Archive for July, 2013

CARAMEL’S CAPERS CONTINUED!

Return to Cardamom: Second Book in the Caramel Cardamom Trilogy

Written by Julie Grasso

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The second book of the Cardamom Trilogy is even more intricate than the first one Escape From the Forbidden Planet. A mixture of fantasy, science fiction, intergalactic travel, technology, politics and environmental issues woven together in a complex plot with many twists and turns combined with well-developed characters make this an appealing book for children and adults ages ten and up.

Gabriella “Caramel” Cardamom, is the elfin granddaughter of the King and Queen of Cardamom and the main protagonist. She is already a renowned “tree tender” and is also developing powerful skills as a “healer” like her mother, Arianna. What is a tree tender? The pods of Cardamom which grow on their planet provide the energy source for all the planets of the galaxy. The evil clones known as “Alexanders” have developed a new bio synthetic hybrid stone known as CARDOCRYST. At the beginning of the story, the elves find evidence of sabotage: all the pods of the cardamom crop are lying dead on the rainforest floor. They will not be able to fulfill their power source quota upon which all the planets of their galaxy are dependent. The Intergalactic Council allows King Basil and the elves only ten days to replenish their supplies. Otherwise, they will use the new energy crystal the Alexanders claim to possess. “Caramel” and the elves desperately use their robots to swing through the tree tops harvesting cardamom. The princess uses her beautiful voice to coax the pods with her “mind speak.” This heroine is brave, compassionate, intelligent, soft-hearted, and extremely loyal to her friends.

The battle of good versus evil is far from over. Catastrophe strikes the crop again. Arianna is called to the Elf Sick Bay to heal, while more mischief is afoot. There are kidnappings, mysteries, arrests by Black Ops, medical sabotage, and technological disasters. I warned you that this story has many sub-plots and twists and turns. Let’s just say that the protagonist must use all her mind and healing powers to solve the mysteries and save her friends as well as protect the planets of the galaxy.

Children younger than ten may have difficulty following the rather complex story line. The older child will find many levels of meaning and be equipped to handle the multitude of issues addressed here. Elfin “speak” will delight the young reader; Caramel says she is “gobsmacked” and uses cool expressions like “totally elvo.” The book is a delightful mix of so many elements that adults will not be disappointed.  I am already looking forward to Book Three of the Trilogy.

Return to Cardamom Blog Tour

About Return to Cardamom

Return to Cardamom by Julie Anne Grasso

Title: Return to Cardamom (Caramel Cardamom Trilogy, Book #2)

Author: Julie Anne Grasso

Publisher: Independent

Publication Date: July 17, 2013

Pages: 136 (Paperback)

Recommended Age: 9+

Summary: Life is sweet for Caramel and things are finally getting back to normal. Well, as normal as it can be for a telepathic elf who can train trees and control computers, but she soon finds life on Cardamom is not all cupcakes and apple cider. A saboteur is hiding in the rainforest canopy, and the elves’ precious cardamom export has been wiped out. Caramel is certain it’s another trick of Alexander222 and her Aunt Isabel, but no one will believe her, and the clock is ticking. She must expose the saboteur in time to save the crop or the Elves of Cardamom will lose their livelihood. Caramel won’t rest until her theory is proven. While she is on the hunt, she makes a shocking discovery, one that will change everything.

Purchase

Amazon (US) * Amazon (UK) * Amazon (Canada)

The Buzz About Book 1: Escape From the Forbidden Planet

Escape from the Forbidden Planet by Julie Anne Grasso“Julie Anne Grasso has created an action-packed story featuring a range of interesting and imaginative characters (i.e., elves, the Alexanders, and other creatures), intergalactic travel, advanced medical and scientific technology, and complex environmental and conservation issues. Escape From the Forbidden Planet contains an intricate plot which slowly unfolds until you’re hooked and you are left on the edge of your proverbial seat wondering what will happen next.” ~ Mother Daughter Book Reviews, 5 Stars

It’s part geeky, part science, and part fun, all brought together to become this awesome book called Escape From The Forbidden Planet. I would recommend this book to reading age kids and adults who like sci-fi kids books. Definitely something different. I really enjoyed reading it!” ~ Michael S., Amazon, 5 Stars

“I loved this book. Super great series for middle graders. I loved Caramel. She has a great attitude and determination. I really admired how she was focused on getting home, saving her family but also made the best of being stuck on an alien planet. Definitely a book with great role models for kids. I really hope there is more to come where this came from. Kids need books like this with catchy stories, solid characters who have good values that they can relate to.” ~ Unorthodox Mama, Goodreads, 5 Stars.

