Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Author Spotlight: Carole P. Roman

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 for her first book, award winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. Using an imaginary game she played with her grandson as a base, Captain No Beard was born."Captain No Beard- An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life" has not only been named to Kirkus Best of 2012, it received the Star of Remarkable Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award for 2012. "Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience" Book 2 in the series, received 5 Stars from The ForeWord Review The Clarion Review. Strangers on the High Seas has won second place in the Rebecca's Reads Choice Awards 2013. It has followed with six more books to the series.

Motivated by her love of yoga, Roman has written a book that not only teaches four poses, but shows how easy and accessible yoga can be.

Her new non fiction series, "If You Were Me and Lived in..." combines her teaching past with her love of exploration and interest in the world around us. The debut book in the series, "If You Were Me and Lived in...Mexico" has won the Pinnacle Award for Best in Children's Non Fiction 2012. France, South Korea, and Norway. Rebecca's Reads has given If You Were Me and Lived in...Norway an honorable mention in the 2013 Choice Awards. If You Were Me and lived in ...France won second place. ForeWord Review has nominated If You Were Me and Lived in...France for best in children's non fiction literature 2013. They will be followed with Kenya, Turkey, India, and Australia. She plans to do Portugal, Greece, and Argentina next year.

Writing for children has opened up a whole second act for her. While she is still working in her family business, this has enabled her to share her sense of humor as well as love for history and culture with the audience she adores. Roman lives on Long Island with her husband and near her children.

Book Reviews:

I Want to do Yoga Too

This is a very short, cute book. The pictures are simple and cute. The story is about a little girl who goes to yoga with her mom and wants to go into the lesson with her, not the playroom. While in the playroom, she is led through poses by the teacher, without her realizing what she’s doing. We had fun trying to do the poses as we were reading. My boys enjoyed it even though it was a girl in the story and have tried creating their own poses.

Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life

I’m very much a fan of Captain No Beard! The story is about a little boy, his cousin and his stuffed animals who are pirates on their magical bed/boat. In this book, they learn pirate phrases and have a fun first adventure. The pictures are really kid friendly and we ended up having to put together a pirate costume for the youngest and have to call him No Beard when he’s in costume.

Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience: A Captain No Beard Story (Volume 2)


The crew welcomes a new member, Pepper the Parrot. The Captain starts running drills and it becomes evident that Pepper doesn’t know her right from left. After getting very frustrated, Pepper learns to settle down and work through a problem instead of getting upset. We actually used the lesson of learning right from left for our youngest and he’s getting it correct, most of the time.

Stuck in the Doldrums: A Lesson in Sharing- A Captain No Beard Story Paperback

The lesson to the book is about sharing. The crew is stuck on an island and have to share their “toys” Then the Captain starts getting bossy and makes playtime not as much fun. I think this is a subtle side-lesson to the book. It is about sharing, but it’s also about being fair and playing well together. He learns that he needs his friends and that he needs to control himself better.  The other pirates also learn about forgiving someone who hurts them a bit.

The Treasure of Snake Island: A Captain No Beard Story Volume 5

This is a book about the crew of the Flying Dragon. They’re sailing when they spot a storm. After the storm, they head to Snake Island to look for buried treasure. I thought it was cute how Polly the Parrot kept telling the crew about things she had read and how exciting books are. They work together and find their treasure.


If You Were Me and Lived in...India: A Child's Introduction to Cultures Around the World (Volume 7)

This is a great beginner book about India. It starts out with a geography lesson, telling about how populated the country is and about the capital city, transportation and languages. It talks about names and family titles, money and entertainment. There are, of course, pages about the Taj Mahal, food, sports and religion. As with all the books in this series, there is a pronunciation guide in the back, which we really used a lot!

If You Were Me and Lived in... Turkey: A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World, Volume 4

This is a beginner book about Turkey for kids. It starts out with a geography lesson, and about the capital city and it’s history and culture. It talks about names and family titles, money and the Hagia Sophia. There are, of course, pages about the food, sports and household items are mentioned as well. There is a page about the holiday, Children’s Day, which my son has decided we have to celebrate with them. As with all the books in this series, there is a pronunciation guide in the back.

If you were me and lived in... Mexico: A Child's Introduction to Cultures Around the World


This is a great beginner book about Mexico for kids. It starts out with a geography lesson, and about the capital city and it’s history. It talks about names and family titles, money and the Mayan history and heritage. There are, of course, pages about the food, sports and household items are mentioned as well. As with all the books in this series, there is a pronunciation guide in the back.

The other countries available in the If You Were Me and Lived In...series are Kenya, Norway, Australia, France and South Korea. I have been using the series along with our Little Passports and homeschool curriculum to further my sons studies of geography and culture. My boys have really enjoyed every book we have read in this series as well as the Captain No Beard series. There is also an additional No Beard book titled Captain No Beard: Strangers on the High Seas. All these books are available on Amazon.com as paperback and Kindle editions as well as at BarnesandNoble.com as paperback editions.

