Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ARC Review: The Princess of Las Pulgas by C. Lee McKenzie


After her father's slow death from cancer, Carlie thought things couldn't get worse. But now, she is forced to confront the fact that her family in dire financial straits. To stay afloat, her mom has had to sell their cherished oceanfront home and move Carlie and her younger brother Keith to the other side of the tracks to dreaded Las Pulgas, or "the fleas" in Spanish. 

They must now attend a tough urban high school instead of their former elite school, and on Carlie's first day of school, she runs afoul of edgy K.T., the Latina tattoo girl who's always ready for a fight, even on crutches. Carlie fends off the attention of Latino and African American teen boys, and one, a handsome seventeen-year-old named Juan, nicknames her Princess when he detects her aloof attitude towards her new classmates. What they don't know is that Carlie isn't really aloof; she's just in mourning for her father and almost everything else that mattered to her. 

Mr. Smith, the revered English teacher who engages all his students, suggests she'll like her new classmates if she just gives them a chance; he cajoles her into taking over the role of Desdemona in the junior class production of Othello, opposite Juan, after K.T. gets sidelined. Keith, who becomes angrier and more sullen by the day, spray paints insults all over the gym as he acts out his anger over the family's situation and reduced circumstances. 

Even their cat Quicken goes missing, sending Carlie and Keith on a search into the orchard next to their seedy garden apartment complex. They're met by a cowboy toting a rifle who ejects them at gunpoint from his property. But when Carlie finds him amiably having coffee with their mom the next day -- when he's returned her cat -- she begins to realize that nothing is what it seems in Las Pulgas.

  • Pub. Date: November 28th 2010
  • Publisher: Westside Books
The Elliott Review:

This book is a heartfelt look at a girl going through the grieving process after losing her father and basically everything and everyone she knows and loves. In moving to the rough neighborhood of Las Pulgas, Carlie must learn to deal with people that are different from her in the way they cope with life, and she has to learn to cope in her own way. One of the strengths of this book was that it was real. Everything felt natural and exactly the way it would happen in real life.

The diversity of the people that Carlie meets was what drew me to the book and was also my favorite aspect of the book. I felt that the characters were diverse without being stereotypical for their race or gender or sexual orientation. Having taught in a rougher part of town in the past, I wondered if the characters would have a realistic feel, and they did not disappoint.

My favorite supporting characters were the two boys that Carlie has a "thing" for a different times throughout the book - Sean and Juan. Sean is that hot but nice character that you've gotta love, and he ends up being fairly surprising. Juan is just ... dreamy. I like the way he challenges Carlie's preconceived notions about Las Pulgas.

I liked the way the ending showed all of the problems in Carlie's life coming full circle. This is a satisfying read with some great life lessons for teens.

Source: Around the World ARC Tours


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and holiday season! I appreciate each and every person that visits my blog. You all make running this blog worthwhile and a lot of fun as well!!

Normally, my family celebrates together on Christmas Eve, but that isn't happening this year because my sister's in-laws are celebrating then.

So tonight my husband and I are going to see True Grit at the theaters with my parents. We watched the original with them last night. It wasn't SO bad, though I have to admit I may have "accidentally" read some Angelfire off and on throughout.

Tomorrow, on Christmas Day, we'll resume our normal family celebrations - a nice dinner, opening presents (including pajamas - though it makes no sense on C'mas Day), playing games, etc. This year is so weird. Texas has been in the 50s-70s and not very cold at all, so it hasn't felt like the Christmas season very much to me...

What are you doing for Christmas?

Just for fun in case you haven't already seen it, I give you ...

Nativity 2.0

Thursday, December 23, 2010

BBT: Books That Changed My Life

This weeks Booking Through Thursday is about a book that changed our lives. I chose two.

Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

This is the first experience I had with literature that left an impression. My mom had a tradition of reading to my sister and I every night before bed, and I loved to lay and follow along with the words as she read. My sister would be doing a puzzle or playing with something off to the side, but she was listening. We are both now avid readers. Once, NOT being read to was used as a punishment for us because we had dropped a tube of toothpaste into the toilet while fighting while getting ready for bed. That's how much both of us loved this time. These books were part of what fueled my desire to become a published author.

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

I'm the type of person that naturally wants everyone to be at peace and will go to great lengths to please people at the price of my own needs sometimes. This book really peels back the layers of how to establish healthy personal boundaries. It's not about being dependent or independent because we all were created for relationships; it's about being INTERdependent. If you don't feel the freedom to say no, then your yes is never truly a yes. I constantly think about and refer to this book.

