Sunday, March 29, 2015

HUGE Review Round-Up



As some of you may know, I am many things other than a book blogger.  I am a wife, mother, teacher at the Y, a paraprofessional within the school and I take on others roles as they arise.  I never leave the house without a book and I am reading any chance I get (well past my bedtime most nights).  Also, people wonder how I can read so many books when I am so busy, remember that many of these books I have had for months, well before the pub dates, so that gives me lots of time to read.  I am usually reading a book as that I will review the next month.  In addition to my addiction to print and ebooks, I also love listening to audio books.  There is so much time that can be filled by listening to a book...like laundry, cleaning and waiting to pick kids up from school.  With that said, what is sometimes hard is getting the time to sit down and write down all my lovely reviews, so when I finally get to this I write a bunch at a time.  This gives my viewers more books to check out.  So here are the books that I have enjoyed this month!  I hope you like them too!










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Stan Lee presents a brand new, magical, super-powered adventure! 

When twelve magical superpowers are unleashed on the world, a Chinese-America teenager named Steven will be thrown into the middle of an epic global chase. He'll have to master strange powers, outrun super-powered mercenaries, and unlock the mysterious powers of the Zodiac.



MY REVIEW:
I was blown away by this book and was so glad to see that it is a series.  There is something awesome about the blend of the magical powers and the character's nature states of being with their normal insecurities and struggles. It was awesome seeing how all these unlikely people were put together and found a way to become a team.  There are new role models fro your kids within these pages, whether male or female.  Either will find something they love about this book!  Not only are the characters strong, believable and likable, but the story is action packed and edge of your seat fun!!!  Parent may want to read this WITH their kids.  You will love it too! 4.5 stars


Grace's name may be a bit of a misnomer, for graceful she is not. She wants to be a ballerina, but dancing is not her forte. "Give it up, Grace," the other girls tell her. Saddened, Grace turns to drawing--and when she does, she starts to feel better. Grace is good at drawing and the other girls love her artwork. Grace finds a way to be part of the ballet using her true talent—she paints the sets! But the indefatigable Grace also keeps dancing in this easy reader that encourages youngsters to celebrate their own special gifts.


MY REVIEW:
Such a cute book about a girl trying to find her "thing".  She tried out dancing and that may not be the right fit.  Find out what she does that makes her truly happy and highlights her strengths!!   4.5 stars



"You two are just alike!" everyone  tells duckling twins Olivia and Lily. But while Olivia likes to "jump in the mud," run around, and quack so everyone can hear, Lily prefers studying and daydreaming. These different activities don't always work well together, and eventually the twins grow annoyed by their differences and head off in opposite directions.
But the twins can't stand to be apart for long. Lily comes looking for Olivia only to find her stuck in a tree. An adventure ensues then ends in a frightening tumble. Finally safe, the twins realize that while sometimes they are the same and sometimes they are different, one thing is certain: they are "always twins."

MY REVIEW:
An adorable about a set of towns who everyone thinks they are just alike. This drives the twins nuts.  One day they get upset with each other and storm off in opposite directions and soon they discover they are better together even though they are very different.  4 stars



Moving into a new neighborhood can be hard for a kid. Come join the Little Imaginators as they build a cardboard box adventure with new friends and learn to look beyond appearances to truly get to know people. 

Kids love the imaginative adventures in Little Imaginators’ stories as they learn valuable life lessons. 

MY REVIEW:

An important story about the power of friendship mixed with imagination and how the two things together can make a scary and unknowing situation so much better.  There is value in knowing that there is more than meets the eyes in many circumstances.  I enjoyed that this book was meaningful and sparked conversation with by boys and I. 
4 stars 

Product Details

Suzie has a dilemma on her hands when she has a look in her sock drawer. All of her socks have disappeared and she decides to go and find out where they could all be? Follow Suzie through her story as she discovers her socks are having fun hiding from her. 

MY REVIEW:
Doesn't it seem like your socks as always going missing???  Help Suzie find her silly socks, as they are never where she thinks they should be.  A cute story for early readers.  3 stars


Product Details

"Clive is a very clever crow that has discovered a place where food is very abundant. He waits until there are no children or adults around before flying down. 
The children have been wondering who has been eating their food, so Clive decides to write them a letter. Can you guess his favourite food?" 

