Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Blog Tour: The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes

Standalone. Little A (July 2016) TLC Book Tours
Fourteen-year-old March Wong knows everything there is to know about trees. They are his passion and his obsession, even after his recent falls—and despite the state’s threat to take him away from his mother if she can’t keep him from getting hurt. But the young autistic boy cannot resist the captivating pull of the Pacific Northwest’s lush forests just outside his back door.

One day, March is devastated to learn that the Eagle Tree—a monolithic Ponderosa Pine near his home in Olympia—is slated to be cut down by developers. Now, he will do anything in his power to save this beloved tree, including enlisting unlikely support from relatives, classmates, and even his bitter neighbor. In taking a stand, March will come face-to-face with some frightening possibilities: Even if he manages to save the Eagle Tree, is he risking himself and his mother to do it?

Intertwining themes of humanity and ecology, The Eagle Tree eloquently explores what it means part of a family, a society, and the natural world that surrounds and connects us.


Peter, who goes by his middle name March, Wong absolutely loves trees. He knows everything about them - their latin names, how to identify them, their importance to the ecosystem and much, much more. March also loves to climb trees. He climbs at least three trees a day. It's his love of trees that gets him to trouble but makes him stand out. 

March doesn't have that many people he trusts or even talks to. He has his mother who is feeling overwhelmed and is facing the potential of him leaving her custody. He has his Uncle who indulges his love of climbing trees. He has Ilsa who he likes despite her being a minister who believes in God when he doesn't. And he has Pierre who is a professor who understands and teaches him things about trees. He also has his dad... but his dad left to Arizona. He misses his father but he doesn't want to go to Arizona which his mother keeps warning him about. Where his mother wants to take him in Arizona there are no trees and the idea of not climbing trees is abhorrent to March.

March, who loves trees and knows so much about them is unique in one other way, he's autistic. So he will get very loud and flap his arms when he is distressed. He is supposed to learn to give himself checks so he can control his emotions. He has a lot of rules of what he is not supposed to do which  includes something he believes he must do once he sees it the first time - climb the Eagle Tree. But he may not get to do that because the tree is on private property and the owner wants to cut down the tree. March makes a plan to save the tree and then finally climb it. He'll need the people closest to him, some new friends, and his knowledge of trees to save the Eagle Tree.


I once knew a little boy in a classroom. I didn't realize there was anything different about him until he was pointed out. Then I could tell and I noticed how his speaking voice was loud and he never really could do what he was told. It's interesting that I would read The Eagle Tree after my experience with the little boy because I don't think I ever would have cared or understood or want to understand about March like I did when I read his story. I've always liked that books can do that - connect with your real life and what someone typed on some pages. Also, it can help you gain more perspective on someone's own perspective on life. Seeing life through March's eyes felt eye-opening to me because I felt like I knew a little more about that little boy I met in a classroom. 

March's knowledge of trees was so vast. Everything had to be logical for him, true, which was why I wasn't surprised he didn't believe in God. A lot of logical people I've met have felt the same because according to him he can believe in trees because "I can touch them. And they have true names, They change only slowly over the course of years, and they do not change in terms of what they say to me." I thought it was interesting to see that religion slightly played a role in this book. And in the end, trees are so important which March tries to communicate so much. Trees are life. Without trees, we couldn't live. 

"I suddenly felt that I like Ilsa very much, even though I do not believe in God. I felt like standing up and shouting out to Ilsa that she was right. But I tried hard and I resisted the urge to stand up and shout. She was telling people to look at trees. We should all look at trees. All the time."

March's love of trees and his want to climb a particular tree led him without really knowing it to improve his life for the better. He got to meet people who cared about trees. There was one instance that gave me so much joy when he met someone that he could talk to about trees his own age and they could, in turn, talk about something they had great knowledge of. Even if a lot of the information about trees that March gave went over my head, I was still able to decipher the meaning behind what he wanted and needed to communicate. 

I really enjoyed the talk about trees. It's made me worried about how we've all gone away from nature. It worries me that we are destroying everything and one day there will no trees left so thanks for that March! The Eagle Tree also made me see life through a new perspective which I always enjoy when it comes to books. Even though the author scared me half to death a couple of times when it came to March, I loved his writing. It was perfect for telling March and the Eagle Tree's story.


