Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Review: Dinosaurs Living in My Hair by Jayne M. Rose-Vallee; illustrated by Anni Matsick


Sabrina has curly hair and a problem. Tangles and knots make her mornings difficult. Try as she might . . . To make her hair "cool," . . . . The curls make it tricky . . . To comb out for school. At the top of her head . . . Where it's simply a mess . . . Do creatures hide out there? . . . The answer is YES! 

Rose-Vallee's whimsical rhymes combined with the beautiful watercolor illustrations from Anni Matsick make this a children's book not to be missed! A Florida Authors and Publishers Association (FAPA) 2015 President's Book Award Finalist for Poetry and Book Cover Design. `


Published April 16th 2015 by RoseVallee Creations, LLC

My Review:

I was interested to read this book because my three-year-old son's current obsession is dinosaurs. He loves any book or show relating to anything with dinosaurs, but I was curious to see how he would react to a book with a girl protagonist. This did not phase him in the least. He thought the idea of the dinosaurs in the girl's hair was hilarious and made me read the book four times in a row. He often does that, but usually not four times in a row!

I think the very playful idea of dinosaurs or creatures being lodged in a girl's very curly hair is one that is engaging to all children. It lends an aspect of mystery that keeps kids interested. Also, the playful rhyming verse is almost hypnotic. I think that's part of what my son wanted to hear again and again.

The artistry of the illustrations truly is beautiful. The pictures are stunning, and the imagination that Anni Matsick lends to Rose-Vallee's verse makes the book that much more of a rewarding experience.

I honestly think this is a book we will be reading for quite some time. My son mentioned it again on the way to the library today.

Source: Thanks to the author for providing a copy of this title in exchange for a fair review.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Review: Midnight in St. Petersburg by Vanora Bennett


St. Petersburg, 1911: Inna Feldman has fled the pogroms of the south to take refuge with distant relatives in Russia's capital city. Welcomed by the flamboyant Leman family, she is apprenticed into their violin-making workshop. She feels instantly at home in their bohemian circle, but revolution is in the air, and as society begins to fracture, she is forced to choose between her heart and her head. She loves her brooding cousin, Yasha, but he is wild, destructive and devoted to revolution; Horace Wallick, an Englishman who makes precious Faberge creations, is older and promises security and respectability. And, like many others, she is drawn to the mysterious, charismatic figure beginning to make a name for himself in the city: Rasputin.

As the rebellion descends into anarchy and bloodshed, a commission to repair a priceless Stradivarius violin offers Inna a means of escape. But which man will she choose to take with her? And is it already too late? A magical and passionate story steeped in history and intrigue, Midnight in St. Petersburg is an extraordinary novel of music, politics, and the toll that revolution exacts on the human heart. 


Published January 19th 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books

Available: Amazon | The Book Depository (affiliate links)

My Review:

This complex, historical novel was a satisfying read. It read a little differently than many novels do these days in that the third-person point of view switches among all of the main characters, leaving a limited amount of time in the main character's perspective. This was an interesting difference that made me feel like I was reading a more classic novel for some reason.

I was also interested in the setting, since I have not read much about Russia during this time period - the Great War and thereafter. Many of the political and social changes left me a little confused but also educated me about what was going on at that time.

The main character, Inna, is very idealized through all of the eyes that view her - surviving against all odds. The love triangle that exists between Inna, Yasha, and Horace is frustrating to me at times. I can see why Inna makes the choices that she makes, but at time she seems to have no shame and her rationale for acting in that way is not necessarily developed enough for me to understand her motivation.

Seeing how the characters change and survive over the years in St. Petersburg makes this worth reading.

Source: Thanks to the publicist for sending a copy of this title in exchange for a fair review.