Friday, November 30, 2012

Authors Promoting Authors with Amazon "Store"

Here's a great idea for authors to band together to help promote their books. Rather than each author spending so much time to gain publicity for one book, consider pooling resources to create one "Amazon store" for numerous books and work together to promote. It's super easy to create, you just need an Amazon associates account. Here's one I created for a large group of equine authors:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review - Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards & Guidebook

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards & Guidebook

By: P.C. Cast & Colette Baron-Reid
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publishing Date: October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7704-3344-4
Reviewed By: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 29, 2012

Many readers know about the “House of Night” YA series written by the amazing author P.C. Cast. However, a new product has come out on the market with her name on it and people – teens AND adults – will absolutely love it.

In this world, Tarot Cards, Angel Cards, etc. have been a source of ‘magic’ for some and an actual career path for others. There are those who can read the cards and understand their meanings, telling people’s futures in a way that is both exciting and amusing. Whether you see this area of life as real or simply entertainment doesn’t matter where P.C. Cast’s new project is concerned – because as one (disbeliever), this reviewer has to tell you that I absolutely love them.

The House of Night Oracle Deck and Guidebook are based on the incredible story of the Oracle of Nyx, which is offered at the beginning of the book. Readers will be able to see that ancient castle on the Isle of Skye and the dream that the immortal vampire queen, Sgiach, had when it took her to the wise Oracle who offered her answers. These cards are actually meant to be a “personal connection” for readers to the wisdom given out by the goddess Nyx. You can almost see yourself as one of the fledglings begging for some type of direction when it comes to relationships, careers, friendships, and any ‘sins’ that perhaps await them in the future.

Examples, sample readings, instructions on how to use these cards and descriptions of each card are offered so that you have full understanding when you do a reading whether individually with one card; a two-card relationship reading; or a three card past, present and future reading. These cards are not only stunningly beautiful with artwork that will literally take your breath away, but P.C. Cast has done a magnificent job of bringing about the wisdom and intellect that she always provides her readers in every book she writes. Her partner in this project, Colette Baron-Reid, is a counselor and motivational speaker who’s a bestselling author of many books as well as oracle decks. Therefore, she knows how to bring the ‘sacred’ to this project. Enjoy!

Quill Says: A magnificently beautiful and, oddly enough, dead-on correct gift that is right in time for Christmas.

Book Review - Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

By: Christine Pisera Naman
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Publication Date: October 2007
ISBN: 978-0-385-52245-8
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: November 30, 2012

Christine Pisera Naman’s Christmas Lights is a series of vignettes with nuances and tone signature to holiday spirit. However, the overall message is one that resonates throughout the year. Each vignette has been carefully written, assembled, and delivered with the collective intent to inspire. Ms. Naman has treated her audience to a cast of credible characters. A familial story, her fictional characters have specific traits and identities that make them real-life believable. The mother, Katherine, is wise and has a demonstrative strength and unflappable faith. She is faced with the dwindling lucidity of her husband of fifty-plus years. His increasing dementia is an ever-present companion that resides between the two.

Katherine has six children ranging in age from sixteen to forty-six - all girls. She wears her matriarchal role well. Ms. Naman cleverly devotes a stand-alone vignette for each girl who is presented with challenges ranging from first love to life changing occurrences. Yet she limits obvious information and entices the reader to interact and formulate his or her own conclusions as to how each character will fare once all is said and done. Naman directs her pen with determination as she strings the vignettes together on the common theme of the story: hope. Her fluid style provides instant comfort and ease for the reader to relax into an unforced cadence.

I am a child of five and perhaps coming from a larger family, the connection to this story was instant; particularly because of its familial elements. Christmas has always been a time of reflection for me; especially the premise of family and its coming together. It is a time to set aside differences and rejuvenate hope. I think Ms. Naman has similar views because of her creation of this collection of lovely, holiday-themed vignettes. This story shines like a bright light of hope and clarity likened to that of the North Star. Well done, Ms. Naman, for your sound message of faith that hope consistently delivers.

Quill Says: Christmas Lights is a stocking stuffer treasure that can be read any time of the year.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Books In For Review

Here's a sample of the books that have recently come in for review.  Check them out and then stop by in a few weeks to read the reviews.

Loogie the Booger Genie by N.E Castle Prince Loogar is a snobbish brat who played one too many pranks. To punish him, the king's wizard cast a spell that locked the prince in a pea-sized bottle for hundreds of years. Charlie found the pea and now Loogie is stuck in Charlie's nose. Together, they fumble through adventures as they try to break the wizard's spell and set Loogie free.

Vampire Defense by James Bell John Brooks is a brilliant young lawyer working hard, but not getting much notice. Those who know him admire his work ethic and his intellect. His friends believe that he needs one big case to show off his talents. Defending Hal Boyd, known as the Butcher of Belhaven, on arson and four murder charges, looks like that big case as the world media, hungry to fill 24 hours a day of non-stop news coverage, converges on Jackson, Mississippi. Soon the Boyd case looks like a career ender when Brooks announces to his defense: “Not guilty by reason of insanity. My client was so insane that he believed that the person he intended to kill was a vampire.” The world media ridicules the “Vampire Defense,” and Brooks and his defense team become the laughing stock of the legal profession. Ridicule becomes the least of Brooks problems when he discovers that a satanic cult is intent on exacting murderous revenge against Boyd and his defense team for daring to defend him. Kidnapping and multiple murders occur at a dizzy pace as the action careens from the city to the swamp to the courtroom. Romance coupled with comic relief allows you to occasionally catch your breath, until even that is stolen by a double climax with a verdict that shocks the world, followed immediately by a dramatic final battle between good and evil.

Killer Librarian by Mary Lou Kirwin Champion of the mystery section at a small-town Minnesota library, Karen Nash is about to embark on a dream trip to London—a literary tour inspired by every murderous intrigue, wily suspect, and ingenious crime found in the pages of the British mysteries that she devours. But she’s clueless why the love of her mid-life, Dave, would dump her hours before takeoff—until she spies him at the airport with a young honey on his arm! She decides the best revenge (for now) is to get on that plane anyway . . . and entertain schemes for Dave’s untimely demise while crossing the pond.

Collared: A Gin & tonic Mystery by L.A. Kornetsky Ginny Mallard and her shar-pei, Georgie, are about to run out of kibble and cash, unless she digs up another client for her private concierge business. So she heads to her neighborhood Seattle bar, Mary’s, to sniff out an opportunity. Or a gimlet or two. The bartender, Teddy Tonica, is usually good for a round of challenging banter, and Georgie is oddly fond of his bar cat, Mistress Penny. Before she can say “bottoms up,” Ginny lands a job tracking down some important business papers that have gone missing—along with the customer’s uncle. If Ginny hopes to track him down, she’ll need more than her research skills: she’ll need a partner with people skills—like Tonica. This is one dangerous case that’s about to go to the dogs—unless man, woman, cat, and canine can work together as one very unconventional crime-solving team.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Review - The Clue is in the Pudding

The Clue is in the Pudding: A Special Pennyfoot Hotel Mystery

By: Kate Kingsbury
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: November 2012
ISBN: 978-0425253274
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 27, 2012

Cecily Sinclair Baxter, proprietress of the Pennyfoot Country Club, was quite busy preparing for the holiday festivities, all the while hoping that “the infamous Christmas curse would not materialize.” Naturally the help’s attention was wandering as love was in the air on the premises. Even Gertie McBride, the chief housekeeper, was having trouble keeping Pansy in line as she fancied Samuel, the madam’s stable manager. Gertie was thinking that Clive Russell, a man with a mysterious past might be the man for her, but with everything in an uproar she had little time to dwell on him. Mrs. Chubbs had gone off to Manchester to visit her daughter and in her place they were stuck with “Tucker the Terrible.”

