Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review: Third Grade Mix-Up by Michele Jakubowski


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

When Sidney Fletcher moves to Oak Grove, things get a little strange for Sydney Greene. Not only does Sydney share a name with a boy, but he's in her third-grade class! First-day-of-school drama has them at odds, but Sidney and Sydney soon find out that they share more than just their names. Can boys and girls actually be friends?!
From the Sidney & Sydney series. For ages 6-8.
* Broad reader appeal - created for both girls and boys
* Story told from a boy's and girl's point of view, which alternate with each chapter
* Charming illustrations enhance the story
About the Author:
Raised in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates, Michele Jakubowski has the teachers in her life to thank for her love of reading and writing. While writing has always been a passion for Michele, she believes it is the books she has read throughout the years, and the teachers who assigned them, that have made her the storyteller she is today. Michele lives in Powell, Ohio, with her husband, John, and their children, Jack and Mia.
About the Illustrator:
Luisa Montalto followed a curved path to becoming an illustrator: She was first a dancer, then earned her doctorate degree in cinematography. She credits these experiences with giving her the energy and will to try harder. Finally, she went on to work with an independent comics magazine, before becoming a professional illustrator in 2003.

MY TAKE:
The idea of two kids who have similar names is cute, although I can't help thinking that if this book had a YA version, Sidney and Sydney would become girlfriend and boyfriend.

In Third Grade Mix-Up, Sidney is the new guy in town and he's nervous about his first day. Sydney, on the other hand, is an artistic girl who becomes his friend after their mothers become good friends.

Plot-wise, if you've ever read any of the Sweet Valley Kids books, this is similar to that. The stories are about things that happen in school and how kids become friends despite not getting along at first. The best part in the plot, for me, was when Sidney and Gomez pranked Gomez's older brother.

The addition of Gomez and Haley, Sidney and Sydney's best friends, helps round the book out and help keep it from going fully into a puppy love-type of book.

As for the illustrations, they remind me a little bit of those modern greeting cards, the black and white ones with splashes of color, which show cityscapes. I'm not sure if it's a perfect fit for the book, though.

Thanks to NetGalley and Picture Window Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of Third Grade Mix-Up is on February 1, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. There's a female character and a male character so kids can relate to at least one of the characters.
  2. Sydney likes girly things like fashion, but she also likes video games.
  3. It's a feel-good story.

THE BAD:

  1. There isn't any big conflict in the book.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
I wanted to be a purple superhero princess.
READ IT IF:

  1. You have a young kid who's looking for a nice quick read.
  2. You are looking for a children's book with a male and female narrator.
  3. You like children's books that features other family members of the main characters prominently.

RATING:
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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review: The Return of Abracadabra by Michael Dahl


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

After fifty years, the master magician Abracadabra has returned to the hotel that bears his name. But so has his greatest rival - the Grat and Powerful Theopolis. In this second book in Michael Dahl's masterful, magical mystery series, nothing is quite what it seems . . . and magic waits through every doorway.
From the Hocus Pocus Hotel series. For ages 8-12.
* 2nd book in this magical series
* Readers find out the true identity of Brack, the hotel elevator operator
* Real magic tricks are uncovered and explained throughout the story
* Bonus story available at www.HocusPocusHotel.com
About the Author:
Michael Dahl is the author of more than 200 books for children and young adults. He has won the AEP Distinguished Achievement Award three times for his nonfiction. His Finnegan Zwake mystery series was shortlisted twice by the Anthony and Agatha Awards. He has also written the Library of Doom series and the Dragonblood books. He is a featured speaker at conferences around the country on graphic novels and high-interest books for boys.
About the Illustrator:
Lisa K. Weber is an illustrator who lives and works in California's Bay Area. Her whimsically twisted characters and illustrations have appeared in various books, including The Ogre of Oglefort and The Sisters 8 series. She has also created comic adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe's Hop-Frog and Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, featured in Graphic Classics, as well as Pecos Bill and The Bremen Town Musicians for Stone Arch Books.

MY TAKE:
This book contains two of the most fun "M"s that a children's book can have: mystery and magic.

