Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Books In For Review

Check out these books that have just arrived for review!  Reviews will be posted to our site and blog shortly so be sure to come back to read the reviews!

Tabitha Fink: The Cat With One Eye by Rick Felty This is the story of Tabitha Fink. Tabitha Fink is a cat. She happens to have only one eye, but that’s just what makes her special. Otherwise she’s just like every other cat. She likes to run, to play, to hide, to climb up things and gobble up her food. "Tabitha Fink: The Cat With One Eye" is a fun little book, written for children age 2 to 5 that tells Tabitha’s story in a simple playful rhyme wrapped around delightful illustrations that kids will love. The story also contains the important message that everyone is special, no matter how different they may seem. In addition, inside every book (both print and Kindle) is information about how to get a free enhanced audio version of "Tabitha Fink: The Cat With One Eye." The world of Tabitha Fink is a simple and playful reflection of the many special things that are part of children’s lives. The Tabitha stories start with the truth that no one is perfect, that we are all special and unique and that we should celebrate the uniqueness in everyone. Then they use this friendly little one-eyed cat Tabitha Fink to tell other stories that will help children explore their emerging and sometimes challenging worlds.  

The Stuff of Stars: The Seekers, Book 2 by David Litwack Evolved Publishing presents the second book in the dystopian sci-fi series, The Seekers. ~~~ "But what are we without dreams?" ~ Against all odds, Orah and Nathaniel have found the keep and revealed the truth about the darkness, initiating what they hoped would be a new age of enlightenment. But the people were more set in their ways than anticipated, and a faction of vicars whispered in their ears, urging a return to traditional ways. ~ Desperate to keep their movement alive, Orah and Nathaniel cross the ocean to seek the living descendants of the keepmasters' kin. Those they find on the distant shore are both more and less advanced than expected. ~ The seekers become caught between the two sides, and face the challenge of bringing them together to make a better world. The prize: a chance to bring home miracles and a more promising future for their people. But if they fail this time, they risk not a stoning but losing themselves in the twilight of a never-ending dream.

Country Story by Tim Noah Singing a happy refrain, a boy with a nickel and his faithful dog set off for the Country Store. They are soon joined by two more pals and a simple trek turns into an epic adventure.Through twists, turns and hair-raising surprises, surrounded by his friends, the boy reaches his final destination only to discover it was all about the journey.

A Caterpillar, a Bee and a VERY Big Tree by Dicksy Wilson and D.B. Sanders A story about positive thinking, helping others and never giving up. Authors Dicksy Wilson and D.B. Sanders tell the inspirational story of one very small caterpillar overcoming huge obstacles to save the day and make some memorable friends along the way.  

Good Dogs, Great Listeners: The Story of Charlotte, Lily and the Litter by Renata Bowers Charlotte loves dogs, especially her loving and loyal dog, Lily. And she loves adventure, especially with Lily and her Litter of six stuffed dogs in tow. But, she doesn't love to read. Charlotte has a pesky habit of abandoning a book in favor of a distraction. Paired with her dogs and her bold imagination, that distraction has a way of turning into a grand adventure. But when Lily gets hurt on one of their adventures, Charlotte relies on her imagination and her heart to find a way to love Lily back to health...and discovers a love for reading along the way - along with her beloved companions.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nominations Close Soon - Don't Wait! @bookawards

We offer twenty-one categories from mystery to science fiction and young adult.  Have a poetry book?  We have a category for it!  We also have several speciality categories including Best Debut Author and Best Seasonal.  Plus, we have numerous special awards for top placing books.  Learn more at:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Book Review - Murdock Rocks Sedona: A Matt Murdock Murder Mystery

Murdock Rocks Sedona: A Matt Murdock Murder Mystery

By: Robert J. Ray
Publisher: Camel Press
Publication Date: October 2015
ISBN: 978-1603813372
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: November 2015

Author Robert J. Ray spins a suspenseful and one-of-its-kind sexagenarian and septuagenarian story in his seventh book of the Matt Murdock Murder Mystery series.

After their taxing adventures in Taos (Murdock Tackles Taos), Helene Steinbeck comes to Sedona Landing not just for a three-week writing workshop, but also for some R & R and an opportunity for her and Matt to mend their now fragile relationship. Helene's idealistic Arizona vacation falls flat when she meets Axel Ackermann, a billionaire and one of a handful of investors planning to buy the historic hotel. Setting his eyes on Helene, Ackermann hires her to find the person who is killing off his investors. Helene agrees to the deal only if Murdock's name is included in the contract since she insists that they work as a team.

But Helene's concept of teamwork goes out the window when Steve and Connie, local cops, join the investigation after a third investor is found dead. While there is periodic head butting between Murdock and snarky Steve and emotional and sexual tension between Murdock and Helene—especially when Murdock pairs up with Connie during investigations, Ackermann keeps getting pressure from various sources to give up his plans for Sedona Landing. Amid all of the tension, sinister plans are lurking behind the scenes—twisted, unimaginable evil plans, and with a little help from Homer's Odyssey.

