Saturday, May 18, 2019

Kid Konnection: Show Me History! Books



Every weekend, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekly feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a series of books that parents and kids alike will love!

Summary: Considered by many historians to be the greatest American president, Abraham Lincoln led the Union at the greatest turning point in the nation’s history. Abraham Lincoln: Defender of the Union! tells the story of one of America’s most admired figures in graphic novel format. From his childhood on a farm in Kentucky to the battlefields of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln served the United States with resolve, intelligence, and courage unlike that of any other president. Readers of all ages will be entertained and educated by the full-color illustrations and historically accurate narrative of this graphical biography. -- Portable Press

Summary: Alexander Hamilton: The Fighting Founding Father! tells the story of one of the most ambitious and controversial figures in American history in a graphic novel format. From a rough childhood on the Caribbean island of Nevis to the highest levels of American politics, Alexander Hamilton’s life was filled with adventure, conflict, and controversy. Full-color illustrations and an entertaining narrative make this graphical biography of America’s first Secretary of the Treasury accessible for readers of all ages. -- Portable Press

Summary: This graphical biography tells the story of the most prominent leader of the American civil rights movement. With full-color illustrations and a historically accurate narrative, Martin Luther King Jr.: Voice for Equality! will inform and entertain readers of all ages. From his childhood in Atlanta to his rise as an international icon of human rights and a fiery orator who refused to back down in the face of adversity, King’s life story serves as an ongoing source of inspiration. -- Portable Press

Summary: When Amelia Earhart became the first woman to make a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932, she immediately became an American icon and a subject of endless fascination for generations to come. In Amelia Earhart: Pioneer of the Sky!, the story of the bold and daring aviator’s life is presented in graphic novel format, with full-color illustrations and historically accurate details. From her hardscrabble childhood to her final flight—and mysterious disappearance—Earhart’s journey will entertain, captivate, and inspire readers of all ages. -- Portable press

I am so impressed with the Show Me History! series of biographies for readers ages 8 - 12. These books are a winner of the 2019 National Parenting Product Awards (NAPPA), and they are a fantastic way to make learning fun for kids. The four books in the series are ABRAHAM LINCOLN: DEFENDER OF THE UNION! by Mark Shulman and Tom Martin, ALEXANDER HAMILTON: THE FIGHTING FOUNDING FATHER by Mark Shulman and Kelly Tindall, MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: VOICE FOR EQUALITY! by James Buckley Jr. and Youneek Studios, and AMELIA EARHART: PIONEER OF THE SKY! by James Buckley Jr. and Kelly Tindall; and I honestly can't even pick a favorite because they are all so outstanding. These hardcover books are written in a graphic novel format with colorful illustrations, and I think even the most reluctant readers will be drawn to these history books about some of our country's most interesting heroes.

I've read some graphic novel history books in the past and enjoyed them quite a bit, but I think the Show Me History! series has definitely perfected this art. Each of these books provides a brief history of these individuals' lives and accomplishments with fun pictures and few words. Kids will definitely learn the highlights of these people's lives while not being turned off by a long and "boring" biography. In fact, the books' website claims, "It's a time machine you can read!"

In addition to the accounts of history, the end of these books also include some interesting pages that complement the biographies. There are lists of other individuals who were relevant to the specific cause as well as timelines, glossaries, and ways to find out more about these people. I love that these books encourage kids to discover more about these American heroes on their own by providing books, websites, and videos!

I definitely recommend this series to teachers as well as parents because the publisher has made these books ideal for learning. In addition to the approachable format of a graphic novel, they also have made resources readily available to enrich the reading experience. There are reading guides as well as interviews with the creators. There are also sample pages to download:
I highly recommend the Show Me History! series of graphic novels for all school and home libraries.

Thanks to Media Master for providing review copies of these books.

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, May 13, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! It was a quieter book week for me but that's a very good thing! My life is insane between work and home-life and my reading has definitely taken a back burner.

REBEL by Beverly Jenkins came from Avon Books

LET'S MOOOVE! by Courtney Sheinmel and Bianca Turetsky came from Random House Kids

THE SHOW MUST GO ON by Courtney Sheinmel and Bianca Turetsky came from Random House Kids

THE TIGER CATCHER by Paullina Simons came from William Morrow

THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER by Patti Callahan Henry came from Berkley and Tandem Literary

What was in your mailbox?

