Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Vampire Mystery: The Boxcar Children #120 - A Book Review

Recently rereleased in eBook (Kindle, Nook, etc.) The Vampire Mystery from the Boxcar Children is sure to delight your early chapter book readers!

From the publisher:


Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny meet Mr. Hudson, a local author who is best known for his novel about a vampire. But rumors of a real vampire are going around town—a vampire who haunts the graveyard behind Mr. Hudson’s house! Since vampires don’t exist, the children soon realize that someone must be trying to scare people away! Who brought the old legend back to life—and why?

What I thought:

A quick and easy read for the young and old, with about 45 pages.  This book will tickle the "scary" bone of your young chapter book readers.  A wonderful mystery book!  My daughter is in the fourth grade and was excited to get started after I finished reading this book on the iPad.  She is about halfway through it in 3 fifteen minute reading sessions.  (Probably more - I can't tell because she let the battery die in the iPad yesterday while reading!)  The plot wasn't too hard to understand and the words were "just right".  If there are a few words they have trouble with, it is easy for them to come ask for help (and for you to provide it without consulting the dictionary!)   

A lot of fun at Halloween time or anytime!! It does not have a Halloween theme to it, other than the Vampire, as did the other books have that I have recently reviewed.  

If you pick it up, please stop back by and let me know what you thought! 

Note:  I received a free galley copy of this book from the publisher via  I was not compensated to provide a favorable review but am pleased to provide one here at Family, Scrapbooks and Coffee. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Trick or Treat - A Spooky Book Review

Recently re-released in Ebook format, Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick.  

About the book: 

Product Description (from

A young girl is tormented by her new house’s terrible past
Martha wants to be happy for her father. She likes his new wife—even if she’s a terrible cook—but she doesn’t understand why they had to leave Chicago and move to this horrible house in the country. It’s big, broken-down, and miles from anywhere, alone in the woods with nothing on the property but an overgrown cemetery. But at night it doesn’t feel empty.

Conor—her new, weird stepbrother—chose Martha’s new room for her. It’s dark and drafty, and no matter how she tries to fix it up, she can’t sleep easily there. At night, whispers come from the closet, filling Martha with a sense that something terrible happened here. She’s right. Not long ago, the house was the site of a gruesome murder. When Conor and Martha’s parents leave town on their honeymoon, the two teens will find out why the dead don’t rest easy at the old Bedford house.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Richie Tankersley Cusick including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.

What I thought:  

Creepy doesn't even begin to describe this book!  Although not gory, it has a unique scariness to it.  If it was a movie, I'd have had my eyes closed through most of it!  Step-siblings thrown in an old, reportedly "haunted" house, while their parents honeymoon across the country ... hidden secret passageways within the house ... a cemetery in their backyard ... and it's Halloween!  

I loved this book, even though I was afraid to turn the page sometimes.  I think that it is a good YA book, better for kids in early high school years and late middle school - I have a 5th grader and a 4th grader - I think they'd have enjoyed this as a movie but the book is a little above their reading level.  

If you're looking for a spooky, Halloween book for your kids to read (while the East Coast is bracing for snow this Halloween weekend,)  I definitely recommend adding this to your reading list!!

Note:  I was provided a free galley copy of this book from the Publisher via in exchange for my honest review.  I was not paid or otherwise compensated to provide a favorable review. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside - A Book Review and Giveaway

About the book: (from the Publisher)
Dottie Morgan has no desire to share her home or her heart over the Christmas holidays. After all, her Christmas spirit froze over when Dottie lost her son in World War II. But when a blizzard of the decade traps Dottie in her home with four near strangers, she just might discover that opening her door might also open her heart to a Christmas miracle and a new reason to celebrate Christmas

Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren is another book I have the opportunity to review here at Family, Scrapbooks and Coffee which embraces the Christmas spirit as its theme.  It centers around four (then a surprise fifth!) lonely, hurting people during the 2nd World War.  In the middle of a snowstorm, hope and love warms their hearts.

I enjoyed this book thoroughly - my Grandfathers were both in the War, one in the Army in Europe and one in the South Pacific serving in the Navy.  The time period interests me immensely as neither man is still alive to share their stories with us.  Too, I learned of "snow homes" for the children who lived outside of city limits and still attended the local schools.  Not only was I reading for enjoyment, but I also learned quite a bit.

