Monday, July 15, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! I had a slow but steady week of books. Let's just put it this way... I received more books this week than I finished reading!
AMERICAN ROYALS by Katharine McGee came from Random House Books for Young Readers

SOMEONE WE KNOW by Shari LaPena came from Pamela Dorman Books/Viking

THE EVIL PRINCESS VS. THE BRAVE KNIGHT by Jennifer L. Holm vs. Matthew Holm came from Random House Books for Young Readers

What was in your mailbox?

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Kid Konnection: I Have An Idea!

Every weekend, I host Kid Konnection -- a regular weekly feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a fun picture book from an author I love!

Summary: From one of the true creative geniuses of this generation comes a unique meditation on and celebration of the magic of the birth of a simple idea. Sparkling with visual wit and bubbling with imagination, this is a richly emotional exploration of the creative process: from an initial tentative inkling, to the frustration of chasing the wrong notion, to finally the exhilaration of capturing—and nurturing—just the right idea. I Have an Idea! is a scrumptious cloth-spined package of color and inspiration equally at home on a child's bookshelf, in a new graduate's backpack, or atop a creative's desk. -- Chronicle Books

I HAVE AN IDEA! by Herve Tullet is a must-have picture book! I love Herve Tullet's picture book, especially PRESS HERE; and I think he's brought an entirely new level of creativity to children's books.

I HAVE AN IDEA! celebrates the wonder of ideas and imagination! First, this delightful picture book describes beautifully the feeling of capturing an idea, and then it continues to explore the creativity process. It starts with that feeling you get when you have an idea trying to surface and ends with the final defining of a great idea. It also describes the feeling you get when you might not be on the exact right track, but it encourages the reader to keep on searching. It's a wonderful message for both kids and adults alike!

I love I HAVE AN IDEA! from its simple text, to its unique and colorful artwork, to its important message. I really can't rave enough about how special this picture book is. 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, July 8, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! After the past few "slow" weeks, I guess I was due for a great book mail week!


IMMORTAL BORN by Lynsay Sands came from Avon Books

ONE FINE DUKE by Lenora Bell came from Avon Books

BELOW THE RADAR by Dana Ridenour came from Saicheck Publicity and Wise Ink

BETHLEHEM by Karen Kelly came from St. Martin's Press

GRAVITY IS THE THING by Jaclyn Moriarty came from Harper Books

THE KEY FROM SPAIN: FLORY JAGODA AND HER MUSIC by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Sonja Wimmer came from Kar-Ben Publishing

I also received a very cool package from St. Martin's Press promoting THE ESCAPE ROOM by Megan Goldin. I've already read (but not reviewed) this book; and if you read my Book Expo post, then you know I'm super excited for this novel's release at the end of July!
The Survival Kit was full of some pretty fun gifts too -- a mirror, lip balm, and a travel manicure set!
What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Kid Konnection: I Will Race You Through This Book!

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 that is guaranteed to bring out the competitive nature in your budding reader!

Summary: See if you can beat Book-It Bunny in a reading race!

In this story designed to engage early readers, charming characters combine with simple text, lively illustrations, and laugh-out-loud humor to help boost kids’ confidence and create lifelong readers!

This easy-to-read adventure breaks the fourth wall as Book-It Bunny challenges the reader to race her to the end of the story. But with distractions and tricks up her sleeve along the way, the competition becomes both fierce and funny at the same time. On your mark, get set, read!

Exciting, easy-to-read books are the stepping stone a young reader needs to bridge the gap between being a beginner and being fluent. -- Penguin Workshop

I WILL RACE YOU THROUGH THIS BOOK! by Jonathan Fenske is a picture book that makes reading fun for early readers. Join Book-It Bunny as she races through the book trying to beat the reader!


I WILL RACE YOU THROUGH THIS BOOK! is adorable. I love the character of Book-It Bunny, and she definitely makes turning the pages rewarding. Book-It Bunny is hilarious as she tries to come up with ways to get to the end of the book first. She fakes and distracts as she tries to slow the new reader down.

As cute as this book was, I also really appreciate how this book encourages children to read. The illustrations are funny, and the text on each page is simple enough not to overwhelm beginning readers. I WILL RACE YOU THROUGH THIS BOOK! is a page-turner (in the literal sense of the word!), and I think it's a great way to introduce independent reading to your child.

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!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Review: Mrs. Everything

Summary: Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world? -- Atria

I can't really explain why I feel the need to read everything Jennifer Weiner writes. Like many of you, I loved her first novel GOOD IN BED; however, I feel like I've been reading her books for almost twenty years trying to capture that same feeling again. I can say that I've enjoyed a few of her books and that I've been meh about quite a few, but I think she's really found her voice again with her latest novel MRS. EVERYTHING.

