Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Phantoms in the Snow

Author: Kathleen Benner Duble
My recommended age: 11+
Their recommended age: 12+
Publisher: Scholastic Publishers
Number of pages: 226

Publisher’s description:
“In this gripping journey, a fifteen-year-old pacifist must decide what he believes as he faces the reality of World War II.
The year is 1944, and fifteen-year-old Noah Garrett's parents have died from smallpox. Without any other family nearby, Noah is sent to live with his uncle, whom he has never met, in Camp Hale, Colorado. There is one small problem with this decision: Noah has been raised a pacifist, and Camp Hale is a U.S. military base for a little-known division of winter warfare soldiers called Phantoms. Can a boy who's never seen snow and doesn't believe in war survive among these soldiers?
Noah's struggle to resolve his upbringing with the horrors of World War II into a way of life he can believe in takes him on an incredible and riveting journey from the training camp to the frontlines of battle. Based on historical events, the story of Noah and the Phantoms of the Tenth Mountain Division is one of courage and conviction, brotherhood, and the joy in living.”

My thoughts:
I don’t usually read books with a male main character, but this one’s cover grabbed me, and I loved what I read about the plot. So I got it.
Boy, am I glad I did.
Noah was pretty realistic, except I think the writer let some of her Female emotions creep into Noah at times; but the kid just lost his parents and has to go live with an Uncle he doesn’t even know, so emotion can be understood. The rest of the characters were easy to relate to, fun to know and overall realistic.
Daniel=love that poor guy.
Willey= Can anybody NOT like Willey?
Shelley= Tough army officer who is soft underneath.
Bill= Sweet guy with a girl back home.
Noah= overall real-to-life, fun, and very easy to relate too.
It was a very good read.

There was a good deal of language. Nothing REALLY bad, just your normal bad.
Noah had a lot of emotion for a guy.

Easy to relate to characters, even minor ones.
Good plot.
Easy read, so suitable for younger (11+) readers.

It’s the army. You’re going to have language. It isn’t your really bad stuff, but normal stuff. Like I said in cons.

Romance and sexual content:
Bill has a girl back home, but it isn’t really dwelled on. And is overall clean.
Shelley has a ‘woman’ who he ‘sees’ sometimes. I will say this was the biggest drawback to the book. But Dana (that is her name) is only in one scene and Noah talks about her in another. You don’t see or read about anything, but merely hints.

War. There isn’t a whole lot of descriptions, A certain somebody dies, and they say he was in a “pool of blood” but there isn’t anything gory and gross.

Drugs and drink:
I can’t remember anything.

Random Snippet:
“Is that fun, Noah? How’s that for fun?” Daniel Stultz shouted. “I had no idea,” Noah whispered. He looked over at the others, Wiley and Bill and Cam and Roger. They wouldn’t meet his eyes, and he knew in that moment that they had known about these horrors.
“Yeah,” Daniel said, “its real fun trying to get you idiots to think of something other than yourselves. its real fun hoping beyond hope that someone like you, Noah Garret, can help me get back there and get my family out before they die like that”-he pointed to the article-“Poisoned to death. So, yeah,” Daniel finished, “I’ve heard of fun. But right now, fun is something I can’t even think about until this war is over.” Then Daniel Stultz turned and walked away.
No one said a word. One by one, the boys began to drift back to their barracks as snow began to fall. For a long, long time, Noah stared at the gruesome newspaper picture in his hands.

NOW! {Drum roll please} for the review, well, first, let me do a sum up.
It has good plot, good idea as this is something I have never read about before in WW2 books. And I am now very intrigued. Mrs. Duble had a original idea here. Noah, yeah, he might’ve been a lil to emotional, but seeing what he went through, I can understand. I’ve already had my 11 YO brother read it, and it held his interest very well. I had no regrets about letting him read it.
So, for the rating:
Maybe 4 ½, but it will be 4 officially. 