In The Return of Abracadabra, there are two mysteries. First is the mystery of a disappearing child. The second mystery is how an illusionist was able to perform an amazing and complicated trick. Ty and Charlie, two young boys who have solved mysteries at the Abracadabra Hotel before will try to find out what's going on at the hotel.

I really liked this book. Even though it's not that hard to guess the answer to the mysteries, what's amazing about this book is that the details, the characters and the pacing work together in such a way that even if you've already figured out what's going on, you don't really care because you're so entertained by everything else that's going on.

The two characters who really got my attention in this book is Charlie and Brack. Charlie is really smart but he's not an annoying know-it-all. Brack, aside from the fact that I always say "Barack" in my head when I read his name, is like that lovable grandfather who knows a lot of magic tricks.

The book is peppered with full-color anime-style illustrations and the pages are colored light brown, like parchment. Even the font used looks like it belongs in a book about magic. Strangely enough, I didn't see any quotation marks at all throughout the book.

Thanks to NetGalley and Stone Arch Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of The Return of Abracadabra is on February 1, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. The illustrations and coloring of the book bring the book to life.
  2. The protagonists are likable.
  3. The plot is very entertaining.

THE BAD:

  1. Some might find the mystery to be too easy to solve.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
He carried a staff, like some ancient wizard.
READ IT IF:

  1. You like magic.
  2. Your child likes mystery books.
  3. Your child thinks magicians are cool.

RATING:
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

A tisket, a tasket, a tasty cupcake basket. Serve up these cupcakes for a berry amazing treat.
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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Zeke Meeks vs the Big Blah-rific Birthday by D.L. Green


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

When Zeke's birthday party falls near Grace Chang's and Owen Leech's big bashes, he decides to cancel his party. After all, even he would rather go to their over-the-top parties than his simple celebration. But Zeke and his classmates are in for a surprise. Bigger doesn't always mean better.
From the Zeke Meeks series. For ages 7-10.
* Very funny first-person narration: Kirkus describes Zeke as an easier-to-read option to the Wimpy Kid series
* Humorous illustrations enrich the stories
* At the end of the book, Zeke defines tricky words in his own funny way
* Birthday activity keeps the fun going in Zeke Meeks vs the Big Blah-rific Birthday
About the Author:
D.L. Green lives in California with her husband, three children, silly dog, and a big collection of rubber chickens. She loves to read, write, and joke around.
About the Illustrator:
Josh Alves is an illustrator who gets to create in his studio in central Maine. As a husband and father, he constantly draws inspiration from his family. He loves humor, wit, and anything that gets your thinker thinking.

MY TAKE:
Ah, to be young and eager to have the best birthday party ever.

In Zeke Meeks vs the Big Blah-rific Birthday, Zeke's 9th birthday is coming up and he wants to have an awesome celebration. However, the kind of party he has in mind isn't in his mom's budget. Additionally, two of his classmates are having really big birthday parties that weekend too. So what will happen to Zeke's party?

With children's books, you can usually tell how a story will turn out. While you can sort of guess how the story will end, I doubt you'll be able to guess the specifics. Granted, I'm not sure how likely it is that Zeke's party and his friends' reactions would be the same in real life as it was in the book. Within the context of the story, though, it's a good way to tie things up and shows that fancy parties aren't always as fun as the simple things in life.

Since this is a Picture Window book, there are illustrations, especially at the start of the book. Some of the illustrations also have captions of sorts, similar to what you'd find in someone's diary or journal. I really liked the illustrations as it really felt like it had been drawn by a talented young boy.

Thanks to NetGalley and Picture Window Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of Zeke Meeks vs the Big Blah-rific Birthday is on February 1, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. The illustrations are appropriate to the story and the main character.
  2. The story is entertaining.
  3. Zeke is a likable character.

THE BAD:

  1. The activities at Zeke's party might not actually hold kids' attention in real life.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
"Let's begin. Everyone toss your money at me," Grace said.
READ IT IF:

  1. You have a young boy who's been bugging you for more allowance or a later bedtime.
  2. It's almost your child's birthday.
  3. Your child wants a grand, expensive party but you don't have the budget for it.

