Friday, November 30, 2012

Finding the Baby Jesus Review + Book Tour

Tour Schedule

Finding the Baby Jesus by Kimball Fisher

After being forced to wear lederhosen for the annual holiday card picture, twelve-year-old Chris thinks that the least his parents can do is get him the Tony Hawk skateboard he wants for Christmas. But when he recovers the hand-carved Baby Jesus that everyone thought had been destroyed in a fire the year his Grandma died, Chris realizes that some gifts are even more important than skateboards.

When the author had to discontinue a cherished tradition of reading Christmas stories out loud with his family and holiday guests each week in December, he wrote Finding the Baby Jesus. He had been unable to locate enough meaningful stories that could be read in a single sitting with wiggly children.

My Review:

Please don't take this the wrong way, but this book was too "Hallmark-y" for me.  It is a VERY short story with a VERY good meaning.  I don't want to take away from that.  The meaning behind the story is what Christmas is all about, but it seemed "to perfect" to me.

I LOVED how in the very short story, there were so many things covered: The meaning of Christmas, traditions, memories, honoring loved ones who have passed, new friendship, and more.  It really is a sweet story, perfect for younger kids!

Praise for Finding the Baby Jesus:

“Tender and true, this warm Christmas tale brought tears to my eyes.”
–Heather Vogel Frederick, author of the much-beloved Mother-Daughter Book Club series and Oregon Book Award winner for The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed

“A touching story that speaks to the importance of family, giving, and the true spirit of Christmas.”
–Matthew Kirby, author of Icefall, winner of the Edgar Allen Poe and the Pen Center USA Literary Awards for Children’s Literature

“Deeply moving. Poignant.”
–Deborah Halverson, former editor at Harcourt Children’s Books and author of Honk If You Hate Me, a Gayle McCandliss Literary Award Winner

"The perfect little book to tuck away with your Christmas things and bring out year after year to read with family. As mother to three boys, I can't imagine a better protagonist than Chris. His typical teenage attitude followed by the softening of his heart towards a friend teaches a poignant and very relatable lesson on the true meaning of Christmas."
–Amazon review

"After I read this short story I felt like I had read a novel--every sentence is packed with action and imagery. I was emotionally connected to the characters, and the story is touching. I didn't see the plot twist at the end coming! A great story to read every Christmas."
–Amazon review


Author Kimball Fisher

Kimball Fisher writes novels for young readers. He is also a best-selling business author, professional speaker, and management consultant. Some of his past jobs include: sailboat builder, ghost writer (not as scary as it sounds), illustrator, and factory manager (more scary than it sounds). For fun he builds furniture, stained-glass windows, and writing pens.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities (with minors in English, Asian Studies, and Japanese), and a Master of Organizational Behavior degree from Brigham Young University. He and his amazing wife Reenie live in Portland, Oregon, where they have seen pheasants, coyotes, and a bobcat in their own backyard.


Book Blast

Tour Giveaway:
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 12/26/12

Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule

Poseidon and the Sea of Fury Book Blast

Poseidon and the Sea of Fury 

A young Poseidon must triumph over aquatic terrors in this Heroes in Training adventure. The merciless Cronus and his Titan buddies are in hot pursuit of Zeus, Hera, and Poseidon, who plan to travel across the treacherous boiling sea in order to save a fellow Olympian. They have a boat, but they also have a problem: Poseidon can’t swim and is terrified of the water (well, really of the creatures that lurk in its depths). The group faces danger after danger as they battle singing sirens, a fishy and ferocious Titan named Oceanus, and people-eating monsters sent by Cronus himself. Can Poseidon overcome his fears and help his fellow heroes escape Cronus and his cronies?


Heroes in Training by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams
Authors Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams deliver fun, adventures, and a few surprises as ten-year-old Olympians go on a journey of a lifetime to discover their true identities and defeat their Titan enemies.

