Category Archives: reading
by Kirker Butler
From a producer of Family Guy, a satirical look at a dysfunctional family complete with a stage mom, 9 year-old pageant queen, philandering husband, his girlfriend, and the crazy grandmother.
Miranda Miller’s mission in life is to make sure her nine-year-old daughter, Bailey, continues to be one of the most successful child pageant contestants in the southern United States. Lately, that mission’s been difficult. Bailey has been secretly binge eating to gain weight so Miranda will let her retire; and the reality show Miranda been trying to set up for Bailey (and herself) just went to their biggest rival, Starr Kennedy and her tyrannical stage mother, Theresa.
But Miranda’s got an ace up her sleeve. She’s seven months pregnant with her fourth child, a girl, thank God, and Miranda is going to make damn sure that this one will be a pageant champion, too.
Unbeknownst to her, Miranda’s husband Ray, a nurse with a hobby of popping random pills, has knocked up Courtney, the less than brilliant seventeen-year-old orphan granddaughter of one of his hospice patients. With a wife, a mistress, two jobs, three kids (and two more on the way), a mountain of debt, and no real friends, Ray is desperately hoping his life puts itself back in order.
Meanwhile, the Millers’ two boys are being “homeschooled” by Miranda’s mother, Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann), a well-intentioned widow who spends most of her time playing solitaire and planning a murder with Jesus. Yes, that Jesus.
They’re just your typical dysfunctional American family.
MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Oh my God, this book was so awful in the most amazing way. It tells the story of young Bailey Miller, pageant queen extraordinaire, and her family. Mom Miranda was a queen in her day but pushes bailey to be even better; dad Ray is hardly ever home due to the time he works to cover Bailey’s costs; grandmother Joan believes she has a personal line to Jesus and waits for his command and advice in everything she does. Meanwhile, Bailey has decided she is done with the glamour life and sneaks chocolate bars when she’s supposed to be practicing.
Nearly every character in this book is a huge caricature of someone Southern–and as a Southern lady myself, I recognized each one. Ray is having an affair with a teenager. Miranda is pregnant but that doesn’t stop her from getting in fistfights. I could really go on and on, but I don’t want to ruin your reading experience. Trust me, the more you get to know the Miller family, the better (worse?) they get.
Don’t go into this book thinking it’s all about the pageant scene–actually not much of the story happens at pageants. The family’s dynamics are the heart here.
I would imagine some people will be thrown off or quickly dismiss Pretty Ugly because its’ characters are such ridiculous stereotypes…don’t do this. I promise, you either know or are one of the people in this book, especially if you are a Southerner.
I subtracted one star because there are a few moments that are predictable, and also because sometimes the author goes off on tangents describing the backgrounds of people we don’t really need to know about. The book is a standout, however, one of the most unique I’ve read lately.
About the Author
Kirker Butler is an Emmy nominated writer and producer. His TV credits include Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, and Galavant among others. Kirker grew up in Kentucky, and now lives in Los Angeles with his family.
Believers: Truth in Deception
by Tamara D. Taylor
New Adult Dystopian/Romance
Mary lives in a world of the future where an anti aging drug has torn society apart, creating an insurmountable divide between the wealthy and the poor. Her life is thrown sideways after she receives an unsolicited promotion at work, which leaves her as assistant to one of the most notorious playboys of the wealthy elite.
Mary struggles to find solid footing in a world that drastically conflicts with her humble upbringing. Her moral compass is tested as she finds herself falling in love with a man she knows she should not trust, compromising her relationship with her childhood sweetheart.
After her life is threatened, she fears for her safety and that of her family. Will she be able to guard her own secrets to prevent even further danger? Will death be the consequence of falling in love with the wrong man?
About the Author
Tamara D. Taylor was born and raised in the East Bay of California until she moved to Omaha, Nebraska to attend Creighton University. Today, Tamara still resides in Nebraska where she and her husband, John, are raising their five young children.
A life long lover of all forms of the written word, Tamara is an avid reader, and has been writing short stories and poetry since elementary school. After watching her son struggle with succeeding in school, she decided to finally write the novel she had been thinking about for years in an effort to show her son that no dream is too big to achieve.
Her latest book is the YA, Believers: Truth in Deception.
For More Information
Find out more about Tamara at Goodreads.
Believers: Truth in Deception is available at Amazon.
