Note to Readers

I have not received any compensation for writing this post other than a free digital or print copy of the book. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ivy & Bean Blog-A-Bration: Week 7

The big week is almost here! Soon one of the winners from all the other weeks will be chosen by Chronicle Books to win the grand prize:
  •            A complete set of Ivy and Bean hardcover books signed by Annie Barrows 
  •          1 set of Ivy and Bean Paper Dolls 
  •          1 Ivy and Bean Button Factory
  •          1 Ivy and Bean READ Poster signed by Annie Barrows
  •          Set of Ivy and Bean Silly Bandz
  •          Set of Ivy and Bean stickers 
  •      And a super-secret prize that will be announced
Congratulations to Week 6's book winner - Tania C.

Week 7's prize is a copy of  Ivy & Bean: What's the Big Idea?

Make sure you leave an email in your comment, or you can email me directly at roundtablereviews at gmail dot com to enter. I've had a few entrants who haven't left a way to get in touch with them, so make sure you don't miss that vital step!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hooked on the Book: Patrick's Adventures Through the Books of the Bible - Liz and Jack Hagler

Released June 2012

Liz & Jack Hagler
Morgan James Publishing

Book Review by Bob Walch

The authors take on the formidable task of making the Bible understandable for young readers in this picture book which is subtitled, Patrick’s Adventures Through The Books of the Bible.  Using a cartoon format, a touch of humor, rhymes, games and a fast paced story, the young reader will come away from this 96 page book with a sense of the “big ideas” that are conveyed in the Old and New Testaments.

The Haglers have also created a website for each of the seven chapters that offers a three minute video overview, coloring pages, word searches and crossword puzzles that will also engage the child.

Ideal for individual home use or for classroom or Bible Study groups, Hooked On The Book makes it easy to get a child interested in discovering what the Bible has to offer. Use this as the starting place for a more in-depth and detailed reading of the Bible that will follow as the child matures.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lucretia and the Kroons - Victor LaValle

Released July 2012

Victor LaValle
Random House Digital

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Lucretia's birthday party goes awry when her so-called friends start to tease her. This 12-year-old girl won't stand for it and kicks them out of her house. Unfortunately, this also makes her a bit of an outcast in school. She simply can't wait until her best friend, Sunny, becomes well and then she'll have a birthday party redo. On the day that's supposed to happen, Sunny disappears.

Soon, Lucretia learns the mysterious family, The Kroons, who she's heard about from her older brother may be behind the disappearance. The Kroons are heavy drug users and not quite human at that. Gathering all the courage she has, Lucretia heads into their mysterious apartment and sets off on a quest to save her friend.

I'll give it this, Lucretia and the Kroons is quite creepy. For a young adult reader, this novella is going to have you on the edge of your seat while putting a few shivers up your spine. For 99 cents, I wasn't expecting something so creepy.

Lucretia is a tough cookie, and you'll be cheering her on. If you enjoy the novellas of horror masters, you should definitely give Lucretia and the Kroons a shot. It's certainly not what I was expecting, and I'm thrilled I came across it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ivy and Bean Blog-A-Bration: Week 6

Welcome to Week 6 of the Ivy & Bean Blog-A-Bration. It's heating up and the grand prize will be awarded in just a few weeks!

The winner of Week 5 is Heidi G. Congratulations, Heidi!

Week 6's prize is a copy of Ivy and Bean's Doomed to Dance. Make sure you leave an email in your comment, or if you can email me directly at roundtablereviews at gmail dot com to enter. I've had a few entrants who haven't left a way to get in touch with them, so make sure you don't miss that vital step!