MRS. EVERYTHING is a big novel that tells the story of the Kaufman sisters, Jo and Bethie (Little Women?), from their childhood through much of their adult lives. They novel begins in the 1950s when their family moves to an idyllic neighborhood in the Detroit suburbs. Jo is the smart tomboy while Bethie is the pretty one who loves being on stage. The girls have pretty normal lives until a family tragedy occurs that turns their lives upside-down.

The novel follows Jo and Bethie through their high school years and then their college ones as they face the changing times our of country including Vietnam and Woodstock. Both girls continue to experience life, and some hard times, as they discover who they truly are (or aren't!). Jo winds up married with daughters of her own, while Bethie becomes a bit of a wild flower child. Ironically, neither woman is actually living the life they had once hoped for.

After everything these woman have experienced in their lifetimes, can Jo and/or Bethie finally make the tough decisions and find happiness?

I found MRS. EVERYTHING to be a very interesting read and probably Ms. Weiner's most important novel. I enjoyed the story of these two sisters who lead very separate lives but are ultimately there for each other, and I definitely appreciated what Ms. Weiner set out to do with this book. I grew to really like these women, although I did get frustrated with them many times; and I found the story to be both touching and uplifting.

What I think I enjoyed the most about MRS. EVERYTHING, though, was how the novel explored women from the 1950s to present-day. It's kind of amazing of how much we've changed and how far we've come since serving the role of wife and mother and living in the suburbs. While it's apparent by the end of this novel that women have made huge strides in being equal, the novel still shows that women have a ways to go.

If I have one slight issue with the novel, it's that I think maybe Ms. Weiner tried to do too much with the story. It seems like every major event and every issue that a woman could experience made some sort of appearance in this book. Having said that, it might have been necessary so she could truly show how the roles of women have evolved through time -- I'm not entirely sure...

What I am 100% sure of is that MRS. EVERYTHING would make a great book club pick. There truly is so much to discuss about these two sisters' lives as well as the roles of women in general. Check out this reading guide with twelve discussion questions as well as some ideas to enhance your book club.

All in all, I'd say that MRS. EVERYTHING is the best Jennifer Weiner novel I've read since GOOD IN BED. I think fans of women's fiction will find a lot of like and think about with this story.

I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher on Edelweiss.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! This week definitely wasn't a good one for me when it came to books, but I did manage to get one on Saturday that looks pretty darn good!

CARNEGIE HILL by Jonathan Vatner came from St. Martin's Press

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Kid Konnection: Bunny's Book Club Goes to School

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 adorable picture book about a bunny and his friends!

Summary: Bunny and his forest friends from Bunny’s Book Club are back! And this time they’re heading to class to make sure their young friend has the best first day of school ever.

Bunny and his forest friends meet at the town library every Saturday morning for book club. But one summer day, their library buddy Josie confesses to Bunny that she’s nervous about starting school. Bunny has an idea: He’ll go with her! Soon, Bunny’s friends Bear, Raccoon, Bird, Porcupine, Squirrel, Mole, Mouse, and Frog decide to join him—and Josie’s first day of school turns into a critter-filled adventure!

For any child starting school, here’s a comforting, funny, and very fuzzy celebration of friendship that will make everyone excited to hit the books. -- Doubleday Books for Young Readers


BUNNY'S BOOK CLUB GOES TO SCHOOL by Annie Silvestro and illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss is a wonderful book about the power of friendship. Bunny and his friends from the forest want to help their friend Josie on her first day of school. They all head to the school to find her, but they discover that it's bigger than they expected. They look everywhere for Josie and discover some fun along the way... all while showing what it means to be a true friend.

I thought BUNNY'S BOOK CLUB GOES TO SCHOOL was so sweet. I love Bunny and his assortment of forest friends, and I was especially happy to see how they were willing to go the extra mile for their friend Josie. This picture book reinforces what it means to be a friend and how support from those close to you can make things better. (It also begins by showing how wonderful libraries are with all of their offerings, so there's that too!) 

Not only does this book have a terrific message about friendship, but it also is a great book to help get your children ready for school (or any new adventure). Josie admits that she's nervous about her first day of school; and BUNNY'S BOOK CLUB GOES TO SCHOOL shows that it's okay to be scared. As the cast of animal friends look for Josie, they find all of the great things that a school has to offer like a cafeteria, an art room, a gym, a playground and even a library! I think this "look" at a school might help to ease youngsters concerns and show that starting a new school can be exciting!