About the Author
Ned Hayes holds an MFA in creative writing from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. His historical novel, Sinful Folk, was nominated for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award.

The Eagle Tree is based on his past experience working with children on the autistic spectrum and on family and friends he knows and loves. He lives with his wife and children in Olympia, Washington.

More about Ned Hayes can be found at NedNote.com. Connect with him on Twitter.

Thanks to Little A, Ned Hayes, and TLC Book Tours for providing me with The Eagle Tree in exchange for an honest review!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Mini Reviews: Fancy Nancy, Mia, and Cake Soup


I'm reading so many books lately, especially picture books so I'd thought I'd review a whole bunch in one go.

Nancy will have to do some fancy footwork to resolve her predicament in this latest Fancy Nancy story for beginning readers. Much to her dismay, Nancy has been chosen for the relay team in this year's Field Day at school. Despite her many natural talents, Nancy isn't much of a runner. She's afraid of letting her team down—especially after finding out that an unkind (that's another word for mean) girl in her class is on the team too. With a little help from her dad, Nancy tries her best, stands up for herself, and makes a new friend.

             

It was lucky for me when I found a sort of chapter book version of Fancy Nancy. Perfect for first graders and me of course. Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl emphasized how you need to stand up for yourself instead of letting someone make you feel like you are less.

I forgot how much Nancy is into vocabulary so I got a surprise with all of her "fancy" new words. The plot was one that anyone can relate too although, I don't like the idea that Nancy gave up when she practiced running all week and found no improvement. That kind of sent the opposite message. Besides, that she dealt with very real situations and reacted how any kid would. The illustrations are fun and girly and I'd love to draw some of them. I plan on reading many more Fancy Nancy books in the future.



Nancy has her act for the school's talent show all planned out: She and Bree will do an absolutely stupendous song-and-dance number together. But when Ms. Glass assigns partners for the show, Nancy gets paired up with Lionel. He's the shyest boy in class! Will Nancy and Lionel be able to work together to perform one marvelous act? Or will the show go on without them?

                            



Here I am again reading another Fancy Nancy so soon! I couldn't resist. Although, I think the vocabulary is hard for a child to grasp/remember throughout the story, I enjoyed all the new fancy words in Nancy's new adventure. This was more adorable than I could imagine especially when Nancy's partner Lionel revealed that he loved lions (I love the play on words). His whole bedroom was just filled with them to my surprise. It really just made me want to figure how to make some cool masks. The story was sweet as ever, the art lovely, and the message clear: everyone has something special about them. 


On her first day at dance class, Mia can't wait to put on her bouncy pink tutu. There's only one problem: her tutu is too-too big It falls down and Mia falls over it with every step. But just as Mia starts to get upset, she meets Ruby--and Mia realizes that no setback is too hard to handle with a good friend by your side.

                  




I was never a ballerina and really never inspired to be one either but I thought why not when I saw Mia in her tutu. Mia has a problem - she packed the wrong tutu! Her friend Ruby also has a shared problem - they both can't help tripping everywhere. What are they going to do when they are asked to dance in front of the whole class?

This was lovely to read especially with girls (boys too if they love dance). There is something about ballerina's that little girls seem to love. The writing in Mia's story was simple but not too simple for a child that already knows how to read some. The artwork and style of the story were really cute especially with all those animal dancers in tutus. This was a nice, cute story that had the main characters tossing caution to the win because who cares about tripping when you are trying to have fun?


Mia is excited to learn a new dance with her best friend, Ruby. But on the day of class, Ruby isn’t feeling well and Mia must find another partner. At first Mia is afraid she won’t have anyone to dance with, but soon Mia finds herself with not one, but two partners! Making sure no one is left out, Mia finds a solution that will work for everyone.

                             



Mia has come into my arms again! This time around Ruby is nowhere to be found. She's home sick in bed and Mia is feeling left out since she's supposed to dance with a partner. Then Bella and Ali ask her if she wants to be her partner. That's one too many partners! (Do you sense a theme?) What will Mia decide to do?

This felt not as long as Mia and the Big Tutu. It really could have had more but I like the general idea that you shouldn't leave anyone out because you wouldn't feel good if you were left out. Empathy is a trait that a lot of people need to learn so it's nice to see it portrayed in a book for young readers.


