australia.

"Gradually, lives wove together once again into a practical sort of fabric
in which every thread crossed and recrossed the others
through school and work and marriage,
embroidering connections invisible to those not from the town."

On a sunny winter's afternoon, Tom sat on a bench near the jetty at Point Partageuse. A young woman was feeding bread to seagulls, and for Tom her animated joy and laughter would be the unexpected "gift" that will nurture love, a sense of home, hope, and sorrow.   

"She's still a beauty, still after all these years...
The white stone light tower rested against the slate sky like a stick of chalk.
It stood a hundred and thirty feet high,
near the cliff at the island's apex..."

Not only was that young woman a surprise when Tom had been at the jetty, she proves to be the "unexpected" letter that will warm is heart and the long winter season. As a light keeper, there isn't much to do other than maintaining the light. Many have been known to knit or carve scrimshaw... for Tom it will be the correspondence from Isabel that will fill his days with light. With a two week break from Janus, Tom and Isabel will spend endless days together discovering life. For Isabel, although younger than Tom, she will begin feeling the "urgency" call to not "put off" what matters.
"On the lights... you account for every single day. 
You write up the log, you report what's happened,
you produce evidence that life goes on."
And yet, on April's day of the miracle, decisions will be made. A baby has drifted to the Janus shore. The little one's father is dead in the boat, a mother's shawl lies in the hull. A baby! Any parent will know the feelings of looking into the eyes of a little one. A few will know of the tears within your soul due to the sorrow of a hope that has died. For Isabel the death of her second infant was that type of a turning point. With a mother's broken heart, she held this baby and knew that God had given her a miracle. For Tom, he knew that her request would bring the most "unbearable" decision he would ever make.
For little Lucy's christening, they gathered at the church. While they waited in the shade, a fresh granite stone ushered in the reality of truth. 
"In loving memory of Franz Johannes Roennfeldt, 
dearly beloved husband of Hannah,
and of their precious daughter Grace Ellen.
Watched over by God."
Guilt and love can be a dangerously lonely season. How can you make something right if it will cause "unbearable" pain for someone else? With the passing of two years, Lucy turns four and her life is filled with the joys of being the only child on Janus. Childhood memories that are so sweet. Until the moment that the boat arrives and takes them from the Light:

"The island swims away from them, fading into an ever more miniature version of itself,
until it is just a flash of memory,
held differently, imperfectly by each passenger."

Without hope... all will need a "guiding" light...
So beautifully crafted, it is a journey of a life-time,
Amazingly Beautiful!
Added to my shelf... shared with the Booked to Dine book club.
Reading Group Guide for The Light Between Oceans
Meet the Author:
M.L. Stedman  M.L. Stedman was born and raised in Western Australia and now lives in London. The Light Between Oceans is her first novel.
Interview by Tess Taylor
 This novel is set against the backdrop of the aftermath World War One, and understanding the losses that everyone touched by that war has suffered—which is to say everyone—is critical. The war touches each character differently, but they each reflect facets of the greater loss. When did you know that this story would be set at that time? Did the lighthouse and the war emerge together in your mind? How did you find yourself imagining them?

When the lighthouse first turned up, I knew that I was seeing something a long time ago, but I didn't know exactly when. Once I saw Tom, the lightkeeper, I knew that he had opted for life 'on the Lights' to get away from trauma, and that that trauma was the Great War. I only found out later, speaking to an archivist in the Australian Archives, that this happened frequently: many returned soldiers sought the solitude that life as a lightkeeper offered: they no longer knew how to function in civilization. The more I read the stories of Australian WWI soldiers, the more I understood the sort of man who volunteered for war, and the impact it had on him.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters
by Mark Dunn
ISBN: 9780385722438
Publisher's Synopsis:
Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram,* “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
MrsK's Review:

As a book lover, I adore books about books... books about classic literary characters... books with amazing word play. Could this be some type of a literary left-over from all those days typing the above pangram while our teacher played N. Rimsky Korsakov's Flight of the Bumble Bee?

With a series of letters, two young ladies (cousins) begin a journey of desperation for all literary purposes. Ella is still on the island of Nollopton. She will be the voice of reason, updates, and humorous re-tellings about her village, the people, the High Island Council, and of course what happens as the letters begin dropping from the top of the cenotaph in the town center.  Tassie and her mother has been away on a "stateside" sojourn. Their young adult voices will bring insight into the insanity in which the HIC will begin wielding power over the town.