“Sacre bleu!” Michel screamed at Beatrice Tucker, “You’ve taken a slice right out of ze pudding!” Not that the battle-axe cared one whit about his Christmas pudding because she was head of the kitchen. She’d taken a slice up to Mr. Archibald Armitage, a famous actor in residence for the holiday. Things were boiling over upstairs when Phoebe Carter-Holmes discovered she’d been “replaced as director of carol singers” by Cuthbert Rickling. Fa la la la la la la la la. Phoebe was mad and Cecily’s other best friend, Madeline, could be somewhat daft whenever she went into one of her little psychic trances. Love may have been in the air, but the rest of the lot were going totally barmy.

Nutters and Christmas pudding aside, the aristocratic guests had arrived in Badgers End and the Pennyfoot Christmas celebration would soon begin. However, there had been a “very unfortunate accident.” After Mr. Armitage had taken an unfortunate dip in the pond after rescuing Tess, the madam’s dog, he tragically died in his room. “He didn’t tell the stupid bloke to go in the pond,” Gertie announced to Pansy when she thought Samuel would feel bad about the incident. Madeline’s husband, Dr. Prestwick, was certain the man had been poisoned, but Cecily was determined that the show must go on. No one must know about the murder for she would pursue the villain herself. “Beware, the danger is right there! Evil is near. Be careful.” Did Madeline hold the key to the killer or was it all a load of codswallop? Cecily Sinclair Baxter would have to solve the mystery before the infamous Christmas curse claimed yet another victim (and the constable showed up)!

This fun and ever so slightly hilarious mystery at Pennyfoot will leave the reader chuffed as nuts. Sometimes it was hard to tell whether the excitement lay more with the downstairs staff or the aristocratic crowd upstairs. The mixture of characters, the romance, the squabbles, the murder, and the general kerfuffle, made this cozy mystery loads of fun to read. It was a very quick, light read and I must admit some of the incidents and comments by the characters were just a tad politically incorrect. The lazy receptionist, Philip, couldn’t remember a name if his life depended on it, but he could remember a nose. “Never seen such a big conk. You can see it coming around the corner before you see her.” I could see this cozy mystery was a keeper even before Beatrice Tucker aggravated a single soul at Pennyfoot!

Quill says: If you like your cozy mysteries light, fun, and as delectable as old-fashioned fruit cake, you'll love this Pennyfoot Hotel mystery!

Book Review - Mallory Mcdonald, Super Snoop

Mallory Mcdonald, Super Snoop

By: Laurie Friedman
Publisher: Darby Creek Publishing
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761360735
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012

“You’d rather,” Mallory asked her best friend, Mary Ann, “study spelling than spy on Max and Winnie?” It was hard to believe that anyone would prefer spelling to snooping, but Mallory was sure in the mood for it. She just absolutely had to know what her brother Max and Winnie were doing in his room after school. Since they were “officially boyfriend and girlfriend” Max didn’t want her to tag along. At all. It really wasn’t fair because she was his sister and that Winnie was Mary Ann’s stepsister. At any rate, their parents were going on a vacation “get away” for a week and it would be the perfect time to spy on them.

It was VVI (very, very important) to find out what they were doing while her parents were gone. Mary Ann was going to be studying spelling with her boyfriend, C-Lo, so now was the time to act. Crystal, their babysitter, was VVI (very, very insistent) that she “stay out of other people’s business” and that meant Max and Winnie. They claimed they were working on a science project and when Mallory made out her list of ten things they might be doing when they were alone in Max’s room it wasn’t on there. Mrs. Daily, her third-grade teacher had talked about “three’s a crowd” and now Crystal was talking about it too.

It was time to put on her dark sunglasses, get out her magnifying glass, and tape recorder. Just what were they doing in that room? “Which part of `we are working on our science project’ is hard for you to understand?” Max was really, really getting mad, but that could be a clue. Mallory never quit and she came up with a really good plan that even Mary Ann would think was VVI (very, very impressive). She was going to ask everyone to play a game of Hide-and-Seek. Then the mystery of what Max and Winnie were doing in his room would be officially solved ... or so she thought. “Wait until your parents get home!” Was Crystal really going to tell them what she did?

Mallory McDonald, 17 Wish Pond Road, age ten, is in really BIG trouble. To snoop or not to snoop? Why not? When Mallory goes into action she goes a bit overboard and in this book she really goes into overdrive. I’m a far cry from being ten years old, but I adore Mallory when her imagination goes wild and her common sense flies out the door. She just can’t figure out why Max doesn’t want her around, nor can she quite understand why everyone else isn’t interested in his business. As usual, she’s making her lists and checking them twice just to make sure she hasn’t forgotten anything. The thing she did forget is how to keep out of trouble (as usual). This is one hilarious Mallory mystery that will keep you smiling until the end!

Quill says: If you've made the acquaintance of Mallory McDonald, you're going to love it when she becomes a super snoop. If you haven't met her, it's about time you did!

Book Review - Plague Riders

Plague Riders (After the Dust Settled)

By: Gabriel Goodman
Publisher: Darby Creek Publishing
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761383307
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012

Shep Greenfield was riding Old Gray and his co-rider’s mount was Mariah. Cara was just a kid, but Shep was almost a man at fourteen. When they rode into small compounds they brought hope and penicillin. They were outfitted in plague gear and no one could see that he was a mere boy, a boy on a mission. Shep knew he was no more than a “glorified delivery boy,” but when he was in disguise he felt that power. Before the Fall he had a home and parents like ‘most everyone else, but now he lived at River’s Edge, a small hospital run by Doctor St. John. There wasn’t any nightpox there, but it was in Wisconsin and he was a harbinger of better things to come, or so he thought.

“You give me a month of medicine. I give you two months of food. Hardly seems fair.” Mrs. Adams was the unofficial head of Muddy waters, another small town untouched by the plague ... yet. They wanted to be prepared and begrudgingly made the swap. Shep was shocked when he noticed a picture of his parents on the wall. Where had it come from? She explained that it was from a place called Dusty Hollow. Nah, no way his parents could be alive, but there was that chance. “Dusty Hollow is being burned to the ground. Everyone there is going to die.” Just maybe his parents were still living, but how could he make it to the town to see for himself?

Doctor St. John had no time for fools and flat out refused Shep’s request to travel to Dusty Hollow. Vargas, his second-in-command echoed the thought. Food would be wasted and he would not be allowed to return. Once exposed to nightpox it would be the end. Shep had to weigh his odds and they weren’t good. Cara had stolen Doc’s copy of Gene Matterson’s Wilderness Survival Guidebook and knew how long they could survive before they needed help. Once they struck out on the trail to Dusty Hollow there would be no return. Could the two young plague riders make it to the town or would they be facing their own destruction?

This is a fast-paced scenario of two young plague riders in search of the truth. Reluctant readers, the target audience for this tale, will be enticed by this short, action-packed read. The scenario for this series, “After the Dust Settled” is one in which the world as we know it has ended and only the young survive ... if they can. The tale is packed with tension as Shep and Cara defy the evil taskmaster, Doctor St. John. Of course they know nothing of his true evil nature. There is more evil in the world than nightpox, but Shep is eventually determined to risk his life to eliminate it and find out the truth for himself. If you have reluctant or newly independent readers who want short, but exciting novels, this is one series you may wish to add to your library or classroom shelves.

Quill says: The "After the Dust Settled" series is perfect for the young, reluctant reader who wants an exciting read, but not a lengthy one!

Book Review - Twelve Kinds of Ice

Twelve Kinds of Ice

By: Ellen Bryan Obed
Illustrated by: Barbara McClintock
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date: November 2012
ISBN: 978-0-618-89129-0
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: November 27, 2012

Reading Twelve Kinds of Ice was a unique treat for me. Written by Ellen Bryan Obed and illustrated by Barabara McClintock, this is a simple and tender account that resurrects fond childhood memories to the surface. The setting is a place I am personally quite familiar with: Waterville, Maine. As a child, I spent six glorious years of my adolescence in Winslow, Maine; the only separation between the two towns being the Kennebec River.