Praise for Heroes in Training
"Readers will gobble this down and look for more, make no mythtake."
~ Kirkus

“This is a fun read, casting Zeus in the role of relatable kid, and there is a nice balance between his primary goal of survival and his sense of destiny and adventure. . . Share this title, and likely more to come, with those still too young for Percy Jackson’s adventures.”
~ School Library Journal

The Series

#1 Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom
#2 Poseidon and the Sea of Fury
#3 Hades and the Helm of Darkness
#4 Hyperion and the Great Balls of Fire

Aladdin Paperbacks (ages 6-9)

Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom (Book 1)

After pulling a magical thunderbolt from a stone, ten-year-old Zeus goes on the adventure of a lifetime in this thrilling start to a brand-new series! The terrible Titans--merciless giants who enjoy snacking on humans--have dominated the earth and put the world into chaos. But their rule is about to be put to the test as a group of young Olympians discover their powers and prepare to righteously rule the universe....
     Ten-year-old Zeus is mystified (and super-annoyed) by the fact that he keeps getting hit by lightening. Every. Single. Year. He also longs for adventure, as he has never been far from the cave where he grew up.

     Zeus gets his wish--and a lot more than he bargained for--when he is kidnapped by dangerous, giant Titans! In self-defense, he grabs the first thing he sees--an actual thunderbolt he pulls from a stone that is covered in mysterious markings. Zeus is the only one who can decipher the markings, and sets off on a quest to rescue his youthful fellow Olympians from the evil Cronus. Armed with his trusty thunderbolt (named Bolt, of course), Zeus is on an adventure of a lifetime--and a journey to fulfill his destiny as King of the Gods.

Hades and the Helm of Darkness (Book 3 coming April 2013)

The Heroes in Training are entering the Underworld—if Hades can conquer his canine fears, that is.

The Underworld usually isn’t really meant to be a fun place—but tell that to Hades! He loves the dark and the stinky smell of sulfur. However, there is one thing that Hades is not a fan of: dogs. And when Zeus and his fellow Olympians encounter Cerberus—a snarling, three-headed dog—Hades must conquer his fears and tame the hound so everyone can continue into the Underworld and deposit their Titan prisoner, Oceanus, back where he belongs!

But with magical water that causes forgetfulness, hot beds of lava, and another epic battle with two more Titans standing in their way, will Zeus and his heroes make it out of the Underworld with everyone intact?

Author Suzanne Williams

Suzanne Williams is the award-winning author of nearly 40 books for children, from picture books and easy readers to chapter books and middle grade fiction series. A former elementary school librarian, she lives near Seattle. Her picture book Library Lil (illustrated by Steven Kellogg) won the New Mexico children's choice award in 2000 and was on several other state award lists. She is co-author (with Joan Holub) of the popular Goddess Girls series(for ages 8 - 12) and Heroes in Training (ages 6 - 11). Other series include Fairy Blossoms and Princess Power.

Author Joan Holub

I graduated from college in Texas with a fine arts degree, and then freelanced as an art director at a graphic design firm for eight years. I dreamed of working in children's books, so I moved to New York City and became associate art director in Scholastic trade books, where I designed books for children and worked with editors and illustrators. It was a great job.

I illustrated my first published children's book in 1992 and soon began illustrating full time. I began completing manuscripts and mailing them out to publishers in the early 1990s. In 1996, I sold my first two manuscripts -- Boo Who? A Spooky Lift-the-Flap Book (Scholastic) and Pen Pals (Grosset & Dunlap). Yippee!

Now I write full time and have written and/or illustrated over 130 children's books. Creating books that entertain, inform, and interest children (and me) is a fabulous job that I truly love.

Book Blast Giveaway
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 12/9/12

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mary's Son Guest Post

Guest post by Darryl Nyznyk, author of Mary’s Son: A Tale of Christmas.

(Take a look below for contest details!)

Raising Givers

My wife and I raised four daughters through school day traumas of isolation, rejection, ostracism and dissociation, and bullying. While none of our daughters were on the receiving end of all of these hateful practices, each experienced one or more personally, and each saw them foisted upon others. It was our duty, as parents, to guide them through these experiences by teaching them how to deal with the pain, and by helping rebuild their shattered psyches after each experience.

