Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Melody of the Soul by Liz Tolsma Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Facebook Live

Travel back in time to 1943 and meet Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian and concert violinist whose career is ended because of Nazi occupation in Prague. Don't miss the new historical novel, The Melody of the Soul, by Liz Tolsma. Though musical instruments have been declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to play the violin. But Officer Horst Engel, quartered in Anna's flat and dissatisfied with German ideology, enjoys her soothing music. When Anna and her grandmother face deportation, Horst risks everything to protect them.

Join Liz Tolsma and other bookworms for a Facebook Live event on February 6, plus enter to win Liz's prize pack giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 6. The winner will be announced at Liz's Facebook Live Party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Liz and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

RSVP today and spread the word-tell your friends about the giveaway and Facebook Live party via social media and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 6th!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Favorite author Liz Tolsma writes a melodious story in "Melody of the Soul" Music of Hope Book #1 [Giveaway]

About the book: It's 1943 and Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian living in Prague, has lost nearly everything. Most of her family has been deported, and the Nazi occupation ended her career as a concert violinist. Now Anna is left to care for her grandmother, and she'll do anything to keep her safe---a job that gets much harder when Nazi officer Horst Engel is quartered in the flat below them.

Though musical instruments have been declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to play the violin. But Horst, dissatisfied with German ideology, enjoys her soothing music. When Anna and her grandmother face deportation, Horst risks everything to protect them.

Anna finds herself falling in love with the handsome officer and his brave heart. But what he reveals might stop the music forever.

Meet the Author: Liz Tolsma's specialty is historical fiction---from WWII to prairie romance. Her debut novel was a finalist for the 2014 Selah and Carol Award. She prides herself in excellent storytelling, presenting accurate historical details, and creating persevering characters.

Liz is also a popular speaker on topics such as writing, marriage, living with courage, and adoption. She and her husband have adopted all their children internationally. Liz resides in semi-rural Wisconsin with her husband and two daughters; her son currently serves as a U.S. Marine. Liz is a breast cancer survivor and lives her life to the fullest. In her free time, she enjoys reading, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family.

Begins January 16
Ends February 6 at !2:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of the publisher Gilead Publishing and the author to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided by and sent directly to the winner by either the publicist, publisher, or author.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ellie, Engineer by acclaimed YA & MG author Jackson Pearce

ISBN: 978-1-6811-9519-3
Hardcover $15.99
My thoughts: Girls will love reading about the interesting things in which Ellie and her friend Kit involve themselves. Most of it is pretty standard tween stuff but some of it is pretty much off the wall because Ellie is quite an unusual girl. She envisions solutions and those solutions are things she makes or builds. She is a tool-weilding, solution-finding, object-building, girly friend to have around.

Parents today are afforded the opportunity in today's world to raise their boys and girls to be creative individuals who can use their minds and talents to achieve in whatever they have an interest. Typically boys were guided toward the manly professions and girls were guided toward the pursuit of becoming skilled homemakers and loving mothers. Nothing is wrong with any of that. However, some girls have the ability to pursue careers involving the sciences and mathematics. In fact, they can also be loving parents as well as career professionals.

Just what is STEM?

STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work.... (source: a general search of Google)
By reading stories such as Ellie, Engineer young girls can see how they can engage in activities in which they are interested and still remain true to themselves. They don't have to be a sterotyped cookie cutter person. They can pursue their interest in the study of chemistry, science, biology, earth science or mechanical, electrical, or any other form of engineering. They can become a performing artist in the field of dance or music or they can develop their talents in these fields for their own personal pleasure while becoming a career professional in another field such as medicine, the legal field, or whatever. Or they can become the world's greatest wife and mother and stay home in that pursuit.

Ellie, Engineer is a cute story brimming with typically joyful young girl interactions with friends and family. A girl who loves being girly and who loves to work with tools creating original items that
could conceivably be precursers of a professional career in design.

Now about the text and book itself: The text is written in a style that will capture the interest of the tween reader. That is to say it isn't too "easy" and it isn't complicated behond their interest or ability. The illustrations are quite simple are adequate. In light of the fact that as young readers' skills develop and their books evolve from picture book to chapter book to novel, their books have fewer and less involved illustrations. This allows the reader to mentally visualize the story completely in his or her mind processing word meanings, descriptions, scenes, actions, and characters. It is the ultimate goal of literacy to enable the reader to experience the entire story as he or she processes it in the quiet of the mind.