Are you wondering what is going on... well it is rather comical at first. I mean, consider what you would be doing when an alphabet letter becomes "un-glued" and falls to its death at the heart of the town's city center. You see, once upon a time a very prestigious gentleman, the esteemed Neville Nollop, became a literary "giant" when he penned the famous pangram:  The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. Although there was very little recognition within the states, the village erected a statue and placed tiles for the pangram upon the statue. On July 17, the "Z" fell. The council retreated behind close doors to deliberate what the village should do.

With complete control over the villagers, the council declares that no one could ever use the "Z" again. Yep, no more words in which the "Z" is written could ever be viewed, spoken, written, sung, or repeated. Imagine what that means for teachers, or the public library, songs, store items, and personal names. There would of course be one warning with three succeeding penalties if one was not carefully guarding their tongues or refusing to remove any items in which the offensive "Z" might appear. As people began adjusting to this new mandate, the bees began creating quite the havoc around town and in particular at the farms.

"With the prohibition, the reading of all books containing the unfortunate letter
will have to be outlawed..."

Seriously, what would we do? I stand proudly, shoulder to shoulder with Tassie: "I am bezide myself!" Consider the ramifications of such a mandate. The confiscation of any books (including text books), the destruction of personal records or letters, let alone the widespread fear that you could slip and speak the prohibited letter... which could send you on the way to banishment from Nollop.

Within a few weeks the "Q" made its departure. By now everyone is stricken with fear of punishments. Turning your neighbors, family members, and teachers in due to an inability to guard one's mouth is becoming a reality. Some are leaving the island and not by choice. Have you considered what becomes of their personal items or their land? Why would any town agree to these mandates?

"Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!"
"The *uick brown fox *umps over the la*y dog."

The next letter to *epart causes the *ays of the week to be change*. Consi*er the extensive energy one woul* nee* to put into action in or*er to communicate. I *o believe that *uct taping one's mount coul* prove beneficial. What will they *o without the "E?"

Nollopianians must prepare for the moment in which language ceases to exist!

Please *on't wait too long... The *elightful word play is just too scrumptious to miss...
Amazing read... joyously devoured... quick fun-filled word play!
Added to my shelf and shared with the Booked to Dine Book Club.

 "This exceptional, zany book will quickly make you laugh."
Dallas Morning Herald
Meet the Author:
Mark Dunn  Mark Dunn is the author of several books and more than thirty full-length plays, a dozen of which have been published in acting edition.

Mark has received over 200 productions of his work for the stage throughout the world, with translations of his plays into French, Italian, Dutch and Hungarian. His play North Fork (later retitled Cabin Fever: A Texas Tragicomedy when it was picked up for publication by Samuel French) premiered at the New Jersey Repertory Company (NJRC) in 1999 and has since gone on to receive numerous productions throughout the U.S.

Mark is co-author with NJRC composer-in-residence Merek Royce Press of Octet: A Concert Play, which received its world premiere at NJRC in 2000. Two of his plays, Helen’s Most Favorite Day and Dix Tableaux, have gone on to publication and national licensing by Samuel French. His novels include the award-winning Ella Minnow Pea, Welcome to Higby, Ibid, the children’s novel The Calamitous Adventures of Rodney and Wayne, Under the Harrow and Feral Park.

Mark teaches creative writing and leads playwriting seminars around the country, in addition to serving as Vice President of the non-profit PULA (People United for Libraries in Africa), which he founded with his wife, Mary, in 2002.
“There is indeed power in words.
 Most of the lasting change that has been forged in the history of this world came not from a wielding of the swift and bloody sword of battle but from the shaping scalpel of ideas, and what are ideas without the words to deliver them?”
Mark Dunn,
Under the Harrow

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Redo Your Room: 50 Bedroom DIYS You Can Do in a Weekend by faiThGirLz

ISBN: 9780310746324
Publisher's Synopsis:
Faithgirlz! and Girls’ Life magazine team up with Redo Your Room, a fun new book girls nine to twelve (and possibly even their older sister!) will love to flip through again and again. Containing tons of fabulous room makeover ideas, Redo Your Room offers step-by-step instructions that help readers create a whole new look for their bedroom without breaking the piggy bank. Girls will be inspired by the creative, stylish, and resourceful tips as they discover their inner designer.

MrsK's Review:
Since your bedroom is the place you spend most of your time...
"It should be a reflection of who you are.
Maybe you're ready for a grown-up room,
but don't want to give up all your favorite stuffed animals just yet.
Use this book as a guide to transform your bedroom into a cute,
comfortable, relaxing, inspiring and happy place..."

