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Miss Winter’s Demise and Other Crimes Against Poetry — Paul Minton

5 May

Publisher: Troubadour Publishing Ltd
Released: January 28th,  2018
Genre: Poetry, humour, kids
Source: ARC from NetGalley

Miss Winter’s Demise and Other Crimes Against Poetry is the debut collection of poems from Paul Minton exploring a wide range of themes and subjects. The book contains poems about strange things like a dog with too many legs, a boy who turns into a bird and even superheroes armed with the powers of bad breath and dandruff. There are rhymes about flying farm animals, extremely polite pirates and a newspaper especially for ghosts. And then there is the curious tale of Miss Winter’s demise in which the mystery of her spontaneous combustion is finally explained… Or is it? 

Written in a quirky and humorous style, Miss Winter’s Demise and Other Crimes Against Poetry also contains a number of illustrations that will help to fire the reader’s imagination. Each poem rhymes and concludes with a surprising twist or comic punchline.

From Goodreads

Rhymes that are funny, punny and have twists? Yes, please!

This was such a fun read. And I can only imagine how much fun it would be to read this out loud to a group of kids.

Some of the poems were really, really weird, which took me by surprise in a good way. And some of them almost had a slight undertone of menace a-la Lemony Snicket. I appreciated that the tone of all the poems wasn’t exactly the same.

This collection reminded me a bit of nursery rhymes as far as the rhyming and meter went. The meter wasn’t always bang on which interrupted the flow of a couple of the poems but overall the poems just kind of tripped off the tongue (yes I read them out loud to myself!).

I think kids would have a blast with this and it is definitely not a book that adults would get bored reading to their children.

 

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The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen – Susin Nielsen

18 Sep

Publisher: Tundra Books
Released: Sept 11th, 2012
Genre: YA contemp
Review copy from publisher

Thirteen-year-old Henry’s happy, ordinary life comes to an abrupt halt when his older brother, Jesse, picks up their father’s hunting rifle and leaves the house one morning. What follows shatters Henry’s family, who are forced to resume their lives in a new city, where no one knows their past. When Henry’s therapist suggests he keep a journal, at first he is resistant. But soon he confides in it at all hours of the day and night.

In spite of Henry’s desire to “fly under the radar,” he eventually befriends a number of oddball characters, both at school and in his modest apartment building. And even though they know nothing about his past – at least, not yet – they help him navigate the waters of life after “IT.”

From Susin Nielsen’s website.

It’s no secret that I absolutely fell in love with Susin Nielsen’s writing in Word Nerd and that love just grew with Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom. Despite the fact that The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen is darker and deals with a more serious subject matter than the first two books, I absolutely, positively LOVED IT. I devoured it in one sitting and when I was finished, I just felt like a better person for having read it.

OMG this book broke my heart. Just smashed it to little pieces. But it also made my heart swell with love at places. I wanted to jump through the pages and give Henry a big hug and buy him an ice cream. He was such a sweet, awkward, lovable character that I just wanted to do something to make his pain stop. Nielsen wrote him in such a caring yet straightforward manner that he never felt pathetic or whiny to me. He just seemed like a kid who was going through some serious crap and trying to handle it the best way that he could.

I’m not going to say a whole lot about “IT” except that her telling of what happened, the way she presented it, was just amazing. It’s hard to take a situation like that and write about it in a way that doesn’t come across as sensational or crude. But through Henry, Nielsen explains what happened in a way that was both heartbreaking and understated. Perfection.

As always, there’s a slew of wonderfully weird secondary characters in The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen. I loved them all so much that it would be impossible to pick my favorite.  And even thought they were secondary, they each had a huge part in helping Henry to deal with what happened.

I loved this book so much that I could probably go on and on and on about all the wonderful things that sucked me in and made me sad when I got to the last page. But about all, I loved Henry’s voice. Nielsen wrote him so honestly that it hurt my soul at times, to witness how he was feeling and what he was going through.

Henry’s is a tough story to read and I can only imagine how hard it was to write it. But it’s one that really needs to be heard. And honestly, I couldn’t have pictured anyone but Nielsen telling it.

The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide – Stacey Graham

31 May

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Released: April 24th, 2012
Genre: MG non-fiction, how-to
Review copy from publisher

What was that noise? The cat? The wind? 
Little brother stealing a peek at your diary?
Or is it a ghost?

The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide will help you identify the creepy crawlers from the spooky spirits, the howling winds fromt he haunting phantoms. And with this guide you can learn from real experts how to investigate and contact your very own ghosts!

