Early Book Review: A Last Chance Christmas by Vicki Lewis Thompson

A Last Chance Christmas is the latest in the Sons of Chance book by Vicki Lewis Thompson. It is currently scheduled for release in digital format on December 1 2014 and in paperback on November 18, 2014. Ben Radcliffe has not had the best family life, and plans on never having a family of his own to avoid repeating his father’s mistakes. But when he delivers a special present to the Last Chance Ranch Ben catches a glimpse of what family could be. 

Genealogist and academic Molly Gallagher is all about family. And even if Ben's secrets make him as skittish as a wild mustang, there's nothing Molly loves more than an enigma. Can the magic of Christmas, and the Last Chance Ranch, help this pair trust each other, and Ben to trust himself?

A Last Chance Christmas is the latest installment of a series with heart. Like threats of the books, this one can stand on its own, but is even better if you have read the other books in the series. Ben is a saddle maker, and it is his custom work that brings him to Last Chance Ranch. To make his delivery of a surprise saddle look less suspicious to the family’s matriarch, it is said that he is looking to buy a horse and is welcome to stay for a few days to decide, and because of the weather. Molly is working on the family’s genealogy and staying at the ranch to get to know that side of the family and to research. She is not planning on staying for Christmas, or on finding love. Both characters are well done, but I will admit that I found Ben to have more depth than Molly. He had some big issues in his past, and hopefully we will see the pair working through them in future books. Molly was just a little to happy, a little too perfect, to feel real to me. However, the story came together well and made me chuckle a few times. 

A Last Chance Christmas was a good, but not great, read from Thompson. I love her writing, but found the situations here occasionally forced and not as compelling as I normally find her work. I will keep reading the series, and have full faith that Thompson’s next book will grab me full force like I have come to expect from her. 

Blog Tour: Trailer Reveal for Renee Donne's YA Novel HUNTER

Anaiah Press is proud to present the trailer reveal for YA novel HUNTER by Renee Donne.

Hunter coverMoving across the country isn’t Hunter’s ideal start to her Junior year of high school. She has no friends to hang out with, no beaches to lounge on, and she’s living just a few miles from the secluded hiking trail where her father died when she was a baby.

Living in Wyoming isn’t all bad, though, thanks to Logan, the handsome veterinary assistant at the animal clinic where she lands an after school job. And he seems just as interested in her as she is in him.

As Hunter begins to settle into her new home, she learns more about the circumstances surrounding her father’s tragic death, and it may not have been the accident everyone believes. Something dangerous lurks in the woods, and Hunter might be the next victim.

Release Date: June 9, 2015
Add HUNTER to Goodreads!
And now for the trailer...

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About The Author
Renee DonneRenee Donne is a native Floridian with a penchant for writing books with a western theme. In her head she's a world traveler and an amateur chef. In real life, she's a hometown girl with an affinity for fine wine and good friends. Her favorite place to write is sitting on her veranda, overlooking the beach.

Blog Tour: Cover Reveal for John Davidson's YA novel BRICKS!

Today Anaiah Press is proud to present the cover reveal for John Davidson's YA novel BRICKS!

Bricks Banner
Sixteen-year old Cori Reigns learns that not all tornadoes take you to magical places. Some take your house, your school, and life as you knew it. Struggling to put the pieces of her life back together, Cori learns to rebuild what the storm destroyed by trusting a family she didn't know she had and by helping friends she never appreciated.

BRICKS release February 3, 2015 but you can add BRICKS on Goodreads today!
And now for the cover...
Bricks cover
John D authorAbout the Author:
Married to my bride for twenty-four years, I have an amazing son and a wonderful daughter. Born and raised in central Oklahoma, I work in education, first as a teacher now in technology curriculum. I write. I read. And in the summer I make snow cones. Find John on Twitter @jdavidsonwrites or connect with him at his website and on Goodreads.

