Monday, December 23, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway-a-Day: Day 12 Reese's Trees

Today's prize is also one that's handmade.  And it's got a bit of a story behind it too.  One of the things I love about Christmas is Reese's.  I love them, and I always get some in my stocking at Christmas.  This year for my coworkers, I found instructions on how to make little trees out of Reese's candy.  They turned out pretty cute:

So to the winner of today's prize, you will get a pair of handmade Reese's trees.  What's better than chocolate a Christmas, right?  :)

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below (sometimes it takes a bit to load!). Open to US only (sorry, since it's food!)  

Good luck to all who enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 22, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway-a-Day: Day 11 Christmas Bookmarks

Today's prize is a little bit different.  One of my favorite things to do during Christmas is to hand make some of my presents.  Not everything of course (DVDs are kind of hard to manufacture at home :)   But a small gift every once in awhile packs a big punch and always comes from the heart.

So today's prize is a handmade gift to you.  It's a handmade green cloth bookmark with the word "NOEL" stitched on it.  You can choose from either Gold or Silver stitching.  Unfortunately, my camera decided to act up when I was trying to take pictures to post, so you'll have to imagine how it looks.  Although, I posted pictures of a similar "work in progress" a couple years back, which you can see on this post.

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below (sometimes it takes a bit to load!). Open to US and Canada only.

Good luck to all who enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 21, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway-a-Day: Day 10 Holly Claus

With today's prize we've come to the end of our "santa streak".  I'm very excited about this one.  It's a gently used copy of one of my favorite Christmas picture books, Holly Claus: The Christmas Princess by Brittany Ryan.  I love my copy of this book, so I wasn't about to give it away, which is why I was so excited to find another copy so I can share it with a reader who will love it.

I reviewed this book a few years ago, so if you'd like to see my review of it, click here.

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below (sometimes it takes a bit to load!). Open to US and Canada only.

Good luck to all who enter!

About the Book:
"When young Christopher writes a letter to Santa Claus, he poses a question no one has ever thought to ask before: "Dear Santa Claus, What do you wish for Christmas?"

Miraculously, Santa's longtime wish comes true, and a baby girl is born--Princess Holly Claus. But just as the Land of Forever joyously celebrates her arrival, far away an evil is unleashed. A curse is placed on Holly, freezing her heart in ice so her future will be bound by a world of darkness. And with the Gates of Forever now locked, Santa can no longer spread the magic of Christmas to children everywhere. As soon as Holly finds a way to make a daring escape, she begins an astounding journey to the Empire City, determined to free herself and, once and for all, bring back Christmas.

This extraordinary and beautifully illustrated adventure is an everlasting gift of Christmas enchantment."

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 20, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway-a-Day: Day 9 Love Santa

Today's contest continues along with the santa theme for prizes.  We all know Christmas is more about giving presents than getting presents.  There's been several years where our family has participated in a "giving tree" where you can go and buy presents for a less fortunate family or a girl or boy who isn't expecting to get anything for Christmas.  It's a wonderful experience.  Today's prize, an ARC copy of Love, Santa: A Different Kind of Christmas Story by Sharon Glassman is about that kind of experience.  This is a really cute Christmas book that is sure to make you go "aww...."  And it's short too!

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below (sometimes it takes a bit to load!). Open to US and Canada only.

Good luck to all who enter!

About the Book:
"In this lighthearted book filled with hip illustrations and children's actual letters to Santa, Glassman shows readers how to become an "undercover Santa" by becoming involved with the U.S. Post Office's Operation Santa Claus."

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Guest Post: Lizzy from Cornucopia of Reviews

Today I'm very excited to welcome Lizzy  from the excellent blog Cornucopia of Reviews for a guest post about her favorite holiday traditions (which also happen to match many of my favorites). After you're done reading this post, you should really check out her blog too.  :)  So without further ado, take it away Lizzy!

I absolutely love the holiday season. I mean, it's kind of unhealthy how much holiday cheer I have, even when we have a shorter number of days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The reason why I love it most is because of the time that I get to spend with my family. We all have different schedules, so getting these two weeks a year to catch up and relax together is awesome. Here is how we celebrate:

The weeks leading up to Christmas: It's time to get in the festive spirit. This means that I don't brave the mall (because usually I don't find that too fun). Instead, we start watching Christmas movies and TV episodes. This usually hits me in the 90's nostalgia, and we re-watch a bunch that my dad had originally taped for me at Christmas in 1993 (obviously they are now on DVD...and I sort of miss the game boy and 7up commercials).

We always watch the classics: A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the cartoon), Rudolph, and Garfield's Christmas (which has the best music ever). I always wrap gifts while watching Love Actually and sobbing openly during the sad bits...and usually give up trying to make them look good about halfway through the movie. My favorite, however, is The Santa Clause. So I usually force my family into watching it a couple times in December (sorry I'm not sorry).

I also have a couple of books that I love to read this time each year. I'm not sure why Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a Christmas read for me. Maybe it's because I love that I have time to curl up with some tea and get into Elizabeth's story. So, my poor paperback copy is all worn out...I should probably invest in a second copy...and it's just about time for me to start reading it again.

On Christmas Eve: We go visit extended family, and when we get home it's time to hunker down for my dad's dramatic reading of...

