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Gabby Duran and the Unsittables

About the Book:

Case File: The First Unsittable

Summary: The Association Linking Intergalatics and Earthlings (hereby known as A.L.I.E.N.) has a new member. After months of investigation, Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, has proven herself to be a babysitter extraordinaire. Her celebrity clients fly her around the country to care for their rambunctious little humans. Our spy, Associate 4118-23432B, otherwise known as Edwina, believes Gabby can be trusted with the truth: aliens are living among humans on Earth. And here at A.L.I.E.N we believe that even extraterrestrials need a babysitter now and then. No one was up to the task…until now.

After accepting the top-secret position, Edwina has paired our new associate up with her first charge, a little girl from the planet Flarknartia. The timing for associate 4118-25125A is less than ideal. It’s a school day on Planet Earth, Gabby’s audition for the solo part in the band is tonight, and this tiny alien is a bit more than meets the eye.

Can Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, First Sitter to the Unsittables, keep her otherworldly charge safe in the unpredictable halls of middle-school and keep A.L.I.E.N hidden?

Elise Allen

About the Authors:

Emmy-nominated writer and New York Times best-selling author Elise Allen made a name for herself with her acclaimed young adult novel Populazzi (Harcourt), and the Jim Henson’s Enchanted Sisters chapter books (Bloomsbury). In television, she has written for talent ranging from Bill Cosby to Kermit the Frog, and is currently writing for the new Disney Junior show The Lion Guard. Her dog may or may not secretly be from another planet.

Daryle Conners

Daryle Conners is an award-winning writer, filmmaker and video game designer. She writes joke and riddle books and has designed many game titles for the PC and iPhone/iPad including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Scene It? Harry Potter, Hot Wheels Slot Car Racers, and Scene It? Twilight Saga. Her non-fiction books include Lunchtime LOLZ, Nintendo DS Hot Tips, ROFLs,Video Game Secrets and Monster High Jokes, all for Scholastic. Daryle lives in Seattle, where she still babysits from time to time.

READ AN EXCERPT

http://www.bighonchomedia.com/assets/Disney/Gabby/GabbyDuranExcerpt.pdf

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 My Review
Gabby Duran and the UnsittablesGabby Duran and the Unsittables by Elise Allen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have decided that I am in the wrong business and Gabby Duran has the job that I want!

I loved this book–it made me giggle all the way through. I am a huge fan of middle-grade fiction. I love the fantastic story lines and the fun events that adult books just can’t quite pull off. This book is the epitome of everything a good mid-grade book should be.

Gabby Duran is a wonderful character that kids will have no trouble relating to. She is smart, sly and compassionate. One of my favourite things about this book was Gabby’s obvious affection for all the little kids (both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial,) that she sat for. She is a good role model for patience and acceptance of those who are a bit different.

This is filled with the fun kind of danger that will keep young readers on their toes and wanting to turn pages. I loved the shape-shifting alien and the silly humour. This book doesn’t have any gross-out humour, so parents can feel good about their kids reading it. The authors took enough liberties with reality to make it fun, but not so many that you can’t follow the story. I am really looking forward to seeing where else Gabby goes and what adventures await her.

If you are looking for a book for a special child in your life, this would be a perfect choice. Recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, Disney Publishing, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

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One (1) winner receives:

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· and branded Tumbler and UFO light-up flyer.

All you have to do is share this post with your favorite social media outlet–and leave a comment to let me know you did. One winner will be chosen at random on Saturday the 16th of May. Open to US residents only.

Siren’s Call by Debbie Herbert

Siren's Call (Dark Seas)Siren’s Call by Debbie Herbert

Lily Borsage is the ultimate siren: gorgeous, aloof and irresistible to all the men in Bayou La Siryna. All of them, that is, until Nashoba Bowman comes back to town. The Native American kid whose innocent first kiss Lily remembers fondly is now all grown-up, hot as an Alabama summer and immune to Lily’s charms. What self-respecting mermaid could resist finding out more?

But Nash has a dark history that puts any woman he loves in grave danger, and a heritage of power he isn’t ready to accept. And Lily has a secret that no mortal man can ever know. When a mysterious enemy starts menacing Lily, they will both have to risk everything and embrace their deepest destinies if they want to survive.


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Debbie Herbert has done it again, bringing her readers the magic of attraction and romance tinged with danger and the unknown.

