I’ll Take the High Road

Today’s blog post is dedicated to all those who love the gleam of chrome, the smell of a freshly waxed auto, and the thrill of the journey ahead. For every motorist, dreamer, and person with a little bit of wanderlust, this is a book for you. 

Andrew Montgomery has produced a true tribute to Americana and the on-the-move outlook of the United States. On the Road is a treasure trove of fun facts and interesting tales. Following each of America’s most famous highways, this book recounts the history of each and follows the paths that each carves out. Route 66, in all its glory, the Lincoln Highway, and Highway 1 are just a few of the stars of this book. As readers, we are taken on a trip to the places that, though simple, are part of American iconography. This book documents twelve different

routes, complete with information on gas stations, tourist attractions, great dining experiences, and the media that has made these places famous, whether through books, television, film, or even music. Gear-heads will also be pleased to find a generous assortment of (mostly) classic cars throughout the book, with information on how the car relates to the highway’s history, the period it was made, and its own fame. For all those who have traveled these roads or just have a mild interest in making the trip someday, On the Road is a wonderfully told ride that will make even the biggest homebody long for a taste of adventure on these highways.

I immensely enjoyed this book. It was a great read and a great trip into the past. For someone who has grown up watching such films as Cars, listening to the song “Route 66”, and appreciating iconic vehicles, this was an instant hit with me. I love nonfiction reads that are well-written and filled with just enough pictures to keep from being a textbook. On the Road was truly one of these such books and it was enjoyable. I highly recommend y’all pick it up, as you will not be disappointed.

Chime Time: Have you ever traveled one of America’s iconic roadways and if so, which one?

 

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Stepping Out in Style

Hello world! Oh my Disney, this weekend was Dapper Day 2017, the autumn edition. Attendees were dressed to the nines; gents were smart, ladies chic. It was truly a day to travel back in time.

Dressed in a vintage Donald Duck Disneybound and excited for the day ahead, my parents and I entered. From the stage, 1940’s music filled the hall. All around us was the fun spirit of the past, captured in the folks garbed in their finest. It’s easy to feel elegant or classy in such an atmosphere.

Most booths sold dapper daywear, including
fashionable accessories such as pins, cuff links,
hankies, and hats. A particular booth sold clever Disney villain inspired stickers which I particularly liked. One of the biggest booths featured was a vintage makeup collection from Besame, who partnered with Disney to make their Snow White-based line. The
packaging was beautiful and the salespersons very amicable. All the ladies wore Snow White Disneybounds, each personalized in a unique way.

 

 

Many of those at the event were dressed so nice I couldn’t resist asking for photographs. All were gracious enough to allow me to capture their images.

A clever 1920’s Maleficent inspired Disneybound

A vendor at a Unicorn Crafts booth. Her outfit was so cute!

A prim but fun Disneybound inspired by Jane from Tarzan.

Yet another stylish Disneybound, this one based off of Jasmine.

Another gracious saleslady from the Besame booth

At one particular booth, I met Tiffany Mink, you tuber of the former Thingamavlogs channel and her current personal stream Tiffany Mink. She was particularly kind. letting me take her picture and taking a picture with me. She also thoughtfully let me have a Thingamavlogs pin.

In addition to fun meet ups, there were several unique readers, leather-workers, and photographers, we viewed before leaving. After validating parking via Starbucks coffee and treats, we headed out. Though saying goodbye to Disneyland is always bittersweet, there will be plenty of memories to savor.

Happy Dapper Day, ya’ll!

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Spooktacular Reads: Part 2

This week we return to Spooktacular Reads with even more books to enjoy. As stated previously, these are all clean children’s reads that are fun for the whole family. The colorful illustrations and vivid storytelling are sure to please readers young and old alike.