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg: This is a new family tradition that started last year. Both my sister and I are adults, but we talked my dad into reading it aloud to us. It was the most hilarious part of our Christmas. So, I'm looking forward to hearing if my dad has improved altered any of his character voices this year.

We also always watch The Muppet Christmas Carol. I've grown up with the Muppets, and this is one of my favorites. During college I worked in a video rental store, and this was one of the movies that I could consistently watch, shift after shift, without getting sick of! There's something fun about this version...maybe it's because there are jokes for the grownups that I now understand, and maybe because the last ghost was so scary that it still gives me the creeps. Regardless, it's the last thing we do before we all head to bed!
A big thanks to Alyssa for letting me ramble on about my favorite time of year!

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway-a-Day: Day 8 How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas

Well, the next few prizes are going to have a "santa" theme it seems.  Today's a gently used copy of How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas by Jeff Guinn.  This sort of a sequel to Guinn's first book, The Autobiography of Santa Claus (which I loved).  But it can stand on its own too.  The thing that's really cool about both books is that they can be used as sort of an advent calendar as you wait for Christmas to arrive.  There's 24 chapters, so if you read 1 chapter a night (they're short) then you'll be finished by Christmas Eve.

This copy was generously donated by one of the blog readers.  Thanks Jennifer!

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below (sometimes it takes a bit to load!). Open to US and Canada only.

Good luck to all who enter!

About the Book:
"In How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas, Jeff Guinn combines solid historical fact with glorious legend to deliver another heartwarming holiday book for the whole family.

It's 1620 and Mrs. Claus's dear husband is off in the New World planting the seeds of what will become a glorious Christmas tradition. Meanwhile, Mrs. Claus has chosen to stay in England, where the first signs of a dangerous threat to Yuletide cheer are in evidence. The Puritans have gained control of Parliament and appear determined to take all the fun out of Christmas. But Mrs. Claus knows that it's time for serious action when, in 1647, a law is passed by Parliament that actually punishes anyone who celebrates Christmas. Using as its springboard the actual events of a day in 1647 when ten thousand peasants marched through the streets of Canterbury demanding their right to celebrate a beloved holiday, How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas is rich in historical detail, adventure, and plain ol' Christmas fun."

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway-a-Day: Day 7 Celebrating the Spirit

Well, we're halfway through the contests for this year.  I hope you're enjoying them so far.  :)

Today's prize switches back to the true meaning of Christmas for a bit.  It's a darling gift book called Celebrating the Spirit of Christmas will darling illustrations by Tim Coffey. This book may be little, but it's full of all sorts of fun stories, traditions, songs, etc. about the holiday season. I just love the style of the nativity on the cover.

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below (sometimes it takes a bit to load!). Open to US and Canada only.

Good luck to all who enter!

About the Book:
"Charming nativity scenes, roly-poly penguins, and humorous reindeer reflect the wonder of Christmastime. Traditional holiday hues decorate this gift-worthy collection of literary quotes, joyful sentiments, Scriptures, and delicious recipes, ushering in the season with joy and cheer.

This combination of whimsical images and inspirational content will be the hit of the year as an ideal hostess gift, family reader, and centerpiece for all who adorn their heart and home with the true spirit of Christmas."

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway-a-Day: Day 6 Christmas in My Heart

As I've said earlier this month, I love reading Christmas stories.  So the anthologies that pop up a lot around this subject are totally right up my alley.  That's why I love the Christmas in My Heart books.  There's always a lot of good, warm fuzzies type stories in there.  Today's prize is the first book in the collection, which is called Christmas in My Heart by Joe Wheeler.

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below (sometimes it takes a bit to load!).  Open to US and Canada only.

Good luck to all who enter!

About the Book:
"The riches of master storytellers such as Pearl S. Buck, Madelein L'Engle, O. Henry, and Taylor Caldwell are combined with stirring tales by unknown authors and fascinating folktales to form a priceless treasury of holiday classics. Destined to become part of every family's celebrations, this precious treasury of Christmas stories is a gift from the heart. 20 woodcuts throughout."

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 16, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway-a-Day: Day 5 The Shepherd The Angel The Dog

Here's a Christmas story that's perfect for this time of year: The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry.  I read this one last year and absolutely LOVED it.  It's very good.  If you've read a Dave Barry book before, you'll know he's very funny.  Well, I hadn't read one before, so this is a good one to start with I think (because I did :)

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below (sometimes it takes a bit to load!).  Open to US and Canada only.

Good luck to all who enter!

About the Book:
"In this hilarious (USA Today) national bestseller, Pulitzer Prize winning humorist Dave Barry pens one of the warmest, most delightful Christmas stories ever.

The year is 1960, and the Christmas pageant at St. John's Episcopal Church is a very big deal. Doug Barnes is a shepherd this year, which is better than being a Three King, because you get to carry a stick. There are problems, however. The girl he likes is playing Mary opposite a Joseph who is depressingly smart, athletic, and cute; the family dog is doing poorly, and they have no idea what they're going to tell Doug's little sister, Becky; and his dad's just gotten a flat tire, which means they might not even get to the pageant. But Christmas is a time of miracles. And for Doug and his family, this will be the most miraculous Christmas of all.

