Monday, December 29, 2014

#Review: Aoleon, the Martian Girl by Brent LeVasseur #martiangirl​ #sci-fi​ #kidsbooks


Summary:
Crop circles magically appear in Farmer Johnson’s field. A mysterious light sweeps over the night sky and awakens Farmer Johnson and Gilbert, the boy next door. 

Curious, Gilbert ventures out to discover the source of the light and stumbles into a beautiful Martian girl sitting in a crop circle. Farmer Johnson also investigates the strange light, and thinking that Gilbert and Aoléon are vandals, he chases them. But they sprint to Aoléon’s saucer and escape only to be pursued by the U.S. Air Force. 

Gilbert has never been attacked by swarms of giant killer robots. Never met strange aliens from other worlds. Never skyboarded across a megalopolis hidden deep inside an extinct volcano. Never trekked across a vast Martian desert. And never been eaten alive by a gigantic slor (well, almost never, unless you count Billy the fat bully at school). 

And luckily, he has never ever confronted an evil ruler of Mars bent on conquering the Earth to steal its cows. 

Never...until now! 

This may be the adventure Gilbert always wished for. 

If only he can survive.

My review:
This middle grade book is an absolute winner for me. I am a sci-fi kind of gal and this book was all about just that.

I could see many a kid curled up and riding along with Aoleon the martian taking in the wonders of her homeland Mars. Or better yet, just enjoying the wild ride. I know I would! The descriptive writing was fantastic. I could picture each place or 'person' through these very words.

The most amazing thing about this book was the photographs. I have read many books and never have seen photos that looked like they jumped out at you. This certainly added to the being of mesmerized by the book.

I really cannot say enough about this book except for to get a copy and then keep on reading the additional books that are to available in the new year.

5 stars for this high flying adventure!

Disclosure: I received an ARC in exchanged for my open and honest review. The views expressed here are 100% my own and may differ from yours. ~Naila Moon

Where to find the author:

Website  ~  Goodreads  ~  Facebook 
​  

Friday, December 26, 2014

#Review: Kwanzaa Kids by Joan Holub/ Illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max #Kwanzaa #Kidsbooks


Summary:
Kwanzaa is here, and there are so many fun things to do! Each day the children light another candle on the Kinara. Then they celebrate the Kwanzaa principle of the day-by working at Granny's market stand, making gifts for family and friends, playing African games, and even having a feast! A perfect way to begin teaching young children about the meaning and traditions of this joyous holiday.

My review:
Since I know very little of the celebration of Kwanzaa, I wanted to read this book from the start. Yes, I realize the book is for children but it was well put together and learned a lot!

Each day shows a different Kinara (candle holder) which symbolizes the differences in families. I of course, love this. On each page explains the days focus and pronunciation for each word or phrase. I found this to be truly awesome as I could tell right away what to perceive and learn.

Each pages characters were made in bold and colors that represent the celebration. The character focus was also based on children and how they can achieve the day's thought. Again, awesome!
What was even more fantastic was the fact that this is a flip page book. So, each page expands on the idea of the day further. This is a win for this book.

As with other books by this author, she includes a glossary in the back of the book. This was very helpful to me to understand terms, as I know it would be helpful to children who may not know about this celebration.

This is a win-win book and I am glad that I had the opportunity to read it. 5 stars!

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my open and honest opinion. The views expressed here are 100 % my own and may differ from yours.  ~Naila Moon

Where to find the author:


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

#Review: Santa's Birthday Gift by Sherrill S. Cannon #Christmas #ChristmasSpirit #Kidsbooks


Summary:
If your child or grandchild has ever wondered where Santa fits in with the traditional Christmas story, now you can read them Santa’s Birthday Gift. Finally, a book that ties two holiday traditions into one inspirational tale of wonder – as Santa brings gifts to baby Jesus. The cleverly-written, rhyming book reveals Santa’s adventure from toy maker to star follower -- right into the heart of Bethlehem where he meets Baby Jesus in the manger. Delivering toys to a king is a touching experience for both Santa and readers alike, as they discover where the tradition began -- Santa makes a promise to Jesus to bring gifts to good boys and girls each year on Jesus’ birthday.