It's Lowly Worm's birthday-and Huckle Cat and all his friends are throwing Lowly a surprise party. But when Huckle and Bridget try to make a cake, their special recipe turns into . . .cake soup! But no kitchen disaster can stop this crew from celebrating.

                  






I think I've only read one Richard Scarry story growing up. It was in this treasury with different authors. Last time I remember reading it, it was falling apart. I at least was able to recognize some familiar faces but only Lowly's name was mentioned from the pool of characters I remembered. Cake Soup is all about a group of friends trying and failing to bake a cake for Lowly's birthday party but succeeding in making one spectacularly, peculiar looking cake soup (I am honestly surprised they enjoyed it in the end).

The artwork was very animated and over the top which I enjoyed. It really made me say, "Oh, No!" like in the story because everything that could go wrong did. The writing has predictable sentences which I was glad to come across. It was the perfect book I needed and it happily sent me down memory lane.

My Faire Lady by Laura Wettersten

Standalone. Simon and Schuster (June 2015) Own
Rowena Duncan is a thoroughly modern girl with big plans for her summer—working at the mall with her best friends, taking trips to the Cape, date nights on the beach—until she catches her boyfriend making out with another girl. Heartbroken, she applies to an out-of-town job posting and finds herself somewhere she never expected: the Renaissance Faire.

As a face-painter doubling as a serving wench, Ro is thrown headfirst into a vibrant community of artists and performers. She feels like a fish out of water until Will, a quick-witted whip cracker, takes her under his wing. Then there’s Christian, a blue-eyed stunt jouster who makes Ro weak in the knees. Soon, it’s not just her gown that’s tripping her up.

Trading in the Internet and electricity for stars and campfires was supposed to make life simpler, but Ro is finding that love is the ultimate complication. Can she let the past make way for her future?


Rowena (like Rowena Ravenclaw) is moping around all day after her now ex-boyfriend was caught cheating on her. She can't face a whole summer working at the mall where everyone in her small town goes to. Not admitting that she's running away from her troubles, Ro convinces her college obsessed parents to let her work and stay at a renaissance fair. Ro gets a job as a face painter and serving wench. Her goal this summer is to get distracted by Christian the knight and working on her art even if her parents don't take it seriously. Then she makes all these friends that make her face the real problems in her life.

I picked up My Faire Lady, because it reminded me of a favorite read of mine - Past Perfect. It has that contemporary feel good story thing going on that I always fall in love with. I didn't completely fall for My Faire Lady, but it gave me the feel good feeling I was looking for.

First of all the setting is the best. I wish there was a renaissance fair near me. Second Will made this story above and beyond worth it. I always looked forward to Ro and Will's banter. Will was always a kind, sweet, and funny friend. His specialty a the fair is also pretty amazing and unexpected. Suze was another great friend for Ro. She has a warm spirit and was always there for Ro.

The atmosphere, friendships, and Ro herself made this story delightful to read. I do wish Ro wasn't so hung up on someone she hardly spoke to. The romance could have really been much better too. I thought there were unnecessary bits there. The story wrapped up a little too easily but I still wish there was a sequel. I really want to know what happens next! All in all My Faire Lady was a fun, lighthearted read with great characters and a setting that you just may want to visit.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Library Loot #2


Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire fromThe Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.


I got a ton of manga this week. I happened to be searching for books late at night at my library's website like I do. I saw that not only were there suddenly a bunch of Tokyo Ghoul books but Noragami books too. 6 Tokyo Ghoul and 13 Noragami books. I gasped with pure delight and ordered a whole bunch. I also gasped and dropped everything as I was searching for books and saw Switch which is the last book in the Savvy series. I wanted to reread the Sea of Tranquility so I can write an accurate review because I died of happiness while I read it. Then, I know everyone has been reading Saint Anything so I impulsed borrowed it.



What books have you gotten from the library lately?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Mini Review: That's Not Hay in my Hair by Juliette Turner

Standalone. Zonderkidz (March 2016) NetGalley
New York City life had crammed sidewalks, gasoline-filled puddles, and angry taxi drivers, but Juliette enjoyed the towering sky-scrapers, the half-block walk to school, and the restaurant smells wafting into her bedroom. She had never cared for a horse, let alone a long-horn, when her mother announced their imminent move to a 300 acre ranch in Texas, where they would be caring for three horses, five dogs, twenty-five longhorns, and a cat … all by themselves.