BUNNY'S BOOK CLUB GOES TO SCHOOL is a sweet story about starting a new school with the help of friends. Highly recommended for summer reading, especially for kiddos who are starting school in the fall!

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, June 26, 2019

Book Expo 2019 - Day 3 (Friday)

Kathy (aka Bermudaonion) and I were up bright and early again. We had big plans for our last full day at Book Expo, and we had a relatively early morning meeting with Kaitlyn from Sourcebooks. I actually should say that Kathy had a meeting scheduled and I kind of tagged along. Remember that bagel place that I loved on Thursday? Well, we stopped there again for breakfast since it was so convenient... and so good!

If I'm being entirely honest, I haven't read a whole lot of books published by Sourcebooks over the past couple of years. And I am the first to admit that I haven't done a very good job of keeping up with their new releases. SHAME ON ME! Kaitlyn went through their new releases and they have some awesome books coming out this fall! Of course, I was drawn to the thrillers and mysteries, but they also have some awesome historical and women's fiction that caught my eye. Here are a few of my favorites:

PRETTY GUILTY WOMEN by Gina Lamanna

Summary: our Women. Four Confessions. One Murder.

Something has gone terribly wrong at the Banks wedding. A man is dead. Four different women rush to offer confessions, each insisting that they committed the crime — alone.

Ginger is holding her family together by a thread, and this wedding weekend is not the fabulous getaway she anticipated.

Kate has enough money to buy her way out of anything. Well, almost anything.

Emily can’t shake her reputation or her memories, and she’s planning to drown this whole vacation in a bottle.

Lulu’s got ex-husbands to spare, and another on the way — as soon as she figures out what the devil the current husband is up to behind her back.

Why would they confess to the same murder? Only they know — and they’re not telling. This page-turning novel explores the depths of friendship and the truths we love to ignore.


LADY CLEMENTINE by Marie Benedict

Summary: New from Marie Benedict, the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room! An incredible novel that focuses on one of the people who had the most influence during World War I and World War II: Clementine Churchill.



CHASE DARKNESS WITH ME by Billy Jensen

Summary: ***With an exclusive behind-the-scenes conversation between Billy Jensen and retired detective Paul Holes on the Golden State Killer, their favorite cold cases, and more***

Have you ever wanted to solve a murder? Gather the clues the police overlooked? Put together the pieces? Identify the suspect?

Journalist Billy Jensen spent fifteen years investigating unsolved murders, fighting for the families of victims. Every story he wrote had one thing in common—they didn’t have an ending. The killer was still out there.

But after the sudden death of a friend, crime writer and author of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara, Billy became fed up. Following a dark night, he came up with a plan. A plan to investigate past the point when the cops had given up. A plan to solve the murders himself.

You’ll ride shotgun as Billy identifies the Halloween Mask Murderer, finds a missing girl in the California Redwoods, and investigates the only other murder in New York City on 9/11. You’ll hear intimate details of the hunts for two of the most terrifying serial killers in history: his friend Michelle McNamara’s pursuit of the Golden State Killer and his own quest to find the murderer of the Allenstown Four. And Billy gives you the tools—and the rules—to help solve murders yourself.

Gripping, complex, unforgettable, Chase Darkness with Me is an examination of the evil forces that walk among us, illustrating a novel way to catch those killers, and a true-crime narrative unlike any you’ve read before.


Immediately after our meeting, Kathy and I walked to visit our favorite author Adriana Trigiani! We knew we needed to walk quickly, but that wasn't an issue for us. However, I had a slight issue on the way. I stepped in gray paint and ruined my brand-new Begonia Rothy's!!!
So not only did I ruin my brand new pale pink shoes that were a Mother's Day gift from my husband and kids, I now had to knock on Adriana's door holding my shoe! Talk about embarrassing! The always gracious (and certified stain treater!) Adriana whisked me away to her laundry room and we tried Resolve to no avail. I was kind of sick to my stomach, but I tried not to let it ruin my day!

This is a bit of an aside (and certainly not book-related) but I couldn't get the paint out when I got home either. I didn't want to throw away the shoes so I painted them! Crisis (kind of) averted but I still want pink shoes!
Once I stopped hyperventilating over my shoe, we sat down with Adriana for some quality conversation about books, movies, makeup and gossip. It's always a treat for me to visit with Adriana and Kathy, and this year was no exception. We even got lipstick lessons -- make sure you check out Adriana's Kiss Carlo lipsticks that benefit her charity The Origin Project. I definitely count this as one of my favorite things about visiting Book Expo and New York.
And then it was back to the Javits for our exciting afternoon book fun! I was walking around with one wet shoes, but what are you going to do? Seriously though, Friday afternoon at Book Expo is when my very favorite Book Expo event occurs -- Book Group Speed Dating. This amazing event, hosted by Carol Fitzgerald from Reading Group Guides, just keeps getting bigger and better!

