Saturday, July 26, 2014

Kid Konnection: The Zoo is Closed Today!

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a cute picture book that's a perfect tie-in with National Zookeeper Week.

Summary: It was a warm sunny day
with not much to do.
So Sue and John walked
to the Kalamazoo.

But when John and Sue arrive at the zoo, they are in for a big surprise! What is wrong with all of the animals? From Edward the elephant to Marcel the monkey, the animals have tummy aches and toothaches, runny noses and sore throats. Pete the zookeeper can barely keep up with taking care of them and has to close the zoo. And the next day, John and Sue are in for an even bigger surprise! This charming tale, illustrated with humor and warmth, demonstrates the value of sweet friendship. -- Peter Pauper Press

THE ZOO IS CLOSED TODAY! by Evelyn Beilenson and illustrated by Anne Kennedy is a great way to celebrate this last day of National Zookeeper Week. This adorable picture book shows what happens when the zoo is closed because the animals are ill.

This rhyming book begins when Sue and John decide to visit the zoo. They no sooner get there when they see a sign that the zoo is closed. Pete, the zookeeper approaches them and explains that the animals are all sick. For example, the hippo has tummy issues from eating a bad apple and the tiger has just had a tooth pulled. He details how each of the animals isn't well but will get better quickly with lots of rest, and the kids head home "with tears in their eyes!"

The next day, a letter arrives from Pete saying that they animals were better and the zoo was open. BUT... Sue and John discover that they are the ones who aren't feeling too well now!

I thought THE ZOO IS CLOSED TODAY was a cute story about what happens when all of the animals in a zoo get sick. The story is told in rhyming verses so it's quite catchy, and the illustrations are just precious. Check out this page about the elephant who has a cold in his nose.

I'm certain children will adore these colorful pictures chockfull of animals as well as the rhyming story (which is a little silly!) However, as a mom, I liked that this book gives readers an important less of compassion. You can't help but feel bad for these sweet animals (and Sue and John) as they rest and recover from their sicknesses.

THE ZOO IS CLOSED is a fun book that's both entertaining and educational. Recommended for preschoolers who have an interest in animals and zoos!

Thanks to Media Masters Publicity for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Guest Review: The Ascendant

Summary: Hidden deep within the figures tracking the ups and downs of the stock market lies a terrifying truth: America is under attack. Our government . . . our economy . . . our very way of life are in the crosshairs of a ruthless enemy . . . and no one knows. Except Garrett Reilly. He has a knack for numbers. He sees patterns no one else can. His gift has made him a rising star on Wall Street. But when he notices that two hundred billion dollars’ worth of U.S. Treasury bonds are being sold off at a terrifying rate, his gift makes him the most wanted man alive.

The U.S. military wants him for his extraordinary abilities. They need someone to lead a crack squad of rogue soldiers to act as the last line of defense in a war that could mean the end of everything America holds dear. And everyone else? They just want him dead.

In this explosive debut novel, ranging from the offices of Wall Street to the casinos of Vegas to the back roads of the Chinese countryside, Drew Chapman introduces readers to a new kind of action hero: one uniquely skilled to fight a new kind of war. -- Simon and Schuster

THE ASCENDANT by Drew Chapman seemed like the ideal book for my dad. It has action and suspense and even a little bit of finance. I think it was a great match. Here are his thoughts:

THE ASCENDANT by Drew Chapman is a thriller that takes the reader into an unconventional war that is fought with digital technology instead of weapons and troops. The main character is Garrett Reilly, a Yale dropout, who makes millions trading bonds on Wall Street. Reilly has the unique ability to sort through massive volumes of data and find any logical pattern that may exist in the data. When Rielly’s special gift leads him to discover that billions of dollars of U.S. treasury bonds are being sold off by China at very low rates, the U.S. government becomes very interested in his abilities.

This bond activity and other Chinese actions has convinced the U.S. government that China is waging a digital war against the United States. As a response, the U.S. military has established a secret program called Ascendant and they have been searching for a leader who “thinks outside the military box”. Garrett Reilly appears to be the man they have been searching for to lead the effort.