A Very Barry Christmas should prove a holiday favorite for years to come!" (Kirkus Reviews)"

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 15, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway-a-Day: Day 4 The Penguin Who Wanted to be Different

I'll admit it, my other guilty pleasure besides tween lit is picture books.  But only if they have cute illustrations. Which makes Christmas picture books great, because many of them do have really great illustrations.

Today's prize is one of those books.  A gently used copy of The Penguin Who Wanted To Be Different: A Christmas Wish by Maria O'Neill.  It's a cute book, it's about penguins, and it's about Christmas and Santa.  What's not to like?

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below (sometimes it takes a bit to load!).  Open to US and Canada only.

Good luck to all who enter!

About the Book (summary's not much to go on though...):
"Dorothy Penguin, disturbed that all penguins look alike, asks Santa to grant her wish to be just a little bit different." 

(told you)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 14, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway-a-Day: Day 3 Confessions of a Bitter Secret Santa

So I'll be the first to admit, tween books are my guilty pleasure these days.  And although there's a lot of chick-lit type series around for that 9-12 age group, most of them aren't exactly "quality literature".  But they sure are fun.  So today's prize is a Christmas themed offering from a very fun looking series (hey, it's pink! You know me, can't resist the pink...)  It's a gently used copy of Confessions of a Bitter Secret Santa by Lara Bergen from the Candy Apple series.

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below (sometimes it takes a bit to load!).  Open to US and Canada only.

Good luck to those who enter!

About the Book:
"Christmas . . . bah humbug!

Noel thought Christmas couldn't get any worse. First her parents announce that she wouldn't be taking a cool vacation. Then the teacher announces a class secret Santa drawing - and who does Noel get? A stuck-up new girl she barely knows! And who does her BFF get? Noel's secret crush! Can it get any worse? Yes it can! Because Noel's own secret Santa is the lamest one ever! Now Noel's got visions of Scrooge not sugar plums in her head. . .But Christmas is a time for surprises . . . especially for one bitter, secret Santa."

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 13, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway-a-Day: Day 2 Joy to the World

One of my favorite things to do is to sit down this time of year and share Christmas stories with my family.  So today's prize is a gently used copy of Joy to the World: A Family Christmas Treasury.  This is definitely a book you can't judge by it's cover.  The stuffy medieval thing it's got going doesn't really work very well.  But inside are some great stories, recipes, and songs all perfect for Christmas.  What else can I say?

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below (sometimes it takes a bit to load!).  Open to US only for this one (it's a heavy book).

Good luck to those who enter!

About the Book: 
"CHRISTMAS "A spiritual time. A time for family warmth and closeness. A time for reflection, sharing, and celebration."

"Joy to the World" A Family Christmas Treasury, compiled by Ann Keay Beneduce, with sumptuous and inspiring artwork by the incomparable Gennady Spirin, evokes all the moods of this important and widely celebrated holiday.

Organized around the familiar symbols of Christmas -- the star, the manger, the gift givers, and the tree -- and with a final section focusing on Christmas all around the world, there is something here for every member of the family. Each section begins with a fascinating introduction about the symbol itself, followed by biblical passages, carols, poems, stories, and brief plays, by authors as varied as Beatrix Potter, Langston Hughes, Christina Rossetti, Clement C. Moore, and Truman Capote. The selections -- some familiar, some less well known -- touch on both the spiritual and the secular aspects of Christmas, all woven together with Gennady Spirin's delicate borders and resplendent illustrations. Here is a treasury that will be savored year after year, a rich collection to be shared with little ones, read on its own by older readers, and placed on the piano while everyone gathers to sing "The First Noel," "Silent Night," and "Joy to the World."

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 12, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway-a-Day: Day 1 The False Princess

If you've read today's post, you know that I'm very excited to be offering a brand new copy of The False Princess for today's prize. Thanks to EgmontUSA for sponsoring! To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below. (sometimes it takes a bit to load)

Open to US and Canada only, and ends the 20th at midnight.

Good luck to all who enter!

About the Book:
"Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.

Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.

A dazzling first novel, The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance."

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Verry Merry eShort Week

It seems there's a rise of eShorts popping up in the world of YA lately. You know what I'm talking about, those short stories/prequels/companion stories that accompany some of the hottest YA and MG books, but are only available in electronic book format. Well Egmont USA is celebrating these types of books this week with what they're calling the Very Merry eShort Week (you can read more about it on their Facebook page).

Anyway, those of you who've read this blog awhile know that I'm particularly partial to princess stories of all types. So I was super excited to find out that one of the eShorts being released as part of this promotion is a prequel to the book The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal. It's called "A Royal Birthday":

About the Book:
"This e-short prequel to The False Princess will appeal to fans of Shannon Hale and Tamora Pierce, giving them a new author to love and a new fantasy world to enter, a world filled with wizardry, mystery, and just the right touch of romance.

This prequel introduces the court of Thorvaldor, Nalia, its princess, who has reached the magical age of sixteen, and her best friend, Kiernan, the earl's son who loves her but feels he is too far below her in rank to dream of making a match with her."
Sounds very exciting! I, for one, need to get my hands on a copy. If you're a False Princess fan, then you can pick up your copy of this new eShort here. And if you haven't read The False Princess yet, check out the first day of our Giveaway-A-Day for a chance to win a copy in a publisher sponsored contest. :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rules for the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway-A-Day 2013

Welcome to everyone's favorite part of
A Shady Glade Christmas...the contests!

