Monday, March 25, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! I had a relatively slow week... mainly because I didn't get any children's books!

ANYTHING BUT A DUKE by Christy Carlyle came from Avon Books

THE PATIENT ONE: THE WALNUT CREEK SERIES by Shelley Shepard Gray came from Gallery Books

THOSE PEOPLE by Louise Candlish came from Berkley

#IMOMSOHARD by Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley came from HarperOne

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Kid Konnection: I Used to be Famous

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 picture book with a main character that I just love!

Summary: Kiely’s been famous her entire life, but when a baby sister appears on the scene, she feels like a has-been. Now Kiely has to figure out how to gain back the attention of her adoring fans (her family), even if it means sharing the spotlight. -- Albert Whitman

Last year, right around this time, I reviewed the adorable picture book I AM FAMOUS by Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie with pictures by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff. I thought Kiely was a great character, and I loved the authors' take on Kiely being "famous" -- I mean she had paparazzi taking her picture all of the time, right?

I'm excited to say that Kiely is back in I USED TO BE FAMOUS, and my how her life has changed. She now has a baby sister, and suddenly she's a has-been! Can Kiely get the much-deserved attention she craves or is she all washed up?

Once again, I love Kiely and her special take on her life. She reminisces about being famous and how much her standing has changed since she became a big sister. The funny part of Kiely's story is that she can't understand how the baby is getting so much attention when she has no fashion sense, she smells and her singing is more like crying.

It's sweet to see that Kiely eventually comes around to appreciate her little sister. She even takes her under her wing and acts as her mentor... because Kiely knows a thing or two about being famous! I absolutely love how I USED TO BE FAMOUS combines the humor of Kiely's celebrity ego with the responsibility that comes with being an older sister.

I think I USED TO BE FAMOUS is a wonderful book for little girls who are new (or soon to be new) big sisters! Highly recommended!

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!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

Summary: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps. -- Putnam

I honestly don't know if I can thing of a book with more buzz surrounding it then WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens. I've been dying to read it for months, especially after Reese Witherspoon picked it as a Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick. It's only because I'm reading at a snail's pace lately that it's taken me so long to finally pick up this book... but I will say it was worth the wait!

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably have heard at least a little bit about WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING. This novel tells the story of Kya Clark, aka the "Marsh Girl." Kya's mother and siblings all left when she was a young girl, and soon thereafter her father disappeared too. Basically, Kya lived in the marshes along the North Carolina Coast and had to fend for herself, and she desperately craved human contact.

Kya was fortunate enough to have friends in the local store owner and his wife, but for the most part she was all alone... until she meets a teenage boy who teaches her to read. He not only opens her world to books, but he also opens her heart to love. That is, until he goes away to college and doesn't come back to visit. It's Kya's broken heart that leads her to Chase, a wealthy and popular town boy; and she begins a relationship with him that will forever affect her life.

I really want to tell you more about Kya's story, but I think it's best for me to leave it there and for you to pick up the book and find out for yourself. Suffice it to say that as sad as Kya's childhood story is, her adult one isn't any better. In fact, Kya finds herself accused of murder; and her reputation as the "Marsh Girl" and her unconventional life makes her an enigma to the townspeople.

I truly treasured this novel. It's a well written coming-of-age story (and you know how I love coming-of-age tales!) about an amazing young woman. It's both touching and hopeful, and I so appreciated Kya's story. I found myself constantly rooting for Kya -- at first for survival, and then for the chance for love and happiness, and then again for survival.

I was seriously impressed with Ms. Owens' and her storytelling abilities. It goes without saying that Kya's story is a special one, but I absolutely loved how the author chose to tell it. There are flashbacks between 1969 when the body was found and Kya's childhood backstory; and I thought Ms. Owens did a great job with transitioning between the two time periods. In addition, I really liked her character development and how she brought the setting to life. However, it was how she incorporated the nature aspects of the setting (especially the marsh and its wildlife) into Kya's personal story that brought the book to the next level for me. It really make me think about human nature, our instincts, and our behavior.

Another fantastic aspect of the novel was the mystery of how Chase died -- was it an accident or was it murder? I don't think I'm ruining anything for you to say that this novel is a bit of a murder mystery and that it does have a few surprising twists and turns. I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that I loved how the novel ended!

Many book clubs are reading WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING and it's no wonder! This novel is absolutely perfect for discussing, and there's a great reading guide with thirteen interesting questions. Some of the themes you might want to explore are family, loneliness, love, nature, what it means to be a woman, and more! There is also a conversation with the author and some recipes for meaningful food the story. You could throw such a great book club meeting with this kit!

I loved WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING and highly recommend it!

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

Monday, March 18, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! I am so excited about all of the books I got this week... and I know it's almost summer because I just got an ARC for Mary Kay Andrews' new book!
SUNSET BEACH by Mary Kay Andrews came from Tandem Literary

XL by Scott Brown came from Knopf Books for Young Readers

THE GOOD SISTER by Gilliam McAllister came from Putnam

I USED TO BE FAMOUS by Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie with pictures by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff came from Albert Whitman & Company

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Kid Konnection: Turkey's Eggcellent Easter

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 picture book that's ideal for preparing kids for upcoming Easter egg hunts!