Love this book. Just like the others in this series, this novel is filled with things that will make you swoon–most especially the male lead. Of the three books I have read in this series, this one is my favourite. It was nice to get updates on the lives of previously featured characters, and I really felt like the author tied everything together in this novel.

Debbie Herbert is really good at building unique situations for her characters and creating the kind of chemistry between them that you want to see in a romance. Her couples feel really genuine and the story line feels very natural and not contrived.

It is easy to become swiftly involved in these stories and find yourself lost in the lives of these women. The setting was as beautiful and mysterious as the rest of the series, and makes you wonder if there just might really be mermaids in the Bayou.

This was a great novel, and one that I happily recommend. If you are looking for a story that has more than just a simple romance, this is the way to go.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author. All opinions are my own.

Summer on Lover’s Island by Donna Alward (Jewell Cove # 3)

Summer on Lovers' Island (Jewell Cove, #3)

Summer on Lovers’ Island (Jewell Cove #3)


Lizzie Howard’s life is close to perfect, until her father’s death brings her world crashing down around her. With her reputation and heart in tatters, she reluctantly agrees to temporarily take over her best friend’s practice in scenic Jewell Cove, Maine—a position that’s a world away from the high pressure career she once loved.

Josh Collins is no stranger to pain. After losing his wife, he moved home looking to start over. One of two doctors at the town clinic, his sleepy coastal practice is just what he needed. Until Lizzie Howard arrives. Lizzie is everything Josh wanted to get away from: brash, ambitious and not interested in a quiet life in a quiet town. But as the sparks fly between these two doctors, they realize that sometimes opposites really do attract.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am always amazed when I start reading a Donna Alward story at just how good she is at capturing the special moments and conflicts in ordinary life–and yet making them feel extraordinary.

Feasibly, I think you could read this book as a standalone and it would still make sense and be enjoyable–but I would recommend you read the rest of the series first. Not because you have to–just because you can. When was the last time you turned down an amazing opportunity to relax and just have a good time?

Character growth and development is important to me as a fan of series books, and you get that here. Characters from the original book are caught up with in this story,and some that we only met in supporting roles now take the floor.

I like romance that has depth–the kind of relationship between two characters that makes you want to see them succeed regardless of the odds against them. This author knows how to create the perfect mix of tension and longing to make her couples stand out from the crowd and feel realistic. They have families and problems just like the rest of us and have to try hard to blend their lives together as real people do. The forethought that goes into these books must be immense, as the results are fantastic.

Donna Alward has brought her readers another reason to love Jewell Cove and its residents. If you are a fan of Debbie Macomber or RaeAnne Thayne, you will certainly want to check out the work of Donna Alward. Small town setting, big writing talent.

Recommended.

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

Something I rarely ever do

I gave up on a book. Shocking, I know. Maybe it was the silly connection used to link the MC to Bridget Bishop of the Salem trials. Maybe it was just too many words used to describe too little importance. Either way–here’s what I thought.

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

*review may contain minor spoilers*

So, I apologise if this review makes me come off sounding like a giant Ashmole, but I have to be honest–this book nearly bored me to tears. I gave it the old college try. Really, I kept going even after I thought I couldn’t take another minute of it, but in the end, I had to give up before I finished it. I made it over 200 pages in.

I can sum it up rather quickly. It reminded me of Twilight for adults, with a bit more science thrown in.

Oxford and library described in extreme detail.

The characters eat, with vivid description of the contents of each meal. They drink many different wines. They go to Yoga.

In the following chapters, the characters eat. They drink lots of wine. They go to Yoga.

The Vampire likes watching the witch sleep.

The vampire is afraid he will hurt his love interest.

Wine.

Yoga.

Food.

Vampire hunts deer rather than humans.

I can’t handle it anymore. Utmost respect for those who found this book exciting and loved it. I was not one of those people.

I wanted to like it. I failed.

Not one I can recommend.

The Faerie Tree by Jane Cable

The Faerie TreeThe Faerie Tree by Jane Cable

How can a memory so vivid be wrong?

I tried to remember the first time I’d been here and to see the tree through Izzie’s eyes. The oak stood on a rise just above the path; not too tall or wide but graceful and straight, its trunk covered in what I can only describe as offerings – pieces of ribbon, daisy chains, a shell necklace, a tiny doll or two and even an old cuckoo clock.
“Why do people do this?” Izzie asked.
I winked at her. “To say thank you to the fairies.”