*** Get your FREE COPY of Escape From the Forbidden Planet by Julie Anne Grasso July 17 to 21, 2013. Available for 99 cents after July 21, 2013. ***

Amazon (US) * Amazon (UK) * Amazon (Canada)

About the Author

Julie Grasso - Author Julie Anne Grasso is an Australian author with a background in paediatric nursing. She spent many years literally wrapping children in cotton wool. Every day she witnessed great courage and resilience from the tiny people she cared for, which inspired her to write stories about a little girl elf just like them. Add in some very funky technology, her love of science fiction and desire to impart great values through her little girl elf named Caramel and there you have it, the Adventures of Caramel Cardamom Trilogy was the result.

Julie lives in Melbourne with her husband Danny and their little elf Giselle. Most days she can be found sipping chai lattes, chasing a toddler, and dreaming up wonderful worlds that often involve consumption of cupcakes.

Book Website: http://www.julieannegrassobooks.com/

Author Blog: WhenIgrowupIwannawriteakidsbook

Facebook page: Julie Anne Grasso Books

Twitter: @Jujuberry37

Goodreads Author: Julie Anne Grasso

Return to Cardamom Blog Tour Schedule (2013)

July 17

Mother Daughter Book Reviews (Launch & Review)

The Wise Owl Factory Book a Day (Review)

Jemima Pett (Review)

July 18

Amanda’s Books and More (Review)

Tales of a Bookworm (Review)

InkSpired: A Blog (Review)

July 19

Sher-A-Hart (Review)

This Kid Reviews Books (Review)

July 20

Fiona Ingram (Review)

swlothian | author (Review)

A Library Mama (Review)

July 21

Imagineer – ing (Book Spotlight)

Stanley and Kristina (Review)

July 22

Published Bestsellers (Author Interview)

The Jenny Evolution (Review)

July 23

Word Spelunking (Guest Post)

Stitch Says (Author Interview)

July 24

Nik’s Picks Book Reviews (Review)

R.K. Grow- reading.writing.blogging. (Author Interview)

Diane Estrella @That’s What I’m Here For… (Review)

July 25

Guiltless Reading (Review)

July 26

Kid Lit Reviews (Review)

BeachBoundBooks (Review)

July 27

Mel’s Shelves (Review)

Learning and Growing the Piwi Way (Review)

July 28

My Devotional Thoughts (Author Interview)

Daisha Korth Books (Review)

July 29

Fiona Ingram (Author Interview)

Published Bestsellers (Review)

Bookworm for Kids (Review)

July 30

Nayu’s Reading Corner (Guest Post)

Stitch Says (Review)

July 31

Cheryl Carpinello’s Writing Pages (Guest Post)

Nayu’s Reading Corner (Review)

Barbara Ann Mojica’s Blog (Review)

*** Return to Cardamom Blog Tour Giveaway ***

Return to Cardamom by Julie Anne GrassoAmazon $50 Gift Card

Prize: One winner will receive a copy (print in U.S./Canada & e-copy interntionally) + a $50 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash

Contest runs: July 17th to August 7th, 11:59 pm, 2013

Open: WW

How to enter: Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send us an email!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

MIND GAMES

A Diamond in my Pocket: Book One of The Unaltered Series

Written by Lorena Angell

 

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Calli Courtnea is leading a fairly ordinary teen life in Ohio when one day she is whisked off to a new world that is anything but ordinary. She has always been an independent spirit, but Calli is somewhat a bright loner unwilling to give in to peer pressure. Recently, she has joined the school track team. On this day, she has broken both the world and the school record in the 100 meter race. Strange thing about all of  this; Calli has no idea how this happened! A beautiful woman named Mrs. Winter convinces Calli and her parents that she should attend a training camp for Olympic hopefuls in Montana. So Calli is transported there immediately.

