Saturday, January 31, 2009

God Is with Me through the Day and God Is with Me through the Night by Julie Cantrell

God Is with Me through the Day by Julie Cantrell
Geared Towards: Ages 4-7
Published By: Zonderkidz
Publication Date: March 2009
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-71562-7

Is there a child on earth that doesn't adore fuzzy, cuddly animals? If there is I have yet to meet him/her. They might not all be keen on getting up close and personal with all the animals, but in print or at a distance looking at sweet little animals can bring a joy like no other. I think that's what makes this book so marvelous. The rhyme is great, but the bright, close up pictures are so cute!

My daughters loved this book, and my 5 year old had a blast reading it on her own. With colorful, oversized font it is perfect for younger children to follow along with while learning to read or when reading on their own. The pictures are downright adorable. And the message Cantrell shows us through her text and the incorporated pictures is that no matter how small we are or what we do in a day we are strong, protected, and loved- both by our families and by our God.

It's nice to have a book that reassures children that even in today's world they can still have fun being kids, and that God will never leave or forsake them. Even when times are scary or we feel alone, our spirit can rest easily because we know God will never forsake us. Just as in Bible times God took care of His people (Jonah and David were mentioned by name.), so does He do today.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

God Is with Me through the Night by Julie Cantrell
Geared Towards: Ages 4-7
Published By: Zonderkidz
Publication Date: March 2009
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-71563-4

Nighttime can be even scarrier than day, as any parent knows. When the sun goes down, that's when all the spooky noises, shadows, and scary things come out to play. But, as Cantrell shows in her follow-up to God Is with Me through the Day, night doesn't have to be scary. With this book the author shows how even when playtime is done and the time has come for bed, we don't have to be frightened or feel alone. God is always with us- day or night. He is big, strong, and powerful. Just like he protected Daniel from the lions, He will protect us. We can bravely close our eyes, and drift off in to a restful sleep knowing that God will always be there loving and watching over us.

As in the first book, God is with Me through the Night is full of loveable animal pictures. All of the included shots show the animals in such expressive ways that it's really easy to see how they might be feeling the implied emotions (love, fear, loneliness, etc). I think they're suited perfectly for this book, and again, with the great font choice, really complete the whole layout package.

This is a set of books I think any young child would greatly enjoy. Fun to read, and so easy to look at over and over again.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

Friday, January 30, 2009

Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine Mommy Blogger Awards 2009

I'm certain I won't win because A.) there are way too many other awesome mommy bloggers, B.) Ready Set Read Reviews hasn't been around that long to gain that much readership. However, I saw Brimful Curiosities post about the Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine Mommy Blogger Awards for 2009, and I thought "why not?!" Ready Set Read Reviews is, after all, a blog about books for kids, and Scholastic just happens to be a major children's book publisher. So, while I might not have the umph to truly put me in the running, I figured it couldn't hurt to post here. If anyone thinks this blog is worth nominating, I certainly won't stop you. ;) Likewise, if you don't think so that's cool too. They allow you to nominate as many mommy bloggers as you'd like, so even if you don't nominate me be sure to put in a nomination for your favorites. It's gonna come down to the top 5 when all is said and done.

DETAILS (as seen on the Scholastic site):

Mommy Bloggers Rule!

Mommy blogs are online diaries written by those of you on the front lines of changing diapers, packing lunches, and helping with homework. They’re funny, moving, sometimes outrageous, and they offer a big dose of "I can relate!"

We invite you to nominate your favorite mommy blogs for our first-ever
Best Mommy Blogger awards. (If you're new to blogs, try visiting those in the "Blogs You Love" box below the entry form.) We'll close out the nomination period on February 13, 2009, and narrow down the nominees to a select list. Then, beginning February 23, we invite you back to this page to vote on the finalists.

The five winners will be announced on the Web site prior to appearing in the June/July 2009 issue of Scholastic Parent & Child magazine.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

QUESTIONS from little hearts by Kathleen Long Bostrom

QUESTIONS from little hearts by Kathleen Long Bostrom
Illustrated By: Elena Kucharik
Geared Towards: no age specified
Published By: Tyndale Kids
Publication Date: February 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-4143-2998-7

As a Christian mother I am always looking for sound and solid ways to answer the questions my girls ask or may ask regarding God, prayer, Heaven, angels, etc. And let me tell you, it's not always easy to know exactly how you should present the answers. This is why I was so excited to discover QUESTIONS from little hearts.

QUESTIONS from little hearts by Kathleen Long Bostrom and illustrated by Elena Kucharik (illustrator for the popular 80's CareBears) is perfect to have on hand for those times when your young child has a theological question you're looking for just the right answer on. A combination of four Little Blessings books, broken down in to four sections, these 288 pages will well equip you for any question your child might pose about God, prayer, angels, and Heaven.

The first part of each section takes childlike questions, such as "Do you love me always or just when I'm good?", and puts them together in a captivating rhyme format. This makes it super easy for young children of all ages, to relate and understand the questions on their own level. That's not all. If we have the questions that still leaves us lacking the answers, which is where the second part of each section comes in. Here we find God's answers to His precious young children's inquries. Again comprised of a delightful rhyming composition, children will be easily able to follow along as they gain straighforward and easy to understand answers to their questions.

Along with finally having a chance to get their many questions answered, children will enjoy the sweetly adorable multicultural illustrations. Parents will relish finding having a kid friendly answer guide at their fingertips. Better yet, you won't feel like you're just doling out uninformed or unsubstantiated information either. With a handy dandy Biblical reference guide at the end of each section, parents will be able to quickly follow up with Biblical support on each answer the previous poetic response from God gave. In this way you'll be able to show your child how God's answers can truly be found in His Word, and you'll likely be laying a foundation to teach them to go to the Word in the future when they have a question for God that they just can't seem to understand themselves. This is a lifelong lesson every Christian should be taught.

I really enjoyed this book. I think the poem question and answer style keeps it interesting and encourages children to voice, in their own ways, the questions they have about God. Instead of being afraid to ask, they'll be inspired. Having two little girls myself, I know this is a book my family and I will truly benefit from having in our library. A great resource for anyone who has or deals with young children in a Christian setting.

On a side note, I didn't see anywhere where an exact age recommendation was listed for this book I'd say though that it is geared for any child old enough to really ask the questions included, so maybe from ages 3-8 or thereabouts.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Samantha at the Crossroads by SK Smith

Samantha at the Crossroads by SK Smith
Gear Towards: YA-Adult
Published By: SynergEbooks
Publication Date: August 2008

It's not often that I come to a book I can't make myself get through. Unfortunately, Samantha at the Crossroads, an e-book by author SK Smith was one of those books.