Green Gooey Goop
by Anna C. Morrison
A little girl is presented with a different sort of a meal when her mom serves her green gooey goop. Interesting and icky ingredients appear one by one as the little girl decides what’s in this noxious-smelling concoction. The little girl creates a flood, and her dog’s fur turns green. Suggested age range for readers: 0-8
This book was written to capture the moment when a child is confronted by healthy food that, while nutritious, may not appear to be delicious. Many children react imaginatively to new foods, and the child in this book is no exception. She envisions the ingredients as other than what her mother describes in the first part of the book in an attempt to get out of eating the food. When she realizes she must eat it anyway, it spills onto the family dog, who may or may not be green forever!
MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
My 6 year old actually loves to eat his greens, so this book was like looking on the other side for us! He thought it was hilarious to name all of the ingredients that the main character believed were in the soup–while mom thought it was kinda gross. I know kids love gross, though, so I can see this book being a big hit with both boys and girls of kindergarten age.
About the Author
Anna C. Morrison is an author of children’s books, including Silly Moments and Green Gooey Goop, with many more to follow. She is also an adjunct professor for multiple colleges and universities, both face-to-face and online. While she instructs various levels of English composition, she also teaches classes on literature, film, feature writing, and technical writing, among others. In addition, she has worked with Adapt Courseware as a writing consultant on three video course projects, including college skills and composition. Anna received her MFA in Writing from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, and her BA in English, Creative Writing, from California State University, San Bernardino. Anna is an active member of SCBWI and is available for book signings. She lives in Southern California with her family and pets.
For More Information
- Visit Anna C. Morrison’s website.
- Connect with Anna on Facebook and Twitter.
- Find out more about Anna at Goodreads.
PURCHASE THE BOOK
- Green Gooey Goop is available at Amazon.
- Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
- Green Gooey Goop is also available at Guardian Angel Publishing.
- Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
by Derek E. Sullivan
Henry “Biggie” Abbott is the son of one of Finch, Iowa ‘s most famous athletes. His father was a baseball legend and his step-dad is a close second. At an obese 300+ pounds though, Biggie himself prefers classroom success to sports. As a perfectionist, he doesn’t understand why someone would be happy getting two hits in five trips to the plate. “Forty percent, that’s an F in any class,” he would say. As Biggie’s junior year begins, the girl of his dreams, Annabelle Rivers, starts to flirt with him. Hundreds of people have told him to follow in his dad’s footsteps and play ball, but Annabelle might be the one to actually convince him to try. What happens when a boy who has spent his life since fourth grade trying to remain invisible is suddenly thrust into the harsh glare of the high school spotlight?
MY THOUGHTS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
At over 320 pounds, Henry Abbott is not only the biggest kid in his high school, he’s also the one made fun of the most. After all, his nickname since childhood has been Biggie–even teachers and his stepdad call him that. But after a fluke at the beginning of the school year that results in him throwing a perfect game of wiffle ball in PE one day, Biggie decides that this will be his year; he will lose weight, be the star pitcher on the baseball team, and finally get the girl he’s been in love with for as long as he can remember, Annabelle.
Biggie makes good progress, but just as it seems he’s within reach of all his dreams, he realizes that you can’t make plans involving other people, because you definitely cannot predict what they will do. Biggie is thrown several curveballs, and it’s up to him to pull himself through if he wants to finish out the year his way.
I have to say that Biggie is one of the single most frustrating characters I have stepped into the shoes of. He complains about how his life is and how people treat him, but he is the only thing in his way most of the time. He makes some decisions I just can’t understand. Just WHY would you tell your dream girl you’ve been stalking her email for the past several years? Even Biggie knows he’s making a mistake as the words leave his mouth. It also takes him much longer than it should to see that the reason he doesn’t have any friends isn’t because he’s overweight; it’s because he’s quite arrogant and gives off the impression that he believes he’s better than everyone else in town.
While I appreciate that Biggie did put in all the hard work that led to his weight loss, I want to state to young readers that in my opinion, the amount of weight loss shown is not realistic. It’s stated that in one month Biggie loses 28 pounds–this should not and will not happen to anyone who’s just cutting calories and exercising, no matter how hard they work. I just don’t want teens who read this book to think that they too can lose that amount of weight in so short a time.
I liked the way the author showed the relationship between Biggie and his younger brother, but I wish I could have seen more between Biggie and his parents. There is a sort of emotional scene between Biggie and his stepdad towards the end of the book, but other than that there’s really not much interaction between he and his parents at all.