We found it was just as important to instill in them empathy and compassion for others suffering through the same trauma. We wanted to teach them to look less at the pain they were experiencing and more to the pain of others who they could help.  Our belief was that our kids needed to learn how to give of their compassion, understanding, and love in their every day lives. Here are five basic concepts that helped us in our efforts.

1. You are a good person.  One of the most important elements in a giving heart is a sense of self worth that enables a person to step away from his own problems and focus on the issues of others. To be true givers, children need to have confidence in themselves.  Build their self-esteem, but not because they might be the “prettiest,” “smartest,” “best athlete,” or “most popular,” but rather because they are empathetic and compassionate people. If they cry when a person they know dies or they understand the pain when a friend gets hurt or they help a neighbor in need, it is these feelings and actions that make them good people.

2. Discuss issues of evil and sadness in the world.  Getting children to sit and carry on a discussion about the issues of the day can be virtually impossible. With homework, music lessons, sports practice, electronics, friends, and every other conceivable interference, it’s difficult to find a moment to have a conversation other than “hi.”  But it’s vital that we do. It is our task to find those moments where we can say “Did you hear about …?” and “Do you think there’s anything we could (or should) do about …?”  We need to ask them about any sad or evil events of which they are aware, and how they feel “we” should react. Despite the hesitation our child may express at first, the truth is that once we get them talking, we have moved them away from focus on self and to thoughts about the plight of others – an essential step in imprinting the concept of giving onto their hearts.

3. Think of someone at school who needs help.  Encourage your child to think of someone at school who might need empathy, compassion, or simply a friend. Suggest they look beyond their immediate circle of friends and identify someone who might be viewed as a “geek,” a “nerd,” an outcast. Talk to your child about how that person must feel; try to get your child to try on that person’s shoes so that they understand how painful that person’s experiences are. Then discuss how your child might be able to help, even with something as simple as a kind word.

4. Talk to friends at school about those in need.  Encourage your children to step up in their peer groups to convince friends not to judge those previously deemed below them. “I heard his parents can’t afford to get him good soccer shoes; maybe we can figure out a way to help. He’s a pretty good player.” “Her mother’s been really sick.  Maybe we should ask her to join us and see if she needs help.” Or just plain, “She looks weird, I know, but she’s a nice person, just a little shy.” 

The point here is that our child steps up and gives herself to the pain and suffering of those ridiculed by her group. Peer pressure makes this one very difficult, and a parent’s discussion about the proper approach to the peers is essential. It doesn’t require that your child take over the leadership role from the “king” or “queen” of the group, but rather that she use her subtle influence and intelligence to move the leader to compassion that the others will follow.

5. Stand up against injustice even if alone.  Our children know right from wrong because we have taught and continue to teach them the difference. When they see bullying or other injustice in their schools or other social settings, they must step up to protect the weak and bullied. 

The most difficult thing for the normal “non-leader” child is to become visible by asserting themselves. It’s difficult because by standing up within the group or outside the group, the child is challenging leadership and risks becoming the butt of jokes or the one who is bullied. This is why parental guidance in the art of subtlety within the group, and of strength of purpose outside the group is essential. In conjunction with that guidance, our child’s knowledge that we, as parents, have his back when he steps up, gives him the strength he needs to stand tall.

Teaching our children to give is the essence of our duty as parents. It’s an enormous undertaking, yet what better gift can we give our world than a child who “gives” herself in the fight against injustice, cruelty and inequality?

Darryl Nyznyk is a full-time storyteller and father of four grown daughters. As a parent, he began to take a hard look at the world around him - one of extreme political and social divisiveness – and as an author, he wanted to share the message with the world that he had been telling in his own home for years....a message of hope, love and faith. He is the author of Mary’s Son: A Tale of Christmas.

Enter the Mary’s Son: A Tale of Christmas contest!