Samantha at the Crossroads is described by the author as "The volatile 1960s find thirteen year old Samantha in a small town in rural Montana, groping her way into her future as America is doing likewise." Based on the description I decided to give the author's review request a go. Not ordinarily the first book I'd gravitate towards, but there's nothing like getting out of your comfort zone from time to time. I figured worst case scenario it wouldn't be my favorite book, but as it turns out I simply could not finish this book. Infact, I couldn't even making it a 1/3 of the way through the some odd 388 pages.

No disrespect to the author intended in any way, because I'm sure she put her heart and soul into this, her creation. For me though, it just wasn't working. The story wasn't gripping enough to keep me entertained, and I found myself literally zoning out while reading. I was still reading the words, but my brain had shut down by that point and wasn't processing any of it. Perhaps, entertainment value aside, I could have made it through the book if it was even well written. But again, unfortunately, I found the writing style at times to be overly wordy, sloppy, and disjointed. I guess if I had to put my finger on one thing in particular it would be the flow that I had issues with. At certain places there seemed information was included that really had no bearing whatsoever on anything in the story. It was hard for me to stay focused when I couldn't always find a common ground linking all the pieces of the story together.

I debated for a while what to do about this review because I didn't want to be unfair to the author who came to me with the review opportunity. I considered writing the author and informing her of my dilemma, and just leaving it at that. Posting no review. To simply say I couldn't write a fair review because I couldn't get in to the story wouldn't really have been fair either though, because there were aspects about the book I felt strongly about. Yet I still wanted to be certain I wasn't overanalyzing in any way which would lead me to give an unfair review. I even asked my 'sister' what she thought I should do. As someone who writes herself, I knew she'd be able to give me some advice upon taking a quick look at the book herself. And after reading a few snippets, she came away with the same feeling I had about it.

As I already said, I did not complete the story. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I really did not enjoy the format, styling, or quality of the writing (as stated already). So, while I don't think I could give a fair overall rating for this book, I believe it's only fair for me to share what opinions I do have.

In my opinion, and again I truly hope the author understands I'm only one person and most certainly my opinion would not necessarily be shared by everyone else (I actually discovered a very positive review of this title here.), I think this book is rather unfinished. Not having completely read the book I can't speak on the story itself, but on the composition I can say I think there's definitely room for some serious editing.

I hope the author will understand that I do not mean to criticize or tear down her work. I only wish to impart my thoughts, since she did ask for a review. I think with a little work this could very well likely turn in to a decent book. Just at the moment I think it's coming up short a bit.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Seek and Find Bible Stories by Carl Anker Mortensen

Seek and Find Bible Stories by Carl Anker Mortensen
Illustrated By: Jose Perez Montero
Geared Towards: Ages 6-9
Published By: Zonderkidz
Publication Date: October 2008
ISBN-13: 9780310717591

Parents, grandparents, educators... Do you remember Where's Waldo? the hidden picture books in which readers had to locate Waldo with his red and white stripped hat? If you have fond memories of this book line like I do, then you'll be thrilled to learn that Zonderkidz has recently released a very similar style book in which readers travel through the Old and New Testaments of the Bible searching out Mike. Mike is a young boy who enjoys his Bible stories so much that he imagines himself right into the middle of them.

Children will enjoy searching for Mike in colorful, incredibly detailed and artfully captured two page story layouts from 28 of the best Bible stories ever told. But wait, the fun doesn't stop there. For each double page layout there's also a short story blurb that ties in with the illustration, then there's a short Bible reading section so that you can relate back to the original Biblical tale, and there's also several questions that test both the reader's understanding of the Bible story and observation skills [based on the picture].

I believe parents and teachers will be very pleased with this Seek and Find book because it really does combine the best of both worlds. Through the pages of this fun book children can take an exploratory learning adventure through some of the most significant stories of the Bible. Meanwhile they'll enjoy the challenge of seeking out Mike and the other listed items. Entertaining and educational, this is a book your children can pick up over and over again. I have to say that while the ages listed on the book are 6-9yrs, I definitely think slightly younger children could do this book as well. Don't get me wrong, it's not an easy book. It's challenging, but it's so much fun. My 5 year old was able to do it, it just took her some time to look. She enjoys that though, and I think it's a great way to stimulate her cognitive skills. The fact that my daughter can read certainly didn't hurt because she was able to read for herself what she was supposed to look for. This certainly isn't a prerequisite though as a child who is unable to read but who has the skill to stay focused while searching out the hidden items could easily have an older sibling or adult read for them what they're to look for.

On a side note, we gave a copy of this book to our best friend's 6 year old for Christmas, and he too loved it.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kids' Tea Party Coming Up At Borders

Received the e-mail about this this morning, and figured I'd share here in case anyone else was interested. Borders book store will be hosting a Kids' Tea Party at participating locations this Saturday, January 24 from 2p-4p. They'll be having stories, games, singalongs, and then a tea party to wrap things up. Even mom and dad can get in on the festivities because Border's Seattle's Best Coffee cafes will be hosting tea samplings at the same time.

I have to double check my work schedule, but I'm hoping I'm not due in until later in the afternoon so that I can take my girls to this. I always miss the great parties they have for kids, and I'm thinking this one in particular would be really fun. If you're interested in attending, check with your local Borders now to see if they'll be participating!

Store Locator:

Plus, check out the great Seattle's Best coupon midway down the Store Locator page. *two thumbs up*

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ralphina, the Roly-Poly by Claudia Chandler

Ralphina, the Roly-Poly by Claudia Chandler
Geared Towards: Newborn thru Age 8
Published By: Leathers Publishing
Publication Date: January 2008
ISBN-13: 978-1585974627

If you have or know of a child as fascinated by roly-poly bugs as my 5 year old daughter is, then this is the book for you. Written and illustrated by Claudia Chandler, passionate gardner and educator, this is a story about a lonely little roly-poly named Ralphina.

Ralphina is a happy bug, but what would make her even happier would be a friend. She knows there's a little boy that lives in the house across the garden, and Ralphina thinks it would just be the greatest if she could get that little boy to play with her. The trouble is, Ralphina is very tiny. How ever will she manage to gain the boy's attention, let alone get him to play with her?

Pick up your copy today to see what lengths she'll go to to find a new friend to play with. And while you're at it I bet you'll learn a fact or two you didn't already know about roly-polies. Like, for instance, did you know that a roly-poly breathes through gills? I certainly didn't!

Ralphina, the Roly-Poly is a brightly illustrated, book that will not only teach readers some fun facts about roly-polies, but will also teach them to be creative, to problem solve, to pay attention to the world around them, and to never ever discount that friends come in all shapes and sizes.