RATING:
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Sunday, January 27, 2013

In My Mailbox



In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

FROM NETGALLEY:



CrosScan Puzzles A Challenging New Dimension in Word Search by 
Bill Cobb, Susan T. Brown
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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.

MY TAKE:

Love stories featuring off-beat characters seem like a formula for success.

In Eleanor & Park, misfits Eleanor and Park slowly become friends then boyfriend and girlfriend. Things aren't so simple, though, as there are obstacles at every turn.

During the first half or so of this book, my rating was at 4 stars. The setting and timeline was easy for me to imagine as I was a kid in the early '90s and I remember things like cassette tapes and Walkmans. The love story's pace was also nice as Eleanor and Park actually got to know each other before falling in love. I liked pretty much all the characters as they were flawed and very believable. They're not physically perfect and that's part of what makes them so relate-able.

By the last 100 pages, though, my rating dropped to 3 stars. The reason is because Eleanor's constant negativity and the way she always said she wasn't pretty even though Park has said she is. It just got on my nerves. I mean, you don't have to believe it. Just take the compliment! Say "thank you" and stop overanalyzing it! Of course, this is probably just a way to show how Eleanor's family life is affecting her self-esteem, but still, it made me dislike her a lot. It's a good thing I liked the other characters, especially Park's family.

It also got a little bit melodramatic near the last part when Eleanor and Park had been together for awhile. It's not exactly as over-the-top as Twilight, but it came close.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Griffin for the e-ARC. Publication date of Eleanor & Park is on February 26, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. There's no insta-love here.
  2. The characters are interesting and imperfect.
  3. It will make you nostalgic for the '90s.

THE BAD:

  1. Eleanor's lack of self-confidence can wear a little thin.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I'm yours. The me that's me right now is yours. Always.
READ IT IF:

  1. You grew up in the '90s.
  2. You enjoy stories with quirky lead characters.
  3. You're looking for a YA love story.

RATING:
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Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: Little Dinos Don't Bite by Michael Dahl


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:






Little Dino must learn that even though he has nice, sharp teeth, he can’t bite anything — or anyone — he wants to.
For the youngest learners, fun, cheerful read-alouds that help guide a child’s first steps in learning and growing. With bright, bold art and humorous stories, the Little Dino books focus on troublesome behavior in a fun but constructive way.
From the Little Dinos/Hello Genius series. For ages 2-4.
* Bright, bold art featuring the ever-popular dinosaur
* Pushing, biting, yelling and hitting are common behaviors during a child's first 3 years - these books help address the issues in a light-hearted way
* 12 other titles in the popular Hello Genius series featuring manners, times of day, and self-care
About the Author:
Michael Dahl is the author of more than 200 books for children and young adults. He has won the AEP Distinguished Achievement Award three times for his nonfiction. His Finnegan Zwake mystery series was shortlisted twice by the Anthony and Agatha Awards. He has also written the Library of Doom series and the Dragonblood books. He is a featured speaker at conferences around the country on graphic novels and high-interest books for boys.
About the Illustrator:
Born and bred in the red deserts of Utah, Adam Record started doodling on a padded bench in church. Eventually, someone bought one of his drawings, which made him want to draw more. So he continued to draw and paint and doodle and now he works as a professional illustrator. Adam is inspired by old children's books and vintage posters, and he likes the smell of cement after it rains.
MY TAKE:
What's not to like about dinosaurs?

In Little Dinos Don't Bite, a little dinosaur is reminded by his mother not to bite things and people.

Throughout this book, the little dinosaur bites things such as his shoes, toys and even his mother. The main point of this book is to teach kids not to bite things, especially people.

The illustrations were cute and the coloring was nice, but I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would. It didn't really make me laugh until the last part when the mother reminded her child not to bite her. I think this would still work as a way to teach kids not to bite, though, since the dinosaur is cute enough and kids who like dinosaurs will most likely try to emulate this dinosaur.

Thanks to NetGalley and Picture Window Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of Little Dinos Don't Bite is on February 1, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. It teaches kids not to bite.
  2. The drawings are colorful.
  3. It will get the attention of kids who like dinosaurs.