If you can get past Biggie’s often Debbie Downer type attitude, there’s a good story here with a very important message. I believe a lot of kids will be able to relate to the main character, and that’s always a very important goal in a YA novel.
About the Author
Derek E. Sullivan is an award-winning reporter and columnist at the Rochester Post-Bulletin in Minnesota. As a reporter, he has written more than 1,000 stories about the lives of teenagers, which he attributes to helping him find his YA voice. He has an MFA from Hamline University and lives in Minnesota with his wife and three sons.
PURCHASE THE BOOK
2x 50$ B&N Gift Cards
3x Signed copies of BIGGIE hardcover
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances
by Neil Gaiman
Horror/Fantasy Short Stories
Multiple award winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman returns to dazzle, captivate, haunt, and entertain with this third collection of short fiction following Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things–which includes a never-before published American Gods story, “Black Dog,” written exclusively for this volume.
In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction–stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013–as well “Black Dog,” a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection.
Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion. In “Adventure Story”–a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane–Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience “A Calendar of Tales” are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year–stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale “The Case of Death and Honey”. And “Click-Clack the Rattlebag” explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.
A sophisticated writer whose creative genius is unparalleled, Gaiman entrances with his literary alchemy, transporting us deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday incandescent. Full of wonder and terror, surprises and amusements,Trigger Warning is a treasury of delights that engage the mind, stir the heart, and shake the soul from one of the most unique and popular literary artists of our day.
MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
I have yet to find a short story collection that I love from start to finish, and Trigger Warning was no exception. I should also add that this book was my first foray into the weird world of Neil Gaiman.
The author provides a lengthy prologue that attempts to explain the idea behind the book’s title, but ultimately I don’t think the title fit well with the book at all.
I found myself more entertained by the stories with a weird twist or something ominous most of all. Here are my faves.
“The Man who Forgot Ray Bradbury.”–A haunting and touching look inside the mind of a man growing old who probably is in the first stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Click Clack the Rattlebag.”–Chilling and quick, a story that reminds you that the worst dangers are most often in the places you’d never suspect.
“Down to a Sunless Sea.”–A bit confusing, but sad and unexpected story that reads like a ghostly tale from New England.
“Feminine Endings.”–Very creepy, a one sided love story that begs for a reread.
The longer stories seemed to drag for me, and I think Gaiman’s magic lies in the way he reveals just enough in his shorter stories to give you the feeling of unease.
It seems that the author can write in several different styles, and that’s certainly commendable. As a whole, the book was not cohesive enough for me, though; but take stories one by one and you can find some amazing tales.
About the Author
Neil Gaiman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books for readers of all ages, and the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Shirley Jackson Award and the Locus Award for Best Novelette for his story “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains.” Originally from England, he now lives in America.
by Paula Stokes
For fans of Gone Girl, I Hunt Killers, and TV’s How to Get Away with Murder.
Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?
When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.
Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called “Captivating to the very end,” Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.
For more information, check out THE OFFICIAL LIARS, INC. WEBSITE.
About the Author
Paula Stokes writes stories about flawed characters with good hearts who sometimes make bad decisions. She’s the author of several YA novels, most recently Liars, Inc. and The Art of Lainey. Her writing has been translated into nine foreign languages. Paula loves kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands She also loves interacting with readers. Find her online at authorpaulastokes.com or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.
PURCHASE THE BOOK:
2 Signed Copies of Liars, INC. by Paula Stokes.
Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to be coordinating a Book Blast (February 17 to 18, 2015) for the second book in “The Maisy Files” mystery chapter book series by Elizabeth Woodrum, “Maisy and the Money Marauder”. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Book 1, you can grab a Kindle copy for FREE from Amazon February 17 and 18, 2015!
About the Book
Title: Maisy and the Money Marauder (The Maisy Files, Book #2) | Author: Elizabeth Woodrum | Publication Date: February 17, 2015 | Publisher: Independent | Pages: 90 | Recommended Ages: 6 to 12
Summary: Lunch money has been stolen at West Valley Elementary, and everyone’s favorite fourth-grade detective in on the case. With a cherry lollipop in hand, her fedora, and her trusty notebook, Maisy steps into her black-and-white mystery world to search for clues. Join Maisy on her quest to unmask a thief in Maisy and the Money Marauder.
