Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire...Review & Giveaway!

One of my most favorite authors is Gregory Maguire. He had me at Wicked and I have read every one of his novels over the years.  I saw Wicked the Musical in Boston many years ago and was lucky enough to hear Mr. Maguire speak here in Portland many, many years ago. I find his work to be creative and quirky and so highly readable.  His work is a real treasure.  His latest offering is Hiddensee is the creative retelling of the  Nutcracker and is an absolute must read.  Here is the scoop...

Gregory Maguire returns with an inventive novel inspired by a timeless holiday legend, intertwining the story of the famous Nutcracker with the life of the mysterious toy maker named Drosselmeier who carves him.
Hiddensee: An island of white sandy beaches, salt marshes, steep cliffs, and pine forests north of Berlin in the Baltic Sea, an island that is an enchanting bohemian retreat and home to a large artists' colony-- a wellspring of inspiration for the Romantic imagination . . .
Having brought his legions of devoted readers to Oz in Wicked and to Wonderland in After Alice, Maguire now takes us to the realms of the Brothers Grimm and E. T. A. Hoffmann-- the enchanted Black Forest of Bavaria and the salons of Munich. Hiddensee imagines the backstory of the Nutcracker, revealing how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how he guided an ailing girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a Christmas Eve. At the heart of Hoffmann's mysterious tale hovers Godfather Drosselmeier-- the ominous, canny, one-eyed toy maker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky's fairy tale ballet-- who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.
But Hiddensee is not just a retelling of a classic story. Maguire discovers in the flowering of German Romanticism ties to Hellenic mystery-cults-- a fascination with death and the afterlife-- and ponders a profound question: How can a person who is abused by life, shortchanged and challenged, nevertheless access secrets that benefit the disadvantaged and powerless? Ultimately, Hiddensee offers a message of hope. If the compromised Godfather Drosselmeier can bring an enchanted Nutcracker to a young girl in distress on a dark winter evening, perhaps everyone, however lonely or marginalized, has something precious to share.

My Thoughts:  Gregory Maguire is a masterful storyteller and his imagination is unbeatable.  If you are familiar with Tchaikovsky’s ballet you as I am you would expect to hear the tale from Klara or perhaps the prince but the perspective is from Klara's Godfather, Drosselmeier who creates the Nutcracker for her.  The reimagining of this story as told by "Dirk" is a fantastical journey full of surprise, mystery and darkness.  As always, Maguire creates a setting that transports you right into beautiful and desolate Bavaria.  His prose is almost poetic with bits of humor thrown into the sometimes dark storytelling.  We meet Dirk as a young boy and follow him along as he comes of age in the most mythical and eccentric ways.  Life does not always go as one would hope for Dirk but following his path is one crazy adventure.  
I think it takes a special author to weave a story based around a well loved folk and/or fairytale.  There must be research to stay somewhat true to the original storyline but also a powerful imagination to make it your own.  Gregory Maguire has mastered this skill time and time again and he has done it to perfection with Hiddensee.  Pick up this book and buckle up for a fantastic journey.  You can pick up your copy at the local bookstore or on Amazon here...

Win It!  One lucky Reviewed by Mom follower will win a copy of Hiddensee!  Thanks so much to the publisher and good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ellie,Engineer Prize Pack Giveaway!

A few weeks ago we celebrated National Engineer's Week and Girl Day and I have the perfect book to celebrate BOTH!  Ellie, Engineer is available now and is a must read to your young ones.  Here is the scoop...

Ellie loves to build. She’s always engineering new creations with the help of her imagination and her best friend Kit. Unfortunately, with Kit’s birthday just around the corner, the French-braiding machine Ellie built turns out to be more of a hair-knotting machine. What’s Ellie going to do? Luckily, the girls overhear Kit’s mom talking about Kit’s surprise – it must be the dog she’s always wanted! Ellie is struck with inspiration: she’ll build Kit the best doghouse ever! The project quickly becomes more than just a present for Kit – it builds a bridge between Ellie and those bothersome neighbor boys, as well as the other handy girls in her class.


Designed to look like Ellie’s notepad, with pencil-on-graph-paper illustrations of her projects interspersed throughout the book, Ellie, Engineer inspires creative and crafty girls to get hands-on with their imagination. Ellie’s projects range from the simple (using a glass against a wall to amplify sounds), to the practical (the doghouse), to the fantastical (a bedroom security system featuring spikes) – encouraging readers to start small but think big. Ellie’s parents support her engineering experiments, with important safety tips sprinkled throughout, and her relationship with Kit is a glowing example of positive female friendship. They share their hobbies – Ellie likes to get her hands dirty, while Kit prefers ballet – reminding readers that there’s no wrong way to be a girl. Ellie’s hand-drawn tool guide at the end explains basic tools in accessible terms, rounding out this fun and funny adventure, and giving girls everything they need to be their own Ellie!