The vivid and mental pictures Obed writes of the cold Nor’ Eastern winter and the intrinsic anticipation of ice skating is seeded because that was what most kids embraced once the endless winter settled into that part of the country. Ms. Bryan Obed describes the natural progression from the first ice of “pail ice,” a paper thin precursor to the eventual garden ice of the Bryan Gardens ice rink. Barbara McClintock complements Obed’s words with her detailed ink-etched illustrations. Together, author and illustrator have accomplished a wonderful tale devoted to the innocence of youth. It is a time when children get to be children and play crack the whip as they careen with reckless abandon around the rink. Obed affirms the innocence through her references of young girls in all their flirtations who are taunted by young boys who could care less. The latter’s greater interest is consumed with passing the hockey puck and smacking it toward the end of its journey… the victory of a goal.

Ms. Bryan’s tone throughout this brief tale is a resurrection of yesteryear that brings distant childhood memories clearly into present day. She artfully rekindled the innocence once abound when we were children and reignites the fire of imagination and wonder that Bryan Garden’s ice rink enticed many children to experience.

This is the perfect tale for children both young and old. It is an affirmation that it is the simplicities in life that allow the memories to live within our souls forever. Thanks to both Ellen Bryan Obed for her poetic words and Barbara McClintock for her equally creative artistry in Twelve Kinds of Ice. It is the perfect escape for any season of the year.

Quill Says: You’re never too old to experience the joy and memories a turn on the ice is certainly capable of delivering.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book Review - The Heat of the Sun

The Heat of the Sun

By: David Rain
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, LLC
Publication Date: 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9670-5
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: November 24, 2012

Often, I immediately go to my computer as soon as I finish a book in order to write a review that is fresh in my mind. With David Rain’s The Heat of the Sun, such was not the case. Rather, I wanted to spend a day or two of reflection over the tremendous novel I had just finished reading. From the first introduction of orphan Woodley A. Sharpless, to the next of his life-long friend (and, at times, nemesis), Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton II, ‘Trouble,’ I realized I was embarking upon an epic story. It is a story that spans monumental periods of time in history. There are places ranging from Greenwich Village during the Roaring 20’s and events like the Great Depression, to name a few, that make this novel nothing less than epic. Yet Mr. Rain writes like a seasoned pro with his insistent ability to spoon feed his reader with background in the beginning—Blaze Boarding School for Boys in Burlington, Vermont. It is there where Sharpless and Trouble’s lives connect and so the story begins.

There is a third character, Le Vol, who plays somewhat of a supporting role throughout the story. However, Mr. Rain never wanders too far from the essence of his tale; the trials and tribulations of Sharpless and Trouble. They are two very diverse young men—Trouble, born into a life of privilege and Sharpless not nearly as fortunate. Trouble has all the characteristics of over abundance and petulance; yet, I found myself immediately drawn to his character. Mr. Rain struck a brilliant balance between charisma and bad boy in Trouble which allows the reader to recognize the depth and complexity of this character. Le Vol was repugnant to buy into any sort of affection for Trouble, but it did not persuade Sharpless to heed his warnings. Their connection was solid and a bond that would span many years beyond the Blaze School for Boys.

As Mr. Rain settles into the telling of his tale, he weaves information of Trouble’s lineage—his father, Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton (Democratic Senator from New York) and his mother Kate Pinkerton. However, the reader soon learns Kate is not his biological mother, but the appropriate socialite (and politically correct) fit to be matched with Trouble’s father. Trouble’s real mother was a Japanese geisha of whom Pinkerton senior seeded Trouble’s life. There are tumultuous years—years that touch upon varied wrong-doings, but there are also years of pain, solitude and frustration for both Sharpless and Trouble. There are plot twists and turns that spotlight eyebrow raising moments as much as there are periods of satisfaction and triumph for these two characters.

Throughout the story, however, there is an amazingly accomplished writer telling it. Mr. Rain has captured the true essence of writing in the sense that he has created a masterpiece of imagery, depth and range. The fact that The Heat of the Sun is David Rain’s debut novel is somewhat shocking to me. I honestly believe not only this body of work, but future endeavors will be stories that rest among that place reserved for some of the most notable authors. Truly, he is a 21st century novelist to pay attention to. Congratulations Mr. Rain. The Heat of the Sun is a stellar accomplishment and a story that is destined to be read by many.

Quill Says: Jump in and feel “The Heat of the Sun”…

Book Review - Volunteering Smarts

Volunteering Smarts: How to Find Opportunities, Create a Positive Experience, and More

By: Sandy Donovan
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761370215
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012

Many schools make some form of community service or volunteering a part of their curriculum. Perhaps so, but maybe you feel that you want to volunteer without having it be a requirement in your life. There are many reasons you might want to volunteer and just maybe you’d “like to contribute to your community, be around positive people, give your mood a boost, or have something extra to list on your college application.” Colleges are definitely looking for students with that little extra sparkle and what you do outside of the classroom can count almost as much as what you do inside of it.

The question that you need to ask yourself is what kind of volunteering are you interested in and how can I go about exploring my options? This book will help you think about and narrow down those options to provide the perfect fit for your needs, the needs of others, and your personality. Approximately 25% of all teens volunteered in 2010 and did everything from tutoring to “collecting food for the needy.” There are many benefits to volunteering, both for teens and the world at large. For example, “teen volunteers have been a huge part of the environmental movement.” Volunteering, no doubt, makes us all feel good about ourselves, but for teens it can also provide the "perfect opportunity to explore a career or learn a new skill."

The best way to “get started as a volunteer is to connect with a group or an organization.” There are several different types of groups you can look at that will mesh with your lifestyle. There are several online search opportunities outlined in this book, including one that provides an “idea list” of numerous opportunities. You’ll also be able to learn how to select your volunteer work by following suggestions provided, including the necessity to “follow basic workplace rules.” No, volunteering doesn’t pay, but it does offer you some awesome life lessons as you help others.

If you aren’t one to follow directives easily and “are more of a take-charge character than a go-with-the-flow personality,” you may wish to create your own volunteering project. There are several steps you should follow before starting a service project including researching a project, goal setting, forming a team, learning about those you will be helping, organizing, fundraising, getting the message out, and checking out any “red tape” you may run up against. You’ll also learn many other things in this book including how you can “make your voice heard” by becoming an activist, you’ll read about possible ways to make a difference, how to make people listen to you (fliers, letters, blogs, lobbying), and you’ll read about many other ways you can improve the lives of others and truly make a difference!

This is an excellent teen guide that will help young people learn to volunteer and change lives. Of course teens and ‘tweens will improve their own lives in the effort to help others. This book has some very solid guidelines that will not only help teens think about volunteering before they leap into something, but will also help adults who may be mentoring them. There are several sage suggestions that are offered up including the fact that one should really try to find a good solid fit before they volunteer and not to over-commit to anything. There are full-color photographs, SnapShots (polls), numerous informative sidebars, including pertinent articles direct from the pages of USA Today. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a selected bibliography, and additional book and website resources to explore. There are free downloadable educational resources on the publisher’s website.

Quill says: If you really want to learn the ins and outs of volunteering or mentor young people in your community, this is definitely one book to look at!

Book Review - Nightshade on Elm Street

Nightshade on Elm Street: A Flower Shop Mystery

By: Kate Collins
Publisher: Signet
Publication Date: November 2012
ISBN: 978-0451238504
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: Novmeber 24, 2012

Pryce Osborne II, corporate attorney, residence New Chapel, Indiana was a pain. Once upon a long time ago he had dumped Ms. Abby Knight just before their wedding and he was up to his old tricks again. This time he had dumped Melissa Hazelton. Granted, she was one of the worst interior decorators on the planet, but she didn’t deserve to be clunked any more than Abby did. Fortunately Abby recovered in due time (almost immediately) and found love instead of money. Abby and Marco Salvare, owner of Down the Hatch Bar and Grill and a private investigator, were very much in love and engaged to be married. Abby’s bridal shower was in five days and things couldn’t be better ... that was until Pryce called.