My review:
I saved this review to be as close to Christmas as possible because  of the nature of the story. It begins with the traditional telling of Christ's birth, one which is sweet and familiar, this I liked. Then Santa is introduced as someone who visits the child in the manger and promises gifts to be brought in Jesus' name for all children, this I liked too but with reservations.

Coming from a traditional telling of Christ's birth, I would never put Santa at the manager. His story is at best an advertisement even though there was a real Saint Nicolas. However, from a literary stand point, I loved this beautiful telling of how Santa fits in to everything.

As with other books I have read from this author, she manages to write in poetic form brilliantly. Her words are expressive and naturally formed. She weaves the two stories well.

I would not consider this book a picture book, although, I suppose it is meant to be in some regard. In fact, I think an older child would be able to read this quite well as there are more words than pictures.

Overall, I do give this book 4 stars but caution my readers that may not want to merge Santa with the story of the nativity.

Disclosure: I received this book for my open and honest opinion. The views expressed here are 100% my own and may differ with yours. ~Naila Moon

Where to find the author:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

#Review: The Three Gifts by Kathie Lee Gifford/ Illustrated by Michael Storrings #ChristmasSpirit #Christmas #Kidsbooks



Summary:
The Three Gifts, a gentle narrative poem that tells the story of the Angel messengers sent by the Lord to deliver three special gifts in celebration of the birth of the Baby Jesus. The last and most exceptional of the gifts contains a secret that holds a moving message for us all. 
Inspired by the Angel Blocks ornament collaboration between Kathie Lee and Michael Storring.


My review:
At first when I started reading this book I thought it was going to be a simple story of Christ's birth. In essence, it was but it was a bit more than that too.

The angels worshiped the newborn child and brought special gifts but the gift are not just for him but all of us to share as we would share the babe. That is a nice message to hear among the overall message. I liked that the angels had no facial features but still their special-ness was known due to their given mission.

It is a truly sweet story written in simple rhyme. The pages are done beautifully in water color which does nothing but enhance the story.

This book gets a 4 stars from me.

 NOTE: The profits from each book purchased goes to help fund Childhelp, an organization that is dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book for my own collections. The views expressed here are 100% my own and may differ from yours. ~Naila Moon

Where to find the author:

Amazon
Goodreads
Facebook


Monday, December 22, 2014

#Review: The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats by Constance Corcoran Wilson/ Illustrated by Gary McCluskey



Summary:

The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats is a Seuss-ical tale for young children which builds upon the morals of the first two Christmas Cats books.
Book Three, The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats urges everyone to honor life in all its forms. Love and accept all God’s creatures. Some animals---(puppies and kitties come to mind)--- are popular with nearly everyone. Others (spiders, lizards, bats, etc.) may not seem as worthy, but all are small cogs in the universe. Bats serve a very useful purposes in God’s grand scheme. All life should be valued. The bats of story three are just as deserving of respect and have as much of a right to life as any other creature on the planet

My review:

I wished that I could say that I liked this book, that it was cute or something. Truth is, I don't.
The description calls the book Seuss-ical. However, it is anything but.

The authors attempt to rhyme fell flat. It did rhyme but it came off weird at many points.It felt like the author was really grasping to make the book something. In addition, the book seemed to end abruptly which made for more weirdness.

The only saving grace for the book is that the illustrator had bold and colorful pictures. The lights that bordered each page gave a nice feel for Christmas. Also, at the end of the book there was a coloring page and an activity for children to do.

Unfortunately, I can only give this book 2 stars and only because of the illustrator's contributions.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book for my open and honest opinion. The views expressed here are 100% my own and may differ from yours. ~Naila Moon

Where to find author:

Amazon
Goodreads



Sunday, December 21, 2014

#Review: Baby Kitten and Friends Celebrate Yule/Winter Solstice by Sherrie Dolby, Illustrated by Malgorzata Godziuk #Yule #Kidsbooks



Summary:
Baby Elephant, Baby Tiger, and Baby Bear have never celebrated Yule before. Their friend Baby Kitten invites them to Yuletide dinner where they learn about this day of celebration.