Monday, May 6, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! It was a huge book week for me! Check out these great books!
DARK STORM by Karen Harper came from Mira Books

THE UNBREAKABLES by Lisa Barr came from Harper Books

ONE SMALL SACRIFICE by Hilary Davison came from Thomas & Mercer

MY LIFE IN SMILEY: SAVE ME by Anne Kalicky came from Andrews McMeel

SILVER MEADOWS SUMMER by Emma Otheguy came from Alfred A. Knopf BFYR

SHRED GIRLS: LINDSAY'S JOYRIDE by Molly Hurford came from Rodale Kids

THE PUMPKIN WAR by Cathleen Young came from Schwartz & Wade


THE SONG OF THE JADE LILY by Kirsty Manning came from William Morrow

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Kid Konnection: We Are (Not) Friends



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

Summary: Two fuzzy friends are having a fun playdate when a new pal hops in. As the day continues, each friend feels left out at times. It isn’t so easy to figure out how to act when everything seems to change. With humor and heart, the beloved characters from Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small navigate a friendship triangle as only they can. -- Two Lions

When my kids were small, it always seemed like there were issues when we had playdates with three kids. Things would be fine when there were two, but when you added that third child to the mix, it seemed like someone was always left out. There were occasional fights and tears, and lots of parent involvement; and I'm sure it was a great learning experience for the kids, but... wow!

So when I picked up the new picture book WE ARE (NOT) FRIENDS by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant, I could totally appreciate the message. This cute picture book, with its three lovable (and furry) characters, teaches children that it's okay to add a third friend to a friendship. Even though it's sometimes awkward to navigate a friendship triangle, these characters learn how to change the way their view their current friendship and include everyone.

As a mom who has lived through many situations like the ones in WE ARE (NOT) FRIENDS, I can't help but think that this book has a great message for little ones. Not only does it show that it's normal to have these feelings when a new friend enters a relationship, but it also shows that you can be open-minded, inclusive and still have fun!

I thought WE ARE (NOT) FRIENDS was a precious book with a great message and adorable furry characters. Highly recommended!

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

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

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Review: Daisy Jones & The Six (Audio)

Summary: Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice. -- Random House Audio

I could barely contain myself when the novel DAISY JONES & THE SIX by Taylor Jenkins Reid showed up in Volumes. I absolutely love Ms. Reid's novels and this one sounded like it was right up my alley. I am not a huge listened of audio books, but I made an exception for this one. The cast was absolutely amazing, and I was hearing some pretty special buzz about the audio version.

DAISY JONES & THE SIX tells the story of the 1970s mega rock band, Daisy Jones & The Six. The band split up when they were the biggest rock band in the country, and no one knew why. This novel, written as an oral history of the band, finally tells that story.

Daisy was a young girl growing up in L.A. in the late sixties. From the time she was a teen, she was sneaking into bars and clubs, sleeping with famous singers, and even dabbling in drugs. She also figured out that she wanted to be a performer. She started to get buzz for her sexy voice, but it didn't hurt that she was absolutely drop dead gorgeous too!

Meanwhile, the band The Six, led by Billy Dunne and his brother, were also getting some attention. Right before the band was ready to head out on their big tour, Billy learned that his girlfriend was pregnant. Billy wasn't quite sure how to handle this news, and he ended up going a little wild. That's actually an understatement. Billy began drinking and doing drugs and actually missed the birth of his first daughter.

When a producer decided to introduce Daisy and Billy, the history of rock music was forever changed. These two had major chemistry... and I don't just mean on-stage! As the band began to gain fame, the bandmates, especially Daisy and Billy, had to deal with many issues and make some difficult choices about the band's and their own future.

I loved, loved, loved DAISY JONES & THE SIX! I felt as if these characters were real, and Ms. Reid brought their stories to life in the very best possible way. I adored both Daisy and Billy and their complicated lives (even though I felt like hitting them upside the head a few times), and I thought the supporting cast was equally well developed. The way the author captured the time period and the dynamics of the band were just so good! I honestly didn't want their story to end... although I admit that I loved how everything was wrapped up.