A beautiful story told through the eyes of a seemingly insignificant little creature, this is a book that will inspire you to look at nature and friendships through brand new eyes.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Day With My Dad & A Day With My Dad At the Beach by Lance Waite


Lance Waite is the author of both A Day with My Dad and A Day with My Dad at the Beach . From the day his first daughter was born, Lance knew his life would change. The first six months he was amazed and in awe of this tiny new person—her little foot fit perfectly in his hand. The greatest pleasure of his life has been caring for his two daughters, teaching them, and being a friend to them as they’ve grown older. Watching them become young adults, marry, and create families of their own will be difficult—but oh so rewarding!

He hopes these stories will remind them of how much they are loved, as they grow older and find the happiness that all parents dream of. Lance’s family has inspired him to create fun and interesting stories that can be enjoyed by parents and kids alike, and encourage families to seek out their own adventures together.

Lance and his family live in San Diego, California.


Manuela Pentangelo lives in Busnago, Italy, near Milan, with her flowers, family and friends. She was born in Holland, but has lived all of her life in Italy. A student of architectural design, Manuela discovered that her dreams and goals lay elsewhere. She likes to say that she was born with a pencil in her hand, and she has happily realized that her path is to illustrate for children. Manuela often visits London, where she likes to sketch at the British Museum, and likes travelling to different places to find inspiration.

She is a member of the SCBWI.

A Note From the Author-

What Sets "A Day With My Dad" and "A Day With My Dad at the Beach" Apart?

1.The key to builiding great father daughter relationships is spending time togther and taking the time to listen. These books offers a unique approach to setting up the time and space for your kids to talk to you about anything.

2. So few books focus on the extraordinary relationship of fathers and daughters, especially at this young age. These books are a testament to the love of one such father and daughter.

3. Forget watching TV all day, these books encourages dads to get up and get their kids into the great outdoors!

A Day With My Dad by Lance Waite
Illustrated By: Manuela Pentangelo
Geared Towards: Ages 2-6
Published By: Parents Publishing Group
Publication Date: January 2008
ISBN-13: 978-1-60131-015-6

If you're a dad looking for a book to read to your little girl, or maybe a little girl looking for a book to read with your dad then look no further. A Day With My Dad is a wonderful choice. Join the author, Lance Waite, as he shares none other than a reminscient memory of a perfect dad and daughter day.

Take a trip down memory lane with Waite as he tells the story of spending a day away in the mountains with his daughter. Hiking, flying a kite, picnicing, and even taking a nap in the shade of a tree. These, and more, are things that take place on this duo's special day long nature adventure. There's nothing abnormally exciting about anything the pair does, but the excitement and joy of it all falls in the fact that they do it together.

Readers (grown ups too) will smile as they too will undoubtedly recall similar memories shared with their own fathers and/or daughters (even sons). And should no memories be there to draw on, then what better time than now to let this book serve as inspiration to get up and do something together. Our children are only young once, and they grow up so fast. Don't let too much time pass without making a point to share special moments like the ones that Lance and his daughter enjoyed.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

A Day With My Dad At the Beach by Lance Waite
Illustrated By: Manuela Pentangelo
Geared Towards: Ages 2-6
Published By: Parents Publishing Group
Publication Date: June 2008
ISBN-13: 978-1-60131-016-3

Commemorizing one of his favorite afternoon adventures with his youngest daughter, Lance Waite, has released yet another fabulous book. Meeting her at the bus stop after school, dad and daughter go on a tandem bike ride to, you guessed it, the beach. There they enjoy racing in the surf, searching for sea shells, building sand castles, and simply spending quality time together.

Tiring of the sand and water, the pair decides to walk down the beach to the pier. Their day is far from being over. On the pier they discover loads of fun to be had in the way of tasty burgers, ferris wheels, and spinning tea cups. But like all good things, their day frolicking at the water's edge must come to an end.

Later that night, this devoted dad reads his daughter a bedtime story as she, bathed and snuggled up warm in her bed, falls peacefully to sleep.

If you have heartstrings I guarantee you this sweet story will pull at them. Even more so than his first book, I totally adored this second release by Waite. As the daughter of a truly devoted dad myself, I found tears in my eyes reading this to my very own youngest daughter. My dad was killed when I was 14. I'm going to be 28 in a couple of months, yet never a day passes when I don't think of the man who meant so much to me growing up. The memories we formed together will last me a lifetime. So, even though it breaks my heart to know I'll never experience those joys with him again, it's books like this that make me realize how special those years I had him in my life really were. My husband is an incredible father to both of our little girls, and I hope that one day when they're grown they'll be able to share their own special memories with their dad like Lance has done here with his daughters. And even more so, I hope that others will continue to find inspiration in Waite's books. Don't wait (no pun intended) any longer to make those special memories with the ones you love. You never know how much time you'll have to make them.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts (and a few tears)

BROWSE INSIDE: Splat the Cat & Love, Splat by Rob Scotton

My girls and are a big fans of Rob Scotton's Russell the Sheep series, so I'm not sure how I missed that he had a Splat the Cat series out there. I only just a few minutes ago discovered it online, but I'm in love! I can guarantee there will be a review of both of these coming at some point in the near future. Cause I'll either be buying these ones or checking them out from the library. They both look way too cute to pass up!

Want to see what I mean? Just click the link below to use the awesome Browse Inside feature hosted by Harper Collins. You can't read the whole books; however, these previews give you a great sampling. I'm thoroughly head over heals for the illustrations, and the storyline, in Splat the Cat, sounds like something I could have written about my own daughter. Though, I'd like to point out, that she is not a cat. ;P

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Moon Shines Down by Margaret Wise Brown

The Moon Shines Down by Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrated By: Linda Bleck
Geared Towards: Ages 4-8
Published By: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: November 2008
ISBN-13: 978-1400312993

The Story Behind the Lost Manuscript...

The Moon Shines Down
the Author of Goodnight Moon

The Moon Shines Down is being published for the first time fifty-six years after the death of the beloved children's author Margaret Wise Brown.

Amazingly, this unpublished manuscript lay forgotten in a cedar trunk in a Vermont barn. When it wsa discovered, the onionskin paper had yellowed and the paperclips that held the pages together had rusted.

Based on the New England sampler prayer, "God Bless the Moon and God Bless Me," this soon-to-be classic is a prayer for God's blessing on the all the world's children.

However, the manuscript was incomplete, too short for a standard size picture book. Children's book publisher, Laura Minchew, a longtime fan of Brown, took on the challenge to complete the work. Laura was able to match Margaret Wise Brown's writing style, capturing Brown's unique rhythms and rhyme schemes.

The wonder result you hold in your hands introduces a timeless Margaret Wise Brown book to delight a new generation of children the world over.

