Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cragbridge Hall: The Inventor’s Secret ~ Blog Tour

I love books that can combine learning with a good storyline/plot, and Chad Morris pulls it off in a big way with this book.  I will add that there were some incredible facts in the book that must have cost the author hours of research time to get right. Impressive in scope and detail.” ~ Kevin Hiatt, online reviewer

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/1/?ui=2&ik=9d27dcc408&view=att&th=13c8d3025a15dd33&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P9Wr6w2JBVKXb2umT2S5lyw&sadet=1364350582220&sads=ruFerXK-mofGAZ0RkNFnGhKkmg0Cragbridge Hall: The Inventor’s Secret 
by Chad Morris
ISBN: 978-1-60907-326-8 
$12.23 (paperback)
$9.99 (kindle)

About the book:
Imagine a school in the year 2074 where students don't read history, but watch it happen around them; where running in gym class isn't around a track, but up a virtual mountain; and where learning about animals means becoming one through an avatar. Welcome to Cragbridge Hall, the most advanced and prestigious school in the world.

Twins Abby and Derick Cragbridge are excited as new students to use their famed grandfather's inventions that make Cragbridge Hall so incredible. But when their grandfather and parents go missing, the twins must follow a mysterious trail of clues left by their grandfather. They must find out where their family is, learn who they can trust, and discover what secrets are hidden within Cragbridge Hall.

Abby and Derick soon realize they are caught in a race with a fierce adversary to discover their grandfather's greatest secret—a dangerous discovery that could alter both history and reality.

My thoughts:
The Inventor's Secret is a great book filled with action and beautiful, sweeping displays of actual history in 3D (my favorite part of the book is the indepth descriptions of the history lessons). After receiving a locket from their grandfather who is the founder of Cragbridge Hall and an inventor extraordinaire they find themselves on an adventure of a lifetime when their grandfather and parents disappear leaving the kids to find their family and solve a riddle and mystery in order for them to succeed.

This is the 1st book in the Cragbridge Series - I'll be honest I did have some issues getting into this book. It's very well written which is wonderful however I found it a bit slow. Derick is a genius among all the other gifted kids who have helped society in some way. Unfortunately Abby who never seemed to have a problem with not being a genius finds herself on the wrong side of the door to her new room and with her new roommate who thinks she was only allowed to come to Cragbridge Hall because she is the founder's granddaughter. Abby's character seemed to be more thought out than Derick's and really I felt this was Abby's story. I'd suggest this book for girls in the 5th to 7th grade years and thought it would be a great mother/daughter book that would open discussions about preteen feelings (we all know they have them) and how what we say and do affects those around us. 

Disclaimer: I was offered a copy of the book to read and review on CCB. I was not required to have a positive review and no money exchanged hands. 

We are linked up @ 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My Very First Easter Story Sticker Book ~ Book Review

Easter's coming up fast! It's early this year and already Connor is talking about how "Jesus died to take away our sins". He has to tell everyone and will tell them over and over until they acknowledge what he said. Hailey so far totally blows him off and won't even answer him. Sierra (3) doesn't have a clue what he's talking about so far - but Connor, he definitely is in AWE of Jesus and that he LOVES him more than even his Mom and Dad does. (Do I hear a collective AWE....?) 

My Very First Easter Story Sticker Book
by Lois Rock
ISBN: 9780745962825
$5.49 (paperback)

The Easter Story Sticker Book is a step above regular sticker books. Of course, you'll find the stickers (there are about 40 of them) in the center of the book. You'll find the Easter Story beginning with Jesus riding the Donkey into Jerusalem, the overturning of the tables in the Temple Marketplace, the trial and crucifiction of Christ as well as the resurrection and Jesus showing himself to his disciples and the women at the tomb. The only thing I saw missing was the Ascention (the story stops when Jesus tells people to tell everyone they can be friends with God). 

But this sticker book takes it 2 steps further - there are 2 pages that show in 8 vinettes the complete story of Jesus from his birth, childhood, healing the sick and explaining that He is now in heaven making a place for those who love him. The last page also has an Easter Prayer.
This is a beautiful book - the story of Easter is told on the top 2/3's of each page and the bottom has interactive questions that you can ask your child to help with comprehension and to get them thinking... (ex: there are 3 pictures and the caption reads: "When are these children saying their prayers?" Mealtime, Quiet Time and Bedtime.)

