Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Survivor's Story Of A Horrible Event

A Story Of Joining the Mount Carmel Compound In Waco, Texas

And Surviving The Attack

The author, David Thibodeau, is one of the few survivors of the raid in Waco, Texas, on April 19, 1993.Thibodeau shares his story of why he joined the community led by David Koresh and what went on inside the compound. Some things good, some extremely objectionable. I felt the author gave a very fair view of both sides. His last chapter in the book addresses things from both sides that might have made a big difference in the outcome of the attack.

Cons: None

Pros:  My rating of this book has nothing to do with what I think of the Davidian teachings, it is solely on this book. The book gave me a better view of what happened in and outside of Waco during that time period. Though non-fiction rarely finds its way to the top of my books to read, I'm glad this book made it there since I didn't follow the happenings at Waco too much at the time of the raid.

This is a quote by Rob Cline, a correspondent for the Gazette, January 8, 2018, that sums it up:
Waco: A Survivor’s Story is a fascinating look at a community that was brutally (and needlessly) destroyed for the sins — both real and imagined — of its leader.”

I would rate this book four stars.

Author: David Thibodeau /  (Author), Leon Whiteson (Author), Aviva Layton
Published by   Hachette Books (January 2, 2018)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Fast Paced Legal Drama That Will Keep You Guessing!

- A Court Room Drama That Will Keep You Flipping the Pages -


Available May 1, 2018
Edward Hall is a lawyer who was recently released from prison after 3 years. He has no intention of returning to his attorney days, but he gets a call from his sister, Amy, who is a pediatric doctor. She has been to visit her husband, of which she is currently separated, found him shot and bleeding, rushed to perform CPR then called 911. She called Edward from jail, pleading with him to help her since she seems to be the number one suspect. Edward is torn regarding representing her for various reasons, some of which are only shared as the book progresses.

Cons: Though I don’t know a lot regarding legal issues, a couple places made me wonder a bit.

Pros: I am a fan of mysteries and top of my list are legal mysteries, so I was very excited to be allowed to read this advance review copy from NetGalley and Severn House. This book started with a bang and kept me turning pages, just the way I like mysteries. The writing is good, the characters are well developed, and the story has creative twists. This is the first book I’ve read by author Jay Brandon, but I will definitely be reading more. I'm slow to give 5 stars to a book, but this rates 5.

Author: Jay Brandon
Published by  Severn House Digital; First World Publication edition (May 1, 2018)

Friday, March 16, 2018

An Easter Picture Book That Will Make You Smile!

Otter Loves Easter! by Sam Garton

- Oops! Otter Might Have Made An EasteMistake? -


Easter morning Otter wakes excited to find various things next to her bed: 1 bag of jelly beans, 4 medium-size eggs, 1 gold bunny, 1 pair of bunny ears, and more. She races into Otter Keeper to share what she's found. But when Otter Keeper says she should share her eggs with friends, she quickly regrets telling him about her treats left by the bunny. Reluctantly she gives one egg to Giraffe, but has to snatch it back because it's HERS!  By breakfast, Otter's feeling a little sick from eating candy and not sharing, however after a nap, she is feeling better. Almost. Otter remembers that she’s not shared treats and ended up ruining Easter for her friends. (If you’re not familiar with the series Otter's friends, unlike her, are stuffed animals.) So she puts on the Easter ears that she received and asks Otter Keeper to help her save Easter. But will it be that easy?

Cons: *Spoiler Alert*  Otter tries to save Easter by making Easter eggs and hiding them for friends to find. . . she helps her friends find the eggs since of course they are stuffed animals. (Kids will love looking for the hidden eggs.) We then see Otter proudly taking her friend's pictures with the eggs they now have. Here's what may bother some:  to say thank you to Otter, her friends all do something very kind, they give their eggs to her.

Pros: Regarding above: I tend to look at this as Otter not wanting more eggs for herself, but that she cares enough about not doing the right thing, sharing, that she tries to make her wrong, right. With her stuffed animal friends that can’t eat the eggs, the story shows the animals doing a kind act, giving the eggs back to Otter. Especially, if the reader talks to children about Otter’s motives to do something for her friends, I don’t see the above, under Cons, being a problem at all.

As with all the Sam Garton books I’ve read, I love the illustrations and small moral interwoven.
Author/Illustrator: Sam Garton

Published by Balzer & Bray, 2017

Click HERE for Easter Activities.