The U.S. Army sends beautiful (of course) Army captain, Alexis Truffant, to recruit him. In spite of a deep hatred for the military since his brother died in combat and no true loyalty to his country, Reilly reluctantly agrees to take charge of the program. Reilly and his group of misfit Techies are charged with executing a retaliatory stealth war against China.

While executing his digital war against China, Reilly’s efforts are constantly slowed by outside influences. He’s been impeded by the Secretary of Defense; he’s been targeted by a mysterious international character; he’s been severely beaten by a group of Marines in a barroom fight and he’s been tortured by Homeland Security agents. Nevertheless he finds the key to why the Chinese are waging this internet war and establishes his counter attack.

Author Drew Chapman does a creditable job of character development. Reilly and his computer geeks are quite engaging and are easy to cheer for as they try to execute this new kind of war. Chapman delivers a story that is face-paced and suspenseful but could probably be done as effectively in less than 388 pages. The conclusion is left somewhat up in the air which leads me to believe a sequel will soon be on its way. The one thought that remained with me is that the drama played out in THE ASCENDANT is very believable and scary.

If you’re a fan of thrillers I believe you would enjoy THE ASCENDANT.

Thanks to Booking Pap Pap for his review and to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: The Hurricane Sisters

Summary: Hurricane season begins early and rumbles all summer long, well into September. Often people's lives reflect the weather and The Hurricane Sisters is just such a story.

Once again Dorothea Benton Frank takes us deep into the heart of her magical South Carolina Lowcountry on a tumultuous journey filled with longings, disappointments, and, finally, a road toward happiness that is hard earned. There we meet three generations of women buried in secrets. The determined matriarch, Maisie Pringle, at eighty, is a force to be reckoned with because she will have the final word on everything, especially when she's dead wrong. Her daughter, Liz, is caught up in the classic maelstrom of being middle-age and in an emotionally demanding career that will eventually open all their eyes to a terrible truth. And Liz's beautiful twenty-something daughter, Ashley, whose dreamy ambitions of her unlikely future keeps them all at odds.

Luckily for Ashley, her wonderful older brother, Ivy, is her fierce champion but he can only do so much from San Francisco where he resides with his partner. And Mary Beth, her dearest friend, tries to have her back but even she can't talk headstrong Ashley out of a relationship with an ambitious politician who seems slightly too old for her.

Actually, Ashley and Mary Beth have yet to launch themselves into solvency. Their prospects seem bleak. So while they wait for the world to discover them and deliver them from a ramen-based existence, they placate themselves with a hare-brained scheme to make money but one that threatens to land them in huge trouble with the authorities.

So where is Clayton, Liz's husband? He seems more distracted than usual. Ashley desperately needs her father's love and attention but what kind of a parent can he be to Ashley with one foot in Manhattan and the other one planted in indiscretion? And Liz, who's an expert in the field of troubled domestic life, refuses to acknowledge Ashley's precarious situation. Who's in charge of this family? The wake-up call is about to arrive.

The Lowcountry has endured its share of war and bloodshed like the rest of the South, but this storm season we watch Maisie, Liz, Ashley, and Mary Beth deal with challenges that demand they face the truth about themselves. After a terrible confrontation they are forced to rise to forgiveness, but can they establish a new order for the future of them all?

Frank, with her hallmark scintillating wit and crisp insight, captures how a complex family of disparate characters and their close friends can overcome anything through the power of love and reconciliation. This is the often hilarious, sometimes sobering, but always entertaining story of how these unforgettable women became The Hurricane Sisters. -- William Morrow

A few weeks ago, my family went on vacation to the Outer Banks. I packed a lot of books and actually ended up reading most of them (Now to just write the reviews for them!) One book that I definitely knew I had to read on my beach vacation was THE HURRICANE SISTERS by Dorothea Benton Frank. I knew I'd like the book if I read it on my couch in Central PA; however, I just felt like a book about the South Carolina Lowcountry should be appreciated while surrounded by waves and sand! Little did I know that an Cat 2 hurricane would actually hit the Outer Banks while I was there!

