Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Once Upon a Curse

Once Upon a Curse is the third book in the E.D. Baker's Frog Princess series.

Princess Emma wants to marry Eadric, but a family curse that has destroyed her favorite aunt's happiness has convinced her that she cannot marry without breaking the curse. She and Eadric realize a trip into the past is required in order to learn the secret to solving the mystery.

This book introduces some new characters and a few interesting twists. One character I was certain was the evil character of all fairytales had a surprising twist that led to a happy ending. Readers may be surprised to find out who is responsible for releasing the family from the curse.

I had to reach out to the regional library system to get the audio version of No Place for Magic. I will review that book when it comes in and I have time to finish it. I have been enjoying audio books while doing writing and doing various house tasks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Fairy Tale Detectives

The Fairy Tale Detectives is the first book in Michael Buckley's Sisters Grimm series. My library regional system had the first book available to borrow and review.

Daphne and Sabrina Grimm are no strangers to the foster care system. They have run away from more than one. They are very suspicious when a person claiming to be their grandmother comes forward to claim them and brings them to Ferryport Landing. Grandma Relda Grimm tells the children that they have an interesting family responsibility. They are the descendents of the Grimm brothers and there was more to their life than collecting and recording stories. Grandma Relda informs them that fairy tales are real.

Just as the girls are wrapping themselves around this idea Grandma is kidnapped by a giant and the girls must figure out how to rescue Grandma. They discover that all is not happy in the fairy tale world of Ferryport.

Without Grandma's advice, they must figure out who is responsible for bringing a giant to town. All is not as it seems and they discover there is a villain manipulating the situation in Ferryport.

As the children learn more about the problems in Ferryport Landing, they also find out more about their missing parents.
I love adapted fairy tale stories. This series is promising to be a fun and engaging one. My husband was laughing as he caught a portion of one of the audio CD’s I was listening to during my exercise session. It has great potential for a read aloud. The series has appeal for adults and children.

Free Teaching Materials

Monday, July 25, 2011

School Supplies for Stocking Stuffers or Christmas Donations

School supply sales have already begun and the deals on art supplies and other items that make great stocking stuffers are amazing. You never see these deals at Christmas. Not only do these make great stocking stuffers, but art supplies are also requested by charities that are looking to provide Christmas presents for children. If you plan to donate this year, you may want to put aside some extra art supplies now to have for the Christmas season.

Office Max, Staples, Walmart, Target, Office Depot, and others are all competing to bring business into their stores. If you plan ahead, you can put aside something for later at a price you can afford.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary

Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary is the fourth book in the five book Fablehaven series. I already have the last book on loan from the library.

Seth and Kendra each have a journey and find different allies in this book. Seth fears the worst over news about Kendra. However, his sense that all was not right with Kendra helps his family to learn the truth.

While we learned about Kendra's fairy powers in previous Fablehaven adventures, in Dragon Sanctuary we learn Seth has a path, too. Both will need their powers to survive the Sphinx as they have a quest.

Once again Kendra is crushed when someone she trusted betrays her. Instead of being a friend the Sphinx has a trusted mole on the journey to Wyrmroost. When all seems lost Kendra finds that not all are unworthy of trust.

We learn more about the nature of the Sphinx and Kendra is suprised to discover the truth. One of Grandpa's promises to Kendra and Seth about the family is broken with the reader left waiting for the next novel to find out what happens.

One of my younger relatives is getting the Fablehaven Complete Set(Boxed Set) for her birthday. I always liked getting a complete set of books when I was a child. It was frustrating to start a series and have to wait to get the next book.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow

Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow is James Rollins first venture into children's literature.

After reading about this author and series, I borrowed the audio copy from our library. The opening was what I had hoped for years ago when I eagerly attempted the Indiana Jones books that followed the movies series. Those books were terrible. In the opening of his book, Rollins captured the excitement that made me want someone to write a quality adventure that captured that excitement. If you have read any of my book reviews, you know I do not like reviews that simply compare one series to another and excuse the author from any additional work.

The opening of this book did capture the excitement I felt from the Indiana Jones Series, but the books moves on to create its own niche.

Jake Ransom and his sister are the children of missing archeologists. They are invited to the opening of a Museum opening in London to see the artifacts found by their parents prior to their disappearance. The invitation is not what it seems. Jake and his older sister Kady are transported to another world through an artifact.

Here they discover a collection of lost world civilizations and a dark force that must be defeated for both worlds to survive. As Jake learns more about the mysteries of this lost world, he begins to clash with the Skull King leading readers to anticipate where the mystery is headed.

Unlike some of the other sister and brother series, I have written about recently, this one focuses mainly on Jake. His sister has a minor role in the story, but the main action is directed around Jake.

This story has many of the predictable lost world plots. Predictable does not make them boring. I believe the series has potential as a fantasy adventure series. The author does need to decide what to do with Kady. She seems a bit of a wasted character. In most of the other brother and sister fantasy series, each has a critical role. If Kady does not to have a role, perhaps it would be better to leave her at home, as the series continues.