If you're interested in entering the contest at other blogs, here's a list of those who are running the contest:

Blog Name                                          Blog URL
Media Darlings                        
There's A Book                        
Kid Lit Frenzy                           
In the Pages                             
The O.W.L.                                
Coquette Maman                  
Ruth Ayres Writes                           Http://
Watch. Connect. Read.        
One Page to the Next          
Van Meter Library Voice     
The Family That Reads Together
The Children's Book Review

Friday, September 14, 2012

Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero - Fred Chao

Released July 2012


Book Review by Jen Beams

Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero depicts the average life of an average guy Johnny Hiro. Johnny is, like most men in their mid-20s, balancing a job, his goals, his girlfriend, and his friends, as his life is disrupted with
misfortunes such as an angry landlord, and overdue rent, and a dinosaur breaking into his apartment; literally. So maybe Johnny’s life isn’t so average. That’s what I would expect of a graphic novel character that is “half Asian, all hero”.

First of all, the scenarios he faces are totally unbelievable. There’s no basis behind the crazy happenings. And even more unbelievable is his reaction to them. He really just shrugs them off as if a dinosaur busting in through your bedroom wall and taking your girlfriend is a monthly occurrence. I’d even go with that if they gave some sort of basis for why he doesn’t run away screaming because there’s a dinosaur in the city in the 21st century.

I’m new to graphic novels, and once I got past the totally unbelievable scenarios, there are two main characters with little character development. Johnny and his girlfriend do not really have personalities other than Johnny being an average Joe and his girlfriend a ditzy Asian woman. As an introduction to this new graphic novel series, I wish I could have seen more on Johnny’s back story or his and his girlfriend’s relationship. For that reason, I think it's necessary to read the books in order and not jump into the series without having read the first book.

Beyond the lack of realism and character development, there is a satisfying ending, but I’ll leave that for the reader to find. Perhaps this makes a good story for a younger reader, if not for the sexual references here and there, but I really wish there could have been more sophistication. As a female college student, I just can't see myself buying this book or adding it to my keeper shelf.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

News From Chronicle Books

For more than 40 years, Chronicle Books has been known for our distinctive, award-winning and bestselling books and gifts that are favorites with booksellers, librarians and specialty retailers around the country.

Now, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and other gift-givers can create personalized Chronicle books, gifts and stationery items for special kids in their life with MyChronicleBooks.

How It Works:

Visit and select from a variety of products such as books, growth charts, lunch boxes, wall d├ęcor and much more than can be personalized with a child’s name, favorite colors, birthday – even a photo!

With just a few clicks, the easy-to-use interactive website allows users to enter their personal information into a simple form, and preview their products right on screen. Products are shipped directly to the customer within two weeks. From, customers can also shop Chronicle’s extensive collection of books, stationery, games and gifts for all ages.

What Can You Personalize?

The collection includes beloved books such as the The New York Times #1 bestseller Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, Duck! Rabbit! and titles from favorite authors and illustrators like Laura Numeroff, Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Sylvia Long

Enjoy 25% off their purchase at MyChronicleBooks + FREE shipping!

Use coupon code: TryMyCB!

Offer valid until November 15, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ivy & Bean Blog-A-Bration: Week 5

Here we are at Week 5 of the Ivy and Bean Blog-A-Bration.

Week three's winner, never contacted me, so there's been a new winner picked. Congratulations to V.

Week four's book winner is C. Laker. Congratulations!

Now to the details for week five.

Book five in the Ivy and Bean series, Bound to Be Bad, finds the girls giving up on being good when things don't go their way. Maybe being bad is the best way to get what you want.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Twisted Window - Lois Duncan

Released August 2012 (Ebook reissue)

Lois Duncan
Open Road

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I have such a long history with Lois Duncan's books. Years, well decades ago, I volunteered at my hometown's small library. Most of their books were borrowed from the regional library on a monthly basis. The librarian would bring me along to choose teen books for their rotating selection. It was through that volunteer experience that I encountered Lois Duncan's teen novels. I couldn't get enough of them.