Readers: Comment on the post with what your favorite charity is and why. Darryl will choose a grand prize winner and match a donation of up to $100. The winner will also receive a signed copy of Mary’s Son.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Making of Us

Synopsis:  From the internationally bestselling author of After the Party comes a delightfully funny, brilliantly poignant novel about three strangers who are brought together by the father they never knew.

Lydia, Dean and Robyn don’t know one another. Yet. Each is facing difficult challenges. Lydia is still wearing the scars from her traumatic childhood. Wealthy and successful, she leads a lonely and disjointed existence. Dean is a young, unemployed, single dad whose life is going nowhere. Robyn is eighteen. Gorgeous, popular and intelligent, she entered her first year of college confident of her dream to become a pediatrician. Now she’s failing her classes. Now she’s falling in love for the first time.

Lydia, Dean and Robyn live very different lives, but each of them, independently, has always felt that something was missing. What they don’t know is that a letter is about to arrive that will turn their lives upside down. It is a letter containing a secret—one that will bind them together and show them what love and family and friendship really mean.

“So good that I practically inhaled it,” praised the Daily Mail (London). The Making of Us is a literary gem that will remind readers of the miracles that happen when we bring life into the world and share our lives with those we love.

My Review: The Making of Us is the first of Lisa Jewell's books that I have read, but not the last.  I really enjoyed it!  I like how there was four different stories in one and how they all come together through the book.  Each chapter is told from one of the four main characters. Each story unfolds and molds with each other until they all come together at the end.  

The Making of Us has very like-able characters that want you to keep reading to see what happens to them all.  Each character is struggling with their own issues and we are taken on the journey of how they resolve them.  

If you are looking for a great read, consider picking up The Making of Us.  I know I am going to pick up some of Lisa's other books, Ralph's Party, Before I Met You, Roommates Wanted and After the Party!  Can't wait to read them.

Meet the Author:  Lisa Jewell is the bestselling author of eight previous novels, including Ralph’s Party and After the Party. She lives in London, England with her husband and two daughters.

Purchase It:  You can purchase The Making of Us online at Amazon for $16.00 (Kindle for $9.99 and Prime Members for $12.24)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Last Man

Synopsis:  An invaluable CIA asset has gone missing, and with him, secrets that in the wrong hands could prove disastrous. The only question is: Can Mitch Rapp find him first?

Joe Rickman, head of CIA clandestine operations in Afghanistan, has been kidnapped and his four bodyguards executed in cold blood. But Mitch Rapp’s experience and nose for the truth make him wonder if something even more sinister isn’t afoot. Irene Kennedy, director of the CIA, has dispatched him to Afghanistan to find Rickman at all costs.

Rapp, however, isn’t the only one looking for Rickman. The FBI is too, and it quickly becomes apparent that they’re less concerned with finding Rickman than placing the blame on Rapp.

With CIA operations in crisis, Rapp must be as ruthless and deceitful as his enemies if he has any hope of finding Rickman and completing his mission. But with elements within his own government working against both him and American interests, will Rapp be stopped dead before he can succeed?

My Review:  Once again Vince Flynn has hit a home run with his latest Mitch Rapp novel.  

The Last Man (as in the last man you wan to mess with) is extremely fast-paced and can be finished in a day or two.  So engrossing is this latest novel, that you’ll miss half a day as you are immersed in the behind the scenes in Afghanistan.   Stan, Irene, Mike and Scott are all back, along with a ghost from Rapp’s past.  

Vince Flynn doesn’t disappoint with this latest installment, and you’ll be on the edge of your seat throughout the book.  Beware, a major twist is involved that I didn’t see coming, but Mitch Rapp was all too aware of.

I love Vince Flynn's books, especially the Mitch Rapp series.  I would love to see the Mitch Rapp series turned into a movie.  I think the Vince himself could play Mitch....just saying.   I have been a fan since his first book, American Assassin.  I look forward to a new book of his every year!