It's an honor to have been given the opportunity to review this book. As a HUGE fan of Brown's Goodnight Moon, I was really excited to see what Brown had instore for her readers with this newly discovered book. Though initially it started off really strong for me, it felt like with the progression of the book (and I'm assuming where Brown's portion left off and Michew began filling in) it got weaker. The story itself was still fairly consistant, but the rhyming and rhythm seemed to come up short.

Overall I found the story to be quite a pleasant read; opening up the discussion floor to discuss even simple prayers with your child. It was also fun to see so many different regions and countries featured. What a great way to introduce a child to other cultures, even if, albeit, in a very minute fashion. This would be the perfect book for reading at any time of day. If you asked me, I'd say that right before bedtime seems to be the most ideal opportunity to curl up with this one. Your children can relax with the sing song stanzas, enjoy the bright and bold illustrations that accompany them, and then you can use it as a jumping board to head right in to bedtime prayers.

Not my favorite book by Margaret Wise Brown. A good one though, certainly worth having been brought to life. And, please don't think that I'm trashing Michew when I say that I think the later half of the book was less than perfect. I do think that it didn't quite make it when compared to Browns' earlier portions, yet let's be honest. Can you imagine how hard it must be to try and complete someone else's manuscript? Then add to that the pressure of said manuscript belonging to someone so talented, amazing, and widely popular as Brown. No, Michew can't be faulted. She's not Brown, but she never claimed to be. Her attempt to complete this manuscript was a huge task, and I think that she did a pretty good job, all thing considered.

OUR RATING: 4 hearts

Friday, January 9, 2009

Stay Awake, Sally by Mitra Modarressi

Stay Awake, Sally by Mitra Modarressi
Geared Towards: Ages 4-8
Published By: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: October 2007
ISBN-13: 978-0399245459

Role reversal, anyone? Parents and kids alike will get a kick out of this comical story about a young raccoon, Sally, who has to take charge when her parents won't. For as most parents have undoubtedly experienced for themselves, when it comes to bedtime it's usually anything but a breeze. Nine times out of ten the kiddos will try to think up any excuse in the book to try and weasle a few extra minutes of "up" time out of you. Such is not the case in Stay Awake, Sally though.

It's getting late, and Sally is getting tired. But when she announces to her parents that she's going to get ready for bed, they do everything they can to try to get her to stay up and play. Sally knows she must bathe, brush her teeth, get her pjs on and head to bed in a timely manner or else she'll be too tired to go to school the next morning. Her goofy parents, however, don't let her go easily. Whining for her to join them in baking cookies, to playing games, to dancing to music outside and more. These parents do not want to take 'no' for an answer.

This easy reader is sure to be a hit with any young child because the humor is blatent and they'll likely be able to easily relate to the parents who want to stay up playing all night long. Stay Awake, Sally is a adorable look into role reversal at it's finest. And Modarressi's cute illustrations certainly don't hurt the tale any.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

Shhhhh! Everybody's Sleeping by Julie Markes

Shhhhh! Everybody's Sleeping by Julie Markes
Illustrated By: David Parkins
Geared Towards: Ages 3-6
Published By: Harper Collins
Publication Date: December 2004
ISBN-13: 978-0060537906

Oi vey! This book is one that we checked out of the library close to two months ago, and I'm still holding on to it in order to write a review. And you've got to understand, our library system only gives 2wk borrowing periods. That means, I've re-checked the book out 3x (max allowed is generally twice), plus I'm apparently now holding it hostage as late fees build up. So, again. Oi vey! LOL

I just had to write a review though because it was such an incredibly inventive and cute little book. Certainly I could have written the review without the book, but to be able to look at it while typing the review allows me to be able to share so much more about the great experience reading this one will be.

Shhhhh! Everybody's Sleeping is one of the best bedtime books I've ever read. It's very simplistic, and there's really not a lot of anything go on. As the title implies, everybody's sleeping. Everyone, that is, except for the little boy and his mom who is trying to coerce him into lying down. So, if the story is so simple due to everyone being asleep, you might ask, then why is this book so fantastic? Well, the answer to this is quite simple. The illustrations.

Not to discredit Markes on her writing ability by any means, but honestly without the illustrations by Parkins this book wouldn't have been anything special. This is a book where truly the collaboration of author and illustrator comes together to form a brilliant piece of work.

The very first dual page spread shows an illustration of the entire town dark and peaceful, with only a light on here and there. Then when the story begins we find the town teacher snuggled all warm and cozy, fast asleep, in her bed. Meh, you might say. Nothing special about that. Oh, but there is. Again, this is a book that fully relies on the illustrations to make it such a joy to read. You see, the teacher isn't asleep in just any old bed. No. Her bedroom appears to be set up in the middle of her classroom, with shelves of supplies lining the wall. Then you notice her bed. The headboard is made from a chalkboard, the footboard two small child desks. Her bedding has alphabets and numbers on it. Her nightstand is a school room chair. And let's not forget her lovey, brainy stuffed owl sleeping alongside her.

See what I mean? Very creative and inventive! The text, "The teacher is sleeping. School's done for the day." has a nice lulling sound to it, but it doesn't paint the picture the illustration itself does.

So it is throughout the whole book. We look in on the librarian, fast asleep in her library bedroom- bed and table lamp shaped like books. We check in on the policeman, asleep under his road blanket (having fallen asleep with a traffic whistle in his mouth and driving minature cars on the blanket roads) in his bed with it's traffic light posts and crosswalk signs. Next is the fireman, asleep in his giant firetruck bed. The doctor curled up in his hospital bed with a "Zzzz" health chart on the end. The grocer, asleep in his lettuce and cabbage bed, with the fruit box footboard and watermelon bedside lamp. There's also the post master sound asleep in his bed like wrapped parcels with a stamp bedspread on top. The farmer in his barn bed complete with hay stuffing, a sheep pillow, and cow blanket. Don't forget the baker, asleep with her mixing spoon in her gingerbread man pie bed alongside her bagette and cracker table. The gardener in his white picket fence bed, quietly dozing on his sunshine pillow with his grassy meadow blanket, alongside the flower pot nightstand. Plus the zookeeper in his bed of animals and even the President in his stately American flag and eagle bed.

The entire concept of the story is that the mom of the young child is trying to lull him to sleep by telling him about all the other people in town, who have big important jobs, but still have time to sleep. In the end the child cuddles up with his stuffed bunny, and drops off to dreamland.

It really is a fun and soothing story. I don't think we've actually read it at bedtime, though for obvious reasons, that'd be ideal. We have read this one countless times though, and both of my daughters (especially dd#2 who is 3) can't seem to get enough. Since I'm sure the library would really appreciate my finally returning this long over beauty, I am probably going to have to break down and buy a copy of our own. It's just that well loved already!