What an eerie place she finds! Most of the athletes are younger than her sixteen years. They do not welcome her. She is ignored and taunted by them as a “muck,” which means slow runner. When Mrs. Winter calls her into her office, things get even worse. Calli is informed that she has been summoned here not to train for the Olympics, but because she has been granted special powers by cosmic rays that travel through the universe and altered her at birth. The children who are Runners have been chosen to transmit important communications. There are two other groups that have been given special powers, the Healers and the Seers.  Not much time passes before Calli finds out that she has been assigned with two other teams of Runners to rescue three of their own members who have been held hostage by the Shadow Demons.  These powerful spirits lurk outside in the night and possess the ability to rip you to death instantly. Why does Mr. Bates choose her to hold the Diamond in her pocket that will be the ransom to secure the hostages? Calli is mystified.

Because she is the slowest runner, Calli needs to be assisted by Justin or Chris who are much quicker than she. Calli has been developing a crush on Chris who, at first, appears to be much older and wiser than the others. Once on the journey Calli finds out that her powers are growing exponentially. She also  possesses the power of a Healer and like the Seers is able to peer into the future and know its outcome. Calli becomes confused and frightened as she is able to scare off her enemies and safeguard her fellow teammates. She will learn that when she uses her powers; she must respect the boundaries of nature and that she cannot impose her will upon others.

Will Calli and the Runners be successful in rescuing their friends and foiling the plans of the Shadow Demons? Does Calli succeed in learning how to use her powers in this strange new world or will she be able to control them and return to her world on earth? Teens will identify with themselves and their peers in the challenges that these well developed characters must face. The dialogue is well written with many twists and turns in the plot that definitely hold the reader’s interest. Good beginning to a new series.

SLIPPING AND SLIDING AWAY

Leaf and the Long Ice: Volume 3 of Twig Stories

Written by Jo Marshall

Illustrated by D.W. Murray

LeafandlongicepicThis book is volume three of the twig stories. Jo Marshall writes them to develop an understanding of the natural world. She successfully combines adventure storytelling with accurate science in an attempt to encourage an appreciation for the earth and preservation of our environment.. Her target audience is fourth grade through the elementary school years though adults will enjoy them just as much.

The twigs live in a forest at the base of an old volcano which is topped by a glacier. At the beginning of the story we meet Leaf who has been placed in charge of his younger twig brothers while his parents and older sister Fern are away.  The twins named Buddy and Burka plead for a story. Leaf tells them about one of their father’s adventures which inspires them to sneak away so that they can play in the snow. When Leaf  falls asleep, they make their break and the adventure begins.

Along the way the twins encounter many forest creatures, beaver, rabbits, goats, foxes, pike, insects, eagles and caribou among them. Some are friendly and supportive; others are natural predators. The moth provides a ride, while the eagle looks at them as a tasty meal. Leaf ventures after his brothers so the author is really describing two separate fantasy adventures. The twins  slip and slide, hide in caves, and  are attacked by natural enemies, while Leaf frets about them and experiences his own adventures. The author shows the harmony of nature and how the creatures of earth need to support and aid each other for mutual benefit.

At the end of the book, Marshall gives cameos of the types of wildlife that she features as her characters and sketches what their needs are and how they are endangered today. Murray, who has worked with Disney and Universal Studios as an illustrator and screenwriter, supplies beautiful hand drawn illustrations. Marshall donates a portion of sales to wildlife causes and provides additional learning materials on her website www.twigstories.com.

This series furnishes reading entertainment for children and adults as well as accurate scientific environmental information that teachers and parents will find valuable. Read this volume to get started.

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BOISTEROUS BLUCY – PREVIEW AND DISCOUNT

Blucy

Written by: Julia Dweck

Illustrated by: Erika LeBarre

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I am excited to post a preview of Julia Dweck’s newest e book to be officially released on August 13, 2013. This time around Ms. Dweck has teamed with Erika LeBarre to produce a short sweet tale in verse about a very strange kitten.

The story begins with Mandy, the only other character, visiting the local shelter in search of just the right cat. Her eyes set upon Blucy, peacefully curled up in sleep. Mandy falls in love with her and adopts the kitten. But Blucy proves to be quite cantankerous and obstinate. She refuses to eat and drink. In fact, she disappears whenever it is time to eat. The only thing she eats are blue jellybeans! Blucy possesses a unique talent. This cat turns blue whenever she is excited or feels moody. Blucy chooses to camouflage herself by blending in with all things blue. What havoc Blucy wreaks!. She destroys the curtains, birthday gifts, and draws on walls with blue crayons. The kitten shreds all the clothes in the laundry pile. Poor Mandy is at her wit’s end. The playmate that she hoped to have causes nothing but trouble. Then one day, Mandy discovers a secret that will allow Blucy to eat and even want to come home at night to play with her. You will have to read the book to find out how Mandy accomplishes this feat.