About the Author: Jackson Pearce lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the author of a series of teen retold fairy-tales, including Sisters Red, Sweetly, Fathomless, and Cold Spell, as well as two stand-alones, As You Wish and Purity. As J. Nelle Patrick, she is the author of Tsarina. In addition to The Doublecross and The Inside Job, her middle grade novels include Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures, co-written with Maggie Stiefvater. Visit her at and @JacksonPearce (Twitter and Instagram).

Buy It!  You can buy this inspiring book for girls today on Amazon....

Win It!  One lucky Reviewed by Mom follower will win and Ellie, Engineer prize pack which includes:

~Copy of the book Ellie, Engineer
~Custom DIY Ellie-branded toolbox, designed to be easily assembled Ellie-style, as well as some simple tools and an instruction booklet!

Thanks so much to the sponsor and good luck!

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Shawn Colvin: The Starlighter...Review & Giveaway!

Last month, Shawn Colvin release a lovely collection of children's music that I have had the pleasure of listening to.  I have been meaning to tell you about it for weeks but between school vacation and many snow days I have been running WAY behind!
Many of you, like me, might have memories of Shawn Colvin tied to her Grammy winning hit "Sunny Came Home".  She has a great voice and it has been really nice to see it in the children's music realm.  Here is the scoop on The Starlighter....

When Shawn Colvin was an eight-year-old girl, her parents presented her with Lullabies and Night Songs, a collection of children's music that joined famed composer Alec Wilder's arrangements with the fantastical artwork of author/illustrator Maurice Sendak. The budding young musician found inspiration in the book and in 1998, Colvin, then eight months pregnant with her daughter and on the cusp of becoming a parent herself, returned to its pages to record the seasonal album, Holiday Songs and Lullabies, which featured her re-workings of several of Wilder and Sendak's selections.

Now, 19 years later, she has revisited Lullabies and Night Songs for her newest release, The Starlighter. The Starlighter finds the Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist once again reaching back to her childhood inspiration in service of crafting an elegant and graceful musical offering- one that resonates with the warmth and tenderness of poignant familial experience and remembrance. Its 14 songs are a mix of traditional numbers and children's standards, all of them culled from the pages of Wilder and Sendak's transformative book.

The selections that Colvin chose for The Starlighter run the gamut from traditional fare like "Hush Little Baby" and "Raisins and Almonds" to "Minnie and Winnie" with words by 19th century poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and "Cradle Song," with lyrics by celebrated English poet William Blake. Colvin and producer Doug Petty remain true to Wilder's original arrangements while also embellishing them with gentle orchestration, horns, accordion, piano and Colvin's signature acoustic guitar. The result is an album that captures the magic and mystery of children's lullabies while also offering a moving and timeless musical experience.

  1. The Starlighter
  2. Raisins and Almonds
  3. Go Tell Aunt Rhody
  4. Minnie and Winnie
  5. Sleep, Baby, Sleep
  6. Many Million Years Ago
  7. The Huntsmen
  8. The Cuckoo is a Pretty Bird
  9. Night
  10. The Journey
  11. Baby Shaftoe
  12. The Nut Tree
  13. Hush Little Baby
  14. Cradle Song
My Thoughts:  I like kid music that is not totally kid music.  This means it is not all silliness that has limited grownup appeal.  The Starlighter is a CD that everyone can enjoy and I have listened to it plenty of times when my kids were not in the room!  Shawn Colvin has a really lovely voice...clear and pure with lots of depth and I find her overall style to be very soothing.  The instrumental portion is aching beautiful and sweet and I can absolutely imagine rocking a little one to sleep while listening.  I enjoyed all 14 tracks and I think this is one of those great collections where you don't have to skip a song...I love it when that happens!  If I had to choose a favorite  I would go with the classic Hush, Little Baby.  Shawn Colvin's unique stamp on this song is really beautiful.  

This CD would make a thoughtful baby shower gift or gift for a new parent dreaming of sleep!  You can purchase the CD and stream the songs on Amazon by clicking HERE.

Win It!  I am so pleased to tell you that one lucky Reviewed by Mom follower will win a copy of The Starlighter!  Thanks so much to the sponsor and best of luck!

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper...Review & Giveaway!

