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Love Overdue
Pamela Morsi
Deep in the Valley (Grave Valley Trilogy)
Robyn Carr
Desire Unchained
Larissa Ione
The Vampire Wardens and Werewolf Society 5 Story Box Set
Lisa Renee Jones
Blood Awakening (Blood Curse, #2)
Tessa Dawn
Hot Vampire Kiss (Vampire Wardens, #1)
Lisa Renee Jones
Stinger (Sign of Love, #3)
Mia Sheridan

History of Counting

The History of Counting - Denise Schmandt-Besserat, Michael Hays Simple enough to read to earlier elementary, yet complex enough history to interest a middle schooler, this book is great for a multi-age grouping. We read it in association with our ancient history studies. It covers not only the evolution of abstract counting from the Sumerians on through a googleplex, but covers the supposed why of evolution from concrete counting in different areas of the world to the shift to abstract number systems. I too learned interesting facts (like body counting systems), and the pictures were good too. Length of this book was not overwhelming for short attention spans, but left plenty to delve into with older learners (via internet, other books, etc). Excellent introduction to the topic.

Chasing Sam (Vegas Mates, #1)

Chasing Sam (Vegas Mates, #1) - Krystal Shannan It was okay, writing okay, plot okay though not a lot was explained due to the length. No serious grammar problems in the novel. I wish it would have been longer to explain the animosity and strange undercurrents within the family of the heroine.


Croco'nile - Roy Gerrard We read this as part of our Egypt studies in history. I read it with a 1st, 3rd and 6th grader (to give background). Everyone enjoyed it, but this one is best read aloud, especially for the youngest. The story is written in free verse, so it is especially good as a read aloud, and can be used as part of your literature study (of course) in free verse.

Highlights of the story are two children become friends with a crocodile, go on adventures without the crocodile, excel in artistry of the time (sculpting and painting), get into a scrape with villains and then are rescued by their friend the crocodile in the end. Aside from the free verse aspect (loved that), I didn't find the plot of this one all that good. Our friend the crocodile was missing through all the story except the very beginning and the end yet got billing in the title. That the kids are saved by a creature usually reserved for the villain of tales, of course, is a nice touch. The plot touched on the flooding of the Nile annually, traveling by boat for trade and the art of the times, all great touches. The fact that both kids excelled and became masters of their craft with very little time seemed not great to me, probably because we had just studied the requirements to be an artist of the time in the great pyramids. People reading this for enjoyment only would likely pass over that aspect without a problem. It is, after all, a children's book with a crocodile hero.

The illustrations I didn't find all that wonderful in this one. They are more bland, not as vivid, though certainly not awful. They just didn't hold attention as well for my kids, a minor thing to note, especially if you are holding this book up in front of a class as a read aloud. They are not bright enough to be seen as well. All in all, a nice read though, good length, lyrical.

The Scarab's Secret

The Scarab's Secret - Nick Would This is a folktale-style story of the little scarab beetle, Khepri, and his adventure with the pharaoh, saving him from death at the hands of two villains in the tale. Yep, that is the tale, and it is simple. That is not really what is great about this book, of course, though we all appreciate that an insignificant little critter saves the life of a mighty pharaoh, thus telling our kids that everyone can do great things! The illustrations in this one are awesome, colorful, detailed, reminding one of fresco paintings. The pictures detailing the interior of the buildings showed heiroglyphs, my kids of course finding the representations of ones they knew, ones we had been studying.

The pacing of and length of this tale, combined of course with the great illustrations, made this a perfect read-aloud for us. I actually used this one in co-op, so I had a group of 10 kids from pre-K to 6th grade. All of them enjoyed it immensely, saying a lot about the appeal, right? Highly recommend this one for just fun or to incorporate in your Egypt history studies.
Millions to Measure - David M. Schwartz,  Steven Kellogg (Illustrator) Take a trip with Marvelosissimo the Mathematical Magician in his hot air balloon! In this book, we travel back into time to discover the origins of measurements, first in feet and pounds, following that into standardization of the foot, expansion into large units and finally introducing the metric system. The book ends with a comparison of the two systems, and comments that the US will likely eventually switch over to metric to join the rest of the world. :) This is one of those great resources that is very educational, packed with information and still fun enough that my 1st grader understood the material and commented, "That was a great story!" Perfect for some living math into your kid's day. A little bit of an appendix in the back expands on the information presented in a more detailed and factual manner for parent or educator if you want to expand the lesson. The book does not cover Celsius versus Fahrenheit at all, but the appendix covers it some if you want to present it also as an expansion of the topic.

Illustrations are cartoony with comments bubbles, a style most kids like. And who could dislike "Hercules the Huggable Hippo"? Excellent book for fun or teaching.

Forbidden Call (New Breeds, #1)

Forbidden Call (New Breeds, #1) - Martha Bourke Great start to a new series. This book did suffer from the usual problems of a new series, meaning there was a lot of world-building necessary to explain the entire setup of a new breed of shifter, who the protagonist group was, what the world looks like in the alternative world, etc., etc. That can really bog down a book, and this book was indeed a little slow after the initial couple chapters (which set up our hero and heroine quickly), picking up again after the halfway mark.

The New Breed shifters are the good guys in the new world set up, called by the Mayan Goddess to serve, and given special new strength and powers to survive. As is common with some other of the genre, they start all male (except for mates), all huge, and living communally in the brotherhood mansion. Yeah, this has some similarities with other series for sure, but has some new things as well.