Summary: Easter is almost here—and Turkey knows just how to celebrate. He’s going to win the eggstra-special Easter egg hunt! The only problem is that animals aren’t allowed to enter. So he and his barnyard friends come up with a top-secret plan. With his trademark disguises and a whole lot of help, Turkey goes undercover. Will his basket of tricks help him win a prize? -- Two Lions Publishing

TURKEY'S EGGCELLENT EASTER by Wendi Silvano and illustrated by Lee Harper is the fourth book in the Turkey Trouble series, and it's sure to be a hit for old and new fans. This picture book is so silly and hilarious that parents and kids alike will get a kick out of it!

When Turkey catches wind of an eggstra-special Easter egg hunt with eggstra-special prizes, he just knows he has to be part of it. The only problem is that animals aren't allowed to participate. That little fact doesn't stop Turkey though. With the help of his friends and a variety of clever costumes, Turkey keeps trying and trying to capture just one special egg.

I adored TURKEY'S EGGCELLENT EASTER! It's an extremely fun book that is meant to be read over and over again. I liked the premise of this picture book, but I was pleasantly surprised by how the author made this story so darn funny. Turkey is a riot with his variety of undercover costumes and just how close he comes to getting an eggstra-special egg. I couldn't stop laughing at his attempt to look like a bunny!

In addition, Mr. Harper's illustrations truly are the perfect complement to this tale. I love how he brings the animals to life and uses accessories (like sunglasses) to really bring out their personalities. The expressions on the characters faces (including the animals) are terribly cute too.

TURKEY'S EGGCELLENT EASTER is definitely a twist on traditional Easter books, but I guarantee you won't be disappointed by this silly story! Highly recommended.

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!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Guest Review: The Killer Collective

Summary: A fast-paced, page-turning novel of betrayal, vengeance, and depraved secrets in high places from the New York Times bestselling author of the John Rain and Livia Lone series.

When a joint FBI–Seattle Police investigation of an international child pornography ring gets too close to certain powerful people, sex-crimes detective Livia Lone becomes the target of a hit that barely goes awry—a hit that had been offered to John Rain, a retired specialist in “natural causes.”

Suspecting the FBI itself was behind the attack, Livia reaches out to former Marine sniper Dox. Together, they assemble an ad hoc group to identify and neutralize the threat. There’s Rain. Rain’s estranged lover, Mossad agent and honeytrap specialist Delilah. And black ops soldiers Ben Treven and Daniel Larison, along with their former commander, SpecOps legend Colonel Scot “Hort” Horton.

Moving from Japan to Seattle to DC to Paris, the group fights a series of interlocking conspiracies, each edging closer and closer to the highest levels of the US government.

With uncertain loyalties, conflicting agendas, and smoldering romantic entanglements, these operators will have a hard time forming a team. But in a match as uneven as this one, a collective of killers might be even better. -- Thomas & Mercer

Thankfully, Booking Pap Pap has had more time lately to write reviews than I do! His latest is by an author he's come to really enjoy -- Barry Eisler. Here are his thoughts about Mr. Eisler's latest THE KILLER COLLECTIVE:

THE KILLER COLLECTIVE by Barry Eisler takes on the uncomfortable subject of sexual abuse of children. The novel opens with Seattle cop Livia Lone, a survivor of child sexual abuse herself, serving as a member of a FBI-Seattle Police joint task force investigating international child pornography. Livia discovers a possible pornography link to several individuals in the Secret Service.

Livia is soon the target of an assassination attempt. After a plane goes down with two other members of the task force on board, Livia is fearful that the government may be behind the attacks and reaches out to old friend Dox, an ex-marine sniper who now resides in Bali. Being a little smitten with Livia, he quickly comes to her aid and together they assemble an eclectic group of individuals to identify and eliminate any threat to Livia. The group included John Rain, a retired assassin, his estranged lover and Mossad agent Delilah, black ops soldiers Ben Treven and Daniel Larson and Special Ops leader Scott Horton. This collection of killers is challenged to work as a team because of questionable loyalties and romantic involvements. But they must find a way if they are to take on government agencies, powerful politicians and private military contractors as they move from Seattle to Washington to Paris. D.C.

Author Barry Eisler has weaved together several differing story lines to bring THE KILLER COLLECTIVE to a thrilling conclusion. Even though his characters, particularly John Rain and Livia Lone, have been developed in other novels, the depth of the characters are a strength of the novel. The story line has its share of violence, sex and rough language but not uncomfortably so. THE KILLER COLLECTIVE is a fast paced international thriller with lots of intrigue that takes on a current but uncomfortable subject.

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

Monday, March 11, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! I received some great kids' books this week that you're sure to see soon on my weekend Kid Konnection feature!
BIG FOOT AND LITTLE FOOT: THE SQUATCHICORNS by Ellen Potter and art by Felicita Sala came from Amulet Books

BIG NATE PAYBACK TIME! by Lincoln Peirce came from Andrews McMeel Publishing

LUCY SPEAK OUT!: A PEANUTS COLLECTION by Schulz came from Andrews McMeel Publishing

POISON IN THE COLONY: JAMES TOWN 1622 by Elisa Carbone came from Viking Children's Books

TURKEY'S EGGCELLENT EASTER by Wendi Silvano and illustrated by Lee Harper came from Two Lions

What was in your mailbox?