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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WWW Wednesdays (June 29)

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?
Comment below or link up:

I am currently reading IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute. I'm having a hard time putting it down. Stay tuned for my review of this book and interview with the author.

I just finished reading The Shadow at the Gate (The Tormay Trilogy), book two in the series, by Christopher Bunn. Click here to go to my review of The Shadow at the Gate and interview with the author. This is a beautiful story that I gave a 5/5 stars on Amazon.com.

Next up is SHAKEN: Stories for Japan. Click here for more details on this collection of short stories to aid victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of this book go to Japan relief.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Shadow at the Gate:
Book Review and Interview with the Author
Guest Blogging at Kindle Obsessed

Today, I'm guest blogging at Kindle Obsessed. Pop on over to view my review of The Shadow at the Gate and interview with the author Christopher Bunn (click here for the review and interview).

The Shadow at the Gate is available at Amazon.com for $2.99. The first book in the series, The Hawk And His Boy, is just $0.99!

Thanks to Misty at Kindle Obsessed for hosting me today. Her reviews are poignant and honest. She also regularly shares her finds on free and reasonably priced e-books. If you love books as much as I do, you'll want to check out her blog!

Christopher has been featured on Cookie's Book Club before.
--> Click here to view my review of The Hawk and His Boy and interview with Christopher Bunn
--> Click here to view Christopher's Guest Post, "Moral Compass and Character"

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Repetition is Good for Kids:
Books for Babies and Toddlers

Kids love repetition, and it's good for them. As parents, reading the same story over and over again might get to be a little boring, but we do our kids a disservice if we force them to read something different thinking it will expand their minds (and keep our own from turning to mush).
According to the February 2011 Frontiers in Psychology article, "Get the story straight: contextual repetition promotes word learning from storybooks", children who read the same stories repeatedly are more likely to increase their vocabulary as a result. In the study, 3-year-olds were either read the same story three times or were read three different stories. Each story contained the same novel (made up) words. Children who heard the same story over and over learned the novel words and retained the words over the long term, thus increasing their vocabulary, whereas the kids who were read the three different stories did not.
In addition to allowing your kids to choose the same book night after night and reading it to him two or three or four times in a row some days, you can choose books that are written to emphasize repetition.

Children naturally love books and songs that use repetition. Some great books for babies and young children are the Child's Play Classic Books with Holes series of books (available at Amazon.com). Many of these books illustrate popular 'building' stories - stories that start with a concept and add on to it creating lots of repetition and lots of fun!

I bought a book for Jack before he was born and read it to him each night. It was still one of his favourite bedtime books for at least a couple of years after he was born. That book was The Napping House.

The Napping House employs the same cumulative rhyming technique found in the above Classic Books With Holes books.
There is a house,
a napping house,
where everyone is sleeping.

A similar story that my son liked, but that I think might be enjoyed more by little girls, is Emily's House.
Emily lived in a little brick house
With a creaky old door and a little brown mouse.

These are just a few of the options when it comes to books that incorporate repetition. Remember, as much as it numbs our own old and tired brains at times to read the same thing over and over again, it's just what our children need. Plus it makes the little gaffers happy!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's Father's Day:
Some great books to celebrate dad!

Here are a few great ideas for Fathers Day. Did you get dad an Amazon gift card for Fathers Day? Need a last minute gift idea? Check out these books just for dads:


Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern - Kindle eBook
Buy: $13.71
4.5 out of 5 stars   (575)

Product description from Amazon.com:
After being dumped by his longtime girlfriend, twenty-eight-year-old Justin Halpern found himself living at home with his seventy-three-year-old dad. Sam Halpern, who is "like Socrates, but angrier, and with worse hair," has never minced words, and when Justin moved back home, he began to record all the ridiculous things his dad said to him:
More than a million people now follow Mr. Halpern's philosophical musings on Twitter, and in this book, his son weaves a brilliantly funny, touching coming-of-age memoir around the best of his quotes. An all-American story that unfolds on the Little League field, in Denny's, during excruciating family road trips, and, most frequently, in the Halperns' kitchen over bowls of Grape-Nuts, Sh*t My Dad Says is a chaotic, hilarious, true portrait of a father-son relationship from a major new comic voice.

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan - Kindle eBook
Buy: $9.34
4.8 out of 5 stars   (412)

Product description from Amazon.com:
After saving Olympus from the evil Titan lord, Kronos, Percy and friends have rebuilt their beloved Camp Half-Blood, where the next generation of demigods must now prepare for a chilling prophecy of their own: Seven half-bloods shall answer the call, To storm or fire the world must fall. An oath to keep with a final breath, And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death. Now, in a brand-new series from blockbuster best-selling author Rick Riordan, fans return to the world of Camp Half-Blood. Here, a new group of heroes will inherit a quest. But to survive the journey, they'll need the help of some familiar demigods.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card - Kindle eBook
Buy: $5.59
4.6 out of 5 stars   (2,842)

Product description from Amazon.com:
Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards
In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut--young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey - Kindle eBook
Buy: $9.56
4.2 out of 5 stars   (1,038)

Product description from Amazon.com:
In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, service, and human dignity -- principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.  
Decision Points by George W. Bush - Kindle eBook
Buy: $9.99
4.4 out of 5 stars   (954)

Product description from Amazon.com:
President George W. Bush describes the critical decisions of his presidency and personal life.