I'm over at The Shady Glade today! :)

I'm over at The Shady Glade today posting about my holiday memories from watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation over the years.

Thanks so much to Alyssa for letting me take over and rave about the movie that, to me, is essential to every Christmas season!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review + Giveaway: Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country by Allan Richard Shickman


The prehistoric saga continues as Zan-Gah and his disturbed twin brother, Dael, come into conflict. When their clan migrates to a new Beautiful Country, Dael's furious violence, joined with the magnetic power of his personality, precipitates division and an unwanted, preventable war. Zan's task is to restrain his brother's destructive and self-destructive tendencies, leading him to peace and recovery in the bountiful new land. But it is not to be, despite Zan's efforts and those of two strong female characters. This book features themes of war and peace, tribal conflict, traumatic stress, gender roles, and sibling rivalry, bereavement, redemption.

  • Pub. Date: September 2009
  • Publisher: Earthshaker Books
The Elliott Review:

This book continues where Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure leaves off, chronicling the lives of Zan and Dael. Having won a great victory against the wasp people, the Ba-Coro decide that they will inhabit their beautiful land and make the trek there in search of a better life. They don't plan for Dael threatening their peace and security by his warlike ways.

The star of this book is Dael, as he must face down his black memories of his past imprisonment with the Noi people, who now neighbor his tribe's new home in the beautiful country. The reader discovers more about what drives him as he gathers a following and reacts in hate toward even those who care about him. Zan never gives up on his brother.

This second installment of Zan-Gah is just as action packed as the first. Rather than only a daring quest through uncharted territory, Zan must deal with the problems caused by his brother and try to stop a full-fledge war from happening. The story is filled with meaningful lessons about the human spirit and what it can endure and what it must choose in spite of the hardships we sometimes face.

Source: Thanks to Bonnie at Earthshaker Books for providing a copy for a fair review.

Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure 
Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country

Thanks to Earthshaker Books, I am giving away a copy of both books to one lucky winner. All you have to do is fill out the form

You do not have to be a follower to enter, but you can earn two extra entries by tweeting about the contest.

Contest open to US only. Ends January 4th.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure by Allan Richard Shickman


Zan-Gah, seeking his lost twin brother in a savage prehistoric world, encounters adventure, suffering, conflict, captivity, and final victory. In three years hero passes from an uncertain boyhood to a tried and proven manhood and a position of leadership among his people. Themes include survival, brotherhood, cultures, gender roles, psychological trauma, and nature's wonders and terrors. Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure has been awarded Mom's Choice Gold Medal for Series, the Eric Hoffer Notable Book Award, and was a finalist for ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year.


  • Pub. Date: July 2007
  • Publisher: Earthshaker Books
The Elliott Review:

This is a great find for young adults to read. As a teacher, I'm constantly looking for books that are well-written and interesting yet at the same time clean and thought-provoking. I couldn't ask for much more than Zan-Gah as far as that goes. The setting is one that many students will not know a lot about but will have intrinsic interest in, and the adventure that Zan undertakes to rescue his twin brother, Dael, is one that will keep students on the edge of their seats.

Shickman sets up a historical world that is rich and authentic - painting a sweeping picture of various tribes and regions as well as their history. In some places of the book, I forgot that I was not reading an actual account of a young legendary boy who lived in prehistoric times. I had to keep reminding myself that there could be no record of this time period.
The writing style reads like an authentic legend or myth and keeps the readers interest with interesting but not excessive details of the events that Zan encounters. Mainly dealing with Zan's adventurous exploits, the plot is also balanced with an adequate measure of characterization of Zan-Gah and the people he encounters. Minor characters such as Chul, Rhydl, Dael, and Lissa-Na are also interestingly developed.

My favorite part of the book is when Zan actually encounters his twin and finds him to be extremely changed due to the horrible things that have happened to him in captivity. To me this is extremely realistic and moving, and I find myself trying to fill in the blanks of what Dael is not revealing about what happens to him.

This is definitely a book I would recommend for any middle grade reader, especially the boys. It's educational, fun, mysterious - everything a young reader could want!

Source: Thanks to Bonnnie at Earthshaker Books for providing a copy for a fair review.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Winner of Bull Rider!!

The winner of Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams is:

Moonlight Gleam!!