My review:
This book I found to be a nice little book from the start. Young friends have gathered together to talk about their individual celebrations at this time of year. As you would expect they are excited. Only the one, Baby Kitten, is unsure because she celebrates something different.

Curious as "kids" will be, they want to know what Yule is and as the summary states, they learn about the celebration when they go to her house. There were explanations along the way but not in an overly religious fashion but also not dumbed down either. Yule was explained enough that the characters and the readers could understand. A tiny ritual was even integrated into the book.

A nice feature as with other books I have read, is the use of a glossary in the back of the book. This certainly helped to explain some difficult words or what things are that were used for the celebration of Yule.

The reader could celebrate Yule/Winter Solstice along with the characters and still feel comfortable with their own celebrations.  I liked how the author incorporated acceptance throughout the book.

If I was to say anything negative about this book, it is the fact the author chose to have baby animals for the characters. Usually I would not mind this but it just seemed wrong for this book. I really would have liked to have seen real children. Also, since this is essentially a chapter book, albeit only three chapters, this cannot be classified as a picture book, thus the idea of "baby" anything seemed inappropriate.

In spite of what I just wrote above, I overall liked this book and give it 4 stars and a Happy Yule.

Disclosure: I picked up a Kindle copy of this book for my own use. As with other books, I have read this month, I wanted to give an over view of the celebration of Yule that you, my readers, might do. I should not have been amazed at the lack of books for children on the subject, but I was.
The views expressed here are 100% my own and may differ from yours. ~Naila Moon


Where to find the author:
Amazon
Goodreads


Reading To The Grand-kids: "Snowmen At Christmas" by Caralyn Buehner #Christmas, #ChristmasSpirit, #Kidsbooks

This is a cute book about how snowmen celebrate Christmas. I read this book on YouTube last year but it is always a good re-read for the Grand-kids of all ages. Enjoy! ~Naila Moon


Saturday, December 20, 2014

#Review: The Reindeer Keeper: Believe Again...by Barbara Briggs Ward #Christmas #ChristmasSpirit #AdultBooks


Summary:
Abbey senses something special about the little man tending to the reindeer who, along with a century-old farmhouse, a barn full of animals, and fields abounding in woods and pasture, was a gift to Abbey from a stranger. Abbey and her husband, Steve, move in just before the holidays. They have been together since the '60s, eloping when Steve returned from Vietnam. Now with Abbey's cancer in remission, they're looking forward to their boys coming home for Christmas. Turns out this Christmas proves to be more magical than anticipated as Abbey realizes an understanding never thought possible through the rekindling of a belief rooted in childhood. Of course it's who delivers this gift on Christmas Eve that gives Abbey and Steve the strength to face their greatest challenge.

My review:
I truly loved this twist on the Santa Claus story. It was a beautifully written and sentimental story about believing in what was lost as you get older. It was also about hoping, dreaming, and loving. This book had everything you would want in a sweet tale.

Abbey's cancer and her fight was in there, yes, but it also should how the love of one's family is important and needed when challenges are faced. Sometimes it even means making changes that are unexpected but well worth the change.

I loved also that this book did not end in a downer but one of hope and the idea to carry on and keep moving forward, to be child like, and keep believing even when the world tells you not too.

Awesome book and I highly recommend. 5 stars!

Disclosure: I won a paperback book from the author in a contest. The views expressed here are 100% my own and may differ from yours.

Where to find the author:




Friday, December 19, 2014

#Review: The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah by Martha Seif Simpson/ Illustrated by Durga YaThisel Bernhard #Hanukkah #Kidsbooks



Summary:
“This dreidel doesn't work!” the father had cried. “What do you mean? How can a dreidel not work?” the shopkeeper asked. It was certainly the most beautiful spinning top the shopkeeper had ever seen, with magical golden letters on its sides. But it just would not spin for two spoiled children who insisted on owning it! Later, the shopkeeper decides to try it one last time: would it spin for another child, one who carried the true spirit of Hanukkah in his heart?"

