Friday, October 31, 2014

The Bare Facts

Where was this book ten years ago?! Seriously! Normally I don't advocate for abstinence only education (stats prove that a well rounded sex-ed class decreases teen pregnancy drastically, schools that teach abstinence only generally have more pregnant teens and rampant STDs), but if this were the required reading I would definitely reconsider my stance. Unlike a lot of other books in this sub-genre, author Josh McDowell, doesn't just tell teens not to have pre-marital sex because God doesn't want them to, he talks about the science why. Now that is a way to get kids listening. Some of the statistics on STDs, birth control, and condoms were scary, even to me! I can't imagine what a teen would think (hopefully to wait a bit). Most teens aren't motivated solely by the bible, sometimes they need an extra push to do the right thing and this book definitely provides that. While their is a lot of Biblical tie-ins (this is a Christian sexuality book) that is the sole research McDowell uses. He sites studies from Planned Parenthood, the Kaiser foundation, Dr. Ruth, the CDC, and hundreds others. He really did his research and that shows! 19 out of 25 STDs aren't prevented by condoms, 80% of all woman will have HPV by the time they are 50, couples who co-habite before marriage have a higher chance of divorce than those who don't, and so on. Some of the statistics were really shocking!

If this book doesn't change your teens mind it will at least force them to think about the consequences of pre-marital sex. A must read for Christian teens, youth groups, and abstinence only education.

I received this book for free from Moody Publishing in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Littlest Christmas Kitten

This book is perfect for children, cat lovers, and Christmas Eve story time. This is the story of a mama cat searching for her lost kitten in the stable on a cold night in December. She looks looks high and low in the stable, in the loft, under the manger, in the cubby holes but is unable to find her baby. When a man and a woman enter the stable the mama cat quickly hides in the manger where she finds her kitten fast asleep! Mama carries the kitten off to be with the rest of the cats and before long the woman who entered the barn gives birth to a baby and puts her son in the manger where the kitten had just been sleeping. All the animals looked on reverently because they knew that this baby was special. The cats had shared the manger with baby Jesus! As the tale concludes, "Now, down through the history of cat kingdom, Mother and Father cats tell this story to their kittens. They tell about the night Baby Jesus slept in the same manger the little kitten had found for its bed."

This Christmas story will give a different perspective of that sacred night to children who will be able to view it through another creature's eyes. Two miracles occurred that night, the mother cat found her kitten and Baby Jesus was born. Miracles, no matter how small, can take place if we only believe. This is a great story for parents and grandparents to share with children to get a close up view of what happened on Christmas Eve. The accompanying illustrations are vibrant and rich and seem to jump off the page. A must for any Christmas book collection!

I received this book for free from Book Crash in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Vegan Holiday Cooking

This book made me so very hungry. The pictures were exquisite, the captions, mouthwatering, and the selection superb!. If you have meat eating friends who are skeptical of the vegan lifestyle, then this is the book to convince them otherwise! Make them a recipe or two from here and, while they may not convert, they will definitely understand that plant based meals can be tasty, satisfying, and totally worthwhile!

I knew the book was going to be a winner when I opened it and saw that there was a forward from Alicia Silverstone and Woody Harrelson in the beginning. If they were fans, how could I not be!? Since I live no where near New York, I can't go visit one of the Candle Cafe locations to sample the food so I'll have to rely on this handy cookbook to give me a good taste of what is offered in their kitchen. Each chapter focuses on a different holiday (Valentine's Day, Superbowl, Sedar, Thanksgiving, etc.) and has several different, drinks, appetizers, main courses, and desserts to choose from. Not all of them are cheap, and many of them are seasonal (depending on what fresh fruits and veggies are available), but even so, there is plenty to choose from! I have bookmarked the scallion pancakes with homemade kimchi and wasabi aioli (it's a little labor intensive but looks and sounds soo delicious!), rosemary portabello steaks with celeriac puree, cabernet reduction, and brussels sprouts (the picture was literally mouthwatering, I even had a dream about it!), chile-crusted corn (I plan on trying this one tomorrow!), and roasted squash soup with almond cream and spiced pumpkin seeds.

