Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wishing Everyone A ...

Young Elizabeth:The Making of the Queen by Kate Williams

ISBN-10: 160598891X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605988917


A lively and poignant biography of the young princess who, at the impressionable age of eleven, found that she was now heiress to the throne, by the New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Queen Victoria.
We can hardly imagine a Britain without Elizabeth II on the throne. It seems to be the job she was born for. And yet for much of her early life the young princess did not know the role that her future would hold. She was our accidental Queen.

Elizabeth's determination to share in the struggles of her people marked her out from a young age. Her father initially refused to let her volunteer as a nurse during the Blitz, but relented when she was 18 and allowed her to work as a mechanic and truck driver for the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service. It was her forward-thinking approach that ensured that her coronation was televised, against the advice of politicians at the time.
Kate Williams reveals how the 25-year-old young queen carved out a lasting role for herself amid the changes of the 20th century. Her monarchy would be a very different one to that of her parents and grandparents, and its continuing popularity in the 21st century owes much to the intelligence and elusive personality of this remarkable woman.

Young Elizabeth: The Making of the Queen by Kate Williams came across my ARC list and caught my attention. I was quite well versed on Queen Elizabeth's children and their lives, marriages, etc but not so much on the Queen herself. I decided to take the leap to the non-fiction side and dove into this book. I have to say it was pretty interesting!

I was very grateful that the author, Ms. Williams has a writing style that brought lightness, humor and a bit of clean gossip to this book that made it an interesting, entertaining read. She included a good amount of history prior to Elizabeth being born which really helped to set the stage for the world that Elizabeth was born into. Throughout this book, the author continued to show how the world issues and changing times continued to mold her into the person/Queen she came to be. Queen Elizabeth is quite an accomplished and remarkable woman!

The only negative that found while reading this book was that it is a bit too long for my taste. Having shared that, I have to also share that I enjoyed reading Young Elizabeth: The Making of the Queen and getting to know the royal family, especially Queen Elizabeth a bit better!

Thank you to Pegasus Publishing and Edelweiss for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Rule of Mirrors by Caragh M. O'brien ~ Waiting on Wednesday

WOW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights soon to be released books that each of us are eagerly waiting to read. 

My pick this week ... 

  • ISBN-10: 1596439408
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596439405
  • Book 2 in the Vault of Dreamers series

Release Date ~ February 16, 2016


The fast-paced, psychologically thrilling sequel to The Vault of Dreamers follows Rosie after her consciousness has been split in two.
The entire country was watching when Rosie Sinclair was expelled from Forge, the prestigious arts school that doubles as a reality TV show. But few know how Dean Berg was mining students' dreams in laboratories deep below the school. And no one, least of all the Dean himself, knows that when Rosie's dreams were seeded into the mind of another patient, Rosie's consciousness woke up in that body--a girl far from Forge, a girl with a completely different life from Rosie, a girl who is pregnant.

Told from alternating points of view between Rosie as she makes sense of her new identity and the shattered subconscious that still exists in her old body, The Rule of Mirrors will keep readers on the edge of their seats and leave them hungry for more.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

ISBN-10: 0545682428
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545682428
Ages 8 - 12 and up


From NYT bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen comes a stunning thriller about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west.

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can't help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

As a Mom, I love books that bring history to life and A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen does just that! 

Ms. Nielsen was able to capture the essence of the turbulent times surrounding the Berlin Wall. She brings history to life through her characters who are humanly flawed, fearful yet heroic at the same time. 

Her ability to capture the essence of the emotions that occur in the tween/teen years is spot on.  In fact, all of her characters in this story are so well developed they just jumped off the page and came to life in my imagination!

I highly recommend A Night Divided ~ it is a very worth while book just for the pleasure of reading it! This book would also be a great teaching tool for teachers, homeschooling and or just parent/child reading. 

4.5 Stars!

Thanks to Scholastic Press and Edelweiss for the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review.

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2016!