However, I think what really made this book extra-special to me was the performance of the narrators. I almost can't believe I'm saying this, but I know I preferred the audio version to the written one. This audio book will go down as one of my favorites ever because of performances by Jennifer Beals, Pablo Schreiber, Julia Whelan, and Judy Greer...although every narration was spot on. This was an amazing production, and I'd like to just list the entire cast because it was so special:

Daisy Jones, read by Jennifer Beals
Billy Dunne, read by Pablo Schreiber
Graham Dunne, read by Benjamin Bratt
Eddie Loving, read by Fred Berman
Warren Rhodes, read by Ari Fliakos
Karen Karen, read by Judy Greer
Camila Dunne, read by January LaVoy
Simone Jackson, read by Robinne Lee
Narrator / Author, read by Julia Whelan
Jim Blades, read by Jonathan Davis
Rod Reyes, read by Henry Leyva
Artie Snyder, read by Oliver Wyman
Elaine Chang, read by Nancy Wu
Freddie Mendoza, read by P.J. Ochlan
Nick Harris, read by Arthur Bishop
Jonah Berg, read by Holter Graham
Greg McGuinness, read by Brendan Wayne
Pete Loving, read by Pete Larkin
Wyatt Stone, read by Alex Jenkins Reid
Hank Allen, read by Robert Petkoff
Opal Cunningham, read by Sara Arrington

Book clubs should so read DAISY JONES & THE SIX! I am happy to say that there is an excellent discussion guide with 15 thought-provoking questions. Some of the themes you might want to explore include sacrifice, the role of women in society, drugs, addiction, family, finding one's self, sibling relationships, commitment, faithfulness, and memory. I truly think you could talk about this novel and these characters for hours!

I adored DAISY JONES & THE SIX and highly recommend it to fans of women's fiction!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy on Volumes.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! It was a slow week compared to the past few, but I'm not complaining. I still had a great week and I'm super exchited about TWENTY-ONE TRUTHS ABOUT LOVE!

TWENTY-ONE TRUTHS ABOUT LOVE by Matthew Dicks came from St. Martins Press

WE ARE THE PERFECT GIRL by Ariel Kaplan came from Knopf Books for Young Readers

THE TUBMAN COMMAND by Elizabeth Cobbs came from Arcade Publishing/Skyhorse Publishing

THANK YOU FOR MY DREAMS by HSH Prince Alexi Lubomirski and sons came from Andrews McMeel

UP UP UP DOWN by Kimberly Gee came from Putnam Young Readers

What was in your mailbox?

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Kid Konnection: Kindness Rules!



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 board book that's especially important during these times!

Summary: Manners don’t come naturally to everyone! But did you know that elephants are known for their impeccable etiquette? It’s true! This hilarious guide to good manners offers many fun teaching moments for kids and their parents—it covers all the basics for the preschool set, from saying “please” and “thank you” to sharing and being kind to others. Filled with bright, adorable illustrations in Hello!Lucky’s inimitable style, young children will love learning about manners with this delightful, sturdy board book. -- Abrams

I absolutely love the concept of KINDNESS RULES! by Eunice Moyle and Sabrina Moyle. This little board book teaches manners to little ones in a very fun way... and parents will appreciate it too!

KINDNESS RULES! is so darn cute! While the book definitely has some important messages about how to act in specific situations, it is presented in an adorable way. Check out the picture below to see what I mean -- it's one of my favorite pages.
Magic Manners (a little elephant) is the moral compass in this book. He has great manners and shows kids how to act and be kind. For instance, when Magic Manners meets someone new (or old!), he always says hello. The other characters on the page reinforce that concept with speech bubbles saying "Have a firm handshake!," "Greet people by name," "Introduce yourself," and more.

As you can see, the illustrations are fantastic. Of course, I love Magic Manners. But I also think the supporting cast of brightly colored characters are too cute. There are a lot of characters on each page of this book, so it should keep the attention of even the most reluctant readers.

All in all, I think KINDNESS RULES! is a great book with valuable messages for today's little ones. Highly recommended!

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

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

Monday, April 22, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! I didn't realize how many books came into this house this week until I sat down to write this post. I don't think I had a day with more than two books, but they definitely trickled in. There are some great ones in this stash!
THE TROUBLE WITH VAMPIRES by Lynsay Sands came from Avon Books

SUCH A PERFECT WIFE by Kate White came from Harper

THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO by Christy Lefteri came from Ballantine Books

THE GILLESPIE COUNTY FAIR by Marc Hess came from Saichek Publicity

THIS IS NOT A LOVE SCENE by S.C. Megale came from Wednesday Books

RIGHT AFTER THE WEATHER by Carol Anshaw came from Atria Books

THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU by Liv Constantine came from Harper

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Kid Konnection: National Geographic Kids Almanac 2020


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 the latest edition of a book that I've reviewed quite a few times!