Everything a girl needs for a night full of fun, including:

• Spooky urban legends to set the mood
• Must-have stuff for your ghost hunting kit
• Pointers for leading the best-ever ghost hunt
• Tips for writing your own ghost
• With fun quizzes, games, recipes, and more!

So gather your friends if they are brave enough, grab a flashlight, and go investigate!

From Sourcebooks website.

First of all, I have to say I am  in love with the ghostie on the cover. And she actually appears throughout the book. I’ve love to have one. Not, you know, haunting me or anything. But maybe a stuffed one on my desk.

Okay, so the book. What a cool combination of informative, creepy, scary, funny, fun stuff! I loved the tone. I think kids will find it’s like talking to a cool older sibling or cousin. It was very informal while jam-packed full of ghost hunting information.

The ghost hunting: I watch a lot of ghost hunting shows, and the information was dead on. Ghosts are serious business, but Graham made sure throughout the whole book to keep things light. She still made sure that the reader understood the seriousness of ghost hunting and the responsibility that comes with it, but she did it in a way that it shouldn’t scare the crap out of most kids. And mixed in with the ghost hunting info are urban legends, ghost stories and even a couple of nommy recipes. Graham also includes interviews with female ghost hunters, which I thought was awesome.

The layout of the book was super fun, also. The pages are glossy, there’s lots of colour used and different fonts. For me, this also helped lift some of the scariness of the subject. There are also interactive sections, little quizzes and at the end blank pages that you can use on your first ghost hunting case.

I think this book is going to be a hit among girls, but the topic IS all things ghost, so I think for certain personality types, it could be a bit too scary, even with the light tone. But of course, that’s where mom and dad come in. If you daughter is a bit on the anxious side, you may want to take a peek at The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide before handing it over to her.

This was just a cool mix of fun and informative. And if you are interested in reading it, pop by tomorrow for a giveaway. 🙂

Water Hazard- Helene Boudreau

5 Dec

“Twins André and Lucas love working at Cavendish Beach on Prince Edward Island—helping their Park Warden mother, lobster fishing with their grandfather and collecting seaweed with Mr. Arsenault and his horse, Thunder. But when Thunder is badly hurt by a mysterious object in the ocean, the boys know they need to turn to another passion of theirs—solving mysteries. With Lucas’s brain and André’s courage, the boys always solve their cases, and now they have their eye on hostile Mr. Prune. Water Hazard is the second title in Hélène Boudreau’s Red Dune Adventure series. “

Okay, so you all know how much I say I hate describing a book as cute. But what am I supposed to do when that’s exactly what the book is? Cuz Water Hazard? For me it was full of the cute. But not gushy, pink and overly sweet cute. Nope. I just loved the setting, the characters and the story. All combined it was cute.

I think any kids who like reading about animals, nature or mysteries are going to devour this book.  Think Hardy Boys and Eric Wilson’s books. And I loved how Helene didn’t dumb down the mystery in the book just because it’s geared towards kids. I wasn’t even 100% until the twins solved things.

If you have a young reader, Water Hazard is a great book. And the fact that it takes place in PEI where I live? Love it.

Blogoversary giveaway # 8 – Sinking Deeper

2 Sep

This giveaway is for a signed copy of the hilarious Sinking Deeper by Steve Vernon. I seriously LOVED this book.

When I read the blurb on the back of the book, I thought “OK, this is probably going to make me chuckle a time or two.” But it had me guffawing all the way through. It was seriously THAT funny. Roland was a great character and I loved his voice. But for me, it was all about his grandfather, Angus. This was one cool, weird, freaky dude. I just instantly fell in love with him.

While the plot was far-fetched, it was oh-so believable at the same time. Maybe it’s because I’m a Maritimer myself, but if I saw this book as a news story I’d be like, “Uh-huh. Fake sea monster. Wonder what they were into when they thought that up?”

There were also some sentimental (not sappy. NEVER sappy) moments in the story that added a nice balance to the funny. So while I did laugh my ass off, there were parts of Sinking Deeper that may have brought a tear to my eye.

This was just a really great, unbelievably entertaining book.  And now one of you lucky Canadians gets your own signed copy thanks to the fine folks at Nimbus. Just comment below and let me know of a mythical creature that you’re either fascinated with or scared witless by. Contest closes Sept. 4th, 11:59 EST.

