Sunday, August 20, 2017

#MMBBR #RoundUp #SCR2017 @BookSparks #FirstLine #Reviews #JulyPicks #AugustPicks #GettingCaughtUp #SummerReading



JULY/AUGUST BOOKS:  

I AM STILL WORKING THROUGH THESE AMAZING BOOKS!!  I HAVE LOVED EVERY ONE OF THE BOOKS THAT THIS CHALLENGE HAS OFFERED.  I LOVE THE VARIETY, DEPTH AND ORIGINALITY IN THESE READS.  THEY HAVE KEPT ME FULLY ENGAGED AND ENTERTAINED ALL SUMMER LONG!  HAVE YOU BEEN READING ALONG?  TELL ME WHAT YOU HAVE THOUGHT SO FAR!  WE ARE NOW INTO OUR LAST MONTH, WHICH MAKES ME SAD, BUT FALL READING IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER!! 

Letting go after her abrupt break-up with Samson is harder than Julene thought it would be, especially since her ex has wasted no time in burying himself in the local dating scene. But during an extended visit to her parents overseas, Julene rediscovers her love of art, and a burgeoning career develops. Samson, on the other hand, after trying valiantly―and unsuccessfully―to forget Julene, has settled instead on his own new career. 

When Julene returns home to Australia, a coincidental meeting leads to an emotional reunion―but her love and patience will be tested when she finds out just how busy Samson has been in her absence. Yes, they have both made mistakes they can work through and move past―but when a specter from Samson’s past looms, Julene wonders: Can she trust him again?
#FirstLine  The lock disengaged and the door clicked open, squeaking gently.
REVIEW:  I am a believer is love and in second chances and this book highlights both.  A story that beautiful and moving and give all us hopeless romantics hope.
Richard and Michael, both three years sober, have just decided to celebrate their love by moving in together when Richard―driven by the desire to do the right thing for his ten-year-old-daughter, Brady, whom he has never met―impulsively calls his former father-in-law to connect with her. With that phone call, he jeopardizes the one good thing he has―his relationship with Michael―and also threatens the world of the fundamentalist Christian grandparents who love Brady and see her as payback from God for the alcohol-related death of her mother. Unable to reach an agreement, the two parties hire lawyers who have agendas far beyond the interests of the families―and Brady is initially trusted into Richard and Michael’s care. But when the judge learns that the young girl was present when a questionable act took place while in their custody, she returns Brady to her grandparents. Ultimately, it’s not until further tragedy strikes that both families are finally motivated to actually act in the “best interests of the child.”
#FirstLine  Moving in with Michael should have been perfect.
REVIEW:  No family is perfect.  No love is perfect.  This is a story of family dysfunction and the road to recovery and self exploration.  It is heartbreaking and hopeful.  A book not to be missed.

“There was a time I would have called Lisa Ko’s novel beautifully written, ambitious, and moving, and all of that is true, but it’s more than that now: if you want to understand a forgotten and essential part of the world we live in, The Leavers is required reading.” —Ann Patchett,  author of Commonwealth

Lisa Ko’s powerful debut, The Leavers, is the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social justice.
 
One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon—and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her. 
With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left mystified and bereft. Eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors, Deming is moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson. But far from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his adoptive parents’ desire that he assimilate with his memories of his mother and the community he left behind. 
Told from the perspective of both Daniel—as he grows into a directionless young man—and Polly, Ko’s novel gives us one of fiction’s most singular mothers. Loving and selfish, determined and frightened, Polly is forced to make one heartwrenching choice after another. 
Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid examination of borders and belonging. It’s a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past. 
 
Lisa Ko’s fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2016, Apogee Journal, Narrative,Copper Nickel, the Asian Pacific American Journal, and elsewhere. She has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Writers OMI at Ledig House, the Jerome Foundation, and Blue Mountain Center, among others. She was born in New York City, where she now lives. Visit her at lisa-ko.com.
#FirstLine ~ The day before Deming Guo saw his mother for the last time, she surprised him at school.
A story that is important and relevant...The Leavers has impact in both message and characters.  You will be moved by the story and forever changed.
** NATIONAL BESTSELLER **

“From its startling opening line right through to its stunning conclusion, Girl in Snow is a perfectly paced and tautly plotted thriller. Danya Kukafka’s misfit characters are richly drawn, her prose is both elegant and eerie—this is an incredibly accomplished debut.” Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water 

WHO ARE YOU WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING?

When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both. In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory.