Decision Points is the extraordinary memoir of America’s 43rd president. Shattering the conventions of political autobiography, George W. Bush offers a strikingly candid journey through the defining decisions of his life.

In gripping, never-before-heard detail, President Bush brings readers inside the Texas Governor’s Mansion on the night of the hotly contested 2000 election; aboard Air Force One on 9/11, in the hours after America’s most devastating attack since Pearl Harbor; at the head of the table in the Situation Room in the moments before launching the war in Iraq; and behind the Oval Office desk for his historic and controversial decisions on the financial crisis, Hurricane Katrina, Afghanistan, Iran, and other issues that have shaped the first decade of the 21st century.

President Bush writes honestly and directly about his flaws and mistakes, as well as his accomplishments reforming education, treating HIV/AIDS in Africa, and safeguarding the country amid chilling warnings of additional terrorist attacks. He also offers intimate new details on his decision to quit drinking, discovery of faith, and relationship with his family.

A groundbreaking new brand of memoir, Decision Points will captivate supporters, surprise critics, and change perspectives on one of the most consequential eras in American history – and the man at the center of events.

Please verify price before purchasing, as prices are subject to change.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Reviews by YOU
How I Learned to Love the Walrus (an Arctic Romantic Comedy)
by Beth Orsoff

Cookie's Book Club brings you the first in a new series, Book Reviews by YOU.

Today we are joined by guest reader, Judester, who reviews Beth Orsoff's How I Learned to Love the Walrus (an Arctic Romantic Comedy).

From the Author, Beth Orsoff:
If you like humor, chick lit, and complicated/cranky men (think "House"), then this may be the book you've been looking for. 

Product Description from Amazon.com:
When Los Angeles publicist Sydney Green convinces her boss to let her produce a documentary for the Save the Walrus Foundation, the only one Sydney Green is interested in saving is herself. The walruses are merely a means to improving her career and her love life, and not necessarily in that order. Sydney would've killed the project the second she learned she'd be the one having to spend a month in rural Alaska if it had been for any other client. But for rising star and sometimes boyfriend Blake McKinley, no sacrifice is ever too great.

But a funny thing happens on the way to the Arctic. A gregarious walrus pup, a cantankerous scientist, an Australian sex goddess, a Star Wars obsessed six-year-old, and friends and nemeses both past and present rock Sydney Green's well-ordered world. Soon Sydney is forced to choose between doing what's easy and doing what's right.
Judester's Review:
I never thought I'd have this much fun learning about the walrus and life in remote Alaska. The characters in "How I Learned to Love the Walrus" are as fun and engaging as an episode of `Friends' meets `Survivor'. The interaction was real enough that I wanted to pull up a chair and join in, but that wasn't the gem. The best part of this book is Beth's voice that breathes sparkling wit into a subject matter that might otherwise glaze eyes over and promote resonating snores.
Orsoff is one gifted writer that does her homework. I felt as though the details were well researched. She even added information about gear and walrus tracking procedures that I didn't know that I wanted to know. The chapter hooks made the reading fly by. SPOILER ALERT: I will say that it nearly broke my heart when Ethan said "There's no normal anymore" (and don't even get me started on Brutus).
Thanks Orsoff! This is one great read!
I give this book a 5/5.
Judester's BIO:  
I'm a Kindle junkie, a single parent of six and grandma of one. In summer I love air conditioning, icy diet drinks especially when zested with lime, drive-in movies where we picnic in the back of the van, camping, waterparks and roadtrips. In winter I love reading by firelight and sleeping. My favorite seasons are spring and fall, the order is interchangable.
Thanks, Judester! Beth's book sounds like a fun read. I'm adding it to my wish list! 
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How I Learned to Love the Walrus (an Arctic Romantic Comedy) is available for Kindle at Amazon.com.
95,000 words/380 pages

(please confirm price before purchasing)

Beth Orsoff has written two other novels, Romantically Challenged and Honeymoon For One, both $2.99 at the Amazon Kindle store.

Learn more about Beth at her website. She sounds like the kind of person I'd want to meet for tea (it doesn't hurt that I'd have to fly to sunny Los Angeles to do so).

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If you would like to be a guest reviewer on Cookie's Book Club, please contact Cookie's Mom at cookieschronicles@gmail.com.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Children's Author Spotlight: Sandra Boynton

If number of books by the same author is the benchmark, then Sandra Boynton is clearly the favourite author around here. She's a prolific writer of children's stories. Her subjects are adorable and silly animals such as pigs, cows, turkeys, cats, dogs, and her flagship hippos. There may also be the occasional monster or dinosaur.