In seventh grade, we had to find our favorite author's mailing address (pre-Internet, so research took hours if not days) and handwrite a formal business letter. Lois Duncan was my choice, and she wrote the sweetest letter back that was two pages long. I was one of the only kids in my class to get an actual handwritten note, many got a simple typed out form letter with a stamped signature. She probably has no idea how much she impacted my love of books and writing, but she did.

I'm delighted to see some of Duncan's books released as e-books for new generations. The Twisted Window is one of those books.

After her mother's murder, Tracy Lloyd is sent to live in Texas with her aunt and uncle. She's not happy that her Hollywood dad wouldn't take her in, but it's not like she has much of a choice. She is shocked with a new kid in school, Brad Johnson, turns his eyes to her. She can't imagine why he finds her appealing when she's not the best looking, but she's happy to get the attention.

When Brad tells her his story, she's heartbroken for him. Brad's baby sister, Mindy, was kidnapped by his former step-father. Police aren't actively following clues, so Brad's come to Texas to see if he can't find his sister by himself. The thing is his step-father would easily recognize Brad and go on the run again, so Brad needs help and that's where Tracy comes in. The plan is to get her lined up as Mindy's new babysitter and then Brad will sneak in and steal her back. The plan seems fool-proof, but then nothing ever goes to plan.

I'm pretty sure I'd read The Twisted Window before, as I knew part of the story. It's pretty impressive, however, that I would remember the details 25 years after it came out. But, Lois Duncan does have a way of creating stories that make you think and keep you on your toes. I've always loved the twists she throws into her books, and I'm pretty sure today's teen readers will find it just as appealing.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cornered - Edited by Rhoda Belleza

Released by July 2012

Running Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

One of the taglines for Cornered, a collection of 14 stories about bullying, is:  "How will you survive the day?" I think many who have lived through or attended high school understand that.This collection can, at times, be difficult reading. I'd like to think that times have changed, but I know they really haven't. Two stories in particular stood out.

In Jennifer Brown's But Not Forgotten, I've been in those girl's shoes. The book details a couple of girls who make a suicide pact because they're bullied for being overweight. I sympathized with them, as I've been there. In my day, the insult of choice was "swamp cow," and it always preceded the moos that followed the girls down the hallways. Teachers did nothing to stop it. In high school, I lost 40 pounds getting down to a smaller size than many of the bullies, and here's the fact for any teen that reads this, that didn't stop them. Instead it became, "Remember when you looked like such a swamp cow..." The good news is that karma did catch up with at least one of my bullies.

How Auto-Tune Saved My Life is another story I related to. Brendan Halpin's tale of a class bullied by their teacher rang true, but not from my years as a student, it's as my time as a parent. Last year, I had one student in my car pool who endured many of the same things the young man in this story faced. The high five that accidentally goes awry leading to a suspension for physical violence, that really does happen.  There's another situation that hit our high school where a student put his best friend's head on David Hasselhoff's body and put it up on Facebook. Both boys thought it was hilarious, including the friend, but the school called it bullying and suspended the one who created the picture.

There are a dozen other stories ranging from kids who are bullied for being gay to teens who bully out of anger at their life situation. Each story is heartfelt and gets you thinking. I hope every school adds this to their library and urges kids to read it and change.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ivy & Bean Blog-A-Bration: Week 4

Week four of the Ivy & Bean Blog-A-Bration is starts today. So far, we've had a number of lucky winners. If you were notified that you won either the book or the mini-notes, make sure you get your address to me. There are a handful of winners who have yet to contact me, so I have a fear that emails are ending up in spam.

Congratulations to week three's winners: Janelle M. wins a copy of the book, and Jasmine K. and BN100 win mini-notes.

This week's giveaway is the fourth book in the series, Ivy and Bean Take Care of the Babysitter. The link to the Amazon page is below if you want to check the book out.

To enter, email your entry to roundtablereviews at gmail dot com or leave a comment. Make sure you leave an email so that I have a way to contact you!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Catch the Videos for the Moving with Math Books!

 Clap, Drum, and Shake It!