I think the book is a good book for tweens to read and that they will enjoy it.

About the book: Ellie loves to build. She’s always engineering new creations with the help of her imagination and her best friend Kit. Unfortunately, with Kit’s birthday just around the corner, the French-braiding machine Ellie built turns out to be more of a hair-knotting machine. What’s Ellie going to do? Luckily, the girls overhear Kit’s mom talking about Kit’s surprise – it must be the dog she’s always wanted! Ellie is struck with inspiration: she’ll build Kit the best doghouse ever! The project quickly becomes more than just a present for Kit – it builds a bridge between Ellie and those bothersome neighbor boys, as well as the other handy girls in her class.

Designed to look like Ellie’s notepad, with pencil-on-graph-paper illustrations of her projects interspersed throughout the book, Ellie, Engineer inspires creative and crafty girls to get hands-on with their imagination. Ellie’s projects range from the simple (using a glass against a wall to amplify sounds), to the practical (the doghouse), to the fantastical (a bedroom security system featuring spikes) – encouraging readers to start small but think big. Ellie’s parents support her engineering experiments, with important safety tips sprinkled throughout, and her relationship with Kit is a glowing example of positive female friendship. They share their hobbies – Ellie likes to get her hands dirty, while Kit prefers ballet – reminding readers that there’s no wrong way to be a girl. Ellie’s hand-drawn tool guide at the end explains basic tools in accessible terms, rounding out this fun and funny adventure, and giving girls everything they need to be their own Ellie!

About the Author: Jackson Pearce lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the author of a series of teen retold fairy-tales, including Sisters Red, Sweetly, Fathomless, and Cold Spell, as well as two stand-alones, As You Wish and Purity. As J. Nelle Patrick, she is the author of Tsarina. In addition to The Doublecross and The Inside Job, her middle grade novels include Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures, co-written with Maggie Stiefvater. Visit her at www.jacksonpearce.com and @JacksonPearce (Twitter and Instagram).

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary paperback copy to facilitate a review. Opinions expressed are my own and are freely given.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The World of the Bible: Biblical Stories and the Archaeology Behind Them from National Geographic Kids [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: This book is not only large in physical size but the time span and subject are enormous in scope providing the young reader an opportunity to whet his or her appetite for life, times, geography and historic impact of those beloved stories from the Judeo-Christian Bible consisting of the Old Testament and the New Testament.

As the Biblical account is read, the following pages provide insight and information into archaeological discoveries that substantiate or grant authenticity to the Biblical account. Those who believe the Bible take it on faith and actually don't need physical proof, yet it is interesting and the pieces of the puzzle that one can actually see are enormously interesting.

I found it interesting that archaeological scholars recount that rivers flow differently from that which they did 4,000 years ago because of changes to the topography caused by earthquakes and other phenomena.

The text can easily be understood by upper elementary students but will also provide enough challenge that the older reader will not become bored but will be mentally encouraged to pursue further information by researching the topics. This is not a standard Bible storybook. It is a retelling of events in the Bible and information gleaned from the world of historical and archaeological research and exploration.

The paintings used to illustrate the stories are identified by title, artist, and year of creation. This is a subtle introduction to young readers to the beautiful art of the centuries from around the World. It is a beautiful presentation of drawings and photographs completed with understandable text and side-bar bites of information. This is a book that should grace the shelves of home libraries as well as public and school libraries. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through this volume and foresee much potential for its use individually and in a group setting.

Parents should bear in mind that this is a secular publisher and opinions and ideas expressed might not be in agreement with widely held Biblical beliefs of those of the the Jewish or Christian faiths. It is, however, a good source that is well done by a recognized source of said materials.

About the book: 
Have you ever wondered about the real location of the Garden of Eden?  Or how Moses could have parted the Red Sea? The World of the Bible takes the reader back to ancient times to revisit classic Bible stories from the Old and New Testaments, learn fascinating facts about biblical history, and explore that same landscape as archaeologists are studying it today. Stories include the Samson and Delilah, Joseph in Egypt, Noah and the Flood, the birth of Jesus, Paul's conversion, and many more.  Classic paintings and photos of the Middle East today enrich the archaeological explanations. Additionally, this book was reviewed by biblical scholars to ensure the most up-to-date and accurate information and includes profiles of important Bible personalities, analysis and explanation of key archaeological sites and maps of the Middle East to provide context to the stories and sites. Kids won't just revisit classic Bible stories in this book ... they'll dig deeper into the history behind the tales to learn more about the biblical world.