Hosted by the Broke and Bookish

This week we've been asked to highlight our Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2016.


I've really enjoyed all the books I've read of Margaret Peterson Haddix and I can't wait to read her new book!  Release date: 1/5/2016

I loved reading the original edition of this book  ~ it was hauntingly beautiful. I can't wait to read the revised edition! 

Release date ~ 1/26/16


I just came across the Vault of Dreamers trilogy series a few days ago. I am going to read book 1, The Vault of Dreamers very shortly. For both book 1 and 2, the synopsis is intriguing! Can't wait to read them!

Release date ~ 02/16/16


I've been waiting a long time to read this one and it's only a few months away ~ yeah!                    

Release date ~ 3/1/16

After reading the synopsis of this book, I just couldn't say no! 

Release date ~ 3/8/16


I couldn't locate a published book synopsis for this book (book 2 of the Pathfinders series). I loved the first book  in this series and I can't wait to read this one! 

Release date ~ 04/19/16

I have not yet rad any of this authors book but the cover and book synopsis just pulled me right in. 

Release date ~ 04/19/16


 This is book 2 in  A Stranje House series. This is a new to me series that I just came across and I can't wait to receive the first book, A School for Unusual Girls from my library.  

Exile for Dreamers is due to Release  on 5/24/16.

This looked too good to pass up! 

Release date ~ 05/03/16


The conclusion to the New York Times bestselling I Am Number Four series! Need I say more?

Release date ~ 6/28/16

Which books are you looking forward to reading in the first half of 2016?

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Virgin's Spy: A Tudor Legacy Novel (Book 2) by Laura Anderson

  • ISBN-10: 0804179387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804179386


Queen Elizabeth I remains sovereign of England and Ireland. For the moment, at least. An Irish rebellion is growing and Catholic Spain, led by the Queen’s former husband, King Philip, plans to seize advantage of the turmoil. Stephen Courtenay, eldest son of Dominic and Minuette, Elizabeth’s most trusted confidantes, has accepted a command in Ireland to quell the unrest. But the task will prove dangerous in more ways than one.

The Princess of Wales, Elizabeth’s daughter, Anabel, looks to play a greater role in her nation, ever mindful that there is only one Queen of England. But how is Anabel to one day rule a country when she cannot even govern her own heart?

The Virgin's Spy by Laura Anderson is a continuation of  the Tudor Legacy series where historical fiction is at it's best!  

This book and it's series is based on an alternate history of English monarchy ~ where Queen Anne gave King Henry a  son and Queen Elizabeth married King Phillip of Spain for a bit. Can you just imagine what today would be like if those actual events had really happened?!!

Ms. Anderson is a wonderfully gifted writer and I've enjoyed all the books in this series. They're well written and have realistic, developed characters that spring to life off the written pages.    

The only drawback with The Virgin's Spy is that it is a very busy book with almost too many plots and sub-plots. At times it was somewhat hard to follow all that was going on in the book. Still, The Virgin's Spy is definitely worth reading!  

If you love to read historical fiction, this book is right up your alley!

4 Stars!

Thanks to Ballantine Books and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

An Inspiring Book ~ Medieval Lego by Greyson Beights!

Available on Kindle or Hardcover format

  • Synopsis:

Castles and kings, battles and treaties, famine and plague, intrigue and invasion! 

Medieval LEGO takes you through real English history in the middle ages with a unique twist, with every event illustrated by a tiny little LEGO scene. With contributions by medievalists and scholars, this book brings medieval history to life in a fun, kid-friendly way.

Inside, you'll learn about events like the Battle of Hastings, the chartering of Oxford University, and the signing of the Magna Carta. You'll witness the Great Fire of London, the Black Death, and the Great Famine, and you'll read about famous historical figures like Robin Hood, Richard the Lionheart, Geoffrey Chaucer, and William the Conqueror. 

Grab your broadsword and turn the page to join the adventure!

Medieval Lego by Greyson Beights is a delightful blend of history with lego pictures geared to inspire learning while having FUN!