Sierra and I will truly enjoy this interactive book and I'm sure Connor will be all over it. I'm just waiting for the day he truly understands what Christ did for him and everyone else. =D

A couple of suggestions:
1) Laminate the book and stickers and use small pieces of velcro on the back of the sticker to be able to reuse it over and over. Add a baggie or a pocket to the back to store the pieces.
2) Add copies of the other books in this series to expand your child's understanding of other stories in the Bible. My Very First Noah & the Ark and also My Very First Jonah and the Whale.

This series of books is for children 3 and older due to the small pieces. However there is quite a LOT of text so if your child still has a hard time sitting and listening to a lot of reading and is tough on toys or books I would wait till they get a little older (4 or so) - this book is a parent-child read together type book so you can answer questions and read to them.

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book to read and review on CCB. I was not required to have a positive review and no money exchanged hands.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Risk ~ The Quest for Truth series review

Risk is the 2nd book in The Quest for Truth series by Brock Eastman who is a well known Young Adult Christian author. He has also written a few books in the Imagination Station series as well as The Sages of Darkness series.

by Brock Eastman
ISBN: 978-1596382466
$ 11.04 (paperback)
$ 6.99 (kindle)

About the book:

The Quest for Truth series follows the four Wikk siblings in their desperate race to find the mysterious planet Ursprung and stop the Übel renegades from misusing its long-lost secrets. Ancient cities, treacherous villains, high-tech gadgets, the Phoenix—encounter all these and more on this futuristic, interplanetary adventure.

Book 2: As Oliver leads his siblings on their search for their parents, they are taken to a remote planet called Evad. Here they must evade the swarming Ubel soldiers, out run stalking black creatures, and stay free of snaking vines, all while trying to unlock the Truth and find clues to set their parents free. In the second installment of The
Quest for Truth series, Risk, the kids will face greater dangers and more complex puzzles. They’ll meet new people, and have to decide to trust them or not. Will the kids rescue their parents or be captured themselves?

My thoughts:

Risk in the 2nd book in the fascinating The Quest for Truth Series for kids 9 and up. You can read my review of Book 1: Taken by clicking here

I love this series. It's fast paced, thought provoking, FUN and kept ME on the edge of my seat. It is a great read-aloud series for families to read in the evening or for teachers & librarians to read aloud. 

"Remember those who gave us hope and honor them in all you do."

Risk opens with the kids traveling through space once again. Austin is beginning to be rebellious and strains against Oliver's orders constantly throughout the first 1/2 to 2/3'ds of the book. He's frustrated with being treated like a little kid and wants only to prove himself. Unfortunately Oliver and Tiffany are so busy telling him what to do that they aren't willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He ends up going off on his own and finding himself in hot water more than a few times until he meets Brother Sam who teaches him how to FIND the Truth.

"Sometimes that which sets us free is not visible to the naked eye, yet is there in our time of need. Faith is much that way - it is not seen, but having it leads to the Truth." ~ Brother Sam

Each book is based on a theme and is written to give kids something to think about. Risk is based on The Battle for Truth and uses many riddles, puzzles, keys and games to encourage kids to learn about and realize that we use Truth in many ways and often we must use our Faith when we have nothing else to lean on. There is also a heavy dose of Faith & Trust throughout Risk as well. You'll find a lot of symbolism throughout the story such as a pool of "blood" which turns out to be rubies, cross-shaped keys and a cross-shaped pool. The cross symbolizes Truth. 

So far, I've found this series very action packed, fun to read and I'm sure more than one kid has wished he was on this ride for real. It's part Star Trek and part Cowboy and part Indiana Jones' quest for the grail. Your kid's will immediately identify with the Wikk kids and will totally understand Austin's desire for acceptance - as well as the wild ride they are going through (including the water slides, creepy bugs, crazy riddles that make no sense and the concern the kid's feel for their parents).

I said it in my review for Taken - the only thing missing in this series are a set of discussion questions at the back of the book - although the author does have a chapter by chapter discussion of Risk on his website with some questions scattered throughout. Click here - it might be fun to do a contest where he posts questions on a weekly basis as well as riddles & puzzles for the kids to solve for a prize of some sort - or even just for fun. =D

(One thought that came to me several times as I read Risk is that this series would make a WONDERFUL computer game. Many of the puzzles & riddles could easily be adapted to a more visual form and I personally would love to play the game. The illustrations for the book are beautiful too and the cover of the books are very eye-catching and sure to draw kids right in to the story - wonder if they could be adapted for the game? =D)

This is a FUN series that will hold your kid's attention and that your kid's will want to read in FULL. Unleash is the next book in the series and we will be reviewing Unleash in June, I believe, as part of the 3rd annual Middle Grade Summer Book Club. So please stay tuned for that! 