In the summer of 1986 Robin and Izzie hold hands under The Faerie Tree and wish for a future together. Within hours tragedy rips their dreams apart.

In the winter of 2006, each carrying their own burden of grief, they stumble back into each other’s lives and try to create a second chance. But why are their memories of 1986 so different? And which one of them is right?

With strong themes of paganism, love and grief, The Faerie Tree is a novel as gripping and unputdownable as Jane Cable’s first book, The Cheesemaker’s House, which won the Suspense & Crime category of The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition. It is a story that will resonate with fans of romance, suspense, and folklore.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love books that can manage a bit of magic and still seem so real. This is definitely one of those stories that makes you believe in the power of love.

I think what made me like this novel more than anything else, was the way the characters mirrored real people. The conversations didn’t feel forced and I saw multiple sides of each character so by the end it was like I had known them forever. There were times during this story when I was surprised by the level of emotion the male lead character showed, and that was a nice change. Some authors seem to be afraid to show any weakness in their main character and that makes me feel like I can’t get close to them, but in this story, that was not the case.

When I began reading this I sort of expected it to be an overdose of magic realism as that seems to be a trend, but by the end of the first couple chapters I was pleasantly surprised that this is a very realistic story. The magic comes from people and their relationships with one another, rather than a wand or an incantation.

This author makes you believe what you are reading and wonder what happened to the characters after her stories are complete.

I really Enjoy Jane Cable’s writing. She takes the time to let her story develop, has memorable characters, and knows how to build suspense and curiosity in her readers.

Overall, this was a great book that I happily recommend to other readers.

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

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

Based on the wildly popular YouTube channel, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl has been described as “ Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity for the new media age.” YA fans new and old will learn the secrets behind Sunshine—the adorkable girl living in a haunted house—a story that is much bigger, and runs much deeper, than even the most devoted viewer can imagine…

Yes, I think that is really supposed to say ADORKABLE

The Haunting of Sunshine GirlThe Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First–an admission. I was not one of those people who followed the Sunshine Girl videos on YouTube so I came into this unaware of what it was about and went off the book blurb to tell me about it. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I suppose I went into reading this without any real expectations.

For the first third or so of this book, I was pretty enthralled. I liked Sunshine and her mom Kat right away. I liked the dog and the cat and the best friend and I was grateful that the author didn’t wait until the last page to start revealing the paranormal aspects of the story. This seemed like it would turn out to be the kind of old-fashioned, creepy ghost story that relies a lot on the unseen to create terror. The it went a different way.

I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the rest of the book, I did, but in a bit different manner. Rather than being a ghost story, this book becomes more about the strange qualities of the main character and what her future holds. I thought the plot line was pretty unique, and I was still happy to continue reading, but I also was a bit dismayed that the story went from being about one thing and suddenly became about another. I’m not sure (again with the lack of videos) where the author will take this series, but it should be interesting to see.

I do have to say, the final battle with the dark force in the story was not my favourite. It seemed a bit too easy and too convenient for such heavy subject matter. I also want to mention that the bathtub scene is possibly one of the most terrifying scenes in any book I’ve read. So, I guess it balances.

Overall I think teens (and adults) will enjoy this book. I look forward to reading the next and seeing what happens to Sunshine in the future.

This review is based on a complimentary copy offered in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag

The Dress Shop of DreamsThe Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag

For fans of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Adriana Trigiani, The Dress Shop of Dreams is a captivating novel of enduring hopes, second chances, and the life-changing magic of true love.

Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a sweet, charming tale with characters that are easy to love. If you like magic realism and you are looking for a story to take you away from everything, this would be a good book to choose.

I liked the characters right away. This is one of those stories that will transport you away from your daily stresses and make you smile and feel warm inside. The relationships between the characters, (both family and love interest,) are interesting and different from other books. You feel as if you have gotten to know these people within the first few chapters and after that, it is like you have become part of the story yourself.

The magical surprises in this book are many and as the story continues, you find yourself hoping that everything will work out the way you want it to.

This was a great book, with a lot to recommend it.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher as part of the shereads.org blogging program. All opinions are my own.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The NightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Flat out, there is no other way to describe this book–I loved it.

For anyone who has an interest in the German Occupations during WWII, this book will likely be interesting. Even if you don’t, this book still has something to offer.

Have you ever read a book that brought you so close to the characters that you forgot you were reading a book at all? That is what happened to me whilst reading this. I found myself so involved in the lives of these characters that I felt their pain, longing, loss and redemption.