OUR RATING: 5 hearts (Did you think after that rave review we'd give it anything but?! hehe)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Passport Into The Wild by Jack Hanna

Passport Into The Wild by Jack Hanna
Geared Towards: Ages 9-12
Published By: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: September 2008
ISBN-13: 978-1400311385

If you're looking for a book that both your older kids and younger kids alike can enjoy, this here is one for you. In Jack Hanna's Passport Into The Wild readers go on a journey with Jack from continent to continent, taking in the animals sights and many interesting facts about each. Older kids will, obviously, gain more from the book than the younger ones. However, the pictures are gorgeous, and that alone will draw the younger readers' attention. Plus as you travel from continent to continent you get to collect visa stamps and animal picture stickers in your personal passport. Who wouldn't think that was fun?!

My daughters love animals and stickers, so needless to say this was a hit in this household- even if they aren't in the "geared towards" age group. I can see us reading this book for many years because the older the girls get the more they'll end up learning from the book. There are so many great facts about the continents, countries, and animals. Even I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Now if only there were enough passports for all of us. ;P

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

The Berenstain Bears Say Their Prayers & The Berenstain Bears Go To Sunday School by Mike Berenstain

The Berenstain Bears Say Their Prayers by Mike Berenstain (created by Stan & Jan Berenstain)
Geared Towards: 4-7
Published By: Zonderkidz
Publication Date: October 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-71246-6

During their team baseball game Brother notices Cousin Fred quietly standing on the mound with his head bowed and his eyes closed. Whatever could he be doing?, Brother wonders. Later in the dugout Brother inquires, and much to his surprise learns that Cousin Fred had been praying. Both Brother and Sister Bear pray at home, but usually they only do it at bedtime and usually they just pray for God to bless their friends and family. Brother didn't realize you could pray any time, any place about any thing.

Taking a page from Cousin Fred's book, Brother says his own prayer before going up to bat. However, he doesn't get what he prayed for, and Brother doesn't understand what happened. So he decides to talk to Cousin Fred about it. What Brother ends up learning is that God does answer our prayers- all of them. He just doesn't always answer them in the way we'd initially expect or even like.

I think this was a great story, and again brings an excellent topic to the table. I believe it reinforces the idea of prayer time not having to be a structured, only here and at this time, kind of thing. I also believe it will help encourage little ones to pray for even things that maybe they wouldn't think ranked high enough on God's importance scale to pray for otherwise. Brother didn't get what he prayed for, but he learned a valuable lesson. Children need to learn that God isn't a prayer ATM able and willing to immediately dole out whatever kind of withdraw you request. Sometimes the answer isn't what you'd like and sometimes it doesn't come in the way you'd expect. But what you can always count on is the fact that one way or another God will answer your prayers.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

The Berenstain Bears Go to Sunday School by Mike Berenstain (created by Stan & Jan Berenstain)
Geared Towards: 4-7
Published By: Zonderkidz
Publication Date: October 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-71248-0

When reminiscing about days gone by, Mama Bear realizes how much she misses the family attending church together on Sunday mornings. Once a weekly activity, now the Bear family has become so preoccupied with all their other going ons that they haven't been to church in ages. Knowing how important church is to them each as individuals and especially as a family, Mama decides to set her foot down and determines to her family back in the habit of going to church.

Brother and Sister, and even Papa, aren't too keen on the idea because it means they have to get up really early on the weekend. Mama assures them they'll have a good time at Sunday School and still be done in time to get to their other Sunday activities. Getting up and moving that first Sunday morning doesn't prove easy, but in the end the family does go to church and comes out all the better for it.

I come from a family that has always gone to church, and my girls have been mostly raised in the church as well. They both absolutely adore going to Sunday School, and actually on the mornings that maybe I just don't feel like crawling out of bed to get ready- they're the ones that help me do it. Church is such an important part of a Christian's life. I believe it's very important to take the chance to be around others of the same faith, to be filled with the Word, and to simply step back from everything else you focus on in your day to day life. At church your soul is restored, and you are given the perfect environment to put your focus fully on God. Not that you have to be at church to do this, but it's very instrumental in your relationship with God. And I do believe that going to church as a family not only strengthens your bond with God but with each other too.

I quite enjoyed this book, and I appreciate how the author took the opportunity to even include a Bible story (Noah's Ark). I'm not sure it's my favorite of the series because it didn't really seem to me like a natural portrayal of the Bear family. Them going to church is fine, great even. There was just something about the feel of the book as a whole that didn't seem as easy flowing to me when considering the entire series of original and new books.

Ooh, and one last thing I totally forgot to mention before now.

Each of the four books in this new series has a fun final page that gives you, the reader, a chance to discuss and actively apply the book's lesson(s) to your own life. With two questions from Brother and Sister bear and then two recommended activities to complete, readers can continue to learn from and apply the book's lessons even after they've finished reading.

OUR RATING: 4 hearts

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Berenstain Bears Go Christian!

Having grown up a fan of The Berenstain Bears series, I couldn't wait to start building a collection of the books for my own girls. Wholesome, helpful, and always entertaining, this is a line of books you simply can't go wrong with. As I've worked to grow our collection I've actually found myself going out of my way to look for specific books in the series just because I wanted the training material in them. Seriously, the authors always included such great moral lessons within their stories. Kids would read them for the sheer entertainment value, but they'd unknowingly garner helpful concepts and life lessons along the way.

So it's needless to say that I was absolutely thrilled to discover, late last year, that ZonderKidz has begun publishing a new line of The Berenstain Bears books. The original series has always included excellent morals within their stories, but seeing a line that actively talks about God really caught my eye. What a great way to take an already familiar product and really bump it up a notch. How many kids and families will be blessed simply because they pick up one of these books based on the characters alone due to their familiarity with the original series? As a mom who loves to introduce her girls to the books she read and fell in love with as a kid herself, I could not have been happier to discover these books.

A big thanks goes to Lindsey R at Zonderkidz for sending me the following Berenstain Bears books to review here at Ready Set Read Reviews. I am honored to have been given the opportunity to review the first four books in this new line, and excited to be able to add them to my daughters' growing Berenstain Bears collection.

Below are my reviews of the first two books. Since my girls won't leave me alone long enough, the other two will have to follow just a little later. It seems it's time to go to Grandma's, and mommy isn't moving quite quick enough to satisfy the impatient masses (ie the 3 and 5 yr old). :P

The Berenstain Bears and the Golden Rule by Mike Berenstain (created by Stan & Jan Berenstain)
Geared Towards: 4-7
Published By: Zonderkidz
Publication Date: October 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-71247-3

In this book the cubs learn about doing unto others. It's not always easy to keep in mind that we want to treat others the way we ourselves want to be treated. But living by the Golden Rule is something the Bear family strives for. When Mama and Papa Bear give Sister a gold heart locket with the Golden Rule inscribed, they use it as not only a reminder but a learning tool for Sister.