This DIY idea book is full of creative ideas that you can do with little-to-no money. If you could transform your room into your own retreat, what would it look like? How would you get started? What or how would your parents be involved? What would be your theme? Do you know which colors and textures inspire or comfort you? The organization (steps in the process) are easy to follow and perfected for even the smallest corner of your room. Have fun and enjoy discovering your own style! 
  • Shape Your Space: (pgs. 7-11)  start with a vision journal (get those magazines and begin cutting and pasting
  • Get Organized: (pgs. 12-15)  de-cluttering while packing away your younger treasures
  • Sculpt Your Style: (pgs. 16-19)  your statement about what is useful, necessary, pretty, and comforting
  • Smarten Up Your Study Space: (pgs. 20-38)  getting crafty and organized
  • Dress Up Your Bedroom: (pgs. 39-57)  favorite T-shirt pillows, postcard your travel dreams, scarf quilts and jewelry shades
  • Wake Up Your Walls & Windows: (pgs. 58-73)  neck scarf curtains, clothesline with clipped art, floating crated book shelves
  • Cute Up Your Closet: (pgs. 74-90)  handbag organizers, framed jewelry spots, candy jar corrals
  • Glam Up Your Vanity: (pgs. 91-107)  vintage vanity tray, makeup mason jars, empty perfume bottled vases
  • Everything Else: (pgs. 108-123)  glittered magnetic dots on a tin/cookie sheet, teeny terrariums/fairy homes, braided rugs
  • Make It Yours: (pgs. 124-128)  keeping it clean, freshly scented, sleepover favorites
During every season of your life, there will be an emerging self that can be embraced, celebrated, and inspired. If you are feeling lost or lonely, do something good for yourself... why not redo a mason jar just for your make-up brushes? Why not cut and paste a "dream" journal that shows what you think is beautiful, unique, or inspiring? Why not fix up a little retreat corner of your own? Doing good things for yourself doesn't always mean buying something that will be discarded in a week or a month. Passing on some of your treasures can bring joy to someone else and a new space for you to re-make.

Enjoy celebrating over your changes,
Fun... Creative... Inspiring... 
A new room for a new season!
Check out the Blog for inspirational crafts, recipes, and sneak peaks!

Somebody On This Bus is Going to be Famous by J.B. Cheaney

Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous
ISBN: 9781402292972 
Publisher's Synopsis:
Spencer's the smart kid. Shelly's the diva. Miranda's the scaredy-cat. Matthew's just average (so far). In fact, there's nothing about any of the nine middle-schoolers on Mrs. B's bus route that screams "fame." But before the end of the year, somebody on this bus is going to be famous.
Every morning, their school bus waits at an empty bus stop. Nobody ever gets on. Nobody ever gets off.
And Mrs. B refuses to answer questions about it. Strangest of all, it's Bender the bully who decides to investigate the mystery. But it will take all nine students to find out the truth, for each of them has a clue to the mystery that will change their lives forever.

MrsK's Review:
With a prologue describing the storm of a decade, the "stage" is set for a wild ride on a Mrs. B's school bus. So much happens on any school bus, yet on Mrs. B's bus there are nine students that will tell their story leading up to the storm. You must appreciate Mrs. B, she is alone with these students every day, twice a day, with every bit of their energy provoking behaviors that would distract any adult. Parents see their children with prospective futures just waiting for them to "grow into." Students see only what is in front of them, or possibly behind them, and they definitely have their own dreams for their futures (which is usually no more than a week away.)

Who do you know on your school bus? Or for some of us, it might be more like who do you remember on your school bus? Do you remember looking for that special seat? Searching for your friend in order to escape the "taunting" jabs by the bullies? Did you watch the world passing by as you stared out of the windows? Was there ever a certain location that gave you the feeling that there was a story happening just beyond its walls? Every detail of this bus ride will resonate with you... the sounds, the discussions, the smells, the moments of joy or fear.

One of the best things about a new school year is discovering what everyone did over the summer. 
"Kaitlynn had a fabulous two weeks at Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks...
Bender claims he had to change his name and go into a witness protection program...
Jay took a road trip to North Carolina... followed by a week at Pop Warner football camp...
Spencer was at a physics camp in St. Louis...
Shelly is already planning next summer's Hollywood camp...
Igor went to Disney World...
Miranda wonders who will be her friend...
Matthew, well he will win this year's science fair project..."

Typical beginnings, that is until the bus turns down Farm Road 152. There sits a "little three-sided shed, with a peaked shingled roof and a bench inside..." But no one is waiting there! Is there a new kid on the route? What is up with this stop?