The last few chapters were quite exciting and interesting as the author finished the setup of the conflict for the series. Can't wait for the next one. :)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookRooster to review.
Chee-Lin: A Giraffe's Journey - James Rumford This is the tale of Tweega (Swahili for "giraffe") and his journey from his home in Africa, captured and taken across the continents, ending finally in Peking more than 20 years later. Along the way, Tweega meets different people and experiences new things.

What is unique and wonderful about this book is not the plot as it is, but the beautiful lyrical language and gorgeous illustrations. This book really was a treat to read aloud and look at with my kids. It is quite long for a picture book, and is best probably broken up over several days or more. Each 2-page spread really serves as a chapter or section, and can be broken up that way.

The first pages tell of what a chee-lin is (mythological horned beast) and an omen of good fortune to the Chinese.

If you read this, notice at the back the nice map of the world highlighting Tweega's travels. I wish I had noted this first so we could have referenced it during the story.

This book is definitely a 5-star read, not to be missed.


Sorting - Lynn Peppas Packed with an incredible introduction to mathematical concepts in a short 24 pages, but it felt rushed and the pictures were very blah and uninspired. Are there no better things to sort than socks? Maybe some colorful birds or something a little more interesting?

There is nothing inaccurate on the definitions or descriptions, but there is nothing outstanding about this book either. I choose and read science and math picture books to my kids to give that something "extra" to inspire an interest in what can be a dry topic (thinking math here for kids). This book just didn't fit my requirements, too dull.

Sister Anne's Hands

Sister Anne's Hands - Marybeth Lorbiecki, Wendy Popp Sister Anne is a new 2nd grade teacher during the 1960s. This brief story touches on a lot of important and difficult issues during those times, such as racial discrimination, in a brief and respectful way a grade school child can understand, leaving them open for further discussion at a level your particular audience can appreciate.

Painters of the Caves

Painters of the Caves - Patricia Lauber This is an outstanding book for kids on cave painters/ice age peoples. The photographs are some of the best I have seen in kids books to show the actual paintings in the caves, but in addition there are large color photos of a computer simulated face of an early modern human, tools, etc.

Chapters are as follows:
1. "Great Discovery" - intro and how Chauvet was discovered
2. "People of the Ice Age" - Brief depiction of early groups, Neanderthals, Cro-Magnons, what was an "ice age."
3. "A New Way of Life" - Tools invented and how that changed life.
4. "Stone Age Artists" - Early statues, beads, cave paintings including techniques
5. "What the Art May Tell" - Theories on the meaning and purpose of the art to the people
6. "The Importance of Chauvet" - Older yet as sophisticated as later, different animals, better preservation

An appendix goes into some detail on carbon-14 dating.

I found this interesting to all my school-aged children (grades 6, 3 and 1), though my 1st grader liked the pictures and my interpretation for her most. It was detailed enough to interest my 6th grader, and again the pictures helped with interest for my 3rd grader. It was the best book I have found to bridge the simpler books and the more detailed high school/adult level books on the caves, definitely a 5-star read for us.
Olive, My Love - Vivian Walsh, J. Otto Seibold This is a slightly odd picture book. For the pictures, I would give it 5 stars; the artwork is colorful and engaging for the kids and parents alike. The plot itself is cute as well, a winged dog giving his "heart" to our heroine Olive. The text though is convoluted, wordy and confusing to the toddler/young child set that the book appears to be geared towards. They miss most of the plays on words, and there is just too much text for the basic story. What is there is kind of dull as well. So I would give 3 stars to the plot, 5 for the illustrations, and averaged it out to my rating of 4 stars for the book.

What in the World Is an Inch?

What in the World Is an Inch? - Mary Elizabeth Salzmann, Diane Craig This book describes what is an inch, and then each 2-page spread has a picture and has "[Kid's name] measures the [item described]." The information was factual and accurate, but this book was pretty dull to be honest, even for the age group it was geared toward. It could have been so much better. So, it will work if you want to describe measuring in inches, but there are a whole lot of more interesting books out there to excite the imagination of a little one.


Freefall - Tess Oliver I really liked this book by a new to me author. The dialog was witty and realistic, the friends funny and the main story was a good one. The heroine was mute due to past trauma, but it was handled interestly in the story. Loved the side bits about Nana and her life. It was a bit over the top with all that had happened to the heroine in her short lifetime, but that is the theme lately with new adult. The writing flowed really well though. I would definitely try other books by this author.
Dead Sexy Dragon - Lolita Lopez The premise of this one is good: A heroine in lust with her older brother's friend (so they have some history prior to the story at least) and a hero who is a dragon shifter. Sounds like a setup for a great story. There is even a set of bad-guys with swords from lore, another great setup. For me though, it just kind of fell flat. Even with prior history/relationship between the H and h, the romance part of it was just not realistic to me, the insta-love component. On top of that, the book was very short at just over 100 pages, so not much time to set up an entire new world with secondary characters, etc., etc. The writing was fine, the story just so-so though for me.

At the end was a preview for the next in the series though, another great premise. Given that the writing was okay, I'd probably give this series another try. :)

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.
Inch by Inch - Leo Lionni Wonderful illustrations, and the story of an inchworm who measures things in nature. We use this story just for fun (of course) but also to introduce measuring for our pre-K/K level kids. The few words per 2-page spread make it also idea for the littlest readers just for fun.
Your Mother Was a Neanderthal (The Time Warp Trio) - Jon Scieszka Love this series/author to bring history alive for a kid. The reading level on this in my experience is around 2nd grade, enough words and sufficient vocabulary to be interesting but not overwhelming in length. We read this one during a study of early humans as a fun fictional read. My son (a so-so reader, age 7) had a week to read this and read it in two days, which says a lot about how much he enjoyed it.