Author Bio: Jill Rubalcaba is author of more than 12 books of nonfiction and fiction for children and young adults, including National Geographic’s Ancient Egypt: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of Egypt’s Past. The biography I.M. Pei; Architect of Time, Place, and Purpose, published by Marshall Cavendish in 2011, was among Booklist’s Top 10 Books for Youth, Kirkus’s Best of 2011, and is a Junior Library Guild Selection.
Begins January 10
Ends January 31 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are solely my own and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided by the publisher and publicist and sent directly to the winner.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Holding the Fort by Regina Jennings

My thoughts: Sometimes it is good to just kick back, relax, and indulge in a fun, light, tickle-me-pink story that still holds a good, clear message of the goodness of God and His forgiveness. Holding the Fort is just such a book.

Typically I don't care for wild west stories that involve dance hall girls but this one is different. The heroin of this story is a young woman who is the result of a single mother that lived a low life in the dance hall environs. But Louisa managed to be in the environment (or in that world) and yet not of it. She managed to keep herself pure and free of the encumbrances of what usually befell young women whose livelihoods involved work in a dance hall or saloon. She sang. She sang beautifully. She dressed in the elaborate, colorful, silky finery of the stage. And that is all.

But it came to an end when another took her place on the stage that was more compliant with demands placed on her. So Louisa left and traveled to Fort Reno. And how she took on the role of governess and teacher when she had very little education herself is a funny and interesting story.

The territory is unsettled with Indians and cowboys at odds with one another and the Mennonite missionaries and the US Army trying to keep things calm. The antics of Louisa's brother and the Major's youngest daughter coupled with the aide  assigned to the Major will keep the reader totally having a blast of fun.

I enjoyed this book and can easily recommend it.

About the book: When dance hall singer Louisa Bell visits Fort Reno to see her brother, she is mistaken for the governess that the harried Major Daniel Adams is waiting for. Between his rowdy troops and his two daughters, he has more responsibility than he can handle alone. Eager for the opportunity, Louisa sets out to show the widower that she is a perfect fit.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House a division of Baker Publishing Group to facilitate this review. Opinions are solely my own and are freely given.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts:  Having grown up in a southern town that played a somewhat important role in the Revolutionary War, (or should we say, the War for American Independence?) and that was also steeped in pre-revolutionary war and later the Civil War history, I grew up fascinated by history. I have also read previous publications by the author Laura Frantz and found her writing style a joy to read and her attention to historical research and detail impeccable. So the opportunity to read The Lacemaker was met with much anticipation.

From the beginning of this story I was able to visualize the streets of Williamsburg where much of the story played out. The scenes were easily imaginable based on a visit I made years ago to Williamsburg and the author's apt descriptions.

Now the story...... This is a work of fiction though there is of necessity a sprinkling of real people involved in the story and the staging of the story is pretty much true to the history of the area and time. It is the cusp of the American Revolution and Williamsburg, Virginia, is about the explode. The Patriots and the Tories seethe with the fervor of their cause - be it King and Country, or Freedom and Liberty. Our heroin is a lovely Tory lady who is left, deserted by her father, friends, and fiance on the eve of their wedding. Then her home is trashed and confiscated by the Patriots and she is left bereft of home, protection, fortune, and livelihood.

She determines not to be defeated and seeks employment - unheard of for a Lady - but she does have the lady-like skill of lacemaking and needle-work that she begins to market.

Not trusted by Tories or Patriots, she is in danger. Her rescuer is a Patriot, a gentleman, a protector.

The story unfolds amidst the conflicts of the time and war ensues and with it the dangers to each person. Lady Elizabeth who becomes known as Liberty and Noble Rynallt are both strong, believable characters. Their faith shines through strengthening them for what they have to endure.

Laura Frantz has penned a wonderful story and one I highly recommend.

About the book: When colonial Williamsburg explodes like a powder keg on the eve of the American Revolution, Lady Elisabeth "Liberty" Lawson is abandoned by her fiance and suspected of being a spy for the hated British. No one comes to her aid save the Patriot Noble Rynallt, a man with formidable enemies of his own. Liberty is left with a terrible choice. Will the Virginia belle turned lacemaker side with the radical revolutionaries, or stay true to her English roots? And at what cost?