She has 48 to claim the prize. :)
[Winner chosen by]

Thanks so much to everyone who participated and to Suzanne Morgan Williams for providing a copy of the book for giveaway through The Teen {Book} Scene.

Didn't win? Don't forget to check out my other giveaways.

ARC Review: Virals by Kathy Reichs


Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage "sci-philes" who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.

As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot—if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer's scent.

Fortunately, they are now more than friends— they're a pack. They are Virals.

  • Pub. Date: November 2010
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
The Elliott Review:

This book was something fresh and different for me to read for a change. I'd been in a bit of a slump, and this helped me to get out of it! Tory and her friends Shelton, Hi, and Ben must uncover the mysterious events taking place on their favorite haunt - Loggerhead Island. There are several levels of mystery that these smart, nerdariffic kids must wade through. What can I say? This is a detective story filled with high tech sleuthing with a supernatural twist. It is a bit of a Nancy Drew book for modern day teens.

The relationship between the kids - who nickname themselves the Virals - is really fun to see. They each bring an interesting aspect to the group and into the story, and the way they work together to solve their issues is great to read about.  

I loved this book. It is just solidly well-written and interesting. It's different from a lot of what's out there in the YA arena. I put the ARC in my classroom library, and I already have one girl going crazy over it.

Source: Won from Welcoming the Fall Giveaway at Looksie Lovitz: Books and Wits.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Blog Tour & Review: Little Shepherd by Cheryl C. Malandrinos; illus. Eugene Ruble


In the hills outside Bethlehem, Obed guards his first flock of sheep. When the angels appear to tell of the Savior's birth, he is hesitant to follow the others to see the new King. When Obed returns to his sheep, he realizes it is a night of miracles.

  • Pub. Date: August 2010
  • Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc

The Elliott Review: 

This book is extremely charming and a much-needed book. As a sometimes Sunday school teacher, I find that there are astonishingly few really good picture books that deal with topics of faith. Little Shepherd has vivid, eye-catching drawings with interesting facial details and colors that pop, ideal for drawing a child into the story. It would be perfect for a read-aloud in a Sunday school classroom or at home.

The story focuses on the night of Jesus's birth from the perspective of a young shepherd boy. It is a simple yet very well-told story. Interesting and engaging, it will bring the story to a child's level and help them to become involved with what happened on that night.

Source: Thanks to Pump Up Your Book for providing a copy of this book for a fair review.


About the Author:

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor from Western Massachusetts. She is a founding member of Musing Our Children, and editor in chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens. Ms. Malandrinos is also a blogger, book reviewer, and online publicist. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book.  

Visit Cheryl at

Review: The Riddle (Pellinor 2) by Alison Croggon


A young woman embraces her power — and her destiny — as the thrilling quest begun in THE NAMING continues!

Maerad is a girl with a tragic and bitter past, but her powers grow stronger by the day. Now she and her mentor, Cadvan, hunted by both the Light and the Dark, must unravel the Riddle of the Treesong before their fractured kingdom erupts in chaos. The quest leads Maerad over terrifying seas and vast stretches of glacial wilderness, ever closer to the seductive Winterking — ally of her most powerful enemy, the Nameless One. Trapped in the Winterking's icy realm, Maerad must confront what she has suspected all along: that she is the greatest riddle of all. A sequel to THE NAMING, this second book in a captivating quartet about the ancient world of Edil-Amarandh is a sweeping epic readers won't soon forget.

  • Pub. Date: July 2007
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
The Elliott Review: (spoilers!)

The Riddle picks up right where The Naming left off, but it took me a long time to become interested in the story. The beginning half of the book, to me, seems like an endless category of one journey after the next with a lot of scenic detail. Each step of Cadvan's and Maerad's journey is well-written and subtly setting up for later parts of the plot, but like I've mentioned earlier - a straight quest with not a lot of outright drama tends to bore me. Unlike The Naming, the first half didn't have a lot of character development to tantalize me along the way. There are faint hints of Cadvan and Maerad and the way they feel about each other, but this time it seems way too understated for me. Even their mysterious glances at each other aren't enough. Maerad feels jealousy about Cadvan and other women, but nothing actually happens...