Meet the Author:  Vince Flynn (isn't he so cute!) is a best-selling American author of political thriller novels. He is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and three children. You can connect with Vince online, Facebook and Pinterest

Purchase It:  You can purchase The Last Man online at Amazon for $27.99 ($12.99 Kindle version and $15.99 for Prime members)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dead Running Book Blast and Blog Tour

Just in Time for Christmas 
Dead Running - Dying to Run 
Price Drop & $20 Gift Card Giveaway

Dead Running

Cassidy Christensen is running.
Running from the mercenaries who killed her parents.
Running from a scheming redhead intent on making her life miserable.
Running from painful memories that sabotage her dreams of happiness.

With two very tempting men competing for her attention, she hopes she'll finally have someone to run to, but can she trust either of them? When secrets from her past threaten her family, Cassidy decides to stop running and fight for her future.

Dying to Run

Cassidy Christensen wants to run.

Captured by the traffickers who killed her mother, her only hope is Dr. Tattoo, a man she loves but nobody trusts. When she finally gets a chance to run, someone else she cares about is taken. Running might be her only chance at survival, but she won’t allow another family member to be killed in her place.

This must-read sequel to Dead Running will have you laughing, biting your nails, and hoping for more.


Author Cami Checketts

Cami Checketts is married and the proud mother of four future WWF champions. Sometimes between being a human horse, cleaning up magic potions, and reading Bernstein Bears, she gets the chance to write fiction.

Cami graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Exercise Science. Cami teaches strength training classes at her local rec and shares healthy living tips on her fitness blog:

Cami and her family live in the beautiful Cache Valley of Northern Utah. During the two months of the year it isn't snowing, she enjoys swimming, biking, running, and water-skiing.


Upcoming Blog Tour

Price Drop Giveaway!
$20 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash from Author Cami Checketts
Ends 12/23/12
Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dancing at the Shame Prom

Synopsis:  Shame is a powerful thing. It can weigh on your heart and mind, diminish your sense of self-worth, and impact the way you live in the world. But what happens when you share that secret burden?

Amy Ferris, Hollye Dexter, and the writers they brought together are all ready to let go of shame. In Dancing at the Shame Prom, twenty-six extraordinary women—Lyena Strelkoff, Teresa Stack, Monica Holloway, Nina Burleigh, Amy Friedman, Meredith Resnick, Victoria Zackheim, and more—take the plunge and say “yes” to sharing their stories. These brave writers, journalists, musicians, artists, directors, and activists have offered up their most funny, sad, poignant, miraculous, life-changing, and jaw-dropping secrets for you to gawk at, empathize with, and learn from—in the hopes that they will inspire others to do the same. Letting go feels good!

Freeing, provocative, and audacious, Dancing at the Shame Prom is about flaunting the secrets that have made you feel small so that you can stand up straight, let the shame go, and finally—decisively—move on with your life.

My Review:  Dancing at the Shame Prom is an amazing collection of stories written by women.  I swear, I could write a story a week!! It is so nice to know I am not alone in baring the "shame."  

I loved at the end of each chapter/story, the author lets us know what they wish we take away from their story.  This is so powerful.  It is another affirmation of their stories and the shame they have carried.  

Some stories are very funny while others are very serious (and deal with serious topics).  No matter the story, you will be pulled in from the beginning all  the way to end. 

Dancing at the Shame Prom would make a great gift for all the women in your life.  I think this would be fantastic to share with a circle of friends and discuss the stories and their impact. 

Some of the stories I could add to Dancing at the Shame Prom would relate to some of the ways I treated my mother.  Since she pasted away, I have had a lot of flashback to me being a nasty child and saying things that had to be hurtful.  I wish I could discuss those with her now and let her know, just how nasty I know I could be.  I would also write about the shame I feel in being a working mother and the fact that I can't be involved in with my kids school and after school life.  I know it is reality, but I carry a lot of shame related to it. Amy and Hollye, keep me in mind for Dancing at the Shame Prom, Take 2!