Historical romance favorite Laura Frantz is back with a suspenseful story of love, betrayal, and new beginnings. With her meticulous eye for detail and her knack for creating living, breathing characters, Frantz continues to enchant historical fiction readers who long to feel they are a part of the story.
Begins January 8
Ends January 29 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Revell a division of Baker Publishing House, to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

Friday, January 5, 2018

President Lincoln: From Log Cabin to White House by Demi [Review & Giveaway]

February is the month when we celebrate American Presidents' Day and an ideal time to remember President Abraham Lincoln. Libraries and schools will feature books about presidents with bulletin boards with their pictures, stores will hold Presidents' Day Sales, and kids will give presidential book reports. So how timely to review President Lincoln: From Log Cabin to White House.
A children's picture book biography
My thoughts:  I love children's picture book biographies and introducing young children to historical and significant people who have shaped our world. Reading President Lincoln: From Log Cabin to White House I find that it goes a bit beyond the picture book status in that the text is more involved, detailed, and spans more ideas and time than is usual in a children's picture book biography. It does, however, fill a need for detailed information for the young biography reader.

Reading this to the 4-to-6-year-old will take patience on the part of the reader and listener. It can work, though. The text and back pages details will be suitable for up to about age 12.

The back page information is concise and informative and will provide good detail for student reference material for dates, events, and the Gettysburg address text. This makes it highly suitable for classroom and school library.

The illustrations are simply not a favorite of mine but they do tell the story quite nicely with lots of color and detail. I do like the significant Lincoln quotes in set apart blocks on the pages.

This is a good biography and the information is tops. I think this would be a good addition to libraries.

About the book: From a small log cabin in Kentucky to the steps of the White House, Abraham Lincoln rose from humble beginnings to the very height of prominence and prestige. Leading America through the momentous events of the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the abolition of slavery, the story of "Honest Abe" is one that all children should know. Now award-winning author and illustrator, Demi, recounts Lincoln s incredible life story of courage, wisdom, and compassion as only she can. Filled with stunning illustrations, this book contains an appendix of fascinating facts and famous quotes from Lincoln s life, as well as a timeline and map. President Lincoln: From Log Cabin to White House is not only a powerful teaching tool, but an entertaining and age-appropriate introduction to a man who has become one of the most influential and admired presidents of the United States."

About the author: Demi is the award-winning creator of numerous books for children, including The Empty Pot; Buddha; The Dalai Lama; The Legend of Saint Nicholas; Gandhi, which was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book and received an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award; and Muhammad, which was named a Kirkus Reviews Editors’ Choice selection, a Booklist Editors’ Choice selection, one of the Booklist Top Ten Religion Books for Youth, and a Book Links “Lasting Connections” selection, and was cited in a Publishers Weekly starred review as a “timely, exceptionally handsome biography [that] serves as an excellent introduction to Islam.” Demi lives in Carnation, Washington.
Begins January 6
Ends January 27 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Wisdom Tales publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Giveaway is provided by the publisher and sent directly to winner by publisher.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Warli People by Hye-eun Shin & illustrated by Su-bi Jeong

ISBN 9780802854766
My thoughts: This Eerdmans Publishing book in the children's Trade Winds series gives children an opportunity to glimpse the art of a primitive culture in ancient India. The Warli were a hunter/gatherer culture that evolved into an agricultural people whose life was documented in the art the women of the tribe applied to the walls of their mud huts. Of course, centuries old mud huts have long ago deteriorated, but the art form managed to live on.

Using simplistic and geometrical forms such as circles, triangles, and squares to define their art, they pictured seasons and life, nature and people. I found it interesting to view and was amazed at the intricacies of the art even though very limited tools would have been available for them to use.

The text of the book is short and broken down into seasons, activities, and life in general. The back pages provide further information into the culture and geography. An interesting book.
This two page spread depicts the hunting Warli people. Note the stylized images of trees and creatures.

Like most cultures they celebrated harvest, Spring, life in general. This two page spread depicts Festival Night for the Warli People with dancing and music

About the book: A poetic depiction of ancient India

The Warli people, who live in ancient India, work hard throughout the year. They plant seeds in the spring so that the summer monsoons will help the plants grow, and they harvest their crops in the fall and store the food for the long winter ahead. But despite the hardships they face, they also find time to celebrate life's joyous moments.

