Archive for November, 2012

Cassie and The Wild Cat Meet and Greet by Pat Hatt, Illustrated by Juuichi

November 15, 2012

Make room for new friends

Cassie and The Wild Cat Meet and Greet is a brilliantly written story about friendship. Pat Hatt embraces his love of cats to teach children not to make quick decisions about others, to give everyone a chance to be a friend. It could also be a great way to welcome a new sibling to the household.

The illustrations compliment the comical rhymes that introduce new vocabulary to the reader.

If you don’t own a cat before you read Cassie and The Wild Cat Meet and Greet, you may soon be bringing one home.


The Swashbuckle Chuckle by Pat Hatt, Drawn by Caleb Wallace

November 15, 2012

What a great adventure to take with memorable characters soon to be mimicked by children lucky enough to read The Swashbuckle Chuckle.

Children will be captivated in the pursuit of the village fountain. The rhymes are entertaining while teaching lessons – hint, read it to a child who is in a cranky mood, see if it doesn’t turn his/her frown upside down.

The illustrations will no doubt engage the children long after the book is read. Be prepared to bring the characters alive.

Boo and The Backyard Zoo by Pat Hatt, Illustrations by Ozzy Esha

November 15, 2012

Today it’s all about teaching children to work together to solve problems. Boo And The Backyard Zoo is a perfect example of this lesson. As a bonus, the story is cleverly rhymed with outstanding illustrations.

Current issues regarding how to deal with bullies are subliminally addressed as the evil Nugget and his Flashy Parakeets roam the streets.

A great book for children to enjoy.

A Reel Cool Summer by Martha Rodriguez and Illustrations by Joey Rodriguez

November 11, 2012

Technology to the Rescue!

What a perfect book for kids ages 6-9 to ward off boredom. First, A Reel Cool Summer is great fun to read, but to apply the technology idea the three siblings learned would be amazing.

The dialogue is so accurate and the illustrations are outstanding. It isn’t hard to imagine this scene taking place in Martha Rodriguez’s home on a boring summer day, or any other family’s home on any given day. Kids are always saying they’re bored.

Starting with the kids wanting a pool, and realizing it probably isn’t going to happen, to ending with a pool as the prize for their video, is absolutely genius. It shows kids hard work pays off. I also thought it was realistic they didn’t win first or second place in the contest.

A Reel Cool Summer by Martha Rodriguez is an excellent book for kids to enjoy. The Illustrations by Joey Rodriguez are superb. Great title too!

Orphan of the Olive Tree by Mirella Sichirollo Patzer

November 11, 2012

Secrets of two close families in 13th century Tuscany.

Carlo and Enrico are best friends who become blood brothers and betroth their first born to wed. Neither suspect there would be problems conceiving a child to fulfill their blood oath. But Enrico’s wife, Felicia, seeks help from a healer in her desperation to conceive. Carlo’s wife, Prudenza, becomes jealous of Felicia when she finally gives birth to twin sons, and spreads a vicious rumor that twins mean two fathers. This ruins Felicia’s reputation and marriage, and she harbors hatred for Prudenza.

Ironically, Prudenza becomes pregnant and has twin daughters. In order to avoid the truth of her lie, and not alienate her husband, she gives away one of her daughters – Olivia – the orphan of the olive tree.

Olivia is raised by nuns in a convent, until she falls in love with Luca, one of the twin sons of Enrico and Felicia. Luca’s twin, Lorenzo, falls in love with Giustina, the daughter Prudenza kept. Unfortunately, this is not the order of the blood oath, or is it?

So much happens in Orphan of the Olive Tree; there is the big secret of Prudenza’s daughter she keeps for many years; there are evil eye curses of medieval times, there’s love, hate, jealousy, friendship, good times, and bad times. All these struggles kept me captivated throughout the story, always being unpredictable.

The ending is left open-ended. I’m not sure if Mirella Sichirollo Patzer plans to write a sequel. Prudenza, the only villain in Orphan of the Olive Tree, is left paying her dues for her secret betrayal to both families. Olivia must serve a three month penance back at the convent she was brought up in for having a child before she was wed. I’m left wondering if the two shall meet, after all, she just found out this is her biological mother who gave her away. No one currently has compassion or forgiveness for Prudenza, but there are hints that only time will tell.

I absolutely loved reading Orphan of the Olive Tree. As always, I enjoy learning history by reading a well written novel. Mirella Sichirollo Patzer writes her story with such utmost passion that it permeates on every page of Orphan of the Olive Tree.

New Beginnings by Mary Metcalfe

November 5, 2012

The title New Beginnings doesn’t give this book justice. It is about new beginnings, and we’ve all read numerous books with that similar theme, however, this story is far from the same ole, same ole.

