Monday, December 31, 2018

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! I managed to get another nice week of books, but I'm not really doing much reading right now. I am in Orlando enjoying Christmas at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Citrus Bowl. Hope you have a great time celebrating New Year's Eve!


LADY DERRING TAKES A LOVER by Julie Anne Long came from Avon Books

I (HEART) ART by The Metropolitan Museum of Art came from Abrams Books

TRUST EXERCISE by Susan Choi came from Henry Holt

DUCK AND HIPPO: THE SECRET VALENTINE by Jonathan London and illustrated by Andrew Joyner came from Two Lions

WAITING FOR PUMPSIE by Barry Wittenstein and illustrated by London Ladd came from Charlesbridge

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Kid Konnection: What Can a Citizen Do?

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 book that's geared towards making a difference.

Summary: A citizen can pick up litter
A citizen can pull a weed
A citizen can help that critter
A citizen can plant a seed

A citizen can aid a neighbor
A citizen can join a cause
A citizen can write a letter
A citizen can help change laws . . .

Empowering and timeless, What Can a Citizen Do? is the latest collaboration from the acclaimed duo behind the bestselling Her Right Foot: Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris. This is a book for today's youth about what it means to be a citizen.

Across the course of several seemingly unrelated but ultimately connected actions by different children, we watch how kids turn a lonely island into a community—and watch a journey from what the world should be to what the world could be.

This is a book about what citizenship—good citizenship—means to you, and to us all. -- Chronicle

WHAT CAN A CITIZEN DO? by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris is a wonderful picture book that introduces the concept of being a responsible citizen. The text is simple, with only a few words per page; however, it is a powerful testament to how the little things you do can make a big difference in the world.

Of course, the message is a great one especially in today's society. WHAT CAN A CITIZEN DO? allows parents and children to talk about not only what needs to be changed, but how every person has the right to speak up about these things...and choose to try to change them. The book also encourages readers that just helping even one person can make a huge difference!

I loved the message in WHAT CAN A CITIZEN DO?, and I thought the illustrations were a perfect complement to it. The children in this picture book come from many different backgrounds, and I appreciated how diverse this book was. It's an absolutely must-have for school (and home!) libraries!

WHAT CAN A CITIZEN DO? is an interesting book with an important message. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher 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!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! I had a great week and didn't even realize it until I took this photo! I have already hosted Christmas for Matt's family, visited my mom's family in Western PA, and am now ready to celebrate the holidays with my family tonight and tomorrow. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.

DARK FIRE by Christine Feehan came from Avon Books

ON THE SAME PAGE by N.D. Galland came from William Morrow

PARKLAND SPEAKS by Marjory Stoneman Douglas Students and Sarah Lerner came from Crown Books

THE FRIENDSHIP WAR by Andrew Clements came from Random House

DUCK & GOOSE, A GIFT FOR GOOSE by Tad Hills came from Schwartz & Wade

FREEFALL by Jessica Barry came from Harper Books

BIKES FOR SALE by Carter Higgins and illustrated by Zachariah OHora came from Chronicle Books

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Kid Konnection: Construction Site on Christmas Night

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 an addition to a popular picture book series that's perfect for the upcoming Christmas holiday!

Summary: VROOM and ZOOM into the holidays with this new Christmas classic from the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Mighty, Mighty, Construction Site!

The trucks are gearing up for Christmas by building a special gift! But, there's a surprise waiting for each of them, too! Presents await for Excavator, Bulldozer, Crane, Dump Truck, and Cement Mixer as each finishes their part of this big, important job and rolls off to a sweet and sleepy goodnight.

Playful rhyming text from the bestselling author of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and vibrant illustrations from the acclaimed artist AG Ford make this a perfect gift for construction fans everywhere. -- Chronicle Books

CONSTRUCTION SITE ON CHRISTMAS NIGHT by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Ag Ford is perfect for fans of GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT, CONSTRUCTION SITE and MIGHTY, MIGHTY, CONSTRUCTION SITE... and I know there are many fans out there. This adorable picture book shows readers that the trucks have to pull out all the stops to have a "special house" ready for Christmas!

CONSTRUCTION SITE ON CHRISTMAS NIGHT stars many different types of trucks that kids will recognize including a bulldozer, crane, cement mixer, and more! Each truck contributes to this last minute project while collecting its own gifts along the way. The reader is in for a treat when he or she figures out what they are working together to build.

I thought this book was a great way to celebrate the holiday season. I love how the vehicles' presents were not only something they needed, but also something that they very much appreciated. The illustrations were too cute, and I especially liked how the trucks' presents were decorated for the holidays.