THE BAD:

  1. There really isn't much of a plot.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:

But don't EVER bite your mom!
Even if she is really sweet.

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes dinosaurs.
  2. Your child is going through a biting phase.
  3. You want to keep your child from biting people.

RATING:
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: Flood by Alvaro F. Villa


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

When a flood threatens to destroy a family’s home, they must leave. What will they return to once the waters recede? This intense, beautiful look at a flood’s effect on a family carries a simple message of hope and recovery.
For ages 6-8
* Unique concept: a wordless picture book illustrating the struggle and aftermath of a flood from a family's perspective
* Explains the event of a flood in a non-threatening way
* A creative way to: start kid-friendly conversation about traumatic events; practice prediction and storytelling skills; encourage individualized storytelling
* Contemporary, rich art highlights natural elements
About the Author/Illustrator:
Alvaro Fernandez Villa lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina and has a degree in fine art. He became interested in art as a very young child, and has developed skills in both digital and traditional art forms.


MY TAKE:
This book is the first one I've read and reviewed that doesn't have any words.

In Flood, we get to see how one family deals with a flood, before, during and after the flood itself.

Given that there are no words used for this book, the only thing I can review here are the illustrations and the narrative of the drawings.

The drawings are beautiful. The coloring, in particular, is gorgeous. The landscape, in particular, was rendered quite well and looked like paintings you would see in a gallery. The feathery quality of the clouds and the grass appear as though they were done using watercolor, but the other drawings, particularly those that were set inside the house or included the family looked like they were rendered using a computer.

The story itself was pretty compelling, and living in a country that sees a lot of typhoons a year, I can say with confidence that its portrayal of how a family prepares before a flood and rebuilds afterwards is quite accurate.

Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone Young Readers for the e-ARC. Publication date of Flood is on February 1, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. It doesn't need words to tell the story.
  2. The coloring is beautiful.
  3. It's an accurate portrayal of families that experience flooding in their homes.

THE BAD:

  1. The way that the family is drawn might not appeal to everyone. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You want to show your child how families deal with floods.
  2. You are looking for a picture book you can narrate to your child in any way you want.
  3. You like beautifully illustrated children's books.

RATING:
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review: Monster Knows Numbers by Lori Capote


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

Who says monsters are scary? This monster is ready to count toys! Delightfully goofy, rhyming text engages the youngest readers as they learn to count from 1 to 10.
From the Monster Knows Math series. For ages 2-4.
About the Author:
First-time author Lori Capote is a former newspaper reporter and editor. She lives in the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband and two children.
About the Illustrator:
Chip Wass has created characters, illustrations, and logos for Disney, Nick at Nite, Cartoon Network, Target, The New York Times, ESPN, and Entertainment Weekly among others. he is currently writing and illustrating a novel for young readers.

MY TAKE:
This book is a really fun way to teach little kids about counting.

In Monster Knows Numbers, a little monster shows a few things that can be found inside his room. The objects are presented through rhymes.

The rhymes are okay and so are the illustrations, but their combination makes something greater than the sum of their parts. The illustrations fit the words well, and the bright colors used make the book appear much happier.

I didn't find the monster himself to be cute, though, and I think some kids may find the idea of monsters to be too scary for them. However, if your child liked Monsters Inc., then he or she should be okay as the monster in this book looks a little bit like Mike Wazowski.

Thanks to NetGalley and Picture Window Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of Monster Knows Numbers is on February 1, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. The colors are bright.
  2. The combination of the rhymes and the illustrations make this a solid book.
  3. Kids will learn to count.

THE BAD:

  1. Some kids may not like the look of the monster.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:

Look at all these great things.
Time to PLAY, don't you think?

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes Monsters, Inc.
  2. You want to teach your child how to count.
  3. Your kid likes colorful books.