Pryce insisted it was “exceedingly urgent” that Abby get in touch with him and had called Bloomers, her flower shop. He claimed a “friend” was missing, but in reality it was his darling ex-fiancé, Melissa. She thought it was going to be a cold day in Indiana before she and Marco took on that case, but she had to consider her cousin Jillian’s feelings. She’d married Claymore, Pryce’s brother, and family ties came first, even if Jillian was a “drama queen” supreme. Case closed, they’d take the case. Apparently they’d had a “disagreement over a personal matter” and Melissa had disappeared. Once Abby and Marco started to interview people, it looked like more than a few people could have been suspect in her disappearance.

The case of the lost fiancé looked rather simple on the surface, but it wasn’t long before Abby and Marco uncovered a web of secrets and lies that was proving to be extremely difficult to unravel. Orabell had accused Lily of stealing her precious timepiece, a Piaget Altiplano, while everyone else seemed preoccupied with their neighbor’s bedroom decor all the while feigning innocence. “Nobody,” claimed Jillian, “can freeze out a person with a killer glance like you can, Abby.” She would have to try to use that glance on those suspects to try to ferret out a killer when a woman’s body washed up on the sands in front of Pryce’s house. Abby was definitely on to something when someone holding a knife began to chase her across those very sands. It looked like she just might be missing her bridal shower and attending a funeral instead ... hers!

This highly intriguing and tightly woven mystery will pack a punch with readers. It was mystery all the way once Abby and Marco started investigating. When they started to examine the facts, it seemed as if everyone in New Chapel had a motive to drown the victim. It was as if fingers were pointing every which way and, as a result, it elevated Nightshade on Elm Street into a real whodunit. I changed my mind with each chapter as the suspects, their motives, and lives came into view. Little snippets such as a peek through a window would raise my eyebrows as suspects either came on the list or went off. Every glance seemed to add a new conundrum to the plot. If you want the killer to jump out at you on the first few pages, you should look elsewhere. This is a cozy mystery that even Sherlock Holmes would put his stamp of approval on!

Quill says: If you like your mysteries hot, spicy, and rip roaring good, the Flower Shop Mysteries are just the ticket!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Book Review - Desert Baths

Desert Baths

By: Darcy Pattison
Illustrated by: Kathleen Rietz
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-1607185345
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: November 2012

The sun is just coming up and spreading its light over the desert landscape. As the sun rises, a turkey vulture spreads his wings and enjoys a sunbath. It's his way of warming up in the early morning. All across the desert, different animals use different methods to survive and clean themselves in the harsh, dry landscape. In Desert Baths, we meet twelve desert dwellers and see how they stay clean within this dusty land.

In the early morning an Anna's hummingbird preens and uses the dew to clean her feathers while a mule deer doe grooms her two fawns. A big desert tortoise slowly moves out of his burrow to see if there might be a late morning shower. With no clouds in the sky, it looks like the tortoise will have to wait for another day. As the day goes on, we meet other animals such as a diamondback rattler who sheds his skin to keep clean and grow.

Soon the sun crosses the sky and dips down below the horizon. It's night now and there are other animals who use the safety of the dark to come out and clean themselves. Before the javelina starts to forage, he finds a nice muddy spot and rolls in the cool, thick mud. Now he feels clean and ready to search for food.

Desert Baths is an excellent introduction to the world of desert animals and what they must do to stay clean and healthy. There are twelve different animals featured in this book that children will enjoy meeting. Chances are, young readers have never considered what animals must do to stay clean in a land where water is a rare commodity. The story, along with the educational material in the back of the text for added discussions, will bring the struggles of desert animals to life for the emerging reader.

Quill says: An excellent book to educate young readers on the daily habits of desert dwellers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Review - Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow (Amazing Athletes)

By: Jeff Savage
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-1467703338
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012

Tim Tebow is such an all-American phenomenon you’d think he’d been born here, but he wasn’t. Tim was actually born in Makati City in the Philippines to parents Bob and Pam, who “ran an orphanage.” Eventually they moved to the states and bought a farm outside Jacksonville, Florida where he was raised with his brothers and sisters. Tim was homeschooled, but was able to play sports both at home and in the local schools. He was surprised when his T-ball coach told “the players that winning did not matter.” Winning was something he definitely wanted to do and his idol, “Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith,” was a winner. Tim wanted to be that kind of a winner.

When Tim was fifteen, he “played quarterback at Trinity Christian Academy,” a school where his brothers had been linebackers. He wanted to pass and when he transferred to another school he not only started to pass, but became an athlete people noticed. Not only was a state title in his future, but eventually “more than 80 colleges recruited him.” The Florida Gators snagged him and he was “awarded the Heisman Trophy” after his sophomore year. In this book you’ll learn about his family life, the importance of his Christian faith, you’ll read about some of his more exiting games, how he was drafted by the Denver Broncos, his rookie season, Tebowmania, his move to New York, and you’ll learn many other things about Tim Tebow, an amazing athlete!

This is a fascinating look at Tim Tebrow, “one of the most popular athletes in any sport.” Most young football fans definitely are familiar with Tim, but will welcome the chance to learn more about his life. The book is loaded with full-color photographs, many action-oriented. Words that might be unfamiliar to the reader such as “end zone,” “defenders,” or “wide receiver” are highlighted in purple and defined in the glossary. There are numerous informative sidebars and captions that add additional information. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, selected career highlights (2004 to 2011), and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: If you have a young sports fan in your life who has a good case of Tebowmania, you just might want to add this book to your list!

Book Review - Freshwater Fishing

Freshwater Fishing: Bass, Trout, Walleye, Catfish, and More

By: Tom Carpenter
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-1467702195
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012

You don’t have to be an adult to fish and in fact, you don’t even have to have a license. If you like to have fun, battle with a “fighting, tugging fish,” and enjoy having a great meal, fishing may just be the perfect outdoor sport for you. There are many different places to fish, large and small. For example you can fish in large lakes such as “Lake Michigan or Lake Superior,” or you can choose to fish in a small creek or pond. Many people simply enjoy fishing to either catch them to eat or simply release them. People who catch freshwater fish for sport primarily go after “bass, sunfish, crappies, bluegill, catfish, walleye, pike and trout.” These are known as “game fish.”

Native Americans “created their fishing gear out of what was available in nature.” They caught their fish in traps, speared them, netted them, and even shot them with their bows and arrows. You’ll learn about how they fished and what materials they used to make their equipment. European settlers, who also fished for food, perfected their techniques in order to feed their growing population. Unfortunately, their presence caused water pollution. To this day, all of us have to “fish responsibly.” One part of the solution was the creation of “fish and game” agencies,” which help us encourage “the efficient and careful use of natural resources.”

There are several things everyone needs to know about, including young sports-minded people. They include the importance of obtaining a fishing license, becoming educated about open and closed seasons, size limits, bag limits, and special rules for their locales. Most people do know where they want to fish, but may need to know what kind of gear they need. This book talks about many of those things from hooks to lines and sinkers. There are also safety issues to think about and that life jacket just could be a lifesaver. You’ll also read about optimum fishing times, fishing techniques, you’ll learn how to set a hook, how to fight a fish, netting, caring for you catch, preparing them for eating, and you’ll be able to check out a “freshwater game fish guide.”

This is a fun, informative book about the ins and outs of freshwater fishing the young reader will enjoy. Freshwater fishing is a sport that young people enjoy. The overview is basic, yet the information on an assortment of fishing facts is a perfect introduction to the sport. The book has numerous photographs (both black and white and full-color), and a few diagrams, and informative sidebars. One diagram clearly shows how to tie “an improved clinch knot.” This is one in a series of six in the “Great Outdoors Sports Zone.” In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore. There are additional free downloadable resources on the publisher’s website.

Quill says: If you have a youngster who enjoys fishing, or wants to learn about the basics, this is an excellent introduction to the sport.

Book Review - Small Game Hunting

Small Game Hunting: Rabbit, Raccoon, Squirrel, Opossum, and More

By: Tom Carpenter
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-1467702249
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012

When young people first start to hunt, one of the best ways to start their “hunting career” is with small game. When we talk about small game we usually think about “squirrels, possums, raccoons, rabbits, and hare.” If you think they are easy to hunt, you may have to rethink your strategy because hunting a white hare in snow takes quite a bit of skill to say nothing of having a sharp eye. You have to be a skillful hunter, learn how to track, and ultimately spot your prey. Native American boys and girls often joined in the hunt by “hunting squirrels and rabbits” while adults hunted larger game. The youngster hunted for food with bows and arrows as well as “traps and snares.”