Compulsively readable and powerfully moving, Girl in Snow offers an unforgettable reading experience and introduces a singular new talent in Danya Kukafka.
#FirstLine ~ When they told him Lucinda Hayes was dead, Cameron thought of her shoulder blades and how they framed her naked spine, like a pair of static lungs.  
A gripping and thrilling mystery that kept me buzzing through the pages of the book.  I found this book fully engaging and utterly entertaining.  It was one of those reads that was unlike any other book I have read.  There is something so purely human about this story...something that gets to the core of human tragedy and captures the the aftermath.  Such a hard to put down read.
 
A sly debut story collection that conjures the experience of adolescence through the eyes of Chinese American girls growing up in New York City—for readers of Zadie Smith, Helen Oyeyemi, and Junot Díaz

A fresh new voice emerges with the arrival of Sour Heart, establishing Jenny Zhang as a frank and subversive interpreter of the immigrant experience in America. Her stories cut across generations and continents, moving from the fraught halls of a public school in Flushing, Queens, to the tumultuous streets of Shanghai, China, during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. In the absence of grown-ups, latchkey kids experiment on each other until one day the experiments turn violent; an overbearing mother abandons her artistic aspirations to come to America but relives her glory days through karaoke; and a shy loner struggles to master English so she can speak to God.

Narrated by the daughters of Chinese immigrants who fled imperiled lives as artists back home only to struggle to stay afloat—dumpster diving for food and scamming Atlantic City casino buses to make a buck—these seven stories showcase Zhang’s compassion, moral courage, and a perverse sense of humor reminiscent of Portnoy’s Complaint. A darkly funny and intimate rendering of girlhood, Sour Heart examines what it means to belong to a family, to find your home, leave it, reject it, and return again.
#FirstLine ~ Back when my parents and I lived in Bushwick in a building sandwiched between a drug house and another drug house, the only difference being that the dealers in the one drug house were also the users and so more predictable.

From Danielle Paige, the New York Times bestselling author of Dorothy Must Die, comes a re-imagining of "The Snow Queen" fairy tale.
Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she's not crazy and doesn't belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.
Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn't what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid--her true home--with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she's sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she's destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything . . . including Snow's return to the world she once knew.
This breathtaking first volume begins the story of how Snow becomes a villain, a queen, and ultimately a hero.
#FirstLine ~ First kisses sometimes wake slumbering princesses, undo spells, and spark happily ever afters. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

#MMBBR #Review #BlogTour #TheBigDreamsBeachHotel by #LillyBartlett @MicheleGormanUK




The Big Dreams Beach Hotel by [Bartlett, Lilly, Gorman, Michele]

Wriggle your toes in the sand and feel the warm breeze on your face at the hotel that’s full of dreams…

Three years after ditching her career in New York City, Rosie never thought she’d still be managing the quaint faded Victorian hotel in her seaside hometown. 

What’s worse, the hotel’s new owners are turning it into a copy of their Florida properties. Flamingos and all. Cultures are clashing and the hotel’s residents stand in the way of the developers’ plans. The hotel is both their home and their family.

That’s going to make Rory’s job difficult when he arrives to enforce the changes. And Rosie isn’t exactly on his side, even though it’s the chance to finally restart her career. Rory might be charming, but he’s still there to evict her friends. 

How can she follow her dreams if it means ending everyone else’s?

This is a brand new standalone novel from the author of the Carlton Square series with a whole new cast of characters to fall in love with!




Many of you know that I am in love with Bartlett/Gorman as a writer.  I think that she really gets what the reader wants and delivers with books that are crafted beautifully.  In her newest book, The Big Dreams Beach Motel, you are introduced to a new set of characters, brought to a new setting, but get all the great elements that Bartlett/Gorman is known for.  She writes in a way that takes struggle love, reinvention and hope (among other things), blends it all together and causes readers to fall in love with both characters and setting.  I was buzzing through the pages and when I finished the book I was left satisfied.  Another book that is not to be missed and a story I HIGHLY recommend!


Lilly BartlettLilly Bartlett’s cozy romcoms are full of warmth, quirky characters and guaranteed happily-ever-afters. 

Lilly is the pen-name of USA Today and Sunday Times best-selling author, Michele Gorman, who writes best friend-girl power comedies under her own name.



BUY THE BOOK HERE

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

#MMBBR #Review @NatGeoKids #WeirdButTrueDailyPlanner #UnitedStatesAtlas



Prepare to be amazed each day with weird-but-true facts that will impress your friends and stump your parents. Turn the page and record your school work, keep track of activities, and plan your social life, all while learning wild and wacky things about the world around you! 

Fun prompts invite you to celebrate weirdness. Plus there are homework help sections and tons of space to write or doodle your daily schedule any way you wish. With beautiful full-color artwork and engaging information and activities, this is the must-have planner. It's a great way to stand out from the crowd!