Juliette couldn’t help feeling excited, even though she’d have to climb a hill to get a bar of cell-phone service. Soon she was running from bats and snakes, rescuing a calf from a twenty-foot ditch, medicating ponies, and having adventures so crazy it’s hard to believe they’re for real—but it all happened exactly how it’s written.

Get ready for side-splitting laughs, heart-wrenching tears, and surprising life lessons learned down on the farm and shared by fourteen-year-old Juliette Turner.


Juliette lives with her mom in a tiny apartment in New York City one day and the next she's moving cross country to a 300-acre ranch in Texas. Her life to change into wrangling longhorns, trying to steer clear of snakes, and riding horses. It'll be one fun but chaotic life.


Juliette or Jules was an alright character in a story that made no sense to me. The story was nice in that it was a mother-daughter team taking care of a bunch of animals but that's really it. The event all jumbled together so the from the start of the story it was off for me. The story arc about Jules and a class bully also went nowhere. I don't know but this was just not what I expected. Either way, I would have liked a more cohesive story.

Thanks to NetGalley and Zonderkidz for providing me That's Not Hay in my Hair in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Scarlet #1. Walker Childrens (Feb. 2012) Own
Will Scarlet is good at two things: stealing from the rich and keeping secrets - skills that are in high demand in Robin Hood's band of thieves, who protect the people of Nottingham from the evil sheriff. Scarlet's biggest secret of all is one only Robin and his men know...that she is posing as a thief; that the slip of a boy who is fast with sharp knives is really a girl.

The terrible events in her past that led Scarlet to hide her real identity are in danger of being exposed when the thief taker Lord Gisbourne arrives in town to rid Nottingham of the Hood and his men once and for all. As Gisbourne closes in a put innocent lives at risk, Scarlet must decide how much the people of Nottingham mean to her, especially John Little, a flirtatious fellow outlaw, and Robin, whose quick smiles have the rare power to unsettle her. There is real honor among these thieves and so much more - making this a fight worth dying for.

Robin Hood is known for being this dashing, charming rogue who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. He's the most lovable thief in history - at least I think so. So what could be better than a Robin Hood retelling? A Robin Hood retelling with a twist. Will Scarlet is our main character - Robin's best friend. And Will is actually just Scarlet - a knife-wielding thief who just happen's to be a girl in disguise.

“I know what it's like when you can't get no one to listen to you. When what you say don't matter. I half think every girl knows what it's like to be silenced.” 

Scarlet is independent, moody, withdrawn, has trust issues, and cares about those around her suffering to a fault. She is basically all you can hope for in a noble thief. Her guard is always up around Robin, Little John, and Much. She doesn't want to get too close. Scarlet's past is clouded in mystery and it still affects her decisions today.

The people of Nottingham are suffering. Robin and his band are trying their hardest to save them from hunger and danger when they can't pay their taxes. A new person other than the sheriff shows up to shake things up. Someone from Scarlet's past who can't know who she really is.

“I do what I do because I will always believe that no matter how awful life gets for however many of these people, there is something I can do about it. There is something I will do about it.” 

After getting used to the strange way Scarlet talks, I easily got into the world where thieves are the good guys. Scarlet's personality and her constantly trying to prove herself made me love her. I really liked all the characters. Little John was a flirt who used his fists as weapons. Much is the underdog who has a few tricks up his sleeve. Robin is the brave leader that he's known for. The adventure and danger these four get into was always high risk and fun to read. It's what I hoped for and more. The only thing that bothered me was the focus on the romance. If you knew me then that sentence would be laughable. There was a love triangle that did not add to the story. I really wish it was just one pair of people being all angsty because the three of them didn't make sense. Overall I did enjoy the story and I'm happy with all the adventure, action, peril, and friendships made. I'm sure the next book is going to be even better.

Book Beginnings #1: Switch by Ingrid Law

Stock Photo

Book Beginnings is hosted @ Rose City Reader. The goal is "to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires."  - Rose City Reader


Ingrid Law delivers another heartwarming story about the magic of friendship and the power of family in this companion to her Newbery Honor winning Savvy.