This book is approximately twenty pages with full screen images and pop up the text. The illustrations portray such lively animation that you will think you are in the story. Mandy has a unique, almost multicultural appearance, and Blucy’s eyes will mesmerize you. There are two bonus features included at the end of the story, a hidden picture puzzle for younger readers and a page of amazing cat facts for the older reader. Children four and older as well as adults will enjoy the clever four line verse on each page. The rhymes make it fun to read aloud.

You can reserve a copy online on Amazon before the release date and receive a 20% discount. Just use the link http://ow.ly/n1BHT   ENJOY!

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A CAT’S CHRISTMAS TALE

The City Kittens and the Old House Cat

by: Mrs.D.

Illustrated by Mike Motz

 

The City Kittens and the Old House Cat

Okay, so it’s only July….why are we talking about Christmas? Well, this charming children’s book was just released about a somewhat cantankerous old cat who is forced to celebrate Christmas with a relative’s city kittens.

This is a new book written by Mrs.D. She has previously released, Carlo the Mouse on Vacation and The Trees Have Hearts. In this charming book, the old house cat named Nyda feels out of her comfort zone because this year some new intruders have appeared to celebrate Christmas with the family.

Nyda is accustomed to the hustle and bustle that the Christmas season brings along with the sometimes annoying visitors who come to disrupt her peaceful lifestyle. Normally she can retreat to her secret lookout spots and watch from afar. She eagerly gazes at the sparkling tree and nostalgically remembers the ornament given her the first Christmas that Nyda spent with Mrs. D. Nyda loves the holiday goodies that she bribes Grandma to feed her. Unfortunately, this year when the oldest daughter came home to visit, she brought with her a box with two kittens. These two rambunctious kittens are annoying Nyda. When the kitten named Jack goes after her food, she reaches her wit’s end! Then we are introduced to the story of how these two little kittens came to be adopted . Now Nyda feels ashamed and contrite. What was it that changed her mind about them and why?

The tale is one of a close and loving family sharing holiday traditions and memories as well as a first person narration by a beautiful cat who thinks and acts like she is human. The reader is given a glimpse into the life of a beautiful family with a big heart. This story is written with compassion and warmth. The illustrations are dramatic and vivid. Some of them look more like portraits. These complement the book’s story line well even though my personal preference is for softer images. This book is a nice addition to a family holiday reading library for both adults and children. It is available in hardcover, paperback and e book additions.

 

 

BUS STOP STORIES

Just Monkeying Around: Best of Funny Things I Heard at the Bus Stop Series plus new story featuring Mopsy Monkey

By Angela Giroux

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Phew! That was quite a mouthful for a title. This book packs quite a punch. It includes several stories from Giroux’s bus stop series. It also features an introduction to the new series featuring the Mopsy Monkey character. On top of that, the author is offering a free copy of Goblins in the Garden if the purchaser signs up for her newsletter.

These stories are quite amusing for both children and adults. They are quirky, but definitely not slapstick funny. I can’t feature all of them so I decided to give an overview of three of them as well as introduce the Mopsy character.

In A Visit From Nonna Esmeralda, we meet twins Aidan and Hayden who are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their grandmother who lives in Italy and whom they have never met. Nonna has traveled the world and is certainly not your conventional grandmother. Aidan is sitting at the table eating breakfast when suddenly the bowl of cereal goes flying all over the place including the face of Nonna, who has just entered the room. The family watches as Nonna opens her suitcase full of presents. Hayden receives a Egyptian pyramid that contains a secret compartment for a mummy; this is really appropriate because he wants to be an archaeologist when he grows up. Aidan patiently waits his turn. He is sorely disappointed when he receives an old cracked bowl. But Nonna assures him that it has magic powers! He can use it to wish himself anywhere he wants to go. His first wish is to visit the mall. Will this really work? Is this how Nonna has been able to travel all over the world?