Basically, there are hundreds of us in a big room with lots of round tables. And did I mention that these tables are stacked high with books? Publicists from a variety of publishers take turns going to the different tables and doing "elevator" type pitches to us about their faves. Believe me when I tell you that it's very, very hard not to leave with too many books. Of course, each table only hears from a few publishers because of the time constraints; however, at the end, you can go around the room and get books that are still remaining on the tables. Needless to say, it's so much fun!

If you are interested in seeing what books were presented, you can check out the entire slide show here. I'm warning you that it's a bit overwhelming! I showed great restraint (but I was downloading from Netgalley and Edelweis like a crazy person. Some of the books I'm most excited about are:

SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid

Summary: A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason. -- Putnam

OLIVE AGAIN by Elizabeth Strout

Summary: Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is “a compelling life force” (San Francisco Chronicle). The New Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” and she has never done so more clearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire moments of transcendent grace. -- Random House

THE DEARLY BELOVED by Cara Wall

Summary: Charles and Lily, James and Nan. They meet in Greenwich Village in 1963 when Charles and James are jointly hired to steward the historic Third Presbyterian Church through turbulent times. Their personal differences however, threaten to tear them apart.

Charles is destined to succeed his father as an esteemed professor of history at Harvard, until an unorthodox lecture about faith leads him to ministry. How then, can he fall in love with Lily—fiercely intellectual, elegantly stern—after she tells him with certainty that she will never believe in God? And yet, how can he not?

James, the youngest son in a hardscrabble Chicago family, spent much of his youth angry at his alcoholic father and avoiding his anxious mother. Nan grew up in Mississippi, the devout and beloved daughter of a minister and a debutante. James's escape from his desperate circumstances leads him to Nan and, despite his skepticism of hope in all its forms, her gentle, constant faith changes the course of his life.

In The Dearly Beloved, we follow these two couples through decades of love and friendship, jealousy and understanding, forgiveness and commitment. Against the backdrop of turbulent changes facing the city and the church’s congregation, these four forge improbable paths through their evolving relationships, each struggling with uncertainty, heartbreak, and joy. A poignant meditation on faith and reason, marriage and children, and the ways we find meaning in our lives, Cara Wall’s The Dearly Beloved is a gorgeous, wise, and provocative novel that is destined to become a classic. -- Simon & Schuster


NEVER HAVE I EVER by Joshilyn Jackson

Summary: In this game, even winning can be deadly...

Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.

Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.

When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.

To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.

A diabolically entertaining tale of betrayal, deception, temptation, and love filled with dark twists leavened by Joshilyn Jackson’s trademark humor, Never Have I Ever explores what happens when the transgressions of our past come back with a vengeance. -- William Morrow


MY DARK VANESSA by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Summary:  Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet na├»ve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself. -- William Morrow


It was so hard to come up with just these few books because there are literally about 20 more books that I wanted to feature!

After Speed Dating, Kathy and I rushed to mail her box of books -- it wasn't open much past the end of this event which caused quite the commotion. Notice I said "her" box of books! I decided to go the e-book route this year and only bring home one bag of books on the train. That one bag was one big and heavy bag, but it was one bag (with a few in my suitcase!) The only problem was I had to carry that big old tote from Javits back to our hotel by way of the TKTS booth. To make things even more interesting, the strap of the tote broke only a block away from Javits. It was one long walk carrying the books in my arms and then standing in line for tickets, but a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do!

Kathy and I stood in line awhile (not horrible long but still about a half hour) and kept changing our minds about what we wanted to see. This year was one of the best for musicals and it was a difficult decision because we would have been happy seeing any of about seven shows. I kind of wanted to see Come From Away something awful, but Kathy wasn't sure she wanted to see a show about 9/11. We went back and forth between Oklahoma! (so many people recommended this one!) to Tootsie, to The Prom, to Mean Girls... well you can our dilemma. Finally, after quite a few recommendations when we were in line, we decided on Come From Away!