CONSTRUCTION SITE ON CHRISTMAS NIGHT is a wonderful addition to an already great series of picture books. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher 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, December 19, 2018

Review: Tony's Wife

Summary: Chi Chi Donatelli and Saverio Armandonada meet one summer on the Jersey shore before World War II. Chi Chi is a talented and ambitious singer-songwriter working in a local blouse factory looking for her big break, while Saverio, a singer already on the rise, is fronting a touring band and has the good looks and smooth vocals that make success seem assured. It isn’t long before Saverio becomes Tony Arma and he and Chi Chi form a duo; together they navigate the glamorous worlds of nightclubs, radio, and television. Soon they’re married and all goes well until it becomes clear that they must make a choice: Which of them will put ambition aside to build a family and which will pursue a career? What compromises will they make to achieve their dreams? And on the road to fame and fortune, how will they cope with the impact these compromises have on their marriage, family, and themselves?

From the Jersey shore to Hollywood, New York City to Las Vegas, the hills of northern Italy and the exuberant hayride of the big band circuit in between: Tony’s Wife tells the story of the twentieth century in song, as Tony & Chi Chi make studio recordings and promote them with appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. As they juggle the demands of their public lives, secrets are revealed, promises are broken, and loyalty is tested as the Armas attempt to keep the music playing and their family together.

Tony’s Wife is a richly layered novel that explores how a traditional Italian-American family grapples with the seismic shifts they face in a rapidly changing world. Replete with a pageant of vivid, complex characters, this deeply human saga of love and sacrifice showcases Adriana Trigiani’s gifts as a captivating storyteller and reveals her understanding that there are many different kinds of families: that over time love can evolve in ways that nobody can predict, especially when the hearts involved are open to forgiveness, the sweet reprise of redemption. -- Harper

If you are a frequent visitor to my blog, then you know that I absolutely adore Adriana Trigiani -- and by adore, I mean I love her as both an author and a person! It's hard to believe that she is able to write such great novels at the pace she does, but she's done it again with her latest book, TONY'S WIFE. This epic story stars Chi Chi Donatelli and Saverio Armandonada, two Italian-American entertainers who fall in love; and it explores their complicated relationship through the decades. Did I mention that it's set against the backdrop of the big band era, World War II,  and the women's movement? I told you it was... EPIC!

Chi Chi and Saverio meet on the Jersey shore in the 1930s. Saverio is an up-and-coming performer in a touring band, while Chi Chi has aspirations of being a singer-songwriter while spending her days working in a shirt factory. The two have instant chemistry as Chi Chi gives Saverio a manicure, and it's clear that the two will have some sort of future together.

It's no spoiler that Chi Chi and Saverio find themselves together again and eventually fall in love. But before that, they both establish their successful entertainment careers and lead interesting lives. Once they marry, they discover the challenges of their careers; and they are forced to face some difficult decisions. Through it all, Chi Chi discovers that her loyalty and sacrifice are necessary to keep her family together.

I loved TONY'S WIFE! I loved the characters, the setting, the love story, and so much more. Adriana continually amazes me with her ability to create deeply real and memorable characters. What especially impressed me about this novel was how it explored the culture of Italian-American families (and really just families in general), while also delving into how much change occurred in society over the course of these characters' lives. TONY'S WIFE truly is a beautiful tribute to families and the especially the importance of women.

Chi Chi is one of my favorite characters in any Adriana Trigiani novel. It was such a treat to see how she evolved throughout the novel,and I truly admired so much about her. I loved her earnestness when she was young and starting her career, but even more, I loved the women she became. Her strength and passion for family is something I aspire to; and it was touching to see how she struggled with her, often times, conflicting desires.

I also thought Saverio/Tony was a special character. He was deeply flawed but I still found myself liking him... even when he was a real dog. I think his relationship with Chi Chi was portrayed so perfectly in all its complexities, and I truly appreciated how his early interactions with his father had long-lasting repercussions.

Adriana created such an interesting backdrop to this story. She did a terrific job of bringing not only the various time periods to life, but also the different settings. This novel spanned from the Jersey shore, to Italy, to Hollywood, to Los Angeles, to Vegas; and each location was described in a larger-than-life way. I've said this before, and I'm sure I'll say it again, but Adriana sure did her research for this novel!

I think TONY'S WIFE would make an excellent book club selection. There is a great reading guide with twenty questions... so that means that there is a ton to discuss, right? Most of the book's themes are universal and women will definitely relate. Some topics of discussion include love, loss, guilt, grief, parent/child relationships, sacrifice, motherhood, and choices.

I am so excited about TONY'S WIFE and I highly recommend it. The story is an entertaining one and sure to be a hit among readers of all ages and backgrounds.

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

Monday, December 17, 2018

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! I am excited about quite a few of the books I received this week.

TEN KISSES TO SCANDAL by Vivienne Loret came from Avon Books

HELLO, LOVE! by Taro Miura came from Chronicle Books

FAIRY IN WAITING by Sophie Kinsella and Marta Kissi came from Delacorte Press

MURDER ONCE REMOVED by S.C. Perkins came from Minotaur Books

GIRL MOST LIKELY by Max Allan  Collins came from Thomas & Mercer Books

HALF OF WHAT YOU HEAR by Kristyn Kusek Lewis came from Harper Books

THE NIGHT BEFORE by Wendy Walker came from St. Martin's Press

BEAVERS: THE SUPERPOWER FIELD GUIDE by Rachel Poliquin and Nicholas John Frith came from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

What was in your mailbox?