Unique to Ray's mysteries is Matt Murdock's hard-boiled persona. Murdock carries all the qualities of refined sleuth who always has a "hunch" and a stick-to-itiveness when others doubt that his clues will amount to anything. And perfectly complementing his gruff traits, Ray has created his equal—Helene Steinbeck. Although centering on these featured characters, Ray incorporates a host of colorful characters, especially his villains who are not always readily identifiable. That said, Ray does a stellar job of throwing in red herrings just at the right time, which keeps his audience on their toes in their own sleuthing pursuits.

Ray's writing style is also unique. Focusing much of his plot on tight conversations, he uses a wonderful blend of directed, misdirected, and modulated dialogues that weave in and out of each chapter. In this particular book, Ray employs a Vonnegut-flair to his third person narrative—reminiscent of Slaughterhouse-Five. Not giving away any spoilers, there is indeed a war theme, which is very critical to the storyline's apex.

Combining all of the above-mentioned literary tools, Ray's plot runs smoothly from one chapter to the next. Frequently closing with cliffhangers, Ray's short chapters are grouped into five sections labeled in days. Alternating character scenes throughout, Ray deftly orchestrates all of these elements into one amazing performance to keep his audience absolutely captivated from beginning to end.
Quill says: Murdock Rocks Sedona is bound to be both a best seller and an all-time classic!

For more information on Murdock Rocks Sedona, please visit the author's website at: robertjrayauthor.com

Book Review - Butterfly Waltz

Butterfly Waltz

By: Jane Tesh
Publisher: Silver Leaf Books
Publication Date: June 2015
ISBN: 978-1-60975-124-1
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: November 23, 2015

A beautiful young woman, Kalida, had grown up with the destructive and conquering ways of her people down deep in a place called The Caverns, but one day she hears music and she is forever changed. Suddenly she feels as if she does not fit in her world and that she needs to be somewhere else, to start a new life. So, secretly she runs away from The Caverns and travels through to another world, our world called Earth. Instantly Kalida is transfixed on the amazing green color of the grass and the gold tint of the leaves for she has never seen colors like this, so vibrant and alive. This is where she decides to stay and makes a quiet life for herself away from prying eyes, quietly existing in the woods. However, one day there comes the sound of music like nothing Kalida has ever heard before and it calls to her, beckoning her to come out of the woods and come closer. Everything inside her pushes for Kalida to go find who is making this wonderful music and she finds that she does not want to resist.

Becoming a successful musician was becoming harder and harder for Des Fairweather as he was finding out that it was difficult to even get started. He had a few students who took lessons but that hardly paid the rent each month and he also had not composed any of his own pieces in months, as each time he sat at the piano the music would not come to him. As if things could not get any worse, Des’s friend Jake comes by to tell him that he needs his help to track down the latest story Jake is working on for The Galaxy, the newspaper he works for. The article is about a woman's garden that supposedly has talking flowers. Even though Des did not particularly enjoy these crazy trips with Jake he agrees to go as his music writing was going nowhere.

As they approach the woman’s house Jake comes up with a story that they are writers from City Gardens Magazine who have come to hear her talk about her garden. Surprisingly the lie works and they find out the woman’s name is Christine. As Jake asks her questions, Des notices that she has a beautiful piano sitting in her living room and without thinking he sits down to start playing. Amazingly a beautiful waltz melody comes easily to his mind as his hands slide over the keys effortlessly. Suddenly he looks over to the window and sees an overwhelmingly beautiful woman with long black hair standing there watching him. By the time Des stands up to get a better look, the woman has vanished. Des shakes his head thinking that he knew she was real, not just his mind playing tricks on him, and most importantly he must see her again.

This book did a wonderful job composing a story of two lives brought together by fate as two worlds cross. Author Jane Tesh creates two characters who I could not help but relate to as they both were having struggles in their own lives but together everything seemed to work out. It was so easy for me to picture in my mind the way music affected these two characters as Tesh puts such incredible detail in the emotions of her characters which made for a wonderful read.

Quill says: An incredible fantasy novel that had me swaying to the music along with the characters.

Book Review - The Book Itch

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem's Greatest Bookstore

By: Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Publisher: Carolrhoda Picture Books
Publication Date: November 2015
ISBN: 978-0761339434
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 19, 2015

Yet another sign was being fastened to the top of the doorway of the National Memorial African Bookstore. Louie looked up to his dad in more ways than one, not just as a man who stuck signs all over the front of their store. A lot of people hung out at 2107 Seventh Avenue, including "kids and grown-ups, black folks and white folks, writers and politicians." Oh, and lots of famous people too.

Louie's eyes were filled with awe and admiration as Mr. Ali nudged him on the chin. His dad, Lewis Michaux, Sr., was a man of many words. "Don't get took!" he shouted, "Read a book!" Lewis didn't have but five books when he started out, nor much money, but he "saved his pennies" and went from a pushcart to a bookstore. That banker didn't believe in Lewis, claiming that "Black people don't read," but they certainly did…and they bought lots of books!