This isn't a cookbook for beginners so I plan on starting small. It is however, easily a staple for any vegan kitchen. I can't wait to get started on these recipes!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Robertson Family Christmas

Fans of feel good holiday stories and the Robertsons will delight in this charming Christmas novella. Miss Kay Robertson (along with the help of Travis Thrasher) has fictionalized her Christmas traditions and added a little something something for Duck Dynasty fans wanting to know Christmas is like in their bustling household.

One lucky teen gets to spend the holidays with the Robertsons. Hunter Clarke has no idea that his mother has entered him in the contest of a lifetime. When he wins he is angry; he had wanted to spend Christmas with his dad and brother, now he has to go down to Louisiana to spend it with a bunch of rednecks? As a result he's moody and sullen. When he arrives at the Robertsons they do everything in their power to improve his mood but it's all to no avail. No matter how many traditions they show him, he seems to be distant. Hunter enjoys participating in charades, duck hunting, baking, and other zany traditions but it just makes him wish he had a family like the Robertsons and makes him more sullen. Will Korie Roberson and the rest of the Duck Commander family be able to pull Hunter out of his funk?

This is a perfect family holiday story. You can read it to your kids or read it to yourself. You'll learn more about the Robertsons and get some great ideas for family traditions.

Also, you're in luck! I'm raffling up an extra copy o this book! If you want to win a copy just comment below!!

I received this book for free from Tyndale in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Willie's Redneck Time Machine

It's no secret, I'm not a huge fan of the Duck Dynasty franchise (it's everywhere!) but I thought that I had better see what all the fuss is about. I'm a public librarian and some of the most frequently requested items are the Duck Dynasty books, memoirs, cookbooks, DVDs, etc. If all my patrons are into it, than maybe it's time I see what the hype is about. I might as well start small so I decided to go with a kid's book. "Willie's Redneck Time Machine" is one of four "Be Your Own Duck Commander" titles, there are also: "Phil & the Ghost of Camp Ch-Yo-Ca," "Sin in Space," and "Jase & the Deadliest Hunt" in the series.  I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that this was a choose your own adventure book!

The reader plays the part of Willie Jess Robertson (This book caters mainly to boys, obviously. The only women mentioned are not strong adventurous women like the MEN of the family, but hey, whatever floats their boats!) who discovers an odd looking outhouse in the shop. Readers will laugh out loud as they get to decide what to do at the end of each chapter. Should they go in the outhouse? How far back in time should they travel? Should they listen to their belly and go to dinner instead? Unlike the original "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, there is no dying in this series so need to worry about scaring kids. If something "bad" happens (think dinosaurs), Willie just wakes back up in the shop. No harm done.

This book series is perfect for little boys (poop jokes, dinosaurs, hunting, etc.) and fans of the Duck Dynasty franchise. It's clean (except for poop jokes) and perfectly sensible for little kids. No death, no guns (except to kill adorable little ducks), no scandalous behavior.

Also, you're in luck! I have a copy to raffle off to anyone who comments on this post! If you want to win a free copy, just let me know why in the comment section below!!

I received this book for free from Tyndale Press in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

The Drop

I made the mistake of watching the movie trailer first so I can only picture Tom Hardy as Bob and James Gandolfini as Cousin Marv. Honestly though, I don't think that's a bad thing. I mean, have you seen Tom Hardy? Yowza! That was one of our main reasons for picking this for book club, because we knew we'd have a great movie to look forward to as well!

This book is quite short for Dennis Lehane novel, in fact, this was originally a short story entitled "The Animal Rescue" that Lehane expanded, and then wrote a screenplay for (his first), at the request of a producer. The resulting story was released at the same time as the movie.