We dropped off my books and decided to have dinner and drinks before the show. We headed out for a quick dinner at Casa Barilla. We had eaten there a few years ago and we liked how we could kind of create our own pasta meal. We were basically starving since we hadn't eaten since breakfast, and somehow I ended up with Beyond Meat meatballs. (Can you tell it was just one of those days for me?) I can't say that I loved them, but I had been wanting to try one of these plant-based meats for awhile. Next, we had a drink at our hotel bar. We wanted to sit outside on the lovely rooftop bar; however, we couldn't manage to get served so we headed back inside to sit at the bar. (Now that I'm thinking about it, I was kind of jinxed that day!)

Holy moly was Come From Away something special! It's based on a true story of what happened in a small town in Newfoundland after all planes were grounded immediately following 9/11. About 7,000 passengers found themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere, and this amazing town welcomed them. I know a musical based on 9/11 sounds like a major downer, but this play was so uplifting. It showed how amazingly kind humans can be to each other, and it was exactly what I needed to see. I loved the music, the characters, and the message; and I couldn't stop thinking about it for days!

Kathy and I had another amazing time at Book Expo and went our separate ways on Saturday morning. While I hated saying goodbye and having our mini-vacation come to an end, I was looking forward to going home and seeing my family again!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! I had a slow week, but I did mange to receive an adorable surprise box of books!

AWESOME DOG 5000 (Book 1) by Justin Dean came from Random House Books for Young Readers
How fun is this package including books, pencils, a pencil pouch, erasers, and more? This box of ACORN goodies came from Scholastic promoting their brand-new line of books for young readers. ACORN books are written by bestselling and award-winning authors and illustrators including Dav Pilkey, Max Braillier, and more. These easy-to-read books have bright illustrations along with color-coded speech bubbles, so they are certain to attract even reluctant readers.

A FRIEND FOR DRAGON by Dav Pilkey

A CRABBY BOOK: HELLO, CRABBY! by Jonathan Fenske


UNICORN AND YETI: SPARKLY NEW FRIENDS by Heather Ayris Burnell and Hazel Quintanilla

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Kid Konnection: Weird But True! USA

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 another fun book from National Geographic Kids.
Summary: It's weird. It's true. And now, it's red, white, and blue! Explore the wonderfully wacky side of the United States of America Weird But True! style. Calling all patriots! Get ready to explore wacky wonders, facts, stats, tidbits, and trivia about America's 50 states and territories! Did you know that there is a floating post office in Michigan? Or that a library book checked out by George Washington was returned to a New York City library 221 years late? Maybe you'd be amazed to discover that the ink used to print U.S. paper money is magnetic? In this latest and greatest edition of Weird But True!, you'll encounter all kinds of bizarre people, places, events, and things that make our country great. -- National Geographic Kids

WEIRD BUT TRUE! USA: 300 FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT THE FIFTY STATES is another great addition to the Weird but True series from National Geographic Kids. This book is an entertaining way for kids to learn about the United States, and it's perfect for summer fun! 

WEIRD BUT TRUE! USA provides strange/interesting/unique facts about America's fifty states and its territories. Each page of this pint-sized book has amazing photographs (of course -- it's a National Geographic publication!), and fun facts that are guaranteed to make you scratch your head. In fact, some of these tidbits are almost too strange to believe, and you won't believe how much material this little book covers.

Rather than try to describe this book, I think it's best to let the book speak for itself:

The United States averages 1,250 tornadoes every year -- about 10 times more than any other country.

Jell-O is the official state snack of Utah.

A study found that Americans report more UFO sightings on the Fourth of July than on any other day.

At Oregon's Great Salt Lick Contest, competitors present blocks of salt licked by cows and sheep as art.

During a hurricane, 30 flamingos at a zoo in Miami, Florida, were herded into a bathroom.

Green Bay, Wisconsin, is known as the toilet paper capital of the world.

As you can see, WEIRD BUT TRUE! USA has entertaining trivia about the good ole' USA! Kids and parents alike will enjoy sharing these interesting facts. Highly recommended!

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!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Book Expo 2019 - Day 2 (Thursday)

Kathy (aka Bermudaonion) and I were anxious to spend a little more time at the Javits on Thursday, and we had an amazing schedule of events. We got up relatively early, but it was still sleeping in compared to my home schedule! Truth be told, neither one of us slept that well anyway and we had been up on and off for hours.

We gave ourselves plenty of time to get breakfast on our way to the Javits Center. If you know one thing about Kathy and me, then you know that we walk...a lot. I think we averaged close to 30,000 steps each day! Anyway... we stopped at a new bagel shop that was fantastic -- so good that I wanted to go back on Friday.