Meet the Authors:  Amy Ferris is an author, editor, screenwriter and playwright. Her memoir, Marrying George Clooney: Confessions From a Midlife Crisis (Seal Press) is Off-Broadway-bound. She has contributed to numerous anthologies, including He Said What, The Buddha Next Door, The Drinking Diaries, and Exit Laughing, and has written everything from young adult novels (A Greater Goode), to co-writing films (Funny Valentines and Mr. Wonderful). She has been both an editor, and contributing writer at the magazines Urban Refugee, Living Buddhism and Milford Magazine, and contributes regularly to iPinion Syndicate, and StyleSubstanceSoul.

Ferris serves on the Executive Board of Directors at Pages & Places Literary Festival in Scranton, PA, Peters Valley Arts, and the Education and Craft Center, and serves on the Advisory Board of The Women's Media Center. She is on faculty at The San Miguel de Allende Writers' Festival, and is a visiting teacher at UCLA (extension). Her number one goal, desire, and dream is for ALL women to awaken to their greatness, their beauty, and their power.

Hollye Dexter is a blogger and essayist, and the author of two memoirs. Her stories have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Answered Prayers and Character Consciousness, as well as online at Fem2pt0, The Next Family, The Shape of A Mother, and BackPage magazine. She writes regularly for iPinion Syndicate and AOL Patch News.

Dexter is a singer/songwriter with four albums out, and for the past decade has run workshops for teens in foster care through her award-winning nonprofit organization Art and Soul. In 2007 she was given the Agape Spirit award by Dr. Michael Beckwith (from The Secret) for her work with at-risk youth. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.

You can connect with Dancing at the Shame Prom (including Amy and Hollye) online at their blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Purchase It:  You can purchase Dancing at the Shame Prom online at Amazon for $16.00 (Kindle version $9.76 and Prime members $11.68)

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide

Synopsis:  The LEGO® Technic system opens a new realm of building possibilities. Using motors, gears, pneumatics, pulleys, linkages, and more, you can design LEGO models that really move.

The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide is filled with building tips for creating strong yet elegant machines and mechanisms with the Technic system. Author Pawel "Sairel" Kmiec will teach you the foundations of LEGO Technic building, from simple machines to advanced mechanics, even explaining how to create realistic to-scale models. Sariel, a world-renowned LEGO Technic expert, offers unique insight into mechanical principles like torque, power translation, and gear ratios, all using Technic bricks. You'll learn how to:
  • Create sturdy connections that can withstand serious stress
  • Re-create specialized LEGO pieces like casings and u-joints, and build solutions like Schmidt and Oldham couplings, when no standard piece will do
  • Build custom differentials, suspensions, transmissions, and steering systems
  • Pick the right motor for the job—and transform its properties to suit your needs
  • Combine studfull and studless building styles for a stunning look
  • Create remote-controlled vehicles, lighting systems, motorized compressors, and pneumatic engines
This beautifully illustrated, full-color book will inspire you with ideas for building amazing machines like tanks with suspended treads, supercars, cranes, bulldozers, and much more. Your Technic adventure starts now!

My Review:  The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide is another must have for LEGO lovers of all ages. My son (5th grade) participated again this year in his schools LEGO league competition.  One part of the competition is to build a robot out of LEGOs to perform a set of challenges.  He took The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide in to practice one day and his team mates devoured this book from cover to cover.  

The full color diagrams and easy to follow instructions make building motors, gears, pulleys and more so much easier to build.  The book also explains the whys and hows of how all the mechanics work together.  

The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide really is an awesome, must have book.  You (or your LEGO lover) will not be disappointed with this purchase.

Meet the Author:  Pawel "Sariel" Kmiec is a LEGO Technic enthusiast based in Warsaw, Poland. A prolific blogger and model builder, Sariel's LEGO creations have been featured in many magazines, the world's most popular LEGO blogs, and even prompted the LEGO Group to use his help in developing some of its products. Sariel is a guest blogger for the official LEGO Technic website and is a 2012 LEGO Ambassador for Poland. He is YouTube's most-viewed LEGO Technic builder.