10 Great Vacation Reads

When relaxing on the beach, poolside, fireside or anywhere else on vacation or even a fun long fall weekend the best bet is to go with a paperback. Not only is it easier and lighter to hold, but it also tends to be less expensive. That way if it is lost, left behind somewhere or damaged you will not be as upset at the loss. Here are my top ten picks, in no particular order.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is fairly well known now because of the movie, but the book is still a great read. If you don't know the general idea of the book, then here is a quick run down. Henry and Clare are a married couple very much in love. However, Henry randomly gets transported to different times in his life. The narration of the book gives us the thoughts of both Clare and Henry at all the different points in time, and we see great character development. This book is a great romance with thought provoking aspects of science or speculative fiction. 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows has been very popular among book clubs that use my library. This book an enjoyable book that is told completely in the form of letters. It takes place in the 1940's and is a journey of discovery, friendship and fellowship. While the majority of this tale is fun and light there are some darker moments, since the Nazis occupied Guernsey, that is to be expected. I think that rounded out the total feel of the book.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards is a tear jerker, for those that enjoy heart wrenching reads. This story starts with the birth of fraternal twins. The boy, Paul, is completely healthy. However, his sister is not as lucky. The father tells his wife that the baby is dead, but he really sent the baby away with a nurse to be sent to a institution. The nurse couldn't bring herself to do it and raises the baby herself. The novel shows us the two very different households. One full of healthy successful people that are troubled and at odds, and one that had some grief and struggles but is full of love.

The Beach House by Jane Green is sentimental, light read about people at a crossroad in their lives. We see a widow that might have to sell her long time home, instead she converts her home into a bed and breakfast. He son returns home with mistakes and problems effecting him, and guests all arrive facing varies changes in their lives with decisions and realizations that need to be made. It is an easy read with several intersecting story lines, great for reading beach or pool side.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman is a all time favorite of mine. What is not to like? True love, adventure, pirates, giant rodents, death machines, this book has it all. If you do not already know the basics of this story via the movie, then shame on you. You need to read the book and watch the movie. In no particular order, and many times. Seriously, just do it. 

Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot is a fun mystery, real woman story with some romance. Heather Wells is a former teen idol, but then her boyfriend dumps her and her manger (and mother) runs off with all her money. Heather turns to a local college to work as a resident hall director for funds and free tuition. To make things both easier and harder the now ex-boyfriend's brother offers Heather free room and board for some clerical work in his Private Investigator business. Of course he is hunky, intelligent and honest. Unfortunately, a student in Heather's dorm is murdered and she ends up neck deep in the investigation. This is a cute, fun read with two more books in the series to follow it up.

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner is a very witty book. Candace asker her boyfriend for a break, and he apparently doesn't understand her request. He thinks that they are through and writes a humiliating article about larger women in bed. We then see Cannie deal with a variety of issues including her weight, being emotionally abused and deserted by her father and her sister's struggles. She changes and grows towards becoming a confident woman who loves herself. 

Metro Girl by Janet Evanovich is a great fun read. If you are a fan of the Stephanie Plum series than you will enjoy this as well. In this series we meet Alexandra Barnaby, otherwise known as Barney. She knows her way around cars and great one liners. She flies to Miami to get her brother out of what ever mess he's gotten himself into, only to find much more than she bargained for. Her brother is missing and she ends up working with Sam Hooker, another race car driver, even though he is everything she tries to avoid. Together they work to solve the mystery, save Barney's brother, and stay in one piece.

I'm the Vampire, That's Why by Michele Bardsley combines a divorcee soccer mom romance with vampires and werewolves. We see Jessica, divorced mother of two, get attacked my a crazed werewolf then turned vampire to save her life, unlife?, whatever. Of course all the supernatural guys are gorgeous and Jessica falls hard, but she needs to take care of her kids. The book, and the books that follow in the series, combine a lusty romance with smart, sassy characters trying to do the right thing and take care of their responsibilities.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley might not be the typical vacation read, but it is a great one. Rae, nicknamed Sunshine, is attacked and kidnapped by vampires while walking through the woods. She is brought to a huge house and chain to a wall, across from her is a vampire who is also chained. Her attackers leave the pair chain, one to die and one to kill, but Sunshine and her fellow prisoner defy their captives, convention and themselves. This is a great story, and there is much more to it but I would hate to destroy the surprises in store for those that do give this book a chance.

