Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Wimpy Review and Giveaway

The only way you wouldn't know about the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is if you are:

A. Living under a rock
B. Living in North Korea
C. Dead

Seeing as how you are reading my blog on the internet which isn't available under rocks, in North Korea, or in the afterlife; you MUST know what I am talking about!

Evan and I had the amazing chance to get one of his own Wimpy Kid books signed by the author, Jeff Kinney, yesterday. Even more spectacular was the opportunity for us to board Jeff's tour bus for an intimate interview with a few other blogger children!

These are the kinds of opportunities that turn me from "Mommy" into ROCK STAR.

Man, I love my job.

 Evan was initially a little bummed that he didn't have the newest of the series: The Third Wheel.

"Mama, can we buy the new one so that Jeff Kinney can sign that one, too?"

Well, that just SPOILED the surprise that there was a review copy of the newest book in the mail!

Read on below to see how you can win one of the Wimpy Kid books, too!
 With Mr. Kinney! How cool!
 In shock after the signing...
 Waiting to board the tour bus with Vanessa's and Emily's kids...
Evan:  "Where did you get the idea for Rodrick?"

Jeff Kinney: "A little bit is modeled after my older brother, but mostly Rodrick is just what I think a lot of teenage boys are like."

True dat, Jeff...
 Even Greg was there!
And really? Despite all of his flaws; who doesn't love Greg Heffley?

Want to win the newest book?

Don't own any of them and want to start your own collection for a cool kid in your life?

Missing one of the series and need to complete the set?

All you have to do is enter a comment below, telling me which of the 7 Diary of a Wimpy Kid books you would choose if your name is chosen! THAT'S IT!

To receive an extra entry, Tweet the following statement and comment again with your twitter handle:

"I would love to win a @wimpykid book from @justanothermom at: "

Winner will be chosen via on Dec 2nd.
Open only to US residents over 18 years of age. (Sorry, Canada...)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Piles and Piles of Books for Your Kids!

 So, um, I got on Harper Collins Publishers mailing list for book reviews...
 ...and I have never been quite so honored. As a homeschooling mom of 3, books are always in high demand in our home. I will try to keep on top of as many of the books as I possibly can, but holy moly, there are so many that we love! I will be breaking the books into groups of reviews. I hope you find something that appeals to one of your children as my own family has benefited greatly!
 First up is Invisible Inkling - Dangerous Pumpkins by Emily Jenkins. This was perfect for my first grader who has a reading comprehension well above her average age range. Do you know how hard it is to find engaging chapter books for a 7 year old that are age-appropriate? This is the second story about Inkling, an invisible pet that gets his boy into all sorts of trouble (as invisible pets tend to do).

We give this story an A. It is appropriate as a read-aloud for your kindergarten through 5th graders (my own 5th grader enjoyed the story, too!)
 The Turning by Francine Prose is nowhere near as spooky as the jacket cover leads you to believe. It's marketed towards the teen age bracket, but I would say that most teens would find it a little slow. However, a 10-12 year old might enjoy the idea that they were reading a "teen book" and their parents would appreciate that it's not too scary and has nothing inappropriate for their ages. (i.e. no sex, violence, etc.). It tells the story of a junior in high school who goes away for a summer job on a strange island. Through a series of letters he writes to his girlfriend and father, we learn how the story unfolds.

I read this book in about 2 hours while waiting for gymnastics to be over. It was a decent story, but not my absolute favorite.

I'd give it a B-...
 Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon really intrigued me. It has a complicated storyline about a runaway foster child and a neglected "rich kid" who find themselves enmeshed in a fast-paced, modern-day political and technological thriller. Best part of this? It's TOTALLY appropriate for teens! All of the intrigue of an adult mystery without ever going above a kid's head (or delving into sex or adult activities). THANK YOU, Ms. Gagnon. I loved this book, though the ending left me wanting more... I suppose that is an author's prerogative, eh?

I give Don't Turn Around an A-
Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard was AWE.SOME. I was captivated from the first few pages and didn't put it down for 2 days. It follows Eleanor Fitt, a young woman in high society of the late 1800's whose family has fallen into financial distress. To further complicate matters, the dead folks in the world just won't stay, well, DEAD. Especially in her hometown of Philadelphia. Between the zombies and World Fair and forbidden romance, I fell in love with the story and characters and was REALLY TICKED OFF when it was over. I mean, seriously? Hoping for a second book, Ms. Dennard!

I give this book an A!
Fang Girl by Helen Keeble initially turned me off because I instantly thought "Another vampire teen book? Blech." But it was SO funny and interesting! Seriously. In fact, part of the ironic theme is that the main character is a teen who was fascinated with the vampire culture of the 21st century becomes a vampire herself. :) I love that Ms. Keeble acknowledges that vampires may be a bit overdone in 2012, but that she still found a way to write a fresh and intriguing story. I'd totally recommend this one for any teen or pre-teen girl who is looking for a new book for Christmas.

I give Fang Girl a B+.

Dark Eden, parts 1 and 2 by Patrick Carman spins the tale of 7 teens who are sent to a facility in the deep woods to help combat their various psychological fears. Through a series of questionable methods, they are "cured" but find that they now have new and strange physical ailments, often associated with old age. Twists and turns explain the unusual psychological issue that the main character, Will Besting, is facing. But what of the weird "doctor"?

Though book 1 held my attention and had me interested, book 2, in my opinion, fell very short of my expectations. I recommend the first for the reluctant teen who is looking for a new story but suggest checking the second book from the library first to see if it appeals to you before you purchase.

I give Book 1 a B.
I give Book 2 a C.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Greatest Show in Chicago!

If you haven't had a chance to get tickets to the Ringling Brothers Circus in Chicago, there's still time! My kids and I had a BLAST and enjoyed the entire experience. See my previous post for information on how to save money at either venue and please enjoy these photos from our time at the opening night show!