If the movie is half as good as the book, I am going to love it. "The Drop" is phenomenal, it's easily one of my favorite crime/thriller reads of the year. It's gritty, engrossing and totally packs a punch at the end. For being so short, there is some amazing character building. Bob, the bartender and animal rescuer is awesome. Why don't I have a Bob in my life? Tom Hardy seems like an ideal fit to play him. I don't want to summarize the book too much and give it away. Just trust me on this, read it!

Friday, October 24, 2014

How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters

Laugh out loud funny, this book is for any b-movie aficionado or Syfy channel fan. The author of this (im)practical guide states that, "Mother Nature is Angry. Can you blame her? We treat the planet like a rental car with full coverage." He then provides strategies and information on how to "study, avoid, and survive," for thirty five different scenarios of unnatural disasters or monsters. There's helpful advice on bataclysms, firenados, mongolian death worms, and sharktopus. For each event or monster there is a helpful picture, high risk groups (generally former child star actors, eccentric billionaires, mathematicians in leather jackets, etc.), threat to humanity factor, risk of encounter, and Fin's WTF factor. All of these useful tidbits will help prepare you in the unlikely event of one of these disasters occurring near you. For example in the event of a swamp volcano, don't drive through lava, no matter how tempting it sounds or how badly you need to get to Starbucks. To avoid running into bigfoot, make sure to carry bear defense pepper spray. "You can find it at most sporting goods store. Popular brands include Counter Assault, Sabre Frontiersman, and Axe Body Spray."

All of the (un)natural events and creatures in this book have been featured in some sort of Syfy Channel movie, which you can easily look up in the guide at the end of the book. Some bonus features included at the end include:  "The Sheperd Survival Assessment Test" (according to my results I'm a chum, no hope for me!), unnatural disaster kit, emergency supplies for your vehicle, Space Shaknado book excerpt, and filmography.

An entertaining read, that will have you laughing out loud and groaning at the ridiculous puns and jokes (see chapter on "boaricane").

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Halloween: An American Holiday, An American Tradition

I'm not gonna lie, when I first picked up this book I was a little skeptical . I'd read "The Halloween Tree" by Ray Bradbury, I knew all their was to know about the history of Halloween, how could their possibly be any more to the story? Well, that's where I was wrong. Author, Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, painstaking researches the origins of traditions, feast days, and folk lore going all the way back to the Celts, Druids, and Romans. Even though the title of this book boasts the "American History," Bannatyne does her research and takes the reader all the way back to Europe to get a glimpse of the first origins. She then talks about how it was meshed with other cultures and religions (the Roman Empire, Christianity, etc.) through the centuries and how it finally was celebrated on October 31 (November 1 is All Saint's Day or Hallow's Day, so October 31 is Hallows Eve). Once it was joined with Scottish and Irish traditions, it started to more closely resemble the holiday we celebrate now: costumes to blend in with the dead, begging for food door to door, carrying turnip lanterns (pumpkins were a new favorite when they came to America), and playing pranks or tricks on one another (picked up from Guy Fawkes Day). Once the immigrants brought their traditions to the United States, things escalated and by the late nineteenth century, ladies magazines were producing articles on how to throw the best Halloween parties. When the Halloween tradition came to America, it lost a lot of the "communion with the dead" aspects. The Victorian age simply turned it into another reason to party.

Overall, it was a fascinating read. I learned soo much about one of my favorite holidays and I definitely appreciate it even more, knowing the rich history behind the traditions. A must read for any fan of Halloween or things that go bump in the night. It's filled with great poetry, pictures, and drawings to go along with the history. I do wish there had been more about the Day of the Dead and the evolution of costumes (how did they get so slutty?!), but hey, this book is 25 years old, I understand :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Manic Drive - VIP - A CD Review and Giveaway!

You all know how much I dig Christian pop/rock right?....... (chirp, chirp). Ok, ok, you're right. I don't ever listen to Christian music, that is except when I'm at church (but that is decidedly more old school) or I'm doing my 5:00 am cardio workouts with a bunch of young moms at another local church (getting up at the butt crack of dawn to work out is as hard as it sounds). Needless to say my experience with inspirational music doesn't amount to a whole hill of beans.

