New Reviews

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Farmer and the Poor GodFarmer and the Poor God by Ruth Wells
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Farmer and the Poor God by Ruth Wells is a Japanese folk tale about appreciating what you have. The story is about a farmer who is very poor and wants to have more money because he is hungry and has many children to feed. He feels that the god they have in their house must be a poor God who cursed them. As the family is about to leave the poor God starts to make saddles so he can go with the family. While the father dreads every being able to escape this poor God, he starts to make money off the saddles the God is making. Eventually, the family comes to understand what being rich truly means, when you have family and friends you are rich.
This is an excellent folk tale to share with children. In the era when Bruno Mars is singing about being billionaire it’s nice to read a story set in wholesome values of friendship and family.
In the end this book is a great title to borrow from your local library.

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Poseidon's Arrow (Dirk Pitt Adventure)Poseidon’s Arrow by Clive Cussler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The 22nd volume in the Dirk Pitt Adventure Series continues the formula that has driven the action since the 1970’s. In this volume a high tech futuristic motor has been stolen and it is up to Pitt to find the one responsible and find it and return it to the US Government. This series is like a Hardy Boys book jacked up with Indiana Jones and Bond style action. A terrific beach read! Hardcore fans who love the series may want to own this book but it does not stand out among the 22 volumes. In the end this is a volume you may want to buy used or borrow from the library to enjoy on the beach.

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Guest Post

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How Technology Has Changed the Way Children Discover Books


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that computers have affected how we learn—how could sitting in front of a screen all day not alter the way our brains work?

For kids on the verge of learning how to read, this can be a difficult time for parents to sit down and use old methods for engagement, but resulting just to technology is not the way either. Instead, reach a happy medium between a regular bedtime reading session, supplemented with interactive games, traveling libraries, and opportunities for your child to learn new vocabulary with

Combats Shorter Attention Spans

Adults aren’t the only ones experiencing a change in attention. It’s filtering all the way down to the kids as well, and recognizing that children engage differently today than they did ten years ago is the answer to making great things happen.

From targeting our insecurities to sensory overload, the technology age and too much screen time has scientists believing our attention spans have dialed all the way down to 8 seconds. And for kids that are spending 6-12 hours in front a screen per day, it’s a lesson in how damaging technology can be to our concentration.

The good news is that Google’s vice president of research, Alfred Spector, has discoveries to be optimistic about; according to research, even average students can move to the top 2 percent of the class if they find a tutor or tools that can match the student’s thinking and learning style. With millions of avenues for discovery out there (thank you, apps!), this can be a great sign for your new reader.

Makes Reading Accessible

The days of spending hours at the library between the stacks, discovering new authors and new favorites aren’t behind us, partially because even libraries have updated with on-the-go, modern features such as e-books where you can check out library books for free online with the help of a VPN. But the great thing about the tablet is kids don’t have to leave the books, they can take them wherever they go.

Kid-friendly tablets range from the nabi DreamTab and Amazon Fire HD to the Kurio Xtreme 2 and Sprout Channel, and each is good for different learning levels. While the nabi and the Amazon Fire are outfitted for the older set, the Kurio and Sprout Channel are optimized for younger kiddos just getting started. Check out this parental guide from Top 10 Reviews for a breakdown of each device.

Engages with Apps

Kids already have a natural affinity for the tablets, so why not let them explore helpful games while they are enjoying some self-guided screen time? From learning vocab words to building storylines, these apps are kid tested for being fun, engaging and an excellent method for learning.

– Endless Alphabet: Use this app to help children learn valuable vocabulary words.
– Pango Free: Kids get the chance to interact with stories by shaking and jiggling characters to change the plotline.
– Encyclopedia Britannica: You can trust that when they have “what” or “why” questions that this classic tool is going to give them the correct facts every time.
– Playtales: If bilingual (trilingual or multilingual as well) is something you’re interested in, this app allows you to get movies in up to eight different languages, helping to bridge the gap and start kids with a new language.
– MeeGenius: With over 700 titles and new authors every day, children can learn by reading aloud themselves or letting the app be the king of story time with read-along options.
– Hop On Pop: Favorite author Dr. Seuss gets an app upgrade with this read-along app that helps kids recognize key vocabulary words through highlighting. Also has great read along voice recordings to make reading alone more fun.

Although all of these instantly gratifying tools for helping your child learn to read are awesome, they also should come with a bit of warning. Like anything, limitations are a great thing, so just make sure your kid has plenty of down time between play sessions, gets plenty of good exercise and stays hydrated throughout their time on the tablet. That way they can focus on their studies while they’re inside on the screen, and then play to their hearts content elsewhere—something scientists also say is vital to the learning process and a great help to promoting literacy!

Author Bio: Caroline is a blogger who splits her time between writing about entertainment and reading her way through the stacks at Barnes and Noble. Whether it’s written or watchable, great storytelling is her weakness, and she’s out to share the written (and spoken) word with the world. You can find her on Twitter @CultureCovC.