Vacation should always be relaxing and enjoyable, what better way to make it even better than a good book? I could keep on listing great books to read, but who really wants to spend their entire summer, or winter, vacation reading. Well, besides me.

Early Book Review: Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman

Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman is a children's chapter book that is currently scheduled for release on October 28 2014. Isabel, is so good at martial arts that she is called  Bunjitsu Bunny! She can throw farther, kick higher, and hit harder than anyone else! But she never hurts another creature unless she has to. This book is a series of short stories about Isabel's adventures. The chapter length tales are a combination of child-friendly scenarios and Eastern wisdom perfect for the youngest readers.

Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny is a transitional book, great for readers that have just made the jump to chapter books, and those that are starting to head in that direction. Isabel is a smart and strong bunny, she works hard to study both the physical and mental aspects of bunjitsu. She has the skill and strength to take down any opponent, but each brief story show readers that compromise, compassion, and respect for others can win most battles. Each of the stories are simple, and have a nice balance of entertainment and a lesson.

I would recommend Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny for transitional readers and up. the book is simple enough for readers that are still getting the hang of independent reading, without boring more advanced readers. I think that children learning martial arts, or struggling with the idea of using your mind and words before resorting to physical threats or action would particularly relate to the stories.

Book Review: Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire

Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire is a middle grade fantasy novel. Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years, and her mother lies dying as her brothers have left home. One brother was taken into the Tsar’s army and the other taken as a servant in the house of the local landowner. There is no food, and very little hope. Then a train arrives in the village carrying a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg—a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elena’s age. Lives collide and an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, and Baba Yaga complete with her house perched on chicken legs.

Egg and Spoon is a book that takes the prince and the pauper along with classic tales of Russian folklore and turns them on their heads. Elena is our pauper, she has nothing- no food and a dwindling family- but she does have innocence and a few people that care for her deeply. Ekaterina has so much food that she refuses to eat everything on her plate in fear of gaining weight, but has only a great aunt that cares for her. When their lives intertwine everything changes, for everyone. Baba Yaga, the firebird, and the ice dragon all have their roles to play- as does a legendary Faberge Egg and a visit to the Tsar. I found the story itself to be delightful, and I loved the twists to folklore and the preconceived notions that everyone had about themselves and each other. What I did find distracting was the pacing. I felt like it took me forever to read this book, but I wanted to found out how things came together enough to finish the book. It just seemed to plod along. 

Gregory Maguire is a name you might recognize as the author of Wicked and it's sequels. So it is no surprise to readers that know this to find the take on Baba Yaga is not what you might expect in Egg and Spoon. If you have not ventured into Maguire's adult fiction, then his thorough descriptions and attention to detail might have caught you unaware. The same could be said for his unusual take on mythology and the struggles of class. 

I would recommend Egg and Spoon to Maguire fans, and those that enjoy highly descriptive fiction. There is fantasy, and the struggles of young people trying to find their way. However, I think adults will be the ones most likely to enjoy the book, as its slow pace might lose younger readers along the way.

Book Review: Christmas Crochet for Hearth, Home & Tree by Edie Eckman

Christmas Crochet for Hearth, Home & Tree  by Edie Eckman is a helpful pattern collect for Christmas crochet projects. The projects include Christmas stockings, ornaments, and more. Beginners and experienced crocheters will get a lot out of the useful technique tutorials and will want to jump right in and start one of these twenty projects. 

Christmas Crochet for Hearth, Home & Tree is a collection of projects that would be great for decorating you home for the holiday, or for giving away as gifts. Projects include a variety of stockings, ornaments and garland for trees, small tabletop trees, and embellishments for pillows and walls. I found the patterns to be easily understood and includes both the written pattern and a symbol chart. Each is also labeled with the recommended skill level, so crafters can decide what they want to complete. I was also very happy to see a variety pf stick techniques used, some of which add a special texture or look than the more ordinary crafts. 