MY REVIEW:
Such a fun way to keep track of your daily activities.  There are 365 days to fill with everything you are doing and on the pages are pictures, questions, facts and space for doodles, drawings or notes.  I love all the funny and wacky facts.  It is a great way to learn new and funny things each and everyday.  You can keep track of anything and everything in this book! I really love the homework help section, as it helps direct students in a new and fun way.  This is a great gift for any student going back to school.  I just may get one for myself! 5 stars



Kids will have fun learning about every U.S. state in this amazing atlas, packed with maps, stats, facts, and pictures. National Geographic's world-renowned cartographers have paired up with education experts to create maps of the 50 states, U.S. territories, and Washington, D.C., that pinpoint the physical features, capitals, and towns and cities of each state. Discover the latest data and trends along with colorful photography of each state and the people who live there. 
 
Key points reflect the latest information about land and water, people, and places. Lively essays cover each region of the country. Eight specially themed maps on nature, population, energy, climate, and more, delve deeper into key issues. State birds and state flags add to the high visual interest. This is a great reference for home and school with all the basics kids need to know to succeed in middle school, high school, and beyond.


MY REVIEW:  
I am so excited to work through this atlas with my kiddos. What makes this atlas so cool is that it is a bit different than other atlases.  You will find the maps, but there is more...lots more.  There is information on flags, birds and flowers of each state.  This book is filled with pictures, charts and stats.  I am always looking for ways to keep the learning going over the summer months and into the school year to supplement what they learn at school.  This book is going to be a HUGE hit! It is a super big book and has bright and colorful photos.  I cannot get over how jam packed with facts, maps and other tidbits this book is. You will get to explore so much. This book also includes a detailed glossary and index. I love that the facts are written in a way that is easy to understand. Adults and kids alike will get lost looking at the pictures and learning so much cool and interesting information. So awesome!!! 5 HUGE stars



Monday, August 14, 2017

#MMBBR #Review #AtWavesEnd by @PatPDonovan #FirstLine #LakeUnionPublishing @AmazonPub

After a childhood as unpredictable as the flip of a coin, Faith Sterling has finally found her comfort zone in the kitchen of an upscale Manhattan restaurant. A workaholic chef, at least there she’s in control. So when her free-spirited and often-gullible mother, Connie, calls to announce that she’s won a bed-and-breakfast on the Jersey Shore, Faith’s patience boils over. Convinced the contest is a scam, she rushes to Wave’s End to stop Connie from trading her steady job for an uncertain future.
When a hurricane ravages the coast, Faith is torn between supporting the shore rescue and bailing out her beleaguered boss. But the storm dredges up deceptions and emotional debris that threaten to destroy the inn’s future and her fragile bonds with her mother.
As the women struggle to salvage both the inn and their relationship, Faith begins to see herself and Connie in a new light—and to realize that some moments are better left to chance.


#FirstLine ~ With Piquant's stainless steel kitchen door propped at the exactly right angle, head chief Faith Stering could clandestinely scan the entire dining room, which at eleven o'clock on this mid-September weeknight remained two-thirds full.

I adored this book.  It was everything I love in a good book...an interesting setting, great characters and a story that was both richly written and a story that kept me turning pages.  I loved that this book was multi-layered...there was such depth.  If you want a book that will take you by the heart and not let go, this is the book for you!  


Patricia Perry DonovanPatricia Perry Donovan is an American journalist who writes about healthcare. Her fiction has appeared at Gravel Literary, Flash Fiction Magazine, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable and in other literary journals. The mother of two grown daughters, she lives at the Jersey shore with her husband, with whom she has fond memories of raising their young family abroad in France. Connect with her on Facebook @PatriciaPerryDonovanBooks and on Twitter @PatPDonovan. Learn more at www.patriciaperrydonovan.com









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Sunday, August 13, 2017

#MMBBR #Review #KissesForKindergarten by by #LivingstoneCrouse #MackyPamintuan


Stella Isabella Harden

contemplating kindergarten
declared she didn't have to go,
because her puppy told her so.


School is about to begin, and Stella Isabella Harden decides that kindergarten just isn't for her. Instead, she decides to spend the day learning from her puppy named Buster. Together these two adventurers plan a day full of playtime, teatime, naptime, and storytime.

After every "lesson," Stella gets the best reward: a kiss from her best friend and favorite puppy. But will she change her mind about kindergarten before the first day of school? Join Stella and Buster in this lyrical read-aloud and uplifting story about growing up.

From Booklist review:
“In Crouse’s delightful kindergarten-readiness tale, lyrical couplets playfully emphasize how the transition from home life to school can be a frightening experience for youngsters. Pamintuan adds warmth and tenderness to frolicsome scenes of the cartoonish figures in saturated colors, by focusing on Stella and Buster’s close-knit relationship. Including a kindergarten-ready checklist, this debut is a perfect read for kiddos nervous about their first day of school.”