Today’s first pick is The Story of the Jack O’Lantern. This book tells the tale of Jack, a mean spirited soul who takes what he wants and never thinks of the consequences. One cold Halloween night, Jack makes a deal with the devil – quite literally. Hungry for a sumptuous meal but out of the funds to pay for it, he agrees to pay back his debt on the day he dies. Wandering for years and continuing his stingy ways, Jack never thinks about his debt…until one night as he carves away at a stolen pumpkin, the stranger returns. It’s time to pay back his debt, but Jack is not dead yet. Though he survives an attack via a burning coal, Jack is condemned to wander the earth forever; never to find a place to stay, with only a glowing pumpkin to light his way. This chilling tale will be something to remember as children carve their own pumpkins during the Halloween season.

Our next pick is Boo!, the tale of a ghost who just wants to be the scariest of them all at his school’s Scariest Spook Competition. But what will make him scary enough? Will paint make him scarier? Boo! Will fangs and dark wings make him scarier? Boo! What will make him scary? Follow this little ghost in a simple picture book that is fun for the whole family to read. The illustrative narrative is simple to follow and even the youngest readers can enjoy reading the book without any difficulty. The story is also rather sweet and is fun to enjoy.

The last pick of the day is Trick Arr Treat. This fun spin on Halloween night is a perfect representation of what every kid thinks Halloween is about. Getting together with a pack of friends, putting on an awesome costume, and pillaging – er, politely asking adults for treats. Complete with appropriate punctuations of pirate exclamations, funny moments, and an enjoyable battle, this book is what it means to have fun. It is colorful, entertaining, and true to the spirit of the season. Kids and adults alike will love reading through, even if it’s just to say “Arr” over and over.

I hope you all are looking forward to his Halloween; I know I certainly am. Let me know what your favorite part about Halloween is. Have a spooktacular October!

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Spooktacular Reads

Though I’m a huge Halloween fan, I know many people love the opportunity to dress up, munch on some sweet treats, and have ghoulish fun. In the spirit of October, I decided to pick three of my more spooktacular reads to share with ya’ll. These are sweet, family-friendly picks that the whole family can read and love, so if you’re not one for the darker side of Halloween, you needn’t worry.

Our first read of the day is The Heebie-Jeebie Jamboree. Sam and Daphne love Halloween and this year they can’t wait to enjoy it together – but wait! When mysterious tickets find them, each for the Heebie-Jeebie Jamboree, the two kids decide to head for the festivities. The dazzling midway is truly magical. Daphne can’t wait to check everything out. That is, until she notices Sam has gone missing. Where has her brother gone?! Can Daphne navigate this fun land and find him before the night is out?

The next story is Carl Reiner’s Tell Me a Scary Story… But Not Too Scary. This story Iloved in particular because for those of you who don’t know, Carl Reiner was part of one of my favorite TV shows The Dick Van Dyke Show. This story begins with a grandpa’s scarystory as told to his grandchild on a cool autumn night. Following the adventure of a young boy who ventures into the terrifying basement of his neighbor’s house to return a frightening glass eye. This book is a treasure, with its creepy narrative, moody art, and funny ending.

 

There’s a skeleton high in our sycamore tree, high as high can be. He was hung up there by my sister and me, high in our sycamoretree….At night when the wind howls overhead, with ghoulish, ghastly glee, our skeleton dances the dance of the dead, there in our sycamore tree. This frightening tale will be sure to delight both children and adults alike as they read the tale of two children who decorate their tree with a skeleton for Halloween. But the morning after All Hallows Eve, Fred McFree is gone! Where has he disappeared to?

These three books are a scream! Children and adults can appreciate each without getting too petrified and the childlike idea of dressing up these authors use is to be appreciated. I highly recommend you pick up these and similar books at your local library to get into the mood of this “spooktacular” October!

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Say What?!

As a child, reading was a safe haven where every book was like traipsing through Beatrix
Potter’s world. Innocent, carefree, it was a world of hope and freedom, where every danger was easily escapable. When reading classics, my parents chose select books that seldom, if ever, had a word I couldn’t use. It would take me a while before I learned what these words really were.

As a writer, one must wonder then: what is okay for me to write? I, personally, don’t
believe in the usage of language, well, EVER, but there are some who do choose to include “mild” or even severe language when writing for everyone from children to adults. And if it’s not language, it’s often romance or a darker theme that preys upon realistic fears. A major concern I have for the future of children’s books is that kids will be forced to grow up prematurely when they ask the oh-so-innocent question, “what does that mean?” However, I believe there is still a hope for future literature and it starts with new writers like me.