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Kid Konnection: The Poetry of Us

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 fantastic kids' book which contains more than 200 poems!

Summary: It's all about us! Join former U.S. Children's Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis on a lyrical journey through the United States to experience the wonders of America's people and places through 200+ inspiring poems and stunning photographs.

Celebrate the gift of language and the vibrant culture of the United States with this collection of classic and never-before-published poetry. Poems are arranged by region, from coast to coast, and among them you'll find works by Langston Hughes, Dorothy Parker, Robert Frost, Naomi Shihab Nye, Walt Whitman, and more. From the familiar to the surprising, subjects include people, places, landmarks, monuments, nature, and celebrations. Designed for sharing, but geared to younger readers, this beautifully illustrated treasury is a must-have for the whole family. -- National Geographic

THE POETRY OF US: MORE THAN 200 POEMS THAT CELEBRATE THE PEOPLE, PLACES, AND PASSIONS OF THE UNITED STATES is a beautiful book that pays tribute to our amazing country through poetry and gorgeous photographs. It's really geared towards children, but I have little doubt that adults would appreciate this book as well.

THE POETRY OF US is a huge book over 200 poems by famous poets like Maya Angelou, Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, Dorothy Parker, and more! It's even edited by former U.S. Children's Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis. It is such a great way to introduce a variety of poetry to children of all ages.

THE POETRY OF US takes readers on a trip around the good old United States of America. The chapters are divided into regions -- New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, Great Plains, Rocky Mountain West, Pacific Coast, and Territories. Each region has over 25 poems that celebrate the culture and uniqueness of our country. There are poems that represent the beauty of the areas as well as poems that reflect on our country's history. It's a wonderful representation of the United States!

THE POETRY OF US is one of those books that you can read straight through or just sit down and randomly open a page and read a poem. Either way, it's meant to be read over and over again. There are also a variety of poetry types so children (and adults) will have the opportunity to discover what forms they most appreciate.

As special as these poems are, the photographs in this book are stunning. Keep in mind this is a book from National Geographic so you know you're in for a visual treat. The photos are a reminder of just how amazing and diverse the United States is. There are pictures of different landmarks, seasons, animals, people, geography, and much much more!

THE POETRY OF US is a beautiful book from its poetry to its photographs to its celebration of the U.S. Highly recommended for home and school libraries.

Thanks to Media Masters 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!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! My mailbox has been full of packages this past week, but most of them were gifts arriving. I did manage to snag five books, though.
COUNTING ON A COUNTESS by Eva Leigh came from Avon books

FROM DUKE TILL DAWN by Eva Leigh came from Avon books

DARE TO LOVE A DUKE by Eva Leigh came from Avon books

VIRGINIA WOOLF IN MANHATTAN by Maggie Gee came from Meryl Moss Media

TINY T. REX AND THE IMPOSSIBLE HUG by Jonathan Stutzman came from Chronicle Books

What was in your mailbox?

Monday, December 3, 2018

Mailbox Monday

This is definitely not your traditional Mailbox Monday post! In fact, I didn't receive any books in the mail this week -- only packages for gift giving. However, I did download a few books that I'm pretty excited about.

LITTLE BIG LOVE by Katy Regan - e-copy provided by Berkley

THE SURROGATE by Louise Regan - e-copy provided by Grand Central Publishing

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Kid Konnection: Tough Cookie

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 picture book that's sure to get you in the mood for Christmas!

Summary: When a cookie discovers he does NOT taste delicious, he has to find a new identity in this clever picture book twist on a holiday classic.

Once upon a time, while Fox was visiting the land of Holiday Treats, a little cookie—still warm from the bakery oven—burst out the front door looking sweet and ready to be devoured. But, as it turns out, Cookie is not as fast as he thinks and when Fox finally catches him, they’re both in for a big surprise: Sugar Cookie does not taste delicious—and he’s certainly not fit to be eaten. What’s an unsavory cookie to do? Is there another option for this not-so-sweet treat?

This inventive story celebrates the joy of being accepted for who we are. -- Henry Holt

TOUGH COOKIE: A CHRISTMAS STORY by Edward Hemingway is a pretty terrific holiday picture book -- even the end paper is adorable with its cute characters. This book is a creative twist on the traditional holiday story of the gingerbread man, and it has a wonderful message for kids!

Fox decides to visit the land of Holiday Treats and he discovers a freshly baked little cookie. Cookie doesn't want to be eaten and thinks he can outrun Fox, but Fox is pretty darn fast. (Sound familiar?) But here's where the story takes a turn. When Fox takes a big bite of Cookie, he discovers that Sugar Cookie isn't a delicious treat at all -- he's not even edible! So Fox decides to help Sugar Cookie find his place in the land of Holiday Treats!

I absolutely loved TOUGH COOKIE. The story and illustrations are adorable, and I loved the surprise twists. I honestly wasn't expecting the story to go in the direction it went, and I found the characters and their reactions to be hilarious. I especially appreciated how the book ended with Tough Cookie figuring out exactly where he belonged.