European settlers also “relied on small game for food,” but instead of the bow and arrow, they used the flintlock rifle. Trapping was also a way they caught their food. You’ll also learn about how and why the small game population increased upon their arrival. Although in this day and age people still hunt small game it is also protected. For example there are hunting seasons and bag limits. When you purchase a hunting license it will “help fish and game agencies keep track of who is hunting what game.” You’ll read about small game habitats, limitations on licenses, conservation efforts, and why we study small game.

Before you even can consider hunting, you must learn about “hunting laws and practices that will help you have fun and stay safe.” Most states do require anyone who will be hunting to take hunter safety courses. If you are uncertain, some states do offer mentored hunting programs. State laws and available hunting lands vary from state to state, something the young wannabe hunter will have to look into. You’ll also learn about where you can hunt (or not), key hunting regulations, the code of ethics you should follow “beyond what is in a regulations booklet, the type of guns you might opt to use, firearms safety, other equipment you’ll need, suggestions for hunting an assortment of small game, you’ll be able to take a look at a small game guide, and will learn a bit about field care, and cooking small game.

This is an excellent look at hunting small game for the young hunting enthusiast. Although there are many young wannabe hunters, I’ve never seen one book specifically aimed toward the juvenile age group save those aimed toward actual licensing law. The overview is basic, yet the information on small game is a perfect introduction to the sport. The book has numerous photographs (both black and white and full-color), diagrams, and informative sidebars. For example, they cover topics such as blaze orange, firearms safety, and snowshoe hare hunting. This is one in a series of six in the “Great Outdoors Sports Zone.” In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore. There are additional free downloadable resources on the publisher’s website.

Quill says: If you want to introduce hunting or fishing to the young wannabe sports enthusiast, the "Great Outdoor Sports Zone" series is the perfect place to start!

Book Review - Snakebite

Snakebite (After the Dust Settled)

By: Jonathan Mary-Todd
Publisher: Darby Creek Publishing
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761383277
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012

Once upon a time they all lived in the Frontier Motel, “a place where people would stop and rest for a night or two before they got where they were going.” There was no rest any more for Martin, Hector, Malik, Beckley, and her sister Emma. They’d been on the road, so to speak, for several seasons. First the phones died and right on top of that, so did all the adults, including their parents. Yeah, dead, the lot of them and places like the Frontier were dangerous as anyone left would fight for a place to stay. It was better to keep on the move. Beckley would pore over “Gene Matterhorn’s Wilderness Survival Guidebook,” a guide that would keep them ... well, living.

They stuck to the woods, but that wasn’t always safe. “Back away,” Malik calmly told Hector, “Don’t look it in the eyes.” The snake didn’t care and it was already too late for Hector, who’d gotten bitten. Beckley looked into her guide and found out that it was a checkerback. That snake wouldn’t kill anyone, but could disfigure them. Those puncture marks weren’t going to be a picnic for Hector, but that snake would make a nice meal if properly prepared. It wasn’t a half bad meal, but soon Hector’s arm would look pretty nasty. Foraging for food wasn’t easy, but Martin looked ahead and actually had prepped a Radio Flyer wagon. It was kind of a “garden on wheels.”

There weren’t any people to be seen as they headed east, except for dead ones now and then. Beckley was always ready for any kind of circumstances and she even read about bear attacks in the guidebook. Be prepared could have been her motto, but soon things would take a change for the worse and preparation was useless. The sun was beginning to set and Malik urged them on when they saw “blood moving downstream past [them] in the water.” It was yet another dead body, but who knew when he died? It could have been minutes before. All of a sudden the group found themselves under attack by a disfigured band of boys dressed in black. Arrows began to fly though the air. They rushed in to steal their backpacks and provisions, but stole something even more valuable ... Emma. Would they be able to get her back? Would the survival guide give them the clues they needed to find her?

This is a fast-paced survivalist adventure that will thrill the young reader. Reluctant readers, the target audience for this tale, will be enticed by this short, action-packed read. The scenario for this series, “After the Dust Settled” is one in which the world as we know it has ended and only the young survive ... if they can. The tale moves along quickly as this band of teens stick together as they move east. Malik, their apparent leader, tells their story in a matter-of-fact way as survival has simply become their way of life. The flow of the narrative is smooth and I definitely was able to “recognize” different personality types in the group. For example, Hector is the impatient, sensitive type while Malik is a strong, quiet leader. If you have reluctant or newly independent readers who want short, but exciting novels, this is one series you may wish to add to your library or classroom shelves.

Quill says: The "After the Dust Settled" series is perfect for the young, reluctant reader who wants an exciting read, but not a lengthy one!

Book Review - The Mysterious Manuscript

The Mysterious Manuscript (Mortensen's Escapades)

By: Lars Jakobsen
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761378839
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012

Agent Mortensen’s job was to make sure that history was kept “in the right order” and to make sure that “valuable artifacts” stayed in the proper time. If he didn’t do his job properly, chaos could ensue. On a dark rainy night in Denmark in 1929, he followed a map drawn on a piece of notebook paper. It led him to Havne Kroen, an unusual establishment where a strange man sat sipping a beer. He demanded that Mortensen sit down and declared “I collect ancient books and illuminated manuscripts. A few days ago I found a book from Scotland ... from a rare book collection.”

When Motensen glanced at the pages, he was astonished to see an illustration of an airplane. How on earth did an airplane get to the year 1512? The rare book collector knew that Mortensen could travel through time, but it was not something he would discuss. The book had to be destroyed! It was however, necessary to get to Scotland to find out why that plane had ended up in the Middle Ages. He boarded the ship, the A.P. Bernstorff, as he began his journey. Professor Wonmug had invented time travel and Mortensen would have to use his Time Gun to do some sleuthing. When he arrived, he figured he would wait until dark to enter the castle and grab the illuminated manuscript.

“I’ve got to find that book!” Mortensen exclaimed to himself. The only logical place was in a library, but the search would be daunting. Once he had the book he’d go back through time, but soon he would discover that he had more problems than he bargained for. A creaky door slowly began to open and a creepy ogre-like man stared at him under the light of his candle. “THIEF!” The only way to escape was to use his Time Gun, but Mortensen just might have a fight on his hands. Was he going to be able to escape the clutches of that creepy guy? If so, could he find out why a plane ended up in medieval Scotland?

This dark and mysterious time travel mystery, set in the Middle Ages, will entrance young mystery buffs. Mortensen is like a futuristic Sherlock Holmes who has to figure out how and why a plane was able to travel back through time. Once he did that it was critical to rectify the problem. This graphic novel has several elements that are alluring, including Blossom, a mute damsel in distress (a witch), Mandrake, an unusual scribe from Loch Ness, and characters like the greedy rare bookseller. Time travel adventures, as a rule, have many quirky twists and turns and this one is no exception. The artwork, keeping in tune with the tale, is dark and mysterious with splashes of color to illuminate it. In the back of the book are several historical dialogues that include “Illuminated Manuscripts,” “The First Bicycles,” “Witch Hunt,” “Dungeons,” and “The Libraries of Way Back When.”

Quill says: This exciting new series, Mortensen's Escapades, combines just the right elements of mystery and time travel that young graphic novel enthusiasts will love!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review - Ghost Town

Ghost Town

By: Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson with Tim Waggoner
Publisher: Gallery Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Publication Date: October 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-1382-7
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: November 2012

On the heels of Ghost Hunting, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson strike while the iron is hot and collaborate with Tim Waggoner on their next paranormal novel: Ghost Town. The town is Exeter, the most haunted town in America and the story opens at the Forgotten Lore book store. Tonya Jackson, a college kid trying to make ends meet just wants to get rid of the last customer so she can get on to more important matters. Her friends are hosting a girls' night of tearjerker movies. However, until the annoying tourists make their purchase, Tonya is stuck and her patience is wearing thin. She hates October in Exeter. This is the month every year when the largest paranormal festival, Esotericon, invades Exeter. All it did for her was subject her to the craziest of the crazies in search of that opportune moment to party with the afterlife. Little did Tonya know it would be her last October in Exeter.