I have a long reading list ahead of me so the next book is not yet on my library list. However, I do have Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx on my list of library books to track down.

Monday, July 18, 2011

AAA Six Flags New England Discounts 2011

See updated 2012 rates at my new blog posting here.

If you are looking for information on Six Flags New England's Fright Fest please see the more recent blog post Six Flag New England Fright Fest for information on the event and AAA discounts.

I will post updated information in the spring regarding discounts and costs for the 2012 Six Flags New England Season as I find them.

We have a few roller coaster fans in our family so I offered to research Six Flag Discounts.

Standard Six Flags 2011 entrance price for adults is $46.99. If you purchase online through Six Flags the cost is $36.99. Parking is $20. You can get a Flash Pass for $35 and Meal Deals start at $13.49.

AAA offers minimal standard discounts at all Six Flags across the country for AAA members. However, the discounts for Six Flags New England are more substantial. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $28 at the AAA office or online. Discounted parking passes are available for $13.

AAA Insider Day

AAA members who are considering going to the park on July 23, 2011 have even more options for saving. AAA early entry day allows AAA members who buy their $28 tickets in advance to enter the park early at 8:30 AM. Members who arrive prior to 8:30 AM and show AAA card, parking voucher, and admission ticket will get free parking. If you visit the Insider table, you can get $5 off the Flash Pass. If you visit the Group Sales Window before 10 AM and purchase your Meal Deal, the price is reduced to $10.63.

With this kind of deal, the park may be crowded on AAA day. However, the savings may be worth the crowds.

If you do not want to visit on Insider Day, buying your admission and parking tickets at AAA in advance still provides considerable savings.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dragon's Breath

Dragon's Breath is E.D. Baker's second book in the Frog Princess Series. I was able to obtain a copy of this book through our local library regional system.

Emma and Eadric have still not completely overcome their issue with the frog spell as they discover when Emma sneezes and they return to their frog status. Another sneeze returns them to human form, and they understand the enchantment is not over. Eventually, Emma determines that the ability to change is not always a bad thing.

Romance continues for Eadric and Emma as well as Grassina and Hayward, her otter enchanted fiancé. The author has done a good job presenting a strong feminine character in Emma. The author avoided a cliché happy ever after ending for Emma and Eadric. Emma is not ready for marriage. She has chosen to study magic while she matures. It is not that she does not love Eadric, she just wants the time to finish her education. I thought that was a great message.

What bothered me is the author does not seem to realize that you can make assertive female characters without making wimpy male characters. Many authors have managed to create young adult male and female characters that are strong and comfortable with their strengths and weaknesses existing in the same novel. Eadric could be a strong male role without diminishing Emma's independence and emerging confidence in her abilities.

Emma and Grassina learn of an curse that plagues their family. As Emma and Grassina work to return Hayward back to his human form, they realize the real treachery of Emma's grandmother.

I have Once Upon a Curse on reserve at the library. While I am not happy with Eadric's role, I have enjoyed watching the plot emerge. I will give it at least one more book to see if Eadric’s character improves.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer Reading Programs 2011

There are several rewards programs available for children who read during the summer. I decided to update the list I made from last summer.

Barnes and Noble Imagination's Destination requires children to read eight books, fill out a journal that parents can download from the website, and rewards children with a free book from a list that can be seen on the journal.

Book Adventure is a Free Program offered through Sylvan Learning. It provides leveled book lists and computer tests that are not unlike programs many kids already use in school to track independent reading comprehension. Parents and students must register in order to access the full benefits of the program using the same e-mail address.

Bookworm Wednesdays provides movies as rewards to readers. Children who write a book report can attend a free 10 AM Children's movie at select Showcase Cinemas, Multiplex Cinemas or Cinema de Lux box office from July 6-August 10.

Border's Double Dog Dare is available from 6/1/2011-9/5/2011. Children 12 and under need to fill out a form that can be downloaded, read ten books, fill out the form and return it to Borders. Children can then pick a free book from a list provided by Borders. Parents can download the form and look at the list of free books by clicking on the link.

Pizza Hut Book It Summer Program

Pottery Barn for Kids runs from 5/31/2011-8/24/2011. This program is a bit more restrictive. Parents download a list of books that children under ten must read one of two specific lists of books, fill out the form and then are rewarded with a free book from the store.

Reading Warriors

Scholastic Summer Challenge

Super Why PBS Read-A-Thon July and August program sponsored by PBS.

TD Savings Summer Reading Program Students can earn $10 for new or existing young savers account by reading 10 books, filling out the form and returning it to the bank. Program runs May 4, 2011-September 30,2011.

Also, don't forget to check out your local library programs.

Hudson Public Library

Marlborough Public Library

Sudbury Goodnow Library

Reading Lists:

Top Ten Summer Reading Lists

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Mothstorm: The Horror from Beyond Uranus Georgium Sidus! is the final book in the Larklight series.