Another thing I really liked about TOUGH COOKIE was that the picture book included recipes for various Tough Cookies. I don't want to give away the ending, but there are a few recipes that kids (and parents) will definitely want to make after finishing this book!
In summary, I loved TOUGH COOKIE from the characters, to the illustrations, to the message, to the recipes -- I could go on and on! Highly recommended!

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for providing a review copy of this picture 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, November 30, 2018

Review: Modern Baking

Summary: Donna Hay, Australia's bestselling, favourite and most trusted cook, brings you one of her most beautiful books yet: Modern Baking, with over 250 mouthwatering recipes for cakes,biscuits and all kinds of divinely delicious sweet treats. I find there's something truly enchanting about baking. From the way ingredients change as they're whisked and whipped, to the joy that a warm slice of cake can bring - it's always been my first love in the kitchen. Even though I'm a classics girl at heart, I'm forever adding on-trend twists to my sweet recipes and I want to share them with you. This book is what I like to think of as my modern baking bible. Inside are more than 250 recipes - my all-time favourite essentials, plus some super-smart shortcuts for when life gets crazy busy. I've also included plenty of better-for-you treats, made with wholesome raw ingredients, for a touch of balance. Be it chewy cookies, the fudgiest brownies, dreamy meringue or creamy iced desserts, let these modern sweets bring a little magic into your kitchen. -- 4th Estate/Harper 360

It's that time of year when I love to bake cookies and other holiday treats! So it was perfect timing when the new cookbook MODERN BAKING: CAKES, COOKIES AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN by Donna Hay arrived on my doorstep. Granted my arm almost fell off when I picked up this sturdy book. It's huge in the very best way, about 400 pages; and it looks like a coffee table book. This is one amazing cookbook for bakers!

MODERN BAKING is absolutely beautiful! The photographs are even swoon-worthy. I swear I gained a pound or two just drooling over them. Donna Hay, author of twenty cookbooks, has definitely outdone herself with this one. There are more than 250 recipes; and, as the author states, "this book is what I like to think of as my modern baking bible."

MODERN BAKING is even organized extremely well. The chapters are: Chocolate; Caramel, Toffee, and Coffee; Sugar and Spice; Fruit and Berries; and Milk and Cream. Now that I have your attention...! Just kidding, but I thought it was funny that she began this book with Chocolate! As someone who has less time than ever to bake this holiday season, I absolutely love that each chapter has a "Quick Fix" section. There is also a section in each chapter called "Fresh and Light" which definitely appeals to me too!

I could write pages just listing the incredible recipes... and I'd still be leaving some out. Suffice it to say, that I am not a huge chocolate lover, so the caramel and fruit sections were my favorites. What I really appreciated is that there are traditional favorites in this book, but there are also twists on classics and entirely new (and interesting) recipes.

I can't wait to add a few of these recipes to my routine Christmas baking. There is a Choc-Toffee Pretzel Bark that's screaming out to me as well as a Peanut Butter Fudge that looks amazing. And don't even get me started on the White Chocolate and Rhubarb Jam Drops! My husband grows rhubarb for me, and that recipe looks delicious.

There really is something for everyone in MODERN BAKING from the wide variety of recipes, to the quick ones, to the healthy ones. As a result, I think it's a perfect Christmas gift for the baker in your life!

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

Monday, November 26, 2018

Mailbox Monday

If it's Monday, it's Mailbox Monday! It's ironic that I've had absolutely no time to read the past week, yet I received so many books. Good thing most of them are picture books for Kid Konnection.

HUG ME LITTLE BEAR Finger Puppet Book came from Chronicle Books

HUG  ME LITTLE BUNNY Finger Puppet Book came from Chronicle Books

LITTLE PLANE by Taro Gomi came from Chronicle Books

IT'S UP TO YOU, ABE LINCOLN: HOW I MADE THE BIGGEST DECISIONS OF MY LIFE by Tom & Leila Hirschfeld came from Crown Books

SAVING MEGHAN by D.J. Palmer came from St. Martin's Press

MOM AND ME, ME AND MOM by Miguel Tanco came from Chronicle Books

CATCH ME: A SEEK-AND-FIND Book by Anders Arhoj came from Chronicle Books

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Kid Konnection: Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins

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 picture book that's perfect for Christmas!

Summary: It’s Christmas Eve morning, and Santa Claus is still in bed! He’s feeling stuffy and sneezy and slow as a yeti. Will Christmas have to be canceled? Not this year! Because Mrs. Claus is ready to take the reins in Santa’s place. With a plan in mind, Mrs. Claus assembles the crew, maps out the route, and preps the sleigh. Then, with a snap of the reins, she shoots off into the night. Delivering gifts all over the world without Santa’s magic won’t be easy, but Mrs. Claus proves she has some holiday sparkle of her own…

With lively rhyming text and adorable artwork, this delightful Christmas adventure will get kids into the holiday spirit. -- Two Lions

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it's time to focus on Christmas! And I have an adorable picture book to share with you -- it's MRS. CLAUS TAKES THE REINS by Sue Fliess and illustrated by Mark Chambers. This book is so darn cute, and it shows that sometimes it takes a woman to save the day!

