Thursday, April 18, 2019

Review: The Better Sister

Summary: Though Chloe was the younger of the two Taylor sisters, she always seemed to be the one in charge. She was the honor roll student with big dreams and an even bigger work ethic. Nicky—always restless and more than a little reckless—was the opposite of her ambitious little sister. She floated from job to job and man to man, and stayed close to home in Cleveland.

For a while, it seemed that both sisters had found happiness. Chloe earned a scholarship to an Ivy League school and moved to New York City, where she landed a coveted publishing job. Nicky married promising young attorney Adam Macintosh and gave birth to a baby boy they named Ethan. The Taylor sisters became virtual strangers.

Now, more than fifteen years later, their lives are drastically different—and Chloe is married to Adam. When he’s murdered by an intruder at the couple’s East Hampton beach house, Chloe reluctantly allows her teenage stepson’s biological mother—her estranged sister, Nicky—back into her life. But when the police begin to treat Ethan as a suspect in his father’s death, the two sisters are forced to unite . . . and to confront the truth behind family secrets they have tried to bury in the past. -- Harper

I have to say that Alafair Burke is one heck of a writer, and if you haven't read any of her novels, then you are definitely missing out! Her latest novel, THE BETTER SISTER, just might be my favorite one yet. This book is both a domestic novel and a mystery... and it happens to succeed so very well on both levels.

THE BETTER SISTER tells the story of Chloe Taylor, a successful editor, whose husband Adam is found murdered in their East Hampton Beach house. There are a few strange things about this story like Chloe is married to her older sister's ex-husband, bringing up her son Ethan, and has virtually no contact with sister. And there's also the weirdness surrounding the murder. It initially seems like a stranger is responsible; however, Chloe's step-son quickly becomes the main suspect... which brings Chloe's long-lost (and very troubled) sister Nicky to town. Needless to say, these two women are forced together under difficult circumstances -- trying to free the son they both love.

I absolutely loved everything about THE BETTER SISTER! Ms. Burke's writing is stellar (as usual!), and her portrayal of the sisters is so good. The family dynamics between the Chloe, her husband and her son is strong enough to make a great domestic novel, but the murder mystery brings it to the next level. I never really thought Ethan was guilty and I was pretty sure I knew where the story was going, but nope - I ended up being surprised! I definitely loved the twist at the end, and it was executed so well. (I know I keep saying that, but I didn't even feel manipulated... and that happens all too much with surprise endings!)

THE BETTER SISTER is an excellent novel of suspense with fully developed characters and an intriguing mystery. Run (don't walk) and get this novel -- you won't be disappointed!

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

Monday, April 15, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! I had another amazing book week! I am really excited about so many of the books, especially the almanac and Shari LaPena's newest!
A PRINCE ON PAPER by Alyssa Cole came from Avon Books

SOMEONE WE KNOW by Shari Lapena came from Pamera Dorman Books/Viking

THE FARM by Joanne Ramos came from Random House

THE UNLIKELY ADVENTURES OF THE SHERGILL SISTERS by Balli Kaur Jaswal came from William Morrow

NO RIGHT WAY: A VALENTIN VERMEULEN THRILLER by Michael Niemann came from Wiley Saichek Publicity

UNICORN BOWLING by Dana Simpson came from Andrews McMeel

THE GHOST NETWORK: ACTIVATE by I. I. Davidson came from Andrews McMeel

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS ALMANAC 2020 came from Media Masters Publicity

WE ARE (NOT) FRIENDS by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant came from Two Lions and Blue Slip Media

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Kid Konnection: Hug Me Finger Puppet Books


Every weekend, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekly feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you two adorable picture books that would be perfect for Easter baskets!

Summary: Share your love with this huggable finger puppet book! The sweetly reassuring stories in this brand-new series celebrate all the things a parent's arms can do for their child, from playing games to sharing a treat and—best of all—showing their love with a hug. Adorable illustrations and two plush finger puppet arms make for a cozy, interactive reading experience for babies and their loved ones. -- Chronicle


Summary: Share your love with this huggable finger puppet book! The sweetly reassuring stories in this brand-new series celebrate all the things a parent's arms can do for their child, from playing games to sharing a treat and—best of all—showing their love with a hug. Adorable illustrations and two plush finger puppet arms make for a cozy, interactive reading experience for babies and their loved ones. -- Chronicle Books

HUG ME LITTLE BUNNY and HUG ME LITTLE BEAR are two interactive board books that are ideal for little ones. These finger puppet books are too cute with the animals' soft arms and hands, and kids are sure to love the way they move during storytime!

I thought the text in these books is as sweet as the characters themselves. Each book describes the things that a parent's arms can do for their child. For instance, a parent's arms can catch a child when they fall, tickle them on the belly, pick flowers, and of course provide hugs! In addition to having a very special message, these books are small enough that young ones can hold them comfortably but sturdy enough that they would be hard to damage.

I think this new Hug Me series is so darn adorable! Highly recommended for shower gifts, new baby presents, and more!