There's a new girl at school, but she's not quite as cool as all the rest. Sister knows in her heart she should befriend her; however, it's all too easy to go with the rest of the crowd. The gold locket hanging around her neck seems to weigh heavier than when she first put it on though, and it's then the realization hits her. She's not treating the new girl in a way she'd like to be treated. Infact she'd actually been in her shoes once when she was the new girl in town.

I loved how this story reinforced the idea of treating others the way you want to be treated. Berenstain used a great example which will be easy for children to relate to, and therein the idea will hopefully be even more likely to stick. It's a lesson every child (parents too) can use to be reminded of.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

The Berenstains God Loves You by Mike Berenstain (created by Stan & Jan Berenstain)
Geared Towards: 4-7
Published By: Zonderkidz
Publication Date: October 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-71250-3

When Sister tries out to be cast in the school play and Brother tries out for the school basketball team, each is desperately hoping to succeed. Neither does though, and each is devestated. Despite being named the Stage Manager and the Team Manager, both Sister and Brother are sad and feel like they've missed out on something great. Then to top things off, they have to walk home in the rain, and if that's not the icing on the top of the cake they simply don't know what is.

But the misery is tiresome. Mama and Papa understand the disappointed their cubs are feeling, but likewise they hate to see them sitting around feeling sorry for themselves. With the weather clearing, they suggest a family walk in the great outdoors. Along the way, the Bear family discovers a beautiful rainbow in the sky. Seeing a great opportunity to impart a bit of hope and wisdom into their cubs, Mama and Papa use the chance to tell them about God's love. Using the rainbow as an example, Mama and Papa explain to Sister and Brother how much God loves us no matter whether we fail or make mistakes. Just like a mama and papa always loves their child, no matter what, so does God love us, We might not be perfect, and God might not always love what we do but he always loves us. And He shows us this through His wonderful creation.

In this story children will be reminded to try their best, but to not be too upset if they don't always get what they want. Sometimes an even better offer comes that we weren't expecting, and if we'd have gotten what we wanted initially we'd have missed out one this greater opportunity. Through this book children will learn to be more appreciative of all they have and how much God does for them.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

I Received A Butterfly Award!

A huge THANK YOU goes out to Brimful Curiosities for fluttering the Butterfly Award my way. Apparently she really liked the name I came up with for my blog here, Ready Set Read Reviews, and it's that which won me this pretty award. So, thank you again! :)

Okay, so now I have to pass along the honor to a few more people. I can't tell if this award was initially designed to be passed along within the book blog realm or if it's open to be awarded to any blogs, but since Brimful decided to pass it along to those in various genres I think I'll do the same. Because, really, all the blogs I take the time to follow really deserve to win. There are simply too many great ones to list here though, so I'll do my best to narrow my awarding down to my top 5.

And the Butterfly Award goes to...

1.) Amanda: A Stay-at-home Mom's Point of View - You'll always find something interesting on her site. Whether it's a product review, giveaway, or even a cute tidbit about her darling girls. This is a blog that you shouldn't miss! (Plus, Amanda's a real sweetie herself.)

2.) Breeni Books - Breeni is a sweetheart, who loves books (like me). And no matter the cost to herself, she loves to share that love with everyone else. Her blog is filled with insightful reviews and book recommendations, book giveaways, and more. Plus if you're an author looking to find reviewers for your book, Breeni has taken the time to create both an interview blog where she focuses on other book review blogs out there; plus she has also put together a great POD blog list. Deserving of this award? Definitely!

3.) Diary of an Eccentric - This is another great book blog that I'm thrilled to have discovered. Anna is very nice and down to earth. Besides, she seems to have a great taste in books. ;)

4.) Sarcastic Mom - Because when you need a good belly laugh, Lotus is sure to please. Her posts are hysterical, she shares excellent photographs weekly, and simply put- her site is simply too much fun to pass up.

5.) Super Coupon Girl - She get's nominated because she's simply freaking awesome! Take one look at her blog and tell me otherwise. I dare you! (hehe)

Now, if your name is above, CONGRATULATIONS! You get to now play the role of award bestower. To play you must do all of the following:

1. Put the logo on your blog (Hmmm, thinking maybe it should read "best blog I know" not "I ever know". Oh well. LOL) 2. Add a link to the person who awarded you. 3. Award up to 10 other blogs. 4. Add links to those blogs on yours. 5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.

***UPDATE Monday January 12: Call me a grammar snob or an ingrate, but I just couldn't post the original grammatically incorrect award on my sidebar. I tried, but I just couldn't do it. LOL So, in to PSP7 I went, and out came the new and improved Butterfly Award. It's now on my sidebar, so check it out. And a big thanks, again, to Brimful Curiosities for thinking of me!***

Monday, January 5, 2009

FIRST Wild Blog Tour: Be Strong and Curvaceous by Shelley Adina

Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a Wild Card Tour. It's time to play a Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

Shelley Adina

and the book:

Be Strong and Curvaceous (All About Us Series, Book 3)

FaithWords (January 2, 2009)

Plus a Tiffany's Bracelet Giveaway! Go to Camy Tang's Blog and leave a comment on her FIRST Wild Card Tour for Be Strong and Curvaceous, and you will be placed into a drawing for a bracelet that looks similar to the picture below.


Shelley Adina is a world traveler and pop culture junkie with an incurable addiction to designer handbags. She knows the value of a relationship with a gracious God and loving Christian friends, and she's inviting today's teenage girls to join her in these refreshingly honest books about real life as a Christian teen--with a little extra glitz thrown in for fun! In between books, Adina loves traveling, listening to and making music, and watching all kinds of movies.

It's All About Us is Book One in the All About Us Series. Book Two, The Fruit of my Lipstick came out in August 2008. Book Three, Be Strong and Curvaceous, came out January 2, 2009. And Book Four, Who Made You A Princess?, comes out May 13, 2009.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:
List Price: $ 9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (January 2, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446177997
ISBN-13: 978-0446177993


BE CAREFUL WHAT you wish for.

I used to think that was the dumbest saying ever. I mean, when you wish for something, by definition it’s wonderful, right? Like a new dress for a party. Or a roommate as cool as Gillian Chang or Lissa Mansfield. Or a guy noticing you after six months of being invisible. Before last term, of course I wanted those wishes to come true.

I should have been more careful.

Let me back up a little. My name is Carolina Isabella Aragon Velasquez . . . but that doesn’t fit on school admission forms, so when I started first grade, it got shortened up to Carolina Aragon—Carly to my friends. Up until I was a sophomore, I lived with my mother and father, my older sister Alana and little brother Antony in a huge house in Monte Sereno, just south of Silicon Valley. Papa’s company invented some kind of security software for stock exchanges, and he and everyone who worked for him got rich.