At its heart, THE HURRICANE SISTERS is an entertaining (and touching) story about family, specifically three generations of women. There is Maisie the 80 year old matriarch who is truly a piece of work and always has to be right, her middle-aged daughter Liz who definitely has her own issues with work and marriage, and her granddaughter Ashley who is trying to find her her own way both financially and in her new relationship with an up-and-coming politician.

As if the tensions in their personal lives isn't enough, a hurricane is threatening to hit the family home and threaten everything they hold dear. Fortunately, they find the strength to overcome their adversities by turning to each other and realizing the power of family and love.

Of course, I enjoyed THE HURRICANE SISTERS! It was a terrific beach book with a little bit of everything. Plus, it was written by Ms. Frank. She's just a fantastic writer who always seems to write books that both entertain readers and touch their hearts. I've had the opportunity to meet Ms. Frank a few times, and she's a hoot! Her humor and passion most definitely come through in her characters and writing style. And personally, I think that's why she's so successful!

One thing in particular that I appreciated about this book was that Ms. Frank delved into a very serious topic -- abused women. I remember her telling me that when she was researching the topic, she was surprised to learn that South Carolina is the state with the highest percentage of abused women. I liked that this novel explored the subject matter both from a charity/support side as well as a victim side; and I appreciated that the victims weren't necessarily what comes to mind when many readers think of abused women. I hope that this novel brings to light just how serious an issue this is in our country.

I also really liked the messages in this story. Obviously, the lessons about abuse were important; however, I also liked the messages about family. There is no doubt that the characters in this novel (and the family unit) were quirky -- seriously quirky -- and they had their issues with each other; however, when the going got tough, they realized how fortunate they are to have each other. Call me mushy, but I love stories with positive messages like that!

Finally, I really appreciated Ms. Frank's writing style. While parts of this book were anything but light and fluffy, there was a great deal of humor in the novel. I loved the way she balanced the serious issues with the comic relief -- I suspect that's not an easy task to pull off! She also did a great job of creating memorable characters who were genuine and actually reminded me of people I know.

THE HURRICANE SISTERS would make a great book club selection. I'm scratching my head why there isn't a formal discussion guide, but you definitely don't need one to discuss this book. There are many themes to explore including abuse, marriage, infidelity, control, second chances, friendship, love, parent/child relationships, sibling relationships, forgiveness, and more.

Summer wouldn't be the same without a Dorothea Benton Frank book like THE HURRICANE SISTERS. Make sure this one is in your beach or pool bag!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: We Are Called to Rise

Summary: Three lives are bound together by a split-second mistake, and a child’s fate hangs in the balance.

What happens next will test—and restore—your faith in humanity.

Far from the neon lights of the Vegas strip, three lives are about to collide. A middle aged woman attempting to revive her marriage. A returning soldier waking up in a hospital with no memory of how he got there. A very brave eight-year-old immigrant boy.

This is a story about families—the ones we have and the ones we make. It’s a story about America today, where so many cultures and points of view collide and coexist. We Are Called to Rise challenges us to think about our responsibilities to each other and reminds us that no matter how cruel life can be in a given moment, it is ultimately beautiful to live, and live fully. -- Simon & Schuster

WE ARE CALLED TO RISE by Laura McBride will probably go down as one of my favorite novels of 2014. I absolutely loved this book! I found the story to be gripping, the characters to be well developed, and it moved me like few books do. I totally understand why Entertainment Weekly (one of my favorite sources for books) gave it an A-.

WE ARE CALLED TO RISE takes place in Las Vegas and tells the stories of four individuals whose lives are brought together by a horrible event. First there is Avis, a woman who is shocked to learn that her husband wants a divorce. In addition, she is also aware that something isn't quite right with her son who has returned from his third tour in Iraq. Then there is Roberta, an advocate for children who sees an entirely different side of Las Vegas than the one that tourists see. There is also Baskim, an 8 year old boy whose parents are Albanian refugees. And lastly, there is Luis Rodriguez-Reyes, a soldier who has returned home after a devastating accident in Afghanistan.