I received a free copy of the books for the purpose of a review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Book Review: Schools in Crisis

Schools In Crisis
By Nicole Baker Fulgham
Zondervan, 2014
English, 96 pgs

IT'S A SOCIAL PROBLEM THAT CAN BE SOLVED. Schools in Crisis is for parents, mentors, and friends who want kids to succeed. Five simple numbers to determine your future. In many ways, America's children are at the mercy of their zip code. They are either raised in a zip code zoned for a public school with quality education or a public school with poor education. This education will set the trajectory for their future---for better or for worse. Educational inequity is one of the biggest social problems of our time. But it can be fixed within our lifetime. And each of us, whether we have school-aged children or not, has a role to play. Schools in Crisis is part of the FRAMES series - short yet meaningful reads on the top issues facing us in today's complex culture. A new kind of book brought to you by Barna Group, to help you read less, and know more.

Millions of children are not fulfilling their God-given potential in many of our nation’s classrooms. Their potential and purpose is literally being left on the floor of classrooms in many low-income communities. What may God have called them to do? How will a substandard education possibly prohibit them from accomplishing that purpose? In what ways are Christians and churches accountable for that? How are we our brother and sister’s keeper with respect to a quality education?

Join Nicole Baker Fulgham, formerly on the national staff of Teach for America and the founder of The Expectations Project, as she explores what our role is in solving the nation’s crisis for public education. This Barna Frame explores a critical topic of our time – Schools in Crisis

This is a very concise and clearly written compilation of results from the Barna Group's research on public schools. There are easy to read graphics throughout the book. The author is writing from a Christian perspective, yet it encourages readers of all faiths to get involved in the school system. It's obviously in need of attention. And not just from parents with kids enrolled. It tackles a sticky topic of "armchair educators", meaning those who look at it and think they know what it best but aren't willing (or able) to do anything about it. It basically tells you to get up and do something about it if you think you know what it needs. A little harsh, but pretty accurate.

I have a 1st grader in a public school and as good as our school seems to be, he just isn't happy. He isn't being allowed to learn at his own pace. The perception I have is that the kids all need to be "the same" and being "smarter" or "a better learner" isn't allowed. Why can't kids achieve? There's nothing wrong with it and making them adhere to the common core standards and the state testing standards doesn't allow learning "beyond the test".

I received a copy of the book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Book Review: A Sensible Arrangement

A Sensible Arrangement
By Tracie Peterson
Bethany House, 2014
English, 336 pgs

Marty Dandridge Olson is ready to leave behind the pain of the past.
Answering an advertisement for a "Lone Star bride," she leaves her Texas ranch and heads to Denver to marry a man she doesn't know.

Jake Wythe is the man waiting for her.
Burned by love, he marries now simply to satisfy the board of Morgan Bank, which believes a man of his standing in society should be wed. Together Jake and Marty agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience.

When missing money and a collapsing economy threaten his job, Jake's yearning to return to ranching grows ever stronger, much to Marty's dismay. But a fondness has grown between them, as well, further complicating matters.

What will happen when their relationship shifts in unexpected ways...and dreams and secrets collide?
This is the first book in the Lone Star Brides series from Peterson. It's also her 100th novel. I have read many of her books and I mostly liked this one. I thought it took a little while to get going with the story line. I didn't really like that Marty is lying to her family and then Jake. I understand that she's "mad" at God regarding her first husband but that doesn't mean you lie to everyone. I liked the main characters and even though they had their faults, they're still well developed and their characters progresses through the book in a satisfactory manner.
I liked the secondary characters in the book as much as the primary. Alice is a sweet character who guides Marty, even though she's much younger, back into a relationship with God. The housekeeper and butler were a hoot! I guess I've watched too much Downton though because I saw Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson in my mind as I was reading it.

I felt like parts of it were left hanging. The problems at the bank and the mystery surrounding Alice, for example. The ranch. I don't know if these are plot lines for upcoming books or what, but it was kinda disappointing to feel like I read half of the story.

My biggest problem with the book is that there really isn't much interaction with Marty and Jake. Obviously we know what the end result is going to be, but I wanted more of the "how did they fall in love" to the story. Did she even like the flowers he was taking her? Did they go out to dinners? Did they talk beyond the breakfast table or in the study?

I received a copy of the book from Bethany House for a review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Book Review and Blog Tour: Betting the Rainbow

Betting the Rainbow
By Jodi Thomas
Berkley, 2014
English, 304 pgs

Amazon Product Description:
Sisters Abby and Dusti Delaney have spent their entire lives on Rainbow Lane, but they dream of something bigger. So when a poker tournament comes to town, Dusti is determined to win enough money to leave. Enlisting expert Kieran O’Toole to teach her the game, sparks begin to fly as they play their hands. But Kieran refuses to stand in the way of her dream, even if it means losing her forever...

After a year of traveling, Ronny Logan is settling into a home on Rainbow Lane, but that’s all the settling she’ll be doing. Ronny refuses to fall for anyone, regardless of the chemistry she has with her neighbor Austin Hawk. Yet something undeniable begins to grow between the two loners—if only they can let their barriers fall and open their hearts...