We arrived at Javits as Book Expo opened (great timing I might add!), and we took a quick walk around the show floor and grabbed a few galleys. However, the real reason we came first thing in the morning was to attend the DC Comics breakfast. This event was such a treat because they presented their new graphic novel imprints for middle grade and young adult readers; and let me tell you, these books are something special! It was a pretty intimate event with a small audience and panels of middle grade and then young adult authors/illustrators. I had an amazing time!

When I received the invitation for this event, I couldn't help but notice that the new books looked fantastic, but also that there were some pretty big names associated with the books. (Check out the image below!) What I didn't realize is that all of the people mentioned in the invitation were there! I almost died when Meg Cabot (one of Booking Daughter's favorite authors) sat down for the first panel with Michael Northrop. They spoke about their creative processes for writing these books since they are a little different than what they've done in the past, and Mr. Northrop managed to make me shed a tear when he talked about how much graphic novels and comics meant to him as a child. He was truly inspirational and gave me a lot to think about!
The second panel was Marko Tamaki, Danielle Page, Kami Garcia and Isaac Goodhart. They were equally informative, funny, and so entertaining. Once again, I was extremely interested in how they worked with their illustrators to bring these stories and characters to life, and how they researched the history of their characters. I can't wait to dig into a few of the books, especially the ones with strong female characters, and share my thoughts with you. Here are two that caught my eye:

BLACK CANARY: IGNITE by Meg Cabot and illustrated by Cara McGee -- I want to read this one because it's, well, Meg Cabot!

Summary: From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Princess Diariescomes Black Canary: Ignite, Meg Cabot's first graphic novel! With expressive and energetic art by Cara McGee to match the trademark attitude and spunk of Meg Cabot's characters and dialogue, this mother-daughter story embraces the highs and lows of growing up without growing out of what makes us unique.

Thirteen-year-old Dinah Lance knows exactly what she wants, who she is, and where she's going. First, she'll win the battle of the bands with her two best friends, then she'll join the Gotham City Junior Police Academy so she can solve crimes just like her dad. Who knows, her rock star group of friends may even save the world, but first they'll need to agree on a band name.

When a mysterious figure keeps getting in the way of Dinah's goals and threatens her friends and family, she'll learn more about herself, her mother's secret past, and navigating the various power chords of life.

Black Canary: Ignite is an inspirational song that encourages readers to find their own special voices to sing along with Black Canary!

HARLEY QUINN: BREAKING GLASS by Mariko Tamaki and illustred by Steve Pugh -- I found this author to be intriguing and everyone made her sound like a graphic novel rock star!

Summary: Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass is a coming-of-age story about choices, consequences, justice, fairness, and progress and how a weird kid from Gotham's poorest part of town goes about defining her world for herself. From Eisner Award and Caldecott Honor-winning author Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer, Supergirl: Being Super).

Harleen is a tough, outspoken, rebellious kid who lives in a ramshackle apartment above a karaoke cabaret owned by a drag queen named MAMA. Ever since Harleen's parents split, MAMA has been her only family. When the cabaret becomes the next victim in the wave of gentrification that's taking over the neighborhood, Harleen gets mad.

When Harleen decides to turn her anger into action, she is faced with two choices: join Ivy, who's campaigning to make the neighborhood a better place to live, or join The Joker, who plans to take down Gotham one corporation at a time.

Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass is at once a tale of the classic Harley readers know and love, and a heartfelt story about the choices teenagers make and how they can define--or destroy--their lives. 

These are just two of what looks like an amazing set of new graphic novels. I think kids, and even reluctant readers, are going to love these new books! Did I mention that DC Comics provided us with tote bags filled with signed books from the new imprints -- DC Zoom and DC Ink. This DC Comics breakfast was definitely one of the highlights of 2019 Book Expo!

And then it was back to the show room floor for Kathy and me. Book Expo, Day 2, definitely had a more exciting vibe that Day 1; however, it still seemed a little different and less crowded this year. There were definitely less galleys available than in the past; and if you wanted books, you had to wait in lines for autographs or galley drops. Having said that, there were still some great books that I managed to gather including:

SUNNY ROLLS THE DICE by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm

Summary: Too cool for school . . . or the least groovy girl in the grade?

Sunny's just made it to middle school . . . and it's making her life very confusing. All her best friend Deb wants to talk about is fashion, boys, makeup, boys, and being cool. Sunny's not against any of these things, but she also doesn't understand why suddenly everything revolves around them. She's much more comfortable when she's in her basement, playing Dungeons & Dragons with a bunch of new friends. Because when you're swordfighting and spider-slaying, it's hard to worry about whether you look cool or not. Especially when it's your turn to roll the 20-sided die.