Each one of the kids have their own theory about the mysterious bus stop. Each one will have a moment to add some unknown information about the family who is living beyond the shed. Who will be the one to make the final discovery? Will Shelly's discovery of the pom-pom hanging outside of the shack be the clue that "gets" everyone's attention? Could it be Kaitlynn's story "The Mystery of the Empty Shelter," which by the way is a great title.  Will it be Bender's letter to who ever should be waiting at the shed or is it the stranger he meets when he is lost in the fog? Could Miranda have a clue in her mother's old journalism notes and articles (sometimes keeping your middle school-high school things can be so illuminating).  Alice's secret about her father, their reasons for moving so often, and the stolen wheel chair might just be the glue for the whole puzzle. What about the "Class of 85" reunion notice in the paper, could Matthew's mother have information about  "He Who Shall Remain Nameless?" Then there is the mysterious conversation that Jay overhears while taking refuge in the shed. Add in the letter that Igor finds in the garbage disposal. All of these pieces will fit together... will you discover the "Who" that will be famous before the end of the book?

Through the year, life just keeps moving... until that day in May. With "tornado" like symptoms, the kids are off to school... and then...
"bouncing as the bus slams on its side in the churning ground,
sliding fast and then slow until it shudders to a stop,
and everything is quiet."  

An engaging page turner... be prepared to read late into the night,

Not only enjoyable, but so worthy of a great book study!
Bonus Chapter: read once you have turned the last page...
Meet the Author:
Some time after my daughter was born, I thought it might be fun to try writing a novel. I guess it was so much fun I went on over the years to write three more, but couldn't find a publisher for any of them (that's why they're still packed away in boxes). But I did write three creative writing workbooks, called the Wordsmith series, which are still being sold, mostly to homeschoolers. Some time after my son graduated from high school in 1996. I started writing my first book intended for young-adult readers, based on an idea I had been thinking about for at least eight years. It became The Playmaker, published in the fall of 2000. The True Prince followed in 2002.

Here comes Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous.  Catchy titles often elude me-My Friend the Enemy, for example, was the inspiration of my editor.   But in this case, I thought of the title first, and the story followed.  I was wondering what it would be like to know someone in my sixth-grade class (for instance) who became world-famous when they grew up.  Maybe I could sell my recollections to a magazine: “I remember when so-and-so used to pick his (or her) nose in class.”  Maybe I could meet the famous person I used to know at a high-school reunion. Or what if I turned out to be famous (here I am starring in my own website, after all).  Would anybody even remember me from my sixth-grade class?  Probably not.  But fun to think about, anyway . . . and from those thoughts grew a novel called Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous.

If all goes according to schedule, I’ll have another novel rolling off the presses August 2015.  And it’s called . . . well, I’m struggling with the title on that one.  Check back later. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

In the Time of Dragon Moon by Janet Lee Carey

In the Time of Dragon Moon
ISBN: 9780803738102
Publisher's Synopsis:
On the southernmost tip of Wilde Island--far from the Dragonswood sanctuary and the Pendragon Castle--live the native Euit people. Uma, who is half Euit and half English, and not fully accepted by her tribe, wants to become a healer like her Euit father. But the mad English queen in the north, desperate for another child, kidnaps Uma and her father and demands that he cure her barrenness. After her father dies, Uma must ensure that the queen is with child by the time of the Dragon Moon, or be burned at the stake.
Terrified and alone, Uma reaches out to her only possible ally: the king's nephew Jackrun, a fiery dragonrider with dragon, fairy, and human blood. Together, they must navigate through a sea of untold secrets, unveil a dark plot spawned long ago in Dragonswood, and find a way to accept all the elements--Euit, English, dragon, and fairy--that make them who they are.
"A healer would not be shunned... A healer is needed... A healer belongs..."
MrsK's Review:
There is something about Dragons that you just can not walk away from.  This medieval fantasy is brilliantly woven with perfection. 

Uma has the gift of being a healer and even though her culture doesn't accept a female as a healer... sometimes you just have to follow your calling. Within the time of 1210-1213, Uma will face the dangers of being a healer. Unfortunately not everyone requesting healing will be blessed, grateful, or healed. Not everyone will be helpful, supportive, or of honor.

When Uma and her father are kidnapped by the Queen, there is a threat in which Uma's village will be under siege until the Queen is with child. Being part English will have no value, only the precious herbs and time will prove the safety of her village. On that devastating morning when her father does not awaken, Uma will need every ounce of strength and faith as the only Adan (healer). Pendragon Castle will prove either its threats or royal promises, Uma will prove her calling or die without every going home to her beloved Euit people and mother.

"Vazan flicked her tail, the spikes rising to my waist before the scaled flesh slapped the ground again.
Was she going to leave me now that Father was dead?
I felt a sharp jolt of fear.
I pinched the red dragons on my belt,
as if squeezing hard enough, I could make her stay...
I need you, Vazan. Don't go. Please don't leave me alone."