The 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway-A-Day features a new contest between now and just before Christmas. I’ve got some great stuff planned to give away this year! This year I’m switching to using Rafflecopter to run the contests. I’ve seen it used on a few other sites, and it seems to an easy way to go. The Google form method I used in the past was not always reliable. So since I’m still playing around with the Rafflecopter thing, we’re going to do the easy entry system this year. There will still be ways to earn extra entries, but no creative twists to enter. But there’s always next year…

So how do I enter? Each day, a new giveaway post will be posted on the blog. Each giveaway post will feature a Rafflecopter widget for that day’s giveaway. Simply follow the instructions to enter your name for the contest, and to earn extra chances to win!

Who can enter?
There are only two requirements: you must be a US or Canada resident (sorry international friends!), and you must have a valid email address to enter. Once winners are chosen, you will be asked to provide your mailing address.

Are there extra entries?
Yes! You can earn extra entries on each day’s Rafflecopter post. Details may change from day to day, but in general you can gain extra entries by posting comments, following the blog, and posting links/sharing the contest.

I think that pretty much covers everything. Look for the first contest to be posted tomorrow!

As always, let me know if you have any questions. I will update/expand this post as needed.

Good luck!


So this is what happens when you get busy for a few days and can't come check on the blog (things have been CRAZY at work and in getting ready for Christmas). I had scheduled several posts to go up automatically since the 4th in the days I knew I would be away from the blog... and they didn't work. Rats! So sorry things have been pretty quiet around here, they weren't supposed to be. :/ I'm working on getting everything worked out so they finally post, but I expect it might take a couple days. So in the meantime, last week's posts are missing, but going forward hopefully there won't be problems. Thanks for your patience while I figure things out!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Amazon's Best Books of 2013: Picture Books

So as I was poking around yesterday shopping for Christmas gifts, I came across their best books of 2013 lists.  Since I had discussed the Goodreads lists yesterday, I thought it might be fun to compare the Amazon books as well.

Amazon splits their books up by age category, so since I read a little bit of everything, I'm going to spend a few days looking at all the categories for children's books, which covers picture books through YA.  I'm skipping the board books because, well, I just don't read any board books.

So today's feature is picture books.  I don't read a lot of picture books, since I don't have any kids or nieces and nephews.  But I am a illustration junkie, and I am collecting picture books (slowly) for the day when I might have kids around to enjoy them.  So that being said, for those of you who might also be looking for new books to recommend to little ones, here's's choice of the best picture books of 2013 (with commentary from yours truly :)

1.  The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers - This one looks like a cute one. It actually won the Goodreads Choice Awards in picture books.  I love the idea of crayons "quitting".  If you're looking for a different picture book where office supplies come to life, I highly recommend The Little Red Pen

2.  Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld - A train book for kids, what's  not to like.  This one looks cute, I might have to grab it from the library to check out the illustrations further too. 

3.  Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney - Another addition to the Llama Llama series of picture books, so not surprising this one made the list. I haven't ever read any of these, but they must do well because there's way more of them published than I thought. Interesting that this one takes on the subject of bullying that seems to be prevalent these days.

4.   I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love by Nancy Tillman - Another one I am not familiar with. I sense that will be a theme on this post... This one looks like another sentimental, bring tears to your eyes picture book a la Love You Forever.
5.  Journey by Aaron Becker - The illustrations of this one look AMAZING. Looks like a wordless picture book from the preview on Amazon, but I'm not sure if it is or not. Reminds me of the graphic novel works that Kazu Kibuishi does.

6.  Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner - What's not to love with this one? It has a cat in it! The premise reminds me a bit of the Binky the Space Cat books.

7.  Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown - Not getting much about this one from the synopsis on Amazon. Looks like it might be interesting though. Does it make of anyone else think of Leo the Late Bloomer? I don't know why, maybe it's the tiger...

8.  Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson - This one looks cute. An interactive type book about the seasons. Very fun. But I'd have to say my absolute all-time favorite book about different seasons is Un-Brella by Scott Franson.

9.  Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey by Emily Winfield Martin - I love how when a synopsis has "for fans of (Book A) and (Book B)" and I've never heard of either book, and therefore the comparison means nothing to me. Yeah, that's pretty much this book. Great looking illustrations though.

10.  Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street by Mark Lee and Kurt Cyrus - This books like a book my brother would have LOVED when he was growing up. Seriously, what little boy doesn't love a book about big trucks?

11.  Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett and Kevin Cornell - A counting book of sorts. It looks like the little details in the illustrations totally make this book what it is.

12.  Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great by Bob Shea - Another finalist from the Goodreads Awards. I have to say I think I need to pick this one up. I love just about anything with unicorns, even sarcastically speaking. And if you'd like a recommendation for another mythological beast picture book, I absolutely adored reading Dragons Love Tacos earlier this year.

13.  Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg by Lori Mortensen and Michael Allen - Another kid no brainer. Love anything with cowboys. This one is written in verse too, which is pretty darn tricky to do! Seems like it would be easy, but somehow in a picture book it's not.

14.  If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead - The synopsis on Amazon says this is a "quiet" picture book. Not really sure what that means, but if there's a cover I'd chose from these that's quiet, this would be it.