Where you can buy it at:
Amazon has it for $13.49 and scholastic for $12.59

*I received this book from Scholastic Publishers.  I was neither paid nor made to do this, but did because I wanted to*

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Author:  Suzanne Weyn
My recommended age:   13+
Their recommended age: 12+
Publisher:   Scholastic Press
Number of pages:  183

Publisher’s description:
"It's the near future - the very near future - and the fossil fuels are running out. No gas. No oil. Which means no driving. No heat. Supermarkets are empty. Malls have shut down. Life has just become more local than we ever knew it could be.
Nobody expected the end to come this fast. And in the small town of Spring Valley, decisions that once seemed easy are quickly becoming matters of life and death. There is hope - there has to be hope - just there are also sacrifices that need to be made, and a whole society that needs to be rethought.
Teens like Nicki, Tom, and Gwen may find what they need to survive. But their lives are never going to be the same again."

My thoughts:
 It was good.  Though some of the characters were slightly bland, and there was a strong thread of teen romance, I liked it.  I like futuristic books, and this fit the bill.   Conversation among the characters didn't seem strained or unrealistic. A few happenings did seem like a stretch, in real life, I would find it highly unlikely for that to happen, but it was good.  I wouldn't hand this one over to my younger, 11 YO brothers without some hesitance, due to the teen romance which I find to strong for my preferences.  But that is the only main objection.
 Teen Romance.
Some just-in-the-nick-of-time happenings.
 Good future planning.
Good character conversation.
Awesome cover.  Ok, not that that is REALLY a pro....but I really do like the cover.

 None that I can remember.
Romance and sexual:
 A whole lot of teen romance.
 There is a mob that injures a whole lot of people, and comes close to having a knife pulled, but police intervene before that happens.
There is some boys that steal gas, and it ends with a fight, broken windshields, and police intervention.

Drugs and drink:
 Gwen's brother is mentioned to get drunk sometimes.
Gwen's mom was a drug addict.
Nicki's dad gets drunk once.

So, you can see, it has a lot of bad points.  There is some stuff I wish weren't in there, but I still enjoyed it.  So, my rating?
Not bad enough to earn a 3, but not good enough for a 4.  For the first time, I'm going to give a halved rating.
3 1/2 STARS
Where you can buy it at:
Scholastic has it for $12.59 and Amazon for $10.39. All prices do NOT include shipping.
*I received this book from Scholastic Publishers.  I was neither paid nor made to do this, but did because I wanted to*

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Daughter's walk: A novel.

Author:  Jane Kirkpatrick
My recommended age: 13+
Their recommended age: NA
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Number of pages: 375 Including Epilogue

Publisher’s description:
"In 1896 Norwegian American Helga Estby accepted a wager from the fashion industry to walk from Spokane, Washington to New York City within seven months in an effort to earn $10,000. Bringing along her nineteen year-old daughter Clara, the two made their way on the 3500-mile trek by following the railroad tracks and motivated by the money they needed to save the family farm.  After returning home to the Estby farm more than a year later, Clara chose to walk on alone by leaving the family and changing her name. Her decisions initiated a more than 20-year separation from the only life she had known.

Historical fiction writer Jane Kirkpatrick picks up where the fact of the Estbys’ walk leaves off to explore Clara's continued journey. What motivated Clara to take such a risk in an era when many women struggled with the issues of rights and independence? And what personal revelations brought Clara to the end of her lonely road?
The Daughter's Walk weaves personal history and fiction together to invite readers to consider their own journeys and family separations, to help determine what exile and forgiveness are truly about."

My thoughts:
Lovely Book, story, and characters.  I often had to chide myself that FRANKLIN DORE WAS AND IS A FIGMENT OF MS. KIRKPATRICK'S IMAGINATION.   When Clara is unfairly treated, it makes you just burn with anger against Ole.  When the walk is taking place, you can feel the heat, the hunger, the pain, yet, strange happiness with her.  You grow to hope that she marries the man of her youth dreams. And feel shattered when she doesn't. You cherish Olea and Lousie with Clara.  And Franklin finds a cozy place in your heart.  And, yes, you do get rather angry at him when he makes his decision.   You feel the devastation as her dreams plummet, and she has to lower her goals. And the final joy of reunion.  Even though it is strained.

Other then BLANK not marring Miss BLANK (can't tell you what each represents), which isn't a true con, I suppose there is:
Helga had a sexual interaction at 15 that ended up with a baby, but she doesn't like how it came about, and tries to protect her daughter's from the same problem.
Clara and Franklin kiss before being married.