With a voyage to Dragon's Keep, Uma is introduced to Jackrun Pendragon and his sister Tabitha. Everything about Dragon's Keep will prove to be enchanting. Here Uma will find friendship, someone to look after her, someone who will despise her, the true meaning of the fairies song "Fey Maiden," and the inner strength to protect those whom are worthy of her faith and trust.

With a stunning eloquence of a story-weaver, this fantasy novel will delight you with characters so compelling they remain with you long after the final page is turned. The varied personalities of the dragons will cause you to smirk or hold your breath depending on your inner vision of their majestic power. The delightful detail of the fairy cavalcade as they arrive for the masked ball causes you to be so still that you fear their entry might be concealed if even a blink of your eye acknowledged your presence.Your heart will beat with trepidation as Prince Desmond decides to run and leap off the cliff onto the back of Babak. You will discover that you have been holding your breath as Jackrun and Uma venture deep within the underground catacombs. With stunning awe, your senses will be ignited as King Onadon gathers the elements:
"King Onadon drew circles in the air, turning the long red flames into a spinning golden orb....
summoning water from the river. A wave sped toward us, tumbling in midair...
A gust of wind blew across the meadow, spinning the fiery orb faster until it flung out chains of brilliant light.
Wind whistled around us, lifting cloaks and hair and skirts...
chill as the windy blast I'd felt on Faul's Leap."

 And... you will hear the beating of your heart as the council gathers for the trial. Both Kings, seven dragons, a half-fey, and all from Dragonswood and Pendragon... present for the final verdict! 

This journey was not as a quick read... it is meant to be savored... it is a place that beckons you back,
Enjoy every detail within Dragonswood and Pendragon Castle,
Delightful journey... Great as a stand alone or leading into the first journeys!
Excellent for Middle School/YA classroom shelves and libraries.
It is with deep gratitude that I thank the author for this journey!
Meet the Author:
 Click on the above logo to enter Author's Blog
Janet Lee Carey was born in New York and grew up in California. She is the award-winning author of several young adult novels, most notably her epic fantasy novels set on Wilde Island--Dragon's Keep, Dragonswood, and the upcoming In the Time of Dragon Moon. Janet lives near Seattle with her family where she writes and teaches writing workshops.

Dragonswood   Dragon's Keep  
 The Dragons of Noor
"I received this book for free for this review"
Kathy Dawson Books
Kathy Dawson Books
An Imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Provato Events

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden by Karen Newcomb

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden: Grow Tons of Organic Vegetables in Tiny Spaces and Containers
ISBN: 9781607746836
Publisher's Synopsis:
This classic gardening bestseller (over 500,000 copies sold) uses ecologically friendly, intensive biodynamic methods to produce large amounts of vegetables in very tiny spaces. Revised for an all new generation of gardeners, the 40th anniversary edition includes brand new information on the variety of heirloom vegetables available today and how to grow them the postage stamp way.
To accommodate today's lifestyles, a garden needs to fit easily into a very small plot, take as little time as possible to maintain, require a minimum amount of water, and still produce prolifically. That's exactly what a postage stamp garden does. Postage stamp gardens are as little as 4 by 4 feet, and, after the initial soil preparation, they require very little extra work to produce a tremendous amount of vegetables--for instance, a 5-by-5-foot bed will produce a minimum of 200 pounds of vegetables.
When first published 40 years ago, the postage stamp techniques, including closely planted beds rather than rows, vines and trailing plants grown vertically to free up space, and intercropping, were groundbreaking. Now, in an ever busier world, the postage stamp intensive gardening method continues to be invaluable for gardeners who wish to weed, water, and work a whole lot less yet produce so much more.

MrsK's Review:
"It's a beautiful day. There's not a cloud in the sky.
The temperature is in the mid-80s.
And there you are in your backyard, picking loads of vegetables from
your own small garden tucked away in the corner of your property."

Gardening, such a joy. Helping things to grow, so fulfilling. Harvesting, knowing the "fruit" of your labor. I love everything about gardening, except the frustrations of yellow leaves, spotted or spoiled flowers-fruit-veggies. I know nothing about gardening other than the joy and appreciation for spring to fall harvests.

Hence the reason to review this book. Not only did the title catch my eye, but the idea that I could "learn" what makes a small garden grow lead me down this path with this book choice.  Did you know that you can grow "as many carrots in 1 square foot as you can in a 12-foot row?" Or that "a 25-square-foot bed (5X5) will produce a minimum of 200 pounds of vegetables." All I could think of was wow! Really!