Art, Myrtle, Mother, Father, Jack and friends have gathered at Larklight for the Christmas holidays. As any fan of the series or of science fiction or fantasy knows, these characters are not destined to have a simple holiday celebration. Just as Myrtle and Jack's romance is blooming of course our characters are called to action.

Mother must deal with another of her kind who has decided she wants to take over the solar system. Mother must make some challenging decisions to save her family and the universe.

Myrtle proves to be a surprising influence on a hostile race much to the surprise of her family.

For some reason science fiction is a neglected genre for children. Few books are written and read. This series should get more attention. The books are a great way to introduce children to science fiction. The series provides an opportunity to learn about the differences and similarities between the genres of science fiction and fantasy.

I bought the series to have around for a younger relative who will be visiting this summer. It helps having entertaining books on hand to keep young guests entertained during down times.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Grip of the Shadow Plague

Grip of the Shadow Plague is the third book in Brandon Mull's Fablehaven Series.

Mull has chosen a traditional fantasy plot, a plague, to create a conflict in his third novel. War has come to the magical world of Fablehaven and creatures of light are being infected with a dark plague that is changing their nature. Humans are becoming shadows.

As Kendra and Seth return to Fablehaven they find that the issues that were left off in the previous novel have not improved. Through Kendra's involvement with the Knights of the Dawn and her previous exposure to the Fairy Queen, we finally discover answers to some of the questions from the previous novel. We discover the true nature of the Sphinx. Readers learn if the Sphinx is on the side of light or darkness.

Kendra learns that even children are not immune to danger and death. As the war continues, sacrifices are made in an effort to secure the safety and future of all the creatures.

A previous friend lost is found and more of her story revealed. Her story provides readers with an interesting romantic story that leaves readers with a time travel circular ending that takes some processing.

As we enter Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary the race continues to find the artifacts. I have this book on reserve at the library and am interested to see how the characters process through the journey.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

AAA Canobie Lake Park Discount

Find the 2014 AAA Canobie Lake discount information on my blog here.

The AAA discount for the 2011 season seems to have ended. If you are looking for information regarding Canobie Lake's Screemfest please see see the more recent blog post Canobie Lake Screemfest.

I will post new information next spring regarding discounts for Canobie Lake for 2012.

I am continuing to look for discounts as we look at places we may want to visit this summer with family. Canobie Lake Park located in Salem, New Hampshire was a place we visited for years when I was a child until the closer and less expensive Whalom Park opened in Lunenburg, Massachusetts. Whalom Park is now gone, but Canobie Lake is going strong and has expanded to include more attractions including a water park.

AAA allows people to buy tickets online or at one of their offices for a discount of $4.00. This discount reduces the $32 admission price to $28.00. Just to be clear this discount is only available when you buy the tickets in advance. According to my research, this is not one of the AAA discounts available when you show your card when you arrive at the venue. It is only available to members who purchase their tickets through AAA.

Canobie Lake also offers discounts and special offers to people who sign up for their email newsletter. They are currently listing businesses and other locations where coupons for admission discounts can be located on their website here.

We have not finalized our summer plans yet, but I thought others might appreciate the information.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

2011 Free Fun Fridays in Massachusetts

The Highland Group is sponsoring Free Fun Fridays this summer. The program provides free entrance each Friday to different musuems, zoos, theater and other attractions to residents and visitors in Massachusetts during the months of July and August. The first event was July 1 the last is August 26. You can check out the Free Fun Fridays Website for the schedule of attractions on each date.

I would also suggest checking with the attractions to find out if there are any additional costs for specific programs you may be interested in at the location. I know with other offers only admission is covered additional programs are generally at the cost of the person attending. With some venues all that is required is admission and you have full access to everything. With others, like the Musuem of Science there is plenty to see for the cost of admission, but more available at an additional cost. I have not read anything about specific events associalted with attendees of Free Fridays. Calling ahead can provide you with more information.

For those who plan on utilizing other pass or discount options, you may also want to be aware of these dates as you can expect there to be higher traffic on these dates. If you have other options, you may want to choose another date for your visit to find a less crowded venue.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Thank You Acton, Massachusetts

I posted about local July 4th events as a result of my research on what we wanted to do in addition to our tradition of attending the parade in Sudbury. We settled on going to the fireworks and concert in Acton on July 2nd. Acton was having an anniversary celebration and the crowds were large.

While many people often stop to complain about all the bad things that happen, I wanted to remember to say thank you. I cannot remember ever attending a more organized event. We received great directions from helpful people all along our path.

From experience, I know these events are challenging to plan. The organization of parking, busses, and people available to answer questions was a testament to hard work and planning.

We took a chance on attending an event I have not been to since my teen years. The Air Force Band did a wonderful job and the fireworks display was wonderful. As someone who is not crazy about the noise of the fireworks, I enjoyed the way the water absorbed some of the noise. One of guests was thrilled to see fireworks that are no longer used near her.

We had the chance to enjoy a wonderful night with family. Thank you Acton, you gave our family a wonderful evening.