MY REVIEW:
A cute story about a silly, clever school lunch eating crow.  He is hid in every page, so look closely!  A good story for early readers.  3 stars




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Jenny is a successful family doctor, the mother of three great teenagers, married to a celebrated neurosurgeon.

But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn’t come home after her school play, Jenny’s seemingly ideal life begins to crumble. The authorities launch a nationwide search with no success. Naomi has vanished, and her family is broken.

As the months pass, the worst-case scenarios—kidnapping, murder—seem less plausible. The trail has gone cold. Yet for a desperate Jenny, the search has barely begun. More than a year after her daughter’s disappearance, she’s still digging for answers—and what she finds disturbs her. Everyone she’s trusted, everyone she thought she knew, has been keeping secrets, especially Naomi. Piecing together the traces her daughter left behind, Jenny discovers a very different Naomi from the girl she thought she’d raised.
 

MY REVIEW:
This book is so twisty and turning.  It was such a page turner because you were feed bits of information slowly, so you were trying to burn through the pages to see what happens. It takes you back and forth in time, all the while fleshing out the characters, opening them up and exposing secrets that call into question everything you thought you knew.  I highly recommend this book and think it would make a great book club pick!!!  4.5 stars

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Stacey Ballis cooks up a delicious broth of a novel about a woman whose perfect life falls apart in spectacular fashion--leaving her with a house to restore, an antique cookbook (but no cooking talent), and one very unhappy schnauzer. For fans of Jen Lancaster, Jennifer Weiner, and Emily Giffin.   
To an outside observer, Anneke Stroudt is a mess—her shirts are stained, her fingernails stubby, her language colorful. But, despite her flaws, Anneke’s life is close to perfect. She has a beautiful historic house to restore and a loving fiancĂ© who cooks like a dream.

Until Anneke’s charmed existence falls apart when she loses both her job and her future husband in one terrible day. In need of a new start, she packs up her disgruntled schnauzer and moves into her half-finished home, where she throws her pent-up frustration—and what little savings she has—into finishing the renovation.

But at the first step into the house’s overhaul, Anneke is sidetracked when she discovers a mysterious leather-bound book, long hidden away, filled with tempting recipes and steamy secrets from Emma Ditmore-Smythe, the cook for the house’s original owners. Slowly, with the help of some delicious food and Emma’s life lessons, Anneke begins to realize that, just like a flawless recipe, she’s been waiting for the right ingredients to cook up a perfect life all along…

“With the perfect blend of humor and heart, Ballis’s writing is powerfully honest and genuinely hilarious.”--Jen Lancaster

MY REVIEW:
A delicious story that any home owner that is currently remodeling and those who love food will devour.  A detailed story with inviting characters, a refreshing story line and delightful humor all mixed together makes for a recipe of a good read. 3.5 stars

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A heart-wrenching yet ultimately uplifting story of psychological suspense in which a parent is forced to confront what he does—and does not—know about his teenage son, in the vein of Reconstructing Amelia, Defending Jacob, and We Need to Talk about Kevin.

While his successful wife goes off to her law office each day, Simon Connolly takes care of their kids, Jake and Laney. Now that they are in high school, the angst-ridden father should feel more relaxed, but he doesn't. He’s seen the statistics, read the headlines. And now, his darkest fear is coming true. There has been a shooting at school.

Simon races to the rendezvous point, where he’s forced to wait. Do they know who did it? How many victims were there? Why did this happen? One by one, parents are led out of the room to reunite with their children. Their numbers dwindle, until Simon is alone.

As his worst nightmare unfolds, and Jake is the only child missing, Simon begins to obsess over the past, searching for answers, for hope, for the memory of the boy he raised, for mistakes he must have made, for the reason everything came to this. Where is Jake? What happened in those final moments? Is it possible he doesn’t really know his son? Or he knows him better than he thought?

Brilliantly paced, Finding Jake explores these questions in a tense and emotionally wrenching narrative. Harrowing and heartbreaking, surprisingly healing and redemptive, Finding Jake is a story of faith and conviction, strength, courage, and love that will leave readers questioning their own lives, and those they think they know.
 