It is a very truthful story.  I like how the writer took tough things, and made them easy.  Helga learned much from her adultery, and tries to keep her daughter's from the same fate.  
Clara deals with many pitfalls in her life, but she learns to dust herself off, and try again.  Thus giving a good example in perseverance. 
It is very touching, very emotional, and very good.

I can't remember any.

Romance and Sexual relationships:
Clara falls in love twice, and kisses Franklin.  
Helga has a baby through adultery.

Helga shoots and injures a tramp who is bothering them while on their walk.
Clara shoots and misses a man trying to steal their things.

Drugs and drink:

Random Snippet:
"Then the third call, at three in the morning.
Franklin's voice cracked, "Shes gone".
"What? Who? Sharon's gone?"
"No", he said, "The ship, it went down and-"
What! No! No, don't tell me that"
"What is it?" Olea asked, stepping out from her bedroom, the kitchen phone having awakened her.  I shushed her.
"January 27" He wailed "I don't know what she was doing in those waters, but the Germans sank her on January 27.  No lives were lost,  and they didn't even try to save the cargo. Ours was the only cargo lost."
"The garments? They're...gone?  Nothing was salvaged?" I thought of the beaded cape.
"Nothing" He said. "If it had been, the Germans would have taken it."
"Are you certain? Are you?"
"I am. I' sorry...I..."
"I'm ruined," I told him, sinking into a chair. "We're ruined."
Franklin had been right those years before: Only God and love last, with the latter having a statute of limitations.

I say 13+ for some of the romance and sexual themes in it.  An old enough person, mainly girl, I don't think would have a problem with it.
Now, for my rating, It is a VERY good read, very easy to read and understand. Not dry in the least, it flows well, flashbacks and foresight are well defined, the emotion threaded in with it is golden.
So, I hereby pronounce my review:

Where you can buy it at:
You can either buy it form WaterBrook itself for 14.99 not including shipping, or Amazon for 8. 90. not including shipping, again.

*I received this book from Books 4 bloggers; A free book reviewer program. If you would like to join B4B, go HERE.

Does it bother anybody else when writers put 'A novel' on their book title? I mean, come on, its not like we can all SEE that it is a novel. Plus, Most of us READ the back of the book.
Or is it just me being...weird me.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

BOOK giveaway

HERE is a book giveaway for 'Shades of Grey'. Go check it out!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Story Engineering

Author:  Larry Brooks
My recommended age:  Anyone dedicated to writing
Their recommended age: NA
Publisher: F&W Media
Number of pages:  

Publisher’s description:
From story concept to character development to scene construction and beyond, this blueprint for dynamic storytelling makes putting together a strong novel, memoir, or screenplay easier than ever. Beginning writers in all genres?from fiction writers to nonfiction writers to screenplay writers will learn how to wrap their heads around the big picture of storytelling at a professional level through a new approach that shows how to combine six core competencies: the four elemental competencies of concept, character, theme, and story structure (plot); and the two executional competencies of scene construction and writing voice. You'll discover how to achieve the greatest potential in your story through mastering the way these six factors combine and empower each other on the page."

My thoughts:
 It was a tough read.  It was dry in the beginning, and had way to much sports terms then a non-sporter like me can handle.   It WAS very helpful, and I've gotten a good bit of help from it, but I had to tackle it with determination.  If I didn't HAVE to do a review on it to get another book, I'd have put it down and not finished it.  But then, I'd have lacked out of what I learned, but point remains, it was hard to read.  Dry, dry, dry.
 Dry, VERY dry.
A lot of sports ideas and ideals.  If you're in to sports, then this is no problem for you.
 It was very informative.
The word 'Hell" and perhaps something else close to that.
 Mr. Brooks talks about his book in the writing that has a lady, uh, very much sexually involved with someone other then her husband.
 The above mentioned book of his also has someone getting shot.
Drugs and drink:
 None to my memory.
Random Snippet:
You just have to read the whole book if you plan on reading one part, it runs together so. 
Hmm...hard part.  I think I will give it a 3 star.  It was a very good read, but if you can't get past chapter one, what good will it do? 
Where you can buy it at:
You can get it from Writer's digest shop for $12.14.
*I received this book from Booksneeze;  A free book reviewer program.   If you would like to join booksneeze, go <HERE>.