When I heard about this blogging opportunity, I thought I had to try it out. Worst case scenario, I hate it, and give the CD to my cardio instructor who would probably appreciate it a lot more than me. To my surprise however... I actually loved it! And I'm not just saying that because I don't want to go to hell for hating a Christian band or anything, I really have enjoyed it and have listened to the entire album several times now. Some of the songs have even gotten stuck in my head! Streetlights and Electric are totally catchy (and would make great workout music, it gets your blood pumping!). This album brings me back to my boy band days. I miss Backstreet Boys (as a grown woman I saw them this summer, judge away!) and N'SYNC and New Kids on the Block. Listening to Manic Drive brought back all those memories! Manic Drive is catchy, has great messages in their songs (without being too overbearing), and a must for any boy band lover like myself. How had I never heard of them (by not listening to Christian radio, That's how!)?!?

I'm a new convert and just went to the library to order Manic Drive's last two albums. If they're half as good as VIP I'll love them! The promotional sales pitch sure didn't lie, "I’m sure you and your loved ones will LOVE the upbeat tunes from this God-loving Canadian rock/pop band." I did! And I'm sure you could too! I have another copy of Manic Drive's VIP album to giveaway! If you're interested, just comment below and this Friday I will randomly select a winner!!

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Daughter of Highland Hall

Sometimes, inspirational romance can be a little too sappy and melodramatic for me but thankfully, I needn't have worried. This is definitely one of the books that restores your faith in a genre! Carrie Turansky deftly lays the groundwork in this romance and within the first few pages ensnares the reader in her tale faith, romance, charity, and intrigue.

I'll admit I have not read the first story in the "Edwardian Brides" series (this is the second), but I don't feel as if anything was over my head. Several times the past was mentioned and I could clearly form what had taken place in the previous story. So if you can't secure a copy of "The Governess of Highland Hall" don't fret, you can still enjoy this one without missing out on any of the story!

This story follows strong willed Kate. It's her debut season in London and she must make a good impression. If she doesn't secure a wealthy husband she will have no hopes for her future, since her inheritance was given to a cousin. She starts the season excitedly reveling in the beautiful clothes, the parties, the men. But soon she starts to feel that it may not be enough. Is she only looking for a wealthy man so she can belong in society? Could she find true meaningful love, and compatible faith with someone not in her social class? After a scandal shames her family name, she decides to spend her time doing good works and helping in a local free clinic. For once she has purpose and her heart is lighter. Could she learn to live with this? Would it be enough?

Obviously their is plenty of romance, but their is also faith, scandal, and historical details that may bring new readers to inspirational fiction. Another splendid work by Carrie Turansky.

I received this book for free from Litfuse Publicity in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Great book, but I picked horrible timing on reading this. Note to anyone interested in reading this: do not read during/after a break-up. It will make you even more angsty than normal. At times it was legitimately painful to read this because Dr. Frankenstein and his monster are such miserable, wretched creatures and I was too! Too much angst and misery!

This book discusses the classic struggle between man and monster, but as Mary Shelley points out in this vivid read, who is more monster; the man or the monster himself? It's not very clear, one wants to pity them both because they both suffer. Dr. Frankenstein suffers because the monster whom he created is so terrifying and supposedly wants to kill his family. The monster suffers because he is so alone and everyone is scared of his scary size and appearance. He does not wish to be alone, but Dr. Frankenstein refuses to make him a companion so he vows vengeance by killing of his creator's family.

Eloquently written, and still powerful. This is a read that will resonate with readers long after they've read it.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Covered Deep

Fans of historical and inspirational fiction may find themselves a little disappointed in this novel by first time author, Brandy Vallance. But before any of you vindictive Christian bloggers bite my head off (you know who you are!), let me explain the pros and cons of this book and how I reached my decision.