With their introduction of Tonya out of the way, Hawes and Wilson waste no time in shining the spotlight on three more characters: Amber Lozier, Trevor Ward and Drew Pearson. Fifteen years beyond high school, they reunite and return to Exeter to face down their demons. After a horrific experience thanks to their mutual interest in paranormal phenomena (and the burning to the ground of the Lowry House), it seems the plot is anchored for the story to take off. The event: Esotericon - an annual freak-fest frenzy for paranormal enthusiasts.

While the pace of this story doesn't necessarily drag, there is a fair amount of obvious cheekiness that tends to weigh it down in places. Some of the character descriptions; particularly Greg Daniels, are a little too overstated. Greg is a person from their past who has since passed over to the other side. When his spiritual self is introduced and resurfaces, his persona is overkill with his arrogant and know-it-all deliveries. Hawes and Wilson also spin a subplot of: does the guy get the girl the second time around when they introduce yet another character, Jenn Rinaldi, an Asian-American beauty who happens to be a former lover of Trevor's.

Even though the read itself is fairly fluid, there is a needless complexity throughout that is attributable to the overabundance of star characters. I found myself on more than one occasion pausing in order to refresh who was who and what their role was in the story line. The authors achieved what they set out to do in the writing of Ghost Town. It is a novel that plants the distinct question in the reader's mind of what goes on in life after death? I do have a fascination with that very wonder. However, I struggled with the premise because the writing jumped around among too many characters and the scenes didn't seem to flow in a natural progression before I was redirected to another part of town.

Quill Says: What does lurk on the other side?

Book Review - Do You Know Dewey?

Do You Know Dewey? Exploring the Dewey Decimal System

By: Brian P. Cleary
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761366768
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012

Melvil scratched his head as he stood on a stool and looked at the piles and piles of books on the shelves. It was just a big mess and there wasn’t any way he could find what he was looking for. When he grew up he was able to “make a system to organize those stacks of books and classify and list ‘em.” What Melvil did was make it easy for us to find where nonfiction books are in a library. “The Dewey decimal system keep nonfiction in its place. / Books are grouped by subject, such as art or outer space. / This system mainly covers books on topics that are real: / people, things, and places jammed with factual appeal!” In other words, when you go into a library you’ll be able to find what you are looking for instead of looking at a jumble of books.

If you think you want to learn more about the Internet you’d simply head to the shelves that are “labeled with the zeroes, or the Os.” You can see the labels on the ends of the shelves and on the spines of the books. Easy peasy! If you head to the 100s you can find out all about us, even those unusual things like ghosts and people like Harry Houdini. When you want to learn about the religions of the world “and probe beliefs and faiths of people living around the globe,” it’s off to the 200s. Anything you need to know about can easily be found if you know how the Dewey decimal system works. What section do you think this book would be in?

This is a fun, informative book about the Dewey decimal system the young reader will enjoy. This vibrant book makes the system come alive as Cleary’s inimitable rhyming scheme helps children learn where to find nonfiction books in a library. This is not an in-depth look at the system, but rather an introductory one for the younger student. The artwork is particularly vibrant as it dances throughout the pages. For example, when we take a peek at the 400s, we see a youngster in a darkened library. He is holding a torch aloft as he “explores” an Egyptian tomb. In the back of the book is a section on how to use the Dewey decimal system and a basic one on its actual numerical sequence.

Quill says: This is a perfect introduction to the Dewey decimal system, a "must have" for every library!

Book Review - Being a Model

Being a Model (On the Radar: Awesome Jobs)

By: Adam Sutherland
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761377825
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler

If you’ve seen models on the covers of magazines, on television, or walking the walk down the catwalk and want in, perhaps becoming a model is a career choice for you. Not everything about modeling is glamorous, but most models would say it’s worth it. Of course modeling, like many other jobs, “involves a lot of hard work and dedication to reach the top.” Models don’t usually work solo, but rather have several people behind them. They are “represented by model agencies” and have a model booker to schedule their jobs. Sometimes “fashion agencies send scouts to large events, such as music festivals, to search for new faces.” You never can tell if you just might be the person they are looking for!

Of course there is one thing that you do have to have. If you are a woman you “must be 5 feet 8 1/2 inches (1.7 meters) or taller and men 6 feet (1.8 meters) or taller.” Naturally, if you still have your heart set on that catwalk, you’ll have to add some inches to those numbers. There are several different types of modeling including editorial work (magazines), catalog modeling, catwalk, and advertising. If you want to go for the money, the best-paid work can be in TV commercials. Just a day’s work “can end up being worth hundreds of thousands of dollars” if the ad runs for several years.

Modeling can be a “record-breaking business.” Take for example model Carmen Dell’Orefice. Now she’s been modeling for 66 years. You’ll read about several other record-breakers in this book. You’ve probably seen several Hollywood models if you’re checking out the field, including former child actresses. Some of the most successful models include Gisele Bündchen, Heidi Klum, Kate Moss, Tyra Banks, and Naomi Campbell, all of whom are featured in this book. You’ll also learn about successful male models Tyson Beckford and Joy Fatoyinbo, Gemma Howorth (a hand model), you’ll read about some “Vital Statistics,” and you’ll learn many other interesting things about one of the best jobs in the world ... modeling!

This is a fascinating look at modeling, one of the more glamorous jobs in the world. If you think this is a book that will teach a youngster how to become a model, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Rather, it’s one that provides an overview of modeling as a career, including getting down to the nitty gritty of the lingo or “Model Speak.” Short paragraphs define words/terms such as photo shoot, go-sees, commercial modeling, and tear sheets. The layout is quite vibrant with loads of full-color photographs and sidebar-like blocks scattered throughout the text. There are a few interviews to pore over and a debate that focuses on “Size 0 on the Catwalk: Yes or No?” In the back of the book is an index and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: If you have a youngster who is an aspiring model, or is thinking about modeling as a career, you might want to add this book to your list!

Book Review - Being a DJ

Being a DJ (On the Radar: Awesome Jobs)

By: Lisa Regan and Matt Anniss
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761377757
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012

If you have a passion for music you don’t have to wait until you’re grown up to begin a career. In fact Club DJ Tom Thorpe started when he was only sixteen. Granted, it wasn’t easy and he really had to practice, but for Tom it was well worth the effort. In his interview for this book he has a lot of hints for the aspiring DJ, but also tells you how to be a stand-out. “Good DJs will show their passion and flair not only through their music but also with their body language when they play.” Do you think you have what it takes to be a DJ and give it your all like Tom did? If so, you just might get your inspiration by reading about the art and those who practice it.

Historically, people always loved to dance, but it wasn’t until the 1940s that anyone thought of becoming a disc jockey (DJ). In 1947, Jimmy Saville “experimented with two turntables and the idea quickly caught on.” In the 1950s and 1960s people were still dancing up a storm, but in the 1970s Djs took it one step further. The art had become a career for some as they became performers. The first one, DJ Francis Grasso “became the first to mix records together in a nightclub.” It was on these simple turntables along with their ingenious ways with mixers that new forms of music such as hip-hop were born.

Naturally when something becomes popular, it grows and changes with the times. Do you have a favorite Internet DJ? You may still see Djs at weddings and dances, but some of the most famous ones can be streamed into your home though an assortment of electronic devices. Djs such as Pete Tong are superstars! Throwing a record onto a turntable or pumping up the jam with a CD is a thing of the past as technology has taken over. “Techno wizards” are now turntabalists in their own right. They’re hot and their remixes are garnering awards. For example, David Guetta won a Grammy “Best Remixed Recording” for Madonna’s Revolver. How much better can you get than that? In this book you’ll read about some hot Djs, the equipment they use, the history of the art, you’ll read about some of the best turntablists, suggestions as to how to succeed, and you’ll learn many more interesting things about being a DJ, the “best job in the world!”