Although my boys are teens, they still LOVE legos and pronounced this books "wish we had that when we were younger".

After reviewing the book I  just loved it though I'll leave the lego building to my creative kids.  Getting kids involved with bringing to life what they are learning is a fantastic way of  building a love of learning, enhancing creativity and so much more! 

Side note: Check out the author's page on Amazon. Greyson Beights is a pretty impressive and accomplished young man.  My hat goes off to him for all he has accomplished so far! 

4 Stars!

Thank you to No Starch Press and Edelweiss for the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Once Upon a Christmas 55 Heartwarming Short Stories Bring Meaning to the Season ~ Rosanne Croft, Linda Reinhardt, Shannon Bernash Smith

  • ISBN-10: 1634090675
  • ISBN-13: 978-1634090674


A mysterious package left in the snow on Christmas Eve. A startling encounter with the homeless. A treasured gift of love. Set in the 1800s through the present, in colorful settings that span the globe, beloved inspirational writers Sharon Bernash Smith, Linda Reinhardt, and Rosanne Croft pen charming holiday stories to warm, delight, and romance the heart. Travel to small towns, to the tropics of Africa, to the wilds of Montana, to battlefields, and many more fascinating locations with 55 short stories featuring unforgettable characters who discover, in the midst of difficult circumstances, the true meaning of Christmas.

Once Upon a Christmas is book filled with 55 short stories that will make you  smile and help get you into the joyous fuzzy warm feeling of Christmas. The short chapters lend itself for quick heartwarming reading. 

3.0 Stars!

Thanks to Shiloh Run Press and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Wishing you all ...

A Very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Advent in Narnia: Reflections for the Season by Heidi Haverkamp

  • ISBN-10: 0664261264
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664261269


"Walking into Advent can be like walking through the wardrobe."
With its enchanting themes of snow and cold, light and darkness, meals and gifts, temptation and sin, forgiveness and hope--and even an appearance by Father Christmas--C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe fits naturally into the Advent season. As the reader seeks a storied king and anticipates the glorious coming of Christmas, these twenty-eight devotions alternate between Scripture and passages from the novel to prompt meditation on Advent themes. Each devotion also includes questions for reflection. The book also provides several resources for churches, including four sessions for small group discussion and ideas for creating a "Narnia Night" for families. Readers will ultimately come to know God better while journeying through Narnia.

Advent in Narnia by Heidi Haverkamp  offers a refreshing, new perspective for Advent combining the Chronicles of Narnia (specifically The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe)  along with the traditional focus of Advent for the season. It is a creative and unique concept and one the author states is to "... my purpose for writing this book is not to help you to know Narnia better but to know God better." 

The chapters are short, engaging and insightful. They start with a Biblical quote, move on to the message and end with questions for reflections. The author provides prompts for each chapter letting you know what portion of the book to read. She also suggests the option of following along with the movie and has added a wonderful list at the back of the book (Appendix A) of the different versions that have been made. 

At the end, Ms. Haverkamp offers ideals for a 'Narnia night for Families' that can be for church gathering or scaled down to an individual family night. She also offers recommendations regarding individual study, group and family study as well. Overall, the author's love of  God and for The Chronicles of Narnia come shining though each page and I highly recommend this book!

I'd like to finish off this post with a favorite quote from this book ~ "Advent is a time to step into a world of imagination and wonder."

5 Stars!

Thank you to Westminster John Knox Press and Edelweiss for the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Baking with Mary Berry: Cakes, Cookies, Pies and Pastries from the Brittish Queen of Baking

  • ISBN-10: 1465453237
  • ISBN-13: 978-1465453235


Baking with Mary Berry draws on Mary's more than 60 years in the kitchen, with tips and step-by-step instructions for bakers just starting out and full-color photographs of finished dishes throughout. The recipes follow Mary's prescription for dishes that are no fuss, practical, and foolproof—from breakfast goods to cookies, cakes, pastries, and pies, to special occasion desserts such as cheesecake and souffl├ęs, to British favorites that will inspire.
Whether you're tempted by Mary's Heavenly Chocolate Cake and Best-Ever Brownies, intrigued by her Mincemeat and Almond Tart or Magic Lemon Pudding, or inspired by her Rich Fruit Christmas Cake and Ultimate Chocolate Roulade, the straightforward yet special recipes in Baking with Mary Berry will prove, as one reviewer has said of her recipes, "if you can read, you can cook."