What I enjoyed about this book:
The premise was pretty unique; it's 1877, a naive young Ohio woman wins the trip of a lifetime to go abroad to the Holy Land with a carefully selected group of travelers. In the beginning, I even enjoyed the strangeness of Sir Adrian, the eccentric millionaire who creates the contest looking for unique and compatible travelers to journey with him to Jerusalem. The little historical touches were also educational and fitting with the story. It helped bring the travelers and their surroundings to life.

What I could have done without:
Bianca is far too naive and suddenly loses all common sense when journeying to the Holy Land. Walking around the garden in just her nightgown, walking alone with men, letting her hair out, and begging to be kissed are just a few of the things she does that are sharply in contrast to her naive pure, Christian nature which she embodies elsewhere in the book. Her lover, Paul, is thankfully not so pure. He has a dark past filled with stealing and adultery  which he has to somehow has to get Bianca to understand and forgive. Of course, Bianca can't wrap her head around it (can you blame her?) or forgive him so their short relationship is doomed. Speaking of short relationships... Love at first sight? Really?! It was like instant love. Bianca meets Paul and thirty seconds later she's wondering what their children will look like. They both fall head over heels in love and within a week they're talking about love, marriage, and what Bianca's father will say. Thankfully, things don't get too passionate because Paul has awesome timing and etiquette for bringing up his sordid past (yes, that was sarcasm). Finally, the last thing I could have done without was the hidden planning/game of Sir Adrian's. Really? Get a life mister. I can't believe some crazed millionaire would really plan for two years to find the perfect match for Paul just to see if he would confess his dirty past, thus being a true Christian.... I just don't see it. It's not even that exciting. The story would have been much better without all those weird little schemes, that didn't really go anywhere.

Overall, it wasn't awful, but it wasn't great. I enjoyed the historical aspects of it and the writing was eloquently worded but... that was about it for me. For a first novel though, Brandy Vallance has nothing to be ashamed of, this was at least readable and at times, enjoyable, which is more then I can say about most first time authors. I wish her well in future works and look forward to reading any of her upcoming novels :)

I received this book for free from Worthy Publishing in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fiddler on the Roof

Reading this made me want to watch the movie so bad! This book is the complete script for the original musical, it's awesome. I found myself humming along to the songs while I was reading. Reading the script made me appreciate how brilliant this musical really is. It's timely and continues to speak to people. The human drama and raw emotion shown in the dialogue and songs are still prevalent today nearly fifty years after it debuted on Broadway. Full of historical drama, Jewish identity, tradition, and love this tale will continue to last for many decades more.

For fans of the original musical, American theater, and Jewish history.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.


They say never judge a book by its cover, but have you seen this cover?! It's brilliant, eye catching, and funny; how could I not pick it up?! It's a parody horror story set in an ikea knock off store. Mysterious things keep happening after hours so the store manager recruits a few employees to stay overnight and see what in tarnation is going on. That's essentially, the whole story. There are some creepy moments, some funny moments, and some great pop culture references, it's just meant to be fun. It's a quick fun read, definitely made even more worthwhile by the great cover art, inside illustrations and layout.

For fans of parodies, cult classics, and affordable furniture.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Fever

I didn't have any notion of what this book was about other than a "fever," so I didn't have very high expectations or pre-conceived ideas about what I was reading. That being said, I enjoyed it quite a bit. The first half of the book, I was like, "What in the world am I reading? What's going on? Are there zombies at the end?" But by the end I was like, "Oh damn! Didn't see that coming!" If you're confused by my ramblings here is a brief summary. High school. Ugh. Drama, growing up, boys, friends, etc. Then all of a sudden everything changes. Deenie's best friend has a seizure in class and then goes into a coma. A few days later something similar strikes one of her other friends. Not just seizures, but backs arching, hair flying, foam, hallucinations. Shit is getting trippy. Suddenly, other girls in her high school start to have problems. What is affecting all the teenage girls? Is it the HPV vaccine everyone got? Was it the dirty lake? Was it something Deenie did? The story is told through the eyes of the Nash family; Deenie, her hot older brother, Eli, and their father Tom. Everything is always normal until it's not, and it's threatening to teat the high school and community to bits.

