Monday, January 16, 2017

The Wizard's Dog by Eric Kahn Gale

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

For fans of The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom comes an offbeat, comedic spin on the Excalibur legend told from the point of view of a talking dog who wants to be a magician! 
 
Meet Nosewise. He’s spunky. He’s curious. And he’s a dog who can’t understand why his pack mates Merlin and Morgana spend all day practicing magic tricks. If it’s a trick they want, he’s the dog to ask! He can already Sit!, Stay!, and Roll Over!
 
But there’s no way Nosewise is Staying when his master and best friend, Merlin, is kidnapped. There’s nothing Nosewise won’t do to get Merlin back, even if it means facing the strange Fae people and their magic-eating worms, or tangling with the mysterious Sword in the Stone. But it may take more than sniffing out a spell to do it!
 
Nosewise’s hilarious escapades and steadfast loyalty get him and his companions through King Arthur’s Dark Ages.

My thoughts-

I ran across this title as part of a trivia night table decor our local Friends of the Library puts on each year. This year, my club and I volunteered to decorate 10 book themed tables and one of those books was The Wizard's Dog. I hadn't heard of it prior and thought it sounded cute and thought why not check and see if it's on Netgalley and luckily it was! I thought it might be a good book from my 9 year old daughter to dive into, but I wanted to read it first to see if it was appropriate for her reading level. The book is perfect for her age group, a great middle grade fantasy book about a dog, who happens to be the Wizard Merlin's dog. Merlin's apprentice discovers a way for Nosewise to talk and that causes lots of interesting situations! I enjoyed that the book is from Nosewise's point of view and it adds some extra comedy to the narrative. There are definitely some scenes that will be giggle inducing to young children (it's about a dog, so there are lots of references to poop! haha), but it is also full of action and drama. The Wizard's Dog is a great pick for anyone who enjoys middle grade fantasy. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Juliet's Answer by Glenn Dixon (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley ine exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

I have had this book sitting on the back-burner for a little bit. I am not sure what was holding me back from reading it, other than having an overabundance of things to read lately, but Juliet's Answer is easily one of the best books I've read in some time. The book is about Glenn Dixon's time in Verona answering some of the letters that come in from all over the world addressed to Juliet, yes that Juliet. Dixon was also a high school English teacher and had a love dilemma of his own, so this book had a few stories within the main story. I especially enjoyed the stories the people Glenn Dixon in Verona told him about what they believe to be the true origins of the story of Romeo and Juliet (could these characters could have been based on real people?). If you enjoy travel or history or just enjoy a great memoir, you'll love Juliet's Answer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Lose Your Belly Diet by Travis Stork, M.D. (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley ine exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

We want to be healthy. We want to be lean. And we want to lose that annoying fat around our bellies!
We can achieve ALL of these goals with The Lose Your Belly Diet. Based on exciting new research about the dramatic benefits of vibrant gut health and a diverse gut microbiome, this plan nurtures your gut while helping you burn off excess weight and harmful belly fat.
This plan is built around a very clear, research-based concept: Eating food that nourishes and protects the microbes in your gut paves the way for weight loss, a slimmer middle, and better overall health.
It’s not just about weight loss. Having great gut health is linked to good health throughout your body. Scientists in this rapidly growing field are finding connections between gut microbes and the immune system, weight loss, gastrointestinal health, , allergies, asthma, and even cancer. With every study that’s published, scientists become more convinced that having a healthy gut leads to having a healthy body.
My thoughts-
Something I love about doctor Travis Stork is that he is great at breaking down medical jargon for the layman. His conversational tone make his books so easy to read and that is helpful when you are reading about your health and trying to do better for yourself. I like that in The Lose Your Belly Diet, Dr. Stork goes into detail about gut health and gut microbiome, sharing some insight into why so many people are obese, as well as what gut microbiomes have to do with overall health. It was an exciting book that I read in one setting. Best of all, the recipes shared at the end all sound delicious. I never like when books like this use the word  "diet" in the title, but if that gets some people to read this book than I will forgive it. This is not a "diet" as much as a healthier way of eating and learning more about your body so you can treat it better, I recommend this book to absolutely anyone who wants to take better care of their health, whether that is to lose weight, to tone up, or to just begin (or continue) on a better path to eating well. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for my hoenst thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

Holding Up the Universe is a story about Libby, who was once the fattest teen in America, weighing in at over 600 lbs and had to be fork-lifted out of her house. She's now dropped a lot of that weight, but people still can't seem to see past her body shape to see the girl inside. Still, she braves the worst crowd possible, high schoolers, to start a new school. The book is also about popular guy on campus Jack, who seems to have it all, but who in reality is overcompensating for a debilitating issues he has- he can not recognize faces, not even from his own family. These two meet under what are not the greatest circumstances and then we get to see both of their stories unfold.