Let me just start out this review with an ...
 "Oh my goodness ~ I'm in Dessert Heaven!"  

I can cook well but I've not been much of a baker. After watching The Great British Bake Off (and drooling over all of those luscious sweets), I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to review Mary Berry's newest cookbook, Baking with Mary Berry

I was enthralled by the recipes in this cookbook
Baking With Mary Berry but also a bit nervous because some of them are rather fancy. I wondered if I would ever be able to make them?  But as I love desserts of most any kind, I decided to go for it!  

Her recipes are clear, understandable and each recipes is written with our American measurements which makes it so much easier than having to convert to the metric measurements.  

I plan to start with the simpler muffin recipes, chocolate cake and brownies then work my way up to the more fancier desserts like coffee eclair, royal raspberry tart.  I don't think my family will mind being my taste testers; they're already going through the cook book marking down the recipes they would like to have me make. {Smile}

This book would make a fantastic gift for someone in your life who loves to bake or is yearning to learn. At the time of this post ~ Ama*zon has a special ($1.99) on sale for the kindle version of Baking with Mary Berry.

5 Stars! 

Thank you to Edelweiss and DK publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review. 

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

  • ISBN-10: 0718026268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718026264


The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.
Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry.
Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again—this time, to the large city of Hagenheim.
The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight—Sir Gerek—Rapunzel in turn rescues him farther down the road. As a result, Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read. Could there be more to this knight than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position?
As Rapunzel acclimates to life in a new city, she uncovers a mystery that will forever change her life. In this Rapunzel story unlike any other, a world of secrets and treachery is about to be revealed after seventeen years of lies. How will Rapunzel finally take control of her own destiny? And who will prove faithful to a lowly peasant girl with no one to turn to?
The Golden Braid is a delightful, page-turning retelling of the story of Rapunzel. Dickerson brings this familiar fairy tale to life with a fresh and unique plot that is full of complex characters, a sweet romance, and danger at every turn. Rapunzel’s search to understand her place in the medieval world is a timeless identity struggle that modern readers will relate to. Her growing courage and faith are inspirational and will have readers cheering her on and sad to see the story come to an end.”

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson is the first book I have read by this author and I was pleasantly surprised! The story she created in her re-telling of Rapunzel is unique, creative and enchanting. 

In this story, Rapunzel was much more of a realistic person to me than the original fairy tale version.  I cheered her on as I read each page.  I also enjoyed seeing Rapunzel as a strong woman in her own right.

I enjoyed seeing how Ms. Dickerson weaved in the basics of the original fairy tale with her own version of this story. I found this story to be delightful! 

I enjoyed The Golden Braid and I am looking forward to reading some more of Ms. Dickerson's other books in this upcoming year!

4 Stars!

Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishing and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey ~ Waiting on Wednesday

WOW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights soon to be released books that each of us are eagerly waiting to read. 

My pick this week ... 

  • Release Date ~ Jul 12, 2016

  • Book 2 in The Girl at Midnight series

  • ISBN-10: 0385744676
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385744676


   Everything in Echo's life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.

   The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart.
   Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she's already overcome.

   She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight.
   Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature--or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what's left of her world to the ground?

   Welcome to the shadow hour.

Why this book?

I read the The Girl at Midnight, the first book in this series and was completely hooked. It was a really good book - well written, intriguing characters and setting. Lots of action, suspense and a bit of romance too. I can't wait to read The Shadow Hour!

What books are you waiting for?