I enjoy reading Susan May Warren's novels.  I have a few more on my "to be read" shelves!  I anxiously awaiting having the time to get to them.  You can learn more about this wonderful author at

Note:  I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group for review purposes.  No compensation was received nor was I asked to give a positive review, yet I am pleased to present one here.  

One festive winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. Giveaway ends on 10/26!

But, wait there’s more! Join Susan May Warren on 10/27 for merriment and a few early Christmas presents at her Baby, It's Cold Outside Christmas party! Grab your Christmas sweaters, socks and pj’s and join Susan and a few friends for a fireside chat about her recent books (Heiress & Baby, It’s Cold Outside), holiday traditions, favorite Christmas recipes, a trivia contest and more! Invite your friends and don’t miss the fun!

RSVP here and we'll see you on October 27th at 5 PM PST / 8 PM EST!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Franklin's Halloween - A book review

Just in time for Halloween!  I was asked by the publisher to read and review this e-release, Franklin's Halloween: A Classic Story.

Released again, in a digital format, Franklin's Halloween is a tale that will not disappoint your little ones.  My preschooler is three.  She loved this book.  We received a copy via the publisher on  We were able to download it into our Ipad,, using the Bluefire reader.  The graphics were wonderful and the story was classic Franklin. 

We loved reading about Franklin picking his Halloween costume and following him to a Halloween party with his friends and family.  All of our favorites were included - Beaver, Fox, and even Bear (although we later learn Bear was sick!) My little one loved the Haunted House scene and enjoyed picking out the different details in illustrations.  She did, however, point out that the party was missing a pinata.  Maybe next time?

Thank you for this opportunity to review one of our favorite childhood characters this Halloween.  You can pick up your copy from, or another of your favorite ebook sellers.

Note:  A digital galley of this book was received from the publisher via  No compensation was received nor was I asked to provide a favorable review. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Baby, It’s Cold Outside – warm up with a Kindle Fire from Susan May Warren

Warm up to Christmas early this year with Susan May Warren's Baby, It's Cold Outside! To celebrate the release of her new Christmas book with Summerside Press, she and the publisher are giving away a Kindle Fire and hosting an early Christmas Party on FacebookI am scheduled for a stop on this blog tour on 10/26/11 but that is also the day the contest ends so I wanted to make sure you all had the opportunity to win a new Kindle Fire!!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One festive winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. Giveaway ends on 10/26!

But, wait there’s more! Join Susan May Warren on 10/27 for merriment and a few early Christmas presents at her Baby, It's Cold Outside Christmas party! Grab your Christmas sweaters, socks and pj’s and join Susan and a few friends for a fireside chat about her recent books (Heiress & Baby, It’s Cold Outside), holiday traditions, favorite Christmas recipes, a trivia contest and more! Invite your friends and don’t miss the fun!

RSVP here and we'll see you on October 27th at 5 PM PST / 8 PM EST!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Friday, October 21, 2011

Zombie Church - A book review (Tyler Edwards)

Welcome to the blog tour for Pastor Tyler Edwards, Zombie Church (Kregel Publications, October 2011)! Believing there is a way to breathe life back into the church, Tyler Edwards highlights and challenges the problematic attitude of today's believers. Written for the discouraged, disenfranchised, and anyone unsatisfied with their same-old church routine, Zombie Church is an accessible, humorous book that challenges readers to turn away from Spirit-draining (or life-draining) habits that stop them from achieving a full, fulfilling life in Christ. For all of us who have ever attended First Church of the Frigidaire, Edwards' book will be warmly welcomed. It is a fair-minded and tenderhearted critique. . . . This novel lens of zombies allows the reader to see afresh the desperate need for awakening in the church. -Mark Moore, PhD, Professor of New Testament, Ozark Christian College Kregel Publications is sponsoring a $50 giveaway! To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using @litfuse) about Zombie Church or share about it on Facebook, your blog, GoodReads, etc...! If you tweet we'll capture your entry when you use @litfuse. If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email us and let us know ( Easy.

