Monday, March 28, 2011

The Book About Tony Chestnut

Reviewed by Cayden (age 5 ½) and Max (age 3 ½) Aures and Mom for Reader Views Kids 


"The Book About Tony Chestnut" brings the children's song 'Tony Chestnut" by The Learning Station to life.  It is accompanied by a read-along CD.

Cayden:  "The Book About Tony Chestnut" is about a boy and his sister who have to go to a new school because they moved away from their old one.  His sister is sad because she misses her friends.  All of the other kids play at recess but Tony and his sister just sit on the bench and she cries.  He sings to make her happy and everyone looks at him.  He sings a funny song with his name in it and it has a dance with it too.  It goes "Toe Knee Chest Nut Nose Eye Love You" and then there are some other kid's names in the song too.  He puts his hands on all of the parts he says, and that is how he dances.  The CD with the book was really cool.  It reads the story three times and then the lady asks some questions to answer.  I liked listening to the CD.  It helped me learn some of the words in the book that I didn't know.  My favorite part of the book is when the boy is dancing and when we did the dance too!  It was cool how he made a song out of his name!  My favorite picture in the book was when they were playing on the playground."

Max:  "I liked dancing to the song with Cayden and listening to the CD.  I liked the skipping part.  My favorite picture was when all of the kids were on the jungle gym and one was hanging upside down!  I wish I could hang upside down but I am too little."

Parent's comments:

"The Book About Tony Chestnut" by Laurie Monopoli is a wonderful interactive reading experience!  Incorporating the names into the movements in the song is very clever and my children found it to be quite amusing.  Long after the book was put down they were still dancing around to the Tony Chestnut song!

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Chromatics Attack

Reviewed by Madeline McElroy (age 9.5) for Reader Views Kids (3/11)

When Emison's mom turns into a shadow and warns her about 'The Chromatics' and then disappears, she must get back her mom before it's too late. About one week after her mom was gone, two new people move in next door in her apartment. Emison must be very careful to not saying anything or her mom might be more in danger then before! The next day Emison meets her new neighbors, a boy named Adam and a girl named Missy. They were very nice and fun. She wanted to tell them about her mom becoming a shadow, but she is afraid they can't keep a secret.

After a long day talking with her new friends, everyone goes back home. Emison wanted to find out more about the Chromatics her mom warned her about and looked them up in 'Google.' Some results said Color Scientists and some said a paint store. She must find more. She searched shadow people but nothing came up. The next morning Emison shows her new friends around the building and they go to the thrift store to sell some stuff for her mom. When they get there, she asked the store keeper Mr. Lewis if he knew anything about the Chromatics. He said they sounded familiar and would look at it later. After they're done, they walk down the alley back to their apartment. In the lobby, Adam asks if they could go down to the basement and see what is there. Emison thought it might be fun so they went down. The basement had low light, very low light, and there was a big black hole in the middle of it, and a boy inside it. There was also a man talking to the boy; he said, "You can't come into our world, it's too dangerous." What did he mean?

The next day Emison, Adam, and Missy go down to the thrift store again. Emison asks Mr.Lewis if he found anything about the Chromatics, and he did. He found a flyer that read, Chromatics Meeting Today Down at Harper Street at 3:00. This could be a clue to finding her mom! They sneak down to Harper and look through the window of the meeting. Who would never know it, there was that big black hole again and Adam and Missy's babysitter Hannah! Then Emison realized her mom disappeared through a hole like that. Could it be the entrance to the shadow world! Tomorrow they plan to go back down to the basement and travel to the shadow world. When entering the shadow world, it was very dark and not a thing of life. The weird thing was that when Adam looked at the sun, it was not yellow, it was a glowing purple, and instead of burning your eyes, it was a beautiful sight. Emison knew she must stick to the case, to find her mom.

The rest of this book will leave you guessing what will happen, and what will not. "Chromatics Attack" is a great story that will keep you wanting to read more! I like this book because I love fantasy books; I think it's so awesome for this author to make up such a cool world and such a cool book! All kids my age and older would love reading this book. I know I loved it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bouncing Back From Loss: How To Learn From Your Past, Heal The Present, And Transform Your Future

Donna Marie Thompson, PhD
Morgan James Publishing (2011)
ISBN 9781600378256
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views


At some point in our lives we are all faced with adversity. I am sure we've all heard people say things like, "What doesn't break you, makes you stronger…" or my grandma's favorite, "Nettles don't freeze…", yet when we are in a middle of a crisis, it is hard to think clearly and even harder to realize that bouncing back from loss is a long and oftentimes very difficult process.