Christmas Crochet for Hearth, Home & Tree is a well organized book, with very detailed patterns to help even the less experienced crafters successfully complete the projects. This is a solid resource for crocheters looking for holiday craft ideas.

Early Book Review: Excavate! Dinosaurs by Jon Tennant

Excavate! Dinosaurs by Jon Tennant is a non fiction book for dinosaur fans seven and up that is currently scheduled for release on October 21 2014. Paleontologist Jon Tennant uses fun text and colorful illustrations explains the anatomy, habitat, and diet of 12 dinosaurs from the Cretaceous, Jurassic, and Triassic eras. The book includes pop-out pieces of their skeletons for kids to assemble into stand-up paper models. The challenge lies in the fact that the pieces are mixed up! Before the puzzles can be completed, kids must apply their new knowledge about the dinosaurs to figure out which pieces go together. 

Excavate! Dinosaurs is a well organized and interesting book for dinosaurs of all ages. The illustrations and short paragraphs of information come together well to interest and educate readers. The detailed information, organized by someone in the field, made for interesting reading that might inspire further research and interest in the field of paleontology. Since I read a digital copy I did not have the chance to test my skills in putting together the mixed up pieces of model dinosaur bones, or test out their durability. I think that my son would love this activity, as long os the pieces are sturdy but flexible enough. 

Excavate! Dinosaurs is a book that would be a good gift or addition to the home library for any child that is interested in dinosaurs. The information is well organized and offered small sections to keep the interest of readers without overwhelming them. 

Book Review: How to Knit by Leslie Ann Bestor

How to Knit by Leslie Ann Bestor is a well organized guide for learning how to knit. It has simple, fully illustrated instructions lead you step by step through the basics of knitting. This includes choosing the right needles, choosing yarn, reading a knitting pattern, casting on, executing knit and purl stitches, binding off, and blocking finished projects. Important techniques for increasing, decreasing, and repairing mistakes are also included. Even if you've never held a pair of knitting needles before, this easy-to-follow guide will have you knitting comfortably quickly.

How to Knit is a good basic guide. My mother has always been an avid crafter. She does just about everything to do with yarn or thread. I can do most sewing projects and am an avid crocheter, but had not yet mastered knitting. This guide is easy to understand and well organized. It is a great guide for new knitters as well as those that already know the basics but might need a refresher. I had not gotten much past casting on before reading and following the directions in this book, but now feel comfortable with some basic stitches and patterns.

While crochet will always be my favorite, I feel much more comfortable in the realm of knitting after reading How to Knit. The writing and illustrations are easy to understand, and offer encouragement and instruction without talking down to the readers. This book is a good resource for getting started in knitting. 

Book Review: The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple

The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple is a graphic novel about a demented future where evil shadowmen oppress all of the remaining life on Earth. Children have formed gangs, and it is the ruthless Wrenches gang that seems the best suited to stand against the shadowmen. Hollis, a boy from our world, gains access to the world the Wrenches live in, and somehow finds a home there. However, that is not an easy place to live. This is a science fiction graphic novel about regret, obsession, and the uncertainty of growing up. 

The Wrenches is a graphic novel that left me torn. I loved the ragtag groups of kids struggling to survive and fighting against evil. I liked the fact that there were questions throughout about just what they were fighting for and against. However, I also found myself confused and rereading bits here and there to try to figure out if I missed something. The story, the drama, and the action were all very well done. But, I still found myself confused on occasion. The artwork is very distinctive, clearing showing the filth and distortion of the world the Wrenches were surviving. Because of that, I just did not find it visually appealing, even though I know it certainly had a purpose and portrayed the atmosphere, characters, and emotions better because of that style. 

The Wrenchies is a very well done graphic novel for teens and adults. It is gritty and unpolished, and feels all the more real and emotional because of that. I think that while I like my graphic novels a little prettier, I can see that this raw and emotional story about youth and growing up will appeal to a large number of teens and adults.