Down to the very last detail, this is a beautifully written and immaculately researched novel.

One of the things that made me love this book, is that the characters seem to truly belong in the setting. Everything does not turn out perfectly at the end as so many books seem to force. The sad times of war including, cold, hunger and loss of lives is well described here and the characters experience it, enough that the reader feels it too.

The relationships in this story are complex and go far beyond those in the average book. The people grow and change and make you believe in them even when all hope seems to be lost.

I can’t say enough good things about this novel. It is amazing.

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


Mourning Lincoln by Martha Hodes

Mourning LincolnMourning Lincoln by Martha Hodes

Read

Mourning Lincoln

The news of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 15, 1865, just days after Confederate surrender, astounded the war-weary nation. Massive crowds turned out for services and ceremonies. Countless expressions of grief and dismay were printed in newspapers and preached in sermons. Public responses to the assassination have been well chronicled, but this book is the first to delve into the personal and intimate responses of everyday people—northerners and southerners, soldiers and civilians, black people and white, men and women, rich and poor.

Through deep and thoughtful exploration of diaries, letters, and other personal writings penned during the spring and summer of 1865, Martha Hodes, one of our finest historians, captures the full range of reactions to the president’s death—far more diverse than public expressions would suggest. She tells a story of shock, glee, sorrow, anger, blame, and fear. “’Tis the saddest day in our history,” wrote a mournful man. It was “an electric shock to my soul,” wrote a woman who had escaped from slavery. “Glorious News!” a Lincoln enemy exulted. “Old Lincoln is dead, and I will kill the goddamned Negroes now,” an angry white southerner ranted. For the black soldiers of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts, it was all “too overwhelming, too lamentable, too distressing” to absorb.

There are many surprises in the story Hodes tells, not least the way in which even those utterly devastated by Lincoln’s demise easily interrupted their mourning rituals to attend to the most mundane aspects of everyday life.  There is also the unexpected and unabated virulence of Lincoln’s northern critics, and the way Confederates simultaneously celebrated Lincoln’s death and instantly—on the very day he died—cast him as a fallen friend to the defeated white South.

Hodes brings to life a key moment of national uncertainty and confusion, when competing visions of America’s future proved irreconcilable and hopes for racial justice in the aftermath of the Civil War slipped from the nation’s grasp. Hodes masterfully brings the tragedy of Lincoln’s assassination alive in human terms—terms that continue to stagger and rivet us one hundred and fifty years after the event they so strikingly describe.–From Goodreads

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Truly one of the best “Lincoln Books” that I have had the pleasure of reading.

Rather than just showing the side of America (and the world at large) that felt sorrow for the loss of the sixteenth president, this author researched, learned and wrote a book that shows both sides of the after effects the death of Lincoln had.

Whilst some were angry, disbelieving and sorrowful over the new of the president’s assassination, others were jubilant, relieved or even boastful. This book defines the boundaries between the belief systems of the North and South in a way that I have seen no other book attempt.

Through a multitude of first person accounts, the author manages to paint a picture of the American public after the death of Lincoln and show the reader what was really happening in the minds and hearts of those who survived the event.

From describing the feeling of some that mourning the loss of the president was a collective effort of everyone, to the reality that it was not, the author does a brilliant job of recounting history.

I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who is looking for further information about Lincoln, and the period after his death. A smartly researched, intelligently written book.

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

The Deep by Nick Cutter

The DeepThe Deep by Nick Cutter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is creepy in a stuck in a lift with an unknown horror kind of way. Good, clean, claustrophobic, heart-wrenching terror!

One thing that bothers me about a lot of horror novels is that the characters don’t tend to have much poise and personality or appear to have had much of a life before the horror aspects of the story begin. This is not the case with this book, nor with the previous book I read by this author. Nick Cutter is a master at making you wonder if the things he writes about could really happen in some form or another, and he gives the reader well fleshed characters that can support a complex plot.

I think the thing that I like the most about this book is that the reader is never really sure if the horror they are experiencing is really happening, or if it is a byproduct of a psychotic cast of characters.

The terror in this novel is increased by the creepy atmosphere, the mysterious side characters and the flashbacks of a more ordinary kind of horror that all of us could potentially experience.

I have a new favourite horror author in Nick Cutter. Looking forward to what comes out of his twisted mind next.

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