RATING:
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Now that the invitations had arrived, the magical guests gabbed and gossiped in the lobby for hours at a time.
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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: My Journey As a Combat Medic by Patrick Thibeault


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS.COM:

My Journey as a Combat Medic is a no-holds-barred look at the modern medic in the US Army, allowing us a glimpse at the training as a soldier and as a specialist, as well as deployment and front line duties and the impact of service on civilian life, including an honest look at PTSD, from the author’s own personal experience. Rather than a technical manual, My Journey as a Combat Medic is a detailed first hand account, concluding with a letter to new medics, providing a career’s worth of advice and knowledge as they begin their journeys.
Patrick Thibeault has served in the US Army in various capacities since the 1990s, originally training as a Airborne soldier before specialising as a combat medic. My Journey as a Combat Medic covers his original training and deployment before providing a look at the roles he’s since played in the US Army’s forces, including his recent deployment to Afghanistan. It is a no-holds bar look at the modern medic in the US Army, allowing us a glimpse at the training as a soldier and as a specialist, as well as deployment and front line duties and the impact of service on civilian life, including an honest look at PTSD, from the author’s own personal experience.

MY TAKE:
I've always been fascinated with military life, so as a former medical student, this book interested me in a number of ways.

In My Journey As A Combat Medic, Patrick Thibeault shares his experiences as a combat medic in the army when he served in Afghanistan and Kuwait. He also talks about the various military training programs he joined.

I wasn't too interested in the descriptions of his training, but I was definitely fascinated about the tales of his tours of duty. You'd think that combat medics have a somewhat easier job than being a soldier on the front lines, but it's really not. Some of them do go with patrol groups and while most stay in their army base, sometimes the bases get attacked too.

Some of the descriptions of the injuries and people he treated were both horrifying and fascinating. On one hand, the descriptions of the techniques he used and the settings in which he was able to work on this people were interesting. However, the injuries themselves are not for people who have active imaginations and a weak stomach.

I also appreciated the pictures from his tour of duty. It gives the book a little more character.

Thanks to the author for the review copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. You get to see how combat medics are trained and their life on the field.
  2. The pictures give you a better feel for the author's military experiences.
  3. It talks about the good and bad of interacting with locals.

THE BAD:

  1. The timeline can be confusing sometimes.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Welcome to the best job in the world.
READ IT IF:

  1. You're thinking of becoming a combat medic.
  2. You're a medical personnel.
  3. You like stories about soldiers.

RATING:
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ABOUT PATRICK THIBEAULT:

Patrick Thibeault was raised as an Army brat. He lived in Germany, Fort Devens, Massachusetts, Fayetteville, North Carolina and his father was stationed in Seoul, South Korea where he attended Seoul American High School and graduated in 1989. During his time in Korea, Patrick watched several of the Olympic games in person as they were in Seoul, South Korea in 1988. He grew to respect and understand the different cultures he encountered.

Upon graduation from high school, Patrick enlisted in the Army becoming a paratrooper medic. The first unit that he was assigned to was the elite 3rd Battalion / 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). Patrick deployed to Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm back in 1990. During his tenure with the 160th, Patrick had the opportunity to grow both as a soldier and as a medic. He attended SERE school (Survival training), went to Army enlisted flight medic school at Fort Rucker, and attended Primary Leadership training at Fort Stewart, Georgia among other types of military training. He deployed both stateside and overseas with the 160th and even spent some time on the USS. Theodore Roosevelt. During his time with the 160th, he was on both on enlisted crewmember flight status and parachute status.
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He then joined the Kentucky Army National Guard. Patrick deployed twice to Ecuador during his time with the Kentucky Army National Guard. He continued to grow in the medical field and nursing field and started nursing school at Eastern Kentucky University. Patrick's first job as a nurse was as a registered nurse in Indianapolis,Indiana. Patrick transferred to the Indiana Army National Guard where in 2000, his entire brigade travelled to Fort Polk, Louisiana to participate in the combat simulations at the Joint Readiness Training Center or JRTC.

He graduated with his bachelor's degree in nursing in May 2003 from Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2004, he deployed with his unit, the 76th Infantry Brigade in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His unit was part of Task Force Phoenix. This task force trained the conventional Afghanistan Army and had soldiers embedded into these Afghanistan units both during training and combat operations. Patrick worked briefly as a liaison for Task Force Phoenix at Bagram Airbase before going back out into the deserts of Afghanistan to serve as a medic.