15.  The Bear's Song by Benjamin Chaud - This almost sounds a little bit like Finding Nemo, only with bears. The illustrations are definitely unique, but I'm not sure I'm sold on them yet. Guess I'll need to reserve judgement until I see them in person.

16.  Hello, My Name Is Ruby by Philip C. Stead - And for some reason, this one makes me think of Are You My Mother? Weird these connections my brain keeps coming up with...

17.  The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman and Bagram Ibatoulline - So this is the lone book on this list I've actually read. I enjoyed it, I thought it was an interesting concept, and it does a good job of getting the message across. The illustrations didn't particularly stand out to me, but I think they were appropriate for the subject. This is another one that made it on the Goodreads finalist list.

18.  Ol' Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein - I love squirrels. I think they're cute. But the squirrels in this book do not look cute. Hmmm... think this is one where the text better outshine the illustrations for sure.

19.  Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton by Meghan McCarthy - I've never heard of Betty Skelton before, maybe because she's probably outshadowed by Amelia Earhart. But this looks like it might be interesting. I don't read a lot of non-fiction picture books, but my favorite that I read this year is from one of my favorite standby authors Kathleen Krull: Louisa May's Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women.

20.  Toys in Space by Mini Grey - This one reminds me a lot of Toy Story. It might be interesting to pick it up and see where they go with it.

Well, there you have it, Amazon's top 20 picture books for the year. But I have to say, I haven't read most of them, so I don't really know if I agree or not. But in the realm of picture books I've read this year, I highly recommend Mustache Baby, Memoirs of a Goldfish, and it's companion Memoirs of a Hamster. Great illustrations, great stories, great concepts. You can't go wrong with any of those 3 for sure.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Goodreads Best Books of 2013

One of the things you're bound to see this time of year as we come to a close is "Best Of" lists.  And books are no exception of course.  I'm participating in the Cybils again this year, which is sort of a cross between the Newberrys and the Webby Awards (popularity meets literary merit). 

One of the things I look forward to every year is voting on the Goodreads Choice Awards. Now, these are pure popularity.  The winners were recently announced and it's made me realize something: I really don't like most popular books.  Sure, I enjoyed Twilight and Hunger Games, and Harry Potter are some of my favorites, but beyond that, the books that seem to be popular are not the one I'm drawn to.  Interesting. 

In some ways, I'm not really sure why I look forward to the Goodreads Choice Awards, because the books I pick almost never win.  Okay, one did this year, the Jim Henson book in History.  Which I actually haven't even read, but just picked because I love Jim Henson.  And come to think of it, if lots of other people do the same thing I do (just pick books they recognize) then perhaps that's why the popular books are the ones that always win.  Hmmmm...

Anyway, if you'd like to see the books Goodreads members chose as the best books for 2013, head over to the awards page on the Goodreads site.  You can also look at past year winners too. 

Monday, December 02, 2013

Guest Posts Needed for 2013

One of my favorite things about doing A Shady Glade Christmas every year (despite last year's hiatus) is the guest posts I get contributed by my wonderful readers.  After a few years, it's a bit of a struggle to think of things to talk about (LOL).  And I can probably rack my brains and come up with 25 things to talk about, but I also love hearing about things from you!

We’ve had some great posts over the years about various favorite Christmas books or movies, holiday traditions, family heirlooms, and even how they celebrate Christmas in Australia.

I want YOU to participate this year. If you’ve done a guest post here in the past, we’d love to have you back again. And I’d also love to have new people. Those of you who are new blog readers or just haven’t stepped up to a do a post before.

You can pick anything for your subject as long as it’s holiday themed. Share your favorite Christmas book or movie, and why you love it or watch it every year. What traditions do participate in? What's special about the way you celebrate?  Do you celebrate a different holiday other than Christmas (like Kwanzaa or Hanukkah?) Tell us about them! Don’t celebrate any holidays? What’s your favorite thing about December or winter? Pretty much anything goes, as long as it has something to do with this time of year.

So please, we want to read your guest posts! They don’t have to be long or fancy, just heartfelt.

If you are interested, send me an email at shadyglade (AT) mail (DOT) com (not gmail, just regular, and no spaces) with the subject you’d like to post about AND a day you want it to be posted. If you don’t care what day, at least give me a week that works for you so we can set up a deadline to get it to me. If you’re having trouble with email, please leave me a comment.

Here’s looking forward to some great entries!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

A Shady Glade Christmas Returns in 2013!

So after a year hiatus, we've come to the first of December, which means:


A Shady Glade Christmas is back for the fourth year. I started this tradition back in 2009, when on a fluke I decided to do a holiday themed post for every day in December.  And I thought it would be a one-time thing.  But I was asked if I was going to do it again the next year.  And the next.  And so it kind of took of, and there you have it. 

For those of you who are new, A Shady Glade Christmas is a series of posts celebrating all things Christmas, wintery, and holiday. The goal is to have at least one post relating to this event a day from now until Christmas on the 25th. There's book reviews, reflections, gift lists, and of course the always popular 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway.

If you'd like to join in, I am always really excited to have people submit guest posts. Share with us your favorite winter/Christmas/holiday book/movie/song/tradition. It doesn't have to be long or fancy, and don't worry if you're not a good writer. It's the content we care about after all. If you're interested in doing a guest post, check out the call for them at this post.