Blogoversary giveaway #5 – Lost on Brier Island – Jo Ann Yhard

29 Aug

So, I have a signed copy of Lost on Brier Island up for grabs! But first, my review. You know, so you can see the awesomeness that you could win. 🙂

I hate when my brain refuses to come up with a description for a book besides “sweet” or “cute”. I always feel that it comes off as a cop-out and that I’m not doing the book – or the author – justice. But Jo Ann Yhard’s Lost on Brier Island is a sweet book. And it was cute, too. And I absolutely, positively loved it.

I really, really loved everything about this book. The writing, the premise, the setting, the characters. It was a great mix of mystery, sadness, lightness and character development.

I loved seeing the growth in Alex as she moves from a sullen, sad girl who really didn’t want to be on Brier Island to opening up to what life and the island have to offer her. And as an animal lover her relationship with Daredevil and how he helped her heal, really struck a chord with me. And I think it will with everyone who reads it.

Lost on Brier Island is the perfect summertime read regardless of your age.

Thanks so much to Nimbus Publishing for not only sending me a review copy, but for sending a SECOND one when the first one got lost. 🙂

GIVEAWAY time!!!!

So excited to me able to give one you you lucky Canadian readers a signed copy of Lost on Brier Island. Jo Ann is one of my fave authors and fave peeps in general.

To enter tell me of a close encounter of the animal kind that you’ve had. Contest closes Sept 1st 11:59 EST.

The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods by Kate Inglis

20 May

Publisher: Nimbus Publishing
Released: Oct 30th, 2009
Genre: MG
Bought at Word on the Street because of  its awesome title.

The pirates of the Dread Crew, ruthless junk hunters, are on the rampage through the Maritime woods. On their trail is a boy pirate tracker Eric Stewart, who gathers mounting evidence of their hooliganism until one day their clue-laden path of destruction completely disappears. Little does Eric know that the rumbling, stinking pirates are much, much closer than he thinks. This paperback edition includes eight pages of new content including a pirate glossary and praise pages. Check out dreadcrew.com for lots more additional content! This book is recommended for antsy boys who long for glory, for spritely girls inclined to reach out for adventure, and for good-humored grown-ups who like the smack of Limburger and devils’s club sandwiches with a dash of junebug pepper. The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods contains things disgusting, rude, repulsive and crush-like in nature. It also includes the most gigantic party ever seen, a rampaging woodship, random explosions, a prison, an escape, inventions, blackberry sploosh and many, many secrets as well as unexplained stinks.

From Nimbus Publishing website

The hubs and I have no plans to ever have children. But once I started reading The Dread Crew, I wanted to pop out a kid and have it speed grow to about 8 or so that we could read this book together. It was that good. For me, it’s everything a kids book should be: imaginative, informative, fun and at times gross. Very gross.

This was such a cool book. I mean, it has PIRATES. Disgusting, gross, icky pirates that Inglis still managed to make lovable. And as with the best characters, there’s more than meets the eye with this crew.

I honestly had no idea where Inglis was going with the story, and I don’t want to ruin it for you, but it’s pretty amazing. And, more importantly, believable. There were twist and turns and unexpected adventures but the story lands where it should and the ending was fun and satisfying.

The Dread Crew is such a fun book that I think all kids will like it. And most adults, too.

That Boy Red by Rachna Gilmore

5 May

Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Released: April 4th, 2011
Genre: MG historical
For review from publisher.

It’s the Depression, but Red’s family is managing better than most on their Prince Edward Island farm. Hard working and resourceful, they have enough to eat and to help others, even if at times they are mocked by their neighbours for putting education ahead of farm work. Eleven-year-old Red has plenty of chores around the farm, and the days can be long, but he still gets the odd break to go swimming or fishing, provided his homework is done. Red’s older sister, Ellen, teaches at the local school, and if Red doesn’t shine, she will not only punish him, but also make sure their parents hear about it.

But then Red’s father’s hand is seriously injured and the family’s situation looks dire. Red steps up to the challenge, finishing the tobacco boxes that his father makes and helping shovel out a train stuck in the snow. Stubborn and even pigheaded, Red does make mistakes along the way (such as pretending to be dead so that his younger sister will stop following him), but his heart is always in the right place.

From HarperCollins Canada website.

I just loved Red. I mean, he was a great character. Would I want to babysit him? Hell no. But the 11 year old in me would definitely like to hang out with him. He gets into so many scrapes he’d make any other kid look like a saint. :0) Seriously though, he was an extremely interesting character and I think that kids will really like reading about Red and all the trouble he gets into.