Last week the kids were on school vacation and we had several lazy days at home which was pretty blissful.  We don't do that kind of thing enough!  I was able to do some marathon reading and one of the books I finished was The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper and I am so excited to share it wit you today.  Here is the scoop...

Elise Hooper’s debut novel conjures the fascinating, untold story of May Alcott—Louisa’s youngest sister and an artist in her own right.
We all know the story of the March sisters, heroines of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. But while everyone cheers on Jo March, based on Louisa herself, Amy March is often the least favorite sister. Now, it’s time to learn the truth about the real “Amy”, Louisa’s sister, May.
Stylish, outgoing, creative, May Alcott grows up longing to experience the wide world beyond Concord, Massachusetts. While her sister Louisa crafts stories, May herself is a talented and dedicated artist, taking lessons in Boston, turning down a marriage proposal from a well-off suitor, and facing scorn for entering what is very much a man’s profession.
Life for the Alcott family has never been easy, so when Louisa’s Little Women is published, its success eases the financial burdens they’d faced for so many years. Everyone agrees the novel is charming, but May is struck to the core by the portrayal of selfish, spoiled “Amy March.” Is this what her beloved sister really thinks of her?
So May embarks on a quest to discover her own true identity, as an artist and a woman. From Boston to Rome, London, and Paris, this brave, talented, and determined woman forges an amazing life of her own, making her so much more than merely “The Other Alcott.
My Thoughts:  I have read Little Women at least 10 times.  It was one of my favorites growing up and remains so to this day.  I couldn't wait to dive into this take on my the author and her family, namely, May.  I was probably a tough critic of this book because I love Little Women so much and, like many, Amy was NOT my favorite character.  I am happy to say that I LOVED this book and completely lost myself in behind the scenes tale of Little Women.  

I thoroughly enjoyed the story of May and her rivalry with Louisa.  The family dynamic was fascinating and reading about the state of the world during this time in history as it pertains to women artists and writers was really interesting.  Life in the late 1800's was not easy for women trying to make their way in the world.  Hooper has a real gift for creating in-depth characters as well as finding the perfect balance of being descriptive enough to give a clear picture but not so descriptive that she disrupts the pace of the book.  I love it when that balance is found.

If you are a fan of historical fiction like I am this book is a must read!  I am already excited to see what Elise Hooper comes out with next and consider her on the level of Kate Morton and Christina Baker Kline.  Be sure to get your copy from the local bookstore or  order today from Amazon....

Win it!  I am happy to tell you that the publisher is giving one lucky Reviewed by Mom follower a copy of The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper!  Thanks so much to the sponsor and good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: Neighborhood Friends Collection DVD...Review & Givedaway!

One of my most favorite shows on PBS for kids is Daniel Tiger.  I love how the Daniel Tiger character from Mister Roger's has been given new life in this charming show.  There is a brand new DVD out featuring a great collection of Daniel Tiger favorites....Best of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood:  Neighborhood Friends Collection is out now and is a guaranteed hit with pre-schoolers.  Here is the scoop...
DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD fans in neighborhoods from coast-to-coast will learn all about friendship and helping one another when PBS Distribution releases “Best of DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD: NEIGHBORHOOD FRIENDS COLLECTION,” the newest DVD featuring eight engaging stories from the hit PBS KIDS series, produced by The Fred Rogers Company.
In the engaging new DVD, Daniel Tiger and his friends teach children all about cooperating, playing together, and helping out neighbors in the fun-filled stories. Young viewers can join Daniel as he uses his imagination to play “outer space” with Miss Elaina, celebrates Prince Wednesday’s birthday with his friends at the castle, helps Katerina Kittycat after she accidentally knocks her tea set on the floor, and more.
“Best of DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD: NEIGHBORHOOD FRIENDS COLLECTION” ($14.99 SRP) will be available beginning January 23, 2018 and has a run time of 90 minutes. Episodes of DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD are also available for digital download.
Stories featured on the new DVD include:
Finding a Way to Play on Backwards Day
Daniel and O the Owl are at Miss Elaina’s house where she has planned a backwards play date. O isn’t sure about all of the backwards things and prefers to play forwards. The friends learn to compromise so everyone can play together.
Daniel and Miss Elaina Play Rocket Ship
Daniel has come to play with Miss Elaina today! They decide to play “outer space,” but Miss Elaina gets upset when her cardboard telescope and spaceship accidentally break. Lady Elaine helps them see that they can still have fun together, even without toys – because they’re friends! So they use their imaginations to keep playing which is just as much fun!
Daniel Plays at the Castle
Daniel is visiting Prince Wednesday and the boys are excited to explore Prince Wednesday’s rock collection but Daniel is sad when Prince Wednesday tells him the rocks are too delicate to play with. Daniel and Prince Wednesday realize that friendship is about more than just playing with each other’s toys – it’s about being together!
Friends Help Each Other
Daniel spends the day at Katerina Kittycat’s house. Katerina is excited to show Daniel a birthday tea party she set up all by herself for her stuffed animals! When Katerina accidentally knocks the tea set on the floor, she is very upset that she ruined the party. Luckily, Daniel is a helpful friend and they reassemble the party together.
Katerina’s Costume
Daniel and Katerina are at Miss Elaina’s Museum-Go-Round to make their costumes for Dress Up Day. While Daniel and Miss Elaina know exactly what they want to be, Katerina is having a harder time deciding on just the right costume. Eventually she comes up with a very clever idea!
Daniel’s New Friend
Daniel and Miss Elaina meet Prince Wednesday’s cousin Chrissie during a playdate at the castle. As they play “knights,” they discover that, although Chrissie needs some help walking, they are the same in many ways.
It’s Love Day!
Ugga Mugga! It’s Love Day in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Daniel and all of his friends come up with their own special ways to show their love and care for one another. The kids dance, sing, and tell jokes to say “I love you.”
Prince Wednesday’s Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday, Prince Wednesday! Daniel heads to the castle for Prince Wednesday’s birthday party, and feels happy to be with his friends, play games and eat royally yummy birthday cake.