If you want a taste of Boynton's sense of humour, just visit the sandraboynton.com home and introduction pages. The silly doesn't stop at the text of the story itself. It's all the little details that make the difference in Boynton's work.

Often the stories are accompanied by, or may even have been born out of, a silly song. This one, Your Personal Penguin, sung here by Davey Jones of The Monkees, is my favourite to sing:

Of course, it's not all about being silly, though for many kids (and their parents) that would be enough. Some of these stories have wonderful messages about love, family and friendship, and some teach kids their alphabet, rhyming, colours and animal sounds.

Sandra Boynton began designing greeting cards in 1973, and has designed thousands of them since then. One of her first and still most popular designs is “Hippo Birdie Two Ewes”. In 1977, Sandra wrote her first published children's book, Hippos Go Berserk. In the 1990s, Barbara began writing and recording music with Micheal Ford. Together they have recorded over 60 songs! My personal favourite is "Cows", performed by The Seldom Herd, from the Grammy award nominated Philadelphia Chickens.

I can wholeheartedly recommend these books by Sandra Boynton, which are staring at me longingly from the bookshelf as I write this review:

Barnyard Dance!
"Everybody sing along—because it's time to do-si-do in the barnyard with a high-spirited animal crew! From Boynton on Board, the bestselling series of board books, here is BARNYARD DANCE, with Sandra Boynton's twirling pigs, fiddle-playing cows, and other unforgettable animals. Extra-big, extra-fat, and extra-fun, BARNYARD DANCE features lively rhyming text and a die-cut cover that reveals the wacky characters inside. Guaranteed to get kids and adults stomping their feet. Main selection of the Children's Book-of-the-Month Club. Winner of the 1994 Gold Medal from the National Parenting Publications Award." (source: Amazon.com)

Your Personal Penguin  
"Your Personal Penguin is a read-aloud, listen-along favorite for young children and the grown-ups who read to them. Fun to hold, the book tells the story of a slightly bewildered hippo and the loyal penguin who wants nothing more than to be his pal." (source: Amazon.com)

Belly Button Book
"Featuring a beachful of bare-bellied hippos—including one tiny baby who can only say “Bee Bo”—the Belly Button Book is the latest quirky addition to the phenomenally successful Boynton on Board series. Every page captivates with Sandra Boynton’s inimitable illustrations and joyful rhyming text." (source: Amazon.com)

Birthday Monsters!
"You hear your door come crashing down—those birthday monsters are in town! And they're going to wreak havoc in the most extraordinarily rude ways. What fun! From Boynton on Board, the 8-million-copy-bestselling series of extra-big, extra-fat, and extra-fun board books, here is BIRTHDAY MONSTERS. Featuring Sandra Boynton's lively rhyming text and inimitable illustrations, this story about a madcap crew of lovable party crashers will appeal to kids and adults alike. Main selection of the Children's Book-of-the-Month Club." (source: Amazon.com)

The Going-To-Bed Book
For a little one who is reluctant to go to bed, sometimes a silly book is just the ticket. And when it comes to silly books, Sandra Boynton is the undisputed queen. In The Going to Bed Book, an ark full of animals watches the sun go down and then prepares for bed. They take a bath ("in one big tub"), find pajamas, brush their teeth, do exercises up on deck (imagine an elephant jumping rope, a moose lifting weights, and a pig doing handstands), and finally say good night. (source: Amazon.com)

Boynton's Greatest Hits: Volume 1
These short, hilarious books are perfectly suited to toddler tastes, with their small size, few words, cheerful colors, funny jokes, and silly animals. Blue Hat, Green Hat is all about getting dressed, and stars a very silly turkey who just doesn't get it. (Feet in the hat, pants on the head, etc.) His continuing refrain is "Oops." Moo, Baa, LA LA LA! investigates the sounds animals make, including pigs who sing. Doggies is "a counting and barking book" about the many sounds dogs can make, and A to Z frolics through the alphabet with amusing animal antics from an aardvark admiring to a zebra zigzagging. Parents love Boynton as much as kids do, and these four books in a compact boxed set will no doubt become household favorites!

Snoozers : 7 Short Short Bedtime Stories for Lively Little Kids
"Here are seven different Boynton bedtime stories for little listeners. Guided by the colorful picture tabs, children can find whichever story they want to hear. And the next one. And then this one. Okay, now this one. And now this one. Ooo, and this. Oh, please, just ONE more?" (source: Amazon.com)

These Sandra Boynton books are recommended for "all ages up to a hundred and moo" (sandraboynton.com), but they're enjoyed most by children 1 to 4 years old.

There are so many other great Sandra Boynton books that we look forward to reading! See the full list here: Sandra Boynton's 'Swell Books' page

Sandra Boynton's new book, Amazing Cows: Udder Absurdity for Children, is available at Amazon.com. You just have to read 'An Interview with the Author' to understand what it takes to write a Sandra Boynton book.

Sandra Boyton's even newer book is Happy Hippo Angry Duck, and it is available at Simon and Schuster.

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