Holding Up the Universe for me what a thought provoking novel. It made me have some a-ha moments about my own panic attacks and food issues. Who knew a young adult novel would dig that deep? And even deeper than that to teach us about prosopagnosia, something I had never heard of before I picked up this book, but something that I found profoundly interesting and caused me to have a lot of empathy for Jack. High school is tough for a lot of people, without these huge added issues that these two characters have. It is difficult to see some of the things the other kids say and do, but I think this is a great book for high school aged kids to read to open up a serious discussion about bullying, and about differences. As I read through this book, I thought several times, this will probably be one that ends up banned somewhere (or several somewheres) someday, sadly. I feel like the most compelling books are the ones that are fought against the most. I hope that this book, despite some of it's more controversial content, makes it's way into some high school English classrooms.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A List of Cages by Robin Roe (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he's got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn't easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can't complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian--the foster brother he hasn't seen in five years. Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He's still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what's really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives. First-time novelist Robin Roe relied on life experience when writing this exquisite, gripping story featuring two lionhearted characters.

My thoughts-

It has been a long time since I read a book that impacted me as much as A List of Cages. At the heart of it, is a strong bond between Adam, a popular boy who takes care of everyone around him and doesn't seem to have a care in the world, and a younger boy, who once was Adam's foster brother, Julian, who has the weight of the world on his shoulders. The book switches narratives between Adam and Julian. I appreciate this style of writing maybe more than any other kind because it gives us more than one perspective and I feel like that always makes for a stronger story. By the end of the novel, I almost felt physically ill at some of the things poor Julian endured, but at the heart of the novel is the friendship between these two unlikely friends. I can not believe this was a debut novel. The writing was stellar, I kept wanting more, the character development was on point and both of those things lead to big feelings to be felt by the reader. I will be on the look out for more from Ms. Roe. If her future novels are anything like A List of Cages, she should have a long, successful career as a novelist ahead of her! 

Monday, December 12, 2016

When Calls the Heart: Complete Season 3

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the box set of dvd's via Edify Media in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About When Calls the Heart-

When Calls the Heart is a television show on the Hallmark Channel based on the writings of Janette Oke that debuted on the Hallmark Channel to more than 3 million viewers, making it the #2 show for the night on all of cable for the primary telecast at 9 p.m and #3 overall in households. The show is about Elizabeth Thatcher, a young high society woman who is now working as a teacher on the western frontier.

My thoughts-

Season 3 has been a great season for When Calls the Heart. The show is all so full of drama, romance, and laughs. I love watching it with my family! It is a rare show on tv these days that is completely appropriate for children that you don't have to watch on edge and worry about needing to turn the channel for any reason. I love that it shows romance in a sweet way. I think that is an important part of the show. When Calls the Heart: Complete Season 3 has all 10 full length episodes full of all but the real reason to get this dvd set is for the special features. There are 3 discs just devoted to special features, including a fun trivia game for Hearties, a slide show and "Hearties Family Reunion". Season 3 brought us two of my favorite moments, Lee and Rosemary's nupitals and Elizabeth meeting Jack's mom! You can purchase your copy on Amazon.com and catch up in time to see the When Calls the Heart Christmas Special, airing Christmas Day, only Hallmark Channel. 


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Puppy Pals: Bijou by Susan Hughes (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

The newest adventure in the pawsitively adorable Puppy Pals series!

When three bichon frise puppies are left on the doorstep of Tails Up!, Aunt Jenn asks Kat, Maya, and Grace to look after them and find them new homes. Best of all, they get to choose names for the pups! They pick three French names: Aimée, Chantal, and Bijou.

Calls begin to come in from people interested in adopting the puppies, and Aimée and Chantal are soon placed in loving homes, but Kat worries that nobody will see the playful side of Bijou, the shy puppy. Even worse, Grace is being teased at schoolagain. Can Bijou help end Grace’s conflict and find himself a new home?


My thoughts-

The Puppy Pals series are popular among my third grade daughter's classroom. They love these books, each about a different puppy or two. This was the series that got her out of her "I only read Junie B. Jones" phase, so I am thankful that they allowed her to branch out and try something new. The Puppy Pals books are always cute books, easy to read, but there is usually a lesson in there somewhere. In "Bijou" the lesson is that what you see on the surface with someone isn't always the whole story. I think that is a great lesson for the age group that likes these books and I love how sweet the story about these three puppies that need to be adopted, including sweet, but lonely Bijou, just add to that lesson. I recommend this book for children ages 7-10. Puppy Pals: Bijou will be available February 7, 2017. You can pre-order your copy on Amazon.com.