Louie worked on arranging a display as customers, black ones, browsed the "zillion books in the store." Dad always had something to say about books and knowledge and questions and words. He was known as the "Professor," even though he hadn't gone to college. People kept coming to Lewis Michaux's "House of Common Sense and Proper Propaganda," but the sense seemed to be leaving the world. Mr. Malcolm X had something to say too, but all of a sudden disaster struck. Would Lewis be coming home? Would anyone hear the truth again?

This is a marvelously poignant book about Lewis Michaux, a black man who made a difference. Young children, who may know little about Lewis, a man who subtly influenced the course of history, will love this fictionalized tale. It's told from the vantage point of his son, Louie, a young man who learns the value of education and truth through books. The artwork is stunning, meshing perfectly with the tale. In the back of the book is a full page biographical sketch of Michaux, a couple of photographs, and a selected bibliography. The end pages are filled with Michaux's sayings and rhymes.

Quill says: A fictionalized portrait of Lewis Michaux that shouldn't be missed!

Book Review - Christmas in America (Ellis the Elephant)

Christmas in America (Ellis the Elephant)

By: Callista Gingrich
Illustrated by: Susan Arciero
Publisher: Regnery Kids
Publication Date: October 2015
ISBN: 978-1621573456
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 19, 2015

Ellis the Elephant smiled as he waved his flag and prepared to put on his skates. The tree at Rockefeller Center was really something with all those lights and big star at the very top. Ooops, there’s one skater down, but not to worry, she’ll get right back up and try again! “It was Ellis the Elephant’s favorite time of year, / full of wonderful stories he wanted to hear— / tales and traditions of Christmases long ago, / a cherished part of the America we know.” Ellis began to think back to those American Christmases in our nation’s history, Christmases that began even before the colonists set foot in Jamestown.

Ellis pictured himself at that rather sparse Christmas dinner on one of the three ships that had set sail for North America. Life was good and the men all said grace and “celebrated with what was on hand.” So many died of disease and starvation, but they were going to establish an English settlement in Jamestown. During the American Revolution, times were pretty tough as well. Ellis the Elephant soon found his thoughts wandering to the Delaware River. Is that Ellis sitting in front of George Washington in the bow of a boat? Why yes, it’s Ellis the Elephant!

There were small ice floes in the river, but the men continued to row. “He crossed the Delaware River late Christmas night, / with what remained of his army ready to fight. / In Trenton the Hessians were caught by surprise / and the Patriots’ victory began the British demise.” Huzzah, huzzah, huzzah! Ellis the Elephant continued on thinking about the history of the American Christmas in his mind’s eye. Did George Washington have a humpback camel at Mount Vernon? You’ll just have to read this book to find out!

This is a fun, fabulous journey with Ellis the Elephant as he journeys through historical American Christmases. What’s fascinating are the little odd facts that Ellis talks about as we see him celebrate an assortment of Christmases. Kid-friendly facts like Teddy Roosevelt’s Christmas carnival and that humpback camel are not only entertaining, but are forgotten vignettes in American history. These little facts could easily be stepping stones to a school report. In the back of the book are brief discussions of resources about places where Ellis the Elephant recreated Christmases.

Quill says: This is a fun story-in-rhyme about the American Christmas that children will love.

Book Review - Media: From News Coverage to Political Advertising (Inside Elections Series)

Media: From News Coverage to Political Advertising (Inside Elections Series)

By: Sandy Donovan
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2015
ISBN: 978-1467779098
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 19, 2015

If politics has become a passion or you think you might be interested in learning more about it, you're probably considering heading to a media source for more information. Media is "anything that delivers information" and there's plenty of it out there to check! Mass media, which includes "television, printed materials (such as magazines and newspapers), Internet resources (such as blogs, podcasts, and social media)" as well as radio broadcasts are most likely where you'll turn to read, listen, and learn about politics.

Public, commercial, and private media resources operate in different ways. For-profit and not-for-profit are much different critters and will obviously influence the way information is presented. You'll learn about these media sources, how they work, and decide where you want to get your information from. For example, if you listen to National Public Radio (NPR), you'll need to know it’s a not-for-profit media source. What these media resources cover depends on their audience. All of them want large audiences "which lead to bigger profits," a no-brainier fact.

Election coverage Involves collecting information from a variety of sources from interviews to "in-depth research." Next up comes the presentation process. Perhaps you never stopped to think about it, but "the news media can package that information for audiences in several different ways from ultra-brief to extremely in-depth." Ever heard of a sound bite? Once you learn what they are, you could have a lot of fun searching them out on YouTube.

After you've got the basics out of the way, you'll find out just how the media keeps us all informed. One thing for certain is that the "Internet has created more and more ways for people to engage with one another and candidates." You learn about invented information, bias, the role of social media, attack ads, the big business aspect of political ads, fundraising, the importance of the candidate images, and many more interesting things about media from "news coverage to political advertising!" I was quite impressed with how well-written and presented the information in this book was. Each chapter presents information in such a way that it not only presents information, but also subtly encourages the reader to think about the media presentation of the election process. There are numerous informative sidebars that add additional information to the text. For example, one examines the pros and cons of attack ads. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: This is an excellent resource for students who want to learn more about the role of media in our election process.