The novel alternates between each of these four characters as they tell their own stories, and believe me when I say, that there is a great deal of sadness in each of their lives. One fateful and tragic day, something occurs that causes their stories to intersect; and this event forever changes their lives in powerful ways.

I'm almost certain that I've scared many of you away with this grim description of WE ARE CALLED TO RISE; however, I actually found this book to be a story about the strength and resilience of the human spirit. While I did find myself tearing up more than once, I eventually was left with the message that people are inherently good rather than bad. And I ended this novel with a feeling of peace and hope.

I am pretty certain that my review won't do justice to this book and how special it was to me. I just loved so much about it. I could go on and on about the beauty of Ms. McBride's writing or the way these individual stories came together, or how the book just resonated with me. However, I will focus on a just few things that really stood out to me!

First and foremost was the way Ms. McBride brought these characters to life. I loved how the story was told through these four characters' voices, and I thought she did an amazing job of making each character's voice unique. She covered a lot of ground with a 50-something wife and mother, to an 8 year old boy immigrant, to a woman helping children in need, to an injured veteran; yet she made each voice entirely believable. I loved how the characters she created were representative of today's society with different ages, different social classes, and different ethnicities, and how she focused on the goodness of humanity through their actions.

In addition, I really liked how much this book made me think. I honestly couldn't put it down because I cared so much about these characters. When tragedy hit each one of them (albeit in very different ways), I appreciated seeing how they handled it. I also loved the messages in this book about how resilient people can be and how they can help others even at the expense of their own lives. WE ARE CALLED TO RISE was, without a doubt, sad. But it was also beautiful -- much like life in general.

WE ARE CALLED TO RISE would make an outstanding book club selection! There is so much to discuss about these well-drawn characters, as well as the messages in the story. Fortunately, there is a reading guide available with fourteen questions along with some ideas for enhancing your book club experience. Some of the themes you might want to explore include the effects of war on soldiers, marriage, love, motherhood, immigration issues, abuse, mental health, loss, grief, guilt, forgiveness, and hope.

I adored WE ARE CALLED TO RISE and can't recommend it enough! Don't miss out on this beautiful book!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: Evergreen

Summary: From the celebrated author of The Bird Sisters, a gorgeously rendered and emotionally charged novel that spans generations, telling the story of two siblings, raised apart, attempting to share a life.

It is 1938 when Eveline, a young bride, follows her husband into the wilderness of Minnesota. Though their cabin is rundown, they have a river full of fish, a garden out back, and a new baby boy named Hux. But when Emil leaves to take care of his sick father, the unthinkable happens: a stranger arrives, and Eveline becomes pregnant. She gives the child away, and while Hux grows up hunting and fishing in the woods with his parents, his sister, Naamah, is raised an orphan. Years later, haunted by the knowledge of this forsaken girl, Hux decides to find his sister and bring her home to the cabin. But Naamah, even wilder than the wilderness that surrounds them, may make it impossible for Hux to ever tame her, to ever make up for all that she, and they, have lost. Set before a backdrop of vanishing forest, this is a luminous novel of love, regret, and hope. -- Knopf

I was a big fan of THE BIRD SISTERSRebecca Rasmussen's debut novel -- you can read my review here. She blew me away with her quirky characters and beautiful prose, and I was so impressed with how well she brought the setting to life. So it was with much excitement that I picked up her new novel EVERGREEN. EVERGREEN is once again a beautifully written novel with intriguing characters and a memorable setting. It spans three generations and, at its heart, is about family, love and loss.

EVERGREEN begins in the late 1930s when Eveline moves to rural Minnesota to be with her new husband. Although she has to adjust to living off of the land in a small cabin, she and Emil are very much in love. Things get even better when Eveline discovers that she is pregnant and gives birth to a healthy baby boy Hux.