A perfect book to help your child get ready for Kindergarten.  I adored this book and know that it will help so many kids transition to school.  It can be so very scary to leave home and be away from your loved ones.  Children need to find other things to focus their attentions on and to find ways to make the change easier.  This book, with its colorful illustrations, allows a child to focus their energies on the exciting parts of school, rather than the scary parts.  I cannot wait to give this to my favorite Kindergarten teacher to read to her kids on the first day of school!!  


About the Author and Illustrator:
Livingstone Crouse has spent the last 20 years either selling, editing, or writing books for children. He's even done all three at once! So recently he decided he'd focus entirely on writing the kinds of books he likes to read, books in verse that are filled with heart, word-play, and lots of laughs. Books like this one. Livingstone lives in a large, 200-year old farmhouse in New York's Hudson Valley with his husband and a dog named Kat. (And you can be fairly certain that Livingstone Crouse is not his real name. But don't tell anyone!)

Macky Pamintuan was born and raised in Davao, a city in the southern Philippines. As a young child, drawing was his favorite pastime and an activity that brought him delight and satisfaction. Early on, his parents discovered that giving him paper and pencil was a sure way to keep him busy, quiet, and out of trouble. He still remembers the day when he successfully drew Mickey Mouse and Superman, a huge breakthrough and a sweet triumph. He moved to San Francisco at age 21 and in 1998 enrolled in the Academy of Art College to pursue illustration. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in December 2003. When not illustrating, Macky enjoys playing basketball, his other true passion.


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#MMBBR #Review There's a Dragon in my Closet by #DorotheaTaylor @DeneneMillner


The dragon in the closet is such a con: one minute he’s dancing like a goof under sheets and leaving “get well” notes and peppermints when little ones are sick, and the next he’s tracking dirty footprints all over the carpet and eating all the snickerdoodles out of the cookie jar. With him around, there’s always lots of fun—and a whole heap of trouble, especially when he goes invisible, leaving a little boy to answer for his bad behavior.

Colorful illustrations bring to life this adorable tale of a kid who blames sweet surprises and mischievous behavior on an invisible, mysterious guest only he knows exists: the friendly, goofy, troublemaking dragon in his closet. But did the dragon really do it?

There’s a Dragon in My Closet is a funny, engaging salute to mischievous little boys and the imaginary friends that sprinkle giggles and create a few pickles on even the most ordinary days.



A such a beautiful book that takes you along with a young boy who goes through his days with adventure and creativity.  This book captures all the best parts of being young and being loved by family.  There is something so true and beautifully wonderful captured in the pages of this book.  You cannot help but be left with a sense of love and awe because the sweetness just oozes through this story!  Highly recommended!  


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#MMBBR #Review #HenryAndTheHiddenTreasure by #BCRFegan @TaleBlade


Henry and the Hidden Treasure is an imaginative adventure a young child has in defending his pocket money against his little sister. Henry constructs elaborate defensive measures that he is sure will stand up to the clever ambitions of Lucy. Little does he know, Lucy has a few tricks of her own.With a focus on introducing children to the use of ordinal numbers, Henry and the Hidden Treasure also draws out some important qualities of being a kid - such as creativity, the value of listening to parental advice, and of course, being nice to your sister.



Such an adorable story about wanting something and realizing that you were under the wrong impression the whole time.  When Henry goes to great and imaginative attempts to protect his money, he ends up with a huge surprise.  In a story about love, family and adventure Henry and the Hidden Treasure is a story that will leave you with a smile on your face.  

B.C.R. Fegan

BCR Fegan is an award-winning author who has written a number of fairy tales and fantasies for children and young adults.

Raised on a small hobby farm only minutes from some of Australia’s greatest beaches, Fegan grew up inspired by the power of natures ambience. From the intensity of the frequent summer storms, to the overwhelming serenity of a lonely beach in the early hours of the morning. His ravenous appetite for both reading and writing soon saw him drawing on the transformational influence of the world around him to craft short stories, poems and picture books

As time wore on, Fegan also found inspiration in the magic and depth of authors and compositors like Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. He was mesmerised by the potency of small but beautiful phrases that were carefully carved from the minds of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Alfred Lord Tennyson and Robert Frost. He grew to appreciate the worlds meticulously created by David Eddings, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis.

Eventually, he began to forge his own complete works. Weaving his own magic, piecing together his own phrases and crafting his own worlds. Agonising over plots that would inspire, characters that would be loved and circumstances that would delight. In time, his efforts saw a number of children’s books and young adult fiction produced. Through the efforts of TaleBlade Press, these works are now being published with that same careful dedication.





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