If you like this post, please share on social media or with your friends.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Thriller That Will Keep You Turning Pages

- Be Prepared To Stay Up Late Reading -


David Joseph's wife is instantly killed when her car suddenly veers off the road. To make matters worse, their six-year-old daughter who is strapped in the backseat disappears from the accident.

Fast forward 6 years. David is married to his second wife, Emma, they have a very young son and appear to be living a quiet, happy life. But when the unexpected happens David and Emma’s serene life starts to spiral causing Emma to question things she’s always thought to be true. In desperation, Emma reaches out to Tom Douglas, an old friend and Chief Inspector of Police. Soon, the shocking truth starts to come to light.

Cons: None

Pros: Tension runs high through this book, and it starts very early, which is just the way I like it. I have to admit this is the first Rachel Abbott book I’ve read, but I've since learned that Tom Douglas is in her series of books, this being the fourth. It's a stand-alone book, but I would recommend starting with the first book. I do see there is a novella after this book with a continuation, but I don't think you'll have to read it, it will be more a matter if you want a little more closure.

Author:  Rachel Abbott

Publisher:  Black Dot Publishing, 2015

Saturday, March 3, 2018


Historical Fiction

 - A Story That Will Keep You Turning The Pages -


Franka Gerber remembers the years before the rise of Hitler. The Gerber family enjoyed life like most families: love and laughter. But now she has only memories of most of her family, if not lost to cancer then death by war. She has returned to the family’s summer cottage in the Black Forest, feeling alone and hopeless. Even anxious for death. That is until she discovers an unconscious airman lying in the snow wearing a Luftwaffe uniform, his parachute surrounding him. Her nurse instinct takes over, unwilling to let him die. But she has reason to believe he may not be who he seems to be, so the mystery begins to unravel. Can they trust each other?

This is labeled as historical fiction but also feels very much like a thriller that's hard to put down. The history is gently woven into the story.

Cons:  This is a very small “con” but I do wish the ending wouldn't have been quite so abrupt, however it didn’t ruin the story at all.

Pros:  I’ve never been extremely fond of historical stories, but this was extraordinarily well done. The book was so exciting that I actually wanted to hear more about the things the characters were experiencing and what was going on in the background during World War 11. I highly recommend it.

Author: Eoin Dempsey 

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (March 1, 2018)

(If you're an Amazon Prime Member this is one of the free books available to you in March.)

Friday, March 2, 2018

THELMA THE UNICORN by Aaron Blabey / Humor, Friendship, Adventure


Otis, Thelma's best friend, is aware that Thelma isn’t happy being an ordinary pony, she desperately wants to be a special unicorn. Otis tells her that she’s perfect as she is, but it doesn't change her desire to be a unicorn. When she finds a carrot she decides to tie it to her head and make her dream come true. A trucker comes by and swerves when he sees Thelma, who looks a bit like a unicorn. Pink paint and glitter splash off the truck and cover Thelma. And so this ordinary pony becomes a beautiful pink and glittery unicorn. Exactly what Thelma dreamed of. With her special new look, she immediately becomes a special star. Across the world, her fans cheer her name. Her special dreams have come true, or have they?

Cons: None

Pros:  While this may not be a truly original story, the idea of a pink, glittery unicorn in this story will definitely appeal to kids. The illustrations are detailed and add tremendously to an already cute story. Thelma The Unicorn is humorous but also teaches a lesson to be happy with who you are.

Author/Illustrator: Aaron Blabey
Publisher:  Scholastic Press,  2017
  • Approx Words: 402
  • Ages: 3 - 5
  • Pages: 32
Illustrations: The artwork is acrylic (with pens and pencils) on watercolor paper.

More Reviews 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

5 Picture Books About Saying You're Sorry And Asking For Forgiveness

 - It's Not Always Easy To Admit You've Done Something Wrong -

- But Asking For Forgiveness Can Sometimes Be Even Harder -

Saying you're sorry and asking for forgiveness can be very difficult regardless of your age. But the longer a person goes without practicing this behavior, the harder it will become. The picture books I have listed below teach this very thing, but some have more than just that one lesson to be learned. In all books, the messages are subtle and not didactic. They can be wonderful resources for adults.

