940 Saturdays

940 Saturdays, Family Activities & a Keepsake Journal by Harley A. Rotbart

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well….this wasn’t really what I expected it to be. It is mostly space for you to write about the Saturday adventures of your family. Although it is unique in the way it is set up, with a small booklet of recommended family activities, it is not really much different than any other journal one could buy and fill in with the events of family life.

It is a well made journal and some of the activities seem very original and would be fun, but overall, I didn’t see that it was anything particularly unique.

If you are looking for a place to record events that your family has taken part in for later use of your children, this would be a fun way to go. That is a lot of Saturdays to make something of!

This review is based on a complimentary copy courtesy of the blogging for books program. All opinions are my own. No other compensation was received.

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Alistair Grim’s Odditorium

Alistair Grim's Odditorium (Odditorium, #1)Alistair Grim’s Odditorium by Gregory Funaro

This cinematic, action-packed middle grade fantasy adventure set in Victorian London brims with fresh magic and has the cozy feeling of a classic.

Grubb, age twelve (or thereabouts), has never known anything beyond his miserable existence as a chimney sweep, paid only in insults and abuse by his cruel master.

All of that changes the day he stows away in the coach belonging to a mysterious guest at the inn that he is tasked with cleaning. Grubb emerges from Alistair Grim’s trunk and into the wondrous world of the Odditorium. Fueled by a glowing blue energy that Grubb can only begin to understand, the Odditorium is home to countless enchanted objects and an eccentric crew that embraces Grubb as one of their own.

There’s no time for Grubb to settle into his new role as apprentice to the strange, secretive Mr. Grim. When the Odditorium comes under attack, Grubb is whisked off on a perilous adventure. Only he can prevent the Odditorium’s magic from falling into evil hands-and his new family from suffering a terrible fate.

Grubb knows he’s no hero. He’s just a chimney sweep. But armed with only his courage and wits, Grubb will confront the life-or-death battle he alone is destined to fight.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book, and my kids thought it was fantastic–which makes me love it even more. If you can get an eight and nine year old to pay attention to anything for more than half a second then you know the author must be doing something right.

This book speaks to the imagination of kids (and adults, or at least this one.) The humour is appropriate for middle grade and lower kids and as a parent, I was impressed with the writing, as it didn’t seem to be stunted or less intellectual than a book intended for adults. I like it when my kids can read something that challenges them and teaches them a wider range of vocabulary, and you get that with this book.

The story is full of adventure and doesn’t stop until the last page is read. The main character is unique and quirky, and just as exciting as you want a good, unlikely hero to be.

If you have kids that are reluctant readers, this would be a good book to help them get interested in reading.

Five stars well deserved.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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Escape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth

Escape from Witchwood HollowEscape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth

Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this story from the beginning. The author is clear, imaginative and gives life to her characters early on so the reader is able to get a good image of them mentally and identify with them easily.

The author did a good job of telling a multi-generational tale with a lot of unexpected twists. Some of this story reminded me a bit of Moll Dyer, especially early on in the book.

I’ve read a lot of books that fall into this genre in the last year, and many of them have been disappointing, but this one, filled with mystery and a bit of terror was really worth the time to read.

The ending chapters sealed the opinion that this is a stand out book. I liked the way the author made the reader think and do some solving of their own rather than just explaining everything to death.

Overall, I thought this was a great book, and would be perfect for a Halloween night read.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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The Winter Sea by Di Morrissey

The Winter SeaThe Winter Sea by Di Morrissey

Escaping an unhappy marriage and an unsatisfactory job, Cassie Holloway moves to the little Australian coastal town of Whitby Point. There she meets the Aquino family, whose fishing business was founded by their ancestor, Giuseppe, an Italian immigrant, some ninety years before. Life for Cassie on the south west coast is sweet as she sets up a successful restaurant and falls in love with Giuseppe’s great grandson Michael. But when the family patriarch dies, a devastating family secret is revealed which threatens to destroy her dreams. Cassie’s future happiness now rests with her quest for the truth.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a beautifully written and captivating novel that will not let you put it down until the last page has been read. This story begins many years ago and allows the reader to become acquainted with the family at the heart of the book before moving to the present.

Through multiple years and generations, this story bends and weaves around the D’aquino family as well as a main character that you can’t help but love for her personality and passion for life.

This is a book that I found it easy to get lost in and didn’t want to put down. It has been a long time since I got so involved in the lives and world of characters that I forgot about my own, but the break was appreciated.

This author has a certain talent for painting pictures with words and allowing you to really get a sense of the character’s intentions and emotions. If you are looking for a book with a quick pace and a lot of action, this will not be your thing, but if you enjoy generational family tales with secrets, amazing writing and a lot of heart, this will be perfect for you.

Simply put, it is a wonderful book.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and was provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The 12 Screams of Christmas ( Goosebumps)

The 12 Screams of Christmas (Goosebumps Most Wanted Special Edition, #2)The 12 Screams of Christmas by R.L. Stine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s Goosebumps! For Christmas? Okay, so that seemed kind of weird at first, being that Christmas is a time of cheer and good tidings, but I thought this worked pretty well. It seemed to me that this book was a might more grown up than previous goosebumps titles I’ve read. The characters had a bit more depth and the story was a little scarier than I recall the other books being.

Still, this had the original Goosebumps flair, with laugh out loud moments and goofy characters to fill in the tense spots. I think kids of all ages will enjoy this book just as they have done with the rest of the series before it.

The frights in this story were original, and I liked that the main character had other drama in her life besides seeing ghosts. I’m sire kids could relate to the issues she brings up.

I love these books, and this series will never cease to please, in my opinion.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Treasure on Lilac Lane by Donna Alward

Treasure on Lilac Lane (Jewell Cove, #2)Treasure on Lilac Lane by Donna Alward

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the beginning, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the previous in the series, but that changed soon enough. Within a few chapters I was happily settled back into Jewell Cove and loving this story.

Once again, Donna Alward reminded me why she has become one of my very favourite authors. Her characters are heartfelt and her story is captivating, bringing together everything you want in a romance as well as a small town atmosphere that allows you to feel close to the characters. She handles tough subject matter such as death and addiction with grace.

In this story some of the characters from the previous book take centre stage, whereas before they were supporting cast. I love the way this author connects her characters through more than just family relationships and friendships. Through the use of common places, the local diner, the jobs the characters do and the course life takes them in, they develop bonds with one another and with the reader.

I am looking forward to seeing what she does next. Recommended for those who like depth in their stories and want to feel like they are part of something special.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Seeing the Dead by Sheila Connolly

Seeing the Dead (Relatively Dead Mysteries Book 2)Seeing the Dead by Sheila Connolly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you are a fan of history/paranormal then this is a book series that will likely appeal to you on many levels. Once more, Sheila Connolly proves that she can take the ordinary world and create characters that make it seem extraordinary.

This was a fun book to read with a lot of historical accuracy and interesting plot twists for the main character to face. I didn’t feel like the main character knew where she was headed relationship-wise throughout most of this though. Her intent with Ned was often confusing, although that may have been intentional on the part of the author.

I like that the author uses family lineage as the base of her story and connects her characters on so many levels. The setting is easy to visualise and feel part of.

This was a good book that I was able to read through quickly and get a lot of enjoyment from. If you are looking for some light reading that will make you smile and even laugh out loud, Sheila Connolly has a book for you.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own.