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

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!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! I had an amazing book week! And I finally got some children's books after missing out the past few weeks. However, the absolute highlight was the surprise from Get Red PR! The tote bag is positively adorable and the books that were in it look amazing -- so many great books from some of my favorite authors!
IS THAT YOUR DAD? illustrated by Charles Ballesteros came from Abrams Appleseed



KINDNESS RULES! by Eunice Moyle and Sabrina Moyle came from Abrams Appleseed



SHOW ME HISTORY! AMELIA EARHART PIONEER OF THE SKY! by James Buckley Jr. and Kelly Tindall came from Media Masters Publicity and Portable Press


TROPHY LIFE by Lea Geller came from Get Red PR and Lake Union Publishing

THE UNBREAKABLES by Lisa Barr came from Get Red PR and Harper

LAYOVER by David Bell came from Get Red PR and Berkley 

GIRLS LIKE US by Cristina Alger came from Get Red PR and Putnam

WAISTED by Randy Susan Meyers came from Get Red PR and Atria

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Kids Konnection: Max Explains Everything - Soccer Expert


Every weekend, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekly feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a cute picture book about a kid who "knows" a lot about soccer.

Summary: This hilarious, tongue-in-cheek guide from kid-expert Max reveals everything you need to know about the game of soccer.

Max knows a lot about soccer. After all, he’s been playing it for almost three weeks! So he’s pretty much an expert. Here Max shares his one-of-a-kind helpful tips including how to warm up (stretch, twirl, somersault), who’s who on the field (the ref is in yellow and wears a whistle–you should not bring your own whistle), and what to do with your hands since you can’t touch the ball (wave at fans, hide them in your shirt, play itsy-bitsy spider). But could Max possibly be forgetting something very important? Full of humor, energy, and warmth, Max Explains Everything: Soccer Expert is the perfect read aloud for novice players as well as for fellow “kid experts” on the game. -- Putnam

MAX EXPLAINS EVERYTHING: SOCCER EXPERT by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by Deborah Hocking is a picture book that will bring a smile to kids' and parents' faces. Max is definitely a "soccer expert" or at least he poses as one in this adorable picture book. His advice to other kids about playing soccer includes a few helpful tips (like warming up, not using your hands, etc.), but for the most part, it's pretty tongue-in-cheek... because Max is a little kid with a not-so-fully developed attention span. He likes to see images in the clouds, play with dandelions, and eat snacks all while playing soccer!

It's been a long time since my kiddos played soccer, but I could definitely relate to this book, especially when it came to my daughter. When she was five, she played soccer for half a year... and let's just say, she was more than a little like Max. When she asked us after one game why everyone couldn't just take turns kicking the ball, we decided that she was much more inclined towards her dance interests!

I thought MAX EXPLAINS EVERYTHING: SOCCER EXPERT was so much fun. The story is cute and the illustrations are perfect for the book's tone. I think kids and parent alike will appreciate Max and his expertise!

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

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!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Review: Run Away

Summary: A perfect family is shattered in RUN AWAY, the new thriller from the master of domestic suspense, Harlan Coben.

You’ve lost your daughter. 

She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found.Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble. 

You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home. 

She runs. 

And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line. And in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you must face them head on. -- Hachette

It's probably not a surprise for those of you who are already fans of Harlan Coben, but I love his books! No matter what I seem to pick up, I can't put it down... and that includes his latest novel RUN AWAY. This book is pretty darn entertaining with lots of twists!

RUN AWAY has a fantastic premise. Simon has been secretly trying to find his drug addicted daughter. She is definitely not in a good place between the drugs and her abusive boyfriend; and when Simon sees her performing in Central Park, he knows that something is seriously wrong with the daughter because she seems like a different (and scared) person. When Simon approaches her to offer help, she takes off and Simon ends up following her. This split second decision takes him into a terrifying world of drugs and crime, and ultimately puts his family and himself at risk!

I loved RUN AWAY. As I mentioned earlier, I flew through this book and that's really saying something for me because my reading rate has taken a hit! I loved the characters and the storyline, and I was quickly caught up in Simon's desperate desire to save his daughter. What parent couldn't relate a bit to the drastic means Simon was willing to go to get his daughter back?

RUN AWAY has action-packed to say the least, and I'm having a hard time "talking about" this book without giving away too much of the suspense. What I can say is that Simon, a well-to-do Wall Street broker, never imagined himself engaging with drug dealers and other nefarious criminals; however, he rose to the occasion and ended up being a great heroic lead for a thriller. I not only appreciated how he "solved" the mysteries surrounding his daughter, but I also loved that Mr. Coben made him a genuine character -- a dad who just wanted to save his daughter and the rest of his family.

What I enjoyed this most about this novel, though, was the ending. Talk about a surprising finish! I wasn't exactly sure where the novel would go between Simon, his daughter, the drug lords, the private investigator, and the cult members. And even though I did pick up a few clues about a certain plot point, I still ended being surprised with other things in this novel... things I didn't even know to be looking for! It was entertaining to say the least!

I definitely recommend RUN AWAY to Harlan Coben fans as well as other readers who enjoy thrillers!

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

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! I had another average week of book mail; however, I am super excited about Alafair Burke's new book!
THE ROGUE OF FIFTH AVENUE by Joanna Shupe came from Avon Books

THE MUTTS SUMMER DIARIES by Patrick McDonnell came from Andrews McMeel

UNDER THE TABLE by Stephanie Evanovich came from William Morrow

THE BETTER SISTER by Alafair Burke came from Harper

What was in your mailbox?