When Santa oversleeps and wakes up feeling stuffy, Mrs. Claus decides that she will take his place. She organizes the trip including assembling the crew and mapping the route. And then she's off. There are a few bumps along the way, but Mrs. Claus is ever so resourceful and fills in for Santa despite missing that old Santa magic!

I absolutely loved this cute book. The text is rhyming and so fun to read, and the illustrations are whimsical and perfect for this story. I especially appreciated how the illustrator drew a plaid pattern on Mrs. Claus' green jacket! Some of the pictures were so darn funny. For example, the last page of the book when the elves hoist Mrs. Claus into the air is hilarious!

I think MRS. CLAUS TAKES THE REINS is a terrific book for this holiday season. Highly recommended!

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for providing a review copy of this picture 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, November 21, 2018

Review: Goodbye, Paris

Summary: Jojo Moyes meets Eleanor Oliphant in Goodbye, Paris, an utterly charming novel that proves that sometimes you have to break your heart to make it whole.

Grace once had the beginnings of a promising musical career, but she hasn’t been able to play her cello publicly since a traumatic event at music college years ago. Since then, she’s built a quiet life for herself in her small English village, repairing instruments and nurturing her long- distance affair with David, the man who has helped her rebuild her life even as she puts her dreams of a family on hold until his children are old enough for him to leave his loveless marriage. -- Touchstone

Both my college-age daughter and I read GOODBYE, PARIS by Anstey Harris, and not surprisingly, we had different opinions of this novel. I enjoyed it quite a bit thought it was a heartwarming story, while my daughter thought it was just okay... and very predictable! I'm sure there are readers who will agree with each of us.

GOODBYE, PARIS tells the story of Grace, a woman who owns an instrument shop where she makes and repairs violins. She once had a promising music career, but she can't even pick up her cello without having a panic attack. She leads a pretty quiet life with her only friends being a charming older man and an angst-ridden teenage girl She also happens to have a long-distance romantic relationship with David, a married man. Grace has agreed to put her life on hold, including have a child of her own, until David's children are old enough for him to leave his wife. (See why my daughter found parts of this novel to be predictable?)

Grace eventually realizes the bitter truth about David, and it sends her reeling. However, with the help of her friends, Grace discovers that she's much stronger than she ever thought; and she even manages to overcome her past fears and truly blossom!

I found GOODBYE, PARIS to be a charming book that definitely warmed my heart. I loved Grace (even though she was a little obtuse at times), and I really appreciated her friendship with Mr. Williams and Nadia. I will admit that the book was a little predictable, but that didn't bother me at all. I especially enjoyed seeing how Grace bounced back despite numerous setbacks.

In addition to the great characters, I really was impressed with Ms. Harris' writing. Her character development was delightful, and her prose was beautiful. I loved how she revealed Grace's troubled past and the way she showed how Grace overcame this. It really was a story about redemption and second chances, and who doesn't love a story with those messages?

GOODBYE, PARIS would make a great book club selection. The story is guaranteed to entertain, but I also think there's plenty to discuss about Grace. She makes some very questionable choices that are certain to stimulate discussion. In addition, there are also some serious topics which many readers will want to talk about. Some of the themes you might want to discuss include loss, fear, forgiveness, second chances, and anxiety. Check out the reading guide for more topics.

I definitely enjoyed GOODBYE, PARIS and highly recommend it to fans of charming stories about women and friendship.

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

Monday, November 19, 2018

Mailbox Monday

If it's Monday, it's Mailbox Monday! Last week I had an abundance of books. This week is much more in line with what I've been getting the past few months.

It was only one book but isn't the cover gorgeous?
THE SONGBIRD by Marcia Willett came from Thomas Dunne Books

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Kid Konnection: Duck and Hippo Give Thanks

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 picture book that celebrates Thanksgiving!

Summary: It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and Hippo has his heart set on having a good old-fashioned feast with Duck and their friends. Together, Duck and Hippo go shopping for food and invite Turtle, Elephant, and Pig to share the special day with them. Then they get everything ready. But while Hippo goes to bed dreaming of his good old-fashioned Thanksgiving, Duck is busy making her own plans. There’s going to be a BIG surprise—one that will remind Hippo of all he has to be thankful for. Join Duck and Hippo for a memorable celebration! -- Two Lions

DUCK AND HIPPO GIVE THANKS by Jonathan London and illustrated by Andrew Joyner is really the perfect way to get in the mood for Thanksgiving! This adorable picture book about two unlikely friends, Duck and Hippo, celebrates the excitement surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday while also celebrating the true meaning of friendship.

Duck and Hippo decide to throw a traditional Thanksgiving with all of their friends. These two friends couldn't be more different (think the Odd Couple) with Duck's happy-go-lucky attitude and Hippo's more serious tone. Duck and Hippo work mightily hard to plan for their Thanksgiving dinner including a hilarious trip to the grocery store.