Patrick started on his master's degree to become a Family Nurse Practitioner upon returning from combat in 2005. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in December, 2008. Patrick then transferred to the 138th Field Artillery Brigade, part of the Kentucky Army National Guard, where he remained till he retired in January, 2011. Patrick currently works part time in a medical intensive care unit part time as a registered nurse and works full time in a urgent and primary care clinic as a Family Nurse Practitioner.

Hobbies include Corvettes,writting poetry, working out, Star Trek, and reading medical books. He is married to his wife Connie. They have a dog named Rocco and two cats named Savannah and Georgia. He named his cats after the beautiful city of Savannah and the other cat after the state of Georgia when he was stationed at Hunter Army Airfield, in Savannah,Georgia.

His awards and decorations include the Combat Medical Badge, 2nd award from both Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom. The Meritorious Service Medical from Afghanistan, the Air Medal from Desert Storm. Patrick also has earned the Expert Field Medical Badge, parachute wings, and the enlisted crewmember aviation wings.

Currently Patrick is working on a book of combat medic poetry, a book about working as a nurse and a nurse practitioner from the perspective of a man and a fictional book about a time travelling medical provider who gets stuck in the past while trying to learn medicine and nursing and working on his website at http://www.medicstory.com/

GIVEAWAY:

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

In My Mailbox



In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

FROM NETGALLEY:


Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy Bennett
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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Review: The Poodle and the Pea by Charlotte Guillain


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

In Animal Fairy Tales, beautiful illustrations and simple text retell classic fairy tales from a new perspective: all the characters are animals! This book, a retelling of The Princess and the Pea, tells the story of the Poodle and the Pea, in which a lost dog is revealed to be a princess after a servant has a good idea.
From the Animal Fairy Tales series. For ages 3-7.
* Beautiful, fun illustrations
* Simple text appropriate for both early independent readers and parents reading to a child
* New twists on traditional tales
About the Author:
Charlotte Guillain has written nearly 100 books, both fiction and nonfiction. Some of her best-selling titles include the 'Space' and 'Growing Up' series. Before writing children's books, Charlotte worked as a bookseller, a teacher of English as a Foreign Language, and an editor.
About the Illustrator:
Illustrator Dawn Beacon lives with her husband and son in the beautiful mountains of Colorado. During the winter months she loves snowboarding with her family at their local resorts, while summertime finds her biking and gardening. Inspiration for her artwork is found directly out her back door with the abundance of wildlife and breathtaking views of the Vail Valley. 

MY TAKE:
I remember liking the original version of this story as a child, so I gave this one a try.

In The Poodle and the Pea, Prince Barking's parents want him to get married, but he doesn't like any of the princesses presented. Soon, though, a girl appears at the castle who claims to be a princess. Is she really a princess?

The idea of remaking this story by using poodles as characters is cute. I think this will appeal to a lot of kids, especially those who like dogs. However, I think this works best if the reader is not familiar with the story. Despite the different species used, it feels to much like the original so there wasn't any thrill for me.

The illustration style wasn't really my thing, but I did like the coloring. It reminded me of oil paintings a little bit, so while reading, I imagined that I was looking at a series of paintings.

Thanks to NetGalley and Heinemann-Raintree for the e-ARC. Publication date of The Poodle and the Pea is on February 1, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. The coloring is pretty.
  2. Kids unfamiliar with the story might enjoy this.
  3. It's a good, quick bedtime reading material.

THE BAD:

  1. Those familiar with the original may not find enough variation to satisfy them.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
The servant put a pea in a bed and piled blankets on top of it.
READ IT IF:

  1. Your child has never read The Princess and the Pea.
  2. Your child likes poodles.
  3. You like reading new versions of old fairytales.