This Trade Winds book highlights the day-to-day life in an agricultural society and offers historical information about one of the world's earliest civilizations.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Eerdmans Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Aliens Get the Sniffles Too! Ahhh-Choo! by Katy S. Duffield illustrated by K.G. Campbell [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

ISBN 9780763665029
Hardcover $16.99
Candlewick Press
32 pages ~ ages 3 - 7
My thoughts: It is that time of year that folks crowd doctor's offices, pharmacy lines for prescriptions grow lengthy, OTC products fly off the shelves, and folks huddle under wraps as they recover from colds, sniffles, flu and other ailments. And it is a time when Moms and Dads, Grannies and Aunties read to the sick and infirm little ones in their midst. And there is a new book that fills the bill hilariously taking a shot at the sick and infirm that might be "out there."

Think spacey, think little aliens, think what it might be "out there" if a Little Alien got sick like you get sick....... (love the idea of a sick kid book)

Well, Little Alien is different from you. He's got two throats. Double trouble! Ear ache? Wow! He's got five that hurt. Can you even imagine his troubles? We have lots to engage the little sick kid to whom this book is being read while he is abed. A dog - Mars Rover - who is super funny. And while Rover is a frequently bestowed name for doggies, a Mars Rover hints of space exploration and a machine/vehicle that will roam Mars.

Cure for getting rid of the sniffles? Why not a milkshake courtesy of the Milky Way. Again a bit of space discovery as discussion of the Milky Way takes place betwixt sick kid and loving reader. Cures like "shooting stars" ear drops, lunar decongestants (you won't believe this one), and the curative "meteor shower." But the discovery that a bit of fun and distraction is sometimes the best cure is the best there is.

A fun read and a super "sick kid" book.

About the book: Ahhh-flying-saucer-shooting-star-CHOO! Laughter is the best medicine when you're a little alien feeling under the weather.

Little Alien is sick. And sick is extra-terrestrial bad when you have two scratchy throats, five ears that hurt, and three runny noses. Splatch! Sputter! Spurt! Luckily Mama and Daddy Alien have an arsenal of lunar decongestants and meteor showers on hand to make him feel a little better (not to mention a Milky Way milkshake to help the medicine go down). Even so, the family's alien pooch, Mars Rover, can't stand to see his little buddy feeling out of sorts. Can a loyal pup's funny tricks finally coax a smile?
GIVEAWAY ~ 2 Winners
Begins January 3
Ends January 24 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given. Winner's copy will be provided and shipped directly to the winners by the publisher.

Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant by Songju Ma Daemicke and illustrated by Christina Wald from Arbordale Publishing [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9781628559040 Paperback $9.95
ISBN: 9781628559033 Hardcover $17.95
My thoughts: This joyfully illustrated picture book transports young readers to the year 200 C.E. (or A.D.) into Ancient China and amongst royals as is indicated by crowns and clothing.

The occasion is the presentation of an elephant - the first elephant to ever be seen in their country. Excitement runs high and soon discussion of the huge animal's weight ensues. So they must devise a method to determine its weight.

Cao Chong is a child prodigy recognized in Chinese History and he has a plan. It stumps and amazes the others that this child can know how to accomplish the task.

Arbordale publishes books for children that are school age and their books are attractive and entertaining. However, the main feature, in my opinion, is the capability they have of providing materials at the back of the book that take the reader beyond the limits of the story and engages his or her mind with activities in ways that demonstrate the science or math behind the actual story and even presents new ideas for their perusal.

The back pages for Creative Minds in this book include information about ancient China and modern China even providing maps that show city locations and China's borders for reader comparison. The principal of buoyancy and displacement is presented in understandable and demonstrable methods in the Creative Minds activities.

I highly recommend this book as a fun, entertaining, and highly educational book. Click here to see the Teaching Activities on the Arbordale website.

About the book: How much does an elephant weigh? How do you know? How would you know if you didn’t have a modern scale? Six-year-old Cao Chong, the most famous child prodigy in Chinese history, faced just this problem! Chong watches as the prime minister’s most trusted and learned advisors debate different methods. The principle of buoyancy and a little bit of creative thinking help this boy come up with a solution.
Begins January 2, 2018
Ends January 23 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Arbordale Publishing to facilitate this review of my own opinions which are freely given. Giveaway copy is provided and shipped directly to the winner by Arbordale Publishing.