PLUS, Grab a FREE Kindle Copy of Book 1, Maisy and the Missing Mice
from Amazon February 17 and 18, 2015.
The Buzz About Book One
“Maisy and the Missing Mice is a fun chapter book featuring a smart and sassy tween girl as the title character; a solid and interesting plot featuring age-appropriate intrigue and suspense; and some terrific writing that carries the reader on a journey as a detective uncovering clues and solving the mystery of who stole the missing mice. I highly recommend this book as a read aloud book for children between the ages of 6 and 10 or for independent readers between the ages of 7 and 12 who love to read mysteries.” ~ Mother Daughter Book Reviews
“Woodrum certainly knows her target audience and does a very nice job with the character development of Maisy. This is an incredibly kid-friendly story that makes a great introduction to the genre of mystery for newly independent readers. It’s a quick page turning read that encourages kids to think outside of the box.” ~ The Children’s Book Review
“The delights from this book start with the cover art and continue with a fun story that is well-written.” ~ 5 Star Review, R. Johnson, Amazon
“My name is Kat. I am 9 years old. I would rate this a five because I like everything about it, the mystery the most. It was fun to read. My favorite part was the mystery and the end. I love this book so much. I think other kids would love it too because it has mystery and most kids would like mystery books. Most mystery books have a good mystery. I would love to read the whole series.” ~ 5 Star Review, Heather A., Amazon
“What an Amazing book. I totally love it. I admire the author dedication for writing an incredible book. While reading this book, it was very clear that author understand kids. I’ve always been an avid reader and this book is one of the best books I have read in 2014. This book grabs my attention from the very start of the book and couldn’t put it aside till I finish it.” ~ 5 Star Review, KristinT, Amazon
“I knew I would love this book simply because I knew it would remind me of the mystery books I read in my childhood. I really love how much trust the teachers and community as a whole put in Maisy. She is well deserving of their admiration as the way she finds clues and finds the mascot for the school is well thought out. This is a story any child would love to read. I hope Maisy continues to solve mysteries…” ~ 5 Star Review, Josh, Amazon
About the Author: Elizabeth Woodrum
Elizabeth Woodrum is an elementary teacher in Ohio. She came to love writing when she was in elementary school, but more recently began writing material for use in her classroom. From that writing, grew the desire to write books for the general population of children and adults alike. The Maisy Files, a children’s series, is the first series that she has published.
As a reader, Elizabeth prefers the fantasy genre, but she enjoys realistic fiction as well. Some of her favorite authors include JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Rick Riordan, Veronica Roth, Suzanne Collins, and Nicholas Sparks. Originally from Indiana, Elizabeth currently resides near Dayton, Ohio with her two pets: a cat named Butterscotch and a dog named Reese Cup.
* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *
Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest ends: March 16, 11:59 pm, 2015
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. 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. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Elizabeth Woodrum and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
The Camelot Kids
by Ben Zackheim
Middle Grade Fantasy
What happens when Merlin tries to save the world with 150 teenage descendants of The Knights of the Round Table?
In The Camelot Kids, Ben Zackheim, author of the bestselling Shirley Link series, tells the exhilarating story of Merlin’s quest to save the modern world by recruiting 150 teenage descendants of The Knights of the Round Table. Getting 150 teenagers to do anything can be tough. Even if you know how to handle them. Merlin has no idea how to handle them.
Luckily, Merlin finds Simon Sharp — a natural leader, but not a big fan of the Camelot myth. In fact, his parents, both obsessed with King Arthur, died in a plane crash on their way to an archaeological dig. So when Merlin tells him that he’s a descendant of Lancelot, King Arthur’s strongest warrior, Simon is skeptical and not receptive in the least. And that’s just the beginning of a story that will leave readers thrilled, wanting more and entirely convinced of the brilliance of Simon Sharp.
In the same way that magic is the code that holds Harry Potter’s world together, chivalry is the code, the foundation and the social dynamic of The Camelot Kids. Chivalry is, in a sense, real-life magic, and it is the real-life code Simon and the other teenagers learn to live by.
MY THOUGHTS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Simon is a 14 year old orphan living in New York City. He lost his parents 2 years ago, when their plane crashed on one of their weird quests to find the lost kingdom of Camelot.