Author Biography:
New York Times and USA Today's bestselling author Jodi Thomas has published over 30 books in both the historical romance and contemporary genres, the majority of which are set in her home state of Texas. Publishers Weekly calls her novels "Distinctive...Memorable," and that in her stories "[tension] rides high, mixed with humor and kisses more passionate than most full-on love scenes." In 2006, Romance Writers of America (RITA) inducted Thomas into the RWA Hall of Fame for winning her third RITA for THE TEXAN'S REWARD. She also received the National Readers' Choice Award in 2009 for TWISTED CREEK (2008) and TALL, DARK, AND TEXAN (2008). While continuing to work as a novelist, Thomas also functions as Writer in Residence at the West Texas A&M University campus, where she inspires students and alumni in their own writing pursuits.

Publishers Weekly Review of Betting the Rainbow
Jodi Thomas. Berkley, $7.99 mass market (304p) ISBN 978-0-425-26840-7
Thomas knocks it out of the park again with her seventh contemporary set in Harmony, Tex. (after Can’t Stop Believing). Ronny Logan and Austin Hawk are looking for peace out by Rainbow Lane. They both have reasons to crave solitude—he’s recovering from injury, she from grief and a year’s travel—so they’re surprised to enjoy each others company. Ronny also becomes friends with neighbors Dusti and Abby Delaney, sisters who are counting on a poker tournament to make their dreams come true. As Dusti gets poker lessons from flirtatious Kieran O’Toole, tournament organizer Reagan Truman waits for rodeo rider Noah McAllen, her longtime love interest, to “grow up and man up.” Thomas is a master at creating damaged yet appealing characters, and their expressions of love—as siblings, as friends, as partners—are intense and beautiful. Their paths to happiness are interwoven in an intricate tapestry with the tournament as backdrop, combining in an epic tale of the kind of love that lasts forever. (Apr.)


Betting the Rainbow (Harmony) by Jodi Thomas 
Review by Vickie Denney at Reader To Reader
Ronny Logan has returned to Harmony after traveling the world for a year. This was one of the things that her late friend, Marty Winslow, wanted her to do with some of the money he bequeathed her. Ronny will always love Marty, but must start a new life; however, she doesn’t know what to do since she has enough money to last her for forever. Marty’s butler and friend, Mr. Carleon, has stayed in Harmony to help Ronny with any and every thing. While she was away, he leased a cottage for her on Rainbow Lane and it sits on a small lake. There are only three houses in that area. Across the lake the Delaney sisters, Abby and Dusti, have a small farm and raise chickens. Hawk House is on Ronny’s side of the lake and currently is housing Austin Hawk.

Abby had to quit nursing school with only a year to go due to finances after parent’s illnesses. Dusti has entered a local fund raising poker game that sends the winner to Las Vegas to play for a million dollar jack pot. Dusti asks Kiernan O’Toole to teach her the finer points of the game. She hopes to win locally and then win enough in Los Vegas to send Abby back to school. Kiernan will help her but warns her he is also a competitor and he will be hard to beat. The Irishman has loved Dusti forever, it seems, and she is totally unaware…but not for long.

Austin Hawk is also back in Harmony rehabbing from burns and injuries suffered during a fire. He just wants to be left alone, but Fate has other plans for him. The first night that Austin and Ronny meet had this reviewer hee-hawing. A connection is made between these two lost, wounded, and very sad souls, which evolves into a magnificent relationship.

Reagan Truman gives Noah McAllen an ultimatum – her or the rodeo. Noah can’t always run from his responsibilities.

Betting The Rainbow visits so many of the core characters and updates their status. Jodi Thomas has truly outdone herself with this fine, fine story. I know, personally, each and every character in Harmony, Texas and hope to meet many more. They are wonderful, kind, generous, real people with real problems. Be warned that having a box of tissues close by will come in handy. Beautiful stories like Betting The Rainbow don’t come around too often, and reading this tale is like finding a pot of gold.

My Review:
This is far and away my favorite Harmony book. I love the stories in it and I am always happy to return to Harmony.  Ronny has been a favorite character for several books now so I was really happy to see her get a story line in this one as well. A lot of our favorites are back: Martha Q, Reagan and Noah and of course the Biggs brothers. I feel like this one wraps a lot of loose threads from the former books.

The story is centered around two couples, Ronny and Austin and Dusti and Kieran. It takes place outside of the town, so we don't see a lot of the regulars and the usual places (the diner, the funeral home, etc). However, throughout the story, we get to see short snippets of the couples we've visited before.

There is a lot of teasing about the romances and it's really fun to watch Ronny develop as a character. The couples are electric together and totally dysfunctional at the same time! I ran a wide range of emotions as I read it. (And I read it in 3 evenings, did NOT want to put it down!)

There is a preview of the next Harmony book in the back, but it takes place in the past so I'm wondering (and guessing and hoping...) if we're going to go back and see how Harmony came to be in the first place.

I received a copy of the book from the author for the purpose of my review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review. Many thanks to Ms. Thomas for continuing to include me on her blog tours.