There is always a new generation of authors hoping to break free, many of them Christian like me. In fact, I have been filled with hope by the debuts I’ve seen of multiple adult writers who are Christian and create clean content for children’s reading. Personally, being a girl, I am okay with including some romantic hints and even more blatant relationships, so long as they are conducted in a godly, clean manner. If there is evil, it will be kept to a minimum. It is in fact, in my opinion, better to leave darkness to the imagination, where the unknown can be as mild or as twisted as one likes – though here’s hoping your brain leans towards the mild side.

Perhaps the perfect guidelines can be found in the best text of all:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

While there may be conflict depicted in our writing, let it be overcome. If there is romance, let it be following God’s depiction of a pure relationship. If there is action…well, people will die in the most non-brutal way possible.

Today, let our hearts and minds be clean and pure as we write so that when children read, they will be uplifted.

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The Van Gogh Deception

No one knows his name. No one knows where he belongs. No one knows who he is.

Not even him.

And what no one really knows is what might just get this mysterious boy killed. Arthur (as the tag on his jacket is labeled) can’t remember anything, but he knows things. Weird things. He knows what Paris is like. He knows what minerals are used in hundred year old paints. And he somehow knows everything about the long-lost Van Gogh collection that is opening at the National Gallery of Art. What he doesn’t know is why in the past 24 hours, everything has been turned upside down. A mysterious piece of plastic, kidnapping, and frantic escape are just parts of the startling revelation taking place. Filled with twists and turns, Art is not sure who he is and what he knows – but it’s enough to get him killed.

Deron Hicks adeptly weaves an enchanting tale of intrigue and suspense. In this race against time, readers must try to decipher the clever clues dropped and uncover the truth with the two resourceful main characters, Camille and Art. It is a thrill ride of a story with twists and turns cleverly written to throw readers for a loop. As the daughter of an artist and art enthusiast/museum lover, I admit that I probably had much more of an advantage than most kids, for whom this book is meant to introduce them to art and art history. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it and highly recommend this book for readers of all levels. A warning to younger readers though: it is a bit thick if you’re used to simpler reads. Also, for art lovers or just curious perusers, there are codes to be scanned so that kids can learn more about the art throughout.

Chime Time! Have you read any art mysteries, such as Chasing Vermeer or Masterpiece? If so, leave a comment and tell me what it was!

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Around the World in 100 Days

the Wager: £6, 000

the Year: 1891

the Terms: 100 days; to circle the entire globe in an automobile.

the Vehicle: The Flash, a custom-built, steam-powered motorcar.

the Stakes: INCONCEIVABLY HIGH

Harry has a talent for disappointing his father, the world-renowned Phileas Fogg. A drop-out of Eton, a non-conformer to English nobility, and an avid car enthusiast, Harry Fogg is anything but the proper gentleman his family expects him to be. When an associate of his father’s mocks the Flash, an ingenious automobile that he and his best friend Johnny have put all their time into, Harry makes a wager that will affect his future forever: a race. And not just any race. A world tour in only 100 days. To beat out competition might be incredibly difficult. To circumnavigate the entire globe in only a motorcar is an impossible feat. Along with Johnny (his mechanic and friend), Charles Hardiman (the son of one of his enemies), and the mysterious Elizabeth (a plucky and quick-witted newspaper reporter), Harry has one shot of proving himself to not only to his father, but to the world itself. The clock is ticking. On your marks…Get set….Race!

Inspired by the true ventures of Nelly Bly and George Train and Jules Verne’s classic book Around the World in 100 Days, Gary Blackwood’s sweeping adventure novel will have you in the seat of the Flash, hanging on for dear life, and hoping for the outcome. The book is well-told and well-paced, filled with all you’d expect from a sequel to the original story. Fans of his work and similar adventure novels will enjoy the feisty characters, various misadventures, and general mischief that the book delivers.