To keep track of what Brock is working on, visit BrockEastman.com. 
Or connect with Brock at:
Twitter: @bdeastman
Facebook: facebook.com/eastmanbrock
Blogger: thequestfortruthbooks.blogspot.com/
YouTube: youtube.com/user/FictionforAll/videos 


Disclaimer: I was given a copy of Risk to read & review on CCB. I was not required to post a positive review and no money exchanged hands. 

We are linked up to: 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Melissa & Doug Easter Shop and Giveaway

Enter Our Easter Basket Giveaway!
Well, Melissa & Doug are at it again! This time they are setting up a $200 Giveaway for one lucky reader and one LUCKY Blog gets to host that giveaway! So, if you had a $200 Giftcard to your child's favorite toy store what would you get? To help you get started, Melissa & Doug has opened their Easter Store for your convenience!

Here's what caught MY eye if I WIN!:
Flower Power Bead Set

Puzzle Prepack with FREE On the Go Farm Jigsaw Puzzle 
(Puzzle Value Pack)
 Deluxe Puppet Theater with FREE Chef Puppet
(Puppet Theatre & Puppets)

Disclaimer: CCB participates in special promotions for a few companies, no money exchanged hands and I was not required to post a positive review. One lucky blogger will win the opportunity to hold a $200 Easter Basket Giveaway on their own blog for their readers!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Secret of Maggie's Swamp

The Secret of Maggie's Swamp banner 

Pump Up Your Book Presents The Secret of Maggie’s Swamp Virtual Book Publicity TourThe Secret of Maggie's Swamp
by Paul A Barra
ISBN: 978-0986865756
$ 11.95 (paperback)

About the book:
In this middle-grade mystery-adventure, a twelve-year-old girl discovers a grave injustice in the 1980s South when a neighbor is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Penny must find the courage to use her unique gift – her uncanny ability to foresee the future – to thwart a crazed desperado and find a treasure that will prove her neighbor’s innocence.

Poor Penelope Andrews. Her neighbor is being hunted, her friend is comatose after encountering a rogue alligator in a black-water swamp, and her mother has formed the wild impression that Penny has some sort of special gift from God! What else could go wrong? Oh yes: the FBI wants to speak with her. And, a dangerous criminal is stalking her.

My thoughts:
The Secret of Maggie's Swamp left me with quite a few feelings after I finished reading it this evening. When I first began reading this and realized how slow the book was going to be I truly thought I wasn't going to like this book ~ but as the story continued, the intrigue built and the mystery of where $500,000 cash went I found I connected with each of the characters in the book & I ended up loving it.

Maggie's Swamp reminds me a LOT of To Kill a Mockingbird (which I hated) - the story is based in the South, it's very slow and the language in the book are what made me connect the two books. While Mockingbird deals with racism in the 1960's South, this book is set in the 1980's (although as I read I thought it seemed more like the mid 70's) and it deals with someone who is accused and sentenced for a crime he didn't commit. Penny decides to solve the mystery and help this man who has lost his freedom, his family and respect due to one bad decision. 

This is an outstanding book & would make a great read for a teen book club or for family discussions in the evening during read aloud sessions. The only thing missing from the book is a series of discussion questions. (I really wish I had been able to feature this book during our Middle Grade Summer Book Club - it would be great for guys or girls.)

Parents Note: This book references the Main Characters "Gift". Penny has the ability to "sense" things. She isn't fully aware yet what her true gift is and her mother is supportive but doesn't make a big deal of it. It seems like she is supposed to be Psychic - or at least has some sort of "sixth sense". The author does show how Penny "opens her mind" to let the gift happen but that is really about it. 

It's an exciting read for children ages 8 through 12. Available in bookstores, on Amazon.com and from Brownridge Publishing. 

About the author: 
Paul A. Barra.jpgPaul A. Barra is a decorated war veteran, a teacher and a freelance journalist. He previously was a reporter for local newspapers and won numerous awards from the South Carolina Press Association. He was the senior staff writer for the Diocese of Charleston and won numerous awards from the Catholic Press Association, a national organization. Earlier publications include four independent science readers (Houghton Mifflin), a novel (“Crimson Ring,” Eagle Press) and a nonfiction book about the formation and success of a Catholic high school, despite diocesan opposition (“St. Joe’s Remarkable Journey,” Tumblar House). He is under contract for the publication of a historical novel called “Murder in the Charleston Cathedral.”(Chesterton Press).

Visit Paul’s website at www.paulbarra.com.

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book to read and review on CCB through the Pump Up Your Book Blogger Program. I was not required to have a positive review and no money exchanged hands.