Explore mathematical patterns through rhythm, movement, and the imagination.

Click to watch a video of kids Moving with Marcia!
Meadow Count      

A delightful counting book guaranteed to have you and your children up and moving! 

Click to watch a video of kids Moving with Marcia! 

Interview with Populazzi's Elise Allen

I'd like to thank Elise Allen for taking the time to answer a few questions about her new release and her books with Hilary Duff. It's been amazing to get to know the author, and I hope Roundtable's readers find it just as enjoyable.

I do apologize for the white boxes after the links. For whatever reason, Amazon text links always put them in, and I've tried everything possible to get them out of there, but they won't go away...

Years ago, Bon Appetit used to run a Q&A with celebrities that had a question I always loved and like to do a take on. If you could pick the mind of any three authors, living or deceased, who would you choose?
  1. ANNE LAMOTT: I love all her work, but I’m especially drawn to her non-fiction work. In it, whether directly or indirectly, she always delves into her relationship with her faith. She’s very devout, but never dogmatic. She questions everything, and struggles through life’s deepest questions with a healthy dose of neurosis. As both a big questioner and a big neurotic myself, I’d love to sit down with her over particularly delicious baked goods and fill hours with philosophical conversation.

  2. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE: Yes, I’m a fan, so talking to him about writing (over tankards of ale for sure) would be a blast, but I’d also love to get the first-hand scoop on his day-to-day life. And I’d definitely watch Shakespeare in Love with him. My guess is he’d be highly amused… and flattered because Joseph Fiennes plays one very hot bard.

    3. JIM HENSON: Nope, he’s not primarily known as an author, but he did write some books (check it out on Amazon - Books by Jim Henson).And since I worship at the altar of Jim Henson, any way to hang with him is a good one for me. Pretty sure there’s no topic about which I couldn’t learn for him. He set the standard on taking risks, following your dreams, running with your most wild ideas, never standing in your own way, the beauty of collaboration… a conversation with him would be a master class in both writing and in life.
Most authors tap into personal experiences for their books. High school wasn't easy on anyone as I think many have learned once they reach adulthood. Were you more the Cara or more the "Populazzi" type? How did your experiences shape the book?

Oh, I was so much more Cara than Populazzi! The Populazzi wanted nothing to do with me; I wasn’t even on their radar.

My high school experience was nowhere near as eventful as Cara’s, but what I very much relate to is that sense of wanting to be seen and known. So often back then—especially around “Populazzi” types—I felt like I was bottled up inside myself, so afraid of making a wrong move that I made no move at all and became invisible.

The other element of my reality that made it into the book is my dog, Riley. He likes when I remind people that Trista’s dog Riley is exactly him in every way. He thinks he’s a star now, and demands fresh chicken breast every night. I’m on board.

You had the dream opportunity to work with Hilary Duff on the book Elixir, what was that like?

It was spectacular! It still is spectacular—we’re finishing up the third book in the series right now. It’s called True and it comes out in Spring 2013.

I love working with Hilary. She’s incredibly creative, and I loved her concept for the Elixir series from minute one. Her ear for dialogue is impeccable, her story sense is finely tuned… plus she happens to be one of the kindest and most gracious people I’ve ever met. The whole process with her has just been a joy.

You've also written the scripts for a number of movies and television shows? Do you prefer novels over screenplays or enjoy the mix if writing styles?

I love mixing it up! Dialogue is my favorite thing to write, which makes screenplays particularly fun, but I also love the depth of storytelling you get in a novel. The fact that I get to write both is perfection—I wouldn’t want to give up either.

What are you working on next?

I mentioned True, which will finish up the Elixir trilogy. For anyone with little kids, my new episodes of the PBS show Dinosaur Train are airing now. Beyond those, I’m working on some very cool book and TV projects I love… but it’s too soon to share anything about them. When I can, I promise I’ll post any news fit to print on my website,

Thanks so much for having me on the blog! I appreciate it!