And for those of you who have a blog or website, feel free to grab the button for the month of December.  It'll help you out for the contest later... *hint hint*

If you're interested, you can also read past Shady Glade Christmas posts by searching under the Christmas label.  

Happy holidays everyone!

<center><a href=""><img style="WIDTH: 180px; HEIGHT: 125px; CURSOR: hand" src="" /></a></center>

Monday, November 25, 2013

Did you notice the shiny new links?

So after wanting to do this forever, I finally put up some "pages" for the blog.  They're up there at the top, right below the header.  See them? 

Okay, so they're kind of faint right now, and they didn't turn out exactly how I wanted them to, but it's a start.  I eventually want to switch to buttons instead of straight links.  But that involves a graphics edit program and some HTML and unfortunately I'm too busy with other things to mess with all of that at the moment.  Darn. 

But at least they are still there!  I've got several pages for my list of past posted reviews, including by title, author, or genre, as well as a few other lists and things up there too.  As always, it's a work in progress too...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Updates and News

Okay people. I know I’ve been a little absent again lately. It’s amazing how much real life when you have a 9 to 5 job just gets in the way sometimes. Cuz I don't actually work 9 to 5, it's more like I get up for work at 5:00 in the morning, and don't get home until 5:00 in the evening, and then I have to make dinner, finish any errands that need to be completed for the next day, and be in bed again by 9:00ish. :)

The latest thing on my list is the Cybils reading period, of course. I’m on the Young Adult Non-Fiction panel this year, which is completely new territory for me. So I’m going to start a new series of posts: My Adventures in Non-Fiction. It will be a (hopefully) weekly update on my general reading progress as I experience the world of YANF. I’m also going to try and make an effort to do better about reviewing the Cybils books. Unfortunately that means there won’t be many reviews of anything except Non-Fiction for awhile, but I’m going to try and mix in some other reviews from time to time as well.

In other news, I will be doing A Shady Glade Christmas again this year. Which means I will once again be asking for guest posts. So if you have a favorite Christmas/holiday tradition, movie, book, song, etc. you’d like to write about, send me an email at shadyglade (AT) mail (DOT) com and let me know. You don’t have to do the post right away, just email so I have an idea of how many volunteers I have. I’ll be putting out another “official” guest post call probably next week. Even if you’ve participated before, if you would like to join in again, that’s great. Otherwise everyone will have to listen to me all month. Haha. You can see posts done from the years of 2009-2011 (2012, last year, I was part of my "year off") by searching for posts with the Christmas label.

So here’s hoping things will get back on track soon!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Don't Forget to Nominate!

Sorry things have been a little sparse around here lately.  I've found it just a bit difficult to get back to hobby things after losing Greysen a few weeks ago.  But life goes on and things are slowly returning to normal. 

I've been out of it enough that I've forgotten to remind everyone to make sure you nominate your favorite books of 2013 for this year's Cybils.  Pretty much any book published between 10/16/12 and 10/15/2013 for children, middle grade, or YA is eligible. 

Head over to the Cybils site for all the details, and to nominate your favorites.  You have just over a week (until October 15th) to get those votes in!

And please, if anyone knows of a good YA non-fiction title published this year, make sure you nominate it! As I mentioned before, that's my category, and we're a little sparse on books.  :)

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Ever After High

Today's pick requires a bit of a different introduction...

Has anyone heard of Monster High?  It's a book by Lisi Harrison.  I picked it up a couple years ago because Lisi was the author of one of my guilty pleasure series at that time, The Clique.  It's about a high school where many of the students are actually the sons/daughters of famous movie monsters (Frankenstein, Dracula, etc.) trying to fit in a normal high school.

Well, as it turns out, Monster High is actually a line of fashion dolls from Mattel.  I found that out the hard way when Googling pictures of the cover.  And I don't know which came first, the dolls or the book (or maybe the were released pretty close to each other).  But it turns out has all sorts of stuff that's worlds beyond the book I first read. 

So why do I bring it up?  Well, Little, Brown Book and Mattel have teamed up again.  This time, it's called Ever After High.

Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale

 About the Book (copy from "At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens...whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End-both for a story and for a life.As the daughter of the Evil Queen, Raven Queen's destiny is to follow in her mother's wicked footsteps, but evil is so not Raven's style. She's starting to wonder, what if she rewrote her own story? The royal Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, has a happy ever after planned for herself, but it depends upon Raven feeding her a poison apple in their future.What if Raven doesn't sign the Storybook of Legends? It could mean a happily never after for them both."

So why this pick, when I am obviously so not the target audience for this series?  Two words: Shannon Hale.  I don't think Little, Brown could have picked a better author to bring this new series to life.  And I am so, so excited.  

It's kind of an odd twist really.  Monster High started out as a series of Young Adult books, but after about 4 or so, switched to more of the middle grade audience.  I'm sure it's because it more closely matched the demographic of the site.  For me, I discovered the site after I had read 2 of the books.  I enjoyed the storyline on the website much more.  The YA books just felt like they tried to be so full of teenage DRAMA!!!! and they just tried a bit too hard.  The website is totally cool with the idea that this is a world populated with monsters, while the books tried to squeeze them into everyday life.  I just don't think the message meshed as well.  