Just when I thought I couldn't take any more trees and mists and rivers and strange elemental creatures popping out of nowhere, finally something majorly drastic happens [spoiler alert]!!! Cadvan supposedly dies, but one is never really quite sure that he is actually dead a la Gandalf falling into the flames type situation. Although this takes my favorite character out of the story physically, it actually makes him much more present because I actually get to see more of Maerad's emotional dependence on him. The quest she is on is now one she must make on her own and not lean so much on him. As she goes, she encounters an interest cast of characters - an old healer, her father's long lost family, and the evil yet seductive Winter King. All the while, she learns more about her abilities and more details about the elusive Tree Song that she and Cadvan were trying to locate.

The ending of this book when Maerad reunites with Cadvan was satisfying yet in many ways unsatisfying. I don't know if I can express how important the Maerad/Cadvan aspect of this plot is to me, yet I still know nothing. In the end I can't even tell if her feelings for him are romantic or merely those one would have for a father figure. Everything is so obscure. I really want to know what happens between them as well as to find out what they are actually dealing with in terms of elusively mysterious evil person out there that we still know very little about....

Source: Won from There's a Book (Thanks Danielle!)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blog Tour & Review: Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams


Cam O'Mara, grandson and younger brother of bull-riding champions, is not interested in partaking in the family sport. Cam is a skateboarder, and perfecting his tricks -- frontside flips, 360s -- means everything until his older brother, Ben, comes home from Iraq, paralyzed from a brain injury.

What would make a skateboarder take a different kind of ride? And what would get him on a monstrosity of a bull named Ugly? If Cam can stay on for the requisite eight seconds, will the $15,000 prize bring hope and a future for his big brother?

  • Pub. Date: May 2010
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

The Elliott Review:

This book is not something I would typically read because, I'll confess, I am not a lover of anything rodeo, but I was interested in reading it because it looked like something fresh and different from the usual book for middle grade students.

I really enjoyed reading it because of Cam's perspective. His emotions were portrayed perfectly for a boy of his age, realistically mixing his worry for his brother with his worry for himself. He has to overcome living in the shadow of his semi-famous family members, and to do so he has always avoided riding bulls. Now, though, in his mind, he feels he must "fix" the tragedy of his brother's injury and the strain it puts on their family by winning a riding competition. His single-minded determination causes other problems - he now has to deal with his friends that do not understand why he is no longer focusing on skateboarding.

This book did give me a deeper appreciation for the kind of talent and athleticism that bull riders and others who participate rodeos must have to do what they do. I also became more aware of the situations that many war veterans find themselves in. They are often not appreciated fully or are misunderstood completely. This was really brought home to me by seeing how Ben's injuries affected him emotionally.

Source: Thanks to the The Teen {Book} Scene for hosting this tour. Other tour stops for Bull Rider can be found here.

Don't forget to check out my interview with Cam and a chance to win a copy of Bull Rider.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review: Peas and Bananas: Outside with Lil Boo by Daddy Bookins; illus. by Dania Piotti


Experience A creative journey through the curious eyes of a little boy playing outside. Follow Lil Boo and his imaginary friend, Onote, from the letters A to Z in a fascinating rhyming adventure.

  • Pub. Date: December 9, 2009
  • Publisher:, Inc.

The Elliott Review:

I couldn't wait to review this book because Lil Boo is what I call my nephew. This book is definitely sure to be a hit with younger kids. All of the things that Lil Boo encounters outside - animals and wild life - are things that younger kids love to learn about and discuss. 

The whimsical rhymes that follow the alphabet are something that toddlers will love to repeat later. There are many silly words that are fun to say. My favorite "characters" were the June bug and the owl. So cute with the most adorable rhymes to go along.

The pictures are simple with lighter colors but with details that are funny. They are extremely cute and would grab youngers' interest easily. I can foresee this being a book that my nieces and nephew ask to be read again and again.

Source: Thanks to Daddy Bookins for providing a copy of this book for a fair review.

Connect with Daddy Bookins: 

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Books of Pellinor Read-a-Long: The Riddle Discussion Questions

Yesterday I caught myself up on the discussion about The Naming, and today I'm posting some questions to help us discuss the second book in this series - The Riddle. These are good questions to think about when drafting your own “discussion” post. Take a look below to see if you can incorporate any of the questions into your review/discussion post so that we can all see/review each other's thoughts.

Also, if you haven’t had a chance to sign up for the discussion, you still have a chance! Each month, on the 15th we will have a “discussion post” with a link-up on either this site or the idea woman herself, Danielle from There's a Book. As it stands now, there are only a few others participating, but we'd definitely love to have more people join as we read a long. There is also the opportunity to win free books involved, so it's worth it! Miss this month, but want to participate next? No problem! The winner will be selected at random from all of the discussion posts submitted. You could even catch up with your posts like I just did.