My Thoughts:  As I mentioned before, Daniel Tiger is a favorite of mine.  It is a charming show with strong appeal for little ones.  The characters are fun, sweet and tackling the same day-to-day experiences that our own children are.  From birthday parties to recognizing and celebrating differences, this collection is an excellent way to engage children in a positive way. This DVD would make an excellent Easter Basket addition!  You can pick your copy up today...

Win It!  I am so excited to tell you that PBS is kindly giving one Reviewed by Mom follower a copy of the Neighborhood Friends Collection!  Thanks to the sponsor and best of luck!
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Friday, February 16, 2018

National Geogprahic's Welcome Little One: A Keepsake Baby Book...Review and Prize Pack Giveaway!

I can't wait to share the cutest baby book with you guys. I swear for a few minutes, as I was flipping through the pages, I wanted another baby just so I could use this book It is THAT darling!  Welcome Little One:  A Keepsake Baby Book from National Geographic is a must for parents-to-be!  Here is the scoop...
This stunning journal is filled with beautiful National Geographic photography and inspiring prose: the perfect way for parents to record their infant's first year from birth to birthday--and all the memories in between. Insert includes milestone stickers to capture all the memories of baby's first year.Welcome Little One is designed to help parents capture the special moments before, during, and after the birth of their new child. The ideal gift for the new parents-to-be, this beautiful book includes removable stickers for each monthly milestone, ensuring that every moment of baby's first year is celebrated with love. Bursting with color illustrations, heartwarming poems and sayings, and plenty of opportunities to personalize each page with your own memories, this special book introduces the new baby to a world of beauty, promise, and hope--and is sure to be treasured for years to come.

My Thoughts:  Oh boy (or girl!).  This baby book is just so sweet and the perfect place to record all those special milestones.  I think it is the perfect balance of information....plenty of spots and prompts to write but not so overwhelming that when you are sleep deprived that you won't want to do it!  The book has spots for everything from photos and bios of mom and dad, sonogram photos, baby showers, month-to-month journaling and plenty of spots for photos....

Speaking of photos, please excuse the poor quality of mine.  I am using my phones' camera and it is NOT cooperating with me today!  The book is also filled with lovely animal photos that you would expect from National Geographic with great quotes.  I loved this picture of a baby zebra and mom next to a quote by one of my favorites, Roald Dahl...

Isn't that lovely? The book also comes with lots of stickers that coordinate with the book pages including those cute month-to-month ones that you can put on baby's onesie and take a photo of him/her in. 

This keepsake book is great on so many levels.  It is adorable, easy to use and includes everything you need to record all of baby's special moments.  This is a real treasure and would make a great baby shower gift!  You can pick yours up today on Amazon...

Win It!  I am so happy to tell you that one lucky follower will win Welcome Little one and an adorable seal plush (ARV $45!).  Thank you so much to the sponsor and good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Top 100 Classic Radio Shows....Review & Giveaway!