The organization with in this small package of harvested wisdom is formatted for quick referencing:
  • Arranging the Plants: pgs 11-27 Tips about which type a plant goes in which space, northern exposures, and garden plans
  • Midget Vegetables: pgs 31-34  Every type available, potting sizes, when to plant, and harvesting time frames
  • Soil Mixes: pgs 35-42 Types of compost and manures, tips for when to use, and earthworm power
  • Getting the Ground Ready: pgs 43-49 Methods, crop rotation, soil deficiencies, and re-feeding
  • Planting Time Clocks: pgs 50-63 Warm/Cool seasonal crops, Zone mapping, moon cycles, spacing, and sowing
  • Watering Needs: pgs 64-67 The when, how much, and when again
  • Vegetables and Herbs: pgs 68-164 Recommended varieties plus marginal to excellent ratings, cool or warm seasoned types, tips and tricks for producing bigger and tastier crops, problems, harvesting, and storage tips
  • Companion Veggies & Flowers: pgs 165-171 Which variety grows best when planted together
  • Pests, Diseases, & Critters: pgs 172-185 What to use: symptoms-pest-remedy
  • Composting: pgs 186-194 How-to, what type is best for your area, and including symptoms-problems-solutions
  • Seed Sources: pgs 195-203 
Excellent tips and suggestions. Great tables and planning outlines. What it lacks are the photos... I am such a visual learner. What I gained from Karen's experience will show its worth in the first harvest. At least I do not feel so intimidated by my garden. I feel empowered with new resolution to go outside and sow to my hearts content. I feel that I can combat any type of plant "yuck." 
Let the sowing begin....
Meet the Author:
 The Creative Vegetable Gardener 

 Karen Newcomb has contributed to and co-written eight gardening books with her late husband, Duane. She is a lifetime vegetable gardener,  garden blogger, and avid writer, and has been a writing teacher for more than twenty years. She lives in Rocklin, California.
"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."
Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books 

Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado

Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe
by Max Lucado, Candace Lee, & Eric Newman
ISBN: 9780718036171
Publisher's Synopsis:
What if you could ask God anything? What would you ask? And how would He answer?
Chelsea Chambers is on her own. After a public split from her NFL superstar husband, Chelsea takes a bold step out of the limelight and behind the counter of the Higher Grounds Café, an old-fashioned coffee shop in dire need of reinvention. But when her courage, expert planning, and out-of-this-world cupcakes fail to pay the bills, this newly single mom finds herself desperate for help. Better yet, a miracle.
Then a curious stranger lands at Chelsea’s door, and with him, an even more curious string of events. Soon, customers are flocking to the Higher Grounds Café, and not just for the cupcakes and cappuccino. They’ve come for the internet connection to the divine. Now the café has become the go-to place for people in search of answers to life’s biggest questions.

MrsK's Review:
What a Heavenly break! Sometimes you are given a delightful story that is just endearing and a joy. Those types of moments in which you are curled up with quiet music, a great cup of tea, and no one in the house. This novel perfected that moment!

Chelsea is reopening her family's cafe. She grew up in the converted Victorian house/cafe (my dream setting), and now it was her "inherited" chance at running the cafe. She is a single mom (considering divorcing her NFL husband) raising her daughter Emily and her son Hancock. 
"Hard to believe it's my home again. So many memories.... buy new rockers for the porch."

With disappointments there is often an open door for success, we just have to be willing to take that leap of faith and trust in God's will. Chelsea will be pushed to the brink with tough decisions. The delight in the story is that she is never alone. There is family, neighbors, cafe staff, and of course her soon-to-be ex-husband (Sawyer). Little did she know that her quick prayer would be so amazingly answered.

Meet Manny, or as Heaven would call him, Samuel:
"It wasn't the black leather cowboy boots adorned with turquoise stones,
nor the bright green pants,
nor the floral Hawaiian shirt,
nor even the Seattle Seahawks cap...."

Chelsea knew him from somewhere, she just couldn't remember. And yet, Manny knew this assignment was going to be delightful battle. Not the most coordinated, nor the best dressed employee, Manny becomes a "grounding" force for everyone at the cafe. Chelsea must get customers... but how? Even though her heart recognizes God's words to ask and seek (Matthew 7:7), she can only offer up seven simple words: "Please, God. Is that too much to ask?"  

"Ding! Ding! Two striking figures entered the cafe,
a brawny, dark-skinned man accompanied by a towing woman with blond hair
and blazing blue eyes. 'Are you from the Olympics?'
The woman smiled. 'We're here to upgrade your Internet service.'"

Just a trial service is what Chelsea was told. The truth is... her cafe will never be the same. The only Internet connection her customers will ever get will be through a God Blog. Seriously, such a great connection! Think about it, with one question you could receive a personalized response from our Heavenly Father. What would you ask our Lord?