Here are the discussion questions for The Riddle:

1. Did you think the transition from the first book to this one worked? Why or why not?

2. How do you understand the actual riddle that Maerad has to solve? What do you think the solution is (if you haven’t read the entire series yet)?

3. Were there any parts of the book that you particularly loved or disliked?

4. How do you feel about the developing tension between Cadvan and Maerad?

5. How did Cadvan’s death scene affect you?

6. What do you think about the Pilani people where Maerad meets her aunt and cousin?

7. How do you find Maerad’s interaction with the Winter King?

8. What do you think about the book’s ending?

That’s all the questions for this months discussion! Check back on Friday the 15th of October to read responses as well as link up your reviews of The Naming by Alison Croggin!

Helpful Links:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Books of Pellinor Read-a-Long: The Naming Discussion Questions Answered

Forever ago, Danielle from There's a Book and I set up a read-a-long and discussion for The Books of Pellinor series. I posted my review and everything else, but I went out of town that weekend and somehow slipped up in posting my answers to the discussion questions for the first book, The Naming... Since we're moving on to the second book tomorrow, I'm posting those initial questions today. (Did you follow that? Not sure I did ... )

Anyway, here are my thoughts on these questions:

1. What did you think about the introduction to the book and the possibility of its basis in reality?

The beginning of the book confused me and caused me to really have to think about the world I was going to be entering.

2. What did you think of the characters? Primarily Maerad, but also the supporting cast as well.

I thought Maerad was interesting and elegant yet unwittingly fierce as a character. I enjoyed her perspective, but my favorite of all is Cadvan. I love his mysterious past and sense of angst - the fact that there is something hidden that we can't yet see. Hem/Cai is also a really interesting figure to me - also very tragic at least at this point.

3. Was there any person in particular you cared for more than the others?

I enjoyed Cadvan the most, as stated above. Woo baby!

4. Having read the book, would you have made the choice Maerad did to leave Gilman’s Cot?

I am a big baby who is afraid of taking risks, especially when I don't know the outcome. But I'm mainly that way in the petty, mundane details of life. In the bigger decisions of life I usually act firmly and decisively and with a relative sense of peace. I'd like to think that I would have made the choice to leave. I'm always of the opinion that once you know your own particular brand of misery, you want to leave it. Things might be bad in the new situation, but they could possibly be better, too.

5. Are you surprised by Maerad’s choice to leave with Cadvan knowing where she came from?

I think it's the most logical thing she could've done. Why would you want to stay anywhere being a slave. Of course, her fear of men would have been a big barrier normally.

6. If you’ve read The Lord of the Rings Trilogy in part or in it’s entirety did you draw any similarities?

I don't see any major similarities. It obviously had all the traits of high fantasy, but I didn't make that connection. Cadvan is nothing like Gandalf (way hotter and more mysterious). Maerad is a vulnerable but powerful girl. They're off in search of Maerad's identity and the way to defeat the evil powers, but their quest doesn't involve destroy something (that I know of), and it is also a LOT more complex than what Frodo and company had to do.

7. The Naming is primarily a fantasy novel, how would you compare it to other popular fantasy novels out currently and to which ones?

I don't read a lot of this type of fantasy book for reasons that I will mention in the next question. I don't have anything in mind that I could directly compare it to.

8. What aspects of Allison Croggin’s writing did you enjoy the most or least?

I enjoyed the elegant way she characterizes Maerad the most. I thought she was able to keep with what is familiar in this genre without being as long winded and annoyingly descriptive as some others (cough, Tolkien, cough).

Tomorrow I will be posting the discussion questions for the second book. If you are interested in participating in the rest of this discussion, feel free to sign up here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Bull Rider Character Interview (Cam)

Today we have Cam with us. He is the main character in Suzanne Morgan Williams's book Bull Rider, and he is here to answer a few questions about himself.

Could you describe yourself for us?

I’m just a guy. I’m a good skater – better than Mike although he’ll say otherwise. And I’m pretty good on a bull I guess. What else? I like eating Grandma Jean’s cooking. And Salt Lick – I like it here.

What was it like growing up in the shadow of the well-known bull riders in your family?