I have such a great coffee table book to share with you today.  The Top 100 Classic Radio Shows book is out now and is completely fascinating.  Here is the scoop...
Revisit radio’s golden age with this classic compilation! The Top 100 Classic Radio Shows is a compendium of the top radio shows from the golden age of Hollywood. This book is chock-full of fascinating facts
and behind-the- scenes information about the best shows from every era, including the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. You’ll learn tantalizing tidbits about the shows and performers who made them famous. Includes comedies, Westerns, dramas, variety shows, mysteries
and suspense, sci-fi  and superheroes. Settle into your easy chair and get ready to revisit the golden oldies, including The Roy Rogers Show, The War of the Worlds, The Bob Hope Show, The Shadow, and much more. Each shows has its own dedicated spread. Three
audio CDs stored in a permanent enclosure in the back of the book features 6 radio shows, one from each genre, and additional shows are available for free download!

About the authors: Carl Amari is an actor, producer, and syndicated radio host. He
has spent 30+ years archiving and licensing over 100,000 original radio programs from networks and the estates of the creators. A 7-time Audie Award- winner and published author, Amari is the host and producer of the nationally syndicated radio shows Hollywood
360 and The WGN Radio Theatre. He also produces the nationally syndicated radio series The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas, hosted by Stacy Keach, and Fangoria's Dreadtime Stories, hosted by Malcolm McDowell. Amari also writes a monthly syndicated column, "Radio
360," in ReMIND magazine. 

Martin Grams Jr. is the author and co-author of over 20 books about old-time radio and retro television. A winner of numerous awards including the Ray Stanich Award and the Rondo
Hatton Classic Horror Award for Best Book of the Year, Martin frequently contributes to magazines including the Illustrated Press, Nostalgia Digest, and SPERDVAC's Radiogram. Among his publications are The Shadow: The History and Mystery of the Radio Program,
1930-1954, The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic, and The Green Hornet: A History of Radio, Motion-Picture, Comics, and Television. He currently lives in Airville, Pennsylvani

My Thoughts:  As I said, this book would make a great coffee table book. It has all the elements you need.....interesting information and tons of pictures.  Radio shows pre-dates me but I definitely have memories of my parents and grandparents talking about favorite shows like Suspense.....

and The Roy Rogers Show...

Flipping through the pages of this book is like stepping back in history and soaking up the entertainment of the times.  Each of the 100 shows featured gets 2 pages that include a cast list, air dates, plenty of pictures and lots of inside information.  It is full of interesting information and would make a wonderful and thoughtful gift for any entertainment buff.  It even includes 3 CD's and 72 free downloads so you can listen to the shows you read about!  You can pick up your copy today on Amazon...

Win It!  I am thrilled to tell you that one lucky Reviewed by Mom follower will win a copy of The Top 100 Classic Radio Shows! Thank you very much to the sponsor and good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

My Little Pony: Friendshp is Magic-Spring Into Friendship....Out Now! Review & Giveaway!

Is anyone ready for Spring?  I know I sure am.  I am so over the snow and the cold.  I do know that it is only February (and Maine!) so Winter is still very much a part of my life  however....I will relish the spring themed items now hitting the shelves.  On Tuesday, the latest My Little Pony:  Friendship is Magic DVD hit the shelves.  Spring into Friendship is completely adorable and would make the perfect Easter basket addition!  Here is the scoop...
New adventures are blooming! MyLittle Pony – Friendship Is Magic: Spring Into Friendship is coming to DVD on February 13 in the U.S. and Canada from Shout! Kids in collaboration with Hasbro Studios. 

Big trouble is on the horizon when Twilight Sparkle is given only two coveted tickets to the most anticipated event in town!

How will she decide which of her best friends gets to go with her? Discover the answer, and see four more amazing pony tales, as Twilight Sparkle, Spike, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Fluttershy help usher Springtime into Equestria!

My Little Pony – Friendship Is Magic: Spring Into Friendship carries a suggested list price of $14.98 and is now available for pre-order at and”

Episodes Include:
  • The Ticket Master
  • Sisterhooves Social
  • Just For Sidekicks
  • Princess Twilight Sparkle, Part 1
  • Princess Twilight Sparkle, Part 2
Bonus Feature:
  • Sing-Along
Our Thoughts:  As always, My Little Pony delivers quality programming that children enjoy.  My 8 year old daughter loves this show and is always excited when a new collection comes out.  Strong, positive messages of friendship and teamwork abound in this collection featuring the characters kids have come to love.  This one is a must for MLP fans!  You can pick up your copy today on Amazon for less than $7!!!!

Win It!  One lucky Reviewed by Mom follower will win a copy of Spring Into Friendship!  Thanks to Shout! Factory and good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway