Sunday, September 30, 2012

Feature: Vintage Ladybug Farm by Donna Ball

I hope you are all having a beautiful Sunday! 

Tomorrow, Vintage Ladybug Farm, a charming story by Donna Ball, will be officially released. I was lucky enough to work with Donna on this book, and I absolutely fell in love. Donna will be by tomorrow, October 1st, for a little Q&A, so be sure to come by and learn more about her and the Ladybug Farm series.

Vintage Ladybug Farm
by Donna Ball
Published October 1, 2012 Blue Merle Publishing
Available Format: Paperback, ebook

My Rating: ★★★★★

Cici, Lindsay, and Bridget and their assorted friends are back. In Vintage Ladybug Farm, the ladies make a New Year’s resolution to work to open their very own winery. Taking advantage of the fantastic resources at their fingertips, they set to work, only to, naturally, hit many roadblocks along the way. Come along with the girls as they navigate the twists and turns of life’s road and find out if their dreams really do come true.

I don’t get a chance to read a lot of women’s fiction, but I do really enjoy it, and the same can be said for Vintage Ladybug Farm.  This is my first venture into the world of the ladies of Ladybug Farm, and I have to say I immediately wanted to pack my bags, stick my own rocking chair on that porch, and move in.  I mean, Ida Mae’s cooking is the big draw, right?

Ladybug Farm makes me think of home. The home I grew up in. No, we didn’t have a big farm or a winery, but we had the feelings of being close to our family and friends. We had fresh food straight out of the garden. We had wide-open spaces and forests to explore. It was cozy; it was comfortable. It was home. That’s what Ladybug Farm reminds me of, and I miss it.

This novel brought a couple films to mind. A Walk in the Clouds and Bottle Shock kept popping up as I went along.  I think the older, post-war movie represents the more romantic side of the whole vineyard, countryside aspect, and Bottle Shock tilts more toward the humor and real-life aspects.  Obviously, both films are about struggling wineries.  But, Ladybug Farm brings it’s own stories and unique charm that will have readers hanging on from page one and wanting more when it’s over.

I absolutely cannot wait to check out Donna’s other books, particularly in the Ladybug Farm series, and I plan to share them all with my mother, who I know will love them as well!

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow for Donna's interview!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers

Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy TinkletrousersCaptain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers by Dav Pilkey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My seven-year-old has just gotten interested in these books, and this was our first. In the beginning I was a little irritated because the "comic book" part is written by the kindergarteners and, of course, the spelling and punctuation is ALLL wrong. Yes, as an editor, it makes me crazy. But, when I let myself move past that (somewhat), I found this is really a cute story and it teaches a lot of good lessons along the way.
Harold, one of the main characters, doesn't really have any friends and is picked on by Kipper, the school bully. George, the new kid in town, comes to Harold's rescue and they become the best of friends. Together, they create comics--George is the writer and Harold is the illustrator. I think this is an awesome way to teach kids about bullying, friendship, and encouraging the strengths of others and working together to bring out the best in everyone.
Aside from the grammatically irritating comic portions, this book is very well written and very entertaining for all ages. I love the way the author tosses in things like sarcastically, slippery sabertooth (that's my own phrase, but you get the idea). I felt like my son was appropriately challenged in his reading (this book is a couple levels above his ZPD), but he didn't become bored with the material. It is fantastic to have a longer chapter book with illustrations or basically every page. And he loved the flipbook portions as well.
Very cute! I definitely recommend it, and we'll be checking out the other Captain Underpants books soon!

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu "Tomb of the Fangpyre"

Today's review proves that you just never know what you're going to find here at Gathering Leaves! :-)  But that just means there'll always be a little something for everyone, right?

Ninjago Graphic Novels #4: Tomb of the FangpyreNinjago Graphic Novels #4: Tomb of the Fangpyre by Greg Farshtey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My seven-year-old is all about some Ninjago these days, and while I know very little about the series, that's okay. He picked up this graphic novel at the book fair this week, and we tucked in to read it together last night.
I know I'm getting old, but holy smokes, the font in this book is SO tiny and difficult to read. I couldn't see the punctuation at all, which made reading aloud an adventure. Also, anything on the insides of the pages was eaten up in the spine of the book. There was definitely some bad planning involved in the layout.
The story itself was good. I mean, I'm no seven-year-old boy, but it had a clear beginning, middle, and ending with a climax and a resolution, so at least it made sense. The ninja are really funny, and I can see some subtle life lessons that can be taught through their stories--especially through the sage wisdom of Sensei Wu (oh, crap, I'm calling them by name now!).
At any rate, if not for the formatting issues, I would probably have given this a 5-star rating, not because I just loved it, but because it was sufficiently entertaining for my son. :-) I love hearing him read no matter what the subject matter is...

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cover Reveal - The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw, a Morgan Sisters Novel by Suzy Turner

The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw, a Morgan Sisters novel by Suzy Turner

Adopted sisters Lana Beth and Emma Jane are polar opposites, but when the same strange 'tattoo' suddenly appears and winds its way up their bodies within days of each other, they realise there's more to their relationship than they could ever have imagined. 
Sent off to London for two weeks of work experience, the Morgan Sisters soon find themselves being initiated into the ancient Praxos Foundation, one that protects the innocent while fighting evil, both human and supernatural.
At the same time, Lana Beth and Emma Jane must also investigate why the sweet but sometimes pesky ghost of Josiah Grimshaw just won't leave them alone.

The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw is due to be released on November 14, 2012.