 

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The Lighthouse Family

Today’s review is on a sweet little series of children’s books that are perfect for readers, both young and old.

In a lonely lighthouse upon the sea, there lived a cat named Pandora. Though she loved the lighthouse, she couldn’t help feeling lonely. That is until the day when Seabold the dog appears and brings a little bit of fun back into the lighthouse. And it’s not long after that, they discover three little storm-battered children Whistler, Lila, and Tiny. Together, they are the Lighthouse Family. With each new season there are roads to travel, avenues to be explored, and adventures to be had.

This is such a quaint series. It’s simply illustrated and I love the fact that it is a world of  anthropomorphic animals who live in harmony. Animals that live in homes, enjoy breakfast together, and enjoy taking long picnics are my delight. I love reading Wind in the Willows, Brambly Hedge is magical, and Beatrix Potter’s universe is where my imagination frequented.

For readers of a similar mindset, they will love this little series, perfect for a beginning reader, a seasoned veteran, or a parent reading to a child.

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Mighty Jack

Once upon a time, a poor boy sold a cow for a handful of beans. A beanstalk grew. A giant fell. And they all lived happily ever after.

Or did they? 

Because this is not the fairytale you thought you knew…

For most of his life, Jack has had to deal with an absent father, a mom who’s always over-working herself just to support them, and an autistic sister. All he wants is to get away from his life – or at least change it. And that’s exactly what’s about to happen. When a mysterious street vendor offers them a box of seeds, life takes an unusual turn. Their garden isn’t just a normal garden anymore and nothing is what it seems. Dragons, a sword-wielding new friend, and a monster that lies at the edge of his dreams; things are just getting started. Jack may not have been prepared for this adventure, but he’s going to have to dive right in and face his fears – before it’s too late.

It seems I’m always discovering books at the library. Well, what can I say? This unique read was just begging me to pick it up and who was I to refuse? I am so excited to share this graphic novel with you. It was a truly enjoyable ride of a story and I highly recommend it. I know that adults used to have a phobia about kids and comics, but I truly believe that comics/graphic novels, when done right, can be just as powerful a storytelling tool. I for one, am a huge fan of telling a story visually. This book did not disappoint.

For those of you who’ve read my post on The Nameless City and Cleopatra in Space, you’ll enjoy this series for its clean reading, colorful graphics, and entertaining tale. To be honest, I’m sort of tired of waiting to read the rest of these series. I want to find them right now! But, I’m sure eventually I’ll find them. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to content myself with the next best thing: Star Wars!

Until next time and remember: Keep reading!

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The World’s Greatest Detective

Meet Toby Montrose. For the past several years, he’s never lived in one place for long, being passed around from relative to relative like an old hand-me-down. But here on Detective Row, he finally thinks he may have a home, if he can just prove to his Uncle Gabriel that he can be a great detective – or at least a good enough one to keep them from the streets. When a mysterious invitation arrives from his uncle’s old nemesis, the intrepid Hugh Abernathy, Toby takes up the quest to solve the mystery and become the World’s Greatest Detective. But solving this puzzle won’t be as easy as he thought. Who is enemy and who is friend? His neighbors are no longer who he thought they were and he himself is stumped by questions concerning his uncle’s own foggy past. With an annoying new spy-turned-friend named Ivy at his side, Toby will have to soldier through a surprise murder, maneuver twists and turns, conquer a dastardly villain, and maybe – just maybe – prove that he is, after all, the World’s Greatest Detective.

This book was a delight and it was only after I’d finished it that I realized who the author was: Caroline Carlson. For those of you who don’t recognize the name, she is the author of the beloved The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series. I have reviewed the first two of this series here and here, but have not yet reviewed the third – guess that’s a blog post for the future. For now though, I highly recommend you read this book. It will keep you laughing, gasping, and guessing till the very end. 

Chime Time! This book is something of a spoof on the image of Sherlock Holmes, with his adventures being published from the point of view of his assistant, and his amazing deduction skills. Have you ever read a book that spoofs Sherlock Holmes or any other famous fictional detectives?

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