"Love Is My Favorite Thing," says Plum, the doggy who is always happy to be called Plummie. Plum loves just about everything: wind, snow, sun, treats, and sticks. However, love itself is her all-time favorite thing! But one morning, everything goes wrong.
Levi knows not to tell a lie, but his lies are just itty bitty lies to make his life a little more comfortable. At least at the time, it feels better. But many people are beginning to suspect his itty bitty lies are becoming more and more a part of Levi’s life.
Molly & Mae discover each other as they wait for a train to arrive. They form a quick friendship and begin to share secrets, take photographs in a booth, and play together until the train arrives. But then, like many friendships, Molly tells Mae she is being silly and Mae says she is tired of being bossed around. Will they be able to mend their relationship before the train reaches its destination?
Mole and Squirrel, two best friends, set out to find a perfect place for a perfect picnic. “This is a very pretty meadow,” said Mole. “Yes, but it’s not perfect,” said Squirrel. “We need more shade.” They continue to search and search. But when Squirrel finally finds what is perfect for him, Mole discovers they may have a problem to deal with. A big problem.
Rainbow Fish and his friends decide to play hide-and-seek. When Rainbow Fish is asked by his new friend, Red Fin, to be “it” he readily agrees, since he’s fairly sure of all the hiding places. But, for some reason, he can’t find any of the fish. Will he end up playing fair, or making a poor choice?

Teaching a child to say he's sorry and ask for forgiveness will pay off, even if at times it's a tough thing to carry out.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Sleep Tight, Charlie - A Picture Book That I Totally Recommend

After A Busy Day, Charlie Just Wants To Go To Sleep

This Book Definitely Made It To My List Of Favorites 

Like many of us, Charlie has a set routine when getting ready for bed. Among other things, he has to place a glass of water on his bedside table, put slippers on the rug, and hug his teddy bear. With his nightly routine completed Charlie falls asleep, but abruptly wakes when he hears a loud tap, Tap, TAP.  So he patiently investigates and finds Bird outside hammering on trees with a hammer, no less. Charlie says, “Pardon me, Bird, do you know what time it is?” Wouldn’t you know it? There's a clock on a neighboring tree. Bird lets Charlie know that he thought he was alone outside but flies away. This same problem happens over and over to Charlie. As he tries to sleep, it never fails that he wakes to loud noises. But what seems a bit repetitive has humor involved throughout.

Cons:  None

Pros:  Very cute story that would make a wonderful read-aloud for classrooms. The illustrations call for a close look or you might miss lots of the humor.

Author: Michael Escoffier
Illustrator: Kris Di Giacomo
Publisher:  Princeton Architectural Press (September 5, 2017

6 Links To Help Find What You're Passionate About

What Are You Passionate About?

Reading? Writing? Arithmetic?

While some know what their passions are early in life, I took a bit longer to discover all of mine. However, I discovered early on that I'd rule out arithmetic and look for a mate to balance my checkbook. I also found that I'd choose reading over TV any day. But, surprisingly I was in my twenties before I discovered my love for writing. 

I thought it might be fun to list a few articles and even a test or two to identify your passions. And if it's writing how can you develop that passion?

If Your Passion Is Writing

In my experience writing and reading are passions I just can't stay away from. But I've learned writing can be in various forms. I love writing this blog and recently I have started a picture book review site: Picture Book Sleuth

Even the creative adventure of tackling different avenues of writing can be fun, like learning to set up a website. (You might add challenging and frustrating also, but it's been a few months and my memory is fading.) I think most of us immediately think of writing a book. But there are many other forms of writing. 

Have You Located Your Passions?

Mine keep growing and branching out in ways I'd never considered. And I'm finding that any creative endeavor needs to be from your heart. If you believe in what you have created, grow a thick skin and try not to let other opinions top yours. But at the same time listen, be open to change, and make up YOUR mind.

Back To Work Now:

Have a Very Creative Day!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

ish by Peter H. Reynolds A Story For Both Kids and Adults

 - A Lesson For All Creative People -

Ramon loves to draw. You could say it’s his passion since he does it anytime and just about everywhere. But one day Ramon’s big brother looks at one of the drawings and bursts out laughing. “WHAT is THAT?” he asks. Ramon’s confidence begins to seep out of him. Will he ever discover that passion again? Losing confidence can open the door to doubt and other things that can make that door hard to close.

Cons:  None

Pros: Simple, beautiful story that both kids and adults will be able to relate to. The illustrations are just right for this book: done in watercolor, ink, and tea.

Author/ Illustrator:   Peter H. Reynolds
Publisher:  Candlewick Press, 2004
  • Approx Words: 336
  • Ages: according to the publisher / 0 and up
  • Pages: 32
Classroom Ideas

For more reviews go to Picture Book Sleuth