When Emil learns that his father is very ill, he decides to return to Germany to say good-bye to his father one last time. Eveline is supposed to return to her parents' home while Emil's away, but she decides that she wants to stay with new (and eccentric) friend Lulu and fend for herself. And then Eveline's life takes a tragic turn. A man shows up at her cabin, forces his way in, and rapes her; and Eveline finds herself pregnant. She delivers a baby girl and drops her off at a Catholic orphanage; and Naamah is raised by an abusive nun.

On Eveline's deathbed, she tells Hux that he has a sister. Hux is shaken by the news and sets out to find Naamah and bring her back to live with him. He locates her but soon discovers that Naamah is obviously emotionally damaged. Hux desperately wants to help her and show her his love; however, it might be too late for Naamah to recover and find some sense of normalcy in her life.

I really, really enjoyed EVERGREEN and thought it was a beautifully written story. These characters got inside my head and my heart and I couldn't stop thinking about them even after I finished the novel. (As far as I'm concerned, that's a sign of a very good book!) Once again, I was deeply impressed with Ms. Rasmussen's prose as well as how well she brought the setting to life. And I loved the beauty of the story -- both the tragedies and the joy. EVERGREEN both broke my heart (over and over again), while at the same time leaving me with a sense of hope!

I've been in a bit of a mood at times this summer and I wasn't exactly sure EVERGREEN was a good fit for me. This is nothing against the book, but I had difficulties getting involved in the first half of the story. I don't think it was the characters because I really liked Eveline's story.. especially how much she changed when she first met Lulu. However, once Hux grew up and the story was more about him and Naamah, I found myself glued to this book.

I just loved Hux and I think that's a big reason that I enjoyed this book so much. I liked how kind he was and how much he tried to help his sister. I truly believe he thought he could "fix" her. Hux was extremely likable but he was also complicated, and I found his actions and motivations to be  interesting.

I also found Naamah to be a fascinating character -- probably because she was so incredibly flawed. Her upbringing was tragic to say the least and so complicated, and it's no wonder since she was living with so many scars. When Hux finally found her, I had so much hope that she'd fully recover and find happiness. However, life definitely wasn't simple for these individuals. Naamah was torn between her past and her future and it had devastating effects on those who loved her.

I don't want to give too much away about what happens after Hux finds Naamah, but suffice it to say, I liked it a lot. At first, it appeared that there would be happy endings for these characters. And then, it seemed like there wouldn't be, and truly, my heart broke for them. I seriously wanted something good to happen to these people -- they deserved it! However, ultimately, Ms. Rasmussen didn't disappoint me. The ending of this novel was beautiful and I absolutely loved it. I guess some would say that maybe it was a little too neat and tidy, but honestly, I needed that. I felt so close to some of these characters and this novel needed some sense of hope and redemption!

I think EVERGREEN would make a terrific book club selection. The story and writing are beautiful and the characters are so interesting. Fortunately, there is a reading guide with twenty(!) questions. Some of the themes you might want to explore include family, love, loss, guilt, secrets, regret, abuse, fear, second chances, redemption, friendship, and hope. In addition, there are many symbols in this story that would be interesting to discuss like Lulu's coat and Tuna the bird.

EVERGREEN is just a wonderfully written story that's guaranteed to touch your heart. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: The Competition

Summary: In Marcia Clark's most electrifying thriller yet, Los Angeles District Attorney Rachel Knight investigates a horrifying high school massacre.

A Columbine-style shooting at a high school in the San Fernando Valley has left a community shaken to its core. Two students are identified as the killers. Both are dead, believed to have committed a mutual suicide.

In the aftermath of the shooting, LA Special Trials prosecutor Rachel Knight teams up with her best girlfriend, LAPD detective Bailey Keller. As Rachel and Bailey interview students at the high school, they realize that the facts don't add up. Could it be that the students suspected of being the shooters are actually victims? And if so, does that mean that the real killers are still on the loose?

A dramatic leap forward in Marcia Clark's highly acclaimed Rachel Knight series, The Competition is an unforgettable story that will stay with readers long after the last page has been turned. -- Mulholland Books

THE COMPETITION is the third book in the Rachel Knight series by Marcia Clark, and I think it's safe to say it's the most disturbing one yet... or at least it was for me. THE COMPETITION deals with a very serious issue -- a mass shooting, and much of the story seemed to be ripped from recent years'  headlines.