To be honest, the cover of the book is my reason for wanting to read it, I love horses. They don’t show up until later in the story, but it was worth it.

The main character, Carol Brock, is a hot, forty-three year old realtor. She starts out as a control freak, but by the end of the story – not so much. Of course a hot, good looking guy has a lot to do with it, and his name is Devin Elliott, a restoration specialist – and the one with the horses.

Devin has a psycho ex-girlfriend, Allison, who is the ‘bad guy’ in the story.  He wants to buy a home owned by Allison’s mother, which doesn’t go over so well with a psychopath. Carol has the listing and shows the home, which is how she becomes involved in the mess.

The characters in New Beginnings are what make this story captivating. Carol has two kids in college, a best friend and her family, and Devin’s best friends are a gay married couple who take care of his farmhouse and horses. All the characters held my interest as they traveled around Boston, and to and from the farm. Everything becomes complicated because of Allison, the psychopath.

My favorite stories are those having unpredictable developments throughout the story, and Mary Metcalfe’s outstanding writing kept all but one incident unpredictable. It was an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday, and it does encourage self-reflection.

Smell My Feet! 10 Seriously Silly and Sweet Short Stories for Squirts by Martha Rodriguez

November 5, 2012

Short stories for children . . . “short or tall, big or small, young or old” are what Martha Rodriguez entertains her readers with in Smell My Feet.

Sprinkled throughout the ten stories is a love for children, family, and friends. The stories are real, everyday occurrences, which children relate to. Each story is unique and fun – what better way for children to learn valuable life lessons.

I can picture a child finishing a story and applying a lesson hidden in the mastery of chosen words by the author. It’s an easy feat to accomplish with the clever characters that match the literary genius behind them.

Smell My Feet! displays a respect for children while raising the bar of expectations, without being condescending. I applaud Martha Rodriguez for this extraordinary skill.

Components of Murder by Robert M. Cawley

November 4, 2012

Components of Murder is a biography of Gene McLain, yet it is cleverly written in the form of a novel.

As Blondie tells her husband, Gene McLain, “You are the best.” Nicknamed ‘Bulldog,’ Gene is an investigative reporter who takes his job seriously. He works for the Arizona Reporter in Phoenix, Arizona and is relentless when investigating homicides. Besides writing for the newspaper, he carries a gun acting much like a cop. These are the days before technology, so Gene relies on his street sources for information.

There are always crimes to solve, but the one that challenges Gene is the senseless murders of two men. He can’t let this one go until it’s solved – the killer thinks he’s committed the perfect crime. It’s a captivating read as we get to see Gene prove the killer wrong.

Robert M. Cawley invites his readers to walk in two pair of Gene McLain’s shoes, his work shoes and his family shoes. We get to experience the mind of a genius at work while Gene connects the dots where others cannot. Walking in his family shoes is similar to reading a love story. His beautiful wife Blondie, and two great kids, are a constant source of strength and stability for Gene. I think McLain would agree that without his family, he would not be at the top of his game.

There’s nothing better than reading a good book about a true person – Gene McLain being the best in his field.

The cover of Components of Murder is so apropos – the blood soaked Saguaro.

The Burning Candle: A Midieval Novel by Lisa J. Yarde

November 3, 2012

The intensity of The Tudors TV show is how I would compare The Burning Candle. Lisa J. Yarde writes a captivating historical novel about Isabel, the Comtesse de Meulan. The era is 11th century France and Isabel is eleven years old; prime age to marry in medieval times.

As women are betrothed soon after birth, they have no choice regarding the men they wed. Isabel marries Robert de Beaumont, Comte de Meulan, who is about forty years older than she is. Robert makes promises not be cruel, like Isabel’s parents were throughout her eleven years, but he ends up being crueler emotionally and physically than her parents ever were.

Robert moves Isabel to live at King Henry’s court. It is here that Robert reveals his true colors. During this time, Isabel falls in love, only in her heart, with William de Warenne, Earl of Surrey.

While reading The Burning Candle I felt like I was living back in medieval times. The dynamic characters evolve around Isabel and they evoke the love/hate feelings of a great story. Isabel struggles with what is right from wrong, as she deals with a hidden love for William while being married to Robert, abandoning her children, keeping secrets until no longer possible and pure angst in her life.

The best compliment I can give Lisa J. Yarde is that due to her outstanding research, I was able to experience everyday life during the medieval era, while learning about Isabel the Comtesse de Meulan. She was a strong woman for her times who endured more adversity than any woman ever should.

The Burning Candle by Lisa J. Varde is a fascinating story, with its numerous unpredictable turns – some violent, and some pleasant. It is written so well it was difficult to put down. I always enjoy learning about a historical person by reading a well-researched historical novel.

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