While we rarely have the foresight to prepare ourselves for such devastating circumstances as those described in Donna Marie Thompson's "Bouncing Back From Loss," reading her book at any given moment will give us tools to be better able to fight our way back to sanity when loss happens, or in the case we've already suffered a loss, it will definitely be an invaluable guide out of the confusing, scary and overpowering feelings that tend to overcome us when we are in the midst of a challenge or loss.

Donna Marie Thompson's story of emotional, financial and physical challenges she had to face in rapid succession is brave, deeply personal and incredibly inspiring. What I found the most inspiring was her will to overcome whatever was thrown her way, and the most valuable parts of the book were, at least for me, those which detailed both the challenges she faced and the solutions she devised for them. Through her story the reader could clearly see that both loss and recovery are processes, and they both take a certain amount of time. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to hurry them, and one has to go through certain phases to recognize, accept and deal with the situation, as well as heal from whatever has happened. In addition to the personal story, which in itself is an excellent teaching tool, Donna Marie Thompson offers a variety of exercises and tools to "help you learn from your past, build the present and transform your future." From the 5 Es to recovery (explore, eliminate, embrace, envision and energize) to 21 stupid things people say when someone has suffered a loss, they will help you get back on track and continue stronger than you ever were.

Written in a positive and always affirming tone, "Bouncing Back From Loss" is an intelligent, insightful and useful guide to facing life's challenges and recovering from them.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Desperate Desires (A Sweet and Spicy Novella)

Terri Wolffe

Amazon Digital Services (2011)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

In London, England, in 1796, beautiful and feisty Lucinda is about to become a widow. Her much older wealthy husband is in ill health.  Fearing that his devious relatives will try to step in and take everything from her, because there is no heir, Lucinda has hatched a plan to solve this dilemma.  Enlisting the aid of her loyal servants and her giant brother, she sets out to kidnap the Duke Lucien Douglas IV.  The success of this mission is critical to all who are involved because the estate of the Lucinda's husband is home to all of them. 

Wise to the ways of the world, Lucien is extremely surprised to discover himself so easily kidnapped.  Initially he is angry and resistant to the idea of helping Lucinda, especially when he learns her criteria for choosing him.  When he finds himself unable to resist her charms, he quickly changes his mind.  Caught up in their desire for each other, they seem to forget all else.  When Lucinda's allies step in to help bring them back to reality, they find themselves lost to each other.  It is now Lucien's mission to find Lucinda.

"Desperate Desires" perfectly blends erotica, romance and humor.  I found the whole eccentric cast of characters to be endearing.  The sensual scenes are beautifully written and extremely erotic.  I think most readers will find themselves wishing that they could be in Lucinda's shoes.  I guess I shouldn't say "shoes" because she certainly wasn't wearing any in the most intense scenes.  Terri Wolffe definitely managed to capture my attention with this tale.  I highly recommend "Desperate Desires" to readers who enjoy erotic romances.

Head Trip: One Case of Super Twins

Jack Eadon
Eloquence Press (2011)
ISBN 9780982495407
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

Jack Eadon has created a terrifying look into the potential impact of Superfetation (the 1 in 40,000,000 chance of twins being conceived at different times but born together). Roger, a full term baby, and Marcus conceived one month later, born prematurely struggle, in an ongoing completion, one to succeed, the other to keep up.

In a masterful introduction, Eadon describes the growth pattern and the imaginary thoughts of the two developing embryos within the womb. At birth the boys are labeled "super twins" after the medical term "Superfetation."

Eadon goes into great detail describing the personality development of the twins as they compete at home, at church, with girls, in Eagle scouts, sports, and music. Marcus, although premature was born first. Later it was determined that he may have been pushed out of the womb – as the intruder. As an interesting aside Eadon introduces "birth order" implications of this phenomenal possibility.

Careful thought has gone into the development and introduction of each character. Each has their flaws as well as a certain element that leads to possible empathy from the reader.

I found the parallel of the Biblical twins, Jacob and Esau, of great interest. Similarities are woven into the story of Roger and Marcus that are drawn from the Biblical account.  Even as Esau threatened to kill Jacob after he was robbed of his birthright and Isaac's blessing by Jacob. Roger in his obsession with envy, rage, and rationalization makes plans to have Marcus killed.

The sexual content relative to personality development and the rites of coming of age are often graphic. The dark evil side that results from compulsive envy gives the reader a glimpse into the seamier side of life. I sometimes felt the reader was provided a little "too much detailed information."

This is the first in "The American Drama Series" which promises to bring to life the seven deadly sins. Jack Eadon combines an active imagination with careful research in this fast-moving, dramatic story as he unravels the deadly results of being obsessed with envy.

The hardback edition, which I read, has an attractive durable binding. I hope to add the entire set to my library and am looking forward to book two in the series, "A Consequence of Greed," which will also feature Marcus Ramsey.  "Head Trip" is a fast-moving "page turner."