Anyway, this series is starting out fulling in the MG category.  Which is fine by me, because as I said before if it's Shannon Hale I will read it, no matter what age group it's meant for.  And as fun as the idea of sons/daughters of  monsters is, the idea of fairy tale offspring is much more appealing to my romantic nature.  :)  I've poked around a bit at already, where they already have some videos introducing the characters and such up.  Looks like it will be a great fun/fluffy series to try.  Really, it's very squarely in the "tween" category, but who says you're too old to satisfy your inner child on occasion?

 Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends will be released on October 8th, 2013.

Available at in Hardcover or Kindle
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Check availability on  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Hero

Okay, for today's pick we're dragging up the fairy tale them.  I know, I know, AGAIN.  But this one looks like something different.  So trust me on this one.

Hero by Alethea Kontis
About the Book (copy from "Rough and tumble Saturday Woodcutter thinks she's the only one of her sisters without any magic—until the day she accidentally conjures an ocean in the backyard. With her sword in tow, Saturday sets sail on a pirate ship, only to find herself kidnapped and whisked off to the top of the world. Is Saturday powerful enough to kill the mountain witch who holds her captive and save the world from sure destruction? And, as she wonders grumpily, "Did romance have to be part of the adventure?" As in Enchanted, readers will revel in the fragments of fairy tales that embellish this action-packed story of adventure and, yes, romance."

Hero is the second book in the Woodcutter Sisters series.  The first one, Enchanted, came out in May of last year.  It was about the sister named Sunday and was sort of a retelling of The Frog Prince.  I guess it did well enough that Harcourt decided to purchase 2 companion novels, this one and the next one which is tentatively titled Beloved and due out next year.  According to the author's website, ideally it would be a 7 book series, one book for each sister, so if you read this (or the first one) and like it, make sure you buy everyone a copy so she can keep writing with them.  

I don't see any specific fairy tales on this one based on just the description, but supposedly like the first it'll have kind of a mish mash of them.  But I like that it's own book too.  Kind of like the Dealing With Dragons books by Patricia C. Wrede (still one of my all-time favorite series).  

That being said, I have to say it (again).  I don't like the cover.  Apparently it went through a LOT of revisions (I've been poking around the author's blog a bit).  In fact, the other cover I see most of is this one on the right, which is pretty much the same cover only with a turquoise-y dress instead of the gray.  Which, I guess I can see why they turned to a gray dress, since Saturday is apparently kind of a tomboy.  But both just kind of look weirdly photoshopped to me, but the color of the blue/green dress is better in my opinion.  Makes me wonder what the color of the actual dress was.  The other thing I don't like is her hands.  I think she's wearing gloves, but do you think they look weird?  Hmmm...

Hero will be released on October 1st, just under a week away!

Available at in Hardcover or Kindle
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Check availability on 

Friday, September 20, 2013

RIP to the best cat ever

Last night was one of the hardest nights of my life. 

It actually started out pretty good.  I got to see the new movie adaptation of Shannon Hale's book Austenland (which was excellent, by the way).  But upon coming home, I discovered something was very wrong. 

Greysen, my cat of 18 years, developed a blood clot in his left front shoulder last night.  This meant the whole leg was dragging on the ground, and he was in extreme amounts of pain.  We rushed him to the emergency vet, and it took them a few hours to figure out they weren't sure what was wrong with him.  They decided to keep him for overnight observation, and told us with some pain medication and fluids he would probably be okay and would send him home.  Then came the call at close to 11:00.  They had discovered the blood clot, it was causing him huge amounts of pain, and there was no cure save amputation, which he only have a 10% chance of surviving.  So we returned to the vet for what we knew would be his last time.  Making that decision was awful. And the sad thing was, that after $600.00 of tests to figure out what was wrong, I didn't even get to take him home with me. 

I've had a pretty rough night.  But I can take a small amount of comfort in the fact that he did live a long life for a cat, and it was probably best to let him go so he wouldn't have to suffer anymore. 

So here's to you Greysen, my baby, who I raised from a kitten.  Rest in Peace buddy. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's that time again...

Well, it was officially posted on Monday, so I guess I can share now. 

I'm glad to announce that I will be returning as a Round 1 panelist to the CYBILS (Children's and Young Adult Literary Blogger Awards) this year.  However, in a twist of events, I will be working in the new Young Adult nonfiction category this year. 

I wasn't able to participate last year because of my "blogging gap", so this is very exciting for me.  I've been on the CYBILS every other year since the first one in 2006, and its familiar territory to be ramping up for the things now that it's fall.  Of course, YA non-fiction is pretty much an alien genre to me, so it will be interesting to see how it goes.  :)

If you've never heard of the CYBILS before, head over to their website to check it out.  It's one of the most awesome grassroots movements in the kidlit blogosphere.  And for those of you who already know what they are, don't forget nominations are around the corner, and open on October 1st!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Battle Magic

Today's post is another edition from a long-time favorite author.  I'm excited for this one!
Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce

About the Book (copy from "NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Tamora Pierce returns to the magical world of Winding Circle.