Hippo has everything ready to go -- the old-fashioned apple pie, the old-fashioned pumpkin pie, the old-fashioned acorn squash, and even table decorations. Everything looks perfect and Hippo is so excited; however, none of his friends show up! When they finally arrive, Hippo is shocked to find that they were late because they had a surprise planned for him... except that Hippo wasn't so sure that he appreciated their surprise. That is until he saw his friends' smiling faces and realized the true meaning of friendship!

I love Duck and Hippo! These two friends couldn't be more different, but they both have huge hearts and are great to each other. DUCK AND HIPPO GIVE THANKS recognizes their differences, while also showing children that people don't have to be the same to be good friends. In addition, I appreciated that the book celebrates Thanksgiving, both in the traditional way and the "Friendsgiving" way.

To get a better idea of these adorable characters and DUCK AND HIPPO GIVE THANKS, check out this book trailer:
If you want even more Duck and Hippo, check out the free downloadable activity pages.

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for providing a review copy of this picture 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, November 15, 2018

Review: Marilla of Green Gables

Summary: A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness.

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth "Izzy" Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world. 

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables. -- William Morrow

There was quite a bit of buzz at this year's Book Expo for MARILLA OF GREEN GABLES by Sarah McCoy. I met Sarah a few years ago and I am a huge fan of her books (and basically Sarah too -- she's delightful!) But I admit that I was a bit hesitant to read a prequel to ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. I read ANNE for the first time earlier this year ( I know - it's hard to believe), and I absolutely loved the book. So it begged the question, "Would a prequel live up to this classic novel?"

I am happy to say that it did. I loved MARILLA OF GREEN GABLES! I never should have doubted Sarah -- she's a terrific writer, and her novel is definitely "ANNE - worthy." This book had the same feel as ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, and I fell in love with Marilla, Green Gables, and the other characters. It was absolutely charming and heartwarming and all those other words that basically mean I just loved this book!

MARILLA OF GREEN GABLES tells the story of Marilla Cuthbert. The novel begins when Marilla was thirteen years old and living in Avonlea. She meets her Aunt Izzy, who is quite a character and definitely a woman ahead of her time; and she gives Marilla an idea of what life can be outside of her small world!

Despite losing her mother at any early age, Marilla makes the best of her situation. She ventures outside of her farm life (making new friends and falling for a guy), and and begins doing charitable works for others. She even becomes involved in an orphanage that acts as a station for runaway slaves from America. Marilla is selfless and kind, and her involvement in politics and abolition help to create the woman we meet in ANNE OF GREEN GABLES.

I found MARILLA OF GREEN GABLES to be such a beautiful work of fiction. The author brought Green Gables and its characters to life, and it was so fun to see who they were before Anne changed their lives forever (in the very best way!) I especially appreciated Marilla's romance with John Blythe. While it didn't end exactly the way I wanted (no surprise there!), it really helped explain how Marilla turned out to be a spinster and living with her brother.

Fans of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES will love this book -- I promise! However, I also think anyone who loves a heartwarming story about a woman discovering herself will enjoy it too. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy at this year's Book Expo.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Mailbox Monday

It's been quite a few years since I've participated in Mailbox Monday, but I've been blogging less since I started working full-time, and I still want to share with you the great books that are on my radar!

I had a fantastic week of book goodies -- I can't remember the last time I received so many books! So many of them look terrific -- what stands out to you?
THE DUKE THAT I MARRY by Cathy Maxwell came from Avon Books

THE OTHER MISS BRIDGERTON by Julia Quinn came from Avon Books

SAVE ME FROM DANGEROUS MEN by S.A. Lelchuk came from Flatiron Books

THE MOTHER-IN-LAW by Sally Hepworth came from St. Martin's Press

EGGS ON ICE by Laura Childs came from Berkley

THE BEAUTIFUL STRANGERS by Camille De Maio came from Lake Union

DRAGONSHADOW by Elle Katharine White came from Harper Voyager

MRS. CLAUS TAKES THE REINS by Sue Fliess and illustrated by Mark Chambers came from Two Lions

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Kid Konnection: First Snow

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 picture book that celebrates kids' favorite part of winter -- snow!

Summary: Snowflakes falling! What a treat! Friends gather outside to celebrate the first snowfall of the season with snowball fights, sledding, building igloos, drinking hot chocolate, and making the most of a windy, wintry day. With rhyming text and cheerful illustrations, this is a charming celebration of the winter season. -- Albert Whitman & Co.

I'm certainly not looking forward to the first snow of the year, but FIRST SNOW by Nancy Viau and illustrated by Talitha Shipman is cute enough that maybe, just maybe, I'll crack a smile when I see those white flakes falling!

FIRST SNOW is an adorable picture book about two kids (and their friends) and their excitement for the first snow. The text in the book is short and sweet.. and perfect for toddlers; and the rhyming cadence of the words makes it fun to read aloud. I think this book captures the essence of children's joy surrounding snow absolutely perfectly.