This is a fantastic look at the history of the DJ and those who work in the field. Perhaps one of the best features of this book is the eye-popping layout. The book explodes with photographs, artwork, and sidebars that almost literally dance through its pages. Many of the people discussed or interviewed in this book can be found on YouTube for a little added excitement. Included are Dj Kool Herc, DJ Pete Tong, DJ David Guetta, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Rafik, TheScratch Perverts, DJ A-Trak, DJ CashMoney, and others. A two-page spread gives the young reader a lingo lesson with BEAT SPEAK and a glossary that defines words included in the text. In the back of the book is an index, a debate section (Musicians or Jukeboxes?) and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: If you have a youngster who is passionate about music and would love being a DJ, this is one eye-popping book you might want to add to your list!

Book Review - Calvin Johnson

Calvin Johnson (Amazing Athletes)

By: Jeff Savage
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-1467702782
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012

Calvin Johnson was born in Newman, Georgia, a town near Atlanta. His parents, Calvin and Arica, were no-nonsense people and according to young Calvin, “worked hard and raised us right.” There weren’t going to be any Cs on those report cards in that house! His mom didn’t want him to get hurt so he had to play Little League baseball until he got into high school. Finally, when he was fifteen and “stood 6 feet 4 inches,” he began to play football at Sandy Creek High School. Even though they were a running team, Calvin was able to start honing his skills as “the Patriot’s wide receiver.” He was on his way and college coaches began to notice him.

One of them was Chan Gailey, Georgia Tech’s Yellow Jackets coach. Calvin Johnson picked Georgia Tech and “was an instant star.” He was amazingly agile and when thrown an unusual pass, “he reached back and squeezed it with his big right hand.” Calvin was working hard, and by the time he was a junior “he was unstoppable.” It was time for him to move on to the NFL after winning the Fred Biletnikoff Award and shattering school records. The Detroit Lions were ready and waiting for him. In this book you’ll find out about his family life, you’ll read about many of his games, why he went to Bolivia, his $64 million contract, how hard he worked, his selection to the Pro Bowl, and you’ll learn many other interesting things about Calvin Johnson, an amazing athlete!

This is a fascinating look at wide receiver, Calvin Johnson, football’s “Megatron.” Many young football fans are familiar with Calvin, but will enjoy reading more about his life and the games he played. The book is loaded with full-color photographs, many action-oriented. Words that might be unfamiliar to the reader such as “end zone,” “running back,” or “wide receiver” are highlighted in purple and defined in the glossary. There are numerous informative sidebars and captions that add additional information. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, selected career highlights (2002 to 2011), and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: If you have a young football fan who is way into the Megatron, you just might want to add this book to your list!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Book Review - Hair Traits: Color, Texture, and More

Hair Traits: Color, Texture, and More: What Traits are in Your Genes?

By: Buffy Silverman
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0761389415
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012

Nobody is exactly like the next person, but we all have certain things in common such as arms and legs. There are ways that we do differ from others. Some of these differences “are called traits.” Skin color, dimples, freckles, and eye color are a few examples of traits. Genes give our bodies the “directions for different traits.” We don’t just have a few genes, but have thousands of them. You have two pairs of genes that are given to you from your birth parents. If you take a look around you, you will see that you have much more in common with people than with animals.

One trait that you can easily take a look at is hair color. Your genes “give directions” for the colors we have when they tell the body which pigment to give us and how much to use. If you look at the pictures in this book you’ll see a dark-haired boy and a light-haired girl. His hair has alleles for a lot of pigment, while she “has alleles for light hair.” Alleles are two or more forms of a gene. You’ll learn about pigments, where red hair comes from, hair texture (curly, wavy, straight), uncommon traits such as a forelock, you’ll get to see pictures of a widow’s peak, and will learn many more interesting things about hair traits.

This is a fun look at hair traits for the young student in the “What Traits are in Your Genes?” series. As a beginning nonfiction book it is geared toward the newly independent reader. There are four basic “chapters” and the text is large and easy to read. The layout is bright, contains full-color photographs with informative captions that provide additional factual material or asks the student to think about what he or she sees. For example, one says that “A gene comes in two different forms, called alleles. This boy has alleles for dark hair.” In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, an activity (Track the Traits), and additional recommended book and website resources to explore. There are free downloadable educational resources on the publisher’s website.

Quill says: This is a basic nonfiction book for young students that will help them not only learn about their bodies, but also their genetic inheritance.

Book Review - Eye Color: Brown, Blue, Green, and Other Hues

Eye Color: Brown, Blue, Green, and Other Hues: What Traits Are in Your Genes?

By: Jennifer Boothroyd
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761389385
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012

As humans we have more things about us that are alike than not. For example, we all have arms, legs, heads, and torsos. There are some differences and most likely you’ve noticed that many of us have freckles, different colored eyes or hair. The “differences are called traits.” Perhaps if you think hard enough you can think of some other traits we have. The genes that are passed on to us from our birth parents “tell your body how to make different traits.” Each one of us has two copies of our genes, one from one parent and one from the other.

Take for example the genes for hair. One parent might have dark curly hair and the other light straight hair. If they have two children, one might have curly hair and the other straight. Can you think of any other hair combination that the children might have? Genes also control our eye color. If you look in the mirror you will see a “colored ring” that is the iris. The basic color of your eyes comes from the pigment, “a substance that gives color to something.” In this book you will also learn why some eyes can be sensitive to light, you’ll learn what alleles are, why brown is a dominant eye color, why more people have brown eyes, interesting facts about eyes in other hues, and many more interesting things about eye color.

This is a fun look at eye color for the young student in the “What Traits are in Your Genes?” series. As a beginning nonfiction book it is geared toward the newly independent reader. There are four basic “chapters” and the text is large and easy to read. The layout is bright, contains full-color photographs with informative captions that provide additional factual material or asks the student to think about what he or she sees. For example, one says that “Those with light-colored eyes can be more sensitive to light. Their eyes have less pigment to protect them.” In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, an activity (Track the Traits), and additional recommended book and website resources to explore. There are free downloadable educational resources on the publisher’s website.

Quill says: This is a basic nonfiction book for young students that will help them not only learn about their bodies, but also their genetic inheritance.

Book Review - Your Nervous System

Your Nervous System: How Does Your Body Work?

By: Joelle Riley
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761374503
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2012

You have hundreds of muscles in your body, but just what tells them what to do and how to do it? Your nervous system “controls all the other systems,” including those muscles. If you didn’t have a nervous system, you wouldn’t be able to do much of anything. The nervous system “is made up of your nerves, your spinal cord, and your brain.” The nerves act as a messenger service as they carry important messages around your body. Your spinal cord is a connector that sends these messages to the brain. You probably are aware that your brain is the organ with which you do all your thinking. It keeps watch on your body and it “tells the other body systems what to do.”

Nerves themselves are “made up of special cells called nerve cells.” These special cells are the messengers that seek out messages throughout your body and send them along. If you look closely at the diagram in this book you will see that the cell has a cell body, a tail, and branching hairs. You can see how the message is passed through the cell and onto other parts of the body. A photograph shows nerve cells bundled together and you will read that “nerves are big enough to be seen without a microscope.” Receptors placed in assorted parts of the body collect messages to send along. For example, there are receptor cells in your “skin, ears, eyes, nose, and tongue.”

Your spine, or backbone, houses your spinal cord. Your spinal cord fits nicely “through the holes in your backbone.” If you feel your spine, you can easily tell that your spine will be protected by the bones. Your brain is “the part of your body that makes you who you are.” The brain also needs protection as it is very soft and the bones in your skull protect it. You’ll learn about the brain’s three main parts, their purpose, what messages they receive and hand along, how “your nerves, spinal cords, and brain work together,” you’ll read about how a receptor hands along a message, reflexes, and you’ll learn many other things about how your nervous system functions.