Then came Black Thursday and the stock market crash, and suddenly my mom was leaving him and going to live with her parents in Veracruz, Mexico, to be an artist and find herself. Alana finished college and moved to Austin, Texas, where we have lots of relatives. Antony, Papa, and I moved to a condo about the size of our old living room, and since Papa spends so much time on the road, where I’ve found myself since September is boarding school.

The spring term started in April, and as I got out of the limo Papa sends me back to Spencer Academy in every Sunday night—even though I’m perfectly capable of taking the train—I couldn’t help but feel a little bubble of optimism deep inside. Call me corny, but the news that Vanessa Talbot and Brett Loyola had broken up just before spring break had made the last ten days the happiest I’d had since my parents split up. Even flying to Veracruz, courtesy of Papa’s frequent flyer miles, and being introduced to my mother’s boyfriend hadn’t put a dent in it.

Ugh. Okay, I lied. So not going there.

Thinking about Brett now. Dark, romantic eyes. Curly dark hair, cut short because he’s the captain of the rowing team. Broad shoulders. Fabulous clothes he wears as if he doesn’t care where he got them.

Oh, yeah. Much better.

Lost in happy plans for how I’d finally get his attention (I was signing up to be a chem tutor first thing because, let’s face it, he needs me), I pushed open the door to my room and staggered in with my duffel bags.

My hands loosened and I dropped everything with a thud.

There were Vuitton suitcases all over the room. Enough for an entire family. In fact, the trunk was so big you could put a family in it—the kids, at least.

“Close the door, why don’t you?” said a bored British voice, with a barely noticeable roll on the r. A girl stepped out from behind the wardrobe door.

Red hair in an explosion of curls.

Fishnet stockings to here and glossy Louboutin ankle boots.

Blue eyes that grabbed you and made you wonder why she was so . . . not interested in whether you took another breath.


How come no one had told me I was getting a roommate? And who could have prepared me for this, anyway?

“Who are you?”

“Mac,” she said, returning to the depths of the wardrobe. Most people would have said, “What’s your name?” back. She didn’t.

“I’m Carly.” Did I feel lame or what?

She looked around the door. “Pleasure. Looks like we’re to be roommates.” Then she went back to hanging things up.

There was no point in restating the obvious. I gathered my scattered brains and tried to remember what Mama had taught me that a good hostess was supposed to do. “Did someone show you where the dining room is? Supper is between five and six-thirty, and I usually—”

“Carrie. I expected my own room,” she said, as if I hadn’t been talking. “Whom do I speak to?”

“It’s Carly. And Ms. Tobin’s the dorm mistress for this floor.”

“Fine. What were you saying about tea?”

I took a breath and remembered that one of us was what my brother calls couth. As opposed to un. “You’re welcome to come with me and my friends if you want.”

Pop! went the latches on the trunk. She threw up the lid and looked at me over the top of it, her reddish eyebrows lifting in amusement.

“Thanks so much. But I’ll pass.”

Okay, even I have my limits. I picked up my duffel, dropped it on the end of my bed, and left her to it. Maybe by the time I got back from tea—er, supper—she’d have convinced Ms. Tobin to give her a room in another dorm.

The way things looked, this chica would probably demand the headmistress’s suite.

* * *

“What a mo guai nuer,” Gillian said over her tortellini and asparagus. “I can’t believe she snubbed you like that.”

“You of all people,” Lissa agreed, “who wouldn’t hurt someone’s feelings for anything.”

“I wanted to—if I could have come up with something scathing.” Lissa looked surprised, as if I’d shocked her. Well, I may not put my feelings out there for everyone to see, like Gillian does, but I’m still entitled to have them. “But you know how you freeze when you realize you’ve just been cut off at the knees?”

“What happened to your knees?” Jeremy Clay put his plate of linguine down and slid in next to Gillian. They traded a smile that made me feel sort of hollow inside—not the way I’d felt after Mac’s little setdown, but . . . like I was missing out on something. Like they had a secret and weren’t telling.

You know what? Feeling sorry for yourself is not the way to start off a term. I smiled at Jeremy. “Nothing. How was your break? Did you get up to New York the way you guys had planned?”

He glanced at Gillian. “Yeah, I did.”

Argh. Men. Never ask them a yes/no question. “And? Did you have fun? Shani said she had a blast after the initial shock.”

Gillian grinned at me. “That’s a nice way of saying that my grandmother scared the stilettos off her. At first. But then Nai-Nai realized Shani could eat anyone under the table, even my brothers, no matter what she put in front of her, so after that they were best friends.”

“My grandmother’s like that, too,” I said, nodding in sympathy. “She thinks I’m too thin, so she’s always making pots of mole and stuff. Little does she know.”

It’s a fact that I have way too much junk in my trunk. Part of the reason my focus is in history, with as many fashion design electives as I can get away with, is that when I make my own clothes, I can drape and cut to accentuate the positive and make people forget that big old negative following me around.

“You aren’t too thin or too fat.” Lissa is a perfect four. She’s also the most loyal friend in the world. “You’re just right. If I had your curves, I’d be a happy woman.”

Time to change the subject. The last thing I wanted to do was talk about my body in front of a guy, even if he belonged to someone else. “So, did you guys get to see Pride and Prejudice—The Musical? Shani said you were bribing someone to get tickets.”

“Close,” Gillian said. “My mom is on the orchestra’s board, so we got seats in the first circle. You’d have loved it. Costume heaven.”

“I would have.” I sighed. “Why did I have to go to Veracruz for spring break? How come I couldn’t have gone to New York, too?”

I hoped I sounded rhetorical. The truth was, there wasn’t any money for trips to New York to see the hottest musical on Broadway with my friends. Or for the clothes to wear once I got there—unless I made them myself.

“That’s it, then.” Gillian waved a grape tomato on the end of her fork. “Next break, you and Lissa are coming to see me. Not in the summer—no one in their right mind stays in the city in July. But at Christmas.”

“Maybe we’ll go to Veracruz,” Lissa suggested. “Or you guys can come to Santa Barbara and I’ll teach you to surf.”

“That sounds perfect,” I said. Either of Lissa’s options wouldn’t cost very much. New York, on the other hand, would. “I like warm places for my winter holidays.”

“Good point,” Gillian conceded. “So do I.”

“Notice how getting through the last term of junior year isn’t even on your radar?” Jeremy asked no one in particular. “It’s all about vacations with you guys.”

“Vacations are our reward,” Gillian informed him. “You have to have something to get you through finals.”

“Right, like you have to worry,” he scoffed, bumping shoulders with her in a chummy way.