Purchase It:  You can purchase The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide online at Amazon for $29.95 ($14.37 Kindle version and $18.78 Prime members). 

The LEGO Adventure Book

Synopsis:  Unleash your imagination as you journey through the wide-ranging world of LEGO building with The LEGO Adventure Book. This inspiring tour is filled with bright visuals, step-by-step breakdowns of 25 models, and nearly 200 example models from the world's best builders. Learn to build robots, trains, medieval villages, spaceships, airplanes, and much more. Whether you're brand-new to LEGO or have been building for years, this book is sure to spark your imagination and motivate you to keep creating!

My Review:  Another 5 star, must have book for those that love LEGOs!  The LEGO Adventure Book includes contributions from over a dozen expert LEGO builders, with models like:

  • Flying machines, from vintage propeller planes to futuristic starfighters
  • A medieval village featuring an outdoor market, butcher shop and fortified castle
  • Dinosaur favorites like the Stegosaurus and T. Rex, completed with articulated tail and jaw
  • A modern city full of shops, garages, vehicles, and even cable cars
  • A realistic British locomotive with working brakes
  • A huge selection of hot rods and race cars

The LEGO Adventure Book is designed for fans of all ages and ability levels.  My girls and I loved the chapter on dinosaurs.  We had a fun time rummaging through our huge box of mixed matched LEGOs to find the pieces needed to build a T-Rex - our favorite dino!

My girls also LOVED the chapter, Making New Friends.  They love the LEGO Friends collection and this chapter focused on building "non-LEGO" Friend sets.  The pool is just too cool!  I loved the piano!

Again, another LEGO book, must have!  I recommend The LEGO Adventure Book to anyone who loves to build and play with LEGOs.

Meet the Author:  Megan Rothrock is a former set designer for the LEGO Group whose models have been displayed at ComicCon and at LEGO events across Europe. Rothrock enjoys meeting builders at LEGO fan events and hopes that her book will inspire the LEGO builders of tomorrow. Originally from California, she currently lives in Denmark where she works as a freelance toy designer.

Purchase It:  You can purchase The LEGO Adventure Book online from Amazon for $24.95 ($9.99 Kindle version and $14.85 Prime members).

Interview with Jane Porter - The Good Woman

A week or so ago, I posted a review on The Good Woman by Jane Porter.  Today, I have the pleasure of sharing with you all an interview with Jane!  I for one, can't wait for The Good Daughter to come out early next year.