My review:
This is a delightful story that gives the true meaning for Hanukkah. The author's message is clear that only a grateful heart will see the miracles and this is something that money cannot buy. The character of the shopkeeper is reminded of this as he interacts with the various characters that come into his shop.

I enjoyed the bright illustrations and how the character's features and the toy shop drew you in. The reader cannot help but be disgusted and happy for each of the characters as you read along. This is one of the beauties of this book.

I loved the fact that in the back of the book, the author chose to explain the reason behind the celebration of Hanukkah. In addition, she told how the dreidel game is played and included a chart for the different words on the dreidel. To me, that is a win in understanding the holiday further.

I loved this book and recommend it for anyone whether you celebrate Hanukkah or not. 5 stars!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for my open and honest opinion. The views expressed here are 100% my own and may differ from yours. ~Naila Moon



Where to find the author:



 Amazon
Goodreads


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Secret Santa Book Wrap Up #Christmas #ChristmasSpirit

I participated for the first time in a Secret Santa book exchange hosted by Michelle M. of The True Book Addict. We had a limit on the amount we could spend, not including shipping. It was a small amount and I am grateful for that.



However, I think my Secret Santa went crazy but I do adore her for the gifts she sent. Lori from Psychotic State Books, sent me the sweetest Santa tea pot and cup. She also sent me the book "Wolves" and the book, "Me" by Katherine Hepburn. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#Review: The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats #Christmas, #ChristmasSpirit, #Kidsbooks


This is a small hard back picture book and ironically not one of the authors most well known. However, that does not stop the book from being colorful and imaginative. 

The book stays true to form of the traditional Christmas song. Each page gives homage to a line from the song, which is posted in its entirety on the last two pages.
The author/illustrator made each page come alive and yet also gives the feel of the original song through the character's emotions. 

I love this author's books and it is too bad that he is not around anymore to create such wonderful works. This book I give 4 stars.

Disclosure: I purchased this book for my own collections. The views expressed here are 100% my own and may differ from yours. ~Naila Moon

About the author:


Born March 11, 1916 – Died: May 6, 1983) 
An American writer and illustrator born to poor Polish-Jewish immigrants.
In 1963 he won the  Caldecott Medal for his book, The Snowy Day, which he wrote and illustrated. This book is considered a most important book in American culture as it introduced mulitcultural children into mainstream children's lit. He enjoyed collage as his main artistic medium for illustrations.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Write On Review Weekend Challenge 12/20-12/21, 2014

Write On Review-a-Thon

I found this monthly challenge from the Book Vixen. I like to challenge myself anyway but this is an extra boost because it challenges me to get things done and not procrastinate. uh hmm...

 I have listed all the books I need to yet review on a separate page tab but will certainly not get done in just a weekend. However, that is a plan for 2015 to get them all done besides all the new ones I will have.

As for what I plan to have done by the end of the year, they are listed below. I hope to get most of those pre-posted. Wish me luck and I will let you know where I am at on the 22nd!

 PS. Notice this is just not for book blogging so, if you review a different way, then that is ok too. Just get it done. *Smiles*

Review-a-Thon Details:
Reviews can be of the written variety or in video format.
This event is not limited to book reviews. If you write/vlog reviews for movies, super cool gadgets, or anything else, you are welcome to participate.
To participate, create a post on your blog with a list of reviews you need to complete. Don’t forget to grab the official blurb (above) and event button (grab code below). If you don’t have a blog, you can announce your intent to participate via social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.) with a link back to this sign up post so others can join in as well.
Add the DIRECT LINK to your sign up post to the linky found at the end of this post.
The sign up linky will be open until 11:55 pm PDT on 12/20. On 12/20, get working on those reviews!
There will be a wrap-up post linky here on The Book Vixen on 12/22.