“She does,” Lissa said. “She has to get me through finals.”

While everyone laughed, I got up and walked over to the dessert bar. Crème brulée, berry parfaits, and German chocolate cake. You know you’re depressed when even Dining Services’ crème brulée—which puts a dreamy look in the eyes of just about everyone who goes here—doesn’t get you excited.

I had to snap out of it. Thinking about all the things I didn’t have and all the things I couldn’t do would get me precisely nowhere. I had to focus on the good things.

My friends.

How lucky I was to have won the scholarship that got me into Spencer.

And how much luckier I was that in two terms, no one had figured out I was a scholarship kid. Okay, so Gillian is a scholarship kid, too, but her dad is the president of a multinational bank. She thinks it’s funny that he made her practice the piano so hard all those years, and that’s what finally got her away from him. Who is my father? No one. Just a hardworking guy. He was so proud of me when that acceptance letter came that I didn’t have the heart to tell him there was more to succeeding here than filling a minority quota and getting good grades.

Stop it. Just because you can’t flit off to New York to catch a show or order up the latest designs from Fashion Week doesn’t mean your life is trash. Get ahold of your sense of proportion.

I took a berry parfait—blueberries have lots of antioxidants—and turned back to the table just as the dining room doors opened. They seemed to pause in their arc, giving my new roommate plenty of time to stroll through before they practically genuflected closed behind her. She’d changed out of the fishnets into heels and a black sweater tossed over a simple leaf-green dress that absolutely screamed Paris—Rue Cambon, to be exact. Number 31, to be even more exact. Chanel Couture.

My knees nearly buckled with envy.

“Is that Carly’s roommate?” I heard Lissa ask.

Mac seemed completely unaware that everyone in the dining room was watching her as she floated across the floor like a runway model, collected a plate of Portobello mushroom ravioli and salad, and sat at the empty table next to the big window that faced out onto the quad.

Lissa was still gazing at her, puzzled. “I know I’ve seen her before.”

I hardly heard her.

Because not only had the redhead cut into line ahead of Vanessa Talbot, Dani Lavigne, and Emily Overton, she’d also invaded their prime real estate. No one sat at that table unless they’d sacrificed a freshman at midnight, or whatever it was that people had to do to be friends with them.

When Vanessa turned with her plate, I swear I could hear the collective intake of breath as her gaze locked on the stunning interloper sitting with her back to the window, calmly cutting her ravioli with the edge of her fork.

“Uh oh,” Gillian murmured. “Let the games begin.”

© 2008 by Shelley Adina.

Used by permission of the author and Hachette Book Group USA.

I just the other day received a copy of this book for review, so be watching for that to be posted shortly.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

YA BOOK BLOG TOUR: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Geared Towards: Age 14 and up
Published By: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: September 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0-7636-3931-0

About the Author:
Patrick Ness is an award-winning novelist and a literary critic for the Guardian. He has also written for England's Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and taught creative writing at Oxford Univerity. About The Knife Letting Go, he says, "Information is absolutely everywhere today- texts and e-mails and messaging- so much it feels like you can't get away from it. I began to wonder what it would be like to be in a town where you really couldn't get away. How could you keep hold of who you are? What price would you be willing to pay to save yourself?" Patrick Ness was born in Virginia and currently lives in London. This is his first book for young adults.

(Ness recently was awarded the Guardian children's fiction prize. Click here to read the article published on

"Award winning author Patrick Ness creates a gritty dystopian thriller in which a boy on the brink of manhood must run from a town where all thoughts can be heard- and where the passage to adulthood embodies a horrible secret."

Wow, if ever I wanted a truly chilling book to read as a young adult, this book would have completely fit the bill. The world Ness has created is so crazy spooky, yet in many ways it's incredibly similar to our own. Don't be deceived- it's very different from our own world. The similarities there though are what make this world- this story- that much more believable.

Todd Hewitt is an average boy living in an average world. Well, the world itself is actually anything by average when likened to our own existence. But for Todd, it is average and even normal. All Todd has ever known is the world of Prentisstown where every man's, boy's and creature's throughts aren't just his own. Infected by the "Noise" germ after coming to the New World, there's no known cure for the noise sickness. There's also no one left uninfected. All the women have been killed by the virus, and Todd is the only living "child" left.

Complacent in his albeit strange but normal to him existence, Todd is terrified to find a spot of silence in the swamps. With the noise constantly going there should never be any silence so deep and so pure anywhere near the town. So what can the eerie quiet be? Spackle- the aliens responsbile for releasing the "Noise" germ? No, couldn't be them, as they were all killed off after the Great War. Yet, what could the source of the silence be? And what could it possibly mean?

When everything Todd has ever known to be true comes crashing down, he quickly discovers that the silence in the swamps is the very least of his worries. Infact, that silence may just be the key to his survival.

What Ness has done with The Knife of Never Letting Go is nothing short of amazing. A gripping story so full of terror and deceit, but it's intertwined with plenty of happy moments, hope, excitement, and even love. Readers will find themselves immediately drawn to the complex cast of characters, environment, and storyline. This intense story made me laugh, made me cry, and made me feel all the emotions in between. I loved how indepth Ness got with his world and beautifully developed cast of characters without making it overwhelming. As a fan of the horror/thriller genre, I was truly pleased to find that Ness paced himself and stuck to this genre instead of veering off. A few tweeks here and there and this would have easily fallen in to the sci-fi category; which I generally am not one for delving in to.

Over all, I think the story found in The Knife of Never Letting Go, was a great coming of age story. It goes a long way to show that you can never truly believe everything you're told. Even if you grow up in an environment that gives you no reason to be suspect. That's not to say that you should doubt everything. More so it means to simply be more aware of your surroundings, and don't base your entire existance on the ideas of others. Learn to think for yourself, study, and genuinely play an active role in your own destiny. We have parents and rules for a reason, but we shouldn't even rely solely on them because when we are eventually out on our own if we haven't had a chance to see the real world for what it is then we're going to be worse off than had we not been sheltered from the beginning.

Book one in a three book Chaos Walking series, I know I personally can hardly wait for the next installment due out this Spring/Summer of 2009. The Knife of Letting Go was an absolute page turner that even adults, like myself, will thoroughly enjoy. Just be prepared because Ness does leave you completely hanging with its cliffhanger ending.

One last side note, there is some rough language in this story, which I'm not entire certainly was necessary. I understand why the author chose to use it, but I just wonder if maybe there could have been a way for him to portray his character's emotions without being quite so brash in the language department. As an adult I have read worse by far, but considering the age bracket this book is geared to I just think it might have been better suited to have toned down the language in a few places.

**Thanks so much to Candlewick Press for giving me this opportunity to review and host for this blog tour.**

OUR RATING: 5 hearts