Not sure what to tweet/post? Here's an idea: TWEET THIS: Zombie Church by Tyler Edwards - a fair-minded & tenderhearted critique of the church @litfuse RT for $50 to @amazon


FACEBOOK THIS: Don’t miss Edwards - a fair-minded and tenderhearted critique of the church. Written for the discouraged, disenfranchised, and anyone unsatisfied with their same-old church routine, Zombie Church challenges readers to turn away from hollow religious practices, which characterize “zombie Christianity,” and turn toward a radical relationship with Jesus. Share this for a chance at $50 to

What I thought:  I though this book was very, very interesting.  I was raised Catholic and have since all but left the Catholic church in favor of something ... something that I thought was missing.  I found my husband's Methodist Church to be welcoming and breathing. 

Recently, our Pastor spoke of the situation Pastor Tyler Edwards points out in Christianity - the Walking Dead - but our Postor didn't quite say it the way Pastor Tyler does.  A problem in the Church of people coming to church or finding reasons to not worship with a church ... it is seen everywhere and our Pastor pointed out that the "christians" are the problem, as does Pastor Tyler. 

This book draws a wonderful parallel between Christians who are just "doing Church" and not "living Church."  It also gives details on how to ensure that you and your congregation are not among the living dead.  Check out these chapters - then pick up a copy of the book - and decide for yourself if you are among the Zombies within a Zombie Church.

Chapter 1:  Warning Signs
Chapter 2:  Infected
Chapter 3:  The Transformation Process
Chapter 4:  The Symptoms
Chapter 5:  The Undead Heart
Chapter 6:  Lost Soul
Chapter 7:  The Rotten Mind
Chapter 8:  Zombie Strength
Chapter 9:  The  Disease Spreads
Chapter 10:  Zombie Community
Chapter 11:  Awakening the Undead
Chapter 12:  Searching for the Cure

Note:  I received a free copy of this book, for review purposes only, from the Litfuse Publicity Group.  I was not expected to provide a positive review but am pleased to present one here. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Winner Wednesday!

I'd love to give a shout out to Barb K. who was the winner of our 2 Days til Sundae Giveaway!  She seemed pretty excited when I contacted her.  Heather Muzik was also quite pleased with the responses to the Giveaway and the comments left on her Guest Blog post!   She is so stoked, we've drawn another winner for an autographed 2 Days Til Sundae paperback which just released this week!   The newest winner is Jill K who not only completed the mandatory entry of leaving me a blog comment but she also visited Heather's website ( and knows that Heather attended Georgia Tech!!  I'll be emailing you shortly Jill to get your information.  

Thanks to all who entered the Giveaway!  Remember, if you didn't win, you still can pick up the paperback or the ebook version of 2 Days!  Happy Reading!!  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Sundae Lost & Giveaway! (guest post by author Heather Muzik)

I guess the problem started long ago…. You see, I have always loved miniature things. My good friend Sam would tell me that I have the “little disease.” When I was young, I collected Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Herself the Elf? Had her too. Oh, and those 80’s fashion dolls, Glamour Gals, that were like tiny mutant  Barbies—loved them! Teensy shoes, wee wardrobes, bitty brushes—I even had a palm-size baby doll. I had so many wonderful mini childhood treasures... and that brings me to the crux of the matter: a tiny doll named Caramellie and her little sundae-shaped house. My favorite toy ever and the impetus for Cat’s riotous adventure in 2 Days ‘Til Sundae. 

I am certainly not Catherine, but she is a part of me—the part that has a sentimental streak a mile wide and a penchant for the dramatic. And like her, I know how it feels to lose what you thought was safely stored away. When I graduated from high school and left home for college, I didn’t realize that I would never go back to Jersey, so I left many things behind. I hopped a plane to GA with the clothes on my back and a couple of suitcases in baggage and shipped the rest of what I truly needed through UPS. I was eighteen at the time, living in a dorm; I couldn’t bring along my younger self and all her collections! And then I was married and living in a tiny apartment; I didn’t have room for all those memories! But by the time we moved into a real house, with an attic and extra rooms, it was already too late. It turns out that one person’s treasure is actually another person’s trash—sounds a lot less hopeful and promising that way, doesn’t it?

So I can relate to Catherine’s plight. And further, I can certainly attest to getting the occasional post-auction crazies when someone snags a win out of my clutches in the last seconds, although as of this point I have never actually hopped a plane to claim what I feel is rightfully mine…. In that respect I have to envy Cat’s guts and gumption, and I sure enjoyed going along for the ride. 