Summary: It's the 10th anniversary of the world's best-selling almanac for kids! This year the Almanac features all-new content, interviews with explorers in each chapter, a special look at what was going on in the world when the first National Geographic Kids Almanac came out 10 years ago, plus the results of the 2019 Almanac Challenge and a new Challenge for kids who want to get involved with helping our planet. Kids can have fun keeping up with our quickly changing world with the New York Times best-selling almanac, packed with incredible photos, tons of fun facts, crafts, activities, and fascinating features about animals, science, nature, technology, conservation, and more. There's a whole chapter full of fun and games, including activities, jokes, and comics. Practical reference material, including fast facts and maps of every country, has been fully updated. Homework help on key topics is sprinkled throughout the book. -- National Geographic Kids

Every year I tell myself that I've already reviewed the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS ALMANAC, yet every year I can't help but feature it again. It really is one of my favorite kids' books (ever), and the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS ALMANAC 2020 is no exception. This is the 10th year anniversary of the publication of the almanac, and the publisher manages to add new things each year and keep it fresh!

The NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS ALMANAC 2020 is a must-have for home and school libraries. There is more information in this book that you can imagine; and somehow, the presentation and content make it so fun to read. Honestly, what's better than an education and entertaining book for kids?

Of course, one of the highlights of the almanac is the photography. It's absolutely amazing and often times breathtaking! You know what I mean if you've ever opened a National Geographic Kids' book. In addition, there are also crafts, fun facts, games, quizzes, comics, jokes, and more! One of my favorite things about the 2020 book is that it provides interviews with real life National Geographic Explorers including a geologist and climate scientist, an anthropologist, a bioengineer, and an underwater photographer.

There truly is something for everyone in this book. The chapters are as follows: Your World 2020, Amazing Animals, Science and Technology, Going Green, Culture Connection, Space and Earth, Fun and Games, Awesome Exploration, Wonders of Nature, History Happens, and Geography Rocks.
There is also a 20/20 Visionary Challenge which asks readers to imagine the world 10 years int he future and to imagine a positive change, invention or discovery that they'd like to see happen. The results will show up in the 2021 Almanac.

I know some kids are going to read this book from cover to cover, while other ones will just page through it and read what interests them. Either way, I think readers will become more socially conscious about the world around us... and that's a very good thing.

The NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS ALMANAC 2020 is a winner. Highly recommended!

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

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

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Review: The Better Sister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 15, 2019

Mailbox Monday

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

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

THE FARM by Joanne Ramos came from Random House

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

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

UNICORN BOWLING by Dana Simpson came from Andrews McMeel

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

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS ALMANAC 2020 came from Media Masters Publicity

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

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Kid Konnection: Hug Me Finger Puppet Books


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 8, 2019

Mailbox Monday

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



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



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


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

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

LAYOVER by David Bell came from Get Red PR and Berkley 

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

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

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Kids Konnection: Max Explains Everything - Soccer Expert


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Review: Run Away

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

You’ve lost your daughter. 

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

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

She runs. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Mailbox Monday

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

THE MUTTS SUMMER DIARIES by Patrick McDonnell came from Andrews McMeel

UNDER THE TABLE by Stephanie Evanovich came from William Morrow

THE BETTER SISTER by Alafair Burke came from Harper

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Kid Konnection: Most Marshmallows


Every weekend, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekly feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a picture book that I've been dying to review because it is such a cute concept!

Summary: Most marshmallows are born into marshmallow families, play with marshmallow friends, and go to marshmallow school where they learn to be squishy. Most marshmallows read a book before bed and then fall asleep to dream ordinary marshmallow dreams. Is this book about most marshmallows? It isn't. Because Rowboat Watkins knows that just like you, some marshmallows have big dreams, and just like you, these marshmallows can do anything they set their minds to. This sweet and silly book is an inspiring reminder that by being true to ourselves each of us can be truly extraordinary. -- Chronicle Books

MOST MARSHMALLOWS by Rowboat Watkins isn't available for another month (the end of April), but I have been wanting to share it with you ever since I got a copy in the mail! This picture book is adorable -- just look at the cover.