It’s ok. Grandpa and Ben, they’re the best. I just didn’t want to go that route. I wanted something of my own, you know. But bull riding, it’s pretty addicting once you do it.

I know you probably get asked this a lot, but if you had to choose, would you rather skateboard or ride a bull? Why?

I’m still a skater. You don’t get over that and I can still carry my board under my arm to the Grange Hall. There’s no way I wouldn’t be a skater. But don’t ask which I like better. They’re different, and now that I’ve started, I’m thinking I be riding some more bulls.

How would you describe the rush you get from riding a bull?

It’s like nothing else. Well, maybe it’s like those downhill skiers you see on TV – but I’ve never done that, so I don’t know. You just get on and they let the bull go and the whole world is you hanging onto that rope and jamming down onto the bull’s back. It’s like those few seconds are forever. And then it’s done. Your heart’s going and you feel so – I don’t know – like you’re floating. But chances are your butt is hurting too. Did you understand that? I think you have to ride to really get it.

What is your favorite thing about your brother Ben?

He’s alive. And even though he’s changed since Iraq, he’s still Ben. He’s always looked out for me.

How is Ben doing these days?

He’s getting stronger. He’s working with Amy on the AI business and he goes for his therapy and rehab. He’s ok. It’s slow.

Is there a chance that you might discover you like Favi that way – as in, more than a friend?

Geez, Favi? She’s like my sister. That’s sick. OK, she’s not my sister and she is getting cute. I guess I could like her – if she wasn’t so annoying half the time. Ask me next year. Next question.

Is there any way that we can help wounded veterans like Ben?

There’s lots of ways. You can write letters or donate money or volunteer for Fisher House that puts up families like ours when their service person is wounded. Or help out the USO. They’re in all the airports, you know, doing stuff for the troops when they travel. You can fund raise for them or volunteer. They have a Wounded Warrior Program, and one for reading to troops’ kids, and all kinds of good stuff. For a list of places to send holiday cards, letters, to volunteer, or to get information about traumatic brain injury, go to open the Support Veterans link and then open the tabs on that page. Boy, it would mean a lot to me if you did that. Guys like Ben, they’ve given up a lot, and it helps just to know somebody’s thinking of them.

Win a copy of Bull Rider by filling out THIS FORM.

Thanks to The Teen {Book} Scene for hosting this tour. You can view Bull Rider's other tour stops here. I will be posting my review of Bull Rider next Wednesday as a part of the tour.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Review + Giveaway: The Gift by Carol Ann Duffy; illus. by Rob Ryan


The exceptional talents of Carol Ann Duffy and papercut artist Rob Ryan combine to present the story of a girl's journey through life and the desires that shape it. With a kind of magic that is timeless, The Gift speaks to everyone who wonders about the mysteries that lie at the heart of the human experience. A unique gift book for all ages by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy This lyrical text about life, love and art is accompanied by stunning papercut illustrations. The Gift portrays the cycle of life in a subtle, accessible way while exploring themes of birth, death, love and the importance of family and friends.

  • Pub. Date: October 2010
  • Publisher: Barefoot Books
The Elliott Review:

This book has astounding woodcut illustrations combined with hauntingly lovely prose that combine to make a book of highest artistic quality. The story follows a young girl who has an unusual wish to be buried in a beautiful field when she dies. Her request is granted by an old woman, and the book follows the girl throughout each stage of her life until she, inevitably, receives her wish as an old woman who has lived a rich life full of love. The tale has echos of wisdom literature, parables, fables, fairy tales - that timeless quality that is hard to put a specific name to.

The deep lessons in this book are many. Because the girl accepts the presence of death even as she lives, she is enabled to live and love to the fullest, pursuing her dreams with a calm sense of peace and acceptance. The subject matter may seem a little heavy for children, but a parent who is reading along can provide explanations and engage in dialogue that will be beneficial to both.

This book would also be an interesting classroom read for a brave teacher willing to take on a difficult topic. Perhaps this would be something that would be helpful for a group that has lost someone - a way to provide comfort and insight at a tough time.

Source: Thanks to Barefoot Books for providing a copy of this book for a fair review.

Win a copy of The Gift!!

Here's how to enter:
  • Visit and comment on this post, stating what your favorite title is. Make sure you are posting in the IntenseDebate comment client NOT Blogger's comment system. It takes a little bit of time to load, but it will pop up if you wait. (Required)
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Contest ends Saturday, December 18th. Open to US residents only.