To be fair to my parents, even though many of my treasures are still MIA to this day, how can I hold a grudge when 2 Days was born out of that loss?  Besides, it turns out that my Caramellie has finally been accounted for. It seems she’s been “homeless” and naked (probably since the 80’s—it was a wild time), living in a box (a Herself the Elf box) with several other tiny misfit dolls. She deserves better.

Now I find myself closer to Cat than ever, trolling the antiques and garage sale circuits and searching eBay late at night, in hopes of finding a new or used sundae house. Meanwhile Caramellie waits patiently in a place of honor on a bookshelf in my office, reminding me that sometimes a story can come from the most unlikely of places…. And that “little disease” I mentioned earlier? That is alive and well and manifests itself in a quasi-obsession with Christmas ornaments. ;-)

An EXTRA huge thank you to Heather Muzik for providing the above post for me today!   I have reviewed each of Heather's books here on the blog:  Celia's Journey, 2 Days til Sundae (via the pre-release ebook) and Apathetic (via the pre-release ebook).  I am excited to announce that 2 Days Til Sundae will be officially released in paperback on Tuesday, October 18, 2011.  (But you can totally get it now with the link I provided - shhhh!!)

Heather has generously agreed to giveaway a signed copy of 2 Days til Sundae here on Family, Scrapbooks and Coffee!!   The contest opens today and closes 10/17/11 at 11:59 p.m.  The winner will be chosen on 10/18/11 via and the winner notified that day via email.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Do you like it?

Do you really like it?  I think this is going to be one of SweeTart and Twink's Christmas presents.  Comes in two colors.  Carries their electronics, cutely.  Two colors are available so there will be no fighting over which one belongs to which daughter.  If they would only come up with something cool like this for our son.  (Off to do some research -- I will let you know what I find!) 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tweens / Hormones? Oh my!

As I struggle to be the (good) Mom of a 9 year old girl and 10 year old boy, I have to tell you that I insist that "hormones" are flying all over our house like no other matter could.  And the 3 year old?  Let's not go there right now (since she thinks she is 15.) 

Now, I know that some of you are thinking that I'm giving away TMI with this post, but really - when should I be expecting the hormones in the kidlets to hit the fan?  I need to know.  I've been wondering but not doing too much research.  I've been tapping into minds of other moms, although I do not ask for advice easily.   The general consensus:  yes, it's hormones (both of them) and no, it's not going to be over anytime soon.

With that tidbit of information, I'm sure that I should be planning my responses to both kids with more empathy.  With more patience.  With more compassion.  Alas, I have not.  And, I'm a little upset with myself about it. 

Today, I received an email from a newsletter to which I subscribe.  There was an article called "Holy Hormones" which I think you will enjoy, especially if you are struggling with this in your homes. 

I would love to hear what everyone else who has tweens in their lives is going through - and how to best handle the outbursts, tears and screams.  (please?) 

Green jacket and Pink jacket belong to us!  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Amazon Freebies

I do have to say that I have not read any of these books which appear on this blog post.  But if you are a kindle kind of gal, you might want to take a quick look see at them ... one or all ... they're free on Amazon at the time of this posting.  No telling how long they'll remain free for but if you buy them now (for free), they will remain in your Amazon purchases until you get to read them ... or forever, whichever happens to come first. 

Happy Free Reading!

It's October - Are you saving with Straight Talk?

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Straight Talk for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I've said it before - I'm an iPhone girl.  I'll say it again, that I'm probably wasting a lot of money on my contract (I think I am still "locked in" for another year!)

If I were to switch to Straight Talk?  NO CONTRACTS! (also, no surprise bills and/or credit checks!)  I would use my savings for the Disney Cruise we'll soon be going on - while the cruise is paid for, the other "extra" stuff is not ... we'd have a heck of a savings account if we switched carriers!  Hook, line and sinker

Also available from Straight Talk (for the skeptics) great nationwide coverage and excellent reception/ connectivity. Straight Talk only uses trusted phone manufacturers like LG, Motorola, Kyocera, Nokia and Samsung.  Android on Straight Talk

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  •  Unlimited Monthly service is only $45, and includes calls, text, picture messaging, and web.
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I'm pretty sure Straight Talk will be who we turn to when we are in need of the phones for the kidlets.  Maybe for Christmas?  If I had switched earlier, I'd probably have enough saved to get both phones and pay for the plans for a year!!

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Weekend Twitter Hop

I have never done one of these before but - looks like fun!  :-)