As Chelsea's story unfolds, there is quite a few stumbling blocks "brewing," she will need to ask her question... so many will be depending on it.

Even with Heavenly connections, Manny must find a way to help Chelsea find her way. Can you imagine how hard it would be to hear and see Heavenly things, yet you can't share any of it until the one you are guarding asks God? Even with family and friends, her customer questions, Divine answers, and a soon-to-be-ex-husband... Chelsea will need a break through that will lead her back to God!

I will not spoil the ending of this most enjoyable journey. I will tell you that every character is someone you might know, maybe someone who touched your life and has been away for awhile, or someone you briefly met once upon a time. The cafe setting is perfectly designed as an invitation to experience a life as it is unfolding. The story line is simply "deliciously brewed."

So... pour yourself a cup of tea... get comfortable... relax and enjoy,

Meet the Author:
Max Lucado  More than 120 million readers have found comfort in the writings of Max Lucado. He ministers at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Denalyn, and a sweet but misbehaving mutt, Andy.

"I received this book for free for this review."
Check out my reviews at BookLook Bloggers! # ...
Thomas Nelson

Friday, March 6, 2015

Heave Ho! by Jose Lucio

Title: Heave Ho!, Author: Jose Lucio
ISBN: 9780990890508
Book Synopsis:
 Heave Ho! is a children's book about teamwork and outside-the-box thinking. When a cheerful little worm pops his head up above ground, he is surprised and grabbed by a hungry bird. The worm must get help from his other worm friends, but the bird has help too...which leads to an intense tug-of-war battle. The battle goes on until the worms are losing ground no matter how hard they try, which leads one worm to come up with a new idea!

MrsK's Review:
Such a delightful tale. Reminiscent of the Russian folktale, The Turnip, this story is about a happy little worm traveling outside its tunnel to play. Remember the saying, "An early bird gets the worm," which I don't believe anyone bothered to tell the little worm, well let's just say that there is a curious black bird looking for something good to eat. As that black bird nabs our happy little worm... let's just say it will take a bit of ingenuity to end this "tug-of-war." 

On the black bird's team is a cat (obviously stalking the bird), and a dog (I'm rather sure had no intention of looking for any worms). On the happy little worm's team are four friends. No matter how much each side "Heave-Ho's" Who do you think will win?

Amongst giggles and gasps. With story-time shouts of "Heave-Ho!" Our Library friends put everything they had in to helping the not-so-happy little worm. With the last great bit of heroism... all of our story helpers were rolling on the ground in joy and laughter.

With a collage technique, this tale brings an irresistible invite to young audiences. They simply have to hold it, they must "yell" those words of encouragement, and they eagerly claim it as their book of choice to take home and read it again.

This happy little worm has more than a few "play" friends, 
Enjoy this delightful read aloud... over... and over... again,

So enjoyable! 
A must add to every Library Collection!
Meet the Author:
Jose Lucio is an Illustrator living in beautiful Savannah, GA. You can catch him in his personal studio working on freelance projects, or just down the street at the Scribble Art Studio, where he works as an instructor.
 "I received this book for free for this review."
Interview with Jose Lucio: January 31, 2015 - 12:13am: by Anne Hart
What do you hope children will take away from “Heave Ho!”?
“I hope, first and foremost, that children get a sense of enjoyment from the book. Any deeper messages there waiting for them will be lost if they aren’t initially captivated. That’s the great thing about kids, they’re really honest; if they don’t like it, they’ll let you know.”
What are the advantages of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing?
“I can’t really speak for traditional publishing since I haven’t been directly associated with it. But surely the No. 1 advantage to self-publishing is complete creative control. I’ve worked on a lot of creative projects before “Heave Ho!” I’ve always just done them because they were something that I was interested in and wanted to do. I didn’t have to wait for someone to give me the go ahead or help me along. But for some reason with this project I got hung up on trying to get published for a long time. Because of the publishing dilemma, I had been sitting on the book for years. I would always tell people about it and address it as a ‘one of these days’ sort of thing. After long enough of that, I asked myself ‘Why am I approaching this any different than the other projects I work on?’ That’s when I went forward with the self-publishing.”
What advice do you have for people who have ideas for a children’s book but are intimidated by the writing/publishing process?
“Talk to everyone about it. This helps in so many ways. It helps to iron out any ideas you’re working on, and it helps to find leads on what to do next. You never know, maybe someone you know has a cousin who ‘knows a guy’ in the field.”
Which was the most challenging part of the book process - illustrating, writing, publishing or promoting?
“The marketing. I’m still figuring it out every day. It’s all the cold-calling or should I say cold-emailing that can be tricky for me. I’m definitely not a salesman, but luckily I think the book speaks for itself. That’s why book festivals and readings have been the best avenue for me. It’s a matter of the physical book being there in front of them, instead of trying to get someone to click a link from an email of someone they don’t know.”
What is the most rewarding part?
“Seeing and hearing how the kids really enjoy the book. At readings, the kids love shouting out ‘Heave Ho!’ as another worm comes to help out the worm buddies. They also get excited when they pick up on the foreshadowing elements in the illustrations, which are in many of the pages.
“One of my 5-year-old students at Scribble Art Studio got the book for Christmas. When she came back to class, she was quoting the book to the other kids, which of course made me incredibly proud and overjoyed. Moments like that are priceless for me, because those kids don’t know the difference between self-publishing and the major publishing houses. To them, my book has just as much a chance as the other books on the shelf.”
Any plans for future books?
“There are definitely plans for more books in the future. When I established myself as a self-publisher, I did it in a manner that would secure spots for more books under my publishing house Annelidical Books. Get it? I have one in the works now about a group of chickens making the transition from caged to free-range, and all the scariness that the unknown brings with it. I’ve also been thinking about a counting book with our wormy friends from ‘Heave Ho!’”