When Simon is one day taken in by his curmudgeonly uncle, he discovers that what his parents were searching for did in fact exist…and Simon is a very important part of it. he is quickly thrown into a world filled with trolls, wizards, dragons, and danger at every turn.
While I enjoyed this story for the most part, it took quite a little while to get off the ground for me. The exciting action and Simon learning the truth about himself doesn’t happen for a while, though intriguing things do pop up in the beginning. There are so many questions that don’t get answered until towards the end of this 500 page book.
Simon himself is not my favorite character in the book. He’s so very serious for a 14 year old, and very very skeptical. Though, I guess perhaps I shouldn’t fault an orphan for being this way. I much prefer Simon’s new wizarding friend Maille Rose. She’s smart, fiery, and has a way of doing what she wants no matter what the consequences. They make very complementary friends.
The author does a great job of making the reader feel as if he or she is entering the magical kingdom of New Camelot at the same time Simon is. It’s an enchanting place where both fun and trouble lurk. You also get to know the cast of characters, and either liking or disliking them right away.
At times I had a bit of trouble keeping up with who was fighting whom, who was the enemy, and who was being betrayed. I feel like as an adult this shouldn’t happen to me with a middle grade book, but there you have it. Hopefully the kids to whom this book is targeted won’t feel the same way.
I would be interested in seeing what the future holds for New Camelot, now that the first book has gotten into the heart of the action.
About the Author
Zackheim’s storytelling chops span TV (Nickelodeon), Games (Sony), Books (Shirley Link) and screenplays (Chester Yang, an Austin Heart of Film Festival semi-finalist script). Parents.com and Edward Hemingway have both highly recommended Shirley Link as a great book for Middle Graders.
Title: The Kingdom Within
Author: Samantha Gillespie
Series: The Kingdom Within Series #1
Genre: YA, Fantasy Romance
Princess Meredith’s eighteenth birthday is fast approaching, but unlike other girls, she is not looking forward to it. Upon her coming of age, she is to marry the prince of Alder, the most powerful kingdom in the world. Though the idea of marriage to a complete stranger is appalling, she knows she has no choice. Without the marriage contract, Stonefall’s alliance with Alder will be lost, and her people will be safe no longer; Theros, King of Talos, has set his eyes of conquest on Stonefall and he wants Meredith dead.
Connor, an elite soldier entrusted with Meredith’s safety, arrives at the palace just as things begin to take a turn for the worst. Together, they will embark on a journey of survival, in which Meredith will find that the only thing she never prepared for was falling in love.
Samantha Gillespie is a creative, helpless romantic who was born in Mexico, where she grew up with her family until they returned to the States at age eleven. An avid reader from a young age, Samantha finally gave into her passion for writing, making her debut with The Kingdom Within.
Samantha considered pursuing a degree in English Literature while in college but despite her family and friend’s encouragement, she opted for a more practical career in Business. Now, with the publication of her first book under her belt, she occasionally hits herself on the head for it. Samantha currently lives in Houston, TX, and besides being a sucker for romance, she has a soft spot for helpless kittens, and all things Pride & Prejudice.
An Angel Torched My Homework & Other Lies
by Miche Sipes
Carrie Philips just wants her junior year at Clement Academy to go smoothly. Sure, it’s the first high school in the nation to integrate Norms like her with the Differents. But the Diffs are just typical teenagers with “tiny” genetic anomalies. They’re not really vampires or werewolves or angels or zombies like you see in old movies. The Diffs just have special dietary needs and some unusual abilities. They’re certainly not dangerous or anything—at least that’s what Carrie has always believed, since her dad is a doctor of Different medicine.
But when several of her fellow students are mysteriously assaulted, cracks form in Carrie’s worldview. Cracks she tries to ignore while defending her friends from anti-Diff backlash and solving the mystery of who’s really behind the attacks. Meanwhile, she’s distracted by two criminally cute guys who both seem to like her (and hate each other). Then Carrie uncovers a bombshell that could forever change how Norms and Diffs see each other. So much for a quiet school year.
About the Author
Miche Sipes wrote her first play at the age of six and has been writing creatively ever since. Well, if you don’t count the occasional decade-long lapse. Miche has lived in Maryland and Florida, but now calls Colorado home. Whenever she’s not writing—or finding ingenious ways to procrastinate like ironing shoelaces or flossing her cat’s teeth—she can be found hiking in the mountains. Then again, there’s a good chance you won’t find her because she’s probably lost.