This book is an excellent way for a young student to learn about the nervous system and how it works. As a beginning nonfiction chapter book, newly independent and independent readers will be able to learn about the nervous system. The layout of the book is inviting with full-color photographs, diagrams, and microphotographs of receptors and nerve cells. Captions add additional informative factual material. For example, when looking at an x-ray of a skull we learn that “The round part of the skull protects the brain. That part of the skull is made up of eight flat bones that fit together like puzzle pieces.” In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a basic diagram of the nervous system, and additional recommended book and website resources. There are free downloadable educational resources on the publisher’s website.

Quill says: If you have students who would like to know how their body works, this is one is a series of six that you may want to add to your list!

Book Review - Your Muscular System

Your Muscular System: How Does Your Body Work?

By: Rebecca L. Johnson
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761374497
Reviewed by: Deb Fowlwer
Review Date: November 2012

Every time you move "take a step, blink your eyes, or smile," you are using your muscles. Some muscles like your biceps are easy to see and feel, but others like the muscles in your heart are not. There are hundreds of muscles in your body and all of them "make up your muscular system." Some of these muscles you can control, while others work automatically. For example if you want to pick an apple you use the muscles in your eyes to look at it, use the muscles in your arm to reach up to it, and then use the ones in your hands to curl around it and harvest it. We use our muscles to do everything we do on a daily basis.

Examples of muscles that you can’t control include the ones in your stomach, your heart, and "the muscles that make goose bumps on your skin." You don’t have to think about making your heart beat. In fact it contracts or beats "about one hundred thousand times a day." There are three different kinds of muscles in your body including skeletal muscles, tendons, and heart muscle. You’ll learn how they look, what they help you do, where they are located in your body, and how they work with other muscles. For example, the biceps and triceps work together to help your lower arm move up and down.

Skeletal muscles are attached to your skeletal system, but "some are attached to other muscles." When you make that funny face many of the muscles you use "are attached to your skin." Skeletal muscles range in shape and size. There are big, powerful ones in your legs and much smaller ones in your hands and eyes. Just in your hands alone there "are about twenty small muscles." You’ll also read about what happens when your muscles get tired, smooth muscles, how these muscles contract automatically, you’ll learn where smooth muscles are in our bodies, what muscle fibers look like under a microscope, what our heart muscle does, and what we need to do to keep our muscles healthy.

This book is an excellent way for young students to learn about our muscular system. As a beginning nonfiction chapter book, newly independent and independent readers will be able to learn about the musculoskeletal system. The layout of the book is inviting with full-color photographs, diagrams, and microphotographs of muscle cells. Captions add additional informative factual material. For example, next to a microphotograph of heart muscle we read that "Your heart pumps about 3,000 gallons (11,356 liters) of blood through blood vessels each day." In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a basic diagram of the muscular system, and additional recommended book and website resources. There are free downloadable educational resources on the publisher’s website.

Quill says: If you have students who would like to know how their body works, this is one in a series of six that you may want to add to your list!

Book Review - Lou! Down in the Dumps

Lou! Down in the Dumps

By: Julien Neel
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 076138779X
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 19, 2012

Lou was on the rooftop looking over at a wrecking ball that was about to crash into a building. Mind you, it wasn’t just any building, but Tristan’s. She’s been crazy mad dash in love with him forever, but the only thing he was in love with were his video games. *Sigh!* Well, he was totally awesome until she saw him picking his nose. Now he was gone and the building he lived in was going to bite the dust. Then Richard moved into the building, fell in love with her mother, her mother fell in love with him, and nothing was the same ever since. Except maybe that school was going to start up again. Yada, yada, yada.

Mina, her BFF since kindergarten, met her in front of her building so they could walk to school together. They were going to attend Guy Degrenne Jr. High, but when they glanced down the roster, they discovered ... they weren’t in the same class. “BooHoo ... LouLou!” A crisis was looming. “Minaaa! Don’t let go!” The Predator was her homeroom teacher and she was s-t-u-c-k sitting next to a girl who was never going to ever shut up. Mary Emily was nothing like Mina, who was really cool, or so she thought. Lou was in for quite a surprise when Mina put her on ignore.

Lou’s mother’s book, Sidera: Galactic Adventures had been published and was on the bookshelves. She was celebrating because she had Richard and was planning on being the next J.K. Rowling (sorta). They even knocked down the walls between their apartments. Paul had written her a letter, but she couldn’t seem to write back. The only thing that was steady in her life seemed to be the smooching between her mother and Richard. It was much more fun to play at the park, ride the My Little Pony on the carousel, and play with dolls. If this was what being thirteen was all about, Lou definitely didn’t need it!

Lou is finding out that growing up is absolutely no fun at all. Of course she is going through an adolescent crisis and has no idea what to do with herself. Lou is having problems with the people in her life, including her best friend Mina. This graphic novel catches this age perfectly as Lou emotionally struggles with everything and everyone around her. Lou quietly plays with her dolls at one point and imaginatively drifts back in her mind to a more innocent time in her life. The whirlwind of change is around her and while her Mom is experiencing a positive one, Lou is down in the dumps. One of the most touching panels is when she takes her little “pink princess gown” out of a trunk, closes her eyes, and holds it to her face. This series is a two-time winner of the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d’Angoulême.

Quill says: This is a progressive graphic novel, a thirteen-year-old who has discovered that growing up is not quite what she thought it would be like!

Book Review - Raining Cats and Detectives

Raining Cats and Detectives (Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Mystery)

By: Colleen AF Venable
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761360087
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 19, 2012

There was a little problem at Mr. Venezi’s Pet’s & Stuff pet shop. Mr. V was always mixing up the names of the animals, but Viola was trying to set him straight. She held Hamisher, the hamster, in her hands and asked, “What’s this?” No, it wasn’t a mini koala, a short ferret, or a tiny dragon. Ugh! Of course Ham thought being called a dragon was perfect, but that just wouldn’t do. Viola was trying, but Mr. V never really was good at names. Viola worked for Mr. V and was saving her money to buy the chinchillas, Janice, Clarissa, and Mr. Sparkles. Detectives Hamisher and Sasspants, PI(G) decided they needed “a better detective office” so they could figure out who would be the perfect owner for them.

Of course Hamisher already knew that he wanted the detective sort to be their owner. “I just want someone who’s a supercool professional detective, with a detective’s hat and a detective’s notebook and big ears to hear crime ...” Yeah, right, but first they had to make their office. Charlotte’s daughter Bree might be a good owner, but then again maybe not. They owned Tummytickles, but he was pretty harmless for a cat. Bree wanted another pet, but noooo way! In the meantime Sass and Ham were working on their office while Viola was trying to sell pets.

All of a sudden a Detective Pickles came through the door looking for “a bloodhound to sniff out clues.” No, Pets & Stuff didn’t sell dogs, but they did sell ferrets, rabbits, birds, hamsters, and guinea pigs. Guinea pigs? Hamsters? Detective Pickles didn’t quite have enough money for both but he would take ... SASSPANTS! Oh, no, what was going to happen to the shop without him? It wouldn’t be long before Hamisher really needed him because Tummytickles turned up missing and there was a big reward. Soon everyone was trying to be a detective, but there was only one Sasspants PI(G). Would he ever come home to help solve the mystery?

Once again, Sasspants PI(G) and Hamisher are back on the job trying to solve yet another pet shop mystery. It’s not a secret that Mr. V simply cannot figure out the names of the animals, but neither is the fact that Sass and Ham are a perfect detective team. This time there is a little twist ... Sass has been sold. The tale, told in graphic novel form, will have definite appeal to both the reluctant and young reader. The characters are fun, witty, and detectives Sass and Ham really know how to crack a case. The clues are there, but if you want to solve the mystery, you too have to put on both your thinking cap and detective hat if you’re going to keep up with this furry duo. In the back of the book Hamisher tells us all about cats and you’ll learn a bit about “The Best Animal Detectives!”

Quill says: If you've ever met Sasspants PI(G) and Hamisher, the pet shop detectives, you'll love this mystery ... if not, you'd better look into it!