Read interview with Jack Eadon

Monday, March 7, 2011

Finding Faith: A Novel

C. E. Edmonson
WinePress Publishing (2011)
ISBN 9781414118673
Reviewed by Kristen Keiran (age 13) for Reader Views Kids

I think that C. E. Edmonson is trying to show people how Native Americans were treated in the early 1900s. You are shown this from a thirteen-year-old girl's point of view; her name is Faith. It all takes place during the depression in 1934.

Faith Covington has everything she could ever have dreamed of - loving parents, a huge house, her parents were rich, and she acted like a young lady. All of this is destroyed when America is hit with the worst thing possible - The Depression. When Mr. Covington's company goes out of business and the banks go bankrupt, Faith's world is turned upside down.

The only possible solution is for Faith and her mother to go live with their Aunt Eva while her father stays in New York to try and find work. Faith finds Aunt Eva is a Lenape Indian making her part Indian too. She is faced with persecution and racism, things she had never been exposed to. After she and her mother have settled in and she has become accustomed to her aunt's ways, things start to go bad. When an Indian named Red-Moon has his barn burned down, Faith and everybody else knows things aren't right. The people are confused and worried and their fears are confirmed when the next day Red-Moon is shot in the head and Paul sees a pickup truck driving away from the scene.

This story is full of adventure and mystery. You also get to know what it would've been like for a teenage girl struggling to survive during the depression while experiencing the ups and downs of living in a new community and learning trust with the Lenape people. My opinion would be that this book is recommended for ages 12+ and for both genders.

I found it interesting when I could relate to the plants and animals. When Faith talks about seeing a black head sticking up out of the water I knew it to be a loon or when she talks about sweet berries growing close to the ground I recognized blueberries.

Finally, I personally loved this book. I have always found Historical-Fiction fascinating and "Finding Faith" is the perfect book to read. C. E. Edmonson tells the story and makes you feel like you are there, like you know Faith and Paul and Aunt Eva, and the setting is described with great detail so you can picture it in your mind. You learn about how a rich and spoiled girl turns into a girl who can live off of the forest, can fish, can garden, can make pottery and do so much more. She finally realizes that maybe the depression was supposed to happen; maybe she was meant to come and live in the wilderness and learn the ways of the Lenape. After all, she could never have done anything like that in the busy streets of New York.

Vampire Ascending

Lorelei Bell

Copperhill Media Corporation (2010)
ISBN 9780976511670
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

In "Vampire Ascending," the main character Sabrina Strong has a gift of clairvoyance.  Because she has visions when she touches items, she usually prefers to wear gloves.  Except for this gift, and her mother disappearing on her after being turned by a vampire when Sabrina was ten, she has led a pretty mundane life.  She seems to have the same financial worries and self doubts that most females have.  I found myself being able to really relate to her character.  Her adventure begins when she takes a job as a clairvoyant with a master vampire's organization.  She really, really needs the money if she wants to hang on to the house that she inherited after her father's death.

In addition to the job paying well, Sabrina also discovers that she has something very special about her that tends to attract the attention of vampires and shape shifters.  While this can be somewhat startling at times, it is also very exciting for her.  As she gets drawn into using her gifts to help discover who is murdering vampires, she suddenly realizes that she is a very hot item.  She also finds a link between the mystery of what happened to her mother, and a vampire mark that she received as a child.  Having become involved with the mystery has caused her life to become endangered. Fortunately, she has some newly found, attractive friends to help protect her.

I am a huge fan of vampire stories.  It all started with "Interview with a Vampire," by Anne Rice.  In college, I was thrilled to discover that "Dracula" was on my reading list for a course.  Lately, the market has been deluged with vampire tales.  While many are very good, some are beginning to give me that "run of the mill" kind of feeling.  When I began reading "Vampire Ascending," I was ecstatic to discover that I had gotten my hands on a truly extraordinary vampire tale.

The author, Lorelei Bell, incorporates other worldly creatures into her story. These include: shape shifters, werewolves, demons, and elves.  Because they are all a part of mainstream society, with their abilities hidden, this gives the novel a touch of credence that these characters could really be out there in our own reality. Now I know that this isn't really true; to me it helps add to the fantasy.  I can still hope that just maybe that gorgeous Native American male, with the long flowing hair, walking down the street is actually a shape shifter.  Thoughts like that help me make my mundane world more interesting, but, mind you, not interesting enough to require psychotropic meds. 

I think that Lorelei Bell has made a mark in the world of vampire novels with "Vampire Ascending."  Fans of this genre will be pleased to discover her work.  I cannot wait to see what she has in store for her characters in her next novel.

Read interview with author