My Alien Friend features a boy named Ethan playing in his backyard with his alien space toys when an alien space ship lands. A Green boy who calls himself Gorp uses a green light to perform magic. He swirls all of Ethan’s toys off the shelf. They start playing among themselves. Gorp suggests that they play dress up, but all the clothes wind up lying in a heap on the floor. They proceed to the kitchen. I think you can imagine what happens next. Ethan’s mother has not yet met Gorp. He and Ethan have been having a great time, but will there be a price to pay? Will Gorp decide to stay on earth with his new found friend?

Bob is an average kid who loves playing with his friends. Perhaps he does enjoy eating sweets a bit too much. The Pimple is the title of his story. One day Bob notices a red patch on his cheek which is rapidly becoming a bump. He is not upset, but feels rather proud that he is growing up. He puts on his black pants and blue striped dress shirt. His mom ruins his mood when she covers the pimple with makeup because she mistakenly thinks that he is dressing up for picture day at school. When Anna, the girl he likes, stares at him he is elated.  Then he discovers that she is grossed out because the pimple has grown to the size of a marble with yellow pus oozing out of it! As the day goes on, things get progressively worse. There is a twist and a surprise ending.

At the end of the book, Giroux introduces us to Mopsy Monkey, her new character. She is a charming little girl monkey who sets forth on her first adventure. Her mother allows her to go alone to collect frazzle berries, but she must be careful. On the journey, Mopsy meets a frog and a crocodile. Her mother has warned her about trusting strangers; now she has to make a choice. Should she take a chance and trust these strangers? Will she succeed in proving herself to her mother or will she be a failure? Just the beginning of a new series of books.

These books will appeal to children of all ages. Parents of young children can select one or two stories to read aloud.  They make good early reading books for children ages six through eight. The topics and characters vary so they will appeal to both boys and girls. Take a look and see!

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WAR AND PEACE

History for Kids: The Sioux

by Charles River Editions

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This children’s history is a reminder of the constant struggles and accommodations that took place among the Sioux as the white settlers pushed further into their territory. In this approximately fifty page volume, the editors describe the tribal structure, the Sioux leaders, the army leaders, and major confrontations between the two groups.

Trouble first began in 1849 when gold was discovered. Two years later the American government offered the Sioux tribes money for allowing the settlers to pass through Native American lands. As whites began to settle down on their lands, disputes followed. Things got worse when the railroad was built and more army forts followed to protect white settlers.

The US government divided the Sioux into “Treaty and Non-Treaty Indians.” The distinction meant little because the tribes were decimated by disease or forced to live on reservation land chosen by the Americans and act appropriately according to the white man’s standards. Both sides broke their promises.

I found the discussion of Sioux history and tribal structure particularly interesting. Originally Sioux tribes farmed squash and beans. When weather did not permit that, they hunted animals for meat and ate wild berries. They eventually came to rely on the buffalo both as food and a sacred animal. As early as the 1760’s they began trading for horses and learned to ride them. Sioux used a travois, which is a triangular wooden frame, to transport their goods and possessions. These were pulled by dogs at first but later by horses. They also used their horses to trade for items they could not make like iron goods. The leaders of the tribes were named Naca Ominicia. These men decided when and where to hunt, make camp or declare peace and war.

The history describes the three major wars between the Sioux and the Americans: the Dakota War in 1862, Red Cloud’s War 1866-68, and the Black Hills War 1876-77. One of the most famous battles in American history took place in 1876. Two years before, gold was discovered in the Black Hills. The Americans tried to buy back the land they had previously given to the Sioux in a peace treaty. They refused. Soldiers moved in and the Sioux allied with the Cheyenne. On June 21, General Custer led troops of the 7th Cavalry along the Little Bighorn River. The Native Americans surprised them killing 250 soldiers and wounding 50. But the Native Americans soon tired of fighting as more troops were sent in and one year later Crazy Horse was arrested and killed. His father retrieved his body, but no one knows where Crazy Horse is buried. Sitting Bull took his people to Canada, but they could not survive the cold winters. He joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show for a time but was eventually killed by American soldiers. The last confrontation took place in 1890 when more than 350 Sioux, mostly women and children were massacred by the cavalry at Wounded Knee.

If you read the history, you will find many more details about the leaders on both sides. You will discover the tragedies that the two groups had to endure. This book is written in clear simple language with few errors appropriate for ages seven plus. Children will gain a fair amount of knowledge. Real photographs and portraits enhance the text. Teachers and homeschooling parents will find it relevant to many studies of people and places of mid to late nineteenth century America and a good starting point for many discussions and comparisons in American history.

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