RATING:
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: Why Are Orangutans Orange? Science Questions in Pictures—With Fascinating Answers by Mick O'Hare


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

More popular science questions and answers from the distinguished Mick O’Hare—now illustrated in full color!
Illustrated for the first time, with eighty full-color photographs showing the beauty, complexity and mystery of the world around us, here is the next eagerly awaited volume of science questions and answers from Mick O’Hare and his team at New Scientist. From ripples in glass to “holograms” in ice, the natural world’s wonders are unraveled by the magazine’s knowledgeable readers. Six years since its debut, this magnificent series still rides high in the international bestseller lists, with well over two million copies sold. Popular science has never been more absorbing or more enjoyable.
For the first time in full color, this latest collection of resourceful, wry and well-informed answers to a remarkable range of baffling science questions is guaranteed to impress and delight.

MY TAKE:
For those with short attention spans, short question-and-answer-types of books like this one satisfies both our need for knowledge, as well as our dislike for long, boring and repetitive things.

In Why Are Orangutans Orange?, several questions and their corresponding answers are presented by category. Topics include things such as orangutans and ice formations.

Each question includes a picture that illustrates the question. I was surprised with the format of the answer, though. Since I don't really read New Scientist, I wasn't aware that these questions were featured on the site. The answers featured in the book, therefore, were the answers that were posted by users from all over the world on the New Scientist website. If you've ever visited forums, then you'll have an idea how each question and answer is presented. The answers presented in the book, however, are usually only 1-3 per question.

The layout is very straightforward, with just the question, the picture and then the answer shown. There isn't much here in the way of design so it starts to look a little boring after awhile. However, the answers are usually very comprehensive and informative. So, if you aren't a stickler for well-designed inner pages, then you will find this book a pretty good read.

Thanks to NetGalley and Pegasus Books for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. It covers a variety of topics.
  2. There are several experts answering most of the questions.
  3. Some of the questions are very interesting.

THE BAD:

  1. The plain layout can be boring for some.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
All this means hours of fun when you should be cooking, which is why I am now barred from buying the stuff.
READ IT IF:

  1. You like question-and-answer type of science books.
  2. You enjoy reading science forums.
  3. You don't mind non-fiction books with simple layouts.

RATING:
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: There Were Dinosaurs Everywhere!: A Rhyming Romp Through Dinosaur History by Howard Temperley Illustrations by Michael Kline


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

The phenomenon of the dinosaur is one that continues to fascinate people of all ages. It is not hard to see why: these monstrous creatures dominated the earth in their day somewhat similarly to the way humans dominate the earth today. Certainly, the vast differences between dinosaurs and humans probably account for the enthrallment—we are amazed that such "mythical" creatures actually did exist.
There Were Dinosaurs Everywhere!: A Rhyming Romp Through Dinosaur History is a fun-filled history of the many species of dinosaurs, their eras, interesting facts about them, why the age of dinosaurs came to an end, and a dinosaur timeline—all told in an appealing verse form that children from ages 5 to 12 will find informative, funny and unforgettable.
This book contains much of the factual and historical information that a middle-school textbook on dinosaurs might contain, but the big difference between such textbooks and There Were Dinosaurs Everywhere! is that this is an instructional, educational book that no child (and perhaps many adults) will not want to put down.
Mr. Temperley's verse is captivating and catchy; Mr. Kline's illustrations are amusing and attractive. This is a unique addition to children's books on dinosaurs, and it is sure to stand out from the others—those that simply don't have the same flair for telling a very popular story.

MY TAKE:
Lots of kids go through "dinosaur" phases, so I think this book could have a huge audience.

In There Were Dinosaurs Everywhere!, we are introduced to all sorts of land, air and water dinosaurs, as well as paleontologists.

Each dinosaur has a short poem and illustration just for them. Given how many dinosaurs and topics were mentioned, you can tell how much effort the author put into this. The dinosaurs mentioned ranged from the more well-known Tyrannosaurus to the less-known Scutosaurus. I think it's meant for older kids, though, as there are plenty of big words which younger kids may not understand unless they ask their parents.

The illustration style wasn't my cup of tea, though. The coloring looked sort of pixelated and not smooth, as though it was rendered on a computer. However, I did find a lot of the illustrations, particularly on the last half of the book funny.