Thrilling and suspenseful, a quick enjoyable read with a great twist!

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty

A fantastic set of poems for teenagers! Ranging from body image, to men, to family, and friends, this dark and twisted collection of poetry will be sure to talk to teens. The fairy tale theme is a good cover for some hard topics such as: anorexia, unhealthy relationships, bullying, body image, and more. As the poet says in the author's note at the end, "I have never been particularly brave. But when I put on the mask of fairy tales and started writing these poems, I felt powerful. I felt free to poke around inside stories that scared me or saddened me or made me mad. The more I explored the darkness, the more I realized that the forest only looks impenetrable." The poems are accompanied by dark and sumptuous photography which really helps capture the feeling and essence of each poem.

For fans of Francesca Lia Block, young adult poetry, and dark fairy tales.

Through the Woods

I love the illustrations so much I could just eat them up. They are divine. Every. Single. One.This young adult graphic novel consists of five short illustrated tales, each one more delightful than the next. They're dark and would be especially scary to small children but to teens (and me) they have just enough shock appeal to keep you thirsting for more. One cannot describe the awesomeness of this book, one must read it to understand. Seriously, it will take you less than an hour. You have to do it. The stories and pictures are gorgeous, graphic, and gritty. Get on it now. I promise you won't regret it!

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Sea House

A tale within a tale, of mermaids, selkies, and the things that haunt us. The tall proud Sea House is home to them all. When Ruth and Michael buy the house to restore it they have no idea what they will uncover. Underneath the living room lies the body of what appears to be a baby mermaid. Their discovery leads Ruth on a quest to find out more about the original inhabitants were and in the process she finds out more about her past. Raised in a children's home after her mother's apparent suicide, the only real family Ruth has ever had was with Michael and their soon to be born child. Ruth's feelings of abandonment rise as she is trying to find out the mermaid baby's family. Depression sets in as she uncovers the history of the house with the aid of the island folk. Together they piece together the house's past, the mermaid baby's past, and Ruth's past.

A toughing tale told through three unique viewpoints and full of folklore, mythology, and culture. For fans of historical fiction and folklore.

I received this book for free from Litfuse Publicity in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Broken Monsters

Wow, I haven't read anything this dark and gritty in a while. From the get go this book locks it jaws on you and won't let go. Even if you want to put it down you can't, it's gripping and haunting and you have to find out what in the world is going on!

The story is told through a variety of narrators; a police detective, her teenaged daughter, an out on his luck writer, the sadistic killer, and a homeless man. All their personal versions of events make the story somehow more horrific as they come to terms with the horrors they are encountering. The story opens with the discovery of a dead child in Detroit, more specifically, half of a dead child, his other half has been replaced with half of a deer.  From their the story gets more twisted, as the cops try to solve the case more "bodies" keep turning up. It seems as if the killer is trying to make his mark by leaving his weird pieces of dead body art around Detroit for people to "admire."

Dark and absorbing, this book will keep you captivated and you may find yourself sleeping with the lights on.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Outsiders

I'm kind of a farce. I'm a teen librarian and I'd never read The Outsiders. It's downright shameful, I know. I sought to remedy that by listening to the audiobook version, which I thoroughly enjoyed! I instantly became engrossed in Ponyboy's narrative and took an instant liking to all the characters. The premise of the story centers on the Greasers, and not judging a book by it's cover. Ponyboy, Dairy, Soda, Two Bit, Dally, and Johnny are rough and tumble guys. They come from the wrong side of town, lack money and education, and are labeled by society as greasers. Together they make up a little gang of friends dead set on having a good time and taking down the soc's (socials - rich kids). One night things go to far and someone ends up dead. Ponyboy and Johnny have to decide what makes a man. Is it what society labels him or is it what's inside that counts?

A phenomenal coming of age story and perfect to help kids deal with bullying, gang violence, and reputations.