Gypsy Beaumont has always been a whirly-twirly free spirit, so as her thirteenth birthday approaches, she hopes to get a magical ability that will let her fly, or dance up to the stars. Instead, she wakes up on her birthday with blurry vision . . . and starts seeing flashes of the future and past. But when Momma and Poppa announce that her very un-magical, downright mean Grandma Pat has Alzheimer’s and is going to move in with them, Gypsy’s savvy—along with her family’s—suddenly becomes its opposite. Now it’s savvy mayhem as Gypsy starts freezing time, and no one could have predicted what would happen on their trip to bring Grandma Pat home  . . . not even Gypsy.

 With her trademark style and whimsical, beautiful language, Ingrid Law has written another wonderfully moving companion to her Newbery Honor winning Savvy.

"PLEASE, MRS. FOSTER - I'VE SEEN your future, and you really don't want to buy this soap. "Gypsy Beaumont! Stop making a scene and let go." Switch by Ingrid Law

Gypsy's power is either seeing into the future or she really wants this soap. I don't remember her much from the first story, Savvy. She must have been a baby since it's been like twelve years since Mib got her power. I love her name and the potential that she can be a bit of a rebel. (Now looking at the synopsis it looks like I'm right about her seeing the future).

Have you read any of the Savvy books? 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Magical World of Foodie Books

Source

Chocolate, cupcakes, strawberries, and whip cream. All of which can make my mouth water when I read about them in books. There are so many great books out there with or without recipes that showcase delicious imagery of mostly baked goods. Since I've been on such a foodie bender with cooking shows I thought I would find some scrumptious books and quotes that we can all drool over.



Delicious Quotes



"HOLDING THE WHISK TIGHTLY, I swirled the pale-yellow batter around the bowl, the sweet scents of vanilla, brown sugar, and bitter dark chocolate perfuming the air. Even though it was a cool autumn morning, the heat from the oven made the kitchen feel toasty warm."
 "The earthy, slightly spicy, taste of the lavender mixed with hints of lemon and honey. The cupcake melted in my mouth the way Mom’s pineapple upside down cake used to do. The cupcake’s lavender flavor, melding with Rayne’s honey, took me back."





"Walking through town with Trip, I thought about how easily he had folded me into his group. Sometimes when Didi makes peanut butter cookies, she'll get all cranky trying to blend the peanut butter in the sugar, eggs, and butter. See, the peanut butter always stays in a big clump and the eggs are all slimy and you have to really work at it before everything gets nice and smooth. But the way Trip pulled me into his buttery, sugary life, you'd never know when I was peanut butter in the first place."




“It takes forty muscles to frown, and only twelve to jam a cupcake in your mouth and get over it.” 


“I've never met a problem a proper cupcake couldn't fix.” 



Delicious Stories



Other than the three quote worthy books above, here are some other foodie books I've read that you might enjoy:

Meet Your Baker: A mystery centered around a baker in her family bakery called Torte. If you like small towns, recipes at the end of your book, and cozy mysteries you might just like Meet Your Baker.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A really odd book with a main character with an unusual power to taste the emotions of the person who made what she's eating.

The Cupcake Queen: Small town, enemies, friends, a cute boy, and a cupcake shop all rolled into one.


Cake: Love, chickens, and a taste of peculiar: A girl moving from foster to foster home settles down in a place where magic is real and in the form of desserts!

The Savages: A very descriptive take on eating something very different from desserts... this family has a hunger for flesh.

The Orchard: One taste of an apple and a perfume maker finds her way into a romance. More romance than food book but who's complaining?


It's Raining Cupcakes: A moody mother, an independent daughter, a cupcake shop, and a baking contest are all in store for you in It's Raining Cupcakes.

Pie: A deceased aunt who's pie recipes are famous and a niece who's on a search to find them.

Relish: A journey into a writer's relationship with life and food.


Will Devour Later


Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: Seems like not too complicated vegan cupcake recipes. 

The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids: Looks like a very vibrant cookbook with simple recipes even if it's marketed to kids.


Little Beach Street Bakery: really only want to read because of the cover and the words beach and bakery. 

All Four Stars: Love the idea of a kid food critic and gourmet chef.

A Batter of Life and Death: The sequel to Meet Your Baker!


Fresh Delicious: Vibrant colors and poems to make kids (and adults) want to eat healthy food from nature.

The Ugly Dumpling: Look like a cute retelling with pretty illustrations.

What are some delicious books you've read?