MOST MARSHMALLOWS are pretty normal marshmallows. They are born to parents (one or two!), they live in homes, they play with other marshmallows, they go to school to learn marshmallow things, and they even fall asleep and dream about nothing. But some marshmallows secretly know that all marshmallows can do anything or be anything they dare to imagine!

I adore this picture book for so many reasons. First of all, how darn adorable are the illustrations? I can't get over how cute these little marshmallows are. You really have to see this book to appreciate how precious the characters are whether they are dressed as acorns or wearing party hats. I am now a big fan of Mr. Watkins (he also has a pretty cool name too, right? ), and I definitely need to check out his other books including RUDE CAKES which received many starred reviews.

But what I like the most about MOST MARSHMALLOWS is the message -- that even though kids might seem to be just like everyone else, they don't have to be. As long as they stay true to themselves, they have the chance to be something truly special!

I think MOST MARSHMALLOWS is definitely a winner! Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher 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, March 28, 2019

Review: My Lovely Wife

Summary: Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith in this wildly compulsive debut thriller about a couple whose fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting…

Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.

We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have our secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder. -- Berkley

Wow! I picked up MY LOVELY WIFE by Samantha Downing not knowing how seriously twisted this book is. I should have known when the description compared it to Dexter that it would be quite the ride, but I honestly still can't believe the premise of this book! And I'm not sure what this says about me, but I seriously enjoyed it!

MY LOVELY WIFE tells the story of a husband and wife team who prey upon and then eventually kill women. Yes -- you read that right! I don't want to give too much of their backstory away because the reader is (gently -- haha!) eased into their story; but at its simplest, these two people fell madly in love, had kids, and struggled with money issues like any "normal" family. The only difference is that they got bored and found that killing people was exciting for their marriage!

I had such a good time with this novel. The characters are intriguing to say the least, and there are so many plot twists that will keep you not only guessing but totally shocked. I appreciated that the husband (who went unnamed) was the narrator of the story because his voice really added a whole other dimension to this book. It was really interesting to get inside his mind and see how he could be so normal at times and then so absolutely deceptive (i.e. he even pretended to be deaf so he could "get to know" women.)

The dynamics of their marriage and family were also really interesting. On one hand, the were like any upper middle class family -- balancing kids' schedules, making evening dinners, and finding ways to pay the bills. However underneath all of that, they were kind of a mess. Their teenage son kind of figured out that something with his dad wasn't quite right (although he didn't exactly realize the extent of his behavior!), and the younger daughter was a total mess due to the stress of women's disappearances and murders (and she didn't even realize it was her parents' who were responsible!)

Along with the character development, I also really liked the twists in this story. When a few things started to go wrong with the murders, this couple decided that they could outsmart the police. They both worked together (although I'd argue that they both kind of did their own thing too) and set up a man who had been released years ago for some suspicious crimes and subsequently disappeared. Pretty smart, right? I don't want to reveal what happens, but suffice it say, that things didn't go exactly as this husband and wife team planned!

The pacing of the novel is excellent -- this book is definitely a page turner, and I appreciated how the book worked up to its insane ending. Just based on the rest of the novel, I had a feeling that it was going to be a doozy... and it most definitely was. And just when I thought it couldn't get any crazier, it did! Now doesn't that make you want to pick up this book?

As you can tell, I really enjoyed MY LOVELY WIFE. Highly recommended for fans of twisted thrillers!

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

Monday, March 25, 2019

Mailbox Monday

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


ANYTHING BUT A DUKE by Christy Carlyle came from Avon Books

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

THOSE PEOPLE by Louise Candlish came from Berkley

#IMOMSOHARD by Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley came from HarperOne

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Kid Konnection: I Used to be Famous


Every weekend, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekly feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a picture book with a main character that I just love!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I loved WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING and highly recommend it!

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

Monday, March 18, 2019

Mailbox Monday

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

XL by Scott Brown came from Knopf Books for Young Readers

THE GOOD SISTER by Gilliam McAllister came from Putnam


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

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Kid Konnection: Turkey's Eggcellent Easter


Every weekend, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekly feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a picture book that's ideal for preparing kids for upcoming Easter egg hunts!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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