I review for BookSneeze®

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Arrival

Author:  Shaun Tan
My recommended age: 12+
Their recommended age:  13+
Publisher: Scholastic
Number of pages:  128

Publisher’s description:
"A shockingly imaginative graphic novel that captures the sense of adventure and wonder that surrounds a new arrival on the shores of a shining new city. Wordless, but with perfect narrative flow, Tan gives us a story filled with cityscapes worthy of Winsor McCay." -- Jeff Smith, author of Bone "A magical river of strangers and their stories!" -- Craig Thompson, author of Blankets "Magnificent." -- David Small, Caldecott Medalist In a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean. He's embarking on the most painful yet important journey of his life - he's leaving home to build a better future for his family. Shaun Tan evokes universal aspects of an immigrant's experience through a singular work of the imagination. He does so using brilliantly clear and mesmerizing images. Because the main character can't communicate in words, the book forgoes them too. But while the reader experiences the main character's isolation, he also shares his ultimate joy."

My thoughts:
 I thought this would be a reading book, but it isn't.  When I first opened the cover I was like "Whoa, ok, weird".  The drawings seemed really, odd.  But each time I went over it, the more I understood it. What those seemingly odd sketches STOOD for, what they truly meant.  If you are to fully 'get' this incredible picture book, you must have imagination. 
 Odd pictures.

 Very interested pictures that makes you use your mind.
Pictures show emotion very well.


 There are no words, so, therefore, no language.
 The MC kisses his wife before leaving.
 There is one picture of skeletons that symbolizes war.
Drugs and drink:
Random Snippet:

Sorry, but blogger isn't wanting to rotate them.
 I rate this book 5 STARS for thought provoking, spectacular illustrations, and wonderful show of emotions.
Where you can buy it at:
 You can either buy it directly from the scholastic store, or from Amazon.
*I received this book from Scholastic Publishers.  I was neither paid nor made to do this, but did because I wanted to*

What are your opinions of older reader picture books?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

War Horse

Author: Michael Morpurgo
My recommended age:  8+
Their recommended age: 9+
Publisher:  Scholastic publishers
Number of pages:  {Hardcover}  165

Publisher’s description:
"In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey's courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able to find warmth and hope. But his heart aches for Albert, the farmer's son he left behind. Will he ever see his true master again? "

My thoughts:
 It was very good.  Even though it was in a war time, and Joey is a war horse, all the battle scenes are vague, and non graphic.  Unlike 'Black Beauty', Joey isn't all-knowing.  He doesn't understand some things that the humans do, and that makes it feel more real.  Joey is captured and employed by the Germans, and I love how it shows how on each side there were young, hurting boys.  Homesick men and old Grandpas.  Not all were bad, evil men.  Yes, their logic was wrong, but they were still men and boys.
 Good writing.
Shows each side fairly.
Happy ending.
Nothing graphic despite being a 'war' book.
One character tells Joey about the girl he left back home.
 It is a war book, yet there is nothing graphic in it.
Drugs and drink:
Albert's Father is drunk when he buys Joey, and gets drunk every Tuesday.  Nothing crude.
Random Snippet:
The little Welshman shook his head in disbelief as he took the rope.  "I think if they would let you and me have an hour or two out here together, we could sort out this whole, wretched mess. There would be no weeping widows and crying children in my valley and no more in yours. If worse came to worst, we could decide it all on the flip of a coin, couldn't we?"
"If we did" said the German with a chuckle. "If we did it that way, then it would be our turn to win. And maybe your Lloyd George would not like that". And he put his hands on the Welshman's shoulders for a moment. "Take care, my friend, and good luck. Auf Wiedersehen".  And he turned away and walked slowly back across the no-man's-land to the wire.
"Same to you" the Welshman shouted after him, and then he, too, turned and led me away back towards the line of khaki soldiers, who began now to laugh and cheer with delight  as I limped toward them through the gap in the wire.

Shows what I said earlier about showing both sides fairly.  Unless you read the book, the snippet might seem a little odd, so, read it.
I give this book 5 STARS.  For Good writing, fairness, realism, clean content and overall good reading.

Where you can buy it at:
 You can buy it either from Amazon, or right from the Scholastic website.
*I received this book from Scholastic Publishers.  I was neither paid nor asked to do this, but did because I wanted to*