THE COMPETITION begins with a bang (literally) when a high school shooting occurs which leaves  dozens dead and injured. It appears that the two students responsible for the massacre are dead after apparent suicides. However, when prosecutor Rachel Knight and her best friend LAPD detective Bailey Keller start delving into the shooting, they discover that nothing much is making sense.

While Rachel and Bailey begin a full-scale investigation into the shooting, they quickly learn that those responsible for the shooting might still be out there with the intent to take even more lives. Can Rachel get to the bottom of these shootings and find the individual who is determined to prove that he is smarter than not only the police but many of the prior mass murderers who came before him?

It's hard for me to say that I enjoyed THE COMPETITION because it was an uncomfortable read for me; however, I did appreciate it quite a bit. I actually found this story to be riveting -- maybe because so much of it was based on real-life events, and I couldn't put down this novel. I felt as if the book was set at the perfect pace and even the gathering of data and clues was interesting.

One thing I love about the Rachel Knight book is the character of Rachel. She's tough and smart and persistent, and I just love how much she cares about her cases. I think I always say this in my reviews of this series, but Rachel and her friends demonstrate "girl power" in the very best way! However, I also enjoyed the variety of twists and turns in the story. It seemed like every time Rachel was onto something or someone, she'd hit a dead end.

I actually did figure out the culprit about halfway through the novel, but that didn't affect my appreciation of the way he was eventually discovered. Ms. Clark still managed to put in a surprise or two after the "reveal" that definitely threw me (and Rachel) for a loop and the action and pacing of the novel actually picked up even more after the reader learns who is responsible for the crimes.

Another aspect of THE COMPETITION that I really appreciated was how it explored the minds of the mass murderers. I think each and everyone of us has asked what type of person could go into a school and just randomly kill innocent children. I'm not sure that this book gave me any real answers, but it did delve somewhat into the psyche of these people. Ms. Clark used two psychologist characters to work with Rachel, and they helped analyze various characters' actions and motivations.  Though somewhat disturbing to look at these characters and past real-life murders, I did find it very interesting.

Unfortunately, THE COMPETITION deals with an all too timely issue of mass shootings and it's not always easy to read... especially for this mom! However, the book is suspenseful, intriguing, and a fast-paced thriller. Highly recommended for fans of the Rachel Knight series and those of you who enjoy an action-packed story with many twists and turns.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read. Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Kid Konnection: You Are (Not) Small

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a cute picture book about perspective.

Summary: Two fuzzy creatures can't agree on who is small and who is big, until a couple of surprise guests show up, settling it once and for all!

The simple text of Anna Kang and bold illustrations of New Yorker cartoonist Christopher Weyant tell an original and very funny story about size—it all depends on who's standing next to you. -- Two Lions

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant is a sweet picture book with an important message! This book pits two furry, yet different-sized animals against each other. The big creature tells the little one that he is small. The small creature comes back by telling him that he's not small -- it's just that "you" are big.  The two argue with each other and even bring backup reinforcement to make their point. Finally, a few creatures come along and settle the disagreement for these two!

I thought YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL is a cute book with an important message about perspective. Naturally, kids (and even some adults) think they are normal and base all of their opinions on their own perspective of things. This picture book points out that their opinions aren't always absolute and that it's important to respect other people's (or creature's) opinions.

This book is geared towards a relatively young audience -- maybe 2-5? There are a few words per page so it will keep the attention of little ones who are reluctant to sit through a long picture book. However, the message is an important one for kids who are a little older and have more interactions with playmates and schoolmates.

One thing that made YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL work for me was the adorable illustrations. I loved the creatures in this book and I couldn't help but smile and their persistence. Of course, I loved the expressions on their faces and even the finger pointing!

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL is a fun book that also has a great message. Highly recommended to preschoolers and very early elementary age kids!

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!