My Review list:
Santa's Birthday Gift by Sherrill S. Cannon
The Reindeer Keeper:Believe Again by Barbara Briggs Ward
The Three Gifts: A Story About Three Angels and the Baby Jesus by Kathie Lee Gifford
The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats
Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner
Kwanzaa Kids by Joan Holub



List of Book Challenges for 2015-UPDATED

UPDATE 12/20/14
I forgot to add this challenge from Bruce at The Bookshelf Gargoyle.
Oddity Odyssey Reading Challenge 2015

There is sure to be one here at Latin@s in Kid Lit as there was this past year. It has not been announced yet though.

-----------------------------



This is an overall blog post to show some of the challenges I plan to participate in 2015. Forgive me for posting in all one blog but considering the number of challenges out there, I could be here until next year just posting the challenges themselves. Please consider this my opening post for all challenges. Note: this is by far not complete either as I know there will be others on the way.  Thanks to all! ~Naila Moon

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 5th and runs through Sunday, January 11th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 12 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

 http://thebookshelfgargoyle.wordpress.com/oddity-odyssey-reading-challenge-2015/comment-page-1/#comment-3703

 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge


2015netgalleychallenge 2015 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

#Review: Light the Candles by Joan Holub/ Illustrated by Lynne Cravath #Hanukkah #Kidsbooks




Summary:
Hanukkah is here! There are so many fun things to do-light candles in the menorah, open presents, eat latkes and chocolate coins, play the dreidel game, and more. With the turn of each page, another candle is added to the menorah and another fun element of Hanukkah is depicted.

My review:
As I have mentioned before, I think it is a great thing to have literature that speaks to all children. Children need to learn about differences and respect one another for them. That is why I was so excited to review this book about Hanukkah.

This book was sweet in nature and in general gives simple activities that Jewish children and their families may do for the eight days of Hanukkah. The author writes simple poetry for each page, which she does so well. The book is targeted at 2-6 year old's so, it is meant to be a picture book mostly.

The illustrations were bold and showed the wonderment children have as they celebrate and the fun things they get to do. I loved that this was a flap book which gave an extra boost to the story. 

I also liked that each page featured a menorah that was lit with the candles for the different days. Each menorah was created differently which at first I missed. I was humored by the cat one. Again, showing differences for each family that celebrates.

The only thing I would have liked to have seen with this book is a short glossary in the back of the book. A family or child that might have read this book may not know what some things are and a simple explanation in the back would have cleared that up. In addition, it might have been nice to see the dreidel song or a similar song added to the end of the book and maybe what each day's candle meant. I think all of these things could have been added but still give the feel of a picture book for the younger set and allow a little more for the older child.

Overall, I liked this book and glad to have it in my collection. I give it 4 stars and a Happy Hanukkah!

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book for my open and honest opinion. The opinions expressed here are 100% my own and may differ from yours.


Where to find the author:


Amazon
Facebook
Goodreads

Monday, December 15, 2014

#Review: The Thursday Night Club: Tale of Christmas Spirit #Christmas #ChristmasSpirit #AdultBooks





Summary:
Five college friends, three men and two women, have been getting together every Thursday night to share humble meals and an abundance of laughter. But when tragedy takes one of them, leaving the others to question the fairness of life, the Thursday Night Club decides to embark on a contest in the memory of the generous spirit of their fallen brother. The objective of the contest is simple: whoever performs the kindest deed by Christmas night wins the pot – four quarters. And there are only two conditions: the benevolent deed must be anonymous, and it cannot cost a single penny to pull off.

As the four friends undertake the contest, the healing begins and they become inspired beyond their expectations. There might be a winner in this competition, but it is very clear there will be no losers.

My review:
I have read several of the authors novels and enjoyed each and everyone.  I am very happy I have also had the chance to read his first novella. This book has everything in it, a diverse group of long time friendships, familiarity, tragedy, heroism, and kindness.

At first I was saddened by the death of one of their friends but that death was not in vain. They learned to take the lessons of their friend and put those lessons into practical use that would last a life time. Their motivations were not always known to each other but their growth and kindness goes along way. The twist of it was their motivation to begin with.