MY REVIEW:
Devastating, compelling and intense.  This is a read that it still working it's way around in my mind.  It is one of those books that are hard to stop thinking about.   Such a well written, honest and engrossing novel.  It will have you reading past your bedtime and will be one you want to discuss with others.  4.5 stars

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Boston police officer Cooper Harrison never thought he’d go back to his hometown, Harmony Farms.  But when his faithful K-9 partner Argos is killed in the line of duty, Cooper, caught in a spiral of trauma and grief, has nowhere else to turn.  Jobless and on the verge of divorce, he accepts a offer for the position of dog officer in Harmony Farms, leaving the life he spent twenty years building behind. 

And so he finds himself back where he started.  Where his father was once known as the town drunk and  his brother outgrew juvenile delinquency to become a drug dealer.  Where he grew up as ‘one of those’ Harrisons. Cooper does his job with deliberate detachment, refusing to get emotionally invested in another dog the way he had with Argos—until he finds himself rescuing a wounded and gun-shy yellow lab gone feral.  

Cooper never thought he’d find himself going back in order to move forward, and yet Harmony Farms is the one place where Cooper must learn to forgive and, only then, heal. All with the help of a yellow dog. 

MY REVIEW:
A heartwarming book that will make you both happy and sad.  It will warm your heart and you will be happy you read it.  There is hope within the pages and a story that I felt very personally connected to.  I have to say that this book was one that just made me feel.  And sometimes that it what a books needs to make you do, feel and be in the story and not focused on the day to day stresses. 4 stars

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With the compelling narrative tension and psychological complexity of the works of Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, Kate Atkinson, and Michael Connelly, Edgar Award-nominee Lou Berney’s The Long and Faraway Gone is a smart, fiercely compassionate crime story that explores the mysteries of memory and the impact of violence on survivors—and the lengths they will go to find the painful truth of the events that scarred their lives

In the summer of 1986, two tragedies rocked Oklahoma City. Six movie-theater employees were killed in an armed robbery, while one inexplicably survived. Then, a teenage girl vanished from the annual State Fair. Neither crime was ever solved.

Twenty-five years later, the reverberations of those unsolved cases quietly echo through survivors’ lives. A private investigator in Vegas, Wyatt’s latest inquiry takes him back to a past he’s tried to escape—and drags him deeper into the harrowing mystery of the movie house robbery that left six of his friends dead. 

Like Wyatt, Julianna struggles with the past—with the day her beautiful older sister Genevieve disappeared. When Julianna discovers that one of the original suspects has resurfaced, she’ll stop at nothing to find answers.

As fate brings these damaged souls together, their obsessive quests spark sexual currents neither can resist. But will their shared passion and obsession heal them, or push them closer to the edge? Even if they find the truth, will it help them understand what happened, that long and faraway gone summer? Will it set them free—or ultimately destroy them?

MY REVIEW:
This book is gripping, in-depth and engaging.  I thought it was so deep and moving at times.  It has a setting so perfect for the book.  It is one of those long books, that doesn't seem so long because you find yourself lost int he pages of the novel and when you poke your head up it has been an hour.  A really great read. 4 stars


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Book Club Girl: Pick-Someone Else's Love Story: A Novel (P.S.) Paperback – August 5, 2014 by Joshilyn Jackson



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At twenty-one, Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Natty, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced Catholic mother and Jewish father. She’s got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up in a gas station mini-mart and falling in love with a great wall of a man named William Ashe, who willingly steps between the armed robber and her son.

Shandi doesn’t know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It’s been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his universe. But William doesn’t define destiny the way other people do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in science and numbers, destiny to him is about choice.

Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, in a funny, charming, and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness,; about a virgin birth, a sacrifice, and a resurrection; about falling in love, and learning that things aren’t always what they seem—or what we hope they will be. It’s a novel about discovering what we want and ultimately finding what we need.