Thanks to NetGalley and JKSCommunications for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. It features both well-known and less-known dinosaurs.
  2. Kids who like dinosaurs will enjoy this.
  3. You learn a lot about each dinosaur.

THE BAD:

  1. Some of the words may be too difficult for younger kids.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:

This herbivore was very small
Being under two feet tall

READ IT IF:

  1. You like dinosaurs.
  2. Your child likes dinosaurs.
  3. Your child likes learning.

RATING:
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: Kid in Chief by Paul Maguire, illustrated by Katy Betz


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
When third-grader Bobby Barton visits Washington, D.C. on a class trip, he doesn't know he will walk away with a chance to become the leader of our nation. It's on that trip that Bobby finds a missing part of the United States Constitution telling him how he could become President! Soon after making this discovery, Bobby moves into the White House as the youngest American President in history. With his friends Maria Cagney (Bobby's Vice-President) and Kevin Sawyer (his Chief of Staff), Bobby is faced with many important decisions, confusing situations, and exciting adventures. Bobby quickly finds out that being President is a very tough job. Join him as he and his friends learn all about how the government works, having loads of fun along the way!
MY TAKE:
Which kid hasn't dreamed of being a president or royalty?

In Kid in Chief, Bobby becomes President after finding a clause in the United States Constitution which he decides to invoke. However, he finds that being President is not as easy as it looks.

Obviously, the way that Bobby becomes president is very unrealistic. The bills that he wants to reenact was also not very realistic. However, I think kids will be able to relate to this and see it as something that could actually happen to them. I guess since I'm already an adult, the magic is a little bit lost on me, since I can already see the economic impact of Bobby's decision. Kids, though, will be able to enjoy it since Bobby's wishes and hopes are much like any other kid's.

Parents will also like the resolution to the book as it emphasizes the importance of education and fitness, and that adults will be able to do the job more effectively.

I also liked that Bobby underlines words throughout the book, which are then defined at the end. Kids, especially those who are just learning about the government and anything related to it, will find the glossary at the back very useful.

Thanks to NetGalley and Smith Publicity for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. Kids can learn a lot about how the government works.
  2. Kids will be able to see what it's like to be President.
  3. There's a nice mix of adult characters and kid characters.

THE BAD:

  1. Some aspects are unrealistic.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Weekends should be three days long, and the school week would be only Monday to Thursday.
READ IT IF:

  1. Your child has always wanted to be President.
  2. Your child likes being in charge.
  3. Your child wants to make a better place.

RATING:
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Blog Tour: Millicent Marie is Not My Middle Name by Karen Pokras Toz


ABOUT THE BOOK:



Twelve-year-old Millicent Marie does not like her name. After all, she was named for a woman who died more than fifty years ago and was not the most loveable member of the Harris family. Her friends call her Millie, but when she writes in her diary she refers to herself as Amanda – the name she always wished she had. 

When Millie’s younger brother finds her diary on her computer, he decides to publish it as a blog for the entire world to see, including the boy Millie has a crush on. In the midst of all the mayhem, Millie/Amanda discovers she is suddenly Springside Elementary’s most sought after sixth-grade mystery gossip and advice columnist. 

But not all is fun and games, as Millie quickly learns, once she realizes feelings are at stake. Nobody, least of all Millie, expects things to turn out as they do in this tale of friendship and respect.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Karen Pokras Toz is a writer, wife and mom. Karen grew up in Connecticut and currently lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband and three children. In June 2011, Karen published her first middle grade children’s novel for 7-12 year olds called Nate Rocks the World, which won First Place for Children’s Chapter Books and the Grand Prize Overall in the 2012 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, as well as placing first for a Global E-Book Award for Pre-Teen Literature. In 2012, Karen published the second in the Nate Rocks series, Nate Rocks the Boat, followed by middle grade novel, Millicent Marie Is Not My Name. Karen is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).
Websites and Social Media:
Website:  www.karentoz.com
Blog: http://kptoz.blogspot.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/karenptoz
Twitter: www.twitter.com/karentoz
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Millicent-Marie-Not-Name-ebook/dp/B009H2Q6DC
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5009570.Karen_Pokras_Toz

GIVEAWAY:

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