MrsK's Reading Bio

Reading is important! No questions asked, not even a blink of the eye from any student I grew up with. On the first day of the First grade, we were given our first books. Day two we all read aloud, round robin of course. Day three we were place in our first basal, now known as a lit circle group. Books were so important, publishers designed new curriculum so that every student was reading by the end of the first week. These early readers had images that looked like what we could see in the classroom, beyond the classroom, even on the big screen. Reading is important, throughout history every generation has believed that “Reading” opens up the world for endless possibilities.

I adore the 1950’s Dick and Jane books. Actually, most reading specialists and experienced (45+) educators believe that every student learned to read with Dick and Jane. Since these books are being re-issued, I have heard many parents, grandparents, and students claim that Dick and Jane stories of repetition does teach students to read.

Early influences from my mother influenced my desire to read. I would watch her read and we would go on “secret” excursions to the library. The library became my playground. I owned every book I could carry home, of course they needed to be taken back to their home after visiting with me for a week or two. My first book that I could pull off of the library shelf and read was, Father Bear Comes Home. I only saw my dad on Sundays for a few hours. I would pull this beginning reader off of the library shelf every week. Every week I would try to read the first chapter. Every week I got further in the story. My mom would let me check it out, only if I could read it myself (She didn’t like the illustrations therefore she didn’t want to take time to read it to me). One day, I pulled the book from the shelf and when mom came to get me from the children’s corner, I realized that I had read the whole story. I ran to the check out desk and the Librarian KERCHUNKED the checkout card. My mother, brother and neighbors read. My teachers read. We all read aloud all day long in school. The Priest read aloud every day at mass, even in Latin. Everybody in the Doctor’s office read. People on the bus read. Dad’s waiting in their cars as the Mom’s and children grocery shopped, read. In fact, once you could read and write, Sunset Magazine considered you a reader and sent you mail every day.

Reading is important; I’ve spent my life reading. I’ve traveled around the world and into space through books. My favorite genre is whichever book I have open at the time. Children’s Literature is my passion. Book clubbing is one of the best past times, especially if food is involved. In fact my friends of old are in a book club and we are about to embark on a beach trip to “read” and discuss our newest selection.

My “home-run” book story has helped every student find his or her own “home-run” reads. Every year, I have shared my, Father Bear Comes Home, and every year my students have brought in their “home-run” books. That’s the “diving board” into our Lit. Studies.

In “Growing Up Digital,” Tapscott’s insights into the new generations enthusiasm for the Net reminded me of my generation’s enthusiasm for reading, movies, TV, parties and our driving permits. The Net-Generation, as Tapscott describes, “are learning, playing, communicating, working, creating communities, and enforcing a social transformation.”
N-Geners are interactive “techies” who are always looking for a way to “work it” verses the TV Generation of “Baby Boomers” who started out looking for “how it works.” Reading development is tougher today, society moves too fast to invest their “non-working” free time into a book or even “home work.” Since I stepped into my own classroom, I have seen students being told to read, being forced to read, and threatened into reading. Homework is not any longer the vehicle for students to gain their future lifestyles or careers with. Yet, the Internet does create an enthusiasm for learning. Since I have been enrolled in these courses, I have used the computers in every subject. My students are using the newest technology in the classroom because I am giving them investigative sites to use as they learn from each other and books. I agree with Tapscott, in order to bridge the gap with this up and coming generation we must “live and learn with them.”

FTC Required Disclaimer: I receive these books from the publishers. I did not receive monetary compensation for these reviews. These reviews have been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at


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