In addition to the little story, the illustrations are precious. I love the bright colors set against the white snowy background, and the kids (and dog) in the story are too cute. Even the endpaper is fun with its collection of colorful winter hats and mittens.

FIRST SNOW is a beautiful and fun book that kids will love. Highly recommended!

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for providing a review copy of this picture 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!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Kid Konnection: History's Mysteries

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 book for the kid in your life who is curious about history!

Summary: Curious kids itching for real-life Indiana Jones-like intrigue will get swept away with the next book in this spine-tingling series about solving puzzles of the past--from whole civilizations that have vanished to mystifying monuments and urban legends.

Fans of Night at the Museum and the Indiana Jones saga will be fascinated by these real-life mysteries: Is there any truth to the legend of Bigfoot? Why have planes and ships suddenly disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle? Is there really a lost city of gold in the jungle of Central America? The next book in this exciting new series will cover even more of history's most fascinating head-scratching conundrums, including the curse of the Hope Diamond, King Tut's tomb, black holes, the puzzling disappearance of ancient civilizations, cryptic creatures of myth and legend, long-lost treasure, and so much more. Kids can dig into these mysteries, uncover clues, and ponder leading scientific theories to help decipher what really happened. Chock-full of cool photos, fun facts, and spooky fun, this book is sure to keep curious kids engaged as they try to piece together these puzzles of the past! -- National Geographic Kids

National Geographic Kids is back with another edition of HISTORY'S MYSTERIES: FREAKY PHENOMENA: CURIOUS CLUES, COLD CASES, AND PUZZLES FROM THE PAST by Kitson Jazynika. It's the perfect gift for kids who are interested in history... and truthfully even for ones who don't think they are interested in history. This 160 page book make learning about history fun because it covers strange real-life mysteries!

HISTORY'S MYSTERIES is a very cool book for kids and adults alike. There are some amazing stories about some of history's most famous unsolved cases like the Loch Ness Monster, the Curse of the Hope Diamond, the Baiae Tunnels, and more! I've always been drawn to the mystery surrounding King Tut, so that section was especially interesting to me. But I found quite a few of the features to be extremely thought-provoking. I'm sure every reader will have a favorite mystery (or two!)

Once again, I am impressed with how these National Geographic Kids' books present material to kids. It goes without saying that the photographs and other images are amazing and certain to draw in even the most reluctant of readers. I also like that the written material is presented in a concise, easy-to-read way. There are plenty of fun facts, and I like the "New Evidence Revealed" sections. This book is about history but it's not at all intimidating to kids!

I also like that the ideas are offered in such a way that kids can try to solve these mysteries... or at least, they can come to their own conclusions about these mysteries. So while this book is providing some historical context to kids, it's also making them think about the information. How awesome is that?

I highly recommend HISTORY'S MYSTERIES. It's a must-have for school and home libraries.

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, October 22, 2018

Review: November Road

Summary: Set against the assassination of JFK, a poignant and evocative crime novel that centers on a desperate cat-and-mouse chase across 1960s America—a story of unexpected connections, daring possibilities, and the hope of second chances from the Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone.

Frank Guidry’s luck has finally run out.

A loyal street lieutenant to New Orleans’ mob boss Carlos Marcello, Guidry has learned that everybody is expendable. But now it’s his turn—he knows too much about the crime of the century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Within hours of JFK’s murder, everyone with ties to Marcello is turning up dead, and Guidry suspects he’s next: he was in Dallas on an errand for the boss less than two weeks before the president was shot. With few good options, Guidry hits the road to Las Vegas, to see an old associate—a dangerous man who hates Marcello enough to help Guidry vanish.

Guidry knows that the first rule of running is "don’t stop," but when he sees a beautiful housewife on the side of the road with a broken-down car, two little daughters and a dog in the back seat, he sees the perfect disguise to cover his tracks from the hit men on his tail. Posing as an insurance man, Guidry offers to help Charlotte reach her destination, California. If she accompanies him to Vegas, he can help her get a new car.

For her, it’s more than a car— it’s an escape. She’s on the run too, from a stifling existence in small-town Oklahoma and a kindly husband who’s a hopeless drunk.

It’s an American story: two strangers meet to share the open road west, a dream, a hope—and find each other on the way.

Charlotte sees that he’s strong and kind; Guidry discovers that she’s smart and funny. He learns that’s she determined to give herself and her kids a new life; she can’t know that he’s desperate to leave his old one behind.

Another rule—fugitives shouldn’t fall in love, especially with each other. A road isn’t just a road, it’s a trail, and Guidry’s ruthless and relentless hunters are closing in on him. But now Guidry doesn’t want to just survive, he wants to really live, maybe for the first time.

Everyone’s expendable, or they should be, but now Guidry just can’t throw away the woman he’s come to love.