Review: The Mad Dash

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The Mad Dash - Bite My DustThe Mad Dash – Bite My Dust by Tom Kiernan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Mad Dash is the first in a series of middle grade novels from new author Tom Kiernan. It is the summer before the final year of Junior High School and three friends are involved in an adventure that they will never forget. After finding out he has cancer Hank is determined to make the most of the last year he has to live. He is enjoying all the time he can with his friends Bones and CJ.
But when a friend is kidnapped off the street they are in for an adventure involving something that could save the summer and Hank’s life, a phone that can be used to time travel.

This is a short 225 page novel that is great for the middle school grades of 6-8. Readers will like the humor that is ramped throughout the entire novel. Kiernan’s use of humor balances the tragedy of the cancer diagnosis. With short chapters, humor and adventure The Mad Dash is a good pick for fans of The Fault in Our Stars and Doctor Who. Kiernan spends enough time developing the characters and friendships to give weight to the cancer diagnosis. Action scenes fill the story leading up to a cliff hanging ending that will leave the reader begging for book 2. Hopefully Kiernan can write fast.

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Review: In the After Light

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In The Afterlight (The Darkest Minds, #3)In The Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! In the After Light is the final volume of the Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken. Trilogies are tricky things. Especially when volume one starts off so strong. The Darkest Minds was one of my favorite books of 2012, Never Fade avoided the book 2 let down trap. Volume 3 finishes the trilogy strong. Ruby is working with the children’s league to find the cure and help free all the kids that have been kept in the camps. But there are secrets about what the government has been doing since Ruby escaped that will shock everyone.
In the After Light has everything you would want after reading the other two books in this series. It also is one of my favorite books of the year. In the After Light is definitely a BUY!

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Defender Review

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DefenderDefender by Graham McNamee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A copy was provided by Random House in exchange for an honest review.

Buy or Borrow? Borrow

Defender is a good book. It is is murder mystery that hits all the right notes. It does have a strong Rear Window vibe, but in a good way. Tyne Greer has hurt her knee and is recovering from her leg injury when she discovers a dead body in the basement. When she confronts her father he denies it is there and makes her feel like she was seeing things. She continues to investigate and uncovers a murder from years past and works to solve the murder. There are many similarities here to Rear Window, but Defender does make itself unique enough that it does not feel like a complete rip off. The similarities at first hit hard with that vibe but as the book progresses, it fades to more of a homage to the classic Hitchcock story.
Defender makes an excellent rainy day or beach day read. It is a fast paced story that does not need a sequel but lives well as a stand alone.

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2 New Reviews

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Charlie the Ranch Dog: Charlie Goes to the DoctorCharlie the Ranch Dog: Charlie Goes to the Doctor by Ree Drummond
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Easy Reader
Charlie the Ranch Dog Charlie goes to the Doctor is a beginning early reader book about a dog named Charlie. Charlie is not feeling well and has to go to the vet. He is nervous but learns that it is not a big deal and he feels better when he gets home. This is a good book to discuss how animals have to go to the vet and how it’s important for people to visit the doctor. This book is best for late Kindergarten and first grade as it is written specifically for that level of reader.
Early readers are so thin and children progress through the levels at different paces. I think this is a good book to borrow from the library.

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Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first book in a fantasy series. Jess lives in a world where the library of Alexandria survived. The library itself has a major influence on the governments of the world. It controls information. This is a world where the library of Alexandria survived but there was no printing press invented. Books remain as rare as they were preGuteenberg. Thus they are valuable and a target for smugglers. Jess comes from a family of book smugglers. He gets sent to infiltrate the library in order to steal valuable books for his family to sell.
This book was exciting, the characters were well developed and likable. There are times that it seemed to drag a little and could have been a little shorter. Overall, I think it is worth borrowing from the library.

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Reviews coming Soon… And BookCon

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I will have more reviews up soon.  I have been very busy with my full time job and have not had as much time to read as I would like lately.

Last week I went to BookCon in Chicago.  It was a ton of fun and I met Alexandra Bracken the author of the Darkest Minds Series.

I read Ink and Bone last week and will hopefully have the review up soon.  I finish school in a few weeks and I look forward to having more time to dedicate to reading.

Currently I’m reading In the After Light by Alexandra Bracken

Enemy Pie Review

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Enemy PieEnemy Pie by Derek Munson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Enemy Pie by Derek Munsun is an excellent book about getting along with others for children in grades K-3. The main character is being bullied by a boy named Jeremy. He has decided that Jeremy is his enemy. His father decides to try to help, telling him about the “Enemy Pie” guaranteed to make enemies disapear. To make it work there are rules though.
This book is very well written and approaches the subject of bullying in a very delicate and poignant way. The illustrations by Tara Calahan King are very appealing too.
This is definitely a book to borrow from the library and share with someone who is being bullied at school or elsewhere in life.

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