SBN: Which Brennan sister do you most identify with?
JP:  I probably identify with Meg and Kit most, because I was the second oldest in a family of four kids, and the oldest girl, which meant I felt a lot of responsibility for the younger ones, as well as being the support for my mom.   But I married the baby of a large family, and have always been close to my youngest brother, and it’s interesting getting life from their perspective.  They don’t stress about the same things the firstborns stress about.  And they get tired of the older siblings always thinking they know what’s best for them.  I’m also sensitive to the experience of being a younger sister, as my sister had to contend with me as her big sister and it couldn’t have been easy for her always being compared to me.  She was very smart, very athletic, and a daredevil.  She loved taking risks and had incredible confidence in her abilities (which I never, ever had), but because I was the good girl, and didn’t take risks, and played it safe, people held me up as admirable.  I don’t think my sister found it easy having people (or me) say, “Why aren’t you good like Jane?”  Birth order is so fascinating.  It really does impact the way we make decisions and our perceptions, and that’s probably why I had to write this series.  Families are messy and intense and compelling.  And that’s the world I love best.
SBN: I know The Good Daughter is set to release in February 2013 and will be focused on Kit, what is the order and anticipated released dates of the other books?  By the way, I am sure you can't say, but please tell me Kit doesn't end up with Richard.
JP:  Ha!  This really made me laugh.  I love Kit’s book, The Good Daughter, which hits shelves February 5th.  I really love that story.  It’s probably my favorite book I’ve ever written and I can’t wait to get reader feedback.  The Good Wife, Sarah’s story, comes out in Fall 2013, and I’m hoping (please, please publishing gods!!) that there will be a fourth, and final, book in Spring 2014, which would be The Good Sister, and Brianna’s story, along with a return to Meg.  I have that story plotted out in my head and its fascinating to go back to Santa Rosa and Napa, the setting of The Good Woman, and return to where we began the Brennan Sisters series.
SBN:  I love the activities that Meg's children were involved in....ballet, horseback riding, and baseball.  Did you play any sports as child (or now as an adult)?
JP:  Meg’s kids’ activities were inspired by their Northern California lifestyle.  I had cousins who spent every afternoon at the stables, but I was a swimmer, and a dancer.  From the time I was seven, I was on a summer league swim team, and during the school year, I danced every day until I was fifteen. And I don’t play sports now, (well, I swim in Hawaii, and will on occasion surf there), but my three boys are all water babies—they swim, surf, play water polo.  In our family, that love of the water runs pretty deep!
SBN: Do you write daily?  I picture authors locking themselves in a room and writing until the book is finished.  
JP:  You picture my world pretty accurately.  I definitely don’t do as much when I’m on deadline.  Once on deadline, I pull away, pull back, and retreat into a small space without too much external stimulation.  I’m a little resistant to deadlines for that reason, but once I’d deeply immersed (committed??) I’m okay. Writing is hard.  And I want to write a great book, so after a while I get to a point where I’m so creatively conflicted and worried and agonizing over the story, and if I’m making the right decisions, that I just need to get the book done.  It becomes all consuming…get book done, get book done, get book done.  This is when family and friends start avoiding me! J
SBN:  How do you come up with your ideas for novels?  Are they based off real life experiences/modified?
JP:  Stories beget stories…an idea for one novel often gives life to another.  A couple of my novels were inspired by an event or a conversation in my life which led to an “aha moment!”, a moment where I realized my situation or emotion was universal, that I wasn’t the only woman to feel a certain way, or experience that conflict as a woman, mother, wife, sister.  I find our lives as women fascinating.  We lead such complex and challenging lives, with equally challenging demands.  It’s a true juggling act, and at times we sacrifice what we want and need to make others happy, or successful, and then there are times when we must learn to put ourselves first.  And these are the themes in my novels, because they are the themes of our lives.
SBN:  What do you like to do when you are not writing?
JP:  Read, travel, watch movies, go for drives, putter in my garden, cook.   By the time a book is finished I hate my desk and computer so I want to do anything and everything that’s not desk related.
SBN:  What are you currently reading?
 JP: Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley.  It’s become quite the eBook sensation, for good reason.
SBN: What are some of your favorite books?
JP:  I read a lot of historical and paranormal romance, as well as adore everything written by the late Georgette Heyer. 
Having being a teacher, I read and taught literary fiction, and studied the classics all the way through graduate school, but by the end of my 20’s, I didn’t want to read the classics anymore, or literary fiction that was dark, and focused on loss:  loss of self, loss of society, loss of hope.  I’d experienced a great deal of loss in my life, and the dark, heartbreaking subject matter wasn’t good for me emotionally, or spiritually.  I used to worry about being perceived as an intellectual lightweight for preferring warm, optimistic commercial fiction, but I know what I need--hope, light, faith and courage, but I don’t feel that way anymore.  I read what I like to read, and prefer stories about interesting people who are good people, as well as compassionate and strong. 
SBN:  Can you read other books and write at the same time?
JP:  Not very well!  I tend to read very little when I’m writing a lot.  I wish I could read more, but I find I need the quiet in my brain to let my own characters walk around and tell me what’s going to happen next.
SBN:  What is your favorite food?
JP:  Marshmallows.  People tell me they’re not healthy but I love them…in Jell-O molds, rice crispy squares, S’mores, Lucky Charms, Hot Cocoa, chocolate marshmallow frosting…mmmm.  Makes me want some now. They are a very happy food!
Thank Jane for the interview and the chance to read The Good Woman.  For some reason, I feel like making Rice-Krispie Treats.....