But the book isn’t just a string of events where Red finds himself in hot water. There are underlying themes of bullying, acceptance and family. Gilmore weaves these together wonderfully so that kids will end up learning a valuable lesson without even realizing it.

That Boy Red takes place on Prince Edward Island and of course I loved that. I also felt that it had an Anne of Green Gables feel to it, which was an added bonus.

Another historical MG book that I loved. Seems I am broadening my reading horizons. 🙂

The Magnificent Steam Carnival of Professor Pelusian Minus:First Flight by Sean and Connor Hayden

3 May

Publisher: Quake Books
Released: March, 2011
Genre: MG steampunk, short story
For review from author.

When Professor Pelusian Minus’ steamsmith dies, he needs another one quickly. He sends his giant henchman out to complete the task. The professor is not at all happy when Abraham Lincoln brings back two small twin babies. Soon though, he discovers they are just what he needs; he just has to wait for them to grow up.

For years, the twins, Dade and Paige, have been slaves to Professor Minus and his carnival. Now, the professor wants them to build him an army of minions, they just want to escape. With some clever planning, they build what the professor wants–kinda.

Then, Dade finally comes up with a plan for their escape. They think they have it all figured out. But things go terribly wrong and now Dade has to put aside the escape to save his sister’s life. Has Professor Pelusian Minus finally found a way to keep Dade and Paige at his Magnificent Steam Carnival?

From Quake website

OMG I loved this story. I am in no way a young or a reluctant reader, but if you are or know one you should totally get them First Flight. I was hooked from the get-go and can’t wait to dig into the second story in this series.

I don’t read a lot of steampunk, but I think it is a genre I need to become a lot more familiar with. The steampunk elements in this story, though, weren’t what I loved the most about it. That would be the characters.

Dade and Paige are just great characters. Smart, resilient and funny, I think they are both amazing heroes for young readers to look up to. And the professor! So, evil! So nefarious! So much fun to read! His ego-centric plans had me all a giggle and I love how the twins were constantly thinking of ways to outsmart him. But just when I thought things were all clear, bam! the authors introduced a twist that I didn’t see coming at all.

This was just a really interesting, fun read. I think adults and kids a like will love it. And the fact that Hayden co-wrote this with his young son, Connor? Well that’s just sweet and awesome all at the same time.

Blog Tour: Stones for my Father by Trilby Kent

28 Apr

Publisher: Tundra Books
Released: March 22nd,2011
Genre: MG/YA historical
From publisher for blog tour.

Corlie Roux’s farm life in South Africa is not easy: the Transvaal is beautiful, but it is also a harsh place where the heat can be so intense that the very raindrops sizzle. When her beloved father dies, she is left with a mother who is as devoted to her sons as she is cruel to her daughter. Despite this, Corlie finds solace in her friend, Sipho, and in Africa itself and in the stories she conjures for her brothers.

But Corlie’s world is about to vanish: the British are invading and driving Boer families like hers from their farms. Some escape into the bush to fight the enemy. The unlucky ones are rounded up and sent to internment camps.

Will Corlie’s resilience and devotion to her country sustain her through the suffering and squalor she finds in the camp at Kroonstad? That may depend on a soldier from faraway Canada and on inner resources Corlie never dreamed she had….

From Tundra Books website.

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction and I NEVER read historical fiction about war. I took an early dislike to history around grade 8 and I never looked back. But when I read books like Trilby Kent’s Stones for my Father, I really, really wish that historical fiction had been used as an effort to get me interested in history when I was younger. Reading about character’s such as Corlie and what she went through makes me want to learn more about the past.

I was surprised by how quickly I became engrossed in Corlie’s story. It was obvious from the get-go that there was more going on than the Boer War. Her mother doesn’t treat her nice AT ALL, doting on her little brothers and treating Corlie more like an annoyance than a daughter.  Yet there were times that I felt sorry for her mother. Kent did an excellent job of making the mom a stern, unlikable character that the reader could still identify with at times.

Before reading Stones for my Father, I never realized that there were interment camps besides the ones during WWII (like I said, I know very LITTLE about history). I was shocked by the way they were treated, but I was also amazed that in these camps the occupants did their best to create a life.

This is great YA historical fiction. Oh, and there’s a monkey. And who doesn’t love a monkey? 🙂

I have one copy of Stones for my Father to give to a lucky fellow Canadian. Just comment below. Say hello. Tell me about your current read. Or let me know why you want to read this book. I’ll randomly choose a winner on the 5th of May.