Trying hard to be cool can make you feel really uncool . . . and it's much more fun to just have fun. Sunny's going to find her groove and her own kind of groovy, with plenty of laughs along the way.

HOPE PROJECT MIDDLE SCHOOL by Alyssa Milano with Debbie Rigaud

Summary: Meet Hope Roberts. She's 11 years old, and she wants to be an astrophysicist. She loves swimming, Galaxy Girl comic books, and her two rescue dogs.

Hope believes it's always a good day to champion a cause, defend an underdog, and save the future. And most of all, she believes in dreaming big. That's why she's enrolled in all of the advanced classes at her new middle school. She's smart and confident in her abilities. But though Hope seems super strong on the outside, there's another side of her, too. She's just a regular girl trying to survive middle school.

This first book starts with the beginning of sixth grade, and Hope's BFF Sam made some new friends over the summer. Hope doesn't know how to handle it. She and Sam have always been inseparable! Then Hope meets her new lab partner, Camila, and they get off on the wrong foot. And even though Camila is great at science, she doesn't want to join the science club. The club is all boys, and she doesn't feel welcome.

When Hope hears that, she's determined to recruit more girls into the science club, including Camila. Hope knows that sometimes changing the world starts small. So now Hope has a mission! Can she turn the science club into a place that's welcoming for everyone and make some new friends along the way?

Hope's relatability, kindness, empathy, and can-do attitude will inspire a generation of do-gooders. This new series is a response to the very palpable feeling that not only can young people save the world — they will!

THE GIVER OF STARS by Jojo Moyes

Summary: Set in Depression-era America, a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond, from the author of Me Before You and The Peacock Emporium

Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.

The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky.

What happens to them–and to the men they love–becomes a classic drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. Though they face all kinds of dangers, they’re committed to their job–bringing books to people who have never had any, sharing the gift of learning that will change their lives.

Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope. At times funny, at others heartbreaking, this is a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.

NOTHING TO SEE HERE by Kevin Wilson

Summary: Kevin Wilson’s best book yet—a moving and uproarious novel about a woman who finds meaning in her life when she begins caring for two children with remarkable and disturbing abilities

Lillian and Madison were unlikely roommates and yet inseparable friends at their elite boarding school. But then Lillian had to leave the school unexpectedly in the wake of a scandal and they’ve barely spoken since. Until now, when Lillian gets a letter from Madison pleading for her help.

Madison’s twin stepkids are moving in with her family and she wants Lillian to be their caretaker. However, there’s a catch: the twins spontaneously combust when they get agitated, flames igniting from their skin in a startling but beautiful way. Lillian is convinced Madison is pulling her leg, but it’s the truth.

Thinking of her dead-end life at home, the life that has consistently disappointed her, Lillian figures she has nothing to lose. Over the course of one humid, demanding summer, Lillian and the twins learn to trust each other—and stay cool—while also staying out of the way of Madison’s buttoned-up politician husband. Surprised by her own ingenuity yet unused to the intense feelings of protectiveness she feels for them, Lillian ultimately begins to accept that she needs these strange children as much as they need her—urgently and fiercely. Couldn’t this be the start of the amazing life she’d always hoped for?

With white-hot wit and a big, tender heart, Kevin Wilson has written his best book yet—a most unusual story of parental love.

Kathy and I decided that we wanted to get away from the craziness for a little bit. All day at Book Expo is exhausting! So we walked over to the Haymaker for a quick bite to eat and an adult beverage. Kathy is a walking encyclopedia of beer, so I let her pick one for me. It was a nice break but we wanted to get back to see some more books and authors!

Fortunately, we had early evening plans thanks to John Karle, the Associate Director of Publicity at St. Martin's Press. Kathy and I and a few other bloggers were invited to spend an hour at an escape room with the author of THE ESCAPE ROOM, Megan Goldin
We went to Mission Escape Room and I admit it wasn't what I was expecting. We took an old elevator in an old building up to the floor, and the light on the elevator was burned out. I wasn't exactly comfortable with this because of the premise of the book. But it was just an old elevator and my overactive imagination! 

We met some fellow bloggers, which is always fun. And then we learned about our mission (and the rules!) Our mission was called "Escape the Hydeout" -- you can read more about it here. I had a fantastic time and I am proud to say that not only did we finish, but we had over 8 minutes to spare (and one clue left)! I'm not sure what that tells you about a group of book bloggers, but I was seriously impressed with our detective skills!
After we were finished, a few of us (including John and Megan) headed over to District Social for some snacks and drinks. It was pouring down rain so good thing it was close. It was a great bar, one I'd definitely go back to; and I was fortunate enough to sit next to the author! Just by chance, I had already read this book during my vacation to Orlando back in January, so I had a few questions about the book and her writing style. Megan was lovely and I can't wait for the book to be released on July 30th! I haven't reviewed the book yet, but I will say that it's a good one... if a bit terrifying. I can't imagine being stuck on an elevator for hours with my co-workers "playing" as if our lives were at stake!