I love how the author can find just the right words to suck me in to his stories. The human factor is so apparent and you can never help feeling like you have know his characters all your life. I loved getting to know each of the characters and what made them tick.

The story has Christmas elements to it but it is not based solely on a Christmas backdrop. What it does have, as the title suggest, is what the idea behind Christmas is...preparing, giving, and loving one another.

This story is a hands down winner that you can read in one sitting. I give it 5 stars.

Disclosure: I received a Kindle copy of this book for my open and honest opinion. The views expressed here are 100 % my own and may differ from yours. ~Naila Moon



Where to find the author:



Facebook       Amazon   Goodreads

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Reading to the Grand-kids...Santa Mouse and the Ratdeer

Hello everyone,
This is another video post I did of reading to my grand-kids. This is for any child who likes to listen to people read to them. Enjoy!




Friday, December 12, 2014

#Review: North Country Christmas by Shelley Gill /Illustrated by Shannon Cartwright #Kidsbooks, #Christmas, #ChristmasSpirit



Summary:
This classic story reveals how love is the best present of all as two children and an Eskimo named Nick borrow some huskies from a famous musher and race to bring greetings to a small Bering Sea village. 

My review:
This book is a delightful twist on the Santa Claus delivering presents story. Based in Alaska, Santa looks much different than most of us would think he would look. The illustrations are well done with bold pictures and beautiful colors to give the reader a feeling of being right in snowy Alaska.

I enjoyed following along with the children in the book as Nick takes them to a town whose needs for Christmas are much simpler. Generosity and the magic of Christmas can be seen throughout this book. The wonder of the Aurora lights develop the story into something special.

This book is aimed for 3 year olds and up but I think that is a bit young. The sentences in the book are much more complex and  made for more than just the emergent reader. I think a younger child would enjoy the pictures but not get the connections. This is however, a great family friendly book that could be read aloud that all ages would enjoy.

This book is  definitely a 5 star and worth getting for your shelves.

Disclosure: I purchase this book for my own collections. The review here is 100% my own and may differ from yours.

Where to find the author:




Thursday, December 11, 2014

#Review: Lobo's Howliday by C.L. Murphy #Christmas, #ChristmasSpirit, #Kidsbooks





Summary:

It's almost Christmas and Santa finds himself in quite the predicament due to unintended consequences as a result of trying something new. Lobo, and his raven sidekick, Roxy, travel to the North Pole to help the jolly ole' one and are guided by the Arctic animals. The colors of the season delight along the way and make for a howling good holiday. Can you howl Ho Ho Ho? 

My review:

This is cute little book sends Lobo on quite an adventure just to help out Santa. His curiosity about what Santa wants for him to do will peek the curious child too. The pictures will keep children interested, although in truth, I found them to be ok. I suppose I like smoother looking illustrations but maybe it was intentional on the illustrators part to make everything look cold and icy.

This book was a delightful easy reader book. The book is set for age 3-7 which is just about right. The younger child will enjoy the colorful pictures and repetitive words said by the raven, while the older child will enjoy reading the more advanced sentences.

Overall, I liked this book and it gets 4 stars from me.

Disclosure: I received a PDF copy of this book for the purposed of this review. The views expressed here are 100 % my own and may differ from yours. This review was also part of a blog tour by MDBR.

Where to find the author:

Amazon
Goodreads



Sunday, December 7, 2014

Reading to the Grand-kids..."Merry Christmas, Big Hungry Bear" by Don and Audrey Wood #myyoutubevideos #Christmas #ChristmasSpirit #kidsbooks



I am not sure if I have ever introduced my YouTube monthly to semi-monthly videos that I call, "Reading to the Grand-kids". My Grandchildren do not live in the same state as I do so this was my way to read to them across the miles.

This book I video taped last season. I am sharing it again on my blog so that if you want your kids to hear it, they can along with my grand-children again. (see it below)

Note: when I did the video, my husband was watching TV so you will hear that in the background but you can certainly hear me read!  Enjoy!