On their way to the first Circle temple in Gyongxi, mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy pay a visit to the emperor's summer palace. Although treated like royalty when they first arrive, the mages soon discover that the emperor plans to invade Gyongxi, posing a fatal threat to the home temple of the Living Circle religion. Accompanied by one of the emperor's prize captives, the three mages rush to Gyongxi to warn its citizens of the impending attack. With the imperials hot on their trail, Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy must quickly help the country prepare for battle. But even with the help of new allies, will their combined forces be enough to fight the imperial army and win the war?" 

In case you're wondering, Gyongxi is pronounced "Gee-yong-she".  And I only know that because it's been mentioned in a few of the other books, and I've listened to the audio recordings of those books.  Which were narrated by the author.  So she knows what she's talking about.  :)

I love Tamora Pierce.  She's been one of my favorite authors forever.  Her book Wild Magic is the first "grown up" book I can remember picking out and buying myself from the bookstore. And by grown up book, I really mean, the first book I bought that wasn't a Baby Sitters Club book (I loved those in 4th and 5th grade).   From there I've read pretty much every book she's written, and many of them are among my favorites.

This book is another offering in the Circle Reforged series, set in Pierce's so called "Circle Universe" (which mostly means it doesn't take place in her other world, Tortall).  If you aren't familiar with her books I'll give you a quick rundown.  This is actually the 3rd series set with these characters.  The first four books, the Circle of Magic books, are about Briar and his three foster sisters when they are young and first coming into their magic.  The second series, the Circle Opens quartet, is about how each of the main four characters go off with their mentors out into the world and the individual adventures/experiences they have out there, which includes getting a new student to teach for each of them.

Then there's the Circle Reforged.  Which is a little odd.  It's about the four main characters getting back together, although there's a side story in there too. The first one, The Will Of The Empress, is about the main characters.  Then there's Melting Stones, which is actually about Evvy and Rosethorn only.  It happens either after or concurrently to The Will of the Empress (still a little fuzzy on that chronology).  And now, here's the third book, Battle Magic, which must take place before either of the other two books, because their experiences are referenced in both of the Circle Reforged books mentioned above.  

Whew!  So I guess that's a long way of saying I've been waiting for this book for a long time.  Based on the references in the other books, this one might turn out to be a little bloody.  War is never fun and games, and Street Magic (the Briar book in the Circle Opens quartet) tended towards the violent as well.  Must be a guy thing. Hmmmm.... But despite that, I've been dying to know exactly what happened, rather than the bits and pieces we've been given in the previous two books.  

If you're new to the series, and you want to pick it up, here's a word of caution.  Although usually Tamora Pierce's books can stand on their own, you'll enjoy them more if you have the background.  For this one, you'll really need to read all the books in the Circle of Magic series (Sandry's Book, Tris's Book, Daja's Book, Briar's Book) to get a background and feel for these characters.  From the Circle Opens series, you'll probably only need to read Street Magic, which is where Briar meets Evvy.  And I imagine you don't need to read either of the other Circle Reforged books, since chronologically this one takes place first. 

 So, I really didn't mean for this post to be this long.  You see how I gush when I talk about this author.  :) 

Battle Magic will be released on September 24, 2013.

Available at in Hardcover or Kindle
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Check availability on

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: United We Spy

Today's pick is the conclusion to one of my favorite series: The Gallagher Girls.  WARNING: If you haven't read the previous books, this description may contain spoilers for the previous books in the series.

United We Spy by Ally Carter

About the Book (copy from "Cammie Morgan has lost her father and her memory, but in the heart-pounding conclusion to the best-selling Gallagher Girls series, she finds her greatest mission yet. Cammie and her friends finally know why the terrorist organization called the Circle of Cavan has been hunting her. Now the spy girls and Zach must track down the Circle’s elite members to stop them before they implement a master plan that will change Cammie—and her country—forever."  

Love, love, love Ally Carter and pretty much everything she does.  I am a little sad to see the end of these books though, I've enjoyed it so much.  But if you haven't already, you should really pick up this series.  Also, I highly recommend Heist Society and it's sequels as well.  Instead of spies, those books are about thieves, and they also have lots of adventure and spy-ish sneaking around.  

Anyway, I'm kind of lucky in that I haven't gotten my hands on Book 5 yet (Out of Sight, Out of Time) because apparently it has a huge cliffhanger ending.  Which sounds worse than the what-I-thought-was-a-cliffhanger endings of Book 3 and Book 4.  Anyway, it works out well for me, since soon I will be able to pick up Books 5 and 6 right after each other.  

On a side note, if you have read Ally's books and enjoy them, and you happen to have a Kindle, or access to a Kindle app for PC/Android/iPhone/iPad, you should really check out Double Crossed.  It's a novella that combines characters from the Gallagher Girl books and the Heist Society books.  As far as I can tell it takes place between Uncommon Criminals and Perfect Scoundrels on the thieves side and between Out of Sight, Out of Time and this book on the Gallagher Girls side.  And the best part?  It's free to download!  That's right, it's a bonus story that won't cost you anything.  Unlike some publishers (*cough* Harper Collins *cough*) who offer bonus short stories/novellas at a nominal fee.  I've already downloaded my copy, but I'm waiting until I read GG#5 before I dive into it. 

 Anyway, United We Spy will be released just around the corner, on September 17th.  

Available at in Hardcover or Kindle
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Check availability on  

And don't forget...
Double Crossed is available for free download on Kindle