Wednesday, March 26, 2014

WINTER PEOPLE by Jennifer McMahon

(I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher)

During the winter months, I tend to find myself drawn to mysteries and suspense novels.  I have never been a horror fan but I love a good ghost story.  THE WINTER PEOPLE seemed like the perfect fireside read.

In 1908, in a small town in Vermont, the body of Sarah Harrison Shea was found in the field behind her house.  Just months after the tragic death of her young daughter.  Pages of Sarah's diary that were found after her death recount what was happening in the days leading up to her murder.  But the last few pages have never been found.

In the present day, 19-yr-old Ruthie lives with her mother and little sister in Shea's former house. The two girls wake up one morning to discover their mother missing.  Ruthie ransacks the house looking for clues and finds a copy of Shea's diary hidden below the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. 

Ruthie's search for her mother and the story revealed through Shea's diary bring the reader into a world of witchcraft and sinister happenings where "walkers" can be brought back from the dead.  Ruthie is joined by other people in her search who are looking for her mother and the missing pages of the diary for their own reasons.

I have not been scared by a book in a very long time.  This one kept me up at night.   It reminded me a little bit of THE SNOW CHILD by Eowyn Ivey although this one is much much darker. There were a few frustrating unanswered questions in the book and I felt the ending was a bit rushed but it was a very enjoyable (if frightening) read.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended for lovers of suspense.  I would not recommend this for the faint of heart. It is very very dark. But I thought it was the perfect read for cold evenings by the fire.  It will definitely stay with me for awhile.

Monday, March 24, 2014

HOW TO LOSE A LEMUR by Frann Preston-Gannon AND GIVEAWAY!!!

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

I love lemurs. They are the most entertaining little creatures and they have gotten only more popular through their appearances in the MADAGASCAR movies.  But they don't often make appearances in children's books.  Lemurs take center stage in this charming new picture book by Frann Preston-Gannon.

(this review contains spoilers)

In the book, we learn that a little known fact about lemurs is that once one takes a liking to you, there isn't much you can do about it. This is how the book begins. A little boy becomes a source of fascination for a lemur. The boy isn't sure he likes this attention and tries to find ways of losing the lemur.  As the book continues, several of the lemur's friends join in following the little boy. No matter what the boy does or where he goes, the lemurs follow. In the end, the boy discovers that it can be really useful to have friends because friends tend to look out for one another. The book ends with the boy having a delightful tickle fight with his five lemur friends.

Children will laugh at the various strategies the boy uses to try and lose the lemurs. My son especially liked how the lemurs followed the boy when he escaped in a boat across the lake.

While there isn't any rhythm, repetition, or rhyme in this particular book, there is plenty to keep little ones interested.  In the tradition of stories like WE'RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT, children get to revisit all the places the little boy went in reverse at the end of the story. And the book has a nice message about friendship and embracing others' differences.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. A charming book that has lots of possibilities for read-aloud interaction.  


1. Count the lemurs.  The lemurs gradually multiply in the story until there are five of them. After all the lemurs have been identified, it can be fun to locate them in each illustration.

2. Discuss other methods of escape. I asked my son where HE would have gone to try and escape the lemurs. He said he would have taken a rocket ship. This can be taken one step further by having children illustrate their methods of escape after reading time is done.

3. Talk about differences and friendship.  Even though the lemurs came on a bit strong in the beginning, they proved to be wonderful friends.

4. Older children may enjoy looking up more about lemurs and identifying the different types present in the story.  Find Madagascar on a map or globe!


Sterling has offered me the opportunity to give away a copy of this adorable book.  
(US Residents Only)

To enter:

1. Leave a comment telling me how YOU would have tried to escape the lemurs! Include a way for me to contact you.

2. "Like" my Facebook page and leave me a comment telling me that you did for an extra entry.

This contest closes on Friday, March 28 at 4:00pm PST.

THE WINNER IS CARRIE!  A new giveaway will be coming soon!