Jackson has a way to draw you into a read from the first line. She writes such original and unsuspecting great stories. She takes her time fleshing out the characters and making them relate-able, engaging and unforgettable. She has twists, turns and ending that are both unexpected and satisfying. She writes well rounded novels. I feel that Jackson is among the best story tellers out there. Make sure to grab this novel. It is not only one you will devour, but it is a great pick for your book club! 4.5 star 

Showcase with review: The Adventures of Daring Dog by Charlotte Jerace


Brimming with comedy, inspiration, and valuable lessons of love.

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Filled with delightful oddball characters and heroic escapades, The Adventures of Daring Dog is a magical and inspiring tale for children of all ages.
Ten-year-old Sam Harris experiences life from a wheelchair, which wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the Crabs gang always bullying him. After all, his dad is a brilliant inventor. Plus, his family has Archie, a life-size robot “housekeeper.” How many kids can say that?
But the best thing that ever happened to Sam started out with a very sad discovery: upon exiting the hospital, Sam and his dad find Daring, a bloodhound, lying lifeless in the parking lot. They rush the dog to eccentric vet Hannah Sunshine Trout and hope for a miracle.
Someone with a bit of fairy dust seems to be paying attention, because when Daring wakes up from surgery, she’s not only alive—she can fly!
But the crazy adventure has only just begun for Sam and his dog friend. They have lessons to learn, secrets to uncover, and people to save.
The Adventures of Daring Dog will keep readers laughing, while also reminding of love’s power to heal.
Adventure of Daring Dog
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Author Bio:

Charlotte Jerace was born on the rockbound coast of Maine, where she fell in love with the ocean’s shifting beauty. Early in her professional career, she worked as a partner in a global benefits consulting firm, through which she received national recognition for her creativity and her writing. Her significant honors include a New York Film Festival award, the International Association of Business Communicators Gold Quill, and several Telly awards.
Before she began writing for children, Jerace published a short story, “Cannibals,” in Provincetown Arts Magazine, as well as an adult novel, Kentucky Rain. Now she shares her love of animals with young readers in her new book, The Adventures of Daring Dog.
Jerace divides her time between Cape Cod and South Florida, where she enjoys daily beach walks with her faithful dog, Stella, and is always on the lookout for whales.
Author Website: Charlotte Jerace

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!!  There is magic in the pages of this book.  The story is so moving and touching...a boy in a wheelchair and his flying bloodhound dog!  The supporting cast of characters in this book bring the story to a whole new level!!!  It is a remarkable story about the power of overcoming obstacles and facing challenges. You instantly get swept into the magic and imagination of the story.  It is really something and I think kids of all ages (and their parents) would love this story.  There needs to be more of this series and I cannot wait to read it!!  4.5 stars





Q.  What inspires your writing?

A.  I'm inspired by the fantastic and the mundane.  If I hear an amazing story, I'm inspired to write my own.  If I am just sitting in a park watching someone reading a book, I'm inspired to write one that person might like to read.  Life in general, nature specifically, family, friends and pets all inspire me.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an writer?

A. I love a blank canvas.  I love being able to use my imagination to say "what if?"

Q.  What is the toughest part of being an writer?

A.  It is tough letting go when a project is finished.

Q.  If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?

A.  Several answers come to mind.  A lawyer, an actress, a tireless charity worker.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?

A.  She lived,  she loved, she laughed, she cried and cherished every moment

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?

A.  Anna Karenina

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?

A.  Skeeter in "The Help"

Q.  What character from all of your book are you most like?

A.   Mrs. Cohen in "The Adventures of Daring Dog"

Q.  Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?

A. "Dr Zhivago"

Q.  What do you want to be remembered for 100 years from now?

A.  She was kind and fair and filled with love for all.

Q.  What is your favorite season?

A.  Summer

Q.  What inspired your book cover(s)?  Or what is your favorite book cover and why?

A.  My book cover is an exact interpretation of my story.  It took eleven rounds.

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.

A.  At a private reading in the home of a nutritionist who only eats raw, vegan, healthy, healthy, her 7-year old stuffed four frosted cupcakes in his mouth.

Q.  Are you working on something new?

A. Absolutely. I'm working on Daring Dog's next adventure.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?

A. Yes.  Read to your children.  Snuggle up and take those precious moments together and read, read, read.  You will cherish the memories years from now.  And ... thanks for considering "The Adventures of Daring Dog".




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