And it might get them both killed. -- William Morrow

Without a doubt, my favorite question at Book Expo each year is, "What book are you most excited about this fall?" And one of my favorite book people (Book Club Girl) said, "NOVEMBER ROAD." Of course, her recommendation was all I needed, but I'll admit the amount of well-respected authors on Twitter who were raving about this novel and the author Lou Berney, made me even more excited to read it! Plus, NOVEMBER ROAD received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. Are you getting the idea that this book is a must-read?

Well if so, you are correct! I loved, loved, loved this book in a time when I don't get to read all that often. I basically hid every day during my lunch just to escape with this novel. It's that good. The characters are so incredibly real, and the plot is suspenseful, and I could go on and on; however, it's Lou Berney's writing that makes this book absolutely amazing.

The description above for NOVEMBER ROAD is pretty detailed, so I probably don't need to add much more to that. In summary, this novel takes place in the days following JFK's assassination and follows three people who are on the run -- Charlotte, a housewife who has just left her alcoholic husband, Guidry, a street lieutenant with the New Orleans mob, and a hitman who is chasing both of them. It's definitely not Guidry's intent when he picks up Charlotte and her daughters to fall in love with her, but he finds himself not only trying to safe his own life, but also trying to make a new one with her. It's quite the ride... both for the characters and the reader!

What amazed me the most about NOVEMBER ROAD is that, while it was a really well-written suspense novel, it was perhaps even more special because of the characters and the depth of their stories. It's part mystery, part suspense, and part love-story; and it truly reflects the mood of the country during this dark time. Every page is compelling and I absolutely loved how the author explored these characters' innate desire to live life to the fullest against the backdrop of Kennedy's death.

Another aspect of this novel which I'm finding hard to explain is the pace of the story. In many ways, the novel was extremely fast paced. The entire book took place in a short period of time and the chase aspect made it feel hurried. However, there were poignant times between the Charlotte and Guidry that seemed almost slow-motion in contract to the chase. I know this isn't making much sense, but I so appreciated how these two main plotlines wove together to make a beautiful story.

NOVEMBER ROAD would make an excellent book club selection. This is literary suspense at the highest level, and the character development is outstanding. You could really analyze their choices and motivations for quite some time. In addition, there are some universal themes that would make for some interesting discussion including love, loss, fear, second chances, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

I purposely left my review for NOVEMBER ROAD a little vague -- mostly because this novel left me speechless (if you can believe that.) It will without a doubt go down as one of my favorite books of 2018 (and maybe even this past decade.) Highly recommended!

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.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Kid Konnection: Hey, Kiddo

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 terrific graphic novel.

Summary: In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka's teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett's family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett's life. His father is a mystery. Jarrett doesn't know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents. Two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along. Jarrett goes through his childhood trying to make his non normal life as normal as possible, finding a way to express himself through drawing even as so little is being said to him about what's going on. Only as a teenager can Jarrett begin to piece together the truth of his family, reckoning with his mother and tracking down his father. Hey, Kiddo is a profoundly important memoir about growing up in a family grappling with addiction, and finding the art that helps you survive. -- Scholastic

Looking back at Book Expo, one of the highlights was getting a signed copy of HEY, KIDDO: HOW I LOST MY MOTHER, FOUND MY FATHER, AND DEALT WITH FAMILY ADDICTION by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. I have been a big fan of the Lunch Lady series for years; and when I found out that the author had written a memoir about his childhood, I just knew it would be something special!

HEY, KIDDO is truly a wonderful graphic novel about Jarrett Krosoczka's complicated childhood. His mother was an addict, who was absent for long periods from Jarrett's life; and he didn't really know his father at all. He lived with his maternal grandparents who undoubtedly loved him, but weren't always the easiest people to life with.

As Jarrett grows older and becomes more aware of his family situation, he begins to realize the truth about his parents. He learns to accept his mother and he even begins to have a relationship of sorts with his father. Despite all of this things, Jarrett does his best to just be "normal," and in the process, he finds that his love of drawing helps him not only survive, but thrive!

Words cannot express how much I adored HEY, KIDDO. This graphic novel has fantastic illustrations (of course!), but I was truly blown away by how these drawings were able to convey the different characters' emotions. I'm not a huge reader of graphic novels (although I do enjoy them when I pick one up!), and I guess I didn't realize just how intense they can be.

It certainly didn't hurt that Mr. Krosoczka had a powerful childhood story. His situation was definitely complicated; and it's a true testament, both to him and his grandparents, how he was able to use art to cope. I found Mr. Krosoczka's strength to be admirable, and I think middle graders and high schoolers will find much to appreciate in this story.

However, it's how much this book has the potential to help children in similar situations that really makes HEY, KIDDO so amazing. Mr. Krosoczka's story is not only heartwarming, but it also shows children that it's possible to get through difficult times with a good support system. Furthermore, it's also possible to get through difficult times if you find something inside of yourself that can make you happy, like Mr. Krosoczka love of drawing.

HEY, KIDDO has already been chosen as a 2018 National Book Award Finalist, and I honestly can't think of a book (or author) that is more deserving. Highly recommended!

I received a copy of HEY, KIDDO at the 2018 Book Expo.

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!