Summary: Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive. 

In the lucrative world of finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are at the top of their game. They’ve mastered the art of the deal and celebrate their success in style—but a life of extreme luxury always comes at a cost. 

Invited to participate in an escape room as a team-building exercise, the ferociously competitive co-workers crowd into the elevator of a high rise building, eager to prove themselves. But when the lights go off and the doors stay shut, it quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary competition: they’re caught in a dangerous game of survival. 

Trapped in the dark, the colleagues must put aside their bitter rivalries and work together to solve cryptic clues to break free. But as the game begins to reveal the team’s darkest secrets, they realize there’s a price to be paid for the terrible deeds they committed in their ruthless climb up the corporate ladder. As tempers fray, and the clues turn deadly, they must solve one final chilling puzzle: which one of them will kill in order to survive?

As if we didn't have enough fun for one day, we still had one more party to attend. Thankfully it was very close because it was still pouring down rain! (I probably don't need to tell you that I looked like a drowned rat for much of this trip!) I was Kathy's plus one for the Kensington 45th birthday celebration. We went to the 40th party a few years back, and we both remembered it as one of the best BEA parties we had been to. This year's took place at the Canopy Room at Versa. The venue was amazing, but we couldn't fully appreciate it because of the weather.
It was once again a party to remember! There was some delicious food and even a special Kensington blue drink. We managed to mingle with a couple of authors and some publicists, and I have to say that Kensington has some great books coming out this fall!

So that's a wrap for Day 2! I probably don't even need to mention that Kathy and I both were pretty tired and had absolutely no issues sleeping that night!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! I got some fantastic books this week including one wrapped up with a beautiful bow!
THE DREAM DAUGHTER by Diane Chamberlain came from Tandem Literary and St. Martin's

A LADY IN DISGUISE by Lynsay Sands came from Avon Books

WEIRD BUT TRUE! USA came from Media Masters and National Geographic Kids

THE PEACOCK SUMMER by Hannah Richell came from Harper Books

DEATH AND OTHER HAPPY ENDINGS by Melanie Cantor came from Viking Books

STONE COLD HEART by Caz Frear came from Harper Books

HOW DO YOU DANCE? by Thyra Heder came from Alfred A. Knopf BFYR

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Kid Konnection: Build Your Own Theme Park

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 fun book that allows kids to use their imagination to create their very own theme park.

Summary: Get the fun going for makers of all ages with Build Your Own Theme Park with just scissors, glue, and your imagination! The first in a "Build Your Own" series of dynamic, interactive 3D activity books that combine engineering and creativity in an accessible way.

Kids and adults alike will love the creativity and 3D thinking that comes with this paper cut-out theme park. Based on Lizz Lunney’s characters and illustrations, build your theme park from the ticket booth to vending machines, arcade games, food stand, a carousel, a water ride with frogs, and mountain roller coaster. Invent your own ride additions for the park, make it your own, and share it online with #BuildYourOwn. -- Andrews McMeel


LIZZ LUNNEY'S BUILD YOUR OWN THEME PARK is such a great activity for kids this summer! This activity book allows kids to use their STEAM skills (and some paper engineering) to create their own unique theme park. This book contains all of the pieces they need to make rides including a castle, roller coaster, a merry-go-round, train, and more. Just add scissors, glue sticks (or tape), and a little creativity and your child can create their very own masterpiece.


I can guarantee that BUILD YOUR OWN THEME PARK will entertain your child for hours! There are hundreds of colorful pieces to cut out and assemble into 3D versions of theme park attractions. Each little piece is beautifully drawn and colored by Lizz Lunney, and I absolutely love the variety of characters and the little details in her drawings.

I'm not going to lie to you. The cutting out and assembly of pieces requires some patience on the part of your child (and maybe you too!) This book is definitely geared towards older kids rather than younger ones; however, I will say that there are great instructions and helpful hints. The book also has fun text and adorable pictures (like a map of the park) which are entertaining too look at good for generating some ideas.

I'm not sure my review is expressing just how adorable these attractions are once they are assembled. I'll just let this picture do the talking:
LIZZ LUNNEY'S BUILD YOUR OWN THEME PARK is a great activity book that helps to build STEAM skills. 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!